and how much comes from not believing in the fantasy of what 'real' heroism is all about

Why Smart People Join Cults

My stomach is tight and my mood is grim. I just finished watching Going Clear, an excellent documentary on the cult of Scientology.

I’m always deeply grateful when an ex-cult member shares their personal, painful, even shameful story. They do so at great personal risk, and to add insult to injury, many are swift to laugh at them. “Who are the dopes who buy into this stuff?” one Internet commentator wrote. After all, Scientology is a ridiculous story concocted in order to exploit people for money and sex. Satirists are quick to quip, “So it’s basically Christianity!”

It apparently comes as a surprise to a lot of people that you can be intelligent, educated, and in a cult. I personally think that every last one of us believes something false, but beyond that, there’s a good reason so many otherwise normal people sign up – and I think we’re going to see many more join cults in the next few decades.

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Commission: Sweet Dreams

Pairing: Jane Shepard/Garrus Vakarian

Fandom: Mass Effect

For: @gottahavemoremasseffect

Prompt: Shakarian with some nightmares/cuddles.

Word Count: 4,074

(I really hope you enjoy it! It was a pleasure to explore the Shakarian relationship. The cuddles kind of featured at the end, but I wanted to really establish their trust in one another, too. Thank you for commissioning me, so much! Fic is under the cut!)

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1-ayla-jones-1  asked:

Hey! 😊 I've seen that you've been blogging about the Stormlight Archive and I've been wondering if I should pick it...I've heard of it before but I'm hesitant on starting it.

Hello friend!

The short answer to this: YES. PICK IT UP. 
(If you are satisfied with the short answer I suggest you stop reading now because I… ahem… May have been a little too enthusiastic when someone from the SJM fandom showed interest in this book series.)

Since I have feelings about this series I also have a long answer:
I don’t know what you usually read so I went a little stalker on you and checked your profile and it said you love Outlander and GoT (as well as worship at the feet of our Goddess SJM). Now I don’t know if this means you are mainly into the shows or have read the books too? The reason I bring this up because Stormlight Archive is more similar to those books than SJM’s. They are just as good as SJM’s but they are very different too. 

Basically, Stormlight Archive is Epic Fantasy. It’s not YA or NA. So the scope is bigger and when I say bigger I mean BIG. HUGE. Brandon Sanderson is a master when it comes to worldbuilding, religions, history, plot twists and unique magic systems. I love his magic systems because it’s not just this untangible mysterious thing (that works amazingly in some books, but his approach is refreshing), there is rules and conditions and as you learn more you can wrap your head around the workings of it? It makes you feel like this is your world too, like you’re not just a visitor. It is incredible.

Why you should read Stormlight Archive: 

  • The worldbuilding. It’s unique and stunning and captivating, and not only the geography but the evolution of their geography and the history of the world and the religions are so well thought out and presented.
  • The magic. It is so different to everything else I have read and so cool.
  • The cursewords and expressions that are their very own. 
  • Not one “race” or people on Roshar (the name of the world in stormlight) is what we would call white. Not one. 
  • The concept of race is discussed and acknowledged as problematic in this world. “Lighteyes” are basically “White people”.
  • The female characters. Brandon Sanderson is a white, middle aged, mormon, american man. And I did not have the highest hopes for his female characters. Maybe he would have a tomboy girl in there who was sexy, kickass, a warrior, sassy, kind and superintelligent all in one!!!! (god I am bored with characters who “has it all”) GUESS HOW WRONG I WAS.  He has written some of the most amazing female characters I have read. We have ladies who kick physical ass so thoroughly it’s not even funny. We have ladies who are so fierce in their independence and intellectuality they scare me (and I love it). We have ladies who are survivors and will do what it takes even if they know nothing of the world yet but they will do what they have to. We have ladies who are thieves and are sneaky little things. We have female engineers. And we have regal ladies who knows themselves and what they want in the world, and goes for it. There is not one kind of kick ass lady, and not two kinds. But so many and they are all multifaceted and have their own stories and personalities. 
  • The male characters. Holy moly. They have depth and emotions and they’re not just supermen.They are pretty super, but there is also real personality there. 
  • The plots and twists and foreshadowing and planning is mindblowing. Sanderson and SJM would get along swimmingly. 
  • The romance. Sanderson’s romances/love stories are quiet things. They are not the thing of SJM’s books (few romances are), but that does not make them less important. They are slow and quiet but so so so so beautiful and well written. 
  • THE WRITING. It is gorgeous and beautiful and insightful and funny as hell. Some of the quotes from these books are unbelivable. I will gift you a few quotes that is not spoilery: 

