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ashes of ink innocence and lies another bright day exposes a witch hunt for another girl
division by zero
(cross-posted from Facebook)

I'm really tired of watching people look for The Difference.

I'm not talking about looking for The Cause. I'm talking about looking for The Difference, the thing that made the shooter and his family Different From Us, so that we can be reassured that That Kind of Thing Can't Happen Here, and that certainly Nobody We Know Would Do Anything Like That.

There isn't one. It's not true. Stop looking. We can have a conversation about guns, yes, please, not an argument but a real we're-all-on-the-same-side conversation about collecting as a hobby things that are interesting, even fascinating, but designed specifically to kill. We can have a conversation about mental health, and how even small signs of undiagnosed mental illness are stigmatized in this country, and how developmental disorders and neuroatypicalities are often treated as mental illnesses, as though someone who is dyslexic is as likely to go on a killing spree as someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder, and to what degree the ostracization and bullying might make that a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can talk about homeschooling, and how relieved some parents were to have made that decision, and how some other people think it contributes to the problem of poorly-socialized children willing to hurt other children.

But can we please, please do that with an eye to solving the problem? With the understanding that not only does deciding who or what to BLAME not solve the problem, doing so gives us a false sense of security that keeps us from seeking and implementing actual solutions, actual preventive measures, and can far too easily become part of the problem instead?

Look. We're all capable of evil. ALL OF US. The more we deny that we could ever be driven to do thus-and-such, the more vulnerable we actually are to the pressures that drive people to it. It's scary to think about. It's even scarier to think that right now, someone else is in a pressure-cooker of stress and pain that they'll never escape because we're so busy telling ourselves how autism is the problem, mental illness is the problem, guns are the problem, divorce is the problem, freedom of religions in school is the problem, homeschooling is the problem, black clothes are the problem, video games are the problem, and since we know that We Are Good People and we know that Good People Don't Do Those Things, we know that We Are Not the Problem.

We're the problem, folks.

WE are the problem.

Our need to differentiate ourselves, our instinct to cull from the herd anyone who doesn't conform to an "average" that doesn't exist, our hope that by cutting out the autistic kid, the homeschooled kid, the nerd, the "troubled" kid, the antisocial kid, nobody will notice that we're not always happy ourselves, maybe not always as kind as we ought to be, maybe have some melancholy moods, maybe don't feel as loving and grateful or as patriotic and grateful or as exceptional and grateful as society says we ought to: that's the problem. Our need to isolate and dehumanize people who do evil things, so we don't have to face the potential for the same acts within ourselves: that's the problem. Our extension of that to people who share unrelated characteristics with those who have done evil things in the past, isolating them and giving them less reason to care about their fellow humans instead of more: that's the problem. Our lessons, explicit or by example, to our children that this is how to deal with difference -- that differences should be identified, classified, denounced, and used to dehumanize: that is the problem.

And humanity's capacity for evil is the problem. Not facing it in ourselves is the problem. Not confronting and subduing it is the problem. Not having compassion for it is the problem. Our lack of self-knowledge, self-recognition, and self-control is the problem.

So while we're having all those other conversations, about guns and homeschooling and mental health and video games and violence in movies and ANY other conversation, can we please keep this in mind? We know what the problem is: the problem is that there is no The Difference. We just don't want to face it, and would rather create any number of other lonely, isolated, desperate souls than admit that but for the grace of circumstance, there go we all.
2 dream again                 beg Oneiros
So etcet and I just watched the entire last season of Doctor Who in a single weekend, which was deeply satisfying and made it far more comprehensible than when I originally saw the episodes roughly one per week with a two-month gap in the middle. The marathon was sparked in part by my getting caught up by a completely spoilerless "spoiler" officially released a few days ago about events in the upcoming season. Fans were told that there was a meaningful event in a certain previous episode*, and I immediately had my suspicions about what it might be; that particular episode had several untied threads and apparent inconsistencies thrown away in Moffat's trademark manner, right before explosions or screams or lurking in the background of Really Interesting Conversations, but most of those seem adequately wrapped up by later events.* Only one of them stayed stuck in my craw as either an unaccounted-for loose thread or bad planning/direction/camerawork/lighting/characterization/set-design/costuming/acting**, and I wanted to see if anyone else had come up with the same theory about it that I have. (So far, not only has nobody come up with a theory even vaguely similar to mine without getting it ridiculously wrong, nobody's even noticed the... anomaly... I've fixated on. That I've found, anyway.)

