Oryo's Corner

The Western-Eastern Couch

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A few thoughts

1. The author and his/her children

So, I did post a comment to the last of GRRM's entires about fanfiction, and that's what I wrote:

In regards to the readers' or fans' reactions to the characters or the world, the author has to let go, as harsh as it sounds. Seeing the characters as children is actually a very apt metaphor, because parents have to let their children go once they are old enough and let them make their own experiences and meet people with the disapproval of their parents. In the consequences, the children will affect other people without direct involvement of their parents and will incite incalculable reactions.

Books are just the same, once they are printed and published, they are out of reach for the author. Authors can not control the reactions to their texts. They might disapprove of those reactions, but they can not forbid them or prevent them. The interactions with the text, including fanfiction, will just happen with or without consent of the author.

Fanfiction has only a little bit to do with the original author who is the aknowledged creator, because it consists of stories from fans for fans. It could be considered as an exclusive dialogue between readers over the text, independently of the quality.

The internet has certainly changed the forms of the readers' dialogue over the text and has contributed to a greater publicity of this dialogue, compared to the Symposion of Plato. ;) But I don't think that this increase of publicity will stop within the next years/decades, so people will continue to post their fantasies over imaginary characters on the internet with or without consent of the author and the readers will continue to feel insulted when authors call them immoral or pervert.

I can understand that authors want to protect their characters, just as parents want to protect and guide their children, but, as I said, once the book is in the hands of a reader, the further consequences are out of their reach. The moral conflict between authors and readers (and the reason for the passion in this discussion) arises from the conflicting relations to the text and the characters, the author considers those readers who write new stories about his/her characters basically as robbers or (in the worst case) as rapists, while the readers consider themselves as lovers of the characters and the disaproving author as the father/mother-in-law from hell. ;)  However, authors can ignore the existence of fanfiction or say that they don't want to know about it, and imo, that is the only solution that settles the matter for both sides.

I hope I was polite enough, but I don't think there will be any reaction. I hadn't planned on dogpiling at first, but the last entry touched exactly some of my problems with authors and their need for control over the reactions to the printed text. I can understand that it is very hard for authors to let go, when their work is done, but ulitmately, I think they have to, once their characters are out in the world. 
I do understand the author's wish to protect his/her creation, but I also think that it is impossible for him to do so (independently of copyright issues), because the book exists independently of the author. I also tend to consider the opinion of the creator very interesting, but also as secondary to the interpretation of the text/movie/TV show/animation etc.. That's different from having insight in the social or cultural background of any given author/creator in order to place him or her in a certain frame of reference. I remember that the discussions about female characters in the Prince of Nothing trilogy would lead to the author coming and basically telling the readers that they are interrogating his work from the wrong perspective, and while Bakker is free to do so and free to assume that those who don't like his books are not intelligent enough to understand, he can not control how people react to the tropes, used in his works or how they interpret his characters and their issues.

2. Movie recommendations: Karin Albou: Le chant des mariées (The Wedding Song)

We have an Arabian movie week, and yesterday, I went to watch the mentioned movie. I tried to find out something more about Karin Albou, but I couldn't find out more than that she lives in Paris, some parts of her family are "pieds noirs" (of North African origin) and has made only a few movies: two of them  "Le chant des  Mariées" and "La petite Jérusalem" thematise questions of Jewish identity. "Le chant de mariées" is set in 1942/43 in Tunis during the few months of German occupation and narrates the story of two young women, Nour (a Muslim) and Myriam (a Jewish girl), who are neighbours and best friends. While the story also includes their relations with the men in their life, their friendship is the center of the movie. The movie is on one side very intimate and sensual, on the other side very unsettling due to the political situation and due to some of the cultural implications. It was in many ways eye-opening, because I didn't know about that chapter of WWII before, nor was I aware of the tensions between Muslims and Jews in the Maghreb. The German propaganda did anything to fuel those tensions, and the Jewish population of Tunis was foced to pay fines for the allied bombardements. This fine was an important plot point, because the financial situation of Myriam and her widowed mother leads to Myriam's engagement and later marriage with a wealthy doctor.

All this considered, the movie makes the attempt to paint a multi-facetted picture of the period, the characters have more than one dimension. One example is Nour's father who is an obstacle to her freedom and reigns over a pretty stiffling house, but when he finds out that she knows to read the Quran, he indicates her a sura that contains a positive portrayal  of other religions. Another example is Raoul, Myriam's fiancé, who appears in a very unsympathetic light at first, but turns out a very decent man, thought still way too old for her. ;)  The ending was pretty much open, ending with the two girls meeting and comforting each other in one of the bomb shelters while the whole situation was still hanging. 

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That movie sounds interesting!

It made me think of you and some of your comments, regarding Jewish history in Algeria. :)

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The movie was very interesting, but also very intimate. I don't how I would have felt when I had watched it together with someone I knew. ;)

It's certainly a part of history that is not widely known.

Agreed. There was nothing disrespectful in what you said and it is a fair enough point of view.

I hope I was polite enough, but I don't think there will be any reaction.

It seemed polite to me. I think you made a good point - although I can understand why authors may not be keen about fan fiction or may be dismissive about it I think complaining about it is likely to be futile.

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