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#fragments of selfhood
soracities · 5 months ago
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John Banville, The Sea 
[Text ID: “The past beats inside me like a second heart.”]
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fragment-syst3m · 5 months ago
HI !!!
i’m new to the DID community so please don’t just me too hard. i just found out i’m part of a system and it’s been rlly overwhelming.
- Jinx [Host]
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voidic3ntity · a month ago
such frail fragmentation, fermentation of distillation, elegant eternity, reflectivity, cast forth through crystallization, as all, shades of projection, narrative engravings, etched within, by such mercurial condensation, construction of vast obsidian selfhood, forevermore luminous, shimmering with the great brilliance of opal waveforms, resonate with the performance of regurgitation, transubstantiation, an artistic rendition, of the karmic drama, toil & anguish, transformed into golden brilliance, an edification of composition & stature, rooted within the very fibre of decaying rot, gleaming with the redemptive urge to overcome, slick with the silence of foreign landscapes & forgotten languages, megalithic monolith, structures of syntax, whole complex cultures, concocted by merely symbolic gestures of influence, encoded with the cryptographic realities of ancient inhabitants, denizens of the earthen interior, antediluvian ancestors, weathered by both floods & droughts, tempered temperaments, forever remaining raw & bound by our opal; this earthen hell scape, rains & flames, celestial construction of chaos, brought forth through the ambiguous medium of genetic reproduction, salt & soil, suffering sweetens the fruit, it is such bittersweet decay that our bodies shall undergo putrefaction.
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this-is-not-dissociative · 5 months ago
do you think its useful to have did & osdd1 as separate diagnoses, since treatment is basically the same anyway? would it be more useful to have it be something like did i, ii & iii, or did & partial did, etc. and then leave osdd as just osdd 2, 3, etc? thanks for your thoughts!
My thoughts on this are a bit complicated! First, I do think that it's useful to keep DID and OSDD-1 separate because while treatment is mostly the same between DID and OSDD-1, I think it can be helpful for clinicians to know immediately if a client has both amnesia and well developed parts in order to adjust their treatment focus as needed. For example, treatment for DID may need more focus on amnesia and more active discussion with alters in order to ensure that knowledge and intentions are being shared throughout the system. In contrast, those with OSDD-1 may need more targeted psychoeducation on how they can have such strong shifts in self and actions despite always feeling to some extent like the same person or always feeling present in the background of their mind.
Second, I agree with professionals who think that OSDD-1 needs to be moved out of the OS- category. It's too frequently diagnosed and too reliant on how DID is defined to make sense as an "other specified" diagnosis. OSDD-1 also has a unique diagnostic approach; usually, OS- diagnoses can't be made if any specified diagnosis from a category is met, but OSDD-1 is considered superordinate to all dissociative disorders other than DID. That is, someone with OSDD-1 might technically meet full criteria for dissociative amnesia and DPDR, but they should only be diagnosed with OSDD-1 and not with either of these other disorders. It really needs its own unique label and diagnostic code.
Third, I personally dislike language like "Partial DID" and am disappointed that the ICD-11 chose to go with that. I don't like how it implies that OSDD-1 is a lesser form of DID; while that could be seen as technically true in regards to the number and type of dissociative symptoms, OSDD-1 can be equally or more disabling. Unfortunately, it seems to be a common assumption even among many researchers that those with OSDD-1 are overall less dissociative, have fewer comorbid symptoms, and are less impaired.
I know that Dell has been interested in seeing DID/OSDD-1 redefined as Complex Dissociative Disorders I and II (see "The Long Struggle to Diagnose Multiple Personality Disorder: Partial MPD" in Dissociation and the Dissociative Disorders: DSM-V and Beyond), although I don't agree with exactly where he draws the boundaries. Dell defines CDD-I as parts that spontaneously switch with amnesia (basically DID and OSDD-1a) in contrast to CDD-II, which he defines as parts that never spontaneously assume executive control to the extent of amnesia (basically OSDD-1b). His logic is that too many cases of OSDD-1a are simply covert cases of DID in which sufficiently distinct parts (i.e., parts with a sense of "not-me" identity) haven't been found yet or are unable or unwilling to communicate their existence. Additionally, Dell seems to believe that a lack of current-day amnesia by definition leads to less well-defined parts. He associates a lack of amnesia with parts that are able to accept a shared underlying selfhood and which rarely become more developed or fragmented in adulthood.
I can't speak to what clinicians are most often seeing from OSDD-1 clients. It may be that offline, most people with OSDD-1b do have less developed parts, though I wouldn't want to see those with more developed parts erased. Similarly, while OSDD-1a may often in actuality be a precursor to a DID diagnosis, I can't help but think that erasing OSDD-1a entirely would be a nightmare for people like Kevin, who truly don't have well-defined parts of the self and yet have clinically relevant current amnesia between their parts. It's hard enough for them to have a rarely-discussed diagnosis, let alone be treated as identical to cases of DID and then enter denial hell because they can't relate to having more developed parts! That said, I'll acknowledge I'm likely biased by having learned about DID and OSDD/DDNOS when the theoretical divide between -1a and -1b was already in place. I'm sure it looks very different to clinicians who went from "MPD" and "Atypical MPD" to the current system. On the other hand, now that clinicians don’t have to witness a switch in order to determine that someone with DID has sufficiently differentiated parts, more cases of DID are being correctly diagnosed as such as opposed to DDNOS/OSDD-1a, which may reduce some of the frustration with the latter concept.
I do like how Dell characterizes CDD overall, with an emphasis on a) dissociative symptoms (memory problems, depersonalization, derealization, flashbacks, somatoform dissociation, trance states); b) partial intrusions from parts (internal voices, internal struggle, passive influence, temporary loss of knowledge, self alteration, self confusion); and c) parts-based amnesia (black out amnesia, “waking up” somewhere new, finding evidence of unremembered activities). His concept of CDD-I is a presentation meeting sufficient criteria from a, b, and c, and his concept of CDD-II is a presentation meeting sufficient criteria from a and b. Theoretically, someone with OSDD-1a could be diagnosed based on sufficient criteria from a, fewer criteria from b, and sufficient criteria from c. (At least at one point, this was actually a giant diagnostic hole in the MID scoring sheet, in that it either deferred highly dissociative cases with low symptoms from category b or bugged out and diagnosed them with DID despite it not meeting the formula requirements for such.)
In any case, I do agree with the concept of reframing DID/OSDD-1 as spectrum diagnoses with two presentations: parts which have an independent sense of self and are capable of taking full executive control and cause memory disturbances when doing so, i.e. type 1; and less differentiated parts which are experienced primarily internally, don't cause amnesia for daily life, and/or don't have separate senses of self, i.e. type 2 (or maybe even splitting the latter category into OSDD-1a and OSDD-1b presentations separately as type 2 and type 3). You've likely noticed that I often lump DID/OSDD-1 together or refer to them as "complex dissociative disorders" or "parts-based dissociative disorders." Highlighting their shared symptoms, causes, and spectrum-based nature is important. 
Finally, an advantage of a naming classification with a -I/-II suffix is that it would force clinicians to acknowledge OSDD-1 presentations! At current, many know about DID but don't really pay any mind to OSDD-1. If they had to assess DID as CDD-I or similar, maybe they'd take a bit longer to consider that the absence of amnesia or well-defined parts indicate CDD-II instead of writing the case off entirely.
I hope that this helps (or at least was interesting to read!),
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funeral · 10 months ago
The Shifting Experience of Self
One of the most remarkable features of contemporary life is the many radical ways in which selfhood is being newly envisioned, represented, and experienced...subjectivity, an inner life, and the very capacity for self-knowledge have largely disappeared...This literature projects an image of the self as fragmented and discontinuous assemblages of experiences. Subjectivity—self-experience through time—has been replaced by “subject-positions,” social categories and their storylines that are largely externally determined. The “inner” lacks any stable substance and is merely an extension of external roles that are instrumental and performative, endlessly negotiated within a fluid and mediated culture milieu. 
The flattening of subjectivity—the notion that persons do not posses much depth of private interior space—across the fields of study is symptomatic of a larger cultural movement that is animated by both ideas and everyday realities.
