Friday, October 23, 2009

Story Time

Episode 1001

The stones clattered from beneath the pony's feet and echoed down the hillside. This wasn't a good way to descend, but it was the only way it could get down alive. And it was bad enough they had stolen it without having killed it, too.

Elon put her hand on it's muzzle and spoke comforting words at it, letting it relax before the next effort. She looked at Paran, who was using the respite to test the animal's load.

"Should we go back?" Elon asked.

Paran glanced back the way they had come and shook her head. "It's too late for that. We're committed. Just try to go slow."

Elon nodded and urged the pony onward and downward. Fortunately, the route wasn't entirely made up of loose stones. There were enough places for them to stop and regroup their courage, and look down and realize how foolish they were being. At least they had had enough sense not to try this late in the day. At Paran's insistence they had camped up on the ridge, using the heavy pines as cover. Tonight they would be camping at the base. Assuming they were still alive to camp.

They made poor time, and when the sun rose high above them to laugh at their effort they were hardly half way. And the going only got worse as they went lower. Loose rock had to go some place, and that place was down. So the new pieces they were kicking joined the countless others already covering the lower slopes.

Elon wanted to complain, but what was the point? It wasn't as if Paran didn't already know. And what was to be done about it anyway? They couldn't go back up. Not now.

Just as she was beginning to think they might make it after all she felt her feet slip out from under her. She instinctively let go of the lead rope. That was a good thing, she hoped. At least she wasn't pulling the pony down on top of her.

The noise from her own fall made it impossible to know if either or both Paran and the pony were on their way down with her. And she was falling too fast to look. Fortunately, there were only fifty or sixty feet left before the ground leveled off so it wasn't long before she came to an unpleasant rest. Stones continued to rain down upon her and she warded her head with her arms until she was certain it was over.

She lifted her head and looked up the hill. Paran was trying to hurry the pony down at an angle. At least they hadn't fallen.

"Elon! Are you okay?" Paran called.

Elon got to her knees. "I think so."

"Move away from the debris field, in case we fall, too. I'm hurrying as fast as I dare."

"Don't. I'm okay. There's no need for you to come down like I did. I don't appear to be bleeding, apart from a couple of cuts, and nothing seems broken."

"Then find a place to wait."

The wait wasn't terribly long. In the end, Paran and the pony also slid down, but not nearly so far. The pony had fallen first so Paran came down on top. Also, the pack helped prevent serious injury.

Elon hurried over.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reflected Attitudes

The creative arts often have a huge impact on society and its social rules. This is particularly so of video, I think. I also believe the reason for this is that there are loads of people who would never think of picking up a book to read, but who will watch almost anything on television or in the theatre. Movie theatre. I expect the number of live performance attenders is similar to book readers.

Not that there aren't a lot of book readers. There are just more people who don't read book than who do.

But you can see the evolution of things by watching old movies and comparing them with newer issues. There was a lot of religious themes in the early films, although not exclusively. And when Christianity was portrayed it was done in overdramatic fashion. Other religions were put down. Homosexuality was not an overt topic in most Hollywood productions, although there were films to address it.

By the time the fifties came around preachers were almost always portrayed as crazy and/or phony. Gay and lesbian themes were kept in the background, couched with 'in' words and catch phrases that the general public would not understand.

In the sixties and seventies preachers were mostly ridiculous. And so were Gays and lesbians. Gay and lesbian characters were always overt, and always the source of one-line jokes. While this did bring the issue more out in the open, I wonder if it didn't also encourage 'gay-bashing'. I have read of small gangs who would seek out homosexuals in order to beat them up from before this era, so I'm not sure.

Gays and lesbians are still often the focus of humor, particularly on television sitcoms. But it's changing. As more and more people become public about what they believe and how they feel and want to live, society is being forced to acknowledge there are a lot more people who fall within the labels than previously thought.

That's video. What about the written word? What kind of an impact has that had over the years? After all, the written word has existed for thousands of years, while video is barely over one hundred years old. And talkie films are less than one hundred years old. So, how has the written word impacted social mores and such?

To be honest, I don't really know. I am learning through my online research that the subject has been written about for hundreds of years. I also expect there are a lot of stories written in which main characters were GLBT (My research has also shown there are a variety of orders for these letters. I use this order because it's what I'm used to.) Kind of like Abus Dumbledore in J.K.Rowling's, Harry Potter, series. According to Rowling, Dumbledore is gay. And yet the character never behaves or talks in a sexual manner. There are no hints of child molestation or adult affairs**. But then Dumbledore was also monogomous. But he is a natural character, and a favorite.

I expect there are a lot of characters in books which are of a like mold. Their authors saw them as gay, lesbian, or whatever, but didn't make it part of the actual story because that issue had nothing to do with the story. So the differences were subtle. Too sublte to be noticed by most of the reading audience, but probably enough to bring comfort to some. Comfort in the sense of familiarity. Of belonging.

