McLuhanesque December 5, 2010 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Life, as it turns out can be something like this. In a thread on Gibson, presumed statements by Nisi Shawl are being discussed when in steps Nisi herself and (but much more gently than Marshall McLuhan) sets the record state.
posted by Neiltupper to MetaFilter-Related at 11:46 PM (86 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

state straight. Gettin' late.
posted by Neiltupper at 11:48 PM on December 5, 2010


Beans. Plate. Overthinkin'.
posted by awfurby at 2:30 AM on December 6, 2010


I love when that happens. I am also stunned by how many people can't seem to understand the extremely simple construction 'a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle'which is to say 'not at all, it would be useless, what the hell would a fish do with a bicycle?' Gibson's mangling of the quote makes no sense.
posted by fixedgear at 2:40 AM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Huh, I always heard the line as "A woman needs a man like a fixed speed bicycle".
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:02 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for pointing the thread out. I read that interview back in September so I never really checked out the discussion, but there's some interesting stuff there. And if nothing else I'm happy to see Islands in the Net get a little love. It's a novel I've thought a lot about through the years.
posted by Kattullus at 3:03 AM on December 6, 2010


Huh, I always heard the line as "A woman needs a man like a fixed speed bicycle".

Doesn't change the meaning much, as no one needs those.
posted by valkyryn at 3:40 AM on December 6, 2010


Oh, I thought it meant they should look good, but not be very practical.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:04 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cool, I love when things like this happen on Mefi. Hopefully, she'll stick around here.
posted by octothorpe at 4:26 AM on December 6, 2010


a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

You know fish can't ride two wheelers, right?
posted by nomadicink at 4:29 AM on December 6, 2010


WhoTF is "nojojojo"? And why would anyone ever interpret that phrase as meaning that women aren't going anywhere without men? Do fish ride bicycles in the cyberverse? (Actually, they probably would have in SimLife, the stupidest non-sim of life I ever saw.)
posted by DU at 4:52 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the fact that she came, paid $5 and is participating in the discussion is cool. I don't appreciate this early dismissive tone in this MetaTalk thread though.

Wish I'd seen the original thread and could have hopped on. A lifelong feminist, I, and also a cyberpunk enthusiast.
posted by kalessin at 5:31 AM on December 6, 2010


Thanks for pointing that out. I tend to skip the Gibson threads, because I find his interviews a lot less interesting than his books, which I don't even like all that much. But that turned out to be a neat conversation there about the relationship between cyberpunk and feminist science fiction which I am happy to have read.
posted by Forktine at 6:15 AM on December 6, 2010


I am also stunned by how many people can't seem to understand the extremely simple construction 'a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle'which is to say 'not at all, it would be useless, what the hell would a fish do with a bicycle?'

It's difficult to understand because it comes off as a woman doesn't need a man at all, when everyday society directly contradicts that.

Does a woman need a man to survive or for financial security? No, of course not, but the complete dismissal of the male species can be hard to understand for some. A fish can go it's entire life without the needing or even knowing that a bicycle is. The same can not be said for a woman, or a man for that matter. People need other people.
posted by nomadicink at 6:17 AM on December 6, 2010


Nojojo = author N.K. Jemisin.

I just read the Gibson quote as an offhand attempt at deflating the absurd profundity of the insight: taken out of context, it sounds a bit, well, glib: "Terrorists need branding." (Well Christ it's Web 2.0 I mean who doesn't?) —One can certainly imagine a context in which terrorists need branding, much as one can imagine a context in which a fish would need a bicycle to get anywhere. But how silly it seems! (Yet here we are.)

As to whether that attempt was successful, well: I'd say that's debatable, yes.
posted by kipmanley at 6:22 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's great, in retrospect, about that clip is Allen in all purpose hipster-schlump drag. If I saw someone on the street today dressed like that he wouldn't look out of place at all. Even to the glasses.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:24 AM on December 6, 2010




Yeah I'm pretty convinced he was just joking around , like people do during conversations. And means that terrorists need branding.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:15 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


And why would anyone ever interpret that phrase as meaning that women aren't going anywhere without men? Do fish ride bicycles in the cyberverse?

