You are viewing jaylake

Lakeshore - [process] Another shot at thinking about the Other
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-01-08 05:52
Subject: [process] Another shot at thinking about the Other
Security: Public
Tags:culture, personal, politics, process
The Edge of the American West has a post up today about speaking from cultural authority and presumed expertise. As is sometimes the case, a lot of the interesting action is in the comments section there.

The blog is talking about current fighting in Gaza, but this is a question which runs rife through our field. I've spoke before here on the blog about being on a panel about cultural authority and appropriation a few years ago with an Australian writer, a Canadian writer, and a Scottish writer. Both the Australian and the Canadian were horrified at the thought that a white writer might use Aboriginal or First Nations material in their fiction, that we as white writers didn't have standing to do that. This baffled both me and the Scottish fellow.

By this logic, the only culture I have 'standing' to comment on is middle aged, middle class, WASP male American culture. If I stuck to writing about that, I'd either be John Updike or unpublished. (Which of those possibilities is the more likely I leave as an exercise for the reader.) This line of thinking says I cannot write about female characters because I am not a woman, or Jewish characters because I am a Gentile.

That way lies madness. Our field, at its best, is about Writing the Other. Likewise, to the point of the cited blog post, the arts of politics and diplomacy are about the Other.

I am not ignorant of the nuances of exploitation, oppression, colonial heritage and the whole panoply of errors, wrongs and outright crimes committed by one group of people against another. Bluntly, in many cases by my ancestors against quite possibly yours. I am the transparent case of the oppressor class, in stereotyped leftist dialectic.

Yet I've spent years living in Africa, for example. That is something about me which you can't read in my skin color or my surname or my accent. Does that experience empower me differently? My family is multiracial. Again, something you can't read in my skin color or my surname or my accent. Does that give me a different cultural authority?

Whose voice counts? Why or why not? I find these questions distressing and uneasy, which means they're important questions. The churn they raise drives the boundaries of good fiction, good thought and good citizenship.

Originally published at jlake.com.

Post A Comment | 114 Comments | Share | Link



Hal
User: hal_obrien
Date: 2009-01-08 14:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Let alone, there's this sekrit powr one can use in such circumstances, although many seem to be frightened off by it.

It's called, "imagination."

Wasn't I talking about this just a while ago? Ah, yes, here it is.
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-01-08 14:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What is this "imagination" you speak of?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Karrin Jackson
User: karjack
Date: 2009-01-08 14:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Write outside your cultural experience and you get told you have no right. Stick to your cultural experience and you get people saying, "Why are all your characters white? Are you some kind of racist?"

I think the only answer is write what you want to write. In the end, someone is going to hate your work. It might as well be the people you don't agree with anyway.

Reply | Thread | Link



mevennen
User: mevennen
Date: 2009-01-08 16:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this pretty much sums up my own position. Do I think I can get into the head of someone who isn't a middle-aged British white woman? No, not really. I'm not even sure I can get successfully into the head of someone who *is* another middle-aged, British white woman, quite frankly. Wittgenstein makes some points about language games which have not really been answered convincingly, IMO.

However, this does not mean that one should not try, otherwise, as Karjack correctly says, one lays oneself open to the charge of racism (and of being dull).
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
Laura Anne Gilman: meerkat coffee
User: suricattus
Date: 2009-01-08 14:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:meerkat coffee
Random thoughts while the coffee takes effect...

I think part of the 'problem' is that the majority of the human race really is trapped within their own heads. They can't -- even if they want to -- imagine an Other that could overlay/inform their own mentality. That's just how most of the human race is hardwired, probably to enhance clan-bonds and genetic survival. So... the idea that you could accurately and effectively write Other is hard to grok.

Some folk, however, are quirky. I mean that literally -- there seems to be a wiring quirk that allows storytellers to empathize and include Other into their thought process (there was at least one scientific study done on this recently, but my Google-fu is weak today and I can't find it.) This often makes writers (and other folk with this quirk) askers of Uncomfortable Questions, because if you can empathize with Other, then Other is equal to Clan, and chaos is loose in the streets...

