dreamer_easy: (Default)
"The polls also indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote. And that he might carry all fifty states.

"Well... maybe so. This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it-- that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72

(According to Wikipedia, Nixon carried 49 states and did indeed get the majority of votes from 18-20 year olds.)

dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
Despite all the evils they wished to crush me with / I remain as steady as the three legged cauldron.
— Monique Wittig, Les Guérillères

(My gods, if it were only so!)
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
"This is, in fact, one of the very interesting things about biological investigators. They use the infrequent to illustrate the common. The former they call abnormal, the latter normal. Often, as is the case for [psychologist John] Money and others in the medical world, the abnormal requires management. In the examples I will discuss, management means conversion to the normal. Thus, we have a profound irony. Biologists and physicians use natural biological variation to define normality. Armed with this description, they set out to eliminate the natural variation that gave them their definitions in the first place."
— Fausto-Sterling, Anne. "How to Build a Man". in Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo (eds). The Gender/Sexuality Reader. New York, Routledge, 1997. (This essay blew my freakin' mind.)

This quote is topical given the call by the US Surgeons General to end "corrective" surgery on Intersex infants. The tragic results of John Money's theories about gender are notorious.

dreamer_easy: (Default)
"There are some other, often overlooked ways that many of us can do more to confront our inner Trump—something, anything, that’s just a little bit Trumpish in our habits... Maybe it’s the part whose attention span is fracturing into 140 characters, and that is prone to confusing “followers” with friends... Or maybe it’s the part that can’t resist joining a mob to shame and attack people with whom we disagree—sometimes using cruel personal slurs, and with an intensity set to nuclear. At the very real risk of bringing on the kinds of attacks I’m describing, is it possible that this habit too is uncomfortably close to the tweeter in chief’s?"

(There's a lot more to Naomi Klein's essay Daring to Dream in the Age of Trump, which I commend to progressives (and SF writers), but inevitably this caught my eye. The online "social justice" bullying I often decry is just one subset of the Left's terrible habit of attacking itself instead of its enemies.)

dreamer_easy: (Default)
Reading the March 2016 issue of Australian Book Review on the treadmill and hit the same theme in two unrelated reviews: the intrinsic worth of things.

"[Stanley] Fish feels little need to justify scholarly work by utilitarian standards... Criticism of obscure scholarship and arcane language, he observes, aims at the humanities; similar approaches in economics or engineering get a free pass, because these subjects are presumed to possess instrumental value." (Glyn Davis reviewing Think Again)

"[Nicholas Birns] suggests that it [neo-liberalism] is a synonym for what Australians call economic rationalism - simply put, the valuing of all human effort in terms of money and profit, success and failure... Birns argues that writing - particularly contemporary Australian writing - is one of the last bulwarks against neo-liberal dominance. Imaginative writing... offers ways to 'conceive life differently than merely valuing one another by our financial conditions'." (Susan Lever reviewing Contemporary Australian Literature)

To a list consisting of scholarship in the humanities and imaginative writing, I'd add environmentalism, religion, and human rights as loci for valuing human beings and human work for something other than their dollar value. In the imaginative writing department, science fiction has important work to do, particularly in portraying alternatives to a present and a future we're being sold as inescapable.
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
"The science of automation has surely reached the point where your company could design a machine... that would correct galleys."

"... such a machine would require that the galleys be translated into special symbols or, at the least, transcribed on tapes. Any corrections would emerge in symbols. You would need to keep men employed translating words to symbols, symbols to words. Furthermore, such a computer could do no other job. It couldn't prepare the graph you hold in your hand, for instance."

— Issac Asimov, "Galley Slave", 1941. irl ASCII was two decades away. In the future of US Robots and Mechnical Men it was apparently still a distant dream. :)
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
I'm reading Buchi Emecheta's novel "The Joys of Motherhood", set in Nigeria around WWII, and there's a bit where the white master addresses his 'house-boy' as 'baboon'. She writes:
"his laughter was inspired by that type of wickedness that reduces any man, white or black, intelligent or not, to a new low; lower than the basest of animals, for animals at least respected each other's feelings, each other's dignity."
I've sometimes drawn a comparison between my experience of bullying and what I imagine it must be like to be the target of racism. There are crucial differences: the people who continually, unpredictably chipped away at my soul in high school were not trying to keep a whole class of people* miserable, afraid, and aware of how unwelcome they were; and once I escaped high school, I escaped them**. There's no such merciful exit for the young hijabi, the Indigenous athlete, the Sudanese refugee - all the Australians who have to cope with harassment from the media and in the street on top of systemic racism.

