Q&A Annabel

waterlilyvioletfog said: Hi Cassie! In your most recent Q&A you said that Annabel is the villain of QoAaD, rather than the person we would expect, the Seelie Queen. I had assumed in LoS and LM that Annabel was the victim of all of this, that her lashing out at the end of LoS was her reaction to being grilled under the Mortal Sword. Did I read the scene wrong, or is there more to it? Was Annabel manipulating Malcolm or something? I’m a bit confused. Thanks!

Annabel is a complicated character, and I agree that it’s reductive to call her a villain and leave it at that. One of the interesting things about Malcom and Annabel is that they were once good people who have been twisted and turned by the tragic circumstances of their lives into something else, something dangerous. But the terrible things that happened to Malcolm don’t justify all the murders he committed, and likewise, the trials Annabel lived through (and died from) don’t excuse the fact that she murdered Livvy and Robert. That’s the type of action that is very, very hard to come back from. Will Annabel do anything in Queen of Air and Darkness that would move her towards some form of redemption? You’ll have to wait and see. What I will say is that Annabel has her own motivations and priorities that are quite different from those of any other character in the series, and in QuAD you’ll get to see more of what those motivations are.

One could make the same arguments for the Seelie Queen really, in terms of villainy — she does what she thinks is right for her people, she is working to free a captive from the King. It’s not as if she never does anything understandable or with an understandable motivation; while it doesn’t excuse her actions, she’s as complex as Annabel in her way. It’s true that the Seelie Queen is a type of villain who tends to manipulate people from the shadows, which is very different than lashing out the way Annabel did at the end of Lord of Shadows. The Queen would never get blood on her own hands; she prefers to manipulate other people into doing her dirty work for her. She and Annabel are examples of two types of antagonists; which one you think is “more” villainous is subjective. 

I understand your question, in the sense that it has not seemed like Annabel is the main villain of TDA. That’s because she isn’t. TDA is a story that doesn’t have one main villain, unlike TID and TMI, where we had Mortmain, Valentine, and Sebastian neatly taking center stage as the primary villain for three books each. TDA is structured differently— it’s a story that has several villains: Malcolm, The Cohort, The Unseelie King, The Seelie Queen, and yes, Annabel. 

Annabel’s primacy on the cover has a lot to do with her importance to the Blackthorns and her significance to the themes of the books. Annabel and Malcolm have been there from the beginning, modeling a relationship that mirrors Emma and Julian’s. They were in love, but that love was forbidden and had terrible consequences. Grief drove both of them to do extreme things. That’s Julian and Emma’s potential story, depending on how they react to the end of Lord of Shadows, and depending on how the curse plays out. The Seelie Queen is no more a villain here that she has been before: she meddles, she messes things up for our characters, she gets them in danger, she has her own agenda. She is not, however, a thematic mirror for our protagonists — only Annabel is that.

There’s no such thing as the Dark Ages, but OK

As a very serious adult, with a respectable career and life, and a healthy ability to let petty shit slide, I spent much too much time last week arguing with strangers on the internet who believe in the myth of the Dark Ages.

The arguments in question focused on a massively inaccurate meme, which some observers of the group pointed out was originally supposed to be about knowledge loss after the burning of the Library of Alexandria, but which some very cool EDGE LORD had changed to be about ‘The Christian Dark Ages’. Please feast your eyes on it in all it’s massive wrongness:

This is, pretty obviously, a bunch of honkey bullshit and also massively incorrect, as many important scholars have noted. As a result, I spent hours of my life – which I will never get back -  pointing out repeatedly that the ‘graph’ in question has nothing to do with reality, and arguing with non-experts about the medieval period.

For the most part – these people were well-meaning. Many pointed out that this was a very Euro-centric world view, and that Asia, Africa, and the Arab world were all making huge advancements in scientific and medical theory at this time. That is absolutely true. White people have never been the entire world. The Chinese had a massively advanced scientific culture by this time, for example, and had been holding it down with hermetically sealed research laboratories since the third century BCE. The Arab world, meanwhile was compiling treatises on eye surgery. Scientific advancement was something that was happening in this period. Europe is not the centre of the world.

Having said that, while it is important to acknowledge that the-rest-of-the-world was making huge strides in scientific advancement during this time, and that Europe and white people are not the entire world, nor responsible for all of human advancement, there was no such thing as the Dark Ages in Europe either.

