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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Up & Down

Woke up this morning in a panic that when my father dies (I heard yesterday that his cancer has started up again), a last remaining door to history will close forever.
It's like watching an archive burn.

Instead of working alone at home, I thought I'd better take my laptop to Starbucks to be around the buzz of life. 

Walked into the coffee shop and saw on the front page of the New York Times good news that made me cry:
www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/us/politics/obama-commutes-bulk-of-chelsea-mannings-sentence.html
"Under the terms of the commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed on May 17 of this year rather than in 2045."
(She's served seven years now.)

I wanted to send a photo of myself to my auntie--in the first set (right) I looked so sad, I had to take a fake happy one (left).

Anyway...
I haven't been to see my dad since a year+ ago, when I stayed too long. Short visits are best. I wrote saying I'd pop down* for lunch, if he liked, when I finish my ms. in about a month.
He wrote back saying he'd love that. 


Sometimes we have a nice time together. Here, he dropped in for a quick Christmas visit in 2013.  You can see, we are rather alike!


I posted a few historic photos from his life, on his 80th birthday in 2011. 


* "pop down" = 6 hours on the Greyhound. Flying would cost 10x as much and only save half the time, since you have to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight to get through security.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Favorite Fan Artist: Collages by Melissa Moffat

This morning I was writing about photo manipulation--Photoshop, these days, but people have been altering photos since photography came into existence of course, and I wanted to point to that history. 

I thought Romare Bearden's "collage paintings" would be a good example because while he's not a fan, he is not a "pure" artist either, governed only by aesthetic considerations.
His art tells stories about his times and African American culture, and collage worked well to reflect an experience of fragmentation and reunification (like quilting too). And he tore up magazine photos for material, so he was appropriating mass media.


Hm. Actually, he was a fan---of jazz, which plays a large role in his art. But I am concentrating on media fandom, not direct experience like making music. (Partly because I just don't have room to cover all the things I'd like to. Ditto sports fandoms. Though actually, I don't even want to cover that because I don't have enough love for or interest in it.) 

Bearden was interested in continuity. Here's his collage, 
"Prevalence of Ritual: Baptism" (1964)

So, I thought I might be going too far afield (I'll probably have to cut the art historical references--no room), but I went looking for more "artistic" photocollages in fandom.

(I guess by "artistic" I mean art work where the aesthetic considerations (form, color, etc.) are just as or even more important than the fan narrative. Not that fan art where "fan" comes first is not art, but "art by fans" has a slightly different sense.)

Anyway, you can find most anything online in 5 minutes, and there it was,  aesthetics + fandom in the fantastic and gorgeous comic-book collages of Melissa Moffat < (more at her site).

Here, from her Star Wars (Force Awakens) series, 2016, made from cut-up comic books (paper, not digital):


I found this first on Geek x Girls. with this quote from Moffat:
"I was excited for The Force Awakens so I went to work creating a new collage series using Star Wars comic books … and a stack of tribute magazines I took after watching the movie.  I like to deconstruct the images of the characters and break them down into parts and create a new abstract image."
Moffat started out a making collages out of magazines as a hobby, while she was working in photography, and ended up a fine artist who still cuts up by hand and reassembles comic books and high-fashion magazines (< links to examples of those abstracts from fashion photos and an interview with the artist in LandEscape article).

And here, because I love BB-8:

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Magic Sock Drawer of My Brain


 
Now I have exactly one month, I am working really pretty well. Deadlines really are my friend.
And because I've had so much fallow time, my ideas have pretty much lined themselves up, ready to go. That's the huge upside of procrastination:
ideas have lots of time to generate.

It's as if ideas and information were socks, all out of order and inside-out and holey, and the brain were a magic sock drawer that sorted and repaired them.
I just shove jumbled ideas & info in, and, given enough time, the magic drawer sorts them out! It's so great. I love my brain.
My problem is I can't get the drawer to dispense socks for dispersal until there's a deadline approaching. (Or unless I'm doing it for fun and for free, like blogging and email.)

So, that's a weird metaphor. I suppose it makes more sense to say something like my brain is like a crock pot that slowly cooks whatever I put in it.
But the way it works doesn't feel that normal and sensible, it feels more like a weird magic sock drawer.
_________
Image from "10 Thing to tell you that you are a master of postponing"; a top post on Tumblr today, as counted by Rebloggy.

Fandom Related Videos

Recommended: Off Book, a PBS web series that explores cutting-edge art, internet culture, and the people that create it--
in videos less than 10 minutes long. 


The three I've seen so far are a lot of fun, but they overemphasize male fans---for instance, there wasn't one single female fanartist interviewed for their Fan Art episode.  
(NOT fun.)
Annoying, if all too predictable, but––weirdly––a plus for me right now because I need some more male voices for my book. Fanfiction-writing and fanvidding (making song vids especially) are primarily female art forms, and they are not only my personal entry point but also a HUGE part of fandom. So, these are useful male voices to balance my quotes.

Here's the link to OFF BOOK videos on youtube

"Do Not Obey in Advance"

"Do not obey in advance.
Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked.  [If] you've already done this... Stop.


"Stand out. Someone has to.
It is easy in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.


"Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom."

