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From: Jeffrey Mach <mach@****.CALTECH.EDU>
Subject: Re: Wounded Tiger <V>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 16:26:29 -0700
Well folks--

I've decided to implement a notation system like people have been
pondering as a form of self-rating. I use something similar to the
American TV rating system that notes for content. I don't care to use
something like PG, PG-13, etc. since I think those things are patently
arbitrary and don't reflect what really should be the consideration:

So, I will have a <variable> flag on any of my posts that I feel may have
questionable content and use the obvious notations:

V = Violence
S = Sexual situations
L = Language

The last, only if it gets really foul, but I don't suppose I'll be
needing it. (I suppose Lopez is going to have to be flagged with a few of
these, eh Mark?)

N for nudity seems kind of pointless, since this is text based and it is
basically all in your head anyway (ASCII art not withstanding, but I don't
do that sort of thing). Besides, when you think about it, it is the
sexual aspect that people put onto nudity that would be objectionable and
not the nudity itself (i.e. Michaelangelo's _David_ or the _Venus de Milo_
is not that problematic unless you are _REALLY_ prudish).

Now, getting back to the point of maturity. I believe that I was the
person who brought that up, and I think that Vamphyri took my comments
incorrectly or out of context. He wrote:

> One more point, resevered for last because I can't find the post it was
> contained in, or even who wrote it! GAH! Regardless...someone
> actually attacked the "maturity" of people who were offended enough
> by such attrocities to ask they they not be subjected to such a graphic
> description of them! PLEASE! Before ya start questioning the maturity of
> people willing to stand up for what they believe, ya might want to take
> a good look at the lack of maturity it took to SLAM a person for holding
> such moral & ethical beliefs!

I made no comment attacking the maturity of those offended, per se. I

> From a literary perspective, I appreciate what DA was trying to do here.
> And I support his decision to write what he did. Violence, especially
> of this nature _is_ supposed to be terrifying. Now, if there are those
> that find that they lack the maturity to deal with mature subjects dealt
> with in a mature manner, then I would suggest that you don't read posts
> on subjects you might find objectionable and skip over them to something
> more to your tastes.

The point I was making was that storming off the list in a huff because
someone _chose_ to read something that offended them was a very immature
way to deal with the situation. I believe that one should find the acts
described objectionable, that was the intent, but finding the piece of
fiction objectionable to the point of not wanting to be a part of the list
seems to me strange. Given the nature of the list and the subject matter,
I expected violent content like this. This is terrorism we are talking
about here. I think also that one should also respect the right of
another author to write in a way that they see fit to tell the story that
they want to tell. If you don't like what they have to say, or how they
say it, don't _read_ it.

I never "slammed" a person for holding ethical and moral beliefs. I am a
man of many strong convictions myself. I slammed the reaction of an
individual who chose to _offend himself_ by _chosing_ to read a piece of
_FICTION_ that was _obviously_ of a subject matter that they would find
troubling and responded by decrying an author who attempted to give a more
accurate and sincere impression of what many others had simply been
glossing over.

I think that Pete wanted to start something big. The whole series of
posts, from its very beginning, it seems to me, has been an attempt to get
_all_ the characters of the list involved in something bigger than
themselves. And the characters weren't responding, or if so, lukewarmly.
So, he posted something to shake people up. He put the word "terrorism"
in its propper light. Yes, it was graphic, yes it was disturbing. BUT,
it was meant to be so, and it was pretty obvious where in the posts he was
going to go into describing just what he had in mind. Noone "subjected"
anyone to anything, noone propped anyone's eyelids open, noone held a gun
to anyone's head and forced them to read these posts (funny, I seem to
have said something to this effect several weeks ago).

On a different note, I feel that writing about violence and gore, as well
as sexual situations, just to "get one's rocks off" is also an immature
thing to do, and normally skip over posts and avoid plotlines that seem to
be doing so. It is not, as they say, "my cup of tea." To clarify, this
is where, in my opinion the writer seems to be ignoring the consequences
of the actions of the characters, and appears to be writing just to
titilate or shock and towards no other end. It is where the author is
being dishonest to his subject, and is writing something just for a
sensational effect and not as part of the process of storytelling. It
crosses the line between art and craft, to just being some sort of event.
In my opinion, Pete did none of these things. And, this is not to be
construed as saying that I think we should prevent people from posting
messages that may not meet with my approval. For Chrissake, I'm just one
person, and an opinionated jerk at that. One man's hack-job is another's
piece of classical literature (I learned this much to the displeasure of
one of English literature teachers). It is just that I don't plan on
reading any of it, or at best giving it a cursory skim so I know where the
plotline is going and can see if it interacts with any of my plans.

Shifting gears without a clutch...and to use myself as an example:

Now in my post, I have the character of the orkish girl. She represents
the victims. The survivors of this atrocity who will forever be scarred
by the events that occur. I wanted to make it quite plain, without so
many words that she would be raped and then killed, but to say so would
require conclusions that had not occured, so I described the scene as it
would appear at the moment before it would happen, and the moment where it
would be prevented from occuring.

WhiteTyger saves the day. But he does not do so as a superhero with a
pretty flowing cape, and his teeth gleam for an altogether different
reason. "Beware of fighting monsters, let's monsters we become." I have
been playing his character as walking the razors edge of being a pacifist
with the heart of a hunter. I could not describe his embracing his totem
accurately without giving the reader a sence of the animalistic ferocity
that would unleash. "Nothing is as dangerous as a wounded tiger." He
does not simply "beat up" some of the bad guys, he has to pummel one of
them well beyond the point of unconsciousness because he has no other
target upon which to release his aggression. In game terms, the final CoT
minion is attacked with a Death Touch spell. Sure, I could have had the
man fall silently to the ground, dead. I could have had WhiteTyger simply
tap him on the shoulder. But that would be completely throwing out what I
wanted to do with the post, what I wanted the reader to _feel_. One
either responds with surprise and distaste at what this normally kind soul
is willing to do to stop an enemy, or one goes: "F*ck YEAH! About time
those bastards got what they deserved!"

It was for the latter of these that I had the character of the girl
survive. That was her reason for existance. She has been saved, but by
what and at what cost? This demon that has exploded into her midst and
crushed and rended those who had just slaughtered her loved ones. A new
horror on top of the former one as she watched the man who was about to
kill her be torn to pieces by some hideous arcane force. And now, this
demon reaches his hand out to her. To which hell is it planning on taking
her? She screams and runs into the night. Some may agree with her, others
will have the question "Why?" and its answer thrown in their face.

WhiteTyger has his victory, but it is a hollow one. Whether or not he
truly "saved" the girl is left as an open question. That wasn't the point
of the post, and the post is, in fact enhanced by the mystery. Now I
suppose there are those who think I went a overboard describing the
violence. I meant to do that, and well I don't feel ashamed because I
don't believed I used more or less than I think was necessary to achieve
my point. And there in lies my concept of "maturely" dealing with
violence. Use no more nor no less than is required to tell the story that
you feel needs to be told, and always give it the respect that it
deserves. Violence is a terrible thing and should be treated as such.
Which is not to say that this is the way that I believe _characters_
should always relate to violence. I have had characters that run the
complete gamut from being nearly incapable of violence, to those that
actually enjoy it for the power it lets them feel they have. But as to
violence itself, as a "character," I always try to treat it with dread

--My two yen



These messages were posted a long time ago on a mailing list far, far away. The copyright to their contents probably lies with the original authors of the individual messages, but since they were published in an electronic forum that anyone could subscribe to, and the logs were available to subscribers and most likely non-subscribers as well, it's felt that re-publishing them here is a kind of public service.