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Book Sample: "Brace for Impact: Some Prep When Hugging the Alien"

This post opens "Brace for Impact," another book sample for my upcoming monster volume (rough ETA, mid-2024) and one that follows up the previous book sample, "Psychosexual Martyrdom" (2024).

Note: "Brace for Impact" is actually a full module that divides into over thirteen pieces (
clocking in at ~85,000 words, ~209 pages, ~139 images, and sixteen new exhibits). "Hugging the Alien" is the first chapter; "Time," the second; "Teaching" (the opening), the third; "Medicine," the fourth; "Facing Death," the sixth. The others are actually too erotic to feature uncensored on Blogger, so I will be posting them on my (18+) website, instead. Click here to see the promo post for the entire sample module and links to all thirteen pieces.

Abstract: "Hugging the Alien" introduces a concept of reunion with nature as alien and fetishized, requiring us to "hug Medusa" (the monstrous-feminine) as the classic punching bag of Cartesian forces (the abusive husband battering Nature as his bride-under-duress): something never anywhere near so awful to merit its own destruction by state defenders. This post will introduce the module's basic idea; the subsequent posts will be gradually released over the next week or so (see above). After that, I plan to release one more sample essay from Volume Two before its release later in 2024: "Derelicts and Giger's Xenomorph; i.e., the Puzzle of 'Antiquity.'"

(artist: Poisonne)

About my book: My name is Persephone van der Waard and I am currently writing and illustrating a non-profit book series on sex positivity and the Gothic. Made in collaboration with other sex workers, the project is a four-volume set called Sex Positivity versus Sex Coercion, or Gothic Communism: Liberating Sex Workers under Capitalism through Iconoclastic Art. As of 2/14/2024, my thesis volume and manifesto volume are available online (the other volumes shall release over the remainder of 2024). To access my live volumes, simply go to my website's 1-page promo and pick up your own copies for free. While you're there, you can also learn about the yet-unreleased volumes, project history and logo design/promo posters!

Brace for Impact: Some Prep When Hugging the Alien

"The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim" (source).

—Gustav Le Bon's The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895) 

Just as the Humanities are endless, complicated and focused on imagination, the liminal hauntology of war is constant. We must interrogate this crisis carefully and with poetic license, which requires me familiarizing you—through four stages of prep—with monsters as devices that can be useful to developing Communism; i.e., beyond just saying "monsters are poetic lenses" and spouting theory (academics are often terrible teachers). Before we do, I'll want to introduce you to a poetic device that encompasses all of them: "hugging the alien"; i.e., nature as fetishized and alien to us, therefore something we must learn through liminal expression to hug and humanize, not to kill and rape (re: "to take power away from in order to cause harm") because it seems "unhuggable": some degree of fearsome, violent and (often) gross per the ghost of the counterfeit, but fascinatingly so.

(exhibit 33b2b: There's far too many analogs for the alien as something to squeeze, but here's several fun ones to help you acclimate to the abjection process: the presence of death, decay and disintegration linked to an unheimlich—often a buried guilt, secret shame or some-such trauma-as-impostor overspilling generationally to overwhelm the present moment as trapped inside the home as alien; i.e., in between that which is desirable and not—a profoundly difficult thing to face that, like Radcliffe's closed space, waits patiently in the central chamber to be unveiled and embraced, but like Lewis' necromantic and genderqueer predisposition, is prone to fall apart just as quickly in order to shock/disgust the crosser of the Black Veil's forbidden threshold. Gothic push-pull [oscillation] becomes something to canonize or camp to varying degrees, then—a memento mori but also a death, murder and/or rape fantasy whose ill omen is communicated in classic horror works that survive in present-day forms.)

There's clearly a poetically indulgent human element to monsters as they exist in the real world, which means we'll have to interrogate it as I teach you how to think critically about the human condition as monstrous, meaning "alien" as something to hug and embrace as human; i.e., like a Gothicist, a poet, a slut, based on my experience of and expertise in the Humanities. This includes novels, movies and videogames, but also art more broadly as performative through shared ideas gleaned in one medium and passed along all of them over space and time:

