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Monday, September 19, 2016

I'm Crazy But I'm Not Wrong: Stranger Things and Mental Illness

Spoilers for Stranger Things and Hannibal follow; trigger warnings for gaslighting, medical abuse, and narratively satisfying vivisection.

"I'm not crazy!"

It's a line you hear a lot in everything from urban fantasy to horror to paranoid conspiracy thrillers. The idea is to communicate that what's happening is real, and not just a delusion.

As far as throwaway utilitarian lines go, it's fine enough I suppose, but I think we can come up with a better line. Stranger Things, a Netflix original series which is so aggressively 80s that I keep expecting while watching to spontaneously be enveloped in black leather and chrome, might give us a bit of a glimpse of what a better line might be:

"I'm crazy, but I'm not wrong about this."

The basic narrative of Stranger Things follows a group of kids and adults battling against a Sinister Government Conspiracy and the Horrifying Extradimensional Monster that the government creeps have unleashed. And also there's a girl who can flip vans USING MIND BULLETS.


What's really notable in the series is that major protagonists are, in fact, crazy, in the sense that they struggle with a variety of mental illnesses and traumas predating the start of the story proper. But that doesn't make them wrong. You can be both mentally ill in this show, and a main character, and correct about government forces fucking up your life. This is important to me as someone mentally ill in an exciting variety of ways, and as someone familiar with gaslighting and people taking advantage of my own uncertainty about my perceptions. This show, in setting out a narrative where people are explicitly suffering from various conditions, and who have to fight against those trying to take advantage of them because of this, is doing something important culturally.

A real good starting point for analyzing this is one of the show's absolute best characters: Joyce "Wallfucker" Byers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Self Portrait as a Fused Gem: Steven Universe and 20th Century Art

I've been trying to find an angle on Steven Universe for a while now. It's basically tailor made for my blogging, but I've never quite been able to pull an argument together. This isn't because there's not enough to work with. Rather, there's almost too much to work with! It's an expansive show with a whole lot of complexity and nuance--more so than many of the ostensibly adult-oriented shows that I've covered here previously--and tackling any one subject directly has left me overwhelmed and frustrated.

Luckily, two recent episodes, Beta and Earthlings, gave me just the angle I needed to make headway:

They gave me the chance to talk about early 20th century art.

I swear, I'm not just sort of shoehorning this into Steven Universe as a way of tricking people into learning things. Yes, I have a background in art history from this time period, but my goal here isn't to just invent some thin pretext for babbling about Dadaism. It's actually totally the opposite: I think we can understand Steven Universe better, and in particular understand what's going on thematically in these two episodes, if we understand art in our world similar to the art created by Lapis Lazuli and Peridot!

Excuse me, the "Meep-Morp" created by Lapis Lazuli and Peridot.

And the major question the show is interested in answering is essentially: "what is the use of art within the context of war and trauma?"

What better way to answer that than looking at art produced after the First and Second World Wars?

I'm honestly considering writing an article just on this one gag image.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vriska as Fight Club Fan: A Bodyless and Timeless Persona Teaser Excerpt and Book Announcement

The following is an excerpt from my new Homestuck collection, A Bodyless and Timeless Persona, part of the essay "Is There A Text In This Classpect?" This essay, exclusive to the collection, applies reader-response theory to Homestuck in order to answer the question: "Just what is a Homestuck character, anyway?" The answer is, predictably, pretty weird and complicated. This excerpt comes from a section about one of the weirder things Homestuck characters represent: you, the reader. You can read a previous excerpt from the beginning of the essay here.
We have the suggestion from the start of Homestuck, even if it's a suggestion that comes pre-undermined, that the characters are... us, the readers. This is the source of some real interpretive weirdness, because it's not really possible to resolve the contradictions present in the first few pages of John's introduction: in many ways we do guide the actions of the characters, but once created the text is static barring the occasional games and things. And if the comic invites us to take on a role of far deeper identification than normal, with sequences like John's trip through the timeline demanding that we do actions for the characters, like entering passwords in order to continue, it also continually reasserts the autonomy of the characters and their ability to reject everything from authorial intervention to our own desires for the narrative.

