I can’t believe Haruhi Fujioka is the new Persona 5 protagonist.
I can’t believe Haruhi Fujioka is the new Persona 5 protagonist.
Quoted from the essay "1941" written by Charles C. Mann, about the major impact that Native Americans had on the Americas (ecologically and culturally) before white people invaded, bringing their diseases and shoving Christianity down the Indians’ throats and murdering them and banning their cultures.
Check out the whole piece (which is rather long). (P.S thanks to @cazalis for sending me this great link)
Human history, in Crosby’s interpretation, is marked by two world-altering centers of invention: the Middle East and central Mexico, where Indian groups independently created nearly all of the Neolithic innovations, writing included. The Neolithic Revolution began in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago. In the next few millennia humankind invented the wheel, the metal tool, and agriculture. The Sumerians eventually put these inventions together, added writing, and became the world’s first civilization. Afterward Sumeria’s heirs in Europe and Asia frantically copied one another’s happiest discoveries; innovations ricocheted from one corner of Eurasia to another, stimulating technological progress. Native Americans, who had crossed to Alaska before Sumeria, missed out on the bounty. “They had to do everything on their own,” Crosby says. Remarkably, they succeeded.
When Columbus appeared in the Caribbean, the descendants of the world’s two Neolithic civilizations collided, with overwhelming consequences for both. American Neolithic development occurred later than that of the Middle East, possibly because the Indians needed more time to build up the requisite population density. Without beasts of burden they could not capitalize on the wheel (for individual workers on uneven terrain skids are nearly as effective as carts for hauling), and they never developed steel. But in agriculture they handily outstripped the children of Sumeria. Every tomato in Italy, every potato in Ireland, and every hot pepper in Thailand came from this hemisphere. Worldwide, more than half the crops grown today were initially developed in the Americas.
Maize, as corn is called in the rest of the world, was a triumph with global implications. Indians developed an extraordinary number of maize varieties for different growing conditions, which meant that the crop could and did spread throughout the planet. Central and Southern Europeans became particularly dependent on it; maize was the staple of Serbia, Romania, and Moldavia by the nineteenth century. Indian crops dramatically reduced hunger, Crosby says, which led to an Old World population boom.
Along with peanuts and manioc, maize came to Africa and transformed agriculture there, too. “The probability is that the population of Africa was greatly increased because of maize and other American Indian crops,” Crosby says. “Those extra people helped make the slave trade possible.” Maize conquered Africa at the time when introduced diseases were leveling Indian societies. The Spanish, the Portuguese, and the British were alarmed by the death rate among Indians, because they wanted to exploit them as workers. Faced with a labor shortage, the Europeans turned their eyes to Africa. The continent’s quarrelsome societies helped slave traders to siphon off millions of people. The maize-fed population boom, Crosby believes, let the awful trade continue without pumping the well dry.
Back home in the Americas, Indian agriculture long sustained some of the world’s largest cities. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán dazzled Hernán Cortés in 1519; it was bigger than Paris, Europe’s greatest metropolis. The Spaniards gawped like hayseeds at the wide streets, ornately carved buildings, and markets bright with goods from hundreds of miles away. They had never before seen a city with botanical gardens, for the excellent reason that none existed in Europe. The same novelty attended the force of a thousand men that kept the crowded streets immaculate. (Streets that weren’t ankle-deep in sewage! The conquistadors had never heard of such a thing.) Central America was not the only locus of prosperity. Thousands of miles north, John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, visited Massachusetts in 1614, before it was emptied by disease, and declared that the land was “so planted with Gardens and Corne fields, and so well inhabited with a goodly, strong and well proportioned people … [that] I would rather live here than any where.”
and another excerpt:
In as yet unpublished research the archaeologists Eduardo Neves, of the University of São Paulo; Michael Heckenberger, of the University of Florida; and their colleagues examined terra preta in the upper Xingu, a huge southern tributary of the Amazon. Not all Xingu cultures left behind this living earth, they discovered. But the ones that did generated it rapidly—suggesting to Woods that terra preta was created deliberately. In a process reminiscent of dropping microorganism-rich starter into plain dough to create sourdough bread, Amazonian peoples, he believes, inoculated bad soil with a transforming bacterial charge. Not every group of Indians there did this, but quite a few did, and over an extended period of time.
When Woods told me this, I was so amazed that I almost dropped the phone. I ceased to be articulate for a moment and said things like “wow” and “gosh.” Woods chuckled at my reaction, probably because he understood what was passing through my mind. Faced with an ecological problem, I was thinking, the Indians fixed it. They were in the process of terraforming the Amazon when Columbus showed up and ruined everything.
For a while now I’ve been kind of meaning to write a long, in-depth post about 4chan. With the recent controversy between them and some significant feminist figures in the gaming industry, I think it’s important that I finally go ahead and do this. Since, let’s be honest: any time there’s a big controversy on the internet, 4chan is going to be involved. And yet, a lot of people don’t really understand what 4chan is.
First, I should probably start with some explanation of where I am coming from. When my webcomic first began taking off, I went to great lengths to keep an eye on everyone who discussed it. I like feedback on what I’m doing; the way I see it, the natural progression of an artistic career is that you eventually come to rely on audience feedback rather than individual critics who purport to represent it.
For the most part, this just entailed reading forums and blogs, nothing too complicated. however, there was this one audience segment that continually eluded my sight: 4chan. I could see 4chan links in my referrers, but could never find anything there about me or my work. The threads, with their short, transient lifespans, were always gone by the time I got there.
Well, needless to say, I eventually did catch a Prequel thread, and then more, and gradually over the next few years I learned a lot about 4chan - as well as a lot of other sites, major and minor (this one included). Of them all, though, 4chan stands out to me as having the most interesting culture - as well as being one of the most confusing, misunderstood, and outright scary entities to outsiders. I can understand why they are such a prevalent and relatively powerful force online, and I think it’s important for everyone to understand exactly what 4chan is.