Does anyone know of an online, up-to-date collection of non-imbecilic criticism of apparent plot holes in New Who? I'm really tired of combing through "the Ponds are way too passive, so the writing is awful, plus Amy saves the day way too often, so she's way too powerful and must secretly be the Master*** in yet another stopwatch disguise" just to see if anybody has noticed the same things I've noticed.

There are a bunch of... unexplained things. The problem I'm having is that everything I've found talking about them is whining about how terrible Moffat's writing is, as demonstrated by the fact that he isn't a good enough writer to have planned X three seasons in advance, therefore he's just retconning desperately to keep the plot above water, proving that he's a terrible writer and therefore incapable of planning things three seasons in advance... Have these critics never seen Babylon 5? Moffat's two seasons so far as producer have easily been 4.5 to 4.75 B5s out of (naturally) 5 in terms of chronoentanglement. In fact, my main criticism of him is that he's having so much fun making events across so many seasons of the show link up intimately to each other that it's getting tough to follow on more than an episode-by-episode basis****. The man is worse than Katharine Kerr. This last rewatch, I literally had to take notes spanning the last two seasons. If RTD was annoying in his tendency to write as if for a soap opera, teasing with the hint of a revelation for episodes on end but never actually letting anything important happen until Friday, Moffat is an order of magnitude more annoying by giving you Friday's revelation on Monday, but only in such a way that you won't realize he's done it until three years later.

Well, that's not actually my precise gripe with Moffat. Back when "Silence in the Library" first aired, I said "If Lungbarrow (and/or the Cartmel Master Plan) is (being adopted by the new show as) canon, she can only have said X" in reference to River whispering in the Doctor's ear to gain his trust quickly. More precisely, she could only have said X, which she could only have found out from the Doctor, which he would (could?) only have told her upon event Y, which is exactly and uniquely why her whispering it back to him in his past would cause him to trust her, because he'd actually be trusting future!himself -- a prediction based on extensive knowledge of not only the original TV show but also some of the supplemental media, especially the hiatus-era revisions of the CMP, and requiring great trust in Moffat not only to have done his due diligence several times over but also to have a watchmaker's touch with intricate narrative... and also a prediction that has been 95% borne out. And by that, I mean 100% supported by facts, with only a couple of details left to nail down to consider it proven explicitly -- and those details, I suspect, are going to be the plot arc of the next season anyway. So my gripe with Moffat isn't even that he's getting too intricate to follow; it's that he's getting too intricate to trust without exhaustive knowledge and intensive effort, leaving casual fans to feel like the plot is full of holes, without actually making the plot less predictable for those of us who've put in the work. I've "known" (on a spectrum from "suspected" to "accepted through confirmation bias" to "understanding what's going on only because I already know") that spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler for four years now, making the "spoiler spoiler is spoiler spoiler spoiler and spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler"***** plot twist completely predictable, seeing foreshadowing as mere wibbly-wobbly causality, ruining some of the tension of the show and causing me to know both "the spoiler" and (the nature of) "the spoiler"****** as soon as they were introduced as next season's likeliest arc-plot-hook. It's not that I'm not enjoying the hell out of the show, but I do wish the major revelations hadn't been so predictable just because a single sentence occurred to me in 2008.

Anyway, I'm trying to sort out the hidden teasers still lacking explanation from the hidden teasers that have been explained from the red herrings from the genuine discontinuities, and I'm getting increasingly irritated by the vast cesspools of "Moffat has ruined the show with ego and poor planning/execution and I hate it now and hope they cancel it after the 50th". Moffat has had many flaws over his careers on many shows, but I have never caught him being flat-out sloppy; whereas by contrast, the people discussing his work for Doctor Who...

Rassilon help me. I'm getting annoyed by the lack of scholarship in my fandom. Someone just shoot me now. I'll get a SPOILER******* somewhere, later .

* Neither of these statements are spoilers, since they describe nearly every Moffat episode ever made, either under him as executive producer or specifically credited to him as writer.

