Monday, May 22, 2017

The Rev Reads It For You: Lock, Stock, and Proxies (Rules for Radicals)

In this chapter, Alinsky tackles two subjects: first, thinking on your feet; second, using stock shares to put pressure on corporations. This will be a shorter post than usual, as will be the next and final.

Why? Two reasons. First, because thinking on your feet is something that can't be fully taught in a logical manner because at a certain point, you're going to have to go beyond logic. So there's a limit to what you can say on the subject! Second, because proxies are simply one example of many different forms of improvosational tactics one can employ. The point isn't "buy stock to push your social agenda," the point is "have your eyes open for holes to exploit."

"The greatest barrier to communication between myself and would be organizers arises when I try to get across the concept that tactics are not the product of careful cold reason, that they do not follow a table of organization or plan of attack...the tactic itself comes out of the free flow of action and reaction, and requires on the part of the organizer an easy acceptance of apparent disorganization."
Cold reason is wonderful when you have time to plan and prepare and tweak, but it's mostly useless in the heat of battle. Having a manual of Accepted Tactics that you learn by rote and perform by rote is a great way to get your robot ass killed. Think of it in video game terms - no matter how powerful the boss, once you observe and understand their attack patterns, they're basically dead. When you can't think intuitively, you become the boss monster with the flashing red weakness.

So remember, if Alinsky could teach any one thing to your enemies, it is the value of coming up with tactics on the fly.

We continue after the jump.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

[AVW016] Lilith, Demoness of the Night (The Shadow) Part Two

Previous: [AVW015] Lilith, Demoness of the Night (The Shadow) Part One

-Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back

The Narrative Role

Sora and Anti Form Sora
The Shadow is one of the most common video game archetypes (really, one of the most common in all human storytelling), but it usually does not function as a game mechanic. Usually, the Shadow functions on the levels of character and narrative.

It is so very common. Either the villain is a dark reflection of the hero (Batman and the Joker) or else a relative of the hero (Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader), or else some sort of literal manifestation of dark energy created from the hero's heart (Sora and Heartless Sora, Anti Form Sora, Roxas, and like eleven other characters).

There are plenty of fine examples of female Heroine/Shadow pairs in stories. Ripley and the Xenomorph Queen ("Get away from her, you BITCH!"). Samus Aran vs Mother Brain. The chaste protagonist vs. the sexually aggressive antagonist in pretty much every romance novel/movie/etc. ever (a good gaming example is in Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure). We can expand this list with a few pairs covered in this series already; Inanna vs. Ereshkigal, Paghat vs. Anat, Psyche vs. Venus.

Again, this usage of the archetype is so common that detailed analysis is really not necessary, but a few words are perhaps in order for specifically female Shadows.

First, a Shadow for a female Protagonist works best when the Shadow is also female. The psychological mirroring is less effective when the villain is the opposite gender. It's a case of making the Other too "Other" to function as an appropriate foil. That's not to say that a male antagonist can never work, only that a female Shadow is the most directly accessible setup.

The inner Male aspect of women is more effectively used as the Animus, which is a more positive aspect of the inner Other. This is perhaps why bald faced anti-patriarchy morality fables are so rarely good story-telling (in addition to the usual problems of "party line" fiction).

Second, note that some of the best conflicts with the female Shadow center around sexuality. Ripley and the Queen conflict over their children. Cornet and Marjoly in Rhapsody conflict over the affections of Prince Ferdinand. Psyche and Venus clash over Cupid; husband to the first and son of the second. The Whore/Madonna Complex (or the Lilith/Eve Complex) is not just psychologically compelling to men!

Third, note that there are plenty of conflicts that do not directly center around sexuality. Inanna and Ereshkigal mainly clash over authority and power. Paghat seeks revenge against Anat for her brother's murder. Samus fights Mother Brain for survival. And while a clever sort might find sexual symbolism in these stories as well, it functions on a level more implied than explicit (and really, you can stretch sexual symbolism into anything).

To sum up, on the narrative level, you want your female protagonist's Shadow to be female as well. Otherwise there is less of a sense that they are confronting themselves and growing as a character. The lack of a strong female villain is one of the major weaknesses of the new Star Wars franchise, along with Rei's lack of shortcomings to overcome - and these issues are not unrelated! Without an appropriate, easily accessible foil, the Heronie's inner struggle is harder to grasp.

