Erudite Waffles (2/11/23)
Hello, I’m Elizabeth Sandifer, and you’re spending your Saturday reading Eruditorum Press.
What I’m Up To
I got the Last War in Albion Volume 4 post on Storm Constantine out to Patrons. Read a bunch of comics for the next couple essays. Penn drew some panels. Been a pretty sleepy week.
Youth pastor for Cthulhu voice But you know who hasn’t been sleeping? Jack fuckin’ Graham, who’s written his first new essay in fucking ages. Those of you wise enough to back his Patreon have already seen it, the rest will have their sanities wrenched from their minds on Monday. And then on Tuesday, it’s Christine’s birthday, and I’m throwing her about eight thousand words of party. There will be lesbians. Final part of the V for Vendetta chapter will go out on the 20th, the same day Penn and I fuck off to Brooklyn again to see Lexi.
Even the Mere Idea of More Vacation Photos is Like a Hellish Weight Within My Mind, Please Make it Stop and Give Me Some Tumblr Asks
You hear that everyone? Send center-justified bold-face text your Tumblr asks courtesy of elsandifer.tumblr.com, where my askbox lies open to all regardless of whether they want to speak to me or a typographical element tortured by its own existence.
in your tiny essay on hugboxing and scab picking you wrote: “you can’t help but think that if something comes along that shakes the foundations of what’s possible it’s gonna come from the hugbox side”, and then in your manhunt review: “This is the future. The door has, at last, been kicked open, and it’s time to storm the castle and put our new fucking queen on the throne”. have your feelings on the matter evolved between the two or do you think manhunt doesn’t quite shake the foundations?
My feelings have evolved; the hugbox side has gotten, to my mind, increasingly bound up in solipsism, dogmatism, and an inability to recognize that working for defense contractors is bad, while the scab-picking side had the best piece of trans SFF in recent memory, and that’s changed the math rather a lot.
More broadly, I’m deeply hostile to the growing trend of sex negativity within the queer community, and frankly I see that as coming out of a similar place to hugboxing, so my opposition to it has gotten much starker.
With your changing feels on scab picking does the man you’re more lenient on what kind of scabpicking isn’t too far? For an shitty example: Do you still oppose discorded whooves on an sheer conceptual level despite it’s scabpicking origins?
At the end of the day my problem with Discorded Whooves is that I would rather stab my own eyes out than engage at length with a My Little Pony/Doctor Who crossover Tumblr blog. I don’t think there’s any principles underlying that; it’s purely a statement about my interests and preferences. But it’s a very firm one that’s not especially movable; I’ve put in my effort appreciating adult fandom of children’s media, and as it turns out I hate literally everything about it. (I mean, I’m pretty anti fandom period at this point.)
I don’t know that I’m inclined to think of “too far” as a useful criticism of scabpicking though. I think it’s almost always going to serve as a placeholder that’s covering a more specific and insightful critique—“it’s just mean without anything worthwhile to say” or “its aesthetics tip too far into camp for what it’s trying to do” or something.
In hindsight, how do you feel about your decision to debate Vox Day?
I mean, I think it’s telling that I don’t keep that book in print. The world did not, it turns out, need what amounted to a SFF fanzine debate with a fascist. I don’t think it was harmful, but I don’t think it was productive either.
Any thoughts as to how you’ll handle Jerusalem in LWIA?
Hi! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on Moore’s Providence as an example of late style?
It’s certainly an example of it. Not, to my mind, one of the most interesting—Moore’s thoughts on Lovecraft aren’t especially novel, nor are they ones he feels especially passionate about. But very much the sort of thing Moore does in his late career, which I’m broadly sympathetic to.
On Hogwarts’ Legacy
Seeing endless waves of Hogwarts Legacy discourse wash against the shores of my Twitter feed, and finding myself thinking once again about the ethical consumption under capitalism, and what to do in its absence. Because, of course, the lines to draw here are complicated ones. Much as the idea of categorically avoiding art by morally reprehensible people sounds nice, it’s neither realistic nor, frankly, desirable to spend one’s time endlessly scrutinizing celebrity behavior to maintain a naughty list. The fact of the matter is that we all make our moral compromises in the art we consume, the same way we do it in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the travel we engage in, and everything else.
For the most part, I’ve come to find “but what about the ethics of the artist” a relatively unsatisfying yardstick to apply. It’s hard, with this sort of thing, not to think about the fact that I’m dating a black metal fan and scholar. Which, especially because of the latter part of that, means that she listens to plenty of stuff by people who are basically edge cases in moral horror, and plenty more from the vast contaminated middle that happens when your scene has a decades old nazi problem. And this fact just quickly saps your ability to care. What do you do with the information that the bass player on this live track is a neo-nazi terrorist and murderer? Mostly, it turns out not to be that interesting. You don’t write off entire genres over it.
At the end of the day, as someone who’s spent a fair part of my life engaging in perverse fascinations with horrible things, it’s simply not worth trying to silo “ethics of the creator” off as a special case within your artistic preferences. To the extent that it comes down to some actual financial harm analysis, frankly the royalties off of an individual song stream or movie ticket or even video game simply do not constitute sufficient support of evil to be worth stressing about as a special form of harm. In the end, the basic displeasure of seeing Johnny Depp’s face in the year of our lord 2023 or of having to think about Kanye’s politics are the bulk of the weight carried. The experience generally poisons itself.
And yet in the case of Hogwarts Legacy… I mean, first of all what we’re dealing with is an oddity—a corporate mega-property on the scale of Batman or Star Wars that remains primarily owned by its creator. Which would ordinarily be quite nice in a world full of Jack Kirbys and Bill Fingers, except that, well, she’s a virulently genocidal bigot whose recent work seems to indicate that she’s working on the full Dave Sim in terms of just becoming completely consumed by her hatred. And sure, the financial considerations in supporting a video game still aren’t huge, but man, she’s about as odious as it gets. She wants me personally to not exist. And then there’s the lead developer who’s an anti-feminist ex-YouTuber. And the blatantly antisemitic plot of the damn game. There’s a lot in the negative column here.
Which, you know, fine, maybe the work of art exists that can still be reasonably enjoyed in the face of all of that shit. But, like… it’s only Harry Potter, folks. We’re talking about books written with the breezy literary functionality of Terrence Dicks, and without any of the admirably cranking out ten books a year; zippy little piles of generic genre tropes that plenty of authors had mixed perfectly well before and plenty have mixed far better since. They were competent mass entertainment that was successful enough to generate nostalgia, and so these days are simply a corporate mega-property—yet another dark satanic content mill. We’re not talking about a radical and groundbreaking piece of art offering unique and brilliant pleasures; we’re talking about a buggy video game tie-in to some pretty good kiddie lit from fifteen years ago.
In that regard, I don’t think it makes sense to call for a boycott for the game for the simple reason that a boycott seems best reserved for something one wants to buy but doesn’t for strategic reasons. And frankly, I decline to grant the premise that this is worth buying in the first place. It’s 2023, and there’s plenty of Content™ that you can have sluiced directly into your open and supplicating mouth without picking this franchise or game. Anybody whose sense of enjoyment of its vacuous junk food pleasures is undimmed by the moral degradation involved in supporting it is either shockingly unconcerned about trans people or an aesthetically stunted child with shitty taste. More likely both. Frankly, consumer ethics are the least of their problems.
The Part Where She Leaves You With a Song