I wrote a little reflection on a conversation I just had with one of my close friends about my disconnect between the way I talk about photos / film and the way I feel when I try to create them. I hope someone gets something from it. Stay safe, everyone.
More than anything else on this site, I'd appreciate it if you checked out this pdf that I put together. It's something of a summary of my creative life since I started this site, and I'm genuinely pretty proud of it. I poured my heart in :)
I'm also about to move over my visual work so it's also hosted here, since I figure this site should include most of my creative output.
Even though updates to this site have completely stopped for a while now, I've actually gotten a whole lot of work done. I'm in a pretty damn creative period right now, and I think I've done a lot of my best work. I'll start posting it soon, as I've got it submitted somewhere else and I'd like to let that finish up before I share it publicly. Regardless, there's things coming soon!
I want to talk a bit about where I'm at and my mental health, because I'm in a strange spot right now. I'm actually doing pretty well if you zoom out and look at me with a bit of distance. I'm finding tons of art I care about! All the books I read, music I hear, games I play, anime I watch, etc. feel like massive moments in my life, like I'm truly moving forward. I'm also moving forward in more tangible ways: I'm currently in the process of a legal name change (which requires court and a notification in a local newspaper, ew), switching to estrogen injections which should make much more drastic changes to my body and mind than the pills I've been taking, and changing to a Critical Studies major and Creative Writing minor in school...which erases a lot of the mounting anxiety I always felt over things related to teaching. I'm a bit sad that I took so long to realize I needed to change (I'm entering my fifth year), but it's necessary.
With all those great things going on, I'm keeping myself together. There's a bunch of external shit trying to drag me back down, though. My dad's cancer, the virus, plenty of other things which have been going on for a long time. On top of that, the people I care about most have abused the shit out of my trust and I'm trying to figure out how to repair the damage done there.
That's all for now, but I think I'll talk about my time in therapy in the next post.
Well, that daily blogging project was an absolute failure. That's okay. I'm back and trying to get some new work going. Currently my focus is on some videos that I've been recording. I'd like to get a foothold on Peertube and find my voice, so what I'm doing at the moment is about as low effort as it gets. Minimal editing, no scripting, not-great sound, etc. I just want to make things, and so far this has been my most successful attempt at that.
In the time since the blogging thing fell apart, I've at least made some progress on doing something with my time, mostly now taken up by movies. You can see what exactly I've been watching over on Letterboxd, but I'm planning on finding a way to post over here too. Maybe I'll just crosspost my reviews, but I also might collect the notes that I'm going to start taking on every movie. Or maybe something more involved! I dunno.
So I'll at least have stuff to talk about. Should be fun :)
These dates aren't actually when I put these up, but the day I'm writing for or about. This is because I am a degenerate and often do my writing well into the next morning. I'm typing right now at 5:53 am for that reason.
For a while now, I've been trying to find a new MMO to fall into. Old School RuneScape has traditionally been my game of choice, something I've gotten into and out of in a cycle since it released. After de-Googling and deleting my gmail accounts, a blind spot that I forgot to take care of was the authenticator managed through one of those accounts that was connected to my main RuneScape character that I had been playing since launch. The recovery process was...too much, beyond the information I had. Payment info and such from 2013 is not something I have readily available. So my main was gone. Fuck.
World of WarCraft Classic looked to be my next big game, as even though it's obviously super theme park-y, the environment of that game on launch had so much energy and interesting natural partying...the organic social situations that make me love this genre. Unfortunately, a bad combination of running out of money, . The community I was a part of in that game later fell apart as the Blizzard China stuff came out, so I'm not sure if it'd still be for me. At the very least, I still want to give it a shot someday.
As part of my project to play a bunch of libre games, I also tried out some of the smaller MMOs that exist under Free licenses. I plan on writing separate posts about this project, so for now I'll just say that though there were a bunch of good games in there, I didn't find anywhere I wanted to stay. I need a feeling of comfort and belonging to really stick with an MMO, and I wasn't really able to scrape that together in anything I tried.
