Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Connectivity

I'm thinking about my hair. It's shoulder length and frizzy and brown, just long enough to fall forward over my face when I look down, just dark enough to obscure my point of view. I picture it longer, flowing forward over my face and down my back, blending with my skirt that goes into the ground like roots. I'm rooted to the ground and still moving. My thoughts come too fast, they seem to slip out through my hair, down my back or float out of the top of my head into the sky. Only a third of what I think, even as I write makes the arduous journey down my arms, through my hands and fingertips to the keys to the computer into cyberspace. It's a steady flow, a steady flow of information ideas in all directions.

And it's broken. (I strain my hair through my fingers, drawing it back out of my eyes.)

More Stream of Consciousness

Fandom has major sections, separate sections, local store cliques, newssites, message boards, blogs and livejournal. The message boards and blogs are primarily male, a feminist sticks out. I find myself choosing sides in arguments. ("Yes, I wanted her dead, but not that way and her fan has a right to be upset about it without you being a jerk.") There are livejournal feminist communities, but most of the livejournal superhero fans are fic writers. I never had the patience for it. Too much planning, too much can change, too many chances to get distracted (I've put off that Lois Lane post for over a month, Bitch|Lab has a category for "the virtues of being a mouthy bitch" in the Carnival of Feminists due tomorrow -- what a shame not to have a Lois Lane post there!) The analysis and arguments about whether Superman or Wonder Woman would win are on the blogs, the message boards and in the local stores. (Why am I the only girl sometimes?)

So many Mainstream Feminists just don't bother with fandom, or when they do it's derisive. (Some of those comments are downright hateful. It hurts to be dismissed out of hand in both communities.) It's strange, obsessive, cliquey, childish, wrapped up in dreams when there's real world work to do. (People would never think that someone who uses their leisure time reading comics books is spending their work time doing something life-heavy and worthwhile) Pop culture is too small, or maybe just too big a problem to examine. (There's too much to be done everywhere, do we even have leisure time in this movement?) So much of our culture is wrapped up in Entertainment, all areas of Entertainment. It shapes us, whether we realize it or not, and we never examine it. People resist examining it. Our time is best spent going after the real bad guys. (It's easier to find a clear villain than to look at the trends that we've been subject to since birth.) It's not radical enough. (What's more radical than examining the very basis for our world views?) You need to shake things up. (Like viewpoints.) You need to be angry. (This does make me angry.) You need to be rational. (This is what I enjoy thinking about.) You need to look at the language. (Like the prevalence of the Super- prefix?)

There's room for academic metatextual analysis in both areas. I'm not academic. I never went to college. (I pull the front two locks of hair out of my eyes, pin them back with a metal clip. My hair's still parted, to the side, and a lock from the longer side falls forward in my eyes.) That doesn't bother me (It bothers me.) I got real training in the military. (I learned to fold shirts to an exact measure while my high schoolmates learns Physics 101.) I do a productive job (Monkeywork) that I am highly trained for. (They crammed four years worth of computer science into six months, and I just ended my sentence with a prepositional phrase.) I don't fit in the non-college crowd, I'm too cerebral. (I don't fit in the college-educated crowd. I'm too practical.)

I don't really think that, do I?

I have so much to do, so many people to talk to. My sister tries to rebuild her geek cred, and I worry mine's too high. I'll never fit in the regular feminist community, I'm too much of a fan. Fandom's disjointed. I'm disconnected. I'm not lonely, there's community all around me. There's communities all around me. They have walls, and corridors and parties inside. I wander the corridors aimlessly, searchingly, there's pluses in every part. I peek in every room and make myself at home. My favorite member of the Greek Pantheon was always Hermes. I love him, he could go anywhere. He was in so many stories, having him there was natural and he didn't get too immersed. He showed up to move things along. He connected the gods to the mortals. He connected the divine to the mundane. He connected life and death. He stood at the threshold of the house. No world was off limits to Hermes, he could be anywhere. Strange that my favorite of the Aesir is Heimdall, who stands at the bridge that seperates the worlds and I adore the idea of Yggdrasil, the tree that connects everything. My favorite superpowers? Teleportation, time travel.

Connectivity.

Not that I want a blended mess. My apartment is a blended mess. "Little piles of chaos," as Liz described her dorm room. It was a mess, little masses of mess. Junk mail I haven't shredded (I'm afraid to have the cat near a shredder). Comic books I haven't boarded or bagged yet. (The cat sits precariously on top of a shortbox, looking at the comic books around him that I won't let him lay down on, and mews pathetically. He has a vet appointment) Longboxes, top open because I rifled through them for a single panel. (I haven't made dinner yet.) My dishes are away, at least. I haven't mailed my Christmas presents yet. (I at least bought them in December.) Unpaid bills. I stopped sorting laundry to do this post (I hope there's a washer open when I'm done) and there's little piles of clothing. I need to vacuum.

