#both in the fiction and academic sense.
[slaps my documents] these papers can fit so much sarcastic commentary in them
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6 and 97?
bookshop au and time travel
There’s this girl that comes into his mother’s bookstore and he can’t stop thinking about her. Steven feels like they’re the same. He can't explain why he does, but he knows it's true. He doesn’t know her at all, but he knows that something about them is similar.
The first time he sees her, she catches his attention with a sword on her back. He calls out to her, “Hey, you can’t have that in here!”
She freezes, then laughs and wiggles the hilt. “It’s a cosplay! It doesn’t come out!”
He learns later that was a lie, but he buys it at the time. After all, cosplay makes more sense than a real sword. It's a bookshop after all.
She purchases a book on the era of the samurai. She looks more excited about it than anyone he’s ever seen. So it's definitely not their taste in books, because he hates nonfiction.
But there's something. Something.
The next time she comes in, he recognizes her. Well, he recognizes the sword. It's hard not to remember a sword. But her face stuck with him, so he remembered that. And, besides, she was hard to miss in her medieval costuming.
She digs through the shelves and returns with a book on Medieval recipes, which certainly matches her get-up. Well. Except for the sword, probably. He tries to chat this time, because he thinks there’s something there.
“Want to cook something authentic for the ren faire?”
“Hmm?” She blinked at him. “What do you mean?”
“I was saying you want to make something for the ren faire. Can’t show up with a spicy meatball.” He tries an Italian accent at the end. He wants it to be funny. It’s not.
She stares at him for a second, then laughs. “Oh! That’s funny!”
He flushes as he rings her up, somehow both humiliated and pleased. It’s definitely not funny, but it’s nice of her to laugh. She's nice. Maybe that's what they have in common.
The next time she comes in she’s dressed in a weird, silvery suit. She looks over her shoulder so much if it was anyone else he’d be sure they were stealing. Because it’s her he’s mostly just worried for her.
“Are you alright?” he asks as she comes up to the counter. He drops his voice lower, concern in his eyes. “Do you need me to call the police?”
“What? No!” Her eyes go wide. “No, no. I, um...” She stares down at the book, then shoves it at him with a shaky voice. “I’m just worried my academic friends will see me buying science fiction. They’re snobs, if you know what I mean.”
He doesn't, really. Unless she just means what she says, that they're book snobs, but that doesn't make any sense. Steven picks up the book, a hefty collection of sci-fi shorts, and says, "Well, if you ever need help, just let me know.”
As he rings her up, she sizes him up. She takes the book back, taps the spine against the palm of her hand with a quiet thump. "You know, I’ll think about it. But I’m okay right now.”
He gets the feeling that’s not quite true, but she’s out the door before he can say another word, and he just really hopes he'll see her again soon.
She runs into his shop, breathless and wide-eyed. “You can go forward! I knew it!”
“What?” he asks. He's staring at her, clad in normal clothes for once, but it's that girl he's connected to.
She laughs, throwing up her arms. “You can go forward! It’s not like we thought it would be, but you can go! Steven, it’s amazing!”
He has a nametag, so it’s not weird that she knows his name, but it feels surprising to hear it. It feels deeper than that. He shakes his head. “what do you mean?”
“I’m a bookwitch! Like you! Can’t you tell?” She leaned forward across the counter, barely understandable from all her fast-talking excitement. “And, Steven... I can travel forward! I knew I could!”
“I’m... you..." He shakes his head. Bookwitch. Bookwitch. It sounds so familiar. "What?”
“You don’t know?” Her eyes are big and round.
“Know what?” His are the same.
She holds out her hand, and when he takes it he can barely breathe. “Steven Universe,” she said, “I have a whole world to show you. You’re gonna love it.”
He already does.
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Darklina + academia AU? (Professors, students, whatever dynamic you find most interesting)
Alina Starkov has always loved maps.
There’s just something about them: the deeply human struggle to understand the world, to sketch it out, to imagine fantastic beasts and lands and people on the margins, here be dragons. It’s half illusion and half reality, a guidebook both to what lies out there and what is dreamed of. She is fascinated by the relative accuracy of maps drawn long before satellites and space photographs – that, say, the sixteenth-century Europa recens descripta à Guileilmo Blaeuw does look pretty much like the modern continent. Well, mostly. She wrote her undergraduate senior thesis on the fictional island of Frisland, long believed to exist in the North Atlantic Ocean just south of Iceland, and its role in premodern cartographic and geographic imagination. Rereading it now gives her a twitch, as it always does with academics trying to revisit their past work, but it’s not all bad. It won her a prize and it impressed Professor Baghra Morozova, the fearsome head of the Department of Medieval Studies at Central European University, Vienna. (Best method to survive her class: Pray.) And it’s why Alina, still feeling very, very much like a terrible fraud – though she’s been assured this is likewise common to academics, so yay? – is working late in the main library on Quellenstraße, stifling yawns. She has a supervision meeting tomorrow, and if she half-asses this, Baghra will eat her alive.
Alina has been working for a while, pausing only to slug lukewarm coffee from her travel mug and answer texts from her flatmate Genya, when she becomes aware that there’s some other late-night diehard skulking in the stacks. This isn’t uncommon, but this guy doesn’t look like your usual desperate slacker. He’s tall, lean, and elegant, wearing a black shirt and crisp slacks, and – Alina has eyes, sue her – he’s extremely good-looking. Thick dark hair with a bit of a curl, a sharp dark gaze, and although he has his own stack of books, he doesn’t seem to be paying attention to any of them. In fact, he is looking – a little unsettlingly – directly at her.
Oh, hell. Alina hasn’t spoken to him before, but she knows who this is. Aleksander Morozov is an urban legend at CEU, for rather ominous reasons. He is rumored to be in some indeterminate year of his own PhD, but disappears at long stretches for “research trips,” and nobody is any the wiser about what he’s actually doing on them. Noting the similarity of surname, Alina once asked Baghra if they were related, and got a face that looked like someone had died. “Unfortunately,” her supervisor said, lips pursed, “he is my son. But I assure you, his presence on this campus has nothing whatever to do with me.”