"As one personality on state-run television puts it, 'We all know there will be no real politics. But we still have to give our viewers the sense something is happening. . . . Politics has got to feel like … like a movie!'"

--From Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible, 2014, by Peter Pomerantsev 

This book's subtitle is The Surreal Heart of the New Russia. Weird that it feels so apt here in the USA now...
The author is a British journalist.

From NYT review:
"Pomerantsev focuses on a group of apparent outliers, using them to tell the story of today’s Russia. Among these figures are a gangster who loves movies, a model who committed suicide and a lawyer whose death in prison epitomizes the Kafkaesque nature of the country’s pretense of a justice system. Yet in Pomerantsev’s telling, they aren’t outliers at all; they’re characters playing parts in the Kremlin’s script." 

Round-up of images that felt pertinent to me on Tumblr this morning:

 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frumka_Plotnicka

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mr. Spock addresses Donald Trump


Well, that was almost too easy, the way Donald Trump slipped so well into the place of Trelane, a dangerous idiot-child alien, from Star Trek TOS's episode "The Squire of Gothos" (1967).

This is truly what Spock says, verbatim.
"I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline; I object to power without constructive purpose. "

Original screencap here, at Trekcore.

language disruptors (3 links)

This reminded me of what I see on Tumblr:
"Criticizing teenage girls for the way they speak is nothing short of a time-honored tradition for adults who take issue with to everything from slang to vocal fry. But Quartz’s Gretchen McCulloch has a bone to pick with those critics.
She argues that female teenagers are actually “language disruptors” — innovators who invent new words that make their way into the vernacular.
--from "Teenage Girls Have Led Language Innovation for Centuries", Smithsonian, 2015


Also from above article:
"William Shakespeare has long been seen as the poster boy for introducing new words into the English language, though some have questioned his celebrated language disruptor status."


From "Did William Shakespeare really invent all those words?":
This is like asking if Shakespeare stole his plots: whether or not he did (he did), it's not the key to his greatness: 
"And while new words and Shakespeare's clever turns of phrase delight us to this day, for Shapiro, even a single word can capture the imagination:
"When King Lear, holding his dead daughter Cordelia in his arms, says, 'Never, Never, Never, Never…'"
_____________
Also: "They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve", New York Times, 2012:
From Valley Girls to the Kardashians, young women have long been mocked for the way they talk.
Whether it be uptalk (pronouncing statements as if they were questions? Like this?), creating slang words like “bitchin’ ” and “ridic,” or the incessant use of “like” as a conversation filler, vocal trends associated with young women are often seen as markers of immaturity or even stupidity.
Right?
____________ 
 
Related, but not:
This isn't about boys' & girls' language, it's about morning people and not-morning people.
I'm a morning person and I've had this conversation many times with other females who are not:




Friday, January 13, 2017

Blog Views Up... Why?

Up until September 2016, my stat counter showed that my posts averaged around 20 to 100 views. (Sometimes it's in the thousands, for posts like the Brecht poem from the Lives of Others.)
Anyway---all of a sudden this past September, average post-views jumped up to 100 to 300.

I don't use a sophisticated stat counter, just the free one Blogger provides. It doesn't give much info, so I don't know if this increase is an anomaly or even some sort of miscount (either before or now).
Comments have not increased, so maybe it's just...  a passing breeze?
Robots?

Thoughts, anyone? 


"This is Radio Nowhere,
Is there anybody alive out there?"

--Bruce Springsteen


Two Movies

1. A Not-Very-Good Movie, But Worth Seeing  
Hidden Figures (2017)

Within a few minutes, I was groaning. Hidden Figures is an after-school special, a Message movie, based on a true story, about three black female mathematicians who were part of NASA's first space launches. [NPR article on the real women]

As Marz said, It's the sort of movie where everyone's clothes are ironed.

Yes! That exact point bugged me: 
Everyone in the space launch data program had to work overtime, every day, but when the women stand up, their dresses are never smashed flat from their behinds, and the men's crisp white shirts never crumple or get splashed with coffee (though drinking coffee is a small plot point).

It's laughable to see the unit head (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory) demonstrating to experienced aeronautic engineers what John Glenn's orbit will look like, using a little model spaceship
Was this right after he showed them how the Earth goes around the Sun, using an orange and a grapefruit?

The movie leaves no doubt you're dealing with Simplification and Romantification here, which weakens it considerable by making it preachy …and boring.

HOWEVER, it is such an interesting story, I'm glad I went and I recommend seeing it--(at least on Netflix, but it's good to see it in theaters to let the industry know we'll pay to see movies about female nerds of color, or any combo of these factors).
[photo collage ^ via Blavity--more info on the NASA women there too]

A surprise stand-out was Kirsten Dunst, an actor who has never impressed me before. She portrays the white person who doesn't think they're racist, who "has nothing against those people," whose face subtly registers discomfort and disdain. 

No discredit to the other actors:
no other character has much range to work with---the black women are as spotless and smooth as the clothes. 

Oh! I just looked up the writer and director, Theodore Melfi. He made St. Vincent (2014), which was similarly a simplistic & boring hagiography.  Starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy, so that took some doing.

