ljlee: (peach_pissed)
I learned yesterday that evidently a bunch of jingoistic pseudo-historians (let's call them JiPHs for short) who claim to be "patriots" helped put a halt to the Early Korea Project, a joint publication project by Harvard University and (actual) historians of ancient Korea. The JiPHs' complaint? That the project put the site of one of the major Chinese colonies, Nakrang, in the Korean peninsula, as opposed to the Chinese continent where the JiPHs insist Nakrang was located.

Theories on the location of Nakrang
Different theories on the location of Nakrang: Most South Korean scholars (green), North Korean scholars (blue), so-called "irregular" scholars, i.e. JiPHs (red)

The JiPHs' argument, as always, is total baloney. The historical and most crucially the archeological evidence points to Nakrang being on the peninsula, around what is now Pyeongyang, North Korea. (Green area of map above) The JiPHs, however, insist that Nakrang was in modern China to the west of the Liao River (Red area of map) because Reasons because Korea wasn't centered on the Korean peninsula we were a continental power dammit and the Chinese could never have had a presence on the Korean peninsula and it's colonialist to say otherwise and wahhhhh why are their dicks so small.

That's their entire thing, that ancient Korea has to have been a continental power, no, a continent-spanning empire in order for our history to have any worth, the evidence must only be interpreted to support this conclusion, and any scholarship that says otherwise is imperialist treason to the Korean people and ughhhh I feel slimy just typing this wanky nonsense.

Like mainstream historical scholars tend to, I've regarded the JiPHs with amused tolerance because I assumed they were harmless though annoying cranks. But now, realizing they can get valuable, serious research shut down with their pseudoacademic crap and get members of the national legislature on their side, I realize they are a serious threat and need a stompdown.

This gives me more incentive than ever to finish and publish my novel which places Nakrang, obviously, squarely in the Korean peninsula where it belongs. I want with all my heart for this novel to gain enough influence that the idea of Nakrang in Pyeongyang becomes popularized and the JiPHs can only scream and cry while their "theory" goes down the toilet where it belongs. That's not the only JiPH sacred cow I'm slaughtering, so may their cryfest be bitter and long.

And sure, if that happens they'll start their usual campaigns of smears and harassment, tactics that people with actual proof and logic on their side don't have to resort to. And you know what? Bring it. I am so ready for these liars and cowards. They have gone too far and this means war.
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: (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.
ljlee: (reading)
Book cover with Klan hood photoshopped over Little Tree's FaceTo left: A more honest cover, brought to you by terrible photoshopping.

I remember leafing through a copy of The Education of Little Tree at a friend's home many years ago. The book had been published in Korea under the title 내 영혼이 따뜻했던 날들 (The Days when My Soul Was Warm), and was a bestseller here as it was in the U.S. I read through a bit where the protagonist's grandfather taught him that predators hunt the old, weak and sick leaving the strong ones to breed. So evidently natural selection was a part of Cherokees spirituality? How nice. I put the book back and didn't give it much thought.

I was reminded of this brief exposure when I read The Real Education of Little Tree, about the life and career of author Asa "Ace" Carter. Carter worked as a speechwriter for George Wallace, who would go on to become the infamous segregationist governor of Alabama. A staunch segregationist himself, Carter formed a white citizens council (these were widely seen as respectable segregationist alternatives to the Klan) and his signature appears on the articles of incorporation of the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, though he denied Klan membership. Even fellow segregationists considered him too radical and sinister in his open calls for violence, however. Wallace never hired him directly but instead paid him through intermediaries, and the white citizens council eventually drove him out. Yes, Carter was too virulently racist for George Wallace.

It only gets better from there )

Asa Carter's views are not irrelevant or incidental to Little Tree. Rather, his violent racism is central to the entire work. Carter might have been a con man and a bastard, but he was one smart con man and bastard: He knew what was required to hold up the system of white supremacy, and he knew its logic. He knew that mainstream white society would not seek out or listen to the actual Cherokees who would realize in an instant that the book was bunk.

Above all, like any successful author (or con man) Carter knew what his audience wanted to hear, and that a book that condescends to and erases American Indians to score cheap emotional points was exactly right for the public's palate. He got that right, so much so that people still defend and celebrate this book decades after the hoax was revealed. Is it any wonder, when the book reflects so much of what America is?
ljlee: (Default)
I've been hearing a lot about how good Books 3 and 4 of Legend of Korra were, but I didn't particularly feel like watching Season 2 after hearing lackluster reports about it. My sources disagreed on whether Book 2 was safely skippable, and I went back and forth until I finally decided to bite the bullet and watch one episode. If I hated it, I could always stop and move on to Book 3.