While everything about the idea of the Dark Ages is incorrect, lets start off with the way the term was meant to be used. The totally ignorant graph above, unsurprisingly, is completely fucking off. Hilariously, the idea of the ‘Dark Ages’ actually originated in the medieval period itself. Petrarch – the poet laureate of fourteenth-century Rome - was actually the originator of the idea that there was a period of stagnation that Europe was moving out of. Petrarch had a political axe to grind. He considered that any point at which Rome – where he lived and worked and had considerable sway – did not completely dominate the world was a BAD TIME. This is not an unbiased assessment of world history.

The actual phrase ‘Dark Ages’ itself derives from the Latin saeculum obscurum, which Caesar Baronius – a cardinal and Church historian - came up with around 1602. He applied the term exclusively to the tenth and eleventh centuries.  However, and very significantly in his use of the term, Baronius was not decrying a state of scientific malaise, or a particularly turbulent political period – he’s talking about a lack of sources surviving from that time.  Indeed, Baronius sees the cut off point for the dark ages to be the Gregorian reforms of 1046, following which we see a massive increase in surviving documentation. Witness an actual useful chart:

When we move into a period where there are more texts to be considered, Baronius argues, Europe moved out of the period of darkness and into a ‘new age’.*

Now this is some real talk. As you can tell from that graph, during the Carolingian Renaissance of the ninth century, we see a flurry of Latin writers emerge, and a lot of text copying. This drops off again until what we term the Twelfth-Century Renaissance – home to this blog’s favourite philosopher/proto-Kanye –  Abelard. (Shout out to my boy.) However, when people use the term ‘Dark Ages’ now, they usually use it to talk about the entire millennium of the Medieval period, and they aren’t talking about source survival.  They aren’t thinking ‘dark’ as in ‘occluded’, they are thinking ‘dark’ as in pejorative.

We can thank the Enlightenment historiography for the expansion of the idea that the medieval period was a bad dark time. Kant and Voltaire in particular liked to see themselves as a part of an ‘Age of Reason’ as opposed to what they saw as the ‘Age of Faith’ of the medieval period. To their way of thinking, any time that the Church was in power was a time of regressive thinking. The Middle Ages, then, was a dark time because it was so dominated by religion. 

The first push back against the term dark ages began with the Romantics. After the, um, unpleasantness of the Reign of Terror, and the major cultural and environmental upheavals of the Industrial Revolution it became fashionable to look at the medieval period as a time of spiritual focus, and environmental purity. Obviously this is a super-biased way of looking at the period – just like it was biased for Enlightenment thinkers to take one look at the primacy of the Church and declare an entire millennium to be bad. I mean, really what the Romantics were doing was just casting shade on the Enlightenment historiography because they felt like it inevitably led to the guillotine. But what can you do?

By the twentieth century historians had moved on from the idea pretty much completely. If you take the time to actually, you know, study the medieval period, it becomes very apparent very quickly that there was a tremendous amount of intensive thought happening. This is the era of Thomas Aquinas – a bad ass philosopher who will think you under the fucking table. Of Hildegard of Bingen – who basically founded scientific natural history in the German speaking lands. Hell, like we talked about last week Rogerius and Giles of Corbeil were throwing it down for major medical advancement. There was a lot going on. On the real, without the contributions of medieval thinkers you would not get Galileo, Newton, or the Scientific Revolution. The medieval period was not a period of stagnation, it was a time of progress.

But it’s not just that the idea of a ‘Dark Ages’ makes no sense when you look at what incredible advancement was happening at the time, it also makes no sense because it implies that stuff was going really well under the Romans. We estimate that somewhere between thirty to forty percent of the population of Italian Rome were slaves. The Romans had total bans on human dissection, meaning that there was no real way for medicine to progress any further than it had by the time of collapse – a problem that medieval people didn’t have. I mean even if you just want to make it about religion - the Roman Empire was Christian at the time of its collapse and had its heads of state worshipped as LITERAL GODS during the pagan era. Somehow every edgy motherfucker with a fedora is totally cool with this and thinks it is super reasonable though. Because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Romans were not a bunch of really awesome people living a life of idealised rationality any more than medieval people were all ignorant savages living in fear of God.

Is there a time that historians use the term ‘Dark Ages’? Yeah, we do use it to talk about source survival rates. It’s not a term we use as a value judgment, however. We just mean that we don’t have a lot of evidence to go off of. By the same token – if we somehow move on to another electronic format without converting the way things are stored now, we could be moving into a theoretical Digital Dark Age, where historians in the future won’t be able to study what we are writing now. (And that would be a tragedy, because legit, I would kill to be a historian working on Donald Trump’s tweets in the year 2717.)

We’re now moving away from using the term Dark Ages at all, however, because of the frequency with which it is misinterpreted. I mean, if every basic motherfucker out there who never bothered to read God’s Philosophers (hat tip to James Hamman – this book is amazing) will insist on willfully misinterpreting us, we just ain’t gonna give them the ammo.

