Forgiveness vs. Understanding

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

To all those abuse victims out there who can, whether it be for religious reasons or otherwise, forgive their victimizers, I must say that that’s commendable of you. I must respectfully disagree with this attitude, however, as I find the unrepentant abuser to be unworthy of forgiveness.

The forgivers do have a good point, though. Simmering in perpetual resentment, ruminating over the abuse, and constantly reminding oneself–as a reaction to second-guessing–of why one is angry and hurt: these things punish only us, while our abusers go to bed every night and not miss a wink of sleep.

Is there another way, a solution that allows us to have peace without giving our abusers something they haven’t earned? I think so–it’s understanding.

Instead of just regarding them as evil, or as assholes, we should try to understand the course of events that lead them to become who they are. This is why reading about the causes of narcissism, ASPD, and other Cluster B personality disorders is so important.

I personally focus on narcissism since I believe my late mother had NPD, maybe even malignant narcissism (though I can never know for sure, since she was never diagnosed). While psychoanalysis obviously doesn’t have the final say on the causes and treatment of narcissism, it does provide a number of insights worthy of at least some consideration. I recommend reading Heinz Kohut, though his writing is wordy, academic, technical, and therefore very difficult to read through.

Kohut focuses on the narcissist having been deprived of empathy (mirroring) from, and of a solid role model (idealized parental imago) in, his or her parents, resulting in the hated parts of the narcissist’s personality being repressed or disavowed, split off from the self (I interpret this latter defence mechanism as projection, or projective identification, a passing of their own faults onto other people, their abuse victims).

Beyond problems like these, though, it’s often said that narcissists and psychopaths are the way they are, at least in part, because of severe childhood trauma from various forms of abuse and neglect (i.e., disrupted parental bonding). So we can understand what made them that way, though it never gave them any special right to do what they did to us; hence I favour understanding over forgiveness.

I’ve explained in previous posts why I believe my late mother developed pathological levels of narcissism, traits she denied in herself by putting on a False Self of the altruistic, ‘loving mother’ (even though she constantly bad-mouthed her nephews–and me, in all probability–behind their backs and mine), and by projecting her faults onto me, the family scapegoat, or identified patient.

I’ll review those reasons here below, as well as give what I think are the reasons her flying monkeys, my older brothers R. and F., and my older sister J., the golden child, were such bullies to me when I was a child, teen, and young adult.

Born in London, England in 1938, and therefore subjected on at least some level to the Blitz starting two years later, my mother must have had a traumatizing infancy. Added to this, her father–whom she deeply loved–died when she was a little girl…more trauma. Then she emigrated with her mother to Canada, leaving behind the whole world of her childhood to enter a totally unfamiliar one…even more childhood trauma.

The thing to be amazed at is not how screwed up my mother was, but how well she kept herself together. I believe she used a grandiose self as a defence against psychological fragmentation, the emotional falling-apart or disintegration of the personality.

Now, that grandiose self of hers wouldn’t have lasted long in a world that doesn’t tolerate braggarts. I’ll bet her mother–already with enough on her plate, and struggling to raise Mom on her own until meeting the man who would be my step-grandfather–was particularly annoyed with my then-teenage Mom’s egotism. I’m guessing Grandma shamed Mom for it, instead of empathically mirroring it, as Kohut would do in treating narcissists, and letting her grandiosity down in levels tolerable for her to endure, so she could cultivate the moderate, restrained, healthy, and mature amounts of narcissistic tendencies of normal people.

My then-adolescent mother (assuming my speculations are correct) would have had to bury her shame and adapt, transforming her overt narcissism into the covert kind. Part of this would have involved replacing boasting about herself with smearing other people behind their backs. Over the years, she would have honed her skills at observing people, gossiping, and spreading rumours, to the point of rarely, if ever, getting caught having told a lie.

Getting married and having children would have given my mother the perfect setting to play her manipulative games. Children are blank slates, ideal for moulding into whatever kind of people the narcissistic parent wants them to be. A spouse who can be dominated, and whose contempt for all things psychological and psychiatric would preclude his benefitting from gaining any insight into human nature (a perfect description of the disposition of my late father), would be a perfect match for a narcissist, too.

The thrill of dominating a whole family in this way would be an irresistible pleasure for a narcissistic mother. The master of puppets could then indulge her fantasies of superiority and power-wielding by taking advantage of naïve children who desperately need parental love and approval, tricking them into confusing parental bullying with discipline and correction of misbehaviour.

She could play Pygmalion, sculpting her sons’ and daughters’ personalities and self-perceptions into whatever she wanted them to be. All that shame my Mom had from her original egotism and self-absorption could be projected onto an innocent, unsuspecting child (me). The idealized version of herself that she wished she could equate with what she saw in the mirror would instead be projected onto another of her children (my sister, J.), whom she could look at as if looking at her own reflection. The pain of emotional neglect, or a lack of empathic mirroring, which she got as a child could be expelled from her and projected onto her remaining sons (my brothers, R. and F.).

The stage was set: we, her sons and daughter, would contain all her pain, dejection, and self-hate (J.’s pain being the pressure, as the golden child, to be everything Mom demanded she be, and to embody every virtue Mom failed to embody herself). By containing all these hurts for Mom (as, under normal circumstances, a mother in reverie would contain the pain and anxieties of her baby), we unwittingly freed her to function normally in society…or at least to seem to be functioning so.

Now, that was the dysfunctional way my mother dealt with her pain. With my brothers, the source of much of their nastiness to me was in their strained relationship with our father: this is especially true of R.

In all the blog posts I’ve written about my family, I’ve said comparatively little about the faults of my father, in large part because–in spite of how egregious his faults were–I don’t consider him to have had pathological levels of narcissistic traits (I don’t consider F. to have them either, however much of a bully he was to me). We need now to consider the role Dad played in all of our family’s problems.

Dad had a reactionary attitude towards child rearing. If we kids did wrong, he imagined shaming us into doing right would work. He was a staunch conservative, and an ardent advocate of spanking. If you got poor grades at school, or showed a lack of interest in improving them (he was a high school teacher back in the 1960s), you were going to have a hard time with him. Enter my academically disappointing brothers.

J and I got good grades in school (especially her…and Dad growled at me from time to time if I ever got disappointing grades), so he was generally nicer to us. Dad actually took me under his wing, mentoring me, even. Now, bear in mind that his influence wasn’t always a good thing, given his bigotry against blacks, Jews, gays, the left, etc., and teaching kids bigoted beliefs is considered a form of emotional abuse. Nonetheless, this closeness between Dad and me incurred jealousy in R. and F., giving those two pricks a motive to bully me.