Understanding that familial relations were, to say the least, chilly, Alina hasn’t pushed it. She’s also not sure what to make of her professor’s estranged (and disturbingly attractive) offspring sitting here and watching her study, as if he has nothing better to do than haunt first-year PhD students like the Ghost of Bad Decisions Yet To Come. At last, she gets up and marches over. Keeping her voice at librarian-approved levels, she hisses, “Excuse me, can I help you?”
She speaks in English, the lingua franca of CEU, though the Morozovas are political exiles from the Putin regime, like White Russians fleeing the Bolsheviks once upon a time. Alina herself is ancestrally Russian – born in Moscow, adopted by a nice British couple out of an orphanage and raised in suburban Sussex – and as Aleksander Morozov flicks those onyx eyes up at her, she can sense him weighing how to respond. As if he wants to test her, examine her bona fides, and Alina’s Russian is limited to “da,” “privyet,” and “dosvidaniya.” Not that he should know that. Not that he should know anything about her.
“Good evening,” he answers, also in English. His Received Pronunciation is even more posh than hers. “I wasn’t aware that I was disturbing you.”
“You’re – ” Alina wrestles with herself, tells herself not to be rude. It’s not a crime to sit and watch someone study, even in a mildly creepy fashion. “You’ve just been watching me for, like, an hour now.”
“Ah.” He doesn’t apologize or explain why that might be. He sits back in his chair, studying her like a piece of rare porcelain. “My apologies, Miss Starkov.”
Alina glances at him again, despite herself. There’s an undeniable thrill at actually talking to the campus heartthrob, even if the reason for it leaves something to be desired. She should say something else, when she becomes aware that he’s addressed her by name, and she doesn’t remember introducing herself. That doesn’t exactly do anything to convince her that he’s not a stalker. A little uneasily, she says, “How do you know my name?”
“You’re my mother’s student, aren’t you?” He cocks his head. “Alina?”
“I – yes.” That does explain it, although she didn’t realize the two of them were on speaking terms, or that they discussed her. Her name sounds unusual in his mouth, deliberate in a way nobody has spoken it before, and all at once, he gets to his feet. He stands several inches taller than her, and he starts piling his books into his bag, as if to discreetly absent himself now that she’s noticed him. “You don’t – ” she starts. “I didn’t mean to – ”
He looks at her again, sidelong. Then he says, “I should go home and get some sleep. I’m returning to Oxford tomorrow morning anyway.”
“I went to school there.” He utters a short, dry laugh. “All the good Russians do. And they live in Londongrad.”
That explains the accent, at least, and he seems to have some other business there, whether it’s another of the “research trips” or a guest lecture or whatever else. (Alina hasn’t seen his CV, but she has a sneaking feeling it’s the kind of thing to make her throw her drafts in the trash and never do anything in academia again.) Despite herself, she’s curious, and even though she has just told him to get lost, kind of, she wants to know. “Will you be back?”
Aleksander Morozov studies her with utter, unblinking intensity, as if he sees past flesh and bone, blood and sinew, to the very core of her, something that even she does not fully comprehend. Then he shrugs, his eyes never leaving her face, until Alina feels a shiver travel down her from head to toe, cold and powerful, twisting in her stomach. “Perhaps I will. Good night, Miss Starkov.”
With that, he nods to her, then turns on his heel, vanishing into the shadows as effortlessly as if he is made from them. No sound, no breath. Simply there one moment, and gone the next. Alina rubs her eyes, but she is alone in the library. Just as she wanted. Wasn’t it?
She can’t help her eyes from searching for him, or rather the vanished impression of him, the flutter of a curtain after someone has left the room. Before she can stop it, she has the thought that he very much is a map of his own, a path that leads into a strange dark land beyond the boundaries of the known world, a dragon or a doorway, a dream of what could be. Maybe something entirely ordinary. Maybe something not.
Alina shivers again, and returns to her carrel. She sits down and pulls the next book toward her, forcing her tired eyes to focus. Just because Aleksander Morozov – Aleksander Morosov – is a map, albeit the strangest one she has ever seen, it does not mean she needs to follow where he leads. She knows damn well the danger.
(And yet, despite herself, she wants to.)
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I haven't posted for quite a while
I'm a wreck lately. I feel like all the regrets, guilt and traumas of my life are crushing me and I'm just retreating deeper and deeper into fictional worlds, be it the ones I consume or the one my mind produces.
I read 'They both die at the end' today. I'm a little surprised I can still enjoy casually reading books as I mostly have been pushing through academic writing for the past few years which is anything but enjoyable. No spoilers but the book just ends in such a way that it's really heartbreaking. Especially when I related to one of the main characters a lot.
I've been dealing with flashbacks for more than two years at this point. And I finally got a therapist which I promised I would get right after what happened happened. Yay me.
I keep thinking what I could've done differently, how I could've changed my life and myself around so that I wouldn't feel so lonely and empty all the time. It's hard to actually think about those things when my mind is fried, I lose the sense of time and my memory is worse than Swiss cheese.
Today I thought about how in few months is my twentysomething birthday and I prayed that I would go before that happens. I hate my birthday. I never do anything fun, all my friends are scattered, it's the worst day of the year even with my partner supporting me the best they can. It's a bleak day for me. I just feel the weight of time on myself and I grow even more resentful towards the world. I've always had it comfortable - financially supportive family of origin even though most of them are either emotionally stunted or straight up narcissistic, a circle of my girl friends I could always talk to and spend time with, even if it was sometimes taxing, a person who took me under their care when I needed it the most and who have been looking out for me for the past eight years, even though I've been a dick to them on more than a few occasions. I feel like I have no right to feel as broken as I do. I desperately push down most of my stupid complaints in daily life. And still I make so many mistakes. Still I never learn. Still I feel so lonely, even though I don't live alone. Still bring out the worst in myself. Still do things I will regret my whole life.
I feel so haunted.
As the semester winds down to a close, I find myself reflecting upon the last 15 weeks I have spent in this course. When I signed up for creative writing, I was not sure what to expect. I knew we would likely work with poetry and fiction, but I was unsure of what the expectations beyond that would be. Before the course even started, I started to grow apprehensive. I was concerned that I might be a bit out of my depth. Sure, I wrote small pieces for fun once in a while, but that’s where my creative writing experience ended. I’m a biology major—I have been conditioned to write lab reports and research papers, writing styles far different from those of fiction and poetry. Despite my developing qualms as the start of the course grew nearer, I decided to stick around, and I am so glad I did. I have learned so much from this course, and I have genuinely enjoyed every aspect of it.
