Where Do We Go From Here?

D Franklin’s post-Women’s-Marches post  (Women’s March: Where Next?) has reminded me that I meant to write my own post about Where We Are and What We Do Now.

I’m Irish, so American authoritarianism and the inauguration of a racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, transphobic, queerphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, hateful, science-denying, world-wrecking bigot as President of the United States of America? That’s not something that I can do much about, practically speaking. (Neither is the UK’s determination on self-immolation through Brexit.)

But it’s a hell of a wake-up call for local civic engagement.

So, What Do We Do Now, from an Irish perspective?

First, take a deep breath

Twitter is a firehose of information, most of it from the USA, much of it accompanied by anxious commentary, catastrophising, and urgency that frequently approaches — and sometimes spills over into — panic. Panic is exhausting, and will leave you with very little energy for meaningful action. Ration your exposure to things that inspire you to anxiety and panic, rather than inspiring you to act.

For information, sign up for mailing lists from organisations like some of these:

Friends of the Earth Ireland is one reliable place to get information and action items for environmental matters, while the Irish Wildlife Trust has a quarterly newsletter. For the right to choose, the Abortion Rights Campaign has monthly open meetings and sends regular updates. The Irish Refugee Council sends occasional updates, while the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland updates via its Facebook page. Amnesty International’s Irish branch will update you on local opportunities for activism. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties wants you to print out and post in a form for membership, but it, too, will update you on the issues. TENI, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland, will keep you up to date on trans and nonbinary issues.

There are more organisations, but these are the ones I know will actually provide updates and Things For You To Do.

Speaking of Things For You To Do – this is a second piece of advice on What To Do Now. If you aren’t already familiar with your TDs and county councilors, now is the time to get familiar with them: sign up for their newsletters, check out their Facebook feeds, know what their parties are and what they stand for. Email them and ask them which way they’re voting on issues that affect you.

The website for the Houses of the Oireachtas, oireachtas.ie, is a great resource. Not only does it tell you who your TDs are, and their official emails, but you can find the order papers – that is, the published order of business, what the Dáil and the Seanad will actually be doing, for each day in the week – here, on Tuesday every week that the Houses are in session.

You can also find the Weekly Schedule – the timeline of when things will happen – here.

You can find transcripts of the proceedings from the Houses and from the committee meetings here.

And if you want to watch or listen to the proceedings – say you’ve spotted something in the Weekly Schedule and you want to know in real-time whether your TDs are arguing your corner – you can do that from here.

Also, if you want to call and leave a message by TELEPHONY with your local TDs, you can ask for their office through the Oireachtas switchboard, the number for which you can find on the Oireachtas contact page.

Your local county council has a webpage. It lists your local councilors and their official contact details. It should also have a “Service Delivery Plan” or something similarly titled, which tells you what your local council has planned for you and your area. At a local level? This is information that will be useful for you to know, if you want to lobby for change.


This is what I’m doing:

  • I’m volunteering with the Abortion Rights Campaign and going to meetings.
  • There’s a weekly check on my to-do list for “write TDs about $issue,” where the issue changes by week. Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, Anti-Fracking Bill, homelessness, ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, accessible public transport, the Moneypoint coal-fueled power plant, water, refugees, ending the Direct Provision system: I don’t want my TDs to get bored.
  • Every so often I ask them to ask a question of the Minister for something: if they do, and tell me about it (which only one has so far, three cheers for Clare Daly TD), I put it aside to think of how to ask more questions from there.
  • I’m getting familiar with what my local county council actually does, and what I might be able to lobby my councilors about with some hope of them acting in useful ways.
  • I’ve started an LGBTQ+ bookclub at my local library, the first meeting of which is to happen this month. Because building community remains important.
  • I’m investigating other avenues for local action, community- and capacity-building: it might be possible to start local monthly “coffee evenings” to bring together people on issues like lobbying for climate action or lobbying for accessibility issues (particularly with regard to public transport), but that will require a bit more knowledge and context than I have right now.
  • I’m keeping an eye out for other opportunities to volunteer in useful ways, and to throw my shoulder behind other people’s wheels.