Now, as understandable as my elder brothers’ jealousy and rage were, it doesn’t come even close to justifying R.’s and F’s viciousness towards me. Why should I have been punished for having one family member reasonably (far from absolutely!) on my side? Consider the heartbreak I felt to learn how my mother, with her eight WTF moments (<<see here, scrolling down to Part VII: Conclusion), had never really been on my side, with J. as her mini-me, helping her. Would Mom’s cruelties to me justify my being vindictive to R. and F., given Mom’s general favouring of them over me (e.g., looking the other way when they bullied me)?

Am I not allowed one family friend (which Dad wasn’t in the strict sense, for he verbally abused me on many occasions, as did the others, typically for minor things I’d done to annoy him)? Dad looked well on J. usually; and she and Mom were pals, she being the golden child. Though R. was often nasty to J. for the same reason he was to me (i.e., our better school grades), he was nasty to her only a fraction of the time he was to me; and F. generally wasn’t mean to her–only to me.

Something else had to be going on to explain the family’s aggravated abuse on me; even my personal faults (which, I admit, are far from few) cannot account for the volume of viciousness they all showed me. This is where my poison-tongued mother came in.

I believe that her childhood traumas, as outlined above, caused her to imagine that isolation and conflict are standard elements in human relationships, that a large dose of resentment and hostility mixed in with otherwise ‘loving’ family relationships was her normal. Hence, all the rancour she inspired among us.

I was scapegoated by her, and so, I believe, was our henpecked father, to a great extent. So my ‘friendship’ with him made us into the ‘bad team’ of the family during my youth in Canada; and Mom, R., F., and J. were the ‘good team,’ since they gave Mom substantial amounts of narcissistic supply. All three of my siblings felt varying levels of bitterness towards Dad, and I believe Mom stoked the flames of their animus towards him, just as she had towards my three cousins. Conflict was her normal, as long as it didn’t get pushed too far.

It did get pushed too far once, back in the mid-70s, when then-teenage R. went through some emotional problems leading to his swallowing over a dozen pills, then later leaving home, that is, not moving with us from Toronto to Hamilton. I’ve gone over what happened back then in more detail here (<<<scroll one third to halfway down), with my speculation that Mom was at least partially, significantly responsible for the escalating conflict between him and Dad.

I believe part of her motive–in lying to me that mythical shrinks judged that I was too mentally incompetent (from her having lied to me about having infantile autism) to “make even a good garbageman” (!)–was so I’d be too scared to run away from home, as R. had. Her autism lie, designed to make me seem inferior and irritating instead of worthy of compassion, would also make me seem totally unworthy of the favour I’d been getting from Dad, thus making my siblings loathe me all the more.

Mom’s final lie to me, told on R.’s cellphone while she lay on her deathbed, that she “gave [me] the most love” during my preteen/early adolescent years (scroll down to Part 6 here for the whole story) was, I believe, calculated to stir up more jealousy in R., who was sitting by her bed when she said it to me. (For the record, Mother dear, lying about me having autism, lying that psychiatrists had thought I should be locked away in an asylum due to mental retardation, and allowing my siblings to bully me, are not examples of how to give a son any love, let alone “the most love”!) She wanted my siblings to believe that I, as ‘undeserving’ as I was, was the parental favourite!

The absurdity of such a belief (and, therefore, the cruelty of her making them believe that) is obvious, and should be obvious to them, given not only J.’s golden child status against mine as the scapegoat, and not only because of how R., F., and J. grew up largely thinking their bullying of me was morally defensible (thanks not only to Mom’s winking at the vast majority of it, but also to her rationalizing and minimizing of their cruelty, and her invalidating of my side of the story), but also how Mom had said, years before on at least two occasions (one of them with J. present), that F. was her favourite. I believed Mom at the time, but now that I know what a pathological liar she was, I believe she said it to stir up jealousy in J. (her real favourite) and me.

The point of stirring up all this conflict was to make the three of us compete for Mom’s love. J.’s self-righteous moralizing, as with R.’s and F.’s, was to tell me, “See, Mawr? We’re more deserving of Mom’s love than you are!” One time, in a fight with F., I claimed his ‘caring’ for other people (as opposed to his accusation that ‘I don’t care about anyone but myself’), was just to get attention. Furious, he yelled four-letter abuse at me and threatened to hit me: was his anger because I’d said something unfair…or because what I’d said was true?

Just as Mom used projective identification to expel what she hated in herself onto me, so did R., F., and J. project what Mom and Dad had made them hate in themselves onto me. They needed to get rid of that poisonous pain…by using me as the receptacle of it?

Anyway, my point is that I can understand why everyone in the family was the way they were. Mom was manipulating them as much as she was manipulating me, though in different ways. I won’t forgive them, though, because their willful ignorance of what really happened in that family makes them unworthy of being forgiven for their wrongs against me. They wouldn’t be able to bear learning that Mom never really loved any of us, but only pretended to, while using us instead to give her narcissistic supply.

I say, leave my siblings in the security of their illusions that Mom was loving, that they were all good, and only I was the one with the problems. It’s the most loving thing I can do for them.

Analysis of ‘Blade Runner’

I: Introduction

Blade Runner is a 1982 neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, with Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmet Walsh, and Edward James Olmos. It’s loosely based on Philip K. Dick‘s 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I will also be analyzing, as I will the film’s 2017 sequel, Blade Runner 2049.

Neither Blade Runner nor its sequel fared as well as they should have at the box office, though both have been well-received critically, the first film now regarded as a cult classic, and one of the best science-fiction films of all time.

The stories’ notion of androids–“andys” in the novel, and “replicants,” or pejoratively, “skinjobs” in the movies–raises questions of what it means to be authentically human; for the androids are virtually indistinguishable from real humans. Since these androids are used as slave labour on other planets, they can be seen as symbolic of victims of racism and class conflict.

II: Quotes

From Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

‘I’m not a cop.’ He felt irritable now, although he hadn’t dialed for it.

‘You’re worse,’ his wife said, her eyes still shut. ‘You’re a murderer hired by the cops.’

‘I’ve never killed a human being in my life.’ His irritability had risen, now; had become outright hostility.