One of the weirder instances of this comes midway through Act 6, with the line "You are now Caliborn."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Something That Could Never Ever Possibly Destroy Us: Ghostbusters And Its Ghosts

Writing about the new Ghostbusters film is tricky because the kind of stuff I like doing--digging into thematics and interesting structural decisions and so on--is hard to get to when a film is so totally surrounded by a river of malevolent cultural ectoplasm. And you can't really do pure structural critique anymore anyway--that hasn't really been in vogue since the early 20th century, so acting like you can just strip something of its context is disingenuous at best.

Luckily Ghostbusters does a good enough job of anticipating and reacting to its social context that you can get at the structural stuff and the cultural stuff all at once.

It's impossible to ignore the fact that this film has faced a major backlash merely for existence. The simple audacity of it daring-to-be is outrageous to people who might best be describe as "shitheads." Now I've written plenty before about geeks being conservative culturally and politically, hostile to outsiders, and rabid in their determination to ban any new thought whatsoever in the field of ostensibly "speculative" fiction. There's no point in me really retreading it here because while things are certainly badone this is essentially just the world we live in. It's Tuesday, the nerds are raging again.

In an astonishing series of events Leslie Jones was harassed off of Twitter, in the most egregious case of nerds raging. Thankfully, this led finally to the banning from Twitter of Milo Yiannopoulos, a man who is doing his best to bring back the early 20th century "gay-for-fascists" aesthetic, and an utterly repulsive racist piece of shit in the same class as Vox Day and Mencius Moldbug.
But I still feel compelled to cover the film simply because of the way it stands in relation to its predecessor and how we can understand that from a metatextual perspective. It hasn't escaped the notice of viewers that this is a film very conscious of the fact that it's coming on the heels of a "classic" film, rebooting or remaking or retreading or rehashing the film with a gender swapped cast. That is after all what all the nerd rage is about. And the film's creators are quite aware of the context that surrounds them. Sometimes this self-awareness is abrasive... but other times it is quite compelling, compelling enough to spend some time picking apart.

Now, it's probably worth noting that I'm not necessarily making this argument in order to win over long term Ghostbusters fans, because I don't really... care so much about The Ghostbusters Legacy or whatever, and I'm not that interested in consecrating the wider franchise. Someone else can do that. And while I'm always a little skeptical of the "unpleasable fanbase" thing (often a tool of huge corporations like, yes, Sony, who can deride all criticism as simply a vocal minority of over-committed fans), when an actress is getting hatemobbed off social media I feel like we have to accept that we've gone way outside the realm of the reasonable and we're not gonna pull people back.

Instead I want to talk to people who already enjoyed the film enough that they'll be interested in some deeper analysis of what the film is trying to do... and ultimately I want to try giving an imperfect film what a shocking number of people refuse to give it:

A fair chance to receive meaningful analysis.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Bodyless and Timeless Persona: Essays on Homestuck and Theme RELEASE

A Bodyless and Timeless Persona is now available for $5 patrons of Storming the Ivory Tower!

A Bodyless and Timeless Persona: Essays on Homestuck and Theme covers four previous essays from Storming the Ivory Tower exploring everything from Gnostic themes in Homestuck to the way the comic makes use of difficulty. Additionally, the collection features an exclusive triple-length article, "Is There A Text In This Classpect?," which explores all the different possible answers to the question "just what is a character in Homestuck?"

At the end of Homestuck's seven year journey, this collection aims to be a starting point for anyone interested in delving deeper into the meaning of the comic and its complex and rewarding mythology, symbolism, and narrative experimentation.

A Bodyless and Timeless Persona is available as a full PDF collection to $5 subscribers to the Storming the Ivory Tower Patreon, but you can also access the text, including the exclusive bonus article, at lower reward tiers:

And don't forget that all backers at this tier also have access to my previous collections, Neighquiem for a Dream, and My Superpower is Manpain!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

StIT Reviews: Gnosticism Take 2 and Let's Read Theory: Reader Response

I'm hard at work bashing together the last elements of A Bodyless and Timeless Persona, my upcoming book about theme in Homestuck, and as a result tonight's article has a bit of an odder format than usual. It's a mix of my review series, which highlights some of the shorter pieces I've written for my $1 Patreon backers, and my Let's Read Theory series, where I go through theory texts and try my best to translate them into less academic language and consider applications for the ideas.

