I’ve just witnessed the shitstorm on twitter. Most of it goes over my head and I don’t have the desire nor the capacity to measure and understand it. Internet culture these days demands too much to be parsed, and it’s definitely not worth the time required to do so.

The fundamental problem is that the best possible action is: do not participate. And the reason for that is also simple: when an argument is set up in the worst possible way, then no amount of arguing is ever going to “solve” the conundrum. The problem is not people’s opinions and their “factions”, the problem is that the argument itself is set to be inflammatory. It is a “meme”, of a structure BUILT to bring permanent conflict. The purpose is to perpetuate itself, to self feed and grow over time. The key to understand these processes is to stay out of them. Avoid feeding them, because they are “alien”, parasitic.

If we really wanted to have a discussion (instead of finding reasons for conflict), we’d need setting up the context and the theme. The better the set up, the more likely the solution. In fact these days of opinions on the internet, the opinions themselves are worth shit. ALL OF THEM. It would be important instead to set up the field, objectively gathering the data and describing each point of view, how they relate to each other. Only then it’s possible to begin discussing something. The rest is only noise, all of it. Surface noise meant only to reinforce identity of this faction versus that one, and self-congratulate.

One of the best hints is when opinions voiced are non sequiturs. The problem is not WHAT people think, but that people don’t know how to think anymore.

And you can see this everywhere. From anti-vax to those who believe the Earth is flat, to politics, viruses and everything else. I’ve been saying this for a long while because it’s pervasive. We’re witnessing an epistemological collapse, and in each of these cases it is not what people think, but how people think. The argument IS NEVER the important part. It’s not important whether the earth is flat or a geoid or whatever else, what’s important is WHY you believe so. How you got there. If people still knew HOW to think, then we wouldn’t be worried about the content of those thoughts. And now we are too busy trying to correct what people think and believe, without understanding that this is just the beginning of a collapse. You cannot even expect to slow it down. It’s just “memetic”, a thing set on its course that no one can control anymore.

So I bring one example that I just read. It’s not meaningful, it’s not a starting point. It’s just an isolated case that, from my point of view, indicates how the discussion is completely hopeless. It leads nowhere because its only purpose is self feeding indefinitely to fuel some conflict.

I only quote it anonymously, since it’s not important.

[…] this really makes me aware how my early love of SFF was shaped by the stories I stumbled on: queer stories, POC stories, women-focused. My SFF is not The History of SFF.

My SFF is *also the history of the genre*.

And that’s absolutely 100% fine.

Who made me love SFF? Juliet Marillier, Lynn Flewelling, Marjorie Liu, Nalini Singh, NK Jemisin, Jacqueline Carey, Kate Elliott

That’s fine too.

But also: dubbed anime on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, manga, paranormal YA books, fanfiction, Disney; even the Mahabharata on Zee TV.

Still fine.

You can bang on about Campbell; it still won’t make him relevant to the way I approach the genre, or the way the genre is going to be.

And here is the problem.

In the same phrase, she goes from “won’t make him relevant to the way *I* approach” to “the way the genre is going to be.”

Who fucking cares that Campbell isn’t relevant to you? Campbell isn’t relevant to me, like, AT ALL. But I don’t go out of my way to attack SOMEONE ELSE because his views do not conform to mine. Why should the way you approach the genre be MORE relevant?

You, whoever you are, don’t get to decide what the genre is or what is going to be. Your choices and preferences are PERSONAL. You don’t get to APPROPRIATE what isn’t yours.

This is what is incredibly silly with the whole debate. It’s very obvious that The Hugos are used as a sort of ramming ship in a cultural fight. That’s fine too, if you want to give more visibility to certain writers, or shift the field in a way you think is preferable, that’s all fine and part of the exact same process that goes on about everything and everyone. It’s how cultures move. I don’t believe in progress, so for me all the cultural movement is generically a thing that happens, like the wind. It can bring positive change as well as catastrophic.

