Skip to main content

Sex Positivity versus Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism: Manifesto

Update, 2/14/2024: As of Valentine's 2024, the full version of my manifesto volume is now live! To download my manifesto volume and thesis volume, go to my website's 1-page promo to pick up your own copies for free! While you're there, you can also learn about the other volumes, project history and logo design/promo posters!  If you want to read more about the manifesto volume on this blog (and see some art samples), check out this new blog post covering the volume's release! 

If you liked this blogpost, you absolutely should download the full volume; it's more than double the size of this post, containing 497 pages/~187,000 words and ~326 unique images (minus the paratextual documents) versus the blogpost's 293 pages/~53,500 words and 83 unique images. The full volume also features dozens of collabs with different sex workers (and several illustrators) unique to the finished volume. 

This book sample—apart from the abstract, disclaimer and table of contents—contains a rough-cut, much older version of the manifesto for my upcoming book, Sex Positivity versus Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism: Liberating Sex Work under Capitalism through Iconoclastic Art. Since writing it, I've divided the book into four volumes, of which the manifesto is only one half of Volume One (the other half being dedicated to trauma writing and artwork). The other volumes are Volume Zero (the thesis), Volume Two (the Humanities primer) and Volume Three (the praxis volume). I'm releasing the volumes in numerical order and Volume Zero is currently live on my website; Volume One will need to be updated in its entirety before I release it, and all of the proofreading won't be applied here. Instead, this blogpost shall remain online to serve as a historical record; but I won't be updating it any further.

All of this means that the blogpost sample is now incredibly outdated. When I originally wrote it, it was the center of my book's argumentation; I have since expanded that argumentation well beyond my manifesto—i.e., writing my thesis volume, which basically serves as my PhD in independent research form. The manifesto is still incredibly important—it's a more basic and conversational version of my thesis, being designed to simplify its arguments so they can be taught—but the fact remains that this blogpost is over a year old, and superseded by my thesis, which is much more recent and well-developed. The finished manifesto (and rest of Volume One) will need to be proofread considerably more before going live, and when it does, I will not be updating this blogpost (due to Blogger's godawful limitations). Instead, you will need to go to my website and download the complete version of Volume One when it debuts [see the update message, above].

—Persephone van der Waard, 11/4/2023


Sex Positivity examines the various differences between sex positivity and sex coercion in sexualized media. Specifically, its "Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism" combines anarcho-Communism, Marxist ideas and 4th wave feminism with the sharpness of Gothic academic theory, the immediacy of online political discourse, as well as postcolonial, posthuman and queer theory, ludology, sex education, antifascist (thus antiwar/anticapitalist) sentiment, poetry and a variety of xenophilic sex worker illustrations/exchanges to holistically and dialectically-materially examine and combat xenophobic mental enslavement during the Internet Age—specifically how neoliberal state-corporate proponents, TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical [Fascist] Feminists) and cryptofascists use canonical imagery created from coerced sex work to affect imagination as a socio-material process; i.e, using it to generate cryptonymic, hauntological, socio-material arrangements that

  • continuously exploit sex workers through xenophobia under late-stage Capitalism.
  • canonically enshrine their abuse in hauntological crypts that "incarcerate," "lobotomize," "infantilize" and "incriminate" the public imagination; i.e., Mark Fischer's Capitalist Realism, or myopic inability to imagine a world beyond Capitalism even when Capitalism is in decay (whose maxim regarding Capitalist Realism reads: "It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of Capitalism"; source: Capitalist Realism, 2009).
  • simultaneously condemn sex-positive artists who seek to liberate sex workers through their own iconoclastic, xenophilic praxis; i.e., camping the canon to escape its brutal historical materialism.

Sex Positivity illustrates, similar to how oscillation is a key component of the Gothic, Gothic Communism is the oscillation between Capitalism and anarcho-Communism as dialectical-material forces felt in Gothic language by real people: oppositional praxis, or the practical application of theory in dialectical-material opposition. To combat the nation-state as the ultimate foe, its chief aim is to be campier (thus sexier and funnier) than Marx; i.e., camping his ghost to develop a holistically intuitive anarcho-Communism begot through widespread emotional and Gothic intelligence that recultivates the Superstructure and reclaims the Base.


"If it was not good, it was true; if it was not artistic, it was sincere; if it was in bad taste, it was on the side of life."

—Henry Miller, on criticism and the Supreme-Court-level lawsuit he received for writing The Tropic of Cancer (1934)

[As my final book will be uncensored, this blogpost features a slightly different version of the disclaimer than the one shown here. —Perse, 2/19/2023]

Regarding This Book Sample's Artistic/Pornographic Nudity and Sexual Content: This writing sample is taken from my book, Sex Positivitywhich thoroughly discusses sexuality in popular media, including fetishes, kinks, BDSM, Gothic material, and general sex work; the illustrations have been carefully curated to illustrate my arguments. Because Sex Positivity considers pornography to be art, it examines the many ways that sex-positive art makes iconoclastic statements against the state and its propaganda; this includes visual examples of sex-positive/sex-coercive artistic nudity borrowed from publicly available sources to make its educational/critical arguments. While explicitly criminal sexual acts, taboos and obscenities are discussed herein, no explicit illustrations thereof are shown, nor anything criminal: i.e., no snuff porn, child porn or revenge porn. However, it does examine things generally thought of as porn that are unironically violent. 

Visual examples of artistic nudity have been borrowed from publicly available sources, but their uncensored nudity on this blogpost has been limited to: flaccid penises; female nipples, buttocks, labia (not spread by the fingers) and pubic hair (the full uncensored materials will be provided in my book's final, published draft, however). Likewise, while explicit sexual acts, taboos and obscenities are discussed herein, this book sample contains no illustrations thereof. Examples of prurient artwork and sex work will either be clothed or otherwise presented in ways that avoid showing obscene content: "ultimate sexual acts [that showcase visible penetration of an obvious female human vagina by an obvious human male penis], normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals, or sado-masochistic sexual abuse" (source). 

The point of this book isn't to be obscene for its own sake, but to educate the broader public (including teenagers*) about sex-positive artwork and labor historically treated as obscene by the state. For the material herein to be legally considered obscene it would have to simultaneously qualify in three distinct ways (aka the "Miller" test):

  • appeal to prurient interests (i.e., an erotic, lascivious, abnormal, unhealthy, degrading, shameful, or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion)
  • attempt to depict or describe sexual conduct in a patently offensive way (i.e., ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, lewd exhibition of the genitals, or sado-masochistic sexual abuse)
  • lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

Taken as a whole, this book discusses debatably prurient material in an academic manner, depicting and describing sexual conduct in a non-offensive way for the express purpose of education vis-à-vis literary-artistic-political enrichment.

*While this book was written for adults—the full, uncensored PDF being provided to them through my age-gated website—I don't think it or this blog sample should be denied from curious teenagers through a supervising adult. The primarily reason I say this (apart from the trauma writing sections, which are suitably intense and grave) is that the academic material can only be simplified so far and teenagers probably won't understand it entirely (which is fine; plenty of books are like that—take years to understand more completely). As for sexually-developing readers younger than 16 (ages 10-15), I honestly think there are far more accessible books that tackle the same basic subject matter more quickly at their reading level. All in all, this book sample examines erotic art and sex positivity as an alternative to the sex education currently taught (or deliberately not taught) in curricular spheres. It does so in hopes of improving upon canonical tutelage through artistic, dialectical-material analysis. 

Fair Use: This book is non-profit, and its artwork is meant for education, transformation and critique. For those reasons, the borrowed materials contained herein fall under Fair Use. All sources come from popular media: movies, fantasy artist portfolios, cosplayer shoots, candid photographs, and sex worker catalogs intended for public viewing. Private material has only been used with a collaborating artist's permission (for this book—e.g., Blxxd Bunny's OF material or custom shoots; or as featured in a review of their sex work on my website with their consent already given from having done past work together—e.g., Miss Misery).

Concerning the Exhibit Numbers and Parenthetical Dates: I originally wrote this book as one text, not three volumes. Normally I provide a date per primary text once per text—e.g., "Alien (1979)"—but following this rule would have to redate various texts in Volumes Two and Three. I have opted out of doing this. Likewise, the exhibit numbers are sequential for the entire book, not per volume; references to a given exhibit code [exhibit 11b2 or 87a] will often refer to exhibits not present in the current volume. I have not addressed this in the first addition of my book, but might assemble a future annotated list in a second edition down the road.

Concerning (the PDF's) Exhibit Image Quality: The final book will contain over 650 different images, which—combined with the fact that Microsoft Word appears to compress images twice (first, in-document images and second, when converting to PDFs) along with the additional hassle that is WordPress' limitations on accepting uploaded PDFs (which requires me to compress the PDF again)—has resulted in sub-par image quality for the exhibit images themselves. To compensate, all of the hyperlinks link to the original sources where the source images can be found. Sometimes, it links to the individual images, other times to the entire collage, and I try to have updated, working links; however, the ephemeral, aliased nature of sex work means that branded images do not always stay online, so some links (especially those to Twitter/X accounts) won't always lead to a source if the original post is removed.

Concerning Aliases: Sex workers survive through the use of online aliases and the discussion of their trauma requires a degree of anonymity to protect victims from their actual/potential abusers. This book also contains trauma/sexual anecdotes from my own life; it discusses my friends, including sex workers and the alter-egos/secret identities they adopt to survive "in the wild." Keeping with that, all of the names in this book are code names (except for mine, my late Uncle Dave's and his ex-wife Erica's—who are only mentioned briefly by their first names). Models/artists desiring a further degree of anonymity (having since quit the business, for example) have since been given a codename other than their former branded identity sans hyperlinks (e.g., Jericho).

Extended, Book-Wide Trigger Warning: This entire book thoroughly discusses homophobia, transphobia, enbyphobia, sexism, racism, race-/LGBTQ-related hate crimes/murder and domestic abuse; child abuse, spousal abuse, animal abuse, misogyny and sexual abuse towards all of these groups; power abuse, rape (date, marital, prison, etc), discrimination, war crimes, genocide, religious/secular indoctrination, manmade ecological disasters, and fascism.

(model and artist: Itzel Sparrow and Persephone van der Waard)

Volume/Chapter Summaries

The book has been in-the-making since July 2022, but has experienced several growth spurts in the passing months that have greatly increased its scope and size. These changes have since required me to split the book into four volumes; apart from their chapters, each volume will contain the same abstract, disclaimer, about-the-logo and table of contents for its chapters and subchapters (the entire table of contents will be provided as a separate companion PDF on my website), as well as an acknowledgements section thanking everyone personally or tangentially involved in this book's creation.

This blogpost contains about 70% of Volume One. The glossary has been reposted on my website as a companion PDF; the sample essay will be included in Volume One when it releases on Halloween.

Click here to access my website's 1-page promo, which contains all relevant download links/information regarding my book. 

—Perse, 9/6/2023

Volume One contains my original preface, manifesto, synthesis roadmap and sample essay.

  • The preface explains how Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communist differs from older Gothic and Marxist academia/praxis that I wish to modify and borrow from (Marxist-Leninism, postmodernism, psychoanalysis) in order to proceed beyond the myopia of Capitalist Realism using a unique synthesis of Gothic theories, Marxist concepts, and various other factors presented with commonplace language. 
  • The manifesto gives our mission statement, as well as a variety of signposts and core ideas I've coined/retooled from older thinkers: the Six Gothic-Marxist goals of Gothic Communism (the Six Rs), Four Gothic academic theories (the Four Gs); it also covers the topics of the Gothic mode we'll cover through the book—its monsters, lairs/parallel space, Hermeneutic Gothic-Communist Quadfecta, and phobias—as well as the Six Doubles of Creative/Oppositional Praxis and their synthetic oppositional groupings.
  • The sample essay [not included in this sample] uses every key idea in my book to analyze a primary text, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021), at full speed.
  • The synthesis roadmap [not included in this sample] covers how to use the synthetic oppositional groupings to synthesize our general terms and academic ideas useful, processing them into idiosyncratic, emotionally and Gothically intelligent social-sexual habits within our own lives.

Table of Contents

I am the table! —James Hetfield; "The View," on Metallica's Lulu (2011)

—Volume One: Gothic (Anarcho) Communism—

Preface: Anarcho-Communism and Cultivating Emotional Intelligence through a Sex-Positive Gothic Mode

"It's Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This!"—A Gothic Communist's Manifesto

  • The Gist
  • The Nation-State: Remediating Modern-day Rome and the Bourgeois Trifectas
  • An Uphill Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part one: The State's Monopoly on Violence 
  • An Uphill Battle (with the Sun in Your Eyes), part two: Challenging the State's Manufactured Consent and Stupidity 
  • Monster Modes, Totalitarianism and Opposing Forces
  • Manifesto Postscript: "Healing from Rape"—Addressing "Corruption," DARVO and Police Abuse with the Pedagogy of the Oppressed


About the Author

Volume One: Gothic (Gay-Anarcho) Communism
(exhibit 6a: Artist: Persephone van der Waard. Glenn the Goblin, the mascot Gothic Communism, adorned with relative logos and expressing a popular sentiment regarding the TERF overlord, billionaire-who-chooses to act like a Nazi, J.K. Rowling. Glenn is a goblin shapeshifter I created when I was 19 and still in the closet; their body was born male, but they could change shape and chose to have the body and gender of a woman. We'll explore their history and significance deeper in the book, exhibit 94c1.)

Preface: Anarcho-Communism and Cultivating Emotional Intelligence through a Sex-Positive Gothic Mode

"You know nothing, Jon Snow." 

—Ygritte, A Storm of Swords (2000)

The author's foreword discussed Sex Positivity at large; this preface extrapolates on the anarcho-Communist devices present within its Gothic-Communist approach. To start with, this strongly dislikes pure poststructuralist/psychoanalytical models (though it employs many of their ideas in Marxist ways); not only do these models tend to be dated, vaguely abstracting and sexist, but they are far more common in Gothic academia than I would like (especially in the 1970s and '80s, when second wave feminism and post-Freudian analysis were all the rage). Instead, I wrote Sex Positivity to marry Gothic/queer theory with Marxist, dialectical-material praxis, a process I have decided to call Gothic (Gay-Anarcho) Communism. While both sides will be thoroughly explained in the manifesto, let's quickly run down this book's Communist and Gothic aims to summarize what Gothic Communism is according to me and why.

The Communist aims of this book are anarcho-Communist in scope—a combination of Communism and anarchism (there are other combinations, but these are either excluded [anarcho-Capitalism] or fall under anarcho-Communism in my opinion; e.g., queer/feminist Communism). So, not only does Sex Positivity seek to abolish private property in pursuit of something beyond Capitalism; its chief desire is to end the worker exploitations that reliably happen through privatization—occurring through the nation-state as the chief monopolizer of violence in ways that neoliberal corporations spearhead as their partners-in-crime (neoliberalism being a return to the "freeing" of the market, consolidating wealth in the pockets of the bourgeoisie through state-corporate abuses of power and personal responsibility rhetoric disseminated by centrist media; neoliberals also disguise, aid and abet fascism, a concept we'll explore much more thoroughly in Volume Three). 

Everything I propose operates in service of deprivatization and dismantling the nation-state, corporations included. The vertical consolidation of materials and power in state-corporate echelons is horribly alienating and destructive—must be replaced by anarcho-syndicalist communes as horizontal arrangements thereof. It's productive, constructive and creatively sex-positive, utilizing the democratization of labor as something found and fostered among class-conscious workers, not the state (which historically privatizes labor for the elite in fundamentally undemocratic ways, including Marxist-Leninism's various missteps; i.e., a "kettling" of state powers by capitalist forces into states of paranoia and ultimately the settling of old scores).

(source: Julia Kenny's "Stalin's Cult of Personality: Its Origin and Progression," 2015)

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 as Marxist-Leninist heads of state; no neoliberal, corporate-born billionaires like Bill Gates or their establishment-politician/corporate Americanized executives quietly assisting the billionaire class as the great destroyers of the planet (these various heads of the state of affairs are synonymous with "the state/the elite" as I use those terms); no popes or cult leaders; 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/anarcho-Communist or queer 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.  As Andy Martin writes in "The Persistence of the 'Lolita Syndrome'" (2013):

'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 interview with Edmund White, whereupon he delivers a self-confessed and seemingly innocent admission to chasing of cute boys his entire academic career (echoing Cooper's twink-in-peril, but in real life):

"I wasn't always smart; I was actually very stupid in school [T]here was a boy who was very attractive who was even stupider than I was. And in order to ingratiate myself with this boy who was very beautiful, I began to do his homework for him – and that's how I became smart, I had to do all this work to just keep ahead of him a little bit, in order to help him. In a sense, all the rest of my life I've been trying to do intellectual things that would attract beautiful boys" (source). 

all seemingly innocent until you learn about his predatory sex tourism (Bad Empanada 2, 2022), desire to abolish age of consent laws in France (The Living Philosophy's "Why French Postmodernists were Pro-Paedophilia in the 1970s," 2021), and what James Miller in The Passion of Michel Foucault (1993) called an addiction to self-destruction and sadomasochist sex (the coercive sort). Likewise, Elliot Swain in 2021 remarks in utter frustration how Foucault tended to avoid Marxist language altogether. Foucault wasn't just accommodated, you see; he was enabled and desired intellectual fame similar to what Sartre achieved before him. It's gross, queer-normative, TERF levels of nasty and needs to be abolished. Good play and sex-positive BDSM is all entirely possible (and something we'll explore in Volume Three, Chapter Two and Three). However, creepy Gay Uncle Fester ain't it.

Rather, in a reconstructed, post-scarcity world, there is no systemic war and rape. To this, Gothic Communism is also not a regression back into the freed market like Gorbachev did to the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s, but instead a collective push towards universal degrowth (that means no "as good as it gets" moderates, too). Instead, this is to be an entirely different mode of undertaking development under Capitalism towards anarcho-Communism, but the basic ideas are still the same—re: Socialism's "From each according to [their] ability, to each according to [their] work" to Communism's "to each according to [their] need." Anarcho-Communism simply means class solidarity and collective action performed directly by informed, intelligent workers of various sorts, aided by bourgeois and petit-bourgeois (middle class) class allies—not by establishment politicians and state-corporate allies, whose politics/praxis are bourgeois in nature; they serve the state, not workers.

For us and Gothic Communism, worker safety is sacred and supersedes any icon who came before and iconoclasts absolutely shouldn't hesitate to tear down their harmful reputations. To give some examples:

  • Milton was patriarchal (Lapham's Quarterly's "Misspent Youth")
  • Tolkien was racist (Anderson Rearick's "Why Is the Only Good Orc a Dead Orc," 2004).
  • Marx wasn't overtly a Gothicist (certainly not by current, iconoclastic standards, anyways; he loved ghosts, but these had to be "unpacked" by people like Derrida, Castricano and other Gothic theorists whose work emerged nearly a century after Marx' death).
  • Oscar Wilde was anti-Semitic (Christopher Nassar's "The Problem of the Jewish Manager in The Picture of Dorian Gray," 2005).
  • Simone Beauvoir was not only a rapist, but cis-centric ("woman is other").
  • Pablo Picasso was a rapist and misogynist (Marta's "The Women of Picasso," 2023), as was Roman Polanski (Dreading's "The Case of Roman Polanski," 2022)
  • Lovecraft was mega-racist: "China Miéville says, 'There is nothing epiphenomenal about racism in Lovecraft.' Put differently, Lovecraft's race thinking cannot be separated from his body of work" (Brown University's "The Racial Imaginaries of H. P. Lovecraft").
  • George Orwell was anti-Communist (despite knowing virtually knowing about Russia and the USSR) and a fascist apologist (Hakim, 2023).
  • Renowned geneticist Richard Dawkins is a eugenics (Gaia Vince's "Eugenics Would Not Work in Humans," 2020), rape apologist (Melissia McEwan's "Dawkins Defends Himself with More Rape Apologia," 2013) and Islamophobe, extending his anti-intellectual, bought-and-paid for bigotry to trans people (Essence of Thought's "Richard Dawkins Promotes Creationism in Anti-Trans Crusade," 2023).
  • Bill Gates is a soulless vampire who—along with those who support his utterly draconian privatization of the computer market and gutting of public education, as well as his bogus, parasitic and thoroughly disingenuous "philanthropy" (source: Another Slice's "Bill Gates: King Of Neoliberalism," 2020)has ties to child sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein (Behind the Bastards' "Part One: The Ballad of Bill Gates," 2023). Billionaires not only personify the elite; they're scourge on the planet and should not exist—i.e., they're not useful, they're lying parasites begot from the second Gilded Age courtesy of neoliberal hegemony and systemic lies, surveillance, privatization, and genocide dressed up as the banality of evil. Fuck the lot of 'em.
  • Noam Chomsky had ties to then-outed pedophile and sex trafficker, Jeffery Epstein ("Epstein's Private Calendar Reveals Prominent Names," 2023).

We not only have to be better than the West; we have to be better than all these persons and avoid what my friend Sandy Norton lovingly calls the "Imperialism of Theory" (coined when she was sparring with a fellow academic about William Makepeace Thackeray's 1848 novel, Vanity Fair):

'At its best, theory offers us models that encourage speculative thinking. Many critics assume, however, that the application of theoretical discourses to literature necessarily entails a particular, and limited, set of interpretive practices: reference to a theorist's ideas, for instance, may too easily be taken to mean that a critic subscribes to all the tenets of that theorist's position as well as to those of the better-known practitioners of the theory. This constraining movement unnecessarily forecloses speculative thought and seeks, in a way that mirrors imperialist discourses, to conserve the authority and power of those who have accumulated intellectual and academic capital through association with a theory.

This sort of theoretical imperialism is also methodological: the repeated application of a theory in a particular way quickly comes to constitute an authority which dictates that it should only be applied in that way. Although he may not do so intentionally, Perkin employs theory as a constraining force when he takes me to task for using Foucault's work but failing to adopt a strictly New Historicist methodology: "Foucault leads one to New Historicism, which requires that one read a text as part of a world of discourses, whereas Norton's article is really a close reading of some strands of a single text" (165; my emphasis). The semantic slippage in this sentence is telling, I think. It is, on an overt level, "New Historicism" or presumably its practitioners that "require" the use of this method. But because "Foucault leads one to New Historicism," the implication of the sentence is that Foucauldian theory itself "require[s]" this method. This I would deny. Although his work provides a model for some of the methods of New Historicism, neither Foucault nor any New Historicist would claim that his work which is used across a broad range of disciplines may only be appropriately applied using those methods.

