Escape Artists
April 26, 2018, 11:28:01 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4  All
  Print  
Author Topic: PC345: Makeisha In Time  (Read 5798 times)
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2015, 11:04:54 AM »

You know, what's interesting about this thread is the way that it so closely mimics a lot of the conversation around sex and race in the broader world. I'm curious to read more, for example, about why some folks perceive Makeisha as "selfish" or described her quest as purely destructive, simply because it wasn't successful.

I feel that when we have a story with a male protagonist, we don't seem to have the same conversation. Looking back over the recent threads that I've read, it seems to me that when a male character is driven to right wrongs and it costs him his relationships, his livelihood, and his stability, we post about his sacrifice, how noble and tragic he is. I think it's very interesting that when we have a female character who is driven to right global or historical wrongs and it costs her in the same way, we have a conversation about her selfishness. I think it speaks to a double standard, where men are expected to go out and sacrifice and achieve, while women are expected to have more balanced lives, to be relationship and practicality-focused, so it jars when they make other demands.

Personally, I'm really troubled by the idea that there is anything wrong with Makeisha's quest for recognition. It's incredibly unfair to say that she "never seems to mature past the mentality of living for other people's praise and recognition." I don't know your background, RDNinja, but I'm going to say that that's an incredibly privileged position. Assuming that you're white and male - a pretty good, if not foolproof, assumption on a spec fic board - you have never had to look at the world and see your people erased from history. White males can live for themselves, untroubled by the quest for "praise and recognition." For people who have been completely erased from history, told for their entire lives that their people have contributed nothing of worth to the world, the "recognition" part can be very important.

Most importantly, this story is allegory. Seriously. It's an allegory for a real and hideous injustice, a lie that has been perpetrated upon all of us. I think Makeisha is an interesting character with completely realistic motivations, but even if she wasn't, the characters in a tale with an element of allegory sometimes aren't entirely three dimensional - sometimes they're more like 2.3 to 2.7 D. I understand that it's an uncomfortable allegory if you have been the beneficiary of this lie, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
R W H
Extern
*
Posts: 3


« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2015, 04:07:47 PM »

Most importantly, this story is allegory. Seriously. It's an allegory for a real and hideous injustice, a lie that has been perpetrated upon all of us. I think Makeisha is an interesting character with completely realistic motivations, but even if she wasn't, the characters in a tale with an element of allegory sometimes aren't entirely three dimensional - sometimes they're more like 2.3 to 2.7 D. I understand that it's an uncomfortable allegory if you have been the beneficiary of this lie, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.

The story is allegory like a bad Star Trek episode is allegory.  Or, bad Star Trek fanfic, given how Makeisha turns into an omnicompetent Mary Sue in her past lives.  Or (brr) Tumblr fanfic.

That half-assed omnicompetency is what annoys me most about the story, I think.  "Oh, now I'm a pirate queen!  Oh, now I'm going to establish a feminist monarchy!  But they don't believe me, and I can't doooo anything about it!  I'm leaving this horrible world!"  The story mentions two desultory attempts at making a mark, and then she becomes just unable to cope.  Pah.  She should damn well set up and cultivate a secret society dedicated to maintaining these proofs, with a prophecy that in the year N a woman named Makeisha will arrive in X looking like insert description, and she will give them instructions to reveal their hidden knowledge to the world.  The story then ends with Makeisha quitting her job and booking a flight to Europe.  Maybe she will succeed, or maybe she will find out that those are all hallucinations during petit mal seizures.  (Seriously, does no one else see the "Warning: Unreliable Narrator" sign over in the corner?)  But at least the story is moving to some sort of conclusion, whether we will read it or not.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2015, 05:14:40 PM »

Most importantly, this story is allegory. Seriously. It's an allegory for a real and hideous injustice, a lie that has been perpetrated upon all of us. I think Makeisha is an interesting character with completely realistic motivations, but even if she wasn't, the characters in a tale with an element of allegory sometimes aren't entirely three dimensional - sometimes they're more like 2.3 to 2.7 D. I understand that it's an uncomfortable allegory if you have been the beneficiary of this lie, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.

