Posts tagged ‘science fiction’

The Online People’s Front of Judea

I’ve been attempting to learn more about various social justice issues by reading about them both with books and online communities. Over the years, since Livejournal, on thru Facebook and Tumblr, I’ve seen an ongoing downward spiral of discourse. While certainly there have long been problems, there’s an increasing amount of nasty games I’ve come to question some of the basic theories and ideologies that I’ve long believed in, such as Critical Race Theory and intersectionality- while still supporting certain aspects such as- yes oppression is bad, human rights are good, oppressions and identities are inter-related and so forth. Reading Will Shetterly’s blog has been very eye-opening. (He’s a science fiction author, a socialist & a Unitarian who’s also wondering what the heck happened to fandom…) I haven’t been following the various sagas with Hugos, Sad Puppies, Gamergate, avoiding them as much as I’ve been able to avoid the Ferguson/Black Lives Matter saga. Maybe I’ll just read an actual Icelandic saga…

Fortunately I have Monty Python to help me make “sense” of human absurdity…

The People’s Front of Judea

What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? (also a good one to post in Pagan groups when someone is complaining about teh Eevil Romans)

The Social Consequences of Everything

These are commented on by someone who *actually does think sexism, racism, homophobia etc are Real Things, but points out the problems with some of these checklists. But people still don’t understand irony and sarcasm. It’s also hard to tell, because some people are kind of walking parodies. I came across “bathing privilege” I thought at first this meant to point out that some people have access to running water and baths/showers and some don’t- fair enough, but it was just someone who *chooses to not bathe* whining about how oppressed he was by Western culture. I couldn’t tell it was for real or not. He also mentioned being on the autism spectrum, and I know sensory issues and executive functioning (i.e. Getting Stuff Done/Organized) can often be barriers for many of us when it comes to personal hygiene, but we can learn to work around those problems (sometimes with help) I’m also well aware that American and Japanese culture in particular, have higher standards of personal hygiene than much of the rest of the world (in part due to wealth) and I think a broader range of cleanliness can be reasonable, depending on your social environment.

Someone else has claimed “non-incest privilege” is a thing (you can’t help who you’re attracted to!) for what the .01% of cases in which it’s not abusive? Also the person that informed us all that homophobia and transphobia are ableist terms because clinical phobias are a Real Thing! Now there’s always going to be someone in every movement doing or saying ridiculous things, it’s just way more visible now. Yay internets!

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September 16, 2015 at 2:38 am 1 comment

Fanfiction as Midrash

The next topic in the Pagan Experience is Wisdom, Knowledge and Gnosis. I’m writing about “the Lore”, Holy Writ or Official Canon.
There’s an old post by Greta Christina, an atheist blogger called “Why Religion is Like Fanfic
I remember agreeing with a lot of what she had to say, but taking away a totally different message than what she intended. She was demonstrating how silly religion is, because religious people keep explaining away gaps and inconsistencies  with theological interpretations and midrashim- in Jewish tradition, a midrash is a story that “fills in the gaps” in stories in the Torah, and Christians do similar things. This looks completely ridiculous to someone outside of the religious tradition, just as a non-fan might look at Star Trek fan fiction writers doing somersaults to explain discrepancies in TV show plotlines. Unlike some religious people might be, I wasn’t insulted by the comparison. (To be fair, my religion wasn’t involved!) Though it might seem petty to others, I know that for myself and many other fans, Star Trek and many other fictional narratives are in fact deeply meaningful, in fact some of us find more relevance in matters of ethics and philosophy in our “silly stories” than in religious texts like the Bible which according to other people are “serious stories”. More about “fandom as surrogate religion- or sometimes actual religion” in another post!

Like many atheists, Greta Christina is going off of the “if this religion isn’t completely literally true, then why bother with religion at all?” mentality. Polytheists and Pagans are people who find value in myth and story, and we don’t typically view our myths literally. What matters isn’t that the story literally happened, but what the story is telling us. The question is not “Is this story true?” but rather “Does this story work?” That is what any good storyteller or writer asks themselves, or their listeners and readers, for that matter. If someone wants to base their worldview completely off what can be scientifically proven, that is fine. I am not interested in trying to win converts here. And I indeed find much value in scientific discovery and am very glad human beings have developed the scientific method.