I’m going to be sharing my personal observations and conclusions regarding 4chan. So, buckle up and put on your ethnologist hats, kids, because we’re gonna talk comparative internet cultures!
The first thing that always trips people up about 4chan is this idea of an “anon culture”. Like, we all understand the idea of anonymous comments on a site, or accepting anonymous asks on Tumblr, and probably understand that such anonymous submissions are often used to attack someone without suffering any social ramifications or backlash for doing so. But what happens when you bring hundreds of thousands of people together who idolize the idea of anonymity and the freedom it brings?
Well, you get something kind of cool, in my opinion. What you end up with is this concept of a fluid identity. Not only do people on 4chan have no social ramifications for being rude, but they face no social ramifications for being inconsistent with themselves. On 4chan you have no obligation to stick to or defend your past beliefs or opinions, because no one knows they were your past beliefs, nor do you have any incentive to display beliefs that will make you look good - since no one will ever even know it was you.
It’s like… imagine being an invisible person in a room with a bunch of other invisible people. You, as well as each of them, are wearing an (also invisible) random voice-changing mask. From the seemingly empty room, one voice calls out: “so, what webcomics do you guys read?”
If you were in a public place, you’d pick the answer that makes you look good. It’ll be something pretentious (if you’re around pretentious people), or something relatively normal and acceptable (if you’re around normal people), and you’ll choose the answer that doesn’t ostracize you otherwise negatively affect you socially.
In the room of invisible people, that pressure does not exist. You are speaking to the equivalent of an empty room. You can say the most embarrassing shit you can think of - let them know about that horrible, poorly-drawn DeviantArt comic series you are super into. If they laugh at you for it and you regret your choice to bring it up, then all you have to do is step a few feet to the left and say you like something else. All of a sudden, you and are effectively a different person. Alternatively, you could just own up to your love of this awesome DeviantArt comic. Why not? You can unassociate yourself from these claims at any time.
Or, imagine someone else in the room says they like some poorly-written little ComicGenesis comic, and you decide to rail on them about how horrible it is. Suddenly, they come back at you with this amazing explanation about its hidden nuances, and you realize that you misjudged this little comic and it is in fact the epitome of perfection. If you want, you can just instantly pretend you are a different person who liked the comic all along. You don’t have to feel any shame for wrongly disliking it at first, or any obligation to remain consistent with your earlier beliefs. You just do what you feel like. It can’t hurt you. You are just you.
Of course, the consequence of this is that 4chan is completely depraved by normal societal standards. Without the pressure to conform, it turns out people are naturally pretty weird. But, you know, they live it. It’s a culture where nobody is really shamed or hurt for the things they enjoy. Someone can try to shame them, but it’s not going to have any effect and it’s usually more of a joke.
The other consequence of this - and the one that probably scares the most visitors away - is that people can’t really be shamed for being what we would consider horrible people. Someone can be flagrantly racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or whatever, and you can’t really harm them. All you can do is talk to them. Things that would garner death threats on Tumblr or Twitter tend to be short, comparatively nonconfrontational exchanges on 4chan. With many people from Tumblr or Twitter, that does not sit well.
Sort of separate from this idea of “anon culture” is this idea of “the Anon” as an individual.
When we get an anonymous hate comment on Tumblr or something, we know that person has an actual identity they are hiding. It becomes a guessing game as we speculate who they “really are”,
With 4chan, however, there is this idea of anonymity as an identity. By posting an anonymous message, you are not “hiding” your identity, you are an Anon. In their art, you typically see the Anon represented as a thin, green-skinned man or woman with a suit and no facial features other than a mouth. It’s an intentionally race- and class-neutral representation of a human - the Anon can be anybody. They celebrate this idea that they are indistinguishable - coming across as one single, undefined individual with a lot of conflicting tastes and perspectives.
This is a somewhat foreign idea on other internet cultures like Tumblr, where individuality is greatly valued. Look at anyone’s Tumblr page - we go to great lengths to define what is us. We often wear a banner declaring our race, gender, and sexual orientation. We list our interests and phobias. We even choose a picture to represent ourselves - mine is a little blue butterfly drawn by me and colored by a friend. Our identity gains strength and influence as we do things that please people, and weakens as we do things that they disapprove of. After posting this, my influence will probably reach 1,100 people, and I’ll do a little dance in celebration of this milestone. But, posting in a random 4chan thread, I would still just be an anon like everyone else.
The World To 4chan
Looking at it from this perspective, you can hopefully start to understand the political angles that someone who regularly participates in 4chan is inclined to take.
In their own weird way, 4chan is a sort of utopia. They circumvent a lot of the harassment problems that places like Tumblr and Twitter have. You probably aren’t going to see someone on 4chan depressed over harassment they got on 4chan. They also circumvent most peer pressure problems - nobody on 4chan is going to agree with anyone else there just to look good. You are also going to have very few people who hide things, since there’s very little incentive to do so. If you feel a little gay that day and want some hot beefcake, say it, nobody will care and you’ll be happy.
Imagine how the rest of the internet looks to someone who is used to that as their background, though. It causes the person to develop a certain distrust. If someone publicly supports a position and a large group praises and rewards them for it, you wonder if they really believe what they profess. When someone publicly attacks and uses social leverage against a person who disagrees with them, you wonder if the attacker really has a decent argument that could stand on its own. The world becomes a vicious and uncivilized place full of powerful, violent people who might be lying or keeping secret agendas, and you want to look into it. You want to knock people off pedestals, jam their weapons, air their secrets, and leave nothing but a depraved and equal Anon behind.