That constant drip-drip-drip is what makes people sometimes suddenly explode over seemingly small insults. I don't know what it's like to live with bigotry day in and day out, but I do know what the drip-drip-drip can do to you. When I read Buchi Emecheta's words, the familiar and infinite rage rose up in me. It's there now, in my chest and arms, almost nauseating. I think she may have been feeling something like the same feeling when she condemned the people who stoop to "that type of wickedness".

* Although there was gender policing involved; I would not have been the only young woman being called a "lemon" for being insufficiently feminine.

** With the exception of the Unpleasantness here in lj, many years ago now, which forced me to deal with the damage from high school - as well as requiring me to broaden my horizons, which led directly to the discovery of Emecheta, now one of my favourite authors.
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
"The white cat symbolizes the silvery moon prying into corners and cleansing the sky for the day to follow... All dark, hidden places and beings are revealed in that inexorably gentle light. You can't shake your white cat because your white cat is you. You can't hide from your white cat because your white cat hides with you."

— William S. Burroughs, "The Cat Inside"
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
Fay Weldon, writing in 2002, on the suicides of Sylvia Plath (1963) and Assia Wevill (1969): "How could it happen, today's young women ask, in bewilderment? How could women see their lives only in terms of being loved or not loved by a man? The times were against them, so the times had to change. And so they did."

Russell T. Davies, in a 2016 interview about his adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream: "For example, in the original script, all the women at some point refer to killing themselves. 'But I refuse to transmit those lines now. In 2016 I'm not having lovelorn women say they'll kill themselves. I'm not putting that on BBC1; I absolutely refuse. Because I hope young girls will be watching this, and I don’t think it's an appropriate thing to say – 'I love you so much, if you don't love me I'll kill myself.' I think that's untransmittable, I'm not having it.'"
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
Steven Moffat, in The Guardian, of Doctor Who:
"Young people watching have to know that they have a place in the future. That really matters. You have to care profoundly what children's shows in particular say about where you're going to be. And we've kind of got to tell a lie: we'll go back into history and there will be black people where, historically, there wouldn't have been, and we won't dwell on that. We'll say, 'To hell with it, this is the imaginary, better version of the world. By believing in it, we'll summon it forth.'"
This explains the crowds in The Magician's Apprentice and The Woman Who Lived, which we've recently rewatched; both were as diverse as any scene in modern urban Britain. However, the presence of non-white people in Mediaeval Essex or the Commonwealth of England, and throughout Britain's history, is not a lie; it's just not a well-known fact. Those recent scenes may exaggerate the numbers, but the new show has long made a point of including some non-white characters in historical European settings.

Here's a few thoughts:

White and Black aren't the only colours; how about mixing it up a bit with more South Asian / Desi actors, more Chinese British actors, more actors with a Middle Eastern background, etc.

How about historical settings outside British / European history?

And historical settings in Britain and Europe in which non-white people were prominent; for example, the 1920s, amongst Chinese immigrants in Liverpool or Black Americans in Paris?

I was impressed by the acknowledgement of Black Britons in Shakespeare's time in The Shakespeare Code, but in her essay for "Doctor Who and Race", Fire Fly pointed out that the issue of race is quickly swept under the carpet. It would be really interesting to see a story which tackles racial issues more directly - not just to tut-tut at the past and by implication congratulate ourselves on being more enlightened, but as plot points in an adventure story: there are places you can't go, people you can't talk to, things you can't do, because of who you are and where and when. This could be done by dropping the Doctor into a setting where white people are unusual and/or unwelcome - such as Japan in the time of the Sakoku Edict. Bonus points for comparing historical racism to modern racism.


Mar. 26th, 2016 02:54 pm
dreamer_easy: (*writing 7)
"Poetry... is a matter of space on the page interrupted by a few well-chosen words, to give them importance. Prose is a less grand affair which has to stretch to the edges of the page to be convincing." — Fay Weldon, Auto da Fay
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
I'm reading Judith Butler's essay "Imitation and Gender Insubordination". You know the thing where it's actually difficult to pin down the definition of "sex", ie "male or female" - do we count anatomy, chromosomes, genes, hormones, psychology, or what, when all of these have variations which aren't simply "male or female"? She's just pointed out that the same is true for sexuality:

"If a sexuality is to be disclosed, what will be taken as the true determinant of its meaning: the phantasy structure, the act, the orifice, the gender, the anatomy?"
Mind: blown. (This is going to be true for every identity, isn't it!)

