Thursday, October 23, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Sir Terry, who received his well-deserved knighthood for "services to literature" in 2009, is a comedy fantasy author best known for his Discworld series, and has probably been the biggest influence in my life. His books are works of art - brilliantly written, deathly funny, and ridiculously deep. You cannot read his works and avoid thinking, but he packages incredible life-lessons and commentaries on the world in pure, completely hysterical, entertainment.
He's also angry.
Terry looked at me. He said: “Do not underestimate this anger. This anger was the engine that powered Good Omens.” I thought of the driven way that Terry wrote, and of the way that he drove the rest of us with him, and I knew that he was right.
"Susan says don't get afraid, get angry."
“When you're lonely, and people around you seem too stupid for words, and the world is full of secrets that no one'll tell you . . . ”
“Are you reading my mind?”
“Yours?” Granny's attention snapped back, and her voice lost its distant quality. “Hah!"I always knew Granny had a willpower of iron, and Commander Vimes, and Terry Pratchett. I've always known it's their best quality. I've just never fully understood what drives that willpower.
It's the anger.
And something clicks. I'm angry as well.
This is often mentioned as something I should be ashamed of, but the only shame I feel is when I use my anger badly, when I don’t harness it.
"That anger, it seems to me, is about Terry’s underlying sense of what is fair and what is not. It is that sense of fairness that underlies Terry’s work and his writing, and it’s what drove him from school to journalism to the press office of the South Western Electricity Board to the position of being one of the best-loved and bestselling writers in the world."It's ok to be angry. It's natural to be angry. It's good to be angry. The important thing is how you harness and use that anger.
My anger has helped me every step of my life.
Yes, often I haven't used it well, but without my anger, I probably wouldn't be who I am today.
I wouldn't have done any of the things that I'm proud of. I would be this sad and meek little girl, quietly keeping my head down and my nose clean, and seeking approval from people I have no reason to respect or even like.
"Look at how much trouble I'm not causing. Look at how good I am at accepting bullshit. Look at how many waves I'm not making. Please like me."
That doesn't mean I don't think there's anything in the negative stigma surrounding anger. Anger unharnessed can be horribly destructive.
Terry Pratchett taught me how to use fantasy to understand reality. He taught me how stories are used to explain how things really work. And here, I realize, is an analogy:
Anger is magic.
In most fantasy, intelligence and willpower are the two attributes that are the most important for magic. Magic is the ability to create, and to change.
Almost always, the possessor of magic is a danger to herself and others until she learns how to control that magic.
Bring in anger, and it all makes sense.
Harnessed anger can be used to generate willpower. Combine willpower with intelligence and you have the ability to create and change.
You can create art, art that matters. You can change the world. That's sure as hell what Sir Terry Pratchett does with his anger.
But if you never learn to harness and control that anger...
Magic-users are often stigmatized, because of the destruction they can cause. There are those who always feel the best way to control magic-users is to take away or suppress their magic.
For example, in the Dragon Age games, sometimes it's decided that a mage's magic needs to be removed completely by making them "Tranquil".
"Don't be angry. Anger is bad."
Maybe that's why it's always so important, in every universe from Discworld to Harry Potter, for magic-users to learn or be taught how to control and use their magic.
It's a pretty cool thought, and one I like quite a bit.
If you want to, follow me on Twitter.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
It all started when they decided to fund a project by feminist group The Fine Young Capitalists that sponsors female-created video games. As part this initiative's greatest sponsor, 4chan got to design a whole character for The Fine Young Capitalists. A female character.
Thus, Vivian James was born.
Vivian James is not like 4chan's usual creations when they design something female.
She is not reduced to her value as a sex object, not shoved into uncomfortably tight and revealing clothing and compromising positions, and not given boobs and expected to perform gymnastics that would put serious and horrible strain on her back.
She shuffles around in socks, jeans and a baggy tracksuit top, and she's just, as described by one of 4chan's posters, "an average female gamer".
Since her design, 4chan have been as pleased and proud as any parent. I mean, apart from the occasional leering and wanting to see her drawn in pornographic ways, it's almost bizarrely sweet.
4chan has finally mustered up some apparent genuine affection and even respect for a gamer girl. I mean, a fake gamer girl (literally), a gamer girl of their own creation, a gamer girl who they can absolutely control, but a gamer girl nonetheless.
