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Author Topic: Sorcerer Doesn't Scare Me. What's Wrong with Me?  (Read 17972 times)
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« on: May 15, 2005, 12:06:21 AM »

This one is specifically for Ron. Others can join in soon.

Ron,

I was poking around Jesse's Live Journal and found this quote he pulled from you about Sorcerer:

"Let's say, for sake of discussion, that you and I agree that "demons" in the common superstition/religion sense of the word do not exist in real life. That they are pure metaphor for something that is itself very real, very troubling, and instantly mentally-accessible to nearly any human being. So when I say "my game is about summoning and commanding demons," two reactions can ensue. The trivial one is to pop the whole issue into denial and turn it into some adolescent, bogus thing like what White Wolf games do (and do, and do, most recently and most literally in Hunter: the Reckoning). The meaty one is to shudder. Just to shudder.

"The person who shudders is the one who can play Sorcerer. My question, embodied in the game as a whole, asked in all seriousness and with great personal empathy, is, What are you shuddering about? Answer (to yourself, not here) in terms of real people, real behavior, real events in the actual world. And this answer is supposed to be the core of defining "demon," defining the game term Humanity, setting parameters for sorcerous rituals, and defining the descriptors for character-creation during play.

"The really scary point is that whatever it is you're reacting to, there are people who see no way out except to embrace it. This person must want something, and consider it justified in the eyes of God and man (speaking loosely; "God" is yet another issue Sorcerer leaves up to you). And the scary point under that is that there exists, infinitesmally, the chance for heroism arising from that state, with a very, very high price to pay for the more-common result of failure. We are talking about existential trauma and deep-psychology horror in the context of an emotionally-engaging, utterly unavoidable conflict."


It dawned on me that a) while I dig Sorcerere in terms of all the new tools and techniques, I don't think I've played it in the dangerous ways it's meant to be played, and b) I've never shuddered. It's always felt kind of safe. Cool -- very cool. I've made other people at the table shudder. But I haven't shuddered at the mere Premise of the session -- which it seems, from the quote above, I should be doing.

Have I simply not opened to the shudder places yet? Do some people dodge them? Have you found that some people don't shudder?

I'm assuming its the first one in the paragraph above.

Would you be willing, as an exercise in getting people to the scary places and showing more off about Sorcerer specifically, and Story Now in general, help me shudder in the context of a Sorcerer game?

I'm not sure how to set this up. But if you're interested, I'm sure we could nail down the ground rules in a post or two. (You might even have me shuddering in your first post -- so this might be fast.)

Thanks,

Christopher
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2005, 07:57:30 AM »

Heh heh.

Here are some of my notes for the Sorcerer game I'd like to play in next - GM or player, doesn't matter.

Quote
Modern day, right here and right now - absolutely no supernatural elements in "game history"
Unforgiven, Reservoir Dogs, First Blood

Humanity = justice

Conceptual constraint on protagonists: “live by the gun.” Don’t care what capacity, don’t care what motivation. Characters are people who have relied upon their ability and willingness to shoot others for a long time.

Do note that violence and gun-stuff are not implicated in the definition of Humanity.

Demons: no Special Damage, also, waive the default damage capacity. In other words, demons themselves cannot hurt anyone.

Important concept: may have acquired demon long ago or very recently; choose this detail carefully

Kicker = strongly enforce the “today is the first day” aspect of Kickers – after this, your protagonist really will be a new person


Some quotes I've included, along with a number of images:

Quote
Every last soul must pay the last toll
In the dice game of life, who gets the last roll?
Is it the one with the suit? The one with the sack?
The one who hides behind his fuckin' gun and his badge?
Negative outlook? Well that's how I'm livin'
And like he said, it's a wicked world we live in
It's a wicked world we live in

I'm wiggin out, flippin' out, hearts is what I'm rippin' out
I'm slippin' out, I'm dippin' out, killin's what I'm livin' out
Pick 'em, let me pick 'em out, spin and let me whip it out
Gat to your face with the fuckin' bullets stickin' out


Quote
Sociobiologists predict that animals that are poorly equipped for aggression are unlikely to have developed surrender signals.  Man, they say, is one of these creatures.  But we developed technology, including a technology of destruction, and this technology "evolved" much too quickly for our biological evolution to provide us with compensating restraints on aggression.


Quote
Bill Munny: Hell of a thing, killin' a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have.

The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess he had it comin'.

Bill Munny: We all got it comin', kid.


