chordatesrock: TP Link riding Epona, sword drawn (Default)
[personal profile] chordatesrock
I was just reading one of Limyaael's old fantasy rants, specifically the one about disabled characters, and came across something that made me wonder. She was making a relatively good point about disabilities making everyday things hard, not (just) plot-relevant Cool Things, and urged writers to consider, for instance, what issues blind people face in a world designed for sighted people. Those issues, she said, would get worse in a fantasy world unless that world had specialized magic.


Why should there be no fantasy worlds where one or more disabilities are accommodated better than they are here?

Even if they're modern, I don't think mobility canes absolutely need any materials that don't exist in medieval settings. Many fantasy worlds have high illiteracy, so reading print isn't considered a necessary skill. Maybe I haven't considered something obvious here, but there's no reason why it would have to be more difficult. A lot of it would depend on people's attitudes and willingness to accommodate. You know what could affect that? A magic plague that tends to cause blindness in survivors. (In fact, there are real diseases like that, too.) Make it common enough and society has no choice but to accommodate those survivors and build infrastructure with them in mind.

I think it is important to think about how different societies disable people differently (as well as how social standing and other things interact with disability), but modern-day first-world countries are not the most accommodating place that could possibly exist for all disabilities.

If you're writing fantasy, you get to choose how to design your world. You can choose to make your world more ableist and disabling, but there is no law that says all fantasy worlds must be that way. There's nothing wrong with one more ableist world, of course, but is an accommodating fantasy world really unimaginable?


Date: 2012-12-08 06:14 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>She was making a relatively good point about disabilities making everyday things hard, not (just) plot-relevant Cool Things<<

Yes, that's true. It's something I try to incorporate in my writing, and I wish more people would. You don't want it to be a distraction, but it doesn't need to be a big deal, just a little detail here or there will suffice.

>>Those issues, she said, would get worse in a fantasy world unless that world had specialized magic.


Yeah that was my reaction, why? Not having magic in a high-magic setting is a handicap that can be disastrous. But any given physical or mental handicap, it would depend what that culture thinks of it and whether they've bothered to pursue adaptive equipment or spells.

Take World Tree, there was a character who lost an arm and replaced it with a fully functional one made of water, and wanted to improve their water-magic enough to keep a live fish in it. Epic prosthetic. And that was an ordinary kind of thing to do in that setting.

The one time I essentially handwaved a visual handicap, it was to make a point that the little old man in a grungy shop was actually a lot more adept at magic that might be thought at first glance. Because he was blind, but he had magic to give his vision back. Wouldn't be helpful for a person without magic, because he had to recast it periodically; but for him, presto. It was one of several very casual uses of magic that I used to establish his character.

>>Why should there be no fantasy worlds where one or more disabilities are accommodated better than they are here?<<

That would actually be really cool.

In Torn World, the North is pretty accepting but they don't have a lot of technology. The South is mostly intolerant of disability, but there's one culture with a hazardous profession that leaves a LOT of body damage, who are extra tolerant. And they do have tech, about steam level plus some science fantasy goodies. So there are rather clever prosthetics available.

>>Even if they're modern, I don't think mobility canes absolutely need any materials that don't exist in medieval settings.<<

Yep, Rai has one, a collapsible one out of lightweight metal. He's got the social standing and intelligence to bull his way through Southern prejudices (which unfortunately makes him think anyone could do it).

>>I think it is important to think about how different societies disable people differently (as well as how social standing and other things interact with disability)<<

Absolutely. This is why it's important to have different people writing stories, and not choke out the ones with a different perspective. You get to whole new places that way, because what people notice is based on their personality and experiences. It bugs me when aliens or fantasy cultures read not just like humans, but like modern American white people. Come on, China is weirder than that.

One of my science fiction settings, for the poetic series The Clockwork War, had humanity so strapped for personnel that they started putting handicapped soldiers back into action with prosthetics, eventually including stuff reverse-engineered from alien junk. Their choices were adapt or die; they adapted. So it depends a lot on the culture and the context, what the accommodations for disability are.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-08 08:14 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>I had to think seriously about whether or not I would be willing to give up a flesh and blood arm to be able to have one made of water. <<

I think the original character had lost the arm in an accident.

