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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

monkey, you are funny.

It's probably stupid of me to post this, because god knows I am having a problem lately with the Internets and the taking seriously and the lack of irony and the so on. Apparently, I have lost the ability to wink and nod to people. On the other hand, I am full of thinky, so here is my thinky.

Also, I used to be funny. Or perhaps people laughed because they were scared of me [please see footnote 7].

Okay, so. This is a repost of a post that I posted last night, because I thought it was funny, and it was two AM and I had been poking around on the Internets. Anyway, it got up some people's noses, so I pulled it down before the comment section could lose me any friends. So, yanno, before going any further, [please see footnote 1].

I am now reposting it, because I still think it's funny. I apologize to the three or four people whose comments got lost when I deleted: please feel free to repost.

Also, not so much with the taking myself seriously? Trust me, I am excruciatingly aware that of the something-more-than-six-billion people on Planet Earth, only 25,000 of them actually have or will ever notice I and my life's work exist, and maybe 5,000 of those actually, you know, care. My opinion is worth exactly what you pay for it. And in a million years we'll all be dead anyway. And yeah, I get het up about my Work and my Artistic Integrity sometimes, but that's because [see footnote 1].

However, Version 2.0 comes with Actual Discussion About What I Actually Think About Fanfiction. So be warned, David Pegg.


Actual discussion regarding what I think of fanfiction follows:

(But first, allow me to establish my bona fides.) When I talk about fanfiction and fandom, I am not coming to it as a complete outsider. God knows I wrote enough of it between the ages of, oh, 8-16. Although I kind of came to it on my own. There were no Internets in those days, and I had no actual friends. So I didn't actually realize I was writing fanfiction. On the other hand, it means I have a pretty good idea of what the primitive (in the technical artistic sense of primitive) fanfiction writer looks like, what she produces in isolation, and what the motives behind it are. In other words, I did a whole hell of a lot of taking settings that I really liked and adding female characters to them, because in those days there weren't many good women in media. I mean seriously, I liked Scarecrow and Mrs. King because of the strong female lead. I SHIT YOU NOT.

"Some of my best friends write fanfiction." I've certainly done enough defense-of-fanfiction here in the past, and as a result I've even been accused of being a fanfiction writer in disguise. Well, several fanfiction writers in disguise. Most notably, riba_rambles. I assume her husband can tell us apart, though.

I've also written a couple of things that qualify as fanfic with the serial numbers filed off enough to get them past the legal department. I qualify them as fanfiction because they rely *very heavily* on the meta conversation to have any value at all. And to be quite frank, the vast majority of my original fiction, at least at novel length, is reactive. I mean, I jokingly say that Carnival is what you get when you put "When it Changed" and Farnham's Freehold in a box and make them fight... but it's a hah hah only serious kind of thing. A Companion to Wolves is certainly reactive to the whole fuzzy animal companion wish-fulfillment fantasy subgenre. And Undertow is a spiritual descendant of Little Fuzzy and Downbelow Station and "The Word for World is Forest," and I won't pretend for an instant it's not.

Fanfiction [see footnote 4] interests me, frankly, because I think its narrative protocols are useful to any genre writer, anyone engaged in a genre conversation. And they're easy to see and pick out, because so much fanfiction is naive or primitive (much like the fanfiction I once wrote) and thus very easy to parse for narrative patterns. Its conventions are often quite naked. (Much like pre New Wave SF, which is also a quite naive literature. It's very easy to see what artists are doing when they are not quite certain themselves.) (On the other hand, there's some very sophisticated fanfiction, too.) (Please note that naive and sophisticated ARE NOT VALUE JUDGEMENTS. They are descriptions of auctorial understanding of and control over their craft, and the influence of outside/critical/editorial/peer protocols.)

What I'm saying here is that I find great value in understanding how the narrative protocols in fanfiction works, because it doesn't work any differently than any other genre of fiction. Just more transparently.

