ljlee: (peach_glare)

In reponse to a thread going around on Tumblr about young girls being told to cover up, this atheist was actually moved to spouting Bible verses. This interpretation was in a book my mom had about a feminist reading of the Bible, though I have, let's say, spiced it up a little.

"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:28-29)

This is a revolutionary passage because it upends the idea of the woman (or child, dear God) as a temptress. It's a giant middle finger to the conventional "wisdom" that it's a woman's job to keep herself modest and out of the way of men because men can't be held responsible for their own gaze, urges, and actions once they have been "tempted" by the sight of a female body.

Here Jesus is saying, basically, no, fuck that and fuck you. You've committed adultery and you're the pervert if you've looked on somebody with as an object for your sexual gratification. And no, that's not the same thing as feeling an attraction, I'm talking about what you're doing with that attraction--as something they're doing to you, making it their fault and giving yourself license to treat them as dirty and wrong.

What's that, you have no control over where you look? You have no control over your thoughts and actions? Why then, you're saying your eye is damning you to hell because no, you do not get an exemption from basic personal responsibility by virtue of owning a dick and if your eye does something, news flash, that's you.

But if your eye literally has a will of its own and it's making you sin, then why not cut it the fuck out, man? Yeah, I mean literally. You talk about it like it's demonically possessed and not under your dominion. Well, are you going to let a part of you drag you down to hell? Rip it out! I could say the same for a few other body parts, too. Better missing a few bits in heaven than all of you in hell, eh?

Do not give me this nonsense about having no control over yoursef. Take some responsibility and grow the hell up.

This is anti-purity culture, anti-dress code, anti-slut shaming, anti-body policing rhetoric. Each person takes responsibility for their own thoughts and actions, and no one gets to use the whiny excuse that another person made them act inappropriately just by existing.

Jesus fucking Christ, people, it's been 2,000 years. Let's get our act together.
ljlee: (sisko facepalm)
I watched [personal profile] attackfish have a conversation on Tumblr about good/evil dualism in the Star Wars franchise and was amused that her interlocutor was denying such dualism existed in the series. As Fish and I discussed afterward, it is sometimes hard for people who live in a dominant thought system like the Christian duality to recognize that a) they actually subscribe to a very specific and non-universal worldview, and b) this view colors how they view everything else, because that’s what a worldview does.

Fish has a good breakdown in the linked thread on why the Jewish concept of yetzer hara does not map to the Dark Side of the Force as portrayed in the franchise. She also referenced poorly understood Buddhist and Taoist concepts, and as she pointed out, ideas from Buddhism and Taoism used in Star Wars are heavily distorted by a strict moral dualism that is alien to these traditions.

This post is weirdly appropriate for Christmas, come to think of it )

Face it, Western Star Wars fans, your franchise isn’t based on Asian philosophy. It’s a quintessentially Euro-American and Christian story of the conflict between good and evil, and it’s perfectly enjoyable as such. There’s no need to bastardize concepts from other cultures trying to make Star Wars seem profound or spiritual. You don’t have to, because Christianity is–surprise!–also a spirituality and one associated with respected philosophical traditions. And Asian ideas are no more ornaments to make yourselves seem smart and hip than Asian people are.

(Originally posted on Tumblr. Yeah, I believe they have an app for that now.)
ljlee: bam bam (headdesk)
The last two weeks made ripples in water that had lain stagnant for years. It was mainly academic drama, but it got me thinking about my fiction writing as well.

You know those stories where you return exactly where you started but the choices made and growth experienced up to that point make all the difference? Planescape: Torment is a particularly epic example, but you can see it in a lot of "hero's journey" type stories. The hobbits' return to the Shire in The Lord of the Rings comes to mind. I'm sure you can come up with other examples.

That's sort of what happened to me over the past two weeks. I was trying my darnedest to graduate this semester while my advisor thought I wasn't ready yet. I poured everything into proving otherwise, working until 11 or 12 every night trying to put together a thesis that would pass muster.

In the end he decided I still wasn't ready, but he seemed genuinely moved by how hard I was trying and how determined I was. He sat down with me for an hour--on a day when he was teaching nine hours of classes--to give me extremely detailed feedback. I could tell how badly he wanted me to write a really good thesis, one that would make a difference.

Oh look! A giant teal deer! )

I was at a social occasion over the weekend with my professor, who told a colleague that I'm going to be graduating next semester. I like that idea. Maybe I'll make it and maybe I won't, but it sure is worth the effort. If I learned anything over the past two weeks, it's that my dreams are only as good as the sweat I'm willing to pour into them.
ljlee: (reading)
the poppet and the lune coverThe Poppet and the Lune (2011) by Madeleine Claire Franklin is a novel in the style of a fairy tale, with fantastic elements like witches, werewolves, spells, and a girl created from dead body parts.

Full disclosure, I got this book in audio form as a complementary review copy. About a year ago the narrator Elizabeth Basalto's sister was handing out audiobook review credits on the [community profile] books community, and I finally listened to the book last month because I had such a massive audiobook backlog to go through. This is my promised review.

Overall impression: the story was pleasant enough and the narration was okay. There are a lot of fantastic elements, as mentioned above, and there were genuinely clever and moving moments. However, I don't think the story followed through on what should have been its emotional core, and there were some Unfortunate Implications as a result. I will go into more detail on the story below, and there will be spoilers.