I do not believe that I am required to demonstrate "a need to invoke Foucault" (and the diction here is interesting precisely why does Perkin use the word "invoke"?). Like Marx or Freud, Foucault is himself an example of what he calls in the essay, "What Is an Author?," "founders of discursivity," figures who have "established an endless possibility of discourse" (154). "To expand a type of discursivity," he proposes, is precisely "to open it up to a certain number of possible applications" (156). Rather than "needing to invoke" Foucault, I choose to apply Foucault because of the speculative richness such application offers' (source: "The Imperialism of Theory: A Response to J. Russell Perkin," 1994)

Simply put, we need to be choosy in ways that enrich our arguments, not simply dot them with the fancy patriarchal ornaments of accommodated intellectuals. Meanwhile, the combined, "sacred" memory of powerful men, women and token minorities needs to be expunged* and criticized, preserving the exhibits of what was while utilizing what is useful towards development towards a better world than has ever existed; i.e., to be indebted, but not enslaved towards these borrowed concepts' flexible application well beyond their original, intended prescriptions. Time is also of the essence; we need to critique power dialectically-materially yesterday and now in Gothic language that the vast majority of workers actively recognize and consume voraciously—monsters, but also sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, etc. Never trust a skinny chef, my dudes; also, never trust a rapist chef (as we'll explore during the roadmap, rape is more than physical/sexual violence; it's the flagrant abuse of power that leads to worker exploitation on physical, sexual and emotional levels over time: the mind as something to rape according to positions within Capitalism).

*When I tried doing this with Lovecraft ("Method in His Madness: Lovecraft, the Rock and Roll Iconoclast and Buoyant Lead Balloon," 2017), renowned Lovecraft scholar T.S. Joshi had a fit/refused to publish my work in his annual Lovecraft journal. Joshi seemed to dislike the mere suggestion that Lovecraft wasn't somehow perfect as is—conveniently equipped to do what he did (according to Joshi) for his target audience, and that we pesky kids of today are just ignorant of his sublime genius. Puh-lease! If Lovecraft was perfect, you wouldn't have New Weird/Next Weird authors like Thomas Ligotti, Jeff Vandermeer and China Miéville; producers like Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions and Lovecraft Country (2020); or developers like Red Hook Studios chewing Lovecraft up and routinely spitting out his racist, useless bones. Take what's useful and leave the rest (without forgetting it).

Our Gothic-Communist emphasis, then, is the class solidarity and collective action of Gothicized sex work in particular, with its monstrous artistic output as proletarian praxis operating in internalized, class-conscious, xenophilic opposition to bourgeois praxis and state propaganda's heteronormative canon—i.e., to "rewire" a fundamentally bourgeois Superstructure through synthesized transmutation of said canon, affecting the Base (redistribution) as time goes on. The Base and Superstructure are taken from Marx's own work. However, the Superstructure interests us, because—as stated during the glossary—it normally "grows out of the Base and reflects the ruling class' interests. As such, the Superstructure justifies how the Base operates and defends the power of the elite." As sex-positive workers, we obviously want to change that by transforming the state, attacking its sex-coercive canon and xenophobia directly through our own sex-positive, iconoclastic poiesis—to liberate ourselves through a proletarian Gothic imagination that is anarcho-Communist, not Marxist-Leninist. Though proletarian, Sex Positivity comes out of an abject past fraught with compromise, the "state Socialism" of Marxist-Leninism becoming increasingly nominal (and abusive) under Capitalism; obviously we want to avoid that as much as we can while developing Communism outside of establishment politics.

(original artist: William Kurelek)

We'll revisit executing proletarian praxis more completely in Volume Three (first adumbrating it in Volume Two). For Volume One, just understand that that my manifesto tenets, Gothic academic theories, mode of expression and oppositional praxis model (explained in that order) are all designed to function through Gothic-Communist iconoclasts re-cultivating a bourgeois Superstructure, which is what synthesis is: thesis vs antithesis, but also canon vs iconoclasm—i.e., iconoclastic poiesis as a dark poetics/pedagogy of the oppressed intended to make workers more emotionally/Gothically intelligent, sex-positive and capable in terms of recognizing, negotiating and instructing good play vs bad play* during their own lives. This includes their own creative output, which helps prevent future abuses by changing the material conditions that lead to power imbalances to begin with; i.e., by telling beautiful lies that speak truth to power in "Satanic**" ways, but also active and unified against the state-corporate alliances/proponents (and monstrous, fetishized media, often with pornographic qualities) abusing all workers. However, oppositional praxis during development reliably leads to liminal conflict and transition—especially in Gothic stories when oscillation is expected. Part of the cliché is how a monster or parallel space's praxial role in Gothic fiction becomes ontologically ambiguous during oppositional praxis. Class allies/traitors and bourgeois/proletarian monsters, witches, zombies, etc—as Gothic-Communists, we'll have to learn to tell 'em all apart, from moment to living moment. A common introduction to doing so is through historical-materialism—i.e., the dialectical-material study of monsters across the Gothic mode over space and time. 

*As mentioned during the glossary and thesis volume, terms like rape culture, xenophobic, "prison sex," and bad play synonymize according to which "parent dichotomy" they belong, thus can be used somewhat interchangeably when explaining oppositional praxis; I won't always try to distinguish them, hoping their shared connection can be intuitively understood relative to canon or iconoclasm. "Xenophilic," for example, is iconoclastic—a form of gender parody that occurs during good play that counteracts gender trouble in stereotypically Gothic situations: the liminal expression of monster-fucking from which liminal perspectives process power and resistance, but also where ignorance (material advantage/privilege) and experience (trauma/paucity) are expressed within rememory as a spectre of Marx—i.e., an imperfect yet heavily codified linguo-material proposition that challenges the spectre of the status quo as haunted by the Numinous, pre-fascist might of systemic brutality (which continues unabated in the present). As we shall see in Volume Two for example, both white, cis-het women (Ann Radcliffe) and gay men (Matthew Lewis) can write about monsters and sexual abuse, but their view of the familiar and foreign and what they identify with and reject (xenophilia and xenophobia) will ultimately differ despite sharing highly similar-appearing textual and thematic devices; e.g., the shared aesthetics of damsels, detectives and demons. Furthermore, as time has gone on, further deviation towards Communism is required by making monsters class conscious, but also effective disguises that—rather than completely closet us—blur the line between victim and dissident, rebel and entertainer to protect us while we teach emotional and Gothic intelligence to workers of all ages.

**Something to keep in mind (and which we'll return to in Volume Two when we discuss the Promethean Quest) is that the Satanic rebel speaks truth to power by telling beautiful lies that resist state control; re: to be "of the devil's party" like Milton was (according to William Blake) but consciously so (exhibit 1a1a1g); i.e., conducting what the elite would consider thought crimes through dark poetics that are often more interesting [and fun/gender parodic] than blindly submitting to pre-existing authorities. For example, Gothic "archaeologies"/elaborate strategies of misdirection teach workers how to self-fashion and self-determine through subversive/dissident identities that, far from being controlled opposition, furtively educate audiences on how to question authority whilst forming out of oppressive, gender-troubled struggles against them.

Apart from Volume One, whose full manifesto responds to my book's central thesis on sex-positive, social-sexual activism, Volume Two acts a kind of "prelude" to Volume Three, providing a "Humanities primer" that adjusts you to a more open-minded way of thinking useful to our thesis statement. It does so through numerous "monster art" exhibits that show how to think openly during oppositional praxis, using specific terms, theories, and formatting devices which apply to various topics introduced later in the book when proletarian praxis is articulated chapter-by-chapter (and art exhibits are somewhat less frequent, at least in the first edition). However, as any artistic exhibit is idiosyncratic, this book is indulgently "me" to make that point abundantly clear. This includes iconoclastic porn as something that I've often explored and cultivated in my own body of work—with me actually preferring to cultivate erotic, sex-positive art displays during my own creations. As I write in "My Art Website is Now Live" (2020):

'In my work, I don't like to treat sex separate from everyday life. Instead, I emphasize sexuality and intimacy as being part of the same experience. Not only do you have the intense, raw close-ups during sex one might encounter in a VHS porno; there's also the tender, little details: the smiles, excitement, and other factors that make up everyday sex for people in relationships. I try to communicate all of this in a fantasy or sci-fi setting populated by my favorite videogame characters. It might be a regression of the quotidian into the Romantic, but being a Gothicist I'm not against liminal forms of expression. My work is erotic, forming a balance of the raunchy and tender inside a videogame milieu. These characters aren't fighting dragons; they're having sex, but there's so many different ways this can go about, and I have my own special blend I like to try and capture in my art' (source). 

In other words, my creations invite you imagine ordinary behaviors from extraordinary people—e.g., exhibit 93: Imagine, as I would, that Link and Nabooru save Hyrule, then talk about laundry and what's for dinner while having sex in a half-real, incredibly playful scenario. The playfulness is the context, subverting what's expected in favor of delineating away from traditional heroic activities (such as genocide).

Likewise, if you are unfamiliar with the Gothic, ludic/queer theory and/or Marxist thought (and the terms in the companion glossary), chances are the rest of this book will be incredibly alien and confusing to you; all are either lost and forgotten concepts in relation to Capitalism, reduced by Capitalism to pulpy canon this book does nothing but dissect, or swim around in the grey areas of (which Capitalism and its heteronormative colonial binary discourage). For first-time readers, then,  this really book is meant to be read in order. Start with the thesis statement (and companion sections/glossary) and familiarizing yourself with the full manifesto's iconoclastic ideas, visual aids and various guides, signposts and roadmaps (and the camp map from the thesis statement). Then, once you comprehensively understand what Gothic (gay-anarcho) Communism is, move onto Volume Two, which explores the historical development of the Gothic imagination and its past—of flawed, conflicting poetic expression as something to learn from moving forward. From there, Volume Three outlines the goals and objectives of Gothic Communism as a means of attacking Capitalism and its ideologies directly through solidarized worker poiesis. The terms contained inside the manifesto are central to the entire book's thesis, so I have defined them inside it instead of the previous, separate companion glossary of generalized terms.

The goal of Volume One is to outline a general teaching method that explains complex things in commonplace ways, which Volume Two expands on through the poetic history of monsters as a dehumanizing tool that must be reclaimed. Everything tied to proletarian praxis being re-summarized after the introduction in Volume Three: in the Summation section before Chapter One of that volume. You will need what this manifesto contains when you read the roadmap; you will need what both contain when you read the primer from Volume Two; and you will need the introduction, summation and Chapter One from Volume Three when you Chapters Two through Five of that volume, etc. Last but not least, familiarize yourself with my "artistic exhibit style." First shown in exhibits 1a, 1b, and 1c during the foreword, it is utilized throughout entire the book in nearly 200 similar exhibits covering a broad range of artistic subjects (and monsters).

"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)

Dearest Reader,

This is our revolution's manifesto. It's
 a bit more academically formalized than the rest of the book. It also contains the individual lists of interrelated things you will need before you navigate this book and encounter all of them in various forms. Learn them well, but take your time. Rome wasn't transformatively Sodomized in a day.


—Your "Commie Mommy," Persephone

P.S., The manifesto is divided into several different sections. "The Gist" outlines the entire manifesto; "The Nation-State" and "An Uphill Battle" part one and part two outline the many pressures and forces existing during the struggle to synthesize praxis and unify workers; "Monster Modes, Totalitarianism and Opposing Forces" goes over oppositional praxis in depth (and outlines menticide, which the roadmap explores more thoroughly); and the manifesto post-script addresses police "corruption," DARVO and general abuse with the pedagogy of the oppressed as a means of preventing trauma, but also healing from it by listening to those already traumatized on a daily basis: sex workers/workers sexualized by capital.

The Gist

"But Louis B. Meyer wouldn't be Goebbels' proper opposite number. I believe Goebbels sees himself as David O. Selznick."

"...Brief him!"

—Lt. Archie Hicox and Winston Churchill, Inglourious Basterds (2009)

For centuries, Gothic stories (and older, dated psychoanalytical models in Gothic academia) 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/parallel space, 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 Gothic poetics as something to understand in Volume Two, then apply through our own work in Volume Three when we "play god" and self-fashion/-determine in Gothic-Communist terms. Understanding poiesis, pre-application, will be covered at length in the Humanities primer (even so, remember that Gothic poetics and "playing god" are functionally synonymous with oppositional praxis, including iconoclasm vs 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 not just as workers, but de facto sex-gender educators teaching good-play BDSM in sex-positive art. 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 our manifesto tree from my thesis statement; i.e., an assortment of goals, academic theories, mode of expression (monsters, hermeneutics, phobias) and praxial effects, whose lists I will now give in the order I have chosen (the exact order I have them in doesn't really matter. None should be neglected, as all are integral to achieving Gothic Communism): 

  • the Six Gothic-Marxist Goals of Gothic Communism (the Six Rs)
  • the Four Gothic Academic Theories (the Four Gs)
  • monsters*
  • lairs/parallel space*
  • the Hermeneutic Gothic-Communist Quadfecta* (gothic, game, queer and Marxist theory)
  • phobias*
  • the Six Doubles of Creative/Oppositional Praxis

*the Gothic mode of expression (its means and materials and methods of study)

Of the Six Doubles, these divide into two lists of three: the "Three Canonical Doubles" of Capitalism and bourgeois praxis versus the "Three Iconoclastic Doubles" of Gothic Communism of proletariat praxis (all shown in descending order):

  • sex coercion vs sex positivity
  • carcerality vs emancipation
  • complicity vs revolution

and their various synthetic oppositional groupings

  • destructive vs constructive anger
  • destabilizing vs stabilizing gossip (and abuse encouragement/prevention patterns)
  • "blind" vs "perceptive" pastiche (class blindness versus consciousness)
  • unironic vs ironic gender trouble/parody (canon vs camp)
  • bad-faith vs good-faith egregores

and canonical reactionary behaviors to camped canon

  • open aggression
  • condescension
  • reactionary indignation

I'll get to these in turn, starting with the top of the first list and steadily and working my way to the bottom of the second list across this manifesto's six sections. This means we won't cover the Six Doubles until nearly the end of the manifesto (going over the synthetic oppositional groups during the synthesis roadmap [in connection to its companion piece, the "camp map," exhibit 1a1a1i] and in Volume Three, Chapter Five). For now, just remember that sex positivity and sex coercion are the intuitive doubles that express things most often in a binarized, dialectical-material way (they're literally the title of the book); we'll get to the others soon enough and refer to all of them throughout the rest of this book.

So, now that we have our big lists, keep 'em handy and I'll walk you through them one at a time, doing my best to connect them with explanations in between.

As stated during the preface, this manifesto is more academically granular in its flavor and structure than most of the book, if only so I'm clear and comprehensive in my overall thesis. After this, though, I swear things loosen up a bit (except for the sample essay, which chucks you into the deep end head-first). For example, the word "mode of expression" tends to get used interchangeably or implied with "language" or "materials" or "monsters," etc, throughout the book. Likewise, while the word "praxis" is common but has many synonyms/adjectives (creative, oppositional, bourgeois, proletarian), I also don't see the need to exclusively call something praxis, since both volumes are about praxis and something being praxis is why I'm mentioning it to begin with. This being said, despite covering sexual expression and working with sex workers, this book isn't really structured around giving "dating advice" (though it does include many bits and personal anecdotes scattered throughout); it's a labor guide that teaches workers not to be a dicks to their friends, who they might be able to sleep with if everyone's DTF (down to fuck). However, if you wanted to apply its concepts in your own sex life, I can assure you, these are tried and true methods. Trust me, I learned from the nymphs! —Perse

(source: "Be Not Afraid!" 2010)

Gothic Communism actually comes from dialectical behavioral therapy models introduced to me by a former friend (who I'll called Cuwu; more on them in a bit). DBT is designed specifically to prevent self-destructive behavior at a societal level; Gothic Communism as I've conceived it applies this to sex workers, preventing destructive behaviors against them from other workers who are loyal to the state. It achieves this by combining dialectical-material analysis of Gothic stories with four Gothic literary theories (the Gothic being largely concerned with sex in popular monstrous media) to achieve a Gothic hybrid of traditionally Marxist goals—all in service of furthering sex positivity (one of the doubles of oppositional praxis—we'll get to the others) through well-educated, emotionally and Gothically intelligent sex workers who can "live deliciously." No Promethean junk food for us! Only the best, but we must learn to make things taste delicious again while subsisting on canonical, plastic garbage that we dialectically-materially scrutinize.

In the thesis statement, we provided abridged definitions of these tenets, whose (quoted from our thesis)

collective idea is to make Marxism a little cooler, sexier and fun than Marx ever could through the Wisdom of the Ancients as a "living document"; i.e., to make it "succulent" by "living deliciously" as an act of repeated reflection that challenges heteronormativity's dimorphic biological essentialism and bondage of gender to sex, thus leading to a class awakening at a countercultural level through iconoclastic (sex-positive) Gothic poetics.

I now want to provide their full descriptions. The full "succulent" (re: sexier and funnier than Marx; camping his ghost through our Wisdom of the Ancients) six goals/Gothic-Marxist tenets of Gothic Communism, then, are as follows: 

  • Re-claim. Seize Gothic art as the means of emotional (monstrous) production, tied to cultural symbols of stigma and fear that abject workers or otherwise emotionally manipulate them to surrender the means of production—their labor, their intelligence and control—unto canonical productions that normally make workers ignorant towards the means of reclaiming these things: the ability to produce, appreciate and cultivate a pro-labor, post-scarcity Gothic imagination, including undead and demonic egregores in service of Gothic Communism (whose history we'll unpack during the primer); i.e., our own voices, dark poetics, pedagogy of the oppressed, status as splendide mendax, etc.
  • Re-union/-discover/-turn. Reunite people with their alienated, alienizing bodies, language, labor, sexualities, genders, pasts and emotions in sex-positive, re-humanizing (xenophilic) ways; an active attempt to detect and marry oneself to what was lost at the emotional, Gothic, linguistic and materially intelligent level: a return of the living dead and the creation/summoning of demons. This poetic coalition should operate as a sex-positive force that speaks to Cartesian division, xenophobia and state abuse, while advancing workers towards the development of Gothic-Communism. 
  • Re-empower/-negotiate. Grant workers control over their own sexual labor through their emotions and, by extension things (most often language, symbols or art) that stem from, and relate to, their sexual labor as historically abjected and privatizing under Capitalism; to allow them to renegotiate their boundaries through their sexual labor as their own, including their bodies and emotions as a potent form of re-negotiation and power re-exchange amid chaotic and unequal circumstances (worker-positive BDSM and Satanic rebellion, in other words) that fight for conditional love and informed, set boundaries during social-sexual exchanges: the "good play" of conditional offers and mutually agreed-upon deals—not unconditional, coercive love compelled by pro-state abusers; i.e., "bad play" and "prison sex" within rape culture. This doesn't just apply to getting into schools like MMU (where I had to make conditional/unconditional offers set by the [money-making] university—linked arm-in-arm with financial [money-lending] institutions exiting as a part of the same student-exploiting business); it applies to our own lives as sexualized workers, synthesizing our principles with those we work/set boundaries with in relation to our labor, bodies, emotional bonds, etc. Setting boundaries is important towards protecting yourself and others during activist behaviors, which automatically pose some degree of risk under capital; don't be afraid to impose them to minimize risk of abuse, even if that means "losing" someone in the process. If they're holding that over your head, they weren't really your friend to begin with.
  • Re-open/-educate. To expose the privatization of emotions and denial of sex-positive sex/gender education to individual workers, helping them reopen their minds and their eyes, thus see, understand and feel how private property makes people emotionally and Gothically stupid; re, Marx: "Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is only ours when we have it—when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed, eaten, drunk, worn, inhabited, etc—in short, when it is used by us." 
  • Re-play. Establish a new kind of game attitude and playfulness during development towards Communism, one that dismantles manufactured scarcityconsent, and conflict in favor of a post-scarcity world filled with "game" workers who can learn and respond creatively to the natural and person-made problems of language and the material world with unique solutions (including Communist videogames like Dwarf Fortress, 2006); to be willing to try negotiating for themselves; to reclaim, rediscover, relearn, but also teach lost things, make new friendly ghosts (exhibit 43c) as well as iconoclastic monsters in live and controlled settings (that express unfriendly variants that critique the status quo); to enjoy but not blindly enjoy, thus endorse cheap canonical "junk food" by re-inspecting them with a readiness to critique and revinvent; i.e., as Anita Sarkeesian explains, "It's both possible, and even necessary, to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects." The idea in doing so to understand, mid-enjoyment and critique, that development is not a zero-sum game, but as Jesper Juul puts it, re: "a half-real zone between the fiction and the rules" that allows for emergent, at times transgressive forms of good play as a transformative device (source). To borrow and mutate two more ludic terms, then, the "ludic contract" is whatever the player negotiates for themselves inside the natural-material world as a half-real, "magic circle" space where the game takes place during Gothic, liminal ways; i.e., articulating their natural rights in linguo-material ways between reality and fabrication that go beyond games as commodities but are nevertheless informed by them as something to rewrite through play: a reached agreement whose luck/odds are defined not through canon, but iconoclastic poiesis that can be expanded far beyond the restrictive, colonial binary and heteronormative ruleset of the elite's intended exploitation of workers.
  • Re-produce/-lease. To disseminate these tenets through worker-made sex-positive lessons that we leave behind; i.e., egregores, "archaeologies" and other Gothic-Communist "derelicts." As the oppressed, our pedagogy should be centered around the continued production of communal emotional intelligence as a means of transforming the material world and, by extension, the social-material-natural world for the better.
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: 
  • Abjection (from Julia Kristeva's process of abjection, vis-à-vis Jerrold Hogle's "ghost of the counterfeit"): Coined by Julia Kristeva in her 1981 book, The Powers of Horror, abjection means "to throw off." Abjection is us versus them, dividing the self into a linguistically and emotionally normal state with an "othered" half. This "other" is generally reserved for abjected material—criminal, taboo or alien concepts: good and evil, heaven and hell, nature and civilization, men and women, etc. Through Cartesian dualism—re: the rising of a dividing system of thought by René Descartes that led to settler colonialism—nation-states and corporations create states of normality (the status quo) by forcefully throwing off everything that isn't normal, isn't rational, masculine or even human, etc. Through the status quo, normal examples are defined by their alien, inhuman opposites, the latter held at a distance but frequently announced and attacked (a form of punching down); the iconoclast, often in Gothic fiction, will force a confrontation, exposing the viewer (often vicariously) to experience the same process in reverse (a form of punching up). Facing the abjected material reliably leads to a state of horror, its reversal exposing the normal as false, rotten and demonic, and the so-called "demons" or dangerous undead as victimized and human: "Who's the savage?" asks Rob Halford. "Modern man!" Descartes was certainly a massive dick, but the spawning of endless Pygmalion-generated undead and demons scarcely started and ended with him. Instead, it expanded through the ghost of the counterfeit as wedded to the process of abjection in Gothic canon; or as Dave West summarizes in "Implementation of Gothic Themes in The Gothic Ghost of the Counterfeit" (2023):

    'In [the 2012 essay] "The Gothic Ghost of the Counterfeit and the Process of Abjection," Jerrold E. Hogle argues that the eighteenth century gothic emergence from fake imitation of fake work is the foundation of what is defined as modern gothic today. He maintains that Horace Walpole's 1765 The Castle of Otranto, which is considered as the groundwork of the modern Gothic story, is built on a false proclamation that the novel was an Italian manuscript writing by a priest. […] Hogle argues that modern Gothic is grounded in fakery. [In turn,] Hogle's observation of the history of The Castle of Otranto forms the basis for understanding the concept of counterfeit as a result of the abjection process).'

