ricardienne: (Default)
Saw Rogue One tonight. Didn't enjoy it at all: the pacing was bad, no characters were developed, the dialogue was unbelievably awful and the long emotional-exposition monologues were worse, I wanted to feel all the feelings, because the kind of plot that it had is the sort that usually makes me very emotional and weepy, but I was left completely cold (except for being furious at how few women there were anywhere in the movie). I don't know whether this is because I'm a horrible cultural snob or because I have lost the ability to feel.

Also, as y'all may have noticed, I am trying out the Dreamwidth mirror, though I suppose one really should be abandoning lj wholesale not just mirroring it elsewhere. So if you have a dreamwidth account, tell me what it is and I'll add you over there!
ricardienne: (Default)
I got two gifts and a treat this year!

The Examinations (Imperial Radch): Daos Ceit looking back and forward, contemplating what the Radch means and what it means for her to join it. Some really beautiful phrasing and images.
On Political Murder (Queen's Thief): In which Lady Heiro and her friends talk plays, play politics, and are witty, clever, and funny while managing court intrigue. It's great!
Artless (Queen's Thief): A very different but just as compelling story about Heiro from King of Attolia onward.

Some other stories that I really liked, in fandoms that will not surprise anyone:

Imperial Radch

There were so may good stories! But I especially think you should read:

Prayers for the Dead, a terribly sad but wonderfully good story about Skaaiat at the moment when she learns that Justice of Toren has disappeared.

The Thousand Arms, about Anaander Mianaai at the very beginning, when there are still some bugs in the hook-ups with herself, ancillaries and expansion aren't quite accepted, and some people will still dare argue with her. Brilliant and awful and wonderful.

Diana Wynne Jones

Hot Iron (Chrestomanci), a long plotty story about Janet and the other Gwendolyn doubles, and a new 12-series world that could have been invented by DWJ herself.

Vox Populi (Derkholm), a short sweet story about Titus and Isodel sorting things in the Empire. Also nails the tone and ethos of the books.

Goblin Emperor

An Unquiet Beast. A brilliant and quite painful post-novel study of Hesero Nelaran: the disintegration of her marriage to and love for Setheris, her attempts to salvage something of her life, the incredibly cruel and vicious world of court politics and sub-aristocratic hanging on.

Historical RPF

Arms and the Men (Battle of the Tollens River, 1250 bce): the story of a bronze-age battle, with hints of post-Homerica. Very clever prompt, and it was filled really really well.

Hark a Vagrant: The Nemesis

Flintlock through the heart, and you're to blame: come for the hilarious ship names, stay for the surprise ending. Probably the most heartwarming story I read in the collection.

Duel to be Kind: featuring midnight duels over Euclid and pining for the enemy of one's heart.
ricardienne: (library)
Dear Yuletider,

Thank you so much for writing for me! I'm requesting a mix of tiny-to-non-existent to fairly-established small fandoms, and I will love anything you write for any of them.

General Likes and DNWs )

Okay, onto the specifics! I'm requesting 4 fandoms this year:

Shira Calpurnia - Matthew Farrer )


Imperial Radch - Ann Leckie )


Alpennia - Heather Rose Jones )

Queen's Thief - Megan Whalen Turner )
ricardienne: (york)
Today was an okay day for everything that isn't my actual work. Because I...
--Cleaned my entire apartment (most of which I hadn't cleaned properly in a shockingly long time)
--Had E. over to play more Telemann flute-cello duets.
--Actually practiced cello a bit beforehand, including not only the Telemann but also some Bach (the suite I learned my freshman year), and had some uncomfortable emotional flashbacks to feeling terrible about myself as a musician, but also did some thinking about that.
--Made dinner, with leftovers for several more days (spicy eggplant and chickpea and tomato stew + rice).
--Made blueberry walnut muffins to take as a snack this week.
--I now have less than 1/4 to go of the endless lace shawl picot bind-off! Hopefully by the time I finish it, it will no longer be hot and muggy, and I'll feel like I can work on a pair of heavy Colorwork wool gloves again. I also blocked my elbow-length fingerless mitts this weekend, so, again, now would be a nice time for the weather to get cool so I can wear them.

