This blogpost contains the manifesto for my upcoming book—Sex Positivity vs Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism: Liberating Sex Work under Capitalism through Iconoclastic Art—as well as the disclaimer, table of contents, author's foreword, sample essay, a glossary of additional terms, the acknowledgments and an About the Author section at the very end. I'm hard at work, proofreading the final manuscript. Once the drafting is finalized and the illustrations finished, the entirety of the uncensored book will be posted on my website. Until then, consider this semi-censored portion (see the disclaimer) to be a taste of what's to come!
[I've removed the update log from this page and included it in a new blogpost talking about how the book is coming along. In short, most of the writing is finished and I want to spend the next couple months illustrating it! —Perse, 4/8/2023]
This Marxist-Gothic-genderqueer book examines the various differences between
sex positivity and sex coercion in sexualized media. Specifically, its "Gothic Communism" combines anarcho-Communism, 4th wave feminism with the sharpness of Gothic academic theory, the immediacy of online political discourse, as well as postcolonial and queer theory, ludology, sex education, antifascist sentiment, poetry and a variety of sex worker illustrations/exchanges to holistically examine and combat 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 under late-stage Capitalism.
- canonically enshrine their abuse in hauntological crypts that "incarcerate," "lobotomize," "infantilize" and "incriminate" the public imagination.
- simultaneously condemn sex-positive artists who seek to liberate sex workers through their own iconoclastic praxis.
"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 different version of the disclaimer than the one shown here. —Perse, 2/19/2023]
Regarding This Book Sample's Artistic 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—provided to
them through my age-gated
website—I don't think it 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 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 analysis.
Fair Use: This book is for 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, or as featured on my website with their consent
already from having done past work together).
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).
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, and fascism.
Table of Contents
"I am the table!" —James Hetfield; "The View," on Metallica's Lulu (2011)
[The final version of Sex Positivity will have a summary of the table of contents, which I have removed from this blogpost for the sake of brevity. I've kept the table of contents to give you an idea of what to expect inside the book, however! —Perse, 2/19/2023]
About this Project / Author's Foreword
Handy-Dandy Glossary (of extra, essential terms)
- Marxism and Politics
- Sex/Gender Language, Theory and Politics
- The Gothic, Kink, and BDSM
—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
- The Gist
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
- An Uphill
Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part two: Challenging the State's
Manufactured Consent and Stupidity
Modes, Totalitarianism and Opposing Forces
Postscript: "Healing from Rape"—Addressing
"Corruption," DARVO and Police Abuse with the Pedagogy of the
Gothic Communism, a sample essay: "Cornholing the Corn Lady—Ghostbusters:
Afterlife and Empire"
Catching Our Breath: Summarizing the Manifesto as Something to
Forging Healthy Social-Sexual Habits: A Synthesis Roadmap for Executing Gothic-Communist Praxis in Our Own Daily Lives
Roadmap, part one: The Basics; or Outlining Girl Talk, Menticide, the
Liminal Proposition of Subversive Revolution and "Perceptive"
Roadmap, part two: A Deeper Exhibitionist Look at War (feat. the Basics)
Roadmap, part three: A Deeper Exhibitionist Look at Rape (feat. the
- End of the Road: Concluding the Roadmap
—Volume Two: Monsters—
Demons to the Undead: Learning from the Monstrous Past; or, a Humanities Primer to
Humanize Monsters with
The Undead: Zombies, Vampires and Ghosts
- Bad Dreams; or Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, part 1: Police States, Foreign Atrocities and the Imperial Boomerang
- Bad Dreams; or Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, part 2: Transforming Our Zombie Selves (and Our War-like, Rapacious Toys) by Reflecting on the Wider World through the Rememory Personal Trauma
- Bad Dreams; or Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, part 3: Paralyzing Zombie Warlords with Reverse Abjection, Sex-Positive Hauntologies and Perceptive Zombie Eyeballs
- Eat Me Alive; or Reintroducing Liminal Expression through Undead Feeding Vectors, part 1: A Brief History of Feeding, Queer Love and Vampires
- Seeing Dead People; or Reintroducing Liminal Expression through Undead Feeding Vectors, part 2: Ghosts, the Numinous and Cryptomimesis
Demons: From Composites and the Occult to Totems and the Natural World
- Forbidden Sight and the Promethean Quest, part 1: Making Demons—Composite Bodies, Golems and Mad Science; or the Roots of Enlightenment Persecution
- Forbidden Sight and the Promethean Quest, part 2: Summoning Demons—Imposters and Death Curses; the Demonic BDSM of Canonical Torture vs Exquisite "Torture"
- Down the Rabbit Hole: The Demonic Trifecta of Detectives, Damsels and Derelicts; or Enjoying Yesterday's Exquisite Torture on the Edge of the Civilized World
- Call of the Wild; or Trans-forming the World through the Trans/Non-binary Mode of Being, part 1: "Monster-Fucking" and Totem Demons, feat. Lycans, Chimeras, and Sentient Animals
- Call of the Wild; or Trans-forming the World through the Trans/Non-binary Mode of Being, part 2: "Sex(-Positive) Education," Spells and Drugs, feat. Magic Girls, Unicorns and Xenomorphs
The Future is a Dead Mall; or Reviving the Zombie Future with Proletarian Archaeologies: Revolutionary Cryptonyms that Defy Snobbish Critics of the Gothic
—Volume Three: Proletarian Praxis—
Introduction: Dialectical Materialism (with Monsters)
Before the Plunge: A Dialectical-Material Summation of Gothic
Chapter One: Sex Positivity. "The Seeds of Rebellion"—Sex Positivity and the
Tools of the Trade
Mutual Consent: Empathy
Recognizing And Performing Empathy
- Informed (Ironic) Consumption and De Facto Educators Using Parody and Parallel Space
Abjection: Describing Sexuality vs Prescribing Sexual Modesty
- "Get Nervous!": The Fur(r)tive Rebellion of Body Hair and the "Toxic" Shock of Critical "Trash," Zombie Capitalism, and "Monster Mash" Rock Operas
Chapter Two: Sex Coercion. "Under the Influence"—Sex Coercion under Zombie
Capitalism, Including Bad Drugs and Voluntary Lobotomy
Cops and Victims: Fetishized Witch-Hunters and -Hunted in the Ever-growing
Witch?"—"What is a Witch?" part one: An Example of
Proletarian Witches in The Last of Us (2023)
- Dogma and
Life": Toxic Love and Criminal Sexuality in True Crime
Ambivalence: Canonical Torture in the Internet Age; or Wish Fulfillment, Bad Play and Sex-Coercive Demon BDSM
Chapter Three: Liminality. "A Zone... of Danger!"—Fifty Shades of Gay
- Exquisite Torture in the Internet Age: The Appreciative
Irony of Gothic Iconoclasm; or, the Subversive Power of Good Play and Sex-Positive Demon BDSM during Counterculture Performance Art
Sex, SWERFs and Un(der) paid Sex Work
Course: An Introduction to Asexuality and Demisexuality
in Sex-Centric Canon
Queerness and Ace Potential in Canonical (Fan/Meta)Fiction
Through Sex: Sex Normativity in Popular Media
Power and Crossdressing: Sex Repulsion in Gothic/Queer Narratives
Nudity and Asexual Bodies/Relationships in Art; Gay Artists
Bourgeois "Bad" Education and Discrimination: Patriarchal Hatred
Against Transgenderism, Intersexuality and Drag
- Poison was
the Cure: A Trans Antidote to Canonical Weird Nerds
Phoebe: In the Shadow of the Weird Nerds' Canonical Praxis
Chapter Four: Bad Faith. "Rise, my pretties! Rise!"—TERFs and Other
Flying Monkeys under Neoliberalism, Fascism and Genocide
- A War
Hauntology Primer—"What is a Witch?" part two: Bourgeois Witch
Cops and Minority Witch Cops
Dream: Echoes of Fascism and Zombie Voltron within 1980s Neoliberal War
Got Hostiles!"—Attack of the Bad-Faith Undead: TERF Witches, or
War as Sacred: Sublimated War Pastiche
Activism: More Neoliberal Rhetoric
- Accommodated/Assimilated Minorities, part one: My Story of Trans-on-Trans Violence; or, the Abuse of a Trans Women Sex Worker by AFAB Sex Workers (Cis or Trans)
- Accommodated/Assimilated Minorities, part two: Trans TERFs, NERFs, and Queer Bosses
Chapter Five: Rebellious Subterfuge. "Rise up, comrade zombies!"—Undead Girl Talk in
Action; Its Activism and Consequence
- "Flashing" Those with Power
- "Borrowed Robes": War Booties—A Quick Note About Ironic Appreciation, Liminal Praxis, Parallel Pastiche; Concerning Moe/Ahegao and Jimmi Hendrix' Penis, etc
- Stand to
Fight, then Raise Your Fist and "Bow": Ironic Bosses, Sexy War,
and Gender Irony
Ire: Persecuting Iconoclasts (and Iconoclastic Vice Characters)
Conclusion: "Put da pussy on the chainwax!"—The Beginning of
About the Author
(artist and model, left: Richard Rothwell and Mary Shelley; model, right: Persephone van der Waard)
About this Project / Author's Foreword
"…in assuming [this book] as the basis of a work of fancy, I have not considered myself as merely weaving a series of supernatural terrors. The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. [...] I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the elementary principles of human nature […] The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested in casual conversation."
—Mary Shelley, "Preface to Frankenstein" (1818)
"How did they get the blood out of the cow?" "Did it hurt the cow?" "Where's the cow now?"
—My four-year-old self and identical twin, asking the demo person at my maternal grandfather's work about how the cow's blood got inside their heart-and-lung machine.
Pregnancies are seldom planned. This book isn't just my
little trans demon baby and pure, loving brainchild made with those who
passively or actively contributed to its pages; it's me, a trans woman,
consciously reverse-engineering my own creative process as having been ongoing
for years (thus why I have so many exhibits from my own work—I had already
drawn them years ago). This complex reification has happened in starts and
stops after long nights at the desk, sleeping on my musings and waking afresh
with new epiphanies—to keep things straight in my own head, much like Sarah
Conor kept journals for herself while figuratively and literally giving birth
to rebellion. Through Gothic Communism, we workers can be mothers to the world
that raise good boys and girls, trans persons and enbys—our little class
warriors who bring the struggle and the fight to the streets of Gothic
imagination: an ongoing creative process that uses artistic expression to critique (thus restructure) capital during linguo-material labor exchanges between workers operating in conscious solidarity against the state.
I say "linguo-material" (or socio-material
when stressing the social, interactive components) because language is a natural
feature of humans that distinguishes them socially-sexually from other
species through complicated, Gothic expressions that manifest inside the material
world; i.e., the creation of egregores, but also their sublimation and
subversion during oppositional praxis under Capitalism. In other words, this process is liminal,
meaning both "a threshold to move through," in spatial terms, and
"a conflict on the surface of the image of" in linguistic/ontological
terms (the word can also denote to being "in between," insofar as a
monster is canonical versus iconoclastic—with a particular spatial/personalized
expression moving towards one pole or the other from its de facto starting
point). Our propaganda is iconoclastic sex work that develops
Gothic Communism as the next stage of human development; our sex
work is proletarian praxis, teamworking in opposition to Patriarchal
Capitalism as the historical-material harbinger of death, slavery, war and rape
in whatever form its canon may take—including bad-faith/moderate forms like
tokenism and TERFs, but also liminal gradients on a grand sliding scale of
interrelated pairs during dialectical-material analysis: sex positivity vs sex
coercion, the proletariat (workers) vs the bourgeoisie (the elite), iconoclasm
vs canon, manufactured us-versus-them vs collective worker action/slave
cooperation against a common master. Though often presented as
"discrete" by those in or siding with power, these categories
generally intersect; this book holistically explores these oscillating
intersections in the Gothic mode as a living thing (Capitalism)—with legions of
iconic monsters, castles and perilous scenarios (and so on) that must be
collectively altered into Communism by direct worker action and solidarity
through iconoclastic art playfully geared towards that aim.
We'll get to all of that. Sex Positivity versus Sex Coercion, Or Gothic Communism is not a short book. Funnily enough, it was originally intended as a chapter within my upcoming book, Neoliberal and Fascist Propaganda in Yesterday’s Heroes (which touches on notions of "heroic" body representation in popular American media; the first chapter, "The Promethean Quest and James Cameron's Military Optimism in Metroid," can be viewed here). Over time, Sex Positivity's length ballooned, leading me to treat it as a book unto itself. Alongside its written content, I have also revisited old pieces of my own artwork to feature within, as well as collaborate with various sex worker and model friends to create brand-new artworks for this project. Combined with publicly available sources, this book contains over 500 different images to make its arguments, nearly 200 of which are "exhibit-style" (often two or more images/collages meant to be viewed together to make a larger argument; or one "visual aid" image that I break down in relation to the arguments around it).
Apart from the disclaimer and this foreword, this book takes its time—gradually launching into its complex arguments through concentric, staged roadmaps (imagine a rocket launch into space: This requires multiple stages and "boosters," meaning there's always time to abort the launch if things get hairy). This book, then, is divided into three volumes:
- Volume One holds my glossary, thesis, mission statement, and primary Gothic theories; it explains what they are, why I chose them and how to use them in one's own teaching or leaning approach. This includes a sample essay made for this book, as well as a "synthesis roadmap" for cultivating emotionally and Gothically intelligent social-sexual habits by workers in their daily lives.
- Volume Two is a "Humanities primer" that learns from Capitalism's past by humanizing the monsters normally used to dehumanize workers; it does so by considering the Gothic imagination and its ongoing poiesis as the primary means for achieving proletarian praxis, yet also considers this project as forever unfinished. Each portion contains multiple exhibits of my teaching approach and how I personally would go about achieving successful proletarian praxis—more exhibits than will be in Volume Three.
- Volume Three articulates proletarian praxis—which is synonymous with iconoclasm—as devised from my teaching methods, yielding five chapters for five different variables that proletarian praxis creatively engages with when put into motion by sex-positive workers (with each praxial variable having its own chapter): sex positivity, sex coercion, liminality, bad faith, rebellious subterfuge.
These variables revive past revolutionaries whose rage was anathema, thus buried; now coming to light through us—the current generation—their own forbidden praxis can be imbibed and repurposed by future generations in improvised, informed succession.
However, while my emphasis is on artistic expression through the Gothic mode, there remains elements of dialectical-material realism that I want to convey through this book's academically discouraged content—not just movie quotes, YouTube videos, music lyrics, bad jokes, and (one or two) meme images, but also touches of me as a trans person with an extensive Humanities education. This education includes my formal (read: financially exploited by neoliberal institutions) education: a BA in "English: Language, Literature and Writing" from Eastern Michigan University in 2016 and an MA in "English Studies (the Gothic)" from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2018. However, it also includes my informal education and touches of me: personal anecdotes, "weird sexual metaphors" (as Dr. Christine Neufeld called them regarding my undergrad work), trans epiphanies, British Romantic poems, sexual/gender preferences (with my "type" leaning more towards the femme side of things [for boys] and allowing for a lot more total variety with female/intersex cuties) and just all-around nods to myself and my life's work/(a)sexual-gender exploration in art (especially in Volume One). All of this is delivered in a seminar-like style meant to convey ideas (and people) as works-in-progress relating back and forth over space and time.
Full disclosure: What I explore in this book is
informed by my own kinkster's/artist's bias—my artistic hard limits (scat,
gore, vore, loli, actual rape) intersect with my gender, orientation (demi-pan, polyamorous) and kinks, but also my Gothic writings about these things.
So, while I could easily write an entire book about "male humor" or
literal shit, extreme torture porn and "Male Gothic" abjection, it's not
something I prefer to explore in my own sex work, artwork or writing. Likewise, while I am a "gore
hound" when it comes to horror movies (I once interviewed Vancouver FX for their effects work in
"Alien Ore," 2019, for example), I don't enjoy exhibiting those
things as abjected, then fetishized by capital—e.g., acts of unambiguous rape, but also intensely private things put on display like girls pooping for posterity (this extends
to any sex/gender for me. Gotta yuck that "yum!"). Also, I feel
uncomfortable exhibiting canonical art of
- animal exploitation or abuse (my
stepfather forced me to watch as he killed our pet rabbits in front of my
brothers and I, then cooked and ate them) but also frank depictions of
animal butchery under Capitalism (e.g., Our Daily Bread, 2005,
and its unflinching examination of an ordinary abattoir)
exploitation and fetishization of children and/or persons with physical or
torture porn in general (e.g., A Serbian Film, 2010; Martyrs,
2008; Funny Games, 1997; Kidnapped, 2010)
exploitation films (Nekromantik, 1988)
grotesque; i.e., the "geek show" gross-out exhibit from William
Lindsay Gresham's 1946 novel, Nightmare Alley, or
Katherine Dunn's Geek Love, 1989
I do discuss things like chattel/canonical rape, murder
and psychosexual violence in writing throughout the book, and there's certainly a place for all of these things in iconoclastic art (trauma needs to be
communicated in as many ways as it can). However, as the title might suggest, Sex Positivity is largely about sex positivity as something to replace canonical forms of abuse with; i.e., liminal expressions that lean to towards a survivor's appreciation and healing process away from the status quo. Whether sex-positive or not, monsters are almost always liminal, but their iconoclastic material expression coincides with rape fantasies
and liminal symbols of recovery (fetishes) that abjure state-sanctioned socio-sexual violence. So, while I am versed
in abject sexuality and exploitation regarding the above topics, they also exist
squarely outside my invigilator/creator comfort zone and I will largely not be
visually exhibiting them in my book!
(exhibit 1a: Artist: Mercedes the Muse. They aren't just a stone-cold fox; they're an incredibly passionate and knowledgeable filmmaker and performer when it comes to schlock and camp! Both genres are equally worthy of study and consideration as things to recreate and learn from.)
Of course, I am discussing the Gothic mode in a sex-positive
light; there are some liminal/grey-area exceptions I'll need to make,
exhibit-wise. For example, this book exhibits and analyzes "vanilla"
porn (exhibits 32a/32b) and dozens of sex-positive examples of monster/fetish
porn (too many to easily list, but exhibit 1a, above, or exhibit 16, for
starters). I also exhibit the
problematic moe art style (a child-like
appearance or sexualized children/teenagers in non-erotic media) featured in
neoliberal, American-aligned media like Dragon Ball and Street
Fighter 6 (1986 and 2023, exhibit 104b) but also canonical porn
(exhibit 104c)—albeit as something to be wary of (ahegao is
also examined in the same section as moe, exhibit 104d). There's
also several drawings of naked, pre-pubescent children/teenagers from Robie
Harris and Michael Emberley's 1994 sex-education book for children
ten-and-up, It's Perfectly Normal, exhibits 55 and 90a. Lastly, I
also discuss "tromette" Mercedes the Muse's awesomely schlocky creations
(and other campy monster artists), featuring her in our book's first exhibit,
as well as exhibits 67 and 78; she content is something I'm comfortable recreating
in my own work or exhibiting in this book with her permission (she's also
incredibly sex-positive, which makes working with her a snap).
All-in-all, this book has over 130 exhibits, some of which include liminal examples of sexual media that
ultimately have something to salvage or transmute away from canonical, sex-coercive forms. For our book's second exhibit
(exhibit 1b), here's an example to give you an idea of what you should largely not expect
- abject, gross-out gore—either as an exploitative dissection of the human form, or as eroticized, psychosexual variants (e.g., Phedon Papamichael's 2008 excellent, but hard-to-watch exploitation film, Inside—a movie about a Gothic impostor forcing her husband's killer to have a C-section during an utterly gross scene which makes Alien's "birth scene" look positively ordinary by comparison).
- any bathroom hijinks and overt, aggressive rape scenarios involving animals, disabled people, dead bodies, or "non-consenting" persons (excepting moe and ahegao and some appreciative rape scenarios; i.e., consent-non-consent)
(exhibit 1b: Various
scenes of gore from classic horror movies, as well as abject merchandise and
gory props, aka memento mori: "remember that you [have to] die." Most are
shots of the 2018 Halloween or screencaps from Alien, 1979, middle
strip; however, the far-mid-left shot of Reagan from The Exorcist, 1973,
from EllimacsSFX. Such Gothic craftsmanship tends to form a tradition of
recreating death and disgusting things, but also female vulnerability through
the Male Gaze—with the bathroom not simply being a place of abject activities
like taking a shit, but also a place of vulnerability where one's pants/panties
are literally down: easy pickings/the sitting duck. These abject exhibitions have been canonized by male Pygmalions
like Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock, who both made careers out of needlessly terrifying/torturing women—so much so that after 180+ takes on The Shining  Shelley Duval became a decades-long recluse, only returning to break the silence in the 2020s [the same "tortured saint" effect happened to Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, being tortured on the set of The Abyss, 1989; but also Maria Falconetti being forced to kneel for hours on stone for The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928; and taken to awful diegetic extremes with the aforementioned Martyrs]. These Pygmalions also tended to take the mastery of suspense away from earlier
female examples, like suspense girl-wizard, Ann Radcliffe.)
In other words, Sex Positivity is my "total codex." It compiles the Humanities as I know them through the work I've done with other people, my comrades and how I wish to cite ideas to them or from them to future comrades without too much academic de rigueur or straight-up torture porn. As an international MA who tried her best to combine two different schools of thought into her own unique ideas, I find the notion of academic citation (and dealing with image copyright issues through official publishers) frankly traumatic. Having had four or five different citation methods foisted onto me in grad school, and being fairly certain MLA will mean absolutely nothing to a non-academic audience, I've decided to drop citations. Just hyperlinks in an ordinary book that contains extraordinary ideas; a broad, holistic understanding of the Gothic and its modular components (no offense to you specialists out there, but I prefer to hybridize my monsters; that's how natural language and the material world do it, but also what I think works best as a teaching device—a flexible "monster mode"). Also: pictures, lots of those—with as many links to the artists as I can supply (barring the odd example when an original source remains elusive, which I will comment on).
Sex Positivity invokes things that I have grappled with for many years. Monsters, Satanism, Romantic poetry and sex/gender fluidity have interested me since childhood (my lullaby as a child was Coleridge's "Kublai Kahn"); Marxism has since undergrad; chronotopes, hauntology and cryptonymy have since grad school. None are easy to understand; I've written about them over and over to try and understand how they coexist inside a material world. Now, this book—as an extension of my general approach to life—is shining a holistic, liminal flashlight on old things that evolve to survive Capitalism operating as intended, defending itself through neoliberalism/fascism; war, rape, national subterfuge, etc. Trans/non-binary people are not new, nor are our struggles; nor are the struggles of cis-women, people of color, and other ethnic minorities, and the struggles of all workers intersecting and interacting back and forth under Capitalism. We have always been people and Capitalism has always exploited us according to how it deems us useful/not useful, thus superior/inferior inside the colonial binary and its heteronormative rubric/moderately normative offshoots.
Sex Positivity illustrates this complex reality through what I've learned, reassembling it for you as a kind of monster compilation to play around with. As you play, experiment and learn, think about your own modes of monstrous self-expression and what you put back into the world: your poiesis and creative successes. In the end, we're all defined by what we leave behind. Wherever you and this book meet, know that you're looking into our stories and seeing our struggles to create during our own short lives. Don't be afraid to try its ideas out for yourself. You'll never know what you might learn about yourself in the process, or who you might befriend along the way. And even if a relationship doesn't last forever or changes into something different, the memories of what it was will long outlast us as we leave them behind for others to find on their own paths through life:
Bottom: Persephone van der Waard in grad school with a Mancunian cutie—once lovers and friends, but now just a memory. Said cutie wishes to remain anonymous, so I have decided to call them Zeuhl after the obscure-but-totally-awesome music subgenre. Magma rules!)
Though written for a holistic audience (with an emphasis on non-academia/non-accommodated intellectuals), my book has still had to alter or simplify academic language, terms and theories by combining them with everyday language. It also deals with groups who frequently employ obscurantism—often through general/Gothic cryptonyms (words that hide—more on this in the manifesto when we go over our main Gothic theories), used in bad-faith to control others through sexualized and gendered language that isolate the mind (with isolation being a predator's tactic). Therefore, I want to provide some additional specialized terms before delving into our book's manifesto.
[For this writing sample, I have moved the glossary to the end of the blogpost, after the manifesto and sample essay. —Perse, 2/19/2023]
Volume One: Gothic (Gay-Anarcho) Communism
Preface: Anarcho-Communism and Cultivating Emotional Intelligence through a Sex-Positive Gothic Mode
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is morning to be good on?"
—Gandalf, The Hobbit (1937)
"You know nothing, Jon Snow."
—Ygritte, A Storm of Swords (2000)
This book 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.
The Communist aims of this book are
anarcho-Communist in scope—a combination of Communism and anarchism (there are other
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
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).
In other words, there's to be no cults of personality nominally declaring themselves "Communists" or "National Socialists" in Gothic Communism, nor genocidal great leaders nor pyramid schemes; no Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Stalin,
Bill Gates, American executives, or their bloody giant footprints; also, no venerate, accommodated copycats of various "fathers of [insert academic field, here]" like Jacques Derrida and his god-awful prose (ditch said dreck, but keep his genuinely productive and useful Deconstructionist ideas; e.g., "There is no transcendental signified" [obviously paraphrased, because
Derrida couldn't write a straightforward sentence to save his life] from his 1966 essay, "Structure, Sign and Play") nor the post-Freudians who followed in Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung's footsteps only to have their psychoanalytical models updated
by the likes of Slavoj Žižek and Jordan Peterson alike, either man presented as annoyingly sacred and lame (to be fair, Žižek can actually be a lot fun, but
he's still not Marxist enough for my taste).
The idea of Gothic Communism is to avoid the Foucauldian "torture loop" of a hauntologized, abject disgust mill; i.e., the expectation of medieval, rapey violence post-deconstruction, but also the chickenshit, exploitative power imbalances in academic circles: Simone Beauvoir hooking up Jean-Paul Sartre, but the two working as a team to routinely "deflower" a (much) younger third:
'It has to be said that Beauvoir's interest in these matters was not purely theoretical (in fact, it is hard to conceive of any philosopher's thoughts being purely theoretical). As a diligent investigator, I am obliged to say that she was dismissed from her teaching job in 1943 for "behavior leading to the corruption of a minor." The minor in question was one of her pupils at a Paris lycée. It is well established that she and Jean-Paul Sartre developed a pattern, which they called the "trio," in which Beauvoir would seduce her students and then pass them on to Sartre. (See, for example, "A Disgraceful Affair," by Bianca Lamblin, in which she recalls being infatuated with Beauvoir, but romanced systematically by Sartre, who cheerfully remarks, on the way to a consummation, that "the hotel chambermaid will be really surprised, because she caught me taking another girl's virginity only yesterday.")
Beauvoir's "Lolita Syndrome" (her personal favorite, she said, among her essays) offers an evangelical defence of the sexual emancipation of the young' (source).
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 self-confessed and seemingly innocent
chasing of cute boys his entire academic career (the twink-in-peril, re:
Cooper) to Edmund White:
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
seemingly innocent until you learn about his predatory
sex tourism, desire
to abolish age of consent laws in
France, and what James Miller calls an addiction to self-destruction and sadomasochist sex (the coercive sort). Likewise,
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
For us and Gothic Communism, worker safety is sacred
and supersedes anyone who came before: Milton was patriarchal,
Marx wasn't a Gothicist (certainly not by current, iconoclastic
standards, anyways), Oscar
Wilde was anti-Semitic, Simone Beauvoir was cis-supremacist ("woman is
other"), Lovecraft was mega-racist, George Orwell was anti-Communist
(despite knowing virtually knowing about Russia and the USSR) and a fascist
apologist, renowned geneticist Richard Dawkins is
a eugenics/rape apologist, Noam Chomsky
had ties to then-outed pedophile and sex trafficker, Jeffery Epstein; etc. 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" (1994).
Their combined, "sacred" memory 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. 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 Mieville; 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 opposition to bourgeois praxis and state propaganda's heteronormative
canon—i.e., to "rewire" a fundamentally bourgeois Superstructure
through synthetic transmutation of said canon, affecting the Base
(redistribution) as time goes on. Both concepts 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 directly through our own sex-positive, iconoclastic poiesis—to
liberate ourselves through a proletarian Gothic imagination. Though
proletarian, sex-positivity comes out of an abject past fraught with
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—iconoclastic poiesis intended
to make workers more emotionally/Gothically intelligent and sex-positive, 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 study of monsters across the Gothic mode over space and time.
Apart from Volume One, which contains 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. 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 poiesis: ironically casual
performers in fantastical outfits and half-real scenarios, including
videogame fan art that shows famous protagonists having ordinary erotic
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, formal/informal
Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with the Gothic, ludic/queer theory
and/or Marxist thought (and the terms in the 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
For first-time readers, this book is meant to be read
in order. I recommend starting here (after reading the glossary) and
familiarizing yourself with the manifesto's iconoclastic ideas, visual aids and various guides, signposts and roadmaps.
Then, once you comprehensively understand what Gothic 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 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).
"It's Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This!"—A Gothic Communist's Manifesto
"I have reached the conclusion [...] that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."
—Potter Stewart, Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964)
This is our revolution's manifesto. It's 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.
"But Louis B. Meyer wouldn't be Goebbels' proper opposite number. I believe Goebbels sees himself as David O. Selznick."
—Lt. Archie Hicox and Winston Churchill, Inglourious Basterds (2009)
For centuries, Gothic stories (and older, dated psychoanalytical models) have warned of vast, indistinct dangers at once seemingly removed from everyday life yet at the same time frighteningly relatable and close. I argue this division stems from Capitalism, whose elusive, illusory exploitation of sex workers damages the cultural mind, but also its artistic output as something to relate and respond to. In turn, this has a wide range of far-reaching effects in the material world felt through the Gothic imagination: "Something is rotten in Denmark!" This manifesto marks the start of an active countercultural process, articulating sex-positive activism and education in a series of vital things (in the following order): the mission of Gothic Communism; its goals, theories, mode of expression (the means and materials of production: monsters, lairs, hermeneutics—the means of study—phobias, and mediums) and creative praxis. Note: While all these devices are central to iconoclastic poiesis, we'll
need to cover them first before we can delve into poiesis as something to understand in Volume Two, then apply through our own work in Volume Three. Understanding poiesis, pre-application, will be covered at
length in the Humanities primer (even
so, remember that poiesis is functionally synonymous with
oppositional praxis, including iconoclasm and canon, which we will cover
in the manifesto).
Also, it's frankly a bitch how intersectional these concepts are! However, I've tried to write them in such a way that you can get the gist of certain points before I get around to explaining them in detail. And since creative/oppositional praxis is last, I'll give a little extra information up front: While bourgeois and proletarian praxis function in opposition for/against the state and its heteronormative propaganda, proletarian praxis is something to synthesize (recultivate the Superstructure) in ways that redistribute power and wealth in horizontal ways and encourage degrowth in favor of stability and worker rights while also doing away with vertical authorities outright. The basic concept involves "creative successes" during oppositional praxis, synthesized into proletarian forms within our daily lives as workers. Proletarian praxis goes something like this: the sensing and illustrating of mutual consent, descriptive sexuality and cultural appreciation through informed consumption and ironic performance, including sex-positive fetishes, kinks, BDSM and Gothic sensations as reverse-abject, emancipatorily hauntological, Communist-chronotopic (the iconoclastic parallel space) and revolutionarily cryptonymic (all of which we'll explore much more in-depth in Volume Three). —Perse
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 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):
Of the Six Doubles, these divide into two lists of three: the "Three Canonical Doubles" of Capitalism and bourgeois praxis; and the "Three Iconoclastic Doubles" of Gothic Communism of proletariat praxis (all shown in descending order):
- the Six Gothic-Marxist goals of Gothic Communism (the Six Rs)
- the Four Gothic academic theories (the Four Gs)
- the Hermeneutic Gothic-Communist Quadfecta
- the Six Doubles of Creative/Oppositional Praxis
- sex coercion
- sex positivity
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 fully until
nearly the end of the manifesto. 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 entire
rest of this book.
So, now that we have our two 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.
The "succulent" six goals/Gothic-Marxist tenets of Gothic Communism, then, are as follows:
- Re-claim. Seize Gothic art as the means of emotional 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 of 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).
- Re-union/-discover/-turn. Reunite people with their alienated, alienizing bodies, language, labor, sexualities, genders, pasts and emotions in sex-positive, re-humanizing 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 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, in other words) that fight for conditional love and informed, set boundaries during social-sexual exchanges: conditional offers and mutually agreed-upon deals—not unconditional, coercive love compelled by pro-state abusers. This doesn't just apply to getting into schools like MMU University (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; don't be afraid to impose them, 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 endorse cheap canonical "junk food" by re-inspecting
them with a readiness to critique; 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 forms of
transformative play (source).
I call these tenets the Six Rs, or six things to reclaim from Capitalism through the Gothic imagination. Underpinning these tenets are four central Gothic theories, the Four Gs:
- Re-produce/-lease. To disseminate these tenets through worker-made sex-positive lessons centered around the production of communal emotional intelligence as a means of transforming the material world and, by extension, the social-material-natural world for the better.
- 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 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, both the focus of my master's thesis, "Lost in Necropolis: The Continuation of Castle-Narrative beyond the Novel or Cinema, and into Metroidvania," 2018, but also my independent research since writing it: "Mazes and Labyrinths: Disempowerment in Metroidvania and Survival Horror," 2021). Canonical examples include
various "forbidden zones," full of canonical monsters—re:
standard/canonical 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, 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., movement through the Gothic space.
- Hauntology: 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 (2001), 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 (source). The concept would 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 (source, Stuart Mills, on Fischer's hauntology of culture, Capitalism, and
acid Communism): In Fischer's own words, "It is easier to imagine the end of the
world than the end of Capitalism." 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 social-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 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: 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,
phobias, etc; you can kill those. In my own work about the neoliberal Promethean Quest, 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 (the reasons for which we'll unpack during the Humanities primer).
Unlike the Gothic mode—which tells of legendary things (undead/demonic monsters or places) with, as or within Gothic media as things to perform, create, or imagine/reimagine, wear, inhabit, occupy or pass through (we'll explore all of these variants in this volume)—Gothic theory explains the process behind all of this as it's going on, has gone on, will go on. Guided by these theories, then, the re-education of sex worker emotions achieves the Six Rs through instructed critical analysis of sexualized art; be it their own, someone else's, or something to become, its sex-positive lessons are designed to teach emotional intelligence through a Gothic "monster mode" whose cultural imagination, when used in an iconoclastic sense, becomes a vulgar display of power in defiance of the state.
Once materialized, iconoclastic displays can reopen worker minds that, once open, fluently drink up good information like a thirsty sponge and leave bad information out while nevertheless remaining aware of it (a bit like Drake). This results in creative, proletarian-praxial displays—and those who prepare and make them—that offset their bourgeois counterparts to engender emotional/Gothic intelligence in regards to canonical monsters as already being historical-material outcomes in this sense. Our aim as Gothic Communists is to foster proletarian iconoclasm:
- 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
The Gothic-Communist goal, then, is to reverse-abject the re-remembered past away from the Western tradition. Though ostensibly "superior," the West is actually Promethean—not simply exploitative, but historically doomed to fail and repeat its Icarian mistakes to the continued detriment of workers. Eventually the owner class will die, too; it just takes longer. As they burn everyone around them like fuel, the earth is reduced to a sprawling necropolis of ashes and bones—all to glut the bourgeois like vampires. Fuck that.
Fear not the Fall of Rome; look forward to its ideological transformation. Canonical Rome absolutely sucks ass/is not to be trusted. For one, Rome is, by modern standards, hauntologized (utterly fake). The original lasted for centuries in various forms, but was effectively a city-state; nation-states, by comparison, emerged during the Renaissance's formation of national identities, followed by the Enlightenment's settler-colonialism appealing to the hauntology of "Rome" as unified—one nation, one army under "God," or some other vertical bourgeois authority (secular or religious). Nation-states normalize Imperialism, thus genocide, rape, war and worker exploitation. They compel sexual reproduction through heteronormative, amatonormative, afronormative, and queernormative lenses, etc—are built on a colonial binary that that yields an Imperial, binary flavor in everyday language: good vs evil, black vs white, us vs them, "the creation of sexual difference" by Luce Irigaray and so on. This binary is remediated through national Western glory as something to synthesize through pro-state propaganda, which has a "trident" of bourgeois trifectas
with a neoliberal "handle": infinite growth, efficient profit (meaning value through exploitation, regardless if it is ethical or materially stable) and worker/owner division as disseminated through the three bourgeois trifectas.
We'll explore all of these next.
