Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Incubus Dreams--chapter 21-22

I love watching people. They don't need to be doing anything in particular. It's just facinating to watch large groups of them do things.

Over the last three years I've watched the "magic hour" of our restaurant travel up and down the clock. The "magic hour" is better known as a rush. If we're gonna get people, it's gonna be then. The good news is, if our day sucks, everybody else's day sucked too. Today did not exactly suck (Let's just say I made enough to justify buying a six pack on my way home) but it was not nearly as good as it was last week. It's a trend I've noticed thanks to several years of doing this: If we are INCREDIBLY BUSY one weekend, that Tuesday and Wednesday, life at the restaurant sucks eggs. It's like everybody needs a recharge--or more likely, their next paycheck--before they start drinking and stuffing themselves again. The same is ESPECIALLY true for Sunday mornings. If it is a busy Saturday night, it will not be an equally busy Sunday morning...and if it is, it'll be at noon, when the hangover has worn off enough for the customers to go seeking breakfast and a hair of the dog--we are not the ONLY place in town that offers alcohol as early as legally possible, but I think we're the only one open before eleven. (Yes. People start asking for booze before eleven. People start asking for booze before nine. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY PEOPLE.)

We talk a lot about "trending" and things, but it is AMAZING how all of a sudden people go "OH WE WANT TO EAT HERE." We will be deader than Jimmy Hoffa's toenails at 6:58, and at 7:00 we will have three six tops and a nice smattering of twos, only half of whom will have bothered to call first. My only explanation is a nascent group mind. It's bizzare.

...oh, and I was so bored I spent the entire evening charting out the next six months re: book drops when I wasn't taking out salads. I kind of want to curl into a small ball and whimper loudly for a while.

Right. Shitty book.

So, my loyal blog-readers, in what universe is this: 

I SCREAMED, AND Richard’s mouth was suddenly on mine. He kissed me, a gentle press of lips. Fear thrilled through me, all the way to my fingertips, as if terror were an electric current. I shoved him away from me.
romantic? Because I never ever ever want to go there.

 LKH then goes on a long skreed about how "panic gets you killed" and then she adds THIS:

Panic that freezes your body, numbs your mind, makes you forget everything you’ve ever learned about how to make your body a weapon, and all that is left is a small screaming voice inside your head that makes you a victim.
Okay, I went off on this with somebody else the other day, and now it's finally topical.

Human beings have three settings in a panic situation: Fight, Flight, or Submit. Our first choice is always to run. If factors remove flight as an option, however, we go into fight. HOWEVER, our bodies are also really good at admitting when fight becomes dangerous, and it goes into stage three: submit. Bow your head, endure, and wait for the situation to end.

Yes. I got this from John Ringo. Yes. He's incredibly fucked up. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. 

This is not just a momentary impulse, either. I firmly believe that abuse victims remain in an abusive situation because their abuser has convinced them psychologically that it is more dangerous for them to run or fight than it is for them to remain in the situation. AND THIS INSTINCT IS OFTEN PROVEN RIGHT. There are so many true-crime murder stories that start with some form of "She/he left their abuser" or "she/he fought back". We, as a society, DO NOT PROVIDE VICTIMS with the support system and the legal options to make running from abuse a safe and life giving choice. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they decide to leave or fight. This is why we should never wonder "Why didn't she/he leave or call the police?". Because they knew on an instinctive, gut level that if they tried they would die. Okay? Okay. 

LKH just made that gut instinct into a sign of weakness. Something just tripped Anita Blake's "OH SHIT I AM GOING TO DIE IF I MOVE" switch and rather than having the focus be on how evil the aggressor is for doing this to her, the focus is on Anita's weakness in being that afraid.

The acceptance of momentary abuse rather than die is not weakness. It's survival. It's basic human code. It's written into the ones and zeroes of our DNA. If your body screams "I AM GOING TO DIE IF YOU KEEP DOING THIS" it is NOT weak to stop doing whatever it is, even if that is fighting for your life against another person. Deciding that you would rather be a victim than be dead is not a weak choice, any more than deciding to breathe is a weak choice. THIS IS HOW YOUR BODY IS HARDWIRED. It's a shitty god awful choice that you never should have had to make, but your survival is more important than your street cred, and if you had to make that choice once, or twice, or a hundred times so that you could sit there and read this? You are strong, and good, and wonderful, and the world would be uglier without you. You are not weak. You survived. You are alive, and that means you won and they lost, and fuck anybody who thinks you should have done anything different. They weren't there.

This is the second fucking paragraph.

Meanwhile ,Richard is enjoying the scent of Anita's fear like it's FLOWERS.

He pulls her away from Damian and he and Anita and Jean Claude start throwing Moroven back with the POWER OF LOVE.

Moroven flees, and Anita collapses because she just sensed that Richard is a closeted sadist who hates everything that he is.

Nice ret-con of ten fucking books, but let's pretend for even ONE SECOND that it fits, okay? Okay.

So is getting off on hurting people okay if you have the moral structure to avoid doing it? I don't know. I just know if Mark Harmon (Ghost, AKA why John Ringo is a truely fucked up soul) is a reprehensible character for being what he is, Richard just joined him in the "Waste of fucking skin and hair" second of the library.