Energized by Bofuri (which I will also write about...tomorrow?), I tried again and again to recover my RuneScape account. I'm fairly certain I didn't give any additional information and someone at Jagex just wanted me to stop fucking sending more recovery requests, but I got it. I'm back on OSRS. Yay.
Add me if you want, my current RSN is Blithe Femme and will probably change in a month, if I'm honest.
Phew. So yesterday's post was worthless. That's okay. I haven't slept since then, actually, being too afraid of facing my nightmares again. I'm sure that will end well. I'm already lightheaded so let's rip this fucker out.
What I've been reading in-between crises and trying to do creative work but failing horribly
Slapstick or Lonesome No More!
I've done a few Vonnegut binges lately, reading and re-reading in order of release, an approach I like to take with other mediums but rarely choose to do with books. This process has been rewarding as hell and even though I'm only up through 1976 with his novels, I feel like I understand Vonnegut as a whole better than I do many (all?) of my other favorite authors. Even in the (relatively) low moments where I don't feel like the work itself is saying that I'm particularly moved by or interested in, considering them in the context of his career as an artist is intensely satisfying.
Unfortunately, I have very little to say about this. I hardly remember it despite reading it so recently, though I did enjoy experiencing it as I went. I don't want to engage directly with it all that much, honestly, at least not nearly as much as I want to engage with the way that my idea of who Vonnegut was shifts. Slapstick has little of the sweetness that I latched onto in Vonnegut's 50s and 60s work. That Vonnegut would step into dark humor or make very grand but bleak statements about humanity, sure, but there's a sense of love in there that keeps everything together. The glue. The Vonnegut who wrote this feels so burnt out to me. I think I have to go the route made obvious by my choice of words in the previous sentence and tie this to the times. It's hard not to read this book (and Breakfast of Champions) with that in mind. A million progressive social movements that stopped dead in their tracks. A revolution in our relationships with our bodies that ultimately just became unrestrained hedonism and opened the way for widespread abuse of others and the self. Guess it was hard to keep that background love in the picture.
I don't like the way Vonnegut portrays human connection here, as if it must be grotesque and socially disruptive to be meaningful. Everyone else feels so painfully distant from each other. Even those in the extended artificial families. Others see this angle of the novel as where the beauty and warmth come from, but I see distant bodies which occasionally bump into each other. This is a cold novel.
Oh yeah, it seems like others read this book more hopefully than I do, mostly by focusing much more on the artificial families stuff than I do. If I revisit this someday, I'll read with that in mind so I can sort out my feelings there in a more organized way. Right now, all I've got is "it didn't read that way to me." I like the book a bit, despite all I said. Vonnegut is still Vonnegut.
On the Road
the boys enter mexico
"Contraband brooded in the heavy syrup air. Cops were red-faced and sullen and sweaty, no swagger. Waitresses were dirty and disgusted. Just beyond, you could feel the enormous presence of whole great Mexico and almost smell the billion tortillas frying and smoking in the night."
I just started revisiting this one on a whim, and can already tell my opinion has changed over time. My criticisms were never all that complex: I saw a small-scale version of the problems I have with Lolita or with Taxi Driver, where monsters are made to look charming or cool. Of course, in Lolita this is the point of the novel, I just find that the damage done by that exploration is not worth it. In Taxi Driver, I think it was just a failure on the part of the film to properly get across anything of substance about Travis. There's things that make him look like a dangerous loser, sure, and that was probably the intent...but he reads to me as more of just a badass who gets a good ending for some reason.
You can imagine, from my issues there, where my discomfort with this book has been. That isn't to say that Holden (or what I remember of Holden, which may well be entirely off from reality) is comparable to the protagonists of either of those works, but I just generally think it's really hard to have your protagonist be a shitty person and end up with a final product that doesn't accidentally glorify them and isn't so heavy-handed about how bad they are that it's obnoxious. It's a tough balance, with one end feeling morally repugnant to me and the other having the potential to be flat-out boring.