How're ya doing, Chris?

Best,
Ron
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joshua neff
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« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2005, 08:41:49 AM »

I'm not sure if this is what you're after, Christopher, but here's some notes about the last Sorcerer run I did.

I had an idea to have it set in a generic American suburb. I wanted fairly normal, everyday people who just happened to have tapped into some darkness and become sorcerers. Besides the sorcerers, the neighborhood was nice and normal and quiet.

Mike's character was a white collar office worker, married with a daughter. He was getting increasingly frustrated by his lack of promotion and started to blame his wife, who he saw as the less-than-perfect "office worker's wife." They were all in a car accident, and the wife and daughter were killed. Mike's character murdered the truck driver who hit them and used his death to bring his wife back to life (basically, a possessor demon inhabiting the body of his dead wife). She became the perfect, subservient wife--but she was also pushing him to also bring their daughter back to life. All of the pressure was causing him to lose it. Mike's character, in the course of three sessions, killed his dog and then summoned a possessor demon to inhabit that body, and then tried to salvage his sanity and Humanity by rebelling against his demons, who were really starting to put the pressure on him to summon more, and against the other sorcerer PCs.

Ryan's character was an arrogant Catholic priest who had long ago summoned a demon, a passer who looked like a baby and grew quickly into a small, creepy boy. The priest was delivering sermons that subtly implied that God was not nearly as powerful as humans, and that humans should think of themselves and behave like God. When some church officials came to investigate his sermons, the priest's nice secretary gave the officials some info about the priest--nothing too incriminating, but info that would make it more difficult to get out of an investigation. Ryan--one of the nicest, gentlest guys I know--had his character come up from behind the secretary and whack her on the head with a big crucifix. He then sacrificed her to summon another demon to deal with the officials.

Julie's character was a troubled teen boy  with an abusive, alcoholic father who was now dead. He was now living with a foster family, and his demon was the ghost of his dead father. Julie's choice of Kicker? The utterly mundane "My foster parents announce that they intend to formally adopt me." Remember, she chose this. She also chose what to do next: she murdered her foster parents and used their blood to summon another demon, a stick figure made out of blood.

The game ended with Julie's character dropping to zero Humanity and going mad. The character was subsequently burned to a crisp by the priest's fire demon. The priest and Mike's office worker ended up ina showdown, throwing demons at each other and using rituals against each other. Finally, Mike's character defeated the demons and knocked out Ryan's priest--but the cops showed up and Mike's character, now on the absolute edge of sanity, took the blame for everything. Mike's character was locked away, and Ryan's sociopathic priest got off scott free.

Now, maybe this wouldn't make you shudder, but Ryan's horrible, cold-blooded priest, Mike's office worker with his snowballing loss of sanity (especially smacking his dog over and over with a shovel), and Julie's troubled kid slaughtering his parents all made me shudder.
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"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2005, 09:49:35 AM »

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the responses.


Josh,

Oh, yes. Creepy stuff. And as I said, I've done that in RPGs as well. But my question wasn't so much about what creepy things Players will have their PCs do, it was about this specific element of Ron's quote:

"So when I say "my game is about summoning and commanding demons," two reactions can ensue. The trivial one is to pop the whole issue into denial and turn it into some adolescent, bogus thing like what White Wolf games do (and do, and do, most recently and most literally in Hunter: the Reckoning). The meaty one is to shudder. Just to shudder."

Notice, we should be shuddering (if we're meant to play Sorcerere!) even before play begins.

But the game you described sounded deliciously horrible. Reading your recap, I did get the willies. But... for the purposes of this thread, I'm not sure why. You didn't mention the definition of Humanity nor the demons.

What I responded to was a) people hurting people out of desperate fear, misapplying their efforts to solutions that make things worse; b) people picking "false" relationships to create an illusion of order or pathetic attempts at happiness that in fact only make us crazy 'cause they take up so much energy we've got no time left to do anything genuine.

I responded strongly to those elements. Were those elements clear in the game prep break down? The time when I was finding out if I was going to shudder or not?

Thanks.


Ron,

Honestly, at the end of your notes, I was kind of excited -- and kind of shuddering, too. Knowing that, "Who knows what's going to happen?" was in my blood, and really curious to find out how bad things would get, and how good they might get.