In short: writers ain't normal. ;-)

Edited at 2009-01-08 02:25 pm (UTC)
Reply | Thread | Link



scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2009-01-08 17:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In short: writers ain't normal.

::chuckle:: And this is news because... ? ;-)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Joanne Merriam
User: joannemerriam
Date: 2009-01-08 14:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Both the Australian and the Canadian were horrified at the thought that a white writer might use Aboriginal or First Nations material in their fiction, that we as white writers didn't have standing to do that. "

I'll just note, as a Canadian, that the Canadian you spoke with wasn't necessarily reflecting the majority view in Canada... it's quite a controversial subject amongst Canadians, especially for appropriating FN material because of our historically horrifying treatment of them - in some ways worse than the US's - look up "residential schools" for example. I don't know if there *is* a majority view on this topic amongst Canadians. Certainly there's no consensus. But we sure do idolize Emily Carr, and appropriating native material was pretty much her stock in trade.

Personally, I don't think any topic should be off-limits to an artist. I think it's a difficult balancing act, but choose to incorporate what I think I can write convincingly about, and ask for advice about it from people who know more than I do.
Reply | Thread | Link



skeptic320
User: skeptic320
Date: 2009-01-14 22:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've had this issue myself as a white student in a creative writing program. Personally, I don't believe that someone can steal another person's culture just by writing about it. Of all the acts of cultural theft that have occurred, there have been far more grievous ones, like literal theft of artifacts and the destruction of tradition.
This is not to say that I think this gives, say, a white writer carte blanche to say whatever they want about First Nations culture and claim it is perfectly accurate. Writers do have a responsibility to be sensitive to the reactions of groups they write about, and said groups have a right to respond if they feel they've been ill-treated by an author's work. The conflict arises, I think, between "you said things that aren't true about us" or "you failed to respect our point of view" and "these ideas belong to us, you are not allowed to explore or examine them because that is stealing them".
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2009-01-08 14:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I find the whole "cultural appropriation" thing arrant nonsense, on the level of "the camera stole my soul". There is nothing wrong with a white, male, North American writer creating black, female African characters, if he knows enough about the kind of person he's creating to make his character a well-rounded, believable person. As libertango said above, there is such a thing as imagination.

I was struck, reading Escapement, how well-developed your female characters were, in particular Paolina (and how well you handled Portuguese, a language which has caused problems for more than one American writer -- Harry Turtledove, in The Pugnacious Peacemaker had me seriously puzzled for a while until I realised that the river he was calling the "Huurwa" in his fake-Anglicised ortography of a Quechua-dominated South America was the one labelled Jurúa on my map of Brazil). But then, I fall into the "how come there are only white people in the world?" school of SF/F critique.
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-01-08 14:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I fall into the "how come there are only white people in the world?" school of SF/F critique.

Me, too. It bothers me.

I had an odd conversation with Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless about my recent space opera novelette that just got placed in THE NEW SPACE OPERA 2. The two protags/mutual antags are both female. A long-past sexual and emotional relationship between them figures heavily into the story. One of my first readers asked me, "Why did you use a lesbian relationship as the basis of the plot?"

I had to stop and think about that. In a sense, he was right -- the plot would have worked roughly the same way with any strong prior relationship between the two characters, regardless of gender or orientation. My answer was, "I was making a statement by not making a statement. This is a future which isn't heteronormative, and it doesn't matter."
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



martyn44
User: martyn44
Date: 2009-01-08 14:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm going to dragoon Robert McKee into this argument (not that it is an argument, as far as I'm concerned) The creative writing mantra is to write what you know. Yes, and William Shakespeare was a witch, a Scottish king, a Danish prince, a Roman emperor and several types of fairy. No, I don't think so. As writers, we must know what we write about, not write about what we know (because most of us know very little, we're too busy writing to have lives...) Which means research, both real and imaginary. As writers, our primary duty is to our material and characters. What readers make of our work is beyond our control.