II. A Totally Different Kind of Movie


I just happened to have watched London, The Modern Babylon (2012) the night before.  
It's a masterpiece of creating complexity from chaos.
 Director Julien Temple weaves together (mostly but not only documentary) film footage of London, from the earliest days of film up through the London Olympics, showing how the city and its inhabitants ebb and flow like the tideway of the River Thames.

It's the sort of documentary film-making I love: heavily visual, with little explanation, leaving you sometimes in the dark but free to use your own brain to read the images.

Themes that emerge include mobs and musicians, immigration and gentrification, and People with Things on Their Heads

Images ^ from an interview with director Julien Temple at the British Film Institute:
http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/back-time-julien-temple-london-modern-babylon

This was the antidote I needed to watching several episodes of The Crown––Netflix does to the current British monarchy what Hidden Figures does to space travel: 
tells it––sells it––to the children.

TFW: You don't want to get up in the morning

That feel when you don't want to wake up in the morning

L&M's dog Astro likes to sleep in.
"At least let me lie here and stretch for a while."



photos by bink

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Your Work Matters

From LA Times article by writer John Scalzi [his blog, Whatever],
"John Scalzi's 10-point plan for getting creative work done in the age of Trump"

10. Remember: Your work matters.
There are people who rationalize that the next few years will be great for art, in the way that Margaret Thatcher’s rule was great for music in the UK in the ’80s.
I don’t think much of that argument — there’s always great art, in every political climate — but I do think it’s true that people will need art and the creative people who make it. Your work will matter to someone; it will help them get through. But only if you make it in the first place. 

Take care of yourself, then get to work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Shakespeare/Star Trek Slash Vid, Academic Paper on

"SHAKESPEARE IN STAR TREK SLASH FICTION"
by Laura Campillo Arnaiz, Shakespeare scholar on the faculty at the University of Murcia, Spain [n.d., 2010?]

Given as a talk at a conference, here: Cached online

That cached article has screwy formatting^. For the original doc, go to this google search and select the first result. It'll look like this:
FRESCA NOTES: I tried to contact Laura Campillo Arnaiz to ask about sharing her article, the first part of which is about my fanvid (below), but she's on medical leave. 
Since it's an academic article available online, and since it's about my fanwork that I discussed with her in emails in 2010, I figure it's not only OK but great to share it.  

"Kirk/Spock: The Marriage of True Minds (Shakespeare Sonnet 116)", by Fresca (me), uploaded on Apr 23, 2009:

 



ARTICLE, Part 1:  
1. AIM
The aim of this paper is to discuss the way Shakespeare has been appropriated in the Star Trek (ST) slash fandom. In order to do so, I will analyse two ST slash fan fiction examples (video and macro story) to determine (1) what Shakespearian texts have been appropriated and (2) what role Shakespeare plays with regard to the Kirk/Spock slash dynamics.

2. INTRODUCTION


2.1. FANFICTION AND SLASH
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fan fiction can be defined as: “Stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet”.
Typically, this fan labor originates in a feeling of admiration for characters appearing in TV shows or movies, and explores themes and ideas that are not developed in the originating medium. These works are almost never authorized by the owner of the original work, so although they relate closely to its fictional canonical universe, they exist outside it.

Fan fiction hardly gets published professionally, and it can mostly be found in fanzines and the Internet. It is an extremely productive and popular activity- a quick Google search introducing the terms “Harry Potter” and “fan fiction” returns almost 6 million results, the stories archived under this category in fanfiction.net alone surpassing the 400k mark.


Scholar Henry Jenkins reflects about this phenomenon in the following way:

"Readers […] have a strong incentive to continue to elaborate on these story elements, working them over through their speculations, until they take on a life of their own. Fan fiction can be seen as an unauthorized expansion of these media franchises into new directions which reflect the reader's desire to "fill in the gaps" they have discovered in the commercially produced material."--http://www.henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html
One of the most popular sub-genres of fan fiction is slash. The shortest and most classical way to define it would be saying slash is fan fiction in which two males are in a relationship. A lengthier and more detailed would be the following:
"Slash is a genre of fanfic which deals almost exclusively with same sex homoerotic relationships. Research has suggested it is written and read primarily by heterosexual females. As previously stated, slash began in the 70s with Kirk/Spock fiction. The term "slash" came from the slash mark between the names of the characters. In this way, the particular pairing of characters is articulated. It has spread to all kinds of TV and movie characters." --http://www.lyricalmagic.com/fanficFAQ.html#slash
Indeed, there’s hardly any popular TV series, film or book without a slash fandom in its trail, among the most popular being Supernatural (Dean/Sam), Sherlock Holmes (Holmes/Watson) and Lord of the Rings (Frodo/Sam), to name a few.
However, as it is pointed out in the previous quotation, the term slash was coined during the early 70s, and the first characters ever being slashed were captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from the Star Trek original series (TOS). The appeal of this series and its characters has hardly decayed throughout the decades, if the reruns and later incarnations of the franchise are any indication of its success.


Although the franchise has never been one to enjoy an unwavering success, with some series and movies rating well-below the expected standards, the interest for the Kirk/Spock dynamics has stood the test of time. Although each reader and writer will give their own reasons for liking this pair, the friendship between the characters, their willingness to sacrifice their lives and careers to save the other and the mutual devotion they feel for each other are the basis of a relationship slash fans everywhere unquestioningly define as ‘love’.

