This year’s Toronto SpecFic Colloquium was held at The ROUND in Kensington Market. Fending off being haunted, hunted by Walmart & other big box invaders this was the ideal setting for first presenter Wendy Gay Pearson’s: Unnatural Histories and Haunted Cities. She talked about how readers have to intuit the author’s intent as we put our own meaning into it at the same time. Keeping the ghost in its historic context is a challenge. The presentation was rather academic but avoided, what I call blinding academic syntax usage, so that anyone without a linguist degree could understand what was said. Next was Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Undisclosed Desires: V.C. Andrews and H. P. Lovecraft – a hefty title for a great presentation which didn’t really require a deep knowledge of either of the authors. Again we were reminded that the reader brings their own context to a novel which was why Andrews appealed more to teenage girls than boys.
After a break was Christopher Golden, Guest of Honour: in a Q&A with Christopher Golden interviewed by Mark Askwith – Asked about one of his novels he said, in effect: ‘an idea starts, gets written but the idea is not enough – how to make it bigger – by adding disparate elements – what couldn’t happen? Try that first.’ The Q&A covered a wide range of issues – how history depends on the context of the the viewer, how gender & sexuality weighting slants history (most history books are hetero-male-normative). A great discussion.
After the lunch break things continued with Peter Watts: Faith and the Fitness Landscape: he talked about the functional utility of God: believers in something are healthier, live longer etc. A funny rapid fire presentation full of acute insights: ‘our sense of morality isn’t rational’, ‘we don’t like people who do the right things, but those who do what is normal.’
The last presenter I stayed for was Madeline Ashby: she talked about her experiences as a fanfic writer and the nature of that community – ‘the edge is in the people who don’t do it for the money.’ She also spoke about how the Internet has ended shame – once an online nude picture of you could end a career – now it is so common place no one cares. But I thought try telling that to the teenagers who have killed themselves as result of said pictures.
Throughout all the presenters the theme of unnatural histories was explored in various ways – often the conclusion was history is in the mind of the beholder – maybe I heard this as a thread as I’ve been writing so much about personal identity as also being something we are powerless over – who we are is in the eye of the beholder.
The Round was an excellent venue, nice lunch specials. Sandra Kasturi hosted and did a great job keeping things running on time. Best of all I won a raffle prize of a big bag of books (Oh how I wish they had been ebooks on a thumb drive I could just drop in my pocket). Next Colloquium is March 7, 2015.
Recent political event in Arizona came up a few times – people amazed the the NFL stepped up – during a lull I wrote this piece:
in this defeated
Arizona religious freedom act
there was no burden of proof
gay was in the eye of the beholder
the only recourse
for the innocent heterosexual
perceived as gay
was to pull out a gun
stand your ground and shoot
the beholder in self defence
because the only thing worse
than being who you are
is being perceived
as something you are not