?

Log in

entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
The Llama Problem - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
The Llama Problem
Here is a brilliant essay about sexism in culture and literature, using the extended metaphor of llamas.

From time to time, I mention that I am different from most people, that my mind doesn't work the same way.  And one of the more dramatic examples goes like this.

*movie with cannibalistic scaly llamas*

Me: "This is stupid.  Llamas are fluffy."

Normal person: "No they aren't."

Me: "There is a fluffy llama.  Look, llamas are fluffy."

Normal person: "WTF?  Everyone knows llamas aren't fluffy!"

Me: "Also they hum."

Normal person: "How would you EVEN KNOW THAT?"

Me: "By knowing some damn llamas!"

Normal person: "ZOMGWTFBBQ!  Shut up now!"

Me: *write fluffy llamas*

I'm social teflon.  Everyone saying something that is observably false does not convince me that they are right.  It convinces me that everyone else is crazy.  And of course, they think I'm the crazy one, because when there's a disagreement of claims, I go looking for evidence and I favor factual examples over people's beliefs.  This is really, really unpopular.  It drives many people bugfuck.  

On the other hoof, it's great for crowdfunding.  You want some fluffy llamas?  Bring 'em.  I'll write something.  I'm really good at filling cultural gaps that way.  I enjoy it.  I actively look for this stuff, because it leads to stories that haven't been told a million times.  Fresh stories are often better stories; they hook readers more and harder.  I like that a lot.  I like it as a reader, a writer, a reviewer, an editor, a prompter, a donor ... everything.  I just like it.

And yes, real llamas do hum.  I learned this at the county fair one year when somebody brought llamas.  Because I am a writer and everything is research it never really shuts off.  I am a fountain of random weird trivia like that, and that's where I get the cool concrete details that I drop into my writing.

Tags: , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

29 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
paradigmshifty From: paradigmshifty Date: May 22nd, 2013 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Smart people seem like crazy people to dumb people.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)

O_O

Too true. The stupid, it burns like hydrogen.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: May 22nd, 2013 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG......You have no idea how true this is.
Thank you! (Right time, right place, right person--it's that sort of thing.)
:)



From: rhodielady_47 Date: May 22nd, 2013 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
"And yes, real llamas do hum."
They also stomp their feet, lay their ears back, and they spit.
Accurately.
Hey, if you're going to write you NEED to know stuff like that.
Few things annoy me more than reading something so generalized that you can't really tell whether the herbivore the writer has used in their fiction is a llama, a cow, an elk, or maybe even a large chicken.
I love detail and always have.
You do good detail. I always get a sense of where I am in your writing.
:}


ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 09:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>They also stomp their feet, lay their ears back, and they spit.<<

There are masks to prevent that.

>>Few things annoy me more than reading something so generalized that you can't really tell whether the herbivore the writer has used in their fiction is a llama, a cow, an elk, or maybe even a large chicken.<<

Agreed. I also dislike McFantasyLand scenery.

>>I love detail and always have.
You do good detail. I always get a sense of where I am in your writing.<<

Yay! That makes me happy.
rowangolightly From: rowangolightly Date: May 22nd, 2013 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with Rhodie; you DO do good details.

And I like fluffy llamas.

My current annoyance with writing is the improper use of "thee" by authors who SHOULD KNOW BETTER. And if they don't know, it's not hard to find out the proper usage. Just sticking "thee" in place of "you" is so lazy and 90% wrong and it makes me just nuts.
cat_sanctuary From: cat_sanctuary Date: May 22nd, 2013 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I learned two rules. King James and his merrie men used "thou" as the second person singular subject, "thee" as the object, and "you" and "ye" as the plural; they also had second-person verb endings. American Quakers used "thee" as the second person singular subject or object, "you" as the plural, with third-person singular or plural endings. Then of course there are the writers (I forget whether it was Piers Anthony or Terry Pratchett who made fun of them in the 1980s) who don't follow either rule, possibly to suggest exotic reasons of their own, but if so they might explain those reasons. Otherwise, as you say, they seem lazy.
rowangolightly From: rowangolightly Date: May 22nd, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
My gripe in this case is with C.J. Cherryh, whose writing I love but whose laziness in this annoys the tar out of me. Granted, these are the Azaroth (SP?) books from the '80's, but still.

I've taught Renaissance Language and Dialect classes for too many years to let that one go by. No amount of exotic reasoning flies with me in this regard. If they're gonna use archaic language, use it properly, doggonit.
marrael From: marrael Date: May 22nd, 2013 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm social teflon. Everyone saying something that is observably false does not convince me that they are right. It convinces me that everyone else is crazy. And of course, they think I'm the crazy one, because when there's a disagreement of claims, I go looking for evidence and I favor factual examples over people's beliefs. This is really, really unpopular. It drives many people bugfuck.