That mod wouldn't tempt me personally, but there are others that might. Swap my crummy eyeballs for better cyber ones? Very likely.

>>I wasn't able to figure out how to navigate your multiple universes (or what all of them are),<<

Sorry, that was me being utterly thoughtless.

World Tree is here, and is not mine but belongs to a friend, used for fiction and roleplaying. The water arm is from the gamebook.

Torn World is here. The North and South are different cultures. Here's Rai. His story arc shows how he learns to compensate for his visual handicap. Brelig is a warsailor missing one hand, for an example of how the Duurludirj are more accepting of disabilities. Marai is a Northern woman who is deaf, for a different social context around disability.

My Serial Poetry page has series listed alphabetically, with links to the published poems. You can find all of The Clockwork War through there. P.I.E. farther down is the one with a private detective of the paranormal who happens to use a wheelchair.

Did I miss anything?

The spell-relieved blindness is in an unpublished story, sorry.

>>One involved quadriplegics and quadruple amputees interfacing with tanks; the other involved a pair of amputees of whom you said, "of course they were brave, they were soldiers." Those were both very good.<<

Yay, I'm glad those worked for you!

>>I think disabled people and women (and, obviously, disabled women) face the problem that Gritty And Realistic fantasy simply must show them being marginalized, or it isn't Gritty And Realistic.<<

That's a definite problem. And it makes people ask for things. One of my most popular series, Path of the Paladins, has a very high grit factor. Both of the main characters are women with PTSD, which appears in several of the poems. None of that is why they're marginalized; that part is due to their religious affiliation. People wanted to read about a paladin who wasn't all shiny and perfect, and this is what I got. (You can find this on the Serial Poetry page.)

>>Disabled people, though... those sorts of worlds tend to simply erase us, don't they?<<

Yes, a majority of fantasy either glosses over disability (high) or uses it as local color (low).

>> (Who wants Terribly Sad and Painful disability getting all over an escapist world, after all? Besides me, I mean. And you.) <<

A fair chunk of my readers, apparently. They didn't go for The Clockwork War very much -- that's one of the few series that I pushed. They are all over Path of the Paladins and they seem increasingly fond of P.I.E. It's almost always the characters that drive it. I've only got one major series based on setting/idea, and a few minor ones. The vast majority are character stories.

>> Unless they're writing Compelling and Deep narratives that Explore Important Questions when they use their stories to ask whether it's worth destroying a person's talents and passions and even self to make xem normal. <<

I love compelling and deep narratives but ... I'm into different ones. Like Rai's story arc is about his tendency to make Rai-shaped holes in anything that stands between him and his goals. He just refuses to let his handicap stop him. Brenda's storyline, in P.I.E., began with me whining, "I am SO sick of urban fantasy where the hera puts up with jerktastic boyfriends." So I wrote something different -- and there was Brenda, in her wheelchair, blowing off two hawt guys for a scruffy sweetcake. She just doesn't let her limitations really limit her; she finds ways to work around them. This week she chewed up and spit out the trope that handicapped people shouldn't play rough because "they might get hurt." And "Shiny New Toys" sold in full, didn't even go to microfunding.

>>The more I think about it, the more I want to see someone write that world where blindness is normal. The trick would be to set a story in it that isn't About Blindness (with capital letters for Seriousness and Very Specialness).<<

I've seen it done at least once in science fiction, by another author, with an alien race that was touch-dominant. That was cool. I did one myself, fantasy side, long ago, on the theme that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is mad. I'm not sure where I'd go with the idea today; probably somewhere different than either.

Well, the January 8 fishbowl has a theme of "military science fiction." Superweapon, combat damage, hostile lasing, whatever; it's not a stretch to blot out vision in most or all of a population in SF warfare. Drop by and ask for what you want, and I'll write you a poem.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-09 12:54 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>I would rather be able to see ultraviolet. I can think of many uses for that sight, including being able to tell at a glance whether I could synthesize vitamin D at a given time of day.<<

I can see a little into ultraviolet. I mostly use it for identifying which rocks glow under black light, which things are glow-in-the-dark, which glass is made with real cobalt, and breaking camouflage on insects.

>>I would've replied to this sooner had I not immediately gotten sidetracked reading about Rai and the Clockwork War. I like the Clockwork War, actually.<<

Yay! I'm glad you're enjoying those.

