caper_est: The Liberty Bell strikes! (liberty)

A proposed rule for political radicals, drawn from various experiences in Green, libertarian, and left-liberal politics:

If you can't even recruit the people who are getting it hardest in the neck from the existing system, you're not ready to change it.

This doesn't say what is wrong with your strategy. Maybe your policies are at fault, maybe your priorities, maybe your ambitions just vastly outrun your skills at this time. Maybe the system is so badly stacked that it needs some gradualist subversion-from-within before it allows any room for movement at all. The one thing you can't safely blame it on is the stupidity or viciousness of all those naughty disprivileged people who are inexplicably failing to rally behind you. Like turning into a snake, this never works. Actually, 'turning into a snake' is a pretty good functional description of what this tactic does to the doer.

A libertarian whose freedom the most constrained and bossed-at people in the country do not think is freedom, is not working towards liberty.

A Green movement whose sustainability sounds to people on shitty urban Council estates like the straw that will break their back, is not going anywhere sustainable.

An egalitarian whose equality feels like being ordered around in menacing high-priestly gobbledegook to 99% of the population, is not striking the blow against 1%-ocracy that they may, perhaps, suppose. And so forth.

Unfortunately, the people doing worst out of any social injustice really will be wrong about a lot. For one thing, a lot of very serious injusticiars will be working diligently to keep them that way. There is an even more practical side. All other things being equal, somebody who spends all day dodging kicks to the head is not likely to be the clearest thinker on most subjects. They will probably be unusually expert on such subjects as Whether Jackboots Are A Myth, How To Avoid Getting Kicked, Where Kicks Are Likely To Come From, and How To Sustain A Precarious Livelihood In A World Full Of Hard-Driven Jackboots. They may well show uncommon ingenuity in related skills, such as How To Regenerate Some Spoons In Moments Of Precious Leisure Despite The Worst Efforts of Jackbooted Jackasses. But jobs such as Carefully Sifting All Reports To Determine Whether Jackboots Are Ultimately Sent By Good King Richard Or Against His Will By His Evil Advisors may be better executed when possessed of more money, more leisure, and fewer daily kicks to the head. All this is true - as far as it goes.

It is also true that the radical is likely to be wrong about a hell of a lot. But this is unpleasant and potentially undermining to the cause, and it will be far more agreeable to return at once to ranting about the ignorance, bigotry, and ingratitude of the sheeple. This has the additional advantage of ensuring that the radical's favoured reforms will never come so close to reality as to demonstrate their defects. Thus we get libertarians who despise the poor (whilst ironically working in their realio trulio best interests, oww my martyr's crown hurts!);Green activists who pretty much despise the general population (WIWITRTBI, OMMCH!); progressive egalitarians who warn anybody without an appropriately expensive credential to cease their ignorant and objectively harmful challenges to the informed socio-political judgement of the expert 0.01%, such as themselves (WIWITRTBI, OMMCH!) - and generally the whole familiar bed of political narcissi.

I was such a misunderstood narcissus as a teenager.  I was better at spotting and opposing the tendency by the time I got into the Green movement.  Most of my accelerating leftwards progress through libertarianism has been about repeatedly realizing how many miles I had still to go. Radical narcissi are not mostly bad people - at least, I hope for my own sake that they aren't, since I doubt that my fannish slannish soul will ever be wholly cured of the fault - but they are bad for people, and they had better get down of their soapboxes and start talking on the level, if they expect to do their neighbours any good instead.

Full-spectrum egalitarians are not generally that great at rallying the disadvantaged, these days. Greens are noticeably worse. Libertarians are shit at it on burnt toast. As a left-libertarian heavily influenced by eco-politics, this probably makes me the poo of Pluto on scorched cycad starch. As J Random Petty-Bourgeois living in excessively interesting times, this definitely makes me worried.

If you can't even recruit the people who are getting it hardest in the neck from the existing system, you're not ready to change it.

We have got to get less shit at this, and toot sweet.  All thoughts gratefully received.

caper_est: The Liberty Bell strikes! (liberty)
"[The lords] are clad in velvet and camlet lined with squirrel and ermine, while we go dressed in coarse cloth. They have the wines, the spices, and the good bread: we have the rye, the husks, and the straw, and we drink water. They have shelter and ease in their fine manors, and we have hardship and toil, the wind and the rain in the fields. And from us must come, from our labour, the things which keep them in luxury."

- Notorious radical cleric John Ball, 1381, reported by Froissart, tr.Geoffrey Brereton (1964).

You'd think that in seven hundred years people would learn to appreciate the value of a properly incentivized executive class, wouldn't you? Banky banky!

Excuse me.  There seems to be some vulgar commotion outside Our royal windows.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 700 words.  Kate presents the Young Duke with two words about the Revolting Peasant Demands: he thinks she just gave him both barrels.

