The fiction in particular often carries specific warnings and benefited from the help of beta readers and (in the case of some poetry) co-authors. Rather than trying to recreate this information here, please find it at the archive where the stories are posted. If you've helped me out over the years and I haven't properly thanked you, please let me know so I can correct it. Most of the links point to ArchiveOfOurOwn.org, which I joined several years ago, and while I've done my best to give credit where due, I do know my own limitations in this area and am willing to fix any mistakes.
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The basic idea is that reality or truth is better than illusion. Which seems to close to what "Menagerie” is about at the end of the day - no human would choose the illusion, or should, no matter how pleasant. But that’s where it gets mucky, because in “Menagerie,” they put it explicitly in terms of pleasure. Delusion is tied to captivity pretty closely, and humans are hard-wired to dislike that so intensely, even a very comfortable captivity would be so unpleasant for them, they’d rather die. We choose reality not because it’s better but because we’re somehow hardwired to find it more pleasant.
Which isn’t Plato’s point at all, I don’t think. Maybe the people in the cave are happier than the people out of it, even after they’ve adjusted; they’re still worse off. But how the heck do you make that point - what possible way do we have to compare experiences beyond what’s pleasant to us, what we’d choose? And how do you get a fair comparison? The only people capable of comparing are the ones who know they’ve been deceived, which has to sour how pleasant they find life in the menagerie. The fact we can’t imagine a story that breaks this goodness == pleasantness barrier is a pretty damning criticism to my mind.
Also loved the female first officer in the flashbacks. Didn’t I hear somewhere that Roddenberry wanted to go that route for the main series but the studios nixed hr being a woman and we got Spock instead? There's something ironic there: take away that progressive route, and we get (1) a two-parter starring her anyway, and (2) a biracial character who (3) gave us so much queer subtext the fandom and society at large is still wrestling with it in some fashion or another. The moral arc of the universe is slow, etc.
Though I must say, the way they dealt with ugliness and disability? Kind of turned my stomach. Suppose you can't have it all at once..
But the details don't really matter so much to me. It's that phrase, "true myth," that made my inner philosopher sit up and take notice. Because the idea of theology as myth rather than factual claims is actually pretty interesting. Not sure if the word "true" is the best one here, but it's close. To my mind, "true" means an accurate description of reality. The statement "The American president on September 21, 2016 is African-American" is true if (and only if) there is an American president on that date and he actually is that ethnicity. It almost certainly won't be if we change the year to 2017, and definitely wasn't if we go pack in time to 1916. "Marta likes strawberry ice cream more than chocolate" is true if and only if that's an accurate description of my preferences. Philosophers will quibble over this approach (we call it coherentism). For instance, how do you make sense of ethical claims? Most people would say a sentence like "We ought to help starving people if we can without making someone else (or ourselves) suffer in the process" is true, but it doesn't seem to be describing anything that actually is. It gets tricky when you bring time into it, too. So definitely there's room for debate and fine-tuning but I do think this approach to truth makes a lot of sense, at least in the broad strokes. Certainly it's what most people mean when they talk about truth, or at least a large part of what they have in mind.
The problem is, myth isn't supposed to work like that. It's not really a description of how things are, or even how they'll definitely be at some specific future point. It's like art that way, but with a tie to the good I don't think we can presuppose when it comes to art. Good myths drive us to imagine the best possible world. Take that fascinating Chesterton quote: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” He clearly isn't talking about the literal existence of dragons, or literally slaying them, it's about something metaphorical and the moral lesson that we can master them. It's about imagination and possibilities and the kind of attraction Aristotle thought was so key to building character. You see (say) generosity or courage modeled, you like what you see, you want to become like that person so you try to do the kind of thing you think they'd do, in your situation. Good myths do something similar because they get us thinking in terms of what-ifs, but in a context that's tied to how we ought to be. (I'm not going to sit here and say art can only be good art if it drives home the right moral lesson; good art seems to be doing something else entirely - c.f. Hannibal, to take one example....)
But set that quibble aside. That description of Christian theology as myth is a fascinating one, isn't it? I mean what would theology look like if we were less interested in making specific claims that were true or false, and more interested in opening up the kinds of possibilities that attracted people to some transcendent good. (Or Good, in the Augustinian sense: That which gives all other good things their goodness, the ultimate goodness.) Using language to describe God is an iffy endeavor anyway, for a variety of reasons, youv'e either got to make claims the human mind can't really understand or else they're not going to be sufficient descriptions of God because He's just supposed to be bigger. I never liked the idea that this was all religion was supposed to be about, factual claims the human mind could understand and defend - seemed so stilted, somehow. And myth seems like a much better way of thinking about theology. I'm just not sure what that would even look like.
Feh. Maybe, for all my different influences and my not-so-latent-these-days identification with the Jewish side of my upbringing, I really am very Protestant, which means creeds and factually correct belief. Don't get me started on the irony there. I can't help thinking that article title might have been on to something, even if it was just by accident.
(Btw, I read peoples' responses to my other post. Meant a lot. Still quite ... everything I was when I made that post. But I needed a break and space to play for a bit, so have this musing on an entirely different topic for right now.)
This is just so wrong, and yet...
Honestly not sure whether this is a good or a bad. On the other hand I'm drenched and should be embarrassed, and in Manhattan. But on the other: I just don't care. At all. I don't know these people, and it's not my fault, so just... !@#$ it. Mainly I care because it's a bit chafing.
Off in a bit to see Ghostbusters for the second time inside a week. It's wonderful, so much fun, and clearly this was the role Chris Hemsworth was meant to play because he so obviously enjoys himself Hoping I can laugh as wholeheartedly as I did last time. To kill time I stopped into a Wendy's for a frosty and found they were super-duper on sale (50 cents!) for some reason. So I'm sitting here in my soaked bright-orange blouse and dark-brown bra enjoying it. And I've eaten so much garbage today: hero with the all the bread that means, birthday cake, dollar slice of pizza, now ice-cream and movie popcorn and yet more soda. I'm a pig.
But I'm eating. That's enough of a challenge lately, I'm not going to knock it. And as I'm walking 20-30 minutes each way every day, I probably burn more calories than I used to. I'll survive, I think.
Am kind of digging this writing thing again, to be honest. My hope is the more it beomes normal, the easier it will be to write more fic, and the less introspective I'll be (less trapped in my own head). And hopefully I'll make time to read peoples' blogs around here I miss that, too.
I had a moment of clarity tonight. Old roommate said something more than a bit mean about the way I left the room. Overreaction on substance, and the tone was completely out of line. I was starting to get upset about it, but I really don't have to.
1) I am an adult.
2) Living right against Manhattan. Just one subway stop away. I tend to underappreciate how cool that is.
3) Where they have honest to goodness brick and mortar bookstores open until 11 PM.
4) Also: Steak 'n Shakes.
5) And I have 1500 in the bank even after I paid the rent.
My point is, if I need the nerd equivalent of going out and buying myself a new hat, I am perfectly 100% entitled to do exactly that. Because I'm an adult, and if it harms none...
That's exactly what I'm going to do. It's what I was always going to do, but the knowledge I can is pretty awesome.
(I said funniest, not truest...)
The bad: Okay, this is more funny than bad, in a sardonic laughing-at-the-universe-as-it-laughs-at-y
This is not okay, clearly. But it's also really really funny from a suitable distance.
No "the beautiful" I'm afraid, as I've been working all day and wanted to do this before heading out for the night. But I am very much in the mood for a movie so I'm off to see Ghostbusters. Maybe I'll finally get what all the cool kids have been blathering on about recently?