The Nation-State: Remediating Modern-day "Rome" and the Bourgeois Trifectas
"I have seen much of the rest of the world; it is cruel, brutal and dark! Rome is the light!"
"And yet you have never been there! You have not seen what it has become!"
—Maximus Decimus Meridius and Marcus Aurelius, Gladiator (2000)
Rome is built on conquest, war, profit. Before we proceed into canonical "Rome" and its remediation, however, be forewarned: Capitalism is a hyperobject, a structure so big that you can't directly observe it, and whose descriptions through ultimately simplistic metaphors are abstracting at best (for more information on hyperobjects, consider Timothy Morton's 2013 book on the subject). You can only talk about Capitalism in pieces, from a particular point of view about something you yourself disinterred and reassembled. Needless to say, the point of Communist abstraction isn't abject confusion, nor is it to pull something out of thin air. Rather, it's meant to achieve altered perspective for enhanced appreciation of truths concealed by capital (that aren't tied to "having an obvious point or purpose—i.e., a monetary value/function—under Capitalism)—financially incentivized to vanish by virtue of workers' "ordinary" perspectives; i.e., what they are meant to see by those in power showing it to them through the means of production and bourgeois propaganda. To challenge those illusions, it's less about saying random "magic words" (and hoping for the best) and more about combining the correct way to achieve the desired effect—like Bill Watterson deliberately does in exhibit 6 (a far less commercially-minded but more thought-provoking man than Jim Davis, let's be frank; though Garfield is definitely Gothic): (exhibit 6: Artist, left: Bill Watterson; right: Jim Davis. I read both as a little girl and loved each for different reasons. The joke of "07/27/1978" being that Garfield is blank parody; it's normally empty of critical thought and requires someone else to do the work, but even then the results are generally a farce. Intentional or not, both authors—when their works when dialectically-materially examined—offer something about our material world that we, as Gothic Communisms, can learn from and pass along to the next generation.)
You're also aiming at a moving target when critiquing capital; Capitalism is alive and evolving on many different registers—a hopelessly complex assemblage of material and natural objects, but also schools of thought about these things. This includes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, as well as the many allies and traitors to class warfare through a working class joined with/pitted against neoliberals, fascists and gradients of these things. All of them interact back and forth in real time over space and time more broadly. Likewise, they are conveyed through the material world as a displaced, Gothic commentary on the present as informed by the past that leads into itself, over and over. Things can get complicated, fast, and in such a garden of the forking paths, there's no way to cover everything. Instead, I will do my best to cover the constant factors whose incessant remediation fosters an ocean of plethoras: artistic creations with a Gothic flavor inside Marx's notion of dialectical-materiality. Specifically defined by Jane Bennett in Vibrant Matter, 2010, "as economic structures and exchanges that lead to many other events," I contend historical-materiality involves workers' constant relations to inanimate things between the natural and material world as "come alive" through cultural synthesis and artistic expression: the gargoyle (synonymous, for our purposes, with the egregore).
Please note: The sensation "it's like this, but different" will occur regularly throughout this book. Identify these constants as part of a larger system whose fragmented/oscillating variables indicate glacial systemic change within the whole over time—for or against the status quo as it presently exists: for or against bourgeois hegemony. I've done my best to connect the dots in a plethora of interconnecting/synonymous ways, but it would be foolish (and completely impossible) to try and connect them all. That's not the point. Rather, take this book as a manual of completed and half-completed sex-positive thoughts. Pursue what I have pursued to your own sex-positive conclusions and archaeologies that make the world into something immeasurably better—improved far beyond whatever the elite ever have in civilized history "to the last syllable of recorded time." —Perse
We'll cover these pesky gargoyles' synthetic role during the synthesis roadmap. When addressing Capitalism and its nation-state/corporate canon, we first need to recognize that both use linguo-material implements (language being a natural feature of humans that distinguishes them socially from other species inside the material world) that are inherently deceptive. For one, they sublimate violence through canonical praxis, leading to a fatal cycle of historical materialism tied to a Promethean oscillation between neoliberalism (a return to market freedom through state power, personal responsibility and austerity politics) and fascism (a fracturing of the state bureaucracy—but not its elimination—during Capitalism-in-crisis/decay through brutal strangleholds on information, power, and human rights). These twin fractals are not democracy manifest; they're Capitalism as an inherently unstable structure built around vertical power, whose construction leads to global instabilities within itself and among its splintered bodies. This regenerates an Imperial cycle where power remains at the top, while workers are exhausted, exploited and exterminated at slower or faster speeds. The operation of Capitalism through the state-corporate apparatus requires varying degrees of bourgeoise manufacture, subterfuge and coercion—ideological, franchised, canonical "junk food" that children acquire (from Noam Chomsky's linguistic theories of the LAD—the language acquisition device—and universal grammar) and infantilized adults must unlearn. For our purposes, it's better to get 'em while their young.
To that, our stated aim as anarcho-Communists is to iconoclastically rewire (synthesize) the Superstructure's (exhibit 2) bourgeois coding: what it feeds workers. The elite own the means of production, thus can corner the market of fear—its supply and demand, but also people as the product: the good (centrists), the bad (Nazis) and the ugly (states of exception) within the orderly operation that is neoliberal Capitalism (which recuperates fascism and genocide). To sublimate Imperialism as Capitalism's highest order, the elite have made Capitalism as cheap as humanly possible—have made "Rome's" remediation cheap. In bourgeois terms, if something is cheap or even free, we're the product. This coding calls for a particular kind of propaganda: heteronormative canon—a "junk food" made by state-corporate bodies, but also tied to a "trident" of trifectas: linguo-material strategies used by the bourgeoisie; i.e., the men behind the curtain standing "behind" us, pulling our strings like a banal wendigo. Their canon becomes what we predominantly experience all around us—as we consume what we see, eat, fuck, embody and fear, etc.
The first bourgeois trifecta is the manufacture trifecta:
- 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, 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
Through the manufacture trifecta, neoliberals appropriate peril using economically "correct" forms, socializing blame and privatizing profit, accolades, and education as things to normalize the way that neoliberals decide; it's about control through the Base as something to leverage against workers through bourgeois propaganda: "War and rape are common, essential parts of our world; post-scarcity (and sex-positive monsters, BDSM, kink, etc) is a myth!" Fascists de-sublimate peril in incorrect forms, going "mask-off" yet still performing their own elaborate strategies of misdirection in defense of the status quo. Decay and crisis are built into Capitalism and the nation-state model; they are inherently unstable and lead to war and rape on a wide scale, but also politically correct/incorrect language like "extreme prejudice" and "military incidents" (as God-Emperor Hiro Hito did to avoid an international incident during his own false flag operation into Manchuria) but also other manipulation tactics used by pro-state defenders and class traitors secretly wishing to make war, but also rape and exploit workers like chattel—not achieve genuine worker liberation and sex positivity through iconoclastic praxis.
The second bourgeois trifecta is the subterfuge/deception trifecta
- displacement (conceal or dislocate the problem)
- disassociation (hide from the problem)
- dissemination (spread these bourgeois practices through heteronormative canon)
through which neoliberals maintain the status quo by sublimating genocide, rape and war through fascists as theatrical heels, appropriating nation pastiche as useful to them: "Get strong and fight the enemy" like a soldier would do, training all their life for one moment of overcoming adversity (not to be confused with fairness, which atheists like Rationality Rules use when attacking trans athletes)—to be the best/defend one's "throne" in ranked contests of martial strength; i.e., the Z Fighters from DBZ (or its frankly jaw-dropping* fan animations) or He-Man, Lion-O, and their respective friends (corporatized war clones). Good war and sacrifice are valorized through the veneer of freedom, equality and justice—the façade of American Liberalism and its endless platitudes (truth, justice; John Locke's life, liberty and pursuit of property, etc) and canonical praxis as automated (with AI "art" being a similar approach to automation** abuse that makes bourgeois-minded workers stupid, but also expendable in regards to labor as something to cheaply replicate and consume). 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. *Fan animations, unlike canonical works, tend to reject efficient profit. For that, compare this DBZ fan project to the animation and Art in Dragon Ball Super. Night-and-day difference! **Automation can be tailored towards Communism and its development, but the means of production must still be geared towards horizontal arrangements of power and wealth that don't automatically reduce everything to soulless privatization. Divorced from empathy and nature and workers-as-people, the paradox of automated art is it quickly becomes worthless—even to capitalists—if viewed in bulk; there needs to be a human worker to manipulate and appeal to by other humans in ways that don't flood the market with inhuman, hopelessly cheap fakeries. The unchecked flood gives Capitalism away (what the kids call "self-reporting"). Work, in artistic terms, is human labor, which gives art its value for Communists to defend and for Capitalists to exploit (the labor theory of value versus the monetary theory of value). "Tech bros," however, defend Capitalism by seeing value in exploitation (efficient profit), not labor as valuable through its human relationship to the natural-material world; they see themselves as "free" and other workers as slaves, having bought into the illusion that, by turning their assimilation-fantasy thinking over to machines, tech bros have successfully liberated themselves from the working class (the illusion of the middle class). Quite the opposite; those tech bros worship as gods (the bourgeoisie, billionaires) have trained them to police the other workers around them, but especially the rebellious ones.
To outwit and outlast bourgeois workers, revolutionary workers must be game and clever—"smarter than the panther" in ways that scare the bourgeoisie and their proponents by subversively altering bourgeois propaganda; e.g., the education, iconography and bad play stemming from various transmuted "thirst traps" (exhibit 7a-8c; also, the furry "mod bod," exhibit 66).
A note about "good/bad" in Gothic BDSM language: To be dialectical-material throughout this book, I will be consciously referring to bad/good monsters, witches, education, food, parentage et al as bourgeois/proletarian (or canonical/iconoclastic). This being said, while the qualifier "good/bad" can become incredibly obfuscating during oppositional praxis, "bourgeois play" also sounds incredibly funny and terrifying to me in BDSM parlance. To preserve my sanity I'll stick to bad/good play whenever broaching that subject, as it frankly rolls off the tongue better (and fits with the BDSM idea of shame and praise—e.g., "good girl, bad girl!" etc). Praise and intimacy don't have to be sexual at all; heteronormative canon automatically and coercively sexualizes everything in sexually dimorphic, incredibly abusive/sublimated ways. Despite the binarized roles in BDSM, iconoclastic praise reduces stress for both sides (e.g., me saying "good girl!" to my computer when it doesn't crash as I write this book). —Perse
Left: Evil Lyn from He-Man: Revelations  or Carmilla from
Netflix's Castlevania ; middle, artist: Persephone van der Waard; right: Autumn Ivy. Featured
bottom-left and mid-right and bottom-right are the late-1800s strongwomen, Katie Brumbach
and Laverie Vallee. Similar to rock/porn stars 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, "for a long time, unusually strong women
were regarded as aberrant curiosities, described with wonder in the same breath
as bearded ladies and living skeletons." They were literally circus acts—magnetic
ones that, Kellem continues, " not only destabilized the white-male basis
of physical culture, it challenged popular ideas about female ability, all
while showing a discomfiting amount of skin and startling muscle mass." Meanwhile, the likes of Eugen Sandow would represent an "imaginary
antiquity" that suspiciously came with the rippling muscles of a hauntological
past—a historically sexist tradition carried forward by "Pygmalions"
like Conan author, Ron Howard, and famous Conan illustrator, Frank Frazetta.
Famously Frazetta started his career in 1944, a time when readily-available
synthetic steroids did not exist. Women, at this point, had been largely been
excluded from professional sports; the subsequent 20th century domination of
weightlifting and bodybuilding through the weaponization of science against
women [and later, against trans people by gentrifying cis-women against them;
re: Rationality Rules vs trans athletes]
occurred specifically through the
systemic and escalating abuse of steroids in these sports while pointedly excluding marginalized groups from participating.
way to look at this shift towards sexual dimorphism in sports was the
enforcement of a specific, idealized body image perpetrated through an abuse of
technology—specifically medicine—to maintain the status quo. Steroids were
originally devised to assist the elderly and the injured, whereas puberty
blockers were originally designed for cis children. Eventually the queer
community coopted blockers to assist themselves, whereas the Patriarchy fought
this measure by demonizing them; the same establishment also coopted hormones to
keep cis-het, white men in the most lucrative positions, while also reinforcing
those positions under Capitalism to benefit the elite through a homogenized,
hauntological male image of strength; i.e., a return to the reimagined past.)
Before we get to the third-and-final bourgeois trifecta, a note about "thirst traps." Thirst traps are canonically scapegoated—punished categorically for being bad girls; e.g., Carmilla and Striga (exhibit 7a). Both characters' shows queer-bait some actually-interesting (non-heteronormative) "mommy dom" archetypes—the Gothic Amazon mom and vampire dominatrix—before putting Pandora back in her box. Netflix forces Carmilla to commit suicide (a bury your gays sendoff with lots of fireworks) and shames Evil Lyn for her own "insane" desire to move past the universe as founded on really-boring centrist muscle-dudes duking it out for eternity in Eternia: nation pastiche dressed up as displaced good-vs-evil fantasy narratives. All the same, working out these narratives in transmutive ways must work within colonized material and factionalized workers. This process doesn't always "work out." For example, I once drew Autumn Ivy as Striga from Castlevania (exhibit 7a, left). This is a complicated process. For starters, Striga is actually a pretty fascist character in the show's canon—a black knight carving up "livestock" with her stupidly giant sword as a member of the ruling elite, but also hauntologically reimagined Eastern Europe being threatened by crazy vampire moms from an older made-up empire—by extension, threatening the West in the process. All-in-all, Striga is thoroughly colonized—a fascist scapegoat made to ideologically defend Patriarchal Capitalism inside a neoliberal production: "Feminists are age-old hypocrites." Even so, I think the idea of Striga—as something to transmute into sex-positive forms—is an entirely hot and noble endeavor. Abjuring Capitalism in favor of anarcho-Communism is sexy because it liberates workers from the same old canonical legends of control that present "uppity bitches" as monsters—i.e., before William Marsden wrote Wonder Woman, thereby transmuting the canonical Amazon into a sex-positive force (an iconoclastic concept I've explored in my own graduate/post-graduate work). To usher Marsden into the present-day struggle of Gothic-Communist development, I based Striga off one of Autumn's publicly available shoot images (exhibit 7a, right). Despite me being a trans woman/anarcho-Communist and Autumn a non-binary content creator, we didn't exactly "get along." Specifically Autumn prefers not being called a sex worker despite having an Only Fans full of thirst-trap materials (which, I totally get, but also, you're still doing sex work, my dude). I don't advertise this about Autumn out of spite—none of my galleries make note of them doing sex work—but this book is educational for purposes of artistic critique and intends to highlight the factionalized complexities of these kinds of arrangements "in the wild." Autumn, for example, was only too happy to take my patronage, but also told tell me exactly how to advertise them in my own fan art galleries. I can understand not wanting to be called a sex worker because sex workers are discriminated against; all the same, it felt a bit over-controlling and SWERF-y of them towards me as a trans sex worker/artist—me, being pushed around by another marginalized sexualized worker in the LGBTQ community who not only does sex work by my book (fucking literally in this case), but also isn't exactly hurting financially (owns horses and uses them to sell their own merchandise) and is thirst-trapping to gym bros with "Amazon/gym mom" gun porn (see the eroticized loading of the "love gun"; exhibit 7b, below). Like, you do you, boo, but maybe respect me a little more as a fellow oppressed worker?
*Settler colonialism, whether American or not, goes hand-in-hand with romanticized, but also fetishized weapons (the fascist cult of machismo/weapons). For a melee variant, consider the straight-up TERF queen/war boss, Odessa Stone from Overwatch (2016), which we'll explore in Volume Three, Chapter Four.
Anyways, Autumn was actually pretty awful to work with; they and I eventually fought about it and haven't engaged with one another since, which is fine—like, whatever—but pulverized solidarity/idiosyncratic stupidity from them (in the Marxist sense of privatized labor, whose gradients we'll go over in another section of the manifesto) is what it is. Not exactly the fairytale ending or the beginning of a beautiful friendship (not that I wanted to be more than two workers working together, not against one another). I could go on, but will choose to leave it at that. However, we will explore this kind of dialectical tension in other workers and their praxis throughout the manifesto and rest of the book.
Keeping "girl boss" in mind, let's move onto the third bourgeois trifecta—the coercion trifecta (defined in the glossary):
This trifecta is used more liberally by neoliberals, as fascists tend to default to brute force. However, deception and lies—namely fear and dogma—are commonplace under fascism, as are token minorities (though these will disappear as rot sets in).
As anarcho-Communists, our aim is deprivatization and degrowth—not to abolish everything outright, but move consumption habits gradually away from the neoliberal "Holy Trinity" within Capitalism's fiscal end goals: infinite growth, efficient profit and worker/owner division as disseminated through the three bourgeois trifectas. Rejecting all of these, Capitalism becomes something to transmute, proceeding into Socialism and finally anarcho-Communism. To stand against the bourgeois is to resist their trifectas/financial end goals, thus "stand against "Rome." However, like Rome itself, even that activity is far more complicated than it initially appears. The basic concept involves our "creative successes" that occur during oppositional praxis, synthesized into proletarian forms within our daily lives as workers.
This book's praxial focus, then, is to enrich propaganda and sex workers by making them progressively more and more proletarian: "awakened" and emotionally/Gothically intelligent in relation to each other in continuum. To that, we must incrementally become our own queens, but also killer-rabbit, "Trojan" bunnies who tell our own splendid, very-gay lies (exhibit 7c and 7d) and—as sex workers with subversive props—weave our own strategies of elaborate misdirection, thread-by-thread, into the praxial fabric of "acceptable" sin, rebellion and vice: queens of hell as something to rule over collectively. These things are already marketed and sold all the time; we just have to deprivatize it in anarcho-Communist ways that champion worker solidarity as fundamental to the process. Synthesized, our praxis and its socio-material gargoyles abjure the colonial binary—all in service of anarcho-Communism as something that has yet to historically develop more broadly in opposition to Capitalism (we'll get to all these analogies in time, I promise). Canonical binaries are horizontally challenged and dangerous, arranging power vertically for those few "true" kings and queens. Embrace chaos and liminality instead (with language always being in conflict and in motion through the threshold of the present). Put aside the elite's cheap, coercive garbage and work for something better to consume that we make for ourselves. "You are what you eat," after all (a theme I'll try to highlight throughout the book, seeing as it's quite important to our struggle as exploited workers: We're what's on the menu).
(exhibit 7c: Artists I have worked with or commissioned, or whose creations have inspired me when making my own sex-positive work. Going counter-clockwise: top-right-to-mid-left: Filmation's the Emperor of the Night; high-top-left: Natharlotep; mid-top-left: Nya Blue; low-mid-left: Songyuxin Hitomi; bottom-left: Bokuman; bottom-middle: Zayzay; bottom-right: Luna Seduces; upper-far-middle-right: Ronin Dude; middle: Playful Maev, whose drawing is of my OC, Ileana [exhibit 7d].) Class warfare starts with imagination as something previously informed by state-corporate propaganda and its Faustian pacification: "Better to serve in heaven than reign in hell" a kind of "false service" where they eat you (a bit like the old Twilight Zone episode, "To Serve Man," 1962). The elite want us to forget all deities reside in our breast, that we are the devils of the world and the Gothic imagination is our workshop. The world, then, can become one where non-privatized dreams and nightmares come true—that have the collective power to liberate sex workers from bourgeois tyranny and avoid the repeating of older histories before and during Capitalism as it presently exists. We can all be kings and queens under a New Order where vertical power arrangements become an awful legend of the tyrannical past; i.e., Richard Matheson's Commie Zombie-Vampires finally(?) laying Cartesian dualism to rest in I am Legend, 1954 (according to Debora Christie, anyways).
So while "Rome" absolutely gargles non-consenting balls, it's completely inadequate for anarcho-Communists to say to say that "'Rome' sucks and so do Capitalism, neoliberalism and fascism." That won't work. Not only is it stating the obvious, but far too many workers defend marriage, war and the state itself as sacred—its ritualized sacrifices in all of these fields; i.e., "People die, abuses happen, wives get raped, but the state is sacrosanct, sovereign, above judgement." Instead, the hauntological and abject nature of canonical heteronormative devilry must be critiqued in reaction to what pro-state proponents already dominate—turned into stupid workers who conceive of ownership not just as raw usage for the state, but sublimated exploitation in alienizing/alienating ways. This completely-fucked situation calls for transformation and black magic; it calls for successful proletarian praxis—for our creative successes, baby!
For the next several sections, I wanted to outline some of the operational difficulties present in oppositional praxis when challenging the state (in two parts); then go over the Gothic mode (and its many lists) in detail, accompanied by an in-depth examination of oppositional praxis (and its various lists).
An Uphill Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part one: The State's Monopoly on Violence
"Only fools buck the tiger. The odds are all on the house!"
—Doc Holiday, Tombstone (1993)
"If you became a shogun, there'd be nothing but devils in this world!" said Jubei Kibagami, criticizing Gemma, his mortal foe in Ninja Scroll (1993) for being the worst-of-the-worst (and in the warring-states period, that's really saying something). Jubei wasn't a samurai, you see; he was a ronin. Freed from Japan's class structure, ronin were bereft of materials and land—like Jesus, but more brutal. In the tradition of the Western genre, Jubei retools his formidable warrior skills to help those less privileged than he: impoverished small clans, but also women. He's the tyranny of evil men trying to be the shepherd, a bad motherfucker who chooses not to be a dick like Gemma. Unlike Jubei, Gemma is a class traitor and lying sadist who only cares about gold as a means to an end: achieving his police state. Through endless treachery and lies, Gemma recruits greedy warlords to him—the bourgeois devils Jubei warns about during their final duel. In the end, Jubei cannot kill Gemma, so he buries him alive—trapping Gemma inside a golden prison of his own design: "There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself."
While the idea of the invincible, class-ally super soldier is a complete-and-utter myth, the splendid lie still emphasizes how soldiers must learn to turn their weapons away from what Max Weber called the state's monopoly on violence, re:
"a state holds a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within its territory, meaning that violence perpetrated by other actors is illegitimate" (source).
To that, Western canon maintains this monopoly in perpetuity. Its various religious/secular in-groups and out-groups associate entirely with exclusive ownership and universal coercion under state territories: to belong/to have belongings, to be owned or used by someone or marked for systemic mistreatment, even death if you fail to be useful to them—re: Agamben's state of exception. Cultural markings include the conspicuously/flamboyantly queer person (the token hairdresser with the lisp, the interior decorator, etc) as a sign of monitored compliance but also surveilled rebellion vs the subtle/ordinary-looking gay person as a kind of ordinary (homonormative) disguise to hide from power in a liminal sense. This liminality also pervades other groups affected by the state; e.g., women and the conspicuously slutty woman vs "the angel in the streets/devil in the sheets," etc. To avoid the state of exception, imperiled workers cover up but also paradoxically semi-expose themselves when powerful men compel them to—enough to "play along" when one is punished for being sinful/disobedient, while simultaneously hiding one's mark as a member of the state's chosen underclasses.
For example, beings forced to identify as women are taught to wear skimpy clothes and uncomfortable shoes (their revenge being to do it for themselves, of course): designed by men to be canonically diminutive, impractical (no pockets) and cutesy/form-fitting—i.e., frilly panties, not pants (which Romeo and his companions make fun of Juliet's older governess for not having: "A sail! A sail!"). Wearing these de facto uniforms, marriage becomes like a prison and prisons—especially American prisons—are synonymous with rape, something to threaten those who steal things that are already owned by the elite, by patriarchal capitalists, by men, etc: women's own bodies and identities.
(exhibit 8a: Bottom-left and top right, artist: Persephone van der Waard; top-left and bottom left: photos of the 2016 graphic novel I originally translated, co-edited and helped design front-to-back—with thanks from the original author/illustrator. After a disagreement, they and I settled a private written agreement signing the character rights over to me, as well as the full rights to any future project featuring Madikken provided I do the artwork myself. The drawings included here have been updated from their 2020 versions, which I originally designed as proof-of-concept exhibits within the original legal document: Revana [my alter ego, top-right] and Vallen, two characters from my unfinished fantasy series, The Cat in the Adage. I did not design the original concept for Madikken [top-left] but always enjoyed her for her pastoral, "summer flirt" setting and attitude—her beaky nose and lolita maid design. Coming up with my own look for Madikken [and fabricating matching designs for Revana and Vallen] while preserving these qualities about Madikken was a fun challenge. Likewise, she's a symbol of sex-positive expression who literally runs away from her creepy surrogate father in pursuit of her own sexual empowerment—on par with Hermia running away from Egeus in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream . As my website reads: "Inspired by stories like A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), my novel follows Madikken, a young milkmaid, who becomes lost in an enchanted forest. There, she meets all manner of strange characters; she also begins to explore her deepest, darkest desires. Woefully inexperienced and starved for love, Madikken throws caution to the wind and tries to make her wildest dreams come true…")
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.
Normally relegated to the distant frontiers of faraway lands, state-sanctioned violence becomes an open cycle of glorious revenge in the domestic sphere. Pitted against the pulverized working class—their granular factionalism and sectarianism reduced to shot fish inside a barrel, but also small forts of workers suspicious of each other, ununified—the homeland becomes automated grounds for loot, rape and genocide; it becomes a dead garden of stolen goods that men cannot eat (the pirate's curse: men cannot eat gold; only lie, cheat and steal, including love). In the same death-rattle, the us-versus-them mentality becomes something to promote—to "save the world," which unfolds in Promethean, self-destructive ways.
This catastrophe has manmade components, intimated
by neoliberalism profiting off manufactured disasters—FEDRA
from The Last of Us (the 2023 version, which we will return to
throughout this book) being a metaphor for Blackwater and other mercenary
groups whispered about since WW2's frogmen, Vietnam's "advisors" from
the Phoenix program, and Seal Team Six—the paramilitary operators of American
Imperialism: latter-day cowboys who serve the will of the elite and violate
international laws on par with pre-Enlightenment mercenaries through a re-privatization
of war that exists entirely outside of the democratic process: war as corporatized
through corporate seizures of direct
power on the global stage, superseding state mechanisms altogether (with older
forms of neoliberalism having relied on the abuse of state power as something
to conceal through neoliberal illusions). Faced with these privatized
brutalizers or even shadows of them in the appropriative peril of canonical,
pre-apocalypse "daydreams," women or other victims of state
abuse (who are closer to nature) cozy up to whomever they can to
survive or feel safe with. Such protectors include ostensibly
good-but-actually-bourgeois variants like Ellen Ripley (the James Cameron
version), but also bonafide rebels who reject the state in totality as out-and-out,
dyed-in-the-wool Communists like Che Guevara.
(exhibit 8b: The moderate "anarchist, Amazon warrior moms" of James Cameron work as paper tigers; i.e., their anger against the state being all flash, no substance. Meanwhile, Che Guevara's constructive anger toward legitimate material change has appreciated by real-world revolutionaries and appropriated by state-corporations, the latter doing their gold-star best to de-fang Che's revolutionary potential by turning him into "just" a t-shirt [similar to MLK].)
Cameron's own billionaire Marxism plays both sides, reverse-engineering the wagon chase, John-Ford-style, for Sarah Connor as a victim of state violence (also, the appealing to conservative values sells more tickets by widening your consumer base). Meanwhile, Ellen Ripley's original form as a neoliberal foil (courtesy of Ridley Scott) becomes its fiercest, girl boss protector in Cameron's Rambo-esque, Vietnam revenge fantasy against the Reds (displaced as killer space bugs and capped off with the dissociative, white-mom-vs-black-mom "catfight"). It's pretty shitty of Cameron in hindsight, appealing to the fears of domestic state victims—children and women—by pitting them against classic, foreign state scapegoats: the Commies™.
Little more than a bourgeois reduction of anything resembling actual iconoclastic praxis/anarcho-Communism (which, to be clear, Stalin stiffly veered away from during his own cult of personality after Lenin's death), these Soviet cartoons—from Gorbachev to Putin—have been boiled down, condensed by neoliberal hegemons into a vague, constantly threatening punching bag well into the present. For example, current-day reinventions of the past are nakedly plain in carceral-hauntological shows like Stranger Things (2016)—with seasons two-through-four making the aliens and their serial-killer general, but also the Russian goons, a giant, messy Red Scare metaphor. Of course, there's room to enjoy all of these things, but neoliberal pastiche shouldn't be endorsed; it should be ironically transmuted through iconoclastic praxis into appreciatively ironic, perceptive forms (which we'll explore throughout this book, but especially in Volume Three).
Likewise, while it's perfectly legitimate to desire protection from anyone who gives off "big daddy/mommy" energy, or even to want to fuck these persons, it's equally important to remember that Ellen Ripley and Sarah Conor et al are not your actual parents. In sex-positive scenarios, these regressive, therapeutic rituals are entirely conducted between mutually-consenting adults whose iconoclastic, socio-material arrangements and depictions pointedly challenge the nuclear family structure; by extension, they undermine compelled marriage as leading to manufactured consent, conflict and scarcity (which includes regularized war and women/child abuse among those inside the state of exception). As such, sex-positive regression—and the oft-subconscious selection of a "Big" to safekeep someone who feels "Little," in age play terms—can be controlled/uncontrolled or conditional/unconditional. Historical materialism is canonically uncontrolled and unconditional, forcing the arrangements between parental figures (exhibit 8b). Victims of abuse often regress or disassociate regardless, including not just cis-het men or women but anyone. It's normal to shrink in the face of power, to desire a return to one's childhood as "better" (the paradox of the state of exception being that trans people and other underclasses have terrible childhoods/are forced to grow up quickly or die). For better or worse, it's normal to feel attraction and to trauma-bond when you're infantilized and scared. Indeed, a common regressive fantasy is the myth of the white knight—i.e., something that returns from the hauntological past to save the current world threatened by ancient monsters during the vicious cycle of Capitalism. To break the cycle, any soldier of Capitalism must be retrained and dislocated from the structure itself, as Jubei is. While some knights are good/bad in entirely centrist terms, he was not. This can be dressed up in different ways. For example, posthuman stories literally reprogram technologically wonderous soldiers from the reimagined future. James Cameron's T-800 from T2 (1991) is a lone warrior, a self-sacrificing protector for the children of the future (whereas Kyle Reese from the first film was a white survivor of automated genocide come home to roost). All the same, Cameron's Pygmalion fantasy (re: "Pygmalion" meaning "from a male king's mind"—a concept we'll unpack after we finish talking about "Rome" and the West) ties into the nuclear family (a Roman concept) as something to martyr and defend (a sentiment that resonated with me as a little girl, wishing my father was around, instead of cheating on my mother and beating me). Its problematic relationship with the West makes Cameron's vision a compromise with conservative values, a half-measure despite its infamous price tag (the "studio-sinking" fear-mongering being neoliberal drama to worry the peasants with).
Furthermore, Cameron's expensive compromise depicts the Western cycle of marriage as something to salvage—would-be-fathers who come and go replaced by the perfect robot dad to teach John Connor how to be a better man for his own kids by joining Congress (a huge red flag and one reason why I really hate the director's cut and distrust Cameron's vision of the future; it was his cut). The fact remains, while the rehabilitation of state killers is a pleasant-enough fiction, marriage generally sucks major ass. At best, it's a procedure of convenience. Even so, it effectively remains sublimated rape and child abuse—a compelled bargain/forced negotiation whose quid pro quo is dressed up as "love" with accidental children had by parents far-too-early paying the price. Often, the reality aligns with the female side seeking material advantage and the male, "protector" side chasing possessive, courtly love—homosocial tourneys had by knights, cowboys, et al dueling in jousting fashion, with kids being caught in the middle (often incestuously abused by their fathers/male role models as false knights, fathers, protectors, friends, etc).
Whether good or bad in centrist stories, armored/weaponized male duelists operate through "insect politics," enacting "traumatic penetration" against their targets and/or collateral damage (J.B.S. Haldane once quipped that if a god or divine being had created all living organisms on Earth, then that creator must have an "inordinate fondness for beetles." However, if there is a loving god, then why-oh-why is "stabby cock dagger" a thing? Cosmic-nihilism-in-action). In terms of wives or girlfriends, PIV sex is the standard for our "overprotective" (rapacious) knights; not only will they historically-materially "stab a bitch" if she eyeballs them wrong (or if she's trans), but they—the most powerful and loved-feared family member (usually the father or boyfriend, but often police agents, too)—will exploit her and the children as routinely vulnerable. That's what the state does. Under centrism, both sides use lances or bullets as PIV implements of rape that universally threaten cis women as beings to corral and queer people or children (or queer children, who tend to have neurodivergent qualities that present comorbidly through abuse targeting them as children, queer and neurodivergent) as things to execute/retire for not being useful to those in power—the fathers, but also the state for whom they serve.
Men are violent and canon teaches them to be violent in abject ways. This is not the first time I've acknowledged this. In "Why I Submit: A Subby Gothicist's Attitudes on Metroidvania, Mommy Doms, and Sexual Persecution" (2021), I write,
"The majority of violent murders, rapes, and murder-suicides are committed by cis-het men; the majority of their victims are women; and less than one percent of the total United States population openly identifies as trans/non-binary. Roughly 1.4 million adults in the United States openly identify as trans. Out of a population of 328.2 million, that's less than half of one percent. The actual number is undoubtedly higher, but obscured by fear. Not everyone comes out because of potential abuse: murder, wrongful termination from employment, homelessness, and so on. Women are pushed into the periphery by sexist men, and trans people don't exist at all; if they do, they are generally demonized, even killed, their murderers protected by sexist, transphobic laws, aka the gay panic defense."
Queer people hide their identities because they can. Setting aside the extramarital violence committed against them, these other groups—people of color and AFABs—are disproportionately targeted for what they can't
hide: their skin color, genitals and bodily functions. Under Cartesian dualism, they are automatically sighted and targeted as "of nature" and treated as chattel to varying degrees. The Native Americans were largely displaced, segregated and killed (even those who tried to assimilate); people of color have been exploited for centuries, today being disproportionately imprisoned through the neo-slavery of the American judicial system for petty offenses
—e.g., the drug war continued by Nixon from those who came before him and their wars against the Imperial state of exception (the Opium Wars
, for example):
"You want to know what this [war on drugs] was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. [...] We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did" (source
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).
(exhibit 9: Frazetta's "Castle of Sin" . Commissioned by Playboy magazine, it shows our unsuspecting "hero" being led to his doom by the sexy trio of witches [three being the number of the Gorgons aka the Fates]. In other words, the knight is being absolved of all blame and the women are Original Sin in the flesh—entirely to blame for everything that happens to the "poor, defenseless" knight by threatening his virtue with temptation. Never mind that he's covered head to toe in armor and armed to the teeth! Frazetta's canon is full of images that objectify women and glorify men, generally with fetishized power imbalances that nearly always have the woman being offered up as a prize to powerful [usually white] men—with people of color being presented as violent rapists or powerful, eunuchized harem guards. I love Frazetta's technical prowess, but his products were definitely "of their time," channeling the same kinds of unsubtle bigotry as Robert E. Howard. Howard wrote in the same Weird magazine as H.P. Lovecraft—both "pulp" authors writing hugely popular/racist stories with occult flavors, itself a fascist marker. Frazetta illustrated both authors stories [or blind pastiche of their stories] in a very Pygmalion way.)
The most privileged group are cis-het, white men—infatuated and lusty as they fight over often-literal maidens (teenagers) as child-like, defenseless property that one man shall not covet if it is already owned (often scapegoated onto the state of exception with racist/transphobic tropes of the rapacious black man and the killer "false" woman-in-disguise, aka the "trap"). That didn't/doesn't stop property duels from being enshrined in romantic canon, however. Erstwhile, the legends themselves become conspicuously homosocial—at times homosexual, even pedophilically homosexual (a knight's squire, exhibit 92b). All of a sudden, there are far more men fighting over unwilling women than women (cis or queer) who actually want to sleep with the men involved, leading to pedophilia and chattel rape (neither my father nor stepfather raped me; however, while both beat me, my stepfather once hit me in the head so hard with a plastic phone receiver I thought he wanted to kill me). Already covertly genocidal, neoliberalism is a gateway to fascism, which in turn is a gateway to all of these things in the domestic sphere: "prison sex" mentalities where cis-het men tend to masturbate to penises more than anything else (with rape culture/"prison sex" from the glossary being a term we'll use frequently when critiquing learned power abuses taught by state-corporate propaganda and power relations).