Iran said, ‘Just those poor andys.’ —Dick, page 1

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The saying currently blabbed by posters, TV ads, and government junk mail, ran: ‘Emigrate or degenerate! The choice is yours!’ –page 5

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“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.”

“I see.” The girl regarded him uncertainly, not knowing whether to believe him. Not sure if he meant it seriously.

“There’s the First Law of Kipple,” he said. “‘Kipple drives out nonkipple.’ Like Gresham’s law about bad money. And in these apartments there’s been nobody here to fight the kipple.” –page 52

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Thinking this, he wondered if Mozart had any intuition that the future did not exist, that he had already used up his little time. Maybe I have too, Rick thought as he watched the rehearsal move along. This rehearsal will end, the performance will end, the singers will die, eventually the last score of the music will be destroyed in one way or another; finally the name “Mozart” will vanish, the dust will have won. If not on this planet then another. We can evade it awhile. As the andys can evade me and exist a finite stretch longer. But I will get them or some other bounty hunter gets them. In a way, he realized, I’m part of the form-destroying process of entropy. The Rosen Association creates and I unmake. Or anyhow so it must seem to them.” pages 77-78

At an oil painting Phil Resch halted, gazed intently. The painting showed a hairless, oppressed creature with a head like an inverted pear, its hands clapped in horror to its ears, its mouth open in a vast, soundless scream. Twisted ripples of the creature’s torment, echoes of its cry, flooded out into the air surrounding it; the man or woman, whichever it was, had become contained by its own howl. It had covered its ears against its own sound. The creature stood on a bridge and no one else was present; the creature screamed in isolation. Cut off by – or despite – its outcry. –page 104

Luba Luft…stood absorbed in the picture before her: a drawing of a young girl, hands clasped together, seated on the edge of a bed, an expression of bewildered wonder and new, groping awe imprinted on the face. –page 104

Resch…burrowed a narrow hole, silently, into her stomach. She began to scream; she lay crouched against the wall of the elevator, screaming. Like the picture, Rick thought to himself, and, with his own laser tube, killed her. Luba Luft’s body fell forward, face down, in a heap. It did not even tremble. –page 107

So much for the distinction between authentic living humans and humanoid constructs. –page 113

‘The whole idea in bounty hunting is to work as fast as hell. That’s where the profit comes’ –page 125

…bounty hunters…something merciless that carried a printed list and a gun, that moved machine-like through the flat, bureaucratic job of killing. A thing without emotions, or even a face; a thing that if killed got replaced immediately by another resembling it. And so on, until everyone real and alive had been shot. –page 125

‘You’re androids,’ Isidore said…’But what does it matter to me? I mean, I’m a special; they don’t treat me very well either, like for instance I can’t emigrate.’ –page 129

The old man said, ‘You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe. –page 141

Roy Baty…had probably been a manual laborer, a field hand, with aspirations for something better. Do androids dream? Rick asked himself. Evidently; that’s why they occasionally kill their employers and flee here. A better life, without servitude. Like Luba Luft; singing Don Giovanni and Le Nozze instead of toiling across the face of a barren rock-strewn field. On a fundamentally uninhabitable colony world. –page 145

‘That goat,’ Rachael said. ‘You love the goat more than me. More than you love your wife, probably. First the goat, then your wife, then last of all–‘ –pages 158-159

‘Mercerism is a swindle!’ –page 165

‘The whole experience of empathy is a swindle.’ –pages 165-166

What a job to have to do, Rick thought. I’m a scourge, like famine or plague. Where I go the ancient curse follows. As Mercer said, I am required to do wrong. Everything I’ve done has been wrong from the start. –page 178

For Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I’ve done, he thought; that’s become alien to me. In fact everything about me has become unnatural; I’ve become an unnatural self. –page 182

The hunger and heat combined, a poisonous taste resembling defeat; yes, he thought, that’s what it is: I’ve been defeated in some obscure way. By having killed the androids? By Rachael’s murder of my goat? He did not know, but as he plodded along a vague and almost hallucinatory pall hazed over his mind; he found himself at one point, with no notion of how it could be, a step from an almost certain fatal cliffside fall—falling humiliatingly and helplessly, he thought; on and on, with no one even to witness it. Here there existed no one to record his or anyone else’s degradation, and any courage or pride which might manifest itself here at the end would go unmarked: the dead stones, the dust-stricken weeds dry and dying, perceived nothing, recollected nothing, about him or themselves. –page 183

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‘They’re saying now that Mercer is a fake.’

‘Mercer isn’t a fake,’ he said. ‘Unless reality is a fake.’ –page 186

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‘The spider Mercer gave the chickenhead, Isidore; it probably was artificial, too. But it doesn’t matter. The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are.’ –page 191

From Blade Runner

“Replicants are like any other machine. They’re either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem.” –Deckard (Ford)

“Skin jobs”. That’s what Bryant called Replicants. In history books he’s the kind of cop who used to call black men “niggers”. –Deckard (voiceover)

“Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. ‘More human than human’ is our motto.” –Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel)

“Have you ever retired a human by mistake?” –Rachael (Young)

“Is this testing whether I’m a Replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?” –Rachael

“You know that Voight-Kampff test of yours? Did you ever take that test yourself?” –Rachael

“Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?” –Leon

“I want more life, fucker (father).” –Batty, to Tyrell

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly, Roy.” –Tyrell

“Proud of yourself, little man?” –Roy Batty (Hauer)

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” –Batty, before dying

“It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?” –Gaff (Olmos)

From Blade Runner 2049

“You newer models are happy scraping the shit… because you’ve never seen a miracle.” –Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista)

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Interviewer: Officer K-D-six-dash-three-dot-seven, let’s begin. Ready?’

K: Yes, sir.

Interviewer: Recite your baseline.

K’: And blood-black nothingness began to spin… A system of cells interlinked within cells interlinked within cells interlinked within one stem… And dreadfully distinct against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

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Luv: I’m here for Mr. Wallace. I’m Luv.

K’: He named you. You must be special.

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Rick Deckard: I had your job once. I was good at it.

K’: Things were simpler then.

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“Sometimes to love someone, you got to be a stranger.” –Deckard

“Dying for the right cause. It’s the most human thing we can do.” –Freysa

III: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

One of the things that are supposed to distinguish humans from “andys” is our capacity for empathy. Rick Deckard’s wife, Iran, however, is avid about using an “empathy box” to experience climbing a rocky hill and enduring being pelted with rocks, a shared experience called “fusion” with Wilbur Mercer, the hill climber and eponym of “Mercerism,” the new religion of those living after “World War Terminus” (in the year 1992, or 2021, in later editions of the novel), a nuclear war that has made life on Earth difficult, if not unliveable.

