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Impediments to World Domination

About Mostly Inadvertent Offences

Previous Entry Impediments to World Domination Feb. 27th, 2009 @ 03:49 pm Next Entry
I had a pretty long and involved dream last night wherein, driving in the evening, I spotted a nice looking young woman and offered her a ride. She got in the car, and we flirted, but she never seemed to be particularly interested in me, the conversation, or her surroundings. We stopped at my friend Tim's place, where she walked away to talk to his sister--apparently they knew each other, and neither seemed very surprised by how she'd gotten there.

Tim was doing something in another room, so I was just kind of hanging around his house when I saw a massive raccoon in the backyard--it was just slightly smaller than one of the gargoyle dogs in Ghostbusters and its fur was very dirty and big patches of it were missing, revealing pale, beige flesh underneath.

Raccoons seem to be taking on a monstrous quality for me lately--first there was The Montauk Monster, which many people have speculated is a raccoon. Then I heard a story on The Howard Stern Show about a drunk guy in Russia who tried to fuck a raccoon only to have his genitals torn off by the little animal--I can't say I blame the creature. I've always heard raccoons can actually be pretty dangerous beasts and that they have very sharp teeth and bad tempers.

I saw a couple of raccoons outside the house a couple weeks ago stealing into a sewer drain, so maybe that's why I was thinking of them, too. Anyway, in the dream, the raccoon got inside Tim's house somehow, and I started taking pictures of it as it waddled about. I was trying to avoid it, and it seemed it might be trying to get at me while inspecting everything it walked past, in the way animals do. But I tried to carefully plot photos. Somehow one picture ended up with two children standing behind the raccoon; an alien child in a cartoonish space suit and a human child in fuzzy grey mouse pyjamas.

I had a flask of Johnnie Walker with me--which is odd, because I don't particularly like Johnnie Walker, but maybe that explains I wasn't as afraid as I ought to've been. I remember trying to find one of Tim's Japanese swords to fend it off, and I think there was a fight. I remember at one point the raccoon had me pinned to the ground but I managed to use one of the swords, sheathed, to shove it off me. I woke up before the battle was resolved, but I seem to remember Tim thought I was more afraid of the raccoon than I ought to have been.

Maybe it's Bears I need to worry about--I seem to have gotten myself banned from another live journal, this time that of author Elizabeth Bear (matociquala). Here's the conversation that did it.

I don't mind being banned in this case. Halfway through the discussion, I'd decided to avoid Bear's journal from then on, but people kept replying to me, and I just can't resist getting the last word. I avoided mentioning the conversation yesterday because I thought a lot of people talking to me would be embarrassed by their comments once they cooled down, but I don't think that's in the cards. I've seen people rally around the nucleus of a clique before with ludicrous arguments, but this was nothing sort of astonishing. What began as a pretty innocuous conversation between me and Bear wherein I asked her about the feminist literary critical term "male gaze" rapidly devolved into people discussing my poor etiquette for not googling it and even accusing me of deep-seated, sexist arrogance for not googling the term. I found it nearly impossible to take the conversation seriously, especially as the people I was talking to took it more and more seriously. I made a joke about putting a saddle on Bear and striking her with a riding crop whenever I wanted a definition for a word, which I ought to have known would have sent these people into fits, but I was being too much of a goon at that point. One guy (or gal) actually accused me of treating people like beasts of burden. I've rarely come across such an irony challenged group of people. I referred to myself as "the secret world king" at one point, and I'm pretty sure people thought I was serious.

I so don't mind being banned from that journal. I only read it occasionally, and Bear seemed to have a lot of pent up resentment for me I didn't quite understand--probably having something to do with a conversation we'd had wherein I'd thought people were perhaps being a little too bloodthirsty about the incident where Harlan Ellison grabbed Connie Willis' breast. I guess it was probably pretty lazy of me to even continue reading the journal, especially after I wasn't tremendously impressed by her work and she'd been a dick to my friend Moira (hernewshoes). I guess I had some vague idea of making inroads in the modern society of fantasy literature. So much for that plan.

I watched the seventeenth episode of Battlestar Galactica, which was a pretty sad specimen of allegory. Just about every character had a completely new identity for the episode--Adama became a thoughtless tyrant, Baltar became a hero to the working man--even for guys who'd gone on strike against his government on New Caprica--and Roslin became a completely delusional monarch. Well, I guess it wasn't a big switch for her--the change was just in that the writers they decided they agreed with me for a moment. I don't think they realise how eerie it is that that woman can not stop smiling, no matter what happens. People being forced into hard labour? Spilled milk. Unchecked injury and violence? Something distant and inevitable.
Current Location: A lily pad
Current Mood: amusedthe secret world king
Current Music: "Fannin Street" Tom Waits cover - Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie
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From:robyn_ma
Date:February 28th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
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The problem I have with the 'male gaze' theory is that it's heteronormative. A gay woman can enjoy the same female-objectifying image that a hetero man can enjoy.