Small acts. Local connections. Discrete things that you can do. Start small, build capacity. Build connections. Do the thing in front of you. Do what you can with what you’ve got.

(I am terrified about doing some of this, by the way: I’m insecure about my competence to start with, and interacting with humans is terrifying. But, as the great Carrie Fisher said: “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action.“)

In Ireland, the next local elections for the county councils are scheduled for 2019: we have two years to start building the capacity to make local change.

 

Mourning Our Icons

I don’t know why the death of Carrie Fisher has hit me so hard. Maybe it’s that in the last two years, she seemed so much larger than life: unruly, unabashed, and unapologetic, an icon I was looking forward to see puncture the hypocrisies of Hollywood and how the world treats women for the next twenty years.

Her outspokenness about mental illness, her gifts as a writer and a public figure, and her utter willingness to give the world the finger – when it deserved it or just because she felt like it – were an inspiration.

And she gave us Leia Organa. She made that role what it is: Senator, Princess, Rebel, General. Her red pen is on the script of The Empire Strikes Back.

I don’t think I can express what it meant to me, to see Carrie Fisher as General Leia. Oh, I came to Star Wars through the novels, and later met Leia staring down her torturers on the screen: the woman who sees her entire world die and still doesn’t break. Who carries the men around her when they falter and digs deep and finds the strength to keep going.

General. Forty years on, brother vanished, son a traitor to everything she worked for, lover running from responsibility, and still the backbone of a movement. Still fighting: choosing again and again to stand for what she believes in, in a galaxy where doing that has already cost her everything. And yet still able to be generous, still choosing to welcome Rey, to hold out hope and an open hand.

General Leia is not all that Carrie Fisher was – she might be the least part of a complex comic genius. But the woman Carrie Fisher and the character Leia Organa are each in their own way inspirational figures, and the character is what she is because of the woman behind her.

To Carrie Fisher: drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.

May her memory endure forever.

Links: bright ghosts and plausible women

“The bright ghosts of antiquity.”

The gist of an old joke—it has a dozen local iterations—is that the Loeb Classical Library translations are so baffling that you have to consult the original Greek or Latin on the left-hand page to decipher the English translation on the right.

“THE HANDMAIDEN trailer: It’s the Korean Gothic-Lesbian Revenge Thriller We Deserve.”

Now you can see the madness for yourself with the first official trailer. Directed by Park Chan-Wook, the film centers around two women in the 1930s — a secluded and wealthy Japanese heiress, and her newly hired, young Korean handmaiden — as the latter attempts to defraud the former out of her large inheritance with the help of a con man. However, things take an unexpected and sinister turn when the two ladies begin to fall in love.

“The Plausible Diversity of Apples.”

One of the more common arguments raised by anti-diversity advocates is the futility of tokenism – the idea that giving a single show a black female lead for the sake of filling a quota is both insulting and unnecessary. And I quite agree: tokenism isn’t the answer. What we want is to reach a point where there are so many black female protagonists – and queer protagonists, and protagonists of every other type and variation listed above and a great many more besides, in every permutation – that none of them could ever again be reasonably viewed as a token anything. Because, in this scenario, when writers are considering who could be the protagonist, they’re giving equal consideration to every type of person, and not just forcing themselves to look, however briefly, beyond the narrow, familiar confines of an historical default.

“How To Suppress Female Characters.”

Arguing that a story isn’t “feminine enough” to warrant a female protagonist when you’re simultaneously concerned that women makes stories unnecessarily gendered is… kind of breathtakingly hypocritical, really.

Links of interest

Pulling some things out of the open tabs…


Marissa Lingen, On-ramps to various weird freeways:

So there was a Fourth Street panel where Max Gladstone wanted to talk about on-ramps to the weird: what accessibility we provide readers to works with a sense of alienation and dislocation, how we allow them to navigate works of science fiction and fantasy either without feeling uncomfortable or despite that discomfort, and what tools we can get from other genres in their on ramps–genres like magic realism and surrealism.

