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

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

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

BBC Sherlock’s John, after a drug overdose:

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

But he isn't going to.

wordstrings, Entirely Covered in Your Invisible Name


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

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

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

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

"Stop."

I made no answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie Forsythe, The Presbury Letters


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

Or can it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts and fiction recs welcome.

Wow.

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:21 am
insaneladybug: (baxterstockman)
[personal profile] insaneladybug
Incredibly, Dad actually seems willing to let us go all the way to Sears and the Joann's that has the craft fur. Maybe it's because we caught him in a seriously good mood; he's intrigued by Al Jolson and when we asked about the shopping stuff, we had just finished watching The Jazz Singer (and nearly all of the DVD's extras, oh wow). But so, weather-willing, we will get to do that very soon!

On Monday I had a most serious burst of wanting stage Baxter hurt/comfort and entertained myself with it while getting groceries. I finally figured out some more content I should have had in my hurt/comfort scene in that story installment and I became very anxious to either flesh it out or start drawing a hurt/comfort picture of the scene. I started the latter, and I've been working on it this week. Stage Baxter has been giving me trouble; I wanted him very limp in his Barney's arms, with his head falling back. Even though I managed to do a picture like that with Barney a while ago, I couldn't seem to make it happen for this one for a long time. I finally got it pretty much how I wanted, though! Then I added 87 Baxter and Barney uncomfortably watching. I really like how they turned out, especially Barney. The theme of the picture is "Not My Brother's Keeper," and while stage Barney is too scared to check for a pulse for fear he won't find it and distraught that his Baxter was hurt rescuing him after he didn't seem willing to help Baxter, 87 Barney is haunted by memories of the past and is tightly gripping his Baxter's shoulder, remembering when he did try to help Baxter but went about it all wrong and also made himself believe he hated Baxter. 87 Baxter is very uncomfortable by his counterpart being hurt. I have a very light sketch done, in case I needed to erase things (which I did, many times). Next step is darkening it. Then inking and coloring. It's probably the most ambitious picture in a while; usually I don't have more than two characters in a picture, although occasionally three. And I've got people standing behind other people, which can be challenging. And I even have a sort of background on this one, as I felt it needed it for the mood. I have a curtain hanging down to the side and I'll probably color the stage.

I learned this past day that Archie Comics has been asked by Sega to stop publishing the Sonic the Hedgehog comics. Even though I had many issues with those comics, I have good memories too, and I am sad to see it end. But at least Sega does still want Sonic comics to be out, so hopefully soon we'll know who's picking up the reins. I must admit I would kind of love a game-based comic, especially if they'd adapt the old games in a lush and grand way. It has been my dream to see an epic Sonic 3 and Knuckles adaptation for a long time! But it will be sad if we don't see the SatAM characters anymore, so I'm slightly torn. And I definitely feel sad for all of those who had stronger ties to the comics than I did. I probably feel sadder for them than for the thought of not seeing the SatAM characters anymore, as I think I'm really ready for something new (as long as it's not BOOM! and only that).

I started pondering on how last year I actually entertained the thought of writing a Sonic 3 and Knuckles epic fanfic. That's still in the back of my mind, but I sort of doubt it would happen. It's more likely to happen than me continuing my Sonic X adaptation of the game Shadow the Hedgehog, though. I got three chapters in, stared at the stuff I was writing about alien invasions and destruction everywhere, and went "What am I DOING?!" and stopped cold. I haven't been able to get inspiration since, even though I had a whole episode guide planned out. I'd still love to do stuff with Shadow trying to find himself, but I'm not keen on all the destruction that a good Shadow the Hedgehog adaptation would entail. I'm probably even less keen on it now than I was when I wrote it. I'm just so worn-out and don't want to write that sort of thing. Like, one chapter would have a whole city destroyed, as I believe it was in the game. I just don't think I have the strength to write that.

I'm so amazed that I actually got my TMNT 87 series off the ground because of my past failures in writing series. I'd have plans for all kinds of stories and most would never happen. When I started the Turtles series, I thought I'd be lucky to get some of the stuff on my first episode guide written. Then, once I decided to redeem Barney, I hoped maybe I could at least write up to that point. Then another point, and another. . . . Every milestone I hoped to attain I reached. I'm in awe of it. There are still many specific fics I hope to write for it, and I hope I will attain those milestones too.

I'm finishing up the current fic now, but I'll let it sit and proofread it again to see if it needs more. Then, unless I suddenly get bonked by different inspiration, Caitlyn's headlining adventure is next. I'd better go watch The Great Boldini again to prepare.

