I’ve received a few messages this week asking me about my biography. This came up because of a meme I did, and I flatter myself other people may be interested:
(1) I’m actually German-American, not German per se. Maternal grandmum was born in Germany. Mum was the generation that was born half here, half there, and I’m the first generation fully born on this continent. But my grandmum had a stroke just before I was born and had to relearn English, and I spent pretty much all day most days for the first eighteen or so months of my life at her house listening to my mum and her speak German. I heard some English, too, but definitely more German so that’s what I picked up first.
I was fluent until my German cousins (one family in particular I visited regularly, alternating summers and Christmas, throughout my teenage years) wanted to improve their English and so stopped talking to me in German. Now, sadly, it’s a struggle. I can read road signs and menus with no trouble at all but if I need to read literature or philosophy I really have to concentrate at it, and sometimes can’t manage so well.
(2) I grew up in the Carolinas: South Carolina until my early teenage years, very northwest corner of NC (I could see TN from my window, and VA from my brother’s, though sadly a mountain blocked out KY…) afterwards. I moved around for grad school, eventually landing in NYC. But I really am sensitive to people calling people from the South hicks in internet forums (happens more than you’d think - one of the last acceptable prejudices in a lot of ways).
So now you know. :-)
I’ve been reading a lot of very good meta over the last few weeks for some reason (well, because it’s very good meta is obviously the reason I’m reading it, but why I’m finding so much of it recently…).
Anyway. The thing that struck me is this disconnect I see between their skill sets and my own. I am not without training, or talent, and I’m not trying to be falsely humble here. But the training I have is in a very different area. I’m a former philosophy doctoral student, which means I’m trained in a certain variety of very rigorous thought. I also know that the way we use certain concepts like responsibility, equality, justice, good versus great, friendship, love, even reason — all extremely applicable to the Sherlock Holmes story in any version, particularly BBC — have very different meanings depending on who’s talking about them, and those different meanings effect the questions we’re trying to ask. To give one example, I’d say Sherlock is John’s friend in some senses but not in others, and again, he’s responsible for the mess of the St. Bart’s roof scene in some but not others. I can write analyses with the best of them on these topics. I’ve done a bit of that, and I’ve done my best to make them accessible as best I can, because as a grad student I was of course an instructor and before that I tutored. It’s what I’m trained to do, and what I love doing.
What I’m not trained to do is analyze cinematography and literary theory and the narrative structure. And that’s the disconnect I keep coming up against. Because what I can offer is an analysis of (say) whether Sherlock would be responsible for “dying” if he were a real person, or whether Mary is more blameworthy for shooting Sherlock than Sherlock is for fake-killing himself or for killing Magnussen again if he were a real person; I’m less able to look at the constructs of what we expect in a story and evaluate events at that level.
Which makes me wonder if I’m qualified to write what we call meta. I’m not saying I’m going to stop doing what I do (which really should involve more fic-writing anyway! Haven’t touched those beta revisions in weeks now). It’s more that I’m not sure whether it’s meta in the usual sense. Certainly it makes me more aware of how awesome what those people who can work in those more lit-theory and cinematography concepts really are, and how valuable their comments and essays are to the rest of us trying to think all that through.
Right, so either Mycroft is a world-class can-can girl, or Sherlock is doing a handstand wearing high-heels just to be the tall one again.
Either is entirely too plausible, to be honest. Also, awesome.