Slices of Writing (2)

Now that I have established certain stuff I hope it gets to you in an important. If not, no matter — I have some more pointers. If you already knew the previous rules, more power to you. If not, try to incorporate them in your life in whatever customised or direct way you want and need. There is a reason I highlighted those words. Your wants and needs are important too. Though, your wants and needs also can be hierarchal. You must balance them accordingly to get a process going and get results. More on that later.

Onwards to new things that perhaps will be helping for you with writing. In the last segment I had shown you that writing is a psychosomatic, emotional and spatial skill. It interacts with other skills, with you and your environment. I have written how the word innate should not mean fast/rapid/genetic in your repertoire. People can be gifted but so can gifts be earned and attained. I am reviewing this because this is something that must be constantly reviewed. It will stick, then unstick, then stick again only to unstick once more. And again, more on that later.

  • Avoid/Resist Toxic People and Situations as Much as Possible —This is not a rehash of the Trolls and the Haters phenomenon. This takes that further than that. Trolls and Haters usually occupy social media. They can also be real people as well, as I cited. But, they may be distant people. So, though this may sound similar it is not necessarily identical.

    You may have to work with people who are unpleasant or unpleasant towards you. Usually, it can be latter than the former. If it is the former you can sometimes talk about this person with some other colleague who is a confidant. However, doing so regularly may a) jeopardise your job as no one can fully be trusted in the work space and b) cause you to create more toxicity by making your complaints a habit. Trust me. We all may have been there and we don’t want that.

    If it’s the latter know that you don’t have to interact with this person beyond the minimum. Keep your interactions work related and respond only when particularly referred to. If this is your boss then choose select words and let your work do the talking for you. Do not reiterate anything much or try to seem over enthusiastic because toxic people use that opportunity to shoot you down and even publicly humiliating you. Do not tone down too much either nor else they will choose to be especially unpleasant and give you poor performance reviews.

    If this person actively complains about you to your other bosses consult someone you can trust and change sectors or jobs if need be. Chances are that you will be happier and more productive in the new area. You have to prioritise your productivity and passions. Do not waste any of it on toxic people. Toxic people are not completely avoidable. This is just life. You will meet them in social media, in family, friends and even spouses.

    If it is social media you can always ignore them or blocked them. If these are reviews then set the “no review” box for a while and even “non anon.” If this is family try to gradually lessen your interactions with them so that you can well not feel guilty or allow them to guilt trip you to go back to their toxic traps. Importantly, if they are parents you can really lessen your interactions with them. If you are being Abused. CALL SOCIAL SERVICES OR THE POLICE AND GET HELP.

    Now, the other important parts. If toxic people are friends, you have to do what Anne Lamott said in her book Bird by Bird — your friendship needs a sabbatical. Seriously, if you feel you can’t cut them out think you are taking a sabbatical from your friendship. Sometimes toxic behaviour is also passive or indifferent behaviour. Such as not giving attention to your texts, not including you or showing any signs of elation when seeing or interacting with you. Then there is passive aggressive behaviour. Passive Aggressive behaviour is hard to stomach because it is a statement designed a joke or abstraction to still bruise you. You need to resist or stay away from these types of behaviour as much as possible. Friends are meant to enrich your life not make you feel like you are an abyss of uselessness.

    If your spouse does this either go to couples counseling or seriously rethink the relationship. Your spouse/partner is not meant to belittle, humiliate, berate and ambush you with guilt all the time. Gaslighting and manipulating you is AN ABUSE. So, don’t stay with these people. PLEASE GET HELP ASAP.

    The reasons I stated this is because toxic people like haters and trolls will debilitate and distract you from writing. If writing is your joy they will belittle it and they will try to ruin your work. Renowned novelist Buchi Emecheta had an abusive husband. When she wrote her first draft of Bride Price and gave it for her husband to read, she came back and saw him burning the manuscript. Yes, that did happen. That is how violent and toxic her ex-husband was.

    You don’t need partners like that. Or environments like that. They will first feed parasitically on your writing and this will effect and eventually lead to other parts of you. Your writing is not only your passion, it allows you to gain privileges and opportunities and give you work. In the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport he didn’t support passion so that is why I called writing also work. His reasons are actually credible. Passion, he states, is a side effect of mastery so that ties into how innateness does not equate much in the long run. And, a spouse who doesn’t take your work seriously is not going to take seriously other avenues of your life. By work here I also mean your efforts to master talents, your needs and wants and efforts at communication, habits you try to inculcate, and also your personality and beliefs.

    Toxic people and environments may ultimately ruin your needs and wants to master your craft. They are sometimes more dangerous than haters and trolls because they have a certain sense of closeness and intimacywith you, which they shamelessly take advantage of. If haters and trolls are clever and lack courage the toxic people are cowardice magnified. They also take the discrimination of cleverness and mutate it to entitlement. They feel that as they are with you they are entitled to behave with you in any way they please.

    Don’t suffer from this garbage and take a stand for yourself to resist and avoid as much as possible. So yes the sticking and unsticking come here a bit. Toxic people and environments make you doubt yourself a lot and let you cave in to defeating pressure. Yeah, there is positive pressure. The feeling the demanding need to write and write as heartily and skillfully as one can at the moment.

