Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

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Maclurv
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Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

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Zara
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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

Hoo boy. I've glanced at a few paragraphs here and there. This is going to be a tough one for me. This time, I think I'll respond after I read the whole thing.

Eventually,

Zara

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Zara
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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

"Keys to the Kingdom" by Ginny Shearin
http://www.classicalliance.net/tunnelta ... nkeys.html

So, ah, fasten safety-belts, dear hearts? I am going to dissect this puppy into smithereens.

My response to this story can be described by the phrase, "It rankles." I find this piece a well-written interpretation of that "A Kingdom By the Sea" scene. Yet its depiction of intimacy is marred by a unilateral misapprehension of Vincent's motives, and a complete denunciation of his value system. This story portrays a common approach in fandom to the issue of power. Specifically, it reallocates the power of Vincent's humility into Catherine's all-knowing control. It also dismisses as absurd all of Vincent's explanations for his own actions. The effect is one of gentle condescension, if there can be such a thing. At any rate, it is by far the "gentlest" variation of this type of story that I've yet read. I stopped reading fanfiction for months after encountering a similar scenario by Edith Crowe that detailed a truly appalling post-Winterfest encounter for our title lovers. But maybe "disguised condescension" is a better way to describe the tone of this piece. So it's actually a good example for me to critique. This is how my inquisitive mind perceives the elements of the story.

I'll point out the passages that most "rankled," and try to puzzle out why they bother me.

Catherine's Section:

...

Was she on the edge of another battle to stay in Vincent’s life? Was he trying to be noble and planning to send her away again, or was he testing the waters to see if she might be having second thoughts - about what? - about her relationship with him? - about her feelings for Elliot?... Surely Vincent couldn’t send her away now...or think she would want to go. Well, if that was what he was thinking, he would have his work cut out for him. He would have to shove her out of the tunnels kicking and screaming this time...and lock the gates behind her until she ran out of gates to re-enter. They had been making slow progress, and she would not be sent back "to find happiness with someone else" now. There wouldn’t be happiness with someone else. How could he possibly not understand that?


I'm just going to say it. I hate this train of thought. Hate it. It is the essence of a sickeningly manupulative and co-dependent relationship. If that's who people think Vincent is...then I believe they've completely misunderstood the story. Beauty is never at war with Beast, trying to keep him from kicking her out of his life. The entire point of the fairy tale is that the Beast keeps inviting her in, and further in, and further in. This author's interpretation absolutely refuses to listen to what Vincent said during "A Happy Life," about his feelings and motivations. Even then, in that one instance when he determined that separation from Catherine was the only recourse to permit final healing, he never "sent her away." Vincent does not ever, ever, ever, force Catherine to do anything Catherine does not want to do. Why do people get so condescending toward Vincent when he expects Catherine to treat him with the same respect he shows her?

...

...as she turned and eased herself into his lap - an unheard of breach of his normal boundaries. Moving slowly enough to allow him to protest if he felt the need, but quickly enough not to give him an excessive amount of time to think it through, she rested his arm across her knees and settled herself lovingly against him.


(1) A protest against a gesture of "intimacy" is expected. (2) This is "loving" manipulation. Not "seduction," as the author is ever so careful to point out later. But manipulation parsed as an act of responsible love. Vincent's "normal boundaries" don't matter. Vincent's "normal boundaries" are meant to be viewed as abnormal, according to this Catherine's standards. Comparing the present story to the original episode, Catherine's lap-sitting is actually out of character for the Catherine of the series too. So here's a double "I don't think so," from this reader.

...

...and she thought Vincent seemed to need the reassurance of this new closeness as much as she did.


Which somehow justifies such intrusion when it's been clearly stated that the author's Catherine knows what Vincent's boundaries are and decides it's time to supercede them.

...

"Maybe I was sympathizing...maybe I needed to be kissed, too. It’s been a long time...and it was a desperate moment."


And here's a subtle rebuke. If you had been kissing me regularly beforehand, my sense of deprivation would not have led me to find solace from another source. Ouch. Really? Assumption: Vincent withholds rightful affection from Catherine, while she does not do so with him. It justifies Catherine's bid for relational power in this scene.

...

"The only thing that would be better would be remembering that you returned it." She knew she was pushing her luck, but while they were being honest....

"I’m afraid...if I allow myself...." His voice trailed off, and he looked away again.


While they were being honest. Uh huh. So the habit of their relationship is to be dishonest? Or, at best, merely avoidant? (The author has more to say about this in the Vincent section.) Okay, I can see how one might arrive at this conclusion if one is dissatisfied with the tenor of the onscreen conversations Vincent and Catherine get to share. We've discussed that frustration with the storytelling style before. But this depiction of how Vincent and Catherine relate to one another is so...so...skewed. And the pushing (the author's word, repeated several times), Catherine's quiet coercion, is just ugly.

...

She would have been disappointed if he had stopped her, but she wouldn’t have pushed him any farther if he had.


And this self-limitation makes the rest of the "pushing" okay?

...

It wasn’t the experienced kind of kiss she would have had from Elliot, but it was the one she had waited for for so long...the one Vincent offered of his own accord. They had the rest of their lives to experiment enough to develop perfection.


Assumption: Vincent is woefully inexperienced. Assumption: Vincent's ignorance/inexperience does not match Catherine's notions of perfection. Assumption: Catherine knows what "perfection" is supposed to entail. Assumption: Catherine has been urging Vincent to "catch up" with her "normal" level of romantic experience. Assumption: Tonight's product of careful manipulation may be considered to occur "of Vincent's own accord." Assumption: Since this is a kind of "breakthrough" moment, the new conditions instituted in this scene may be expected to carry through into the future, perpetuating Catherine's dominance and Vincent's submission. And question: If Catherine kissed Elliot and wanted it to be Vincent, then why is she now kissing Vincent while comparing him to Elliot?

...

"Catherine, he could give you so much. I limit your life...in so many ways. I would understand...if you chose to return to the life you were born to...but letting you go...would be...."


This is straight out of the disabled stereotype playbook. It reinterprets Vincent's earlier lines into a faulty construct. Vincent as I understand him would never say this. In the realm of logical fallacies, this statement sets up a Straw-Man.

...

"... now that you’ll never try to send me away again...that you’ll never make another decision ‘for my own good’ without including me in the decision." Not hearing an immediate answer, she emphasized her demand by pounding the handful of vest against his chest. "Promise me...now!" That point would be settled before she left.


The Vincent of the TV show has never done this to the Catherine of the TV show. The Catherine of the TV show would never (not after her darkest moment in the Pilot) physically strike out at Vincent, just as he would never physically strike out at her. And again, this kind of dialogue reveals a failure to hearken to Vincent's self-expression in "A Happy Life" (and probably many other episodes as well).

...

Finally. She had his promise. He must have finally understood that she would settle for no one else.


