Since I spend most of my time with other mentally ill people I hear a lot of statements about hopelessness and not really believing in recovery.
And yeah recovery as a lot of neurotypicals define it is bullshit, those of us that are chronically mentally ill will never be neurotypical. But I don’t want that to make other neurodivergent people think they just won’t get better at all because that isn’t the case.
One of the most important things a friend ever told me was “you are not the exception to recovery” and that’s a phrase I keep close to my chest no matter how much I’m struggling.
And anytime you’re sitting there, especially during a low point, thinking about how bad things feel, how out of reach help seems, how many mistakes you’ve made or relapses you’ve had recently I want you to repeat that to yourself too. Even if you don’t believe a single word of it just say it, “I am not the exception to recovery”.
I am magical.
For reasons unknown, at least, to the human eye,
For as long as I could remember,
I have been magical.
Though most do not understand what I mean,
or what I do,
it is simply because they do see magic.
For believing is seeing, and seeing is not believing,
For those who think they know what magic is, they are wrong.
I conjure and create – these hands made for multiple purposes,
for whatever I please,
whatever I choose to do.
For years, seeing that I was not magical, not knowing that I was amongst the many,
it appeared comforting.
but when I realized I was much different;
the power I wielded and the strength I possessed
but I was too ignorant to see
I began to understand the discomfort.
The discontentment of lacking the understanding of who you really are and how powerful you are to further decide your fate.
These hands can create,
these hands can destroy,
these hands can do many things
but what we do with them is up to us – simply, us.
I am Magical.
I am magical because the world around me doesn’t see it,
doesn’t see me for who I am.
I am more than just a pretty face or a broken heart;
more than simplicity, no less than authentic,
I am me. But who I am is not what others see.
and everlasting –
“Our most serious obstacle is that people traveling this downward path develop an insensibility which increases with their degradation. Loss is perceived most clearly at the beginning; after habit becomes implanted, one beholds the anomalous situation of apathy mounting as the moral crisis deepens. It is when the first faint warnings come that one has the best chance to save himself; and this, I suspect, explains why medieval thinkers were extremely agitated over questions which seem to us today without point or relevance… We approach a condition in which we shall be amoral without the capacity to perceive it and degraded without means to measure our descent.”
Merlin instinctively steps in front of the spear that is thrown at Mordred, taking the spear to the chest instead. It buries between two of his ribs, and he falls back into Mordred.
The knights flee, Percival carrying Merlin and Mordred deflecting a last spear thrown by the Disir. They flee back to their hastily assembled camp, but without anyone versed in medicine, they cannot stay or Merlin will die. Arthur makes a rash decision to immediately return to the cave of the Disir, begging their forgiveness and actually listening to Merlin, leaving his weapons behind. As the rest of the knights ready their horses for the travel back, Mordred kneels behind the dying man.
“You protected me.” He whispers, his voice showing the surprise and vulnerability particular to such a young man. Merlin only stares, his breath coming in gasps and his eyes narrowed. “For… for a while, I thought you hated me. That you could never see past what I was prophesied to do. We are the same, Merlin, and I will save you as you have done for me. I promise.”
“Mordred! We must go!” Arthur barks on his return, the concern in his voice betraying the authoritative manner. He has learned of the choice he must make, but he needs to know if Merlin’s wound is truly beyond Gaius’s skill. Mordred stands up hastily, wiping his tears on his cloak before nodding. Percival secures Merlin to his horse, and Mordred rides next to Arthur. Tears fall down Mordred’s cheeks off and on for the duration of the trip, and, wisely, Arthur does not say a word. Somehow, the phrase “No man deserves your tears” does not seem relevant today.
When they arrive in Camelot, Gaius goes straight to work. He is distraught to discover, after much research, that only advanced and powerful magic has a chance to heal him. He leaves Merlin alone to find the only one who can help: Mordred.
Arthur cannot stop himself. He tries to get through a meeting with his advisers, but dismisses it quickly for lack of concentration. There would be no point in continuing. His mind is weighed down with the heavy burden of his decision. He arrives at Gaius’s chambers to see… no one. Merlin rests fitfully alone on his cot. It breaks his heart to see him suffering and dying all on his own, though he knows Gaius would only leave for the most dire of circumstances.
“Merlin.” He sighs. “Why do you have to be so stupid? Jumping in front of Mordred like that… absolutely idiotic. Perhaps the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.” He grasps Merlin’s hand desperately. It shakes and sweats. Arthur gasps, trying to hold in his tears. "It is selfish, I know, but… I am faced with a terrible decision… One I am not sure I can handle alone. And all I can think, is that I desperately want to hear your thoughts.”
Merlin awakes from his rest, trained to pay attention to the sound of his king’s voice. “Arthur,” he tries to say, his mouth parched. The fever has addled his mind. “What’s… what’s happened?”
