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Old 01-28-2015   #31
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
if there are no fixed biological/sexual identities what can possibly explain the anguish of Transgenders? The identity conflict may or may not involve sexual orientation, i.e., homosexuality, but that just makes it even more complicated.
I don't think Vidal was saying this kind of thing doesn't exist. I think he was talking more in the folk sense of dividing people into binary categories and never the two shall meet. For example, if I remember right, Vidal had at least one child; presumably this would have been impossible under the strict definition of homosexuality present at the time, or would have to have been achieved under duress. But I don't think he saw it that way at all.

Also I think a nuanced understanding of transsexualism was light years beyond the average mindset at the time of that quote - if it wasn't being outright pathologized, it wasn't being considered as a complex phenomenon with often conflicting situations either.

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
I do suspect gender identification--the psychological aspect of it-- is hardwired, and not merely the result of cultural conditioning; but that probably varies in degree from individual to individual.
What constitutes gender depends on time and place, but I don't think anyone (even Judith Butler) is going to dispute the existence of differing secondary sexual characteristics and general sexual dimorphism in humans. But I think Vidal was talking more about the potential of human desire/spontaneity and whether it's really necessary to circumscribe it through fixed identity politics. I relate this to the "desiring machines" concept from the Deleuze/Guattari books (so human sexual desire is radically unfixed and can extend in some kind of network to encompass anything/everything; the overall system allows for more complex potential interactions than are usually realized).


The problem is that at the moment I don't think we can conceive of a society where everyone is more or less bisexual or fixed gender identities don't matter. Humans have a tendency towards absolutism. Goodbye to all the beauty, welcome to certainty. 
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Old 01-29-2015   #32
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Quote Originally Posted by teguififthzeal View Post
There are times when I seriously get sick--while remaining sensitive on a fairly firm level--of hearing about how this person's work should be read because they are transgender. Or this. Or the other thing.


Isn't it the quality of the work that matters?
This is my fundamental qualm with the practice of elevating the personal details of the artist over the actual art. Give me the best stories you can find, *not* the best stories written the three-fingered, left-handed, blind, midget, rabbi's.

To be clear, I have no issue with folks wanting to highlight the work of a particular demographic for the sake of shining a spotlight on their achievements. If Lightspeed were running a 'Highlighting the Work of LGBT Authors' issue, I wouldn't have peep to say in protest about it.

My problem comes from these issues always being couched in the language of social struggle, a struggle often fabricated by the very publishers who are cynically exploiting a demographic for sales. There's a world of difference between 'Highlighting Women's Contributions to Science Fiction', and 'Women Destroy Science Fiction - The Backlash Against A Claim That Was Never Made!'

Literature has long been a refuge for all people. It's one of very few mediums in history where a person can make a living while remaining completely invisible to their consumers. So this whole 'Us vs Them' mentality being pimped by dishonest publishers for profit is highly disappointing to me. If you want to rage against straight, white, hetero men take your battle to Congress, or software companies, or professional golf. But don't drag that mess into literature, one of the few longstanding meritocracies for mankind since the advent of the alphabet.

/rant
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Old 02-05-2015   #33
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

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Old 02-05-2015   #34
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Even though Harlan Ellison can be a pain in the ass (check out The Last Deadloss Visions by Christopher Priest, also called The Book on the Edge of Forever, about the unpublished The Last Dangerous Visions anthology he was supposed to edit), he is absolutely right on the money here; it is hard not to agree with him:


Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 02-07-2015   #35
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

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Old 02-07-2015   #36
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Bizarre. Isn't it obvious that most predominant contemporary ideology is one that preaches exactly that - be fluid, don't define your self, exchangeable-personae bull####. It's not only that we can't complain about imposed certainty - we are not even qualified enough for it nowadays.
This is where certain aspects of Christian legacy would help.

I knew that someday I was gonna die / And I knew before I died Two things would happen to me / That number one I would regret my entire life / And number two I would want to live my life over again.
Hubert Selby Jr.
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Old 02-07-2015   #37
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

I agree about the predominant contemporary ideology bit, but I think the answer, for me, lies not in Christian or other religious ideologies, but within oneself, without anyone saying you what to think or what to do. But it's pretty hard. To quote John Locke (the Lost character and not the philosopher): "Don't tell me what I can't do."

Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 06-08-2015   #38
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

A couple more cringe-worthy examples of folks who took criticism . . . poorly.

Richard Brittain Violently Assaults Book Reviewer

Look Whos Snarking Now: Novelist Uses Twitter to Trash Critic

So to rehash the moral of these stories, when your work is criticized online:

1) Do not stalk your critic then bash them in the bean with a bottle of vino.

2) Do not disseminate your critic's address/phone number to your fans and attempt to incite a lynch mob.

/chuckle
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Old 06-09-2015   #39
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Ever since Bill Buckley and Gore Vidal threatened fisticuffs writers have been behaving badly.
Pistols at dawn, however, would still be acceptable.
Where are the real men like Edmund Wilson who hauled off and slugged Mary McCarthy for asking him to take the garbage out...
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Old 06-09-2015   #40
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Re: Authors, Their Own Worst Enemy

Few, very few, writers like honest criticism. They will endure their editor and many may even admit that editors, knowledgeable ones at least, are a Good Thing. But if a writer ever asks for honest criticism...run like hell!
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