In heteronormative language, female pleasure, agency and intelligence are mythologized/demonized—relegated to the lands of make-believe but also advertised everywhere as ridiculous (re: hysteria/the wandering womb and the creation of sexual difference). For example, non-penetrated vaginas, mouths or assholes tend to look a little alien* to cis-het men (excluding lipstick lesbians, but these utilize dildos, fingers and tongues, of course). Ignoring idiosyncratic fetishes, cis-het men don't even tend to masturbate to non-penetrated holes (where they aren't imagining a cock inside the hole-in-question); they tend to jerk off to four main body parts: boobs, butts, feet, and penises, only one of which is even strictly female (during natural assignment). As for penises, this can be penises inside the vagina, but also being pleased by those who "should" be pleasing it with the "appropriate parts" during the appropriate heteronormative rituals: PIV sex, often fetishized (exhibit 3a). So an unhealthy attraction towards hole-owners, but also trans people is bound to occur. So-called traps, "transsexuals" and "she-male" porn—appropriated from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)—is condemned by fascists, but also mistreated in "prison sex" rituals that assert cis-het male dominance against the things they're masturbating to as a guilty act of self-disgust and genuine loneliness. This void is created by a system that privatizes sex: Capitalism. Its Superstructure already discourages healthy social sexual relationships by violently compelling marriage, thus systemic rape as something to sublimate, ignore and cover up: "Reader, I married him."
"atypical," non-heteronormative vaginas; i.e., external female
genitalia. This study—"The
Classification of the Anatomical Variation in Female External Genitalia"—catalogues
the sheer variety of external female genital available. Despite this proliferate
biodiversity, external labia with pejorative labels. Abject nicknames like the
"blown-out" cooter, "lazy kebab," or "roast beef
curtains" body-shame the female body in accordance with purity politics
that stymie gynodiversity or the representation of female genitalia within art;
i.e., a AFAB person's control over their own body but also the sexual activity
and egregores poetically associated with these things. Gynodiverse labia are
mythologized in demonic, fetishized ways on par with the
visible/"enlarged" clitoris as emasculating towards men and demonizing
cis-women against their will. However, the phobias of the latter often project animal-feminine-monstrous
feelings towards intersex/trans people and their gender-divergent bodies—e.g.,
the intersex qualities of the xenomorph, 51a; but also the increased hairiness
and clit size of witches and furries: exhibits 52f and 68. By comparison, heteronormativity
depicts the "proper" vagina as small, dainty and
unformed—infantilized, but also owned, dominated by men.
However, as cis-het women-of-means start learning to say no (establishing boundaries and knowing their own worth as workers) to cis-het men, these same men—as the traditionally entitled, universal clientele—become disillusioned but remain beholden to the very system exploiting them/teaching them to hate women. No longer able rely on marriage being handed to them on a silver fucking platter, cis-het men fall victim to their own lack of education by the same system, which funnels them into fascist groups (which neoliberals do not root out because these groups are in cahoots, defending Capitalism, wherein neoliberals, the elite, etc are increasingly less expendable than their fascist counterparts).
In the meantime, the bourgeois Superstructure leads to a variety of stupid, dangerous, heteronormative myths:
First off, feminism is scapegoated/appropriated all the time. Second, the idea that women aren't visually stimulated is bullshit. As women acquire more power, visually-stimulating cuties—catboys, femboys, but also trans/non-binary persons—appear by virtue of female demand: Women want us by virtue of idiosyncratic "types," and you can bet your collective asses they get off to us visually (queer people are also more keen to sleep with those who won't pull a Nick Fuentes and kill us post-coitus). Third, women definitely orgasm (they tend to twitch a lot more than dudes do, which honestly looks a little demonic in a kinky sort of way). Fourth, I did not make this one up, I swear! Haz Al-Ghul really does think that women only have two holes and pee from their butts. He also is friends with Nick Fuentes, avowed hater of women and "lover" of catboys (more on him and his "love" in Volume Three, Chapter Three) whose Cozy.tv is a forsaken lighthouse for dudes like Al-Ghul to go and be weird LARPers together. Fifth, male and female brains are not radically different at birth. We're not different species; men aren't from Mars and women aren't from Venus. Rather, Capitalism divides/alienates workers by manufacturing sexual dimorphism in language itself as Cartesian, including Gothic language as culturally prevalent across space and time: myths, monsters and legends, including the "super gay ones" that really shake things up and cross barriers and boundaries—like Doctor Frankfurter (with Jim Sharman making fun of Mary Shelley's Byronic xenophobia much like Mel Brooks did with that "enormous schwanzstucker" gag from a year prior)!
- 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.
(exhibit 10a: Artist, left: Edmund Leighton; right: various ensemble casts for live performances of Rocky Horror.)
Capitalism and Cartesian dualism promote European beauty standards. Non-European includes anything that isn't an hourglass figure, skinny and/or pale-skinned (exhibit 10b); but also, cocks that are "too big" (non-white)—the Franken-cock/frankfurter, you might say (monstrous, giant, made by madman from spare parts; the original novel by Mary Shelley is positively rife with racial tensions and postcolonial potential). This includes various racialized porn stereotypes that we'll examine more in a bit. For now, we'll quickly examine two: the BBC (big black cock) and BBW (big beautiful women) as bourgeois-exploited, canonical genre staples.
For BBCs, marginally larger cock sizes for people of color, who—despite also being more prone to having smaller cock sizes than white people—are pointedly associated with raping white women (exhibit 32). Popularized by Lost Cause media like The Birth of a Nation (1911) authored collectively by jealous/psychosexual white men because they not only want to use a cock even if it's not theirs—i.e., a "man chooses, a slave obeys"—they also think the only sex that exists is penetrative sex and that "bigger means better." Either idea is useful to Capitalism, which conflates sex with war, like riding a mare or a destrier as property "owned" by a male rider serving a higher patriarchal authority—even Tolkien's "killer hobbit" Bullroarer Took could do that, or George R. R. Martin's twink-turned-twunk, Satin: "He was pretty as a girl with his dark eyes, soft skin, and raven's ringlets. Half a year at Castle Black had toughened up his hands, however, and Noye said he was passable with a crossbow. Whether he had the courage to face what was coming, though..." source. Reconsider the "enormous schwanzstucker" scene, where Frederick Frankenstein speaks out from both sides of his mouth to his smitten (white, blonde) servant: "He's going to be very popular." Like seriously, how would you know, Mr. I-Can't-Even-Sleep-With-My-Own-Wife? I call this Ben Shapiro syndrome—ol' Ben trusting his own wife (apparently a doctor according to this very creepy glow-up piece) when she tells him it's "normal" that she doesn't get wet during sex. I'd say she's violating her Hippocratic Oath for that one, but she's already being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by having to sleep with Ben Shapiro... Regardless, favoring penetration and bigger
"Frankencock" tools for the job* are both grossly outmoded ideas when
you consider that many clitoris-owners actually require penises of a specific
size for hitting their g-spot with (the so-called "Goldilocks dick")
or oral/digital/dermal stimulation (for the clitoris, nipples, skin, etc) when
it comes to BDSM and sexual/asexual intimacy. Worse, penis-shaming can adopt an
assimilative, racialized quality—with people of color feeling inadequate for
failing to be the one thing they are constantly marketed as: big, black thugs
with BBCs. This is essentially a more extreme, Americanized version of the
Gothic villain; e.g. Ann Radcliffe's Father Schedoni—the titular
"Italian" (1796) already being an Orientalist trope of something
"not of the West," whereupon black people are seen as "even less
human" than Eastern European or Asian people** are in terms of fascist
dogma (though the assignment of an
underclass is limited to whatever's available, which—in Western Europe—would
have historically been Jewish people and other ethnic minorities relatively
endemic to the region. For example, there
were a smaller number people of color living in Germany during the Third Reich
from WW1 German colonies; conversely the Israelis are genociding the
Palestinians en masse, the latter having lived in that area for
thousands of years before Zionism was recently bankrolled by the U.S. government). A tremendous amount of guilt and shame are
funneled into the penis as a canonical symbol of violence and rape, making
sex-positive penis-shaming a useful means of owning one's member (or pussy or
any other body part). Degradation is perfectly legitimate as long as it doesn't
become toxic or lead to abusive habits, post-use. *Male masturbation is generally described by cis-het men in violent, war-like,
monstrous colonizer language (with the canonical cumshot serving as a
"claiming ritual, as illustrated
by this lovely Robin Williams skit). Also, don't
mistake me; sex takes work to be fun, but it should be non-violent fun,
not a brutal, numbing chore! And yes, "anger sex" can be
intense, but it should still be safe and controlled, with the appropriate
aftercare post-fuck; otherwise, it's toxic (speaking from experience on this
one, but we'll get to that). **For a ludic example of gradient xenophobia in relation to zombies,
consider the excellent (and lengthy) "A Thorough Look At Resident Evil,"
by Noah Caldwell-Gervais. The franchise's treatment of zombies varies per
setting. However, released over time, Capcom's use of zombies reflects displaced
versions of real-world, geo-political attitudes about places demonized by Capitalism,
but also exploited by Capitalism; e.g., Eastern Europe and Africa, in Resident
Evil 4 and 5 (2005 and 2009). (exhibit 10b: Top-right: the Venus of Willendorf; mid-right: Braindedzom; bottom-right:
Mog, the Final Fantasy XIII-2 version; everything else, artist: bathmank. People of
color are generally color-coded, but also attributed to exaggerated markers of uncivilized
cultural markers tied to physical strength and sexual appetite: curves, muscles
and sheer "endowment" associated with the past [and current] plundering
of various [neo]colonial sites: the Caribbean and Africa, but also Brazil and
other areas of the global South personified by a given starlet of the slave
class; e.g. Laura from Street Fighter V [2016, exhibit 41d/e]. On
domestic soil, this disparity can be expressed through characters like
She-Hulk, above: a gentrified woman of color wearing a snazzy business suit in
the courtroom. Though assimilated into white culture, her elevation is always
in doubt—marked not just by her dark skin, but her entire physique. Combined,
these express her heroism through a slaver's metric; i.e., the qualities historically
prized and feared by enterprising colonists, and which are held against
She-Hulk during reactive abusive: her "hulking out" a form of "uppity"
behavior she must hide to try appear more civilized, more white despite
her irreversible skin color—what F.D.
Signifier and other black activists call "Black Capitalism.")
For BBWs, fat-shaming's Enlightenment roots are
steeped in racialized phobias, but also Catholic demonization by Protestants,
including a little-known group of British/Dutch exiles, the fucking Puritans
(who both countries disliked quite a bit because they were horribly uptight and
went on to form the cultural groundwork for American Christofascism, along with
various settler-colonial offshoots like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses).
Furthermore, racialized stigmas and their signature
body types are often portrayed with non-white skin-colors—a kind of non-black
"whitewashing" present either fantasy narratives justifying violence
against in singular characters or larger societies:
- 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.
Lastly, having a round bod instead of an hourglass or even pear-shape figure—i.e., not actually a dad, thus not allowed to have a "dad bod"—is generally seen as masculine (with AMABs tending to store fat in their bellies, not their hips, thighs and buttocks, like AFABs do). Zeuhl once referred to their body as "roumb" like Mog or Monty Mole (from Super Mario World, 1991). While undeniably wholesome, such non-white, trans/non-binary bodies are historically-materially relegated to fantasy by Capitalism, which genocides anything that doesn't fit the European standard: hunting "useless" specimens to extinction. When there are no more figurative or literal non-human animals left, modern man will hunt members of his own species he deems inferior to him, regarding those he considers "precious" something to "protect." Whether to kill or control for canonical propaganda purposes, this is a historical-material fact.
If you might have already noticed, the fascist pageantry of "European" beauty standards becomes something to advertise amid partial state collapse through a restructuring of state power towards a more "medieval" approach (all non-European standards having been totally genocided or relegated to the culturally-endangered status by now). This includes legislative preparations made well ahead of time by those in power (from SCOTUS to other areas of the world accreting from global US hegemony):
Fascism leans towards the openly religious/occult, whereas neoliberalism tends to keep religion out-of-sight but close by—i.e., "separate or not, church and state go hand-in-hand," Christofascism being the result. In the process, fear and dogma slowly replace good, proletarian education—with rings becoming what they historically have always been: collars of compelled bondage/sanctioned sex with fascist, even incestuous elements. The buried, familial incest trope is terminally common, so much so that in the early 2000s, I wrote a fantasy story where an incestuous tyrant called Bane (I got the name from Weaponlord, 1995, not Batman) who forces his half-sister and half-brothers to wear magic rings that keep them bound to the family castle. When the wife cuts off her finger and tries to run, her half-brother forces her to wear a collar instead.
Over time the mother, Sigourney, gives birth to Bane's rape child: an incredibly intelligent/latently powerful witch named Alyona. Alyona is kind and book-smart—with her non-rapey uncles and her pet ravens there for her as friends (and also Ileana, who trains Alyona to harness her dormant powers to escape Bane's clutches). Eventually Alyona goes on to defeat her own father-uncle and save her family from certain destruction (with their help, as she cannot defeat him alone). To be honest, I hadn't thought about this character in years; I used to think she was modeled after my mother, but as of two days before this book's former Valentine's day deadline I think it just hit me: Alyona was closer to me than my mother (though functionally a liminal combination of myself and my entire family unit to varying degrees of reality and artifice). To my current, updated knowledge, while no one in my immediate family is a literal product of incest, there is sexual abuse in my family's history. It has plagued them well into the present, tottering on the edge of the American middle class like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables (1851): "They had taken that downright plunge which, sooner or later, is the destiny of all families, whether princely or plebeian" (source). "Families are always rising and falling in America," i.e., the myth of the American middle class. Hawthorne's historical materialism arguably stems from his own cursed bloodline: the Hathornes. His ancestor, William Hathorne, was one of the judges of the Salem Witch Trials, which Nathaniel desired to escape from, but still write about. He did so by critiquing American's own Puritanical heritage—felt on a social-sexual level through all those damn linguo-material reminders of former, fallen power, just daring to return but somehow already-here.
Gothicists generally fear a barbaric past, but especially its prophesied homecoming. The same applied to me at nineteen doing my own displaced writing. As a child, I don't even remember thinking about any of my own family's trauma or at least consciously reifying it. We talked about it often, but much of it was jokingly passed around like a hot potato. It became an absurd game—with my mother and two uncles joking as teenagers themselves that our bloodline would meet the same end that Poe's House of Usher did: "the fall of the House of [our family name]." The predictable rise and fall of our bloodline through socio-material means is the stuff of Gothic cliché. It was only later I consciously learned and started to understand how badly my mother had been abused—hurt by many different persons to such an appalling degree that exact quantification is impossible. This goes for the abuse, but also the degree of shivering someone into fractals—a phenomena in behavioral therapy called plurality.
For a good example of this, consider the 1997 thriller, Perfect Blue, and its own dissociative, gaslit depictions of a mind horribly fractured by trauma, but also surrounded by it (this writeup I did several years ago covers much of its Gothic freight). The story is over-the-top, but conveys an oft-buried truth under Capitalism: Trauma can splinter the mind into pieces, leading to different outcomes in the material and natural world. In my case, my division amounted to Alyona as something I materially created; the case of my mother (as well as any of my romantic partners with histories of complex trauma), division involved aspects of their fractured personality manifesting before my eyes inside a natural mind and body affected by the socio-material around it.
Whether in natural or material cases or some gradient thereof, historical-material trauma is utterly entropic. Always close at hand, it feels palpable but strangely elusive and distant—like Marx's nightmare, but also Doctor Morbius' from Forbidden Planet (1956): "Sly and irresistible, only waiting to be invoked for murder!" Whether abusers and abused, then, all of my family has been hurt by the family structure itself—all of its monsters hiding in plain sight through familial, dynastic forms: the gargoyles, fatal portraits and other chronotopic elements. For my grandparents, these became sources of shame to hide behind symbols of pride. They buried everything they could, but I always felt it emanating all around me, like Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" (1843) underneath the floorboards. In short, the trauma was buried alive within me as I existed inside my own Gothic-familial space—littered with traumatic bleeding into Gothic stories as something to messily pass down, but also pass off as not somehow connected to our own generational curse.
I've since become utterly detached from it all, bereft of anything that might have been promised to me. On some level as a young girl and teenage woman, however, I had acquired, then projected, my osmotic absorptions onto a singular egregore: Alyona. Bane had bred her for war, a kind of fascist wunderkind/wunderwaffe he had predicted in the family bloodlines then imposed through his rapacious will. Alyona not only contained the awesome power of future generations; she contained a summation of my family's combined, complex trauma—carried away to distant lands and enchanted castles and (more importantly) the ability to change one's problems in a way I never could: with rebellious magic. It strikes me as both simplistic and precocious—a maturing mind bred on fantasy stock coming to her own conclusions inside a trans egg that finally cracked decades after the fact.
I was a teenager when I started writing these stories (and drawing them, but that art sucks and I will not show it; exhibit 5f is a renovated variant). Even so, my interrogation of capital was still far more frank than Tolkien's own, his Necromancer reducing the shadow of the fascist past to a dark shape disconnected from sex altogether (with his own impressive mythos echoing Paradise Lost, 1667—Satan, Beelzebub, Pandemonium—and
Ursula Le Guin taking several books after A Wizard of Earthsea, 1968,
to really hit her gay stride). Still, Tolkien's own writings on the Ring of Power—and the infamous plurality of Golem (and
Golem's triangulation of pitting Frodo against Sam)—speaks to everyone's collective exploitation under the state's heteronormative arrangement towards power long before Sauron shows up: "One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."
Do you honestly think "men of the West" routinely fall for "the ring" because they're not tall, fancy elf-ladies or gay wizards played by Shakespeareans? No, they're groomed to be susceptible before, during and after Sauron's fall by the West—under the spell of state-sanctioned marriage and heteronormative, institutional love; i.e., amatonormativity. Unable to explain fascism, Tolkien just naturalizes it and solves it... with old-fashioned violence and marriage. Despite being a philologist, he was a Beowulf (c. 700–1000 AD) expert—well-versed in the Scandinavian legends of dragons and war, but utterly lacking in the language of women, ethnic minorities (the East is a dark place for him) and gay people (despite having a tremendously homo-romantic subtext in his work that future queer readers can pick up on; see: Molly Ostertag's "Queer readings of The Lord of the Rings are not accidents," 2021).
Forgetting Tolkien and his uber-manly heroes, girls are taught to kiss canonical toads (or fascist wolves) all the time (to be fair, Tolkien hated Disney with a passion, but he was also "allergic" to allegory in all its forms... but also whose War of the Ring is clearly based on WW2 and Western Europe being beset by the fascist, half-eastern, dislocated territory of Mordor). Compelled love regularly happens in neoliberal stories that prepare female workers for fascism's re-entry—Beauty and the Beast (1991), for example. Likewise, general slavery—normally veiled under neoliberalism—is more overt under fascism. This includes marriage between compelled heteronormative sex; i.e., women's labor, which is historically unpaid/forced through veiled threats of destitution. Under manufactured scarcity and conflict, marriage becomes a ritual of convenience-under-duress—a means of financial security for those who historically have no rights, including owning property—not just cis-het women (which canonically are fought over by men vying for the widow's gold and her marriage bed), but queer folk who wear beards and have lavender weddings to survive. Meanwhile, old genocidal adages from America's sublimated Manifest Destiny break through the façade: "Kill the Indian, save the man." Token police scramble to save their own skins, offered a brutal and cruel "last chance" by their future slavers-once-more.
To this, the game show idea is something we'll explore in different forms throughout the book. For now, however, remember the phrase, "There can only be only one!" Violently displayed in The Highlander, 1986, as spilling towards the violent past—something in which only the good Macleod can save the white woman of the present from the rapacious Kurgan—this heteronormative, canonical idea segregates intersecting groups into a colonial binary that radicalizes towards the domestic center or repels away from it during state decay and restoration. Under fascism, all AFABs become cis-het women inside a faux-medieval, hauntological framework; black and white are divided—with varying "gradient alliances" happening among white-skinned (non-black) Asian, Eastern European types (Orientalism), "mixed" ethnicities and token minority police agents. Under neoliberalism, relative freedoms are then "given back."
The whole exploitative cycle between fascists and neoliberals is only derailed by the Anthropocene and Capitalism as thwarted by Mother Nature herself. Payback's a bitch, but it will be a terrible end—one met with slow, Promethean brutality. Genocides don't happen overnight or with the fall of nuclear bombs, which—unlike fear—are too hard to control for the elite (as they rely on material reminders of their power not being blown away by nuclear fire); they usually take time so the rich pigs can soak up all the blood and digest it like greedy vampires. Yet, total annihilation is not "instant death" nor a foregone conclusion, nor is it hardly anything that can even be salvaged in one's own life. We all have our own traumas to handle.
For example, in my own family life, I directly recall an abusive father and stepfather hurting me, but I also sensed trauma everywhere. Long after I wrote and forgot about Alyona, my grandmother observed this and thought I was a odd one; my grandfather saw my gloomy beard and told me it looked good on me. Eventually I branched out: I went to college a second time, fell love with a girl called Constance and got my heart broke (more on that in Volume Three); then I went to England, met Zeuhl and fell in love again, then came back—always to the same place. Over several decades, I started to feel grounded to my ancestral home, desiring to escape but trapped by the same forces that rooted old Hawthorne where he was. I felt doomed, left behind by Zeuhl (who
jokingly left me "for an old flame in England," as they put it—a
person they treated like their soulmate even though they said they didn't
believe in such things). You become desperate to buck fate.
Jadis is 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: to fawn (the
other three being to fight, flee or freeze—the last one also called oscillation
in Gothic circles). Unlike that 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: I became my very-own Gothic
princess in ways I didn't negotiate. Eat your heart out,
The state desires power, as do narcissists; the former
enables the latter in historical-material ways. While narcissists some 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 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
or queer conversion therapies, or genital corrective surgeries on intersex
infants, etc). With Jadis, they provided for
me. The negotiation seemed honest, beneficial: to be their conjugal
worker—"a live-in bussy" who learned to cook and 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. 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 and Jadis had different sides that
flashed across their own surface. After a while, I couldn't tell them apart,
couldn't tell which was real or which was the abusive monster. Whenever
they wept because I said they were acting like their mother, I'd feel guilty
but also crazy.
We'll examine the plurality of Jadis' bullshit more during the roadmap. 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, I was their Lady of Shalott, they my
"A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
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, a horny bitch like me couldn't stand the sight of them because Jadis utterly terrified me. They had ceased to be the dark, handsome knight I fell in like with, wooing me with Irish ballads like "The Devil's Courtship" (see, above) or "The Two Sisters"—had become a black knight/Greater Destroyer I wanted to get as far away from as I could. 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. Learn from my mistakes and the emotional/Gothic stupidity that Capitalism historically-materially foisted upon me through my own cursed bloodline.
An Uphill Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part two: Challenging the State's Manufactured Consent and Stupidity
"Oh my god! Captain! The earth man has a light grenade for a head!"
"Do you really have birds this size on your planet!"
"Then why would it fool anyone if you wear the masks?"
"You are a wise man, Dick Nelsen!"
The nation-state under Capitalism monopolizes violence by privatizing it; anarcho-Communism abolishes nation-states, including private property and the violent stupidity it causes (whose gradients of stupidity we'll go over in this section). This abolishment includes dismantling marriage as a religious-secular institution, but also creatively expressing love in de-privatizing language. Communism is entirely extramarital/de-nuclear, but also inclusively exceptional. Forget "There can only be one"; re: under Communism, we're all queens, best boys and best girls. Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism applies this idea to the language of monsters as it reflects in the natural-material world across space and time—through monster pastiche as an extension of systemic conflicts produced between workers for or against the state.
Gothic Communism, then, seeks not a return to tradition and older ways of life as they once were, as false or empty revolutions; it uses what we're born with—our bodies, emotions, gut feelings, genders, dreams and sexualities; but also our stories, imaginations and language as begot from these things as they presently exist—to inclusively transform the world beyond "Rome" (Capitalism) in various slave rebellions and boundary-setting exercises: to make our own monsters, muses and media, but also the material world extending from these things out of our brains, our bodies as being closer to nature in praxis. As we've already touched upon, this fundamental concept, from a
creative standpoint, is called poiesis: "to bring into being that which did not exist before"—to make, in other words. Technology can and will remain; it just won't be exploited by the bourgeoisie for profit because the bourgeoisie won't exist and private property will be abolished, replaced by horizontal arrangements of power that enable and maximize labor—not as a force for war, the Military Industrial Complex, manufactured consent, settler colonialism, etc, but as an enriching power for all inhabitants of the earth in peaceful ways: to de-escalate and remove* war as something to produce and endorse in the material world, arts and STEM fields.
*This process is generally referred to as "hammering swords into ploughshares"—not the end of the world in Biblical terms (where the term originally comes from), but an end of history as envisioned and historically-materially perpetuated under Capitalism as enacted materially and culturally through the Base and Superstructure.
(exhibit 11a: Artist, left: Cecilio Pla; model, right: my friend, Dulci)
Honestly the sky's the limit as far as this goes. For example, a friend—I'll call her Dulcinea (the barmaid from Don Quixote, 1605; exhibit 11a)—came to visit recently and we negotiated our operative/actionable boundaries as I was also helping them start sex work on Only Fans. This included sex—to fuck the way we both agreed to, no coercion. I won't lie. It's not the best sex on the planet—they don't like to cuddle or sleep in the same bed—but it was nice to get my nut and still be able to help Dulci set up their own revenue stream. They want to do their own thing and that's cool; so is the fact that certain offers are put on the table and taken off again as both sides hash things out over space and time. What's important is that it's conditional and mutually agreed upon—no ultimatums, in other words. Dulci agreed to let me have sex with them provided I
- 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)
This had to do with Dulci releasing stress and rebelling against their overbearing/overprotective mother. Said mother's views on love are privatized, in the sense of Capitalism making workers stupid by conceiving ownership as an exploitative "usage-equals-ownership" model. When attached to its historical-material conditions stuck on repeat, heteronormativity creates uneven feelings/pulverized divisions of idiosyncratic stupidity and caution. These canonical attitudes towards private property apply to men and women under a punitive hierarchy that divides sexualized labor dimorphically.
Because of this division, we'll need at least two examples if we want to holistically examine the problem of idiosyncratic stupidity amongst workers. However, I'll use three, as I am trans and don't fit neatly into the binary but can still relate to its media in traditionally queer ways (the Gothic has always been a bit non-normative in this respect):
- 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
Let's start with Beavis. His idiosyncratic stupidity manifested in the universal male fear under Capitalism: dying a virgin. Beavis loved animals but had zero idea how to talk to girls. He was also incredibly privileged, jealous and scheming when it came to women, but also searching for that "perfect" wife: the small, submissive woman who looked like his high school crush and would have his kids. While pretty damn telling and creepy all on its own, he was straight-up canceling second or third dates with girls who were DTF because they didn't want to have "his" kids. Like, if it matters to you so much, just put it on your dating profile, dude; people aren't telepathic!
Beavis never learned. He not only insisted he "wasn't a nice guy" (code for "creep," these days); he was also a secret gun-nut who squirreled away fucking assault rifles and lied to Jadis and I about it! This put me in a weird spot because—while I thoroughly detest guns (my three brothers once pointed our paternal grandfather's rifles at me without checking to see if they were loaded and then pulled the trigger like a damn firing line)—Jadis was working on their master's thesis and I didn't want to worry them; but then things eventually came out and, well, that was a mess! Pro-tip, kids: Don't keep secrets if you can help it (to be fair, Jadis was abusive towards me, but we'll explore that even more during the roadmap when we discuss girl talk and healing from trauma)!
(artist: Mike Judge)
In the end, Beavis never scored (unless he finally found his maiden on his mom's Catholic dating app), even though I tried for weeks to be a good wing girl for him—eventually to try and protect women from him when I realized he needed to learn for everyone's good. I got increasingly weird signals from him and tried to teach him to be better. Rather than listen, though, he just whined and moaned, blaming women but also lusting after the ones he "wanted." He wouldn't sleep with the hot, slutty girl who was DFT or any of the girls on his dating app; he just fawned after someone at work who not only had a boyfriend, but—you guessed it—looked like his high school crush. She was a very nice person—was actually willing to try and hook the lad up with a friend if only he stopped making things weird. Sadly Beavis didn't listen to me or her at all; it was like he had it all figured out, but was paradoxically tormented by his Catholic grief. Frankly he had no clue. I told him, "College is the time when you're not under your mother's thumb. Just experiment!" He never, ever did, default-blaming women for his failures (the classic Catholic's Original Sin victim-blaming/male victimhood complex—a wicked combo).
Beavis' own divisions were less acutely severe than the more immediately pluralized persons, in large part because his privilege spared him the kind of trauma such fracturing demands. Yet, he was still divided in ways utterly commonplace under Capitalism (and well-at-home in Gothic novels; e.g., Father Ambrosio). Indeed, Beavis' biggest problem was that he wanted manufactured consent, not genuine consent. The sex-positive idea is to want someone to want you, like that Cheap Trick song—to need your body and your personality, your sense of humor and your touch, your pussy or your dick, etc. At the same time, appreciating value goes both ways when relating to others in whatever ways we can actually get. To whatever extent you both agree on, it's not about fitting in perfectly or agreeing on every little thing being offered; it's about being however intimate you're both decidedly comfortable with: FWBs, fuck buddies, one-night-stands, marriage, "just experimenting," etc. All the same, be on your toes and watch out for false friends, because people suck! The same goes for false symbols, fake rainbows, assimilated homosexual men, etc.
(exhibit 11b: Top-left:
Our classic, friends of Dorothy making an appeal to a very heteronormative,
colonizer, false wizard; higher-bottom-left: proletarian wizard, Mike Jittlov; middle:
liminal, appropriated witch, Mila
Kunis from Sam Raimi's 2013 Oz the Great and Powerful; bottom-right: Artnip;
bottom-left: Talia. Rainbow
Capitalism loves to slap rainbows on pretty much everything. All the same, the
rainbow during oppositional praxis remains a liminal symbol of queer liberation
amid heteronormative appropriation—can be re-slapped on art that feels sex-positive
to the person altering it; i.e., a countercultural marking to an already
iconoclastic artwork or artist. During this symbolic war, there arise many
bourgeois/proletarian witches, queens, queer folk, monsters, dream girls, etc—all
of which we'll unpack and examine throughout the book, but especially in Volume Three, Chapter Four.)
While proletarian caution applies to queer circles as things to infiltrate by state enforcers, it also applies to heteronormatively Gothic stories as things to lampoon. For example, in McG's surprisingly good, 2017 horror-comedy, The Babysitter
, Bee the blonde bombshell evokes a shape-shifting devil on par with Matthew Lewis' Matilda: every cloistered boy's wet dream/worst nightmare—in this case, the awkward hero called Cee. Making this movie, McG is just as self-aware and playful two centuries later as Lewis was, evoking complex wish fulfillment: a desire to victim-blame warring with wanting to use someone according to canonically assigned (and iconoclastically rebellious) gender roles. This playful dissonance is typical of the Gothic story and has been since Horace Walpole first wrote The Castle of Otranto
. Not only did Walpole originally pass it off as a "historical" artifact "disinterred" and presented as "genuine"; his goal was to illustrate the novel—a story of everyday experience—as married to the Ancient Romance, a tale of high imagination, adventure and reinvention (on par with Beltane or tarot as something to appreciate/appropriate
depending on who's doing the reinvention; see Marilyn Roxie's The
Public Tarot for an appreciative example
or Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
, 2012, vs Rainbow's cautionary "Tarot Woman"—i.e., manly rainbows versus gay ones [the "friends of Dorothy" disguise of being "over the Rainbow"]; exhibit 11b). Not only can phenomenological conflict not
be avoided; it's also, I would argue, the whole point of Gothic stories: to face confusion and deal with it. This includes people affected malignantly by Capitalism, becoming abusers who have survived trauma only to become arbiters of it.
Also like Walpole and Lewis, McG's Gothic is not just the wholesale stuff of fiction! It's a turbulent, fun commentary on real, everyday events told in displaced, dissociative language: fairytale love and over-the-top, outmoded betrayal. This paradoxical authenticity is something I can vouch for in my own life. Despite Cee obviously being cis-het, I had a very similar experience once upon a time. In a galaxy far, far away... a past friend and sex worker called Cuwu (mentioned at the start of the manifesto) used me for their own needs after Jadis kicked me to the curb. This happened in ways I didn't always agree to. All the same, Cuwu made my wildest
dreams come true (we once fucked on the floor and recorded it while discussing my thesis work on Hollow Knight
 and watching this Silk Song fan video afterwards
)! Before Jadis had thrown me out for calling them
abusive, I had met Cuwu online a month prior while drawing sex workers. Like Jadis, Cuwu also talked a good game and knew a ton about DBT (versus Jadis' extensive knowledge about BDSM and tendency to selectively follow its tenets for their own benefit, not ours). Cuwu's premise was to offer me a safe, loving environment after my breakup with Jadis. It lowered my caution and I made stupid mistakes despite trying not to. Pussy on the brain will do that (or dick; just ask Alcibiades
At first, Cuwu was incredible. However, after I flew home from their place, my time with them long-distance started to feel unstable and insincere, both quickly and slowly. They had borderline personality disorder and manifested in more overt pluralities—less like Beavis and closer to my mother or Jadis. I had to fight very hard not to blame Cuwu even when they were acting sus. In part, I was entirely afraid of losing them, having already been dispossessed by Jadis (who had actually left me for their own ex after the three of us were living in a polycule, trying to triangulate that person against me by making me out to be the homewrecker—ironically before I met Cuwu, who Jadis never knew about and who pointedly told me they didn't want to be a homewrecker) and shortly thereafter losing my uncle to a spontaneous heart attack (more about that, during the roadmap); I also knew they were sick and trying to improve. In other words, I was Cuwu's "good boy." At that point, I hadn't come out yet, but Cuwu encouraged it/were my mommy dom and little fuck puppy. For a short-but-blissful time, I was living in my own variation of Bottom's Dream from A Midsummer Night's Dream (and not for the first time, even, but I'll get to that in Volume Three when I discuss my first love, Constance):
"I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream—past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had—but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called 'Bottom's Dream' because it hath no bottom" (source
Before I came out, my name was Nicholas, so Nick Bottom is a character I always related to; it's also kind of a funny BDSM pun (thank you for pointing that out, Ginger)? Personally I think Shakespeare's bondage of the rude mechanical, Nick, by Titania was a little too pointed and ceremonial to be a complete accident, but maybe I'm just an ass. You have to be a little stupid to let someone in and play games with them where you can actually get hurt. Love is a battlefield, indeed, Pat Benatar.
In this vein, Cee has to learn to protect himself from the more experienced girl he loves. The shared, imperfect moral is, "We all have to learn to form boundaries and protect ourselves, even from those we love; even if they talk a good game, they can still fuck you over or up." In McG's movie, Cee's taught this by more than one person—Bee, but also her servant, the high school quarterback:
"You want a head start?"
"You're the quarterback, man!"
"Life's not fair, dude!"
Whether male, female or intersex, the Gothic hero's trial is overcoming adversity. In Cee's case, he's being attacked by someone else (the quarterback) being manipulated by someone else (Bee) being misled by something else (an old book of sacrificial blood magic). Deceivers take many forms and concentrically deceive themselves and others (the classic flaw of the Gothic villain). Facing this cold, sad fact—that many people most definitely suck, including assimilated, fearful workers—is merely part of this stupid, absurd game called life. But life can still be good. We just have to do it for ourselves while doing our best to be good friends, but also teachers and workers interacting back and forth through stories.
With Cuwu, I used to read The Hobbit
to them (their borderline personality disorder would give them panic attacks/make them dissociate and the book, combined with my voice, helped calm them). How Cuwu desired to become strong! They especially loved Smaug the dragon, who was "strong, strong, strong!" and started to adopt that principle in their own "healing" behaviors—having been abused in the past, but also having been a self-confessed abuser towards their own ex of six years. In other words, I wasn't Cuwu's first victim, but they also weren't entirely
an abuser when all was said and done; they were like Bee, who "used to be weak" and desired strength—abusive and controlling towards Cee even if it came from a place of real trauma (victims often become traumatizers themselves).
Neither Bee nor Cuwu were all bad ("just because she's a psycho doesn't mean women are evil" Cee's movie crush tells him), but there was still legitimate betrayal towards those they called friends. Cee and Bee had a sweet friendship but she still exploited him in non-consensual ways (draining his blood like a vampire for her black magic). Cuwu fucked me over despite making all my wildest fantasies come true; they were very vain and loved attention, but could be incredibly sweet when they were stable and medicated! They had been upfront about their abusive habits, too—had insisted they'd turned over a new leaf. And my dumb ass, rebounding hard after Jadis—I was only too happy to believe them (to be fair, they talked a good game, the tricksy little Commie).
