Love quotes about age doesn't matter

Discover and share Age Doesnt Matter Love Quotes. Explore our collection of motivational and famous quotes by authors you know and love. But sometimes we tend to focus on the age differences between people, but we forget that age is just the number. As long as there is a true love and the commitment, nothing else matters. Here are some quotes about love and age difference that show us that love doesn’t know age. Everyone says that looks don't matter, age doesn't matter, money doesn't matter. But i never met a girl yet who has fallen in love with an old ugly man who's broke. Votes: 3 Finding True Love Quotes. Great quote indeed. Home; Contact us; Select Page. Age does’nt matter. Posted by Love Jul 10, 2020 Mind Over Matter Quotes 0 . Age does’nt matter. Share: Previous Journaling challenge to uncover your passions and purpose. About The Author. Love. Related Posts. 30 Mind Over Matter Quotes. May 3, 2020. Dr ... age doesn't matter in love quotes – Google Search. in Love Quotes. age doesn't matter in love quotes – Google Search. 13 November 2017, 8 h 31 min. 17 shares; Share; Tweet; Pinterest; Love quote and saying. Image. Description. age doesn't matter in love quotes – Google Search. Partager : Discover and share Age Doesnt Matter Quotes Relationships. Explore our collection of motivational and famous quotes by authors you know and love.

Queen H hates car seats

2020.07.10 16:23 thethowawayduck Queen H hates car seats

Because of course she does 🙄
I do not give permission for this to be shared anywhere, etc....
No advice needed per se, but I’d love to hear if other people have had this issue, and what they did. Car seats seem to be a hot topic with the JNs.
So my MIL has always had a hate on for car seats. I think this is because:
For how frantic and high strung she is, you’d think she’d love her a safety feature like a car seat, but nope. She hates them. Has called them a money grab, claims expiration dates are only so you have to buy new ones more than every 40 years, has a massive survivors bias that they’re barely even necessary, etc... She’s made arguments for using a 20+ year old care seat she found at a garage sale (“it’s newer than the one I saved that you won’t let me use!” That car seat she saved? Was 30+ years old. Darn right we won’t let you use it!), for putting kids in seats that are years too old for them, for “just this once”, for “just a quick trip” not using a car seat, for demanding to know what we’d do in an emergency if there wasn’t a car seat available (but couldn’t explain when or how that “emergency” would come about)
For comparisons sake, a direct quote from my Mom, who had kids in the same era as QH: What better use of technology and research than to keep babies safer. I’m sure so many needless injuries and deaths have been prevented by modern care seats, they’re just so much better than anything we had when you were born. Too right, mom!
A few months ago QH offered to buy us a car seat for our impending addition. DH and I side eyed each other like, OFC. She wouldn’t offer to buy a bassinet or diapers or something else that has no history of drama and strife. Of course she offers to buy a car seat. We made some polite mouth noises, but agreed that we’d believe it when we saw it and kind of forgot about her offer.
Them SIL and BIL has their baby! Yay! In true QH fashion, she was satisfied with long, daily visits for a bit (this was allowed where they are), but right about the time the new parents are fed up with seeing her overbearing face everyday? She decides she needs twice daily visits (once at yours, once at hers.) and so when she’s told that, no, actually, visits will be reduced, not increased, she has a temper tantrum. (This has played out like this with every single grandbaby)
SIL texts me- heads up, she’s combustive, we cut visits. Sure enough, a couple hours later, we get a text- She sent us a link and writes “This is the car seat I’m getting you.”
Of course it was the wrong type for a newborn, for what we needed & wanted, and was sketchy looking to boot. I swear, she could have googled “worst rated car seat Canada” and this beauty is what she would have found. I’ve never seen so many one star ratings.
I’m working, so DH takes this one on. He tells her, yeah, that’s not what we need at all, and look at the weight limits on it- that’s for a baby who’s a year old, at least. We wouldn’t be allowed to leave the hospital with baby in that car seat.
Predictably, she blows up. She tries calling, he won’t answer. She sends a wall of spewed text, with lots of capital letters. THIS CARSEAT IS PERFECTLY FINE. She doesn’t know where we got these ideas that we need the best of everything!! We’re so paranoid!! NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE TOP OF THE LINE!!! This car seat wouldn’t be for sale IF IT WASNT SAFE!!! Babies can go in bigger car seats!!!
DH ignores all that noise, and texts her that I know what kind of car seat we need, I’m working right now, but I can let her know later, if she’s still interested.
THIS IS THE CARSEAT SHE BUYING US!! It’s this or NOTHING!! Duck is not the only one who knows anything about car seats!!
Later I do text her the type we need, and reiterate what DH said: the one she plans to buy? Is unusable for us, with a newborn.
I got no response.
Yes, she wanted to fight. If she didn’t, that conversation would have started differently, and gone differently. She threw down an ultimatum as a challenge. She had fee fees to work out after being told to chill on the visits by SIL and BIL so she turned to us to try to pick an argument. I don’t even know if she’s just such a victim that she intentionally chose a loosing battle or if she’s so self important that she truly thought any car seat that caught her eye was obviously the best choice possible. And I’m sure she really enjoyed being told that she was wrong and my opinion mattered more than hers /S.
So yesterday, DH comes across the car seat we actually do want, on sale. So we bought it ourselves. AND NOW WE WAIT. Obviously she knows we need a car seat. Does she try again? Does her car seat show up delivered at our door? Does she cry that we won’t let her be involved when she finds out we bought one ourselves? Does she switch angles and try to force one she found at a garage sale circa 1985 on us? Only time will tell!!
A small desert after that main meal: she also hates insulated car seat covers and thinks it ridiculous that we won’t put baby in the car seat in a snow suit. Because of course she does.
submitted by thethowawayduck to JUSTNOMIL [link] [comments]


2020.07.10 13:51 throwme-away2048 Conscious imprisonment - My thoughts on life and it's purpose

This is sort of a long rant about what i feel regarding reality. Don't take it too seriously, i'm biased and probably mistaken due to my chronic depression. I hope i am, i don't want to be right.
EDIT: I misspelled "Its" my apologies.

In the scope of eternity, there's no point in struggling through our short and mostly uncomfortable existences when nothing you do here matters one bit. As a society, we despise working in unfulfilling and mediocre jobs for years, yet life itself is the most disheartening and unfair work of them all, with no paycheck at the end or even a retirement plan.
So why is it we choose to stick around? The only reason is because we're hardwired to survive, hence suicide and euthanasia are such a taboo subject, we will do anything in our power to avoid death, surrounding ourselves with endless pointless distractions that allow us to keep our minds busy and not ponder on the inevitable.
When someone wants to take their own life, we give them some platitudes along the lines of: "don't do it, there's so much to live for, all your loved ones will miss you". If they clarify they have nothing to live for and no one that cares about them, the average human will continue to insist, stating life is always worth living and "it gets better".
Giving them the approval to croak would be too much, it would destroy the flimsy barrier that separates our illusory world from what lies beyond, and force us to snap out of it and realize hope is something we tell our children so they sleep through the nights. It's a mob mentality, the most primordial of them all, the survival instinct. "If i don't get to leave, nobody else gets to leave"
If confronted with a nihilistic perspective, the average individual will quote "Life might be meaningless but you make your own truth". Hope in this platitude is often replaced with happiness, purpose or whichever chimera they intend to express at the moment. This is a redundant statement that offers no instructions of how to achieve such things, instead telling us to figure it out ourselves. If you pay close attention, you will see hints of psychosis in such statements, what they really suggest, is you willfully delude yourself to the uselessness of living, and come up with an imaginary motive to remain here against all odds and against your own will. Why? Well go figure, you will never obtain such an answer from them, and if you push too hard they will simply go away and get back to their mundane tasks, before they're forced to face an uncomfortable truth.
You could be looking at someone with the most horrid disease on the planet, bedridden and pleading for death daily, having experienced nothing but excruciating agony from their birth. Yet, the majority of society would still insist this individual should not desire his end, and doing so is indicative they are mentally ill and need to be fixed. You are supposed to be happy, it is irrelevant if most of humanity is in a miserable state plagued by war, famine and disease, you will be content with your comfortable first world accommodations and prestige place in the rat race to nowhere, life is a journey not a destination.
So smile and wave as you slog through debt, heartbreaks, betrayal, loss, grief, addiction, pain, hopelessness... High-school and college were the best time of your life and they're not coming back, now it's time to work the end of days, get married, start a family, have kids.
Babies are born screaming as they awaken from the miracle of birth. Your son or daughter will need you to reassure them there's meaning and order in this world, they need to trust you hold the answers to their safety and well-being, parents always know. If you do a good job, they will get to have the most precious gift of all, blissful ignorance for a few years, it's called a childhood.
You're an adult now and in charge of someone else you brought here, why did you do that? Doesn't matter now, your well-being has become secondary, you must care and provide for this human being and protect them from the horrors of the world you have chosen to bring them to.
At you reach middle age you might begin to doubt your life-choices, but it will all be worth it once you reach the golden age. Now you can count the seconds to your imminent demise, each one drawing heavier than the previous, crushing your bones with their weight, as cancer fills your veins. Everyone that cared about you is most likely long gone, unless you're one of the lucky ones and lived up to Hollywood's expectations of "true love".
You're now alone with nothing but your thoughts. Was it all worth it? Do you have any "regrets"? Don't worry, soon you won't remember them, you won't remember much at all. You will lose control of your bodily functions and wither away in some hospital, or your own bed. This was your life, but nothing you have accumulated or strived so hard for will serve you beyond this point, nor will your memories of all the joyful experiences you had persist. All thought ceases, you become one with the void.
Millions of years of evolution have caused us to prioritize rational thinking over biological impulses, which made way for civilization. However, breeding and survival are the strongest of them all, unable to be eradicated and overcome. Even though the most reasonable and logical conclusion to the agony of many would be suicide is the answer, it is simply a thought we must suppress at all costs. Even though natural selection would suggest suicide eliminates the weak individuals from the herd - those unfit for society, the genetic mishaps, misfits and losers - through a natural process which first manifests itself as depression when faced with perceived failure to live up to the expectations of the world, and then through the desire of removing oneself from it. A self-destruct mechanism ingrained in our DNA.
How can you be certain that you're alive because you choose to be, and not due to unconscious slavery to your own genetics? If your mind screams "i want out", and your body is unable to comply, are you a survivor or are you a prisoner? Can you honestly say right now if given the choice, you would deliberately come into this earth and do it all over again?
We make our own happiness. We carve our own path and make our own choices, so those that come next might have a chance to play the same game. If life is a journey and not a destination, make sure you are enjoying it, make sure you're not living with any conditions that bring you constant suffering and pain, for in a short while it will all be gone anyway.
Life is too short to be miserable.
submitted by throwme-away2048 to depression [link] [comments]


2020.07.10 10:18 ArzKiyaHaiKe The brilliance of my dating life - 25, M with comically tragic previous relationships writing my extremely beautiful life experience so far.

This post isn't a call for help. I just wanted to pen down the brilliance that my life so far has been and maybe give you an interesting read to lighten up your Friday in the hours of the lockdown.
A brief history about me, imagine a first bench 'decent' buoy who raises his hands as soon as the teacher inhales and his hand is always taller than the Burj Khalifa when a question is asked. That was me across school and college. Neatly oiled hair, collar button on, crisp ironed uniform and always want to get into IIT. I was good in studies and my gang had people in whose life the most interesting thing that happened was that they were able to solve a Math problem from a textbook of the next grade and the most adventurous they got was when they studied Science before the day of the Social Studies' exam.
Come 12th, I was in the Top 10 in my college but on a national scale I was nowhere. I worked very hard to gain some credibility in the national stage and I began topping the coaching institutes thanks to my hard work. And they say that he who puts in efforts takes the fruit. Accordingly, the IIT dream shattered because of my absolutely brilliant performance in the common exam and I got into another college. It felt like my efforts of 12 years was wasted and I decided I did not want to be this person. I made active efforts to make 'cool' friends in college. I started bunking classes, going out, attending house parties where alcohol was abundant but water was not, started smoking like a diesel guzzler and all this in the first 4 months! 😇 I maintained a decent grade and was still in the top 25% of the class, so that got me extra brownie points.

The first relationship!

It was a girl I met in college. She did not like engineering that much and we were friends mostly because I was helping her with her exams, assignments and projects. In exchange, she taught me how to drive, smoke shisha, grow a pair and tell the waiter that he got my order wrong and we bonded over our love for Bun Samosa. We used to talk about everything under the sky for nights together, but the idea of a relationship was alien to me. She asked me out, and that was the fastest yes a man has told in the history of yes'. Our relationship was great! It lasted about 1.5 years and I don't think we ever had any issues. We were compatible, zero fights and we understood each other. We had the same social interests and we were that couple whose example people quoted. But, she did not like engineering one bit. She was doing it because , apparently, she has to. She was extremely focused on wanting to be a content creator or a writer. Creative industry was her forte, but engineering was just something she did. In the 3rd semester of college (6 months into the relationship), she had a huge mental breakdown. She fought with her parents, left her house and stayed at her friends' place for the night. As is ritual, I got a call from her at 1AM. Now, you've to keep in mind my family and the kind of guy I was in my schooling years. Getting a call at 1AM is akin to somebody dying in my house because remember, I was a first bench, oil-tanker-spill-over-the-head kinda guy who would go to bed by 10PM (according to my parents). When I heard her side of the story, I think my expressions gave it away that I was surprised at the level of drama that has happened. My parents were more worried than me because they were already waiting to know who died and how. I made up a fake story about missed deadline and handled the matter there.
The next day, I went to meet her parents. We knew each other well and I mediated the whole discussion between how she can study what she wants and still have a career. I helped them craft a path where she wouldn't quit engineering immediately but would eventually transition into exploring the creative fields. Both parties satisfied, I started helping her get jobs that she likes. Pulled some strings to get her an internship of sorts and in the next few weeks she had a part time role that she absolutely loved. She worked as an Independent Contributor and the organization was more than happy to have her full time because of the kind of efforts and outcomes she was able to achieve. She did this for another an year or so. And then, out of the blue, she thanked me but she wanted to talk. And as you can see, it was a breakup coming because she wants to focus on her career and it did. I welcomed it with open arms because career is very important and the new found freedom she got was pure. We agreed to stay friends and stay friends we did! In the next 6 months, I would help her justify a relationship she got into and help her maintain it. 🤡 To be very honest, I was mad but then I understand and its okay.
A few more months passed and we cut to my..

Second relationship.

This is a relationship that I got into. I took my time, she took her time, we both discussed a lot of ifs-and-buts and we started dating. We both were nerds of sorts. Similar back stories and IIT dreams. We bonded over code. We built a couple of apps to help the university and we taught each other a lot of good things in code and in life. We had the plans set straight for what our future will be. I think this was in the last year of college and we were almost inseparable as a team. We both got well paying jobs and we were out of college. She was from an upper middle class background and money was never a problem for her. She spent close to 90% of her pay on things that she did not need. She came to me with this issue because she couldn't afford an advanced rent that her landlord asked and it reflected upon her poor financial planning. I am not the best with money, but when I started earning I also started investing. She came to me and we had a talk on savings, goals, etc. After the talk, she made a list of goals and she realized that if she plays her cards right she can have enough money to retire in the next 10 years. If she added marriage and kids into this equation, it would take longer and so she decided to remove it out of the equation. With the sole goal of not having to work, she threw away all other goals and with the goals she threw me out to. Maybe because I was "goals af". This relationship also lasted ~2-2.5 years.
I was 23 then and absolutely heart broken but I could not blame anything or anybody because the decisions made were alright. These two women here are now my best friends! I'm helping one sustain her relationship with another guy and the other discuss investment options. Losing all the faith I had, I succumbed to the idea of an arranged marriage.

... Arranged Marriage

In my community, guys get married rather quickly because the family wants you to pop out long term investments (kids) early assuming they will vest when you are 43 and you can retire. So, when I expressed my desire to settle down my parents were more than happy to help me find a match.
You should understand one thing about my community and it might be true with many others too, we have a on-prem Bumble setup. Yes, you read that right. No need to re-read. Allow me to explain. We have a community center (sometimes virtual over Whatsapp, sometimes real) and there we have a marriage broker of sorts. You fill in 3 forms and drop them in a box. One form has your bio-data (rashi, etc), how much you earn, what you do, your likes, dislikes, goals, wants, habits, etc. The other form has your pictures. And the last form has personal details like name, phone number, family members, possessions (not the spiritual one, own house, 0 debt kind), etc. This is the process for both the guy and the girl. The on-prem Bumble guy pulls out Form No.1 and passes it to the other party. If the other party is satisfied with the details, they're given the photos. (Maybe because we should look at quality of a person and not looks, I don't know). If the photos are alright, then the Form No 3 is given. The Form No 1 has a lot of questions. You've to write a damn essay about yourself and it's a nightmare to write that. I've not cried when I was asked to do my Math homework, but I broke down because that form made me feel like I had no clue who I was. So, there is lot of pruning work that has happen. And now the wheels turn. I get a couple of matches and numbers of the girls' family. I think its right to add here that the oil-spill on my head when I was young did not work that great and male pattern baldness has eaten the best of my hair. So, you can see bald spots on my head.
I won't get into the details but in 50% of the cases, the girl has not read the form at all. Maybe her parents read it or they just blindly 'swiped right' but she is totally in the dark about everything I have written. For ex, a girl was surprised that I was bald. In the pictures I've shared, you can't see one small, microscopic strand of hair and yet she was surprised that I was bald. There are tons of stories, I can create a weekly thread but you get the point. This joke went on for about 2 years. I think I've met 25 women and it hasn't really progressed because of a lot of reasons.
Where I drew the line was when I started meeting women who were curious about how I would fund their education abroad. Let me set the record straight, I'm a big fan of curiosity. I think to be curious is to be human but even I wouldn't worry about this because I absolutely will NOT fund your education abroad. I had another girl ask me what she will get if she marries me. And I don't know, man. Maybe its the age (because these people are 20-23) or maybe I do not understand the people out there but it felt like I was buying a relationship. I opted out of this for the very right reasons, losing a lot of money already.
Next, the oil to my dying lamp came in form of dating apps.

Dating Apps

And this is the best part about dating apps. There are so many options and people are depicting a picture of themselves. This is great because your parents are not looking over your shoulder to ensure you are putting the buzzwords to trap a guy. I made a profile on Bumble and Hinge because apparently Tinder just doesn't want my profile (Also Tinder folks, if you are reading this, pls send OTP).
I love the idea behind Bumble, where you've to put efforts in creating a profile, a bio and your photos. I love the idea behind Hinge more because you've to probably write a 100 mark paper about yourself to activate your profile.
Hinge was great until it started showing me obviously fake profiles and I remembered my days of study from 10th to 12th while creating the profile. Put so much efforts to see these fake profiles? Nah. As the tagline rightly said, it was designed to be deleted and I promptly deleted it. :)
But hey, we have Bumble right? So, I started swiping right. I have bare minimum requirements because I feel true connection is established only when you talk and not through some bios. Obvious red flags and catfish accounts, I avoided. But everything else I right swiped. I never thought I could find love after the whole previous relationships I had. I had almost given up on finding love or even talking to new people. But man I must thank these dating apps, zero matches in 8 months!
Thanks to these experiences, I could curate this post for you. If you want to talk about absolutely anything, PM. If you think I should do something other than follow the 2 rules of dating, let me know! I can't follow the 2 rules because that ship has sailed, sunken and abandoned. Hah hah!
P.S: Some parts of the story were altered due to reasons best known to God. Anonymity
Thanks for the read! If there are any grammatical or spelling mistakes, correct them yourselves oh my god.
submitted by ArzKiyaHaiKe to india [link] [comments]


2020.07.10 02:04 kyleraymundv2 Therapy Session

Coat, hat, degree on the wall, professionally installed carpet. Couch is not a couch per se, more a sterile and pillowless recliner, designed to give one the best experience possible. Lights, walls, bookshelf in the back full of empty pamphlets, stuffed folders, to the brim with index cards and postcards and info on my past clients. Mahogany, not real mahogany, of course, the desk is made out of wood pulp covered by a layer of plywood designed to look like mahogany. Very dry, yet distinguished, and from a distance you could almost call me a professional. I am a professional, I have a degree in all sorts of mental gymnastics, but you wouldn’t know that.
I dress casually at all times, feeling that one can feel more at ease with slacks and a t-shirt, baseball cap flipped to the side. I am nearing middle age, 42, my eyes squint in dusty conditions and my hair is receding like Grunge. I pace from the bookshelf to the chair in the corner , sometimes. Still don’t know why that chair is there, for a wife or parent or something to sit down while their associate is sorted through, though to date I haven’t had any patients accompanied by anyone. Above this chair, which is plastic with comfy padded armrests, next to this is a potted plant, fake of course, about seven inches to the left is a portrait by some famous artist, of what I suppose one would call the impressionist period, Monet and that sort, only this one is a cheap replica I got for $100 at the local auction, the guy even stated that it was a replica, but who cares, it’s a nice painting and some good décor, more suggestive than a Rorschach test, though I still keep a deck of those stashed in the drawer, just in case.
The painting has ample strokes and pleasant overtones, but something about it makes the mind do acrobatics. I’ve had three of my quota mention that they’ve seen it somewhere before, in a TV show or something, that it was in the background, that it’s always been there. In their heads, they can’t seem to get it out. It’s not San Giorgio Maggiore, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was painted in the same year. This one is simpler, no cathedral in the background, but like Giorgio, it’s set on the water, small fishing dock, maybe a port, and the shapes are just as obscured and vague in the evening haze. In the middle is a ship. Big thing, massive, calls to mind the steamers of old, and there are people on it, too, if you look very closely, faint, almost indiscernible silhouettes. Manning the rigging, wheel, etc. It’s pretty, but I often wonder who painted this and who these people are supposed to be. I also wonder what it would be like to exist in such an Impressionistic world. Get sucked in, feel this synthetic carpet move back under my feet as the noises of freshwater Venetian waves and murmuring ship hands grow closer and closer. I wonder sometimes, and my clientele give me the answers.
The man who came in last week should know, he walked through and sat on the couch, he was worried, I could tell by the wrinkles in his forehead, so I told him to lie down on there so he could spill all his worries out like a torrential flood right there in the middle of all this psychiatric foliage. I turned off the lights, they’re usually too bright for anyone to think, I only have them so I can work, then I went over to the wall and opened up the windows, let soft natural light and fresh air fill the room. There on the couch, legs periodically crossed, eyes looking at that replica of mine, he filled me in. The guy, I would say, was not by any means looking shabby. He had good hair, he was in his thirties, early thirties. Sandy hair, maybe from the Southwest, Caucasian, with certain features that indicates a decrepit and empty aura if not a decrepit look.
I muted my phone- push button landline, have yet to switch over to those cellular things, but it does have fax- walked over to him. I pulled out my sketchpad. I guess I didn’t pull it out of anywhere, it was lying on the desk, I’m sloppy with those things, shouldn’t leave notepads lying on the desk where anyone can read them, I should put it in the drawer. Flip through it, get to today, the guy moans a bit and turns over. I know this guy scheduled himself, didn’t just come in here, and I wonder if my receptionist saw what I’m seeing now or if this is just a hangover of some kind. The guy’s clothes are a bit wrinkled, wearing tennis shoes, classic sign of immaturity, or at least Freud would have me believe, but I try and keep an open mind. He points at my personal computer, asks if I could switch the monitor off, a request which I oblige. The darkness in the room now is stifling, almost irrepressible, synthetic materials turned to jungle and organic thriving something off in the corners of this large expanse.
The man has seen something, done something, something which draws him into shadows. Even the midday sun coming through the halfway down blinds cannot repress the feeling of missed opportunity which surrounds this man, a missed opportunity or a blemish on his past. I scribble these things and more down as he opens his lips, and what comes out is not a grunt, or a moan, but a monotone, stale voice. I think about how I am older than this man and yet have so much less than he does, he has experience. He’s seen things, been around things, knows where his head is at and what inning it is. A professional, I assume, looking good and maybe with a wife but no children, maybe she’s unable to have children. Once more, the painting calls to him, the ship so long ago with its rigging and anchor, and ant people scuttling around. Though the ship and the sky itself is obscured in a twilight haze obscured by a real midday haze, atmospheric discombobulation, his eyes are nonetheless enchanted by the world this picture paints. It is because as I have said he is a man of questions and darkness and twilight, and some twilight long ago in Venice or perhaps even Malta the sun is going down and people in near-empty streets are sharing obscure European food in corner cafes, a precursor to that one with the three men alone in a corner café on a dark New York City at night. The ships make ambient noises as their prows cut through the water, and above birds fly open and opaque in the orange hue. His eyes are drawn to this world, and I listen in the darkness as his corneas are sucked across the room.
I know you won’t believe me, he says. Nobody will believe this, you hack, you fraud, this is something for me and me alone. Water, please? His arm gestures, I walk out the door, down the hallway, make a right, to the water cooler, which gurgles softly, pours cool sweet sugar free liquid into a sterile and generic paper cup with swirling brown lines on the sides. Receptionist is at the desk, browsing through something, She’s a good lady. My wife gives me strange looks, she probably thinks I’m cheating on the side with this ditzy 22 year old, yeah right. Anyway. Back in the room, around the corner, shut the door with a soft and svelte click. Give the guy his water. He raises himself with his left elbow, left may have some subtext, must mean something, everything means something unless it doesn’t. Sips it long and hard, glugs that right down his throat until the cup is devoid of even the smallest drop. Still sweating profusely. Eyes like a scared rabbit. Outside, one minute, the light was so scathing. In here it’s cool and dark and night in Venice, and masked figures race along stone pathways, bridges stretch over dark rippling canals over which the lone gondola carries a night passenger to some unknown bistro. Lamps over the canals, too, they reflect sharply on those depthless waves.
And at the same time it’s a blue day outside, postcard blue, traffic can be heard and the buildings resound a sharp grey against the monotone sky. 42 stories down, it’s the lunch hour, revolving doors and cheap trinkets, street cart food and newsstands with all the usual tabloids. Why am I so nervous? I swivel my seat around, get out from behind the desk, right next to him. That’s it. Keep my eyes away from the painting. Whatever you do, don’t look at that painting. You don’t want to know.
Picture if you would a typical day in Seattle. I can’t, I’ve never been there, wouldn’t know the first thing about the place, especially 15 years ago, but picture it anyway. Space Needle, whatever. Pike Place Market, is that in Seattle? I can see it, rows of shops stretching on towards the horizon. We have a mall here, but not a full-on market, just a mall. Cheap shops, people walking and talking on their doodads, parking lot that goes on and on. Miles of labyrinthine corridors lined by the outlets of commerce. He says something along these lines. Mental image, not of Venice this time but of a city of contrasts, woods, mountains, also beaches and city blocks. Confusing place, confusing times, confusing everything, an aesthetic that would lend a hand towards the downright obscene or the unabashedly lovely. I can tell as he recounts this that he’s being awfully genuine, and as he paints this idyllic past I hesitate to use the notepad as this all seems so irrelevant. Gradually, my arm falls, and the pencil drops to the floor. Five minutes later, the notepad joins it.
I stare out the window as his voice loses its monotone qualities and picks right up to speed. I hear about places and people I’ve never heard about, either this guy is a very convincing storyteller or he really was there. Dates line up. He tells me about a school, the girls he went out with, friends he had. I don’t tell him to cut to the chase but I don’t want to rush him and my appointments are empty today. Always slow on Tuesdays. These anecdotes are words, phrases, congealing into an apt picture of the times. He tells me about a concert he went to, the aura of the era, the signs of the times. I’m nostalgic, but not as much as he is, because I’m older than him and he really appreciated these times while they happened. His adolescence doesn’t sound too bad, I think, decent enough, both his parents were supportive, he had lots of friends, even went to dances, where apparently he was popular. Showed up at most of the parties he was invited to, didn’t do drugs but did drink, though not in excess, not in levels that would damage one’s liver or mind. He seems to tell these fuzzy memories as if they happened to someone else, as if they couldn’t have happened to him.
He doesn’t warrant these stories, he wasn’t this good, he didn’t have this much fun, so on. There’s something he’s hiding from me. I offer him a candy, bribe, whole bowl of them right there on my table. Sure it’s cliché? But whatcha gonna do to get someone to open up other than to offer them a treat? I got the idea after seeing the Michelle Pfeiffer movie earlier this year, fireballs, what a great idea, I thought, because it is, right? Except when I went to the store, they didn’t stock fireballs, because of course they didn’t, but they did have Lemonheads, and I figure either way an extreme taste is an extreme taste, right? Gets the juices flowing, gets the tongue moving. Take this, I say, drop the candy in his hand. He unwraps it slowly and thoughtfully, all the while his tongue still going, wrapper crinkling, and he gives it to me and I stuff the wrapper in my pocket, figure to get up and toss it would be too much of a distraction. I’m also scared, though of what I don’t know. This pining and waxing gets on my nerves, the present is enough already without dwelling on the past. I keep in mind, however, that repression is a factor at play here, and between the smacking and rolling that crunchy citrus ball of sugar around from tooth to jaw and back again I get the idea that something is going on in his mind more than something is going on in his mouth, that his mind is a question and I want to answer it, probe it, feel it the way he handled that wrapper, mull over it. Beautiful mind. Dark room, quizzical shadows fall over the furniture. Scene, Action. Piece of cake.
Woods, open and clear day, and across these woods, behind me, is one of those mountains which appears mind-bogglingly high because we’re at sea level. I, however, am stuck between the two. In my hand is a portable cassette player, expensive. My father bought this trinket for me when I was 13, told me it was the wave of the future and he had been nurtured by vinyl as a child. Loud noises fill my mind through thick wires which lead to a strange outfit on my head, one which covers both my ears through the use of a connection on top, a headband of sorts. I turn this device off, store it away, sling the wires over my shoulder, stash the thing in my pocket. Compact, light, easy. Forest noises, wooded glade, in a sense I wish the entire state was like this, a vast expanse of trees producing oxygen, oxygen which fills my lungs. It is midday and the sun is hot but not overly so, and I am dressed for the occasion. Mountains surround these shadowed glades, massive and overpowering and near-Canadian, although they lack the intensity of Canadian slopes.
Sun plays tricks on the needles, leaves are sparse but they shimmy and shake in the rosy glow. Everywhere you can see the green, the overpowering and steady green, the always-present and nearly-not-natural green. Green are the bushes, the herbs, the small trees and the big trees. Green, too, are the mosses and lichens. I do not fear these effervescent structures, in fact they call to me. I am propelled over root and rot to ancient structures time forgot, a crumbling bridge here, an old aqueduct there, left abandoned and in misery out where nobody will find them and man maintains them seldom to none. I do not find them, they find me nonetheless, because decay is very powerful here, green is very powerful here. Green is everywhere. Green can take a structure which took hours and years to build, filed away by some bureaucratic office, and reduce it all to a pile of rubble.
What is green? Green is chaos, green is the longing and the wanting of privacy and the acquisition of said solidarity, and once this is acquired one doesn’t want to leave, you’ve caught a bug, the green bug, one could say. Ferns here, too, old dinosaur things, slippery and wet, and you wonder how they haven’t decayed. You wonder how this all hasn’t decayed yet, it’s so wet and rainy, you’d think it would encrust and grow mold, become a massive soup of rot and fungus, with mountains to hold it all in, swamps and puddles and torrential moistness held in deep dark foaming puddles under the moon while the wind whistles through the dead branches, dead of course because all the leaves have fallen off and gone to the filth reserves. You wonder this, because in the old days, world war one when they had a supply of fresh boots, trenchfoot would seep up through the toes and ligaments. Shortage of boots, and though the foot was living tissue, it rotted away all the same. Rotted in the dirty crevasses, those muddy foxholes, it rotted all the same. You saw this condition referenced on a medical drama some years ago, and it has stuck with you ever since. Me ever since. I turn up and see a flight of birds, as they hop from one forest to another, up north or down south, or maybe they’re just feeling uncomfortable. The sun has gone behind clouds, hiding itself, and the heat gives way to a slight shiver, a trickling and irreversible breeze, nature pushing energy onto you.
You stop, I stop, we all stop for this forest, a forest which defies all expectations. Acres and acres away from life where the laws of physics do not apply. Sequestered men and women who long for loneliness under the cold rock faces of the Cascades. This is ancient land, sacred land, land with channels of icy thirst dripping from every orifice. It is shrouded in mist, held in the grip of something which lends it a mystique, a silence between the cliffs. These hills are here, these mountains are there, in just such a way as to boggle the mind, to make one lost and afraid in the dark on a night when the mist is down and there is no moon, and one is left struggling down slopes, between the trees, into yet another valley and yet another steep slope which defies all logic, and the night does not end. One sits beneath a pine and grows weary, the organs begin to self cannibalize, the bones grow weak, the muscles grow inactive, and by morning what is found is more rotting soup than human. Such is the power of water. Cascades, water, rushing, pouring down every cliff onto other cliffs into a broad and deep mountain lake which bubbles and hisses and then lies still. You see this lake for a moment, a shimmer, a twinkle behind a swath of trees, but the lake just as easily vanishes, gone, and when I run toward it it is no longer there. More trees, no lake. Mirages do not happen where there is plentiful water, this is a well known scientific fact.
You pull out a candy bar for comfort, you have several of them stowed away in your day pack, but the chocolate has no taste, no flavor. It melts into nothing and is swallowed just as easily. I turn towards the sun, which now has returned but is less potent than previously, and aim for the direction of a mountain I have seen before on these walks, a mountain I don’t know the name of but which has a recognizable shape and could serve as a landmark. I know this mountain. It is distant and ethereal, and on it lies the small town of Illusion, from which wafts a haunting flute tune. I know not if I hear this flute, this macabre recorder, in my ears or in my brain, but the effect is gone soon after, and it matters not from whence the flute originated, for the mountain leaves me alone on an empty plateau, a plateau of infinity and ideas, and the mountain is swallowed by the trees, which obscure it as they did the lake. Sky is now gathering, real rain, torrential downpour, get your jacket out, it’s going to be a doozy, and no tree on earth will save me from it. Crack, boom, gray water vapor congeals into a massive and black maw, a mouth from which pours the bucket, the flood upon my head. Rain is slick, ground is dripping and soggy, dirt slides right under my feet as if I were at the Olympics. Roots trip me up, as do small rocks in my path, mix of pine and broad leaf here. River somewhere nearby. Rushing, pouring, barely able to contain itself within its shores, breaking on impact, trees are swallowed whole by pools which form around my feet, puddles which could drown a rat. Hidden in one gulch lies a carcass of some kind, I see it but do not want to know it closely, it remains sheathed under branches and innumerable foliage, and emits a potent odor.
The wind is screaming and howling, the cosmos themselves are fighting up in those bleak and dismal clouds, and I am more soup than person now, liquid in its basic form, the skin a weak and wholly terrestrial defense against the pelting precipitation hurled at me from the heavens. I am scared of what I do not know. Never before have I seen a man such as this, standing still in the midst of what would turn any grown person’s skin to ice or a hole-pocked dread, this man stands firm. His face is up against the air, he breathes in the liquid, shivers as it courses through his veins with a kind of giddy delight. In one hand he holds a briefcase, his other he holds firm to his lapel. And though my eyes are bleary and my vision cannot be called sufficient, and I cannot see through this unnatural foaming liquid for more than twenty feet in any direction, I do know one thing about this man: That he stands with two other men, each identical replicas of him, as seen through a kaleidoscope or a filter. This man is not alone, but he has no company. He is singular but he is divided. These forms on either side of him are weaker but substantial. They, too, face the rain, they too clutch at the lapel as the sky screams fury and the world bubbles, his eyes shine in the darkness, they glow in that storm, they turn a fiery red, then a low muted green. Finally, they twinkle in the softest starlight, and then return to their blank state, unseen and unnoticed in this most secluded of all places, this endless downpour. He stands tall, though he is old, he has seen many things, many more things than this, this is but a meme setback to him, the weather means nothing.
The rain continues, the world goes grey and lifeless, and the mist mixes with the rain in an acidic hiss, and the clouds themselves are waging a war upon the ground beneath my feet. I hesitate near a log and observe the man from behind a worn tree, its bark picked off methodically. Sitting, seat is drenched, every corner is bathed in layers of caked sweat, permanent grease, and furthermore an inch on every side of a new ocean which drops instantly over me. The man cares not though he lives in the same land-based oceanic environment, he is a creature of depths, not necessarily wet ones, but depths and souls and areas which boggle the mind. His face cannot be seen, he wears no hat, for this would shield him from the elements he craves, the raw and open lashing of the deluge, the skies in rage. His briefcase is medium sized, cannot be seen well for the confounding visual impact of the rain, though it contains something, as he carries it with a weight, it weighs him to the ground while the wind whips and sucks and pulls him nearer to the battle and crack above. Trees bend like modeling clay in such winds, these winds pull the leaves off things, the rain aids in the job. Things die in weather like this. Water giveth life, water taketh away, the universal solvent is a catalyst of life but also an instrument of decay and neglect. I know this now, a rotting soup, an infinite void where organic matter lies in a fluidic dense mass, writing with vines and death.
Death being the word called to mind when one spots this ethereal figure in the midst of a paradoxical and wholly impossible event, one whose presence indicates multiplicity, for he is three people unto one. He is one man with two duplicates, and with a squint one can even make out five whole bodies, all performing the same actions at the same time, though the two on the edges are spectral and faint, distant as the town of illusion on the blank mountainside, unimportant as that drowsy and lulling flute, which wafted over trees and into valleys where it could be heard by farmers and tailors alike.
I am in a room and the room is hot, you guide me here. Suitcase, chloroform, various implements and instruments of degrading practices, held in those woods, but that’s all behind me as the world glides to a halt and the windows shine bright light, wafting of dust and corn. Carpet, not old carpet, the shaggy and unpredictable sort but a hard and frizzy variety made of nylon. I sit on a seat where ropes bind me, hold me, hard to breathe but easy to see. That’s the dickens of it, everything is visible here. Eerily visible. The rain was a dream but this is a harsh reality, this room and everything in it is corporeal, here, physical presence. Desk in the back, lit by one lamp, plugged into a socket on the left side, nothing on it save a microwave oven. Fridge. A fridge, has stickers on it, drawings, some look like they’re by kids but it’s too dark to tell for sure. The world is gray and moving is impossible. I wonder what’s in that fridge, a severed head or a can of soda pop. Makes a relaxing humming noise. Soothing, comforting, this is the relaxed and laid-back environment you’d take your child to, play around on the floor with some blocks. Against the wall, another sight- rows of folding chairs, the aluminum kind.
All the lights are turned off but these things are visible through the windows at the top- basement, that’s what it is, you’re subterranean, below what we might call the crust. This room is claustrophobic, stifling, the ceiling looks like it could fall on you. Cramped, yet the ventilation seems fine, in fact one of these windows is open. Beam comes from it, sharp, almost glaring, though not directly in your eyes. You try and shimmy in one direction or the other but you tip and after that you don’t want to rock back and forth anymore because this isn’t a home. This area is not lived in, it is decidedly artificial. Hokey, made for something besides life. Everything is synthetic, plastic, the lights are off but the glare is on, everywhere the shimmer and shine, the sleek smoothness to be found at a Costco warehouse, sure those places are nice but you wouldn’t want to live in one, would you? But a Costco is big and this room, though wide from front to back, is nothing if not unsettlingly small. Low on the top. This basement is not damp or dim, it is not accessed by wooden stairs and it will likely never be flooded out, this room is permanent and tangible, one of many cellars across the nation but one which unlike those other cellars rather than feeling like a moldy or cozy nook instead is a nameless plastic box. And those folding chairs, rested against yet another row, this one of cabinets the contents of which you’ll never know, I’ll never know. This is because and I quote the chairs are made for some unholy or otherwise indecent gathering, you can see them being hauled out of this storage and given new life upstairs. The ceiling is worn tile, not as artificial as the rest but still with a sense of inauthenticity.
These are not old world goods carved in some village shoppe, these are new things for mass consumption, surfaces without any dips or nicks to be seen. Your mouth is not held or bound, but there would be no sense in screaming as your screams would reach nobody. There are no sounds outside, birds sing but aside from that it’s eerily quiet. Upstairs, one other sound is added to the drone of the fridge- a vacuum. Some hobbled custodian keeping the premises clean. You’ll never see him or know him, but his presence is felt. Though artificial, this facility reeks of- well, it has a sense of belonging. Of being old and known. People have been in here, to be sure, they have sat at that desk, made themselves a lunch there, maybe. The fridge is on, people have eaten from it, opened its door, taken out some food, and walked out again. Those chairs have been sat on, they are not without purpose, and though they now reside in storage, eventually someone will haul them out and eventually someone will haul out the contents of the cabinets behind them, too, the ones with the straight down handles and the double doors. This room is not lived in but it is used frequently, shadow men and weary parents lug their young through these doors and out again, casual talk made after some distinctly American ceremony. If the human soul cannot sustain itself here, it can at least show up time and again though the room would not will it.
The vacuum upstairs removes dust so as to keep the rooms looking neat. This is a gathering place, a spot where people come together- but the floor is blank, nothing but that desk, some cabinets above that, presumably with forks and other implements- a community center of some kind, yes, a recreational facility, built for recreation. Union offices, maybe a swimming pool, pool tables and basketball court, here. Or a church, it could be a church, too, couldn’t it? The thought crosses my mind, your mind, we know something. Can see. Can feel. The chair you’re on isn’t one of the folding ones, this one has plush armrests and is made of wooden materials. Whoever tied me up has an intent, a direct motive, they didn’t just tie me to the folding kind, no, they got another breed of seat from another room entirely. Sit in the illuminated darkness and wait, time passes, time flies, you don’t even know how long you’ve been here, really, do you? You can’t say you do, and what’s more disturbing still is the fact that you can’t seem to grasp when it was you woke, whether it was in the trunk of an SUV or in an empty cornfield. Ropes were applied, you felt them as hands wound them up and kept them taut, force was used, besides that you know nothing.
Footsteps, murmurs. These murmurs come from a door behind you, the only entrance into the whole place, a locked closet on one distant wall and the windows giving these surroundings fresh and natural sunlight and air, but the door which lies three feet from your sweat drenched neck is the only way in and the only way out. Of this fact, you have no doubts. Perceptive eyes, yours. From behind this door can be heard furtive voices in corridors where conversation would be futile because all aspects are known, halls with plaques, buttons to elevators that stopped operation in 1922. The point being that these voices are seldom heard in this long and timeless period when your hands are held and your throat is parched. The voices grow more distant, and you lose hope of a feeding. Then, however, one voice barely audible to the human ear makes its way to the entrance, stops. The voice in all honesty quit about fifty feet away, but those hidden footsteps bring the promise of answers and of revelations. These are resumed and the door is opened, light and sound fill your weary body and you know there is another presence, certainly human, without a doubt male, a man who enters this place and then leaves quite often, and only now is entering this room with full knowledge and acceptance of what he’s done. The man steps behind you, I’m too tired to twist my neck and get a good look at his face. I know who he is, this is a silly game and I’m sick of playing it.
He’s holding something, too. The sunlight is reverted to dusk and crimson, and outside are the faraway noises of cars lifting from slumber and departing. Departing because they get softer and less audible, and the man stands near one wall, drowned in scarlet. He moves closer to the closet, next to it is a panel with more than three switches, of these he flips one. The room is revealed to be as massive as you thought it was and with the exact arrangement you recall, stark whites and a flat carpet that to an ant would be a plain of unimaginably lonely proportions. The man is old, seventies, white hair and jowls, dressed plain enough to be seen at a coffee shop but formally enough to be seen in a town hall meeting, he has walked roads and traveled miles, he’s been to gas stations but he is a man of habit, not a drifter. Make no mistake between the two, he has rituals, he has routines, he follows these routines to the best of his ability and in the whir of the flat and lifeless lights connected to unseen wires in the low ceiling, he is absolutely stark and rigid, a depiction of protocol. Lifeless, humorless, a man who knows things you can’t begin to guess. Lapel, a pin of some kind there. Decoration, he belongs to an association of like minded individuals, a mutual admiration society if you would. Meetings held, records kept in dusty and worn ledgers, records for his and his kind’s eyes only. His shoes are beaten, they have trodden many grounds, fields and areas. They are well kept, though, he is well kept. His face is wrinkled and suggests to me the color gray, he lives in exciting monotony. Sterile hubbub.
I see him plain against the walls, the walls are merely a backdrop for this man of ages and wisdom. He carries nothing. He walks with a decided step, a mannerism beaten into him through sheer habit. The room is built for men like him, men who in their golden years forget to walk, seven stages of man, last one’s a return to the first, know that. I know, too, that this visage does not come in a blur when subjected to harsh light, when exposed and thoroughly studied this specimen is less cryptic than at first glance. He fears my vision, knows that I know him and what he does, he treads softly on the synthetic carpet towards the chair where I sit incapacitated and blank, staring through him, behind him, through the walls and out the windows, to a blue and pleasant summer day. It is indeed the dust and corn, land of flat. In parks lovers can be seen huddled on benches, farms go on, cows huddle in fields, sun rises and sets and rises again, circle of life. This area is one of stagnation. It does not change, it keeps on as it has been. This is his power, the power of dust and if not complete rot then of static. Static setting, monotony, emptiness. He lives this way, he cannot be expected to live any other way. He projects vibrations of whimsy, excitement and a bold rainstorm, lightning crucifying him. He thrives on blur, on spin, on deliberate deception and on people believing he is multiple people when in fact he is the same man all the way through. His duplicates are present but faint, and if my eyes are opened entirely they vanish.
The lights are too good here, his tricks don’t operate as they would otherwise. He nears me, pauses, looks into my face, at my features, tries to remember them, but fails. He doesn’t know me how he thought he did, he was hoping for something else. Disappointment. He now walks directly over to the fridge, which calls his prostate and gives him a yearning for some month-old beverage. He rummages through its contents, small and spectral in the yellow light of the freezing chemicals, finally settles on a can of sparkling water. I remember it was a brand which no longer exists, like him a relic of a bygone era, a ghost which nonetheless leaves a tangible and recognizable impact on the present world. I sit and watch as this torture is conducted, the carbonated fluid singing his dry and wrinkled throat, and he looks at me, shakes the can around, tells me with his eyes that I am young and do not know what he has to give. He has something which I do not, this is clear, he is the superior figure in whatever deal we are about to make.
He crosses once over to the switch, returns the room to its darkened condition, though without the sunlight it is a crypt, a plastic coffin submerged in dirt and gravel. In this light his duplicates can be seen, silhouetted. They are no longer moist, now they are solid, I could touch one if my hands weren’t bound. He nears. Eyes red, gleaming, fiery, they burn in a frenzy of carnivorous lust, he sees something. He knows something. The eyes are what can be seen of him, the rest is obscured in the night, the night from which noises of crickets emanate through the window, noises of chirping insects not unlike that flute, noises which when presented alongside burning eyes create nothing more than the deepest paralysis of the human heart. My nerves are sent into convulsions, I open my mouth but nothing can burst from my pale form, I am being dissected and blurred as he was, turned into many multiples, endless reproductions of one essence. The room grows useless, a tangible place to which the following experience is irrelevant, which cannot hold what came next, as the burning orbs neared and took on an olive tone, dark, nude, forest, the color of natural beauty warped and twisted into dying and decaying rot. These two points meld into one in the darkness, hide behind murk and whispers and carry me, roughly, pain surging through every inch of my flesh as I am whirled back to the ground, dirt, left there to die. Above, birds sing. The sun rises on dewdrops and an empty patch of soil.
I raise the shades, help the guy up to his feet and see him off. The cup remains on the couch, and I promptly discard it, it holds no significance for me. Outside, he can be seen pressing the button for the elevator. I watch him until he leaves, know that he’s gone, then I sit at my desk and pull out an aspirin. Back to the water cooler, get the pill, swallow. I think, I have the faintest idea, that I might have that painting replaced soon. Might trade it out to a buddy of mine who’s also in the industry. Receptionist doesn’t know what happened in this room and I’m not telling her. The couch is sweaty and imprinted, it’s seen worse things than some but this has to be the worst yet, a man who though his brain functions as usual has been filled to the utmost capacity and can barely hold it all in. I don’t know if I would be able to, if I was given similar circumstances. I sit back on the cushions, sort through my files and make a detailed entry. Takes about an hour. At the end I lean back and light up, it’ll be over soon, I can drive back to the house, maybe I can convince her to go out to the new restaurant, everyone gives it rave reviews. I need to eat something, my stomach might reject it however. I have something to do, something which I know must be done. I pick up the set and punch in the numbers.
Kansas prefix.
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2020.07.10 01:42 kyleraymundv2 Therapy Session

