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As the final Test of this Ashes series dies the death… - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
As the final Test of this Ashes series dies the death…
… a last bit of fandom critical analysis (I truly do loathe the term ‘meta’).

I admit it: I bang on about Doing the Research (including but by no means limited to Britpicking). (Note: admit, not confess: I’m not at all ashamed, nor need I be.) It is, I am aware, long past the point at which some people in fandom resent it, and me, and my existence in fandom: and the use of ‘resent’ may be a mild and temperate exercise in understatement.

I have argued that if you are one of those fen who prides herself on Opposing Oppression, Othering, and Appropriation (which is all well and good) and who believes that this opposition requires that a writer write, of a group or culture not his own, only sparingly (and only because of a duty not to vanish them), with trepidation, and to semi-official guidelines from advocacy groups professing to represent that group or culture, you really cannot – without coming over either all thick or all hypocritical – then say of some groups or cultures, ‘I’m writing for fun! What are you saying – I need a degree in this shit first, ’s that what you want? These are universals, and I can treat a text, a group, or a culture as a prop! It’s a HOBBY, you squee-harsher!’

I don’t wish to be a complete Kant about this (sorry: old Sidney Morgenbesser anecdote, there), but…. Simply: make up your minds, won’t you?

Yes, I understand that this common view – common confusion, really – goes claw in talon with the proposition that there is a hierarchy of privilege which is determined by you and your judgement and that of your friends, and that you shall decide which groups have been disprivileged in the past sufficiently that you graciously condescend to grant them, from On High, the compensation of Doing the Research and Dealing Sensitively With Them. (Naturally enough, Wicked Old Britain, Which Has Never, Ever Been a Force for Good in the World, is not to granted this indulgence and favour.) And I am aware that We All Know – Because Everyone Who Is Anyone Says So, Darling – That Logical Consistency Is Rubbish and Morality Is Not Objective. Which is a relief, isn’t it. Because, were this not the case…. Well.

I’ll leave the subject for a bit, now. I’ll leave you, though, with this. If you’d rather be Kant than the other thing … the next time a tale you wish to tell requires writing of cultures, groups, or milieus not your own, and you are tempted to say, ‘Well, I’m only having a lark, there’s no need to treat these people as real people entitled to respect and a bit of research’, ask yourself if that should be your view if, for Group X, you substituted, say, Jews, or Roma, or Black British, or African-Americans, or loyal and peaceable Muslims, or trans people.

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9 comments or Leave a comment
shezan From: shezan Date: August 25th, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

...as they say in fannish circles.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 25th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ta, love.

I know, there's nowt queer as folk, but one really is baffled, sometimes....
steepholm From: steepholm Date: August 25th, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm surprised - shocked, really - that you can tear yourself away from watching England chase down those runs, but everything you say here is to my mind unexceptionable. I do in fact believe that some groups are more privileged than others, but even if you think you're dealing with a privileged group, the respect (aka courtesy) due to all people demands that we err, if at all, on the side of Getting It Right, where it lies within our power to do so (and thanks to the internet, research has never been less onerous).

Edited at 2013-08-25 04:39 pm (UTC)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 25th, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

The key to multi-tasking in an Ashes summer...

... is to write over lunch and post at tea or drinks intervals.

And, thank you.
tazlet From: tazlet Date: August 25th, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
So welcome to Foaming-At-The-Mouth where, as long as we're on the subject, I just finished Jenkin's biography of Churchill, can you recommend a better?

We’re glad we walked behind the man who smoked the big cigar
Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la, Tra-la-la-la-la
We follow the man whose master plan has carried us through the war
Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la, Tra-la-la-la-la
One whiff of the old Havana,
We follow him right to Fujiyama
Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la, Tra-la-la-la-la
We’re just in time to hear the man who smoked the big cigar…

wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 26th, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, now you've wead Woy's work...

... there's a brilliant Brief Life by Sir Jno Keegan, and there is Martin Gilbert.
tazlet From: tazlet Date: August 27th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, now you've wead Woy's work...

Yay! Go Keegan! Go Keegan! Much of "Mask of Command" is brilliant, and he's readable!
froganon From: froganon Date: August 26th, 2013 02:17 am (UTC) (Link)


Something there about transposing our own "views" onto a group, culture, or milieu as if we are adapting it or stealing parts of it to our own purposes...or co-opting it which is something that in general I don't much care for...

such as the many folks here of my acquaintance who want to be descended from indigenous folks here in North America but who really weren't...

Some peoples certainly have experienced much more oppression than others in any given time frame. Some cultures have more to offer the present day world than others do-- without getting into the whole debate on whether all cultures are equally valuable, which to me is impossible to determine...

At any rate, search and research and checking facts and evidence does not necessarily indicate a need for a degree. Writing a good story, novel, essay, or anything requires the willingness to do the work.

Even writing total fantasy requires at the very least a nod to what laws of physics [or even vs. magic] may operate in that setting and to allow those laws to be sort of a guide.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 26th, 2013 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

In fact, worldbuilding.

Quite so.

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