built with processing

A string under my left ribs

Did anyone else notice how Silver referred to himself and Flint as a “we”, when talking about Billy? “Why are we not angry about this?”

Earlier in the season, Flint tells Billy that Silver would make it sound more palatable but that his will will govern. As in, me and Silver would be of a single mind, regardless, but he’s the one with the sweet words. 

“There is no we,” they said. 

And now they are we. As in, one

To whatever extent their feelings for each other go, romantic, sexual, platonic, whatever you wish to call it or see it as (Flint you need so much therapy for that emotional constipation, I cant even. That’s one thing Silver doesn’t suffer from - he’s ravenous for everything. Eager. Hungry. Will drink from whatever well he sets his sights on until he’s bloated with it. You get what I’m hinting at here?) I think they see themselves as one now. Sides of the same coin. 

Different but irrevocably tied to each other. In each other. 

Twins.

Soulmates.

The love of each other’s life.

In communion. 

We.

“I have a strange feeling with regard to you. As if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly knotted to a similar string in you. And if you were to leave I’m afraid that cord of communion would snap. And I have a notion that I’d take to bleeding inwardly.” Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë 

The danger lies when that “we” reverts back to “there is no we”. When that cord of communion is forced to snap. 

Interesting science observation in Digimon Adventure Tri

So I’m a science nerd and I’m watching Digimon Adventure Tri, having a great time, feeling like a kid again, all is right with the world. But then I notice a detail, a teeny tiny detail that there’s a chance the creators didn’t even intend to be analyzed like this. But that’s not how my brain works, so my ticker clocks into overdrive over the long term ramifications in the Digimon franchise of the simple existence of a 2 in a place you wouldn’t even know there isn’t even supposed to be one.

Allow me to explain.

All of our computer and electronic signals can be broken down into a language called binary, which is comprised of the ever popular digital ones and zeros. See, inside of your computer is a series of circuits and paths for electrons to follow through and the presence or absence of these electrons forms the basis for computational processes. Binary is called binary because any given bit can only exist in one of two states; there is an electron present or there is not, a 1 or a 0. These individual 1′s and 0′s, these electrons and lack of electrons, are all programming is. There are other languages built up for higher processes, such as hexadecimal (base 16 instead of base 2 for binary), but even that gets broken down into binary for the sake of data transmission and calculations. The ultimate point here is all computer programs are ultimately made of 1′s and 0′s. No shocker there.

So enter Digimon Adventure Tri. The premise of the entire Digimon franchise is that Digimon, and the Digital World they come from, are solid living digital lifeforms made of computer code. Various iterations of the franchise even directly refer to the 1′s and 0′s that Digimon are made of. But a small detail in Tri changes things slightly. Go back and watch the scenes where the Digimon digivolve. During the animation you briefly see their code exposed and running across their bodies before the process is compete. Below is a freezeframe from the scene that plays when Agumon digivolves into Greymon.

Ok, nothing we haven’t seen before in this franchise, Tamers had a similar sequence, got your 0′s and your 1′s and-wait a sec…is that a…

2? A 2? Why a 2? Oh there’s another 2, oh there’s more 2′s, WHY ARE THERE 2′S?!

This, my friends, is not binary. This is a base 3 coding language called trinary, which doesn’t really exist. I’m sure someone in this world has tried coding in base 3, but with the way our electronics work, that code would still be broken down into binary for the device to function and to communicate with other devices. But what this means for Digimon is that the Digimon themselves are coded in trinary and not binary.

And…that actually explains a few things. One, it gels nicely with the fact that this is Digimon Adventure TRI, so that’s likely the reason it was thrown in there by the creative team. It also forms a nice parallel to the rock-paper- scissors nature of Digimon, in that every Digimon is either a Data, Vaccine, or Virus type and they have a rock-paper-scissors weakness cycle in that order. Each bit a Digimon is made of can be in one of three states (a 0, a 1, or a 2) just like each Digimon is one of the three types.

But I think there’s more to it than that other than these meta reasons. Throughout the Digimon shows it’s been demonstrated that Digimon themselves interfere with electronic devices; TVs, cell phones, etc get all fuzzy and don’t work right when a Digimon gets near them or travels through their cyberspace. This could be because when the devices either read that Digimon’s code or some sort of digital aura that they give off, it starts screwing up because it literally cannot read their trinary data. They read the 0′s and 1′s just fine, but once that third state shows up they are not physically equipped to handle that and they spazz out.

I also think this might be the thing that makes Digimon special and not just like any other AI. Not only are Digimon physically solid and alive, they also are able to form unique connections with human beings and gain power and energy through those connections. This weird unknown third bit type could be the missing link that makes Digimon different to IBM Watson or an actual Tamagotchi, what gives the Digital World the ability to be such a wondrous place.

So that’s me overanalyzing a background detail, I hope you all learned something. Have a great day!

Eyes on Africa - Lagos, Nigeria - Makoko Floating Schools

Makoko, Nigeria

Makoko is a fishing village located in the Lagos Lagoon. Due to the weakness of the nearby soil and its proximity to water, much of Makoko rests on structures constructed on stilts above Lagos Lagoon. Traditionally this area has been self governing so schools are funded and provided by the village. 

The ingenious adaptation of building a structure that floats came from growing concerns with climate change and rising water levels. This adds to its versatility not just from an environmental standpoint but from a political and practical standpoint as well. The area of Makoko is consider a poor area and one of the slums of the city. The necessity to create a school that is not only low cost and sustainable but that also mobilizes as needed to serve the children of the village is significant. Additionally recent land reclamation efforts and commercial developments in the area have reclaimed much of the lagoon from the residents of Makoko. Their homes on stilts must be deconstructed and reassembled elsewhere, while the school’s maneuverability eliminates this process.  

