January 23rd, 2005

Illustmaker me

A fan love post, with buttons and discussion questions

Alas, I did end up missing the last day of Arisia. It stopped snowing, but the sidewalks were buried and no one had a chance to get to them. I have a feeling that I'll be walking to the bus stop on the side of the street tomorrow. Here's hoping the cars are watching.

Anyway, I always enjoy being around fen, and will report bit by bit on some panel stuff. For now, I want to talk about a panel I attended but didn't sit on, called "Fannish Eye For the Mundane Guy." Now, I wanted to do something with the same title, but actually make over a Mundane, but this isn't it; this was people talking about what it is that makes fen recognize one another, even outside of the cons. Most people talked a bit frankly about the general fannish lack of concern for excessive grooming rituals. ("Why bother with all that make-up and hair-styling?" someone in the audience said. "I'd rather sleep for forty-five minutes more. Or read.") But it's really other things, of course, and even well-groomed fen are fen. We thought of books in people's pockets. I brought up the fannish tendency to know exactly what we like in something (at work, I can usually tell if someone's a good candidate for a culty SF/F book when they ask me for a recommendation if I say, "What did you like about the last book you read?" and they answer in detail, with scenes; the vast majority of people, believe it or not, answer with, "I dunno. My friend was reading it"). There were cultural cues (more later), quirky buttons (again), and a certain level of comfort in one's own skin. So, discussion question the first: What are the tell-tale signs of a fannish person?

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Discussion question the second:

Okay, I was reading a book called Intellecutal Morons, which was slightly disappointing (too much ad hominem, not enough actual refutation of goofy theories), but amusing in light of the fact that it's the only time I've seen Margaret Sanger, Noam Chomsky, Leo Strauss, and Ayn Rand all skewered in the same volume. Which isn't really to say anything, just to set the scene. I'm reading in my dissatisfied but vaguely amused way when the author, in the conclusion, says, "Are the supporters of ______ who deny her early statements about ______ really any different from Star Trek fans who believe their favorite television program is real?"

How jarring was that? Gratuitous fan abuse at best, but mostly very puzzling. So I put the question to fellow fen:

Has anyone met a Trekkie was not considered delusional by other fen who believed that the show was real? Or an HP fan who thought Hogwarts was, or a Star Wars fan who thought the GFFA was? Or, really, any fandom at all. I've known people who've considered putting "Jedi" down as a religion, and a pair of gamers who got married with the bride having her hair done like her character. I've seen pics from SW-style weddings, and heard of one (in a Miss Manners book, no less, in a letter from a panicked mother-of-the-bride trying to word an invitation) in which the bride and groom were having a Betazed-style nude wedding.

But I've never met anyone who actually believes the Federation is real, or any fan who wouldn't think such a person slightly delusional if he did appear. (There are some who might not consider the delusion something in need of curing, but that's a different question.)

What are other people's experiences? It's a stereotype of fans that we've somehow lost touch with reality because we do imaginational play, but I've never met anyone who wasn't aware of, well... playing. Anyone else?