LEFT. Still from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
RIGHT. Motivational K/S poster by Aevylonya reads:
“CANON. Because if you don’t see it, you’re blind.”

--http://aevylonya.deviantart.com/art/Kirk-Spock-motivational-nr-1-159253812

Gene Roddenberry, creator of the ST franchise and its original characters, never objected to the slash writing of Kirk and Spock, although he was concerned at times that this revelation reached the mainstream and it could so hurt the series. However, he was open to the idea of a love relationship between Kirk and Spock:

"Yes, there's certainly some of that—certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal—we never suggested in the series—physical love between the two. But it's the—we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century."
--Shatner, William, et al. Where No Man... The Authorized Biography of William Shatner, Ace Books, 1979, p. 148.
[Fresca notes: A scan of the chapter is online here: http://aconitum-napellus.deviantart.com/art/Shatner-Where-No-Man-extract-198721545]"
In the following section, I will focus on the way slash fans have appropriated Shakespeare to comment on the Kirk/Spock relationship. In order to do so, I will centre my analysis on two examples of slash fan work, “The Marriage of True Minds” and “My Captain Eyes are Nothing like the Sun”.

2.1. KIRK/SPOCK: THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS

Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 (“Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments”) is the only slash video around which focuses on the Kirk/Spock (K/S) relationship with a Shakespearian background. When I first encountered it, I contacted the author, Fresca, who granted me permission to quote the video and also reproduce the macros she used in its making. 

[macros here on l'astronave]

Fresca’s sonnet 116 is part of a series of videos where the author uses different poems to comment on the K/S relationship. Among the poems used are “I sing the body electric” by Walt Whitman, “The Definition of Love” by Andrew Marvell, excerpts from Virgil’s Book IV of The Aeneid and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.

When I asked Fresca why she had chosen this sonnet in particular, she told me: “My mother had me memorize this poem when I was about nine”, emphasizing it was [not] one of the poems young kids were taught as part of their academic education. As she grew older and became a fan of ST, Fresca realized it suited the K/S interaction very well, and decided it would be one of the texts she would use for her “Poetry in Space” project. In the comments to the YouTube upload, she further comments:

"I made this one because with the new movie opening soon, it seems behoovy to remember that love survives time, alterations, and even near doom--and what better reminder than Shakespeare's Sonnet 116? (It was only after I uploaded this that someone told me April 23 is Shakespeare's birthday.)"
Indeed, as we shall see, Sonnet 116 was not particularly chosen because it is part of the group of sonnets addressed to a young man (so making the point of a homoerotic K/S relationship obvious), but because it defines love as unaltered and unalterable, emphasizing its constancy in a world of change.
The video opens in the following way:


The setting is relaxed and free of any sense of impending danger, something somehow striking since the crew of the Enterprise hardly spends a lazy day in their exploration of the universe. However, in this particularly idle afternoon, Spock has an idea to amuse his captain and spend time together.
 

Rather than suggesting a game of the 3-D chess both like to play, Spock brings a poem to Kirk. Both characters are known to quote Shakespeare in the original series, so their interest in the Bard shouldn’t really come as a surprise. As a matter of fact, Kirk quotes sonnet LVII (Being your slave, what should I do but tend/ Upon the hours and times of your desire?) in Plato’s Stepchildren, so we may assume he knows Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Interestingly, Spock offers to read the poem, therefore assuming the role of the I voice, what leaves Kirk as the addressee. What follows is a series of screencaps from the ST original series (TOS), the ST motion pictures (I to VI) and the new 2009 ST movie (Reboot), which illustrate each of the lines from the sonnet:

These stills from The City on the Edge of Forever (TOS: 1x28) couldn’t have fit this first line better. The true minds are obviously Kirk and Spock, who manage to overcome the risks of a time travel to the 20th century which could have altered humanity’s future. In macro 6 Kirk and Spock are at the beginning of the episode facing the time portal, and in the following one, they’ve successfully returned to their point of origin.


 If there was an “impediment” in this episode threatening the “marriage” of these two characters, that was Edith Keeler, with whom Kirk falls in love. Regrettably, for the timeline of historical events not to be upset, Kirk must let Keeler die, which he does, returning to his ship and to his usual self at the end of the episode.  
 


Turnabout Intruder (TOS: 3x79) is a clever choice for these lines. Using alien technology, the demented Dr. Janice Lester achieves a successful body and personality swap with Kirk. Lester-in-Kirk will try to take command of the Enterprise, while Kirk-in-Lester becomes desperate in his attempt to demonstrate who he really is. The only one who believes the captain’s story is Spock, who mind-melds with him as the image in macro 9 shows, and is convinced that, despite the feminine body, the consciousness inhabiting it is Kirk’s.

Shakespeare’s lines highlight Spock’s unwavering loyalty to Kirk and his determination to help him regain his real body at the cost of a court martial and his own life.

The choice of stills 10 and 11 seems to have been made following the allusion to “ever-fixed mark” in line 5 and the moment when Kirk is preparing to shoot an arrow.
More interesting is image 12, where a calmed Spock overpowers a deranged Kirk in The Enemy Within (TOS 1x5). Following a transporter malfunction, Kirk’s persona is split in two halves inhabiting two different bodies. When the evil doppelganger attempts to take control of the Enterprise, Spock overpowers him restoring Captain Kirk to his own and unique self.