Built in 2013 with locally sourced wood and electrically powered with solar panels, the floating construct is designed to house about 100 students and even has a playground and green space. It is entirely sustainable due to the application of solar cells to the roof and incorporating a rainwater catchment system. The structure is also naturally ventilated and aerated. The barrels used to help the structure float are also used as water reservoirs from the catchment system. The floating schools are an ingenious design that serves the needs of the community in a cost effective and eco-friendly way.


Jon Stewart on being called “fake news” – in 2014

Rachel Maddow: Even though you identify yourself as fake news, and having [it] built with a fake news process, I think…

Jon Stewart: We don’t say «fake», I mean, fake is wrong. It’s a misnomer that we use, and it’s glib. It’s not. We’re not «news» anything.

Rachel Maddow: Right.

Jon Stewart: We’re *commenting* on the news. Comedically.

(…)

Rachel Maddow: Even if you’re not launching it in the same way, it’s being received in the same way. And the barriers between what actually happens in cable news that you’re satirizing, and what you’re doing – we’re not seen as being all that different. Is that worrying you?

Jon Stewart: The only thing that I would say – it doesn’t worry me. I think, I can understand how it would worry people in the news. But I have existed… I am the Highlander. You know, there has been a form of me around in… forever. A comedian who with political and social concepts, criticizes them from a haughty yet ultimately feckless purge, throwing things. Like, the box that I’m in, has always existed.

(transcribed from source)

College Advice

Hi! 

I thought I’d share some tips I’ve learned in college so far (in no particular order) 

1) Understand the Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting. Basically, constantly revise your notes or else you’ll forget all of what you learned from the previous day/week/etc. Plus, it’ll be easier come midterms and finals season when you’ll have to review all the material anyway. 

2) Don’t cram. The brain is not built to process a lot of information very quickly. All cramming does is make you overwhelmed and stress, and stress won’t do you any good. Going along with this, used space repetition, and keep revisiting your notes.

3) Use active recall. When reading from a textbook, don’t take notes. Once you finish a section of the chapter, close your book, and write down notes from memory. Then go back and fill in the gaps. Forcing your brain to think this way best consolidates memories. 

4) Don’t overlearn. If you feel like you understand it well, you probably do. Don’t over-revise, that may sometimes make you more confused. This tip is best if you have an exam coming up soon and you’re worried about it. You’re going to do fine :D

5) Figure out your music situation soon. If you like listening to music in the background, listen to instrumental music, but not music you already know. 

6) Take practice tests. I can’t stress this enough. Ask your professors for some. Google some. Do whatever you have to do, but definitely do them. 

7) Study before sleeping. Sleep consolidates memories.

8) Do you have test anxiety? Write your concerns on an index card/post it note/loose leaf paper/etc! If you put your concerns on paper, it clears your mind so you can focus on the test. :D

9) Vary your study locations. Everyone needs a little change and sometimes this can make recall easier. For example, say on a quiz the question is, “What is Hofstadter’s Law?” You can link the information to a specific place, as in you studied that at a library as opposed to your usual studying spot, homeroom.

Speaking of Hofstadter’s Law…

10) Hofstadter’s Law states that things will always take longer than you expect them to. So, make a home-stretch schedule. For example, if you want to do homework from 12-3 thinking it’ll only take three hours, add an extra half hour to one hour. You’ll more than likely find something else to study. (but don’t forget to take breaks!)

11) Find out what study methods work best for you (flashcards, mind maps, concept maps, etc.) but don’t forget to vary them, and tailor them towards the subject(s) you are studying. Also, if something isn’t working for whatever reason, don’t be afraid to fix it, even if you think it’s too late. It’s better to realize something isn’t working and change that before you actually lose any points. This could be applied to note taking as well. :D 

12) Don’t be afraid to use apps! There’s nothing wrong in utilizing sources. Rather, you should take advantage of all resources, that’s how to optimize your learning, whether that’s school related or general life related. 

13) Go to Office Hours. I did an entire post on this. It will save your grade :D

14) Get a planner and organization system down the first week of classes. This will help you to not fall behind. Especially with research projects. (Post coming soon!)

15) Don’t constantly study. Take a break, go out, have a good time with loved ones. You’ve got your whole life to study :D

Mythic Call

Once upon a time, a galactic council was called and a mythic call was sent out to countless light beings: the Children of the Sun, the Angelic Winged ones, the Sun runners, the Rainbow Warriors, and other Luminous ones from many star systems. This great circle of Light Beings gathered from far and wide. At the appointed nexus, the Love of the Spinning Galaxies, the Great Spirit, entered, gracing them all with celestial light and the following words.

“You are invited to incarnate upon a world where a great transformation will take place, ” began the Love of the Spinning Galaxies. “You who respond to this call will go to a place of planetary evolution where the illusions of fear and separation are strong teachers. I am calling those with the needed talents and gifts to act as my emissaries there, to lift and transform the frequencies of planet Earth, simply by embodying and anchoring love’s presence there. In this myth, you will be the creators of a new reality, the reality of the golden octave. ”

The Love of the Spinning Galaxies continued: “On other journeys, each of you has proven to be a "feeling navigator,” able to awaken your consciousness and align your heart to the promptings of pure love and compassionate service. As Sun runners and torch bearers, you have already demonstrated that you will hold the light high. And so, I invite you to incarnate en masse among the tribes of Earth to assist Gaia and all her children in their transformation.

“It is part of the plan that you will be veiled in forgetting,” the Mystery of the Spinning Galaxies went on. “However, as you remember the feeling of childlike innocence and trust, you will become the harmonic leavening in this cycle of initiation for Earth. You will incarnate strategically, often in some of the most vibrationally dense areas on the planet. To some, this illusion of separation from love may create feelings of hopelessness, lack of support, and alienation. But by embracing your humanness, your love will transform the depths of duality, and your light will quicken the many.

"Your participation on this quest is purely voluntary; however, this transformational shift on Earth is very rare and precious. Should you choose to accept this mission, you will have the opportunity to catalyze and synthesize all that you have been during many incarnations, receiving a rarely offered quantum leap in consciousness. It is up to you to choose how you will dance with Terra Gaia and her children as she completes her ceremony of light.”