>>The paladins sound like the most interesting thing I've heard of in a while, but the Clockwork War was listed higher up on the page, so I got sidetracked and haven't read Path of the Paladins yet.<<

That's okay. I'll be interested in your opinion on Paladins whenever you get down that far.

>> I like deep and compelling narratives, too, when they're actually deep and compelling, as opposed to narratives that reinforce the idea that disability is worse than literally everything else under the guise of Asking Hard Questions. <<

I'm inclined to say that there are worse things than disability, at least in the short term. Catch is, almost all the things that are drastically worse have a high risk of causing disabilities such as depression or PTSD. Getting tortured, for example, is a more miserable experience than vision impairment. It can be over quickly. But it tends to leave lasting damage on the inside, even if none of that shows on the outside.

>> (Protip: if most of society agrees with your take on it, except the people you said or implied would be better off dead, you are doing something very wrong.) <<

*laugh* Hell yes.

>> Brenda sounds very interesting, though. <<


>>By the way, the juxtaposition of your comment about Rai-shaped holes with the next sentence about him not letting blindness stop him made me imagine, momentarily, that he had a clear central field of vision shaped eactly like his own sillhouette. ;) It was a funny thought.<<

Heh, I must remember that one for possible use elsewhere. It could work in a magical setting.

>>Hmm, touch-dominant aliens sound very interesting. What book was this?<<

Federation World by James White. It has a bunch of different alien-contact events scrolled together into a novel; that one is toward the middle.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-09 08:19 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>What does ultraviolet look like?>>

Amarklor and kalish. (Klingon reference from a Star Trek novel.)

To me, the color aspect of it is kind of like a deeper, richer indigo. That's how I can distinguish the cobalt from other blue glass colorings. Often the ultraviolet is not a color, but an extra brightness. Things that will glow or reflect black light are shinier to me. And I suspect it plays into my very high-resolution color perception, in much the same way that people with ordinary eyes see more precise colors than people who are color-blind. The more base colors you perceive, the more combinations you get.

Oh, and I can see yellow-blue too, which supposedly humans can't because of the way cells in the eye register light. That one may be a Celtic thing. Gaelic has a word for yellow-grey, and I've seen that color, which is similar in many ways to yellow-blue.

>>I got to The Ones They Leave Behind and started crying.<<

*hugs* Yeah, it's a hanky series. I'm glad you responded so strongly to that poem -- not as many people relate to Larn as to Ari, but in this storyline the ordinary people matter too. They're the ones who hold together what's left of this poor world, while the paladins and heroes try to fix what's broken.

>> This series seems to tug at the reader's emotions more than your other work <<

Path of the Paladins is probably my most intense series in terms of emotion. The tone of what I write varies a great deal, though. You're seeing some extremes ...

>>(that I've read so far, which is just the Clockwork War, several stories about Rai, one about a sea monster named Stormy and The Wingdresser's Kitchen).<<

... because Clockwork War is one of my rare story-of-idea series rather than focusing on characterization.

>>Your other work is more intellectually interesting and raises questions more than it stirs emotions.<<

They have different themes, across the poetic series and other projects. I do love provoking questions! With emotions, I can aim light or dark. Hart's Farm is usually warm-fuzzy comfort reading. Monster House ranges from humor to downright creepy suburban dark fantasy. Fledgling Grace, like Paladins, is about spirituality and it spans the numinous and the wrenching -- which all began with "The Wingdresser's Kitchen," a fairly straight transposition of hair care to wing care issues.

>>Yes, that does complicate things. PTSD, depression and chronic pain can all be arbitrarily bad.<<

How they're treated, or even whether they can be treated, vary stupendously across speculative settings. In some worlds, a healer can fix (at least some types of) depression. Phantom pain and phantom limbs appear both in science fiction and fantasy, sometimes done amazingly well.

One of the most intense SF stories I've written, sadly unpublished yet, was "Pebbles from the River Lethe." It's a deep, subjective view of PTSD and what happens when the protagonist discovers something on an alien planet that can blur the edges of it. Lethe is the most devastating drug in my main SF universe, because it can actually deliver what every other drug only pretends to offer: it can make you forget your problems. Under the right conditions, it's a lifesaver. Under the wrong conditions, it's a great way to blow your brains out.