Coat, hat, degree on the wall, professionally installed carpet. Couch is not a couch per se, more a sterile and pillowless recliner, designed to give one the best experience possible. Lights, walls, bookshelf in the back full of empty pamphlets, stuffed folders, to the brim with index cards and postcards and info on my past clients. Mahogany, not real mahogany, of course, the desk is made out of wood pulp covered by a layer of plywood designed to look like mahogany. Very dry, yet distinguished, and from a distance you could almost call me a professional. I am a professional, I have a degree in all sorts of mental gymnastics, but you wouldn’t know that.
I dress casually at all times, feeling that one can feel more at ease with slacks and a t-shirt, baseball cap flipped to the side. I am nearing middle age, 42, my eyes squint in dusty conditions and my hair is receding like Grunge. I pace from the bookshelf to the chair in the corner , sometimes. Still don’t know why that chair is there, for a wife or parent or something to sit down while their associate is sorted through, though to date I haven’t had any patients accompanied by anyone. Above this chair, which is plastic with comfy padded armrests, next to this is a potted plant, fake of course, about seven inches to the left is a portrait by some famous artist, of what I suppose one would call the impressionist period, Monet and that sort, only this one is a cheap replica I got for $100 at the local auction, the guy even stated that it was a replica, but who cares, it’s a nice painting and some good décor, more suggestive than a Rorschach test, though I still keep a deck of those stashed in the drawer, just in case.
The painting has ample strokes and pleasant overtones, but something about it makes the mind do acrobatics. I’ve had three of my quota mention that they’ve seen it somewhere before, in a TV show or something, that it was in the background, that it’s always been there. In their heads, they can’t seem to get it out. It’s not San Giorgio Maggiore, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was painted in the same year. This one is simpler, no cathedral in the background, but like Giorgio, it’s set on the water, small fishing dock, maybe a port, and the shapes are just as obscured and vague in the evening haze. In the middle is a ship. Big thing, massive, calls to mind the steamers of old, and there are people on it, too, if you look very closely, faint, almost indiscernible silhouettes. Manning the rigging, wheel, etc. It’s pretty, but I often wonder who painted this and who these people are supposed to be. I also wonder what it would be like to exist in such an Impressionistic world. Get sucked in, feel this synthetic carpet move back under my feet as the noises of freshwater Venetian waves and murmuring ship hands grow closer and closer. I wonder sometimes, and my clientele give me the answers.
The man who came in last week should know, he walked through and sat on the couch, he was worried, I could tell by the wrinkles in his forehead, so I told him to lie down on there so he could spill all his worries out like a torrential flood right there in the middle of all this psychiatric foliage. I turned off the lights, they’re usually too bright for anyone to think, I only have them so I can work, then I went over to the wall and opened up the windows, let soft natural light and fresh air fill the room. There on the couch, legs periodically crossed, eyes looking at that replica of mine, he filled me in. The guy, I would say, was not by any means looking shabby. He had good hair, he was in his thirties, early thirties. Sandy hair, maybe from the Southwest, Caucasian, with certain features that indicates a decrepit and empty aura if not a decrepit look.
I muted my phone- push button landline, have yet to switch over to those cellular things, but it does have fax- walked over to him. I pulled out my sketchpad. I guess I didn’t pull it out of anywhere, it was lying on the desk, I’m sloppy with those things, shouldn’t leave notepads lying on the desk where anyone can read them, I should put it in the drawer. Flip through it, get to today, the guy moans a bit and turns over. I know this guy scheduled himself, didn’t just come in here, and I wonder if my receptionist saw what I’m seeing now or if this is just a hangover of some kind. The guy’s clothes are a bit wrinkled, wearing tennis shoes, classic sign of immaturity, or at least Freud would have me believe, but I try and keep an open mind. He points at my personal computer, asks if I could switch the monitor off, a request which I oblige. The darkness in the room now is stifling, almost irrepressible, synthetic materials turned to jungle and organic thriving something off in the corners of this large expanse.
The man has seen something, done something, something which draws him into shadows. Even the midday sun coming through the halfway down blinds cannot repress the feeling of missed opportunity which surrounds this man, a missed opportunity or a blemish on his past. I scribble these things and more down as he opens his lips, and what comes out is not a grunt, or a moan, but a monotone, stale voice. I think about how I am older than this man and yet have so much less than he does, he has experience. He’s seen things, been around things, knows where his head is at and what inning it is. A professional, I assume, looking good and maybe with a wife but no children, maybe she’s unable to have children. Once more, the painting calls to him, the ship so long ago with its rigging and anchor, and ant people scuttling around. Though the ship and the sky itself is obscured in a twilight haze obscured by a real midday haze, atmospheric discombobulation, his eyes are nonetheless enchanted by the world this picture paints. It is because as I have said he is a man of questions and darkness and twilight, and some twilight long ago in Venice or perhaps even Malta the sun is going down and people in near-empty streets are sharing obscure European food in corner cafes, a precursor to that one with the three men alone in a corner café on a dark New York City at night. The ships make ambient noises as their prows cut through the water, and above birds fly open and opaque in the orange hue. His eyes are drawn to this world, and I listen in the darkness as his corneas are sucked across the room.
I know you won’t believe me, he says. Nobody will believe this, you hack, you fraud, this is something for me and me alone. Water, please? His arm gestures, I walk out the door, down the hallway, make a right, to the water cooler, which gurgles softly, pours cool sweet sugar free liquid into a sterile and generic paper cup with swirling brown lines on the sides. Receptionist is at the desk, browsing through something, She’s a good lady. My wife gives me strange looks, she probably thinks I’m cheating on the side with this ditzy 22 year old, yeah right. Anyway. Back in the room, around the corner, shut the door with a soft and svelte click. Give the guy his water. He raises himself with his left elbow, left may have some subtext, must mean something, everything means something unless it doesn’t. Sips it long and hard, glugs that right down his throat until the cup is devoid of even the smallest drop. Still sweating profusely. Eyes like a scared rabbit. Outside, one minute, the light was so scathing. In here it’s cool and dark and night in Venice, and masked figures race along stone pathways, bridges stretch over dark rippling canals over which the lone gondola carries a night passenger to some unknown bistro. Lamps over the canals, too, they reflect sharply on those depthless waves.
And at the same time it’s a blue day outside, postcard blue, traffic can be heard and the buildings resound a sharp grey against the monotone sky. 42 stories down, it’s the lunch hour, revolving doors and cheap trinkets, street cart food and newsstands with all the usual tabloids. Why am I so nervous? I swivel my seat around, get out from behind the desk, right next to him. That’s it. Keep my eyes away from the painting. Whatever you do, don’t look at that painting. You don’t want to know.
Picture if you would a typical day in Seattle. I can’t, I’ve never been there, wouldn’t know the first thing about the place, especially 15 years ago, but picture it anyway. Space Needle, whatever. Pike Place Market, is that in Seattle? I can see it, rows of shops stretching on towards the horizon. We have a mall here, but not a full-on market, just a mall. Cheap shops, people walking and talking on their doodads, parking lot that goes on and on. Miles of labyrinthine corridors lined by the outlets of commerce. He says something along these lines. Mental image, not of Venice this time but of a city of contrasts, woods, mountains, also beaches and city blocks. Confusing place, confusing times, confusing everything, an aesthetic that would lend a hand towards the downright obscene or the unabashedly lovely. I can tell as he recounts this that he’s being awfully genuine, and as he paints this idyllic past I hesitate to use the notepad as this all seems so irrelevant. Gradually, my arm falls, and the pencil drops to the floor. Five minutes later, the notepad joins it.
I stare out the window as his voice loses its monotone qualities and picks right up to speed. I hear about places and people I’ve never heard about, either this guy is a very convincing storyteller or he really was there. Dates line up. He tells me about a school, the girls he went out with, friends he had. I don’t tell him to cut to the chase but I don’t want to rush him and my appointments are empty today. Always slow on Tuesdays. These anecdotes are words, phrases, congealing into an apt picture of the times. He tells me about a concert he went to, the aura of the era, the signs of the times. I’m nostalgic, but not as much as he is, because I’m older than him and he really appreciated these times while they happened. His adolescence doesn’t sound too bad, I think, decent enough, both his parents were supportive, he had lots of friends, even went to dances, where apparently he was popular. Showed up at most of the parties he was invited to, didn’t do drugs but did drink, though not in excess, not in levels that would damage one’s liver or mind. He seems to tell these fuzzy memories as if they happened to someone else, as if they couldn’t have happened to him.
He doesn’t warrant these stories, he wasn’t this good, he didn’t have this much fun, so on. There’s something he’s hiding from me. I offer him a candy, bribe, whole bowl of them right there on my table. Sure it’s cliché? But whatcha gonna do to get someone to open up other than to offer them a treat? I got the idea after seeing the Michelle Pfeiffer movie earlier this year, fireballs, what a great idea, I thought, because it is, right? Except when I went to the store, they didn’t stock fireballs, because of course they didn’t, but they did have Lemonheads, and I figure either way an extreme taste is an extreme taste, right? Gets the juices flowing, gets the tongue moving. Take this, I say, drop the candy in his hand. He unwraps it slowly and thoughtfully, all the while his tongue still going, wrapper crinkling, and he gives it to me and I stuff the wrapper in my pocket, figure to get up and toss it would be too much of a distraction. I’m also scared, though of what I don’t know. This pining and waxing gets on my nerves, the present is enough already without dwelling on the past. I keep in mind, however, that repression is a factor at play here, and between the smacking and rolling that crunchy citrus ball of sugar around from tooth to jaw and back again I get the idea that something is going on in his mind more than something is going on in his mouth, that his mind is a question and I want to answer it, probe it, feel it the way he handled that wrapper, mull over it. Beautiful mind. Dark room, quizzical shadows fall over the furniture. Scene, Action. Piece of cake.
Woods, open and clear day, and across these woods, behind me, is one of those mountains which appears mind-bogglingly high because we’re at sea level. I, however, am stuck between the two. In my hand is a portable cassette player, expensive. My father bought this trinket for me when I was 13, told me it was the wave of the future and he had been nurtured by vinyl as a child. Loud noises fill my mind through thick wires which lead to a strange outfit on my head, one which covers both my ears through the use of a connection on top, a headband of sorts. I turn this device off, store it away, sling the wires over my shoulder, stash the thing in my pocket. Compact, light, easy. Forest noises, wooded glade, in a sense I wish the entire state was like this, a vast expanse of trees producing oxygen, oxygen which fills my lungs. It is midday and the sun is hot but not overly so, and I am dressed for the occasion. Mountains surround these shadowed glades, massive and overpowering and near-Canadian, although they lack the intensity of Canadian slopes.
Sun plays tricks on the needles, leaves are sparse but they shimmy and shake in the rosy glow. Everywhere you can see the green, the overpowering and steady green, the always-present and nearly-not-natural green. Green are the bushes, the herbs, the small trees and the big trees. Green, too, are the mosses and lichens. I do not fear these effervescent structures, in fact they call to me. I am propelled over root and rot to ancient structures time forgot, a crumbling bridge here, an old aqueduct there, left abandoned and in misery out where nobody will find them and man maintains them seldom to none. I do not find them, they find me nonetheless, because decay is very powerful here, green is very powerful here. Green is everywhere. Green can take a structure which took hours and years to build, filed away by some bureaucratic office, and reduce it all to a pile of rubble.
What is green? Green is chaos, green is the longing and the wanting of privacy and the acquisition of said solidarity, and once this is acquired one doesn’t want to leave, you’ve caught a bug, the green bug, one could say. Ferns here, too, old dinosaur things, slippery and wet, and you wonder how they haven’t decayed. You wonder how this all hasn’t decayed yet, it’s so wet and rainy, you’d think it would encrust and grow mold, become a massive soup of rot and fungus, with mountains to hold it all in, swamps and puddles and torrential moistness held in deep dark foaming puddles under the moon while the wind whistles through the dead branches, dead of course because all the leaves have fallen off and gone to the filth reserves. You wonder this, because in the old days, world war one when they had a supply of fresh boots, trenchfoot would seep up through the toes and ligaments. Shortage of boots, and though the foot was living tissue, it rotted away all the same. Rotted in the dirty crevasses, those muddy foxholes, it rotted all the same. You saw this condition referenced on a medical drama some years ago, and it has stuck with you ever since. Me ever since. I turn up and see a flight of birds, as they hop from one forest to another, up north or down south, or maybe they’re just feeling uncomfortable. The sun has gone behind clouds, hiding itself, and the heat gives way to a slight shiver, a trickling and irreversible breeze, nature pushing energy onto you.
You stop, I stop, we all stop for this forest, a forest which defies all expectations. Acres and acres away from life where the laws of physics do not apply. Sequestered men and women who long for loneliness under the cold rock faces of the Cascades. This is ancient land, sacred land, land with channels of icy thirst dripping from every orifice. It is shrouded in mist, held in the grip of something which lends it a mystique, a silence between the cliffs. These hills are here, these mountains are there, in just such a way as to boggle the mind, to make one lost and afraid in the dark on a night when the mist is down and there is no moon, and one is left struggling down slopes, between the trees, into yet another valley and yet another steep slope which defies all logic, and the night does not end. One sits beneath a pine and grows weary, the organs begin to self cannibalize, the bones grow weak, the muscles grow inactive, and by morning what is found is more rotting soup than human. Such is the power of water. Cascades, water, rushing, pouring down every cliff onto other cliffs into a broad and deep mountain lake which bubbles and hisses and then lies still. You see this lake for a moment, a shimmer, a twinkle behind a swath of trees, but the lake just as easily vanishes, gone, and when I run toward it it is no longer there. More trees, no lake. Mirages do not happen where there is plentiful water, this is a well known scientific fact.
You pull out a candy bar for comfort, you have several of them stowed away in your day pack, but the chocolate has no taste, no flavor. It melts into nothing and is swallowed just as easily. I turn towards the sun, which now has returned but is less potent than previously, and aim for the direction of a mountain I have seen before on these walks, a mountain I don’t know the name of but which has a recognizable shape and could serve as a landmark. I know this mountain. It is distant and ethereal, and on it lies the small town of Illusion, from which wafts a haunting flute tune. I know not if I hear this flute, this macabre recorder, in my ears or in my brain, but the effect is gone soon after, and it matters not from whence the flute originated, for the mountain leaves me alone on an empty plateau, a plateau of infinity and ideas, and the mountain is swallowed by the trees, which obscure it as they did the lake. Sky is now gathering, real rain, torrential downpour, get your jacket out, it’s going to be a doozy, and no tree on earth will save me from it. Crack, boom, gray water vapor congeals into a massive and black maw, a mouth from which pours the bucket, the flood upon my head. Rain is slick, ground is dripping and soggy, dirt slides right under my feet as if I were at the Olympics. Roots trip me up, as do small rocks in my path, mix of pine and broad leaf here. River somewhere nearby. Rushing, pouring, barely able to contain itself within its shores, breaking on impact, trees are swallowed whole by pools which form around my feet, puddles which could drown a rat. Hidden in one gulch lies a carcass of some kind, I see it but do not want to know it closely, it remains sheathed under branches and innumerable foliage, and emits a potent odor.
The wind is screaming and howling, the cosmos themselves are fighting up in those bleak and dismal clouds, and I am more soup than person now, liquid in its basic form, the skin a weak and wholly terrestrial defense against the pelting precipitation hurled at me from the heavens. I am scared of what I do not know. Never before have I seen a man such as this, standing still in the midst of what would turn any grown person’s skin to ice or a hole-pocked dread, this man stands firm. His face is up against the air, he breathes in the liquid, shivers as it courses through his veins with a kind of giddy delight. In one hand he holds a briefcase, his other he holds firm to his lapel. And though my eyes are bleary and my vision cannot be called sufficient, and I cannot see through this unnatural foaming liquid for more than twenty feet in any direction, I do know one thing about this man: That he stands with two other men, each identical replicas of him, as seen through a kaleidoscope or a filter. This man is not alone, but he has no company. He is singular but he is divided. These forms on either side of him are weaker but substantial. They, too, face the rain, they too clutch at the lapel as the sky screams fury and the world bubbles, his eyes shine in the darkness, they glow in that storm, they turn a fiery red, then a low muted green. Finally, they twinkle in the softest starlight, and then return to their blank state, unseen and unnoticed in this most secluded of all places, this endless downpour. He stands tall, though he is old, he has seen many things, many more things than this, this is but a meme setback to him, the weather means nothing.
The rain continues, the world goes grey and lifeless, and the mist mixes with the rain in an acidic hiss, and the clouds themselves are waging a war upon the ground beneath my feet. I hesitate near a log and observe the man from behind a worn tree, its bark picked off methodically. Sitting, seat is drenched, every corner is bathed in layers of caked sweat, permanent grease, and furthermore an inch on every side of a new ocean which drops instantly over me. The man cares not though he lives in the same land-based oceanic environment, he is a creature of depths, not necessarily wet ones, but depths and souls and areas which boggle the mind. His face cannot be seen, he wears no hat, for this would shield him from the elements he craves, the raw and open lashing of the deluge, the skies in rage. His briefcase is medium sized, cannot be seen well for the confounding visual impact of the rain, though it contains something, as he carries it with a weight, it weighs him to the ground while the wind whips and sucks and pulls him nearer to the battle and crack above. Trees bend like modeling clay in such winds, these winds pull the leaves off things, the rain aids in the job. Things die in weather like this. Water giveth life, water taketh away, the universal solvent is a catalyst of life but also an instrument of decay and neglect. I know this now, a rotting soup, an infinite void where organic matter lies in a fluidic dense mass, writing with vines and death.
Death being the word called to mind when one spots this ethereal figure in the midst of a paradoxical and wholly impossible event, one whose presence indicates multiplicity, for he is three people unto one. He is one man with two duplicates, and with a squint one can even make out five whole bodies, all performing the same actions at the same time, though the two on the edges are spectral and faint, distant as the town of illusion on the blank mountainside, unimportant as that drowsy and lulling flute, which wafted over trees and into valleys where it could be heard by farmers and tailors alike.
I am in a room and the room is hot, you guide me here. Suitcase, chloroform, various implements and instruments of degrading practices, held in those woods, but that’s all behind me as the world glides to a halt and the windows shine bright light, wafting of dust and corn. Carpet, not old carpet, the shaggy and unpredictable sort but a hard and frizzy variety made of nylon. I sit on a seat where ropes bind me, hold me, hard to breathe but easy to see. That’s the dickens of it, everything is visible here. Eerily visible. The rain was a dream but this is a harsh reality, this room and everything in it is corporeal, here, physical presence. Desk in the back, lit by one lamp, plugged into a socket on the left side, nothing on it save a microwave oven. Fridge. A fridge, has stickers on it, drawings, some look like they’re by kids but it’s too dark to tell for sure. The world is gray and moving is impossible. I wonder what’s in that fridge, a severed head or a can of soda pop. Makes a relaxing humming noise. Soothing, comforting, this is the relaxed and laid-back environment you’d take your child to, play around on the floor with some blocks. Against the wall, another sight- rows of folding chairs, the aluminum kind.
All the lights are turned off but these things are visible through the windows at the top- basement, that’s what it is, you’re subterranean, below what we might call the crust. This room is claustrophobic, stifling, the ceiling looks like it could fall on you. Cramped, yet the ventilation seems fine, in fact one of these windows is open. Beam comes from it, sharp, almost glaring, though not directly in your eyes. You try and shimmy in one direction or the other but you tip and after that you don’t want to rock back and forth anymore because this isn’t a home. This area is not lived in, it is decidedly artificial. Hokey, made for something besides life. Everything is synthetic, plastic, the lights are off but the glare is on, everywhere the shimmer and shine, the sleek smoothness to be found at a Costco warehouse, sure those places are nice but you wouldn’t want to live in one, would you? But a Costco is big and this room, though wide from front to back, is nothing if not unsettlingly small. Low on the top. This basement is not damp or dim, it is not accessed by wooden stairs and it will likely never be flooded out, this room is permanent and tangible, one of many cellars across the nation but one which unlike those other cellars rather than feeling like a moldy or cozy nook instead is a nameless plastic box. And those folding chairs, rested against yet another row, this one of cabinets the contents of which you’ll never know, I’ll never know. This is because and I quote the chairs are made for some unholy or otherwise indecent gathering, you can see them being hauled out of this storage and given new life upstairs. The ceiling is worn tile, not as artificial as the rest but still with a sense of inauthenticity.
These are not old world goods carved in some village shoppe, these are new things for mass consumption, surfaces without any dips or nicks to be seen. Your mouth is not held or bound, but there would be no sense in screaming as your screams would reach nobody. There are no sounds outside, birds sing but aside from that it’s eerily quiet. Upstairs, one other sound is added to the drone of the fridge- a vacuum. Some hobbled custodian keeping the premises clean. You’ll never see him or know him, but his presence is felt. Though artificial, this facility reeks of- well, it has a sense of belonging. Of being old and known. People have been in here, to be sure, they have sat at that desk, made themselves a lunch there, maybe. The fridge is on, people have eaten from it, opened its door, taken out some food, and walked out again. Those chairs have been sat on, they are not without purpose, and though they now reside in storage, eventually someone will haul them out and eventually someone will haul out the contents of the cabinets behind them, too, the ones with the straight down handles and the double doors. This room is not lived in but it is used frequently, shadow men and weary parents lug their young through these doors and out again, casual talk made after some distinctly American ceremony. If the human soul cannot sustain itself here, it can at least show up time and again though the room would not will it.
The vacuum upstairs removes dust so as to keep the rooms looking neat. This is a gathering place, a spot where people come together- but the floor is blank, nothing but that desk, some cabinets above that, presumably with forks and other implements- a community center of some kind, yes, a recreational facility, built for recreation. Union offices, maybe a swimming pool, pool tables and basketball court, here. Or a church, it could be a church, too, couldn’t it? The thought crosses my mind, your mind, we know something. Can see. Can feel. The chair you’re on isn’t one of the folding ones, this one has plush armrests and is made of wooden materials. Whoever tied me up has an intent, a direct motive, they didn’t just tie me to the folding kind, no, they got another breed of seat from another room entirely. Sit in the illuminated darkness and wait, time passes, time flies, you don’t even know how long you’ve been here, really, do you? You can’t say you do, and what’s more disturbing still is the fact that you can’t seem to grasp when it was you woke, whether it was in the trunk of an SUV or in an empty cornfield. Ropes were applied, you felt them as hands wound them up and kept them taut, force was used, besides that you know nothing.
Footsteps, murmurs. These murmurs come from a door behind you, the only entrance into the whole place, a locked closet on one distant wall and the windows giving these surroundings fresh and natural sunlight and air, but the door which lies three feet from your sweat drenched neck is the only way in and the only way out. Of this fact, you have no doubts. Perceptive eyes, yours. From behind this door can be heard furtive voices in corridors where conversation would be futile because all aspects are known, halls with plaques, buttons to elevators that stopped operation in 1922. The point being that these voices are seldom heard in this long and timeless period when your hands are held and your throat is parched. The voices grow more distant, and you lose hope of a feeding. Then, however, one voice barely audible to the human ear makes its way to the entrance, stops. The voice in all honesty quit about fifty feet away, but those hidden footsteps bring the promise of answers and of revelations. These are resumed and the door is opened, light and sound fill your weary body and you know there is another presence, certainly human, without a doubt male, a man who enters this place and then leaves quite often, and only now is entering this room with full knowledge and acceptance of what he’s done. The man steps behind you, I’m too tired to twist my neck and get a good look at his face. I know who he is, this is a silly game and I’m sick of playing it.
He’s holding something, too. The sunlight is reverted to dusk and crimson, and outside are the faraway noises of cars lifting from slumber and departing. Departing because they get softer and less audible, and the man stands near one wall, drowned in scarlet. He moves closer to the closet, next to it is a panel with more than three switches, of these he flips one. The room is revealed to be as massive as you thought it was and with the exact arrangement you recall, stark whites and a flat carpet that to an ant would be a plain of unimaginably lonely proportions. The man is old, seventies, white hair and jowls, dressed plain enough to be seen at a coffee shop but formally enough to be seen in a town hall meeting, he has walked roads and traveled miles, he’s been to gas stations but he is a man of habit, not a drifter. Make no mistake between the two, he has rituals, he has routines, he follows these routines to the best of his ability and in the whir of the flat and lifeless lights connected to unseen wires in the low ceiling, he is absolutely stark and rigid, a depiction of protocol. Lifeless, humorless, a man who knows things you can’t begin to guess. Lapel, a pin of some kind there. Decoration, he belongs to an association of like minded individuals, a mutual admiration society if you would. Meetings held, records kept in dusty and worn ledgers, records for his and his kind’s eyes only. His shoes are beaten, they have trodden many grounds, fields and areas. They are well kept, though, he is well kept. His face is wrinkled and suggests to me the color gray, he lives in exciting monotony. Sterile hubbub.
I see him plain against the walls, the walls are merely a backdrop for this man of ages and wisdom. He carries nothing. He walks with a decided step, a mannerism beaten into him through sheer habit. The room is built for men like him, men who in their golden years forget to walk, seven stages of man, last one’s a return to the first, know that. I know, too, that this visage does not come in a blur when subjected to harsh light, when exposed and thoroughly studied this specimen is less cryptic than at first glance. He fears my vision, knows that I know him and what he does, he treads softly on the synthetic carpet towards the chair where I sit incapacitated and blank, staring through him, behind him, through the walls and out the windows, to a blue and pleasant summer day. It is indeed the dust and corn, land of flat. In parks lovers can be seen huddled on benches, farms go on, cows huddle in fields, sun rises and sets and rises again, circle of life. This area is one of stagnation. It does not change, it keeps on as it has been. This is his power, the power of dust and if not complete rot then of static. Static setting, monotony, emptiness. He lives this way, he cannot be expected to live any other way. He projects vibrations of whimsy, excitement and a bold rainstorm, lightning crucifying him. He thrives on blur, on spin, on deliberate deception and on people believing he is multiple people when in fact he is the same man all the way through. His duplicates are present but faint, and if my eyes are opened entirely they vanish.
The lights are too good here, his tricks don’t operate as they would otherwise. He nears me, pauses, looks into my face, at my features, tries to remember them, but fails. He doesn’t know me how he thought he did, he was hoping for something else. Disappointment. He now walks directly over to the fridge, which calls his prostate and gives him a yearning for some month-old beverage. He rummages through its contents, small and spectral in the yellow light of the freezing chemicals, finally settles on a can of sparkling water. I remember it was a brand which no longer exists, like him a relic of a bygone era, a ghost which nonetheless leaves a tangible and recognizable impact on the present world. I sit and watch as this torture is conducted, the carbonated fluid singing his dry and wrinkled throat, and he looks at me, shakes the can around, tells me with his eyes that I am young and do not know what he has to give. He has something which I do not, this is clear, he is the superior figure in whatever deal we are about to make.
He crosses once over to the switch, returns the room to its darkened condition, though without the sunlight it is a crypt, a plastic coffin submerged in dirt and gravel. In this light his duplicates can be seen, silhouetted. They are no longer moist, now they are solid, I could touch one if my hands weren’t bound. He nears. Eyes red, gleaming, fiery, they burn in a frenzy of carnivorous lust, he sees something. He knows something. The eyes are what can be seen of him, the rest is obscured in the night, the night from which noises of crickets emanate through the window, noises of chirping insects not unlike that flute, noises which when presented alongside burning eyes create nothing more than the deepest paralysis of the human heart. My nerves are sent into convulsions, I open my mouth but nothing can burst from my pale form, I am being dissected and blurred as he was, turned into many multiples, endless reproductions of one essence. The room grows useless, a tangible place to which the following experience is irrelevant, which cannot hold what came next, as the burning orbs neared and took on an olive tone, dark, nude, forest, the color of natural beauty warped and twisted into dying and decaying rot. These two points meld into one in the darkness, hide behind murk and whispers and carry me, roughly, pain surging through every inch of my flesh as I am whirled back to the ground, dirt, left there to die. Above, birds sing. The sun rises on dewdrops and an empty patch of soil.
I raise the shades, help the guy up to his feet and see him off. The cup remains on the couch, and I promptly discard it, it holds no significance for me. Outside, he can be seen pressing the button for the elevator. I watch him until he leaves, know that he’s gone, then I sit at my desk and pull out an aspirin. Back to the water cooler, get the pill, swallow. I think, I have the faintest idea, that I might have that painting replaced soon. Might trade it out to a buddy of mine who’s also in the industry. Receptionist doesn’t know what happened in this room and I’m not telling her. The couch is sweaty and imprinted, it’s seen worse things than some but this has to be the worst yet, a man who though his brain functions as usual has been filled to the utmost capacity and can barely hold it all in. I don’t know if I would be able to, if I was given similar circumstances. I sit back on the cushions, sort through my files and make a detailed entry. Takes about an hour. At the end I lean back and light up, it’ll be over soon, I can drive back to the house, maybe I can convince her to go out to the new restaurant, everyone gives it rave reviews. I need to eat something, my stomach might reject it however. I have something to do, something which I know must be done. I pick up the set and punch in the numbers.
Kansas prefix.
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2020.07.10 01:26 kyleraymundv2 Therapy Session

