Canada Day long weekend, Pride, Fourth Street Fantasy - Mostly, it is...
Jul. 6th, 2011
02:43 pm - Canada Day long weekend, Pride, Fourth Street Fantasy
Greetings to new reader tiger_spot. It was nice to see you at Fourth Street. Your journal looks interesting, so I'll probably follow you, but I haven't actually gotten to know you, so it'll wait till I've worked through my old posts privacy settings.
As applicable, I hope that people's Canada Day, Independence Day, Pride, long weekend went well. I didn't go see the fireworks at Ontario Place this year, nor to any of the Pride events. On my way to the bookstore I did to pass through parts of the parade route as it was being set up and people were staking out spots on Sunday. Huge banners were up on some of the buildings and various stores had queer themed goods beyond the standard rainbow flags. The weather was a bit warm for me, and too sunny, which made it great for Pride. Bakka-Phoenix was still without air conditioning as the building's roof (where the compressor usually is) is being worked on, but the fans and the low humidity made it bearable upstairs, and the basement is cool anyway.
Mid last week I got back from the Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minnesota. Happily, a number of people about which there had been some question as to whether they were going to be present were there. Of particular significance to me were myself, and anne. I'd been on the fence about whether I was up to going this year until quite late, and then had issues locating my passport. Anne's job seeking timetable was subject to change, which could have interfered, then her ride-share fell through. Not so happily, I got there a day later than I'd planned, so missed the writers seminar in which elisem spoke with Patricia C. Wrede, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Elizabeth Bear on several subjects of interest to me, two panels (Magic, Monsters, and Metaphor, and Birth Control and Families in Fantasy), and hours of less structured social/music time. Speaking with Elise later in the weekend, she expressed hopes that people would put notes up on the Fourth Street wiki and continue discussion online, but the wiki I thought she was talking about seems to be gone unless I'm looking in the wrong place. As to other online communities, while I've seen a few con reports, people haven't been posting links to them in the 4th_st_fantasy community the way they were a few years ago, so I've not seen as many (then again, I haven't looked very hard yet - I'm still catching up on stuff). Of those I've seen, the majority are fairly brief and personal in a semi-generic way rather than summaries or analysis, which promotes a different, though not less valuable, kind of discussion. Exceptions include alecaustin's and cloudscudding's, as one would expect.
Stuff that bugged me: Excess repetition. While it has several positive use cases (restating differently helps triangulate, expressing endorsement or agreement, someone didn't hear it the first time, reinforcement for recall, to demonstrate a grasp of the concept, to contrast with something new to follow), it can also waste time that could be spent on something that would add more than more of the same. It's not something that the organizers can necessarily do a lot about. In most cases, it's the responsibility of the prospective speaker to decide whether to use it or not - they're the one who knows what they're going to say before they say it. Several panels had multiple instances of people (on and off the panel) apparently choosing to use repetition in cases that I thought it unwarranted. It's not provable from the observed interactions of course - people can independently have the same idea and not be paying attention when the first (or second, or third) one says it.
Several panels ended up with panelists or audience members talking past each other for lack of having explicitly framed the parameters of their claims for the purposes of the discussion. One can call it needing to define a common vocabulary, defining the scope of one's generalizations, declaring the aspect of the issue that one personally is addressing, or whatever. In particular the Class and Colonialism in Fantasy (which I do hope to see come back in some form) discussion suffered from this. It was still a useful one, and it didn't go nearly as badly as I was afraid it might have (there were assertions made by various people that I might otherwise have commented on, but wasn't comfortable making the attempt because the discussion was so unstable), but it did look like a panel that would have benefited from some degree of pre-panel coordination between the panelists, preferably pre-con, but helpful even if it were at the green room level (which yes, this con doesn't have one of). That said, various people on several panels (Steven Brust among them), did really well at appropriately specifying their generalizations' lack of universality and mostly diverting the nerd question tendency (which it would be pointless for me to deny that I have) to point out exceptions and flaws with them (which isn't always a problem, but it often does lead to the original question being put off for a significant period of time).
A personal annoyance was the relative lack of deep and heavy conversation outside panels that I was either party to, or in hearing distance of. I'd done some preparation for a discussion topic or three per person for several people following off of various blog posts made by several acquaintances that I'd felt would be better discussed in person than in comments, but mostly I didn't feel that I could bring about the conversational circumstances that I had available around to a point where it would be appropriate to explore them without wrenching transitions. There is something to be said for the 'burn story' approach in conversation too I suppose, though I do think that one can still use discretion to balance subject-of-interest-has-come-up with better-medium-of-discussion-will-become-a
Returning to Pride, a number of members of city council are making noises about withholding the city's share of funding (which since it's about half of Pride's budget, would bankrupt Pride Toronto), claiming that they violated the terms of an agreement made over excluding the organization Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (who in turn committed to sit out from demonstrating, though presumably not from attending) from parade events as a condition of receiving funding, by failing to eject others who decided to participate in the Dyke March on Saturday who had similar messaging (i.e.: that Israel has a set of inequitable policies with respect to Palestinians living in or adjacent to Israel that should be fixed). The councillors are arguing that the city should not be in the business of funding events that involve political messages or that offend people. In the past some of them have characterized QAIA's messages as anti-Israel. I have several issues with this. Firstly, arguing with the policies of a country does not equal arguing that the country itself and its existence is the problem, or indeed that one does not support the idea of said country. QAIA, and those in Saturday's parade haven't been saying anything that a non-trivial number of Israelis and non-Israeli Jews who support Israel-the-nation haven't said before. For that matter, quite a few of QAIA's members meet that description. Secondly, a big part of Pride is networking, advocating, and awareness building on justice and equality issues. While much of that is around Queer issues, as people who are not defined by that label alone, there are lots of other equality areas we intersect with and care about. Not taking the opportunity to talk about them in public when we are together is a waste. It isn't something that needs to, or should be, segregated from the other parts of our identities (of course they shouldn't be subsumed or appropriated either, but that's another discussion). It's all part of what we do as engaged and civic minded citizens. Which is a state to be encouraged by all levels of government in our various intermeshing democracies. If it were a case of objecting to the dissemination of revisionist history, (a.k.a.: lying), then I might support the councillors' objection. But when what they're saying is that we, in the form of the people we've delegated to manage the city, should not be in the position of supporting conditions favourable to public political discourse? I can grasp that having people say that x group-that-one-supports is doing something wrong can be uncomfortable, but a better response to that discomfort than saying that this is not an issue that should be discussed in a venue where we discuss issues of social justice and equality, would be to gather information about the actions at issue, decide the extent to which one agrees with them, and then address those issues in a manner suits the question itself rather than the discomfort with the question. For that matter, to say that we should not fund events in which people say things that offend other people is in itself problematic. In a highly heterogenous city such as ours, it is practically impossible to say anything of substance which will not offend a substantial number of people. City council does it all the time. We cover varying degrees of the costs of the processions, parades and other events to honour, recognize, and further the works, of many groups who are not without some stain of active tension or controversy, whether they be ethnic groups, religious groups, civic societies (e.g.: Lions, Shriners), civil organizations (e.g.: labour unions, police, activists, armed forces, city council, other public servants), because their existence and visible presence contributes positively to the fabric of our community and sometimes we need to be reminded of that fact, even, or perhaps particularly when some aspect of them makes some segments of us uncomfortable.
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