Funny, though, how throughout the series, Catherine repeatedly turns from Vincent to focus on other relationships with all manner of someone elses. He knows her heart and so I don't believe he is confused or affronted by her behavior, but I could understand why he might be, especially in an alternate universe like this one where Vincent is ignorant to a fault and lacks both the wisdom and compassion of the Vincent from the TV show.

...

"A cut. It isn’t important."

"It is important, but we can discuss it another time, if you’d rather," she answered...


Again, Vincent's assessments about what is important and what is not important are thrust aside. Catherine says it is important, so it is. She knows better than he what they need to pay attention to. But her "politeness" in offering him a choice about "when" to discuss why she is right and he is wrong is supposed to validate her dismissal of Vincent's perspective. This patronizing condescension is indeed part and parcel with Catherine's Topside culture, but at least in the TV series the Tunnelfolk were permitted to live out a working protest against this kind of paternalism. Not so here.

...

Another astonishing display of truth. Catherine was both surprised and elated.


Um, why astonishing? Because Vincent and the truth are long-term strangers? I don't get it.

...

She had already pushed him beyond his usual limits. Did she dare push one step more?


Of course this Catherine dares. How else is she going to achieve her conquest?

...

To allow him time to argue that thought with himself, she turned her attention to his bed.


Once again, it is assumed that Vincent must in some way protest a gesture of intimate affection. Once again, Catherine "allows" Vincent a Catherine-determined window of time to exercise the amount of free will that she grants him. This is what oppressors do to their victims when they want to elicit capitulation. They ensnare people with an illusion of freedom that allows the dominating party to get what they want. This Catherine is SO generous with her leash.

...

She wanted to make it clear that there was no seduction intended in her offer.


Because if there were any seduction intended, it would undermine the whole moral justification the author has established in order to correct Vincent's faulty approach to his relationship with a blameless Catherine.

...

In another moment of silent acceptance, Vincent moved from his chair and sat down on the side of his bed to remove his boots, but the injury to his hand was slowing progress.

"Let me," Catherine offered, happy for the opportunity to help, and not quite believing the permission he had apparently granted.


The dominance-submission theme again, where Catherine is fully in command, and where her power is described in "nice" terms of being "helpful."

...

Vincent's Section:

[This part evoked physical nausea, so I'll try to be coherent, but it just felt so icky...]

...

Vincent had once again protected Catherine, but this time she wasn’t there to help him back from the darkness.


This is another...interesting take on the storyline. When, after a violent confrontation with enemies, has Vincent ever needed Catherine to "help him back from the darkness"? That's always been his own work, the most private terrain of his soul. The following emotional landscape that the author paints for her reader functions within her universe, but I think Vincent's feelings are extremely simplified in order to portray him as a spiritually weak creature, the classic tormented soul unable to cope with the vicissitudes of life.

...

...but he dreaded having to ask Father for help.


Why? I mean, okay he wants to be alone. But why "dread"? (Answer forthcoming during Father's participation in the story...)

...

...hoping to clean the wound and assess the damage before Father saw it; but that hope was dashed when Father entered his chamber, having heard on the pipes that Vincent had returned.


First dread, now dashed hopes...all directed at Father. What kind of relationship do they have, that Vincent so fears his parent? (Wait and see...)

...

Vincent turned away as Father approached, much the way he might have when he and Devin had been up to some sort of mischief as children, but he knew Father saw the evidence of blood in the basin’s water. Knowing there was no way to hide it, and that he would soon have to ask for help anyway, Vincent turned back to Father...For once Father didn’t chastise him, or them, for carelessness, and Vincent was grateful for that. After all, Elliot’s help had saved Father’s life as well as his own. With a resigned attitude he told Father that love can wound, too...


How grudgingly the author allows Father to "voice his concern and love for both Vincent and Catherine"! Here Vincent is portrayed in terms of a child helpless against his Father's haranguing. Vincent is not grateful for Father's emotional and medical support, but for an unexpected lack of chastisement. What the author gives us is the malignant relationship between an abusive parent and his abused son. This unhinged and impotent Vincent is the product of his cruel upbringing. In other words, this Vincent, like the Vincent of the show, is the way he is because he was raised by Jacob Wells. But the Father in this story, unlike that of the TV show, is a very bad father indeed.

...

Blessedly Father didn’t argue or ask questions...and left his son sitting beside his desk brooding.


"Odd" how Father's compassion during this event must be described in terms of being out of character for him, isn't it? And it seems we've moved on from Vincent wanting to be alone "to think" so that now he is "brooding." I've come to strongly dislike the word "brooding." Extraverts constantly use it against introverts in order to depict how introversion is inferior to extraverted methods of processing thoughts and emotions.

...

Whatever she said, he had no doubt that it would be the truth. She had always been open and honest with him. He couldn’t say that he had always been open with her - scrupulously honest about what he told her, but not always telling her everything he probably should.


Yup. This bit of commentary rounds out the author's earlier hints in Catherine's section. Vincent is the "problem" with the relationship between Beauty and Beast. Decent explanation follows of how their bond works in this author's universe. But now Vincent is sitting there in dread of Catherine. I think this piece must be recounting a moment from "Sexy, Saintly Beauty and the Scaredy-Cat Mopey-Beast".

[Edited during the afternoon of July 1st to add:] It also just occurred to me that the author is revealing a bias toward extraverted practices in matters of processing and communicating information. In "converting" Vincent to Catherine's (extraverted) modes of comprehending and sharing truth, we are devaluing intuition, contemplation, active listening, selective dialogue, and conscientious silence. I'm sure the storyteller is not deliberately trying to say that introverted persons are bad or wrong, any more than she's "deliberately" setting out to demean minority presences within majority cultures. Yet the result is to warp Catherine into someone she was not in the series, and to insert an abject paper tiger of a Beast where Vincent ought to be. Maybe the most immediate purpose of this story is to "fix" Vincent's introverted personality. Which, in the end, renders him utterly unVincent. ~Z]

...

...the part of him that loved her so desperately felt betrayed...was happy that she felt guilt...that she suffered, too.


The sentiments that precede and follow this statement are bad enough, but this... This. Is. Not. Vincent.

...

Vincent knew she was giving him time to stop her, but he couldn’t. It crossed his mind that he should, but the strength to refuse her loving gesture simply wasn’t there.


I note how insistent the author is on this point. "What's happening is consensual!" says the author. "He's submitting against his better judgment because he wants to! Catherine is assuming her rightful place as Vincent's savior at last!" Methinks she doth protest too much, because if Vincent really is as mentally messed up as he's been portrayed, this whole situation is far from being a romantic and healing interlude between two freely consenting adults. It's still a power play, no matter how insistently it's being justified in Catherine's favor.

...

Now he didn’t want her to feel guilt...didn’t want her to worry.


This Vincent is such a yucky quagmire of conflicted angst.

...

She was right to place it in the open...She deserved so much better than that, but she also deserved more than he could offer her.


Catherine's right, Catherine's right, Catherine's right. Vincent's wrong, Vincent's wrong, Vincent's wrong...etcetera and so forth. Catherine didn't need to smack him in the chest. Vincent is silently flagellating himself enough for both of them.

