Friday, December 29, 2006

Borrowed Time

On ghost’s question regarding the origin of the (social) perception as evil those who attempt to extend life beyond its natural span:
My answer: "D) Social conflict. Lotsa transhumanists (etc) and other such becoming more popular (or perhaps better organized anomalies in a large world). Who are their enemies, exactly?"

The enemies of transhumanists would likely be those with whom the unnaturally extended (do cosmetic surgery and Viagra count?) are in competition for resources and viable mates.

I once tossed out a tongue-in-cheek theory that there’s some sort of programmed attrition in forty-something women, but I wasn’t altogether kidding:

Subject: My other theory:
From: DawnCoyote
Date: Nov 21 2005 4:24AM

There's a natural attrition of our romantic and familial connections that hits women in the early 40's. It's programmed into our genes, and serves several purposes:

1) It allows the male to find a younger, more fertile mate and produce more offspring.

2) The female might train younger males in how to pleasure their future mates. The sexual prowess young males learn from the older females allows them to keep their mates happy, thereby creating a positive and nurturing environment that supports survival of their offspring.

3) Once the female is past the age where she is a useful trainer, her lack of connections make it easy for the tribe to deny her resources necessary to her survival, thereby ridding the group of a non-contributing member, and preserving resources for the rest of teh tribe. The fact that her connections have atrophied allows the group to do this with little psychological distress. Call it the "Harridan Factor."
#2 was a joke, but it might be accurate to say that women experiencing that crisis might seek opportunities to be care-givers, thereby returning value to the tribe in exchange for the resources they consume. I suspect that the mid-life crisis is an adaptive event that urges both males and females to pursue new opportunities for reproduction and/or nurturing of dependant children, or to withdraw from competition for resources. Perhaps the will to live atrophies to facilitate this.

There’s some speculation that during the Inquisitions, older women executed as witches were targeted because they were no longer productive and thus were a drain on a community’s resources. I’m also thinking of Lester Burnham in American Beauty, and both Nate Fischer and his father in Six Feet Under (all creations of Alan Ball), and how each of the main characters dies during a mid-life crisis. “You’re lucky to be dead,” Claire says to the ghost of her father. “No more responsibilities . . . No more waiting to die.”

In literature and film, the effort to preserve life beyond a natural span is often characterized as parasitic or exploitative of individuals or the community (Dracula, for example). Those who successfully extend life without a concomitant contribution to the survival or expansion of the tribe would be a drain on its resources, and therefore parasitic, and therefore easily vilified.

As to "2) I have dreamed of dying in my sleep perhaps thousands of times with great variability and realism (only comparably realistic dream of flying is a rarity for me, though its a fair trade). Probably correct interpretation is simply I think about death a fair bit, but I'd be interested in any thoughts on offer."

I dunno. It's hard to say without knowing how you felt about the dreams. Maybe a preoccupation with transformation, or maybe something like this.

Apologies for answering in a different locale, but I'm self-exiled from the fray, and I'm fond of my little theory.


august said...

Yeah, for whatever reason, I'm happier to post here as well.

I don't understand all ghost's options on 1 (who is Dawkins?) I agree not E (i.e. I think original point sound).

A lot of cartoon villains are extensions of real-life ones. Dawn's thoughts on gender relevant. Common trope in racial discourse as well ("The Chinese don't play by the rules"). Longevity is transgressive because it is not shared (Marxist in me wants to argue that the cartoon villain masks deep social inequality by treating the "us" as fundamentally egalitarian when we aren't). But I suspect a lot of it is about race as well -- cartoon villains define unnatural.

To 2. More interesting to me than frequency is vividness. Ghost's interest in own death seems self-evident. But dangerous (misleading, oversimplified) to try to generalize to dreams from on fray personality. So just speaking for myself -- most vivid aspects of my dreams tend to be spaces. I have a lot of tidal wave dreams -- I'm scared of tsunamis. But it's the power of the images that lands them in my subconscious -- the sense when the ocean swells that it is actually rising above the land, the way the boundaries of the ocean blur in heavy rain, the way one can feel so isolated on a beach, the tug of water when I go swimming.

LentenStuffe said...

A General Question,

Why does everyone who replies to her try to out-ghost ghost? This interminably silly urge to create the most turgid prose full of endless parentheticals is a symptom of having nothing to say:

Jack & (Jill [went up] the) hill,
To -- catch a pail -- of (water).
J{ack} fell [down & Bro]ke his crown ...

Aint that just a pain in the hole?

