Jun. 29th, 2017 03:13 pm
violsva: Sidney Paget illustration of Watson reading, with the caption "Winner, JWP 2016" (watson's woes)
So I just found out that one of my fics (The Lodger) was mentioned in an academic paper.

It's cited as an example (the paper is about fair use and the role of fanfic in the market) with no further details, but OMG!!
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (books)
Putting this on Dreamwidth as well as Tumblr:

So I’ve been thinking about soulmate AUs. The kind where your soulmate’s name is written on your skin. How would that start? When would that start?

Not with the beginning of writing. For centuries, in China, in Sumer, in Egypt, in Mesoamerica, writing was used for accounting or religion, and nothing else. Most people would never be able write their names or recognize them if they were written. Only royalty, gods, and perhaps some property owners would.

Individual scribes might have had signatures. For that matter, for all we know individual Paleolithic artists might have had signatures. But most people wouldn’t. What would happen the first time someone was born with an unknown symbol on their hand?

Probably it would be an isolated mystery. Remember, in most of these scenarios there’s no actual guarantee that you’ll ever meet your soulmate (although most people seem to end up with one from the same general area. Which is statistically unlikely). No one would know what it meant. Maybe people with symbols would be seen as special, or divine, or demonic.

And then it might start happening more often - or stop happening, if writing stopped being used (like in Greece after 1200 BCE). But most of the time still no one would know what the symbol meant. And most people wouldn’t have symbols, because most people’s soulmates wouldn’t know how to write.

(Sometimes I think the theory is that people would have a thumbprint instead of a soulmate mark? But this would be basically useless for matching purposes - you would have no idea where to start. So from that point of view the first people with actual names would just have them instead of the thumbprints that everyone else had and didn’t know the meaning of.

Incidentally, using thumbprints for recognition isn’t universal in non-literate societies either. European society didn’t realize that fingerprints were unique until the late 19th century. In a lot of places, they weren’t used until people were already using signatures, and needed an option for illiterate people. Also, while they are an identifying mark, they really have no relation at all to your name. For most of human existence, having a physical marker of your identity really wasn’t that important.)

Only somewhere with at least moderately widespread literacy would someone be able to look at a mark and go “Oh, that’s my friend Imhotep’s name. What a coincidence!” And only somewhere with widespread literacy would Imhotep’s soulmate also be able to write their name. Most early languages were logographic, and in cuneiform names specifically were almost always logographic, so you wouldn’t even be able to sound it out.

Phoenician (starting 1050 BCE) was the first widespread writing system, and was simple enough and common enough that sailors could write in it. It was also the first phoenetic script which would allow you to easily approximate the pronounciation of the writing on your skin.

But still, most people wouldn’t have symbols. Most people would never meet anyone with their name on their skin.

This would be a problem in AUs where you never feel sexual attraction to anyone who isn’t your soulmate. Imagine religion and culture in a world where almost everyone is functionally asexual.

How long would it take, until someone realized that if people’s names matched up, they had some kind of bond? How long would it take before this was a generally accepted theory?

Also, how long before this was seen as at all important, given that most people with the status to know how to read would also have arranged marriages?

But once it was generally accepted, suddenly literacy would become a lot more important. People would demand to learn how to write. (Some people would learn that their soulmate’s name wasn’t in the local writing system. What happens then?) People would want to give their children more unique names (ancient Rome had about thirty given names for men total, and they named their daughters “first Julia” and “second Julia.”)

Anyway, around ancient Rome or so, when there would not only be a lot of literate people but also a lot of people able to recognize foreign alphabets, suddenly there would be a huge drive for 1) more literacy and 2) better long distance communication, so you could find the Caius or Ξανθίππη or שָׂרָה who had your name on their skin. And as this idea became more and more widespread, so would this desire. The same thing would be happening in China and Ethiopia and India.

This would revolutionize world history. There would be strong motivations both for exploration and for making peace with foreign cultures. Everyone in Rome with a Jewish soulmate would want to make sure they wouldn’t be killed before they could meet them. Everyone with a soulmate in a strange language would want to know at least what language it was.

Come to think of it, these are also all good reasons for why people wouldn’t believe in soulmates. Your soulmate can’t be one of the hated barbarians, so that symbol doesn’t mean anything!

And that’s leaving out the fact that lots of people still wouldn’t have a soulmate who could write, and completely ignoring the existence of polyamory.

So getting to a modern society with everyone just knowing that that was your soulmate’s name would involve a really complicated history, probably nothing at all like ours. And there would be huge pressure to ignore the existence of soulmates at all.

No conclusions here, just taking an illogical premise way too logically.
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default)
In my head, somewhere, there’s this muggleborn Ravenclaw at Hogwarts, who loves history. And she’s so excited about History of Magic, she reads all the books she can find, she looks for how it fits in with muggle history…

And then she gets to Hogwarts and realizes that wizards don’t care about history. At all. Class is taught by a ghost who doesn’t care about anything modern and seems surprised when he realizes students actually exist, no one cares if they fall asleep in class, everyone has been assigned the same essay topics every year for the last five hundred years. It’s all about rebellions and wars and treaties, and there’s no social history at all.

And her first couple years she just deals with it, because, hey, new fascinating world she’s learning all about, she can deal with one poorly taught class.