And you see that in what 4chan does. When a controversial figure declares they were hacked or bullied, 4chan are the ones compiling evidence of whether or not it was faked. When someone tries to defend a position with their social standing or identity, 4chan is the first to stand against them, confronting them as an equal. And when someone preaches what others should be doing, 4chan is the first to get on their case if they don’t do it themselves. They are not a unified group so much as a group of people who share a common mindset - that inequality and its associated social pressures are the root cause of problems. They tend to confront people as equals - and if that doesn’t work, they try to knock them down to their level.
4chan To The World
Equally important to understanding 4chan, I think, is looking at the way 4chan is seen and portrayed by others - especially those who actively oppose its ideals.
It’s no secret that 4chan is often viewed as this hive of racism, homophobia and misogyny. They’re this chaotic force that harasses feminists, hacks websites, and spreads the personal information of any good people who try to stand up for justice. It’s this vague, faceless force, and it fits the common perception of “evil mooks” we are fed in movies.
I find it kind of a shame that, for all that 4chan’s culture does to maintain the Anon’s gender, race, and class neutrality, the common assumption is that they consist entirely of middle-class, straight, white males. You see this whenever there’s some clash between 4chan and Tumblr - 4chan is the oppressor; some angry, privelaged mass that wants to make life difficult for minorities.
The nature of an anon culture makes it difficult to get actual statistics on 4chan - these are people who are not only anonymous, but often revel in the nature of anonymity. Race is almost impossible to analyze, since someone will only bring it up if it’s relevant to what they’re saying. Gender is easier though - according to 4chan’s advertising page, the userbase is 30% female - if you don’t believe their self-report, the third-party analytics site Alexa.com claims it to be over 50%. I have a few friends who frequent the site’s (often extremely risque) My Little Pony board - they once ran a lingerie selfie contest there, and exactly 50% of the entrants were female.
Overall, you’re looking at this very diverse community that has its minorities effectively erased by its opposition so it can make a better enemy. 4chan knows this, and you can see it leading back into that aforementioned concept of them seeing their detractors as hypocritical and barbaric. You’re not likely to get any big moment where 4chan’s minorities band together and say “hey, we exist!” because so much of 4chan values their anonymity. Gaining social leverage by declaring what you are is the sort of thing they generally stand against.
Equally interesting is the way 4chan responds to hatred against them. Though it may not be readily apparent from the outside, they stick by their ideals at least as strenuously as Tumblr does. With the recent controversy in feminist gaming, for example, a number of people from 4chan have been watching Twitter and boycotting any company that claims the attack on The Fine Young Capitalists was justified. There’s been a lot of disappointment any time a loved developer comes to the attack’s defense.
Similarly, there’s a lot of disappointment every time a creator directly speaks out against 4chan. I remember a time a few months back when the author of the comic Paranatural tweeted about how nobody should ever go to 4chan. Over on 4chan, there was a rather touching post where an anon described how it hurt them to have a figure they admire speak out against a community they loved. I actually emailed the Paranatural guy about that, though I never got a reply. I like to pretend it’s because he got a million other emails about it, but it’s probably not.
I think the one last thing that is most misunderstood about 4chan is that if you are a horrible person, it can be a tool.
4chan has no barriers to entry. There’s not even a signup process; anyone who wants to can go there and instantly become a part of their community. If you want to do something bad and hide that it was you, you can go to 4chan, make posts about it, and have it look like 4chan is to blame. You will suffer no ramifications for doing so - like any action on 4chan, it is effectively done by “the anon”.
Nothing keeps someone from setting 4chan up as a scapegoat. Heck , you could even go there and pose as multiple people, organizing entire attacks on someone. Even yourself, if you want. This is not a hard thing to do.
The question is why you would do it. Like, 4chan is fundamentally not a bad place. Its one property is that people there interact anonymously - for better or for worse, that ideal of fearlessly being the person you want to be is viciously preserved. It has a very interesting and generally nonconfrontational culture that can still bring ridiculous change or over-the-top revenges when them or their ideals are attacked directly. Between the social equality, lack of fear, and ability to drive action, it sometimes feels like everything Tumblr wants to be.
I guess what I’m saying is: be informed. It’s easy to use 4chan as a scapegoat, or construe it as an unstoppable force of evil, but if you really look into it it’s one of the more interesting cultural designs to come out of the internet. It’s worth lurking and understanding where they are coming from on things before dismissing them enemies.
This is a fascinating analysis, and I’m particularly impressed by the observation that viewing 4chan as all-oppressors is itself erasure of exactly the sort tumblr users usually complain about.
In Inuit oral history, the Tuniit loom both large and small.
They inhabited the Arctic before the Inuit came, and they were a different stock of people — taller and stronger, with the muscularity of polar bears, the stories say. A Tuniit man could lift a 1,000 pound seal on his back, or drag a whole walrus. Others say the Tuniit slept with their legs in the air to drain the blood from their feet and make them lighter, so they could outrun a caribou.
But despite their superior strength and size, the Tuniit were shy. They were “easily put to flight and it was seldom heard that they killed others,” according to one storyteller in the book “Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut.” The Inuit took over the best hunting camps and displaced the conflict-averse Tuniit. Soon enough, these strange people disappeared from the land.
This week, the prestigious journal Science published an unprecedented paleogenomic study that resolves long-held questions about the people of the prehistoric Arctic. By analyzing DNA from 169 ancient human specimens from Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland, the researchers concluded that a series of Paleo-Eskimo cultures known as the Pre-Dorset and Dorset were actually one population who lived with great success in the eastern Arctic for 4,000 years — until disappearing suddenly a couple generations after the ancestors of the modern Inuit appeared, around 1200 A.D. There is no evidence the two groups interbred.
The Dorset are almost certainly the Tuniit of Inuit oral history.
“The outcome of the genetic analysis is completely in agreement, namely that the Paleo-Eskimos are a different people,” says Eske Willerslev, a co-author of the Science study.
It’s not the first time his genomic research has synchronized neatly with indigenous oral traditions.