Dawkins is Richard ...

topazz said...

ZB: I don't pretend to understand her post, I don't know what it is she's trying to pinpoint. Death is weighing heavy on my mind this week, obviously - and since that appears at least to be one of her themes, I took what I could understand and replied to it.

The fact that my reply likely has absolutely nothing to do with whatever point she's trying to make doesn't bother me. Death is a fascinating subject, you can go off in a million directions with it.

LentenStuffe said...


I should clarify I hadn't you in mind when I wrote that.

Ghost's style is to omit articles, verbs, subjects of the sentence, to have dangling modifiers and predicates and then to complicate this further by introducing parentheticals within parentheticals. Why?

Either she's hiding the fact that she has nothing to say or she's not very interested in communicating. Whichever defines her doesn't interest or concern me, but why is her riddle an inducement to others to write like her?

ghost tries to subvert her audience at the same time as she addresses it. I don't see this as a particularly attractive characteristic, stylistically, philosophically or psychologically.

As to her post, the gist of it could have been expressed in one simply declaractive statement: Why do people try to prolong life?

august said...

ZB if you have a question about what I said, ask. I wrote the way I did because I was in a hurry.

I think ghost's point was that many cartoons represent the quest for immortality as evil. "Immortality" not meaning in a metaphorical way, but rather the idea that I can indeed live forever. There's nothing particularly evil in cartoons about wanting to write a book or have a lot of kids, just in coming up with a potion or Frankenstein.

I said I thought that cartoons were reflections of "enemies" in real life. Dawn pointed out some implications for images of women, and I was trying to continue her thought by saying that I thought the cartoon images were similar to those of Chinese, who are often depicted as sneaky and not playing by the rules.

What's bad about immortality? I think its depicted as bad when the secret is not shared with other people. Doctors who help people live longer are not evil unless they keep secret knowledge to themeselves. Also, evil is depicted as unnatural, as requiring some sneaky or unethical method. So cartoon villains define what is not natural, and make us normal folks therefore seem god-given and ordinary, while those others (Chinese or whoever) are weird, deformed, not helping the group, greedy, etc.

In other words, cartoons depict certain kinds of difference as unnatural and evil, and these depictions have implications for how the viewers then look at the world..

Hi Topazz! I'm pretty death obsessed myself.

LentenStuffe said...


No questions but your second effort was far more lucid. Thanks.

Best to you for the New Year.

Dawn: Your last two posts here were incredible.

JohnMcG said...

It seems to me that belief in evolution, particularly belief that the human race is improving, would be consistent with a belief that a quest for immortality is evil. Why should I hang around and consume resources that could go to the next, superior generation? But I'm not sure that there's a strong correlation between enthusiasm for evolution and negative depictions of immortality.

Richard Dawkins recently published a book critical of religious belief.

If you look at the ghosts's posts from a few years ago, they weren't as hard to get through. My theories on what's changed.

a.) Making the posts more readable takes effort, which is no longer necessary for someone whose reputation precedes him.

b.) Audience selection -- the ghost only wants to deal with intelligent responses; one can qualifiy by being smart enough and putting in the effort to parse her posts.

c.) "Velvet rope effect" -- Whatever takes that much effort to understand must be worthwhile!"

Anonymous said...

John---a corollary, perhaps, to your "velvet rope" theory, is that with a deliberately obscurantist style, one has the luxury of hiding or even revising what one really "meant" in the first place.

Thy Goddess said...

Anon: Nailed it!

Dawn: Agreed with ZB...great posts.

Others: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer [the questions of suicide]." ---Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Relevance: Virtually none.

Shut up.

Keifus said...

LS: I'm with you, except that for whatever reason, ghost's deliberately (or lazily) clouded question brought out Dawn's intriguing and intelligent response. Maybe there was something in there, though I've never bothered to slog for the nuggets. (Yup, I'm being a dick to gaz, but it's a response to the veiled style that I find so insufferably condescending. So I'm not always nice.)

As far as immortality and comic book villains goes, it's the easy answer to the question, "what would you sacrifice everything for?" Ask Faust.

I think that transhumanist ideas tend to be more open-armed.

Dawn: your post made me think of the horrible old Hindu suttee custom. Presumably menopausal women outlive their worth. It reminds me how totally unimpressed I am with human history.

(As for women, don't they hit their sexual peak in middle age? You want to talk cosmic injustice....)


Dawn Coyote said...

