This book sample—apart from the abstract, disclaimer and table of contents—contains a rough-cut, older version of the manifesto for my upcoming book, Sex Positivity versus Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism: Liberating Sex Work under Capitalism through Iconoclastic Art. Since writing it, I've divided the book into four volumes, of which the manifesto is only one half of Volume One (the other half being dedicated to trauma writing and artwork). The other volumes are Volume Zero (the thesis), Volume Two (the Humanities primer) and Volume Three (the praxis volume). I'm releasing the volumes in numerical order and Volume Zero is currently live on my website; Volume One will need to be updated in its entirety before I release it, and all of the proofreading I have done so far hasn't been applied here.
To that, the thesis volume for my book is officially live! Go to my website's 1-page promo and pick up a copy for free (it's non-profit)! While you're there, you can also learn about the other three volumes, project history and logo design. The rest of the volumes are planned to release between the remainder of 2023 and all of 2024. In the meantime, give Volume Zero a look! It is easily the hardest thing I've ever written, and I'm very excited to share it with you all; if you like it, please share it with your friends and let me know what you think!
Sex Positivity examines the various differences between sex positivity and sex coercion in sexualized media. Specifically, its "Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism" combines anarcho-Communism, Marxist ideas and 4th wave feminism with the sharpness of Gothic academic theory, the immediacy of online political discourse, as well as postcolonial, posthuman and queer theory, ludology, sex education, antifascist (thus antiwar/anticapitalist) sentiment, poetry and a variety of xenophilic sex worker illustrations/exchanges to holistically and dialectically-materially examine and combat xenophobic mental enslavement during the Internet Age—specifically how neoliberal state-corporate proponents, TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical [Fascist] Feminists) and cryptofascists use canonical imagery created from coerced sex work to affect imagination as a socio-material process; i.e, using it to generate cryptonymic, hauntological, socio-material arrangements that
- continuously exploit sex workers through xenophobia under late-stage Capitalism.
- canonically enshrine their abuse in hauntological crypts that "incarcerate," "lobotomize," "infantilize" and "incriminate" the public imagination; i.e., Mark Fischer's Capitalist Realism, or myopic inability to imagine a world beyond Capitalism even when Capitalism is in decay (whose maxim regarding Capitalist Realism reads: "It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of Capitalism"; source: Capitalist Realism, 2009).
- simultaneously condemn sex-positive artists who seek to liberate sex workers through their own iconoclastic, xenophilic praxis; i.e., camping the canon to escape its brutal historical materialism.
Sex Positivity illustrates, similar to how oscillation is a key component of the Gothic, Gothic Communism is the oscillation between Capitalism and anarcho-Communism as dialectical-material forces felt in Gothic language by real people: oppositional praxis, or the practical application of theory in dialectical-material opposition. To combat the nation-state as the ultimate foe, its chief aim is to be campier (thus sexier and funnier) than Marx; i.e., camping his ghost to develop a holistically intuitive anarcho-Communism begot through widespread emotional and Gothic intelligence that recultivates the Superstructure and reclaims the Base.
"If it was not good, it was true; if it was not artistic, it was sincere; if it was in bad taste, it was on the side of life."
—Henry Miller, on criticism and the Supreme-Court-level lawsuit he received for writing The Tropic of Cancer (1934)
[As my final book will be uncensored, this blogpost features a slightly different version of the disclaimer than the one shown here. —Perse, 2/19/2023]
Regarding This Book Sample's Artistic/Pornographic Nudity and Sexual Content: This writing sample is taken from my book, Sex Positivity, which thoroughly discusses sexuality in popular media, including fetishes, kinks, BDSM, Gothic material, and general sex work; the illustrations have been carefully curated to illustrate my arguments. Because Sex Positivity considers pornography to be art, it examines the many ways that sex-positive art makes iconoclastic statements against the state and its propaganda; this includes visual examples of sex-positive/sex-coercive artistic nudity borrowed from publicly available sources to make its educational/critical arguments. While explicitly criminal sexual acts, taboos and obscenities are discussed herein, no explicit illustrations thereof are shown, nor anything criminal: i.e., no snuff porn, child porn or revenge porn. However, it does examine things generally thought of as porn that are unironically violent.
Visual examples of artistic nudity have been borrowed from publicly available sources, but their uncensored nudity on this blogpost has been limited to: flaccid penises; female nipples, buttocks, labia (not spread by the fingers) and pubic hair (the full uncensored materials will be provided in my book's final, published draft, however). Likewise, while explicit sexual acts, taboos and obscenities are discussed herein, this book sample contains no illustrations thereof. Examples of prurient artwork and sex work will either be clothed or otherwise presented in ways that avoid showing obscene content: "ultimate sexual acts [that showcase visible penetration of an obvious female human vagina by an obvious human male penis], normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals, or sado-masochistic sexual abuse" (source).
The point of this book isn't to be obscene for its own sake, but to educate the broader public (including teenagers*) about sex-positive artwork and labor historically treated as obscene by the state. For the material herein to be legally considered obscene it would have to simultaneously qualify in three distinct ways (aka the "Miller" test):
- appeal to prurient interests (i.e., an erotic, lascivious, abnormal, unhealthy, degrading, shameful, or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion)
- attempt to depict or describe sexual conduct in a patently offensive way (i.e., ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals, or sado-masochistic sexual abuse)
- lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value
Taken as a whole, this book discusses debatably prurient material in an academic manner, depicting and describing sexual conduct in a non-offensive way for the express purpose of education vis-à-vis literary-artistic-political enrichment.
*While this book was written for adults—the full, uncensored PDF being provided to them through my age-gated website—I don't think it or this blog sample should be denied from curious teenagers through a supervising adult. The primarily reason I say this (apart from the trauma writing sections, which are suitably intense and grave) is that the academic material can only be simplified so far and teenagers probably won't understand it entirely (which is fine; plenty of books are like that—take years to understand more completely). As for sexually-developing readers younger than 16 (ages 10-15), I honestly think there are far more accessible books that tackle the same basic subject matter more quickly at their reading level. All in all, this book sample examines erotic art and sex positivity as an alternative to the sex education currently taught (or deliberately not taught) in curricular spheres. It does so in hopes of improving upon canonical tutelage through artistic, dialectical-material analysis.
Fair Use: This book is non-profit, and its artwork is meant for education, transformation and critique. For those reasons, the borrowed materials contained herein fall under Fair Use. All sources come from popular media: movies, fantasy artist portfolios, cosplayer shoots, candid photographs, and sex worker catalogs intended for public viewing. Private material has only been used with a collaborating artist's permission (for this book—e.g., Blxxd Bunny's OF material or custom shoots; or as featured in a review of their sex work on my website with their consent already given from having done past work together—e.g., Miss Misery).
Concerning the Exhibit Numbers and Parenthetical Dates: I originally wrote this book as one text, not three volumes. Normally I provide a date per primary text once per text—e.g., "Alien (1979)"—but following this rule would have to redate various texts in Volumes Two and Three. I have opted out of doing this. Likewise, the exhibit numbers are sequential for the entire book, not per volume; references to a given exhibit code [exhibit 11b2 or 87a] will often refer to exhibits not present in the current volume. I have not addressed this in the first addition of my book, but might assemble a future annotated list in a second edition down the road.
Concerning (the PDF's) Exhibit Image Quality: The final book will contain over 650 different images, which—combined with the fact that Microsoft Word appears to compress images twice (first, in-document images and second, when converting to PDFs) along with the additional hassle that is WordPress' limitations on accepting uploaded PDFs (which requires me to compress the PDF again)—has resulted in sub-par image quality for the exhibit images themselves. To compensate, all of the hyperlinks link to the original sources where the source images can be found. Sometimes, it links to the individual images, other times to the entire collage, and I try to have updated, working links; however, the ephemeral, aliased nature of sex work means that branded images do not always stay online, so some links (especially those to Twitter/X accounts) won't always lead to a source if the original post is removed.
Concerning Aliases: Sex workers survive through the use of online aliases and the discussion of their trauma requires a degree of anonymity to protect victims from their actual/potential abusers. This book also contains trauma/sexual anecdotes from my own life; it discusses my friends, including sex workers and the alter-egos/secret identities they adopt to survive "in the wild." Keeping with that, all of the names in this book are code names (except for mine, my late Uncle Dave's and his ex-wife Erica's—who are only mentioned briefly by their first names). Models/artists desiring a further degree of anonymity (having since quit the business, for example) have since been given a codename other than their former branded identity sans hyperlinks (e.g., Jericho).
Extended, Book-Wide Trigger Warning: This entire book thoroughly discusses homophobia, transphobia, enbyphobia, sexism, racism, race-/LGBTQ-related hate crimes/murder and domestic abuse; child abuse, spousal abuse, animal abuse, misogyny and sexual abuse towards all of these groups; power abuse, rape (date, marital, prison, etc), discrimination, war crimes, genocide, religious/secular indoctrination, manmade ecological disasters, and fascism.
The book has been in-the-making since July 2022, but has experienced several growth spurts in the passing months that have greatly increased its scope and size. These changes have since required me to split the book into four volumes; apart from their chapters, each volume will contain the same abstract, disclaimer, about-the-logo and table of contents for its chapters and subchapters (the entire table of contents will be provided as a separate companion PDF on my website), as well as an acknowledgements section thanking everyone personally or tangentially involved in this book's creation.
This blogpost contains about 70% of Volume One. The glossary has been reposted on my website as a companion PDF; the sample essay will be included in Volume One when it releases on Halloween.
Volume One contains my original preface, manifesto, synthesis roadmap and sample essay.
- The preface explains how Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communist differs from older Gothic and Marxist academia/praxis that I wish to modify and borrow from (Marxist-Leninism, postmodernism, psychoanalysis) in order to proceed beyond the myopia of Capitalist Realism using a unique synthesis of Gothic theories, Marxist concepts, and various other factors presented with commonplace language.
- The manifesto gives our mission statement, as well as a variety of signposts and core ideas I've coined/retooled from older thinkers: the Six Gothic-Marxist goals of Gothic Communism (the Six Rs), Four Gothic academic theories (the Four Gs); it also covers the topics of the Gothic mode we'll cover through the book—its monsters, lairs/parallel space, Hermeneutic Gothic-Communist Quadfecta, and phobias—as well as the Six Doubles of Creative/Oppositional Praxis and their synthetic oppositional groupings.
- The sample essay [not included in this sample] uses every key idea in my book to analyze a primary text, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), at full speed.
- The synthesis roadmap [not included in this sample] covers how to use the synthetic oppositional groupings to synthesize our general terms and academic ideas useful, processing them into idiosyncratic, emotionally and Gothically intelligent social-sexual habits within our own lives.
I am the table! —James Hetfield; "The View," on Metallica's Lulu (2011)
—Volume One: Gothic (Anarcho) Communism—
Preface: Anarcho-Communism and Cultivating Emotional Intelligence through a Sex-Positive Gothic Mode
"It's Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This!"—A Gothic Communist's Manifesto
- The Gist
- The Nation-State: Remediating Modern-day Rome and the Bourgeois Trifectas
- An Uphill Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part one: The State's Monopoly on Violence
- An Uphill Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part two: Challenging the State's Manufactured Consent and Stupidity
- Monster Modes, Totalitarianism and Opposing Forces
- Manifesto Postscript: "Healing from Rape"—Addressing "Corruption," DARVO and Police Abuse with the Pedagogy of the Oppressed
About the Author
"You know nothing, Jon Snow."
—Ygritte, A Storm of Swords (2000)
The author's foreword discussed Sex Positivity at large; this preface extrapolates on the anarcho-Communist devices present within its Gothic-Communist approach. To start with, this strongly dislikes pure poststructuralist/psychoanalytical models (though it employs many of their ideas in Marxist ways); not only do these models tend to be dated, vaguely abstracting and sexist, but they are far more common in Gothic academia than I would like (especially in the 1970s and '80s, when second wave feminism and post-Freudian analysis were all the rage). Instead, I wrote Sex Positivity to marry Gothic/queer theory with Marxist, dialectical-material praxis, a process I have decided to call Gothic (Gay-Anarcho) Communism. While both sides will be thoroughly explained in the manifesto, let's quickly run down this book's Communist and Gothic aims to summarize what Gothic Communism is according to me and why.
The Communist aims of this book are anarcho-Communist in scope—a combination of Communism and anarchism (there are other combinations, but these are either excluded [anarcho-Capitalism] or fall under anarcho-Communism in my opinion; e.g., queer/feminist Communism). So, not only does Sex Positivity seek to abolish private property in pursuit of something beyond Capitalism; its chief desire is to end the worker exploitations that reliably happen through privatization—occurring through the nation-state as the chief monopolizer of violence in ways that neoliberal corporations spearhead as their partners-in-crime (neoliberalism being a return to the "freeing" of the market, consolidating wealth in the pockets of the bourgeoisie through state-corporate abuses of power and personal responsibility rhetoric disseminated by centrist media; neoliberals also disguise, aid and abet fascism, a concept we'll explore much more thoroughly in Volume Three).
Everything I propose operates in service of deprivatization and dismantling the nation-state, corporations included. The vertical consolidation of materials and power in state-corporate echelons is horribly alienating and destructive—must be replaced by anarcho-syndicalist communes as horizontal arrangements thereof. It's productive, constructive and creatively sex-positive, utilizing the democratization of labor as something found and fostered among class-conscious workers, not the state (which historically privatizes labor for the elite in fundamentally undemocratic ways, including Marxist-Leninism's various missteps; i.e., a "kettling" of state powers by capitalist forces into states of paranoia and ultimately the settling of old scores).