...

It was liberating. He had finally told her the kind of truth she needed to hear, and he felt the happiness that flowed through her.


Liberating. For whom?

...

He knew it was far overdue, and he wanted to be truthful, but right now he didn’t need her to hear of the times he had imagined pinning her to the wall and kissing her until they could barely breathe...or of taking her to a distant cavern and... Enough of that! Those were fantasies. He needed to take care of the moment at hand.


Aaannnd, um, this is creepy as hell. "Pinning her to the wall"..."Taking her to a distant cavern and"...Catherine's social and emotional domination coupled with Vincent's fantasies of physical domination leave a sour taste in the aftermath of this imagery. I want no part of this author's idea of romance, have no interest in entering her fairy tale.

...

Why did she stay with him? Because she loved him, he admitted to himself, and would tolerate whatever she had to, as long as she had his love in return.


Text book. Co-dependency. Shared psychological disorder. Not something I'd want to emulate in my own dreams, let alone my real life relationships.

...

What was wrong with him? Why was he allowing this? Suppose he lost control? Suppose he frightened her? Frightened her? Not likely. He realized that nothing about him frightened her. He could frighten everyone else, but Catherine would not run from him. She had trusted him through everything they had faced, and so far she had been right. He knew she would be disappointed if he stopped her, but he also knew she would allow him to set the boundaries.


Okay. Here we finally get at the heart of Vincent's misgivings. It is ye olde vison of Vincent as a barely-in-control monster. Catherine trusts him even when he doesn't trust anyone, including himself. Catherine is (again) right, while Vincent is not right. This is consensual. This is consensual. Vincent can stop what's happening at any time. He would (of course, goes the atmospheric attitude) be wrong to do so, but he's free to do what she wants, free to do what she wants, and he wants it too, wants to please her, wants to become the man she wants him to be...give in, Vincent, give up your faulty values and inhibitions, let Catherine save you from your broken self.... I know this is nowhere directly stated in the prose, but this is the vibe I get from reading it.

...

Vincent was gradually absorbing the fact that she didn’t want to kiss Elliot...a normal man, with normal lips, who could give her anything she wanted in her world. She wanted to kiss only the lips that set Vincent apart from the other men she knew...the lips he had despised because he couldn’t imagine her accepting them...so he hesitantly returned her kiss.


There it is. Abnormal Vincent, who has never accepted who and what he is, who cannot imagine anyone accepting him (probably because, somehow, Father and everyone else Below have never accepted him in all their years of life together in the Tunnels), must want above all else to be "normal." I'm just going to say here that this is such a terribly common assumption on the part of the mainstream world, when it comes to imagining how Other/Outsider persons experience life. It is also a false assumption. Unenlightened "normalcy" is not anywhere near as desirable as its proponents believe it to be.

...

Where had he found the courage to kiss her? He was acutely conscious...and more than a little embarrassed, about his lack of experience in such things...self-conscious about his odd mouth and teeth...She was more patient than he felt he deserved, but he had always been a fast learner, and practice was something he would look forward to.


It is important for this Vincent to feel shame about being inexperienced. He has to regret not fulfilling the lovers' mutual needs sooner, to complete the justification for Catherine's righteous intervention. Experimentation...practice...applauding Catherine's patience. This is such a wacky hagiography of Saint Catherine Chandler. Sorry. Snark. My own patience is wearing thin.

...

He didn’t want to remind her, but he had to give her one more chance to regain her senses.


*frustrated sigh*

...

So that was it. She was determined to be in his life. She felt that strongly for him...not for Elliot. He doubted he could muster up the nobility to send her away now, anyway.


This is the second time the author has disparaged Vincent's "nobility." I think she's working from a bad definition. She's also tapping into a very, very common stereotype of disabled characterization. Think of Disney's mutation of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where our heroic hunchback "nobly" sets aside his attraction to Esmerelda to bring Phoebus and the Gypsy girl together. (Talk about poor Hugo rolling over in his grave!) This is neither Quasimodo nor Vincent, but the worldview behind this weird extrapolation of selfish selflessness insists that responsible disabled people do not cling to their non-disabled lovers...unless it's on said non-disabled lover's terms.

...

That was obviously another truth Catherine needed to hear. He felt the satisfaction in her when she heard that admission. He should have said such things before.


Note how the author keeps rewarding Vincent through the bond for each little acquiescence he makes to Catherine's way of doing things. Good Beast. Do that trick again. Good Beast.

...

In another moment of silent acceptance...


Silent submission, rather.

...

He allowed it, wondering how such a small thing could make her so happy.


Where did this Vincent grow up? In solitary confinement? How can he be so untouched by his underworld culture's suffusing ethic of giving and receiving help from one another? This. Is. Not. Vincent.

...

And finally, The Epilogue:

...

She had long ago realized that to Vincent it was perfectly normal...part of ordinary, everyday life. It still held her in awe that such things could have been happening around her all her life and she never knew.


And this is my whole problem with this story. Catherine's normal subsumes Vincent's at every turn.

...

"I don’t believe...that I have the strength to go backward again," he answered. There was a pause and a small smile. "I believe this could become something of...an addiction."

"I never thought I’d be so glad to see you lose strength or become addicted," she grinned and stood on tiptoe to plant another kiss happily on his lips.

...the book and tea tray temporarily forgotten in favor of contently indulging Vincent’s new addictions.


Addiction. What an apt metaphor for this "romance." And the lap snuggling thing. The author obviously thinks this is the height of happy (non-intercourse-based) intimacy. To each her own, I suppose.

...

End of text.

...

Now you don't need to feel guilty that I did not like this story, or feel that you forced me to read it. Okay? And I really, really hope I have not offended, because I don't wish to be accusatory or stand in judgment over folks who do like this tale. The narrative structure is a good one, and the focus on character emotions is admirable. The touch of romance did well to unfold within a the given set of circumstances without plummeting into sex. The prose is formulated in a clean, direct style that reveals exactly who these characters are to the reader and to each other. So it's not the writing but the author's assumptions that kill it for me, especially her presentation of Vincent as an emotionally crippled figure. It parses the B&B story in terms of insidious stereotypes of disability that run deep and mostly unquestioned in our culture. Namely, the author assumes that Vincent must at some level hate himself, that he must at some level envy and resent "normal" people, and in this case the author goes so far as to explicitly state that Vincent wished Catherine to suffer the kind of pain he (according to the author) feels. That pain being ultimately self-inflicted in nature, of course, because in this ableist worldview, disability is a self-enclosed moral failure for which non-disabled people bear no responsibility (although the author has worked very hard to make sure Vincent exists purely as a wounded object of pity by shifting much of the blame for his damaged psyche to Father). Ginny Shearin's Vincent blends three common caricatures of disability: the Noble Warrior, the Obsessive Avenger, and the Sweet Innocent. (We can talk more about that, if you like.) I do not blame the author for going there; these images wouldn't be stereotypes if they weren't such easy traps to fall into...but I am injured by entering into that mindset. It's a dehumanizing place to visit.

