Weird Split


January 2, 2015 by Laird

Having read extensively for the Jacksons and the Year’s Best Weird, the major split I’ve seen is between miserablist and non-miserablist philosophy. The latter (especially US writing) favors direct, precipitous action, bombast, and arrogance/ignorance. The former is often driven by themes of impotence, emasculation, and paranoia. Simon Strantzas theorizes that contemporary weird fiction in North America is defined by a “philosopher-explorer mindset.” I think he’s on to something. The loss of empire seems the root of much of British weird’s preoccupation with guilt and suffering.

4 thoughts on “Weird Split

  1. “It’s these feelings of disconnection that form the primary power of the strange tale…” and it seems like it is mostly men who write these themes.

    I have noticed the shift away from the “Great White Male Hope” of late, especially if you have watched the top Disney releases; there is a new theme: women saving women. Maleficent, Frozen, and Brave: women are saving themselves in the movies, and I do hope young girls will grow up not feeling like they have to be “saved” by anyone. However, these men who write the stories where guilt, impotence, etc. are themes – men will have to learn new identities, and get used to not being the center of attention, at least in western culture (since that’s the only culture I am familiar with.)
    ( A side note- why impotence? wouldn’t it be refreshing to not have to continue in a traditional so-called masculine role? I am also a big believer in Men’s rights – for example, if a woman is allowed maternity leave, shouldn’t a man also be allowed this as a right, not a privilege?)
    I work at a large medical school, and there have been many instances of young female residents/doctors whose husbands stay home and raise the kids. I work with an at-home-dad who also has his MFA in writing, so when the kid is asleep or occupied, he can write, and he appears to be happy with this arrangement. So would he fit into the non-miserablist philosophy ? I think so.

    • Fenris Technique says:

      I wouldn’t say there’s a ‘shift away’ so much as an ever-present assault from a gallery of misguided folks who insist on dividing art along the race/gender/age/sexuality lines of the artist or protagonist.

      I can only hope future generations are able to enjoy the female heroines portrayed by Disney without also feeling compelled to disparage another demographic in the same breath. Really, there’s room enough in literature and movies for everyone to be a hero/heroine.

      • Good point, but just so you understand, I have not assigned a value (good or bad) to what is happening in some parts of popular culture. I have just observed that these things (women helping themselves) are being expressed.

  2. Fenris Technique says:

    I appreciate the clarification. I just wanted to voice my firm belief that one can be pro-Elsa without also being anti-Indiana Jones, it’s not a zero sum game. And while a male protagonist in a non-masculine role might be ‘refreshing’, surely we don’t have to kick Conan out of Aquilonia in order for that tale to be told. The tent of human imagination is vast, plenty of room for all, both old and new.

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