Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 16:57 on 20-02-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
valse, I would like to apologize to you for that post I made yesterday. We may have fundamental disagreements in worldview, but there was no excuse for writing what I did. It was a crude insult written out of anger and frustration at the tone of the conversation, and I am sorry that I wrote it.
permalink
at 05:20 on 20-02-2012, valse de la lune
@Shimmin: It looks, to be uncharitable, low-budget. It's also fairly nonsensical. I don't remember much about the plot now except that there wasn't much of one, but they were on this planet to do... stuff and there are Chaos Marines and... stuff. Actually if you watch it and can explain the plot to me that'd be neat.
permalink
at 23:18 on 19-02-2012, James D
Yep, the choice of maps is fantastic.

I was especially pleased (and surprised) to see the map from The Phantom Tollbooth featured so prominently, I spent a lot of time as a kid studying that map. It's still one of my favorite children's books, and still stands up today.
permalink
at 23:00 on 19-02-2012, Michal
I have started reading the cartography article, but am intimidated by the literarytheoriness of it and keep giving up.

Aw, the literarytheoriness was one reason I liked the article so much.

I have a passing interest in the history of cartography, and I am (like Nicholas) surprised that no one's done a full scholarly monograph on the fictional maps. I really love the idea of maps in fantasy novels that somehow reflect the culture that may have produced them. That ties right into the Yggdrasil point, too, in that fantasy maps need not conform to our own expectation of what a map "is", and can be read as their own texts (what's emphasized? What's not? And All That) beyond their function as representing the geography of some imaginary place.

I just didn't have any responses to it beyond "buh pretty pictures".

Yep, the choice of maps is fantastic. (There are some terribly bad fantasy maps out there, after all, that fail at both an artistic and practical level)
permalink
at 21:45 on 19-02-2012, Arthur B
@Michal: I thought the article was great, I just didn't have any responses to it beyond "buh pretty pictures".
permalink
at 21:44 on 19-02-2012, James D
The Yggdrasil point I also thought was very sound.

Yes, I liked that part too. Gene Wolfe's Wizard Knight series has that sort of 'cosmology map' at the beginning, and coincidentally enough those books draw heavily on Norse mythology.
permalink
at 21:08 on 19-02-2012, Shimmin
@Kyra: it's on LoveFILM, I'm happy to take you up on that.

@Valse: I'm intrigued. Could you expand on that, or is it just Generically Bad?
permalink
at 20:59 on 19-02-2012, Shimmin
@Michal: Okay, so I think I agree with the bits that I understand. Also there are lots of pretty maps.

In fairness I think the point about ambiguity slash room for interpretation is a very strong one that's undervalued. Maps can tend to constrain your imagination in terms of the book, and reduce the sense of being limited to the characters' knowledge, and they do increase the likelihood of plot holes. Also they tend to make geographers cry. The Yggdrasil point I also thought was very sound.
permalink
at 20:34 on 19-02-2012, valse de la lune
I watched the Ultramarine mini-film. It's... it's so very, very bad. I tried so hard to like it, I wanted to be charitable--Dan Abnett wrote the script!--but no. No. It didn't want me to like it.
permalink
at 20:28 on 19-02-2012, Shimmin
@Michal: I have started reading the cartography article, but am intimidated by the literarytheoriness of it and keep giving up. But I will try again.
permalink
at 20:28 on 19-02-2012, Wardog
OMG! Ferretbrain movie evening and podcast! And I know fuck-all about 40k :P
permalink
at 20:26 on 19-02-2012, Shimmin
I just remembered about the Ultramarines film they were making, which is now apparently out on DVD. Must find, watch.
permalink
at 20:24 on 19-02-2012, Michal
*Hopeful voice* Like fantasy cartography, maybe...?
permalink
at 20:22 on 19-02-2012, Guy
Here's a fun story about a fairly uncontroversial dude, one Mr Hitler. On her deathbed, Jean-Marie Loret's mother revealed to him who his real father was. I'm sure it would have added real poignancy to his viewings of The Empire Strikes Back, except he adds the detail that he was too depressed to go to the cinema for 20 years.
permalink
at 19:47 on 19-02-2012, Wardog
Okay, you'll probably have noticed that I've been avoiding the Bakker thing, and I don't have anything to contribute to that particular debate.

