Wednesday, March 05, 2008

bragging rights

I should have bookmarked a Livejournal post I found one day from some guy who believed that Lord of the Rings had tainted fantasy literature by so narrowly defining the terms of fantasy narratives that the genre had turned deathly dull. I agreed completely with his point, but I had trouble with the self-importance that attended his Livejournal entry. “Now, I know I’ve written controversial posts before…” he states.

I wondered: On what exactly? The limits of the twenty-sided die? Alternative mapping units beyond the hexagon? But I envied the guy’s self-assurance and his authority inside a limited community. I did not envy the Amish-style beard.

Since I don’t belong to a fantasy/WoW/Second Life community,* what I need is something insignificant I can brag about. Like the time I hated Bryan Adams for his conduct and not his music. Or the fact that I write hundred-word record reviews for twenty bucks a pop. That’s something I enjoy doing, but in no way do I believe that Cat Power is reading my hundred-word review of Jukebox and bursting into tears. And why would she? I was very complimentary. On the other hand, I’d like it if Good Charlotte and Avril Lavigne read what I wrote about them, because then maybe, oh maybe, they would stop it. I should send them clippings with the note: From a Fan!!! Then they would read my reviews and conclude that I may be a fan, but it is not of them.

That’s what I’ll do. Then I’ll tell people that I personally sent popular musicians Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte press clippings that I had written, and because of that they turned to the Lord, or blew up, or both? Let me tell you about my significant role in the transformation of Avril Lavigne into an atomized Christian.

Hey (hey), You (you)
I don’t like your false god

Hey (hey), You (you)
I think you need a new one

Hey (hey), You (you)
Jesus be the right god

Hey (hey), You (you)
Let’s all blow up and praise Him
The concept’s a little laboured, but the tune’s catchy enough.

*Full disclosure: I do maintain a weird little bow-legged buck-toothed fat guy in a medieval shirt in Second Life, but I haven't been to visit him in a few months. I feel more like a virtual sugar daddy to him than the animating meatspace will behind his crazy virtual life.


Nate said...

It's scary to me how much your faux-Avril lyric sounds like an actual Christian song.

i am the diva said...


i think i threw up a tiny bit in my mouth...

but your right, it is catchy.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

I always say I'm not the comic book guy, and then someone starts on about how trilogies are the only proper way to write fantasies, and I want to kill. Of course, these same dudes probably haven't eaten fresh vegetables or seen sunshine since they moved out of mom's, so I guess my ire and geekery is less comic book guyish than theirs.

Cloudesley said...

first time I heard that Black-eyed Peas song "pump it" I thought it was a Christian tune. That line "monkey business outrageous" I figured was pro-creationism and I thought the chorus "pump it"...[which was reminiscent of "thump it" as in bible thumping and actually at times sounded like they were saying "pulpit"... not to mention the rest of the chorus that finishes with]
"And pray, oh oh oh oh
pray, oh oh oh oh(Yo yo)"

palinode said...

Nate - If there's one adjective for most Praise Music out there, it's "predictable". If there's another adjective out there, it's "Agh holy fuck why?"

diva - Try shouting it out at home. You'll never get it out of your head.

bpcook - Henry Kissinger once said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that university politics were so tendentious because there was so little at stake. Likewise, people argue the fine points of these things because there's no proving ground beyond the social battlefield of fantasy fans.

I'm certainly a fan of some fantasy books, but as with most genre writing, it's usually the deviations from the norm that give the greatest pleasure. Anyway, an insistence on formal rules in fiction says more about the speaker than the work.

cloudesley - Now I'm mentally rewriting Black Eyed Peas songs as Christian tunes. "My Humps" would be a hard sell for the Jesus crowd. But maybe you're on to something - could it be that their cheap funk is actually crypto-Christian groove?

lotus07 said...

It may be a bit of an inside joke and a glimpse into your past that you reference 20 sided dice and hexagon mapping.

I leaned more about team building and back stabbing playing D&D than I ever did by going to college and life in the cube farm.

Gary Gygax passed away this week. I think the dude deserves as much blame / praise as Tolkien for changing the fantasy landscape. For better or worse depends on how you roll the dice.

Ozma said...

Animating meatspace will. Heh.

Jack said...

So do you people hold as much disdain for Asimov as you do Tolkien, what, with his robot rules and all?

I think I could put a few more commas in that sentence.....

palinode said...

lotus07 - Yeah, my references kind of give me away. I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends when I was twelve or thirteen. I was usually the Dungeon Master, and all my friends were a bunch of cheating jerks. I mean, they were resourceful players. Too bad about Gary Gygax, isn't it? I could never get over that guy's name.

Ozma - If I can give you one 'heh' per post, then my job is done.

Jack - I don't think anyone here is expressing disdain for Tolkein. I don't know where my childhood would have been without his books. If there's any disdain here, it's for the tendency of people to claim ownership over an imaginary world and try to trample the imaginations of others in the process. These people are interpretive tyrants and need a good slapping.

Also, I think there's a categorical difference between the stylistic and narrative choices of Tolkein's work, and the formal rules that Asimov devised to allow artificial beings to operate in a world with humans. On the other hand, Asimov kind of set the standard for science fiction in much the same way that Tolkein did for fantasy - you can't really get away from either when you're talking about fantasy or SF.

Jack said...

Palinode, You are right. In my haste I read Tolkein instead of "Lord of the Rings".

Lazy writers beget lazy readers.

palinode said...

Jack - Gotcha. I just didn't want you or other visitors to my site to get the impression that we were piling up on someone and kicking them around for our pleasure. The Palace is strictly a class enterprise.