SO! I HAVE ARRIVED.
I always experience a significant amount of terror right before I travel alone -- it got so bad when I was going to Boston that I almost didn't go -- but I'm accustomed to it now and I just ignore the shakes and get on the train and I always have an awesome time once I'm underway.
Riding the train from Chicago to anywhere in Indiana is apparently a pretty bare-bones proposition. There's no first class (which I usually take, it's worth the extra $10) and no snack car, so I was glad I packed dinner. Well, "dinner"; a bottle of water, a Clif bar, and a Snickers bar.
I'll spare you the tribulations I had getting to my housing, but I will say that the Lafayette Amtrak Station is not designed to facilitate a cohesive traffic stream after dark. I got lost in the station
. I did, however, finally get where I was going and I got a pretty good night's sleep, though this morning I couldn't figure out how to work the shower spigot and my shower was cooooooold. Still, woke me up.
On the train yesterday I was reading Jonathan Lethem's "The Ecstasy Of Influence: A Plagiarism
", which was an article published in Harper's a few years ago and which someone told me I ought to read. Back then Harper's didn't have an accessible online archive, and if you've ever tried to get a Harper's out of a library archive, as opposed to a Harper's Bazaar, it's...difficult. So I never got to read it.
Anyway, happily, a few weeks ago Kate_Nepveu linked to it in a post about fanfic
, and it really is a fascinating read on the subject of the relationship between corporate ownership and cultural commons. There are a few rough patches where I don't think Lethem quite got where he was intending to go, but overall it's a great essay.
It did get me thinking about fanfic in a slightly more abstracted way, and about why this current debate over it really enrages me so much. I don't normally weigh in on wanky matters, so to get me to make a statement about it, it must really have got under my skin. Now I think I know why. ( Extribulum and fear. )
So, that's the eventual coherent statement I have: fanfic is inherently valuable as, if nothing else, a document of response to the originating media. To decry the thing is to decry merely the symbol of something you can never control. Stripped to its bones, there's no point in fighting an author about it, because they aren't acting from a place of rationality but one of fear, and fear makes people both incoherent and mean.
See, the thing is, you don't have to fight on behalf of fanfic -- just by thinking independently and having an opinion, you've already won. Which is kind of awesome, really. So the decision you're faced with is not whether to fight about it, but whether to respect an author's foolish, fearful wish and not post it, or publish and be damned.
Given I've already violated the spirit of the wish by having an opinion, I choose damnation every time, myself.
(This is the shit I come up with on trains. Jesus I love trains.)