irritably happy

TLDR I am dying it’s ages since I saw Alex and in the pursuit of self-possessed reserve NOT EXACTLY MY STRONG SUIT IS IT I can’t brag about the stuff that’s going better than splendid in my life right now. I am having thinky thoughts about slashfic that are making me completely insane – I’m out of the writing mania and into the ‘where does this fit into intersectionality/problemas map of social justice’ mania instead, which I vastly prefer. I’ve been schooled on the sociological fly in the slashfic ointment. AND I AM PISSED AND HOWLING INTERNALLY LIKE SEPARATED TWINS. By which I mean autonomous toddler twins taken away from each other, not -never mind, I’m obviously gaga.

Spent yesterday afternoon with Mike; so hot in his apartment I felt noodlelike when I left. Lunch was a delicious lamb donair, from the best donair place in New West. Mike had the chicken platter. Aren’t those prices insane?

Persephone Golden Goddess is back in stock at Liquorgate! me happy. First time I drank it was with Mike but Paul and I have demolished a fair few of those as well. Paul’s totally hung up on Lost Lagoon, a beer so hoppy it will make a raging erection turn into a squinting afterthought. I had no idea brewer’s droop was real. I suppose I should warn him. Yes I’ll tell him.

I hate doing this, making decisions while all three of you are watching me with your globular unblinking peepers of dwoom. Plus John of course. He hasn’t had a hand in any of my recent decisions (cause he’s dead, no duh), but he’s certainly been chaffing me from various angles. His spirited defence of anarchism, gee whiz. I wish I could bring it to life at will. All his delightfully useful ideas.

Now here I ramble. It’s okay now; pOp didn’t make it this far down and mOm’s gonna take shotgun on ‘picking the music’ which means she gets to read this and then phone me about it afterward. Shotgun was a Supernatural reference. Nobody reading this will get it. I wish I could convey how annoying that was.

Caveats

I’m genuinely sad about this. I wish I could find something realer to be sad about, but for me this is like two of my second-tier best friends having the most beautiful and hauntingly star-crossed love affair OF ALL TIME in front of me where I get to go to a wedding and eat popcorn for the whole damned thing and THEN IT TURNS OUT IT WAS ALL A LIE and you hate yourself.

You hate yourself for believing it. You hate yourself for spending so much fracking time on it. You hate yourself for having your friendships reduced to a thought experiment (“Did we ever actually believe or think similarly about anything for any length of time and did we actually think/believe nothing was perhaps a little bit non-conformant with consensus reality?”) You hate yourself for the time you spent on it in new and different ways.

You comfort yourself that you’ve met wonderful people all over the internet. They are young, they are fierce, they make wonderful memes twenty minutes after that episode was released. You’ve read a lot of fanfic. Some of it was so good it read like (this line deleted as I expect it would give my mOm the pip) well anyway it was witty, hot, dark and completely true to the character’s voices. Some of it was so bad you had a moment to reflect on your bigotry as you tried to guess which country this Enlgish speaker was living in.

Thailand? South Korea? Poland? The smart ones find beta readers and they close the usage and cultural cracks.

No spell checking, no punchuation, I can’t breath no seriously.

If the first page has more than three errors and ghastly dialogue I bail. THat wAs eaSY.

I’ve learned a lot about butt sex. The learnings are academic and applied. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it’s very useful as an antidote to various kinds of gay panic you may have lingering in your sensorium. Jes sayin.

and now it begins and it starts elliptical so I want you to think of how this is written as an analogue to falling and moving forward  : like an orbit. I’ve been knocked out of mine a little.

My twitter badge reads “ALL MY FANDOMS ARE PROBLEMATIC”. I left the red underline under FANDOMS when I did a screen shot of it from Word for Mac in the colour and font I wanted. Because of course the word FANDOM can’t be plural. The word fandom may not exist in your thesaurus.  THE SOFTWARE I USE IS JUDGING ME. The software I used has not caught up with me. And it’s worse if I’m not as privileged.

I’m telling the truth. All my fandoms are problematic.

Dunnett had a magickal negro in the character Salamanca, in The Disorderly Knights and Pawn in Frankincense. He’s wise and calm and servile. He dies defending Our Hero Francis in Pawn in Frankincense.

He was written over 1964 to 1968, and he has about as much agency as a Negro character written during that time by a white person who did not come into daily contact with black people could have. Dunnett makes it plain that he is a free man serving freely; he talks back to Lymond and gets away with it where other people, white people, would get verbally punched and bored and turned over to the maggots.