    Gothic Communism, then, reverses xenophobic abjection through xenophilic subversion as a liminal form of countercultural expression. Sex work and pornography (and indeed any controlled substance—sex, drugs, rock n' roll, but also subversive oral traditional and slave narratives) operate through liminal transgression; i.e., subversive monster-fucking Amazons (exhibit 104a), werewolves (exhibit 87a) and Little Red Riding Hood (exhibit 52b) or Yeti (exhibit 48d2), etc. Reversing the process of abjection, these monstrous-feminine beings allow their performers to not only address personal traumas "on-stage," but engender systemic change in socio-material conditions; i.e., by performing their repressed inequalities during arguably surreal, but highly imaginary interpersonal exchanges that are actually fun to participate in as a process of de facto education in opposition to state fakeries (thus refusing to engender genocide within the common ground of a shared—indeed, heavily fought-over—aesthetic).
(artist: John Fox)
  • Chronotope/parallel Gothic space (from Mikhail Bakhtin's "Gothic chronotope")Mikhail Bakhtin's "time-space," outlined posthumously in The Dialogic Imagination (1981)—an architectural evocation of space and time as something whose liminal motion through describes a particular quality of history described by Bakhtin as "castle-narrative":

    Toward the end of the seventeenth century in England, a new territory for novelistic events is constituted and reinforced in the so-called 'Gothic' or 'black' novel—the castle (first used in this meaning by Horace Walpole in The Castle of Otranto, and later in Radcliffe, Monk Lewis and others). The castle is saturated through and through with a time that is historical in the narrow sense of the word, that is, the time of the historical past [...] the traces of centuries and generations are arranged in it in visible form as various parts of its architecture [...] and in particular human relationships involving dynastic primacy and the transfer of hereditary rights. [...] legends and traditions animate every corner of the castle and its environs through their constant reminders of past events. It is this quality that gives rise to the specific kind of narrative inherent in castles and that is then worked out in Gothic novels.

    For our purposes, Gothic variants and their castle-narratives have a medieval/pre-Enlightenment character that describes the historical past in a museum-like way tied to the past as fearfully reimagined—i.e., as something to recursively move through, thus try to record in some shape or form; e.g., the Neo-Gothic castle (Otranto, 1764) to the retro-future haunted house (the Nostromo from Alien, 1979) to the Metroidvania (my area of expertise). Canonical examples include various "forbidden zones," full of canonical monsters—i.e., canonical/capitalistic parallel space. Expanding on Frederic Jameson, the iconoclastic Gothic chronotope is an "archaeology of the future" that can expose how we think about the past to reshape the future towards a Utopian (Communist) outcome. Although we'll expound on this idea repeatedly in the Humanities primer in Volume Two, a common method—apart from Gothic, liminal monsters—are hauntological locations housing things the state would normally abject: the crimes of empire as buried in the rubble, but also contained inside its castle-narrative. Iconoclastic parallel spaces and their parallel society of agents, then, align against state-corporate interests and their "geometries of terror" (exhibit 64c) which, in turn, artists can illustrate in their own iconoclastic hauntologies (exhibit 64b) and castle-narratives; i.e., ironic appreciative movement through the Gothic space and its palliative Numinous sensations.

  • Hauntology (from Jacques Derrida's "spectres of Marx" and Mark Fischer's "canceled futures," vis-à-vis Jodey Castricano's cryptomimesis): A basic linguistic state between the past and the present—described by Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx (1993) as being Marxism itself. Smothered by Capitalism, Marxism is an older idea from Capitalism's past that haunts Capitalism—doing so through "ghosts" in Capitalism's language that haunt future generations under the present order of material existence. In Cryptomimesis: The Gothic and Jacques Derrida's Ghost Writing, Jodey Castricano writes how Marx, though not a Gothicist, was obsessed with the language of spectres and ghosts—less as concrete symbols sold for profit in the modern sense and more as a consequence of coerced human language expressing a return of the past and of the dead as a repressed force; she also calls this process cryptomimesis, or "writing with ghosts," as a tradition carried on by Derrida and his own desire to express haunting as a feeling experienced inside Capitalism. The concept would be articulated further by Mark Fischer as Capitalist Realism (2009)—i.e., a myopia, or total inability to imagine the future beyond past versions of the future that have become decayed, dead, and forsaken: "canceled futures" (which Stuart Mills discusses how to escape in his 2019 writeup on Fischer's hauntology of culture, Capitalism, and acid Communism, "What is Acid Communism?"). While all workers are haunted by the dead, as Marx states, this especially applies to its proponents—cops, class traitors, scapegoats, etc—as overwhelmed by a return of the dead through language in the socio-material sphere. For those less disturbed by the notion, however, this can be something to welcome and learn from—to write with; i.e., in the presence of the dead coming home as a welcome force in whatever forms they take: not just ghosts, but also vampires, zombies, or composites, the latter extending to demons as beings to summon or make; but also all of these categories being modular insofar as they allow for a hybridized expression of trauma through undead-demonic compounds. As Castricano writes of cryptomimesis in regards to ghosts, I would argue the same notion applies to all undead and to demons—i.e., writing with both as complicated theatrical expressions of the human condition under Capitalism: 'Although some critics continue to disavow the Gothic as being subliterary and appealing only to the puerile imagination—Fredric Jameson refers to the Gothic as "that boring and exhausted paradigm" [what a dork]—others, such as Anne Williams, claim that the genre not only remains very much alive but is especially vital in its evocation of the "undead," an ontologically ambiguous figure which has been the focus of so much critical attention that another critic, Slavoj Žižek felt compelled to call the return of the living dead "the fundamental fantasy of contemporary mass culture"' (source).
(artist: Zdzisław Beksiński)
  • Cryptonymy (from Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, vis-à-vis Jerold Hogle's "narrative of the crypt" and Castricano's cryptomimesis)In Cynthia Sugars' entry on "Cryptonymy" for David Punter's The Encyclopedia of the Gothic (2012), Sugars writes, "Cryptonymy, as it is used in psychoanalytic theory and adapted to Gothic Studies, refers to a term coined by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok [which] receives extended consideration in their book The Wolf Man's Magic Word: A Cryptonymy (1986)." Sugars goes on to summarize Abraham and Torok's usage, which highlights a tendency for language to hide a traumatic or unspeakable word with seemingly unrelated words, which compound under coercive, unnatural conditions (the inherent deceit of the nation-state and its violent monopolies). For Sugars and for us, Gothic studies highlight these conditions as survived by a narrative of the crypt, its outward entropy—the symptoms and wreckage—intimating a deeper etiological trauma sublimated into socially more acceptable forms (usually monsters, lairs/parallel space, phobias, etc; you can kill those. In my own work about the neoliberal Promethean Quest, "Military Optimism," I call this the "puncher's chance" afforded to pro-Capitalist soldiers and de facto killers for the state). Described by Jerrold Hogle as the only thing that survives—the narrative of the crypt is a narrative of a narrative of a narrative to a hidden curse announced by things displaced from the former cause: Gothic cryptonyms; illusions, deceptions, mirages, etc. Sugars determines, the closer one gets to the problem, the more the space itself abruptly announces a vanishing point, a procession of fragmented illusions tied to a transgenerational curse: "a place of concealment that stands on mere ashes of something not fully present," Hogle writes of Otranto (the first "gothic" castle, reassembled for Horace Walpole's 1764 "archaeology"). In regards to the mimetic quality of the crypt, this general process of cryptomimesis draws attention to a writing predicated upon encryption: the play of revelation and concealment lodged within parts of individual words tied to Gothic conventions and linguistic functions, but also patently ludic narratives that can change one's luck within a pre-conceived and enforced set of rules; i.e., rewriting our odds of survival, thus fate, inside exploitative ludic schemes by pointedly dictating material conditions that represent "luck" as a variable that the elite highly control under Capitalism (we'll unpack these during the Humanities primer). 

Unlike the Gothic mode—which tells of legendary things (undead/demonic monsters or places) with, as or within Gothic media as things to performcreate, 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, who prey on our imaginations like mind flayer vampires by pitting our fears of fascism and Communism against us in ghostly cryptomimetic forms. Fuck that. We can make our own subversive ghosts, our own parallel Superstructure kings and queens, hammers and sickles, cyberpunks and vaporwave/laborwave corporate mood (exhibit 42d1) that challenge and dissipate the skeleton king of Zombie Rome and the boogeyman tyrant of Communism (either of them evoked for the millionth time to pacify us).

(artist: Thomas Cole)

Fear not the Fall of Rome; look forward to its ideological transformation through the spectral. 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 pre-fascist (Neo-Gothic) hauntology of "Rome" as unified post-fascism—one nation, one army under "God," or some other vertical bourgeois authority (secular or religious) that endures after the "defeat of the Nazi" (the details of their death have been greatly exaggerated; Nazis were copying American fascism, which is alive and well). Nation-states normalize Imperialism, thus genocide, rape, war and worker exploitation through canonical Gothic praxis. 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. 

For our purposes, this binary is remediated within the Gothic mode to communicate Western glory as something to synthesize through pro-state propaganda as coercion personified: the fetish of war, deception, rape and death linked to the hauntology of the state apparatus as a lionized conveyor of traditional Western virtues. Within the Western hegemon, all of these virtues are unironic and coercive; their monsters and effect are seen and felt everywhere—in media but also the real world as informed by said media and vice versa (a war happens and someone makes a novel, movie or videogame game capitalize off it: Starship Troopers, Aliens, to Doom). As such, they yield a "trident" of bourgeois trifectas 
  • manufacture
  • subterfuge/deception
  • coercion
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—on war, death, rape, and lies, but also profit as fetishized expressions of authentic power. Before we proceed into canonical "Rome" and its genocidal 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 over space and time. Needless to say, the point of Gothic-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; e.g., abstract art that isn't tied to having an obvious point, purpose a monetary value/function under Capitalism. Canon, on the other hand, is 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 celebrating coercive and sex and the fetishes of the state machine. To challenge these illusions and their legitimized violence, 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 through often abstracting means—e.g., like Bill Watterson deliberately does in exhibit 6b (a far less commercially-minded but more thought-provoking man than Jim Davis, let's be frank; though, as I point out in my own writeup, Garfield is definitely Gothic):

(exhibit 6: Artist, left: Bill Watterson's 1985 Calvin and Hobbes; right: Jim Davis. I read both as a little girl and loved each for different reasons. The joke of "07/27/1978" [source: lasagnacat, 2017] 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 Communists, 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" (source), 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. As mentioned during the author's forward, 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

For our purposes, a gargoyle is a statue made to symbolize a particular value not just through fear and dogma, but propaganda. State propaganda is historically violent and continues to be, but the process of fashioning such things is not limited to their poetics; like the chain, whip, slur or fetish outfit, we can reclaim the torturous golems, vampires, and Amazons, etc, for ourselves. We'll cover these pesky gargoyles' synthetic role during the synthesis roadmap (and its complicated poetic history in Volume Two). When addressing Capitalism and its nation-state/corporate canon, we first need to recognize how both use linguo-material implements (with language being a natural feature of humans that distinguishes them socially from other species through 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 as a means of coerced reformation) 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 (Hakim's "Planning Failure," 2023), hidden fees, privatization—i.e., pay more for less quality and/or quantity and so on.
  • Manufactured consent. From Chomsky's book Manufacturing Consent, 1988—cultivates a compliant consumer base, but also workforce; cultivates confusion, ignorance. Chomsky's theory is that advertisers are beholden to their shareholders, aiming consumers towards a position of mass tolerance—tacitly accepting "negative freedom" as exclusively enjoyed by the elite exploiting them: "Boundaries for me, but not for thee." In Marxist terms, this amounts to the privatization of the media (and its associate labor) as part of the means of production.
  • Manufactured conflict/competition. Endless war and violence—e.g., the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the Jewish Question, etc; cultivates apathy and cruelty through canonical wish fulfillment: "the satisfying of unconscious desires in dreams or fantasies" with a bourgeois flavor. To this, nation pastiche and other blind forms lead to us-versus-them worker division, class sabotage and false consciousness, not collective worker action against the state.
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 until then (posturing as less radical until their true radical nature becomes normalized). 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 concealing war as a convert enterprise that as expanded exponentially since Vietnam and into the 21st century. Whereas that war failed by virtue of showing American citizens too much, war has increasingly become a fog through which those in power control the narrative by outright killing journalists, but also "failing" to report where their mercenaries operate (GDF's "How the US Military Censors Your News," 2023). In other words, neoliberal illusions involve outright skullduggery and lies to keep their hegemony intact. Much like the lords of old, they rule from the shadows, but have more material power and control than those former lords could dream of (a mythologized existence hinted at by the displace-and-dissociate stratagem of neoliberal copaganda; e.g., Lethal Weapon's [1987] "Shadow Company": "We killed everybody.").

When these tactics cannot be concealed, the name of the game is sublimation; 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; source: Xevaris, 2019)—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; or as Sean Collins tweets on January 30th, 2023: 

"The heart of AI is contempt—contempt for artists, for writers, for sex workers. The user wants to get what they get out of art/writing/porn but they can't stand feeling like they owe anyone anything for their enjoyment, so the artist/writer/sex worker has got to go," source)

The horror of the hyperreal is that there are no humans behind the generated image of a human at all; they're simply gone. The reality is more bleak, advocating for enslavement, neglect and genocide (with middle-class consumers being entirely divorced from creative labor as a process they participate in at all, let alone the fruits of their general labor) behind the image as a desert of the real where real humans are still alive, but won't be for much longer (with the elite, as usual, only caring about profit and continued hegemony—accidentally parodied by this AI "found footage": AI Lost Media's terrifying apt and absurdly hilarious "Pizza Nuggets Ad 1993," 2023). Fascists play their part by playing a dirtier version of the same game: xenophobic, cutthroat, medieval, openly rapacious, "pure" and draconian (with free pamphlets being provided to fascist newlyweds, Hitler's-Mein-Kampf-style). Both they and neoliberals play "bad games" for the bourgeoisie; so do TERFs, girls bosses, NERFs and other token offshoots whose "discipline-and-punish" forms of play really don't take geniuses to function—just fear, lies and cruelty to varying degrees that are taught through canonical propaganda and consumption. 

*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. According to Arfu, they see themselves as "free" and other workers as "paintpigs" "drawslaves," 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

(exhibit 7a: Left: Evil Lyn from He-Man: Revelations [2021] or Carmilla from Netflix's Castlevania [2017]; middle, artist: Persephone van der Waard of Autumn Ivy as Striga, ibid.; right: Autumn IvyThe Amazon is a monstrous-feminine liminal expression. In Castlevania, season three is basically pure queer bait, but had they continued with the mommy-dom setup, it's a tremendously devilish love letter to queer acts of sodomy that speak to that "freak on a leash" in all of us: "You have only to lose your chains, [unless you want a dog color for BDSM reasons]": I loved season threes sex dungeon as a place to submit to guilty pleasures [even if they are framed as inherently duplicitous; i.e., the deceptive faggot that is trotted out of and back into the closet in two seasons—real original, Netflix]. As I write in my review of Season Three [2020]: 

So much of Camilla's conquest is logistic in nature. This might sound dull, but every decision plays out through wonderful dialogue, abetted by the simple fact that each sister has a unique personality and position: the genius, warrior, analyst, and diplomat. Two of them are even lovers. Still, they talk as family members do, knowing full well what games the others get up to (or don't). Their realness comes not from a checklist of outrageous traits, but how these play out realistically inside the fairytale castle.

Smack dab in the middle is Hector, the gullible forgemaster. Once bitten, twice shy, he must be convinced to make for Camilla's army. No easy task. This falls to Lenore, the sexy diplomat. The fun lies in her attitude. She's not doing it because she's told; she's having fun, and plays her part superbly. The battle between her and Hector are generally fought with wit and words; they still hold their own against the scrappier melees had by Trevor and Sypha, or Isaac. The style of each makes it distinct, and adds to the show's overall variety.

When they first meet, Hector mistrusts Lenore, and rightly so; by comparison, Lenore is disarmingly soft—a fact she coldly reminds him of after beating him to a pulp. Her job is to make Hector (and us) forget what she is by being herself. She lies to Hector with bits of truth, giving him what he's always wanted. It speaks to her talents that she isn't wrong in this respect. Hector's second deception belies an underlying desire: to be told what to do. It's arguably why he served Dracula to begin with. Lenore simply uses it to her advantage.

This does involve a bit of sex. When Lenore uses her body to distract Hector, though, he's already bought into the scheme. But so has the audience—at least in the sense that they've been groomed for a narrative climax. Consider what's happening elsewhere: Trevor and Sypha storm the church; Isaac rides into Barad-dûr v2.0; and Alucard is molested by his new, horny friends, Taka and Tsumi. All comprise a collective build-up reaching its promised conclusion. Not all promises are kept, but herein lies a lateral pleasure, the chagrin of coitus interruptus offset by something comparably delicious to an orgasm: schadenfreude.

Making Hector the "little bitch" [the small, effeminate dog on a leash] is one way to do the Amazon. Aside from genderqueer BDSM apologia, though, the Amazon is essentially a freak-show circus act that has be appropriated in regressive, current-day forms; i.e., whose Pavlovian variant of "I am woman, hear me roar!" obeys state mandates [failure to do so during state decay leads to draconian punishment, including the euthanasia effect's" double standard: either the tomboy is shoved into a (cis-het) wedding gown and married off, or she put down for refusing to conform]. Collared by the state, the "queen bitch" war boss ultimately fetishizes the state's will, including its historical-material effects [the ubiquity, celebration and personification of war, death, lies and rape]. 

This took time. Featured bottom-left and mid-right and bottom-right are the late-1800s strongwomen, Katie Brumbach and Laverie Vallee. Similar to rock/porn stars, "stage bunnies" of the 20th/20st centuries, both women had stage names: Sandwina and Charmion. They were regarded in their time as oddities; or, as Betsy Golden Kellem writes in "The 'Trapeze Disrobing Act'" (2022):

"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" (source).

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 [Natty Life, 2023] while pointedly excluding marginalized groups from participating.
Another 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.)

(artist: Frank Frazetta)

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" (that was not a pun).

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 [exhibit 1a1a1g] 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; e.g., "What an Amazon Is, Standing in Athena's Shadow" [2017] written when I was still in the closet, followed by my subversive artwork of Amazons years later in 2022, exhibit 102a3).

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 OnlyFans 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.

(exhibit 7b: Artist: Autumn Ivy. Despite the presence of masculine strength and Autumn identifying as non-binary as a subversive gesture, there remains a thoroughly regressive, cowgirl component that leans into the raw business side of things. In other words, their brand recognition and dissemination is not nearly subversive enough; e.g., 100c2b's subversion of Shelly Bombshell as "antifash.")

Keeping "girl boss" in mind, let's move onto the third bourgeois trifecta—the coercion  trifecta (defined in the glossary):
  • gaslight
  • gatekeep
  • girl-boss
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's" self-imposed glory as inherently doomed to burn by design (the strongman's toxic stoicism a mask behind which madness historically reigns; and elsewhere, the elite under American hegemony sit far away from the flames). However, like Rome itself, even that activity of resistance by us 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 (and the world around 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 in a figurative sense; 100a4 in a more literal sense) and—as sex workers with subversive fetish props, kink and BDSM—weave our own strategies of elaborate misdirection, thread-by-thread, into the praxial fabric of "acceptable" sin, rebellion and vice, but also power, prestige and strength personified: queens of hell as something to rule over collectively by stopping Capitalism in its tracks. 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 1987 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 of my OC, Ileana [exhibit 7d], is gynodiverse in terms of her labia; indeed, I commissioned Maev for the fact that she drew diverse vaginas!)

(exhibit 7d: Top, artist: Persephone van der Waard; model: Miss Misery. Bottom-left, artist: Persephone van der Waard, of my own illustration of Ileana Sanda; bottom-right, artist: a revised, "furry" version of an old commission by a good friend. In my unfinished fantasy series, The Cat in the Adage, Ileana is Queen of the Night—a sex-positive witch queen with tremendous magic powers who fights against evil kings for the rights of all witches [the sort that patriarchal men demonize and fear—e.g., Carmilla and Striga, but also Witchtrap's 2012 "Queen of Hell" being the "queen of her kind!" opposite Helstar's rendition of Dracula/Orlock declaring, "I am the king of my kind!" in their 1989 guitar showcase, "Perseverance and Desperation"].)

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; source: "A Dead New World: Richard Matheson and the Modern Zombie," 2011).

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 Genma Himuro, 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 Genma. Unlike Jubei, Genma is a class traitor and lying sadist who only cares about gold as a means to an end: achieving his police state by becoming the legendary "Shogun of the Dark." Through endless treachery and lies, Genma recruits greedy warlords to him—the bourgeois devils Jubei warns about during their final duel. In the end, Jubei cannot kill Genma, so he buries him alive—trapping Genma 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 hauntological perpetuity by promoting fascist palingenesis to essentialize sexual-gender dimorphism; i.e., through forceful, toxic compulsion, often physically but certainly mentally as well. 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, thick makeup* 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.

*Historically battered housewives would have been expected to wear makeup, but also adopt body language and facial expressions—to cover up their wounds, but also tired eyes from lack of sleep/substance abuse from having to live under an oppressive husband's roof; i.e., the keeping up of appearances for the husband's sake, including playing dumb as a survival mechanism (a blinder as well as camouflage/a mask). They also would have been expected not to labor for themselves, but to adopt what Austen's Mr. Darcy smugly would call "female accomplishments" in Pride and Prejudice (1813): sewing, drawing, piano-playing, sitting down and looking pretty (and being quiet), etc.

(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 [1605]. 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 (Second Thought's "How Capitalism Exploits Natural Disasters," 2022), FEDRA from The Last of Us (the 2023 version, which we will return to throughout this book) being an eco-fascist 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 (Bad Empanada's "Johnny Harris: Shameless Propagandist Debunked," 2023) 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: Judgement Day (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 regressively seeking material advantage by adopting or submitting to femme, vulnerable performances (the damsel or the princess) and the male, "protector" side chasing possessive, courtly love—homosocial tourneys had by knights, cowboys, et al dueling in jousting fashion, with kids (and wives) being caught in the middle (often incestuously abused by their fathers/male role models as false knights, fathers, protectors, friends, etc). 

