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19 April 2015 @ 08:53 pm
- Today is suddenly hot. Goddammit, summer is coming. The humidity has arrived.
- I met met a lovely lady from the Dominican today. We talked for an hour when I meant to run home. I wish I could keep her.
- My large glass of cafe con leche is fucking killing my stomach. My insides are liquid.
- Talking with my baby brother about the new Star Wars trailer was so much fun, we kept bouncing ideas about the possibilities hinted through all the little background details. We are both so pumped.
- I finished my Rare Ship Swap fic. All I have left is to edit my Dragon Age Big Bang by May, and I’m gold. No more fix exchanges for a while.
- I am considering writing, at a leisurely pace, a long detailed piece exploring Zevran, Fenris, and Sera in post-DA:I, all of them finding their places, and how their pasts relates to it. Exploring the choice and lack of choice there. Introduce the problems of placing power in the Inquisition and specifically the Inquisitor. Pairings would be Zevran/Alistair (because I’m predictable), which will lead me to Warden angle. Fenris/Cullen (because two kinds of lyrium issues are fun!), which leads me to the templar angle. And Sera/Morrigan, which leads me to the elf and PC!Warden angle.
- I decided that Sera is Warden Surana’s baby sister, and no one can tell me otherwise. I’m even designing a Surana who looks similar to her.
- I’ve been reading on Rivain, and I think it’s a crime that Rivain has been so ignored in the games. The countries I most want to explore are Antiva, Rivain, and Nevarra. I don’t give a shit about the basic European settings found in Fereldan, the Marches, and Orlais. I wish Bioware would stop privileging these sorts of stock settings.
Canon largely implies the Chantry is a social entity that also provides care for the disenfranchised. At least in theory. Though they obviously have done terrible things (such as the Orlesian Chantry sanctioning the invasion, destruction, and subsequent marginalization of all elves), they do good, too. All the characters tell you this, thoughout all three games. In fact, Cassandra's reformation desire is born of wishing to see the Chantry back off from politics and see to the poor and disenfranchised. Leliana wants it to be more accepting of a diverse population. They both agree the Chantry can be and has been a force for good, as well as for bad.

As such, the Chantry seems to possibly provide orphanage services. In DA:O you can tell an orphaned child to go the Chantry, where he will be cared for. In addition to this, Alistair tells you templar recruits are schooled in the Chantry. Cullen confirms they are taken young. Alistair was given at age ten to the Chantry, Cullen at thirteen. They literally lived in the Chantry as children. Leliana also tells you most Chantry priests are taken young. They have no lives before the Chantry. The actual ages are not expounded, but it is implied that most are children or teenagers. Who are schooled and raised by the Chantry. Which means any Chantry could house any number of children.

Kirkwall was a very large Chantry. We never got to fully explore it. The game's limited resources clearly didn't populate it fully. The devs admitted this. They confirmed that Anders murdered hundreds when he blew up the Chantry.

Putting all this together strongly implies that Anders also murdered numerous children, in addition to the regular assortment of Chantry priests and Chantrygoers, from orphans to young templar recruits to young priests in training.

Next up: The Fundamental Flaw in Equating Fenris to Anders

[Edit: I wanted to clarify that I'm not arguing children's lives are more valuable. I firmly believe all life is equally valuable. However, many Anders apologists construct arguments rendering the Chantry guilty of various crimes or negligence towards mages, thus trying to make Anders a hero for his act of mass murder. I deeply disagree with them. I wanted to bring this up since even according to their arguments, you cannot hold a child to be responsible for the corrupt/oppressive power structure of the Chantry. But even if we followed their flawed logic, their arguments about guilt vs. innocent fall apart. I even once saw a post that said because Anders didn't murder any children, no one innocent died. But he very likely did. Even they would have to condemn Anders. But either way, I firmly believe that no matter the age of his victims, Anders did a terrible thing. None of those people could defend themselves. Possessing social privilege doesn't suddenly mean your life is worthless, wtaf.]
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: Art of Noise - Robinson Crusoe
12 April 2015 @ 11:24 pm
The Anders apologists are making me want to rip out my hair and scream again. Tumblr Savior isn't enough. I need my blood pressure pills and a nap.
03 April 2015 @ 11:47 pm
This week has been a rollercoaster of inactivity and hyperactivity.

