beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I also dreamed that I was the Radiant, who is the Mercy of God the way that the Spectre is the Wrath of god.
Which got complicated.
Like, it's not just being nice, or being kind, it's omnipotence if you're delivering mercy, which is a teensy bit more kick arse.
I remember pointing out the whole mercy killing concept but realising I was too human to do that with the relevant frame of mind.
Also there was one guy I just grabbed and edited his memories until he'd stop with the killings and then showed him what he'd be like if I left him that way and offered him a choice. ... because free will is god given so god's agents have to be really and sincerely careful of it.

It's kind of interesting tying to figure how you'd cope with omnipotence as long as you're omnibenevolent, and allow free will. I mean, if you put free will top of the over rides you can't impose anything and have to make deals for all of it. You could only even help if you were asked.

... which weirdly doesn't sound like agents of god...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've been watching Continuum and Doctor Who, and reading about Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, so I've been thinking about time travel morality.

And it absolutely depends on the physics of time travel, in ways that seem sincerely difficult to determine for certain sure.

It's always about free will and self determination vs assorted definitions of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Read more... )

That's a very long way to say it
if a story does not give us the rules of time travel, we can't tell if the consequences of a travellers actions are good or bad, and we can't evaluate them in a time travel context.

If the rules aren't consistent it gets worse.

And seeing as we don't have time travel or any ability to know what happens elsewhere in the multiverse, we're pretty likely to evaluate actions in a simple way, where saving people is a good thing.

Even if it overrides their choices.

Or might butterfly all of history so whole family trees don't get born.

We can't know all that, we can't even call it a short term long term problem, so we're just going to sit there and sulk that someone could be saved so they should have.

My favourite thing that Legends failed to do? The approach I'd take with that crew? Play as much as you can in the gap between history and happened. Treat all of time as a heist where you have to avoid the cameras. Steal people out from under. Crew a ship with ghosts, whose only impact on the timeline thereafter has to be just as secret as their rescue. Steal the Acheron and make the name mean something.

Then you consider changing history to be a risk, but changing time to be a challenge.

But there's also the time traveller's dilemma, Reverse Flash edition: history says you did it. Do you change things and risk a paradox, do you fight fate and find out the hard way how it herds you, or do you consider the record to be sufficient reason to go ahead and do it? Read more... )

Time travel stories at the simplest ask: Even if we could know for absolutely certain what the consequences of our actions are, do the ends justify the means?

But time travel stories are not on the whole that simple.

So they pit free will against fate and choice against survival maths and generally get messy enough you can't tell if they've done good, and neither can they.

... putting them right back in the fog we linears have to live in anyways.

I get hung up on what we could go back and change, and should probably take a holiday from time machine stories to practice the here now a bit.

But they do allow explorations of possibilities not much available elsewise.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I watch time travel shows. From my first and longest fandom, Doctor Who, up to the latest I may be falling out with, Legends of Tomorrow, I have watched a whole bunch of time travel shows. And a thing that bothers me is that somewhere in their decisions about the physics they make a whole lot of ethical decisions, often without meaning to, and the ethics of time travel is then held up as an entirely distinct thing from everyday ethics.

Time travel is the ultimate in the ends justifying the means.

Someone who knows The Future from a particular point, someone who knows who lives and dies, who by the conceit of this fiction is absolutely sure of the outcome because they've walked around in it, has two distinct categories of choice ahead of them.

Compliance and defiance.

They can either go along with what is, or say fuck it and try for what should be.

Read more... )

I'm with Terry Pratchett and Sam Vimes on this one. You do the job that's in front of you. Doesn't matter if you time travelled to get there, you save lives and stop bad guys.

But that leaves a writer in a shared universe an insoluble problem where they'd logically be changing history out from under their peers every single week. Or, of course, the choice to make good endlessly futile, and hope someone still wants to watch that.

And it leaves someone who can deliberately chose their destination in time with an infinite task, somehow choosing the best of all possible worlds, attempting to build heaven right here.

Heaven, or the afterlife and souls and so forth, is the other ignored and entirely writer dependent variable here. Read more... )

It's tempting to solve it by keeping theology out of one's science fiction, but DC very clearly does not do so. I mean they're using the Spear of Destiny, they're being religious, but I haven't seen it to know if they're doing so with clear theological underpinnings.

But a theological lens brings one set of consequences into sharp focus. It doesn't just matter who lives and how long, but how, right down to the details of their state of mind. And granted, many people are not religious, but if this whole being alive thing matters, if this thinking thing matters beyond its survival utility, if we are the universe seeking to understand itself? I choose to believe every last drop of understanding matters. Every last thought.