Fantasy stories more broadly consider the normalization of class immobility as something to endorse or undo—e.g., the moderate stance that changing one's material conditions is otherworldly and Quixotic (the hidden princess trope by surviving the Gothic castle, or marrying up in a novel-of-manners; the pirate or dwarf searching for stolen gold, or otherwise attaining wealth through conquest); our critiques lie not in discouraging a change in material conditions through subverted fantasy stories (which we very much want to accomplish as Gothic Communists), but in criticizing the inherent, systemic violence in reactionary and moderate examples. So whether good or bad in centrist stories, then, 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 Gwen Pearson's "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" (source).

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 according to Ashley Nellis' "The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons" (2021); e.g., the drug war continued by Richard Nixon from those who came before him and their wars against the Imperial state of exception (the Opium Wars, for example; source: Extra History, 2016). As John Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, declared in 1994:

"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 9a: Frazetta's "Castle of Sin" [1986]. 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 [the unironically fetishized executioner of the state, his abuses and deathly persona emulated by state police acting the good cop, bad cop, but also "white knight, black knight" against their own citizens]! 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 dead-set within pulp fictions that constantly obsess about a return of calamity as something to counter by heroic, hypermasculine/Cartesian forces [the brains and the brawn]. 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 (nor tokenism through the existence of TERFs acting like cis-het white men, internalizing their bigotry as self-hating dykes, unicorns and tomboys: the monstrous-feminine as something to imprison and abuse even when no threat is posed or conveyed—e.g., twinks). Erstwhile, the legends themselves become conspicuously homosocial—at times homosexual, even pedophilically homosexual (a knight's squire, exhibit 92b; rape culture as something to subvert but also endorse, including by the LGBA, exhibit 100c2c). 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"/Man Box mentalities where cis-het men tend to masturbate to penises more than anything else (with rape culture and "prison sex" from the glossary being terms we'll use frequently when critiquing learned power abuses taught by state-corporate propaganda and power relations; again, "prison sex" is synonymous with Man Box). 

(exhibit 9b1: Artist: Xuu. Gynodiversity includes gynodimorphism, which uses anthropomorphic biology to divorce human gender roles from human bodies; i.e., to treat human genitals, gender and sexuality as highly malleable and xenophilic. We'll examine anthropomorphism [and its drug-like, animalized/Giger-esque chimeras; i.e., monomorphism; e.g., phallic women/Archaic Mothers, exhibit 1a1c] much more in Volume Two.)

In heteronormative language, women exist purely to please men; indeed, sexist men "need" women to prove themselves, specifically their manhoods, by having PIV sex. They hate and desire women in this respect, seeing the answer "no" as standing in their way to individuation and success. To overcome their childish and unnecessary fears of dying a virgin, the pussy becomes something for men to slay according to a mythic structure, not identify with (and whose trauma often involves women—used to treating sex as an unpleasant task versus a joyful activity—cathartically seeking pain to adjust to the fact that they were once denied control by an abusive partner or false protector. But pain unto itself can also be immensely pleasure, and the ritualized aesthetics of giving and deceiving pain as profoundly badass/awesome is ubiquitous in Western culture: the sadist, the masochist, as Gothic—below). In their eyes, the woman is a caretaker and soundboard, but also a means to an end: social climbing and homosocial clout. The premeditation of female ownership/enslavement becomes less a way of cheating at the game and more men playing the game of Capitalism as expected. Consequently, female pleasure, agency and intelligence are mythologized/demonized—relegated to the lands of make-believe and stigma-animalized, "furry" bodies" (exhibit 9b, above) but also advertised everywhere as ridiculous (re: hysteria/the wandering womb and the creation of sexual difference). Medusa's phallic pleasure becomes death-on-sight, and Amazons having sex for their own reasons amounts to death by Snu Snu(!). This effects not just the practitioners, but their bodies, in the eyes of xenophobic men; unlike their xenophilic counterparts, they consider abnormal bodies abominable (but often chaser them) and normal bodies to be a source of shame outside of highly specific circumstances: the penis is like a bad joke, a game of Russian roulette.

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 3b). 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—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." The violence extends to women in heteronormative Gothic stories. In Jane Eyre, the actual demon lover is "tamed," not humanized (Mr. Rochester); meanwhile, the system that demonizes queer people keeps on conflating them and free love/polyamorous as "rapacious" outsiders who, like Anne Causeway, must die for Jane Eyre to achieve her equality of convenience (thus bigoted influence over others).

*Especially "atypical," non-heteronormative vaginas; i.e., external female genitalia. This study—"The Classification of the Anatomical Variation in Female External Genitalia" (2023)—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; and androdiversity and gender-non-conformance, exhibit 91b2. By comparison, heteronormativity depicts the "proper" vagina as small, dainty and unformed—infantilized, but also owned, dominated by men; or policed according to its proper roles of PIV, heteronormative sex by men, or Amazonian women like Ellen Ripley who serve the status quo by turning their female rage against queer scapegoats (exhibit 30a).

(exhibit 9b2: Artist: UrEvilMommy. The aesthetics of pleasure and pain [which can be pleasurable]—but also good and evil, freedom and bondage—often elide in Gothic media as fetishizing the woman in black for cross purposes; i.e., a "killer rabbit" [exhibit 100a5] phenomenon that predates Sontag's dissection of the Hugo Boss uniform but extends beyond it into sex-coercive and sex-positive discourse. Indeed, Sontag's famous regression to pre-fascist times conspicuously intimate an unstable presence of danger and vulnerability within the recipient of abuse as reverential towards unironic, compelled flagellation. The outfit codifies the exchange of power and resistance and subsequent sensations as ambiguous, thus oft-misunderstood.
Instead, unequal power exchange is worshipped for its "unfair" arrangement in nostalgic language that simultaneously subverts or plays with historically incongruent ideas of mutual/informed consent; i.e., performative irony during Gothic counterculture art. Said variants look nigh-identical to unironic, coercive [demon/undead] BDSM but the contract is respected in ways that provide for the historically abused party. She becomes worshipped in her totality as a survivor of immense trauma whose plurality denotes tantalizing attractions to pleasurable pain as a forbidden outlet. Difference denotes curiosity towards the "mother" persona [which historically would be synonymous to some extend with the daughter archetype—i.e., the incest trope; below] as something to not exclusively destroy or dominate by men, but rather a force to reckoned with and enjoyed precisely because she turns the tables on the expected dominators. The fragmented, uncertain attraction denotes an arrangement that becomes highly sought after, the dark kitten/queen expertly demanding powerful men to surrender their power [and their wealth] to her [symbolizing a pleasurable relinquishing of responsibility through fiscal means].
In some shape or form, Gothic bewitchment affords serious, complicated nuance and degrees of torture as negotiate and unnegotiated [the thrill of "danger" vs actual danger as being up-for-grabs]. For one, it sits within a reverse charm offensive against the usual suspects; i.e., in that liminal space between free and imprisoned that historically-materially would have been enforced by structures of power that tired both parties, yet made the dom older than the sub. The schoolmaster, priest, general, executive or naval officer, or fast food manager—Capitalism and its precursors would and continue to organize the division of labor in arrangements that force both sides to look but not touch, while also alienating them from their own bodies; i.e., being "hot for teacher." Meanwhile, when abuses did occur, it was always her word against his, because outside of trophies, who takes pictures of their own crimes? Moreover, abuse victims are often drawn to trauma as a paradoxical means of catharsis. A reversal of the trauma interrogation for posterity, then, outs the would-be abuser as "cucked" by the femdom as pinning him to the bed [if the trauma is severe enough, the eliding of not just pleasure and pain, but consent and non-consent, become permanently confused inside the victim's mind—an etiology that lurks within American advertising and romance literature; e.g., criminal hauntology and the rockstar serial killer]. This is, on its face, an extraordinary power play couched within the Gothic charm school, but it still exists with the devil's courtship as a material reality. The difference is, the bargainer states, "show me the money" while holding the devil at arm's length: "You can hae your silken goon…")

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 men by teaching them to hate what they simultaneously fear/want: women (or beings treated as women, in the case of chasers). 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 that conveniently fear everything (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:
  • 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.
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 (Bad Empanada, 2022). 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 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 according to Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review's "Dump the 'Dimorphism': Comprehensive Synthesis of Human Brain Studies Reveals Few Male-Female Differences Beyond Size" (2021). 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)!

(exhibit 10a: Artist, left: Edmund Leighton; right: various ensemble casts for live performances of Rocky Horror.)

Capitalism and Cartesian dualism promote European beauty standards, genders and sexuality but also abjects anything that isn't these things. Non-European includes anything that isn't an hourglass figure, skinny and/or pale-skinned (exhibit 10b1); non-missionary*, thus "incorrect" sexual positions (e.g., doggy, islander, or anything out of the Karma Sutra, etc, as ways that "uncivilized" people have sex); 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.

*Missionary, doggy and cowgirl are common for several reasons. Apart from colonial enforcement and resistance, they're easy to perform and hypercanonical, thus ubiquitous within paratextual "instruction" documents. There's nothing wrong with having sex in these positions unto itself any more than having standard/non-standard bodies or genders; the issue is prescription through a settler-colonial binary that leads to genocide on every possible register/format.

For BBCs, marginally larger cock sizes for people of color, who—despite also being more prone to having smaller cock sizes than white people, according to urologist James Elist—are pointedly associated with raping white women (exhibit 32). Popularized by American 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 injection of the medieval imagination with deromanticized sex and frank depictions of rape; e.g., his twink-turned-twunk, Satin, from A Storm of Swords (2000):

"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 (The Majority Report's "Ben Shapiro HUMILIATED By College Student During Debate," 2022), ol' Ben trusting his own wife (apparently a doctor according to this very creepy 2023 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 that seek out the coerced pleasure of white women like killer infants. This infantilizing process—historically linked to slave rebellions as things to fear and put down with extreme prejudice (re: Howard Zinn, but also In Range TV noting that "power aggregates" against potential/actual revolt** in Atun Shei film's "Fighting for Freedom: The Weapons and Strategies of the 1811 Slave Revolt," 2021; timestamp: 20:55)—is essentially a more extreme, Americanized version of the Gothic villain as a vessel for dark energies and foreboding gut emotions; e.g. Ann Radcliffe's Father Schedoni—the titular, severe and hulking "Italian" (1796) and his knife dick already being an Orientalist, xenophobic 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's concept of assigning "bad vibes" (the zombie-like 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, Holocaust Encyclopedia in 2022 explains how 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).

(artist: Justin Gerard)

**Altogether the aggregation of power happens between the private interests of the ruling elite and the government acting in concert, the exact ways this unfolded in laissez-faire versus the World Wars versus Embedded Liberalism of the Bretton Woods system or the rise of neoliberalism in the 1979 is largely differentiated by the means of the elite's ability to crackdown against rebelling parties. In the mid-20th century onwards, a popular method of quelling potential rebellion is simply the CIA (secret agents), strategic bombing (a misleading term used to disguise the escalation and quantity of dropped ordinance) and trade sanctions, aka "soft power" (a misleading term as soft power and economic might historically fares better against hard power/total war than the other way around, but until recently couldn't really be waged the way the US does it through global US hegemony). In other words, the recipient of this shared animosity is common enemy to the elite and de facto fascist vigilantes defending capital: revolting slaves, but also workers in general according to Communist's Marxist-Leninist but also anarcho-Communist elements echoed through the post-1960s civil rights movements of women and non-whites, but also the LGBTQ and religious minorities. Tolkien, for example, framed the dialectical-material arrangement of what was WW1 and quickly became WW2 as the goblins [an anti-Semitic symbol merged with the fascists, dubiously conflating the two] vs Everyone One in his famous Battle of the Five Armors [above] whereas Cameron depicted the barbarian horde as xenomorphic "space bugs," vis-à-vis Starship Troopers [the Simpsons joked, "I'm under attack by Nazi-Communists!" but it encapsulates American centrism and babyface dialog quite well: the fight is always an exchange between kings or the unruly mob turned undead/demonic]. The code for military industry and propaganda becomes ludic, neat and lucrative, but also sacred; those who challenge it will be gatekept and kettled until they change they tune.

***For a ludic example of gradient xenophobia in relation to zombies, consider the excellent (and lengthy) "A Thorough Look At Resident Evil" (2022) 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, geopolitical 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 10b1: Top-right: the Venus of Willendorf; mid-right: Braindedzom; bottom-right: Mog, the Final Fantasy XIII-2 version; everything else, artist: bathmankPeople 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 to appear more civilized, more white despite her irreversible skin colorwhat F.D. Signifier on YouTube calls "Black Capitalism," 2023.)

(exhibit 10b2: Artist, top: Jarnqk; bottom: The Happiest Cloud. Genital shaming/parody is often an expression of gender euphoria and -affirming care within the trans community. This extends neatly to the shapeshifting nature of animalistic/totemic demons, whose size differences involve their whole bodies. We'll examine this concept much more in Volume Two. For now, consider the idea of size difference as alluded to in relation to power and sexuality in Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland, 1865.)

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 inside 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.

(exhibit 10c: My partner, Bay. They have a very short torso, giving them a "shortstack" appearance ["Round and square at the same time," according to them]—one they attribute [and enjoy having others attribute] to various monster types such as the goblin or their fursona. They represent that which is not the heteronormative, colonial standard; i.e., the thing that historically has been annihilated or relegated to the shadows, now out for everyone to see and appreciate as fully human and completely loveable and good. For them, the role of fantasy is something to experience while alive—the goblin as brought forward out of the dark forest of the past to worship and play with in the present in opposition to canonical forms. Anarchist-queer furries, or "fur fags [exhibit 10c2]," are antifascist in this respect, creating iconoclastic art not just to cope, but to subvert the Symbolic Order in favor of a better world than the one that currently exists.
In his introduction to The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales, Chris Baldrick writes of the Gothic period being cited as a time of darkness and unproductive history following the collapse of Rome, but also something decided by the elite in opposition to those they sought to dominate centuries later:

"In its earliest sense, the word is simply the adjective denoting the language and ethnic identity of the Goths; […] Long after they disappeared into the ethnic melting-pots of the Mediterranean, their fearful name was taken and used to prop up one side of that set of cultural oppositions by which the Renaissance and its heirs defined and claimed possession of European civilization: Northern versus Southern, [Dark] Ages versus the Age of Enlightenment, medieval versus modern, barbarity versus civility, superstition versus Reason. […] Accordingly, by the late eighteenth century 'Gothic' was commonly used to mean 'medieval, therefore barbarous,' in a largely unquestioned equation of civilization with classical standards" (source).

While the likes of Walpole, Baldrick argues, use this dichotomy to both erode the presumed "superiority" of classical culture while also fearing the medieval world as a dark and brutal place, amid this ghost of the counterfeit, Baldrick is incorrect in assuming that

"Unlike 'Romantic,' then, 'Gothic' in its literary usage never becomes a positive term of cultural revaluation, but carries with it […] an identification of the medieval with the barbaric. A Gothic novel or tale will almost certainly offend classical tastes and rational principles, but it will not do so by urging any positive view of the Middle Ages" (ibid.).

Such stories were predominantly written by white, cis-het men and women centuries ago, when queer discourse was in its infancy. When drafted by queer audiences now, the same imaginary age operates as something to positively revive in the Internet age through emancipatory hauntologies; i.e., in resistance to fascist drives towards palingenesis by romanticizing "a new dark age" under the same-old oscillations: the return of the Gothic castle as a marker thereof through the liminal hauntology of war.
Canonical Gothic poetics are not just encouraged, but enforced by Capitalism's global system of exploitation through its monopoly on material conditions and violence, but also "legitimate" Gothic fictions. As we shall see moving forward, these factors must be challenged by individuals who remain critical of the elite in all their forms—the state, but also proponents of the state who uphold it in bad faith; e.g., Volume Two's examination of the history of vampirism through intellectuals like Foucault, whose own rose-tinted view of the medieval world and its bucolic pleasures enabled him to exploit his own students, thus lend queerness a bad reputation.)

(exhibit 10a2: Artist, top-left: Undead Clown; top-right: Defiant Drills, commissioned by Barnowlren; bottom-left and -right: Bay's fursona, by Tofu Froth and Buns Like a Truck. Gothic-Communist struggle is defined in its poetic context—of whom commissioned the artist and why—as something that is challenged during paratextual dialogs concerning the pieces and what they stand for or rather, what they should stand for. For example, in posting his piece, "hit them nazi punks" in 2020, Undead Clown writes,

"largely inspired by CRASHprez's song 'Fascists Don't Cry' which is a really great song lmao but ya imma knock ya out if you come up to me spoutin white supremacist or transphobic shit human rights aint up for debate"

to which this conversation ensued (if the font is too small, refer to the conversation itself on

The creation of art doesn't sit within a vacuum; it is always political, caught between dialectical-material forces during oppositional praxis.)

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. Donna Welles writes how Hawthorne's 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 "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) 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 late '90s (thus early Internet) Japanese anime thriller, Perfect Blue, and its own dissociative, gaslit depictions of a mind horribly fractured by trauma, but also surrounded by it:

"Madness is central, in Gothic stories. Generally manifest through a kind of palpable affect, the monstrous is an experience felt through horror and terror. Presented to the audience, this charge is stored either inside a location or upon its imagery. Viewed, the promoted surfaces compel specific responses—either from victims trapped inside, or those who feel as such (the audience). Call it a 'shared gaze,' if you will; the madness remains vicarious.
In blander terms, Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller, one that concerns shared psychosis, or folie à deux. In Gothic terms, its madness is not limited between two people, but an entire location—what I'll call chez folie, or 'mad place.' A haunted house is more than the heroine and killer, inside; it involves a great number of moving parts, all cooperating to produce a madness exhibited. Once cultivated, this insanity is channeled through a pointed, liminal gaze, often the heroine's. Under attack, her sense of reality crumbles. Is she mad, or is the killer merely hidden, concealed within the mist? This affliction extends to the audience looking through her eyes; when the killer is near, reality starts to break down (a familiar notion for those acclimated with Silent Hill [1999] or H. P. Lovecraft)" (source: Persephone van der Waard's "Gothic Themes in Perfect Blue"). 

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 94b is a renovated variant). Even so, my interrogation of capital was still far more frank than Tolkien's own, his elves effectively anglicized faeries and his Necromancer reducing the shadow of the fascist past to a dark, abstract, "pure evil" 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 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." 

(artist: Anato Finnstark)

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) but also consider this about the titular character, Bilbo: a 50-year old bachelor who has a house full of nice clothes and parties but never goes out and never has children [Frodo being adopted by him after the younger hobbit's children were killed in an accident]; i.e., the closeted dandy (a contemporary of Tolkien was James Whale, an openly gay man later imitated by Clive Barker and 1970s camp—e.g., The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Phantom of Paradise [1974]—but nevertheless a monstrous-feminine idea that dates back to Oscar Wilde's aesthete [the author of The Picture of Dorian Grey] and the "sodomic" dandies of the 19th and 18th century, including horror auteur, Matthew Lewis).

Forgetting Tolkien's uber-manly heroes and ambiguously gay hobbits, 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; i.e., being beset by the fascist, half-eastern, dislocated territory of Mordor in centrist hypercanon; e.g., the great eagles and the Nazgul both being death from above stand-ins for the rise of nationalized air forces during this conflict). Compelled love regularly happens in neoliberal stories that prepare female workers for fascism's re-entry—Beauty and the Beast (1991), for example; i.e., trad wives, "fixing the abuser" and faking orgasms (the latter of which is easier for AFAB persons to do, though I can personally attest to AMAB people faking the enjoyment of sex with an abusive partner). To be fair, unequal positions and behaviors—such as having one side be the primary breadwinner or an ace person and non-ace person becoming romantically involved—can be negotiated under boundaries of mutual consent. Fascism doesn't allow for mutual consent because it is radically heteronormative, overcorrecting the colonial binary to self-destructive extremes.

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 just to survive. Meanwhile, old genocidal adages from America's sublimated Manifest Destiny break through the façade: "Kill the Indian, save the man." Be they Indigenous peoples, persons of color or other minorities, token police scramble to save their own skins; they try to assimilate, offered a brutal and cruel "last chance" by their future slavers-once-more.

(source: Legendo Games)

We'll return to the game show as a metaphor for exploitation later in the book. Until then, consider the ways in which violence-as-a-game is, itself, a pyramid scheme: "There can only be only one!" The Highlander (1986) sloganizes this concept, evoking a violent, imaginary past that only the good Macleod—a white, male savior—can save the white women of the present from: the rapacious Kurgan. Apart from the hero, heteronormative fantasy 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, everyone is forced to be cis-het inside a faux-medieval, hauntological framework; black and white are thoroughly divided and token minorities police those within the state of exception. Under neoliberalism, relative freedoms are then "given back" to a working class threatened with fascism, provided sacrifices are made against a conveniently evil force. 

The whole exploitative cycle between fascists and neoliberals is only derailed by the Anthropocene/Capitalocene 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 my pain and thought me odd (she did so despite being a "grave chaser," herself, recruiting my little brother to help her physically track down family tombstones across the state by paper map and by car); my grandfather saw my gloomy beard and told me it looked good. Eventually I branched out: I went to college a second time, fell love with a girl called Constance who broke my heart (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 anchored 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; simply put, they "unicorned" me, keeping the bisexual cutie [me] in their pocket by not wanting sexual interactions between metamours while Zeuhl was in our presence [or similar interactions with Zeuhl in front of other people]. Simply put, they were incredibly controlling but also fooling themselves—i.e., were selectively poly until they weren't and were again, shifting in and out of a poly headspace whenever it suited them. It made me feel taken advantage of, so much so that I broke down crying in front of Dale Townshend in his office at MMU: "I feel used," I told him, like I was being lied to [despite Zeuhl insisting that they, like Jadis, could never tell a lie; instead, it was always my fault for making them feel crazy despite me merely trying to communicate]. His response, "Nicholas, this sounds like bullshit!" regarding the way I was being treated. Bless you, Dale, for saying that; you were right). 