    The same man who wrote this: 
    “Ah, the outdoors,’ Shallan said. ‘I visited that mythical place once.”

    Also wrote this: 
    “Can you feel it? Something just changed. I believe that’s the sound the world makes when it pisses itself.” 

    And also wrote this: 
    “Weakness can imitate strength if bound properly, just as cowardice can imitate heroism if given nowhere to flee.” 

    Sanderson’s writing is not only beautiful but it also grabs hold of your heart when you are not looking and then squeezes that heart into a million shattered little pieces. And you will just be like WHAT? WHEN? HOW? DID THIS HAPPEN? Because he does it so sneakily. You’re just minding your own business trying to read and then all of a sudden you love these characters so much and they feel so real and you have no idea when that happened but oh my god.

I am sorry this turned into the longest answer ever. But there you have it. Stormlight Archive might take a little more commitment because it is epic fantasy and could take a little while to get into depending on how used to that genre you are, but it is worth it to experience Sanderson’s writing.

I promise, I will answer your next question with a MUCH shorter answer, if I have not already scared you away, haha. x

anonymous asked:

How do you think Regina really feels about Belle?


Ugh, I wish the writers would spend any time on that relationship at all, because damn is it interesting. 

Essentially, Belle and Regina are two sides of the same coin: they both believe that they alone see Rumplestiltskin for what he really is. But they see two completely different people. 

Rumple is absolutely central to both of their lives, and how they came to be who they are now, as of season 6. Belle is the woman he loves, who he shows his best to and who expects him to try and be good; Regina’s the woman he abused, who he showed his worst to and who expects nothing else. And that colours her whole view of Belle. 

Honestly, I think Regina sees Belle as a very naive, emotionally young woman with no grasp of the real world, who loves Rumple because she’s too blinkered to see him for the monster he really is. I think part of her sees in Belle the same blind trust in Rumple that Regina herself had for a long time, trust he abused to turn her into the Evil Queen. She believes Belle loves Rumple because Belle is inventing something good in him that doesn’t really exist, seeing what she wants to see. She didn’t believe until Neverland that Rumple was capable of love, and once she realises he is, Belle just graduates from ‘pawn’ to ‘super-useful pawn’ when she needs to act against Rumple. 

Their whole relationship has been defined by their first meeting on the road in Skin Deep. Belle is cautious of her, but listens to Regina when she manipulates her to get one-up on Rumple. Belle is trusting, optimistic, hooked on the ideal of bravery and heroism, and deeply in love with Rumple. Belle believes in love, and - at the time - Regina believed love to be weakness. Her treatment of Belle is a perfect example of Regina reinforcing that belief in herself: Belle’s love for Rumple is what brings her into contact with Regina, and turns her into a bargaining chip Regina can keep locked away for when she’s useful. In Skin Deep, Belle’s love for Rumple makes the pair of them weak in Regina’s eyes - it makes them both emotional and susceptible to Regina’s manipulations.

I don’t think that perception of Belle ever really changes, even after Belle confronts her in s3. Partly because Regina can’t allow it to, and partly because despite her outburst, Belle’s love for Rumple makes Belle cave. Belle believes Regina’s apology (weak and manipulative as it is) and leaves it at that. Belle is a weakling twice over, because now she can’t even hold a proper grudge. Belle is weak and naive by virtue of being trusting, loving, and forgiving. 