Thanks for the responses. I didn’t mean to focus on women, particularly, but on the strain the unproductive place on the tribe’s resources. Certainly women in their sexual prime would have value for certain members of the tribe, so they might not be left out on the ice to die until that and any other services they could perform were exhausted.

Regarding ghostish language: She’s admitted to employing obscure styling in order to dissuade the nonindustrious from responding. I’m putting words in her mouth, now, perhaps. I once accused her of being a poet. She tends to (or used to) densely layer ideas so that they contained secondary and tertiary meanings and reversals. I thought this particularly useful as it drew out such an interesting variety of responses. She’ll also claim laziness. I would dispute the idea that she is deliberately vague in order to leave herself the option of disowning her statements when they become inconvenient. While we all might equivocate a bit at the denouement of our argument, it would take someone particularly disingenuous to plan for that in advance. I might do something like that, but I can’t imagine ghost doing it. It just doesn’t fit.

Keifus said...

So I've been semi-seriously reviewing novels for the last few months now (been doing it without any seriousness for longer), and I have some taste for the oddball. One thing I notice is that it's incumbent on the writer to establish in the reader some measure of faith in his, the writer's, storytelling ability. If you're going subtle, you need to give a reason to believe that there's some deeper meaning than the artist's obvious sketch (or obvious absence of one). How can you tell that Kafka is not insane? That Picasso is not palsied?

Admittedly, some of that faith comes on a meta level, from the opinions of readers. That's the reason I bother to skim ghost at all.

I still get a kick out of Douglas Hofstadter dissing the composer John Cage vis a vis J.S. Bach (in Godel, Escher, Bach--I read 2/3 of it). His argument: Bach's form suggests it's purpose. Cage's, on the other hand, relies on externalities, and is inherently less worthy.

I'm not enjoying elaborating on this, by the way--I'm already an unintentional asshole more often than I prefer--but as far as our ghostie is concerned, it comes down to a brilliance-for-the-effort equation. You're obviously getting more than I am. So I'll suffice to read your interpretation.


Anonymous said...

Dawn---I'm not really asserting disingenuity or some other form of intellectual dishonesty, though there's at least a fair argument for that in a few of the examples I've seen over the years. It may also be game-playing, pot-stirring or even, sometimes, just plain irascibility.

Dawn Coyote said...

Much as I feel a little thrill at the prospect of becoming ghost's spokesperson, I'll have to pass. If I were to agree that her posts sometimes seem motivated by "game-playing, pot-stirring or even, sometimes, just plain irascibility", I'd have to wonder if I was merely just projecting.

august said...

Strongly disagree that ghost's prose hides logical inconsistencies.

Anonymous, you, on the other hand, seem to be accusing ghost of just that even as you claim not to. (You are not asserting that gaz hides behind prose even though you have seen examples?).

It can of course also happen that prose is hard to understand because it describes something difficult to understand. Plenty of people (including me) are fully as hard to follow as ghosts, depending on the post.

Sorry, I get annoyed with the critiques of writing style when they are used to dismiss arguments for the same reason that I get annoyed with misterioso's pedantic corrections. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Anonymous said...

the ghost of a-z here. Fun stuff on my style. They're all fairish points and certainly relevant. I've mentioned most of them in the past. In fact, my posts under the name Jesus_Christ were partly an exploration of those aspects of my posting style by exaggerating my usual tendencies to even purer incomprehensibility. So, in agreeing with the characterization of the style as potentially undesirable in its effects and in possessing knowledge aforethought, I must plead guilty.

I'm a bit (only a bit) like a comic book character myself in having a long written history which might easily offer evidence for differing views. So, worth less, but I offer no new reasons below.

I think there are basically two reasons that I continue to do it, both of which I've posted before:

1) When I usually plead laziness, it's fair to read it as just a hidden insult (readers aren't worth the time, etc). When I think on the occasions I have tried to write simply and clearly to more than a single poster they are my most frustrating fray experiences. I prefer to be wild initially and then try to be a bit clearer one-on-one if anything sticks when I have the time (I didn't in my last thread). I almost never find y'all hard to follow, so if the thing that sticks isn't quite on topic - that's fine. Of course, with some posters I can remain in short-form, regardless.

2) I find most posts quite trite. This includes my own. I was less aware of this in my very early fray history. So my posts tend to be fairly wild. As an example, I thought that "reasonable doubt" post incredibly dull and despite making a fair effort to be communicative with some of you one on one, it was rather unsuccessful. I'd have done better to be wild in that post so I could remain amused while carrying on the primary conversation (or avoiding it, as seemed best).

Anyway, cheers.

