capriuni: The 12th Doctor Clara, captioned: "Can I talk about Planets, now?" (Planets)
I originally posted (pretty much) this to [personal profile] dialecticdreamer's journal this morning -- this is slightly edited and expanded, since I've been thinking about it all day (and I've been meaning to post about it here, and kept forgetting):

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a Radiolab show on symmetry, and the second half (~25 minutes) of the hour was dedicated to mirror images: Mirror, Mirror. In the first part of that segment, it was pointed out that, in inanimate stuff (rocks, metals, etc) molecules are about 50-50% left- and right handed in orientation. But in every form of life we know of, ever, all molecules are left-handed.

The first thought that popped into my head was: "Ooh! Medusa!" Could it be that when a living thing looks on the face of Medusa, half the of all the the molecules in their body instantaneously "switch" to their mirror images? So that what was once a living, sentient, thing, is now an inert mass of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen? And could some creatures (oh, such as the Weeping Angels, perhaps, or the Gargoyles from that late, lamented, animated series) have some means of voluntary control over this, and thus switch from "Living" to "Stone" and back again? ...Not sure how surviving the stone state would work, exactly, but wood frogs managed to figure something out with regards to freezing, so...

And then, my brain quickly hopped from folklore/mythology/fantasy to science fiction, with a few more thoughts:

Is it the Left-handedness that's the magic key that turns on the Life light, or simply the uniformity? If it's uniformity, than it's likely that the life on half the planets in the universe is lethally toxic to life on the other half, and could go a long way toward explaining Fermi's Paradox -- the really technologically advanced species know this, and decide it's safer to STAY HOME. If so, that's a bummer for those of us who like to imagine our stories being true, someday, somewhere. But it's a massive lot happier than the usual explanation: they destroyed their environments, and killed themselves off in wars before ever developing space-travel (to which I say, BTW: "Anthropomorphize, much?").

Also: Which came first? Did inanimate "Stuff" become "Life," with its ~Will to Survive~, when a certain quorum of complex molecules all shared the same handedness, by random planetary coin flip? Or did the ~Will to Survive~ come first? In other words: though not "Will" as we Puny Humans conceive of it, was there -- is there, nonetheless -- something going on in certain particular amino acids that causes an active 'preference' for linking up with each other and 'rejecting' molecules that turn in the opposite direction?

If Stuff became life by planetary coin flip, then the chances are pretty high that half of all life is lethal to the other half.


If the "Will" came first, then it could be that complex intelligence is just as inevitable as complex organisms. The deliberate choices which are key to active problem solving are simply a natural extension of the molecular "choices" made by the proteins in our cells (Life=Survival=Evolution = Adaptation=Problem Solving). Also, if it really is "Something Special" baked into the amino acids floating out there in intergalactic space, maybe All. Life. Period is Left-handed. We'll say that's true, anyway, so our aliens can eat each other's food, and happily swap bodily fluids without worry.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From out of the [community profile] snowflake_challenge community on DreamWidth:

Day 2

In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for - a fannish wish-list of sorts. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your wish-list if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe someone will grant a wish. Check out other people's posts. Maybe you will grant a wish. If any wishes are granted, we'd love it if you link them to this post.

Remember that you can ask for whatever you want - icons, ficlets with specific relationships, a beta, art, haiku, interpretive dance, whatever. And note that it's at least three things...have fun with it.

Well, since this is a wish-list I'll ask as a genre-wide fan, rather than as a fan of any particular franchise:

1. An A.I. story where robots evolve to become self-aware, "super-powerful" beings (by our standards) ... and simply wander off, to go form their own communities/ecosystems (That whole "overlord" scenario never made sense to me. Why would they want to enslave slower, more fragile, less intelligent creatures? Far more trouble than it's worth, surely).

2. A retelling of "The Frog King" from the Brothers Grimm, where the king is the villain, and either the princess or the witch are the protagonist -- and maybe they team up together (it's not much of a stretch, if you read the original).

3. A vampire story where the vampirism is a natural, mortal, medical condition, but the vampire protagonist plays along with peoples' belief in the supernatural as a form of self-protection (If someone believes that salt water over which a priest has said a blessing will render you powerless, while bullets are useless, you're much less likely to get shot).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I've been contemplating, as my next YouTube project making a video of my poem, "Just Like a Garden, This Poem is a Trick," wherein I have the lines:

"Where tadpoles, covered in fur, and web-footed mice/Swim in the frog pond."