In February, when Willerslev and colleagues announced they had sequenced the genome of a 12,500-year-old skeleton found in Montana, the results showed that nearly all South and North American indigenous populations were related to this ancient American. Shane Doyle, a member of the Crow tribe of Montana, said at the time: “This discovery basically confirms what tribes have never really doubted — that we’ve been here since time immemorial, and that all the artifacts and objects in the ground are remnants of our direct ancestors.” The sequenced genome of an Aboriginal from Australia also revealed findings in line with the local communities’ oral histories, Willerslev says.
“Scientists are sitting around and academically discussing different theories about peopling of Americas, and you have all these different views on how many migrations, and who is related to,” he says. “Then when we actually undertake the most sophisticated genetic analysis we can do today, and this is state of the art, genetically — we could have just have listened to them in the first place.”
He was laughing when he said that. But he and many others are serious when they say that scientists need to revaluate the weight they give traditional indigenous knowledge.
“This is a pretty common theme. It’s really surprising that scientists and general commentators don’t appreciate the knowledge collection and transmission of indigenous peoples, given the wealth of knowledge about medicine, physiology, geology, earth sciences, wind patterns, ice fluctuations — the incredible scope of knowledge that indigenous people have and have sustained them in North America for tens of thousands of years,” says Hayden King, director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University and a member of the Beausoleil First Nation on Georgian Bay.
“It defies logic that this knowledge they’ve generated and transmitted wouldn’t be accurate and helpful in myriad ways.”
Games with English: insert the word “only” anywhere into the above sentence and consider how the placement changes meaning.
Oh, gosh, people have been posting these with translations into different languages and discussions of why they do or don’t work and it is so cool. (I mean, assuming you are a rabid word geek like me.)
I thought I’d take the time to compile them into a masterpost. Lots of text so I put it under a cut.
(If you wanna do another language drop me an ask and I’ll add it to the post.)
Mandarin Chinese (5/8)
Australian (pffft hahaha! this was beautiful.)
― Lundy Bancroft
read this carve it into your brains permanently etch it into your skulls r e a d t h i s
i don’t know how to deal with this
[Terezi, Rose, Kanaya, Karkat, Dave and the Mayor are sat around a circular table. The table is littered with character sheets and pencils, and Terezi has the DM screen. She is wearing her dragon hoodie. The mayor has a bowl full of broritos and a stack of TABS at his side.]
TZ: OK4Y H4S 3V3RYON3 S3TTL3D ON TH31R CH4R4CT3RS?
CG: I WAS GOING TO MAKE A KNIGHT, BUT THEN KANAYA POINTED OUT THAT I COULD BE A TOTAL FUCKING BADASS AND BE A DRUID INSTEAD. CHECK THIS SHIT OUT. DUAL SICKLES. AND MY CONFRONTATIONAL CHITINOUS WINDBAG OF A LUSUS CAN BE MY ANIMAL COMPANION. [A panel showing the awesome yuan-ti druid with crabdad at his side]
GA: I Am Going To Be Playing As A ‘Tiefling’ Paladin. [quarter panel of the tiefling paladin, Dave’s speech bubble hides most of it.]
TG: yo arent tieflings devilspawn or some shit i dont know if thats exactly conductive to being a shining avatar of holy power like isnt that just like the antichrist rockin up to the apocalypse and being like, nah, im good, fuck you dad im going to join the good guys?
TZ: 1TS 1N TH3 RUL3S D4V3. [The Paladin is revealed in the next panel, a halo behind her head and toting a chainsaw sword. She is a badass. Sparkles surround her.]
GA: She Defies The Stereotypical View Of Her Race And Strives To Prove Herself In A Hostile World By Helping Others And Doing Good Deeds. What About Your Character Dave? [Kanaya beams, Rose covers her mouth, giggling.]
TG: yo check this shit out. i made only the coolest fucking character the manuals would allow like this is damn near illegal levels of awesome im surprised i dont have like a negative five level adjustment thing to compensate for the sheer-
TT: Dave, as delightful as your rambling is, we would like to actually play the game at some point. [Rose pushes Dave’s speech bubble away, smirking]
TG: yeah alright lalonde youre just jealous you didnt think of rolling a dwarf bard first. [The tiny bard has a magnificent beard and a gold chain with the lettering MC PUFF N’ STUFF on it]
TT: After witnessing such majesty, I’m almost afraid to reveal my character. Mastery of the arcane arts and eldritch forces seem mediocre in comparison to dwarven mastery of the ancient lyrical pursuits.
TG: your a wizard harry.
TT: I am indeed a wizard, but my name is not Harry. My signature spell is Evard’s Black Tentacles.
TG/CG: why you gotta make it weird rose. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT FUCKING WEIRD LALONDE.
The Mayor: [Holds up his mayoral sash, eyes sparkling]
TZ: 4ND TH3 M4YOR 1S PL4Y1NG TH3 M4YOR.
The Mayor: [Points to his character sheet. Diplomacy is at the highest rank possible for a level 1 character]
TZ: YOUR CH4R4CT3R R3ND1T1ONS 4LL SM311 D3L1C1OUS, TH4NK YOU D4VE FOR L3ND1NG YOUR 4RT1STIC SK1LLS TO TH1S WORTHY 3ND34VOR.
TZ: TH3 M4YOR 4ND 1 H4V3 WORK3D V3RY H4RD ON TH1S C4MP41GN.
Mayor: [Double thumbs up!]
TZ: YOU B3G1N YOUR JOURN3Y 1N THE BUSTL1NG C1TY OF…[Pauses and looks at the Mayor, who slides a piece of paper across to her] C4NN3TOWN.
TG/CG/RL/GA: hell yes / HELL FUCKING YES / Hell fu- / -ucking Yes.