- The first part of this week was the tail end of my vacation. I gave up on writing anything for the Dragon Age Big Bang at first, as I kept second guessing the context of everything I wrote and then deleting it.

- For my vacation, I stayed at home and watched Legend of Korra and cooked my favorite meals, basically. Oh, and continued my private Dragon Age RP with my partner, but I do that all the time.

- This week was spring vacation for my kids, but I still had to go to work. Because my school block in Japan doesn't believe in planning ahead, I still don't know what the fuck is going on, and I can't prepare for an unknown.

- There was literally nothing to do and then everything to do. It kept alternating. Random things would pop up and I would work furiously for an hour or two, and then there was nothing for another hour or two, and then some other sudden surprise.

- The new school year meetings were epic length (over three hours for one, ffs) and a fascinating study of how human beings handle extreme boredom. Many teachers pretended to listen, but my favorites were the ones who gave up. One openly fell asleep at his desk and didn't wake up until he started to tip out of his chair. Another kept staring at the lights with his mouth slightly open. One turned her fingernails into her new art project (and she's the art teacher, so it's even funnier). One kept stabbing himself in various places across his face with his pen, either to keep himself awake or to check he could still feel his face, idek. My favorite was the computer teacher, who upon discovering he ran out of pens to organize, spent five minutes looking like he wanted to cry. XD

- I have a new elementary school and half the people I work closely with, including the principal and vice principal at my junior high school, had to change schools. Everything is changing, and it's driving me crazy. I hate changes at work and the inability to prepare in advance. I like schedules and regiments and knowing things in advance. The Japanese education system clearly doesn't give a fuck about my anxiety. Then again, given what I have observed with how my students suffer under the unnecessary and excessive burdens it lays upon them, I can safely conclude the Japanese education system clearly doesn't give a fuck about anyone's anxiety!

- One of the new male teachers coming in is young and very handsy with me (keeps patting me on the back and shoulder and shaking my hand like ten times, and I cannot stress to you how anxious physical contact with men makes me). During the work party (a special one to say farewell to teachers leaving and welcome the new ones), he kept asking me to invite him to my "home party." He also got staggering drunk and really forward. He was punching pillars and never shut up during the speeches and staggering about the whole time and generally acted like an ass during the entire party. After the party, outside, he tried to grab me suddenly, but another male teacher stepped in and hit him with his cast (he has a broken arm) to distract the dude. To further distract the drunk handsy teacher, I told him to please drink some water in Japanese, which got a big laugh from everyone (even him). I'm going to have to keep an eye on him. I really hope he doesn't become a problem. It's my last semester in Japan. I especially don't need problems like that.

- So I wrote fanfiction in my downtime. And at home. In less than three days, I made it past 10,000 words. It started out as a random funny idea for one fic exchange, but then it got long and fit the Dragon Age Big Bang. I wasn't sure if I could make it, but I did. Barely, with two hours to spare. And it still needs to be edited. It might actually even be funny. I don't normally write funny things. It's a big experiment for me.

- Now I need a new idea for the other fic exchange, fuck.

- I did adult things, like mail off student loan paperwork and buy clothes and groceries. I'm also approaching broke, thanks to surprise expenses and an upcoming doctor appointment (where my med supply for 2 months usually puts me in the hole for US $130 to $150). I'm going to have to scrape out money from my savings so I have money to eat until next payday. That makes me angry. I'm not trying to be a miser. I'm saving money so I have some to live off when I am unemployed and move back. Also, I really want a small Disney vacation with my nieces and nephews when I get home. I'm foregoing a lot of travel in Japan because I think going on vacation with my family after having lived in another country for nearly two years is more important. Living in Japan is lonely. I miss my babies.