I share this confusion. I read the thread before the article and thought WG had unleashed some vicious anti-feminist attack, but it's pretty clear that he just searching for a pithy concluding sentence and ended up misusing the fish/bicycle quote. Maybe someone can enlighten me.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:18 AM on December 6, 2010


Here's the thing. What if a fish is in a pond and that pond is drying up? And that fish needs to get to another pond nearby or else it will die? And cars haven't been invented? And they made special fish bicycles that fish could ride on to get places when their ponds dried up? It just seems insane that this argument didn't work on any of my ex-girlfriends.
posted by ND¢ at 7:29 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's great that Shawl was able to step in and make that clarification. But reading that thread was like being transported back to my years as an undergrad, where absolutely everything was dissected and analyzed for progressive or Feminist ideological purity.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:30 AM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


And they made special fish bicycles that fish could ride on to get places when their ponds dried up?

I'm special!

But seriously, the meaning of that phrase is pretty clear and is the reason I picked this user name: something that might be kind of neat but is ultimately of no apparent use to women. I, too, think Gibson just accidentally misused it.

It would be pretty easy to do that if he was trying to think of a common expression that involved transportation, to go along with the "not going anywhere" follow up. I can imagine that, especially for writers, it's pretty common to know where you want a line of thought to end up, and then have to fill in how you get there from here. Concentrating on the "fish needs a bicycle" part, while forgetting the actual meaning of the whole phrase, would explain what happened, especially in the context of an interview.
posted by FishBike at 7:43 AM on December 6, 2010


> I think the fact that she came, paid $5 and is participating in the discussion is cool. I don't appreciate this early dismissive tone in this MetaTalk thread though.

I missed this. Or read it differently than you. Also, 99% of MetaTalks start out schlocky and jokey before either settling into a discussion or failing to. I got that stat out of the infodump or maybe some other dump.

Wish I'd seen the original thread and could have hopped on. A lifelong feminist, I, and also a cyberpunk enthusiast.

You know, that thread's not even a day old. There's still plenty of time for you to make your point.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:02 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm just waiting for the knife fight between FishBike and bicyclefish.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:08 AM on December 6, 2010


I'm just waiting for the knife bike fight fish between FishBike and bicyclefish.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2010


Wait till you guys read what Gibson said about backflow.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2010


knife fish dance fight. Think West Side here. Two gangs, the Fishes and the Bikes. FishBike and bicyclefish both torn up by the love they share and their fundamental commonalities, conflicted souls who have more in common with each other than with either of the fish- and bike-centric gangs they somehow got caught up in on opposite sides of the divide.

The soggy, finslapping aquatic choreography of fishfucker, five fresh fish, troutfishing, John Kenneth Fisher; the chain-rattling glide dances of fixedgear, christonabike, wheelieman. The whole thing a grand spectacle of juxtaposition and synthesis, different universes of dance interleaved like rush hour traffic in some city planner's fantasy.

When you're a Bike you're a Bike all the way, from your first Kryptonite to your last cycling day. The Fish are gonna have their way, we're gonna amusing-treasure-chest-shaped-rock it tonight. Etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 AM on December 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


Wouldn't it be more like Annie Hall if Gibson showed up and told off yeloson for dropping that rather silly comment deriding him as anti-feminist? "You know nothing of my work" might even be appropriate in that case. That would have been satisfying.
posted by ssg at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2010


Fish Car!
posted by nomadicink at 9:05 AM on December 6, 2010


Considering how much fish depend on streams and wetlands for food and reproduction, and how much damage runoff from roads and parking lots saturated with oil and other pollutants from cars and trucks does to those same streams and wetlands, I'd be delighted if women needed us as much as fish need bicycles.

But they don't-- at least not so many of us.
posted by jamjam at 9:07 AM on December 6, 2010


Fish prefer motorcycles to bicycles.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2010


The only thing fish need are butter and lemon. Sometimes, fresh dill.

Oh wait, I forgot ceviche. So, citrus, salsa...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 AM on December 6, 2010


Now y'all should check out Nisi's books, too.
posted by Zed at 10:17 AM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


reading that thread was like being transported back to my years as an undergrad, where absolutely everything was dissected and analyzed for progressive or Feminist ideological purity

So much this. We need to have some sort of accord / mutual understanding around here. If people agree to be thoughtful about not saying "cunt" and "I'd hit it" there needs to be some consideration and restraint in the other direction, too. I want to read about William Gibson without unnecessary derails about fem-sci-fi and the battle against sexism. I want to read about Civil War photos without someone working in a fucking teachable moment about my invisible backpack.