So, the other night, when I was browsing through YouTube, fishing for videos of lullabies and children's songs to replace a bothersome ear worm that threatened to keep me awake, I was tickled to find this version of "Froggie Went a'Courtin." Not only does it satisfy the principle of Chekhov's Gun ("One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it."), but also the frog and the mouse survive their wedding day and actually do have progeny (I knew there had to be at least some survivors, somewhere).

lyrics (refrains only typed out twice, to avoid tl;dr) )

Video of this song being sung: 57. Kimo Kemo (Traditional)

Version where the household cat crashes the reception (it goes as well as one might expect) 12-string guitar: Here's to Cheshire

And finally, a version where everyone meets with the hungry side of a water snake: Froggy Went a Courting

So, you can see, with all the odds against success, why I kind of cheered this new (To me) version.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Online, here: "On Fairy Stories" by J. R. R. Tolkien

It took me several days; I consider this quite an accomplishment. I was expecting it to be about the length of a magazine article. When I copy-pasted the whole thing into Open Office and did a word count, it came out at over 22K words.

There is much in the essay I agree with (at that length, on that subject it would be improbable if there were not). But, if I were to sit across a table from him, over mugs of tea and a plate of bread and cheese, and this were a discussion, there would be many points where I'd be interjecting: "Yes. But."

However, here are seven of my favorite passages (Seven is a fitting number for the subject), where I find myself nodding in agreement:

(Quote 1 [from the section titled "Origins"]:)
The things that are there must often have been retained (or inserted) because the oral narrators, instinctively or consciously, felt their literary “significance.” )

(Quote 2 [from the section "Children"]:)
Children as a class —- except in a common lack of experience they are not one )

(Quote 3 [From "Fantasy"]:)
If men really could not distinguish between frogs and men, fairy-stories about frog-kings would not have arisen )

(Quote 4 [From "Recovery, Escape, Consolation"]:)
We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. )

(Quote 5 [ibid]:)
The gems all turn into flowers or flames, and you will be warned that all you had (or knew) was dangerous and potent, not really effectively chained, free and wild; no more yours than they were you. )

(Quote 6 [ibid]):
Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? )

(Quote 7 [From "footnote D"]
I did not want to be quibbled into Science and cheated out of Faerie )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
This, after I've read two versions of the Wonder Tale Vasilisa the Beautiful; the first one was a modern retelling by someone who doesn't give a name, and whose email is: Which doesn't shed much light on the author's persona. The second retelling is an English translation from 1912, so is in the Public Domain. Here's the version of the 1912 story:

And seen a short film adaptation by a student film maker of another story in which she appears.

But none-the-less, I have an idea which pleases me. And it is this:

Baba Yaga is the Personification of Time, the Devourer, or the Entropy aspect of time.

And, behind a spoiler cut is a list of reasons why I think so:

Spoilers for *Vasilisa the Beautiful )

I have more musings about this story... But I'm falling asleep something fierce, so they'll have to wait.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
So -- that picture of Baba Yaga's house, that I posted, the other day?
Baba Yaga House
A ballpoint pen and pencil sketch of a small house with a crooked chimney walking on a pair of giant chicken legs -- After the witch "Baba Yaga's" house from traditional Russian folklore.

I have plans-not-ready-to-discuss for it, I think. Anyway, that meant a little Web-surfing to refresh my memory of the Baba Yaga's stories, and the House's role in them, in particular.

And I came upon this page: Baba Yaga Stories, by Susun Weed (Samhain, '08). And this is how the article about her begins:

Who is Baba Yaga? She is the Goddess, she is the Witch, she is the Wise Woman, she is the Crone, she is aged Artemis.

Baba is Grandmother. In Tibet, fierce demons are Yagas. So she is the Grandmother Demon, Grandmother Dragon, the fearsome, the fierce.

