Long complaint here follows

I will be very glad when the semester’s done. I say that not only because final projects are piling up and everywhere I turn I seem to find more and can’t get rid of any.

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a very nice woman, who happened to give “I believe God created women to be fully evolved” as a reason for her idea that women can and should be priests and pastors. I’m not sure she’d thought much about what she was saying. That was aggravating.

Later the same day, in the nonfiction workshop, several people complimented one of my pieces on being a prose poem. I don’t believe such a thing exists.

 Tuesday, something happened in that writing workshop I’ve complained about for so long. We’re on to fiction now in it, and a guy wrote a story in which four girls bully a girl, and another girl stands up for her and tries to be her friend. It ends with the bullied girl taking revenge on the bullies — by killing them. She gets away with it. The teacher said the story was fine as it stood, but it would be better if the bullied girl killed, instead, the girl who’d tried to be her friend. He offered as reason that the friendly girl was doing more harm than good, possibly “holding her back”, whatever that means, by treating her as a precious thing that needs to be protected.
   So, revenge is good. That’s an old problem that seems to follow me around everywhere. That’s nothing new. But think of the other implications, assuming fiction has any bearing on the real world (which this teacher, who writes crime noir for a living, doesn’t seem to think). Kids who now stand up for those being bullied will learn that that’s the wrong thing to do. Kids who are bullied will learn that it’s okay to kill their bullies. Not to mention that we’re lowering the value of life, and all kinds of other minor things. Why shouldn’t we treat people like beings of value who need protection? Being home-schooled must really be an inadequate education if it doesn’t prepare me to stand by without doing anything while other people are injured or killed.
   At the time, as I sat there listening to him talk, my mind jumping around the implications, I was too stunned to know where to start. I’m going to write him, though, and see if maybe he’ll think about it. He’s not philosophical at all, so I don’t expect it will change him. . . but he does need someone to ask the right questions, and no one else is going to.

   Yesterday I got back full responses to my piece that got called a prose poem. One of them goes, in part, like this: “You always talk about the modern world with such disgust and hatred, and though I understand the feeling of being different then [sic] the average person, you don’t express any interest in either learning anything about it, or improving it. You constantly go on about a romanticized version of the past, and talk about how the modern world is so coloroless [sic] and horrible, as if killing people with swords is somehow better than killing people with guns. . . . Try to branch out more, and see the world through your own eyes, as opposed to the eyes of people long dead.”

I’m still laughing at being advised not to see the world through dead peoples’ eyes. I just so happen to write historical fiction, and “seeing the world through the eyes of people long dead” is a good way of describing that when people ask. Except I’m sure he wasn’t intending for me to use his words that way.

   (By the way, to allay your fear, I said nothing about swords being better than guns as far as morality goes. I compared wit to a rapier, which has been done before; I mentioned Aquinas and Francis of Assisi and only two or three people knew who they were; I said the Celts were inclined to fighting; but that was about it. I think killing people with swords is more poetic than with guns in most cases, and allows for more chivalry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s morally right. Murder is still murder no matter how it’s done.)

    The classmate who wrote this response is also the guy who accuses Christians of being hateful bigots, and then goes and says nasty things about us, and the one who told me in class, “This is an outdated idea, and you say you’re a historian”, so we don’t get along perfectly. But still. The piece was mainly about where I come from — my ancestry, pretty much. It’s hard to be entirely present with a topic like that, as the very definition of terms has so much to do with people who have been dead for a while, like Aeneas. (And context also for that repetition of Eyetalian.) I’m not sure where he got the idea that I always talk about the modern world with hatred and disgust, but I don’t think I’m obligated to defend that.

It does make me wonder why I’m even bothering with this. If I’m here to learn how to write, and I’m being taught how to do things all wrong (based, of course, on messed-up presuppositions), wouldn’t it make sense to do something else?

There are occasionally, bright moments in all this. In Aesthetics on Tuesday, the teacher asked how many people thought art a subjective thing, as in, if it makes you feel a certain way, it’s art. When most of them did, he asked questions like, “So is your art as good as Da Vinci’s?” (to which they, being humble, had to say no), and “So there’s no such thing as good or bad art?” and so on. And then the big question: “Do you believe there’s good and bad in morality?” (Uncomfortable silence.) I could have said yes, but he already knows what I think, having had me in Ethics. Also, I’m not a representative sample of the class. Finally someone slowly said yes. “Then why not in art as well?” the teacher said. (Long uncomfortable silence.)
   I’m so very glad there’s someone there who not only believes but teaches absolutes.
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About Nolie Alcarturiel

