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Steven Attewell: Rape culture? What rape culture?

[ 69 ] April 28, 2014 |

 

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Steven’s latest article on Game of Thrones and its how-about-we-call-it-a-problem with handling rape and its aftermath is available

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at some rag called Esquire.

SEK’s Game of Thrones recap: Now with more eye lasers!

[ 85 ] April 28, 2014 |

 

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It’s the only Game of Thrones recap worth reading even if you’ve already seen the episode.

About which — I’m still not entirely sure why people like to read recaps of shows they’ve already seen, but people clearly do.

I must be the outlier here.

Adventures in stock photography!

[ 21 ] April 27, 2014 |

As you know, I’m fairly adept at visual-type-stuff, so when you see an article like this one, you’re understandably baffled.

Here’s the thing: that’s best available option.

The selection of photographs of laborers consists, almost entirely, of sulking white workers and beaming, happy-just-to-be-employed non-white ones.

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer about Annihilation, a novel you’ll wish you’d already read

[ 24 ] April 26, 2014 |

I suppose you could say Jeff VanderMeer was generous with his time when he agreed to do what turned into a 3,000 word-long interview about his new novel, Annihilation. A sample:

SEK: The novel reads very much like the world it describes — utterly familiar, yet slightly off at all points. Was that your intent? (For example, on 59, you describe “Something like a body or a person,” which makes perfect sense, yet is incredibly disturbing. What is like a body or a person that’s not a body or a person?)

JV: I hike a lot in North Florida, and from a distance, things look like other things. A bat can metamorph into a bird when seen closer. A creature on a log becomes just a stubby branch. A seeming tree trunk is actually a bear. You think you are going north, but suddenly, through some daydream of lapse of attention, you get turned around.

These are, in a sense, reminders to us that the real world is stranger than we usually think. Imagine being able to spy on the processes going on around you while even walking down the sidewalk on your street—the plants employing photosynthesis and speaking to each other in chemical emissions, the ants with their pheromone trails, the fungi with their spores. Why, there’s still crowded and noisy cosmopolitan situation all around you, but you can’t experience any of it because your senses are these stunted, incomplete systems.

You’ve got eyes that can’t see the whole spectrum. A cat would laugh at your stupid sense of smell. Your sense of taste is pathetic compared to many creatures. Your sense of touch is put to shame by your average gecko. So the world is in a sense laughing at you anyway, or on some level ignoring you completely, and your sole contribution is the ability to tread too heavily on a dandelion and break its stem. So if we’re honest the world should feel slightly off at times. The

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world should at times reveal some glint or glimmer of greater processes ongoing. Something like a body or a person. Something like a shadow or a creature. Something like a sudden clue…

SEK: On page 111, you note that the pile of journals describing Area X will soon become Area X itself. This strikes me as a literal version of “contact narratives,” in which what an explorer writes about an area he discovers becomes how future generations understand it. (Describing cities of gold in the “New World” leading explorers to “discover” such cities, even though they only ever existed in print.) Are these books [in "the Southern Reach" trilogy] an exercise in, call it, “creative geography”? Re-shaping the world by describing it?

JV: I must admit my minor in college was Latin American history, and I’m sure there’s a sedimentary layer in the back of my brain that, in soaking all of that conflicted and difficult chronology, has peeked out through some of the observations in Annihilation. I guess I was also thinking of the journals from the prior expeditions as almost being like the bones of the explorers, in word form. This is where they washed up, their instruments useless, all logic revealed as merely construct to push them through the day.

And, yes, there is perhaps a parallel: explorers and exploiters who are culturally so different and from such a different landscape that the very land seems to reject them, even when they seem to have conquered it. I’m not particularly fond of missionaries or of conquerors or empires, all of which strike me as examples of dreaming poorly but, alas, doing so across a vast continuum of human endeavor, to the brutal detriment of all who push back with perhaps a more sustainable and humane vision of the world…

Read the entire interview here.

