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Fantasy and reality

It may sound strange, but I'm not a big novel reader. Worse: I've barely read horror stories. (So yes, I was born this twisted.) It's not that I don't like reading a good story: I just don't have the time. My whole life has been all about work in one or another way, be it studying, be it working with my mother, be it working once I left my parents' 18 years ago. I know I'm missing out on a lot, and when I have some time to read, my choices are mostly technical (due to work), or articles (of all sorts, because they demand less time than a full book).

Still, I've read the occasional book here and there, and fell in love with a few like The Neverending Story when I was 13, Los renglones torcidos de Dios when I was 21, or Harry Potter just the last year. The focus of this post, though, will walk through two other books I've read: A song of Ice and Fire (the books behind Game of Thrones) and Fifty Shades of Grey (I can hear you laugh, but I know you've read it too.)

Because they're popular, they attract a lot of criticism. Some of it is valid (Fifty Shades of Grey is not exactly a masterpiece, it's not even a good book), but some other left me thinking.

For example, when I read complaints about A song of Ice and Fire not being historically accurate for reasons like the characters not dressing exactly as in the middle age or another silly reason, I can't help think "hello... Historically accurate? When did in history dragons and White Walkers exist?" It's a fantasy story in a fantasy world. It's not meant to be anything but what the author wants to make of it. If you find a plot hole, sure, that deserves to be commented, but the rest? It's up to the author what they want to do in a fantasy story.

The main criticism I've read about Fifty Shades of Grey, besides the main character being obnoxious (which is true), is that the topic of BDSM is so poorly treated, that it has little to do with the real BDSM. I've read some people saying that the book should educate in the topic. I have to disagree, and here is where I enter into the point of the title of this post.

We could be discussing for hours what reality means, but there's this simple fact: reality doesn't care and will be there regardless of how we define it. Reality doesn't care whether you believe in it or not. It's going to be there. For example, we can define what the reality of a train means, if it's made of matter, if it's a social construct that will stop working when we redefine the social construct... but none of us would willingly stand in front of a train that comes towards us, hoping that by redefining the social construct of what a train is, the train will stop. We know that the train will kill us. That is reality.

Fantasy, thus, is something that is not real. In a world of fantasy, we can redefine trains so they don't kill people if they ride over them, and that is okay if it serves to our story. Fantasy can use a lot of elements of reality to build the story, but because it's fantasy, we cannot expect that everything will behave according to the rules of reality. Then it would not be fantasy, it would be reality. And each novel has a little or a lot of fantasy in it, starting by the point that stories are fictitious, so it's pointless to expect or even demand that the author treats a topic exactly as it is in the real world, particularly when the fantasy world introduces elements that do not exist in reality.

Of course, historical fantasy will be better if the author has done research enough to describe the era, scenarios, and people, as accurately as possible, while keeping the fantasy of the story. But in the case of A song of Ice and Fire this is not even the case. The story happens in a world that isn't ours. And while some of the events are inspired by real events, we cannot demand that the story fits their development like a glove. It's fantasy. And remember, there are dragons, violating the physics laws every time they fly. Even the physics laws can be transformed in this story, if the plot needs it.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a different matter. I've read people saying that the novel should educate people in how BDSM is. I have to ask, and why a novel should educate anyone? Aren't technical books exactly for that purpose, educating?

I understand where they come from. This book will probably be the only book related to BDSM that many people will read, and it's not exactly good at describing it (it's far from it; it's terrible). So many people will get a wrong idea of what BDSM is. For some, this will mean to dig further into their prejudices, for others, to practice things without the proper education in the topic, likely having accidents.

Then why am I opposed to Fifty Shades of Grey having the obligation of educating people in the subject? Because it's not its purpose. The author, I presume, wasn't writing a work on BDSM but rather a romantic story full of clich├ęs, with BDSM as an excuse to present the story as novelty. She did a bad job at researching BDSM and that's why her presentation of the topic is so terrible, but it is not the purpose of novels to educate people.

We can take the chance of her awful work to educate those we know that have read the book and are curious. We can suggest them serious works about the topic. But education is not the task of a novel writer. The task of a novel writer is writing stories that may be more or less accurate, more or less real.

Are you outraged because of that book and how BDSM is treated? Take that as an opportunity to bringing the topic to others and educate them. If you're not willing to educate others, then you don't have the right to demand that education from fantasy writers.