The empathy box allows her, and all other adherents to Mercerism, to experience Mercer’s climb as if they were he. Hence, she can empathize with him and all others sharing in the fusion, and thus grow spiritually in accordance with the religion. Yet, since empathy is, at least normally, an innate human trait, why does one need to use the box? Why not pray or meditate instead, using one’s religious faith to share the experience intuitively? Why use a machine to feel empathy?

The people of this world also have a device called a “mood organ” that they can set at whatever number to provide any emotional state they wish to have, including negative emotions. But again, since these are actual humans who use the mood organ, why can’t they just try to feel these feelings naturally? Devices like this one and the empathy box give us the impression that real people in this dystopia are as machine-like as the androids (who also have emotions, incidentally).

Empathy is the basis of the morality of Mercerism, which has replaced Christianity since the nuclear destruction of the world as we’ve known it. Few animals have survived, and as an expression of empathy, people are expected to own and take care of an animal–preferably a real one, but mechanical animals (e.g., Deckard’s electric sheep) are owned by those who can’t afford the expensive real ones.

The ‘better’ an animal one has (i.e, a real one), the more social status one has, since taking care of a ‘better’ animal implies that the owner has more empathy. We can see in this commodification of animals, bought and sold, real and fake, how the new religion is as corrupt as those of the past.

Rick Deckard’s ambition is to get enough money to buy a real animal. He sees his neighbour, Bill Barbour, with his horse (pages 6-10). He envies Barbour because all he has is that electric sheep. The opportunity to “retire” (that is, kill) a group of androids who have escaped the off-world colonies and come to Earth can give him the money for a better animal.

What is emphasized in the novel and both movies, though in different ways, is that the distinction between humans and androids is meaningless. Similarly, in our world it has been scientifically established that there are no such things as races, yet racists keep insisting on making those distinctions; just as the humans in Dick’s novel use the Voigt-Kampff empathy test to maintain a sense that “andys” are not truly human, and therefore aren’t deserving of basic rights.

Humans create androids to be slaves on the off-world colonies. Capitalists created, if you will, the proletariat through, for example, the enclosures of the Commons in England and forcing the peasant workers into the cities to sell their labour for a meagre wage. White slaveowners created the ‘nigger’ by taking him from Africa, scorning his original culture, and creating a disparaging one for him in the US. The histories of these oppressed peoples were replaced with the new ideology of the oppressor, to justify his ‘superiority’ over his victims.

Mercerism’s moral notion of human empathy, something that androids apparently lack, is used to justify notions of human superiority over “andys”; just as the ‘superior’ morality of Christianity has been used to justify ‘superior’ Western culture in its lording itself over ‘uncivilized’ and ‘heathen’ societies, thus legitimizing imperialist conquests of Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America with no pangs of bad conscience.

In comparing bigotry against androids with bigotry against people of colour, though, we note an ironic contrast. The difference between man and android is invisible, whereas the visual difference between whites and non-whites is obvious. We don’t deny the biology and personalities of non-whites as genuine, yet we treat them as subhuman just because of their darker skin colour. “Skinjobs” (as they’re derogatorily called in the movies) have no skin colour distinct from that of humans, yet biologically, they’re synthetic, and thus are regarded as non-human.

Deckard’s willingness to retire the androids, just to rise in social status by owning a real animal, illustrates perfectly how this dystopian world is symbolic of how dehumanizing capitalism and class conflict are. Subjugate and/or kill off the lower classes and people of colour, and rise in class status by having done so. Religion justifies this class structure, since the upper classes apparently are more moral, have more empathy, and therefore deserve a better life.

Protestantism justifies letting the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, since God rewards the hardworking with more money and, by implication, punishes the ‘lazy’ with poverty. The Hindu caste system in India has also justified privileged ruling classes of Brahmins and Kshatriyas, and the Vaishyas, rewarding their good karma from previous lives, as against the lowest-level Shudras, who are kept in poverty because of bad karma:

“The fundamental social ideal is that of the four-fold division of society…In the accounts of the division of society into four classes (varna) in the sacred texts it is emphasized that the origin of the class structure is divine, not human, the implication being that the right ordering of society is ultimately a religious, not a secular, concern.” (The Hindu Tradition, page 75)

The ’empathic’ caring for an animal (usually a synthetic one) in Mercerism parallels the phoniness of charity promoted in typical manifestations of organized religion. We socialists see through the pretence of using charity to help the poor, since we know that throwing a bit of money at them from time to time does nothing to solve their problems. Giving to the poor is about giving oneself face, and little more.

Alongside the contempt shown to androids is a similar attitude shown to humans adversely affected by the toxic environment after the nuclear war. One common affliction is against the intellect, causing such people to be unfit to live on a colonized planet off-world. Such people are referred to by the slur, “chickenhead.” A gentler term for “chickenhead,” however, is “special.”

John Isidore is a “special,” living alone in a filthy, abandoned building, until he meets Pris Stratton, one of the renegade androids that Deckard has to retire. Isidore’s relationship with her, Roy and Irmgard Baty (whom he later meets) is one of a mutual understanding of each other’s outsider status, with an added measure of android contempt for servile Isidore.

So while the androids are comparable to the scorned working class and people of colour, Isidore is rather like mentally disabled people; so “chickenhead” might remind us of the slur ‘retard.’ While we’re on the subject of people discriminated against and looked down on, consider Rachael’s remark when given the Voigt-Kampff test: “‘Is this testing whether I’m an android,’ Rachael asked tartly, ‘or whether I’m homosexual?'” (page 39–of course, in the movie the words android and homosexual are replaced with replicant and a lesbian)

Indeed, that very test is grating on one’s nerves, in how it probes and discriminates through its taunting questions. The very determination that Rachael Rosen, originally assumed to be human, is an android underscores the foggy distinction between human and android. There’s a recurring worry that these tests may be ineffective in spotting the difference between android and human, leading to the fear of accidentally killing a person.

Added to this confusion is Deckard’s growing empathy for androids like Rachael. After retiring Polokov, having originally thought he was a Soviet policeman, and after helping Phil Resch kill Luba Luft, an android opera singer whose voice he admired, Deckard is beginning to see the futility of distinguishing human from android. The incident at the fake police station (manned by androids, Chapters Ten and Eleven) reinforces Deckard’s confusion, since he’s been manipulated into thinking he could be an android.