Coat, hat, degree on the wall, professionally installed carpet. Couch is not a couch per se, more a sterile and pillowless recliner, designed to give one the best experience possible. Lights, walls, bookshelf in the back full of empty pamphlets, stuffed folders, to the brim with index cards and postcards and info on my past clients. Mahogany, not real mahogany, of course, the desk is made out of wood pulp covered by a layer of plywood designed to look like mahogany. Very dry, yet distinguished, and from a distance you could almost call me a professional. I am a professional, I have a degree in all sorts of mental gymnastics, but you wouldn’t know that.
I dress casually at all times, feeling that one can feel more at ease with slacks and a t-shirt, baseball cap flipped to the side. I am nearing middle age, 42, my eyes squint in dusty conditions and my hair is receding like Grunge. I pace from the bookshelf to the chair in the corner , sometimes. Still don’t know why that chair is there, for a wife or parent or something to sit down while their associate is sorted through, though to date I haven’t had any patients accompanied by anyone. Above this chair, which is plastic with comfy padded armrests, next to this is a potted plant, fake of course, about seven inches to the left is a portrait by some famous artist, of what I suppose one would call the impressionist period, Monet and that sort, only this one is a cheap replica I got for $100 at the local auction, the guy even stated that it was a replica, but who cares, it’s a nice painting and some good décor, more suggestive than a Rorschach test, though I still keep a deck of those stashed in the drawer, just in case.
The painting has ample strokes and pleasant overtones, but something about it makes the mind do acrobatics. I’ve had three of my quota mention that they’ve seen it somewhere before, in a TV show or something, that it was in the background, that it’s always been there. In their heads, they can’t seem to get it out. It’s not San Giorgio Maggiore, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was painted in the same year. This one is simpler, no cathedral in the background, but like Giorgio, it’s set on the water, small fishing dock, maybe a port, and the shapes are just as obscured and vague in the evening haze. In the middle is a ship. Big thing, massive, calls to mind the steamers of old, and there are people on it, too, if you look very closely, faint, almost indiscernible silhouettes. Manning the rigging, wheel, etc. It’s pretty, but I often wonder who painted this and who these people are supposed to be. I also wonder what it would be like to exist in such an Impressionistic world. Get sucked in, feel this synthetic carpet move back under my feet as the noises of freshwater Venetian waves and murmuring ship hands grow closer and closer. I wonder sometimes, and my clientele give me the answers.
The man who came in last week should know, he walked through and sat on the couch, he was worried, I could tell by the wrinkles in his forehead, so I told him to lie down on there so he could spill all his worries out like a torrential flood right there in the middle of all this psychiatric foliage. I turned off the lights, they’re usually too bright for anyone to think, I only have them so I can work, then I went over to the wall and opened up the windows, let soft natural light and fresh air fill the room. There on the couch, legs periodically crossed, eyes looking at that replica of mine, he filled me in. The guy, I would say, was not by any means looking shabby. He had good hair, he was in his thirties, early thirties. Sandy hair, maybe from the Southwest, Caucasian, with certain features that indicates a decrepit and empty aura if not a decrepit look.
I muted my phone- push button landline, have yet to switch over to those cellular things, but it does have fax- walked over to him. I pulled out my sketchpad. I guess I didn’t pull it out of anywhere, it was lying on the desk, I’m sloppy with those things, shouldn’t leave notepads lying on the desk where anyone can read them, I should put it in the drawer. Flip through it, get to today, the guy moans a bit and turns over. I know this guy scheduled himself, didn’t just come in here, and I wonder if my receptionist saw what I’m seeing now or if this is just a hangover of some kind. The guy’s clothes are a bit wrinkled, wearing tennis shoes, classic sign of immaturity, or at least Freud would have me believe, but I try and keep an open mind. He points at my personal computer, asks if I could switch the monitor off, a request which I oblige. The darkness in the room now is stifling, almost irrepressible, synthetic materials turned to jungle and organic thriving something off in the corners of this large expanse.
The man has seen something, done something, something which draws him into shadows. Even the midday sun coming through the halfway down blinds cannot repress the feeling of missed opportunity which surrounds this man, a missed opportunity or a blemish on his past. I scribble these things and more down as he opens his lips, and what comes out is not a grunt, or a moan, but a monotone, stale voice. I think about how I am older than this man and yet have so much less than he does, he has experience. He’s seen things, been around things, knows where his head is at and what inning it is. A professional, I assume, looking good and maybe with a wife but no children, maybe she’s unable to have children. Once more, the painting calls to him, the ship so long ago with its rigging and anchor, and ant people scuttling around. Though the ship and the sky itself is obscured in a twilight haze obscured by a real midday haze, atmospheric discombobulation, his eyes are nonetheless enchanted by the world this picture paints. It is because as I have said he is a man of questions and darkness and twilight, and some twilight long ago in Venice or perhaps even Malta the sun is going down and people in near-empty streets are sharing obscure European food in corner cafes, a precursor to that one with the three men alone in a corner café on a dark New York City at night. The ships make ambient noises as their prows cut through the water, and above birds fly open and opaque in the orange hue. His eyes are drawn to this world, and I listen in the darkness as his corneas are sucked across the room.
I know you won’t believe me, he says. Nobody will believe this, you hack, you fraud, this is something for me and me alone. Water, please? His arm gestures, I walk out the door, down the hallway, make a right, to the water cooler, which gurgles softly, pours cool sweet sugar free liquid into a sterile and generic paper cup with swirling brown lines on the sides. Receptionist is at the desk, browsing through something, She’s a good lady. My wife gives me strange looks, she probably thinks I’m cheating on the side with this ditzy 22 year old, yeah right. Anyway. Back in the room, around the corner, shut the door with a soft and svelte click. Give the guy his water. He raises himself with his left elbow, left may have some subtext, must mean something, everything means something unless it doesn’t. Sips it long and hard, glugs that right down his throat until the cup is devoid of even the smallest drop. Still sweating profusely. Eyes like a scared rabbit. Outside, one minute, the light was so scathing. In here it’s cool and dark and night in Venice, and masked figures race along stone pathways, bridges stretch over dark rippling canals over which the lone gondola carries a night passenger to some unknown bistro. Lamps over the canals, too, they reflect sharply on those depthless waves.
And at the same time it’s a blue day outside, postcard blue, traffic can be heard and the buildings resound a sharp grey against the monotone sky. 42 stories down, it’s the lunch hour, revolving doors and cheap trinkets, street cart food and newsstands with all the usual tabloids. Why am I so nervous? I swivel my seat around, get out from behind the desk, right next to him. That’s it. Keep my eyes away from the painting. Whatever you do, don’t look at that painting. You don’t want to know.
Picture if you would a typical day in Seattle. I can’t, I’ve never been there, wouldn’t know the first thing about the place, especially 15 years ago, but picture it anyway. Space Needle, whatever. Pike Place Market, is that in Seattle? I can see it, rows of shops stretching on towards the horizon. We have a mall here, but not a full-on market, just a mall. Cheap shops, people walking and talking on their doodads, parking lot that goes on and on. Miles of labyrinthine corridors lined by the outlets of commerce. He says something along these lines. Mental image, not of Venice this time but of a city of contrasts, woods, mountains, also beaches and city blocks. Confusing place, confusing times, confusing everything, an aesthetic that would lend a hand towards the downright obscene or the unabashedly lovely. I can tell as he recounts this that he’s being awfully genuine, and as he paints this idyllic past I hesitate to use the notepad as this all seems so irrelevant. Gradually, my arm falls, and the pencil drops to the floor. Five minutes later, the notepad joins it.
I stare out the window as his voice loses its monotone qualities and picks right up to speed. I hear about places and people I’ve never heard about, either this guy is a very convincing storyteller or he really was there. Dates line up. He tells me about a school, the girls he went out with, friends he had. I don’t tell him to cut to the chase but I don’t want to rush him and my appointments are empty today. Always slow on Tuesdays. These anecdotes are words, phrases, congealing into an apt picture of the times. He tells me about a concert he went to, the aura of the era, the signs of the times. I’m nostalgic, but not as much as he is, because I’m older than him and he really appreciated these times while they happened. His adolescence doesn’t sound too bad, I think, decent enough, both his parents were supportive, he had lots of friends, even went to dances, where apparently he was popular. Showed up at most of the parties he was invited to, didn’t do drugs but did drink, though not in excess, not in levels that would damage one’s liver or mind. He seems to tell these fuzzy memories as if they happened to someone else, as if they couldn’t have happened to him.
He doesn’t warrant these stories, he wasn’t this good, he didn’t have this much fun, so on. There’s something he’s hiding from me. I offer him a candy, bribe, whole bowl of them right there on my table. Sure it’s cliché? But whatcha gonna do to get someone to open up other than to offer them a treat? I got the idea after seeing the Michelle Pfeiffer movie earlier this year, fireballs, what a great idea, I thought, because it is, right? Except when I went to the store, they didn’t stock fireballs, because of course they didn’t, but they did have Lemonheads, and I figure either way an extreme taste is an extreme taste, right? Gets the juices flowing, gets the tongue moving. Take this, I say, drop the candy in his hand. He unwraps it slowly and thoughtfully, all the while his tongue still going, wrapper crinkling, and he gives it to me and I stuff the wrapper in my pocket, figure to get up and toss it would be too much of a distraction. I’m also scared, though of what I don’t know. This pining and waxing gets on my nerves, the present is enough already without dwelling on the past. I keep in mind, however, that repression is a factor at play here, and between the smacking and rolling that crunchy citrus ball of sugar around from tooth to jaw and back again I get the idea that something is going on in his mind more than something is going on in his mouth, that his mind is a question and I want to answer it, probe it, feel it the way he handled that wrapper, mull over it. Beautiful mind. Dark room, quizzical shadows fall over the furniture. Scene, Action. Piece of cake.
Woods, open and clear day, and across these woods, behind me, is one of those mountains which appears mind-bogglingly high because we’re at sea level. I, however, am stuck between the two. In my hand is a portable cassette player, expensive. My father bought this trinket for me when I was 13, told me it was the wave of the future and he had been nurtured by vinyl as a child. Loud noises fill my mind through thick wires which lead to a strange outfit on my head, one which covers both my ears through the use of a connection on top, a headband of sorts. I turn this device off, store it away, sling the wires over my shoulder, stash the thing in my pocket. Compact, light, easy. Forest noises, wooded glade, in a sense I wish the entire state was like this, a vast expanse of trees producing oxygen, oxygen which fills my lungs. It is midday and the sun is hot but not overly so, and I am dressed for the occasion. Mountains surround these shadowed glades, massive and overpowering and near-Canadian, although they lack the intensity of Canadian slopes.
Sun plays tricks on the needles, leaves are sparse but they shimmy and shake in the rosy glow. Everywhere you can see the green, the overpowering and steady green, the always-present and nearly-not-natural green. Green are the bushes, the herbs, the small trees and the big trees. Green, too, are the mosses and lichens. I do not fear these effervescent structures, in fact they call to me. I am propelled over root and rot to ancient structures time forgot, a crumbling bridge here, an old aqueduct there, left abandoned and in misery out where nobody will find them and man maintains them seldom to none. I do not find them, they find me nonetheless, because decay is very powerful here, green is very powerful here. Green is everywhere. Green can take a structure which took hours and years to build, filed away by some bureaucratic office, and reduce it all to a pile of rubble.
What is green? Green is chaos, green is the longing and the wanting of privacy and the acquisition of said solidarity, and once this is acquired one doesn’t want to leave, you’ve caught a bug, the green bug, one could say. Ferns here, too, old dinosaur things, slippery and wet, and you wonder how they haven’t decayed. You wonder how this all hasn’t decayed yet, it’s so wet and rainy, you’d think it would encrust and grow mold, become a massive soup of rot and fungus, with mountains to hold it all in, swamps and puddles and torrential moistness held in deep dark foaming puddles under the moon while the wind whistles through the dead branches, dead of course because all the leaves have fallen off and gone to the filth reserves. You wonder this, because in the old days, world war one when they had a supply of fresh boots, trenchfoot would seep up through the toes and ligaments. Shortage of boots, and though the foot was living tissue, it rotted away all the same. Rotted in the dirty crevasses, those muddy foxholes, it rotted all the same. You saw this condition referenced on a medical drama some years ago, and it has stuck with you ever since. Me ever since. I turn up and see a flight of birds, as they hop from one forest to another, up north or down south, or maybe they’re just feeling uncomfortable. The sun has gone behind clouds, hiding itself, and the heat gives way to a slight shiver, a trickling and irreversible breeze, nature pushing energy onto you.
You stop, I stop, we all stop for this forest, a forest which defies all expectations. Acres and acres away from life where the laws of physics do not apply. Sequestered men and women who long for loneliness under the cold rock faces of the Cascades. This is ancient land, sacred land, land with channels of icy thirst dripping from every orifice. It is shrouded in mist, held in the grip of something which lends it a mystique, a silence between the cliffs. These hills are here, these mountains are there, in just such a way as to boggle the mind, to make one lost and afraid in the dark on a night when the mist is down and there is no moon, and one is left struggling down slopes, between the trees, into yet another valley and yet another steep slope which defies all logic, and the night does not end. One sits beneath a pine and grows weary, the organs begin to self cannibalize, the bones grow weak, the muscles grow inactive, and by morning what is found is more rotting soup than human. Such is the power of water. Cascades, water, rushing, pouring down every cliff onto other cliffs into a broad and deep mountain lake which bubbles and hisses and then lies still. You see this lake for a moment, a shimmer, a twinkle behind a swath of trees, but the lake just as easily vanishes, gone, and when I run toward it it is no longer there. More trees, no lake. Mirages do not happen where there is plentiful water, this is a well known scientific fact.
You pull out a candy bar for comfort, you have several of them stowed away in your day pack, but the chocolate has no taste, no flavor. It melts into nothing and is swallowed just as easily. I turn towards the sun, which now has returned but is less potent than previously, and aim for the direction of a mountain I have seen before on these walks, a mountain I don’t know the name of but which has a recognizable shape and could serve as a landmark. I know this mountain. It is distant and ethereal, and on it lies the small town of Illusion, from which wafts a haunting flute tune. I know not if I hear this flute, this macabre recorder, in my ears or in my brain, but the effect is gone soon after, and it matters not from whence the flute originated, for the mountain leaves me alone on an empty plateau, a plateau of infinity and ideas, and the mountain is swallowed by the trees, which obscure it as they did the lake. Sky is now gathering, real rain, torrential downpour, get your jacket out, it’s going to be a doozy, and no tree on earth will save me from it. Crack, boom, gray water vapor congeals into a massive and black maw, a mouth from which pours the bucket, the flood upon my head. Rain is slick, ground is dripping and soggy, dirt slides right under my feet as if I were at the Olympics. Roots trip me up, as do small rocks in my path, mix of pine and broad leaf here. River somewhere nearby. Rushing, pouring, barely able to contain itself within its shores, breaking on impact, trees are swallowed whole by pools which form around my feet, puddles which could drown a rat. Hidden in one gulch lies a carcass of some kind, I see it but do not want to know it closely, it remains sheathed under branches and innumerable foliage, and emits a potent odor.
The wind is screaming and howling, the cosmos themselves are fighting up in those bleak and dismal clouds, and I am more soup than person now, liquid in its basic form, the skin a weak and wholly terrestrial defense against the pelting precipitation hurled at me from the heavens. I am scared of what I do not know. Never before have I seen a man such as this, standing still in the midst of what would turn any grown person’s skin to ice or a hole-pocked dread, this man stands firm. His face is up against the air, he breathes in the liquid, shivers as it courses through his veins with a kind of giddy delight. In one hand he holds a briefcase, his other he holds firm to his lapel. And though my eyes are bleary and my vision cannot be called sufficient, and I cannot see through this unnatural foaming liquid for more than twenty feet in any direction, I do know one thing about this man: That he stands with two other men, each identical replicas of him, as seen through a kaleidoscope or a filter. This man is not alone, but he has no company. He is singular but he is divided. These forms on either side of him are weaker but substantial. They, too, face the rain, they too clutch at the lapel as the sky screams fury and the world bubbles, his eyes shine in the darkness, they glow in that storm, they turn a fiery red, then a low muted green. Finally, they twinkle in the softest starlight, and then return to their blank state, unseen and unnoticed in this most secluded of all places, this endless downpour. He stands tall, though he is old, he has seen many things, many more things than this, this is but a meme setback to him, the weather means nothing.
The rain continues, the world goes grey and lifeless, and the mist mixes with the rain in an acidic hiss, and the clouds themselves are waging a war upon the ground beneath my feet. I hesitate near a log and observe the man from behind a worn tree, its bark picked off methodically. Sitting, seat is drenched, every corner is bathed in layers of caked sweat, permanent grease, and furthermore an inch on every side of a new ocean which drops instantly over me. The man cares not though he lives in the same land-based oceanic environment, he is a creature of depths, not necessarily wet ones, but depths and souls and areas which boggle the mind. His face cannot be seen, he wears no hat, for this would shield him from the elements he craves, the raw and open lashing of the deluge, the skies in rage. His briefcase is medium sized, cannot be seen well for the confounding visual impact of the rain, though it contains something, as he carries it with a weight, it weighs him to the ground while the wind whips and sucks and pulls him nearer to the battle and crack above. Trees bend like modeling clay in such winds, these winds pull the leaves off things, the rain aids in the job. Things die in weather like this. Water giveth life, water taketh away, the universal solvent is a catalyst of life but also an instrument of decay and neglect. I know this now, a rotting soup, an infinite void where organic matter lies in a fluidic dense mass, writing with vines and death.
Death being the word called to mind when one spots this ethereal figure in the midst of a paradoxical and wholly impossible event, one whose presence indicates multiplicity, for he is three people unto one. He is one man with two duplicates, and with a squint one can even make out five whole bodies, all performing the same actions at the same time, though the two on the edges are spectral and faint, distant as the town of illusion on the blank mountainside, unimportant as that drowsy and lulling flute, which wafted over trees and into valleys where it could be heard by farmers and tailors alike.
I am in a room and the room is hot, you guide me here. Suitcase, chloroform, various implements and instruments of degrading practices, held in those woods, but that’s all behind me as the world glides to a halt and the windows shine bright light, wafting of dust and corn. Carpet, not old carpet, the shaggy and unpredictable sort but a hard and frizzy variety made of nylon. I sit on a seat where ropes bind me, hold me, hard to breathe but easy to see. That’s the dickens of it, everything is visible here. Eerily visible. The rain was a dream but this is a harsh reality, this room and everything in it is corporeal, here, physical presence. Desk in the back, lit by one lamp, plugged into a socket on the left side, nothing on it save a microwave oven. Fridge. A fridge, has stickers on it, drawings, some look like they’re by kids but it’s too dark to tell for sure. The world is gray and moving is impossible. I wonder what’s in that fridge, a severed head or a can of soda pop. Makes a relaxing humming noise. Soothing, comforting, this is the relaxed and laid-back environment you’d take your child to, play around on the floor with some blocks. Against the wall, another sight- rows of folding chairs, the aluminum kind.
All the lights are turned off but these things are visible through the windows at the top- basement, that’s what it is, you’re subterranean, below what we might call the crust. This room is claustrophobic, stifling, the ceiling looks like it could fall on you. Cramped, yet the ventilation seems fine, in fact one of these windows is open. Beam comes from it, sharp, almost glaring, though not directly in your eyes. You try and shimmy in one direction or the other but you tip and after that you don’t want to rock back and forth anymore because this isn’t a home. This area is not lived in, it is decidedly artificial. Hokey, made for something besides life. Everything is synthetic, plastic, the lights are off but the glare is on, everywhere the shimmer and shine, the sleek smoothness to be found at a Costco warehouse, sure those places are nice but you wouldn’t want to live in one, would you? But a Costco is big and this room, though wide from front to back, is nothing if not unsettlingly small. Low on the top. This basement is not damp or dim, it is not accessed by wooden stairs and it will likely never be flooded out, this room is permanent and tangible, one of many cellars across the nation but one which unlike those other cellars rather than feeling like a moldy or cozy nook instead is a nameless plastic box. And those folding chairs, rested against yet another row, this one of cabinets the contents of which you’ll never know, I’ll never know. This is because and I quote the chairs are made for some unholy or otherwise indecent gathering, you can see them being hauled out of this storage and given new life upstairs. The ceiling is worn tile, not as artificial as the rest but still with a sense of inauthenticity.
These are not old world goods carved in some village shoppe, these are new things for mass consumption, surfaces without any dips or nicks to be seen. Your mouth is not held or bound, but there would be no sense in screaming as your screams would reach nobody. There are no sounds outside, birds sing but aside from that it’s eerily quiet. Upstairs, one other sound is added to the drone of the fridge- a vacuum. Some hobbled custodian keeping the premises clean. You’ll never see him or know him, but his presence is felt. Though artificial, this facility reeks of- well, it has a sense of belonging. Of being old and known. People have been in here, to be sure, they have sat at that desk, made themselves a lunch there, maybe. The fridge is on, people have eaten from it, opened its door, taken out some food, and walked out again. Those chairs have been sat on, they are not without purpose, and though they now reside in storage, eventually someone will haul them out and eventually someone will haul out the contents of the cabinets behind them, too, the ones with the straight down handles and the double doors. This room is not lived in but it is used frequently, shadow men and weary parents lug their young through these doors and out again, casual talk made after some distinctly American ceremony. If the human soul cannot sustain itself here, it can at least show up time and again though the room would not will it.
The vacuum upstairs removes dust so as to keep the rooms looking neat. This is a gathering place, a spot where people come together- but the floor is blank, nothing but that desk, some cabinets above that, presumably with forks and other implements- a community center of some kind, yes, a recreational facility, built for recreation. Union offices, maybe a swimming pool, pool tables and basketball court, here. Or a church, it could be a church, too, couldn’t it? The thought crosses my mind, your mind, we know something. Can see. Can feel. The chair you’re on isn’t one of the folding ones, this one has plush armrests and is made of wooden materials. Whoever tied me up has an intent, a direct motive, they didn’t just tie me to the folding kind, no, they got another breed of seat from another room entirely. Sit in the illuminated darkness and wait, time passes, time flies, you don’t even know how long you’ve been here, really, do you? You can’t say you do, and what’s more disturbing still is the fact that you can’t seem to grasp when it was you woke, whether it was in the trunk of an SUV or in an empty cornfield. Ropes were applied, you felt them as hands wound them up and kept them taut, force was used, besides that you know nothing.
Footsteps, murmurs. These murmurs come from a door behind you, the only entrance into the whole place, a locked closet on one distant wall and the windows giving these surroundings fresh and natural sunlight and air, but the door which lies three feet from your sweat drenched neck is the only way in and the only way out. Of this fact, you have no doubts. Perceptive eyes, yours. From behind this door can be heard furtive voices in corridors where conversation would be futile because all aspects are known, halls with plaques, buttons to elevators that stopped operation in 1922. The point being that these voices are seldom heard in this long and timeless period when your hands are held and your throat is parched. The voices grow more distant, and you lose hope of a feeding. Then, however, one voice barely audible to the human ear makes its way to the entrance, stops. The voice in all honesty quit about fifty feet away, but those hidden footsteps bring the promise of answers and of revelations. These are resumed and the door is opened, light and sound fill your weary body and you know there is another presence, certainly human, without a doubt male, a man who enters this place and then leaves quite often, and only now is entering this room with full knowledge and acceptance of what he’s done. The man steps behind you, I’m too tired to twist my neck and get a good look at his face. I know who he is, this is a silly game and I’m sick of playing it.
He’s holding something, too. The sunlight is reverted to dusk and crimson, and outside are the faraway noises of cars lifting from slumber and departing. Departing because they get softer and less audible, and the man stands near one wall, drowned in scarlet. He moves closer to the closet, next to it is a panel with more than three switches, of these he flips one. The room is revealed to be as massive as you thought it was and with the exact arrangement you recall, stark whites and a flat carpet that to an ant would be a plain of unimaginably lonely proportions. The man is old, seventies, white hair and jowls, dressed plain enough to be seen at a coffee shop but formally enough to be seen in a town hall meeting, he has walked roads and traveled miles, he’s been to gas stations but he is a man of habit, not a drifter. Make no mistake between the two, he has rituals, he has routines, he follows these routines to the best of his ability and in the whir of the flat and lifeless lights connected to unseen wires in the low ceiling, he is absolutely stark and rigid, a depiction of protocol. Lifeless, humorless, a man who knows things you can’t begin to guess. Lapel, a pin of some kind there. Decoration, he belongs to an association of like minded individuals, a mutual admiration society if you would. Meetings held, records kept in dusty and worn ledgers, records for his and his kind’s eyes only. His shoes are beaten, they have trodden many grounds, fields and areas. They are well kept, though, he is well kept. His face is wrinkled and suggests to me the color gray, he lives in exciting monotony. Sterile hubbub.
I see him plain against the walls, the walls are merely a backdrop for this man of ages and wisdom. He carries nothing. He walks with a decided step, a mannerism beaten into him through sheer habit. The room is built for men like him, men who in their golden years forget to walk, seven stages of man, last one’s a return to the first, know that. I know, too, that this visage does not come in a blur when subjected to harsh light, when exposed and thoroughly studied this specimen is less cryptic than at first glance. He fears my vision, knows that I know him and what he does, he treads softly on the synthetic carpet towards the chair where I sit incapacitated and blank, staring through him, behind him, through the walls and out the windows, to a blue and pleasant summer day. It is indeed the dust and corn, land of flat. In parks lovers can be seen huddled on benches, farms go on, cows huddle in fields, sun rises and sets and rises again, circle of life. This area is one of stagnation. It does not change, it keeps on as it has been. This is his power, the power of dust and if not complete rot then of static. Static setting, monotony, emptiness. He lives this way, he cannot be expected to live any other way. He projects vibrations of whimsy, excitement and a bold rainstorm, lightning crucifying him. He thrives on blur, on spin, on deliberate deception and on people believing he is multiple people when in fact he is the same man all the way through. His duplicates are present but faint, and if my eyes are opened entirely they vanish.
The lights are too good here, his tricks don’t operate as they would otherwise. He nears me, pauses, looks into my face, at my features, tries to remember them, but fails. He doesn’t know me how he thought he did, he was hoping for something else. Disappointment. He now walks directly over to the fridge, which calls his prostate and gives him a yearning for some month-old beverage. He rummages through its contents, small and spectral in the yellow light of the freezing chemicals, finally settles on a can of sparkling water. I remember it was a brand which no longer exists, like him a relic of a bygone era, a ghost which nonetheless leaves a tangible and recognizable impact on the present world. I sit and watch as this torture is conducted, the carbonated fluid singing his dry and wrinkled throat, and he looks at me, shakes the can around, tells me with his eyes that I am young and do not know what he has to give. He has something which I do not, this is clear, he is the superior figure in whatever deal we are about to make.
He crosses once over to the switch, returns the room to its darkened condition, though without the sunlight it is a crypt, a plastic coffin submerged in dirt and gravel. In this light his duplicates can be seen, silhouetted. They are no longer moist, now they are solid, I could touch one if my hands weren’t bound. He nears. Eyes red, gleaming, fiery, they burn in a frenzy of carnivorous lust, he sees something. He knows something. The eyes are what can be seen of him, the rest is obscured in the night, the night from which noises of crickets emanate through the window, noises of chirping insects not unlike that flute, noises which when presented alongside burning eyes create nothing more than the deepest paralysis of the human heart. My nerves are sent into convulsions, I open my mouth but nothing can burst from my pale form, I am being dissected and blurred as he was, turned into many multiples, endless reproductions of one essence. The room grows useless, a tangible place to which the following experience is irrelevant, which cannot hold what came next, as the burning orbs neared and took on an olive tone, dark, nude, forest, the color of natural beauty warped and twisted into dying and decaying rot. These two points meld into one in the darkness, hide behind murk and whispers and carry me, roughly, pain surging through every inch of my flesh as I am whirled back to the ground, dirt, left there to die. Above, birds sing. The sun rises on dewdrops and an empty patch of soil.
I raise the shades, help the guy up to his feet and see him off. The cup remains on the couch, and I promptly discard it, it holds no significance for me. Outside, he can be seen pressing the button for the elevator. I watch him until he leaves, know that he’s gone, then I sit at my desk and pull out an aspirin. Back to the water cooler, get the pill, swallow. I think, I have the faintest idea, that I might have that painting replaced soon. Might trade it out to a buddy of mine who’s also in the industry. Receptionist doesn’t know what happened in this room and I’m not telling her. The couch is sweaty and imprinted, it’s seen worse things than some but this has to be the worst yet, a man who though his brain functions as usual has been filled to the utmost capacity and can barely hold it all in. I don’t know if I would be able to, if I was given similar circumstances. I sit back on the cushions, sort through my files and make a detailed entry. Takes about an hour. At the end I lean back and light up, it’ll be over soon, I can drive back to the house, maybe I can convince her to go out to the new restaurant, everyone gives it rave reviews. I need to eat something, my stomach might reject it however. I have something to do, something which I know must be done. I pick up the set and punch in the numbers.
Kansas prefix.
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submitted by kyleraymundv2 to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 23:20 pp_big69 Satan’s Fall

The devil on the fiery porch. He was back again that year, the same as he had been for five years running, keeping the majority of Trick or Treaters behind an imaginary line of uneasiness drawn at the edge of the curb with his Hell-red grin and burning cauldrons. It was a scene from Faust, only this was no play; this was my neighborhood.
It wasn’t just kids who lingered apprehensively in the street, but parents as well. In a place where the definition of Halloween was more like cardboard skeletons and plastic jack-o-lanterns, a guy with a penchant for fire and pitchforks could be extraordinarily scary. Really young children were hurried past the residence altogether via lawns on the opposite side of the street, hopefully, distracted by candy long enough to save them from the psyche-scarring nightmares certain to result from even the smallest glimpse of him. This left only a few – the brave – to make the journey and collect one of the candy bars given out by the devil basking in the red glow of the doorway.
Trick or Treating in the 1970s wasn’t the flirt with death that it can be today. At that time, in most suburban settings, people lived in the same house for years and made the effort to get to know their neighbors and their neighbor’s children. It was a safe haven from the malicious world beyond; a stronghold of sterile thoughts and selective ideals. That is why it was more alarming when the occasional anti-Cleaver oddballs, like the Warren family, managed to infiltrate the peaceful utopia and upset the balance of neatly trimmed lawns and Tupperware parties. Especially when at Halloween their oldest son Wayne Warren painted himself red, donned horns, and sat on a throne between two flaming cauldrons on their sunken porch.
My first encounter with him was when my father volunteered to secure one of Satan’s fat candy bars on my behalf. I watched wide-eyed at the curb while my mother yakked up the other neighborhood mothers about the sick nature of the affair. Later that night, as I spread my bounty out upon the living room floor, she snatched the King Size Snickers that the devil had given and tossed it into the trash. Only later did I understand the action, although to my knowledge no one had ever reported any ill-effects from his confectionery treats.
The greasepaint devil quickly became a milestone of bravery for the youth of our neighborhood. As we got older, our worth was measured upon whether we had Trick or Treated his house on our own. For most of the neighborhood kids, it was a confrontation with their own childhood fears; a rite of passage. But my own eventual encounter with him reckoned with more than mere cultural demon speak. For me, it was not a conquest, but a beginning; a passageway to a haunted life well beyond the October ritual. And after what it indirectly wrought upon my life and the life of my childhood friend, Dan Rutgers, I came to realize that I had more in common with Wayne Warren than anyone would ever know.
I was old enough to Trick or Treat on my own. I had been for a few years – having entered the seventh grade – but had thus far chosen to skip the devil’s house despite my Samhain freedom. And as the candy collectors stood entwined in trepidation at the end of his lawn that night, I looked on, ready to cast away silly childhood fears. In the recessed front porch of the tan-stone house, the devil sat on a black throne, pitchfork in hand, and grinning like a madman. On either side of him, a cauldron belched hot flames, which illuminated the entire alcove with a yellow-red glow that brought a little piece of Hell right there to our suburban street. Dark music, probably borrowed from the Omen soundtrack, boomed from somewhere on the porch like a theme for a black mass, while Sounds of the Haunted House crept out of the home’s dark windows. They were opened just enough to let in some of the autumn air, which was uncharacteristically cool for Texas even in late October. Every once in a while, the devil would bark out something to the effect of “come on up kids” or just let out a string of vein-chilling laughs that echoed off of the houses and faded into the night air like a horde of goblins. As a fan of the horror film classics, somewhere inside I had begun to admire his mastery of Halloween, but the fear of something I did not fully understand still outweighed this association. The man behind the red face was something real, and that’s what made him scary to me, even if some people simply wrote him off as a self-aggrandizing jerk.
“Are we going up there?” Dan asked me as I stood at the curb siphoning the last bits of courage from my body.
Dan was a few years older and several inches taller, but we were two boys made from the same mold. We had been best friends for six years now, both possessing a fever for Hot Wheels, Big Jims, and superheroes. I could see his own reservation just under the green skin of his Incredible Hulk face. His mother was an inferno preaching Baptist and though I could not understand at the time, he grappled with issues far deeper than my own regarding the fiendish display.
“Yeah,” I answered, although I had yet to top off my courage tank.
Our mutual friend, Bob, spoke from behind his Planet of the Apes mask. “Y'all can go if ya want, but I ain’t. My brother says that guy’s a goon and he don’t wanna have ta kick his butt when he finds a razor blade in my candy bar.”
“I ain’t gonna eat the candy,” I replied, stating what I thought was obvious.
The music boomed forth with a new strain and I looked hard at the real fire, the past prime teenager in the red makeup, and the iron gates which stood open at the porch’s arc.
“Well, he ain’t gonna kill us or anything. He’s been doing this ever since I can remember and lots of kids have gone up there.” I nudged my head toward two older kids who had just been up to Satan. “They just went. And if they did then I’m going. Dan, you coming?”
Getting a yes from Dan, I put my foot onto the devil’s brown lawn and began the approach. I tried to imagine what I saw across the street the other three-hundred sixty-four days out of the year. A stony looking house with a dark porch and some skinny druggie guy coming and going in his beat-up Camero. Sometimes kissing or beating his girlfriend a little, but always giving me a chin-up nod as if to say I was cool. It was just Wayne Warren…not the devil.
Telling myself this made it a little better, but on Halloween this guy was just plain different. Just plain scary. And as I neared I tried the customary cool nod, but Wayne didn’t nod back. Instead he grinned like a mental patient and let out a laugh that resonated in the sunken porch as if it sunk all the way down to Hell.
Dan, in an attempt at proper All Hallows etiquette, moved up beside me, held out his bag, and muttered “trick or treat” which sounded ridiculous under the circumstances.
“Heh, heh, heh,” Wayne cackled and threw a Chunky bar into his bag.
Then he focused on me and my spirit-gummed wolfman face. “Something special for you my friend!” he said, reaching down beside his seat. He pulled out something, gazed at it a moment and then threw it into the sack I held open in front me as if it were my empty soul waiting for him to fill. I didn’t get a good look at it, but I didn’t care. I’d have a better look as soon as Dan and I got out of the yard.
Without any more explanation, Wayne stoked one of the cauldron fires, spit, and turned his attention to a group of approaching teenagers. Dan and I hurried back to the curb where Bob waited.
“Let’s go next door and check out whatever it was he gave me,” I said.
Squatting down under a street lamp, Dan and I pulled out our devil’s booty.
“Just a regular candy bar, but maybe there’s a razor blade in it?” he said ripping into the package and breaking the Chunky into several pieces finding nothing but chocolate inside.
Bob removed his Cornelius mask. “What’d you get?”
I pulled out the weird item Wayne had thrown into my bag and held it up in the bath of white street light. “It looks like a tooth or maybe a horn,” I said, not having seen anything like it before.
The thing was about three inches in length, jagged at one end and tapering into a curved point at the other. But instead of bone or enamel, it was made from a semi-transparent material with what looked like microscopic electronic components inside.
“Let me check it out,” Dan said grabbing it from me. “That stuff in there looks like this computer board that my dad showed me.”
I took it back and looked again beyond its translucent surface. “Computers are a lot bigger than this,” I said authoritatively.
Bob squinted at it. “That’s weird. I bet my brother knows what it is.”
“Maybe we should ask him?” I suggested.
Bob’s brother Ronnie rolled the horn-thing between his fingers as he looked at it under the desk lamp.
“Looks like it came from a robot or something. Y'all are a bunch of goons.” He tossed it back at me. “Maybe it come from that alien that crashed over in Motor Valley,” he added making a spooky whoooo sound.
“Huh?” all three of us replied.
Ronnie laughed. “I guess ya’ll were still in diapers. A few years ago, the cops and everybody went out there when something crashed in the woods between Motor Valley Road and Screaming Bridge. Supposedly, they found a blown up flying saucer, but never found any aliens. When that idiot Wayne Warren was still going to school, I heard a rumor about how he and a friend of his were out there drinking one night and found some flying saucer parts. I think that was about the time he started dressing up like Satan on Halloween. Maybe he’s givin’ out those UFO parts instead of candy; cheap ass. I think it’s all bullshit.”
With that Ronnie left Bob’s room.
We all looked again at the thing.
“Pretty cool story, man. We oughta go out there and check it out. Maybe this did come from a space ship,” I suggested.
Dan nodded. “I ain’t never seen anything like it.”
“Y'all are crazy,” Bob said, looking suspiciously at us both.
Anything good was usually off-limits. It’s the tradeoff for having parents that give a shit about you. I wasn’t allowed in the creek, not allowed to attend spin-the-bottle parties, not allowed in the yard of the kid who talked like a sailor with a belly full of gin, not allowed to ride my bike to Dairy Queen, and basically not allowed to venture beyond the small quadrant of my neighborhood. Motor Valley was definitely off my childhood map. As a result, I spent half my youth in the creek or making bike runs out of the quadrant and the other half making up plausible excuses for why I was late. So a trip to Motor Valley with my usual accomplice, Dan, was nothing too exceptional. But the possibility of dead alien creatures was, and that’s why this mission was going to happen regardless of any potential consequences. Bob, however couldn’t go. He was grounded for getting caught with a pack of his dad’s cigarettes. Looking back, I can’t blame him for finding a way out.
Motor Valley got its name from the motocross track that was built on the west end of its expanse. Except for a few ill-repaired roads that cut through it, the valley was mostly brushy Texas woods and low lying flat land which collected water to create the closest thing to a bog Central Texas could have. If something did crash in there, it was no wonder that collecting all the pieces was difficult. But since the time of the crash, which I later dated at September 30, 1972 by searching old newspapers, much of the water had been irrigated out to subsidize a local cattle feed farm making it possible to get around in the area without sinking in muck.
Dan and I biked down the road past the old junior high school and out across Highway 10 where a few industrial buildings and a bar called The Firehose stood like holdouts against the concept of renovation. These were the last few constructs of civilization before Motor Valley took over.
As we reached the end of the industrial stretch, we right turned onto Motor Valley Road, which sloped down a gradual incline until it eventually curved south and cut right through the center of the valley itself. Few cars ever came this way unless they were there to dump something or to take a short cut to Highway 10 and Dan and I pedaled down the center of the curbless macadam as if we owned it. Off to the side, either in the gullies or along the occasional dirt paths that spidered away from the road, we saw discarded relics of prosperity littering the land like pockmarks. Old washing machines, tread-bare tires, skeletal couches, and limbless dolls, in their abandoned afterlife, serving as shelters for the dark crawling creatures which hid underneath.
We stopped pedaling to coast the hill.
“Did you remember the horn thing?” Dan huffed.
“Yeah.”
“You’re gonna be grounded forever if your mom finds out about this.”
I nodded dramatically. “What did you tell your mom we were doing?”
“Going to Dairy Queen and the arcade.”
“I hope your mom and my mom don’t talk for some reason before we get back. You know how my mom is always calling to find out where I am. I told her I was just going to the arcade. She doesn’t want me going over to the Dairy Queen. She heard a story on the news where this guy went into a Dairy Queen in Lubbock and whipped out his pecker and got thrown in jail!”
Dan laughed. “Sounds like what Jimmy’s cousin did at his birthday party.”
“Didn’t some girl kick him in the nads when he did?”
“Yeah. He had to stay in bed for two weeks.”
“Excellent!”
We made the curve and headed onto the long stretch of Motor Valley Road. After more than a half-mile, we made it to the narrow side road which led down to Screaming Bridge. I’m sure that wasn’t its original name, but that was the name it went by. One of those tragic lover suicide stories went along with it. We had heard plenty about it, but had yet to make the trip out. I guess it took potential dead aliens to make it worthwhile.
Turning left, we pedaled up the side road whose name was a mystery since it had no street sign. As we crunched along its crumbling blacktop, the trees began to grow thicker, leaning over the road to form a canopy. They cast a shadow across the road like a dark tunnel. Bony branches were beginning to emerge from the clusters of leaves, which were falling away with each cool gust of autumn wind. For a moment I thought of the forest in Oz, but such a pleasant thought quickly faded. I was positive that any beasts lurking in these thorn-ridden groves would not be singing or dancing. In fact, they were not even chirping or growling. It was oddly silent, which was even more disturbing.
As we neared Screaming Bridge, the asphalt turned to sandy loam making it difficult for our bicycles despite the fact that they were the rugged Huffy models with plastic gas tanks screwed to the crossbar to emulate motorcycles. We decided to park them out of sight and go the rest of the way on foot.
The bridge was nothing, really. A dirt road that ended in a huge drop filled with sun-faded beer cans and other less identifiable trash. After taking a piss off of its edge, we headed south in the direction Ronnie had told us the UFO had supposedly crashed. I checked my pocket for the lock blade knife I had bought with my allowance prior to my last hunting trip with my father. I was no stranger to the country, having been brought along on numerous deer hunts since I was old enough to walk. But in spite of my self-proclaimed exploration expertise and my determination to expose the mystery locked away in Motor Valley, my heartbeat hard against my ribs. There was something about the place that seemed deceptive, maybe even evil, which I had not encountered in any of my previous rural expeditions.
Crisscrossing the area, we began to look for any signs of…well, whatever signs there might be of a flying saucer crash. But the undergrowth was thick and I soon realized that there would be little hope of finding anything without knowledge of the exact impact location. We wandered on though, scanning for burnt trees or any other peculiar markings.
After about thirty minutes, Dan signaled me over to a dense clump of trees where he had spotted something.
“Check this out,” he said, directing my vision past the branches to a dilapidated shack standing in a clearing twenty-five yards away. It wasn’t a UFO, but at least it was something other than trees and rocks. Dan looked openly disturbed by the possibility of who – or what – might be making it a home.
“I wonder if anyone lives there? I don’t see any cars,” I remarked.
“I thought I saw something move by that window,” Dan said solemnly.
I looked at the filmy window. “I don’t know how you could have, look how dirty it is.”
“Yeah, maybe I was seeing things. I think we better get out of here. Search back over closer to the bridge.”
“Let’s not worry about it,” I retorted, trying to look at the situation logically. “If anybody does live there, they’ll probably be real old and we could always outrun ‘em.”
Dan nodded, but I could tell he wasn’t wholeheartedly backing me on the decision.
“Let’s go this…” I began as I heard the sound of a stick crack behind us. I spun around.
Just feet from us stood a man. He looked old, but his unkempt appearance made an accurate guess at his age impossible. His hair was a brownish-gray and poked out from his head like wild grass, framing a dirty unshaven face. A demented smile revealed several missing teeth from the brown rotted mess inside his mouth. He was scratching himself through a convenient hole in his ratty overalls with a handful of long, curling nails as he leered at us.
We started to bolt.
“Hold on youngins! You boys caint just come pokin round out here without talkin to ol Licky.”
The man made a scrunching gesture with his face, which looked like the epileptic wink of a madman. We halted our retreat.
I fished for something good to say. “My dad’s looking for some firewood right back there,” I said, pointing in no particular direction. “We were just looking around.”
“You caint fool ol Licky. I knows yer out here by yerselves. If yer dad was around ya wooden look sa scared,” he said, this time fully protruding his tongue and circling it around his lips in a nervous motion.
“Really, sir…” Dan began.
But the old man cut him off. “My feelins might get hurt if ya keep lyin boy.”
“We’re sorry, but we have to get back home soon,” I added as if I were quoting from the repertoire of Wally Cleaver.
“Not bafore ya come on in and have a drink with Licky. I wanna show ya somethin.”
He began to walk towards us.
Now to this day, I can’t tell you why we went into that weirdo’s shack, but I guess we feared more what would happen if we didn’t follow his wishes than what would happen if we did. Maybe I had more faith in my knife than I should have. Regardless, I kept my eyes on the old man as he led us into the leaning gray shanty.
“You boys like co-colas?” he asked as we followed him inside.
“Uh, yeah,” I said, knowing full well that Dan was a strict 7-Up drinker, but under the circumstances figuring it wouldn’t matter.
The first thing that struck us sour about the inside of the shack was the smell. Worse than the smell of Licky himself, it was like the musty smell of an old house exponentially worsened until it reached near organic putrefaction. A snail of nausea slinked across my gut as the first thick waft of stench rolled into my lungs.
The cramped single room of the shanty was as rotted on the inside as it was on the outside. The exposed boards of the ceiling were completely gray and covered with cobwebs. An old rickety cot was shoved into one corner, a brownish stain covering its sagging middle. Over at the opposite end was a broken-down stove, resembling a leper with its rust-eaten porcelain finish. A tattered beige couch sat rotting against the long wall, almost hidden by countless piles of old water-stained magazines. They looked mostly like Playboys and Hustlers as far as I could tell. To our right sat a dusty old wooden crate. It looked to me like a coffin used back in the 1800’s. A fat rat sniffed around its base.
But the most shocking aspect of the shack was the wallpaper. Old pin-up style nudie pictures had been cut from countless magazines and stuck to every visible inch of wall. Superimposed on top of this layer were random pictures of goats and other wild beasts, taken from magazines I was not familiar with. They were all faded by the damp and rotting conditions. I had seen plenty of naked pictures in my grandfather’s garage so I wasn’t too shocked. But Dan’s religious background didn’t seem to be mixing well with the mass of nude women and goats.
“You boys wouldn’t be lookin fer a UFO would ya?” Licky asked as he began digging in a dirty box near the stove.
I peeled my eyes from a cherry-nippled blonde. “Why would you think that?” I asked.
“I’ve caught plenty a curious peoples diggin around here like moles. They think they’s gonna find some kinda alien body.”
“Why would they think that?” I asked dumbly.
“A smart boy like you sure ta know about the UFO crash over here,” Licky said pulling out two dusty bottles from the box. “Why else ya be out here nosin round?”
“Well, we’ve heard about it I guess, but I didn’t know about alien bodies.”
“These are good co-colas,” he said popping the caps off the dirty Coke bottles with his teeth and handing one each to Dan and me as he made another 360 around his chops with his tongue.
I discreetly knocked a dirt dauber’s nest off the side of my bottle and took a drink. Actually, I let the liquid touch my lips making it appear that I had taken a drink, not letting any of it slip into my mouth. Dan did the same.
“Howdoya like ol Licky’s place? You boys got names?”
“Uh, Jim,” I said making one up.
Dan delivered one too. “And Horace.”
Under any other circumstance, I would have busted out laughing. But the unsettling atmosphere suppressed any such reactions.
“I used ta have a granddaddy name, Horace. Loved him to death that ol bugger. Silly as a whistle though. Cut his own arm off one night thinkin it was a rattler.” The old man laughed loudly and moved his arm around like it was a snake.
I glanced back at the door. I felt better knowing that we stood closer to the door than Licky. I noticed Dan still staring queasily at the exotic wallpaper with a clash of curiosity and horror as if he were looking at a car wreck.
“Did you see the UFO crash?” I asked, trying to conceal my nervousness.
“Well not exactly. I come here after that.”
“You’re looking for the UFO too?”
“No, them rangers hauled that off. I’s waitin for somethin. A horn.”
With that, my heart went flatline. The thing in my pocket was in some way connected to the old man. I began to realize that maybe what Wayne Warren had said about finding some flying saucer parts may have been true.
“You ain’t happen ta see a horn out there have ya?” he said moving to the wooden crate.
“Was it a real UFO from outer space?” Dan finally kicked in.
“Yep. From a planet so far away that them stupid scientists ain’t seen it yet.”
“You never answered bout that horn,” his twang suddenly growing menacing.
Our faces began to flush.
“You little clever dickins know somethin, don’t ya?” He ran his hand across the crate like he was caressing the skin of a lover.
“What horn?”
“Fess up boy. If you got the horn, ya cain’t resist it. I knows cuz I found the other one when I worked fer the sheriff’s office and we was out here cleanin up after the crash. I found somethin else too that the rest of em never saw.”
Fear finally slapped my common sense. I pulled the clear horn thing out of my pocket. “I got this trick or treating,” I said as I threw it to the floor behind Licky and bolted for the door. Dan turned to follow, but a deep bark stopped us mid-way. A large dog stood growling outside. We looked back at Licky fully expecting him to move in for the kill right then.
“Colossus! Simmer down!” he yelled gruffly. “He’s just a tad grumpy if ya know what I mean? Ya don’t gotta be scared of him or ol Licky. I like you boys,” he said picking up the horn.
“What do you want from us?!” I demanded.
“Now youngin don’t get all upset. You brung me this here horn that I been looking for.”
“Does that have something to do with the UFO?” I asked, trying to calm down.
“Where’d ya get it?”
“From some guy dressed up like the devil on Halloween.”
“Heh heh! I knew it!” he said with a lick. “I knew it’d find its way back here one way or another. Dressed like the devil…goddamn!”
He seemed excited by the fact that Wayne had been dressed like Satan. I wasn’t sure what the connection was between him and this old man, or if there even was one, but somehow we had been transporting something very important.
“Does that belong to an alien?” Dan asked.
“Some folks might call him an alien,” he began, “but it really belongs to the devil. I’ve been keepin his body here since his spacecraft wrecked waitin for this other horn to turn up. Sometimes it takes the dickins for things to work out. But they always do! Now I can get the rewards I deserve!”
“The devil?” I asked skeptically.
Licky patted the wooden crate. “Yes sir, he’s in here.”
We were speechless.
“I bet you boys would like to see him, wouldn’t ya?”
I shook my head slowly as tears began to well in my eyes. Dan just stood frozen as if he were looking down upon Virgil’s nine rings of hell.
“Well here he is!” Licky yelled as he flung open the crate’s lid. Its old hinges screeched like dying animal.
Inside lay the body of a creature. It was a brownish red and shriveled like the corpse of a mummy. It had arms and legs and a human-shaped torso, but they were thin and wiry. Its pointed chin and bulbous forehead made it appear like a reddish version of the little gray aliens that people always claim to see. A set of pointed teeth were thrust forward from the retracted lips, opposing the huge sunken sockets in whose valleys rested closed eyes. I could smell the acrid odor of age filling the room as if the beast were centuries old, having soaked up the stench of death and decay for an eternity. We were repulsed, though neither Dan nor I could take our eyes from the entombed thing.
“Just like in the storybooks. ‘Cept he don’t come from no Hell, he’s from up there,” Licky said pointing to the sky. “Been coming here longer en you and I can figure!” he exclaimed. “Don’t cha like em?!”
That’s when I noticed the horn. The creature had one horn identical to the one I had been given. A jagged hole at the other side of his head made it apparent that he had once possessed two.
“At last, I can raise him again! I’ll be made a prince of the sky when he sees what ol Licky’s done fer em!” the old man said, drooling a line of spit onto the creature’s chest as he began to fit the missing horn back in place.
The dog outside barked and we remained trapped between two rapidly off-balancing evils.
Licky laughed as the component finally clicked into place. A faint whir became audible from the coffin as he pulled back.
“Look close boys, ya brung back ol Nick!”
The thing began to move, not mechanically like a robot as I would have thought, but more like an organic being that had been sleeping for a long time. It sat upright as the eyes began to open. Their dark menisci looked like black mirrors as they focused on our white faces. Its skin became more supple and its lips rolled back down over his teeth. The thing smiled a grin that was beyond pure evil, that seemed to crawl through my eyes, down my throat, and squeeze the bloody pulp of my heart like a constrictor. But I resisted and so did Dan. Breaking our gaze, we ran for the door as the beast jumped from the crate.
I had been used somehow to bring the horn back to the creature. It seemed to explain my complete lack of good judgment when we followed Licky into the shack. I had been possessed by something much the way Wayne Warren had been, dressing up like the devil, probably unknowingly waiting for some adventurous kid to take the horn from him like the wind carries a seed to its final destination, where it could root and produce seed of its own.
“Ain’t you a beaut!” Licky cried.
The devil responded with a snap of his clawed hand. Blood splattered the nude-papered wall as the old man chortled and fell to the ground, callously beheaded despite his service.
“Shit!” I screamed as Dan and I burst through the door and tripped over the dog. We both hit the ground, along with the dog, in a whirlwind of confusion and gnashing teeth. I felt a few bites hit my arms, but when the devil crashed through the door the dog yelped and darted into the trees.
The creature smiled again and looked at us. It was one of those split seconds between reactions when the mind and body are trying to get into sync when the true perspective of time is lost. For a few endless seconds, the foul beast stood above us and before we could pull ourselves up to run, he turned and headed into the woods. He spun his neck around to look at us one more time as he blended into the countryside and disappeared.
Dan and I ran in the opposite direction, back toward our bikes. We said nothing as we careened through the branches and undergrowth gouging at us with fingery thorns as if it were reluctant to let us leave. It wasn’t until we had pedaled all the way back to Motor Valley Road that I finally broke the silence and confronted the reality of what had taken place.
“Do you think it was the devil?!”
Dan, terror etched into his face, shook his head. “If it was an alien and there’s more of them…”
He began to cry.
I could feel my hands trembling on the handle grips. The reality of aliens and devils or something that was both was too much for my young mind. “We can’t tell anyone,” I said.
“I don’t ever want to talk about it again.”
“We won’t.”
“Never,” was the last clear word I heard before he fell into a repetitive mumble.
If it was the devil, alien or otherwise, and we were responsible for bringing him to life… I grappled with the thought. The thought that has slowly wrested the life from me over the years like a patient serpent subduing its prey. The same thought that was responsible for the phone call I just received.
I gently sat the telephone receiver back into the cradle. It had been Dan’s sister on the line. He was found dead in his car that morning. He had been missing for weeks. She asked me if I had any idea why he would have driven out to a remote spot in Motor Valley and put a gun to his head.
I told her I didn’t know.
submitted by pp_big69 to creepypasta [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 22:35 Hot_Introduction_100 21 [M4F] Anywhere - Avid gamer, movie lover, "philosophist", introvert, car enthusiast, BMTH fan, really open minded, positive vibes, dreamer, ambitious, geek, 3D artist, lonely, single looking for a best friend (open to more!) to talk to daily! Wall of text!

