Interpretation

One of my favourite pairs of earrings is “Deciphering As Art“, by Elise Matthesen (whose other jewelry you can currently find on Etsy). They’re pretty simple; tiny squares of striated grey stone, with a grey fiber-optic bead dangling under them. They’re a beautiful, simple reminder of the process of taking something you’re actually presented with that  has a quality or a tendency,

I have been thinking about this a bit lately. I had a very long discussion about reconciling  Deadpool’s Rule (thank you, Foz Meadows) with calling out queerbaiting recently. The two points which came out of it were:

  • It’s reasonable to look at a character’s actions and interactions and draw the conclusion that said character is not straight without them explicitly naming themselves as such. (Deadpool’s Rule)
  • It’s reasonable to look at a creator (or creative team) that consistently refuses to give non-straight characters or interactions commensurate page time, screen time, and/or validation, and get frustrated and angry.
    (You might feel like you want to throw something at the interrelated shows which have a couple hundred episodes between them and have had canonically gay characters for nearly three years and have two married gay couples and still haven’t ever managed to have two guys kissing onscreen. Just as a for-instance.)

I generally assume interpretation of a character is going to be done in good faith. I may not agree with it, and in certain extremely rare cases[1] I may conclude that you are bringing some very specific preconceptions to the text, but I will assume it is being done in good faith. But just because you read a character as having a marginalized identity, it doesn’t mean you can’t want the work in which you found them in to do better.

Seeing something in a work that resonates with you doesn’t mean that the creator stood behind what you’re seeing. (It can! It often does! But it can also mean you’ve picked up on something the creator didn’t intend or didn’t want to showcase.) It doesn’t mean you’re endorsing the creator. And it’s okay to call out shortcomings, and to expect better.
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[1] Like the time someone told me I should keep in mind that Gregor Clegane had been bullied as a child for being the biggest and the strongest.

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Taking stock

(This is a very carefully circumscribed post, because that is what I need at the moment.)

Slowed down on getting rid of books. On the other hand, making progress on reading them, which is always nice.

Since it generally leads to a lot of people I know talking about writing and encouraging each other on wordcounts, trying to do NaNoWriMo. The Story Hospital has an excellent post on that.

Worried for people right now, and hoping everyone is doing as well as possible.

“Gardenias”, Ian McDonald

There is death in the Barry-O tonight but still they come down from the neon and lasershine of Hy Brazyl, the five of them. They have given themselves names, as the ones who come down will, names like Zed and Lolo and Cassaday and the Shrike and Yani. Noble they are, comely, their fathers are Company men, bound by blood and contract, their mothers are Company women; they are born to live lives of lofty altitude among the crystal pinnacles of Hy Brazyl. So: why have they exchanged their Projects and corporadas for the tar-paper and plastic favelas of the Barry-O, where the faces have no contracts and no consequence and the rain washes the names from the streets?

This is how Ian McDonald’s “Gardenias” begins; I am very sorry to see that according to ISFDB it hasn’t been printed in twenty-three years. It was one of the first times I’d met what I thought of as fantasy language in a science fiction setting, and I have hung onto the aging paperback anthology that contains it through three moves and at least one decade. The language flows.

It doesn’t seem to be currently available in either paper or electronic format, but I’ve had some luck picking up old paperbacks secondhand, lately, and someone looking for the novelette could do worse than try AbeBooks.

Image is found here, by Juan Davila, used under the CC0 1.0 license