Considering the prevalence of female fans writing fanfiction, I have to wonder whether this story, and other tales in fandom that proliferate along the same vein, might actually be fed by the wounds that sexism inflicts. Herein, I perceive the application of attitudes which sexist men use against women. Come on, baby, you know you want it. There's something wrong with you if you think you don't want it. God almighty, what makes you think you can deny me what I want? You must be frigid, or damaged, or defective, or have low self-esteem. Hey, stop pushing me away. Get over yourself already. Here, let me help you push your self-restricting boundaries. See? Isn't that better? You DO want what I want after all. I'm happy I could help you make such good progress tonight. Ad nauseam. We internalize this junk and then it sometimes pours out when we are confronted with people (in this case fictional characters) who are more vulnerable than we are in the overall scheme of things.

Reading fanfiction stories like this one is like watching a child engaged in a session of play therapy who is using dolls or puppets to re-enact a rape over and over again. Only, in play, the rape-victim/fanfic-writer gets to take on the role of the rapist and see what it feels like to claim that kind of power, to assert those kinds of degrading values against another person's dignity. It's an unconscious imitation of supremacist behavior, antics that are sanctioned within a culture where the aggressors get to define "normality." It seems like when we talk about our discomfort with fans who "normalize" Vincent, we are tapping into a deeper repugnance for the way exploiters treat the exploited. That is what I guess may be seething beneath my indignation here.

In for a penny, in for a pound,

Your Zara
Last edited by Zara on Mon Jul 01, 2013 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Maclurv
Posts: 412
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Maclurv »

Yea, I found an acceptable trigger! More later!

Thank you for your thoughtful response! I find it helpful to understand your perspective on characterization. My response will likely be in parts of a period of time.

This author's interpretation absolutely refuses to listen to what Vincent said during "A Happy Life," about his feelings and motivations. Even then, in that one instance when he determined that separation from Catherine was the only recourse to permit final healing, he never "sent her away." Vincent does not ever, ever, ever, force Catherine to do anything Catherine does not want to do.


I understand your point. What I think you are reading in this passage is frustration over relationship pacing. In this sense, what this author's Catherine is saying is that she is not wanting to hear from Vincent what she has heard before. She believes they are past that (or should be) and the phrasing used (kicking and screaming) only underscores her desire to have him see that. A little bit of hyperbole, perhaps, but I don't think it is indicative of a truly co-dependent or manipulative relationship.

In terms of the lap-sitting, I'd offer for consideration the length of time in the relationship at this juncture. I guess I think back on all the concerts they have listened to where Catherine lays against him; when she throws herself in his arms any number of times (and on him when it rained at the concert). So for me, this isn't that much of a stretch for her, and the author had it as an expression of 'love and concern,' to reassure him that Elliot wasn't a threat to his relationship with her.

Which somehow justifies such intrusion when it's been clearly stated that the author's Catherine knows what Vincent's boundaries are and decides it's time to supercede them.


On the one hand, I can agree with this, yet in another way, must women always wait for men to initiate a change in boundaries? Clearly, there are some boundaries that require permission to cross. But I'm not sure this is one of those, especially in the slowness with which she approached, giving him time to put a stop to it if it indeed was out of bounds for him at that time.

"Maybe I was sympathizing...maybe I needed to be kissed, too. It’s been a long time...and it was a desperate moment."


And here's a subtle rebuke. If you had been kissing me regularly beforehand, my sense of deprivation would not have led me to find solace from another source. Ouch. Really? Assumption: Vincent withholds rightful affection from Catherine, while she does not do so with him. It justifies Catherine's bid for relational power in this scene.

...

"The only thing that would be better would be remembering that you returned it." She knew she was pushing her luck, but while they were being honest....

"I’m afraid...if I allow myself...." His voice trailed off, and he looked away again.


While they were being honest. Uh huh. So the habit of their relationship is to be dishonest? Or, at best, merely avoidant? (The author has more to say about this in the Vincent section.) Okay, I can see how one might arrive at this conclusion if one is dissatisfied with the tenor of the onscreen conversations Vincent and Catherine get to share. We've discussed that frustration with the storytelling style before. But this depiction of how Vincent and Catherine relate to one another is so...so...skewed. And the pushing (the author's word, repeated several times), Catherine's quiet coercion, is just ugly.


For the most part, I'm with you on these comments. I do think it is a reflections of dissatisfaction with the dialogue. And we are rearing the 'afraid to become intimate' trope that so many fanfics use (this is actually a very mild one in that regard. I do think the author was remiss in her choice of 'while they were being honest' wordage. I think she meant more 'while they were sharing' in that she feels Vincent does not share enough information with Catherine.

Maclurv
Posts: 412
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Maclurv »

I'm giving up on the editing function and just replying.

Assumption: Vincent is woefully inexperienced. Assumption: Vincent's ignorance/inexperience does not match Catherine's notions of perfection. Assumption: Catherine knows what "perfection" is supposed to entail. Assumption: Catherine has been urging Vincent to "catch up" with her "normal" level of romantic experience. Assumption: Tonight's product of careful manipulation may be considered to occur "of Vincent's own accord." Assumption: Since this is a kind of "breakthrough" moment, the new conditions instituted in this scene may be expected to carry through into the future, perpetuating Catherine's dominance and Vincent's submission. And question: If Catherine kissed Elliot and wanted it to be Vincent, then why is she now kissing Vincent while comparing him to Elliot?


I'm with you on the first assumption. Although, I do believe he is inexperienced. The degree to which, and the areas in, are perhaps up to our imagination. But many stories paint him in such inept light in this respect. Your other assumptions seem to reach a bit from what was said. Since the conversation is about Elliot, I don't find it that odd that she turns to him in comparison, but she needn't have gone there. I think this passage is merely stating that she has waited a long time to be kissed by Vincent. I don't see the degree of manipulation that you do, I guess because both men and women "prepare" for these moments, whether it be mood music, candles, sweet nothings in the ear, etc. These are all meant to get the other party receptive. And since we know the author views Vincent as inexperienced, anything done to make him more comfortable doesn't necessarily mean dominance in all future encounters. Once that confidence hurdle has been crossed, self-expression becomes easier.

"A cut. It isn’t important."

"It is important, but we can discuss it another time, if you’d rather," she answered...


Again, Vincent's assessments about what is important and what is not important are thrust aside.


I can see where you might see this. I could see it as she is concerned that Vincent is being self-sacrificing and not wanting to unduly bring the focus on him, or concern her, so tries to shrug it off by saying, 'It isn't important.' Granted, if the author had phrased Catherine's concern along those lines, then I wouldn't have to assume in my head that's what she meant. Which, reflecting on this while in the gym this afternoon, that's what I do when I read. Krista talks about spackling plot holes; I 'spackle' what I read to make sense to me. Unless it's egregiously off and I can't supply enough spackle. Plus, I don't bring the writer's eye that you do, Zara, so I just zip merrily along, making my own assumptions. Which is also why I have a hard time identifying favorites, as I read quickly, and go, 'that was nice, or a mess, or whatever' and move on to the next.