**repeated headdesk.**

Jul. 19th, 2017 02:38 am
insaneladybug: (barneystockman)
[personal profile] insaneladybug
So two and a half weeks ago, we were in the nearest metropolitan shopping area and I took an idle notion that as long as I was in a big crafting store (Hobby Lobby), why not check and see if they had orange or red craft fur, with the thought that maybe I'd maybe make a Barney plush if they did. They did not. I also remembered that our nearest Joann's did not. So I opted not to also check the Joann's in that other town.

I tried checking eBay with some success but not exactly what I wanted. This past day I tried searching some more and I ended up discovering that some Joann's do carry such a product, including the one I opted not to check. Maybe they didn't have any in stock at that time, but they probably did. I am so incredibly frustrated with myself. Unless we can convince Dad to let us go to Sears before they're gone, I probably won't be able to get to that Joann's or any other with the product in stock until the end of August.

On the plus side, I examined my two blank dolls and one of them is definitely the right build for Barney. I also have blue jeans cut out and ready to sew; they're an extra pair from when I made Baxter. And I have enough material for the vest, the coat, the ears, and the bowtie. I think I need some new shirt material. And I'm seriously thinking of buying that thinner wire that bends easier for the glasses. Maybe I'll redo Baxter's glasses if it works better.

Also contemplating whether or not my other blank doll can be Vincent. I figured I'd have to make him from scratch with blue cloth. So I guess I'd either be making a Caucasian Vincent or I'd have to get the courage to dye the other doll blue. Or I'll use it for someone else. But I know very well that once I make Barney, I'll want Vincent.

I'm a little concerned that making Barney will mean I won't pay as much attention to Baxter, though. Especially if Barney is made a little better/doesn't have the mistakes Baxter ended up with. My attention usually does get divided when there's more than one, like when I got Fluttershy in addition to my Build-a-Bear Twilight. And I have liked when it's just Baxter and me, LOL. But I do like the thought of making Barney more and more and hopefully I'd try to give Baxter and Barney equal attention, like I do with my Ginger and Lou plushies.

I'm also increasingly panicked to get back to K-Mart before a lot more time goes by. The bag completely satisfied my desire for TMNT wearable merchandise at the time, but I started wanting an 87 series styled shirt again before too long. I'm back to liking that America, the Radical shirt in spite of the problems I might run into explaining over and over that "radical" in that sense is surfer slang and basically means awesome. But I'd take the other, more expensive shirt if its price has come down. Or the Leonardo hat that I hoped I'd be able to get since they had a lot of them. Now I'm no longer sure I especially want the Miraculous Ladybug figures, because I had a very disturbing dream involving those characters and it may take a good while to get the bad taste out of my mind/not think of the dream every time I see the characters. Ugh. I hope it's gone by the time the show comes back in the fall. Or maybe the bad taste will be gone if I go and they still have the figures and the price for them has come down even more. Heh.

Also listening to Imagine Dragons' song Believer on Repeat. Ladyamberjo introduced me to the band and the song, and from the first time I heard it I immediately thought of Baxter and Barney (well, especially my versions of them). I really want to do a breakdown of the lyrics and who sings which parts, as I picture it being both of them. I think it's mostly Barney, though.

The Power of a Smile

Jul. 18th, 2017 08:12 am
eustacia_vye28: (Time Turner)
[personal profile] eustacia_vye28 posting in [community profile] hp_fanworks
Title: The Power of a Smile
Author: Eustacia Vye
Author's e-mail: eustacia_vye28@hotmail.com
Pairing: Draco/Ginny
Rating:
Notes: This is written for the 2017 D/G Forum Exchange on FF.net, but Real Life conspired so that I wasn't actually part of the exchange. So I just grabbed a prompt to write, because it's been aaaaaaaaaaaaages since I've written these two together.
Prompt: Ginny has been put under a curse of some kind. Draco is the only one who can break it. Feel free to go a little off-canon with the magic here, because the curse should be enduring in some kind of way. In other words, something bigger and harder to break than a Leg-Locker Curse, for example. More on the lighthearted side rather than something dark, but there can be serious moments as well.
Summary: Ginny thought she was good enough to avoid curses while working as an archaeologist. When cursed, she needed the help of the best curse breaker to get her sight back. Her brother was too upset to do it, so his assistant Draco Malfoy had to step up to do the job.

On Dreamwidth | On AO3

Another Short Affair piece

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:13 pm
rose_of_pollux: (Illya and Napoleon)
[personal profile] rose_of_pollux
Written for today’s short affair prompt at Section VII.

Summary: In which Napoleon goes to desperate lengths in the hopes he won’t transform into a were-beast–unfortunately, THRUSH has predicted his next move. And Illya continues to do whatever he can to keep Napoleon human. Continuation of last week's piece.

