Archive for May, 2006

a particular kind of interruption

I’m annoyingly interrupty, but am working on it. when I’m talking to another very interrupty person I’m so relieved because I know I’m not going to steamroller over them.

But, my personal style or social failings aside.

I noticed this pattern at WisCon:

1) a woman on a panel is talking,

2) a person asks a question of that woman,

3) A man either on the panel or in the audience answers the question.

(In fact often several men would shout out their answers apparently in competition with each other… before the woman originally talking could respond to the question she was asked. )

Each time this happened, I could feel the room bristle with anger as many of the women (and probably some men) recognized it as annoying… nay, deeply offensive.

In group situations this happens a lot and I look around and try to figure out which women are noticing it and which aren’t. Sometimes I can tell who just got ticked off, and then we bond afterwards. And women will say “thank god you were there… or i would have thought i was going crazy… i was so angry.” But often I have no idea at the time and will only hear the “real” response later. And the men doing it never hear about it.

People in general, but especially men, should be wary of this dynamic and should give the person who was originally talking a chance to answer the question or the point raised.

Over the course of the con, I noticed women apologizing for interrupting or talking too much, but rarely heard a guy say, “I’m sorry, I interrupted, I just got excited about the conversation… go on, please.”

The *unusual* thing about wiscon is that women bothered to call men on this kind of thing at all. Usually, they just shut up, and then leave the room and go to the kitchen to talk. So, I think they should take the criticisms seriously. It’s not like I’m pointing out anything new and I know I’ve read sociologists talking about this… and linguists.

As a side note, I appreciated it when panel moderating women were good at putting a lid on 2 or 3 men dominating a conversation in a room full of women. Laura Q did it, Suzette did it, Elizabeth Bear did it… and many others!

It takes practice, goodwill, and commitment on all sides to develop the skills to call people on moments like these & to hear what’s going on & respond without massive defensiveness & denial.

partial transcript of Laádan / Klingon panel

Friday 1-2:15, Laádan vs. Tlhlngan Hol: Differential Diffusion of Created Languages. M.J. Hardman, Elizabeth Barrette, Suzette Haden Elgin, John M. Ford, Andre Guirard.

(I’ll clean this up a bit more and put it on the feministsf wiki)

The concept of the non-holiday, radiidin.

Suzette: poor mary after jesus was born. here come a whole bunch of shepherds and three kings, she’s got to leap up and clean the stable and fix snacks…this is not fun.

MJ: yup, christmas

Elizabeth: Laádan not pushed, thought experiment. Exposure is fan-created. star trek …[…]

[someone] : What grabs people’s imaginations? what is it about a world? Pern, MZB, lackey. tolkien’s elvish. Far more popular now.

greg rihn: start rumor that Laádan is the vast feminist conspiracy. then we’ll have the motion picture The Laádan Code… *laughter*

Suzette: has to catch on its own or it’s not real. if I had done a lot of promotion.. . but then it would not be real. It did not happen in large numbers. Or they would do one themselves that was a better one or a group one. none of those things happened. most of the interest in the language has come from men, oddly enough. I am barraged with letters from men “may I use your book in my class….” I don’t know what they’re doing… maybe making fun of it!

Andre: what conclusion do you draw from that?

Suzette: that women didn’t need it

audience: might it be possible that men needed it? maybe men can’t say the things they need to say. So it is useful to them [to have Laádan to understand themselves and/or women]

Suzette: Well, if so, it was by accident!!!!

audience: well that’s good!

Andre: *mild sarcasm* It seems to me men have no trouble expressing themselves. you’ve got football metaphors what more do you need?

John ford… (missed it)

MJ: what we need is a book where they use Laádan, a successful colony

Suzette: well there’s no beheadings or disembowlments… who wants to go there?

eliz b: gentle fiction: no sex, violence, no foul language. i wonder if i could write a story with that and make it really gripping? for people who get enough of that in the news and real life and who want something elegant and real life… and want something elegant and relaxing… i was rather fascinated from a literary perspective . I’ve had enough of people who mistake fuck for a comma. *general laughter*

Andre: jane austen was writing it

Gregory riihn: well maybe they didnt have a choice back then to write anything else

Me: um yes they did and they were obnoxious then too. elizabethan playwrights for one, poets [if you look for it you find it]

Someone: christian gothic

John m ford: stuff that wouldn’t embarrass beatrix potter vs porn w/out visual aids. book cover encodings tell you what level of stuff is in there. [I note this is a key idea that came up in the Uncomfortable Politics in Feminist Writing panel – that you know what you’re getting, that there’s labels or warnings]

john – question about languages. other than helping women to express to each other, what use is it for people to learn these other languages? are there other uses in addition? other fictional languages?