Recall the end of Chapter Nine, when Officer Crams (an android pretending to be a policeman) has apprehended Deckard. “‘Maybe you’re an android,’ Officer Crams said. ‘With a false memory, like they give them. Had you thought of that?’ He grinned frigidly as he continued to drive south.” (page 88)

And later, an android, pretending to be a senior police official named Garland, says this to fellow bounty hunter Phil Resch about Deckard: “‘I don’t think you understand the situation,’ Garland said. ‘This man–or android–Rick Deckard comes to us from a phantom, hallucinatory, non-existent police agency allegedly operating out of the old departmental headquarters on Lombard. He’s never heard of us and we’ve never heard of him–yet ostensibly we’re both working the same side of the street. He employs a test we’ve never heard of. The list he carries around isn’t of androids; it’s a list of human beings. He’s already killed once–at least once. And if Miss Luft hadn’t gotten to a phone he probably would have killed her and then eventually he would have come sniffing around after me.’ (page 94)

So we see here a group of androids trying to beat the humans at their own game, by projecting the non-human, Untermensch status onto those who are always doing it to them, and–with respect to “Garland’s motives. Wanting to split [Deckard and Resch] up…” (page 112).

We learn that Garland et al are androids, and after he is killed by Resch’s laser tube, Resch asks Deckard about the “andys”: ‘Do you think of them as “it”?’ With Deckard’s growing empathy for androids, he replies to Resch by saying, ‘When my conscience occasionally bothered me about the work I had to do; I protected myself by thinking of them that way but now I no longer find it necessary.’ (page 99)

Because both Deckard and Resch have doubts as to whether they’re androids or human, they both do the Voigt-Kampff test (pages 111-113). This doubt of theirs again reinforces the unclear line between human and ‘non-human.’

In his shock and unease about realizing he’s empathizing with androids, Deckard buys a Nubian goat (a real one) with his reward money. After presenting it to Iran, he explains his feelings to her: ‘I took a test, one question, and verified it; I’ve begun to empathize with androids, and look what that means. You said it this morning yourself. “Those poor andys.” So you know what I’m talking about. That’s why I bought the goat. I never felt like that before. Maybe it could be a depression, like you get. I can understand now how you suffer when you’re depressed…But when you get that depressed you don’t care. Apathy, because you’ve lost a sense of worth.’ (pages 137-138)

His wife wants to have “fusion” with Mercer because of her husband’s purchase; he isn’t all that enthused about Mercerism, but he has a vision of Mercer during “fusion,” who tells him of the necessity sometimes to do what is or seems to be immoral, or contrary to one’s nature (page 141). This hearing of Mercer’s words must be an auditory hallucination brought on by his stress and confusion over the morality of his work, and his growing, troubling empathy for androids he has to kill.

He meets Rachael, who has agreed to help him with the remaining androids to be retired, in a hotel. They are developing feelings for each other, which is difficult for him, of course, since she’s an android. He tells her of his goat: ‘I bought a black Nubian goat,’ he said. ‘I have to retire the three more andys. I have to finish up my job and go home to my wife.’ (pages 150-151)

This revelation annoys her, since it seems to her that in his hierarchy of values, the goat comes first, Iran second, and Rachel last: ‘That goat,’ Rachael said. ‘You love the goat more than me. More than you love your wife, probably. First the goat, then your wife, then last of all–‘ She laughed merrily. ‘What can you do but laugh?’ (pages 158-159)

She seems to have it right, for Deckard’s whole motivation has been to retire “andys” so he can have a living animal as a status symbol. Middle class types like Deckard rise, retired andys fall; this is symbolic of the class contradictions between the middle and lower classes, or the racial contradictions between whites and blacks.

Deckard’s wife isn’t all that important to him, since he sleeps with Rachael without any pangs of conscience over his adultery. The only aspect of the immorality of his sexual encounter with Rachael is in how he’s broken the law by sleeping with an android; it reminds one of the KKK’s abhorrence of inter-racial sex.

Towards the end of the novel, Deckard reflects on his sexual transgression: “Bed rest, he thought. The last time I hit bed was with Rachael. A violation of a statute. Copulation with an android; absolutely against the law, here and on the colony worlds as well.” (page 186)

The retiring of Pris, Roy and Irmgard Baty is, in my opinion at least, disappointingly anticlimactic, especially as compared to Deckard’s and Roy’s confrontation in the film. Only Pris will be even remotely a challenge, since, firstly, she could be Rachael’s twin, both females being of the same model.

“Tonight sometime, he thought as he clicked off the bedside light, I will retire a Nexus-6 which looks exactly like this naked girl. My good god, he thought; I’ve wound up where Phil Resch said. Go to bed with her first, he remembered. Then kill her. ‘I can’t do it,’ he said, and backed away from the bed.” (page 153)

The second reason it will be difficult for Deckard to kill Pris is because she’s planning a surprise attack as she waits for him to look around Isidore’s building. Again, the stress of the moment causes Deckard to have a hallucination of Mercer, who warns him of Pris. (pages 174-175)

What’s interesting about Deckard’s growing faith in Mercer is how, for pretty much everyone else, the whole religion has been proven a fake. Mercer is dead: thus spoke Buster Friendly (pages 163-166). Still, it’s remarkable how people can cling to a discredited faith, especially one in its fundamentalist form.

Many fall prey to organized religion, not so much out of spiritual conviction as from an emotional crisis of some kind, as is the case with Deckard. The simple, black-and-white solution of fundamentalism for people’s problems has an immense appeal, in spite of the absurdity of the belief system.

Deckard’s original belief system, that of the ‘difference’ between man and “andy,” has been shaken. It’s been suggested that he’s an android, he’s been empathizing with a few androids (Rachael and Luba), he’s made love with one, and he’s killed, among other androids, one that looks exactly like his “andy” lover. All of this is more than enough to give him an emotional crisis needing quick relief.

The black-and-white solution of ‘Mercer’s guidance’ can give him that relief easily, so Deckard hallucinates about him. Similarly, Christians who have brutalized black people can comfort themselves with the visual illusion that black skin somehow makes blacks fundamentally different from whites; the spurious notion that blacks were descended from Ham, who disgraced himself before drunk, naked Noah, has been used, among other rationalizations, to scorn blacks.

