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MIT student blogger Karen F. '11

Neil Gaiman! by Karen F. '11

The uncensored version =P

1. As you apparently know already, Neil Gaiman came to speak at MIT today. Oh man – oh man – it was – just – wow. What a great speaker (and writer). But since Paul freaking liveblogged it (mumbles about Paul being an overachiever =P), there’s not much else to say. Except that the part that Paul was too shy to blog (come on now. we’re all adults) was that Neil Gaiman said his eyes were opened to what genre truly means when he accidentally reviewed a book someone sent him. The book was about porn – and to illustrate his point (what “genre”means), he compared porn to musicals. Both are genres, and both have certain elements that the plot is built around (songs, for example, are the main element of a musical, or in the other case….) that if removed, the reader would feel cheated. See? That wasn’t so bad, Paul =P

Neil Gaiman also mentioned an Australian graphic novel interpretation of The Great Gatsby in which Gatsby is a seahorse when asked if there are any stories that should not be retold. (He said it was fantastic, and after reading he believes nothing is sacred, and people should rewrite everything, preferably turning the main character into a seahorse).

A couple more things he said that I really liked was when he was asked about the common theme of games, dolls and playthings in his novel. Paraphrased, because I’m too afraid to try to quote directly from memory because he was so eloquent and witty (I sound like such a fanboy…er…girl): It’s always dangerous, non-productive or you get lied to when you ask a writer about themes. As a writer you desperately try to write things very different from everything else you’ve written, and then people come along and point out how all of it is the same.

Finally (I’m really not going to go through the whole thing – he was all over the place), the last thing I thought was really really interesting was something he said about magic in America(n literature). In the US, there is very little magic in stories. Even in retold fairy tales, people get amazing feats done by being clever or something, not with any help of something mystical. Obviously this is not a rule – there are always exceptions, but in general, I think that he was pretty spot-on about something I had noticed, but never really given serious thought. None of the fantasy writers I read are American. Hmmm

So yeah. It was pretty awesome. Definitely one of the top five lectures I went to this year. I really loved that the Q and A was 90% not audience driven. Henry Jenkins interviewed him with questions that had been pre-arranged. Considering the people who came up with them – from CMS, presumably – are much more knowledgeable about what to ask than the average person would be, it means that the questions asked were much more beneficial to the audience. You maximize your time and don’t get as many crazies asking annoying/frustrating questions or just randomly commenting on how fantastic you are, Mr. Gaiman, and your books really speak to me and I just think that they’re so wittily reflective of the world and…Yeah. I really liked the pre-arranged interview format.

2. I went to the MIT Logarhythms concert last week. MIT has a lot of acapella groups (the Logs are all-male, the Muses are all female, the Chorollaries are co-ed, Toons are an MIT/Wellesely group, and SyncopAsian is…). and their concerts are pretty entertaining. I believe they come up with their own arrangements for songs and they usually sing pretty well-known stuff (the Logs sang an *NSync song!). Their performances are over-the-top and hilarious – I enjoy them a lot and everyone else does too – that’s probably why there were people sitting in the aisles of our biggest lecture hall for the concert. It was packed! Also, apparently each spring they make a movie and play it during their concert. This year it was “Planet of the Logs.” I love hilariously ridiculous spoof movies in which you can see Tim the Beaver (“the beast”) get speared. I also find it really amusing that the Logs call their freshmen “twigs.” Ahaha. Get it? (Yeah, this is one of those things that I find really funny and no one else does).

3. I mentioned that I have a list of my top lectures from this year. I suppose this would be a good time to tie up those loose ends. Incidentally, this lecture was also by Henry Jenkins, and I believe it’s annual, but I could be wrong. he spoke about Dr. Seuss and his role in our society historically as well as today. The lecture was followed by a screening of the movie The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (apparently Dr. Seuss made a movie. Who knew?) and it was a very refreshing event overall – not something you hear about every day.

4. One of our Amnesty lectures was called “Resistance and Cooptation in Queer and Trans Political Struggles.”What a mouthful of a title, I know. Before the lecture, I wasn’t even really sure what it meant. But basically, Dean Spade spoke about issues facing the queer community today and how those issues are propagated by the way our government is set up, however unintentional and indirect it may be. Then he kind of transcended that and talked about activism in general, and it was pretty progressive stuff and I like progressiveness so it was good to hear from someone who is not, well, me.

Hmm. I am suddenly very lazy and would rather spend my time hanging out with my friends, since they’re all leaving tomorrow. =( (And by “spend time with”, I mean “laugh at while they frantically pack” because I’m not leaving until June 7th, because I got extended housing for free in return for volunteering at Commencement.

More later!
Anyway. More later.

3 responses to “Neil Gaiman!”

  1. MIT Mom says:

    None of the fantasy writers I read are American. Hmmm

    Hi Karen,
    check out a few of my favorite American Fantasy writer:

    *Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley (June 3, 1930 – September 25, 1999) was an American author of fantasy novels such as The Mists of Avalon and the Darkover series.
    *Anne Inez McCaffrey (born April 1, 1926) is an American science fiction author best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series.
    *Katherine (Irene) Kurtz (born 18 October 1944) is the author of numerous fantasy novels, especially the Deryni novels.
    *C. J. Cherryh (born September 1, 1942), aa American science fiction and fantasy author.

  2. Anonymous says:

    To add to that, I don’t suppose you read the Twilight series and The Host both by Stephenie Meyer? =)

  3. Reuben '12 says:

    L. E. Modesitt Jr. has one of the most logical and well-developed magical systems I’ve found. And he’s American.