The material I'm posting tonight is united in both its applicability to Homestuck, and its interest in the way that we interact with language, meaning, and interpretation as readers. Carrying over gnosticism as a theme of course makes sense. I already did it once back when I posted my last couple of Homestuck articles, because core to my understanding of the comic is the gnostic nature of its narrative. The leap to language isn't all that hard once you've got that starting point. The word was with God and the word WAS God, remember? Language is deeply embedded in the traditions that Gnosticism is a part of.

But along with this is the reality of elisions and gaps that come from interacting with texts that are fragmentary, apocryphal, and originally to be read with a repertoire that modern readers simply don't have. This is where the idea of reader response becomes relevant, and the two texts I'm covering tonight, in audio posts accessible to everyone for free over on my Patreon, are foundational to this body of theory. Stanley Fish's "Is There A Text In This Class?" questions how we can do criticism, or do really anything at all, if language doesn't have an inherent set of meanings. He considers the way that language might be thought of as contextual, allowing us to still communicate despite the arbitrary nature of words. Wolfgang Iser considers the possibilities of interpretation opened up by considering a text not as a finished work of art in itself, but as the starting point for a game of imagination between word and reader, where the "literary work" emerges only in the subjective readerly experience. These texts can help us to understand the different levels on which a complex and avant-garde text like Homestuck operates, and the way it takes advantage of the gaps and contextual demands of language, and I think they also help us to explore the interpretive openness that often appears in Gnostic-like texts.

To explore that, let's consider another modern Gnostic comic, one that was allegedly part of the inspiration for The Matrix and one that blew my tiny fragile eggshell mind as a slimy teen:

Grant Morrison's The Invisibles

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sweetest of Sounds Turned to Raging Thunder: Silverthorn and Ghostly Trauma

It's no secret my musical taste is pretty questionable. And part of that deeply questionable taste is an abiding love for symphonic metal concept albums. But there's concept albums and there's concept albums--not everything can sustain an entire article. You have to have a really compelling story, like say, an alien on a galaxy-spanning rampage in search of the perfect cup of coffee.

Kamelot's album Silverthorn is such a story. I'm continually fascinated with this album, in fact, because of the concepts it's particularly preoccupied with, and the way its recurring symbols haunt it, lurking within a twin(n)ing and reflexive narrative. Silverthorn is really an album about trauma and how the failure to grapple with trauma leads to further violence and trauma, all in the context of a Victorian gothic setting. This is interesting to me because it feels like a departure to me from the kind of masculine posturing present in so much metal, and it's also deeply engaged with a kind of hauntological tradition, a tradition of gothic ghost stories in which the repressed returns with a vengeance and the boundaries between the natural and supernatural are hazy at best.

Now, critical to the album is one particular motif which haunts the contents, a set of notes that I'll call the Silverthorn theme--not Silverthorn the album but its namesake, a beautiful silver-tipped cello bow.

It is this cello bow that in the climactic scene of the narrative becomes a murder weapon.

Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I called this a gothic story. This is a story where extended families die out in mysterious circumstances, characters chase ghosts through labyrinthine churches, and people get stabbed through the heart with musical instruments as part of sinister plots. And part of the reason I love this, like I love most metal really, is that it's simultaneously ridiculous in the extreme while also being carefully composed and deeply compelling. This is the space that the Gothic at its best tends to inhabit. Think of Bill Sikes being chased by the ghost of the murdered Nancy in Oliver Twist, ultimately being driven by this possibly imagined pursuit and the very real pursuit of an angry mob to an accidental self-hanging. This is our domain for this album and core to understanding it, I think, is this interplay between the over the top and the emotionally resonant, as well as the ambiguous status of the haunting.

Anyway, the Silverthorn motif, which can be found in the chorus of the title track ("Pale in the moonlight, the bringer of pain...") haunts the album, weaving back and forth across its narrative as the reverberations of the story's central trauma rattle an entire family to pieces. If this is a somewhat ambiguous ghost story, the ghost just might be the Silverthorn motif itself, a melody that the main characters can never seem to escape.