In the end, I paid a price for it, but it was still a learning experience/adventure normally only seen in the movies. Through my own happy accident, I learned the same Gothic moral that Cee did: Sex is dangerous, but it's worth it if you can find someone to trust (which Cee eventually does). I have friends I can trust. However, that takes time and effort and work from both sides; it's also an uphill battle, fighting societal coding and learning to open up. Don't be afraid to do that or you'll miss out on what makes life worth living. At the same time, be careful! Like Cee and Bee, Cuwu and I were intimate with each other, if only for a moment. I loved Cuwu fully and deeply. But I stood up to them knowing on some level I'd never see them again (as I did with Jadis). And I regret nothing in either case. However short, I lay with someone special—made utterly of that stuff only dreams are made of (even Jadis was pretty amazing in the sack at first)!
Now that we've examined Beavis' idiosyncratic stupidity and my own, let's moving onto Dulci's mother. Her idiosyncratic stupidity manifests in uneven female fears: getting raped and killed by creepy men; i.e., the legitimate concern about male "conquests" acquired through dishonesty and theft, like drugging/date rape as projected on people Dulci's mom thinks are creepy. In fact, she was worried I'd roofie her daughter! Like, context matters, lady! I've known Dulci for ten years. I ain't gotta use drugs or lies—just tell her I want to have sex and if she says no, I trust her boundaries and don't push it. That's how trust, boundaries and negotiation work, and most cis-het guys have no idea how (see: Beavis). Instead, they resort to "date rape" tricks and romanticized canon/heteronormalized rituals like prom.
At best, prom is compelled sex dressed up in ritualistic make-believe; at worst, it's the same thing but rapey (centrism in action): e.g., the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. This "rhythmic ceremonial ritual" from hauntological 1950s nostalgia was made by neoliberal filmmakers, pointedly sold back to Reagan's 1980s and its children of the future as the end-all, be-all of true love. Newsflash: Robert Zemeckis' wacky courtship ritual (and its myriad clones) don't actually teach you how to talk to other people; it just alienates workers inside a compelled, colonial binary where the "good" strong prevail against the "bad" strong in literal duels over a helpless woman who tells her own future son this is how things are: "A man should be strong, to protect the woman he loves." Never mind that George McFly was a Peeping Tom* according to his own son, and who Loraine Bates only fell in love with—Florence-Nightingale-style** because he... got hit by a car?
*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 as 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.
**According to know-it-all, "Operation Paperclip" sublimation, Doc Brown. Re: "Paperclip" was the post-WW2 transplanting of German Nazi scientists into America's institutions—with Wernher von Braun, the "father of modern space travel," being a literal member of the Nazi party while Doc Brown's de-Americanized family name is... von Bron (with Doc being a similar age to Wernher regardless of which fictional age you select). Like, Einstein was a socialist and opposed to the Manhattan Project; why couldn't they have made the loveable Doc a Jewish scientist, Spielberg?
Dulci's mom is similar to Loraine in that she's "half-stupid." "Bad timeline" Loraine lectured Marty about vice, only to change her tune when Marty rewrites the past; Dulci's mother taught her daughter about contraceptives, but also sees rape everywhere and defers to heteronormative male authority. Bitch, please; negotiating frankly doesn't "kill the romance" (an idea made from ignorance that fascism and neoliberalism absolutely cherish in their gradient of canonical, heteronormative love stories); forming boundaries and building trust is sexy. That's what healthy relationships are, including working ones. They don't have to be entirely sexual all of the time or even part of the time. However, if they are sexual, then it behooves both sides to be open and honest. This can take different forms. I'm a middle-sized trans woman (170 pounds) and can help relieve stress by fucking Dulci's sweet little pussy when they're feeling it; but Dulci actually prefers big, strong "teddy bear" men who don't ask for sex at all—who just protect her without involving sex during the exchange. As long as everyone's on board ahead of time, then no harm, no foul. More importantly, such negotiations can extend to experimentation and labor as things to rescue from their sex-coercive arrangements (and pornographically appropriated equivalents). Let's cap off the section by exploring how both of these can be rescued without involving prom.
First up, experimentation. For example, Cuwu once wanted me to fuck them while they were asleep, telling me in advance they were taking sleeping pills for a consent-non-consent ritual (how's that for rhythmically ceremonial, Doc). The iconoclastic idea, here, was appreciative peril—a sex-positive instance of controlled dissociation to help Cuwu deal with their own trauma by facing it in a controlled environment where they have all the power as the sub. Normally rape is impossible when both parties mutually consent. However, it's still a trust-building exercise as consent-non-consent requires the dom not to actually harm the sub during paralysis, bondage, etc. The same idea applies to the Gothic ideas of "necrophilia" and "live burial"—paradoxically enjoyed during metaphorical, BDSM ceremonies that explore psychosexual trauma through regressive healing: i.e., without condoning the historical-material abuse these sex-positive rituals are based on.
For example, in Metalocalypse (2006) a male band member is having a one-way conversation with a girl in a literal coma. Afraid of the girl and wanting to separate, pre-coma, now the guy doesn't actually want to break up with her because she's useful to him as "the ultimate girlfriend." This skit is arguably funny because it's patently absurd; it's also terrifyingly sad but true, rape being Hogle's "ghost of the counterfeit"—re:
an abject reality or hidden barbarity—buried inside media that, under neoliberal Capitalism, has become a series of increasingly blind, hypnotizing simulacra—Hogle's hauntological process of abjection, according to David Punter, "displaces the hidden violence of present social structures, conjures them up again as past, and falls promptly under their spell" (source).
In other words, the ghost of the counterfeit sublimates things that historically-materially haven't gone anywhere, but have gotten "funnier" over time (e.g., Beetlejuice, 1988: "I've seen The Exorcist  about a hundred sixty-seven times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it!").
This kind of compound, appropriative/appreciative peril illustrates the difference between negotiated boundaries and compelled boundaries/manufactured consent—i.e., choosing to be a "doll" in a sex-positive rape fantasy (Cuwu's schtick) versus being compelled into a doll-like role in literal and figurative forms of coerced rape by those in power (appreciative rape fantasies can be intense, however, and can potentially affect the dom far more intensely than the sub; they did with me because I was awake and Cuwu wasn't, though I don't regret partaking in them). Faustian "agreements" more broadly have a habit of "getting worse all the time"—e.g., Darth Vader's warning to Lando Calrissian: "I am altering the conditions of our agreement; pray I do not alter them further!" However, "deals" made through force or lies are not deals at all; they're slavery and exploitation, even when dressed up. That's what neoliberalism is beneath "the magic." Cis-het men historically-materially treat women like de facto stress toys without their consent, transforming them into their pets, their property or their compelled sex dolls. For privileged, sexist men, intimacy is automatically sexual and rapacious to varying degrees; for battered/compelled women, this invokes body dysphoria: plastic, assimilated bodies made to please men; i.e., Stepford wives (with eating disorders being an extra variable—incredibly dangerous, but also shameful and secretive). This "Barbie Doll effect" amounts to colonization/manufactured appearance—plastic surgery and purity/moderacy and sexy outfits (exhibit 8a). It also leads to compelled brides through the Christofascist return to tradition; e.g., the Mormons' coercive polygamy intrinsically linked to settler colonialism.
This ghost of the counterfeit is detrimental to workers within capital. For example, in my mid-20s I once had someone approach me asking me to illustrate them a fantasy about a man who turned women into sex dolls against their will—a bit like Jeffery Dahmer lobotomizing his victims with hydrochloric acid, except in the client's story the syringe merely incapacitated the girls long enough for him to submerge them in a magic bath. Said bath literally turned the girl's bodies to rubber but kept their minds active—displaced/dissociative violence in action. Eventually I learned to say no to weird clients like these, but back then I was younger and poorer. I drew the story because I felt like I needed the money. However, I also thought, "This is just a story but it feels like a horror story outside of the text—like the person I'm working for is a devil-in-disguise." Eventually my shame eclipsed my fiscal needs and I learned to form boundaries.
Creepy art commissions aside, labor can also be transmuted into iconoclastic, sex-positive forms. In the case of Cuwu but also Dulci, I helped them rescue their labor from sex-coercive arrangements we formed together—by experimenting with them as our sex, art and friendships intersected in different ways per case. Like Cuwu and I once did, Dulci and I do sex work and make art together. They provide and I provide and we communicate openly without guilt, secrecy or shame. It's so much simpler than how it would be under heteronormative arrangements. Neither one of us wants to get married and have kids—i.e., serve the state's will in nostalgically propagandized ways like Back to the Future. That movie's hauntological song-and-dance (all so Marty can get his dick wet by compelling his own parents to get back together) is every bit as emotionally manipulative as it sounds (the 1946 palimpsest, It's a Wonderful Life, nakedly fear-mongers independent women, presenting George Bailey's wife as being entirely reliant on broke, hopeless dreamers and—funnily enough—Peeping Toms).
Marty's plan is terrible for several reasons. Not only should it have not worked; it presents George McFly as this self-made man when in truth, the entire coercively manufactured production made it possible for him to "get Lorraine back," then take all the credit after privatizing* it in "his" novel. Back to the Future is easy to like; dialectically-materially it's a giant, dangerous lie. That's not "just" Reagan's 1980s in a nutshell; it's something that's continuously being sold to the next-in-line as "wholesome, good, and safe" for workers. Like, fuck that noise! I can enjoy "Earth Angel" with the orchestral accompaniment and refuse to endorse Ronald Reagan, Robert Zemeckis, et al in the same breath!
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 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 like this Kaiju, Lovecraftian, monster-porn dating sim).
Under Patriarchal Capitalism, the creation of monsters is binarized/sexually dimorphic. This is what I call "the Pygmalion effect," something we'll explore through this book: Heteronormative men are Pygmalion "kings" who create monsters in their male-dominated industries; girls/queer people are monsters/ monstrous, sexy props/de facto brides or chattel that sell abject merchandise through blind pastiche. This applies many different registers—from Alfred Stieglitz to Frank Frazetta; to George Lucas to Ronald Reagan to Steven King to Jordan Peterson; to Elvis to Michael Jackson; to Dracula to God. All are kings, all are imperfectly and asymmetrically imitated by wannabe-monarchs—the female queens/princesses coercively wedded to powerful men and their Cartesian visions/misogynistic nightmares like the brides of Dracula or Frankenstein, etc (the marital sublimation of dynastic power exchange, hereditary rites and patrilineal descent).
By this same token, female "queens" like Elvira (exhibit 12, a proletarian queen) and Ripley (a liminal, sometimes-proletarian "space trucker" queen/sometimes-bourgeois "TERF queen," exhibit 8b) or your run-of-the-mill sex workers rebel/conform to varying degrees. Either praxial type is distinguished by their good-faith or bad-faith façade; i.e., what is the queen-in-question angry about and what are they fighting for behind the persona—be they a witch, werewolf, zombie, vampire or some hybrid thereof (with
all these canonical monsters personifying venereal diseases but also bourgeois metaphors for homosexual* men: Roddy McDowall from Fright Night
 performing a queer/queenly
horror show host similar to Elvira's outspoken iconoclastic role as the "mistress of the dark" being a real-life lesbian
*What Dale Townshend once told me in grad school was—in the early 1800s—the "love that dare not speak its name!" only to become "the love that wouldn't shut up!" by the time Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. "Love" is of course a tremendous misnomer, assigned to queerness as a kind of canonically monstrous "false love" tied to rape, disease and the disillusion of marriage and decency. Likewise, while good sexual health and education are important, they are also not the state's aim. Rather, the state uses outmoded, Gothicized fears of venereal disease to stigmatize select groups as "spreaders" that need to be contained, controlled, even killed.
Remember, pastiche is merely the presence of remediated praxis, which Capitalism reduces to cheap, mass-produced counterfeits—called "blind" parody by Jameson and showcased in literal and figurate examples of the gothic mode on various registers: workers acting like monsters; monsters representing workers, the bourgeoisie or their social-sexual power exchanges and hereditary rites. As sublimated trauma, monsters are easier to confront, attack or befriend in complicated ways (doubles). Sticking with a dialectical-material approach, these monsters, lairs and phobias can be canonical or iconoclastic within oppositional praxis, and there's room for liminal, in-between gradients, too (such as a closeted Roddy McDowall, below, afraid of a straight "lady-killer"). For the remaining two sections of the manifesto we'll examine these remaining things in order.
Monster Modes, Totalitarianism and Opposing Forces
"People have given us many names: ghouls, ghosts, night wanderers, vampires, werewolves, and so on. But we are all members of the same family; tormented souls who must return forever to the scenes of our lost humanity. You may hang garlic or a crucifix above your bed, prepare silver bullets to shoot us, call in holy men to exorcize us from your home, but you cannot defeat us. Our name is Legion, and we are too many for you because we are the forces of evil that reflect the evil within your own souls."
—Michael Page, The Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were (1985)
"Science is real, monsters are not!"
—Weird school principal
to Sean and Patrick, The Monster Squad (1987)
We've looked at several monsters already. Something important to remember that we'll unpack as we continue through the manifesto (and the entire book) is that all monsters are liminal; liminal expression involves pastiche and doubles in opposition, which is what monsters primarily are. This expression requires the remediated praxis of pastiche, the double's a failure of sublimation, and liminality's conflict on the surface of the image (for personas, not spaces). The Humanities primer in Volume Two is dedicated to covering the main monster bases: zombies and the other undead egregores—vampires, ghosts and composite bodies—as well as demons and animalistic "totems," chimeras, sentient animals and their associate reanimating magics. To be as thorough as I can be, here are most of the monsters this book has already explored/will explore (with examples of their canonical critical functions being in parenthesis):
- zombies (the state of exception)
- werewolves (furries; symbols of rape, madness, and primal lust)
- vampires (the aristocracy and venereal disease)
- aliens (xenophobia, abduction)
- clones (assimilation, doubles)
- reanimations (dead bodies, statues, golems, suits of armor, etc)
- Mother Nature (natural disasters, plagues)
- orcs and goblins (the state of exception, tokenized conflict)
- 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)
- black knights (fascism)
- Nazis (centrist caricature)
- composite bodies (Frankenstein's Creature, but also cyborgs)
- robots (and golems, including unusual ones: Mr. Stay Puft from Ghostbusters, 1984)
- ghosts (the uncanny)
- mythical warriors (ninjas, knights, samurai)
- mythical artists (mad musicians, artists, scientists)
- pod people (clones, alien invasion, mad science, etc)
- chimeras (anthropomorphic, like mermaids; or not—the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Cú Chulainn, Lucifer's non-angel forms in Paradise Lost)
- demons (variable)
- hags (aging)
- witches (vice characters, pagan/non-Christian rituals)
- Archaic Mothers (ancient, abject, really pissed-off vice characters; e.g., the alien queen from Aliens or Mother Brain from Metroid, 1986)
women (re: violent women "acting like men" from a traditional,
canonical viewpoint—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; Rumi from Perfect
Blue, 1997, and Ripley/Samus Aran from Aliens/Metroid.)
- archaic babies (the spawn of the void; e.g., Giygas "the mighty idiot" from Mother 2, 1994)
- space bugs (see: Archaic Mothers, but also—Communists)
- hybrids (vampire-zombie witches, Zombie-Vampire Capitalism and Zombie-Vampire Voltron, which, yes, we'll both get to—outlining the concept in the "Re-Learning to See" section in Volume One before returning to the idea in Volume Three, Chapter Four, section "Kento's Dream")
Allowed by the elite to flourish in canonical forms that uphold the status quo, these monsters are literally legion. So, I may miss a few in my own trans woman's admittedly 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.
(exhibit 13a: Assorted still images from Fire in the Sky, 1993; The Blob, 1988, The Fly, 1986; and Body Snatchers, 1993. All deal with alien invasions or mad scenes of foreign, irrational space, technology and occupants foisted onto an American setting. While there's a healthy degree of splatter, the genuine sentiment is abject horror/xenophobia—i.e., stranger danger, but from beyond the stars! "Watch the skies!" indeed.)
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 other ludic spaces (for this one, refer to my PhD research on the subject)
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"):
theory (outlined in "The Gist")
(game theory, which we'll reveal as we go)
- queer theory
(which we'll also reveal as we go)
(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
(exhibit 13b: A
crossover illustration of Samus Aran in Axiom Verge, purposely revisited
to be more sex-positive and "laborwave." To
this, the idea was less about being faithful a previous visualization of either
series and more about re-drawing it playfully in ways that give room for my
arguments and theories represented through Samus herself as transformed: no
longer a servant of the state [the Galactic Federation] but an errant traveler
finding herself in strange, new, colorful worlds. Gender trouble aside, the
parody of heteronormative standards also allows for pure ontological joy unto
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-Communism 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
- 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, 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 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
These canonical fears work as "starting points" that iconoclastic praxis can transform in highly flexible ways—first analyzed by Gothic theory to describe and critique the material world through art; then, used through future artistic generation to reeducate the Gothic imagination into an increasingly sex-positive force. This mounting power can then reshape the material world, all while preserving and remembering the barbaric past as it gradually turns into something new along liminal pathways.
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. I've coined this incentivization "the
problem of greed" in my own academic work about Weber's Protestant work ethic in Tolkien's The Hobbit and
Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice"; the
problem of greed (and its addressal) takes different forms depending on who's
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 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—mostly Protestants; re: Weber). 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: 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 executives 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; i.e., he did good works, so he can do no wrong!
fascists, 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 elite
in violent ways," like Mike Tyson for Gus
D'Amato or Don King. 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).
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 (ibid.). 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 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).
Whether appreciative/appropriative or bourgeois/proletarian, dissociation and displacement generally require a vice character. This can be Shakespeare's Shylock, Tolkien's Smaug the Stupendous, Lucas' Darth Vader, King Diamond's Abigail, etc—the killer, fun villain; the "root for the bad guy" jester who speaks truth to power. Overt "clownish" examples include Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI (1994) or the Man with the Thistle-down Hair from Susanna Clarke's British (and utterly superb) magical-realist/alternative-historical novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004), etc. It often has Orientalist/fairyland "changeling" components and nebulous wish fulfillment for or against the status quo: Something is not as it seems, is rotten in Denmark, but the audience quickly finds themselves cheering for whomever in an ignominious and oscillating affair. This can take personified and animalized forms, but we'll swiftly examine two: Ester from the Orphan franchise and the killer lion from Beast (exhibit 13d, top, 2022).
(exhibit 13d: Ester doesn't have green skin, herself, but still denotes the Orientalist
phobias of a "changeling" that steals one's child and assumes their
identity for material gain. To make their skin a color other than white, would draw
attention to the conflict as racialized, thus visible, which commonly occurs in
fantasy narratives with non-human races like orcs, elves and drow. In stories
like Wuthering Heights, 1852, Heathcliff is the dark-haired foster
child, treated as an outsider based on his physical appearance despite having white
skin; in the absence of dark skin, other dark features—such as the eyes, hair
and "spirit"—will be used to depreciation a scapegoat's origins
within colonial models.)
Ester is Orientalism par excellence—the estranged, cuckolded dad from First Kill (exhibit 13d, bottom, 2022) subversively becoming "the child" of the family trapped unwittingly between two dueling false parents: our changeling "lost child," her original double secretly murdered by her own killer son and mother (who boasts to Ester about her own "superior" Mayflower heritage—colonizer pride disguised as the dutiful wife and son)! Amid the delicious turmoil, our old ghost-of-the-counterfeit friend incest (specially the Oedipal complex) is dug up, explored and (re)buried (with Ester very much a "phallic," moe figure); out-of-joint trauma exists at a picture-perfect home rife with discord. It's classic Gothic oscillation/push-pull, wherein a displaced/dissociative, personified critique plays out in highly cliché ways: a failure to sublimate, uncannily subversive as we spectate "bad guy" Ester being made into a con artist by a transgenerational curse intimated by the wicked mother of the canonical bloodline. A murder most foul, indeed, and lots of complicated, oppositional wish fulfillment happening here. It's oddly fun.
Beast applies the same complex trauma and wish fulfillment "inside of the text"—i.e., Derrida's Deconstructionist idea that no outside exists, but for us exists between the half-real space of the monstrous story and oppositional praxis. During the opening scene, a family of all-black poachers kill a pride of lions, only to be wiped out by the surviving father lion (the pro-colonist wish to kill people of color who poach, despite them only doing so because of the "Savage Continent" being raped and pillaged by the West well into Neocolonialism). From here, Idris Elba embodies the wish fulfillment of Afronormativity—similar to homonormativity or queernormativity in that a token person of color father figure and his family-in-peril must defend themselves superimposed onto the nuclear family structure, on par with Jurassic Park's (1994) neoliberal sleight-of-hand: the breeding of all-female island populated with killer dinosaurs (the Archaic Mother trope) being trapped, hunted and killed by the all-white family defending themselves from a recuperated evil corporation and benevolent old, white colonizer who "just wanted" to build an amusement park for kids (with the "blood sucking" lawyer being the opportunistic one, not the old British patriarch. Yeah, right).
Our aim is to teach a basic-if-valuable concept with far-reaching results: "Don't be an emotionally stupid, uneducated sex pest/fiend or giant asshole by abusing sex workers (which Gothic villains do by default) through war, rape, and systemic abuse as codified (and canonically taught) by cultural, 'fast food gargoyles (egregores)' produced by Capitalism." If "Promethean" is the end result of Capitalism, then "Zombie-Vampire" (a concept we'll examine more in the roadmap and primer) describes Capitalism's self-destructive effects felt through the minds of workers within the canonical Gothic mode: bourgeois zombie-vampire workers functioning as little blind, deaf and dumb soldier-parasites who exploit themselves and others, brainlessly consuming till the cows come home. Zombie-Vampire Capitalism, then, is a factory of canonical simulacra that become customary warnings, teaching affected workers through ideological stigmas, monsters, lairs, etc to fearfully toe the line.
To this, Gothic Communism confronts and transmutes the canonical gargoyle as continuously remade through cultures already stricken by two basic totalitarian ideas (from Joost Meerlo's The Rape of the Mind, 1956)
and a third: thought crimes/venial sins (all-seeing governments or authorities in secular/religious forms; e.g., Santa Claus) that outwardly manifest as occult "markings." Canonical monsters often symbolize venereal disease marked to mortally sinful activities/cardinal sins worthy of capital punishment toward marginalized groups: death and reactive abuse through selective punishment. The state decides what's innocent in the eyes of the law. This amounts to thought-/vice-crime personas depicted canonically against the state, receiving state punishment as righteous. Even with iconoclastic liminality there's a thin line between pleasure and pain, virtue and sin: "It hurts so good," indeed (and remember the BDSM mantra: "Hurt, not harm")!
- 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).
For neoliberals, this amounts to the bad team (orcs, demons, bugs, etc); for fascists, this amounts to the scapegoat, the target of revenge (which we'll explore more heavily in Volume Three, Chapter Two). In oppositional praxis, all of these things are doubled in both directions: for or against settler colonialism, worker exploitation and genocide; for or against the status quo and state abuse. State abusive includes a gradient: open/grim, fascist harvest versus more oblique/veiled, neoliberal forms of exploitation (total war versus sanctions)—i.e., good cop, bad cop. This myth disguises the fact that all cops serve the state, not workers. In praxial terms, cops are class traitors; they lie about their own violence in service to the state, turning everything around them into a functional prison.
The same goes for false revolutionaries (re: Parenti on fascism), reactionary defenders and fortress-mind practitioners of the neoliberal/fascist "cop" and its gradient of offshoots: the "prison sex" of war orphans and their bad-faith "beards" and other heteronormative disguises—and token, normalized queers, TERFs and other marginalized subordinates—dogwhistling sublimated coercion, but also false recruitment promises that groom future killers and build future literal/figurative prisons under Capitalism. The promise reads like Uncle Sam: "We want you! 'Enrich' your character and become the exclusive havers-of-sex, -power, -guns, -intelligence, -muscles, etc" (we'll explore this thoroughly in Volume Three, especially from Chapter Two onwards).
Disguises, however, remain incredibly important for iconoclastic praxis—aliases, alter-egos and egregores camouflaging oneself from heteronormative reprisals by blending in. But sooner or later, exposure happens at a societal level; it must or we're all just in the closet. The beard is "shaved," the lavender marriage is exposed, the Trojan is outed or accused, the gay is threatened with burial. TERFs, for example, are sublimations; they sublimate trauma reactively—i.e., under reactive abuse (re: the "prison sex" phenomena) becoming violent or submissively co-dependent towards power (there's always a stronger man, always a weaker woman, etc). The blank slate, or tabula rasa, of Capitalism as a false/bad parent—it's all that reactionaries can understand. Through warrior culture and rape culture, then, all bourgeois workers become slaves to those in power. Meanwhile, those in power or aligned with power—be they warlord, dark lords, neoliberal statesmen, or desk murderers; all are "chicken hawks" making workers fight amongst themselves. This involves recruitment of soldiers at different tiers of management along the chain of command in its various parallel forms (the state, the military and the public, etc). Whatever the form, iconoclasts must resist all of them (and their disjointed, knotty goals) to be successful anarchists, generally through clever disguises and doubled language (which proletarian workers interpret and recreate in oft-liminal, subversive ways).
Doubling is when sublimation starts to fail, expressed in a liminal, ghostly fashion—a copy contrasted against the hero as also copied from the world around them. The plurality here is complex, messy and legion, which this book will touch upon throughout its entirety. Is Link a neoliberal twink/twunk or hunk for the state? Against it? What about Dark Link? Is he a Gay Communist or a fascist? Are they "gay for each other" with all that homoerotic sword-crossing? It all depends on dialectical-material scrutiny and the artist, patron, critic and consumer within oppositional praxis as oscillating mid-struggle. Our job is to make the needle tip towards the successful development of anarcho-Communism, then continually drive that point home.
Double aren't "just" Gothic clichés (though they can be extremely cliché when used in "blind" pastiche); they're dialectical-material effects that materialize over space and time. 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 versus 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, hauntology, 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., carceral hauntology.
- 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).
The Three Cs alienate, binarize (divide) and exploit workers. They operate in dialectical-material opposition to their Gothic-Communist doubles, the—you guessed it—"Three Iconoclastic Doubles" of Gothic Communism:
- 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, hauntology, 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.
- 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).
The Three Iconoclastic doubles de-alienate, unify and empower workers Bob-Ross-style ("Anyone can paint"—i.e., be a Communist through the joy of iconoclastic praxis. In fact, Ross himself converted to a peaceful style after his American air force days, vowing never to yell at anyone ever again and loving animals, but also becoming the de facto "ASMR king" after his own death—with slight touches of BDSM thrown in with that naughty-naughty paintbrush). The
fact that no one remembers Ross' military past (we should not forget that about
him) is less vital than the fact that no one tries to imitate that part of him:
Anti-war sentiment, communalized art and a genuine love for nature are Bob
Ross' immortal legacy (similar to Howard Zinn being remembered for his anti-war writings, not his WW2 military career).
However, while the dialectical-material outcome of opposition is praxial—canonical or iconoclastic, bourgeois or proletariat—these praxes must be synthesized through each worker's social sexual skills and emotional/Gothic intelligence (which we'll cover in the roadmap) that involve various ways of looking at media (whose Humanity "lenses" we'll examine during the primer). From there, proletarian praxis amounts to our aforementioned creative "successes" in regards to the Six Rs and Four Gs within the Gothic mode—re: sensing and illustrating mutual consent, descriptive sexuality and cultural appreciation through informed consumption and ironic performance, including sex-positive fetishes, kinks, BDSM and Gothic sensations as reverse-abject, emancipatorily hauntological, Communist-chronotopic and revolutionarily cryptonymic (all of which we'll explore much more in-depth in Volume Three).
Doubles and liminality are a natural/material consequence of praxis-in-action and demonstrate universal adaptability if not a universal appeal (re: to borrow from and expand on Slavoj Žižek, this can be music, but also exploitation media, ghost stories, or performance art, etc). In the Gothic mode, a double (a monster, lair, or theory by which to analyze them) isn't automatically canonical or iconoclastic. Rather, this must be determined post hoc ("after the fact"), not a priori ("before experience"). However, the Canonical Doubles tend to oppose the other group together. If something is carceral, for example, it's probably also sex-coercive and complicit concerning our theories and materials; if something is emancipatory, it's probably also sex-positive and revolutionary concerning our theories and materials (taking liminal gradients/parallel space into consideration of course, which this book will try to do its very gold-star best). This actually makes the Six Gothic Doubles two pairs of three in dialectical-material opposition within the Gothic praxial mode. As we'll see moving forward, the Gothic mode—regardless of the register—tends to convey praxial conflict in phenomenological, linguo-material terms:
(exhibit 14: Left: the appreciative peril and liminal merchandise of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure; right: the mysterious and somewhat-creepy Grey Man from LSD Dream Emulator, 1998 [shown to me by Zeuhl, whose own Vaporwave aesthetic/appreciation in their own work was inspired by the game]. Meant to emulate dreams, LSD Dream Emulator is largely generative/randomized in terms of its music and visuals. There are no "enemies," in the conventional sense; a level ends when you touch a wall. However, the "main villain" of the game is the Grey Man, who can suddenly appear behind you in alarming ways. His unpredictable and immediately uncanny veneer is disarmingly apt (arguably inspiring the leveled-up terror, wandering boss approach and generative musical tactics employed in Alien: Isolation, fourteen years later.)
Let's briefly combine these ideas the way this book does—liminally. Cryptonyms, in economic terms, alter something's perceived value, but also its appearance and/or ontology (existence) in relation to the state's concealed abuse of it as something to privatize (this can be a worker, an image of them—their likeness—or chattel animals, etc). In fact, the Four Gs all describe how Capitalism alters something's perceived value and language through the three bourgeois trifectas in pursuit of state profit within the Superstructure. For example, deep fake porn—as used by creepy-dude Atric—reduces someone to a cheap, voyeuristic copy without their consent. It's revenge-porn simulacra, but nevertheless leads to abject exposure along the usual lines of power exchange—operating according to male workers being granted the cheap concession of female worker abuse amid their own exploitation/preferential mistreatment under Capitalism (often in hauntological ways; e.g., applying deep fake to American Psycho's sex worker scene). During canonical praxis, such replication "lobotomizes" workers, acclimating them to a coerced, hyperreal state: to refuse to fight their abusers when sublimation fails, or to fight other workers to the death (re: class sabotage/worker in-fighting: "They're killing each other."). Sublimation failure happens during liminal expressions, which make something uncanny (re: from Freud's unheimlich, meaning "unhomely"—keep that word in mind when we discuss ghosts or liminal expression).
In turn, oppositional praxis leads to the synthesis of oppositional emotions, monsters and social-sexual behaviors (which monsters codify) during times of linguo-material conflict—re: cultivating the Superstructure, which is what synthesis is. Much of this "culture war" happens through code-switching between workers and the material-natural world around them. Relative to these opposing factors, there are—you guessed it—oppositional groupings: bourgeois vs proletarian
- anger—i.e., possessive or bad-faith, "destructive" anger and defense of the state vs the commune/comrade worker's constructive anger (exhibit 8b) as a legitimate defense from the state; e.g., police abuse and DARVO tactics
- gossip—i.e., co-dependent, "prison sex" mentalities vs interdependent girl talk and rape prevention
"blind" pastiche and unironic quoting vs "perceptive"
pastiche and subversive, ironic quoting
- egregores, including 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 (Samus Aran) vs the proletarian zombie-vampire-unicorn pillow princess (insert yours, here).
While we will examine these ideas more during the synthesis roadmap, primer and throughout the entire book, please don't fret; they are meant to be understood fairly loosely and their synonyms can be swapped interchangeably (canonical/blind pastiche) as long as the basic dialectical-material relationship (and its symptoms) are communicated.
"Cops and victims," for example, often
becomes hauntologized, presenting in fantastical forms that mirror real-life
examples. A "girl boss" witch can angrily serve the state by being the
heroine or the villain in ways that uphold the status quo, making her role
functionally bourgeois; a real-life cop serves the state, often LARPing as a
death knight while they brutalize their state-assigned, hauntologically abject
victims during witch-hunts. The same conversion applies to
proletarian representations and representatives. To that, egregores personify
oppositional praxis, making them fundamentally liminal. This means they'll
invoke power at different registers according to various titles, rankings
and positions: e.g., a witch queen, princess, courtier or peasant.
Despite her label, a witch queen isn't automatically bourgeois, any more than making
her a zombie and/or vampire would. Function determines one's
role in oppositional praxis, which must be determined through
dialectical-material analysis of any aspect of the natural-material
To this, oppositional praxis during Gothic Communism is less like the discrete, nine-squared D&D Alignment Chart (see: above) and more like a Venn Diagram of the same components doubled and super-imposed over each other. Hence, why revolutionary acronyms like ACAB ("All Cops Are Bad") are handy but also why you still have to distinguish between who's genuine/good-faith and who isn't/bad-faith during synthesized praxis. Code-switching intuition, then, becomes something to develop, like a sixth sense. Is someone a cop/undercover for the state? Are they "for real" or do they mean you harm working for their true boss, the Man (as Deckard the blade runner did when he "retired" Zora in the streets)? The fact remains, whether of Gothic canon or its historical-material parallels, the hidden tyrant trope is often a displaced, bourgeois scapegoat—a "Greater Evil" fall-guy to take the blame for the elite: Adolf Hitler, Victor Frankenstein, Jeffery Dahmer, or that rich dude from the 2022 Hellraiser remake, etc. Meanwhile, girl bosses are recuperated feminists working for the state class enemies, like J. K. Rowling (a hyperbolic example, her billionaire status being the ultimate carrot to dangle in front of the poor working class).
Oppositional praxis materializes in regular people consuming and absorbing these stories in ways that might be bourgeois, thus rapacious, or not bourgeois, thus safe to workers; it happens in our relationships, whatever form they might take. For example, legitimate anger experienced post breakup/after a honeymoon phase is fine. Experimentation is fine (try anal and see what you like, for example). Coercion is not fine. Love—be it serious or casual, closed or open, FWBs ("Friends with Benefits") or fuck buddies, extramarital or intramarital—is fluid, seasonal; its "seasonal" boundaries must be respected by empathetically recognizing the shifting socio-material parameters involved. Someone could be lonely, drunk, homeless, poor, single, cold. However, the situational "fluffery" of a perceived knight-in-shining-armor can quickly become a nightmare when said knight, conditioned by the state to be possessive and duplicitous, love bombs you in a cycle of diminishing emotional returns; who, through Michel Foucault's sense of discipline and punish, gaslights, gatekeeps, and girl bosses you—in short, when they coerce you. E.g., Jadis was a perfidious protector, utterly bogus. The moral, here is that canon can blind you if you refuse to critique it—generally by listening to commonplace voices that make up the pedagogy of the oppressed: "Most women and minorities live under constant fear of rape and
murder—i.e., sexual exploitation and harm." Moderate "empathy" or "being realistic" is just compromise with the state; radical empathy is needed to liberate those who have been radicalized into chattel slaves by police agents—cops, cowboys, knights, etc.
"Oh, my god!" indeed, Grandpa Jojo.
Manifesto Postscript: "Healing from Rape"—Addressing "Corruption," DARVO and Police Abuse with the Pedagogy of the Oppressed
"Crooked cops. Do they come any other way?"
—Porter, Payback (1997)
"When he was nearly 19, my son Eddie died. Of course, I was very, very sad, but I didn't really talk about it a lot. For quite a long time, it was bottled up inside me. I was caught between two feelings. I wanted people to know that I was sad, but, at the same time, I didn't know how to say it. So, in a funny sort of way, I didn't want them to know, because that feels kind of weak. One day, a child said to me: What become of the Eddie in your poems? I suddenly had to say what happened to [my son]. So in front of a big audience, I said: "Eddie died." And the moment I said that, it gave me the courage to write the things down. And so that's what I did—I just wrote down how I felt. I even drew a picture—a funny, squiggly picture of me grinning like this, saying "This is me looking sad." Then, I just wrote straightaway and that turned into a book. In a funny sorta way, I felt better. I could feel good that I said that I feel bad. I know that sounds weird, but that's how I felt. So maybe if you wrote something down about how you feel, and maybe if you showed somebody that, that way we can help each other."
With the manifesto mostly concluded, you—dear reader—have the lion's share of this book's primary ideas. However, Sex Positivity is also trauma writing for me. Partly this is based autobiographically on my own abuse (as Gothic fiction often is); it's also based on reflections of abuse experienced by other workers that I feel an empathetic connection to (which queer people often do—collectively punished by the state and its moderate/reactionary defenders).
