We have returned, and comments are reactivated.
Greetings from beautiful, noisy New Orleans! We’re honeymooning here until the end of the week, which is part of the reason you can’t comment right now (though we’re still checking emails at least periodically if you’re dying to tell us something). So don’t expect much in the way of posting, since I think I’ll be restricting my close reading skills to menus.
Anyway, I’m writing for a few reasons, one of which is to let you know that we’ll be moving to a new hosting service when we get back to Kentucky, which shouldn’t result in more than a little downtime, and that we’ll be getting a new look/structure soon. But also it’s been almost exactly a year since I started writing on the current incarnation of Peiratikos and it’s been an eventful year. The newer archive system will, I hope, be a little more reader-friendly, but I spent some time a few days ago reading through the current archive and enjoyed seeing how much we’ve written (not a lot lately) and how I’ve been able to interact with some of our readers and other bloggers.
When I started writing about comics here, I thought I’d focus on two topics that were close to me personally and theoretically at the time, what I called “creation of self through narrative” and the way that people feel justified in the rightness of the cruel and hurtful things they do. I did talk about these a lot, although never as much as I expected to, and I was more successful when ignoring things like that and talking about texts directly. That will be something to keep in mind as I start the next year, in which I also have to remember not to write so often about how much I hate fanboys.
But what I find really interesting is that the three books that would make my list for being the most moving in their respective categories aren’t really about creation of self and don’t deal with self-centered horribleness. Instead what Seaguy, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, and Enki Bilal’s Nikopol Trilogy share (at least as it seems to me now, though it may not by next January) is a naive or ignorant protagonist concertedly finding a path for himself in a well-realized world that is not our own. While a happy new marriage isn’t (I hope!) a bizarre dystopia or a video-game-fantastic reality, it’s an interesting start to a new year in which I plan to have lots of new things to say.
And last of all I want to thank all the readers who’ve responded to Steven’s or my posts (and who can’t now, ha ha!) and forced us to clarify our thinking or move in new directions or generally regret ever having written about Kill Bill, because there were plenty of times when I wanted to just stop writing altogether, and it was both not wanting to leave Steven alone on the blog and knowing that there were people who read and liked (or maybe also hated) me that kept me from being able to sever myself, and now I’m glad I didn’t give in. And I think the readers who don’t comment, some of whom I know and many of whom I never will, because much of the beauty of this whole endeavor is that it does let my words move out and make connections I may never recognize. While I’ve often been a bad blogger when it comes to regular updates, it’s been a good year, and I’m grateful for all the good parts and pushing for more good and more (good) blogging in the year to come.
Over the last couple days, Peiratikos has been inundated with over 200 comment spams (none of which made it onto the blog, thanks to WordPress). We’re going out of town next week, and to save ourselves the trouble of deleting millions of spam comments during our vacation or after we return, we’re disabling comments entirely until next Friday.
Well, Rose and I got married, as you know, which took up a little of my blogging time. (Most of it was taken up with laziness, though.) We used wedding money to get new computer stuff: a cute iBook G4 for Rose, a Radeon x800 Pro for me. I’ve been spending the several days taking advantage of my new awesome video card to play Half-Life 2 and Doom 3, which has definitely taken up all my blogging time. My first blog post after my unannounced hiatus isn’t going to be such a great post, but I have some thoughts on Half-Life 2 which I’ll probably blog about at some point just in case there are some gamers reading Peiratikos who will actually care.