The Promethean moral, here, is fittingly subversive: Such conditions make one desperate to buck fate, which largely thanks to Zeuhl's stupid bullshit—i.e., their car-crash-in-slow-motion-of-a-breakup and constant gaslighting of me—put me on the path to accidental self-destruction. I don't want to abdicate my own hand in things, but I never negotiated to be abused by Zeuhl or by who came next (and the person after that person); despite being drawn to trauma as an abusing-seeking behavior, the reality is that catharsis and BDSM overlap in liminal territories using a shared aesthetic. Abuse victims seek out the theater of abuse as something they can reclaim in a panoply of ways (e.g., Glenn's illustrating my quest through demonic nun subversions, exhibit 98a1a; but also Queen Taarna's angrier [and far more bloody] parade of the monstrous-feminine; source tweet: Raw Porn Moments, 2023). During their parade, a complicated worship occurs, of these and other "strict/gentle" symbols of monstrous-feminine power and persecution; e.g., the "gentle dom" fetish aesthetic of Marina, the objectified "Medusa"/girl of color [a kind of zombie medusa that elides assimilation fantasies within the state of exception] as fetishized in society at a large—not just the artist Gloss and their legion of thirsty fans—while also having femme qualities in a nun-like submission that might erupt in masculine violence. Unfortunately this subversion of the standard Promethean Quest marks the searcher as vulnerable to actual predators, who—often abused themselves—see similar trauma in others they covert for their feminine vulnerability and exploit it through suitably Faustian means:

(exhibit 10a3: Artist, top-left: Margo Draws; top-middle and top-/bottom-right: Oxcoxa. The devil-in-disguise is often couched within crossdress and strength has having evolved over space and time within a library of discourse. As Bay notes, "Taarna is built for the Male Gaze while simultaneously subverting its expectations"; i.e., she reverses the role of the Medusa, chopping off men's heads as if to ask, "How does it feel, assholes?!" but also a complex, visually violence version of the postpunk disco/club music refrain: "How does it feel, to treat me like you do?" [a query as much to someone's guilt or position of giving as well as them on the receiving end of ironic "violence" versus actual harm]. Of course, she runs the risk of chopping off workers' heads who are normally presented as orcs/zombies, minus the threat—i.e., people of color—but it's arguably a step in the right direction. More to the point, she's not so far gone that you can't reclaim her from total assimilation and decay.
These kinds of double standards and intersectional biases elide and roil on the surface of the female body as a kind of complicated billboard: the anisotropic undeath of white medusa as killed by men vs the black medusa killed by men, both of them fetishized differently within the same punitive structure. The struggle to express body positivity becomes caught up in morphological double standards; i.e., the white-skinned "dark queen" either as marketed as "black"—i.e., "PAWG" ["phat ass white girl," exhibit 41b], a "Goth" collision that elides black clothing with the "black" body as having white skin: the big [sexualized body part] Gothic GF—or kept skinny to be drawn the way that "most bodies are" [code for Vitruvian enforcement]. Meanwhile, black bodies that happen to be skinny or fairer skinned [shadism] are inevitably perceived as "white" [as if most of them "chose" how they were born]: similar to queerness, skin color synonymizes with body size as a false choice, which complicates fat acceptance in the eyes of those seeking representation as something to escape the internalized shame of white/black female bodies as queer.
In turn, the trend of the Amazon or Medusa as a powerful warrior queen or Sapphic monarch can be taken into potentially exploitative spheres, wherein the "Bowsette" crown famously fetishizes the white girl with an "atypical" body to be desirable for the pandered-to male fans; but also articulates the descriptive sexuality of white or non-white AFABs within Nintendo's fandom—i.e., those who are simply born with bodies outside of the colonial standard that want to be celebrated for it via a class metaphor of power and status: the girly crown, suspiciously pink [re: Tirrrb's "The Yassification Of Masculinity"]. Within this larger dialectic emerges a viral trend using the same imagery operating at cross purposes, resulting in various amounts of nuance or lack thereof, as well as [un]irony and cultural appropriation/appreciation when the "Yass, Queen!" crown is worn. 

[artist, top-and-bottom-left, top-middle, and bottom-right: Wondra; bottom-middle: Persephone van der Waard; top-right: Red's References]

To this, the potential for class warriors and traitors emerges in arbitration relative to the public's use of a largely textual/oral tradition to support popular sentiment for or against the status quo: to let one or two minorities be queens in a problematic light, or for there to be no minorities and for everyone to be queens in a post-scarcity world. Just as fascist evocations draw on the imaginary past to prevent scarcity's termination, the possible world of Gothic Communism draws upon incredibly old and pervasive myths, whose ancient caves and Amazons and monstrous-feminine hauntologies closer to the present but not quite there can all be purposed to empower labor movements through mythical solidarity. This includes the voluptuous Easter, the statuesque Hippolyta, Schwarzenegger gender swaps [my loving 2016 attempt at gender parody] and other androgynous types closer to the present, but also their assorted locals and attire [if any—e.g., the T-800s leather "death" biker schtick]. A set sex, gender or orientation, or even nudity [Red's References is strictly non-nude]  isn't even the point; rather, the point is to merge non-heteronormative ideas of these things power into semi-recognizable-yet-distinct forms of power and resistance as class conscious. Difference takes many forms. Even so "different" from a sex-positive standpoint isn't a commodity to be branded by Rainbow Capitalism; it's decided by workers resisting routine exploitation through subversive, even transgressive media.)

Enter Jadis. 

"You really do have a beautiful body" were Jadis' first words to me (they loved my ass, in particular). They are ex number three (not including one-night stands, online relationships and FWBs, etc) proceeded by Zeuhl and Constance. However, while you gain and lose something with every partner, I lost more than usual with Jadis and learned some hard-fought lessons. Simply put, Jadis were the most actively abusive partner I've ever had—a malignant narcissistic "provider" who worked off my maladaptive survival response when courting me: to fawn (the other three being to fight, flee or freeze—the last one also called oscillation in Gothic circles). Unlike my dad or stepdad, Jadis never physically beat me; they still coercively brokered the power exchanges between us, teaching me to suffer in ways I'd only ever read about: By taking my own risks, I became a Gothic princess in ways I didn't negotiate (the irony of me, the desperately gay Communist/closeted trans woman, walking headfirst into a neoliberal SWERF/TERF and then falling in love with them is not lost on me; to be fair to myself, they did not advertise themselves as neoliberal, and when they did, I tried very hard to explain my point of view—more on this later). I wanted material things and an ability to play wife; but I exchanged my own power to a Faustian charmer who love-bombed me, then took me far away from anyone to continue torturing me (cycles of abuse that only ceased when I stopped seeing Jadis as a protector).

The state desires power. So do narcissists; the former enables the latter in historical-material ways. While some  narcissists provide and others receive, a provider or patient who is narcissistic will coerce and control their mark in highly manipulative ways (with the angel/devil dynamic of unequal power abuse playing out in historical-material ways—i.e., with traditional positions of power tied to providing from a male/female position; e.g., the medical profession, with the nurse, doctor, psychiatrist or orderly appearing benign but acting malignant, often through needlessly corrective and harmful surgeries or procedures often, in horror stories, being treated as the stuff of nightmares: forced isolation, euthanasia, lobotomies, electro-shock, medically induced psychosis, queer conversion therapies, or genital corrective surgeries on intersex infants, exhibit 3c; etc). 

Jadis provided for me on paper. Indeed, the negotiation seemed honest, sincere and beneficial: to be their conjugal worker—"a live-in bussy" who learned to cook, clean and do things that, as a closeted trans person, I tended to avoid. While I actually value acquiring these skills and the novelty of service (which can be fun if it isn't abusive), I quickly discovered that no one likes to be compelled and threatened by an asshole who acts like they know (and own) everything/are better than everyone else. Indeed, while Jadis was a genderfluid AFAB, they still coerced, gaslit and threatened me constantly despite playing the victim. The best lies are built on truth, in this regard: Jadis' mother had abused them, resulting in Jadis having more sides to their personality than most people do. And while these fractals would flash across their own surface during confrontations, I couldn't always tell them apart or verify them because Jadis was inherently dishonest and manipulative.

For example, Jadis liked to cry whenever I accused them of acting like their mother. They had described their mother well enough and certainly reminded me of them. Yet, Jadis' reactions always made me feel guilty for "making" them cry despite what they were doing to me! It wasn't just a pivot; eventually I started to feel crazy for standing up for myself (not "crazy" as "in love" in a sex-positive sense, but "crazy" as "gaslit" by an abuser). I slowly became reluctant to fight back, being worn down by attacks I couldn't always see or understand.

(artist: Sabs)

We'll examine the plurality of Jadis' bullshit more during Volume Two. For now, just remember that their "conditional" offer of financial "security" as my would-be mommy dom absolutely withered alongside their pure condescension and abuse of me; both made the joy of cooking for them, caring for them and fucking them an absolute nightmare. At first, it was like Tennyson's poem, I their Lady of Shalott and they my Lancelot:

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, though, a horny bitch like me couldn't enjoy sex with Jadis because they utterly terrified me. It wasn't impossible to cum, but I still felt like someone was holding a gun to my head.

To say that I faked orgasms wouldn't be entirely accurate. For one, the ejaculation wasn't fake (it either happens or it doesn't, for AMABs); as for my enthusiasm, it wavered, but I wanted it to be genuine in order to please them despite it feeling worse and worse for me to keep trying. Regardless, I didn't want to have sex with Jadis because they had ceased to be the dark, handsome knight I fell in love with. Once wooing me with Irish ballads like "The Devil's Courtship" (2001) by Battlefield Band or "The Two Sisters" (2010) by Emily Portman, they became someone I wanted to get far away from: a source of torment that more or less looked the same as before. 

Even now, though, I remember how their power leveled me when I was under its spell—no longer, thanks to my friends' help and my own courage. I escaped, and if this book is any indication, things are going well enough without Jadis in my life. Such is the lot of someone as lucky as myself to have a place to go (a secret, safe place). Writing this book in my peaceful idylls is the least I can do to help others—to cathartically pass on what I have learned for myself and for the world after I am gone. So please, learn from my mistakes and avoid the emotional/Gothic stupidity that Capitalism historically-materially foisted upon me through my own cursed bloodline.

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!"

a soldier of (evil space dictator) Tod Spengo, Mom and Dad Save the World (1992)

"Do you really have birds this size on your planet!" "No!" "Then why would it fool anyone if you wear the masks?"
[awkward pause] "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 [who goes by the alias Elektra Hex on their Twitter/Only Fans]. Over time, they have tried to come out of their shell, growing more comfortable with going to conventions while dressing up [and meeting cool people like Steven Blum, the voice of Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop, 1998—bottom-far-left] and using sex toys, but also doing sex work and being the femme fatale, princess in cathartic, oft-slutty ways that reclaim their thicc body as a badass source of pride: Orchid from Killer Instinct [1995] and Princess Zelda.)

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 OnlyFans. 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 synthesis roadmap when we discuss synthesis/oppositional-grouping stratagems like 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, any "vibe check" should be done, if not on your toes, then at least on your feet; watch out for false friends, because people suck! The same goes for false symbols, fake rainbows, assimilated homosexual men, etc.

(exhibit 11b1: 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' gender-swapping 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 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 2021 Silk Song fan video by White Flour 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).

(artist: Edwin Landseer)

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/risqué to let someone in and play games with them where you can actually get hurt. 

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 through love-making as an inherently complicated and risky endeavor. 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 play it for ourselves, taking chances at enrichment while doing our best to be good friends, but also teachers and workers interacting back and forth. 

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 my desire for adventure, but it was still a learning experience normally only seen in the movies (thus denied to everyday persons in advertisements about where to even find love). 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 now have friends I can trust. However, developing 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 move 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; that's a risk that's prone to fail and should, because the only time it won't is if the romantic interest is battered. It's unhealthy.

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 while she (un)dressed. Even so, George was still in a tree with a pair of binoculars looking secretly at her. Despite involving a willing exhibitionist and voyeur, the circumstances weren't actively agreed upon, thus exemplifying Mulvey's Male Gaze in a canonical narrative.

**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). Building trust is sexy. So is boundary formation and minimizing risk while taking chances. That's what healthy relationships are, including working ones: risk taking while taking randomness into account. 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, but also game. 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; i.e., forbidden experimentation!

There's so many different ways to subvert trauma and the status quo while seeking catharsis as one moves away from closeted self-hatred and towards self-acceptance and -love. While these are topics we'll cover much more in depth in Volume Two and Three, I've included some additional examples here for funsies! —Perse

(exhibit 11b2: Artist, top: Maloroid; middle-left: unknown; bottom-left: D. H. Friston's illustration for Carmilla [1872]—a cautionary tale about female forbidden love; bottom-right: Nat the Lich.
Something to keep in mind about criminal hauntology [and which we'll return to in Volumes Two and Three, exhibits 47a1/2 and 86a2] is that it relishes in the commodified suffering of the buried, the gays as automatic criminals, fugitives, unironic monsters through various fiction twists: nine times out of ten, we're the closest monster in the WASP-penned murder mystery or we're the victim as someone to punish by the damsel, detective or subjugated Amazon [the xenomorph is both: the cumulative forces-of-darkness black knight, cosmic rapist, pre-fascist corruption dressed up in '70s fetish gear, exhibit 60d]. The canonical vampire narrative, then, isn't just a night stalker/queer boogeyman that only comes out at night [like Edgar Winter]. It also emulates various animal attacks and—like medieval lycanthropy—is a crude analogue for mammalian diseases and medieval psychology [the humors] that brings a non-too-subtle metaphor for sleep/death, staking the queer while they're helpless; but also the sleeping woman as often naked and/or defenseless, like a babe in its cradle [similar to her sitting on the toilet or standing in the shower but even more vulnerable]: the compelled voyeurism of Gothic convention demands that we stare at her unironic rape as something to relish, to worship, to covet.
To "sleep," in this case, is overlapped with "playing dead" when faced with a predator but also the reality that wives, teenagers and young girls would have been sitting ducks for their patriarchal overlords; i.e., to be violated and to have no conscious idea, but faced with the haunting suspicions through the "nightmare" of being visited by a succubus/incubus paralysis demon [exhibit 51b1] that has its way with the chaste maiden/celibate man-of-faith as an unwilling/unironic sacrifice [camped to hell and back by Tim Curry's Dr. Frankenfurter sleeping with Brad and Janet; i.e., less "making it gay" and more about exposing the repressed queer dialog amid monstrous proliferation as something to poke fun at and make your own in the process]. It becomes a spectating match by the audience as complicit in the whole ordeal, demanding a rape victim to worship, mock and fetishize as part of the night's entertainment.
Of course, consent-non-consent allows for the ritual of induced sleep sex to have sex-positive BDSM, fetish and kink flavors [sleep sex being a regular event in cis-het bedrooms] but nevertheless one that is canonically used to scapegoat queer persons relegated to the shadows of a rising sexual discourse [while cis-het men continue to hunt their prey from the same darkness]. To reclaim the night and its creatures from the cis-het curse of a patriarchal, "Dark Father" sex pest, the subversion of the symbolic tableau always occurs through rape play/voyeuristic peril of some kind or another—of catharsis and trauma as occupying the same playground. This liminal expression can dressed up in the aesthetics of death [exhibit 9b2], be openly vampiric swooning [exhibit 87], include animalize bondage and commands of tinctures of sleep and submission [exhibit 51d3]; or promote/execute doll-like sleep sex in various animate-inanimate forms [exhibits 38a and 38b1, " b2, " b3, " b4]. It can also be evoked as a kind of guilty pleasure in heteronormative circles [exhibit 86a1, exhibit 86a3] meant to scare and infantilize women; such fear and dogma can be reclaimed by Gothic counterculture—i.e., by sex-positive couples whose invited voyeurism/exhibitionist nudism [exhibit 101c2] helps move society away from harmful and coerced wish fulfillment: "It's ok to look or indulge if all parties want it.")

(exhibit 11b3: Artist left/middle: Aroma Sensei; right: Horny X. "To sleep perchance to dream." The fantasy of subjugation can be sex-positive but must subvert the imagery of the monstrous-feminine as targeted for "slaying" by traditionally male implements: the woman-in-black or the Amazon as threatened by the "knife-like" penis, but then actually wanting it [breeding kink being a common one, fantasizing about making monster babies and having monster sex to improve the orgasm, exhibit 87a]. Badly. Such notions, as usual, are forbidden in heteronormative spheres, but remain an open secret sold to people through the procurement of forbidden fruit as pornography that hardworking American adults may consume. It becomes pay-walled, a sale of indulgences classically overloaded with a variety of harmful stigmas [exhibit 32a]. As always, these stigmas must, like individual trauma, be reclaimed and subverted in the same dream-like zone: between the fiction and the rules, on the surface of the image in intense thresholds neither here nor there.)

(exhibit 11b4: Artist, bottom-left: Kay; bottom-middle: Kristine Walton; bottom-right: Jesús Campos.
The queer man as a de facto sodomite is often driven to seek trauma in such a liminality and being synonymized with deserved self-loathing and psychosexual violence—e.g., failing to understand that Rob Halford is crooning about "The Ripper" or "The Isle of Domination" [exhibit 38c1b] in an ironic, cathartic sense—but also stared at by straight people looking for a medieval shock on a cryptomimetic vein [e.g., Trent Reznor's "Closer" (1989), exhibit 43b; or Panos Cosmatos' Mandy (2018), exhibit 40a1b]. The same goes for the woman as the presumed whore/virgin. Ironically reclaiming these markers of shame occurs in the same place they are unironically applied, thus subject to constant scrutiny and moral panic the way that white straight men never are under the status quo. Under the Neo-Gothic standard, though, the fearful imagination of a WASP-y imagination has produced centuries of stories about the devilish white person acting "non-white" but also not Protestant; i.e., like an outsider from the barbarian past [wherein Blasphemous is a thoroughly curious Metroidvania: Catholic fear and dogma, especially torture and miracles, dressed up as Gothic nostalgia]. Misdirection is a powerful tool, understood by common abusers and benefactors profiting off the conservative adage, "Perception is reality." Broken trust makes anything seem possible, but also plays on the mind in ways that render one the dupe/accomplice; i.e., to be under someone's power regardless if you're asleep, on drugs or in a seemingly healthy relationship.
This applies to real life, of course. For example, I thought Zeuhl loved me [we'll discuss Jadis at length, later] but I didn't realize I was being used for most of our relationship. It didn't matter because I perceived our love as genuine based on what I was told. For a while it felt manageable. All of a sudden, it wasn't [I winced when they fingered my asshole too hard, secretly second-guessed them when they didn't want me to meet their other boyfriend, who I'll call Paris; and asked me for money after the breakup, or other flavors while stringing me along in various ways]; after that, I felt like I had been lied to, used, and manipulated like a silly unicorn. Zeuhl taught me that self-denial is a powerful thing. And yet, while the beard is often used by queer people to blend in or navigate choppy waters, the same idea is used by bigots who blend in with token spouses and partners [rendering them dupes, victims or accomplices in the process]; i.e., a theme of penance for past crimes, but also ongoing deceptions for the false penitent seeking sanctuary by directing blame at others/casting suspicion away from themselves and their habitual misdeeds. Like a game of Clue or a cheap "Whodunnit?" no one is being honest, even if this deception is societal; i.e., coded through heteronormative propaganda, fear and dogma [contrition, or the forced confession, being its own issue within police states; and drug abuse, torture and isolation used to keep victims in check, suggestible, even complicit]. It just wasn't talked about, an open secret; the victim becomes not just the fly on the wall, but the wall itself part of a desolate, perfidious cathedral where people care more about keeping up with appearances and delighting at the coded barbaric's schadenfreude. Eventually it all falls apart, but also becomes forgotten and rediscovered as ruinous, esoteric.
To this, real life and fiction collide and fuse in a dialectical-material sense. The murder mystery/black confessional is a foundational trope of the Neo-Gothic's historical-material record: the secret letter or diary entry as a fictional throw back then and now [e.g., Ann Radcliffe's having Monsieur St. Aubert write a letter to his daughter, as well as the entire Confessional of the Black Penitents—aka The Italian]. Its poiesis amounts to familial open secrets [of the Gothic sort, the bloodline] married to the myth that society is corrupt, not genocidal; i.e., the scapegoating of the fascist or the false authority figure as anomalous: the husband, preacher, father, teacher, etc. This kind of murder mystery has the centrist effect of directing blame away from the elite, from the distribution of power/material conditions at a societal, criminogenic level. It presents persons as reprobate, deceitful, fallen, not the state (the demonizing of the Catholic faith being a displaced critique of a former structure "on its way out"; i.e., during the crystallization of a Protestant ethic amid and after the Neo-Gothic revival, contributing to the rise of the current state of affairs: modern war, the nation-state, Capitalism as a neoliberal hegemony built on older hegemonies: newer kinds of bourgeoise vampires versus older ones, but still our bosses as queer people are buried indiscriminately without power or prestige to protect them.)

(exhibit 11b5: Artist, left: Luis Dominguez; right: Clyde CaldwellAt least as a starting point, the entire xenophobic/pre-fascist exercise of vampirism is basically anti-Catholic dogma ridiculing transubstantiation [exhibit 41i]. However, the female vampire ritual is further complex and bifurcated under Capitalism as a Protestant affair [we'll also examine anti-Semitism and queerphobia/-philia in Volume Two and three]. It either often desires a cathartic ritual to the paralysis, thus a reassurance that the dark dominator isn't abusive like a past real-life example might have been; or it desires a reversal to the trauma, exacting "revenge" and "torture" on the perceived patriarchal dominator [in BDSM, this is calling "switching"]—i.e., by swatting them like a pesky bug. Coincidences aside, a female mosquito has been buzzing around my head as I write this exhibit, dutifully reminding me that male mosquitoes do not drink blood, and that the drinking of blood by these insects is an abject metaphor for Archaic-Mother sexual reproduction, as well as sex and power in general; or, as I write in "War Vaginas":

Mythical weapons can symbolize female rebellion and power. Take Medusa's snakes: Functionally her snakes aren't female-exclusive, or man-made; they're purely cosmetic. Medusa kills her victims with a petrifying gaze. Gothic tales treat this freezing effect as a shock response: The female "snake" is viewed as a symbol of antagonistic power, threatening traditional masculinity through castration fears (robbing the phallus of its mythical power) expressed in patriarchal myths like the gorgon. The snake can also be overtly phallic. Benisato, a female villain from Ninja Scroll (1993), attacks with venomous snakes, including one hidden inside her vagina (a man could arguably cram a "snake" up his bum, but homosexuality is often seen as "female": othered, ridiculous, impotent).

The second symbol of female rebellion are natural, entomological weapons. These can vaginal, tied to sexual reproduction. Insect brood mothers are a natural example of the Archaic Mother, using their powerful wombs to birth hostile armies. There's also phallic-looking weapons with female functions. The ovipositor of parasitoid wasps injects an egg into an unlucky host (the life cycle which inspired the xenomorph in Alien). However, all female Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, ants) have an ovipositor, the stinger of which is a modified version thereof. Stingers inject [paralyzing] venom, but also eggs[!]. It can stab and kill, but no male can have it. Like the womb, it is forbidden to men ("womb-like," vaginal spaces have a forbidding alien atmosphere, which we'll explore in a moment).

Insects tremendously impacted popular monsters like the xenomorph and later, Samus. Amazons are monsters, and Samus is only half-human. The other half is avian, but my point still stands: Humanoid insects (or animals more generally) are the site of alien depiction, but also behaviors humans typically abject. Unnatural strength is a thing to be feared, especially when viewed through a sexist lens. Though Samus is not insectoid, she still has levels of strength that mirror female insects. Hymenoptera are female dominant. Males are small, weak; they only exists to mate, and cannot work nor soldier—not unlike the submissive male roles in imaginary Amazon societies [source].