** Well, not all at once, but putting it that way despoilers it.

*** This specific conclusion does not deserve a potential spoiler warning since it's absurd from start to finish. I could come up with three different speculative arguments for Amy being the Master in disguise in five minutes, either strictly from within the plot or using meta-knowledge, and none of them are that dumb or self-contradictory. Also, the conclusion is the dumbest part anyway, so I wasn't even half trying. And on the gripping hand, every bit of it that isn't mere value-judgment is provably false from within the plot of the new show alone. And if it turns out I'm wrong about that, and this really is a spoiler, then I will be delighted because I staunchly disbelieve it and will therefore be surprised.

**** Much like my syntax.

***** RktDnRStDwAaRd -- and that's the closest I'll get to spoilering, because if you already know those things, you'll be able to work out what I'm talking about, and if you haven't seen those bits yet, then you'll still be able to work out what I'm talking about, but I'll laugh at you if you accuse me of spoilering after you put that much effort into figuring it out.

****** No. Just no. If you've already seen that far, it's easy, and if you haven't, there's no way I'm letting you put yourself in my position.

******* That one was really, really clever and made a fantastic way to wrap up the post, and if you haven't seen the last non-Christmas episode in the intervening ten months, then you personally are the reason I can't use it and I'm very, very cross with you. Go to your room, right now!
13 dream again                 beg Oneiros
Weepy evening.

Several weeks ago, Jaymes and I rented City of Angels on DVD, because it's one I had wanted to see and never got to. Jaymes was reluctant, as he always is when he's seen a movie and considers the ending senselessly sad. A couple of years ago, I had tried to rent it with Chris and Bear, but Bear commented that City of Angels wasn't nearly as good as the movie it was a remake of, Wings of Desire... so we rented Wings instead.

After Jaymes and I rented City, I wanted to see Wings again. The mood is much better; it's a better film. Not as glossy, or American-tragedy-pabulumized -- maybe not a better "movie", but a better film, as a local downtown theater would make the distinction. I decided to get Jaymes to watch Wings with me, because nearly all I remembered of it was that it didn't have a senselessly tragic ending.

Wings is a slow movie, from an American perspective. I was afraid Jaymes would find it suffering from Samurai-Standoff Syndrome, lots of suspenseful posing with a quick blow to the head and then tea afterward. I shouldn't have worried; he really liked it. He especially liked the fact that even having seen City, which contains ten times the action and none of the thought, the one plot twist in common to both movies still took him by surprise. We were silent most all the way through the credits, that smiling, "Aren't we lucky to be together, having just watched that movie, still draped across each other and smiling at each other the way we are now?" silence. Happy, deep-breaths silence. The moment faded and I went out for a cigarette.

Music came drifting across the porch, familiar music. It wasn't John Williams, but it was the same kind of thing. A movie soundtrack, maybe? I ducked back inside. Jaymes had put on his Philip Glass CD. He identified the song for me and then said, "Hey, you grew up interested in space. Maybe you'll recognize this one..."

As soon as it started playing, video montages of space photos started flickering at the edges of my memory. "2001 soundtrack?" I asked. "No," he said, and brought the CD insert over to me.

"Ron McNair?"

I could feel the pressure and the hot prickles climbing up in my sinuses, the ones that mean that no matter how much I don't want it to be, no matter how silly the reason or how public the place, the tears are going to start. As long as it's just the sinus pressure, I can discreetly drive my pinkie nail under my thumbnail, and the pain will shock back the tears. But once the hot prickles hit between my eyes, it's all over but the crying.

Jaymes, maybe taking my silence for a lack of recognition, said, "Challenger?"

I could feel my face contorting. I hoped I could get out some explanation before it got too twisted up to speak clearly. I said, "Yeah. I know. His name was on the patch my dad brought home for me."

I went into the kitchen and put on water for tea. I stood, and watched the water not boil, and Jaymes came over and held me while I sobbed like a seventh-grader again and we listened to the music that had become the first saxophone solo in space.

I could, at this point, write about where I was when I found out, or how it affected me. But I don't wanna. Because there's really only one thing to say about it that really matters:

Challenger still makes me cry.

in a word: sad sad
soundtrack: (Rush) - Red Sector A

1 dreams again                 beg Oneiros