I feel sorry for Wally West. He’s one of an apparently dying breed of superhero who doesn’t think forced mystical brain surgery is a good way of “fixing” people’s psychological problems. It’s a tough decision, but I think my favorite part of Identity Crisis #7 is when Oliver Queen suggests Batman would have been OK with having his own memory wiped, and that Batman’s traumatic past makes him best-equipped to understand the heroic sacrifices people are willing to make for the ones they love. Not that Batman isn’t the poster child for not being able to deal with trauma, but I suspect Batman wouldn’t include lobotomizing your wife so she doesn’t have to be sad about her rape in a list of things “someone will do for the people they love.” My second-favorite part is that when Jean Loring went to “scare” Sue Dibny, she brought a flamethrower “just in case.” My third-favorite part is that murdering somebody gets you locked up and doped up in Arkham without a trial or anything (Jean seems shockingly unremorseful, but hardly insane), but forcibly lobotomizing dozens of people in a desperate and failed effort to maintain the illusion of a superheroic world of innocence gets you sympathy as a tragic hero. My fourth-favorite part is the random Arthur Miller quote: “An era can said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.” Thanks, Brad Meltzer, the world of superhero comics really needed another lame attempt to shatter the Silver Age’s ‘illusion of innocence.’ My fifth-favorite part is that, according to Oliver Queen, it takes the brutal murder of a superhero’s wife to remind the superheroes that their choice of career puts their loved ones at risk. My sixth-favorite part is “Atom’s Wife Tortured by Inmates.” What the fuck?
I always enjoy seeing what other internetty folks look like, so I’m finally going to return the favor (?) by posting a few of our wedding pictures. Actually part of the reason we’ve never shown up here before is that it’s been almost impossible for both Steven and me to look sane and human in any given photo, but the sheer prevalence of cameras managed to break that streak a bit. This isn’t something I want showing up on Fanboy Rampage but is just something our readers can look at for educational/entertainment purposes. Results may vary, or something like that.
I know I said I’d be writing something substantive soon, but indulge me for another post (or maybe a few). Steven and I watched Trekkies last night, and it got me thinking about community and connectedness. And yes, this has a lot to do with seeing things through my currrent lens, but I understood the interviewees talking about how they’d met each other through Star Trek and the kinship they share in being fans and all that stuff. Right now I’m getting over being totally impressed by the kind, supportive comments off all sorts of people I’ve never talked to away from this screen as well as all the live people who’ve been part of my life or Steven’s and who wanted to be with us as kind, supportive witnesses to our public commitment, which is really the only thing making it different from the private relationship we’d had previously (and, I suppose, still).
Anyway, that was me apologizing for getting a bit misty-eyed about Trekkies and about the comics blogosphere. It’s really an exciting feeling to belong in just about any situation. In college, I ran a support group for survivors of sexual assault, and I think for most of us involved the most helpful, important thing we got from group discussions was the real understanding that we had shared emotional experiences, that I could talk about something that made me feel alienated and have someone say, “Oh, yeah, I understand and for me it’s like this…” I don’t think comics bloggers are a support group, but they serve that particular function of creating a kind of connectedness or re-norming.
Part of the reason I’m thinking about this, though, is that connectedness isn’t absolute, and it has its limits. In watching, I said to Steven of one Trekkie, “The cross-dressing doesn’t bother me at all, but I can’t handle the filk,” and I was being entirely honest. Some things are just beyond the pale, and while I can appreciate that people I like enjoy them, they seem laughably bad to me. I know others think the same of me, and I still appreciate not being lynched for being unimpressed and annoyed by Eightball #23. I’ve always been interested in metablogging issues, and so it’s really fascinating to me to follow the different styles and approaches of the various comics bloggers, sometimes more than the blogs themselves. While it’s definitely fun that there are other bloggers writing analytically about mostly superhero comics — and more of them than when we began blogging here — I also read and enjoy reading writers whose aesthetic preferences have almost no overlap with mine. So while I feel a certain kind of kinship with other like-type bloggers and don’t always feel I quite fit in within the larger blogosphere (whatever that means) I get something out of all of it. And while I think I have more overlap with Steven than with anyone else probably ever, both of us appreciate having ppeople other than each other to talk to about these things we find intriguing.