Arthur lets out a shaky laugh. “Merlin! Merlin, thank god.” He helps Merlin to water from a jug nearby, wondering how the tables have turned.
Arthur immediately shakes his head. “I cannot burden you with such things. You must rest.”
Merlin snorts weakly. “Clotpole. We both know… I’m dying. Rest… won’t… help. Tell me.”
Arthur takes a moment to think, his need for an answer overpowering his guilt for burdening his friend in this way, while on his deathbed. To force his friend to choose between his own life and the good of the kingdom. “The Disir have given me a choice. Allow magic freely within Camelot, or let you die.” His voice cracks on the last word, betraying his emotions.
“Arthur… I must tell…you… I have…”
“I have magic.” Mordred appears in the doorway, Gaius trailing behind. His eyes flick from Arthur’s to Merlin’s. Only Merlin knows what Mordred has saved him from. Losing Arthur’s trust. Revealing his secret. Telling the truth.
It is Mordred’s revelation that finally tips the scales. He thinks of Mordred like a son, like a nephew. He cannot look at him or his magic and see evil. But even as he watches Arthur race toward the cave of the Disir to make the right decision, Merlin cannot help but think that he’s lost his chance. That though he may now not lose his life for his magic, he may lose the only thing more important to him.
“Talk to shippers. Get to know them. See them as people again — that’s so much of the core of why this happens. We see shippers as not people but avatars of the Problematic Thing. They’re not people, they’re not even fans of the thing, they are representatives of it, a scourge to be destroyed. It becomes Us vs. Them so strongly that we forget that we’re dealing with people, actual people, and yeah, some of them may be assholes (e.g. suicide-baiting and racist Reylo shippers), but the vast majority of them aren’t, because the vast majority of people aren’t. They like a ship. You do not like that ship for personal reasons. It should end there, but because people aren’t people anymore, it doesn’t.”
–from a past post on anti behavior that seems relevant today
So this might be a good time to talk about “flip the script” narratives and why they’re harmful.
A “flip the script” plot is something that takes an existing narrative of oppression and reverses the roles. You see it in Save the Pearls with race, or the short film, “All You Need is Love” with homophobia. The problem is that you can’t just take something that loaded and simply excise its real-life implications.
Victoria Foyt’s Save the Pearls series envisions a post-apocalyptic world in which “pearls” are people with white skin are seen as inherently less valuable than the oppressive, dark-skinned “coals” due to the desolate, sun-scorched landscape. White people who do not find a mate by eighteen are executed, because…well, don’t worry too hard about logic in this series. We’re already dealing with an incredible failure at science and worldbuilding. The ad campaign featured a white actress in blackface (another huge no-no) discussing how she has to desperately hope her “Dark Prince” will save her. She spends a lot of time dodging unwanted advances and worrying for her livelihood. Her love interest in the series, a “coal,” also just happens to be a half-human hybrid and is referred to as “an animal” “an insensitive beast” and “a dumb brute.”
So a couple things:
The notion of black people taking over and subjugating white people is the number one tool of rhetoric in the racist’s handbook.
Same goes for the patented white fear of black men posing a sexual threat to white women. The propagandist film TheBirth of a Nation uses the idea to justify the murder of black slaves. Emmett Till was lynched at the age of 14 for merely speaking to a 21-year-old married woman. And there are countless stories like his that didn’t gain national attention.
Characterizing a black person as a hypersexual animal is yet another persistent racist trope. The first step towards oppression is dehumanizing the Other.
So even despite Victoria Foyt’s intention to educate white people about racism, she ends up perpetuating anti-blackness in her story. How does that happen? Well, these tropes are often implicit and show up regardless of explicit intent. However, a flipped script perpetuates the exact sorts of things that bigoted fearmongers use in their propaganda to sensationalize their perceived loss of control. Because in a society where oppression is the norm, the privileged group will see any attempt at leveling the playing field as an aggressive threat to its power. You see this in the coded language of dog-whistle politics, in which conservative politicians characterize strides in civil rights as threats to the status quo and “traditional way of life.”
But Nika, I hear you say, I’ve seen plots that have robots enslave humans in response to stories about humans using robots as slaves. Yes, I say in response. You see that in the Terminator franchise as well as the Harlan Ellison story “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream” and that’s different BECAUSE it doesn’t have real-life parallels. Humans haven’t enslaved sentient robots (yet) and what’s more, artificial intelligence in those narratives doesn’t tend to be racially charged. These stories still reflect very human anxieties, but they’re more indicative of our fear of playing god and then being outsmarted by our creations. Also recall that a lot of sci-fi narratives that depict the subjugation of the human race by AI (and also aliens) specifically invoke the real-life instances of human oppression without downplaying their horrifying impact.