With hindsight, I think I read The Catcher in the Rye before a little too much in the light of how it was introduced to me. Hell, if I'm honest, I'm not sure if I finished it originally. My memories of art from that period in my life are so tainted by insecurity over what I had and hadn't already experienced that it's difficult for me to know if past me has successfully bullshitted present me into thinking she read it. Either way, my thoughts were mostly absorbed from others and responding within a meta-conversation almost entirely divorced from the book itself. I'm a bit embarrassed about this, but I'm at least giving myself the room to break away from those thoughts and not bitterly hold onto them like I have with similar things.
Right now, I'm actually feeling pretty positive about this whole thing. If anything, Salinger is almost too heavy-handed with how much he shits all over Holden. What comes to mind is this moment when he throws a punch at his roommate and after he gets the shit beat out of him, states that he's weak because he's "a pacifist." Hilarious shit, I've been laughing most of the way through. I don't think this is every going to be one of My Books that I really connect with, as I think the whole edgy teenager thing that is being torn apart here is something I'm too far away from to really get anything but some laughs. The laughs are good, though.
I'm not done with the book yet, so maybe in the end I'll land just where I used to be with this one. At the very least, that criticism will have a bit more depth to it and come from a more genuine place and not a desire to agree with The Right People.
Fucking hell. Day 2 and I'm already finding myself in a bad place and having a hard time getting myself to write. And I'm supposed to be writing about how bad of a time I'm having. I already wrote some of that yesterday so it'd probably be easiest to just finish it, but I've had enough sitting in that for now. Can only wallow for so long before it just gets boring.
Help I can't write my brain is melting down but I can still type pretty well so it doesn't get across the effect of a brain breaking down unless i purposefully ogstartopitypignl liketihswjhich im preiptty epxiernced wiht anctualy. I'm just gonna let some bullshit leak out my ears so I make a post.
I'm watching Kaguya-sama season 2. I think it's better than the first, actually. As much as I enjoy Chika bullshit, the main towo are bette ri ondnt give a fshit fuck this ive been sitting here doing nothing and not even eating because i was like im gonna write first but im hungry fuck you ill do better tomorrow love you lol
I'm going to start using this frontpage blog for a few different things. Originally this was just going to be where I posted my projects that got out some creative energy: anime research projects, film watching projects, writing about creators I'm passionate about, etc. I still want to do that here (though that Gothic Horror series may be doomed), but I also want to use this space for more personal writing. I want to document where I'm at creatively and mentally, both to get myself comfortable with writing in a context like this again and to hopefully find some clarity through writing.
So I'm going to participate in a loose writing challenge: #100DaysToOffload. I'm typically very bad at keeping up with these kinds of things, but that's no reason to stop trying! I know that I want to write, so there's nothing to do but write.
Posting this stuff all together is probably a future organizational nightmare that I'll have to solve with tags or something, but I figure that's a good problem to have. If it means I've written more, it's a good thing for me.
Where I'm at creatively.
Since I ran from university, the virus hit, and work fell apart, I've decided to double down on my creative work and try to make it as large a part of my waking hours as it is of my soul. I'm at a point where only considering myself an artist allows me to avoid the wave of anxiety that comes when I consider myself anything else, like a "teacher". Unfortunately, in the state I'm in at the moment, I'm awful at getting myself to do things. So here we are.
Visual art takes a small amount of my attention, but I want to give it more. Blender animations are still at a standstill (though I've reuploaded them here), but GIMP art and specifically collages are things I've found a new energy for. Out of the blue, inspired by the work of dreamgazing and Deep in the Flowers, I put together all watched over, which I'm more proud of than any of the GIMP art I've done before. I'd like to refine my skills, bring in some more involved glitch art techniques, and hopefully find my creative voice when it comes to visuals. Exciting!