So a time traveller changing someone's understanding is also huge.

Read more... )

The time travel shows I stick with are the ones that choose life and freedom, the ones where you can make a difference, and the writers actually let it be a good difference when you do a good thing. Sure it can take you on a dance through consequences, but if the story tries to argue for choosing death and compliance with destiny, it loses me. We have to look at the world as it is right now in front of us and choose the best thing we can think of. We can't know the consequences, so we do the best we can with ethical rules we have, the ones that say free will and the time to use it are what really matters in life.

Yes that leaves time travellers in a never ending battle, but how does that differ from your average superhero?

So I want the show where the heroes are shown the book of destiny and say

There's always a way out
There are no strings on me.

And then somehow when they act out of kindness and love and protect others, they work their way through the consequences to a better world.

Because the other thing, the one that says you've got to give up and let it happen?
A tragic hero gets ground down when they stand in the way of fate, but we don't have to only write tragedies.

A hero defies destiny to make things better.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
There was a thing at Redemption in part about how Immortality might not in fact be a good thing. Which always pisses me off. But it's that Highlander Claudia Jardine thing where she says she can only feel the music if she fears death, plus the idea that we need that ultimate deadline to make us ever finish something.

And, no? I mean I've heard the poetry teacher say that everything is eventually about sex or death, but it was bollocks then too. Humans have feelings for a wide variety of reasons? Humans have feelings about cupcakes and quesadillas and beer. I'm reasonably sure there's some really ancient poetry about beer.

And as for needing the deadline or we'll fiddle with it forever... look, my WIP folder is a graveyard of yesterday's dreams, but what twenty, possibly thirty years of such things has taught me is: you can only write *that* story today. The one in your head right now, the one with the vivid mature characters who act just like real humans as you recognise them right now? You can write that today. Because in five, ten, fifteen years you'll look back on it and wonder what you were thinking. You'll have moved on. Your understanding will have moved on. Your tastes will have moved on. I mean I've always been more of a Giles or Methos fan, but I couldn't from here write a Xander or Richie as sexy if I'd only just met them. I could remember how they used to look to me, but new people that age are just... young. And that's the tiniest part of it. And it isn't - it is not - simply that you understand better now. Every generation complains olds don't remember being youngs, and they've got a bit of truth in that. Every generation was only young in their own context too. We can remember, we can imagine, but there's always stuff we just won't know from here, and did then.

So that story in your head? Write it today. It'll be a whole different story tomorrow, as a different person writes it.

... and if I took my own advice more often the story graveyard would be a bit less tragic, obviously.

But the other thing is sex. Or intercourse, shall we say. Story is one fraction of the ways humans connect and are in conversation with each other. People still make art in reaction to the art of thousands of years ago, but it's different art than it would have been last century, because that conversation has moved on. The deadline isn't just people getting dead, it's story getting born. How many times have we raced to publish before the next episode jossed us? How many stories get irrelevant a season or two along? How many dead fandoms would not be waiting for your input any more, so the story just never gets told? We might write for ourselves, but we publish to connect, converse, communicate. We're not just making words, we're making communities.

So the kind of person who would take forever seeking perfection, they exist, because there's seven billion people and there's always one of anyone. But they've got to be outnumbered by the prolifically creative, the exuberant profusion, the back and forth. Even just the people who'll throw a hundred pots looking for the good one, instead of fiddling around with their first. And we can teach people to be that, even against their anxious inclination, just by encouragement and feedback.

I've seen people say they write like death's on their tail, because it has been trying to eat them all their lives. And they write beautiful and brilliant things, and maybe that makes that kind of fear look useful. But I've seen more cut off in the middle of things, or writing despite the deadly grind, writing as they can between hospital visits until you hear the worst and realise that WIP will never update again.

So don't tell me about the benefits of mortality. It might feel more cosy to think we wouldn't want the impossible things anyway, but I'd rather think big. Want. Dream. Write as if we'll all be here to feedback for a thousand years. Because it's not the thought of death that keeps us going, it's the thought of all the dreams we could be having, and sharing with all these people around here.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've had a series of dreams lately about Lindsey McDonald and Eliot Spencer.
Because my subconscious is well trained.

But they turn into weird little meditations on the nature of identity and attraction, which isn't exactly where I was hoping they'd go.

Read more... )

And now I kind of want to write this story, where Lindsey gets called back in Eliot's body to rescue his secret probably teenage by now offspring from the clutches of Wolfram and Hart. That could go through so many excellent twists.

