Archive for August 19th, 2011

by lizard

This week I’m glad to see end for various reasons included the birthday of the notorious Charles Bukowski (August 16th), so naturally I figured if nothing else came up, a celebration of this grit-driven poet would be fun to put together. I could start by describing my introduction to the dirty old man during my first summer in Missoula—the summer that saw a downtown riot, blazing wild fires, and clusters of Rainbow kids left over from their Montana gathering. I partied with these random dudes at their Northside pad, and after the joint made its rounds, one of ’em snatched up a book and started a boisterous performance. I was floored.

So yes, this week’s LWPS will include a Bukowski poem or two, but a recent back and forth got me thinking about something else. I found myself in the peculiar position of defending my appreciation for the imaginative writing of fantasy author George R.R. Martin, who has come under some criticism for the serial adaptation of his book series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

The criticism leveled against Martin claims his material is misogynistic…so when I held him up as an example of imagination, the implication leveled against me is that my imagination is tainted by that alleged misogyny.

In a recent Google-driven question/answer session, Martin had this to say:

Martin, asked about whether he has any insight into women in power — since he writes so many of them — ends up talking about the demands of power in general.

“I don’t know if I have any particular views about women in positions of power, though I do think it’s more difficult for women, particularly in a Medieval setting,” he says. “They have the additional problem that they’re a woman and people don’t want them in a position of power in an essentially patriarchal society.”

But what seems to be closer to his heart, is the notion that anyone who must wield power will face enormous challenges.

You have to “show that this stuff is hard,” he says. “An awful lot of fantasy, and even some great fantasy, falls into the mistake of assuming that a good man will be a good king, that all that is necessary is to be a decent human being and when you’re king everything will go swimmingly.”

Even Tolkien, who he respects greatly (“All modern fantasy flows from Tolkien, he says), has this problem.

“Aragorn is king now and the land will propser and the crops will be good and justice for all and the enemies will all be defeated,” he says of the ending of The Return of the King. “You never get into the nitty gritty of Aragorn ruling and what is his tax policy and what are his views on crop rotation — these are the hard parts of ruling, be it the middle ages or now.”

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