“I want my hobbies back,” by kiriamaya (The Fan Meta Reader)
Gone are the days when I could just plop myself down in front of the computer, start typing away, and have the basic skeleton for a playable game in less than an hour. Now, whenever I try to make a game, I get so concerned with trying to make everything “good” (by mainstream market standards) that I end up not making anything at all. Same with all of my attempts to write fiction, or music.

I hate this. I want my hobbies back.
fannish  personal  * 
7 hours ago
“Fandom in/as Contact Zone,” by tea-and-liminality (The Fan Meta Reader)
Historically, we’ve thought of fandom as community/ies – virtual places where people share – enthusiasm, ideas, passion, interests, etc. Something they have in common, and it’s the commonality that binds them. In academic literature, it’s not uncommon to see fandom theorized as “imagined communities,” which is an idea borrowed from the political scientist Benedict Anderson.

An imagined community, as used in fan studies, emphasizes the sense of collective belonging, of a shared vocabulary, values, language – interests – that exceeds face-to-face interactions. And there’s probably no fan that hasn’t felt that way when they’ve stumbled onto a group of people who are talking about something they love in ways that they’ve been thinking or feeling about it all along. I don’t think it’s wrong to think of fandom as imagined community, but what I do think is that, in conceiving of fandom as community, we kind of favor the utopian side of communities (camaraderie, friendship, passion, a sense of being in something together, you and me against the rest of the world, etc.).

But what’s critical to keep in mind, I think, when talking about fandom as community – and something that a return to Anderson’s idea brings into relief – is that Anderson was originally talking about how nationalism happens (the full title of the book, in fact, is Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism). And – think about it. Camaraderie, friendship, loyalty, shared values, a sense of being in something together – people literally kill for that stuff. We’re sometimes even prepared to be beasts to other people – people who don’t fit inside our groups, our communities – if it will strengthen our own sense of connectedness with others (who amongst us hasn’t ever engaged in gossip, not because you’re an intrinsically horrible person, or because you want to bring someone down, but simply because that shared moment of affinity is so alluring?). (Or maybe that’s just me.)

When fandom was in closed – or close-able – settings, and I’m thinking especially of Yahoo! Groups (my own first online fandom, back in 2000) and LiveJournal, I think it was a relatively straightforward thing to create and maintain a sense of community. Regular contributors got to know each other, certain standards of communication were slowly set into place and adhered to, like minds met like minds and differences, in the main, I think were generally kept localized and limited because participants were more or less coming from roughly the same place. I’m generalizing, of course, but this is my own experience of fandom in those days, and when communities did break down – and they did (Doggett OMG John Doggett) – they tended to do so spectacularly with no hope of reconciliation; in a nation-state sense, this would be the kind of thing that splintered one large nation into smaller ones, each with their own inherent values, language, etc.

Point being, I think those days are over.

Tumblr, unlike LJ and Yahoo! Groups, etc., is inherently UNclose-able. It is wide, wide open – much like, you could argue, the world itself has become with the ease of travel. Only online, it’s not travel but these kinds of platforms that enable/make us see so much more than we ever did before – come into contact with so many more people than we ever did before, and suddenly it’s a world that isn’t necessarily built up of shared values. We don’t all see things the same way.

Yet, the illusion of community is still there. We talk about Sherlock fans, for example (any fandom will do) as if there is “the” Sherlock fandom, and I think this is where we start to see the limits of thinking of fandom as community. Because this idea that there’s the one fandom implicitly suggests, I think, that we all share the same language, values, roughly similar experiences, etc. And, as we’ve come to learn, we really don’t.

Rather, then – and some of you have heard me pontificate about this before, and I’m pontificating now partly because I’m giving a paper on this in a couple of weeks so I’m playing through the idea – but rather, I think we’d be better served thinking of fandom as what Mary Pratt calls a “contact zone,” which she defines as:

“social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power”

I think this extends to virtual spaces like Tumblr or Twitter, where discrete ‘communities’ are increasingly unfeasible. As, again, in the world: I live in a multiethnic neighborhood, and I come into literal contact with people of different ages, races, religions, classes every day. And somehow we manage to survive the encounter – mainly because we don’t know each other well enough to rumble, but imagine if we started getting together over the one thing we all share: having children. So, we get together every week and talk about stuff, and I’m prepared to bet that, at some point, differences of opinion (on how to raise children, on what the purpose and value of education is, on a woman’s role within the family, etc.) would arise. We might struggle with language – I’m white, US-born, highly/over-educated – I am, in this sense, at an advantage linguistically in any conversation we may have (unless all the other mothers are Vietnamese, which is a distinct possibility in my neighborhood, in which case I might well be the disadvantaged one).