Now I don't think this is necessarily an album where you have to understand the story in detail to understand the music. The album gives enough details to help you puzzle out some of the basic story, and the very compressed narrative of the (shockingly pretty damn good) video for Angel of Afterlife provides an overview, albeit one that has an odd relationship to both the album itself and the written story of the album (more on this momentarily). The basic thrust though is that this is a story about a tragedy that befalls a family and how they fail spectacularly to grapple with that tragedy. Which of course I love, people failing spectacularly to deal with the world is kinda my bread and butter; it's why I'm an Evangelion fan. So this family of nice Victorians has two twin sons, Robert and an unnamed narrator, and one younger daughter, Jolee, and the story starts with an accident involving the three children where the sister is dragged by a kite that the three of them are playing with into a river and is swept away. The boys, blaming themselves for her death, and terrified of punishment, hide their knowledge of how the accident occurred, but mark their skin with a word to remind them of their involvement in her death:



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Not All Who Wander Are Lost: George RR Martin and Tolkien as Fellow Travelers

My first introduction to A Song of Ice and Fire was as a deconstruction of fantasy. George RR Martin's epic (now a "daring" and "brave" television series which you can see on HBO if you turn the brightness and contrast on your TV way, way, WAY up!!!) is, I was told, dark fantasy, with lots of shades of grey and violence and sex and so on.

It is, the subtext and sometimes the explicit text ran, not like Lord of the Rings. Or at least not like the traditions of Tolkienesque fantasy. This review of a recent episode of the (brave! genius! award winning!) tv show for example takes umbrage at the fact that the ending of a battle "has replaced that deconstruction with a blatant lift from Tolkien’s book, with the Vale forces riding in to save the day like Gandalf riding in to save Helm’s Deep." The notion of Tolkien and Martin as in some sort of competition or stark (hah) contrast is in the zeitgeist, is what I'm saying.

Having recently read the books, though, and also recently revisited The Lord of the Rings, I can't help but see this as more a product of a very narrow reading of Tolkien, and of Martin.

Some of this reading is possibly derived less from the source texts themselves but from Peter Jackson's adaptation. Look, I'm not gonna pretend that I haven't been deeply frustrated with The Lord of the Rings films since I was like 12. A lot of the stuff that most resonated with me as a kid ended up weirdly flattened, sensationalized, cut apart, or altered beyond recognition. And in the process everything got a lot more simple. I'm personally never going to forgive The Two Towers for introducing some fucking nonsense Aragorn Falls Off A Cliff subplot only to make up for it by hacking huge holes in the plot of Faramir, one of my absolute favorite characters. And others have written about some of the ways that in Jackson's hands characters like Saruman lose their thematic reason-to-be, becoming one note villains rather than complex and tragic figures.

Martin has suffered some of the same problems from the "brave" adaptation of his books, an adaptation I can't claim to have seen much of but which on a basic stylistic level seems to be run by people who don't understand that "dark fantasy" doesn't literally mean that all the sets should be chronically underlit and the characters should all wear the most drab clothing possible. I mean given that in the original text the Others are described basically as evil elves and the show develops them into ice orcs, and given that no one is walking around in the show with dyed-green beards like they commonly do in the book, it's pretty clear that they're more interested their sense of a "grim and gritty" aesthetic than what the text is trying to actually say.

Unfair? Not really. The critically lauded masterminds behind the "adaptation" literally once stated: "Themes are for eighth-grade book reports.” 

My contempt, I'd say, is well earned.

As a result perhaps of these less than stellar adaptations that have overtaken the originals, and as a result no doubt of Tolkien's many far lesser imitators, and probably to some extent as just a result of overexposure and fan discourses sort of overwhelming the original texts, a pretty remarkable fact has become obscured:

Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire are much more a part of the same thematic tradition than in opposition. Basically, on a lot of levels, Tolkien and Martin are interested in the same stuff, and talking about the same things, and traveling on the same paths. And in fact some of their same formal "stumbling blocks"--things that people find particularly infuriating--parallel each other and do similarly important work within their respective narratives.

And to explain just how this makes sense, I want to talk a little bit about a book called The Worm Ouroboros.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

StIT Reviews: Like A Duck in the Rotors of your Flying Car

I anticipated having a bit more of a barrier between this set of reviews and the last one but what can I say? The other articles I'm working on are trickier than I expected for various reasons and I've had to push them back a bit. I'd expect the first one of those to hit next week, depending on which one is giving me less trouble in the intervening time. (If you want some hints as to where those are going, there's some information on my Patreon.)