And it struck home for me, as well. "Agression" is a concept that's very much a part of my life now since I started my terrific martial arts class. I've applied a lot of what I've learned metaphorically to almost every aspect of my life -- all to wonderful effect. To suddenly be confronted with it become the definition of my life became both something appealing and troubling at the same instant.  

There is something I find appealing in the attitude of the song lyrics, a safety -- a lack of responsibility -- that I can appreciate and desire as a way of living safely with a closed heart. And something reprehensible and sad -- knowing that to live like that would be life without a human heart.

So. There's that!

Perhaps this is exctly the response you were talking about. And, perhaps, then, I'm missing the word "shudder." Does excitment or anticipation figure into the concept of the shudder as well?

I suspect I've already answered my own question. To find the scary things you're both drawn to and scared by is probably what produces a shudder -- moving one way and then the other repeatedly, quickly. To Shudder.

Christopher
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joshua neff
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« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2005, 10:05:54 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
What I responded to was a) people hurting people out of desperate fear, misapplying their efforts to solutions that make things worse; b) people picking "false" relationships to create an illusion of order or pathetic attempts at happiness that in fact only make us crazy 'cause they take up so much energy we've got no time left to do anything genuine.


Isn't "b" what Sorcerer is all about? Is that enough to give you the shudders?

For me, probably not. And honestly, Sorcerer doesn't give me an automatic wiggins. However, I generally see your "a" as coming out of "b," and that does give me a small shudder. It gives me a bigger shudder when it happens in play.
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"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2005, 10:16:26 AM »

Hi Josh,

Yes, I agree that (b) is what the game is about. I think though, that some part of me, having had too many (b)'s in my actual life, wants to think I've somehow risen above it.

That said, I've also sort of closed out the possibility of risking a (b) in my actual life, trying to stay safe out clearly out of those water (a seperate, real life issue that, of course, ties into the issues of playing Sorcerer!)

And so the whole demon relationship often means little to me in concept before play.  I think, "What fool would do that and expect anything good to come of it?" (Because, in hindsight, I see the disfunctional relationships in all their terror -- but never see anything good I actually got from them. But the trick is to tap back into the thinking that let me ignore all the warning signs from the start!)

It's a dodge on my part, I think, and part of why I started this thread. A man who thinks he's getting the thing that will make him happy, for example, despite the obvious or not so obvious problems, expects his (b) to solve his problems and be worth the effort.

As for when the shudder happens, that too is on the table for this thread. I think I'm with you on this one -- but Ron's notes intrigued me in a fresh way. (Important note: The song lyrics REALLY helped on the score. That's where it stopped being intelletual and I "got" it.)

Christopher
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joshua neff
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2005, 10:45:40 AM »

I think you're onto something, Christopher. Not trying to speak for Ron, I think the "shudder" isn't necessarily, "Uh oh," but "Oh, yeah!" As in, "What kind of a moron becomes a sorcerer, summons and binds a demon, and expects that to make him or her happy?"

"Oh...a cool character! Someone with loads of story potential, just waiting for the first session to burst out and surprise us all."

So the shudder comes not from unease but from excitement. Or maybe a little of both. Excitement at the coming unease, which will happen during play.
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"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2005, 10:52:31 AM »

Yes, but...

Where I get into trouble is here: "What kind of a moron becomes a sorcerer, summons and binds a demon, and expects that to make him or her happy?"

See, I can get the idea of the future story meat from such a character, but I'm not engaged. I don't by it in that Story Now sort of way. It's SAFE for me to see it that way.

But Ron's notes did engage me. I started feeling someting in me that I cared about, saw as appealing. And I think that's the quality I think should be there in a Sorcerer game. I think the shudder is in seeing the appeal -- the "emotional logic" if you will, of depending on agression with a gun to navigate life -- is both appealing and completely terrifying and wrong.

Now, I've sort of laid myself out on the slab with a couple of confessions here. I have no idea if Ron's going to arrive with scalpels. But I want to make it clear, if he wants to get to work, all Hanibal Lector like, I'm game.

Christopher
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2005, 11:22:33 AM »

Hiya,

Yes, the shudder is composed of anticipation and attraction as well as fear or disgust.

But I want to clarify something about that. We are not talking about perverse attraction. The attraction must be as understandable and common as the revulsion.

If one happened to be simultaneously the sort of person who enjoyed eating corpses, as well as retaining a sense that it's "wrong somehow," then why not have a Sorcerer game in which eating corpses played a role in sorcerous rituals ... well, that's not what I'm talking about at all.