But my dreams were less excellent and mostly kind of puzzled and thwarted?
Because the last one was like, okay, so, L or El is in love with you, excellent, and now you're sharing your interests and what you do to relax... aaaaand they're just, like, not? it? Like, they're very nearly the things I like, but just sideways of them. If they were completely not my thing it would be simples, parallel, he'd do his hobbies and watch his films and I'd read my books and wait for my turn with the TV. And if we liked exactly the same things then big win. But instead it was like the uncanny valley of shared interests. Things that I know well enough to know why I don't quite like them, or things I liked when I was younger that I grew away from and now make me feel kind of squirmy embarrassed, or things where I haven't watched them yet but I just don't get why he is.

So then that was a whole heaping dose of 'do I really like this person or just the outsides with what I was making up and projecting on them'. And, duh, they're characters I write from very cherrypicked canon, I am clearly making up the guy I like. But if the canon guy was exactly the same and he just like, say, Sailor Moon, would he still be the guy I thought I liked?

So that was weirdly uncomfortable and full of self examination.

And probably the short explanation of why I've never got around to dating. Like, nobody agrees with me perfectly enough. But I don't want to be that person, that person sounds ridiculous.


Lots of dreams of my current favourite pretty, and yet, the upshot is feeling philosophical and kind of foolish.



Jun. 10th, 2016 11:29 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know how sometimes you just wake up grumpy?
Today I woke up grumpy about necromancy always being considered automatically evil
when death spells of other colleges aren't.

Read more... )

And yet 'charm' spells are 'good', and animating meat is evil?

They have their priorities so very backwards.

Of course they also have unhelpfully fuzzy definitions of good, evil, order and chaos, that don't match the working definitions in other books.

I was also thinking about how our definitions of evil are heavily shaped by our reproductive strategy. Mostly I think this when trying to figure out goa'uld, but, we have one child at a time and look after them intensively and for a long time, and we call that Good. But the goa'uld have thousands of spawn. If they picked one to look after for a long time then how would that be more Good? What is Good to a species with the exact opposite reproductive strategy? Probably something about the greatest good for the greatest number, personal is not the same as important, changing the whole feeding ground for the better rather than individually nurturing. Needs thinking through.

Or, possibly, I could find something useful and productive to do with my day.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was reading an always-angels wingfic the other day and it had one half of the OTP as heaven's good soldier and the other as the fallen, probably demon, rebel dude. And I thought that the characterisation was pushed too far, flattened them out, but I was rolling with it... until the good soldier gets back to 'heaven', and the council that gives him his orders? Is made up of canon bad guys.

At that point, subtlety was gone, and the whole thing stopped even making sense. They'd mixed the alignments and motives of 'heaven' so badly there were capitalist get rich quick scheme guys in charge of the hosts. What does rich even mean when everyone can manifest anything? So then the bad guys made no sense and the story fell apart.

If you want to write about rebellion against heaven, if you want to write the triumph of team free will, then yaayness, go for it, this is a solid place to start. But you've got to see clear what the conflict is.

One of the martial arts films I saw, I think it's Iron Monkey? It had three sides in conflict. It was very very clearly a conflict between Lawful Good, Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil. Read more... ) Rampant capitalists are probably Lawful Evil.

Tony Stark is arguably Lawful Evil, before the cave. You can write him as doing it all for the good of the company ie his employees and shareholders, thinking of others first. That's valid too. But you can also write it as complete self centered playboy narcissism, and canon fits fine. That's Lawful Evil. He's getting his, and the getting is good, so why worry about anyone else?

Read more... )

So Steve as heaven's soldier, a Good man in a Lawful Good organisation, meeting a fallen Chaotic Good Tony Stark and, well, falling for him, or leading heaven's hosts in rebellion in the cause of Good against Law, that all works great. They'll match on the alignment that means everything to Steve.

But finding out heaven is secretly evil? That's oversimplifying the matter. That requires everyone to be stupid for a really long time.

Read more... )

If you're going to use the heaven vs hell trope set, then heaven is every good thing anyone could ever want, or at least can plausibly sell itself as that. Heaven's angels know unquestionably that they are the good guys, they get what they deserve, and that what they want is the Father's will. If you're going to just drop secretly selfish angels into that, it gets difficult to sell, because what even is it they have left to want? Secretly judgey angels who want all that good stuff for themselves and don't think humans deserve it, sure. Angels who can't even have the good stuff because humans are the only ones that get rewards, great, they can work that problem. Angels fed up with singing the praises of the dude that made them, maybe want their own songs, fine. But it takes a little work, because the source trope is angels and heaven are all the good things, so just dropping some bad guy names on them doesn't make first glance sense.

