December 5th, 2005

bear by san

It don't matter where you bury me; I'll be home and I'll be free.

I just figured out a second thematic unity in my books.

The first one, my ur-Story, is that everything I write is an outsider story. And not an outsider story about finding the magic button and becoming part of the in group, but an outsider story about learning to be okay with being a freak.

The second one is that I write books about broken people. And I don't write books about broken people getting over their damage, getting redeemed or being healed by fire.

No, I write books about broken people learning to accept that there are things that just can't be fixed, because the universe is not fair, and to live with their damage, and to soldier on anyway.

You know, sometimes you just glance up idly from the keyboard, and your PTSD is sitting there on top of the monitor, grinning back at you like a big fat yellow goddamn Cheshire cat.
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bear by san

Sit beside the breakfast table and think about your troubles;

Pour yourself a cup of tea and think about the bubbles.

Entertaining to me, menin_aeide offers an article from the City Journal on medical knowledge in Shakespeare that includes the following paragraph, which plays into my personal prejudices nicely:

As Orwell pointed out, it takes effort and determination to see what is in front of one’s face. Among the efforts required is the discarding of the lenses of excessive or bogus theorizing. When it comes to our attempts to understand the phenomena of our own society, I cannot help but wonder how many of us are in the grip of theories that are the equivalent of Hall’s Galenical theory, and whether as a result we do not prescribe the legislative equivalents of human skull, mummy dust, and jaw of pike.

The frank admission of cowardice in the face of the Oxfordians, Marlovians, et al.,(1) charms me. My personal problem with the authorship question is that I walked in without a dog in the fight (Actually, as the title and certain lingering elements of plot structure suggest, there was a time when The Stratford Man was expected to have some, shall we say, anti-Stratfordian elements, as the plot sort of hit me in a lightning bolt while I was enjoying the talespinning and theorizing of an Oxfordian colleague of my husband's at a faculty Christmas party.) The problem is that when I actually sat down to do the research (and let's not talk about how much research there was, and continues to be) I not only found the Oxfordian (and Marlovian, for that matter) arguments unbelievable, but unworkable. (And I couldn't figure out how to get Bacon into the book at all, so he's not even got a cameo.)

There are still people who prefer a good conspiracy theory to Occam's razor, and I think everybody who writes historical fiction or secret histories or historical fantasy has had what I've heard Tim Powers describe to as that horrible, exhilarating, dawning moment when the cold chill creeps up your neck and you think Oh my God, I'm not making this up--because the pieces seem to fit together too well, and the patterns come sliding out in remarkably polished perfection (It is the weirdest, creepiest thing in the world, I gotta tell you, and there have been times when I was so excited by a piece of information that I was literally shaking with adrenaline--Robert Catesby was at Rheims, and he rode in the Essex rebellion, did you know? And on that slender lynchpin hangs my entire freaking plot--but it doesn't actually mean that any of the rest of the fabric of lies I've created is true.)

The human brain is a pattern-finding machine. (The art of fiction rests on this fact.) This is the problem with the various Shakespearean conspiracy arguments: they all sound really good, and desperately romantic, and full of clever connections and those cool spine-shivery I'm not making this up! moments--until you actually sit down and think about the logistics of the thing. And then you come to the realization that not only can three keep a secret if two of them are dead, but that the English Renaissance is not what you would call a time of great personal privacy. And that, at the very least, if you want another candidate for Shakespeare than Shakespeare the actor, you need to get John Fletcher, Phillip Henslowe, Ned Alleyn, Richard Burbage, Edmund Tylney, Ben Jonson, possibly Christopher Marlowe (if you like Edward III for a collaboration, say--apparently there's some newish stylometric evidence that supports that old idea), and probably a few others in on it. Oh, and that Shakespeare guy, too.... oh, and some or all of Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Heywood, and Thomas Dekker, if you like Hand D in Sir Thomas More for the playwright, and...

It gets unwieldy pretty fast, as you can see.

It's kind of like saying that Howard Koch actually isn't a scriptwriter, and that he and Julius and Philip Epstein were covering for the authorial intrusions of, oh, Howard Hughes in the script to Casablanca. (Actually, you know, the situations are just about exactly analogous, now that I think about it. English Tudor/Stewart drama was very much a collaborative and disposable art form, not an ivory tower pursuit, and scripts were hammered out in constant revisions much as modern movie scripts are, and as often based on outside source material rather than auctorial invention.)

P.S., the Park Honan biography? Is really quite good.)

(1)My spellchecker likes "Pavlovian" for Marlovian and "Orthogonal" for Oxfordian. I have disabused it.

More SF v. F (I picture an orange Volvo):

shewhomust sez (after some more specific things that seem problematic to me) something I rather like, for all its vagueness: The otherness of the unreal is essential to fantasy, the extraordinariness of the real is essential to SF. Or possibly the ordinariness of the unreal, too.
bear by san

Spy Kitty Update

In other news, Napoleon and Illya were waiting for me by the front door when I walked outside this morning with their food, and Napoleon read me the riot act (mew mew Mew mew MEW!--she has the cutest little squeaky door mew) while I filled their bowls. Illya hunkered down about ten or fifteen feet away, squinched his eyes, and waited for me to leave, but Napoleon walked around in little quarter-circles almost within arm's-reach, and finally hunkered down and made a tea cozy to wait for me to step away from the food.

I'm winning. *g*

In the final proof that I named them aptly, Napoleon bosses and bullies her brother, and even when I give them separate bowls, she thinks nothing of shoving his face right out of his and having a look to see if what he's got is better. And him? He just sighs at her, rolls his eyes, and switches to the other bowl.

I swear I've never seen a cat roll its eyes before.
bear by san

And the longest bridge I ever crossed, over Pontchartrain.

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

--William Shakespeare, Sonnet 98

(You may blame Park Honan. He quoted the first line, so of course I had to go find and reread the rest.)

This sonnet, oddly enough, reminds me of a much more modern one, about the other end of summer. It has the same tone of melancholy and fleeting time, of meditative loss.

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

--Robert Frost
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bear by san

(no subject)

Oh, Park Honan just won my eternal gratitude again.

He's giving Ben Jonson some honest ink.

Do you suppose it's done to write fan letters to scholars?
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bear by san

(no subject)

So, this may be the funniest thing I've thought of since the Horta shock troops. And it's all kit_kindred's fault.

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Forgive me, father, for I have committed fanfiction. But it was just too good to pass up.

(And these aren't my characters, and are copyright and trademark a great big huge corporation that could come break my fingers, but they are used here in a spirit of parody and critical metatextual discourse rather than with any intent to make money off them or infringe on said copyright or trademark.)

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