The notion of cultural authority is spurious. It is not the function of the artist to be an authority, except in the matter of their imagination. Which is a truer, more authoritative account of the Battle of Borodino, Tolstoy's completely fictitious War and Peace or the Cambridge History?
Reply | Thread | Link



fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2009-01-08 15:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You do realise that the most thorough account of the Battle of Plataea is that contained in Aeschylus's The Persians, don't you? Of course, Aeschylus was there, unlike Tolstoy, who was unavoidably not at Borodino.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
bondo_ba
User: bondo_ba
Date: 2009-01-08 14:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Uh-oh. I'm currently writing a story about 11th century Vikings who encounter an Anasazi tribe in their wanderings. A humorous story. Man am I going to get ripped...

You're absolutely right. That way lays madness.
Reply | Thread | Link



silk_noir: Fighting
User: silk_noir
Date: 2009-01-15 15:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Fighting
Yes, probably, but not for the reasons you imagine.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



orangemike: speaks
User: orangemike
Date: 2009-01-08 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:speaks
We go over this territory almost annually at WisCon; I've found the points of view expressed very thought-provoking.

The downside of "well, just imagine it" is the possibility of creating bogus Magic Negroes, Noble Savages, etc. I'm thinking particularly of Hanta-Yo, the obnoxious "The Sioux were secretly Randites, complete with long John-Galtesque monologues" novel that so many Lakota find hilariously wrongminded.
Reply | Thread | Link



ozarque
User: ozarque
Date: 2009-01-08 15:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For me, the problem comes up -- and gets serious -- when what's being appropriated is part of the Other culture's sacred domain. I did my graduate work in Navajo, and wrote my dissertation on Navajo, and taught courses on Navajo .... but I would never feel free to write fiction that had Rainbow Girl or Corn Boy as characters.

Reply | Thread | Link



jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2010-03-31 17:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Really? I've written stories that had the Greek gods as characters. Why are the Navajo supernatural beings any more (or less) sacred?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
squirrel_monkey
User: squirrel_monkey
Date: 2009-01-08 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think part of the issue is how it gets phrased sometimes. As in, 'well, people can't tell me what to write'. Which implies that people are actively trying to prevent (hypothetical) you from speaking out/writing about other cultures, but they are not -- they are expressing their views on the issue, which may not coincide with yours. An implicit dynamics in such debates is that representatives of dominant cultures want to be told that it's all right for them to write other cultures. But as any minority culture does not speak with a single voice, it's not going to happen. Which is to say, writing the other is fraught with historical and cultural and personal repercussions, and one should at least consider those things before (as often happens) thumping one's chest and proclaiming one's right to depict whatever. Yes, some people are going to disapprove; it's not an excuse to say "oh screw it, they are going to bitch anyway, so I'll just write whatever I want."
Reply | Thread | Link



Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ: Lavender faerie
User: shveta_thakrar
Date: 2009-01-09 03:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Lavender faerie
We had discussed this before, but again, I say, "Yes, that." :)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Bibbit
User: bridget_coila
Date: 2009-01-08 16:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is a topic I'm dealing with a lot lately, too...

I think in my mind, the main thing is to be conscious of what we are writing/portraying and try to best tell the "truth as I know it." Not literal truth, of course, since we're talking about fiction here, but the truth about character and humankind.

In good fiction, the character is not a stereotype, but an individual- just like real people are. Their individual worldview may be tempered or affected by their background, ancestry, living conditions, etc- but these are all *factors*- a good character is far more than those things.

Basically, I think when writing about "The Other" one should be aware of the potential pitfalls and do their research and then jump in. Creativity comes from the mashing of various ideas, perspectives and viewpoints. To deny the use of particular pieces of the things we encounter would be to crush the potential for creativity.

