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November 7, 2002

Movie rules governing Aboriginal Persons and their Ancestral Mystic Stuff
Posted by Teresa at 08:40 PM *

(I’m sorry; this crawled out from under my fingers today while I was trying to write something else…)

1. The mystical powers wielded by any Aboriginal Person who wanders into the storyline shall be sufficient to accomplish anything that needs to happen for the plot to reach its climax and resolution.

2. Any ethnically Aboriginal Person who has a Western education and profession, but also has some acquaintance with Ancestral Mystic Stuff, will be unable to do whatever is required of him by the plot until that point at which he rejects all his education and training, and goes with the Ancestral Mystic Stuff instead; whereupon Rule #1 will kick in.

3. Any non-Aboriginal Person who’s living with Aboriginals or has otherwise gone native shall be subject to the general rules governing Aboriginal Ancestral Mystic Stuff.

4. What would under any other circumstances be continuing social or romantic relationships between Westerners and non-Westernized Aboriginal Persons shall be terminated before the closing credits roll.

5. The class of “Aboriginals with Ancestral Mystic Stuff” shall include the Amish, obscure Catholic orders, and any other non-Jewish non-mainstream religion, organization, tribe, or society that wears funny hats and Isn’t Like Us.

6. Non-B.C. Jews are exempt from all plot conventions governing Persons Not Like Us who have Ancestral Mystic Stuff. They shall be understood to have Ancestral Mystic Stuff in spades; just not the kind that can resolve an action/adventure plotline or get you out of Auschwitz.

Comments on Movie rules governing Aboriginal Persons and their Ancestral Mystic Stuff:
#1 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2002, 09:12 PM:

Reading slush again, eh? ;->

#2 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2002, 09:47 PM:

Print Corollary #1 (Genre Division)

In fantasy novels, when Aboriginal Mystic Stuff is encountered by Competent White Guys with engineering degrees (or those who would have acquired engineering degrees had they not been occupied with the invention of flight-capable SUVs, Vegas Strip casinos located beyond Earth's atmosphere, or operating systems with cataplectic file structures), said White Guys will immediately put the Aboriginal Mystic Etc. on a sound empirical-theoretical footing and out-whammy the local whammy artists at all events including Being Invisible to Guards, Karmic Sumo, and the Pyroclastic Virgin Toss. Occasionally this situation will be played for humor, but less often than one might think.

#3 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2002, 11:20 PM:

Looks more like TV/Movies to me, Laurie.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 12:46 AM:

Mostly TV/Movies, with a few comic books thrown in.

You're right, Mike. Those Competent White Guys will manage to do things with the local mystic technology the natives have never managed any time in the last millennium; and they'll do it without running into any gotchas.

#5 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 11:59 AM:

7. Cinematic depictions of Ancestral Mystic Stuff must be accompanied by appropriate music, such as a digeredoo, throat-singing, or Aztech flute.

#6 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 01:09 PM:

Someone's prayin', Lord,
Cue the Moog,
Cut the flanger in,
Cue the Moog,
Bring Farfisa, Lord,
Cue the Moog,
On the backbeat,
Cue the Moog.

#7 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 01:11 PM:

Re: Rule #6 (there's a rule #6? That's gnu -- no, gnu is in the topic above-- oh, never mind)

There is a question whether the Ancestral Mystic Stuff at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark actually resolved a plotline. And it appears to be trumped by Western Mystic Stuff, i.e. U.S. Bureacracy.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 03:23 PM:

Sorry: My suggested Rule #7 should probably have referred to "overtone chanting," not "throat singing," and "Mayan" not "Aztech."

Aztech is a manufacturer of power supplies, not an ancient people whose Ancestral Mystic Stuff involved open heart surgery.

#9 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 05:35 PM:

And "Aztek" makes airbrushes, while of course "Maya" is a powerful 3D animation engine.

There's probably a high-tech Inca or two out there (not counting the strange French computer games of a few years back), but the Googling is left to the interested onlooker.

#10 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 05:55 PM:

Amish Mystic Stuff is accompanied by a single flute playing a slow arrangement of "Simple Gifts." If things get really intense, the flute may be joined by a clarinet.

My parents know plenty of Amish (upstate, NY variety) but so far have not reported any employment of ancestral mystic stuff. I figure they haven't been to enough ice cream socials to overcome the stigma of being English.

Teresa, what is a "B.C. Jew?"

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 07:54 PM:

Even though "Simple Gifts" is a Shaker hymn?

B.C. Jews lived prior to the incarnation, crucifixion, and whatever further activities your beliefs entail, of Jesus Christ. Before that point, Jews could part seas, invoke plagues, cause the walls of Jericho to fall down, turn staves into snakes and vice-versa, and much other Heavy Stuff, not to mention having that Ark. Afterward they changed their act completely, and instead specialized in humor and suffering.

Glenn, of course the Ark resolves the plotline. Before, they were tied up and surrounded by wicked Nazis; after, not. I figure the bit at the end where it goes into storage is there by way of explaining why they didn't then take the Ark and use it to win WWII.