Not very subtle, but effective as fuck.
We continue with Game Mechanics after the jump.

Monday, May 15, 2017

[AVW015] Lilith, Demoness of the Night (The Shadow) Part One

Previous: [AVW014] Rethinking the Heronie (The Persona)

"I defy you! I hold myself against you! What I choose to be, you cannot change. I will not be what you think me—what you say I am!"

George MacDonald, Lilith, a romance

The Story in a Nutshell

Lilith comes to us from the weird word of Jewish and pre-Jewish Mesopotamian demonology. There are hundreds of individual variations of her story, so we'll look at one generalized version.

When God made Man in the Garden of Eden, He also made a woman from the same dirt. This was the first woman, for as Genesis 1:27 says, "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." This initial act of creation, however, was not the creation of Eve - she is formed from Adam's rib in chapter 2.

There was another woman before Eve, a first woman named Lilith who was made from the dust of the earth, just as Adam was. She was an equal creation to Adam, and thus chafed under his authority.

"For why," said she, "Should I be subject to this man, who was made from the same dirt as I?" And so, refusing to lie with Adam or bear him children, she instead fled from the Garden of Eden.

Unlike Eve, who sinned and yet may be "saved through childbearing," Lilith chose to lie with the Serpent and became the mother of a race of monsters. She herself became a demoness, reigning over such evils as abortion, miscarriage, cradle death, sorcery, and witchcraft. It is even said that she rapes men at night in their sleep, using their seed to conceive more demons.

The word "Lilith" does actually appear in Isaiah 34:11 as part of a prophecy of the destruction of Edom:
"But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it,
Also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.
And He shall stretch out over it
The line of confusion and the stones of emptiness."
The Hebrew term translated as "owl" is in fact "Lilith," a name thought to derive from various Mesopotamian demons. It's actually kind of fun to look at the various terms Bible translators have used for Lilith, ranging from "night monster" to "vampires" to "night creature." The Latin Vulgate uses the term "lamia," a similar female monster that drinks blood and has the tail of a snake, and the Septuagint uses "onocentaur," a half-man half-donkey monster.

In modern times, Lilith has become something of a Feminist icon, standing as a symbol of sexual promiscuity and resistance to male authority. The baby-murdering and Satan-fucking are presumably a plus as well.

Join us for more after the jump.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Rev Reads It For You: The Thirteen Rules of Power Tactics

I decided not to let three months go by between posts this time, which must surely be a shock.Today we're talking about the meat and bones of tactics.

"Here our concern is with the tactic of taking; how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves."
Smarmy pulpitizing on the immorality of it all aside, this statement betrays something of a flaw in Alinskism: what do you do when your side has become the Haves? When you have won over, say, the majority of the education system, government bureaucracy, and massive influence everywhere else? A legitimate question, and you'll see how these tactics start to break down.
"First the eyes; if you have organized a vast, mass-based people's organization, you can parade it visibly before the enemy and openly show your power.
Second the ears; if your organization is small in numbers, then do what Gideon did: conceal the members in the dark but raise a din and clamor that will make the listener believe that your organization numbers many more than it does.
Third, the nose; if your organization is too tiny even for noise, stink up the place."
We can similar tactics nowadays with sockpuppet accounts (concealing small numbers) and trolls (stink up the place).

The 13 rules alluded to in the title of the post are after the break.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Rev Reads it For You: I Get the Power (Rules for Radicals)

Alright, there's been enough wasted time. Let's jump right the hell back into Rules for Radicals with In The Beginning, a chapter on getting power.

"IN THE BEGINNING the incoming organizer must establish his identity or, putting it another way, get his license to operate. He must have a reason for being there— a reason acceptable to the people."
This is solid advice, and it needs to be said that formal credentials ("I have a Bachelor's in Community Organization!") gets you nowhere and fast. This isn't about proving your credentials, but demonstrating (take a moment to really mull over that word, demonstrating) your value.

The rest is after the jump, and I'mma warn you right now, this is a long one.