dolorosa_12: (what's left? me)
I'm sure I've mentioned before that I was a competitive gymnast for the majority of my childhood and all of my adolescence. I was never naturally particularly good at it, but I trained at it for nine hours every week from the age of nine, and towards the end I was training twelve hours a week, and you don't train that long without becoming at least competent at something. I look back on my years as a gymnast with a great deal of affection and gratitude, because even though I never got good enough to make a career out of it, gymnastics taught me a lot of useful things about myself, and I find myself going back to it constantly whenever I want to understand important things about how I function. The same goes for a lot of the other things I did as a child and adolescent: piano exams and competitions, dance performances, drama productions, circus displays and even exams, class presentations and other public speaking. You'll notice that all these things have a strong performative element, and indeed necessitate performing well (in all sense of the word) in a public setting.

Looking back at all these things made me realise how productive an emotion fear has been in my life.

I want to be very clear here that this is a specific type of fear. It is not anxiety and it is not at all irrational. It may more correctly be understood as adrenaline, and the overall effect is to create a sort of calm clarity and certainty in my mind whenever I'm doing something that involves performing in public. I'll go back to gymnastics because it is the easiest to demonstrate.

Training in gymnastics involves a lot of different elements. Part of it is doing strength and flexibility exercises in order to increase those qualities (e.g. large numbers of situps, lifting weights, climbing up and down ropes without using your legs, or stretching). Part of it involves doing the actual gymnastics moves repetitively until you can do them consistently well, building up the degree of difficulty. For example, learning to do a backflip generally begins on a trampoline or soft mat with your coach helping you. Once you've mastered it there, you can move to the sprung floor, and from there you can learn to do it on the beam or in combination with other moves. Once you've built up enough skills, you train in putting them together into a routine and practice the routine repetitively until the routine as a whole is consistently performed well. So an average training session will involve strength and flexibility exercises, practicing routines, and learning new skills that are more difficult in order to work them into new routines. The point is that while doing all this, there's no pressure to perform publicly, except the knowledge that practice will make you perform better in competitions. The mental state is very different, and if you make mistakes, it's not a problem.

For me, once the competitive element was introduced, my mindset was entirely different. The best I can describe it is as a kind of fearful certainty: I got up on that beam, and knew I would not fall off, because my fear of doing so was greater than every other consideration. (Indeed, I very rarely fell in competitions.) In practice I occasionally 'baulked' at doing my vault routine (that is, I would run to the horse but stop before completing the exercise, usually because my run-up to the horse 'felt wrong'). I never baulked in competitions, even if the run-up 'felt wrong'. I know that some kinds of fear can be crippling, but this particular type produced in me a kind of clear certainty: I was so afraid of looking bad in public, of being scored badly, that I knew (in the same way that I knew my hair was brown or I lived in Canberra) I would not fall. That is not to say that I got amazing scores: like I said, I had no natural talent and was merely competent, the same way any able-bodied person would be if they trained for nine-twelve hours per week.

That is what I mean when I talk about 'productive fear', though. It worked the same in piano exams and competitions: I might've made mistakes in practice or occasionally lost my place in memorised pieces, but I wouldn't forget anything when it came to those competitive situations. Same goes for dance or drama performances: I was too afraid of looking bad to forget a move or a line. You might say that my prime motivation in all such situations was the intense fear of looking stupid or being thought badly of in public.

And the reason why I'm working so hard to draw a distinction between that kind of fear and other types is that it's actually quite a wonderful feeling. I never feel so much like myself, as if I'm in complete control of myself, as if I know myself completely, as when I feel that kind of fear.* It's as if the rest of the world around me is a blank space, within which I can move with confidence. It only lasts as long as the 'performance' (I've noticed, for example, that I feel it while giving conference papers, but not while answering questions afterwards). It makes my mind feel sharp and awake, and is the only time I feel truly alive.

I'm writing all this not to say 'be afraid more often! it's awesome!' but more for ongoing personal reference. A fearful nature is often viewed as being something of a hindrance, and I'm trying to articulate why this is not always something that needs criticism. It's clear to me that the type of fear I'm describing is almost indistinguishable from joy. It lasts as long as I need it to get where I need to go.

________________________
* Oddly enough, the same feeling arises when I do things which I have endeavoured to keep entirely non-competitive: ice-skating, rollerblading, skiing, jogging and swimming. My mind empties of everything except the certainty that I will not fall (in the case of skating or skiing), that I could run on forever (in the case of jogging) or that the ocean will hold me (in the case of swimming).
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Further to my Buffy post, I was wondering about something I noticed in a recent fanfic search. This wasn't even strictly a Buffy phenomenon, since I encountered the same thing on a link journey started by Teen Wolf/Supernatural fic rec by [personal profile] thelxiepia.

I do not get the appeal of 'all human' AUs based on supernatural canons.

I mean, I am obsessed with stories of non-human characters interacting with humans. Vampires, angels, demons, gods, cyborgs, even zombies if done well. The only one that usually doesn't appeal is werewolves, and I've made an exception there for Teen Wolf because it's just so cute. The point is, I like the stories that arise when non-human beings have some kind of relationship with humans. I don't even exclusively mean the My Supernatural Boyfriend subgenre, although that can be fantastic. I just love the kinds of questions these character interactions open up: explorations of what it means to be human, whether human emotions and thought patterns are an exclusively human phenomenon, whether love (not just in the romantic sense) between a human and a non-human brings the non-human closer to humanity or makes the human monstrous, whether human morality is exclusively a product of human mortality. Etc. And it just seems to me that all-human AUs take all these things away.