I've also read criticism about the story being about an abusive man taking advantage of a naive girl. You know, this I'm going to say is unpopular. I'm against that... in the real world. In reality. I'm against anyone being abusive and taking advantage of others. But in a book? The author decides the story, and if we don't like it, we can close the book and take action in the real world, so abuse situations like the one described in that book don't happen... in the real world.

I am the kind who closes a book to never finish it when the story is too much for me. But I've never complained that the author should have done something else. It is their fantasy story, and in the fantasy realm, everything is allowed. Be worried when someone confuses fantasy and reality, and tries to bring to reality the fantasy they've just read. But that is not going to happen often and if it happens, either bring that person to a doctor, or stay away from them.

Don't blame the books: you can always stop reading them and put an end to that fantasy story.
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 01/09/2017 at 12:00:00 - 0 Comments

On writing and books

I've been waiting for this moment since almost two years. Reopening my blog so I could write without worries. And now I go silent. Basically, I didn't take into account something important: I'm catching up with two years of delayed work, while trying to bring fresh new items to the store. I think I've released nearly 2/5 of the scripts that were in the waiting list, but that means there are still nearly 3/5 yet to prepare. It's not just a matter of making a script and bam, ready to go. I like to make a mesh object that can be used as sample, to be used in the documentation. The documentation doesn't write itself alone. The mesh item(s) doesn't make itself alone. If I decide making a textures pack, they don't get flattened, in the correct size, uploaded and renamed alone. You see where I'm getting to. I end up exhausted, trying to find balance with the real world (which is demanding a lot of me these months), and with a need I cannot satisfy: the need to write.

I've been taking notes on several notebooks of all the things I wanted to write about. Now either they don't make sense anymore, or I don't feel like bringing that topic up. Speaking of which, I never mentioned a thing about my experience last year with NaNoWriMo, so why not now?

Did I enjoy the experience?

Oh yes. That month I would set apart some time for me and only me, where I would sit and write, off from SL, off from the world. Me time.

Did I complete the story?

Yes, I did, which came as a complete surprise to me, since I had no idea at some points about what to do with it.

Will I publish it?

Likely, not.

I like some scenes because of the mood they set and the situation they describe, but overall, the story is a pretty bad written story. No, this is not self-pity asking that you all tell me "oh come on, I'm sure it's not that bad", but self-criticism.

The story lacks consistency at some points. Some characters are so flat you could never get a ball rolling over them. They are mere puppets that no reader would feel invested with. The mystery is not well constructed (did I mention, lacks consistency?) The main characters are often confusing in their behaviour.

So I know very well what I'm saying when I say that I'm not proud of what I wrote. However, it was an interesting exercise that gave me this insight, once I sat and read it all at once. "Goodness, this is terrible!"

Will I review it?

I don't know. I would like to, because of the parts of the story I like, but with the load of work over my shoulders, I don't know if I could take on the task of writing an outline and basically rewrite the story, perhaps using only those few scenes I like.

Will I do it again (NaNoWriMo) this year?


I've written a possible starting scene of an entirely different story, and I'll do some outlining work if I can, until November arrives. Else, I'll throw myself to NaNoWriMo as I did last year: completely blind, without a route sheet. If only for the me time in the middle of releases, releases and more releases, it will be worth it. At some point either I do this, or my brain will shut off and force me to take vacation.

My first story was a horror story, and I wrote it in English. Given how terrible it was, maybe I succeeded at the horror (although not like I would have liked to). This one will be more personal, and I'm deciding if I'll write it in English or in Spanish. I feel that the flow of words can be easier this time if I write it in my native language. So if I like it, I'll translate it. Maybe.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you like the experience? Feel free to share :-)
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 15/08/2017 at 23:00:00 - 0 Comments

Making a Gacha Key, the easy way

Probably many gacha makers know already how to do this, but I'm not a frequent gacha maker, so this was to me like discovering fire or the wheel. I suffered a lot to make the gacha key of my first gacha ever (the gacha key is the picture showing all items, saying which are commons and rares). I sworn I would never do a gacha again if making the gacha key was so complicated: Take pics of each item, cut them, scale them, try to fit them on your background... Really, kudos to those of you that make this on a constant basis.

I wanted to make a tropical inspired decoration gacha set for this round of The Liaison Collaborative, but I was a little afraid of the moment when I would have to prepare the gacha (particularly there being glass among the items.) And I had that "aha!" moment.

