January 22nd, 2010


On babies

Yesterday I went with my mum to pop in to see my sister and my niece. My niece is being generally crotchety and grumbly. She's not really doing what she's supposed to be doing - eating and sleeping. She's eating, she's just light on the sleeping. The other day I observed this conversation:

Mum: I watched her lie there and watch shadows for 45 minutes.
Sister: Newborns are not supposed to be that alert.
Mum: Your sister was like that. She didn't sleep for 4 years.
Sister: They say it's a sign of intelligence.
*two sets of eyes burn into me*
Me: This is so not my fault.

Yesterday we sat for about an hour with my niece. My sister went off and showered and bustled and we debated whether the baby has colic. I decided that she just wasn't tired.

Me: She's not tired
Sister: Oh yes, she is, she's tired. She's only slept 30 minutes since 8am

And the thing is, I feel for my niece already. What if she just isn't tired?! I kinda know how that feels. But this whole thing is really very fascinating to me. This tiny bundle of person is not my creation, I had no say in her being made and I'll have no say in how she is raised. Really, I should have very little emotional investment. But then nature does this crazy, manipulative thing. It mixes up the genetic code and throws a little bit of lots of people in. I can see she has my lips. And I can also kind of relate to the lack of sleep thing. She's an efficient feeder as well and my mother keeps saying that she thinks she is going to be like me. It's like the closest thing you can have to spying in on yourself when you were 10 days old. But also, you kind of look at this person and think, "hey you're like me! I must care and protect you and make sure you live!" Nature kinda manipulates more people into buying into the welfare of this new person. It's really very cool.

And it's my first glimmer of the idea that "it's different when it's your own".

And maybe my niece will turn out like me. But that had me thinking about things - it's not easy to live a life where you don't fit in, don't conform, and don't want to. People get upset with you becasue you are unpredictable, you don't follow the established (by the average) action/response patterns. You don't sleep when you are supposed to, you don't eat what you are supposed to and you don't do and say and like and think what you are supposed to. You are seen as a loose canon. And people don't like that. They don't know how to take you. Though I guess for my niece, I can at least offer her some solidarity, you know, if she is gonna choose the other path, the less travelled one.


Temporary TPP Shop

Due to some server issues, the Twelfth Planet Press shop is temporarily unavailable. I'm working on getting it up and running again but in the meantime, all the Twelfth Planet Press books can be purchased via twelfthplanet here.

PLease note that Horn by Peter M Ball, is currently out of stock. However a second print run is due in the next month or so and is available for prepurchase via that link.


And so I begin my Joanna Russ journey

And so today, I begin my Joanna Russ journey with How to Suppress Women's Writing and I pull out this excerpt from her introduction, which nicely responds to the comment I reacted to in yesterday's blog post:

If certain people are not supposed to have the ability to produce "great" literature, and if this supposition is one of the means used to keep such people in their place, the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which such people are prevented from producing any literature at all. But a formal prohibition tends to give the game away ...

In a nominally egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which members of the "wrong" group have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can't. But alas, give them the least real freedom and they
will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then - since some of the so-and-so's will do it anyway - develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the "wrong" people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch.
- Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing (1983)