- I have only gotten 4 to 5 hours sleep in the last three nights. Before that, I was only getting 7. Normally, I'm a 9 hour sleep kinda personal. So combine that with my anxiety, and my sudden fic productivity, and contrast it to my depressive low last week, and well, now you know what a depressive high looks like kids. Don't try bipolar disorder at home, kids.

- Next up on my itinerary is sleep. Hopefully, it will go back to normal soon
This is just a much smaller piece that I might put into a larger series on sexuality in the Dragon Age games.

The Dragon Age canon tells us Alistair and Cullen are heterosexual, so--

--wait. Hold up. Let's examine that before we go any further. Does canon actually tell us that?

Alistair: Female only romance option in DA:O. Follows a very clear heteronormative pattern of behavior in his romance. He could potentially have a sexual encounter with Isabela (and Leliana) ONLY if you're in a romance with him and go off for a threesome (or foursome). He could potentially have sex with Morrigan, but only if you persuade him to perform the Dark Ritual. The Darkspawn Chronicles present to you the rumor he was having an affair with Leliana if the singular Warden. If he marries Anora, the question if they have sex is not discussed in the text.
Cullen: Openly exhibits attraction to a female mage Warden character. Female only romance option in DA:I (specifically only humans and elves, which is a whole other ball of wax). Also follows a very clear heterosexual romance trajectory (debatable if heteronormative), though it does trouble heteronormative power assignations. Cullen's sexual history is never discussed.

And, I guess, if all that matters to you about these characters is who the text actually shows them bumping uglies with, you could easily conclude they were heterosexual. But, as you can imagine, that's not all I care about. Some points to consider:
- Heterosexuality is not an act. Sex can be heterosexual, but heterosexuality need not include sex. You can also have heterosexual sex and not be heterosexual.
- Heterosexuality is a social performance. It is a socialized behavior. As a case in point, many gay people (including myself), switch pronouns as a social protection. Many LGBT people perform straight in order to protect themselves from negative reactions.
- Alistair and Cullen are both Ferelden. Fereldan culture does not forbid homosexual behavior, but it does not socially approve of it. It is a social scandal if one is revealed to have a same gender lover, per the Codex entry. Discretion, therefore secrecy, is encouraged with same gender relations. This homophobia (because it is homophobia, just not as hostile as real world homophobia) is their cultural norm. Even Zevran, who is openly bi, is much more restrained about and in his same gender relationships.
- Templars, which both were trained to be and one actually became, do not have to take vows of celibacy, but it seems a certain level of chastity and sexual ignorance is encouraged. Templars are aligned with the Chantry, which does not sanction same sex marriage.
- We don't see all of their lives or the entire breadth of their relationships and sexual history.
- You cannot flirt with Alistair as a male, and he never seems to clue into Zevran's flirting, so we don't really know how he would react to same gender flirting. You can flirt with Cullen as a male, and he is swift to offer you friendship instead and say he "trust[s] you understand." Understand what, exactly? That the Inquisitor is a Fereldan public scandal waiting to happen if male? Or that he's not into dudes? It's not clear to me.

Neither Cullen nor Alistair necessarily have to be gay or bi or of any non-heterosexual designation. It is perfectly reasonable to conclude they are, indeed, heterosexual, as the text suggests. But presuming that they could not be read as bisexual or even secretly gay based on the limited evidence of their textual romances is really quite heteronormative. It presumes that unless you act in a scripted homosexual or bisexual way, you must be heterosexual. It also presumes that sexualities never develop as a person develops and explores their identity. It presumes a very static reading that revolves something as complex and socially defined as sexuality for these characters revolves around the romantic availability with a single person.

And for me, I relish dwelling in the possibilities, in the subtext, in the readings of the unexplored and unshown areas of character inner and outer lives. I'm a lesbian who once identified as heterosexual and as bisexual at various times in my life. I've had to do a lot of exploration of my identity. I have had to peel through socialization to understand my own reactions and then to my reactions of my reactions. And I like to do that with fictional characters, especially those whose sexualities canon never bothers to examine in a gay light. What I don't like is people telling me that I can't do that because a character has to be read as intended by the creator and/or fans.