And then to be told, 'Oh, that you asked that question is very male' and 'ONOES you have privilege' is incredibly condescending. I have this to say to that: here in America we pretty much all have privilege one way or another, as contrasted with, say, people in Biafra or Darfur.

I'm an old-school liberal, but I have very little patience with over-intellectualized rhetoric that casts as offensive or sexist/racist/whatever anything that a given person doesn't like.
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From:setsuled
Date:February 28th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
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The problem I have with the 'male gaze' theory is that it's heteronormative. A gay woman can enjoy the same female-objectifying image that a hetero man can enjoy.

Yeah. Even a straight woman can enjoy objectifying imagery of women. I guess the term is meant to reflect how this gaze is an instrument of a male dominated culture, but that loads the term a bit much with concepts not necessarily related, which limits it's utility. I suspect in most cases--and probably the reason I'd never heard it before--it's easier simply to say "objectification".

And then to be told, 'Oh, that you asked that question is very male' and 'ONOES you have privilege' is incredibly condescending.

Yeah, and it was grating, which I think it was meant to be, whether the people doing it realised it or not. It's the same reason Bear told me I needed grounding in feminist critical theory just to have a discussion with her--everyone was being really defensive, which why was I said "I mean you no harm". But lost it. The whole thing was just too silly.

I'm an old-school liberal, but I have very little patience with over-intellectualized rhetoric that casts as offensive or sexist/racist/whatever anything that a given person doesn't like.

It's really hard to tell people that, too, because they're usually people who take a lot of pride in their intelligence but have gotten a bit lazy in terms of their ability to think critically. These people need someone with a lot more patience than I have.

Edited at 2009-02-28 03:07 am (UTC)
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From:setsuled
Date:February 28th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
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Sorry for the multiple edits. I need caffeine . . .
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From:sa_jathan
Date:February 28th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)

Patience

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Hell, I think you had tons of patience. Everyone seemed to have their barbs out from what, post number three? I understood the point they were trying to make (not sure if I agree or disagree, but I guess I'm a typical male and not well schooled in these lofty idears :-) ) but it's as if it was being ground in with a boot heel. I could also tell when you started taking the conversation less seriously (which seemed early on). And how dare you defend your point! (even though it seemed obvious to me you were being flippant -- but maybe it's cuz I know you just a little better).

Yes, you should have known the "riding crop" comment was going to get your ass in trouble. That image pretty much played in to the middle of the mess. I'm sure you realise by that time no one was going to cut you slack.

Anyway. Congratulations on ostracising yourself yet again. At least you are all the more educated for your trouble. And you didn't have to google once.

Be well.
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From:setsuled
Date:February 28th, 2009 08:01 am (UTC)

Re: Patience

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Hell, I think you had tons of patience. Everyone seemed to have their barbs out from what, post number three?

Yeah. Well, like I said, I think it's basically clique behaviour--they sensed their leader might be in distress somehow and they overcompensated. It's a particularly extreme example, though, especially from people who probably consider themselves above it.

I could also tell when you started taking the conversation less seriously (which seemed early on).

It was a real struggle, especially when it came to the people accusing me of misogyny. I loved the woman who told me, without hesitation, that a woman behaving the same way would be buying into the idea that women are weak. They had the world under some very narrow parameters.

Congratulations on ostracising yourself yet again.

Man, I'm trouble.

And you didn't have to google once.

Heh. By the end, people were defining things for me like it was a compulsion, some bizarre form of Tourettes.
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From:stsisyphus
Date:February 28th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
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Much of this debacle could have been avoided if people could just remember another simple point of netiquette:

DON'T FEED THE TROLL.

Now, I agree some of this was silly and some of it was grandstanding on the part of the audience. I say this because I know it by experience, having expressed some outrage on the part of someone I admired whom I felt was under attack and needed defending (not bothering to check whether they actually needed it or not). After a certain point, there was some baiting, and some trolling going on and you knew it. Being derisive of a poster's reactions is pretty much classic trolling (and let us not confuse "trolling" with "flaming", because the two concepts are distinct although not mutually exclusive).

And there were some valid points made against you sir, your apologies did (after a while) appear disingenuous and served less to offer contrition than act as an assumption of pardon (which was at that point being withheld). I think you did hit a berserk button on Ms. Bear's part, but I really can't account for that. I saw it for the snarky, sarcastic remark it was (and not directed at Ms. Bear but than the commenter you replied to; a classic example of Reductio ad absurdum).