I'm talking about the straightforward and undeniable observation that asserting one's position through violence is absolutely required in real life. No ifs. No arguments. No possible bullshit denials. We all know that "finding one's warrior" is part of living life - the alternative is living in some form of fear.

Yes, pacifists too. That's a matter of finding someone who will be the warrior for you. Without machine guns emplaced somewhere, no Mother Theresa.

The point is the "warrior," rather than the "mad dog" or bully or horrible/tragic gangsta who's just trying to be cool. How does one live positively in full knowledge that violence is one of your own effective tools? When do you hurt someone, even kill them? What do you really mean by issuing a threat, practically speaking?

I think that positive quality is extremely evident in my notes that I posted, specifically in two places:

- Humanity = justice

- the demons themselves cannot physically hurt anybody

Chris, am I correct in thinking that I have answered your initial query?

Best,
Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2005, 11:59:48 AM »

Hi Ron,

Well, yes, you are correct in assuming you have answered my initial inquiry.

You've also completely flipped my assumptions about Sorcerer -- which I had considered, if not dependedent on "perversion," then at least dependent on a lesser cousin of some sort.

This idea of the demons being this "other" thing always led me down the wrong path. I mean, I think I've really missed the boat on this, and usually scoured my mind for perversions to work from! (Not finding any, I thought I didn't get the game.)  

I think I get it now. It's true, as has been stated elsewhere, "as soon as you give demons' origins/nature a context in the human scheme of things, you've missed the point." The demon that's about "warrior" doesn't orginate from humans. It's a fucking fact. We can use it or not, and use it in a million ways.

But its nature is not responsive to the way we'd like it to be. (It is responsive to our choices, but the cold truth of "asserting one's position through violence is absolutely required in real life" is... well, just there.)

See, I think this is where I was disconnecting. Demons, I thought, being outside the context of the human scheme of things meant to me, "So only schmucks and madmen would be dumb enough to go near them."

But the moment the boundaries are, "The attraction must be as understandable and common as the revulsion," well -- then it does get scary. The danger isn't because the demons by nature are transgressive, it's that our PCs might do transgressive things using the demons, or to keep the demons around, of just cause there's something our PCs really want. (Which goes back to Ben's Humanity as a Moral Guage? thread.)

Yes?

Christopher

PS You wrote: "No possible bullshit denials. We all know that "finding one's warrior" is part of living life - the alternative is living in some form of fear."

Awkward confession (because I think it matter to the thread...)

I kind of... didn't get that in any real way until about 3 months ago. Embarssing, but true. In general, I'm watching a lot of assumptions about elements of life I thought I could avoid are getting tossed out. There's been a lot of denial about -- oh, tons of stuff -- that I considered "dark" or "not really nice" or "avoidable" or whatever...

I bring this up because you, Ron, seem to have a keen dowsing rod to this sort of stuff. You seem to have no bullshit denials. I'm probably not alone in this disconnect between the way things are and a layer of bullshit denial -- which will lead to a disconnect between the rules and intention of Sorcerer as written, and how some of us interpret the rules and intention of the game.

No fault on you, but a strange fact -- you, I suspect, see life more clearly than many other people.
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C. Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2005, 01:17:07 PM »

I knew a guy that had the words, "Anger is a Gift" tattooed on the back of his neck. If that's not part of a binding ritual then I don't know what is.

Your disconnect on Sorcerer isn't something that's uncommon in role-playing in general in my experience, Chris. It usually becomes obvious fairly quickly when some participants in a game are trying to explore the wrenching issues and themselves and when the rest are playing for a more surface level of entertainment.

The same thing results from disconnects on the understanding of the source material. It's an interesting experience to see what happens when play plummets past someone's comfort zone.

You're obviously excited about the summary of the next Sorcerer game Ron wants to play. So I have to wonder what interfered with you making the associations of such real, visceral content with demons and humanity in Sorcerer. Do you think that part of you just didn't want to go there? Some other reasons?

I'm being nosey. The psychology of purposeful self-inspection, reflection, and awareness is intensely interesting. And, I think, a key component of hard-core Sorcerer play.

-Chris
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2005, 02:18:11 PM »

Hi Chris,

Good questions. And there's nothing wrong with being nosy. As I said above, I've put myself on the slab. I think that's part of the nature of a good game of Sorcerer.

You wrote, "You're obviously excited about the summary of the next Sorcerer game Ron wants to play. So I have to wonder what interfered with you making the associations of such real, visceral content with demons and humanity in Sorcerer. Do you think that part of you just didn't want to go there? Some other reasons."