Another astonishing display of truth. Catherine was both surprised and elated.


Um, why astonishing? Because Vincent and the truth are long-term strangers? I don't get it.


Again, read 'sharing' for truth. This author obviously has a problem with Vincent's reticence and lack of dialogue.

From the Catherine perspective, this author presents a Catherine who wants to do two things: make it clear to Vincent that there is no one else (and there are many in fandom who hear Vincent's statements as possibilities of pushing away, or making decisions for her), and establish a new level of intimacy to move the relationship forward. This is a pretty mild author in both of these regards.

Depending what the author's understanding of Vincent is, Catherine's interactions with him reflect that understanding. So we are getting an idea of how Vincent will be portrayed. I do like that the author offered the two perspectives.

Vincent

Yes, Father does not come off so well in this story. Again, mild by comparison to many others.

Whatever she said, he had no doubt that it would be the truth. She had always been open and honest with him. He couldn’t say that he had always been open with her - scrupulously honest about what he told her, but not always telling her everything he probably should.


Yes, this gets to the sharing aspect I mentioned above, while throwing in a judgment (should).

...but there was so much more to sort out. By the time Catherine appeared at his door, Vincent had prepared himself to face whatever she told him.


This doesn't seem so Vincenty to me. The sorting out part is okay, just that, as you said, he seems to be dreading her approach. I see where you come from on the introversion/extraversion aspect. I will say that just because one is an introvert does not mean you don't share. Timing is everything. Here, Catherine pushes before he is ready.

There it is. Abnormal Vincent, who has never accepted who and what he is, who cannot imagine anyone accepting him (probably because, somehow, Father and everyone else Below have never accepted him in all their years of life together in the Tunnels), must want above all else to be "normal." I'm just going to say here that this is such a terribly common assumption on the part of the mainstream world, when it comes to imagining how Other/Outsider persons experience life. It is also a false assumption. Unenlightened "normalcy" is not anywhere near as desirable as its proponents believe it to be.


This is a common theme in many fanfics, as well.

I actually agree with your comments on Vincent. This is a bit of a 'Casper Milquetoast' Vincent. I think the assumption of Vincent's reticence from this author is the beastly violence trope and the 'unworthiness because of being Beast.' To me, this is why I like our discussions so much, it helps clarify what is , and what is not, true about Vincent. For those who do not participate in such discussions, these are the types of views of Vincent, and of course, color the story. There are some very weird views of Vincent out there. (and Catherine).

I don't feel guilty about your not liking the story. I felt guilty taking so long to find one. As I said, I just don't remember stories. So in trying to find one, this felt least objectionable over several I went through. While I disagree with some of the assumptions you made in regard to Catherine's section (and yes, I know I'm biased toward her!), overall, I agree with much of what you have said.

Ginny Shearin's Vincent blends three common caricatures of disability: the Noble Warrior, the Obsessive Avenger, and the Sweet Innocent. (We can talk more about that, if you like.)


Yes, please.

Considering the prevalence of female fans writing fanfiction, I have to wonder whether this story, and other tales in fandom that proliferate along the same vein, might actually be fed by the wounds that sexism inflicts.


Interesting thought! You may be on to something there.

Pat

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

Believe me, I'm aware and grateful that this is a mild version of the fanfic tropes you've identified. There are definitely stronger versions out there that stand my hair on end and has me shutting down browser windows in horror. Anyway, thanks for singling this one out from your memory banks for discussion. ;)

I know I'm highly sensitive. That just my nature, how I'm wired. I feel everything through my personal worldview lens and I feel everything deeply, insensely. Thank you too, for listening to me do that "out loud."

Pat wrote:I don't think it is indicative of a truly co-dependent or manipulative relationship.


Can you tell me how you would characterize the relationship in this story? As in, what is the tenor of what's really happening during this scene, as you understand it? I think you are writing from a calmer place, and so thinking more rationally about the characters.

Pat wrote:In terms of the lap-sitting, I'd offer for consideration the length of time in the relationship at this juncture.


It's a good consideration. I can see how the author must be using it as an indicator of an "advancement" in the kind of relationship that has a trajectory with which most viewers must be familiar. I think my main objection to it is that it seems to be a breach of cultural protocol, for both characters of the TV show (not those of the fanfiction).

The romance between Vincent and Catherine is a chivalric one. There are codes of honor and nobility in place that frame their physical interactions as much as their nonphysical social interplay. (Tangent: the author does not seem to grok what "nobility" actually means to those who live in light of its values.) According to those codes, a sane, sober, and honorable adult woman does not sit on an adult man, (vice versa being simply unthinkable, man on woman). Catherine, as a member of New York's elite society, is a woman well-aware of such codes of conduct and throughout the course of the show she demonstrates her skilled ability to gracefully adapt to many of the societal constructs Below (justice being a special exception, but that is because Topside justice and underworld justice are very different when it comes to practical application). The thing is, chivalric romance works to equalize power in the relationship. It celebrates the respective strengths of each partner and maintains each person's dignity. Lap-sitting unbalances that protocol and infringes upon this context's notion of dignity. A child sits on the thighs of a seated adult. A seductress sits on the thighs of a seated man. Or else a woman who is for some reason imitating a child in her relationship with the seated man takes her place in his lap. Once a woman seats herself there, the man is pinned in place until the woman leaves, or unless he pushes her off. If this be safe intimacy, an expression of love and concern, it is a kind of intimacy that is alien to Catherine's upbringing as well as Vincent's. It might be ordinary, but it is not on par with the extraordinary relationship between our title lovers. Perhaps the author intended to bring that relationship "more down to earth." But in doing so, for me anyway, she kills the magic of the fairy tale. Prince and Princess stop being intimate in regal ways and don the mindset and habits of commoners. If I wanted a romance between commoners...I'd watch the CW reboot.

Pat wrote:...must women always wait for men to initiate a change in boundaries?


Maybe this ties in with my idea about how fanfiction authors might be projecting upon the way Catherine and Vincent relate to one another the way male-dominated culture treats real-world women.

Pat wrote:Clearly, there are some boundaries that require permission to cross. But I'm not sure this is one of those, especially in the slowness with which she approached, giving him time to put a stop to it if it indeed was out of bounds for him at that time.


The author's Catherine gave Vincent many chances to say, "No." But the author did not. I'm not sure how to talk clearly about this distinction. In a scene like this, where the author obviously does not want Catherine to come across as seductive or manipulative, it can be a great temptation for the author to say in exposition, "This is not seductive or manipulative," even as the character behavior, apart from that explanation, could easily indicate otherwise. In this case, the action progresses according to the author's designs. The characters follow the plot. Catherine pushes, Vincent does not resist. Catherine pushes some more, Vincent acquiesces. Catherine pushes even more, Vincent is "liberated" and responds in kind. I confess I'm of the school of writerly thought that finds plot-driven stories unauthentic. This story has to change the characters of the TV show to get them to do what the author (and her target readers) want to see them doing.