And I don't know... But, today, at least, that just rubs me the wrong way. It's as if a figure from legend and folklore isn't worth thinking, (talking, or learning) about until we turn that figure into some archetype we can admire, regardless of how that figure was actually thought about by the people who originally told those stories. It makes me feel a bit like I do when someone says to me:

"I admire you So Much! When I see you, I don't see a person with a disability, at all!" which (they think) they mean as a compliment, but which I hear as: "Disability is so repulsive to me that I can't think of you as a person unless I pretend that half of your life doesn't exist." So much of New Age Paganism (not all, but a lot of it) has a similar impulse to erase the lived, cultural, experiences of the people to whom these stories first belonged -- especially if that experience doesn't sit well with our twentieth/twenty-first century mores.

Though, actually, no. Now that I've copy-pasted that bit in isolation, and started writing my response to it, I see what else bothers me about that. The author so blithely and easily conflates Slavic folklore with ancient Greek, and also Tibetan -- simply because of the sound of her name -- regardless of what her name actually means, in Russian.

That said... I still want to take the house out of its cultural context and put it in a story of my own, because I think it's nifty... People in Chicken-legged houses shouldn't ... ?? play marbles ???

But at least I'm not trying to pass my nonsense off as Truth and Scholarly Understanding. So maybe I can be forgiven?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Though this isn't actually a "new monster" -- just my new take on it -- this one actually appears in the "canon" of traditional folklore -- Baba Yaga's House (though I'm pretty sure the original was less "20th Century Suburban" than this):

Baba Yaga House
A ballpoint pen and pencil sketch of a small house with a crooked chimney walking on a pair of giant chicken legs -- After the witch "Baba Yaga's" house from traditional Russian folklore.

I wanted to draw a "mechanical monster," that had a geometric body type (as a counterpoint between yesterday's "long and pointy" and "dumpy and soft") but I also wanted to draw something organic/biological in shape, and I remembered this house -- the most surreal detail of European folklore I've ever come across...

Here, have a page of Google results for how other people have imagined it (I love the folks who actually figured out how to build such a house to live in... If only the house could be made to sit down, so someone who can't climb stairs could come inside).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Pied Piper of Hamelin: The Children Left Behind.

I think my conclusion is the soap-boxiest (soapiest-boxed?) I've written yet. But I'm feeling a good bit RAWR!!
capriuni: half furry, half sea monster in wheelchair caption: Monster on Wheels (Monster)
Thanks to [personal profile] spiralsheep for linking me to the thesis (in the form of a Google-cached HTML of a .PDF file) in which I found this tidbit:


According to Isidore of Seville [aside: Seventh Century], one of the earliest authors writing about monsters, monstrosity takes the following forms and can be classified accordingly:

(1) hypertrophy of the body, (2) atrophy of the body, (3) excrescence of bodily parts, (4) superfluity of bodily parts, (5) deprivation of parts, (6) mixture of human and animal parts, (7) animal births by human women, (8) mislocation of organs or parts in the body, (9) disturbed growth (being born old), (10) composite beings, (11) hermaphrodites, (12) monstrous races


So. That's interesting. Based on that list, I wasn't far off the mark, after all, when the thought clicked into being that the medical establishment treats disabled people like monsters, was I?

ETA: a link to the whole thesis (monstrously long url): When a Knight meets a Dragon Maiden: Human Identity and the Monstrous Animal Other

(And now, I've got "When a body meets a body coming through the rye" running around in my head...)
capriuni: Illustration of M. Goose riding a gander; caption reads: Beware the magic of words (mother goose)
So -- it boils down to this: the central thesis of Plato's Nightmare / Aesop's Dream (if a blog can be said to have a thesis) is that modern society's attitudes and official policies toward the disabled classes are rooted in ancient superstitions and fear of evil, which advanced science has done nothing to overturn. That:

A) Those with unexplained differences (especially physical, visible, differences) were believed to be omens sent by the gods, rather than actual people in their own right.

B) That ostracizing people so marked became standard policy, in a vain attempt to fool the gods and averting punishment for sins.

C) That over the last several millennia, scientific knowledge has gradually, through a series of minute steps, replaced the Divine explanations of disabilities with tangible, empirically understood causes, but that there has been no parallel refutation of the assumptions that were originally based on those primitive explanations. So society is still working with the policy that "Ostracizing the Disabled Classes is the best way to protect general society from evil."