What it comes down to is that the medieval period was as vibrant as any other period of history. If you’re going to player hate, go ahead, but please don’t act like you know anything about either medieval or ancient history when you do. There is no period of rational supermen followed by ignorant monsters. There are just people doing their best in the circumstances.

* Caesar Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici Vol. X. (Rome, 1602), p. 647. “Novum incohatur saeculum quod, sua asperitate ac boni sterilitate ferreum, malique exudantis deformitate plumbeum, atque inopia scriptorum, appellari consuevit obscurum.”

Roleplaying A God...


When player characters meet a deity, they’re meeting a being with senses that extend for miles. 

A deity merely has to think of or desire something to have it. 

Its awareness of its portfolio covers vast areas, and its control of the building blocks of matter, energy, and life makes it the master of most situations, particularly on the Material Plane. 

The awesome presence of a deity cows most mortals, and may drive them from the deity in fear. 

Gods seek out mortals who do great deeds that favor the gods, as well as those who threaten their power, primacy, or existence. 

Even when a god graces a mortal or a group of mortals with its physical presence, that god’s attention is effortlessly in several places at once. 

Mortals who reach the home of a deity irritate that power with their interruption. 

They can expect a much cooler (or hotter, depending on the deity and the plane) reception. 

As the Dungeon Master, you manipulate the experience of meeting a god to suit your campaign. 

You can frighten the player characters or welcome them, depending on how you want the characters to feel about their deities, and how much you want the characters to interact with them. 

Depending on what kind of pantheon you have, you may be able to draw inspiration from elsewhere.

Keep reading


In her book Precarious Life, Judith Butler makes extensive use of Levinas’s notion of “the face of the Other,” which serves, for Levinas, as the locus of ethics. As Levinas puts it, “The face of the other in its precariousness and defenselessness, is for me at once the temptation to kill and the call to peace, the ‘You shall not kill.’” Unlike the many ethical systems that advocate beginning with the self and then extrapolating out to include an Other (epitomized, again, by the Golden Rule), Levinas begins with the reverse presumption—that “the other’s right to exist has primacy over my own, a primacy epitomized in the ethical edict: you shall not kill, you shall not jeopardize the life of the other.” The face of the Other delivers this edict, which can be understood as a kind of divine imperative. “If the Other, the Other’s face… at once tempts me with murder and prohibits me from acting upon it, then the face operates to produce a struggle for me, and establishes this struggle at the heart of ethics.”

 — Maggie Nelson, The Art of Cruelty (Butler excerpt here)

Film Analysis: The Themes of Wonder Woman

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

I know I pretty much never deviate from SU but I really loved the latest Wonder Woman film. I just wanted to do a brief analysis because I feel like there are so many themes to unpack in the film (so there’ll be spoilers) and I was pleasantly surprised by the way things turned out. 

I’ll be using images only from the official trailer WB posted on their YouTube channel though, in case you happen to scroll past and don’t want to see anything yet.

This post doesn’t feel like the appropriate avenue to talk about the cast, the sets, music, and colours, so I’ll be focusing on the film itself, particularly on the story. I enjoyed all the other things about the movie but won’t go into them here.

1. Diana of Themyscira 

Source: WBP

Before any other character in DC and now the DCEU, I read and watched Wonder Woman. One thing I’d like to point out is how the story doesn’t shy away from her god-heritage and how that dictates her interactions with others. In fact, one pertinent lens to view this film is that of self-discovery.

Diana doesn’t know she’s god. Throughout the story she believes that she is as capable as any other Amazon (I really liked the Amazons, but maybe another post). She believes she’s equal in capacity and potential. I think this is an important thing to note. Diana didn’t go into war, looking for Ares, certain she was stronger than any other member of Themyscira. She left her home not because of a conviction that only she could do the task but because she believed it was the right thing to do. In her eyes, her mother and the other Amazons just didn’t see the value in entering human affairs the way she did. That was all. 

What I appreciated was that she went on her “hero’s journey” not out of a sense of duty as the only one who could do it, but precisely because anyone could go and help put a stop to the fighting. It then was not a question of who was most worthy, which is a question that excludes, but a question of who believed in this cause.

That agency is important in the story, as many heroes’ journeys often begin with a powerful force that pushes the hero to step up. In this case, she could have remained in her insular life, but she decided to step out of the comfort of the island and into a world she’s repeatedly been told does not deserve her.

In that regard, Diana knows what’s waiting for her will be difficult and fulfilling her objective will be a struggle. That struggle extends beyond the fighting, as even walking down the street is an issue for her.