Christian, student of Philosophy, writer, SCAdian. Crazy cat lady who likes to keep cats and birds at the same time, and who's too young to be called an old cat lady. Medievalist. Creative Writing major, Philosophy minor.
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23 Responses to Long complaint here follows

  1. Christine says:

    I’m just…appalled over not only the story being ABOUT a girl killing (and getting away with it), but the suggestion the teacher made of making it “better”. Just…WHAT??? What is wrong with the world these days? *shakes head*

    I love how you speak up and stand up for your beliefs. I know it must be so hard and frustrating sometimes, but we NEED more people like you. You’re a light in the world. ❤

    Like

    • I know! I’m not against stories that have people committing murder, but it’s *how* you do it, and if it’s portrayed as good, it really makes me wonder. I know some stories show a shocking disregard for life, but it doesn’t come home to you until you hear a teacher recommending that plot twist as a good thing. But this is why we need more good books in the world, to combat this kind of thing, and to give people good alternatives to well-written books with bad morals.

      Thanks. I try. Some days it doesn’t go as well as others, and then there’s days that make you want to cheer.

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  2. thegermangolux says:

    How do swords allow for more chivalry than guns? The sword and the gun have the same purpose and danger; it’s just a matter of distance, sometimes. I could hold a man at gunpoint and tell him to go pay honor to my lady just as easily as I could with a sword. I could subdue a man and spare his life with a gun just as easily as with a sword.

    Swords are more poetic, though. I grant you that.

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    • With swords, you have to be closer to your opponent, and see him for a human being. With guns you can shoot from a distance at a blob without having to think of it as a man who was once born and might have someone who loves him. I don’t know if that makes a lot of sense.
      The teacher’s name is Smith, by the way. I’d recommend him Manalive if I thought he’d ever read it.

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      • thegermangolux says:

        No, it makes sense. I guess what I was sort of going after was that the weapon does not change the nature of mercy or of cowardice. But you’re saying that the weapon doesn’t allow for mercy as easily, which does indeed make sense. Mea culpa.

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      • Right, and mercy is bound up with chivalry to a great degree.

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  3. I understand your point.
    Personally, I think you’ll have an easer time holding someone at gunpoint, rather than sword point. unless, you’ve been secretly practicing your swordsmanship without my knowledge. 🙂

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    • I haven’t been, not with physical swords anyhow, though someday I wouldn’t at all mind learning. Guns seem easier to use for the most part, although if you run out of ammo you’re kind of stuck.

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      • thegermangolux says:

        There’s knifepoint, too. Knives are dangerous even in untrained hands. Get thyself a fixed-blade knife, and learn how to use it.. It might be more your size, and easier to obtain and carry around than a sword or a gun. Not to mention that swords and guns have only one purpose, whereas the uses for a decent fixed-blade are bounded only by the imagination.

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      • You’re not talking about a: K bar, or a V42 I presume!

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      • thegermangolux says:

        Not specifically, no. Those are a little on the large side. But Cold Steel makes excellent knives, in many different designs. At any rate, a Kabar is still easier to handle than a sword, I would imagine.

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      • One of the design features on that knife. that kinda freaks me out is blood grooves like: who does that!

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      • thegermangolux says:

        Sure. Actually, blood grooves have nothing to do with blood. They’re also known as fullers, because a smith uses a fuller tool to create the grooves. Their primary purpose is not to direct blood (nor has it ever been their intended purpose), but rather to decrease the weight of the knife. The fuller takes unnecessary material out of the blade, making it lighter and more flexible.

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      • Thanks! Now it doesn’t seem like the creation of a bloodthirsty inventor.

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      • I leave for a day and come back to this. . .

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      • thegermangolux says:

        What more fruitful conversation than what blood gutters on combat knives are for?

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      • It’s kind of funny how on my posts with the most comments, very few of the comments have anything to do with the topic of the post.

        Last night, though, Jenny and I were talking about some pretty strange things ourselves.

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  4. Katherine says:

    Wow… That’s amazing, in the worst possible way. Way to go though, for standing up for the truth! Keep writing for the glory of God!

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  5. Very interesting! The only secular writing class I’ve been in was online, so things didn’t get quite that intense. 🙂 Like Katherine says, thumbs up and keep standing up for the truth!

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    • I’ve had a few secular writing classes, and this is the only one to be problematic. Most of the time you make a few adjustments for, er, differences in worldview, but what they say about the craft is good. In this class, not so much.

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  6. Clara says:

    One thing is certain, had it been guns, MacIan and Turnbull wouldn’t have made it to chapter V, not to speak of conversion.

    Like

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