Cain't Say No
11 December 2001
Yesterday David sent me the link to this editorial. (Because he thought it was interesting, not because he thought it was true in every particular. Don't want to misrepresent anyone here.) I am, oh, so shocked at my reaction. It's Michael Moorcock in Gabe Chouinard's new webzine, and he's whinging about how he likes spec fic that's subversive and so much of today's work in the genre isn't subversive and back in the day, everybody was so subversive....
"Subversive" and "progressive" are some more of those labels you just can't argue about. You just cain't say no to them after that. Moorcock can claim that I don't like his stuff because it's too "subversive" and "progressive" for me. And then I have no way to fight back. I could present him with a list of "progressive, subversive" authors I read, but that's just protesting too much. And there's no chance that he writes crap, after that. It's just that it's too progressive for me, and any passage I could find as evidence of his prose incompetence, any description of deficiencies in plot or character or, God forbid, execution of theme, can be used as evidence of my reactionary nature.
I really think that people like that should be required to carry bells with them, like medieval lepers, only instead of, "(Clang, clang) Unclean! Unclean!", it should go, "(Clang, clang) Unfalsifiable! Unfalsifiable!"
I also think that "Hey, my books don't sell and Terry Pratchett's do!" sounds awfully like sour grapes. And that someone who claims to be a socialist should have a good deal more respect for the masses than Moorcock does. I mean, if you don't trust people to pick out a paperback to read, how can you trust them to run a collectivist government? (The answer, of course: he doesn't, not really.) Oh yeah, and I'm generally quite annoyed by the assumption that there are Socialists and there is The Status Quo, and there is no other way to be outside the mainstream. Bah. He just sounds like Gollum to me in this piece, "Ohh, the massssesss, we hatessss them, Preciousssss."
So there's no arguing with it. You just cain't say no -- yes, you're very progressive, how progressive of you, yes, the rest of us are all reactionaries and wholly uncreative (whereas writing how many books with the same sentient sword gimmick is...what again?) and using archetypes is bad, bad, bad. Yep. Unless they're socialist archetypes. Then good, good, good. Yes, Moorcock, you are wholly right, and nobody should be popular (except maybe you, but not because you planned to be or gave anybody something they wanted, heavens, no).
I'm free associating all over the place this morning, which must be how I reacted in "Oklahoma" terms. "I'm Just A Girl Who Cain't Say No." Sigh. I need to get these show tunes out of my head. I haven't done anything to deserve them. When I was in high school and just after, my friend Michael would come over and hang out with me -- Mike and I always had a definitely unromantic dynamic, which was more than fine with both of us. And whenever a guy I was interested in would call, Mike would stand just out of my phone reach and sing, "I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No" at the top of his lungs. Sigh. I was so abused. I'm singing along with "The Battle of Who Could Care Less" to try to exorcise it. Not sure how well it'll work.
And another stop on the free association train: I really want tapas. I do. But they seem like the sort of thing that's best with more than two or three people, which is how many I currently have at my disposal. Anyone in the Bay Area want to go out for tapas with us? We've gotten recommendations for tapas bars in the City, Berkeley, and Palo Alto, so we're willing to go whatever direction there are people who want to eat tapas with us. Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night? Whatever. E-mail me. It'll be fun.
This is much easier than in conversation, wherein "tapas bar" sounds way too much like "topless bar." When I first brought this up in November, I startled Timprov a good deal. He just didn't think I was into that....
It's Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's birthday. (David? I'm always nervous with Cyrillic transliterations now.) We had to read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich for AcaDec in high school, and it struck me as much worse than The Gulag Archipelago. I mean, if you're going to read it, why not just read it? I understand that some people won't get within their proverbial ten foot pole of Gulag. But it wasn't like we were given much of a choice in the first place, with Ivan Denisovich.
So I didn't manage to finish "MacArthur Station" yesterday; I did other things, but it ended up being longer than my brain was willing to do last night. So, having been reminded that there was no particular reason why I had to finish it yesterday, I did not. (But I waaaanted to.) I did, however, get the last bit of the plot for the future noir story, so I have some hope of finishing that in the next few days as well. Productivity, productivity....
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