And these “issues” are laden with our concept of heteronormativity. We’re talking about the early 1900s and perceptions of women at the time were brought up again and again. How she should act, speak, and dress are all moments that were presented with a tension that rubs up against our current understanding of equality. For instance, that a session could no longer be held because a woman entered the room is the kind of dissonance that I feel was intended to come off as laughable, because decades later the idea of perpetuating the same attitude is absurd (and very inefficient). In the same way, I feel it calls to attention present and more subtle forms of bias that the film hopes we grow to see as equally absurd to perpetuate.

Source: WBP

Diana is presented as a character of depth. She is exceptionally strong, learned, and yet feels like a believable character because she is also prideful, flawed, funny, and naive. It’s a good proof as to why realistic movies don’t have to be “gritty” per se. Grit isn’t the magical ingredient; it’s grounding. And in her struggles to understand those around her as well as understand herself, the movements of the micro story are embedded and woven into a huge historical narrative, that of the Great War. 

And I think that’s where we feel all our individual stories are. We are at once absorbed in the primacy of our own lives while living in the tumult of the world at large. Navigating both the personal and the global is the daily struggle. 

Despite all of these struggles, both the physical fighting and the social tension, Diana stays true to her convictions about who she is and what she aims to do. Those beliefs can change, especially in light of new knowledge, which is what does happen in the film as she learns more about Sameer, Charlie, and Chief, but there is a Diana who remains. 

“I am Diana, Princess of Themyscira,” she says in the film. Her commitment to an identity of which she isn’t even fully aware is striking, and that message is empowering to any viewer. 

Because of this, the “reveal” of her godhood does not seem like an upheaval of her character. It is a part of Diana, but it doesn’t exclusively define her. In fact, as she knows more about herself, of which being a god is only a part, the more she is able to succeed. At the climax of the film, it is when Diana declares she fights for love and peace that she is able to muster up the strength to defeat Ares. 

2. Her relationship with Steve

Source: WBP

From the onset, Diana is presented as the protagonist of the film. There is no question. Her first interaction with Steve is her saving him from drowning. Then, she walks in on him immediately after he bathes. Then after they leave the island, she makes it clear that she knows about “the pleasures of the flesh” and just doesn’t believe that having two people sleep beside each other is going to lead to anything if they don’t want it to.

In the earlier parts of the film, their interactions were presented with vulnerability on Steve’s part (danger, nakedness, fear), but we begin to see it in all the characters as the movie progresses. Moreover, we see how they deal with their vulnerability. Steve is a cynic, and this underlies the way he acts.

Steve isn’t a one-note character though. He is complex and has stories implied about him. He is able to think quickly and hold his own in all the situations they’ve been placed. And his occupation as a spy does seem to hit very close to the theme of self-discovery taken by Diana’s character. As a spy, Steve holds on to his core identity and plays with the characters he assumes, never losing sight of who he is. As such, we have two characters very different, but also very similar. 

On the other hand, Diana isn’t presented as a character with gaps to fill (in the form of Steve). Rather, she’s a complete individual on her own, which is what makes her decision to love Steve more significant. It isn’t a decision of necessity, but similar to her deciding on taking the hero’s journey, it is a matter of choice.

The romance in the film feels organic in progression. I think it should be noted that the threat of death and the war ahead may have provided an adrenaline rush that propelled their romance forward, but even without taking it into consideration, they had a very intimate platonic relationship prior that could have believably developed towards the romantic. And again, for Steve’s character as well, it was a choice.

I enjoyed the contrast of Diana’s frankness and Steve’s truly trying to be inconspicuous and subtle in all his affairs. By the end of the film, both had begun to take up the better traits in the other. It is especially marked in Steve as he’d begun to trust Diana and open up about himself a little more.

3. The “Villain” 

Source: WBP

A lot of people I know found the “villain” Ares to be lacklustre, and the ending cheesy. I disagree because systemic issues and human nature are my favourite things to explore in media, particularly media created for popular consumption. 

Very explicitly it’s said in the film that we can’t all point our fingers to one “bad guy.” There is no one reason for war, inequality, poverty, and all of the injustice that we see in the world. There are many people who, and entire societies that orchestrate, execute, and then perpetuate the injustices that plague people even today. Tyrants don’t rise overnight (and they hadn’t in history either). This isn’t the first film to show this, and I hope it isn’t the last. 

I really liked how the film pointed out that systemic and systematic injustice exists. There are specific people who do things that are deplorable, but there are also systems that enable them, and I think that is the takeaway from this theme.