—Joseph E. Davis
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manletware · 6 months ago
tell me abt v!oxide he sounds swag
BET dude you got a big storm comin. im gonna drop the v prefix bcz its clear im talkinh abt the character and not me i think. i use it solely to distinct me n the guy cuz i named myself after him
first off, disclaimer: i made an OP mary sue
ok so. i made oxide for a fanadventure me n some friends r workign on. and then i fixated on him and poured every ounce of my selfhood into him and drew him an ungodly amount of times. most of which are in my sketchbook. hes like the physical embodiment of a hypothetical collab between 100 gecs and death grips.
so tl;dr hes like a sentient computer virus with a corporeal light-based form sort of like the fuckin. gems from steven universe. i know its gauche to talk abt our boy steve nowadays but its the only comparison i have. alternatively, hes like a fucked up and evil ENA. so oxide is basically a fragment of condensed radioactivity given sentience.
oxide was created in a lab by a team of four scientists who were tasked to make a defensive computer virus superweapon for the government. yeah. they were all fired off the project for fear of it being too dangerous BUT the head designer stole the software and a bunch of the other side experiments and decided to pull a frankenstein on this bitch. so they made him a catboy (anthropomorphic catthing????) n gave it an experimental semiphysical form and boom . its him
HOWEVER the science motherfucker got caught just before the project was finished and oxide was sealed away in a lab/facility/??????? alongside the other Experimence.
so yeah hes fuckin edgy my dude. he serves as an antagonist in the story hes present in and im workign on Why he is what he is. he also has a boyfriend who is a mothboy. he also is 6'2 because im not tall and i want to be tall.
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calamityk8 · 7 months ago
"My name is Barney Rolfe, and there is something wrong with my brain. I am admitting this to you with the full understanding and acknowledgement that what I am doing is absolutely not going to be fully understood; but perhaps in pieces it can reconcile the most fragmented and deranged parts of my psyche, or at least arrange them in a way that will relieve this incessant pressure that always haunts me. Whatever happens, well, at least I have tried to do something to explain this innate and incessant madness, which is more than most get a chance to do.
Okay, here goes.
Belatedly, I suppose, there were neurons misfiring to account for, some chemical mishap that perforce disengaged my social abilities to adapt and be of use to others. Panic and hysteria have ruled the contours of my experience for longer than this busted-up brain can recall. Looking back, well, I can gauge the horrific aspects of it, in the present. Of course hindsight’s a malignancy at this point. I have become this disease; it as all that I am: a sporadically hebetude-induced corollary on the razor’s edge of sanity’s rusty hook. Saying things like this doesn’t help. I know. It’s just hard to judge oneself from the outer limits of perspective’s gush and flow. Trapped in this insidious circle of discontent and maladjustment, I am oozing the sap of life’s lost lust.
I might have a way to put it, so let me.
Having severe systemic and constant depression and simply “being bummed” are two very distinct and different things. One is a disease; the other is just one of the myriad consequences of being alive. If someone has cancer you don’t tell them to, “buck up and get over it.” We don’t admonish a stroke victim to, “stop lying around, and get up and do something with yourself.” Even our advice for sufferers of the common cold is sympathetic, as cough-and-congestion victims aren’t told they are being “weak” or “soft” and should just “be happy because things could be a lot worse.” But, for some inane reason that is preconditioned into us by years of inhumane pseudoscience, diseases of the mind are linked to some weakness or lassitude of the individual, as if that person who is suffering from a disease such as depression or severe anxiety is somehow inept and is to be blamed for their troubles. As if it is within their control to get better by “just trying a bit harder at it.” It’s really a nonsensical viewpoint to take; but, alas, it is one of many such idiotic theories held by the masses.
Here — there is this too: you’ve got to fight this one alone. Other people can help you, but in the end it comes down to you fighting for your life all by your lonesome. This is a difficult thing to internalize, but once you do, in some wary way, a strand of hope will spring from this, as finagled and shoddy with trepidation as it may be. There will be a surge of selfhood guiding you, a reliance on the one person you can always count on: yourself. It is a scary thing, but like most scary things one finds as obstacles on the wayward path of one’s existence, extremely worthwhile to conquer. Just like any other terminal disease, depression kills; suicide is merely its mechanism.
This shouting in my head, it never seems to cease.
I am nervous and concise around others. I only laugh when it’s expected. Being alone has become my only comfort, though it too is getting to be unendurable. To guide me I take some small salvation in the long history of human endeavor to fight through the gnashing teeth of internal strife. According to Lecky’s History of European Morals, “A melancholy leading to desperation, and known to theologians under the name of ‘acedia,’ was not uncommon in monasteries, and most of the recorded instances of medieval suicides in Catholicism were by monks.” I dream through these trials and tribulations of ancients, attempting to stem the tide of my own demise with less troubling thoughts than the ones I’ve come to own: I am the angular distance of a star below the horizon; the dusty truth of eons of suffering through a terrible weight’s pressing down; sunken and lost; in old, forgotten times what they once called grevoushede. Grevoushede. Acedia. I breathe the words and balance the syllables on my tongue, unable to savor their taste or texture. I am a weightless pin pricked in the skein of an upside-down world I’ll never get close enough to know.
Who could ever fall in love with this raggedy bag of afflictions?
I trek through the ruins of my obsession, draped in sorrow’s mask, leaning on tiny tics and safe places to guide me. The cracking of my toes, one by one. Snapping all of my fingers back and forth. Clicking my tongue on the roof my mouth. Blinking an even number of times with one eye and then an odd number with the other. Popping my ears with my jaw. Smoothing my eyebrows down with my fingertips. An innumerable array of distractions that ease the arrhythmic pulse of thoughts that come but never go, blurring out my sight, and leaving me trembling, all filled-up with static but as empty inside as an ice cream shop in the freezing rain.
Woe is my middle name.
All of these little vacancies in my head surface and fill into the most chronic of all conditions. Possibilities go awry with suspicious and judgmental looks. Maybe I’ll put on some Dolly Parton and fall in love with a bookmark. These are thoughts that calm the deliriousness at it swarms. Exceptional circumstances to bow down to in this glut of terrors, this amassing of torturous routines: the bath mat must be lined up perfectly with the tiles, the showerhead at just the right angle, the curtain stretched just so, and the shower water, the god-damn shower water…always and forever just a touch too hot or too cold. The chores of being me, they never end.
The human senses can somehow even detect whether a television set is off or just on mute without looking. And everyone can tell the difference between boiling and room-temperature water being poured in much the same manner. But it is when these senses go astray, when they slip and frazzle and get pinched, that’s when one comes to know the real intensity of those senses’ powers. A daily trauma that haunts me wherever I go, my brain stuffed with the lint of leftover churning, dizzy and lopsided and playing alive, I ignore the impossibilities of being able to maintain a normal existence for as long as this sapped torpidity allows. The courage I need to muster just to leave my place and walk to get groceries is at most times an insurmountable obstacle, and so I stay in and worry and worry and worry about everything. Every object grows too precious to disturb as I put it on the pedestal of the postponed quenching of my desires. There is nothing I can do or think that will snap this spell of disenchantment that grips me tighter as it deepens this hole I am eternally residing in. Just making it home from the grocery store with a few shopping bags of food sometimes feels like the greatest accomplishment in the world. I should be doing other things with my time, I know: concentrating my efforts on more grand pleasures and goals. But these things of consequence, they are not for me. I lose so much more than I gain in these battles. Small, inconsequential, pyrrhic victories are the only ones I’ve known.
Hope is a bestial thing with daggers and fangs; I make up a thousand reasons to not have any of it bombard me as this disease attacks relentlessly. There are honestly times when I cannot even bring myself to lift a finger to scratch an itch. I’ve been prescribed a list of medications too long to register properly in the catacombs of my lingering doubt about the chemical cohesion of my wherewithal: Abilify, clomipramine, Lexapro, bupropion, Celexa, Cymbalta, Lithium, Xanax, Paxil, amitriptyline, Lamictal, and that grand old sturdy classic Prozac. Etcetetra. It seems that I am only etceteras: more and more of less and less. It’s all a wash. It was a messy chorus of boos from the cheap seats as I struggled through side effects and listened to the growing drone of a singularly horrible voice that wasn’t quite my own resounding in my skull: “You’re no good. You’re a lost cause. Stop whining; start winning. You’re no good. You are just no good,” over and over; nauseated at all times; woozy, delirious, insomnia-plagued and diarrhea-bound; garbling my words when forced to speak, fumbling through life like a doped-up zombie with no appetites, every little thing so impossibly far away.
The window washers will not sing for me. The faucets around here all look like dead swans. I sweep. I litter. I am unable to know for sure if anyone else ever feels the way I always do. I am ill with this ravenous beast that pesters and claws at and drapes itself over me, leaving me with the gumption of soon-to-be-roadkill sluggishly slouching across a busy highway. I yawn instead of moan. I burst into tears in the dark of crowded movie theaters just before the feature starts. I am normal. Really. I am sane — maybe even too much so. I do wish I could just go insane, but, sadly, I cannot quite contemplate how to accurately achieve this feat. My brain will not assuage nor relent with its ceaseless cracked and mangled disturbances.