Deckard, however, doesn’t have the convenience of a different skin colour to fool himself that androids are sub-human, and therefore unworthy of the same consideration and rights as humans. Ironically, as his empathy for “andys” grows, so does his faith in Mercerism. It is so bizarre that, in a post-apocalyptic world of nuclear annihilation, where androids are either enslaved or killed, and people like Isidore are scorned as “chickenheads,” one believes that the cultivation of empathy can be anything other than a case of ‘too little, too late.’ Indeed, the very idea of trying to cultivate empathy in such a dystopian world is a sick joke.

Deckard’s crisis grows when he learns that Rachael has thrown his goat off the roof of his apartment building, thus making it fall to its death. Recall how irked she was over his preference of the goat, and his wife, over her. On another level, her killing of the goat can be seen to symbolize an act of proletarian defiance against a system that prizes commodities and the bourgeoisie over the working class. Since it’s a real goat, its killing is a misguided defiance, but a defiance all the same.

The androids’ loathing of empathy, as a virtue assumed to be unique among the privileged–since “andys” rarely receive any of it–is also reflected in Pris’s clipping of the spider’s legs (pages 162-166), much to Isidore’s chagrin; this loathing is also seen in Roy Baty’s glee in knowing that empathy is fake, because Mercer is fake (pages 165-166). The loathing is comparable to how class-conscious workers realize that, as Marx observed, “religion is the opium of the people.” Rachael’s killing of the goat-commodity is like workers’ deliberate sabotaging of their bosses’ means of production.

Recall Irmgard’s words on empathy as a supposedly human-only virtue: ’empathy…Isn’t it a way of proving that humans can do something we can’t do? Because without the Mercer experience we just have your word that you feel this empathy business, this shared, group thing…’ (page 165)

In Chapter Twenty-One, Deckard, in his growing emotional turmoil, flies his car up to an obliterated area of Oregon, where he climbs a rocky hill, is pelted by rocks, and thus finds himself acting like Mercer, but without one of those VR empathy boxes. His delusion that he is Mercer is the ultimate narcissistic defence against psychological fragmentation, the only thing keeping him from falling apart, from all of his accumulated guilt over having killed all those “andys.”

We see the lead-in to Deckard’s vision of Mercer in his conflicted reflections on what he’s done, his alienation from himself: “For Mercer everything is easy, he thought, because Mercer accepts everything. Nothing is alien to him. But what I’ve done, he thought; that’s become alien to me. In fact everything about me has become unnatural; I’ve become an unnatural self.” (page 182)

Then, as Deckard ascends the hill: “The hunger and heat combined, a poisonous taste resembling defeat; yes, he thought, that’s what it is: I’ve been defeated in some obscure way. By having killed the androids? By Rachael’s murder of my goat? He did not know, but as he plodded along a vague and almost hallucinatory pall hazed over his mind…” (page 183)

In his stress, Deckard has seen Mercer, a dark figure in the shadows, twice (excluding the VR “fusion” on page 141): once before confronting Pris (pages 174-175), and now this other time on the hill. This second time, he identifies with Mercer. The dark image of Mercer is rather like Lacan‘s mirror: an idealized version of spastic, hill-climbing Deckard looking back at him like a mirror reflection. He’s alienated from himself, just as that spectral image alienates him and, paradoxically, is identified with him.

“‘Mercer,’ he said, panting; he stopped, stood still. In front of him he distinguished a shadowy figure, motionless. ‘Wilbur Mercer! Is that you?’ My god, he realized; it’s my shadow. I have to get out of here, down off this hill!

“He scrambled back down. Once, he fell; clouds of dust obscured everything, and he ran from the dust–he hurried faster, sliding and tumbling on the loose pebbles…He plucked open the car door, squeezed inside. Who threw the stone at me? he asked himself. No one. But why does it bother me? I’ve undergone it before, during fusion. While using my empathy box, like everyone else. This isn’t new. But it was. Because, he thought, I did it alone.” (pages 183-184)

Deckard also finds a toad that is supposed to be extinct, yet he imagines, in his ‘divine’ self-delusion, that it’s real: “…to find the critter most sacred to Mercer. Jesus, he thought; it can’t be…Did Mercer arrange it? But I’m Mercer. I arranged it; I found the toad. Found it because I see through Mercer’s eyes.” (page 188) He takes it home, thinking it can replace the goat as the object of his ’empathy.’ Iran shows him it’s electric (page 191). “Crestfallen,” he, in all exhaustion, goes to bed, covered in dust (page 192).

This sleep of his is a sleep of sloth. His illusions have been peeled away, one by one: androids have no less a legitimate right to be empathized with than humans have; Mercerism is fake; the radioactivity and filth have probably infected his brain, causing his Mercer delusions as well as his inability to tell a fake animal from a real one, as he has begun to suspect, even during his Mercer delusions: “Maybe it’s due to brain damage on my part: exposure to radioactivity. I’m a special, he thought. Something has happened to me. Like the chickenhead Isidore and his spider, what happened to him is happening to me.” (page 188) Deckard is losing all purpose in life.

In his routine as a bounty hunter, using empathy boxes and mood organs to help him have feelings, he–as well as Iran and every other human on Earth–is more android than android.

Since I see androids as symbolic of proletarians and people of colour, this notion that humanity lives an android-like life indicates how we’re all victims of the alienating, hierarchical world of capitalism, regardless of whether we’re black or white, working class or petite bourgeois.

Deckard realizes his pitiful state, yet gets no edification from it: he just goes to bed and acquiesces to his mechanical life.

Perhaps he’ll dream of his electric sheep.

IV: Blade Runner

[I am basing this analysis on the Director’s Cut. I don’t have a DVD of the Final Cut; if, in the future, I get one and find elements in it that ought to be included in this analysis, I’ll update it accordingly then.]

It’s fitting that I should write this analysis in 2019, though I’m not in Los Angeles (as opposed to the novel’s San Francisco setting), and…why don’t we have flying cars by now?

Leon Kowalski (played by Brion James, and roughly equivalent to Polokov in the novel) is being given the Voight-Kampff test by Dave Holden (played by Morgan Paull). Replicant Leon is nervous, and comes off as not very intelligent. He often interrupts Holden with irrelevant questions and remarks.

