Apr. 1st, 2013

deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
I don't actually want a professional tumblr, but it strikes me that this brief but very wise comment by [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman is exactly the kind of thing that tumblr re-blogging is good for:

I will be fascinated for the rest of my life that some of the same things are archetypal and intertextual and deep when written well, but are stale derivatives when written poorly.

Via "No formula"

Dicey has been schooling me for years to pay attention to this when I write my reviews. Frequently the problem with the book is not that it's derivative, but that the characters are flat, the prose is uninspired, etc. And yet when all of those things are true, what you see is how derivative it is.

The same goes for certain other negative terminology. "Didactic", for example, is a term you apply to a terrible book with an overt moral lesson, whereas a good book with an overt moral lesson might get "thought-provoking". "Problem novel" versus "relevant".

Full disclosure: [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman and I have an ongoing disagreement about the usefulness of the term "problem novel" given that we both define it differently. I've been trying to reclaim some of these terms myself, to use them descriptively about books that I like. Trying to pin down why I want to define I am J (a young adult novel about a trans Jewish Puerto Rican) as a problem novel, while I don't want to apply that same term to, say, The First Part Last (a young adult novel about an upper-middle-class adolescent black single father), if I'm not going to use high/low quality as one of my available definitive points, is... complicated.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
[personal profile] sanguinity / [tumblr.com profile] sanguinarysanguinity recently reposted Chrystos' "Those tears," and it got me thinking about how differently derailing and appropriation plays out when it comes to the quest for accessibility. In disabled spaces, of course derailing and outsider claims of authenticity & knowledge happen. "I'm myopic so I understand blindness," "Oh, I get obsessive compulsive as well, I totally have to check that the oven is turned off before I can leave the house," "Man, my boss was a jerk today, and I am so out of spoons," "I'm sore from typing I totally get it," "I'm such a napper; I totally get CFIDS," "I just love signing, we should talk so I can show you how much I've learned!"

(The management refuses to state how many of these she personally has said on the grounds that doing so will incriminate her.)

(Also I am not intending to disability police with those quotations. PWD can say those exact same words, and if somebody says they have a disability than they do. My concern is not with trying to police people who say they are disabled, but with people who will willingly say they are not at all disabled but also insist that the general wear and tear of being a human being in the world makes them completely understand what it is to be disabled.)

But the weird thing about disability is that because of the very nature of human bodies, their frailty that makes some people choose to use the label "TAB", meaning the "Temporarily Able-Bodied" when referring to people who do not have disabilities, it means that in some senses the outsider intrusions can actually be useful. Whenever upper management breaks a leg, offices suddenly start seeing automatic door opener buttons and cleared paths to elevators. When entitled brogrammers get sore hands and have to take a break from mousing, they often become more respectful of the need to use alternative input devices (except for those who are privileged enough they can afford to hire typists and think everyone else with RSI should do the same grr argh). When I had a vitreous detachment bad enough to impress my optometrist but still a normal side effect of aging, I started to appreciate the difference between correctable and uncorrectable vision problems in a way that walking around without my glasses could never explain to me (because I can always just put them back on).

Of course, it can go the other way. "Well, I had the flu, and I still came to work [EDITOR'S NOTE: oh please no!], so I don't see why you can't work with CFIDS." "I broke both my legs and still never needed a seat on the bus, so I don't see why you need one." "I can get around my house with my glasses off, so why do you need a dog to get to work?" Not all people are willing to put any effort into empathy.

But still, I see how that outsider invasion can have some utility when it comes to disability, in a way that doesn't apply when you are talking about, say, white women inserting themselves into spaces for women of color, or cis straight folks inserting themselves into queer spaces. In a disability space you can potentially draw on that claim that human physical frailty creates connection in order to push (temporarily) able-bodied folks to change their physical spaces. They still might be invading spaces which ought to be safe spaces for PWD, but some utility can be found for that. Meanwhile, if I, as a white woman, insert myself into a WOC space, I don't see how the women of color can extract any utility from my invasion.

This is me thinking aloud, and I'm not sure my thoughts have boiled into anything useful as yet.
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