The Head of Donn Bó, The Tatooine Cycle. Star Wars as medieval Irish epic.

What was the reason for the Tragic Death of Cenn Obi and the Destruction of Da Thféider’s Hostel?

CBC News on the deciphering of the Antikythera mechanism:

After more than a decade’s efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text — a quarter of the original — in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains.

They say it was a kind of philosopher’s guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world’s oldest mechanical computer.

“Now we have texts that you can actually read as ancient Greek, what we had before was like something on the radio with a lot of static,” said team member Alexander Jones, a professor of the history of ancient science at New York University.

The Independent, Scientists recreate Greek skies to accurately date 2,500-year-old Sappho poem.

Vulture, The Korean Gothic Lesbian Revenge Thriller That’s Captivated Cannes.

News, views, disillusions

I have finished my third week at a RealJob. The paycheque is nice, but I woke up this morning sick as a dog. Ah, well. It could be worse.

There’s a lot of news to catch up on. In my case, the most exciting piece is that, along with Mahvesh Murad, I’ll be editing Speculative Fiction 2016:

Call for Submissions: What You Need to Know

The Speculative Fiction series is a not-for-profit publication. All net proceeds will be going to charity.
The anthology seeks non-fiction reviews and essays (“works”) specific to some aspect of Speculative Fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and everything and anything that falls under the broad genre umbrella), including but not limited to: books, movies, tv shows, games, comics, conventions, genre trends, and so on. No short stories or original fiction, please.
The works MUST have been originally published online during the calendar year 2016.
Any pieces chosen for the publication will be paid a flat fee of $10 per work (in lieu of payment, contributors may choose to donate their fee to charity in their name).
Nominations are accepted for works published by anyone online. (This includes bloggers, friends, bloggers who are friends, authors who blog, bloggers who are authors, alien life forms, cats, etc…)
People may submit their own work or someone else’s.
People may submit as many works as they like. (There is NO limit on submissions!)
Submitted works ideally should be between 800 and 1500 words (but that’s not mandatory, we may consider longer and shorter pieces).
While submitted works can be from anywhere in the world, although we do need an English translation for consideration.
Submissions are open through December 31 2016.

Submit your nominations here. Deadline is 31 December 2016.


There are some links hanging out in my tabs:

The Church’s Lingering Shadows On Sex Work In Ireland.

Jane Austen to Cassandra.

Lesbians of 1916 are the Rising’s “hidden history.”

Carrie Fisher interviews Daisy Ridley.

Wonder Woman, Amazons, armour and history: the best thing on Tumblr.

Poem: “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up.”

Database of Public Monuments in Roman Greece. Lovely searchable database.

Linkpost!

From “The Journal”: “Britain to return 1916 banner seized as war trophy.”

[T]he Na Fianna Eireann banner which was seized from Countess Markievicz’s home by the British army as a war trophy will be returned to the Irish State for the 1916 centenary.

 

From “Fusion”: “Hiring managers are less likely to call an LGBT woman back.”

After sending out 1,600 resumes to apply for more than 800 jobs, the study found that women with an “LGBT indicator” on their resume (represented in the study as work experience at an LGBT advocacy group) were about 30% less likely to receive a call-back than women who didn’t have those indicators.

 

From Al Jazeera English: “Hip Hop Hijabis.”

By inhabiting the intersection between cultures whose values on the surface seem so conflicting, Poetic Pilgrimage challenge a plethora of dearly held convictions from all sides of the cultural spectrum. Many Western feminists believe that promoting women’s rights from within an Islamic framework is a futile exercise, while in the eyes of some Muslims, female musicians are hell-bound.

 

From Foz Meadows: “PSA to people who menstruate.”

If anyone tries to make a dumbass sexist joke about your being more [insert stereotypically negative feminine quality here] while on your period, you can tell them that actually, menstruation raises testosterone levels, not oestrogen. (Telling them to go fuck themselves with an angry cactus can also be therapeutic.)