That's all I have for now. Thoughts?
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: The Black Mages - Darkness and Starlight
23 March 2015 @ 07:06 pm
I'm posting this here rather than Tumblr because I wouldn't get much interesting discussion there. Just a lot of people unfollowing me or reblogging until someone, somewhere tries to suck me into a pointless, circular argument. It's in response to this.

I think Anders is a fascinating character, but I don’t think I especially like him as a person. I write fic with him. I write meta about him. But I wouldn't invite him to dinner at my house. And if I foolishly did, I would give Fenris permission to throw him out of my house with extreme prejudice less than five minutes after he opened his mouth and anything other than "I'd like more mashed potatoes, please" came out of it.

I think [personal profile] vieralynn is right that a libertarian MRA is much closer to the kind of person Anders is. Specifically the kind that start shooting people they believe have offended them. Did Anders blow up the templar barracks or try to assassinate Knight Commander Meredith, the source of the actual problem? Nah, he blew up a building containing one woman who he felt wasn't doing enough and plenty of other innocent people who had no control over the situation. I believe canon places the body count in the hundreds, also accounting for how the debris destroyed a goodly portion of Kirkwall and killed even more innocent people. He went and killed a lot of innocent people and created utter social chaos to prove a really shitty point. He's basically living the libertarian MRA dream (unless you executed him, in which case he's not living at all).

A notable portion of Tumblr fandom’s love for Anders reads just like sympathetic media narratives on cis white dude mass shooters: "But he’s misunderstood!" "But those people deserved it!" "He had mental/emotional problems!" "People were mean to him!" "I know he did something bad, but...!" "It doesn’t matter that he’s white, he suffered!" "There was no other way!" "But really, he was the most oppressed!"

I mean, I think the post-DA2 dialogue should have gone like this:
Hawke: Anders seemed like such a nice guy! He ran a free clinic! He fed cats! He made jokes! He wore cool clothes! I can’t believe this happened! *clutches hair*
Fenris: *sips coffee* Don’t look at me, I tried to warn you about him since Act 1. But because I said mean things about mages a few times, I get vilified more often than the mass murderer by his fans.
Varric: I can't believe after publishing my book, Anders now has a fan club. What have I done? They're sending me fan letters accusing me of being mean to the guy who blew up my city! *lays head on blank pages and makes dying whale noises*

Things that Anders's fans insist we can't consider when reflecting on Anders's actions include terrorism (often bolstered by a profound misunderstanding of the word and its political uses), his whiteness, his maleness, that he passes for straight in a female Hawke narrative, that mages maybe aren't suffering from the most oppressed oppression to ever oppress, that mages are dangerous, that being possessed by spirits isn't like a real mental disorder (yes, I know Hepler wrote him like he was bipolar, but as someone who has actualfax diagnosed bipolar disorder, can I just say "No. And fuck you."), that mages have no real world analogy, that the narrative never once did anything but condemn his actions even in DA2, and that he might have been lying or exaggerating or otherwise biased. Oh, and never point out that merely saying one acknowledges Anders fucked up and then spending all one's time trying to justify his actions kind of means one actually don't acknowledge he fucked up. Do any of these things, and you're a legit terrible person in the real world who aligns with the forces of evil or something. IDEK. Mages aren't real, Anders isn't real, magic isn't real. and I usually just scroll past the bullshit in search of Zevran pictures and cute animal gifs to reblog instead.

I mean, I can find Anders a bit sympathetic. And I get the plight of the mages, who were clearly often treated unfairly and exist in a system that was too easily exploited by abusive people. I often side with the mages in canon, because the other side is often even more distasteful. But that doesn't mean I buy into this fandom-created narrative that mages are the most oppressed ever and that Anders is just a misunderstood woobie.

But it's easy to see why Anders became Tumblr fandom's pet woobie. He's the poster child for misplaced, poorly educated, and badly misunderstood social justice. And Tumblr pretty much runs on that like a car runs on gasoline.
Current Mood: coldcold
Current Music: Garbage - Special
I haven't been updating here much because I'm beyond burnt out, and emotionally drained, and struggling with serious depressive cycles and, well, PTSD and recently resurfaced memories. The only good thing is that it's made me reflect on how memory works.