>>They can also be the effect of ableism, which means that, technically, other disabilities can lead to them.<<

In my observation, that's most likely with depression; because any horrible treatment, especially long-term without a visible escape, tends to make people depressed. PTSD is more often a result from sudden shock, although it can be a mass effect. Ableism, like any discrimination, raises the risk factors for multiple health problems.

>>For instance, people with communication impairments may be singled out for mistreatment on the theory that they won't be able to testify against whoever hurts them.<<

Particularly in speculative fiction, there are other handicaps or conditions that invite prejudice and, therefore, raise the risk of attack because those people will not be heard if they complain.

In Fledgling Grace, it's the fledermäuse. Cat Faber wrote a song inspired by that, "Take These Wings," that goes into the subjective experience of such prejudice. Then I picked up the thread with "Devil's Advocate," and I'm still not done with this subplot. This is a good example of something that isn't physically dysfunctional, but does perform differently than its socially acceptable counterpart and is frowned upon.

>>I suppose a better way to restate that, then, is that disabilities that are not characterized by arbitrarily great amounts of suffering are not the worst thing ever.<<

Agreed. Some are just different experiences. Some are inconvenient and frustrating. And some are potentially life-shattering.

One distinction I tend to draw is between handicapped (limited in ways that most people aren't, but still substantially functional) and crippled (unable to do so many things that life becomes an unrelenting struggle and little if anything can be accomplished beyond survival). Adaptive equipment and social support -- or lack thereof -- can make a big difference where a given disability or individual falls on that spectrum.

>>Thank you; that sounds like an interesting book.<<

I enjoyed it. Actually, I recommend James White to you in general. He wrote excellent classic SF, with very thoughtful attention to the challenges and experiences of different species. Look for the Sector General books too. His stuff is usually available in used-book stores.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-11 09:36 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>I don't think you needed that poem to show that ordinary people matter. Shahana and Ari feel very ordinary to me, in that they don't feel like people outside the ordinary run of humanity.<<

For me it's about, hm, different types of important actions. Shahana and Ari are out doing hero things: going around looking for problems to solve, even though they have the feel of ordinary people (which they are, at heart). Larn and some of the other characters are doing, or at least trying to do, the everyday stuff required to keep things going: raising crops, making tools, etc. Because the heroes don't have time for that, yet they still need to eat and wear clothes. I've often thought that fantasy stories leave out the consequences of rampaging all over a landscape with war and dark magic -- so this one is worn very thin. All that stuff the heroes use has to come from somewhere. So there are glimpses of that.

>>By the way, I just read Purity, and I thought it was very powerful that nothing other people did to her could take away Ari's ability to attract unicorns.<<

Yay! Unicorns perceive the world very differently than humans do. The mythic explanation of it is, therefore, out of focus. It is not about doing, but about being or feeling.

>>Fantastic prejudices are very interesting. They always fill me with a strong urge to say "Does This Remind You Of Anything?"<<

One of the first things I do with any society, fictional or literal, is look for its outcasts. Nothing is all-inclusive, though by gods I've seen a few try for it and come close. What they leave out will tell you more about the culture than just about anything else. Some are duplicates or very close analogs of contemporary prejudices. Some are based on straightforward things not generally considered in mainstream culture (like not having magic = disability). But some are just amazingly unique.

One of my favorites comes from the Cani of World Tree -- there are two emotions unique to their race, which form a mainstay of their culture, and people who don't experience those are ostracized. It's not just a social decision to look down on them: there's a practical aspect because they can't perform fundamental social interactions properly. Being nose-deaf is another one, which is comparable to blindness or audio deafness for a human. Things like that make interesting handicaps in game play because they directly impact what your character can and can't do.

You really want to learn about a disability you don't have, get a clever game master to run you through a campaign playing a character with it. I can be ruthless with players, and still make it fun. And I've played characters with handicaps, or traits that had handicap-like effects (the mass of a centaur does not mix fluently with objects made for humanoids).

>> Your distinction sounds like one where drawing a line would be difficult. <<

It can be more of a spectrum, rather than a pair of pigeonholes, because there are so many affecting factors.

