(Letters Column for December 2005) Naturally Curly Hair

Posted on January 3, 2006 by Jenna

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That didn’t happen. I mean, I didn’t actually get eaten by a singularity. That would make me fictional and I’m not. I mean, except in the sense that communication and fiction are pretty similar.

I just wanted to make that clear so that you didn’t think, like, I was some post-singularity imposter. I’m not. I’m almost the same me as I was last year! And I’m *nearly* the same me as when Hitherby started, even though I think I’ve replaced almost every cell in my body and moved most of my mental constructs to new places in my brain since then.

This particular letters column is broken up across multiple days. This part is the middle. The beginning was yesterday, and the end is tomorrow!


The thing that interests me most here is that you conceptualize Hitherby as a webcomic without pictures (Thanksgiving notwithstanding), rather than a fiction blog. Do you conceptualize these as different things?
— Adamiani

I think my response to this is best summarized as, “There are enough fiction blogs that they’re a category? Man! I’m surprised, because this stuff is hard.

But yes, anyway, I do. The specific distinction is intention. If I were writing a fiction blog, then my principal motivation would be to provide good fiction. I’m writing a webcomic because my principal motivation is giving people something entertaining to read in the morning. In short, the medium is functionally almost identical but the delivered product is different. I’m writing a webcomic because it’s more important to post something imperfect than to skip a day and make it perfect. ^_^

I wobble a little because I am personally in love with the larger story and because my readers are often here for the fiction, but the core purpose remains.


Why does Claire really want to get rid of the chaos?
— melsner

I think there are occasional ads on TV that say: “Do you have chaos? Talk to your doctor about Dr. Brommer’s Deliciously Orderly Liquid!”

And stuff!


And what does it say about the characters that they think that awe-inspiring chaos is a disease to be exised? Does chaos have intentional resonance with mental illnes?
— mneme


I think mental illness is overly stigmatized. I also think that there’s room for fair controversy over whether some conditions are alternate modes of thought and not disabilities at all—I can’t help noticing just how many of the people I respect are either autistic or dissociative, for example.

I’m not sure! Maybe there’s some intentionality to the resonance you see.


But I think that a pessimistic person would probably call an empty glass “entirely empty” rather than “scarcely.”
— random

Perhaps even “bounteously empty” or “refreshingly empty,” in accords with the perception of delight that bubbles slightly in a pessimist’s toes before rushing upwards in a great cascade towards their brain whenupon they witness the emptiness and dolor of the world!

Gloriously empty!

Joyously empty!

Rapturously, fascinatingly empty! A marvel of negative space! No glass unfilled shall be unturned! Nullness loves us in our dullness!


Genius. I’m reminded that my lack of a snarky, wisecracking servant full of wisdom has led to a life less full of roses and victory parades myself. I need to work on finding one of them, but good help is so hard to find.
— mcclintock

Stupidly, they’re under ‘Crackers’ in the Yellow Pages. Because they crack wises, I guess. I think it’s really counterintuitive and I organized a Yellow Pages burning in protest but then they delivered new ones and my whole neighborhood is full of ghostly fingers doing the walking anyway.

It’s the kind of thing that would inevitably drive me to obsession, fury, madness, hubris, destruction, and despair were it not for my naturally curly hair.


For torture to work as an accepted part of society, there HAS to be a differentiation between the kind of people who are tortured and the kind of people who are not tortured. It doesn’t have to be “we’re innocent, they’re guilty” (clearly it isn’t here), or “we’re white, they’re brown” or anything specific and obvious; it just has to be “not me.” Not on me. On her. On them. On the other kind of people.
— mineownaardvarks

And since I didn’t see anyone say it explicitly, I’ll add this: it doesn’t really matter much whether that differentiation is a consequence or a cause. A corrupt ideology always sees its victims as the most appropriate victims; that’s why “what you do to the least of these, ye do unto me” is so important as a moral principle. The person you feel most within your rights to hurt is probably just a representative of the category of person you’ve hurt the most already.


its ok, you can read it, there’s no heresy there.
— GoldenH

Oh, noodles!

Did I accidentally preach correct and virtuous doctrine again?


Sometimes I think heresy is one of those things like where, you see the Albigensians on HBO and they make it look totally effortless, like you pretty much just open your mouth and say something about how that which we perceive as evil does not reflect on God, and, bam! Inquisitors!

But heresy is actually really tough, because you wind up saying things that are consonant with doctrine unless you totally binge on evil communion wafers first.

(Well, *I* wind up saying consonant things, anyway. There’s this story about how Dustin Hoffman binged on evil communion wafers when filming an Albigensian chick flick with Laurence Olivier, and Laurence Olivier said, “My dear man, why not just hypothesize that Jesus’ sacrifice was an extratemporal event that has been continuously occuring since the beginning of time?” Now *that* was some darn good extemporaneous heresy, and we’re all lucky that it didn’t catch on and force the Church to crusade against Los Angeles. Because man, then the crusaders would be all “cutting the heads off of Tom Cruise now!” and “Ms. Swinton! Get thee to a nunnery!” and the other side would be raining down fire and ice on the Vatican with movie magic and everybody would be very distressed.)


Where can I get an application for joining the Cult of the Worm?
— SquidLord

Same place as sea monkeys. Just write a note on your order form.


How an animal can transcend moral authority i’ll never know.
— GoldenH

This is an interesting question, even if it was prompted by your misreading a word. ^_^

I suppose that we could calculate the limit of increasing virtue and synthesize it with an animal, creating a half-animal, half-infinitely-virtuous creature. I’m not sure whether it would transform from one to the other according to circumstances or remain permanently in a hybrid form. I envision it as something like Mecha-Lassie.


Also this community is pretty special
— tikitu

Yes, it is. ^_^ Welcome!


I find it difficult to imagine a state of being where I wanted either fruit or sex but didn’t have a strong preference which.
— David Goldfarb

It’s most common in people who read erotic poetry with an excess of fruit metaphors, such as “The Tomato That is His Love For Me” or “In Oranges I am Dreaming.”

(Audience! Can you provide the words to these famously erotic poems? I’m pretty sure the first is allegedly by Dickinson.)


What, then, is the imago?
— DSPaul

Really, now. ^_^


One day, I would be interested in reading how Mr. Schiff came to join the Gibbelins Tower Theater Company, leaving his previous job as a science teacher to gods.
— Eric

It’ll happen. ^_^

That’s a goodly length! I’ll finish this tomorrow, padding it with general chat if I don’t find enough to respond to. ^_^