Anita then decides that Richard "loved his shame more" than he loved her. He hated her because she could accept his beast.

Apparently "Acceptance" looks like "Running the fuck away when he shapeshifts on top of me and eats his rival, and then giving his romantic rival a comfort blowjob."

Because that's what Anita did the first time he shape-shifted in front of her. Or, rather, right on top of her.

Everybody goes to the were-rat doctor AKA Dr. Lillian to get stitched up, and Anita rambles about love until the end of the chapter.

Anita then decides to get dressed, when it's like almost nighttime or something (SERIOUSLY. WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?) ...in black combat gear, complete with a gun in the shoulder holster.

I live in Texas. I have relatives who collect some pretty scary weaponry. NONE of them are as batshit about guns as Anita.

There are descriptions of men and guns and clothes and apparently Richard is still in the house.

Everybody tells her she doesn't have to go into the kitchen and talk to him. For pages. And pages. AND PAGES.

 Finally Nate says "I'm going to go make coffee in the coffee machine YOU HATE" and the chapter ends with an argument about it.

We've gone from rape paranoia to irrational hate of French Press coffeemakers.

I now have tonal whiplash.


  1. There's a terrific Seanbaby quote about people who talk about guns like LKH/Anita talks about guns - "But with all the mysticism and intrigue of martial arts, it's sometimes hard to tell if the Karate Master you're speaking with is a passionate hobbyist or a delusional douchebag. The easiest way to tell is how much he explains his fighting style before you've asked. If a guy tells you he takes krav maga and he's done talking about it, he's a normal person who enjoys krav maga. If he tells you he trains in krav maga and immediately describes the situations where he could use it like the Israeli commandos who invented it because they needed a fighting style that worked, you should feel safe using a punch to get him to shut up."

    1. That would be "talk about martial arts like LKH/Anita talks about guns" - sorry, didn't get much sleep last night.

  2. Human beings have three settings in a panic situation: Fight, Flight, or Submit.

    Bluff. Bluff, flight, or fight. It does not surprise me at all that John Ringo would forget bluff and focus on submit. That simplistic Alpha-Beta social heirarchy beloved of Manly Men doesn't have room in it for the option preferred by most animals, which is to look scary and hope for the best.

  3. The only nitpick I have is that this "I firmly believe that abuse victims willingly remain in an abusive situation because their abuser has convinced them psychologically that it is more dangerous for them to run or fight than it is for them to remain in the situation. " sounds like people are making an agency based choice to remain. It's just the use of "willing" that throws me, though I see what you're getting at and I agree.

    This post made me wonder if LKH is so emotionally shallow that she can't imagine people evolving and growing. I don't know why else she would constantly reset her characters like she does with Richard. He will never be allowed to get over his shame and self loathing because LKH simply does not know how to write something with that kind of depth.

    1. It was a poor choice of words on my part. Sorry. There IS a certain amount of volition in remaining in an abusive situation--you're not chained down--but exactly how much agency does exist is questionable.

      My bad.

      Well, if LKH allowed Richard to grow and evolve, he would probably leave the story forever. LKH can't let characters leave once they get into her orbit. One good explosion would fix a quarter of the book's issues (bloated fucking cast) AND give us a good plotline. Letting characters move away would do the same damn thing. But if that happened then you'd have to develop an actual plot and character development. LKH's habit when she gets slammed into a wall is apparently to bring in another new character, rather than develop an old one, or vice versa.

      I have a bunch of "rules" for my books (IE the main character rescues HERSELF in every book, thank you) and the hardest one to follow when I hit the end of a book is NO NEW CHARACTERS ALLOWED. I broke it HARD on Valkyrie and I'm not sure that was a good thing. Keeping it on Black Hounds was freaking HARD. Every time LKH drags a new character into the third act of a book I both nod in understanding and freaking cringe. I have no idea how to properly explain this--it has to do with Not Overloading The Reader, which is always important--but every time somebody introduces New!Random!Character in act three, the ending freaking blows.

    2. Her unwillingness to kill anyone really hampers her writing. There are no consequences in her world that truly stick. Part of the issue is that none of these secondary characters have lives outside of Anita, and Anita is not allowed to have true flaws. If she was, Richard would have walked away and never come back.

      Also any author that portrays male rape victims in anything less than a serious light earns my immediate ire.

  4. "Richard is enjoying the scent of Anita's fear like it's FLOWERS."
    :D :D :D. Does it say in the text that it's like flowers? Normally, I would take that as a simile, but this is the woman who's vomit smelled like jasmine.

    Let's pretend that Richard is a closeted sadist. Wouldn't that make him a better person for not indulging on his impulses without the consent of his partners? What is she shaming him here for? Liking to cause pain, just like her other partners do? Or not acting on his impulses when he thinks that it would be abusive?

    Wait, this is Richard. He is to be shamed for everything.

    I'm almost out of coffee. I'm sure that's his fault, too.

    1. And I fucking quote:

      "His eyes closed as if he’d smelled the sweetest of flowers, his head thrown back, just a little."

      ...I'm almost out of pricy iris infused gin. Can that be his fault too?