(source: Julia Kenny's "Stalin's Cult of Personality: Its Origin and Progression," 2015)
Double standards aside, both intellectuals shamelessly exploited the unequal power structures of academia, but enjoyed a constant postmortem, reverential emblematizing as the intellectuals with the final say on feminist matters. Equally gross, in hindsight, is Michel Foucault's interview with Edmund White, whereupon he delivers a self-confessed and seemingly innocent admission to chasing of cute boys his entire academic career (echoing Cooper's twink-in-peril, but in real life):
"I wasn't always smart; I was actually very stupid in school [T]here was a boy who was very attractive who was even stupider than I was. And in order to ingratiate myself with this boy who was very beautiful, I began to do his homework for him – and that's how I became smart, I had to do all this work to just keep ahead of him a little bit, in order to help him. In a sense, all the rest of my life I've been trying to do intellectual things that would attract beautiful boys" (source).
all seemingly innocent until you learn about his predatory sex tourism (Bad Empanada 2, 2022), desire to abolish age of consent laws in France (The Living Philosophy's "Why French Postmodernists were Pro-Paedophilia in the 1970s," 2021), and what James Miller in The Passion of Michel Foucault (1993) called an addiction to self-destruction and sadomasochist sex (the coercive sort). Likewise, Elliot Swain in 2021 remarks in utter frustration how Foucault tended to avoid Marxist language altogether. Foucault wasn't just accommodated, you see; he was enabled and desired intellectual fame similar to what Sartre achieved before him. It's gross, queer-normative, TERF levels of nasty and needs to be abolished. Good play and sex-positive BDSM is all entirely possible (and something we'll explore in Volume Three, Chapter Two and Three). However, creepy Gay Uncle Fester ain't it.
Rather, in a reconstructed, post-scarcity world, there is no systemic war and rape. To this, Gothic Communism is also not a regression back into the freed market like Gorbachev did to the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s, but instead a collective push towards universal degrowth (that means no "as good as it gets" moderates, too). Instead, this is to be an entirely different mode of undertaking development under Capitalism towards anarcho-Communism, but the basic ideas are still the same—re: Socialism's "From each according to [their] ability, to each according to [their] work" to Communism's "to each according to [their] need." Anarcho-Communism simply means class solidarity and collective action performed directly by informed, intelligent workers of various sorts, aided by bourgeois and petit-bourgeois (middle class) class allies—not by establishment politicians and state-corporate allies, whose politics/praxis are bourgeois in nature; they serve the state, not workers.
For us and Gothic Communism, worker safety is sacred and supersedes any icon who came before and iconoclasts absolutely shouldn't hesitate to tear down their harmful reputations. To give some examples:
- Milton was patriarchal (Lapham's Quarterly's "Misspent Youth")
- Tolkien was racist (Anderson Rearick's "Why Is the Only Good Orc a Dead Orc," 2004).
- Marx wasn't overtly a Gothicist (certainly not by current, iconoclastic standards, anyways; he loved ghosts, but these had to be "unpacked" by people like Derrida, Castricano and other Gothic theorists whose work emerged nearly a century after Marx' death).
- Oscar Wilde was anti-Semitic (Christopher Nassar's "The Problem of the Jewish Manager in The Picture of Dorian Gray," 2005).
- Simone Beauvoir was not only a rapist, but cis-centric ("woman is other").
- Pablo Picasso was a rapist and misogynist (Marta's "The Women of Picasso," 2023), as was Roman Polanski (Dreading's "The Case of Roman Polanski," 2022)
- Lovecraft was mega-racist: "China Miéville says, 'There is nothing epiphenomenal about racism in Lovecraft.' Put differently, Lovecraft's race thinking cannot be separated from his body of work" (Brown University's "The Racial Imaginaries of H. P. Lovecraft").
- George Orwell was anti-Communist (despite knowing virtually knowing about Russia and the USSR) and a fascist apologist (Hakim, 2023).
- Renowned geneticist Richard Dawkins is a eugenics (Gaia Vince's "Eugenics Would Not Work in Humans," 2020), rape apologist (Melissia McEwan's "Dawkins Defends Himself with More Rape Apologia," 2013) and Islamophobe, extending his anti-intellectual, bought-and-paid for bigotry to trans people (Essence of Thought's "Richard Dawkins Promotes Creationism in Anti-Trans Crusade," 2023).
- Bill Gates is a soulless vampire who—along with those who support his utterly draconian privatization of the computer market and gutting of public education, as well as his bogus, parasitic and thoroughly disingenuous "philanthropy" (source: Another Slice's "Bill Gates: King Of Neoliberalism," 2020)—has ties to child sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein (Behind the Bastards' "Part One: The Ballad of Bill Gates," 2023). Billionaires not only personify the elite; they're scourge on the planet and should not exist—i.e., they're not useful, they're lying parasites begot from the second Gilded Age courtesy of neoliberal hegemony and systemic lies, surveillance, privatization, and genocide dressed up as the banality of evil. Fuck the lot of 'em.
- Noam Chomsky had ties to then-outed pedophile and sex trafficker, Jeffery Epstein ("Epstein's Private Calendar Reveals Prominent Names," 2023).
We not only have to be better than the West; we have to be better than all these persons and avoid what my friend Sandy Norton lovingly calls the "Imperialism of Theory" (coined when she was sparring with a fellow academic about William Makepeace Thackeray's 1848 novel, Vanity Fair):
'At its best, theory offers us models that encourage speculative thinking. Many critics assume, however, that the application of theoretical discourses to literature necessarily entails a particular, and limited, set of interpretive practices: reference to a theorist's ideas, for instance, may too easily be taken to mean that a critic subscribes to all the tenets of that theorist's position as well as to those of the better-known practitioners of the theory. This constraining movement unnecessarily forecloses speculative thought and seeks, in a way that mirrors imperialist discourses, to conserve the authority and power of those who have accumulated intellectual and academic capital through association with a theory.
This sort of theoretical imperialism is also methodological: the repeated application of a theory in a particular way quickly comes to constitute an authority which dictates that it should only be applied in that way. Although he may not do so intentionally, Perkin employs theory as a constraining force when he takes me to task for using Foucault's work but failing to adopt a strictly New Historicist methodology: "Foucault leads one to New Historicism, which requires that one read a text as part of a world of discourses, whereas Norton's article is really a close reading of some strands of a single text" (165; my emphasis). The semantic slippage in this sentence is telling, I think. It is, on an overt level, "New Historicism" or presumably its practitioners that "require" the use of this method. But because "Foucault leads one to New Historicism," the implication of the sentence is that Foucauldian theory itself "require[s]" this method. This I would deny. Although his work provides a model for some of the methods of New Historicism, neither Foucault nor any New Historicist would claim that his work which is used across a broad range of disciplines may only be appropriately applied using those methods.
I do not believe that I am required to demonstrate "a need to invoke Foucault" (and the diction here is interesting precisely why does Perkin use the word "invoke"?). Like Marx or Freud, Foucault is himself an example of what he calls in the essay, "What Is an Author?," "founders of discursivity," figures who have "established an endless possibility of discourse" (154). "To expand a type of discursivity," he proposes, is precisely "to open it up to a certain number of possible applications" (156). Rather than "needing to invoke" Foucault, I choose to apply Foucault because of the speculative richness such application offers' (source: "The Imperialism of Theory: A Response to J. Russell Perkin," 1994)
Simply put, we need to be choosy in ways that enrich our arguments, not simply dot them with the fancy patriarchal ornaments of accommodated intellectuals. Meanwhile, the combined, "sacred" memory of powerful men, women and token minorities needs to be expunged* and criticized, preserving the exhibits of what was while utilizing what is useful towards development towards a better world than has ever existed; i.e., to be indebted, but not enslaved towards these borrowed concepts' flexible application well beyond their original, intended prescriptions. Time is also of the essence; we need to critique power dialectically-materially yesterday and now in Gothic language that the vast majority of workers actively recognize and consume voraciously—monsters, but also sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, etc. Never trust a skinny chef, my dudes; also, never trust a rapist chef (as we'll explore during the roadmap, rape is more than physical/sexual violence; it's the flagrant abuse of power that leads to worker exploitation on physical, sexual and emotional levels over time: the mind as something to rape according to positions within Capitalism).
*When I tried doing this with Lovecraft ("Method in His Madness: Lovecraft, the Rock and Roll Iconoclast and Buoyant Lead Balloon," 2017), renowned Lovecraft scholar T.S. Joshi had a fit/refused to publish my work in his annual Lovecraft journal. Joshi seemed to dislike the mere suggestion that Lovecraft wasn't somehow perfect as is—conveniently equipped to do what he did (according to Joshi) for his target audience, and that we pesky kids of today are just ignorant of his sublime genius. Puh-lease! If Lovecraft was perfect, you wouldn't have New Weird/Next Weird authors like Thomas Ligotti, Jeff Vandermeer and China Miéville; producers like Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions and Lovecraft Country (2020); or developers like Red Hook Studios chewing Lovecraft up and routinely spitting out his racist, useless bones. Take what's useful and leave the rest (without forgetting it).
Our Gothic-Communist emphasis, then, is the class solidarity and collective action of Gothicized sex work in particular, with its monstrous artistic output as proletarian praxis operating in internalized, class-conscious, xenophilic opposition to bourgeois praxis and state propaganda's heteronormative canon—i.e., to "rewire" a fundamentally bourgeois Superstructure through synthesized transmutation of said canon, affecting the Base (redistribution) as time goes on. The Base and Superstructure are taken from Marx's own work. However, the Superstructure interests us, because—as stated during the glossary—it normally "grows out of the Base and reflects the ruling class' interests. As such, the Superstructure justifies how the Base operates and defends the power of the elite." As sex-positive workers, we obviously want to change that by transforming the state, attacking its sex-coercive canon and xenophobia directly through our own sex-positive, iconoclastic poiesis—to liberate ourselves through a proletarian Gothic imagination that is anarcho-Communist, not Marxist-Leninist. Though proletarian, Sex Positivity comes out of an abject past fraught with compromise, the "state Socialism" of Marxist-Leninism becoming increasingly nominal (and abusive) under Capitalism; obviously we want to avoid that as much as we can while developing Communism outside of establishment politics.
We'll revisit executing proletarian praxis more completely in Volume Three (first adumbrating it in Volume Two). For Volume One, just understand that that my manifesto tenets, Gothic academic theories, mode of expression and oppositional praxis model (explained in that order) are all designed to function through Gothic-Communist iconoclasts re-cultivating a bourgeois Superstructure, which is what synthesis is: thesis vs antithesis, but also canon vs iconoclasm—i.e., iconoclastic poiesis as a dark poetics/pedagogy of the oppressed intended to make workers more emotionally/Gothically intelligent, sex-positive and capable in terms of recognizing, negotiating and instructing good play vs bad play* during their own lives. This includes their own creative output, which helps prevent future abuses by changing the material conditions that lead to power imbalances to begin with; i.e., by telling beautiful lies that speak truth to power in "Satanic**" ways, but also active and unified against the state-corporate alliances/proponents (and monstrous, fetishized media, often with pornographic qualities) abusing all workers. However, oppositional praxis during development reliably leads to liminal conflict and transition—especially in Gothic stories when oscillation is expected. Part of the cliché is how a monster or parallel space's praxial role in Gothic fiction becomes ontologically ambiguous during oppositional praxis. Class allies/traitors and bourgeois/proletarian monsters, witches, zombies, etc—as Gothic-Communists, we'll have to learn to tell 'em all apart, from moment to living moment. A common introduction to doing so is through historical-materialism—i.e., the dialectical-material study of monsters across the Gothic mode over space and time.
*As mentioned during the glossary and thesis volume, terms like rape culture, xenophobic, "prison sex," and bad play synonymize according to which "parent dichotomy" they belong, thus can be used somewhat interchangeably when explaining oppositional praxis; I won't always try to distinguish them, hoping their shared connection can be intuitively understood relative to canon or iconoclasm. "Xenophilic," for example, is iconoclastic—a form of gender parody that occurs during good play that counteracts gender trouble in stereotypically Gothic situations: the liminal expression of monster-fucking from which liminal perspectives process power and resistance, but also where ignorance (material advantage/privilege) and experience (trauma/paucity) are expressed within rememory as a spectre of Marx—i.e., an imperfect yet heavily codified linguo-material proposition that challenges the spectre of the status quo as haunted by the Numinous, pre-fascist might of systemic brutality (which continues unabated in the present). As we shall see in Volume Two for example, both white, cis-het women (Ann Radcliffe) and gay men (Matthew Lewis) can write about monsters and sexual abuse, but their view of the familiar and foreign and what they identify with and reject (xenophilia and xenophobia) will ultimately differ despite sharing highly similar-appearing textual and thematic devices; e.g., the shared aesthetics of damsels, detectives and demons. Furthermore, as time has gone on, further deviation towards Communism is required by making monsters class conscious, but also effective disguises that—rather than completely closet us—blur the line between victim and dissident, rebel and entertainer to protect us while we teach emotional and Gothic intelligence to workers of all ages.