Pat wrote:I think she meant more 'while they were sharing' in that she feels Vincent does not share enough information with Catherine.


I'd like to stick with my explanation of introvert/extravert disconnect on this one.

Pat wrote:I'm with you on the first assumption. Although, I do believe he is inexperienced. The degree to which, and the areas in, are perhaps up to our imagination. But many stories paint him in such inept light in this respect.


Sometime, we should explore the meaning of Vincent's virginity. ;) The outside-in, Topside-Down, take on the matter calls him "inexperienced." Vincent thinks of himself and his relationship with Catherine in terms of "purity." Topside-Down: Vincent holds back, erects boundaries, is too restrained, too slow, gives too little. Vincent: I'm reaching out, holding close, cherishing each moment for its perfect gifts, finding new freedom moment-by-moment, exercising great creativity. Topside-Down: Vincent lacks social and sexual confidence. Vincent: I possess the faith and courage to risk doing the most loving thing for myself and others in any situation.

His self-expression is just that: Vincentself-expression. As Vincent would say of anything another person believed about himself or herself, "Who are we to say they're wrong?" Shearin and others are, of course, free to express themselves through their fiction, free to be right about their own versions of the characters, but when they posit variations of the characters who do not think, speak, or behave like the originals, I cannot trust any of their conclusions about the meaning of the original story.

Pat wrote:Which, reflecting on this while in the gym this afternoon, that's what I do when I read. Krista talks about spackling plot holes; I 'spackle' what I read to make sense to me. Unless it's egregiously off and I can't supply enough spackle. Plus, I don't bring the writer's eye that you do, Zara, so I just zip merrily along, making my own assumptions. Which is also why I have a hard time identifying favorites, as I read quickly, and go, 'that was nice, or a mess, or whatever' and move on to the next.


Spackling is a great image for this process. I'm not very good at it, though. I'm more likely to rebuild the whole damn wall. Or else just sit quietly contemplating the unspackled effects of the craftsmanship. Or else leave the premises entirely. Maybe I'm a visionary, but not a reformer. Even in literary circles. I take life in its entirety personally.

Pat wrote: I do like that the author offered the two perspectives.


Yes, that is a great strength of the piece.

Pat wrote:Yes, Father does not come off so well in this story. Again, mild by comparison to many others.


Ooooohhh yeah. Mild as violets and butterflies by comparison to some things out there.

Pat wrote: I will say that just because one is an introvert does not mean you don't share.


Too true. When introverts do share, extraverts are apt to discount the value and content of the communication because the patterns of expression differ from those which extraverts prefer (as I believe much of fandom does with characters like Vincent and Father).

Pat wrote:I felt guilty taking so long to find one. As I said, I just don't remember stories. So in trying to find one, this felt least objectionable over several I went through.


*hugs* Let me put it this way. In the land of the quiet ones, you will never be put down because you did not hurry. Thank you, dear Pat, for so thoughtfully taking the time to select a tale that is clearly giving us much to ponder and discuss. :)

Pat wrote:
Zara wrote:Ginny Shearin's Vincent blends three common caricatures of disability: the Noble Warrior, the Obsessive Avenger, and the Sweet Innocent. (We can talk more about that, if you like.)


Yes, please.


I think I'll give this tangent its own post. Would you like me to place it here, or in "We Who Are Not As Others"?

Peace and light,

Zara

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

Talking about stories and people and mainstream living with my husband tonight, he reminded me of something that I thought I'd share here.

It is ordinary/common/"normal" for a person to love someone for who they want that person to be, not for who that person actually is. So many people assume that is the way other people love each other too. We learned this back when we were preparing for marriage, listening to everyone's advice about how to be husband and wife to each other.

It is rare for a person to love someone completely because he or she is himself/herself. This is what we recognized and admired in the world of the Tunnelfolk, enjoying a (fantasy, alas) world where true love is the norm.

Most fans recognize the rarity of the fairy tale's model for love, but perhaps have difficulty translating the beauty they witness into their everyday world. Thus, much fanfiction diverges from the path of the original show, giving us not holistic true love, but each author's best imitation/approximation of it. So we get Vincent and/or Catherine trying to "fix" each other. Oodles of characters trying to fix Father. Devin trying to fix Vincent and/or Catherine and/or Father. Father trying to fix Vincent. Authors trying to "fix" characters they do not understand. This happens without people making the connection that this "fixing" activity is not emulating our heroes (Vincent, Catherine, Father, Joe, Edie, Tunnelfolk, etc.)...but the villains. Paracelcus. Elliot Burch. Stephen Bass. People who do not know how to love other people more than their ideas for a finished product after deliberate tinkering in the lives of other people.

All this came to light as we were trying out a new-to-us series on Netflix, Fringe...and gave up after the fourth episode because *the writers* could not allow their own characters to reflect genuine people instead of common stereotypes. Stories about stereotypes don't have much to say about the lives and needs of real people. Stories that transcend both stereotypes and "ordinary" expectations rehumanize us all.

Late night musings,

Zara

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Maclurv »

This is so true. I would have to be more awake and give some more thought to if this truly applies to the tunnelfolk or mostly Vincent. My inclination is that it is mostly Vincent.

This is a most difficult thing to do, I think. We can perhaps keep ourselves for meddling with one we love as it involves more conscious action. But is there a desire that our loved one change just one tiny thing that in our mind would render them 'perfect?' Probably. That's if we are lucky, that it is one tiny thing.

How many people don't even marry somone they actually love? Many think they are, yet don't seem to act like it. Perhaps it would be easier to accept another's flaws/short-comings if there wasn't love, because there might not be the expectation that there would ever be the connection that unconditional love would create.

I think Vincent most consistently demonstrates what you have cited here. It is part of his aspect probably because of who he is and how he has fought to accept what he is and to develop himself into the best parts of himself. He knows the work and effort it takes for an individual to meet those challenges and would not presume to short cut the process for someone else. He would accompany their journey, be there for them, but accept them for what they are/where they are in their process.

Never got into Fringe.

Pat

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Maclurv »

I know I'm highly sensitive. That just my nature, how I'm wired. I feel everything through my personal worldview lens and I feel everything deeply, insensely. Thank you too, for listening to me do that "out loud."


Your history can't help but impact you, especially in regards to these issues in this story. Couple that with your INFJ tendencies (at least, as I understand them :) ) and aspects that don't make sense/resonate with you or tap into personal experience are bound to create reaction in you. I bring my own baggage to what I read, and it shapes my responses. Yet, we learn from each other (at least I do, I sometimes think you get the short shrift in this deal).

I don't think it is indicative of a truly co-dependent or manipulative relationship.


Can you tell me how you would characterize the relationship in this story? As in, what is the tenor of what's really happening during this scene, as you understand it?


