Dark Sides

11 October 2002

Now I'm going to feel like I'm late for the rest of the morning. Mark had to go to work early -- more than an hour and a half early -- and so now I feel like I'm an hour and a half behind my usual routine. And that actually does matter this morning, because I'm going up to Oakland to have lunch with David. Many mornings, my supposed lateness would be of no consequence whatsoever. Ah well. I'll get over it.

Inspired by my mom, I bought a bag of double chocolate malted milk balls, and now I can smell them all the time when I'm working. It's a really pleasant smell, actually. Much better than potpourri, and a million times better than incense. (I am not a fan of incense. The best incense usually smells a little too strong, like the guy who stands three inches too close and won't back off. The worst incense is painful enough for me that it feels like someone is poking the top of my brain with a gardening spade.)

Timprov had a solution to the problems in the Middle East yesterday that was, frankly, no less than brilliant. It was only two words. Are you ready for them? Miles Vorkosigan.

Just think of it. If we sent Miles into that region, everybody would come out of it holding hands and singing songs, or at least eyeing each other warily with no thought of blowing each other up for at least a hundred years. Who could despose Saddam without war or an international diplomatic incident? Who could get the Saudi royal family to play nice? Who could improve Palestinian refugee conditions while simultaneously talking them into some meaningful steps with regards to Israel? Who controls the British Crown, who keeps the metric system down...oh, sorry, wrong fiction. And anyway, who could do all of that and make us laugh hysterically in the process? I think Timprov is right, Miles is the answer.

Now if only we can fix this whole "fictional characters stay fictional" problem, we'll be set.

Jenn's livejournal has a quiz in it with interesting questions like who you would cast as you in the movie of your life (uhh...I don't know...but we'd make a young Kiefer Sutherland play Mark, and if I was Jenn's friend in whose role she cast Christopher Lambert, I would be sorely offended) and what scifi schlock technology would you a make available (the universal translator! We might develop usable space travel and nanotech-like stuff ourselves, but the universal translator would require a magic appearance, because it makes no sense whatsoever!). The one that made me shake my head, though, was, "The Force is strong with you. What are the chances the Dark Side will dominate your destiny?" And Jenn answered, "Not real good, honestly. I'm too nice to be of the Dark Side. I'd regret it." Jenn, Jenn. Nobody's ever too nice for the Dark Side. Too attached to their moral code, maybe, but the Dark Side makes things easy, including, if you like, helping people. The nice person's seduction to the Dark Side: here are the top twenty people who are wreaking havoc, destruction, and despair upon the rest of the world. If they did not exist, sum total of human misery would be much, much, much less. (I don't have this top twenty myself -- I'd require proof of it. But I also don't have the Force, with which I might get that proof, so.) But you can't remove them by patting their hands and asking them to be nice and going through proper channels. You have to do it the quick and dirty Dark Side way. If you do, hundreds of thousands of people's lives will be markedly better -- orders of magnitude better. What do you say?

I'm not saying that Jenn would say sure. I'm just saying that if she didn't, it wouldn't be niceness that would keep her from it.

Frankly, my own chances of the Dark Side dominating my destiny are better than average, because I don't really accept the moral dichotomies Lucas sets up in the Force. I'm with David Brin on this one. (I also enjoyed his followup article on the same topic.) Being afraid, being angry, having negative emotions at all? Those are not signs that evil is going to take you over. Those are signs that you're human. Self-defense is also not an inherently bad thing, no matter what kind of powers you have.

Of course, in the political situation today, I had to stick "inherently" in that last sentence, because people are defining "self-defense" in ways that I never thought they would. Depressing.

(But once again, reading Jenn's and Johanna's responses to that survey reminded me that I already have my dream job. Which is just the coolest thing in the world.)

And speaking of which, I gave myself permission not to write yesterday. Did I not write? Of course not. That is, I did not not write. (See, I are a writer. Sentences purty.) I finished reading The Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories, and I read all of Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men. I had intended to read some of her stuff, and I figured the Chinese immigration book was as good an excuse -- er, um, reason -- as any. But I was underwhelmed. Maybe it's just that I've been reading about Chinese immigration too much lately, but China Men seemed jumbled and not really particularly creative. I'll probably still seek out The Woman Warrior, as long as I'm doing this project, but my expectations for it are much lower now.

Right, so, not writing. Um. I hung out with Timprov and listened to the Cards/Giants game and otherwise was not writing, and then a scene came really clear, and I sat down and wrote several pages, and it was all very comfortable and fun. So even when I tell myself I don't have to work, I end up working...but it was good work, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Natalie Goldberg has an exercise in one of her writing books, and I certainly can't tell you which one it is, wherein you're supposed to say who has given you permission to write. And that's important. I do know the importance of that. But sometimes I think it's also important for me to remember who gives me permission not to write -- not in general, just in a specific moment of any particular day.

Have a good weekend, all of you. It's eleven days until I leave for Minneapolis. But who's counting?

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