And it's much more interesting to use the whole set up as a way in to questioning what we even mean by Good.


Jun. 6th, 2013 12:20 pm
beccaelizabeth: Chaos star with blinking black sphere center.  Like a cursor blinks. (chaos star blip)
There's a thing, Are fictional people not real?
They reckon of course fictional people are real, "These fictional people are real because we all recognize them when we see them, and we make them even more real by constructing them and reconstructing them again and again, through reading and writing and talking about them, and then reading and writing and talking about them again, in an ongoing process."

Because I am a crazy person I sometimes freak out about real, and how many people do not appear to be it.
Like, am I real? Is there a minimum threshold of interactions that would keep me real? Can I stop being real while being physically alive?
(And I'm listening to Neverwhere at the moment, so I know it's not just me who wonders this. Writers are a special kind of crazy that has more real-to-them people inside than is generally recommended.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by extras. Read more... ) Everyone has different story-of-you in their head, and it does not match the story-of-you you have in your own head, which if psychology has much of a clue probably doesn't match actual physical you that has done things on account of both Subconscious and Memory, plus Language and Discourse and Ideology and all the human things.

Even to ourselves, we are only the story of ourselves, retold and retold until we're fanfic of our own lives.

And despite our best efforts, that is true about every other person in our lives too. Even if we had watched all the moments of their life, the person we have in our head is a story-of-them that is not going to match their inside story or be an actual tape recording of what they did. And we can only infer who they are from what they did anyway.

It's all stories! Stories all the way down!

Read more... )

But the other way to cope with things, the one that does not involve freaking out, involves celebrating the stories. Stories are how we set about being people. Sandman and Hogfather and Doctor Who.

"We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?"

But the secret is, it's not just in the end, it is when you get down to it all the middle too.

And that's why it's awesome that we, plural, discuss the stories. We write them and rewrite them and bounce them around and crit and meta and just collaboratively make stuff up until we've made worlds. And if the worlds aren't so much good or fun or right yet, we keep going until we get a better one.

Which is pretty cool, really.

Read more... )

Poisonous stories that don't leave room for all the people that actually exist to be people, they very badly need revising. Especially if they're being peddled by politicians. Especially if they don't leave room to continue to be.

People are not just stories, they have physical constraints too, but the stories do so much to the physical world they're really pretty key. Or ugly key.

And this isn't just true of political fictions like the dole skiver or the housing benefit mansion. Those are built in mind worlds patched together from plausibilities drawn from deliberate fictions too. Each particular story may be a tiny drop, but added together over a lifetime it's a waterfall, and reshapes the world around it.

So stories are real, because we make them real, we construct them by reading and writing and talking about them, and they shape how we act and react.

The thing where most people don't consciously think about or notice this stuff, and think there is only one real and true and facts and the world is just exactly as they experienced it and no other way, that would be the other bit that makes me worry worry.

... zombie shuffling forward in a story they don't even know they're writing...

... *blanket* ...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, while finding myself browing religious clothing for the bazillionth time, to go with my collection of pictures of chalices and fonts (of the sort that go in churches, though I collected the sort that go in word processing for ages too), and altars and wall hangings, and church doors and windows, and and and and stuff, I realised, mostly, in fandom, when we dress ourselves up and put ourselves in the story, we do not do so in the capacity of Reverend.

Seriously, self, what up with that?

Read more... )

I think I need to watch different stories. Deciding evil needs to go boom and maybe scream a lot just doesn't seem quite right any more.

So in my head I invent churches.

Maybe it would be of more practical use to go to churches, and do learning, and maybe find out how to be helpful.

At the very least I could then put it in a script.

Just as soon as I figure out how to make it interesting.

I mean they're interesting to me, I spend ages rewriting universes so they (a) fit together and (b) turn into alliances based on everyone being terribly nice to each other, but based on how many stories go out of their way to make sure nobody really communicates and everybody has the emotional stability of the average teenager I suspect that a story based on people coming together and negotiating in good faith would have an aesthetic the world is not quite on board with.

Negotiation can be sexy. The internet has checklists and stuff.

Possibly not so much when it's negotiating for grain shipments though, even if the same principles apply.

I like my intergalactic empire though. One of me does politics with the General and defends the Earth a lot, one of me does politics in the House of Lords and gets to tell everyone off a lot and have tea with the Queen even if I would vote to get rid of her, one of me gets Lord Ba'al to play nice (partly because of my excellent persuasion and partly because of the bit of the story I'm embarrassed about where it's always about the right princess turning the bad guy good), one of me goes to Atlantis as a Reverend and gets cloned again to be a journalist too, and we do time travel and organise everything neatly and make many different colonies that all function brilliantly and trade with each other and get along great.

