Friday, November 15, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 24

Everybody's got to take another bath to wash pieces of Nathanial, Haven and Graham out of their hair. That's what the text says. It also says this part:

Thanks to the problems we’d had with the masters of both Cape Cod and Chicago, we had extra guards. They had actually put guards on the coffin room, which was fortunate; Meng Die had cracked her coffin when she got the power rush that all of Jean-Claude’s people got from our sex with Augustine. Meng Die, more powerful, not a good thought.

Last post I mentioned that sociopaths are unable to maintain peer-to-peer platonic relationships. Anita is straight; women are demonized because she can't snow them, she can't stand being a student anymore (the handful of positive female relationships so far have all been teachers, like her Wiccan friend) and nobody is stupid enough to try to learn anything from Anita Blake. This is a prime example. Meng Die is pretty powerful. She's not powerful enough to force Anita to accept her as an equal, but she's powerful enough to make that acceptance a good political choice. Instead of making that choice and working with Meng, Anita demonizes her for being out of control and dangerous. And there's a little more than sociopathic misogyny going on here. Another characteristic of sociopathic relationships is isolation. If you're involved with a sociopath, they will make great attempts to isolate you from people they cannot control. In the case of a romantic relationship, this usually means demonizing family and friends, especially people the sociopath has no interest in seducing. If the sociopath is in a "teacher" role with you, they will demonize other information sources--other students, other teachers, experts in your feild--so that you become dependant on them and only them. If they're your student, they're the student constantly telling on their peers and continually sucking up to you, trying to convince you that they are the only person who values your knowledge. The reason behind this isn't gender competition. It's a power play. The fewer people you trust, the fewer reality checks you have, and the more secure their control is.

Anita is attempting--successfully, I might add--to distance Jean Claude from a powerful female figure who sees right through Anita's bullshit. That's what's going on here. Its easy to read this as a gender thing, but IMHO that's an oversimplification because it implies that it's a passive act on Anita's part, and if she simply changed her perspective re: women, Anita would be able to relate to Meng Die (and Ronnie. And the female cop whose name I can't remember.) on a peer-to-peer basis. But Anita dislikes Meng Die because Anita can't manipulate Meng Die; Meng Die sees through Antia. Meng Die is a potential source of trouble and Anita needs to get her men away from her before Meng Die "infects" them with, you know, sanity.  And cloaking it under a blanket of misogyny lets her hide the actively toxic behavior as something a little bit more passive. Jean Claude has been doing the same thing with Anita since Guilty Pleasures. (Which doesn't mean misogyny isn't there; it's just that Anita hates women because she has no power over them and she fucking knows it. I'm actually having a lot of trouble articulating this thought...)

Anyhoo. Anita and Jean Claude start cuddling. They both reveal that they're dreaming about the Mother of All Darkness. And the text pretty much illustrates exactly what I'm talking about:

“I saw her bend over you, ma petite. I saw her begin to take you away from me. But I could not reach you, the darkness held me as her figure bent over you.” He shuddered, and held me tight against his body. “I could not reach you, and her voice taunted me for my carelessness.” He kissed the top of my head. “But she also told me that if I had given you the fourth mark, that she would have killed you, for if she could not control you, then she would destroy you.”
Have I mentioned lately that everbody in this novel is terrible?

They discuss how Anita used her inner wolf to bite the MOAD, and Micah reveals that Chimera could invade people's dreams with his inner animals so maybe Anita got the lion part of her inner zoo through Chimera and maybe she got that other power too, because it's not like Anita isn't overpowered enough.

You know, my three favorite characters all count as Mary Sues (Honor Harrington, Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor). They're overpowered as fuck in their respective universes, But I think the difference between, say, Honor and Anita is Honor doesn't give a fuck and Anita does. Probably the key difference between Anita as a character and Honor Harrington as a character is that Honor actively seeks peers and Anita actively destroys them. Honor not only has no problem dropping to someone else's level, she actively works to raise other people to hers. Even her enemies, once the shooting's over, get treated as equals with a good deal of respect. Her employees are treated as peers, captains in her fleet are treated as equals, and her family relationships are fucking awesome. (Of course part of this is because David Weber is a stone bastard whose goal is to make you weep uncontrollably at least once a book)  Anita cannot have peers. She actively fights against having any platonic equals. There is something about Anita's character that makes peer-to-peer relationships an active threat that needs to be avoided at all cost. That's why she's got all the powers and all the beauty and all the boyfriends and basically all the things ever: nobody can ever be her equal. And if someone is? She has to break them and take the part of them that makes them capable of facing Anita on an equal footing.

And I'm not pulling this out of my ass. THIS IS IN THE TEXT.

Jean-Claude answered, “If you are to be a panwere, and there is a chance that you will gain new animals until your first change of shape, then we have the opportunity to gain great power.”
Yep. Jean Claude wants Anita to go collect more of the things.

Remus, who I guess is a were-rat, comes in to check in with the boss before the shift-change. This sounds like a rational move to me, but Anita treats it like it's a thing and gives Remus the nth digree. It turns out that everybody wants Anita under guard so that if she shifts for the first time, they can get her under control without killing anyone, including Anita. Again: this is a rational move. Not only is a shifter dangerous, if Anita does change nobody knows what they'll get.

Of course, this is a deadly insult that must be broken down immediately. But Jean Claude and Micah prevail and get Anita to agree to having two body guards at all time. We then digress into why Narcissus and his were-heyenas fell so easily--because Narcissus recruited the wrong kind of men. "Looks and muscle" and not big strong manly manly men with ex-military backgrounds, which is what Narcissus is recruiting now.

End of chapter.


  1. "You know, my three favorite characters all count as Mary Sues (Honor Harrington, Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor). They're overpowered as fuck in their respective universes"

    I think that the reason that the Doctor works as an overpowered character is that he and the Doctor Who universe are very aware of how overpowered he is and it ultimately works against him. Demon's Run was a prime example, the Doctor had become this unstoppable force of fear and because of that his enemies had united to stop him and used his companions in their plan. The Doctor, unlike Anita, struggles to keep himself in check. He's very aware that there are many things he can do but shouldn't. That just because someone has the power to do something/anything, doesn't mean they should. Water of Mars is a good example.

    Water of Mars also shows how much the Doctor needs others. As you've noted, Anita the sociopath doesn't have peer relationships or any healthy relationships. She holds herself above 'mere mortals' and normal humans. The Doctor, on the other hand, loves humans. And he needs his companions, normal ordinary humans, to help keep him check. Yes, the Doctor is much more powerful and intelligent than us, at the same time his companions are able to see things he can't see from his overpowered perspective and that is why he brings them along.

    The Doctor doesn't do well when he travels alone...

    Sorry for the long rant, hardcore Whovian here. But it is interesting to see that a Sue character can be written well. The other thing about the Doctor is that he experiences consequences to his actions and mistakes. Anita never makes a mistake and when she does it is either brushed off and ignored or explained away as someone else's fault. What happens with Haven is a good example of this...and wait till you hear about Joseph.

    1. And the Doctor wants to bring out the best in his Companions - even Four and the First, both of whom had very little time for human dithering, were always pleased to see their Companions grow and change for the better. Nobody gets to change or grow in the Anitaverse, and the only accomplishments that matter are those that benefit Anita in some way.

  2. I think you did terrifically for thinking you had trouble articulating; it all makes a great deal of sense.