At this point Bergland made an entire set of things come together in my brain by explaining the difference between the American and the European Gothic in fiction. In the European Gothic, the uncanny, whatever it is, is attempting to tear down a previously constructed edifice (building, society, family) from which it has come, while the non-uncanny elements of the story are trying to preserve the edifice. In the American Gothic, the non-uncanny elements of the story are trying to create such an edifice (building, society, family), and the uncanny, coming from outside, is trying to destroy it. Suddenly everything from Poe* to Shirley Jackson to Anne Rivers Siddons’ The House Next Door made infinitely more sense. The difference in Gothic traditions is of course at least partially because of the difference between types of ghost.
Why the change in the American ghost? Well, partly because of the rise of the modern scientific method, and the development of ways to test the empirical validity of the supernatural. And partly because colonists in the Americas could not take their ancestors with them, moving from a built-up landscape full of folklore and traditions they understood to a landscape they could not see as fully settled, full of folklore and traditions they did not know. And partly because of the rise of interiority and subjectivity as useful societal concepts, and the intersection of interiority and subjectivity with the newly-minted American Dream. Bergland is literally the first writer I have seen mention that the United States began as a colonized country and became a colonial power, and that the second required systematic repression of the knowledge of what it had been like to be the first. This repression was produced at least partially via the myth of American exceptionalism: we won the American Revolution because we are just so gosh-darn special. Therefore, if we keep winning things, we keep on being special. A widespread mythology on both a national and a personal level– and this is where that intersection of interiority with national myth comes in, that particular Puritan-Calvinist slant which says that if you won you must deserve to win, and if not, not. The awareness that no one can win everything all the time, and that those who do not win are not worthless, remains despite its repression. The American Dream as a system for judging self-worth is a false consciousness, and therefore, as are all false consciousnesses, it is haunted. You see, then, why the new ghost is so nebulous: it cannot be entirely banished until the false consciousness is banished, but the pervasive national mythology does not allow societal awareness of the falsity. Nameless crimes, nameless shames, nameless fears of not living up to a value system which is beyond human capabilities.
Read the whole thing. It is brilliant.
Self-published author Hugh C. Howey (who acquired a trad publishing deal and sold film rights to his novel) reveals himself to be a complete asshole who fantasises about sexually harassing people who annoy him.
The Daily Dot, Self-published wunderkind under fire for misogynist rant:
“I’m disturbed beyond reason by your use of the word ‘bitch’ and your fantasy about grabbing yourself to prove something to her,” young-adult fiction author Lauren DeStefano tweeted to Howey earlier today. “I know what it’s like to face condescending/rude people and challenges as an author, but that was a truly horrific response.”
“‘Crazy bitch who needs to be slapped’ are words that carry very different connotations than ‘rude, ignorant person who is wrong,'” noted romance author Courtney Milan.
Jenny Trout, Let me fix that for you, Mr. Howey:
And that’s how Howey’s post came off. “Look at me, I’m better than this ugly, possibly mentally ill, probably autistic (because autistic people act like that, amiright?!) bitch that my wife wanted to slap! I am validated!”
Seanan McGuire, I’d like to belong here. Do you think that I could?
“Teachers are often unaware of the gender distribution of talk in their classrooms. They usually consider that they give equal amounts of attention to girls and boys, and it is only when they make a tape recording that they realize that boys are dominating the interactions. Dale Spender, an Australian feminist who has been a strong advocate of female rights in this area, noted that teachers who tried to restore the balance by deliberately ‘favouring’ the girls were astounded to find that despite their efforts they continued to devote more time to the boys in their classrooms. Another study reported that a male science teacher who managed to create an atmosphere in which girls and boys contributed more equally to discussion felt that he was devoting 90 per cent of his attention to the girls. And so did his male pupils. They complained vociferously that the girls were getting too much talking time.”
“The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”
I am not a silent woman. But I am not louder than the men who are in my peer group. We’re all talking at about the same volume, some a little louder, some a little softer. And it would be nice if my gender would stop being the one factor that determined the worth, and appropriateness, of everything I did.
She is entirely right on this, you know, people.
Ursula Vernon is breaking the silence about lawn crayfish:
I did what anybody does when they learn that an aquatic creature is living in their flowerbed–I went to Twitter screaming “HOW IS THIS MY LIFE!?!”
Several people informed me that yes. This is a thing that happens.
Everyone else on earth assumed I was drunk or insane or being an artist or engaging in some obscure form of collaborative fiction, possibly with Seanan McGuire. (Which would be awesome, don’t get me wrong, but no. The crayfish really exists.)
Some species, apparently, live in lawns. Anywhere with a high water table, say. And at night they come out and walk around the lawn.
There is a five-inch crayfish walking around my garden on ten legs right this minute while I’m typing.
Not gonna lie. That kinda squicks me out a little. I mean, I love animals well beyond the point of sanity and reason, but…dude, it is walking around out there. A freakin’ LOBSTER is WALKING in my garden.
Jenny’s Library on Robin Hood’s Ship of Magic: Team Sea Serpent:
Which is how I found myself attempting to read Robin Hobb’s Ship of Magic. Despite my better judgement and the advice of friends whose opinions I trust.
I didn’t even make it through the first 100 pages. This is possibly because none of the characters make any bit of sense and the most interesting one so far is the sea serpent who tried to convince some poor sailor to toss himself overboard.**