    So for your health tied to your writing stay away from toxicity as much as possible and resist it whenever the opportunities present themselves.

  • Do not Wait for the Mood to Write — This is a cardinal rule that you need to repeat to yourself. I know I have to because I procrastinate on it and don’t do it but it is seriously and important rule. Even if you are depressed, take some time off for your health and then try to write one line and draft it out and redraft it out.

    The reason I am saying this is that writing is a muscle and that it needs development and stimulation. Now, you may be thinking if I have writer’s block how can I be stimulated? Well, do other things. Or better yet start free writing. Take out your journal or Document and just start writing/typing random things and you will sure to get ideas. These writings do not need to final products or anything perfect. They can be to do lists or 40 best songs you liked or movies or even books. Write out your feelings of toxic people, your anxieties, your triumphs, etcetera and you are sure to get something.

    Writing is a balance of passive and active nodes. Thinking alone about writing ideas usually don’t help. Thinking can also be passive because the mind is not stimulated enough to get somewhere. Free Writing can also be passive because it doesn’t have a necessary goal. However, both can be active too gradually. When I first started writing these writing tips I didn’t completely know how I would go about it. I still don’t know but I kept on writing and the ideas gradually came. If I stuck to only thinking and planning alone it may have taken longer. Yes, I thought out the headings and such and some of the chunks but not everything.

    That is why I mentioned the hierarchy of desire and wants. Writing will not always operate on those things. Writing like any habit and skills needs time, dedication, discipline, patience and reiteration. If you are a victim of your moods and always get easily seduced by them writing will believe you are a player and not interested in a relationship (yeah, I went there). You need to understand that as there is no true innate quality to writing there is no ideal hour, moment, time or whatever for writing either.

    Writing is paradoxical because human beings are paradoxical. Writing is sometimes born and borne out of great frustration and misery and flicks off your happy pastures world. Writing at times scowls at decay and looks for pure Nirvana. Writing is concrete in its form but relative in its act of conception. It creates its own ideals and mixes other generally thought out ones. It may sometimes strive in purity which can also be chaos and at times live in greys which can be a ordinary day in the park.

    Don’t think that you need a mood always to write. You don’t need a mood always to breathe? It is as Scout said in To Kill a Mocking Bird. Reading to her was breathing. And, how do you breathe. You do it continuously. Now, I am not saying burn yourself out by writing. I am just giving a loose analogy. You don’t always breathe deeply and loudly so take writing also as gradual breathing which may sometimes stay nice and stable as though you are in a dream, sometimes peak up as you are being athletic and sometimes even be “soggy” like you are in a flu. You are writing about life so writing won’t be excised from life.

    Like Life writing also needs other avenues than your thoughts to be feed. It needs experiential stuff, segments from classrooms, snippets in cafes and the smell of coffee and the warmth of tea, the kiss of a lover, the kiss of a stranger, the theories of betrayal and actual betrayals, the concatenation of pearls in a bracelet, the mathematical equation you learned the other day, your dissertation, your lab assignment and even the joke you told your friend.

    Writing stems from all of these. Writing is the nodes of you as you go through life. Writing is the anatomy of your body, the curvatures of your spirit and the oceans of your soul with the forests of your thoughts and subconscious — writing is the braille of time and the alphabets of your spine dancing in unison to some track that is in your head and the cusp in your heart. Thus writing requires discipline, effort, time and dedication.

    As you are analogous to your writing (if not themes or characters then certainly the process) than like you writing needs proper nourishment and nurturing. And your moods erratically firing off won’t always help.

    Be consistent as much as possible. And I mean a healthy consistent. Write in a day or two days. Write small quotes. Plan projects and try your best to finish them.

    The more respect, time and attention you give to writing (a healthy amount because you need to take yourself and do other things) the more your writing will respect you and feel like listening to you.

~ To Be Continued

Slices of Writings (1)

I been writing for 16 years now. I know it may not seem like a long time but I do believe that because I was writing this long, both consistently at times and intermittently at others, that I have gotten some experience. My experience may or may not help others but I think writing down some points is always good.

What have I written?

I have written my own stories, poetry and I have written fanfiction.

I started writing my own original short stories and fanfiction. Many people may not like writing fanfiction. There are reasons for not liking fanfiction. However, I do not agree with it not being serious writing. Fanfiction is not always smut writing or attempts at erotica. It can be very well defined and detailed, and at times, supersede the original work or give it layers that the original did not support.

I have learned that fanfiction can be analytical writing. It is a form of essaying into what we perceive and what can be done with characters and plots. Fanfiction writing is also a form of sandbox. The term sandbox is more popular with coders because it is a test sheet in which they can experiment with code and try things out. Fanfiction many not always be a scratch sheet but in the beginning it does serve to others a form of blueprint in how to navigate the writing/writer’s arena. So, I do not discourage fanfiction. It is through our passions for creativity, reflected in others’, that sometimes we find our own voices.

Now, as I have gotten that aside I want to write down some points that may  be of use to you. These points are not rule of thumb and you are free to customise them whichever way suits your needs. They are meant to orient you to writing and how you can shape yourself better as a writer. Some of these tips are things to help bring out a mindset for writing. Others are involved in the body of writing.