Because the test is “designed to provoke an emotional response,” as Holden tells Leon, because replicants are emotionally immature due to their short life span (four years, not enough to develop the nuanced emotions we all take for granted), because the test’s purpose is to help in the discrimination between man and replicant, and because–as I’ve shown above–the oppression of replicants (or “andys”) is symbolic of the oppression of people of colour and of the working class, this test can be seen as a formalized kind of taunting.

Taunting is a tactic often used by bullies and racists against their victims. The provocative nature of the Voight-Kampff questions–especially in relation to my notion of replicants as symbolic of, among other oppressed groups, black people–is comparable to what happens to Marian in Angelica Gibbs‘s short story, “The Test,” published in 1940 and reflective of white racial prejudice against blacks.

Marian is an African-American woman doing a driving test, sitting next to a prejudiced white man who’s both testing and taunting her. He calls her “Mary-Lou” instead of her real name. When he learns she’s 27, he says, “Old enough to have quite a flock of pickaninnies, eh?” He whistles “Swanee River.” He pretends to be astonished to learn she’s from Pennsylvania, saying, “You-all ain’t Southern?…Well, dog my cats if I didn’t think you-all came from down yondah.” She endures him as best she can, until his slurs against her skin colour finally go too far, and she cries, “Damn you!” He loses “his joviality in an instant” and makes “four very black crosses at random in the squares on Marian’s application blank,” failing her, even though her driving has been impeccable the whole time.

The tension the replicants feel in Blade Runner when doing the Voight-Kampff test is similar to how Marian feels. When Holden asks Leon to talk about his good memories of his mother (of which he obviously has none), the replicant, holding a concealed pistol, shoots Holden and leaves him for dead (though we later learn that Holden survives). One endures the taunts and provocations as best one can, but sooner or later, everyone reaches his breaking point.

The notion of a replicant’s relationship with his ‘parents’ is symbolically interesting, from a psychoanalytic standpoint. The lack of a mother for Leon is tantamount to what the object relations theorists would call a ‘bad mother’; Roy Batty’s relationship with Eldon Tyrell is also like a son’s relationship with his ‘bad father’–Roy literally calls Tyrell “Father” (or “fucker,” depending on the version) when demanding a longer life…this shows us how much of a ‘bad father’ Tyrell really is.

The bad mother is derived from a part-object, the bad breast, a Kleinian concept that Wilfred Bion developed by saying the lack of a breast for an infant, frustrating the baby by not giving milk, is a bad breast (Bion, Chapter Twelve, pages 34-37). So by extension, Leon’s lack of a mother is a bad mother, causing a traumatic split in the replicant’s mind that Melanie Klein called the paranoid-schizoid position. Leon’s nervousness and agitation indicate the paranoid aspect, his persecutory anxiety; the splitting of people into absolutely good replicants and absolutely bad humans is the schizoid aspect.

For Roy, his begging Tyrell to find a way to lengthen replicants’ lives is an attempt at reparation with his ‘father’; but Tyrell the ‘bad father’ insists that lengthening a replicant’s life is impossible (or, maybe, Tyrell simply doesn’t want to lengthen the replicants’ lives, out of a wish to maintain power over them), so Roy kills him. Reparation with the father is impossible; Roy, like Leon, is doomed to being permanently in the paranoid-schizoid position.

The inability to connect with one’s parents, real or symbolic, as in the case of this movie, is the basis of social alienation, since the relationship with one’s parents, be it good or bad, becomes the blueprint for one’s later relationships with other people throughout life. Now replicants, as symbols of the wage slave global proletariat, experience alienation in a particularly stinging way. Taunting remarks from the Voight-Kampff tests, in particular as to whether one has a mother or not, are especially triggering for a replicant, hence Leon’s violent reaction.

In this connection, recall how Marx compared the bourgeois family with that of the proletariat: “On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among proletarians, and in public prostitution…Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To that crime we [communists] plead guilty.” (Marx, page 52) Note the absence of the family among replicants like Leon, hence his shooting of Holden. Note also Roy’s exploitive ‘father.’

Some buildings in Blade Runner have a pyramidal structure, reminding us of those of the ruling class Pharaohs of Egypt, who had peasants build them through forced labour, or those of the imperialist Aztecs who invaded other Central American civilizations and killed their enemy captives in rites of human sacrifice on the tops of their temples (rather like a blade runner retiring replicants, isn’t it?). Other buildings shoot flames up in the air: these make one think of volcanoes, suggesting the fiery wrath of Mother Earth after all of man’s environmental damage to her.

Indeed, the film replaces Dick’s World War Terminus with the results of a more gradual ecocidal degradation that we’re inflicting on the Earth right now. We see a Coruscant-like cityscape of endless buildings and no nature; the electric animals that are so integral to Dick’s plot are of little more importance in the film than to develop theme.

Instead of being eagerly willing to retire Roy, Pris, et al in the hopes of buying a real animal to enhance his social status (as is the case in the novel), the Deckard in the film is dragged back into a bounty hunter life he wants to leave behind. He’s called a “blade runner,” an expression snatched from The Bladerunner, a novel with no other connection whatsoever with Dick’s, or the film’s, story.

The Tyrell Corporation boasts in its motto that its replicants are “more human than human,” and Deckard finds out just how accurate this motto is when he does the Voight-Kampff test on Rachael, who is assumed to be human. Indeed, when we first see her and watch her respond to Deckard’s questions, her mannerisms and facial expressions seem almost robotic; but after we learn that she’s a replicant, she shows the full range of human emotions and body language.

J.F. Sebastian (played by William Sanderson), who is loosely based on Isidore, isn’t afflicted mentally (actually, Sebastian is a genius), but rather physically: he isn’t allowed to live off-world because he suffers from “Methuselah Syndrome,” which makes him age faster, thus shortening his lifespan and making his predicament comparable to that of the replicants. No wonder Pris (played by Daryl Hannah) says to him, “We need you, Sebastian. You’re our best and only friend.” He is one of the few humans who can truly empathize with her and Roy…and he makes robotic toys, rather like what replicants are! The oppressed would naturally have mutual sympathy, even if they aren’t oppressed in the same way.

Roy: We’ve got a lot in common.

Sebastian: What do you mean?

Roy: Similar problems.

Pris: Accelerated decrepitude.

A major motif in the film is eyes. There’s the closeup eye reflecting the fire-shooting buildings at the beginning; there are Leon‘s and Rachael‘s eyes, with the “Fluctuation of the pupil…” and the “involuntary dilation of the iris,” as Tyrell says of the reaction to Voight-Kampff tests; there’s Hannibal Chew, the Asian eye-designer who is bullied by Leon and Roy; and there’s Roy playing with a pair of fake eyes in Sebastian’s home.

