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.
( Read more...Collapse )
Not sure how long I'll keep this up, but I also hope it won't be a one-day thing. So...
1 - The bad: S. never got around to paying the Optimum bill, so they cut off service this morning. This was slightly more than an inconvenience since it meant anyone calling the clinic was told just that. But the big problem was what it seemed to represent to all of us, and it set off a wave of frustration at how the place was being mismanaged. Pretty toxic, actually.
2 - The good: I saw a doctor this Saturday who told me my broken toe is healing, but I was putting too much stress on the tendons around it and I had to wear shoes with better support. (I'm diabetic, so it's a bit dangerous to buddy-tape the actual toe.) So I went out and bought black trainers with a very thick bottom, but they have thee super-long laces that keep coming untied. Meaning he's effectively put me in more danger of exactly the same kind of accident.
This is beyond hilarious to me, for some reason.
3 - The beautiful: this really intensely beautiful fan theory that Captain America was supposed to be kind of a Golem. I was blown away.
(I'm going to try not to get too pedantic here. Would love folks' thoughts of course. But I'm a philosopher talking about philosophy, so it may well be a losing battle...)
Barkman defines philosophy as thinking seriously about something. I think I get what he's driving at, but he also takes it too far very, very quickly. I'm too lazy to dig out my copy so paraphrases will have to suffice, unfortunately. He then goes on to say that Tolkien Lewis are philosophers of mythology because in addition to writing both did quite a lot of serious thinking on what counted as myth, what made or good myth, all of that. Focusing on JRRT (because my knowledge of Lewis is really scandalously slim!), I'll grant you that in "On Fairy Tales" or some of his letters he probably is doing philosophy. He's trying to define and discuss it and give other people good reasons to go along with what he's saying. But speaking as a writer, it's really very hard to write well without thinking seriously about what you're writing. JRRT's trying to create (or re-create, or sub-create) a British mythology. That's part of good world-building. But certainly philosophy means something more than that? Seems too broad to be useful, and pretty insulting to people who don't think of themselves as doing philosophy to boot. (As if a musician or a particle physicist wasn't also thinking deeply about his art/science!)
So let me be a good philosopher and try to do better. As a first step: philosophy means doing serious thought about some subject - philosophically. Which is really horribly circular because it doesn't get us any closer unless we already know what philosophy is. Adding -ly does worse than nothing here. But what it gets at, I hope, is that philosophers don't have the market cornered on serious thought. We're one type of serious thought, done through a certain method.
Next natural question: what does it mean to think (or do anything) philosophically? I'm not going to try to define something humans have been doing for 2,500+ years now, but I'd say most philosophy includes:
1) Identifying a belief hat philosophers would describe as epistemologically virtuous - true, correct, the kind of thing we ought to believe/hope for/have faith in/etc. That kind of thing.
2) Working out in detail why it is good (etc.) to believe (etc.) this thing to be true. Typically this is through writing it out, but I suppose it could take other forms. Important thing is, you're working out the kind o things that should convice any unbiased person - reasons, arguments, etc.
3) Sharing #2 with other people in a way that allows dialogue. Typically this means trying to convince someone you're right, and actually taking it seriously when they explain why they aren't convinced.
Let's put this in fandom terms. Anyone can enjoy Johnlock fanfic. The writer has to think seriously about what that would look like, but the reader doesn't actually have to believe Doyle Mofftiss etc. meant for John and Sherlock to be getting it on - someone who doesn't buy into that can still enjoy a well written Johnlock fic. (I read Sherlolly the same way - not my read of canon but I can certainly enjoy it when done well.) Writing Johnlock meta is a big step closer: here you're explaining why you believe the Sherlock plot will end with John and Sherlock as a romantic couple, or why it should, or why it's good to hope for that even if it will never happen, something along those lines. There's a definite belief, and you're trying to explain why open-minded people should agree.
But that's really just apologetics, making the case for your belief. Philosophy really starts when another fan who thinks Sherlock is asexual and John happily married to Mary comes along, you talk and actually hear each other, and you come to some kind of an agreement (maybe a happy middle, maybe one convincing the other to change her mind). (Worth saying: sometimes it's a long game. I've got friends who've explained why they disagreed with some meta and I've not always responded, we've not always reached quick and tidy agreement but I've mulled over what they said and often over my months at least some of their points make it in to my own beliefs. That's philosophy, too.)
The point is: philosophy is one part making your case, one part actually dialogueing with someone and reacting to that in a productive way. There's a method here. It doesn't look like the scientific method, or the typical creative cycle, but it's a method nonetheless. When JRRT talks about what myths are and actually hopes to convince people, or better yet, perfect his ideas through their feedback, that's philosophy. But when he's actually myth-making, he's doing something else entirely.