One of the most significant gains I’ve received from this class is an entirely new perspective on poetry, and I seem to have a growing appreciation for it. I even bought a poetry book a couple of weeks ago! Before this class, I don’t think that I had ever been taught how to read a poem. I know I have had to try to analyze a number of poems before in high school, but I could never wrap my head around where to even begin an interpretation of them. Now, just knowing that lines are the units of meaning in poetry shines a whole new light on it for me, along with end-stops, enjambments, metaphors, and so much more.
I have also very much enjoyed my time spent blogging. Every time I sat down to type out a new blog post, it almost felt therapeutic. Blogging felt like journaling, and it allowed me to reflect upon the new material and skill sets we had been practicing in class. I also found that blogging provided with me new epiphanies about writing, for it provided me with the space and opportunity to let my thoughts flow until I found sense in them.
I think most importantly, though, is that I have learned how to let go when I’m writing. The concept of the “shitty first draft” presented to us at the very beginning of the semester has stuck with me throughout the entirety of the course, and I have no doubt that I will always remember it. I have always been a perfectionist and very critical of my work, including my first drafts. This has always slowed down my writing process, both for leisure and academic purposes, because I was constantly editing myself as soon as I typed the words on the page, and sometimes before they could even leave my head. Letting go and allowing myself the freedom to just write, to just see what I create, has led me to enjoy writing more than I ever have.
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DirtyOS: Reality, Imagination, and Digital Histories
Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe is a multifaceted challenge and vision for its viewers: on one hand, the film (and album on which it’s based) disrupts common conceptions of Queerness, femininity, and identity; on the other hand, though, Dirty Computer turns that disruption into a manifesto, creating a world where sexual and gender fluidity are intricate parts of an unapologetically Black universe. Monáe ’s character, Jane, likes women and men, is masculine and feminine, and in all cases Blackity Black Black Black. Still, though, Dirty Computer is not a utopian piece - we see in flashbacks that Jane is consistently hunted and persecuted, and her present-day situation before escaping is that of torture, brainwashing, and gaslighting. And what’s more, even Dirty Computer’s ending is open-ended; we don’t know if Jane, Zen, and Ché will be able to be free at last or if they’ll be captured again - there are no neat and tidy happy endings here. Perhaps that’s the point; Monáe is not shy about trials and tribulations here. She weaves a narrative where, yes, there is pride and fun and joy, but also fear, confusion, and oppression. In this way, Dirty Computer is an authentically complex work, one which strives to embody a unique yet universal experience - almost everyone has had some experience with being unable to be who they are without judgment, but Queer Black women (and Janelle Monáe specifically) have their own difficulties and triumphs. The futurism of Dirty Computer allows Monáe and her viewers to explore the multitude of ways in which the digitization of society affects culture and power and introspection.
QueerOS would therefore be a theoretical framework through which we may understand Dirty Computer on an academic level. QueerOS is a proposed operating system that is built on Queer theory to imagine a new and different way of doing computing. From kernels to the memory, QueerOS breaks down barriers that are otherwise part and parcel of mainstream, currently-existing operating systems; it is a system of potentiality, a mechanism to investigate personhood, digital space, and Queer identity through a quasi-physical lens. Dirty Computer excels as both speculative and realist art because it melds together so many disparate identities, concepts, histories, and politics; in the same way, QueerOS is a machine in a very human sense - QueerOS’ components work together in tandem as part of one unit, not as solely-separate entities, and is also open-source for use in a variety of different contexts so that it is not just one thing, but many at once. The fantastic and the practical of QueerOS and Dirty Computer are situated in their times, in their places, yet still manage to transcend them. It is part of this transcendence that we have to meditate on one sad fact: QueerOS may never exist, and Dirty Computer’s world of pleasure may never be fully realized. They are projects of imagination, with the full potential to be made part of our physical reality, yet we have to accept that they are just that - imagination. There is some comfort here - that QueerOS and Dirty Computer are (for now) works of fiction that frees us to envision our own art and futures; QueerOS goes so far as to explicitly wonder what other operating systems of an anti-oppressive, pro-pride future world may look like, with or without itself as a foundation. Power exists in spaces that reflect our experiences, but reflections are not always exact, and they exist in their own right, a part of and apart from us, the real. Mirrors can be windows into a new reality we may never achieve for ourselves, but can work towards in innovative ways nonetheless.
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Hiya I'm new to the untamed fandom and I was wondering, is there a masterlist of fic recs for xiyao? also, I love and adore xiyao 🥰🥰🥰 is there a post-tu fix-it fic? that isn't a modern or high school or whatever au? another thing, does anyone think mingyao (jueyao?) is canon but only in the sense that mingjue loved Yao but it wasn't reciprocated as the latter viewed the former as a boss. there was another thing but I forgot. 😑 thank you and have a great day! 😁
Hi!!! And welcome to the fandom :) I also love and adore xiyao!! It's always nice to have more people who love them.
Okay, let's see your questions.
Is there a masterlist of fic recs for xiyao? Uh... possibly?? Unfortunately these days I am extremely particular and disagree with almost everyone about almost everything, when it comes to xiyao and their relationships, so I am perhaps not the person to ask. I will say that when browsing the AO3 for xiyao I strongly recommend you go to the xiyao tag and add otp: true to Search within results (explanation), so that you get fic where the only relationship tagged is xiyao. It's not that there's not good xiyao fic tagged with other stuff, but if you don't do that you're going to find fic that's actually xicheng or nielan and has xiyao as a mistake or an abusive relationship etc etc, or stuff that's full-on 3zun, or sometimes stuff where xiyao are happy together but are a thoroughly background pairing to the fic's main focus.
Is there a post-tu fixit fic? There are indeed! If you're willing to accept a post-MDZS fix-it, I highly recommend pluck the stars by exoscopy and grief negotiations by Nomette, though note that grief negotiations is the first work in an unfinished series. —though you should probably know that one of the relevant differences between The Untamed and MDZS is that in MDZS JGY doesn't ask LXC to stay and die with him, and therefore LXC doesn't agree (though in both versions JGY pushes him away and saves his life).