To be dull:

"Presumably menopausal women outlive their worth."

So, consider that one usual argument for senescence is that our bodies are not evolved to plan for the point past which we would have likely died in the ancestral environment (e.g., if everyone gets eaten by 30, don't bother with anti-cancer stuff only useful when you're 50). Women die in child birth a fair bit and men can have children throughtout their lives - mightn't these factors seem to suggest men should live longer than women (e.g., still incentive to keep an old man alive)? Of course, most evolutionary tales can be flipped on their head (e.g., if women die a lot from childbirth maybe evolution has been forced to work particularly well not to have too many die for other reasons).

Still, pick your bet, and isn't your intuition the opposite of what happens.

But, that's probably all backwards. Which is another way of saying I buy the Grandmother hypothesis (I skimmmed the Wikipedia article and it looks okay [saves my just rewriting (horrors! - too many parentheses [duh duh DUH! (ba da bum [apologies to schad (and not even keeping track of. . .], but be careful) also lotsa interestingly related animal studies on broader grandmother effects.

So, I certainly have no time to engage in conversation now.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I retract that (shouldn't skim) - don't read the last two paragraphs in wiki which are rather weak for the usual reasons. Hopefully the gist is clear enough to you. Little advantage gained by me at this point in being lazy.

august said...

Well, what I like about a good ghost post is that it's a puzzle, and part of the puzzle is figuring out what the puzzle is. What I don't like is that when somebody gives a wrong answer, they get called a fucking idiot, and then the puzzle becomes why the hell are they (me) idiots? Which is usually less interesting to me than the real puzzle.

Was cranky yesterday. Apologies to the first anon.

Keif -- some examples of language in which clarity of meaning is not the most important element:
"I do"
"shoo be doo be doo"
Lots of poetry, but see especially cummings grasshopper poem (see explanations)
crossword puzzles

Anonymous said...

Dawn---you'd be free of course to "wonder if you were merely projecting". However, at the end of the day you would either be projecting or you would not be. The possibility of projection hardly dispositive in any event as to whether or not the characterization is accurate; nor does your own wish to avoid the appearance of projection make the inquiry void or impracticable as a general matter.

Dawn Coyote said...

The Grandmother hypothesis makes sense. I wonder if ethnic variation in menopause onset and symptoms can be attributed to something other than cultural difference in diet. Isn’t there some recent research showing that girls begin puberty earlier in homes where the father is absent? Perhaps in homes where a woman cares for her grandchildren, symptoms of menopause are forestalled. That might reconcile the Grandmother hypothesis with the cull hypothesis. I’m reaching.

My interest here really stems from my observations of cognitive/emotional effects that seem to occur with the mid-life crisis: shifts in/loss of intimate relationships, shifts in values/interests/goals, withdrawal, loss of motivation, (passive) suicidal impulses. Women, particularly, seem to become more introspective, less social, at this stage. I wonder at the effects of this withdrawal in the ancestral environment, where isolation could be fatal. By “harridan factor”, I was thinking of something like, “leave the food outside the door and don’t fucking bother me” (ten years ago I wrote a short story about how a woman like this was stoned for a witch in 14C Europe). Anyway, just looking for some evolutionary explanation for mid-life…depression(?) (without doing any actual reading).

An aside to whomever: endocrinologist Jerilynn Prior makes a case for using HRT and vitamins to counteract the health impacts of menopause.

Going back to the original question about the pursuit of immortality in villainous types – I like keifus’ answer best: “What would you sacrifice everything for?” Immortality becomes a symbol of ravenous greed -- almost universal among villains. Something about moral relativism, and the threat posed by gods and aliens.

Finally, a story:

Concrete Thinker and Abstract Thinker are walking through a field. Abstract Thinker pulls a needle out of pile of hay and holds it up.

AT: How many angels can dance on the head of this pin?
CT: There’s no such thing as angels.
AT: Idiot! One might say there’s no such thing as the pin, either.
CT: Bitch! There most certainly is a pin. You just pulled it out of that haystack. Here, I’ll stick you with it.
AT: Ouch.
CT: Did I hurt you?
AT: No, you missed me. You hurt that innocent donkey. Let’s move on. How many platelets can dance on the head of a pin?
CT: Platelets can’t dance!
AT: (pokes self with pin) [sigh]. Apparently, I’m awake.
CT: Of course you’re fucking awake. Do I need to slap you?
AT; No need. Bang.

Keifus said...