My closest friends and I have begun putting together a zine, something we've wanted to do for a while now but have only just started work on. I'm learning to us Scribus, a piece of libre publishing software. It's a bit of a clusterfuck, at least to someone with hardly any experience with layouts and publishing. I've no idea if this is just an example of feature-packed free software with UX that lags behind or if it's just my unfamiliarity, but I'm a bit lost. At least I can get text and images on the page, so I can learn everything else as I go. The zine is a nice opportunity to put together anything I want to work on regardless of what it is (it's a digital publication, so we're embedding anything and everything) and hopefully collaborate with friends.
Writing is my #1 focus right now. I want this blog to be a part of my practice of course, but poetry is where I'm really trying to improve. Most of it stays in my notebook at the moment, but a bit of it has gone on this site over here. I want to write poetry.
I want to write poetry.
Do I want to write poetry or do I only want to be a poet?
I want to write poetry.
So I'm going to write some fucking poetry.
I also want to rap. While I want to try and hype myself with the confidence of the lines above, I'm not sure that I have it in me. I want to give it a real shot soon. Charisma and clear speech are not my strong points, but I can always try. I can always try.
Tomorrow I'm going to talk about where I've been mentally and emotionally. Talking about my creative woes makes a lot more sense if I get across why it's first on my mind if I hardly ever do it.
I adore gothic fiction. It's a line I can draw through much of my favorite literature, and the narrative I build in my own head about my tastes leads me to find hints of it even in many of my most loved works which no one would classify within the genre. It occupies a treasured and elevated space in my head, and one of my most intense pleasures is feeling like I've found another angle to it or understand it in a new way.
Yet, it took me a while to get here. My gothic has romantic ideals at its core. My gothic is the gothic of Mary Shelley first and foremost. But my gothic wasn't what I saw on TV or movies. What was left of gothic influence had been reduced to a dark aesthetic and a few lingering tropes. A compelling aesthetic, don't get me wrong, but I didn't see much in it beyond that. In university, a professor of mine (the most enthusiastic man alive) forcefully rubbed my nose in the heart of the romantics and set me down that path, while at the same time feeding my love of the book that was already my favorite: Frankenstein. I came to see the gothic (and particularly the horror-heavy side of the genre) as a wonderful expression of my values by way of contrast. It's an opportunity to explore the irresponsibility of humanity with regard to nature (or god), the torture of closed-off emotions, the suffocation of rigid identity, and countless other things which are endlessly interesting to me, especially coming from times long before these were standard talking points.
To the point: I like binding the time I spend with art to things I can actually do. Things I can make. I love absorbing art for its own sake, but it's even better when I have a structured meta-reason for what I'm doing. So, here's a new project I'm starting today: A Self-Introduction to Gothic Horror on Film. I want to expand my love far beyond literature, and I'm sure that there are plenty of examples on film of what I look for in gothic works that I haven't yet encountered.
Each movie I try will be given a blog post where I try to fit it in with my feelings. There might be some light reviewing going on, but for the most part this is about expanding my personal gothic narrative. I'm excited!
The first movie I'm watching is Vampyr (1932). See you soon!
Edit: After watching Vampyr and having very little to say, I think I'm going to group these up into larger posts instead. I don't want to ramble about nothing.
In my first years at university, the harshest time in my life due to a combination of untreated mental health issues, a realization that my direction in life had been chosen as the least-bad pick of bad choices, a piece of shit roommate, extreme isolation, poor dietary choices / self-control, an unhealthy relationship with the internet, and most of all the heavy iron chains keeping me in the closet. It was shit, I wanted to die, and all my energy went toward filling myself with distractions. At this low point in my life, I found salvation in challenging myself intellectually and taking art more seriously than I had previously. I began to more heavily value my internal life, using my increased isolation to learn what I had bouncing around in my head. It’s hard to appreciate the value of self-understanding and a rich internal life until one takes the time to do it themselves, but I assure you it’s life-changing.
