Posts Tagged ‘le guin’

Ancient Light, culture and memory

Last May at Wiscon, Sylvia Kelso talked about Golden Witchbreed (1984) and its sequel, Ancient Light, during the Uncomfortable Politics panel, and I knew while she was talking that I would love these books and that they’d upset me. Golden Witchbreed totally blew my mind! Why don’t people talk about it more? Sylvia warned us that it sets up a hero, Lynne Christie, and then in the 2nd book destroys her, or does something heart-rendingly disturbing with her character, which sounded like … like she became corrupt, or broken by circumstances — not like she gets victimized in some simple way, but that instead she disappoints the reader… or shows something disappointing about our own characters. I’m at the very beginning of Ancient Light, feeling upset and doomed already, and can see many complicated ways this could go. The story has an unreliable narrator & many other things I love – including the thing I’m always going on about, memory and eating-memories and being a holder of memory, the thing that Bujold tries to explore in Hallowed Hunt & that Wolfe does the opposite way with his Autarch & that Herbert does in Dune.

(I talked about this memory-eating more in the article on age and gender Q. and I wrote for the women in sf book, but at the moment I want to go to bed and anyway I can’t remember all of my examples from the article.) The memory-eater and their fate, & purpose, are a placeholder for what the author’s trying to say about culture and history and the position we should take in relation to it. One position – what i think of as the patriarchal one – suggests that by consuming history and knowledge we become God; cultural elitism; other people’s memories are consumed and internalized, eaten. The other might possibly be a sort of cultural revolution position and focuses on process rather than a cult of old culture. Bujold’s ghosts and memories must be set free. I had other examples from (mostly) women writers and should look back at my notes to see what they were. Anyway, I think Mary Gentle’s book is going to add some interesting data points to this collection of ideas on SF and memory.

In the meantime I am feeling very emotionally shaky about what’s about to happen in this book to Lynne Christie who was an excellent and complicated heroine. I feel all trembly inside, and expectant, and maybe intellectually or morally (?) scared and aware of my own complications & contradictions, like I did while reading Illicit Passage and the Tiptree bio.

I’m sure other people noticed the river Ai, obvious homage to Le Guin’s Envoy in a book about a diplomat & first contact. The book is (or both books, I think, are) a wonderful complicated weird counterpoint to Left Hand of Darkness, when you consider it that way instead of obsessing on kemmer as so many people do.

Technorati Tags: ,

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.

women writers meme

Liz Ditz tags me with a meme from another bookish badgerwoman.

I note that my Badger Sister should immediately read all of Carson McCullers… really… you won’t regret it!

doing this list made me think “gosh… I *haven’t* ever read anything else by Mary Wollstonecraft… and should”.

I will update the list tomorrow with more writers from other languages and times… it is making an effort but is sadly English-centric. And I am just the woman to step up and fix that.

*Alcott, Louisa May–Little Women
*Allende, Isabel–The House of Spirits
* Angelou, Maya–I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
* Atwood, Margaret–Cat’s Eye
* Austen, Jane–Emma
* Bambara, Toni Cade–Salt Eaters
Barnes, Djuna–Nightwood
de Beauvoir, Simone–The Second Sex
* Blume, Judy–Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret
* Burnett, Frances–The Secret Garden
* Bronte, Charlotte–Jane Eyre
* Bronte, Emily–Wuthering Heights
* Buck, Pearl S.–The Good Earth
Byatt, A.S.–Possession
* Cather, Willa–My Antonia
* Chopin, Kate–The Awakening
* Christie, Agatha–Murder on the Orient Express
* Cisneros, Sandra–The House on Mango Street
Clinton, Hillary Rodham–Living History
Cooper, Anna Julia–A Voice From the South
? Danticat, Edwidge–Breath, Eyes, Memory
* Davis, Angela–Women, Culture, and Politics
? Desai, Anita–Clear Light of Day
Dickinson, Emily–Collected Poems
Duncan, Lois–I Know What You Did Last Summer
* DuMaurier, Daphne–Rebecca
* Eliot, George–Middlemarch
* Emecheta, Buchi–Second Class Citizen
Erdrich, Louise–Tracks
Esquivel, Laura–Like Water for Chocolate
Flagg, Fannie–Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Friedan, Betty–The Feminine Mystique
Frank, Anne–Diary of a Young Girl
* Gilman, Charlotte Perkins–The Yellow Wallpaper
* Gordimer, Nadine–July’s People
* Grafton, Sue–S is for Silence
Hamilton, Edith–Mythology
* Highsmith, Patricia–The Talented Mr. Ripley
* hooks, bell–Bone Black

