Guys, this is my SEVENTH YEAR of Advent drabbles! Does that make it officially a tradition?
If this is the first year for you and you don't know the drill, here it is: Sign up for a drabble! The first 24 people to leave a one-word prompt in a comment to this entry will get a drabble of their very own, posted one each day in December until Christmas. A one-word prompt is all that I ask, but, if you like, you can request specific characters/'verses. (I only make promises to the first 24, but sometimes I do get around to more than that.) The one-word prompt can be holiday-themed or not; it's up to you!
If you don't have an LJ account, you shouldn't have a problem with anonymously commenting to this post, and I'll approve it to save your spot. Drabbles will be posted both here on LJ and to Tumblr, tagged with your Tumblr username, so you should see it (as long as you're sure to tell me your Tumblr username). You can also tag anonymously, if you prefer, but it's harder for me to find you to tell you your drabble is up. :-)
I consider the holiday season to have started officially now, so, no matter which of the December holidays you celebrate, I hope you have a season of grace, peace, love, and joy.
Our festivities are winding down here on the Eastern seaboard (where, in the Northeast at least, we had unbelievably gorgeous weather and literally ate our dinner with the windows open, a huge luxury in late November). If you celebrated, I hope that you had a wonderful day full of love and laughter and blessings great and small. And, if you didn't celebrate, well, I hope your Thursday was the same way.
This year I am grateful for:
And how I think I should be walking more. I miss walking. I miss living in a city and *having* to walk. And I was feeling really guilty about how little I walk here. I live close enough to things to walk to them but I almost never do it.
And then I read "Walkable City," which everyone should read because it was *amazing,* and I learned all about how distance is only one aspect of walking, you also have to make walkers feel welcome and give them interesting things to look at, etc. Well, there's no sidewalk around my house and it's hilly so the car have no sight lines and came barrelling down making me feel unsafe, so that contributes somewhat to my lack of desire to walk. And then, when there are sidewalks? Apparently people believe their primary purpose is to give them extra space to park their enormous pick-up trucks on.
(I don't know, is that image not working? Whatevs, technology.)
The point is: as a walker? Not feeling very welcome.
But this didn't mean that I don't still miss walking, because I do. I use it as head-clearing space in a way that driving isn't for me. I am endlessly annoyed when I am driving, I do not find it relaxing at all. Fortuitously, I happened upon a park that is less than a mile from my house and has a pleasant walking trail, not too long, just enough to act as a brisk pick-me-up in the mornings. And it's within sight of lots of houses all the time, which I find reassuring, considering all the signs they feel it necessary to tell you that no guns are allowed, NOT EVEN IF YOU HAVE A LICENSE FOR THEM.
So I've been walking a few mornings a week, and to keep me company while I walk, I have started listening to podcasts. I thought I'd listen to music while I walked and plot out stories the way I used to when I lived in cities, but, I don't know, I was craving more structure to my walking. Podcasts are not something I'd ever been able to figure out before. I have lots of friends who listen to lots of them but I don't do iTunes and I couldn't figure out how everyone was finding them, etc. Then a friend introduced me to the concept of Stitcher Radio, which has been eye-opening for me. I poke around their top 100 podcasts until I find one that sounds interesting and not too long. This foolproof method of choosing has resulted in me listening to lots and lots of random podcasts hosted entirely by women, which I of course find fascinating. Is this true across podcasts in general? Is it more female-heavy? Is this because there are fewer barriers to entry so women can actually get a toe in the door?
No idea, but the reason I'm off on this tangent is because I listened to this episode of "Note to Self" the other day. It started out talking about this service called Invisible Girlfriend and then posed the question of whether you can have a relationship based entirely on texting but then there was a point made that so much of online interaction feels shallow that people actually crave deeper online interaction. This struck a chord with me because I had just been part of a fascinating conversation on Tumblr about fan dynamic that we--all of the participants--gave up on because Tumblr is such an impossible platform to have a conversation on. As I've been told many times--and as I understand--that's not supposed to be the point of Tumblr. But I guess I'm wondering: where *do* those deeper online connections happen these days? I hate to be the old person being all "In my day, on LJ, we could have real conversations," but, like, we *could.* No one uses Tumblr for that kind of thing. It doesn't work. I adore Twitter, but 140 characters isn't conducive to serious conversations. So where is it you're supposed to go? Does fandom these days not feel the need to have more in-depth conversations? Are they going somewhere else for them? I'm genuinely curious. I feel like every platform wants to be Facebook; where's the place where the interaction *isn't* Facebook-y?