>>society (a society that plans for and accommodates a particular condition as a matter of course typically means that people with that condition aren't disabled, and a society where people with a given condition are disabled is worse when its people hold ableist attitudes)<<

That reminds me of how Torn World has two different forms of dwarfism. One is a condition that just makes people small; it doesn't raise the chance of having other defects. So to the Duurludirj, dwarves are normal-sized and tall people are "giants." Not a problem because they build things to suit. But the Northern version is a genetic disease that usually warps the body in other ways beyond size; club feet are common, and chronic pain isn't rare. The characters across those two versions tend to have very different experiences.

>>Model makes its distinctions between impairment (what problems your condition causes) and disability (what problems society causes for you that it doesn't for other people).<<


>>Also, a disability can prevent you from taking care of yourself on your own without preventing you from performing productive work (for instance, a C1 complete quadriplegic would be perfectly capable of composing poetry or any other written works, but not of feeding xyrself or even breathing unaided).<<

Also true. It annoys the crap out of me, the way society wastes human potential. We shouldn't have unemployed people because there's no shortage of stuff that needs done. Almost everyone is capable of doing something -- although I wouldn't hinge survival on that, because for some people the ability isn't consistent or marketable.

>> I'm unclear as to whether your classification system would consider such a person handicapped or crippled. Is xe crippled because xe needs pervasive support? Or is xe merely handicapped because xe has something xe can do? <<

Could go either way. I tend to think of "crippled" as being blocked from doing what one does well, enjoys, and finds useful. A paraplegic with a nonphysical skill would be handicapped. One attached only to physical skills and pleasures, and unable to adapt, would be crippled. So there's a physical aspects, a social aspect ... and an internal aspect based on personality and potential.

>>I find it somewhat useful to divide disabilities up in a few different ways, with none of them covering every aspect of distinctions in experience.<<

That is an awesome list and you should totally write it up for [community profile] accessportrayal. Some of those are aspects I'd thought of before, others not, and they're all relevant to characterization in fiction as well as real-world impact.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-12 06:14 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>> I typically think that doing is more important than feeling, and being can be mostly about trying and doing.<<

Doing is more important if it's about a decision. But think how much feelings drive people: most decisions are made based on emotion or faith, not facts. (I wish this were not so.) Being is something you can't get away from no matter how much you try, and questions about a person's inner nature are also integral to this series. Who you are is who you are. What you do about that is your choice. Have you met Johan yet, in "Stained" ...? Poor guy, he's a great example of how inner nature remains constant in the face of (sometimes epically bad) decisions or the world trying to stop you flat as a rug. But they are all interconnected, being and feeling and doing.

>>Nonetheless, I like that somebody else's actions couldn't destroy something fundamental and important in Ari.<<

What someone else does to you ... can affect you, sometimes a lot, but doesn't necessarily change you. Who you are will influence how you respond.

>>That sounds like a very interesting thing that I could apply to fanfic, and your fictional culture sounds interesting, too. What are the emotions?<<

The emotions are salaffan and deffa. Cani feel these after completing a ritual competition called a choof which establishes affan or situational authority. These emotions create a positive relationship between the competitors, a sense of satisfaction, which is temporary but very good at minimizing hostilities. Along with this comes an intricate awareness of rank, social role, and talent which pervade Cani culture.

Say you have a Cani family, the affan-cook is in charge of meals and the affan-weaver in charge of the daily work of making cloth to support everyone. Each defers to the other's specialty. There are all kinds of rules about how and when to choof; the urge is instinctive and Cani grow up doing it.

Now imagine somebody who can't perceive those relationships clearly, and blunders through attempts to mimic what normal Cani do effortlessly, until quite soon nobody wants them around. They often wind up avoiding Cani and instead associating with the other races who don't have those emotions.

There's a little of this in Bard Bloom's writing, and a lot of information about the Cani and other prime races in the role-playing game. The mechanics support various social, physical, and magical disabilities so this is a good game for exploring that sort of thing ... probably for experienced players because it's pretty complicated. But you can do stuff with it that most games just don't touch.

>>I would love to learn to play those kinds of games. How do you do that?<<

Okay, roleplaying is easy to learn. It's just make-believe or improvisational acting with rules to provide useful structure. You can find games and people to play with at a local gaming shop, or online, or various other places.

