dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #741

Sarah sarah-neko at dove.gen.nz
Sun Nov 9 20:50:23 EST 2003

> Me:
> I think your example is actually better than DWJ's here! In fact, 
> although
> she mentioned race, she didn't limit the metaphorical power of
> witch-persecution to that. Here's the relevant sentence (from 'The
> Profession of Science Fiction' -
> http://www.leemac.freeserve.co.uk/questions.htm):
> "The fact that it has been put in terms of magic (or impossibility) has
> distanced the problem (which may actually be one painfully near to most
> children, like secret fears or racial difference) so that it can be 
> walked
> around, followed through and, if possible, solved in some way."
> Possibly she had homosexuality, amongst other things, in mind when she 
> wrote
> 'secret fears'? Though if so it would be an uncharacteristically coy 
> phrase.
> Charlie

Yeah, that does seem odd. I was particularly struck by some of the 
things Charles Morgan wonders when he realises he's a witch - exactly 
how wicked is he, is it because of his contact with the escaping witch, 
is it enough just not to do magic, can you go somewhere and be 
de-witched - because all of those sound like the concerns of a young 
person who thinks they may be gay and knows it won't be accepted. And 
note that the children in the story use 'magic' and 'magicking' as 
swear words in *linguistically* the same way as 'fuck.' 'Magicking 
hell,' 'magic off,' etcetera.
I'm not saying that I think the witchcraft in the story is a deliberate 
metaphor for sexuality or homosexuality (I don't think it could 
logically be read that way), just that these seem to be the clearest 
parallels, rather than anything about race or generic 'secret fears.' 
Children have secret fears about so many different things!

> Sarah wrote:
>> Clash is *not* a common name - any connection to Kevin Clash, the
>> African-American puppeteer who does Elmo for 'Sesame Street'?
> Oh!  I have no idea.  I haven't been watching Sesame Street lately.
> I think I'll talk to my sister about pursuing this ....

Just a random thought. I don't know a great deal about him, except that 
because no-one expects the voice/hand behind Elmo to be an 
African-American man - I think they assume because of his cute little 
voice that it must be a white woman, presumably a little, cute one - he 
finds it difficult to trade on his fame in situations like getting a 
better table in a restaurant! (He made a little comment to that effect 
quoted in 'Jim Henson: the Works,' which features profiles of the most 
prominent Muppet puppeteers.)

> ODWJM - DWJ is one of two authors using the surname "Chant" for a
> protagonist. Laura Chant is the heroine of Margaret Mahy's The 
> Changeover.
> And of course DWJ wrote a book with the same title.
> Sallyo.

DWJ also wrote a book called The Changeover? I don't know about it...

> Ven: I came across a short news item in the Guardian
> to say that William Mayne had been charged with
> the rape of a girl under thirteen. I'm aghast.

If it's true, it's disgraceful. I'm glad I'm *not* a fan of his (not 
that I dislike his work, just not a fan). I would feel very squirmy.

> Aimee and I are currently introducing The Princess Bride to a friend. 
> We
> just passed the "Farm-boy, fetch me that pitcher" scene at which point
> Aimee, to the bewilderment of the others in the room, shouted out 
> "HOWL!".
> So how about Cary Elwes?
> Kathleen

Yes please!
This being my automatic reaction to lovely, lovely Cary Elwes. But 
perhaps he is too pretty? I've been thinking increasingly that Guy 
Pearce might be the right fellow.

> There was an international survey published recently
> that iirc gave a figure of 17% for Australia, I don't
> think it was "gay" as sexual orientation, but rather
> had had a gay sexual experience, or desire, or
> something. I also recall being a bit dubious about the
> way the data was collected. I'll see if I can look it
> up. I know that Australia scored 2nd in the world and
> the US was first. I have seen the 10% figure bandied
> about on occasions, now I know who to blame. If I ever
> need to use it I can quote a source. :)
> Jon

Well, reputable studies of sexuality going back to Kinsey show that few 
people are *100%* straight or gay. It's a bit as if there is a sliding 
scale with really, really straight at one end, really, really gay at 
the other, and each individual's preferences and tendencies are a point 
somewhere along that scale. People who identify themselves as bisexuals 
are the most squarely in the middle, but even people who are closer to 
one end or the other do sometimes have a relationship, have a fantasy 
or feel an attraction that runs counter to their 'usual' orientation. 
That's just because most of us have a little bit of wiggle room. This 
means that it can be hard to get accurate statistics as to who is 
straight and who gay. Do you have to count yourself as gay if you had 
one partner of your own sex and every other relationship has been 
heterosexual? Or are you disqualified from gayness if you had one 
straight romance? (Are you a traitor?)  A lot of people refuse to see 
that these relationships could be genuine (rather than just 'You 
thought you had to go out with a boy/girl because you were pressured to 
conform or didn't understand your own feelings yet' - of course that 
does occur, but it doesn't account for every case) because they think 
of sexuality as a 100%, either/or thing - and that includes people who 
identify as gay as well as straight ones.
Homosexual experimentation is particularly common among adolescent 
boys, if only because it's easier to get it on with their friends than 
with girls they don't know how to talk to, without necessarily being 
proof of lifelong homosexuality. And so on.
So I, too, would take those statistics with a pinch of salt.

> Whatever; one thing that has been established is that
> when asked, for a survey, almost everybody said they
> would not hesitate to lie about their sex-life in the
> context of a survey.  So I don't believe *any* of the
> statistics, me.  It makes it ever so much easier.
> Might as well make 'em up, that's what I say.  Like
> the officials did for the most recent UK census, for
> which they filled in extra forms to make it look more
> plausible and make it fit what they wanted it to say.
> Minnow

Poor little census people; they do have a hard time, what with people 
here in New Zealand bullying them until they had to agree to accept 
'Jedi' in the 'Religion' box.
Because Jedi is still only a very small percentage of the population, 
it just gets reported under 'Other,' but it was still considered a 
victory for the Force and not taking official forms and statistics very 
I don't remember if anyone gave their religion as Sith.
E you later,
(the artist formerly known as Sarah-neko)

Air and Angels Anime Shrines

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