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Merce Cunningham, the choreographer, has died at age 90.

Somewhat balmy day here in Providence. I should have already put my hair up, but I haven't. After this entry, if I can last that long. The sky is a dappled mix of clouds and blue.

Yesterday, I began a piece I'm calling "January 28, 1926," and wrote a very respectable 1,346 words. So, quite a good writing day. Sirenia Digest #44 is quickly coming together. Late last night, Vince sent me a sketch, his plan for the illustration for "Vicaria Draconis," and it's looking great. So, yes, two new vignettes this month, plus a new guest poet who shares my love of cephalopods.

A new page has appeared on the website, under evidence. It showed up on Saturday night, actually, but I decided to wait and see if anyone else noticed it before I said anything. This seemed more prudent. But, to my knowledge, no one has noticed it. Under evidence, read back over Plate XV, then note the links at the bottom of the page. Not the one on the left, nor the one on the right, but the one in the center. And no, that's not the book trailer. And if all these answers are beginning to vex you, be patient. The questions are coming.

Last night I made the mistake of perusing what's called "paranormal romance" on Amazon.com. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you've already heard my reaction. I seem to live in some sort of self-imposed state of literary asylum. I had no idea there was so much of this crap, or that it sold so well, or that it was so awful. I go to some of the bestsellers, which are, by the way, bestsellers, and cannot read a single sentence aloud without laughing, a reaction I'm fairly certain the authors were not trying to elicit. I'm not talking badly written; I'm not sure this stuff is written, at all. And no, I won't name names. That's poor form. But looking at all this junk, I felt so utterly, oddly defeated. Just seeing how people are lapping up this pablum, I never wanted to write another word (and yet, here I am, babbling away). Several things occurred to me, scanning the pages of Book 15 in a series by some woman who brags about writing three novels a year (on average). One of the thoughts is something that I've been saying for many years, that vampires are no longer monsters, no longer an incarnation of the Other. They have, instead, become primarily a socially acceptable expression of humanity's collective, if latent, necrophilia. Much the same way that zombies are in danger of becoming clowns, vampires are the daemon lover no one really wants to admit is a demon.

And a second thought, I'd be willing to bet you green folding money that a high percentage of the women (and men) who get off on "paranormal romance," who find all this werewolf/vamp/angel/mermaid/fairie/dragon/fluffy-bunny "otherkin" soft core so very titillating are also staunchly anti-GLBT. For example, we could start with a certain Mormon...oh, wait. I said I wouldn't name names. But, you know where I'm headed with this. I'll fuck a dead man (or woman) who drinks blood, this undead serial killer, and I really get off on stories about crime-fighting werewolves doing the nasty with dragons who are actually fairies pretending to be twentysomething human women with anorexia. But, ewwwwwww, men with men? Women with women? Transsexuals? The Bible says that's wrong.

Anyway, damned depressing stuff. grandmofhelsing observed that "paranormal romance" is "erotic horror" that is neither erotic nor horrific, which seems about right. And I suppose this is one reason that Sirenia Digest doesn't have a million subscribers. I know I'm shooting myself in the foot, sure, but I feel it's my sworn duty to write books and stories and vignettes that would never in a million years appeal to the consumers of "paranormal romance" (I shall not again call them "readers"). There is awe and wonder, terrible beauty and mystery, in the dark places, but you'll never see any of it if you're afraid to turn off the lights.

Only nine days (counting today), until the release of The Red Tree. Have you had another look at Plate 15 yet?

Oh, and the Very Special Auction continues.

And now I must go remember unpleasantries that may have occurred early in 1926, and late in 1919, and write it all down.

Comments

( 62 comments — Have your say! )
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unknownbinaries
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
There is awe and wonder, terrible beauty and mystery, in the dark places, but you'll never see any of it if you're afraid to turn off the lights.

This sentence makes me so, so happy.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)

This sentence makes me so, so happy.

You're welcome.
ministry_victim
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
Please keep writing.

Said mormon's writing is clearly a fad, and that fad will go away to something else soon. In the meantime, those of us (the many, the proud) who read her book to see what the hooplah was all about, still want to come home to your stories when we're done laughing at the crowd.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)

Said mormon's writing is clearly a fad, and that fad will go away to something else soon. In the meantime, those of us (the many, the proud) who read her book to see what the hooplah was all about, still want to come home to your stories when we're done laughing at the crowd.

I only had to read the first three sentences...never made it any farther.