**Something to keep in mind (and which we'll return to in Volume Two when we discuss the Promethean Quest) is that the Satanic rebel speaks truth to power by telling beautiful lies that resist state control; re: to be "of the devil's party" like Milton was (according to William Blake) but consciously so (exhibit 1a1a1g); i.e., conducting what the elite would consider thought crimes through dark poetics that are often more interesting [and fun/gender parodic] than blindly submitting to pre-existing authorities. For example, Gothic "archaeologies"/elaborate strategies of misdirection teach workers how to self-fashion and self-determine through subversive/dissident identities that, far from being controlled opposition, furtively educate audiences on how to question authority whilst forming out of oppressive, gender-troubled struggles against them.
Apart from Volume One, whose full manifesto responds to my book's central thesis on sex-positive, social-sexual activism, Volume Two acts a kind of "prelude" to Volume Three, providing a "Humanities primer" that adjusts you to a more open-minded way of thinking useful to our thesis statement. It does so through numerous "monster art" exhibits that show how to think openly during oppositional praxis, using specific terms, theories, and formatting devices which apply to various topics introduced later in the book when proletarian praxis is articulated chapter-by-chapter (and art exhibits are somewhat less frequent, at least in the first edition). However, as any artistic exhibit is idiosyncratic, this book is indulgently "me" to make that point abundantly clear. This includes iconoclastic porn as something that I've often explored and cultivated in my own body of work—with me actually preferring to cultivate erotic, sex-positive art displays during my own creations. As I write in "My Art Website is Now Live" (2020):
'In my work, I don't like to treat sex separate from everyday life. Instead, I emphasize sexuality and intimacy as being part of the same experience. Not only do you have the intense, raw close-ups during sex one might encounter in a VHS porno; there's also the tender, little details: the smiles, excitement, and other factors that make up everyday sex for people in relationships. I try to communicate all of this in a fantasy or sci-fi setting populated by my favorite videogame characters. It might be a regression of the quotidian into the Romantic, but being a Gothicist I'm not against liminal forms of expression. My work is erotic, forming a balance of the raunchy and tender inside a videogame milieu. These characters aren't fighting dragons; they're having sex, but there's so many different ways this can go about, and I have my own special blend I like to try and capture in my art' (source).
In other words, my creations invite you imagine ordinary behaviors from extraordinary people—e.g., exhibit 93: Imagine, as I would, that Link and Nabooru save Hyrule, then talk about laundry and what's for dinner while having sex in a half-real, incredibly playful scenario. The playfulness is the context, subverting what's expected in favor of delineating away from traditional heroic activities (such as genocide).
Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with the Gothic, ludic/queer theory and/or Marxist thought (and the terms in the companion glossary), chances are the rest of this book will be incredibly alien and confusing to you; all are either lost and forgotten concepts in relation to Capitalism, reduced by Capitalism to pulpy canon this book does nothing but dissect, or swim around in the grey areas of (which Capitalism and its heteronormative colonial binary discourage). For first-time readers, then, this really book is meant to be read in order. Start with the thesis statement (and companion sections/glossary) and familiarizing yourself with the full manifesto's iconoclastic ideas, visual aids and various guides, signposts and roadmaps (and the camp map from the thesis statement). Then, once you comprehensively understand what Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism is, move onto Volume Two, which explores the historical development of the Gothic imagination and its past—of flawed, conflicting poetic expression as something to learn from moving forward. From there, Volume Three outlines the goals and objectives of Gothic Communism as a means of attacking Capitalism and its ideologies directly through solidarized worker poiesis. The terms contained inside the manifesto are central to the entire book's thesis, so I have defined them inside it instead of the previous, separate companion glossary of generalized terms.
The goal of Volume One is to outline a general teaching method that explains complex things in commonplace ways, which Volume Two expands on through the poetic history of monsters as a dehumanizing tool that must be reclaimed. Everything tied to proletarian praxis being re-summarized after the introduction in Volume Three: in the Summation section before Chapter One of that volume. You will need what this manifesto contains when you read the roadmap; you will need what both contain when you read the primer from Volume Two; and you will need the introduction, summation and Chapter One from Volume Three when you Chapters Two through Five of that volume, etc. Last but not least, familiarize yourself with my "artistic exhibit style." First shown in exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c during the foreword, it is utilized throughout entire the book in nearly 200 similar exhibits covering a broad range of artistic subjects (and monsters).
This is our revolution's manifesto. It's a bit more academically formalized than the rest of the book. It also contains the individual lists of interrelated things you will need before you navigate this book and encounter all of them in various forms. Learn them well, but take your time. Rome wasn't transformatively Sodomized in a day.
—Your "Commie Mommy," Persephone
P.S., The manifesto is divided into several different sections. "The Gist" outlines the entire manifesto; "The Nation-State" and "An Uphill Battle" part one and part two outline the many pressures and forces existing during the struggle to synthesize praxis and unify workers; "Monster Modes, Totalitarianism and Opposing Forces" goes over oppositional praxis in depth (and outlines menticide, which the roadmap explores more thoroughly); and the manifesto post-script addresses police "corruption," DARVO and general abuse with the pedagogy of the oppressed as a means of preventing trauma, but also healing from it by listening to those already traumatized on a daily basis: sex workers/workers sexualized by capital.
"But Louis B. Meyer wouldn't be Goebbels' proper opposite number. I believe Goebbels sees himself as David O. Selznick."
First and foremost, as Gothic Communists, our mission is to protect you!—to expose Capitalism's perfidious design as a structure, thereby protecting sex workers from Capitalism by teaching them to liberate themselves through iconoclastic art!
Capitalism conceals its own Promethean (self-destructive) nature through canon. To critique Capitalism as Promethean, I want to respond to its sexual abuses against workers in a sex-positive, Marxist way—with communal emotional intelligence leveled at canon as a "bad"/pro-bourgeois teaching device (while treating emotional/Gothic intelligence and sex positivity as synonymous throughout this book). This requires our manifesto tree from my thesis statement; i.e., an assortment of goals, academic theories, mode of expression (monsters, hermeneutics, phobias) and praxial effects, whose lists I will now give in the order I have chosen (the exact order I have them in doesn't really matter. None should be neglected, as all are integral to achieving Gothic Communism):
- the Six Gothic-Marxist Goals of Gothic Communism (the Six Rs)
- the Four Gothic Academic Theories (the Four Gs)
- lairs/parallel space*
- the Hermeneutic Gothic-Communist Quadfecta* (gothic, game, queer and Marxist theory)
- the Six Doubles of Creative/Oppositional Praxis
*the Gothic mode of expression (its means and materials and methods of study)
Of the Six Doubles, these divide into two lists of three: the "Three Canonical Doubles" of Capitalism and bourgeois praxis versus the "Three Iconoclastic Doubles" of Gothic Communism of proletariat praxis (all shown in descending order):
- sex coercion vs sex positivity
- carcerality vs emancipation
- complicity vs revolution
and their various synthetic oppositional groupings
- destructive vs constructive anger
- destabilizing vs stabilizing gossip (and abuse encouragement/prevention patterns)
- "blind" vs "perceptive" pastiche (class blindness versus consciousness)
- unironic vs ironic gender trouble/parody (canon vs camp)
- bad-faith vs good-faith egregores
and canonical reactionary behaviors to camped canon
- open aggression
- reactionary indignation
I'll get to these in turn, starting with the top of the first list and steadily and working my way to the bottom of the second list across this manifesto's six sections. This means we won't cover the Six Doubles until nearly the end of the manifesto (going over the synthetic oppositional groups during the synthesis roadmap [in connection to its companion piece, the "camp map," exhibit 1a1a1i] and in Volume Three, Chapter Five). For now, just remember that sex positivity and sex coercion are the intuitive doubles that express things most often in a binarized, dialectical-material way (they're literally the title of the book); we'll get to the others soon enough and refer to all of them throughout the rest of this book.
So, now that we have our big lists, keep 'em handy and I'll walk you through them one at a time, doing my best to connect them with explanations in between.
As stated during the preface, this manifesto is more academically granular in its flavor and structure than most of the book, if only so I'm clear and comprehensive in my overall thesis. After this, though, I swear things loosen up a bit (except for the sample essay, which chucks you into the deep end head-first). For example, the word "mode of expression" tends to get used interchangeably or implied with "language" or "materials" or "monsters," etc, throughout the book. Likewise, while the word "praxis" is common but has many synonyms/adjectives (creative, oppositional, bourgeois, proletarian), I also don't see the need to exclusively call something praxis, since both volumes are about praxis and something being praxis is why I'm mentioning it to begin with. This being said, despite covering sexual expression and working with sex workers, this book isn't really structured around giving "dating advice" (though it does include many bits and personal anecdotes scattered throughout); it's a labor guide that teaches workers not to be a dicks to their friends, who they might be able to sleep with if everyone's DTF (down to fuck). However, if you wanted to apply its concepts in your own sex life, I can assure you, these are tried and true methods. Trust me, I learned from the nymphs! —Perse
Gothic Communism actually comes from dialectical behavioral therapy models introduced to me by a former friend (who I'll called Cuwu; more on them in a bit). DBT is designed specifically to prevent self-destructive behavior at a societal level; Gothic Communism as I've conceived it applies this to sex workers, preventing destructive behaviors against them from other workers who are loyal to the state. It achieves this by combining dialectical-material analysis of Gothic stories with four Gothic literary theories (the Gothic being largely concerned with sex in popular monstrous media) to achieve a Gothic hybrid of traditionally Marxist goals—all in service of furthering sex positivity (one of the doubles of oppositional praxis—we'll get to the others) through well-educated, emotionally and Gothically intelligent sex workers who can "live deliciously." No Promethean junk food for us! Only the best, but we must learn to make things taste delicious again while subsisting on canonical, plastic garbage that we dialectically-materially scrutinize.
In the thesis statement, we provided abridged definitions of these tenets, whose (quoted from our thesis)
collective idea is to make Marxism a little cooler, sexier and fun than Marx ever could through the Wisdom of the Ancients as a "living document"; i.e., to make it "succulent" by "living deliciously" as an act of repeated reflection that challenges heteronormativity's dimorphic biological essentialism and bondage of gender to sex, thus leading to a class awakening at a countercultural level through iconoclastic (sex-positive) Gothic poetics.
I now want to provide their full descriptions. The full "succulent" (re: sexier and funnier than Marx; camping his ghost through our Wisdom of the Ancients) six goals/Gothic-Marxist tenets of Gothic Communism, then, are as follows:
- Re-claim. Seize Gothic art as the means of emotional (monstrous) production, tied to cultural symbols of stigma and fear that abject workers or otherwise emotionally manipulate them to surrender the means of production—their labor, their intelligence and control—unto canonical productions that normally make workers ignorant towards the means of reclaiming these things: the ability to produce, appreciate and cultivate a pro-labor, post-scarcity Gothic imagination, including undead and demonic egregores in service of Gothic Communism (whose history we'll unpack during the primer); i.e., our own voices, dark poetics, pedagogy of the oppressed, status as splendide mendax, etc.
- Re-union/-discover/-turn. Reunite people with their alienated, alienizing bodies, language, labor, sexualities, genders, pasts and emotions in sex-positive, re-humanizing (xenophilic) ways; an active attempt to detect and marry oneself to what was lost at the emotional, Gothic, linguistic and materially intelligent level: a return of the living dead and the creation/summoning of demons. This poetic coalition should operate as a sex-positive force that speaks to Cartesian division, xenophobia and state abuse, while advancing workers towards the development of Gothic-Communism.
- Re-empower/-negotiate. Grant workers control over their own sexual labor through their emotions and, by extension things (most often language, symbols or art) that stem from, and relate to, their sexual labor as historically abjected and privatizing under Capitalism; to allow them to renegotiate their boundaries through their sexual labor as their own, including their bodies and emotions as a potent form of re-negotiation and power re-exchange amid chaotic and unequal circumstances (worker-positive BDSM and Satanic rebellion, in other words) that fight for conditional love and informed, set boundaries during social-sexual exchanges: the "good play" of conditional offers and mutually agreed-upon deals—not unconditional, coercive love compelled by pro-state abusers; i.e., "bad play" and "prison sex" within rape culture. This doesn't just apply to getting into schools like MMU (where I had to make conditional/unconditional offers set by the [money-making] university—linked arm-in-arm with financial [money-lending] institutions exiting as a part of the same student-exploiting business); it applies to our own lives as sexualized workers, synthesizing our principles with those we work/set boundaries with in relation to our labor, bodies, emotional bonds, etc. Setting boundaries is important towards protecting yourself and others during activist behaviors, which automatically pose some degree of risk under capital; don't be afraid to impose them to minimize risk of abuse, even if that means "losing" someone in the process. If they're holding that over your head, they weren't really your friend to begin with.
- Re-open/-educate. To expose the privatization of emotions and denial of sex-positive sex/gender education to individual workers, helping them reopen their minds and their eyes, thus see, understand and feel how private property makes people emotionally and Gothically stupid; re, Marx: "Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it—when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc—in short, when it is used by us."