But I didn't really do any work on The Article. Nor did I email the people I needed to email. I'll do that tomorrow, I promise.

EDIT: I'm glad that I'm not in the US today. Commemoration and public mourning, like political oratory, are things I am better at dealing with when they are in the past than in my present.

varia

Apr. 23rd, 2016 02:03 pm
ricardienne: (york)
-I organized my books -- finally. I thought it might make me feel better to have them somewhat organized, so now it's: Greek roughly by date/genre and Latin roughly by date/genre, except that imperial Greek is stuck with high empire Latin at the end. And then, roughly, "Roman cultural history and lit-crit that I like/use regularly", "random other ancient history/literature", "reference" and "other novels/critical theory."

-My friend's pop-choir is giving a concert tonight, and I said I'd go and even bought a ticket but I *realllly* don't want to. Maybe I'll bring my knitting? Except that I don't really have anything that I can do without a chart right now. ARGH.

-The NYT is trying to explain Cassandra Clare. It's...well, I don't have much of an opinion about CC (except that I tried to read City of Whatever and thought it was boring and fairly facile: i.e. exactly like a billion other trendy YA authors. As far as the whole Harry Potter Fandom Plagiarism Scandal, I am actually somewhat sympathetic to no-it's-a-deliberate-web-of-quotations-to-be-appreciated defense.). HOWEVER, the profile makes her sound absolutely insufferable qua human being. Also, the NYT trying to explain fanfiction is hilarious. In addition to the fact that their hyperlinking manages to suggest that fanfiction.net is the *only* place where fanfiction exists (this is probably for the best, honestly), they also imply that it was invented by the internet, which is probably why this happens:
Fan fiction is a boisterous community of online writers, many of them women, who reimagine existing stories and characters, often in the fantasy realm, and often with erotic overtones: Spock paired with Uhura, say, or Spock with Captain Kirk are popular imaginings.

Perpetua

Dec. 12th, 2015 09:55 pm
ricardienne: (christine)
Tired and sick and I STILL haven't finished my paper. Or any of the other things. Yesterday was the department research-presentation day, at which I learned that one of the archaeologists whom I definitely thought was named Miranda is actually named Marenne. My office-mate gave a talk in Dutch about his new theories about the development of the Homeric dialect, which I mostly followed, and the anglo-american Byzantinist whose Christmas Party I am currently not at do to feeling unwell gave a pretty good talk as well. The other talk in Dutch was on the Diary of Perpetua, which is part of an early Latin martyrdom account that claims to be the transcription of the account written by the martyr Perpetua herself of her last days in prison and the visions she had there. So, if it should be authentic, it would be pretty much the only extended (~ 5 pages) ancient-ish prose written by a woman. Of course, many people don't think it's authentic, and this talk, which was given by a male professor, presented some "textual arguments" for why it probably wasn't written by Perpetua, but was written by a man based on her oral testimony.
Women writers in antiquity? )

yuletide?

Oct. 25th, 2015 08:48 pm
ricardienne: (christine)
I'm seriously considering signing up for Yuletide this year. Because clearly I need an excuse to write fanfic in google-docs when I'm supposed to be doing serious work...
ricardienne: (chord)
...passed my Dutch exam, and only lost 1 point each on spreken (which was a joke, really, since due to technological difficulties, we ended up with an hour to stare at the exam paper and scribble down answers so it wasn't extemporaneous at all. Otherwise I would have been much much worse) and schrijven (because I learned from the practice exam not to attempt anything fancy or creative but just to write simple sentences and spend the rest of the time quadruple and quintuple checking my spelling). So I can take B1 in September.

