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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

more on hogs, the slopping thereof.

via jmhm : Oscars Dazzle Deadliest Day Yet

***

And my reaction, which is, strangely enough, that this doesn't work for me the way I suspect the collagist intended. Wait; before you decide I am a heartless bastard, let me tell you why.

At the 2004 WisCon, I was privileged to participate in a panel on "Living in an SF Disaster Novel". One of the things that we all seemed in agreement on was that we are, really. It's just that the people inside disaster novels, dystopias, and so forth (contrary to fiction) generally don't notice that they're living in a dystopia. (Actually, I have discovered lately that I can find the dystopia in any society; there is always somebody for whom a given social order means suffering. Which is one of the things that "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" means to me. But that's a tangent.)

Here's the thing. The problem with the end of the world is this: it doesn't relieve us of obligation. We still have to get up and slop the pigs. Bury the bodies. Get the crops in. Get the kids to school. Deliver the manuscript.

The show must go on.

Yes. I get up every day aware that there are people dying in Iraq. I get up every day aware that their are people dying on my block: I live in one of the worse neighborhoods in North Las Vegas. It's not the worst neighborhood, but last weekend there were shootings within a few blocks of my house on both east and west sides. There was a meth lab on my block a year or so back. Kids play in the street. The neighbors will drag my garbage can in off the street if the sanitation truck leaves it turned over. You know, a typical neighborhood.

I get up every day and let the dogs out, get dressed, go to work at my day job, come home, work on a book, hope for a sale, edit, talk to my friends, remember to email my mom, my editor, my agent. I pick up my husband at work and go back to work myself. I go for a walk or do yoga. I cook dinner.

Does the death of 200 people in a suicide bombing make my day seem a little trivial? How about the death of a quarter of a million people in the Pacific? The death by torture of a black man in Mississippi?

How about the disappearance of one little girl in Florida? A friend whose father is in the hospital with a terminal illness? Another friend who has to have a beloved pet put to sleep? Is that trivial?

Of course it's trivial, in the face of 400 dead in an earthquake, one hundred thousand dead in a war.

And of course these things make my work seem trivial. Of course they make me grieve. They make me mourn. They make me write letters to my congressman. They make me angry and sad and they make me cry.

And it makes me write even more goddamned books, too, even though what I do is trivial. Because those are my hogs, and they have to be slopped. It makes a difference to the hogs. It makes a difference to me. It makes a difference to my editor.

Does it mean I can't be happy at a sale, or an award nomination? Or a friend's good news, a marriage or a baby? A glad story about a beautiful stranger she met? One friend brings home a stray dog; another buries a child. Trivial, trivial, trivial.

But every one of those things makes a difference.

It makes a difference, too, when I walk to the store instead of driving, or when I choose to use cloth towels instead of paper towels, or when I rescue a cat from a shelter. It doesn't make a big difference. It makes a trivial difference.

The trivial differences add up. 200 deaths is a trivial number, too, on a global scale. Entropy occurs by inches.

Am I defending the Oscars, conspicuous consumption, or celebrity adulation? Well, I can't be bothered to watch them, so I really can't be bothered to defend them, either.

What I'm saying is, entropy occurs by inches.

But slopping the hogs makes a difference to the hogs. Sure, it's trivial. It won't bring back the dead. It won't cure cancer. It won't end world hunger. It won't prevent a genocide.

That doesn't mean it doesn't have value.

One cannot weep for the entire world, it is beyond human strength. One must choose.
--Jean Anouilh, Eurydice



***

If you've got a problem. If no-one else can help. Good luck trying to hire the A-Team. (via green_key)

janni talks about fanfiction, unauthorized use of work, arguments pro and con, and a recent dust up on scans_daily where I think both creators (insluding greygirlbeast) and fans acted with class.

Comments

But isn'tall of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?
Best. LJ comment. Ever.
I was thinking of "All Quiet on the Western Front." But yeah. That.
I very much like your response to "How can you enjoy anything when people are suffering?"
Thanks. I mean, the collagist has a point. He(?) really does.

But there's only so much despair I can take in one egg mcmuffin. :-P
Yah. The world may be going to hell in a handbasket, but the bits I touch will go out with banana bread.
M'ris, I love you.
Hey Bear:

I followed one of your links and found your comment about Botticelli:

... and some ("Botticelli") is an attempt to engage with fanfiction and, on some level, both rehabilitate and deconstruct it."

I didn't want to do this over on that other LJ, but I'm curious so I have to ask:
I can see how Botticelli deconstructs MFU, but not the fanfic. And what do you mean by "rehabilitate"?
by "rehabilitate" I mean "take it seriously."

*g* as for the engaging fanfiction thing, I seem to be batting about 50% on that one. I may have been a bit more subtle with it than I intended. Which is an ongoing sin of mine. The POV in the story--the plural-you-is intended to be the community of fans, and those sections intended to be a discussion of fanon and the folk process and the very cool fluidity of that whole thing--how different interpretations exist side by side with the source text. It's all theland of maybe.

It's the opposite of limiting possibilities.

It's seriously neat stuff, what you guys are doing.
If you're doing something you love, and loving the ones around you, I think that takes back some of the darkness in the world. And that's not trivial at all.


The answer to the question "What can I do?" is in the question itself: "Do what I can."

