Just a day after I write about trying to figure out how to think about racism in Spec-Fic, N.K. Jemisin wins her third Hugo award.
If you haven’t read it, her book The Fifth Season was excellent. I haven’t read the other two yet, but something tells me I will be soon.
And it feels good to see some evidence that we don’t live in the worst possible world. That’s a comforting thought. Thanks for that, Ms. Jemisin.
I avoid reading The Classics. Not by desire or design, but I’m just so strongly opposed to the idea that there exists a Classical Canon that Serious People Ought To Read for so many reasons (too European, too white, too old, not enough lasers and dragons in them, etc.) that whenever I reach for anything with a Penguin on the cover, I hesitate. But rebellion has its price and the end result is that I haven’t read many of those books, for better or worse. When I moved to Sweden, I decided to do a little reading up on The Classics, if only because they’re books I don’t care as much about leaving behind when I move (which is a lie, because I absolutely must own every book I read, so the fact I can buy them for cheap when I get back helped that decision too). Having not read a horror story in a dog’s age (the last was probably The Wake, but horrifying for its existential bleakness than for any monsters, Norman or otherwise), I decided to start by reading some Lovecraft.
When I finished my first foray into H.P. Lovecraft, I put the book down and had to think for a bit. If you don’t know, Howard Phillips Lovecraft is a controversial character, as well known for his genre-defining contributions to horror as his monstrous racism. So at first, I didn’t know what to think. I mean, it wasn’t that racist, but then I did some reading, and did some more, and tried to understand some of why modern thinkers really don’t like him. I was struck because I didn’t come away from my reading with a sense of revulsion or obvious discomfort, and as a result, I don’t know where to come down in the discussion. That makes me feel about as uncomfortable about when I read about a cat he owned named Ni**er-Man.
Continue reading “The Thing on the Doorstep: Reading Howard’s N-Word”
Connections have been on my mind lately because I’m losing the ability to talk to people that I don’t agree with.
I want to blame this on the tenor of the times, but I know people have been disagreeing about a great many important things for a long time. What I think is that when we think about the great historical disagreements, the lines and issues are already drawn and the shouting is (hopefully) over. It’s so easy to place ourselves on one side or another without being sucked into the emotional space between. Nowadays, in the noise and the mess, it’s so hard to see those lines (or it isn’t because one side you have racists and on the other side you have people who want to live in peace) and understand the discourse.
Fundamentally, I think it’s a problem of courage. We know that people who think brown, black, queer, Indigenous (etc, etc, etc), the other is lesser and ought to be oppressed is a wrong and bad and evil person. Anyone who wants to oppress others is, by definition, Very Bad. But it takes such a huge amount of courage to overcome the moral inertia and stand up and say “no, don’t do that”, that we muddle the issue so it’s not so clear who or what we are standing up against. That maybe the issue Isn’t All Bad. I should know: I’m one of them. We all are. It’s so easy to look back and say “Look how bad and wicked and naughty those Nazis were,” and with the same breath, ignore that you work with people who, y’know, aren’t against immigration per se, but…
Continue reading “A Great Hand, Reaching Out”