The story is allegory like a bad Star Trek episode is allegory.  Or, bad Star Trek fanfic, given how Makeisha turns into an omnicompetent Mary Sue in her past lives.  Or (brr) Tumblr fanfic.

That half-assed omnicompetency is what annoys me most about the story, I think.  "Oh, now I'm a pirate queen!  Oh, now I'm going to establish a feminist monarchy!  But they don't believe me, and I can't doooo anything about it!  I'm leaving this horrible world!"  The story mentions two desultory attempts at making a mark, and then she becomes just unable to cope.  Pah.  She should damn well set up and cultivate a secret society dedicated to maintaining these proofs, with a prophecy that in the year N a woman named Makeisha will arrive in X looking like insert description, and she will give them instructions to reveal their hidden knowledge to the world.  The story then ends with Makeisha quitting her job and booking a flight to Europe.  Maybe she will succeed, or maybe she will find out that those are all hallucinations during petit mal seizures.  (Seriously, does no one else see the "Warning: Unreliable Narrator" sign over in the corner?)  But at least the story is moving to some sort of conclusion, whether we will read it or not.

First of all, I think the story was very clear about where her multiple competencies came from. Between her childhood and her early adulthood, she used to live entire lives in the past. By the time she was in her twenties, she had probably lived for several hundred years, subjectively, and her multiple competencies made perfect sense to me.

Second, I don't see where you get the idea that she only tried twice, during her second period of giving into the jumps. The story is very clear that between the museum and the conclusion of the story, through the disintegration of her marriage, she goes back to jumping through time frequently. The narrative makes it obvious that she made many attempts, though perhaps only two were detailed.

I also don't think that the idea of starting secret societies would have helped much. The whole point is that the historical record was changed - and this is, in fact, more or less accurate - to minimize the impact of certain cultures as well as women of all cultures. She already had access to a great deal of knowledge. She could tell archeologists where to dig to find her hidden tomb, but that wouldn't change the fact that first, there's a good chance they'd have already found her warrior-queen tomb and re-interpreted its contents to fit their paradigm, and second, how would she convince them? She's setting herself up against the weight of a terribly unjust history of deception and willful misinterpretation. I don't see a lot she could have done in the past to change that. Makeisha was doomed because as much as she can go into the past, she can't change peoples' opinions about it - that's why she reaches for the future instead.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
FireTurtle
Hipparch
******
Posts: 898



« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2015, 10:49:12 PM »

Electric Paladin, thank you so much for articulating (twice, no less!) what I've been struggling with when reading the comments here. In fact, I've been reluctant to comment just because I found the conversation taking a rather trollish and offensive turn. Jkjones, I know you know this, but there is no need to defend this story. It is self-rescuing, just like Makeisha.

I loved the story. It really drew me in. I felt for Makeisha, to have lifetimes of experience and yet only be seen as someone who isn't reliable in her own time. I loved that she didn't just accept either life, that she constantly experimented trying to find a way to merge the two. I also appreciated that this wasn't just a time travel story where the hope gets to go back and score some babes and basically live out the male fantasy. Makeisha lived the life she was given (when she chose) with gusto and also with thought. And yes, a pirate is a thief and a murderer, but a successful pirate has nothing to do with prostitution. She didn't sleep her way to piratical success. She earned it.

As far as grasping the future. Perhaps it was literal. It seems to me, Makeisha was often called out of time during periods of stress, when she was grasping for an answer, etc. Perhaps by seeking a future she is just consenting to live in the present, using her original lifetime to make the changes she wants to see. Gasping the future could just be owning the present. Or it could be a magical wonderful journey out of time. I didn't get the feeling that she wanted to leave her life behind, just perhaps start living as herself and not trying to resurrect her past.