ETA: "To argue that there might be a specificity to lesbian sexuality has seemed a necessary counterpoint to the claim that lesbian sexuality is just heterosexuality once removed, or that it is derived, or that it does not exist... the negative constructions of lesbianism as a fake or a bad copy can be occupied and reworked to call into question the claims of heterosexual priority." Holy frickle frack!!!

ETA: "Which version of lesbian or gay ought to be rendered visible, and which internal exclusions will that rendering visible institute? ... Is it not a sign of despair over public politics when identity becomes its own policy, bringing with it those who would 'police' it from various sides?"

That kind of sums up Butler's whole argument, I think - that resistance to bigotry which is based on categorising people can end up reinforcing the original categories and, ultimately, the resulting bigotry. Her remark about "which version of lesbian or gay" makes me think of some stuff I've been reading recently about how male homosexuality is integrated, at least partially, into cultures around the world - lots of similarities, lots of differences. She means "which version from Western or US culture", but the examples from different cultures highlight the fact that there's no single "gay".
Butler, Judith. Imitation and Gender Insubordination. in Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, David M. Halperin (eds). The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. New York, Routledge, 1993.


May. 7th, 2015 02:28 pm
dreamer_easy: (*gender)
"I think part of the problem is that people are frustrated that they want to see more women, doing more things, in superhero movies, and because we don't have as many women as we should yet, they're very, very sensitive to every single storyline that comes up right now."
Mark Ruffalo on criticisms of writer Joss Whedon for Avengers: Age of Ultron, which have ranged from thought-provoking to an outright torrent of abuse on Twitter (where else?). (Mark's too generous IMHO; sisterhood kills sisters. Happily, Whedon says he has always copped it on Twitter and that his decision to depart was because he's trying to focus on work.)


Apr. 20th, 2015 04:43 pm
dreamer_easy: (*writing 7)
Pohl also refers to his daily "regime of defacing four pages of clean paper with writing". :)
dreamer_easy: (*ZOMG!!)
Cheeky SMH columnist John Birmingham, suggesting that Tony Abbott's parade of gaffes are a deliberate distraction tactic:

"While many of the permanently appalled whom the ABC's Chris Uhlmann refers to as 'Twitter bedwetters' were busy soaking the doona over lifestyle choices, Abbott was able to scrape off the barnacle of his disastrous Medicare co-payment, and quietly reintroduce assistance for the car industry."
I'm not so sure about "Twitter bedwetters" (Uhlmann was excusing himself for saying Scott Morrison was "quite a nice guy" in person - of course he is, he's a successful politician), but the phrase "the permanently appalled" so painfully skewers that portion of the online social justice movement prone to shallow, noisy kneejerks instead of the harder work needed to actually change things. To be fair, we're all guilty of it from time to time. Maybe we should be less easily angered and more horribly suspicious.
dreamer_easy: (*books 3)
As the Wall fell, East Berlin's meticulous secret police went into a tailspin: "Stasi officers were instructed to destroy files, starting with the most incriminating - those naming westerners who spied for them, and those that concerned deaths. They shredded the files until the shredders collapsed. Among other shortages in the east, there was a shredder shortage, so they had to send agents out under cover to West Berlin to buy more. In Building 8 alone, members of the citizens' movement found over one hundred burnt-out shredders. When the Stasi couldn't get any more machines, they started destroying the files by hand, ripping up documents and putting them into sacks. But this was done in such an orderly fashion - whole drawers of documents put into the same bag - that now, in Nuremberg, it is possible for the puzzle women to piece them back together." — Anna Funder, Stasiland
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
The introduction to Melissa Raphael's 2000 book Introducting Thealogy naturally talks a lot about the body and the embodiment of experience, by contrast with the disembodied abstractions of traditional religions for which the body and especially the female body are profane: "the female body is sacred; it incarnates the Goddess to such a degree that sacred space is simply that which the body's being-there sacralizes"; it can be "celebrated and revered" "as a part of that divine female body which is the earth or nature itself".

These are familiar ideas, but the sentence that struck me hard was this: "The well-being of bodies becomes a sign of the health of their spiritual, political and ecological environment."

Imagine a world based on that value system - one where the well-being of bodies (and minds, as Raphael makes clear) is the goal and the measure of a culture or society. The more you think about it, the more staggering it becomes, the more institutions it consumes - pollution, bombs, detention centres, hospital queues, addiction, clean water, guns, homelessness, even junk food - the list just goes on and on. This could not be a world in which society decries sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, and simultaneously tolerates them.