So, my question, born of genuine curiosity rather than exasperation, is why? What are people wanting to explore when they write or read these AUs?
dolorosa_12: (doctor horrible)
My mother sent me this article by Annabel Crabb about Facebook. While I have no particular issue with the article (because I agree with Crabb in thinking that Facebook is not a benign entity, and because I think there are other forms of social media that are better), the comments enraged me. I normally know better than to read comments on internet news articles, but I couldn't look away for several moments, which meant I was blasted by the usual garbage about young people who spend too long on the internet and don't have any 'real' friendships. There was no way I was going to let that one lie.

You've heard it all before when I've rhapsodised about my internet friends and so I won't wax lyrical on that particular point again. We're all on Livejournal or Dreamwidth, so I think I'll take it as given that everyone reading this knows that internet friendships are, indeed, real.

One of the other weird - and unexpected - benefits of having online friends is that you end up learning a lot about the life, history and politics of a variety of other countries and cultures. Due to the demographics of my particular set of internet friends, I have a much more solid knowledge of what it's like to live in Iceland, France, Finland, Ireland, various parts of North America, and, indeed, Britain and Germany, years before I lived in any of those places. (My friendships are limited to a certain extent because I only speak English - and now rather bad German - and I imagine if I were multilingual, my circle of friends would come from even more places.) Online friendships give you a much broader perspective of what it is to be human, and I'd like to think they help to make you a more empathetic and knowledgeable person.

A second point to consider is this. I am an Australian, and lived in Australia until I was 23 years old. Then I went to the UK to do an MPhil (and later PhD) degree. I'm currently living in Germany. Even if you take online friends out of the equation, a significant proportion of my friends live scattered across the globe. Many of them, understandably, live in Australia, but a lot of the Australians have wandered off to the UK, the US, France, Italy, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, Cambodia and so on. Then take the friends I've made since moving to the UK. They are a mixture of people who were undergrads at some point when I was studying in Cambridge (and have since completed their degrees and moved elsewhere, either for work or for further study), or they were postgrad students or postdocs, working in a field which requires you to move in order to be where the jobs are. And in two months, when I'm back in Cambridge, I'll have a similar bunch of Germany-based friends whom I'll have left behind. If you take my last ten Facebook interactions, they were (in reverse order):
1. Messaging my boyfriend, who lives in Cambridge, in order to organise a time to talk on Skype;
2. Talking about music with people who live in Stockholm, Michigan, London, Lahti and Thurso respectively;
3. Chatting with a friend who lives in South Wales;
4. Chatting with my boyfriend's sister, who lives in another part of Germany;
5. Discussing the potential Galax-Arena film with a bunch of Australian friends;
6. Talking about the LGBTQ pride Oreos with an Australian friend;
7. Organising a group present with a bunch of friends from Cambridge;
8. Wishing a pair of formerly Cambridge-, now Peterborough-based friends congratulations on their engagement;
9. Commenting on an article my (Cambridge-based) boyfriend posted on my wall; and
10. Talking about Cirque du Soleil with an Australian friend.

Not one of those conversations could have taken place without the internet. I loathe the phone, even if I could've afforded those kinds of international calls, and in any case, it is the internet that enables the kind of spontaneity that typifies the above interactions. Quite simply, without the internet, I wouldn't be able to interact with the vast majority of my friends in a way that is natural and spontaneous. And I think I'm fairly representative of my age and demographic.

Finally, while I am at my happiest when I am interacting with people both 'in real life'* and online, with some kind of balance between the two, in my years online, I have encountered many people for whom the possibility of online friendship was utterly transformative. For whatever reason, these people found or find 'real life' interaction difficult, undesirable or impossible, and the internet perfectly suited to their personalities and interests. And I think that the existence of the internet, of online friendship, is incredibly valuable for this reason. I personally find it easiest to have meaningful conversations through the medium of text, either through blogs and comments, Twitter conversations or various chat platforms, and I am incredibly grateful that such things exist.

We're never going to convince the cane-wavers. And that's okay. If they can't see that what we have is valuable, that what we do is friendship, I don't want them here anyway.

___________________
* I put this in quote marks because the internet is, of course, part of real life.
dolorosa_12: (le guin)
At some point yesterday, I realised I was carrying water bottles from Finland, Sweden and Norway.* That summed up, I think, the rather surreal experiences of the past week, which took me from a Welsh-Australian wedding in Anglesey to a Celtic conference in Helsinki, and everywhere in between.

The world is yours, not mine, Quidam )

Also, this trip seems to have given me a taste for salty liquorice. In both sweet and alcoholic (which is apparently called salmiakki) form.

____________
* I ended up only keeping the Norwegian one, as it had the best design.
** That's not my blog, but the quote explains what Selidor is and means.
*** This movement doesn't need to be physical.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I seem to be on a bit of a blogging roll right now, so here's a post about three things I've been musing about in relation to various things I've been reading in recent times.

1. I still find Buffy empowering, in spite of everything

Let's get this out of the way. Buffy fails on numerous occasions in matters of race, sexuality and even the feminism which its creator, Joss Whedon, claims. I personally think its storytelling is excellent, but I know numerous people who find it deeply problematic and even hurtful, with good reason. It is, to me, an example of a flawed story that nonetheless never fails to speak to me, and I know that I have in the past excused or failed to recognise its flaws due to ignorance.

Chief among these flaws is one that feminists often raise in relation to all of Whedon's work: he ostensibly writes stories about 'empowered' women whose source of empowerment is overcoming some kind of trauma, usually a literal or metaphorical rape.