The boring by-rote recitation of symptoms rattled off to every doctor who’d listen. They don’t know who I am, what I’ve suffered through, how I came to be this way that I am; and there’s no device by which I can properly explain it to them. It’s not like they can run a test, take some blood, or do a biopsy, and then figure out what’s wrong with me. It’s a hidden thing, deep within the walls of my pain, not on or off any scale they’ve ever invented. I am my own example. There are no answers to any of this. They used to take out parts of people’s brains, thinking it would relieve their suffering. But it just left folks lobotomized to a dull, vegetable state, unable to form words or dress themselves. Perhaps they were happy, though. Perhaps they were thankful for the big, empty space that now occupied what they’d formerly called living. Perhaps there was no person behind those dead eyes left to care. The disease wins yet again, as it always does.
Clinical diagnoses follow me with heavy clomps. “Heavy dysthymia with a robust anxiety level. Somatic cross-cutting, serious signs of high Altman-scale mania, repetitive and troubling thoughts bordering on multiple phobias and generalized panic. Personality Trait Facet Scores high on rigid perfectionism/grandiosity/anhedonia type, though scores lower across board than patient believes. Unusual and abnormal, but not psychotic at all.” As you can see, the weather inside my head is rather frightful, to say the least. I trudge through the murky terrain of my past with great regularity. I am muddy with it, soaked through from the storm of my memories, which are remembering themselves over and over and over again and again and again, until I do not rightly know what has happened or what is happening now. Who am I but this box of disturbing thoughts?
Madness in the family. A quirk in the genes being passed down just like Huntington’s or any other inherited affliction. This one’s just as deep in the bones, though not as noticeable, not as prominent in the makeup of one’s persona. My father was a brazen raver whose depression put the business end of a rifle under his chin to finally wreck its one final havoc on him as pulled the trigger in defeat; his father before him too came to an early funeral, though his disease’s weapons of choice were gasoline and matches, as he lay in immolation by the pumps of an empty gas station in the wee hours of his final night on earth. This dreary thing, it just goes and goes right on down the line. Shelter from it is inconstant at best. It is as if I am in hiding from my inheritance, from my own true self — a hibernation of sorts: falling in and out of a troubled sleep, groggy and drooling through another afternoon, I become obsessed with trifles. I organize the cups and plates on my shelves until they all perfectly line up. I become tempestuous at a single hair being out of place. I talk to myself constantly, mostly demeaning phrases and freshly coined derogatory slurs aimed at myself. I have been parked too long in my heart’s handicap spot. There is very little “me” left here to notice.
So, do not look at me lightly, with deferential judgement or pity’s hidden ire. My sorrows are so much smaller than you’d suppose. My shoes come untied just as much as yours do. I can be as brave and also as craven as most. I eat blackberries and put salted butter on my toast. There are no cures, only temporary stopgaps for relief of symptoms. I am not in control of the way that I feel. I will try. I do try. None of this is less than extremely difficult. I do not need nor crave your sympathy; I just want understanding. Perhaps, even after all this exegesis and other inexplicable explanatory notions are through, this is still too much to ask. In the end, casting aside whatever ideas anyone might get to having about me and my plight, I only return right back to where I began: my name is Barney Rolfe, and there is something wrong with my brain."
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grandhotelabyss · 11 months ago
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—Joyce Carol Oates, “Whose Side Are You On?” (1972)
I found this strange short essay in the footnotes to the threadbare Wikipedia entry on Mr. Sammler’s Planet, where I had gone (without success) to try to keep straight this misogynistic novel’s tiresome excess of awful women when I was writing up my impressions. I was surprised to find Oates, whom I know to be a feminist, praising known chauvinists Bellow and Mailer as escape routes from the two dead ends of postmodern aestheticism and leftist didacticism she saw dividing contemporary fiction in 1972. (Now that we have only the leftist didacticism, two bad alternatives seems like an unimaginable luxury.) 
She provides acute commentary on some fellow writers and their brilliant inadequacy: not only Nabokov, but also Borges and Beckett, and, to descend, Barthelme. She decides against these postmoderns and opts instead for—well, she doesn’t name it and only gives us two examples; we might call it the 19th-century super-realism, the part of Russia that Nabokov doesn’t come from:
Writers who limit themselves to fragments do not elude identity. They are, simply writers-who-limit-themselves-to-fragments. It is a peculiar, awkward noun, but a real one. They do their work cleverly, or clumsily; originally; or not originally (so that we imagine we've already read their next book, in reading their latest book).This kind of prematurely elderly vision is as conscious a choice as the heroic choices of writers like Saul Bellow or Norman Mailer, who are rare in these times because they aren't afraid to make huge claims.
When we read a truly clever, ingenious work of fiction, we smile in amazement, in admiration, but our hearts never beat more quickly. But let us consider the conclusion of “Mr. Sammler's Planet,” which is so powerful that it forces us to immediately reread the entire novel, because we have been altered in the process of reading it...
The taunt about fragments—she’s insulting Barthelme, but not by name—hasn’t aged a day, and she makes me like Sammler more, though I am still surprised to find someone with her politics so extravagantly praising a novel with those politics.
But I don’t divide the writers she cites up by their ideological positions. For me, Nabokov, Bellow, and Borges are all claim-making giants, peers in merit, though Borges is the most indispensable to the 20th century; I admire Beckett and grant his greatness without much loving him; Sartre I neither admire nor love; and aside from bits and pieces here and there I haven’t really read Mailer or Barthelme, though I’ve read enough of the latter to know he has nothing for me.
Finally, I resist Oates’s judgment that her two quotations are equivalently attractive, and I resist even more her conclusion, “If we must choose between Nabokov's statement and Sartre's, we will choose Sartre's probably.” Probably not, I must insist. 
Nabokov’s statement is only bad if you assume that one person’s subjectivity is without general interest instead of being either very like your own—an American credo, as the poet yawped: “every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”—or, if alien to you, a beautiful alien attracting careful attention. Shared subjectivity is by definition not solipsism. 
Sartre’s line, by contrast, is a disgusting blackmail and the truer instance of mental masturbation. With Sartre you are always asked to admire his extremity, whether his utmost verge of nihilistic doubt in Nausea or the political brinksmanship of later years. “Look at the starving children!” translates to “Look at me caring about the starving children!”
The showy self-accusation, the auto-cancellation, of the privileged leftist is always a power play in the left elite, a maneuver within factionalist palace politics, never to be confused with anything that even resembles a real ethical act. (You can trust me on this; I’ve been to college.) Anyone who sincerely wishes to be divested of all ill-gotten privilege, including those privileges of selfhood and art, will simply go away and be quiet; we’ll know they mean it when we never hear from them again. 
For the rest of us, those are who are less saintly-selfish, there is no point denying the necessary human minimum of self-respect; the goal must be to create from whatever part of the self we can find that does not wish to trample or hoard. 
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catboyrorschach · a year ago
Hewwo uwu Do you have any headcanons about the potential of Stretch and the rest of Casper’s uncles regaining distinctive memories of their past one way or another and how that would influence them? 👀
you are the LAST person i expected to ask me about casper. this is the first time we’ve spoken. HELLO RAE IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU! I DO IN FACT HAVE GHOSTCANONS TO SHARE!
SO. so. i think they do uncover memories at times, but it’s mostly vague — any specific images are fragmented at best. it’s like ... one of them will pick up an object, and turn it over in their hands, and they will remember how it made them Feel, once, but even if it has their name on it they definitely can’t remember what it was for.
casper’s newborn baby clothes, for example, make them all ‘very sad,’ which is why those are locked away somewhere in a chest. pictures of J.T. make them all ‘irritable’ and ‘angry’ and ‘blaming,’ so they destroyed most of J.T.’s remnants and tried their best to actively forget him. casper’s ball and baseball glove are ‘happy,’ so they’re put in a box and hidden away as treasure.
stinkie and fatso both remember that neither of them named casper, and stretch doesn’t remember who naked casper but he knows the name makes him feel ‘weird.’
(casper means ‘bringer of treasure.’ stretch picked that name for him.)
the likelihood is that ... at this point, with as long as it’s been ... they could have their entire history played back in front of them and they still wouldn’t actually be experiencing the memory of it. they would feel and understand and process the information but they’re never going to be who they once were, regain what they once had. that solid grasp on selfhood is gone. they are all very different people now, even casper.
it wouldn’t cause them to cross over. earlier on in their afterlives, it might have, because the resurfacing would be powerful enough to uncover some of the substance of Who They Were Alive — but they’re pretty much ... stuck here, now.
(if they remembered what casper meant to them, things would change. not overnight, and they’d never be perfect — but i do think that things would change.)
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jennamoran · 7 months ago
IOSHI (Part 17)
Today we’re sharing a bit more of the cyberpunk setting I wrote in, I dunno, 2003?
So far,
we’ve had a basic introduction to what’s going on.
we talked about the core culture and a few subcommunities.
and a few more!
and another few!
and the last of them.
Then, we discussed some system stuff and the first character type: deckers.
Then, two more types: fires and hunters.
Then, another two: jockeys and knife edges.