Now I just need to finish this paper... (it is really pathetically not anywhere near done).
ricardienne: (tacitus)



Quintilian, The Education of the Orator, 3.8.44-47:


Meanwhile, if you are trying to persuade someone good to do something shameful, remember not to try to persuade him on the grounds that it is shameful-- the way that some declaimers urge Sextus Pompey toward piracy with the very excuse that he is already dishonest and cruel. Rather, such ugly matters need to be given an angle. This obtains even with evil people: no one is so evil that he wants to seem so. Thus in Sallust, Catiline speaks so as to seem to be attempting the worst crime not out of wickedness but out of a sense of outrage; thus in Varius’s Thyestes, Atreus says: “Now I accept, now I am forced to commit the most unspeakable.” This ambition, as it were, has to be protected all the more in those audiences who are concerned about their reputation. That’s why when we advise Cicero to plead with Antony, even on the condition that he burn the Philippics (Antony promises to spare him if he does), we will not appeal to Cicero’s desire to live (because if this is a strong motive in his mind, it will be strong even if we don’t mention it). Rather, we exhort him to preserve himself for the good of the state. He needs this kind of excuse so that he can be unashamed to make such a plea. Similarly, when we are persuading Caesar to take absolute power, we assert that the state cannot be stable unless a single person rules it.  For someone who is considering a nefarious deed looks chiefly for how he can least appear to be committing a crime.
ricardienne: (tacitus)
Seriously Pliny, keep your Trajan-RPF to yourself...

Now I picture that future triumph: dripping not with plunder from the provinces or gold extorted from our allies, but with enemy arms and the chains of captive kings. I picture myself noting one by one the impressive names of chieftains and the bodies appropriate to those names. I imagine gazing on the litters burdened with barbarians’ massive and bold works, each one, his hands bound, following his own deeds. Then you yourself on high, standing on a chariot on the backs of conquered peoples, and before your chariot shields that you yourself pierced. Nor would you lack the “richest spoils”, if any king should dare to come within range, to shrink back as your throw not only your spear, but your threatening eyes across the whole field and the whole army.
--Pan.17.1-4
ricardienne: (library)
It looks like Tamora Pierce has a dreamwidth journal now. The announcement on her tumblr promises, "There is also a forum for Tammy’s fans to discuss topics outside of those covered in Tammy’s posts, though membership is not yet open. We’ll let everyone know when it is!" So... a new Sheroes? It's true that the dominant membership of 'Roes these days is mostly former rather than current fans, but it still feels a little like she's trying to replace us oldsters. (Hrmph.)

I don't actually spend my time internet-stalking favorite authors from my teenage years that I love to hate (actually I do), but for some reason I had the urge to reread Shatterglass this morning. I don't think I had read it since it came out 2003 -- long before I became a Classics major -- and I can now say that a knowledge of Greek and a vague understanding of Indo-European linguistics gives you access to zero linguistic or historico-cultural "easter eggs" in all the tedious "as you know, the ancient history of the city stretches back 1000 years"  or "she said, using the Tharian word that meant "mage"" exposition. Tris, angsty glassmaker-dude, and amiable doofus policeman were actually less annoying than I remembered, but wow are TP's attempts to convey the mentalities of a foreign culture heavy-handed! On the other hand, Tris' "ugh this icky non-Western culture is gross and stupid and superstitious and I can't wait to go home" attitude was somewhat worse than I remembered. (And in a universe where all the characters constantly go on about magic and its connection to the living world and the human life force, why shouldn't death *actually cause* pollution with *actually dangerous* effects? Why does Tamora Pierce keep making up fantasy settings based on real-world historical cultures where religious and social and courtly rituals have a large role and then always make up characters to inhabit those settings who act like Richard Dawkins?)
ricardienne: (library)
Everything's coming up nails, as it were.

"But you must know that memory maps -- maps of all kinds, really -- are inexact. They are only the best possible approximation. Think of them like books of history: the author will try to be as accurate as possible, but often he or she is relying on slim pieces of evidence, and there is as much art and interpretation as there is factual content. The best maps will show the cartologer's hand at work rather than conceal it, making plain the interpretative work and suggesting, even, other possible interpretations."

"Does that mean that people could create maps that distort what really happened? Maps that are made up?"

"They could indeed," Shadrack said gravely. "It is a serious crime to do so. But all honest mapmakers swear an oath to tell only the truth, and you must look for the mark of that oath when you examine a memory map." --S.E. Grove, The Glass Sentence (Viking 2014): 78.