(If you want something that's more strictly CQL this isn't exactly a post-canon fixit, although it's also not exactly not, and the first fic is in large part a fictional academic work, but I very much enjoy 'studies of a complicit lan xichen' by welcome_equivocator. The same author has also written shades, which is a post-CQL fixit which I also absolutely love, but which starts with a bigger divergence from the usual range of post-canon LXC fates than most fics do. Disclaimer that the author is a friend of mine, and I was involved in coming up with the premise for shades (I'm the SunlitStone it was gifted to), but I really do love their stuff and stand by my recs wholeheartedly. I'll also rec a couple of quigonejinn's fic, though they might stretch the definition of fixit some—manipulated and deceived by the slut rat meng yao (not at ALL what it sounds like, the title is taken by a comment left by the xiyao troll and the fic is written against that spirit) and Talismans.)
Ah—it occurs to me that if you're new to the fandom you might not know about the xiyao troll. They leave cruel, sometimes quite personally cruel, comments on xiyao fics. For this reason many people lock their fics to only allow registered users to comment, since they only comment anonymously. If you yourself don't have an AO3 account and would like one, you can request an invitation from the site or hit me up off anon, I have invites going spare.
as to your NMJ/JGY question—the ship is usually referred to as nieyao! I'm pretty sure there are people who have that take, though unfortunately I can't name any off the top of my head; my take personally is that it wasn't romantic for either of them, although for The Untamed in particular it's certainly true that there are certain sexual vibes for JGY that only show up in NMJ's Empathy memories. (Since you're new here you may not realize!! NMJ's Empathy flashbacks aren't actually perfect records of what "actually" happened, but—as we can tell from when we saw the same event originally and then in Empathy—are distorted mirrors, very much NMJ's memory and not objective reality. If you're curious, I've assembled a comparison between the scenes we see in both here, for both the video aspect and the (Chinese) dialogue.) My take on MDZS nieyao is—well, I pretty much stand by what I said here, although if I were to write it today I would go into more detail and provide more evidence.
I hope that helps at all!! Feel free to hit me up with any further questions :)
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100 random character development questions ( always accepting! ) / @omniishambles said:
❝ 48, 50 and 60 for xan and finn! ❞
48. Do they have any allergies?
Yes, Finn has a dust allergy, and Xan is allergic to birch pollen, which means they are allergic to some fruits, namely apples, apricots, cherries, kiwis, peaches, pears, and plums.
50. How does your character feel about their own mortality?
Maybe it’s morbid, but Xan spends a lot of time in their late teens thinking about death. They are very like their father in lots of ways, and after Jim took own his life, their mental health started to decline at a rapid rate. They share the same eyes, a lot of the same features, and often when they looked in the mirror after The Fall, Xan would see him staring back at them out of their reflection. They also started having dreams about being on that rooftop themselves. They aren’t scared of death, although they sometimes worry it might be lonely ( they have been lonely at times in their life, but now they have people who love them, and they don’t want to be alone again ); what they are really scared of is going the same way as Jim, who was manic in his final days. Sometimes, Xan has days like that too, and then their thoughts terrify them.
Finn, on the other hand, is perfectly content with the cycle of life and death. It’s natural. Not something he considers all that often. Although he grew up in a very Catholic village in the west of Ireland, and he attended church regularly until he left home, he believes in science before he believes in God. He spends his life formulating complex equations and trying to find answers to seemingly impossible questions. What happens next? is sometimes one of them, but more as an academic exercise than anything else. His study of astrophysics has led him to discover that everything in the universe is made up of atoms from the Big Bang, space and stars and a hundred and one different elements. He thinks maybe he’d like it if bodies returned there too, after they were done living.
60. What is your character’s attitude towards education and learning?
Xan and Finn are both naturally very curious. They have been since they were children. Xan always got the sense there were things they weren’t being taught, and after being adopted by their uncle, they made the most of free museum entrances and library loans to learn as much as they could about, well, everything. Dinosaurs, in particular, fascinated them, and as well as reading all the fiction books in the kids’ section of the library, they devoured atlases and encyclopaedias, anything they could get their hands on. Finn, though, liked to be more hands on. His favourite question was always but why? And his regular pastimes included building complicated structures out of Lego and Meccano and taking things, like the kitchen radio, apart, to see if he could see how they worked and whether or not he could put them back together again.
Being bright, inquisitive, but also sociable, Finn got on very well at school. In fact, he’s still in education now, in his second year as a PhD student at Oriel College, Oxford. Xan is no less intelligent—in fact, they are probably even cleverer than their brother—but that caused problems in the fact that they were also well ahead of their classmates in terms of academic ability. The work wasn’t stimulating, they got bored easily, and for a couple of years, they hardly bothered with it at all. Their teachers weren’t much help, because they didn’t know what to make of the child that sat in the back of the room, refused to speak ( or when they did, not in English ), who they thought maybe didn’t understand the lesson, but could then turn in work that got perfect scores when they wanted to. They were glad when they could leave school and go and do something else. Drama school was much more fun!
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i read twisted road to genocide by henri zukier today. the original published paper published in 1994.
it was an interesting read in a couple ways i hadn’t expected. while i feel that its portrayal of functionalism wasn’t exactly fair — functionalists are (to my knowledge and limited methodological expertise) mostly not ‘fluke historians’ and i feel a lot of this paper could have been written in a way that it would fit the archetypal functionalist canon, or at least the newer groupshift synthesis — there still were a lot of rebuttals of rhetoric that exists now still in some shape or form. turns out that the ‘financial anxiety’ type of apologia has existed for a long time, as noted under the ‘economic hardships’ section in the enumeration of various attempts to explain away necessary insights about the holocaust. i don’t think one can really say that ‘history repeats itself’ (or could be at risk to) in a methodologically sound sense, but it was certainly a great overview overview of rebuttals of those who would seek to replicate its horrors with the qualities of balance in cadence and formulaism that i find lacking in many papers. i will probably send it to family too since so far i’ve had little success in convincing anyone but my siblings of the structural complicity that was present in general but especially in the netherlands specifically. hopefully a well-cited academical source not written by the family’s problem child might do more to sway them.