And yet, for me, as a teenager and young woman, I found that particular story, especially as it was told in Buffy, extremely empowering. Despite having a relatively calm adolescence, with nothing worse than low-level bullying, I always felt broken (and indeed in my early 20s actually sought out situations that would give me an excuse for this brokenness). As such, the idea that out of brokenness came strength was incredibly empowering for me. I know now that we need stories about women whose strength is not simply an act of revenge, a side-effect of abuse or destruction, but back then, Buffy's was a story I needed to be told.*

2. Leave Twihards alone!
On a related note, I think the bashing of Twilight fans needs to stop. This is not because I think Twilight is a wonderful story, or that it's a terrible story but this somehow doesn't matter because it's 'light, fluffy entertainment' (nothing is 'just a story', and nothing is above criticism). It's because if I had been twelve, or fourteen or even eighteen when Twilight came out, hell, I would've been a fan too, and I think those of us who were introverted and 'only ever fell in love with fictional men' need to show a bit more empathy and compassion.

You know how I said I felt 'broken' as a teenager? Well, I used to think the solution to that 'brokenness' was an all-consuming, all-sacrificing, transformative love. I read just the kinds of books to feed my rescue fantasy, and I thought if the right guy (always someone 'dangerous' and 'damaged') would walk through the door, all my troubles and angst would be over. As a fifteen-year-old girl, it's a powerful idea: that true love is obsessive and dramatic and will cause you to change completely, and Twilight simply taps into that idea. As a teenager I was reading Cecilia Dart-Thornton and Sara Douglass and Juliet Marillier and a whole host of other female romantic fantasy writers who fell under the umbrella of 'Celtic-inflected historical fantasy', and who am I to say that they were any less damaging to my ideas about romance and relationships than Twilight?

I'm not saying that we should throw our hands in the air and give up criticising Twilight. No, we should criticise it until Stephenie Meyer is no more than a distant spot on the horizon of the YA corpus. But we should stop thinking of Twilight fandom as a new phenomenon and recognise that many of us read equally problematic books as teenagers, and gained equally disturbing beliefs about relationships because of them.

3. Hufflepuff and proud
I'm a self-sorted Hufflepuff, and actually only want to join Pottermore so that I can have this sort of officially confirmed. (I'm sad, I know, I know.) And while I know I'm overinvesting, it does make me sad (even though I know it's all done in humour), when people like The Last Muggle persistently bash my beloved house and the qualities that it epitomises.

This criticism does have some validity. After all, loyalty - the key Hufflepuff trait - does have a dark side, as one may be blindly loyal and supportive where he or she should be constructively critical or antagonistic. But I think that kindness, compassion, hard work, fairness and loyalty are unjustly underrated, and that these are qualities (kindness in particular) that we ought to demonstrate, not mock or belittle.

In any case, it seems to me that the whole Potter series is, in fact, arguing for a less rigid separation into houses, since people don't tend to only embody the traits of one House, but rather possess them all in varying proportions. Ultimately it takes representatives of all Houses, and the utilisation of the myriad traits they embody, to destroy the Horcruxes, not Gryffindor bravery alone. We are composite beings.

But then that's probably just me being earnest like the Hufflepuff I am.

_________________________
*Also, I rewatched Season 6 - not a fan favourite - at a time in my life when I really needed it, and I seem to be alone among fans in thinking that it was a well-executed season whose story perfectly matched where the characters were in their lives. (I do recognise, however, that many queer fans found the Willow/Tara storyline distressing and a betrayal, and, though they don't need my validation, I think they have a valid point.)
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
I seem to be on a bit of a blogging roll right now, so here's a post about three things I've been musing about in relation to various things I've been reading in recent times.

1. I still find Buffy empowering, in spite of everything

Let's get this out of the way. Buffy fails on numerous occasions in matters of race, sexuality and even the feminism which its creator, Joss Whedon, claims. I personally think its storytelling is excellent, but I know numerous people who find it deeply problematic and even hurtful, with good reason. It is, to me, an example of a flawed story that nonetheless never fails to speak to me, and I know that I have in the past excused or failed to recognise its flaws due to ignorance.

Chief among these flaws is one that feminists often raise in relation to all of Whedon's work: he ostensibly writes stories about 'empowered' women whose source of empowerment is overcoming some kind of trauma, usually a literal or metaphorical rape.

And yet, for me, as a teenager and young woman, I found that particular story, especially as it was told in Buffy, extremely empowering. Despite having a relatively calm adolescence, with nothing worse than low-level bullying, I always felt broken (and indeed in my early 20s actually sought out situations that would give me an excuse for this brokenness). As such, the idea that out of brokenness came strength was incredibly empowering for me. I know now that we need stories about women whose strength is not simply an act of revenge, a side-effect of abuse or destruction, but back then, Buffy's was a story I needed to be told.*

2. Leave Twihards alone!
On a related note, I think the bashing of Twilight fans needs to stop. This is not because I think Twilight is a wonderful story, or that it's a terrible story but this somehow doesn't matter because it's 'light, fluffy entertainment' (nothing is 'just a story', and nothing is above criticism). It's because if I had been twelve, or fourteen or even eighteen when Twilight came out, hell, I would've been a fan too, and I think those of us who were introverted and 'only ever fell in love with fictional men' need to show a bit more empathy and compassion.

