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Discursive use of time, ambivalence, banality, and wonder.
This is just one of those things where okay, yes, I get that art should push boundaries, I think that probably everyone could adjust to it if they saw it day after day, I can see that it does interrogate some stuff about bodies we consider desirable/worthy-of-display rather than gross/creepy....but it's still totally a christ-what-an-asshole situation. Something does not need to be Absolutely Wrong According To Feminism to just be kind of jerky, tone-deaf... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:22 AM on February 6, 2014
Also this kind of sorta-squick realistic/parody art bugs me because I think there's this assumption that everyone everywhere always needs to be made uncomfortable in public spaces. That's one reason I'm not into this kind of exhibit - it assumes that the artist is up there as a finger-shaking teacher reminding us not to get too comfortable and always, always to be interrogating our notions of embodiment and desirability. And it's like look, I am seldom... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:29 AM on February 6, 2014
It's not even so much that "oooh, everyone will be triggered every time they walk by the statue". It's that when you place a statue in a public space, you're making a choice of that particular statue instead of others. You're saying "out of all the statues that we could place here to [create some kind of experience amongst staff, students and visitors] the best possible choice is a hyperrealistic sculpture of a white dude in his underwear.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:34 AM on February 6, 2014
If it was the female version in underwear wouldn't we just be doing a riff on objectification?

Perhaps. As far as I know, though, there isn't some kind of forced choice where "sculpture of a white person in underwear, choose male or female version or lose all your funding" is on the table. One could have no statue at all! One could have a totally different statue!

There's a long list of sculptures... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:39 AM on February 6, 2014

Con Men! Artistocrats! Nancy Boys! Radiothearpy and More!
Oh neat. I just love Robert Graves's The Long Week-End, which is also popular/oddball history of the interwar years.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:11 PM on February 5, 2014
And I mean, this looks great also, not unlike the Graves book.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:11 PM on February 5, 2014

Oddly enough Dhalgren wasn't mentioned.
Dawn, by Octavia Butler. It's very zeitgeisty with radicals right now, and I've lost count of how many people who, upon hearing that I read (and do a little teaching about) SF have told me "Oh, I don't really read science fiction....but I love Octavia Butler".

Also, Marge Piercy's novel Woman On The Edge of Time and Nalo Hopkinson's novel Brown Girl In The Ring.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:03 PM on January 30, 2014
But that's across the board. Science fiction is massively popular in certain areas, like video games. And most all the highest-grossing film franchises are science fictional in some way, if not outright science fiction, so it's not like people are unfamiliar with the concept. But what is it about the current state of science fiction that seems to repel so many people and why shouldn't they flee?

Wait, what? Science fiction is... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:23 PM on January 30, 2014


Frowner: I think it's telling that you mention a bunch of 60s, 70s and early 80s authors. The truth was that late 80s to the early-mid 00s were a pretty bleak time for SF. Writing in the style of the 70s just felt dated, and earlier tropes just felt silly. Cyberpunk got dated really fast, etc. And yes, I do agree that we are in SF renaissance, and it's telling to see how the themes have changed since the last time SF was so interesting.
... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:01 AM on January 31, 2014
I add that no one needs to like science fiction. Science fiction is a genre that does some things really well and does other things not so much poorly as not-that-often. Like, when I want to read a really dense novel with complex prose, deep characterization and a lot of subtext about class and sexuality plus a lot of baroque descriptions of small physical stuff, I'm far more likely to read Henry James than a science fiction writer. On the other hand, for structural... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:17 PM on January 31, 2014
Oh, I think Margaret Atwood's science fiction is quite good. It's just not super embedded in the rest of the genre and not very concerned with the rest of the genre. In that sense, when she says she "isn't writing science fiction", she's quite right. I doubt she's read very much SF, her work really isn't in dialogue with other authors...it's only "science fiction" because it's fiction-with-science-in, or... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:42 AM on February 5, 2014
Is it that the dystopias are relatively easier to create, since so much of the world will look similar to what we've got around us now? Or is the dystopia more a method of ironic distance than a subgenre, really, a method adopted by multiple genres?

Again, I think this has to do with what genre is. Genre is social. Science fiction is dialogic, which Atwood's SFnal novels are not; it is didactic, which they are. It is about... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:08 PM on February 5, 2014
What I'm trying to say is that Ringworld (which I don't even like!) hangs together because it's written in a specific SF register. Saying that we need a "high culture" version of Ringworld is like saying we need a chibi style manga version of an Eli Weisel novel, or Infinite Jest rewritten as a Western - it treats a novel as a thing where form and content are totally separable and have no effect on each other.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:10 PM on February 5, 2014

Too poor for pop culture
One of my dreams in life is to have enough time to spend in an area like this to "get in" with everyone, photograph them all, make a book and use the proceeds to help them. But I'm quiet and white and not very social, so all I'd wind up with are my cameras and gear stolen. Sigha.