[Fresca notes: Laura is wrong here, though in a way that improves the story. Macro 12 is from the Cloud Minders and has no such wonderful extension to it. (Meaning no disrespect, but doesn't everyone knows Kirk wore his green wrap-around in the Enemy Within?)]

Throughout these examples, Spock epitomizes the idea of love as defined by Shakespeare, remaining immutable in the face of “impediments”, “alterations” and “tempests”.
The comparison will wittily continue in images 13 and 14, where love is compared to the star which guides a ship in its journey through the ocean, preventing it from getting lost or shipwrecked:


As science officer of the Enterprise, it is Spock who is in charge of supervising the flying parameters and stellar charts before they’re fed to the computer of the Enterprise, therefore effectively assuring the ship’s course. In this way, Spock appears as the “star” to the Enterprise (the “wandering bark” adrift in the universe) but also as Kirk’s personal “star”, since his logical and rational arguments anchor the captain’s reckless nature and allow him to take informed decisions that safeguard the well-being of everybody aboard the Enterprise.
Macro 14 was probably chosen because Spock is pointing at something which may look to a viewer to be a star in the distant heaven.


Image 15 provides a very funny moment which is cleverly used in conjunction with the Shakespearean line. During the first episodes of TOS (“The Cage” and “Where Man Has Gone Before”) the characters’ make-up and uniforms where very different from those that became well-known and established throughout the rest of the seasons.
These lapses in continuity have been used as joking material by the ST fans for many years, but in the context of line “Love’s not time’s fool”, Spock’s weird make-up and yellow uniform become more serious. Indeed, in the context of a poem where love is defined as immutable, these external changes are merely superficial- we may think Spock looks like a fool, but his nature is not affected by his outward appearance, in the same way that Kirk’s many changes (physical and psychological) do not alter Spock’s feelings for his captain.
Further proof of this is found in images 16 and 17, where a youthful Kirk is compared to his older self, artificially and unnaturally grown old in The Deadly Years (TOS 2, 11).

So far in the video, the love between these two characters has stood many proofs within the TOS universe- no matter what dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations they encounter, Kirk and Spock are always restored to their usual selves, growing in wisdom and experience.
However, the video moves now to illustrate Shakespeare’s lines with images from the ST movies. The point here is that the characters are not artificially transformed as per script requirements, but are truly changed as the actors portraying them have aged. However, despite the change from TOS to the movies’ universe, Kirk and Spock still harbor the same feelings for each other:

 

Not only has their love been kept intact despite the passing of the years, but Kirk and Spock’s relationship in the ST movies is even closer and stronger than in the TOS episodes, with Kirk risking his life and professional career for the sake of Spock and Spock saving Kirk from the “edge of doom”, referenced in macro 19 as Sha-Ka-Ree, a planet hiding an evil entity which almost kills Kirk in ST:V.
The unchanging nature of Kirk and Spock’s love is made evident in image 20, where the two characters are now portrayed by different actors in the recent ST movie (Reboot):



These two alternative versions of the characters’ younger selves inhabit a parallel universe where things are very different from the canonical TOS and ST films. Still, despite the initial hostility between the young Kirk and Spock, they will eventually come to terms with each other and develop the friendship which has been a trademark of the characters for the past four decades.

Shakespeare’s line “If this be error” highlights Fresca’s -and so many other ST fans’- anxiety about the performance of actor Chris Pine in the role of the new Captain Kirk. The video was uploaded a month before ST Reboot’s opening, and although the fans’ unease proved misplaced, image 20 is proof of how concerned the fan community felt when they learnt a new ST movie was retaking the TOS characters with a different cast.

Macro 21 concludes the sonnet and takes us back to the beginning of the story, where Spock was reading the poem to Kirk during an uneventful afternoon in the Enterprise.
Kirk’s reaction to the poetry reading is playful and apparently oblivious to the sonnet -and Spock’s- message:

Ship here is used with the double meaning of Kirk’s ship (the Enterprise) and his ‘ship’ (derived from ‘relationship’, and implying the concept of a “fictional couple” in the slash fandom) with Spock. Image 22 belies Kirk’s feigned ignorance about the real meaning of Spock’s reading, as much as image 23 shows Spock hasn’t been fooled by his captain’s comment, but prefers to let it rest.
The video ends with a final image crediting the author and a dedication to her best friend. Fresca and Bink’s friendship is depicted in image 25 through Kirk and Spock’s friendship in one of the final scenes of ST: IV, where they actually seem to be holding hands:

Fresca chose to score the video to Bach’s Suite for Cello No.1 in G Major without realizing this choice would add another layer of homoeroticism to her macro story.
As some viewers pointed out to her via private comments, this suite is a favorite of captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin from the Patrick O’Brian Master and Commander novels. These two male characters develop an unbreakable friendship throughout the novels, and they bear certain similarities with Kirk and Spock, for both couples spend most part of their lives relatively isolated in a ship fulfilling military missions. Needless to say, Aubrey and Maturin have been slashed to no end since the publication of O’Brian’s first novel.