Kudos to Ms Jones. I feel like I'll someday be saying "I was there when it all started at the PodCastle Flash Fiction Contest.."
Logged

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin
benjaminjb
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1389



« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2015, 02:23:30 AM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

since I think it nicely works with your comment about how the comments parallel the story's target. For a certain class of people, there's the obvious truth of received wisdom--gold is money, women and minorities are non-actors in history, slurs can't really hurt people, etc.--and any attempt to change that status quo is (pick one or several): against God's plan (popular with 19th century goldbugs), a slippery slope to thought police or national failure, an overcorrection to a problem that we've already solved (the "yes, slavery was bad, but there's no more racism" point), or, as here, simply something that's trendy. "Trendy" carries its own host of connotations, from "not really true" to "will fade in time" to "just something the eggheads invented to make themselves feel better and to beat us up with."

Now that I think about it, I love that the story gets paralleled in the comments, which is a nice reminder of how the story's promise of something better, something else, is still a ways off, in the future.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2015, 12:38:15 PM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

That's a very good get - kudos! I completely missed that line. You're right, of course. Since when is seeking a better, more accurate understanding of our human history "trendy?" Well, when it's the history of women/people of color, of course. That's "trendy." The history of white men, though, that's just history, not some flash-in-the-pan "trend" in the zeitgeist.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
RDNinja
Extern
*
Posts: 18


« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2015, 04:10:32 PM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

That's a very good get - kudos! I completely missed that line. You're right, of course. Since when is seeking a better, more accurate understanding of our human history "trendy?" Well, when it's the history of women/people of color, of course. That's "trendy." The history of white men, though, that's just history, not some flash-in-the-pan "trend" in the zeitgeist.

If you had read all of what I wrote, you also would have seen where I said that recognizing people of all genders and races in history is a good thing, and an issue that needs to be addressed in real life. But it is trendy at the same time, because it has only gained broad popularity in recent years (especially on the timescale that Makeisha is operating in), and this story in particular was explicitly said to be influenced by an award-winning essay written only a couple of years ago. Would this story and its theme have been as well-received 10 years ago? 30 years ago? Or in the pre-modern eras in which Makeisha spent most of her lives? That's what I mean when I say it's trendy, and it's not meant to imply that the idea is not worth pursuing in general. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a poor, ignorant white man, right?

And thanks for the (very) thinly veiled accusations of racism. It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.

I think it's very telling that when I criticized aspects of the story and Makeisha's choices and character development, no one went to the text to provide counter-points or different interpretations of the actual story. Instead, people assumed I was attacking the idea and philosophy behind the story. I thought it was pretty safe to point out that becoming a Viking pillager or feudal warlord just to get your name in the history books was an objectively immoral thing to do, but apparently not.

So you're right about one thing, ElectricPaladin. This thread does bear a striking resemblance to recent conversations on race in the broader world. Specifically, it reminds me of the debate surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre, in which people lined up to make excuses for the crimes of mass-murdering sociopaths (of color), by insisting they were goaded into it by the racism of white men.

Logged
benjaminjb
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1389



« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2015, 05:47:14 PM »

I guess, RDNinja, as I did with your comments on "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" ("seems to be nothing more than a violent revenge fantasy against bigots") and "The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere" (a "cliche" coming-out story), we will just have to disagree on the relative merits of this story.

And I sincerely hope that this story spurs you to write your own version, whatever that might be: "person with time travel powers steadily uplifts the past by transferring little bits of knowledge to ancient societies, thus advancing progress," perhaps? That would be a fun story.

Now, I might read that story and think it's a little simple in its understanding of history: that one person could, say, eliminate pillaging from Viking culture seems like a conservative fantasy about the importance of the Great Person vis-a-vis society. Which is, by the by, why I don't bother arguing with you about Makeisha's historical jaunts and how she contributes to history as it is currently known, i.e., taking part in Viking raids rather than introducing the Vikings to, I don't know, solar powered energy.

(Because isn't part of the story about how Makeisha isn't all that exceptional, that women have been leading war-parties and practicing medicine throughout history, and that their presence has been systematically erased? Which is why she takes part in history in many of her jaunts.)

Also, dude,
It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.
, you've been here since August. That should be long enough to know how these forums roll, I'd say.