So spoke the Creator, the Light of the Spinning Galaxies. And so it was that the luminous beings who formed the countless alliances, federations, and councils of the faithful of the stars chose to incarnate on planet Earth to assist in this crucial event, the awakening of the planetary dream. There was even a fail-safe process built into the plan to awaken these beings from the illusion of separation and the veil of forgetfulness that is so rife upon Earth. The luminous ones who would journey to Gaia’s assistance agreed to spark each other’s remembrance. Thus, these starseeded ones were encoded in many ways with sounds, colors, lights, images, words, and symbols – a vibrational resonance that would assist them in remembering their commitment to the light. It was agreed that these coded clues would appear everywhere: in visionary art and music, in penetrating looks, in speech and feelings – all creating a deep yearning to awaken and become the embodiment of love.

So it is that you, the children of the Sun, are now being bathed in the waters of remembrance, prepared as rainbow warriors to fulfill the promise of the new and ancient myth. By simply anchoring love’s presence on Earth, you lovingly draw down the mantle of the gods, sending waves of healing and love throughout Gaia’s eagerly receptive body. As you emerge in this time, your gifts awaken and empower others. Utilizing the tools of laughter, song, dance, humor, joy, trust, and love, you are creating the powerful surge of transformation that will transmute the limitations of the old myth of duality and separation, birthing the miracle of unity and peace on Earth.

Utilize your gifts on behalf of Gaia. In a supernova of consciousness, Gaia and her children will ascend in robes of light, forming a luminous light body of love, to be reborn among the stars! The mythic call has been sounded. The great quest has begun. Awaken, rainbow warriors, Sun runners, luminous beings from the galactic alliances, federations, and councils! Ancient skywalkers, newly formed in this moment, stand in the beauty and power of your true identity as love’s gift to Gaia. Set aside self-doubt. You are the divine child of the Sun! Go where your heart draws you to share your great gifts. Surrender to the magic and the light. The miracle will be manifested on Earth. Remember, we Dance and Sing here for the One Heart.. 

(The Mayan Oracle)

2

Depending on where you began the story, it was about  G w e n l l i a n.

              Gwenllian stood between the mirrors. The magic of them tugged and howled. The glass was not meant to show so many times at once; most people were not built to process so many possibilities at once. Gwenllian was just another mirror, though, and so the magic glanced off her harmlessly as she pressed her palms to either glass. She reached into all the possibilities and looked around, darting from one false truth to another.

DAY6 Imagines: Once/Twice Series’ Special Chapter (1)

Read: Once is a coincidence. Twice is not. and Once is enough. Twice is too much. first before reading this :)


“How was it?” he asked you with his usual big smile.

You went to the backstage right after their performance. They’re really finally getting some recognition now. Slowly but surely; getting there… at the top. They’re schedule is getting busier, being filled with some guesting and interviews.

People around showered them with compliments while you just smiled softly at him. He somehow pouted and looked away. You caressed his cheek and made him face you. “It was stupendous” You smiled “No matter what you’ll do; I know you’d always do great.” Your hand, from his cheek, went to his hand, stroking the back of it softly for assurance. “Because you’ve always been and you’ll always be. I believe in you”

“Hey, Bob. I think I’m getting a toothache from too much sweetness here” You heard Jae commented at your back “Shall I go see a dentist?”

Brian threw his face towel to Jae “You need to see a psychiatrist”

You chortled as you remember when your friends found out about you. It was three days after the night at the seaside promenade. They weren’t surprised as you thought they’d be.

“Oh. So you guys are a thing now? Finally?” Jae queried when he saw Brian walked to meet you half way and held your hand to walk with you on your way to the usual tree.

Apparently, all of them knew how much Brian likes you. It was just you who were being stubborn to not believe it. But the thing is, it’s not really official. You both wanted to take it slow. Despite wanting to show the world that you got the man of your dreams, you somehow want to protect the friendship. You didn’t want to rush and ruin what you’ve built on the process. Besides, they’re really getting popular now. You don’t want to be showered by bashes and hate by his fangirls.

Few weeks before another school year starts. You’re in a fast food, standing at the counter waiting for costumers. You got yourself a summer job. Just when your thoughts wandered to what Brian is doing, you heard your co-worker giggled with another worker. From the corner of your eye, you saw her fixing herself so you turned to look at her. She was looking straight as her hands were busy tucking her hair behind her ear; pressing her lips together and brushing them with each other.

You know those gestures real well. She’s gonna flirt with someone. You shifted your gaze back in front when she greeted a costumer, only to find a striking soul beaming at you. From having a deadpan face, your lips instantly curved to form a smile.

“Good afternoon, Sir.” You couldn’t conceal your happiness “May I take your order?”

“Yes, your heart, please” You felt your blood rush up to your cheeks as your heartbeat doubled. A scoffed from his back was heard “Oh, wait. I already have it”

You heard your workmate gasped beside you and it was followed by an ‘aw’ from the man in front of you. His head was hit by someone behind him.

“This is her workplace, stop flirting” Sungjin chided as he stepped forward to take Brian’s place. He instructed them to find a table as he order. The boys obliged. Brian winked and mouthed ‘See you’ before he finally walked to find a spot.

“Was that guy your boyfriend?” asked your workmate after Sungjin left the counter with their food, with the help of Jae.

You turned your head and saw her hopeful eyes. This is one of those moments when you wish he is. You couldn’t answer yes because your relationship is not yet there; you couldn’t say no because you don’t want to lift her hopes higher. You responded with a smile and thankfully, costumers came in.

When your shift ended, you went straight to their table, not wanting to be bombarded with questions you can’t and don’t want to answer.

