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- Shim on When He's Right He's Right, When He's Wrong He's Frank Belknap Wrong at 20:50 on 18-03-2017 - link Well, when you put it like that... no rush though, maybe bring it along to a game? Unless you're desperate to get it out of the house, I mean.
- Arthur B on When He's Right He's Right, When He's Wrong He's Frank Belknap Wrong at 12:38 on 18-03-2017 - link I can post you the book if you like, I'm not going to reread it and you can be amused by the cheap production values.
Shim on When He's Right He's Right, When He's Wrong He's Frank Belknap Wrong
at 19:03 on 16-03-2017 - link
On Chaugnar Faugn: I've never read the story and, given your review, don't intend to (a shame, because some aspects of the entity as I've seen it mentioned it sound moderately interesting).
I did run across this depiction of a monster which is my current headcanon for Chaugnar Faugn; the "dude with elephant head" being clearly the half-baked rambling of some Brits who once saw a photograph of a statue of Ganesh.
Arthur B on Musings on Race in Fantasy or: Why Ron Weasley isn't Black
at 17:31 on 16-03-2017 - link
Interesting to see this one pop out of the archives, seeing how, whilst Ron is still not black in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hermione is.
I am with you on the utter uselessness of "dusky" as a description of someone's skin colour. So far as I can make out, it can apply to anyone who is not an actual albino.
http://keysersose.blogspot.co.uk/ on Musings on Race in Fantasy or: Why Ron Weasley isn't Black
at 16:41 on 16-03-2017 - link
I had a similar argument with my writer chums the other day, and Harry Potter was the example we used as well.
Generally, fantasy writers treat white as default (consciously or unconsciously), and expect the readership to assume characters are white unless otherwise specified (again, consciously or unconsciously). That annoys me, so I have a somewhat petulant policy of mentally depicting all characters as black unless their ethnicity/race is actually specified.
Harry Potter actually deserves some praise for never specifying the race of characters, which is a thing a lot of authors do dp. Rowling implies ethnicity through character description, or with stereotypical "ethnic" names, but she never goes so far as to tell you that Hermione is white British or Dumbledore is Persian. This is better than when a writer tells you a character is black (when skin colour has no apparent significance to the story or setting). I assume this is a middle-class, white guilt thing where they feel it necessary to indicate there are indeed people of colour in their book, but it kind of backfires because they only mention a character's skin colour when they are not white, implying white is the default setting. It is also usually the case that these POCs are relegated to support characters, and the author has reinforced the fact that the protagonist is lily-white. If I was a non-white reader, I might have imagined the protagonist up to a point of matching my ethnicity. The lack of mention initially communicates that I can imagine what I like. But then this stupid rule about pointing out the brown people asserts the white-is-default rule, and that means my mental image must be wrong.
This issue also came up when reading the Kingkiller series, in that one of the characters is meant to be non-white, but it wasn't apparent to most of the readership because the character was described as "dusky" skinned, which could be used to describe anyone from Megan Fox to Grace Jones. Qvothe has the red hair, and the references to pubs and lutes imply a generic European medieval setting, but now there is this weird alternative problem where the description is so vague, it is basically pointless description except to imply everyone else isn't dusky coloured (and so therefore white). Qvothe himself has read hair, but is also from some cultural equivalent to Romani/Travellers. Fine, I think. Qvothe is black too.
Arthur B on Machen Fairies Grim Again
at 22:07 on 12-03-2017 - link
I get that to a certain extent, but he seems to combine that awareness with a certain paternalism. There literally isn't a single powerful woman in his work - at least in the stories collected in the above collections - who isn't some sort of vile sorceress. (See the Green Book narrator, see the Green Book narrator's nanny, see Helen Vaughn, see the nameless woman in The Three Impostors, see the nanny in Change, see the lady of the house in The Bright Boy.)
I would say, in fact, that The Great God Pan and The Inmost Light are the only examples where a woman goes off the rails because a man did something vile (and in the case of Pan it isn't even the woman the vile thing happens to - Helen Vaughn didn't get trepanned, her mum did).
Basically, for Machen the problem isn't that women are oppressed and subjected to the power of men so much as men don't use that power in the wise and caring way God intended. Every time they try to take power in their own right, someone suffers for it and the result is sin and degradation.
Ichneumon on Machen Fairies Grim Again
at 20:42 on 12-03-2017 - link
To which I would respond that Machen seems unusually aware of the shittiness of his own society in its treatment of women and girls for a man of his time. Not that his attitudes are especially progressive, but it seems that when a woman does something frightening in a Machen story, it's usually instigated, directly or indirectly, by a man doing something similarly vile; "The Great God Pan" and "The Inmost Light" immediately spring to mind. The narrator of the Green Book is something of an exception until one takes into account her age and the environment in which she has been raised: If you were a teenage girl in an upper-middle-class Victorian household, constantly stifled by societal expectations, wouldn't you be tempted to rebel in some way? Mayhap a secret way, a secret and nasty one...? I feel like there's a certain sympathy for the girl in the text, while also being terrified of what she can do and what she is becoming—the desire to save a soul that does not know what they are *really* doing, but knowing that it would always be too late.
The other exception which immediately leaps to mind is in The Three Imposters, but there are a lot of other open questions about that character.
Arthur B on Machen Fairies Grim Again
at 10:57 on 11-03-2017 - link
Ah, but Ambrose/Machen doesn't say that this stuff was evil because it was based on flinging curses at people, does he? Moreover, he talks up how sanctity and sin can look very, very similar, which raises the question of whether there's a context where hanging out with these beings and flinging curses is spiritually justified. (I mean, if you think all power through supernatural violence is illegitimate on the face of it then a great swathe of the Old Testament becomes indefensible.)
To be fair to Machen, in his wider body of work there do seem to be examples of a more positive/sacred interaction with these things and powers. See, for instance, the poltergeist subplot in Out of the Picture - the kid at the centre of that genuinely seems to be innocent and it seems to be happening as a sort of alarm bell to notify of danger originating elsewhere, rather than as a curse of the sort the Green Book's author uses. Likewise, see Opening the Door, where the guy who makes contact with the is a perfectly innocent clergyman whose mind is very much on very abstract theological stuff.
But taken by itself, The White People doesn't give us much of that. And also some of the use of curses therein seem justifiable but textually condemned anyway - for instance, there's the witch who kills those guys with curses because they were going to force her to marry one of them. Extreme, yes, but in context it seems like her only way out of the situation; then again a Victorian reader would probably have far less of a problem with marital rape than we would.