* Hurston, Zora Neale–Dust Tracks on the Road
Jacobs, Harriet–Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Jackson, Helen Hunt–Ramona
* Jackson, Shirley–The Haunting of Hill House
* Jong, Erica–Fear of Flying
* Keene, Carolyn–The Nancy Drew Mysteries (any of them)
Kidd, Sue Monk–The Secret Life of Bees
* Kincaid, Jamaica–Lucy
Kingsolver, Barbara–The Poisonwood Bible
Kingston, Maxine Hong–The Woman Warrior
Larsen, Nella–Passing
* L’Engle, Madeleine–A Wrinkle in Time
* Le Guin, Ursula K.–The Left Hand of Darkness
Lee, Harper–To Kill a Mockingbird
* Lessing, Doris–The Golden Notebook
? Lively, Penelope–Moon Tiger
* Lorde, Audre–The Cancer Journals
* Martin, Ann M.–The Babysitters Club Series (any of them)
* McCullers, Carson–The Member of the Wedding
McMillan, Terry–Disappearing Acts
Markandaya, Kamala–Nectar in a Sieve
* Marshall, Paule–Brown Girl, Brownstones
Mitchell, Margaret–Gone with the Wind
* Montgomery, Lucy–Anne of Green Gables
? Morgan, Joan–When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost
* Morrison, Toni–Song of Solomon
Murasaki, Lady Shikibu–The Tale of Genji
Munro, Alice–Lives of Girls and Women
* Murdoch, Iris–Severed Head
Naylor, Gloria–Mama Day
Niffenegger, Audrey–The Time Traveller’s Wife
* Oates, Joyce Carol–We Were the Mulvaneys
* O’Connor, Flannery–A Good Man is Hard to Find
* Piercy, Marge–Woman on the Edge of Time
? Picoult, Jodi–My Sister’s Keeper
* Plath, Sylvia–The Bell Jar
* Porter, Katharine Anne–Ship of Fools
Proulx, E. Annie–The Shipping News
* Rand, Ayn–The Fountainhead
? Ray, Rachel–365: No Repeats
Rhys, Jean–Wide Sargasso Sea
? Robinson, Marilynne–Housekeeping
? Rocha, Sharon–For Lac
Sebold, Alice–The Lovely Bones
* Shelley, Mary–Frankenstein
Smith, Betty–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Smith, Zadie–White Teeth
Spark, Muriel–The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
* Spyri, Johanna–Heidi
? Strout, Elizabeth–Amy and Isabelle
Steel, Danielle–The House
* Tan, Amy–The Joy Luck Club
Tannen, Deborah–You’re Wearing That
? Ulrich, Laurel–A Midwife’s Tale
Urquhart, Jane–Away
* Walker, Alice–The Temple of My Familiar
* Welty, Eudora–One Writer’s Beginnings
* Wharton, Edith–Age of Innocence
* Wilder, Laura Ingalls–Little House in the Big Woods
Wollstonecraft, Mary–A Vindication of the Rights of Women
* Woolf, Virginia–A Room of One’s Own

Instructions: Bold the ones you’ve read. Italicize the ones you have wanted/might like to read. ??Place question marks by any titles/authors you’ve never heard of?? Put an asterisk if you’ve read something else by the same author.

beautiful gamers

More on Mellan himmel och hav, the 72-hour full immersion LARP based on Le Guin. What a fantastic experience, scary-sounding, overwhelming…

I can’t help having a crush on Jaako S.! Some people’s minds make them instant hotties!

clorox earthsea

A great interview with Ursula Le Guin about Earthsea — not the statement on her web site. She’s so great!

covered with swimming pool sparkles; problems of LeGuin heroes

It was at least 100 degrees here today but we had a splendid time at Nada’s mom-in-law’s pool with her and her kid Riffy! Riffy is not quite 3 but possibly the most verbally precocious kid I’ve ever met. He is hilarious!