She hasn't taken the gun off the wall yet.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 800 words.  Luke locks horns with the Saturnist junto in Carrickbridge, with much declamation and bugling.  Kate, the Widow, and their escort are quietly rattling off down the Swale Road to Alland, with the news and embassies that will truly tip the doom one way or the other.

I might just finish this chapter before I set off on my travels, but it's going to be a squeeze.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 440 words of Luke beneath the walls of Carrickbridge, whose revolutionaries have very different ideas of their own.


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 600 words of much-needed light relief, as we learn exactly how Dougal Dare-All unexpectedly took the loathly tower.

The humour is distinctly mediaeval and robust, but then Dougal & Co. kind of are.  I think he gets points for restraint, under the circumstances.

Down to the big lowland towns, tomorrow.  Not necessarily beyond them, since my domestic circumstances are threatening to get kind of mediaeval and robust on me, and I may need to invest a couple of hours' housework persuading them not to.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: A chapter and a half of re-read, the pace slowing as I jump into the diplomatic snake-pit, and disentangle various characters' attempts to take the hiss.

Kate is in Garcastle, and the two sides' respective agendas are beginning to fracture already in the wake of Elegant Elder Sister's meeting with the Young Duke.  Luke is dealing with his first setback, and making his tactical withdrawal over Hareborough pursued by pointy sticks.  The draft is only two-thirds as rough as it seemed at the time.

I may have to lose or gloss over some of the complication in the redraft, since it's a bit much to ask a reader to follow plot knots that even I'm having trouble with!  On the other hand, editing for consistency ought to lighten the burden considerably.  We'll see.

Big gain from this morning: I know now what the consistency edit for Luke's great gambit in Langdale will look like.  The way the story had grown, it made his earlier actions look somewhat flaily and half-arsed.  No.  I see now that he was just being much more direct than I'd thought - he sets up his diplomatic ground, such as it is, by his actions in the very first village, and in his first encounter with the Earl's lancers.  It's only after the coming crisis that he'll cube this very one-dimensional pretext, and make it real in deadly earnest.  So we get prefiguration of his Great Moment, and a ferociously ironic inversion of its original character, for free... I wish I could claim credit for having put that there on purpose!  But my Muse is welcome to the credit, if I can keep the goods.

That's one major known problem with the first draft solved, and not something I'd meant this re-read to address at all.  I hope the disentanglement of Kate's plotline will go so well, yesssss!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 3,000 words over the weekend.  The Battle of Carrowglaze concluded, the butcher's bill reckoned, and the lovers reunited.  One last scene before this chapter can end: the wonderful, grievous, and terrible Night Without Stars.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 240 words. The Big Bad driven off - just how far she's 'defeated', or otherwise, being somewhat open to interpretation. She slipped a really dirty one right between the lines, even as I started writing this post. How did I not notice that whilst finishing the scene itself?  It's totally in the spirit of everything she's been up to for the last six chapters.

Now Carrowglaze the Dull Tower is fallen at last -

John and Liz and Beggar Bill
Knocked the hog from off his hill.

But my Bad Baron, the Blue Boar of Carrowglaze, is still charging around with all his knights below it - and it's going to take more than a rabble of Beggar Bills, even with Kate's and Luke's banners to rally them, to bring a herd like his down.  The last fatal surge of the battle must follow.  The way it's looking, I think I'm going to have to start pulling away, looking wide, retreating into the rhythm of the tales that will be told of it after.  Anything else after what's happened could only come as anticlimax and false tension.  The finish ought to strike the reader as foredoomed when it comes, and that was true even before what the Big Bad just dumped inside my head.

The close of this chapter will also close this whole Rising arc, and I have some hope to get there over the weekend. 

Then the short climactic Bonfire Arc, and the long-planned Epilogue, and the tale will be told and done.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 800 words, finishing what turns out to be Kate's actual Crowning Moment of Awesome, and strongly suggesting the answer "Not hardly, no!" to the question - even for a devil which otherwise has a, well, diabolically telling sense of humour.

I can probably end up losing a lot of the less inspiring parts of Kate's earlier Speech now, and let her actions here do more than the same job in their place. A bit of tightening up all round, and that should work just fine.

Ow-wow-wow! Now to complete the Big Bad's increasingly ratty contribution to this chapter, and thence to the cadence material.


Jun. 9th, 2011 08:30 am
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 360 words. What a half-trained and severely traumatized apprentice witch can do, the Big Bad can have already done harder, smarter, and more devastatingly. Who'd have thunk it?

- Oh, Kate, dauntless in the mouth of hell! This was your great moment under the Grey Wolf's banner, all along. And this is why this tale can never hold the shape of any plot outline I make beforehand: you are more brilliant in your hour of inspiration, than all the clever ideas I can reason out in a month of not standing in your battered old boots.