In this period of my life, I had a constant companion in anime YouTuber and vlogger Digibro. Digi became the model for my creative, academic, and personal aspirations. He and the community he lead were trailblazers in the realms of artistic analysis, criticism, and theory in casual contexts entirely disconnected from academia. Their goals were to start from the ground-up and create a YouTube-based “academic” community which did not borrow terms from the academy and strove to be understandable without needing to do any outside reading or viewing apart from other blogs and channels doing the same thing.
Digi became my main fixation, leading me to realize that understanding and discussing art of any kind was my greatest pleasure in life. He was aggressively prolific and hardworking, often providing several hours of work to digest per day. His voice filled my meals, my sleep, my free time, and every spare moment I had walking between my classes. In fact, I developed an extreme anxiety about going outside without earphones as a result. He gave me structure and purpose where there previously was none.
Digi was incredibly open about his personal and internal lives as well, which was deeply meaningful to me as I spent long amounts of time alone making sense of my head and building narratives to explain it all, much as he did right into the camera. As a viewer, I got insights into how this man I admired more than any other structured and reflected on the phases of his life (3 month cycles, by the way), how he filled his personal notebooks and what they meant to him, constant updates on creative projects and feelings on the creative process itself, long speeches on his values when it came to creation, collaboration, and friendship. We got family drama, mental health history and updates, stream-of-consciousness ramblings, food opinions, extensive and personal house tours, complete narratives of the dude’s history with basically every anime, game, book, or movie he ever liked. Point is, we got everything and we got it raw. Being a fan of Digibro was, for a time, my primary personality trait.
Digibro showed me the beauty in being a reclusive nerd who did nothing but appreciate art, critically look at that art, and make art oneself. He taught me to value my subjective experience above all else, which I still carry with me and is the foundation for many of my other beliefs. With him as my idol, I began to have pride in what I loved and how I lived. I saw god in being an otaku, welcoming others in only if they would be part of my own little Genshiken. Thanks to Digi, I held on.
But, as you may have guessed, it didn’t last forever. Digi’s alcoholism started and grew on camera, and he seemed to be forcing a new stage in his life. A new partner and a roadtrip across the country marked his transformation in my mind. His already massive ego (which I still admire in its earlier state) grew uncomfortably quickly, leading to numerous fights and feuds both in and out of the community. This became exhausting, he slowed down on his work, and as a result I started to drift away, even though I still held him in high regard. Soon, what seemed to be quirks or well-intentioned bad takes became unambiguously awful statements. He’d do something like equate the alt-right and antifa, or in the case which angered me the most, defend lolicon pornography.
I was done with Digibro, but a gaping hole was left in me. I lost an activity which filled every available moment I had and was on my mind in the unavailable ones. I lost the figure who gave me purpose and structure, inspired me to do anything at all when every part of my soul wanted to give up and die. What was I going to do?
Originally, the answer was to section off my feelings. I tried to say “fuck this guy” while making sure to still take the positive bits that he gave me. This worked fine in the short-term, but eventually I needed a more satisfying answer. It was uncomfortable attaching so much of my internal and productive lives to someone who I now hated.
The answer came gradually, as I continued to live the life I started because of him and began to eliminate external factors which kept me from becoming what I wanted to be. After a meltdown that pushed me on the edge of suicide, I knocked out those complicating factors. I started therapy, HRT, surrounded myself with good people who I could trust, burst out of the close and snapped the rusty chains, and finally got medication for my anxiety, disassociation, and depression.
After all that was done, I grew toward my former idol without realizing it. I nurtured my ego, letting it grow larger than it had ever been. I started to pursue creative community and to make and learn relentlessly, resolved to make the notebooks and create the personal creative history to look back on which captivated me when I listened to Digi. I didn’t think of any of this at the time, but I was filling the hole he left by starting to become who I thought he was. I was striving to be my old hero as he existed in my head, not as he actually was.
That’s a very Digibro move to make, now that I think about it. Outgrowing Digibro and self-actualizing as I’ve learned to do is exactly what I would’ve admired my idol for doing. Aspiring to become your idols eventually means they need to be discarded.