As I’ve said before, particularly in the Celtic and Norse traditions, we aren’t always sure if some of our Gods are literary creations or actually historically worshipped beings, or even original historical people who were at some point deified. These stories are medieval literature, written down by monks and other Christians rather than as intended religious texts. We should be careful about viewing them as such. Heck even with things that were written down in pre-Christian times like the Iliad and the Odyssey, were they really intended as religious texts that gave people an idea of what the Gods are like and how they interact with mortals, or mostly as entertainment? It’s really hard to separate the two, because most art produced back then had at least some type of spiritual significance- anything from painted pottery to plays.

I am completely fine with admitting that my various components of my religion are human creations from parts created by medieval monks, bards that predated Christianity, the bards of the Celtic Twilight, to theologians and ritualists of the modern revival like Isaac Bonewits, to ideas of my own creation. Yes, that’s right, I just admitted my religion is “made-up”. That isn’t the same as saying that it isn’t real. Most human beings, religious and non-religious alike find value in the arts- music, dance, painting, sculpture, theater. We might even consider sports and games as another type of art. There are various theories about the evolutionary social functions of the arts, but people are not generally thinking about that when they suggest going to a concert. We can all go to the same concert and have different experiences, some may enjoy it, some may not, and we’ll all have different reasons for why that is. But there is no scientific way of measuring what music is good or bad. I see my religion as an art form, and furthermore a sort of language that I share with others. I can’t get everyone to do art the same way, or appreciate the same type of art, and I can’t get everyone in the world to speak the same language. Why would I want to? Diversity is far more interesting. The problem comes when some people *do* want to make rules about what type of music you’re allowed to play or compose- this is no joke, these sorts of laws have been made in various authoritarian regimes. Languages *do* limit what concepts you can express and how you can express them, just as religions can. This is why I enjoy being multilingual.

See also: http://daoineile/2015/02/06/friday-c-is-for-canon

February 27, 2015 at 1:45 am 5 comments

Fallen Idol: Marion Zimmer Bradley

(Warning: discussion of child abuse/molestation)

Yesterday, after writing the “What is My Feminism” post I went back and added a section about being a geeky feminist/feminist geek. Later upon some perusing of the Net, I came across some news that made geek feminism all the more important. One of my most beloved authors (deceased for 15 years) Marion Zimmer Bradley, had been accused by her daughter, Moira Greyland of child abuse and molestation. I wish I were more shocked by this, but I had already heard rumblings about her husband, Walter Breen being a convicted child molester, and that she (and possibly others) were involved in covering this up before it came to light. I hadn’t read anything about these situations however, so today and last night I perused thru the deposition that M.Z.B. gave about her husband. As I read it, my youthful idealized picture of a pioneering feminist writer, who encouraged female authors to break into the male-dominated field of science fiction and fantasy in the 1960’s-80’s fell by the wayside. A callous, cynical picture of a woman with no regard or respect for the rights and dignity of children and young teenagers emerged. She knew about the abuse that was going on, and did nothing to stop it. She had this distorted sense of “open-minded, non-judgmental” attitude towards the sexual autonomy of young people (under 18) to “choose” relationships with older adults. Umm, no. She even helped her husband edit a book he wrote about pederasty to justify all this! So it’s quite believable to me that a woman who aided, abetted and defended her husband in all this would do it herself.

One thing I am glad to hear of is that for the most part, the science fiction/fantasy fandom community has been supportive of Ms. Greyland and believing her accusations. She was overshadowed by the fame of her mother, and didn’t want to take away the joy she brought to her fans! What a terrible burden to bear, alone for so many years.

To me this is a giant lesson in the dangers of fame and celebrity and the power that comes with them that can be so easily abused.
It’s also an illustration of the feminist idea that “the personal is political”. Marion wasn’t a political activist, but as I said she did a lot to advance women writers in a time and genres when they were often excluded. But in her personal life, she was complicit and active participant in abusive behavior against her own children, and other people’s children.