I did not know. I could not see.
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 1,260 words.  Battle joined, unjoined, and come unstuck.  The Bad Baron, the Blue Boar of Langdale, gets his one taste of viewpoint, but fails to enjoy it very much.  His revolutionary consumer experience is not improved by the intervention of Something bigger and badder.  Nor is just about anybody else's...


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 260 words.  Yesterday's fairy-tale fragment got them flowing and making sense again.  The great raw intake of breath before the rebel howl.

(I nearly wrote 'rebel yell', before realizing the utter grotesquerie of applying that term to this cause and its temper.  One might almost as well use it of John Brown as of Golden Kate, or of Nat Turner as of Edgar-a-Moss.  The mind and gorge stage a rebellion all their own.)

Grey wolf howls in crimson gloam.
Elf-horns cry, and gods keep mum...

But the elf-horns keep as mum as the gods, and the battle must begin before our rebels are ready.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 240 words.  The tragedy begins to close its jaws, and a nameless sergeant who is probably the greatest real hero on the Bad Baron's side closes skilfully with Fiery Younger Sister in her battle-taking.  The baronial side will never remember him because he was just another churlish servant, and the good guys will never remember him because he was just another soldier of fortune in the army of the Man.  In the grand scale of things, he is one of the least significant characters in the whole tale.

But this is his tale too, or it is no-one's; and though I know next to nothing of him, I doubt I will soon forget him.

Next, the culmination of the Assize in the market-field below.

Without this part of the story, everything before and after would go for nothing.  Also, I think it is doing more or less what it ought to do.  I never expected to hate writing it so very much!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 330 words.  The Bad Baron doesn't know it yet, but the battle's already started.

The timing of the next bit is some of the trickiest in the chapter.  Also, when I devised the blue forgetful hills on the southerly marches three years ago, I didn't foresee that both Luke and Bonecold would find creative ways of using them at different times.  This newest sleight of Bonecold's may yet make the difference between outrageous character daring and outrageous authorial cheating!

Like most magic tricks in the Kateverse, it's only in the narrowest senses a cheap one.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
...comes the dungcart.

Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 460 words.  The Bad Baron has now made his entrance, and there is a real dungcart legitimately involved in the proceedings.  But there's a metaphorical one waiting in the wings that he doesn't know about, and he's not going to be so happy about that one.

Now to make the delivery.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: No words, but the structure and sequence of the Assize and Battle of Carrowglaze - which take up this whole chapter between them - finally laid out properly. Now to walk around it until I see, feel, and smell everything I need for the next transitional scene, until I can take it to the beginning of the real action: Enter the Bad Baron.

It's going to be a long, hard, and eventful chapter, with a lot more than the originally-planned action pack going on in it. I'll be well satisfied if I can conclude it by the end of the month.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (golden kate)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 140 words, and my heroes have reached the field of contention at last. I thought the swooping-in narrative perspective at the beginning of this chapter was purely a device to provide context, but now I see it does another job: helping provide a sense of farewell to Golden Kate, who is after all riding into a peril from which she cannot reasonably expect to return, even in victory. And precisely because she has nothing to hope for herself, her fierce old heart is lightened at last, and the mood of the piece lifted up and into stranger tension.

My big job for today is to plan out the events of the Assize and the Battle in detail. Timing and its failures are going to be everything here: this is one bit I simply can't make up as I go along, or out of the elvish mists in my head.
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland: 270 words, riding towards the field of judgement. Riding - that's been central to the recent drought of writing. The more I thought about the Battle of Carrowglaze, the less my plans seemed plausible solutions to my heroes' logistics, stealth, and cavalry issues. I am not a great tactician, and it's taken me some time to even glimpse a way out without loading all the dice obviously in their favour. But now they have a fallback plan that makes sense, in a very desperate do-or-die way; and speaking of do-or-die and death-or-glory, it gives Golden Kate something to do in the battle that only she possibly could.

What I should have realized from the outside is that a captain as war-wise as Sir Richard would certainly have schemed to take full control of the timing, from well before his enemies knew a fight was coming. He's no genius, but he's no dummy either, and he has experience of a kind that Kate and her peasant allies simply don't. He's also served under a commander who - considered on the purely tactical level - was very good indeed.

Moving our friends' strategy thus wholly into the active column takes us from "waiting for terrible things' unfolding, then reacting suddenly and boldly" to "taking tenuous and covert control of the situation, losing it early when forced to react, and needing to recapture it quickly at grim odds". Not only is this much more dramatic, but I can actually believe it could work without my cheating. Which makes it much more attractive, as well as more pointful, to write.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
South Stack
South Stack from the cliff-stair, by Goat in the Machine on Flickr.

This sort of thing is why Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland is not progressing as lightning-fast as it might, just now. Nevertheless, 580 words yesterday on the Chapter of Battle. The wide-view, lord's-eye prospect shown: next to see the few more things that show up for those trudging on foot or riding in an ass-cart. Beneath the Bent of Carrowglaze, the people are pooling at last.


caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

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