B
Reply | Thread | Link



J.K.Richárd: Aroo?!
User: neutronjockey
Date: 2009-01-08 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Aroo?!
I've always wanted to play nom de plume games... you know, publish a really deep minority/feminist piece with a female/minority nom de plume... maybe you should do your next all-female cast book as Jennifer J. Lake.
Reply | Thread | Link



David Moles
User: scarypudding
Date: 2009-01-08 17:09 (UTC)
Subject: It's all about the Author Points
I think as white dudes we just have to be aware that we start out docked twenty -- justifiably docked twent -- for previous bad behavior by the team. If you make those up, it's not a problem. If you say, "Hey, Sherman Alexie has free license to make fun of white people, what's wrong with my fake-ass Hopa-nava-chera-pache magical mentor figure?" then you're Doin It Wrong.
Reply | Thread | Link



jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2010-03-31 17:24 (UTC)
Subject: It's All About Anti-White Racism
I think as white dudes we just have to be aware that we start out docked twenty -- justifiably docked twenty -- for previous bad behavior by the team.

This is not "justifiable," because we are not guilty for the sins of other people. As a white dude I refuse to accept the "docking" and see it as a personal offense against me when someone attempts such a "docking."

This is quite aside from the fact that your claim is of dubious historical verity -- I would argue that the white "team" has behaved no worse (and no better) than is the norm.

I note that equivalent "dockings" for past bad behavior are never suggested against non-white groups -- for instance, it would be seen as wrong for American blacks to "dock" Africans or Arabs for enslaving their ancestors in the first place, yet it is oddly right to dock all American whites, regardless of whether or not their ancestors had anything to do with the slave trade, for the actions of southern American whites.

If you say, "Hey, Sherman Alexie has free license to make fun of white people, what's wrong with my fake-ass Hopa-nava-chera-pache magical mentor figure?" then you're Doin It Wrong.

On the contrary -- you are doing it precisely right in that case.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



Clint Harris: Hawk
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2009-01-08 17:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hawk
Does being from a particular background give you some added insight or perspective on something? Sure. Does it give you the only perspective? Hell no.
Reply | Thread | Link



writertracy
User: writertracy
Date: 2009-01-08 17:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
America is a huge country, and we've got so many cultural influences. White is really just a bland catchall descriptor for someone who is so far removed from their immigrant ancestors that they no longer identify with them.

White in my area of the country is usually someone with at least one Cherokee great-grandparent, two irish protestant great-grandparents, and one great grandparent who moved up from Texas on a cattle drive but actually came west from Virginia after the Civil war, and was possibly either french or german, and possibly one parent who came from Mexico or the Marshall Islands.

Which isn't going to mean the same thing as in Minnesota, where there are many more folks who probably had great-grandparents who used words like lutefisk and ate fish on fridays like good catholics do.

So how exactly is "White" supposed to be an experience? For that matter, how can someone who is "White" not draw from an aboriginal cultural authority when that's as much a part of the cultural makeup as the rest of it?

Edited at 2009-01-08 05:49 pm (UTC)
Reply | Thread | Link



silk_noir
User: silk_noir
Date: 2009-01-15 15:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
But dude. You're still white.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



Swan Tower: academia
User: swan_tower
Date: 2009-01-08 18:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:academia
This is a problem much discussed in anthropology, as well, where the tension is even worse. On the one hand, you've got people not just writing about but trying to explain a culture that isn't theirs; on the other hand, you've got the not-wholly-unfounded notion that it actually helps to be an outsider to a culture, because of the perspective it gives you. Which is one reason the field hasn't flipped wholly over to insider ethnographies.

The only solution I've ever arrived at, in anthro or in fiction, is that you have to be respectful. Unfortunately, respect is in the eye of the beholder, and somebody may very well look at what you're doing and scream about how utterly disrespectful you're being, when you thought you had taken every fair precaution. If there are a lot of those people, and especially if they're predominantly from the group you're writing about, then you should take it as a sign that maybe you're not being as polite as you thought. But there's probably always going to be somebody who thinks you haven't done enough -- and maybe can never do enough -- to overleap that bar.
Reply | Thread | Link



K Tempest Bradford
User: ktempest
Date: 2009-01-08 18:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*whips out white people bingo, cultural appropriation bingo, and popcorn. settles in for a long, annoying trainwreck of a thread.*
Reply | Thread | Link