But then, Snow White, David, and Henry show all of those qualities, and Regina perceives these (especially these days) as their best qualities. So why is Belle different? Well now, knowing as we do that there was always a part of Regina that wanted a sexual/romantic relationship with Rumple (the Evil Queen) her treatment of Belle becomes more complicated. Belle is not just a young, naive girl who loved a monster and got hurt for it: the woman Rumple loves. Belle is not the only woman he’s ever brought to live in his castle - Regina and Zelena both also fit that description - but she’s the only one he fell in love with. He’s never tried to corrupt her or destroy her, or use her for his own selfish purposes. His relationship to Belle is loving and selfless: a direct contradiction to his abuse of Regina.

Honestly, never saw Zelena as more than a nuisance, and his relationship to Regina - while complex and interesting, with definite potential for growth - was essentially loveless. He couldn’t see her as a lover or as a daughter - two roles she desperately wanted to fill with him, hopefully not at once although some of EQ’s lines will never leave my brain - because - as we see with Belle and Bae - he can’t bring himself to use or hurt the people he loves. She was a pawn to him - he said it himself in ‘Changelings’ - but she never accepted that. Belle was never a pawn. Belle wasn’t even on the board. 

What it comes to is that Regina believes she alone knows Rumple, because she was exposed the longest to his darkness and his corruption. 

So much of Regina is built on her relationship with Rumple, and so in true Stockholm Syndrome fashion, she believed that they had a deep, special bond that no one else could come close to. To preserve that delusion, she had to believe that what she knew of Rumple - the cruel, corruptive monster - was the truth of him. That it matched and belonged with the cruel, corruptive monster he awakened in her. If Rumple’s cruelty is a mask - if a good man lurks beneath - then what is she? She’s false, she’s built on a lie, she’s alone and there’s no one out there who can understand her. Therefore, she has to believe she knows him better than anyone, when really she barely knows him at all. 

You only have to look at the EQ’s sneering about Belle to see the evidence of that. Belle does see the truth of Rumple (when she’s not being manipulated by Black Fairy Dream Baby), and expects him to push through his worse impulses and be the good man she sees in him. She is disappointed and hurt when he fails, because she knows he’s better than his destructive impulses. 

This, to Regina, doesn’t make sense. If there’s a good man in there, how could he use and abuse her the way he did? Why couldn’t he love her, the strong, powerful Queen he cultivated, when he could love a bookish maid with her head in the clouds? He couldn’t: therefore, it is Rumple’s love for Belle that is the delusion, and Belle’s faith in a ‘good man’, and Regina’s knowledge of his dark side is the real truth. 

One of the first things Rumple ever said to Regina was “We’re back where we belong: together”. Regina took it to heart. Regina has believed that line, heart and soul, since the moment she heard it. 

So essentially, what we have here is a logical fallacy: Regina belongs with Rumple. Regina is dark. Therefore, for Regina to belong with Rumple, Rumple must also be dark. 

But she clearly doesn’t belong with this ‘good man’ Belle keeps fighting for, and if we take as firm truth that she belongs with Rumple, then logically that ‘good man’ can’t exist. Therefore, Belle has to be a silly girl chasing a fantasy, and Regina becomes the hard-nosed adult who understands the darkness and can look him in the eye. After all, she trusted him implicitly when she was young, and he used that to destroy her. She (at least, as the EQ) believes she knows him for what he is now, and can embrace that.

Ultimately, I think she interprets Belle’s feelings for Rumple as a very intense schoolgirl crush: unrealistic, rose-tinted, and ultimately foolish. 