  • Nothing is fully innate ability — Recently, I had a chance to interact with a blogger who lives in Japan and makes Lolita dresses by herself. People ask her for advice on how wonderfully she can make these dresses and she responds to them to the best of her knowledge. I like Lolita dresses but I am not that engaged with the lifestyle, however, it was nice to see someone so passionate about doing something they love. And, doing it well. I won’t be afraid to admit that I was envious and I mentioned it to them. I told them that I wish I had their talent. That is when she said something very important.  She told me that she worked hard on all of her dresses. That each ensemble took time and effort. That it was a  process of trial and error that she came to this point. Saying talent alone usually reduces all that hard effort and makes it seem magical.

    What is important is that you learn this now. No matter what your age, 17, 19, 22, 27 or 37 or 64 get it out of your system as much as possible that innate ability is  this incomparable reservoir of creativity that you are born with and that only some people have it and others don’t. Even the most “gifted” people need to practice. Our mainstream cultures have a tendency to portray the “gifted” as someone who easily gets things. They are so awesome they get it in a few minutes or their first attempt is successful as anything. Look, life isn’t some anime where the shougo heroine or shounen hero gets to level up so fast and achieve greatness in one go. Nor is it a scene from Good Will Hunting. We may admire and love movies like Good Will Hunting but it is not necessarily real.

    Even genius has a process and requires experience. If you don’t believe think about Will in the film. Despite his gifts he squanders most of them and initially is reticent in getting into his passions because he fears rejection and he wants to socially fit in. He may have an innate ability for mathematics but he does poorly socially and even interpersonally. Not to mention, he is in denial about himself and his own insecurities and pain. Then he does practise mathematics. It’s not like he doesn’t. He reads books, tries to learn more. Yes, because it is a film we don’t get to see the process but it’s there.

    Innate ability may have some merit but practice and understanding usually play a major role in expanding yourself. So, please get it out of your head that you cannot do something because you are not innately good at it. This is a self-defeating and procrastinating attitude. Even I have it and try to get rid of it. It is also a relaxed attitude — I dare say lazy. We cannot ascribe to our passions without any sort of trial or effort. Struggles, small and large, make the process meaningful and salient.

    Sometimes, the more mistakes we do learning allows us the greater avenue of success. We may not want to try something for fear of all the long hours of work, fear of failure and fear of the unknown. These are all natural fears. But what is also natural is you overcoming them. These fears are not a fatality. You have the power to make them insignificant by showing the fears who is boss. Your fears should not master you; you should master them.

    If you do not like the idea of mastering them then think of fear as little sprites that are naughty and a bit hyperactive. Think of them as naive and sweet beings that are hungry for your attention. They could even be parasitic. Give them a glass of milk, feed them some cookies and send them outside to play or to bed. The thing is that fears and even the reluctance to do hard work will becoming damaging as you keep on going in life. Hard work does pay off. That is the age old rule that actually does stick and work.

    Understand your craft and work hard. Only you can for your stories, writing and any other passions you may have. Do not think that the Valkyries will suddenly sing and the gates of Valhalla will open and you will drink ambrosia and be gifted with the Midas touch. Even Midas had to be king before he got his touch and there had to be warriors for Valhalla to appear and the Valkyries to know the songs they would soon compose and fight alongside to. Don’t aspire to get to chapter 10 before you haven’t even done chapter 1. The only innate thing you can truly possess with some certainty is your perseverance and endurance. There will be bad days and there will be good days. Take them all as the climbing steps for progress.

  • Do not be discouraged by Haters — This is a very important rule and one that you must try to always keep on reinforcing to yourself. No matter how hard it gets.  When you start there are things that won’t be polished. Writing is a lot like woodcutting and carpentry. You start with a block of wood and it still had stubborn sticks and branches, truant leaves and all of the rough edges that do not look nice on its own. When you start an experiment in a laboratory you are just given raw materials that you have dissect, wait to precipitate and then get results.

    Writing is no different than this. Sometimes, you may be in the drawing board for hours, days, weeks or months. It can take years to finally even find your voice and style. This is the same with art. This is not saying you cannot get it faster.  Sometimes, our other skills help the one we are trying to foster. So, don’t think if you are a certain age you cannot learn writing. As I said before the only innate you can be completely sure about is perseverance and endurance.

    Now, here is the thing. Not everyone can do what you do. This is a truth. And, it is a fact. Not everyone will have the guts to well write or even try to write and then show it to others. This takes some form of courage if not confidence. You must remember that not everyone inculcates or teaches themselves this form of courage. Yes, courage can be taught. Everything in the world is learned via the tutelage of different forms. The people who cannot do this actually learn something else. They learn cleverness. Cleverness is not always a good quality because it can discriminate and be very partial to others other than oneself. When people are  spouting vitriolic about your work they are aspiring to be clever. That is why a comeback can be clever but may not fully be honest or helpful.

    Haters have no courage. They do not know how to have it. What they have is venom and cleverness in abundance. Remember firstly a hater mostly hates themselves. A person cannot be this acerbic to a work without some acerbity towards themselves. If you have not written a nasty opinion which is mired in racism, queerphobia, xenophobia, sexism, misogyny, misandry, transphobia and discrimination of any sort there is no reason for anyone to hate your work this passionately. Usually, people who have enlightened opinions are enlightened in their critique. If you are young or not well informed about something people will first approach you with the benefit of the doubt.