Might I add, that while not Pagan herself (she was at the very least a very Goddess-loving Christian) she was very influential on the growth of the Pagan and Goddess/feminist spirituality movement with her book The Mists of Avalon- a re-telling of Arthurian legend from the perspective of Morgaine, a priestess of the Goddess. I know many Pagans, myself including that credit that book with at least partially leading them to their path. There is also a lot of overlap between Neo-Paganism and science fiction/fantasy fandom, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area that Bradley and her associates were a part of. Even for Pagans who aren’t into these fandoms, we all need to take a cold, hard look at the attitudes that long protected these abusers within the science fiction convention culture. We’re outsiders, we’re different, we don’t want “the normal people” to judge us. So we’ll keep it a secret. We’re liberal about sex, and that means not judging *any* kind of sexual behavior. Gee, does any of that sound familiar to you?

Note: I do not think it is a productive course of action to shame everyone into getting rid of/never re-reading/reading in the first place M.Z.B.’s books. Do those things if you must, or examine her books again with her actions in mind if you will, but the most important thing is that we support the victims, listen to them, protect them, and put policies and cultural attitudes in place that prevent this from happening. Moira and her brother Mark are both not heirs to the estate, so they are not able to profit off of their mother’s work. However, Moira is a musician and Mark is an artist so we can go support their own work and empower their own voices.

Links:

Deirdre Saoirse Moen: It’s Worse Than I Knew (public share of Moira’s e-mails about her mother’s abuse)

Telereads: Marion Zimmer Bradley was a child abuser, says her own daughter

Jim C. Hines (SF author) Rape, Abuse & MZB

Jason Pitzl-Waters- The Wild Hunt blog- MZB, Abuse & Cautionary Tales

Dianne Sylvan- Vampires Saved My Soul…after MZB tried to kill it (not about abuse but it shows more of MZB’s true character)

Diana Paxson (author who collaborated on Avalon books) comments on the situation. She does not deny that MZB was involved in abuse, but says she did not witness any of it.

July 2, 2014 at 12:21 pm 1 comment

Devotions, Mumming and other Links of Spiritual Interest

I keep finding more and more nifty resources and ideas on other blogs to further my spiritual interests. A series of posts by Mystik Nomad on developing a devotional practice (link is for the last post, but it has links to all the previous ones)

More from the same blog on designing/making/using prayer beads  Additionally, here’s a website that’s been around a long time: Karen’s Prayer Beads– she has prayer bead examples from many different religions.

I love collecting beads, beading and have been meaning to make my own prayer beads forever, but the procrastinator and perfectionist in me have gotten in the way. Newsflash Caelesti- you can always take them apart if you change your mind!

Ariel, the Practical Polytheist lays out instructions for making your own Prayer Book: Intro,  Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4, Step 5, Steps 6,7,8,9

All of these are relevant and helpful to anyone who honors multiple gods/spirits (regardless of exact theology) Makes things a lot less intimidating when they are broken down into pieces.

Dver, Hellenic polytheist and spiritworker, also has an interest in masks and mummery– the old European (and New World versions) folk traditions of dance, processions and other customs that take place at transitional seasons. Like me, she is interested in them regardless of how truly “pagan” they are in origin.  I think if more of us were to take this perspective, these are the sort of customs that could bring Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, assorted pagans and polytheists, and yes Christians and spiritually-minded atheists and agnostics together.

The first issue of Air n-Aisthesc is out– a peer-reviewed scholarly magazine on Celtic polytheism. Available both in print & digital! Will add this to Celtic polytheism resource page.

A good follow-up to my rather thrown together post on Diplomacy, here’s a good review on those handy qualifying words: Some, Many and Most.  I know for posts I’ve written that have gotten me in trouble, going back and editing with those words  (sometimes) helps calm people down.

Just for fun: Tattuinardola Saga– Star Wars- if it was written as an Icelandic saga. (In English just in the style of a saga) Maybe a way to bring the Tolkien & Star Wars geeks together?

February 19, 2014 at 9:25 am Leave a comment


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