#12 ::: Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 08:31 PM:

I don't know what genre-trash John M. Ford has been reading, but in the genre-trash I read, it is required that Competent White Guys will be severe rationalists who will scoff at the very existence of Aboriginal Ancestral Mystic Stuff, but will be shown up as hopeless fools during the last chapter.

At this point the author has a choice as to what to do with the White Guys: to use the AAMS to kill or otherwise degrade and humiliate them, to convert them to the true religion of AAMS, or to leave them blustering in chattering futility.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 08:34 PM:

"Even though "Simple Gifts" is a Shaker hymn?"

Hey, were ARE talking movies.

"B.C. Jews lived prior to the incarnation, crucifixion, and whatever further activities your beliefs entail, of Jesus Christ."

Oh, you mean B.C.E. Jews. No wonder I was confused.

#14 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 10:41 PM:

Mr Ford: I'd lay odds the software Maya is not named after the South American nation, but the Hindu goddess of illusion (i.e. what we call the material world).

On a related (through the ADD brain) note: Someone who was writing to me elsewhere used the term 'manna' to describe the energy used in magic. No, no, no! 'Manna' is food from God in the Jewish and Christian traditions; in the latter, esca viatorum/o panis angelorum/o manna caelitum &c. 'Mana' is Polynesian, and means power-from-within or inherent in all things; atman, ache, raith.

But try telling them that. Why, you can't even convince people that 'Babel' and 'babble' are unrelated anymore; that folk etymology is the dominant belief on the topic now...[subsides, muttering "damn kids" and other crotchety rolled-trouser guy stuff]

#15 ::: Stephanie Zvan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2002, 11:28 PM:

Hey, at least the white guys get a choice on whether to be the apparent superhero or the thick-skulled skeptic--even the good guys.

The women by and large have their choice determined by which side of the conflict they're on. The few who get to be villains (and don't tell me you've never wanted to be one) _all_ get to be wrongly skeptical. The rest uniformly and willingly abandon education, culture, and home--and usually get stuck pregnant with some kind of messiah to boot. On top of all that, it's often the kid who gets the power. Where's the fun in that?

#16 ::: Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 01:24 AM:

Mayans are from South America?

Maybe in the movies.

#17 ::: Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 09:29 AM:

OK, Meso. Or North. Or maybe they're from Australia or Atlantis. I'm a linguist, not a geographer.

Which is no excuse. 39 lashes with an ocelot tail (still attached to a living and quite happy, if somewhat sadistic, ocelot).

#18 ::: kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 10:36 AM:

I think Clumsy Carp is a BC Jew, and possibly Curls.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 07:12 PM:

Simon, John M. Ford is a recognized expert on genre trash; and the trash is the better for it.

The White Guys who are severe rationalists, scoff at Ancestral Mystic Stuff, and get their comeuppance in the end, aren't Competent. That's the difference.

#20 ::: Simon Shoedecker ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2002, 11:25 PM:

Teresa, these guys think they're competent, and one cannot for sure tell whether they'll turn out to be so or not until the end. I fear that the distinction is vaguely tautological.

I do not claim to be an expert on genre trash. But I have seen many cases of the kind I've described, but few or none of the kind Mr. Ford is describing.

Perhaps it is a difference in genre? Some of Mr. Ford's description (especially "said White Guys will put the Aboriginal Mystic Etc. on a sound empirical-theoretical footing") sounds to me more like a trope from science fiction, where everything can be explained empirically, than fantasy, where empirical explanations are often automatically distrusted. I know he said fantasy, but whatever he's thinking of, it's not the trash-fantasy novels I've read.

#21 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2002, 01:22 PM:

"Never mess with a librarian" might be a good rule to add to the list.

Especially if she's taught her son to read Ancient Egyptian.

#22 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2002, 09:24 PM:

"Never mess with a librarian" might be a good rule to add to the list.

Yeah, Spider says we're the secret masters of the universe. Works for me.


#23 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2002, 08:08 AM:

Librarians are not Aboriginal Persons.

#24 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2002, 12:51 AM:

Re Christopher's musings on "manna", "babel", et al., I've recently been bemused/confused by misuse of "kahunas" (Anglicized, I suppose, plural of Hawaiian aboriginal religious leaders) when the person meant "cojones" (Hispanic/Latino reference to male reproductive organs and the alleged psychological effect thereof). The latter may be an even more Ancestral Mystical belief, though, at least for those with Y chromosomes.

And as for librarians, whether we're aboriginal or not, I agree with Dave and Mary Kay: we do rule.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2002, 02:38 PM:

True. You're one of the tribes of Secret Rulers of the Universe.

#26 ::: Kip ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2002, 03:43 PM:

A friend of mine explained why they have to tear down the woods to build a new strip mall next to the empty husk of the previous strip mall. The mana gets used up, so of course nobody wants to use the old one. Probably the same reason you see 7-11s die, only to turn into something else (or a sequence of somethings, with a storefront church signifying the final step before demolition), after which a new 7-11 gets built next to it.

We lived near the Astrodome in Houston for a couple of years, and somehow a step was skipped. There were two 7-11s across the street from each other. Talk about convenient!

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