Jay Lake: jay-laughing
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-01-08 18:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-laughing
This is why I adore you so thoroughly, Temp. :)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



farmgirl1146
User: farmgirl1146
Date: 2009-01-08 19:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I find your post moving because I have met with this, too. I will make the bold statement that there is no such thing as race, however there is collective experience. The idea of race is a leftover of crackpot science that has not been able to be duplicated. The most telling part of a person's life is their collective experience, and when you write of your experience you transcend other people's stereotypes of you. However, racism is a convenient way for people to denigrate other people.

Part of our collective experience is a John Updike moment when only those not perceived as “white” have their race commented upon. I have often read books written by people of various “races” and no one’s race or skin tone is commented upon, and then I read “Joe Blow, the black detective, walked in.” The author did not write “Milton Milktoast, the white detective, walked in.” That perpetuates a racist tone, whether intentional or not.

Only commenting on the skin tone or “race” of the “other” forms the most consistent form of racism in American fiction. There is a book that works to help writers escape from this, Writing the Other by Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl. You are probably aware of it. The book is full of exercises that are enlightening to do.

In writing this, I am looking at your photograph and the photograph of hal_obrien. I can see how someone two thousand years ago might think you are from different races, because you look so different. His hair is the color of a faded Red Japanese Maple leaf, shading from pink to dark red, while your hair is the color of a sand dune on Cape Cod, bleached white with flecks of light brown rock.

Jay, thank you for your post.
Reply | Thread | Link



Mary Dell
User: marydell
Date: 2009-01-09 05:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I will make the bold statement that there is no such thing as race

There is no such thing as race when it comes to contemporary genetic science, but there is absolutely such a thing as race when it comes to social categories, discrimination, privilege, and so forth.




Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2009-01-08 19:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have a theory that at it's core people are all the same: I mean we all worry about having a roof over our heads and enough food to feed our families. From there it gets more complicated.

I always say I'm quite an ignorant person, not because I'm insensitive to issues of race and religion, but because I'll always assume a position of ignorance and ask those difficult questions that only 5 year olds tend to ask (Why? How? Who?). This way I always listen, I always learn, even if I don't always understand (but believe that is always my aim).

But you know, I read a good novel about someone african or asian, I don't care a hoot what color the author's skin is, or which god they pray to, I just care whether the novel is good or not.

So for that reason I'll continue to be ignorant and continue to write characters of all races and creeds, using what I've learnt from asking all those questions to make them as well-rounded and true a character as I possibly can.
Reply | Thread | Link



Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2009-01-08 20:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's horrifying to think that one could only write if one belongs to that particular community. It also makes no sense. If carried to its logical conclusion, the only writing anyone could ever do would be autobiographies.
Reply | Thread | Link



Loligo
User: loligo
Date: 2009-01-08 23:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's interesting to me how many white writers react to the notion of cultural appropriation with a kind of defensive territoriality, as if some kind of right were being stripped from us. But the underlying issue here isn't about rights at all -- it's not about what we're "allowed" to write about. It's about asking yourself what you really *want* to write about, and what kind of effect you want to have on your readers (*all* your readers, not just the ones from your own racial/cultural group).

Why would I want to write something that makes some group of already-marginalized people feel like they've been taken advantage of yet again? Setting aside questions of justice and compassion, there's no point in needlessly hurting potential readers who might, like, buy my books and stuff! (Um, if I ever finished a book, that is. And sold it.)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link | Expand



Jim C. Hines: Damsels Causing Distress
User: jimhines
Date: 2009-01-09 00:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Damsels Causing Distress
I'm struggling with this right now, actually. The first two princess books required me to write three female protagonists. I'm fairly comfortable with how I did, though I needed a lot of help. One of my favorite points in book two came at my wife's suggestion -- Cinderella's servants try to dress her up and get her into those old glass slippers, and she just laughs and says, "You think there's any way I can fit into those things after having a kid?" As a guy, it never even crossed my mind that some women's shoe size increase after pregnancy ... but it was a delightful detail.