Personal stuff.Collapse )

I sometimes update Tumblr, sometimes, but I'm not very dedicated to that. My queue runs empty a lot. I'm just... semi-active in fandom, these days. It's how I roll. I kinda long for the days when I was active and had lots of great interaction and lots of people around, but I'm also glad to be done with that. I used to be a terrible self-righteous bitch. I mean, the thread still exists, I'm no saint and get easily frustrated, but I genuinely feel so differently about a lot of things and regret quite a lot of my former behavior.

I have some thoughts on Cullen's slightly differing rejections to a Qunari/dwarf vs. a male elf (untested with other male races), and if anything, he comes across as more emphatically uninterested in a Qunari/dwarf female than a male elf. My conclusions are not particularly flattering to him, but are even less flattering to the Bioware devs. I don't know, I kinda want to write this long involved post about what I think is off about Dragon Age's conception of sexuality, particularly LGBT sexuality, its absence, and use Cullen as the lightning rod. I want to pit the construction of Sera vs. the construction of Dorian, the abrupt and awkward stop in developing bisexual Cullen and bisexual Solas, the vibe of antipathy towards lesbians, and Bioware's feast or famine syndrome with writing LGBT sexuality. Has Bioware taken the Madonna/whore complex and extended it to include men as well? (Consider, for example, Alistair vs. Zevran, the most obvious example.) I don't know. I don't have much life in me for this.

I'm going to post my Kiss Battle offerings to AO3 one day. Finished an Alistair/Zevran fic on a request, and it will be posted soon, when I get the beta back. Have a working idea for my Rare Ship Swap fic.

The big writing monkey is the Dragon Age Big Bang. I don't want to drop out, but I still don't know what to do. Who to even write. I have some ideas, none seem to work very well at the moment. I can't get far with them. They're not singing to me. If I have an idea, I know I can make the deadline, I write fast, but I've got nothing that pans out. All I have are little ghost glimmers of things, shimmering gossamer things that have yet to turn into anything real.

DABB Ideas:
- Parse out what drunk!Alistair was actually doing during DA:I, since he fails to make an appearance. Zevran drags him out, needs him for something. But do I want to write a recovering alcoholic? Could I do it justice? I could have it be more distant, there's probably been a good five or so years since he gets whisked off by Teagan in DA2.
- Try to push through my Alistair/Zevran through all seven origins fic. I'm having the hardest time with my Amell's story. Maybe I should skip to the others and then go back?
- Write my weird semi-canon headcanon for Nathaniel Howe as an Antivan Crow (HE IS AN ASSASSIN, MKAY), one who mentored and employed Zevran briefly. I'd want to reposition it with a Warden Alistair and Nathaniel, Zevran gets involved in Warden business, bits of their history play out. I wouldn't be breaking canon, exactly, but I think I'd put a dent in the fender. I could also do it with a drunk!Alistair.
- I could do a more involved adventure with post-DA:I Fenris having a terrible red lyrium experience and Anders has to fix it. I want to involve Varric and Cullen, as the red lyrium parts would matter a lot to both of them. But it's so involved, there's a whole bit about finding one of Danarius's old safehouses and Anders tending a horribly sick Fenris. I'm also not sure I'm feeling it as strongly.
- Start over on Cullen/Fenris, as what I had wasn't working, it wouldn't budge further, try to build instead on Fenris suffering some weird effects from his lyrium, comes to Skyhold, and Cullen feels a pull to him since he's kinda laced with lyrium, and go from there? But I dunno. I still feel weird about Cullen.
- King Alistair, but drag him into misadventures with Zevran?
- A weird thing keeps working in my head about Leliana/Morrigan, and haunted things, and because I'm Alistair/Zevran trash, I'd work that in, too, but all the porn would likely be Leliana/Morrigan, but oh how to work them out. So hard.

