Comment on Paradox

  1. Oh my sweet Lord, this story.

    I was recced this the other day by a fellow fan, who mentioned the mention of Boswell, but then I promptly opened this in a tab and got busy with other things.

    Today I came back to that open tab and began to read. I had forgotten the specifics my friend had told me, so getting to the Boswell quote at the end hit me like the happiest, most amazing ton of bricks ever. He retired right as I started college, so I didn't get to take a class with him. But even though I was a freaking BIOCHEMISTRY major, I read Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality and Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe during my senior year of college because they were books about how I was not alone. I had never connected that message in Boswell's work with what I take from Willis' stories, which is also that we are not alone, that people are people and that friendships do bridge centuries. Spring break of my senior year, I was stuffing the library's copy of Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality in my suitcase to take back to school when my mom looked at it and then looked at me and said, "Are you gay?" I'd actually forgotten that Boswell outed me to my mother, until now. Heh.

    So now I'm sitting on my sofa crying happy tears and trying to figure out how to explain this to my mother. Y'see, she fell in love with Blackout and All Clear this year after I took her to see St. Paul's and told her stories of the fire watch that I'd learned from those books. (I really, truly did not understand the double roof structure until I saw it in person. Whew.) So now I'm seeing the threads woven through my linear trip through my life, because I guess in that way we're all time travelers, just unidirectionally. Thank you SO much for writing this.

    PS If that was a deliberate Niffenegger reference, I see what you--or rather Melody Goode--did there. :)

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    1. a ginger and a pair of wicked cats

      First, thank you for this comment! It was absolutely wonderful to read, and I'm sorry to have been so long about responding (I had watched a chapter deadline sail past and really needed to get caught up). The Boswell line is actually from Carolyn Dinshaw's Getting Medieval, in a chapter where she talks about Boswell a lot. I didn't set out to use it, but I had gone to Oxford for a research trip in early December and because I was there at Christmas time, was thinking a lot about Doomsday Book and what Yuletide story I was going to write. I was curled up rather late at night in the Gladstone Link, the part of the Bodleian that is underground, reading through Dinshaw for my totally-unrelated-to-Yuletide thesis and ran across that quote. It's from a letter a man wrote to Boswell after having read Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality--he was a historian at another university, I'm not sure who or which one, and had that exact same feeling you talk about, of not being alone. (It ends with something like, 'now I have gay friends through the centuries.') And I realised that's so it, that's exactly why we're historians or medievalists or whatever, because there are people in time we connect with so completely that we feel like we know them.

      Thank you for the story, about Boswell's book outing you to your mother and how it all comes full circle. Really, truly--I got teary reading it, because I know we're all really just doing fanfic and Yuletide presents and stuff here, but if something you write connects with another human in a meaningful way, that is basically the most awesome thing in the world.

      (And it was indeed a reference--I haven't even read the book, but like most of the world I know the title, so there we are!)

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