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a sense of joy and then a panic
a sense of joy and then a panic
burn the streets, burn the cars, pa-pa-power, pa-pa-power 
05.31.10
leather
Is livejournal's server being crappy for anybody else?

Jonathan McCalmont has a great examination of the video game Dead Space as a "a fiercely left wing game whose narrative constitutes a vicious critique of neoliberalism and the monetarist policies of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys."  Oh yes.  I don't play video games (no money, no time, no hand-eye-coordination), but Dead Space has always interested me because I am a big, big sucker for sci-fi horror set in space (the fact that I didn't like Pandorum should tell you how bad it was).  Anyway, McCalmont says:
However, Dead Space’s reverence for the market does not stop with surreal mercantilism… it also extends to the actual game-play. Indeed, one of the innovations trumpeted by the avalanche of hype that surrounded Dead Space’s release was the way in which shooting monsters is rarely sufficient to kill them. Pump round after round into your average necromorph and he will still keep coming at you. Dead Space does not reward butchery, it rewards surgery. Indeed, the most efficient way to kill necromorphs is to assume the role of the hatchet man and make cuts. A leg here. An arm there. A health service here. Some national oil reserves there. Cut. Cut. Cut.

Dead Space’s suggestion that the necromorphs’ presence is a result of the planet cracking suggests that the human costs of the market must be taken into account and not merely repressed with force. Indeed, the game’s final act sees Isaac Clarke desperately trying to mend fences with the hive mind by returning the marker to the planet.
You know you want to read it.  I always thought the Alien series was doing something similar (on a less sophisticated level), because you know the bad guy isn't really the xenomorph population - as Ripley puts it, "at least they don't fuck each other over for a percentage" - it's the Company

Meanwhile, The Rejectionist (who I usually agree with) explains why she doesn't read "manfiction" anymore.  Alas, according to a couple of her definitions, I write manfiction.  [I actually had to work to write more female characters into The Novel - and I'm glad I wrote them in, yeah, but they're still not major characters because guess what, Junction Rally will never elect a woman as mayor.  Fuckin' ever.  I'm doing the Women Behind The Throne angle, though.] 

I also can't say I'd put Cormac McCarthy in the same category as, say, Updike and Roth in this regard.  Much less make him a high priest of manfiction.  Yeah, he can't write women (he does in Outer Dark.  It turns out... weird, though hardly what I'd call sexist/misogynistic).  Yeah, The Road is a big father-son epic.  But the family that survives at the end of The Road, the one that is both good and has a chance of making it, has a mother, and a daughter.  I think McCarthy knows his limits, and for better or for worse, those are his limits.  It's hardly the same as giving the aging author-stand-in a slew of stupid buxom blondes to have sex with.  Then of course we have all the comments saying they're only going to read female authors from now on and I'm like argh.

Then of course one commenter's like "this is why I never got into The Stranger," presumably referring to Camus' story.  And I'm like, arrrrrgh, because The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus kind of changed my life (for the better).
Comments 
05.31.10 (UTC)
It's funny that neither Junky nor On the Road contain most of the listed attributes for "manfiction."
05.31.10 (UTC)
I have a feeling the definition of "manfiction" is one of those things that changes to accommodate whatever unread book is currently being slammed.
05.31.10 (UTC)
I made a post on the subject.
05.31.10 (UTC)
Yeah, LJ's service is being crappy for me, too; it takes hitting refresh twice to get a page to load.

I'm not sure I can bear to read The Rejectionist's piece, but maybe I'll make myself. Then I'll go read nihilistic_kid's post.

06.01.10 (UTC)
Oh good, I'm glad it's not just me (LJ).
06.01.10 (UTC)
As a girl who never tried to hang out with the guys and be more cool than the other girls (and never tried to be as cool as the other girls, for that matter), I was out of sympathy with the Rejectionist's post from the start.

... as for the rest, well, I think I prefer to judge novels on a case-by-case basis. I can imagine that it would be possible for me to like, for one reason or another, novels that feature any number of no-nos or dreadful things (and I'm not even saying that ironically), and on the other hand, something could be shining with right-think and be something I loathed (and, in fact, the more that I have a sense that something is written out of a desire to embody some kind of right-think or other, the more likely I am to have reservations... but it's possible for me to like even a right-think-laden book, so...)
06.01.10 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree on that first sentence of yours. Same with me.

I also agree that it's better to judge novels on a case-by-case basis. I think it's kind of sad to rule out a bunch of novels because you think they fit some dreadful no-no, especially if it's a PC sort of no-no (Apocalypse Now is my favorite movie and there are no female characters in it. It's set in the Vietnam War. Fargo is my 2nd favorite movie and it's MC is a pregnant cop. It's set in a town in North Dakota. Settings differ.). Also agreed on the right-think... see Under The Dome. Hey look, you're in the comments!
06.01.10 (UTC)
LOL, I'm so all over the comments.

