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[personal profile] villeinage
Suppose you are going to be marooned on a desert isle (or in my case, a long uncomfortable flight with long layovers.)

What are your long form fic classics that you could not live without, that you would download before the internet blew up?

Any fandom, any pairing!

So far, I've got:

Every Marine a WolfBrother
A Deeper Season
Motion Practice
Leave No Soul Behind

All recs welcome!
elaineofshalott: Violet from the Lemony Snicket stories, tying her dark hair back with a ribbon. (ribbon)
[personal profile] elaineofshalott
(I wrote this post in a Word doc awhile ago; I think it's still relevant.)

I’ve been thinking about excessive empathy lately, and whether it might be leveraged as an asset, rather than smothered for being a liability. What can one do, what progress can one make, when one is incapacitated by compassion? When one’s only capacity is for grief, of what use can one be?

Related passages from fiction occurred to me, of course. Upon reviewing them I realize they have to do with empathy for one’s specially beloved human, rather than empathy for humanity in general--humanity in the abstract and then frighteningly in the no-longer-abstract. One hears news headlines. One watches a movie character and knows that real people have similarly suffered. So the following passages perhaps only glancingly apply to my own struggles, since I am unespoused. But often a glancing relation is still a telling one.

BBC Sherlock’s John, after a drug overdose:

John holds a hand out, pointedly. And then Sherlock is up and they are leaving. Sherlock is too thin, he's too cold, he's a tower of strength drained completely empty. It could make a grown man cry, this sort of waste, this level of senselessness. Why should a priceless work of art dash itself against the concrete purposefully? The whole story is a tragedy. It could break John's heart if he let it.

But he isn't going to.

wordstrings, Entirely Covered in Your Invisible Name


Original-canon Holmes, during World War I:
It was a calculated war waged against my own mind. My mind was my bitterest foe. My soaringly imaginative, tactically brilliant, ever-practical mind. Had I been able to exchange my brain with that of a half-witted factory girl, during the four years Watson was in France, I should have done so. I should have traded it for a Dorset cow's in an instant. Could I have slipped into a coma entirely, I should have chosen that, save that then I would not have been working every waking moment to end the War quickly.

And God, how desperately I needed to end that bloody War.

At the beginning, I could see everything. Too much. And there the information was, all at my disposal on my brother's desk. Guns. Troops movements. Chemical weaponry. Mustard gas. God in Heaven, it drew and quartered me daily. At the beginning, when I was less strict with myself and allowing flights of vividly pictured deductions, anything could tip my heart into a blind panic. I glimpsed a wire in concert with a coded list, a grain manifest, a series of numerals, and a map on my brother's oak desk and nearly sent myself to the hospital. I knew generally, within thirty miles, perhaps, where my friend was at any given time. My brother saw to that. And according to those seemingly innocuous papers in 1914, he would be dead in a week. The odds were for a simple gunshot wound, but exploding debris was also possible.

Looking up from the mad scratches in his commonplace war journal, Mycroft frowned at me from across the length of his entire office.

"Stop."

I made no answer.

"Sherlock," he said clearly, "I have seen what you have seen, but you have not seen all that I have. In addition, I do not allow myself to actually see it. Stop your mind's eye, and at once."

"How can I help but see it? I've always seen it. All my life," I answered miserably, leaning back against his bookshelves and shoving my hands in my pockets.

"Well, you are through now," my brother commanded, tidying papers. "This is not you staring at carriage tracks in our drive and predicting the events of the next six hours verbatim. I can allow you to know things, to employ your tireless energies on our behalf, but not to see them. Do you mark me? I will retrain your mind myself if I have to. You are Sherlock Holmes, not Cassandra of ancient myth. We shall unravel the work of sixty years."

"I can't. My mind doesn't work that way," I whispered in despair.

"It's going to have to." Rising, my brother approached me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He left it there until I looked back at him, seeing my own eyes in a huge, sagging face of sixty-seven years.