Yet, no matter how you believe yourself important, or even fundamental, you’re still just a small part of a process that functions even without you. Yes “your” SFF is also the history of SFF. An history that will always be greater and larger than you. And that you don’t get to define or contain.

People have this absolutely ridiculous and impossible desire to impose their own views on something so large and intrinsically alien that exists on a completely different layer of reality. The Hugos, like every other prize or cultural association in existence, don’t define anything, ever. The Nobel or the Pulitzer don’t define “literature.” They are only marketing, and trends, and inner currents, stories of personal successes and failures. It’s all about perception, and nothing is real.

That’s why when George RR Martin is invited at the Hugo, he’s going to talk about *HIS* SFF. Because it’s utterly ridiculous to expect anything else. His view on the Hugos as someone who’s been there for a lot of time, so part of the history of this particular thing.

This is the complete fuck up. People want the Hugos to be THEIRS. Martin instead spoke and celebrated his own cultural background, that brought a generational conflict with the newer audience and the implicit cultural flow that defines the “current” Hugo.

That’s fine too. You want to fight for the identity of this cultural movement, symbolically represented by the Hugo. Okay. It’s like a political party, you can fight for the governance to steer it the way you want, it is part of democracy and the movement of culture generically described above. You could even set up a blog or a youtube channel and give yearly prizes to your very own favorite writers. Totally fine.

By why the fuck you cannot have an ounce of respect, or even acknowledgement, that SFF is not YOURS, and that different people will have their own experience with it? Why cannot you just respect Martin’s experience in SFF? Why should you have the right to overwrite someone else’s view with yours?

I perfectly understand that people realized that Martin wasn’t the best choice for what the Hugos are right now, but that’s a kind of discussion that generally happens before, not afterwards. You don’t care about what Martin spoke about, you were bored, that’s fine. But you have to respect it as his views. If you invite Martin, then it’s only logical that Martin will speak about HIS SFF. If you want a more modern take, then you wouldn’t invite Martin. Would you like him to read a script you wrote so you can put your words into his mouth?

So, you can legitimately decide the cultural angle you want to give a cultural association. You can decide who to invite, to better symbolize the movement you’re dealing with. But you don’t get to go AGAINST someone else because he somehow defiled your cultural purity.

The Hugo might be yours, and yours to define. But the Hugo do not represents SFF, and SFF isn’t yours.

If your “prize” is all about advertisement, self celebration, and reinforcing in-group identity, that’s fine. Hollywood has always worked the same way, all about people reinforcing and celebrating each other to feel better than everyone else. But you’re always going to be parochial. And the more you believe how important, fundamental you are, the sillier you appear.

By the same definition, Martin is going to speak about his SFF. And because it’s “his” that it is generally interesting. Because it isn’t yours, or mine. So you’ll have a different, new point of view. It’s valuable because it doesn’t overlap with yours, so it gives light to a new area. You might not be interested, and that’s totally fine. You aren’t hostage to Martin’s views, you don’t have to read or listen to him. But you still respect it for what it is and you don’t get to cancel it because your cultural agenda has different priorities. You don’t overwrite other people experiences with yours. You won’t call for diversity while hating it, because even Martin’s age and aged views on the SFF genre are a valuable form of diversity. Especially if this diversity helps preserve something that would otherwise be forgotten. Canceled by time.

That’s what is wrong. The arrogance of the absolutism. The war for the hegemony. Imposing your own views, to others. Your moral compass, your sense of superiority. You are the mirror of what you’re supposed to fight.

…Instead for something far more obvious and without even a slight trace of nuance, there are these two twitter messages highlighted just below Martin’s:

That’s almost too perfect. It gets the whole range, from ridiculous false accusations, to threats, and then this arrogant idiot self proclaiming as the spokesperson for “the modern SFF writing community.”

Including the admission that the mob already decided on the truth, no matter what anyone has to say. Even funnier because the cute avatar makes it all the more hypocritical.

Pronouns seem to be a big deal these days. I propose to eliminate “we” and “us.”

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