It's almost cruel to point out to them the fact that all parents find out sooner or later: Your children will not necessarily parrot your views and agree with your ways. They're probably going to rebel. Most children question and turn on their parents sooner or later.
And you've gone and made yourselves a teenager.
Fact is, the words "I hate you!" and the slamming of doors are probably in your future.
Yes yes, I know Vivian James is a fictional character created by 4chan and therefore theoretically only 4chan get to say what she does and does not hate, but the thing is, 4chan's own description of Vivian's personality kinda condemns themselves:
What they've gone and said is, Vivian James hates 4chan.
See, 4chan isn't exactly known for honesty, but the extra irony here is how much dishonesty and hypocrisy has gone into Vivian's own creation.
Yes, they funded a feminist project, but it's 4chan, so their reasons are entirely self-serving and ultimately another attempt to discredit feminism.
Awhile ago, claims were made that Zoe Quinn, a woman 4chan utterly despises apparently for daring to exist while being female, a feminist, and a gamer at the same time, tried to sabotage feminist group The Fine Young Capitalists. (These claims have since been debunked by The Fine Young Capitalists themselves, but no one attacking Quinn seems overly concerned about facts right now so I guess that's besides the point.)
4chan, motivated by making Quinn and SJW's (Social Justice Warriors. Mostly they mean feminists. It might sound like it's a good thing to anyone who thinks social justice is, you know, a good thing, but they fully intend it as an insult) look like hypocrites, while making themselves look good, decided to support 'The Fine Young Capitalists' project. Oh, and to cause "asshurt".
"We will look good if we sponsor this."
"We'll be PR untouchable."
Supporting a project to give an inaccurate impression. Huh, that's almost dishonest. And supporting feminists only to ultimately discredit feminists?
And then calling other people dishonest and hypocritical?
Isn't that just a tad hypocritical?
Vivian's own design is not born of any noble belief than female gamers and females in games deserve to be treated with more respect and depicted better. They just wanted to troll people.
And so Vivian is, as Vice pointed out, born from the "muck of cynicism and spite".
But that's OK.
It's OK to have horrible parents. It's OK to be born under horrible circumstances. None of that matters. What matters, is what you become.
There are, of course, images like this one of Vivian sounding and acting exactly like her father. No major surprises there. Kids do, at first, tend to imitate their parents and parrot what they've learned from the environment they've grown up in.
Then there's really awesome images like this one by catbib on deviantart, in which she literally looks like a Social Justice Warrior, suggesting there's something to Vivian that makes her inherently so much more than a puppet for her misogynistic father:
I think that something is the fact that, even when trying to stick it to feminists, even after pushing and promoting the idea that girls only play games for attention, that fake geek girls is really a thing, and that women mainly exist to be perved over and sexualized...
Even 4chan realizes in its collective conscious that an "average female gamer" is just someone who plays video games while happening to be female at the same time.
There's also that whole fact that she's allowed to be arrogant, confident, and a bit of an asshole, without anyone screaming about how unacceptable her tone is. Usually only guys get to do that.
All in all, I like Vivian James. She can stay.
And I don't believe that, if she were real, she'd stay an anti-feminist for long. Her ability to recognize bullshit seems to supposed to be really good and her tolerance for bullshit seems to be really low. She also values honesty and integrity.
It's only a matter of time before someone like that would see through 4chan's crap and tell them where they can stick their misogynistic aggression.
The complete 'Birth of Vivian' story can be viewed here.
* Not all of 4chan. Not everyone on 4chan.
Friday, May 30, 2014
John, if you had actually read the article you commented on, you would have noticed that Tim Minchin talks, specifically, about rethinking the idea of rebellion. Spoiler alert: It doesn't include posting racist comments on a website that has a policy against racism.
"I want you to rebel. I want you to be anti-conservative. I want you to be the CEO who changes how the mining sector sees its environmental responsibility. I want you to be the politician who stands up in parliament and says, why is it only women who are talking about gender equality? I want you to be the kid who stands up on the oval at lunchtime and says, 'You guys are using the word 'gay' as a negative adjective - it's lazy and boring and stupid and damaging. Grow up'."
"You can most effectively rebel by using your brain very carefully, by using your education wisely. Rebellion is not actually skipping classes or disrespecting teachers."
And it's not about blatantly refusing to listen to a website's terms and conditions, terms and conditions you agreed to, then hunting down the blog of the author of the article where you posted, and had deleted, racist comments, so that you can see the word "rebellion", ignore anything that's said in the post, and whine about how angry you are because your racism is not being tolerated or given a platform.