Suzette: there are linguists who will tell you there are no purposes whatsoever to learn constructed languges. a hobby, an art form esperanto is the only one with practical use.

andre: there’s…

Suzette: i’m not quite through but i will be in a minute. (finishes talking about esperanto)

andre: sorry, i have to talk about klingon…[…]

eliz: and…[…]

Andre: the practical purpse of esperanto

mj: to become aware of alternate grammar so as not to be bound by your own grammar, your thought is bound on the rails of your own language.

[you also become part of a cultural elite of one sort or another. ]

john m ford: don’t underrate the art form part of it. as a writer… if you’re going to deal with an alien culture. whorfian… i.e. writing a book, if their thought patterns are influenced by their linguistic structure then i want to know what that structure is. klingon… the KLI translated the gospel of st. john the divine into klingon.

Liz H: cultural elite.
– not willing to give up on it, it needs more chances. reach more audience and allow more chances for the spontanesou rhizomatic spreading to happen

Suzette: years of conferences etc, reporters, not once do they want to interview me about Laádan. They interview me about other things.

andre: you need to have other speakers… to want to speak it

rebecca : I disagree. You don’t need another language for that. [for communication btwn women, or feminist thought, i think] You just need to use the language you have differently . my experience in japan… I was there for a couple of years and i ended up just saying you know what, english is my language…. Childrens book… called (what?) [missed it]

Suzette: MILLIONS of people agree with you. *rueful, humorous*

Greg rihn: cooolness factor is big. signal to noise is huge. klingon… that first movie, klingons were only on screen a couple of minutes. just coincidental that they decided to remake the klingons.

Liz: we need a punk rock band with Laádan!

greg: we need a movie of native tongue. useful concepts. i use the word shifgrethor all the time! considering poplitics we find the word double plus ungood very useful!

audience: i just read it for the first time and i am super excited at learning Laádan but i am super bad at learning languages. and the thing that works is immersion… if i wanted to learn latin i could take immersion

Suzette: many years ago there was a Laádan group… stories and poetry and etc. in an APA? Do you even know what that is?

Andre: oh you mean like on paper?? *laughter*

Liz: *typing on computer* what’s paper???

Suzette: But you know, they fought a lot. they fought over things like whether there should be a high toned value on a new word or not and they’d ask me to RULE on it. and I said no, that I don’t do power trips. so it died out and didn’t happen. So it wasn’t needed.

Staci Straw: but look, even in the books where there is such an immense need it took generations for it to happen.

Liz: yeah! so there!

Suzette: well the experiment failed… but is nothing to do with how it would do if it had lucasfilms or whatever behind it. with that power behind it you could make anything a worldwide phenomenon whether it’s any good or not

john ford : well lucas alienated everyone after 6 movies

Suzette: *spiritedly* well he didn’t alienate me as i like them all. as a person who grew up with radio… i love the special effects. ….. [missed some stuff] people getting mad […]

MJ: there are .. new words on my web site… that my students constructed…

John ford: Well there could be a borgesian story…

MJ: doroledhim: (sp?) average woman no control over her life, no resources of being good to herself, she has family, animals, etc who depend on her sustenance of many kinds, no opportunity to consider her own emotional needs. and cannot or does not choose to abandon her responsibilities. her only indulgence is food. and indulging in the food is doroledhim

woman from britain: talked about these books to my friends who are women: problem i have with the book is it’s not a book you can pick up off the shelf. i don’t think womens press is in existence anymore. i chased it down… there’s not things you’re going to come across if you haven’t been told about them. Those of us who need these languages, and i have a 6 year old and an 8 year old and was home schooling them. and i didnt’ have the neccessary time to find these things and follow through…

piglet: most women are very busy and very overworked. It takes a long time to get mad. It takes a lot of time and energy to get mad. and then … what are you admitting? you can’t use your primary languages to talk about these things? it’s a cycle that goes back into feminism. and we have to move forward and do something with it.

Suzette: but you know when it came to star trek, the busiest women found time. the people were marching in the streets. If I have been a good enough writer, they would have. it’s a measure of my skill, too.

audience: it’s television

Suzette: I’m not invisible. if there had been some enormous enthusiasm, the tv producers knew where to find me. and that is because evil is so much more attractive than good. Milton noticed this. Satan was the star of paradise lost. I couldnl’t figre out a way to make goodness and harmony appeal to human beings. and people seem to lust after violence.