I don't have pests or food out, and the litter box is regularly emptied. I still need to vacuum.

I need compartmentalization. I need order. That's why I'm this way. I'm disconnected, trying to connect everything. That's really why I started When Fangirls Attack. I wanted connection. I wanted the communities to mix, to see each other. I pop in with links. I get annoyed when people will link their posts everywhere, but hypocritically I do so too. (I also link other peoples.) I don't want a hub. I want a corridor. I want a hallway I can walk down and see the arrangment of opinions. And I want them ordered, categorized and filed. (This will never happen.) I want a community linked, but not a mess. Right now, it's a mess. People wander into other's rooms, they don't know the rules, the mood. Inter-fighting leads to in-fighting. Things are a mess and I distance myself. (Sometimes.) I can't keep quiet, though.

I'm such a between person. I wish I was a phantom, a messenger, but I'm a blocked connection, an open wire and a closed door. I don't fit in any community, not properly. Feminists? (Hey everyone, Nazi Gremlins from Outer Spaaace!!! Conan vs THOR!! Come see! Everyone?) Superhero fans? (Well, my biggest problem with writer A is the underlying message of the story supports the stereotype that women are emotionally ill-equipped to handle power and the artist spent whole panels showing Female Character X's breasts while we saw not a single shot of Male Character Y's butt and now everyone's ignoring me. Great.) Feminist superhero fans? (Well, I'm actually satisfied with the current direction of the company storywise...) I need to walk in and carve my own niche. And by that I mean pound out a space for myself. (Look at me.) Flaunt my misfit, not hide it. Risk being ignored and singled out.

It's worked so far. I still feel like a between person. A stop. A washed-out bridge. Disconnected. Is this why I like Wonder Woman so much? Her whole concept the last twenty years has been being between. Between mortal and divine, between Batman and Superman. The middle road. Even now, she's rebooted as the bridge, described that way in numerous reviews. And for the past twenty years, much as they tried to treat her as a connection she really connected nothing. Futility, more than anything, has been the theme since the days of Perez. Every step ahead tempered by two steps back. The bridge was washed out. I have those days.

The sun is setting over my shoulder. I used that line as an opener once when I wrote for a New Age newsletter. I still have to work on that feature I promised for Friday. (No, I'm not telling you what it is.) It needs a name, and it needs to be done beforehand. I can't just pound it out the day of. (Well, I can, but there's a certain amount of dependability expected here.) That's a newssite, how would they react to this style of writing? Pretentious? Profound? (Someone read too much Sandman as a teenager). I've been reading Megha and Frankengirl too much (too little) and I see a style influence (Stolen style or out of style?). And writing's like painting in a way. You can ruin it with a single brushstroke (though it's far easier to fix).

I wanted to build a community, really. A small one. I saw a number of people touch on the issues and I wanted to see how I could get discussion flowing. I enlisted the help of a friend (and a few more joined in, to our boundless joy). We didn't build a community, we built a corridor. Bigger than I'd expected. I'm attached to the corridor now. A community would still be nice, many communities would be nice, but I'd rather they be off the side of the corridor than surrounding it.

A corridor is better. Communities are too limited, but you can open a door anywhere from a corridor. You can stick your head in and watch, even pull away and let your hair fall in your eyes again. So long as the door's open, the flow's steady. You can collect insights and idiocy from the safety of your own mindset, and you can take them wherever you like. I can feel disconnected while connecting.

(And that's the closest you'll get to the Secret Origin of When Fangirls Attack)

4 comments:

  1. Damn blog being down. If it wasn't you'd already be linked. This is a fantastic post, Ragnell.

    And, for the record, there's always a place for you at my table. Nothing better than relaxing, slinging back some ale, and telling stories from the front, eh? :)

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  2. Wow, wow, wow. You've voiced so much that's in my head (especially the part in which it's isolating to be a feminist and a geek, and experiencing an overwhelming need for connectivity).

    Thanks Ragnell (and Kalinara) for the work that you do for When Fangirls Attack. It's indispensable.

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  3. Connectivity is a tricky thing. It goes in and out. We agree and disagree and fall-in and fall-out. I have always felt “between” when it comes to feminism. There seems to be a crowd of scholarly feminists on one side and active, marching feminists on the other. I’m a playwright, and playwriting is a creative and contemplative act. It’s about listening and crafting, not deconstructing. I expect many are unsure of where they fit in the blogosphere. I was attracted to your blog (even though I’m not a comics reader) because you are a pioneer; because not enough are doing what you do. I think you should feel proud as you walk along your corridor.

    A thought-provoking post.

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  4. Tek -- *Gribns* Nothing like it. Someday at the old Amazons retirement home we'll look back on this and laughed.

    100LittleDolls -- That's why I post stuff like this, to see if it echoes and anyone else feels the same.

    Well, and because I thrive on compliments to my writing.

    Frankengirl -- Wow, I love complements but a pioneer? Thank you, that made my day.

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