I shall try. Bear in mind my reading approach as I do, and having mulled over discussion to this point.

My take is that the author shares my frustration with communication aspects in this couple. This is the starting point, or main perspective, for this story. Her Vincent withholds information (for whatever reasons); her Catherine decides to push issues in an attempt to clarify her position with him, and hopefully, his with her. The issues at stake are relationship issues as the episode with Catherine's interaction with Elliot,and Vincent's reactions, are the catalyst.

I guess I would characterize the relationship as within the bounds of 'normal.' I think it is normal that each person in a relationship will, at various times, make some kind of push for a response to an issue that has yet to be addressed for that person in an acceptable (complete or meaningful) fashion. Is it the most direct communication that is chosen for the push? Not necessarily.

Given my premise that communication frustration is a main perspective for this story, I believe it goes back to conversations (or lack there of) in previous episodes about the whys that this relationship a) can never be as so often stated early on in the show and b) moves so slowly, especially on the affection/physical front. How an author defines this will speak to how the characters will behave in the story. (hence my idea in my email)

So this author believes (I gather from my reading, at least) that Vincent has many doubts about his deep-down acceptance from Catherine (or perhaps anyone, for that matter) because of his differences. I think the author views Vincent's prior conversations in other episodes in this perspective, so she sees him telling Catherine to go love someone else more fitting, like Elliot. She has her Catherine confront him about this, with some passion behind it (which reads to me more about Catherine's desire for Vincent's understanding and progression than any manipulative designs), and sees some gentle physical expression (sitting on the lap) as a way to convey both acceptance of him, and concern for him, and move them a bit forward. Her Catherine craves reassurance from Vincent that he can accept her and her love for him, just as she wants to reassure him that she loves him.

my main objection to it[lap-sitting] is that it seems to be a breach of cultural protocol, for both characters of the TV show ... The romance between Vincent and Catherine is a chivalric one.


I confess that this never occurred to me, as I'm not sure I ever really knew it. From your explanation, however, I can see how this applies to your view of the show and mythology. I think many, if not most, in fandom do not apply the mythology to the show, certainly not with the knowledge you bring to it. I did not, until my encounter with you. :) So, many stories are not going to ever approach the mythology aspects. Reason enough for the importance of discussion, IMO. Yet, I think it can be important to allow a platform for the less mythological, at least as a means of reaching more people, and to gradually introduce them to the mythology as a way of expanding their understanding.

The author's Catherine gave Vincent many chances to say, "No." But the author did not. I'm not sure how to talk clearly about this distinction. In a scene like this, where the author obviously does not want Catherine to come across as seductive or manipulative, it can be a great temptation for the author to say in exposition, "This is not seductive or manipulative," even as the character behavior, apart from that explanation, could easily indicate otherwise. In this case, the action progresses according to the author's designs. The characters follow the plot. Catherine pushes, Vincent does not resist. Catherine pushes some more, Vincent acquiesces. Catherine pushes even more, Vincent is "liberated" and responds in kind. I confess I'm of the school of writerly thought that finds plot-driven stories unauthentic. This story has to change the characters of the TV show to get them to do what the author (and her target readers) want to see them doing.


Interesting. This is why I would find it useful to see more writers discuss how they approach writing (and if they even know). Besides the approach, how they see the characters also shapes the story. In this story, Vincent is off-kilter (but not as badly as some stories have him). Catherine is not as off for me as perhaps she is for you.

Re introversion/extraversion, I will say that even when you understand these aspects better, and extraverts give time to introverts to think things through, the time it takes may cause two things to happen for the extravert: 1) we need the report back, and 2) we may have forgotten what transpired if the time is long enough, so need to be refreshed on that. :)

What a delightful expression re the meaning of "inexperienced." I do think that would be an interesting discussion. Again, I see you coming from more of the mythological perspective here (and true to your characterizations). Given the above comments, yes, most writers are coming from the Above perspective.

when they posit variations of the characters who do not think, speak, or behave like the originals, I cannot trust any of their conclusions about the meaning of the original story.


Not to beat a dead horse here, but again, this is why discussion is important, and to demonstrate the interweaving of mythology with story of the show. When many (most) view the mythology stopping with the name of the show, perhaps some lip service to the underlying theme (beauty within), there cannot be anything but a different interpretation.

I'm more likely to rebuild the whole damn wall.


I'm guessing you are heavily influenced by your INFJ type in this respect!

When introverts do share, extraverts are apt to discount the value and content of the communication because the patterns of expression differ from those which extraverts prefer (as I believe much of fandom does with characters like Vincent and Father).


Expand, please?

Re the common caricatures of disability discussion: I guess it best fits in We Who Are Not As Others" unless you'd like to take it to a public one?

So happy to be discussing with you!

Pat

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by 222333 »

*
I fear I have little to say about this story. Ginny is an old friend of mine. When she sent me this story for editing, such editing was: "nice, tender story". What else could I possibly say? She has currently an unfinished story, and it's unfinished since longtime because I pointed out some things to her, and now she's confused and she's lost her certainties, without having others to replace them. I learnt the hard way that it's just impossible to make people change a perception. For the past ten years I have been talking with people about "all the times V rejects C". My question is always: would you please list them? "Oh, it's more a general impression". Ok good, ok fine.

The nagging question for me is always the same: why 90 percent of fans see Vincent and Catherine *that* way? What is it that I don't see, in the episodes, that make so many people see Vincent as the whining, dumb mess that they depict in fanfic? And plainly ignore the doubts of Catherine about their life together, which instead are all over the place?

Is really the popular perception of B&B a collective hallucination? No, there must be something I miss.

S

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

Pat,

Thank you for explaining more of the story's (and perhaps the author's) approach to the central relationship. Here I can see this author, and others, *trying,* sincerely trying, to make sense of a story that clearly challenges cherished notions of normality. I think where I'm seeing manipulation and discourtesy, the effect is not one that the author intended. As the Helper who employs Laura in the second season might say: They just don't know any better. But I do. And I cannot rightfully lash out against ignorance. So I've got to find some other way to respond. But, it's...just...so...frustrating!

Pat wrote:
Zara wrote:my main objection to it[lap-sitting] is that it seems to be a breach of cultural protocol, for both characters of the TV show ... The romance between Vincent and Catherine is a chivalric one.


I confess that this never occurred to me, as I'm not sure I ever really knew it. From your explanation, however, I can see how this applies to your view of the show and mythology. I think many, if not most, in fandom do not apply the mythology to the show, certainly not with the knowledge you bring to it. I did not, until my encounter with you. So, many stories are not going to ever approach the mythology aspects. Reason enough for the importance of discussion, IMO. Yet, I think it can be important to allow a platform for the less mythological, at least as a means of reaching more people, and to gradually introduce them to the mythology as a way of expanding their understanding.

...Not to beat a dead horse here, but again, this is why discussion is important, and to demonstrate the interweaving of mythology with story of the show. When many (most) view the mythology stopping with the name of the show, perhaps some lip service to the underlying theme (beauty within), there cannot be anything but a different interpretation.