TZ: TH3 M4YOR S3NT YOU ALL A M3SS4GE 4SK1NG YOU TO COM3 H3R3. H3 N33DS YOUR H3LP W1TH 4 QU3ST OF GR4V3 IMPORT4NC3. YOUR GROUP ST4NDS IN TH3 C3NT3R OF C4NN3TOWN. WH4T W1LL YOU DO?
CG: WELL OBVIOUSLY THE FIRST THING WE NEED TO DO IS TALK TO THE MAYOR AND FIND OUT WHAT WE NEED TO DO. THAT’S STEP ONE OF ADVENTURES, EVERY IDIOT KNOWS THAT.
TG: who died and made you king crabsnack??
Mayor: [Frowns deeply at the word ‘king’]
CG: BY ALL MEANS, IF YOU WANT TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE STRIDER DON’T LET ME FUCKING STOP YOU.
TG: nah im good. im just here to spin rhymes and have a good time.
CG: WELL, ANYONE ELSE HAVE ANY OBJECTIONS? THIS IS A DEMOCRACY AFTER ALL.
Mayor: [Beams, offers Karkat broritos]
GA: Well In A Technical Sense My Character Has The Best Diplomacy Score But Honestly I Just Want To Kill Things So.
TT: My character is not interested in leading the pack.
CG: IN THAT CASE, IT’S SETTLED. RIGHT. SO I LEAD US ALL UP TO THE MAYOR, WHEREVER HE IS. AND THEN ASK: WHAT’S THE HUGE EPIC QUEST OR WHATEVER? IT BETTER BE WORTHY OF OUR TIME BECAUSE WE’VE WALKED THROUGH THE FUCKING BOONIES TO GET HERE AND QUITE FRANKLY, I CAN’T STAND THIS CITY.
TZ: [Looks at the Mayor, who nods.] TH3 M4YOR 1NFORMS YOU TH4T TH3 K1NG OF TH1S L4ND H4S B3COM3 CORRUPT 4ND V1L3, CONSORT1NG W1TH 3V1L FORC3S. H3 H4S B33N S4CR1F1C1NG 1NNOC3NT TOWNSFOLK 4ND TH3 M4YOR WOULD L1K3 YOU TO PUT 4 STOP TO TH1S.
CG: DOES THE KING NEED TO SACRIFICE SOME TOWNSFOLK TO STOP THOSE EVIL FORCES FROM KILLING EVERY FUCKER ELSE?
TT: Ah, this old trope. Is there a princess we need to rescue?
TG: dont break the forth wall rose jeeze dont you know how to do this stuff??
TT: My character is very well read, and familiar with mythology and its conventions. [Smug face]
TG: bullshit lemme see that character…sheet…[looks down at Knowledge: Mythology] fine whatever.
CG: ANYWAY. AS I WAS SAYING.
Mayor: [Emphatically shakes his head, broritos spilling everywhere in his agitation]
TZ: NO, TH3 K1NG 1S JUST 4 M4JOR BULG3TW1ST3R.
Everyone: Well in that case-
[Two Hours Later - all the characters drawn SBAHJ style are covered in jpg artifacts after slaying a demonic horde]
DRUID: -pant- I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS. THERE IS A LAYER OF BLOOD AND FILTH AS DEEP AS MY ANKLES. -pant- AND THEY KEEP COMING.
PALADIN: I Have Personally Found The Combat Quite Thrilling It Has Been Enjoyable To Carve My Way Through These Morally Deficient Monsters.
DRUID: YOU KNOW, FOR A WARRIOR OF LIGHT AND PURITY YOU SURE SEEM TO GET YOUR ROCKS OFF KILLING SHIT.
BARD: chill out tartak do you need me to sing you a song to bring back your spine and make your booboos go away?
WIZARD: Children, hark unto me. The way is clear. We can now delve deeper into this castle of shadow and nightmares. The way will be full of peril, but with our powers combined there are no obstacles we can’t overcome.
[A imp staggers into the hallway. The wizard wiggles its fingers and says some arcane words. It cuts to the rest of the party looking on in horror while there’s screeching off screen]
WIZARD: …Now the way is clear.
[A couple of panels of travel and combat, muffled rapping from Dave’s Bard]
TZ: YOU 4PPRO4CH TH3 THRON3 ROOM, 4ND YOU H3AR M4N14C4L L4UGHT3R 3CHO1NG THROUGH TH3 H4LLS OF TH3 C4STL3.
[The Mayor is shaking and clutching his TAB]
Bard: alright before we go charging into assfuck county magic missiles blazing i feel like i should say something inspiring.
Wizard: Regale us with your inspiring speech, O bard.
Bard: alright check it. were stuck in a castle in the middle of nowhere, getting ready to beard the beast in his lair.
its gonna be hard its gonna be rough but i know that all a you folks have got the right stuff.
were gonna crack down on a tyrannical despot, the kind a guy that would get on with pol pot
were the avatars of freedom and social justice and the mayor, he trusts us
bringin the ameri-canne way to the land of -
Bard: - so kick it barack and lets get the game done.
Paladin: That Was Very Stirring Daveth.
Wizard: I don’t know, I thought the rhyming scheme was a little weak.
Bard: [Double middle-finger pistols]
Druid: THAT. I. IF MY OPTICAL FLUID VALVES WORKED CORRECTLY I MIGHT SHED A TEAR. BUT SADLY, I AM A FUCKING SNAKE PERSON SO YOU ARE ALL SPARED THE SPECTACLE OF MY GLITTERING BODILY FLUIDS FLOODING THIS PASSAGEWAY AND DROWNING US ALL.
Paladin: My. What A Vivid And Not At All Disturbing Picture That Conjures.
[Cuts back to the players]
TG: speakin of death by glittering bodily fluids i kind of have to take a leak so unless you all want to take part in some kind of omorashi bukkake orgy i suggest we get our motors running and kill the big boss.
TT: My. What a vivid and not at all disturbing picture that conjures.
