Category Archives: Blog post 4

We’re not here to entertain you

I admire writing as a profession more and more everyday. In a letter to Joanna Russ, Samuel Delany has a brief rant about SF writers who try to be entertaining. He believes that this is a mistake on behalf of the writer because writing that tries to numbly entertain the masses is making a big sacrifice in meaning. Additionally, he thinks that the work of a writer should instead be sought out by the few for whom it is deeply relevant, creating a strong bond between the writer and reader (Delany to Russ, October 26, 1971).

I assume this is a constant struggle working in the humanities, but I feel a similar way about being in the human sciences. The general public often approaches these fields with the hope of learning something novel about the human condition. This can be frustrating because they often don’t see the value in all the hard work we’re putting into the “minutia”. Research in the human sciences is a slow and abstract process, much like that of the “hard” sciences (with which, for some reason, people have a higher tolerance for being boring). I think much of what I study in linguistics would be considered esoteric or useless by the general population. The thing is, however, that we’re not trying to give people some “cute” topic of idle chit-chat for their next brunch parties. We’re trying to push human understanding of these topics forward, and this requires just as much time and patience as it does for any of the other sciences.

Letters from Samuel Delany to Joanna Russ, Coll. 261, Box 3, Folder 1. University of Oregon Archives.


Protected: Snail Mail Support Systems

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


Protected: Russ on Porn and Star Trek

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


I’m not even Unprejudiced

Image

The best-written thing that I have come across is a letter written by James Tiptree to Joanna Russ just when they were beginning to correspond with each other.  I do not think that it stands as a piece of literary genius, but think that it is amazingly well-written because it is both real and complex- I think about its content more than that of any of the other letters.

Throughout his personal writings, Tiptree constantly displays intense prejudices against many ethnic groups like Arabs, Catholics, and Germans.  He rants about them constantly and generally demeans them.

Yet, strikingly, in a letter to Russ from 1973, Tiptree recognizes these faults and admits that he has many prejudices deeply ingrained into his character!

In this letter, he laments about the oppression of friendly groups while simultaneously expressing his own guilt at oppressing certain groups in particular.  This letter is like witnessing the evolution of racism to civil rights in miniature.

Image

How remarkable that Tiptree achieved a level of self-consciousness that allowed him to reflect on his own weaknesses.  Usually people are never able to admit that they are wrong, let alone critically examine themselves in a negative light.

Because of this demonstrated capability of self-reflection, Tiptree no longer seems to be mindlessly contributing to oppression.  He has gone a step above beyond this in that he has shown that he is capable of looking at himself objectively, comprehending the wrongness of his actions, and demonstrating the ability to overcome social brainwashing.
Russ Papers, in the Joanna Russ and James Tiptree correspondence found in the Special Collections & University Archives, the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.  See Box 10, File 26.  Dated 1 September 1973.

Keep Calm Picture found at <http://blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/keep-calm-and-stop-racism-19.png>.

Meme found on ForkParty.com, posted by Drew, <http://www.forkparty.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Say-NO-to-racism.jpg>.  


Protected: Best Written Thingy

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


Protected: The Indelible Mark

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


Protected: A Dialectic Without Resolution

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:


James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award

"Best way to teach flying is to fly." - Joanna Russ

Queer Geek Theory

"Best way to teach flying is to fly." - Joanna Russ

Comments for SF Signal

"Best way to teach flying is to fly." - Joanna Russ

io9

"Best way to teach flying is to fly." - Joanna Russ

Ursula K. Le Guin: New on the Website

"Best way to teach flying is to fly." - Joanna Russ