“What are you guys talking about?” They turned their head to look at you and Brian instantly grinned at the sight of you. He moved to give you some space to sit beside him and when you did his arm draped around your waist right away. You felt your cheeks heat up but fortunately, nobody noticed you blushing.

“We’re gonna take a break from school” Your eyebrows furrowed with what Sungjin has said.

“It’s kinda hard to balance everything” Dowoon added.

“But Brian’s gonna continue though” Jae remarked “He’s the student model type of guy anyway. He can pull through it”

You shifted your gaze to Brian, turning your head to see him. He was already looking at you with a tight smile, arm still on your waist, he wrinkled his nose for a second.

A week after, your summer job ended. It was your last day yesterday so today’s a lazy day. You’re just lying on your bed with nothing to do when your phone vibrated. A notification from Instagram that Brian has posted a photo. No one knows you turned on the notification from him, not even your friend. It was a collage of his four selfies. The weather is real nice. Do u want to go on a picnic with me? You silently read the caption. And just how fast you clicked the heart button, that’s how fast your phone vibrated for another notification.

So u’re coming?

You arched your brows with his message.

What?

U’re coming on a picnic with me or not?

You let out a soft chuckle and slightly shook your head.

Why are u asking me tho? Ask someone else. Ur question was for everybody anyway.

You raised a brow because of another notification with Brian mentioning you in a post. It was the same post, only that the caption was edited. It has now your Instagram username on it.

Im asking u

You replied with a smiley emoji and he sent few more messages you didn’t bother to answer and picked up Jae’s call instead. It was a video call. He was walking with Wonpil to a convenience store to buy some ramen and he asked you to come because Brian was sulking a bit. You planned on going anyway, you just want to surprise him a bit so you didn’t care opening your inbox on Instagram again.

 

You’re sauntering to where they at. You could already see them and you instantly smiled just by the view of him smiling. He positioned himself beside Sungjin and tried to lie down but just when Brian’s head was about to touch Sungjin’s leg, he brushed his head off away. You chuckled and shook your head thinking how Sungjin hates skinship. They were all laughing as you pace faster to them.

Your heart melted seeing Brian’s face glow when he saw you. He held your hand and guided you to sit on the mat carefully. As soon as you’re seated, he rested his head on your lap. He’s still holding your hand, he intertwined your fingers together and rested them on his chest. You unconsciously moved your other hand to softly stroke his hair. You saw his lips moved to form a small smile. He likes it.

You looked Sungjin who let out a small laugh saying how Brian wanted to lie down on his lap because you weren’t there. Jae was narrowing his eyes. He hates PDA and there were a couple of times that he really wanted to hit Brian for being so affectionate. You chortled softly as you looked down to see his angelic face only to find out he’s already fast asleep. You chuckled again.

“That’s one of Brian’s, a.k.a. Young K, the master of all trades, talents” Jae commented “Falling asleep anywhere so fast”

That’s true though. For almost a year of being close to him, you’ve witnessed him falling asleep with just a blink of an eye.

Few hours passed, he asked you for a walk.

“Yeah, go away lovebirds” Jae shooed you both away

“Let’s have dinner together, okay?” Wonpil yelled

You were walking hand in hand when your thoughts start to wander. Is it better this way? It somehow doesn’t make a difference because we already seem like a couple. But I’m afraid if we’ll be official, I’ll start to ask for more; I’ll be selfish and greedy and I don’t want that. He’s already having a hard time with school and the band.

“You okay?” You suddenly got back to your senses “Do you want to go back? Are you feeling sick?”

You smiled to assure him “No, I was just thinking about school”

He groaned “I’m jealous” You arched your brows “I’m with you, we’re even holding hands, but you’re thinking about school. Can you not think of me alone?”

You chuckled and you don’t know how much it affects him. It’s like a sweet harmony he wants to play on repeat.

“I’m always thinking of you though”

He just smiled and you both continued walking. You had random chitchat when you stopped near the river. A few number of girls passed behind you but moments later, you heard a delicate voice saying ‘excuse me’.

You turned to face the owner of the voice only to see her cheeks as red as tomato, mouth agape, gazing dreamingly at Brian in front of her. She stuttered in asking if he’s Young K and when he answered, she asked if they could take a picture with him.

Your jaw dropped when she handed you her phone. You blinked twice to recover and bit your lower lip. You took one for each of them, and they were three. And another three shots for group photos. You were biting your lower lip harder than before that you almost said ‘ouch’ aloud when Brian’s arm was on the girl’s shoulder. Fortunately you didn’t. You don’t want to show him you’re being jealous. Besides, it’s normal. Aren’t they being recognized slowly? Yes, this is normal.

You took a deep breath to calm yourself as you showed a tight smile when you handed the lady’s phone back to her. You felt your heart skipped a bit when Brian instantly draped his arm around your waist. When the ladies said their thanks again, he even pulled you closer to him before waving at them. They turned and whispered to each other. I bet they’re asking each other if I’m his girlfriend.

You really want to take it slow. But being like this without a label is kinda frustrating. At times you are contented, more than contented even. But at times like this, you get frustrated.

“Sorry about that”

You showed him a small smile and nodded “It’s fine.” You smiled again “It’s normal anyway. And I must really get used to it. You’ll be known by the world soon, and a sea of people would want to take a picture of you. Shall I apply to be your official photographer?”

He grinned and shook his head and pulled you closer again, kissing you at the top of your head. He hummed a song and swayed you for a bit.

You let out a comforting sigh and looked up to him “How do you even exist? I thought there’s nobody perfect in this world?”

He chortled and reached for your hands “I’m not perfect; just perfect for you.” He raised your right hand; the back of it met his lips. He softly caressed it as he put it back down, still not letting go of it.

You narrowed your eyes at him before you laughed and hit his chest with your other hand playfully. You wrinkled your nose as he let out a soft chuckle seeing you do his signature move.

“Seriously though…” You trailed off and lingered your gaze for a while at his image “Soon there will be countless of girls who’ll swoon over you”

He shrugged “Well, Bae starts with B and so does Brian.” You cracked up at his remark “Doesn’t your name start with M?”