Writing stories has evolved over the centuries. It's harder, I think, to get accepted by major publishers now, but it's easier to write whatever we want to write. And that is good for we who like to write.

** added later for clarification || I do not mean to imply that GLBT people are more prone to child molestation than others. However, it always seemed to me that that was how they were portrayed in the past. My point with J.K.Rowling was that she portrayed Dumbledore as normal.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What I Was and Who I Am

Got to waxing nostalgic and was thinking about grade school days, and how they differed from junior high and high school.

When I was in grade school (grades 1-6), it was not uncommon at all to see two girls walking the playground arm-in-arm. Or two boys, for that matter. There was lots of hugging to demonstrate close friendship. Generally it was same sex.

This was smiled on and not discouraged in any way by any member of the faculty or staff. They all thought it was great.

All of this changed once we reached seventh grade. Beginning in seventh grade girls were no longer encouraged to hug girls and boys were no longer encouraged to hug boys. And yet they stuck us naked in showers together. That was uncomfortable. For me, anyway. But same sex couples caught hugging, or even holding hands, would be mocked and humilitated - by students, faculty, and staff alike. Then, for those who were part of varsity sports or cheerleading squads, hugs and butt slaps were allowed during victory celebrations, home runs, touchdowns, and goals scored. But you'd better not enjoy it too much.

It's interesting to me that all of us apparently have it within ourselves to put aside our programming - when it suits us.

I wonder if the day will come when it suits most of us all, or at least most, of the time. It would certainly give us one less thing to fight about. And it would make a lot of people's lives a lot easier to live.

There weren't many who bucked the system back then. At my school ALL girls took home economics and ALL boys took shop class. In my six years of junior high and high school only one boy and one girl stood up and forced the school to let them switch. A boy decided he didn't want to learn how to fix cars, make things out of metal and whatnot. He would rather learn how to cook and sew and do things like that. A couple of years later a girl decided she wanted to learn the mechanics and crafts being taught the boys.

Think about that. We had six grades in the school with a total enrollment between 800 and 1,000 students. In six years only two people dared stand up and declare what they wanted.

I wasn't one of them.  Wish I had been.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A History of Hatred

Been reading up on lesbian life in the Victorian and medieval eras. My inspiration for doing this was a website that claimed in Victorian England there were women in 'respectable' society who deemed themselves married, called themselves married, and were treated as married by the rest of society. At the same time, women who indulged in 'affairs' with other women were considered low-life.

Unfortunately, I didn't bookmark the site and I don't recall how I stumbled upon it, so I can't provide a link at this time. But I found it interesting that perhaps we have actually become more narrow in our thinking as time has progressed. My research so far would indicate that no, we're just as narrow-minded as we've ever been, and just as critical of people who don't act (or think, or feel) like us.

Another thing which spawned my interest in Victorian society was remembering a documentary type show I saw a number of years ago about two girls who developed a close friendship. There did not seem to be any sexual behavior between them, but they were 'friendlier than just friends', as their families put it. Eventually they became a scandal and were separated. The one grew up to become an author, or a poet, and I think she was the focus of the documentary. Neither woman would talk about the other, and as I remember the documentary, neither woman was particularly happy with her life after separation.

I finding it interesting that about eight hundred years ago in certain parts of Europe it was women who were seen as the insatiable sex cravers and not men. Men were above that sort of thing. Right.

Well, I don't think that attitude lasted long, because what followed was the belief that women having sexual relations with women was impossible (because there could be no penetration). Right. But this belief hung on for a long time. Still, there were laws made and punishments doled out. The most common punishment was confinement in a nunnery, which explains the reputations some of the nunneries had. I mean, think about it. If you fill a place up with women who prefer women to men it only stands to reason that some of these women are going to fall in love with each other beyond simple friendship. It's really no different than the monastary reputations from the same time, or if one were to confine heterosexuals together.

People are going to fall in love when they meet someone who fills the empty place in their heart.

It's still incredible to me, though, how we, as a (human) race, put so much emphasis on sex and gender. Most people believe we are spiritual beings, meaning our spirit will live on when the body dies. Not everyone believes this, but I think most people do. Just look at how important religion and faith are around the world. So why, if we really aren't our bodies, do we make such a big deal out of what's between our legs and what we do with it? Is it because we have been taught that who and what we are is really defined by what goes on between our legs? Sometimes it seems so.

The research into Victorian and medieval societies is fascinating and I intend to continue my reading. I may stumble again upon that original website, and perhaps I will also find out who the author was. I'm sure she was born in the 1800s. Maybe early 1900s. And I'm thinking she moved to England from Australia, but it's been a long time and my memory is fuzzy.