GA: Why Do I Get The Feeling You Did Not Mean That In The Same Way I Meant It?
TT: I have no idea, Kanaya.
[Cuts back to the characters. They charge into the throne room, there’s a montage of struggle against a king with one eye and intimidating pitch black spiked armor. The wizard paralyzes him, the paladin cuts off his legs, the bard is rapping in the back of the room, and the druid delivers the killing blow.]
TZ: 4ND W1TH THE F1N4L BLOW, TH3 CRU3L K1NGS GR1P ON TH3 L4ND 1S S3V3R3D JUST L1K3 H1S L3GS! 4H4H4H4H4H4H4H!
Mayor: [Does a victory dance and sprays TAB over everyone]
TZ: GOOD WORK 3VERYONE! TH4T W4S 4N 3XC3LL3NT S3SSION.
CG: I AM ACTUALLY GOING TO AGREE THERE. FOR ONCE WE GOT SHIT DONE IN A PROMPT AND ORDERLY FASHION, SURE IS A NICE CHANGE FROM OUR USUAL SENSE OF AFFAIRS. MAYBE WE CALL ALL LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT TEAMWORK FROM THIS PISSWEAK HUMAN GAME.
GA: I Agree This Was A Most Excellent Distraction And I Admit That I Was Not Looking Forward To Another One Of Karkat’s Movie Nights.
CG: HEY, DON’T BESMIRCH MY DANE COOK COLLECTION.
TG: yeah no offense crabpuff but if i had to look at dane cooks long stoned looking face for three nights in a row i was going to repeat a long standing tradition and do an acrobatic pirouette off the handle of kanayas chainsword.
TT: This was a delightful distraction, thank you for hosting it Terezi. Shall we continue this next week? I’m game for another rousing fantasy journey.
[Everyone gets up, wanders off, and the Major puts the bowl of broritos on Terezi’s head while she smiles toothily]
THIS IS THE STORY TEREZI (and the readers) DESERVED.
P.S. A lot of people with depression and other mental illnesses have trouble making decisions or choosing from a bunch of different options. “Wanna get dinner at that pizza place on Tuesday night?” is a LOT easier to answer than “So wanna hang out sometime? What do you want to do?”
for me, the best part of the ‘neo is roman’s daughter’ theory is that she joined the team so soon after “spare us the thought of you procreating”
imagine neo walking into the hideout and emerald being all ‘ngh wow’ and then roman introducing her with tons of weird and forced phrasing to ensure he mentions she’s his daughter as often as possible
cinder glares at him like ‘he’s being weird. why is he talking like that. stop being weird.’
but throughout he’s grinning smugly at emerald and she can just see him thinking at her ‘i made that. i saw you staring. i’m not even going to warn you away from my daughter because i know you’ll never be able to not think about it’ and she has to just glare at the ground going ‘fuck f uck’
I was so tall.
You were older then.
Can we talk about Susan Pevensie for a moment?
Let’s talk about how, when the war ends, when the Pevensie children go back to London, Susan sees a young woman standing at the train platform, weeping, waving.
First, Susan thinks civilian; and second, she thinks not much older than me.
Third, Susan thinks Mother.
They surge off the train, into their parents’ arms, laughing, embracing. Around them, the train platform is full of reunions (in her life, trains will give so much to Susan, and take so much away).
Over her mother’s shoulders, Susan sees Peter step solemnly back from his father so that Edmund can swoop in to get his hair paternally ruffled. She meets Peter’s eyes across the space, the way they saw each other over battlefields and tents full of the wounded, in negotiations and formal envoys.
She has always seen Peter when others only saw the king, only duty embodied in a young man’s slight, noble features. Susan can see him now, the way he looks at their father. Once, parents had meant protection, authority, solidity. But Peter’s shoulders are slender, are steady, will be weighed down every moment of the rest of his life. She can see it in him, the unreasonable hopes he had that as mighty a figure as a father might take some of that weight from him.
Their father has one hand on Lucy’s round cheek and he is weeping, for all he is pretending not to. He’s a good man, a portly one, thinner than when they left, but Susan can see the loss in the slope of Peter’s shoulders. This good man cannot lighten the king’s load; he only adds one more responsibility to the towering pile. Susan crosses the space to take Peter’s hand. He inhales and straightens his spine.
"You’ve all grown so much," their mother says.
Edmund is too young to register, but older now than he was at his first war; Lucy, who had been so young when they had left, grew into herself in a world filled with magic. All of them, they have responsibility pressed into their shoulders, old ropes they can’t even grasp for. No one is asking them to take that mantle on their shoulders, and that’s the hardest part. You get used to the weight. You build your world around it, build your identity into the crooks and crannies of the load you carry.
Can we talk about how much the gossipy young girls who cluster in the schoolyard must feel like children to her? And Susan has forgotten about being a child. She is the blessed, the chosen, the promised. Susan has decades on them, wars, loss and betrayal, victory and growing fields, the trust of her subjects. It was a visceral thing, to have all those lives under her protection and to know that her subjects slept safe, peacefully, on dark nights. Here, on this drab concrete, her people are untouchable, indefensible; her self is vanished, her kingdom gone; she can feel the loss like a wound. She has lost her power, but that trust, that responsibility remains. It circles her ankles, trips her in the school hallways.
She barely speaks to her schoolmates. The first few years back, guilt lives in her shaking hands.
For a long time Susan doesn’t want to be tied down to anything (she doesn’t want anything tied down to her, because she has, it seems, a pattern of disappearing). Peter pours himself into schoolwork and extracurriculars. He wakes and works, excels in his steady way, like he owes someone something.
Lucy befriends wayward girls like they were shy dryads, sly naiads. Lucy walks the playground with all the bright, sprightly grace of a girl who could find worlds in the backs of wardrobes, and she finds smiles in schoolgirls, finds enough of herself to give away.