And, I think that view extends to Belle as a person (if Regina has any concept of her outside of her relationship to Rumple, and her use as a research tool). But I also think those feelings are entirely a projection of her own insecurities and feelings about herself and about Rumple. Belle is her mirror image, and I don’t think she can see the real person behind it. 

why gansey won’t die; aka the lady doth protest too much

this theory of mine has been swirling around my head for about 2 years now, and i think it’s about time i officially wrote it down 

there are literally tons and tons of reasons why i highly doubt gansey will die (permanently), but i’ll try and keep this as concise as possible 

the main reason is largely theoretical, and summed up in the title: 

  • gansey’s death has simply been presented far too straightforwardly, far too emphatically, far too frequently (like, right from p. 1 of trb), for it to actually, legitimately, unfold in the precisely the way it has been foretold it will
  • or, in maura’s words, visions of the future are most often promises (that may be broken or changed) rather than guarantees 
  • historically speaking, prophecies in fantasy genres almost never turn out to be EXACTLY like how we think they will
  • harry potter is a wonderful example here 
  • essentially prophecies/visions of the future are always inherently deceptive/turn out as a result from an entirely different scenario than was originally anticipated 
  • adam. his vision of gansey dying – turned out to be entirely different setting, different person: hence, different scenario than he’d imagined 
  • (also worth noting that this is also often a feature of the sought-for object in quest narratives i.e. glendower - gwenllian is foreshadowing of this)

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I write this after a lot of thought and messages from many people over the course of the last 24 hours.  Other producers have made similar mention of this.  Earlier today I basically said the same thing during a livestream.  But I write it here for quicker access.

I woke up to a world that has attempted to choose hate and fear as its leader.  We live in an uncertain time.  This affects everyone.  There are many people who believe that this does not affect them.  If I were ten or twelve years younger, I might also be in the same position.  I grew up in a rural white community with few financial problems.  When I complained about things, I had no earthly idea what I was complaining about.  I was white.  And my problems seemed so big, but after so much time away from that community and having lost almost everything I ever knew, I learned that things could and do get so much worse.  Not just for me, someone who worries about keeping the roof over my head or the lights on, someone who can’t afford health insurance, but also someone who, after sexual assault, learned very quickly that I’m not quite as equally human as someone else.  But others have it worse than me.  I empathize, though cannot possibly fully understand, the fear and hate that people of other ethnicities see every single day.  How members of the LGBTQ+ community fear even their own family members and the way the rest of the world with treat them.  How immigrants will be tolerated by hateful people who now feel like, because we selected someone who preyed on people’s fears, it’s open season on anyone who doesn’t look like them or believe like them.  

The world is watching us.  This is bigger than just America.  It’ll start with the underprivileged communities.  Then the angry white aging blue collar folks will come to realize that the things they were promised were lies, and their livelihoods will also be affected in ways they didn’t expect.  And furthermore, the rest of the world will react.  They will judge us based on our behavior and the behavior of our leaders.  How will that affect trade?  Travel?  Immigration?  Emigration?  It’s too early to tell, but the world is already in fear of us.  And a large fear I’ve always had is the knowledge that all empires eventually fall.  America rose so fast, and I wondered if I’d see the fall of the American empire in my lifetime.  Granted, again, I don’t know that this will happen.  But there sure is a violent and scary divide happening within our world right at this very moment, and I wish we weren’t in it right now.

I stayed up late into the night on election night, into the next day, to hear the President Elect give his speech.  I cried as I listened to the propaganda, spoken in calm words but with an element of urgency, as if America wasn’t already great.  And using words that were completely backward from everything he’d ever said over the last year.  Using tactics of abusive relationship, tactics psychological manipulators use to gain control over their victims (and, believe me, I’ve all too sadly seen that sort of abuse first hand, and it haunts me every day, and to see those tactics being used by someone whom I will have to call President astonishes me).

I slept much of the day, since I’d stayed up so late.  But I was also emotionally drained.  I had considered so many things.  I thought about how much pure evil there is in this world.  In one day, it seemed so completely insurmountable.  I had spent so much time trying to abolish little pieces of evil within my personal life.  And then the seedy underbelly of the country decided it didn’t need to hide in the shadows anymore, and it showed the world its face.  And I just thought, “Why bother?  Why fight?  What’s even the point anymore?”