You knitted your brows together and gave him a querying look “What?”

“You’re mine

It wasn’t a question but a statement of declaration. You just stood there; stare was locked with each other’s for what felt like forever until his gaze shifted a bit lower. You gulped knowing where he was looking. You felt her fingers move in your hand as he softly pressed it while leaning closer. It was the longest minute of your life, anticipating for something you know will happen. And it finally did. You slowly shut your eyes and felt butterflies flying wildly in your stomach as his soft lips brush with yours. It wasn’t that long. Neither too short. It was just right. Just right.

You felt shivers down your spine when you felt his soft breath as he slowly pulled away. His gaze instantly met yours. He caressed the back of your hand once again.

“You’re mine” he repeated.

You’re breathing became so uneven as you felt your heart pounding hardly to your chest as if it wanted to get out. You let out a breath as you slowly nodded. He pulled you into his arms for an embrace as he kissed the top of your head and whispered something that made your heart beat even crazier.

“I love you”


Special Chapter (2)

Eight professors from ETH Zurich are working with business partners to build the DFAB House, which the team claims will be “the first house in the world to be designed, planned and built using predominantly digital processes”. The aim of DFAB House is to allow the team to test new building and energy technologies under real-life conditions. These include the robotically fabricated mesh-moulding process, which is the first to make the transition from research to usable architectural application.

Chuck Bass Analysis

A few weeks ago, I got the chance to read an article about shame-based personalities that immediately made me think about Chuck and I decided to take the time to write an essay about it. I’ll be using lines from the article to write this dissertation, which means it’s only right to credit it. You can find it here. The blog has many fascinating psychology articles; if you’re interested in the subject you should definitely follow it.

As the article I’m referring to explains, blaming and shaming a person are two different things. While blaming someone implies recognizing a fault in the person’s behavior, shaming someone isn’t about guilt or responsibility; it doesn’t require the person to do something that the accuser interprets as a mistake. Instead, shaming means affirming there’s something wrong with the person accused; in other words, the fault doesn’t lie in the person’s actions, but rather in their personality.

Before I begin exposing my thoughts regarding how and why Chuck’s personality was built through a dysfunctional shaming process, it must be said that both the aspects I’ve mentioned – blame and shame – played a role in his life.

For most of his life, Chuck has lived with a shattering sense of guilt coming from the conviction he had killed his mother by coming to life. I tend to think Bart has never really put into words this accusation, but it is sure that, as a child and later on as a teenager, Chuck read this through the lines of his father’s detachment. Consciously and not, Chuck learnt to consider himself responsible for his mother’s death, because the explanation he gave himself helped him to give a meaning to the emotional and psychological abuse he was subjected to.  

That being said, the guilt he took is a “blameless” one; in fact, it might be more accurately described as an original sin, a visceral, ancestral fault that has nothing to do with responsibility (even if Elisabeth had actually died giving birth, the baby wouldn’t have been guilty of her destiny). 

This irrational, inconsistent and implicit accusation suggests that there’s something terribly and irremediably flawed in Chuck, it somehow hints to the fact that his role in the world is to destroy – and metaphorically, to kill (“He hated me. It makes sense if his beloved wife died giving birth to me. Sometimes I swear he thinks I killed her” Chuck, from 2X05)

It is likely that, in truth, Bart blamed Chuck for the simple fact that he was Elizabeth’s son – the woman who had cheated on him and eventually left him to raise a child he probably didn’t even want. In Bart’s mind, having her as a mother was enough to make him a worthless and inadequate person – and irreversibly. This “definitive verdict” is indeed expressed through the story he told Chuck: not only Elizabeth “died”, but she was also “killed” by her own son. It’s a vision that allowed Bart to hate them both and set Chuck for being an eternal disappointment to his eyes.

It is definitely a form of shaming.  The article mentions a few examples of shaming statements, which sound very similar to many things Bart told his son all the way through the series:

• “You were a mistake; I wish I’d never had you.” || “No matter how I’ve tried to turn you into a man, it still remains the one, big failure of my life” (6X09)

• “You’re useless; you’ll never amount to anything.” || “Nice gesture, but misguided as usual” (2X10), “I haven’t seen anything in the last year that suggests you have what it takes. If anything, you’ve been a disappointment” (3X12)

“You’ve ruined my life; you ruin everything for everyone” || “Bart thought it would be better if the family bonded without me for a while” (1X14), “Letting people down is your forte” (2X10), “Every time I think we’re making progress, you show your true colors” (2X12).

 According to the article, adults shamed in childhood have some traits that I recognized in Chuck as well. I’ll mention each of them and try to see how they showed in his behavior. 

1. They are afraid to share their true thoughts and feelings with others.

This first trait is pretty obvious in Chuck’s characterization. However, truth to be told, his difficulty in sharing his thoughts and feelings is only the tip of the iceberg.

Chuck is indeed emotionally crippled. He doesn’t simply have issues when it comes to conveying his feelings; his problems start with his inability to recognize them and then accept them. Season 1 is all about it; Chuck can’t give a name to what he feels for Blair (“I feel sick, like there’s something in my stomach…fluttering”) and when she hurts him, he can’t metabolize the pain he feels and ends up hurting her as well in a way that is absolutely childish – an act of spite.

This is obviously the outcome of an education intended to make him think of feelings as weaknesses. Chuck grew up with the idea that detachment meant strength, while displaying emotions – or even having emotions – was a synonym of vulnerability. And vulnerability was the ultimate fault, the one thing Bart could have never accepted.  

Episode 3X12 (but, in general, season 3) is pretty enlightening in this sense, because it gives us an accurate idea of how Chuck has always interpreted his father’s behavior and words – and, as we’ll find out later on, his view of Bart was sadly truthful.