- Re-play. Establish a new kind of game attitude and playfulness during development towards Communism, one that dismantles manufactured scarcity, consent, and conflict in favor of a post-scarcity world filled with "game" workers who can learn and respond creatively to the natural and person-made problems of language and the material world with unique solutions (including Communist videogames like Dwarf Fortress, 2006); to be willing to try negotiating for themselves; to reclaim, rediscover, relearn, but also teach lost things, make new friendly ghosts (exhibit 43c) as well as iconoclastic monsters in live and controlled settings (that express unfriendly variants that critique the status quo); to enjoy but not blindly enjoy, thus endorse cheap canonical "junk food" by re-inspecting them with a readiness to critique and revinvent; i.e., as Anita Sarkeesian explains, "It's both possible, and even necessary, to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects." The idea in doing so to understand, mid-enjoyment and critique, that development is not a zero-sum game, but as Jesper Juul puts it, re: "a half-real zone between the fiction and the rules" that allows for emergent, at times transgressive forms of good play as a transformative device (source). To borrow and mutate two more ludic terms, then, the "ludic contract" is whatever the player negotiates for themselves inside the natural-material world as a half-real, "magic circle" space where the game takes place during Gothic, liminal ways; i.e., articulating their natural rights in linguo-material ways between reality and fabrication that go beyond games as commodities but are nevertheless informed by them as something to rewrite through play: a reached agreement whose luck/odds are defined not through canon, but iconoclastic poiesis that can be expanded far beyond the restrictive, colonial binary and heteronormative ruleset of the elite's intended exploitation of workers.
- Re-produce/-lease. To disseminate these tenets through worker-made sex-positive lessons that we leave behind; i.e., egregores, "archaeologies" and other Gothic-Communist "derelicts." As the oppressed, our pedagogy should be centered around the continued production of communal emotional intelligence as a means of transforming the material world and, by extension, the social-material-natural world for the better.
- Abjection (from Julia
Kristeva's process of abjection, vis-à-vis Jerrold Hogle's "ghost of the
counterfeit"): Coined by Julia Kristeva in her 1981 book, The Powers of Horror, abjection
means "to throw off." Abjection is us versus them, dividing the self
into a linguistically and emotionally normal state with an "othered"
half. This "other" is generally reserved for abjected
material—criminal, taboo or alien concepts: good and evil, heaven and hell,
nature and civilization, men and women, etc. Through Cartesian dualism—re: the
rising of a dividing system of thought by René Descartes that led to
settler colonialism—nation-states and corporations create states of normality
(the status quo) by forcefully throwing off everything that isn't normal,
isn't rational, masculine or even human, etc. Through the status quo, normal
examples are defined by their alien, inhuman opposites, the latter held at a
distance but frequently announced and attacked (a form of punching down); the
iconoclast, often in Gothic fiction, will force a confrontation, exposing the
viewer (often vicariously) to experience the same process in reverse (a form of
punching up). Facing the abjected material reliably leads to a state of
horror, its reversal exposing the normal as false, rotten and demonic, and the
so-called "demons" or dangerous undead as victimized and human:
"Who's the savage?" asks Rob
Halford. "Modern man!" Descartes was certainly a
massive dick, but the spawning of endless Pygmalion-generated undead and demons
scarcely started and ended with him. Instead, it expanded through the ghost of
the counterfeit as wedded to the process of abjection in Gothic canon; or as
Dave West summarizes in "Implementation
of Gothic Themes in The Gothic Ghost of the Counterfeit" (2023):
- Chronotope/parallel Gothic space (from Mikhail Bakhtin's "Gothic chronotope"): Mikhail Bakhtin's "time-space," outlined posthumously in The Dialogic Imagination (1981)—an architectural evocation of space and time as something whose liminal motion through describes a particular quality of history described by Bakhtin as "castle-narrative":Toward the end of the seventeenth century in England, a new territory for novelistic events is constituted and reinforced in the so-called 'Gothic' or 'black' novel—the castle (first used in this meaning by Horace Walpole in The Castle of Otranto, and later in Radcliffe, Monk Lewis and others). The castle is saturated through and through with a time that is historical in the narrow sense of the word, that is, the time of the historical past [...] the traces of centuries and generations are arranged in it in visible form as various parts of its architecture [...] and in particular human relationships involving dynastic primacy and the transfer of hereditary rights. [...] legends and traditions animate every corner of the castle and its environs through their constant reminders of past events. It is this quality that gives rise to the specific kind of narrative inherent in castles and that is then worked out in Gothic novels.
For our purposes, Gothic variants and their castle-narratives have a medieval/pre-Enlightenment character that describes the historical past in a museum-like way tied to the past as fearfully reimagined—i.e., as something to recursively move through, thus try to record in some shape or form; e.g., the Neo-Gothic castle (Otranto, 1764) to the retro-future haunted house (the Nostromo from Alien, 1979) to the Metroidvania (my area of expertise). Canonical examples include various "forbidden zones," full of canonical monsters—i.e., canonical/capitalistic parallel space. Expanding on Frederic Jameson, the iconoclastic Gothic chronotope is an "archaeology of the future" that can expose how we think about the past to reshape the future towards a Utopian (Communist) outcome. Although we'll expound on this idea repeatedly in the Humanities primer in Volume Two, a common method—apart from Gothic, liminal monsters—are hauntological locations housing things the state would normally abject: the crimes of empire as buried in the rubble, but also contained inside its castle-narrative. Iconoclastic parallel spaces and their parallel society of agents, then, align against state-corporate interests and their "geometries of terror" (exhibit 64c) which, in turn, artists can illustrate in their own iconoclastic hauntologies (exhibit 64b) and castle-narratives; i.e., ironic appreciative movement through the Gothic space and its palliative Numinous sensations.
- Hauntology (from Jacques Derrida's "spectres of Marx" and Mark Fischer's "canceled futures," vis-à-vis Jodey Castricano's cryptomimesis): A basic linguistic state between the past and the present—described by Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx (1993) as being Marxism itself. Smothered by Capitalism, Marxism is an older idea from Capitalism's past that haunts Capitalism—doing so through "ghosts" in Capitalism's language that haunt future generations under the present order of material existence. In Cryptomimesis: The Gothic and Jacques Derrida's Ghost Writing, Jodey Castricano writes how Marx, though not a Gothicist, was obsessed with the language of spectres and ghosts—less as concrete symbols sold for profit in the modern sense and more as a consequence of coerced human language expressing a return of the past and of the dead as a repressed force; she also calls this process cryptomimesis, or "writing with ghosts," as a tradition carried on by Derrida and his own desire to express haunting as a feeling experienced inside Capitalism. The concept would be articulated further by Mark Fischer as Capitalist Realism (2009)—i.e., a myopia, or total inability to imagine the future beyond past versions of the future that have become decayed, dead, and forsaken: "canceled futures" (which Stuart Mills discusses how to escape in his 2019 writeup on Fischer's hauntology of culture, Capitalism, and acid Communism, "What is Acid Communism?"). While all workers are haunted by the dead, as Marx states, this especially applies to its proponents—cops, class traitors, scapegoats, etc—as overwhelmed by a return of the dead through language in the socio-material sphere. For those less disturbed by the notion, however, this can be something to welcome and learn from—to write with; i.e., in the presence of the dead coming home as a welcome force in whatever forms they take: not just ghosts, but also vampires, zombies, or composites, the latter extending to demons as beings to summon or make; but also all of these categories being modular insofar as they allow for a hybridized expression of trauma through undead-demonic compounds. As Castricano writes of cryptomimesis in regards to ghosts, I would argue the same notion applies to all undead and to demons—i.e., writing with both as complicated theatrical expressions of the human condition under Capitalism: 'Although some critics continue to disavow the Gothic as being subliterary and appealing only to the puerile imagination—Fredric Jameson refers to the Gothic as "that boring and exhausted paradigm" [what a dork]—others, such as Anne Williams, claim that the genre not only remains very much alive but is especially vital in its evocation of the "undead," an ontologically ambiguous figure which has been the focus of so much critical attention that another critic, Slavoj Žižek felt compelled to call the return of the living dead "the fundamental fantasy of contemporary mass culture"' (source).
- Cryptonymy (from Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, vis-à-vis Jerold Hogle's "narrative of the crypt" and Castricano's cryptomimesis): In Cynthia Sugars' entry on "Cryptonymy" for David Punter's The Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2012), Sugars writes, "Cryptonymy, as it is used in psychoanalytic theory and adapted to Gothic Studies, refers to a term coined by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok [which] receives extended consideration in their book The Wolf Man's Magic Word: A Cryptonymy (1986)." Sugars goes on to summarize Abraham and Torok's usage, which highlights a tendency for language to hide a traumatic or unspeakable word with seemingly unrelated words, which compound under coercive, unnatural conditions (the inherent deceit of the nation-state and its violent monopolies). For Sugars and for us, Gothic studies highlight these conditions as survived by a narrative of the crypt, its outward entropy—the symptoms and wreckage—intimating a deeper etiological trauma sublimated into socially more acceptable forms (usually monsters, lairs/parallel space, phobias, etc; you can kill those. In my own work about the neoliberal Promethean Quest, "Military Optimism," I call this the "puncher's chance" afforded to pro-Capitalist soldiers and de facto killers for the state). Described by Jerrold Hogle as the only thing that survives—the narrative of the crypt is a narrative of a narrative of a narrative to a hidden curse announced by things displaced from the former cause: Gothic cryptonyms; illusions, deceptions, mirages, etc. Sugars determines, the closer one gets to the problem, the more the space itself abruptly announces a vanishing point, a procession of fragmented illusions tied to a transgenerational curse: "a place of concealment that stands on mere ashes of something not fully present," Hogle writes of Otranto (the first "gothic" castle, reassembled for Horace Walpole's 1764 "archaeology"). In regards to the mimetic quality of the crypt, this general process of cryptomimesis draws attention to a writing predicated upon encryption: the play of revelation and concealment lodged within parts of individual words tied to Gothic conventions and linguistic functions, but also patently ludic narratives that can change one's luck within a pre-conceived and enforced set of rules; i.e., rewriting our odds of survival, thus fate, inside exploitative ludic schemes by pointedly dictating material conditions that represent "luck" as a variable that the elite highly control under Capitalism (we'll unpack these during the Humanities primer).
- sex-positive monster porn (monsters are generally dimorphically sexualized in canon, which spreads the complicated, awful lie that porn is paradoxically forbidden and available—peddled furtively to people like a bad drug whose "pushers" promise this is the only place you can get it from instead of, you know, making it yourselves)
- safe, trusting spaces
- reasonable forgiveness, preventative justice, and a pedagogy of the oppressed as delivered through a reclaimed language of the oppressor class that normally shames the proletariat's reimagined past
- Manufactured scarcity. Not enough resources, space, sex, etc; cultivates a fake sense of supply/demand, but also fear of missing out through exploitative business maneuvers that, in turn, engender fragile, deregulated markets: e.g., games—micro transactions, live-service models, phone games; manufactured obsolescence (Hakim's "Planning Failure," 2023), hidden fees, privatization—i.e., pay more for less quality and/or quantity and so on.
- Manufactured consent. From Chomsky's book Manufacturing Consent, 1988—cultivates a compliant consumer base, but also workforce; cultivates confusion, ignorance. Chomsky's theory is that advertisers are beholden to their shareholders, aiming consumers towards a position of mass tolerance—tacitly accepting "negative freedom" as exclusively enjoyed by the elite exploiting them: "Boundaries for me, but not for thee." In Marxist terms, this amounts to the privatization of the media (and its associate labor) as part of the means of production.
- Manufactured conflict/competition. Endless war and violence—e.g., the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the Jewish Question, etc; cultivates apathy and cruelty through canonical wish fulfillment: "the satisfying of unconscious desires in dreams or fantasies" with a bourgeois flavor. To this, nation pastiche and other blind forms lead to us-versus-them worker division, class sabotage and false consciousness, not collective worker action against the state.
- displacement (conceal or dislocate the problem)
- disassociation (hide from the problem)
- dissemination (spread these bourgeois practices through heteronormative canon)
The horror of the hyperreal is that there are no humans behind the generated image of a human at all; they're simply gone. The reality is more bleak, advocating for enslavement, neglect and genocide (with middle-class consumers being entirely divorced from creative labor as a process they participate in at all, let alone the fruits of their general labor) behind the image as a desert of the real where real humans are still alive, but won't be for much longer (with the elite, as usual, only caring about profit and continued hegemony—accidentally parodied by this AI "found footage": AI Lost Media's terrifying apt and absurdly hilarious "Pizza Nuggets Ad 1993," 2023). Fascists play their part by playing a dirtier version of the same game: xenophobic, cutthroat, medieval, openly rapacious, "pure" and draconian (with free pamphlets being provided to fascist newlyweds, Hitler's-Mein-Kampf-style). Both they and neoliberals play "bad games" for the bourgeoisie; so do TERFs, girls bosses, NERFs and other token offshoots whose "discipline-and-punish" forms of play really don't take geniuses to function—just fear, lies and cruelty to varying degrees that are taught through canonical propaganda and consumption.
So much of Camilla's conquest is logistic in nature. This might sound dull, but every decision plays out through wonderful dialogue, abetted by the simple fact that each sister has a unique personality and position: the genius, warrior, analyst, and diplomat. Two of them are even lovers. Still, they talk as family members do, knowing full well what games the others get up to (or don't). Their realness comes not from a checklist of outrageous traits, but how these play out realistically inside the fairytale castle.
Smack dab in the middle is Hector, the gullible forgemaster. Once bitten, twice shy, he must be convinced to make for Camilla's army. No easy task. This falls to Lenore, the sexy diplomat. The fun lies in her attitude. She's not doing it because she's told; she's having fun, and plays her part superbly. The battle between her and Hector are generally fought with wit and words; they still hold their own against the scrappier melees had by Trevor and Sypha, or Isaac. The style of each makes it distinct, and adds to the show's overall variety.