You know how I said I felt 'broken' as a teenager? Well, I used to think the solution to that 'brokenness' was an all-consuming, all-sacrificing, transformative love. I read just the kinds of books to feed my rescue fantasy, and I thought if the right guy (always someone 'dangerous' and 'damaged') would walk through the door, all my troubles and angst would be over. As a fifteen-year-old girl, it's a powerful idea: that true love is obsessive and dramatic and will cause you to change completely, and Twilight simply taps into that idea. As a teenager I was reading Cecilia Dart-Thornton and Sara Douglass and Juliet Marillier and a whole host of other female romantic fantasy writers who fell under the umbrella of 'Celtic-inflected historical fantasy', and who am I to say that they were any less damaging to my ideas about romance and relationships than Twilight?

I'm not saying that we should throw our hands in the air and give up criticising Twilight. No, we should criticise it until Stephenie Meyer is no more than a distant spot on the horizon of the YA corpus. But we should stop thinking of Twilight fandom as a new phenomenon and recognise that many of us read equally problematic books as teenagers, and gained equally disturbing beliefs about relationships because of them.

3. Hufflepuff and proud
I'm a self-sorted Hufflepuff, and actually only want to join Pottermore so that I can have this sort of officially confirmed. (I'm sad, I know, I know.) And while I know I'm overinvesting, it does make me sad (even though I know it's all done in humour), when people like The Last Muggle persistently bash my beloved house and the qualities that it epitomises.

This criticism does have some validity. After all, loyalty - the key Hufflepuff trait - does have a dark side, as one may be blindly loyal and supportive where he or she should be constructively critical or antagonistic. But I think that kindness, compassion, hard work, fairness and loyalty are unjustly underrated, and that these are qualities (kindness in particular) that we ought to demonstrate, not mock or belittle.

In any case, it seems to me that the whole Potter series is, in fact, arguing for a less rigid separation into houses, since people don't tend to only embody the traits of one House, but rather possess them all in varying proportions. Ultimately it takes representatives of all Houses, and the utilisation of the myriad traits they embody, to destroy the Horcruxes, not Gryffindor bravery alone. We are composite beings.

But then that's probably just me being earnest like the Hufflepuff I am.

_________________________
*Also, I rewatched Season 6 - not a fan favourite - at a time in my life when I really needed it, and I seem to be alone among fans in thinking that it was a well-executed season whose story perfectly matched where the characters were in their lives. (I do recognise, however, that many queer fans found the Willow/Tara storyline distressing and a betrayal, and, though they don't need my validation, I think they have a valid point.)
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I have been peripatetic for the past month or so. I was in Dublin for two weeks doing a summer course at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Then I was in Maynooth for the International Celtic Studies Congress, where I presented a paper. After that I returned briefly to Cambridge, before heading off with my mother for a hiking adventure in north Cornwall (we walked from Tintagel to Padstow). After that M and I went on holiday to Norfolk. I feel like I haven't rested for years, despite the fact that many parts of these wanderings were incredibly relaxing.

But it's Maynooth that I want to speak about.

It was my first big conference, and my first time presenting a paper in front of actual specialists in my field. (My previous two conferences were a postgrad student conference held in my department at Cambridge, which was multidisciplinary, and a smallish conference at my old university, so both of them were on home territory, as it were.) I was terrified, and it certainly wasn't my best ever paper presentation. My nervousness showed, and some of the questions were, to put it mildly, irrelevant. I felt so ill after my session finished that I thought I was going to be sick.

I felt, truth be told, as if I'd had my bones picked over until I was dissected. Hence the ravens. But perception is a funny thing, and two members of the audience told me later that they'd enjoyed the paper, and the session chair later told my supervisor that I'd done a good job. That left me feeling a bit better.

But the whole conference did give me pause. I have intermittent periods of self-doubt.* I believe every grad student does. But it was nothing like I felt during the conference. The sheer scale of it (there were twelve parallel sessions) left me overwhelmed. The need to constantly make small-talk, and the brazenness with which some of my friends were 'networking' made me exhausted. On some days, I was so tired that I would skip sessions and go back to my room and sleep. I am an introvert in the sense that although I enjoy the company of others, I find socialising draining rather than energising.

And so much of an academic career must be spent at conferences like this one, until you are old enough to have nothing left to prove. And I don't know if I can keep momentum up for that long. I did enjoy parts of the conference, but I dreaded the tea-breaks. In the end, I did leave with my resolution to at least try to work in academia restored, but it wavered at many points during the conference and there were times when I felt truly crushed and demoralised.

I do enjoy smaller conferences, so I suspect it was mainly the sheer size of Maynooth that I found challenging, and I do recognise that I will have these bursts of self-doubt throughout the course of my PhD. I welcome them, because I think that pursuing one future singlemindedly can lead to heartbreak and a lack of flexibility. I like being a postgrad student. I may like being an academic, but if I become one, I will become one on my own terms or try something different.


_________________________________
*I actually think that self-doubt is a worthwhile and healthy emotion. Over the years I've become less and less tolerant of confidence, because there is such a fine line between true confidence, and arrogance. A bit of doubt, when kept in proportion, seems to me an indication that one is constantly reflecting on, and reevaluating, his or her aspirations and intentions.
dolorosa_12: (dreaming)
I have been peripatetic for the past month or so. I was in Dublin for two weeks doing a summer course at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Then I was in Maynooth for the International Celtic Studies Congress, where I presented a paper. After that I returned briefly to Cambridge, before heading off with my mother for a hiking adventure in north Cornwall (we walked from Tintagel to Padstow). After that M and I went on holiday to Norfolk. I feel like I haven't rested for years, despite the fact that many parts of these wanderings were incredibly relaxing.

But it's Maynooth that I want to speak about.