On other note, Literary Criticism and its prevalence in intelligentsia is one of the primary reasons why I very nearly dropped out of college. In my opinion, it's a shell game, and usually its practitioners fall prey to the classic deductive blunder of making the facts suit the theories. In no other field (excepting perhaps philosophy, but I still put them ahead of lit critics) did I find so many consummate bullshit artists who would argue (fallaciously) with a paper bag just to hear themselves wheedle and look smart. I hated this for several personal reasons: they succeeded in looking smarter than me (a horrible personal fault I cannot escape), they didn't believe a fucking thing that came out of their mouths but were adamant in sticking to their assertions (so much worse than just simply lying), and that they were lauded for the effort. I never found that literary criticism contributed anything to the general understanding of literature or that it necessarily enhanced a work on its own. It was solipsistic and self-congratulatory, and often fell completely apart tapped with an ounce of reality. This is how you got drawn into semantic fencing over the definition of two words, as if a vernacular definition was somehow trumped by technical jargon. If someone wants to talk about privilege, they should examine their assumption of white educational and intellectual privilege as well. I very much agree with robyn's comment above. The poster you were sparring with, I feel, has a LOT of persecution problems (which are likely not helped by the socio-geographical location she posts in her profile). I burn to make generalized judgments based on the information there, but I am going to struggle not to do so because it is unfair and cowardly to do so either here or in general.

Incidentally, on the issue of deconstruct/dispel, I'm sort of with you on this one. I would agree that it is possible to deconstruct and dispel something, although that dispelling is temporary and transitory, but it is a necessary step in permanently dismantling and discrediting a noxious element of social programming.
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From:setsuled
Date:February 28th, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
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DON'T FEED THE TROLL.

No kidding. I'd taken Bear's journal out of my bookmarks and had planned never to look at it again until I woke up the next day with my inbox filled with comments.

And there were some valid points made against you sir, your apologies did (after a while) appear disingenuous and served less to offer contrition

It's true, the amount of respect I had for the people I was talking to decreased rapidly as the conversation progressed and I have pretty much no respect for them now. I really shouldn't have apologised--it was kind of a reflex.

than act as an assumption of pardon (which was at that point being withheld)

I didn't assume I'd be pardoned.

I think you did hit a berserk button on Ms. Bear's part, but I really can't account for that. I saw it for the snarky, sarcastic remark it was

I think she must have some other issues that were at work. I mean, a saddle and a riding crop? That's like Marx Brothers territory. It's incredibly tame. And then she tried to tell me she wasn't particularly sensitive. It was one of the many moments I was having trouble believing what was going on.

In my opinion, it's a shell game, and usually its practitioners fall prey to the classic deductive blunder of making the facts suit the theories.

Yeah, I think there's something to that. As I said to Robyn, I think it makes a lot of people lazy--once they've gotten to where they can make themselves sound smart, they forget to actually be smart.

The poster you were sparring with, I feel, has a LOT of persecution problems

Yeah. I think a lot of people were projecting a lot on me. And it made me want to pester them. You know, I really am a troll. In fact, henceforth I should like to be styled as King of All Trolls.

Incidentally, on the issue of deconstruct/dispel, I'm sort of with you on this one.

I was surprised that became such a big deal. The way people reacted, it was like I'd casually referred to Nelson Mandela as a nigger.
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From:stsisyphus
Date:March 2nd, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
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I'd taken Bear's journal out of my bookmarks and had planned never to look at it again until I woke up the next day with my inbox filled with comments.

I'm fairly convinced there's an up-and-coming duke of hell known as The Reply Button, 'cause lord knows more trouble is called by that thing than I think any other piece of common communication technology EVAR.

The way people reacted, it was like I'd casually referred to Nelson Mandela as a nigger.

And I'd thank you to never use that word again, kthnx.


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From:setsuled
Date:March 2nd, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
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And I'd thank you to never use that word again, kthnx.

Even when discussing Patti Smith's "Rock n Roll Nigger" or John Lennon's "Woman is the Nigger of the World"?
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From:d0minique
Date:March 1st, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
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I made a joke about putting a saddle on Bear and striking her with a riding crop whenever I wanted a definition for a word

This got you banned? In my lj that sort of thing is considered flirting.
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From:setsuled
Date:March 1st, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
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Heh, thank you. I've been in a lot of circles where it would, and I think it's ruined me for polite society. Which I'm dead certain at this point is a good thing.
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From:sa_jathan
Date:March 1st, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)

Ah, well

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I think it's ruined me for polite society. Which I'm dead certain at this point is a good thing.

I truly do not believe this exists anymore.
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From:setsuled
Date:March 1st, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Ah, well

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You could be right. What passes for polite society seems too feral.
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From:cryptess
Date:March 1st, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
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Gee, they were kinda full of shit, weren't they?
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From:setsuled
Date:March 2nd, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
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Seems that way.
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