Back to the other thing that prompted this: the Times' piece. The author points out that philosophy is very white, and he thinks if we're not going to correct that the least we can do is rebrand it as American and European Philosophy. And... well, I have quibbles with the name, and with the idea that Plato and Aristotle (let alone Augustine) would be counted as Europeans in their day, let alone that American philosophy is at all respectable in terms of philosophy's history, but the basic idea? I can get behind it really easily. Philosophy is hostile to folks who don't come with a certain experience set most common in white men. And the curriculum is definitely old and melanin-deprived.
Thing is, the "white" thing is a bit misleading as I said. The real issue is privilege and power. (Europe, nevermind America, is not synonymous with these things.) And the bigger problem: or a variety of historical reasons, I don't see a lot of non-western voices taking part in the same dialogue philosopher are talking about. Sometimes we don't have enough surviving source materials. Sometimes we don't have the training to parse them like they were meant (Lao-Tzu seems more poetry than nonfiction to this westerner, though I'm not sure that distinction translates all that well). And part of it is we westerners talk about "Indian philosophy" the way we never would "German philosophy" - it's almost anthropology, not really digging into the specific writings of specific figures so much as a broad discussion of that culture's beliefs and values and approach to life, as if anything is that neat and unified.
But the biggest problem for me is Lao-Tzu wasn't in dialogue with Socrates, either directly or through the work of later minds. Sure, we can force them into conversation, but that always seems a bit reductive to me - you're either taking Lao-Tzu somewhere he never intended to go, or else you're only focusing on the part that's relevant to what westerners have been interested in. Not saying non-western philosophy can't be enlightening (look at the free will debate and the way a lot of people use what they call Indian philosophy to reframe the problem of determinism) - but it seems more than a bit racist to say non-western philosophy is only interesting because it solves western philosophy's problems.
Yet I don't have a better answer. In practice, (western) philosophy is where the spotlight is.
Anywho. It's 1:43. I apparently still have some passion and Thoughts (TM) here, but I also have another ghastly workday in front of me. Meaning the path of wisdom probably leads to my pillow just now.
So this is actually happening. I have signed a lease. Bought a bed, and various other house things. Tonight, signed up for internet. And I'm looking at moving at some point this weekend.
I don't even know how to even, if I can borrow a Tumblr phrase. I know, it's not *that* different, and I always liked the prospect of moving better than actually living somewhere. Still, this is a bit exciting.
Imrahil followed his new liege-lord into the chamber, holding himself a step back from the dais. He locked his eyes on the tapestries hung close around them as if for warmth, or the Great Throne just visible behind them, or even on Halbarad, Aragorn’s kinsman, who held such a firm grasp on the other man’s attentions. In truth, Aragorn could not look away, though he had just a strong enough grasp on himself to keep from reaching out.
For his part, Imrahil counted the Haradric spear-tips at Halbarad Halbelegsson’s feet (twenty-seven), noted the plain oaken staff in his hand he recognized as the one that had borne the king’s standard up from Ethring. Anything not to look at the other man of the north laid out just to his left in the clean woolen tunic of forest-green.
There would be time for that later. He would swear to it, if he had anyone at hand he could burden as witness. He would make the time. For Théoden, his cousin and his friend, he would find it. Even in days as full as those were sure to be.
But Imrahil knew, even then, that he needed more than memory and memorializing – he needed wise words from lips still warmed by brazen breath. (The familiar cadence that had come so naturally to Théoden’s folk clambered in his head, and Imrahil felt his breath catch.) This Halbarad had brought Hope to Gondor, but he’d sailed in on Corsair ships – ships whose previous owners held on to a special hatred for Dol Amroth. And their oath to Sauron would only bind them so well. It was all too likely they’d sent their sister ships to harry Imrahil’s folk before they ever made their way up Anduin. And of course Imrahil had dispatched messengers that very evening, to gather some word of the son he’d left behind to rule in his place, but it would be long days before word reached him, even if they met Amrothos’s own messengers on the road.
By the stars, how he longed for his friend’s hand clapped around his shoulders, his strong grasp on his forearm. But Denethor was dead, and Finduilas and Boromir, and the healer’s were laying even odds on whether Faramir would join them by the night’s end. And now Théoden? Imrahil bit at his lip, and fixed his eyes on the tapestry before him, on Castamir’s ships beneath their black sails turned south by Eldacar’s warriors with their bright-tipped spears, as he tried to allow his duties subsume him.
Later, days later, he made his way to the Houses of Healing, a small wooden parcel tucked under his paige’s arm. He’d endured interminable planning sessions with Éomer and Aragorn, Húrin and Gandalf and others besides; and, in much more useful endeavors, saw to the provisioning of his swan-knights and visit his own wounded in the hospital set up in the abandoned marketplace, down in the Fourth Circle. He’d stopped in to see Faramir twice in that time, found him sleeping but breathing more easily the first, and with the high flush of fever all but gone by the second. If some inquisitive ward-nurse were to ask, he could just claim he was there for a third visit.
Not that any would be so bold. Nor would it explain the parcel in young Harthor’s care.