However, I think it's fair to say that this discussion is not productive – so can I ask that we talk about something that isn't Mr Bakker.
permalink
at 18:50 on 19-02-2012, Frank
When you whine about tone, it just shows your privilege and the lack of awareness of that privilege which is in itself, a privilege.
If you, a non-racist, say something racist even unintentionally and a person of color calls you out on it in a tone you dislike, do you disregard what that person has to say? It is not the responsibility of that person to make sure your feelings are okay when it is your statement that continues the dominant culture's oppressiveness. The comment doesn't need to be racist. It could be sexist, misogynistic, ablist, agist, homophobic, transphobic, sizist, classist, and whatever I'm missing. Those statements still devalue the human.
permalink
at 18:36 on 19-02-2012, valse de la lune
I read it in the sense of, at some level, "worthwhile art." I've already admitted I didn't read much in Bakker, but what I did see (yeah, I actually read more than five pages) didn't especially interest me--hence my original remark that the prose is "leaden as fuck." And the names with all their diacritics are hilarious. This holds true across most of the grimdark fantasy: take out the way it handled homosexuality and homophobia (and I think my opinion on that and Arthur's differ somewhat) and The Steel Remains doesn't have much to offer except swearing and cinematic violence, take out the fail of lesbian rape and I'm not sure what's there to see in The First Law trilogy except, at best, a middling effort to subvert popular fantasy tropes. What else? Maybe we could discuss the merits of objectivism as presented by Terry Goodkind.
permalink
at 18:28 on 19-02-2012, Arthur B
I'm sure Bakker's books, too, are great art by the way. Arthur? You aren't wrapped up in your sexuality or ethnicity, right, so I am sure you can teach me how to look at those books rationally.

If you put gender and sexuality and ethnicity aside what you're left with is some page-turny brick-sized grimdark fantasy novels which happened to come out at the time when that was the fashionable bandwagon to be on. So not what I'd call "high art", if I had to sort things into high and low art categories despite my disinclination to.

On the other hand, I didn't read Alasdair's use of "art" as implying "high art".

On the third hand, if you worked engage what the story was actually doing in that trilogy rather than paying attention to all the fail surrounding it, I'd have to say it was... um... wasting everyone's time. Sorry, Alasdair, but the Aspect-Emperor doesn't have any clothes.
permalink
at 18:15 on 19-02-2012, valse de la lune
And since I'm very slowly playing Batman: Arkham City maybe I should soon make a vitriolic capslocky profanity-filled post about all the rape threat in it ("Rape her! Rape her! Rape her!"), and miss out all the artistic aspects of the thing, like how ginormously huge Batman is and how he takes up all the fucking screen space so I can't aim properly. I'll concede in advance that this is a very blinkered way to look at art. If only I could just look past all the rape threats and misogyny, and focus on the important things!

I'm sure Bakker's books, too, are great art by the way. Arthur? You aren't wrapped up in your sexuality or ethnicity, right, so I am sure you can teach me how to look at those books rationally.
permalink
at 17:32 on 19-02-2012, valse de la lune
Oh, dear. Are you okay, Alasdair? Have the prejudices against... uhm, Bakker as an individual or Bakker's demographic gotten just too much? Was it my latest post about white men's tears? Did you burst a vein? You might notice that I don't exactly come here and link Bakker's every post (I don't recall if I'd done so since the first time). This is also the point where, were you a woman, someone would be telling you to calm down and stop being so shrill.

I don't think you are nearly as smart as you think you are, and I also think you are so wrapped up in you sexuality and ethnicity issues that you can't think of anything else. [...] You don't really seem to care about what a story is doing, as long as it involves marginalized groups, which I have always felt is a massively blinkered way at looking at art.


I'd offer some kind of commentary here, but I don't think I especially need to. Maybe I could just link this whole thing and count all the boxes you ticked. Not that's an I-WIN button or anything, but how do I engage with a post that boils down to a long screech of YOUR TONE, MY GOD, YOUR TONE? Oh, well, maybe I'll just point out that being able to consider things without being "wrapped up" in "sexuality and ethnicity issues" is a luxury. I could also point out posts where I review works without making ethnicity or gender a primary focus, but that'd require some degree of rationality for you. That appears to be in short supply. If I was Bakker, I'd be pointing at you and muttering something about moral outrage.