i visited the ‘resistance museum’ in amsterdam last summer. i kind of knew what to expect but it was disheartening to see it match the propaganda (mostly in the form of fictional quasi-historical narratives read to children in my circles, including me) in which a certain volksgeist of lionised mass resistance (of protestant bent) was attributed to the netherlands which seems largely unsusceptible to anything in the realm of coherent histiography. this holds true even with the elucidation that many ministers preaching against the nazis and collaboration were also communists (who in this museum were framed as ‘socialists’ to be equated with the ‘national-socialists’, and therefore any and all communism in any advocates at all was erased) with every present piece of history (clippings of newspapers, pamphlets, photographs, and so on and so forth) framed with the appropriate text to soothe the sensibilities of visitors who were seemingly presumed to be gentile and generally culturally christian (and therefore, not queer or communist) and to appropriate both self-defense of targeted communities as well as leftist resistance (which of course largely overlapped) to this particular contingent.
no mention was made of the connections between say, calvinism and the general complicity of civil servants in doing the administrative work — wordly powers are not to be questioned, as all power derives from god according to paul of tarsus — that precipitated the majority of jewish people in the netherlands being murdered, with one of the highest death rates per capita in europe. while the netherlands wasn’t mentioned in this article, denmark was, which largely appears to have exhibited the opposite qualities in at least the bureaucracy and thus also largely yielded inverse results. there is more to say on this with regards to the dutch history of (ethno)religious segregation/pillarisation/federalism and the particular role that dynamic played in our country’s history (and continues to, with some would-be social planners with ambiguous intentions wanting islam to become a new ‘pillar’), but that’s not really what i want to focus on right now.
simply put, i could declare myself content with being more critical than my culturally christian family and the narrative of the culturally christian netherlands in general, especially as i am exiled from these structures and therefore have little personal interest in defending them— or even from refraining to attack them. however, especially after reading this paper, i have to come to the conclusion that i haven’t really developed beyond these relatively straightforward insights (even if they are rare in my country) in any real way for a few years now. what i think was extremely valuable in this article for me was not only the denunciation of the anti-sociological assertion that good and evil are essential properties of a human being but building on that, that they are ‘nurtured qualities of the mind’. i do not agree with this proposition without caveats for reasons beyond the scope of this piece of writing, however, the way that zukier expounds on this is, i believe, of timeless relevance. the nazis constantly stressed the horrors of their actions and indeed many battalions weeded out those too eager to engage in them — as one example people who volunteered to perform executions were summarily dismissed — but nevertheless viewed them perhaps not even so much as duties in service of some larger goal. however, first, crucially, considerations of such were seen and treated as largely external to any notion of morality or ideology worth considering, which he expounds on at length over the course of the history of nazi germany.
here lies something i think is crucial to any such person or people who see themselves as grand architects of ideology and the future (and i myself have been partial to this at some points): you cannot let yourself become callous to the existence of such forces of which you are not the primary target. there is no excuse for letting orthogonal ideological interests outweigh the threat of mass oppression and violence, especially in a time where such things are emergent again. there is responsibility in what projects one considers themselves part of and in the scope of these projects, to root out such indifference. even in light of certain zionist histiographies who have constructed a new continuity to integrate the holocaust in a historical and metaphysical scheme that leads from there to redemption through the state of israel in the levant (quoting zukier almost verbatim), one cannot allow themselves to be caught into cooperating with this sophistry where to disagree with such narratives must necessarily co-implicate indifference (or even hostility) to the people involved. no antizionist or antitheist schema can permit any form of ideological reductionism or bargaining of the still very real threat of genocide which may very well become institutional in a number of countries in the near future, as it has before.
to acknowledge this much in spite of the muddying of this issue by bad faith actors (whether in the form of zionist genocide enthusiasts or white supremacists and their useful idiots who seek to bargain or deny the holocaust) is necessary for everyone, and i very much also assert this to myself as an un-christian (and queer and trans and so forth) but still nevertheless gentile person. this much is clear regardless of any and all complex geopolitical reasonings which in the scope of this particular issue are really only worth mentioning in the abstract, even if they are very much worth discussing on their own terms— indeed, criticisms must exist which separate the struggle against bigotry from certain imperialist and pro-family agendas and to refuse such actors the monopoly on these issues. i’ll make sure to send this piece to my various academical peers and to discuss this with them to keep in mind even as we strive towards other common goals together— which must be and are by definition synonymous with exactly this refusal to equate the two. however, as established, defining and stating one’s owns interests is hardly enough when it comes to this kind of subject, and failure to do so cannot be tolerated, and this i insist to any fellow adversaries of organised religion who might read this.
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Is this one of the few times Emma was truly honest in an interview? (mostly)
This is an old interview from 2012. It's been a while since I read it, but only after reading it now do I realize how honest Emma really was here. I believe that we don't really know the real Emma. We know Emmione, the image she wants us to have of her.
She admits here how it was easier to be Emmione than to convince people otherwise and in the years after she really took the image to new heights. Read the full interview here.
We are seated on a velvet brown banquette at a corner table in a grand hotel in New York. Breakfast sits untouched as she stares at her face on the cover of Emma Watson: the Biography. She is dressed in a baggy jumper with her hair pulled back; her young-looking expressive face currently registers anguish. Previous interviews with Watson have portrayed her as a self-possessed, mature young woman who acknowledges her luck and gratitude in abundance. Perhaps, as she will later say, if I'd met her on a different morning, that side of her would have been present.
But there is another side. Someone who remains, despite her best efforts, emotionally overwhelmed by the vibrations of fame.
We had just begun to talk about the hazards of being a private person in a public world when, as a gesture to underline the absurdity of it all, I pulled out of my bag a copy of the unauthorised biography - a book that chronicles how it feels to be Watson, despite the fact she never met the author.
It hit a nerve. She has it in her to laugh it off, but this morning it has elicited a raw and unfiltered response. Tears fill her brown eyes, which remain unblinking and fixated on the cover image of herself. It stares back. She can't look away as she tries to make sense of it. "I read these pages and it has nothing to do with my real life, with who I am. It is a piece of fiction, but that's my face on the cover."