Also, I hang out on the edges of several fan communities, and while I never quite have the gumption to become active in anything beyond the occasional conversation, I have been a peripheral member of media and SFF fandom since 1989. So if you are moved to make a condescending remark in comments about how maybe I should read some fanfiction before I try to categorize it, [please see footnote 2]. And remember, not categorizing. Examining the narrative protocols behind it [please see footnote 5].



And now, the list.

Things I learned this week:

1. Autocannibalism is even more fun than necrophilia. I mean, to type.

Pervert.

2. Fanfiction falls into develops from three [rough] categories[see footnote 3] narrative protocols: porn, subversion, and white-space patching. Of that last grouping, we may say that there is the fanfiction that patches over the unintentional or broken or disregareded holes in the narrative. And then there is the fanfiction that exists because some people have a hard time with any white space--even when it's the kind of negative space that's more interesting than the narrative. This latter is a form of close reading, and is sometimes interesting on those terms, but does tend to defeat nuance, whereas the first form can create nuance where no nuance was there to be found. (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter fandom.) [see footnote 6]

ETA: (below, [info]jonquil and [info]veejane point out that there is in indeed a fourth category, which is to say faux-episodes actually intended to mimic the original material. This? Is truth. On the other hand, I do find that a lot of those do a certain amount of white-space patching or subversion themselves. Things like, oh, examining the curious paternalistic moral and ethical gaps in The Man from UNCLE. *carefully doesn't look at friends list*) /ETA

2a. Also, buttsex. (Which as we all know is still just an anagram for subtext.)

3. Nature adores a vacuum.

4. The universe does not exist to flatter me. Dammit.

5. The only way out is through.

6. You can never go wrong with autocannibalism.

7. Or trebuchets.

8. Especially trebuchets.

9. If you work for twelve hours, and then putter around on the internets for a little while, it gets to be late very quickly.

10. It doesn't get less late if you type top ten lists.

11. The internets take themselves more seriously than I do.

11a. They also take me more seriously than I do.



[footnote 1: Monkey, you we are funny.]

[footnote 2: You kids get the hell off my lawn.]

[footnote 3: I see part of my error here. The word "categories" is very ill chosen. Because of course what I'm talking about is an examination of narrative protocols, not the imposition of genre boundaries. I kind of don't care in the slightest about genre boundaries, and have been heard to opine, in SFF, that they're just marketing categories and can we all stop taking it so damned seriously? [see footnote 1]]

[footnote 4: fanfiction doesn't actually exist. Or, more precisely, fanfiction is a modern name for something that never needed a name before the advent of copyright law, because anybody was free to take any story and respond to it, adapt it, switch it around and claim it for their own. However, I think modern fanfiction is particularly interesting because it operates in opposition to and commentary upon a shared body of work--canon and fanon both--in much the same way that SFF operates in opposition to and commentary upon a shared body of work. As does all the Arthuriana, Shakespeariana, Sherlockiana, etc etc etc.]

[footnote 5: I so have no use for categories. I almost always find them unrealistically binary, hard-edged, and divisive. Well, they're meant to be divisive. But the divisiveness is often v. silly. It's easier and more accurate to say, I think, that something contains elements of X and Y and Z than it is to try to decide if it is X or Y or Z]

[footnote 6: This comment was originally meant to be kind of hah hah only serious, but when I first posted it, people took it Very Seriously. For future reference, I am only Very Serious when talking about human rights abuses and what a foolish pack of monkeys we are to be shitting where we eat. And even then, I'm also aware that the cosmos does not care one bit if we wipe ourselves out, even if we take ourselves awfully seriously, and forget to [see footnote 1].

The rest of the time, I'm perfectly aware that most of what I talk about here is wank. [Well, sometimes I get a little hung up on my artistic integrity, but really, I'm as full of shit as the next monkey [see footnote 1].

