Word to your Mama

by Carl Dyke

I had a little fun with my scifi reading circle last week. They were pretty cranky about Gibson’s Neuromancer (although they picked it), which wasn’t giving them a nice clean linear narrative or conventionally identifiable / likeable characters. I told them it was all about getting cool with the unfamiliar, a slow difficult process in contrast for example to dating, boinking and marrying the woman who reminds you most of your mother. (It was boys doing the most vocal kvetching.) They were stricken.

[Update: It occurs to me that in a roundabout way this is one answer to Tim Burke’s question in his current post about why we think critical thinking should be work, not fun, or why we are suspicious of people seemingly just having fun.]

8 Comments to “Word to your Mama”

  1. Kenzie had a good time with her first-year tutorial on Dracula at Grinnell. The book afforded the prof an opportunity to dose her bemused students with a bit of queer theory, though I’m not sure if she suggested that Dracula is a boy’s fantasy of sleeping with his father. This year K wrote a vampire novel for NaNoWriMo — evidently the class didn’t immunize her from the curse of the undead.

  2. Well, they have this hypnotic effect. Has she read Octavia Butler’s Fledgling? Not my favorite Butler, but a good twist on the vampire genre nonetheless.

  3. You mentioned Fledgling over lunch that day, so I read it — pretty good.

  4. I happen to be reading Dracula at the moment. I’m curious, now.

  5. “Yet we must remember that the vampire mouth is first of all Dracula’s mouth, and that all subsequent versions of it (in Dracula all vampires other than the Count are female) merely repeat as diminished simulacra the desire of the Great Original, that ‘father or furtherer of a new order of beings.’ …This should remind us that the novel’s opening anxiety, its first articulation of the vampiric threat, derives from Dracula’s hovering interest in Jonathan Harker; the sexual threat that the novel first evokes, manipulates, sustains, but never finally represents is that Dracula will seduce, penetrate, drain another male.”

    The quote comes from Christopher Craft’s ‘Kiss Me with Those Red Lips: Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This essay was assigned reading for the vampire class — hopefully the link works.

  6. Ha. I’d say that’s a bit overcooked, in the manner of so much cultural studies in that vulgar-derridian mode where every subtext and countertext has to step out front, wave its arms around, put on a lampshade, spike the punch and otherwise violate decent party etiquette. But good to think/teach with, and yes, good link.

  7. …not to mention a good stimulus for a really strange father/daughter phone conversation.

  8. Carl, how old are the members of the group? To what generation would you assign them? I ask because my daughter and son-in-law, who are both in their mid-thirties and avid fans of Battlestar Gallactica and Spiderman seem to take for granted scenarios in which good and evil are blurred and people may not be what they seem.

    To me what you are describing sounds like a reaction from people who aren’t hip to what Henry Jenkins at MIT calls “convergence culture,” one of whose distinguishing features is a lack of closure. Instead of the novel, comic, film or work of art being confined within a clear and well-understood frame, it spills over into the world and leaves a lot of loose ends and hooks, which can then be exploited in sequels, prequels, games, fanzines, etc.

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