freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I allowed Christmas to gently drift on past this year, largely unmarked and definitely unmourned. My personal combination of rampant atheism and psychotically anti-capitalist loathing of merry Yuletide marketing makes Christmas something to be pointedly avoided, and I left it as a kind of island of non-event in the middle of "Christmas eve" dinner with jo&stv and Pixie (slow-roasted lamb, also Eton mess and a sort of chocolate pear custard thing achieved by leaving the crust off my usual chocolate pear tart in deference to Pixie's gluten intolerance, also little or no mention of actual Christmas) and Boxing Day lunch with my sister and niece later today. My sole festive nods were in cooking myself a pork fillet stuffed with mushrooms, and in indulging my fast-becoming Christmas day tradition of reading the annual Drarry advent fanfic by saras_girl, who has a lovely archive of them on AO3, with the 2018 one on her lj starting here. They are lovely, gentle, slow-moving Christmas fics which usually feature snow and pining, and a Harry Potter resolutely doing anything else with his life but fight dark wizards, which I have always found a compellingly logical response to having no choice but to be a Boy Hero.

I usually post an entertaining Christmas song of some sort. This year it's not really Christmassy, but it's kinda atmospheric and also made me both unabashedly geek out, and snort-laugh repeatedly. "Hall of the Mountain King" performed by tuned Tesla coils.

And, because Ursula Vernon no longer produces her annual Christmas-wishing cute creature, this seems to be a reasonable substitute. Merry Christmas Hawaaian Monk Seal. With an eel stuck up its nose. (The article is deliriously wonderful.)

I hope everyone had exactly the kind of Christmas they wanted and enjoyed.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Today's favourite quote about slash fan fiction:

"A woman ... has published a sexual fantasy about men for other women without a single care for the hurt feelings of the patriarchy’s death-grip on pleasure."

Part of the reason why I love this stuff is because it's so deeply, radically subversive. At the most fundamental level, slash permits a conceptualisation of sexual experience which is intrinsically shifting, free of the inbuilt assumptions about power which bedevil even the most utopian and egalitarian heterosexual encounter. Good slash is based in fluidity. It contradicts the drift towards active male, passive female which is the reductionist extreme of conventional male/female relations, but which is woven into the basic fabric of our patriarchal culture. Slash fic watches two men in a sexual encounter: neither is necessarily dominant, and the writer is free to conceptualise the power relations as she sees fit.

But if this were the only point, there would be far more femmeslash on the net than there is - it's actually a tiny fraction of the whole. That's because slash isn't just a celebration of fluid power roles, it's explicitly and deliberately a subversion of the heterosexual status quo. It's a giant up yours to the patriarchy, in fact. Watching two women addresses the desire for equal power, but femmeslash also takes place in a space outside the patriarchal order - it provides an alternative without actually threatening the patriarchal assumption of male dominance. Slash is as threatening as hell. It says, hello, patriarchy! we appropriate your dominant, heterosexual male characters, the ones which are so much more central and better-developed than the women in so many of our popular mass texts, and we rewrite them in a sexual image we prefer. Also, in sharp contradistinction to the largely male-owned and male-oriented porn industry, we're girls doing this. Sucks to be you.

Which, of course, also goes some way to explain why I seriously do not enjoy the locked and exaggerated gender roles of the Omegaverse, which in political terms is entirely vindictive: it assaults patriarchy by rewriting male characters as caricatures of female biology. I find it uncomfortable and cruel and lacking the potential for subtlety of more fluid slash.

(It also explains why the frothing homophobia of the religious right is so much more strongly directed at gay than at lesbian partners. Lesbians escape the patriarchal order. Gays deny it; in fact, their existence actually assaults it. I am a wholehearted supporter of LGBT rights because that's the only possible human, moral or intelligent stance, because I'm proudly South African in the constitutional sense if nowhere else, but also because the damned patriarchy should be assaulted early and often and anyone who's doing it on any level deserves my support.)

The subject line is David Bowie, because who else could it be given the topic of the post. "Boys keep swinging" is one of the great parodic takes on machismo.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am officially Over 11-hour days. You can keep them. I do not want them, they are skraaaatched. I wish to unsubscribe from their newsletter, which is a nasty and exhausting publication offering little inspiration. Other, that is, than grateful ex-confused first years, who are actually both cute and inspiring at times. All puppy-dog. Their ears droop when they're lost and bewildered, and then you solve all their problems with the laser power of your curriculum skill and fearsome missile array of institutional knowledge, and they bounce around with their tails wagging madly. (Thoroughly mixed metaphors brought to you courtesy of too many computer games, and Roxy).