Which is my ham-fisted way of saying that I think – in the case of Sherlock, for example – that this show, “Sherlock,” is a contact zone – one of thousands – in which people who love the thing congregate. And that’s great, and so much amazing stuff can come out of that congregation. INCLUDING a sense of having found your ‘community’. But I think we’re not a community – we’re a LOT of people who have one thing in common, and probably a lot of other things not in common, and I think it’s easy for us to forget the latter part of that when we think about – and concern ourselves with – the idea of “fandom” as “community.” We will not always agree, and so the question becomes one of what we do next.

And for that, for me, I always come back to how I live in a multicultural, multiracial, multisexual, multi-everything world without threatening people or killing people left and right. Different people approach this differently. There will always be people in life – “real life” – who like to mix it up, argue politics, etc. There will be people who find their crowd and never come out, because it’s comfortable there. There will be people like me, who tend to keep people I don’t know well at arm’s length a bit – at least until I know them better. Some people will stand around in cliques and whisper loudly about the kids at the other table. And so on.

So then, for me, the question becomes, what do I do when this is the world online? When fandom isn’t a happy – or even “well, we do have our problems but we love each other” – community, but one that’s intrinsically fraught with grappling and conflict? Do I try to convince everyone that I’m right? Do I listen first, and engage in conversation? Do I alleviate the tension? Do I find a much quieter place to go be a fan amongst the like-minded? I think these are all viable options, but in observing AND participating, my experience has been that the people who are trying to convince others that they’re right have the hardest/most fraught time of it – and maybe it’s because the act of trying to bring people under a common understanding isn’t unlike trying to create a “community” in a place where there’s unlikely to be one?

Which doesn’t answer anything – I mean, I have no solutions, other than what I’ve adopted for myself (and it’s a work in progress): listen when people say they’re not being heard or understood (this was what I did in the epic fans-vs-acafans debate a few months back, and I concede that some arguments from the ‘other’ side had merit), rather than simply trying to make yourself heard. Walk away from intractable difference for the time being – especially if I’ve said my piece. It’s there, it’s available, but I cannot MAKE anyone believe anything they don’t want to, so I abdicate that responsibility. Create or find smaller sites off Tumblr for conversations that require a greater degree of mutual understanding and a shared/common language to really progress. I was in the habit of thinking of these as gated communities at one point, rather uncharitably, but I do this myself, and I do it in real life just as much. I am NOT the same person with my sister/brother/mom/spouse that I am in public – not because I’m hiding anything, but because we already know where we’re coming from, so if I say something that could be taken differently in a public context, generally they know how I mean it and that I don’t mean it the inflammatory way. Don’t respond to trolls, because they have a different MO altogether. I ignore assholes on the street, so I ignore them here, and do my best to keep them out of my backyard. I think those are all good tactics for engaging online, and they’re ways to make sense of Tumblr in all its infinite diversity.

Because I do think there’s value in being on Tumblr in all its infinite diversity. I’ve learned more about sexuality, gender, class, race – I mean, you name it – in my year and a half here than I have in years of living out in the world, because here I come into contact with people I might never speak to otherwise, and all because we have this one shared thing. I think the contact is critical – but that we have to understand that it’s the nature of contact with people and ideas outside our own experiences to be a bit fraught with conflict and, as Pratt says, grappling.

**Please don’t mistake me on this one thing: I am NOT saying that fandom… [more]
fannish  * 
8 hours ago
The Deep Forest Subverts Destructive Tropes (Mythcreants)
As I said before, traditional RPG adventures involve journeying and killing monsters. The exploration is just as important as the slaying. Trek through the wilderness, untouched by civilization, and kill the people who are already there. It’s the insidious explorer fallacy.

Games that reinforce this colonial narrative suggest that discovering something is a creative act, which affords the discoverer a right to own or control whatever they discover. In real life, this presents a huge problem because people often already live there.
d&d  rpgs 
5 weeks ago
Siderea: How to Shop for a Therapist
1) Some patients present with a specific, well-bounded problem that they want addressed. Example: a patient presenting because they have panic attacks when they have to speak in public, and they now need to make a presentation for their job. They are looking for similarly specific, well bounded treatment for that specific well bounded problem; they see therapy as a project with a specific, short-term or medium-term goal.

2) Some patients want someone to talk to, thereby to hash out their inner conflicts and confusions, on an on-going basis. They're looking for emotional support and a space for self-confrontation as a kind of self-care. Example: a patient who presents self-describing as "having a midlife crisis" and "needing some help sorting something out". They see therapy as like going to the gym, only for the emotions: something you do on an ongoing, indefinite basis, to keep oneself fit, enhance wellbeing and functioning, and prevent illness.

3) Some patients present because they are embarking on a very specific psychological challenge, and want support and assistance through it. Example: a patient who is going through a divorce, or a protracted medical treatment. This is similar to #1 in being specifically bounded and well defined, but there is no more specific goal than "support me getting through this".