When they first meet, Hector mistrusts Lenore, and rightly so; by comparison, Lenore is disarmingly soft—a fact she coldly reminds him of after beating him to a pulp. Her job is to make Hector (and us) forget what she is by being herself. She lies to Hector with bits of truth, giving him what he's always wanted. It speaks to her talents that she isn't wrong in this respect. Hector's second deception belies an underlying desire: to be told what to do. It's arguably why he served Dracula to begin with. Lenore simply uses it to her advantage.
This does involve a bit of sex. When Lenore uses her body to distract Hector, though, he's already bought into the scheme. But so has the audience—at least in the sense that they've been groomed for a narrative climax. Consider what's happening elsewhere: Trevor and Sypha storm the church; Isaac rides into Barad-dûr v2.0; and Alucard is molested by his new, horny friends, Taka and Tsumi. All comprise a collective build-up reaching its promised conclusion. Not all promises are kept, but herein lies a lateral pleasure, the chagrin of coitus interruptus offset by something comparably delicious to an orgasm: schadenfreude.
Making Hector the "little bitch" [the small, effeminate dog on a leash] is one way to do the Amazon. Aside from genderqueer BDSM apologia, though, the Amazon is essentially a freak-show circus act that has be appropriated in regressive, current-day forms; i.e., whose Pavlovian variant of "I am woman, hear me roar!" obeys state mandates [failure to do so during state decay leads to draconian punishment, including the euthanasia effect's" double standard: either the tomboy is shoved into a (cis-het) wedding gown and married off, or she put down for refusing to conform]. Collared by the state, the "queen bitch" war boss ultimately fetishizes the state's will, including its historical-material effects [the ubiquity, celebration and personification of war, death, lies and rape].
This took time. Featured bottom-left and mid-right and bottom-right are the late-1800s strongwomen, Katie Brumbach and Laverie Vallee. Similar to rock/porn stars, "stage bunnies" of the 20th/20st centuries, both women had stage names: Sandwina and Charmion. They were regarded in their time as oddities; or, as Betsy Golden Kellem writes in "The 'Trapeze Disrobing Act'" (2022):
"Only fools buck the tiger. The odds are all on the house!"
—Doc Holiday, Tombstone (1993)
Appreciative, iconoclastic forms (exhibit 8a) come from appropriative neoliberal and fascist forms, but also liminal, compromised forms (exhibit 8b). Neoliberals discourage the welfare state (the Welfare Mom being a racist trope that scapegoats manufactured scarcity generating criminogenic conditions for those within the state of exception: women of color). Meanwhile, neoliberals exploit workers constantly under normalized, invisible conditions, which have a similar effect on the exploitation itself. Everything becomes veiled by neoliberal canon, which conceals its own function as bourgeois propaganda but also projects said propaganda everywhere. During apocalyptic scenarios, however, the fascist return-to-conquest/tradition (and shivering of the state into barely-contained fragments ran by joint-chiefs/warlords) outlines a convenient map that already exists: the state itself as territory ripe for raw plunder, including those living inside as fresh targets of new episodes of an ongoing genocide. In other words the state cannibalizes itself, but also defends the elite as always. Cops still defend capital; but they roll in with tanks and burn "infected" and uninfected alike. All are rendered obsolete in the face of the killers best able to preserve power and capital as threatened.
Unlike these other groups, white women have been treated as liminal victims, both a precious property promised to settler-colonist men and killed and raped by them under their so-called "protection" (a concept we'll explore throughout this entire book, but especially in Volume Three, Chapter Two).
- Educated women are Medusas that need to be beheaded (exhibit 23)—less metaphor and more heteronormative code for rape, but also beatings, even murder.
- Men are visually stimulated; women are not/don't like sex or porn.
- Women can't orgasm or experience sexual pleasure/can't cum.
- Women pee out of their vaginas/butts.
- Men's brains are totally different from women's.
- vice characters similar to Ester (exhibit 13d) except they actually have green skin; e.g., the Wicked Witch of the West (whose portrayal in The Wizard of Oz functions as a form of "blackface," putting a white woman in green makeup)
- hoard-based savages like orcs (exhibit 37e) and their darker, non-human skin colors—green, black, brown, and ash, etc
Either numeration presents dark-skinned embodiments of evil as being closer to nature and death, their canonical iterations sublimating an appropriated scapegoat from a bourgeois standpoint. From a proletarian standpoint, a character of mixed ethnicity often wrestles with their heritage in the face of violence; i.e., Nella Larsen's Clare from her 1928 novel, Quicksand: a "mulatto" in the book's own language and struggling to deal with the guilt/shame of not quite belonging anywhere—what Thomas Happ in Axiom Verge, 2015, called "Athetos" or "without place," exhibit 40g. For him, this meant the scientific community but such an idea can obviously apply to any feeling of pariah-ness. With orcs in fantasy works, the placement of such figures within centrist military struggles has expanded to some "good" orcs—i.e., the noble savage. Yet, orc goodness will always be seen as "more savage and brutal" than the white-skinned, civilized men (and elves) of the West, which invariably justifies the Cartesian breaking of agreements after the Big Evil is defeated: "Boundaries for me, not for thee." This happens because the white man is more Enlightened, thus destined to conquer nature and inherit the Earth.
(exhibit 10a2: Artist, top-left: Undead Clown; top-right: Defiant Drills, commissioned by Barnowlren; bottom-left and -right: Bay's fursona, by Tofu Froth and Buns Like a Truck. Gothic-Communist struggle is defined in its poetic context—of whom commissioned the artist and why—as something that is challenged during paratextual dialogs concerning the pieces and what they stand for or rather, what they should stand for. For example, in posting his piece, "hit them nazi punks" in 2020, Undead Clown writes,"largely inspired by CRASHprez's song 'Fascists Don't Cry' which is a really great song lmao but ya imma knock ya out if you come up to me spoutin white supremacist or transphobic shit human rights aint up for debate"
- lowering the age of consent (which often coincides with a fascist/medieval presence—e.g., the age of consent in Japan is 13. However, the age of consent is 20 in South Korea, a historically fascist government under Ilminism that was challenged with the rise of the K-pop music that, despite being monopolized by the Korean government through slave contracts, works as a limited, "bougie/consumer-based" counterculture to fight fascism at the nation-state level; source: Jake Hall's "From Kim Jong-Un to Trolling Trump: K-Pop Has Always Been Political, 2020)
- anti-gay/-sodomy laws
- anti-trans legislation
- no sex education or prophylactics
- revoking Roe v. Wade to reintroduce anti-abortion laws
"You really do have a beautiful body" were Jadis' first words to me (they loved my ass, in particular). They are ex number three (not including one-night stands, online relationships and FWBs, etc) proceeded by Zeuhl and Constance. However, while you gain and lose something with every partner, I lost more than usual with Jadis and learned some hard-fought lessons. Simply put, Jadis were the most actively abusive partner I've ever had—a malignant narcissistic "provider" who worked off my maladaptive survival response when courting me: to fawn (the other three being to fight, flee or freeze—the last one also called oscillation in Gothic circles). Unlike my dad or stepdad, Jadis never physically beat me; they still coercively brokered the power exchanges between us, teaching me to suffer in ways I'd only ever read about: By taking my own risks, I became a Gothic princess in ways I didn't negotiate (the irony of me, the desperately gay Communist/closeted trans woman, walking headfirst into a neoliberal SWERF/TERF and then falling in love with them is not lost on me; to be fair to myself, they did not advertise themselves as neoliberal, and when they did, I tried very hard to explain my point of view—more on this later). I wanted material things and an ability to play wife; but I exchanged my own power to a Faustian charmer who love-bombed me, then took me far away from anyone to continue torturing me (cycles of abuse that only ceased when I stopped seeing Jadis as a protector).
The state desires power. So do narcissists; the former enables the latter in historical-material ways. While some narcissists provide and others receive, a provider or patient who is narcissistic will coerce and control their mark in highly manipulative ways (with the angel/devil dynamic of unequal power abuse playing out in historical-material ways—i.e., with traditional positions of power tied to providing from a male/female position; e.g., the medical profession, with the nurse, doctor, psychiatrist or orderly appearing benign but acting malignant, often through needlessly corrective and harmful surgeries or procedures often, in horror stories, being treated as the stuff of nightmares: forced isolation, euthanasia, lobotomies, electro-shock, medically induced psychosis, queer conversion therapies, or genital corrective surgeries on intersex infants, exhibit 3c; etc).
Jadis provided for me on paper. Indeed, the negotiation seemed honest, sincere and beneficial: to be their conjugal worker—"a live-in bussy" who learned to cook, clean and do things that, as a closeted trans person, I tended to avoid. While I actually value acquiring these skills and the novelty of service (which can be fun if it isn't abusive), I quickly discovered that no one likes to be compelled and threatened by an asshole who acts like they know (and own) everything/are better than everyone else. Indeed, while Jadis was a genderfluid AFAB, they still coerced, gaslit and threatened me constantly despite playing the victim. The best lies are built on truth, in this regard: Jadis' mother had abused them, resulting in Jadis having more sides to their personality than most people do. And while these fractals would flash across their own surface during confrontations, I couldn't always tell them apart or verify them because Jadis was inherently dishonest and manipulative.
For example, Jadis liked to cry whenever I accused them of acting like their mother. They had described their mother well enough and certainly reminded me of them. Yet, Jadis' reactions always made me feel guilty for "making" them cry despite what they were doing to me! It wasn't just a pivot; eventually I started to feel crazy for standing up for myself (not "crazy" as "in love" in a sex-positive sense, but "crazy" as "gaslit" by an abuser). I slowly became reluctant to fight back, being worn down by attacks I couldn't always see or understand.
We'll examine the plurality of Jadis' bullshit more during Volume Two. For now, just remember that their "conditional" offer of financial "security" as my would-be mommy dom absolutely withered alongside their pure condescension and abuse of me; both made the joy of cooking for them, caring for them and fucking them an absolute nightmare. At first, it was like Tennyson's poem, I their Lady of Shalott and they my Lancelot:
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flam'd upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott (source).
In the end, though, a horny bitch like me couldn't enjoy sex with Jadis because they utterly terrified me. It wasn't impossible to cum, but I still felt like someone was holding a gun to my head.
To say that I faked orgasms wouldn't be entirely accurate. For one, the ejaculation wasn't fake (it either happens or it doesn't, for AMABs); as for my enthusiasm, it wavered, but I wanted it to be genuine in order to please them despite it feeling worse and worse for me to keep trying. Regardless, I didn't want to have sex with Jadis because they had ceased to be the dark, handsome knight I fell in love with. Once wooing me with Irish ballads like "The Devil's Courtship" (2001) by Battlefield Band or "The Two Sisters" (2010) by Emily Portman, they became someone I wanted to get far away from: a source of torment that more or less looked the same as before.
Even now, though, I remember how their power leveled me when I was under its spell—no longer, thanks to my friends' help and my own courage. I escaped, and if this book is any indication, things are going well enough without Jadis in my life. Such is the lot of someone as lucky as myself to have a place to go (a secret, safe place). Writing this book in my peaceful idylls is the least I can do to help others—to cathartically pass on what I have learned for myself and for the world after I am gone. So please, learn from my mistakes and avoid the emotional/Gothic stupidity that Capitalism historically-materially foisted upon me through my own cursed bloodline.
"Oh my god! Captain! The earth man has a light grenade for a head!"
[awkward pause] "You are a wise man, Dick Nelsen!"
- knew they were going to be fantasizing about someone else
- called them a slut or a "ho"
- pulled out and came on their body not inside their body (even though I've had a vasectomy and they have and IUD)
- my ex-roomie, Beavis (not his real name)—a heteronormative, cis-het dude/Catholic masters student with conflicting social-sexual desires
- myself and my own "Gothic" situation of stupidity and caution: falling in love with a model I drew after Jadis kicked me out
- Dulci's mom—a half-stupid, overly cautious woman worried about her "wayward" daughter
*I would call this phenomenon "half-invited." Yes, the exhibitionist girl had her window and curtains open/was showing off to anyone who would look while she (un)dressed. Even so, George was still in a tree with a pair of binoculars looking secretly at her. Despite involving a willing exhibitionist and voyeur, the circumstances weren't actively agreed upon, thus exemplifying Mulvey's Male Gaze in a canonical narrative.
Mythical weapons can symbolize female rebellion and power. Take Medusa's snakes: Functionally her snakes aren't female-exclusive, or man-made; they're purely cosmetic. Medusa kills her victims with a petrifying gaze. Gothic tales treat this freezing effect as a shock response: The female "snake" is viewed as a symbol of antagonistic power, threatening traditional masculinity through castration fears (robbing the phallus of its mythical power) expressed in patriarchal myths like the gorgon. The snake can also be overtly phallic. Benisato, a female villain from Ninja Scroll (1993), attacks with venomous snakes, including one hidden inside her vagina (a man could arguably cram a "snake" up his bum, but homosexuality is often seen as "female": othered, ridiculous, impotent).
The second symbol of female rebellion are natural, entomological weapons. These can vaginal, tied to sexual reproduction. Insect brood mothers are a natural example of the Archaic Mother, using their powerful wombs to birth hostile armies. There's also phallic-looking weapons with female functions. The ovipositor of parasitoid wasps injects an egg into an unlucky host (the life cycle which inspired the xenomorph in Alien). However, all female Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, ants) have an ovipositor, the stinger of which is a modified version thereof. Stingers inject [paralyzing] venom, but also eggs[!]. It can stab and kill, but no male can have it. Like the womb, it is forbidden to men ("womb-like," vaginal spaces have a forbidding alien atmosphere, which we'll explore in a moment).