I could also, may I add, have done without the 3-hour readmission appeals meeting this morning, on account of the awful things that happen to students, and the complete lack of tangible feedback even when we are able to find reasons to re-admit and thereby, presumably, make students happy. Apart from the usual (death of parents, poverty, depression, abortions), this morning we had five separate examples of students with unplanned pregnancies whose babies are now being looked after by parents or in-laws at the other end of the country while the student is studying. I don't know how people do that. I mean, I don't have children, I have only observer knowledge of that mother/child bond, but it must be hideously difficult to live apart from your baby like that. Some people have really sucky lives which make me realise mine isn't really that bad even with 11-hour days.

In the insane morass of registration, orientation and seething seas of student angst, I am grateful for the internet, which keeps me sane. (As do jo&stv, who feed me rosé and ice of an evening, and listen to me with commendable patience while I blither on whingesomely). Today's internet sanity moment is Canada's response to all the wretched stupid ugly Russian anti-gay stuff around the Olympics. I have been reading way too much slash recently for this little gem to allow me to do anything other than laugh until actual tears.

My subject line is still Magnetic Fields, who also keep me sane; said song is invoked both in honour of homoerotic Olympic ad campaigns and the probable cause of unplanned pregnancies, but of my new skirt, which is a pleasing shade of brilliant purple but which trial and error (i.e. wearing it to campus this morning) has revealed as being diaphanous to the point of unwonted revelation. I don't think you can quite see my underwear, but I quite definitely have legs. Who knew? Generally I prefer to keep the actual existence of my legs shrouded in a decent veil of mystery, but being as how there is absolutely no other option, I have simply worn the thing all day with a cheerful acceptance of its less professional aspects. It has caused me surprisingly small amounts of self-consciousness or angst. It's really a very cheerful shade of purple.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
For some reason I seem to be re-reading, yet again, the entirety of the Sherlock Holmes corpus (I'm currently in the middle of The Hound of the Baskervilles, which one of these days I really must teach as a Gothic novel, just for the hell of it). I have that lovely facsimile edition which reproduces the whole lot from the Strand magazine stories, with their slightly faint, slightly mannered illustrations. I cannot work out if this dedicated re-discovery is motivated by any one of the following more than the others, it may be a cumulative sort of thing:

  • the running thread of Data's Sherlock Holmes fixation through seven seasons of STNG;
  • too much diligent playing of Echo Bazaar;
  • the rather spirited discussions we've been having in my second-year English tut about Dracula as a figure of inverted Victorian masculinity ("...each age uses its vampires to express its fears and desires. What does Twilight say about us?" *horrified intake of breath from class*. Maybe there's hope for the youth of today);
  • the need to re-watch my shiny new copy of the RDJ Sherlock Holmes with an eagle eye for fun adaptation in-jokes (and as an attempt to persuade myself that it's not just an unholy fascination with RDJ with an English accent);
  • the complete absence of brain currently occasioned by the fact that Cape Town's pollen has been studiously mutating over the last few weeks in an effort to lay low the human population and take over the world. (Fact. I know three separate people who are off work owing to allergies, sinusitis and general incapacity, and I'm only at work myself out of sheer bloody-mindedness and orientation planning panic. I have a dark suspicion that this planet has actually had enough and is dusting its hands preparatory to ridding itself of us by hook or by crook).

Anyway. Sherlock Holmes. Either fanfiction has hopelessly infected me (which, to be fair, it probably has), or there is a seriously slashy subtext here. Watson/Holmes is rather sweet, they have an old-married-couple comfort thing going on which is extremely enjoyable to watch. In fact, surprisingly, Watson isn't as annoying a twit as I'd remembered, and Holmes is rather sweet all on his own - I'd remembered him as far more of a cold, distant and madly eccentric figure, but he's capable of erratic but rather endearing acts of empathy. The blatant lack of realism in Holmes's deductions does get to me a little, and I remember just enough of the stories from my last reading that none of the detective outcomes are actually a surprise, but I'm also really enjoying them. Some things don't date as much as you'd expect.

Speaking of which, I've now finished STNG, and boy howdy does it date. I loved it, but I am reserving serious narrative fulminations for a whole long post of its own. Right now, the Spirit Temple in Zelda beckons, because really I don't have the brain for much else.

April 2019

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