Oh, I so, so feel you on this one.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 09:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

It's nice to find someone else who thinks along similar lines.
itew From: itew Date: May 22nd, 2013 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
The best example of the fluffy llama quandary I've found in my life is a few times, just prior and just after my transition, when myself and my partner raised the issue of homophobic comments both in our local roleplaying society and on facebook. We, and him especially, were told repeatedly to stop being do-gooding straights who didn't know ANYTHING ABOUT THE TOPIC. Because apparently given we hadn't hadn't in our practicing queers card at the beginning of the dialogue, we could not be authorities on our own oppressions.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

People can get disturbingly protective of their wrongheaded ideas and practices. I don't care whether the bullshit applies to a group I'm part of or some other group. I have near-zero tolerance for any of that nonsense.

Aaaaand that's a key reason why most of my friends are online rather than in person.
rowangolightly From: rowangolightly Date: May 22nd, 2013 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
GODS, YES! This is a hot-button of mine. It's as if you have to show your queer credentials every time you want to express an opinion in some pleaces! I KNOW I look 'white bread' to some people but I'm not. How did we suddenly get into a "gayer than you" paradigm? *pant pant*

And how do we affect any change if we don't point out errors where we see them. That is not 'do-gooding' and what on earth is wrong with doing good?

Sorry to butt in...

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

>> I KNOW I look 'white bread' to some people but I'm not. How did we suddenly get into a "gayer than you" paradigm? *pant pant* <<

That's exactly where: from the devisive dynamics of racism, which are to a significant extent a deliberate social construct. Any subgroup that can be induced to fight amongst itself is less of a threat to the mainstream.

>> And how do we affect any change if we don't point out errors where we see them. <<

It is difficult to solve problems if they cannot be identified and discussed rationally.

However, there actually is another toolset -- praising what works, instead of pointing out what doesn't. As with raising small children, you have to watch for opportunities when they are being good, and encourage that. People will still diss you for doing it, but the technique is valid.
rowangolightly From: rowangolightly Date: May 22nd, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

You said a mouthful right there, my friend. And that is what I try to do; praise and encouragement along with a swift rubber mallet when I think I can get away with it...from the vantage of my advanced years and experience, doncha know. *cough cough*
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

SOMEbody has to be the grownup.
rowangolightly From: rowangolightly Date: May 22nd, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Ye gods, perish the thought!
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 23rd, 2013 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

However, there actually is another toolset -- praising what works, instead of pointing out what doesn't. As with raising small children, you have to watch for opportunities when they are being good, and encourage that. People will still diss you for doing it, but the technique is valid.

My friend Ki often says, "Consistency, consistency, consistency; praise, praise, praise: this is how we train our children, pets, and slaves." It applies to other classes, of course, but those don't rhyme and scan.
itew From: itew Date: May 23rd, 2013 01:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

I agree with all these points (and there would have been nothing wrong with my ex and I being nice well meaning queer allies who were anti homophobia). Because of how I speak/present myself now it's generally assumed that I live in some bizarre Gay Academic Ivory Tower (I would love one), and have not experienced ANYTHING. And... yeah. I'm not a woman or a POC- I try to vocally object to racism and misogyny as much as possible (this can be amazingly tiresome in the roleplaying circles in which I run)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 24th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

If more people supported respect for groups they don't belong to, then more isms would be wasms.
arielstarshadow From: arielstarshadow Date: May 22nd, 2013 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I came across this article yesterday on Facebook; as an historian, I've been saying much of what this article says for years. I receive lots of "REALLY???" when I do. I do need to link to it here on LJ because I'm more apt to find it again later that way.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

I've always known about women's participation in areas of life not generally open to them at the time, but it helps to have documentation to prove it.
cat_sanctuary From: cat_sanctuary Date: May 22nd, 2013 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Everyone saying something that is observably false does not convince me that they are right. It convinces me that everyone else is crazy. And of course, they think I'm the crazy one, because when there's a disagreement of claims, I go looking for evidence and I favor factual examples over people's beliefs. This is really, really unpopular."

Megadittos. (Even more unpopular, I sift through material from both sides of a mostly-false dichotomy to get a balanced collection of facts.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 23rd, 2013 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I also combine things from groups that dislike or disbelieve each other, such as mixing magic and science. Those are not like bleach and ammonia, but rather like oil and water. If you work it enough, you get a nice batch of mayonnaise.
meeksp From: meeksp Date: May 22nd, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know this was supposed to be a metaphor, but I really want to read about fluffy humming llamas now....
siege From: siege Date: May 22nd, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do they hum tunes, or just mutter to themselves? :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 22nd, 2013 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

I don't know; you'd have to ask a llama keeper, probably. I have known dogs that would howl more or less in tune with certain songs. Llamas are surprisingly clever. It's something I'd want to check, rather than dismissing the idea out of hand.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 23rd, 2013 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

You can always prompt me during a fishbowl or some other event. I can write about actual llamas.
natf From: natf Date: May 30th, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Llamas also produce fluff/fur/wool that is amazingly soft when spun into yarn, second only to their cousins the Alpacas.
29 comments or Leave a comment