From my journal, May 1994:
"Did you see the annular eclipse? It was a perfect day for it here: high- clouded blue, the trees leafed out or leafing, still pale green, a trifle rumpled with unpacking. Light breezes in the dappled grass. Clean rainwashed air. By one, the flawless clarity of light began to dim. A queer dark, neither dusk nor overcast. Underexposed. The moon worked strange equations of light and space and time: as if the world were bright but somehow distant, or later on but here, or nowhere, now. Sharp shadows, and a cooler spectrum, a flattening and heightening of space- time, like a scene in a camera obscura. Like a view of Delft. (Vermeer composed his pictures through a camera obscura, casting its image on the canvas, painting light not line. It gives a dreamlike surreality.) A few birds clamored in the trees, confused or settling.
"Then the air was tranced. The trees were underwater, underhill. Elsewhere. Dark-dazzled, like a world enstoned in crystal: dark within, but lightedged, and refracting light.. Glimpsed sidelong through film, the sun was crescent, heavy, like a raindrop streaming; but of fire. Ablaze but coldly: vermeil, silver-gilt. The oddest thing I’d not expected, and
it stopped me with a shock of wonder. (I must have read of it, long since; but I’d forgotten.) Through the screen of new leaves, at the fringes of the shadows, the sun cast thousands of light crescents, imaging itself. It spelled itself on earth.
"This evening clear, the sky almost colorless, faint gold; then the deepest endless blue and Venus riding air."
Honestly, it's like a variation on Lewis's law*: Boycs' explanation for why he hasn't been knighted shows why he mustn't be knighted.
However, speaking of white knights, a whole bunch of Boycott supporters have crawled out of the woodwork on twitter, claiming that the only reason their hero hasn't had the respect he deserves is because of that pesky domestic violence conviction from 1998, and after all, that was in France so it barely counts and anyway, she was probably lying.
And since most of them are talking about "new evidence" I thought it was my public duty to do a little gentle fact checking, as a resource for others who may have to deal with these pests.
( Read more... )
Anyway, as kalypso and I have known since the early 80s, the block to his knighthood lies not in his domestic violence conviction, his racism, his ban from Test cricket as a result of touring apartheid-era South Africa, his running out of Randall or his all-round painful personality. It lies in the deep dark reason everyone in the know knows, but no-one can talk about.
*"The comments below any article on feminism justify feminism".
What I read
Finished The Private Patient, which was readable enough, I suppose, but felt not exactly as if PDJ was phoning it in, just proceeding along well-worn ruts. Found it hard to believe in the characters. Also, while PDJ does have a sense that there is Modern Life, and makes a nod to it in Miskin, she still feels in a bit of a time-warp (unlike Rendell/Vine)
Read Ginger Frost's Illegitimacy in English Law and Society, 1860-1930 (2016), which was a freebie for reading a book proposal and I have been trying to get to for months, because Frost's work is always good and going into areas very under-explored. This one looks at illegitimacy from the angle of the illegitimate children (rather than the fallen mother) and is densely researched. Also more than a little depressing - illegitimate children had a very high mortality rate, if they weren't the victims of infanticide by desperate mothers they were subject to neglect or the general problems of poverty. Also the cruelty of the laws took so very long to change. But Frost does get the ambivalances: courts and local officials being sympathetic to the plight of unwed mothers and thus giving merciful judgments in infanticide cases, giving mothers out-relief rather than obliging them to go into the workhouse, demonstrating a certain flexibility; while thinking actually changing the rules would lead to the downfall of morality.
Also finished one of two books I have for a joint review, which also deal with a rather depressing topic.
On the go
Tanith Lee, Nightshades: Thirteen Journeys into Shadow (1993, and collecting some much earlier material). Some of these have been in other collections of hers I've read recently. Very good, if creepy.
Also, have started second book for the joint review.
If it ever arrives, the new Barbara Hambly Benjamin January mystery.
