Letters Column for January 2007: “Only in Kenya”

Thank you for your kind words on or before January 3,

Rand Brittain


So… the world continues to exist because of sheer exasperation? I suppose it’s better than the alternative.
— Rand Brittain

. . . but . . . but . . . teams of tiny butterflies in harness vigorously pulling stray molecules into place!

How can you possibly prefer exasperation to teams of tiny butterflies?

Look at their adorable little faces! Their vibrant wings! Their sectarian strife over a point of tiny adorable doctrine!


Anyway, have you seen the Dr Who Christmas Special? I couldn’t help but think about Hitherby at one point.
— GoldenH

I have! When was that?


In the real world, it’s hard to come up with something that Max could have done that would be as bad.
— rpuchalsky

I think that you’re thinking Eurocentrically.

I really do like Sid and Max better as a post-heteronormative love that doesn’t have to have or preclude sexual attraction in it to be real. But if they’re gay, you know, they could be living in metaphorical Kenya.

With the lions.

And the 5-14 years prison sentences for carnal knowledge against the order of nature, which is probably aggravated if one of the parties involved is a siggort.

But that’s not why I’m bringing this up again. Rather, it’s because I’m curious if you’ve had any new thoughts on this since we last talked in January! ^_^


Also, because I didn’t know about that law until just now, I feel a song coming on!


We hide all our gay folk
Only in Kenya
Come to Kenya, there’s no gay folk.

Papal bulls bugger hedgehogs
But only in Kenya
Come to Kenya, buggered hedgehogs
Lions and tigers.

Forget Norway!

Kenya, oh Kenya,
Where the giraffes have

Nobody wear condoms!
Only in Kenya
Come to Kenya, there’s no condoms.

Men don’t get willies
Only in Kenya
Come to Kenya, don’t get willies.

Kenya, Kenya, Kenya
Kenya, come to Kenya
Can you believe it?!


Also, forget Pratchett!


Genius. Leopard-print-negligee-sporting genius.
— tikitu

How did you get those pictures??


— ADamiani



That’s all for today!

3 thoughts on “Letters Column for January 2007: “Only in Kenya”

  1. Oh, David, don’t ask for more letters columns. They’re difficult!

    As for “any new thoughts”, I am automatically thrown (despite the source) into the hunt for sarcastic rather than straightforward meaning — being so used to people sadly questioning the need for “walls of text” that repeat points that I’ve written many times before.

    At any event, thinking of the story *as if* the world was more Eurocentric feels to me like an act of faith, at this point. This may conflict with understanding why Max, in the story, really feels as he does, but since Max is a character rather than a real person, it’s a matter of damaging my understanding of one story in favor of enhancing my belief in another. Does that make any sense? I don’t think my interpretation of the Max-and-Sid story actually denies anything that is written, or major subtext; I very early on in it compared Max’s difficulties in accepting Sid to those of a teen accepting the (friendship/more-than-friendship) of a gay teen. The key is how much Max has internalized the feeling that it’s wrong for him to love Sid and that what Sid is doing is wrong, not the worry (faced by actual teens in Kenya and elsewhere) about punishment.

  2. Oh, yes, letters columns, that reminds me.

    I’ve sometimes wondered how to theorize our existence with Hitherby — that is, the existence of the real-world Web commenters. Because it’s clear that we do in a certain very specialized sense create effects within this fictional world. I don’t just mean the stories in which the tower crew refer to broadcasting their productions to an audience outside the world, or the way in which the Quik Club is referred to as making legends out of legends. I’m also referring to the way in which sometimes what Rebecca writes will implicitly refer to something written by a commenter. I think that there are fairly clear cases where this has happened. Therefore, if Rebecca is the creator of Hitherby — though she has denied being the one on the throne of the world — then we have a sort of influence on events in that fictional world. I referred to this explicitly within the “Unclean Legacy” series.

    So what kind of mythical model is this? As Hitherby entities, we:

    1) Can not be affected by anything within the fictional Hitherby universe, except perhaps emotionally;

    2) Can not directly affect anything;

    3) Can potentially have a sort of indirect effect through our communications with the one who actually does make everything happen.

    Does anyone know of a myth-structure that this fits into? The concept of Christian intercessors of various kinds doesn’t work, for reasons too numerous to mention (but which I guess I would mention if anyone thought so).

    I tend to think that there’s something vaguely Chinese about it, because the interaction is written, and it’s too bad that I don’t know more Chinese myth. I picture a sort of immaterial spirit, observing all that happens in a world below, but with no power to affect events — except that of putting pen to paper and sending to Heaven a letter which is very likely to be read. Heaven itself is in some ways limited; the story has its own internal consistency, and could not be changed with complete arbitrariness. So there are minimal, around-the-edges effects.

    From an imagined viewpoint internal to Hitherby rather than external, I suppose that we might look like isn’ts, given that we have potential magical powers that in the end can’t create any major change. However, we’d have an odd function — that of helping to sustain the world. Maybe Rebecca would continue to write Hitherby if we weren’t commenting, but it appears that comments do make it at least somewhat more likely, based on what she’s previously written. (Lurkers, consider that to be your cue, BTW.)

    What would the sentence-summation of our role be, if we were listed in the Hitherby entities list?

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