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Re: [mythsoc] Mieville et al

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  • SusanPal@aol.com
    In a message dated 10/4/2002 9:40:29 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... Ah, okay. I *don t* recall your saying that before, and now that you have, I understand
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 4, 2002
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      In a message dated 10/4/2002 9:40:29 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
      dbratman@... writes:


      > What I meant, and said, was: don't lecture me with
      > excuses for authorial misbehavior.
      >

      Ah, okay. I *don't* recall your saying that before, and now that you have, I
      understand your position a good deal better. And I'm sorry if I sounded as
      if I were lecturing: I didn't mean to (and my original post on the topic
      still doesn't sound that way to me, but tone in cyberspace is notoriously
      problematic).

      I agree with you that misbehavior is misbehavior; I wasn't trying to condone
      or excuse it, only to explain where -- in my experience -- certain forms of
      it come from. I still think that trying to succeed as a writer (or in any
      other creative field) requires a kind of self-faith that can become ugly and
      egotistical quite quickly; one of the problems with this is that when people
      *do* succeed, their friends and followers may be less likely to call them on
      their bad behavior. (It's perhaps similar to the too-famous-to-be-edited
      problem which allowed Stephen King's novels to reach the size of Rhode
      Island.)

      At any rate, I hope Mieville grows out of the Bad Boy stance and works
      through his various Oedipal problems with Tolkien; his trash-talking is
      classic Anxiety of Influence Killing-the-Father stuff. (Why don't these
      self-proclaimed literary revolutionaries ever realize how old hat they are?)
      I've now read the first few chapters of THE SCAR and it seems better written
      to me than PERDIDO STREET STATION, so that bodes well for stylistic growth,
      anyway. And he's, what, thirty? He has plenty of time to mellow out. If he
      doesn't, well, we can lock him in a room with other Bad Boys and have a
      Writers' Wrestling Foundation match. Pay per view. Raise money for Clarion
      scholarships or something.

      But as for being a hulking bruiser with a shaved head (and you didn't even
      mention the multiple earrings!) -- hey, some of the nicest people I know fit
      that description! And it WOULD work well for the WWF! ;-)

      Have a good weekend,
      Susan


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    • David S. Bratman
      ... I don t think that s quite it. Mieville says he s not influenced by Tolkien, and I believe him. He is quite ready to acknowledge a literary parent in
      Message 2 of 11 , Oct 5, 2002
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        At 10:36 PM 10/4/2002 , Susan wrote:

        >At any rate, I hope Mieville grows out of the Bad Boy stance and works
        >through his various Oedipal problems with Tolkien; his trash-talking is
        >classic Anxiety of Influence Killing-the-Father stuff.

        I don't think that's quite it. Mieville says he's not influenced by
        Tolkien, and I believe him. He is quite ready to acknowledge a literary
        parent in Mervyn Peake, and shows no anxiety about it. But he seems to
        believe in some kind of commutative relationship between upholding Peakean
        standards and downgrading Tolkienian ones, which does not in any way follow.

        What Mieville really feels oppressed by is not anything oedipal, but the
        Marching Morons: the procession of bad Tolclones. And he's right: they
        make it harder for other types of fantasies to find room to breathe in the
        marketplace, and they're a generally bad influence that poisons the
        soil. His mistake is in blaming Tolkien for them, and thinking that
        Tolkien is like them. This is the same error that Elizabeth Anne Hull made
        in the Worldcon panel, when she blamed Tolkien for characteristically
        Tolclonian flaws in the Tolclone Jackson film, flaws which do not occur in
        the book, which she's never read. I tend to doubt Mieville has either.

        That he thinks the problem is all Tolkien's fault, and not the fault of the
        clones, is shown by his taking as a compliment the comment that _Perdido
        Street Station_ is like a fantasy from a world where Peake, not Tolkien,
        became the father of the field. It did not occur to him that being called
        a Peake-clone in that world would be as big an insult as being called a
        Tolclone is in this one.

        - David Bratman
      • SusanPal@aol.com
        In a message dated 10/5/2002 3:29:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... I m curious about that. In some interview I read -- I don t remember which -- he criticizes
        Message 3 of 11 , Oct 5, 2002
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          In a message dated 10/5/2002 3:29:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
          dbratman@... writes:


          > This is the same error that Elizabeth Anne Hull made
          > in the Worldcon panel, when she blamed Tolkien for characteristically
          > Tolclonian flaws in the Tolclone Jackson film, flaws which do not occur in
          > the book, which she's never read. I tend to doubt Mieville has either.
          >

          I'm curious about that. In some interview I read -- I don't remember which
          -- he criticizes Tolkien's stance on the importance of consolation in
          fantasy, which indicates at least a passing acquaintance with "On
          Fairy-stories." That's a fairly sophisticated critique for someone who's
          never read JRRT, and from Mieville's Marxist perspective, I can see where
          it's coming from: consolation as opiate of the masses, or whatever. I'm not
          at all sure that Mieville understands what Tolkien actually *means* by
          consolation, or understands how inextricably entangled it is with loss and
          sorrow (which are the necessary preconditions for consolation!), but people
          who HAVE read Tolkien have gotten those points wrong too.

          > That he thinks the problem is all Tolkien's fault, and not the fault of the
          > clones, is shown by his taking as a compliment the comment that _Perdido
          > Street Station_ is like a fantasy from a world where Peake, not Tolkien,
          > became the father of the field. It did not occur to him that being called
          > a Peake-clone in that world would be as big an insult as being called a
          > Tolclone is in this one.
          >
          Ha! Well put, David!

          Susan


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