I recommend starting at the easy end, and you will need a game whose mechanics support social aspects. To complex and you'll get lost; and the typical hack-and-bash won't suit your needs. A good game master with the right game can get you started in less than an hour.

My go-to company for both of these factors is Atomic Sock Monkey. Their PDQ core rules are utterly elegant: simple, powerful, and flexible. Both the original PDQ core rules and one of the dressed-up versions, PDQ#, is available free. My favorite game for personal growth or discovery is Dead Inside. Its rules are tailored for exactly that purpose. Any of the idiom games are good if you know the base material really well; I've got Truth & Justice (superheroes) and Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (romantic adventure).

World Tree is a heavy-duty social game; its tagline is actually "a role-playing game of species and civilization." It's high magic with each prime race having different abilities. Very flexible, but the rules are much more complex, so it's better after you've tried a simpler game first to learn the basics.

I don't recommend trying the common games for personal growth, unless your game master is an expert and can bend the rules a bit. Things like Dungeons & Dragons are designed mainly for combat and adventure. My friends and I ran a social-heavy game on that in high school but, well, we kind of did all the impossible things and some of those stories are probably still floating around the gaming community. So it's possible, but the game doesn't aim for it.

>>I did pick up on how you shifted what normal was with the Duurludirj. I like it when people show a society whose normal is not our normal, and show it honestly.<<

Yay! I'm happy to hear that.

>>What, you hadn't heard of the Social Model before?<<

Not in so many words.

>> I'm surprised because I thought that it was usually through understanding the Social Model that people came to stop being ableist (or at least, try to stop being ableist; maybe we still fail sometimes, but we try). <<

I guess if people take a structured path, that's a likely one. Most of the folks I know either never were ableist or lost it via personal experience.

>>Did you manage to come to most of your understanding of disability on your own?<<

I've come to an understanding of almost everything on my own. I came into this life with a considerable amount of culture and awareness already in place. This has its ups and downs. I just don't take social things at face value and use them right out of the box. So I'm differently civilized, with beliefs and practices compiled from many sources. I never fit perfectly anywhere; I'm never all one thing. Some people find this appealing. Most find it unbearable.

With disability, as with most things, it just doesn't occur to me to expect less of people. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses; there's a bunch of stuff my body won't do, or won't do very well, and even most able-bodied people have some nonstandard weak point. I think most prejudices are stupid. There are disabilities I don't do very well around for other reasons, but it doesn't make me think differently of the people. This is just one of the ways in which my thought processes tend to work very differently from average.

It makes it a lot easier for me to write speculative fiction.

>>Hmm, that idea reminds me of socialism.<<

I really admire the fundamental principle "from each according to ability, to each according to need." A lot of traditional cultures work that way. Beyond the tribal level, though, people seem to suck at applying it. That's very disappointing.

>> I find it interesting how much some disability rights writers draw on those ideas. Do you think that's because disproportionately many such writers benefit from social welfare programs?<<

Quite possibly.

The thing is, people with disabilities often need some level of accommodation -- special equipment, more flexible hours, etc. -- in order to function well. If they get that, they can do something useful. Most people want to do things that matter; sometimes a job, but it could be a hobby, a family, religious work, etc. Without that, they tend to become depressed, which is a huge problem among certain groups like elders and the unemployed. So it seems important to find ways for everyone to contribute to society. A society that wastes people is like an engine with loose parts rattling around; it's going to run badly and break down a lot faster.

Conversely, I'm not okay with seeing people only in terms of their usefulness to someone else. You shouldn't have to be pleasing just to survive. In a society with plentiful resources, everyone's basic needs should be met. It's evil to let people suffer or die needlessly -- it harms not only them, but also those who watch and do nothing.

>>Either way, "a physical aspect, a social aspect and an internal aspect based on personality and potential" is the best, most concise statement I've yet read about why the social model is very good, but not totally complete. <<

*bow, flourish* Happy to be of service.

I have found very few systems that are complete and cover everything. Usually there are gaps, or a system is only designed to cover one dimension of an issue. So I spend a lot of time pulling things from different places and combining them to form a more complete model or analysis of things. If the blind men had cooperated instead of arguing, they could've built a pretty good composite elephant.