In the interests of preventing trauma for other sex workers, then, I want to be thorough (the same way Paulo Freire wanted to prevent world hunger after personally experiencing it); I want to include an illustration of praxis as something to absorb from our surroundings—not just canon, but our friends, family and fellow workers' trauma and intimations thereof. You should already be familiar with the idea thus far and the roadmap will cover it at length. However, I'm highlighting it here in honor of those more oppressed than myself as something this book gives special focus to. Even though I was abused, I also have considerable privilege as a white trans woman (who only came out at 36 years of age); my experiences working with sex workers have taught me that we can always learn from them as mutually oppressed workers—from their pedagogy of the oppressed.
Radical empathy can shape our own views about canon, informing personal/collective boundaries and lines in the sand to draw up future agreements and conditions with. This includes the canonical veneration of state paramilitary agents as something to undermine—police exceptionalism. As we'll explore in Volume Three (especially in Chapter Two), cops are not your friends; they serve the state. However nice your local sheriff may be, the state monopolizes violence and treats your violence defending yourself as a death warrant. When threatened or feeling threatened, cops will empty their magazines into you (as their "warrior" training tells them to), then go home and hug their wife; if pressed, they'll DARVO—re: Deny, Accuse, Reverse, Victim, Offender (memorize it; it's not just in this book)—or cry "corruption!"
We'll get to all that. However, keep this in mind as we move through this postscript, onto the roadmap, and back into the rest of the book: Heteronormativity and the colonial binary synthesizes police behaviors through canonical praxis, conditioning
- 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.
Dimorphic propaganda has a profound impact on how canonical violence is viewed. In men's eyes, women are soft and
fearsome ("the enemy is both weak and strong") but also alien and demonic—doubly so if they stand out, let alone refuse
to comply with authority (castration/emasculation fears). Meanwhile, the presence of dislocated, counterfeit rape denotes a ghost of the counterfeit that female/feminized workers want to survive and heal from. This includes whenever they encounter a perceived
threat: the police as false benefactors or people associated with the police, generally as victimized subordinates—i.e., the good, the bad, and the ugly of oppositional praxis
Rape and violence exist everywhere in America and Americanized countries; they're also doubled, made fun of in blind parodies that ultimately serve as little more than rape apologia. At the same time, the paradox of rape fantasies can be legitimately proletarian—with "flashing" exhibitionism (exhibit 53), private/public nudism, "breeding" kinks (exhibit 87) and other "ravishing" games intimating catharsis through boundary-setting exercises that reassure traumatized workers they are safe from social-sexual violence: compelled boundaries (segregation) and state power abuse as well as its various proponents in the working class, media, and paramilitary/military.
Opposite the class-conscious worker, however, you have the false-conscious, bad-faith efforts of the pro-bourgeois worker. Such laborers are a materially diverse group of class traitors that include standard-issue "weird nerds" and white, heteronormative reactionaries, but also fetishized minorities (token police, including hauntological iterations like the witch cop—something we'll examine in Volume Three, Chapter Two)
and assimilated activists. For example, TERFs adopt assimilative rape fantasies, bu
t also facilitate them for those in power—e.g., Ghislaine Maxwell for Princess Charles
. Girl bosses also exude "phallic" (traditionally masculine and bellicose) tendencies stemming from penis "envy" and rape trauma having become weaponized by ubiquitous torture porn constantly triggering them to behave in ways useful to the state. Meanwhile, straight men have gender envy and war/rape fears, which both groups project onto their assigned bourgeois subordinates/proletarian victims: the "prison sex" mentality. Once funneled through them, pro-state propaganda becomes Marx's aforementioned nightmare:
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. [...] Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language" (source).
"Like a nightmare on the brains of the living." It is a sobering concept whose dangerous re-investigation requires bravery and caution: Under Capitalism, people suck and do remarkably awful things to each other as a historical-material fact induced by Capitalism as a structure. Do not rely on the better angels of peoples' natures, especially empty platitudes and veiled/non-empty threats administered by reactionaries, moderates or cops (actual or figurative)!
Historical materiality is very much a vicious cycle of monopolized state violence stuck on repeat, including its nightmarish ambiguities, liminalities, egregores and deceptions. As police states oscillate between neoliberal and fascist forms, citizens go from sex pests to sex fiends in service of the state—dutifully attacking the state's enemies by becoming soldiers, but also soldiers-in-disguise: cops, class traitors, bourgeois detectives, etc. It spills into a civil war of spies, police and infiltrators who exchange their ability to love for their ability to protect the state from its assigned enemies. DARVO becomes common, labeling labor/antifascist movements as "terrorist" organizations.
(exhibit 15: Gemma from Ninja Scroll—in disguise as the Lord Chamberlain, having his way with a palace concubine. As leader of a brutal gang of rogue ninjas, Gemma is our recuperated Nazi. He rules from the shadows with forbidden magic with fear and dogma; his power is literally necromantic resurrection; his fascistic, thieving violence is deceptive, but also standard-issue—for the actual "warring states" period, but also its many reincarnations in late 20th/21st century popular media.)
Behind closed doors, cops underreport their own
"chattel rape" abuse towards those allegedly under their
"protection"—with "to serve and protect" and similar
slogans embossed on their prowler doors being constitutionally for the
state, not the people. Cops can marry you, then kill you and
lie about it and nothing happens; they can do this in public and get off with
paid administrative leave before getting rehired somewhere else. It's literally
protocol. Meanwhile, damning data such as "40%* of police families experience domestic abuse" or
"1 in 5 women are raped" is a
gross underestimation, wherein decades-old studies hampered by or actually
performed by the police use language that limits the ability to even express
what violence and rape are. It's misleading. The real numbers are far worse,
but also unknown—fudged to keep the image of the state strong but also squeaky
clean (a phenomena performed by neoliberals and fascists alike).
Meanwhile, various forms of potentially sex-positive BDSM, kink and fetishes are canonized—reduced to cheap criminal caricatures. Coercively sublimated in ways that uphold the status quo through bad play's guilty pleasures, these domination bids are really servile emotional manipulation and internalized reactive abuse (which we'll examine more thoroughly in Volume Three, Chapter Two). For minorities and queer people, assimilation fantasies and bias become a deadly and embarrassing game of compromise—re: black skin, white masks; tokenism, class traitors, race traitors, "minority police," class sabotage, etc. It becomes a magnified form of exclusive (rare) promotion, limited to the "special" slave—the self-policing Judas within the minority group(s) wishing to escape reactive abuse for self-preservation and comfort. If "drought season" makes people glut themselves, manufactured scarcity, consent and conflict present like a bad game show with killer judges, but amplified beyond how it is applied to more privileged workers. All of this becomes normalized under Capitalism and its myriad sublimations: "Work, breed, produce future slaves and soldiers within the nuclear family as something to defend, compete within" (Bakhtin's dynastic power exchange and hereditary rites). Anything outside of that is neglected, ignored, or rejected.
The perils of Capitalism are so vast and expansive that I'm seriously having trouble listing them all. It doesn't help that I could easily take one of these symptoms and write an entire book about it; e.g., police "corruption" (a neoliberal euphemism for the normal exploitation of workers by the state). But as praxis and synthesis are alive inside Capitalism, it behooves us to look at the structure as it (and we inside of it) live and breathe. When we synthesize praxis, cultivating the Superstructure inside Capitalism, it happens between workers and the natural and material world in continuum. This "sticky" relationship needs to be considered in its totality for iconoclastic praxis and worker solidarity to occur. While the Superstructure shapes material production, iconoclastic praxis allows workers to shape, acquire, and learn from the world in ways that prevent regular abuses under Capitalism—real abuses, but also (re)imagined abuses: the dehumanized cops-in-disguise, but also the "gargoyles" that scare us into submission, walking among us like mirrors that reflect the state's hidden-yet-visible workings on our vulnerable, developing minds:
"Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?"
As strong and brutal as he already was, Macbeth wasn't sure what he was looking at when going to kill King Duncan. Neither was Kyle Reese, Sarah, or us completely sure when swimming in Cameron's Los Angeles as a dislocation of state power and artifice. For example, canon tells us that Arnold Schwarzenegger, in T2, is playing the T-800 as "a force for good" (who used to be bad, once); but remember what I said about the state being untrustworthy and inherently violent? Just as Skynet isn't a dumb-machine, but "got smart, a new order of intelligence" founded on militaristic, human ways of thinking and conquering the world, so too, then, is Capitalism Skynet unabstracted, in totality.
Cameron's story was a fairytale, a dream. There is no Jesus-Christ figure coming to save us. "No fate but what we make for ourselves," right? This starts with reshaping how we see canon. Sadly the state and its police encourage "looking" in increasingly violent ways, which then require unlearning by listening to those who have been actively hunted: the pedagogy of the oppressed. This comes from trauma according to those who have been raped literally by so-called "protectors," or figuratively in canonical depictions. Said depictions treat cis-het, white women like spooked chattel—let alone queer people, ethnic minorities or their various intersections, who are abjected or automatically die in horror films. This demands radical empathy from those less traumatized towards those more traumatized. While I have been beaten and mentally tortured, for example, I have never been sexually raped; I am AMAB and the odds are simply far lower by any conceivable metric that I would be. However, I know many workers who have been raped. Listening to them has helped radically change my systemically privileged views, but also help me reflect on my own lived trauma and complex emotional abuse.
For this section, we'll examine two such workers: Mavis and Cuwu.
Mavis is someone I haven't mentioned until now, but will mention more throughout this book. They have had countless experiences with rape (dissociation makes you forget or "block out" the trauma, which makes it hard to remember). According to Mavis, rape is awful, but it's also over quick and you can dissociate (something that plurality allows for); also, according to Mavis, they'd rather experience rape than prolonged mental abuse, the latter which can go on for years like a war of menticidal attrition—including threats of rape amid diminishing returns of genuine care after the initial "love-bombing" phase (say
nothing of the historical-material variants if you're living in someone's
family estate, or equally bad, being
shamed, neglected or ignored by so-called "rape apologia" or "rape
ranking" amid rape culture)
. Speaking from my own experiences, it's the kind of thing you can't block out. Over time, it become can be buried alive—hidden in plain sight all around a "cursed" location littered with markers of power, but also illusions-of-illusions (crypt narrative) of normality that broadcast imprecise ambivalence.
It's precisely these iffy phenomenological disturbances and partial disconnections/connections that one relates to in continuum: i.e., being a part of the space-in-question, the broken home that is nevertheless one's poisoned wellspring and haunted library of nostalgic storybooks. Trauma lives in the body but also the chronotope as
something the body absorbs things from—the haunted house as returned to,
feeling uncannily familiar and alien, but also already-occupied by
something close-at hand during uncertain, liminal, feudalized ownership
(which we'll discuss more at length when we examine friendly [and unfriendly]
ghosts in the Humanities primer, but also the King Diamond rock opera in Volume Three, Chapter One).
Cuwu is another friend living with rape trauma. As stated earlier, our relationship was far from perfect. Even so, listening to them about their trauma still changed how I felt about older media, hence the world. When Cuwu and I watched Ninja Scroll, for instance, I knew I was sharing a movie that I had watched for years—had grown up on, in fact. However, I didn't realize until after how limited and stuck my point of view was; with it, I had never noticed the deeper nuances of the film's rapacious violent, which could only be seen from a different point of view. Being different but also no stranger to rape, Cuwu noticed them immediately. As we watched the movie, I gave Cuwu trigger warnings for the upcoming rape scenes (for which they thanked me). Those bothered them far more than the "manly" violence did, the rape making them "go blank" and dissociate. After the film was over, we talked about it from Cuwu's point of view. Doing so frankly opened my eyes to what, for them, was an everyday experience: living with the trauma and threat of rape as something for you and others to behold, often as voyeurs.
For the non- or less-abused, it generally doesn't register that we are, in fact, watching a rapacious ceremony when we look at eroticized material. Sometimes, we see what we think is rape only to be mistaken. Regardless of which, historical materialism is ever-present, with Cartesian dualism, the Gothic chronotope, and the colonial binary reflecting in porn as something to lament, parody or relish in paradoxical ways. So far, we haven't examined much of anything pornographic in the "hardcore" sense. Moving forward, we'll be looking at hardcore porn, monsters and erotica (which have been censored in this writing sample) including artwork and sex work where consent is a seemingly tenuous proposition. That being said, this book contains no illegal material—no revenge porn, child porn, snuff porn—but it does examine things generally thought of as porn that are unironically violent (excluding my hard limits, laid out during the foreword's full disclosure). Sex Positivity does so in ways that we might fail to recognize because canonical porn has been made so normal to us, including humiliating displays and threats of capture and violence.
For example, Doki Doki Literature Club (2015) highlights the uncanny valley where sublimation fails and we look at something that isn't diegetically consensual nor original, but replicated in ways that have become self-aware: a dating simulator that protests its own exploitation (exhibit 16). Yet the paradox of Gothic rape is that it is "half-real"—written to convey the unspeakable as a fictional event to view voyeuristically from the outside; it is also conveyed by cosplayers, illustrators and other creators who communicate the thrilling proposition of transgressive sex as a kind of "buffer." Made for them to express themselves with, their liminal expressions violate societal norms to convey alien forms of sex that are actually sex-positive through iconoclastic praxis. Gothic Communism can reunite us with these forms through what we create as acquired by studying older works, voyeuristically flirting with the boundaries of the real and the imagined as constantly reimagined in our favor.
Concerning this writing sample's censorship: I am censoring erections and penetration with Pikachus and lomgboi ducks (chosen to avoid racist clichés [for exhibit 32] but also because I find the contrast hilarious). Again, the final book will not be censored, but you will have to go to my age-gated website to access it. —Perse
To be clear, I was exposed to sex at a very young age (old Dad would leave porno tapes in the VCR player and I saw part of one when I was four). However, I am a consensual voyeur—i.e., I always ask for permission and seek out my fantasies through negotiated boundaries between me and those I play with. This was less taught to me and more something I picked up on my own journey through life. So while my mother taught me to respect women, Mom also endorses canonical violence and encourages me to as well. Cuwu, on the other hand, enjoyed appropriated violence and rape fantasies as things to ponder about and transmute into sex-positive forms. A lot of proletarian-minded workers do, male or female. Getting "ravished" can be incredibly fun, thrilling or hilarious. Likewise, "ravishing" someone who's high, asleep or both can be super fucking hot—just make sure it's mutually consensual in advance (someone can't consent after they're drunk or asleep. Never, ever assume otherwise)!
Appreciative, sex-positive rape fantasies are not actually rape; appropriative, canonical rape fantasies function as rape threats at various registers; e.g., "be a good girl and don't have extra-/premarital sex or Jason Voorhees will cut your head off with a machete!" Both are tremendously common. Such ubiquity comments on state abuse as ever-present, but denied, displaced, dissociated—abject. Furthermore, whether autobiographical or not, traumatic artifice is informed by our immediate surroundings: what we see and consume. As Gothic Communists, this becomes a strange relationship to the voyeuristic ritual of psychosexual violence as cathartic in ways that allow for sex-positive wish fulfillment: of "killing" one's rapist while also not hurting anyone. This negotiates a future boundary—to draw in the proverbial sand, should we become threateningly triggered during our day-to-day relationships, but also enthralled. To this, people don't often see their abusers and just "let them in." Murderers come to you with smiles; they trick you based on disguises pulled from canon. It's what Jadis did, sweeping me right off my feet as a sexy black knight. Sometimes, then, the only way to avoid abuse is to learn from those who have been abused—abuser personas and pluralities included.
Returning to Ninja Scroll, it was tremendously eye-opening to talk with Cuwu. Despite them abusing me and others, seeing what they saw through their eyes helped me see boundaries before that I never knew existed, but also dangers; I felt differently about the violence I had grown up enjoying—saw rape in ways that make me empathize, but also identify with, the victim through my own complex abuse: Cuwu, but also myself, with my forgotten egregore, Alyona. Without really intending to, my own pedagogy and oppression had linked with Cuwu's. After that, I wrote a small piece about Ninja Scroll. I haven't shared it until now, but want to in order to demonstrate how profoundly my views changed when hearing a survivor's testimony with empathetic ears despite having done my best already to change. If this book is any proof at all, genuine ideological change takes serious fucking work:
(exhibit 17a: Ninja-girl Kagero fights the stone-skinned Tessai, a brutal, seemingly-invincible monster. After Tessai kills her crush and rapes her, Kagero "uses" the poison in her body as a passive revenge against this stupid, violent man. Post-rape, the male hero, Jubei Kibagami, distracts Tessai long enough for Jubei and Kagero to escape. Once they're safe, she hardens; Jubei takes the hint and skedaddles, but after he's gone, Kagero sobs. The quiet anguish she feels is denoted as animalistic, closer-to-nature like the breeding fireflies all around her. It's not something Jubei could really understand.)
My thoughts on Ninja Scroll, written May 10th, 2022 (written the day my Uncle Dave died, which will become relevant in the roadmap):
Erotic and violent, tremendously illustrated and animated—Ninja Scroll demands to be seen. It's also a very much a film about looking. Specifically the ninja girl, Kagero. "Look how beautiful she is!" the movie seems to ask, a byproduct of its '90s Male Gaze. The Male Gaze, in academic terms, applies to a specific point of view, one fostered by media that caters to a male status quo—sex and violence, generally. This view is often literal, the screen filled from second to second with objects, subjects and moments that inform a compulsive heteronormative stance. Think of it as "audience coding behavior." What is seen remains afterward inside the mind.
I've seen Ninja Scroll many, many times. However, it was only until very recently that I understood a key moment in the film: the antidote scene. I never fully grasped why Jubei and Kagero hesitated. She seemed to be attracted to him; he admitted that both of them were comrades. Why hesitate to save his life in what should, at first glance, be an alluring proposition? The answer lies in context, something the movie adequately provides but never spells out: Both the young man and young woman are being forced to have sex by a government spy called Dakuan [exhibit 17b]. This lecherous old can "watch" by asking Jubei about it later. While there's nothing wrong about watching provided it's consensual, in the case of Jubei and Kagero, it's not: Dakuan has poisoned Jubei (obviously without his permission) knowing full-well that only Kagero can save him.
The movie mentions several times that one kiss from Kagero's mouth is poisonous enough to kill someone—let alone vaginal penetration, phallic or otherwise. So coitus with Jubei isn't actually required. It is, however, the one option that Dakuan repeatedly demands of Jubei and Kagero. "Did you make love to the ninja girl?" he asks Jubei, over and over. However, Dakuan also knows that each will be hesitant towards helping the other. Traumatized on- and off-screen, Kagero fears closeness (for men only bring her pain). Jubei understands this, respecting Kagero too much to subject her to that kind of anguish, even from a kiss.
The tragedy is that Kagero wants to help Jubei, but remains understandably conflicted. Apart from Hanza, who dies during the opening battle, Jubei seems to be the one man in Japan Kagero actually wants to sleep with. She knows the full extent of her poison as well as anyone, and she wants more from Jubei than kisses; but for Jubei, even a kiss from Kagero is asking too much. This conflict incredibly useful to a unscrupulous man like Dakuan, who use the comrade's growing friendship-amid-turmoil to sexually exploit them.
(exhibit 17b: After Jubei leaves Kagero, she is forced to report to the Lord Chamberlain, who—unbeknownst to her—is really Lord Gemma in disguise. To add insult to injury from our point of view and Kagero's in different ways: a) the "chamberlain" is rude to Kagero while fucking his murder victim's concubine and b) is lying to us as non-diegetic voyeurs. Meta! Following that, we meet Dakuan, the government spy. Kagero doesn't like him and frankly he's a duplicitous old creep (still a backstabber but more willing to bargain with Jubei than Gemma is). Dakuan constantly leers at Kagero, watching her and Jubei grow closer. Eventually he plays "coercive matchmaker," trying to force them to have sex so he can hear about it. Jubei, ever the gentleman, merely gives Kagero what she's wanted from the start: a hug. Ace!)
The takeaway moral with Cuwu and Ninja Scroll is that it's tremendously important to learn from more disadvantaged groups, even if we have lived through trauma. For example, the critic Chris Stuckmann—despite escaping from a Jehovah's Witness commune and having difficulty addressing his own trauma—still likes to call Ninja Scroll "blood and boobs... and more boobs—boobs, boobs, boobs." He seems to notice the presence of boobs far more than what's happening to the owners—that all of them are being undressed, raped and otherwise exploited by the diegetic narrative for the film's target audience: cis-het men. Stuckmann never once mentions rape in his brief review—merely that his mother wouldn't let him watch it because the parental advisory label read "absolutely not for children or anyone under the age of eighteen" (a rape-porn paywall, essentially). When reviewing Ninja Scroll, Stuckmann clearly understood one form of abuse, but came off incredibly tone deaf about another. However, some traumatized people can go on to clearly draw lines in the sand, whereupon they deliberately punch up and down from—swatting at low-hanging fruit while also attacking groups lower than them in willful tone-deafness (so-called "middle-aged moments"). This applies to the veneer of generosity we mentioned earlier—re: "We have done nice things; therefore we can do no wrong." Known atheist and ex-Mormon, Jimmy Snow, did this against Essence of Thought, tone-policing them for critiquing a fellow member of the atheist community despite Jimmy having critiqued Mormons for doing the same exact thing. It's a "boundaries for me, not for thee" scenario, but also pulverized solidarity being weaponized against different activist groups, which the elite financially incentivize to prevent direct, collective worker action and solidarity when opposing the state.
Put a pin in that for now; we'll return to it later. For now, just consider that when someone refuses to change once exposed, this becomes an informed compromise between negative freedom (freedom from restrictions) and positive freedoms (freedom for oppressed groups); doing so harms worker solidarity by negotiating with power towards a shrinking state of exception (which we'll see when we examine TERFs, but also NERFs and atheists/secular reactionaries in Volume Three, Chapter Four). Ideally there should be no state of exception, vanishing the bourgeoisie and spreading power horizontally in ways that abolish privatization and nation-states through direct worker solidarity. These ideas are central to proletarian praxis, which Volume Three is entirely about (some more examples of it, below).
This concludes the postscript. With all of that out of the way, let's quickly collect ourselves and take stock: Combined with the glossary, you now have every main theoretical idea used in this book. For the rest of Volume One and all of Volume Two and Three, everything that comes next will be from the glossary, manifesto and this postscript.
My book doesn't currently have release date, but I'm shooting for sometime later in 2023. Keeping that in mind, I propose a "test" to see what you know before reading the rest of Sex Positivity when it finally debuts: After watching Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), I wrote a sample essay. From monster pastiche to puns to art exhibits, it contains all of my book's linguo-material tools: the entirety of my manifesto's theoretical content and synthesis roadmap [not in this book sample], the Humanities primer from Volume Two, everything from Volume Three, and lots of sexy iconoclastic monsters and their canonical counterparts.
Please note: Everything in here we'll go over, piece-by-piece, in the rest of the book (once it's available); so if you want to skip this essay and go straight to the roadmap, feel free! However, if you wish to challenge yourself and dive into a sample essay that uses everything without explaining the theories to you ahead of time, give it a shot. You can always return to it later and try again! —Perse
Gothic Communism, a sample essay: "Cornholing the Corn Lady—Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Empire"
"Edward Said's book Culture and Imperialism was well received in the United States, but provoked some bad tempered responses in the United Kingdom [...] The reason for the bad temper, one might suspect, was that as the imperial power principally targeted in his book's historical discussions there remained a legacy of colonists' guilt in Great Britain. Particular exception was taken by British commentators to Said's chapter, 'Jane Austen and Empire,' and its triumphant conclusion: 'Yes, Austen belonged to a slave-owning society.'"
—John Sutherland, "Where Does Sir Thomas' Wealth Come From?" Is Heathcliff A Murderer? (1996)
"Where you gonna go, where you gonna hide, because there's no one like you left!"
—Meg Tilly (as fake Carol Malone), Body Snatchers, 1993
This Gothic-Communist essay demonstrates me as the unideal reader of neoliberal canon. It was written in the spirit of fun, using the Six Rs and Four Gs to critique the Gothic mode of Jason Reitman's canonical expression. As iconoclastic praxis, my essay speaks to an enjoyment of the critical process on par with Edward Said's "pleasures of exile." Such a concept is hardly new, in the sense that Said riffed on Austen, "farting in Britain's general direction" to say something larger about that country's colonial guilt through their hypercanonical literature mom. That was new for the time (and useful to Gothic Communism for us). My essay does something similar in opposition to Gothic canon as something that is very much alive and well. If the zombified spirit of Ronald Reagan is "alive" in 2023, then Angela Carter's fateful, 1974 words ring truer than ever: "We live in Gothic times." Allow me, then, a chance to express that now—by barbequing a sacred foal begot from the neoliberal 1980s: Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021). "Where's the cow now?" indeed!
"Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Empire" comments on the veneration of old clichés within canonical praxis as part of the larger Gothic mode: Ghostbusters: Afterlife's blind, war pastiche and canonical requoting of an older version of the same basic canon. This time around, Gozer—a ghostly "corn lady" (of the harvest, Halloween)—is coercively demonized, blamed for the downfall of all things by a mad "dirt farmer" whose own selfish legacy is restored to greatness when Gozer is exposed as "real." Made material, she must be stopped—if not at her made-up temple than in the cornfields she imbues with ghostly menace. Her subsequent summon and slaughter is hauntological torture porn; the fascist myth of the conspiratorial Great Foe both weak and strong is confirmed and validated during her ritual sacrifice by the ghost police: the Ghostbusters.
Thoroughly sexist, these Enlightenment pillars of reason view Gozer exclusively as an agent of chaos, not a source of legitimate female rage bucking at canonical war and rape. Displaced, disguised and disseminated by neoliberal, Patriarchal forces, the symptoms of Capitalism-as-a-disease in Afterlife are gaslit, gatekept and girl-bossed by the bourgeois men behind the curtain. Afterlife is their own narrative of dynastic power exchange and hereditary power rites—the master plan/grand design as a self-confirming prophecy that recruits children to war, shames non-conservative values and expression, and turns scientists superstitious in canonical worship of oscillating pastiche both narrow and broad; para, meta, and diegetic; liminal expressions that are automatically colonized, etc.
Capitalism by design relegates linguo-material play along formalized lines that colonize everything into black-and-white/us-versus-them Cartesian dualism, heteronormativity and settler colonialism. The mythic structure appropriates peril through these various means, with a particular ludic, sexually dimorphic structure—a war plan straight out of a Metroidvania: miniboss keys (the Gatekeeper and Keymaster) that lead to the big (female) bad. Meanwhile, the Ghostbusters work as wizard-warrior, "ghost cops" (on call, like Samus Aran to vanquish pirates for the Federation). In this case, personal responsibility frames the Ghostbusters as working-class rebels that seek and destroy Gozer and her generals in order to return to a "better" time—i.e., "the Regan years when the economy was good" and moral panic was high; when the children of yesteryear were taught to fight ghosts, but also see them as something to "fight with" using toy weapons. Miniatures for real weapons, these knights-templar-in-training would have been taught to worship their order as sacred, seeing their cutesy ghost enemies as simultaneously dangerous. In other words, the enemy is both weak and strong and hooks kids on the displaced, dissociative violence of appropriated, canonical peril. They're conditioned to worship old dead men and their ghostly simulacra, but also their warlike, Enlightenment view of endlessly bloody worship as something consciously sold back to them. Don't think; react and consume!
The result is a mire of canonical Gothic doubles—praxial clichés in support of this larger model and its dynastic power exchange and hereditary rites: dumb monster battles with cryptonymic scapegoats, carceral hauntology and sex-coercive family values. While the single, white mother is dumb as a brick and shamed for being poor and single, Egon's grandkid returns to the violent traditions her mother rejected; extramarital sex is shamed and fetishized as wish fulfillment for the parent-age workers—the men promised wild animal bitches and the women compliant for the total nerdy dweebs. It's the hellish ghost of Ronald Reagan in action, his Vampire-Zombie Capitalism turning the younger generation towards tradition when the generation before it had grown jaded towards all the bullshit and false splendor that Reagan promised. All of this is enacted paratextually by a diegetic meta-performance that comments on the men behind the curtain, of the curtain, on the curtain, in service of the Symbolic Order. Jason Reitman follows in his daddy's footsteps—just like our little, ace girl boss, Phoebe, follows in her grandfathers' footsteps—and both registers channel Reagan who serves Patriarchal Capitalism and its appropriated perils, monsters and confusion. The sum of their patchy teamwork of concentric deceptions is an age-old Gothic cliché: the lie told by pirates to scare people away so the thieves can loot and plunder in plain sight. Egon is the patriarchal lie told with their neoliberal war chest—a staggering amount of industrialized artifice and narrative guile dressed up as "movie magic" and worshipped by apathetic nerds of all sorts:
(exhibit 19: Sorry to burst your bubbles, here, but this ain't magic; it's canonical bullshit. "Brought to life" is also a bit of a misnomer, though the illusion still lives on inside the minds of target consumers who worship the process. As an artist, I can respect its power, but am leery of its abuses. Regardless if these were the best or most effective techniques, make no mistake: The studio used expensive, time-consuming methods to bring an actor's likeness back to life, using that privatized "ghost" to sell the story of what Ramis played a smaller part in—not once, but over and over within a database of wax sculptures for the Gothic theater of canonical war. Within that grander narrative, the real horror [for me] is watching the cute and intelligent Phoebe slowly turn into a little dog of war for Grandpa "Ramis," controlled by an ascending ladder of vertical puppeteers. It's frankly awful stuff, on par with watching John Ford [middle bottom-middle] curl his claw-like hands around Belinda Palmer's body. Maybe Chinatown (1974) was "all fake." However, just like Judy Garland before her, the reality behind that scintillate rainbow and plausible deniability of the 4th wall was bleak: Polanski was a rapist and everything was done for profit by corporate goons and paid actors who looked the other way. So think of the workers, you animals! Protect them, whoever they might be. Don't turn them—and by extension, the audience—into heartless monsters concerned with illusions and dreams of revenge. Mckenna Grace might turn out just fine; the smaller role they play remains part of a larger cover-up of systemic abuses that happen inside and outside of the film industry. Afterlife's '80s hauntology romances the very real and very terrible things not just under Reagan's administration, but the continued existence of the United States and its unholy union of state and corporation already spread across the entire planet.)
Canonical praxis, in this case, is Phoebe: our little Velma-to-be, a detective-warrior debutante seeking revenge (Gozer killed her surrogate dad, Grandpa Egon). Phoebe's asexual appropriation keeps her chaste, superstitious and curiously leery of ghosts, but converted into neoliberal Capitalism's fiercest warrior during the narrative. From skeptic to true-believer, she gradually takes up the baton from her Bourgeois Ghost Dad and—ever the dutiful grandpa's girl—begins to listen to the ambiguous whispers of the past. Their doubling and voice-in-the-walls disembodiment work as a cryptonym for the tyrant as a rehabilitated monster—a sweet old man and not the worst of the bunch even though the movie presents him that way to "disprove" it later. This requires a naïve, child-soldier host, but also a bogeywoman—"the muffin to toast," the Corn Queen to cornhole for threatening the kid: ol' Gozer. Gozer is the movie's scapegoat, its wicked old witch (which the film calls "pretty woke for 3000 BC"—hauntological xenophobia delivered by the token girl of color, layered over the present as an already-reinvented place being reinvented again and again).
In this case, Gozer is someone the new recruits must train to confront, starting with smaller cute ghosts, then the bigger terror dogs (the false rebellion of angsty teens hating their parents only to forgive them, crumbling the dogs to dust). From here, our child heroes exhibit the worrying traits of a police force in-the-making: Phoebe makes quick work of main street, she and her rag-tag team driving like a bat outta hell as they capture the ghost for destroying private property—privatizing said property through a "boundaries for me, not for thee" approach that has them locked up, then forgiven (the token black cop is never mentioned again) and rearmed to "save the world." It's not only the KKK dressed up in the neoliberal version of the three Cs; it burns the town partly to ash by inventing a bigger evil to justify its babyface team's moral actions (the crux of centrism under neoliberal thought). The 2021 re-invention is the Archaic Mother, Reitman hiding the ghost of the counterfeit behind Gozer and all her abortive offshoots: the burn-to-ash policy of Capitalism on its frontiers mirroring fabled U.S. enemies in whitewashed, homegrown domestics. At home, it's all fun and games; on the front, people are dying in ways utterly alien to these New York transplants "exiled" to Oklahoma (a war camp whose "dirt farm" raises soldier children out of the soil in pursuit of the state of exception). War and rape; "lions, tigers and bears, oh my!" "There's no place like home" for these menticided little twerps, taught to worship abject war and rape sold as cute, "totally rad" and fun. It's Reagan's neoliberal Halloween stuck on repeat: cheap, bad candy to munch down and absorb for brain-rotting fuel.
All this fantastical revenge is happening now in 2021, after the Pandemic, the War on Terror, the Gulf War, Reagan's Contra Affair (and James Cameron's Aliens rescuing Vietnam's "failure" through its own famous girl boss) and various other manufactured crises—instated behind the scenes and apologized for through canonical praxis just like Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Moral panic is a bourgeois, sequel enterprise. Under it, war and rape are canonically Gothicized as beatified horror monsters, lairs and phobias tied to manufactured crises. As instructional material that breathes into Americanized culture and its bellicose social customs, these "gargoyles" tell you
- what to fear—the extramarital sex, foreigners, and ghosts
- who to worship and fear as a dangerous, vague, nebulous target—the Archaic Mother, Gozer the Red-Scare corn lady disassociated through canonically "quaint" Halloween rituals
- who to love and fear—the Ghostbusters, the centrists of a righteous cause, their quant melodies and moral actions being a catchy veil for fascism
- how to fight and kill (to do or die, not question why)
Combined, Reitman Jr.'s façade veils Capitalism's continuous Promethean design, displacing routine collapse and pinning it on a female bogey person ("It's whatever it wants to be" is a double insult having survived for nearly 40 years: Gozer is what the men want her to be, then constantly misgendered by Reitman's neoconservative old farts). Not only does this cryptonym disguise fascism's "return" (having never actually left); the entire production harnesses all Four Gs to silence female critics as workers exploited under Capitalism. Instead of sex workers with collective power, they become reduced to abject, queernormative scapegoats—wicked old witches who eat children, possess babes and ostensibly sacrifice either for old nameless gods in hauntological New York or Oklahoma (a site for American genocide as is).
As a larger production, the sacrificial theater benefits Patriarchal Capitalism. Workers are enslaved within a Patriarchal Symbolic Order through the Gothic mode as canonized. This canonical praxis portrays them as either Gozer or the Ghostbusters (us-versus-them)—either waiting to spring forth and eclipse everything else, confounding the stupid and the faithful, whose canonical icons will not save them unless the boys get back together and save the day. That's the canonical synthesis in Reitman and company's intended targets: the present children of 2021 urged to become future war orphans, brides, soldiers, victims, and other exploited parties (we will unpack all of these things during the roadmap, primer and in Volume Three, I promise).
The Numinous tableau of 1984 has become a bit more laid back in 2021, but the costumes in 2021 are far better (especially Gozer's). Cosmetic preferences aside, Afterlife still concludes with a big battle—one that summons a seemingly invincible Gozer by a pointedly impotent, false man (Fu Manchu-meets-Colonel-Sanders, Ivo Shandor). Faced with her, the "real men" and their wonder weapons must send Gozer back to hell. Everything happens much as Ivan did it forty years prior, except Ivan directs the recuperated ghosts of the past—our soon-to-be-dead old-timers—to clear their names (and clear up the thoroughly bogus spat they had with dear-departed egghead "leader," Egon Spengler) by vanquishing the mythical "wandering womb." They do this by ejaculating proton "streams" (or fiery chains) all over it. It's a veritable "séance bukkake," an abject pissing contest that Gozer just has to sit there and take (which reactionary audiences in 2016 refused to do when an all-girl term castrated the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man). She's their sorry Sphinx cum dumpster, their unhappy toilet and punching bag to gloriously assault as the Ghostbusters reunite the nuclear family and teach the next in line to fight as they do: like a Roman boy would.
Transformed into a tomboy tin soldier, Phoebe hugs Ghost-Yoda Egon; he smiles, proud and satisfied and his zombie Jedi pals pat themselves on the back. The world is saved, personal responsibility reliably venerating the ghost of the tyrant of the tyrant of the tyrant in a broader narrative of the crypt. Everything leading up to this—the trail of ambiguous-but-ultimately-appropriated clichés and fragments—are intimations of a Gothic chronotope that presents the bloodline as literal and figurative: a concentric-holistic dynasty of power exchange and hereditary rites felt on the para, meta and diegetic registers intersecting messily. Phoebe's glasses double her grandfather's just as her actions do, seeing through "his" eyes; the proton packs are a celebration of mad science as weaponized; the vintage "hearse ambulance" a hauntological fossil that venerates American car culture for the dumb, white American teenager driving stupidly through a corn field. It's propaganda for dumb kids tied to bigger fish to fry: Gay Communism.