I rezzed a box. Made it big enough. Added a full bright background that fitted with the theme. And I started rezzing and arranging my items around, like this, leaving space for the title and the list of commons and rares:

These pieces are prettier than in this photo I've taken on a rush - shame on me

Then you can either do your best and take a pic inworld, or you can link it all together, attach it like a HUD, remove any scripts the items may have (for example, the clocks would have gone mad), and make a picture of the HUD.

There you go, easy gacha keys! Now just add the number of the items and if it's common, rare or whatever, and you're done.

Have a great day :-)
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 26/07/2017 at 12:00:00 - 0 Comments

Anonymous messages in Plurk

Since I joined Plurk, the anonymous messages have always been a source of amusement to me. An anonymous message is a message sent with the whisper command of Plurk that instead of showing the person who wrote the message, says Anonymous.

I say that it is a source of amusement to me because it's interesting to see how people reply when an "anon" is published. ("Anon" is the short way of saying anonymous message in Plurk.)

I can see legitimate uses for these messages. Surveys where we want a honest opinion would be one. Whether we like it or not, Plurk, just as any other social media website, works a little like high school. You don't say what you really think unless you are ready to be ostracized, no matter the promises people tell you. You need a mask. And in anons, that mask cracks open, showing the inner us. That's why a survey, for example, is a legit use of anons. People say what they really think about things, and I've seen cases of surveys that were useful thanks to this.

In my book, expressing a controversial opinion while hoping for a debate, is another legitimate use of anons. Sadly, we're living times where it's not the government, but the people, who are exerting censorship over others, and some opinions are better kept private even if you don't share them or, if you want to discuss them, you do that... in an anon.

The problem is that things tend to derail quickly in those kind of anons. Some people don't seem ready to discuss opinions even under the veil of anonymity, which makes their narrowness more interesting, more authentic. It makes me wonder who they are.

We can also find anons just to skin someone alive. What can I say, I'm not a fan of pitchforks and I'm not a fan of seeing someone insulting another under a mask. Do as others do, and insult face to face, so the insulted person knows what to do with you. Fist fight, don't backstab. (Now it's when someone takes this out of context, doesn't understand the metaphor, and says "and she says to be against violence?")

Are anon writers intrinsically cowards?

I don't think that's true in all cases. When it's a case of insulting someone else, or throwing shade, insinuations... Yes, I think that person is a coward. Just like the one in the office that throws a rumor and next we know is that someone else's reputation is ruined. Cowards.

But when we're in cases like the surveys or trying to make a debate from a controversial opinion, I don't think the person is being a coward. Rather, I'd say, cautious. If you've never seen Twitter on fire, you should, so you know what I'm talking about. Jokes have cost people their jobs, and in Plurk, an inopportune, or worse, misunderstood comment, can also turn into a shitstorm against you and your store, if you have one. People love their witch hunts and boycotts. It's always easier to hurt the small ones while they feel they're saving the world.

There's another side of anons that piques my curiosity. The typical responses from people when an anon gets nasty, and when someone needs help.

When anons get nasty, the most interesting things I see happening are:

  • The promotion of said anon by making public how offended you feel. At times I have the feeling that one does this to avoid that others think "they've said nothing, perhaps this person supports all the nasty?" (My feelings on this go to "no" and indeed, in my own case, it's rare I say anything. Silence only means silence. Minds can't be read, so you can't know why my silence unless you ask me.) The anon would die fast if people didn't make public their outrage about it, but like the song says... people are people.
  • The hunting down of the person who wrote the anon via how many friends in common. I've always found this amusing and I've collaborated by lying, saying that it was in my TL too, or not. I have the feeling that I'm not the only one who does this. What can I say? I don't like witch hunts!
  • The "delete me from your timeline" response. This is my favorite. Do you really think that someone who wrote something to provoke is going to remove you only because you ask? They won't, and they will continue pushing your buttons. Get to know better the people in your timeline, or don't read anons.

There are other anons, more worrying. Someone needing help, perhaps depressed, perhaps feeling suicidal, or perhaps just wanting to call attention. In any case, I see that when an anon like this happens, a lot of people jump saying to private message them, telling them who they are.

Honestly? I'm not sure that anything but convincing the person to seek professional help is going to do any good in here. Most of the times, I have the impression of reading a bunch of nosy people that want to know the juicy details but won't listen, except to tell them their own histories (as if the person needing help wanted to know.) Probably I'm wrong here, but that's the impression I get when I see a lot of people jumping with "PP me, I'm this person". I don't doubt of their good intention, but since we're not doctors, we shouldn't play doctor when someone comes with something worrying.