MJ: ursula le guin used english a different way … to translate Kesh… but it is as far as i can tell the most unpopular of her works.

Suzette: that’s interesting

mJ: it was the languages of harmony and peace…

Suzette: well she’s ursula le guin, she can get away with that

MJ: […]

Suzette: the fact that ursula le guin was able to do it in english means that we don’t need Laádan. we can do it with english.

MJ: […]

andre: for you in the audience who are fans of Laádan, why not just use the paragraph in english? why do you need to learn a whole language?

Staci Straw: we could just put some Laádan into english and track it in…

Liz: ooo, that’s my plan! introduce some words, which would be useful and increase interest. not everyone will learn the whole language. [slower effect. but real.]

Michele L. : speaker of spanish… native tongue… we can mold the language and sculpt it… to be more fidel… it’s like a garment, you can go buy in rags, or you can clad your… feeling and your subtle feeling that has no words, you can clad them in very fine fitting garments and nice colours. and i try to learn Laádan and the internet web site and i found very very few… and i fond a few available on the internet and I will certainly try to buy the book. but it’s very complicated and it’s not the same currency. so i want to, but don’t sell yourself short. for me it is, a success for me.

suzette: thank you

john ford : all the academe francais has proved is that you cant legislate language

Stephanie Kader: english is not my first language and i learned it for my thesis. i learned it as a foreign language embedded in a foreign language. what’s the point? first of all i became aware that there were concepts i had no word for . and that was.. i identified rather strongly with nazareth because i’m a conference interpreter as well. people were like, don’t you know enough languages already? but no… it’s an effort you have to invest. and most women i talk to are not wiling to invest the efffort.

Suzette: if they were desperate for it they’d be willing.

marilyn : because you’ve percieved it witih your own senses… etc… navajo?

Suzette: that particular one.. evidentials, there are languages all over the world that use evidentials but for that case not navajo. you’re thinking navajo b/c …[…]

Suzette: polled women who don’t use Laádan. women complained it make them feel vulnerable, it made them feel naked. If you’re going to be gramatical you have to determine you know things from your sense. the reason english is so dominant is that you can lie in it more easily than in any other language in the world. Laádan, over and over and over in order to be grammatical you have to speak the truth. english allows you to weasel and wiggle and squiggle and say a thing and take it back at the same time, perfect for diplomacy and business. Laádan won’t let you do that and it makes people feel unsafe.

andre: can i respond to that?

Suzette: No.


andre: that occurred to me as well but i view it in a more positive light

Suzette: “lie” will do

andre: there are excellent reasons to lie. getting …[…]

Suzette: where ARE you going?

andre: […]

Suzette: Now, you two gentlemen bellowed the entire panel.. it’s the way that men speak, you have these great big voices qwith muscles behind them.. if MJ and I spoke that way peopel would think we were very strange.

andre: um, okay

MJ: my experience with that… -wa, the personal knowledge suffix… in the […] languages of south america you have to do this. you indicate the sources of knowledge in everything. of course people still lie. alll over the world people lie.

Suzette: yes but you don’t have to lie in english to lie, you can just pretend.

MJ: these seeds need this: and the personal experience, aymara thought people were lying, they just know it out of a book but were using the personal knowledge suffixes. jesuit priest who made first aymara dictionary declared the suffixes to be adornments. So the bible is a translation of a list of words… completely ungrammatical. Begats translated as… (seeds?) fruit of christ’s labor… abraham isaac … converts to jesus b/c of the begats without any grammar in them. It was a tremendous influence on me because i was the one who discovered these suffixes and this grammatical category. you CAN say things grammatically IF they are rude commands. people who learn aymara without the adornments are always speaking in rude commands. (general groan from audience)

Suzette: we have five minutes.

John Kim: about how that language influences it… going back to what john ford said about how learning a language can be part of taking on another mindset. how did … you had some idea for the books before you had the langugage. so how did the language influence the books as opposed to the …

Suzette: it didn’t. not any more than someone in a sf book with starship engines… brings theri knowledge of engines. I’m a linguist. if I make a planet I just kind of *handwave* put in a planet. i’m not a… I’m a linguist. I could construct 6 languages before breakfast now that we have computers. and you know, it was an alien language because it doesn’t have a lot of glottal stops. *laughter*

MJ: hey, my language has a lot of glottal stops

Suzette: except for little boys for whom eeheheheheheeheh [machine gun noise] is a word. *laughter*

John Kim: (something continuing question)

Suzette: two languages, the stupid language the women made for a cover… which fooled the men… and the one underneath. and the women didn’t know what effect it would have. they just thought the society they had didn’t work well and it was necessary to change something fundamental in order for the culture to have an opportunity to change . does that make sense? you have a blank look on your face.

john: i was wondering if you think klingon influenced the star trek world:

Suzette: terran male 14-26 for whom this language is god’s gift. you can spit and kill and hit and scream and pillage rape and it’s wonderful

me: you sound sort of wistful! *joking*

Suzette: I’ve never wanted to pillage or rape. *laughter*

MJ: I loved your… that they became so … to the men that they let them have their own way.

