Here’s a pretty cool scientific article I found on how PTSD can alter the physical structure of the brain, and how that might translate into many of the symptoms including memory.
There’s a few mentions of traumas, both sexual and otherwise, but the article doesn’t describe any in much depth, and they’re only really mentioned in the frame of statistics or to give an example.
It’s a scientific article in that it has legit sources and is written by a doctor, but it’s an easy read, and it’s not too long. It’s really interesting, and it might help some people to better explain to others what PTSD is and how it works.
I think it would be a lot easier to explain fandom for me if it wasn’t as important to me as it is.
If it was just an idle distraction, or this weird thing I did when I was bored, it would be so easy to wave away— “yeah, there’s this silly thing, whatever”.
But it’s not. I read fanfiction when I should be sleeping, I go under in it and don’t surface until it’s early in the morning or I’ve missed my stop on the subway or put off something I should have otherwise been doing. I draw fanart and it takes hours, days, when I could be drawing something I could use professionally. I cry over objectively terrible television shows because I care intensely about these characters which don’t even really exist in the show— characters I’ve built up with the help of hundreds of other people into figures who I relate to, whose lives matter to me.
And I… have never really been able to put a finger on why.
There are plenty of reasons people give for why fandom is a compelling community, and they’re all true. But none of them explain the kind of bone-deep grasp it has on me, the way that it is so embedded into the way I think and read and feel things, how I’m drawn to it and comforted by it.
For all that I believe, viciously and whole-heartedly, that “good media” is a myth— that the worth media has is in what it gives to you, and happiness is just as worthwhile a thing to receive as knowledge or pretension— the myth has been peddled by everyone for long enough that I can’t help but find it in myself, too. Part of me always needs to justify the heaps of fanfiction to myself: it’s too easy, it makes me feel too much, I’m over-emotional and not strong enough to read something more challenging.
That is the part of me that pops up whenever I try to talk about it— if it were inconsequential, it would be fine that fanfiction is easy. It would be a side-note. But instead, it fills up my heart where I think other things should be: harder things, more complicated things. And I want to share it, because it makes me lighter, makes me happy, because it takes up so much of my thoughts: not just fandom as a whole but the shows and books and characters who keep me there. I care about them a lot, I let them become a part of me, live in my heart just like my friends and family and apartment and childhood house and dog.
And to explain why something so small takes up so much room in me is hard, because I feel like— I should be more substantial. Like I should hollow out years of stories and the emotions connected to them and fill those spaces with— I’m not sure what. What do most people fill their hearts with?
I can never tell whether or not I give too much of my feelings to fiction, or whether the people who drink fiction up like I do simply have more space for it, are more inclined towards emotion and have more of it to give.
These days I catch myself trying to explain fandom more— to my friends, to my parents, to myself. It’s become too big a part of me to just gloss over, or it always has been and I only just noticed. I’m never really quite sure what to do about that, torn between letting myself be made happy by the things that make me happy and worrying that I’m not being made happy by the right things.
I usually try and be super positive about fandom all the time, because I honestly think that it is an extremely positive thing— but sometimes, I can’t help but worry, because I’m human and that’s what humans do, as far as I can tell. I wish I had some sort of way of ascertaining that caring like this is healthy, is okay, but— there’s no barometer for that, no real answer. But shame isn’t, in my experience, a useful emotion, and worrying about who you are and what you like is a waste of time.
Time I could otherwise spend sleeping, or drinking, or working. Or reading fanfiction.
Apropos my last post, because this is something I think about a lot, especially since I saw Catching Fire last week, and am now re-reading The Hunger Games. And, dammit, I get sad that we don’t have a YA dystopia with an emotionally stunted iconic heroine played by Shari Sebbens and brooding and handsome hero played by Jordan Rodrigues of our own!
So the thing about Australia is, we’re roughly the same size as the United States, but much more sparsely populated. So in the event of some kind of technological cataclysm, such as a nuclear electromagnetic pulse, coupled with radical climate change, we’re less likely to wind up with a totalitarian one-party state than a series of isolated communities that occasionally fight over resources.
For example, Perth is separated from the rest of Australia by a GIANT DESERT, and Western Australia is a vast state in its own right, so that would be the first to separate. (Nightsiders by Sue Isle is a collection of novellas set in a dystopian Perth.)
Tasmania next, because it’s an island, and I shall refrain from making cannibal jokes out of consideration for … you know. Or possibly Darwin, which is closer to South East Asia than it is to other Australian cities. Likewise, far north Queensland would probably be cementing its close geographic ties to the Torres Strait and New Guinea — in the coastal regions, at least. Further inland, you’d probably have your isolated homesteaders, the kind of people who already think they’re living in the End Times and prove it by voting for Bob Katter.
(…Come to think of it, there’s a lot of mineral wealth in WA and QLD, not to mention uranium in the Northern Territory, but how much of that is of use to those states if large-scale international trade has collapsed remains to be seen. But it certainly brings them closer to self-sufficiency than, say, Canberra.)
Then you have your larger state capitals, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. They’re all within driving distance, albeit it’s a couple of days’ drive, so I can see that they wouldn’t be entirely isolated, but how much power the Federal Government has in those circumstances is debateable. (I mean, the Constitution gives a lot more power to the States than the Federal Government, but Federalism developed along with the technological resources for faster communication and travel.)
ANYWAY, what you end up with are several separate communities, not hugely trusting of one another. Stack on a few generations, let this develop as the status quo, let technology re-develop but keep in mind the effects of climate change, and what do you have? A totalitarian state? A laissez faire corporatocracy? Anarchy? All this and everything in between, depending on where you are?
Not to mention all the nations around us, dealing with their own problems, many of them small island states being swallowed up by the rising oceans. ”SCARY FORNERS INVADING HONEST, WHITE AUSTRALIA” is one of those right-wring tropes I prefer to avoid, but there comes a point where you’re wondering why they’re not knocking on the door. (Again, this comes back to those odd US dystopias where the rest of the world apparently doesn’t exist.)
Some local dystopia for you:
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina is the first in a YA trilogy (I think) about young people with special abilities in a future, dystopian Australia. It’s also one of the few works of science fiction by an Indigenous author — oh, look, she’s a guest of honour at Continuum next year, plug, plug, plug. I actually didn’t finish the first book, because it wasn’t what I was in the mood for at the time, but I couldn’t actually say whether it’s good or bad or in between.
Karen Healey’s When We Wake isn’t precisely a dystopia — its future Australia is pretty great, provided you don’t care about refugees, or incredibly powerful militaries, and what not. In short, it’s very much like the present day — quite fantastic, as long as you don’t look at things too closely.
An anti-rec: The Rosie Black Chronicles by Lara Morgan. I can’t remember if this is actually dystopian, or just plain old sci-fi. I was too busy facepalming at the terrible writing and general racism to pay attention.
And another: The Sea and Summer by George Turner, an acclaimed mainstream SF novel which posits, among other things, a vast chunk of Australia’s land being sold to Asians (actually an ethnic slur was used), who promptly destroy the country’s ecology with careless weather manipulation. Sometimes, you know, I just look at this genre and go, “Seriously? Really?”
Yeah, When We Wake is pre-dystopia.
As in, right on the cusp of so becoming, particularly because the Powers That Be are invested in a utopian vision and ignoring the social cost of bringing it to life.