No; it was a gift, and a relic – a talisman, some would say. It was a game of strategy, with knights and captains and clerics carved in white and black, cleverly fashioned to stick in slots so a soldier or mercenary could fold up the game and carry it with him. It was hardly so fine as fine as the one Ecthelion and Denethor had played on (a beautiful gift from a Haradric emissary, that, from a time when such diplomatic exchanges still happened), not worthy of a prince perhaps, but a prized possession nonetheless. Théoden had sold a colt and bought two sets off a trader from the South, one of the last who still ventured into Pelargir, one of the last who still ventured so far north; and he’d given one to Imrahil as a birthday-gift, the summer before Thengel had moved his family back to Rohan. To Imrahil’s hope this board was – had always been – a last gasp of hope before war tore it away, the audacious hope that battle might play out with ivory rather than flesh.
A fool’s hope, he told himself with a bitter laugh. Yet Mithrandir had used that phrase often enough; and that wizard had brought his nephew back to him, not once but twice and against all odds. So perhaps not so foolish after all.
In his pocket was Théoden’s last move, found scrawled on a piece of flint in his saddle-bags: king’s knight to C7. And in his mind, a ploy of his own: Éomer had seemed weary beyond endurance at their last council-session, and was sure to be asleep, but his sister perhaps would be tired of her bed and welcome a distraction. She’d known him better than Éomer had – better than any that still lived – and knew too the trials of waiting on news. And perhaps she’d learned the game, too, from her uncle if not from the grandmother who’d once tutored them both.
C7 was a foolish move, easily countered, so much so that he’d wondered what long game Théoden had been plotting. Still, as a gambit it might serve to tease something out of this kin he’d never before met. Or perhaps that was a fool’s hope thrice over. He supposed only time would tell; and until he was proven wrong, he’d take that chance.
Note the First: To my knowledge, there’s nothing in canon about Morwen Steelsheen’s background. I’ve always loved the idea that she was somehow related to Imrahil’s family.
Note the Second: In addition to being a literally true description of the situation, I had a bit of Trek in mind with the title: “Shaka, when the walls fell.” Those of you well-versed in Trek lore may revel in our shared geekiness.
Anyone care to prompt me? I'd really like the structure and the challenge just now. Tolkien or Sherlock or pretty much anything else okay.
The new place is a shared 2BR down in Mott Haven - the Bronx, but really gentrified Bronx, basically a part of Harlem culturally. I have a private bath and half the kitchen + a backyard with a garden. It's actually within walking distance of both work and Harlem proper, and the layout basically splits the place in half so I think it's as close to an efficiency as I can actually get. Which even on my salary would have been really tight.
I really hope this is a place I can feel like I'm home. THe current place just isn't.
The ... maybe not equally big news, but big nonetheless, is that my owie from this weekend is actually a fracture. I tripped over some homeless guy's duffel piled up against the side of a building in Manhattan, fell straight on my face, and turned my big toe inside my shoe badly enough I somehow fractured one of the bones. I was told which one but can't remember. Trouble is, I'm diabetic, so buddy-taping is dangerous, and it's not bad enough to justify any kind of casting or whatever. Meaning the only thing left is to just ice, rest, and push trough the pain. He wouldn't even prescribe proper pain meds because, you know, I have a job I can't take off time during the day so was stuck doing this at an after-hour emergency care center where there's not the trust and relationship you'd have with a normal GP and they probably see more dru-seeking behavior. Objectively it's not a particularly bad break. But it does hurt, badly.
Fannish, I've got nothing. Well, very little. Watched the latest Star Trek and I continue to not connect with the reboot. Just doesn't feel like Trek, I guess, though it's a good summer adventure. Thinking of the clinical aspects of the new Sherlock trailer quite a lot. More or may not have read smoking hot vampire!Sherlock PWP the other day and had it more on m mind than I should have. But mostly, it's a passing thought, and most passing thoughts are taken up with American politics which is, frankly, depressing and frightening at the moment. Am missing Tolkien stuff, but in a non-specific way rather than an actual drive to connect with the fandom somehow.
So that's me. Now I must sleep, and do it all over again in a few hours
Weekend before last at the a Tolkien conference, I got to sit in on an interesting talk on LOTRO, and it was really a sideline that grabbed my attention. We were talking about how in the game you could play as orks if you like, but how they were always dark-skinned (whereas playing as one of the free folk, most characters had white-skinned avatars but you could also choose a darker skin). Ergo Racism.
I actually wanted to dig into something a bit different. Tolkien's orcs aren't just baddies, they're cannon-fodder, pretty well defined by how indistinguishable they are. Playing as an individual orc, just with that fact alone, seems like a pretty big change from Tolkien's world to me. The question is, is this a criticism of the game, or either. Given the reality of war, is separating out from something that treated sentient, oppressed individuals as a blob of others a bad thing? Even as we're talking about fan works that are supposed to be living in that environment?
Would welcome thoughts here ..