The thing about my view of the show regarding mythology is that the original storytellers held similar views. This isn't Zara + a scattered minority versus the rest of fandom. This is THE SHOW itself. If that has never entered into the inner worlds of other fans, well, I guess that's what happens when real fantasy (not comic book stuff) airs via a mainline TV distributor. Many people simply don't know what to do with it.

I have viewed on Je's YouTube channel, or read in print, 1980s/90s interview after interview where Ron Perlman is talking about romantic chivalry, wondering if "chivalric" is a real word but using it anyway to explain his own understanding of Vincent. He speaks of his character's love operating on a spiritual plane above normal expectations. He speaks of Vincent's pure love for his beloved, how he gives all of himself, holds nothing back, asks nothing in return, receives love from Catherine and anyone else who chooses to love him with gratitude and joy, loves because it is Vincent's nature to love and to respond wholeheartedly to being loved, opening like a flower to this woman, the first woman who has ever touched him in friendship-that-might-grow-into-more-than-friendship. Koslow and the other writers/producers talked constantly about the show as a fable, a fantasy, a fairy tale, a modern myth. The writers/actors/artists/producers poured all of this into the scripts, performances, and presentation of the televised story. How constantly all the storytellers worked to link into human mythology!

The first half of the Pilot episode is as gradual an introduction to the mythology as we get. Once Vincent's face is revealed to the audience, the mythmaking is on. My knowledge of mythology is a faint afterthought shadowing in the wake of this collective mythical juggernaut. I totally agree that most fans do not apply mythology to the show. That's quite obvious at this point. I can only look into the series and pull out a bit of dialogue gifted to us by Diana Bennett in the third season. Responding to a collegue's mockery of her intuitive deductive abilities, she tells him, "It's not a joke, Jimmy." Jimmy replies, "Then what would you call it?" And Diana answers, "I'd call it imagination. Look, if all you're willing to see is what you've seen before, you're gonna miss half of what's going on. See that's the difference between you and me."

The writers could have been admonishing their own fandom right there.

Not that prevailing fandom cares to hearken to much of what Diana says...;)

Sobi wrote:The nagging question for me is always the same: why 90 percent of fans see Vincent and Catherine *that* way? What is it that I don't see, in the episodes, that make so many people see Vincent as the whining, dumb mess that they depict in fanfic? And plainly ignore the doubts of Catherine about their life together, which instead are all over the place?


I'm going to take a stab at this from the disability angle over in "We Who Are Not As Others"...

Pat wrote:...and I think there is perhaps an initial impression that Vincent doesn't see himself acceptable in a relationship...


Ditto on the disability stabbing. This impression is based upon an assumption of how freaks surely MUST think of themselves...because it's easier to look at an atypical person and think, "He does not accept himself," than to realize that what we perceive in that Other person's presence is a reflection of our own unsavory attitudes. "I do not accept him." Everything else becomes a complex of rationalizations and subtle distortions of perception to avoid examining one's own prejudices in this regard. As you say, "How often have we, in relationships of our own, heard and felt incorrectly, yet found it hard to adjust to the clearer understanding (if we indeed ever get there)?"

You muse well, friends.

~ Zara

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

Pat wrote:
Zara wrote:I'm more likely to rebuild the whole damn wall.


I'm guessing you are heavily influenced by your INFJ type in this respect!


Most likely. ;)

Pat wrote:
Zara wrote:When introverts do share, extraverts are apt to discount the value and content of the communication because the patterns of expression differ from those which extraverts prefer (as I believe much of fandom does with characters like Vincent and Father).


Expand, please?


Maybe it's a copout of sorts, but I'm going to link to a couple resources here and let them speak for me today.

First is a discussion thread at the Personality Cafe, Extroverts Coping with Introverts, *especially* posts #2, #6, and #13. The points offered in these posts come up all the time in canon dialogue between Vincent and Catherine, but you'll see it other places too, like Vincent and Mitch, Vincent and Lisa, Vincent and Lena, Vincent and William, Vincent and Devin (although Devin is a man who knows how to interact with introverts successfully). And if you want to compare with these examples how two strong introverts talk with each other, view those scenes where Vincent is conversing with Pascal, Rebecca, or Narcissa.

The thing about Vincent, and introvert-sympathizer Father, is that they are both aware of introvert-extrovert dynamics. I can see this in the way they relate to children, but also in how they talk with adult individuals, and each other, and how they lead during group situations. They also both do their best to relate in comprehensible terms to those who differ from their personality styles. They don't always succeed, but no one succeeds all the time. Catherine fails a lot. Although as Sobi pointed out, people don't like to acknowledge her doubts, including her self-doubts, and rarely her failures.

Turning to our Beast, specifically, Vincent gives feedback. Readily. Promptly. Especially to direct statements addressed to himself. I envy his skill in this regard! Vincent is affectionate. Endearingly and respectfully so. Vincent initiates physical affection just as often as he responds to it. Vincent shares his thoughts wherever he finds or creates space to be heard. The problem he encounters in the grip of extroverted judgment is a problem I am very, very, and painfully familiar with. No matter how much introverted-Vincent gives, it is never *enough* to satisfy the extroverted demands for "more." He gives everything he is capable of giving. As he tells Elliot at one point, Vincent gave Catherine "All I could. All I had. All I was." Catherine herself says that Vincent gives her "everything" and that he does fulfill her and that she's grateful. If someone wants more than that, what they're wanting *is not Vincent.* Thus, we end up with fanfiction that superimposes various fix-it solutions over Vincent's identity in order to squeeze the "missing more" out of the fantasy. This is storytelling and interpreting that refuses to listen to what introverts say because of how they say it.

The metaphor that comes to my mind is that of the vampire, sucking the life out of its victim until there's nothing left but an undead monster who has been reformatted into the image of the dominating "master." This is what many fans do to Vincent's character in their fanfiction. It ain't Vincent no more. It's Beast-the-undead-minion/consort-of-Beauty. My instinct is to drive a stake through the poor thing's heart and expose the corpse to daylight to be sure it can't ever come after me at night. [I'm old-school in this regard, I guess. In my universe, vampires do not sparkle, attend high school classes or social functions, or maintain legitimate moral superiority over non-predatory mortals. But I digress.]

The second resource I offer is, ah, a snarky look at introverted survival strategies, courtesy The Introvert Manifesto.

*sigh*

I feel I'm coming off too abrasively just lately. Sorry. It's been an odd week.

~ Your Zara

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by 222333 »

*
Is it okay if I move these last posts to the public area - carefully edited to make them "general"?
From Pat's post Jul 5 11:47.

S

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Maclurv »

Yes and yes!

Thanks, Zara! That was wonderful!

Pat

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Re: Keys to the Kingdom - G. Shearin

Post by Zara »

You're welcome, Pat. Glad to put mythology to work for us. :)

S, yes. That's fine with me. :)

~ Zara

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