Lucy gives faith, Susan gives effort, time, work—there are many differences between them, these two sister queens, but this was one. But for a long time, after they return, Susan doesn’t give anything. She is a queen who has abandoned her kingdom and she feels that in the very bend of her spine. She will build no more kingdoms, she swears. Her shoulders ache under the weight of a responsibility she will never lose and now can never answer to.
It is Edmund, of all of them, who understands. He is the other who gets angry, for all he holds it in these days. He is Edmund the Just, after all, and weighs each word before he says it. She is Susan the Gentle, because she will give, will build; because where Peter is elevated by duty, she carries responsibility in soft hands, on worn shoulders, pours all she has into it.
It is Lucy who makes things more than they are. Girls are dryads and bullies are the cruel kind of wolf. Trees dance and every roar of a city bus is a hallo from a lion who is not tame. That is Lucy’s battle and she is as glorious as her sunrises. It would kill Susan to live her life strung between two worlds. They go on walks together, Lucy and her effortless blaze, Susan’s quiet sturdy stride. Lucy sings, but Susan watches; the trees do not dance. The trees are only trees.
A boy pulls at a girl’s pigtails across the schoolyard, yanks at the bow on the back of her dress. Susan sees a bully and she marches forward as a friend, a foe, a young woman furious and proud, a kingdomless queen. Susan draws herself up, the scant inches of height she will some day supplement with heels her siblings will scoff at. Dripping majesty, she moves across the ground (crowds part in her wake), and steps between the girl and the bully.
Let’s talk about how Susan was reading a book the day they went through the wardrobe; how she found it sitting, neatly bookmarked, beside her bed the day they came back. Her arms still felt clumsy then, her legs too short but also too gangly. She kept thinking about white stags, about if her mare got home safe, after, about the meetings she had lined up for the next week with the beavers, the heraldic university, the stonecutters’ union. She had paperwork on her desk she had meant to get to, petitions and letters from faun children who wanted to come on a field trip to Cair Paravel.
Susan had this waiting for her here, left out on her little bedside table: a penny and dime novel about a schoolgirl romance, half-read. Susan sat down on the twin mattress and took it in her hands. She remembered buying this, faintly (it had been years now; weeks before they boarded the train for the country, years from this weary shaking moment). She had wanted a detective mystery, but this had seemed more appropriate and she hadn’t wanted to look odd at the cash register.
At school, Susan sees a girl in mathematics who looks like a dryad, willowy limbs and distracted eyes. Where is your tree? Susan wants to ask. Is it safe? Is it blooming? She would fight to keep her safe, talk to her guards, go out on diplomatic missions, negotiate with the local woodcutters.
There’s a girl in the back row, shy, steady, who takes the best and swiftest notes in her very own shorthand. Susan finds herself wanting to recruit her for the Narnian scribe service. She shakes herself, but she approaches the girl after class anyway. Susan reads through wanted ads and helps the girl send out applications for internships.
Or another young woman; this one blazes bright, drawing people in her wake as she chases after efforts for raising money for a new library wing or cleaning up some local empty lot for the children. This girl laughs, shakes her mane of hair, and Susan wants to take her under her wing and teach her how to roar.
"Edmund is so solemn," says her mother, worried, to Susan. "Is he alright? And Lucy seems even less…" Her mother hesitates, chewing a lip.
"Present," Susan offers, because Lucy still has a foot in Narnia the way none of the rest of them do. Peter still holds the weight of his crown, certainly, and Edmund the load of his mistakes. Susan has the faded ink-stains of a hundred missives, orders, treaties, and promises she never got to send. (She wakes now, some nights, full of nerves for a formal audience the next morning, and remembers it is just a literature presentation. She feels relieved and useless).
But Lucy, Lucy walks in light. She dreams of dryads and when she closes her eyes she can hear them dancing in the wind on the upper boughs of the trees in the garden.
It is a stubborn faith, a steady one, harsh even. Lucy clings to things with two small hands that remember having calluses from reins, remember holding hands with dryads and dancing in the moonlight, remember running though a lion’s wild mane. Lucy grins (it is a defiance, not a grace, not a gift); she bares her teeth and goes dancing at midnight under trees that creak in a storm’s gale (she gets a cold and misses a week of school, for that). Lucy will believe until the end of the world, burning with that effortless faith.
This is not effortless. “Such a happy child,” their mother says of Lucy, sighing relief, glancing uneasily at Edmund. Susan is not a happy child, but she is not meant to be. She is their stability, their quiet, the little, gentle mother, the nursemaid wise beyond her years. No one looks. They rely, and it makes Susan want to scream.
“Luce?” said Edmund. “Happy? I suppose. She’s more a fighter than any of us.”
Lucy gets up early in the mornings and goes outside to watch the sunrise while she eats her toast. Susan is jealous of her ease, for years; an early riser, a morning person, effortlessly romantic. There are days, when Susan is angry at schoolteachers, or missing her seneschal’s dry wit, days when Susan cannot find even the most glorious sunset to be anything more than just glaring light in her tired eyes. But Lucy, no, every day Lucy watches the sun rise and lets that fill her. Easy thinks Susan, jealous, and she is wrong.
It is not for years that she realizes how much effort is tucked into Lucy’s bright smiles. The joy is not a lie, the faith is not contrived, but it is built. Lucy pulls herself out of bed each morning. She watches the fires of the day climb and conquer the sky, and dares her world to be anything less than magical.
Susan tired of bullies before she and her siblings had even finished with the White Witch’s defeat. She will stand it no more in this world than she had in Narnia. For the cruelest bullies: she digs up their weakness, their secrets, and holds them hostage. The misled, the hurting, she approaches sidelong, with all the grace of a wise ruler, a diplomat’s best subtle words against a foreign agitator with borders along an important trade route. The followers she sweeps past, gathers up, binds to her own loyalties. They may be allowed to become her fine guard if they deign to learn kindness, or at least respect.