It was my first big conference, and my first time presenting a paper in front of actual specialists in my field. (My previous two conferences were a postgrad student conference held in my department at Cambridge, which was multidisciplinary, and a smallish conference at my old university, so both of them were on home territory, as it were.) I was terrified, and it certainly wasn't my best ever paper presentation. My nervousness showed, and some of the questions were, to put it mildly, irrelevant. I felt so ill after my session finished that I thought I was going to be sick.

I felt, truth be told, as if I'd had my bones picked over until I was dissected. Hence the ravens. But perception is a funny thing, and two members of the audience told me later that they'd enjoyed the paper, and the session chair later told my supervisor that I'd done a good job. That left me feeling a bit better.

But the whole conference did give me pause. I have intermittent periods of self-doubt.* I believe every grad student does. But it was nothing like I felt during the conference. The sheer scale of it (there were twelve parallel sessions) left me overwhelmed. The need to constantly make small-talk, and the brazenness with which some of my friends were 'networking' made me exhausted. On some days, I was so tired that I would skip sessions and go back to my room and sleep. I am an introvert in the sense that although I enjoy the company of others, I find socialising draining rather than energising.

And so much of an academic career must be spent at conferences like this one, until you are old enough to have nothing left to prove. And I don't know if I can keep momentum up for that long. I did enjoy parts of the conference, but I dreaded the tea-breaks. In the end, I did leave with my resolution to at least try to work in academia restored, but it wavered at many points during the conference and there were times when I felt truly crushed and demoralised.

I do enjoy smaller conferences, so I suspect it was mainly the sheer size of Maynooth that I found challenging, and I do recognise that I will have these bursts of self-doubt throughout the course of my PhD. I welcome them, because I think that pursuing one future singlemindedly can lead to heartbreak and a lack of flexibility. I like being a postgrad student. I may like being an academic, but if I become one, I will become one on my own terms or try something different.


_________________________________
*I actually think that self-doubt is a worthwhile and healthy emotion. Over the years I've become less and less tolerant of confidence, because there is such a fine line between true confidence, and arrogance. A bit of doubt, when kept in proportion, seems to me an indication that one is constantly reflecting on, and reevaluating, his or her aspirations and intentions.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
1. I spent much of yesterday morning sitting in my favourite cafe drinking coffee, writing poetry, drawing and writing in my paper diary. Apart from making me a complete cliche of a humanities student, it reminded me how little I write in my paper diaries these days. Most of the reason for that is that so much of the part of me that is about words and thoughts takes place online. Whereas before, when I had thoughts I would write about them in my diary, I now take them to my blogs. I think this signifies, to a certain extent, an openness that I did not have when I began writing diaries. This openness was hard-won. I used to be a very untrusting person; I didn't trust the people around me to understand my feelings or to react in the right way when I shared them. I credit the internet and the people I've met online with this transformation, whose most important effect has been that I trust other people (both on- and offline) with my feelings, and that I trust myself enough to not collapse when someone misinterprets my meaning or intent when I reveal something of my interior life.

2. Someone on Twitter posted a link to this article about Google+ and it took me while to figure out why I found it extremely irritating. Then I realised it was the smug Twitter evangelising. Don't get me wrong: I love Twitter. But I love Livejournal, and I love Last.fm and I love my forums and I love Youtube and I even love Facebook, and I don't think using one or the other makes me inherently superior. Certain types of sites/social media will suit different people better; I like Livejournal (as I would probably like LJ-clones such as Dreamwidth or Insane Journal) the best because it suits me best for my own online activities and persona. I'm all about the words, reading and writing them. Livejournal's friends page function is perfect for me, as it's the best way to present all the words of others that I want to read, and obviously, being a blogging platform, its purpose is to give me the ability to post my own words online.

But other platforms might suit other people better. I imagine Tumblr really appeals to people who are into picspams and graphics, while Goodreads and Last.fm work really well for people who want to catalogue their reading or listening libraries and connect with people who share their tastes and interests. Evangelists for any type of site or social media forget that the internet is simply a tool, and its value lies in what its users make of it. And that's a matter of personal preference, intention and ability.

3. This led me to think about my opinion of Tumblr. I've had a Tumblr for about a year now, and I post really rarely. I really tried hard to avoid being one of those cane-waving 'get off my lawn' types about it, because I spent so much time defending Twitter to various real-life friends and their scorn ('it's just everyone shouting Facebook statuses at one another!') really irritated me. And yet...every time I went onto my Tumblr dashboard, I'd start to feel anxious and headachey. Everyone just posted too quickly, although I think graphics are pretty, I've never found them as appealling as words, some people just seemed to use their Tumblrs as a sort of extended IM session with artwork and cutesy hashtags, and after about five minutes I'd feel stressed because there seemed like this pressure to be constantly posting and reblogging.

So then I'd avoid Tumblr for another month before giving it another chance. I'd almost got to the point of accepting that it just wasn't for me, and then I tried something different. Instead of viewing the Tumblrs I followed through my dashboard, I switched to reading through the new posts on the few individual Tumblrs that actually interested me. Voila! It worked! No anxiety, no sense of pressure, and no irritation. I'm glad I didn't give up on Tumblr, because my experiences prove my point at 2 that if you want to enjoy a particular form of social media, you need to find a way to use it that works for you.

4. This then sent me spiralling back to point 1. While I'm really happy at the openness and trust that blogging has given me, it's also had one negative effect, which is that I'm pretty much incapable of thinking about anything privately. If I have thoughts or feelings, they need to be shared. But there are a lot of things I've been thinking about recently for which there is literally no place online where it would be appropriate to share them. This is because although I am happy for (and indeed want) certain people to know about these issues, there are others with whom I'd be really uncomfortable sharing them. Short of endlessly PMing [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia or [livejournal.com profile] lucubratae (my go-to counsellors and confessionals), I don't really have anywhere to go. Maybe I should revive my paper diaries.