You know that guy who always wants to bring up the USA? Or how Obama has fucked us? Or how everyone is an anti-semite? Don't be that guy.

Why are you always on about women, Stan? Give it a rest.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't understand the McLuhan reference. Did McLuhan jump into a Metafilter thread?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:35 AM on December 6, 2010


He once taught a fish to ride a bicycle.
posted by ND¢ at 10:43 AM on December 6, 2010


So much this. We need to have some sort of accord / mutual understanding around here. If people agree to be thoughtful about not saying "cunt" and "I'd hit it" there needs to be some consideration and restraint in the other direction, too.

Huh. I had no idea that that was a hard-won concession grudgingly given by the menfolk. I thought it was just basic consideration.
posted by DNye at 11:02 AM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


It was part of the 2009 Armistice agreement.

NEVER FORGET to leave the toilet seat down
posted by nomadicink at 11:08 AM on December 6, 2010


I want to read about William Gibson without unnecessary derails about fem-sci-fi and the battle against sexism. I want to read about Civil War photos without someone working in a fucking teachable moment about my invisible backpack.

Oh yeah? Just wait until William Gibson publishes his new sci-fi book about the sex-positive feminist time traveler who goes back to the Civil War with her invisible backpack full of cunts only to learn in the book's teachable moment that the Battle of Manassas refers to the location of the battle, not the stakes.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:08 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought it was just basic consideration.

Yeah, it is. Similarly asking that people are considerate in not flogging their PC hobbyhorses in every fucking thread, eh?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:12 AM on December 6, 2010


User #120265. I mean really. What's someone like THAT have to add to the conversation?
posted by Danf at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2010


Yeah, it is. Similarly asking that people are considerate in not flogging their PC hobbyhorses in every fucking thread, eh?

So, dudes resisting the urge to say "I'd hit it" is equivalent to women (and, I guess, African Americans, from the Civil War bit) being careful to think about whether the stuff they find interesting about a post is what you'd find interesting, and keeping quiet if they conclude that it isn't? And if they don't gauge that right, they are like... crazy people, right? The ones who make everything about Obama, or anti-Semitism?

Huh again.
posted by DNye at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2010


I hope that Meatbomb wasn't implying some sort of moral equivalency, only that sometimes you'd like to talk about something else.
posted by Justinian at 11:34 AM on December 6, 2010


I thought it was just basic consideration.

DNye, please engage with the words people actually post instead of just making shit up. "Consideration" -- not "concession" -- was the word Meatbomb used originally, so your correction doesn't actually make much sense and just comes across as condescension.
posted by Dano St at 11:44 AM on December 6, 2010


Or how Obama has fucked us?

You don't like hearing, "I told you so."?
posted by Ardiril at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2010


Dano St, I think you have become confused while attempting a technique you have seen others use profitably before. Hopefully this will help:

I was explaining that I had previously understood this behaviour to be specifically not a concession, but consideration - that is, politeness. I am aware of what word Meatbomb originally used, and was suggesting an alternative reading of the interaction - so using the same word would have been very confusing indeed, wouldn't it?

Meatbomb then agreed that it was, indeed, readable as consideration - that is, that he was prepared to frame his point in terms of either terminology, with the proviso that he felt consideration was reciprocal and thus there was an equivalent act of consideration on the other side. So, if we differ, it's about whether concessions and consideration are the same basic behaviour (as Meatbomb believes, I think) or different behaviours. I'm sorry you didn't understand that.

With this in mind, I am not sure who you are trying to have a fight with. However, I think they might be imaginary, and since you are making up not only shit but antagonists and casus bellorum, I don't think it would be wise for me to get further involved with your inner torment.

Justinian I don't think morality comes into it, really. I'm just trying to work out what behaviour is being expected from women and people of color here, and in exchange for what. What I read was:

If people agree to be thoughtful about not saying "cunt" and "I'd hit it" there needs to be some consideration and restraint in the other direction, too. I want to read about William Gibson without unnecessary derails about fem-sci-fi and the battle against sexism. I want to read about Civil War photos without someone working in a fucking teachable moment about my invisible backpack.