Anyway, what I find interesting about this video is that, after four decades of K/S slash, the relationship between these two is so blatantly obvious to the slash fandom that it would be ludicrous to think it needs authorization in Shakespeare. This is why I consider Shakespeare is not here appropriated to grant “cultural capital” (Bourdieu, 1984: 53-57) or credibility to the K/S relationship, but quite the opposite- it is Kirk and Spock’s love what proves Shakespeare right. If there were ever a couple of fictional sci-fi characters who could exemplify the veracity of sonnet 116, it would undoubtedly be them, as Fresca succeeds in demonstrating.

End of Part 1 of "SHAKESPEARE IN STAR TREK SLASH FICTION" by Laura Campillo Arnaiz, University of Murcia

The article continues with Part 2
Brief excerpt:
2.1. "MY CAPTAIN’S EYES ARE NOTHING LIKE THE SUN"
See original macro story here:  
http://ladyblahblah.livejournal.com/53073.html

A very different but even more intriguing situation is the one we find in ladyblahblah’s macro story. Uploaded to her LiveJournal a couple of weeks after ST Reboot was released, it followed a discussion with a friend about “how certain poems just fit certain characters really well”.

As it was the case with Fresca’s video, I don’t think Shakespeare here is appropriated to grant credibility to or authorize the K/S relationship; in my opinion, his poem is used to illustrate the characters’ personalities in the new ST movie, and to tell a love story which both in the film and in the poem seemed unlikely at best, but which reached a successful resolution despite the many impediments on the way. In this way, Shakespeare’s use by the ST slash fandom is more documented and fully developed than the random Shakespearean quotations which pepper TOS and the films- occurrences as witty as inconsequential in their definition of the characters.
 _________________
End of article, "SHAKESPEARE IN STAR TREK SLASH FICTION," by Laura Campillo Arnaiz

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wittgenstein's Props; or, In the Green Valley of Silliness

I keep laughing out loud, reading Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir by Norman Malcolm (OUP, 1958, second ed., 1984), on the recommendation of blogger Michael.

Not that W is funny * ––he's mostly either thinking, or depressed. "It was always a strain to be with Wittgenstein," Malcolm says. 
And his rooms "were austerely furnished …[and] always scrupulously clean. There was no easy chair or reading lamp. The walls were bare."

But Malcolm does report some mundanities in W's life that are Monty Pythonesque in their juxtaposition with this austerity.
It occurred to me I could easily find pictures of some things like W's things, from the movies.

1. Wittgenstein liked movies.
"He insisted on sitting in the very first row of seats, so that the screen would occupy his entire field of vision, and his mind would be turned away from the thoughts of the lecture and his feelins of revulsion. …He was fond of the film stars Carmen Miranda and Betty Hutton." (p. 26)

2. Wittgenstein "presented my wife with a dish mop, as an improvement on a dishcloth." (p. 40)

[I couldn't find a workable image from the movie, but this ^ is inspired by Joy (2015), starring Jennifer Lawrence as the inventor of the Miracle Mop, sold on QVC.]

3. "It was impossible for him to think when he heard the piano. He obtained a large second-hand fan which produced a uniform noise in sufficient volume to drown the piano." (p. 54)



Singing in the Rain, (1952) ^ Gene Kelly sets up a sound stage to sing "You Were Meant for Me" to Debbie Reynolds

4. My favorite: "In his rooms at Trinity, he kept a small potted flowering plant." (p. 52)



Hot Fuzz (2007), Simon Pegg and his peace lily^
_______________________

* Here's Michael's bit of Wittgensteinian silliness: 
"A Meeting with Ludwig Wittgenstein"

 Did  a little digging, and it seems W approved of silliness. Note from Wittgenstein on Thought and Will, by Roger Teichmann:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Me and the Mushroom Network (Thinking is a work in progress.)

Happy to say, I have taken the publisher's offer of a month's extension (it was in my contract all along, as my subconscious knew full well--it seems to have a good sense of time and how far it can push it out), so I have until Feb. 15 to finish the ms, which makes me happy because as I write, I keep uncovering more things and making more connections, and I want to write it all out into a huge THING, and then prune it down.
Which takes times.


I lie half-awake and think of interconnections.
You know how pleasing that is.

Its great to have more time--my brain is weak and doesn't focus on work for more than about 4 to 6 hours a day.
Though I'm not sure it's "weakness" actually, it's more like my brain gets full and needs time to digest. That takes as long as it takes. 
If I rush it, I don't get better results, I get a hairball.

(But sometimes, yeah, sometimes it's laziness. I am not a hard worker. (That has its upside too: laziness creates empty time and space.))
 
If my complete ms turns out to be coherent--and that is far from guaranteed (I'm not being modest in saying that)--I'd like to share online the parts that won't go in the published version. There's some fun stuff I've uncovered and lined up. 
Otherwise, or also, I'd love to put more bits and pieces here.
 
I want to take time to write out more of my thoughts on this past Year of Living Fannishly before they become so normal to me that I think I've always thought them, yet can't quite say what they are.
I don't know what I think right now.


This is a work in progress.
 