    Haters and trolls are a subset of a new age tabloidism, in that they are sensationalist, melodramatic and full of spite for themselves and others. A good example of this is the anonymous message service in Tumblr. I do receive a good amount of anon hate and have received them for some years. I don’t really let it faze me anymore. Haters hate me because they can. It is not a need or a desire. It is built on a false consumption of a choice. Instead of choosing to fulfil their lives and instead of making themselves better to the image they aspire to be they are wasting their time and yours by hating on you. They don’t know and many a times they don’t know your work intimately or informatively either. They are just people with a grudge who want to vent. Instead of choosing healthier ways to do that, they choose to be toxic. Toxicity is not your priority; creativity is. So, don’t listen to the haters.

    A teacher of mine recently stated that it is also social/human nature to drag others down. If you can do something or have the passion to want to do something be prepared to meet a few people that will tell you, you can’t. I wish I knew this back when I was 16 or 17. I remember those times social media was young and I posted poems on Facebook. One guy, who I tagged as a friend, always use to say some of the most rude comments about my work. He would ascribe them to be that of a emo, 3rd grader with no creativity. I remember calling my best friend then, young as I was, at night and crying to her. She consoled me and told me not to take this personally. So, I approached him and said that there was no need to be so hostile towards my work if he didn’t like it. The reply was nice but it pointed out my flaws instead of his. Saying he should have remembered that I was a bit of a softie and not taking responsibility for his actions.

    In retrospect, I am happy he did do that. It proved the thing my teacher said. If I asked him if he could do better or write better I am sure he couldn’t have. If he honestly answered he couldn’t come close to what I was writing then. So what if it was emo and angsty; that is common and normal for a teenager. Especially, for a teenager who have faced abused most of their life. It may seem emo to him but could he write of his own injustices this way? When we write we are also doing something therapeutic. Meaning: important to our socio-physical, emotional and psychological well being. A hater knows this and their cruelty is like a thief they attack this vulnerability of yours. Remember their vulnerability, not power, is also their attack on you. Treat it as such.

    Jeanette Winterson said that poetry is important because a tough life needs a tough language. She is completely correct. People who can do better have a portfolio either professional or otherwise of doing better. Their words are concomitant to their actions. Their words are also usually clear that aside hate they know what they are talking about. They show knowledge in their criticism. Haters usually nag, whine, complain and give cheap opinions.

    Haters are ironically also your most avid fans because they stalk your work and social media accounts with the chance to bully you. If you did stop doing what you do for the sake of them their triumph is short lived and they want you back so soon. You are their pinata and they miss you like anything. More so than a lover. They are codependent and parasitic. So, don’t stop writing for haters. Haters will hate whatever you write. Even if you write something in synchronicity with The Theory of Everything they will still hate your guts. They lack their own so like vultures they pick at yours.

    Haters gonna Hate. Writers Gonna Write.

  • Take Constructive Criticism — There are always going to be people who are knowledgeable and give you advice. They could be doing other things but they are helpful enough to tell you perhaps your language could be better, or your syntax or you can put in more expressions. Don’t take these as negatives. Take these also as progress. Your writing touched someone enough to leave constructive criticism, which means they valued your writing in one form or another. They believe you have the potential to grow further and be farther than where you are.  That is saying something especially in today’s world full of haters and trolls. They gave you a perspective you possibly haven’t checked and could do wonders for your writing if you did check.

    There is no true set limit to a skill. Your life is not Sims so that you master skills and then you have nothing to do. Life is ready and ripe with opportunities and for you and you are also there for it. It is important to take criticisms not as — and this is very important — as an evaluation on yourself. Ad hominem arguments usually come from haters where they build you up as a straw man and try to burn you like an effigy. Constructive criticism is meant to help you put final touches or at least help you along your road of success.

    Think about the block of wood I spoke about earlier. After carving it out  someone notices it could use more varnish, or some wood chips are unevenly out or that one side is engraved too much. These are all said to make your work look more aesthetically pleasing and also substantial. You have the guts to write something then you also organically have the guts to take this. Trust me. Constructive criticism is meant to tie up courage and confidence. That is why writers online also have beta readers. Beta readers are the text audience who are going to see how your writing is flowing. These are all normal aspects of writing. Do not be discouraged by them.

    When I was 14-19 I had a hard time taking constructive criticism. I haven’t fully mastered it yet but at that time I was completely reluctant to take it. It was not necessarily pride that stopped me it was the inability to understand what my audience was saying. I was young, inexperienced and immature. My audience was telling me not to be so experimental with my writing style. This was for fanfiction writing. Obviously, the demographic may want something different. Yet, as I got older I decided to incorporate some of the advice they have been saying. It worked better for me too. I mean I realised I couldn’t finish projects because I was demanding too much of myself in one place which could also serve as a constrained medium.

    Saying that, I am also happy I experimented. That I took long to listen to their advice. This may seem contrary to what I stated but it is not. See, I was young and discovering aspects of my voice and style. I terribly needed to do what I did. It was a form of catharsis that literally helped me mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physically. We all have moments like this and we all need them. Seizing these moments is seizing life as well. To understand better who we are and what we are doing and also the why and how we are doing.