4) Some patients present because they feel something is wrong with them, something serious. This might be a felt sense of shame or worthlessness, or sense of one self as damaged, tainted, ruined, or broken; it might be a recognition that some sort of behavior of theirs has become uncontrollable, such as an addiction or a compulsion; it might be frightening emotional or sensory experiences; it might be a feeling that they can't keep important relationships; etc. Such patients present with a strong sense of needing help, but often the nature of what they need help with is not particularly bounded at all; they don't know what things about them need fixing and what is okay the way it is. These patients need, first of all, specific help to figure out what their specific problems are. They see therapy as treatment, and the therapist as like a physician, with whom they have an on-going relationship treating an on-going medical condition, which may be quite complicated and mysterious. They want to know that the therapist is going to stick around as long as necessary, which they expect is going to be many years.

5) Some patients present because they are dissatisfied with themselves and their lives in a vague way, and are seeking transformation by means of self-exploration and experiences of insight. They, too, are looking for something specific, but don't know what it is, and rely on the therapist to provide them with that information, or with experiences in which they might find it out. They see therapy as a process that they will go through for however long it takes, which they expect will not be fast.
may 2018
What does a feminist business look like? Exploring 'abundance consciousness' - Little Red Tarot
So – how do I imbue my work and business with abundance consciousness?

Fair pay (of course). Not looking to the minimum, but to real compensation for the time and energy people put into Little Red Tarot projects. I don’t barter down the artists whose wares I retail so I can pass on cheaper prices to customers – instead, the prices of goods in my store reflect the price of everybody getting paid fairly – including artists, creators, myself and Hele, our shop assistant. Writers need fair pay for the diverse and brilliant articles they share on the blog. Tango must receive a reliable, nourishing wage for the commitment and growing experience she brings to Little Red Tarot, and that we rely on so much. The price of accessing paid-for parts of my business must allow for this nourishment. Capitalism advocates a race to the bottom, the lowest prices, the lowest wages, with a goal of ever-increasing profits for the very few at the top, but there are other ways, and other forms of nourishment.

Spaciousness. Whilst a quick turnaround is helpful for some types of project, I’m learning to allow much more breathing space for the new branches of my work to take shape. A big project I’m currently working on (an online community space) is growing richer and stronger foundations because I recently decided to slow everything right down and launch far later than I originally planned. The decision feels like a deep breath of air. It honours the energy of the project and allows for organic, soulful growth at its own pace. In allowing this space and time I’m able to really explore the nuances of what I’m creating, I’m able to have meaningful and thoughtful conversations with Tango, and we’re both able to bring this foundational work forth with care and ease. Though on paper less is happening, what is happening is richer, and feels more abundant because it has plenty of space.

Compassionate prioritising. I’ve spent years putting work above all the other things I love in my life. For the best part of five years, Little Red Tarot came above time in nature, exercise, cooking good food, seeing friends, even spending quality downtime with my love. I ended up with shoulder pains I’m still working to undo and a coffee habit that needs attention. It’s easy to become subsumed by a new or young business (or a mature business, I’m sure) – but in doing so, I’ve found I lose that sense of enough-ness, of abundance and flow.

Symptoms of abundance consciousness

My experience of abundance consciousness (with or without a matching material reality) is that it produces the following beautiful symptoms: Generosity, Ease, Resourcefulness and Gratitude (…all of which also appear as proposals in Jennifer’s diagram.)

When I feel supported and nourished, when I know in my bones that I have enough, that I am enough, that there is enough time, enough space, enough energy – I’m able to show up more for others, I have a sense of having enough to share. I donate, I sponsor, I volunteer. I take time off to serve friends in need. I care for the plants in my garden. And when our whole communities are nourished, fed, housed, filled with honesty and ease, we can work together, collaborating to transform society. I want my business to be a space where everyone feels they are receiving care and nourishment – readers, customers, students, writers, the team, and I.

Practicing gratitude creates a cycle. When we are consciously grateful for what we have, we feel richer. Cultivating gratitude leads to a greater sense of abundance, which leads to more gratitude. This is a beautiful thing and it works no matter how much or how little we have.

When I know that I am enough, I get creative. I become more aware of the powers I have to shape and change my world. I become more resourceful, I look to what I have available and use these tools to create.

What I’m most excited about is the abundance we create in the margins. I’m specifically excited about a shift of consciousness from lack to abundance when our communities grow stronger, when we give and receive support and care, when we commit to uplifting others alongside ourselves. Queer folks, people of colour, people with disabilities and others who are sidelined in the mainstream, capitalist economy are building new and beautiful spaces where we can be real, where we can expand, where we can give and receive. I want my business and my work to be part of this new economy, this new space of exchange.

I earnestly want to create a space in which the core message is ‘you are enough’. I want the spaces I create to demonstrate abundance through this message, encouraging each visitor or member to experience a sense of abundance, and through this, generosity, resourcefulness, ease and gratitude.

I want wherever possible for Little Red Tarot and the future community to help people feel more abundant. So that each of us will show up more. So that each of us will share more. So that we can keep that joyful economy, that energetic trade flowing.

This, for me, is what abundance looks like – both as a consciousness and as a tangible reality.
witchy  work  psychology  *  personal 
may 2018
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