But what made me think about this was the title of Harry’s essay in third year. “Witch-Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless - discuss.” Because look at that from the point of view of someone who knows something about the motives behind witch-hunts.

So that’s when she loses it and spends the whole summer researching and writing an essay on the historical effects of magical existence on muggles. How wizards let people scapegoat other muggles and especially women for things muggles wouldn’t believe in if there weren’t real wizards everywhere. How pureblood wizards were happy to screw up the lives of the muggles living near them and then avoided all consequences because hey, they had Flame-Freezing Charms if the worst happened, what did they care if someone else was caught and died horribly instead of them. How even today muggles were falsely diagnosed with mental illnesses because wizards weren’t careful enough with their Disillusionment Charms, or because wizards thought Memory Charms were the solution to everything no matter how they affected the victim.

And she hands it in at the start of the year and a week later she gets summoned to the Headmistress’s office.

And Professor McGonagall smiles at her and says “This is a bit unusual, but would you be interested in a TA position?”

Fragment 31

May. 3rd, 2014 06:42 pm
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default)
And this, which I could queue on tumblr when I wasn't feeling fragile and then went ack when I was about to repost it but look, people, I know Greek.

Sappho; translated by, um, me

That man seems equal to the gods
to me, who sits across from you
and from so close can hear your sweet

and lovely laughter, as they force
my heart to shudder in my chest.
For when I briefly look at you,
speaking is lost,

instead my tongue sticks, subtly
a fire runs under my skin,
my eyes see nothing, roaring fills
my ears,

cold sweat pours over me, trembling
grips all of me, and pale as grass
I am; I seem to be so close
to dying.

But all must be endured, since
a poor and [
violsva: Sidney Paget illustration of Holmes and Watson, seated, with the caption "Cut out the poetry, Watson" (Holmes)
I just thought of a problem with lots of Holmes adaptations that also explains why the Granada ones are awesome.

People want the main characters of a show to be the people things happen to. They want the show to be all about the characters and the people they know and their enemies and so on.

Sherlock Holmes is not this kind of a story. Holmes is almost never personally involved in his cases. Someone else shows up and asks him for help.

Holmes and Watson have their own lives and emotions and experiences, but they aren’t focused entirely around crime. We mostly see the crime, because the assumption is that that’s what’s interesting, [this is an important book because it deals with war. this is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in a drawing room.] but the rest is there.

The crimes do not affect them personally. They may be in danger for their lives, but it is always on behalf of someone else. Even in The Empty House, where it could easily have been all about this man who wants to kill Holmes, it isn’t. Holmes is after the murderer of Ronald Adair. He uses the other man’s vendetta to bait him, but he doesn’t seem to have much of one himself.

This is the problem with focusing so hard on Moriarty (and one of the many problems with focusing on Irene Adler) and Holmes: it makes the story about Holmes fighting Moriarty rather than Holmes fighting crime. Holmes needs to be on the side of justice, and taking down Moriarty is because of that position, rather than because of anything personal.

But if you don’t start out with “Holmes solves crimes for other people because he loves justice” as a premise, you can end up with Holmes running randomly around London after Moriarty, because he hates Moriarty personally. Or because Moriarty’s *challenging* him and he *loves* challenges. Not to name any names, Moffat.

Things don’t happen to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes happens to them. And then he goes home and plays the violin and thinks about something else, or the next case, or bees.

#three stories about moriarty and one about adler and this is what everyone chooses to focus on #episodic narratives are not necessarily bad #monster of the week #you can do all kinds of interesting things with h or w being kidnapped #but you shouldn't have to do that to make things interesting
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default)
William Wordsworth

Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ‘twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

Also, the tag "shakespeare monologue meme" on Tumblr has some lovely things.
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default)
So everyone should go read The Café Elsinore by hoc_voluerunt. And then come here and talk to me about it.

It's made me think about modern adaptations and changing portrayals of mental health and the cliched argument over the transfer of power between generations in comedies vs tragedies and how parental relationships in Shakespeare compare to parental relationships in fairy tales. And I haven't had all these thoughts in my head at one time since university or mayybe when I was reading Aurora Leigh the year after, and oh, my brain is back.

(My brain is actually having serious difficulties at the moment, but the return of my critical reading skills can only be a good sign)
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (books)
Title: But By Degrees
Author: Violsva
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Rating: M
Warnings/Enticements: Sex, Angst, Victorian Attitudes
Word Count: 4277
Summary: Mary Watson builds herself a life and home with her new husband, as secrets tangle around her.

At AO3.

Two years after graduation, and I still get random article titles in my head. The latest one is It Is Always 1984: The BBC's Sherlock and the Normalization of the Surveillance State.

I'm not writing it, but it's fun to think of.
violsva: full bookshelf with ladder (Default) reading an introduction to a famous literary work. Even a very good introduction.

"The idea of that payment to Dupin echoing a real-life bribe to Poe seems on its face far-fetched (though less so than one writer's later suggestion that Poe himself was the "swarthy" gentleman who murdered Mary Rogers)." --Matthew Pearl

...That sounds surprisingly biographical for academic literary criticism. But it's not more absurd than a lot of critical theory.

(It spoiled the plots, like all introductions [the authors of introductions appear to believe either that they are actually writing afterwords or that everyone, or everyone important, already knows this anyway], but I read it after the stories, so that was okay.)


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