September 22nd, 2006

ozarque figure

The Inherited Obligations Family/Negotiated Commitments Family, continued....

I agree with libertarianhawk that the Inherited Obligations/Negotiated Commitments (IO/NC) model should be perceived as a continuum rather than as an either/or binary split; that's what lets a solidly IO individual like me add someone to my family -- and therefore to the network of obligations -- despite the fact that there's no bloodlink between the two of us.

And I know no reason why the Inherited Obligations family can't sit down together and negotiate what the inherited obligations are to be. That is, except at the most extreme end of the continuum, I know no reason why the obligations in an IO family have to be identical for every such family, any more than the commitments in an NC family have to be identical for every such family.

Example ... a small example, but adequate to demonstrate the point: Christmas presents.

Christmas at my house has in the past often meant a very large group of people and very large piles of presents, the opening of which was a public event observed by one and all. For some of my adult children a point was reached when the standard obligation -- "When you give me a Christmas present I have to give you a Christmas present" -- became a burden that threatened to make Christmas an occasion for dread instead of for rejoicing. This was complicated by the fact that some of the family-members-in-law came from families where the standard inherited obligation went like this: "When you give me a Christmas present I have to give you a Christmas present that's equally expensive."

My adult children (my chadults) therefore negotiated an Obligation Modification: that none of the chadults would give each other presents during the big family Christmas bash at my house. Presents would be given to the elders there; presents would be given to the children there; but the middle generation would not participate in the gift exchange.

This solved the problem, turned the annual celebration back into a celebration, and in no way weakened the network of obligations. Furthermore, there is a legitimate sense in which refraining-from-giving-a-gift is a gift -- a gift of release from public competition, a gift of release from public embarassment, and a gift of freedom to just have a good time.
ozarque figure

Writing science fiction poetry; metaphors...

My thanks for all your comments about whether there is or is not a unifying science fiction metaphor for use in writing sf poetry that's comparable in power to the Old West metaphor available to those who write Cowboy Poetry; I appreciate your help. And I'm not giving up; I'm still stalking that unifying metaphor, because it may very well be hiding in the undergrowth somewhere, and I need it.

Among those comments was this one from wizwom:

"I find it very interesting that in your mind you obviously conflate these two genres. To me, Fantasy and Science Fiction are very, very different; I would not call Ivanhoe, Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia Science Fiction EVER. .. So, perhaps, the reason you have trouble with thinking of Science Fiction Poetry as such is because you are mixing it with Fantasy Poetry, which of course, has a long and wondrous tradition, going back to Beowulf, at least :-)."

I understand the point, and I think it's far more complicated than that. I think there is a continuum that starts at the most fantastic fantasy, moves through hard fantasy, moves into soft science fiction, and ends at the most scientific hard science fiction. Where a given work is placed on that continuum varies from one reader/writer to another. And the placement often changes over time, as story elements that were once considered technology lose that status, and story elements that were once considered magical become only technology.

I agree with wizwom that Lord of the Rings is fantasy with a capital F. But it's rarely that easy. It seems to me that few Science Fiction works are totally free of Fantasy, and few Fantasy works are totally free of Science Fiction -- usually you get a mix of the fantastic and the scientific.

That said, finding a unifying metaphor for each of the two extreme ends of the continuum -- one for the most fantastic Fantasy and one for the most scientific Science Fiction -- would constitute progress. I'd settle for that and call it a solid beginning.