Anyway, this is where it all gets interesting, because I think most fiction uses these same protocols. The ever-so-blurry dividing line between fanfiction and original fiction (neither of which exist) is more or less, to me, where one stops needing the meta to get the full effect of a story. In other words, you can read Carnival without knowing anything about Farnham's Freehold and still have a book that makes sense and has, I hope, an impact. When the primary impact of a story is metatextual, when it relies heavily on the reader's knowledge of an ur-text, and it's not written by the same guy who wrote the first story, then it's fanfic.]

[footnote 7: NB: I am of Swedish, Celtic, and Ukrainian extraction. If you're not sure if I'm joking, I'm joking. If you're pretty sure nobody would be joking about something that dark and horrible, I'm joking. If you are about to get really het up over something I said that challenges your fundamental assumptions about what's important in the universe... I'm serious. But I still think it's funny, because in a million years we'll all be dead anyway. [see footnote 8]]

[footnote 8: if you were offended, that was a joke. [see footnote 9]]

[footnote 9: if you weren't offended, that was still a joke.]

.

Comments

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12. Airships make EVERYTHING better. So do swordfights. And swordfights on airships are comedy gold.
Ooo.

I wish I had thought of that.

Am I making more sense now?
Dayum, woman, that's why I love reading your posts. :D
*g* I'm trying, lord. I'm trying. [meta]
Huh. I thought it was funny the first time around. Perhaps I should be more encouraging and responsive, or something.

I agree that people need to learn to take...things...including themselves....less seriously.

*ditto*
*iconloff*

I also like "textual poaching." Which is different but useful.
I'm late to the party, because I was going to read the old comments and you pulled the entry down, but it strikes me that people tend to take both themselves and others far too seriously. Particularly when the others are considered "authority figures" who seem to "know what they're talking about."

It is quite possible that you were mistaken for such a person. ;)

As for #4, I cannot speak for the universe. But I did go on at length as to how you're pretty shiny after you swore off reviews.
*snrch*

Suuureeee. Yes, I got word of several good ones after I decided I was doing myself no favors....

Thank you.
/shrug/

I thought this was interesting and amusing the first time, and I still think it's interesting and amusing, and I am still not enough of a fiction writer of any genre, type, class, category, sub-type, genus, species, family, or association (wait, does that last one go there?) to have any comments to make about any of it.
The thing I like about you is that you have a tag called "arrant pedantry."
"Which is that MOST discussions of fanfic by Serious People are basically anthropological in nature. Which is perfectly fine and interesting, but frustrating to fic writers in much the same way I think truepenny was frustrated. "

This is most wise indeed. I go hair-trigger on it just because I've seen my people described as if they were zoo animals once too often. Which leads to my attacking my friends even when they are behaving completely courteously. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
2a. Also, buttsex. (Which as we all know is still just an anagram for subtext.)

*cackles right out loud*

Well, that's my life-extending laugh for the day.

Anyway, I just read Carnival, and the comparison to Farnham's Freehold didn't occur to me at the time. Now that it's mentioned, I see what you mean... and I have to say that I love living in a time where science fiction and fantasy are old and prolific enough that newer sff authors can be reactive to a variety of work in the same genre.

You make an excellent point here in that any genre of fiction is influenced by what comes before; there's no escaping that, whether one is conscious about it or not. It seems much healthier to be self-aware of this, as you are-- and affords the author more control, too.

Normal though reactive literature is, it tickles me so much that this is happening not just to Milton, Spenser, Dumas, and Ovid, but to Heinlein too. It feels a little more personal when it involves people alive during my own lifetime.
Amen, dat.

You know you've arrived when arrogant young whippersnappers start arguing with you in print.
This is interesting, and I want to think about it (if I can get past those "curious paternalistic moral and ethical gaps"--not my Mr. Waverly, surely?), but I got stuck on

footnote 4: fanfiction doesn't actually exist. Or, more precisely, fanfiction is a modern name for something that never needed a name before the advent of copyright law, because anybody was free to take any story and respond to it, adapt it, switch it around and claim it for their own.

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the value of the argument, but it does irritate me for some stupid reason to say that something doesn't exist because it didn't exist at one time. Or was not named before.