(P.S. I am absolutely serious about you writing a story, by the way. We may differ in politics (just a guess), but one of the great things about sf/fantasy is the way that the stories are in conversation.)
Logged
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 5890



« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2015, 06:36:20 PM »

Moderator note:

That's what I mean when I say it's trendy, and it's not meant to imply that the idea is not worth pursuing in general.

Quote
And thanks for the (very) thinly veiled accusations of racism. It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.

RDNinja - you don't get, in the same post, to complain about how someone is reading implications that aren't there to your words and then base your entire comment on similarly unsubstantiated implications of that person's words. If you want to be judged by what you say and not by what other people think that implies, fine, that's a fair request. But then you must also extend the same courtesy to those people.

More generally, and this goes to everyone here - let's tone this down. Keep the discussion to the story - which can include the cultural background it came from and is resonding to - but no more negative comments, attacks or passive aggressive barbs against any other posters. If you can't say what you want to say in a manner that is respectful of other forum members, regardless of whether you agree with their views of either the story or the world, don't say it.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2015, 06:42:18 PM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

That's a very good get - kudos! I completely missed that line. You're right, of course. Since when is seeking a better, more accurate understanding of our human history "trendy?" Well, when it's the history of women/people of color, of course. That's "trendy." The history of white men, though, that's just history, not some flash-in-the-pan "trend" in the zeitgeist.

If you had read all of what I wrote, you also would have seen where I said that recognizing people of all genders and races in history is a good thing, and an issue that needs to be addressed in real life. But it is trendy at the same time, because it has only gained broad popularity in recent years (especially on the timescale that Makeisha is operating in), and this story in particular was explicitly said to be influenced by an award-winning essay written only a couple of years ago. Would this story and its theme have been as well-received 10 years ago? 30 years ago? Or in the pre-modern eras in which Makeisha spent most of her lives? That's what I mean when I say it's trendy, and it's not meant to imply that the idea is not worth pursuing in general. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a poor, ignorant white man, right?

And thanks for the (very) thinly veiled accusations of racism. It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.

I think it's very telling that when I criticized aspects of the story and Makeisha's choices and character development, no one went to the text to provide counter-points or different interpretations of the actual story. Instead, people assumed I was attacking the idea and philosophy behind the story. I thought it was pretty safe to point out that becoming a Viking pillager or feudal warlord just to get your name in the history books was an objectively immoral thing to do, but apparently not.

So you're right about one thing, ElectricPaladin. This thread does bear a striking resemblance to recent conversations on race in the broader world. Specifically, it reminds me of the debate surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre, in which people lined up to make excuses for the crimes of mass-murdering sociopaths (of color), by insisting they were goaded into it by the racism of white men.

I do think it's interesting that you think I'm accusing you of being, personally, a racist. I never said that. I don't know you. You could be white or black or Asian, a man or a woman, or even a potato uplifted to human intelligence by bizarre scientific experiments and wired into an old iMac. I have no idea. I do think, however, that jumping to that conclusion is basically a sideways ad hominem attack. You're insinuating that I have personally attacked you by connecting you to a deplorable social ill. I have done nothing of the sort. I have attempted to undermine your ideas based on what I believe you were expressing. If I mischaracterized you, well, that's bound to happen in any conversation. If what I wrote caused you to see a link between your words and the words of people who are rightfully deplored, well, perhaps that's something you should examine. I can't tell you to what degree your mind has been parasitized by racist ideation - that's something only you can unpack and examine, but I'm not going to shy away from dissecting ideas that I have a problem with.

I would argue that "trendy" is a poor choice of words to describe this nascent trend, for all the reasons that myself and benjaminjb noted in our posts. If it doesn't actually reflect your beliefs, well, that's your business. I'm glad you corrected our misunderstanding. Again, however, nobody is calling you a "poor, ignorant white man." As I wrote above, for all I know, you're a potato.

I'd like to wrap up this part of the post by saying this: if your skin is too thin to deal with someone pointing out how something you said might maybe be a bit racist without taking it as an accusation that you, personally, are a racist, then you're probably not ready to have this kind of conversation. Heat, kitchen, and all that. Racism is hard. Dealing with the ways it creeps its tentacles into your brain and perverts your thoughts is hard. As a rough guideline, however, unless someone says "you are a racist," there's at least a chance that they don't mean to attack you personally.