    It is your job as the writer to actually understand what constructive criticism you would need and what you wouldn’t. Think about a mathematics problem. They say certain things about it that could be excess information. But for you to make x and y you don’t need everything. Mathematics is also about context, elimination and extraction as much as writing is. So, you take what you feel is necessary and you could use to improve yourself. And, things you don’t you ruminate on them later or don’t engage with them as much.

    Your responsibility as a writer is to write and to write well in how and what you write. You don’t always need to listen to what a reader or reviewer is saying if you feel they are going antithetical to your ideas and writing goals. That doesn’t give you the right to be rude with them. It allows you to understand other perspectives and how you can better write your messages across. If a reviewer or reader gives a suggestion or desperately wants something you don’t have to cave in to their wishes. This is something I learned the hard way too. Your story may be different than their expectations and that is actually good. If you were to write only for their expectations what would you learn or what would they?

    So, the idea is to map out those comments and extricate the meat of it and eschew the rest. You don’t always have to feel the pressing need that you may lose a fan if you don’t write by their standards. You may actually lose the respect of your fan if you always cave in to what they want. They may disregard your ideologies and philosophies because they feel you are governed more with a nature to please than to persist. And persist you shall with your own autonomy. No person is a locked island though so obviously the tides of criticism are needed but they may also abate to see the coastlines of your writing shores.

    Take advice wisely. Remember that the writing is coming from you and no one else. You have a better grasp on the realities and expectations of the writing than anyone else can so you should write them out as such. Do not let peer pressure or even the pressure of ratings malign your course of action.

 

~ To be continued

a scratch by a purr

there is a sensation in my bones
a chirping of molecules like crickets
fastened into my mouth and throat
like some oral fixation

feel myself moving like thuds in the attic
a ghost of a heartbeat manifesting
in poltergeist steroids of adrenalin and noise

I was flesh before I was matter
I was wind before I was echo
throating my whines and neighs and snarls and howls
making the most decisive decision
to not mute my speech.

when I cannot sleep

I cannot sleep; the dust of it rounds my eyes
into separate spheres, a sea in each
dipping night’s ink like a chance of lead
into the silvery apparition of a reflected moon
cradled between the sinews of a hammocked brain

there is a long sigh, a long echo — followed slowly by a song
tethering is a lullaby in glades of sun and shadow
day hinged and riveted like a solarnaut in crucial voyages

and my mind sits there, ancient, stubborn — like a shard of shell
fossilised and unmoving, indifferent to the throes of sleep
and voyeuring on the agonies of silence.

I know I wasn’t a tragedy; I knew it seemed so
after the hallways laughed menacingly
and the bells that chimed once in my favour
grew to sand in some lothario’s hourglass of moves
glued to the stationary casket of time in motion
faster than sound and faster than quantum

it aches my head and bones; not my heart
she flutters still like some newborn butterfly
doing her pilgrimage of movements, she never tires
when I do — there lies the problem and the sanity.
I am sleek with the covers, I am armed with the pillows
salient are my eyebrows playing tic-tac with particles of skin
and the dreams that are coiling to these feathery antennas

I will sleep soon
then wake to conquer the seeming
unconquerable
for I am too
a shade of moon
encased in an hourglass of night
measured stably by a rush of adrenalin
in a spoon of reverberations.—

Failure

Cristian Mihai talks both about failure and his needs to move forward.

Cristian Mihai

I started writing when I was thirteen years old. I thought it would be easy. I thought that all you needed was a brilliant idea…

First story I ever got the courage to let someone else read it… they called me a retard. They said it was so bad that I should give up writing.

First book I ever self-published: sold two e-book and two paperback copies, received two reviews, and that was it. I had it unpublished.

My second try with self-publishing? Sold 3 e-copies of a short story in the first month, earning $1.05 before taxes.

First try at blogging? Quit after three days.

First try at quitting smoking? Lasted for a month.

First time I went to the gym? Lasted for three days. Second time? About a week.

I have failed, over and over again, and I keep failing, and that is the key to becoming successful…

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(In)visible Disabilities and Machine Bodies in NieR: Automata:- Plato 1728′s plight in a posthumanist light

In [Jacques] Derrida’s terms, it is the blind, the disabled, who “see” the truth of vision. It is the blind who most readily understand that the core fantasy of humanism’s trope of vision is to think that perpetual space is organized around and for the looking subject; that the pure point of the eye (as agent of ratio and logos) exhausts the field of the visible; that the “invisible” is only — indeed, merely — that which has not yet been seen by a subject who is, in principle, capable of seeing all.

— Cary Wolfe, What is Posthumanism? (132)

Embedded and embedding narrative frames assume precisely this self-referential form of form by marking the virtual edges of narrative structure.

— Bruce Clarke, Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems, (94)

Upon Playing NieR:Automata’s DLC, which focused on the machine individual, Plato 1728, I felt that the narrative was engaged with the powerful aspect of disability. It allows the player to take control of a robot who is considered “defective” and does things poorly. Plato 1728 believes that he does poorly in everything, he cannot fight well as when he does his body betrays him, nuts and bolts come off and oil spills. He cannot hold a weapon. Yet, he tries his hardest hoping that he will be accepted and appreciated.

This does not happen.

What you experience in the gameplay is a first person perspective of what it feels like to be disabled and ostracised for said-disabilities. The game poignantly attempts to show the player the censor and the frustration, alongside the mental trauma, a person with aa disability can face in a ableist society. It does this brilliantly by showing this efficiency prone behaviour and ableism in the lifeforms that invaded Earth. Though they are aliens they have adopted many human like aspects. The other machines tease and ridicule Plato 1728 to the point that he feels alone all the time. No one desires to be his friend and no one seems to care about him.

Plato 1728 is a horrible dilemma. He was built to be a weapon but he has not of the proclivities and qualities of a weapon. Rather he mentions he abhors violence. Yet, as he is built to fight, he must continue to do so. The machines are all living workaholic existences in which their daily routine is comprised of sparring and maintaining, and building other machines for war alongside taking care of the factory. Some of the machines obviously have consciousness and existential thoughts but this gets stampeded over the nuts and bolts of what they assembly is comprised of.

We, as the players, are put in the position to play as Plato 1728. It is something that overwhelms us. It is designed to show how inhumane and cruel the machine life routine is. Operating Plato 1728 you notice he glitches and seizes up at times and he cannot move at all. There are system errors shown about as you and Plato 1728 desperately attempt to keep himself composed. Then we are presented with the motor function test. We are in the position of Plato 1728 giving this test. Plato 1728 actually does well. You can, even with his body glitching, get 17-10 rings, which are the objectives of the motor examination. However, then multiple rings come on and off and go away easily and we are given a body that wasn’t either designed to move fast or we do not know how.

This a crucial part of the narrative. After basically failing the test three times, with an “exceedingly poor” grade, we as players are made to ruminate why the motor function examination suddenly became what it was. Why did the runs suddenly come and go off in such a manner. Why were these tests designed like this. The players are also made to wonder if we were in control of 2B, 9S or A2 would be able to pass a motor examination like this? We probably could. However, in the base game when you start out with a mission directly with tutorials just being on-screen commands you may falter. The prologue is also designed to be 35-40 minutes gameplay that any newcomer can exceedingly fail in as well.

It is not also a question of machine lifeforms themselves. Before coming to Plato 1728′s narrative, we must finish three coliseums. One coliseum is devoted entirely of machines and you must make 9S choose a machine to battle with. Depending on your level, you get a selection of machines. The thing is you upgrade or you choose a machine based on which level in the coliseum you are, what your skill level is and what the skill level of the machine is — they are all interconnected factors that help you win the tournament in the coliseum.

Plato 1728, though saying he is a “defective” model, was able to get many rings. It is not his fault the test is designed such a frustrating way that failure seems to be the only option. Even with his disability Plato 1728 tried and succeeded a lot. However, due to the assessment requirements not being met, Plato 1728 is branded as a failure.

Subsequently, this branding of failure persist. When we are doing combat training we, the players in control of Plato 1728, are shocked when a punch makes Plato 1728 lose both his arms! We can try to evade and move about and do what we can to keep the clock running but Plato 1728 fails. It is not that he is intending to do nothing. He is intending to fight but his body is having issues and no one seems to care and no one seems to assist him with his bodily issues. He is branded a failure. This is not only a desecration of justice but a desecration of life and the game wants you, the player, to feel it, as a machine with disability.

Plato 1728 then decides, in his loneliness and ostracism, to take care of a doll. The factory is attacked, either by the player as playing one of the protagonists’ androids, and Plato 1728 helplessly watch as the doll he cherished goes up in flames. Feeling traumatised and grief beyond anything, all his pent up sadness came up and he started anyone and anything. When his rage is exhausted, his companions trap him and dispose of him. When we re-enter the factory as another machine, the player sees that some people are shocked that Plato 1728 have had so much power in him that they didn’t realise. Some don’t wish to go into battle, afraid at seeing the destruction that Plato 1728 wrought, some are still thinking he is “useless” and that his model should be stopped while others mourn his downfall and are ashamed at their own behaviours surrounding him.

In fact, the machine the player is operating comments at his terminal as he has to input data on Plato 1728 goes on to say something like oh yeah, the guy who lost it.

Plato 1728′s consciousness and soul are still alive even if his body is gone. Though he wishes he could have a body again. He comments that the coliseum people are all selfish. The ones were machine are fighting to become stronger, the one where machines are trying to live by rules and the ones where machines are enslaved to be gladiators for android amusement. He says that is he really the crazy one?

Due to the doll seemingly being the cause of Plato 1728′s madness, dolls when found, are destroyed in the factory now. The players are then shown a psychedelic, gothic music video of a random machine destroying dolls and in the end Plato 1728′s soul reaches out attempting to stop the machine to destroy the doll that looks like 2B but he fails and the 2B doll is symbolically destroyed.

In my own reading of this DLC and the NieR:Automata game, I found aspects of posthumanism and transhumanism at a clash. My intentions to summarise the events of the DLC is to provide some of my own critical understanding of the game. In the base game, Pascal, 2B and A2 herald empathy and mostly posthumanist aspects in their characteristics. Though Route A follows more of a transhumanist path the characters present show some posthumanist nuances. In the game, the transhumanist agents are 9S and initially, Adam and Eve.