Random thoughts from me. In other news, I volunteered to be the point person for a pretty crazy intense short-term project at work. I haven't done anything like that in a while. I've kind of just been going along teaching and grading and writing and presenting, and I feel like I've gotten the hang of that. It's been a while since I had to organize a *project.* I was surprised by how much I remembered from law firm days. I was a little annoyed at first because of how it took me a second to get back in the groove of it (guys, I am out of the groove of law firm days. RIGHT?????), but then I got my spreadsheets going and my color-coded e-mail flags organized and the whole thing worked like clockwork right to the deadline and I remembered that, actually, back in the day, I hated every second of it but I was really good at my job. Anyway, the difference between my life now and law firm life is that multiple people--not even people directly involved with my project--stopped by to tell me how impressed they were with what I was doing and they really appreciated me taking it on, etc., etc., and that was nice. TIP FOR ALL THOSE IN MANAGEMENT POSITIONS: THANK YOU IS TWO WORDS, TAKES LESS THEN A SECOND TO SAY, AND MAKES UP FOR SO MUCH. I don't understand what is so difficult to understand about that.
In other other news, I am still crazy insane over "Hamilton" and I have a lot of thinky thoughts about how the South is always the enemy in Revolutionary tales, not England. England never even really figures in "1776," the villain is Rutledge and the Southerners holding Adams hostage, and England is a little bit of comic relief in "Hamilton" while Hamilton has to fight his way against the Southern alliance. It's really fascinating to me. Especially in the week that we have had down here.
I received the following comment on a fic: “I was totally into it until you quoted from the show.”
Fascinating, I thought. Does that mean I’ve done my job *too* well, that you forgot you were reading a fanfic? Or does that mean I haven’t done my job well enough, that you forgot you were reading a fanfic?
So then I started chatting with elizabethminkel about all of this and somehow I found myself bringing up Derrida and she was like, “You should put this all on Tumblr!” and I was like, “BEHOLD THE POWER OF PROCRASTINATION.” Seriously, the power of procrastination is such that my brain dredged up *Derrida,* who I haven’t thought about in 15 years and never actually understood.
BUT. I have always felt like, if I’ve done my job right, my fic *shouldn’t* entirely stand on its own. I intend for it to be read in conjunction with a canon. I’m doing something with the canon: commenting on it, criticizing it, hating it, loving it, but whatever I’m doing, it’s *something.* So I have always in my head felt like the best fanfic isn’t easily serial-number-filed, if that makes sense. It should be more than changing a character name or two. Taking a fic outside of its canon conversation should, I’ve always thought, deprive it of something.
But even as I was tweeting this--which is a theory I have long held--I realized that my Inception experience was arguing against that. I started reading Inception fic kind of randomly, without knowing much about the movie at all. I fell in love with the fic. To this day, I’m kind of meh on the movie. In a kind of reverse, to me the *movie* only has value because of its place in the fan conversation. Take the movie outside of its fan conversation, and it’s deprived of full vibrancy. You don’t get fully fleshed out characters anymore. You don’t get one ridiculous word or look or musical cue or WHATEVER having so much significance your heart hurts.
So maybe I’ve been wrong to see it as a one-sided thing. It’s not that fic needs canon. It’s that fic and canon have a symbiotic relationship. Fic betters canon as much as canon betters fic. Which makes sense when I stop to think about it. The whole reason most people write fic is because there’s something about canon they can’t get out of their head, that they need *more* on, and then when you go back, everything is richer.
Which is what gets me to Derrida, I think. Derrida had something to do with referents, if I vaguely remember correctly. It was something to do with symbols not being universal because you had to know their referent? And the referent was itself a symbol and unknowable? Or something like that. As far as I could tell, modern philosophy eventually devolved into NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING EVER. ANYWAY, I really just wanted to borrow the idea of the referent.