It is a really difficult lesson to learn, but this isn't the best kind of help to provide. (I've done my time in the trenches of radical media, so I have... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:32 AM on February 5, 2014
(I also want to point out that divined by radio grew up in an actual inner city situation and has some advice that is more concrete than mine...I was kind of writing my comment as a "from one white, introverted feeling-haver to another", but that shouldn't trump actual advice from someone from the actual situation in question, because that would mean that I would be "speaking for" someone about not "speaking for" people and we'd all collapse in a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:53 AM on February 5, 2014

Arrange to introduce a great fire
It does not seem, in general, as if the editors spend very much time paying attention to cultural production by women - you have only to look at their other lists. If you are a Very Famous woman in your field (Virginia Woolf, Ursula Le Guin) you may get a look in. And there's one less-famous woman on each list, it looks like, but that's about it. (Seriously, I love some Pat Cadigan, but if she's on a list that includes neither James Tiptree nor Joanna Russ nor Octavia Butler, that's a pretty... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:57 AM on January 30, 2014
+1 on the "there should be more women" tip

I would have more patience with the absence of women on the painting list if the position of women on the writers' lists weren't so foolish-looking. At my count, for instance, 78 of the best novels are by men - just for starters. But most of the women are toward the end of the list. And the composition of the list suggests to me that the editors have pretty much focused on... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:51 PM on January 30, 2014
(And to continue - in general, the SF novels by women that they choose are focused on men. Frankenstein, The Dispossessed, Swordspoint - all novels by women where the most important characters are men and the focus is kept off anything definitely feminine (consider poor old Takver in The Dispossessed). I don't think this is coincidence.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:57 PM on January 30, 2014
Yet if you talk about science fiction, about the best or most important, this needs to be in there, as that's the first novel that actually is science fiction, the start of it all. To include Frankenstein is a justifiable choice.

The question of the origins of science fiction - well, there's a lot more to it than "it was Frankenstein. Was it Frankenstein? Is "this is the first SF novel" a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:16 PM on January 30, 2014

How good is your English vocabulary, really?
I know 91% of words and was not fooled by any of the fake words. I am telling myself that I am still pretty good since the ones I missed were all science words and we all know that science doesn't count.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:24 PM on January 29, 2014

For 1% of us, apparently cake IS better than sex
I'm really open about sex, and really think that it is performative, and that anything between consenting adult goes, and it's a spectrum, and all good and all of that--but it takes so much work to present a pro pleasure, fairly free sexuality

See, my experience is quite the opposite - a tremendous pressure to present a generic "pro-pleasure" "free" sexuality. I find that absolutely exhausting and depressing and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:38 PM on January 27, 2014
To add - I could say about myself "clearly I am broken, I should undertake years of therapy so that I can learn to enjoy this thing that everyone says I should enjoy, and in exactly the way that they say I should enjoy it" or I could say "hey, I am a grown-ass adult, my life has shaped me this way, I'm not unhappy, I get to avoid something I find stressful and blah* and save on therapy bills!"

*Reiterating that I am not asexual,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:51 PM on January 27, 2014
But, how is asexuality socially constructed, and what if this social construction is born out of trauma, i mean this is the case for all kinds of sex, but there has been a long tradition, of for example how instutional homophobia shapes queer sex, or how rape affects women's responses to desire...i am not sure it is fair just to plop down asexuality and say, here is a thing that exists now, without seriously working out how much of the negation comes from trauma? Or has this work been... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:03 AM on January 28, 2014
I also think that maybe fetishes and BDSM/etc sexual practices might be a good model for understanding asexuality - most people don't seem to have trouble with the idea that sexual fetishes (or identities such as submissiveness) are both highly cultural and real. No one is asserting that cultures where people don't wear shoes are repressing people with shoe fetishes, or that people who write anime porn existed (but repressed!) in 1500. More seriously, people generally seem... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:09 AM on January 28, 2014
David totally has visible chemistry with this one girl but again won't go there, he won't commit to exploring something deeper (she ends up realizing he can't give her what she needs and leaves the group).