5. Finally, I had thoughts about shipping issues in Pagan's Daughter. But since no one my flist has even read the book, let alone obsessed over the Pagan Chronicles series for 16 years like me, I thought [livejournal.com profile] pagansfandom was a better place to share them. Count yourselves lucky.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
1. I spent much of yesterday morning sitting in my favourite cafe drinking coffee, writing poetry, drawing and writing in my paper diary. Apart from making me a complete cliche of a humanities student, it reminded me how little I write in my paper diaries these days. Most of the reason for that is that so much of the part of me that is about words and thoughts takes place online. Whereas before, when I had thoughts I would write about them in my diary, I now take them to my blogs. I think this signifies, to a certain extent, an openness that I did not have when I began writing diaries. This openness was hard-won. I used to be a very untrusting person; I didn't trust the people around me to understand my feelings or to react in the right way when I shared them. I credit the internet and the people I've met online with this transformation, whose most important effect has been that I trust other people (both on- and offline) with my feelings, and that I trust myself enough to not collapse when someone misinterprets my meaning or intent when I reveal something of my interior life.

2. Someone on Twitter posted a link to this article about Google+ and it took me while to figure out why I found it extremely irritating. Then I realised it was the smug Twitter evangelising. Don't get me wrong: I love Twitter. But I love Livejournal, and I love Last.fm and I love my forums and I love Youtube and I even love Facebook, and I don't think using one or the other makes me inherently superior. Certain types of sites/social media will suit different people better; I like Livejournal (as I would probably like LJ-clones such as Dreamwidth or Insane Journal) the best because it suits me best for my own online activities and persona. I'm all about the words, reading and writing them. Livejournal's friends page function is perfect for me, as it's the best way to present all the words of others that I want to read, and obviously, being a blogging platform, its purpose is to give me the ability to post my own words online.

But other platforms might suit other people better. I imagine Tumblr really appeals to people who are into picspams and graphics, while Goodreads and Last.fm work really well for people who want to catalogue their reading or listening libraries and connect with people who share their tastes and interests. Evangelists for any type of site or social media forget that the internet is simply a tool, and its value lies in what its users make of it. And that's a matter of personal preference, intention and ability.

3. This led me to think about my opinion of Tumblr. I've had a Tumblr for about a year now, and I post really rarely. I really tried hard to avoid being one of those cane-waving 'get off my lawn' types about it, because I spent so much time defending Twitter to various real-life friends and their scorn ('it's just everyone shouting Facebook statuses at one another!') really irritated me. And yet...every time I went onto my Tumblr dashboard, I'd start to feel anxious and headachey. Everyone just posted too quickly, although I think graphics are pretty, I've never found them as appealling as words, some people just seemed to use their Tumblrs as a sort of extended IM session with artwork and cutesy hashtags, and after about five minutes I'd feel stressed because there seemed like this pressure to be constantly posting and reblogging.

So then I'd avoid Tumblr for another month before giving it another chance. I'd almost got to the point of accepting that it just wasn't for me, and then I tried something different. Instead of viewing the Tumblrs I followed through my dashboard, I switched to reading through the new posts on the few individual Tumblrs that actually interested me. Voila! It worked! No anxiety, no sense of pressure, and no irritation. I'm glad I didn't give up on Tumblr, because my experiences prove my point at 2 that if you want to enjoy a particular form of social media, you need to find a way to use it that works for you.

4. This then sent me spiralling back to point 1. While I'm really happy at the openness and trust that blogging has given me, it's also had one negative effect, which is that I'm pretty much incapable of thinking about anything privately. If I have thoughts or feelings, they need to be shared. But there are a lot of things I've been thinking about recently for which there is literally no place online where it would be appropriate to share them. This is because although I am happy for (and indeed want) certain people to know about these issues, there are others with whom I'd be really uncomfortable sharing them. Short of endlessly PMing [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia or [livejournal.com profile] lucubratae (my go-to counsellors and confessionals), I don't really have anywhere to go. Maybe I should revive my paper diaries.

5. Finally, I had thoughts about shipping issues in Pagan's Daughter. But since no one my flist has even read the book, let alone obsessed over the Pagan Chronicles series for 16 years like me, I thought [livejournal.com profile] pagansfandom was a better place to share them. Count yourselves lucky.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
I always seem to find myself defending slash. I don't really know why. I don't write slash (I don't write fic of any kind). I read it extremely rarely. On first glance, I don't appear to have any horse in this race. But post like this one from Gav Reads never fail to rub me the wrong way. (To be fair to Gav, he wrote this post as part of an ongoing discussion he was having with [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall and others at Eastercon, and I think it comes from a curious-trying-to-understand-slash rather than a this-stuff-is-icky-why-do-you-write-it position.) [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall's response goes some way in explaining why this issue matters to me. In one of her comments, she sets out the argument in relation to slash at its most positive and socially responsible:

But a lot of people find that it is liberating. I know queer people who have found enormous solace in slash as they go through the coming out process and beyond. (I kind of AM such people). And I know straight women who have found it a space to shed inhibitions and create for themselves something mainstream culture is not very interested in providing for them, and they have felt liberated by that. It's pretty presumptuous to say that they're wrong about they're own experience.

Of course, people write slash for a variety of reasons, and I've often felt that some of the unease or disgust people feel with it is due to the fact that it is a form of writing mainly written by and for women (cf romance novels and chick-lit), and in particular as an expression of female sexuality. It's indefensible to criticise it (at least it alone) on grounds of implausibility, as a relationship between, say, Harry and Draco is equally as implausible as one between Draco and Ginny (or, indeed, a gen AU where Harry and Draco have traded places).

