Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shine, greed, and some stuff about the NaNo novel.

I am bemused by the effrontery of various People in High Places these days.  First, of course, is the reaction of the One Percent to the 99 Percent protestors currently clogging up the parks across from their high-priced-real-estate-type offices.  I'll get to that in a minute.

In addition, though, there's the brouhaha over at the National Book Awards.  The nominating panel for the Young Adult books phoned in its nominations, some poor secretary at the other end of the phone wrote down Shine when he or she should have written down Chime, and nobody caught the mistake 'til the nominations were announced.  A couple of hours after the announcement, Chime was hastily added to the list of nominees.  But that made six nominees when there were only supposed to be five.  That must have bothered some folks, because then ensued a public back-and-forth over whether Shine deserved a nomination.

You can imagine how Lauren Myrakle, who wrote Shine, must have been feeling at this point.

But wait, it gets better.  The head of the National Book Foundation then called Ms. Myrakle and asked her to recuse herself and her book, "to preserve the integrity of the award," as if the award had any integrity left by then.  Keep in mind, if you please, that Shine is about a hate crime against a gay teenager -- kind of hot-button stuff.

It's all kind of amazingly unbelievable.  But everybody's got a blog these days, including a YA author named Libba Bray, who also happens to be married to Ms. Myrakle's agent.  She tells the whole story better than I ever could.  Here's a link to her post.  (The link will take you to Tamora Pierce's reply to the post.  Just scroll up the page.  And if you don't know who Tamora Pierce is, you should.  Her Alanna books ought to be required reading for tween girls.)

Okay, back to the 99 Percent.  I said I wasn't going to get into politics on this blog, but I don't think I'm going too far down that slippery slope by saying that the One Percent, and the money behind them, are going to do everything they can in coming weeks to undermine and fracture the coalition that Occupy Wall Street is building.  The ruling class really likes ruling, and it's not going to give up without a fight.

I flatter myself that I've been ahead of the curve on this 99 Percent thing.  I've felt for several years now that a lot of us have gotten the short end of the stick on the American Dream -- that we did what we were supposed to, and the system betrayed us.

Now don't worry, the novel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo won't be a polemic.  But one of the underlying issues in this book (assuming it pans out the way I'm planning!) will be greed:  what it is, how it gets out of hand, and whether there's a way to stop it.

For Christians, greed is a deadly sin; for Pagans, it's not that simple.  Our one and only moral rule is "if it harms no one, do what you will."  And I tend to object on general principles to the sort of black-and-white thinking that proclaims absolutes like "Greed is Evil!"  I'm coming to the conclusion (with the help of friends at kevinswatch.com) that greed is the extreme end of a continuum that starts with healthy emotions like ambition and desire.  Which means there ought to be a way to bring the greedy back to a normal, healthy emotional state without threatening them with burning in hell (especially since Pagans don't believe in hell).

I've yet to figure out how to do it in real life.  But I suspect that in the book, I'll have to resort to magic....
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