Not cross-posting this as I’ll be expanding this in the future.

Desperate Times )

WTH, Livejournal.

Jul. 10th, 2017 04:37 pm
insaneladybug: (hamilton_cup)
[personal profile] insaneladybug
So now LJ is apparently making up tags for me? It stuck the number fifty in as a tag and claims there's one usage of it. Naturally, when I click, it goes nowhere since there is no such tag. I deleted it from the list. It had better not come back. Or be replaced by another. I really do not appreciate my journal being tinkered with in any way. I also hate how if you write a number in an entry, it will automatically get linked to a search for it. Maybe that's only if there's a hashtag with it, but ugh, this isn't Twitter! People I know use LJ because it isn't Twitter. Or Facebook, etc. And we liked it better before the changes that started to make it more like them.

But seriously, making up tags? That is inexcusable. Unless it's some kind of a glitch. And if it is, it had better be fixed quickly, unlike how they claimed the extra ads were a glitch yet they did nothing about them until apparently the last mass migration from the site in April.

Another Short Affair piece

Jul. 10th, 2017 07:39 pm
rose_of_pollux: (Napoleon and Illya)
[personal profile] rose_of_pollux
Written for today’s short affair prompt at Section VII.

Summary: In which Napoleon begins to suspect that a bout of sleepwalking may, in fact, be a nighttime transformation into a bipedal beast that haunts Manhattan. Thankfully, Illya is there to lend his support.

Not cross-posting this as I’ll be expanding this in the future.

The Beast of Broadway )

Waaah.

Jul. 9th, 2017 07:06 pm
insaneladybug: (hamilton_shocked)
[personal profile] insaneladybug
So over the weekend, Sears announced more closings, including the K-Mart up in the capital city here. Unless the one way down South is still open, this will close all K-Marts in the state. In any case, it certainly closes all that we could go to. I hope we can look at that K-Mart's selection, but I doubt we'll be able to get up there until Dad's class reunion next month. I wonder if they'll be doing the liquidation sales by then. (I have been looking forward to the class reunion for years. I love the 1950s culture, the food, etc. I hope he's still planning to go, especially since it's the last official one.)

Also, I am super aggravated with myself that I forgot to find out if our nearest Sears is closing. I discovered that it is, and it will be closed by the end of the month. If I'd looked that up when I meant to, we could have also gone there on Thursday. We were just down the street from it at one point! Mom is gutted about both Sears and K-Mart, and hopefully this news will at least mean that we'll definitely be able to get out soon to look at both places ... although Dad will not like spending the gas money to go to Sears especially, I'm sure. But their discounts will be further along/likely higher and maybe we'd be able to get something.

I am pretty sad about all the closings. I'm pretty sure Sears was where I got my Shadow the Hedgehog shirt in 2009. And the longer I think about the nearest K-Mart closing, the more sad it is. Even worse now that I know the other one we could get to is closing too. The nearest K-Mart was almost always a staple of our visits to that shopping hub. And so great at holidays, as mentioned.

I'm also sad about the Scottish Festival being a bummer this year, as I am every year that that happens. I look forward to it all year long. Ugh, I hate that the heat had to ruin this one for me. I don't know if Mom enjoyed it as much this year either. I wish the other Scottish Festival didn't charge for attendance.
insaneladybug: (schrank)
[personal profile] insaneladybug
So I have abhorred Photobucket for years. It hogs memory and the amount of ads are outrageous. For once, I'm not the only one having a problem with a site. Lots of others dislike it for the same reason, especially of late.

A couple of weeks ago, Photobucket pulled a really crummy move on the free users. I only learned of it tonight. I barely use the thing, but I know lots of others use it a lot, and I felt I owed it to them to let them know of Photobucket's idiocy if they don't already. I don't feel like trying to type it all up myself, but this blog post sums it up very nicely: http://www.laurenwayne.com/2017/06/photobucket-phail-how-to-ruin-host-site.html

In other news, when the area hits a record high of 103, the Scottish Festival automatically becomes a lot less fun, even after the sun goes down. Uggggh. I hate summer heat. It was so stifling. And Mom got lost for a while. And I fell in love with a couple of beautiful handmade jewelry pieces, but of course, they were more than I felt like I could afford right then. I love how much fun it was last year at the Festival. It was so much fun that year, it reminded me of some of the earlier trips. This year was ... pretty mediocre. And yet I would have been sad if we hadn't gone. Part of me is still contemplating going back later today for the necklace that was the cheaper of the two, but I know I really don't want to spend even that much for it when money is so extremely tight. So beautiful, though.... A big deep blue flower in the sapphire shade, what we call "wing-color blue" referring to Kingdom Hearts Sephiroth's wings.
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