She is holding the book with both hands and turns suddenly defiant. "The first time I saw this book was when I was on the set in New Orleans," she states. "For The End of the World - a movie I just did. This super-cute 11- or 12-year-old girl came up to me and she had pages folded down and she had her special bookmark in it. It looked like she'd been carrying it around for a while. And she really wanted me to sign it. It's really weird that it's not just Hermione who has become someone important to people who love those books, but the idea of who Emma Watson is too."
That she refers to herself in the third person shows how removed she is from her public persona.
Indeed, she says it feels like she has three selves: Fictional Emma, Real Emma, and then the person she happens to be playing at the time. Since the age of nine, that person has been Hermione Granger.
Watson has been a famous person for 13 of her 22 years. Her tearful manner reveals she is not hardened to the realities of it. "I started off at the beginning of the [Harry Potter] series adamantly protecting my own sense of self and my identity as Emma," she says. The book has now been placed, cover down, in the space between us. "I was this nine-year-old who would be sat in these interviews going, 'No, I'm not anything like her, I'm different because of this and this and this - at nine." She sighs.
"People would say, 'You are really Hermione, aren't you?' and it went on and on till it got to a point where I said, fine. It's easier for me to say we're one person because that keeps everyone happy. I'll go with that."
The parallels were convenient to draw. Hermione and Watson were both hard-working, cerebral, academically driven students who aim high, get straight As, and are eager to please. But what separates Watson is that she's an emotional person. She has unresolved and conflicted feelings that surface occasionally, as they have on this morning. "Today is the first day of the craziness," she says, referring to the two weeks of non-stop publicity she has ahead, promoting her latest film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. "I walk out of my apartment and there are paparazzi there. I'm flying to LA and then Toronto and then New York and back to London - it makes me emotional because it's intense."
Does she have the constitution to be a big movie star? "I've thought about that a lot," she says. "And no, I don't have the constitution to be a big movie star. Or a big celebrity." She pauses. "But I do have the constitution to be a good actress. Some of the stuff is really hard for me. But I really like my job when I'm doing my job. It's just there's this weird blur that's happened between being a celebrity and being an actress."
Okay, she was mostly honest in this interview. About her image at least, and I sympathize with her struggles growing up as a teenager, but I believe she truly enjoyed the fame that came with being an actress.
She looks exasperated. "I was interviewed at 13 or 14, and the journalist said, 'So that means you'd never have to work for money?' and I said yes. The quote was, 'I never have to work for money again,' and that quote has haunted me.
Nah, she was 18 when she said that. X
She shakes her head when I ask if she has any indulgences. "I don't have a need for a lot of money right now. I'm still renting my house. I'm travelling for film work: the studios usually put me up. I still stay at my parents' house. I have my one car - I didn't buy an expensive car because I'm a terrible driver. I'd trash it. So I pay for my phone and my laptop, and I bought a record player - I like records - nice little things like that, but I don't even feel like it [money] is there.
She forgot to mention the ski lodge she bought in 2008. X X
Her schedule is full. At the end of next year she'll begin Beauty and the Beast, and she's talking with the director, Guillermo del Toro, about whom he will cast as the Beast. The project came about when she was sent the script, and she chose del Toro as the director, a mark of her power, stature and taste.
That seems to be Emma's version of what happened. That WB had a script that they sent and that she went to Del Toro with it.
NYtimes 2012: And then I’m doing a film with Guillermo [del Toro] next summer, and I went to him and said Warner Brothers have given me the script for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ but the only way I’d really want to do it is if you did it. And then miraculously he said, ‘Oh, funnily enough ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is my favorite fairy tale, I can’t let anyone else do this, I’ll start putting a team together.’
But it seems that Del Toro was the one who wrote the script.
From snitchseeker.com June 2012 (From Emma’s Q&A with fans), “Q1 - What’s happening with Beauty and the Beast? Emma: Guillermo del Toro, the director, has just finished editing his last film and is working on the script and pre-production for Beauty and the Beast.”
From Deadline June 2014: EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo del Toro has withdrawn as the director of Beauty, the live-action revisionist take on Beauty And The Beast that has Emma Watson attached to star. Warner Bros has started the process of finding a new director. Del Toro had other commitments, but he’s still firmly part of the movie. He wrote the script, and he’s producing the film with Denise DiNovi. Del Toro is directing the haunted house pic Crimson Peak.
We've discussed all this before of course, but I was bored so...
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It would appear that there is a sea change going on in my brain. Self-reflection seems to be a mid-life given and I believe that has ramped up for many of us during restricted pandemic conditions. Once we tired of bread making and Netflix binges and being unable to wear anything but buffet pants, many of us got contemplative; involuntary monks in retreats that needed dusting.
As a storyteller I listen a lot and try to see the funny in the foibles and fairy-tales of everyday living. We tell ourselves whatever we need to in order to get from place to place,between frustrations and surprises, for better or worse. Case in point : “I will eat this last cookie, in addition to the two I just had, because it would be silly to put the bag back in the cupboard with just one cookie left.” Please tell me it’s not just me....
Rules of comportment have changed a lot in the last year and we have been more often confronted with the quirks of our own company. We examine the world through a lens of a necessarily more domestic perspective, noticing the dust dinosaurs under the bookshelf from our horizontal couch-lolling, seeing the cobwebs near the ceiling, remembering that we’d promised to freshen the cupboards with a coat of paint, and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling the hours away.
There are things I promised myself last November that I would spend the Winter doing; among them squats my own personal elephant-in-the-living-room; the actual work of assembling/organising some of my writing for publication. I have promised myself this every Autumn for the last 4 years, maybe more. Not following up has absolutely nothing to do with the pandemic and everything to do with the mixed messages in my early brain-wiring that I have managed until now to avoid reconciling. No, I am not blaming my parents for my failures; but I am finally acknowledging that they inadvertently gave me a puzzlement of fears to figure my way through. Analysis paralysis. That particular writing assignment is way overdue. I guess I have to start somewhere.