I also applaud the look that was given Ares. Instead of the stereotypical villain, who is bigger, more violent, and appears more physically powerful than the protagonist, we have someone who looks unassuming but is infinitely powerful. We don’t see the usual male villain who is really muscular and that becomes the focal point of his villainy. Instead, we have someone manipulative and powerful in a different way. Instead of the traditional god of war who brawls, we have someone equally powerful but more tempered in that power, and it’s the mark of someone who really has lost everything and everyone and now just wants to start over.

Striking also is how all of the characters talk about the war as “The war to end all wars.” That was the honest sentiment of people during the First World War. Operative term here being “first.” That there were more wars that followed really speaks of how those systems and ideologies lived on after the people who instigated the conflict. And situated in the context of all those who died and lost everything, it seems callous that we would keep fighting one another and causing more destruction. But it is something that’s been done and is now etched forever in history. 

The non-violent message features rather heavily in the film’s climax. When Diana fights Ares, the first thing to go is her sword, the one she believed was the god-killer. The sword is a classic symbol of violence, conflict, and war, and it was destroyed almost immediately. It’s interesting because she clung to that weapon throughout the film, and it gave her faith in her own abilities.

In the end, it is not brute force that will stop the existing brute force. Diana herself put a stop to Ares. It was what emanated from her that destroyed the embodiment of violence. 

In that regard, it is the individual who has to decide not to give in to the temptation of furthering violence and injustice. After all, Ares’ main role in the film was to tempt. That was exactly what he did to Diana and she resisted.

4. The role of Dr. Poison

Source: WBP

Isabel Maru had such a presence in the film, even though she didn’t feature on the screen as often as did the other characters. Back in London, they deemed her the greatest threat. They were setting out specifically to destroy her laboratory. 

I find her character very interesting because we get the faintest sign of a backstory from her and it’s still all very coherent. Her file reveals that she didn’t always have an injury on her face, and based on her interactions with Ludendorff and later, Steve, she’s searching for acceptance and affirmation. There is a subtle manipulation that goes into convincing her to continue creating poisons and chemical weapons.

Even among enemy lines, there is a struggle for her not to be infantilised and patronised, or to be viewed only as a woman in the case of her interaction with Steve. Especially in the latter scene, Isabel is fully aware of this and explicitly tells him she knows. She may not have been pulling all the strings, but she was presented from the beginning as a strong secondary character to the main enemy.

Diana was able to defeat Ludendorff relatively easily, but Maru had survived until the end of the film and was in the climax. What Ares tempted Diana to do was destroy Dr. Poison, and Diana let her go.

In depth: Throughout the movie, Diana was never directly pitted against her. The former’s goal was always to remove Ares in the form of Ludendorff. Then suddenly, close to the end, Ares pits the two women against each other (It’s all a very familiar story). Diana chooses not to perpetuate the cycle of killing and violence that characterises the pasts of so many of the other characters.

5. What it leaves us

Source: WBP

One emergent theme from the film that we get is a loss of innocence. At first, Diana is idealistic and feels her beliefs are clear-cut. Liars are bad. Ares is responsible for everything. Being strong is enough to save the day.

Gradually, we see her belief in these things erode, eventually replaced by an understanding that the world is more complex than it was made out to be. At the same time, there are moments when world doesn’t want to be saved.

It culminates when Steve sacrifices himself at the climax of the film. At this point, it appears as though there is no use in fighting Ares, and it seems as though Ares was proven correct all along. Human beings are cruel and violent and selfish. It becomes so easy to assume apathy. What does it matter what one person does if there are all these people and systems that perpetuate injustice? It becomes easy to give up and do nothing or give up and join in.

At the same time, though, Steve’s loss presents the other side of the story. Human beings are empathetic and altruistic; they try to see the good in others and are moved to change by others’ suffering. It is true that a lot of the systemic issues we see in the movie, particularly for equality and peace, are still present today, but we’re making progress.

Diana emerges with a realistic working understanding of human beings. They aren’t perfect, and they are capable of great harm, but also great good. As she said, she’s realised it wasn’t up to her to save the world for them, but she’d be there when they did make the decision.

In our current socio-political climate, it is almost the default to affect the same hopelessness and apathy. But that’s why the message of love, justice, and peace was anything but “cheesy.” It’s precisely what we can do in the environment we’re put in. It’s something that is in our control, and like all things the movie presents, it is a choice.

I really love Wonder Woman. Before there was Harley Quinn in my life, there was and will always be Wonder Woman. I loved the way Jenkins told the story and I really hope for more like it in the DCEU. So much could be written specifically about the character as a woman, and all the imagery that comes with it. And the Amazons. Countless posts could be dedicated only to analysing their social structure, values, and dynamics. The film was great and it did justice to a lot of what made Wonder Woman so appealing when I was growing up.

anonymous asked:

idk ur still taking questions but im an anarchist and ive been interested in maoism so like whats maoism rly about/what makes it diff than marxism leninism ?