Dull, but what I returned for:

The usefulness of grandmothers seems to vary by culture. So here's a hypothesis for the board, off the cuff and unresearched: older women become less useful in more agrarian cultures--farming cultures, especially the more populated or more marginal ones, are the ones more likely to send widows to the pyre.

Agrarian human society was necessarily obsessed with fertility. Will the seed take this year? Will the trees produce fruit? This obsession extended to men and women both. (How many crappy novels have I read in which the male tribal leader is judged by his fecundity? How many bad Fisher King analogies in which the leader's viability was tied to the land's?)

The industrial revolution allowed the liberation of women, not only through the usually proferred labor-saving reasons (the leisure time, the reduced need for strong, young backs), but also by breaking the psychological connection between female fertility and the economy.



Yeah, sure. I suppose I want it both ways. I want that higher meaning to be there, I want some extra textual clues and cues that are worth working for. I like context well enough. But as I was lamely arguing, there's some faith involved in that. Usually, it's built by not being broken on the primary, obvious level. (Which is a general observation, OK? Not intended for teh local spirits this time. There are other ways to manipulate expectations, which I concede that gaz uses well enough.)

(The form of a crossword puzzle does suggest its function. And to plug another book no one here has likely read, check out St. Blink puzzling on his ancient acrostic in John Crowley's excellent novel Engine Summer. The grasshopper poem is cute, sort of, like a stop-motion game of boggle.)


Something nice:

Anyone who's going to nickname himself Jesus Christ gets spotted a few extra yards at the get-go. Doing that does suggest the nature of the post: quite likely it's going to be either self-serious enough or self-unserious enough to soften me up for some serious cynical amusement.


Dawn Coyote said...

Anon: To be clear: Yes, I believe some of ghost's post are motivated by "game-playing, pot-stirring or even, sometimes, just plain irascibility," as are my own and those of most of my very favorite posters.

I hesitate to call anyone disingenous without evidence, because it ticks me off when people try to read my mind, so I avoid doing it to others. Also, I agree with august concerning the appeal of ghost's puzzles, and on the communication of difficult ideas.

LentenStuffe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
august said...

dammit long response just got ate

So this will be sadly truncated

Dawn. Problem with resource based analysis is that resources tend to be maldistributed rather than limited. For example, biggest famines often result from gov't policy rather than natural disaster.

I'm not sure if I'm reading Grandmother hypothesis correctly (is there a wikipedia article I missed?), but that would be my critique in a nutshell.

Reading ghost against ghost -- seems to me that evolutionary based analysis of fray behavior is particularly tricky/problematic. Too many levels. We are all basically staring at computer screens, so it's not clear if the natural selection invoved would be for our meat lives, or for our imaginations.

For example, ghost's model of ender post m=3359582. Is the selectivity she identifies an issue of how we are actually attracted to each other in life, or is the more relevant issue how our imaginations have evolved? Or is the situation just so socially conditioned that evolution really isn't going to predict behavior with any sort of precision?

Keif-- I'm all about form. Crossword is a good example. Where I tend to disagree with lots of folks is -- I don't think the conventions/form of a post are settled. I tend to read them more as art than as communication, more like poetry than prose. Which is to say (contra ghost) that I think y'all are more interesting than you first appear.

Am enjoying this discussion...

topazz said...

what's all this talk about menopause and grandmothers? Hey, Chaka Khan is a grandmother, show some respect for god sakes.

Madonna, Sharon Stone and Michelle Pfeiffer are all entering menopause this very moment as we speak - do you think the fact that all three have adopted children recently is somehow connected? Feel free to discuss.

Dawn Coyote said...

ZB: work of fiction/collaborative art project - sure, but “fictional characters”? I think (I hope) we get a sense of people over time, and they become more or less real to us. Nevertheless, I agree that inferring real-life moral or psychological makeup for the sake of passing judgment is presumptuous (and yet we do it all the time).

Is there a contradiction here: “Perhaps we sense deep down that anything more overt would amount to sheer self-deception/inauthenticity on our part” and “I perceive his intentional to be diabolical: he not only wishes to destroy the masks but the beating hearts behind them”

I recall engaging in a long and interesting dialogue on whether or not fray interactions can have an impact on the flesh-and-blood behind the screen, If memory serves, no conclusions were reached, but I became intimately familiar with my own projections. You’ll have to tell me who you mean if you want anything more than a vague response. And what do you mean by “unmask”?

For the record, I think you’re a poor judge of character in the short term, but you seem to improve over time (really, because you’re later judgments generally agree with my own – not 100% yet – I’m still waiting for a couple of reversals).