And I figured out suddenly that Moomin was perturbed deeply about his bathing suit being wet. The shame of pants-wetting! Because once he got to be naked all his reluctance to go in the water disappeared. *SNAP* like magic! He swam around with me, he edged his way around the pool hanging on to the edge like a little water monkey, he floated on pool noodles, he jumped into my arms and cavorted on the steps. It was so great for me to see.

I had all these thoughts about LeGuin which I had while driving the other day and then re-thought about today while driving home on 280. How several of her protagonists have this opposition between a sort of public life: progress, scientific discourse, fame, technical innovation, the public exercise of talent; vs. this wholesome family life; to “just be”, to live with the seasons on the land, farming, connection with nature, routine and comfort with other people. You either have exciting artistic/scientific contacts, or you have personal happiness or enlightenment or fulfilment. Shevek has this opposition — Ged has it — the dude in Fisherman of the Inland Sea has it. I think we can say Estraven also has it.

This makes me deeply uncomfortable. It’s not even her being a luddite really, and it’s more than a buddhist belief in detachment, and I have this suspicion that is actually about gender and the ways that our society has split public and private life to be gendered so that men are supposed to (we can say “were supposed to” but why pretend it’s any more than a little different…) do the public work and have the ambition and stuff, but be personally unhappy and out of touch like the Fisherman was even though he like, invented churtening or something; and the women are supposed to maintain the connections and emotional life and the stable home life and the important nurturing of children, but be non-intellectual (not that we see them that often, really, in leguin!) but it means no one gets to be a whole person (on this level of mythicness or archetype. obviously i think we get to try hard to be whole people in our actual lives.) What bothers me about LeGuin, not that I would criticize her, as I kiss the hem of her garment forever, but doesn’t it seem that her characters’ choices for public life are always “the wrong choice” and the achieving of great things or public importance always carries a horrible price – for estraven, death; for Ged, he’s all maimed and loses his magic and stuff, I think; for Shevek, lord it’s been a long time since i’ve read that book but wasn’t he totally fucked in the end? at least, in exile. But the men have moments where they wake up and go “oh fuck, where is my happy family life and my orchard? I have fucked up. I have focused too much on work and ambition. I have pursued Illusion.” Again… deep suspicion. Though as Le Guin actually IS a famous ambitious person I think we can believe it that fame and ambition have their price and are difficult. Of course I believe this. But I also don’t believe that it would be better to fart around tending an orchard all one’s life and making perfect marmalade if it is at the expense of all the other stuff… I don’t think that’s what she’s trying to say but that’s what comes through on some level as if she had a deep nostalgia for the 70s dream of the hippie feminist bourgeois communal goat farm I keep writing about, where everything’s all wholesome and earthy and consensus decision making works great and you get organic vegetables and cooperative day care, and yet doing the laundry is not tedious or difficult as there is JUST enough technology to make life easy yet not enough to exploit anyone or pollute anything.

But Le Guin’s hippie family-oriented people don’t get to have anyone around for conversation. No “discourse”. They don’t get to be on international churtening-discussion mailing lists, or talk to any scholars of dragonspeech. They’re aliens in self-imposed hermit-like isolation as if they are doing penance for the crime of having once aspired to be public intellectuals by now only letting themselves have conversations with Goody Witchwife’s retarded cousin-in-law about embroidery and last year’s peach crop. Becuase they wouldn’t want to get above themselves, or act biggety, or get stoned to death for being different or counterrevolutionary. I guess this is the part that seems horribly wrong.

