Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas Eve
With Twitter becoming an unfun hellsite instead of a fun one, I’ve decided to start running a weekly post here as a more general sort of communication—a home for the random flights of fancy that social media has in the past been an outlet for. Since all the other midlist creators on Twitter are decamping to Substack and stuff I figured I’d take the cool outre move and do a retro-chic return to old school blogging about, like, whatever. Past that, who knows what these posts will be like? We’ll find out together! There are no rules, beyond the fact that Graham Linehan is human garbage whose continual occupation of the planet is an affront to basic decency!
Oh, and that these go up on Saturdays.
A Section Break
Yeah! These posts happen in sections now! It’s a wild and untamed world in which I can just do things like that!
Shit, now there’s three rules.
What I’m Up To (Professional Mix)
I’ve blocked off the rest of the year to work on the cyberpunk novel I’m writing. Currently I’m writing chapter seven, which is the penultimate chapter of Act I (in a three act structure). I’ve also got issue seven of Britain a Prophecy and a pitch document for a work for hire gig open.
Speaking of Britain a Prophecy, Penn is currently drawing pages 8-11 of issue 5, which will roughly mark the halfway point of that issue. Also, because I’ve been absolutely terrible about using this site to promote that project, did you know that we have three whole issues out on Gumroad, all of them pay what you want? Did you know that our fourth issue is available to all $5+ patrons? You do now, so if you haven’t downloaded and read our first three issues CLEARLY THERE IS NO HELPING YOU.
As for books, Eruditorum v8 is with the copy editor. I had a great conversation with her last week about all the ways I’m a fucking idiot who can’t make consistent decisions on things like whether wilderness years should be capitalized. I expect to have first revisions back at the beginning of the year, at which point I’ll go through them and then do a second pass that’s just a pure “OK, really, this is done, right?” edit.
Come January I’ll be switching gears and doing some more writing about Sandman for the Eruditorum Press Patreon. Right now I’m serializing Ithaca a Sága, a work of longform magical poetry. Each installment goes out to exactly zero likes or reactions, just a complete grave silence from my shockingly indulgent patrons. And if that doesn’t make you want to subscribe to the Patreon and check it out, I don’t know what possibly would.
On Canon (A Tiny Essay)
Adapted from a post to my Tumblr. Yeah, Tumblr. I said we were being retro-chic.
I want to talk about a position that I’ve seen espoused among people upon whom I have a demonstrable influence, and that I have issues with, namely the declaration that within fictional shared universes writers ought not be bound by canon. Which, what mostly strikes me thinking about that is “what writers?” Because the number of critics who are meaningfully in a position to talk about writing franchise fiction from the inside is pretty narrow. This simply isn’t a decision that critics generally get to make.
What critics can do is observe what canon meant at any given moment as a historical phenomenon. And, I ‘d stress, this is always what I did. In the essay I wrote that was most about the question “does Doctor Who have a canon,” I acknowledge the merits of the “there is no canon” position while also never thinking it actually accurately describes how Doctor Who works.
And this is something that’s acutely visible to me as I start to make the transition into fiction writing and begin pitching to write work-for-hire fiction. Because the clear reality is that if I were to ever get a gig on a franchise, there would in fact be a canon. Pretending that Doctor Who or DC Comics or Mass Effect or whatever other franchise I might theoretically get a job writing for some day has no canon would be a tremendously effective way of losing that job.
In which case “there is no canon” becomes… what? A defiant dream of people whose defiance only extends so far as writing fanfiction? It’s not that the argument can’t be made to work in some idealist sense of literary interpretation—I’m broadly sympathetic to those ideals. It’s just that the argument clearly does not apply to anything, or at least applies only in a very narrow place where the argument is effectively solipsism—the discarding of canon is allowed precisely because the work is fanfiction and thus non-canonical.
More broadly, the argument seems to me to just repeat the errors of 80s and 90s weirdly utopian fandom studies that tried to turn consumerism into a site of radical resistance in a way that not only hasn’t panned out, but has proven actively counterproductive. Fandom, by and large, was a mistake, and the postmodern frisson of “there is no canon” as an argument doesn’t come close to solving the problems with it, not least because it doesn’t engage with a single one of them.
What I’m Up To (Practical Mix)
Not a lot. Since we spent two weeks galavanting in the UK in November, Penn and I are on “stay home and take care of the pets” duty for this holiday, while Anna and Christine visit Anna’s family in North Carolina. I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, as a wicked cold front has settled in and a light snow is falling. We’re expecting a flash freeze. Heck, I’ll probably head out to the mailbox and see if a package is here in a minute and can see for myself.
Yep, glad I’m not driving in that. So yeah, it’s a quiet and slightly melancholy Christmas—celebrations will happen down the road by and large. Penn and I are making an ice cream to enjoy with a movie on Christmas night, and I’ll make pancakes in the morning, and we’ve each got a small gift to give each other on the day because Christmas ought to have at least one present on it, but that’s about it. Which suits what’s been a very downbeat year with a lot of losses in it.