And, yes - I’m a logophile, too.

august and keifus: The Grandmother Hypotheis. I assume we’re talking hunter-gatherer groups for genetic adaptation, but my whole argument is pretty lame, anyway. I’m happy to move on.

august, I like your refusal to accept conventions, and I’m with you on “y'all are more interesting than you first appear” and on enjoying the discussion. I hope we’ll continue to explore and expand the bounds of form and good taste in the coming months.

keifus: Crowley's Little, Big is one of my favorite fantasy novels. I’ll keep Engine Summer in mind.

Interesting discussion on how one ascertains character/intentions/worth of a poster, and whether or not one ought to rely on others’ opinions as an indicator. Fray-ecology can be counter-intuitive, and one ends up employing various means to get one’s bearings. Concerning ghost’s model for assessing the value of other posters: if one defines “value” as “posters liked by Ender”, then the model works. Though I’ve relied on it on occasion, it’s a little too austere for my taste.

topazz: Hi. Nice to see you.

ghost: Well, I committed the sin for which I so often mock others: inferring causation from corollary (fathers’ absence -> earlier onset of puberty). Clearly, I’m no scientist.

LentenStuffe said...


I see.

My judgments are only correct insofar as they coincide with yours? Which reversals are you awaiting? Schad & Ender, perhaps?

I trust my intuition, though very few of you attain to three-dimensionality. But this is more of an aesthetic/stylistic criticism than a pyschological or moral one. That is why ala Topazz I did not subscribe to the verdict that any poster is only as good as her last post -- again a literary criticism.

The one exception I will make here, and you neglected to include this distinction, in imputing "contradiction", is ciinc. I think stylistically speaking he's managed to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds: He's a true sociopath and no fiction whatsoever. As I say an exception to my rule.

Urq for example does what ciinc tries to do with far more wit, intelligence and stylistic sophistication. So does switters. I mean the subversive taunting of taboos. ciinc falls flat because he is flat. Hope this clarifies.

august said...

Aha. I had totally missed Grandmother hypothesis. So although I think my previous response was interesting, it was also irrelevant.

topazz -- one thing I think you are suggesting is the ways technology changes evolutionary calculus. Also: when you redistribute babies to wealth (instead of, for example, redistributing food to the hungry) things seem rather topsy turvy.

Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan. Let me rock you chaka khan.

I think I said at some earlier point that I thought nics were like brands. My opinions of them are not so much whether I think they were created by good people, but whether I think they are worth reading. Although I am very inconsistent. And i agree with ZB/lentenstuffe that some cases are very, very complicated.

Also, a very few posters have had a serious impact on my meat life. Mary Ann once gave me some advice about writing that got me through my dissertation. It feels a little like tearing down the fourth wall. I'm critiquing myself here -- there's a porousness to posting that I don't fully understand.

ZB/lentenstuffe -- I'm told there's been some interesting recent work on genre -- on the way genre implies action as well as writing. I came across the idea in a paper on prayer texts, which often show up in anthologies of Chinese prose but which also had uses, actions associated with them. Not sure if I'm being clear. Am I ringing any bells?

Dawn Coyote said...

august: This is interesting:

There's a porousness to posting that I don't fully understand . . . the way genre implies action as well as writing. I came across the idea in a paper on prayer texts, which often show up in anthologies of Chinese prose but which also had uses, actions associated with them

Makes me think of the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching, the dynamic nature of the lines, the way the meaning shifts and flows in the text's modeling of interactions.

In Ender’s book club of two years ago, we read a collection of short stories by Ted Chiang. In the title story, Story of Your Life, the protagonist is a linguist who’s growing understanding of an alien language alters her perception of time and allows her to know the future.

ZB: I believe you’re saying that ciinc is not a fiction, but a sociopath on fray. Well, I disagree. He doesn’t even fit the Diagnostic criteria. “Sociopath” (Antisocial personality disorder) is an over-used and misunderstood term. I searched, but was unable to find, diagnostic criteria for ciinc’s affliction. If you're looking for an example of a sociopath, I know a better one.

note to Schad: Do you have any idea how often I go looking for a post containing some vital piece of information, only to find it was in a sub-thread that was flushed with your MBTU? Happy New Year, asshole.

Dawn Coyote said...

addendum (august): I'd love to read a post on Chinese Daoism.

(others): book club, anyone?

Keifus said...

Be interested in that post too, august. (Beats doing my own research, and I always like your presentation.)

Book club? Might as well.