As I noted in my PS to Ron above, I think the main issue has had everything to do with everything about how I view life -- RPGs just got caught in the cross-fire.

I've been giving this some thought just lately -- so its still fresh, raw and not particularly well thought out. And its terribly personal and so idiosyncratic it might not mean anything to anyone but me. But you asked...!

I've wanted to be good. I was raised in a suburban, liberal post-Vatican II Catholic church -- which meant, somehow, I missed all the crap that angry ex-Catholics dealt with, and was taught a kind of, "Be Good to do the World Good morality."

So... I wasn't told things like aggression or strength or sex were bad... but neither were these elements of "life force" (or whatever one wants to call them...) discussed as good. They were these things "out there" that might end up causing trouble, and it was better to focus on being "good" -- helping people (often at the expense of yourself) and so on.

Ron rather casually wrote, "I'm talking about the straightforward and undeniable observation that asserting one's position through violence is absolutely required in real life. No ifs. No arguments. No possible bullshit denials. We all know that "finding one's warrior" is part of living life - the alternative is living in some form of fear." Well, I was aware there were people like that out there who believe that, but, in my knee-jerk liberal anti-military cause of the Viet Nam war environment, the people who believe this were either cynical or someone missing a screw or two.

I can safely say that this point of view, coupled with ideas that sex should be in the idea always "safe" and "nice" -- and ideas about competition being the anthema to getting things done well -- and well, a whole bunch of other well meaning but useless propositions -- really made living kind of difficult -- if not dark, depressing, and, as Ron pointed out above, "living in some kind of fear."

In the last couple of years, driven by a kind of desperation that something's gotta fuckin' change I started reading lots of books that I would have otherwise passed up, paid attention to how the world actually seems to operate and who gets results and how, and started changing my assumptions and behavior.

It's been an intense haul, and a lot of old habits of thinking are still on their way out the door.

So, when confronted with Sorcerer -- well, I even bumped into Sorcerer before these changes were in the works. So I translated straight-forward issues of blunt human behavior into "bad" or "perversions" or whatnot.  (Though, without the clarity or awareness I'm presenting on this thread today.)

In other words Chris, when you ask "what interfered with you making the associations of such real, visceral content" in a game of Sorcerer, I'd say, "Um, a lack of the 'real' and the 'visceral' in my life."

All this probably wasn't helped by hanging out by hanging out with lots of new agey women in southern california in recent years who are absolutely convinced that life really can be just nice and conflict free -- and who are also frustrated that the men they've carefully chosen and domesticated lack passion, drive and get-go!


As for the game specifically:

I've played several times now, with different groups.

I would say on the whole that I've carried in my baggage (as above), but also, I was never challenged by the GM or the Players to go deeper. (In fact, I was probably the one ready to go deeper than anyone else.) Everyone I've played with played with the nature of transgression. We had cool creepy moments and stuff. The way you get cool creepy moments in a really good horror movie or whatnot. But not the stuff with the shit of life is put on the line. We were making a show of the complications of life -- but not hitting our own core on these matters.

There were chilliing moments. Some really good moments, in fact. But I've yet to feel as if I was on the line. And I'd say that's because I didn't know there was a line I had to walk up to and stand on.

It's not that I "just didn't want to go there," as you put it. It's that only in the last two years -- and in the last three months specifically -- did I know there wasa a "there" there I could go to. Before that, I saw behavior that was of no use to me.

In closing, this:

I was out on a walk with one of the SoCal women mentioned above -- a lovely woman, married, with kids. We were talking about religion and religious community and such. And I explained why I stopped volunteeering at the religious ed classes at my Parish and decided to take some time off from Church in general.

And the gist was, the Catholic Church seems to be against strength. Christianity, as Kierkegaard suggested, is against life as far as I can tell these days. And, ultimately, despite a suicidal temperament that started at the age of ten and continue another 25 years, I'm actually for life. And I didn't know how to balance it out.  Pope John Paul II says, essentially, if you're economically sound, you're not a good Christian. If your poor and dependent on the charity of others, you're in good with god. Well, you know, fuck that.

So I had been helping out on Sunday nights with these teen-age boys. And the woman in charge of the program keeps pushing Mother Theresa as a perfect role model. And I'm gnashing my teeth because I know these boys don't need to be taught to avoid strength and aggression. They need to know how to use the strength and aggression well.