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) is best described as the culmination of the historical, theoretical, and practical advancements of class struggle. This is why you’ll often see it described as the “highest stage” of Marxism. In relation to Marxism-Leninism (ML) it can best be described as a continuity and rupture from ML, meaning while it follows the same theoretical and practical trend, it also introduces a series of new contributions which make MLM a qualitatively different ideology beyond ML. 

So, following the legacy of ML, MLM upholds the advancements of Marxism made by V.I. Lenin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Without getting into them these include: 

  • Marxist understanding of capitalist-imperialism
  • Marxist Theory of the State
  • The Vanguard Party
  • Democratic Centralism
  • The Right of Nations to Self-Determination

(Foundations of Leninism is a good all-encompassing work if you are interested in ML before Mao). Now, Leninism goes beyond just Lenin’s words and so ML includes the historical context of its theories- the Russian Revolution, the line struggle between Trotsky/Bukharin and Stalin in the Communist Party, Five-year plans according to a proletarian state, and, sadly, the foundations of revisionism which laid the groundwork for capitalist restoration in the USSR- an event that would shape much of Mao’s theoretical contributions. So to avoid making this super text-heavy, I’m gonna break them into bullet points (with explanations, of course).

  • New Democracy: In countries oppressed by imperialism, the material conditions for socialism and the development of the productive forces can not be completed by the bourgeoisie because of conflicting class interests. This necessitates that proletariat form a United Front of several classes against imperialism with the Communist Party at the helm. The New Democratic Revolution allows for a “telescoping” of a bourgeois revolution and proletarian revolution so as to rapidly free a country from imperialism and develop productive forces so as to smash feudal and colonial relations, carry out an agrarian revolution, and prepare for socialist construction. This is only applicable in countries that are oppressed by imperialism. [X]
  • Mass Line: A method of organizing where members of the Communist Party listen to the concerns/wants of the masses, study them under revolutionary theory, and formulate concrete solutions which are then propagated among the masses. It can be summed up with the phrase “from the masses, to the masses”. This was not only to ensure that the Communist Party maintains a political line in touch with their base, but to ensure that the theory of the Party was based on practical experience and investigation. [X]
  • The Permanence (or Law) of Contradiction: Contradictions are a fundamental element of nature and society. Some are antagonistic or violent, some are non-antagonistic. Some take primacy over others (such as the contradiction between imperialism and oppressed nations being primary over the contradiction between proletariat and bourgeoisie). Mao explained that dialectics has one fundamental law- the unity and struggle of opposites- with the other laws being expressions of this main one. Mao saw that struggle is constant and unity is temporal- this can be summed up with the phrase “one divides into two”, showing the process of conflict/change inherent in all things and the fact that contradictions will continue even after unity is achieved. This was a break from the previously dominant trend of Marxist philosophy which essentially said “two combine into one”. [X]
  • Protracted People’s War (PPW): The armed branch of the Party, the People’s Army, should be deeply entrenched within the masses. PPW covers a general three-stage process. The first, strategic defensive, is the establishment of base areas and the building of dual power (a concept originally developed by Lenin in his work “On Dual Power”), while revolutionaries avoid directly engaging the state and warfare is done very sporadically. The second stage, strategic equilibrium, happens when the proletarian power built in base areas rivals the power of the current bourgeois state. The third, strategic offensive, involves the capturing of larger bases of power by the People’s Army and eventually conquer state power on a nation-wide scale. Did you notice those three things i put in bold? Those are what Mao called the 3 “magic weapons” of the proletariat in revolution. This method of revolution differs from the insurrectionist method (where the urban workers rise up during a period of crisis allowing them to seize state power) and the focoist method (employed famously in the Cuban Revolution where guerrillas do not have an explicit contact with the masses). [X] [X] [X]
  • Cultural Revolution: The recognition that the bourgeois ideological superstructure lingers under socialism is one that derives from Mao’s recognition that class struggle continues under socialism (Mao even said it intensifies). While the system of ownership changed with socialist revolution, another revolution should be launched to help change the ideological superstructure, to fight for proletarian ideological supremacy over the bourgeoisie. [X]
  • Class Struggle under Socialism and that Socialism is not a distinct Mode of Production: Socialism is not a mode of production like capitalism, feudalism, or communism. It is a transitional society where the proletariat holds state power and there is social ownership of property commanded by economic planning. Because of these many contradictions that continue after a revolution (as one divides into two, remember) socialism cannot be considered a completely separate mode of production, only as a transitionally dominant mode of production and set of social relations, still bound up in the class struggle. Many MLs and other socialists focus solely on the legal form of ownership- i.e. who actually owns the means of production (the state or private entities). But this legalistic separation was never professed by Marx or Lenin. This mechanistic view of socialism leads towards forms of revisionism like the “theory of productive forces” which was the justification for capitalist restoration in both the USSR and China. Maoists stress the importance of the relations of production over the ownership or development of productive forces. For Maoists, what is most important is political line- whether or not proletarian politics are in command or not. [X] [X] [X]