That's not rebellion. That is, as Tim Minchin says, "just intellectually lazy".
Wait, *I* get to decide what comments get to stay up on MY blog?
Deleting a torrent of comments that, 1) don't actually respond to the post that they're on, 2) are trollish and insulting and 3) have absolutely no value at all besides entertainment is not "tyranny". It's simply, well, this comic from xkcd explained it best:
As I said, I wasn't actually reading when I was deleting these comments (after the first one), on the basis that anything that followed that couldn't possibly have any value, but I admit, I was wrong.
These comments are gold.
You wouldn't be the first to write an angry article about me, so no, I don't mind.
I. LOVE. IT.
I put the "Nazi" in "feminazi"? I NEED TO HAVE THIS PRINTED ON A T-SHIRT. Preferably with this image above it:
I have to say though, anti-feminists seem to be the only people who still, without shame, have no problem invoking Godwin's Law. So props to you for tenacity.
Much love :)
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I haven't actually driven the poor thing into anything for years, (well apart from that one time and it was a tiny little bump, didn't even dent and only scratched the paint a little, and I swear the other car came out of no where; and, well, the rock), but by the time I learned how to drive without scraping walls, trees, pavements etc, the damage was done. I have received many a Stare, pitying, amused, even disgusted, all because of how awful my car looks.
But for years, it has soldiered on as I put it through drive after challenging drive, at one point even taking me from Table View to Stellenbosch and back (about 100km in total) daily. It has been mostly reliable, and rarely in need of much attention. It might not always have kept me warm and dry, but it's kept me safe and has taken me where-ever I need to go, whenever I do.
And it's dead.
I was heading home at around 5am when I found my route blocked by burning tires. Protesters had blocked off certain roads, and there was no getting around them. I tried to take a detour down a side road, but it was dark and I could see more fires up ahead and that's when I road over a rock. A giant freaking rock that was, for no apparent reason, just chilling in the middle of the road.
My car was instantly very clearly not going anywhere anytime soon.
I thought I had probably burst a tire, but with the confusion, darkness, protesters and the fires getting bigger, I wasn't about to attempt to change it. Five minutes later my boyfriend was driving me home, where I phoned the AA to find out I would absolutely have to be with the car when they fetch it, so I arranged for them to fetch it a few hours later, once the protests had stopped, traffic had died down, and it was light.
When we returned, I found my tires were fine, but not my poor car. The floor of the car was wrecked, dented inwards, the rock had torn open the oil tank, and, when I tried to start the car, it became immediately clear that the gear box was wrecked.
A mechanic did think, for awhile, that it might still be repairable, but today I found out the news that it absolutely is not. On top of everything else, the engine has been pushed back and it's just not worth fixing. The only option is to scrap.
I'm surprised at how sad I am.
It's not the fact that I no longer have the convenience of a car. I have needed to think about getting a new car for awhile, and I can manage at least for awhile without my own transport.
It's the sense of loss of something I really was very attached to. My poor, faithful, ugly to everyone but me, reliable car. I feel... mourning. As if a very dear pet has died.
Even the thought that my car is in a garage with strangers all around it makes me feel wretched. It's probably in pain, and scared, and feeling alone. It probably is wondering why it's there, and where I am, and....
I know. I know. I'm being ridiculous. Frankly I shouldn't have been allowed to watch movies like A Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story, I was clearly far too impressionable a child.
I'm so sad. And I'm going to try go see my car one last time. And I'm going to cry. And I don't think any car will ever quite live up to its memory. Nothing's going to quite feel right.
Goodbye, Mazda 626, who's description of "burgundy" has never failed to instantly require me to explain "like a dark red", who patiently accepted the knocks and scrapes that came with being my faithful transport, and who carried on driving beautifully long after many cars would have started regularly breaking down.
I'll never accidentally lock my keys in you again, or accidentally knock off your side-mirror, or apply masking tape to the parts of you that really needed a bit of bandaging up. You have been so faithful, so steadfast, so reliable. It's time for you to finally rest.
For a moment, I'm going to willingly suspend my disbelief, and imagine you're heading to car heaven. You'll like it there. It never rains.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Sunday, November 3, 2013
For Halloween, Lloyd decided to cosplay Tim Minchin. I helped with his hair, and I have to say, I'm really bloody proud of the result of our joint effort. This is Lloyd normally:
Much love x