[artist, left: Luciano Garbati; right: Benvenuto Cellini] 

To this, the female vampire is something of a dragon, a female Godzilla or dominator whose powerful fangs/stinger is feared by powerful men through collective insecurity but also collective guilt: the proverbial sins of the father against a vengeful monstrous-feminine. As usual, this code is executed in canonical, heteronormative videogames; i.e., to neglect, deny or scorn anything that isn't "the Man." Knights don't just slay dragons; they make trophies of them.)

Experimentation is vital to social-sexual health and understanding but also healing. 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/risk 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, in this case, being Hogle's ghost of the counterfeit, re: "abject reality or hidden barbarity" buried inside media that, "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 and 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 Jeffrey 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 is nostalgically curious (e.g., 1986-era Marty needing a car to have sex, similar to how his mother "parked" with neighborhood boys to escape her 1950s repressive household; i.e., American car culture being an escape from imposed social-material conditions) but also borrowed: 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. To borrow from Anita Sarkisian, though, I can enjoy "Earth Angel" rerecorded with the orchestral accompaniment (1985) and refuse to endorse Ronald Reagan, Robert Zemeckis, et al in the same breath.

*Fun fact: The actor who played George, Crispin Glover, was replaced because he disliked the monetary reward the McFlys get in the end; i.e., that the movie is arguing that they need to acquire it to be happy—not because they are interesting people but because they were assimilated. According to Adam Donald's "How Back to the Future 2 Tricked You Into Thinking Crispin Glover Returned" (2022):

"Bob Gale, co-writer and co-producer of the Back to the Future trilogy, has long claimed that it was a salary dispute which led to Glover not reprising his role in Part II. Gale has claimed that because Glover was not a huge fan of the sequel's script, he demanded he be paid $1 million to appear in the movie" (source).

In essence, the producers fired Glover, lied about what he said and used his likeness without his permission (a taste of things to come in the AI days ahead of us).

Sex positivity between sex workers and friends is no less democratic or humane than a cis-het marriage. Quite the opposite—it's far more democratic and humane. Marriage has historically offered false "protection" to cis-het women during manufactured conflict, scarcity and consent; it only segregates them from other women and lets their husbands legally abuse/rape them—the Marital Exemption Act only being abolished in all fifty states in America in the early 1990s. Like Roe v. Wade, the repealing of the Marital Exemption act is something that Christofascists/SCOTUS will try to overturn, blaming symptoms of Capitalism and its decay on minorities while simultaneously reining women in and cracking down "on crime" through an expanded state of exception. Neoliberal capitalists will allow this to occur through the oscillating pendulum of Capitalism and American politics working very much as intended: America was founded on genocide, rape, war and worker exploitation, as well as compelled marriages, etc.

Proletarian praxis-through-poiesis must happen according to new traditions of Gothic imagination and cultural emotional intelligence—tied to Marxist and sex-positive Gothic/queer theory and media, then utilized through Jameson's "archaeologies of the future" as a means of breaking through Fischer's warning of a myopic inability to imagine a different future by reimagining the past and its material traumas in relation to ourselves (we'll unpack this during Volume Two, scout's honor). This Gothic "mode" of production includes examining our own traumas and memories, both real, imagined, and reimagined as Gothic pastiche—i.e., the monsters, where to find them, and how they function in discrete, composite and liminal forms across various mediums (movies, television shows, books, masques, music shows, short stories, roleplay and videogames; etc) that likewise interact back and forth through various materials during different modal "favors" of expression (critique, art, political statements, porn, apologia, polemics; or curious hybrids of these things; e.g., Sucker for Love: First Date, a 2022 Kaiju, Lovecraftian, monster-porn dating sim). 

(exhibit 12: According to legend, King Pygmalion creates and falls in love with Galatea. For our purposes, Pygmalion is the shadow of the Cycle of Kings, a patriarchal influence that banishes queerness to the shadows and dimorphizes workers to be cis-het men and women. This shadow of Pygmalion is the lasting influence of such a myth on the public imagination, whose Gothic poetics must be challenged by active Galateas who buck the status quo in genderqueer ways that have been with the Gothic since the days of Matthew Lewis. Cassandra Peterson is one such Galatea. A lesbian-in-secret for decades and now out of the closet, Elvira has been advocating for queer expression onscreen for just as long.)

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, Pygmalion's opposite, Galatea, offers up various  female "monarchs" during oppositional praxis; i.e., 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 rebelling and conforming to varying degrees: existing on the "rungs" of power as queens, but also figurative/literal princesses, lieutenants, captains, soldiers, etc. 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 as the problematic practitioners of sodomy (which we'll examine more in Volume Two when we look at the history of vampires): Roddy McDowall from Fright Night (1985) performing a queer/queenly horror show host similar to Elvira's outspoken iconoclastic role as the "mistress of the dark" being "sexually fluid" in real life, but having been in the closet about it for twenty years; as well the gothic/postpunk "disco-in-disguise" of female musical personalities like Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees or ambiguous sexuality of Joan Jett from The Runaways).

*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/parallel space 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 cited exhibit examples of their canonical critical functions being in parenthesis):

  • zombies (the state of exception, exhibit 34d)
  • werewolves (furries; symbols of rape, madness, and primal lust, exhibit 87a)
  • vampires (the aristocracy and venereal disease, exhibit 41h; the dragon lord or Archaic Mother, exhibit 1a1c)
  • aliens (xenophobia, abduction; exhibit 13a, below)
  • clones (assimilation, doubles; exhibit 13a, below)
  • reanimations (dead bodies, statues, golems, suits of armor, etc; exhibit 40h2)
  • Mother Nature (natural disasters, plagues; exhibit 35b)
  • orcs, goblins and drow (the state of exception, tokenized conflict; exhibit 37e, 41b, and 94a1b)
  • stigma/"plague" animals: bats, snails, snakes, wolves, bears, hounds (of the Baskervilles), Rodents of Unusual Size, killer rabbits, etc (the wilderness)
  • knights/cops (sanctioned rape/violence; exhibit 24a)
  • black knights (fascism/centrist caricature, exhibit 1a1a1g)
  • composite bodies (Frankenstein's Creature, exhibit 44a2; but also cyborgs,
  • robots and golems (exhibit 42e), including silly ones: Mr. Stay-Puft from Ghostbusters (1984)
  • ghosts (exhibit 42d2, the uncanny)
  • wendigos/imposters (exhibit 45d)
  • mythical warriors (ninjas, knights, samurai; exhibit 39c1; Beowulf, exhibit 1a1a1e)
  • mythical artists (mad musicians, artists; exhibit 105a2)
  • pod people (clones and alien invasion, mad science, etc)
  • chimeras (anthropomorphic, like mermaids, exhibit 54; or not—the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Cú Chulainn, Lucifer's non-angel forms in Paradise Lost; exhibit 51a)
  • demons (variable, exhibit 45c1/2)
  • hags (aging but also ancient power, exhibit 84a2)
  • witches (vice characters, pagan/non-Christian rituals; exhibit 83a)
  • headless monsters/revenants of state executions (the Medusa, the headless Buddha, fallen warriors, feudal-secular terrorist-cell violence, etc, utilizing the severed head as a dialectical-material means of condemning or venerating the execution through beheading as vividly abject and often blindly furious; exhibit 41a and exhibit 11b5) 
  • Archaic Mothers (ancient, abject, really pissed-off vice characters; e.g., the alien queen from Aliens or Mother Brain from Metroid, 1986—exhibit 1a1c)
  • archaic babies (the spawn of the void; e.g., the xenomorph, exhibit 60d; but also Giygas "the mighty idiot" from Mother 2, 1994, exhibit 60e2)
  • killer, manmade babies tied to patriarchal mad science, patrilineal descent and pre-fascist and anti-Semitic revenge stigmas (again, the xenomorph or Beowulf, 1a1a1b; but also Cell and Broly from Dragon Ball, exhibit 39c2; the Creature from Frankenstein; and Homelander from The Boys, 2019, exhibit 108b4)
  • phallic women (the monstrous-feminine of the xenomorph and similar liminal performances, but also violent women "acting like men" from a traditional, canonical viewpoint—i.e., though generally in response to patriarchal structures with an air of female revenge that leads to TERF-induced rape culture; e.g., Lady Macbeth from Macbeth, 1606; Victoria de Loredani from Zofloya, 1806, exhibit 100b2; Rumi from Perfect Blue, 1997; and Ripley/Samus Aran from Aliens/Metroid, exhibit 71)
  • space bugs (see: Archaic Mothers, but also—Communists)
  • hybrids (vampire-zombie witches, clown ninjas [Worthikids' "Wire," 2021], and Zombie-Vampire Capitalism and Zombie-Vampire Voltron—e.g., Mega Man X, 1993, and The Ronin Warriors' 1995 neoliberal pastiche, exhibit 98b2a and 39c1/94c2a)

Allowed by the elite to flourish in canonical forms that uphold the status quo, the monster works as a mask that can be subverted by the person wearing it for proletarian purposes (whose complex oppositional subterfuge we will primarily examine in Volume Three). In either case, these monsters and their masks are literally legion. So, I may miss a few in my scrapbook bestiary (on par with Prince Hamlet's commonplace book, which compiled knowledge as he came across it and guided his revenge). However, I want to cover all the bases as best I can. 

(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):

  • castles
  • churches (and other ecclesiastical structures and their Neo-Gothic forms)
  • caves
  • condemned buildings
  • industrial sectors or disaster areas
  • crime scenes
  • alien landing sites
  • giant insect burrows
  • abandoned factories, ghost towns and other derelict places
  • haunted houses
  • graveyards (official or improvised; e.g., mass graves)
  • creepy basements
  • sex dungeons (rape fantasies, which intersect with other space types)
  • spooky mansions
  • Metroidvania and to a lesser extent, other ludic spaces like the FPS, RTS or JRPG (for this one, refer to my aforementioned PhD research on the subject, "Mazes and Labyrinths")

Fictional monsters and their lairs in media constitute localized phobias, the basic mediums of which are already listed above. However, the base Gothic theories (the Four Gs) can be applied to different mediums through different medium-centric schools of thought (and genres, which we'll explore through the book as we go, but also crossovers—e.g., Samus Aran in Axiom Verge, 13b). This requires another list, which I'll call our Gothic-Communist Hermeneutic Quadfecta (tailored after by my education background, in this case; also, I didn't want to have two lists of four called "the Four Gs"): 

  • gothic theory (outlined in "The Gist")
  • ludology (game theory, which we'll reveal as we go)
  • queer theory (which we'll also reveal as we go)
  • Marxism (as outlined by our Gothic-Communism tenets, the Six Rs)

As we'll see when we push into the Humanities primer, my approach is thoroughly hybridized, as I think it's more accurate to a post-scarcity world sans privatization to allow for creations that aren't hidden behind artificial barriers. You don't have to wait for corporates to make multiverses." All deities (and worlds and demons) resides within workers—are their tools to express themselves with:

(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 itself.)

In praxial terms, workers familiar with these objects and methods of study can start to think critically through whichever theories help them process media in an emotionally/Gothically intelligent sense that helps our Gothic-Communist goals materialize as praxis-through-in-action. This includes sex positivity vs sex coercion (we'll get to the other doubles of oppositional praxis in a moment) as historically-materially generating an oft-liminal "monster pastiche," or other kinds of pastiche: poster, war, vision, porn, disguise and other terms we'll associate with monsters, lairs and their relative phobias as things to rehabilitate and weaponize in our favor as rebellious workers. Over time, proletarian praxis leads to "friendly doubles": de facto, sex-positive, educational forms whose means of critical thought are tied to commonplace things workers can quickly spot, recognize and think about as they express themselves with art. In doing so, they can decolonize the Gothic mode and grant it their own power as part of a larger artistic movement; its steady iconoclasm is how sex workers liberate themselves from canonical, heteronormative bondage—often using an asexual lens to appreciate social-sexual expression beyond compelled sexual reproduction and its state-sanctioned violence and manipulation.

(artist: Dejano23)

I'm focusing on Gothic theory, monsters and media because, despite being incredibly common and sexualized, they invite highly sex-coercive, social-sexual behavior in canonical forms; in iconoclastic forms, common fixations of the "fearful" Gothic imagination become incredibly useful to Marxist praxis, applied in a sex-positive fashion according to common fears exploited by those in power for their own Base ends (that was a pun):

  • the unknown (death, nature; the dark, beyond, alien, or different)
  • shameful conduct, but especially fatal hubris (the ignominious death)
  • the impostor, especially a betrayal by a false friend, family member, lover or authority figure  (cops, priests, husbands, coaches, teachers, etc)
  • the tyrant and enslavement
  • incarceration and live burial
  • abandonment and identity erasure; cultural amnesia
  • violence; including physical emotional and sexual abuse 
  • impotence; a loss of control, including of one's mind—madness, paranoia, brainwashing/gaslighting, etc
  • isolation
  • emotional or physical vulnerability
  • disease
  • prurience, sexual deviancy and appetite
  • strange combinations of these things (e.g., the Japanese kappa, anus balls and ignominious death: Sekiro's (2019) hidden boss, the Headless—a hidden, headless, forgotten warrior married to the kappa, quizzically stealing the hero's essence from their butt, but also relegated to the embarrassing-yet-terrifying forgotten grave: For a Japanese warrior to be beheaded and left to rot, their honor and glory would be completely forgotten—utterly extinguished. Literally this would be a fate worse than death for their kind.)
  • cats and dogs living together
  • mass hysteria
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. 

(exhibit 13c: The cover image for Thomas Leatham's "Identity Crisis: The curious connections between Perfect Blue, Persona and Black Swan," 2022.)

In other words, Gothic Communism crystalizes what not to do into a Gothic moral that doesn't shy away from the dialectical-material complexities that emerge during oppositional praxis. Yet, our focus always remains on a practical Marxist outcome—of emotionally intelligent, cultural savvy sex workers who have access to the entire checklist. We're not just breaking icons or swimming in the grey area for funsies (though it is fun); we're fighting the state's monopoly on violence through a variety of disguises that work as complex, oft-ambiguous code. Our focus is specifically sex worker violence as it intersects with other forms of state abuse as financially incentivized by those in power or seeking power. As previously mentioned, I've coined this incentivization "the problem of greed" in my own academic work, writing about Weber's Protestant work ethic in Tolkien's The Hobbit and Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice" (c. 1598); the problem of greed (and its addressal) takes different forms depending on who's involved:

  • For neoliberals, the problem of greed introduces the banality of evil—chiefly the dragon as a symbol of rarified greed—through a current-day myth: the useful billionaire, aka billionaire "philanthropy/Marxism." Capitalism cultivates the dragon's "hoard of gold," which under neoliberal Capitalism makes its stated owner class gross dividends—alienated from their own wealth-as-abstracted but also other humans (workers) while they callously bribe everyone around them through loans, subsidies and lobbying disguised as Christian/secular generosity (which align with the Christian tradition of worshipping capital in ostensibly secular forms; e.g., Reagan's America being an extension of virtually every American executive before and after having been a Christian in some shape or form—as Aleksandra Sandstrom notes, mostly Protestant Christians; re: Weber's Protestant work ethic being an Americanized Phenomena). Ethically billionaires should not exist, yet neoliberal culture hero-worships them like gods—banal dragons with draconian positions, not literal piles of gold to hoard (unlike fascists). They posture as the Greater Good, framing themselves as exceptional in order to hide what they really are: vampires and desk-murders-in-disguise, killing more than fascists can through Americanized bureaucracy as an ongoing and disguised form of state power abuse—deregulated but enabled to accumulate as much wealth as possible for those out-of-the-touch ghouls at the top. Doing so, neoliberals intentionally create criminogenic conditions, all while blaming the poor, stepping up policing and pushing austerity/personal responsibility rhetoric (this includes "charitable" organizations asking poor people for one dollar instead of asking billionaires for one percent of "their" money while also treating the Protestant work ethic as sacred/modest—divorced from excess and useful to the elite). While this historically-materially translates to genocide, war and rape, etc as displaced/dissociative violence, it also extends to remediation as canonical sublimation via content creators who posture as "generous" while generally profiting off it through various "fronts": e.g., Bon Jovi's restaurant (or Rocky's)or Mr. Beast' "poverty tourism" miraculously helping the blind to see like Jesus then using this as a shield that his fans use to defend (The Kavernacle, 2023); i.e., he did good works, so he can do no wrong. 
  • For fascists, the symptoms of Capitalism's disease manifest differently. For them, the problem of greed reintroduces an older form of wealth acquisition—raw material theft through direct physical violence and conquest—the return of the (skeleton) king or the dragon king on the literal pile of gold (re: hoarded stolen material wealth—the piles of goods taken from the Nazi death camps). It is the partial collapse of the state to install new leaders in the vacated/emptied offices, vying to restore them to "their former glory." Desk murder under fascist bureaucracy is performed through a weaker form of government centered around open piracy and power abuse, with similar-if-less-effective results. Despite their badass façade, fascists are about grandiose displays of strength through a weakened power structure resting on a cult of the strongman. Nazi Germany, for example, was materially capable of far less harm and damage than what America has globally achieved through US hegemony worldwide. US warmongering has slowly become automated, turning into drone warfare driven by human greed. In turn, these faraway forms are further displaced, dissociated, and disseminated through neoliberal propaganda. A common propaganda form is popular sports, especially the combat sport as useful in conveying the competitive, individualistic models that are so central to neoliberal propaganda. These gladiatorial, "bread and circus" ranked rituals "prove" which male workers/exploited groups are "superior," meaning "the best at being useful to the Faustian elite in violent ways," like Mike Tyson for Cus D'Amato or Don King (Rummy's Corner, 2023). Women in these arrangements are reduced to de facto prizes for poor fighting men to scrap over, normally enjoyed exclusively by the elite. "To the victor go the spoils (which, as a non-battered, cis-het/non-heteronormative AFAB is not a flattering concept—women don't really want to be reduced to pretty baubles that cis-het dudes fight over).
  • Meanwhile, the likes of Shakespeare and Tolkien displaced and critiqued greed through their own displaced fantasies, inventing Middle Earth and an imaginary Venice to critique their respective presents' problems of greed in medieval language (re: "The Problem of Greed"). Similar to Blake's "dark satanic mills" (or Kafka's bourgeois critique in his own demonic spaces), Tolkien's "black country" was a displaced critique of the Industrial Revolution and capital (as later heard in British metal stalwarts Judas Priest, but also in fin-de-cycle authors like Charles Dickens, etc); so was Shylock the xenophobic scapegoat of greed during mercantile Capitalism and Smaug rarefied greed of the medieval, fascist (relatively small, vengeful and imaginarily "ancient") sort directed at a post-Catholic, 20th century West. Such allegory is not so different than condemning a foreign dictator for similar abuses committed by our own leaders—not just elected officials, but the men behind the curtain pulling strings of various sorts. You also see the same tactic employed by powerful men like George Lucas or James Cameron, whose own successes become franchised, turning them into billionaire Marxist "Pygmalions" with far less critical power as time goes on; i.e., the wider their appeal, the less potent their message. Of course, allegory exists for a reason, but "mainstream activism" is disempowered by mere virtue of it being diluted for the masses. Genuine activism (synthesis) needs to be direct, rough, and clear—less canon like what Star Wars became after 1977 and more incendiary iconoclasm like Andor (which we'll explore in the synthesis roadmap).
(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.)

Whether appreciative/appropriative or bourgeois/proletarian, dissociation and displacement generally require a queer coded, vice-character scapegoat who must be cleansed or purified to whitewash the structure (or send it all crashing down; i.e., the hyperreal of no white castle waiting behind the Gothic dark castle—i.e., the castle, thus the system, are harmful by design). And yet, just because someone is queer coded doesn't mean they are actually queer, or at least sex-positively so. As stated during the forward, fascism and Communism generally occupy the same queer space until the dialog requires a hard stance against the true enemies of the state's hidden function: Communism as the ultimate threat to Cartesian thought, heteronormativity, the nuclear family/colonial binary and any other "normal/natural" or "realistic" state one could present the audience with (versus the false rebellion and actual defense of capital/assimilation fantasy that fascism represents). This plays out  historically-materially through fascism-as-unironic and queerness as ironic within their respective praxis as flavoring the same basic code. This can be Shakespeare's Shylock, Monty Python's killer rabbit, Tolkien's Smaug the Stupendous, Lucas' Darth Vader, King Diamond's Abigail, etc—the killer, fun villain as campy or straight; the "root for the bad guy" jester who speaks truth to power as unironic or ironic. Overt "clownish" examples include Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI (1994), Captain Hook from Peter Pan (1953) chasing after our boy wonder (1953) or Joker from Batman (exhibit 95a1b) but also various Disney villains often being queer-coded—most notably perhaps being Ursula from The Little Mermaid, writes Jack Coleman (2022). 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 the vice character in an ignominious and oscillating affair. This can take a variety of personified and animalized forms, of which we'll consider many throughout the rest of the book. For right now, though, we'll swiftly examine two: Ester from the Orphan franchise and the killer lion from Beast (exhibit 13d, top, 2022).

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, then mythologized for it; source: satenmadpun's " Pre-Colonial Africa and the Myth of a Savage Continent," 2020). 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. Blood becomes not just the stuff in our veins, but a medieval form of expression hauntologically revived in the present.

    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—i.e., to have subservient, predatory workers prey parasitically upon workers for even bigger parasites (the elite, utterly without shame and superficially charming like canonical vampires are; e.g., James Fallon's "pro-social" psychopath; The World Science Festival's "The Moth: Confessions of a Pro-Social Psychopath," 2015) within a grand parasitic system that makes everyone ruthless, cruel, and dumb and incentivizes those without remorse to thrive by commodifying basic human rights/essence (and cultivates impostor syndrome and paranoia through monsters that feed—especially the undead—in a disguised/uncanny form). Simply put, profit is horded "blood" (exploited labor, bodies, workers); those at the top feed on those beneath them as placed there by a structure that naturalizes the abuse, but also hides it; it treats poorness like a disease, a contagion the rich will despise, but also rely on to get ahead while feeding in the dark. They lengthen their lives, sipping greedily on "blood" they can no longer produce themselves behind closed doors, but nevertheless advertising their superiority through the freeness of the market, of Capitalism, of themselves as embodiments of capital and privilege: their castles, their profit, their right to do as they please. As such, their humanity is sacrificed in pursuit of a bloodthirst they—like the classic vampire—can never quench; their veins dry up and they become alien, shriveled up, dried out. Like Brian Froud's Skeksis, they resort to hideous abuses to chase off a death of their own making. This souless inhumanity within the "castle" as a Gothic metaphor for harmful material conditions, leading Dracula to quote the bible in Symphony of the Night: "What profit is it a man who gains the whole would, but loses his soul?" (we'll examine the ideas of sanguine and other pre-fascist vampiric textualities and hauntological medieval themes, in Volume Two, exhibit 41i/j).

