Monday, November 8, 2010

Bullet holes the size of matzah balls

  • I'm reading a sci-fi book! I never do this. My mom would be proud. The book is Chocky, by John Wyndham (author of The Day of the Triffids, which is about killer sunflowers); it's about a kid who appears at first to have an imaginary friend, but the friend knows things the kid couldn't possibly know; even the parents begin to believe he is "possessed" by a being from another planet. It's both creepy and funny in the British style. Of course, I'm interested in it because it's an adult book about children, my current obsession.
  • There are certain genres, science fiction being one of them, I have never had any interest in, despite the rest of my family liking them. I was always bored out of my pants as a kid, and still am, by almost anything in the following genres (there are always exceptions): sci fi, fantasy, war, martial arts, western, action. Am I missing any? Also comic book adaptations. All of these genres are male-dominated, largely by, for, and about men. Exceptions often caught my interest; for example I love Gone with the Wind which is one of the few war movies that depicts the women's experience of war. It was only within the past year or two that I realized I'm biased against these genres because they're biased against me, and I no longer feel bad about it.
  • First-order self-righteousness is acting smug about not having a TV or not being on Facebook or not eating fast food. Second-order self-righteousness is acting smug about not acting smug about TV or Facebook or fast food (i.e., sneering at people who don't have a TV). I find second-order self-righteousness more obnoxious.
  • When a reading is really good it doesn't feel like a reading, it feels like a performance. My favorite performances this year were by Mairead Byrne and Mark Leidner.
  • The year is pretty much over, right?
  • I am guest blogging for Lucky all this week. About perfume of course! The first post is five of my top picks for fall.

44 comments:

  1. i don't sneer at people who don't have a tv, but i do sneer at people who make a point of telling people they don't have a tv. (would that be third-order?)

    ReplyDelete
  2. and I sneer at people who sneer at people who make a point of that, so I've reached the fifth circle of obnoxiousness until someone else comes along and sneers at me for doing that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. i never liked westerns, action, comic books etc either, mainly because they felt so pointedly meant for, and concerned with, boys. i still don't and don't care, either; i'm still not a boy. and though i see the interest in and significance of many of those types of stories, (and this is by no means an open-shut argument) i don't think anyone should have to feel bad about not liking something that makes us feel shut-out.

    although i am a HUGE gone with the wind fan. like, can quote almost the whole movie, read the book before age 10, HUGE fan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Matt, what you're doing is the second-order self-righteousness described above.

    Jonathan, I am always already sneering.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Carrie, I haven't re-read the book since jr high (it made me sob), but I rewatch the movie every few years. I get pissed when people say it's racist. Like OK, maybe so, but it's also FEMINIST. And I get really excited about that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. but i'm not against people not having tv's. it's the attitude *some* people have that i'm against. the same way i'm not at all against people being vegetarian, or riding a bike everywhere. this is the crucial difference--it's not the *having* or *being* i object to, it's the way *some* people feel *about* their being or having.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That is exactly what I mean about second-order self-righteousness -- being self-righteous about other people's self-righteousness. That's exactly what you're doing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. well ok then. that's all i'm saying. in the end i guess we're all sneering at someone.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Elisa (and Carrie)

    I am a huge sci-fi fan... and am working on writing some sci-fi too that is feminist... but (and I say this with my whole heart)--maybe pick up Octavia Butler for a page or two... especially Dawn... and see how it feels... before swearing off for good.

    yes, I am proselytizing, and no, I never mind when I proselytize when people tell me it's just not for them... but there IS some sci-fi for women... and it IS different than other sci-fi. better.

    K

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi, Kirsten,

    I tried to make it clear that I know there are exceptions ... which is why I'm reading a sci-fi book right now! It's not a feminist book, but it doesn't feel particularly gendered to me. It is also 100% gadget-free. :)

    I would definitely be interested to read YOUR sci fi.

    ReplyDelete
  11. maybe the reason why most sci-fi has been geared toward guys is because it's maybe created by guys who don't know anything about women and are shy and self-conscious around them, and use sci-fi as an escape from their fears.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hate scifi (and fantasy, possibly more so). Never understood why but probably not on feminist grounds.

    I'm sneering at you for blogging about facebook.

    I suspect that whether one finds first (or 3rd, or 5th) order sarcasm more annoying than second (or 4th or 6th) is mostly a function of whether one is on facebook, has a TV, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Agreed, for the most part, but I find second-order self-righteousness annoying even when I don't have first-order self-righteousness on that front. For example: I know someone who is second-order snobby about chain restaurants, as in, he'll *only* eat at them. Or he is at least extremely resistant to non-chain restaurants and must be coerced into eating at them. I am indifferent to chains (I'll happily eat at chains as long as they're vegetarian/gluten-free-friendly) but I still find this attitude ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  14. i see what you mean there. i'm indifferent to both chains and non-chains, so it would be silly to prefer one kind of restaurant over another. (as long as everyone is passing their health code inspections, i approve of good food in any form.) i think i just get annoyed when people go all-or-nothing on anything, since there's usually nothing much to be afraid of on either side.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Right though in this case I think it's the fussiness one minds rather than the self-righteousness. For instance I know someone who won't eat at a bunch of places because he thinks he's convinced he got food-poisoning at them. I'm not that fond of any of these restaurants but I still resent his attitude for practical reasons, though it isn't self-righteousness of any order.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well, some things you have to be "all or nothing" on. You're either on Facebook or you're not. You either have a cell phone (or a TV or a car etc.) or you don't.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Being self-righteous about other people's irrational behavior is A-OK in every instance.