… librarians and medics …
… shamans and riggers …
… sharks and techies …
… transcends and, finally, visionaries.
Then, we did the intro to the equipment section.
Then, some cyberware and bioware stuff.
Then, the rest of the equipment guide!
Then, a bit about how characters earn rerolls through increasing acceptance of (sub)community theses, including traits for the first few theses!
Let’s finish those off!
                      Criminal Culture
Criminal culture solutions, naturally, include theft and violence and generally unlawful behavior, but also the criminal community principles of charisma, loyalty, and tradition.
Criminal Culture 0 allows a character to respect the legal order of Tartessos and to see it as a social given or a moral order rather than as an organizational structure and a set of enforcement mechanisms.
Criminal Culture 1 inclines a character to feel like maybe security culture’s gone a bit too far.
Criminal Culture 2 gives a character some level of criminal ambition.
Criminal Culture 3 pushes a character to seek status in, and climb the ranks of, a criminal community.
Security culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0).
Criminal Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to criminal solutions, for rolls and rerolls alike.
Criminal Culture 5 makes it increasingly difficult for the character to remember that there are people out there who respect contracts and laws; that they “matter,” that they’re “real,” that the world is not run by the personal charismatic force of the criminal elite.
Criminal Culture 6 attracts notoriety and casual lawlessness, to the point where the character will soon become unable to function for long periods of time outside a criminal community without attracting dangerous levels of attention from security.
         Author’s Note: if the step from 1 to 2 seems a bit much, note that this isn’t a moral slippery slope, it’s a scale that tracks social influence from the actual Tartessian underworld. You’re allowed to question excessive security measures without any criminal culture at all; for that matter, though it’s potentially inefficient, you’re allowed to be a notorious lawbreaker without any!
               High Family Culture
High family solutions, for a servant, involve grim acceptance; dissipating one’s presence; fearful perfection; and deceit.
For a proper member of the high families, they involve glamour, social maneuvering, and ruthless use of power.
High Family Culture 0 allows a character to believe, on some level, in an invulnerable fortress of the soul—in a selfhood, and a set of rights, that can be violated but cannot be taken.
High Family Culture 1 gives the character a bitter awareness of the high families’ ability to distort the mentality and the legal position of their tenants, although they do not necessarily approve.
High Family Culture 2 fills a character with a giddy, starstruck awe of the aristocracy, who take on elements of glamour and magic unto them. Even if the character despises their actions, even if on thinking about it they recognize that the high families are blights upon the world, they still subconsciously buy into the celebrity-like myth that the high families are somehow special, somehow chosen, nevertheless; that their extraordinary quality is more than just a convenient mask over callow, cruel, and pointless fleshly things. A character with high family culture 2 will recoil in disgust from someone who just, like, kills kids and then licks their gun afterwards or something, but if a high family butler informs them of an audience with a scion, they’ll feel a wash of pride and glee as well as (possibly) fear!
High Family Culture 3 pushes a character to accept, to acclimate to, a high family’s control over them—and/or, their own position in such a family, if they have claimed a fief or been brought by marriage or adoption into such a clan.
Street culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0).
High Family Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to high family culture solutions, for rolls and rerolls alike.
High Family Culture 5 drowns a character, ever so slowly, in the stifling grey of fear and service (or, more rarely, rank); they begin to forget that they were ever human.
High Family Culture 6 cuts the strands of ego or sensibility that connect the body to the mind, one by one by one; at the end, the character is a servant who identifies as an automaton and will willfully defend their oppressors; or, a member of the families who is possessed by the animus of their throne, whatever humanity and personhood they might once have had merely fragments (one might imagine, screaming) lost behind their mask of a smiling face.
              Author’s Note: the original abuser metaphor tangles awkwardly with historical context here. Likely now that there’s this section, if I ever edit the setting, I’ll just delete them.
           Maenadic Culture
Maenadic solutions involve surrendering to passion, the power of the crowd, social dominance by force of will, and compliance when social dominance has failed. A classic maenadic reroll, on failing to drive a motorcycle, is to lean into their sheer delight and instantaneous flow state as it starts to spin out (to recover, and get another chance); on a stealth roll, to be inspired by the thrill of the hunt; in conversation, to catch others up within their flow.
Maenadic Culture 0 allows a character to be staid and puritanical and unwilling to surrender to any “rush.”
Maenadic Culture 1 makes it harder for the character to resist the occasional party or indulgence.
Maenadic Culture 2 gives a character early hints of maenadic inclination.
Maenadic Culture 3 pushes them to leave Tartessos itself behind and drift off to, or begin, a maenadic carnival.
Floating board culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0).
Maenadic Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to maenadic solutions, for rolls and rerolls alike.
Maenadic Culture 5 roots the character deeply in the maenadic carnival; they ache at every moment they are apart from it.
Maenadic Culture 6 leaves the character unable to truly function in Tartessos; they may be forced to do so, by a higher-rank maenad, or by themselves, perhaps, as proof of will, but they will do so listlessly, dolorously, without any joy or interest.
           Physical Idealist Culture
Physical idealist solutions involve beauty and fitness—celebrity, earning the approval of others, and physical capability through biotech, cybertech, and effort.
Physical Idealist Culture 0 allows a character to think of “physical perfection” as an incoherent idea—at best, a kind of ideology, and not a telos.
Physical Idealist Culture 1 gives the character a sense that an objective ideal of physical perfection is possible.
Physical Idealist Culture 2 makes a character more suited for the fringe of an idealist community—it encourages them to admire physical idealists, and to go farther in their direction than most, but will not of itself push them to dedicate their life to it.
Physical Idealist Culture 3 pushes a character to feel that anything less than a perfect form would be a failing.
Anthropophobic culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0).
Physical Idealist Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to physical idealist solutions like fitness and attractiveness for rolls and rerolls alike.
Physical Idealist Culture 5 intensifies a character’s desire to please those who look upon and evaluate them, to earn nothing but approval, until it begins to overtake anything like a personal physical ideal; increasingly, perfection itself is no longer enough, but rather behavioral emulation and self-modification to match trends or associates’ tastes becomes the norm.
Physical Idealist Culture 6 creates a character who can bear no harsh judgment; they are likely radiant with fitness and with beauty, but also ever-more willing to go to any length to demonstrate that radiance, and ever-more-easily cracked under the strain of facing anyone who does not acknowledge their perfection.
          Religious Culture
Religious solutions may involve finding community through belief, or accessing repositories of arguably slanted wisdom associated with the faith, or praying for a miracle. Rerolling because the character prays for a miracle, and succeeding where they “would have” failed, does not require that the GM and other players endorse the veracity of the faith, only to recognize that the faithful, even as in our time, regularly have experiences that they do take as evidence of that veracity.
Religious Culture 0 allows a character to deny the value of faith, or, to have none.
Religious Culture 1 gives a character a sense that there may, even must, be something ... numinous, spiritual, beyond the magisterium of science, although they may not be able to name or put a form to it. It allows agnosticism or a sort of troubled, dishonest atheism, but the character is no longer able to truly commit to the idea of a soulless world, even if they mock themselves for the superstition.
Religious Culture 2 imbues a character with a modest faith; at this level, they necessarily believe, and believe that believing matters, but it is still possible for them to isolate their faith from their model of the world, separating it from empiricism and thinking of themselves as not like those believers, you know, over there.
Religious Culture 3 drives the character to faith; it does not rule them but it calls to them, and inclines them to devote their labour and their wealth unto its service.
In most cases, technical culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0). Certain technical and religious communities, however, are cross-compatible—that the theses are directly opposed is a result of pre-existing social tensions rather than because mutual denial is the only way in which they could be framed.
Religious Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to religious solutions, for rolls and rerolls alike.
Religious Culture 5 pushes a character to withdraw from the secular world. It drives them to reject the world in some fashion, or calls them to live a purer, often “simpler” life. If practical, the character will feel an ever-stronger pull to move into a community of their faith; if not, they’ll still feel a growing need to abandon the compromises previously made between their faith and ordinary life.
Religious Culture 6 makes a character’s religious devotion essentially, and ever-more, incompatible with daily Tartessian existence. The nature of this, and what extent the character remains themselves despite it, will depend upon the nature of their faith.
          Secure Communities
Secure community solutions involve some combination of protocols and policies, patrols and fixed emplacements, protected locations, and submission to authority. Note that while a secure community mindset is biased towards trust in and obedience to human security, human security is ultimately considered less reliable than mechanical security, and while police have greater powers in a secure community early in its formation, late in its development they are likely to find themselves curtailed or eliminated by the machinery of the system, unwilling as it will inevitably become to grant them the discretion to which they are accustomed.
Secure Community Culture 0 allows a character to feel generally distrustful towards security measures.