That is, it's an equivalence - this is what people are being considerate about (or making concessions about, if you don't want Dano St to get angry with his imaginary shit-makers again) on one side, and this is what the people they are being considerate/making concessions to should be doing in return - in this case, not introducing concerns which Meatbomb feels are specific to the concerns of women or African Americans in discussions not immediately related to those concerns. I wouldn't want to speculate about morals, only behaviours.
posted by DNye at 12:16 PM on December 6, 2010


I'm just trying to work out what behaviour is being expected from women and people of color here, and in exchange for what

Probably less of these sort of comments.
posted by nomadicink at 12:25 PM on December 6, 2010


> Probably less of these sort of comments.

Yeah, that was really kind of around the bend.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2010


I hope that Meatbomb wasn't implying some sort of moral equivalency

I hope not, too.

You know what, Meatbomb? Women are women every day. People of color are people of color every day. People say offensive shit about women and people of color every day.

If that harshes your buzz on the blue when people point that out, TOO FUCKING BAD.

I'd like to read a thread about feminism without some fucking mansplaining. I'd like to read a thread about work by people of color without someone crying "reverse racism" or employing the argumentum ad Sidney Poitier.

Guess what? I don't get what I want, either.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, in a thread about SFFwriters, it isn't derailing for someone to refer to a comment one distinguished SFF writer supposedly made about another distinguished SFF writer (even though, as it turns out, the comment was misreported--by a third SFF writer, to boot).
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:38 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


People say offensive shit about women and people of color every day.

In this case, it seems that Gibson made the terrible mistake of using the phrase "fish without a bicycle". If you want to call that offensive shit, then you can go ahead, but let's be reasonable here.

I don't really think that we need to make any equivalence between sexist comments and comments that accuse people of sexism, but surely we can aim to keep the level of discussion on the blue a little higher than "he said something that could, in some convoluted way, be construed as sexist, therefore he is bad", without all this "TOO FUCKING BAD" stuff.
posted by ssg at 12:45 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


ssg, I don't think Gibson's comment was sexist at all--I think he just mangled a catchphrase.

It seemed to me that Meatbomb was talking more generally about people flagging what they see as sexism or racism; if I misconstrued his comment, and he was actually referring to this particular comedy of communications errors specifically, I apologize.

As for "TOO FUCKING BAD" I am really put off by the level of backlash rage here any time someone points out something that actually is sexist or racist. (The LiveJournal catchphrase "It's only sexist/racist if you die!" sometimes seems sadly apropos here.)

"Oh, fuck you, I was trying to enjoy this, and now you yukked my yum!" is certainly an understandable reaction, but the thing is that often the person who is yukking someone else's yum because of something they found really hateful is doing so out of despair at having had their own yum yukked by the hatefulness.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:01 PM on December 6, 2010


Back ontopic:

kalessin I don't appreciate this early dismissive tone in this MetaTalk thread though.

There is something a bit odd about the way this is being read at times, across both threads. Shawl corrects the error that she, personally, avowed that cyberpunk was a reactionary response to feminist sci-fi, stating instead that she quoted others who advanced that belief, and describes it as being an interesting position to examine, not least in light of her belief that the media focus on cyberpunk as a genre was at times driven by a desire to find something in sci-fi other than feminist sci-fi to focus on. She adds that she can see how easy it would be to get mixed up. I don't really see that as a gotcha moment, and it's odd to see something like:

Right from the horses mouth. Thank you. I've been reading through all of these comments wondering if any of the people trying to argue the idea that cyberpunk was a reaction to feminism have even READ any cyberpunk.

Directly underneath it; I suspect Gomoll has probably read some cyberpunk.

Whether it was appropriate to be talking about cyberpunk as a literary movement at all probably depends on how you feel about fish and bicycles, since that was where that strand originated. I confess that the discussion of the position and perception of cyberpunk in relation to feminist science fiction was by some distance the most interesting part of the thread for me, but possibly principle is more important than pleasure, or you get into the problem of good discussions with bad origins. I'd further confess that the discussion about the history of the Civil War and the draft riots that grew out of Liza's post was also very interesting, despite the anger caused by its genesis.