Suzette: there were women who thogut they are doing to have to flee through the deserts…

MJ: nazareth said oh no it won’t be that way…

John Kim: but what about klingon influecnidng star trek

John ford: i never had a documetn i could rpint out.. i had some words… i did some things in the book that were intended to indicate thought patterns. the suffix [] I deconstructed the word klingonese klin, gon, a-se tool, an obejct that’s useable as a weapon as a tool. a people whose attitude toward the universe was that it to be maniplulated. not trying to run roddenberrys idea t hat theyw ere like the russians…. from my exposure to o.’s language it doesn’t have much of a semiotic structure. they made up a bunch of words, they made anot very complicated rammar… it was clearly designed to be difficult enough to make you exert alittle effort, but not so hard it would turn peopel off.

woman in audience: enough of the booming voice.

john ford: i’m sorry but my lady friend is hearing impaired… i didn’t mean to be insulting… I am used to talking that way…

woman in audience: Yup, I’m sure.

*something else was said, but my hands hurt from typing*

– I talked with Staci and PIglet and Michele and some other people about wanting to put more Laadan on the web, the dictionary if not the grammar* Later, Suzette told me that someone has the Láadan dictionary all ready to go online in some kind of database structure, but she wants to make sure with SF3 that it would be okay with them. I hope it is. It would only help sales of the book. And millions of women would read it and use it, if it were online. It needs more chances, more instances to spread from.

conversation with Cynthia White on process

Mostly so that I won’t forget – I’ll post snippets of good conversations from Wiscon –

talked with Cynthia White in the hall v. intensely about panel format, doing more roundtable or at least going quickly once around the room for everyone to speak. we both very much liked Laura Quilter’s moderation technique of using the last 5 minutes of the panel to create a list of points made by everyone. It sums up some key ideas to take away, and also, I think it lets people who brought up those ideas know that their ideas were at least heard. I was saying to cynthia that I found myself, in transcribing, typing, “audience” and then hating the word – it’s inaccurate & rather nauseating especially in this context. A panel of people who have thought about a topic having a focused discussion without much interruption is often very cool, but more variety in format would be nice. Also: whiteboards or large pads of paper. So, what about having a bit of an Un-conference track or brainjam track, or u CR, or whatever. cynthia was full of ideas and I think she has vastly more experience in that kind of organizing/discussion than I do. I had something of a variant on this train of thought with Susanna Sturgis in the hall after the Think Tank panel.

joanna russ interview notes

this I’m trying to liveblog even if it kills me… chip delany is doing a slideshow of the covers of russ books including many in translation.
I’ll keep posting notes every few minutes.


also from “3rd world” sf panel

**** I lost a whole bunch of posts, somehow, from using Performancing during Wiscon. I’d hit “post” and it would apparently post… and then, nothing. and then it posted something 3 times. luckily I typed up most of my panel transcripts in a flat text file. so, these are some scattered notes that didn’t get lost in the aether.

woman in audience saying that we can also look cross-media. literacy rates.

woman in audience saying that the biggest sf magazine is chinese. i want to read all that and i wish someone would translate it. why don’t we have access to this stuff…

[a note… consider 2 things here: the copyright is a huge barrier. ]

person from audience: conference in chungdu just before worldcon. 2nd thing is i’m tired of tryng to make western culture work. it’s not their problem it’s our problem!!!

time whooshing past at Wiscon

I’m so in love with Wiscon! I keep getting into strange intense conversations! Everyone’s so tired that they have lost all inhibitions and so will say foolish, uncertain things in the general delirium.

oursin got me a rosamond lehmann book from the dollar rack and I was wildly pleased!

i have not found a couple of people that I still really want to talk to if only to wave my hands around and say “come now, really… it is not about hating on each other… polemics… not personal… a little perspective…” And that may not happen but I will keep looking. I also meant to write email to those couple of people before hand.