 

From Max Gladstone at Tor.com: “On Alan Rickman, Loss, and Mourning Our Heroes.”

No one among us exists as a thing in herself, alone and complete as she appears from the outside. We’re all collages of art and memory and friendship and family, struggling and striving together. Places and people we’ve encountered endure within us. And when those places or people pass away in the outside world, within us something changes too. When we mourn, we trace the shape and magnitude of that change. We find, sometimes—often—to our surprise, the depths at which we were formed by others. There’s little logic to the architecture of our souls; we like to think blood matters, and time, but sometimes a glance or a touch, a half smile on a movie screen, a cover song, a piece of lightning bolt makeup, a Christmas card, an afternoon’s conversation, a book read once in childhood, can be a pillar on which the roof of us depends.

 

This article at Buzzfeed will make PERFECT sense to a lot of people I know:

Click on the image for the link to the article, “13 charts that will make perfect sense to people with imposter syndrome.”

 

From the Economist: “Referendum madness.”

ONE dodgy referendum lost Ukraine Crimea. Another threatens to lose it the European Union. On April 6th the Dutch public will vote on the “association agreement” the EU signed with Ukraine in 2014. The deal cements trade and political links with one of the EU’s most important neighbours; the prospect of losing it under Russian pressure triggered Ukraine’s Maidan revolution. But last summer a group of Dutch mischief-makers, hunting for a Eurosceptic cause they could place on the ballot under a new “citizens’ initiative” law, noticed that parliament had just approved the deal. Worse luck for the Ukrainians.

 

And finally, Foz Meadows again, this time on: “UPROOTED: Abuse & Ragequitting.”

Tonight, I started reading Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED. It was a novel about which I’d heard only good things from people I trust; a novel I was hoping would break me out of my current reading slump, wherein I’ve started a great many books, but am struggling to finish any of them. To borrow the parlance of memes, cannot tell if too depressed to read or just fed up with exclusionary, derivative bullshit – or, alternatively, if reading so much fanfiction has utterly wrecked my internal yardstick for length, structure and content.

 

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print…

Well, no, it isn’t, but I have to keep some links for next week. *g*

Linkpost!

Here are some things that have been hanging out in my tabs:

 

Max Gladstone, “A Year of Reading Differently.”

 “Why the hell,” sez I on the train, gasping, exhilarated, overcome with awe, “did it take me this long to read To the Lighthouse?”  “The Fire Next Time is every bit as brilliant as people have been telling me for a decade, and it’s only like eighty pages long.  Why did I not—”  Midnight’s Children!  Fucking Midnight’s Children, which is a groundbreaking, critically acclaimed literary novel about the X-Men, what was I waiting for.  I knew I loved Woolf.  I loved Satanic Verses.  So why did I read [stack of mediocre novels] before these?

… Oh.

Oh.

oh.

One exists, of course, within a karmically determined universe.  One’s choices, even at the most minute level, are shaped by overlapping fields of power arising from the movements and injustices of history.  If we’re not conscious in the way we engage with those fields and manipulate them, we perpetuate them.  But it’s scary to see that face to face, to recognize its presence in one’s migration of one’s library.  (I owned all the books I mentioned in that paragraph already, and had for at least five years.  I just hadn’t read them.)

 

Max again, with a magnificently geeky piece on Star Wars: The Force Awakens: “The Force Awakens RPG Madness.”

I think part of my excitement stems from how open the universe feels.  A lot of the setting power of the Original Trilogy rises from its focus on the Imperial Periphery.  We see the edges of power, where the Empire projects force and interesting stuff happens, where the destinies of nations hinge on a single battle or moral choice, rather than the metropole, which corners more slowly if at all.  The prequel trilogy’s political ambitions tangled its story with the engines of power that drive the Galaxy Far, Far Away—and limited its characters to maneuvering within those engines, rather than “taking the first step into a wider world.”

 

A friend of mine has written a glorious CYOA fanfic for Sunless Sea (I don’t even play Sunless Sea! I haven’t played Fallen London in years!) which you should all go look at: “The Virulent.”