I need to write MORE about it, so my thinking becomes clearer (or falls apart in the light of day, like a vampire).
I'm aware, for instance that some of my thoughts and feelings are defensive. Feeling defensive muddies the process, and yet it's a spur to thinking too.
But those feelings take some sorting out.


For instance, I react against the train of thought that expresses little but disdain for Internet culture.
I was at a coffee shop with an old friend recently, and he pointed to a row of silent people all on their devices and said it was sad they weren't talking, like we were.
"Most of them are talking," I said. 
But he would have none of it.
I do get that, the sadness over the loss of face-to-face networks, though as someone who came from a family and schools where I felt emotionally beleaguered more than supported, I'm not personally nostalgic for these networks. 
I do share the disgust, distrust, or distress about what a trap the Internet can be, much as I sing its praises. 
I don't follow my friend jumping, as he does, from that personal sadness to saying the internet is making us lazy and bad. 
What bothers me most isn't that it's degrading f2f socializing or the English language, which I hear people say. It's allowed people who'd never would have written anything, much less published it, to express themselves--yes, badly--and as one of those people myself, I am all for that. 
What bothers me is that the Internet (and internet fandom) can be an addictive, hedonistic sucking force, like a spider immobilizing us in sticky threads to drain our fluids. And that force is us, our own nature.

So, when were people not hedonistic and self-involved? and lazy, preferring distractions to unpleasant work? Or even to pleasant work?
This is an old problem.
I always say I'm with Saint Paul, crying, Why, of why, don't I do the things I love? 
Or Augustine lamenting over stealing pears he knew weren't even edible, Why, oh why, do I do these stupid things?

The Internet shows us who we humans always were and what we're  like--but that includes the GOOD stuff---good stuff that gets amped up when we share it. 

It's easy to see the good gets better when it's shared. The Internet empowers and connects people who in the history of the world have been powerless and isolated.

I ask myself, does the bad get worse?
Some would say that's easy to see, but I'm not sure... 
The Bad certainly becomes more effective and widespread, and it moves a lot faster. 
Not sure if it's actually worse on an individual level?
After all, the Crusades were powered by mere biology--horses, wind, human feet... And Genghis Khan and his ilk didn't need the internet.
We can do more bad, faster--and that's a problem!!!---but are we worse people, as I hear some people say?

Ay! that's getting too big-picture for me, and my brain is wobbling.
Zooming back down, what I can reasonably ask is,
Was I doing or likely to do something better with my time before the internet? better than the mutual pleasure and help that's come to and through the internet? 

And I'd say, no, quite the opposite: some of the best things I've done in my life have come through online connections: blogging, emailing, creative fandom (e.g. making vids).
It may seem silly to put much stock in a Tumblr comment saying I was "an asset to humanity" for my photo-manipulation of Hutch gazing with love at Starsky---but why not take it at face value?
What I heard was, "Your work makes me feel less lonely and more at home in this world."

It's like the quote from the Quran I posted the other day that the White Helmets in Aleppo used as their motto:
"Whoever saves one life saves humanity."

Does that have to be as obvious as digging someone out of a bombed building?
I don't think so.

Overall, I think the web is like more those underground mushroom webs I compared it to the other day than like a spider's web.

I went and read more about the underground life of mushrooms (yay! internet). You may know (I didn't), their underground threads are called mycelium/-a, and biologists have compared them to the Internet. More on the science here:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet

I had no idea the fungal threads not only connect mushrooms, they connect 90% of Earth's land plants.
Ninety percent.
They are like the bees of the plant world: if they ceased to exist, we'd lose a lot more than honey and mushroom. 

 
I'm sure the Internet can help the good get better because it happened to me.
For instance, I look at the "me too" comments on my autobiographical vid Star Trek, My Love


They encourage me because we need to know we're not alone––solitary confinement is torture. 
I put something out there (my vid), saying this helped me, this connected me; and the comments came bouncing back. That's like the visible part of the mushroom.

And then I ponder how that same vid got translated into Russian and shown at a con outside Moscow. Now tensions are running high between my country (the USA) and Russia are once again, but I don't think of Putin as representative, I think of the fan who did the translations---and I hope they all think of me.
It's the internet fungi at work.
 
Not that that will save the world, (though who knows what all goes into that--that's the invisible part of the mushroom), 
but for me, Goodness like that is worth all the stupid, lazy hours I've spent staring at the curve of Kirk's hip...
 
And my fellow fans and bloggers and all were a huge inspiration to me: we are all part of what sets and keeps that web humming, you especially, who make stuff, and write stuff, and share stuff. 
There is no one, singular author.
That's the real brilliance of the internet, to me:
that we don't only sit there like dullards (tho' plenty of that too), we jump in and make stuff too.
Making stuff is the closest we come to being divine---we are creating out of nothingness.

And the Bad is when we destroy and tear down instead, especially intentionally--(though I contend we're mostly too dim to realize when we're doing it, and I don't exclude myself from that judgment).


The Internet can get you by the ankle and was pull you under like Beowulf.
That can be bad and sad and scary and genuinely dangerous. I think of gamers, for instance, who have died because they couldn't step away from the keyboard (console? whatever).
So I'm not dismissing the dangers. Just saying they existed before, too.  
 