Now you may wonder, do I write anons?

I've written a few, when there are memes, and I've gotten so bored of people only being able to relate me to cheese that I don't do those memes anymore. However, this is the question you must ask yourself, always: Why should you believe my answer?

Maybe I'm one of those nasty coward people that writes anons to stir the pot and make everyone jump. Maybe I don't have time in my life for anons, not even for reading them. Maybe I'm somewhere in between. Only when you get to know me, you will know the answer.

The thing I know is, when an anon reaches to the point of bothering me, I close it.

Have a great day :-)
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 23/07/2017 at 12:00:00 - 0 Comments

I fell off my high horse

A long time ago I wrote a post expressing my disgust about people making fun of how others dress. I wrote it from an emotional place, since I had been the target of such jokes, and at the time, they did hurt. So basically, based on a personal experience, I implied that it was wrong making fun of how others dress or look, no matter RL or SL.

With time, an annoying thought started to knock on the door of my mind. While my intention in writing that was against cruelty and violence (specially, violence for dressing different), I was asking to take a measure I never thought I would fall to ask for. I was asking to set boundaries on humor, on what jokes are acceptable and what jokes are not. That's why I feel that the "FUCK YOU" that Josie replied to me about that post was the best possible answer I could get, and I'm not kidding here. It made me think about what I had said, and suddenly I saw I was riding a horse, a high horse. No, no, no, no. I don't want to be the kind of person that knows better than the rest. So I called myself a jerk and jumped off the horse. Clumsy as I am, more than jumping off was a falling off, but anyway, the horse and I parted ways.

I know that this opinion is quite unpopular in our days, but I think that we should not set boundaries to humor.


I think that setting boundaries to humor means that we know better than the others, that we know it is humor, but maybe the rest of the people aren't that smart and don't notice, so we should protect them from jokes that are potentially offensive to them, in case they think that what the joke says is what they should think and do in reality, instead of taking it the way it is: a joke.

Now, humor is fantasy. Humor cannot be taken seriously. That's why it's called "humor"! So we have to learn to distinguish fantasy from reality. I know that some jokes are delicate and I would never dare telling them in front of some people. The sad of this is that I censor myself. But I guess, there's always a time and a moment. Cracking a joke about death might not be the best thing to do at a funeral (although my family did and everyone laughed, and I swear it wasn't me who said the joke).

It's like saying that we have to protect people from fantasy books, in case those that aren't as smart as us, the poor souls, believe in dragons and all the magical creatures that show up in those books.

It sounds ridiculous, right?

It sounds equally ridiculous with humor. People are smarter than we think and we should never underestimate their ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. So let them crack a joke. Let them laugh.

I think that I can express better, now, what's the exact issue I have with. When humor is used as an excuse to hurt someone. When the intention is hurting. Intention is hard to prove, but with time, it becomes clear. However, jokes about someone wearing something you deem ridiculous, I don't think they're done with the intent of hurting that person, just expressing the normal surprise and "my eyes" moment that we all have gone through at least once in our life. Oh come on, don't tell me now that you've never felt that surprise and that "my eyes" moment because I don't believe it. All of us are used to certain clothes as normal, and all of us go "wait what?" when we see something unusual the first time. Getting used to see it as normal is what makes us grow, but that first surprise? We all go through it. Unless you're not a human. Or you've seen things that 99.999999% of humankind hasn't seen yet. In that case, I want to know which club you use to go. You know. For Science.

The issue I have with using humor as an excuse to hurt someone is the same situation as when someone says "I'm just being sincere" and they use it as an excuse to insult everyone at sight.

But just because someone is an ass and uses humor or another excuse to hurt others, we shouldn't put the blame on humor: we should put the blame in the person that uses the excuse to hurt others. And leave the rest of the world live with their humor, because the world is a huge place, and every person has a different sense of humor than the next one.

So if you see a noob doing something funny and want to show it, go for it. I'm sorry. I didn't want to imply that this was unacceptable. I was coming from an emotional place and what happens when you come from emotional places? You open your big mouth and you fuck up. And I'm sorry for that.

Josie, thank you for that loud and clear "FUCK YOU", because those can tell a lot in a given moment if you can read them, and for sure it made me think a lot.
Posted by: Auryn Beorn on 18/07/2017 at 08:00:00 - 0 Comments
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