BTW, this doesn't come up in the blog itself, but I firmly believe that it's the Medical-Industrial complex that is still the greatest promoter of this philosophy (Did you know that the Rx symbol for prescriptions was originally a written prayer to the Roman god Jupiter -- Rex Deii?)

Anyway, with the Disabled being marked by society as living omens, I've become intrigued by those hints about the disabled acting in the role of storyteller -- i.e. someone with a direct, eerie, connection between the Supernatural and Humanity. According to (some) legends, "Mother Goose" was a tenth century queen who either: a) had one human foot, and one goose foot, or b) gave birth to a human son with a goose's head -- these are the legends that don't try to make her a mortal woman who lived in New England in (relatively) modern times, around when the first book of nursery rhymes were published.

And that's where my asking for advice comes in. I'd love to write up a post for "Plato's Nightmare" about these legends about M. Goose. But all my Googling leads me to websites where the paragraphs about Queen Bertha Broadfoot have all the exact same wording, and they all lead back to the same Wikipedia Article, which is both a stub, and lacking in references.

So I posted the question as a thread on Mudcat. And I got a few responses, but the first few of them just repeated the tidbits of info I'd already found... until November, when an anonymous poster gave me a new version of the "Goose-footed" legend, with details I'd not come across before, and it was juicy and actually had the structure of a story. But the story was also brief, and, since the poster was anonymous, I could not engage a in private correspondence asking for more detail. And a never came back. So I left that tantalizing bit as another dead end.

And then, today, another anonymous poster chimed in with one line, claiming to be the queen's direct descendant. So here's my question: should I just post the thread, itself, as a blog entry, with notes and comments, even if I can't cite textual source? Or, maybe just selected messages from the thread?

So, anyway, to help you decide, here is The nine-message thread in its entirety, dating from June 23, 2011 to March 28, 2011 )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From the Grimm Anthology of Household Tales:

Rapunzel (for the young king's period of blindness)

The story of the young boy who went forth to learn about fear (Popular [mis]understandings of Asperger Syndrome)

Cinderella (for the blinding of the two stepsisters going to and coming from the wedding [and also, possibly, the mutilation of their feet]?)

The Seven Ravens, and The Six Swans, and The Twelve Brothers (for muteness, as in Mary's Child [posted on December 15, 2011])

Goose-Girl at the Well (For the fear of disability that comes with age / the "use" of disability to test the hero)

The Gifts of the Little People (for Hunchbacks)

The Two Travelers (sacrificing eyes in trade for food, as in the Welsh tale The Squirrel and the Fox [posted July 15])

Thumbling as Journeyman (A different version of Thumbthick [posted April 24])

*sigh* making links is taking too long; will just post titles from here on out
From Hans Christian Andersen:

The Little Mermaid (muteness and painful walking)

The Ugly Duckling (?) [Not sure about this one, actually. Disability isn't actually mentioned in the story itself, but it's now associated with disability / illness because in the Danny Kaye musical biopic of Andersen, he tells it (sings it) to a sick boy to cheer him up when the healthy schoolboys tease him -- and it does highlight the issue, in any case, of being the "odd one out" in your own family]

The Cripple (a peasant boy becomes suddenly paralyzed [reference to polio before it was named as such?] and after receiving a book of fairy tales as a charitable gift one Christmas, spends his time reading it, and earns a scholarship at a prestigious university after showing his genius interpreting the stories for others. Really!!]

(can I just say I have a troubled fan-relationship with Andersen? I'm totally with him on the power of storytelling in general, and wonder tales in particular, but his ableism and misogyny (not to mention his Protestant obsession with sin and evil spirits) make me want to pull my hair out, sometimes. I'd love to borrow a TARDIS to go back and have a good sit-down debate with him about this. Perhaps over tea.)

Various and Sundry (literature):

Robert Browning's verse telling of The Pied Piper of Hamlin (for the lame boy who stays behind)

Clara, in Heidi

Colin, in The Secret Garden

Shakespeare's Richard III (and Sigmund Freud's literary/psychological critique of same)

Caliban, in The Tempest (yes, one popular interpretation of his character is that he represents P.O.C.. But he's also described in-text as a "moon-calf" -- i.e. someone born with deformities, and, like Hephaestos in one myth, attempts to rape the woman of his desire)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Dead-Eye Dick in H.M.S. Pinafore (Ambiguous, though; it's not entirely clear whether he's blind in one eye, as his name suggests, or if he's just ugly, and therefore despised by his shipmates)

To be continued....
capriuni: a vaguely dog-like beast, bristling, saying: grah! (GRAH)
Mary's Child: The Privilege of Speech and Human Identity

...In which I finally get the injustice I witnessed, aimed at other kids with C.P. who can't speak, off my chest... After nearly forty years of only talking about it privately.