"He should not have done it," I said through a clenched jaw. It was the only time I said it. Ever.

"No, but now he has," Mycroft said softly. "Be logical. You are not getting him back for a period of months or possibly even years. You are thus presented with exactly two options. Either stay as you are and see how long you can live like this before you break--I give it three months, myself, and if the War grows worse as swiftly as I think it will, no longer than two and a half--or stop seeing things. Think them in the abstract, for I need you, but do not see them, petit frère. Please stop seeing them. Try for me."

"All right," I gasped. I had not been aware of how shallowly I was breathing, for I was watching him perish over and over again in a spray of gore and crossfire. The moment I agreed, my brother slid back into his usual distant inertia.

"Good man," he said absently, going back to his desk.

Katie Forsythe, The Presbury Letters


These passages speak of the necessity of closing one’s heart, fortifying the doors against the onslaught of an unrelentingly brutal world, and the immense, hardly bearable anxiety and sorrow that would be engendered in the collision of that brutality with one’s own empathy. No human metaphor-heart can take in all the suffering of humanity, and continue to function.

Or can it?

What if Katie--my trusted pet favorite author, my guru of the ugly sides of love--is not entirely right on this count? What if this metaphor is faulty, or at least does not encompass all possibilities? That is the weakness of all metaphors, of course. Each one is only a lens, and not the thing itself. And the human brain, which is what we are really talking about here, is complex beyond our feeble attempts at description and measurement. So: what if the alternative to closing the door to empathy, and carrying on with trying to fix the mess, is also a viable possibility? What would that look like?

Using “we” to mean “I, and others with a seeming excess of compassion”: we could be in a waiting room where they have the tv news on, and not frantically try to divert our own attention.

What if a significant part of the horror of a horrific thought lies in our own panicked urge to look away, to not let it affect us?

What if we just sat with the reality that the world is brutal and merciless, that many many people are in unbearable pain at any given minute? And that we’re partly to blame? What if we just sat and let that be true? What if that didn’t have to mean us curling up in too much shame and rage and sorrow even to suicide ourselves out of this train wreck?

Would that lead to us taking less, and less effective, action to fix the world? Or more?

Consider: you can see the horrible thing in your mind’s eye, but you don’t have to be in the scene. You can just watch and be still. That’s all you can do in that moment, since it’s your mind’s eye; you’re not really there, able to throw your body in front of the cannon or whatever. And when the mind’s cinema screen flickers to darkness for the time being--perhaps, sometimes, even while it’s still running, if you can get the knack--you can plot ways to make it better.

It also strikes me that the rationally plotted, stiff-upper-lip approach is tied to toxic masculinity. What if I consult some female and/or non-Western heroes? How do they deal with their unbearable feelings? What does "Cassandra of ancient myth" have to say on the matter?

I do recall some tale of Theseus with lamenting women kneeling in the road before his procession, begging him to stop some deadly action. And, in the story, he did. Maybe the mere display of the full force of our distress, in front of the right persons, would be a force for good?

What can one do while in profound distress, other than displaying it? What action, in that moment, can be taken, that might be useful to the hemorrhaging world? Or must one wait until the moment passes, and act while in a calmer state?

Thoughts and fiction recs welcome.

martes OR Hola Hello How Is Everyone?

Jul. 18th, 2017 12:38 pm
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[personal profile] ahestele
WATCHING

*Everyone's all GoT OMGGGGGGGGG but I no longer have HBO so I'm reading spoilers on eveyrone's posts.

* Began binge-watching THE NIGHT WATCH on Netflix and LOVE IT. While I don't think it has the depth of ER, my standard bearer for fantastic medical dramas, I like the energy of the writing.It's set in San Antonio, someone has actually put in some time to get cultural and geographical references correct, and the staff is wonderfully representational. ALL the pretty people! There's a CANON GAY COUPLE WOOOOOOOOOO! Jennifer Beals played a medic!! I am enjoying it thoroughly.