I tell my friend about my new take on "turning the other cheek." If you teach your son, I say, to never hit back, he's not turning the other cheek. He's just taking it -- which is something completely different. Turning the other cheek, in my view, implies a choice -- you could clock the guy in response -- but you're choosing not to. Telling him violence is never an option removes choice.

And the only way there's a choice is if he knows how to strike back, if he knows is comfortable striking back -- if he's actually had a chance to strike back -- so there's actually an option.

She's sort of open-mouthed confused by this.... Her brain is actually spinning as I tell her she's gotta let her husband teach her son how to clock somebody in response to being punched. We talk a little more -- and she begins to understand.

And that's when I decided it was time to step away from Christian faith for a while. Which was not easy -- because I gained so much from the community and that lovely "oceanic feeling" Jung refers to. But the truth is I haven't given up my love of something larger -- it's just I've got to go off and walk up to that line and figure out on my own how I'm going to handle it -- instead of having a community of people tell me it's best to ignore and avoid that line completely.

Which is what, I think, Sorcerer encourage us all to do. Which is probably why this is on my mind and why I'm asking these questions now.

Christopher
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ejh
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« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2005, 06:01:12 PM »

"I'm talking about the straightforward and undeniable observation that asserting one's position through violence is absolutely required in real life. No ifs. No arguments. No possible bullshit denials. We all know that 'finding one's warrior' is part of living life - the alternative is living in some form of fear.  Yes, pacifists too. That's a matter of finding someone who will be the warrior for you. Without machine guns emplaced somewhere, no Mother Theresa. "

Actually, I deny this, if I understand it correctly.  I've become particularly interested in nonviolence lately, and at least from where I am sitting right now, it does not look to me like it is true that the world works that way.  (One of the more influential books which shaped my views on this is Michael Nagler's _Search for a Non-Violent Future_.)

What Chris Kubiasak said -- about effective nonviolence having to be a matter of a real living choice made in the moment, for the moment, rather than an externally imposed moral prohibition that one is cowed by and bows to -- that I do agree with.  It doesn't sound to me like he's saying the same thing there, but he obviously *does* think he's saying the same thing, which means I may well have misunderstood one or the other of you.

Just for the record.  I don't hope to argue the point either way, I just needed to raise a hand and say "hey, that doesn't look undeniable to me.  Watch me deny it."
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C. Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2005, 06:23:10 PM »

Hey Chris,

Thanks for the disclosure. It can be very educational to see how someone with a wildly different background navigates self-discovery. Particularly how they approach specific issues, like sex and violence.

-Chris
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KingstonC
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« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2005, 06:50:22 AM »

Chris said

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I've wanted to be good. I was raised in a suburban, liberal post-Vatican II Catholic church -- which meant, somehow, I missed all the crap that angry ex-Catholics dealt with, and was taught a kind of, "Be Good to do the World Good morality."

So... I wasn't told things like aggression or strength or sex were bad... but neither were these elements of "life force" (or whatever one wants to call them...) discussed as good. They were these things "out there" that might end up causing trouble, and it was better to focus on being "good" -- helping people (often at the expense of yourself) and so on.

I can safely say that this point of view, coupled with ideas that sex should be in the idea always "safe" and "nice" -- and ideas about competition being the anthema to getting things done well -- and well, a whole bunch of other well meaning but useless propositions -- really made living kind of difficult -- if not dark, depressing, and, as Ron pointed out above, "living in some kind of fear."


and before he said this

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I've been giving this some thought just lately -- so its still fresh, raw and not particularly well thought out. And its terribly personal and so idiosyncratic it might not mean anything to anyone but me. But you asked...


Dude, believe me, you're not the only one. I would argue that one of the primary psychological draws of "fanboy" culture (RPG's, comics, SF&F books, video games) is that it pushes back on the weak=good, strong=bad idea of "nice" which is such a part of middle class life. It's not just a catholic thing, or a liberal thing, although it's both of those for sure. It's certantly not just a you thing.

There is a difference between "nice" and Good. Finding the difference, and rejecting the "nice" while still being Good is what every power soaked gun toting pnumatic breasted four color comic book hero(ine) promices we can do. That is why christian consevatives and "nice" liberals who disagree on everything else can get behind the sensorship of video games and such. Because despite the  vast differences between them, they still have a vested interest in "nice".

Excuse me if I've gone horribly of topic.
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