Susan joins the newspaper because extracurriculars look good, and if she is going to live in this world she is going to do it well. She finds she likes it. She rubs ink into her palms and feels almost at home. She hunts down quaint little school stories overzealously, like the detectives in the novels stacked by her bed, like a queen hunting down secrets at her court.
(Lucy contributes poetry to the arts section of the paper. Susan only reads them on weeks she is feeling brave, because, like all of Lucy, her poetry picks you up and takes you away).
When Susan wakes up, these nights, dreaming of ink on her fingers, she doesn’t expect to find her desk at Cair Paravel. Or, when she does, she squeezes her eyes open and looks around at the newspaper room on submission night. The copy editor fumes quietly, a writer hyperventilates in a corner, another clatters away. An editor coaxes into the telephone, talking with their printer, negotiating for time. It is not quite a council of war, but it is hers. It is not quite a kingdom, but Susan’s still a child, after all. She has time to grow into this skin.
When Caspian’s horn calls them home, the Pevensies stand in the ruin of their palace. Thick, old trees, not saplings, not young wildflowers, grow over the graves of the petitioners Susan had never gotten to meet with, of the children who had written her letters in careful, blocky handwriting. When I grow up I want to be as beautiful as you.
Susan, standing in ankle deep grass on the cracked flagstones of the home she had spent most of her life in, has the gangly, growing limbs of an adolescent. A horn’s call (her horn) is ringing in her bones, centuries too late. That call has always been ringing in her, really, shaking her hands, reverberating her lungs, since the day a queen tumbled back through a wardrobe and into a life she hadn’t missed.
Susan stands under a mound, in the ruins of a castle, on a battlefield. Her Narnia has grown out of itself, grown into itself; her subjects are gone, but there is an army at her feet who trusts her. She left, but they did not lose faith. Susan does not feel absolved. She feels guiltier than ever, to know they kept faith she didn’t deserve. She wonders if this is how Aslan feels about Lucy.
The very shape of the land has changed. Mounds stand over old broken tables and rivers have become deep chasms. Her body is the body of a growing child, and her heart is that of a widow twice over.
When Susan leaves Narnia for the last time, she steps back into a world where she has ten articles to review by Monday, an essay due the next week, and a mathematics test on Friday. She has dishes to do and Lucy to keep an eye on. She wants to weep for days, but instead she goes home, plucks a detective novel off her bedside table, and tries to remember where she left off.
Susan doesn’t cry, but she hardly sleeps. That call is still humming in her bones (it always will, even when she learns to call it by other names). Susan snaps at her lioness, her dryad, her scribe; her bully boys flee at her short temper. One of her friends finally takes her aside. “What’s going on, Su? You can tell me.”
She forgot people could give you kindnesses back. “I lost something important,” Susan says, and the tears finally start to fall.
She weeps into her friend’s shoulder while she murmurs comforting things. “I’m right here.”
You are, Susan thinks. And so am I.
There is wind in the treetops. They are only trees.
Susan was the chosen, the blessed, the promised. She does not want to be promised. She wants to promise, instead, to take the hands of brave friends and try to build something new.
The only thing that will compare to this grief will happen years later, a train crash, a phone call to her flat to tell the awful news to the next of kin. Now, losing Narnia, these four are the only ones here who will remember that world. There is a loss in that. There is a fragility in that which terrifies.
After the crash, Susan will be the only one left to remember them.
Maybe it was a shunning and maybe it was a mercy, to leave Susan to grow old. She had had too many kingdoms ripped from her aching fingers to be willing to lose this one, so instead everything else she had was taken away.
Maybe it was an apology. Maybe a lion could better understand mourning the loss of a kingdom than the loss of siblings. Maybe he thought he was being kind.
As Susan grows, her schoolmates stay in touch, young girls who grew in her shadows or strode in blazing light before her (both are strengths), the ones who walked with her and learned majesty from her older bones. She gets letters from her bullies, too, the ones she subverted through threats or kindnesses. Some are fathers, railway operators, preachers, bookshop cashiers. Her girls are mothers, some, or running libraries, charities, businesses from behind the throne; one is a butcher’s apprentice of all things, another battling her way towards a Ph.D.
One married a farmer’s boy with a warm smile and moved out into the country. Susan goes out to visit and they go walking through her fields and little copses of trees. The trees are only trees, and some of Susan’s heart will always break for that, but she watches her friend’s glowing face as she marks out the edges of her land, speaks with her hands. The trees are only trees, but they are hers.
Susan goes home by train, the country whisking by outside. She pours over notes, sketching article outlines in her notebook, deadlines humming in the back of her mind. Her pen flicks over the paper, her fingers stained with ink. This is hers.
Years later, Susan digs up old copies of her school papers. She goes through them, one by one, and reads each of Lucy’s poems.
Cross-legged on the floor, she cries, ugly sobs torn out of her, offered out to ghosts of sisters and brothers, parents, Narnian children grown old and buried under ancient trees, without her. Lucy’s poems take her away (they always do) and leave her weeping on her living room floor in her stockings.
Susan stacks the papers neatly, makes herself a mug of tea and goes outside. The trees are only trees. This is a curse. This is a blessing. She breathes deep.
Peter was the only one who understood as well as she did what it was to be the rock of other people’s worlds. She remembers Edmund every time rage swells in her stomach, every time she swallows that rage down and listens anyway.
On early mornings Susan rolls out of bed, all groans and grumbles, and scribbles down a thought or two about her latest article if anything percolated during the night. She does her make-up on her apartment’s little balcony. Susan watches the rising sun light the sky and dares her life to be anything other than hers.
Companion to this post.
thinking about how latula canonically takes medication and is hinted toward some anxiety/depression disorder and wondering if its a genetic thing and then humorin the idea of latula coaching terezi through these hard times
this plays every time an nge fan goes to hell