* SHADOWHUNTERS is back as is my jam, Izzie Lightwood (see icon pic). Emeraude Toubia, the actor, is SO STUNNING and she's A TEXAN and she SINGS and just yes. Magnus and Alex are still my favorite TV couple. While I eschewed everything Cassandra Claire for years, and with good reason, this is removed enough from the books that I began watching. You can't just give me Mike Chang from GLEE as a bisexual, kickass warlock and expect me to pass that up. I am not made of stone.

* Rachel Maddow- always and forever. Her ratings are now apparently higher than her competitors? SO PROUD OF HER. Most trustworthy lesbian in news. Everyone says, now officially. :-)

* We also binge-watched ZOO, which ended up being really great, but the current season is leaving me kind of meh. They did away with my favorite het OTP, and now Bella Swan's Dad Billy Burke can't call them hilarious things like 'Danny and Sandy' or 'Ken and Barbie', which they really looked like, and that makes me sad.

FILMS

* BUTTER/Netflix- Jennifer Garner's turn as a shallow, driven Repub wife of a butter sculptor is SUPERIOR and FANTASTICALLY FUNNY. The cast on this is perfect, including a surprise cameo by Hugh Jackman as a Stetson wearing hapless car salesman.

*THEY CALL ME JEEG/Netflix- Italian Foreign film that will twist your heart all inside out in the best way. Just watch it.

* AFTERNOON DELIGHT/Crackle- I didn't know I had a Juno Temple thing until this film. Funny, true, sad and angry look at a Thirtysomething Crisis and what Kathryn Hahn's Rachel does to find meaning in her measured, suburbia paradise world. Jane Lynch as a self-absorbed therapist is worth the price of admission.

RANDOM

* CAN YOU BELIEVE DR. WHO IS A CHICK NOW?????
* HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW WRINKLE IN TIME TRAILOR???

WORK

* Despite the start of fiscal year rollover clusterfuck, I still love what I'm doing a real lot. :-)

* Went to San Antonio for the Texas Library Association Annual Assembly Conference which was great,except we got a crack in our new car windshield before the vehicle even had it's first oil change. *sigh* D got it 'glazed' for about $40 which was preferable to the $400 to replace the whole thing. You can still totally see it, but maybe it will act as an urban theft deterrent. Poor Pearl, already banged up!

POLITICS

*Ugh it just won't stop being embarrassing and awful and cringe-worthy. I don't think I've ever, ever, in all my 50 years, been as horrified to be an American, let alone a Texan. As much as I love my job, and I really love my job, y'all, I would leave for up North if I had any way to make a living. At least we'd be in a more progressive state where I would not be worried about putting a rainbow flag on my door or a Democratic Party sign on my lawn for fear of being liberal-bashed.

So these are turning out to be mostly what TV I'm watching but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.


I leave you with a song I heard on NIGHT SHIFT, which, apart from being wonderful, has a music department that has some serious chops. I have had this on repeat for days because it is just that fantastic. The Van Morrison original is luminous, but I just love Otto's voice on this. The horns are EVERYTHING.

Have a great week, gente.

Talk at you soon.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:23 pm
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[personal profile] flaming_muse
I REALLY LIKED IT, Y'ALL.

I am still processing and capslocking about it to anyone who will listen, but I'm a person who has never cared much about a Spider-Man, and this hit my teenage super hero in Marvel universe buttons just right. It had lots of things that made me laugh, and there were places where my heart was in my throat for Peter, and I just... REALLY ENJOYED IT, OKAY? And OMG Tom Holland is such a cutie, and I loved watching him move. Yay for dancers.

Tag yourself! I'm Helena!

Jul. 14th, 2017 08:20 am
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[personal profile] flaming_muse
So I've decided that instead of people talking about which Sex and the City character they are, we should all sort ourselves based on the clones from Orphan Black. Can you imagine? That would be so much fun!

Also, I've realized that all problems in my marriage stem from the fact that mr. muse thinks that Alison is by far the most appealing clone, and yet I am totally a Cosima.

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