Spoilers, and why I find Iroh despicable )

In sum, the first half of Book 2 is a giant leap over Book 1 and far less infuriating. It has actual character development, real consequences, and moral complexity. It was a lot of the things Book 1 should have been, and while it's no replacement for a strong first season it's good to see the effort being made.
ljlee: where I work & play (workspace)
I went and saw the last Hobbit movie, Battle of the Five Armies, over Christmas. As Christopher Orr of The Atlantic said: At least it's over now. That's literally the title of his review, and I cannot think of higher praise for this incoherent, boring, and just plain insulting series.

If you haven't figured it out yet there are going to be spoilers here, all right? The book has been out for the better part of a century and all. You have been warned.

On Dwarves and Dwarvish )

The story, Dealing with Dwarves, is available on Fanfiction.Net.
ljlee: (sisko facepalm)
A Voice for Men appears to be one of the major outlets for the so-called Men's Rights Movement (MRM), at least judging from the number of times I've had AVFM links thrown at me by activists in that movement (MRAs). While scouting around the site I noticed an article about Malala Yousafzai. I was surprised they chose to talk about her at all, given that she's just about the MRM's worst nightmare: a genuine feminist activist who was terrorized by male supremicists for her activism. How would a site like AVFM deal with her?

Of smarm, saccharine, and Orwell )

It wasn't a surprise that the MRM is not only morally but also intellectually empty. What did surprise me was the fear behind the erasures and lies--as Yousafzai said, they are fearful of women and their voices. And that, in turn, helped me realize how much power I have. The vitriol of people who believe I'm a stain on existence is strangely assuring, even affirming. Just when I think nothing matters and nothing's going to change, along come these people assuring me that no, in fact I'm fucking destroying civilization. Thanks for the vote of confidence, brothers!

The sound of the MRM stewing in its fears and resentments, and the howl of MRAs that feminists are crushing them, make for a pretty good soundtrack to my fellow feminists going out there to make the world awesome. I believe it's the tune this guy is dancing to:

I hate men so much I make them dance for me--forever! )
ljlee: bam bam (headdesk)
I'm reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks--almost finished it, in fact. The good news is I found it pretty helpful. I'll probably review it later on, and will use the method described in the book to outline my novels in progress.

The bad news is that the book has its share of fails when it comes to sex and relationship in stories. One of these moments involves Thelma and Louise and the others involve romance in fiction. I figured I'd get my complaints out of the way before I discuss the rest of the book later on.

I don't think that expression means what you think it means )

The point of this post isn't to say "Larry Brooks is a terrible human being and no one should read his books!" In fact, I started out by saying his book is pretty good. Rather, this post is my attempt to unpack my own reactions. Unless I work through them thoroughly I'm going to find the ignored feelings of fear and anger coming out in other, sneaky ways, so I wanted to confront and deal with them first to give the book a fair shake.

Also, tempting as it may be when I'm feeling angry or threatened, I don't think Larry Brooks is a bad guy, either. I don't know him, but he seems to love his wife and is in most likelihood a decent guy like most men are. It would be so much easier if sexism were a matter of a few "bad apples" as some would like to believe. Instead, sexism is a hard problem precisely because it's a systematic, not personal issue--so pervasive that it sneaks into all sorts of media like this book, and because good people internalize these ideas not out of bad intentions but out of inertia. I know I'm not free of sexist ideas myself because I live in a system that perpetuates these ideas. The best I can do is critically examine and evaluate them, both in myself and it others. This is one of my attempts at that kind of critical examination.
ljlee: bam bam (headdesk)
In the course of researching for my novel, which takes place in ancient Korea and parts of modern-day China, I turned to e-book bookstores among other sources. It seemed an easy start, a way to dip a toe in the waters without devoting too much space and money from the first go.

Unfortunately, that water I was dipping into? Actually sort of scummy. Now I did fish out one excellent book, a work of non-fiction that I liked so much that I read it all the way through even though only a small portion was directly relevant to my research. Unfortunately the other books I found on Google Play were all duds, particularly the historical fiction.

Bad history, horrible writing, and terrible art )

I am duly traumatized by my attempts to begin research via e-books. I'm not even getting into the nonfiction fails--bad history books based on a known forgery don't even make the cut after all the crap I've been treated to. Now look what you've done it, awful historical fiction--you've raised the bar so high, or sunk it so low, I can't even get a proper hate-on for run-of-the-mill bad books.
ljlee: (sisko facepalm)
So for the past couple of months I was subscribed to fantasy author Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways site. I hadn't bought anything prior to unsubbing, but got periodical e-mails and downloaded a free lesson. I found her content often common-sense and semi-helpful if not groundbreaking. A lot of the time they were things I knew already, but helped me focus my thoughts and get thinking about different parts of the craft.

Lisle's recent (January 10) e-mail about knowing oneself as a writer was much the same, helpful-ish if not consciousness-altering. In that e-mail she linked a quiz she did on Saving the World Through Typing.

And then this happened.

Because one bald Starfleet captain facepalm is not enough )

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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