I hope you’re reading this somewhere warm. I hope, whether this is a weekend you celebrate or not, that you have good company and good food, that you have people who love you nearby, and that you’re doing something nice for yourself.
Oh My God Is She Really Gonna Talk About Clothes For An Entire Section?
You bet I am, if only to properly set the “whatever the fuck I want” vibes for these posts.
In the wake of my father’s death and turning forty I found myself, without really meaning to, doing a ton of clothes shopping, which resulted in essentially a full wardrobe refresh. Which, if you follow my Twitter or Instagram, you saw a fair selection when I was taking constant selfies in the UK, and I’m not about to make my first post of this sort a bunch of glamor shots (though they’ll probably come), but I’m struck by the basic process of mindfully assembling a personal aesthetic.
A common thing trans women (and trans people in general, but I’m just gonna use she/her pronouns for this one) will talk about is the “do I want to fuck her or be her” question that gets asked of, if not of every girl, at least every interesting girl. And a problem in the initial rush of clothes shopping—above and beyond the fact that hormones take a while to reshape a body and the like—is that you haven’t worked out which was which yet. You end up buying an awful lot of clothes where you take them home and go “ooh, guess I just wanted to fuck her,” and then having three tops that give you a scrap of gender euphoria and that’s about it.
And so a few years in, once you’ve had time to think about it, turns out to be a really good time to sit down and try to do it right. For me, the key insight came out of the cyberpunk novel—I was writing a bit where my main character got a new professional wardrobe, and ended up writing a riff about building ensembles around iconic jackets. Which I looked at, looked at my wardrobe, and went “huh, the fact that I’m happiest when I do the layering thing might be a clue that I should just make that my thing, huh?”
So I went to Torrid, which is basically where I shop for two reasons. First, because the very first time I did girlclothes shopping when I still had a beard and had never femme presented in my life they let me have my wife in the fitting room so I could figure things out and that inspires lifetime loyalty. Second, I have a size in Torrid, it always fucking fits, and it’s almost always in stock. I ended up getting their standard v-neck t-shirt and a camisole (for days when I want to go a little more cleavage-centric) in more or less every color they sell, along with a quick pass through Hot Topic to get some suitably amusing band shirts. (In addition to the Seeming, Chvrches, and Tori Amos ones I owned I now have Avoidance, my good friend Lexi’s dungeon synth project, along with Garbage, Tool, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Evanescence. These do not, I stress, represent my favorite bands, but they do represent bands I am amused to use as fashion statements.) I did a similar pass on pants, with some all purpose jeans and some more niche things like several pairs of jewel tone corduroys.
Then I went hard on outer layers: blazers, hoodies, cardigans, flannels, and just some interesting other options to mix in. The goal was an extensively modular style—a thing that frustrated me about my wardrobe before was that I just sort of had individual outfits that I cycled through, and what I really wanted was something where I could pick a jacket or a shirt or a pair of pants and have tons of options for the other two items. My big maxim was “any outfit should be able to become a dress outfit by swapping the jacket.” For shoes, I ended up with a couple of pairs of Chelsea boots, because I have always kid of despised laces. Penn knocked together some simple choker-length necklaces in a couple of colors, all with round stone beads. And that was the bulk of it—another assist from Lexi got me a perfume I wear as my signature/everyday scent.
The result is largely a futch aesthetic, but a nicely chosen one that does a lot of mixing of casual and elegant—even when I go full on 90s grunge with a band t-shirt and a hoodie, it’s well-composed. My usual descriptor is “surprisingly elegant stoner.” Penn laughingly calls it the first moment of gender euphoria I’ve ever experienced, and he’s not wrong per se. Certainly it’s allowed for a level of comfort with being a fat middle aged trans woman that I hadn’t expected. But more to the point, at least for me, is simply the sense of looking deliberate—of projecting the sense that I am mindful of who I am and what I am doing in the world. Because, like, you don’t want to be a trans anarchist occultist blogger by accident, y’know?
Anyway, if you want to see any of this in action, check out the video of the book talk I gave at NYU about Neoreaction a Basilisk back in October.
(Oh god that default frame is terrible.)
Coming Soon To A Website So Close To You You’re Already On It
Let’s go ahead and announce the beginning of weekly serialization of the V for Vendetta Part 2 chapter of Last War in Albion in the New Year. January 2nd, 2023, look forward to “Today I Stop Being Real (V for Vendetta at DC),” followed by six more posts about anarchism, chan culture, Occupy Wall Street, and trans shit that will come out EVERY WEEK because if I’m gonna go back to using this site as my primary vehicle for communication I’m gonna fuckin do it.
Then there’ll probably be a break of at least a few weeks, just so I can make sure I maintain a buffer, but these weekly posts will continue, so you won’t be without content, and I hear all the kids love content these days.
Mind you, if you’re impatient the entire remainder of volume 3 and the start of volume 4 are already available on Patreon.
The Part Where She Leaves You With A Song
Let’s see. It’s Christmas, so let’s do this, from Thea Gilmore’s sublime Christmas album Strange Communion, and is a glorious anti-capitalist piece of outlaw folk with several contenders for my favorite line in a Christmas song this year.