To that, Gozer is our prehistoric bitch come back from the dead, doomed to play the part of the composite monster bullseye. A starlet censored with burn scars and protoplasmic bubbles, she is liminally abject: a giant cock-tease and mind-fucker, hag-dragon-lady chimera (we'll explore the chaos dragon as a Patriarchal concept more in Volume Three, Chapter One). Even so, Gozer is the Pygmalion artist's nightmare creation, a canonical "inkblot test" where patriarchal dude simultaneously wet their pants and get hard, uncannily aroused at the thought of war and rape towards a shapeless, endless foe:
(exhibit 20: Artist: Paolo Giandoso's concept art for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. His womb state and Archaic is abject, entirely devoid of criticism for the franchise. It is "blind" pastiche; mute, nefandous, and complicitly pro-war/-rape.) For an ideal audience, "Kill it with fire!" is a lazy joke hiding another ghost of the counterfeit: Scorched earth; "kill all, burn all, loot all." By framing Gozer as naughty Pandora "needing" to be put back into her box, Reitman silences critics of war, rape and its etiology through displaced, cartoon shows of force (which can be enjoyed, but should not be internalized or endorsed by us—in politics or our social-sex lives). Gozer's eyes do not see. Drugged and lobotomized, she is a deaf, dumb and blind, bourgeois queen—a vampire-zombie clone on par with Raleigh Theodore Saker's schizophrenic soliloquy from Sublime's Robbin' the Hood (1994): "We've got you in this fuckin' movie to exterminate all the lunatics all at once with a filtering system of a God. We're the psycho-semantic police. You can't even see us. How in the fuck can you do anything about it? We're pure intelligence, you're not. You're biological product of a cosmological universe. You're molecular matter, I constructed you. Fuck you. I made you up, you didn't make me up, you got it backwards. You know who you are? You're fuckin' semantic blockage. That's what made you up. You're a fuckin' programmer named Christine Gontarek who fucked up. She sucked my cock, fell in love, and she was locked in. She's gonna get her second chance to suck my cock again. If she turns me down, she's gonna go straight to hell, she won't pass "Go", she'll never fuckin' win. She's the cunt that thought she was God, but that's okay. I don't give a shit, as long as she sucks me off when I tell her, 'cause she's my zombie. I captured that motherfucker, and she's my cassette" (source). Gozer is Reitman's Gontarek, the functional Egeus from A Midsummer Night's Dream (1597) begging the ancient privilege of Athens: "As she is mine, I may dispose of her" (source). Replacing legitimate anti-war/-rape critic with a canonical shadow puppet, Reitman has all-in-one given us an angry sexpot to spank and a tentacle "chaos dragons" to banish to the shadow realm. The fabrication is a special-effects-driven, "plastic reality" (as Julie A. Turnock calls it) of revived '80s neoliberalism—one presenting Gozer the Archaic mother as little more than a seasonalized slaughter of the ghost of the harvest. This shoddy double stands in for actual fascist/neoliberal harvests; i.e., happening all the time behind the veil, but also on its surface, in plain sight. It's one's own doubts and fears being cheaply "vanquished" with Military Optimism as something to wish for and worship until the end of time: the zombie myth of the "Good War" rescued yet again. Meanwhile, the world slowly keeps dying, America colonizing itself and everything around it in pursuit of the neoliberal trifecta: infinite growth, efficient profit and worker/owner division. The entire product is a mendacious call to war chorusing to a larger warn horn, a "false flag operation" as slick as Nancy Reagan's legendary blowjobs and just as dissociative. An open secret tied to the annals of power, Afterlife's semantic wreckage and bad-faith doubles amount to a narrative of the crypt that belies a paradox and madness beyond what science can only not explain, but gaslights, gatekeeps, girl-bosses—re: Hogle's warning of a vanishing point, an endless "place of concealment that stands of mere ashes of something not fully present." Speaking truth to power starts to feel unnatural, alien; it becomes forgotten, papered over, buried by canonical pastiche. Gozer could be whatever it wants, except those in power perpetually code her as a victim or a scapegoat (for female hysteria) over and over and over. They can't hide her rage but they can sublimate it into something useful to Capitalism: a punching bag to make male workers feel good by killing dragons and getting the girl.
In service of this false claim and its manufactured consent, Afterlife unironically plays out like a slick military recruitment video—a horror movie sequel of the capitalist, mass-produced sort, versus the horror "one-offs" of iconoclastic praxis/counterculture addressing social-sexual unrest tied to buried trauma. To that, it's less early George Romero and more Zack Snyder, with daddy's-boy director Reitman telling you what to think, but also what to say, what to do and what to stand for—to fear in relation to the state's displaced, disguised, and disseminated enemies. It's garden variety moral panic, resold as "fresh, hip" nostalgia by "faithful" canon post-excavation—a canonical strategy of elaborate misdirection. This emotional/Gothic stupidity and privatization must be challenged by intelligent, Gothic-Communist workers. The same goes for appropriated peril and moral panic; war and rape and menticide and waves of terror; the semantic wreckage of the narrative of the crypt and its liminal prisoners, queer scapegoats, lady ghost hostages—all met with iconoclastic doubles in service of anarcho-Communism as something to develop towards during oppositional praxis: our "archaeological," elaborate strategies of misdirection and sex-positive Gothic stories.
(artist: Persephone van der Waard; model: Cara Day
My essay is just part of iconoclastic praxis more broadly. It was impromptu, written after watching the movie having already internalized my own manifesto. This is my magic, my voice. But my voice also includes various artwork, collages, slang and epigrams as things for me decolonize and reclaim, but use in complex liminal ways—to synthesize with my own cultural habits and general social-sexual skills like girl talk, community (anti-fascist) defense with a larger end goal in mind far beyond just my meager life. My iconoclastic art becomes a weapon to fight the bourgeoisie and their propaganda as anarcho-Communist workers do: to encourage direct solidarity by sex worker propaganda in opposite to nation-states, neoliberal corporations and their complicit proponents; that uses my manifesto and its demonstration of social-sexual synthesis and Humanities education as something to teach high emotional/Gothic intelligence—all to benefit workers as co-conspirators in service to themselves, not some higher, vertical authority. That's proletarian praxis!
Handy-Dandy Glossary (of extra, essential terms)
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
—Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride (1987)
Our glossary is dedicated to terms that don't have a dedicated book
chapter/section, but nevertheless appear throughout the entire book. It is divided
into four sections:
- Marxism and Politics: Contains any terms that deals with Marxist-Gothic theories or socio-political concepts.
- Sex/Gender Language, Theory and Politics: Covers the majority of gender theory used in this book.
- Miscellaneous: Anything useful that isn't in the other sorting categories.
- The Gothic, Kink, and BDSM: Catalogues the various ideas/theories on the Gothic, kink and BDSM that, while used throughout this book, aren't listed in the manifesto.
Important: Many of the glossary terms are utterly central and need to be understood a priori—as in before reading my book. The reason being there's already a lot to unpack in the manifesto and unpacking all of these on top of that feels counterintuitive/counterproductive. The glossary terms are largely arrayed in logical order according to one another and (somewhat) according to how this book approaches/applies them. While the most central are quoted here and then requoted in the book, do not assume you know what they mean and skip the glossary! Likewise, a good few are less central but still useful when grappling with these larger topics. I recommend familiarizing yourself with all of them before moving onto the manifesto rest of the book in earnest. However, I don't want to assume what you know or how you orient, BDSM-wise. Maybe you don't like being told what to do? Well, you can read the book in whatever order if you want. The full first edition (available on my website, March 15th) will contain bookmarks and plenty of signposts. So if the fancy strikes you and you wish to skip or jump around like a wild rabbit in the forest foraging for food, you will be able to! —Perse
Marxism and Politics
Material conditions: The factors that determine quality of life from a material standpoint; i.e., not an ethical/moral argument ("this is right/wrong"), but one that deals with access to various material conditions that reliably improve one's living conditions: housing, food, electricity, clothing, water, education, employment, loans/credit, transportation, internet, etc. The status quo reliably constricts material conditions to benefit the elite; this occurs within a societal hierarchy that structurally privileges marginalized groups from least- to most-marginalized along systemically coercive and phobic lines. Indeed, this arrangement is so concrete that future history can be readily predicted through the arrangement of material conditions already displayed in canonical works: historical materialism.
Historical materialism: The normalized, vicious cycle that history is predicated on the material conditions that routinely bring them about. These conditions make genocide and sex worker exploitation a historical-material fact, something that weighs on the living through what Capitalism leaves behind—the endlessly doubled histories of the dead according to Karl Marx:
"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. [...] Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language" (source).
Dialectical materialism: The dialectical progress is the study of oppositional forces in relation to each other. For Marx, this involves the study of dialectical-material forces—i.e., the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in opposition, not harmony. "Harmony" is canonical pacification, which leads to genocide and endless exploitation of workers by the elite.
The means of production: Marx' Base, owned by the elite; the ability to (mass)produce material goods within capital/a living market. This operates on a mass-manufactured scale, but also through work performed at the individual level—labor. Workers seize the means of production by attempting to own the value of their own labor. Conversely, capitalists exploit workers by stealing worker labor, often through wage theft (wages under Capitalism being the creation of jobs, or revenue streams
for the elite to structuralize then steal from, which they then credit
themselves as giving back to people; i.e., "I created these jobs!"
Translation: "I created a means of exploiting people through their labor
during manufactured scarcity). Billionaires privatize labor through unethical means, "earning" their billions through wage theft/slavery as "owned" by them, meaning used by them specifically as exploited labor (which alienates workers from the products of their own labor).
Private property: Not to be confused with personal property, private property is property that is privately owned, generally by the elite through privatization via state-corporate mechanisms. As Marx puts it in 1844, "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. Although private property itself again conceives all these direct realisations of possession only as means of life, and the life which they serve as means is the life of private property – labour and conversion into capital" (source).
Privatization: If private property is property that is privately owned, privatization is the process that enables private ownership at a systemic, bourgeois level. Under Capitalism, the elite own means of production by encouraging negative freedom to "liberalize" (deregulate) the market. They do so by removing restrictions, allowing the owner class to privatize their assets. In class warfare, capitalists disguise this fact by deliberately conflating bourgeois ownership with "bougie" (middle-class) ownership:
- Owners, in the academic, bourgeois sense, own the means of mass production, thus individual production within capital. They privatize factories, territory, industrial sectors, the military, paramilitary (cops), and the means to print money. As a consequence, they also own workers, albeit by proxy (wage slavery).
- Middle-class ownership is merely an exchange of wages—direct purchases or taxes—for material goods aka personal property. These goods become something to defend, resulting in a great deal of punching down (reactionary/moderate politics).
Functional Communism: The eventual (centuries from now) abolishment of privatization/private property. This process is called development, or Socialism; Socialism's historical-material "failure" to move beyond planned economies stems from foreign, bourgeois interference and internal strife begot from privatized interests—all related to Capitalism preserving itself as a structure.
Canonical Communism: Nominal communism—i.e., Communism in name alone, sold to workers through canonical propaganda to scare them into upholding the bourgeois status quo.
Gothic (Gay) Communism: Coined by me, Gothic Communism is the deliberate, pointed critique of capital/Capitalism using a marriage of Gothic/queer theory and Marxist ideas synthesized by sex-positive workers during proletarian praxis. Meant to end neoliberal/fascist Capitalism in order to bring about anarcho-Communism, this liberation occurs through sex-positive labor (and monsters) reclaimed by sex workers (which Derrida called "spectres of Marx" in his eponymous book on hauntology as a Communist "ghost" that haunted language after the so-called "end of history").
Anarcho-Communism: The gradual disillusion and transmutation of Capitalism into Socialism and finally Communism through direct worker solidarity and collective action, whereupon power is horizontally restructured—slowly rearranged into anarcho-syndicalist communes (which are historically more stable than Capitalism is, but also under attack/sabotaged by the elite every chance they can get—e.g., Cuba and U.S. sanctions for the past 70 years whitewashed by Red-Scare propaganda). To achieve this, class warfare must be conducted against official/de facto agents of the state-corporate union devised by capitalists/neoliberal hegemons.
Neoliberal Capitalism: The dominant strain of Capitalism operating in the world today—i.e., Capitalism employed by neoliberal canon, centrism, moderacy and personal responsibility rhetoric to achieve the greatest possible division between the owner/worker classes, as well as infinite growth and efficient profit (more on these during the manifesto proper). Neoliberal Capitalism is founded on a vertical arrangement of power through national-state-corporate leaders operating against worker interests by exploiting them to the fullest using capital.
Capital/Capitalism: To quote directly from Raj Patel and Jason Moore's A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (2017),
"Money isn't capital. Capital is journalism's shorthand for money or, worse, a stock of something that can be transformed into something else. If you've ever heard or used the terms natural capital or social capital, you've been part of a grand obfuscation. Capital isn't the dead stock of uncut trees or unused skill. For Marx and for us, capital happens only in the live transformation of money into commodities and back again. Money tucked under a mattress is as dead to capitalism as the mattress is itself. It is through the live circulation of this money, and in the relations around it, that capitalism happens.
The process of exchange and circulation turn money into capital. At the heart of Marx's Capital is a simple, powerful model: in production and exchange, capitalists combine labor power, machines and raw material. The resulting commodities are then sold for money. If all goes well, there is a profit, which needs then to be reinvested into yet more labor power, machines and raw materials. Neither commodities nor money is capital. This circuit becomes capital when money is sunk into commodity production in an ever-expanding cycle. Capitalism is a process in which money flows through nature. The trouble here is that capital supposes infinite expansion [growth] within a finite web of life."
For our purposes, this "web of life" concerns the privatized, social-sexual exploitation of workers—something to be unironically defended by class traitors preserving Capitalism, thus the state as a means of maximizing capital for the elite (infinite growth); i.e., to serve and protect capital, not people, through the means of production/propaganda's current bourgeois hegemony under neoliberal Capitalism's personal responsibility rhetoric—to regulate the market and empower the state through concealed abuses that accrete out from the center in all directions. As anarcho-Communists, we much critique this canonizing process through our own iconoclastic material.
Capitalists: Those who own capital, the bourgeoisie. However, capital/Capitalism as a process actually alienates capitalists from their own wealth; there is seldom money "on hand"—largely positions within a structure operating in continuum in pursuit of neoliberal Capitalism's main objectives (very different from the dragon sitting on a pile of gold, which is closer to the fascist strongman stealing wealth by hijacking the mechanisms of the state).
Accretion: Dissemination out from the center of a socio-material structure (similar to how planets form); i.e., the Symbolic Order, the mythic structure, etc; e.g., accretions of the Medusa as someone to kill or avoid, as "untamable" by men as the arm of the state and the law. To escape men, she turns to stone (or a tree)—a defense mechanism from those who unironically defend the structure in official/unofficial capacities.
An idiosyncrasy in terms of my writing: This book treats Capitalism and Communism as proper nouns; other words, like "state," "capitalist," "neoliberal," and "fascist" are not capitalized. The reasons are arbitrary but I've at least tried to be consistent. —Perse
The Superstructure: Propaganda; that which normally "
grows out of the base and the ruling class' interests. As such, the superstructure justifies how the base operates and defends the power of the elite" (source
being the operative word, here. This book isn't a fan of what's normal because normal is the status quo and the status quo is bourgeois. "Bourgeois bad! Bourgeois exploits workers for elite like fat, evil vampires!"
: The teller of splendid lies; e.g., Jonathan Swift and Gulliver's Travels
also applies to self-aware weavers of various genres of fiction, from Oscar
Wilde to Luis Borges, but also non-white/American authors who have to reinvent
their own cultures' lost histories—e.g., Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso
(1966), Toni Morrison's Beloved
(1993) and Charles Johnson's Middle Passage
etc. Furthermore, concerning bourgeois lies vs proletarian splendid lies,
Gothic stories are concerned with recycled clichés in either case.
"Archaeologies" of the future
: Fredric Jameson's titular idea
elaborate strategy of misdirection (an idea originally from his 1982 essay
" Progress versus Utopia; Or, Can We Imagine the Future?") that
breaks through the future of one moment that is now our own past, often through
the fantasy and science fiction genres (the Gothic variant of this strategy as
we shall discuss it is the Gothic castle/chronotope, discussed in the manifesto
proper). Canonical "archaeologies" sell this future back to workers
to pacify them; iconoclastic variations devise ways of seeing beyond canonical
illusions by "re-excavating" them, liberating worker bodies and minds
in the process but also through what is left behind again
Propaganda: According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, propaganda
is the more or less systematic effort
to manipulate other people's beliefs, attitudes, or actions by means of symbols
(words, gestures, banners, monuments, music, clothing, insignia, hairstyles,
designs on coins and postage stamps, and so forth). Deliberateness and a
relatively heavy emphasis on manipulation distinguish propaganda from casual
conversation or the free and easy exchange of ideas. Propagandists have a
specified goal or set of goals. To achieve these, they deliberately select
facts, arguments, and displays of symbols and present them in ways they think
will have the most effect. To maximize effect, they may omit or distort
pertinent facts or simply lie, and they may try to divert the attention of the
reactors (the people they are trying to sway) from everything but their own
us, propaganda is anything that cultivates the Superstructure, including
splendid lies and elaborate strategies of misdirection. However, anything that
goes against the interests of the state will be perceived of as terrorist lies
by the state, making its abolishment by workers all the more pressing. However,
state propaganda also self-replicates—with Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edwards
Bernays, famously applying the principles of political propaganda to marketing
in his 1928 capitalist apologia, Propaganda. The book argues for a
rebranding of propaganda called "public relations," one where that
"invisible" people create knowledge and propaganda rule over the
masses, with a monopoly on the power to shape thoughts, values, and citizen
response; that "engineering consent" of the masses would be vital for
the survival of democracy. In Bernays' own words, he explains:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of."
a patent rebrand filled with cheerful Liberalism, Bernays went on to inspire Hitler's
minster of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, but also Hitler himself (as well as
American propagandists during and following WW2). Hitler did his best to
emulate American media, seeing its
value by creating his own Hollywood. Helped from the likes of
commercial-savvy artists like Goebbels, he copied Charlie Chaplin's toothbrush
mustache, retooled Bernays' ideas on propaganda, and
painstakingly toiled over the creation of the Nazi symbol itself. Behind the
illusions, Hitler remained cutthroat, buoyed to chancellorship by the German
elite defaulting on American loans, whereupon he promptly killed his political
enemies and spent the next decade convincing his nation to fight to the death.
Praxis: The practical execution of theory. This can be achieved
through different modes; e.g., ours is iconoclastic poiesis, or artwork
tied to worker emancipation as something to creatively express, but also build
upon as a collective, cultural understanding unified against the state. In
other words, canon and iconoclasm are synonymous with praxis, but also poiesis.
Poiesis: "To bring into being that which did not exist
before." A commonplace example is "poetry," which historically
has granted impoverished, exploited people idiosyncratic voices/parallel societies
in times of struggle. Poiesis is not just pithy scribblings, in other
words; it's a means of understanding the world and sharing that with others to
cultivate countercultural movements in opposition to the state. For our
purposes, canon and iconoclasm—as means of cultivating the Superstructure
through creative artistic expression and sex work—are both forms of poiesis.
Superstructure as normally cultivated by the elite through official/unofficial,
state-corporate icons and materials designed to control how people think and
behave: heteronormative propaganda. Financially incentivized by the elite
including billionaires, these mass-produced, privatized variants are generally
accepted as genuine, legitimate and sacred by workers and typically produced by
anyone who upholds the status quo. This includes corporations, but also
financially-incentivized, bourgeois authors and their beliefs/praxis: the TERF politics of J. K. Rowling (Harry
Potter), Scott Adams' (Dilbert) decades-long racism, or Doug TenNapel's own conservative praxis
(Earthworm Jim). American consumerism generally frames canon as
"neutral," despite complicitly hiding sexist attitudes in plain sight
(usually through cheap, mass-produced, privatized likenesses/intellectual
Iconoclast/-clasm: Marx's Superstructure, counter-cultivated by an agent or image that attacks established variants, generally with the intent of transforming them in a deconstructive, sex-positive manner. Such a manner is treated as heretical by the elite, but also workers sympathetic to bourgeois hegemony. Deconstruction, aka Postmodernism—when harnessed by Marxists—seeks to move beyond Modernism; i.e., the Enlightenment, whose high-minded principles are really just excuses to enslave and control people through negative freedom for the elite. Generally this happens by presenting things harmful, segregating binaries like civilization/nature, white/black, man/woman, mind/body, art/porn, etc.
Hypercanon/-ical: Something so famous that it becomes recognizable by
sight across generations; e.g., The Wizard of Oz (1939). However, a
popular example is the cyberpunk of the hauntological retrofuture. Popularized
by movies like Blade Runner (1982), Ghost in the Shell (1996) and
The Matrix (1999), the cyberpunk comments on the future as dead (a
concept we'll explore more in the Humanities Primer) as a means of providing a
hypernormal, hyperreal illusion.
Hyperreal/-ity: A distillation of Jean Baudrillard's broader notion
of the simulation representing things that do not exist, yet, over time, have
become more real than the reality behind them, which has decayed into a desert
the hyperreal simulation has replaced in the eyes of its viewers—i.e., has
covered it up (source).
Hyperreality comments on similar historical-material issues that the egregore
or simulacrum do as occult creations and copies of older likenesses or illusions.
The preservation of the illusion as Capitalism turns the natural world into an uninhabitable
desert could be called hypernormal. Hypernormal/-ity: A term that, according
to Adam Curtis, was originally used to describe the
"whiplash" feelings of Soviet citizens during the 1980s—faced with
the terrifying onset of societal collapse despite Soviet national propaganda
having adopted neoliberal shock therapy while insisting that things were fine.
The same idea can be applied to the uncanny sensation that things are not
fine or even real despite how normal, foundational and concrete they seem;
i.e., how they "pass" as normal despite a disquieting sense of decay (worker exploitation,
for our purposes).
Centrism: "There are no moral actions, only moral teams." Centrism is the theatrical creation of good vs evil as existing within politically "neutral" media—a dangerous preservation of orderly justice whose "moderate," white (or token) voice-of-reason/cloaked racism and discrimination pointedly maintain the status quo: Capitalism. To this, centrism displaces and cloaks two things:
This return of the medieval—of the Imperium and Empire, Zombie Caesar, etc—is both "blind" nation pastiche, but also a cartoonish bourgeois parody that makes the Nazi and pastiche thereof tremendously useful to Capitalism and the elite's survival through genocide's continuation behind the veil.
- genocide as conducted by neoliberals/fascists on foreign/domestic lands.
- the neoliberal's codifying of Nazis as an essential part of Capitalism—where the state's bureaucracy fragments through the emergence of an ultranationalist strongman.
remediation of war as something to sell to the audience (for our purposes) as
canon, generally in centrist forms. Whereas nation pastiche tends to denote a
national character (e.g., James Cameron's colonial marines or the
wholesale, staple choreography of Asian-to-American martial arts movies), war pastiche simply
communicates violent conflict as something to personify in various
dramatic/comedic theatrical forms; e.g., Blizzard's Warcraft pastiche
(orcs vs humans).
kind of pastiche that ties war and combat to national identities, a common modern
example being the Street Fighter franchise's nation pastiche and FGC
(fighting game community). Said community employs a variety of stock characters
tied to a signature nation-state, draped in a national flag and gifted with a
statuesque (sexually dimorphic) physique, snappy costume and set of trademark
special moves/super moves. Gamer apathy mirrors the apathy of wrestling fans,
whose tentpole company regularly capitalizes off the global stage through geo-political
(nationalistic) dialogs performed using sanctioned, bread-and-circus violence;
i.e., the WWE and its lucrative contract
with Saudi Arabia.
Heels/babyfaces: The centrist heroes
and villains of staged, professional wrestling and American contact
sports—i.e., war personified—but commonly employed through combat e-sports like
the Street Fighter FGC. Heels normally wear black, fight dirty and talk
trash; babyfaces (often called "faces" for short) tend to wear white,
fight fair and refuse to talk trash. A common narrative between the two is good
overcoming the bullying of evil by deus ex machina "rallies," where
upon the underdog babyface is able to prevail by the end of a particular war.
The tragedy in doing so is the babyface always converts to a heel position.
Moderacy: Famously outlined by Martin Luther King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," excoriating the white moderate as more dangerous than the overt racist. Moderacy would evolve into the American neoliberal and its worldly doubles (1980s Soviet Russia or Great Britain) as willing to break bread/debate with fascists in the "free marketplace of ideas." To this, moderacy equals veiled white-cis-het-Western supremacy—generally upheld by centrist canon.
Menticide: From Joost Meerloo's The Rape of the Mind (1956), menticide is the animal, "Pavlovian" conditioning through various forms of torture, namely "waves of terror" to achieve an ideal subject just not compliment with state abuse, but complicit. Meerloo writes,
"The variety of human reactions under infernal circumstances taught us an ugly truth: the spirit of most men can be broken; men can be reduced to the level of animal behaviour. Both torturer and victim finally lose all dignity […] The core of the strategy of menticide is the taking away of all hope, all anticipation, all belief in a future [which aligns with Mark Fischer's "hauntology," or inability to imagine a future beyond past forms supplied by Capitalism; i.e., a myopia]. It destroys the very elements which keep the mind alive. The victim is entirely alone" (source).
The banality of evil/desk murderers: Originally used to describe the fascist bureaucracy of the Third Reich during the Nuremberg trials, desk murder goes well beyond Adolf Eichmann; it is destructive greed minus all the gaudy bells and whistles: the men behind the curtain (canon). Whether fascist or neoliberal, those at the top abject (denormalize) truth, shaming dialectical-material analysis while venerating the uncritical consumption of canon. In doing so, they hide, thus normalize, their owner status; the elite own everything through vertically-arranged power structures, deliberately constructed to exploit everyone else—not just by owning the means of production, but using said means at a corporate-national register to parade and venerate conspicuous shows of god-like wealth and endless consumerism.
Neocons(ervatism): Neoconservatives are liberal hawks who, exposed to menticidal
propaganda over time, despise
war protestors and promote peace through strength, including
neocolonialism and proxy war. It's the centrist, oscillating phenomena of so-called Liberalism turned
bloody, routinely demanding its blood sacrifice on the so-called altar of
freedom (as Howard Zinn notes about the formation of the Americas during the
Liberalism: Not to be confused with neoliberalism (though the
two generally go hand-in-hand), Liberalism is the disingenuous language of the
Enlightenment becoming Americanized, then used alongside Cartesian dualism to
obscure genocide under settler colonialism. In his A People's
History of the United States (1980), Howard Zinn catalogs the various
fears of the upper "master class"—of Native Americans and slaves
rebelling together but also white indentured servants and African slaves as
something to discourage using Liberalism:
made Bacon's Rebellion especially fearsome for the rulers of Virginia was that
black slaves and white servants joined forces [...] Those upper classes, to
rule, needed to make concessions to the middle class, without damage to their
own wealth or power, at the expense of slaves, Indians, and poor whites. This
bought loyalty. And to bind that loyalty with something more powerful even than
material advantage, the ruling group found, in the 1760s and 1770s, a
wonderfully useful device. That device was the language of liberty and
equality, which could unite just enough whites to fight a Revolution against
England, without ending either slavery or inequality" (source).
Neoliberalism: The ideology of American exceptionalism (which extends to allies of America like Great Britain) that enforces global US hegemony through deregulated/"re-liberalized" Capitalism as a structural means of dishonest wealth accumulation for the elite. Laterally enforced by state/corporate power through a public conditioned by these groups to worship the free market, neoliberalism seeks to foster a centrist attitude. By preaching the lie of false hope* through us-versus-them rhetoric, neoliberalism maintains the status quo by demonizing nominal Communism and disguising the inner workings of Capitalism—how Capitalism is inherently unethical and unstable, and how it exploits nearly everyone (workers) to benefit the few (the elite). This framework, and the pervasive illusions that prop it up, eventually decay and lead to societal collapse. *For a quick-and-dirty example of vintage American neoliberalism, consider the opening to Double Dribble (1987) for the NES: palm trees and skyscrapers in the background, a bare concrete lot and tight, manicured lawns in the foreground—where hordes of consumers flock to a giant stadium to "the Star Spangled Banner" while a Konami blimp emblazoned with an American flag soars overheard. This kind of canonical nostalgia traps workers inside a world they never experience because its constantly sold to them as an idealized past to escape into from their current environment; as Capitalism fails, they can't imagine anything beyond it, just whatever was shown to them as children: something to retreat into fondly like a lost childhood.
Fascism: Capitalism-in-decay aka "zombie Capitalism." When Capitalism starts to fail (which it does by design), it creates power vacuums. These allow populist strongmen to foster unusual sympathies within the working class: the installation of a dogmatic (sexist, racist, transphobic, etc) hierarchy that intentionally abuses a designated underclass (the out-group), promising societal and material elevation for those following the leader (the in-group). Or as Michael Parenti wrote in 1996,
"Fascism is a false revolution. It makes a revolutionary appeal without making an actual revolution. It propagates the widely proclaimed New Order while serving the same old moneyed interests" (source).
Simply put, fascists are violent LARPers (live-action role-players) living in a death cult, reducing themselves and those around them to expendable, fetishized, zombie-like fodder. The in-group operates through fear, dogma and violence—cultivating the perception
of strength through a coercive, revered worldview that leads to delusional overconfidence and ignominious death in service of the state through its same-old language (e.g., Monty Python's "Black Knight
Zombification/Zombie Capitalism: The death of ethical parody and its replacement with "blind" forms, zombification results from people living under Capitalism, a system that discourages them not to think for themselves, but also to violently attack people who try. Zombie Capitalism is when Capitalism becomes "feral," entering a fascist state of decay—whereupon, violent, pro-state zombies suddenly appear and attack rebellious workers, "eating their brains" (symbolizing an attack on the rebellious mindset). Being the target of the state in this manner means you have fallen into the state of exception—disposable fodder even more useless than the zombies the state endlessly sends after you.
The Imperial Boomerang
: The thesis that governments that develop repressive
techniques to control colonial territories will eventually deploy those same
techniques domestically against their own citizens" (source
Foucault's own words,
[W]hile colonization, with its techniques and its
political and juridical weapons, obviously transported European models to other
continents, it also had a considerable boomerang effect on the mechanisms of
power in the West, and on the apparatuses, institutions, and techniques of
power. A whole series of colonial models was brought back to the West, and the
result was that the West could practice something resembling colonization, or
an internal colonialism, on itself (source). Described by Stephen Graham as "military urbanism," this phenomenon accounts for the legion of dead futures popularized in American canon and its expanded, retro-future states of exception—hauntological narratives that present the future as dead and Capitalism as futuristically decayed; i.e., Zombie Capitalism and zombie police states (e.g., Ion Fury's  zombie police state).
The state of exception: The state-of-emergency applied to recipients of state violence; or as Giorgio Agamben writes,
"A special condition in which the juridical order is actually suspended due to an emergency or a serious crisis threatening the state. In such a situation, the sovereign, i.e. the executive power, prevails over the others and the basic laws and norms can be violated by the state while facing the crisis" (source). The state's monopoly on violence: Max Weber's maxim that "a state holds a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence within its territory, meaning that violence perpetrated by other actors is illegitimate" (source). This applies to state-sanctioned witch-hunts and scapegoating markers, which we'll examine much more thoroughly in Volume Three, Chapter Two. Umberto Eco's 14 Points of Fascism
: A handy guide for spotting fascism, which tends to conceal itself or idiosyncratically manifest. We won't go over all of them in this book, but there are a few that I like to focus on.
Sex/Gender Language, Theory and Politics
Sexualized media: Media that contains sexual and gendered components—of cis-het men and women, but also queer persons/other marginalized groups for or against the state. However, the treatment of sexuality and gender—how it is sexualized by "the Media" or in media more broadly—depends on if it is sex-positive or sex-coercive.
Sex work: Any work centered around sexuality and gender roles, including artwork. More commonly thought of as "prostitution," patriarchal sexism under Capitalism extends sex work to the broader division of sexualized labor within a colonial gender binary: men's work versus women's work. While the former focuses on war, violence and promotion through socio-material dominance, the latter involves submissive, traditionalized modes of sexual-reproductive labor towards a male authority figure—often a boss, parent or husband. So while many sex workers perform strictly eroticized acts in this manner, many more are secretarial or marital in nature, performed inside traditional sites of women's work like kitchens, bedrooms, or laundromats. In the creative world, sexist employers compel female creators (musicians, models, illustrators and writers, etc) to promote prescriptive notions of coercive sexuality and gender tied to heteronormative beauty standards, fashion and music. Regardless of the work, sex-positive workers will resist sex coercion through their own labor.
Sex positivity: Sexual/asexual expression that enables individual self-expression (thus self-empowerment) by relatively ethical means—the right to do sex work or partake in sexual activity if one so desires. In other words, it is a positive freedom; i.e., freedom for people to do what they want, specifically "the possession of the power and resources (material conditions) to act in the context of the structural limitations of the broader society which impacts a person's ability to act." Apart from being morally good and materially beneficial, sex positivity empowers marginalized communities (who, amongst other things, are generally exploited for sex as a form of labor); it does so by arguing for mutual consent, descriptive sexuality and cultural appreciation using historically regulated language: bodies, gender identity/performance and (a)sexual orientation.
Sex coercion: Sexist, heteronormative argumentation, work and artistry that compels and upholds sexual and gendered norms by abolishing others through various unethical means. This includes corporations downplaying their harmful actions as benign, or fascists framing their openly harmful actions as justified. This freedom to act is a negative freedom; i.e., freedom from external restraint on one's actions. It is generally repressive towards marginalized communities, the elite exploiting them on a material level while also denying them their basic human rights.
Small idiosyncrasy in terms of my writing: When using "sex positivity" or "sex coercion" (nouns) as adjectives, they will be hyphenated; e.g., "The sex-positive fog crept in on little sex-coercive feet." Again, this is completely arbitrary but my aim is to be consistent. —Perse
Basic/civil human rights: The idea that all workers are human and deserve fair and equal treatment, which nation-states and corporations historically do not give (they are bourgeois and exploit workers). In Marxist terms, these rights are administered through Communism not according to profit, but "From each according to [their] ability, to each according to [their] needs." This existence is planned and achieved through the development phase, aka Socialism: "...to each according to their work."
Ethics, ethical, ethicality: This book treats universal ethicality not as canonical societal norms (what is prescriptively "correct" or "morally right" according to canon), but that humans have basic, unalienable human rights. The universality of these rights is what is correct. Anyone's hypothetical ability to systemically "question" or undermine these rights—including the bourgeoisie—is fundamentally incorrect/unethical (what moderates call "compromise").
-Phobia/-philia: In Gothic-Communist terms, a phobia isn't raw, animal fear—e.g., fear of death or the unknown—but an actionable, social-sexual stigma, bias or taboo assigned to a particular out-group or historical-material victim under the status quo/inside the state of exception: xenophobia, pedophilia, necrophilia, etc. This extends to various moral panics—e.g., Satanic panic, Red Scares, or the fascist revenge phobia of the backstabbing Jew, etc. Phobias are canonically fetishized.
Purity arguments: A type of reactionary, fascist argumentation tied to manufactured scarcity and conflict as radicalized during moral panics under ethnostates. Think "boundaries for me, not for thee," but tied to limited-time waivers for those who best fit whatever soldiers those in fascist seats of power are looking for (with Himmler anything but "Nordic"). This tends to historically-materially manifest in racial-purity pseudoscience and aggressive recruitment tactics, defending the purity of a nation (and its children and women) through racialized supermen, generally with descriptor "ethnic" attached to them—e.g., ethnic Germans (in Nazi Germany) or Jews (in Israel).
Moral panic, morals, and morality: This book views personal morals as being shaped by broader social codes—folkways, mores and taboos that determine "good from bad" or "right from wrong" at a societal level. For conservatives, this involves reactionary politics administered through bad-faith, "moral panic" arguments; for neoliberals, there are no moral actions, only moral teams (re: "centrism," a concept we'll explore much more deeply in Volume Three, Chapter Four). Calling others immoral in either sense is actually immoral/unethical* relative to people's basic human rights.
Please note, dialectical-materialism focuses on ethics through material relations—hence why I prefer to describe things not as "good or bad," but as bourgeois or proletarian (exceptions will be observed as they arise). —Perse
The patriarchal vision of those knowing-better "kings" of
male-dominated industries, "Pygmalion" means "from a male king's
mind." Whether moderate or fascist, male kings author visions of the past, present and future,
including monsters, invasion scenarios and escape fantasies; their reasoned,
Cartesian, treatment of women is heteronormative, thus abjectly hysterical.