Campus preachers can’t take the heat, whine to conservative “news” outlets that anthropology professor won’t vacate the kitchen

[ 116 ] April 25, 2014 |

This is some delicious whining on the part of campus preachers — you know, the guys who stand outside buildings screaming at strangers while classes are in session:

“He asked me if I had accepted Darwin as my lord and savior,” Karns said. “He was very demonstrative.”

But that’s not all!

“As I was pointing to Christ,” he said, “I was talking about the sin nature — I said, ‘There’s probably some people out there—maybe even professors — who think they descended from monkeys.”

At that point, Boster “jumped off the ground and came running over and basically started screaming, ‘I did not come from a monkey! I came from an ape!’”

Karns claimed that Boster’s behavior — i.e. the spot-on impersonation of campus preachers like Karns — was “very unbecoming of a professor.”

I only wish he’d lacked the self-awareness to say something like “that sort of behavior doesn’t belong on college campuses,” since that was exactly the professor’s point.

I’m so glad Facebook has rendered reunions obsolete

[ 123 ] April 25, 2014 |

A high school acquaintance just sent me a message on Facebook saying he was blocking my updates because what I do “is despicable” — and this person’s official job title is, I kid you not, “Foreclosure Specialist.”

That’s right: a “Foreclosure Specialist” just called me “despicable.”

According to the message, he’s upset because his wife is having second thoughts about the gays after reading this article I wrote yesterday. He said, “she thinks they might be capable of Christian love now,” meaning that he’s done lost control of his woman.

As for me?

Apparently I’m doing a damn fine job of gayin’ up the South, one thumbed under house-wife at a time.

Kids are, and say, the damnedest things

[ 44 ] April 25, 2014 |

Child of a blood relative of SEK’s roommate, upon learning that SEK’s not a blood relative of his roommate:

CHILD: So, do you have a last name?

SEK: No, actually, I was born without one.

CHILD: God let you do that?

SEK: Yes.

CHILD: Can you get him to take mine back? I want mine to be ‘Pouncing Cat.’

SEK: I’ll see what I can do.

I know it’s wrong, but in my mind…

[ 13 ] April 24, 2014 |

…I hear Alice B. Toklas, as written by Gertrude Stein, saying this:

I don’t see where the ashes of a couple old lesbians is going to hurt anyone.

I’m just going to leave this headline in the post and let you savor it…

[ 91 ] April 23, 2014 |

Ahem:

Prosecutors: Cuckolded husband’s tape proves Dinesh D’Souza knew he broke campaign laws

So much to savor! So very, very much!

That’s O. Henry, Professional Oracle, to you sir

[ 9 ] April 23, 2014 |

Call it a modern day version of “The Ransom of Red Chief,” if you must.

Fox News and its resident God-botherers would have you believe that it was the fact that the child sang a spiritual that led to his release, but just listen to that boy sing.

It ain’t his angelic voice that earned him his freedom.

SEK’s Game of Thrones Recap

[ 208 ] April 21, 2014 |

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You can read my full recap here, but just in case you want to know where I come down on the episode’s most controversial issue:

Speaking of still being alive, Jaime Lannister is, and he’s a man, and he has needs. In a reversal of the Jaime-is-becoming-a-better-human-being plot, here we have a sex-starved Jaime raping his sister over the body of their dead child — in other words, we have a return to the incestuous relations that make King’s Landing the city we love to hate.

As for whether it’s a rape, director Alex Graves told Alan Sepinwall that “it becomes consensual by the end, because anything for them ultimately results in a turn-on, especially a power struggle.” Which means, yes, it’s rape.

So, there’s that out of the way…

Lawyers, Guns & Money podcast: Game of Thrones, Season 4, Episode 3: “Breaker of Chains”

[ 11 ] April 21, 2014 |

SEK & Steven Attewell on the new episode of Game of Thrones. Enjoy!

Audio available here.

Purchase Steven Attewell’s Race for the Iron Throne: Political and Historical Analysis of “A Game of Thrones” at that link. You know you want to!

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