The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Caelica LXIX
By Fulke Greville

When all this All doth pass from age to age,
And revolution in a circle turn,
Then heavenly justice doth appear like rage,
The caves do roar, the very seas do burn,
  Glory grows dark, the sun becomes a night,
  And makes this great world feel a greater might.

When love doth change his seat from heart to heart,
And worth about the wheel of fortune goes,
Grace is diseas'd, desert seems overthwart,
Vows are forlorn, and truth does credit lose,
  Chance then gives law, desire must be wise,
  And look more ways than one, or lose her eyes.

My age of joy is past, of woes begun,
Absence my presence is, strangeness my grace;
With them that walk against me, is my sun;
The wheel is turn'd; I hold the lowest place,
  What can be good to me since my love is,
  To do me harm, content to do amiss?


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "Poetry makes something happen," he writes. "The musical sounds turn out to be going somewhere, toward some discovery or action -- sometimes even toward the action of tossing the eloquence or images aside, like a raft that has served its purpose." Greville, who was roughly contemporary with Shakespeare, "tapers from a doomsday vision to a love affair that is 'amiss.'" This dwindling to the personal, writes Pinsky, is a form of confession.

Relatively peaceful day yesterday despite lots of running around and ending up with a murderous headache as a result (discovery: taking four Advil plus an Excedrin enables me to cope for a few hours, now I must ask my doctor what my risk is of destroying my stomach and liver by doing so). Older son had stayed overnight at my father's, so apaulled and I went together to the parents' learning day at younger son's Hebrew school (theme: tzedakah and how Maimonides' suggestion that it is better not to put your name on your donations does not apply if you want to endow a new wing for the congregation, and how gemilat chasadim may not apply to Palestinians living on the wrong side of the wall differences of opinion in Reform Judaism on charity and justice). The parents and kids together made "shema pillows" for the aged and infirm in Israel, then I ran home during the movie portion to move laundry so we could go pick up my father and older son and all go out to brunch at IHOP.

During the course of eggs and pancakes, we discovered that younger son had completely ripped his braces wire free on one side, so after a quick call to the orthodontist who fortunately was working until two yesterday, we rushed down to get that repaired. Since we were on the part of Rockville Pike right near the newly renovated Strathmore Hall, we went to see the grounds. It turned out that the Baltimore Symphony was rehearsing and that people could walk into the upper balcony and observe, which was very lovely. After that, we came home so I could do some work, older son could do some homework and younger son could "clean his room" (which generally means discovering old treasures under the bed he'd forgotten about, then leaving those out on the floor instead of whatever was on the floor previously).

Last night we tried to watch Ray and discovered that two of the four DVD players in the house (three of which are built into computers) would not play the dual-sided disc, including the one attached to the television. Has anyone else had this problem? Do I try to bring it back and exchange it or what? Instead we watched the extended, unrated King Arthur which I enjoyed enormously but will not risk trying to justify here beyond "Mmm, Ioan and Keira and Clive," because really that movie should have been named Some Fantasy Roman Epic-Thingie.

That LJ friends collage thingie won't load for me, which is kind of a bummer. Instead some links. First a trivial but fun one from vertigo_66: "Actor Tom Sizemore Fails Drug Test with Fake Penis". I know I should probably be more concerned about the ramifications of a man with such a problem that he'd buy a fake penis and fill it with someone else's urine, but this had me howling aloud for several minutes. On a more serious note, all_ahoo pointed out this article on how "Reilly Now Says He Backs Gay Marriage": "This is not a change in my beliefs. I have been consistent," he said. "What has changed is that May 17 came and went, and people entered into one has been hurt." On the one hand I think he's an idiot for not taking this stand in the first place (who in hell did he think would be hurt?!) but on the other, if more idiots putting words in the mouths of Jesus and the Founding Fathers would notice that no one has been hurt, not even their own little terrified heterosexual couplings, while many people have been helped, things would be so much better.

And now I am going to rant about a rant. I can't decide whether I would be happier just keeping my mouth shut, unfriending everyone involved in certain types of fannish meta and going about my business in my own little corner, or if it is worth speaking up because every time I do rant, I discover that there are other people who have been intimidated into silence by the self-proclaimed People Who Know Everything, who are willing to issue edicts on everything from The Only Possible Ways To Have Anal Sex to The Only Proper Way To RP. I would like to note that I get as annoyed by badfic as the next person, I do wish certain people would get a beta or run a spellcheck before posting, I have no desire to see Legolas/Mary Sue #6349 in any community I read. But what I am reacting to is this statement: "All fiction is judged by the same standard, regardless of the motives or intentions of the writer."

The column, which I've seen cited all over my friends page as the greatest thing since RPS, is here. It makes some comments which I think are fair, like the fact that there's a difference between saying "there are things in this story that I didn't love" versus a flame, when it comes to leaving feedback in an open forum -- there's some gray area, just as there is some gray area with fan fiction itself (is it creative or is it plagiarism? in a lot of cases that really depends on where you're standing). But then the writer makes that declaration about fictional standards, which strikes me as laughable on so many levels that I would in fact laugh at it except inasmuch as it does actual damage to people.