MLM extends beyond just Mao however. The recognition of the qualitative advancement of his contributions by the Peruvian Communist Party and the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement in the late 80s and early 90s- the period in which “actually existing socialism” was collapsing- stands to show that MLM is the principal, preeminent force of revolution in our current era.

Here is some further reading for anyone interested, as well as the links i included throughout the answer:

So if my historical sources are telling me the truth…

…and I’m synthesizing the history properly…

…then, in fact, the entire edifice of Western civilization – all the cultural, social, and philosophical structures that define the world in which we live today – can be traced back to a stupid loophole in Roman inheritance law.

NOTE: Everything here is taken either from Francis Fukuyama’s The Origins of Political Order or from a Livejournal post by the Infamous Brad that I am currently unable to find.  I get credit for absolutely nothing, except noticing the connection between Section II and Section III. 

Keep reading

sokkasfriendlymushroom  asked:

¡Hola, Cassie! I have a question about Julian and Cristina. They've been my favorite characters. Julian, so sweet, suffering and sad; and Cristina, that I felt it as the heart of the book and its characters. But as I read TDA, I had the impression that Cristina and Julian haven't developed any friendship. A pleasant companionship, perhaps, but not friendship. So, we'll can see a deep friendship between Julian and Cristina in LoS? Muchos besos.

I’m delighted you like Jules and Cristina! I would say pleasant companionship describes it pretty well. Which isn’t to say that they will never deepen their friendship, but Julian has exactly one friend: Emma, who he trusts because he has known her all his life. Right now, under the burden of all his secrets, it is nigh impossible for him to make friends outside his family. As for Cristina, she is Emma’s friend, her very close friend, the person in whom Emma confides about Julian. It would be very difficult for Cristina to become Julian’s deep friend and retain Emma’s total trust and confidence.

 It’s totally normal to want your favorite characters to be friends, but characters do have loyalties and come with previous baggage. There is a primacy of other relationships in Cristina’s life — Jaime; Mark; Emma; Kieran; Diego, all of whom are deeply enmeshed in her life in LoS. Not to say she and Julian won’t be friends, just to say there’s a reason for their distance.

The Goddess and God

Wiccan views of divinity are generally theistic, and revolve around a Goddess and a God, thereby being generally dualistic, (with the Goddess given primacy or exclusivity in Dianic Wicca). Some Wiccans are polytheists, believing in many different deities taken from various ‘pagan’ pantheons, while others would believe that all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and all the Gods one God. Some Wiccans are both duotheistic and polytheistic, in that they honor diverse pagan deities while reserving their worship for the Wiccan Goddess and Horned God, whom they regard as the supreme deities. Some see divinity as having a real, external existence; others see the Goddesses and Gods as archetypes or thought forms within the collective consciousness.


Traditionally in Wicca, the Goddess is seen as the Triple Goddess, meaning that she is the maiden, the mother and the crone. Some Wiccans have a monotheistic belief in the Goddess as One, excluding the God from their worship.


In Wicca, the God is seen as the masculine form of divinity, and the polar opposite, and equal, to the Goddess.The God is traditionally seen as the Horned God or Green Man. 

.At different times of the Wiccan year the God is seen as different personalities. He is sometimes seen as the Oak King and the Holly King, who each rule for half of the year each. Another view of the God is that of the sun god, who is particularly revered at the sabbat of Lughnasadh. Many Wiccans see these many facets, as all aspects of the same God, but a minority view them as separate polytheistic deities.

The first Wiccan authors were Traditionalists who had taken oaths to not make the names of their gods public. As such, they used a variety of descriptions, including simply “God and Goddess.”

Since different Wiccans worship different deities, books often continue to use these terms to reflect whatever pair you are personally following. The concepts are also useful in discussing metaphorical concepts revolving around gender.

Some Wiccans simply address their deities as God and Goddess, either because they haven’t found suitable names, or they see them as the sum of other deities: all gods are aspects of one god and all goddesses are aspects of one goddess. For a variety of reasons, this view has become widely popular in Eclectic Wiccan literature, giving many the erroneous impression that it is the only view of deity that Wiccans have.