VERY long post I'd be really happy if you'd read it all!
Hello there!
Alt or alt-ish girls and those who can reply to my greeting (it's a Star Wars reference) to my greeting instantly jump to the top of the line! If you are both I'll delete my post and talk to only you until the end of my life. Who am I kidding, there won't be any line, I'll be happy if even a single person read it all the way to the bottom.
Okay, let's get serious I'm not a funny guy anyway, I mean I love (dank) memes and every kind of humour (the darker the better) but I can't make good jokes even if my life would be depending on it.

Who am I and who am I looking for?

Me:
You:
I admit that I never had a girlfriend though this doesn't mean that I'm a horny virgin, I won't ask for your nudes and won't send you dick pics I swear! I mean we can talk about sex/sexuality or anything if you'd like, I'm open to most kinks, however getting off is not the point of this post and we are not going to talk about anything you don't want to.
I'm not specifically looking for a girlfriend but if we both feel something I'm open to anything. It doesn't matter if you live far away I've always wanted to move abroad anyway. Before anyone misunderstand me I don't want to use you or just marry you or something to get a visa lol However sadly I have a flaw, physical attraction is really important to me so keep that in mind. I don't have much preferences really, I don't care how big your boobs are just don't be chubby and have a cute face that's it. In general I like cute girls more. Of course if you are just looking for a friend it doesn't matter how you look like!
Hopefully I didn't sound like a complete asshole so let's continue.

My hobbies

Gaming:
I play on PC only, however I might buy a PS5 when it comes out. I play all kinds of games except a few. I'm not going to list popular story games since I like them all (AC, Witcher, Fallout, Metro, etc. I love every game with a good story) so some other games I like: Forza Horizon 4, F1 (I haven't bought the new one yet though), Assetto Corsa, Escape from Tarkov, Hearts of Iron 4, War Thunder, Fortnite (I'm utterly shit in fortnite I only like completing the BP and the ongoing story), SW Battlefront 2 and Minecraft just to name a few but I'm happy to play a lot of games! I also love mmorpgs, actually I'd like to start SWTOR sometime.
Games I don't want to play: any moba (so no LoL or Dota 2), csgo, Valorant (I've tried it it's nothing special imo), any CoD (just not my style), GTA V (let that game just die already), Overwatch and no offense really but please don't call yourself a gamer if you only play Animal Crossing. Absolutely no problems with Animal Crossing just please play something else too :)
I don't hate all competitive FPS though, R6 is pretty nice. Battle royale is getting kind of tedious though so I don't really want to start Apex or Warfare.
Please have a decent PC that can run most of the games! It's really sad when we can't play something because your PC can't handle it :(
It would be great if you'd like games as much as I do! E3 is one of the best thing in every year and I just love talking about games, their story, theories, etc.
Movies/TV shows
I love movies and TV show just as much as games! I love deep movies with a lot of meaning/things to think about! Two types I don't like is horror and idiot comedies. I mean I don't hate all horror movies, I love zombies, Alien and films like these but It, Annabelle and Saw is just not my cup of tea. I hate idiotic comedies they make nowadays (like Bad Moms, Dirty Grandpa). Comedies I like is Mr.Bean, Kingsman, Yes man, Knifes Out (it's not a full on comedy but I loved it), Johnny English and films like these.
My favourite ones: Star Wars, Interstellar, Blade Runner, Inception, The Shawshank Redemption, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Forrest Gump, Guardians of the Galaxy (probably the only Marvel film I like), Matrix, John Wick, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs (love Anthony Hopkins) just to name a few but there are so many more I could write another post as long as this just with movies!
I also love animated and Disney movies though! Inside Out, Zootropolis or Ralph (both ones but 1 was better) was perfect films!
TV Shows I watch: Westworld and The 100. That's it. Planning to start The Mandalorian and Witcher though. Maybe even Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Philosophy
I just like reading quotes from great philosophers or think about deeper things about life, aliens, etc. So we can talk about anything really, nothing is too deep for me! Maybe we'll even make some theories!
Cars
I love driving, their sound, their looks, everything. I have a soft spot for 90s Japanase cars, if I could ever buy Skyline R34 GT-R or a MK4 Supra I'd just die from a heartattack. I'm not even joking lol The only electronic car I like is Tesla, those things are accelerating like spaceships.
Music
I like a lot of genres, from jazz to metal to celtic music. There are some I can't stand though like mumble rap, mainstream pop music (it's not that I hate them, they are just boring) or really brutal deathmetal where you can't even understand the lyrics.
My absolute favorite brand is probably Bring me the Horizon (I'm pretty much listening to Parasite Eve all day). I won't list all artists here because there are A LOT. Seriously from Louis Armstrong, to AC/DC and Guns n' Roses, to 50 cent, to Russian hardbass, to Grimes and Eskimo Callboy. Include, you can't trust freedom, when it's not in your hands, if you've read this far!
We could share Spotify playlists! I'm too lazy to make playlists for myself though but I'd do one for you haha
Sports
Uhm not much to say here I don't do any sports. Honestly never liked them. I want to start working out sometime so I'm not some lazy fat bastard haha I like Formula 1 though but honestly I like playing it on PC more than watching. That Alpha Tauri livery is fucking perfect though.
Space
Anything about space and aliens. It's one of my biggest dreams to travel to an another planet.
History
I also love History if someone wants to talk about it. Especially the wars and politics, diplomacy and famous people but we can talk about the everyday life of the common man back then too!
Arts
I'm interested in all kind of arts!
And a lot more!

My personality

So I'm easy going and positive in general but also an introvert and kind of shy. Me being shy doesn't mean that I'll reply with one word and it also doesn't mean that I'm submissive. I always write long replies and I'd be happy if you'd do the same! The conversation won't go anywhere if someone just always says "Lol, That's nice, Okay" etc. I'm available to chat all day so you can message me anytime!
I'm going to be a 3D Artist, preferably at a game developer studio. I'm a beginner though so don't expect some masterpieces lol I'm working on my portfolio or doing tutorials nowadays.
I live with my family, dad and mom, no brothers or sisters, and my cat! I love my cat, you can get as many pictures of him as you'd like!
Speaking of pictures I'm not really comfortable sending pictures about my face for some time so keep that in mind. In return I don't ask for your selfie either. I also prefer text chat over voice chatting in games and just in general!
I can procrastinate a lot and I'm sometimes lazy and unmotivated but I'm trying to work on that. I never complain to my friends though, I try to be positive and optimist!
Apparently I'm a INFP-T personality however it's not completly true when I read the description. Probably I'm a mix of a few personalities.
Anyway I can talk about myself more in private if you are interested.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry for the long post but I hope you read it all the way down here and find something we have in common! Feel free to hit me up anytime! Reddit chat doesn't really want to work so use DMs.
No TLDR, seriously just read it. Read one sentence a day or something.
Please don't message me with one sentence like "Hi, how are you?", write something longer, introduce yourself (you don't have to write a message as long as me of course haha) and you know things like these.
If you get NSFW warning it's because I posted a few times on Dirtypenpals.
Thanks for your time and hoping to hear from ya!
submitted by Hot_Introduction_100 to r4r [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 11:58 neko5537 PLS HELP GURPS MAGIC & GAME MECHANICS NEED ADVICE

HI! I am working on writing a Harry Potter RPG campaign. I was recommended using GURPS bc it is more flexible with magic and it is skill based. I haven't played GURPS, only DnD, but I've read and watched enough to understand the basic concepts. Originally I had just been trying to homebrew HP for DnD, but I would have broken every rule in DnD, bc HP magic just doesn't fit into that box well.
- NGL this is going to be a long post, please bear with me. -
First I need to explain how magic works in Harry Potter. I'm including an outline of Topics I wish to convert for the RPG
EXAMPLES OF MAGIC IN HP
For this I'm going to quote an article from the HP Lexicon ( https://www.hp-lexicon.org/2001/08/01/spells-charms-the-nature-of-magic/ )
"Spells, at least some of them, behave like physical energy, with forces, counter forces, and vectors much like those seen in physical objects. A spell can be “deflected” and “rebound,” as Voldemort’s attempted Avada Kedavra against Harry in 1981 did (GF33). Two spells can collide like billiard balls: “Jets of light shot from both wands, hit each other in midair, and ricocheted off at angles—Harry’s hit Goyle in the face, and Malfoy’s hit Hermione” (GF18). The storm of Stunning Spells that the Ministry wizards send over Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s heads in the wood after the World Cup create a wind that ripples their hair (GF9). Making magic uses energy as well. “[H]is Patronus was too feeble to drive the Dementor away. All it did was hover, like a semi-transparent cloud, draining Harry of energy as he fought to keep it there” (PA12).
Likewise, there are certain basic elements of magic that are a matter of mechanics: pronouncing words correctly (otherwise, you might end up with a buffalo on your chest, (PS10), learning wrist movements (PS10), adding Potions ingredients in just the right proportions (PA7) and at the right times (PS8). A wand is necessary for most magic.
However, magic is far more than mechanics.
“But that was the easy part, I’m afraid. You see, the word alone is not enough.” —Professor Lupin (PA7)
The words are just one ingredient of a spell, and there is only so much magic one can learn from books. An intangible and crucial element of most spells is intention, which can even make words unnecessary. Some wand-spells seem not to require an incantation at all (e.g. Snape conjuring up ropes (PA19); the rope-ends then fly to him with a click of his fingers), though this may just be Rowling omitting the incantation because she’s tiring of coming up with a pithy quasi-Latin term every time someone waves a wand. “Accio” is enough to Summon whatever one is thinking of, without the noun; Molly Summons the Ton-Tongue Toffees (GF6) and Harry the Triwizard Cup (GF34) this way. For that matter, intention is key even when one does speak the noun; otherwise, “Accio Firebolt” would bring every Firebolt in the world that isn’t nailed down, but it doesn’t; it only brings the one Harry is thinking of, his own. (GF20)
Even charmed objects will respond more or less strongly depending on the intention of the wizard; Neville’s broom does not at first respond to “Up!” while Harry, who is a natural flier, is unafraid of heights, and has been “looking forward to learning to fly more than anything else,” gets an instantaneous response (PS9). Although Harry’s speculation that brooms, like horses, can sense fear may be tongue in cheek, it is true that Neville’s feelings do not match his words, and his intention to keep his feet on the ground appears to hamper his ability to command the broom. An ability to concentrate one’s mind under stress is therefore very important to making magic.
Another necessary element of many spells is, for lack of a more precise word, character. In some cases the personal element needed is some kind of experience, as with Harry’s struggles to find a memory that is happy enough to make the Patronus incantation effective, since it “will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory” (Lupin, PA12). In others it is personal qualities such as the independence and will power that enable Harry to resist the Imperius Curse. Less nobly, Harry is stubborn, which also stands him in good stead vis-a-vis Imperius. His inner voice balks at doing something as pointless as jumping onto the desk just on Moody’s say-so: “Stupid thing to do, really . . . . I don’t think I will, thanks” (GF15). Perhaps some spells require downright evil characteristics; for example, perhaps only those who can call upon an inner reserve of sadism can successfully cast the Cruciatus. The intricate interaction of magic and character is crucial to Rowling’s universe; she is writing about Harry’s development, not only into a practitioner of magic, but into adulthood, and his adventures are as much explorations of human experience and emotion and his own deepening character as magical exploits. Otherwise the books would not be nearly so enchanting."
This article outlines the basic mechanics of spell casting, being: Magic uses/is energy, Spells are the transmutation of magical energy, Casting spells requires one or more of the following, depending on type of spell: Intent, Focus, Actions(physical or verbal), Emotional control/channeling, visualization, and output of your own magical energy.
SPELL CASTING
*notes and corrections I'd like to make to the article I've quoted above* : (1) A wand is a conduit. It not only allows one to cast magic, but in reality pulls that magic from their core easily. Like turning on a faucet, the wand pulls the magic from the user's well, and allows it to flow freely. This makes casting powerful spells easier to cast, and normal spells take no effort on the user's part once learned. Basically by using a wand you would lower or eliminate - Fatigue Points taken. Of course if you cast a spell far beyond your difficulty, or cast quick fire back to back spells excessively, *such as after an intense fight, or rigorous dueling practice* You will feel tired, and need to recover, but it won't be extreme. You must really overwork yourself, be hit with a core draining curse, or get attacked by a dementor to experience critical magical fatigue. (2) Nonverbal magic. Nonverbal magic still requires a wand movement, but essential is little different from verbal casting. Most adults can perform a certain degree of non verbal spells, and it is required to pass N.E.W.T.S. (3) Wandless magic. Wandless magic is similar to accidental magic, in that it is fueled by emotions, desire, and intent. Most children never learn to control their wandless magic, and end up relying on wands to cast everything. Unlike a wand, to cast wandlessly you must focus and feel the connection to your magic yourself. A wand disconnects the caster from his magic, and does the work for him. Wandless magic is wild magic, it's not crafted through spells or words, (though you can wandlessly cast a spell with the same verbal effect. \Wandless lumos, crucio, incendio ect*).* Wandless magic calls your magic out to you, and works with you in a tangible and raw way, because of this it takes a much larger amount of energy to cast. Casting a wandless spell will cost you fatigue points more rapidly then and if you use a wand which cost little to nothing. However there are advantages to wandless casting depending on your power, and how much you practice it can become easier to cast, and it is dead useful for doing things like defending yourself if your wand is taken, casting spells you don't want traced back to your wand, and getting around the ministry underage trace (as they only cast the trace on your wand, or allegedly, also residence in muggle areas)
MAGICAL CORES, AND THEORY
This section is going to be diving into theory, and there is canon divergence. The idea of Magical Core Theory came from when fans noticed Mr. Bartemius Crouch Senior was described by Sirius Black as “powerfully magical” in Goblet of Fire (GF27), and have speculated whether some wizards are born intrinsically more powerful than others. This also makes more sense when you look at people like Tom Riddle, who Dumbledore states his powers were incredibly “well-developed” at age eleven (HBP13). This has led to questions such as: Where does magic come from? What makes a person Magical? And, what makes a wizard powerful?
Magical Core Theory - Is the idea that states all magical beings are born with an innate magical core, that grows and becomes more powerful as they age. It states that cores can very, squibs being the state of a core that never got to develop properly and grow like normally during childhood. Likewise it is possible to be born with a larger core, or a core that's growth is more rapid than others. There are theories about how having an abnormally large core, while making one more powerful, may become violent and uncontrollable for a child, and their mind and physical body haven't grown to compensate for it yet. A lot of ideas of magical cores can relate to similar ideas of brain growth and development. The idea that they will grow the most quickly and powerfully during childhood and adolescence, then slow as you get older, and wizards can indeed get much, much older allowing for their cores to continue to grow even more, The most common idea about magical cores, though, is that they are, and act as your magical reserve. They are you, your innate magic, your soul, your essence if you will. They are what allow you to do spell casting magic, and may even give you affinities for certain types of magic.
A core can be light, dark, or grey. Which means you have an affinity for either light or dark magic Different types of magic unique casting requirements of their own, like will power, emotion, and intent. Most simple spells like leviosa are grey and easy to cast. Grey or Neutral magic make up most basic spells and are easy to cast by just knowing the spell, incantation well enough and putting forth your intent. Light magic like a Patronus, and Dark magic like Curcio both rely on emotions and use more magical energy to cast. Which is why children can't cast them, and their magical cores are not fully developed. Though like I said before it is possible to be born with an abnormally large or small core. PC will probably roll for this. If you roll extremely dark or light, you may have difficulty casting opposite spells. So if I roll 3 for light, and 18 is dark. I would have disadvantaged on all dark spells I try to cast. If you roll anywhere in the middle you'll probably be able to cast both, which is again most people. Dark creatures may have a natural affinity for that type of magic. Like if you're a vampire, no matter what you roll you get a +1 towards dark. Personally Dark and Light are just 2 branches of magic. While dark can feed off difficult angered, sad or mournful emotions, and often involves things like soul magic and necromancy, it's not inherently evil. Dark and light magic exist to balance each other out. Think of it as death and life, and rebirth. You can definitely be a dark wizard and be good, because it's intent and how you use your magic. Just as a light wizard could be evil, especially if they feel joy and happiness at hurting others, which are strong components of casting light magic. Light magic does not mean harmless, it just means you use intent and strong positive emotions to cast it. The memory of your Patronus could literally be you killing someone you hated, as long as it's your most happy memory. Just as perhaps with dark magic your fuel could be the love for someone you've lost, and using your pain to improve and do good. With both light & dark magic you must truly feel them, and have strong resolve and intent to cast. This usually makes them more difficult to cast.
RITUAL MAGIC
This is where we start to get a lot further from canon, and there are not that many examples of ritual magic in cannon HP, other than the necromantic ritual Voldemort used to resurrect himself, and the creation of Horcruxes. There is enough evidence though to say ritual magic is a thing in Harry Potter. Especially with things like boodwards, and blood magic existing (covered more in Wards and Runes).
The basic idea of ritual magic is, unlike spell casting, It does not, or not only, not completely draw on your innate magic, but rather draws on the ambient magic in the world around you, or uses the magic of a sacrifice of another magical being. So rather than use your own magic, it takes magic from another source. This can be a strong magical location: The forbidden forest, ancient rune circles, an ancestral home, or burial ground ect. Rituals can also be performed with strong natural ambient magic that occurs at certain times of year: Winter & Summer Solstices,Yule and Midsummer(Litha), Spring & Fall Equinoxes, Ostara and Mabon, and Cross-quarter Days, Imbolc, Beltane/Walpurgisnacht, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. Magical flow follows the yearly cycle of Light and Dark through the sun, and the seasons. Yule is the longest night of the year, when dark magic is strongest. Litha is the longest day, and both provide power magic that can be harnessed by wizards in rituals. Beltane and Samhain is when the veil between worlds is thinnest. Beltane(May Day) connecting to the fae, and magical spirits, and Samhain(Halloween) connecting to the veil of death and souls. The last way to use ritual magic is through sacrifices. Blood or the magical energy of a being or creature. This type is often used in things like marriage, family bonds, and a way to magically tie people together. Type of sacrifice is necessary. Lily sacrificed her life for blood protection for Harry. Tom Riddle's horcrux was going to sacrifice Ginny for his own resurrection and freedom. Often sacrificial rituals call for equal return, a life for a life. This can make them risky, but also very powerful. The Horcrux calls for a soul for a soul. In order to sever your own soul, you must sever the soul of another. It is not simply murder. You must use the killing curse because it literally severs the soul from the body, and other ways won't be the same. The closest to this would be the kiss of a dementor, or gaze of a basilisk, which also severs the soul.
Often Rituals will consist of a combination of all these, the right time, the right place, and the rite itself. Not all sacrifices are as drastic as a life or a soul. Sometimes it's just feeding a bit of you magic back to the earth, or connecting your magic to each other. You can perform rites of passage for your magical affinity, if you so choose and declare as a light or dark wizard with magic as your testament. This would give you the ability to sense other light or dark wizards and feel their magic somewhat. There are many different types of rituals both light and dark, and because the magic from the world around them is very powerful and can affect great change, protection, bonds, curse, or connections. Rituals are probably one of the oldest and most powerful magiks. Performing Rituals may include a variety of things from: dancing, to writing runes, chanting words or incantations, swearing oaths, meditations, singing, lighting candles, giving offerings, making a sacrifice, casting certain spells within a circle, and much more. Rituals take: time, patience, magic, skill and knowledge to perform. Many are very difficult or dangerous. Heavy rituals drain FP if you try something drastic. Some lighter Rituals though like magic sharing or holiday celebration rituals might actually overload you with magical energy. Like a magical high, you might still be fatigued after as you come back to normal.
RUNES AND WARDS
Runes are symbols of the old runic alphabets used to hold enchantments far stronger then any simple spell. They can be carved to enchant objects, create wards, bind the magic of others, create bonds, and powerful spells in Rituals. They are the basis for understanding a lot of spell work and rituals. Wards generally have 2 types: Those cast by spells ( short term, control held by the caster). This usually happens when temporary wards are set up, or something like an anti-apparition hex is cast. The second type of wards, is Rune wards. These are typically carved into ward stones, and more impermanent. Protection wards are carved into the very foundation of Hogwarts, and many ancient and strong wards protect wizard's ancestral homes.
POTIONS
Potions basically work like bottled spells. Brewing a potion takes time, study, skill, practice and knowledge. It is not something that can easily be done, and you must have the right environment to brew. You have to be at the right skill to brew certain potions. Potions as a skill would be hard. However you can buy pre-brewed potions. In the case you have ready made potions, you could use them like spells. A blood replenishing potion might give you back Hit Points or something. Different Potions have different effects.
MAGICAL ITEMS
Magical Items vary in HP. You could theoretically have anything as mundane as a self writing quill to the Deathly Hallows, but magical Items would grant you certain abilities. Like flying a broom gives you speed, and you'd probably have to up reaction time as well. I'm trying to figure out a way to RP Quidditch games. Other Items may grant you abilities like the invisibility cloak.

FINALLY MY QUESTIONS:

I'm still figuring all this out. I know GURPS has magic as a skill, and Thaumatology which includes ritual magic. I'm wondering if they are compatible? Like could I have both Skill magic and ritual magic in the same campaign? The generic spell casting aspect of HP strikes me as a better fit for a skill based magic; but Potions, Runes, and Rituals are completely different. How would I best fit Harry Potter's magic, and my ideas into the GURPS system?
I also plan to homebrew all spells, potions, monsters, items and such over into the GURPS format. I've got all the info I need on the HP Wiki, but I'm confused on how to best implement that into the GURPS system and game. My biggest problem is the magic system, and how to work with what GURPS has, and what I want. (ANY SUGGESTIONS ON THIS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED)
But yeah any ideas of how I can work lore/magic in, any house rules I could make or use for this. I would just appreciate any advice from anyone who knows the system better than I do.
Rip. If you read this far.
submitted by neko5537 to rpg [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 11:51 neko5537 PLS HELP MAGIC & GAME MECHANICS NEED ADVICE


HI! I am working on writing a Harry Potter RPG campaign. I was recommended using GURPS bc it is more flexible with magic and it is skill based. I haven't played GURPS, only DnD, but I've read and watched enough to understand the basic concepts. Originally I had just been trying to homebrew HP for DnD, but I would have broken every rule in DnD, bc HP magic just doesn't fit into that box well.
- NGL this is going to be a long post, please bear with me. -
First I need to explain how magic works in Harry Potter. I'm including an outline of Topics I wish to convert for the RPG
EXAMPLES OF MAGIC IN HP
For this I'm going to quote an article from the HP Lexicon ( https://www.hp-lexicon.org/2001/08/01/spells-charms-the-nature-of-magic/ )
"Spells, at least some of them, behave like physical energy, with forces, counter forces, and vectors much like those seen in physical objects. A spell can be “deflected” and “rebound,” as Voldemort’s attempted Avada Kedavra against Harry in 1981 did (GF33). Two spells can collide like billiard balls: “Jets of light shot from both wands, hit each other in midair, and ricocheted off at angles—Harry’s hit Goyle in the face, and Malfoy’s hit Hermione” (GF18). The storm of Stunning Spells that the Ministry wizards send over Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s heads in the wood after the World Cup create a wind that ripples their hair (GF9). Making magic uses energy as well. “[H]is Patronus was too feeble to drive the Dementor away. All it did was hover, like a semi-transparent cloud, draining Harry of energy as he fought to keep it there” (PA12).
Likewise, there are certain basic elements of magic that are a matter of mechanics: pronouncing words correctly (otherwise, you might end up with a buffalo on your chest, (PS10), learning wrist movements (PS10), adding Potions ingredients in just the right proportions (PA7) and at the right times (PS8). A wand is necessary for most magic.
However, magic is far more than mechanics.
“But that was the easy part, I’m afraid. You see, the word alone is not enough.” —Professor Lupin (PA7)
The words are just one ingredient of a spell, and there is only so much magic one can learn from books. An intangible and crucial element of most spells is intention, which can even make words unnecessary. Some wand-spells seem not to require an incantation at all (e.g. Snape conjuring up ropes (PA19); the rope-ends then fly to him with a click of his fingers), though this may just be Rowling omitting the incantation because she’s tiring of coming up with a pithy quasi-Latin term every time someone waves a wand. “Accio” is enough to Summon whatever one is thinking of, without the noun; Molly Summons the Ton-Tongue Toffees (GF6) and Harry the Triwizard Cup (GF34) this way. For that matter, intention is key even when one does speak the noun; otherwise, “Accio Firebolt” would bring every Firebolt in the world that isn’t nailed down, but it doesn’t; it only brings the one Harry is thinking of, his own. (GF20)
Even charmed objects will respond more or less strongly depending on the intention of the wizard; Neville’s broom does not at first respond to “Up!” while Harry, who is a natural flier, is unafraid of heights, and has been “looking forward to learning to fly more than anything else,” gets an instantaneous response (PS9). Although Harry’s speculation that brooms, like horses, can sense fear may be tongue in cheek, it is true that Neville’s feelings do not match his words, and his intention to keep his feet on the ground appears to hamper his ability to command the broom. An ability to concentrate one’s mind under stress is therefore very important to making magic.
Another necessary element of many spells is, for lack of a more precise word, character. In some cases the personal element needed is some kind of experience, as with Harry’s struggles to find a memory that is happy enough to make the Patronus incantation effective, since it “will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory” (Lupin, PA12). In others it is personal qualities such as the independence and will power that enable Harry to resist the Imperius Curse. Less nobly, Harry is stubborn, which also stands him in good stead vis-a-vis Imperius. His inner voice balks at doing something as pointless as jumping onto the desk just on Moody’s say-so: “Stupid thing to do, really . . . . I don’t think I will, thanks” (GF15). Perhaps some spells require downright evil characteristics; for example, perhaps only those who can call upon an inner reserve of sadism can successfully cast the Cruciatus. The intricate interaction of magic and character is crucial to Rowling’s universe; she is writing about Harry’s development, not only into a practitioner of magic, but into adulthood, and his adventures are as much explorations of human experience and emotion and his own deepening character as magical exploits. Otherwise the books would not be nearly so enchanting."
This article outlines the basic mechanics of spell casting, being: Magic uses/is energy, Spells are the transmutation of magical energy, Casting spells requires one or more of the following, depending on type of spell: Intent, Focus, Actions(physical or verbal), Emotional control/channeling, visualization, and output of your own magical energy.
SPELL CASTING
*notes and corrections I'd like to make to the article I've quoted above* : (1) A wand is a conduit. It not only allows one to cast magic, but in reality pulls that magic from their core easily. Like turning on a faucet, the wand pulls the magic from the user's well, and allows it to flow freely. This makes casting powerful spells easier to cast, and normal spells take no effort on the user's part once learned. Basically by using a wand you would lower or eliminate - Fatigue Points taken. Of course if you cast a spell far beyond your difficulty, or cast quick fire back to back spells excessively, *such as after an intense fight, or rigorous dueling practice* You will feel tired, and need to recover, but it won't be extreme. You must really overwork yourself, be hit with a core draining curse, or get attacked by a dementor to experience critical magical fatigue. (2) Nonverbal magic. Nonverbal magic still requires a wand movement, but essential is little different from verbal casting. Most adults can perform a certain degree of non verbal spells, and it is required to pass N.E.W.T.S. (3) Wandless magic. Wandless magic is similar to accidental magic, in that it is fueled by emotions, desire, and intent. Most children never learn to control their wandless magic, and end up relying on wands to cast everything. Unlike a wand, to cast wandlessly you must focus and feel the connection to your magic yourself. A wand disconnects the caster from his magic, and does the work for him. Wandless magic is wild magic, it's not crafted through spells or words, (though you can wandlessly cast a spell with the same verbal effect. \Wandless lumos, crucio, incendio ect*).* Wandless magic calls your magic out to you, and works with you in a tangible and raw way, because of this it takes a much larger amount of energy to cast. Casting a wandless spell will cost you fatigue points more rapidly then and if you use a wand which cost little to nothing. However there are advantages to wandless casting depending on your power, and how much you practice it can become easier to cast, and it is dead useful for doing things like defending yourself if your wand is taken, casting spells you don't want traced back to your wand, and getting around the ministry underage trace (as they only cast the trace on your wand, or allegedly, also residence in muggle areas)
MAGICAL CORES, AND THEORY
This section is going to be diving into theory, and there is canon divergence. The idea of Magical Core Theory came from when fans noticed Mr. Bartemius Crouch Senior was described by Sirius Black as “powerfully magical” in Goblet of Fire (GF27), and have speculated whether some wizards are born intrinsically more powerful than others. This also makes more sense when you look at people like Tom Riddle, who Dumbledore states his powers were incredibly “well-developed” at age eleven (HBP13). This has led to questions such as: Where does magic come from? What makes a person Magical? And, what makes a wizard powerful?
Magical Core Theory - Is the idea that states all magical beings are born with an innate magical core, that grows and becomes more powerful as they age. It states that cores can very, squibs being the state of a core that never got to develop properly and grow like normally during childhood. Likewise it is possible to be born with a larger core, or a core that's growth is more rapid than others. There are theories about how having an abnormally large core, while making one more powerful, may become violent and uncontrollable for a child, and their mind and physical body haven't grown to compensate for it yet. A lot of ideas of magical cores can relate to similar ideas of brain growth and development. The idea that they will grow the most quickly and powerfully during childhood and adolescence, then slow as you get older, and wizards can indeed get much, much older allowing for their cores to continue to grow even more, The most common idea about magical cores, though, is that they are, and act as your magical reserve. They are you, your innate magic, your soul, your essence if you will. They are what allow you to do spell casting magic, and may even give you affinities for certain types of magic.
A core can be light, dark, or grey. Which means you have an affinity for either light or dark magic Different types of magic unique casting requirements of their own, like will power, emotion, and intent. Most simple spells like leviosa are grey and easy to cast. Grey or Neutral magic make up most basic spells and are easy to cast by just knowing the spell, incantation well enough and putting forth your intent. Light magic like a Patronus, and Dark magic like Curcio both rely on emotions and use more magical energy to cast. Which is why children can't cast them, and their magical cores are not fully developed. Though like I said before it is possible to be born with an abnormally large or small core. PC will probably roll for this. If you roll extremely dark or light, you may have difficulty casting opposite spells. So if I roll 3 for light, and 18 is dark. I would have disadvantaged on all dark spells I try to cast. If you roll anywhere in the middle you'll probably be able to cast both, which is again most people. Dark creatures may have a natural affinity for that type of magic. Like if you're a vampire, no matter what you roll you get a +1 towards dark. Personally Dark and Light are just 2 branches of magic. While dark can feed off difficult angered, sad or mournful emotions, and often involves things like soul magic and necromancy, it's not inherently evil. Dark and light magic exist to balance each other out. Think of it as death and life, and rebirth. You can definitely be a dark wizard and be good, because it's intent and how you use your magic. Just as a light wizard could be evil, especially if they feel joy and happiness at hurting others, which are strong components of casting light magic. Light magic does not mean harmless, it just means you use intent and strong positive emotions to cast it. The memory of your Patronus could literally be you killing someone you hated, as long as it's your most happy memory. Just as perhaps with dark magic your fuel could be the love for someone you've lost, and using your pain to improve and do good. With both light & dark magic you must truly feel them, and have strong resolve and intent to cast. This usually makes them more difficult to cast.
RITUAL MAGIC
This is where we start to get a lot further from canon, and there are not that many examples of ritual magic in cannon HP, other than the necromantic ritual Voldemort used to resurrect himself, and the creation of Horcruxes. There is enough evidence though to say ritual magic is a thing in Harry Potter. Especially with things like boodwards, and blood magic existing (covered more in Wards and Runes).
The basic idea of ritual magic is, unlike spell casting, It does not, or not only, not completely draw on your innate magic, but rather draws on the ambient magic in the world around you, or uses the magic of a sacrifice of another magical being. So rather than use your own magic, it takes magic from another source. This can be a strong magical location: The forbidden forest, ancient rune circles, an ancestral home, or burial ground ect. Rituals can also be performed with strong natural ambient magic that occurs at certain times of year: Winter & Summer Solstices,Yule and Midsummer(Litha), Spring & Fall Equinoxes, Ostara and Mabon, and Cross-quarter Days, Imbolc, Beltane/Walpurgisnacht, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. Magical flow follows the yearly cycle of Light and Dark through the sun, and the seasons. Yule is the longest night of the year, when dark magic is strongest. Litha is the longest day, and both provide power magic that can be harnessed by wizards in rituals. Beltane and Samhain is when the veil between worlds is thinnest. Beltane(May Day) connecting to the fae, and magical spirits, and Samhain(Halloween) connecting to the veil of death and souls. The last way to use ritual magic is through sacrifices. Blood or the magical energy of a being or creature. This type is often used in things like marriage, family bonds, and a way to magically tie people together. Type of sacrifice is necessary. Lily sacrificed her life for blood protection for Harry. Tom Riddle's horcrux was going to sacrifice Ginny for his own resurrection and freedom. Often sacrificial rituals call for equal return, a life for a life. This can make them risky, but also very powerful. The Horcrux calls for a soul for a soul. In order to sever your own soul, you must sever the soul of another. It is not simply murder. You must use the killing curse because it literally severs the soul from the body, and other ways won't be the same. The closest to this would be the kiss of a dementor, or gaze of a basilisk, which also severs the soul.
Often Rituals will consist of a combination of all these, the right time, the right place, and the rite itself. Not all sacrifices are as drastic as a life or a soul. Sometimes it's just feeding a bit of you magic back to the earth, or connecting your magic to each other. You can perform rites of passage for your magical affinity, if you so choose and declare as a light or dark wizard with magic as your testament. This would give you the ability to sense other light or dark wizards and feel their magic somewhat. There are many different types of rituals both light and dark, and because the magic from the world around them is very powerful and can affect great change, protection, bonds, curse, or connections. Rituals are probably one of the oldest and most powerful magiks. Performing Rituals may include a variety of things from: dancing, to writing runes, chanting words or incantations, swearing oaths, meditations, singing, lighting candles, giving offerings, making a sacrifice, casting certain spells within a circle, and much more. Rituals take: time, patience, magic, skill and knowledge to perform. Many are very difficult or dangerous. Heavy rituals drain FP if you try something drastic. Some lighter Rituals though like magic sharing or holiday celebration rituals might actually overload you with magical energy. Like a magical high, you might still be fatigued after as you come back to normal.
RUNES AND WARDS
Runes are symbols of the old runic alphabets used to hold enchantments far stronger then any simple spell. They can be carved to enchant objects, create wards, bind the magic of others, create bonds, and powerful spells in Rituals. They are the basis for understanding a lot of spell work and rituals. Wards generally have 2 types: Those cast by spells ( short term, control held by the caster). This usually happens when temporary wards are set up, or something like an anti-apparition hex is cast. The second type of wards, is Rune wards. These are typically carved into ward stones, and more impermanent. Protection wards are carved into the very foundation of Hogwarts, and many ancient and strong wards protect wizard's ancestral homes.
POTIONS
Potions basically work like bottled spells. Brewing a potion takes time, study, skill, practice and knowledge. It is not something that can easily be done, and you must have the right environment to brew. You have to be at the right skill to brew certain potions. Potions as a skill would be hard. However you can buy pre-brewed potions. In the case you have ready made potions, you could use them like spells. A blood replenishing potion might give you back Hit Points or something. Different Potions have different effects.
MAGICAL ITEMS
Magical Items vary in HP. You could theoretically have anything as mundane as a self writing quill to the Deathly Hallows, but magical Items would grant you certain abilities. Like flying a broom gives you speed, and you'd probably have to up reaction time as well. I'm trying to figure out a way to RP Quidditch games. Other Items may grant you abilities like the invisibility cloak.

