Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.
eliade

mad, long babble

I was thinking more over lunch about fandom and slash and dysfunction, and--in the spirit of WWBKD?--I decided that I'd attempt to probe further in the hope of finding new levels of brutal, unappealing honesty. Go, me.

I'm very conscious of the format of my thoughts being small isolates--random ideas that may or may not follow each other associatively--and may contradict each other.



So, I resist a general, dysfunctional model of fandom or of slash, even when I may propagate it. (Er. Oops.) Mostly because I have an ingrained reflex: I don't like being told that the things I enjoy, and the way I enjoy things, are wrong and need to be fixed.

I can call myself dysfunctional, though. Sometimes it's the double standard of "member language." A dyke can call herself a dyke, but non-dykes can't use the word: they're not members of the group. I can call myself dysfunctional, but if someone else calls me that, I'm going to be pissed.

But also too, when people consider themselves sick and group me in by extension, I will probably not like that.

More than anything else, I think I believe in ambivalence as the defining element of human nature. So that even when we enjoy our lives, we can turn around on a dime, turn ourselves inside out, and decide we're dissatisfied. We like calm, but then we're bored. We're ambitious, then we're lazy. We like hanging with our friends, then all of a sudden they're driving us mad and we can't stand the sight of them. There are a lot of things we can love and hate at the same time.

I often get off on things in fiction that I'd hate in real life. Like rape.

Sometimes I believe something one day, and stop believing it the next, once I've put it into words. Or the words aren't good enough. I'm not very logical; my thoughts are fuzzy and tangled like yarn.

Fantasy is escapism. The heroes in our head are action figures, toys. We may use them to imagine things that we think we want, but don't pursue in real life. Or we may imagine them because we don't *want* them in real life: we only want them when they're compartmentalized, kept in our mental toy-box. Some things are just better left imaginary. I like to imagine I could be a solider, engaged in life-risking, heroic rescues, but in reality, I default to a peaceful, low-risk existence.

Fiction isn't about pursuing a specific meaning, though. At least, mine isn't. Imagination isn't an effortful, deliberate act, like formulating a grant proposal. I write to write, and stuff comes out because it's fun to smoosh paint words around with my fingers, not because I've got an agenda, or want to put puppets up on the stage to dance out things that my own life lacks. Writing exercises the unconscious through the appearance of structure.

Reading is just a vicarious pleasure, often of things that aren't pleasurable at all.

I'd like to be a better person than I am, but I don't make the effort. I sometimes dramatize my desires with mental toys though.

I have a lot of self-loathing, but it usually feels like a human thing rather than a gendered thing. It also feels very visceral or existential. Cellular. I'm kind of attached to it, unfortunately. It's like my skin. I don't know how to skin myself. That's kind of a gross thought. I do try to shed myself of self-loathing, but it's a very slow and flaky process.

I'm not comfortable drawing a causal relationship between self-hatred and the pleasures of slash, but there might be something there. There are times when the pleasure I take in pretty men mingles with disgust at myself, and I have to work harder to erase myself from the picture.

Disassociation is very much a part of my lifestyle. A principle, even. Every time I go online I disassociate.

I've had a slash orientation since I was 13. By orientation I mean, it's part of my basic, natural erotic make-up. It's what turns me on. I've had explicit fantasies since around that time. I never include myself in fantasies. There was at least one period in my life when I felt upset by my inclinations--they felt like a pathology, addiction, a wrongness. I categorized them that way. It didn't seem normal to be excited by slash, to fantasize about two men in a way that didn't include me. You could call it an open question whether or not that's true. I tend to think that acceptance of what I like has been a positive thing.

On the other hand, my life is pretty fucked up. My self-image is fucked, I don't get laid, I don't pursue romantic relationships. I'm depressed a lot, I'm an alcoholic, I could probably benefit from therapy.

But all my deepest, most honest, most pleasurable friendships have been found through fandom. People I've met at school, through various jobs, as neighbors, and through superficial socializing--those normal people bore me to tears and make me uncomfortable. I can't talk to them. They don't get weirdness. They don't appreciate who I am. I can't be who I really am with them.

Fandom is a place where fucked-up people flourish. That's part of its charm.