Insects tremendously impacted popular monsters like the xenomorph and later, Samus. Amazons are monsters, and Samus is only half-human. The other half is avian, but my point still stands: Humanoid insects (or animals more generally) are the site of alien depiction, but also behaviors humans typically abject. Unnatural strength is a thing to be feared, especially when viewed through a sexist lens. Though Samus is not insectoid, she still has levels of strength that mirror female insects. Hymenoptera are female dominant. Males are small, weak; they only exists to mate, and cannot work nor soldier—not unlike the submissive male roles in imaginary Amazon societies [source].
To this, the female vampire is something of a dragon, a female Godzilla or dominator whose powerful fangs/stinger is feared by powerful men through collective insecurity but also collective guilt: the proverbial sins of the father against a vengeful monstrous-feminine. As usual, this code is executed in canonical, heteronormative videogames; i.e., to neglect, deny or scorn anything that isn't "the Man." Knights don't just slay dragons; they make trophies of them.)
In essence, the producers fired Glover, lied about what he said and used his likeness without his permission (a taste of things to come in the AI days ahead of us).
Sex positivity between sex workers and friends is no less democratic or humane than a cis-het marriage. Quite the opposite—it's far more democratic and humane. Marriage has historically offered false "protection" to cis-het women during manufactured conflict, scarcity and consent; it only segregates them from other women and lets their husbands legally abuse/rape them—the Marital Exemption Act only being abolished in all fifty states in America in the early 1990s. Like Roe v. Wade, the repealing of the Marital Exemption act is something that Christofascists/SCOTUS will try to overturn, blaming symptoms of Capitalism and its decay on minorities while simultaneously reining women in and cracking down "on crime" through an expanded state of exception. Neoliberal capitalists will allow this to occur through the oscillating pendulum of Capitalism and American politics working very much as intended: America was founded on genocide, rape, war and worker exploitation, as well as compelled marriages, etc.
Proletarian praxis-through-poiesis must happen according to new traditions of Gothic imagination and cultural emotional intelligence—tied to Marxist and sex-positive Gothic/queer theory and media, then utilized through Jameson's "archaeologies of the future" as a means of breaking through Fischer's warning of a myopic inability to imagine a different future by reimagining the past and its material traumas in relation to ourselves (we'll unpack this during Volume Two, scout's honor). This Gothic "mode" of production includes examining our own traumas and memories, both real, imagined, and reimagined as Gothic pastiche—i.e., the monsters, where to find them, and how they function in discrete, composite and liminal forms across various mediums (movies, television shows, books, masques, music shows, short stories, roleplay and videogames; etc) that likewise interact back and forth through various materials during different modal "favors" of expression (critique, art, political statements, porn, apologia, polemics; or curious hybrids of these things; e.g., Sucker for Love: First Date, a 2022 Kaiju, Lovecraftian, monster-porn dating sim).
"Science is real, monsters are not!"
—Weird school principal to Sean and Patrick, The Monster Squad (1987)
- zombies (the state of exception, exhibit 34d)
- werewolves (furries; symbols of rape, madness, and primal lust, exhibit 87a)
- vampires (the aristocracy and venereal disease, exhibit 41h; the dragon lord or Archaic Mother, exhibit 1a1c)
- aliens (xenophobia, abduction; exhibit 13a, below)
- clones (assimilation, doubles; exhibit 13a, below)
- reanimations (dead bodies, statues, golems, suits of armor, etc; exhibit 40h2)
- Mother Nature (natural disasters, plagues; exhibit 35b)
- orcs, goblins and drow (the state of exception, tokenized conflict; exhibit 37e, 41b, and 94a1b)
- stigma/"plague" animals: bats, snails, snakes, wolves, bears, hounds (of the Baskervilles), Rodents of Unusual Size, killer rabbits, etc (the wilderness)
- knights/cops (sanctioned rape/violence; exhibit 24a)
- black knights (fascism/centrist caricature, exhibit 1a1a1g)
- composite bodies (Frankenstein's Creature, exhibit 44a2; but also cyborgs,
- robots and golems (exhibit 42e), including silly ones: Mr. Stay-Puft from Ghostbusters (1984)
- ghosts (exhibit 42d2, the uncanny)
- wendigos/imposters (exhibit 45d)
- mythical warriors (ninjas, knights, samurai; exhibit 39c1; Beowulf, exhibit 1a1a1e)
- mythical artists (mad musicians, artists; exhibit 105a2)
- pod people (clones and alien invasion, mad science, etc)
- chimeras (anthropomorphic, like mermaids, exhibit 54; or not—the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Cú Chulainn, Lucifer's non-angel forms in Paradise Lost; exhibit 51a)
- demons (variable, exhibit 45c1/2)
- hags (aging but also ancient power, exhibit 84a2)
- witches (vice characters, pagan/non-Christian rituals; exhibit 83a)
- headless monsters/revenants of state executions (the Medusa, the headless Buddha, fallen warriors, feudal-secular terrorist-cell violence, etc, utilizing the severed head as a dialectical-material means of condemning or venerating the execution through beheading as vividly abject and often blindly furious; exhibit 41a and exhibit 11b5)
- Archaic Mothers (ancient, abject, really pissed-off vice characters; e.g., the alien queen from Aliens or Mother Brain from Metroid, 1986—exhibit 1a1c)
- archaic babies (the spawn of the void; e.g., the xenomorph, exhibit 60d; but also Giygas "the mighty idiot" from Mother 2, 1994, exhibit 60e2)
- killer, manmade babies tied to patriarchal mad science, patrilineal descent and pre-fascist and anti-Semitic revenge stigmas (again, the xenomorph or Beowulf, 1a1a1b; but also Cell and Broly from Dragon Ball, exhibit 39c2; the Creature from Frankenstein; and Homelander from The Boys, 2019, exhibit 108b4)
- phallic women (the monstrous-feminine of the xenomorph and similar liminal performances, but also violent women "acting like men" from a traditional, canonical viewpoint—i.e., though generally in response to patriarchal structures with an air of female revenge that leads to TERF-induced rape culture; e.g., Lady Macbeth from Macbeth, 1606; Victoria de Loredani from Zofloya, 1806, exhibit 100b2; Rumi from Perfect Blue, 1997; and Ripley/Samus Aran from Aliens/Metroid, exhibit 71)
- space bugs (see: Archaic Mothers, but also—Communists)
- hybrids (vampire-zombie witches, clown ninjas [Worthikids' "Wire," 2021], and Zombie-Vampire Capitalism and Zombie-Vampire Voltron—e.g., Mega Man X, 1993, and The Ronin Warriors' 1995 neoliberal pastiche, exhibit 98b2a and 39c1/94c2a)
Allowed by the elite to flourish in canonical forms that uphold the status quo, the monster works as a mask that can be subverted by the person wearing it for proletarian purposes (whose complex oppositional subterfuge we will primarily examine in Volume Three). In either case, these monsters and their masks are literally legion. So, I may miss a few in my scrapbook bestiary (on par with Prince Hamlet's commonplace book, which compiled knowledge as he came across it and guided his revenge). However, I want to cover all the bases as best I can.
Next, I'll list some of their infamous lairs, which we'll also explore (albeit always in relation to monsters, whose sex-positivity remains our hermeneutic/praxial focus):
- churches (and other ecclesiastical structures and their Neo-Gothic forms)
- condemned buildings
- industrial sectors or disaster areas
- crime scenes
- alien landing sites
- giant insect burrows
- abandoned factories, ghost towns and other derelict places
- haunted houses
- graveyards (official or improvised; e.g., mass graves)
- creepy basements
- sex dungeons (rape fantasies, which intersect with other space types)
- spooky mansions
- Metroidvania and to a lesser extent, other ludic spaces like the FPS, RTS or JRPG (for this one, refer to my aforementioned PhD research on the subject, "Mazes and Labyrinths")
Fictional monsters and their lairs in media constitute localized phobias, the basic mediums of which are already listed above. However, the base Gothic theories (the Four Gs) can be applied to different mediums through different medium-centric schools of thought (and genres, which we'll explore through the book as we go, but also crossovers—e.g., Samus Aran in Axiom Verge, 13b). This requires another list, which I'll call our Gothic-Communist Hermeneutic Quadfecta (tailored after by my education background, in this case; also, I didn't want to have two lists of four called "the Four Gs"):
- gothic theory (outlined in "The Gist")
- ludology (game theory, which we'll reveal as we go)
- queer theory (which we'll also reveal as we go)
- Marxism (as outlined by our Gothic-Communism tenets, the Six Rs)
As we'll see when we push into the Humanities primer, my approach is thoroughly hybridized, as I think it's more accurate to a post-scarcity world sans privatization to allow for creations that aren't hidden behind artificial barriers. You don't have to wait for corporates to make multiverses." All deities (and worlds and demons) resides within workers—are their tools to express themselves with:
In praxial terms, workers familiar with these objects and methods of study can start to think critically through whichever theories help them process media in an emotionally/Gothically intelligent sense that helps our Gothic-Communist goals materialize as praxis-through-in-action. This includes sex positivity vs sex coercion (we'll get to the other doubles of oppositional praxis in a moment) as historically-materially generating an oft-liminal "monster pastiche," or other kinds of pastiche: poster, war, vision, porn, disguise and other terms we'll associate with monsters, lairs and their relative phobias as things to rehabilitate and weaponize in our favor as rebellious workers. Over time, proletarian praxis leads to "friendly doubles": de facto, sex-positive, educational forms whose means of critical thought are tied to commonplace things workers can quickly spot, recognize and think about as they express themselves with art. In doing so, they can decolonize the Gothic mode and grant it their own power as part of a larger artistic movement; its steady iconoclasm is how sex workers liberate themselves from canonical, heteronormative bondage—often using an asexual lens to appreciate social-sexual expression beyond compelled sexual reproduction and its state-sanctioned violence and manipulation.
I'm focusing on Gothic theory, monsters and media because, despite being incredibly common and sexualized, they invite highly sex-coercive, social-sexual behavior in canonical forms; in iconoclastic forms, common fixations of the "fearful" Gothic imagination become incredibly useful to Marxist praxis, applied in a sex-positive fashion according to common fears exploited by those in power for their own Base ends (that was a pun):
- the unknown (death, nature; the dark, beyond, alien, or different)
- shameful conduct, but especially fatal hubris (the ignominious death)
- the impostor, especially a betrayal by a false friend, family member, lover or authority figure (cops, priests, husbands, coaches, teachers, etc)
- the tyrant and enslavement
- incarceration and live burial
- abandonment and identity erasure; cultural amnesia
- violence; including physical emotional and sexual abuse
- impotence; a loss of control, including of one's mind—madness, paranoia, brainwashing/gaslighting, etc
- emotional or physical vulnerability
- prurience, sexual deviancy and appetite
- strange combinations of these things (e.g., the Japanese kappa, anus balls and ignominious death: Sekiro's (2019) hidden boss, the Headless—a hidden, headless, forgotten warrior married to the kappa, quizzically stealing the hero's essence from their butt, but also relegated to the embarrassing-yet-terrifying forgotten grave: For a Japanese warrior to be beheaded and left to rot, their honor and glory would be completely forgotten—utterly extinguished. Literally this would be a fate worse than death for their kind.)
- cats and dogs living together
- mass hysteria
In other words, Gothic Communism crystalizes what not to do into a Gothic moral that doesn't shy away from the dialectical-material complexities that emerge during oppositional praxis. Yet, our focus always remains on a practical Marxist outcome—of emotionally intelligent, cultural savvy sex workers who have access to the entire checklist. We're not just breaking icons or swimming in the grey area for funsies (though it is fun); we're fighting the state's monopoly on violence through a variety of disguises that work as complex, oft-ambiguous code. Our focus is specifically sex worker violence as it intersects with other forms of state abuse as financially incentivized by those in power or seeking power. As previously mentioned, I've coined this incentivization "the problem of greed" in my own academic work, writing about Weber's Protestant work ethic in Tolkien's The Hobbit and Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice" (c. 1598); the problem of greed (and its addressal) takes different forms depending on who's involved:
- For neoliberals, the problem of greed introduces the banality of evil—chiefly the dragon as a symbol of rarified greed—through a current-day myth: the useful billionaire, aka billionaire "philanthropy/Marxism." Capitalism cultivates the dragon's "hoard of gold," which under neoliberal Capitalism makes its stated owner class gross dividends—alienated from their own wealth-as-abstracted but also other humans (workers) while they callously bribe everyone around them through loans, subsidies and lobbying disguised as Christian/secular generosity (which align with the Christian tradition of worshipping capital in ostensibly secular forms; e.g., Reagan's America being an extension of virtually every American executive before and after having been a Christian in some shape or form—as Aleksandra Sandstrom notes, mostly Protestant Christians; re: Weber's Protestant work ethic being an Americanized Phenomena). Ethically billionaires should not exist, yet neoliberal culture hero-worships them like gods—banal dragons with draconian positions, not literal piles of gold to hoard (unlike fascists). They posture as the Greater Good, framing themselves as exceptional in order to hide what they really are: vampires and desk-murders-in-disguise, killing more than fascists can through Americanized bureaucracy as an ongoing and disguised form of state power abuse—deregulated but enabled to accumulate as much wealth as possible for those out-of-the-touch ghouls at the top. Doing so, neoliberals intentionally create criminogenic conditions, all while blaming the poor, stepping up policing and pushing austerity/personal responsibility rhetoric (this includes "charitable" organizations asking poor people for one dollar instead of asking billionaires for one percent of "their" money while also treating the Protestant work ethic as sacred/modest—divorced from excess and useful to the elite). While this historically-materially translates to genocide, war and rape, etc as displaced/dissociative violence, it also extends to remediation as canonical sublimation via content creators who posture as "generous" while generally profiting off it through various "fronts": e.g., Bon Jovi's restaurant (or Rocky's); or Mr. Beast' "poverty tourism" miraculously helping the blind to see like Jesus then using this as a shield that his fans use to defend (The Kavernacle, 2023); i.e., he did good works, so he can do no wrong.