I was thinking last night, how long will she be remembered? I'd like to think she'll be remembered as a sort of mass delusion, like the harmonic convergence and pet rocks. A sort of cautionary recollection. But these humans, I can never figure out what they'll do next.
(no subject) - ministry_victim - Jul. 27th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
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xanguisettex
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
So true. There have been occasions where I will pick up a book, interested by the cover, read the back blurb/inner flap of the jacket and wonder, is it really that bad? Then flip forward a few pages, scan a few lines, and literally feel my IQ dropping by several points.

Some of it really is so mind-numbingly bad you're not sure whether to laugh hysterically or cry right then and there because these novels sell so well and there are SO MANY OF THEM. :(

It is upsetting to filter through the literary equivalent of really bad fast food looking for delicacies. Thankfully, there is hope as there are a number of writers whose works are both delicious and good for the mind!
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)

Some of it really is so mind-numbingly bad you're not sure whether to laugh hysterically or cry right then and there because these novels sell so well and there are SO MANY OF THEM.

That there are so many of them is ample evidence of their disposable and interchangeable nature.
sfmarty
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you for linking the article about Merce. Merce, John and I were friends a long time ago when we were all younger. John showed me how to prepare a piano and Merce giggled when he told me the audience never knew whether or not to laugh at the funny bits. They both added so much to life.

greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)

Wow. That's so cool. And you're very welcome.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Plate XV

what have you done?

As I said, the questions are coming.
Re: Plate XV - readingthedark - Jul. 27th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Plate XV - greygirlbeast - Jul. 28th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
martianmooncrab
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
bet you green folding money that a high percentage of the women (and men) who get off on "paranormal romance," who find all this werewolf/vamp/angel/mermaid/fairie/dragon/fluffy-bunny "otherkin" soft core so very titillating are also staunchly anti-GLBT.

I do read the paranormal stories, but I am particular about which authors I do read. There are some good shifter smut books which I recommend to friends so they dont have to gouge their eyes out, but they are in the minority. I am not anti-GBLT. Frankly I will read just about anything, until its proven unreadable. Perhaps someday I will get the Elder Book which will compulse me to read until my eyes bleed and I go into halfdeath, but, until then, its grazing through the stacks of my unread books to fill the void with others words.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)

I do read the paranormal stories, but I am particular about which authors I do read.

I must have looked at 30 or 40...and I failed to find anything that was better than marginally literate.

shifter smut

New term (for me).
(no subject) - martianmooncrab - Jul. 27th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - heron61 - Jul. 27th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
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niamh_sage
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
Argh, I can't understand this fad either! What's with the fluffy-bunnyizing of the Creatures of the Night? I think you've got a point about the anti-GLBTers and the de-clawing/de-fanging of vampires and their colleagues, but I also wonder if it's a more general denial of sexuality. The mob-hysteria thing kind of reeks of desperation, all those kids wearing chastity rings or whatever the hell they're called, but still having to put their raging hormones somewhere.

There is awe and wonder, terrible beauty and mystery, in the dark places, but you'll never see any of it if you're afraid to turn off the lights.

So perfectly put (and so damn scary - I struggle with this myself). The Creatures of the Twitlight are about as scary as that Hello Kitty Darth Vader.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)

Argh, I can't understand this fad either! What's with the fluffy-bunnyizing of the Creatures of the Night? I think you've got a point about the anti-GLBTers and the de-clawing/de-fanging of vampires and their colleagues, but I also wonder if it's a more general denial of sexuality. The mob-hysteria thing kind of reeks of desperation, all those kids wearing chastity rings or whatever the hell they're called, but still having to put their raging hormones somewhere.

America displays a complete schism as regards sexuality. Well, the marriage of sexuality and violence, too. We live in a culture where we are constantly deluged with sexual imagery and messages, a society steeped in the erotic. And we're told it's virtuous to be chaste. We are deluged in violence, including the government-sanctioned murder of war, and are told it is wrong to harm another human being. These disconnects are inevitable, given the contradictions.
jtglover
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
But Is It Art?
Something I've been thinking (probably too much) about lately is standards of judgment. Is it reasonable to compare one novel against all other novels, especially when the author never aspired to compete with the most notable novelists of any period? I've done something akin to what I'm guessing you did: went down the row of paranormal romances, reading a few pages and moving on. In that context, just idly flipping pages, I was... underwhelmed.