I also think that it's interesting that you wrote:

I think it's very telling that when I criticized aspects of the story and Makeisha's choices and character development, no one went to the text to provide counter-points or different interpretations of the actual story...

Because that's just not true. I know for a fact that my responses have repeatedly included references to the text and that those points have not yet been responded to. For example, I responded to R W H's comments by pointing out an explanation for Makeisha's many competencies. The same is true of many of the other posts I've read so far.

Now, onto your second-to-last point...

I thought it was pretty safe to point out that becoming a Viking pillager or feudal warlord just to get your name in the history books was an objectively immoral thing to do, but apparently not.

This is an interesting one, because I do agree with you, to a point. It does say something not entirely positive about Makeisha's personality that she was willing to indulge in a little historically-contextualized violence as part of her quest to become recognized. I do want to point out four corollaries, though.

First, if I recall correctly, it's interesting to me that Makeisha didn't start to indulge in destructive violence until much later in her quest. Her earliest violent life was as a Bavarian warlord, and although that life was certainly violent, the goal was in cultivating a new and better order. She was forging a state, and when you do that you sometimes have to crack a few heads. I'm not saying that it was excused, but I think we can all agree that it's more complicated than that. I think you can see Makeisha's increasing reliance of violence as a statement about her increasing desperation.

Second, none of Makeisha's violence really was purely destructive. Frankly, in real history, very little violence really was. Premodern raids and warfare were basically part of the economy. Historical pirates weren't the freedom-loving rogues of "Pirates of the Caribbean," they were a combination of the losers of an early war for independence, escaped slaves, and oppressed minorities (there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition) looking for revenge and to enrich themselves and provide stability for their families at the cost of people they rightfully hated, which is a pretty legitimate way to go about your life, if you ask me. Anyway, the point I'm making is that it's unfair to hold historical figures to purely modern standards.

Third, I don't think Makeisha really sees the past as real - that's why she's able to kill herself in it. It's certainly interesting that Makeisha doesn't view her jaunts into the past as really part of her real life while at the same time being dedicated to achieving recognition for that past, but for me that's a paradox that drives the story, rather than undermining it.

Four - and this is the most interesting - I wonder if Makeisha would be getting the same flack if she were a man. We expect more violence from men. On Escape Pod we hear our fair share of military sci-fi stories about bold space troopers blasting away at aliens or space conquerors forging stellar empires, and in my experience thus far, most people are able to swallow their violence and domination in the story's context. That's not to say that there isn't a moral event horizon beyond which we start to lose sympathy for these characters, but I think that female characters - and Makeisha - get treated very differently.

I'm reminded of a musical I saw recently called "The Fourth Messenger." The story was basically about what might happen if the Buddha had the same life story, only in a modern context, and if the Buddha were a woman. The part where the Buddha abandons his wife and child, for example has a very different impact when the Buddha is female... but why should it? Why would we give Siddhartha a pass but not "Mama Sid?"

Anyway, to your final point, I haven't actually heard anyone saying that the violence against the French magazine was excused. What people are saying is that it's important even in the wake of this violence to examine the fact that Muslims and Arabs in general are a shat-upon minority in France and in most of Europe, that magazines like Charlie Hebdo do express the scorn that the majority holds for that minority, and that maybe there's a problem with this situation. Now, maybe you are in the unfortunate position of being surrounded by morons who actually are trying to excuse the massacre, but I have been lucky enough to avoid such nonsense, and until now I hadn't been aware that it existed.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 06:44:32 PM by ElectricPaladin » Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
benjaminjb
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1389



« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2015, 07:31:17 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

And eytanz, sorry to make your work here harder. I'll try harder to be on track and polite
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2015, 07:33:08 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2015, 07:34:00 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]

Here we go!
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
DKT
Friendly Neighborhood
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4980


PodCastle is my Co-Pilot


WWW
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2015, 08:06:29 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]

Here we go!

