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Re: Issue 11

Wintersweet writes "Questioning Victorientalism":

I think the attitude that replicating the Victorian attitude toward Asia--treating it as a monolithic, nigh-mythical novelty and disregarding the fact that there were many different cultures there and real people there, and in this case that there are lots of people of Asian origins within the steampunk movement--is a rather poor position to advocate. Never mind that few Victorian "Japonisme" or "Chinoisierie" aficionados were invaders or pillagers; there's more to the subject than this. I think the Steampunk Magazine article has a lot of good points. It's too bad that the comments are full of efforts at derailing the conversation, but it seems to me that the steampunk community overall has a long way to go in terms of being able to hold thoughtful discussions about this kind of thing. At least there are some efforts being made!

22

Re: Issue 11

Ay-leen posted "Steampunk and Victorientalism Assessed", quoting different reactions and responses to Issue #11.

Re: Issue 11

That's an excellent summation by Ay-leen, well-balanced, and hitting exactly on the issues drawn up by two of the best commentaries on Gazette 11.

the trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be

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Re: Issue 11

There is no such thing as "just" fiction according to Fiction Theory.

Reclaiming Orientalism is the reclaiming of privilege, and thus the reclaiming of the ability to unthinkingly oppress other people.

There is no goddamn thing as "just fiction". As a writer of fiction, the very phrase "just fiction" sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to go around doing property damage (and maybe grievous bodily harm to anyone silly enough to utter such a phrase in my hearing).

[...] saying now that it's "just fiction" when minimalizing it allows you to tell stories that please you but hurt others is disingenuous and enraging.

Best keep that in mind next time you think about writing a story, dear steampunks!

Re: Issue 11

Not as bad as "but you're just a woman", which was on a news interview replayed on the radio yesterday (related to the introduction of breathalysers in the UK)...

the trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be

26

Re: Issue 11

By mllesays:

I'd been avoiding the Victorientalism thing going on around the internets, somewhat because that word is fucking stupid and it's mere existence fills me with rage, but mainly because the conclusions seem so obvious to me: OMFG you're being racist please just shut up and go back to sewing buttons on things.

I guess I tend to forget that not everyone writing articles and editing magazines enjoyed the college education I did, and so not everyone got the memo about colonialism and Orientalism and how these are Bad Things and need to deconstructed, not lauded and reappropriated. It seems so obvious to me.

Ironically, I took a course on Orientalism last year, along with a course on Asian and European Empires. But hey, if you dare argue that Orientalism might not always have been racist, you are a racist! So obvious. Thanks for the memo, mllesays.

27

Re: Issue 11

Twittered by Ekaterina Sedia:

For those confused about the whole Victorientalism thing: OF COURSE ORIENTALISM IS RACIST AND WRONG OMG WHY IS IT EVEN A QUESTION???

There you go. We can stop debating now.

28 (edited by Sigurjon Njalsson 2010-03-16 02:53)

Re: Issue 11

Ottens wrote:

Twittered by Ekaterina Sedia:

For those confused about the whole Victorientalism thing: OF COURSE ORIENTALISM IS RACIST AND WRONG OMG WHY IS IT EVEN A QUESTION???

There you go. We can stop debating now.

What a relief!

Seriously, though, I read those last two responses (among others) and Isget the feeling they don't really understand what "Victorientalism" actually means or the issue at the heart of the debate. They just seem to be reacting solely based on the use of the word "Orientalism."

I therefore find it ironic they call our level of education into question, considering their responses feel much more like a visceral, "gut-level" reaction to a particular word rather than a well-considered and reasoned argument against it. Any scholar will tell you that even if something seems obviously incorrect to you, you should still present supporting evidence of why this is so. Even something we find so viscerally "wrong" as murder has a plethora of philosophical explanations about why it is morally wrong. That's the scholarly thing to do.

Still, I guess it does support the idea (despite how inane and illogical this proposition seems to me, as I understand the more nuanced issue at hand) that if there were a simple name-change, most everyone would be like, "Yeah, okay, it's fine now."

Perhaps I was misguided as a child, but I was taught that the motives behind words were far more important than the words themselves. But then I also suppose I learned early on that you want to pick the right word to best convey what it is you mean. Unfortunately, "Asian-inspired steampunk" and it's kin don't seem to explain the genre concisely enough, and honestly sound rather clunky and ultimately unlikely to become easily assimilated into speech. You want a genre name that seems "catchy."

I'm not saying that there can't be a better alternative to "Victorientalism," and I honestly think it might be worthwhile to try to find one. However, I do feel like a good alternative has yet to come to light. Best keep trying, I suppose.

Sean Schönherr, author of Cinema is Cinema

Re: Issue 11

Ottens wrote:

By mllesays:

I guess I tend to forget that not everyone writing articles and editing magazines enjoyed the college education I did, and so not everyone got the memo about colonialism and Orientalism and how these are Bad Things and need to deconstructed, not lauded and reappropriated. It seems so obvious to me.

Ironically, I took a course on Orientalism last year, along with a course on Asian and European Empires. But hey, if you dare argue that Orientalism might not always have been racist, you are a racist! So obvious. Thanks for the memo, mllesays.

I'd like to know how mllesays deconstructed orientalism without discussing it...  I'm guessing that, if he went to 'college' he is a product of the US education system (I may be wrong!).  At least he is aware of a world outside of the US.  BTW, if he really wants to discuss academic credentials, I can really get into that one. 

Oh, and Nick, I find the terms 'Asian' and 'European' offensive tongue  Ironically, I doubt that those US citizens who have partaken in the debate realise that the term 'American' refers to the peoples of two continents, and not just one federated state, and to use it as such is offensive.

the trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be

30

Re: Issue 11

We probably should stop using terms like "Weird West" as well. This is terribly marginalizing of Native Americans, for one thing! wink