On the other hand, some paranormal romances are better than others, and I recently read a few by one author and enjoyed the heck out of them. By most external standards, they're not good at all. I went into them, however, with absolutely no expectations at all of consistency, non-stereotypical characterization, linguistic sensitivity, grasp of subtext, etc., etc. Given that, and that I wasn't holding them to the standards of high stylists of horror or fantasy, they make for entertaining reading.


One of the thoughts is something that I've been saying for many years, that vampires are no longer monsters, no longer an incarnation of the Other.

Oh yes. Somewhere between Buffy and Anita Blake, there rose a large and ever-growing contingent of vampires who are not intended to be scary, or necessarily erotic. In my opinion, they fill roughly the same ecological niche as dark/night/drow elves in extruded fantasy.


And a second thought, I'd be willing to bet you green folding money that a high percentage of the women (and men) who get off on "paranormal romance," who find all this werewolf/vamp/angel/mermaid/fairie/dragon/fluffy-bunny "otherkin" soft core so very titillating are also staunchly anti-GLBT.

Absolutely agreed. Given that books that become bestsellers tend to be aimed squarely at some sort of common denominator, lowest or otherwise, I am not at all surprised.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
Re: But Is It Art?

On the other hand, some paranormal romances are better than others, and I recently read a few by one author and enjoyed the heck out of them. By most external standards, they're not good at all. I went into them, however, with absolutely no expectations at all of consistency, non-stereotypical characterization, linguistic sensitivity, grasp of subtext, etc., etc. Given that, and that I wasn't holding them to the standards of high stylists of horror or fantasy, they make for entertaining reading.

In other words, as long as we only judge them as crap, then they're good crap.
Re: But Is It Art? - from_ashes - Jul. 27th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - jtglover - Jul. 27th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - greygirlbeast - Jul. 27th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - from_ashes - Jul. 27th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - jtglover - Jul. 27th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - greygirlbeast - Jul. 27th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - jtglover - Jul. 27th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - greygirlbeast - Jul. 27th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: But Is It Art? - raidingparty - Jul. 28th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)

Edward Cullen is a pussy.

We need T-shirts.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)

Couldn't agree more with the whole "paranormal romance" thing. And the homophobic hypocrisy manifest in a lot of the people who get off on it.

It's one of the odd and infuriating things I kept running into in Second life.
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(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jul. 27th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - criada - Jul. 27th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
BSG - oxflop - Jul. 27th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: BSG - greygirlbeast - Jul. 28th, 2009 01:44 am (UTC) - Expand
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greygirlbeast
Jul. 27th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
That you, a complex thinker, assume one can take a peek at a few books on Amazon & make a conclusion about an entire genre of books is surprising to me.

It was more than a few, and, in retrospect, I think it was a fair cross-section. How much of this crap do I have to choke down to be qualified to voice an opinion?

I can't understand how someone who writes what you write can accuse a genre of symbolizing or abetting the culture's "necrophilism"?

I never said, nor implied, that it's bad to be a necrophile. I believe I was trying to point out a sort of irony and hypocrisy at work here. But never mind. It's too hot to argue.

& I'm not sure after reading this entry that I want to keep reading your work

As you wish.

Edited at 2009-07-27 08:24 pm (UTC)
stsisyphus
Jul. 27th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Hmm. What I don't find out about that snippet is a little more interesting than what I do.
mevennen
Jul. 27th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I am occasionally asked to do a talk on the Gothic, and one of my pet peeves is the continual process of making the other safe. Once, unicorns were savage destriers that slew anything that wasn't a virgin. Vampires were a horde of rats, or smoke. Angels eviscerated those who did not believe the word of God with flaming swords.

And now they're our imaginary friends, who have nothing better to do than schlep around being our 'totems.' I do, sometimes, feel that pagans have debased the great powers far more effectively than any Christian fundamentalist ever has. I work, on occasion, with Sekhmet, who is not to me a symbol of modern women's empowerment, but something huge and distant and remote. Like Aslan, not a tame lion. I think we need to get the 'awwww' out of 'awe', and pretty damn quick, too.


greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)

Liz, may I quote this in tomorrow's entry? Please?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - mevennen - Jul. 28th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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greygirlbeast
Jul. 28th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC)

...I know I'm not supposed to laugh during a funeral but I really want to.

Go right ahead. The dead won't hear, and if they do, they're likely beyond caring.
(no subject) - fremen_dancer - Jul. 28th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
ardiril
Jul. 27th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
I distinguish between writers and storytellers, just the same as I distinguish between musicians and performers. Rare are the individuals who excel at both.

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( 62 comments — Have your say! )