... I used to just daydream pretty cottages, but a lifetime of chronic insomnia dreams a little bigger.

But I spend most of my daydream time on stuff I wouldn't even vaguely try and put in books.
It's sort of puzzling.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It took me half an hour to get out of bed this morning. I don't have half an hour, it's a college day. that half hour just ate my first catch the bus point. and now I feel sick enough I can't get around to eating. I tried eating a small square of chocolate cake to kick start but now I feel sicker and vaguely off chocolate. but I'm up and dressed and packed apart from the food so that part is working.

My life is all push and no pull. Nothing I particularly want to do, just a bunch of stuff I'm avoiding.

Avoidy thoughts this morning were compare/contrasting two Rodney/John get stuck in VR fics. in one they do beautiful math together, in the other they surf and write VR. in one they know they're in there, in the other only Rodney knows. The math one is kind of awesome, the other one is the kind of hell that's disguised itself as a heaven. Read more... )

See, all Dire Consequences if I Don't, no good consequences if I do.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Am reading a post where part of it is an argument about reason, the capacity to question and doubt and wonder and think things up. Most people consider this A Good Thing. But someone in a comment says that xtians say it's A Good Thing because it eventually leads you to the Truth, singular, single, only, there can be only one. And once you have the Truth, you no longer need reason. You can, in fact, stop thinking. Because you have thought all the thought you ever need.

I find this concurrently abhorrent and logical. It's disturbing.

Read more... )

I wouldn't want to stop thinking. I might stop asking the question 'how can I help?'
or 'how is this person wonderful?'
and those are things I'd want to notice.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know every now and then I take a moment to realise what a bad name for a series that is. Next Generation? Way to not stand alone there.

The title is so the smallest part of many kinds of bad here.

This is the 'don't do drugs, kids!' episode. There's even a little speech with Tasha being very earnest to Wesley. It's made of *facepalm*.

And it skips over some really very important points. Read more... )

Mostly though this one reminds me how deeply annoying the Prime Directive is. And how I'm never quite sure if Star Trek means it to be. It seems like the story comes down on the side of calling this a job well done, act by the prime directive and it will all work out. But that's bollocks. They're leaving people to suffer and maybe die, and they're doing it because they've decided they're less developed. *shudders*
Read more... )

The Doctor has more reason for non interference. Paradox avoidance. But he totally ignores it and tries to help people, because he can and he cares, so that's the right thing to do. He helps them to not kill each other mostly, and not get killed, and do things they already were trying to do. Also to notice when they're being ignorant arseholes and dumping on people. At least when Doctor+writer is not distracted by big pit monsters. So the Doctor is win and the Federation is a bunch of stupid heads, basically.

... I is grown up, see my rhetorical elegance...

I think it was the Babylon 5 spin off where their response to an isolated paranoid pre contact species was to drop off an encyclopedia for everyone. That makes sense. Know more, understand more, works better.

Ignorance is poison, basically.

This is not me arguing for telling people how to build big big bombs. Ignorance is countered by wisdom, which to my mind involves understanding the exact scale of the destruction of big big bombs, and compassion, which would involve understanding the harm in blowing up each and any and all of them people under the big big bomb. When that kind of learning is understood the ignorance and hate that would want to learn the big bomb building would be fixed, no more poison. So requests for tech specs can usefully be answered with explaining more about the people they want to use the tech on. Probably. Understanding people > understanding things.

... I'm sadly not very good at understanding people. Bit of a problem really.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
omniscience would mean knowing all about it whenever anyone anywhere has the dire rear.

... suddenly it's a much less appealing power...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know, I tried to go to sleep, then there was some thumping and swearing I paid no never mind to, because, usual, but then there were police type noises and I had to get up and check, and yes, indeed, one my neighbours called police again for cause (I think to do with a door? They were being quiet and discreet but you can hear everything around here.) And now I'm not sleepy. So.

I was thinking about the ethics of owning souls. Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
You know when you feel like you've realised something really cool and everything is brighter and shinier? And then, possibly about 0.5 seconds later, you realise you've realised something really obvious, and have that whole grappling with your rapidly sinking self image? So. I had one of those thoughts. But it is actually helpful so I'll write it down:

That thing where people juggle problems: that means you don't got to lift the whole problem up at once. The problem goes up, you just take a little at a time and keep going that way. And it's the same thing with trying to build the roof first... sort of... I mean if you can't figure out how to start something or how to make it because everything needs made at once, if you break it down right and start with little bits you don't have to make it stay up by like throwing it and making it hover, you can make it all be up by taking small pieces and doing something complicated continuously.

