(or rather an aspirational version of me)

#WENEEDLOISLANE: A JOURNALIST’S PERSPECTIVE

So I’m coming in at the tail end of the hashtag-trending effort here, but as a journalist, I wanted to add my two cents.  

Lois Lane, for me, represents the kind of reporter I aspire to be.  I fall short, a lot, because even as a member of the comics press, doing real investigative journalism is tiring.  It requires you, sometimes, to confront your own closely-held beliefs about things you care about.  It requires honesty, and a willingness to look at the facts, rather than your feelings.

But I can look at Lois, and follow her example – especially the version of her we see in the DCEU.  She faces ethical dilemmas, conflicts of interest, and the simple fact that sometimes, she’s the only one willing to care about a story.  He strength comes from seeking out that truth.

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Why Severus would love Rickman’s Snape

I rarely talk about Alan Rickman as Snape, because I tend to discuss the books, and I treat the films as their own canon; equally valid, but fundamentally different. 

But given Rickman’s passing this week, and given that he was one of my favourite actors, I feel it only right to comment on what he brought to the role of Severus Snape. 

The biggest disappointment for me with Rickman’s Snape is his sheer lack of screen time.  I struggle to understand the logic behind having such a talented actor and not making the most of him.

Still, the most perfect part of Rickman’s Snape is his voice:  smooth, silky, dangerous.  Based on those descriptions, there’s no other person you’d think of casting. 

Yet Rickman is far too old for Snape.  But more than that - he’s too handsome, too suave, too sophisticated.  He plays Snape as an emotionally closeted man; his feelings rarely exposed, and his entire persona is literally and figuratively buttoned up. 

And that’s not how I read Snape in the books.  Snape is a thin young man with greasy hair, a hooked nose and sallow skin (although this happens with all of the characters in film; they’re always more attractive onscreen). 

As much as Snape clearly keeps his emotions on a tight string when before Voldemort, he’s utterly explosive in other scenarios.  He’s an insecure mess who doesn’t fit in anywhere, who is manipulated from every angle - and when he tries to direct a situation, he’s usually undermined or ridiculed. 

But the thing that struck me with Rickman’s Snape is that he plays Severus with aplomb, and gives him gravitas.  He’s composed, feared and controls situations effortlessly.  He might be a myriad of emotions beneath the surface, but barely anyone is able to peer past his cool demeanour.

Rickman’s success, for me, is a rather idealised version of Snape.  He grabs the essence of the character, and brings him to the screen in a very plausible manner.  Indeed, if Severus were real and sat in the pub discussing who should play him in his life story, you can’t help but feel that Severus would feel a little smug thinking that Rickman was the man for the job.

Rickman’s Snape is the Snape that book Severus would aspire to be.  And that’s a brilliant interpretation to watch.

Thelemic Yoga

Note: Crowley originally adapted the Raja Yoga practices as set forth by Swami Vivekanda. Over time Thelemic yoga evolved to include some Buddhist philosophy, western mysticism, etc. The steps below are briefly described, thus any aspirant wishing to look further into Thelemic Yoga would do well to read Part 1 of Crowley’s “Magick in Theory & Practice”. Feel free to message me for a link to the PDF version.

8 steps of Thelemic Raja Yoga:

1 - The practitioner adapts an ethic which is supportive of their spiritual growth. Yama, those things that he/she will not do.. Niyama, those things that he/she will make sure to do.. In Thelema this is slightly complicated since everything for a thelemite is relative rather than absolute.. Creeds that buddhists, hindus, etc. use are of little use to us, thus each must create their own which makes sense for their current level of attainment. Essentially it boils down to “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.. You do what is right for you while allowing others to do what is right for them, letting go of any ego need to tell them how to do something or to criticize their actions.. Basically live + let live.

2 - Control of body through asana, learning to stay in one meditative posture for at least an hour until the body is under the control of the will.

3 - Control of prana through the use of pranayama. The breath being utilized as the route to feel/move prana. The body as well as the mind come into a more balanced state with this practice.

4 - Control of mind through pratyahara. Begins by watching the mind to learn how it functions, then applying exercises of restraint on speech, body, then thoughts.

 5 - Meditation of the focused mind through dharana. Utilizing the control learned in pratyahara to become fixated on one object/symbol. Practically identical to the fixation exercises dzogchen utilizes. 

6 - Prolonged dharana without breaking concentration results in dhyana.. A unification of subject to object. The practitioner experiences a loss of self while experiencing a unity with whatever symbol they are meditating on. 