Ultimately, I think the reason why I constantly leap to the defence of slash is because I am someone who has spent a lifetime engaging with the written word. Nothing gives me greater pleasure. My way of engaging with words is to analyse, discuss, review and study. If slash writers' way is to write m/m porny fanfic, who am I to stop them?
dolorosa_12: (Default)
I always seem to find myself defending slash. I don't really know why. I don't write slash (I don't write fic of any kind). I read it extremely rarely. On first glance, I don't appear to have any horse in this race. But post like this one from Gav Reads never fail to rub me the wrong way. (To be fair to Gav, he wrote this post as part of an ongoing discussion he was having with [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall and others at Eastercon, and I think it comes from a curious-trying-to-understand-slash rather than a this-stuff-is-icky-why-do-you-write-it position.) [livejournal.com profile] sophiamcdougall's response goes some way in explaining why this issue matters to me. In one of her comments, she sets out the argument in relation to slash at its most positive and socially responsible:

But a lot of people find that it is liberating. I know queer people who have found enormous solace in slash as they go through the coming out process and beyond. (I kind of AM such people). And I know straight women who have found it a space to shed inhibitions and create for themselves something mainstream culture is not very interested in providing for them, and they have felt liberated by that. It's pretty presumptuous to say that they're wrong about they're own experience.

Of course, people write slash for a variety of reasons, and I've often felt that some of the unease or disgust people feel with it is due to the fact that it is a form of writing mainly written by and for women (cf romance novels and chick-lit), and in particular as an expression of female sexuality. It's indefensible to criticise it (at least it alone) on grounds of implausibility, as a relationship between, say, Harry and Draco is equally as implausible as one between Draco and Ginny (or, indeed, a gen AU where Harry and Draco have traded places).

Ultimately, I think the reason why I constantly leap to the defence of slash is because I am someone who has spent a lifetime engaging with the written word. Nothing gives me greater pleasure. My way of engaging with words is to analyse, discuss, review and study. If slash writers' way is to write m/m porny fanfic, who am I to stop them?
dolorosa_12: (una)
A couple of weeks ago, my sister graduated from university. She did the same undergrad course that I did, Arts at Sydney Uni, although she did a regular BA (her major ended up being Modern History), while I did Honours in English Literature. The way Sydney does graduations is that you graduate with all the people who did your major, or Honours in your subject area, so I graduated with the English Lit people, and she graduated with the History people.

I was talking to her about her ceremony (which I missed, due to being on the other side of the world), and she mentioned that the speaker (a philosopher) had done 'a great speech where he said that Arts was just as good as Science'.

I was greatly amused. At my graduation (although I have some vague memory of Malcolm Turnbull being there in some official capacity), the speaker was also a philosopher. He was, I suspect, the same one who talked at Mim's graduation, and I'm pretty sure he gave a version of the same speech. But I interpreted his speech in a very different manner.

To me, his speech was quite insulting. Patronising, almost. 'Arts is just as good as Science! Don't believe anyone who says that it has no value! Don't worry, none of you will end up working in McDonalds!'

My problem was that I didn't see the need to reference Science at all. We were Arts graduates. (Remarkably successful ones, too. Of the people who did Honours with me, I can think of six PhD students - one in Cambridge and one in Oxford - a couple of succesfful journalists, some public servants, one who ended up working in finance, one who went into advertising and a couple who ended up teaching. Not a McDonalds worker in sight!) Saying we were 'just as good as Science students' implies already that there's some need for reassurance, that we, on our graduation day, might feel unworthy. I actually found it deeply insulting. If you can't talk about the importance of the humanities without it being at the expense of science, you obviously don't think very highly of the humanities to begin with.

My reaction - and my sister's opposite one - is obviously entirely down to perception and personality. I'm a pessimist who always suspects people are secretly mocking or despising her. She's an optimist with a 'don't worry, everyone will love you' attitude. Her glass tends to be half-full, while mine is always half-empty.

But it was amusing to see our different personalities laid bare in such a direct manner.
dolorosa_12: (una)
A couple of weeks ago, my sister graduated from university. She did the same undergrad course that I did, Arts at Sydney Uni, although she did a regular BA (her major ended up being Modern History), while I did Honours in English Literature. The way Sydney does graduations is that you graduate with all the people who did your major, or Honours in your subject area, so I graduated with the English Lit people, and she graduated with the History people.

I was talking to her about her ceremony (which I missed, due to being on the other side of the world), and she mentioned that the speaker (a philosopher) had done 'a great speech where he said that Arts was just as good as Science'.

I was greatly amused. At my graduation (although I have some vague memory of Malcolm Turnbull being there in some official capacity), the speaker was also a philosopher. He was, I suspect, the same one who talked at Mim's graduation, and I'm pretty sure he gave a version of the same speech. But I interpreted his speech in a very different manner.

To me, his speech was quite insulting. Patronising, almost. 'Arts is just as good as Science! Don't believe anyone who says that it has no value! Don't worry, none of you will end up working in McDonalds!'

My problem was that I didn't see the need to reference Science at all. We were Arts graduates. (Remarkably successful ones, too. Of the people who did Honours with me, I can think of six PhD students - one in Cambridge and one in Oxford - a couple of succesfful journalists, some public servants, one who ended up working in finance, one who went into advertising and a couple who ended up teaching. Not a McDonalds worker in sight!) Saying we were 'just as good as Science students' implies already that there's some need for reassurance, that we, on our graduation day, might feel unworthy. I actually found it deeply insulting. If you can't talk about the importance of the humanities without it being at the expense of science, you obviously don't think very highly of the humanities to begin with.