The Bart Chuck sees condemns his love for Blair (“You opened your heart to Blair and that made you weak”), for it makes him immature and unsuitable for being the businessman he is expected to become. The image of Bart tells Chuck he doesn’t have “what it takes”. This conviction Chuck can’t let go of is so weighty and so deeply rooted that it will be one of the reasons that will lead him to betray Blair in order to save The Empire – “I did what I had to to win. I couldn’t let my feelings cost me all that I’ve built” (3X17).

As I said, Chuck’s perception of his father was exact. In episode 5X24 it becomes clear that he judges his son’s love for Blair and in general his feelings as a demonstration of his irresponsibility other than what keeps him from being a “great man” and from “growing up”.

It’s only logical to assume that Bart’s reiterated insistence to urge Chuck to repress his emotions and, overall, his disdain for the mere existence of those feelings and the consequential shaming, led Chuck to try to suppress them as much as he could.

The constant repression is something I’ll talk about later in the essay while analyzing other traits. Though, it is important to underline the fact that Chuck tends to keep his emotions under control through a rigid process of suppression, until he can’t contain them anymore. This implies that when he finds himself unable to shut down his feelings, they tend to blow up in a devastating way – for himself and for those close to him.

It’s something that, with time, Chuck definitely learnt to handle better. It was indeed one of the crucial points of his growth; he still tends to diminish his feelings, but he manages to cope with them in a healthier way. By the end of the series, for example, he is able to accept Blair’s support and to contain the shame he feels towards his weaknesses; it doesn’t happen right away and it takes patience from her and also the special delicacy she reserves him, but eventually he lets her in fully (check this scene from episode 6X08).

However, Blair remains one of his few exceptions. He is only able to show his vulnerability to a very restricted group of people who he is able to trust. Outside his “circle of trust”, he is still an especially cold and detached person – and I assume a pretty ruthless business man too.

2. They are terrified of intimacy and put up walls in relationships. They also fear  commitment as they expect to be rejected.

You couldn’t handle feelings,” Blair tells Chuck in episode 3X12, giving us, as usual, the most precise insight on him and his difficulties dealing with emotions. Nevertheless, she comforts him, reminding him that he’s “not like that anymore” and that he’s “becoming a man in a way that his father never was”.

It is absolutely true. In spite of his fear of weaknesses, Chuck has feelings; he cares, loves and is exposed to deep emotions. He is, though, used to block them, out of shame and fear; fear of vulnerability, but also fear of the feelings themselves, of their meaning and their consequences.

The basic consequence of caring is the construction of a bond with another person, with all the risks that come with it – dependence, pain, abandon. Accepting to have feelings for someone means accepting the possibility of rejection and rejection is, to Chuck, absolutely terrifying. One of the most insightful quotes that explicates it is from episode 2X01. Trying to explain Blair why he didn’t spend the summer with her and abandoned her, he says: “I was scared you’d see…me.

Here lies the core of Chuck’s personality: the conviction that no one could love him for who he is, for he is impossible to love and also impossible to “fix”. He is irremediably broken, a destined to disappoint.

The article I’m referring to also mentions that people with shame based personalities struggle with feeling of worthlessness and often feel ugly and flawed. In Chuck’s case, this is the consequence of a growth and an existence that has always been marked by rejection. “Unfortunately, all I know if what he didn’t want,” he says, talking about his father, “which is me”.

Chuck’s deep self-esteem issues have their origin in the way he’s been shamed and neglected all the way through his childhood. As a result, he is honestly convinced of his inadequateness and of its invariability. The lack of value he sees in himself is deeply characterizing; it guides, sometimes subtly and sometimes blatantly, most of his actions and decisions. For example, he was incapable of waiting for Blair on the top of the Empire State Building because he expected her not to come, since he didn’t think he deserved her arrival. I don’t want to discuss whether his thoughts were valid or not; it’s simply not the topic of this essay. What I’m trying to point at is that it was tragically easy for Chuck to believe that she didn’t love him anymore.

Inevitably, starting from these presuppositions, commitment and especially intimacy become incredibly scary to Chuck. It’s not the dedication and the faithfulness they require that scares him; Chuck is, indeed, a profoundly devoted and loyal person (he values family, he has never cheated, he gives importance to long lasting friendships). Instead, his fright has its origin in the changeable nature of relationships: they’re hazards, they bring with them the possibility of being abandoned.

Only that, to Chuck, abandon isn’t a mere possibility, it is almost a certainness. Trusting that people he loves won’t leave him is incredibly hard to him, since abandon has been a constant in his life. He expects to be abandoned – and, according to him, rightfully so. People who leave him are justified by his worthlessness and their decision to give up on him is only logical.

This partially explains why he is so forgiving; recognizing people’s faults and responsibilities is almost superfluous to him, since, in some ways, he fundamentally thinks he deserves to be hurt. In this sense, it is important to mention how Chuck never really stopped justifying Elizabeth’s behavior; by the end of season 6, in spite of all the pain she caused him, he still hadn’t completely given up on contacting her (5X19), he still had her picture in his room and the combination to his strongbox was still her birthday’s date.

In some ways, this is also connected to the lack of love and affection that sadly marked his growth; he craves to be loved so much and, at the same time, he expects so little from those who are supposed to love him that he’s willing to take whatever he can get from them and to excuse even the most horrible betrayals (see how he allowed Jack to come back into his life). Every bit of care and respect look almost miraculous to him.

As the article explains, another fundamental trait in shame-based personalities is a debilitating false guilt. As I mentioned at the beginning of the essay, guilt plays a central role in Chuck’s life. Though he isn’t shy and definitely doesn’t pay attention to people’s judgement, he does tend to feel responsible even when he’s not. Similarly to what happens with his tendency to forgive, Chuck also expects to be accused and accepts the way people blame him, even when he has no faults.