(exhibit 33b2c: For example, the phrase "hugging the alien" actually comes from Mega Man 2 [1988] speedrunners [Summoning Salt's "The History of Mega Man 2 World Records," 2024; timestamp: 8:25] who—fighting Wily's illusory machine as pitting a perceived alien against the player [an echoing of Plato's cave of shadows]—don't want to hug the alien because it damages them and slows down their ability to police rebels through race-like violence. The neoliberal Cold-War refrain [videogames] have a "secret" military function, one of ceaseless military optimism while chasing monsters through occupied labyrinths that abuse the monomyth to funnel power towards the state; i.e., by humanizing the cop as fundamentally inhumane. 
Except, despite Capcom's franchised copaganda being problematic, we can still take the basic premise—the man behind the curtain—and invert it, flowing power towards workers by hugging the alien using said illusions ourselves. As such, we negotiate power and trauma as things to perform and play with in ways that assist workers—by not turning little boys into robot killers chasing the alien as a largely imaginary affair with ghastly historical-material results: megadeath, thus profit [moving money through nature-as-cheap] through fear and dogma making class traitors scared of themselves, thus more inclined to harvest them anywhere and everywhere once the state decays by design.
The praxial moral, here, is liberatory confusion; i.e., the senses are not trustworthy but with the proper structure [and lack of scruples] can be weaponized against workers by the state. This becomes something to reverse—all part of a larger dialectic [of the alien] that needs to be confused to liberate our raped minds from; i.e., all the predatory forms criminalizing workers, thus sanctioning state violence against them. The violence becomes an echo, something to repeat, but also shift away from itself through likenesses that expose the men behind the curtain of the curtain as shamelessly profiting through Gothic shams; i.e., through Cartesian thought as internalized by the next generation.)

All in all, I live the Humanities as a ludo-Gothic means of thinking inclusively about and experiencing the Gothic first-hand (an ongoing relationship the Gothic deliberately combines—an affect); i.e., BDSM or otherwise, people work through preference and experimentation to issue public statements that are, to some degree, coded. Monsters are code for the dialectic of the alien (us versus them) as taught to us through canon, power being made to flow in one direction when faced with trauma as a historical-material effect: the ghost of the counterfeit waiting patiently for revenge (state shift). The horror of the Gothic, then, is when it truly comes alive, ceasing to be a pure fiction but a nightmare that applies to us as victims of the state cannibalizing us. History repeats itself; through me, patterns start to emerge, which you can take and run with when "hugging the alien" yourself. It becomes your Aegis to paralyze state illusions with, reversing the process of abjection among the middle class as preying on state enemies, sharing their fear.

"Whoever can supply [the masses] with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim." Except, Le Bon's grim assessment is a tad premature, insofar as it entirely discounts the potential for proletarian illusions to humanize those ordinarily victimized when breaking state spells to begin with. This requires internalizing a tendency to embody the alien as something to investigate through itself as normally prescribed. The means of doing so helps reclaim the illusion as an educational device teaching workers empathy with Gothic fetishes and clichés; i.e., to play and perform at all registers (diegetic, para and meta) using all media forms: wanting to a) fuck and hug the alien (the proverbial "weirdest boner") as perceived among their fellow workers and nature at large, and b) recognize the true predators weaponizing fight-or-fight among them—the elite and their dutifully rapacious[1] servants. The end game is a world without sin as a canonical device meant to engender systemic, dogmatic harm; i.e., weird canon endlessly harvesting nature-as-fetish-and-alien at home and abroad.

(artist: Alex Ahad)

At a presentation level, Gothic Communism reduces to one central goal: illustrating mutual consent as an educational device—i.e., one that makes rape[2] of the alien impossible on a cultural level; but doing so requires humanizing the alien through iconoclastic engagement with dogma as something to break (and along with it, Capitalist Realism). Our aim is to go "there and back again"; i.e., in and out of Hell as a pedagogy and lifestyle to invoke the alien with during liminal expression, albeit at cross purposes. Capitalism gentrifies rape and war through various refrains, monopolies and trifectas; Gothic Communism pushes back against these by contributing to a pedagogy of the oppressed any way it can.

In short, we want to hug the alien, therefore contribute to a pedagogy of the oppressed by synthesizing praxis, invoking the dialectic of the alien to confront and interrogate trauma (and power) as something to perform and play with; i.e., ludo-Gothic BDSM as a potent means of embodying likenesses among differences, its dark theatricalities ushering intersectional solidarity in by humanizing monsters as de facto (extracurricular) teaching devices: to be more creative and poetic as a means of attaining praxial catharsis, collectively illustrating mutual consent thereby raising emotional/Gothic intelligence and class/cultural awareness, mid-struggle. Catharsis amounts to reversing the flow of power away from the state (and its powerful illusions) through our daily interrogations.

Capitalism uses fear and dogma to claim ownership over all things and alienate workers from their labor as something to sexualize; in turn, state proponents will try to alienate us from the very things that can set workers free: violence, terror and poetic expression—the Gothic, essentially. And we must take it back using the same devices in opposition (dialectical materialism). Things will seem weird, backwards, and confusing to you; they will require strange sacrifices that fly in the face of reason and protocol, leaving you breathless. Egon says, "Don't cross the streams!" Well, his work was doo-doo. That's exactly what we're gonna do!