 Shocked

WANT.
Logged

Varda
Rebound
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2709


Definitely not an android.


« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2015, 08:39:46 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]

Here we go!

AHHH and my local library has it! Except tomorrow's MLK Day and it will be closed... arrrgh... Tuesday then...

Let's all take a moment to lust after this TOC together:

Columbus and Jamaica's chosen people
Adventuring in the New World
The king's essential heretics
Samuel Palache, the pirate rabbi
Amsterdam, the new Jerusalem
Zion warriors in the new world
Exodus to heretic island
Cromwell's secret agents
The golden dream of Charles II
Buccaneer island
Epilogue: Searching for the lost mine of Columbus.
Logged

Medical Microfiction: Stories About Science
http://rckjones.wordpress.com
RDNinja
Extern
*
Posts: 18


« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2015, 12:03:27 PM »

I apologize for my earlier intemperate posting. It was uncalled for.

Let me try to rephrase my critiques now that I've had a chance to ruminate and distill my thoughts:

This story falls into two of the common pitfalls of didactic fiction. First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.

Secondly, because the story is intended to promote one particular ethic, other ethical considerations are swept under the rug. The designated hero is not bound by ordinary morality, because she is promoting the lesson of the story. She neglects her marriage and it falls apart, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She abandons her friends and family to (theoretically) travel to the future utopia, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She goes back in time and kills people just to see her name in the history books, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. Fictional atrocities are excused, because they service a real-world good. But the end result is that the champion of that virtue the author wanted to promote has become the villain of the story, and it makes that virtue look worse than it did before.
Logged
SpareInch
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1368


Will there be sugar after the rebellion?


« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2015, 12:47:23 PM »

I apologize for my earlier intemperate posting. It was uncalled for.

Let me try to rephrase my critiques now that I've had a chance to ruminate and distill my thoughts:

This story falls into two of the common pitfalls of didactic fiction. First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.

Secondly, because the story is intended to promote one particular ethic, other ethical considerations are swept under the rug. The designated hero is not bound by ordinary morality, because she is promoting the lesson of the story. She neglects her marriage and it falls apart, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She abandons her friends and family to (theoretically) travel to the future utopia, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She goes back in time and kills people just to see her name in the history books, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. Fictional atrocities are excused, because they service a real-world good. But the end result is that the champion of that virtue the author wanted to promote has become the villain of the story, and it makes that virtue look worse than it did before.

She didn't necessarily want her name in the history books, though I'm sure it would be nice to have your name in there, but just to have women and black people recognised for the parts they have played in history.

And wanting your people's contribution to history recognised is not a liberal ethic. It's just human nature. To say that there's something intrinsically unbelievable in a black woman wanting black people and women to be recognised for their contributions makes no sense to me. You surely can't think that up until the late 20th century, the black and female population had no interest in such things, can you?
Logged

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW
Fenrix
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
Editor
*****
Posts: 3660


I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.


« Reply #37 on: January 19, 2015, 02:18:17 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.
Logged

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
RDNinja
Extern
*
Posts: 18


« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2015, 03:20:56 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.
I'm referring to the idea that the poor recognition of women and minorities is a problem that should be (or even could be) addressed. I don't think she was likely to pick up such ideas from her 7th-century Viking berserker friends, or the soldiers in her medieval Bavarian army, or her Japanese feudal lord, or while hunting in the Cenazoic wilderness, etc.
Logged
Fenrix
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
Editor
*****
Posts: 3660


I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.


« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2015, 03:42:07 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.


I'm referring to the idea that the poor recognition of women and minorities is a problem that should be (or even could be) addressed. I don't think she was likely to pick up such ideas from her 7th-century Viking berserker friends, or the soldiers in her medieval Bavarian army, or her Japanese feudal lord, or while hunting in the Cenazoic wilderness, etc.


So you feel her actions in the past were driven out of a desire to improve the recognition of women and minorities? That she manufactured and manipulated events during all those past lives to please Present Makeisha?

I think it's easier to believe that she went a-viking (etc, etc) because that was a thing that people did. Including women.
Logged

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!