I could go on but the point is: if you’re thinking of flipping the script on something with real-life parallels, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Bad idea. You’ll hurt a lot of people, dredge up a lot of implicit prejudice, romanticize the historical pain of other people while dismissing its gravity, produce misery porn…it’s gonna get ugly. In essence it’s drag-and-dropping the decontextualized struggle of a people to generate sympathy for your privileged group of choice.
But the MOST important question you have to ask yourself is: WHY do you need to flip the script on oppression in order to empathize with an oppressed group, especially if members of said oppressed group are telling you to stop appropriating their struggles and actually LISTEN?
This is an interesting question, on many levels. I think it speaks to a core misunderstanding of The Catalog of the Decline of the West and me, The Cataloger.
I don’t consider myself “against” liberals. The purpose of The Catalog of the Decline of the West is to create a collection of the West’s decline. That’s all. I’m a conduit of information. Being “against” something takes energy. I have to guard myself against energy outputs; I have much other work to do besides this Catalog.
The media has been out for Trump’s scalp from day one. It’s quite remarkable to see. If I am inspired and have the time I may write in more detail about Trump’s presidency. Perhaps at the one year mark. We’ll see.
In short, no. I am not against Trump.
This quote from Orwell seems especially relevant today: “Particularly on the Left, political thought is a sort of masturbation fantasy in which the world of facts hardly matters.” –George Orwell
Discussion isn’t happening on a public policy level because it cannot happen. The Left – liberals – are dishonest, but they do not know that they are dishonest. In fact, quite the opposite. Liberals believe – truly believe – that they have correct thinking; when, in fact, they are so skewed. So skewed, in fact, that they’re unable to see how skewed they are. It’s a lost cause.
I should not tell you of Berenice, the unjust city, which crowns with triglyphs, abaci, metopes the gears of its meat-grinding machines (the men assigned to polishing, when they raise their chins over the balustrades and contemplate the atria, stairways, porticos, feel even more imprisoned and short of stature). Instead, I should tell you of the hidden Berenice, the city of the just, handling makeshift materials in the shadowy rooms behind the shops and beneath the stairs, linking a network of wires and pipes and pulleys and pistons and counterweights that infiltrates like a climbing plant among the great cogged wheels (when they jam, a subdued ticking gives warning that a new precision mechanism is governing the city). Instead of describing to you the perfumed pools of the baths where the unjust of Berenice recline and weave their intrigues with rotund eloquence and observe with a proprietary eye the rotund flesh of the bathing odalisques, I should say to you how the just, always cautious to evade the spying sycophants and the Janizaries’ mass arrests, recognize one another by their way of speaking, especially their pronunciation of commas and parentheses; from their habits which remain austere and innocent, avoiding complicated and nervous moods; from their sober but tasty cuisine, which evokes an ancient golden age: rice and celery soup, boiled beans, fried squash flowers.
From these data it is possible to deduce an image of the future Berenice, which will bring you closer to knowing the truth than any other information about the city as it is seen today. You must nevertheless bear in mind what I am about to say to you: in the seed of the city of the just, a malignant seed is hidden, in its turn: the certainty and pride of being in the right—and of being more just than many others who call themselves more just than the just. This seed ferments in bitterness, rivalry, resentment; and the natural desire of revenge on the unjust is colored by a yearning to be in their place and to act as they do. Another unjust city, though different from the first, is digging out its space within the double sheath of the unjust and just Berenices.
Having said this, I do not wish your eyes to catch a distorted image, so I must draw your attention to an intrinsic quality of this unjust city germinating secretly inside the secret just city: and this is the possible awakening—as if in an excited opening of windows—of a later love for justice, not yet subjected to rules, capable of reassembling a city still more just than it was before it became the vessel of injustice. But if you peer deeper into this new germ of justice you can discern a tiny spot that is spreading like the mounting tendency to impose what is just through what is unjust, and perhaps this is the germ of an immense metropolis…
From my words you will have reached the conclusion that the real Berenice is a temporal succession of different cities, alternately just and unjust. But what I wanted to warn you about is something else: all the future Berenices are already present in this instant, wrapped one within the other, confined, crammed, inextricable.
Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
Read this on the plane today, and it seemed relevant to the current discussions around Social Justice that have been populating my tumblr feed of the past few days.
Today the upholders of the past, unable to deny these things, have adopted the expedient of smiling at them. There has come into fashion a strange and easy manner of suppressing the revelations of history, of invalidating the commentaries of philosophy, of eliding all embarrassing facts and all gloomy questions.
Remember how republicans used to attack Obama for everything from lying on his birth certificate, funding ISIS, hosting hip hop barbecues that don’t create jobs, partaking in terrorist fist jabs and running a child sex ring and he never, not once, had a meltdown on Twitter? He just…ignored it because he knew the truth and was just trying to do his job well? Aside from a joke or two about at the White House Correspondents dinner, he barely even acknowledged that a huge network regularly accused him of high treason?