I can’t remember who passed me the link to this piece on Dorothy Arzner, a director in the early years of Hollywood, but it makes for fascinating reading: “Dorothy Arzner, Hidden Star Maker of Hollywood’s Golden Age.”

Type the name “Dorothy Arzner” into Netflix’s search bar and you’ll get zero results.

It’s an odd outcome, considering Arzner, a prolific golden age film director, has 16 feature films—among the most of any woman in Hollywood, ever. She gave Katharine Hepburn one of her first starring roles. She navigated the transition from silent films to talkies with panache, inventing the boom microphone in the process. And yet, she is largely unknown today.

 

And finally: the best picture on the internet:

  Is this not the most magnificent red carpet image ever?

Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY MERCY

Reviewed over at Tor.com:

This is generous book, and a hopeful one. It doesn’t handwave away the problems of imperialism and colonisation, but neither does it close down the possibility for the future to be better than the past. The Imperial Radch trilogy, as a whole, strikes me as a work with a central thematic interest in what you do with what’s done to you—among other things. Identity. Volition. Constraint. Right action.

People having thoughts about THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT

Both Amal El-Mohtar and Arkady Martine enjoyed it significantly more than I did.

Amal has something important to say about responses to THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT, while Arkady turns a very penetrating gaze on its thematic arguments.

I think THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT is proving to be an interesting book to think with, and to think about, despite – or perhaps because of – how very angry it made me. Baru Cormorant herself, the titular main character, is a monster. Perhaps the most monstrous protagonist I’ve ever read. And not in the simplistic fashion of so many grimdark-type antiheroes, either. She’s a sympathetic monster. An understandable monster. The monster in the mirror, writ large: all our compromises with power for the sake of security, for the sake of personal advancement, for the hope of changing the system from within, rendered in mass murder and personal betrayals. I think Dickinson is trying to explore some very difficult thematic territory, and trying at the same time to sustain fairly radical literary politics. If he fails in many respects at both –

Well, it’s an ambitious failure. There’s much to be said for that.

Assorted links for Friday

Strange Horizons is having their yearly fundraiser. They also have a Patreon account. Perhaps support them, for they are interesting and smart.

Politico says: “Beware Europe’s automotive-political complex.”

Catherine Lundoff has “Some thoughts about Tragic Queer Narratives.”

Aliette de Bodard has smart thoughts “On colonialism, evil empires, and oppressive systems.”

And the BBC reveals “The bitter story behind the UK’s national drink.”

DRAGON HEART by Cecelia Holland

Reviewed over at Tor.com.

Dragon Heart is a tragedy. An interesting tragedy, at that. But I can’t bring myself to actually like it. It has great characterisation, compelling prose… but it feels peculiarly old-fashioned, and I can’t escape the feeling that I’ve read this story before, that someone else has already done something really similar. (Patricia McKillip, maybe?) And there’s that pervasive undertone of sexual coercion, of violence and violation, that left me—especially at the conclusion—with a greasy, soiled feeling

Links of interest

At The Book Smugglers, Kate Elliott on COURT OF FIVES: Inspirations and Influences.

At Tor.com, Caitlyn Paxson on Five Canadian Books to Look for in Fall 2015.

Two from Archaeology Magazine:

New Kingdom Mummies Re-Examined

and

Underwater Mesolithic Monolith Discovered in the Sicilian Channel.

At Tor.com, again, Natalie Zutter on COURT OF FIVES and the Importance of Making Race Explicit in YA Fantasy.

At io9, Remains of “Warrior Princess” Found Buried Alongside Dagger and Sword.

At the Wellcome Library Blog, Monica H. Green on Speaking Of Trotula.

Two reviews from NPR:

Genevieve Valentine on A WOMAN IN ARABIA by Gertrude Bell,

and

Carmen Machado on PRODIGIES by Angélica Gorodischer.

And on BBC Radio 4, Late Night Women’s Hour: Reclaiming The Nerdverse, with Zen Cho, Naomi Alderman, Helen Lewis, Lucy Saxon, and Linda Woodhead.