This concludes "Hugging the Alien"; onto "Time"! After that, check out my website for the uncensored samples!

[1] The arbiters of state force, cis-het and token enforcers, become alienated from nature as something to love and nurture through mutual consent as taught by workers of nature. In response, weird canonical nerds can only reject such tutelage, thus only rape Medusa; i.e., harvesting her materials and labor (as raw profit value) for the state. We must first incapacitate them with Athena's Aegis (our bodies, labor and knowledge) and gradually foster empathy among them; i.e., using Gothic poetics to shrink the state, taking away its ability to marshal/aggregate their soldiers against us: labor action and propaganda (the Base and Superstructure). Per my arguments, this occurs during liminal expression, insofar as any media type wrestles between the canonical function/monopolizing of power as something to flow towards the state; the inverse is also true, both existing through agitated confusion as class/culture war fought using Gothic poetics inside the same shadow zone—as something to canonize or camp.

For example, speedrunners can be used for workers or the state, but must always contend with capital (from Volume One):

Power is a performance that upholds through the perception of impossible things like total control, endless enemies, ultimate strength or absolute victory through kayfabe reversals. The same goes for containment, whose paradox of total imprisonment our thesis discussed in relation to videogames as breakable; i.e., how speedrunning and spoilsport gaming attitudes normally contain tremendous invention that canonically restrict the development and execution of emergent puzzle-solving to single texts in gaming culture, versus applying that mentality to reconfigure larger extratextual structures; e.g., Coincident's "Doom Strategy Guide - Okuplok's Mancubus Cliff" (2023) treating player invention more as a hobby on par with a Rubik's cube—or hell, a human beating Tetris (1985) for the first time in its 38-year existence (aGameScout's "After 34 Years, Someone Finally Beat Tetris," 2024)—versus escaping Capitalist Realism by playing videogames (and other such experiments) in ways that resist the profit motive within the neoliberal era (with organized speedrunning arguably having started in 1990, just before the fall of the Soviet Union). The puzzle is ostensibly impressive, but the much-touted "progress" of solving it becomes an empty gesture insofar as liberating worker minds is concerned. Doing so has no effect on the external world unless the attitude for solving complicated puzzles through emergent gameplay is deliberately taken outside of the text. Otherwise, the hauntology (and its canceled future) are entirely self-contained (source).

So while I respect the ability of speedrunners to collectively solve complex puzzles (enough to use their idea for my own purposes), we must take Gothic Communism outside of any text as close-read—to develop emergent gameplay as a praxial effect; i.e., the universalizing of empathy towards monstrous parties alienated and fetishized by the state through franchised neoliberal copaganda (videogames); e.g., Mega Man 2, but also Super Metroid (1994): Samus steals life force vampirically from native fauna as something to "race through"; she steals gear and equipment from preexisting habitats occupied by pirates, attacking and killing wild-animal monsters (Mama Shrimp and Mother Brain) before being saved by an adopted monster baby she stole from the Metroid Queen. In the end, Samus routinely disrobes and surrenders her pilfered gear to the Galactic Federation, going endlessly back in to play the guerilla infiltrator—killing all enemies and looting all items, effectively clearing all rooms before destroying the crime scene. This cycle is called "Capitalism," or moving money through nature.

[2] Rape is something of a paradox: a conscious attack made by those capable of performing it, but also a conditioned one; i.e., animals can't rape, because it requires both a power imbalance and understanding of one's actions; e.g., a baby or a chimpanzee can't rape a human woman, but a precocious 12-year-old could rape a disempowered old woman, or a child could rape an infant, etc. It might seem morbid, but understanding how rape works is vital to preventing it by putting it in quotes. For example, a common dialog is rape as a secret shame lived by many people through various theatrical clichés, which have BDSM potential we'll explore more thoroughly later in the volume: "princess" as "damsel"; i.e., pillow princess, warrior princess, detective/demon princess—in kayfabe, but also ludo-Gothic BDSM at large; e.g., fairytale language (from Volume One):

Fairytales classically consider a child's confrontation with an adult world, oscillating between innocent, asexual depictions of idyllic bliss faced with troubling positions of monarchist authority and force: the parental figure, often portrayed as saintly or wicked while compelling the child's coming-of-age to fulfill a sexually reproductive role within a crumbling homestead (source).

Again, the idea is to go there and back again; re: in and out of Hell as a pedagogy and lifestyle to operatically invoke the alien with during liminal expression. To that, the Metroidvania (and videogames at large) canonically function as war simulators; but this role isn't universal, nor the power inside monopolized exclusively for the state. Workers and counterterror can reclaim such spaces (and likenesses in other media forms) to relay information useful to workers synthesizing praxis in opposition to state hegemony.


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.