The Glass Sentence is a YA/middle grade fantasy novel about an alternate universe where different regions of the world have been thrust into different historical periods (so the American colonies share a continent with roughly 1000 CE-era pre-Columbian America to the west and Ice-Age to the North; Europe is papal states but the British Isles are either pre-anthropocene or maybe post-apocalyptic, etc.). We pick up in Boston in 1891 CE, about 100 years after the Event that dislocated time. Sophia lives with her uncle, a master mapmaker and scholar of other place-times, since her explorer parents disappeared on an expedition. But the isolationist local politics are pretty clearly going to combine with some sort of complicated magic/time-dislocation angle pretty soon for adventures and dramatic intrigue. I just got to the point where Sophia's uncle shows her that maps can be more than paper -- in fact, they can be MAGIC.

One can poke holes in the premise ad infinitum (and believe me, I can't keep myself from doing it, though the book is okay at answering a lot my questions a few pages after they've occurred to me) but so far, it's shaping up to be quite fun.
ricardienne: (library)
Today's the day. Closed exam in 1/2 an hour, public defense at noon.
ricardienne: (augustine)
Ross Douthat, seriously???

At times, as the French writer Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry recently suggested, this side of sexual revolution looks more like “sexual reaction,” a step way back toward a libertinism more like that of pre-Christian Rome —anti-egalitarian and hierarchical, privileging men over women, adults over children, the upper class over the lower orders.


I mean, yeah. As we all know, the kyriarchy ceased to exist with the domination of Christian sexual ethics in the 5th century CE. No one was ever ever exploited again until the 1970's. The fact that the sexual politics in modern America are (still) terrible definitely does not have anything to do with cultural habits and mores and beliefs that pre-existed the "sexual revolution."

I'm not going to quote the part about "the bizarre modern ideal is sexual freedom for everyone where coercion and harm are prevented by things like age of consent laws and contraception and "regulations about initiating intercourse" (exact quote: this is apparently ReligiousRight for "enthusiastic consent and not raping people"). Because...Yes? And the fact that some of this has become reality is a good thing! And don't worry, Ross: same-sex marriage and enthusiastic consent were definitely *not* features of ancient sexual ethics. It's okay: it's possible to have sex that St. Jerome wouldn't approve of without also e.g., being a brutally hierarchical slave society where girls are married at 13. And the former is what we're going for here.

(This was the part where the essay reminded me of just how different the moral universes are that Douthat (it's really tempting to type "Douchehat") and I inhabit. Is there even any point to me posting this, for example? There's really no point, except that it made me ragey and I need to get my rant out before I go finish my dissertation (ulp).)

Or the part where he suggests that liberal feminist sex-positive types are criticizing 50 Shades of Gray because it's portrayal of BDSM isn't realistic enough. Obviously, the fact that most of the criticism is actually about how it depicts a completely traditional abusive relationship would undermine his point about how liberals don't understand that modern supposedly "liberated" sexual culture is still newly unequal.
ricardienne: (tacitus)
So I started Pierce Brown'a Red Rising -- basically, it's as if Brown read the Hunger Games and thought, "you know what this needs? More gritty manly realism and more angsty chosen-one manpain. Let me take care of that." Our hero is a young, hardworking everyman "Red" (ie low-caste) in a hardscrabble mining colony in District 12 on Mars in a future that uses classical names for everything; when his beloved wife is executed for a simple act of defiance, he falls in with The Rebellion and learns that Everything The Government Tells Us Is a Lie: Mars has been terraformed for centuries, and while his people labor in slavery beneath the surface, the ruling elites of the Capitol the Gold caste lead lives of absurd excess.

Where I am right now, our hero is undergoing a process of having his body remade into that of a Gold so that he can infiltrate the Hunger Games the academy where the sons and daughters of the elite fight it out in brutal game of survival of the fittest in order to determine who dies and who goes on the be the next generation of Ruthlessly Evil Overlords of Mars. Okay, yes, it's terrible, and I am really annoyed that the whole plot is motivated by manpain over the Death Of My Beloved, My Angel, The Gentle Light of My Life Whose Beauty and Inner Strength Made Life Worth Living. But (a) the writing isn't awful and (b) I have an obligation to read all the terrible faux-Rome sff.