Transhumanism believes in the augmentation of the human body. It believes that human limits can be “corrected” and transcended. The body is to be a workshop and that workshop perfects upon the body into an ideal type of unit or anatomy in execution. Posthumanism is different; in fact, posthumanism believes more in the imperfections of humans and it rejects the humanist model of ideal human saying there can be no ideal. It considers the value of all living life forms and the systems that interconnect them. It also shows that human bodies can inherently and environmentally differ from each other and that is a good thing. Posthumanism also does not advocate anthropomorphism.

Bruce Clarke in his book Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems talks about humans as quasi-subjects and quasi-objects. This means they are neither completely subjective markers nor markers of objectification. Humans interact and they are heavily affected and influence by how, what and why they interact with (Clarke 44-45). Clarke also states that humans are biotic creatures and there can be abiotic organisms (Clarke 17). Biotic organism are organisms who can perform autopoiesis. Autopoiesis is the ability of the body;s various parts to organise itself, to keep its integrity but also to allow certain things to change, an example of human genome which does not change but phenotypical components such as hair and eye colour changing. The organisation of autopoietic structures is recursive; unique in its context. Non Autopoietic structures can exist within autopoietic creatures. Clarke states that non-living, non autopoietic organisms are called abiotic. He also states that there are metabiotic structures as well for example consciousness and social and psychical systems that make up society, an example would be media is an abiotic system that influences metabiotic structures like society and biotic humans.

I talk about autopoiesis and abiotic, biotic and metabiotic structures because these are crucial elements to understand posthumanism. Posthumanism plays a large role in NieR:Automata not only in its embedded narrative style as Clarke would state it, but also as Wolfe would state, it attempts to broaden the self-reflexive criticism of disciplines themselves. Wolfe states that disciplines can keep their integrity, as in autopoiesis, but must understand that there is a multidisciplinary promise to every discipline and that disciplines can evolve. Wolfe follows the second system theory to a bit in that the observer(s) are also scrutinised and called into question or positionality as much as the observation (Wolfe 121). There is a difference to Wolfe between the accurate and the specific (Wolfe 115). Wolfe critiques that disciplines are important that they are specific and not necessarily always accurate as in the universalising way (Wolfe 115-117). Things have context and that context must be taken into consideration. This is important as NieR:Automata also looks a lot on the context of the situation via both its posthumanist narrative style into bioethics and but also through disability studies and trans-species disciplinary actions (Wolfe 141).

Wolfe uses the life of Temple Grandin to talk about the trans-species understanding in that Grandin’s understanding of things in pictures, this hypervisuality within her autistic self which she has to then add language to is both thinking in pictures and allows prosthetics become one with her which are both ahuman or considered nonhuman traits. However her approach has “canonical expression” which includes Renaissance theory of perspective, to Freud’s parsing of the evolutionary sensorium in Civilisation and Its Discontents, through Sartre’s discussion of the Gaze, to Foucault’s panopticon,  and finally to the various modes of electronic surveillance culture.” (Wolfe 130) Wolfe further postulates that there is obviously different ways to thinking that humans have but can be excised (140). He also quotes Derrida’s concept of knowing invisibility as another kind of spatialisation (Wolfe 133).

The reason I have talked about this is that in the gameplay of NieR’s DLC our narrative focus on Plato 1728 shows many ways of understanding content. The language is not always constructed verbally. The players must level up, become fit and then fight battles in coliseums with different storylines and tangents, and rules and regulations. Plato 1728′s story origins begin with the machine spear which decodes some fragments of his story and this is later extrapolated in the DLC. Plato 1728 is sensitive and kind, communal and intelligent. He has almost all of the understanding of family and familial connections as once stated by 21O independently in the Data Freak quests that androids seemingly lack. Plato 1728 intelligence is differently abled but not all inferior to others and it is not to be taken lightly. When Plato 1728 in grief attacks in a berserk way he is only doing something normal in his condition though normative regulations deemed this to be the progression of him as a failure.

Plato 1728 is not a failure as he understands that there is lack of justice, a seduction by rules and power in the coliseums and in life in Earth in general. A feeling and understanding he also shares with Emil. Emil is attacked by 9S is losing his mind. Emil calls 9S his “cherished companion” who still must be “punished” because he has done something wrong, obviously, from stealing from him. The player as 9S can defeat Emil in which, in this first form, states that in the end power dominates so much and he says, with reluctance, that 9S can use his room whichever way he prefers. Though, Emil just accedes only because he doesn’t understand what purpose 9S has to do this to him. In a similar way, Plato 1728 does not understand why his companion easily disposed of him instead of coming to his aid.

NieR: Automata uses a very embedded narrative. It uses a verbal embedding, which is a narrative that is horizontal and epistemic (Clarke 100) meaning it uses people in the same timeline such as Emil and 9S battling out within the same time period and context to say some of its story. Then it also has a modal embedding, which is ontological and vertical. That as Clarke expertly puts:

“here the same or different narrators are transported to and thus reframed within different storyworlds — for instance modal borders are crossed in the transit “through the looking glass” from waking to dream worlds, from the present to the past or future, or from physical space to cyberspace.”