FINALLY MY QUESTIONS:

I'm still figuring all this out. I know GURPS has magic as a skill, and Thaumatology which includes ritual magic. I'm wondering if they are compatible? Like could I have both Skill magic and ritual magic in the same campaign? The generic spell casting aspect of HP strikes me as a better fit for a skill based magic; but Potions, Runes, and Rituals are completely different. How would I best fit Harry Potter's magic, and my ideas into the GURPS system?
I also plan to homebrew all spells, potions, monsters, items and such over into the GURPS format. I've got all the info I need on the HP Wiki, but I'm confused on how to best implement that into the GURPS system and game. My biggest problem is the magic system, and how to work with what GURPS has, and what I want. (ANY SUGGESTIONS ON THIS WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED)
But yeah any ideas of how I can work lore/magic in, any house rules I could make or use for this. I would just appreciate any advice from anyone who knows the system better than I do.
Rip. If you read this far.
submitted by neko5537 to gurps [link] [comments]


2020.07.09 11:16 IllyrioMoParties [spoilers extended] "Someone always tells" - but who told Stannis and Jon Arryn? Two or three theories (with bonus theory)

This is a bit of a fucking mess tbh, my apologies to anyone trying to wade through it
It's the mystery behind one of the central mysteries of the story: how did Stannis and Jon Arryn come to find out that Cersei's children were bastards, and Jaime's bastards at that?
THE BLACKMAIL THEORY
Please make sure your tinfoil chinstraps are fastened securely, etc
This has precious little textual foundation, but I like it well enough anyway. The notion is simply that Littlefinger and/or Tywin knew about it, and were blackmailing Robert.
The Lannisters are overreaching themselves in early AGOT:
"There is no limit to Lannister pride or Lannister ambition," Catelyn said.
-- AGOT, Catelyn III
A very ambitious family, Ned thought. He had nothing against the squires, but it troubled him to see Robert surrounded by the queen's kin, waking and sleeping. The Lannister appetite for offices and honors seemed to know no bounds.
-- AGOT, Eddard VII
And they're doing it without any objection from Robert - even, seemingly, with his connivance:
The king groaned. "For the last time, I will not name the Arryn boy Warden. I know the boy is your nephew, but with Targaryens climbing in bed with Dothraki, I would be mad to rest one quarter of the realm on the shoulders of a sickly child."
Ned was ready for that. "Yet we still must have a Warden of the East. If Robert Arryn will not do, name one of your brothers. Stannis proved himself at the siege of Storm's End, surely."
He let the name hang there for a moment. The king frowned and said nothing. He looked uncomfortable.
"That is," Ned finished quietly, watching, "unless you have already promised the honor to another."
For a moment Robert had the grace to look startled. Just as quickly, the look became annoyance. "What if I have?"
"It's Jaime Lannister, is it not?"
Robert kicked his horse back into motion and started down the ridge toward the barrows. Ned kept pace with him. The king rode on, eyes straight ahead. "Yes," he said at last. A single hard word to end the matter.
"Kingslayer," Ned said. The rumors were true, then. He rode on dangerous ground now, he knew. "An able and courageous man, no doubt," he said carefully, "but his father is Warden of the West, Robert. In time Ser Jaime will succeed to that honor. No one man should hold both East and West." He left unsaid his real concern; that the appointment would put half the armies of the realm into the hands of Lannisters.
"I will fight that battle when the enemy appears on the field," the king said stubbornly. "At the moment, Lord Tywin looms eternal as Casterly Rock, so I doubt that Jaime will be succeeding anytime soon. Don't vex me about this, Ned, the stone has been set."
-- AGOT, Eddard II
Robert knocks back a perfectly reasonable suggestion of Ned's to put half the realm's power into the hands of one family. Note that Ned is "ready for" what Robert says, and is "watching" Robert's reaction, because he wants to see if "the rumours were true". In other words: Jaime's appointment to Warden of the East is the sort of thing that raises serious eyebrows, and might cause Robert's supporters to delicately try to figure out what the bloody hell's going on.
Meanwhile, note that Lord Tywin looms eternal - you could read that to suggest that Lord Tywin is the problem to be dealt with now - or to be suffered: yes, Jaime's appointment is a problem, but he can't do anything about it while Tywin's around.
(Minor wordplay alert: Tywin is compared to a rock, and "the stone has been set.")
"How does Lysa bear her grief?"
Robert's mouth gave a bitter twist. "Not well, in truth," he admitted. "I think losing Jon has driven the woman mad, Ned. She has taken the boy back to the Eyrie. Against my wishes. I had hoped to foster him with Tywin Lannister at Casterly Rock. Jon had no brothers, no other sons. Was I supposed to leave him to be raised by women?"
Ned would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin, but he left his doubts unspoken. Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word. "The wife has lost the husband," he said carefully. "Perhaps the mother feared to lose the son. The boy is very young."
"Six, and sickly, and Lord of the Eyrie, gods have mercy," the king swore. "Lord Tywin had never taken a ward before. Lysa ought to have been honored. The Lannisters are a great and noble House. She refused to even hear of it. Then she left in the dead of night, without so much as a by-your-leave. Cersei was furious." He sighed deeply. "The boy is my namesake, did you know that? Robert Arryn. I am sworn to protect him. How can I do that if his mother steals him away?"
"I will take him as ward, if you wish," Ned said. "Lysa should consent to that. She and Catelyn were close as girls, and she would be welcome here as well."
"A generous offer, my friend," the king said, "but too late. Lord Tywin has already given his consent. Fostering the boy elsewhere would be a grievous affront to him."
"I have more concern for my nephew's welfare than I do for Lannister pride," Ned declared.
"That is because you do not sleep with a Lannister." Robert laughed, the sound rattling among the tombs and bouncing from the vaulted ceiling. His smile was a flash of white teeth in the thicket of the huge black beard.
-- AGOT, Eddard I
Ned offers a reasonable compromise to Robert's problem, but again, Robert is very keen not to offend Tywin. And why should Tywin, who's never fostered anyone before, suddenly want to foster the child of the man who died investigating Tywin's children's incest? Hmm...
(Later, we overhear something from Cersei and Jaime:
"If she knew anything, she would have gone to Robert before she fled King's Landing."
"When he had already agreed to foster that weakling son of hers at Casterly Rock? I think not. She knew the boy's life would be hostage to her silence. She may grow bolder now that he's safe atop the Eyrie."
-- AGOT, Bran II
Robert "agreed" to foster Robert at Casterly Rock, but with whom, and why? It almost sounds like Cersei, or someone, had pushed him into it. Cersei explicitly considers the fostering as a hostage situation to keep Lysa quiet: is that what the scheme was concocted for, once Jon Arryn started poking around?)
Imagine you are Stannis or Jon Arryn, having these same arguments about Lannister influence with Robert. Might you start to wonder why Robert had, all of a sudden, started bending over for them? True, there's a long way between those inchoate suspicions and the investigation they eventually carried out, but still, that might have been the seed that started it all. (Not a very strong seed, but still...)
Alternatively, Stannis and Jon may have wondered the same thing about a different situation:
Slynt's neck was purpling. "Lies, all lies! A strong man makes enemies, Your Grace knows that, they whisper lies behind your back. Naught was ever proven, not a man came forward . . ."
"Two men who were prepared to come forward died suddenly on their rounds." Stannis narrowed his eyes. "Do not trifle with me, my lord. I saw the proof Jon Arryn laid before the small council. If I had been king you would have lost more than your office, I promise you, but Robert shrugged away your little lapses. 'They all steal,' I recall him saying. 'Better a thief we know than one we don't, the next man might be worse.' Lord Petyr's words in my brother's mouth, I'll warrant. Littlefinger had a nose for gold, and I'm certain he arranged matters so the crown profited as much from your corruption as you did yourself."
-- ASOS, Samwell V
Why on earth is Robert refusing to allow the Hand to punish a corrupt city copper? Slynt is totally replaceable in a feudal system. Someone with lands and bannermen is someone to fear; the son of a butcher is not. You might not agree, but this is the perspective of feudal lords. Incidentally, it's exactly why they underestimate Littlefinger - and yet, Stannis suspects that Littlefinger is behind this. He should find it curious that Robert is letting Littlefinger openly abet corruption. It's not even that Robert cares about the corruption, but that it costs him nothing to stamp it out, since the corrupt officials - Slynt, and perhaps Littlefinger - can be swapped out for some other talented commoner, or else their offices used to curry favour with some lord.
Stannis might start to get curious about this, and eventually find a few things out...
Just a thought.
THE RENLY THEORY
A problem with both of these theories is that they don't provide an ultimate answer. They're like ancient aliens theories, to which the answer is always: "Well, who taught them how to build pyramids?"
Similarly, if Stannis and Jon Arryn learned because they realised Tywin and/or Littlefinger knew, that doesn't explain how Tywin and/or Littlefinger knew.
This theory doesn't purport to explain how Renly knew either, but it at least does have the advantage that you can, I think, discard your tinfoil hat for it.
For the last few days I've been debating the tits off of what Renly knew and when he knew it, and what his plans were, and I think after thousands of words I can safely say that there is at this point no definitive answer. There are ways to make sense of Renly's actions without his knowing about the incest, and while his knowing about it provides, I think, a stronger foundation for his behaviour, it also opens up new cans of worms that aren't easily explained.
But, what we can say, I think, is that Cersei thought he probably knew. Varys tells Ned that Cersei planned to "deal with" Stannis and Renly:
"The queen would not have waited long [to kill Robert] in any case. Robert was becoming unruly, and she needed to be rid of him to free her hands to deal with his brothers."
-- AGOT, Eddard XV
And Varys was mostly right:
Jon Arryn put Robert Baratheon in her bed, and before he died he'd begun sniffing about her and Jaime as well. Eddard Stark took up right where Arryn had left off; his meddling had forced her to rid herself of Robert sooner than she would have liked, before she could deal with his pestilential brothers.
-- AFFC, Cersei I
Although Cersei actually wanted to kill Robert after she'd "dealt with" his brothers. It's left unsaid what she meant by "deal with", and I do think it curious that she should wish to deal with them before taking Robert out of the picture.
That said, I think a pretty strong case can be made that she meant to kill them. It runs thus: her children are bastards: if the truth comes out, they will inherit nothing, and the throne will pass to Stannis, and then Renly: if Stannis or Renly find out the truth, they have an obvious incentive to fight Joffrey's claim: it appears that Stannis and Jon Arryn knew, since they were openly investigating Robert's bastards together.
Somehow or other, anyway, Cersei knows that Jon Arryn knew:
"[Ned's] wife is Lady Arryn's sister. It's a wonder Lysa was not here to greet us with her accusations."
[...]
"You fret too much. Lysa Arryn is a frightened cow."
"That frightened cow shared Jon Arryn's bed."
"If she knew anything, she would have gone to Robert before she fled King's Landing."
"When he had already agreed to foster that weakling son of hers at Casterly Rock? I think not. She knew the boy's life would be hostage to her silence. She may grow bolder now that he's safe atop the Eyrie."
-- AGOT, Bran II
(Sidebar: how does Cersei know Jon Arryn knew? Did he confront her, same as Ned? Or am I forgetting something? What "accusations" is Cersei referring to?)
So we know why she wants to "deal with" Stannis: she has reason to think he knows the truth, and thus Joffrey et al will never be safe so long as he lives.
But clearly Stannis and Renly aren't on the same page, right? Stannis flees the city after Jon's death; Renly stays there, cracking jokes. Perhaps she just fears that Stannis would tell Renly - or perhaps she somehow knows that Renly knew in the first place.
And here we come to Varys's report to Tyrion, the only quote, so far as I know, that deals with precisely how Jon Arryn came to be suspicious: Stannis told him, and someone told Stannis:
"[Stannis] accuses my brother and sister of incest. I wonder how he came by that suspicion."
"Perhaps he read a book and looked at the color of a bastard's hair, as Ned Stark did, and Jon Arryn before him. Or perhaps someone whispered it in his ear." The eunuch's laugh was not his usual giggle, but deeper and more throaty.
"Someone like you, perchance?"
"Am I suspected? It was not me."
[...]
"If you were not this whisperer, who was?"
"Some traitor, doubtless." Varys tightened the cinch.
"Littlefinger?"
"I named no name."
-- ACOK, Tyrion III
Note a few things: the change in Varys's voice, which we usually take to indicate a greater degree of truthiness in his words; that Jon learned by reading a book, and looking at a bastard's hair, not by being told; that Varys, in the bit I left out, throws in the word copper when discussing the bastards's mothers (that's a bit of reach, I know); and finally that Varys tells us that whoever told Stannis was a traitor: consider who is, at this moment, known by Tyrion to be a traitor - quite a lot of people - and which of them might have known, and told Stannis.
Yes, Littlefinger fits the bill, but so does, say, Loras Tyrell, or Barristan Selmy, and so on. I just want to point out that Renly fits perfectly, and has perhaps the best access to Stannis, and might actually be believed by him, whereas Stannis may find Littlefinger suspicious.
So there's the idea: Renly finds out, and tells Stannis, for whatever reason, or at least arranges for him to find out. Stannis, knowing that Robert dislikes him, and that it will seem self-serving coming from him, and that a united front is needed for the inevitable conflict, attempts to persuade Jon Arryn. And note that this is a good explanation for why Stannis and Jon clomp around King's Landing openly investigating the matter, rather than entrusting it to secret agents: Stannis needs Jon to see the bastards with his own eyes, and perhaps to arrive at the conclusion on his own.
But what do you think?
FIRST ADDENDUM TO THE BLACKMAIL THEORY
I kind of glossed over it before, but the blackmail theory necessarily means that Robert already knows about the incest. With that in mind, it's interesting to read a certain exchange between him and Ned. (Note that Robert is drunk and depressed in this scene.)
"I told you to drink, not to argue. You made me king, you could at least have the courtesy to listen when I talk, damn you. Look at me, Ned. Look at what kinging has done to me. Gods, too fat for my armor, how did it ever come to this?"
"Robert …"
"Drink and stay quiet, the king is talking. I swear to you, I was never so alive as when I was winning this throne, or so dead as now that I've won it. And Cersei … I have Jon Arryn to thank for her. I had no wish to marry after Lyanna was taken from me, but Jon said the realm needed an heir. Cersei Lannister would be a good match, he told me, she would bind Lord Tywin to me should Viserys Targaryen ever try to win back his father's throne," The king shook his head. "I loved that old man, I swear it, but now I think he was a bigger fool than Moon Boy. Oh, Cersei is lovely to look at, truly, but cold … the way she guards her cunt, you'd think she had all the gold of Casterly Rock between her legs. Here, give me that beer if you won't drink it." He took the horn, upended it, belched, wiped his mouth. "I am sorry for your girl, Ned. Truly. About the wolf, I mean. My son was lying, I'd stake my soul on it. My son … you love your children, don't you?"
"With all my heart," Ned said.
"Let me tell you a secret, Ned. More than once, I have dreamed of giving up the crown. Take ship for the Free Cities with my horse and my hammer, spend my time warring and whoring, that's what I was made for. The sellsword king, how the singers would love me. You know what stops me? The thought of Joffrey on the throne, with Cersei standing behind him whispering in his ear. My son. How could I have made a son like that, Ned?"
"He's only a boy," Ned said awkwardly. He had small liking for Prince Joffrey, but he could hear the pain in Robert's voice. "Have you forgotten how wild you were at his age?"
"It would not trouble me if the boy was wild, Ned. You don't know him as I do." He sighed and shook his head. "Ah, perhaps you are right. Jon despaired of me often enough, yet I grew into a good king." Robert looked at Ned and scowled at his silence. "You might speak up and agree now, you know."
-- AGOT, Eddard VII
Could it be possible that Robert was on the cusp of confessing all to Ned, but drew back at the last moment? Was that the true secret he wished to tell?
I think it's interesting that GRRM reminds us of this exchange at the very moment Ned confronts Cersei:
"You love your children, do you not?"
Robert had asked him the very same question, the morning of the melee. He gave her the same answer. "With all my heart."
-- AGOT, Eddard XII
SECOND ADDENDUM TO THE BLACKMAIL THEORY
I actually do have theories how Tywin and Littlefinger may have come to know.
Cersei and Jaime weren't especially discreet, and it's possible that some Lannister guardsman may have seen them at some point, and told Tywin. Alternatively, since they've been at it their whole lives, he probably always knew. Their mother certainly did.
And Littlefinger?
The long quote above, when Robert drunkenly complains about his life to Ned: I left it long for a reason. He says all kinds of shit he shouldn't be saying, including that his wife never, or rarely, lets him fuck her.
Here's another quote:
"A dozen years," Ned said. "How is it that you have had no children by the king?"
She lifted her head, defiant. "Your Robert got me with child once," she said, her voice thick with contempt. "My brother found a woman to cleanse me. He never knew. If truth be told, I can scarcely bear for him to touch me, and I have not let him inside me for years. I know other ways to pleasure him, when he leaves his whores long enough to stagger up to my bedchamber. Whatever we do, the king is usually so drunk that he's forgotten it all by the next morning."
-- AGOT, Eddard XII
This woman Jaime found to cleanse her: how did they keep her quiet, and where did they find her? I'll tell you once place guaranteed to have an abortionist or two on call: a brothel.
Meanwhile, we have Robert drunkenly frequenting whores most of the time - and if he's as indiscreet around them as he is around Ned, maybe he tells them that he never fucks his wife - and maybe they tell their pimp...
BONUS THEORY
There are lots of good explanations adduced in-text for why Renly raced to fight Stannis at Storm's End, even outpacing his own supply lines: a lord can't abide an attack on his own seat; Renly is reckless; Renly's horse alone outnumbers Stannis 4-1. But here's another possibility: he wants to make sure Stannis doesn't get away with Edric Storm. If Stannis starts parading Robert's bastards around, people might start to believe him, and that'd be bad news for Renly.
So there.
submitted by IllyrioMoParties to asoiaf [link] [comments]


2020.07.08 22:25 Hot_Introduction_100 21 [M4F] Anywhere - Avid gamer, movie lover, "philosophist", introvert, car enthusiast, BMTH fan, really open minded, positive vibes, dreamer, ambitious, geek, 3D artist, lonely, single looking for a best friend (open to more!) to talk to daily! Wall of text!


VERY long post I'd be really happy if you'd read it all!
Hello there!
Alt or alt-ish girls and those who know the answer to my greeting instantly jump to the top of the line! If you are both I'll delete my post and talk to only you until the end of my life. Who am I kidding, there won't be any line, I'll be happy if even a single person read it all the way to the bottom.
Okay, let's get serious I'm not a funny guy anyway, I mean I love (dank) memes and every kind of humour (the darker the better) but I can't make good jokes even if my life would be depending on it.

Who am I and who am I looking for?

Me:
You:
I admit that I never had a girlfriend though this doesn't mean that I'm a horny virgin, I won't ask for your nudes and won't send you dick pics I swear! I mean we can talk about sex/sexuality or anything if you'd like, I'm open to most kinks, however getting off is not the point of this post and we are not going to talk about anything you don't want to.
I'm not specifically looking for a girlfriend but if we both feel something I'm open to anything. It doesn't matter if you live far away I've always wanted to move abroad anyway. Before anyone misunderstand me I don't want to use you or just marry you or something to get a visa lol However sadly I have a flaw, physical attraction is really important to me so keep that in mind. I don't have much preferences really, I don't care how big your boobs are just don't be chubby and have a cute face that's it. In general I like cute girls more. Of course if you are just looking for a friend it doesn't matter how you look like!
Hopefully I didn't sound like a complete asshole so let's continue.

My hobbies

Gaming:
I play on PC only, however I might buy a PS5 when it comes out. I play all kinds of games except a few. I'm not going to list popular story games since I like them all (AC, Witcher, Fallout, Metro, etc. I love every game with a good story) so some other games I like: Forza Horizon 4, F1 (I haven't bought the new one yet though), Assetto Corsa, Escape from Tarkov, Hearts of Iron 4, War Thunder, Fortnite (I'm utterly shit in fortnite I only like completing the BP and the ongoing story), SW Battlefront 2 and Minecraft just to name a few but I'm happy to play a lot of games! I also love mmorpgs, actually I'd like to start SWTOR sometime.
Games I don't want to play: any moba (so no LoL or Dota 2), csgo, Valorant (I've tried it it's nothing special imo), any CoD (just not my style), GTA V (let that game just die already), Overwatch and no offense really but please don't call yourself a gamer if you only play Animal Crossing. Absolutely no problems with Animal Crossing just please play something else too :)
I don't hate all competitive FPS though, R6 is pretty nice. Battle royale is getting kind of tedious though so I don't really want to start Apex or Warfare.
Please have a decent PC that can run most of the games! It's really sad when we can't play something because your PC can't handle it :(
It would be great if you'd like games as much as I do! E3 is one of the best thing in every year and I just love talking about games, their story, theories, etc.
Movies/TV shows
I love movies and TV show just as much as games! I love deep movies with a lot of meaning/things to think about! Two types I don't like is horror and idiot comedies. I mean I don't hate all horror movies, I love zombies, Alien and films like these but It, Annabelle and Saw is just not my cup of tea. I hate idiotic comedies they make nowadays (like Bad Moms, Dirty Grandpa). Comedies I like is Mr.Bean, Kingsman, Yes man, Knifes Out (it's not a full on comedy but I loved it), Johnny English and films like these.
My favourite ones: Star Wars, Interstellar, Blade Runner, Inception, The Shawshank Redemption, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Forrest Gump, Guardians of the Galaxy (probably the only Marvel film I like), Matrix, John Wick, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs (love Anthony Hopkins) just to name a few but there are so many more I could write another post as long as this just with movies!
I also love animated and Disney movies though! Inside Out, Zootropolis or Ralph (both ones but 1 was better) was perfect films!
TV Shows I watch: Westworld and The 100. That's it. Planning to start The Mandalorian and Witcher though. Maybe even Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Philosophy
I just like reading quotes from great philosophers or think about deeper things about life, aliens, etc. So we can talk about anything really, nothing is too deep for me! Maybe we'll even make some theories!
Cars
I love driving, their sound, their looks, everything. I have a soft spot for 90s Japanase cars, if I could ever buy Skyline R34 GT-R or a MK4 Supra I'd just die from a heartattack. I'm not even joking lol The only electronic car I like is Tesla, those things are accelerating like spaceships.
Music
I like a lot of genres, from jazz to metal to celtic music. There are some I can't stand though like mumble rap, mainstream pop music (it's not that I hate them, they are just boring) or really brutal deathmetal where you can't even understand the lyrics.
My absolute favorite brand is probably Bring me the Horizon (I'm pretty much listening to Parasite Eve all day). I won't list all artists here because there are A LOT. Seriously from Louis Armstrong, to AC/DC and Guns n' Roses, to 50 cent, to Russian hardbass, to Grimes and Eskimo Callboy. Include, you can't trust freedom, when it's not in your hands, if you've read this far!
We could share Spotify playlists! I'm too lazy to make playlists for myself though but I'd do one for you haha
Sports
Uhm not much to say here I don't do any sports. Honestly never liked them. I want to start working out sometime so I'm not some lazy fat bastard haha I like Formula 1 though but honestly I like playing it on PC more than watching. That Alpha Tauri livery is fucking perfect though.
Space
Anything about space and aliens. It's one of my biggest dreams to travel to an another planet.
History
I also love History if someone wants to talk about it. Especially the wars and politics, diplomacy and famous people but we can talk about the everyday life of the common man back then too!
Arts
I'm interested in all kind of arts!
And a lot more!

My personality

So I'm easy going and positive in general but also an introvert and kind of shy. Me being shy doesn't mean that I'll reply with one word and it also doesn't mean that I'm submissive. I always write long replies and I'd be happy if you'd do the same! The conversation won't go anywhere if someone just always says "Lol, That's nice, Okay" etc. I'm available to chat all day so you can message me anytime!
I'm going to be a 3D Artist, preferably at a game developer studio. I'm a beginner though so don't expect some masterpieces lol I'm working on my portfolio or doing tutorials nowadays.
I live with my family, dad and mom, no brothers or sisters, and my cat! I love my cat, you can get as many pictures of him as you'd like!
Speaking of pictures I'm not really comfortable sending pictures about my face for some time so keep that in mind. In return I don't ask for your selfie either. I also prefer text chat over voice chatting in games and just in general!
May the Force be with you, include this if you've made this far, it's almost over!
I can procrastinate a lot and I'm sometimes lazy and unmotivated but I'm trying to work on that. I never complain to my friends though, I try to be positive and optimist!
Apperently I'm a INFP-T personality however it's not completly true when I read the description. Probably I'm a mix of a few personalities.
Anyway I can talk about myself more in private if you are interested.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry for the long post but I hope you read it all the way down here and find something we have in common! Feel free to hit me up anytime! Reddit chat doesn't really want to work so use DMs.
Most of the people just scroll down immedietly for "passwords" so no passwords here! :)
No TLDR, seriously just read it. Read one sentence a day or something.
Please don't message me with one sentence like "Hi, how are you?", write something longer, introduce yourself (you don't have to write a message as long as me of course haha) and you know things like these.
If you get NSFW warning it's because I posted a few times on Dirtypenpals.
Thanks for your time and hoping to hear from ya!
submitted by Hot_Introduction_100 to r4r [link] [comments]


2020.07.08 05:22 TheWizarding A (Somewhat) Jungian Dissection of the 'Horror' Film

First kind of in-depth post on this Sub-Reddit that is about something external to Jordan, I think. However, Jordan has spokena bout 'true crime' before and serial killers, and the meta-narrative, and archetypes.
Let us see if I can get some thoughts together here. I put it in shudder quotes because I want to make clear that the horror genre isn't just being directly scared or seeing 'gore', it's way deeper than that. The horror film is about terror and psychology.
As the great Sir Christopher Lee put it (something along these lines), 'what you don't see is the terrifying part because your imagination creates more terror than you could ever see on screen.'
As a life-long fan of all horror and related genres since I was a child, and having seen most major horror films since the 1960s, I can tell you there are seven major elements to a real, good horror film, to my understanding (based on mixed readings, frameworks, and otherwise, such as Jungian psychology, Christian ethics, and Darwinism):
1)'Tell, don't show' (the opposite of typical drama/narrative, which is 'show, don't tell' and that is true, but not for horror). Of course, you must 'show', by definition -- just not completely. The narrative is key and also the build-up. This is in keeping with Lee's understanding of horror -- and the mind. The gravest mistake people make with horror films is they throw away Aristotle and the meta-narrative or 'story', classically speaking. That's wrong. In horror -- or terror -- the story is everything and it may be more important in horror than many other genres. Without the story or meta-story, the horror is shallow and short-sighted and meaningless. That's what makes Stephen King so good. Plot, plot, plot. And deep superstitions behind the curtain... within your Being...
Note: You can get some direct proof of this by comparing failed horror films and deeply successful ones, for example, Jeepers Creepers 3 failed because they showed you. That's all they did. The first two films told you, they didn't show you. That's why they worked. They haunted me when I was younger. I would be scared to the bone riding through the cornfields on my bike as a kid, with that bat from hell running through my mind -- running through the fields. Not that I ever truly knew what he looked like, not that he ever existed in reality -- and that's what made it terrifying and real, at least, in the mind.
2) The dream and in-between realms. Anything that is within the dream-state or in-between realms, such as IT (1990) or Nightmare on Elm Street or The Ring is perfection. This brings it into your mind and the 'primary world', as Tolkien put it, much more, and plays with your psychology and makes you scared to sleep at night and makes you scared to turn on the TV or answer the phone. The goal is to bring the secondary world into the primary world by tricking the brain and playing with your perceptions. This makes the process and reality internal, not external. It's no longer that you are watching it, rather, it is watching you. Genius and terrifying when done right.
Nightmares aren't the goal, terror is. They must haunt you. That's not the same thing. Anything can give you nightmares, that's easy, but haunting, true terror, now that's difficult and much more long-lasting. It's like... having a nightmare when you're awake. It's no joke. It can traumatise you if you're too young or not of the temperament. We know, for example, there are a number of cases of young girls and boys killing people because of horror films or games, or killing themselves, indeed. Like, don't be thinking that horror films are these external, harmless products of cinema -- they are not that, at all. They are reflections of the soul and products of the psyche. They speak of the 'id' and of Cain's rage and of Chaos itself. They are no bloody joke. Just ask a 6-year-old or Stephen King...
'I sleep with the lights on.' - Stephen King, 1982, University of Maine piece
Note: This is an in-depth interview and King speaks to the strange relationship between 'the scream' and 'laughter'. It's deeply worth watching for any horror fan.
3) Poltergeists, dolls, and demons/devils. Again, pure psychology here and also with roots in our biology. We are tricking the deep superstitions of the brain, along with many sub-components and the visual and recognition areas of the brain. Akin to why we are scared of the dark and why our imagination oft fills that darkness with terrors never felt before, but you know they are real; everybody knows monsters dwell in the Deep Unknown. It's all to twist your perceptions and force the secondary world into the primary world, and these entities do that perfectly. That's why everybody is fearful of creepy, self-controlling dolls. That is horror. Some good examples of this would be Poltergeist, Thirteen Ghosts, The Sixth Sense, and Dead Silence.
Note: You can see this in something like A.I., which isn't a horror film but a sci-fi piece which is a bit thriller-like because it has a creepy boy robot, that's like an ahuman doll (which we find unsettling). Great film and still creepy if you're young. That's how deep it goes. Play around with the human characteristics and behaviours and you have created horror. This seems to be related to the laughter part of the brain, too, which deals with novelty, pretty much. That's why, if it's done 'wrong', you laugh instead of giving a gasp. You don't want it to be funny, you want it to be inhuman and unsettling. Clowns and such have that strange twin-effect, right. That's the genius of IT, by blending all such elements into one. That's the point, IT is the totality of your nightmares and the personification of Chaos itself, as ever it's quite a deep, Christian underpinning which is common with King's grand works. And, you will notice that most great works of horroHell are Christian and often by Christian writers. Also, the 'Beast' ep. from Doctor Who (David's) is pretty good in this way. Very creepy and moving. Why? Because it's the Devil -- rather, the Devil within you. You also get a sense of this with the monotone and robotic chillness of HAL 9000 from Stanly Kubrick's 2001 (from Clarke's genius novel by the same name).
4) Archetypal pathology and agoraphobia. Now, this is the human element -- or rather, the personified Shadow aspect, in Jungian psychology, which is the 'dark element of Man'. Also, a common phobia and primal fear of the human species. In common terms, this is any film where you're trapped (house, coffin, lift, room, ship, car, etc.). And it's typically demonised in some manner, a bit like a 'super-villain' but in serail killer form. The pathology is, therefore, 'archetypal' because it's meta-human, it doesn't really exist within a single real human being in the real world, even if no 'supernatural' element is added, but is abstracted out to form a 'meta-killer'. A kind of demon-child of all the serial killers in the world. I would say if we were being technical about it, that this 'meta-killer' is even more real than a real serial killer for this very reason. You have to think that when you see a serial killer on screen, he's the collection of all darkness, sinners, and killers, whereas, the real man is but a piece of it, a slice. Some good examples of this would be Jeepers Creepers (of course, quite supernatural in this case), Saw 1, Saw 2, Identity, Hush, Misery, and Psycho. Also, The Boy is a good example of this, also fitting into the 'evil doll' theme.
Note: You get this sense very well and speaking to the 'laughter' element with The Joker from Batman, and the relationship between horror entities and laughter (that is, they laugh -- maniacally). This is called 'evil laughter'. I suppose it's the ultimate display of amorality and Chaos and nihilism. It's not that you are laughing at the cosmos or simply enjoy suffering, it's that you profoundly enjoy creating suffering and death and terror. No wonder we hate laughing, creepy, evil dolls, for example. No wonder they are very common in horror films. Of course, another common theme with respect to psychopathology and such -- and King knows this well -- is fire. Drawing on real psychology and real serial killers as much as possible is always a good idea and works very well.
5) Suspense, mythos, and the abstract. The 'mythos' element is the most overlooked but is at the core of horror. IT, Thirteen Ghosts, and Elm Street did this very well, and later, Saw. You are to create a mythology around the entity in question within the secondary world, as Elm Street did with the 'song' and as IT did with the history of Pennywise and the town, and as Thirteen Ghosts did with the history of the Ghosts. Hitchcock was, of course, a master of suspense and so is Wan. The 'abstract' adds a layer of confusion and unpredictability, and ties in with the 'dream-realm', as well. You see this a lot in the Elm Street series. Hush is a new one and quite genius, and it works because it pushes all of these elements to the very edge.
6) Demonisation, absorption, and hopelessness. Now, 'absorption' speaks to this further internalisation, where you either 'become the killer', so to speak, or he at least lives within you for a time. Typical horror flicks will only scare you until the end of the film, then you move on with your life and never think about it again. Real horror films don't do that at all. They stay with you. They have entered you, as it were. I spoke to this prior, to some degree. And it's really important to understand. Cube is a good example of this and Exam and Sunshine and Shutter Island. The first part speaks to 'dehumanisation' in a given manner and the matter of 'the doll'. The Ring does this well, and the Japanese are masters of this, in fact. I suppose you can either view it as either a 'lack of humanity' or 'too much Shadow Realm [dark side of being human]'. The West tends to be optimistic in its horror, whereas the Japanese are completely hopeless and pessimistic. The inference is that the horror never ends... the film never ends. Again, genius and scary as hell. The Ring, the Ring, the Ring. That's why I have extreme focus on the 'dream world'. It's hopeless. There is no hope at all when viewing these types of films. I'm used to fairly 'hopeful' horror films in the West, so Japanese stuff really does me in, but it's so great. Also, Hollywood has the problem of being very 'clean' and 'precise', which can be an issue.
No eyes or darkened eyes is a nice little trick to look out for. That will crush you instantly, man. As they say, 'the eyes are the windows to the soul'. So, when you have no eyes in some form (be it little girl or doll), this means it doesn't have a soul and it's no longer human but something else entirely. In reality, this is purely Darwinian. The human brain is built for vision, unlike most animals, and we can see remarkably well (we have one of the best sets of eyes of all animals), and that's how we see each other and operate in the world. I mean really see; treat, understand, love, and predict. Without eyes, or with 'demon eyes', as it were, you're empty and unpredictable. That gets you, the viewer, every time. Humans like predictability, more so in terms of negative valence (which is a psychological term which just means 'bad situation/object/feeling for the nervous system', like horror films). Interestingly, The Joker states this clearly in The Dark Knight, when he says something like, 'If I said I was going to kill 50 people tomorrow at five, nobody would bat an eye, but if I killed one person, randomly, everybody loses their minds.' That is dead right, in fact.
Note: In classical/Aristotelian terms, this would mean Western horrors are comedies (good ending) and Japanese horrors are tragedies (bad ending). Depending on what you are doing, you really want a tragic horror, not comedic. But, I like both and they have their places. For example, the good reason for a comedic horror is that the hero wins the day, in essence. This works best, ethically speaking and in terms of a meta-narrative, which is fundamentally pragmatic and existential (which is to say it is meant to teach you how to act and better yourself in the world). A real film is not mere entertainment, it's a meta-narrative and teaches you something about yourself like art does. That's the difference between art and propaganda. Art shows you who you are or could become -- freely -- whereas propaganda reinforces who you already believe yourself to be or forces you to become what it wants you to be (which is when the idea has you, right). Carl Jung wrote that 'people don't have ideas. Ideas have people.'
7) Sexual fantasy/fetishism and sadism'. This is the most complex and 'mixed' bag, I would say. I would put this down three roads, the first being Psycho, the second being Hush, and the third being Dracula. I think these three examples also make clear the different pathologies and motives at work, and what they infespeak to. Some other good examples would be Halloween, The House of Wax, and Friday the 13th.
In short: Horror films are not about 'gore' or 'jump scares', they are about true terror. It's the art of drowning your soul in itself. James Wan is quite the master of this, for example; further, some of these elements also play with 'good and evil' and force you to be involved in the process whilst also sticking to these elements, such as The Cabin in the Woods. It forces you to enjoy the horror and maybe you even have desires for it due to your bitterness and resentment and darkness, or maybe it shows your cowardice and weaknesses. Many things are at work with a great horror film. Saw does that, for example, and I think The Boy does it, as well. I will also say that Hellraiser and Event Horizon are quite great.
In theory, the greatest horror film would have all of these elements into one, or close to it. Notice how every single thing I wrote was pure psychological manipulation (not on my part, on their part). That is their job. Alas, the true terror is the realisation that you are the horror, you are the sinner, you are the Devil, you are the monster... now, that really can traumatise you and at any age.
P.S. sorry for any mistakes, I wrote this last night when I was very tired. And, as another remarked, yes, I left out films such as Alien and The Shining. I can't mention everything and I only pulled in what I thought were required for the arugment/points.
submitted by TheWizarding to JordanPeterson [link] [comments]


2020.07.08 04:49 iliketoomanysingers Reacting To Girl Defined's Deleted Video "8 reasons we aren't feminists" And Sewing My Last Nerve Back Together: A Commentary Post By Me. Warning: long.

Girl defined video re-uploaded to Youtube during March of this year but was originally published sometime around 2018, based on the times when other YouTuber's reaction videos were published. The video was re-uploaded by a wonderful soul who also has some of their other deleted content, too. Now, onward into my heavenly suffering.
Bethany quotes some lady named Erin Davis, saying "If feminism is simply the advocacy for woman's rights, based on the idea that we are equal to men, then I'm a believer. In truth, feminism is the radical idea that women are God, capable of being their own authorities"
No????? No, the fuck it isn't???? BRO oh my god quick confession: I used to be an edgy anti-feminist for, like, six to eight months a few years ago, you can probably find the edginess on my account here, but I was SO miserable the entire time. Thank God I came to my senses. At least mine was easily solvable, it was only based on teenage sadness and longing for identity and acceptance, but I NEVER thought this way about it. Yes, feminists believe that we should have our own authorities, but I ain't EVER seen one who thinks it's comparable to some type of Godly authority. not once, wtf.
Dumbass reason #1 "YOU become your own God"
"No matter how much you really airbrush feminism, no matter how good of a light you paint it in, at its core, it truly is a "religion" of sorts, its a worldview, its an ism, that is seeking to redefine womanhood on our own terms, we as woman say "We want when it comes to our sexuality, our identity, our beauty, our value, our worth, what we define in those areas is what we say, goes. Rather than saying hold up, what does God's word say?"
So, we've well established that Kristen isn't aware that ideology isn't always tied to spirituality or faith. cool cool cool. Always good to have more well-established evidence that she's a dumbass. Also, that proverbs 31 women, that Mary Magdelene lady, those two seem to be biblical characters you skip over when reading his word. hmmmmmmmmmm I wonder why.
Dumbass reason #2 Sexual liberation is praised.
"Believe it or not, tons of feminist women used to be totally opposed to pornography, they were like "that's objectifying women, we don't want that, we have standards, we have values, we want people to value our bodies" but nowadays, as you probably know that is not the case, there are so many modern feminists who are proudly posing topless, who are proudly posing naked for the camera, saying "yes throw off the morals, throw off the boundaries, the restraints, we wanna do what we wanna do, we will proudly show off our bodies". No more morals, no more boundaries.
Hey, Bethy girl? I've met several feminists who are deeply against porn, but for FAR better reasons than you are. The sex trafficking hiding in plain sight, the women who have been hurt in the industry, the outright abuse. You, on the other hand, are so sexually repressed that even seeing a tit would scare you. YOU are objectifying them yourself, by boiling it down to just them showing off their bodies being bad and how it's apparently morally bad even when they safely choose to do so. YOU are about shaming women, you don't give a shit about your own. Get fucked (but spare Dav).
Dumbass reason #3 Not all lives are valued. OH BOY LADS, GET READY.
"Women are the biggest proponents for life, and women's rights, and women's liberation, and all of these things, but the crazy thing about the feminist movement, and very few mainstream feminists would disagree with this, is that woman are all for abortion. Feminists are on the forefront of fighting for abortion, and Air quotes made by Kristen fighting for women"s right's, but that sad thing is that in fighting for women's rights, we are okay with killing the smalled women in our country, the smalled of women, fighting for abortion is basically saying, "if you fall under a certain age, then you're no longer worth anything, you're no longer valuable, we have the right to destroy you" and there are no rights for the smallest women in our country, and that is something we cannot stand behind"
Just to get it off my chest before I dive in: FUCK YOU.
babies before 22 weeks gestation is NOT fucking viable, I was born four fucking months early, even at that "viability" period I was basically on life support. A breathing tube, oxygen tube, heart surgery, whole bit. I also will be the first person to tell you that women should ABSOLUTELY have an abortion whenever she (or possibly a doctor) deem necessary.
Most abortions are performed before 13 weeks, a stillbirth ain't even technically a stillbirth until around 20wks. Most first trimester abortions are self-induced with medication, so essentially an intentional miscarriage. Late-term abortions are always a tragic happening involving a baby who was wanted and loved and might even already have a nursery and everything, and they happen to babies who won't even live long enough to get to their crib. Fuck y'all for spreading pro-"life" propaganda and twisting women's arms along with it.
Dumbass reason #4 Male leadership is despised.
"Let's just be honest, there aren't a whole lot of women these days who are coming alongside of men-" I bet she thinks about this again during sex with Dav "encouraging the leadership, championing them, saying "yes you can do this, you've got it" No when a man steps up and takes the lead, women these days really are offended by it, it's like a personal offense, like "why are you taking the lead, what you think I can't do it? let me take the lead. It's just so sad to see how woman are not encouraging male leadership, but rather squashing it"
I cannot fucking believe I stopped watching my Pluralsight courses for today to watch this shit oh my god. First off, the women in question often have to fight tooth and nail in professional industries to even nab a chance at a high-level position, and when they get there they don't need any men telling them what to do unless they directly ask them As for home life, in your culture, these are often the ladies who take care of the house, raise the kids, cook the food, do the laundry...the man does what? goes and doe a job like he's "supposed" to and doesn't contribute to the home life much at all in your ideal world. Fuck yeah, the wife should be considered the one in charge. She teaching and raising the babies and providing meals and making sure everything is in motion, he's hardly around.
That's my jaded point of view, at least. No disrespect to couples set up like that, FYI, it's just funny to me how the man is the "head" when the woman is doing all the work for the family as a whole.
dumbass reason #5 Women are told that we are better than men.
That's such a blatant lie, Lord grant me the strength to handle this unawareness. This post is already so long please wrap it up I beg of them.
"You know, we say it's a fight about equality, but when you listen to the voices of feminism, so many women aren't just saying "we wanna be equal with men" they're really saying "we're better than men, down with patriarchy, down with men, time for women to take over, women to reign, women to rule" that is the attitude you hear many women and so many bold feminists saying, in fact, we did a video interview once, and we asked girls questions about the differences between guys and girls, and across the board, every girl made a comment about "guys are stupid, guys are dumb, guys don't know anything" and it's just this attitude that it really permeates our culture and an attitude that we as women are told by feminism to embrace"
It's because men are dumb A lot of these girls (like myself) have to deal with men not knowing bodily anatomy, not knowing how to respect us, and how to treat us like decent human beings. Even the encounters I've had with one or two TERFS, although I don't like them, many of the do sadly associate men with unfortunate trauma of their past and I feel so, so bad for them. That shouldn't be a "feminists are all assholes' issue, it should be a "How can we help them not associate men internally with their trauma, while also acknowledging that men do have many privileged that we don't" or something like that.
Dumbasss reason #6 Homemaking isn't valued.
STOP LYING OOOHHHHH MY GOOOOOOOD.
"Believe it or not, but back in the day, people used to actually value homemaking, they used to actually highly value the role of a wife and the role of a mother, that whole role of homemaking, in being a wife and motherhood was upheld. But now these days it really is viewed as secondary and kind of like a lesser option, the real women, the better women, are out there pursuing their careers kind of like "eh, not too concerned about homemaking, being a wife, and motherhood, they might kind of do it but the real, valued and praised is pursuing a career that really is the most popular mindset of our culture today"
Idk about y'all but anyone who can stay at home with their kiddos and get chores and dinner done earns my respect but that's just me.
I wonder...do these types of people ever realize that you still do chores and the like even when you have a job? Like, yeah, she won't do the laundry until she gets home, but she still does it. She's still gonna come home and presumably cook a meal. The house can still be cleaned when she comes home, it's not gonna fly off the lot. You can still do "the duties" of womanhood and have a job. Hell, even if they homeschool younger children, there are ways to remotely work from home if it's more your role, while the kiddo does their school stuff. Do they think women with jobs come home to flies and mud in their living room or some shit?
Dumbass reason #7 Unique gender differences are ignored. Oh boy fellas, get ready, mentally prepare yourself for what this mess will be.
"We're honestly both really offended by this-" Oh, really??? couldn't tell "because God created men and women to be equally valuable but purposely different-" You're right I can't pee standing up "and when we look back at the book of Genesis, we see that God created a male and a female, two distinct genders, both equally valuable but purposefully different, with different strengths and different weaknesses. But what feminism is trying to do, they're saying that in order to be equal with men, in order to be equally valuable we need to erase all gender differences and pursue exactly the same things, we need to be the same in every way, we need careers and in our jobs, and our life pursuits and our actions, how we dress and how we look, so many ways feminism is really promoting this idea that in order to be equal with men, we need to be the same as men, but we find that highly offensive-" Oh god, really??? You don't say????? "Because God designed us to be women and it's a beautiful thing, and we need to get back to HIS design and embrace our unique and beautiful, feminine, differences"
Notice how they never explicitly said what his design is. NEVER. Funny as fuck how that works.
Dumbass reason #8 The Victim mentality is encouraged.
OOHH my God, well at least this video will all be over soon. Here we are, the final lap.
"Are there women who have been victims of male sin? Absolutely, and our hearts go out to them. But are all women victims? Absolutely not, but in our modern culture there is such a push that we as women are victims, just check out some of this" reading off her phone and using a slight mocking voice "Women can't go shirtless in public like men, we're victims of inequality, or, more men are breadwinners than women, we're victims of a patriarchal society, or, why should husbands be the leaders of their families? We're victims of female oppression" back to the usual condensation "You get the point, the list really does go on and on, and rather than turning to God's word, his truth, and biblical answers feminism really kinda subtly encourages us to take on this victim mentality"
Y'all???? They don't even elaborate on the supposed mentality???? Also, I have experience in this area, and I KNOW why they chose the arguments they did. They chose ones that didn't go in-depth nor make them stop and think for themselves. Know what turned me over to being able to consider myself a feminist after that good old 14/15-year-old self of mine tried to claim anything just to feel something? Having my beliefs challenged. OF COURSE, when you pick the shallow, not in-depth arguments, feminism can seem "silly" or "stupid". OF COURSE, when you only go after "high-strung" feminists they all look weird. Christ. The worst part? These are grown, married, adults.
Oh, look at that, I'm finally free! I hope my snark brings about good conversation from the ashes of my suffering if nothing else. Hope you enjoyed it.
submitted by iliketoomanysingers to FundieSnark [link] [comments]


2020.07.07 22:20 Hot_Introduction_100 21M [Friendship] Anywhere - Avid gamer, movie lover, "philosophist", introvert, car enthusiast, BMTH fan, really open minded, positive vibes, dreamer, ambitious, geek, 3D artist, lonely, single looking for a best friend to talk to daily! Ghost free but wall of text!