Slop them hogs, write them books, and help us maybe understand something about this crazy mess we call life.
that's the plan, isn't it? do whatever you're best at....
Word, about Omelas.

The stories live in the cracks. The cracks have the most stress.

---L.
Nice turn of phrase. You must be a poet or something. *g*
We have to choose, and a part of us hates it and feels guilty no matter what we choose, I think. (Says the person who just justified both skipping a peace march because, well, it's Girl Scout cookie season and I'm already putting in hours and hours of volunteer work each week. But who knows that such a tradeoff sounds terribly banal, as does admitting that we can only save so much of the world because saving the world takes time.)

Actually, I have discovered lately that I can find the dystopia in any society; there is always somebody for whom a given social order means suffering. Which is one of the things that "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" means to me.

It's one of the things that story needs to me. The other is that, until we find out that there's a price, that someone is suffering, we don't believe in the world. And that says something about us, though I'm not sure what.
It also means to me that we bear a responsibility for that suffering, even if we cannot alleviate it. And that if we cannot choose to alleviate it, we can at least choose not to profit by it.

But it's hard.

Serendipity

I read this in my pre-coffee blear, and then went to make oatmeal. And coffee. Came back upstairs and pulled out Bird by Bird, because I've been working my way through it a chapter a day before writing, to remind myself there's more to that book than the "Shitty First Drafts" chapter.

And came across this:

My friend Carpenter says we no longer need Chicken Little to tell us the sky is falling, because it already has. The issue now is how to take care of each other. Some of us are interested in any light you might be able to shed on this, and we will pay a great deal extra if you can make us laugh about it.

Which resonated a great deal with:
Because those are my hogs, and they have to be slopped. It makes a difference to the hogs. It makes a difference to me....Trivial, trivial, trivial. But every one of those things makes a difference.

Thank you, for thwapping me on the head and making me pay attention to what I'm doing. I would have skipped right over that bit of Anne Lamott if I hadn't already been primed by your post, and then going back to read your post again--well, I'm now fully awake. In my current novel, the world (1349 Cornwall), the world has just ended, and now people are trying to figure out how to keep slopping their hogs; you just encapsulated for me exactly where to keep my focus.

Even 650 years ago, people were living inside a dystopian disaster novel. And to my mind, the end of the world isn't nearly as interesting as what comes after that. ;)

Re: Serendipity

Even 650 years ago, people were living inside a dystopian disaster novel. And to my mind, the end of the world isn't nearly as interesting as what comes after that. ;)

Trust you to sum up in a sentence what takes me 500 words. *g*
[...]there is always somebody for whom a given social order means suffering. Which is one of the things that "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" means to me.

But if that's true, there's no point in walking away from Omelas.

BTW, I dub this Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem With Respect to Political Science.
Sure there's a point.

It's just a trivial point.

It's also not the *only* thing the story means to me--that one can be unpacked in so many different ways it's boggling. I still maintain it's one of the best pieces of fiction in the English language.

And I like your title.
I get up every day aware that their are people dying on my block: I live in one of the worse neighborhoods in North Las Vegas. It's not the worst neighborhood, but last weekend there were shootings within a few blocks of my house on both east and west sides.

I used to live in a small Southern town that had more civilian casualties, during the Civil War, than the next two-ranked towns combined. We used to joke that for four years, it must've been one of those things where you wake up in the morning, and look outside to see the flag over the courthouse to see who's running the town this week. My two-block walk to campus went past three houses with cannonballs still lodged in the walls; numerous stories of women hanging laundry as bombs fell in the next yard and shots down the street. Or the woman straightening a room where a cannonball came through the window, hit the floor, rolled out the door, down the hallway, down the stairs, and someone opened the door in time for it to roll out the front porch, into the yard...where it exploded. Sheesh.

Yeah, it's alternately frustrating and depressing, to see the world as-it-is and feel rather helpless to change it. Short of trotting up to the Capital and screaming at someone, what can I possibly change? But should we really stop living our lives, in the meantime? Maybe it's in living them that we do change things. It's not just as flashy, I suppose.
well said. and welcome.
Ok, this is gonna sound weird, and not at all the point of your post, but it's inspiring to hear what goes on in your day, and how you feel about your writing. You're obviously wicked productive, and you do all that AND a day job! Which is exactly what I'm up to.

In other news, I saw HAMMERED at the B&N the other day and smiled quietly to myself (and bought a copy, though I don't usually read SF! I'm a fantasy nrrd, really).
Which is exactly what I'm up to

And more power to you.

And thank you for the sighting--and the sale!
From one hog slopper to another, I heart you.
*g* *hearts back*
I may have to dig out my comments on "that tuesday"

What I did, when we found out about it, was go to work.

Maia, and I, you see, were working at the LA County Fair, where, mostly, we shoveld shit.

The cows, you see, didn't care that the country was in shock (and, to quote Dean Ing, it seems that shock was systemic). Nope, they needed to be fed, and to be milked, and cleaned up after.

The world doesn't end, until we die.

Until the, life goes on, and, as they say, "shit happens"

p.s. I also stopped to listen to the soaring movement of Haydn's Trumpet Concerto, as performed by Wynton Marsalis. For moment one could forget.

TK
For moment one could forget.

Amen.

Thanks, Terry. As always you are a voice of compassion in the wilderness.
Just got around to reading this. Loffly. Thank you.
you're welcome. *g*

I still love your little writer smiley best of all things.