Book three scares me. We leave the pseudo-European fairy tale setting for a more pseudo-Arabic one. I know I'm much more ignorant here, and it's going to be a lot more work. And that I'll probably make more mistakes. It will be a lot easier for me to fall into those assumptions and stereotypes, to write characters and cultures that are more exploitive.

I don't see that as a reason to avoid writing the book. And while I've followed this sort of discussion before, I've never actually had anyone challenge my right to write non-male, non-white, non-straight, non-me characters.

But I do recognize this book will be harder, and I have to be a lot more aware of my own assumptions and ignorance.
Reply | Thread | Link



mmegaera: writing
User: mmegaera
Date: 2009-01-09 04:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing
Got me. Speaking as someone whose favorite own protagonist so far is a 20-year-old male (I started writing him when I was well over 40 -- and I'm female).

I think there is a certain amount of baggage whenever someone writes a character out of hir own personal experience, and it gets worse when racial/cultural issues come up. No matter what you do about it, it pays to be aware of them, at least.
Reply | Thread | Link



Mary Dell
User: marydell
Date: 2009-01-09 04:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think that the idea of "the other" as a way of approaching cultures not one's own is problematic. That can excuse stories of the wily Chinaman and the mystical Hindoo and so forth, although in modern dress. (Jay, I'm not accusing you of this! Just making a general observation, having seen this sort of thing from time to time, and probably also having produced it myself in my youth)

At the same time, blithely writing about things that one imagines about other cultures, without having a personal connection or experience, is also problematic, because of the likelihood of getting it wrong. And also of stealing interesting details of a culture and leaving behind large defining elements like race ("I am Kirok!")

Neil Gaiman, with Anansi Boys, takes the approach I personally lean toward--the main characters are not white; that's indicated here and there but isn't highlighted as an exotic quality. He got a writer with the right linguistic background to help him with dialect (Nalo Hopkinson) so he's not just making it up. The story wouldn't have the same feel at all if it was set in a different place or among different people, but nobody inside the story thinks they're in an exotic setting.

I suspect the key to writing about anything that isn't one's own experience is to get it right from the point of view of someone who has had that experience. If I ever figure out how to do that, I'll be sure to tell the world :)

Edited at 2009-01-09 05:06 am (UTC)
Reply | Thread | Link



karenmiller: Harley
User: karenmiller
Date: 2009-03-11 13:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Harley
Coming to this very late, and in a roundabout fashion, and forgive me if I've missed this point made elsewhere -- but the thing for us Australian writers is that the Aboriginal people don't want us using their stuff. And given that theirs is a living, breathing, current culture, my feeling is that if they say, Hands off please, to not respect that is the height of arrogance. By a very long way we've not always done well by the indigenous people of this country -- to leave their spiritual and creation beliefs alone is the least we can do. Being a writer doesn't give me carte blanche to take what I like from these people just because there's no law to stop me. And certainly not under the convenient excuse that I'm an artist and all is fair game to me in my exercise of artistic expression. That, to me, is indeed the height of cultural appropriation and unseemly insensitivity and distasteful privilege.
Reply | Thread | Link



jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2010-04-02 17:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
... the thing for us Australian writers is that the Aboriginal people don't want us using their stuff. And given that theirs is a living, breathing, current culture, my feeling is that if they say, Hands off please, to not respect that is the height of arrogance.

You believe that other people have the right to tell you what you should or should not write about? Really? Does this apply to other cultures?

For instance, if you had a French character in your story, and some French people told you that they "didn't want you using their stuff," would you respect this wish and eschew writing about France?

By a very long way we've not always done well by the indigenous people of this country -- to leave their spiritual and creation beliefs alone is the least we can do.

To allow any group, no matter how well or poorly other people who look kinda like you have treated them, to tell you what you can and cannot write, is the beginning of your death as a creative artist. You might wish to participate in your own censorship -- others will choose freedom.

Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



browse
my journal
links
January 2014
2012 appearances