Hello there!
Alt or alt-ish girls and those who know the answer to my greeting instantly jump to the top of the line! If you are both I'll delete my post and talk to only you until the end of my life. Who am I kidding, there won't be any line, I'll be happy if even a single person reply to this or even read it all the way to the bottom.
Okay, let's get serious I'm not a funny guy anyway, I mean I love (dank) memes and every kind of humour (the darker the better) but I can't make good jokes even if my life would be depending on it. Seriously, I'm awkward.
Who am I and who am I looking for?
Me:
You:
This doesn't mean that I'm a horny virgin, I won't ask for your nudes and won't send you dick pics I swear! I mean we can talk about sex/sexuality or anything if you'd like, I'm open to most kinks, however getting off is not the point of this post and we are not going to talk about anything you don't want to.
I'm not specifically looking for a girlfriend but if we both feel something I'm open to anything. It doesn't matter if you live far away I've always wanted to move abroad anyway. Before anyone misunderstand me I don't want to use you or just marry you or something to get a visa lol However sadly I have a flaw, physical attraction is really important to me so keep that in mind. I don't have much preferences really, I don't care how big your boobs are just don't be chubby and have a cute face that's it. In general I like cute girls more. Of course if you are just looking for a friend it doesn't matter how you look like!
Hopefully I didn't sound like a complete asshole so let's continue.
My hobbies
Gaming:
I play on PC only, however I might buy a PS5 when it comes out. I play all kinds of games except a few. I'm not going to list popular story games since I like them all (AC, Witcher, Fallout, Metro, etc. I love every game with a good story) so some other games I like: Forza Horizon 4, F1 2020 (I haven't bought it yet though), Assetto Corsa, Escape from Tarkov, Hearts of Iron 4, War Thunder, Fortnite (I'm utterly shit in fortnite I only like completing the BP and the ongoing story), SW Battlefront 2 and Minecraft just to name a few but I'm happy to play a lot of games! I also love mmorpgs, actually I'd like to start SWTOR sometime.
Games I don't want to play: any moba (so no LoL or Dota 2), csgo (I've played it for 717 hours, that's enough for a life), Valorant (I've tried it it's nothing special imo), any CoD (just not my style), GTA V (also have around 500 hours in it let that game just die already), Overwatch and no offense really but please don't call yourself a gamer if you only play Animal Crossing. Absolutely no problems with Animal Crossing just please play something else too :)
I don't hate all competitive FPS though, R6 is pretty nice. Battle royale is getting kind of tedious though so I don't really want to start Apex or Warfare.
I'm really looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077!
Please have a decent PC that can run most of the games! It's really sad when we can't play something because your PC can't handle it :(
It would be great if you'd like games as much as I do! E3 is one of the best thing in every year and I just love talking about games, their story, theories, etc.
Movies/TV shows
I love movies and TV show just as much as games! I love deep movies with a lot of meaning/things to think about! Two types I don't like is horror and idiot comedies. I mean I don't hate all horror movies, I love zombies, Alien and films like these but It, Annabelle and Saw is just not my cup of tea. I hate idiotic comedies they make nowadays (like Bad Moms, Dirty Grandpa). Comedies I like is Mr.Bean, Kingsman, Yes man, Knifes Out (it's not a full on comedy but I loved it), Johnny English and films like these.
My favourite ones: Star Wars, Interstellar, Blade Runner, Inception, The Shawshank Redemption, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Forrest Gump, Guardians of the Galaxy (probably the only Marvel film I like), Matrix, John Wick, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs (love Anthony Hopkins) just to name a few but there are so many more I could write another post as long as this just with movies!
I also love animated and Disney movies though! Inside Out, Zootropolis or Ralph (both ones but 1 was better) was perfect films!
TV Shows I watch: Westworld and The 100. That's it. Planning to start The Mandalorian and Witcher though. Maybe even Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Philosophy
I just like reading quotes from great philosophers or think about deeper things about life, aliens, etc. So we can talk about anything really, nothing is too deep for me! Maybe we'll even make some theories!
Cars
I love driving, their sound, their looks, everything. I have a soft spot for 90s Japanase cars, if I could ever buy Skyline R34 GT-R or a MK4 Supra I'd just die from a heartattack. I'm not even joking lol The only electronic car I like is Tesla, those things are accelerating like spaceships.
Music
I like a lot of genres, from jazz to metal to celtic music. There are some I can't stand though like mumble rap, mainstream pop music (it's not that I hate them, they are just boring) or really brutal deathmetal where you can't even understand the lyrics.
My absolute favorite brand is probably Bring me the Horizon (I'm pretty much listening to Parasite Eve all day). I won't list all artists here because there are A LOT. Seriously from Louis Armstrong, to AC/DC and Guns n' Roses, to 50 cent, to Russian hardbass, to Grimes and Eskimo Callboy. Include, you can't trust freedom, when it's not in your hands, if you've read this far!
We could share Spotify playlists! I'm too lazy to make playlists for myself though but I'd do one for you haha
Sports
Uhm not much to say here I don't do any sports. Honestly never liked them. I want to start working out sometime so I'm not some lazy fat bastard haha I like Formula 1 though but honestly I like playing it on PC more than watching. That Alpha Tauri livery is fucking perfect though.
Space
Anything about space and aliens. It's one of my biggest dreams to travel to an another planet.
History
I also love History if someone wants to talk about it. Especially the wars and politics, diplomacy and famous people but we can talk about the everyday life of the common man back then too!
Arts
I'm interested in all kind of arts!
And a lot more!
My personality
So I'm easy going and positive in general but also an introvert and kind of shy, especially with girls, that's one of the reason why I'm looking to talk to girls! Practice makes perfect I guess. Me being shy doesn't mean that I'll reply with one word. I always write long replies and I'd be happy if you'd do the same! The conversation won't go anywhere if someone just always says "Lol, That's nice, Okay" etc. I'm available to chat all day so you can message me anytime!
I'm going to be a 3D Artist, preferably at a game developer studio. I'm a beginner though so don't expect some masterpieces lol I'm working on my portfolio or doing tutorials nowadays.
I live with my family, dad and mom, no brothers or sisters, and my cat! I love my cat, you can get as many pictures of him as you'd like!
Speaking of pictures I'm not really comfortable sending pictures about my face so keep that in mind. In return I don't ask for your selfie either. I also prefer text chat over voice chatting in games and just in general!
I was bullied in elementary and high school so I was always kind of the quiet guy. I think I never had serious depression but I was pretty sad and hopeless at some time. This doesn't mean I'm submissive actually I think it just made me stronger and appreciate some things more. I'm a good listener though and may be able to give a few advices. May the Force be with you, include this if you've made this far, it's almost over!
I can procrastinate a lot and I'm sometimes lazy and unmotivated but I'm trying to work on that. I never complain to my friends though, I try to be positive and optimist!
Apperently I'm a INFP-T personality however it's not 100% true when I read the description. Probably I'm a mix of a few personalities.
Anyway I can talk about myself more in private if you are interested.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry for the long post but I hope you read it all the way down here and find something we have in common! Feel free to hit me up anytime! Reddit chat doesn't really want to work so use DMs.
Most of the people just scroll down immedietly for "passwords" so no passwords this time! :)
No TLDR, seriously just read it. Read one sentence a day or something.
Please don't message me with one sentence like "Hi, how are you?", write something longer, introduce yourself (you don't have to write a message as long as me of course haha) and you know things like these.
If you get NSFW warning when you look at my profile it's because I posted a few times on Dirtypenpals.
Thanks for your time and hoping to hear from ya!
submitted by Hot_Introduction_100 to MeetPeople [link] [comments]


2020.07.07 22:19 Hot_Introduction_100 21M Anywhere - Avid gamer, movie lover, "philosophist", introvert, car enthusiast, BMTH fan, really open minded, positive vibes, dreamer, ambitious, geek, 3D artist, lonely, single looking for a best friend to talk to daily! Ghost free but wall of text!

Hello there!
Alt or alt-ish girls and those who know the answer to my greeting instantly jump to the top of the line! If you are both I'll delete my post and talk to only you until the end of my life. Who am I kidding, there won't be any line, I'll be happy if even a single person reply to this or even read it all the way to the bottom.
Okay, let's get serious I'm not a funny guy anyway, I mean I love (dank) memes and every kind of humour (the darker the better) but I can't make good jokes even if my life would be depending on it. Seriously, I'm awkward.
Who am I and who am I looking for?
Me:
You:
This doesn't mean that I'm a horny virgin, I won't ask for your nudes and won't send you dick pics I swear! I mean we can talk about sex/sexuality or anything if you'd like, I'm open to most kinks, however getting off is not the point of this post and we are not going to talk about anything you don't want to.
I'm not specifically looking for a girlfriend but if we both feel something I'm open to anything. It doesn't matter if you live far away I've always wanted to move abroad anyway. Before anyone misunderstand me I don't want to use you or just marry you or something to get a visa lol However sadly I have a flaw, physical attraction is really important to me so keep that in mind. I don't have much preferences really, I don't care how big your boobs are just don't be chubby and have a cute face that's it. In general I like cute girls more. Of course if you are just looking for a friend it doesn't matter how you look like!
Hopefully I didn't sound like a complete asshole so let's continue.
My hobbies
Gaming:
I play on PC only, however I might buy a PS5 when it comes out. I play all kinds of games except a few. I'm not going to list popular story games since I like them all (AC, Witcher, Fallout, Metro, etc. I love every game with a good story) so some other games I like: Forza Horizon 4, F1 2020 (I haven't bought it yet though), Assetto Corsa, Escape from Tarkov, Hearts of Iron 4, War Thunder, Fortnite (I'm utterly shit in fortnite I only like completing the BP and the ongoing story), SW Battlefront 2 and Minecraft just to name a few but I'm happy to play a lot of games! I also love mmorpgs, actually I'd like to start SWTOR sometime.
Games I don't want to play: any moba (so no LoL or Dota 2), csgo (I've played it for 717 hours, that's enough for a life), Valorant (I've tried it it's nothing special imo), any CoD (just not my style), GTA V (also have around 500 hours in it let that game just die already), Overwatch and no offense really but please don't call yourself a gamer if you only play Animal Crossing. Absolutely no problems with Animal Crossing just please play something else too :)
I don't hate all competitive FPS though, R6 is pretty nice. Battle royale is getting kind of tedious though so I don't really want to start Apex or Warfare.
I'm really looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077!
Please have a decent PC that can run most of the games! It's really sad when we can't play something because your PC can't handle it :(
It would be great if you'd like games as much as I do! E3 is one of the best thing in every year and I just love talking about games, their story, theories, etc.
Movies/TV shows
I love movies and TV show just as much as games! I love deep movies with a lot of meaning/things to think about! Two types I don't like is horror and idiot comedies. I mean I don't hate all horror movies, I love zombies, Alien and films like these but It, Annabelle and Saw is just not my cup of tea. I hate idiotic comedies they make nowadays (like Bad Moms, Dirty Grandpa). Comedies I like is Mr.Bean, Kingsman, Yes man, Knifes Out (it's not a full on comedy but I loved it), Johnny English and films like these.
My favourite ones: Star Wars, Interstellar, Blade Runner, Inception, The Shawshank Redemption, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Forrest Gump, Guardians of the Galaxy (probably the only Marvel film I like), Matrix, John Wick, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs (love Anthony Hopkins) just to name a few but there are so many more I could write another post as long as this just with movies!
I also love animated and Disney movies though! Inside Out, Zootropolis or Ralph (both ones but 1 was better) was perfect films!
TV Shows I watch: Westworld and The 100. That's it. Planning to start The Mandalorian and Witcher though. Maybe even Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Philosophy
I just like reading quotes from great philosophers or think about deeper things about life, aliens, etc. So we can talk about anything really, nothing is too deep for me! Maybe we'll even make some theories!
Cars
I love driving, their sound, their looks, everything. I have a soft spot for 90s Japanase cars, if I could ever buy Skyline R34 GT-R or a MK4 Supra I'd just die from a heartattack. I'm not even joking lol The only electronic car I like is Tesla, those things are accelerating like spaceships.
Music
I like a lot of genres, from jazz to metal to celtic music. There are some I can't stand though like mumble rap, mainstream pop music (it's not that I hate them, they are just boring) or really brutal deathmetal where you can't even understand the lyrics.
My absolute favorite brand is probably Bring me the Horizon (I'm pretty much listening to Parasite Eve all day). I won't list all artists here because there are A LOT. Seriously from Louis Armstrong, to AC/DC and Guns n' Roses, to 50 cent, to Russian hardbass, to Grimes and Eskimo Callboy. Include, you can't trust freedom, when it's not in your hands, if you've read this far!
We could share Spotify playlists! I'm too lazy to make playlists for myself though but I'd do one for you haha
Sports
Uhm not much to say here I don't do any sports. Honestly never liked them. I want to start working out sometime so I'm not some lazy fat bastard haha I like Formula 1 though but honestly I like playing it on PC more than watching. That Alpha Tauri livery is fucking perfect though.
Space
Anything about space and aliens. It's one of my biggest dreams to travel to an another planet.
History
I also love History if someone wants to talk about it. Especially the wars and politics, diplomacy and famous people but we can talk about the everyday life of the common man back then too!
Arts
I'm interested in all kind of arts!
And a lot more!
My personality
So I'm easy going and positive in general but also an introvert and kind of shy, especially with girls, that's one of the reason why I'm looking to talk to girls! Practice makes perfect I guess. Me being shy doesn't mean that I'll reply with one word. I always write long replies and I'd be happy if you'd do the same! The conversation won't go anywhere if someone just always says "Lol, That's nice, Okay" etc. I'm available to chat all day so you can message me anytime!
I'm going to be a 3D Artist, preferably at a game developer studio. I'm a beginner though so don't expect some masterpieces lol I'm working on my portfolio or doing tutorials nowadays.
I live with my family, dad and mom, no brothers or sisters, and my cat! I love my cat, you can get as many pictures of him as you'd like!
Speaking of pictures I'm not really comfortable sending pictures about my face so keep that in mind. In return I don't ask for your selfie either. I also prefer text chat over voice chatting in games and just in general!
I was bullied in elementary and high school so I was always kind of the quiet guy. I think I never had serious depression but I was pretty sad and hopeless at some time. This doesn't mean I'm submissive actually I think it just made me stronger and appreciate some things more. I'm a good listener though and may be able to give a few advices. May the Force be with you, include this if you've made this far, it's almost over!
I can procrastinate a lot and I'm sometimes lazy and unmotivated but I'm trying to work on that. I never complain to my friends though, I try to be positive and optimist!
Apperently I'm a INFP-T personality however it's not 100% true when I read the description. Probably I'm a mix of a few personalities.
Anyway I can talk about myself more in private if you are interested.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sorry for the long post but I hope you read it all the way down here and find something we have in common! Feel free to hit me up anytime! Reddit chat doesn't really want to work so use DMs.
Most of the people just scroll down immedietly for "passwords" so no passwords this time! :)
No TLDR, seriously just read it. Read one sentence a day or something.
Please don't message me with one sentence like "Hi, how are you?", write something longer, introduce yourself (you don't have to write a message as long as me of course haha) and you know things like these.
If you get NSFW warning when you look at my profile it's because I posted a few times on Dirtypenpals.
Thanks for your time and hoping to hear from ya!
submitted by Hot_Introduction_100 to MakeNewFriendsHere [link] [comments]


2020.07.07 22:18 Hot_Introduction_100 21M Anywhere - Avid gamer, movie lover, "philosophist", introvert, car enthusiast, BMTH fan, really open minded, positive vibes, dreamer, ambitious, geek, 3D artist, lonely, single looking for a best friend to talk to daily! Ghost free but wall of text!

Hello there!
Alt or alt-ish girls and those who know the answer to my greeting instantly jump to the top of the line! If you are both I'll delete my post and talk to only you until the end of my life. Who am I kidding, there won't be any line, I'll be happy if even a single person reply to this or even read it all the way to the bottom.
Okay, let's get serious I'm not a funny guy anyway, I mean I love (dank) memes and every kind of humour (the darker the better) but I can't make good jokes even if my life would be depending on it. Seriously, I'm awkward.
Who am I and who am I looking for?
Me:
You:
This doesn't mean that I'm a horny virgin, I won't ask for your nudes and won't send you dick pics I swear! I mean we can talk about sex/sexuality or anything if you'd like, I'm open to most kinks, however getting off is not the point of this post and we are not going to talk about anything you don't want to.
I'm not specifically looking for a girlfriend but if we both feel something I'm open to anything. It doesn't matter if you live far away I've always wanted to move abroad anyway. Before anyone misunderstand me I don't want to use you or just marry you or something to get a visa lol However sadly I have a flaw, physical attraction is really important to me so keep that in mind. I don't have much preferences really, I don't care how big your boobs are just don't be chubby and have a cute face that's it. In general I like cute girls more. Of course if you are just looking for a friend it doesn't matter how you look like!
Hopefully I didn't sound like a complete asshole so let's continue.
My hobbies
Gaming:
I play on PC only, however I might buy a PS5 when it comes out. I play all kinds of games except a few. I'm not going to list popular story games since I like them all (AC, Witcher, Fallout, Metro, etc. I love every game with a good story) so some other games I like: Forza Horizon 4, F1 2020 (I haven't bought it yet though), Assetto Corsa, Escape from Tarkov, Hearts of Iron 4, War Thunder, Fortnite (I'm utterly shit in fortnite I only like completing the BP and the ongoing story), SW Battlefront 2 and Minecraft just to name a few but I'm happy to play a lot of games! I also love mmorpgs, actually I'd like to start SWTOR sometime.
Games I don't want to play: any moba (so no LoL or Dota 2), csgo (I've played it for 717 hours, that's enough for a life), Valorant (I've tried it it's nothing special imo), any CoD (just not my style), GTA V (also have around 500 hours in it let that game just die already), Overwatch and no offense really but please don't call yourself a gamer if you only play Animal Crossing. Absolutely no problems with Animal Crossing just please play something else too :)
I don't hate all competitive FPS though, R6 is pretty nice. Battle royale is getting kind of tedious though so I don't really want to start Apex or Warfare.
I'm really looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077!
Please have a decent PC that can run most of the games! It's really sad when we can't play something because your PC can't handle it :(
It would be great if you'd like games as much as I do! E3 is one of the best thing in every year and I just love talking about games, their story, theories, etc.
Movies/TV shows
I love movies and TV show just as much as games! I love deep movies with a lot of meaning/things to think about! Two types I don't like is horror and idiot comedies. I mean I don't hate all horror movies, I love zombies, Alien and films like these but It, Annabelle and Saw is just not my cup of tea. I hate idiotic comedies they make nowadays (like Bad Moms, Dirty Grandpa). Comedies I like is Mr.Bean, Kingsman, Yes man, Knifes Out (it's not a full on comedy but I loved it), Johnny English and films like these.
My favourite ones: Star Wars, Interstellar, Blade Runner, Inception, The Shawshank Redemption, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Forrest Gump, Guardians of the Galaxy (probably the only Marvel film I like), Matrix, John Wick, Back to the Future, The Silence of the Lambs (love Anthony Hopkins) just to name a few but there are so many more I could write another post as long as this just with movies!
I also love animated and Disney movies though! Inside Out, Zootropolis or Ralph (both ones but 1 was better) was perfect films!
TV Shows I watch: Westworld and The 100. That's it. Planning to start The Mandalorian and Witcher though. Maybe even Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Philosophy
I just like reading quotes from great philosophers or think about deeper things about life, aliens, etc. So we can talk about anything really, nothing is too deep for me! Maybe we'll even make some theories!
Cars
I love driving, their sound, their looks, everything. I have a soft spot for 90s Japanase cars, if I could ever buy Skyline R34 GT-R or a MK4 Supra I'd just die from a heartattack. I'm not even joking lol The only electronic car I like is Tesla, those things are accelerating like spaceships.
Music
I like a lot of genres, from jazz to metal to celtic music. There are some I can't stand though like mumble rap, mainstream pop music (it's not that I hate them, they are just boring) or really brutal deathmetal where you can't even understand the lyrics.
My absolute favorite brand is probably Bring me the Horizon (I'm pretty much listening to Parasite Eve all day). I won't list all artists here because there are A LOT. Seriously from Louis Armstrong, to AC/DC and Guns n' Roses, to 50 cent, to Russian hardbass, to Grimes and Eskimo Callboy. Include, you can't trust freedom, when it's not in your hands, if you've read this far!
We could share Spotify playlists! I'm too lazy to make playlists for myself though but I'd do one for you haha
Sports
Uhm not much to say here I don't do any sports. Honestly never liked them. I want to start working out sometime so I'm not some lazy fat bastard haha I like Formula 1 though but honestly I like playing it on PC more than watching. That Alpha Tauri livery is fucking perfect though.
Space
Anything about space and aliens. It's one of my biggest dreams to travel to an another planet.
History
I also love History if someone wants to talk about it. Especially the wars and politics, diplomacy and famous people but we can talk about the everyday life of the common man back then too!
Arts
I'm interested in all kind of arts!
And a lot more!
My personality
So I'm easy going and positive in general but also an introvert and kind of shy, especially with girls, that's one of the reason why I'm looking to talk to girls! Practice makes perfect I guess. Me being shy doesn't mean that I'll reply with one word. I always write long replies and I'd be happy if you'd do the same! The conversation won't go anywhere if someone just always says "Lol, That's nice, Okay" etc. I'm available to chat all day so you can message me anytime!
I'm going to be a 3D Artist, preferably at a game developer studio. I'm a beginner though so don't expect some masterpieces lol I'm working on my portfolio or doing tutorials nowadays.
I live with my family, dad and mom, no brothers or sisters, and my cat! I love my cat, you can get as many pictures of him as you'd like!
Speaking of pictures I'm not really comfortable sending pictures about my face so keep that in mind. In return I don't ask for your selfie either. I also prefer text chat over voice chatting in games and just in general!
I was bullied in elementary and high school so I was always kind of the quiet guy. I think I never had serious depression but I was pretty sad and hopeless at some time. This doesn't mean I'm submissive actually I think it just made me stronger and appreciate some things more. I'm a good listener though and may be able to give a few advices. May the Force be with you, include this if you've made this far, it's almost over!
I can procrastinate a lot and I'm sometimes lazy and unmotivated but I'm trying to work on that. I never complain to my friends though, I try to be positive and optimist!
Apperently I'm a INFP-T personality however it's not 100% true when I read the description. Probably I'm a mix of a few personalities.
Anyway I can talk about myself more in private if you are interested.
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Sorry for the long post but I hope you read it all the way down here and find something we have in common! Feel free to hit me up anytime! Reddit chat doesn't really want to work so use DMs.
Most of the people just scroll down immedietly for "passwords" so no passwords this time! :)
No TLDR, seriously just read it. Read one sentence a day or something.
Please don't message me with one sentence like "Hi, how are you?", write something longer, introduce yourself (you don't have to write a message as long as me of course haha) and you know things like these.
If you get NSFW warning when you look at my profile it's because I posted a few times on Dirtypenpals.
Thanks for your time and hoping to hear from ya!
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2020.07.07 15:57 TheWizarding A Dissection of Film: How to Make and Understand a Great 'Horror' Film

First kind of in-depth post on this Sub-Reddit. Let us see if I can get some thoughts together here. I put it in shudder quotes because I want to make clear that the horror genre isn't just being directly scared or seeing 'gore', it's way deeper than that. The horror film is about terror and psychology.
As the great Sir Christopher Lee put it (something along these lines), 'what you don't see is the terrifying part because your imagination creates more terror than you could ever see on screen.'
As a life-long fan of all horror and related genres since I was a child, and having seen most major horror films since the 1960s, I can tell you there are seven major elements to a real, good horror film, to my understanding (based on mixed readings, frameworks, and otherwise, such as Jungian psychology, and Darwinism):
1)'Tell, don't show' (the opposite of typical drama/narrative, which is 'show, don't tell' and that is true, but not for horror). Of course, you must 'show', by definition -- just not completely. The narrative is key and also the build-up. This is in keeping with Lee's understanding of horror -- and the mind. The gravest mistake people make with horror films is they throw away Aristotle and the meta-narrative or 'story', classically speaking. That's wrong. In horror -- or terror -- the story is everything and it may be more important in horror than many other genres. Without the story or meta-story, the horror is shallow and short-sighted and meaningless. That's what makes Stephen King so good. Plot, plot, plot. And deep superstitions behind the curtain... within your Being...
Note: You can get some direct proof of this by comparing failed horror films and deeply successful ones, for example, Jeepers Creepers 3 failed because they showed you. That's all they did. The first two films told you, they didn't show you. That's why they worked. They haunted me when I was younger. I would be scared to the bone riding through the cornfields on my bike as a kid, with that bat from hell running through my mind -- running through the fields. Not that I ever truly knew what he looked like, not that he ever existed in reality -- and that's what made it terrifying and real, at least, in the mind.
2) The dream and in-between realms. Anything that is within the dream-state or in-between realms, such as IT (1990) or Nightmare on Elm Street or The Ring is perfection. This brings it into your mind and the 'primary world', as Tolkien put it, much more, and plays with your psychology and makes you scared to sleep at night and makes you scared to turn on the TV or answer the phone. The goal is to bring the secondary world into the primary world by tricking the brain and playing with your perceptions. This makes the process and reality internal, not external. It's no longer that you are watching it, rather, it is watching you. Genius and terrifying when done right.
Nightmares aren't the goal, terror is. They must haunt you. That's not the same thing. Anything can give you nightmares, that's easy, but haunting, true terror, now that's difficult and much more long-lasting. It's like... having a nightmare when you're awake. It's no joke. It can traumatise you if you're too young or not of the temperament. We know, for example, there are a number of cases of young girls and boys killing people because of horror films or games, or killing themselves, indeed. Like, don't be thinking that horror films are these external, harmless products of cinema -- they are not that, at all. They are reflections of the soul and products of the psyche. They speak of the 'id' and of Cain's rage and of Chaos itself. They are no bloody joke. Just ask a 6-year-old or Stephen King...
'I sleep with the lights on.' - Stephen King, 1982, University of Maine piece
Note: This is an in-depth interview and King speaks to the strange relationship between 'the scream' and 'laughter'. It's deeply worth watching for any horror fan.
3) Poltergeists, dolls, and demons/devils. Again, pure psychology here and also with roots in our biology. We are tricking the deep superstitions of the brain, along with many sub-components and the visual and recognition areas of the brain. Akin to why we are scared of the dark and why our imagination oft fills that darkness with terrors never felt before, but you know they are real; everybody knows monsters dwell in the Deep Unknown. It's all to twist your perceptions and force the secondary world into the primary world, and these entities do that perfectly. That's why everybody is fearful of creepy, self-controlling dolls. That is horror. Some good examples of this would be Poltergeist, Thirteen Ghosts, The Sixth Sense, and Dead Silence.
Note: You can see this in something like A.I., which isn't a horror film but a sci-fi piece which is a bit thriller-like because it has a creepy boy robot, that's like an ahuman doll (which we find unsettling). Great film and still creepy if you're young. That's how deep it goes. Play around with the human characteristics and behaviours and you have created horror. This seems to be related to the laughter part of the brain, too, which deals with novelty, pretty much. That's why, if it's done 'wrong', you laugh instead of giving a gasp. You don't want it to be funny, you want it to be inhuman and unsettling. Clowns and such have that strange twin-effect, right. That's the genius of IT, by blending all such elements into one. That's the point, IT is the totality of your nightmares and the personification of Chaos itself, as ever it's quite a deep, Christian underpinning which is common with King's grand works. And, you will notice that most great works of horroHell are Christian and often by Christian writers. Also, the 'Beast' ep. from Doctor Who (David's) is pretty good in this way. Very creepy and moving. Why? Because it's the Devil -- rather, the Devil within you.
4) Archetypal pathology and agoraphobia. Now, this is the human element -- or rather, the personified Shadow aspect, in Jungian psychology, which is the 'dark element of Man'. Also, a common phobia and primal fear of the human species. In common terms, this is any film where you're trapped (house, coffin, lift, room, ship, car, etc.). And it's typically demonised in some manner, a bit like a 'super-villain' but in serail killer form. The pathology is, therefore, 'archetypal' because it's meta-human, it doesn't really exist within a single real human being in the real world, even if no 'supernatural' element is added, but is abstracted out to form a 'meta-killer'. A kind of demon-child of all the serial killers in the world. I would say if we were being technical about it, that this 'meta-killer' is even more real than a real serial killer for this very reason. You have to think that when you see a serial killer on screen, he's the collection of all darkness, sinners, and killers, whereas, the real man is but a piece of it, a slice. Some good examples of this would be Jeepers Creepers (of course, quite supernatural in this case), Saw 1, Saw 2, Identity, Hush, Misery, and Psycho. Also, The Boy is a good example of this, also fitting into the 'evil doll' theme.
Note: You get this sense very well and speaking to the 'laughter' element with The Joker from Batman, and the relationship between horror entities and laughter (that is, they laugh -- maniacally). This is called 'evil laughter'. I suppose it's the ultimate display of amorality and Chaos and nihilism. It's not that you are laughing at the cosmos or simply enjoy suffering, it's that you profoundly enjoy creating suffering and death and terror. No wonder we hate laughing, creepy, evil dolls, for example. No wonder they are very common in horror films. Of course, another common theme with respect to psychopathology and such -- and King knows this well -- is fire. Drawing on real psychology and real serial killers as much as possible is always a good idea and works very well.
5) Suspense, mythos, and the abstract. The 'mythos' element is the most overlooked but is at the core of horror. IT, Thirteen Ghosts, and Elm Street did this very well, and later, Saw. You are to create a mythology around the entity in question within the secondary world, as Elm Street did with the 'song' and as IT did with the history of Pennywise and the town, and as Thirteen Ghosts did with the history of the Ghosts. Hitchcock was, of course, a master of suspense and so is Wan. The 'abstract' adds a layer of confusion and unpredictability, and ties in with the 'dream-realm', as well. You see this a lot in the Elm Street series. Hush is a new one and quite genius, and it works because it pushes all of these elements to the very edge.
6) Demonisation, absorption, and hopelessness. Now, 'absorption' speaks to this further internalisation, where you either 'become the killer', so to speak, or he at least lives within you for a time. Typical horror flicks will only scare you until the end of the film, then you move on with your life and never think about it again. Real horror films don't do that at all. They stay with you. They have entered you, as it were. I spoke to this prior, to some degree. And it's really important to understand. Cube is a good example of this and Exam and Sunshine and Shutter Island. The first part speaks to 'dehumanisation' in a given manner and the matter of 'the doll'. The Ring does this well, and the Japanese are masters of this, in fact. I suppose you can either view it as either a 'lack of humanity' or 'too much Shadow Realm [dark side of being human]'. The West tends to be optimistic in its horror, whereas the Japanese are completely hopeless and pessimistic. The inference is that the horror never ends... the film never ends. Again, genius and scary as hell. The Ring, the Ring, the Ring. That's why I have extreme focus on the 'dream world'. It's hopeless. There is no hope at all when viewing these types of films. I'm used to fairly 'hopeful' horror films in the West, so Japanese stuff really does me in, but it's so great. Also, Hollywood has the problem of being very 'clean' and 'precise', which can be an issue.
No eyes or darkened eyes is a nice little trick to look out for. That will crush you instantly, man. As they say, 'the eyes are the windows to the soul'. So, when you have no eyes in some form (be it little girl or doll), this means it doesn't have a soul and it's no longer human but something else entirely. In reality, this is purely Darwinian. The human brain is built for vision, unlike most animals, and we can see remarkably well (we have one of the best sets of eyes of all animals), and that's how we see each other and operate in the world. I mean really see; treat, understand, love, and predict. Without eyes, or with 'demon eyes', as it were, you're empty and unpredictable. That gets you, the viewer, every time. Humans like predictability, more so in terms of negative valence (which is a psychological term which just means 'bad situation/object/feeling for the nervous system', like horror films). Interestingly, The Joker states this clearly in The Dark Knight, when he says something like, 'If I said I was going to kill 50 people tomorrow at five, nobody would bat an eye, but if I killed one person, randomly, everybody loses their minds.' That is dead right, in fact.
Note: In classical/Aristotelian terms, this would mean Western horrors are comedies (good ending) and Japanese horrors are tragedies (bad ending). Depending on what you are doing, you really want a tragic horror, not comedic. But, I like both and they have their places. For example, the good reason for a comedic horror is that the hero wins the day, in essence. This works best, ethically speaking and in terms of a meta-narrative, which is fundamentally pragmatic and existential (which is to say it is meant to teach you how to act and better yourself in the world). A real film is not mere entertainment, it's a meta-narrative and teaches you something about yourself like art does. That's the difference between art and propaganda. Art shows you who you are or could become -- freely -- whereas propaganda reinforces who you already believe yourself to be or forces you to become what it wants you to be (which is when the idea has you, right). Carl Jung wrote that 'people don't have ideas. Ideas have people.'
7) Sexual fantasy/fetishism and sadism'. This is the most complex and 'mixed' bag, I would say. I would put this down three roads, the first being Psycho, the second being Hush, and the third being Dracula. I think these three examples also make clear the different pathologies and motives at work, and what they infespeak to. Some other good examples would be Halloween, The House of Wax, and Friday the 13th.
In short: Horror films are not about 'gore' or 'jump scares', they are about true terror. It's the art of drowning your soul in itself. James Wan is quite the master of this, for example; further, some of these elements also play with 'good and evil' and force you to be involved in the process whilst also sticking to these elements, such as The Cabin in the Woods. It forces you to enjoy the horror and maybe you even have desires for it due to your bitterness and resentment and darkness, or maybe it shows your cowardice and weaknesses. Many things are at work with a great horror film. Saw does that, for example, and I think The Boy does it, as well. I will also say that Hellraiser and Event Horizon are quite great.
In theory, the greatest horror film would have all of these elements into one, or close to it. Notice how every single thing I wrote was pure psychological manipulation (not on my part, on their part). That is their job. Alas, the true terror is the realisation that you are the horror, you are the sinner, you are the Devil, you are the monster... now, that really can traumatise you and at any age.
Thanks.
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2020.07.07 15:20 efa___ I Read It So You Don't Have To: Class with the Countess (by LuAnn de Lesseps)

After my most recent adventure through the topsy-turvy mind of Kelly Bensimon in I Can Make You Hot!, it seems only fitting that my next literary endeavor provides a complementary perspective on self-improvement from another of RHONY's most erudite minds. That's right -- I extend to you all a most cordial invitation to join me as I master the fine art of manners with the queen of compunction herself, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, in her debut literary work, Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair.
Looking at the book's cover, I immediately feel a warm sense of reassurance as my eyes light upon the weighty gold chain hanging pendulously off of LuAnn's neck, a dozen jewel-toned baubles dangling haphazardly and drawing my attention away from the slight hint of cleavage exposed by her fitted salmon scoop-neck. It is 2009 again, and I am eager to return -- at least for the next 258 pages -- to a simpler time. A time when the Black Eyed Peas reigned, a year when the VMAs were Kanye's biggest controversy, an era when LuAnn de Lesseps was still rightfully titled with her well-deserved Countess honorific.
And possibly a time before the invention of sarcasm, if this quote on the back cover gives any indication. It would take a lot to convince me that this review was given with anything less than complete ironic disdain. I could have copied it word-for-word into my own book report and no one would have been the wiser.
"Being an extremely low-born and gauche person, I rely heavily on the Countess for tips on good manners and etiquette. She has also taught me how to be more sassy and alluring." -- Simon Doonan, author of Eccentric Glamour
A hearty cheers to you, Simon Doonan, although it feels a bit unsettling to be shown up so early in my journey. Nevertheless, I must admit that I'm eager to learn how I myself can become more sassy and alluring, so I open to the Introduction ("How Does a Countess Come to Be on Reality TV?") and begin to read. LuAnn begins by sharing with us the reason she felt so compelled to write the volume I hold before me:
Since the first season of The Real Housewives of New York City began to air, I have been deluged with e-mails and letters asking my advice on everything from what to wear to knowing what to say, from table manners to how to radiate confidence.
I steadfastly refuse to believe that there is even one single person in the world who wrote out the question "How do I radiate confidence?" on a physical piece of paper and proceeded to the nearest mailbox to mail that letter to the only person they believed could possibly answer the enclosed query with any modicum of finesse, the inimitable Countess LuAnn de Lesseps. Let alone anything close to a "deluge" of them. But I digress.
LuAnn promises that she will share with us her "distinctive advice on how to navigate our sometimes rude world with elegance," but first explains briefly how she came to be the reality TV megastar she is today. As someone who has "always been daring and adventurous," LuAnn needed little convincing when Jill Zarin suggested she might be interested in filming. She explains her most compelling motivation as such:
First, I wanted the history of the de Lesseps family to be better known in the United States. They are so respected in Europe and little known here. From building the Suez Canal to presenting the Statue of Liberty to the United States for the French, their international contributions have been exemplary and deserve more recognition in my own country.
LuAnn continues by bemoaning that "we are constantly assaulted by offensive, coarse, selfish behavior." Examples of this brazen incivility include such unimaginable horrors as "the enthusiastic chewing of gum in public" and "the sight of jeans and running shoes at the theater or opera." As one might expect from someone who has endured such torment and come out the other side standing tall, our author assures us that her tale "is an entertaining and, I hope, inspiring story." We are reminded once again that LuAnn attributes her success to "my penchant for being daring and open to new possibilities," and she briefly opines about how delightful Italy is, because "even young boys knew how to appreciate a woman." With a few concluding words ("I hope that imparting the experiences and lessons I have learned will help you to live a richer, more satisfying life -- one animated by a profound joie de vivre."), we finish the Introduction and begin Part One: "The Art of Being Yourself (in Any Situation)."
LuAnn thoughtfully begins the chapter with photographic proof of her qualifications -- specifically, this nonchalant snapshot of our good-taste guru "being myself in Capri." She remarks, in a passage titled "Confidence is the Key,"
I have to confess: I was born confident. Being a shrinking violet was never my style.
As someone with a clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder, I feel confident endorsing the utility of the following cutting-edge tips that LuAnn offers up as "Quick Confidence Boosters:"
Reminder: No one is perfect.

Don't take yourself too seriously.