06.01.10 (UTC)
mm, existentialism.
06.01.10 (UTC)
I know it's sad that this is my response, but ?
06.01.10 (UTC)
Camus, Albert (1913–60), French novelist, playwright, and essayist; closely aligned with existentialism. Notable works: The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), and The Rebel (1951). Nobel Prize for Literature (1957).
06.01.10 (UTC)
well, wikipedia says this:

"He is often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy that he was associated with during his own lifetime, but Camus himself rejected this particular label.[2] In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: "No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked..."[3]"

"Specifically, his views contributed to the rise of the more current philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay The Rebel that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom."

but as for absurdism, i do not like: http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1612

:)
06.01.10 (UTC)
Ahaha, yeah I remember us talking about how you found The Myth of Sisyphus depressing and I did not...
06.01.10 (UTC)
Oh, ok. I was like, "monsters and space are existentialist???"
06.01.10 (UTC)
also, a song:

I don't want to get over you
I guess I could take a sleeping pill
And sleep at will
And not have to go through what I go through
I guess I should take Prozac, right,
And just smile all night
At somebody new,
Somebody not too bright
But sweet and kind
Who would try to get you off my mind
I could leave this agony behind
Which is just what I'd do
If I wanted to,
But I don't want to get over you

Cause I don't want to get over love
I could listen to my therapist,
Pretend you don't exist
And not have to dream of what I dream of;
I could listen to all my friends
And go out again
And pretend it's enough,
Or I could make a career of being blue
I could dress in black and read Camus,
Smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth
Like I was 17
That would be a scream
But I don't want to get over you
06.01.10 (UTC)
I've only read The Stranger, but I don't really remember it. I think (vague memory) that it was one of those books that sort of seemed obvious. Do you know what I mean? Where you're reading, thinking, either this book is saying something trivially true, or there is more going on here that I'm not getting. Possibly both.
06.01.10 (UTC)
but then, this was in high school
06.01.10 (UTC)
The Stranger grew on me; I like Myth of Sisyphus more. The Stranger actually helped me think about people and the woman whose baby got eaten by a dingo and random things like that. I dunno, Coen Brothers movies sort of did something similar. I would however like to read The Plague.

Also, different books for different folks, yada yada...
06.01.10 (UTC)
well, if i'm not persuaded of the philosophy, I'm probably not going to pursue his novels further. though i could use a refresher, b/c i really don't remember The Stranger.
06.01.10 (UTC)
I should put that differently: if the philosophy or the story is not helping me think about these issues, then i would not want to pursue the novels further. b/c i certainly don't have to 'agree' with him or something.
02.10.11 (UTC)
Having recently re-read The Road, to go with my also-recent viewing of The Road The Film, I have to say that I thought McCarthy's characterization of one woman--the boy's mother--was pretty spot-on. She had that very specific practicality and lack of self-delusion that I've come to see as extremely female, nihilistic as it was. You got the feeling that whatever affection she'd had for the man had worked itself out a long time back; the lingering loyalty she had was towards the boy, but even that was wearing away. Her thesis--"just let me kill him now to avoid all this pain, if you've got the guts...but one way or the other, I'm killing myself, so understand that anything that happens after this is ALL YOUR FAULT"--seemed horrifyingly understandable, to me, and I had huge respect for her that even after she'd discussed all this with her apparently-useless husband, she had the balls to say "okay, then keep your stupid gun, if you think it'll help. Now I'm going outside, and I'm not coming back."
02.10.11 (UTC)
I know that she's pointed out as an example of McCarthy failing at women, but yeah, I don't think so either - although I am curious as to what makes you think her practicality and lack of self-delusion is extremely female? I sort of understand what you mean but I'm not sure I can articulate it. Certainly she doesn't have illusions of grandeur or big ideals, leading to that specific practicality...
02.10.11 (UTC)
There's this sort of Romanticism that the Man has vis a vis the Boy that just seems very, very male to me--like "I am doing BIG THINGS here! Not just saving my son because he's my son, but because he is CARRYING THE FIRE, damnit!" And she fairly rightfully thinks that by holding onto this idea, the most likely outcomes are going to be they all starve to death or they get raped and eaten; one way or the other, they're going to end up dead. Why not seize control of the only thing you can control? To her, hope is not just a luxury, but a stupidity. And yeah, I think I really do see that sort of Let's Face the Hard Fucking Truths Here 'tude as innately female, mainly because women spend their lives rehearsing the really bad choices. We expect to lose, and men are brought up to expect to win. When we're surprised, therefore, it's wonderful. And when they're surprised, it breaks them.
02.10.11 (UTC)
mainly because women spend their lives rehearsing the really bad choices.

That's a great way of putting it. It's interesting because usually I see this manifested in the idea that women are survivors - they can "take" anything (like get turned into Final Girls) - but in this case the situation is so bad that for her, suicide is actually survival.
02.10.11 (UTC)
And oh yeah, the Man and the Boy and the carrying the fire is all totally male, like so many post-apocalyptic-ventures-written-by-men are.
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