You might want to interrogate what you mean by "visible chemistry". I have "visible chemistry" with several friends whose sexual orientation does not at all match mine, but anyone would think we were flirting like crazy. I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:14 PM on January 28, 2014
St. Peepsburg - who I'm sure is a perfectly lovely person! - is saying that because she feels that someone's motives for calling themselves asexual are mixed, this calls their asexuality into question. That line of reasoning only makes sense if there's "sexuality", which is authentic and uncomplicated (ie, you never have mixed reasons for calling yourself sexual or for sleeping with someone) and this contrasts with "asexuality", where mixed motives or... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:34 PM on January 28, 2014
It has just occurred to me that asexuality is very much a product of modernity - you don't need to say that you are asexual unless
1. there's a very strong norm that everyone (married or not, seeking to have sex or not, religious or not, old or young, etc) is expected to have some form of sexual life;

2. everyone is expected to talk openly about their sexuality and sex lives - it's no longer private and there's something suspect about not wanting to talk... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:06 AM on January 29, 2014

Please. These aren't our real enemies.
What I always think is that I would hate to be in this guy's position, because I think you'd have to be a really tough person with your head screwed on right in order to reject (or quickly redirect) the praise, money and awards you were getting. That's one reason I'm a little bit tired of internet shitstorms about celebrities - if you're famous, you're living in a really different world from the rest of us, people are far more anxious to use you and pacify you than they are the rest of us, you... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2014

"Age is a weapon society uses against women."
There's a line in a Margery Allingham novel about a woman who is doing very nicely in her forties, thank you: "She never had the looks to lose, and so she never lost them".

Honestly, once I got over wishing I was good-looking purely because I hate losing at things, it's been win-win all the way. It really does seem different for girls like Molly Crabapple - for every romantic or social opportunity she's had, she's also had to negotiate a world of bullshit... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:47 PM on January 27, 2014
"I cannot even picture 99% of the men I know saying something like the quoted text, either."

At the same time, a lot of guys will say stuff when they know they can get away with it, or to impress other men - and you'd never know it if they don't think they can get away with it in front of you.

That is another thing for me - because I just don't get sexually harassed (it happened very very... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:11 PM on January 27, 2014

let anarchy prevail
I find myself wondering how the school defines "bullying", especially since I've seen a lot of places use it to mean "any form of unkindness directed at another child" rather than (as most mefites use it) "sustained, intentional actions by someone with more power in the social hierarchy against someone weaker in order to hurt or humiliate them". I think the broader and more anodyne definition is used because it works better with a lot of "you can't say you... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:22 PM on January 26, 2014

"This book fills a much needed gap in literature"
What I always remember about Paglia is reading about how she was complaining about trans people (especially trans men) and she was saying that trans men were just doing it for the male privilege and people shouldn't really have easy access to transitioning because then pow, gender all over the place, and then she was like "well of course, if people had been able to transition freely when I was young, I would have absolutely done the same thing". [I paraphrase.] Since then I have not... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:36 PM on January 23, 2014

Where'd You Go, Thora Birch?
It blows my mind (actually I guess it makes sense) that so many of you have seen, but completely misunderstood, Ghost World. Enid and Seymour are the only sane, decent people in a misanthropic world otherwise populated entirely by severely hollow, almost sociopathic parodies of human beings with absolutely nothing going on inside any of their heads at any time. "Drowning in assholes," to borrow from the film's sort-of-hopeless-coming-of-age cousin.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:17 PM on January 23, 2014

But that's the point! Enid is so narcissistic that she doesn't realize that.


I don't know if that's really what we're supposed to take from the comic. (I haven't seen the movie since I didn't like the comic much.) I think we're supposed to see Enid as flawed and juvenile but broadly correct in her worldview. That's certainly how everyone I knew was reading the comic; it was definitely viewed as a sympathetic portrait... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2014

I still kind of want the mailman pants.
Yeah, in important ways my taste was set in the nineties, although it was much more "aspirational J Crew like all the rich girls wore in HS" plus various punk and grunge stylings from college. (I'm old!)

In high school I had neither money nor friends, also I was fat until my junior year, so I pretty much wore whatever could fit. But in my senior year, my family's fortunes took a turn for the better when my mother landed a good job and I also had some part... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:06 AM on January 22, 2014
Also, the Gap had mailman pants like, two years ago.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:07 AM on January 22, 2014

What, do the xx's stand for something dirty?