7 - Prolonged dhyana without breaking concentration results in Sammadhi.. The experience is now of unification with the whole of the all rather than mere unification of subject/object. This is a first hand experience of non-duality in the manifest reality.

Note: In Thelema Dhyana + Sammadhi are considered to be varying degrees of the same phenomenon, both relating to knowledge & conversation with your HGA.

8 - Last step, prolonged sammadhi results in Nibbhana/Nirvana.. This is the final step in Buddhist realization/attainment. The all becomes the Not. This is a state of both life as well as death, existence as well as non-existence, The All as well as The Nothing. A first hand experience of utter non-duality. Where Sammadhi still fell in the realm of “existence” versus “non-existence”, Nibbhana/Nirvana surpasses all.

czarrish  asked:

Hi! You've posted a lot of snippets from your earlier drafts, and I was wondering at what point Blue came in. How has she shifted from earlier drafts to the final publication, and did she have any interesting deviations from what we see in her now?

Dear aaronminyards,

Why I am glad you asked.

I’ve posted before about how I began the draft when I was 19, and how hideous hand-written versions of it still exist on this planet we call home. It has changed a lot since then, but in the fifteen years between now and then, Blue remained one of the few constants in the series. Not in the details, but in the theme: her stories always meant the same thing. What do you do when you grow up in a family you respect but cannot emulate? 

In that ancient draft, Blue was an empath instead of an amplifier (which, if you think about it, is really the same thing, just lonelier, because it really affects only the empath). An empath picks up on other people’s emotions and feels them as their own, and because of that, that older Blue* retreated from people, preferring to be sure that any feeling crossing her dash was really her own. When her path crossed Gansey’s in that old draft, she was drawn to him because he had a neutral aura and didn’t affect her. She could literally just be herself around him.

If you’re yawning and/or making an elaborate gagging noise, know that I am too.

*older in many ways, as that early draft was set in college

The truth is that this fairly lame magical power really was only in there because I was an OCD 19 year old who spent most of her waking hours isolating experiences so that she could also isolate her feelings. It wasn’t serving the plot or world or character. It was just imperfectly mirroring my face. That early draft of the Raven Cycle didn’t feature five main characters. It featured five versions of me. Empath Me, Scholar Me, Danger Me, Aspiring Me, Dead Me. 

So why did I change her to an amplifier and why did I give her a curse?

1. Because by the time I rebooted the series I was mainly interested in literary magic only as a tool. I was no longer really keen on magic for magic’s sake, but rather I was interested in using magic for highlighting real-life issues in the characters’ lives. Solving a purely magical problem is plot, and don’t get me wrong, a well-executed plot is a cool trick and super satisfying. But solving an internal problem, making a character arc from beginning to end? That’s what makes a story hurt.  So instead of having Blue retreat from the world because of magic, I had her isolated because she’s a cranky, judgmental person — a character motivation instead of a magical one. The idea was that her shift toward realizing her deliberate isolationism would make her feel more dynamic and alive to the reader. 

2. But I still wanted her hooked into my magical system — I wanted all of the main characters’ magical issues to be inherent to the central magical system of the series, instead of Five Powers Unite! I wanted them to all be the way they were because of one explanation, not because the world is a crazy ol’ place full of disparate magics. Making her an amplifier hooked into — I almost said a spoiler. The point is that it follows the same rules as everything else. It hopefully makes the magic feel more predictable at the end of the day. More cohesive. More real.

3. Why did I give her the curse? Because the only real point to having so many damn psychics in a story is to prove how knowing the future often doesn’t help you change it (it’s thematic! whoo!). And if I was going to give her a terrible prediction (someone’s going to die because of you), I was also going to give her a nice one (but you’re gonna meet your true love)(enjoy your meal). 

But the biggest change was that I started to look at that first question more head on: what does it mean when you grow up in a family you can’t ever be like? It meant that Blue’s family — Maura, Persephone, Calla, Jimi, Orla — got pulled from the shadowy background (okay, I’ll be honest, Maura was never in the background, she was just named Evelyn) and made into humans. I didn’t want them to be noise. I wanted the reader to know why Blue’s love for them was so complicated. I wanted them to know how hard it was for her to realize that she’d either have to remain an out of place rock in a box of jewels, or one day leave to find a place where she could shine for her own reasons.

DOES SHE FIGURE THIS OUT? Tune in for more in next month’s episode, The Raven King.

urs,

Stiefvater