Anyway! I was groggy at the wiki meeting, but perked up in the green room — coffee and pastry, but also good conversation about feminism & books with people in there, which primed me. I was regretting not gettting to go to the feminist theory panel, and considered that maybe only 3 people would come to the flirting panel and we could tell them that the best way to flirt at wiscon would be for us to ALL GO TO THE FEMINIST THEORY PANEL. Ha!!!! But this turned out not to be true. My co-panelists were splendid, witty, and forthright!!!!! There were 30 or 40 people in the flirting, cruise, and pickup room (at 10 am on a Sunday!) and the discussion was lively & fun. I have some notes which, along with all the other panel notes I took, I’ll clean up & post here. I was left with the feeling that … as Lyn said… the panel will continue tonight at the 6th floor parties. And that tonight will be the flirtiest night of all Wiscon, because we made everyone consider the possibilities of it all, and everyone who wants to will feel loved and popular, get laid, & be happy. Best line from Debbie L. Smith who described her successful flirtation with another writer… *batting eyelashes*…. “So! Do the cats in your story have SEX?” *batting eyelashes* … “GOOD sex?” She broke me… I was howling with laughter. “And it worked!” She was a good sport about me and Lyn P. demo-ing the transition between verbal flirting and physical touch… on her.

more later, must run to panel i’m missing. i just needed to chill for a bit in a quiet place.

attribute tags in mediawiki

Hey, does anyone know the syntax for putting attribute tags in wikis, specifically in mediawiki? I think there’s no way for me to put technorati tags into my mediawiki entry. I haven’t had time to sit down and figure it out yet!

only in Madison…

… could you be at a pizza place downtown and there’s 2 bearded guys in suspenders, purple shirts and bunny ears and they’re *not* part of the science fiction convention…

is it today yet?

Um. Is it still the same day it was when I blogged that stuff below? 8 million things have happened since then. It’s like a whole week later. Whew!

brief notes on friday, wiscon


It’s intense here.

fairly “relaxed” morning with moomin, rook, many many many conversations with ,…. everyone… and lunch with Jam (new blog-name) and wired_ferret.

I have a detailed transcript of the panel on the diffusion of invented languages (Láadan and Klingon), and one of the panel that I was suddenly ON becasue Quilty got in late and missed it, which was very sad, but anyway I liveblogged it while being on the panel, which took so much juice out of me that afterwards I was about to burst into hysterical tears, but instead went to the gender in gaming panel, where Rook was suddenly and unexpectedly not only on the panel but moderating it. Quilter got in about 15 minutes after the end… and Chula was on the bus and t hen just getting off the b us somewhere in Madison and texting me, so I had to duck out of the gaming panel to get her calls. Then all the parties! OMFG a lot of parties. Oh yeah and dinner with Lori, Steven, my long lost cousin brian henry, rook, and moomin. (REALLY good sushi and japanese food… at Wasabi just off state street. I recommend it though I went in suspicious of “inland sushi”.) Steven and I basically never, ever shut up. Parties: broad universe, aqueduct/tachyon, others: flitting from room to room . Last year I showed my underwear to people very ridiculsouly and this year, everyone ELSE is showing me their underwear. So … THAT worked. (score! the spread of silliness!)

funny conv. with L from Seattle that went like this:

“hey, are you the person int he red shirt that i’m supposed to meet that called me…”
“no, i’m the person in the red shirt who didn’t call you and arrange a meeting” (*suggestive eyebrow waggle*
“Oh! What did I do wrong!” (flirtily)
“You fucked my boyfriend.”
“No, really!”
“Ha? Oh…!? Um, which one?”
“You have no idea what a good question that is.”

Then I realized who and that he (“Jam”) was coming up the stairs right at that moment. We all giggled insanely and Jam did the eyelash-batting thing.

After the parties: dropped with exhaustion at 1:30ish.

though can i just add: OMG, Chula’s *outfit*… the little plaid skirt and top with schoolgirl tie… unbearably cute… she’s so tall and gorgeous and elegant…. and cherry underwear, which she showed us. I should have *photographed* everyone’s underwear and stuck it on flickr. perhaps tonight. also, omg, Cabell is cute as hell. wired_ferret wins the giggling easy cheerful hoyden prize. damn! she’s a red hot mama!

woke up way too early, went to farmers market with quilty, then sat in 2nd floor lobby with computers and did wiki stuff at 7-fucking-thirty-am. reading by nalo hopkinson and samuel delany. art show with quilty. rook came for a bit… i bought a print for Minnie and one for chula if she likes it. book room. bough a jesus fuckload of books which i will ship back.

collapsing for disco nap. I’m exhausted to where I am stuttering every time I try to talk.

Talked to SO many people. beautiful, exhilarating, tiring…