Which is a tragedy, because you are the last person I would listen to about gender, sexuality, or race issues.


I will just have to live with this, somehow. It's not that not listening to me is a mark of moral or ideological failing, but what do you think your declaration that you can't take me seriously will accomplish? Dive into comments at Bakker's or Pat's or Watts' blogs and you will find hundreds of like-minded individuals falling all over themselves to declare the very same. It's not as though you are one of a kind, a visionary, or some sort of rebel.
permalink
at 16:58 on 19-02-2012, Arthur B
For my part: I don't think valse's original article on Bakker is one of her best, to be honest - she's done better and more convincing takedowns. (I like the articles she wrote about The Wind-Up Girl mainly because it pointed out that as well as having all these other issues, the novel doesn't even present the authentic depiction of Thailand it's often cited as presenting - to the extent that the use of Thai is objectively incorrect and looks like gibberish to Thai speakers.)

I'm just highly bemused that Bakker's blog posts have become dominated by his objections to how valse argues and its implications when on the other hand the way he argues makes him look like a total crank. Even posts where he seems to be trying to say "Ok, I admit it, sometimes I can look like a self-aggrandising crank" make him sound like a self-aggrandising crank.

On top of that, I was reasonably positive about Bakker's first trilogy when I reviewed it, aside from the loopier setting elements and the fact that he couldn't decide whether he was writing about Generic Fantasyland or the Crusades with the serial numbers filed off. But then the discussion on the comments here prompted me to realise that actually the books had some pretty glaring issues I'd entirely failed to analyse, which prompted a long process of actually thinking about the stuff I was reading rather than consuming it uncritically. So seeing Bakker behaving as he has behaved lately is kind of a "there but for the grace of god" moment for me in that less than five years ago I might have been shooting off tone arguments left right and centre too.
permalink
at 16:31 on 19-02-2012, Shimmin
Fair point, the name-mocking was childish and unnecessary, and I vaguely noticed at the time but went ahead anyway because it mildly amused me, which was the wrong choice. Apologies.
permalink
at 16:21 on 19-02-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?

I...I can't take this anymore.

I, too, have been reading Bakker's blog, but I have not been seeing any of this "pity party" that everyone else has been going on about here. Not a hint of it. What I have seen is someone who is no longer interested in valse's arguments (since, as he and others have made pretty damn clear, there really is nothing like a structured argument that can be properly reasoned and/or refuted in your complaints, is there, valse?), but is interested in the way she argues and its implications.

And then I come over here and I find you all crowing and sneering and congratulating valse on making a direct it, when it's crystal fucking clear that this is exactly the problem he is diagnosing.

valse, you are an asshole. I don't think you are nearly as smart as you think you are, and I also think you are so wrapped up in you sexuality and ethnicity issues that you can't think of anything else. When I read your blog, I see a whole lot of strutting and preening and yelling that cloaks some fairly dull commentary. You don't really seem to care about what a story is doing, as long as it involves marginalized groups, which I have always felt is a massively blinkered way at looking at art.

And the worst part? People here agree with you because you confirm their prejudices. If you wrote exactly the same way you do now, but were, say, a libertarian Baptist instead, everyone here would loathe you, and they would pick out the exact problems with the way you write that Bakker has. But because they agree with you, all that is pushed by the wayside. Which is a tragedy, because you are the last person I would listen to about gender, sexuality, or race issues.

(Oh, and when Bakker made the first of these new responses, why did you come over here and crow about it? Why the need to gloat?)

Bakker is a dick. But I find him more bearable than you.

(And in case anyone is wondering, this has been building for a while, but it was Shimmin's "Bakkker" that pushed me over the edge.)
permalink
at 14:04 on 19-02-2012, Cammalot
Aw jeeze, I read the comments. All the comments. I'm going to shower now. And exfoliate. Possibly bleach. Maybe when I'm done I'll go kill and disembowel and eat a deer or something in order to have some feelings of self worth.
permalink