Which would make a really awkward roof. I don't know how you'd keep any rain out. But the roof thing is how I usually say about trying to get to the goal without the intervening steps, so this is how, make things go up, and keep on making them.

Which is also why walls are better because you get to, you know, sleep... I haven't done much of that lately or I think this whole thing would make more sense...

So anyway, I've been having like big philosophical problems, like how can this be true if that isn't true, and how can that be if this isn't, and it's like everything is resting on everything else and cannot exist in conventional geometry as I understand it. But if it's juggling, it can. Just in sequence. A bit at a time.

Or possibly it's planets and everything does rest on everything else at once but my head can't quite get around that and has spent enough of today hurting.

It could also be a bit like those optical illusions where the bird and the ... I don't want a bird cage for this one... the bird and the bird seed are on different sides of the card but if you spin it fast enough it looks like the bird gets the seed. That's a pretty good one, but, illusion. In juggling eveerything is up in the air. You just have to keep giving it carefully timed and directional pushes.


Okay, so I should go sleep very soon.

The point is, for a moment, I just had this grand feeling of the universe as being composed of continuously rearranged small achievable steps. Which is true. So I should probably try and keep hold o that.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
There's this idea that comes up in Lit fairly often that there are 'universal experiences' - things about being human that are common to everyone.

It's a bit of a problematic idea from where I'm standing. Like there's only one way to be human.

It's like saying death is universal... okay, maybe, but one's relationship to death is very personal. Always different.

And if it is not one's own death (which do make it somewhat easier to write about) then there's another layer of different, the relationship with the person that died.

Even if it's a specific category, like "death of a parent", how many different ways are there to relate to a parent? There's a spectrum running from best friend to worst enemy, closest part of your life to vaguest acquaintance. Some people never meet their parents, have other caregivers that aren't in quite the same roles. Some people have bad people they have to live with instead of the idea of a caregiver at all. And some people get the cereal box family, two parents that love them exactly like the stories say they should.

So how are reactions ever supposed to be universal? To life or death?

Sometimes it leaves me feeling like an inadequate human being, that I don't have reactions just like all the big stories.

Then I get annoyed that the big stories are inadequate, because here's this human being who hasn't read the one about her yet. Maybe need to write it then.

Mostly though I notice it when I'd like to be helpful but all I can think of is the person they lost was all different than the person I lost and I'm not sure anything translates.

This is one reason I like fanfic as a way of talking about stuff. We know some about Buffy's mom and Buffy's relationship to her. We can talk about that specific relationship and the feelings wrapped up in that and the loss and all. And then we have a common experience to start with.

Except for the thing where it's not technically real, it's very helpful for translation.

But the except for is pretty big.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've started re-reading the Vorkosigan books. So far I've read Cordelia's Honour, The Warrior's Apprentice, and the first story in Borders of Infinity.

I've also been watching DS9, with all those stories about Jake deciding to be a writer. That kind of story rarely works for me, writers writing about how important it is to be a writer, it's a bit tail eating. Yet I can look back at a bunch of stories and pick out specific ways they helped make my life. And I can look at characters like Sarah Jane or Lois Lane (hey, rhyme!) and how cool it is they have adventures and write about them and that seems important too.

I've also been thinking about what to do with my life. Because often it feels like I haven't done *anything*. Except there were a bunch of years in there, and actually quite a long accumulation of education, and I'd never look at someone else doing all this and say they hadn't done anything so that's just the little voice at the back of my head again, the one that sounds like Dad when he looked at my GCSE results ("You got a B?")


There's keywords. Duty, Honour, Service. And while it is immediately obvious how a military career can fulfill those, and with a bit of thought obvious how an assortment of religious callings fit, the whole thing I'm doing right now with studying Lit and not-actually-writing is... not so very clear.
Read more... )

Basically: Useful and valuable = stories, as well as a bunch of other things.
If I can write stories that is useful and valuable.
And figuring out how and why they are useful and valuable is pretty nifty too.

... on around four in the morning these things do not seem so very obvious to me. So I write them down with Logic. Maybe later I can write them down with Feeling and make a story of it too.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I had a thought about the idea that there is any universal human experience. There was some stuff I read about how the knowledge of the inevitability of death is the only thing we all share. And, okay, yes... but no.

I read once that there are two egyptian hieroglyphs for time, one linear and one cyclical.
No I don't know if that's true. I'm going to ignore that and use it as a lead in for Big Thinking. Shhh.