I guess you could say that Arha does the reverse thing – she is the public figure, but when she goes personal, she is exiled but then gets happier to just be a normal small person of not much importance doing whatever she ends up doing, herding goats or tending her gontish peach orchard etc. I now suddenly can’t remember the details of Tehanu and Other Wind, but when I read them I felt that they fixed many of the irritating sexist problems of the early Earthsea books, but that something else was going on that I couldn’t figure out.

Now I must go look it up. I could be remembering wrong out of the desire to fit everything into this pattern that I suddenly felt I saw.


I suddenly remembered that the whole reason I suddenly remembered this train of thought was from listening to this guy named Horehound read a very funny and great story about giving up everything that might be a barrier to his enlightenment but how he realized he couldn’t give up anonymous sex with hot guys. I wish I could remember the title but it was a long list of vigorous porn-style things one would have to give up, like “Juicy Spit-Covered Dicks and something, and something else, vs. the attainment of Samadhi.”

gender and gaming

If given any opportunity to say something about this for the W1sCon panel

Power, Information and Play my own paper – crucial point is realizing and taking apart the ways people tie in non-hierarchical collaboration to gender. (dirty essentialists!) (okay, “dirty essentialists” is not productive… and is this too complicated to get across?)

talk about the stereotypes from Knights of the Dinner Table. How they apply but how they don’t and are quite irritating. Sara is 10 times as knowledgeable as the guys about game system trivia, so as to be taken seriously, but ALSO always talks to everything before fighting out of girly niceness. “Wait! Let’s TALK to the Ogre.” She is written as having a better understanding of psychology and relationships and behaves ethically. The guys sometimes see these qualities as “ruining the game”.

The simple fact that most of the gaming community doesn’t actually believe there IS any sexism in gaming. They desperately need education, a Feminism 101 primer.

the scandinavian gamers and theorists of Solmukohta and their excellent books. Their LARP based on Le Guin. Actually maybe this is where to start, as it’s a positive and cool thing. (Instead of my getting lost in a labyrinth of endless sniping against evil, when the whole great thing about W1sCon is you don’t have to spend all your time explaining what sexism is and how to see it.)

Okay – focus.

– the finnish books and the Le Guin LARP. [go find book Beyond Role and Play and As Larp Grows Up]
– Rook’s link collection for this
– my paper (toot, toot!)
– Rook’s points about family roles, example of v1nland “wife and mother” roles being powerful
– our upcoming book on RPG theory
– mention Emily Short’s fabulous games!!! so good!!! Galatea and Metamorphoses and the others.
– Br@wny Thews (gently and instructively objectify barbarian gladiators, chainmail bikini style)

That is plenty to say and in fact too much.

But it really needs to be said.

The scribbling trollopeThe things I

The scribbling trollope

The things I find with this project… it makes me crazy. You would think I would have heard of this fabulous woman:

Stéphanie Félicité Comtesse de Genlis, Marquise de Sillery, “the scribbling trollope”. A hundred novels? Political essays, plays, philosophy, a ten volume memoir…. she supported herself by writing, was enormously popular Napoleon’s favorite writer. How to never have heard of her? Grrrr.

I also think of Genly Ai, and wonder if Le Guin was paying homage to Madame de Genlis.

Tasteless yet so tasty!L. helped

Tasteless yet so tasty!

L. helped me make a double batch of tasteless yet tasty totally inappropriate anatomically correct vulva and penis cookies (for my class tomorrow as I do my Wittig/Le Guin presentation)

Sugar cookies and gingerbread to make them symbolically bi-racial… The vulvas have red-hots for clitorises and the penises and vulvas both have a creamy lemon frosting.


They look SO NASTY yet so martha stewart.

Was going to get those silver BBs to make some of them pierced, but it was 10 bucks for a tiny little spice-jar size container of BBs, so I didn’t.