I have no idea what would have happened if somebody had responded to the pictures of long-dead Americans with "I'd hit those", mind. Nothing good, I imagine.
posted by DNye at 1:05 PM on December 6, 2010


As for "TOO FUCKING BAD" I am really put off by the level of backlash rage here any time someone points out something that actually is sexist or racist.

Totally understandable. However, that kind of shout-'em-down anger seemed out of place here, where I don't really think that sort of backlash is in evidence. Though I understand your frustration, it is tough to have a good discussion about community norms when that kind of response comes into play.
posted by ssg at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2010


I'd see it as more out of place if we hadn't already had I want to read about Civil War photos without someone working in a fucking teachable moment about my invisible backpack. I'm not saying anger is appropriate or inappropriate in either case, but the tone argument horse has largely bolted, at this point.
posted by DNye at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2010


> Similarly asking that people are considerate in not flogging their PC hobbyhorses in every fucking thread, eh?

It sometimes happens that when I object to something Meatbomb writes it turns out I missed the fact that he was being funny (or attempting to be funny), and I certainly hope that's the case here. Because women's rights are not a PC hobbyhorse.
posted by languagehat at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sidhedevil, we were talking about an interesting William Gibson interview, and the whole "he's a sexist" thing really was a tangent, bordering on a derail. It took ver and (IMO) fucked up the discussion.

Please, have as many threads about sexism as you want, I am not here to oppress you. But we don't have to talk about that ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE. Even if you are a woman or a person of colour, there are times when you should just be people, eh?

It's the same as any hobbyhorse, and we have seen the mod perspective as generally "please don't do that, OK?" So, like, if you are Jewish it isn't cool to turn a post about football into "hey why aren't there any Jews in football" or a thread about recipes into "hey this isn't kosher let me tell you all about it, or else you are anti-semites".

The same thing is applying here.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2010


lh - it is a hobbyhorse in the sense that "I want to push this issue everywhere, all the time".
posted by Meatbomb at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2010


I'd like to read a thread about feminism without some fucking mansplaining. I'd like to read a thread about work by people of color without someone crying "reverse racism" or employing the argumentum ad Sidney Poitier.

And I'd love for people to stop throwing gasoline on the fire by using words like "mansplaining."
posted by proj at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd just like to remind us all that nobody needs anything except the basic materials that keep our bodies functioning. You know, like food, water and oxygen. Thank you, that is all.
posted by Decani at 1:59 PM on December 6, 2010


Meatbomb, I can see it as a tangent, but I'm not sure why many people (not just you) are seeing it as people calling Gibson "sexist". My reading of the thread was most people were wondering what he meant: did he mis-speak, was it actually a deliberate sexist comment, was it a playful and knowing allusion to the original Sufi version of the phrase? People were arguing some quite explicitly anti-feminist points in there. (We also had a bit of a sidetrack where someone asked how it was a feminist reference, so a few people responded to that). But it's not like a bunch of feminists took over the thread and ranted about a hobbyhorse: the discussion may have been tangential, but it was more 'what did he mean by that?', and it wasn't being carried out solely by feminists.

And then the thread gets back on track to discuss his actual point rather than his choice of words, and then there's a whole bunch of unfunny one-liners that take it back to the fish/bike thing but are basically just noise.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:05 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is this why there's a thread about the word cunt on the front page now?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:08 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's William Gibson's fault, I hate that guy.

(That "cunt" story was on the TV news here. Everyone has been very excited by it)
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:17 PM on December 6, 2010


Where?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:17 PM on December 6, 2010


Jessamyn: Probably a coincidence - Naughtie's slip was oddly big news over here in the UK.

Incidentally, do we have cites on those Jews-in-football and non-kosher-cooking threads? Dano St was very keen to keep us tightly locked onto concepts that already exist in the world, and I'm sure will apply that desire impartially, just as Proj is no doubt just as keen to see gasoline-adding phrases like "flogging their PC hobbyhorses in every fucking thread" expunged as he is words like "mansplaining"? We are, after all, all on the same side here, right?
posted by DNye at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2010


I'm guessing we're probably not, even though I'm not sure what the sides are.
posted by proj at 2:24 PM on December 6, 2010


Even if you are a woman or a person of colour, there are times when you should just be people, eh?