This ingrained sense of guilt, which clearly has its roots in the childhood and the teenage years spent living with the thought of having caused his mother’s death, leads to the conviction of being unable to make the woman he loves happy. Each time he lest Blair go, he does it because he is genuinely persuaded that he’ll end up ruining their relationship and making her miserable; he keeps giving up on her to give her the chance to be with a better man, a less troubled, lighter person.

3.  They may be narcissistic and act as if they have it all together; alternatively, they may be completely selfless, almost to the point of being a doormat.

Both aspects of this trait show through Chuck’s behavior, since, as it often happens, his actions and his perception of himself tend to be extremely polarized and sometimes even contradictory – he goes to extremes.

He builds and invincible persona, “Chuck Bass”, who is powerful, indifferent, perfectly controlled; Chuck Bass is the façade he presents to the world, it’s his vanity, his mania of grandeur, it’s the self-satisfaction he feels when he’s called infamous, it’s his egocentrism and his arrogance. It shows through his eclectic style, through the self-celebratory way he conducts his business (his hotel is “The Empire” and it’s permeated with his notorious reputation), through the way he indulges the sort of legend created around his name. He enjoys his fame, his influence and he’s power hungry. Though somewhat more superficial, none of these aspects are pretended; Chuck can actually be self-centered, self-important, he can be haughty, cold and unscrupulous.

Yet, at the same time, he is incredibly fragile and he is often incapable of recognizing his value. Sometimes, actually, his selflessness is so extreme that he becomes quite literally “self – less”, meaning that he reaches such a worrying level of self-loathe that he ends up neglecting himself; his needs, his ambitions, his desires, even his entire personality (the beginning of season four is the most blatant example of this dysfunctionality, but part of this behavior is also recognizable through season five). He is haunted by the thought people would be happier if he was out of their lives.

4. They have a pervasive sense of loneliness and always feel like outsiders (even when others genuinely like and love them).

This trait is noticeable and inevitably linked with the ones previously mentioned. Reluctant to share his feelings and scared of building meaningful bonds with people, Chuck is profoundly reserved. Though he enjoys an active social life (parties, galas, ecc) and he is capable of being sociable (he is, among other things, also a hotel and clubs owner, so it is necessary), he still doesn’t let people get too close; he constantly maintains a distance between himself and the world and he often prefers spending time alone.

It must be underlined that Chuck is an especially selective person. Since trusting people comes so difficult to him, he tends to maintain a few but very solid relationships. As I’ve already mentioned, he defines a circle of trust – one that is terribly difficult to enter and, at the same time, almost impossible to exit.

Making a quick analysis of his relationships, it’s clear how discriminating and at the same time how devoted he is: Blair isn’t simply the only woman he’s ever loved, she’s also the only one he considered building a life with; Nate has been his best friend since they were five and Chuck has never showed the need to create the same kind of bond with anyone else; once he let Lily in, he never stepped back and was actively part of her family – he’s never stopped treating Serena and Eric as his siblings.

That being said, even with his most trusted people, Chuck is still hesitant when it comes to letting his guard down and allowing himself to be vulnerable in front of them. Even Blair, who is definitely the person he trusts the most, occasionally can’t reach him; she has to find a way to connect with him – sometimes she uses sex to get in touch with his blocked emotions.

As a result, Chuck has an inclination to isolate himself, since he considers his feelings incomprehensible and unacceptable; to his eyes, they’re too dark and too horrible. This idea leads him to the conviction that he shouldn’t share them and that he should deal with them alone. Aware of this belief, both Lily and Blair, actually, felt the need to remind him that they wouldn’t have left even in front of his worst moments (“The worst thing you’ve ever done, the darkest thought you’ve ever had, I will stand by you through anything” – Blair, from 2X13, “No matter how ugly and dark your feelings may be, you shouldn’t have to bear them alone. My love for you is unconditional” – Lily, from 5X10).

5. They are often defensive and find it hard to bear the slightest criticism. They feel as if they are being constantly watched and judged.

This trait mainly comes out through Chuck’s attitude towards business and work. He is extremely exigent with himself and incapable of considering failure as a sometimes inevitable part of life. He’s a perfectionist and has Stakhanovism problem. Being driven by an ambition that isn’t completely healthy, Chuck expects the best from himself and has a tendency to push himself too hard to reach his goals. The first few episodes of season 3 are a good example of this behavior. In episode 3X02 Chuck tells Serena: “My father turned his first profit by the time he was 22. I hope to do it by the time I’m 21.”

The fact that Bart is Chuck’s basis for comparison is a crucial element to analyze how this personality trait presents itself. His need to thrive and his greed for success partially have their origin in his fear to disappoint his father. Even after Bart’s “death”, Chuck kept trying to please him through his dedication to business; he was constantly trying to live up to the expectations Bart had.

Driven by his tendency to forgive and by his desperate need to justify his father’s faults, Chuck built, over the years, some sort of idealized image of Bart: the perfect business man, the person he was supposed to become but couldn’t – because of his weakness. And when, by the end of season four, this twisted view of Bart shattered, Chuck found himself having to survive a deep existential crisis. “Everything I believed about my father,” he says in episode 4X20, “everything I thought I wanted to be, what I needed to be for him, it was all based on lies.

The article also describes people with a shame based personalities as adults who tend to feel judged and controlled. It is important to say that, being a libertine, Chuck generally ignores people’s judgement when it comes to his morality, to his way of living and to his values. This careless attitude, though, has a few essential exceptions.

The first exceptions are Blair and Lily. Chuck truly values their judgements and not only when they’re positive. Since he respects them and feels supported and understood by them, he’s willing to accept even their criticisms. Their opinions and advice have a positive effect on him and they generally manage to encourage him and make him feel better about himself – or, at least, to question his actions. The key of his trust and respect for them lies in the way he knows that behind their words there are acceptance and care. Their loyalty and their affection isn’t necessarily linked with his actions – they would always forgive him and love him for who he is rather than for what he does.