Since I'm so plagued by the present being deferred into the future indefinitely, it seems fitting that the material I've cobbled together for this set of reviews all pertains in one way or another to the way futuristic science fiction visions keep kinda letting me the fuck down.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I Have Played

I have played quite a bit over the past month, but the way I've played hasn't exactly been consistent. Oh, I think I've gotten better at playing the game the way I think it's meant to be played, and the way most (though not all) other players play it, but I've also played it a whole slew of other ways as well. I probably should have played it a year ago, when it was culturally relevant, but I have played it now, so now is when I've got to write about it. And I've got to write about it because I feel compelled to parse out all the different ways in which one might play what is really a fairly simple game.

In you are a cell among other cells floating in agar, in some sort of petri dish. As you float around you can eat nutrients, or eat the other players in order to grow larger. You control your floating direction with the mouse, and you have the ability to divide explosively in half with "space," and jettison nutrients, shrinking your size, with "w."

What's fascinating to me is that it's very possible to play the game a number of different ways that all constitute achievements of victory through a variety of self-generated goals. The strict "goal" of the game is to stay as huge as you can for as long as you can and the game does encourage this by way of the leaderboard and leveling system, which seems to be based on raw size, time spent at that size, and cells consumed. So the game does have rewards--in the form of skins and a minutely larger starting mass--that encourage certain playstyles, but it's also possible to totally rewire your sense of the game's goals, and I think that helps us consider what a gameplay experience should look like, and what that says broadly about other forms of interaction and communication.

So let's talk a bit about how I have played

I take great pride in my terrible jpg artifact covered pictures thank you very much.

Monday, May 30, 2016

StIT Reviews: The Gnostic and the Satanic

Many of my articles are driven, to a greater or lesser extent, by necessity. I have to weigh writing an article against considerations like: can I fill out a full 3000-4000 word piece on this topic? Or: does anyone but me give a shit about this thing? Or: has anyone but me even HEARD of this thing?

So, frustratingly, I often find that there's stuff I'd like to write about that just doesn't fit the usual format of StIT. Nevertheless, there's loads of stuff I want to cover, and I have enough of a readership now that I want to make people aware of smaller projects that they might otherwise miss.

With that in mind, I'm going to start putting out articles like the one you're about to read: articles that are composed of smaller reviews or spitballing about particular topics, linked by some sort of loose theme. These are articles not intended to scoop up new readers but as something for longer-term readers of the blog, stuff designed not to get hits but to open up space for me to explore stuff I'm passionate about in a fairly off-the-cuff way.

The following reviews are just four of a nine that I've written so far. The rest can be viewed by my backers on Patreon starting at the $1 tier. I'll be adding more reviews periodically, but right now this exclusive body of work contains writing on Grant Morrison's Action Comics, a summary of China Mieville's theories of Weird and Hauntological horror, some discussion of squid people, and a review of the first two books in the Song of the Lioness quartet from my perspective as a transgender person.

If this stuff seems interesting, I welcome you to become a backer to see all the reviews.

It's kinda like a direct line into my brain as I respond to what I'm reading.

Oh, and hey, you know what I have banging around in my brain a lot?

Gnostic Christianity.

Particularly since Homestuck just ended with a conclusion that was, as I predicted four years ago, Gnostic as fuck.

So let's talk about some stuff that's engaged with Gnosticism in interesting ways.

Panel from Lady of the Shard

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"We're Still Friends Right?" Fanfictional Trauma and Captain America: Civil War

"Forty million readers follow the Gumps. ... If I could prove it I would say there are exactly 16,847,915 3/4 people writing to Sidney Smith, care of the Chicago Tribune, with suggestions as to what he should do with the Gumps next. And inasmuch as most of us take the Gumps seriously and expect to have our suggestions followed, the problem of these suggestions is a real one, after all."
--William Fleming French, describing an example of the problem of fannish engagement for newspaper comic The Gumps, quoted in Jared Gardner's Projections
There are really only two places you can have the villain of one major franchise sing a song from another major franchise. One of those places is in fanfiction.