Pump yourself up with positive thinking.
I wish I'd purchased this book two years ago -- I could have saved a boatload in therapy bills. But at this point, all I can do is move forward, committed to gleaning every pearl of wisdom from the tome before me (ugh, I still can't use the word tome without thinking of Simon van Kempen).
We cheerily follow LuAnn back to a story of a trip to Italy, where she met a handsome Italian man -- "like a Roman god." She continues: "we became close friends, and eventually he was my lover." A few paragraphs later, we return once more to Italy, where LuAnn wins the "Lady Universe" pageant and changes the course of her life forever. As she reflects:
I was no longer just LuAnn, I was Lady Universo! Believe it or not, this is what opened up the door for me in Europe, because the moment you have a title, any title, you are in.
It is both hilarious and entirely on-brand that LuAnn de Lesseps would gallivant around Europe calling herself a "lady" after winning a bootleg beauty pageant without, I'm sure, bothering to correct anyone who might just happen to accidentally get the wrong idea and assume she had some sort of noble heritage. Regardless, she soon got roles as a background model in a series of Italian TV shows. She recalls:
The Italians adopted me as their own. Everybody just loved the American girl. They loved showing me the ropes and expressed their enthusiasm openly. They were introducing me to everything and everybody. I'd get my derrière pinched on the bus.
My impulse to interpret this as sexual harassment (at the very least!) is clearly just a sign that I am not yet classy enough to understand the world as accurately as the Countess, and for her guidance I remain eternally grateful. Proving her cutthroat savvy, she continues her Italian saga by unceremoniously dropping her first boyfriend when "Roberto Gancia" comes along. Roberto "had a higher level of sophistication," by which LuAnn means he was very old and incomprehensibly wealthy.
The anecdote concludes and we move into another section, titled "Be Curious and Learn from Everything and Everyone." As LuAnn tells us:
I have always suspected that my profound respect for older people derives from my Native American roots. Elders are so important in Native American culture.
She also hints at her cabaret future to come with a remark that "I also love to sing -- Bette Midler comes to mind -- all kinds of music from cabaret to country rock." I suppose we should just be grateful that LuAnn didn’t pursue a Country Rock career (or perhaps disappointed?).
I'm impressed, reading the following passage, by LuAnn's dogged refusal to admit to having done anything wrong ever, even in a hypothetical scenario. As she explains;
The motivating principle in my life is to take chances without fear or hesitation. Jump on the train or you'll miss it. I live that way. I've taken chances and followed my instincts. Nothing exciting would have happened to me if I had been timid and afraid. I'd probably still be living in Connecticut. And you know what? I'd still be happy, because I choose to be.
LuAnn doesn't let us go long without another reminder of how valuable her ancestry has proven to be: "An instinctive ability to observe closely is another quality that I attribute to my Native American heritage." She rounds out the chapter by listing some of her charity efforts, described with the bizarrely stilted phrase, "we help with the orphans of Myanmar."
The next chapter ("What's Outside") opens with this picture, from LuAnn's modeling days, that I'm actually super into, as well as a description of what it means to be elegant. Perhaps I'm biased after so recently reading Kelly's book-length fever dream about HOTness, but I find the following passage comfortingly coherent:
Elegance means handling all aspects of your life with self-confidence and aplomb. Elegance has no shelf life or expiration date. Elegance is a quality that does not age. It is an aura that enchants those around you, regardless of your stage in life or your station.
LuAnn gives the personally horrifying advice that "you should start with a full-length mirror and an unforgiving magnifying mirror for your face," which is guidance I know myself well enough to only take if I would like to wake up tomorrow having fruitlessly tried to extrude every whitehead, blackhead, and hint of a pore from my tortured face. I would hazard a guess LuAnn does not have this problem, as she proceeds to make an offhanded comment about "why I love mirrors in elevators" (because she loves to look at herself, she clarifies for the confused). I can almost picture her coyly winking as she delivers the rule, "Lingerie is visible…only if you want it to be."
We are next treated to a bit of diet advice, in which LuAnn confesses:
I like the Blood Type Diet, because I think that each person actually is a carnivore or an herbivore. Since I'm Type O, I need more meat and my body craves it.
I'm somehow not even surprised that LuAnn self-identifies as a carnivore. Between this and KKB's personal definition of what "organic" should mean, I'm quickly losing hope for the nutritional savvy of the eastern seaboard. She also gives the following piece of confounding wisdom…
Try not to drink while eating -- not even water -- because digestion begins in the mouth.
…before telling us about how yoga has "saved [her] from the effects of a traumatic experience." The traumatic experience in question is a terrifying car wreck with her children, which I can only imagine would send anyone into distress. Of course, only a ingenue with LuAnn's caliber of social circle would get in such an accident while on the way "to celebrate Elle Macpherson's son's birthday in Gstaad." Alas, we must find a way to be content with our own lots in life nevertheless.
Ever the generous soul, LuAnn remarks:
If I had one wish -- after world peace and an end to poverty -- it would be for a hair and makeup person every single day.
She also gives the less-financially-privileged among us thoughtful advice about choosing "a more modest salon" or buying supersized beauty products "at the price clubs." After which she immediately proceeds to deliver the following painfully unhip line..
My break-dancing son would call it do-rag [sic] style. I call it my style.
…and promptly erodes this goodwill. She also refers to blush as "blusher," which I can only assume she's doing on purpose to sound more sophisticated and/or European. I catch myself getting more irritated than I have any right to be about the fact that LuAnn correctly stylizes the brand "Lancôme," then promptly abandons the very notion of a diacritical mark by the time "Lancome" is mentioned two pages later.
As we begin Chapter 3 ("Fashion and Style"), LuAnn immediately informs us that dressing for television is a special challenge:
For example, the tailored white shirt that is a staple for me would not vibrate on TV.
She encourages us to wear more vests ("I love vests and don't think they are used enough"), as well as to purchase "an outerwear jacket that's a cross between a biker jacket and a blazer." She unsurprisingly notes that she likes "cocktail rings and big-statement necklaces," and tells us her favorite hair ornament is "a silk flower, because they never get stale and they add a touch of drama." A list of fashion faux pas includes "Pale-Leg Syndrome" and "leggings or no leggings" (which doesn’t seem to be a faux pas so much as a set of two possible situations, but who am I to judge?).
In a unintentionally poetic line, LuAnn encourages the reader to wear low-rise thongs or panties because "we live in a low-rise society." She also gives cryptic advice to add "a witty evening purse" to jazz up a plain outfit, rounding out the first part of the book. With LuAnn's alluring silhouette guiding the way, we proceed to Part Two: "The Art of Making Other People Comfortable."
We are treated to another cheeky nod to LuAnn's imminent cabaret stardom, as she shares the following joke with the titillated remark, "being just a little bit naughty often has great appeal."
Why don't condoms come in black?
…because they make you look too thin.
She next tells us "how to make an entrance," and, to be perfectly honest, I have trouble imagining someone consciously acting through the following steps and coming off as anything but heart-wrenchingly pathetic. But I'll let you decide:
Smile and pause for just a moment. Take a deep breath to bring light into your eyes. Let your eyes sweep the room and make eye contact when possible. Chances are someone will come up to greet you. If not, who cares?
If no one greets you, enter the room in a purposeful way. It's all about vitality. If you are utterly delighted to be there, I assure you that people will take notice.
The chapter continues with LuAnn's condemnations of contemporary society and its myriad ills:
People have lost sight of the fact that some rules make life easier. "Anything goes" has resulted in an abundance of unattractive, selfish behavior that assaults our senses. The wince factor is getting higher every day.
She informs us that anyone with any sense of politeness should stand when someone is being introduced "unless you're attached to an IV," then suggests that we smooth over any awkward introductions with the inane line, "How did you pronounce your name? You say it so much better than I do." On the issue of "traditional gallant courtesies," LuAnn quips, "Why not be put on a pedestal?" Indeed, as she breezily continues, "men essentially want to please you."
A section titled "Manners on the Move" informs the reader that they can make a New York City taxi driver laugh by "[asking] him to take you to Switzerland." I can only begin to imagine how utterly knee-slapping the Manhattan cab driver community finds these kind of kooky one-liners.
At this point in my reading, I'm starting to wish I'd kept a list of the times LuAnn starts a sentence with "There is nothing worse than…" In this particular example, "there is nothing worse than the tension of bill time," but I'm positive I've already read the phrase at least a dozen times in recent memory. Before I can reflect further, however, we're on to Chapter 5 ("The Art of Conversation"), which begins with this candid snap of a savvy, on-the-go LuAnn going about her day as the epitome of effortless elegance that she is. She offers a few "fail-proof opening lines," as conversation starters, such as:
Did you get hooked on The Real Housewives of New York City? I hear they are working on another season.
…as well as a few exceptionally subtle "half-truths" to help squeak your way out of a sticky situation.
The floral pattern is beautiful, but it's so bold it makes a big statement.

The curry was so exotic. That yogurt sauce was a perfect balance to the spiciness. That was so clever of you.
She goes on to tell us that she dislikes "bad gossip," which I interpret to mean "gossip about her," before treating her readers to the story of meeting her now-husband, Alexandre Counte de Lesseps -- at a dinner party in Gstaad. She recalls, "I had met princes and princesses and an occasional king, but I had yet to encounter a count." The anecdote quickly segues into a list of dining manners, customs, and preferences. For example:
Big napkins are so chic -- for me, the bigger the napkin, the more elegant the occasion.
LuAnn goes on to provide further details on her "passion" for the napkin and its associated arts, before dropping the single most rich-people-are-wild fact of the book thus far:
I have been to opulent dinners in Europe at which each guest had a liveried servant standing behind his chair to attend to his needs.
LuAnn next guides us on what to do if "crumbs fly" while we are breaking off a piece of bread: clean them up "nonchalantly, not as if you are a busboy or waiter." Again, I assume that I would understand what this means, were I only more elegant. She also warns us of the perils associated with taking inappropriate measures to clean up a spill:
Don't try to sop up red wine with your white napkin. Ask for help. You don't want to get the reputation as "the spotter" -- you'll never get invited again.
It's just like they always say: every friend group has a spotter. And if you don't know who that spotter is, it's probably you.
LuAnn describes her "chalet" in Switzerland, as well as the profound sense of joy she found in her surroundings:
I would often sit in the middle of the living room and relish the beauty of all the things that surrounded me. It gave me a warmth and tingle inside.
I, too, have previously been brought to orgasm by a particularly fine piece of antique furniture, so I find this sentiment relatable. LuAnn next works in another nugget of unabashed self-promotion by suggesting that we grab some friends and host a party to celebrate "a Real Housewives of New York City marathon."
A few selected tidbits to make sure your next soirée is as elegant as possible:
Make sure stacks of cocktail napkins are available. Coasters are for amateurs and the uptight.

If you don't have a DJ, iPod compilations are great.

It's nice to have fresh flowers or a single rose in the bathroom.
Sure, if you'd like your bathroom to look like the castle tower from Beauty and the Beast. Otherwise, having a single red rose in your bathroom seems like something a college boy with brown sheets would do to seem romantic. We are next treated to a peek behind the curtain with LuAnn's account of one of her most humiliating moments:
Taking your shoes off can be embarrassing -- and it happened to me. I arrived at a party to find that I was expected to leave my shoes at the door. No one had told me. The nail polish on one toe was badly chipped. I got resourceful, slipped away to the restroom, and covered that toe with a Band-Aid I had in my purse. I'm glad they were the nude kind and not Mickey Mouse.
I would truly never be able to show my face again! Continuing on with general social advice, LuAnn reminds us "you have to pick and choose your fiestas." Also, with regards to tactical untruths about your plans for an evening, "be careful. You don't want to be caught in a lie. Duck if you see a photographer!" She also provides a list of ideas for hostess gifts, only one of which actually matters at all:
The complete The Real Housewives of New York City on DVD
I absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt believe that LuAnn gives people boxed DVD collections of her own reality show as hostess gifts, and I refuse to sway on this issue. A "checklist for the perfect guest" includes tips such as:
Participate enthusiastically in any activities suggested by the host -- party games and singing come to mind.
and
Don't change place cards or seating arrangements at a dinner -- and get caught.
The next chapter focuses on raising well-mannered children, a topic on which LuAnn requires minimal guidance (Victoria, for example, always "[seemed] older than her years"). She does, however, provide a list of "manners for playdates" written directly to a young child -- "Say hello to the adult in charge." -- presumably on the off-chance that a particularly conscientious eight year old might have stumbled into Class with the Countess unawares. How prescient!
The following passage makes me feel particularly sorry for anyone in the wider social circle of LuAnn de Lesseps:
If you can manage to keep gum out of the hands of your children, do it. Bovine chewing is really obnoxious. I was at a party with the daughter of a friend who was chewing away. I could barely stand to be next to her. Gritting my teeth, I said to her, "I don't allow my daughter to chew gum in most places. She just can't handle it. I know all girls do it, but it's better to chew gum in the car alone with the closest of family." Guess what? She took that gum out of her mouth, realizing her chewing was out of control.
If my interest in this book had waned at all, it is instantly restored as I turn the page and am greeted with this image of a sultry LuAnn de Lesseps introducing Part Three: "The Art of Seduction." I'm glad to have someone like LuAnn at the helm of this particular ship, as I'm confident she will share her unedited thoughts on the issues at hand. For instance,
I know this is a controversial statement, but I believe there are not enough Betty Boops in this world.
Revolutionary! As she continues, "when you go to the office, don't look like a man." I appreciate this advice, and have since taken the time to sew a flirty pink tutu around the waistline of my lab coat to more accurately signify my feminine wiles. But of course, before you can seduce and ensnare your target, you must find a man in the first place. Where, you may ask?
Tech shops -- damsel in distress

Long plane trips -- business and first class are the best

Upscale men's stores -- discuss ties
And if you're particularly devoted? "Consider changing your career to urban real estate."
A list of questions to ask yourself "before you make too much of an effort" includes such assorted queries as
Is he truly single?
and
Do you have to fight him for the mirror?
LuAnn goes on to inform us that:
Men are fascinated if you seem to intuit things about them. Maybe knowing his sign in astrology will give you some insight into his character. Know before you go. Google is a lifesaver.
She sprinkles in tidbits about everything from how best to leave after a one-night stand ("You could leave a note -- maybe lipstick on the bathroom mirror" ) to how to break up with someone ("Don't send an e-mail."), to how to handle a breakup with grace ("If you cry, it's okay. There is nothing wrong with making him feel guilty!"). She also recounts a time when she dressed up "like a Moroccan princess" to surprise and seduce her then-husband, the Count, before ending with advice to "leave a trail of candy and lacy lingerie up the stairs and to the boudoir for your husband to find when he returns from a business trip." I'm trying to imagine what my boyfriend would do if he came home, exhausted after a business trip, only to be met by a haphazard trail of goopy, half-melted Twix bars leading down the hallway. I can't imagine it's exactly what LuAnn had in mind.
LuAnn informs us that every morning, as soon as she gets up, she brushes her teeth and applies blush (not blusher this time!) before leaving her bedroom. She adds cryptically, "I think I have French blood -- Canadian, that is." The subsequent advice to "try to do one nice thing a day for your partner" strikes me as vaguely concerning, in the same way as people who describe their ideal partner as "honest." If I get to the point in my relationship where I need a conscious reminder to even attempt to be moderately decent to my partner at least once over the course of a twenty-four hour period, I can only hope I'll admit it's time to throw in the towel. As LuAnn continues, "Every day I try to thank Alex for something, no matter how mundane it might be. He loves it." Shocking, that someone would enjoy having their efforts acknowledged. As always, our Countess is an empath to the extreme.
More advice to keep your man happy? "Don’t criticize him." Presumably ever, under any circumstances, which seems only reasonable to me. LuAnn then suggests treating your partner like a puppy in obedience school, which I'm sure some people find highly erotic:
Make a fuss whenever he does anything thoughtful or romantic. If he sees that something he's done has made you happy, he'll do it again.
The next section begins with the line, "Your partner is not your girlfriend." I can't wait until someone finally tells LuAnn about lesbians!!
She continues with a lesson about how men are simple and practical and women are complicated and hysterical. As we all know:
Most men's idea of torture is having to listen to women chatter away amongst themselves…So don't torment your husband by going on about how you are feeing, why you are angry, or how to deal with a problem in great detail.
I want to snark on this, but honestly, it just makes me sad. Imagine having such terrible men in your life that not a single one has ever listened to you talk about something you love with anything less than utter disdain? If my boyfriend made me think, even for a moment, that it was "torment" to listen to me share my feelings about the day, I would bundle all four of my cats under my arms and bolt right out the door to embrace my inner independent Cat Lady with all appropriate haste. But LuAnn continues:
Men really are different, and it should be that way.
For example:
Forget yoga class. There is a reason the class is filled with women; men can't stretch the way women can.
Unfortunately, I don't think LuAnn is open to hearing a treatise on the plethora of cultural factors that result in certain pastimes being unnecessarily gendered and subsequently diminished under the scrutiny of an inherently sexist society, so I'll save that for another time.
In the book's final chapter, "Seduction Makes the World Go 'Round," LuAnn extends her lessons on charm and temptation beyond the bedroom into the world at large. For example:
When new neighbors move onto our street, I take them a pie to welcome them to the neighborhood. Who does that anymore -- especially in New York?
Classic Countess, am I right?! Underscoring her common, pedestrian roots, she informs us that the reason she is so comfortable around "tradespeople" is because she grew up with a father who was a contractor. She also is apparently only superficially familiar with Abrahamic religious iconography, as the following passage indicates:
Noel used to bring apples to school for his teachers. It's an old-fashioned custom. Think of Adam and Eve!
Why, exactly, we would be thinking of Adam and Eve in the context of thanking an educator remains unclear, at least for those of us who lack the elegance to intuit LuAnn's intentions. LuAnn also officially confirms her place in the Parents-All-Teachers-Despise-With-A-Burning-Fury hall of fame, as she snidely references "the point [in a parent-teacher conference] at which they make some sort of comment that indicates your child is less than perfect." The classy way to respond in this situation is, as we learn, to respond with basic human decency and -- if that fails -- "[talk] to the head of the school."
In a note about childcare, LuAnn remarks that "some nannies are so spoiled it's like having another child." She reiterates:
Remember that she's working for you. Don't cater to her every whim.
That's Mrs. de Lesseps to you, thank you very much!
LuAnn rounds out her guidance about household staff by suggesting that you give "holidays and sick days" and that you consider "[pulling] a flower from an arrangement" for your housekeeper's room. The largesse is truly beyond comprehension.
She then suggests that any of us impoverished ragamuffins who don't have doormen simply "adopt the doorman in a neighboring building for his services," kind of like how in Georgian England, wealthy estate owners used to hire ornamental hermits to live in their gardens and contribute to a general sense of idyllic ambiance.
LuAnn next turns her attention to the decorum around best friends, who she informs us can be "like a therapist, something you should never expect of your husband." Best friends can help you do tons of other things, like "edit your closet." LuAnn promptly segues into a story about a time when she was seated next to Sean Connery at a dinner party, but then rudely forced to switch places by an inconsiderate hostess. Connery, as one might expect, was "baffled and disappointed" by his misfortune. The hostess, as one also might expect, is described generously by LuAnn as "an older women [sic] -- a tad bitter and unhappy."
In the book's final passage, titled "Fund-raising," LuAnn describes her then-husband by saying, "he has a long-term vision that runs in his blood." Given that this particular long-term vision apparently did not turn out to include LuAnn, this seems an inadvertently bleak note on which to end. So we'll soldier on through the Afterword, in which The Countess remarks, "I am really the person you see on the show. The camera doesn't lie." She continues,
If you haven't already learned from watching the [sic] The Real Housewives of New York City, you'll know after having read my book that a countess is no different from anyone else.
In her final paragraph, LuAnn puts out a call for any reader feedback -- "I would love to know what you found helpful in my book and what subjects I didn’t get to that you'd like to hear about." As she tantalizingly teases, "Who knows? I had so much fun writing this book, I just might start another."
We can only hope.
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2020.07.07 10:39 Merfond A Lengthy, Comprehensive Analysis of “The Last of Us: Part II”’s Controversy, Responding to Prominent Criticisms, and Discussing Criticisms of My Own

About a month ago, I wrote a post to provide some clarity regarding the leak Naughty Dog sprung about a month ago. In it, I addressed some of the criticisms that were being levied at the time without unveiling any of the spoiled material, that way my curious spoiler-virgins would go unsullied until release day. There, I explained why all the major criticisms at the time weren't (and still aren't) warranted. Toward the end of the post, I noted that the outrage was not only political, but also emotional. I correctly predicted that there would be some spoiler-virgins that would not be pleased with the game's controversial narrative direction. I wish I'd been taking bets because not only was I right, I was right to an extent I never imagined. The response to this game has been chaotic, to say the least. This post will explore this phenomenon, directly respond to the most prominent criticisms and those who make them, and address my own criticisms of the game (as well as how I believe those flaws can be fixed).

Part 1: The Chaotic Controversy

I need to lay my cards on the table: I thought this was a fantastic game. Having purposefully indulged in the leaks back in April, I knew about every major death/plot twist before it happened, and I approached the story with an open mind. While I thought TLOU was a great game, TLOU2 blew me away with its darker, more complicated themes, the tiny details that collectively enrich the game's themes of gray morality, superb character interactions, the gosh diddly darn adorable relationship between Ellie and Dina, the endearing big sister-little siblings dynamic between Abby and Yara/Lev, and the excellently crafted set pieces that made each part of the game unique. I also loved the new gameplay mechanics that made stealth satisfying, such as crafting silencers for the pistol or taking cover in tall grass/ferns. It irks me to no end that such an obviously great game has received so much undeserved abuse. Can it be criticized? Of course it can. There's always room for criticism, but I think this is downright pathetic.
It should be noted that this avalanche of negative reception is not coming from a single body of grievances. It is, in fact, coming from up to at least three different factions. Sometimes there is crossover between factions, but a member of one faction should not be immediately assumed to belong to another.
Faction 1: "Get Woke, Go Broke!"- The Reactionaries
Not every person who dislikes/criticizes TLOU2 is a homophobe/transphobe/racist/misogynist. Make no mistake, though: there is a significant portion of "h8ers" that most certainly are angry at this game solely for its unapologetic progressivism. These are The Reactionaries. The anti-SJWs.The anti-feminists. The "YouTube skeptics". The traditionalists. Whatever you want to call them. Back in 2018, TLOU2 took E3 by storm with not only a gameplay trailer but also a front-and-center kiss between Ellie and Dina, marking a historic moment for LGBT inclusion in video games. While the explicit romance did receive some negative feedback from The Reactionaries1, the worst was yet to come. Fast forward to April of 2020. Naughty Dog sprung a devastating leak that revealed every card TLOU2 had up its sleeve. Controversy ensued, particularly around a new character named Abby, who was presumed to be male-to-female transgender due to her masculine features and silhouette. A contemptuous amount of abusive anti-transgender slurs and jokes were subsequently forwarded against Abby on places like 4chan, Reddit, and even YouTube. These assumptions ended up being bullshit, but that didn’t stop TLOU2 from solely representing itself. No, April 2020 was the moment this game became more than itself; it became a symbol for progressivism in high-profile video games–a perceived weapon in a culture war. If you think these people and their audiences only make up a small portion of this outrage mob, think again:
1Name: "Naughty Dog's SJW Agenda in Gaming Exposed"
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 160,000+

Name: “Last of Us Part 2 Ending Leaks Reveal Progressive Agenda”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 70,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Influenced by SJW Anita Sarkeesian”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 100,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Spoiler Talk, This Gets Really Woke!”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 65,000+

Name: “LGBT Activists: The Last of Us 2 Needs MORE WOKE Representation!”
Uploaded by: Lauren Chen (Roaming Millennial)
Views: 30,000+

Name: “The Last of Us Part 2 LEAKS ONLINE Another Franchise Falls To SJW Pandering”
Uploaded by: Geeks + Gamers
Views: 180,000+
Sometimes it seems like TLOU2 goes out of its way to stick it to these people, what with its female-driven narrative, unapologetic pro-LGBT stance, and racial diversity. It should be said that TLOU2’s progressivism is a neutral element in terms of how it contributes to the story’s quality, and the game should be neither defended or criticized solely on these grounds. It is, however, a heartening sign that these people’s neanderthalic values are dying out. Stay mad, you slobbering troglodytes.
To close this section, it is undeniable that this specific contention with TLOU2 is not in the minority of the overall controversy surrounding the game. If you are not a fan of this game for unrelated reasons, I’m afraid it is a fact of life that you are going to have to perpetually disavow and distance yourself from these people when you criticize the game. Some of The Reactionaries are wise enough to realize that “it’s bad because it’s woke” is a flimsy criticism, so they will cling to any other criticism that simultaneously grants them credibility and tears the game down, no matter how unwarranted or slanderous that criticism is. They are disguising themselves as one of you. If you are arguing about this game with someone, do not get mad at your interlocutor when they have to verify that your criticism doesn’t come from a place of bigotry, and stop pretending everyone is eager to use bigotry as a scapegoat that dismisses good-faith criticism.
Faction 2: “Neil Disrespected the Fans!” - The Entitled Fan
The Entitled Fan thinks TLOU2 is a poorly-written game simply because they did not like the themes it explores or the narrative direction it takes. Whatever it was they wanted, TLOU2 didn’t do it, so that means the game had bad writing!
Faction 2, on the surface, is similar to another group of people I dub “The Disappointed Fan”, but there’s a key difference that separates the two: whether or not they think the game was poorly written, and if they do think the game was poorly written, why they think the game was poorly written. The Disappointed Fan is not its own faction because they can fall into either Faction 3 (which I will discuss next) or Faction 2. When The Disappointed Fan falls into Faction 2, that is when they evolve into The Entitled Fan.
Before we proceed with my addressal of this faction, let me make something really clear: if you didn’t like the game because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, this section doesn’t apply to you unless you think the game was poorly written because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Got that? This isn’t me calling you entitled just because the game disappointed you. With that said, let’s move on.
Never go into a piece of media with expectations.
Judging by a lot of the discourse I’ve seen regarding this game, many people were expecting to simply get more of what TLOU was, this time with prettier graphics. As such, I’ve seen several posts, videos, comments, etc. that keep comparing TLOU2 to TLOU, then criticizing it for not containing a certain element that was in TLOU.
“TLOU Ellie was funny, but now she’s not.”
“TLOU was about a blossoming father-daughter relationship, but TLOU2 shits all over that.”
“TLOU had Ellie’s immunity as a source of hope. TLOU2 is just nihilistic and depressing.”
“TLOU didn’t throw a character I don’t like at me and force me to play as her.”
Stop. Stop judging this game for what it’s not. Judge this game for what it set out to do and how well it did so.
So what did this game set out to do? TLOU2 sought to be a dark tragedy surrounding the true toll of violence on the end of the perpetrator and the recipient. It’s a tale showing how a tragedy blackened our plucky heroine into a beast aching for destruction which, in the end, only resulted in more tragedy. It’s a tale that explores how the heroes in our eyes may be the villains in the eyes of another and vice versa. Hot dog did it depict these themes with brutal proficiency. Whether or not you personally like these themes or the writer’s decision to explore them is irrelevant to the story’s artistic quality. To act otherwise is beyond annoying; it’s childish and entitled. Yeah, I said it. I think it’s outrageously entitled for someone to lash out at a writer for not writing a story the way they wanted it to be written.
I think TLOU2, for its depressing themes/atmosphere, is of a specific, bitter taste many may not find appetizing. That's fine. Personally, I get a thrill out of stories that take the Shakespearean tragedy angle because stories that give its protagonist(s) an undeservedly tragic ending are rare and particularly gutsy. I think this direction, on top of being unique, is fascinating... and most of all, especially fitting for a world like TLOU. Let me ask you something: did you honestly think this game was going to give Ellie or Joel a happy ending? TLOU has always been a grim series about the loss of everything people held dear. Their homes. Their security. Their family. Their friends. Their own lives. Those who are calling TLOU2 "ToNaLlY iNcOnSiStEnT" must've missed how TLOU depicted this inescapable aspect of this hellscape: it sucks for everyone, and nobody is safe! If TLOU2 never had the guts to pull off what it pulled off, the series as a whole would've wound up bankrupt of stakes and suspense. Who the hell’s going to care about an action scene if we knew the author couldn't scrounge up the temerity to disrobe the main characters of their plot-armor?
If you were disappointed that the game did not meet your expectations... I'm sorry. I genuinely am. It sucks when something you've been looking forward to ends up being different from what you were expecting. This is why I said what I said near the beginning of this section: never go into a piece of media with expectations. Chances are, they won't be fulfilled. Not only will expectations leave you disappointed, they'll also close you off to something you may have otherwise appreciated.
Unfortunately, many fans were already too emotionally attached to Ellie and Joel to possibly consider the idea that they're villains in another perspective (especially the latter). The game wasn’t even asking the players to like Abby and co. over Team Jackson; it just wanted you to at least acknowledge that Abby’s course of action was sympathetic in her perspective. There's nothing inherently bad about being emotionally attached to a character, but Jesus Christ is it frustrating when that emotional attachment makes people unreceptive to an unconventional narrative direction.
Naughty Dog decided to take a controversial, but fitting, route with the next chapter of TLOU, and whether some people like it or not, they did an outstanding job. No, the professional critics were not bribed by Sony. No, the defenders are not deliriously fooling themselves into liking the game because they spent years emotionally invested in the project. No, the defenders are not SJWs who “secretly know the game sucks but are defending it because it advances their political agenda”. We've simply looked beyond our emotional biases and saw this game for what it is: a nuanced, gut-wrenching tragedy. I'm sick of hearing otherwise from a bunch of entitled children who are too busy longing for a game that isn't there instead of analyzing the game that is.
Faction 3: “Why ‘The Last of Us: Part II’ Doesn’t Work” - The Good Faith Critics
The final hostile faction against this game are The Good Faith Critics. While they accuse TLOU2 of being poorly written, they do so not through an emotional or political lens, but through a critical lens. While I have counterarguments to almost all of their criticisms, Faction 3 tends to be the least toxic of the three factions. For that, I tip my hat to most of them for actually behaving like civil adults that are capable of having a critical discussion about TLOU2’s potential hiccups.
I will address their most prominent criticisms one-by-one in the next part of this post. But first I need to mention the last combatant in this bloody battleground:
The Opposing Side: The Professional Critics
While the audience response to TLOU2 is almost literally split straight down the middle, the professional response to has been overwhelmingly homogeneous in TLOU2's favor.
It has been a common sentiment that professional art critics/reviewers are pompous and not worth listening to–that their "professional opinion" is not worth more than the average Joe's. This sentiment stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the job of a media critic. It is the job of critics and analysts to know how to take a story apart and understand what makes it tick. Once they've arrived at a proper diagnosis, they relay it to their audience. The audience can then make an informed decision over whether or not that movie/game/book/etc. is worth their time or money. Professional critics are supposed to abandon their personal opinions and emotions while reviewing a work and view it strictly through an analytical lens.
That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that almost all of this game’s praise is coming from the people who are specifically trained to disassemble and analyze the inner mechanisms of a story… and almost all of the antagonism is made by... oh, how do I put this... casuals who in large part have no interest or experience in the art of storytelling (in addition to the YouTubers who’ve realized they can make some sweet ad revenue off the outrage).
And no, I'm not siding with the critics here because they affirm my enjoyment of this game. There are plenty of cases in which I agree with critical praise for pieces of art I personally don't like, my favorite example being "Persona 5". I went into "Persona 5" with an open mind genuinely believing I'd fall in love with it. The opposite happened. I couldn't connect or empathize with the characters for the life of me. I thought the gameplay was restrictive and repetitive. I didn't like the jazzy music style. I didn't like the minimalistic, toon-shaded art style. Suffice it to say I don't like "Persona 5". However, despite my personal opinions on "Persona 5", I'd be insane to dare insist it is a bad game. While they failed to click with me, the characters were fleshed out, rarely written with inconsistent behavior, and had a ton of rich dialogue. While it's not to this metalhead's taste, the snazzy music is competently composed and played. The gameplay features unique mechanics that were sturdily programmed (i.e., very few bugs/glitches). "Persona 5" deserved every 5/5, 10/10, 90%+ score it got because it is a well-crafted game. Anybody who's honest should be able to say the same for TLOU2, regardless of whether or not they personally enjoyed it.
It is worth mentioning that there is a certain sect of the internet, usually those from Factions 1 and 2 (or both), that insist there was an under-the-table quid pro quo that occurred between Sony and major game reviewers. As I do with every conspiracy theorist I encounter, I’ll simply quote the late Christopher Hitchens to these people: “that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Let’s move on.

Part 2: Responding to Criticisms

"If I were to lose you, I would surely lose myself."
Joel's song at the beginning of the game foreshadows Ellie's spiral into darkness. The blackening of Ellie's personality over the course of the game was not bad or inconsistent writing, it was intentional and seamlessly executed. One of the first things that struck me as I played through the first few hours of the game was how consistent Ellie's dialogue was with the last game. As the game progresses, Ellie devolves into a restless, cold-blooded girl who is fixated on nothing but vengeance, even if that means throwing away a peaceful life. All of this culminates into one of the game's most important scenes, where Ellie finally realizes that her pursuit of revenge stripped her of everything she held dear–even herself.
A tragic hero at its finest.
I appreciated how TLOU2 starred a variety of characters that fall under the LGBT umbrella. Not only does it normalize LGBT people (which is good), it was also a refreshing change of pace that truly makes this game stand out. I also appreciated how TLOU2 had this sort of diversity without patronizingly pandering to these groups. TLOU2 treats every LGBT member of its cast as real people whose status doesn't make them exempt them from hardship. Dina and Ellie's disagreement is a component of this, for it is treated no differently than any straight couple's. They're not two lesbians who have a bitter end; they're two romantic partners who have a disagreement, which, believe it or not, happens to people in relationships. If Ellie were Elliot, the dynamic between him and Dina wouldn't have to be altered. That, friends, is how you write LGBT people: you don't treat them any differently than non-LGBT people!
I should briefly lay another one of my cards on the table: I approached Abby with an open mind, but also trepidation. Unexpectedly, she ended up becoming my favorite character from the franchise. What is discussed in my response to this particular criticism is part of the reason why.
Ellie and Abby are different people with different backgrounds. Unlike Ellie, Abby is a literal soldier who distinguished herself in the WLF as one of their top Seraphite killers. The result is a jaded girl who copes with trauma on an internal level; she bottles up her sorrows, seldom making them outwardly apparent. When her stoicism does slip, her insecurities usually escape in the form of snappishness2. No, this isn’t me desperately clawing to delegitimize this criticism. It is simply a fact that (and I hate to sound pretentious here) Abby is indeed a well-written but also complicated character that is difficult to read on a surface-level. Diagnosing her thoughts2,3,4, motivations5, reactions, and desires6 often requires a more attentive analysis, as they are rarely expressed in a straightforward manner (except in extraordinary circumstances). Here are some independent points that should paint a picture of what I mean:
1.
2Abby: "Hey. Why have you been avoiding me?"
Mel: "I wasn't avoiding you."
Abby: "C'mon. You've barely said anything to me since Jackson."
Mel: "I don't know... I guess I was... Shook by Jackson too."
Abby: "You don't think Joel deserved what he got?"
Mel: "I think he deserved worse, I just... I just wish I didn't take part in it."
Abby: "I get it. What kind of person could do that, right?"
Mel: "I'm not saying that."
Abby: "Let's see if there's a way to the hatch."
Mel: "All right..."
This exchange from Seattle Day 1 more than suggests Abby has begun to internally acknowledge that the way she killed Joel was inhumanely brutal, and she’s already having second thoughts.
2. 3Since the player is not always directly told Abby’s thoughts, they are often relayed through dream sequences. Each of Abby’s dreams return her to the exact same hall in St. Mary's Hospital and end with her opening the door to the operating room where her father was murdered. The repetitiveness of these dreams communicates that Abby has never gotten over Jerry’s death, and it is constantly on her mind. This is further exemplified by her continued interest in collecting state quarters: one of the only connections she still has to her father. You'll notice, however, that Abby never speaks of this issue–not even to her friends. Compare this to Ellie, who is very open about her grief over the death of Joel.
3. 4At the end of Seattle Day 1, Abby finds Owen in the cabin cruiser at the aquarium. This is when Owen reveals his plan to travel to Santa Barbara to find the remaining Fireflies, a decision for which Abby chides Owen. We then get this exchange:
Abby: Sorry I grew up. You should try it.
Owen: Oh yeah? How do I do that, Abby? Should I go find the people who killed *my* family? Cut into 'em? I could torture them until they're crying in their own-"
Abby interrupts Owen violently, shoving him into the cabin’s walls. She does this because she knows what she did to Joel was cruel and perhaps unjustified, and she cannot bear to listen to Owen remind her of her monstrous actions. Their clash then shifts into a rough lovemaking session. This sex scene was not implemented arbitrarily; this is Abby trying to make the guilt go away. She’s desperate for any kind of temporary pleasure (like a night of coital bliss with the man she loves) that could distract her from her regrets. Unfortunately, this rash action ultimately exacerbates her guilt.
4. 5Abby’s motivations for returning to Yara and Lev are externally dubious. Some players may think Abby helped them out of pity or a sense of obligation since they saved her from being lynched. Mel suspects that Abby wanted to use the kids as a means to manipulatively gain the favor of Owen (who’d begun to grow sympathetic toward the Seraphites). In reality, it’s none of those things. Abby was motivated by a desire to cleanse herself of guilt. Guilt for animalistically torturing Joel to a degree that even made her friends uncomfortable2. Guilt for betraying Mel by sleeping with Owen. Guilt for not being there to save her father. The most beautiful part of Abby’s arc, I believe, is how these selfish motivations evolve into a fiercely protective fraternal love for Yara and Lev.
5. 6In the scene where Abby prepares to slice Dina’s throat, her enthusiastic “good” upon discovering that Dina was pregnant was born not out of sadism, but a grief-fueled desire for Hammurabian justice. This is a component of how she copes with losing her friend Mel, who was also pregnant. “Good”, in this instance, translates to: “oh, you killed my pregnant friend? Then I’ll kill your pregnant friend”. Lev, thankfully, pulls Abby out of her vengeful tunnel vision before she could follow through with the deed.
6. All of this is not to say Abby is 100% a hardened killer who never reacts to trauma in the moment; during gameplay, after you kill your first two Wolves as Abby, she is programmed to always exclaim: “oh shit… shit!” in a severely distressed tone. She is mortified that she is killing her own comrades to protect Lev.
Does this complex style of characterization make Abby difficult for many to empathize with? Probably. I can understand why many people are unreceptive to her semi-abrasive disposition, especially if they’ve already decided to hate her from the get-go. Is it impossible to empathize with her? Absolutely not, especially if you are willing to analyze her with an open mind. Does her polarizing depiction make her poorly written? Hell no. A well-written character is not always universally likable, and Abby is an exemplar of this. For her nuanced portrayal, subtle execution, endearing dynamic with Yara and Lev, and continued mercifulness toward Ellie, I think Abby is a remarkable (and woefully misunderstood) character.
While Ellie does hate Abby for killing Joel, she also hates Abby because she represents something Ellie has spent years wrestling with: what Joel did in Salt Lake City, an act for which Ellie has never forgiven Joel. It was never revealed to Ellie that Abby's quest to kill Joel was to avenge her father, so she has always operated under the notion that Abby and co. traveled to Jackson to avenge humanity, which had been robbed of its only chance at a cure. Thus, in Ellie's perspective, Abby is an agent of karma–the inevitable consequence of Joel's actions. Abby's very existence, to Ellie, is a reminder of how Joel took away her chance of making her life meaningful.
While drowning Abby, a glimpse of Joel strumming his guitar on his porch flashes through her mind. It isn't too long later in the game when it is revealed that this is a memory of the night Ellie makes her first conscious effort toward forgiving Joel for his selfishness. When Ellie releases Abby, this isn't her forgiving Abby; this is her forgiving Joel.
This particular criticism is so silly I almost consider it to tread in the “dishonest” territory. While TLOU2 is undoubtedly more violent than a bulk of its M-rated peers, it has most certainly not earned the crown of that category. Here is a fatality from “Mortal Kombat (2011)”, where Kung Lao drags his opponent crotch-first through a buzz saw until they’re sliced perfectly in half. Here is the first combat scene in “Bioshock: Infinite” where Booker DeWitt slams the face of a policeman into an operating Sky-Hook. Here is a scene from the beginning of “Resident Evil 2: Remake” where Elliot Edward’s hip is torn off his torso, entrails hanging out in all their glory. Here is a scene from “Spec Ops: The Line” where the player is revealed to have deployed white phosphorus on military relief efforts and civilians. For Satan’s sake, here is Joel getting his jaw torn off his face by a Bloater. This objection against TLOU2 is nothing more than a red herring that has been brought up and blown out of proportion for dishonest purposes. Since when were Gamers™ concerned about violence in video games? That’s the job of Karens and Republican politicians. If we take a step back from the outrage, we’ll see that the degree of violence portrayed in TLOU2 is not abnormal–if anything, it’s tamer than some of its contemporaries.
But even if TLOU2 were the most violent video game ever made, that has no bearing on whether or not the story is well-written. If anything, its exorbitant violence is justified since it actually serves a narrative and thematic purpose in this game, unlike the scenes I mentioned above (except “Spec-Ops: The Line”). In a story that focuses on the emotional consequences of horrendous acts the main characters perpetrate, violence is an excellent tool that adds stakes, highlights the ruthlessness of its world, and most importantly, shows the audience how traumatizing brutalization can be, which helps you empathize with distraught characters. If your stomach is too weak to handle this kind of violence, that’s fine, but it isn’t an objective mark against the game.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that TLOU2 respects Joel by making him the most important figure in the entire game. Joel is at the center of everything. His morally gray legacy lives on in an adult Ellie, the privilege she gets to experience in her peaceful life with Dina, her pursuit of revenge, Abby's pursuit of revenge, and the continued misery the rest of the world faces with the Cordyceps fungus. Killing off a character is not always the end of that character’s role, and that’s especially the case with Joel. His presence, be it implicit or explicit, can be felt everywhere in the game. I believe this was an excellent way to handle a character as morally dubious as Joel. It wouldn’t be right if the story allowed him to live the rest of his life peacefully in Jackson–not after condemning humanity. Millions will continue to die and suffer because of what he did. However, it would also be cruel of the story to simply kill and leave him by the wayside. Selfish or not, he was still a grieving father who obeyed the urge to save the one he loved, something anyone can empathize with. Joel deserved death for his betrayal of humankind, but he did not deserve to be demonized. TLOU2, as demonstrated by the flashback sequences, treated Joel as anything but a villain.