All things which exist have names? How can that be, when we haven't identified all things yet? And yes, some things change character in response to other things--for example, a practice which was taken for granted at one time now looks different because of some other thing. Blood feud, fanfiction, whatever. The thing is, the character has changed in response to something new, and we put a name on it to recognize it. Saying fanfiction doesn't exist just because at one time we looked at it differently is like saying the copyright law doesn't exist.

Things change. New things come into being, and they change existing things. Evolutionary forces at work.

I really ought to check the liquor content in my breakfast banana bread before I start reading LJ. Or check the dark-and-gloomy Celtic at the door....
Oh, I absolutely don't think fanfiction, as a narrative form, is any different from a significant percentage of quote unquote not-fanfiction.

It's a legal distinction, in other words, not a genre one.
yeppers.
Back in my grad school daze, it was considered ye height of coolth to have your glosses and footnotes exceed the length of the text. High five!
Hee. *g* We try.
Aside from veganism, I've found that no topic makes me as many enemies as fan fiction. (I don't like either one, and continue to be mystified as to why people who do give a crap about my opinion.)
Hee. Evangelism?
(But first, allow me to establish my bona fides.) When I talk about fanfiction and fandom, I am not coming to it as a complete outsider. God knows I wrote enough of it between the ages of, oh, 8-16. Although I kind of came to it on my own. There were no Internets in those days, and I had no actual friends. So I didn't actually realize I was writing fanfiction. On the other hand, it means I have a pretty good idea of what the primitive (in the technical artistic sense of primitive) fanfiction writer looks like, what she produces in isolation, and what the motives behind it are. In other words, I did a whole hell of a lot of taking settings that I really liked and adding female characters to them, because in those days there weren't many good women in media. I mean seriously, I liked Scarecrow and Mrs. King because of the strong female lead. I SHIT YOU NOT.

You Are Me And I Claim My Five Pounds!

Except I started in about, oh, 1965 (being at the time a ten year old articulate bundle of angst). I wrote stories that went on from the point where the stories I was given in print and on TV went off the rails and hit the dreaded Interest VS Irritation Divide.

I'm old enough to be the female Father William in discussions like this. I remember going to SF cons in the wild and woolly pre-Internet days and there'd be these furtive little clumps of people (almost always girls and women) head down over smeared and dog eared carbons of what others called 'their little stories'. Naive and primitive as all hell, on the one hand. Asking some interesting questions, on the other. 'There are no female star ship captains/00 agents/Dread Pirates/Rangers from the North.' Well, why the hell not? And what if there were?

I once had someone inform me (pronouncing the Capitals and all) that 'To Be A Fan Is A Proud And Lonely Thing'. I looked around the hotel lobby at the overwhelmingly male crowd and shrugged. 'Dude, try being me here.' And I think there was a lot of that in the way the fanfiction communities have developed.

Even outsiders got their outsiders, you know?

We are very funny monkeys indeed.
Welcome to the monkey house, man. Welcome to the monkey house.
once again i read all this heartfelt stuff, and all i can glean is that i'm old and dont know what all the fuss is about.. Some permutaion of Pratchettian L-Space, i suppose. I remember reading George R.R. Martin's "Silverlock" and feeling pleased and irritiated at the same time, as it is fan fiction and pastiche of everything at once..

I rather like Victorian pastiches, all that Sherlockiona stuff, is that fanfic?.. is "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"? How about "Anno Dracula"? "Solar Pons"

It's all L-Space. It's either something you like, or something you don't like.

I agree that categories are a waste of time and fine occupation for obsessives. I'm coming from music here, and thirty years after Devo and the Sex Pistols, people think category has any relevence. Just record bin titles to me. But if you care, then care. I dont care if you care.

In a way we're are all writing takeoffs on Gilgamesh, Homer and Herodotus anyway. L-Space again. "It's just words on paper, kids."

And if im totally off base on this and missed the point entire, well, that's what you get from maundring old farts.
nope, you got it.

It's all folk process.
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