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bear by san

March 2017



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writing steles burning

i've been the thorn. i've been the hunt.

I'm grimly accumulating wordcount this morning (if I get 3K today, I will have 1/10 of a book!) and I have a Moss Troll Problem.

So: Horsey people on my internets: I need a term for perlino and for cremello horses in a world without Spanish. I have a very horse-savvy culture (think Fauxsacks and Nongols) with 64* sacred colors of horses, and they uinderstand the (practical aspects) of coat color genetics pretty well. (An impossible perlino colt is a plot point, you see.) 

Obviously, one of those colors is "Ghost," but what is other? If I say "ghost-bay," and "ghost-sorrel," will that be enough of a clue to horsey people what I'm talking about? (I can describe the color, for non-horsey people.)

There will be a brief pause while I figure out what the 64 sacred colors are... fortunately, horses come in an awful lot of fucking colors. And I can divide them into eight groups of 8.

*Horses** have four legs, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and two teats.

**And by horse, the Nongols mean 'mare.'


Hello. Um, you don't know me, I'm not a subscriber to your journal, more of a random walker. I realize this may be awkward and unpleasant, considering I am a stranger and here to comment not about horse colors or the substance of your post, but about one word you used. I often see words in ways that make me flinch, but I felt -- after thinking about it a little -- that in this case I should try to comment, in the hopes that you'd care about it enough to listen.

The word I want to point out is "deathmarching". I'm well aware that some people may use this to refer to a hard, exhausting, sometimes perilous struggle, but there's history attached to that word, and thus it's not one that ought to be used lightly. Specifically, I attach to it the history of the Bataan Death March, which took place in the Philippines in 1942. (I know there have also been other death marches through history, but when I hear "death march" I also hear "Bataan".) I am Filipino, and I feel this history as a scar on my psyche; it's painful to see the word used carelessly, much as some might say it's now part of common parlance the way "imeldific" has become. I don't believe such words can win free of the blood in their meanings by erasure or forgetting. And the Philippines already has so much erasure and forgetting to deal with, to struggle against.

I say this knowing that you probably didn't intend to refer to that specific incident and might not even have known of it. I doubt I'd have made the effort to comment if I felt my words would be seen as pointless irritants. But I wanted to say this hoping that what you've said in the past about wanting to get things right and not contribute further to past and present wrongs continues to hold true.

Thanks for your time.
I am aware of that history, and I'm sorry that this use of the word causes you discomfort.

I have very mixed emotions about political correctness in language: I believe that it's our responsibility to be aware of the language we use, but I also have a sense that mythologizing language only gives it power.

I think part of the process of winning free of a history of blood is, indeed, common use--compare "decimated," "witch hunt," "massacre," and similar words, all of which refer to real atrocities, but the sands of time have worn them clean(er).

I think by refusing to allow terrible things to be banal and mundane, we mythologize them.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I'm pretty sure avoiding the phrase "Soup Nazi" isn't it. I'm going to go away now and think hard about it, though, because I'm also not keen on causing random damage to well-meaning passersby.
I'm glad you're going to stop and think about it, even though you're doing it after dismissing the concerns.
That was intended as a statement of alternate viewpoint, not a dismissal of concerns.

How fortunate for the people of the Philippines that you have taken it upon yourself to decide for them which of their national tragedies to render "banal and mundane." Heaven forbid they should decide such things for themselves.
I'm sorry. I think this is a misreading of what I said.

What I said is that I think demythologizing loaded language is important and useful, but that I am also not keen on causing pain through my use of language, and that I needed to think hard about that use of language in light of the original commentor's critique.

I'll most likely stop using the term in an offhand fashion, because I'm not keen on hurting people--but I also want to mull this over and arrive at a reasoned decision rather than a reflexive one.
While you are thinking hard, you might consider the fact that the survivors of the Bataan Death March and their families do not consider this event to be "mythological" or language describing it or referring to it as unduly "loaded." They do not wish their suffering to be dismissed or erased. They want their sacrifices to be respected.
Actually, I don't think I've ever heard deathmarch used as a verb. Never. It is always a noun, an event, and has rather negative associations for a lot of people. Death march as a generic term exists--to describe forced marches of peoples for great distances, suffering privation, usually resulting in death.

Training for a marathon or whatever doesn't quite fit the bill, if you ask me.
It's a fairly common piece of shorthand in writery circles.
I have very mixed emotions about political correctness in language:

Meaning: I'm pissed that I even have to be bothered even to consider the feelings of "those people" as if they were actually human like me.
No, actually--but I was raised in an environment that was both extremely politically correct and extremely toxic, and so I find the issue complex and emotionally charged.
It's been brought to my attention that my attempt to apologize and place the apology in personal context, and to promise some self-consideration on the subject, is coming across as refusing to accept culpability for an offensive act.

I'm sorry: that was not what I intended, and I did not mean to cause you pain, and I do intend to do some fairly serious soul-searching regarding use of language because of this conversation.
Bear, I am glad to see this here, but I feel I should remind you that statements of intent or lack thereof are largely considered to be poor form and/or irrelevant in apologies for matters of this sort. See:


I have found through my own painful experiences that a simple "I'm sorry" with no added words is usually the best way to go about this.
.... so are you going to remove the phrase "deathmarch" anytime soon?
Hi there! At the risk of echoing you, I realise that you don't know me, and, furthermore, that I'm addressing you via a third person's space, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admired the calm and courageous manner in which you raised this point, and that I am very sorry that you needed to, and that it seems to have been to so little avail.

Thank you for speaking up.