I can't speak for people of color, but there is no time when I am not a woman. That's just what is. So when I read something, I'm reading it (in part) as a woman. When I eat something, I'm eating it (in part) as a woman. When I have a discussion, I'm having it, at least in part, as a woman.

And if you are a man, when you read things you're reading them, at least in part, as a man. It's just that since "man" is generally the unmarked case, it's a lot easier for a man to think "I'm approaching this as a person, not as a man" than it is for a woman to think the corresponding thought.
posted by Lexica at 2:55 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Probably less of these sort of comments.

Totally agree on that by the way. Too many people had responded by the time it got on my radar, but that's not us saying it's okay to bludgeon people with invisible backpack metaphors from left field. That said, those sorts of comments [from both/all sides] are fairly rare here, for which I consider myself and all of us pretty lucky.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:59 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


America must be way paranoid about terrorism if baseball fields install radar systems, just in case deranged fans try to use sekrit invisible luggage as blunt weapons.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:17 PM on December 6, 2010


Proj: Sorry, that was unclear. I agree that people are probably on different sides of all sorts of debates around Metafilter. But I think I'm assuming that everyone wants Metafilter to be a good place to go to to find interesting links and interesting discussion of links, or thereabouts - nobody here actively wants it to be a bad place, and thus we are on that matter all on the same side.

Obviously, people have different ideas of what the constituent elements of a good Metafilter might be - some people want a community vibe, some want to be able to say "I'd hit that" (or at least get a quid back for the quo of not doing so), some want to talk about implicit privilege, and for that matter some want to be able to post long routines about donuts in Ask Metafilter.

What I'm suggesting here is that applying our own standards consistently makes it easier for other people to understand where we are coming from. Case in point: if somebody wants people to avoid inflammatory language, then it's a reasonable inference that "people" means "all people using Metafilter". There's precedent on a variant usage of "people" - Meatbomb antithesises "people" and "people" above, when he is clearly describing two different groups of people - but it's not the instinctive reading.

So, I was working on the principle that you believe inflammatory language on both sides should be avoided. In this thread, we've had, inter alia fucking PC hobbyhorses, accusations (albeit incoherent) of making shit up, and mansplaining, and presumably all of these should be guarded against for the kind of Metafilter you would see as good.
posted by DNye at 3:21 PM on December 6, 2010


The real problem with the fish/bicycle saying is that it's too easy to imagine.

If you walk up to an extraterrestrial alien and say, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle," the first thing that alien's going to do is picture a fish riding a bicycle. You can totally see it. The way the fish would hold the handlebars with its pectoral fins, and pedal with its tail.

The next thing that happens is the alien thinks, "Well I don't know if a fish NEEDS a bicycle, but that's a pretty cute image, so maybe the fish ought to have a bicycle, because it would be pretty awesome." And then the whole thing just gets confusing as hell

Fellow feminists, I humbly propose the following replacements, for a start:

1. "A woman needs a man like GFAJ-1 needs the collected works of Haruki Murakami."

2. "A woman needs a man like a bottle of tea tree oil needs a cheeseburger."

3. "A woman needs a man like LiveJournal needs interstellar dust."
posted by ErikaB at 7:01 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you walk up to an extraterrestrial alien ranting about Livejournal, you'll be making us all look bad.
posted by pompomtom at 8:14 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


My reading of the thread was most people were wondering what he meant: did he mis-speak, was it actually a deliberate sexist comment, was it a playful and knowing allusion to the original Sufi version of the phrase?

I thought I made it pretty clear early on in the thread that I was just trying to figure out what the hell he was saying and not, you know, jumping to a conclusion that it was definitely one thing or another.

Seeing how I haven't read his stuff in 16 years, I was wondering if people more familiar with him knew if he was mis-stating, being "clever" or had taken the Frank Miller/Orson Scott Card/Peter David crazypants pill since I last looked.

