Today I got woke up, twice, by stupid scam phone call of the pay us now or get cut off variety. Rude humans, go do proper things instead.
So I was daydreaming castles, as you do.
A castle is an intentional community with a purpose and shared goal. ( Read more... )
So I like castles because they are a symbol of safety, representing an ideal that can be shared with others in an emergency. But I dislike castles because it's always some berk who thinks they're all that who ends up in charge of them. And then what do you do?
Castles are also not the actual practical safety these days anyway. You'd be better off guaranteeing good access for emergency services and designing things to be accessible and not flammable. Secure nowadays does not look like arrow slits, because arrows are not a current problem, you'd be better off with decent fire exits.
... castles look so cool though.
There's a bit in CJCherryh's books, Cyteen and sequels, where there's a tension between people who want to spread out into the universe and people who want to fort up where they already are. Like, it takes a lot of resources to do either, they both want to allocate that budget to their preferred method.
And people can be politically expansionist, big empty universe, let's send people into it
but then with their friends and family they'll be trying to build that one safe central place.( Read more... )
The tendency to perceive resources as limited and outsiders as Threat is kind of embodied in castles too. That's not my favourite bit. I mean, sure, I'm scared of humans, but sort of generally, whereas many people are scared of them particular humans who are Not Like Us. I'm scared of people who think they're the boss because they have the biggest sharp thing. I'd rather have armour that can ignore the big sharp things. But that isn't really the current problem.
If you think of the European Union as ( Read more... )
But somehow the story still feels like Outsiders Take Our Stuff. Still feels like we need big strong walls to protect it.
... I'm a fan of big strong walls emotionally speaking, I like big stones and a general Keep Out approach to architecture, right up until
I apply it to, you know, politics and actual factual people.
Because I'm reasonably certain that the point
of walls is people. They look after people. Looking after people is the part that needs focusing on.
And I do not, personally, think that people stop being people if they're outside the walls.
... a historically unusual position, in castle times, I fear.
But you look at how much needs doing, all the agriculture work and care work and I don't know what all else, the proportion of the NHS that's from Outside and keeps needing to be, and you look at how many people want to come here and do things we need doing, and just... people. People are excellent even in a strictly usefulness based view. We need people, there are people, it's great.
But also, people need a place to be? That has water? And an ongoing lack of war?
And hey, we have a place.( Read more... )
Castles are so much smaller than cities. I mean you get story cities like Atlantis where there's a theoretical 200 people and you only meet 20 of them, but, I daydream castles partly because I feel like it's a much more manageable scale than the tens of thousands of people I'd have to deal with in a market town, much less the hundreds of thousands in a city. And you can put a lot of smaller scale units together to make those cities, but humans have been moving from the small places to the big ones for a long time now, and for reasons. Castles might not address those reasons.
Like, okay, I've seen a castle that had its own pub. But one pub. What about the other dozen in a market town? What about the other few hundreds in a city? Not everyone wants the same things out of their pub! Scale things down again and you're back to like it or lump it.
... and of course when I'm daydreaming it I can design the perfectly perfect one, but, communities don't stay the same, you'd need to find a community who agrees with you in the first place and then you'd need to maintain it and the adjustment of environment to community and vice versa is a never ending task. So the idea of a centuries old castle that remains Just Right is a silly sort of daydream because what do you do when your kids want to redecorate? Or their wives do? You don't get to choose everyone who moves in, they choose each other. Then what?
I sit down (or curl up) to daydream a castle, because castles are cool, and I end up with all this psychological and political stuff coming up. Castles make me feel safe and like life is basically under control. But whose control? Safe from what?
And then when you're writing stories, so many unexamined assumptions filter through.
I don't want a castle to defend against the goblin hordes for centuries, I want a decent farming system guaranteeing subsistence level food for all my neighbours, the small shouty green ones included. It seems like that would work much better. Universal basic income or big thick walls? Well which one actually addresses the problem? Which one will remove the problem at source?
So now we have very few castles, and they're mostly museums or hotels.
Which, you know, yaaay
But then I go back to daydreaming castles...
Because they seem like a nice safe place to start.
Since it is much easier to make friends and influence people when you are not, yourself, dead.
... actually in a suitable F&SF setting that's not necessarily true. Ooh, support your local necromancer, his food distribution methods are the fairest, since he don't need any himself...