- For fascists, the symptoms of Capitalism's disease manifest differently. For them, the problem of greed reintroduces an older form of wealth acquisition—raw material theft through direct physical violence and conquest—the return of the (skeleton) king or the dragon king on the literal pile of gold (re: hoarded stolen material wealth—the piles of goods taken from the Nazi death camps). It is the partial collapse of the state to install new leaders in the vacated/emptied offices, vying to restore them to "their former glory." Desk murder under fascist bureaucracy is performed through a weaker form of government centered around open piracy and power abuse, with similar-if-less-effective results. Despite their badass façade, fascists are about grandiose displays of strength through a weakened power structure resting on a cult of the strongman. Nazi Germany, for example, was materially capable of far less harm and damage than what America has globally achieved through US hegemony worldwide. US warmongering has slowly become automated, turning into drone warfare driven by human greed. In turn, these faraway forms are further displaced, dissociated, and disseminated through neoliberal propaganda. A common propaganda form is popular sports, especially the combat sport as useful in conveying the competitive, individualistic models that are so central to neoliberal propaganda. These gladiatorial, "bread and circus" ranked rituals "prove" which male workers/exploited groups are "superior," meaning "the best at being useful to the Faustian elite in violent ways," like Mike Tyson for Cus D'Amato or Don King (Rummy's Corner, 2023). Women in these arrangements are reduced to de facto prizes for poor fighting men to scrap over, normally enjoyed exclusively by the elite. "To the victor go the spoils (which, as a non-battered, cis-het/non-heteronormative AFAB is not a flattering concept—women don't really want to be reduced to pretty baubles that cis-het dudes fight over).
- Meanwhile, the likes of Shakespeare and Tolkien displaced and critiqued greed through their own displaced fantasies, inventing Middle Earth and an imaginary Venice to critique their respective presents' problems of greed in medieval language (re: "The Problem of Greed"). Similar to Blake's "dark satanic mills" (or Kafka's bourgeois critique in his own demonic spaces), Tolkien's "black country" was a displaced critique of the Industrial Revolution and capital (as later heard in British metal stalwarts Judas Priest, but also in fin-de-cycle authors like Charles Dickens, etc); so was Shylock the xenophobic scapegoat of greed during mercantile Capitalism and Smaug rarefied greed of the medieval, fascist (relatively small, vengeful and imaginarily "ancient") sort directed at a post-Catholic, 20th century West. Such allegory is not so different than condemning a foreign dictator for similar abuses committed by our own leaders—not just elected officials, but the men behind the curtain pulling strings of various sorts. You also see the same tactic employed by powerful men like George Lucas or James Cameron, whose own successes become franchised, turning them into billionaire Marxist "Pygmalions" with far less critical power as time goes on; i.e., the wider their appeal, the less potent their message. Of course, allegory exists for a reason, but "mainstream activism" is disempowered by mere virtue of it being diluted for the masses. Genuine activism (synthesis) needs to be direct, rough, and clear—less canon like what Star Wars became after 1977 and more incendiary iconoclasm like Andor (which we'll explore in the synthesis roadmap).
- menticide, or rape of the mind
- waves of terror
My anarcho-Communist approach is meant to be generally applied to many different things, highlighting the destructive lessons that canonical art teaches through the same Gothic academic theories in reverse: iconoclastic doubles that challenge the state's rape of the mind and totalitarian use of waves of terror/vice personas that lead to war, rape, genocide; mental death, imagination death, and social death for workers endlessly exploited by the elite at the state-corporate level and dressed up in the same language, but appropriated to disguise the effects: victims, scapegoats or murderers (which regularly appear in the state of exception against the state's protectors).
Doubles aren't "just" Gothic clichés (though they can be extremely cliché when used in "blind" pastiche that reduces them to empty theater); they're dialectical-material effects that reify over space and time: the ambiguous personification of ideas expressions in theatrical tension, namely dialogue and melee combat—the duel of traditional masculine heroics and active violence (with Link and Dark Link the twink variant of this coupling versus the monstrous-feminine of Amazonomachia). In relation to our Gothicist-Communist goals, our Communist "endgame" develops through Marxist theories merged with Gothic theories and a Gothic "mode" of expression whose various "perceptive" pastiches amount to our individual lessons synthesized at the social-sexual level. In turn, the effects of their expression can be gleaned through dialectal-material analysis as we live our lives as rebellious workers: canon vs iconoclasm. As creative praxis in opposition with itself for or against the state, these effects are doubled as competing physical markers in the material world. From moment to moment, then, workers constantly experience them through Gothic phenomenology—the linguo-material expression of emotions, stigmas, and fears as things to experience, which generally present as monsters, lairs, and phobias to colonize or decolonize through oppositional praxis.
I call the canonical effects of oppositional praxis the "Three Canonical Doubles" or "The Three Cs of Canon" (which you'll see a lot throughout the book—sometimes all three, but usually one or two, and usually as adjectives):
- (Sex)coercion/-coercive: The cultivation (through Superstructure) and production (through the Base) of emotional and Gothic stupidity through bad sex-gender education in general and Gothic canon; i.e., sex-coercive sexualized media, hauntologies, chronotopes, cryptonyms, monsters, phobias, etc.
- Carcerality/carceral: A trapping of the mind and Gothic imagination inside Capitalism, killing its ability to imagine the future beyond Capitalism and its endless historical-materialities (fictional and non-fiction, but also their liminalities); i.e., the myopia of carceral hauntology and canonical parallel spaces/societies (chronotopes).
- Complicity/complicit: A state of complacency and passive/active apathy towards the State as something to defend; i.e., complicit cryptonyms (which more often than the other theories denote an act of concealment that collaborates with the state through the hidden function of monstrous language).
- Sex positivity/-positive: The cultivation (through Superstructure) and production (through the Base) of emotional and Gothic intelligence through good sex-gender education in general and Gothic canon; i.e., sex-positive sexualized media, hauntologies, chronotopes, cryptonyms, monsters, phobias, etc.
- Emancipatory: A liberation of the mind and Gothic imagination inside Capitalism, reviving its ability to imagine the future beyond Capitalism and its endless histories (fictional and non-fiction, but also their liminalities); i.e., emancipatory hauntology and iconoclastic parallel spaces/societies (chronotopes).
- Revolutionary/furtive: A state of dissident and passive/active empathy towards the State as something to defeat; i.e., furtive cryptonyms (which more often than the other theories denote an act of concealment that conspires against the state through the hidden function of monstrous language).
- destructive vs constructive anger—i.e., possessive or bad-faith, "destructive" anger and defense of the state versus the commune/comrade worker's "constructive" anger as a legitimate defense from state abuses; e.g., police abuse and DARVO tactics as things to protect ourselves from.
- destabilizing vs stabilizing gossip—i.e., co-dependent, "prison sex" mentalities and rape culture as abuse-forming patterns versus interdependent girl talk (e.g., #MeToo) and the worker stability of societal rape prevention through improved de facto education and material conditions.
- "blind" vs "perceptive" pastiche/quoting—i.e., the remediated praxis of unironic pastiche and quoting vs subversive, ironic quoting.
- unironic vs ironic gender trouble/parody (camp)—i.e., a performative means of cryptofascism versus demasking the fascist-in-disguise, making these imposters "self-report" by figuratively gagging or crapping their pants (with gender parody being a means of combatting the impostor syndrome of gender dysphoria with gender euphoria and reclaimed xenophobic labels/implements of torture)
- bad-faith vs good-faith egregores, including xenophilic/xenophobic monsters both as products of worker labor as well as worker identities, occupations, and rankings, which use similar language regardless if they're bourgeois or proletarian—e.g., the bourgeois Amazon detective (canonical Samus Aran) versus the proletarian zombie-vampire-unicorn pillow princess (insert yours, here).
- men to be violent, to show force and masculine dominance, to make war and rape, then lie about it; to be hard, rigid, infantilized penetrators competing against civilians in an us-versus-them game of regularized, life-and-death confrontations over everyday things.
- women—or beings treated "like women/as feminine"—to be chattel slaves that receive systemic male abuse within a bizarre paradox: women can't be strong, can't create (works of art). Yet, these same women must also, one, look after men who—despite their brawn—cannot care for themselves outside of systemic coercion or establish meaningful relationships; and two, care and raise the male bloodline while men make war.
- "flashing" exhibitionism (exhibit 53)
- private/public nudism (exhibit 101b)
- "breeding" kinks (exhibit 87a)
- rape play/consent-non-consent (exhibit 46d)
Historically the oppressed group of Gothic fiction would have been white cis-het women reading about themselves in Gothic novels, but they would have always had relative privilege for being white and cis-het. When future groups fought for their rights—and queer discourse started to emerge from the shadows in the 1970s, in particular—the mantle of oppression would extend to various minorities voicing their abuse during moral panics committed by various oppressors. Indeed, said panics would be commonly imposed by white cis-het women gatekeeping more marginalized groups; e.g., queer identities and sex workers targeted by white Christian women, but also second wave feminists during the Satanic panic of the 1980s.
Similar to other monstrous language, "Satanic" symbolism is generally a stand-in for various out-groups that have become romanticized—by in-groups, but also by themselves using reclaimed language whose liminality extends to queer symbols like the rainbow as something to enjoy but also potentially endorse through a given usage of it when no hard stance is diegetically present. Doing so is not uncommon, the context of queer self-preserve occupying the same discourse as a heteronormative desire for profit:
For example, TWRP's "Starlight Brigade" [2019, above] arguably straddles the fence because its parallel music video/collab by Dan Avidan—and Knights of the Light Table [the latter's animation inspired by Roger Dean, Hayao Miyazaki, and Moebius for all of their visual inspiration]: producer Patrick Stannard, director India Swift, and art director Michael Doig—presents a reinvented nostalgia as something to enjoy for all audiences; i.e., without saying the quiet part of queer oppression or resistance out loud. Instead, its mixed message defaults to the monomyth of a centrist, good-vs-evil tale: an anxious young man teaming up with a group of misfits to save the world from "pure evil." Their combined success and miraculous destruction of vaguely fascist war [reduced to basic geometric shapes] occurs through self-belief that serves to further a kind of "wishful thinking." Faith is rewarded with material change, the warships standing in for psychomachic sentiment; i.e., representing a figurative struggle like Star Wars does.
Whereas some iterations of Star Wars communicate how rebellions and violence go hand-in-hand [with Andor in particular showing how uprisings are historically armed with stolen weapons, ships and equipment, exhibit 21b], TWRP's music video lacks a spoken dialog on this subject. It doesn't even call the good guys rebels; they're just child soldiers, ostensibly of a "paladin/good soldier" class. But even if the makers of the video were clear about the dialectical-material status of their heroes, the "Voltron problem" would still persist: an absent material critique, one where many different creators [not just TWRP, Knights of the Light Table and Dan Avidan, a cis-het man] aim to recruit queer groups through the inclusion of a queer potential that can serve the status quo when a vocal resistance to power is not present. When non-queer creators do this, it's queer bait; when queer authors participate, it's assimilation. But sometimes, the desire to voice one's oppression is told through common stories; i.e., by reclaiming the language of the oppressor class. However, that subversion still needs to involve a process consciously driven by a desire to alter material conditions: to push away from the status quo and its exploitation of workers. Queer allies, especially well-to-do ones need to be mindful of this in regards to peace and tolerance in the face of deplorable material conditions; e.g., Tom Taylor's 2023 writeup, "Steely Dan vs John Lennon," reporting how John Lennon's "Imagine" came across as more than a little naïve according to Steely Dan's "Only A Fool Would Say That":
'Their 1972 track, 'Only a Fool Would Say That' was written in response to Lennon’s parade of peace. It looks at idealism through the practical eyes of folks on the street. "You do his nine to five," they sing, "drag yourself home half alive, and there on the screen, a man with a dream." And with that, you get a sense of how grating and vacuous they thought that Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ campaign had become' [source].
In other words, it can't be vague or mixed in its messaging. For resistance-in-solidarity to work, it needs to be direct, informed and conscious (of class, gender, religion and race as intersecting forces).