Secure Community Culture 1 comes with a sense that there’s a seething core of lawlessness and danger ... somewhere, not necessarily even where the characters have observed it to be ... and thus strong security measures are fundamentally necessary.
Secure Community Culture 2 encourages a certain willingness to give up some of one’s own liberty and autonomy in the name of that security.
Secure Community Culture 3 imbues a character with a deep-rooted, fundamental fear; life outside their secure bubble will unnerve them.
Criminal culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0).
Secure Community Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to secure community solutions for rolls and rerolls alike.
Secure Community Culture 5 pushes a character strongly to give up or eliminate some of their verminous potential for human error in order to better cooperate with security protocols, whether by wiring themselves into a neighborhood server or pre-programming themselves with superior responsiveness to law.
Secure Community Culture 6 drives a character to surrender their liberty entirely, inevitably turning them into nothing more than a faceless extension of the system in which they participate—or even ensuring it eliminates them.
           Author’s Note: it’s so weird working with stuff I wrote in 2003 sometimes.
         Street (Poor) Culture
Street culture solutions focus on building cheap, robust tech from modern ideas and a mix of mostly-obsolete and a bit of modern technology; having a keen eye for what people actually want and need; supporting one another; and a keen eye for options that others might be too proud or set in their ways to have seen.
Street Culture 0 allows a character to believe that economic justice arises naturally from the fabric of the universe or the Tartessian economy, or, has been won through some nebulous struggles and achievements of the past; or, at any rate, exists, somehow, immanent in the structure of things, already.
Street Culture 1 gives the character the sense that it’s impossible to get anywhere in life with that kind of naïve attitude.
Street Culture 2 gives the character a keen awareness of the fundamental justice of eating the rich, even if they may not personally have the stomach for it.
Street Culture 3 gives the character a keen interest in creating opportunities for others.
High family culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0).
Street Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to street solutions for rolls and rerolls alike—those being, relying on the community, getting their hands dirty, and putting cheap innovation into play.
Street Culture 5 represents accumulated damage; the character is necessarily beginning to break. A character at this level has pushed themselves too hard, lived marginally for too long, or put too much of themselves into helping others who are just as much on the edge; now they’re running out of resources, or out of them entirely, and their bodies or their brains are beginning to crack.
Street Culture 6 burns the character out completely. For NPCs, that often involves a physical collapse, but since PCs are more likely to have intermittent access to windfalls and modern medicine, it’s more likely that they just can’t keep going; their mind and will is breaking, and, then, breaks.
           Technical and Research Community Culture
Technical/research solutions, naturally, involve superior technology; they also involve the study of the same, a general interest in the same and in analysis, the disregard for superstition and any subjective folly not explicitly integrated into their community ideology, and access to the community of science.
Technical/Research Culture 0 allows a character a mild/negative affect towards technological progress.
Technical/Research Culture 1 gives the feeling that a dedication to research, to technology, to science, is necessary, for the world to advance; and that advancing is, somehow, critical.
Technical/Research Culture 2 urges the character to live amongst innovation; to practice engineering or science.
Technical/Research Culture 3 will push a character to give up significant amounts from the rest of their life, in fact, in order to do so.
In most cases, religious culture may no longer be increased, and further increases reduce it by one point each (to a minimum of 0). As noted above, though, certain religious and technical communities may be cross-compatible.
Technical/Research Culture 4 inclines a character strongly to lean in to technical solutions for rolls and rerolls alike—often meaning that they’re using tools slightly better than one might expect.
Technical/Research Culture 5 drives a character to sacrifice even some of their basic humanity to the scientific ideal—to give it up, not because science itself is antihumanitarian or demands they do so, but because the ideology that drives their technical community forward demands that they yield up their ego-identification to the machine.
Technical/Research Culture 6 demands of the character that they sacrifice the notion of the self entirely, replacing it with a matrix produced by some advanced psychological theory or giving themselves over to the machinery at their community’s core. In time, their original self will exist only as a formatted table of data on some server, deep within.
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flickeringart · 11 months ago
What is there to defend?
The little self and it’s obsession with greatness 
The sense of self that is experienced as threatened by ”outside” factors cling to negative emotion. The self I’m referring to is a tiny speck of dust in a storm, trying to assert it’s own separate will, yet failing to conquer that which is bigger than itself. It’s mercilessly swept along, subjected to situations and circumstances that is not of it’s own choosing. It feels desperately powerless, separated from the greater life, alone and miserable. The small self is disappointed in God for being rejecting and punishing. Murderous thoughts creep up, it want’s to kill the remainder of existence for standing in it’s way, for imposing restrictions and judgement. The world ”out there” is bad and the little self is good, a poor victim to forces beyond it’s own control. Existence seems to be an insult to one’s greatness as well as a means to increase greatness. Through cleverly playing the right part one can hope to ”win”, to escape guilt and humiliation and come out on top, triumphantly declaring greatness – even though one still feels small and separate.
There’s no greatness to be gained through ego inflation. There’s no greatness to be had in this world, because it’s founded on the principle of separateness and the intactness of the ego structure. In other words, there’s no wholeness that can be attained through gathering experiences, possessions, information or skills or other people. Even though certain experiences seems to be all-encompassing and ultimately true, they pass sooner or later, disappearing into death, revealing they’re deceptive nature. Illusions always fade in time, no matter how reliable and permanent they may seem. What follows is disillusionment, which serves to shatter the faint glimmer of security that was experienced while enmeshed in a false reality. As time passes, people usually learn to not get their hopes up as to not hurt themselves when the illusions fail. It’s much easier to adopt a pessimistic attitude to cope with this dilemma. Pessimism is preferable to depression and hopelessness, because it is a conscious attitude of judgement rather than emotional overwhelm.
Most people strive to compete, to excel, to stand out, to fit in, to be unselfish, to be a singular entity of value. For the little self to have significance, it must compare itself to others as to gain the upper hand in some way. If it’s not through it’s health and beauty it could be through misfortune and illness. If it’s not through confidence it could be through insecurity. The attempt to be anything is always an attempt to assert the small self. To be a distinctly good person, other people must be seen as less than good. This is always the case. For a separate self to be great someone outside of the self must be less great. From a perspective of inclusion and connectedness this dynamic is unfortunate, but can it be helped? If one looks around, it seems not – for the sense of separateness is active and alive in most people. Any threat to their separate existence gives rise to massive amounts of fear which in some leads to the desire to reject and out maneuver opponents. Most people find it natural to be self-protective in this way – if not physically, at least mentally and emotionally.
Not everyone sees the little self as good because of the implications previously described. They see the destructive tendencies of the special self and deems it’s existence to be hateful. It’s seen as wrong to judge another in order to protect the little self. It can’t get more complex or confusing than this. Something that claims to be the self but distinct from certain parts of itself, turns inward and sees threat. It has discovered that the enemy lives within and that it must be turned against in order to protect the goodness that is threatened by it. The little self has absurdly fragmented like this because it can’t even see itself as wholly good anymore. It viciously hates on itself in the name of love. Attack on anything can only be justified if it’s an actual threat to life and it’s goodness. People have different perceptions of what is good and bad, but the rule still applies. Attack is an agent of love in the ego’s twisted thought system. Isn’t it true that you have judged certain things within yourself to be conducive to life and innocence, to strength and beauty, and certain things to be the opposite, shameful, weak, ugly and pathetic? You recognize your flaws and set out on a mission to try to better yourself, to become wholly good through erasing or diminishing ”negative” traits and behaviors.
There’s nothing positive that arises from maintaining a special self. The good that seems to be gained is not completely good and is therefore not good at all. There’s selfhood that doesn’t have to attack to feel strong, because it has no opponents and rivals. Confidence that is natural stems from this whole self, the unconditional and unlimited. Only the small self can perceive blockages to it’s greatness. The whole self is undefined and can’t be attacked by concepts. The little self has nothing and has to compensate for this inherent lack. The compensation never ends is and it never works. It’s a futile effort that keeps being extended because one refuses to give up littleness. Greatness is sought in limited concepts by the small self, in empty constructs that are meaningless without context. Even though it’s easy to see how the special self is insane in this way, most people won’t let go of it, because they are afraid of death even though they hate themselves and the world.
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marsandchariot · 11 months ago
Some thoughts on the natal chart of Heaven’s Gate
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William Lilly (b. 1608) popularized the natal chart as a reflection of the individual, but ancient astrology was utilized more as a lens for global (relatively speaking) events like war, agricultural cycles, weather, and the longevity or character of royal dynasties. I love looking at charts in general but I especially enjoy thinking about events’ inceptions as individual narratives that are socially metabolized. Stories jump out of event charts differently than they do from individual charts. If you are someone who considers your own birth chart or the charts of others, make sure also to explore the dates of different events in your life (books, films etc are also fun to examine in this way). Any moment you select is subject to the same archetypal cast of symbols as is an individual life.