Hey, do I sound like Kirk here?!?!
Making a speech in support of the Messy Humans? "Life is meaningless without the freedom to make our own mistakes!"
I do feel romantic about it that way.
 
I also see my own capacity for being complacent, oh yeah,  mean-spirited, and certainly for being thoughtless. 
I only say I wouldn't be any better if the internet didn't exist---rather, I think I'd be worse.

To wrap up with the mushroom network.
It evolved over a billion years ago to aid organisms to move from the oceans to the land.
What if a network is evolving that will aid us humans in moving beyond the self-involved, self-destructive, short-sighted creatures we are? Whether that's a social network or an actual rewiring of our physical neural networks, our brains.
I don't know. 

I just know I have to get through this life, and so do we all. 
What helps?
____________________

TED Talk about the science: 
The whole thing's mind-blowing, but info about the mushroom web ("mycorrhiza") starts around 09:30.
"How Trees Talk to Each Other" by Canadian forester Suzanne Simard:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Update: Credit where credit is due. Couples on the Couch I: Uhura & Spock

Yay! Looking for stuff about racebending, I came across art by Shirozora [< links to deviantart Star Trek portfolio], an artist I recognized as the maker of a piece I posted last month, one of my favorite pieces of fanart. Now I know it's called "some downtime."

(The racebent art is "If Castiel Was Zoe Saldana".)

Shirozora, I love you! Maybe consider signing your art more clearly, so admirers can find more of it?

Original post:
I wasn't keen on the romance between reboot Uhura and Spock until the third movie Star Trek: Beyond (2016). They're clearly not the original characters at this point, and I think they're actually pretty great together. 

And here's fanart of them are doing my favorite thing (along with reading in bed): reading on the couch together. 
I imagine she's reading aloud to him, …but what?


 
Sorry, I can't find the original post or quite make out the artist's name: shiyora? 2012
Update: Now I know, it's Shirozora. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fanvid History Stash, II

See also, "Fanvid History Stash, I"

Writing about fanvids––"the practice of taking, expanding, and/or altering popular mass media narratives to create new derivative works… a core part of creative fan cultures" [per politicalremix]–– I really just want to say, 
"Here, look at these!"

I'm not going to embed them here--that gets unwieldy--but these are live links to some I'd point to, showing some evolution of vidding.

1. OMG,  this is HISTORY, guys!

"Kandy Fong's First Slideshow" (12:06 min) "In 1975, Kandy Fong made what is arguably the first vid by constructing a slide show that set Star Trek images to music. Fong had access to footage left on Trek's cutting room floor and, inspired by the Beatles video to "Strawberry Fields Forever", built a narrative around an original filk, or fannish folk song."

Sound quality is poor, but worth it (for Trekkies). I transcribed the voice-over dialogue onto this screencap:

2. "Apocalypse Pooh" (1987)
Todd Graham recasts animals from Disney's animated Winnie the Pooh in Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War drama Apocalypse Now
7:48   s  l  o  w  minutes, to modern eyes, and more interesting as an idea than fun to watch, but a fascinating bit of vidding history,  from when vids were made on VCRs, and also interesting because it's not the more usual romantic story.

3. "Close to You" (2:07 min., 1999): "Tzikeh made 'Close to You' by combining footage from The X-Files with love metaphors from the famous Carpenters song."
The more usual romantic story, this manages to be wonderfully tongue-in-cheek as well as touchingly sincere. 

4. That was close, and this is "Closer".
This classic, by t. jonsey & killa, set to the Nine Inch Nails song, was first shown at a con in 2004. 
[Trigger warning: slash rape]
Uploaded by someone else, without permission in 2005, it went viral. Even though it suffered(?) from "context collapse", it obviously still works...   
Probably inspired thousands of vids---it certainly was the vid that made me start thinking, "I want to make one." 

I see new viewers are finding this due to the 2016 documentary For the Love of Spock, in which Leonard Nimoy's son specifically mentions this video as being rather "compelling".

5. "Multifandom Mashup 2016: 'To Absent Friends'" (2016): 
The modern aesthetic: finding unity in stitching together flashes of fractured bits. Vidder Pteryx is an editing genius. She says, 
"2016 has given us ... a lot of things to do and to think about.
The world is changing. It looks like we are on the final frontier, standing there and looking back to remember everything, say goodbye and finally make a step into new reality."
She also lists the movies (173) and TV shows (46), plus 3 animations that she included, here

6. "Hope: Rogue One" (1:48 min.) Sometimes (maybe even not infrequently) fanvids are better than their source. I wouldn't include this in a fandom-history list, but this [as of now, one-week-old] vid by the above Pteryx gets the good, and hopeful essence of a movie I walked out of.

I walked out of Rogue One, the latest (Dec 2016) Star Wars, because it was too much like watching the world at war as it really is now, and I couldn't take it. 
Or/also, it wasn't made for me. 
It was a fan's movie, and I'm not a Star Wars fan: 40 minutes in and we were on the nth planet, meeting the xth character, and I didn't care about any of them. 
If it'd been Star Trek, I'd have sat through it anyway.

I'll just go rewatch Diego Luna [here with Felicity Jones] in Y Tu Mamá También again. (Hm, haven't seen it in years--will I still like it? Must find out.)