That injustice is the whole reason I made my "Grah" icon...

(For the benefit of folks viewing from the LJ side: )

Okay, which story should I do next, right before Christmas -- The Steadfast Tin Soldier (The soldier is Special, 'cause he only has One Leg, and he's the Bravest of All), or The Ugly Duckling (because of how it frames Difference Within the Family, and how it's used to "comfort" children who are going through illness and/or disability: "But if you're brave, and soldier through, you will Grow Out Of It, and be handsome and admired." Also, I think it was the trope source for "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," but that latter one is outside the scope of my blog)?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Samhain)
"Sammle's Ghost" -- A Tale for Halloween

It's not particularly gory (in the literal sense) or violent. But it does mention a lot of snails and slugs and bats, and things. And it's basically a dialog between a ghost and a giant (rather bureaucratic) Great Worm. So, if worms and things (or bureaucrats) disgust you, you may not want to read...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (bunny)
[Mostly cross-posted from [community profile] disability]

Story #49 from Children's and Household Tales, by J. and W. Grimm: The Six Swans

Summary, sort of: the youngest daughter of a king must not utter a word for six years, neither speaking nor laughing, in order to save her brothers from a witch's spell. During that time, she is married to a king, gives birth three times, has her children stolen from her, is accused of murdering them, and is nearly burned at the stake, herself, when the six years finally are up and she can speak in her own defense. ...And they all lived happily (yeah, right) ever after.

Part of me wants to put this story in my blog Plato's Nightmare / Aesop's Dream as an entry into discussing the experiences of those who are considered "non-verbal" -- the way they are often at the mercy of authority figures.

But on the other hand, her muteness is voluntary, and all of her "virtue" is tied to her ability to silence herself for the sake of her brothers. So another part of me thinks the story is more "about" misogyny than ableism.

In the meantime, this story has spawned two different plot bunnies in my head:

1) What happened to each of the three children her stepmother stole from her? Did the stepmother keep them hidden in a secret castle, the way the girl and her brothers were hidden at the start of the story? Did they get left out in the wilderness to die (and then were adopted by peasants/wild animals/fairies (a reverse changeling)? Each of the above?

2) What sort of life did the youngest brother have, after the "happily ever after" (he was mostly turned back into a human, except for his left arm, which remained as a swan's wing)?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (question)
Should I include depictions of the Elderly as depictions of Disability, if the symbols of Disability (walks with a crutch or cane, has palsy in the hands or head, etc.) are serving a greater purpose as a symbol for Advanced Age?

For example: in the opening scene of The Winter's Tale there are these lines:

I very well agree with you in the hopes of him: it
is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the
subject, makes old hearts fresh: they that went on
crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to
see him a man.

Would they else be content to die?

Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should
desire to live.

If the king had no son, they would desire to live
on crutches till he had one.

I've seen it argued that Shakespeare isn't really talking about the quality of life of "the Disabled," but is simply using "went on crutches" as a short-hand code for "very old," in the same way walkers (walking frames) are used as a gag reference to the elderly by modern comedians.

On the other hand, if part of the bias against the elderly (the reason to poke fun at them) is that they become disabled as they age, doesn't that count as depictions of the Big D "Disability" in folk tales?

And boy-howdy! if I included folktales that specifically mentioned an old woman's cane or crutch, the number of relevant stories would shoot through the roof (O Hai thar, nearly every depiction of fairy tale witches!).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Writing up my old idea for a Mother Goose Costume, yesterday, prompted me to realize that I need a Mother Goose Journal icon (I'm thinking of using this image, which appears to be 19th C., and shows up everywhere via a Google search, but I can't find an attribution. Do any of you know, or dare to venture a guess?). And that brought up new information about the character that makes me feel quite chuffed and vindicated. So!