I'm disposed to find dysfunction appealing. I think that there exists an aesthetic of dysfunction. It's like geek charm. Nerd appeal. At one extreme, that's a problem that probably fosters alcoholism, in that I have this mental association between writers and the glamour of drinking, and stuff like that. But it's not all bad. I happen to think that all humans are basically fucked in the head regardless of things like hobbies and relationships, and I gravitate toward the people who admit their issues and can wear their neuroses appealingly. Who are fashionable about them.

That doesn't mean I'm attracted to an extremist lifestyle of heavy drugs and drinking and knock-down, drag-out fights. I shy away from conflict and radical forms of self-abuse. I dislike confrontational personalities. People who revel in that stuff hold no interest for me. People who seem consistently blind to their own black-holed, sucking negativity freak me out too. I try not to be that person.

I think my own dysfunction leads me to theorize reasons for slash that seem very fucked-up, and that might not be shared by everyone. But I think they're shared by many, if not most slash fans. I think many women dislike their big, soft bodies and would love to be hardbodied gay men, if given a choice, because hardbodied gay men are hot. They're a Calvin Klein underwear ad, they're a cultural ideal, they're Greek statues, they're an aesthetic.

But maybe I should just speak for myself. I mostly dislike my big, soft body--a body that doesn't get any appreciative looks, because it isn't attractive to people, except maybe to some small percentage of men and women who never cross my path. I'd love to be a hardbodied gay man. Except then again, it's just a fantasy. And I'm not even in it. I mean: I don't imagine myself to be a man. I imagine other men.

And, on a day to day basis, I'm more or less comfortable with who I am. At least in that I've acclimatized to a sedate and solitary life and haven't cut off my tits with a razor.

Back to Calvin Klein models, et al: I think cultural ideals or aesthetics bundle up a lot of associations that may not be true, and that we may not even care about the truth of. There's a whole art/truth question there. I tend to like realism in art but that's not necessarily truth. Realism is just a style, a form of representation that can trick us into believing ridiculous things are probable. Like that men are sensitive, friendly woodland creatures, gentle fawns with hearts women can understand.

I like trickery and lies in my fiction. I enjoy slash as a genre created by women, even if it's a total falsehood when it comes to how real men, and gay men, live their lives. And even though I might now and then turn lamely analytical or introspective about why I like slash, I don't really care why, in practice. It's just a flavor. It tastes good.

I like fandom. You could call it an addiction; you could call it a community. Or both, depending on the day, the time of month. I think it's a better addiction for me than any intoxicating substance. And if it's an addiction, it's one that lets me be creative, allows me to explore questions like I'm doing right now as a substitute for therapy I can't afford, lets me meet cool people.

It's a natural inclination to find justifications for your own habits and tastes, to defend yourself and create meaning from your own deep incoherent randomness. I'm always going to do that. Because deceit helps me survive, because self-defense is a reflex, because maybe I'm not ready to dismantle the entire precarious architecture of my thirtysomething-year old twisted personality, yadda yadda.

I know women who like slash who are very sexually and emotionally healthy, who are in relationships, who get laid regularly, who work hard at a positive self-image even when their bodies aren't tiny, hard little Barbie toys, who are politically and socially conscious.

I am not one of those women, and I often find it hard to talk objectively about the subjects of slash and fandom. I'm not sure that talking objectively is even a desirable goal, though, so maybe that all works itself out. But what I really mean is...if I were a perfect spokesmodel, a healthy specimen, I feel as if I could talk about fandom in a way that presented it more favorably, and I fear that because of who I am, what I say about fandom is colored by my dysfunction, so that people can't help but make the association of fannishness and dysfunction. *I* can't help but do that.

Okay, I've talked myself into a circle there, and my own discursiveness is starting to annoy and confuse me.

But anyway, I think it's possible for one to have twisted psychological roots for liking something, and yet at the same time have an "above-ground" personality that is strong, upright, sturdy, straight. Straight in the sense of being well-formed, not heterosexual.

I think that a lot of what I said yesterday was off-the-cuff babble, maybe even bullshit, but then again, if people identify with it, what does that mean?

And in closing, I love Brian Kinney!

Ahem.
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