My reaction - and my sister's opposite one - is obviously entirely down to perception and personality. I'm a pessimist who always suspects people are secretly mocking or despising her. She's an optimist with a 'don't worry, everyone will love you' attitude. Her glass tends to be half-full, while mine is always half-empty.

But it was amusing to see our different personalities laid bare in such a direct manner.
dolorosa_12: (una)
I've been insanely busy recently, as our registration pieces (10,000 words of thesis+annotated bibliography+detailed thesis outline/plan+training report) are due early next week and I've been editing like a demon. I've been incredibly stressed about the whole thing, mainly because I have no self-confidence and don't trust myself to write well. Basically, my mood swings depending on how recently I've met with my supervisor, who is very good at calming me down as well as gently nudging me in the right direction. Well, yesterday, we met up and she told me she was pleased with my work (she also said that I 'write beautifully', which made me extremely happy), so I'm basking in glory, and will probably continue to do so for at least...well, two days.

But that's not really why I'm posting. I've been having a lot of rambly thoughts about about my own idiosyncratic form of pseudo-synaesthesia. I don't hear colours or smell numbers or anything like that, but I do feel words, if that makes any sense.

I sense that this won't make any sense )

I don't have many links for you today, besides this one from Justine Larbalestier about long-running series and their appeal, and this one from Kristin Cashore about 'home' in the Buffyverse. They're both pretty interesting.

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] get_medieval has just begun the commentary repost of my favourite arc. This comic is awesome, and if you don't believe me, read the TV Tropes page. It's aliens+medieval France, and I adore it.
dolorosa_12: (una)
I've been insanely busy recently, as our registration pieces (10,000 words of thesis+annotated bibliography+detailed thesis outline/plan+training report) are due early next week and I've been editing like a demon. I've been incredibly stressed about the whole thing, mainly because I have no self-confidence and don't trust myself to write well. Basically, my mood swings depending on how recently I've met with my supervisor, who is very good at calming me down as well as gently nudging me in the right direction. Well, yesterday, we met up and she told me she was pleased with my work (she also said that I 'write beautifully', which made me extremely happy), so I'm basking in glory, and will probably continue to do so for at least...well, two days.

But that's not really why I'm posting. I've been having a lot of rambly thoughts about about my own idiosyncratic form of pseudo-synaesthesia. I don't hear colours or smell numbers or anything like that, but I do feel words, if that makes any sense.

I sense that this won't make any sense )

I don't have many links for you today, besides this one from Justine Larbalestier about long-running series and their appeal, and this one from Kristin Cashore about 'home' in the Buffyverse. They're both pretty interesting.

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] get_medieval has just begun the commentary repost of my favourite arc. This comic is awesome, and if you don't believe me, read the TV Tropes page. It's aliens+medieval France, and I adore it.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
While I was talking on Skype with my mother on Sunday, we had a minor disagreement about something we've argued about in the past. After a day of reflection, I can see why we argued: she misunderstood something which I had said.

We've been spending most our lives living in an introverts' paradise )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
While I was talking on Skype with my mother on Sunday, we had a minor disagreement about something we've argued about in the past. After a day of reflection, I can see why we argued: she misunderstood something which I had said.

We've been spending most our lives living in an introverts' paradise )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Following through with my Michael Ende kick, I read The Neverending Story. (You might be surprised that I hadn't read it before now, but my childhood reading was very, very Australian.) I was considering posting a review-type post over on Wordpress, but my thoughts were too incoherent and scattered to really do the book justice.

However, while I was reading, something odd struck me. A few days ago, I'd been having a conversation in #btts about Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and made a throwaway remark along the lines of 'Sorry I can't switch off the literary analysis. I'm such a literature student, it's wired in me.' One of my friends said, 'Well, that's excellent that your studies *encourage* your literary analysis impulses. When I was a student, I couldn't bear to think about books that way.'

I thought I was exaggerating. Then I looked at my notebook (well, two small squares of my journal), which, by the end of the three hours it took for me to read The Neverending Story, were filled with tiny, cramped writing in green pen. Clearly, the urge to analyse texts is inescapable for me.

So, I thought I'd treat you to the raw product - what my mind spews out as I'm reading a new book. It's probably gibberish. Oh well, I'll put it behind a cut. Also, I should warn that there are spoilers.

As they say in the Ronnese )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Following through with my Michael Ende kick, I read The Neverending Story. (You might be surprised that I hadn't read it before now, but my childhood reading was very, very Australian.) I was considering posting a review-type post over on Wordpress, but my thoughts were too incoherent and scattered to really do the book justice.

However, while I was reading, something odd struck me. A few days ago, I'd been having a conversation in #btts about Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and made a throwaway remark along the lines of 'Sorry I can't switch off the literary analysis. I'm such a literature student, it's wired in me.' One of my friends said, 'Well, that's excellent that your studies *encourage* your literary analysis impulses. When I was a student, I couldn't bear to think about books that way.'

I thought I was exaggerating. Then I looked at my notebook (well, two small squares of my journal), which, by the end of the three hours it took for me to read The Neverending Story, were filled with tiny, cramped writing in green pen. Clearly, the urge to analyse texts is inescapable for me.

So, I thought I'd treat you to the raw product - what my mind spews out as I'm reading a new book. It's probably gibberish. Oh well, I'll put it behind a cut. Also, I should warn that there are spoilers.

As they say in the Ronnese )

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