But I received messages from people.  One in particular said to me, “Well tomorrow we continue as normal, entertaining people and making sure we can make the next two to four years work in the right favor.  People like you and me are needed even more now.”  

Every so often, someone sends me a message like this, even before these elections happened.  I have had a history with self esteem issues.  My community is very small, especially in comparison to many of my other content producers.  And I have some extremely dark days, battling guilt.  More often than not, I’m pretty okay, and I manage to get through my days without thinking about it.  But then I’ll wake up one morning, and the first thing on my mind will be, “Hey, remember that time you deeply wounded that person you claimed you cared about?  Yeah, you don’t deserve to be happy, and nobody would be by your side if they all knew the details.”  It’s mostly lies that my head tells me, but the best lies have a grain of truth in them.  I’ve hurt people I loved, and if I had the option to go back and do it again, I would have done things completely differently.  But I can’t.  And so I have to move forward and just solemnly swear to never be the person I was seven to ten years ago.  But the truth is, there are people who listened to me, listened to my story, listened to me pour out my guilt.  And the truth is, for the most part, nobody abandoned me.  They stood by me.  They saw in me someone who is horribly flawed and was capable of unexpected things, but saw deep regret in my heart and a desire to change.  And against all odds, they stuck with me and helped me become a better person today.

Because of all that, and because of those wonderful, beautiful, loving people who stood by me in my life and helped me grow and morph into a different person, that’s exactly how I know that my head is doing nothing but lying to me.  And that giving up on trying to be better, on trying to influence good in this world, would be the most painfully selfish thing I could do.  It would be me taking years of backwards steps away from positive change, just the same way it feels like this country has attempted to regress in its forward, positive movements.

And so I thought more deeply about this idea that the world needs entertainers, even such small fries as myself.  And I was reminded of all of the other times that someone has left me a message or a comment.  Even as recently as this past week before the election, during a livestream, one particular viewer told me that they’ve been suffering from depression and haven’t always known how to get through it.  But to be able to come to one of my gaming livestreams to be able to talk to me, to fellow viewers in my chatroom, and to be entertained by what I’m sharing with them has given them a way to relax and escape from the pain that would sometimes try to take hold of them.  

That idea is so humbling, and I feel so unworthy of being that beacon of happiness in someone’s life.  How can something like a livestream of a silly stupid video game like World of Final Fantasy even remotely be enough to help someone?  Aren’t there much bigger problems in this world that we need to look at?

But that’s the thing, isn’t it?  Heroes take a whole lot of different forms.  There are the obvious ones.  The soldiers that have fought for centuries to make sure this country and the rest of the world can live with some kind of hope for the future.  The police officers who truly believe in keeping real peace and aren’t in it for the egotistical power trip.  Firefighters, social workers, doctors, and yes even the politicians who are doing their job because they believe they’re trying to help their community and not because it’s a cushy job with a decent paycheck.  Those people perhaps are the most obvious heroes.

But going to work and performing an everyday service for someone, that’s another form of heroism.  You feed people, you clothe people, you do paperwork that affects the lives of people you’ve never met.  You do the tech support that runs businesses and homes, that if these people didn’t have then their livelihoods might just collapse.  

And then there are the entertainers.

There are those who entertain not because it has any meaning in anyone else’s life, but only because it fulfills their own selfish needs.  That’s probably true of anyone in any position anywhere, though, really.  You’ll find the sociopaths and psychopaths that are more than happy to milk opportunity in any aspect of life, even if they aren’t rich and famous.  Chances are you’ve met someone like that at least once.  But to be an entertainer also carries with it a lot of weight, power, and influence.  For a famous Hollywood actor or musician, your platform is enormous.  Whether you like the idea of it or not, people hold a lot of fascination for the rich and famous.  And so when a celebrity openly speaks up and takes a stance on a given topic, one that they truly believe in, their words carry more power than maybe even they know.  The words of celebrities will influence elections, charities, and more.  Unfortunately, not every celebrity is truly qualified to talk about the things they’re promoting.  There are those who try to publicly speak on topics such as a link between vaccines and autism (when the reality is that there is no such link).  In these sort of cases, the immense power of celebrity also has the potential to do a lot more harm than good, even in a situation where the person spreading the information thought they were truly doing the right thing because they believed in it and were so personally convicted with it.  But ultimately, there are those celebrities that know that, with their platform, they carry a voice that can be used to do such monumental good.  Those are the ones that are worth looking up to.  There’s a certain amount of heroism in that.