She got back to me and said she really liked my fourth chapter, that I basically delivered more than expected, and the dissertation's finally ready to be sent to the rest of my committee. So of course this meant I stayed up until 4am, checking footnotes and making sure everything looked okay so I could save it as a PDF for submission.
Today I went to campus specifically to shut down the office computer and send my diss along, asking if they could let me know whether there was feedback I'd need more than a month to address. Either way, I FINALLY submitted my diss for format review. ProQuest was an arcane thing which made me feel like I was being hoodwinked somehow. I could pay nothing and just let my diss be searchable on engine, or I could pay $95 and have my diss be distributed on more media and this latter option is called "Open Access"??? That's fucked up. And the whole thing about CC licenses, gah, IDK, in the end I went with no licenses, and no copyright purchase, because I just couldn't deal. I'm hoping I don't regret it and get to go back and change some things.
Anyway, format review!! It's one of the very latter stages of dissertating so.... I'm kind of shaken up about it.
I also meant to turn in my office key (and other keys) but Vonnie wasn't around, and I would rather give them to her directly and thank her for being so cool about letting me keep the office way past my time.
I saw Aviya in her office and chatted with her a while, and Soonyoung was doing her third written exam so I walked with her afterwards. Then I came across JJ and walked home with her too. I went to Starbucks to write some fanfic (delayed Strange Magic Week prompts) and spin some Pokestops.
After dinner, I armed myself with shoes and my Pokemon Go Plus, and did my evening thing. Every time there was a long stretch, I'd break into a short jog. At first, I did it up to a count of 20, then I was doing 30s, and 40. I can't really tell what a full second looks like, and didn't want to overdo it by running a full five minutes when I don't even know what that looks like.
It was good! I think I definitely pushed myself a little without burning myself to exhaustion. I stopped to check the pokegyms, but otherwise did not stop at all. Gosh it's so nice to be able to keep going with minimal stopping?? And STILL catch pokemon? I am digging it.
Gonna *try* to sleep earlier tonight.
Lots of Kris Ripper and Alexis Hall in this batch.
Breaking Down (Scientific Method Universe #4) - Kris Ripper ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Ripper once again puts zir characters through the emotional ringer.
This time we get the aftermath of an offscreen sexual assault and a breakup that's painful for everyone involved. ( read more )
Roller Coasters (Scientific Method Universe #5) - Kris Ripper ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book really centers Will's struggles and insecurities about his place in Hugh and Truman's relationship, which is a thing I'd wanted (and Ripper had been working up to) for several books. ( read more )
The Boyfriends Tie the Knot (Scientific Method Universe #6) - Kris Ripper ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
So much going on in this book and it's all just fabulous. ( read more )
The Honeymoon (The Scientific Method Universe #7) - Kris Ripper ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
And with that the main arc about Will and Hugh and Truman's relationship comes to a perfect close. ( read more )
For Real - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a fabulous BDSM romance between two characters with an 18-year age difference. I love that kind of thing, but if large age differences make you uncomfortable this book is not for you. ( read more )
The Art Of Three - Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese ★ ★ ★
A sweet, relatively low-drama poly romance. ( read more )
Spectred Isle (Green Men #1) - K.J. Charles ★ ★ ★ ★
An excellent beginning to a new series. While the romance is central and significant, this is above-all a well-built supernatural fantasy. ( read more )
Extremes (Scientific Method Universe #8) - Kris Ripper ★ ★ ★ ★
Short and incredibly intense. ( read more )
Silver Moon - Catherine Lundoff ★ ★ ★ ★
Menopausal werewolves! What's not to love? ( read more )
Glitterland (Glitterland #1) - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★
There was a lot I loved about this book and a few things that really didn't work for me. ( read more )
Gays Of Our Lives (Queers of La Vista #1) - Kris Ripper - ★ ★ ★ ★
A charming romance with a delightfully disgruntled disabled protagonist. ( read more )
Aftermath (Glitterland #1.5) - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★
A nice epilogue that ties up some dangling threads from the book, but I'm still just not in love with this couple.
Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold ★ ★ ★ ★
Probably my favourite of the Penric stories so far. Nominally a murder mystery, but there is only ever one obvious suspect. ( read more )
Sand and Ruin and Gold - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★ ★
A disturbing and unsettling story about captivity and freedom and connection.
Romantic in its own way but decidedly not a romance.
In Vino - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★ ★
Short story starring a secondary character from For Real, available for free for joining Hall's mailing list.
Fucked up, self-destructive asshole has fucked up, self-destructive and really ill-considered sex. It's like watching a train wreck. I really hot, decidedly kinky train wreck.
Fire Thief - Jordan Castillo Price ★ ★
Short story. Picked up as a first sample of a frequently-recced writer.
Enjoyable enough, but the way the love interest's disability was concealed and then revealed as if it were somehow shocking left me cold.
Shatterproof - Xen Sanders ★ ★ ★
I found this book frustrating. I liked it, but I really wanted to love it and I could just never get there. ( read more )
Daughter of Mystery (Alpennia #1) - Heather Rose Jones ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I LOVED this book and I'm definitely looking forward to the next two books in the series.
Complicated, smart and constantly-surprising fantasy with a great lesbian romance. ( read more )
Heart of the Steal - Avon Gale & Roan Parrish ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Well, that was completely delightful.
Philanthropist who dabbles in art theft meets cute guy at a party and decides to impress him with a gift of illicitly acquired art. Cute guy turns out to be an FBI Agent. Art Crimes divisions. Eh heh heh, oops? ( read more )
Prosperity (Prosperity #1) - Alexis Hall ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I keep expecting the Prosperity series to be light and airy and vaguely fluffy. Airships! Skytowns! A street urchin named Piccadilly and a crime-lord named Milord! It sounds like the fluffiest of fluff. But it's so much more. It's also complex and tangled and so fucking honest about the complexity of love and emotion and connection. ( read more )
Rebecca Solnit's latest collection of essays - The Mother of All Questions - is comprised of pieces written between 2014 and 2016, before the seachange in American life that followed the election of Donald Trump. It seems ironic to be reading, now, of Solnit's guarded optimism on some of the goals of feminist action, such as this passage from her introduction:
"This book deals with men who are ardent feminists as well as men who are serial rapists, and it is written in the recognition that all categories are leaky and we must use them provisionally. It addresses the rapid social changes of a revitalized feminist movement in North America and around the world that is not merely altering the laws. It’s changing our understanding of consent, power, rights, gender, voice, and representation. It is a gorgeously transformative movement led in particular by the young, on campuses, on social media, in the streets, and my admiration for this fearlessly unapologetic new generation of feminists and human rights activists is vast."
I say guarded, because she does follow this with a comment expressing her "...fear of the backlash against it, a backlash that is itself evidence of the threat feminism, as part of the broader project of liberation, poses to patriarchy and the status quo."
Well, the backlash is ramping up - defunding of Planned Parenthood, insane laws surrounding access to abortion that harass not only women who seek to terminate pregnancies but also those who suffer miscarriages, attempts to deny health insurance coverage to all kinds of women's health issues including childbirth - and so it is the more pessimistic parts of these essays, rather than the ones that look at some degree of progress and hope tor more, that resonate with me in my reading. Maybe some day I'll be able to reread this volume and feel the hope.
The cornerstone of the collection is a long essay on silence - the meanings of silence, who is silenced and when, and why, who does the silencing, who is not silenced. It opens thus:
"Silence is golden, or so I was told when I was young. Later, everything changed. Silence equals death, the queer activists fighting the neglect and repression around AIDS shouted in the streets. Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and of what can be said and who listens. Silence occurs in many ways for many reasons; each of us has his or her own sea of unspoken words.