Bart, however, represents a negative exception. His judgement, whether actual or simply imagined by Chuck, influences Chuck’s behavior through fear of rejection

In some ways, for a long time, Chuck lived with the perpetual feeling of being tested by this unreachable man he had to satisfy (“It’s like he’s setting me up to fail from beyond the grave” Chuck, 2X15). In other words, Chuck turned his successes into a mean to finally conquer his father’s love and acceptance and his failures into confirmations that he didn’t deserve his father’s approval and affection. In both cases, affection – or lack of it – is linked to an action; Chuck’s personality, indeed, remains intolerable for Bart.  

6.  They tend to block their feeling through compulsive behaviors

I will start by stating, just to be clear, that Chuck isn’t an addict. As I said, everything in Chuck’s life is subjected to a rigid repression; and it definitely includes his use of drugs and his drinking. Under normal circumstances, even though he is a drinker and an occasional drug user, Chuck keeps his vices controlled.

That being said, it is true that, during moments of profound crisis, we saw him losing control and showing compulsive behaviors intended to keep him from feeling a pain he couldn’t handle. It especially happens when Chuck has to deal with loss – since he can’t elaborate it, he suppresses his emotions however he can (abusing alcohol and drugs, meaningless sex, ecc). At the beginning of season five, the repressed pain of losing Blair causes him to detach from his emotions in such a deep way that he becomes unable to feel anything – even physically. 

It also must be mentioned that, for a long time, Chuck has had almost no respect for his life. Though the only time he was actually suicidal was after Bart’s “death” (2X14), he still showed till season five a dangerous carelessness with his health and with the value of his existence. He was often reckless and irresponsible; to use his own words from 3X22, he “didn’t care if he lived or died”.

His attitude towards sex, though, is probably the clearest example of a compulsive behavior implemented to suffocate feelings.

There’s no shame in sex and it’s not my intention to judge anyone’s sex life as right or wrong. Chuck was a precocious boy; he had his first sexual experience at the age of eleven, he is a very sexual, passionate person and eroticism certainly has an important role in his life. He enjoys sex and he’s completely open-minded about any kind of practices in this area.

However, it’s undeniable that he also uses sex to kill the pain. Generally, to Chuck, sex and intimacy don’t coincide. He doesn’t establish a connection with his sexual partners; he never sees them again after (in 2X21, he mentions he only has sex with people once) and sometimes entertains himself with escorts – the less emotionally demanding way to have sex ends up being paying for it. While sex (even random one) is usually an engaging experience, to Chuck sometimes it is a mere mechanical act that has the only purpose to numb sufferance and anxiety.

Blair, of course, is an exception. She was the first person with whom he managed to build a true connection, to the point that sex became fundamental in their relationship. With her, he reaches a complete emotional involvement; he concedes himself to her fully, he’s generous, trusting and attentive. It is interesting to notice, as I’ve already mentioned, that when Chuck is emotionally blocked, Blair consciously uses sex to reach out to him, for she knows that a physical connection with her will also lead to an emotive one (for example, she seduces him to bring him to say “I love you” in 2X25 and in 3X14 she has sex with him before he manages to talk to her about his mother).

7. They find it hard to establish and enforce healthy boundaries with others.

Considering everything I’ve explained, it is understandable why building healthy relationships for Chuck is hard – and why he had to work so hard on himself in order to handle them better. I think it’s safe to admit, at least from my point of view, that his relationships will never be completely “healthy” (although this is a pretty relative concept), for the simple fact that he is, logically, a profoundly and somewhat irreparably damaged person.

That being said, over time and thanks to a long and hard journey, Chuck learnt to cope with his daemons and to make his relationships work in a less dysfunctional way; he learnt that he doesn’t own the ones who he loves, that trust is fundamental for a bond to be unbreakable, that relationships work through compensation and ability to compromise and, eventually, that allowing the people he chose to spend his life with to see his weakest, most vulnerable sides doesn’t mean failing; it means accepting their love and their support and allowing them to make him stronger.

Above all, trusting people represented the biggest problem to Chuck and his inability to do so was often the main reason behind the crisis of his relationships.

Having been tested his whole life by his father (it is my opinion, for example that Bart left him the responsibility of Bass Industries when he faked his death with the intention to see if he was capable), Chuck used to assume that testing his loved ones’ loyalty was the only way he had to be sure of their affection. It’s a behavior that often puts him in a lose/lose situation. What happens in 3X17 is probably the most exhaustive example.

Betrayed by his mother, Chuck tests Blair’s love and devotion in a way that sets him up for losing her: if Blair accepts to have sex with Jack, she gives him a proof of her love, but she betrays his trust; if she doesn’t accept, then her love isn’t what he expected it to be. Either ways, he’ll be destroyed.

His difficulty to trust people is also what brings him to be so jealous and to expect from others the same exclusivity he gives to relationships. In his friendship with Nate, for example, he doesn’t tolerate other people’s intrusions; Nate’s need to have a wider circle of friendships almost feels like a betrayal to Chuck, since his fear of abandon leads him to think those who love him will find someone better than him and realize he’s worthless.

His insecurity tends to make him suspicious and his inability to communicate his feelings and his needs leads him to manipulate people around him to keep them from leaving him.

In conclusion, I think Chuck shows all the traits of a shame based personality. Personality is, according to my view, an only marginally changeable element; consequentially, it is my opinion that the dysfunctionalities coming from the structure of personality Chuck presents still belong to his life and inevitably play a role in it. However, a journey of growth and evolution taught him to live with it in a healthier way, one that allowed such a damaged and emotionally deficient person to build a happy life for himself and for his family.

dance macabre; a mini history of how maxine lerman came to be (part i)

Maxine Alexandria Lerman was indeed an e n i g m a. Her mother had described her to be the leopard in the family. Once appearing as a peaceful feline, she had evolved into a much wilder form of leopard. She tried her best to escape the demons that plagued her mind but she lost to them in a dance macabre. And what happens when there’s a feral leopard in the wild? You yield.

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