Literary Theory

Lazy Writing Part 1

I am not often one who gets my feminist hackles up, since i think mostly that sort of thing reduces mostly to class differences. One thing I am starting to find truly annoying, though, is the Dumb Bitch Who Doesn't Know What's Good For Her archetype. You know what I'm talking about: something is clipping along in a story things are progressing from Point A to Point C via Point B, when out of the blue because the plot is running too fast the writer figures that he needs to complicate things a bit and add a subplot of some kind and he introduces this character. And god is she annoying. Even though it's mindnumbingly clear to the reader, the writer, and every clued in character in the story what it is that this character should do in the situation they are thrust into, she instead does the exact opposite. Because this activity is in fact insane and is only there to complexify an otherwise extremely linear and predictable story, the writer needs to create a reason for her to do this thing. There are a few stock reasons, all of which generally work in service of some sort of neanderthal view of human nature, but by far the most irritating is the general appeal to hysterical femininity. The audience is in effect being asked to accept that this character is behaving in a completely stupid way contrary to what the protagonist needs her to do because he emotions have short-circuited her ability to think clearly and act sanely.

Plot Genre and the Pulp Fiction Boondoggle

Apparently yet again the mainstream critics have gotten it wrong, and not surprisingly it came out of Northeastern literary circles, whose stable of critics includes such dim luminaries as the functionally illiterate Michiko Kakutani and the it-would-be-funny-if-it-weren't-so-tragic-how-completely-wrong-she-always-is-about-everything-she's-supposed-to-be-an-expert-on Helen Vendler, and need I mention N+1?

This latest, as Matt Cheney rightly points out, is an attempt to elevation to "serious literary discourse" the old straw man that's been kicked around in genre fiction and fan fic circles for at least a generation now, namely that genre fiction is somehow superior to literary fiction because it has a plot and literary fiction is just a bunch of navel gazing character study nonsense couched in mandarin language.

Racefail and the SciFi Ghetto: Why It's Really All About High School

As you may or may not be aware, there is a maelstrom brewing under the surface of the internet regarding racism and sexism in the world of Science Fiction. Generally referred to as "RaceFail," the simplest way I can think of to describe it is as sort of a metaflamewar that's been bouncing around the blogosphere for a few years now. It's been going on so long and has involved so many different players that I don't think anyone involved in it really understands the whole thing. To this gigantic clusterfuck of fevered egos, I have decided to add my own small contribution, in part to try to at least sort of map the whole thing, and also to try to talk about what I see as the real underpinnings of the whole controversy and where it comes from. No, it's not Nick Mamatas's fault.

Silliman and the School of Quietude

If Jorie Graham isn't the Headmistress of The School of Quietude, then I don't know that such a school exists as Mr. Silliman constructs it.

In defense of Electricity

What's at issue is Gilcrest's celebration of Paper, the idea that poetry being printed on Paper is a glorious ethical Good that reminds us of the connection between Language and Nature. Note the sarcastic capitalization.