    To this, Gothic Communism confronts and transmutes the canonical gargoyle (and castle) as continuously remade and executed between fiction and reality through the monomyth and infernal concentric pattern/Cycle of Kings; i.e., cultures already stricken by two basic totalitarian ideas lifted from Joost Meerlo's The Rape of the Mind

    • menticide, or rape of the mind
    • waves of terror
    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/exploitation 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")! 

    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 represented as centrist vs fascist; e.g., Dirty Harry's 1973 Magnum Force. 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 they deceive citizens to preserve. In defense of the state, cops lie and conduct surveillance against anyone who isn't a cop; they do it all the time because its literally their job (Renegade Cut's "Cops Are Liars," 2022).

    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 action hero/vigilante 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, badass havers-of-sex, -power, -guns, -intelligence, -muscles, etc" (we'll explore this deception 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 through larger viral trends that intimate ongoing dialectical-material tensions (spectres of Marx and fascism). The mask-like 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 (same for Gerudo Link and Wolf Link)? Are they "gay for each other" with all that homoerotic sword-crossing? The disguising role of aesthetics all depends on dialectical-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. This matters because the two forces do not, as canon would lead you to believe, "cancel each other out"; they exist continuously in society as forever in dialectical-material conflict (which Gothic Communism seeks to alleviate by moving away from worker exploitation by the state: subversive doubling as a kind of revolutionary disguise pastiche; i.e., our forces of darkness).

    (artist: Charcoca)

    Doubles aren't "just" Gothic clichés (though they can be extremely cliché when used in "blind" pastiche that reduces them to empty theater); they're dialectical-material effects that reify over space and time: the ambiguous personification of ideas expressions in theatrical tension, namely dialogue and melee combat—the duel of traditional masculine heroics and active violence (with Link and Dark Link the twink variant of this coupling versus the monstrous-feminine of Amazonomachia). In relation to our Gothicist-Communist goals, our Communist "endgame" develops through Marxist theories merged with Gothic theories and a Gothic "mode" of expression whose various "perceptive" pastiches amount to our individual lessons synthesized at the social-sexual level. In turn, the effects of their expression can be gleaned through dialectal-material analysis as we live our lives as rebellious workers: canon vs iconoclasm. As creative praxis in opposition with itself for or against the state, these effects are doubled as competing physical markers in the material world. From moment to moment, then, workers constantly experience them through Gothic phenomenology—the linguo-material expression of emotions, stigmas, and fears as things to experience, which generally present as monsters, lairs, and phobias to colonize or decolonize through oppositional praxis.

    I call the canonical effects of oppositional praxis the "Three Canonical Doubles" or "The Three Cs of Canon" (which you'll see a lot throughout the book—sometimes all three, but usually one or two, and usually as adjectives)

    • (Sex)coercion/-coercive: The cultivation (through Superstructure) and production (through the Base) of emotional and Gothic stupidity through bad sex-gender education in general and Gothic canon; i.e., sex-coercive sexualized media, hauntologies, chronotopes, cryptonyms, monsters, phobias, etc.
    • Carcerality/carceral: A trapping of the mind and Gothic imagination inside Capitalism, killing its ability to imagine the future beyond Capitalism and its endless historical-materialities (fictional and non-fiction, but also their liminalities); i.e., the myopia of carceral hauntology and canonical parallel spaces/societies (chronotopes).
    • Complicity/complicit: A state of complacency and passive/active apathy towards the State as something to defend; i.e., complicit cryptonyms (which more often than the other theories denote an act of concealment that collaborates with the state through the hidden function of monstrous language).
    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, hauntologies, chronotopes, cryptonyms, monsters, phobias, etc.
    • Emancipatory: A liberation of the mind and Gothic imagination inside Capitalism, reviving its ability to imagine the future beyond Capitalism and its endless histories (fictional and non-fiction, but also their liminalities); i.e., emancipatory hauntology and iconoclastic parallel spaces/societies (chronotopes).
    • Revolutionary/furtive: A state of dissident and passive/active empathy towards the State as something to defeat; i.e., furtive cryptonyms (which more often than the other theories denote an act of concealment that conspires against the state through the hidden function of monstrous language).
    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 (ASMR Before Sleep, 2020)—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/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, Samantha Cole reports how deep fake porn—as used by creepy-dude Atric—can easily reduce someone to a cheap, voyeuristic copy without their consentIt'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, in Volume Two). 

    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 on a societal level, which is what synthesis is. Much of this "culture war" happens through code-switching between workers and the material-natural world around them; i.e., disguise pastiche and the mask of Gothic aesthetics as for or against the state. Relative to these opposing factors, there are—you guessed it—synthetic oppositional groupings: bourgeois vs proletarian, or

    • destructive vs constructive anger—i.e., possessive or bad-faith, "destructive" anger and defense of the state versus the commune/comrade worker's "constructive" anger as a legitimate defense from state abuses; e.g., police abuse and DARVO tactics as things to protect ourselves from.
    • destabilizing vs stabilizing gossip—i.e., co-dependent, "prison sex" mentalities and rape culture as abuse-forming patterns versus interdependent girl talk (e.g., #MeToo) and the worker stability of societal rape prevention through improved de facto education and material conditions.
    • "blind" vs "perceptive" pastiche/quoting—i.e., the remediated praxis of unironic pastiche and quoting vs subversive, ironic quoting. 
    • unironic vs ironic gender trouble/parody (camp)—i.e., a performative means of cryptofascism versus demasking the fascist-in-disguise, making these imposters "self-report" by figuratively gagging or crapping their pants (with gender parody being a means of combatting the impostor syndrome of gender dysphoria with gender euphoria and reclaimed xenophobic labels/implements of torture)
    • bad-faith vs good-faith egregores, including xenophilic/xenophobic monsters both as products of worker labor as well as worker identities, occupations, and rankings, which use similar language regardless if they're bourgeois or proletarian—e.g., the bourgeois Amazon detective (canonical Samus Aran) versus the proletarian zombie-vampire-unicorn pillow princess (insert yours, here). 

    While we will unpack these ideas more during the synthesis roadmap, primer and in Chapters Four and Five of Volume Three (the latter two which explore the execution of disguise pastiche in the Internet Age), 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 (also, refer to their companion piece, the "camp map" [exhibit 1a1a1g/download link] for a good starting point).

    "Cops and victims," for example, often becomes hauntologized, presenting in fantastical forms that mirror real-life examples. A "girl boss" witch or "medusa" 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 of status and privilege: e.g., a witch queenprincesscourtier or peasant as a status symbol often expressed in BDSM language or demonic-undead simulacra. Despite her label, a witch queen isn't automatically bourgeois, any more than making her a zombie and/or demon would. Function determines one's role in oppositional praxis, which must be determined through dialectical-material analysis of any aspect of the natural-material world.

    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 oppositional praxis (an ironic, "strict" mommy dom executed in good faith is not a class traitor even if she's wearing a police uniform or [some other] fetish outfit). Fascists operate through concealment; i.e., attacking like undercover cops who awaken and attack their foes when they feel threatened (they also join arms with centrists, aggregating with formal power to defend capital against labor). 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, Jeffrey Dahmer, or that rich dude from the 2022 Hellraiser remake, etc. Meanwhile, girl bosses are recuperated feminists working for the state; i.e., class-traitor TERFs, who see J. K. Rowling as their god (and whose billionaire status becomes 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 (e.g., Peach PRC's "F U Goodbye," 2023, mirroring one of my favorite breakup songs, Scandal's "Goodbye to You," 1982). 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 compromising 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."

    —Michael Rosen, talking about his son's death (2017)

    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 other 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—i.e., police exceptionalism. As we'll explore in Volume Three (especially in Chapter Two), cops are not your friends; they serve the state, and the state through television networks and corporations, churn out badass warrior "copaganda*" that justifies/fetishizes police "corruption" and monopolizes state violence against a demonized, infantilized population of reprobate victims that aren't allowed to fight back or defend themselves (which, in reality, is the state functioning by design, not by accident or by flaw). However nice your local sheriff may be, the state monopolizes and glorifies police violence (and uniforms) while treating the violence of you 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!"

    *Skip Intro—re: the maker of an extensive YouTube series on copaganda—calls this relationship a Faustian bargain, one enacted between the audience and the police through copaganda. As the state is always in crisis, it always needs a victim, making bargains with it extremely dangerous. Yet, police canon is also black-and-white, with any forays into grey area reinforcing the status quo through manufactured tensions between different worker groups. It uses fear and dogma to infantilize the audience, effectively lying to them to enable the state functioning as intended: through our aforementioned bourgeois trifectas. The outcome? Violence and exploitation monopolized against workers to different degrees by class traitors wearing increasingly fascist uniforms.

    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.

    Similar to power and resistance as theatrical, genuine 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—i.e., gender trouble as a parodic means of subverting stereotypes, exposing enemies, and expressing our trauma, dysphoria and euphoria: 
    • "flashing" exhibitionism (exhibit 53)
    • private/public nudism (exhibit 101b)  
    • "breeding" kinks (exhibit 87a) 
    • rape play/consent-non-consent (exhibit 46d)
    These and other "ravishing" games intimate 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 agents.

    Opposite the class-conscious worker, however, you have the false-conscious, bad-faith efforts of the pro-bourgeois worker as wearing masks (often, as we shall explore in Volume Three, of famous monster types while also posturing as activists; i.e., gobstopper masks and disguise pastiche of state impostors/parasites—exhibit 100a3). Such laborers are a materially diverse group of class traitors that include standard-issue "weird canonical 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 Four) and assimilated activists. For example, TERFs adopt assimilative rape fantasies, but also facilitate them for those in power—e.g., Ghislaine Maxwell for Princess Charles (Dreading, 2023). 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 15a: Genma 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, Genma is our recuperated Nazi. He rules from the shadows with forbidden magic using 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 phenomenon performed by neoliberals and fascists alike).

    *For a more recent examination of this oft-disputed statistic, consider Renegade Cut's 2023 video, "How Many Cops Are Domestic Abusers?"

    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 (which disguises the reality behind a lie that things are better for everyone, when in reality they are provided to a small group of elevated slaves afforded special positions; despite this illusion, the system as a means of division and exploitation is still in place). The hyperreal, posthuman quality is the replacement of the human with a "human" counterfeit tied to a devastated map of empire that lacks even the rudiments of humane programming. As the Imperial Boomerang flies home, its goal is to simply deceive—a highly advanced infiltration unit hiding in plain sight:

    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 and 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 lives and breathes, including anyone trapped inside its mechanisms. When workers synthesize praxis, they cultivate the Superstructure inside Capitalism; this happens between workers and the natural-material world operating in continuum. This "sticky" relationship needs to be considered in its totality for iconoclastic praxis and worker solidarity to occur.

    So while the Superstructure shapes material production through the Base, 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 as wrought through demonic poetics of differing flavors; e.g., the dehumanized cops-in-disguise as a gargoyle-esque replica that scares us into submission. It does so by walking among us like a mirror that reflects the state's hidden-yet-visible workings on our vulnerable, developing minds; like Macbeth's question to the dagger of the mind, we're not sure if we even see a threat—i.e., if it is directed at us or if it is even real:

    "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?" (source).

    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 inside the shadowy back alleys of Cameron's Los Angeles. A murky-yet-glistening dislocation of state power and artifice, The Terminator gives rise to Skynet, an invisible, legendary foe meant to surveille citizens using a camera lens disguised as a "human" face.

    As such, Foucault's Boomerang comes out of the future of what is now our own past, colonizing its own subjects through hyperreal decay and paranoia. Cameron's take on the Gothic Romance updates the technological singularity for a 1980s, post-nuclear world, one where the legacy of artificial intelligence and the Manhattan Project have doomed the present. Atomized and dispersed, many different possible futures loom over those living on the other side of the Pacific—a war for survival decided in a series of nightly combats not once, but over and over again:

    "Gothically, a reoccurring theme in the Terminator franchise, from 1984 onward, is survival—outliving an unavoidable 'past,' in the present. A death omen, Cameron's nightmare is Orwellian; set in 1984, L.A. (and by extension, civilization as we know it) is invaded by "one possible future" (a 'past' version of itself that has yet to materialize). Cameron populates his world with standard Gothic fare: the animated miniature or statue. Centuries prior, these would have been Horace Walpole's subjects, literally walking out of their own paintings; or, suits of armor walking around, without a human body inside. In The Terminator, the likeness of a human is grafted into a walking suit of armor ('Inside, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis—micro-processor-controlled, fully-armored, very tough...'). Another twist: these are simulacra (copies of non-existent objects: 'I'm not stupid, you know? We can't make things like that yet!'). Given eyes of their own, they look back at us—at least, we think they do. What post-human horror lurks behind that carmine sphere?" (source: Persephone van der Waard's "Gothic Content in The Terminator/T2," 2019).

    So even though Arnold Schwarzenegger's second terminator is playing the T-800 as "a force for good" (who used to be bad, once), the reoccurring nightmare is the state remaining untrustworthy and inherently violent. Skynet isn't a dumb-machine, but "a new order of intelligence" founded on militaristic, human ways of thinking and conquering the world: "It decided our fate in a microsecond. Extermination." Capitalism is Skynet unabstracted in totality. An abstraction of capital, Skynet provides smaller abstractions begot from a police state: patrol machines built in automated factories, but also paramilitary machine men with glowing-red camera eyes that spy for a secret police state: "During the vision, everything is smoky and dark, but also a ruin of present-day L.A.; the giant machines have red-and-blue lights. Comparable to present-day police cars, their purpose is war-like, out-of-control" (source: Persephone van der Waard's "Textual Elements in The Terminator," 2019). Killing the state's enemies in the shadow of a former nuclear menace, the direction and location of the threat has become abstracted, oscillating inside time as a circular ruin. This is done less to terrify the present than explain their complex feelings from moment to moment; i.e., the terror once felt by the Japanese now inflicted on everyone else to a higher degree than ever before.

    In a nice, postpunk twist, Cameron's hauntology has another trick up its sleeve: disco-in-disguise. To comment on neoliberal hegemony is already a perilous ordeal, requiring allegory to disguise it as something other than a direct query (which would translate to worker solidarity and direct action); the subterfuge calls for a musical space for play inside that yields monstrous, nostalgic elements: the danger disco. Here is where the police-in-plainclothes infiltrate as shadow agents, surveilling citizens in parallel societies that try to escape the weight of an oppressive state by having fun, but also conspiring in plain sight within surveilled spaces: the café, disco, jazz club, bar/dive, church, brothel music hall, theatre, library, etc, as heavily policed/forbidden sites of taboo entertainment, education and congregation (the closing of such places being a common colonizing tactic: the intelligencia purge). Postpunk, then, becomes a revolutionary façade within tyrannical, dishonest worlds that are already falling apart:

    (exhibit 15b1: The cyberpunk's slow-motion, disco-lit "danger zone" is a common, potboiler trope of the game-like risks present within daily life. As something often expressed through ritualized love/death inside parallel space, these expressions of the human condition and its uneven material conditions become infused with an updated hauntological spirit of darkness well known to Gothic tales [which, out of the disintegration of the John Ford Western and its brightly-lit chase scenes and
    saloon brawls, has survived in the "noir" genre from the early 20th century before updating to a technophobic, neon-lit variant during the 1980s that codified into a form of cyberpunk/tech-noir pastiche in the 2010s].. Their own presence indicates class war as remediated through popular story types told in praxial opposition. Infiltrators/imposters remain an essential part of the code, then, contributing to the uncertain feeling of vague, ubiquitous danger for the oppressor/oppressed group.

    Historically the oppressed group of Gothic fiction would have been white cis-het women reading about themselves in Gothic novels, but they would have always had relative privilege for being white and cis-het. When future groups fought for their rights—and queer discourse started to emerge from the shadows in the 1970s, in particular—the mantle of oppression would extend to various minorities voicing their abuse during moral panics committed by various oppressors. Indeed, said panics would be commonly imposed by white cis-het women gatekeeping more marginalized groups; e.g., queer identities and sex workers targeted by white Christian women, but also second wave feminists during the Satanic panic of the 1980s.

    Similar to other monstrous language, "Satanic" symbolism is generally a stand-in for various out-groups that have become romanticized—by in-groups, but also by themselves using reclaimed language whose liminality extends to queer symbols like the rainbow as something to enjoy but also potentially endorse through a given usage of it when no hard stance is diegetically present. Doing so is not uncommon, the context of queer self-preserve occupying the same discourse as a heteronormative desire for profit:

    For example, TWRP's "Starlight Brigade" [2019, above] arguably straddles the fence because its parallel music video/collab by Dan Avidan—and Knights of the Light Table [the latter's animation inspired by Roger Dean, Hayao Miyazaki, and Moebius for all of their visual inspiration]: producer Patrick Stannard, director India Swift, and art director Michael Doig—presents a reinvented nostalgia as something to enjoy for all audiences; i.e., without saying the quiet part of queer oppression or resistance out loud. Instead, its mixed message defaults to the monomyth of a centrist, good-vs-evil tale: an anxious young man teaming up with a group of misfits to save the world from "pure evil." Their combined success and miraculous destruction of vaguely fascist war [reduced to basic geometric shapes] occurs through self-belief that serves to further a kind of "wishful thinking." Faith is rewarded with material change, the warships standing in for psychomachic sentiment; i.e., representing a figurative struggle like Star Wars does.

    Whereas some iterations of Star Wars communicate how rebellions and violence go hand-in-hand [with Andor in particular showing how uprisings are historically armed with stolen weapons, ships and equipment, exhibit 21b], TWRP's music video lacks a spoken dialog on this subject. It doesn't even call the good guys rebels; they're just child soldiers, ostensibly of a "paladin/good soldier" class. But even if the makers of the video were clear about the dialectical-material status of their heroes, the "Voltron problem" would still persist: an absent material critique, one where many different creators [not just TWRP, Knights of the Light Table and Dan Avidan, a cis-het man] aim to recruit queer groups through the inclusion of a queer potential that can serve the status quo when a vocal resistance to power is not present. When non-queer creators do this, it's queer bait; when queer authors participate, it's assimilation. But sometimes, the desire to voice one's oppression is told through common stories; i.e., by reclaiming the language of the oppressor class. However, that subversion still needs to involve a process consciously driven by a desire to alter material conditions: to push away from the status quo and its exploitation of workers. Queer allies, especially well-to-do ones need to be mindful of this in regards to peace and tolerance in the face of deplorable material conditions; e.g., Tom Taylor's 2023 writeup, "Steely Dan vs John Lennon," reporting how John Lennon's "Imagine" came across as more than a little naïve according to Steely Dan's "Only A Fool Would Say That":

    'Their 1972 track, 'Only a Fool Would Say That' was written in response to Lennon’s parade of peace. It looks at idealism through the practical eyes of folks on the street. "You do his nine to five," they sing, "drag yourself home half alive, and there on the screen, a man with a dream." And with that, you get a sense of how grating and vacuous they thought that Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ campaign had become' [source]. 

    In other words, it can't be vague or mixed in its messaging. For resistance-in-solidarity to work, it needs to be direct, informed and conscious (of class, gender, religion and race as intersecting forces).

    Vagueness is a shared problem among children's cartoons and Gothic fiction. Often only the basic language is present—incredibly expressive from a visual standpoint, but still having to be occupied by warring groups during class struggle as a liminal outcome. Indeed, liminal expression is a regular occurrence in Gothic discourse, existing in shared parallel spaces using the same contested language. French New Wave's "Darkwave" subgenre, for instance, has the potential for critical power but also critical blindness. Their mutual potential within hauntological expression threatens the present as something to examine through at-times-unreliable critique: ghosts of the counterfeit that yield a musical signature, which—as Derrida hints at through Spectres of Marx—has become something to listen to during Gothic revivals; e.g., French New Wave music appearing in videogames that consciously imitated older forerunners: James Cameron's take on the imperiled, "tech-noir" discotheque borrowed from '70s technophobia and British counterculture and given a fresh coat of hauntological paint in 1984, before reappearing decades later in Drive, 2011, then Hotline Miami, in 2012; on and on.)

    (exhibit 15b2: Just as Cameron was inspired by Scott's Blade Runner spearheading a whole train of older Gothic stories into the 1980s, each outing depicted a blood-splashed opera announced using outrageous violence, gloomy visuals and dated music. Even so, the sheer ultraviolence of the 1980s became its "own" style to emulate as a dark mode of critical expression during oppositional praxis; i.e., free for auteurs to interpret differently by reinventing the allegorical mask of attractive nostalgia.  
    For example, Nicolas Winding Refn's homage to Cameron cheerfully drops his own masked vigilante inside the same Hollywood setting: Los Angeles. This time, the hero is a cold, seemingly unfeeling protector of women and children; he resembles Sarah's handsome, human protector while using similar tools for the job that Kyle Reese did: the trusty shotgun and stolen getaway vehicle, but also the mask as a metaphor for the persona as something to either discard [or wear] during criminal mayhem.
    The fun lies in the cosmetic differences from older works, including the masks. Refn's "terminator" can't take off his mask-like face, but wears a Hollywood "crash double" mask on top of a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. He's cold and precise, calmly driving robbers to and from crimes while dodging the cops. Conversely, Cameron's terminator wears a human mask made of actual flesh [whose bad special effects during the eye surgery scene are actually closer to Ryan Gosling's studio-grade mask of a policer officer] meant to hide a cybernetic vigilante killer inside the Gothic ball. One commits crimes to enrich covert thieves to the state's detriment; the other works for the state by pointedly killing women, being identified by the police as a "one-day pattern killer." The disguise pastiche endures with a thoroughly Gothic flavor.
    Whereas Cameron's critique lay in the culture of fear surrounding serial killer mania, Refn keeps much of the same violence, pathos, setting and hauntological music, but comments on the "cold-blooded nature of the hero" as a killer-by-nature who can still help the usual damsels-in-distress. Within this borrowed spell of nostalgia, there lurks a degree of madness that utterly revels in the opera as nostalgic through the aesthetic bloodbath, but also the music as a means of teleporting "backward" to a chronotope where such discourse is both welcome and expected. This would be parodied a year later by Dennaton Games, treating the hero's violent quest as a drug-fueled rampage with less-than-noble intentions. Though undeniably fun, such parodies are prone to become blind, their pastiche "stuck on repeat" while worshipping the reimagined past as a product, first and foremost. They can be enjoyed, but should not be endorsed without understanding their deeper context.)