My parents, both born pre-Depression grew up in financial poverty, in families that strove to keep them fed and sheltered rather than striving for the sake of striving itself. Neither finished school because it was just not a priority next to taking on some responsibility for keeping the families basic needs of living met. They were taught to keep their heads down and noses-to-the-grindstone, to never think of aspiring beyond their “station” in life or if they did, to keep it to themselves. Which I think they did. I don’t recall either of them ever talking about having dreams for themselves except in the most self-deprecating or pipe-dreaming kind of manner, as if dreams were to be sloughed off, abandoned to the past, along with childhood.
So I grew up the eldest child of two very hard-working people whose attitudes combined in a united defensive front against those they’d been taught to believe were their “betters”; people like academics, doctors, and politicians. People of means, likely inherited. People of power and influence, genetically programmed to screw the little guy. Seriously.
I was a dreamer from the get-go. I had a hearty imagination fuelled by a belief in magic and a natural disinclination to follow the rules, a deeply curious little kid who had a knack for remembering and a sense of wonder at the world itself. My parents, like most of their generation were more concerned that I be prepared for harsh reality than for questioning the status quo. I too was to work hard, keep my head down, and not entertain any real ambition for fear of life beating it out of me. They both knew how to laugh and were not without creativity, but all of it was directed and drained off in matters of pure practicality.
Mixed messages have dogged me ever since, though I have long been of an age where I know it is my responsibility to unravel things for myself. Distilled, the messages that I carry are as follows: from Dad it was “who the hell do you think you are with your book-learning and big words? You think you are better than us? The hell you are!” And from Mum it was: “Well, good for you, but don’t get used to success because it doesn’t ever last.” Both attitudes came from fear, his from being usurped or found wanting and hers from being afraid of serial disappointment. Translated in my brain, those echoing, looping messages have kept me from believing it is okay to just take a grand leap of faith in myself. Good lord, what if I fail and embarrass us all?! The child in my brain wrestles with the adult who logically knows there are no guarantees either way, but that to do nothing is also futile.
I am a storyteller. My maternal grandparents were too. I read from a very young age and made up my own stories, even inventing a couple of imaginary friends to take along on my adventures. In school, I loved to read and write and went through systematic progressive phases of writing poetry and one-act plays and folk songs and short fiction. As an adult, I have written as therapy, for myself and for others of my generation who can relate to the things we all go through but I am willing to write and often laugh about. Writing is confession, and community, and collective consciousness. For me it’s most often spontaneous, off-the-cuff riffs about flushed car keys and public prat falls. Stories are how I make sense of the World, as well as the world of possibility. I write, I send it out like a flimsy paper airplane and hope it doesn’t crash too soon.
This past Winter I was all set to organise the many musings that I have blurted out on Facebook, in my blog, as a result of writing groups and workshops and the encouragement of kind readers. I wanted to prepare for publication a collection of mostly lighthearted observational spit-takes and rim-shots. But I didn’t do it. Every time I sat down, I would find a distraction to wander towards instead of the focus I needed to cobble my pieces (literal and figurative) together. I have watched friends publish works over the past two years and been so very proud and thrilled for them, admiring of and inspired by what they have done. Yet, I seem paralyzed in my own attempts. They tell me this is quite normal, this abject terror of imposter-ing, of discovering that I am just not any good at what I love so much that it is a significant part of my identity and therefore too personal to withstand the possibility of repeated wounds of rejection.
Possibility. It’s a double-edged sword of a word if ever there was one. We could fall. Or we could fly. The net between the two is full of holes.
I hear the words again; “who do you think you are?” and “don’t get used to it” and they stop me in my tracks, they burst the shiny pink bubble of joy that comes with delicious combinations of sounds and ideas, and I drop to the ground in a heap, feeling simply foolish, embarrassed to be caught dreaming. But I am a big girl, and I know full well that the real joy is in the doing, and the real fear is in the letting go...in sending those bubbles of joyous play and pondering out to fend for themselves in a world where most are shot out of the sky with a sharp stone from the slingshot of publishers simply trying to dig through a constant avalanche of submissions to find their own diamond..a money-maker that will keep the rent paid and the doors open. It’s really just a different degree of striving isn’t it?
I don’t ever expect to make much money from writing, although between copy-writing and biographies, I do make some. I would like to find the guts to write one really good book made up of many quirky little parts, something that other people could enjoy and relate to. (Yes,I’d settle for a bathroom book.)The very best part for me about telling a story are the stories that other people tell in response..that lovely, luscious, leveller of hearing “me too!” makes me feel like I’ve accurately described our human-ness. It’s that thing connects us all.
I’ve read lots advice from writers I admire...all the bits about getting my ass into a chair and just DOING it, letting a good editor chip the mud away from the motherlode, and suspending self-criticism in deference to those people paid to do it as their part of the journey toward publication. I have researched the publishers who accept the kind of work I think I write (that definition is hard!) and I have several versions of my elevator-pitch all ready to go. I have a ton of material to be shaped, and another ton in my head yet to be written down. What I am currently working on, the linchpin to all the rest, is courage. And perhaps a refresh button on my discipline. I really want to do this in spite of and perhaps to some degree, because of those old worn thin mixed messages. Wish me well.
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Design of Experiments (DOE)
For the past decade, Simon's primary claim of motive has been an experiment.
What is this experiment?
In his own words:
... we don't know.
It's all Simon's discretion what his "several hypotheses" are and how he's assessing them. He also describes the experiment as "descriptive", which we will look into soon.
An important distinction to make off the bat is that descriptive research isn't an experiment. It's a form of research, but it differs greatly from experimental research, which has completely separate specifications.
However, Simon doesn't make this distinction. He said that this is a "descriptive experiment", which I can only assume he views as a mishmash of the two. How can that work, exactly, when an experiment is aimed at discovering correlations between specific variables and descriptive research is looking for trends?
Well, it's simply worth keeping in mind for the time being.
From this source:
Experiments are conducted in order to determine cause-and-effect relationships. In ideal experimental design, the only difference between the experimental and control groups is whether participants are exposed to the experimental manipulation. Each group goes through all phases of the experiment, but each group will experience a different level of the independent variable: the experimental group is exposed to the experimental manipulation, and the control group is not exposed to the experimental manipulation. The researcher then measures the changes that are produced in the dependent variable in each group. Once data is collected from both groups, it is analyzed statistically to determine if there are meaningful differences between the groups.