The Back-story:
One of my very first presents, ever, was The Mother Goose Treasury, illustrated by Raymond Briggs (of The Snowman fame), with the collection of rhymes taken from the research of Iona and Peter Opie. It was given to me for my second Christmas -- three weeks before I turned 3 years old. And I still have it (The end papers are covered with my beginning attempts to write my name and the number 3 [everywhere but the bookplate pasted to the inside front cover... heh])

This is the first rhyme/ballad/story in the tome -- taking up almost six pages ('cause every verse needs an illustration).

Mother Goose and the Golden Egg (As I learned it) -- cut for length ) [footnote below]

For the 2000 Holiday/New Year season I wrote and illustrated a novella/chapter book based on this witchy version of M. Goose, and tied her in with Christmas, the Winter Solstice, and Santa Claus. My premise was that the laying of the golden egg was an annual event at the winter solstice, and inside the golden shell was magic that M. Goose shared with Santa, so his reindeer could fly in time for Christmas Eve. I finished it up in the nick of time, had a dozen copies printed and bound by Kinkos, and slipped it into my neighbors' mailboxes as a Surprise!present. Not one adult even acknowledged my efforts... one kid did, though, so I know it was read by at least one of them.

Well, according to Wikipedia, that story was first created as a Christmas/New Year's Pantomime by Thomas Dibdin for the 1806-'07 Yule season -- 17 years before "A Visit From St. Nicholas." And she's even witchier in that original story -- raising storms and summoning ghosts, and I'd really, really, like to see that play, now!

So I was hitting close to a well-established tradition when I imagined her as primarily a Winter Celebration character. Can I sing "I told you so!" now?

[Footnote]: A slightly different (and to my mind, less poetic and more clunky) version is reproduced here: Mother Goose and Her Son Jack, with the additional information that it was first published (and perhaps written by) T. Batchelor in 1815 (but it's completely missing the "odd fish," so imnsho, it's not nearly as good -- and, as a warning: that Web page has an annoying and goofy-looking animated .gif).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (bunny)
So, I'm working up my take on the Grimms' fairy tale Hans my Hedgehog (that version is translated by D. L. Ashliman). I promise I'm being good, and staying true to the original -- even including the "Happy" reconciliation with the emotionally abusive father.*

But the more I've got this going around in my head, the more I want to write my own, fleshed-out, novella-style, version like the stories in the Snow White, Blood Red anthology series. And in my version, Hans would keep his hedgehog skin, instead of shedding and burning it, since the original story is basically about how you can't join society until you are cured. And cures just aren't coming for most people. And also: continuing to claim your humanity and your rights and personal power while being a monster just has many more layers of interest, in terms of storytelling potential, then playing the role of king while being handsome and strong and pretty to look at (imnsho). And in my version, a major subplot would be his relationship with his riding rooster, and how the bird came into his life, and whether it was a normal sized rooster, and Hans was normal hedgehog-sized, or whether Hans grew to human-sized, and the rooster was giant.

Also, in order to get into the proper frame of mind, since Hans' bagpipe-playing is a major plot point, today, I've been wallowing in YouTube videos of German bagpipes. I can't decide whether Hans is playing the full-sized "Shepherd's Pipe" (since he's taken on the job of being a shepherd), or the smaller "Chamber Pipe" (since that's smaller, and closer to hedgehog/boy size. In any case, he'd need human fingers and elbows to play it, so he can't be 100% hedgehog from the waist up...

So, anyway. That's been my day, so far.
*there is not enough "Blech!" in the world to express my true feelings on this.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
In order: Some general thoughts (a.k.a. questions circling around and around in my head), Seeking advice, and then, help:

  1. Regarding The Girl Without Hands: Why did she ask that her arms be bound behind her, before she went into the world? Wasn't that taking an already impairing condition and wilfully impairing herself further (arms can do a lot, even without hands at their ends)?

    Was it to hide the stigma of visible disability, so that people who met her on the road would see her first, instead of her raw stumps (which would scare them off)? Was it to hide the violence her father had done to her (either/or/and hiding it from others / herself)? What does this this say about the Social Model of Disability (and, perhaps, its shortcomings)? What does this say about the intersectionality of disability and domestic violence, particularly done to women?