Once I was elbow-deep in cookie dough, I remembered, gradually, that all the other times I made them:

A) the molasses ginger cookie dough is too sticky
B) it also puffs up really big so I got huge brown penises and pencil-dick white ones
C) and huge fat brown vulvas and delicate thin white vulvas/labia
D) it’s not the Lemon Glaze it’s the Quick Lemon Icing.
E) but since I made the glaze by accident, might as well use it too
F) because it melts into the cookies and tastes really good under the thick white variety of icing

I have no idea if this goes way over the line for a school setting, but if they’ve all read the Wittig, they’ve already dealt with more people pissing all over each other and descriptions of vulvas and vaginas than one would expect in a class… soooo…. why the hell not…

Can’t remember when I invented these – it was certainly back in 21st St. Co-op days so that would be late 80s or early 90s.

You need a dough that can be handled – sugar cookie recipies work well. Maybe peanut butter or ginger snaps would be better for the brown variety.

To make the vulvas:

1) roll a cookie dough snake about 4″ long and maybe 1/2 to 3/4″ thick
2) lay it on the cookie sheet
3) fold it in half to make the labia majora – pinch the ends to make a sort of canoe shape. I always think vaguely of some quote from Inanna about the narrow boat of heaven…
4) use your pinkie to make the urethra first, then a vagina below it
5) put in a red hot
6) make another “snake” and flatten it for the labia minora. Here is where you can really have fun because you want your inner labia to be all shapes and sizes. Tee Corinne’s Cunt Coloring Book is good for inspiration, as is Chapter 9 of Burton’s translation of The Perfumed Garden.
7) It works well to have your inner labia meet right over the red hot; pinch together for clitoral hood and shaft
8) edible BBs for piercings are optional…

For the penises:

You have to keep in mind that making them big means they are kind of big for individual cookies and also can be a problem for structural integrity. Small works better!

1) roll penis shaft – whatever thickness… make some of them curvy… some straight… etc. Consult your favorite live models, porn mags, or Chapter 8 of The Perfumed Garden if you feel retro.
2) put them on the cookie sheet and pat them down a bit
3) make 2 balls roughly equal (or whatever) and put them on at the base
4) roll another ball to be the glans – fold it over slightly and pinch it for a great urethra effect
5) stick it on the shaft so it overlaps a bit. Voila!
6) you could add piercings or vary the design to make some of the penises uncut…

Frost them while they’re still warm, you get a fabulous and kind of disgusting melty result of sticky and glazed-doughnut looking shininess combined with thicker spots of the frosting that looks white. Ewwww! But very good!

Strawberry jelly can also be used for the vulvas: great for puberty initiation rites, PMS parties, vampires, or newly joined Hell’s Angels!

If you serve these to people who are drunk or a bit uninhibited you get some very good photo opportunities – usually involving vile and obscene licking of frosted vulvas.

Where the future isAfter all

Where the future is

After all my frantic writing and pursuing of news this weekend, a little quiet reading and absorbing. Reading that some might think depressing – but to me it’s dipping into an abyss and coming out refreshed and whole and strong. Taking the plunge wholeheartedly renews; edging around nervously trying not to fall in is stressful.

Because you are human beings you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you’re weak where you thought yourself strong. You’ll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself – as I know you already have – in dark places, alone, and afraid.

What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign.

In our society, women have lived, and have been despised for living, the whole side of life that includes and takes responsibility for helplessness, weakness, and illness, for the irrational and the irreparable, for all that is obscure, passive, uncontrolled, animal, unclean – the valley of the shadow, the deep, the depths of life. All that the Warrior denies and refuses is left to us and the men who share it with us and therefore, like us, can’t play doctor, only nurse; can’t be warriors, only civilians; can’t be chiefs, only indians.

I hope you are never victims, but I hope that you have no power over other people. And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is. Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country.

— Ursula K. Le Guin, A Left-handed Commencement Address

I was happy when Octavio Paz finally won the Nobel; when Le Guin wins it I’ll be a hundred times happier.