This is a bit Aquarian in the idea that we can examine the social through a zooming out from or the collapsing of individual psychologies into macro, mythic surfaces. In keeping with Aquarian themes, I watched a bit of the new Heaven’s Gate doc last night. I wouldn’t say I’m fascinated by cults etc etc, but I can’t help responding to a birth time, and Heaven’s Gate has one! For me this is an ideal reading, where most of what I know about Heaven’s Gate is largely through osmosis. It wasn’t until after watching some of the first episode that I learned that the buildup to what we consider the culminating event was actually ~20 years in the making. I have not studied the progression of--or figures central to--the movement. Some people do their best work when they are immersed in research of a subject; I myself tend toward flash or impressionism, so I want to capture this phase before I continue watching the documentary. 
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I’m thinking of this placement less as a moment of inception (the way we might read it in the chart of an individual, as the experience of separation from the body of the parent, becoming a discrete entity) and more descriptive of the way we might encounter the cultural phenomenon of Heaven’s Gate at first glance. It may feel rooted in occultism or obscurity—Sagittarius carries notions of philosophy, education, intellectual magic; I’m thinking of The Magician card and its depiction of a single figure controlling all the elements, convening heaven and earth in their alchemical process of discovery. We often characterize movements as centering around a single idea, or a powerful persona, as with Charles Manson or Jim Jones, but there is always a larger atmosphere to examine. Neptune asks us to look beyond superficial characterizations of events in order to understand their mundanity in equal measure to their mystique. Foucault refers to all research as archaeological in that it is a type of unearthing or excavation, a making-sense of objects that may no longer exist and so deliver not direct answers but different articulations of fragmented meaning. What is important too is that Neptune may represent the illusion of origins and root causes. From Stalker (1979), “I dig for the truth, but while I do, something happens to it.” Obscurity is not dispelled, but re-oriented. 
We might think of the moon as the id or the unconscious. Liz Greene describes the difference between the sun and the moon as the difference between aspiration and unconscious emotional need—the former describes an active mode of attainment or embodiment, while the latter is a pulsing lack to which one cannot help but respond. The moon is in detriment in Capricorn, in mutual reception with Saturn, who also experiences detriment in Cancer. This opposition is uncomfortable—the emotional needs are difficult to meet. This difficulty may describe the dispositions of those drawn to the Heaven’s Gate movement; Cancer in 8th may describe one who doesn’t feel “at home”—like the Gnostic subject, who pledges allegiance to the god of an entirely different realm, and must suffer alienation in this realm as a result. The moon’s placement speaks to an unsettled sense of self, a need to strive or work toward a comfortable psychological situation. This moon does not “have enough”—not necessarily in a material sense, but they do feel dispossessed, as if their history and culture do not belong to them, or they do not belong to the history they have been given. 
The 5th house speaks to creation, production, a making manifest. What Heaven’s Gate purported to give was a way forward—a strategy, a directive. It doesn’t take particularly complex analysis to guess that for the emotionally listless or dislocated, this resolve would have been seductive. Joan Didion’s collection, The White Album (1979), describes this generation far more incisively and expertly than I will attempt to do here; instead, picture the Aries Jupiter as striding confidently forward without fear, of translating subjective experience into universal understanding, resulting in decisive action. This was not just an idea, but a way to manifest one’s presence in the world; not just about joining a collective, but about using the language of collective experience to articulate higher individual selfhood. 
With two Geminis exiting the White House next month, it feels important to acknowledge the more toxic stereotypical Gemini qualities at play in tearing the country apart for the last four years (though of course the foundation for such a conflict is deeper-rooted and further-reaching than a single presidential term, as it is unrealistic to attribute the momentum of such movements to simply a demagogue). The Trump argument for a stolen election is one element of what has been described as “mass political disinformation.” Gemini cares less about the truth, and more about how a truth is expressed; less about the effectiveness of an idea, and more about being pleased by its shape. And they won’t be pinned down, held to anything they’ve previously said, if in some later context that thing no longer serves them (if you watch enough Bob Dylan interviews you’ll see what I mean—don’t ask him about folk music, don’t ask him what he believes, don’t ask him where he’s from—if you never tell the truth, then it’s almost like you’re never really lying, you’re just saying things, creating momentum through language).
We can see this stereotype on the one hand as, yes, members of Heaven’s Gate were lied to and manipulated. Gemini’s ruler, Mercury, is a slick operator in Libra. Libra quells doubt, seals holes, soothes unease—all the dynamics involved in the appearance of equilibrium or social harmony. We can see Mercury’s conjunction with Pluto as the god of communication acting in service to the god of death. The rhetoric of Heaven’s Gate is designed to ease its members toward radical sacrifice. The 11th house speaks to communities, groups, friends—the social world, and, in this case, social organization and purpose.
The 7th house is the house of the Other, and is where we may look in an individual’s chart to read their close 1:1 relationships. It would have been important for Heaven’s Gate to discredit the friends and families of their members, to emphasize that these are the people that the members should no longer trust and confide in. The Gemini stereotype here, of manipulation and dishonesty, is projected onto the Other—a Them—to consolidate the self, an Us. Mars here makes the disconnection from loved ones particularly dramatic. Mars wants to cut, to define, to separate; it is the individuating act. It is also worth mentioning Lynn Bell’s description of Mars as the protector of the moon, of the unconscious; if the moon feels threatened, it is Mars who steps in and takes over. If an increased involvement in Heaven’s Gate results in members’ loved one’s questioning their involvement, then it is the deep-seated sense of alienation (the moon) that is heightened, ameliorated by a severing of ties (Mars). If Gemini speaks to duality or two-ness, Mars is about making that division manifest. 
The 9th House in Hellenistic astrology represents temple work or religious duties, and so for readings of individuals alive today we typically adapt this meaning to describe academic or professional institutions, but here we can really embrace the ancient associations. This is absolutely how the institution of Heaven’s Gate represented itself—transparent, loving, and in loyal service to the good, and to the happiness of its members. The “gate” itself feels as if it refers to a 9th house structure (thinking of heaven elsewhere described as a “kingdom”), with Venus at the threshold guiding members toward an embrace of institutional values. I haven’t looked at the charts for Ti and Do, but it feels significant that they are “the Two”—a platonic pair whose relationship forms the wellspring of the movement, which feels very Venusian. We might place The Lovers card beside the card of The Devil, and see the same figures in both cards. The Lovers’ equivalent in the zodiac, of course, is Gemini. 
If the moon is the id, the sun is the ego—the conscious experience of the self, the path that is chosen, the disposition by which the self feels most connected to worldly perception. The 10th house, “the crown you wear,” positions the ego identity of Heaven’s Gate; what it thinks it is, as a public organization that is meant to efficiently serve its members—to construct and carry out a plan. It is interesting to think of Virgo and Scorpio on either side of Libra, two weights in balance on the scale; this also describes the Persephone myth, in which Virgo descends to the realm of Scorpio and returns with divine knowledge, incurring the changing of the seasons; whose being is intricately tied to the rotation of the earth. Virgo’s responsibility, then, is to bear the fate of the world in their minute actions. Heaven’s Gate in this way positions itself as serving humanity through a practical, incremental system, which relies on everyone “doing their part.” 
To me it is difficult to find more aptly conflated synonyms for death, unless maybe you replace Uranus with Pluto. Uranian matters are dramatic, revolutionary. They speak to transformative change—as does the 12th house, as does Scorpio. This placement imbues Heaven’s Gate with such an inevitability of death, but the kind of death that is cosmically resonant in that it has the power to change how death in this context is understood. This 12th house, “the bottoming out,” feels like a reservoir that feeds into the Sagittarian Neptune, the sediment that must be continuously re-worked or rediscovered in whatever form it takes in its periods of hibernation. Neptune in Sagittarius may represent the fossilization process of Uranus in Scorpio. I may have more to say about this once I finish the documentary, but I am looking forward to watching for impressions of how “death” is constructed, or re-made as an artifact of social, extraterrestrial liberation.
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dustedmagazine · 10 months ago
Apartment House on Another Timbre: Three Perspectives
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If you survey the website of Apartment House, you won’t find an “about” page or any exposition of the ensemble’s history or philosophy. While such reticence is rare these days amongst artistic endeavors of any stripe, the very lack of information tells you something about Apartment House’s raison d’être. It’s all about the work, and the ensemble’s role is to make performances that are about the music, and not Apartment House’s take on the music. This renunciation of ego makes sense when you consider that the ensemble’s name derives from a John Cage composition; one of Cage’s intentions was to envision music that was open to the world and wasn’t about assertions of selfhood. Cellist Anton Lukoszevieze founded the ensemble in 1995, but its recording career didn’t get into gear until 2013.