But Simon states outright there is no control group, which automatically renders the experiment useless to everyone except, well, Simon.
Even for Simon, the data he collects won't have a discernable trend or meaning because he can't compare it to people who aren't exposed to his world. Not that he cares about that, of course.
To put the definition and structure of descriptive research in a non-academic-jargon-packed explanation:
Descriptive research is often the step before an experiment begins. It helps researchers develop hypotheses when there isn't any specific data they're looking to analyze due to a lack of information. It is supposed to involve a detachment from the subjects and the researcher, or, to be more opaque, the observation and surveying of a group in their natural environment.
Simon, being the one conducting his "experiment", does talk with and directly influence his subject matter. How can one observe the natural state of us humans if we are being told what we should and shouldn't believe by an ambiguous and anonymous figure? On top of that, it appears the method of collecting data in the first place is solely dependent on us being "educated" by Simon. It really doesn't seem to make any sense; what is he researching?
Now, let's talk about his survey.
With a poorly executed mess of questions he claims are meant to find correlations (which is actually an entirely different thing called correlational research) or, sorry, "corollaries", I don't understand what trends he could even analyze.
Many questions are marked mandatory when they rely on an answer to a previous question you may not have had, there were complete errors in regards to possible answers (such as "gender non conforming", something reliant on gender roles, being listed as a gender in and of itself), and just confusing wording in general.
Not to mention, his blog is intentionally devoid of "proof" of his claims, so when he asks if his gentle readers believe he is a people-eating monster, that isn't a test of how you use fiction to cope; it's a measure of gullibility and lack of critical thinking. To actually analyze our use of fiction, it would've been more constructive to prove he's real and observe how we try to rationalize it away as fictional out of fear, which is what he claims humans have been doing for millennia in the first place.
So we've established that there isn't a solid hypothesis, no control group, active interference by the researcher, no reliable form of data collection, and that there's not a single thing about his research that actually relates to our consumption of fiction as a species.
What's even left? It's not correlational, experimental, or descriptive research. It's barely more than an surface-level Google'd ARG playing on the author's own anonymity to see if they could trick people into stroking their ego.
This has been a a fun little hobby for Simon's author, never any form of real research, experimental or otherwise. That is all.
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“Why did Keynes' promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the '60s—never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn't figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we've collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment's reflection shows it can't really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the '20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.
So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ tripled, growing ‘from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.’ In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.)
But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs’.
It's as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don't really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.
While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.
This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one's job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one's work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it's obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It's not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.
If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it's hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc.)—and particularly its financial avatars—but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3–4 hour days.”
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Flight Review: Flight Blog Tour
Ready to talk about some middle grade historical fiction? Get ready, because this is quite the story, featuring two young kids during the second world war trying to rescue horses from the Nazis. It’s a thrilling and riveting novel of survival as well as friendship. It’s definitely a story with a lot of heart, but had more grit to it than I would have imagined to a middle grade story. This one might be one to read as an older kiddo, but I’m honored to have been given a copy of this book to review by the publisher for the tour hosted by Turn the Page Tours! If you all are curious about getting started with reviewing books and promoting them for publishers, there’s no better way than by signing up to be a host!
Now onto what this story is about! Check out the synopsis:
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Author: Vanessa Harbour
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: March 02, 2021
Book Purchase link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250761439
From Vanessa Harbour comes Flight, a middle-grade historical fiction novel about a Jewish boy and a Roma girl leading a group of horses across mountains to escape Nazis during WWII.
Everyone deserves to be free and feel safe, even horses.
The year is 1945 in Austria, where an SS officer and some of his men visit a stable, determined to find the Jewish boy they believe the owner is hiding there. Luckily, just as Jakob—the boy in question—is about to be found, the men are called away…but not before the SS officer shoots and kills Jakob’s favorite horse. It’s very clear then, to Jakob and his guardian, that they are no longer safe there. Traveling through Nazi territory with that many horses will be incredibly difficult and risky, but the alternative—staying—is even more dangerous.
After an orphaned Roma girl named Kizzy joins the pair, the three of them travel across woods and mountains in the hopes of finding safety. Along the way are life-threatening obstacles and an injury that could prove to be deadly.
Inspired by a real mission, this is a story of courage, adventure, friendship, and dancing horses.
When I was a kid, I used to DEVOUR stories about World War II, one of my favorite stories was UNDER A WAR TORN SKY by L.M. Elliott. If you haven’t read it, it’s about a young pilot who winds up trapped behind enemy lines and has to figure out how to survive. FLIGHT really reminded me of that story. They’re both full of raw emotion and heart. What really makes this story stand out to me is the premise. Jakob is a young Jewish boy who is in hiding and before he’s found, has his favorite horse killed instead. The story starts off with incredible tragedy, and Jakob is a kid who’s going through so much. The descriptive storytelling can be rough on soft hearted readers, because there’s so much pain throughout this story.
The plot feels pretty well structured in my opinion, and I feel like it does move fast. You get to know the characters quite well, and I definitely enjoyed Jakob’s relationship with the horses, especially Raluca. Kizzy was also a very fascinating character, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about her toward the beginning as it felt a little out of place how she comes into the story. However, she makes her place among Jakob and Herr Engel quickly.
For a middle grade novel, this book can be very dark at times. It doesn’t shy away from topics such as murder, abuse, and death. This makes sense for the time that it was, but I would caution younger readers trying to read this book that it might touch on more sensitive topics that they might not be ready to face, like the killing of animals. That being said, I do feel like this would be an excellent book to be used for discussions by older readers because there are lots of themes in this story to think about. Found family, bonds between humans and animals, persecution based on your ethnicity.
Overall, this was a great read that definitely left me thinking for a good while. I would rate this a 4/5 stars, and if you enjoy darker historical fiction, this is a title to add to your list!
Vanessa Harbour was born in Bromsgrove, England. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester and also works as Editor and Academic & Business Consultant at the Golden Egg Academy. Flight is her first novel.
Enter to win one (1) finished copy of Flight by Vanessa Harbour! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.
Giveaway starts: Monday, March 15, 2021
Giveaway ends: Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST
ENTER HERE: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d29/?
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