July 15, 2010
Fascinating book, definitely not the quick/lightweight fastasy read I was expecting when I received an advance copy.
From your comments so far on this forum, you seem to be forthcoming about aspects of the book. I offer the observation that Gryka is a captivating figure, with the potential to become a feminist icon. That said, I would ask you why you wrote The Gnoll Credo. What was your inspiration? Is it Gryka's story, is it a message about the superiority of paleo culture, or something else?
February 22, 2010
I offer the observation that Gryka is a captivating figure, with the potential to become a feminist icon. That said, I would ask you why you wrote The Gnoll Credo. What was your inspiration? Is it Gryka's story, is it a message about the superiority of paleo culture, or something else?
The Gnoll Credo is Gryka's book: I just wrote it down.
She is absolutely real, and I'm the only one who knows her story. I had to tell it as best I could, so that others could know at least a small part of the joy, pain, and wonder I felt—and the knowledge I gained—from knowing her.
I absolutely did not set out to write a book with an agenda—political, social, or otherwise. I simply wrote Gryka's story as best I could. She is fierce, joyous, hilariously blunt, absolutely compelling, and I'm very sad that she's gone. I still miss her.
The Epilogue is where I try to come to terms with what I learned from
her. The book summarizes it best (and it's much better to hear Gryka tell it), but I'll try to touch on some important points:
Gnolls aren't human...but they're much closer to human than we modern "civilized" people are today. Our nature is defined by the millions of years we spent living in small, migratory packs and hunting down large animals with rocks tied to sticks—not by a few thousand years of plowing land, or by sixty years of driving cars to and from offices.
And while agriculture was a necessary intermediate step to our future—because it pushed us to develop technology beyond the atlatl and dart and the bow and arrow—it is clear that hunting and gathering ("foraging") lasted us for several million years, whereas agriculture and extractive technology is about to destroy the Earth's ability to support us in perhaps ten thousand years.
Most importantly, all our material wealth and awesome toys are not making us any happier than before...because humans have been shaped by our ability to make tools, work together, and hunt large animals, not our ability to write TPS reports or dig irrigation ditches. Hunting is literally what made us human, instead of little 90-pound savanna apes with tiny brains.
No, we cannot "come home to the Pleistocene," no matter what Paul Shepard says: but our way forward as a species must involve acknowledging, celebrating, and most importantly, living our true nature as hunters and foragers. Otherwise we will continue on our current path, which leads in the short term to unhappiness, poverty, and slavery, and in the long term to our own death as a species.
October 17, 2010
You mentioned in a couple different threads how Gryka is, as you say above, "absolutely real, and I'm the only one who knows her story. I had to
tell it as best I could, so that others could know at least a small
part of the joy, pain, and wonder I felt—and the knowledge I
gained—from knowing her."
I'm not trying to be obtuse here and I understand that a lot of creative people have a very real connection to their work but I'm not entirely sure how to take a comment like this. Gnolls aren't real – hell, the back of your book states that explicitly – and I don't think you're honestly suggesting they are… but I also kind of want to make sure that isn't what you're saying, just to be able to understand what you're saying.
Because, who knows: I'd be crazy to insist we've figured out everything in this universe when the implications of quantum mechanics alone are enough to call plenty of apparently obvious things into question… but, again, I only know you through your book and a couple posts on the internet, so it's difficult to know what to make of a statement like the one above. You could be joking, you could be serious – people dress up as gnolls and who am I to judge?
That said, I don't have a huge problem with believing in the truth of fictional characters; in many ways, I honestly believe they can have just as much or more impact on our lives as the living, breathing people surrounding us – I've had plenty of dreams where I've imagined myself interacting with characters from books I've read or movies I've seen and I'm obviously not the only person to have done so. And, like many people, I'm not immune to the immersive power of a good story – I can't watch "The Iron Giant" without misting up toward the ending and I don't really care who knows it. By the same token, I'm glad to have met Gryka and Aidan and look forward to visiting them again in the future.
But isn't there a danger, however slight, in identifying too much with fictional constructs? Earlier tonight, I read a review of an epsidoe of Star Trek:The Next Generation on the pop culture site, the AVClub: the episode concerned the character Barclay and his introduction to the series, which involved his use of the holodeck to create versions of his co-workers that he was more comfortably able to interract with. And as the show and the review and most of our life experiences seem to indicate, this type of disassociation can go from harmelss fun to dangerously anti-social without anyone really knowing where the dividing line was or when it was crossed. We can get so caught up in the fictional, imaginary or just unimportant bullshit – whether it's a sports team or some abstract numbers on a stock market ticker or an airbrushed pinup – that we stop paying attention to the things in our life that are right next to us, things and people and events we can actually have some meaningful effect upon.
I'm not saying that's what you're doing when you say Gryka is real; I'm just asking: what do you mean, when you say Gryka is real?
February 22, 2010
Most fiction provides the reader a safe harbor from which to view its narrative, providing distance from uncomfortably direct observations or awkward truths. It is acceptable, even "transgressive" or "edgy", to write absolutely anything, no matter how violent or disgusting -- so long as the reader is allowed to compartmentalize it as "literary expression". In other words, dangerous predators are acceptable, and even sexy, so long as they remain safely enclosed in the zoo, on the other side of the fence.
I have no interest in playing that game. One moment of authentic, lived experience is worth an infinite number of manufactured spectacles. You will have to decide for yourself how real Gryka is.
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