"English is full of overlapping words, but for the purposes of this essay, regard silence as what is imposed and quiet as what is sought. The tranquility of a quiet place, of quieting one’s own mind, of a retreat from words and bustle, is acoustically the same as the silence of intimidation or repression but psychically and politically something entirely different. What is unsaid because serenity and introspection are sought is as different from what is not said because the threats are high or the barriers are great as swimming is from drowning."
What follows is a discussion of the ways that the voices of the marginalised - Solnit focuses on women but acknowledges that her observations are true of any similarly oppressed and silenced group - are dismissed, ignored, repressed, and stopped, so that they cannot speak the truths of their lived experience, of discrimination, of targeted violence, of injustice and unregarded pain and suffering.
Other essays in the collection take on a variety of feminist issues, from the prevalence of rape jokes, to the expectation of motherhood for all women to the falsehood of the anthropological myth of man the hunter as the ingrained template of our gender-based social roles and expectations.
Solnit is always readable, and her critiques of misogyny and patriarchy are as always well thought out and expressed. I do, however, find myself wishing for more acknowledgement of intersectionality and the ways that the issues she addresses affect women of colour, queer and disabled women as distinct from 'women' - which too often means white women. But it must also be said that she does make such acknowledgements more often than other white feminists whose work I've read.
Lauren Chun, The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi (2012)
Read Vongerichten for a fusion tour. Read Chun to distinguish older and newer (she labels). Neither book could have existed without a family member: Vongerichten's three-star chef husband enabled the TV show on which the book rests, and Chun acknowledges the restaurant in which she was raised, though she doesn't trouble herself to credit by name the ajummas who labored in her mother's kitchen.
Both have a great grounding in writing and showing what one knows, however. Vongerichten is admirably matter-of-fact in crossing among the restaurants where she and Jean-Paul dined (thence recreated or adapted a dish), remembrances of her adoptive parents, and remembrances of her birth mother. She lived with the latter till she was three years old, then parted and re-met when she was grown. Chun studied law and worked as a wine buyer before returning to kimchi, the one thing her mother had warned her not to share with non-Koreans, which made me wonder whether we're of similar age; quite a few K Ams from the US West Coast have this story about their childhoods, without Chun's backing (or Roy Choi's) of restaurant-quality food.
(Japanese miso soup and ramen were acceptably exotic, but Japanese anything was protected by the coolness of their electronics during that mini-era. Korean food was nearly unknown even in southern California unless you lived right atop K-town or (where Chun was) Orange County's Garden Grove/Anaheim pocket. Otherwise, you were assumed Chinese, a situation aided by the fact that some Chinese restaurants served pickled cabbage, whether in their own right (northerly tradition) or because they were run by Koreans.)
(This also has way more to do with Aunt B's current pile of problems than it does my phone usage and breakage, and I realize that, but Oh my god I did not need that right then.)
So tired. Just from the weekend and the last few days, so, so tired. I just want a few days of not having to do anything, which isn't going to happen anytime soon because writing projects (okay, those I mind less) and every other goddamn thing. At this point I think I really am going to skip capoeira so I can have another four to six hours to prep for DragonCon, although by prep I mostly mean watch TV at this point. But I'll feel less rattled if I watch TV while I capoeira rather than go to capoeira, push myself into exhaustion, get home, fall over hard, etc.
I also did realize that if I want to have proof copies for DragonCon I need to finish formatting everything TOMORROW and probably have it shipped to the damn hotel. Which is fine and all, but oh my god this was supposed to be done this weekend so I could have it shipped and get here by Friday and, well. The weekend happened. It was a bad, exhausting weekend. On the plus side if I go to bed early enough tonight (read: on time, plus sleeping through the damn night thank you Aunt B for that fit of 3am anxiety) I should have the energy to deal with it tomorrow and I have a computer that can handle Scrivener at work now, so I can fuck around with that there.
Okay. Making a to-do list for work tomorrow, and then going the fuck to sleep like a good, responsible writer. The Turing Shrugged cover art is good enough for a test proof anyway. That'll do, kitten. That'll do.