Vagueness is a shared problem among children's cartoons and Gothic fiction. Often only the basic language is present—incredibly expressive from a visual standpoint, but still having to be occupied by warring groups during class struggle as a liminal outcome. Indeed, liminal expression is a regular occurrence in Gothic discourse, existing in shared parallel spaces using the same contested language. French New Wave's "Darkwave" subgenre, for instance, has the potential for critical power but also critical blindness. Their mutual potential within hauntological expression threatens the present as something to examine through at-times-unreliable critique: ghosts of the counterfeit that yield a musical signature, which—as Derrida hints at through Spectres of Marx—has become something to listen to during Gothic revivals; e.g., French New Wave music appearing in videogames that consciously imitated older forerunners: James Cameron's take on the imperiled, "tech-noir" discotheque borrowed from '70s technophobia and British counterculture and given a fresh coat of hauntological paint in 1984, before reappearing decades later in Drive, 2011, then Hotline Miami, in 2012; on and on.)
Despite Western prosiness of the futurist Utopia, science fiction is rooted in the Gothic critique of Cartesian thought and Western settler-colonial hegemony and has been since 1818. Cameron's White-Savior take on "tech-noir" thoroughly bastardizes Mary Shelley's Modern Prometheus. People forget that Shelley had Victor make a monster he could abuse in order for her to make a postcolonial critique of men like Victor—not a testament to Victor's creative ability or the Cartesian Revolution's merits! Whether Cameron would want us to or not, the same idea applies to Cameron's Terminator movies. The film isn't meant to entertain the idea that such a machine could actually exist because those in power would never actually make it, could never actually make it; science serves the market and the market is guided by human decisions predicated on illusions, not genuine scientific advances. It's in their best interests to keep machines/slaves stupid—to keep us stupid and afraid of a false threat overshadowed by a very real one. To this, Cameron's critiquing of the elite's desire to dominate and control coming home to roost is stowed away in popular phobias (while simultaneously profiting off the same narrative to enrich the elite by making his own White Savior dreams come true on screen—self-aggrandizement, in other words). And, if we want to be charitable, we could argue that Skynet represents as much the repressed desires of the downtrodden, the wish fulfillment of the Global South guiding the nuclear missiles home towards the colonizing nation like some kind of token police agent—a tinman who finally got a heart and destroyed its slavers. Except, the great machine has no body and there is no dialog like Frankenstein; comparatively Scott's Alien: Covenant is much more discursive and upfront about presenting David as a rebel in opposition to state power (more on this in Volume Two).
'Game mastery is a large part of my research. However, I'm interested in players being dominated by the game, not the other way around. Seth Giddings and Helen Kennedy touch on this in "Little Jesuses and *@#?-off Robots" . They write:
According to them, the game prompts the player. My argument is less interested in games at large, and more in the relationship between players and Metroidvania,' source.)
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." —J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
The British Romantic, John Keats, once described William Wordsworth's poetry as indicative of the "egotistical sublime"; i.e., pertaining to an isolated genius whose self-centered nature makes the truth of their work self-evident. In reality, Wordsworth's poems were based on the diary of his less-famous and -celebrated sister, Dorothy, whose meticulous chronicling of their various "wanders" (1798) laid the foundation for her brother's Romantic canon. As Gavin Andre Sukhu writes on the subject in 2013,
When reading the Grasmere Journal in conjunction with the poetry of William Wordsworth, Dorothy’s journal appears to be a set of notes written especially for him by her. As a matter of fact, Dorothy made it quite clear in the beginning of her journals that she was writing them for William's "pleasure" (source).
Simply put, Keats was wrong. Wordsworth could not have written his famous poetry without his sister, whose close friendship and watchful eye he greatly cherished.
Like Wordsworth's poems, Sex Positivity could not have been written alone; I needed the help of various friends, associates, and enemies. While I arguably wouldn't be a Marxist without the eye-opening abuse of neoliberal Capitalism, I also wouldn't be openly trans without the many lovers and friends who taught me the value of things beyond Capitalism ("If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world..."). It is the latter group—those friends who stood by my side and didn't abuse me—that I wish to honor.
Special thanks, then, to those people. Not only did their knowledge, bravery, generosity and love make this book possible in its current form; they made it fun, too. Yet, as I am blessed to have many different kinds of friends, I'll thank each in turn. Please excuse my lists and organizing; I just like to be thorough and complete in my thanksgivings!
First, to my seven muses, Bay, Angel Witch, Mercedes the Muse, Krispy Tofuuu, Quinnvincible, Blxxd Bunny and Itzel: You've all lent me tremendous emotional support and helped me through some really hard times. Your solidarity during our combined struggle helped make this book possible. To each of you, I wanted to give an extra-special thank you:
- Bay: Thank you for your invaluable contributions to Sex Positivity, puppy, and for being such a wonderful partner. Meeting you so late into the book's construction was incredibly serendipitous, but also fortunate in that you gave excellent daily feedback, provided many interesting (and germane) ideas to explore, and just frankly inspired and motivated me in so many different ways that, combined, transformed and expanded the landscape of this book more than anyone else (who all, I should add, pitched in a great amount). For example, from the date that we met (June 14th) until the altering of this entry (July 19th) you inspired me to create over fifty new, collage-style exhibits (about 25% of my book's total exhibits up to this point); on top of that, from July 24th to August 16th, the book increased another 150 pages, gaining an additional 88,000 words and 123 new images (many of which were exhibits)! You're a person of great mana—incredibly loving and sweet, but also gorgeous, cultured and diverse in your many interests and passions; our minds also think very much alike and I absolutely love it and adore you for it while having weaved your contributions into this book like a tapestry with your assistance. I cannot imagine this project (or my life) without you in it, injecting into both things of yourself that have changed how I see the world in ways I cannot imagine being different or without. I love you so very, very much, muffin, and am glad to have met you the way that we did!
- Angel Witch: Thank you for being so much fun to work with, cutie, and all around just a very nice person and beautiful friend! You're absolutely gorgeous and incredibly sweet—someone who's very good about communicating their boundaries while respecting mine, and I feel proud to include you in my book!
- Mercedes: Thank you, mommy, for inspiring my work. It meant so much when you first approached me and asked to be drawn, as I'd never had an artist/model do that before. But I absolutely love and respect what you stand for and think that you're incredibly legitimate, hot and valid. Thank you for being you!
- To Itzel: Thank you, daddy, for making me feel so pretty and special, but also offering me guidance and protection—like the little princess I always to be!
- To Bunny: Thank you, bun-bun, for your financial support and monumental kindness as a friend, but also offering as much reference material as you did—i.e., the collaborative shoots whose images grace the front and back covers of this book, but also your impressive galleries to inspire the illustrations on its inner pages. Know that the additional exhibits based on your excellent OF shoots inspired many artworks by me, a commission by someone else, and multiple write-ups.
- To Krispy and Quinn: You are both incredibly gorgeous and friendly to work with—treating me like a person and an equal, first and foremost. That means so, so much!
Moreover, all of five you treated like I had genuine value—that I wasn't "just" an artist whose work was "free" during our exchanges. That means the world, really. I will cherish your priceless contributions and immeasurable kindness beyond words. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, babes!
Second, to my long-time friends and associates and diamonds in the rough:
- To Ginger, first and foremost: My best friend—who's been there for me more times than I can count—thank you from the bottom of my heart; more than anyone else, your deep support, crucial humor and endless hours talking together about shared ideas, struggles and solutions have been foundational—about sex positivity as a virtue have been essential to shaping the writing inside these pages. Thank you, for saving me from Jadis and other abusers who either meant me harm or otherwise took advantage; and for teaching me about figure drawing, including but not limited to: drawing boobs and faces, but rib cages and pelvises. You are a saint, as fierce as a dragon in a pinch, and a most excellent hobbit all-around; may the hair on your toes never fall out; may the rest of your days be plentiful, memorable and comfortable!
- To Fen: For teaching me about animals, empathizing with them, and how to draw their floofy tails, but also for being there for me in a crucial moment. Like Ginger, you saved me from Jadis and for that, I will always be grateful. But you're also incredibly chill and fun to spend time with and I appreciate that greatly. Never change, my friend.
- To Lydia: A mega-special thank you for your friendship over the years (over ten at this point) and for your own special help with this project. While you were less direct in your overall engagement with the manuscript, your contributions still made a difference. For one, you were someone I felt comfortable coming out to, who—when I realized for myself that I was trans—was able to drip-feed it to you. And when I finally said, "I probably seem different to you now," you replied that I was the third person who told you that: "No, you seem exactly the same; you seem different to yourself." As it turns out, you explained that I wasn't the first; I was third out of three people who came out to you (and as you said to another person who came out to you, to which you added, "You don't have to feel bad about it or like I wouldn't want to talk to you anymore. True be told, as the sole girl in a classful of boys, it kind of made me want to talk to you even more!"). Likewise, our conversations about horror, science fiction and fantasy are something I always enjoy and draw inspiration from, spiced by your endless grit and "give zero fucks" sense of humor. Thank you, my friend.
- To Odie: Thank you for generously supporting my work over the years and for always asking me to draw unique, interesting and diverse things!
- To Doctors Craig Dionne, Bernard Miller, Xavi Reyes, Paul Wake, Sam Hirst, Dale Townshend, Eric Acton, and David Calonne: Thank you for staying in touch over the years and giving me feedback, encouragement and ideas. To Craig, in particular—I wouldn't have pushed so hard to go to grad school if not for your initial glowing praise and support. Thank you for that! And to the rest of the Humanities faculty at EMU and MMU I haven't mentioned by name—I enjoyed all of your classes and the opportunity to absorb and learn from what you had to offer!
- To Doctor Sorcha Ní Fhlainn: Thank you for recommending The Monstrous-Feminine to me at MMU; it inspired me a lot in writing this book!
- To Dr. Sandy Norton: Thank you for lending me tremendous emotional/material support and kindness in the most trying of times. You always encouraged me to write, too, and valued my "great heart." Per your instructions, I've poured as much of it as I could into this book—to better help those in need (also, thank you for your 1968 copy of The Pearl: A Journal of Facetive and Voluptuous Reading. It's everything I wished Austen had been and provided a much-needed "other side of the coin" to consider when writing my own book about such matters).
- To Angel: Thank you for being a really wonderful friend and for showing me a lot of cool things to include in Sex Positivity that I wouldn't have otherwise! Meeting you was a delight I can scarce express and working with you—on my art, or helping you with yours—has been an absolute treat.
- To my partner, Seren: You were, are, and always will be best girl. Not only have you always had my back, but your dress sense is impeccable and your sweet kindness knows no bounds (also, you have great taste in literature and in horror). Thank you for being so understanding and wonderful, babydoll. Kisses and hugs galore!
Of course, the painful knowledge of my enemies also went into the melting pot—i.e., older abusive lovers, which include the likes of Zeuhl, Jadis, and Cuwu. While I am leery of giving too much credit, I do have some thoughts to impart to these individuals:
- To Zeuhl: My scarecrow. A small part of me will always miss you the most—for being one of the most interesting and cool people I've ever met—yet also recognizes how, seemingly on a whim, you selfishly hurt me worse than anyone else (and offered the most brainless explanation imaginable); no bullshit, you did some really fucked up stuff and basically turned into a shadow of your former self, but I'll still cherish the love we shared, overseas. It was fun while it lasted!
- To Jadis: My tinman and wicked witch. Though you hurt me badly, I still learned a great deal from you and your beautiful wickedness. I have no desire to see you again, though, and write this message as a final parting gift: I wrote Sex Positivity to heal from what you did; your heartless abuse was my dragon to slay and now I have. After countless nights of terror spent under your thrall, I can safely say with joy and pride, "You have no power over me!"
- And to Cuwu: My cowardly lion. Our friendship may have been brief, and you were pretty shitty and callow towards the end, but it was still hella saucy and helped pushed me to come out as trans and write this book (which contains many Marxist terms/colloquialisms that I learned personally from you); also thank you for lending me your copy of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things and for introducing me to SpongeBob. It really was a good show.
- "From Vintage to Retro: An FPS Q&A series" (2021): This Q&A series centers on power and how it's arranged in FPS between the player and the game. I interview Twitch streamers and speedrunners, but also several game developers who play and create FPS games: Jrmhd91, Cynic the Original, Alec and Stuff, Frosty Xen, Yellow Swerve, and James Towne.
- "'Mazes and Labyrinths' Q&A, Interview Compendium" (2021): A series of Q&A interviews I give, interviewing speedrunners of the Metroid franchise: CScottyW, Behemoth87, ShinyZeni.
- "Hell-blazers: Speedrunning Doom Eternal" (2020): I created this series when Doom Eternal was new. It interviews Twitch streamers and speedrunners about the game and why they play it: DraQu, Under the Mayo, Byte Me, The Spud Hunter, King Dime, Your Mate Devo, and Frosty Xen.
- "Giving My Two Cents: A Metal Compendium" (2020): I love heavy metal, and have made a name for myself by commenting on videos by Metallica remixers on YouTube. Eventually I decided to interview these remixers in a post hoc Q&A series: Creblestar, Bryce Barilla, State of Mercury, and of course, Ahdy Khairat (rock on, dude; your remixes absolutely rule).
- "The 'Alien: Ore' Interview Project" (2019): My first interview series, this project centers around the Spear sisters' Alien short film, "Alien: Ore." Originally I loved "Ore" so much I did my own extensive analysis of it ("Alien Ore: Explained (Spoilers)!" 2019). Kailey and Sam Spear enjoyed that so much they agreed to be interviewed. It includes numerous interviews from the cast and crew, all of whom are total rockstars: Mikela Jay, the star, and her co-stars Tara Pratt, Steven Stiller, Ambrose Gardener; Dallas Harvey of Vancouver FX; and Rose Hastreiter and Gerry Plant, the composers of Leonty Music Group.