But on the other side of that same coin, more than simply having a platform and using it to speak on important topics, an entertainer is a hero simply by doing their job - entertaining.

If you’re an actor, this means that you create worlds and breathe life into characters that otherwise don’t exist.  New universes are born when you take on new roles.  And it’s not just the actors.  The directors, producers, stage hands, grips, concept artists, foley artists, continuity directors, animators, and so many other uncountable positions.  You create work that brings joy to countless people.  And for these people, suffering with demons in their own lives, escapism is the one thing that lets them keep going.  I’ve seen so many folks frown on escapism, telling you to snap back into the real world.  I think we all deal with the real world, but still struggle with how to purge the toxicity from our daily lives.  If that means that someone wants to watch a movie, play a game, read a book, etc. in order to make life worth living again in the next 24 hours, then let them have it.

And in this time where I wonder if we chose hate over love, in a world where I look around and I see fear and confusion on the faces of such a large population of the country, that’s when I realize, I can’t just sleep all day.  I’m an entertainer.

There have always been those who mock YouTube content creators and tell us to get real jobs.  It’s true, we’re doing our passions with uncertain pay, on an unstable platform, and with no benefits.  But if I was told to give only one argument in favor of the idea that what I do is a real job, I would simply say that, it has taken me many years to realize, but I finally found just enough self esteem to realize that the work that I do actually matters and legitimately touches people’s lives.  I will confess that there were times when people told me this over the course of the last 8 to 10 years and I was grateful for the things these people told me, but I never internalized it for myself or took it as seriously as perhaps I should have.  For that, I have so many people I don’t actually know that I need to apologize to.  I was always grateful for your love and your passion, but never fully accepted what a great gift you gave to me, in knowing that my life carries weight and meaning.

So tomorrow, and every day forward, even when things are looking bad, I will continue to do my job.  I will share the things that I find entertaining, and I will talk to you about them, and ask you for your input on the things I share and talk about.  I will ask you to join in my community and share your thoughts and feelings in a safe and loving place with others who are like you, looking for a happy place to escape to just for a little while so that life can continue to be worth living.  That is how I will keep doing my job, and I will do it with more passion and purpose than I’d ever had for it before now.

And if you are any other kind of creator, even in smaller circles and smaller fandoms, don’t stop creating.  If you’re a fan artist or fanfic author or a cosplayer, I can almost guarantee you that you have positively influenced someone somewhere.  Just like the rest of us entertainers, you have given someone a piece of escapism that, even if only for a moment, gives meaning and purpose to someone’s life.  Even adding the tiniest amount of joy to a person’s life makes the work absolutely worth it.

By not giving up, and by continuing to do work that influences the lives around you, or even if you’re depressed and wonder if life is worth living and all you can do is stay afloat and stay alive right now, YOU ARE A HERO.  Your existence has purpose and meaning.  If you were missing, if you weren’t doing your job, if you weren’t providing a service or a smile, or if you simply could not suffer the pains of this world anymore, I can guarantee you that the world would feel the loss.  You not being there to perform your daily heroism would leave a hole that perhaps you can’t comprehend the size of right now, but it would be there.

I am swearing to you, my personal online community, my local community, my country, and the rest of this world, I will not give up.  I have been shown that, even for this small task I perform every day, the world needs me.  And I am up to continuing to perform that task.  I pray that you’re also up to performing your own acts of personal heroism, too.

Thank you, my friends.  Peace and love be with you in this time of fear and uncertainty.