Since then, the group has released 22 single or double CDs covering work by contemporary composers ranging from Cornelius Cardew to Christian Wolff to Linda Catlin Smith to Ryoko Akama. With a rotating membership, performances range from solos and duos to chamber ensembles. Thirteen were issued by the Another Timbre label, including three titles at once in late 2020, each presenting the music of a single composer — Martin Arnold (b. 1958), Antoine Beuger (b. 1955) and Maya Verlaak (1990). The act of releasing these albums simultaneously affords a chance to consider how Apartment House engages with the different intentions and requirements asserted by each composer. Dusted writers Marc Medwin, Michael Rosenstein and Bill Meyer cover the three recent releases.
Maya Verlaak / Apartment House— All English Music is Greensleeves (Another Timbre)
All English Music is Greensleeves by Maya Verlaak
Múm was an Icelandic group with singers channeling the wisely innocent voices of children while a lush landscape, rife with music boxes and other liquid-crystal sonorities, multihued the adjacent soundspaces. There is something similarly open about this music, something so unpredictably predictable, so comforting, so quietly inclusive! Belgian composer Maya Verlaak delves to the depths of experience’s networks while observing from just far enough to escape the iron grip and rationalizations of memory. This is music in which even the harshest sounds melt into a winning simplicity, a world of sound and sense in symbiosis.
It would be too easy to point toward modality to explain such a beautifully optimistic vision. After all, “All British Music is Greensleeves” tears that increasingly irrelevant construct to shreds in a hurry as two layers of sound, one prerecorded, spin bits of the tune down the dimly lit corridors conjoining memory and reflection. Chord, cluster and motive blur boundaries, even as space ensures a tidy trail of readily identifiable components needling consciousness reluctantly toward recognition. It’s a world with which Ives or Mahler might have made contact, had chamber music been more in their sights, such are the buds and blooms of poly-event amidst distantly lit string writing that refuses to answer Ives’ perennial question. The unfurling harmonies, formed of motives in quasi-counterpoint, are inextricably linked with their kaleidoscopic timbres. Recurrence is both evident and backgrounded but none so blatant as the delicious silences, almost periodic, separating the streamlined multivalences. Fortunately, as with many Apartment House recordings, vibrato is nearly absent.
The “Formation” pieces place a similarly subversive emphasis on relationship so subliminal that a simple listen won’t unlock the door or open the blinds. Any hats doffed toward conventional chord or set are quickly displaced by the gentle but insistent winds of change emanating from a vocal imperative or an intoned repetition. Mark Knoop and Sarah Saviet are in something near dialogue with overlapping technologies guided by a compositional voice whose questions also seek a malleable answer. The openness at the heart of Verlaak’s work stems from the various paths through subversion, re-subversion and integration integral to the majority of these pieces. What, in the case of “Song and Dance,” do performers do when confronted only with the analysis, or justification, for a musical score rather than with the score itself? What happens when the justification becomes the score? How is it possible, practical or desirable to confront musical parameters neither heard nor witnessed? The wonderful thing about such conceptions is that they really form the metanarrative of all artistic endeavor. No art, no matter how explicit, relinquishes all of its secrets, just as no single pitch or sonority, even those as pure as Apartment House offers with staggering consistency, is the actual embodiment of that sound. Composers and performers deal in approximations, and it is to Verlaak’s credit that the processes have been rendered at least partially transparent with such beautifully cooperative forces to give them form and voice.
Marc Medwin
Martin Arnold / Apartment House—Stain Ballads (Another Timbre)
'Stain Ballads' by Martin Arnold
This is the second release on Another Timbre by Canadian composer Martin Arnold, the first being The Spit Veleta a 2017 program of violin and piano solos and duos by Apartment House members Philp Thomas and Mira Benjamin. This time out, Arnold provides the group with a program consisting of a solo, a duo, a quartet, and piece for sextet. Across the four pieces, the composer balances a sense of lyricism with a fascination with the abstracted concept of “formlessness.” In his interview on the Another Timbre site, he puts it this way when asked about the title of the CD. “Stains are… radically specific – always stain-shaped. They might remind one of something – like when one looks at the inkblots of a Rorschach test (though significantly, they don't have Rorschach's added symmetry) – but they don't present a form, a coherent outline, a generic structure that can be abstracted and distilled; with a stain, form and content are the same thing. My work continues to aspire to that condition.” Each of the four pieces here delve in to the way that melodies and themes can be opened up to ride the edges of lyricism and abstraction.
The program opens with “Lutra” for solo cello and humming performed by Anton Lukoszevieze. The piece starts out with arco themes colored with hummed and bowed diaphanous overtones. Hovering at the upper registers of the instrument, threads are introduced, slowly progressing, punctuated occasionally by softly plucked notes. Staying within the same set of registers as well as harmonic and timbral areas, Lukoszevieze lets the notes resonate and serenely decay. In the last section the piece moves to percussively plucked notes with poised slow resolve, fading to hushed resonance in the final moment. “Stain Ballad” follows, orchestrated for cello, piano, viola, two violins, reed organ, and percussion. Arnold voices the various layers in a slow flux, moving in and out of synch with each other. The ensemble does a sterling job of maintaining an overall balance so that no one particular instrument is ever the sole focus. Instead, the various parts wend along as various subsections of the ensemble coalesce and then dissipate in to the mercurial overall flow of the piece. The striated parts adeptly take advantage of the timbral synergies and contrasts of the instruments as one moment, string arco melds with reed organ while in other sections, the percussive attack of Philip Thomas’ piano, the woody retort of Simon Limbrick’s percussion and pizzicato strings shift and shudder across each other.
The pairing of Lukoszevieze’s cello and Mira Benjamin’s violin on “Trousers” dives in to specific techniques like the utilization of multiple mutes, bowing with the wood of the bow, hushed microtones and a sliding sense of harmonics. Arnold talks about it, noting that “the sound of “Trousers” is certainly at odds with a “good” Classical sound: I shut down projection, fullness of tone, resonance, the consistency, stability and predictability of the sound being produced.” Over the course of the 22 minute piece, fragments of melody, muted textures and quavering string overtones play off of each other with measured consideration. Themes play out, get subsumed into the progression of the piece and then resurface. The recording closes out with “Slip,” a quartet for cello, violin, bass clarinet, and piano. The piece takes its name from the Irish slip jig, a jig that is in 9/8 as opposed to the usual 6/8 and a slowed pace accentuates the odd time signature. For the first quarter of the piece, cello, violin and bass clarinet move in woozy unison, lithely navigating the precarious phrasing. Pianist Mark Knoop’s entry, a quarter way in, introduces spare chords that serve to unsettle the phrasing even further, though the quartet never wavers in their assuredly ambling momentum. As the piece proceeds, the four parts veer off from each other, with lines dropping in and out. High-pitched violin arco sounds against crystalline piano chords making way for pizzicato cello and piano. The final section featuring Heather Roche’s dusky bass clarinet playing brings the piece to a transfixing conclusion. On Stain Ballads, Arnold continues to expand on his strategies toward opening up and abstracting melody, balancing compositional form with a sense of “formlessness.” With the members of Apartment House, he has found worthy collaborators.
Michael Rosenstein
Antoine Beuger / Apartment House—Jankélévitch Sextets (Another Timbre)
'jankélévitch sextets' by Antoine Beuger
In 1992, Antoine Beuger cofounded Editions Wandelweiser, the publishing arm of a community of like-minded, post-John Cageian composers. Along the way he has taken on the roles of artistic and managing director. Since Wandelweiser is a collective, his stewardship of the label and publishing arms makes him influential, but not an authoritarian figure. Quite the contrary. On Another Timbre website, there is an interview with Beuger that raises a provocative point about the authority of the score. He compares the current position of a classical composer to a perspective prescribed by Christian theology. The composer hands down rarefied instructions, which he (Beuger emphasizes the masculinity of this approach) best understands, and leaves to others the work of realizing his often very difficult and inscrutable instructions.
With Jankélévitch Sextets, Beuger takes a different approach. It is the fourth in a series of pieces that he wrote for specified numbers of musicians. Each composition deals with relationships implied by that number, and each does so employing mainly quiet, sustained tones. Additionally, each acknowledges a cultural figure; in this case, the Franco-Russian philosopher, Vladimir Jankélévitch. Beuger cites his appreciation for two of Jankélévitch’s ideas. First, music has no itinerary; it flows unpredictably. Second, sounds appear by disappearing. The latter point makes sense if you consider how you notice phenomena only after they stop. One suspects that if Jankélévitch was a fan of mid-20th century American music, he’d have had a lot of time for William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water (Till The Well Runs Dry).”