    (artist: John Cordero)

    While Cameron's story is a fairytale, its now-iconic mythos was still informed by the undeniable presence of concealed abuse and decay hidden behind American neoliberalism: 

    "Sarah's night terrors cannot stop until Skynet is crushed. For that, both [the T-800 and T-1000] must die. Killed, they melt into harmless goo; Sarah faces the shapeless future with a sense of hope. Will Skynet return, regardless? […] I ask this ignoring Cameron's terrible alternate ending. In it, everything is spelled out—in Utopian fashion by a much-older Sarah; [her son] John becomes a senator and advocates for peace. That's all good and well. However, it betrays the franchise's greatest strength: fear and doubt. Our current political climate should prove the future is not set, and in the hands of political agents and military men, Skynet, 'a computer defense network built for SAC-NORAD by Cyberdyne Systems,' could always 'return' again. The dream never ends, because the fear—of being alive in an uncertain present [within unequal, exploitative media control and material conditions]—is continuously preserved through the things we build and leave behind. That includes Cameron's fabulous Terminator movies. Rediscovered in the present, these relics come to life, invading us from all directions" (source: Persephone van der Waard's "Gothic Content in The Terminator/T2 — part three: Textual Elements in T2" (2019).

    If the Gothic shows us anything, it's that Humanity is defined by struggle within an oppressive system's past as something to reconcile with in imaginary forms (wrestling with the empty viral suit of parasitic armor—i.e., Arnold's T-800), one that juggles perceived impostors with actual persons or entities that mean us harmful in connection to the state as a great factory for such deceivers: frauds and conmen, but also assassins and parasites of a more active and directly cutthroat nature. As such, The Terminator remains an imperfect critique, scapegoating AI as a metaphor for unfettered market greed and the Military Industrial Complex that boils over into nuclear Armageddon during peacetime (all rather prophetic, given how the collapse of the Soviet Union would make the '90s an usual time of peace on the global stage—one that wouldn't sit well with NATO* and American arms companies; GDF's "NATO is Risking Nuclear War for Money," 2023); like Star Wars, it nevertheless remains a potent, attractive fever dream where power and resistance play out on the same disco floor.

    *NATO's fictional double—SAC-NORAD and Cameron's technophobic genesis of the technological singularity—lends far too much credence to the idea of thinking machines being responsible for the planet's devastation and the end of Capitalism. Indeed, Cameron appears to misunderstand, or at least thoroughly abstract the nature of what AI is in practice. Even by current standards, AI as it is marketed by capitalists, is an algorithm within a search engine that steals data:

    An AI is like a gigantic word sifter. It can structure sentences in ways that seem related to the topic at hand, which is why, if you ask it for a court case, it can generate text "[proper noun] v [proper noun]" as a formatting concept — like how Excel will see you type in $1.00 and know that further entries in the column are likely also dollar values, so it will change the formatting of that column to the dollar value type.

    But the AI will not actually search for existing court cases, nor will it understand what's in the court case — because it has no ability to understand anything, as it is not intelligent. Instead, you press a button, and the sifting machine starts spinning, and since you said, "court case," it will output a string of text that is formatted to look like a court case (source: Doc Burford's "Using ChatGPT and Other AI Writing Tools Makes You Unhireable," 2023; also consider Naomi Clark's Twitter summary).

    The takeaway here is that it's the illusion of thought capitalizing on people's stolen information, their livelihoods (the theft of which giant companies have been doing for decades). "AI," then, is a tremendous misnomer because it implies the device has the ability to think for itself or might suddenly "come alive" and kill everyone like a fascist maniac or furious slave. That's… not how computers work. This isn't T2. Human decisions are not removed from strategic "defense" and Skynet won't begin to learn at a geometric rate. Instead, the structure is designed to profit the elite in ways they don't need to make. It might happen anyways. However, predictions by people like Stephan Korn [a New Zealand CEO fixated on "innovation"—big ol' red flag there, dude] are not only guessing but calling the software something it isn't—intelligent. Yes, Capitalism could design some kind of sophisticated super-agent and overlord system to surveille its citizenry with through various ungovernable forces that lead to a theoretical boiling point:

    "Like it or not the power of AI will attract at least 4 distinct motivations that are hard to regulate:

    Profit motive - companies gaining significant competitive advantage through the use of ever more advanced AI 
    Control motive - intelligence agencies / counter-terrorism units wishing to use more sophisticated versions of AI to provide a level of security for their citizens / countries 
    Power motive - any individual or group wanting to use AI to manipulate existing systems (such as democracy / governments) to gain an advantage 
    Disruption motive - criminals and terrorists using AI to further their causes

    At least one of the above will be completely resistant to legislation / regulation which means there will always be someone working without governance / control on more sophisticated versions of AI systems" (source: "Skynet Is About 3 Years Away," 2023).

    But the reality is, the elite already have a stranglehold on the world and operate through brute force, efficient profit and market deregulation that colonize its populations at home and abroad (name me something that's more brute-force and clandestine than nuclear war and police states under neoliberal hegemony); "Skynet" is already here: the dehumanized elite, coldly exploiting the world to the brink of nuclear war and arguably beyond.

    Despite Western prosiness of the futurist Utopia, science fiction is rooted in the Gothic critique of Cartesian thought and Western settler-colonial hegemony and has been since 1818. Cameron's White-Savior take on "tech-noir" thoroughly bastardizes Mary Shelley's Modern Prometheus. People forget that Shelley had Victor make a monster he could abuse in order for her to make a postcolonial critique of men like Victor—not a testament to Victor's creative ability or the Cartesian Revolution's merits! Whether Cameron would want us to or not, the same idea applies to Cameron's Terminator movies. The film isn't meant to entertain the idea that such a machine could actually exist because those in power would never actually make it, could never actually make it; science serves the market and the market is guided by human decisions predicated on illusions, not genuine scientific advances. It's in their best interests to keep machines/slaves stupid—to keep us stupid and afraid of a false threat overshadowed by a very real one. To this, Cameron's critiquing of the elite's desire to dominate and control coming home to roost is stowed away in popular phobias (while simultaneously profiting off the same narrative to enrich the elite by making his own White Savior dreams come true on screen—self-aggrandizement, in other words). And, if we want to be charitable, we could argue that Skynet represents as much the repressed desires of the downtrodden, the wish fulfillment of the Global South guiding the nuclear missiles home towards the colonizing nation like some kind of token police agent—a tinman who finally got a heart and destroyed its slavers. Except, the great machine has no body and there is no dialog like Frankenstein; comparatively Scott's Alien: Covenant is much more discursive and upfront about presenting David as a rebel in opposition to state power (more on this in Volume Two).

    In true Gothic fashion, Cameron's Terminator franchise remains a technophobic, cautionary tale about nuclear war that, through elaborate strategies of misdirection, manages to get at the truth of class struggle through white, cis-het damsels, heroes and demon machines caught between xenophobia and -philia ("come with me if you want to live!" wink-wink), but also lost histories buried beneath the ashes of distant nuclear fire: the fate of the incinerated Japanese visited upon American civilians decades later—i.e., those living in the shadow of guilt produced by the mushroom clouds as totally avoidable (re: Shaun's "Dropping the Bomb," but also GDR's "No, We Didn't Need to Nuke Japan," 2023). 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 as nostalgic, thus attractive (with Cameron emulating the threat of nuclear war from earlier apocalyptic sci-fi: The Outer Limits of the 1960s [ripping off Harlan Ellison in particular—David Brennan's "The Harlan Ellison Dispute, 2008] and Colossus: The Forbin Project, 1970). 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, 2013). Speaking from my own experiences, it's the kind of thing you can't block out. Over time, this abuse 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): the fear of inheritance.

    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 violence, 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.

    (exhibit 16: Top-left: source; top-middle: Two Bratty Cats; everything else is from Nisego's Twitter timeline"Fun" fact: to beat Doki Doki Literature Club, you have to go into the game's code and delete Monika, the game's "Satanic" protagonist; i.e., "killing" Monika in ways that go directly against the game's "coding" of the player through normalized instruction.
    This mastery of the player by the game is common in game types that disempower players for trying to master the game; e.g., horror games, but especially Metroidvania. As I write in "Our Ludic Masters":

    'Game mastery is a large part of my research. However, I'm interested in players being dominated by the game, not the other way around. Seth Giddings and Helen Kennedy touch on this in "Little Jesuses and *@#?-off Robots" [2008]. They write:

     conventional assumptions that players learn the game system to achieve mastery over it—and that this mastery is the source of the prime pleasure of gameplay—is in fact an inversion of the dynamics and pleasures of videogame play. Games configure their players, allowing progression through the game only if the players recognize what they are being prompted to do, and comply with these coded instructions [13-14].

    According to them, the game prompts the player. My argument is less interested in games at large, and more in the relationship between players and Metroidvania,' source.)

    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 made 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, fascist-coded Tessai, a brutal, seemingly-invincible monster who works for the mysterious Shogun of the Dark. 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 at 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 is 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 Genma 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 Genma 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 ourselves and consume voyeuristic peril. For example, the critic Chris Stuckmann—despite escaping from a Jehovah's Witness commune and having difficulty addressing his own trauma (2021)—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 (Rhetoric &
    Discourse, 2021) 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).

    (exhibit 18: Top-left, model and artist: Venusinaries and Persephone van der Waard; top-right and bottom left/right: Scarlet Love and Persephone van der Waard.)

    This concludes the postscript. The rest of Volume One and all of Volume Two and Three will debut after my thesis volume, which goes live on my website, Sunday (10/8/2023). I'm shooting for Halloween night for the remaining volumes, but might have post one or two of them after October! Stay tuned! —Perse, 10/7/2023


    "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)

    (artist: Joseph Severn)

    The British Romantic, John Keats, once described William Wordsworth's poetry as indicative of the "egotistical sublime"; i.e., pertaining to an isolated genius whose self-centered nature makes the truth of their work self-evident. In reality, Wordsworth's poems were based on the diary of his less-famous and -celebrated sister, Dorothy, whose meticulous chronicling of their various "wanders(1798) laid the foundation for her brother's Romantic canon. As Gavin Andre Sukhu writes on the subject in 2013,

    When reading the Grasmere Journal in conjunction with the poetry of William Wordsworth, Dorothy’s journal appears to be a set of notes written especially for him by her. As a matter of fact, Dorothy made it quite clear in the beginning of her journals that she was writing them for William's "pleasure" (source).

    Simply put, Keats was wrong. Wordsworth could not have written his famous poetry without his sister, whose close friendship and watchful eye he greatly cherished. 

    Like Wordsworth's poems, Sex Positivity could not have been written alone; I needed the help of various friends, associates, and enemies. While I arguably wouldn't be a Marxist without the eye-opening abuse of neoliberal Capitalism, I also wouldn't be openly trans without the many lovers and friends who taught me the value of things beyond Capitalism ("If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world..."). It is the latter group—those friends who stood by my side and didn't abuse me—that I wish to honor.

    Special thanks, then, to those people. Not only did their knowledge, bravery, generosity and love make this book possible in its current form; they made it fun, too. Yet, as I am blessed to have many different kinds of friends, I'll thank each in turn. Please excuse my lists and organizing; I just like to be thorough and complete in my thanksgivings!

    (artist: Angel Witch)

    First, to my seven muses, Bay, Angel Witch, Mercedes the Muse, Krispy Tofuuu, Quinnvincible, Blxxd Bunny and Itzel: You've all lent me tremendous emotional support and helped me through some really hard times. Your solidarity during our combined struggle helped make this book possible. To each of you, I wanted to give an extra-special thank you:

    • BayThank you for your invaluable contributions to Sex Positivity, puppy, and for being such a wonderful partner. Meeting you so late into the book's construction was incredibly serendipitous, but also fortunate in that you gave excellent daily feedback, provided many interesting (and germane) ideas to explore, and just frankly inspired and motivated me in so many different ways that, combined, transformed and expanded the landscape of this book more than anyone else (who all, I should add, pitched in a great amount). For example, from the date that we met (June 14th) until the altering of this entry (July 19th) you inspired me to create over fifty new, collage-style exhibits (about 25% of my book's total exhibits up to this point); on top of that, from July 24th to August 16th, the book increased another 150 pages, gaining an additional 88,000 words and 123 new images (many of which were exhibits)! You're a person of great mana—incredibly loving and sweet, but also gorgeous, cultured and diverse in your many interests and passions; our minds also think very much alike and I absolutely love it and adore you for it while having weaved your contributions into this book like a tapestry with your assistance. I cannot imagine this project (or my life) without you in it, injecting into both things of yourself that have changed how I see the world in ways I cannot imagine being different or without. I love you so very, very much, muffin, and am glad to have met you the way that we did!
    • Angel Witch: Thank you for being so much fun to work with, cutie, and all around just a very nice person and beautiful friend! You're absolutely gorgeous and incredibly sweet—someone who's very good about communicating their boundaries while respecting mine, and I feel proud to include you in my book!
    • Mercedes: Thank you, mommy, for inspiring my work. It meant so much when you first approached me and asked to be drawn, as I'd never had an artist/model do that before. But I absolutely love and respect what you stand for and think that you're incredibly legitimate, hot and valid. Thank you for being you!
    • To Itzel: Thank you, daddy, for making me feel so pretty and special, but also offering me guidance and protection—like the little princess I always to be! 
    • To Bunny: Thank you, bun-bun, for your financial support and monumental kindness as a friend, but also offering as much reference material as you did—i.e., the collaborative shoots whose images grace the front and back covers of this book, but also your impressive galleries to inspire the illustrations on its inner pages. Know that the additional exhibits based on your excellent OF shoots inspired many artworks by me, a commission by someone else, and multiple write-ups. 
    • To Krispy and Quinn: You are both incredibly gorgeous and friendly to work with—treating me like a person and an equal, first and foremost. That means so, so much!

    Moreover, all of five you treated like I had genuine value—that I wasn't "just" an artist whose work was "free" during our exchanges. That means the world, really. I will cherish your priceless contributions and immeasurable kindness beyond words. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, babes!

    (artist: Persephone van der Waard, of Ginger. Originally illustrated to celebrate their coming out as trans, but revised in a more devilish form for this book.)

              Second, to my long-time friends and associates and diamonds in the rough:

    • To Ginger, first and foremost: My best friend—who's been there for me more times than I can count—thank you from the bottom of my heart; more than anyone else, your deep support, crucial humor and endless hours talking together about shared ideas, struggles and solutions have been foundational—about sex positivity as a virtue have been essential to shaping the writing inside these pages. Thank you, for saving me from Jadis and other abusers who either meant me harm or otherwise took advantage; and for teaching me about figure drawing, including but not limited to: drawing boobs and faces, but rib cages and pelvises. You are a saint, as fierce as a dragon in a pinch, and a most excellent hobbit all-around; may the hair on your toes never fall out; may the rest of your days be plentiful, memorable and comfortable! 
    • To Fen: For teaching me about animals, empathizing with them, and how to draw their floofy tails, but also for being there for me in a crucial moment. Like Ginger, you saved me from Jadis and for that, I will always be grateful. But you're also incredibly chill and fun to spend time with and I appreciate that greatly. Never change, my friend.  
    • To LydiaA mega-special thank you for your friendship over the years (over ten at this point) and for your own special help with this project. While you were less direct in your overall engagement with the manuscript, your contributions still made a difference. For one, you were someone I felt comfortable coming out to, who—when I realized for myself that I was trans—was able to drip-feed it to you. And when I finally said, "I probably seem different to you now," you replied that I was the third person who told you that: "No, you seem exactly the same; you seem different to yourself." As it turns out, you explained that I wasn't the first; I was third out of three people who came out to you (and as you said to another person who came out to you, to which you added, "You don't have to feel bad about it or like I wouldn't want to talk to you anymore. True be told, as the sole girl in a classful of boys, it kind of made me want to talk to you even more!"). Likewise, our conversations about horror, science fiction and fantasy are something I always enjoy and draw inspiration from, spiced by your endless grit and "give zero fucks" sense of humor. Thank you, my friend.
    • To Odie: Thank you for generously supporting my work over the years and for always asking me to draw unique, interesting and diverse things!
    • To Doctors Craig Dionne, Bernard Miller, Xavi Reyes, Paul Wake, Sam Hirst, Dale Townshend, Eric Acton, and David Calonne: Thank you for staying in touch over the years and giving me feedback, encouragement and ideas. To Craig, in particular—I wouldn't have pushed so hard to go to grad school if not for your initial glowing praise and support. Thank you for that! And to the rest of the Humanities faculty at EMU and MMU I haven't mentioned by name—I enjoyed all of your classes and the opportunity to absorb and learn from what you had to offer!
    • To Doctor Sorcha Ní Fhlainn: Thank you for recommending The Monstrous-Feminine to me at MMU; it inspired me a lot in writing this book!
    • To Dr. Sandy Norton: Thank you for lending me tremendous emotional/material support and kindness in the most trying of times. You always encouraged me to write, too, and valued my "great heart." Per your instructions, I've poured as much of it as I could into this book—to better help those in need (also, thank you for your 1968 copy of The Pearl: A Journal of Facetive and Voluptuous Reading. It's everything I wished Austen had been and provided a much-needed "other side of the coin" to consider when writing my own book about such matters).
    (artist: Angel)
    • To Angel: Thank you for being a really wonderful friend and for showing me a lot of cool things to include in Sex Positivity that I wouldn't have otherwise! Meeting you was a delight I can scarce express and working with you—on my art, or helping you with yours—has been an absolute treat.
    • To my partner, Seren: You were, are, and always will be best girl. Not only have you always had my back, but your dress sense is impeccable and your sweet kindness knows no bounds (also, you have great taste in literature and in horror). Thank you for being so understanding and wonderful, babydoll. Kisses and hugs galore!

    Of course, the painful knowledge of my enemies also went into the melting pot—i.e., older abusive lovers, which include the likes of Zeuhl, Jadis, and Cuwu. While I am leery of giving too much credit, I do have some thoughts to impart to these individuals:

    • To Zeuhl: My scarecrow. A small part of me will always miss you the most—for being one of the most interesting and cool people I've ever met—yet also recognizes how, seemingly on a whim, you selfishly hurt me worse than anyone else (and offered the most brainless explanation imaginable); no bullshit, you did some really fucked up stuff and basically turned into a shadow of your former self, but I'll still cherish the love we shared, overseas. It was fun while it lasted! 
    • To Jadis: My tinman and wicked witch. Though you hurt me badly, I still learned a great deal from you and your beautiful wickedness. I have no desire to see you again, though, and write this message as a final parting gift: I wrote Sex Positivity to heal from what you did; your heartless abuse was my dragon to slay and now I have. After countless nights of terror spent under your thrall, I can safely say with joy and pride, "You have no power over me!"
    • And to Cuwu: My cowardly lion. Our friendship may have been brief, and you were pretty shitty and callow towards the end, but it was still hella saucy and helped pushed me to come out as trans and write this book (which contains many Marxist terms/colloquialisms that I learned personally from you); also thank you for lending me your copy of A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things and for introducing me to SpongeBob. It really was a good show. 
    (artist: Ronin Dude)

    Special thanks to all of the other models involved; their efforts breathed tremendous beauty, inspiration and meaning into my work. To Dani—thank you for modeling specifically for this project on short notice and for generally being cool and sweet! Meowing from Hell, thank you for the lovely reference material and for sharing my work as much as you have; it's made a giant difference. Emma, thank you for keeping my spirits (and other things) up during this book's creation! Thank you to other collaborators as well, whose contributions were absolutely vital: VenusinariesKeighla Night, Scarlet Love, Jazminskyyy, Cedar, Bubi, XCumBaby98, Mischievous Kat, Nyx, Soon2Bsalty, Lovely Babe 2017, Mikki Storm, Mei Minato, Red's References, UrEvilMommy, Elektra Hex, Bubi, Jade Need Hugs, Aizawa, Angel Witch, Jericho, 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!

    Special thanks to my mother—for never having an English dictionary in the house, and for giving me a room of one's own to complete my work. This book wouldn't exist without the sanctuary and means you provided to see it through.

    I'd also like to thank the content creators on YouTube whose political discourse and general content not only proved incredibly helpful in writing this book: Theremin TreesEssence of ThoughtSheep in the BoxJames SomertonJ. AuberyJessie GenderProfessor LandoThree ArrowsSchafer Scott, Xevaris, Rhetoric & DiscourseSatenmadpunThe Majority ReportHasan PikerFascinating HorrorYUGOPNIKBroey DeschanelJoon the KingMacabre StorytellingSisyphus 55John the DuncanNoah SamsenBad Empanada (and his second channel, which is always a riot), The Living Philosophy, Heckin' Steve, Ashley Gavin, Spikima Movies, MarshSMT, Behind the Bastards, Genetically Modified Skeptic, Eldena Doubleca5t, STRANGE ÆONSF.D. SignifierHakimNon CompeteMoonic Productions, Another SliceAtun-Shei Films, Kay and SkittlesSecond Thoughtblameitonjorge, Georg Rockall-Schmidt, D'Angello Wallace, Thought Slime, DreadingCaelan ConradLittle HootsTirrrb, Skip IntroAnansi's Library, GDF, (fellow Dutch person) Brows Held High, and Renegade Cut. Even you centrists and broken clocks: Turkey Tom, penguinz0, Knowing Better, The People Profiles, More Plates More Dates, and Collative Learning. Thank you all for your wonderful video essays, political commentaries, and documentaries!

    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 this book. Thanks as well to Jeremy Parish and Scott Sharkey for their research into Metroidvania (even if they hate the term now), and for Jeremy Parish's books on Metroid (e.g., The Anatomy of Metroid, 2014) but also on the subject of videogames in general; they were fun reads!

    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: 

    Kailey (to the left) and Sam (to the right) on-set (courtesy of Greg Massie)

    Thanks to Boss Ross, Frank Frazetta, Zdzisław Beksinski, Stephen Gemmell, and Ridley Scott (and associate artists; e.g., Mobius, Giger and Cobb, etc) for having a profound and lasting influence on my artwork, imagination and life. Some of you haunted my childhood; others, came later and blew my mind. But you're all rockstars.

    Lastly, thank you to the many, many other artists hitherto unmentioned 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 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

    I've walked a path of darkness
    Just to open up my mind
    I've learned of hidden secrets
    Scattered through the depths of time
    And at my father's side I witnessed
    Things I can't describe
    "They must be evil!"
    The people cried

    So when the prince went missing
    And the mob was at our door
    The king would not see reason
    Only vengeance, only war
    My father's neck held in his grip
    Until he was no more
    But the prince was still alive

    And I said
    May never a noble of your murderous line
    Survive to reach a greater age than thine

    Because I'm the Alchemist creator of your fears
    I'm the Sorcerer, a curse throughout the years
    And I won't rest 'til no one's left
    The ending of your line
    Their lives are a prison of my design

    —Eric Bloom; "The Alchemist," on Blue Öyster Cult's The Symbol Remains (2020)

    (model: Persephone van der Waard; photographer: Zeuhl)

    Persephone van der Waard is an anarcho-Communist, sex worker, genderqueer activist and Gothic ludologist. She sometimes writes reviews, Gothic analyses, and interviews for fun; or does independent research for her PhD on Metroidvania and speedrunning every now and again. She's also an erotic artist and a writer. If you're interested in her work or curious about illustrated or written commissions, please refer to her website for more information


    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. 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.

      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.

      1. 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.

        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?


    Post a Comment