But what I was really trying to get at in all that inanity is that I appreciate both the largely supportive culture and the lack of Geek Pride, which is way above filk in the list of things I dislike most. While plenty of the Trekkies seemed extreme in their dedication, they were all honest and at least a bit self-aware about their placement on the outskirts of the larger culture, whether they thought this was acceptable or not, versus their acceptance among other fans. What they largely avoided was the strange martyr complex I’ve found elsewhere, and which I haven’t noticed in comics blogging. There are geeks, and in my experience they’ve all been white men who publicly claim to be straight, and they make a lot of claims about being oppressed minorities. They say that geeks are the last acceptable stereotype (and “x is the last taboo” is also high on my hate list) and that they’re outcasts in society and that they need to reclaim the power that is rightfully theirs by somehow overturning the jocks, who will somehow recognize the error of their cruel ways. Or something like that. Since I’m a woman, I also get to hear the corollary that geek-friendly women have some kind of moral obligation to have sex with these men, since part of the curse of being a geek is that it’s hard to get a date by more standard routes. And all of this manifests itself in a whole lot of whining, not to mention complaining about other groups who supposedly benefit from affirmative action or feminism (or, uh, laws banning them from marrying their chosen partners, which is probably not the sort of thing that gets facttored in) and how it’s ok to be different in those ways, but that being a geek is both a choice and a calling and thus somehow nobler than more standard, intrinsic disenfranchisement. Yes, I’m whining about whiners, but I’m getting it out of my system so you won’t have to hear about it again.
And the point, as I keep claiming I’ll tell you, is that I really, really appreciate not having to hear that much if at all anymore. I like this current life in which I’m not supposed to be a judge at a Losers Contest. I’m glad to watch a show about people who idolize a show I’ve never seen, and it makes me think of me and of you poor readers, and all of us who are making tenuous connections and finding ways to make them stick and managing to build places for ourselves. I didn’t start blogging looking for affirmation, but because I’d been so depressed and troubled that I was almost physically unable to write, and so it waas painful practice, and also because Steven and I were far apart and wanted to be together and talking. And while it’s still really about us and what we find interesting and the ways our conversations with each other can be translated onto a bigger scale, I’m now very much in conversation with other bloggers and with non-bloggers who comment and even with a few brave friends of mine who don’t even read comics and yet have probably read every word of the post to this point because they care about me. And while in some sense I don’t care who cares about me, I care that I care and that there are these connections being forged and that in a year or so of blogging I’ve become someone who can write more easily, if not yet with total comfort, and can sometimes even be proud of what I’ve written. But I’m also proud that those who respond find meaning (or problems) in what I say, just as I’m proud of bloggers I read who are saying good, smart things even if they have no idea who I am or that I read their words. And I’m pretty sure this is my most self-indulgent post ever, so I appreciate that I expect to be forgiven my temporary lapse, which can be blamed in part on long-term lack of sleep I’m going to try to rectify a bit now. Thanksgiving seems to be coming to me late this year, but I assure you it’s entirely heartfelt. Now live long and prosper.
As a quick update-cum-apology for my lack of recent content, I give you this:
On Saturday at noon, Steven and I took care of his health insurance needs and made two families happy in a lovely wedding. We’ll try to post some pictures once they arrive, and hope to get back to much more regular blogging soon now that this is all out of the way at last. We are two very, very happy bloggers right now.
This is hardly a substantive update, but today Rick Geerling features a little piece I wrote about one of my favorite movies, Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. I’m arguing that it’s creepy enough to count for horror month and it turns out that others agree. It’s a fascinating film I’d very much recommend, and in fact I’ve done so here before.
There have been some updates to the Scott Pilgrim contest, viz.
- Just to be clear: the Scott Pilgrim contest is open to everyone in the world????????well, everyone who lives in a country with a working postal system, at least. Also, fellow bloggers are welcome to enter the contest.
- Bryan has kindly offered a watercolor drawing as an additional prize. That would make a good prize for special art entries! Note that an art component isn????????t a required part of the contest, but if anybody feels like making a cool Scott Pilgrim-related drawing????????a drawing of I don????????t know what, since this is a contest for people who haven????????t read the book, but that????????s part of the challenge, I guess????????then one talented artist will receive the Special Art Appreciation Prize.
The comments-moderation system has been disapproving seemingly innocuous comments in addition to spam. We’re looking into this mystery. If your comment doesn’t show up immediately, don’t worry, it will eventually.