There aren't objective standards for fiction, period. We all know this. I can't stand Jane Austen and can give you a list of problems I have with characterization, dramatic pacing and reversion to the status quo in her novels, using words like "reified discourse" and bringing to bear all the theory I learned in academia; that wouldn't change the fact that she is an enormously important writer whose work has touched millions of lives. Similarly, on a smaller scale, there's a very big name Harry/Draco writer whom I can't stand because her Draco is so OOC as to be unrecognizable to me, but there are several hundred people on LiveJournal alone who disagree with me. Now, I do not doubt my own taste or critical faculties: if I wanted to, I could go cite 20 examples from Rowling to demonstrate why I think the leaps being made with the character are illogical. That would be applying my standards for what I think is important in fanfic, which I think is a perfectly fine activity if you're into it and your reader is into it. Certain readers here and I have had some interesting arguments about Snape, for instance, and what can and cannot be justified with canon, and I don't take it at all personally that the moments they choose to focus upon are not the same as the ones I choose to focus upon.

There's a certain elasticity for criticism of all fiction. Ayn Rand's writing pisses some people off because it's polemical, but that's exactly why other people adore her. Ditto Nancy Kress and the Beggars in Spain books. Does anyone judge a movie like Primary Colors, which has an obvious political thrust and real world parallels, the same way they judge The Candidate, which does not? ...okay, there are undoubtedly people who do, and again, that's fine. But they don't have to. There is no one ordering critics to use the same evaluative standards for what makes these films good drama. There is no one saying that any critic can't say "I liked Travolta's Clinton impersonation." There is no one insisting on a single set of objective standards.

With amateur fiction -- particularly fan fiction that a goodly number of people feel is stealing, legally and morally, from other writers -- the idea that all fiction is or should be judged by the same standard is preposterous. There are some people writing fan novels as practice for writing original novels, who want every possible critique they can get, and will read and take those seriously and thank the critics; there are other people who got an idea while they were falling asleep and typed it up to stick on a web page for their ten best friends, unbetaed, who have never for a moment considered themselves "WRIHTERS" (to be pronounced like "AHHCTORS"). The idea that reviewers are doing some big public service by sending negative comments to fans who decided to write something down for fun, and said that that was exactly what they were doing, is incredibly pretentious and arrogant. No reader or reviewer is under any obligation to ego-stroke or say they loved something they thought sucked. We all have browse-back capabilities and delete buttons.

There are a hell of a lot of people who write fan fiction as a social activity. They don't think of themselves as writers; they aren't participating in the exchange of ideas about writing so much as exploring characters. There's a different feel to writing an essay about why you love Ron Weasley versus writing a fictional character sketch of Ron Weasley. And if you've written it just to see if there's anyone out there who agrees with you, if you've written it just to express the thoughts to the handful of friends you know read your journal and you weren't really thinking about who might surf in from friends-friends, it is absolutely your right to decide that you don't want to read criticism. Again, I'm not equating all criticism with flames, but when you're new to this sort of forum (I don't care whether you're sixteen or sixty), any negative comment from a random stranger can seem very hurtful.

Why is it that people who don't like what they consider to be badfic can't just skip over it instead of dictating to other writers and readers what they are obligated to produce and enjoy? It makes me want to stop participating in fan fiction, and not because I personally avoid concrit -- I love working with betas I trust and getting criticism by readers who are obviously interested and involved with the subject matter. And I've been doing this for long enough that if someone wanders in from another corner of a fandom and leaves me a list of things they hated, I try to ignore it if it makes no sense to me. But that bit I posted last night, for instance? I didn't post it for concrit. I'm not going to fall apart if someone criticizes it, but I posted it because it fell into the category of unfinished business, a few people have said they'd like to see even fragments set in that universe, I'm interested in other people's take on what Bellatrix was like when she was younger and if Snape knew and/or liked her...I will never revise it, because it's part of a bigger story that is never getting finished, in a universe I created with someone else and in which I don't write anymore. I'm not sure that serious, detailed concrit would serve any purpose. If someone wants to take the time to leave it, fine, but that fiction is not there for the purpose of improving my writing or any lofty goal whatsoever.

So if someone tells me that she wrote down a story for fun and is willing to share, not because she thinks of herself as "a writer," not because she's interested in the critical process...well, that is her right and her business. There is, it seems to me, a staggering lack of respect for fans who say they're not in this for the criticism and could people kindly withhold their negativity about something that is a hobby and not a vocation. Insisting that someone MUST listen to someone else's negative opinions is astonishingly arrogant. "Assume every writer is here to learn, and willing to listen" -- no, because they're not, and it's terribly condescending to say that they are or should be. "Banning critical feedback merely to coddle anyone's ego, or spare a writer's feelings, does more harm than good, and undermines the entire fan fiction community" -- again, bullshit! If the fan fiction community as a whole can be damaged because someone chose to praise a newbie rather than trample her first story, then the fan fiction community is pretty pathetic indeed. As for "If a writer has the courage to share her work in a public forum (and websites—unless they are password protected—are public!), then she can use that same courage to receive critical feedback without falling apart, and in fact use it to improve her work. That strength springs from the same well, and we should be helping people reach for it, instead of keeping them forever in the dark where they will never learn and improve..." Again, this depends on interest and intent, and while technically web sites are "public" (because I for instance have no idea how to lock one), they are not inherently a call for criticism any more than wearing a new hat to a party is an invitation for people to announce how much they hate it. Nobody is kept "forever in the dark" except by her own choice, and if that IS her's her hobby. It's her business. If you want her to respect your fannish choices, how hard is it to respect hers?

Still here? In that case I shall end with ingridmatthews's shoe quiz.
You scored as You're Sensible Flats. You are Sensible Flats. Practical and comfort-oriented, you'd rather go through life without the pain of a pulled arch. Still, you might want to walk on the wild side a litte more.


You're Sensible Flats


You Are Flip-Flops


You Are Classic Pumps


You are Quirky Shoes


You Are Sexy Heels


What Kind of Shoes Are You?
created with

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded