We Have Come To the End of Dreaming

The Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone c.1880-1, cast 1950 by Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

Recently, in a group I belong to, a lot of younger friends were talking about how adult life is drudgery and work and a lot of being kicked in the teeth again and again, before arriving to the end, broken and with nothing to show for it.

I won’t say they are wrong. I will just say they’re not right.

Dr. Peterson says that human life is tragic, and he’s right too. But he also gives instruction on how to live a life that lets you die in peace, with the certainty you have accomplished something.

A lot of human philosophies are about that. And you, know I have a friend who is an hospice care nurse, and she will absolutely tell you that there are hard deaths and “good deaths” for people of all religious persuasions and none. There is a way to live your life, not with no regrets, but knowing that you did the best you could, you tried the best you could, and you can now face eternity or nothing with a clear conscience.

What I do know is that it’s not “Those who die with the most toys win.” I know this because some of the most quickly-forgotten, reviled people I know were very wealthy. They were also impossible to live with.  Note the two are not necessarily the same. The rich man who can’t pass through the eye of the needle is his own breed, not just correlated to wealth as such.

Those who live only to accumulate power? That also doesn’t seem, in the end, to bring the kind of serene certainty you did what you could that you might describe as a good death.
I’ve always thought of those who scramble for power as scared people. They want power to control others, because they’re terrified of others, and therefore must be able to tell others how to live.  Dictator or family terror, these people usually die just as scared as they lived.

For years now, this has been the pattern I try to fit myself to, particularly because I’m TRULY unsuited to it. The neurotic personally of the writer doesn’t want to do anything QUIETLY. I want to rage, scream, and kick things like a Shakespearean villain (and some heroes.)

 

“For three thousand years architects designed buildings with columns shaped as female figures. At last Rodin pointed out that this was work too heavy for a girl. He didn’t say, ‘Look, you jerks, if you must do this, make it a brawny male figure.’ No, he showed it. This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She’s a good girl-look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods…and still trying to shoulder her load, after she’s crumpled under it.

“But she’s more than good art denouncing bad art; she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude, until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage, […] and victory.”

“‘Victory’?”

“Victory in defeat; there is none higher. She didn’t give up[…]; she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. She’s a father working while cancer eats away his insides, to bring home one more pay check. She’s a twelve-year old trying to mother her brothers and sisters because Mama had to go to Heaven. She’s a switchboard operator sticking to her post while smoke chokes her and fire cuts off her escape. She’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit.

—Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein (1961)

There is a danger in it too, mind you.  It is possible to become enamored of the thought of self-sacrifice and distort oneself while enabling others to be useless and never grow up.  This is a particular risk for us mothers, particularly those of us who literally love our kids more than ourselves. (Look, not all do, but some of us are broken that way.)

When I was in high school the first sentence I wrote in every notebook was “The important thing is not to be happy. It’s to be good for something.”  While there could be worse mottoes, my psychologist friends cringe when they hear that, and they’re not wrong.

So, what’s a good life?  I don’t know.  It’s probably different for everyone around, and each of us has different temptations to stray from it.  Look at what Heinlein said: those are good lives, well lived, even if you never heard those people’s name, and they’re buried in a pauper’s grave. OTOH there are probably people who think they’re doing that, while infantilizing their families and taking the brunt off life for people who can and should face it alone.

We all start out with dreams.  Big dreams, if we’re worth anything.  And it’s easy to dream really big when you know nothing about the world.  Particularly if you know you’re brighter than the average bear, and stronger too, and are willing to undergo work to get where you want to be.

Me? My first book was going to astound the world. I was that good.

Was I that good? Who the heck knows.  You can’t judge your own writing, anymore than you can judge your own beauty.  But I’ve read a lot of bestsellers (not all. Some do things I can’t figure out how to do. I’m working on it, damn it) who don’t write as well as I do. So, my assessment wasn’t all wrong. BUT — but — things only work out perfectly, ever, in dreams.  In reality I had to sell what the editors were willing to buy (and my first trilogy, while competent and — I THINK — decent of its kind, wasn’t even in the genre I like to write. (I can write just about anything, though.)) and it came out with the cover they chose, and the push they chose and the time couldn’t be more disastrous unless it had come out the day all books in the world caught fire simultaneously (which hasn’t happened, obviously.)

As a result my career has been — yes — a bunch of kicks in the teeth. But between them, there have been moments of shining pleasure and beauty. Usually not when the awards come or the book “sells better than expected” (Pfui) but when I create it and see that it’s good (of its kind and for what I wanted to do.)

My writing will be forgotten ten minutes after I’m dead, probably, but I’m doing it as well as I can, and I’m NOT QUITTING.  It will never be a shining thing of immortal beauty, because that only happens in dreams.

In reality the actions and decisions of others get a say.  And yes, life is often unfair and horrible. So far I’ve been blessed with a much beloved husband who loves me too. (No, he’s not the redheaded astronaut I fantasized about as a young teen. You know what? NOT sorry at all for that.)  I’ve been blessed with two sons who are good people, and probably both more grown up and sane than I am by now.  And I haven’t lost any of the three of them, and I’ve never gone naked or so hungry I couldn’t bear it. AND because my husband loves me, I get to work at what I want to, to which success is secondary.

But in a chaotic system there’s no such thing as “fair.”

I was lucky in another way, now I think about it. At 33 I spent 11 days in ICU with pneumonia. All the doctors told me I was going to die.

It clarifies the mind enormously.

I wasn’t sorry I’d die poor-ish or that I’d never won awards, or that I’d never got the accolades of the writing world (I wasn’t even published, though I’d sold a short story, and the magazine went under.)

Two things bothered me: I’d be leaving my husband in a difficult position, with two very young children to raise (4 and 1.)  And I’d never written even one book in the multi-connected world I’d dreamed about since I was a little kid. I had several novels written in my head, that I’d never share with anyone.

Those two things were what ate at me.  And it will tell you something about traditional publishing and compromises that I’m only now starting to write in that universe, now that I’m indie:  Schrodinger worlds. I will probably have to have a diagram on my writer page, because even “date” unless it’s “Earth date” is a matter of opinion in that one.  The one thing I know is that I might die with only some books out, but I can’t face dying with none of them out.

What else is important to me? Making sure my kids are “flying free.”  I.e. that they have the tools needed, and are working at something they love and preferably married to someone who is right for them. (One down, one to go. Yes, real marriage is also difficult and often you struggle with it, but the good ones make you better than you’d be on your own. They will literally make you a better person, and more capable of achieving whatever it is you need to achieve. I think older son has that. I know I do.)

That was actually what clarified it for me. Because I love my sons very much, what I wish for them is the best and that is: Satisfying work one feels is important; a life-partner whom one loves and who strives with us and themselves to make both better; children if possible, because love grows and because humanity must go on; the courage to accept one’s own limitations and live past the times when death kicks you in the teeth again and again.

In Heyer’s book A Civil Contract, she has the main character, after breaking (of necessity) with his fiance and agreeing to marry a rich woman (actually long after that, when the first fiance marries someone else) thinking “He had come to the end of dreaming.”

But by then it is clear to the reader that the lost fiance was the worst possible match for him, and that this dream in his head is a fantasy. He’d have been miserable with her.  While the wife he’s forced to marry makes him happy (and BETTER) in ways he could not have dreamed of.

Yes, it’s a romance, and Heyer is not “realistic about the relationships between men and women” say the intellectual midgets. But she IS realistic about life.

Sometimes the most worthy things are done only when you come to the end of dreaming.  It feels like your guts are ripped out whole, but it is what’s known as “adulthood.”

And at that point, knowing you’re too weak for that damn stone the builders expect you to lift, and that it will inevitably crush you, if you try to lift it ANYWAY, you will win, even as it crushes you.

she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude, until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage, […] and victory.”

“‘Victory’?”

“Victory in defeat; there is none higher. She didn’t give up[…]; she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. – Robert A. Heinlein.

Go and lift. Go do the most worthy thing you can conceive of, no matter how hard.

And you’ll win. Even if you lose.

 

 

136 thoughts on “We Have Come To the End of Dreaming

  1. I remember when I was a kid, dreaming that I was going to win Olympic medals in both gymnastics and swimming. Never mind that I was about as flexible as your average crowbar and wasn’t even competitive in the little summer swim league; I was going to do it anyway.

    Later, in high school, I was going to be the first sci-fi writer to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Never mind that those prizes inevitably went to someone writing boring books about Eskimos being raped on melting ice flows or something; my book was going to be so brilliant that the literaty couldn’t ignore it without bringing disgrace on themselves.

    At this point, of course, I look back on my earlier dreams and realize that not only did they have no chance of coming true, I wouldn’t have wanted them to anyway. The Olympics are an unholy mess, and the sort of people who give out literary awards are not the sort worth impressing. But I still have dreams, and I’m going to keep chasing them. Hopefully, I’ve gotten a little better at dreaming appropriately.

      1. I think taking the million and keeping quiet about it might be the more financially-prudent course of action. Just make sure not to mention it in your bio or on your covers.

    1. Oh, G*d always answers prayers. Sometimes the answer is ‘No,’ or ‘Not yet.’ His purposes are far higher, or deeper, than we can perceive, and faith allows us the serenity to accept that whatever His answer to us may be He is working all things out.

  2. This may be the best blog you have ever written, or at least the one I most needed to read. RAH was fascinated with Rodan’s piece, he mentions it in more than one work. I had never looked it up to see a picture, but my mind’s eye had a picture much like the real work, he described it so well.
    I’m going through some very rough times right now, with my youngest, he is now estranged, and not speaking to us.
    I’m going through some difficulties at the Full-time gig (writing is, for me, a side hustle until I retire) Having to let a guy that’s worked for me for a year and a half go, and there are recriminations, and charges of harassment and abuse, (all of the people that work on the team have filed “statements of Fact” that tell a very different story from that told by the alleged “victim”)
    Of course, this makes everyone else including me work harder, while we pick up the slack from the departed party.
    All of this brings one’s life into question. On the other hand, I’ve designed programs that are used at literally every Naval Repair facility, I just got word Thursday that Pearl Harbor adopted a training program I built… I have a daughter with three daughters and a loving husband, who is getting her degree in social work with a specialty in Veterans… Items that this article forced me in honesty to consider.
    Thank you.

    1. “…On the other hand, I’ve designed programs that are used at literally every Naval Repair facility, I just got word Thursday that Pearl Harbor adopted a training program I built… I have a daughter with three daughters and a loving husband, who is getting her degree in social work with a specialty in Veterans… ”

      Then you have done your duty, and done it well. Which is all that mortal man can hope to achieve.

    1. Having had a sufficient to excessive number of people express the opinion that I was “good for nothing”, with accompanying evidence, I must vigorously protest the application of that label to anyone,

      1. And I was attempting a joke.

        Here’s another.

        “I don’t have to be paid to be good, I’m good for nothing”. 😉

        1. Is that like the self-educated jester? With a lot of time and effort, he made a fool of himself!

          But an unemployed jester is nobody’s fool.

          1. And those come from a song composed for “The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye which has some of the best physical humor and puns I’ve ever seen or heard.

            1. You rang?

              The fullest display of Kaye’s talents on film, this 1955 movie amazingly bombed o first release. Time has enhanced its popularity.

              1. Thank you oh magnificent Wallaby. Love that movie there are loads of scenes where I laugh like an idiot. And the cast Basil Rathbone as the baddy (and he gets to fence !), Glynis Johns as the love interest (Later The mom in Mary Poppins but here a beautiful ingenue)., Angela Lansbury as the princess (also a rather striking ingenue). And of course Danny Kaye holding it all together. Was rather hard to get for a while but I think at least one service (Amazon) has it available.

  3. Thanks for writing this. It resonates with me and I keep re-reading and thinking about this sentence near the end: “Go do the most worthy thing you can conceive of, no matter how hard.”

    1. I can think of worthy things that I should not even try because I clearly don’t have the calling to do them.

      For instance, finding a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

        1. Unfortunately, there are a great many people who have brought a great many evils by not curbing their choice to where their vocation lay.

    1. It was a Tower Defense movie. 🙂

      I figured out how it was going to end fairly early in the battle. Didn’t stop me from enjoying it.

      Other than being really annoyed at Sim Muff Tarkin.

    2. And once they get stuck in it quickly reaches a point where every inch of progress requires a life in exchange. Which is exactly what should happen given the weakness of the Alliance at that point, vs the all powerful Empire.

      One of my favorite scenes is the fleet attempting to flee Scarif: ships are jumping out, and one of those fish shaped freighters is getting ready to jump as Vader’s ISD jumps in, splatting the freighter like a bug.

  4. I’m sorry, peace be upon RAH, but Rodin was an -asshole- for making that thing.

    The Caryatids of Greece are magnificent. A celebration of femininity, beauty and strength. Yes, all three do come in the same package. Fabulous, sexy giants who can carry a whole building on their heads in a basket, like it was nothing.

    Rodin is an example of everything about the Modernist movement that sucks, IMHO. F- that guy. /.rant./

    Sorry Sarah, you pushed one of my buttons. Fucking French Modernists. 😡

    1. Holding up buildings is an endurance challenge, not merely strength, and women are better built for endurance than are men.

    1. Some time back my life took a turn for the better when I decided that happiness was a choice, so I chose to be happy. Things can always be better but they can always be worse, too, so choose the least destructive way to perceive them.

      Of course, for my dour Slavic matrix the observable difference between happy and glum os barely notable, so I’m likely not the best example.

      As for being “good for something” … I’m not so sure. It seems it would depend on who’s doing the judging. I don’t think I’d fancy being thought “good for something” by AOC or Elizabeth Warren. Happily for me, I’ve a well-developed sense of what is above my pay-grade and thus not my concern.

  5. “There is a danger in it too, mind you. It is possible to become enamored of the thought of self-sacrifice and distort oneself while enabling others to be useless and never grow up. ”

    True enough, and a common fault for those who want to be good for something (more folks than you’d think, but less than I’d like). A defense against that is to elevate something above the narcissistic love of your own life. A task. A goal. A purpose, and meaning for a life that *needs* meaning.

    One of the men that works for me, the one I call “old man” (he’s got four years one me) has a degenerative condition that affects his right arm and neck. Some days he can’t uncurl his hand. Others the whole arm is locked to his side. Makes climbing ladders and pulling cables difficult. Crawling especially so. Some days the pain is too much for him to drive safely, so he stays home.

    Despite that he comes to work every day he can. Kids are grown, with kids of their own. He could probably stay home, if he wanted to. Retire completely. Family would take care of him, sure. They’re that kind of people. He doesn’t, though. Not wanting to be a burden, I suppose.

    He’s my go-to repair guy. Been in the industry for decades now. Teaches the young ones a thing or two when I’m unavailable. Sets things aright here and there. It’s worth what he gets paid. Least it is to me, and that’s what counts right now.

    These days not a one of us truly lives in isolation. Other people see us. People we care about, and if we’re lucky, care about us in return, see how we live our lives. Wee ones especially. Every moment we’re observed, we are an example to those around us. We quite literally change the world, at least the little bit around us, with our actions.

    What kind of world do we want to live in? People’s brains file away information about the people around them *constantly.* It affects behavior. This doesn’t mean you can turn an amoral, feral human into a decent human being simply by modeling good behavior. Past experience counts for a lot, too. But how we deal with people we don’t like, or mistakes, or just plain bad luck can make a world of difference.

    The old guy I work with refuses to be beaten by pain. He’s dedicated, and his work is spot on. There are plenty of reasons for him, or anyone, to accept less than that. It isn’t as interesting a question to ask, why not just stay home? We know that life is suffering. And that horrible things completely outside our control will happen. Why is it that we choose to do difficult things? Things which cause us pain, which increase our suffering *now.* Why do that at all?

    If your life has any meaning at all, you already have an answer to that.

      1. Complete agreement. At least I know when my body finally fails enough that I can’t work in the field anymore I’ve got several fallbacks that are less physical. More time writing, tinkering, and so on.

        If voice transcription ever improves enough, I might even keep going if I can’t even see or hear. *chuckle* Always a path forward if you look hard enough.

      2. Indeed. The woman that I worked for, as a junior in the Teeny Publishing Bidness worked until the last half-year of her life – at which point (after I had done most of the heavy lifting in the Bidness for about a year) she handed it all to me. Sold the Bidness to me for a small sum, with the blessings of her next of kin and executor; the files, the good name, the client list and everything.
        She worked, until she couldn’t – at a business she loved. I’ll probably be the same way – handing it on to my daughter, in turn. (Some of our clients are glad to hear this, actually.)

        1. “Only were love and need are one, and the work is play for mortal stakes. Is the deed ever truly done. For Heaven and the future’s sakes.” – Robert Frost
          Pray to be lucky enough that your work is play, and retirement becomes a merely academic issue.

  6. Sarah said: “My writing will be forgotten ten minutes after I’m dead, probably, but I’m doing it as well as I can, and I’m NOT QUITTING. It will never be a shining thing of immortal beauty, because that only happens in dreams.”

    In my second book I introduce an AI that is 10,431 years old. Writing her has been an enlightening experience to say the least. She’s the same age as civilization. She’s seen the whole fricking story from the start until now.

    What matters to her? Not a lot, is what I decided after thinking about it. All the things we think are important, like family, clan, tribe, nation, she’s seen all that disappear. Hundreds of times.

    Legends, stories, religions, traditions? Turned to dust about every 1,000 years.

    Possessions, money, buildings, farms, entire industries? Nope.

    What’s important to that person? What does she want? Why would she even stay here with the killer monkeys? Who she is bigger and smarter than, not to put too fine a point on it.

    Think about that, and that is why Rodin is an asshole.

    1. I disagree. Was he “criticizing” the older art? don’t know. I know that Jubal thought so, but Jubal was an asshole.
      HOWEVER he was pointing out very clearly that even if you fall under the load, if you’re not as perfect as the classical form, you are still worthy. Heinlein was right about that. It is a monument to normal people lifting a burden too heavy for them. Which is almost the only thing worth doing.
      The modernists were not the sneering assholes the post modernists were. I also like Rodin’s The Kiss and The Thinker, both of which are not what most people think they are. Not if you really look at them.
      The modernists were trying to create, not tear down.
      What Jubal says about good art criticizing bad? That’s Jubal. The rest is Heinlein, and I’m sorry, daddy was right.

      1. “HOWEVER he was pointing out very clearly that even if you fall under the load, if you’re not as perfect as the classical form, you are still worthy.”

        Herein lies my issue. The classical form, beauty and power rising up, that’s the inspiration (literally the breath of the Gods). We’re not supposed to be that. They are the Gods, for them it is easy to hold up the building. We have that for a symbol, a goal. They breath their greatness into us.

        The Fallen Caryatid, that’s a negation of the classical inspiration. Yes, people fall. Yes, they keep trying. But -why- do they? Because they’ve seen the real Caryatid and that’s what they want to be. The giant holding up a building.

        1. No. Look, for the Greeks, these aren’t even HUMAN. They were supposed to be handmaiden’s of the gods.
          Inspiring? Maybe. I think MOSTLY pretty, honestly.
          Do they inspire me? Partly no, not really. They’re horribly “distant” and “mannered.” Not really human, to me at least. (The fact that they’re almost all exactly alike means they’re more form than human.)
          You’re falling for the same thing as someone on my page yelling because I like Leonard Cohen and thinking his songs/poems MUST be depressing.
          That’s not the way it works.
          If you’re already depressive, and afraid of failing, stuff like the fallen caryatid, and please note Heinlein’s history (A career destroyed, and then his first writing career also destroyed. and he came back) tells you “it is possible to succeed while failing.”
          It’s not “people fail and continue trying” it’s what Heinlein said elsewhere “Man was born to strive.”
          This is what the little caryatid is. It’s you’re crushed under the load, but still trying to lift it. And sometimes, bizarrely, you actually lift it. Sometimes you don’t. But either way you’ve won.
          When you’re going through hell barefoot, you look at the Greek Caryatids and go “yeah, that’s nice, but I’ve already failed. I’ll never be that shiny and chrome.”
          But then you look at the fallen caryatid and you go “Oh, she’s still trying. Hell, I can do THAT, even though I’m falling.”
          Hence what I said about “Good art you can LEAN into.” Yes, you can have some really beautiful stuff that uplifts JUST by being beautiful.
          But my favorite — perhaps because I am depressive — is art I can look at and go “Yeah, I’m that fucked up too, and yet I can try.”
          Which also explains why I like Van Gogh.

          1. This looks like the thing that made me scream at The Da Vinci Code— symbols are freakin’ PACKED.

            The pretty ladies holding up the ceiling can be all three “gosh, pretty, go for that,” and “Ah, an awesome statement on how powerful the characters are!” and “look, they placed such demands on an unsuited frame—-and she did it, and kept doing it, even after falling”– and they are all true.

            Funny enough, I just did a related survey on TAC, a political survey… half the questions were freakin’ “if by whiskey” things. (Sorry for link, it did the best job of supplying name and enough quote to be worth using.)

          2. It might be a guy thing Sarah, or maybe its just me. Honestly, I look at that Rodin piece and all I see is RED.

            I need to go pick her up, and then find the @#%$ who stuck her there and … etc. I see her, and I can feel the monster testing the cage bars again. I can’t have that, it gets out too much as it is.

            I look at the Caryatids, and I want to be the guy that girl winks at. I am uplifted.

            This is not to say that others are not allowed to have differing opinions. Just that this is my opinion, based on my own warped little self.

            Interesting side note, I am not alone. http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/index.php/2020/02/07/making-federal-buildings-beautiful-again/

            Trump has decreed that new federal buildings will abandon the post-modern brutalist concrete-box look and resume the earlier, nicer neo-classical style.

            Anyone seen the new Scottish Parliament? OMfG. What a disaster.

          3. Might be you, Phantom.

            I don’t have that reaction. I don’t really have any reaction.

            Long day, tired, the response to prodding my brain to figure out if that means anything to me is ‘maybe we should just kill all the artists’. Which just means the fatigue is talking, and that I will be spending my relaxation and recovery time on other artists, who don’t stress me that way. (It is not stress from offense, it is stress from trying to think in ways I’m not up to ATM.)

            1. “…the response to prodding my brain to figure out if that means anything to me is ‘maybe we should just kill all the artists’.”

              Not literally, and not the artist. It is an existential rage that keeps looking for an outlet in the Real World. That’s the monster. At my age I know that the rage does not belong in the real world, hence the cage.

              Better to ignore Mr. Rodin and just look at the fabulous Caryatids instead. “Hey big girl, come here often?” ~:D

              1. Sculpture is not one of the artistic forms that I am particularly good at understanding.

                Basically, prose text can be easy and fun for me, everything else takes work.

                Part of my brain started estimating the effort needed to convert the sensory input to meaning, and said ‘nope’. In that moment, my brain preferred committing mass murder to trying to understand /any/ sculpture. So, simply way too tired.

                I’ve recovered some.

                I’m going to sit here, read a Fate/Extra crossover with ‘Reincarnated As A Sword’ if it updates, drink water, and maybe read some webcomics.

                Some future day I may give the Rodin another try. Not promising, because I’m not sure when I can expect to have the right sort of energy.

    2. I am suddenly reminded of the comedy skit– I can’t remember the guy, he’s one of the “you may be a redneck” tour guys, if I saw his name I’m sure I’d recognize it– who had a skit based on “look, guy’s magazines? Naked women. Women’s magazines? Naked women. EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE NAKED WOMEN. Nobody wants to see a naked man, they’re all hairy and nasty and stuff.”

      Basic idea being, the female form is a lot more….ah….photogenic?

      1. Well, that sounds like something Bill Engvall would say.
        ———————————
        “I’m having one of those days where my middle finger is answering every question.”

            1. Nah, this one I’d have to got through the pit of our shared music and media pit.

              OH BOOGER NO.

              I barely dug Hank the Cowdog out of that.

                    1. It’s a Bill Engvall reference, from his first big stand-up comedy success:

                      At least I think it is his first.

                    2. Ah, I see. Thanks.

                      No, I don’t think Fox is stupid. I think she’s like Gollum lusting after the One Ring when she’s trying to track down something she wants to share with us, but not stupid.

              1. How big is this collection of “shared music and media” you’ve accumulated, anyway? Sounds like you might need to throw some stuff out.

                1. I’m not sure, actually. There were several “save the drive that is dying” incidents, and a couple of different filing systems, so it’s a complete mess. I know there are at least three or four copies of various things, and Elf is terrible about how he labeled his comedy tracks.

                  Trying to organize it is a perennial time-waster.

      2. A few weeks ago, in the comments of one of ESP’s posts, someone posted a set of lines that formed a vaguely curvy feminine form, and commented that every single (straight) male who looked at those lines would know what they were meant to represent.

        And that’s even though they were only a vaguely abstracted version of the real thing.

        The person who made that comment also noted that there wasn’t something similar for women and the male form.

        Or in other words, people really like the female form.

        While the male form doesn’t get rejected, the interest level just isn’t the same.

        1. I think RES posted like two big long wavy lines, two little lines and a dot, and yeah they were pretty obviously the female form but IT WAS SOMETHING A RIVER BED MIGHT THROW OUT.

          But it was obviously a fairly attractive female form, obviously even to the totally straight and unimaginative folks like me.

          I’ll trust him on it being something that can inspire desire for dudes.

          Contrast with things I’m assured are phallic? Even things I recognize as thus? Yeah, no inherent desire there, possibly a “dude, keep it to yourself.” (Which, I am also assured, is a very rare response to mere suggestion of a desireable female form.)

  7. I’m going to recommend Kipling’s “Hymn of Breaking Strain” (http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_strain.htm) on that theme. Written late in his life, after his son’s death, which might have been his breaking strain; very sfnal in spirit.

    “We only of creation—
    O, luckier bridge and rail—
    Abide the twin damnation:
    To fail, and know we fail.”

    I think your young self was wrong, but I also think the hypothetical therapists who would have cringed would have been wrong to. To me it seems that the point of life IS happiness, but that the surest path to happiness is to have something you care about and work for. . . .

      1. The wording is just slightly different. The first word is not “But” but “That”; it marks what follows as being in the subjunctive mood, not an assertion of known fact but an expression of hope, following on a prayer that precedes it:

        O veiled and awful power
        Whose ways we grope in vain,
        Be with us in our hour
        Of overthrow and strain,
        That we, by which sure token . . .

        I find it more moving that way: Kipling is not asserting a certainty that it is so, but praying that it may be so.

  8. I keep both Notebooks and Channel Markers handy on my desktop for good and sufficient reasons.
    Hardly a week goes by that a quote from one or the other isn’t appropriate to current discussions.
    You, my fine Portagee, are still generating product, both with your fiction and your blogs, and the ideas you express shall live on far longer than your disparaging ten minute estimate. People will be using your words as reference for years after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.
    Far be it from me to nag, but by my estimation you are perhaps just a tad delinquent with a couple or three novels that I’ve been assured are just days from completion.

    1. A reboot of the book or of the film? The book strikes me as flawed, though interesting; the film I have never watched, having heard about the director’s (mis)interpretation of the book.

      1. Thing was, Verhoeven had no intention of making a faithful adaptation of Starship Troopers. He wanted to make an antiwar satire, and when the studio asked him to direct the adaptation he did just that. In fact, he only made it through the first couple of chapters, complaining that the book was “boring” and “right-wing.”

        1. IIRC He may have wanted to make an anti-war movie but the movie he was making used “giant space bugs” and then somebody told him about Heinlein’s novel.

          Then he have to make idiot comments about Heinlein’s novel in his movie.

          1. This is more or less what I’ve heard elsewhere. Verhoeven only bought the rights to the book because others noted some similar plot elements (such as the bugs) between the book and the script.

        2. Verhoven already had a story, a WWII thing about kids getting caught up in the Nazi war machine and buying into it, and what it did to them.

          He shopped it around for years. Nobody wanted that movie. So he went off and did other things. After he had some hits he went back to that story, and tried to file off the WWII serial numbers just barely and respin it as SF. Still nobody wanted it. One person (I think an agent) said it sounded like Starship Troopers. He said “Vas?” and ordered a minion to first read the book and report back, then inquire as to the movie rights. When he found out the estate could be talked into licensing it he snapped it up with much promising to stick to the original, immediately broke all those promises once signatures were in place, stuck in character names and the bugs and a few other bits, all duct taped onto the original story that he really wanted to tell, about fascism and war and stupid hats and coed showers.

          That’s why he never read the book. He wasn’t telling the story in the book. He was telling his own story under the constraint of that license.

      2. He made a lot of mistakes, but the biggest one was leaving out the powered armor! It was like making ‘Titanic’ and leaving out the ship!

        His complete misunderstanding of how the government worked probably took second place.
        ———————————
        G’Kar: “Isn’t the universe a wonderful place? I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

        1. What misunderstanding? Other than it was a military dictatorship, we’re told *nothing* about the government in ST, other that most of the population are non-citizens with no say in how things were done.

          I re-read (the original magazine version) last year, and was distinctly underwhelmed. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the detractors on this one. It’s obvious he didn’t think a lot of things through, and things smell bad underneath the $SHINY.

          1. Read the book. Slowly and carefully. Heinlein made it crystal-clear that most franchised citizens were not veterans of active military service, but of high-risk or high-workload civil duties. And nobody got to vote until after they were discharged…which is neither military nor a dictatorship.

            1. I always saw it as the start of a conversation about whether the “one adult, one vote” system currently in force is actually better than “votes for (male) land owners & business owners” system of the founding.
              Heinlein also famously suggested (as a thought experiment) voting booths where you deposited a significant sum of money, and solved a quadratic equation. Do it correctly, you get your money back & can vote. Get it wrong & you lose the cash.
              There are many possible ways to qualify who is Smart/Wise/Experienced/Has Skin in the Game/ enough to be casting votes intelligently instead of casting them in a popularity contest or to try to enrich themselves. We are currently using only age & citizenship*.

              * Citizenship possibly optional in CA & NY
              /s

              1. Yes. Bear in mind that Heinlein grew up in a civilization where military service at need was considered an obligation of citizenship. The vast armies fielded in the Civil War, the First World War, and the Second World War were not made of career soldiers, but of ordinary citizens called to arms.

              2. Just saying that anyone who goes on the dole can’t vote until after the following general election might be a good start.

          2. I don’t myself favor Heinlein’s proposed government. But in the first place, he’s proposing it not as THE solution, but as A possible solution to get people to think. And in the second place, what he’s trying to get at is a key idea of political theory that goes back to Aristotle: That the rulers should not consider themselves the masters of the state, entitled to use it for their own gain, but trustees of the state, required to govern it in the interest of the whole people. This is how Aristotle distinguishes the good and bad forms of rule by the one, the few, or the many. But how to you ensure that the many will act as trustees for the minorities, rather than ruling according to their own interests and prejudices? Well, suggests Heinlein, you grant the vote only to those who have already placed their mortal bodies between the people and their enemies, and shown by doing so that they put the good of the whole first; and just to make sure, you leave them completely free to end their service at any time, on a moment’s notice, without penalty. That way you end up with only those who really mean it.

            I doubt it would work as well as Heinlein suggests. But it’s an important question. We certainly haven’t answered it.

            But I don’t think this can be described as a military dictatorship. Has any dictatorship ever relied on volunteers for its armed forces, or allowed its soldiers to end their service by their own choice? Heinlein spells it out that both obtain in ST.

            1. Starship Troopers was intended to be a discussion on duty and service. I think RAH himself noted this in his letters (where is my copy of Grumbles from the Grave). And the SJW/Tranzis have done their usual thing and mistaken the ideas of the book and the characters for those of the author. Dr Pournelle said there was a word for folks that did that. That word is Idiot.

              1. That was rather what I meant when I wrote, “he’s proposing it not as THE solution, but as A possible solution to get people to think.”

    2. Someone with the… intestinal fortitude and sheer love of the book to draw out the spirit of it? Now that’s a movie I might actually see. Tap Larry C and Sarah H, at the least, for story expersts, mayhap.

    3. I’m not sure it would make into a good film. ST is a political epistle in the form of a novel…with a lot of internal monologue. Turning that into a script would be tricky.

      1. I think it could be done.

        But it would need to be a mini-series. I think it needs more time than can be properly invested in the movie format.

        1. Dang you, Junior! Now in my dream world there is a streaming channel for Heinlein novels, lovingly translated to series form. Kip Russell is in his garage working on Oscar, Thorby is being berated by Baslim fr sloppy thinking, Podkayne is fretting over her kid brother’s getting her in trouble with his antics, Hazel Stone is bailing out Castor & Pollux, Lazarus Long is leading a wagon train, Mr. Howe is just being annouced as the new headmaster at Jim Marlowe’s school, Manny is agreeing to assist Mycroft’s studies of human humour, the Old Man is assigning his two est agents to investigate strange occurrences, Daniel Boone Davis is awakening from the Cold Sleep, Oscar Gordon is reading a newspaper ad, Waldo is setting up housekeeping in space, Jonathan Hoag is wondering how he makes his living …

          And Johnny Rico is entering boot camp.

          Each series open ended but telling a specific story, with a destination in mind, with episodes enough to cover the ground but not so many they lose their way.

      2. I think the key would be to keep the classroom stuff to a minimum, and bring out the themes and philosophy through the story in other ways.

        1. Well, that was only about 90% of the book… just cut it all and focus on mecha battles? You might as well just keep the Verwhatsisname version.

          It’s not a very good candidate for a movie. Or Farmer in the Sky, or Podkayne, which were also mostly infodumps. But Have Spacesuit, Will Travel would absolutely *rock* on the big screen, or Door into Summer, or with modern CGI, Between Planets.

          1. While I see your points about filming Starship Troopers, the one thing I’d enjoy about a more accurate to the book version would be Bugs closer to Heinlein’s vision of them.

            The Bugs were starship building aliens in Heinlein’s book. Nobody in Heinlein’s book doubted that the Bugs were intelligent beings.

            Of course, another movie maker might make the human soldiers smarter. The idiots in THAT MOVIE deserved to be killed.

          2. There has to be some way to balance the philosophy and the action. Take out the substance and you’re right, what you have the 1998 version. But a few seconds of film can convey as much meaning as hundreds of words. What it would take is a director who can understand the words and translate them into cinema. Who can give us a classroom scene and then give us an action scene that reflects those themes.

    4. Done right? DONE RIGHT???

      Those mollycoddle pantywaists couldn’t ever do it right. Maybe John Milius or Zack Snyder could understand what the tale is about, but by the time it got through the sausage factory?

      1. Glad I’m not the only one to notice that Snyder is no typical Hollywood pod person. I always had a feeling about him, way back since 300. But then you get to Man of Steel, where Superman is a refugee from a collectivist society (Zod’s emblem is basically a hammer and sickle!), or BvS, where the mainstream media is a secondary antagonist, and it’s obvious he’s not part of the herd.

    5. Only if they burn Paul Verhoven in effigy at the premiere. That prick.

      A -proper- telling of Starship Troopers is probably not possible in Hollyweird right now. You might be able to get it done in South Korea.

      But yes, I’d pay hard money to see a proper movie made from the book, by a guy who actually READ the book and respected RAH’s vision. We can actually do Mobile Infantry jump suits now, and make them look good.

      In fact, I am such a fan I put a full-on Mobile Infantry combat drop on the demon sorcerer in my fourth book. I’m a little weird, I’ve always wanted to see somebody go Full SF on the Ancient Eeeevile of Fantasy, like Bolos + Rico’s Roughnecks vs. Mordor. Thanks the fabulosity of Amazon, I can do that now.

      Always steal from the best. ~:D

      1. I had in mind Mordor…against the Galactic Patrol. We’ll see how well Barad-Dur holds up against a thousand-ton negasphere.

    1. And the Usual Suspects are responding with all the understanding and grace we’ve come to expect from them.

      1. On the Left we have The Empathy Brigade, gloating in another person’s agony.

        On the Right we have The Caveman Brigade, gloating about how they aren’t pussies.

        Even without intending it Peterson is providing an opportunity for the blackhearted to reveal their true nature.

  9. To me, it all comes down to one word. Duty. If you can honestly say, “I did my duty to the best of my ability,” you need not fear Divine Judgement.

  10. Heyer is not ‘realistic about the relationships between men and women’ say the intellectual midgets.

    As if they would know.

  11. Sarah, excellent exposition on the Mal Reynolds thought, “Get a job. Get a crew. Keep flying.”

    Terry Brooks has a monologue On trying regardless of cost or fatigue in Elfqueen of Shannara

    1. >> “Sarah, excellent exposition on the Mal Reynolds thought, “Get a job. Get a crew. Keep flying.””

      Such a shame that series couldn’t keep flying. But weren’t there supposed to be more movies at some point?

      1. It’s likely after the Serenity movie, Whedon was too busy. He directed the first two Avengers movies. Now enough time has passed since Firefly that even a made for TV reunion special episode would be a long shot.

        1. Killing most of them off in the movie would be difficult to get around.

          I’ll pine for what might have been, but resurrecting the shambling corpse like they did with Star Trek isn’t anything I want to see. “Firefly, The Next Generation!”

          No. Much no.

          1. >> “Killing most of them off in the movie would be difficult to get around.”

            Only two out of nine, actually.

        1. Has she been talking to Nemo? Donna Summer’s “More, More, More” is his theme song. He also has a new cognomen: Loyal Henchdog.

  12. It is become increasing viable to declare the Emperor’s not wearing much:

    ‘Your badly paid migrant house staff’: Ricky Gervais trashes Hollywood calls for ‘equality’ ahead of Oscars
    … Responding to a Twitter user’s question about what his “best joke” would be if he were hosting the award show for the elite group of filmmakers and actors, the Golden Globes presenter poked fun at actors giving “inspiration speeches” while their “badly paid migrant house staff” take the opportunity to sleep.

    “I can’t wait to hear all your inspirational speeches about equality, and it’s great that the 3 hours you’re here tonight is the only time your badly paid migrant house staff will get some time off to sleep this week,” he tweeted Sunday morning. …

    … Gervais, 58, was criticized by some as utilizing “right-wing” talking points during his Golden Globes performance, but the U.K. The Office star shot back at critics, saying that “teasing huge corporations, and the richest, most privileged people” was not conservative in nature.

  13. “We all start out with dreams. Big dreams, if we’re worth anything.”

    Being told by your family that you are and always be worthless since roughly age 11 will cure you of that.

    “OTOH there are probably people who think they’re doing that, while infantilizing their families and taking the brunt off life for people who can and should face it alone.”

    Sure. But what else can we do? Let them crash and if they do and can’t get back up again say “oh well, they should have handled it?”

    Ultimately, all we can do is the best we can do. And keep doing it until we can’t anymore. Will anyone else recognize that we’ve done well? Who knows. You can waste a life hoping that someone else will tell you that you’ve been right. Ultimately, only you can judge that.

    “To thine own self be true.”

  14. Funny. I read this and I find myself thinking….
    “Dry your eyes, and quietly bear this pain with pride…..”

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