Oprah’s Life Class: Gavin de Becker’s Safety Tip for Women

“As a woman, how many times have you been in a situation where you did walk to the parking lot late at night, or get on an elevator in a building, and a strange man got on the same elevator, and you felt ‘this is not good’, but allowed yourself to stay there because you wanted to be nice?”

See also: Living With Violence (with Gavin de Becker): “the primacy of human intuition in the prediction and prevention of violence”

Remember Firestar Doesn’t Like Waffles, Jane? I remember Firestar Doesn’t Like Waffles. Fuck the picture on this post, I want to talk about Firestar Doesn’t Like Waffles. Warriors videos were simpler back then, in 2013. They stood for something. And that something was nothing. Warriors videos just were. “Firestar doesn’t like waffles.” An undeniably true, self-reflexive statement. Water is wet, fire is hot, and for the last time, Graystripe, Firestar doesn’t know what a waffle is. Warriors videos were floating signifiers without signifieds, meaningful in their meaninglessness. Nobody made Warriors videos, they just arose through spontaneous generation; Athena being birthed, fully formed, from her own skull.

You could talk about them around the proverbial water cooler, taking comfort in their absurdity. “Hey, flightfootwarrior, have you seen that animation of Firestar? They call it Firestar Doesn’t Like Waffles because Firestar doesn’t like waffles!” “Ha ha, sounds like good fun, tribbleofdoom! That reminds me, I need to show you this series I found the other day; it contains numerous animated fighting cats in the forest. It’s called — you’ll never believe this — Warriors Of The Forest!” And then flightfootwarrior and tribbleofdoom went on to have a wonderful friendship based on the comfortable banality of self-evident animated animals.

But then 2014 came, and along with it came MAPS, and everything was forever ruined. It was hubris, Jane. We did it to ourselves. The minute we added collaborative narratives and artistic direction, it all went to shit. Suddenly warriors videos had an excess of information to be parsed. It wasn’t just a six frame animation of a cat, perhaps with Gerard Way bangs and default Windows Movie Maker title text appended to it; now the cat spoke to us via unified color palettes and painstakingly animated, visual allegories in the frame itself. It referred to narrative depth that existed in our world but not in the world of Erin Hunter, rupturing the boundary between the two. The cat wanted something. Which forced us to recognize that what it wanted was us, was our labor. WE are the MAP parts, Jane, and we always were. But by the time we realized this, it was too late. We were slaves to the very MAPs that we had created. We toiled to earn the privilege of being distracted by them. They fiddled while Rome burned, and we threw ourselves into the fire so that we might watch a Warriors rendition of the entire Hamilton soundtrack. The MAPs had us. Or, rather, they had us animating Onestar like tomorrow won’t arrive, like we need it to survive, every second we’re alive, every second we’re alive.

It goes right back to Phaedrus, really. The Plato dialogue. (You read that, right?) Back in the innocent days of 2013, we naïvely thought that the grapheme had subjugated the phoneme, that the belief in the primacy of the spoken word was an ancient and backwards folly on par with MS Paint recolors, or practicing phrenology, or thinking that Three Days Grace was good. Fucking Three Days Grace. But we were wrong. About the phoneme, I mean. The trickster god Theuth came to us again, this time in the guise of an open, 45 part MAP. The MAP hungered, and so did Theuth. We’d already taken Erin Hunter’s writing, so this time he offered us a new choice disguised as a gift. And we greedily took it, again oblivious to the consequences. To borrow the parlance of a contemporary song, his pharmakon was the animal we have become.

Pharmakon, φάρμακον, the Greek word that means both “poison” and “cure,” but, because of the limitations of the English language, can only be translated one way or the other depending on the context and the translator’s whims. No possible translation can capture the full implications of a Greek text including this word. In the Phaedrus, writing is the pharmakon that the trickster god Theuth offers, the toxin and remedy in one. With writing, man will no longer forget; but he will also no longer think. A double-edged (s)word, if you will. But the new iteration of the pharmakon is the MAP. Specifically, the post-Reflektor MAPscape of 2014 onward. And it was the MAP language that did it, Jane. The addition of parts and deadlines and artistic direction twisted the remedy into a poison, flipped the pharmakon on its invisible axis.

Firestar doesn’t like waffles. Language is language. Pharmakon is pharmakon. The phoneme topples the grapheme, witches ride through the night, our skulls hide secret messages on their surfaces, Three Days Grace is good after all. I will not die, I’ll wait here for you. I feel alive, when you’re beside me. I will not die, I’ll wait here for you.

In my time of dying.