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-12 08:06 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
>>Yes, I agree with what you're saying. I don't like some of the connotations that people who say things like that typically assign to those ideas.<<

I often find that the things I say are valid the way I apply them, but resemble things applied insanely by other people. It causes problems. This is difficult to avoid because I cannot track everything that the stupid people are doing.

>> I have read Stained already, but no farther, so yes, I've seen Johan.<<


>> For instance, even though I know intellectually that pity is almost always the wrong response, I still sometimes feel it if I've just learned about or just started thinking about a particular disability. <<

Pity as an emotion is a slightly bent version of compassion. People feel what they feel, and bugging them about their emotions is not okay.

Pitying someone as an action is where it becomes a problem and people should learn not to do it. So that's mostly about etiquette, learning what is and isn't considered acceptable in a given context.

>>What I've found effective against that is actually the opposite of what most disabled people recommend, but ties very well into what you recommend: I imagine (someone-- myself, a fictional character, it doesn't matter) trying to achieve goals with that disability.<<

That also works in terms of thinking up good questions to ask, if you're going to interact with the person. Okay, new person has X condition; what does that mean in terms of writing a ritual they can enjoy? Or putting food on the table? Or going to the mall?

Just being around someone with a handicap can be very enlightening. Like realizing a quarter-inch crack can stop an electric wheelchair. There are things you just won't notice until they happen to or around you, unless someone writes a very detailed guide.

>>That does explain, though, why, when we've interacted through access_fandom, your responses sometimes seem odd, almost like you're talking... slantwise to what I said. That makes sense if your background is completely different from what I assumed.<<

My academic background is in literature, gender studies, and widely assorted sciences. The activism I grew up with; disability activism is just one I've picked up based on who's around and what news is pissing me off.

Another thing is ... poetry says slant what is difficult or impossible to say directly. That colors much of what I do.

>>(Having said that, I would like to clarify that I'm not complaining. Everything I've read from you so far has been insightful, interesting or both.)<<

Oh, good. I have an online following of folks who like my perspectives, but sometimes I really rub people the wrong way.

>>People do behave differently in groups of different sizes, don't they? It's very interesting. Fantasy should deal with that more.<<

Very differently. The type of the group matters too. I had no idea that I had a group-function mode until I was in high school. I disliked crowds and parties and things that other people found fun. Gradually I found a small number of friends whose company I enjoyed. And then I discovered conventions and that was just mind-blowing, that there existed a space in which I would be wildly popular and even be able to pull the extrovert trick of gaining energy from a crowd.

Feel free to prompt me for the group-size idea some time. I agree that it would be interesting to explore in fantasy.

>>Yes, most systems are very incomplete and simplified. They have to be to serve their purposes. I think many are good starting points, though, and they can be very useful for communicating with other people.<<

Also, it often helps to break a large problem into pieces of manageable size. When you start trying to put everything together ... well, not even Stephen Hawking has finished a Theory of Everything yet. (Quantum physics is another of my hobbies.)

Re: Yes...

Date: 2012-12-13 11:27 pm (UTC)
natalief: (me-child)
From: [personal profile] natalief
As those of us with MS know, it is not merely a chronic fatigue/pain condition but can also cause blindness, paralysis and all of the other disabilities that you mention.

P.S. I am also here via ysabetwordsmith's LiveJournal.

Date: 2012-12-09 05:12 pm (UTC)
rowyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rowyn
Off the top of my head, I can think of two fantasy series with major characters who have disabilities -- George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife.

Date: 2012-12-09 10:00 pm (UTC)
rowyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rowyn
Most of the cultures in a A Song of Ice and Fire are generally harsh in their treatment of people with disabilities (it's a world-spanning series and I haven't read them in several years, so I hesitate to make characterizations about all of the cultures), and that Martin gave not only treatment of various disabilities some thought, but also mechanisms for coping with them. The cultures in The Sharing Knife are more tolerant but still less so than, eg, modern America.

These series came to mind because I thought the characters with disabilities are well-handled in terms of portraying them as fully-realized and interesting people. Their disabilities have a real impact on their lives in ways large and small, but "being disabled" is not by any means the most important character trait for any of them.


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