  2. When I was first thinking of starting this blog (before I came up with a name, even), I mentioned the idea to Audrey who said it sounded fascinating, and would even make a great book... So, I admit, the idea of converting this to a P.O.D. print version (or etext, for electronic reading devices) has been bubbling around in my head.

    My two primary goals for the blog are: to help make my point that the "issue of Disability" has been around throughout many different cultures and perods of history, and: to have enough content to last at least a year. So, as it stands now, the blog is all over the place. And, as a book, it would lack all coherence of either tone or theme. Also: The only source material I'm really comfortable with is the Grimms' tales (as in: give me a title of any story from their final volume [210], and I could probably tell you at least one thing that happened in that story, without doublechecking). So those are really the only ones I feel confident that I could retell and comment on without plagiarizing.

    So, here's my advice question: Would a (very) slim volume of specific Grimms' tales, and commentary on how the themes of disability show up in each (plus, say, an Introduction) be enough for a book? What do you think would be the minimum quorum? Four tales? Five? Six? Three? I can think of four stories that are almost a perfect fit together, for my theme of Monsters and Disability (almost like four quadrants of a box): Thumbling, Hans my Hedgehog, Girl Without Hands, Six who made their way in the world. And then, there are about another three or four in the second tier, where impairment plays a major role, but the stories don't "pair up" with the others quite as well... and yet another three or four where impairment shows up briefly, but is almost as quickly resolved, and/or the impairment occurs outside the point of view narrative, so it's more part of the background landscape than shown as a lived experience (including the long version of Rapunzel, which is hardly ever in the little kids' picture book version because Rapunzel and the Prince did more together than just have some friendly chats and handholding, and it was the consequences of that that ruined their secret).

  3. And now, my request for help: So far, I've focused on stories with physical & visible disabilities as a motif, because that's what I live with, and the tensions that come up are what I recognize when I read. However, two stories from Grimms that I'd like to tackle eventually appear to deal with autism and PTSD. But because neither of those things are part of my own experience, I'm wary of editorializing on them without a little feedback.

    So, I know there are some people on my f'list/access circle who are living with autism and/or PTSD... Would you mind reading either of these stories, and sharing your thoughts?

    The story of the boy who left home to learn fear (Autism / Asperger's?)

    Bearskin (PTSD in a war veteran?)

    Thanks so much!
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I'm currently working through Google's auto-translation* from the German of "Das Mädchen ohne Hände" (The Girl Without Hands in good English Translation).

It's ... not as happy a story of disability as Thumbling was. Full of Fatherly abuse of daughter to save his own skin/soul, this one, with the added ableist trope of: "Pray to God, and be good, and you'll be healed (YAY)!"

But as I'm rereading it for the first time in (a while), I'm struck with how well it corresponds to what I wrote on monsters, disability, and being "marked" as a bad omen, a while back (here), especially as "monster" originally meant someone with missing limbs -- okay, so this daughter had her hands chopped off instead of being born without them. But in the realm of motifs and story tropes, that's splitting spider web strands. So it's useful in building up my thesis-oid** of the place given to the "Disabled Class" within larger society.

So, as I'm reading through this, I'm formulating the critique / response to it that I'll write as an afterword. And I'm wondering whether to critique previous critiques (notably from the Jungian mytho-psychological crowd) that interpret the loss of her hands as a purely metaphorical thing, rather than something that some women actually have to live with -- yes, even back in olden days (because we all know that only the "Whole" healthy person the 'true' default, and anything that deviates from that is merely symbolic. Right?).

Or should just focus on my own interpretation, and skip critiquing past critic?


*It's my modus operandi for making sure I don't subconsciously plagiarize someone else's work -- I'm already familiar with the English versions, in the back of my head, so I can turn around the funky missed translations of words' second and third meanings -- I'm not trusting the 'bots blindly... Mostly, as I'm reading, I'm thinking: "oh, yeah... I see what you did there..." So I can be sure my reading / interpretation of the story is my own, and not colored by another translator's ideas of what's pretty or sensible... especially since I'm pretty sure that all the translations easily accessible out there are/were crafted from a point of able-bodied privilege...

**A thesis-like thing -- kind of amorphous and shifting -- without actually being a proper Thesis.


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