But hold that thought while we talk about this image from Age of Ultron and what it can tell us about Captain America: Civil War.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Just Peachy: Homestuck, Act 6, and Difficulty

==> Storming the Ivory Tower Writer: Fondly Observe Libations

You, which is to say I, observe your, which is to say my, IMMACULATE DOMAIN, containing my IMMACULATE CHAIR and IMMACULATE SELF. You (read: I) have cleared away all those EXTRA SAM KEEPERS which were clogging up the joint, repaired the roof that's been busted for SEVERAL YEARS, and finally gotten some NICE WINE which you (still me) are currently fondly regarding.

You (I) have achieved the absolute apex of God Tier powers, which includes among other things fixing roofs, ushering extraneous versions of people gently but firmly out of the narrative so they don't clutter up things for the real, true versions, and to make absolute pronouncements with assured certainty, which everyone will accept automatically you're sure (which is to say I am sure).

==> StIT Writer: Demonstrate Abilities.

Act 6 and Act 7 do a much better job of addressing and resolving character arcs than [s] Cascade does.

Boom. See that?

Staggering in its radical brilliance but fundamentally undeniable in its accuracy.

(Sam Keeper): What? You can't just say something like that and pat yourself on the back! There's loads of stuff you'd have to explain to make that make sense to people.

==> StIT Writer: Ignore Unwelcome Intrusion

(Sam Keeper): Are you listening to me? You're leaving out so much important information, like even ignoring the fact that you haven't explained why you're even MAKING that comparison, the comparison is only interesting if you talk about a bunch of other stuff that Act 6 is doing. I mean yeah the whole act is basically about experiencing difficulty and working through that difficulty rather than expecting flashy magical solutions, and that APPLIES to this comparison, but the comparison really isn't interesting unless you talk about all that stuff first!

(Sam Keeper): In fact, even people that seem to agree with me that the end of Homestuck was pretty great take as given the idea that [s] Cascade resolved a load of stuff, and they position [s] Act 7 in opposition to this.

(Sam Keeper): Look, just, fill people in a bit! Act 6 is difficult but that difficulty is really interesting and worth talking about, so let's talk about it!

==> StIT Writer: Indulge This Walking Narrative Cul-De-Sac

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Homestuck, Destiny, and why Social Constructs are Bullshit

==> StIT Reader: Survey The Mayhem

You enter the pub to find that things are EVEN WORSE THAN USUAL. Most notably, there seem to be MANY SAM KEEPERS. This is a terrible development, you think to yourself. And you are correct. One Sam Keeper was already just about all that you could handle. This is ENTIRELY TOO MANY SAM KEEPERS.

The most agitated looking of the Sam Keepers is PONTIFICATING ABOUT SOME BULLSHIT.

==> StIT Reader: Listen to pontification

Sam Keeper: Oh god, who could have possibly predicted that my extremely nebulously defined and possibly totally bullshit powers as the mythic Page of Paper could have caused so many problems? All the jumping I've done recently between various places has just created all these weird, kind of creepy alternate versions of myself, and now the whole blog is stuck under some mountain... I'll never finish my epic quest at this point and grow up to be a Well Adjusted Adult! And I have this whole article to write about how totally perfect and unassailable every aspect of Troll culture is! What the heck am I going to do???

==> StIT Reader: Offer to listen to Keeper's excellent theories about quadrant shipping

Hell no. Keeper made her bed and she can sleep in it. Or more specifically she stole your chair and she can sit in it. Yeah, that metaphor scans, kinda. Anyway it's probably just Keeper's intractable destiny to fuck everything up forever.

Hold on, though, it looks like one of the other Keepers has something to say.

==> Sam Coper: Sort this mess out

Sam Coper: You know Alternian culture is bullshit though right?

Sam Keeper: What the heck? Who are you?

Sam Coper: I'm you, but way, way calmer. Way calmer. Jesus buddy. I'm the you that actually learned to cope with things instead of doing an acrobatic fucking pirouette off the handle every time something goes wrong. And also I figured out that I can make this God Tier outfit have a cool skirt and shit, look at it!

Anyway, for real though, Alternian culture is bullshit, and so is your destiny, and that's... actually kind of a huge theme within the comic.

Sam Keeper: Ok, look, you're gonna have to break this one down for me a bit more.

Sam Coper: With pleasure.

See, Homestuck, among many other things, reveals that lots of stuff we think is natural or an inescapable fact of reality is actually a social and historical construct! And in fact, Homestuck shows that our identities might be a lot more free and fluid than we think.

==> StIT Reader: Try to understand.