Hysteria is a form of moderate condescension/reactionary control tied to Cartesian
dualism, but also the gaslight, gatekeep and girl-boss trifecta that argues
women are less rational than men; it tends to diagnose them with bizarre, completely
absurd medical conditions to keep them inactive and scared, but also under
men's power (e.g., bicycle
face is one, but here's a whole list of odd disorders/female causes of
death invented by male "Pygmalions," including
night brain and drawing-room anguish). However, it also tends to frame
women as mythical monsters/mothers that need to be killed for men to progress:
Medusas, Archaic Mothers, etc.
The creation of sexual difference: Popularized by Luce
Irigaray, her flagship concept is summarized as follows,
"In other words, while women
are not considered full subjects, society itself could not function without
their contributions. Irigaray ultimately states that Western culture itself is
founded upon a primary sacrifice of the mother, and all women through her.
Based on this
analysis, Irigaray says that sexual difference does not exist. True sexual difference would require
that men and women are equally able to achieve subjectivity. As is, Irigaray
believes that men are subjects (e.g., self-conscious, self-same entities) and
women are “the other” of these subjects (e.g., the non-subjective, supporting
matter). Only one form of subjectivity exists in Western culture and it is male"
Male Gaze (appropriative voyeurism/exhibitionism): Popularized by Laura Mulvey in her
1973 essay, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," the Male Gaze goes
well beyond cinema; it deals with female objectification under Capitalism:
"The male gaze describes a way of
portraying and looking at women that empowers men while sexualizing and
diminishing women. […] first popularized in relation to the depiction of female
characters in film as inactive, often overtly sexualized objects of male
desire. However, the influence of the male gaze is not limited to how women and
girls are featured in the movies. Rather, it extends to the experience of being
seen in this way, both for the female figures on screen, the viewers, and by
extension, to all girls and women at large. Naturally, the influence of the
male gaze seeps into female self-perception and self-esteem.
It's as much about the impact of seeing other women relegated to these
supporting roles as it is about the way women are conditioned to fill them in
real life. The pressure to conform to this patriarchal view (or to simply
accept or humor it) and endure being seen in this way shapes how women think
own bodies, capabilities, and place in the world—and that of other women.
the male gaze discourages
female empowerment and self-advocacy while encouraging self-objectification and
deference to men and the patriarchy at large" (source).
Appropriative performances of voyeurism/exhibition (watching or showing
sexual activities) that cater to this Gaze uphold the status quo. Those that do
not are appreciative in nature, but generally remain liminal and ambivalent.
Exhibitionism/voyeurism: A desire to show off or to look, generally tied to kink and BDSM (which we'll define in the Gothic section of terms). As with those, these activities can be sex-positive or -coercive; i.e., rebellious flashing (exhibit 53, 62c, 89, 101, etc) vs cat-calling/scopophilia from an unwanted audience (Norman Bates and Marion Crane) vs the liminal, half-invited Peeping Tom (Miss Torso from Rear Window, 1954, or George McFly from Back to the Future, 1985) or the transphobic gargoyle (exhibit 62b).
Cultural appropriation (verb: "to appropriate"/adjective: "appropriative"): Taking one (or more) aspect(s) of a culture, identity or group that is not your own and using it for your own personal interests. Although this can occur individually for reasons unrelated to profit, Capitalism deliberately appropriates workers/marginalized groups for profit; the act of these groups playing along is called assimilation.
Cultural appreciation (verb: "to appreciate"/adjective: "appreciative"): Attempting to understand and learn about another culture in an effort to broaden one's perspective and connect with others cross-culturally. The Gothic-Communism aim is to humanized these groups and prevent their exploitation through one's own work.
Lip service: Empty endorsements, generally performed by establishment politicians; a moderate tactic of playing both sides (always to the detriment of workers).
Queer-baiting/pacification/in-fighting: Empty commercial appeals/"representation" that are generally cliché, stigmatized, or dubiously underwritten/funeral—the "bury your gays" trope, except employed by neoliberal corporations who expect marginalized groups to be grateful for scraps, but also fight over/about them: "They're fighting/killing each other" is music to the elite's ears regarding all marginalized groups.
"Bury your gays": The heteronormative sublimation, violence and moral-panic scapegoating of anything that doesn't fit the colonial binary model. Historically this would have been homosexual men (with queer cis-women appropriated by cis-het men as exotic sex toys existing purely for male pleasure); however, it extends to trans/non-binary people or gender non-conforming persons more broadly (with various minorities being assigned heteronormatively atypical gendered qualities, like women of color being seen as more masculine and sexual voracious/aggressive than white women, for example).
Rainbow Capitalism: Capitalism appropriating queerness, generally
through surface-level, inauthentic representation and queer-baiting. Marketing-wise,
this involves slapping a fucking rainbow on every product in sight during Pride
Month, diluting its cultural significance as a sign of solidarity and rebellion
in the process.
: "The process by which politically radical ideas and images are twisted, co-opted, absorbed, defused, incorporated, annexed or commodified within media culture and bourgeois society, and thus become interpreted through a neutralized, innocuous or more socially conventional perspective. More broadly, it may refer to the cultural appropriation of any subversive symbols or ideas by mainstream culture" (source
). Perhaps the most common example is "corruption" (the evil cop, company or executive, etc) and "defanging" (rap, punk rock, anti-war protests, Black Lives Matter and other activists groups, etc as commodified by Rainbow Capitalism; more on this concept in Volume Three, Chapter One).
Sublimation: The process by which socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are transformed into socially acceptable actions or behavior. Unlike Nietzsche or Freud, I explore sublimation as something that can either be bourgeois or proletarian. For either man, sublimation was a mature, "healthy" defense mechanism by which the modern individual could turn a blind eye, thus function in assimilative ways. I disagree about the "healthy" part, thinking this kind of repressing is to conceal Capitalism as an expressly tyrannical and exploitative system towards workers—"healthy" meaning "working as intended for the elite." Sublimation has to go beyond exploitation if workers are to liberate themselves in ways Nietzsche generally called "envious." Get fucked, Nietzsche!
Prescriptive sexuality (and gender): Sexuality and gender as prescribed according to various explicit or tacit mandates; i.e., sex and gender are not separate and exist within a cis-gendered, heteronormative colonial binary. This can come from corporations or groups that produce media on a geo-political scale, or from individual artists/thinkers who uphold the status quo (TERFs, for example). Generally illustrated through propaganda that appropriates marginalized groups.
Descriptive sexuality (and gender): Sexuality and gender as describing actual persons, be they sexual or
asexual. This includes their bodies, orientations and identities, etc, as
things to appreciate, not appropriate (thus exploit). For queer people, their existence
is generally ironic to canonical, historical-material norms because they do not
confirm to these norms or their prescriptions. Doing so requires genderqueer expression
during oppositional praxis through appreciative irony as a kind of
gender trouble/parody under heteronormative conditions (exhibit 3a).
Appreciative irony: Simply put, a
descriptive sexuality that culturally appreciates the irony of queer existence in various
forms: trans people, non-binary persons, homosexuals, pansexuals, bisexuals,
intersex persons, femboys, catgirls, etc. Often, portrayed through
countercultural performance art, including sex-positive BDSM in iconoclastic
forms of Gothic media.
Asexuality: A gradient of expressions that includes demisexual/grey ace and aromantic persons,
asexuality displays orientations and performances or gender identities
that diverge from sexual attraction, generally in favor of romantic, spiritual
and emotional connections; i.e., a neurodivergent condition, not a disease that
needs to be repressed, shamed or attacked.
Neurodivergence: A quality of brain conditions
that diverge from neurotypical persons and brains. Neurodivergent people tend
to be demonized, but also shamed as disabled, insane or mendacious. However, autistic
people on average tend to be more selfless and open-minded than neurotypical
persons. This isn't an automatic endorsement of us (I am neurodivergent) nor
carte blanche, but it does help explain the ways in which Capitalism
devalues people who don't toe the line (e.g., the C.S. Lewis trilemma: lunatic, liar, lord): Neurodivergent people tend to be anti-work knowing that many jobs and forms of consumption are incredibly unethical; while there is no ethical consumption under Capitalism, we recognize that some forms of consumption actively contribute to an economy of genocide (e.g., purchasing sugar in slavery-era Great Britain [before 1833] or playing Hogwarts Legacy in 2023 despite knowing J.K. Rowling is a TERF and her brand is anti-trans).
Plurality/multiplicity: Generally demonized in Gothic canon, "Plurality
or multiplicity is the psychological phenomenon in which a body can feature
multiple distinct or overlapping consciousnesses, each with their own degree of
individuality. This phenomenon can feature in identity disturbance,
dissociative identity disorder, and other specified dissociative disorders.
Some individuals describe their experience of plurality as a form of
neurodiversity, rather than something that demands a diagnosis" (source).
It's not automatically an ailment or begot from trauma, though it will
canonically be presented as such (the same goes for asexual/neurodivergent
Sex-repulsed: Not to be confused with sex-negative/reactionary politics, sex-repulsed is the quality through which persons—whether through nature or nurture; i.e., hereditary or environmental trauma factors (for these tend to overlap)—are repulsed by sex. This can be partial—can amount to gradient indifference or outright trauma/triggering status depending on its severity. Important: Sex-repulsion is not strictly a symptom, but a neurodivergent condition with congenital/comorbid factors operating within the brain as neuroplastic (concepts we'll explore in depth in Volume Three, Chapter Three).
Comorbidity/congenital: The simultaneous presence of two or more
diseases or medical conditions in a patient—congenital meaning
"present at birth," inherited. In gendered terms, this can present in
people who are non-conforming or neurotypical; in Marxist terms, this extends
into the material world as an extension of the human mind—i.e., the Gothic
imagination as comorbid.
LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer, and various other non-gender-conforming groups.
Queer: A general, all-purpose label reclaimed from its colonizer origins. For example, I identify as queer/am a queer person. While terms like trans, queer, gay and so on most certainly have specific definitions, in everyday queer parlance they tend to be used interchangeably (with idiosyncratic boundaries being drawn up when the need arises);forced conformity/division is to "make things weird" (though marginalized gatekeeping/sectarianism is definitely a thing)
Genderqueer: Challenging gender norms; also called "questioning" or "gender non-conforming."
: The performance of a singular, happy relationship, canonically structured around marriage, reproductive sex and the nuclear family structure. In Gothic canon, this structure is often threatened by a Gothic villain—e.g., Count Ardolph from Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya
(1806). When Ardolph cuckolds the husband with said husband's unfaithful, susceptible-to-vice wife (the Original Sin argument), our unhappy husband—thoroughly chagrined—literally dies of shame. It's heteronormative and white supremacist, foisting societal fears onto a foreign, not-quite-West, not-quite-East scapegoat: those god-damn Italians! This form of xenophobic displacement would be revisited in Mary Shelly's
1818 novel, Frankenstein—with her Germanic, asexual scapegoat,
Victor, not only cock-blocking his own kid as a proponent of the Enlightenment's
version of unnatural reproduction ("I will be with you on your wedding
night!"), but mad science being historically-materially Germanized in
canonical fictional and non-fictional forms (e.g., Operation
Paperclip and the American privatization/weaponization of
mad science from irrational, hauntologized lands like Nazi Germany)!
Poly(amory/-ous): Non-normative family/open relationship structures that break with the heteronormative structure/cycle of compelled marriage; historically conflated with swinging or serial monogamy (which are really their own heteronormative practices; i.e., "We're not poly, we're serially monogamous!"). Note how poly relationships tend to be framed as polyamorous, not polygamous (unless you're a Mormon or cult leader, although certain traditions in non-Western societies allowed for polygamy as well—though not many were exclusively matriarchal in function). Polyamory can include marriage, though the basic idea is any (a)sexual relationship with multiple partners. Pairs within this arrangement are called couples (thruple being a popular term even in mainstream fiction, though canon reduces it to a destructive/"bury your gays" love triangle/square, etc); the entire social-sexual structure of a given poly arrangement is called a polycule. Note: As part of the "bury your gays trope," poly couples are often viewed as "homewreckers," conflated with wanton societal destruction of the familial household (re: Count Ardolph from Zofloya); heteronormativity demands that they die—e.g., Shari and Cary (a pun for "sharing and caring," if I had to guess) from You (2018) being ritualistically sacrificed by the writers of the show, who have them murdered by the codependent, horribly selfish, duplicitous and perfidious compulsive liars/pattern-killers, Joe Goldberg and Love Quinn. —Perse
Beards: A relationship of convenience to appear straight, heteronormative, monogamous, nuclear, "Roman," etc. The nuptial variant of a beard is the lavender marriage.
Heteronormativity: The idea that heterosexuality and its relative gender norms are prescribed/enforced to normalized extremes by those in power—i.e., the Patriarchy. In Marxist terms, capitalists and state agents own, thus control, the media, using it to enforce heterosexuality and the colonial (cis-)gender binary through advertisement on a grand scale (re: the canonical Superstructure). This influence reliably affects how people respond, helping them recognize "the social world of linguistic communication, intersubjective relations, knowledge of ideological conventions, and the acceptance of the law"—i.e., Lacan's Symbolic Order. Acceptance of this Order when it is decidedly harmful is manufactured consent, leading to basic human rights abuses perpetrated by the state and its bourgeois actors. Pro-bourgeois abuses happen through various concentric lenses of normativity—heteronormativity, amatonormativity, afronormativity, homonormativity and queernormativity, etc— that appeal tokenistically to the same colonial binary and its mythic structure.
Queernormativity/homonormativity: Normative queerness centers queerness in sexualized spheres (erasing ace people) centered around the nuclear family unit/sexual reproduction. Homonormativity takes the same idea and applies it to cis-gendered homosexual men/women (the "two dads/two moms" appropriative trope as queer-baiting/lip service).
: Coined by Judith Butler, gender trouble is the social tension and
reactions that result when the heteronormative, binary view of sexuality and
gender is disrupted. This trouble can happen through the parody of
social-sexual norms through ironic or appreciative (counterculture)
reverse-abjection, whose reactionary abjection occurs by an increasingly
unstable status quo as it impedes or threatens disintegration (moral panics
under Capitalisms intended cycles of decay and restoration). Such threatening is
generally of the heteronormative side reacting negatively towards the very
things it abjects, which can be as simple as boys wearing pink instead of blue(!).
Such a binary and similar socio-material schemes have only recently solidified
under neoliberal Capitalism; e.g., now, pink is very much canonically treated as
feminine/female in cis-coded, heteronormative ways (for an extensive, funny
chronicling of this entire tragedy as it historically-materially unfolds, refer
to Tirrrb's hot-off-the-press YouTube video: "The
Yassification Of Masculinity
Girl-cock (exhibit 7c) or boy pussy (exhibit 52): Genitals or genitalia-like artifacts that fulfill a cultural role tied to gender assignment, performance or identity, as well as sexual orientation. They can be informed by one's biological sex in coercive ways (exhibit 30/31). However, no one in non-normative/proletarian circles wants to be "defined" by biological sex—i.e., forced conformity. This leads to the creation of various sex toys (exhibits 38a) and aliases useful to our existence, as well as actively operating as sex-positive workers (this being said, as sex-positive workers we are active by default—attacked for being different from what the state prescribes, but also allowed to exist by the elite because we're the fuel that Capitalism needs to operate).
Natural assignment: Accident of birth—i.e., the natural assignment of
one's biological sex; one's birth sex/genitals: male, female, intersex.
AFAB/AMABs: Assigned-Female/Male-at-Birth—i.e., one's birth sex. Can be used as a noun or adjective; e.g., "AFABs dislike this" or "an AFAB person," etc.
Intersex: The existence on a biological gradient between the
qualifiers male and female, amounting to a variable 'third sex' that presents
mixed features of either sex to varying degrees; the umbrella term doesn't
represent one particular manifestation as a strict third, but all of them
together on a vast, complicated spectrum of genotypic and phenotypical elements.
They are often depicted as angels or demons in the classically androgynous
sense, or stigmatized/fetishized in porn as "shemales," "he-shes"
and other canonically pejorative labels; a common, non-insulting label is "androgyne" (though this can apply to trans people and mixed gender performance, too). A common intersex example in Gothic
media is the phallic woman or Archaic Mother (refer to the Gothic section for
the glossary for definitions of those terms).
Sexual/asexual orientation: The helix of two gradients, each having two theoretical "poles," with both ribbons descriptively intertwining/intersecting within the social-material world (more on this in Volume Three, Chapter Three).
(cis-gender roles): Accident of birth in relation to one's "birth gender" as
socially constructed by the state in relation to one's genitals. For example,
if you're reading this on planet Earth, you're both literate and fluent in
English. This means your birth gender is heteronormatively connected
to/essentialized with your birth sex by reactionaries and moderates alike, who
will collectively die on the hill of assigning you a social-sexual/worker role
based entirely on your genitals ("It is against free speech to stop us from
fixating on the genitals," writes
Commonly seen as "cis-het," it can also be cis-queer (e.g., a
homosexual or bisexual cis-gendered man or woman). Not all cis-queer people are
moderates/reactionaries, though class conflict turns potential trans allies
into class traitors working for the elite. Likewise, heteronormativity is
binarized, thus connecting gender to sex in order to create sexually dimorphic
gender roles for "both" worker sexes (all while ignoring intersex
Gender performance: One's gender performance—coded in relation to oneself and to society's in-groups and out-groups, aka formal/informal gender roles. The higher you go in vertical power structures, the more patriarchal someone behaves. This varies per socio-material register. The elite will push buttons to calmly genocide entire peoples for profit (for them, it's business-as-usual, conducted over time inside a structure built to accommodate them); those whose positions are more fragile (fascists) will behave more extremely as they defend the nation-state (with moderacy trying to conceal/downplay this). E.g., Bill Gates is a total dweeb who hangs out with pedophiles but dresses like your creepy uncle; Matt Walsh and Hitler both have to overperform to keep up with their fragile, hypermasculine gender roles, thus maintain their veneer of invincibility.
Gender identity: One's conforming or nonconforming gender identity, which intersect with their birth sex/gender and vice versa, while also competing dialectically-materially for or against the state. This can be passive/active, but remains a socio-political position that changes over time (sex, gender and politics, etc, are fluid). In the past, people were more likely to be "true neutral," unaware of things as the state oppressed information outright. Now, misinformation and factionalism are the bourgeois name of the game—gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss; so is denial (for those who don't want to get involved in active politic affairs; aka state-sponsored apathy) and overt genocide (when moderacy fails, doing so by design and allowing fascists to get their hands bloody so the elite can deny involvement): neglect, ignorance and abuse, respectively.
A woman: That depends ("Beware the elves for they will say both yea and nay"). Keeping the above terms in mind, a woman is multiple things at once. On the bourgeois side, she's a cis-het sex slave/employee/girl boss, etc (note the gradient of euphemisms to disguise the deliberate marital role of unpaid women's work under Capitalism); on the proletariat side, she's however someone identifies in relation to the state as a worker—for or against it to various, liminal degrees (this includes personas, alter-egos, egregores and various other disguises). To reduce it to "an adult, human female" is super gross, Nazi-level shit (and while I want to seriously feel sorry for Matt Walsh's probably-battered housewife, assuming she's entirely ignorant of her husband's abuse would assume that she actually puts in the work; however, if she does, it would take total isolation of anything not supplied to her in advance by her "big, strong, powerful, caretaker" husband. That's quite sad and pathetic). I hate Nazis, Matt Walsh; my grandfather fought them during WW2 after they raped and destroyed his homeland and killed most of his friends and family. They prey on fear yet instantly run away like Brave Ser Robin when they're outed as perfidiously and ignominiously stupid. You're cut from the same cloth, you giant, callow man-child.
To be good-faith and holistic, I've tried to include the most fundamental and basic queer language as comprehensively as I can for all readers (this anticipates cryptofascists like Matt Walsh, who only asks "What is a Woman?" in bad faith to reactionarily maintain the status quo—the feckless backstabber). Other terms that we haven't mentioned here will come up during the book as we build off our main arguments. —Perse
The colonial binary: Having evolved beyond Rome's master/slave dynamic, colonialism and Imperialism "separated people into different classes of people, ruler and ruled, white and non-white, thereby creating and widening a colonial binary" (source). To this, the cis-het, white European/Christian male is superior to all other workers. This binary extends to token marginalizations and infiltrated and assimilated/normalized activist groups, thought/political leaders or public intellectuals, who serve as class traitors, but also functional police for their respective domains.
Cartesian dualism/the Cartesian Revolution: The rising of a dividing system of thought by René Descartes that led to settler colonialism. As Raj Patel and Jason Moore write in A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things,
'The inventors of Nature were philosophers as well as conquerors and profiteers. In 1641, Descartes offered what would become the first two laws of capitalist ecology. The first is seemingly innocent. Descartes distinguished between mind and body, using the Latin res cogitans and res extensa to refer to them. Reality, in this view, is composed of discrete "thinking things" and "extended things." Humans (but not all humans) were thinking things; Nature was full of extended things. The era's ruling classes saw most human beings—women, peoples of color, Indigenous Peoples—as extended, not thinking, beings. This means that Descartes' philosophical abstractions were practical instruments of domination: they were real abstractions with tremendous material force. And this leads us to Descartes' second law of capitalist ecology: European civilization (or "we," in Descartes' word) must become "the masters and possessors of nature." Society and Nature were not just existentially separate; Nature was something to be controlled and dominated by Society. The Cartesian outlook, in other words, shaped modern logics of power as well as thought.
[...] The invention of Nature and Society was gendered at every turn. The binaries of Man and Woman, Nature and Society, drank from the same cup. Nature, and its boundary with Society, was "gyn/ecological" from the outset. Through this radically new mode of organizing life and thought, Nature became not a thing but a strategy that allowed for the ethical and economic cheapening of life. Cartesian dualism was and remains far more than a descriptive statement: it is a normative statement of how to best organize power and hierarchy, Humanity and Nature, Man and Woman, Colonizer and Colonized. Although the credit (and blame) is shared by many, it makes sense to call this a Cartesian revolution. Here was an intellectual movement that shaped only ways of thinking but also ways of conquering, commodifying and living [... that] made thinking, and doable, the colonial project of mapping and domination."
Patrilineal descent: In medieval terms, patrilineal descent is generally expressed as Divine Right (what Mikhail Bakhtin comments on through the Gothic chronotope as dynastic power exchange and hereditary rites—the time of the historical past); i.e., the bloodline of kings. Under Capitalism, this applies to social-material privileges accreting outwards from the nation-state/corporations through state-corporate propaganda (canon) in monomythic terms—a Symbolic Order that workers submit to once pacified.
The mythic structure: The Symbolic Order of Western canon: "Oh, look, it's a king or a god! Guess I'll bend the knee and turn off my brain!" Originally disrupted by the "mythic method" as coined by T.S. Eliot, who
'defines what he exemplifies in The Waste Land  – i.e. the "mythic method" – in his essay "Ulysses, Order, and Myth" . The mythic method looked to the past to glean meaning and understanding for what has been lost or destroyed in the present. This method emphasizes the underlying commonality of ostensibly disparate times and locations by employing a comparative mythology to transcend the temporal narrative. By stressing the mythical, anthropological, historical, and the literary, this method becomes at once (1) satirical by showing how much the present has fallen; (2) comparative to highlight similarities structurally; (3) historically neutral to escape the present to a revived future; (4) confused in its fusion of the realistic and the phantasmagoric; (5) ordering in its approach to morality and imaginative passion. The mythic method does not offer an escape to a better past, but an entry to a confusing present' (source). Eliot's 20th century modernist shenanigans (not to be confused with Modernism, aka the Enlightenment) fly directly in the face of James Campbell's "monomyth." Canonized as "the hero's journey" in popular Western fiction and formative to new fictions, the monomyth is central to state hegemony through worker pacification. Perhaps not entirely aware of this, Eliot still chose not to retreat into a "better" past in search of individuation (to borrow from Carl Jung); he addressed the present as a modern confusion that needs to be faced. In socio-political terms, this can be spaces that house abject/reverse things (with proletarian/reverse-abject variants, of course): the parallel space.
Totalitarian(ism): A state condition towards the total consolidation of power at one point. For example, in respect to Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia, Richard Overy writes in The Dictators (2004), "'Totalitarian' does not mean that they were 'total' parties, either all-inclusive or wielding complete power; it means they were concerned with the 'totality' of the societies in which they worked."
Parallel space: Parallel space (or language) works off the anti-totalitarian notion of "parallel societies": "A [society] not dependent on official channels of communications, or on the hierarchy of values of the establishment." For our purposes, these can be standardized/canonical/abject parallel spaces or non-standardized/iconoclastic/reverse-abject parallel spaces that, through bourgeois/proletarian means, dissociate/displace socio-material critiques—usually to a faraway "Gothic" place: e.g., a castle in a mythical, semi-earthly land of madness like And Radcliffe's fictionalized Italy or the 1980s, neoliberal (Americanized) double of Cold-War-era, Soviet Russia.
Class Warfare: Class war for/against the state-corporate hegemony and its collective bourgeois interests. Proletarian solidarity and collective action fight an uphill battle against fractured/pulverized variants—i.e., worker division and in-fighting through tokenism, assimilation (gaslight, gatekeep, girl-boss) and token normativity as a means of generating class traitors to stall/prevent/regress rebellion and maintain Capitalism.
Class traitors/cops: Workers who betray the working class in defense of capital, namely the state as capital, often the military or paramilitary (cops) but also those who take on the same bourgeois function by dividing workers in defense of capital, thus the state. Traitors and exploitation takes many, many forms because all workers are exploited to varying degrees and qualities—e.g., Justin Eric King lying/downplaying about his active role in exploiting foreign/migrant workers smuggled into the U.S. and exploited like basement chattel slaves, only to be given a slap on the wrist by the state. Regardless of whom, the structure defends itself through manufacture, subterfuge and coercion in defense of capital from whistleblowers and activists as fundamental/de facto enemies of the state. "Those with power will be there."
Tokenism/assimilation fantasy/minority police: Assimilated/appropriated forms of "emancipation" that turn minorities into race/class traitors aka "minority cops." A common example is Frantz Fanon's "black skin, white masks," whose afronormativity to various forms of the assimilated token servant desires to escape genocide by emulating their oppressors' genocidal/carceral qualities. This just doesn't apply to people of color, but any minority desiring to assimilate the in-group by selling out the rest of their out-group for clemency (which is always a brief reprieve). Tokenism is also intersectional, leading to preferential mistreatment—meaning "less punishment," not zero punishment the closer you are to the in-group colonial standard/status quo: the cis-het, white European/Christian male. In doing so, the status quo infiltrates activists groups, sublimating/assimilating them into the colonial binary along a gradient of gatekept barriers.
Gaslight, gatekeep...: Two common parts of socio-economic oppression employed by fascists and neoliberals. Gaslighting is a means of making abuse victims doubt the veracity of their own abuse (and their claims of abuse). Gatekeeping is a tactic more generally employed by those with formal power, denying various groups gainful employment (thus actual material advantage) or working platforms that allow them to effectively communicate systemic injustices perpetrated against them.
: A popular moderate MO, girl bosses are usually neoliberal symbols of "equality," a strong woman of authority who defends the status quo (an overtly fascist girl boss would be someone like Captain Israel
). This can be the female "suit," in corporate de rigueur
, but also Amazons or orcs as corporate commodities (war bosses
). Suits present Capitalism as "neutral," but also ubiquitous; Amazons and orcs (and all of their gradients) centralize the perceived order of good-versus-evil language in mass-media entertainment. Queer bosses
are the same idea, but slightly more progressive: a strong queer person of authority whose queernormativity
upholds the status quo. When this becomes cis-supremacist, the boss is a TERF—an assimilated "war bride."
War brides (class traitors/collaborators)
: Persons, usually women, who historically slept/fraternized with the enemy to survive
. However, it's hardly that simple. More actively bourgeois "brides" would collaborate with their conquerors against the conquered (exhibit 2); proletarian "brides" would kill their "husbands" for the Cause
. This includes the Dutch moffenmeiden
(women from Holland who slept with Nazis during the WW2 occupation, exhibit 2) and gastarbeiters
(foreign exchange laborers forced to uproot and work in West Germany during early post-Stalin years). In class warfare, unironic "sleeping with the enemy" amounts to "breaking bread" with them; i.e., accepting their material gifts and financial backing in exchange for political compromise. Proletarian warriors should never compromise in this manner, as it leads to continued exploitation; i.e., "kicking the can down the road."
(exhibit 4: Top left: a French woman, publicly humiliated after France's liberation, source; top right: Truus Oversteegen, a Dutch Resistance fighter known for killing Nazi officials; bottom: photos of Carice van Houten, show in Black Book  as the fictional Rachel Stein—a Dutch-Jewish singer-turned-spy who eludes capture, kills Nazis, and foils Dutch double-agents in the process [the movie was based off real-life accounts of Dutch resistance members, however. Point in fact, my own grandfather, Henri van der Waard II, was one such person].)
TERFs/SWERFs/NERFs: TERFs are Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists; SWERFs and NERFs exclude
sex workers and non-binary people, policing them but also members of their own
"in"-groups (fandoms). It's true that older feminist movements were/are
racist, exclusionary and cis-supremacist, etc; so I don't like to call TERFs
"non-feminists" (though I can understand the temptation). To make the
distinction between these older groups and feminism in solidarity with other
oppressed groups, I call TERFs fascist "feminists." To be fair, they
can be neoliberal, operating through national/corporate exceptionalism obscured
by a moderate veneer (centrist media). However, neoliberals still lead to
Capitalism-in-crisis, aka fascism, which adopts racist/sexist dogma and rape
culture/"prison sex" mentalities in more overtly hierarchical
ways. Not all TERFs are SWERFs/NERFs (or vice versa) but there's generally
overlap. All compromise in ways harmful to worker solidarity and emancipation.
Punching down: Reactionary political action, generally acts of passive or active aggression against a lower class by a higher class. For our purposes, middle-class people are afforded less total oppression through better material conditions (wages, but also healthcare, promotions, etc) by the elite—a divide-and-conquer strategy that renders them dependent on the status quo. This dependency allows the elite to demonize the poor in the eyes of the middle class. The elite antagonize the poor because the poor have the most incentive to punch up. This reliably engenders prejudice against them as a target, often to violent extremes. This is especially true in neoliberal canon:
Punching up: Emancipatory politics. Whereas punching down aligns with systemic power, punching up moves against these structures and their proponents through de facto roles. This owes itself to how Capitalism works: The system exploits workers and targets of genocide for the elite, requiring them to demonize potential threats, not just active ones. Asking for basic human rights might not be a conscious act of rebellion; it automatically becomes one in the eyes of the elite (who discourage human rights). The louder these voices grow, the harder they punch up. This forces the elite to "correct the market" with extreme prejudice, which they disguise through various bad-faith measures (and political "neutral language).
Reactive abuse: Systemic/social abuse that provokes a genuine self-defense reaction from the victim, whereupon the expectant abuser "self-defends" in extreme prejudice through DARVO. Reactive abuse correlates with reactionaries defending the state—re: reactionary politics (moderacy being a veiled form of this).
DARVO: A common abuser tactic at any register, DARVO stands for "Deny, Accuse, Reverse, Victim, Offender." It is meant to be used in bad faith, generally by punching down against activists at a socio-political level.
Bad(-)faith: The act of concealing one's true intentions, presenting a false willingness (the opposite of good faith) to discuss ideas openly while deliberately seeking to cause harm to the opposite party. This performance can be fascist "defensive maneuvers" or neoliberal dogma; it can also be beards and various queer/afronormative masks appropriated by TERFs and other assimilated groups.
Virtue-Signaling/white-knighting: False solidarity or alliances geared towards "clout" or personal brownie-point-farming. Think "brown-nosing" or "ass-kissing" but towards marginalized groups and their leaders with a desire to de-fang them: "Join us."
Tone-policing: Speech- and thought-regulation of activist groups—often through admonishment/open condescension by moderates.
Dogwhistles: Coded language, generally presented as innocuous or unrelated to those using it, meant to disguise the user's true ideology or political identity. A popular tactic amongst cryptofascists, but also TERFS. Cryptofascists: Fascists by any other name. These fascists deliberately mislabel themselves to avoid the all-purpose "Nazis" label, thus preserve their negative freedom by normalizing themselves. This includes white nationalists, Western Chauvinists, and pro-Europeans; it also includes TERFs, who have gone as far as spuriously decrying the label as "hate speech." I write "spurious" because hate speech is committed by groups in power, or sanctioned by those in power, against systemically marginalized targets. Please note: TERFs claiming self-persecution in bad faith (a standard fascist tactic) does not make them a legitimate target for systemic violence beyond what their relative privilege affords; it just makes them dishonest. Obscurantism: The act of deliberately concealing one's true self (usually an ideology or political stance) through deliberately deceptive ambiguity. The classic, 20th century example are the Nazis, who called themselves "national-socialists" by intentionally disguising their true motives behind stolen, deliberately inaccurate language. However, any sex-coercive group constantly employs concealment as a means of negative freedom: freedom from social justice. Neoliberal corporations routinely frame themselves as "neutral" and exceptional in the same breath, lying and denying the historio-material consequences of their own propaganda every chance they get; fascists celebrate dogwhistles (sans admitting to them as bad-faith) but condemn whistle-blowing as "censorship." TERFs can be neoliberal or fascist, but call themselves "gender-critical" in either case (similar to white supremacists calling themselves "race realists"). Despite whitewashing themselves, TERFs function as sporadically moderate bigots, dodging legitimate, sex-positive criticism. They generally accomplish this through DARVO obscurantism, a strategy of playing the victim while blaming actual victims by gaslighting them. (exhibit 5a: Source, "Cancel culture: the road to obscurantism"; note: the author actually blames iconoclasts for viciously condemning the Greats of Western Civilization to oblivion, itself a form of DARVO obscurantism: The West is built on settler-colonialism, Imperialism, and genocide.)
: Inspired by Edward Said's Representations of the Intellectual
(1993), an accommodated intellectual is—by my measure—a public-speaker, intellectual or thinker socio-materially accommodated by a formal institution of power. Though often corporatized (e.g., the think tank), this traditionally extends to tenured professors, who—even when their ideas are
useful to Communism—tend to become far more concerned with cataloguing these ideas than spreading them to a wider public (so-called "academic paywalls" and general gatekeeping behaviors). Such individuals are, as I like to call them, giant chickenshits.
Anisotropic: The alteration of meaning depending on the flow of exchange—e.g., the white savior vs the black criminal (despite both being violent) vs the white oppressor vs the black victim. For our purposes, this means "for or against capital/canon," etc—i.e., bourgeois heroic action is benevolent in one direction (from the hero's point of view) and terrifying from the victim's point of view, the assigned scapegoat made to suffer as the state's chosen target of sanctioned violence inside the state of exception (more on this in the manifesto). Likewise, this remains a common phenomena during the Promethean hero's journey inside the closed/parallel space.
Concentric/ism: "The Russian doll effect," an endless procession of mirrors, foes, doors, etc—i.e., the Promethean quest never ends; the war, carnage and rape never cease; the confusion and utter destitution, etc.
Intersectionality: When multiple bourgeois/proletarian codifiers align within a particular social group; e.g., cis-het white women or trans women of color, etc. Intersectionality tends to be canonically abjected or gaslit, gatekept, girl-bossed, fetishized, etc. This book thoroughly examines intersectionality under Capitalism as either bourgeois or proletarian.
Liminality: A linguistic position of conflict or transition, liminality is ontologically a state of being "in between," usually through failed sublimation/uncanniness; it invokes a "grey area" generally demonized in Western canon as "chaos." In truth, semantic disorder can be used to escape the perpetual exploitation and decay caused all around us by Capitalism and its giant lies (a concept we'll explore throughout this book). Liminality also occurs when working with highly canonical/colonized material, like the Western, European fantasy or highly exploitative material like canonical porn (with the word "pornography" being criminalized, thus something iconoclasts must reclaim). Gothic examples include monsters and parallel spaces, which tend to oscillate in liminal fashion.
Anachronistic/ism: Spatio-temporally incongruous; for our purposes, this applies to hauntology (a linguo-material sensation between the past and the present, but also a total inability to imagine a future beyond past forms of the future—two concepts we'll unpack during the manifesto at length).
Blank/blind parody: In Postmodernism (1991), Frederic Jameson writes,
"Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody's ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter and of any conviction that alongside the abnormal tongue you have momentarily borrowed, some healthy linguistic normality still exists. Pastiche is thus blank parody, a statue with blind eyeballs" (source).