Part 3: Criticisms From Yours Truly

It's time for me to lay down my shield and pick up my sword. Here we go!
A neat addition to the game was how human enemies call out to their fallen comrades by name. This humanizes the enemies and tremendously adds to the game’s exploration of the consequences of violence. However, this remarkable detail falls flat on its face thanks to one hiccup: names are repeated a lot. By the time Ellie killed her third Ashley, I was having a difficult time taking this detail seriously.
But that’s just a nit-pick. Time for me to break out the big guns. My biggest grievance with this game can be summed up in two words: Santa Barbara. Santa McFreaking Barbara. Like a malicious Cordyceps that hijacks the mind and distorts its host into something unrecognizable, the Santa Barbara segment takes TLOU2 and warps it until you have to keep reminding yourself you're playing the same game you were playing an hour ago. The characters it built. The message it built. The themes it built. It is all thrown out the window. Here's why:
1. The Rattlers and their portrayal betray the game's theme of ambiguous morality. The Rattlers are unapologetically sinister, what with how they enslave their captives with a degree of brutality that makes death preferable. They keep and taunt their captives even after they become mindless zombies, which is unjustifiably sadistic. They tie up and leave their misbehaving slaves to die in a macabre yard of decaying bodies that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle ages. Unlike the Seraphites or the WLF, both of which are shown to have sympathetic qualities, the Rattlers are blackened to the bone and indefensible. This results in the most explicit case of thematic inconsistency I've ever seen in any professionally-written story.
2. Finally, the worst offender: the time skip. While I felt a tense emotional investment in the Ellie vs. Abby fight in the theater, I felt the opposite during the Ellie vs. Abby fight on the coast of Santa Barbara, which was supposed to be the emotional peak of the story. Here's the difference between these two events:
-In the theater, I had a deep investment in both of the involved characters. I'd spent 25+ hours watching both girls brave the dangers of Seattle. I saw Ellie banter with Dina, cope with the trauma of losing Joel, discover a new type of infected, chase and beat the snot out of Nora, discover the Seraphites, kill Owen and Mel, and surrender to Abby to protect Tommy. I saw Abby's interpersonal drama with her WLF comrades, meet and bond with Yara and Lev, cross the bridges, descend deeper and deeper into the infected hotel, face the terrifying Rat King, refuse to move from Isaac's line of fire, and grieve after discovering her murdered loved ones. These were the characters I was with every step of the way as they seamlessly evolved during the trio of days in Seattle, and I wanted neither of them to get hurt by the end of it.
-On the shores of Santa Barbara, I didn't know who either character was. I guess Ellie helped Dina start a farmhouse and deliver a baby, dealt with chronic PTSD attacks, and shared a peaceful life with Dina and JJ on the farm, but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into? I guess Abby had been enslaved, beaten, starved, and on the cusp of escape (only to be denied it), but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into?
Whoever these new characters are, they're not the ones we spent the entire game getting to know. Those characters are long dead and gone, lost in the 1-2 years between Seattle Day 3 and the moment we first find Ellie in the farmhouse. As much as I hate to say it, the Santa Barbara segment, in only a mere hour, renders all the hours that came before it obsolete. Worthless. A waste of time.
This isn't me getting upset at the ending. I have no qualms with it at all. How we got there is where the issue lies. Is there a solution to this massive problem? Yes, and it's quite simple: time. It would've been worlds better if this game ended with Abby and Lev leaving the theater (preferably on this screen), which makes for a juicy cliff hanger that leads into Part III (which is probably inevitable with sales like these). If Part III was almost or entirely dedicated to fleshing out the Santa Barbara segment, I firmly believe these problems would cease to exist.
Time would allow us to marinate in the aftermath of Seattle. Maybe we get to see Ellie and Dina search for a farmhouse to claim. Get some sheep. Plant their crops. Dust up the house and make it a home. See Ellie's simultaneous terror and joy when JJ finally comes into their lives. See the ups and downs of Ellie and Dina's shared parenthood. In the meantime, packs of infected and wandering bandits are sure to spring up, providing the player with some stimulating combat as Ellie and Dina defend their new home and family. But in the meantime... Ellie wrestles with night terrors. She continues to see and hear Joel in his final hour. She sees Abby lurking in the theater, but she can't reach her weapon fast enough! The PTSD Ellie carries provides an undercurrent of negativity to her and Dina's otherwise peaceful life, and the pressure only builds over time. It makes her colder. Snappier. Maybe she even occasionally lashes out at Dina, only to quickly apologize afterward. But one day, Tommy pays his first visit in months, and he's brought a map and some information...
Time would allow us to see Abby and Lev's journey to Santa Barbara and their search for the Fireflies. Their big sister-little brother bond grows stronger in their adventures. They probably have lots of run-ins with the infected. A trader probably tips them off to the Rattlers in the area. When they're ambushed and kidnapped, Abby does everything in her power to resist their captors to make sure Lev isn't mistreated, as his transgender status likely puts him at considerable risk for abuse. Resistance is her initial instinct, but she quickly realizes that she can exchange her compliance for Lev's safety. So she works gruesome jobs for gruesome hours. Maybe after realizing how much leverage they have over this talented soldier, the Rattlers give her a weapon and force her to help hunt for escapees and unfortunate travelers (of course, if she turns her weapon against her captors, they'll make sure Lev faces a fate worse than death). After months, Abby finally builds up the confidence to stage an escape with Lev... but their operation fails. She is punished severely for her misconduct. She's starved. Tortured. Beaten. We see her spirit break, and her body emaciates until she is just as weak and helpless as the man she killed in Wyoming. She thinks of him and wonders if this was how he felt. Once the Rattlers are through with making an example out of her and Lev, they're strung up and left to die among dozens of corpses... until a familiar voice comes calling through the fog...
Unfortunately, as it exists now, the rushed nature of the Santa Barbara segment alienated the player from all of the characters involved-even Ellie, who the player is in control of throughout the entirety of the segment. Now, alienating an audience from characters via a time jump can certainly be used to great effect in some stories, but one such story is not this one. For 30ish hours, TLOU2 established itself as the kind of story that earned your investment through subtle character growth. What is the natural predator of incremental character growth? Time skips that gloss over major character-altering events. This was a disastrous decision on the writer's part, and it critically injures what I'd otherwise call a nigh flawless game.

Conclusion

Yes, my criticism of the Santa Barbara section was harsh, but it heartens me to remember it was only ~1.5 hours long. I wouldn't dare condemn the entire ~30-hour game for a fraction of a fraction of its content, especially not when the rest of it was as masterful as it was. A poorly paced ending does not make a story bad, and shame on anyone who thinks it does. It's about the journey, after all, not the destination, and by Satan was this an emotionally thrilling journey indeed. Excluding its ending, I’m glad to give it the highest praises I can offer. Unfortunately, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, this sequel may have cemented itself as the most controversial game ever made. I think that’s a crying shame because this is a great game that often goes where no game has gone before. It is one of the few games that not only challenged its players mechanically, but *mentally,* for it encouraged them to question their biases and see the reasons behind every seemingly evil action. It made giant steps forward for social progress, playing a part in making the world a better place for everyone. I sometimes fear the vitriolic reaction to this game may intimidate future screenwriters from making such bold decisions for their stories, and I believe that would ultimately hold the medium back from its fullest potential, particularly in the storytelling department. I have hope and a little bit of faith that this work of art will eventually stand the test of time, especially once the outrage simmers. Cheers to the developers for making such a wild ride, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
submitted by Merfond to thelastofus [link] [comments]


2020.07.07 09:42 Biochem-anon3 I hate men, including in particular myself

Background: 20 year old biological male. Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, not able to actually put it to use due to severe mental illness. I suffer from severe depression, including previously having had mild psychotic symptoms (auditory hallucinations with intact reality testing (the perceptions seemed realistic and of external origin, but I was still capable of recognizing that it would not make sense for me to hear a human voice while alone in my room, this is referred to as psuedo-hallucinations under some definitions, although other focus on the qualities of the hallucination and not reality testing)), social anxiety, and as you might had guessed from the title, gender dysphoria. I deeply hate myself and frequently think of suicide. No treatment has been effective for my core depressive symptoms so far, but my insomnia is mostly under control with trazodone and my cognitive symptoms partially respond to amphetamine, but the irritability is too much for it to be very useful for me.
I first began to experience gender dysphoria at age 12. While I did hate my developing secondary sex characteristics, at that point in time I did not hate men in the way I describe in the title. I attempted to come out of the closet at age 13, was taken to a psychotherapist that said I was not gender dysphoric, and lied and stated that I was now fine to avoid having as much restrictions on my behavior (my mother would continue to monitor my communications until age 18 though after that, including search history). Eventually I somehow found out about an ideology called radical feminism, in particular through the recently banned subreddit /GenderCritical, the deletion of which I highly disagree with and consider to be evidence that this website has really gone to shit. One component of this ideology, which is what led to the deletion, is that transwomen are transwomen, not women. The viewpoints of the people there varied, but given my previously mentioned self-hatred, I would focus mostly on those expressing viewpoints that I am a fundamentally awful human, along with all other men, and that I cannot be fixed, and therefore deserve to die. I think this can be best summarized by some choice quotes from the SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas:
"The few remaining men can [...] go off to the nearest friendly suicide center where they will be quietly, quickly, and painlessly gassed to death."
"Every man, deep down, knows he's a worthless piece of shit."
"In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.
The male is completely egocentric, trapped inside himself, incapable of empathizing or identifying with others, or love, friendship, affection of tenderness. He is a completely isolated unit, incapable of rapport with anyone. His responses are entirely visceral, not cerebral; his intelligence is a mere tool in the services of his drives and needs; he is incapable of mental passion, mental interaction; he can't relate to anything other than his own physical sensations. He is a half-dead, unresponsive lump, incapable of giving or receiving pleasure or happiness; consequently, he is at best an utter bore, an inoffensive blob, since only those capable of absorption in others can be charming. He is trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes, and is far worse off than the apes because, unlike the apes, he is capable of a large array of negative feelings -- hate, jealousy, contempt, disgust, guilt, shame, doubt -- and moreover, he is aware of what he is and what he isn't.
Although completely physical, the male is unfit even for stud service. Even assuming mechanical proficiency, which few men have, he is, first of all, incapable of zestfully, lustfully, tearing off a piece, but instead is eaten up with guilt, shame, fear and insecurity, feelings rooted in male nature, which the most enlightened training can only minimize; second, the physical feeling he attains is next to nothing; and third, he is not empathizing with his partner, but is obsessed with how he's doing, turning in an A performance, doing a good plumbing job. To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he's a machine, a walking dildo. It's often said that men use women. Use them for what? Surely not pleasure.
Eaten up with guilt, shame, fears and insecurities and obtaining, if he's lucky, a barely perceptible physical feeling, the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he'll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He'll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and furthermore, pay for the opportunity. Why? Relieving physical tension isn't the answer, as masturbation suffices for that. It's not ego satisfaction; that doesn't explain screwing corpses and babies.
Completely egocentric, unable to relate, empathize or identify, and filled with a vast, pervasive, diffuse sexuality, the male is pyschically passive. He hates his passivity, so he projects it onto women, defines the make [sic] as active, then sets out to prove that he is (prove that he is a Man'). His main means of attempting to prove it is screwing (Big Man with a Big Dick tearing off a Big Piece). Since he's attempting to prove an error, he mustprove' it again and again. Screwing, then, is a desperate compulsive, attempt to prove he's not passive, not a woman; but he is passive and does want to be a woman.
Being an incomplete female, the male spends his life attempting to complete himself, to become female. He attempts to do this by constantly seeking out, fraternizing with and trying to live through an [sic] fuse with the female, and by claiming as his own all female characteristics -- emotional strength and independence, forcefulness, dynamism, decisiveness, coolness, objectivity, assertiveness, courage, integrity, vitality, intensity, depth of character, grooviness, etc -- and projecting onto women all male traits -- vanity, frivolity, triviality, weakness, etc. It should be said, though, that the male has one glaring area of superiority over the female -- public relations. (He has done a brilliant job of convincing millions of women that men are women and women are men). The male claim that females find fulfillment through motherhood and sexuality reflects what males think they'd find fulfilling if they were female.
Women, in other words, don't have penis envy; men have pussy envy. When the male accepts his passivity, defines himself as a woman (males as well as females think men are women and women are men), and becomes a transvestite he loses his desire to screw (or to do anything else, for that matter; he fulfills himself as a drag queen) and gets his dick chopped off. He then achieves a continuous diffuse sexual feeling from `being a woman'. Screwing is, for a man, a defense against his desire to be female."
Men rape women frequently. Men kill women frequently. Men are attempting to invade women's spaces. Men are, objectively, awful. As I stated above, I have focused on the arguments that this awfulness is innate, cannot be fixed, and therefore can only be resolved through female separatism or the genocide of all men. Therefore then, what else should I do but kill myself and make the world a better place? If I am inherently awful and cannot be fixed, then I should be killed in the same way that a broken laptop that cannot be fixed would be sold as scrap metal. I really do not know what to do at this point. The idea that I am fundamentally awful and deserve to die is something that I am obsessed with at this point. I have told my psychiatrist that I experience suicidal ideation, but I have not provided them the details that I have provided here. I really do not know what the point of this post is, other than that I perpetually feel awful and do not know what to do at this point.
submitted by Biochem-anon3 to TrueOffMyChest [link] [comments]


2020.07.05 19:57 inkspring Why don't Chinese people hate their authoritarian government as much as we think they should? — Kaiser Kuo explains

I've been PMed by multiple people to repost this after my original SSC post was deleted, so here it is again:
The following was originally written by the talented Kaiser Kuo as an answer to a question posed on Quora, but for the sake of easier readability, shareability, and the mobile users who don't want to create a Quora account, I've decided to repost it in text post form. I've also added the last part of the answer and postscript in the comments because of Reddit's character limit. Apologies in advance if that breaks any rules. Anyway.
Why do many people feel that the Chinese can't possibly be basically okay with their government or society?
I’m going to attempt an answer in three parts.
First, I’ll look at the gap in political culture between China and the liberal western democracies, especially the United States. I’ll argue that there is little appreciation among most WEIRD individuals—that is, Western, Educated people from Industrialized, Rich, and Developed nations—for just how highly contingent political norms they take for granted really are from an historical perspective. I’ll sketch the outlines of the major historical currents that had to converge for these ideas to emerge in the late 18th century. Then, I’ll compare this very exceptional experience with that of China, which only embraced and began to harness those engines of western wealth and power—science, industrialization, state structures capable of total mobilization of manpower and capital—much later. And late to the game, China suffered for over a century the predations of imperial powers, most notably Japan. Hopefully, I’ll show why it was that liberalism never really took hold, why it was that Chinese intellectuals turned instead to authoritarian politics to address the urgent matters of the day, and why authoritarian habits of mind have lingered on.
Next, I’ll argue that a lot of unexamined hubris lies not only behind the belief that all people living under authoritarian political systems should be willing to make monumental sacrifices to create liberal democratic states but also behind the belief that it can work at all, given the decidedly poor record of projects for liberal democratic transformation in recent years, whether American-led or otherwise. It’s important to see what the world of recent years looks like through Beijing’s windows, and to understand the extent to which Beijing’s interpretation of that view is shared by a wide swath of China’s citizenry.
Finally, I’ll look at the role of media in shaping perspectives of China in the western liberal democracies and in other states. A very small number of individuals—reporters for major mainstream media outlets posted to China, plus their editors—wield a tremendous amount of influence over how China is perceived by ordinary Anglophone media consumers. It's important to know something about the optical properties of the lens through which most of us view China.
Part I — The Values Gap: The Historical Contingency of Liberal Western Thought and Institutions
One evening, I was chatting online with a friend here in China, another American expatriate living in another city, about the great disconnect in recent Western understandings of China—the thing that this question and answer seeks to get to the heart of. He suggested that at least for Americans (we’re going to use Americans here, mainly, to stand in for the Anglophone western liberal democracies) the question underlying the disconnect boiled down to this:
“Why don’t you Chinese hate your government as much as we think you ought to?"
The modern Chinese party-state, after all, is a notorious violator of human rights. It cut its own people down in the street in 1989. It prevents with brutal coercion the formation of rival political parties and suppresses dissent through censorship of the Internet and other media. It oppresses minority populations in Tibet and in Xinjiang, depriving them of religious freedoms and the right to national self-determination. It persecutes religious sects like the Falun Gong. It behaves in a bellicose manner with many of its neighbors, like the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. It saber-rattles over disputed islands with its longstanding East Asian adversary, Japan. It presses irredentist claims against Taiwan, which has functioned as an effectively sovereign state since 1949. It has pursued breakneck economic growth without sufficient heed to the devastation of the environment. It has not atoned for the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward, when tens of millions died because of absurdly misguided economic policies. It jails rights activists, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I could of course go on.
Why then would any American not ask this question? Seems pretty obvious from the perspective of anyone from a liberal western democracy that this is a political system that needs to go, that has failed its people and failed to live up to basic, universal ideas about what rights a government needs to respect and protect. They’ll have heard the argument that China’s leadership has succeeded in other ways: it has allowed China to prosper economically, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, creating a substantial and comfortable middle class with expanded personal (if not political) freedom. And the Chinese Communist Party has managed to ensure a relatively long period of political stability, with orderly leadership transitions absent the political violence that had accompanied nearly all others until Deng Xiaoping’s ascent.
"Yeah, but so what?" asks the American. "Anyone who would trade a little freedom for a little personal safety deserves neither freedom nor safety,” he asserts, quoting Benjamin Franklin. He quotes this as gospel truth, ignoring the irony that many Americans advocated just such a trade in the aftermath of September 11. That aside, why shouldn't he quote it? It’s deeply engrained in his political culture. Political liberty is held up practically above all else in the values pantheon of American political culture.
The American myth of founding sees the Puritan pilgrims, seeking a place where their brand of Protestantism might be practiced freely, crossing the Atlantic in the Mayflower, creating en route a quasi-democratic quasi-constitution, the Mayflower Compact, landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and over the next 150 years growing into the colony that would lead its 12 sisters into rebellion for freedom from the "tyranny" of King George III. Americans hold the ideas enshrined in their founding documents very dearly, and can't really be blamed for doing so: they are, after all, some very high-minded and frankly very beautiful ideas.
What he doesn’t quite appreciate is the precariousness of the historical perch on which these ideas—ideas he holds so strongly and believes so ardently to be universal truths—ultimately rest. Americans, like everyone else for that matter, tend not to take much time to understand the historical experiences of other peoples, and can't therefore grasp the utter contingency upon which their own marvelous system rests.
I'm going to grossly oversimplify here, in this grand backward tour of European history, but the political philosophy that gave rise to modern American political ideals, as even a fairly casual student of history should know, emerged during the 18th century in the Enlightenment—an intellectual movement of tremendous consequence but one that would not have been possible save for the groundwork laid by 17th century naturalists who, taken together, gave us an "Age of Reason" (think Newton and all the natural philosophers of the Royal Academy). Their great work could be pursued because already the intellectual climate had changed in crucial ways—chiefly, that the stultifying effects of rigid, dogmatic theology had been pushed aside enough for the growth of scientific inquiry. That itself owes much to the Protestant Reformation, of course, which people tend to date from 1517 but which actually reaches back over a century earlier with John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, arguably Erasmus, and the other pre-Lutheran reformers.
And would the Reformation have been possible without the rediscovery of classical learning that was the animating spirit of the Renaissance? Would the Renaissance have been possible without the late medieval thinkers, such as Abelard, who sought out to subject theology to the rigors of Aristotelian logic and reason? Would all this have been possible, if not for the continuous struggles between Emperor and Pope, between Guelph and Ghibelline factions—partisans for the temporal power of the Vatican and Holy Roman Emperor? The fact is that this series of historical movements, eventually carving out politics that was quite separate from—indeed, explicitly separate from—theocratic control, was only really happening in this small, jagged peninsula on the far western end of the great Eurasian landmass. And in the rest of the world—the whole rest of the world—none of this was happening. Political theology remained the rule with rare, rare exceptions.
What we've now taken as the norm and the correct form for the whole world—liberal, secular, democratic, capitalistic—is truly exceptional, recent, rare, fragile, and quite contingent.
Let’s turn and look for a moment at China, which is arguably much more typical. China is a civilization that didn’t until much later and perhaps still doesn't fit neatly into the modern conception of the nation-state; a massive continental agrarian empire, a civilization with an integrated cosmology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy which together formed the basis of a holistic orthodoxy, deep knowledge of which was required for any man (alas, only men) who wished to climb the only real available ladder of success: the Civil Service Exams.
The China that the West—in this case, chiefly the British—encountered in the late 1700s was really at or just past its peak, ruled by a reasonably competent and conscientious Manchu emperor who history knows as Qianlong, ruling a land empire matching, roughly, the contours of the contemporary People’s Republic, almost entirely self-sufficient but willing to sell its silk, porcelain, and especially its tea to anyone who brought minted silver bullion—two-thirds of the world’s supply of which, by the time of the American Revolution, was already in Chinese coffers.
What followed was a crisis that lasted, with no meaningful interruption, right up to 1949. Foreign invasion, large-scale drug addiction, massive internal civil wars (the Taiping Civil War of 1852-1863 killed some 20 million people), a disastrous anti-foreign uprising (the Boxers) stupidly supported by the Qing court with baleful consequence, and a belated effort at reform that only seems to have hastened dynastic collapse.
The ostensible republic that followed the Qing was built on the flimsiest of foundations. The Republican experiment under the early Kuomintang was short-lived and, in no time, military strongmen took over—first, ex-dynastic generals like Yuan Shikai, then the militarists who scrambled for power after he died in 1916. China disintegrated into what were basically feuding warlord satrapies, waging war in different constellations of factional alliance. Meanwhile, China's impotence was laid bare at Versailles, where the great powers handed to Japan the colonial possessions of the defeated Germany, despite China having entered the Great War on the side of the Allies.
During this time, liberalism appeared as a possible solution, an alternative answer to the question of how to rescue China from its dire plight. Liberalism was the avowed ideology of many of the intellectuals of the period of tremendous ferment known as the May Fourth Period, which takes its name from the student-led protests on that date in 1919, demonstrating against the warlord regime then in power which had failed to protect Chinese interests at Versailles at the end of World War I. (The May Fourth period is also referred to as the New Culture Movement, which stretched from roughly 1915 to 1925). The "New Youth" of this movement advocated all the liberal tenets—democracy, rule of law, universal suffrage, even gender equality. Taking to the streets on May Fourth, they waved banners extolling Mr. Sai (science) and Mr. De (democracy).
But with only very few exceptions they really conceived of liberalism not as an end in itself but rather as a means to the decidedly nationalist ends of wealth and power. They believed that liberalism was part of the formula that had allowed the U.S. and Great Britain to become so mighty. It was embraced in a very instrumental fashion. And yet Chinese advocates of liberalism were guilty, too, of not appreciating that same contingency, that whole precarious historical edifice from which the liberalism of the Enlightenment had emerged. Did they think that it could take root in utterly alien soil? In any case, it most surely did not.
It must be understood that liberalism and nationalism developed in China in lockstep, with one, in a sense, serving as means to the other. That is, liberalism was a means to serve national ends—the wealth and power of the country. And so when means and end came into conflict, as they inevitably did, the end won out. Nationalism trumped liberalism. Unity, sovereignty, and the means to preserve both were ultimately more important even to those who espoused republicanism and the franchise.
China's betrayal at Versailles did not help the cause of liberalism in China. After all, it was the standard bearers of liberalism—the U.K., France, and the United States—that had negotiated secret treaties to give Shandong to the Japanese.
Former liberals gravitated toward two main camps, both overtly Leninist in organization, both unapologetically authoritarian: the Nationalists and the Communists. By the mid-1920s, the overwhelming majority of Chinese intellectuals believed that an authoritarian solution was China's only recourse. Some looked to the Soviet Union, and to Bolshevism. Others looked to Italy, and later Germany, and to Fascism. Liberalism became almost irrelevant to the violent discourse on China's future.
For anyone coming of age in that time, there are few fond memories. It was war, deprivation, foreign invasion, famine, a fragile and short-lived peace after August 1945, then more war. Violence did not let up after 1949—especially for the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who were "class enemies" on the wrong side of an ideological divide; or for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers sent to fight and die in Korea so soon after unification. And even with peace, prosperity didn't come: 1955 saw Mao announce a "high tide of collectivization," which was followed by the tragic folly of the Great Leap Forward and ensuing famine, in which tens of millions perished.
A friend of mine named Jeremiah Jenne who taught US college students at a program here in Beijing once said something to the effect of, “When Americans create their movie villains, when they populate their nightmares, they create Hitler and the SS again and again: Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.” The fear of the liberty-loving American, he implied, is of a surfeit of authoritarianism.
What of the Chinese? The Chinese nightmare is of chaos—of an absence of authority. And such episodes of history are fresh in the minds of many Chinese alive today—only a handful are old enough to actually remember the Warlord Period but plenty can remember the Cultural Revolution, when Mao bade his Red Guards to go forth and attack all the structures of authority, whether in the classroom, in the hospital, in the factory, or in the home. And so they humiliated, tortured, sometimes imprisoned and sometimes even murdered the teachers, the doctors, the managers, the fathers and mothers.
In the 25 years since Deng inaugurated reforms in 1979, China has not experienced significant countrywide political violence. GDP growth has averaged close to 10 percent per annum. Almost any measure of human development has seen remarkable improvement. There are no food shortages and no significant energy shortages. Nearly 700 million Chinese now use the Internet. Over 500 million have smartphones. China has a high speed rail network that's the envy of even much of the developed world. China has, by some measures, even surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy.
So try telling a Chinese person that anyone willing to trade a little personal liberty for a little personal safety deserves neither liberty nor safety, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. Therein lies the values gap.
Part II — The View through China’s Window: Liberal Hegemonism in US Foreign Policy
In the first part, I laid out a case for why it’s quite natural, given the tendency of Americans (as with all people) to ignore or understate historical contingencies and recognize their own privileges and prejudices, for Americans to be puzzled by Chinese acquiescence toward—indeed, by their often quite vocal support for—a political system so execrable by certain American standards.
The hubris of some Americans about their own political system seems to me especially natural, even forgivable, in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the vantage point of 1991, a kind of triumphalism was inevitable: the liberal west, with America at its vanguard, had just vanquished the second of the century’s great ideological enemies. First was Fascism and Naziism with the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945 (never mind that Bolshevik Russia, from the time Hitler invaded Russia, never faced less than two-thirds of German divisions in the field), then Bolshevism with the end of the Cold War.
And what was on the minds of Americans—who had watched the Berlin Wall come down, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel assume the Polish and Czech presidencies, Yeltsin defend the Russian parliament and Gorbachev declare the Soviet Union’s end—what was on their minds as they turned thoughts to China?
Tiananmen, of course, with its incredibly potent imagery: a million people in the Square, Tank Man, and the Goddess of Democracy. Looming ever present in nearly every conversation about American perception of China in the last quarter century—now in the background, now in the fore—is the bloody suppression of the 1989 student-led protests in Beijing. (Fun Fact: The first democratic elections in Poland were held on June 4, 1989, the very day of the crackdown on the Beijing protests).
The years that followed the end of the Cold War would see gathering in American foreign policy a new ideology that would come to supplant the realist school that had dominated from the time of Richard Nixon. This is what the MIT political scientist Barry R. Posen calls Liberal Hegemonism: an activist, interventionist thread that believes in the pushing of liberal democratic politics and capitalism through all available means from “soft power,” to operations aimed at destabilizing authoritarian governments, to actual preemptive war (the Bush doctrine) and the “regime change” of the Neoconservatives. Some of its basic assumptions—not all, but some—are shared both by liberal interventionists and NeoCons. For American liberals, it was guilt from failure to act in the Rwandan Genocide, or to the “ethnic cleansing” that characterized the wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia, that gave impetus to this; for NeoCons, it was the unfinished business of Desert Storm. They found much common ground in their support for “color revolutions” in the former Soviet republics. They may have debated tactics but the impulse was to spread American values and institutions, whether or not doing so would serve a specific and definable American interest. That could be done the Gene Sharp way, or the Paul Wolfowitz way. Neither way was something Beijing wanted done to it.
And I don’t think it takes a whole lot of empathy to see what things have looked like from Beijing over the last 25 years. Deng Xiaoping, while he was still alive, pursued a policy of “biding its time and hiding its power” as he focused on building China's domestic economy, avoiding any real confrontation and trying to rebuild relationships post-Tiananmen.
But it wasn’t long before tensions sparked. In May of 1999, US smart bombs fell on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and virtually no Chinese believed the American explanation that it was a mistake, the result of an out-of-date map that showed the embassy as an arms depot. Later, in April of 2001, the collision of an American EP-3 spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet off of Hainan Island, off China’s southern coast, sent another chill through Sino-American relations. And things looked like they might have taken a turn for the worse, had not September 11 taken the pressure off.
The “War on Terror,” which China could notionally join in, distracted the U.S., which quickly found itself fighting two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy was in high gear, chugging along at double-digit growth rates right up to the eve of the Financial Crisis. The Sino-American waters were probably never calmer than in the years between 2001 and 2008.
Perhaps history will see 2008 as an important turning point in these attitudes: during the same year that China staged its first Olympic games, the financial crisis, which China weathered surprisingly well, walloped the West (and much of the rest of the world) with what was arguably its signal event, the bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers on September 15—happening just three weeks almost to the day after the closing ceremony of the Beijing summer games on August 24.
It was China’s turn to feel a kind of triumphalism, which often took the form of an unattractive swagger. Meanwhile, a sense of declinism gnawed at the American psyche. After 2008, China became the object of global (read: American) attention again, fueled for some by anxieties over the rapidity of its rise, in others by anger over major flare-ups in western China: riots in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, in March, 2008, and in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, in July, 2009. Factory conditions became a growing concern as Americans realized that even the most sophisticated electronics they sported—everyone had an iPhone by then, right?—were manufactured in China.
Remember, too, that excitement over the political potency of social media was also enjoying something of a heyday in this period of liberal hegemonic ascent. As one color revolution after another was live-tweeted (Moldova was perhaps the first, but not the only, of the street movements to be called “The Twitter Revolution”), as every movement had its own Facebook page and Youtube channel, China’s reaction was to censor. There is, after all, one belief about the Internet that the most hardline Chinese politburo member shares with the staunchest American NeoCon: that the Internet, unfettered, would represent an existential threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power. They have of course very different views as to whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. But can we really be surprised that, able as they are to open to the op-ed section of any American broadsheet and find this idea that Internet freedom is the key to toppling authoritarian single-party rule, the Communist Party leadership would conclude that their approach to censorship is correct? But this of course has created another potent issue over which Americans, very naturally, express outrage—and puzzled frustration that Chinese aren’t (literally) up in arms over Internet censorship.
Beijing obviously lamented the Soviet empire’s incredibly rapid implosion. It doubtlessly chafed at how NATO expanded its membership practically up to the Russian doorstep. It certainly hasn’t loved it that American troops are operating from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and were present in great numbers in Afghanistan (which by the way borders China, if only at one end of the narrow Wakhan Corridor). Beijing has surely fretted as American-backed NGOs (the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is the big boogeyman for pro-Beijing types—perhaps as Confucius Institutes are the bête noire for their anti-Beijing American counterparts) conspired, or so they believe, with the instigators of color revolutions. And it certainly sees the Pivot to Asia—now rebranded the “Rebalancing”—as a species of containment. But what I suspect really has Beijing freaked out, what really seems to have confirmed that America still has its cherished liberal hegemonic ambition, was the Arab Spring. Is Beijing so wrong, looking out on the smoldering wreckage of Libya and Syria, at the mess that Egypt still remains, to want to avoid that outcome at whatever price? Or to think that America’s true, ultimate intention might be regime change in Beijing? Kissinger once famously said that even a paranoid can have enemies.
What does all this foreign policy stuff have to do with Chinese attitudes toward their government? It’s fair to ask this; after all, the question I’m trying to answer isn’t specifically about the Chinese state and how it sees things, but rather the Chinese people, and the attachment they seem to have toward a state that comes up so short by American measure. It’s the rare person who can truly separate, at both an intellectual and an emotional level, criticism of his or her country from criticism of his or her country’s government—especially if that government is not, at present, terribly embattled and is delivering basic public goods in a reasonably competent manner. States tend to try to reinforce that conflation of people with state (and in China’s case, party). They encourage the basic state-as-family metaphor, something that in the Chinese case is part of the deep structure of Confucian political thinking and is therefore probably easier to nurture than to extirpate. I don’t doubt that propaganda has a role in this, but I would assert that its role is generally exaggerated in American thinking about China.
In any case, if you’ll indulge some pop psychological speculation, I’ll go out on a limb and posit confidently that external criticism of a leadership will tend to, if anything, reinforce a citizenry’s identification with the state and blur the lines even more between “government” and “people.” Perhaps I’m wrong. But most people I know who are known to bitch occasionally about their own parents get awfully defensive when people outside the family offer unsolicited criticism. This seems especially to be the case with mothers.
And so it is that many ordinary Chinese citizens, online and inevitably aware now of the timbre of China discourse in English-language media, tend to elide criticism of the state and Party with criticism of China, and take it personally. They feel a distinct sense of having been singled out for unfair criticism and will reach easily for handy explanations: Hegemonic America can't abide another serious power rising in the world, and just wants to sow discord and strife to keep China down; America needs to create a boogyman, an enemy to replace its fallen Cold War foe and placate its military-industrial complex. And in any case, America doesn't appreciate just how far we've come under the leadership of this party, however imperfect.
People will debate what the Party’s real role has been in poverty alleviation: is it accurate to say that the Chinese government “lifted 300 million people from poverty” or is it more correct to say that they mostly got out of the way and allowed those people to climb out of it themselves? (I tend to like the latter phrasing). That’s not the only accomplishment in China’s 35+ years of reform that will be fought over. But the simple truth is that by many, many measures of human development, the great majority of Chinese people are undeniably better off today than they were before Deng inaugurated reform. The grand unofficial compromise, in a kind of updated Hobbesian social contract, that the Party made with the Chinese people—“You stay out of politics, we’ll create conditions in which you can prosper and enjoy many personal freedoms”—has been, on balance (and to date), a success.
No thinking Chinese person of my acquaintance believes that the Party or its leadership is anything close to infallible. Most can be quite cynical about the Party, the venality of officials, the hidden factional struggles, the instinct for self-preservation. They’re fully appreciative of the Party and leadership's many shortcomings. They don’t shrink from criticizing it, either; they aren’t reflexively careful of what they say and who might be listening.
But they don’t bandy words like “revolution” about casually. They tend to have a sober appreciation for what’s at stake, for the price that would have to be paid. They’re realistic enough to understand that the Party is not apt to tip its hat adieu and go gently to history's proverbial dustbin. They still believe, and not entirely without evidence, that the Party leadership is attuned to public opinion and will respond when the will of the people is made manifest. They support reform, not revolution.
I’ve little doubt that desire for more formal political participation, for a renegotiation of terms in that unwritten contract, will grow stronger. That’s in the cards. You’ll get no argument from me that it’s been a raw deal for many people with very legitimate grievances. There are many who’ve broken with the Party-state, who openly or secretly dissent, whose relationship with it is entirely and irreversibly oppositional. Among these are many whose courage of conviction and towering intellects I deeply and unreservedly admire, and others who I think are mere gadflies or attention-seeking malcontents without a sense of what’s at stake. In the case of all of them, regardless of what I think of them personally, I regard it as a black mark on the Chinese leadership each time a dissident is locked up for ideology, speech, religious belief or what have you. But most Chinese people tend to be pragmatic and utilitarian; the state’s ability to deliver social goods gives it a kind of “performance legitimacy." The good (prosperity, material comfort, sovereign dignity) and the bad (a censored Internet, jailed dissidents, polluted rivers, smog) go on the scales. For now, it’s unambiguous in which direction those scales are tipping.
Part III — The Anglophone Media Narrative on China and Sources of Bias
If you're a denizen of the Anglophone world, your impressions of China are almost certainly formed primarily by the media that you consume. There are of course exceptions: some 100,000 Americans have, in the last five years, spent time working or studying in China; there are several thousand enrolled in East Asian Studies graduate programs, or taking serious upper-division undergraduate coursework on China, or pursuing an academic discipline that focuses on China; and there are probably a few thousand more who, for personal reasons, have taken more than a passing interest in China and have read a good number of books on contemporary China or on modern Chinese history, have undertaken the study of Chinese, or have otherwise immersed themselves in trying to gain a deeper understanding of China. Taken together, though, these people represent a small percentage of the general media-consuming audience—the college-educated American who, say, reads a paper once in a while, watches cable or network news with fair regularity, listens to NPR on her drive to work, and occasionally clicks on a China-related tweet or on a friend's Facebook page, or her counterpart elsewhere in the Anglophone world. All told, that's several tens of millions of people, I'm guessing, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.
It's worth reflecting on that, for this majority of news-consumers, impressions of China are almost entirely dependent on the reporting produced, at least regularly and in the main, by probably fewer than a hundred individuals. I'm talking about the reporters for the major newswires like Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and AP, whose stories appear not only in the major papers and on news portals online, but also in smaller metropolitan and even local markets; the journalists who write for the major newspapers and news magazines; television news reporters; and the foreign desk editors, subeditors, and producers working with the reporters. There are also the news assistants, unsung heroes without whom many of the China-based reporters who haven't mastered enough Chinese to read local media or documents, or conduct interviews in the native tongue of their interviewees, would be unable to do their jobs. If we include them, the number perhaps doubles but it's still no more than 200, perhaps 250 individuals whose contributions to the gathering, reporting, writing, and editing of news and the creation of news-related commentary actually matters.
What, though, do we really know about these people? If this is the lens through which so many Americans (once again, I'll remind folks that "American" here is really shorthand for Anglophone westerners) view China, it seems to me very sensible that we should wish to understand something about the optical properties of that lens. Does it distort? Of course it does; it could not but distort, could not but offer only a partial and selective view—this mere few score of reporters trying to present a picture of the world's most populous nation as it hurtles ahead with unprecedented force (in the f=ma sense).
This is not an indictment. These are people who I very much respect—indeed, the very people who these days comprise most of my personal circle of friends—and they are people who have my sympathy for what they must often endure in reporting from China. It's not an easy place to report from, especially if you're reporting on things that the Chinese government, or someone at least, doesn't want reported—and what else, after all, really qualifies as news reporting? They are subjected to some pretty shabby treatment, everything from the talk-to-the-hand they'll get from government ministries, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats related to visa renewals, to roughing-up by local thugs or plainclothes cops or even uniformed ones, to surveillance and harassment. I think if there's a source of bias with which I'd start my list, it's this. Seems only natural that this kind of treatment of a journalist anywhere would beget less than rosy coverage of the institutions doling it out. Negative coverage begets more of that nasty treatment, and so on in a most un-virtuous circle.
Should the journalists be faulted for focusing on the things that power, whether political or corporate, wants to hide? No, I don't think so. Rightly or wrongly—and I'm unambivalent in my personal belief that it's "rightly"— this is what gets the journo juices flowing. Journalism is not about the quotidian.
The historian Will Durant once wrote in The Age of Faith, "We must remind ourselves again that the historian, like the journalist, is forever tempted to sacrifice the normal to the dramatic, and never quite conveys an adequate picture of any age." I would note that while the historian can write enormously lengthy monographs in which some of that normal can be restored and that picture made more adequate, the journalist just doesn't have that leisure, and his sacrifice of the normal is more forgivable.
And yet it has an impact on perception; it's still a source of distortion, of bias. This failure to focus on the more "normal" is, I would assert, one of the major reasons for the disconnect at the heart of the original question: the prevalence among Americans of "Why don't you hate your government as much as I think you ought to?"
One of the more regrettable outcomes of this particular bias in the way China is reported reflects in the (notional, educated, mainstream-media-consuming) American public's understanding of the Chinese intellectual. Reporters tend to focus not just on critical intellectuals but on the more outspokenly critical ones, on the full-blown dissidents, on the very vocal activists, on the writers who challenge the establishment on human rights issues, on freedom of speech, on rule of law, on religious policy, on minority nationality policy and so forth. Of course they focus on these people; they're "the dramatic," in Durant's phrase. They set out to excite so no wonder that many of them are exciting. They play to the American love of the underdog. They flatter American values.
It's right, I believe, to focus on intellectuals. One could make a very serious argument that China's history is at some important levels driven by the dynamics of the relationship between intellectuals and state power, whether dynastic or Party. Dissidents and the more stridently critical intellectuals certainly are part of that dynamic. But I would submit that it's actually more important to understand another type of intellectual, and another mode of relations between the intellectuals and state power, between, if you will, the pen and the sword: the "loyal opposition," who during most times—including this time—comprise the real mainstream, and who see it as their role to remonstrate and to criticize but not to fully confront. It's these voices, a kind of "silent majority," to use an apt phrase whatever its connotations in the American polity, who go too often ignored in our reporting. Because "Noted Chinese scholar is basically okay with the government, though he thinks it could be improved in X, Y, and Z" is not a particularly grabby headline or a compelling read.
There's also a kind of source bias that's related to this and it's regrettably caught in a bit of a feedback loop, too. The general impression is that Anglophone media is pro-dissident, and so dissidents will tend to go on record with or speak at greater length with Anglophone reporters; moderate or pro-Party intellectuals will tend to decline interviews and comment, and the impression that Anglophone media is biased in favor of the dissidents gets reinforced: the narrative that they want is buttressed while the other is marginalized or weakened.
Another almost ineradicable bias in Anglophone media reporting, so prevalent that it's almost not worth pointing out, is bias in favor of democratic polities. Authoritarian states like China tend to get reported on unfavorably because they behave like authoritarian states. They don't allow, by definition, rival political parties to freely form. They don't allow a free press. They censor the Internet. And of course journalists in the Anglophone world are themselves on the front lines of these speech and press issues. It's almost tautological that the press of the free world would want to free the press of the world.
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