I don't know, I'm so tired, and my head is filled with half-baked ideas. Maybe something will work out soon. Or maybe I won't be able to do the DABB. Sigh.
So, I was trying to write my DABB. Was working on the Cullen/Fenris bit, and it's a good start, but I wasn't feeling it. Trying to work out why led me to this realization. I'm still working through it, and I reserve the right to change my mind, but here's my initial thoughts. I have no idea if it makes sense. See, I don't feel comfortable enough with Cullen in my head, despite having reached the apex of his romance. Like, it's a good romance, aside from some cheesy Harlequin moments, equitable, charming, and cute. But in many ways, Cullen's romance is a cipher in DA:I, and the romance an empty signifier (compounded by how little I paid attention to him in the previous games). While it's a better romance than the Dorian romance, it more openly acknowledges how one-sided the romances in DA:I are. While the Warden was also a cipher, you could fill him/her out more easily, as he/she had a backstory, a tangible history. You could legitimately roleplay. And Hawke had one of three personalities you could lean towards and even though I dislike him/her, Hawke felt like an actual person.

But the Inquisitor? The Inquisitor is an empty vessel, a passive agent. As much as I like the Cullen romance and parts of the Dorian romance, neither are convincing. I was able to headcanon and fill out my Lavellan specifically because the game was not written to support a Lavellan, leaving many things unsaid and undone, forcing you to connect the dots yourself. What made Lavellan so enriching to me was how much elf headcanon and feelings I already had and could populate him with. The game didn't make him a who--I did. In fact, the game's failure to even fit an elf in is why I could make him so real in my head. But a Trevelyan fits the game and makes sense, is populated by the game, but you can't play a Trevelyan creatively, and you can't fill them with your own views on magic or politics. See, there's no tangible history, no depth to your responses, most of which are questions. You make decisions, but you don't interact. You largely stand there and listen to other people fling their views on you. You cannot express a personality or ever allow anyone to understand you, because there's nothing for them to understand. No one in the game even attempts to react to your personality overall, your breaks from type, the meaning behind any of your decisions. The facial expressions don't even match the situation. All my Inquisitors react oddly to certain situations. Like, why are they half-smiling when Morrigan appears, for example? They don't know her. That's a player reaction (or one that Bioware thinks her fans will have).

I have no doubt these are unpopular opinions.Collapse )

I think I'm going to start another DA:O game. Play through and finish my Mahariel or my Surana. Can't decide which yet.
10 February 2015 @ 08:24 pm
i just wrote what is, to me, the most hilarious bout of drunk!cullen playing wicked grace with varric, iron bull, merrill, sera, dorian, fenris, and zevran. and telling alistair-as-a-stupid-kid stories. drunk!zevran is in a relationship with alistair and blames him for everything, including the rain. varric keeps trying to get zevran to shut up about alistair being a bad man long enough to hear cullen's hilarious stories. merrill has no idea what's going, she's too busy trying to get sera out from under the table. bull is torn between being charmed by zevran and preventing dorian from angering fenris. and cullen ploddingly tells his story. the minstrel writes a new song called "alistair is a terrible, no-good, bad man."

kind of retelling the wicked grace game in da:i, but spinning it in such a way i am more amused and includes characters i like better?

i cannot share this with the public, especially because it's a mess and needs to be rewritten to be coherent, but i'm still laughing. XD
08 February 2015 @ 01:05 pm
huh. i've been away from lj/dw so long, that i am belatedly realizing apparently some friendships have ended without me knowing. i thought i followed them on other media, but apparently i don't, and they definitely unsubscribed to me here and never bothered with me on other media, either. nobody close and nobody whose material particularly interested me (i don't read other people's fanfics unless they're for me specifically, and i only read meta and look at fanart/vids), and it's always okay to move on for any reason your heart desires. i will never begrudge anyone that. just sort of startling, because i kind of stupidly expected things to be in stasis, but of course they're not, people move on. i tend to presume i've offended someone with one of my strongly worded opinions, but it's just as likely they lost interest or thought i was too inactive. one always wonders. or maybe it's just me and my stupid brain that reads too much into things. ah, well, just cancelled my lone subscription to them, because i don't bother with people who aren't interested in me on any media platform. saves me a lot of heartache and time.