Everyone who lives on a planetary surface for more than a year experiences both linear and cyclical time (though it's more noticeable some places than others and can be short circuited a bit by travel)(and the caveats on that are one of the reasons I don't think quickly, because I get in those kinds of tangles trying to clarify). Things happen all in row, generally speaking, but there's also the yearly cycles going on.

One's experience of the idea of mortality, that whole 'inevitability' of death thing, will vary radically depending on if you think more in terms of linear or cyclical time.

If things happen all in a row then death is The End, capital letters, big deal, no second chances, all done.
If things happen around in circles it's basically just another winter.

Different people have different degrees of emphasis on each idea. It can line up with religion, but it's also very individual.

So basically? Yeah, everyone dies. But the idea of death varies so much between people I don't reckon calling it universal is any help at all.

IDIC. Big universe. Don't even know if physics stays the same one end to the other of it, let alone ideas.

... that was probably bigger thinking in my head. and I'm not asleep. I'll post it and come back in the morning and *facepalm* then.

Hate hate?

Mar. 2nd, 2007 11:27 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been thinking about hate, and why it is a bad thing.
Someone this afternoon suggested it could sometimes be a good thing, like if you hate slavery, and I kind of flailed a bit and went 'no, because... *completely different thing here*'. Because it seemed obvious, so I hadn't thought about it.

So my now thought is that not-thinking is a large part of why hate is of the bad.

Like it leads to a kind of blindness. Like the thing that is hated is just... no longer examined, because there's this category that is Bad now and the only reaction is Hate.

And hate is sort of hungry, like it wants to get bigger? Like... the idea of collaborators, or if you're not with us you're against us? Because there's this thing that is Bad, and if you don't see it that way that makes you Bad too. Because Hate is very very sure of itself and not looking at alternatives any more.

And then there's that thing, that little leap that isn't little at all, between hating an idea or an action, and hating the person that holds that idea or does that action. Difference between hating slavery and hating slavers. Getting rid of slavery sounds of the good, but getting rid of all the people that have slaves not so much.

And hating people is not even hating the 4D continuing person, because it isn't seeing evidence and change and stuff, because hate mostly sees hate. Like, hate has this set idea about the hated, and that's the only thing it sees, not anything outside of hate.

So hate is blind, and therefore of the bad.

I think.

Ignorance as the bad that makes all the other bads; makes sense to me.

I don't think hate is a kind of energy that lets a person aim it and use it to get things done. It seems to me more that hate is a kind of energy that aims people and gets them to do things. Except for the part where people are the ones making the hate because at the minute I'm not thinking of a universe of disembodied forces.
Feedback loop?
Difficult to get out of sort, where more hate means thinking more hate is appropriate.

I am still thinking about this one. I've thought plenty about Lust but not Hate. Probably says something about me.

Also I thought a lot about Pride.
And how there's a sort of thing that is opposite of Pride in a lot of ways but also does damage - like that thing where Willow didn't seem to think she could mess anyone up seriously because she was Willow, rather than noticing that actually people were getting seriously messed up therefore she was powerful. Like underestimates are dangerous too?
There's probably already a word for that but I'm still poking the thought into shape.

Sometimes I want to just go study philosophy properly, because people have been having these thoughts and arguing about them for the longest time.

Except Cultural Studies seems to me to be about figuring how thoughts work once they get out into the world, which is a bit like philosophy only on the output side, sort of thing. So studying this bit first or as well seems pretty useful.

But I still feel like I'm reinventing the wheel and having half an argument that everyone probably had already a lot.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
comprehension is cyclic: what you see influences what you know, and what you know influences what you see

is from the Language and Characterisation book I'm reading (laboriously slowly)

I keep wanting to apply the whole thing to Owen and the Large Arguing About 1-01
(Because we're not all seeing the same thing, or bringing the same prior knowledge to it, so of course there's going to be arguing, and about a charged topic it gets to be Large Arguing)

but can also apply to Torchwood 'verse and the basic perception issues mundanes face there.

Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
... and Highlander and Forever Knight and probably every other show I've ever watched:

The concept of One True Love is *damn* depressing.
Read more... )valuing the One seems like a pretty good start. But when they're already dancing with the whole blessed universe?

I don't want to think of them becoming that small.

It is possible to love completely, and yet love more than one.

It is, in fact, desireable. And an ideal of many religions. Though for reasons unknown, some of them leave the sex parts out.

Possibly because it do tend to get a bit complicated having someone be more than 5 places at once.

Doesn't mean it's bad to try.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
There's this idea that "some things we aren't meant to know"
and I glare at the idea, and say "name one"
(and also "meant by who" but that's a whole other)

thing is, I can name one - whatever the code is that makes cybermen. I mean, if we knew it, we'd be zapped by it and then we'd be meat cybermen.