(Clarke 100)

When we play as 9S or 2B or A2 we experience the story differently. Swords and hacking tell the story differently. Then there is Route C and D than changes a lot of the narrative setting and climate. The narratives are something, as Clarke puts it, stretching and meets at different viewpoints and that it what makes narratives embedded and autopoietic. They are framed to form something that has integrity but is also perpetuated amongst different disciplines. The modal embedding also goes to mathematics modular group, with the j variant, the function of complex numbers which satisfies a growth condition in the upper plane of a graph and shows the connection between monster group and modular group. 1728 is a number that is the cube of 12 and also part of the j variant. The monster group, or Friendly Giant, being the largest sporadic group in mathematics. The name is embedded into the narrative of NieR Automata thus disciplines evolving, looking at the observer and the observation, keeping the integrity but also going beyond.

Additionally, many side quests and even the birth of Adam and Eve is a fusion between modal and verbal embedded storytelling. We can see this in both 2B and 9S routes where picture books also tell the story of machines getting consciousness and an identity. Also, we see machines having sex or attempting to in the chasm. It is as if they don’t wish anything to be ex nihilo but to have origin, purpose and an evolution in connectivity. 9S’s trauma is also reflected in quests done for Resistance members when they lose their loved ones. Though 9S’s actions are more severe and a disruption to not only his life but others.

Going back to Temple Grandin, 9S is someone who espouses humanism and transhumanism a lot. Even when he hears machine talk he keeps on repeating to 2B they meant nothing. He even says that after he is traumatised and going insane. In the Forest, Resource Unit he hears the machine begging him for an explanation to the violence and asking him to just kill them but he almost takes sadomasochistic satisfaction in torturing them and being in denial. To him, only androids can have life. As Wolfe also states that the sciences Cartesian duality of consciousness and cognition is pretty ingrained (Wolfe 116) and 9S is a proof of that. He has selective empathy and he cannot see anyone not abdroid-like to be human. Pascal is an exception because 2B and he had visited him and 9S is just in denial as well to consider Pascal completely living even as there is something disturbing is seeing his memory being wiped.

9S in Route A ending is accepting of his data being embedded in machines, in a way Plato 1728 was alright in loving a doll. Yet in Route C/D 9S is disgusted to know that their black box does contain the machines’ cores as well. He is angered to know that within him is embedded, in the flesh so to speak, the narrative of machines. This is why it was ironic when sometime ago he told to Pascal that he didn’t have a heart seeing their autopoietic structures are similar in detail.

Similarly, Adam and Eve killed the aliens feeling they were too “plant-like.” This alone becomes at first their justification. They so are obsessed in bettering themselves in some mythical ideal way that they wish to even dissect humans to achieve this goal. It is noteworthy, that 9S is selectively horrified by this yet he too decides to dissect machines or remnants of YoRHa later on. N2, the machine in the tower, programmed to fight the enemy, felt they must keep the androids alive and manipulated the coding of machine s which help make machines like Adam and Eve and Pascal. Though, they didn’t really know if such machinations would bring forth what it did thus they are killed by their own transhumanist consciousness in a way.

Empathy is not relinquished by A2 or 2B. Like Plato 1728 who signifies that invisibility, as in his own thoughts and emotions and different abledness, is a form of spatialisation, we can see that in these individuals as well. A2 opens up to Pascal and shows him kindness and empathy. She starts treating him as an equal and is heartbroken to erase his memories. When she fights Emils and tries to help Emil she actually calls him “kid” and wishes to protect him. 2B hearing machines feels terrible about injuring and killing them. That is why Route A ending was also a trans-species ending where 2B understands and accepts the machines’ souls and consciousness. It takes almost death for 9S to do this in Route C/D and he also falls like an angel from heaven. A hero who becomes a brutal villain due to trauma, idealism and grief. A2 already accepts this as in a way her ending shows her need to reunite with her old comrades, Pascal and the village’s lost children.

The True Ending, reaches out and embeds both the old beginnings and a prospect of evolution. This is semiotically and semantically shown with the Pods but also the different endings that were possible showing that the future, open but still with some integrity and organisation, is not set in stone but growing and evolving. Plato 1728 also sends the player a mail thanking them for reading about his life and looking at it. This brings back the posthumanist term of the observer being observed and visa versa.

In conclusion, The transhumanist and posthumanist conjugate with trans-species elements and disability studies in NieR:Automata. This is done expertly through various intermeshed narratives. The game attempts to make players embed both storytelling and the codex for change within them. Thus it generates new knowledges and a sense of hope even when the story and game ends. It is interesting to play a game as such that takes into context and spatialization/specialisation that individuals do not need to look human and androids can very well be more than standard AI and machines can evolve into their own beings.

Sources:

Clarke, Bruce, Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008).

Wolfe, Cary What is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001)

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Of Opinions

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Description of Of Opinions:

A millennial going through a quarter-life crisis? What could be more annoying?

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Past your quarter-life, it is stupid to try to be young and idiotic to try to be old. You do not have the energy for the former, and you do not have the money for the latter.

And this:

They call it battling depression as it it were a one-off event, lasting only a few days. But, to me, it feels like warring depression, going on relentlessly with no sign of an end, both parties suffering without one winning over…

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