Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Welcome to the Dystopia

So. The electors didn't save us (it was never very likely, but this is 2016 - probability was not a limiting factor and if they'd had any guts they'd have done it) and we're living in a dystopia with an incompetent con man at the helm appointing neo-Nazis and profit pirates, incidentally encouraging devotees of every systemic evil that we've been papering over since the country was founded to come out of the woodwork and do evil by the light of day.

Well! This is not the first time the bullies have been in charge of the classroom, and we do not lack historical examples for how to behave. Unfortunately, most of them involve the most privileged hunkering down and collaborating or hiding and leaving the work of making things better to the major sufferers, who are pretty busy being oppressed and surviving - or not. A lot of people will die and someday the privileged will look back and say: "Hey, we survived, it wasn't that bad" and get angry at any one who tells us that the systemic problems still linger and if we'd look past our privileged noses and admit that, we might finally be able to dismantle dystopia.

Millions of stories are about to go down. Many will be tragedies. How many will be told?

It's hard for an artist to know what to do in these situations. Few of us have much in the way of margins in our lives, or resources to devote to dismantling the structures of horror rising up around us. We don't make much money, often have multiple jobs (the day job, the creative work, and the family work; possibly also the bureaucracy work of getting the help you and yours are entitled to), and our talents may not be well-suited for activism or actively rescuing the people who are getting thrown under the bus. It's a certain amount of work even seeing and recognizing a chance to do someone some concrete good. Jews are asking their gentile friends now "Would you hide me?" and they aren't the only ones with reason to ask that question; but I must number myself among those whose answer is: "I would, but I don't think my attic is really habitable and I'm not sure how to make it so."

I'm a dumpy little white lady who writes books for young people but can't land an agent and is therefore in a long dry spell. I have health crap, I have no energy and a dodgy memory, I have a single-income family and the car is officially dead; but I know I'm still better off than a lot of people are going to be at any given time in the next four years. (I hope, only the next four years; I know that's not realistic, but some of us have to be optimists to get out of bed in the morning.)It cannot be enough to click and reblog and send occasional small donations to a handful of important activisms, to tread water and keep stuff in the mail and maintain an escapist little simblr and grumble to my friends. But what more can I do?

And do I even have the right to keep writing and trying to sell stuff, when it's so clear to me that what publishers should be doing over the next four years is dropping all their cis-het-white-abled writers in favor of amplifying marginalized voices? Seriously, if every artist of any kind who met that description stopped producing work for the next four years, and the amount of media published remained the same, the level of representation for people who don't meet that description would increase more than the level of cis-het-white-abled representation would decrease, with a considerable net gain for the world at large.

These are things that we must all consider. What privileges do we have? Is there a way to leverage them into the service of the unprivileged? Are we terrible people if we do not go to rallies because we simply cannot face the crowds or stand long in the cold, or are too afraid of tear gas?

Which privileges are we denied? Do we deserve to have them if we don't fight for them? How do we know a right from a privilege?

Back in middle school, I heard a family friend (who would have vigorously denied that he was racist) say (in effect) that "Negroes" had done a lot of things for "Society" and deserved not to be discriminated against, but "Mexicans" did nothing for "Society" and could be excluded, marginalized, and looked down on, guilt-free. I was not brave enough to speak up against a grownup, but we were living in West Texas at the time and I was aware enough of my surroundings to think: "But without Mexicans, there is no Society here."

And this is the bottom line, this is what the con man and his cronies and those who put him in power don't realize - we are all Society. Those who survive the next four years will be diminished by the loss of those who do not - and by the loss of the voices that fall silent in order to survive.

It is our responsibility to diminish this Society as little as possible - to help others to survive, and this is important.

But it is also important to keep making a Society worth preserving. To contribute our little mite, no matter how trivial it may seem, to a world that is not unrelieved misery to live in. To encourage others to create, to empower those less privileged, and to get the attention of those more privileged. To amplify the whispers of others and to make ourselves heard amid the raucous shouting of those who think that they are Society and that anyone who is insufficiently like them has to earn the right to exist in their shadow.

Resist by existing, if that is all you have the energy to do.

And if you must die, die loudly. Make it count.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


The problem with the tracking sequence isn't that it's circular, or too long, or ends in anti-climax. It's that I'm not using it to make the Caves threatening enough, and everyone is much too calm.

Not sure how to do that, but you can't solve a problem till you recognize it.