Beuger’s piece consists of repeated statements of a close bundle of long tones, each followed by a brief silence, with instruments insinuating themselves or dropping out during each pass. While the name is plural, the music is presented as a single, 64:20 long track, which asks the listener to accompany the ensemble through its entirety. The instrumentation consists of accordion, bassoon, bass clarinet, violin, viola, and double bass, which affords many opportunities for similar-sounding pitches to ease shift between close harmony and beating difference tones. This is not music that tugs at your sleeve; neither ingratiating nor imposing, it’s there if you wish to approach it, cycling through changes that reveal sounds by removing them. The music locates the essence of six-ness not in some contrapuntal exchange that draws attention to all the voices, but in the way that a group can persevere over time by allowing its members opportunities for respite. Apartment House’s treatment of this material captures its subtle balance. It takes discipline to blend sounds so patiently, and even more to do so in a way that don’t ask you to admire their restraint.
Bill Meyer
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chuckakot · a year ago
I must not think the unthinkable, the imagery of the imaginative– all of these fragments have a distinct place in my heart. There is at least an inanimate form of presenting my moral creativeness in the pursuit of formative writing, to give and render my life as a moving landscape, a river of placid dreams, an independent fruit, as to continue the question that needs an answer, to derive a meaning, for which I am thriving to unearth in my hands, the means to indulge in this human spirit, to be the consciousness of a transiting star, to discern and yearn to the perplexity of life, to rest and begin again like a syncopated breath– a meditative process and striving to hear a voice, the voice of selfhood.
Chuck Akot, voce dell'egoismo
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memoryslandscape · 2 years ago
Anyone who has recollection of going to the movies on a particularly memorable occasion can [. . .] pin the memory to a location in space and time (as far as it is possible to reliably determine the coordinates of either); [you can] give the waypoint a bit of jiggle to stir any dormant narratives of self that may reside there; map out from that point to the wider geographies of selfhood that tell a patchwork tale of one's life at the time; bewail the loss of youthful vigour and the slow accretion of time passed (or perhaps wince with the realisation of how far one had needed to travel to get from that point to where he or she is now); reach out (or back) to those whose trajectory had, for a period, become intertwined with your own before snaking off in another direction; [. . .] As will become clear, auto-mapping practices such as this are most productively thought of as 'memory-work.' Similar ideas feed into analyses centred on micro-geographies of music and memory [. . .] Within [this] framework, what we might think of as memory-work begins with the elicitation of ethnographic narratives of music, place and personal memory, a process that reveals how fragments of musical memory--a particular song or playlist, a memorable concert or festival experience, shared or personal soundtracks to journeys taken by car or train--can often vividly evoke very particular times and places in a person's life. What makes it memory-work is a recognition of the prompting and elicitation required to extricate any given memory (and associated memoryscapes) from the oblivion of amnesia. The objective is to mobilise storylines--lines that start from a salvaged location or echoic musical refrain that resounds with meanings and affects; lines that trace a landscape which, the further it pulls us in, the more its detail is lineated; lines that flow and bleed and etch themselves into more or less recognizable from.
Les Roberts, from Spatial Anthropology: Excursions in Liminal Space (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018)
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beatboxvinyl · 11 months ago
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Fav LPs 2o2o.
Vatican Shadow ‎| Persian Pillars Of The Gasoline Era [20 Buck Spin] Muslimgauze ‎| Return Of Black September [Staalplaat] Tongues Of Light | The Myth Of Separation And Selfhood [Pre-Cert Home Entertainment] Muslimgauze ‎| Salaam Alekum, Bastard [Kvitnu] Biosphere ‎| N-Plants [Biophon] Haus Arafna ‎| Asche [Galakthorrö] 怨 = Enmity | 巫怨 = Wu Yuan [GoatowaRex] Prurient ‎| Casablanca Flamethrower [Tesco Organisation] Zaliva-D ‎| Sky Singing (Echo Edition) [WV Sorcerer Productions] die ANGEL | Utopien I [Karlrecords] Blakk Harbor | A Modern Dialect [Blakk Harbor] NOOR1 | Α.Ψ.Μ. [Modal Analysis] Headless Horseman ‎| Inhabited Shadows [Headless Horseman] Various ‎| Divide & Rule [Pi Electronics] Antechamber | Archaic Idol [Polymorphism Records] ASC | Isolated Systems [Samurai Music] DYL & DB1 ‎| Ecou [re:st] ASC & Sam KDC ‎| A Restless Mind [Auxiliary] D.Å.R.F.D.H.S. ‎| Förintelsen & Döden [Opal Tapes] The Future Sound Of London ‎| A Controlled Vista [Touched Revolutions] Various ‎| Sonic Groove: 25 Years (1995 - 2020) [Sonic Groove] Various ‎| 5Y [47 Label] SNTS ‎| The Unfinished Fight Against Humanity [SNTS] Orphx ‎| Fragmentation [Hospital Productions] Slow White Fall | Pushing Through A Wall [Downwards]
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lisalowefanclub · a year ago
While searching for content for this blog, we stumbled upon an excerpt from the book Soul in Seoul: African American Music and K-pop by Crystal Anderson, a Black woman who conducts research in transnational American Studies, Black internationalism, and global Asias. We highly recommend skimming it if you have the time, but here are a few concepts I found to be incredibly thought-provoking and relevant to our understanding of Lisa Lowe’s work on hybridity. 
When it comes to sustaining a fan base in the US, Anderson points out the major obstacle of the history between the two countries, which is shaped by America's own racial history, immigration, and its relationship with Korea. According to Anderson, the traces of this history effectively “color the way that people perceive the cultural production of other countries”. 
For us, this brings to mind America’s clandestine Forgotten War in Korea in the early 50s, during which civilians were subjected to indiscriminate strafing in the name of preventing the global spread of communism. This conflict has, of course, more complexity than we can capture in the scope of this essay, so we recommend reading Grace Cho’s book, Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War for a more complete picture. What is the legacy left behind by the traces of the forgotten war in Korea, and how might it shape American consumption of K-pop? One effect of the extreme violence of this war is that American military officials and soldiers dehumanized “average primitive Koreans” (Cho 2008 p.69) in order to rationalize their own actions. Despite these genocidal acts, as the war progressed, US military bases became emblematic of survival by virtue of American benevolence and the opportunities for employment which they provided.
Although this might appear to be unrelated to the current image of urbanization and modernity put forth by K-pop, we highlight snapshots of this history in order to draw attention to the conditions which continue to shape relations between the US and South Korea, no matter how in/visible we perceive them to be. Returning to Anderson’s book, the author reinforces this idea when she writes, “Koreans face a global context where the image of their country remains distorted by others. Image has thus become a mechanism where Koreans create their own version of themselves”. She goes on to cite John Seabrook, who draws a link between the rising popularity of K-pop and South Korea’s post-modern image. He says, “Hallyu [the sweeping wave of global Korean popularity] has erased South Korea’s regional reputation as a brutish emerging industrial nation where everything smelled of garlic and kimchi, and replaced it with images of prosperous, cosmopolitan life” (2012). In other words, South Korea’s history of loss and fragmentation has given rise to a new kind of cultural production through the navigation of precarity generated by historical trauma.
Thus, a country once defined by its physical markers of difference-- pungent food aromas and industrial grime-- creates alternative narratives of selfhood through the international marketing and exportation of K-pop. The K-pop industry is what Lisa Lowe conceptualizes in Immigrant Acts as a cultural object exhibiting hybridity. The product has been and is shaped through encounters with colonial legacy, imperialism, capitalism, and contemporary globalization. As a more recent invention, though, K-pop takes the form of a commodity for consumption in the age of the attention economy. The music itself is not enough. K-pop’s performers, aptly called idols, are an inseparable part of the K-pop cultural object. In adopting this role, the person (typically in their early teens or twenties) is required to forsake their individual identity in order to represent and fulfill the consumers’ desires. For instance, by becoming a trainee, aspiring idols must adhere to a strict code of conduct which forbids romantic entanglements, indulgent foods, and even time-consuming friendships. Typically, trainees typically rarely have time to visit their friends or family, and if they are from another Asian country besides Korea, they must often suppress this individuality in the name of group homogeneity and national selfhood. In essence, idols are commodified such that they become cultural representatives of the nation as a whole. Two examples of this are highlighted by Anderson, one being the selection of MONSTA X to be ambassadors for Girl Scouts Korea because of “their diverse talents and charms”, and because “their active and healthy person fits Girl Scout’s image” (Anderson 2020). Another example is of BTS’s speech at the UN for UNICEF’s Generations Unlimited initiative.  
As Lowe points out, hybridity does not necessarily result in assimilation of culture to dominant forms, but instead “marks the history of survival within the relationships of unequal power and domination” (Lowe 1996 p.67). There is no doubt that K-pop culture is wholeheartedly Korean, yet it is clear that it has been shaped by the unequal power relations present throughout Korean history. 
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soracities · 5 months ago
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Simone Weil, “Void and Compensation” (trans. Emma Craufurd), Simone Weil: An Anthology
[Text ID: “I also am other than what I imagine myself to be. To know this is forgiveness.”]
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