Back in my particular day, they stood for straight-edge. But that's not a nineties thing, it's an eighties thing that carried over.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:26 AM on January 22, 2014

I was not going to allow the system to...take my identity away from me.
It was particularly angering because the DA had just that year pardoned two people who had killed someone to save themselves during an attack, so there was even immediate legal precedent to pardon CeCe. But of course those people were white (and, I assume, cis). It was just so transparently unjust (it happened basically in the parking lot of my grocery store and I was very very peripherally involved with the support committee, providing a little bit of secretarial help). If you are familiar... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:52 AM on January 21, 2014
The thing I thought about during all this was how if you are a trans woman, particularly a trans woman of color, and you're in an altercation, you really could die, someone really could go from harassing you to killing you pretty easily. People really do attack trans women without provocation and with incredible violence, and people really do neglect the safety of trans women. There was a woman murdered here that winter after this all happened, basically because her... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:50 AM on January 21, 2014
That City Pages article was widely held to be pretty terrible around here. I don't have time to look at it point by point and I've blocked out the memory, but it was called out for being really scandal-mongering and transphobic (and the cover was, like, a pair of scissors - it was just a shitty cover, and it made me really sad because back in the nineties the City Pages used to be pretty left wing and did some decent journalism.) I would not trust the CP article over other sources.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:12 AM on January 22, 2014

To hell with Gatsby's green light!
Honestly, a problem with teaching novels is simply that not everyone likes the same novels and students can't choose. You'd never expect a random group of 25 adults to like the same book, but we essentially expect that of HS students.

Also, a lot of students just don't read very fluently, and reading any extended work is awful for them, the more so the more the book diverges from the English with which they're... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:25 AM on January 17, 2014
Also, I hated everything we read that was "relevant to modern teenagers". "Modern teenagers" are a diverse crowd, and I was way happier with Jane Eyre, Oscar Wilde, sixties essays and the WWI poets than the "relatable" stuff. Which isn't to say that no one should assign "modern teenager" books, but rather that kids should have some choices.

Also, representation is important. If you're going... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:32 AM on January 17, 2014
With regards to the critique of The Sun Also Rises itself, I think part of this also comes from the infantilization of adolescents in many schools. Jake's injury is a very important aspect of that book and Hemingway's perspective, and is utterly worthy of discussion; an essential topic, probably, if you choose to teach that book.

Yeah, and picture how many parents would get insanely freaked out if a teacher was like "a central... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:37 AM on January 17, 2014

I think it's great when students like books and obviously you should strive to provide a variety of books to appeal to a variety of tastes, but assuming the goal is to have students like or enjoy every novel they read kind of misses the point. It's great to have common points of literary reference but, more than that, explaining your issues with a book you've had to read for class instead of just saying "I don't like it" is hugely valuable.
... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:04 AM on January 17, 2014

The Surreal Photos of Miss Aniela
Those are really excellent. And she so obviously knows her stuff - it's not just "surreal" in some nebulous way, but stuff that could have been a Harper's Bazaar cover in the thirties (when Carmel Snow was very big on the surrealists) or a Leonor Fini painting, etc. Just wonderful, wonderful photos.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:42 PM on January 16, 2014

Slight Future

The first paragraph of this article immediately demolishes the argument of the remainder. The filmmaker set out to make a movie with an AI in it and, after doing research, realized that the technology behind the AI was irrelevant.


I think that the person writing the linked article may not really understand how science fiction works. Even people like John Brunner, who really were interested in "predicting",... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:53 AM on January 13, 2014
So if "Her" isn't about tech but about people isn't it cyberpunk? Are we cyberpunk? Am I cyberpunk?

How are you defining cyberpunk here? I mean, how are you defining it that separates it from other science fiction?

If anything, Her sounds like a mid-period John Varley story stripped of all the feminism.

I think that a lot of popular nominally-science-fiction movies and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2014
Essentially (and this isn't a knock against the movie, which I liked) there is no world outside of middle class information workers in a pristine city. The actual implementation of this technology (a companion movie directed by Terry Gilliam, maybe) is much messier than we see in a small-scale romance movie about one man.

See, this is what makes me suspect that the movie is really more concerned with the romantic and a particular aesthetic than with... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:31 AM on January 13, 2014

“Is there a gay sensibility? Can you see it in a work of art?”
I think there are queer sensibilities to all kinds of stuff including cooking - but I also think these are not constant, it's meaningless to posit a transhistorical sensibility.

And of course, where does class play into this? I found myself wondering about Lou and Pat - Pat must have had a pretty good job and Lou must not have been super employable, given that after Pat died, Lou ended up in a trailer park. (I was impressed with Pat that he apparently managed to leave... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:31 PM on January 11, 2014

The local economy runs on black-market soda
...run out of profitable uses for the class of people who 500 years ago would have been known, without any derogation, as peasants.

The condition of "peasants" has varied across history - 500 years ago was before the Enclosure Acts and their parallels in Europe, for instance, and there were plenty of rich "peasants". This idea that because you are not part of the elite you must necessarily be a forelock-tugging "peasant"... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:26 AM on January 11, 2014

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