As for the narration,[personal profile] jeweledeyes who gave me the audiobook credit said this was her sister's first audiobook narration and it showed. Ms. Basalto's voice is nice and the delivery earnest, but I noticed some technical flaws and tics that I don't see with more experienced narrators. The performance, to my relief, was more solid than in the trailer video for the audiobook; however, it had the same airy quality that could be grating after a while. The repetitive intonation she used when she said "the patchwork girl," a very common phrase in the book because it refers to the heroine, was something of an annoyance. Still, I thought the voice and story were a good match, and wish Ms. Basalto well in her narration career.

In which I demonstrate why you shouldn't give me complementary copies )

In the end The Poppet and the Lune, despite clever uses of fairy tale elements and entertaining plot developments, undermined its own power by hollowing out what it held out to be its own emotional core. It is many things, fun, colorful, romantic, action-packed, and is also, ultimately, forgettable.
ljlee: Lee Yo-weon during a break in the filming (deokman)
So after tormenting Google Translate into making (rather awesome) gibberish of the Skyfall lyrics, I got what seemed like an obvious idea--a Skyfall filk set in the Dragonriders of Pern universe, titled "Threadfall." I couldn't find anything along these lines other than a fanfic or RP whose title used the parallel, so I wrote one while waiting for a plane to take me home.

Threadfall lyrics )

ljlee: Lee Yo-weon during a break in the filming (deokman)
I had a good long laugh with the Google Translate Sings series [personal profile] chordatesrock  inroduced to me, and particularly loved I'll Make a Man Out of You. On a whim I decided to try the same with Skyfall. Here's a result of five or six layers of Google Translate:

I dropped from the sky... )

Dropping from the sky decoding? It sure knows what a Bond movie is about.
ljlee: (reading)
As previously discussed, my first foray into Anne McCaffrey's Pern series was a couple of out-of-order volumes that I found alternately intriguing, boring, and creepy. About twenty years later, I made a second entry the way it should have been all along, with Dragonflight, the 1968 novel that started the series.

My impressions were as follow:

Two positives, two negatives )

In short, as Julie Andrews sang, the very beginning is a very good place to start. Dragonflight was a better start for the series than my original introduction, and it certainly had a lot of fun elements. The experience was marred for me, however, by the narrative playing favorites and getting into outright rape/abuse apologia. (Yes, it was published half a century ago. No, that does not make it harmless.)

Next up is Dragonquest, which I read once before and have almost entirely forgotten. I don't have the patience to re-buy and re-read it, so I think I'll follow along with Silver Adept's deconstruction instead.
ljlee: cover to Apocalypse World (apocalypseworld)
I read the Pern series only in part and badly out of order. A long time ago, and we're talking around two decades, I found Dragonsdawn and Dragonquest in a bookstore and read them one after the other. I found them a) to have some good ideas, b) boring in the execution, and b) skeevy as hell in places.

Discussions of rape and reproductive coercion. )

Fast forward to the present, where [personal profile] chordatesrock got a bout of nostalgia about the series and asked if I wanted to read the series, in proper order this time. I decided to see if that made things better, and hoo boy. If I thought the abusive relationship dynamic in Dragonsdawn was bad, Dragonflight would deliver much, much worse.
ljlee: (peach_moved)
I have been meaning to do a Mad Max: Fury Road post approximately forever since I've seen it (and you won't convince me there was a whole world, history, and civilization before it came out), but everything kept coming out as FTBRRLT MUST MARRY IT AND HAVE ITS BABIEZZZ. The only halfway coherent thoughts I got down were in a discussion with overlithe, so I decided to repurpose my comments into a blog post.

My thoughts on Fury Road are many and tangled, but one aspect among many is that it took and demolished common sexist tropes. Here are three major ones I can think of:

Spoilers, of course )

These three, Plucky Girl, Damsel in Distress, and Women in the Fridge are the major tropes that Mad Max: Fury Road did an excellent job of dissecting along with a whole host of toxic assumptions about women and men. The best part is, as Charlize Theron (Furiosa) said, the movie didn't even have a feminist agenda; the story is feminist by way of being honest and truthful, simply by presenting women as people. I've read stories with feminist agendas and they tend to be dreary and moralizing as agenda-driven fiction tends to be. (Legend of the Last Princess, though a concept, is representative of the type.) The latest installment of Mad Max is driven not by agenda but by truth, and that's why it is among the best feminist films of all time.
ljlee: (muzi_shock)
Following on the discussion of the highly rapey Sky Maiden and Woodsman story, I looked through my niece's copy to see it for myself. It was just a standard telling, but there was a page at the end of the book talking about the "lessons" for children. I read it, wondering if it put the problematic elements of the story in perspective.

I don't have the book with me anymore, but here's the general gist of the note:

Rage. So much rage. )

This is just one book among thousands, of course, and it does not by itself create culture. I wouldn't even care if it weren't part of a consistent message we are bombarded with, over and over from all directions. There is no need to censor the media we consume, but there is a need to question them. The only harm is in pretending that stories told to children are apolitical, because acceptance of the status quo as "harmless" is itself political.

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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