Like there's a short story I read recently, I think in Fragile Things, and there's an alien who is a manifestation of an infectious meme, and if she tells you her poem you'll be her too.

So: item first, things that would make us stop being us and start being something else.

And then I go *aha!* because put like that it actually makes a bit of sense. But then it becomes a question of definition. Which is 'us' and what is 'something else' and why or why not to be it? And who gets to decide? And in what sense are they immune? Because finding out enough to think they shouldn't ought to find out more must mean they find enough to be a bit not-us too.

And then I go *double aha* and tag this entry.

But the thing is - cybermens think they know enough to keep on being cybermen. Same with Daleks, they don't want any new thoughts. So they're not-meant-to-know what emotions are like, for instance, and probably aren't big on poetry, and wouldn't like a machine that allowed them to share empathy with squishy types.

So... it depends if you just value 'being us' or some kind of diversity, a sort of us-plural. Because if you like being plural, and different, and changing, then 'not meant to know' is only that very small set of stuff that will stop you ever changing again. But if it is some more narrow definition, like 'how to be human ala Gwen', there could be a lot more not-meant-to-know.

Not-meant-to-know the future is a bit annoying. Only maybe under the circumstances listed in the time travel RPG where knowing it is fixing it in stone. Otherwise, knowing it is only one possibility among many, is more like having wargamed it or something. New data. Why not?

Also, I was thinking about trust. Because in the past I've had trouble understanding the concept. It seemed to me that it was used to mean that another person would act like the person who said they 'trusted' them. Whereas in fact people act like their own selves all the time, by definition. On account of being them.
Another suggested definition was trust to present themselves accurately, trust to not tell lies and make false image.

But I was thinking lately about Owen, and how I'd actually probably trust him as a medic, just not as a him. I mean, he seems to do his job, and I've no reasonable expectation of not doing based on current evidence. Trust.
But personal stuff? He doesn't just cross the line, he appears to not perceive it.

And then I have another *aha* moment, because - parameters. Lines. Trust means believing they'll play inside acceptable-to-truster parameters. Not *same*, just not crossing into no-go actions.

... and now I feel dumb for not previously having arrived at that definition.

I still maintain it is impossible to know if you can trust someone. On account of it being about the future, which hasn't happened yet.

The trust that is to do with lies you could find out about I guess.

... the parts of life that get me all puzzled are rarely the same parts I find others exhibiting puzzlement about.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Sometimes I worry I get wound up about the wrong things. I can get everso wordy on the subject of the dumbth of the idea of covering up demons and/or aliens for the good of the world.
And really, it isn't exactly likely to come up in day to day life...
... right?

Unlike my human rights for vampires speech, which has *obvious* real world applicability.

Actually, when I wrote that five minutes ago I put an :eyeroll: at the end of the sentence, but then I went to check the news.
News scary. Read more... )

One of Niven's laws:
The only universal message in science fiction: There exist minds that think as well as you do, but differently.

That, right there, is pretty damn important.

And the idea of anyone, individual or organisation, being dedicated to destroying, undermining, or stealing all the data that could back that up with real world proof? Really pisses me off.

... of course since I tend to gravitate to the 'horror' end of things, a lot of stories seem to add on the end of the law "and that's really scary".
Which, you know, bit of a problematic idea right there.

And one of the reasons I most like the teams - Buffy, Stargate, Doctor Who - which have aliens and humans on *both* sides. Because then there's "different but not trying to kill us" as well as "different and dangerous" and the important bit isn't just different.

Torchwood has Jack.
... am wondering how he counts ...


Sep. 5th, 2006 08:54 am
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Had a dream between when the alarm went off and now, and it was full of interesting. With adventures in new religion, and zombies, and the Ghost Flare (or possibly Flayer, which would be even nastier).
Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm currently trying to figure out if things are getting more boring or if I'm just more bored.
Read more... )
So all this reading is just input. Like... I'm getting the reading equivalent of fat, because all eating and never moving.

So logically, to make world less boring, I should do the reading equivalent of getting up and dancing. Which means, should write.

But. Writing remains sort of frustrating. I mean you can write about changing the world, but only very small parts of the world get changed, you know? And there is lots of dumb in the world.

If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do.

But the doing it many times to no effect is... What leads to grand gestures like NFA, I guess.

Women's work, traditionally, needs to be done every day. I'm not very good at that kind of work. No motivation.

This is why I end up with plans like 'win lottery, make movie'. Because big splash of a thing done.

Bet I'd still get sulky about how the world isn't changed though.


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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