    ReplyDelete
  18. that's true, but your feelings about it don't have to be all or nothing. like, i'm on facebook, but i'm not really into it, and i much respect people who aren't on it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I agree w/ Matt that these are not really all-or-nothing. I'm on facebook and I have a cellphone, but I never call anyone and rarely visit facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Who are these hypothetical people whose feelings are all or nothing? The Unabomber?

    ReplyDelete
  21. More importantly, who cares about the feelings of moderate users of anything? I'm interested in EXTREMES, people! Theoretical limits!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Also, this is not an argument: "Everyone should be on Facebook -- you don't have to use it all the time. I, for example, never use it."

    If some people are on Facebook but never use it, why can't other people just not be on Facebook?

    ReplyDelete
  23. you were talking about them just yesterday, regarding an article about facebook... plus you always talk about the mac vs. pc thing. certainly a lot of all-or-nothings there.

    ReplyDelete
  24. that's not an argument i would make:)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Not being on Facebook, not buying Macs -- these things are all or nothing, like I said. That doesn't mean those people's *feelings* are all or nothing. You're confusing the issues. I don't judge people who *are* on FB or own Macs for those reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  26. sorry for babbling. i'm just being stupid today.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The unabomber is a perfectly good theoretical limit.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Nah, I just think second-order self-righteous people project all-or-nothing feelings onto people who technically opt out of a system. I mean most people who don't have a TV still watch it occasionally (on the Internet, at bars, at the gym, what have you).

    ReplyDelete
  29. Is anybody still the Unabomber for Halloween? Also, did I spell "matzah" correctly? How many ways can you spell that?

    ReplyDelete
  30. I don't really care when people say they have or don't have a tv. I don't care about science-fiction either (except for Doctor Who). I am also an atheist who doesn't care whether you are religious or not. I am however rabidly anti-Republican. Where does that place me on the scale of self-righteousness? (oh, yeah, I also have a Mac, but don't care whether you are using Windows, Mac or Linux. Scratch that. Linux people are obnoxious)

    ReplyDelete
  31. "Matzah (Hebrew: מַצָּה‎), also spelled Matza, Matzoh, Matzo, Matsah, Matsa, and Matze" --wikipedia

    ReplyDelete
  32. Francois, I believe that means you are right.

    ReplyDelete
  33. there are good republicans out there. unfortunately none of them work in government:)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh Elisa--

    didn't think you were being all or nothing about sci-fi... just thought you should know that octavia butler is very --referencing yr post--gone with the wind for sci-fi... (wish she were still alive and publishing)... plus, I never have a chance to sing her praises (the sci-fi men-geek I know find her stuff too, for lack of a better word, invested--while most of the poet-women I know don't have as much of a taste for sci-fi as I wish they had... so I cd gush to them). Peace.

    I am not a fan of the willfully ignorant (repub, dem, faithist, atheist, or palin)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Noted! I'll check out Octavia Butler.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Have to second the idea of sci-fi for women - of the books I loved most as a young girl, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsong, about an abused young girl who runs away and lives with tiny dragon-like lizards, is way up there, and her book Dragonflight is as close as you'll get to "sexy" sci fi for women. I wish they would 'movie-ize' both books. Andre Norton was another favorite, and Ursula Le Guin - she's even more of a heroine now that's I've met her.

    ReplyDelete
  37. John Wyndham also wrote The Midwich Cuckoos, which was made into the movie "Village of the Damned."

    A lot of Harlan Ellison's stories move in the adult-book-about-children territory. His stuff is science-fictiony flavored, though not particularly of the techno-hardware variety, more of the frightening-visions-of-the-human-future variety.

    Some women whose science fiction I've particularly liked are Kate Wilhelm, C. J. Cherryh, and Leigh Brackett. (Brackett was a bit earlier than the other two.)

    The discussion about first- and second- and third-order self-righteousness, etc., reminds me a little of the "six degrees of separation" concept. (I did the math once, and I figured out that I am, in fact, six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon.) ;~p

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'm sure that my in-house science fiction reader would tell you to try Marion Zimmer Bradley, for non-guy-oriented science fiction. I can't tell you if he's right, because I haven't read any of her stuff yet.

    Me, I'm trying to get myself to read something other than murder mysteries and books about food.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Lyle, my mother is very fond of that movie. She used to make me say "We shan't know that for a long time, shall we?" in a British accent.

    ChickenFreak, I recognize that name from my mom's bookshelves at home! Same with the Anne McCaffrey books above. Was never moved to try them as a child, though.

    The classic sci-fi book about a kid is Ender's Game, no?

    ReplyDelete
  40. i'm reading "as she climbed across the table" by jonathan lethem. but i haven't read from it in months, which i guess means it didn't really grab me. it's hard for me to have the suspension of disbelief maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I know I'm coming to the discussion late here, but we actually just watched Village of the Damned. I don't know what is creepier: children from outer space or the fact that all the child-bearing women in town got pregnant after the entire town fell asleep. I'm scared. But I still want to read John Wyndham novels.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Farrah, read Chocky! Then we can have book club.

    ReplyDelete