Personally I think Jameson's "normality" echoes Nietzsche's or Freud's. As such, I envision pastiche and parody as likewise having bourgeois and proletarian qualities, much like sublimation does. They can be blank under bourgeois (centrist) forms. Likewise, though, "perceptive pastiche" can adopt the appearance of a false "blankness/blindness" (see, above: "Vaporwave," a hauntological subgenre) in the face of power—a tactic vital to revolutionaries' continued funding from different sources, as well as keeping them safe from violent reactionaries.
Half-real: From Jesper Juul's 2005 book of the same name; i.e., "A half-real zone between the fiction and the rules" that allows for emergent forms of transformative play. This can apply to sexual artwork (exhibit 93), Gothic liminalities like ghosts (exhibit 43c), live performances like a ball or masque (exhibit 75a), or Jesper's typical ludonarrative (videogames, exhibit 64c), etc.
Framed (concentric) narratives: A story-within-a-story (aka mis-en-abyme in artistic
circles), generally a perspective contained within an unreliable narrator's
point-of-view. A famous example is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which
tells the story from the shipmaster's perspective, who learns everything about Victor
and the Creature from Victor. Victor is a giant, colonial douchebag who lies
constantly and does his very patriarchal best to whitewash everything.
The Creature, meanwhile, is reactively abused constantly and forced to defend
his position after Victor has dragged his name through the mud for most of the novel.
Unreliable narratives/narrators/spaces (monsters): A narrator or narrative that is untrustworthy or epistemologically/phenomenologically dubious; in Gothic stories, these rely on ambiguous, historically-contested/-conflicting spaces with liminal markers.
(exhibit 5b: Artist, top-left: Persephone van der Waard; bottom-left: Michelangelo; right side: Hirohiko Araki, inspired by a variety of real-life musicians and clothing brands.)
Palimpsest: "A manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain"—common in Gothic stories, which amount to a cycle of lies; i.e., historical materialism: bourgeois history is unreliable, treacherous, like a Gothic lover or a concentric chest/midden or unreliable materials (cryptonyms). It can apply to a varieties of media or formats: sculpture, music, clothes, videogames, etc (exhibit 5b, 43a/43b).
Universal adaptability: A concept borrowed from Slavoj Žižek's A Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012), which outlines the ways in which a piece of media (in his case, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy") can be utilized universally by different groups to promote their own ideologies—all in spite of the original source material, including the author's socio-political stance.
The Pygmalion effect: The
patriarchal vision of those knowing-better "kings" of male-dominated
industries, "Pygmalion" means "from a male king's mind."
Male kings author visions of the past, present and future, including monsters,
invasion scenarios and escape fantasies; their reasoned, Cartesian, treatment
of women is heteronormative, thus abjectly hysterical.
Hysteria is a form of moderate condescension/reactionary control tied to Cartesian
dualism, but also the gaslight, gatekeep and girl-boss trifecta that argues
women are less rational than men; it tends to diagnose them with bizarre, completely
absurd medical conditions to keep them inactive and scared, but also under
men's power (e.g., bicycle
face is one, but here's a whole list of odd disorders/female causes of
death invented by male "Pygmalions," including
night brain and drawing-room anguish). However, it also tends to frame
women as mythical monsters/mothers that need to be killed for men to progress:
Medusas, Archaic Mothers, etc.
The Gothic, BDSM and Kink
These last points/ideas are smaller Gothic, kink and BDSM theories that come up constantly throughout this book. They're not listed in the manifesto, but rather are mentioned in relation to my exhibits and main Gothic theories. I wanted to list them all here; we will reference them again. —Perse
Gothic narrators/narratives: For its hero, narrators, spaces and speakers, a Gothic tale regularly involves unreliable/conflicting artificers and imposters, but also the patriarchal bloodline or castle as invented, but also a series of concentric, sedimentary palimpsests.
Fetishization: A fetish, or the act of making something into a fetish, is "a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, or part of the body." Generally fetishes are pre-existing social-sexual trends that people either embrace or reject. They aren't explicitly sexist (e.g., mutually consenting to show feet), but become sexist when used in exploitative ways (e.g., sex workers forced to show their feet to generate profit for someone else).
Rape culture and "prison sex" mentalities: Learned
power abuses taught by state-corporate propaganda and power relations through "Pavlovian"
conditioning that breaks the recipient's mind, bending them towards automatic,
violent behaviors towards state targets during moral panics. This response can be
men mistreating women, but also women mistreating each other or their fellow
exploited workers: TERFs abusing trans people and ethnic minorities.
Chaser/bait: Trans women are often seen as "bait"
within a "prison sex" mentality—i.e., forbidden fruit for
reactionaries to publicly condemn and privately "chase." A "chaser"
is someone a person who outwardly rejects the pursuit of "sodomy" (non-reproductive
sex, in the medieval sense) but secretly pursues it in private in relation to
various out-group types associated with it: the twink, femboy or ladyboy, or
trans women more broadly. "Baiting" can be inverted, with trans women
and similar groups also being policed in the sex worker community by AFAB
workers who, likewise, brand or otherwise treat us as "false women";
i.e., we're "luring" their customers away from them like
cis-male sex workers do and should be regarded with suspicion and contempt (to
be clear, neither we nor cis-male sex workers should be treated this way but
our treatment—as non-gender-conforming AMAB persons by AFAB sex workers—is transphobic).
Trap/twink-in-peril: A slur directed at homosexual men/non-gender-conforming AMABs, who are fetishized/coercively demonized by cis-het men when the nation-state cannot provide them heteronormative sex ("war brides"). Often, queer fiction comments on this exploitative side of the "bury your gays" trope through an abject, queer damsel-in-distress: the twink-in-peril, perhaps articulated mostly nakedly (with raw exploitation, but also exceptional nuance) in Dennis Cooper's Frisk (1991) or Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation (1995). Gentler, less-brutalized versions can be found sprinkled all throughout popular fiction, including Cloud-in-a-dress from Final Fantasy 7 (1997) and "Gerudo Link" from the Zelda series (which we'll explore more in Volume Three, Chapter Three, exhibit 93).
Moe: An infantilized art style of women popular in Japan, generally to make them look physically and emotionally younger—historically a form of female exploitation by male artists.
Ahegao: A facial expression tied to hentai ("perversion")
Japanese culture and the abject sexual objectification of women; i.e., the
"little death" of the so-called "O face" made during
orgasm, especially achieved by rough sex and rape play. While its "death
face" is historically attached to rape culture and unironic rape porn,
latter-day variants have become blind parodies (exhibit 104d) to the buried
historical trauma (appreciative forms can also be enjoyed in private, however).
Live burial: The Gothic master-trope, live burial—as marked by Eve Segewick in The
Coherence of Gothic Conventions (1986)—is expressed in the language of
live burial as an endless metaphor for the buried libido within concentric
structures as something to punish "digging into" (which includes
investigating the false family's incestuous/abjectly monstrous bloodline). To
move beyond psychoanalytic models and into Marxist territories, I would describe live burial as incentivized by power structures in ways that threaten abuse
(often death, incarceration or rape) to those who go looking into hereditary
and dynastic power structures, especially their psychosexual abuse and worker
exploitation: the fate of the horny detective, but also the whistleblower.
Kink: Nontraditional forms of sexual activity that don't necessarily involve forms of power exchange between partners (unequal or otherwise).
Roleplay: The playing of roles in social-sexual situations, usually with a dominant/submissive element (as many come from classic stories which tend to be heteronormative; but even iconoclastic stories transmute BDSM, fetishes and kinks to be sex-positive within dominant/submissive models).
Cuckolding: In sex-positive roleplay terms, cuckolding is watching someone fuck your SO (significant other) or having someone watch will you fuck their SO; i.e., a mutually consensual, negotiated activity.
Negotiation: The drawing up of power levels, exchange limits, boundaries and comfort levels (soft and hard limits) before social-sexual BDSM activities.
Safe word(s): Permission/boundary words used (often by a submissive but not always) to stall/stop whatever BDSM activities are unfolding. A common example is the traffic light system; i.e., "Green light, yellow light, red light."
Consent-non-consent: Negotiated social-sexual scenarios where one party surrenders total control over to the other party trusting that party to not betray said agreement or trust. (Demon) BDSM: Bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism—nontraditional forms of sexual activity that involve unequal power exchange. Both involve power, but non-consensual (sex-coercive) variants canonical involve power abuse—generally of women and other marginalized workers by white, cis-het men in romanticized tales thereof (e.g., Stoker's vampire, Barker's Cenobite) that often, according to Susan Sontag in 1974, invoke not just
"master scenario" whose purely sexual experience is "severed from personhood, from relationships, from love," but also the fascist language of death: "The color is black [and red], the material is leather, the seduction is
beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is
In a sex-positive sense, such ritualized regularly invoke demonized rituals as a Gothicized means of catharsis, but also practicing impulse and power control and during painful or sexual activities between good-faith participants.
Dom(inator/-inatrix): A BDSM actor who performs a dominant role—traditionally
masculine (especially in Gothic canon: Mr. Rochester, Edward Cullen, Christian
Grey and all the million monster variants of these kinds of characters) thus
ostensibly having more power. However, in honored realms of mutual consent,
they actually have less power than the sub, who only has to say no/red light,
etc (for a good example of sub power, watch the 2014 Gothic-erotic
thriller, The Duke of Burgundy); the sub controls the action by
giving the dom permission according to negotiated boundaries.
Sub(missive): A BDSM actor who performs a submissive role—traditionally
feminine (especially in Gothic canon: Jane Eyre, Bella Swan, Anastasia Steele
and all the million monster variants of these kinds of characters) thus
ostensibly having less power. However, in sex-positive scenarios, the sub calls
the shots from moment-to-moment (except in consent-non-consent, where they only
agreed to everything up front and sign everything over ahead of time—a useful
tactic for certain rape fantasies and regression scenarios).
top vs "bottoming"/a bottom: These terms generally refer to dominant/submissive
sexual activity in which someone "tops"; i.e., "rides"/is
rode. However, they can refer to BDSM/social-sexual arrangements with various,
historically-materially ironic configurations; e.g., "power bottoms"
or "topping from the bottom" (which can be literal, in terms of the
execution of physical sex, but also have BDSM implications/monster personages,
Regression: A form of dissociation, often tied to trauma or
healing from trauma. Common in rituals of appreciative trauma, which include Big/little
roles daddy/mommy doms and boy/girl subs, etc. However, regression is also something that sex-coercive predation keys off of.
Rape fantasies: Fantasies tied to sexual/power abuse (rape isn't about sex at all; it's about coercive
power control and abuse; re: "prison sex" and rape culture). This kind of performative peril can be appreciative/appropriative,
thus bourgeois/canonical or proletarian/iconoclastic. Common in Gothic
narratives, which tend to project trauma, rape and power abuse onto displaced, dissociative
scenarios: man vs nature, Jack-London-style; the lady vs the rapist or the slave
versus the master in numerous articulations (racialized, but also in
BDSM-monster frameworks), etc.
Aftercare: Rituals supplied after BDSM (or frankly just rough sex/emotional bonding moments and other social-sexual exchanges) that help the affected party recover better than they would if left unattended ("rode hard and put away wet" as it were).
The ghost of the counterfeit: Coined by Jerrold Hogle, this abject reality or hidden barbarity is a hauntological process of abjection that, according to David Punter, "displaces the hidden violence of present social structures, conjures them up again as past, and falls promptly under their spell" (source). I would add that it is a privileged, liminal position that endears a
sheltered consumer to the barbaric past as reinvented as consumable.
The narrative of the crypt: A narrative of a narrative to a hidden curse
announced by things displaced from the former cause (we'll unpack this idea
more during the manifesto when we examine cryptonomy).
Cryptomimesis: Defined by Jodey Castricano as,
A writing practice that, like certain Gothic conventions [e.g., Segewick's commentary on live burial as a timeless fixture of Gothic literature] generates its uncanny effects through the production of what Nicholas Rand might call a "contradictory 'topography of inside-outside'" [from Abraham and Torok's The Wolf Man's Magic Word …] Moreover, the term cryptomimesis draws attention to a writing predicated upon encryption: the play of revelation and concealment lodged within parts of individual words (source).
Castricano further describes this process as "writing with ghosts," referring to their nature as linguistic devices that adhere the sense of being haunted in domestic spaces: the house as inside, familiar and inherited by the living from the dead.
Rememory: From Tony Morrison's 1987 novel, Beloved, to which Morrison herself writes, "as in recollecting and
remembering as in reassembling the members of the body, the family, the
population of the past. And it was the struggle, the pitched battle between
remembering and forgetting, that became the device of the narrative [in Beloved]" (source).
Ghosts: Ghosts are ontologically complicated, can be: a
sentient ghost of something or someone, a ghostly memory or their own unique
entity that resembles the original as
a historical-material coincidence (the chronotope), a
friendly/unfriendly disguise, or creative egregore. E.g., Hamlet's dad,
Hamlet's memory of his dad as trigged by the space around him; or someone
painting Hamlet's dad as its own thing that isn't Shakespeare's version
despite the likeness; this applies to other famous ghosts in media—e.g., King
Boo from Mario, the monster from It Follows, 2014; or
my own friendly ghost from exhibit 43c—i.e., Derrida's Marxist spectres, etc.
The Promethean Quest/awesome mystery: Gothic stories enjoy a sense of awesome power tied to the chronotope or awesome ruin (what Percy Shelley calls "the colossal wreck," exhibit 5d, 64c, etc). In the wake of a great calamity is the presence of intimations of power that must be uncovered in pursuit of the truth—i.e., the Promethean (self-destructive) Quest. We'll examine several in the humanities primer, including Edmund Burke's Sublime, Rudolph Otto's Numinous/mysterium tremendum, and Lovecraft's cosmic nihilism, etc. All indicate the Gothic pursuit of a big power that blasts the finder to bits; or, in Radcliffe's case, is explained away during the conclusion of an
explained supernatural/rationalized event; e.g., the explained supernatural (exhibit
22, Scooby Doo and Velma).
(exhibit 5c: Two examples of the Promethean Quest/awesome mystery—from Event Horizon [top and bottom, 1997] and Alien [middle, 1979].)
The Black Veil: Radcliffe's famous "cloaking device" from The Mysteries of Udolpho, delayed until the end of the book (over 500 pages) to reveal behind a great terrible thing that made our heroine swoon; i.e., her immodest desire to look upon something that threatens her virtue and fragile mind. It remains a common device used in horror media today—e.g., present all throughout The Vanishing/Spoorloos (1988).
The closed space: A self-contained, claustrophobic, Gothic parallel space—generally a site
of seemingly awesome power, age and danger (usually occupied by something
sinister, if only the viewer's piqued curiosity/imperiled imagination):
churches, abbeys, monasteries, castles, mad laboratories, (war/urban crime
scenes), insane asylums, etc.
The term is borrowed from Cynthia Griffin Wolff's concept of "enclosed space" from her 1979
essay, "The Radcliffean Gothic Model: A Form for Feminine Sexuality"
Now a Gothic novel presents us with a different kind
of situation. It is but a partially realized piece of fiction: it is formulaic
(a moderately sophisticated reader already knows more or less exactly what to
expect in its plot); it has little or no sense of particularized
"place," and it offers a heroine with whom only a very few would wish
to identify. Its fascination lies in the predictable interaction between the
heroine and the other main characters. The reader identifies (broadly and
loosely) with the predicament as a totality: the ritualized conflict that takes
place among the major figures of a Gothic fiction (within the significant
boundaries of that "enclosed space") represents in externalized form
the conflict any single woman might experience.
except I've extend it beyond the purely psychological models (and psyches)
of a traditional Gothic readership (white, cis-het women) and now-outmoded school of thought (the Female Gothic of the 1970s). I do so in
connection to how the Gothic mode generally employs deeply confusing and
overwhelming time-spaces (chronotopes)—what Manuel Aguirre, in 2008, referred
to as "Geometries of Terror"
(exhibit 64b/64c)—that, along with their ambiguous, perplexing inhabitants
(exhibit 64a), phenomenologically disrupt the monomyth in pointedly
deconstructive, hauntological ways: the Promethean (self-destructive)
hero's quest as something that undermines patrilineal descent and dynastic
power exchange/hereditary rites in a never-ending cycle of war crimes, lies and
blood sacrifice (a fearful critique of medieval feudalism).
By extension, the Gothic mode generally employs deeply confusing and overwhelming time-spaces (chronotopes)—what Manuel Aguirre, in 2008, referred to as "Geometries of Terror" (exhibit 64b/64c)—that, along with their ambiguous, perplexing inhabitants (exhibit 64a), phenomenologically disrupt the monomyth in pointedly deconstructive, hauntological ways: the Promethean (self-destructive) hero's quest as something that undermines patrilineal descent and dynastic power exchange/hereditary rites in a never-ending cycle of war crimes, lies and blood sacrifice (a fearful critique of medieval feudalism). My graduate/post-graduate work thoroughly examines the Metroidvania ludonarrative (including speedruns) as a closed/parallel space; my master's thesis, my PhD research, but also re: "The Promethean Quest and James Cameron's Military Optimism in Metroid [exhibit 5c]." As my various iconoclastic writeups/art about Metroid show, the poststructuralist method—when taken beyond its somewhat limited 1960s/70s praxial scope (the '70s being the emergence of academic Gothic thought)—can be critically empowered in Marxist ways to actually critique capital through iconoclastic monsters and spaces, but also creative interpretations/responses to either as already existing for me to rediscover. That's what Gothic Communism does, full-bore. No beating around the bush! —Perse
Note: Many of the drawings in this book are actually modified versions from
my own portfolio—updated using collage/airbrushing techniques that I've been
using for years. —Perse)
The Gothic heroine: The (often) female protagonist of Gothic stories (exhibit 5c). Classically a passive sex object/detective/damsel-in-distress, which became increasingly masculine, active and warlike in the 20th century (exhibit 30—though Charlotte Dacre beat everyone to the punch in 1806 when she wrote Zofloya and had the masculine-yet-trammeled Victoria stab Lilla, the archetypal Gothic heroine, to death). Unlike their male counterparts, who tend to be soldiers or scientists (violent/mentally
fragile men of war and reason with—at least in America—closeted ties to Nazi
Germany and parallel conservative movements wearing a liberal guise)) by default, women within the colonial binary are relegated to spheres of domesticated ignorance; i.e., "Something is wacky about my residence, my guest, my wardrobe, etc. Guess I'll go investigate [exhibit 48]!" Radcliffe called female virtue "armoring"; though somewhat problematic on its face (it's pro-European), the idea still presents the notion of feminine flexibility in the face of things that male heroes can cannot rationalize or stab/shoot to death.
Liminal space: Liminal spaces, in architectural terms, are spaces designed to be moved through; in Gothic terms, these amount to Bakhtin's chronotopes as museum-like times spaces that, when moved through, help past legends come alive, animating in literal and figuratively Gothic/medieval ways. Classically these include the animated portrait, miniature, gargoyle, (often giant) suit of armor, effigy and double, etc; more modern variants include Tool's early music videos (exhibit 43a), Trent Reznor's 1994 music video for "Closer" (exhibit 43b) and Mario 64's own liminal spaces as outlined by Marilyn Roxie's presentation on the Dennis Cooper blog: "Marilyn Roxie presents … The Inescapable Weirdness of Super Mario 64."
Liminal monsters: Monsters that convey a partial, ambivalent oscillating sense of conflict
on the surface of their imagery. A hopelessly common example is the monster girl, as women
are generally fetishized/demonized in canon and must be reclaimed (exhibit 5e; 23, the Medusa; 49, phallic women; 50, furries; 62e, cavewomen, etc). Akin to a black
mirror, Eve Segewick, in 1981, called this "the character in the
veil: imagery of the surface in the Gothic novel": a "shallow
pattern" literally on the surface of paper or a screen or glasses that can
evoke things much deeper across a composite that spans space and time.
(exhibit 5e: Top-left:
Muscarine's "Profligates" from the
Darkest Dungeon  mod workshop. The Tusk is a sexy cavegirl who
iconoclastically stinks—with body odor being historically-materially denied to
women despite their armpits smelling just as much as guys' do, let alone their
vaginas, which guys do not have and can have all sorts of smells: e.g., Zeuhl once asked me to smell their panties, saying incredulously to me "Isn't that crazy?" because their cootchie smelled rather strong [and
to which my look of shock, post-smelling it, utterly betrayed me; to be fair, it was rather
pungent from us simply walking around my hometown]. Apart from the Tusk, the Hood is a slutty Red Riding Hood, the Fawn
is a patchwork animal-girl-ninja, etc. Lower-top-left:
mods for Muscarine's Profligates, by JOMO=1. Fan mods
tend to be far hornier [see: Black Reliquary's many amazon thirst traps,
top-right] than official canon does. Generally the official art/content for the
main game [top-right] or "faithful" fan art [bottom-left: pagong1] tends to be
less overtly sexualized, but no less canonical or sexually dimorphic: e.g., the
Countess as an Archaic Bug Mom slain by the bad-faith ancestor [who is frankly
a giant dick for the whole game]. (exhibit 5f: Artist, left: William Mai;
artist, right: Blush
Brush. Examples of furries. "Furry" is an incredibly diverse art
style. For more examples, consider exhibits 65 or 68.)
chimera isn't simply the Greek monster, but any kind of composite body or
entity, often with elements of multiplicity or plurality (e.g., the Gerasene demon). Conversely, furries are
humanoid (commonly called "anthro") personas that tend to have
humanoid bodies, but semi-animalistic limbs and intersex components tied to ancient
rituals of fertility but also gender expression relating with nature. While
Greek myths are commonly more animalistic, the (mainstream) furries of today
are often closer to the Ancient Egyptian variety: an animal
"headdress" or mask over a mostly-human body. There's plenty of
morphological gradients, of course—with "feral" or
"bestial" variants being more and more animalistic; and the Giger
variety being more xenomorphic and Gothically surreal (the xenomorph [exhibit 51a/60c]
being one of the most famous, if contested, chimeras in modern times). A
general rule of thumb, however, is the genitals tend to be human;
however, "monster-fucker" variants very quickly move away from
humanoid bodies (and/or genitals) altogether, often with abject, stigma animals
like the insect, leech, reptile, or worm. Likewise, while "fursonas"
(furry personas) tend to be sexualized, they aren't always; in fact, they
primarily function as alter-egos with many different functions: the political
(see: alt-right furries as well as "furry
the dramatic, the horror genre (see:
pretty much anything by Junji Ito, but also Five Nights at Freddy's,
2014, or its various wacky clones) and also for general fandom
purposes; i.e., furries are not
similar to Bronies (though any popular fandom
that has a large underage audience is going to attract sexual predators; see: Five Nights at Freddy's or Lily Orchard's pedophile escapades, hidden behind
sexualized Brony fan fiction).
Monster-fucking: The mutually consensual act
of fucking monsters; i.e., sex-positive, Gothicized kink. However, as this
tends to involve inhuman, animal-esque creatures beyond just werewolves,
Frankensteinian creatures, or vampires, make sure to refer to the Harkness test
(exhibit 38c) to avoid conducting/depicting bestiality or pedophilia! Note: While
sexual abuse does happen in furry communities, these communities are ultimately
quite small and those behaviors are not the norm within any more than in the
LGBTQ community at large. However, in the tradition of moral panics, this won't
stop reactionary groups from scapegoating furries and similar out-groups, the persecutors
hypocritically overlooking widespread systemic abuse by paramilitaries and
communities leaders in the bargain. —Perse
(exhibit 5h: The Satanic Temple website.
I never joined, but they seem like an alright bunch—especially compared to the anti-feminist
moderacy of the YouTube Skeptics/atheist Community. To that, "skepticism"
often dogwhistles a common moderate/reactionary tactic; i.e., to "just ask
questions." This maneuver is bad-faith more often than not, as seen in the
"gender critical" community or the so-called race "realists,"
also the transphobia of cis-skeptics defending the "fairness" of
professional sports by excluding trans people, etc.)
furries, Satanism is generally treated as a regular scapegoat during moral
panic (with "Satanic" historically being used to scapegoat
members of the LGBTQ community during the 1980s into the present). However, Satan is a
complex figure and can personify different forms of persecution and rebellion.
For example, I
have explored before in my own research, as well as my own living experiences as a Satanic
For example, Satanic churches aren't ecclesiastical in the traditional sense, but
their implementation in Western culture isn't always implemented well. Anton LaVey's Church of Satan is a bit
overly hedonistic and dated, sounding painfully cliché and sexist. The
Satanic Temple, on the other hand, is far more accessible, while refusing to
compromise on the humanitarian issues they seek to confront in society as
structured on organized religion (America wasn't simply founded by the
Puritans, but founded on their awful principles, too).
Uncanny: From Freud's unheimlich, meaning "unhomely," the uncanny actually has many different academic applications. One of the most famous (and outmoded) is the liminal/parallel space (exhibit 43a, 64c). Another common example is the uncanny valley, which—while generally applied to animation techniques—can also apply to ghosts, egregores and other Gothic imitations (the unfriendly disguise/pastiche, exhibit 43b; the friendly, iconoclastic variant 43c) or humanoid likenesses that fail to "pass the test" (for a diegetic example of this concept, refer to the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner, 1982).
Terror and horror: Gothic schools begot from the Neo-Gothic period (the 1790s, in particular, between Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis) largely concerning with looking—specifically showing and hiding violence, monsters, taboo sex and other abject things (this lends it a voyeuristic, exhibitionist quality). Defined posthumously by Radcliffe: "Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them […] and where lies the great difference between horror and terror but in the uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreaded evil?" (source).
Phallic women: Canonical phallic
women are female characters, villains, and monsters (often Amazons or something
comparable) who behave in a traditional masculine way—though generally in response to
patriarchal structures with an air of female revenge; e.g., Lady Macbeth
from Macbeth, 1606; Victoria de Loredani from Zofloya,
1806; Rumi from Perfect Blue, 1997, and Ripley/Samus Aran
from Aliens/Metroid. When Dale Townshend introduced the term "phallic women" to me, he quoted Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose (source).
In non-fiction, this encompasses TERFs, who adopt violent, minority-police roles post-trauma, accepting further "prison sex" conditioning by reactionaries during moral panics. The
phallic power of women is canonically treated as hysterically fleeting (e.g.,
Lady Galadriel's "dark queen" moment;
or Dani's fall from grace as the dark mother of dragons, in Game of Thrones,
2009, her self-defeating hysteria supplied by the authors of the show to
justify male rule during the final season).
Archaic Mothers (and vaginal spaces): An ancient symbol of female/matriarchal power. In Gothic
stories, the Archaic Mother is generally something for the canonical phallic
woman to slay—e.g., Samus killing Mother Brain in service of the Galactic
Federation and the Man (displaced to outer space); for a more detailed writeup
about these concepts in Metroid, consider my 2021, writeup, "War
Vaginas: Phallic Women, Vaginal Spaces and Archaic Mothers in Metroid." However, arguably one of the most famous is the medusa. Medusa was Barbara Creed's chosen source of female
fear in her 1993 book, The Monstrous-Feminine:
Perseus slew the Medusa he did not—as commonly thought—put an end to her reign
or destroy her terrifying powers. Afterwards, Athena embossed her shield with
the Medusa's head. The writhing snakes, with their fanged gaping mouths, and
the Medusa's own enormous teeth and lolling tongue were on full view. Athena's
aim was simply to strike terror into the hearts of men as well as reminding
them of their symbolic debt to the imaginary castrating mother. And no doubt
she knew what she was doing. After all, Athena was the great Mother-Goddess of
the ancient world and according to ancient legend—the daughter of Metis, the
goddess of wisdom, also known as the Medusa."
Catalyzed by Freud's
essay "Medusa's Head" (1922) and the Patriarchal bogeywoman, the
Archaic Mother, Creed's characterization of Medusa is post-Freudian, seeking to
comment on women beyond their universal portrayal as victims in Western canon:
their monstrous, ancient function.
The Male/Female Gothic: Stemming from earlier periods of Gothic academic (1970s), the Male and
Female Gothic are gendered ideas of the Gothic school or work connected to
older, Neo-Gothic schools: Ann Radcliffe's de facto School of Terror and
Matthew Lewis' School of Horror (outlined as
such in Devendra Varma's The Gothic Flame, 1923; though
perhaps articulated earlier than that). Radcliffe's school focused on terror
concealing the "dreaded evil," the explained supernatural and raising
the imagination through carefully maintained suspense. Lewis's contributions to
the so-called Male Gothic focused more on the living dead, overtly supernatural
rituals, black magic, and sex with demons, murder, and so on. Frankly Male
Gothic is a bit outmoded, with Colin
Broadmoor making a strong argument for Lewis' Gothic camp being far more queer
than strictly "male" in The Monk (1796) despite the lack of
sexuality and gender functioning as identity when he wrote it (similar to
Tolkien or Milton, despite their own intentions).
(exhibit 5i: Artist:
Egregore (simulacrum): An occult or monstrous concept representing a non-physical entity that
arises from the collective thoughts of a distinct group of people (what
Plato and other philosophers have called the simulacrum through
various hair-splittings; e.g., "identical copies of that which never
existed" being touched upon by Baudrillard's concept of hyperreality). The idea, here, is that monsters
tend to represent social ideas begot from a public imagination according to
fearful biases. In Gothic-Communist terms, this invokes
historical-material warnings of codified power or trauma—including totems,
effigies, fatal portraits, suits of armor, or gargoyles—projected back onto superstitious
workers through ambiguous, cryptonymic illusions. For our purposes, these
illusions are primarily fascist/neoliberal, as Capitalism encompasses the
material world. It must be parsed/transmuted.
For a holistic example of all of these ideas in action, check out The Babadook (2014); it combine crypt narrative, Black Veils, Gothic heroines, chronotopes, liminal space/monsters et al into a singular narrative in a fairly iconoclastic (queer) way (it's also one of my favorite films and I love to analyze it)! —Perse
(artist: Emma Model, modified by Persephone
van der Waard)
"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" laid
the foundation for her brother's Romantic canon:
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
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 I wish to honor. Not only
did their knowledge, bravery, generosity and love make this book possible in
its current form; they made it fun, too:
Fen, and Lydia: A mega-special thank you for your friendship over the years and
for your special help with this project. I couldn't have finished it as it
presently exists without your priceless contributions. To Zeuhl, for being one
of the most interesting and cool people I've ever met. To Doctors
Craig Dionne, Dale Townshend, Eric Acton, and David Calonne for staying in
touch over the years and giving me feedback, encouragement and ideas. To Lusty Angel, for being a really
wonderful friend and for showing me a lot of cool things to include in the book
that I wouldn't have otherwise! And to Cuwu: Our friendship may have been
brief, but it was hella saucy and 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 introducing me to SpongeBob.
Special thanks to all of the models involved; their efforts breathed tremendous
beauty, inspiration and meaning into my work. To Nyx, Itzel, Dani, and Foxy—thank
you for modeling specifically for this project on short notice! Emma, thank you for keeping my
spirits (and other things) up during this book's creation! Thank you to past
collaborators as well, whose contributions were absolutely vital: Venusinaries, Keighla Night, Scarlet Love, Mercedes the Muse, Quinnvincible, Krispy Tofuuu, Miss
Misery and Autumn Ivy
(no hard feelings, my dude). I wrote it for all of you, but also every sex
worker/cutie I've drawn over the years. In hard times, know that you're all
special, valid people; that your signature kindness, warm personalities, and
stunning bodies enrich the world!
Special thanks to the ace and/or neurodivergent people in my life, whose
constant feedback and support has proven invaluable.
I'd also like to thank the content creators on YouTube whose political
discourse and general content proved incredibly helpful in writing this
book: Theremin Trees, Essence
of Thought, Sheep in the
Box, James Somerton, J.
Aubery, Jessie Gender, Professor
Lando, Three Arrows, Schafer
Scott, Satenmadpun, More
Plates More Dates, The
Majority Report, Hasan Piker, Fascinating
Horror, YUGOPNIK, Broey
Deschanel, Joon the King, Macabre
Storytelling, Sisyphus 55, John
the Duncan, Noah Samsen, Bad
Empanada, F.D. Signifier, Hakim, Non
Slice, Kay and
Skittles, Second Thought, Dreading, The
People Profiles, Caelan Conrad, Little
Hoots, shark3ozero, Anansi’s
Library and Renegade
Cut. Thank you all for your wonderful video essays, political commentaries,
Thank you to Karl Jobst,
Bismuth, Summoning Salt, and the other
members of the YouTube speedrunner documentarian community for making such
well-researched content; it contributed to my own graduate work and towards
Thanks to the various content creators, speedrunners, and streamers I've
interviewed over the years for my various interview series, whose reflections
have helped me rethink what the Gothic even is. Without your contributions,
this book as it currently exists would not be possible:
- "From Vintage to Retro: An FPS Q&A series": 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.
- "Hell-blazers: Speedrunning Doom Eternal": I created this series when Doom Eternal was new. It interviews Twitch streamers and speedrunners about the game and why they play it.
- "Giving My Two Cents: A Metal Compendium": 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.
- "The 'Alien: Ore' Interview Project": 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. Kailey and Sam Spear enjoyed that so much they agreed to be interviewed. Includes numerous interviews from the cast and crew, all of whom are total rock stars!
Lastly, thank you to the many, many other artists hitherto unmentioned in this Acknowledgements section whose work is featured all throughout Sex Positivity. Some of you are recent discoveries, be they models from the present or masters from the past. However, I have followed and studied some of you for many years, and now feel very differently than I did once upon a time! For example, I can see the sexist, racist and otherwise xenophobic/fascist undertones in Frank Frazetta. All the same, his canon is still worthy of dialectical-material study—to learn from the past and appreciate the sex-positive lessons in his work, however imperfect! May they shape the world into something better.
Thank you all very much for reading! Be brave and don't be afraid to
learn! Nazi pigs and neoliberals, fuck off.
—Persephone van der Waard
About the Author
"What is a [woman]? A miserable, little pile of secrets!" —Matt Walsh/Dracula, What is a Woman? (2021) / Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)
(model: Persephone van der Waard; photographer: Zeuhl)
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
In perusing, one thing jumped out at me. That is hauntology. It's something I've come across over the years. But I just now realized that this is an old idea. The American Anti-Federalists (Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Ethan Allen, etc) spoke of not being ruled by the dead hand of the past, not submitting to the idolization of corpses.ReplyDelete
They often used overt language like that. What they revered was the living generation that would make its own living constitution. They were undermining the very concept of founding fathers, as each generation would have to create its own society, again and again.
I wonder if anyone else has made that connection. In line with Mark Fischer, it brings to mind Corey Robin's take on the reactionary mind, specifically it's fantastical and revisionist relationship to the past, in terms of the obfuscations and misdirections of the Burkean moral imagination. It is part of the process of normalizing and making invisible ideological realism.
From a more artistic and mythological perspective, Lewis Hyde calls this force Hermes of the dark, what binds. As opposed to Hermes of the light, what unbinds. But Hyde has good insights about how these roles interrelate. In unbinding an old system, we will end up binding into place a new one.
Anyway, it makes me wonder where this line of thinking originated. I don't know where the Anti-Federalists got their rhetoric from. But I know they were influenced by the 17th century Country Party and Radical Whigs. The basic insight, though, obviously goes back much earlier.
One can think of the oft-persecuted mystics, in their direct experience of a living God, who challenged the theocracy and clergy who worshipped a book filled with dead words. Interestingly, research has shown that people who have supernatural / spiritual experiences afterward are less likely to attend church.
The idea of living constitutionalism, today sometimes called liberal constitutionalism, came to the American tradition by way of the Quakers. It's not surprising that Quakers look to direct experience of a living God, refusing to bow down to priests or even the physical structures of churches.
That is a major impulse of leftism, as I see it; specifically what correlates to liberal-mindedness in social science research, such as openness to experience. It's about reconnecting to one's experience, the very thing that trauma dissociates us from.
Oh, for sure! Hauntology, the uncanny, abjection, etc—these are all old concepts that are being reidentified in the modern world (existing under Capitalism in ways they wouldn't under Feudalism and older forms of existence). I didn't know that of the Founding Fathers, but I'm not really surprised; they were a bunch of genocidal old cunts, so ignoring the voices of the dead in pursuit of empire would have suited their material pursuits. But American Liberalism, as Howard Zinn points out, was tremendously useful to the American ruling elite in getting white servants to fight and die for the status quo while pitting themselves against the other marginalized groups who stood to gain nothing by the enrichment of the already stupidly wealthy American owner class. I know that Marxist's line of thinking emerged from a direct response and critique of Hegel, but who Hegel was inspired by I couldn't say.Delete
Interesting thoughts about Hyde. I'm not familiar with them! To clarify about the Burkean moral imagination, are you referring to 18th century political thinker, Edmund Burke?