Umar, in the Niccolo Series, is a completely different story. He starts as a literal slave names Lopes, and is returned to his high status life as a high-born Muslim jurist in Timbuktu in part by making a deal with that devil Niccolo to participate in the exploitation of his people (sort of, the war die are already cast when we meet Akil) and of his neighbours, although one could argue that Umar didn’t see it that way. He has a backstory and a current story and he is presented in some respects as an intersectional foil for Niccolo, and as a righteous scolding for people who hold colour, sex and birth to be more important than merit, an ongoing maternally cozy series of slaps in the series.

Francis gets up and looks back as little as possible when Salamanca dies – although his death is recalled to his mind more than once over the remainder of the series; Niccolo folds in half when Umar dies and part of the complexity of his grief is that there is now hardly anybody on this earth he can share the full extent of his intellectual being with. That the news is given him – as he is climbing the stairs to bang Gelis after !finally! marrying her – by that fucking slick nonentity Tommaso Portinari (I’m not actually consulting the books right now, so any o’ you Dunnetteers who know better will forgive me should I err in personnel) is arsenic sprinkled on the icing of commerce.

The whole point of the trip was to get gold.

To strip Africa of riches. To trick and sneak and kill and lie. To pretend to abide by customs that are not theirs; to ignore the reach of Catholicism when it suits them; to deal with their competitors with deadly contempt; to fuck local women (access pass granted by the local leader, offering up only so many of the wives are already pregnant and feel like it, which is a nice touch you must admit, given the complexities of the situation). The description of the evening which is whoo hoo enlivened with aphrodisiac drugs (since Dunnett somehow felt obliged to write this scene – which easily could have been left out, srsly – and could not escape her own take/cultural envelope on the distortions of racism and the sexualization of African women, but worked through her unease by making all the sex cheerfully consensual in a non-judgemental pocket universe, a fanfic maneuvre if I ever fucking saw one) skirts prurience by one curly hair.

And to escape through the Sahara!: you have to admit that the final ride with Umar, under circumstances of extreme personal peril –  to the extent that they set fire to the camels to get them moving again – is a quietly terrifying one especially if you’re like me and really fucking hate sand in the bits. Such is Dunnett’s imperturbable description that I only now, reading this compression of the scene back to myself, get a sense of how desperate things were, and I’ve re-read that scene a dozen times at least since the book came out in 1991.

You want me to get to the point, but I’m falling inward to a black hole. The course is set, but it is not direct, and I’ma hit shit first.

There’s no hint in any of the Dunnett canon that Umar and Niccolo had sex. They get twitted about it by a number of people ’cause they’re of a size and equally smart and attractive, although Niccolo is the deadlier of the two, so who wouldn’t make fanfic outta that in 1470 ish.

Okay, slip slide over here while I decorticate my mostest problematic fandom. Grease your feet on a little mutton stew (call back to the lamb donair – you didn’t think I’d pass up on that didja now seriously) while we move into the Mostly Completely Fucked Up Destiel Fandom Antechamber.

Supernatural is a long running (13 seasons this fall) CW show starring Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as brothers who hunt and kill supernatural critters, and save the world multiple times, and die, blah blah blah. A long time guest star is Misha Collins, whose been in about half of the episodes aired so far.

 

Anyway, there is a special quality to the interactions between Dean (Jensen) and Castiel (Misha) which made the fans, mostly tubby emotionally flexible women like me, smell blood and think ‘this is a sexual relationship’. And it wasn’t. There isn’t anything in 9 long years of canon to indicate there’s any sex. There’s been enough queer-baiting – when the writers and directors of a show dangle the possibility of a queer relationship in front of us until we’re as savage as underfed dogs – to last through ten other shows.

But there’s no sexual relationship beyond the ‘comrades-in-arms fighting eeeevil’. Right.

So the fans said okay fine we’ll make our own. There’s about five million words, no fewer, set in this particular subcategory of this fandom on AO3 (quite of few of them, alas, are mine) and a metric crapstack on LJ and various fan and fanfic sites. Many of the tropes in the stories are directly from the shows – there’s a shared universe of sacred objects, people and locations which all weave in and out of each other in novel and improbable ways.

I thought it was okay. I had fun with it. Learned a lot about buttsex. And a lot of it is sexist bullshit.

This culture pisses on male friendship from a great height. Middle aged men, especially ones who’ve ended up single due to death or divorce, are the loneliest people there are. Any softness or compassion men show each other is stomped on by women AND men as being inappropriate behaviour.

So it’s not the slash fic I’ve written 200K words of since New Years’ that’s got me upset; it’s that I didn’t realize that the base line assumption of this particular slash fic (there’s slash fixed in canon on other shows/books, so it ain’t all bad) was ultimately a slap in the face to men who would like to pursue intimate and emotionally satisfying friendships (like women do, glory be) with OTHER MEN.

There’s no reason for it to be sexual. If the show goes there I’ll dance like a fool for joy. If it doesn’t, I’ll take my epiphany and quit trying to make Harlequin Romances out of the eyefuckery of straight actors.