Tuesday News: Romantic attraction, running, SFF & Mormonism, and Barbie appeals to boys
Why We Are Attracted to Deviant Personalities – Given the discussions we have in Romance about what makes a “good” or “healthy” relationship, this study is pretty interesting. At this point, though, it seems like there are many more qualifications and limitations than conclusions, especially given the potential failures in self-reporting, the number of subjects, and the myriad reasons people are attracted to each other and the circumstances under which relationships do and do not succeed. Still, some provocative tendencies, however valid they are (or are not) as actual findings:
The study results show both males and females who were pathologically reckless and impetuous attracted more short-term partners than participants with average personalities. And obsessive-compulsive males—but not females—were successful at securing long-lasting mates, an outcome strongly associated with this group’s high income (obsessive-compulsives made nearly twice as much as the less obsessive study participants), Gutiérrez says.
The study results also revealed that neurotic females were more likely to be in lasting relationships. The most neurotic female participants had 34 percent more long-term mates and 73 percent more children than average despite exhibiting a trait typically associated with instability, anxiousness and insecurity, he explains. – Scientific American
Why Writers Run – Another of the pieces I’ve been seeing more of lately in The Atlantic — namely a short, provocative essay that raises some interesting questions and issues but doesn’t really delve deep. Do writers love to run? I’ve lately noticed a lot of Romance heroes who love to run, often when they’re pissed at the heroine for something, but how solid is this stereotype about writers? And is it more about the sedentary work posture of the writer than about some kind of zen creativity?
Why do writers so often love to run? Running affords the freedom of distance, coupled with the literary appeal of solitude. There’s a meditative cadence to the union of measured breaths and metered strides. Writers and runners both operate on linear planes, and the running writer soon realizes the relationship between art and sport is a mutually beneficial one. The novelist Haruki Murakami, a former Tokyo jazz-bar manager who would smoke 60 cigarettes a day, started running to get healthy and lose weight. His third novel had just been published, but he felt his “real existence as a serious writer [began] on the day that I first went jogging.” Continual running gave him the certainty that he could “make it to the finishing line.” – The Atlantic
Sci-Fi Writer William Shunn: The Book of Mormon Is a Lot Like Lord of the Rings – I’ve been vacillating for two days about whether to post this story, but my curiosity won out. Curiosity about what other people (especially Mormons) think about Shunn’s figuration of Joseph Smith as an unintentional inspiration to Mormon SFF writers. His comments on how his parents discouraged him from writing Science Fiction, because it was “evil” are set against the relatively large Utah SFF writing community, centered at Brigham Young University.
“I consider Joseph Smith to be the ur-science fiction writer of Mormonism. He essentially invented a whole fantasy world in The Book of Mormon—at least that’s how I look at it. And in fact he was a fan fiction writer too, because The Book of Mormon is nothing if not Bible fan fiction. If you look at The Book of Mormon as his Lord of the Rings, the rest of his theology is kind of like The Silmarillion—he went back and filled in all the history and cosmology of the universe. … I look at The Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith’s first novel, and he commits the same sin that any writer does when they’re writing their first novel. He seems to be the main protagonist through the first part of the novel. … There are all kinds of interesting parallels between Joseph’s life and The Book of Mormon, and I really think that [Nephi] is the Mary Sue in that book.” – Wired
Boy Stars in New Barbie Commercial – The new trend toward gender neutrality in toys goes right to the wall with this new Moschino Barbie commercial (note also the racial diversity). Although there may be some other stereotyping going on here, re. boys and fashion, it’s still a big step forward. – The Advocate
I’m a post Mormon, so I had to check out the wired article (mostly to make sure it mentioned Orson Scott Card, who actually has a fictionalized SFF series about JOseph smith–the Alvin Maker books. Also, Mormon theology/cosmology certainly lends itself to SFF. See parallels between the King Follet Discourse (a funeral sermon JS gave) and Battlestar Gallactica. http://mormonthink.com/glossary/battlestargalactica.htm
“Joseph Smith as an unintentional inspiration to Mormon SFF writers” …
As someone who was raised in a multi-generation Mormon family in Salt Lake City (but who finally gave up participating in the church, paying tithing, etc. about a year when I got sick of certain policies, doctrines, & attitudes towards women, LGBT concerns, etc.), I guess I could see JS serving as inspiration to some Mormon SFF writers in the sense that he is a heroic figure in Mormondom who, as a young boy, sets off on a quest to find the “right” religion, faces opposition, eventually is rewarded by God with a vision that the “right” church doesn’t currently exist & that he’s therefore been called by God to establish it himself as a newly appointed prophet. The story continues and it’s all very mythic-hero-quest stuff.
So considering that and the religion’s ideal of agency (i.e., people are to take actions for themselves, determine what it is God wants of them personally, rather than sitting around waiting to be told what to do; the Church teaches that agency is a God-given right that is to be greatly respected and protected–the idea of forcing someone to do something, anything is therefore abhorrent), I can see how this sense of individualism and heroism could inspire many writers who grow up being taught these stories and values.
RE SFF being regarded as “evil,” I was born in Salt Lake in 1984 and grew up reading just about everything under the sun. I wouldn’t call my parents liberal (not on most issues anyway), but they’re certainly open-minded conservatives. As a kid, they never gave me grief when I brought home SFF, romance, or books in general that many would say were too “adult” for my age. I didn’t wave my sex-scene-filled romance books around the house, but I was never discouraged from checking them out from the library either, even as a 12-year old. :)
I just re-read the end of my comment — I don’t want to come off as though I’m denying that some people grew up in a stricter environment or to dismiss their experiences. I just meant to express how very strange the idea of being forbidden SFF books is to my own lived experience of open acceptance. It wasn’t even an issue in my house or in my friends’ when we were growing up. Shunn may very well be referring to a predominant attitude that’s before my time. *shrug*
I, too, am completely baffled by the assertion that Mormons consider SciFi to be evil. I believe he’s conflating Mormonism with evangelical Christianity or other, more strict apostolic Protestant traditions, which is interesting as they’re as alike as oil and water. (It also casts the rest of his assertions in doubt.) Reading is heavily encouraged, although artistic pursuits are seen as unproductive when you should be making a living and/or serving others. With regard to romance, as long as there’s no explicit language or sexx0ring, it’s all good, and there’s a huge market for those kinds of books outside the church.
I have my own opinions about why scifi is the artistic norm amongst Mormon (mostly) men, but they’re more boring and pedestrian than “biblical fanfiction.”
@Moriah Jovan: Yes! Well said — you expressed many ideas that were only half-formed thoughts in my own mind! :)
I am a writer who runs. It’s nothing to do with all that ‘clearing the head’ and mindfulness bollocks; it’s to stop my arse from taking over the sofa.
I’m another writer who chooses running over other forms of exercise for the profoundly philosophical reason that it costs nothing, which fits nicely within the budget of most writers.