Anyway, there was this paragraph:
“My body is not all that changes. Before I sleep, I drink a tonic laden with processing enhancers and speed-listen to The Colors, The Iliad, Ulysses, Metamorphosis, the Theban plays, The Draconic Labels, Anabasis, and restricted works like The Count of Monte Cristo, Lord of the Flies, Lady Casterly’s Penance, 1984, and The Great Gatsby. I wake knowing three thousand years of literature and legal code and history.” (ch. 12)


So...a mix of "classics" and made-up "future classics", but I don't get the narrative that they are trying to tell -- apart from the fact that, uh, I guess the only books that survived into the future were the contents of an American high school English classroom? This kind of passage seems like a great place to briefly tell a narrative what this future-evil-privileged society values and fears. Apart from the fact that I don't trust the author enough to be sure that when he says "Ulysses" he means James Joyce and not the Odyssey (ditto for Metamorphosis: Kafka's Die Verwandlung or Ovid's Metamorphoses?), I don't really get what this set of texts is supposed to do: the Iliad and Anabasis makes a certain kind of sense as classics for a military elite; I suspect that (the?) Metamorphoses(?) is a nod to the transformations that the elite of this society undergo to become superhuman (but...I'm pretty sure that either Ovid's or Kafka's would be on the "restricted" list as far as messages about metamorphosis and society and the fate of the human when s/he is forcibly transformed by (unjust) power structures. Ditto Sophocles. For fuck's sake. Have any of these people read the Antigone?). The Odyssey is probably there because this is all about our hero's love for his wife.

However, I think that overall, these are pretty terrible lists to represent a ruthless, power-hungry, corrupt class of Rome-emulating rulers. Where the fuck is Thucydides? Where's Machiavelli? Where's Ayn Rand? HOW CAN YOU HAVE REALPOLITIK WITHOUT THUCYDIDES? (and where's Tacitus? How can you have imperial Rome without Tacitus. YOU CAN'T.) Where's Lucan? I bet this society would love Lucan. And, of course, let's not even ask why this is completely euro-centric reading list.

I also think that one could be cleverer with the whole "restricted reading" list, although it hangs together a bit (themes of dystopia, Hobbesian excess, and revenge). I mean, 1984, Lord of the Flies...can you be more cliched? Put some real protest writing or anti-injustice writing on there. Make a more explicit allusion to your antecedent of the Hunger Games (wouldn't that be clever?) Or put the Aeneid (!!!!!). When I write a trashy ya dystopia novel about a futuristic oligarchy that models itself on Rome, remind me to throw in an aside about how the Aeneid is a deeply subversive and restricted text because of Vergil's problematization of empire and ambivalence about power. We'll call it The Revenge of the Harvard School.
ricardienne: (christine)
I've had some sort of mild stomach bug since Friday, which has mostly made me sleep a ton, feel groggy, and waste my time rereading Garth Nix's Old Kingdom books instead of working on my dissertation. So this afternoon it has to be back to work. Even though what I really want now is Old Kingdom/Downton Abbey crossover fic: e.g., a couple years after Abhorsen, Nick and Lirael (who are friends and maybe occasional lovers but are *not* married, incidentally) are doing ambassador-y things in Ancelstierre, and Nick's familial obligations/connections get them invited to a house party in the North... anyway, I think it would be hilarious, but no one seems to have written it yet. So we can add that to the mental file of Weird Crossover Fanfic That Ricardienne Would Write If She Weren't So Lazy...
ricardienne: (york)
The next time anyone complains about People These Days Giving Their Children Terrible Names, I'm going to point out that in the family tree of my mother's father's old New England family, in addition to the Abijahs, the Amariah, and the Shubaels (all m.), Persises (or should that be Persides?), Parmelias (Parmeliae?), Zoella and Angenette (all f.), there's a Comfort, a Welcome (both m.), a Thankful, a Waitstill, and a Waity (all three f.).

(I actually like the name Persis a lot. Waity, not so much.)
ricardienne: (york)
Velleius Paterculus, 2.41.3-43.1
Still a young man, he was captured by pirates, and his behavior among them for the whole duration of his captivity instilled equal measures of fear and respect. Never, either day or night (for why should the most important point be left out, simply because it cannot be said elegantly?) did he go without belt or shoes, to not become suspect, by varying anything from his usual routine, to the men who were guarding him merely with their eyes.

It would be too long to relate how many and what attempts he dared, how vehemently the magistrate of the Roman people who had been allotted the province of Asia failed to support these attempts out of his own cowardice. Consider it evidence of a man who would later survive much. When he was ransomed with funds from the local cities (on the condition that he force the pirates to give hostages beforehand), that very night he got together an adhoc and unofficial fleet, sailed to the pirates' location, where he put some of their ships to flight, sunk others, and captured a number of them along with many souls.

Rejoicing in his nocturnal expedition, he returned to his men in triumph, and, having turned over his captives into custody, he set out for Bithynia to Iuncus the Proconsul (who had been allotted this province as well as that of Asia), asking him to use his authority to execute the captured pirates. When Iuncus refused to do it and said that he would sell them instead, his sloth having turned into a grudge, Caesar sailed back with unbelievable speed. Before the Proconsul's dispatch on the subject could be given to anyone, he crucified all of his captives.

Subsequently, hastening back to Italy to take up a priesthood (he had been chosen Pontifex in the place of the distinguished Cotta)… to avoid being sighted by the pirates, who controlled all the seas and were understandable hostile to him, he embarked on a four-oared boat with only two companions and ten slaves and crossed the raging gulf of the Adriatic. During the crossing, he thought that he sighted the pirates' ships When he had thrown off his clothes and bound a dagger to his thigh, preparing himself for every eventuality of fortune, he then realized that his vision had been mistaken and that a stand of trees seen from an angle had given the appearance of masts.
ricardienne: (christine)
It seems that the publishing industry is trying to make Cleopatra Selene into the new 'Tudors' -- this is the third recent historical fiction treatment. I haven't read Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter, but I have read the first two books in Stephanie Dray's trilogy, and now, Vicky Shecter's Cleopatra's Moon.

The tropes seem to be pretty constant: Cleopatra's family is extremely (and un-historically) Egyptianized, Selene is a devotee of Isis (Isis rigorously part of the Egyptian pantheon, usually) and a complete, patriotic partisan, Octavian/Augustus is the evilest person who ever eviled, Greco-Egyptians are cultured, intellectual, open-minded and gentle while Romans are brutal, patriarchal, and uncivilized.

Shecter, like Dray, seems to be hampered by history, which puts an awkward necessity (there will be spoilers coming up) on the way that their narratives go. Spoilers for History )

In conclusion: You could write so many awesome YA novels set in this general period. Livia in the late 40's and 30's: 16 years old and newly married, watching her male relatives get killed, fleeing around the Mediterranean and doing everything she can to protect who's left. "Turia", also newly married and having to play party politics and work really hard in a man's world to keep her family hidden and get amnesty for them. On a lighter note, Sulpicia and the Tibullan circle hanging out, writing love poetry, and maybe getting involved with Gallus and that whole debacle. Heck, someone should take Julia seriously, and not just dismiss her has the frivolous, immoral daughter of Augustus with a million affairs (it's frustrating that these Cleopatra Selene novels, in trying to rehabilitate one or two ancient women, just reapply and intensify the stereotypes to all of the other (in)famous women of the period) -- recall that all of the men she was rumored to have been involved with were *also* all of the remaining descendants of the oldest senatorial families. Julia the dedicated republican idealist, anyone? To move a bit later: what about a novel about teen-aged Agrippina the Younger and her mother? What about Epicharis? What about Berenike? (What about the Arrias and the Fannias? What about Servilia?) The field is wide open, people!

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