Because I think, what’s important in fic, is not the referent back to canon, as I’d always thought. It’s the referent to, for lack of a better word, *fanon.* And I don’t just mean fanon like John loves Tchaikovsky and Eames is a secret peer, or whatever might be the fanon of your choice. I’m using fanon to refer to “the way fans communicate.” And we, like many people, like artists everywhere, use our creativity to communicate, and it’s a language we all understand effortlessly, because we are versed in the referent. I’m terrible at understanding modern art (you should see me doing research when I have to have Eames talk about art, it’s hilarious), but that is largely, I suspect, because I never studied art, I never learned its language, I don’t know it’s referents. The other day a student told me she commutes from Philadelphia, and I was like, “*Philadelphia? How long does that take you???” and she replied, “It’s a three-hour drive,” and I still don’t know where Philadelphia is but it’s clearly not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She and I? We had different referents. I don’t actually speak Southern very fluently at all.
But I do speak fluent fanon. With very little effort, I know what you mean when you say “coffee shop AU,” or “hurt/comfort,” or “OT3,” or “Mary Sue,” or “genderswap,” and I don’t just mean that it’s a matter of vocabulary, it’s a matter of *we know how to read these things.* Even if I *don’t* say it’s a coffee shop AU, when there’s a coffee shop involved, you know what it *means,* you know what I’m engaging with, and it’s not just the canon, it’s hardly at all about the canon, it’s about the larger fan vocabulary that has established coffee shop AUs and what they mean. And partly there’s an illumination of the canon, but also partly it’s just another drop in the coffee shop AU referent pool, regardless of the canon at issue. Our primary referent, actually, is fandom itself; canon is the secondary referent that we use to communicate through our primary referent. ::making up philosophical-sounding things like a pro::
@elizabethminkel pointed out in our Twitter conversation that probably, for me, fanon trumps canon, and I’ve decided that’s true. You know what I’ve weirdly loved about writing in Inception that I didn’t think I would: it’s closed. No one’s going to come in and mess it all up. I don’t actually *want* my ships to be canon, because I don’t trust anyone with them but *us.* And why do I trust us? Because we’re conversing in fanon terms.
Canon is presented to us with such finality. Canon is not engaging in creative play. Canon is deadly serious. “HERE I AM AND HERE IS HOW IT GOES. DEAL WITH ME.” Canon is like the closing off of doors of possibilities until there’s only one path.
Fanon, on the other hand, is aggressively *not that.* Fanon encourages the same story to be told infinity times, basically. Fanon is an explicit acknowledgment that there is no one way to tell a story, no one way to write a character, no one ending that is inevitable, and no one gets to tell you otherwise. Fanon is about the joy of pure limitless creativity (take that, dreamsharing). Fanon is about finding your own path and letting everyone else find theirs as well. This is why you don’t only have one AU of each type in a fandom, or one definitive post-Reichenbach fic, or one fic dealing with Mary. You get multiple because no one behaves like or would ever expect anyone else to behave like their fic is THE DEFINITIVE. I can read a fic I don’t agree with and I know it’s okay for me to shrug and move on to other fics. I can read a fic I adore passionately, but it’s also okay for me to write a fic dealing with the same moment, or genre, or whatever. Whereas I am not as good at doing that when it’s canon, because I feel slightly bullied, somehow. Like, I’ve had a hard time post-S3 with Sherlock, because I can’t figure out how to deal with Mary. And I’ve spent all of this time trying to figure out and now I’ve reached this point where I’m like, “What does it *matter,* they’re just going to do what they want to do and we’ll be stuck with it.” It’s harder for me personally to brush canon away, because even though I’ve been a passionate fan creator for years now, I’ve never actually felt *invited* to that. There’s a definite hierarchy, and I’m the amusing upstart with a pat on the head and the “there, there, that’s not what *really* happened,” like it’s the bloody end of “Clue” or something.
Well, I’ll tell you what really happened: ALL THREE POSSIBLE ENDINGS. EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE. ALL THE FANON REFERENTS EVER. Derrida. ::mic drop::
In case you missed it, the posting schedule is now up! LOOK AT ALL THE AWESOME FICS WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.
Tomorrow I'll do a DW reaction (glad to have it back!) and eventually I'll put up my Iceland/England travel journal including a "Hamlet" review (still culling photos; they've just started posting and then I'll round them up for a blog post) but I figured I'd just catch us up on everything.
( Bullet Points!Collapse )
I just came back from a week in Iceland and London, where I saw Benedict Cumberbatch's "Hamlet." So I have, as you could imagine, a lot to say, but instead I'm killing time with this meme I stole from kaydeefalls.
I currently have 78 works archived at the AO3. Pick a number from 1 (the most recent) to 78 (the first thing I posted there), and I'll tell you three things I currently like about it.