I am powerfully reminded that, despite criticism that Goddess feminism is a distraction from "real" politics, it is in fact profoundly political.
dreamer_easy: (*cosmic code authority)
"To say that the world is entirely comprised of combinations of one hundred or so elements does not in any way deny the infinite multiplicity of all the things in the world, nor does it produce a set of bloodless generalizations. This is because the manifest, diverse phenomena of the world have been reduced to a lowest common denominator, which then becomes the basis for a set of lawful and regular rules of transformation that indeed are capable of generating everything in the world, and of actually producing new things."
— Paul Roberts, The Tibetan Symbolic World: Psychoanalytic Exploration (quoted in John C. Wood, When Men Are Women: Manhood among Gabra Nomads of East Africa)
dreamer_easy: (snow kate)
I finished reading The Great Mirror of Male Love, a 1687 book by Ihara Saikaku. It's about the fashionable "way of boy love", in which an adult man took an adolescent as his lover. Many of the stories are about samurai, so as you might imagine there are plenty of duels to the death. One young man, unable to get rid of a proud suitor who won't take no for an answer, agrees to fight him. But first, he writes a hilariously peeved letter to his older lover listing all of his grudges against him, which includes stuff like this:

"Next: Last spring, I casually wrote the poem 'My sleeves rot, soaked with tears of jealous rage' on the back of a fan painted by Kano no Uneme in the pattern of a 'riot of flowers'. You took it and said, 'The cool breeze from this fan will help me bear the flames of our love this summer.' How happy you made me! But shortly it came to my attention that you gave the fan to your attendant Kichisuke with a note across the poem that said, 'This calligraphy is terrible.'"
(Unlike many of the stories in the collection, this one has a happy ending! :)
dreamer_easy: (*feminism)
This is a series of comments I made recently on Facebook which I wanted to share (lucky old you!). The context is the Daily Telegraph's recent "Slouchhats and Slackers" front page regarding the Disability Support Pension.


"Look, and I have to make this comparison - during World War II Australians actually fought against a regime that killed people with disabilities claiming they were useless people and a drain on the public purse and it is a great insult to Australia's veterans to be making those kinds of comparisons at this particular time." - Craig Wallace, President, People With Disabilities Australia


An op-ed in today's SMH goes into more detail about what advocates say is the main reason disabled people go on the pension - the difficulty they have in finding employment.


On a personal note, that opinion piece links to the original Daily Telegraph article and the attached editorials. The Tele claims, with no evidence, that people are faking mental illness so they can receive the disability pension, which is higher than the dole.

Half of disabled Australians live in poverty. If I didn't have the extraordinary good fortune of a supportive husband and family, I would probably be one of them, as my physical and mental illnesses make it difficult for me to work. We spend hundreds on my many medications, and next year meds, doctor visits, and medical tests will all cost more.

The Tele is basically saying that people like me deserve to starve. I felt a bit badly about posting that quote yesterday, reminding us of just who Australia's "slouchhats" fought during WWII, since it's pretty provocative, but tbh I am so furious at the attitude of the newspaper and the party they serve that I can barely express my rage. The quote will have to do it for me.


Some other useful links which were posted during the discussion:

Just How Wrong Is Conventional Wisdom About Government Fraud?: "Entitlement programs, from food stamps to Medicare, don't see unusually high cheating rates -- and the culprits are usually managers and executives, not 'welfare queens.'"

"It is sometimes suggested that many people on the DSP [Disability Support Pension] do not have genuine disabilities... However, Centrelink [the government agency which handles welfare] has put in place increasingly sophisticated measures for detecting fraud and undisclosed changes of circumstances for all welfare benefits. There have been relatively few cases of convictions for fraud involving the DSP (though it is a difficult task if impairments have no easily observable physical manifestations)... It therefore appears that most people on DSP have significant impairments that genuinely affect their employment prospects." That comes from a 2011 inquiry by the Australian government's Productivity Commission (Appendix K).

I found a very interesting opinion piece which gives some of the reasons the number of disability pensioners (ie people on welfare for disability) has risen: our ageing population, plus "the inaccessibility of services for people with a disability; improved identification of disabilities such as mental illness; lower mortality rates after accidents; a decline in number of low-skilled jobs and a lack of employer support for people with disabilities."


dreamer_easy: (Default)

September 2017

34567 89
10 11 1213141516
17 1819 20212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 06:13 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios