ricardienne: (heiro)
From this interview with Tamora Pierce,, in response to a question about gender inequality in fantasy:

I don’t see how they worked out that equation. The only way it works is if women acquiesce into being second-class citizens. And frankly, all it takes is one pissed-off 10-year-old with a lightning bolt in her hand to overcome it. ... The only way, with [magic] in the equation, that you [could] have an entire sex being oppressed is if they consent to the oppression. Actually, the only way it ever happens is when people consent to that oppression.


I think that I could argue that adding magic to the equation doesn't mean women can't be oppressed because they can fight back with magic as well as men any more than adding pointy objects to the equation means women can't be oppressed because, hey, all it takes is one pissed-off 10-year-old with a kitchen knife in the night...

But mostly: WTF Tamora Pierce?
ricardienne: (tacitus)
(still vaguely about this, pursuant to my last post):

The thing that I am most understanding/not understanding about this is the fact that cutting out all pre-European inhabitants of the Americas didn't register as a "major change." (Many people have explained very well in detail why this is emphatically not so).

On the one hand, I can (unfortunately) see where, from a white middle-class American perspective, this could seem like a reasonable thought process. Native American history is taught (or at least was (not) taught to me in my public school education) as an accessory to settler/explorer/colonial history. It's no excuse for not thinking, but I imagine that it is a fairly common instance of ignorance.

But personally, I don't understand the ease with which eliminating two continents' worth of civilizations and cultures and languages and people as a "non minor" bit of background could happen. Now I am a classics student and a classical musician, and in general very Euro-centric, Western-canon, dead-white-male-oriented in my interests (incl. the kind of fantasy I tend to read). I have very little knowledge or exposure to Native American cultures pre- and post-Columbian, and had much less until just this past year, in fact. I confess that it was the ancient Nahua empire, with its ruins and poetry and hierarchy and rhetorical schools and intricate beautiful language (all the things that Rome, my "home-base" empire had) that made me realize that I should know more, and should care more about knowing about the people(s) and civilizations that belong in the part of the world where I live.

What is the point of this (rambling) (I hope not-offensive) (confessional) personal narrative? We are talking about civilizations (tribes, cultures, cities, peoples, customs, traditions, myths, legends, agricultures) that are extremely rooted. They go back very far. They had long development and evolution before the Europeans showed up in the first place. They can't be plucked out of the continent on a whim. I think that this is sadly unapparent in the way that conventional U.S. education teaches about Native Americans, but it took very little knowledge to give me (a white Euro-centric classicist) an -- I don't know -- a desire to make them part of my intellectual and emotional worldview (I don't want a world without Nahuatl or Lakota or Inuktitut culture any more than I want a world without Latin or Greek). And it's sad and shocking that Patricia Wrede, even when she went about writing American fantasy, didn't have or find any such desire.
ricardienne: (chord)
I wanted to listen to Marriage of Figaro tonight -- but NAXOS seems to suddenly only have either a)exerpts, b)"Opera Explained" or c)a really cool looking 1930's historic recording that I can't access because of "copyright reasons." What happened to the version that I listened to all year? So I am listening to Purcell Dido and Aeneas, instead. It's very pretty -- maybe they'll do it in Opera Class next semester and I will get to play pit: that would be awesome. Naxos keeps pausing in the middle of tracks, and I guessed the last word + pitch + rhythm of one of Belinda's arias on my own. Oh, I am so talented. Or Purcell is sometimes predictable.

I finally got Grand Tour from the library. I still don't think these Wrede/Stevernmer ones are as good as Mairelon the Magician and Magician's Ward. I also think that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a better Napoleonic England w/wizards novel. But I liked this one, two.

spoilers, probably -- I'm not very good at talking about books without giving stuff away )
ricardienne: (Default)
…when you spend an afternoon analyzing the clothing in Tamora Pierce novels. You also know that you are a hopelessly irredeemable geek.

Not that there's too much method to it: I swear the description of Thayet's dress from Lioness Rampant is straight out of Gone With The Wind.

But, by the Kel books, she seems to have settled down. Male dress is either "breeches," "shirt" and "tunic" or, on fancy occasions, "hose," "shirt," and "tunic." Women seem to wear either "undergown" and "overrobe (overgown)" or "(under)gown" and "(sleeveless) surcoat."

These are, of course, woefully vague terms. Female costume for just about the entire period consisted of some sort of two-layers of dress. When she says "surcoat," though, I tend to think <link:http://www.silkewerk.com/images/luttrell1.jpg|"sideless> (i.e. mid 14th c), even though I personally tend to imagine them more in standard 15th c. or late 15th c./Burgundian clothes. I think she did mention on Sheroes once that her clothing tends to "Gothic" (or at least she thinks it does).

So fine. But what about the men? I suppose one could call something like this a tunic, as well as this kind of thing. But there isn't anything I would call "breeches" until the 16th century. Which is definitely out of period, at least, as far as I can tell. The other problem would be this "tunic" thing. Men, of course, were wearing robes/houpplandes/surcoats just as long as women (almost) for the 14th-15th centuries. Young men might wear short tunics (although I don't like the word "tunic" at all for this: way too vague and, I mean really: would you call any of these things "tunics" I wouldn't.) But older men would wear longer garments. And I'm sorry: calling this a tunic is stretching it. Really stretching it.

I have to conclude that Tamora Pierce just doesn't like the idea of guys not wearing pants. She'll let them get away with it on fancy-dress occasions, but not normally. None of her Manly Middle-Aged Men are going to be caught dead in an ankle-length gown!

I know, I should just get over it. They're fantasy novels, not historical ones. The author can do what she likes with clothing. But it bugs me. All of this pseudo-medieval fantasy that really isn't bugs me.

When I write my pseudo-medieval fantasy novel… If the women wear pointy hats, the men are going to wear houpplandes, too. With 12+ yards of cloth, if they can afford it. So there.
ricardienne: (Default)
So I think a normal person would not be feeling woeful during her spring break. Exhibit A that I am not normal?

I finally got Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary and read it, yesterday. It's a lot like her columns, which means that it gets a bit wearing after chapters and chapters of it. It also didn't really have anything I didn't already know about or worry about. But if Dowd is right, and I suspect she is, mostly, the outlook does not seem to be good. Of course, I don't need her to tell me that.

It's interesting to have read Mary Wollstonecraft, and now read this take on the "anti-feminist" movement. The similarities in what they describe are frightening: weren't things supposed to significantly change in 200 years? But more depressing, for me, is the party that can be blamed by both authors: women themselves. Dowd isn't writing about Fundamentalist sects for the most part, or even about such things as anti-choice legislation. She's concerned with the educated women who don't want careers, but who do want to be adored and pedestalized by men for their beauty and charm. It's a return to a desire for the 'illegitimate power' that Wollstonecraft's women used to get their way in an utterly patriarchal society. When that's all that one can get, it's understandable. But to choose it over equality? But my (admittedly small) anecdotal experience tends to confirm this: all of those girls in high school (and now, in college, though less noticeably, to me) who expected flowers and constant attention from their boyfriends: often it seem(s)(ed) like they want(ed) worshippers, not companions. I'm probably going off the wall here and will offend someone, as I tend to do when I attempt to talk about this sort of thing, so I'll shut up.

The other thing I read yesterday was the second book of the Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud. (Yay for Middle School Fantasy!) I had read the first, and am now wondering when I will get the chance to read the recently-released third. The series has several things going for it:
a) An Alternate-Universe English setting. This is always a good thing. In fact, when I think about it, just about all of the fantasy novels I really like [Diana Wynne Jones, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, the Mairelon books, Harry Potter, Caroline Stevernmer] have alternate-universe English settings. This one is a 20th c. world, where the British Empire has more or less conquered Europe (having beaten the Prague-centered HRE sometime in the last century or so) and is still holding onto North America, as well.
b) A dystopically corrupt System. I'm not sure why I have a fondness for reading about fictional Evil Oppressive Governments, but they always do seem to make it more interesting. In this case, the magicians rule the empire, and everyone else subsists in a sad, downtrodden, impoverished sort of way. But although we do now have a semi-main character attempting to lead a rebellion and all that, the more main character is a part of this government, and quite in support of it. There's also something that feels very real about all of these self-serving, corrupt wizard-officials. Probably it's that none of them quite measures up to, say, Cheney, or Ashcroft, or Rove.
c) Footnotes. Although not as copious as those in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, one of the narrative voices -- the titular djinni Bartimaeus -- footnotes himself rather a lot, usually to a pretty good comic effect. This is a good sign: Jonathan Stroud is not taking himself entirely seriously.
d) A thouroughly obnoxious main character. In some ways, Nathaniel, the young protagonist, is an anti-Harry Potter. Actually, he's more like a young Tom Riddle, except that he doesn't need to take over the world to create that society ruled by brutal wizards: he's already a part of it. It was fascinating watching Nathaniel become less and less compassionate as he became more aware of his power and it's possibilities in the first book; in this second one, he is really repulsively callous and arrogant (although I suppose that he's due for a moral turn-around in book three, as this is a children's series). And this, surprisingly, does not bother me. I disliked Artemis Fowl, who was much the same way, because clearly we were supposed to admire his "bad-boy" ways. Here, we aren't. Nathaniel is not irredeemable, but he's in need of redemption, and until then, the author doesn't expect us to particularly admire him.

This afternoon, I swear, I am going to start my paper. And practice. Yes. I really will.

WOTE

Jan. 18th, 2006 10:34 pm
ricardienne: (Default)
I finally got my hands on a copy of Tamora Pierce's latest this afternoon. A couple of hours and 500-odd pages later (okay, I admit I skimmed frequent, extensive, and rather boring Big Flashy Magic parts), I am ready to spoil it ridiculously. You've been warned.
The Will of the Emperess: the good, the bad, the ridiculous, the over-concern with deference, the spoilers )
ricardienne: (Default)
Hey! Livejournal now allows six icons! Yay!

Anyone who has read Ender's Game or anything else by Orson Scott Card should read this article. Creepy. Very creepy. But it's important to know, I think.

This article got me thinking about Fantasy in general. I was really troubled that I hadn't seen it before, what Card was up to. But what about other fantasy or Sci-Fi novels? Where is the line between thought experiment and belief?
Fantasy novels are really a Fascist Plot )

So, I was reading my excellent edition of City of God today, and the editor mentioned a brilliant extended pun that Augustine made in one of the sections that was cut for this translation. But I managed to track it down:

And you thought that St. Augustine didn't have a sense of humor… )

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