So help me understand here - is asking for clarification on direct quotes from the link considered a derail now? You can note that I did go and dig up a direct link on the WorldCon panel after being requested to do so.
posted by yeloson at 12:28 AM on December 7, 2010


(Also, I failed to make clear Infinite Jest's quote there was exactly where I was coming from... sigh, posting before bed not so good for communication).
posted by yeloson at 12:30 AM on December 7, 2010


Ya know what's really cool?




Me neither.
posted by metagnathous at 3:17 AM on December 7, 2010


a snowflake.
     \__  __/
     /_/  \_\
      _\/\/_
 __/\_\_\/_/_/\__
   \/ /_/\_\ \/
     __/\/\__
     \_\  /_/
     /      \
since you asked.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the McLuhan reference. Did McLuhan jump into a Metafilter thread?

In a moment of serendipity, this has just been explained by this AskMeta.
posted by ninebelow at 8:03 AM on December 7, 2010


I thought I made it pretty clear early on in the thread that I was just trying to figure out what the hell he was saying and not, you know, jumping to a conclusion that it was definitely one thing or another.

Really? You didn't ask what he was saying, you asked if he understood what he was saying. Then you said it "sadly backed up" the assertion that cyberpunk was a reaction against feminism, clearly implying that Gibson was anti-feminist. If you didn't mean to imply that, then I'm not sure what to say.
posted by ssg at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The weird thing here is that "Nisi Shawl did not actually say that she believed Cyberpunk was a reaction to feminist science fiction" has morphed somehow into "No sane human being has ever suggested this, and you would be crazy to think that anyone might have", which is not supported by the primary text. Which is why the Marshall McLuhan reference seems so odd - it requires a real mental effort to imagine that Nisi Shawl is exerting every sinew to hold back the enormous slappy hand that this idea deserves, rather than than correcting a mistake based on a misattribution of something she cited as a position worth examining at a con a couple of years back.

That said, I'm sure if we are collectively rude enough to yeloson William Gibson will send us a sweet thankyou email and possibly want to hang out. So, you know, there's that.
posted by DNye at 11:06 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you didn't mean to imply that, then I'm not sure what to say.

By the 6th comment, a whole 22 minutes later, I further reply:

For me, the "fish without a bicycle" line seems like an oops on his part.

Well, that's why I'm confused. It can be read as a mistake, a horrible misunderstanding of what the phrase was about, or arguing against the idea that women are self-sufficient entities capable of agency and adult, rational decisions without needing a man.

But it's so frickin' weird and non-contextual I'm just, "bwuh?"


After you read an interview where someone says a lot of well-thought out things, is it really that strange when such bizarre left field comment comes out to go, "Wait, is this also being said in earnest as well?"

It's in the interview. It's weird and out of place. I would imagine that would be "on thread" for talking about.
posted by yeloson at 11:06 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That said, I'm sure if we are collectively rude enough to yeloson William Gibson will send us a sweet thankyou email and possibly want to hang out. So, you know, there's that.

Well, hey, if it'll help y'all organize a meetup, I'm glad to help!
posted by yeloson at 11:08 AM on December 7, 2010


DNye, that's 12-year-old bullshit, cut it out.
posted by ssg at 11:11 AM on December 7, 2010


Dude, if 12-year olds are regularly suggesting that you are overinvested, you probably need to take a look at that. You already had the fantasy about Gibson appearing higher up the page, here:

Wouldn't it be more like Annie Hall if Gibson showed up and told off yeloson for dropping that rather silly comment deriding him as anti-feminist? "You know nothing of my work" might even be appropriate in that case. That would have been satisfying.

I was merely referencing the fantasy that you had previously shared with us, in light of your apparent desire to exact satisfaction from yeloson.
posted by DNye at 11:57 AM on December 7, 2010


ErikaB: 2. "A woman needs a man like a bottle of tea tree oil needs a cheeseburger."
I may be anthropomorphising, but if I ever meet an alien, I'm confident that any being advanced enough to reach our planet will recognise that EVERYBODY needs a cheeseburger.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2010


Not if it's from Vega.
posted by Zed at 1:54 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eat a cheeseburger, hipster!
posted by fixedgear at 2:07 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm confident that any being advanced enough to reach our planet will recognise that EVERYBODY needs a cheeseburger hug.

FTFY
posted by ostranenie at 3:44 PM on December 7, 2010


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