Here’s a relevant question: since replicants’ eyes are artificial, shall we associate that with seeing ‘fake’ things? Or, since replicants are “more human than human,” do their eyes–as ‘fake’ as they may be–see even better and grasp more complete truths than human eyes can? Do the oppressed see reality better than the privileged, though the latter gaslight the former into thinking their ‘fake’ eyes see a ‘fake’ reality?

Hannibal Chew: I just do eyes, ju-, ju-, just eyes… just genetic design, just eyes. You Nexus, huh? I design your eyes.

Batty: Chew, if only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes!

Speaking of gaslighting, one should note the implications of giving replicants implanted memories, thereby tricking them into thinking they’re human, as has been done with Rachael and…Deckard? Giving people a fake past, then denying them the validation of the truth of their memories, is the essence of gaslighting; and as I’ve argued elsewhere, gaslighting has political manifestations as well as those in relationships involving, for example, narcissistic abuse; and abusive interpersonal relationships are the microcosm of the larger, geopolitical forms of abuse and manipulation.

Now, whether or not Deckard is a replicant (i.e., his unicorn dream and Gaff‘s unicorn origami, implying he knows of Deckard’s supposed memory implants) is irrelevant to me, since I see replicants as, to all practical purposes, as human as humans. If they can be more human, replicants can be equally human, too. They’re just told they’re non-human as a part of the oppression they suffer.

These replicant humans are deprived of life (the four-year lifespan), and thus are denied a childhood. They’re denied a decent stock of memories, hence they’re emotionally immature. Some are given false memories as a “cushion” to make it easier to control them (gaslighting). They’re slaves on the off-world colonies, conquests of Earth’s imperialism; and if they try to escape, they’re killed (or, “retired,” to use the human euphemism). Their experiences are denied validity because they don’t have natural, human eyes. Small wonder Deckard would never believe what Roy has seen: what the replicant could teach us, due to his short life, “will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

The empathy of film-Deckard won’t be lost as that of book-Deckard is, though; so instead of sleeping, he runs off with Rachael as a fellow fugitive.

V: Blade Runner 2049

The meaninglessness of the differentiation between human and replicant (or bioengineered human) is made even clearer through a new development: it has been discovered that Rachael has given birth. Now, if Deckard is a replicant–presumably an older model with memory implants and a long lifespan–this means that no human was involved at all with the baby’s conception.

Whether or not Deckard is a replicant, the fact that K (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant blade runner working for Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) is itself established proof of a symbolic class collaboration, given my equation of replicants with the proletariat and oppressed racial minorities.

One of the ways we keep the male proletariat in line is with fantasies of beautiful, submissive, and supportive women, as we can see in K’s purchase of Joi (Ana de Armas), a holographic image of, essentially, the perfect housewife. She’s sweet, loving, and willing to do anything K wants, to please him. That she’s not even a replicant, but rather an ideal image of woman emphasizes how unreal she is; for no woman can (or should ever have to) be so perfectly pleasing to a man. That her name is spelled with an i instead of a y adds to the symbolic unreality of the happiness she provides.

When Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), a female replicant who is a ruthless killer for Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and thus another example of a class collaborator, meets K and asks if he’s satisfied with the company’s product (Joi), we see not only the commodification of the housewife ideal, but also how women under capitalism, provided they’re in the upper echelons, will often strive to maintain the system as it is, just as much as their male counterparts will. Just look at Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Gina Haspel to see my point. Both Luv and Lt. Joshi represent this ugly reality in the film.

Wallace himself is wicked and cruel on a whole different level. As the creator of so many replicants, he seems to have a God complex: he certainly likes to incorporate Biblical concepts in his speech. “And God remembered Rachael, heeded her, and opened her womb,” he quotes from Genesis 30:22 when he meets Deckard.

Wallace covets the newly-discovered ability Rachael had to bear children. A newly-created female replicant stands nude before him in his first scene. Like a newborn baby, the naked woman is as vulnerable and helpless as any member of the possessionless proletariat; he touches her belly and contemplates how he wishes he could make her conceive, while Luv watches with restrained emotion. He stabs the replicant where her reproductive anatomy is…if only it worked; she falls down dead. Luv’s shock is again suppressed, for Wallace’s replicants are totally obedient (class collaboration). He, like Tyrell to his creations, is the bad father, kissing his newborn ‘daughter’ the way the ‘prodigal son’ Roy kissed Tyrell before killing him.

Recall the eye motif from the previous film. Niander Wallace is blind, using cybernetic implants in his neck to interact with various computers and “see” through flying miniature camera units. He’s symbolically blind to the suffering of the oppressed. Do his fake “eyes” make him see a false reality that flatters his megalomania, or do they allow him to see the elite’s privileged version of reality? Again, the distinction between real and artificial is blurred.

K, for the great majority of the film, shows little, if any, emotion. As a good, obedient blade runner working for the system, he lives a soulless existence, as all proletarians are forced to do. Indeed, Lt. Joshi notes that he’s “been getting on fine without…a soul.”

After investigating who Rachael’s child could be, though, he learns that his memory of a small toy horse isn’t synthetic, as they usually are for replicants–those emotional cushions implanted in their brains in order to control them; this particular memory is real, so he comes to believe that he is Rachael’s son. His whole enslaved life has been a lie, regardless of whether he is her son or not, though he realizes this only through imagining he’s her son. He does have a soul, it seems. So finally, he shows emotion, in the form of an explosion: he shouts, “God…damnit!”

The Voight-Kampff test has been replaced by a new one called a “Baseline” test. K is required to recite five lines from a poem from Vladimir Nabokov‘s Pale Fire. The section of the poem that K quotes involves a near-death experience of fictional poet John Shade:

And blood-black nothingness began to spin
A system of cells interlinked within
Cells interlinked within cells interlinked
Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct
Against the dark, a tall white fountain played.

Since the fear of death is a major preoccupation of replicants, it’s significant that K is required to recite what, for him or any replicant, must be quite a triggering passage, and to do so without hesitation or emotion. The repetition of the words cells and interlinked, in the context of the film rather than that of Nabokov’s novel, is noteworthy in how replicants’ lives seem trapped in metaphorical prison cells, and replicants aren’t supposed to be interlinked by any sense of mutual empathy.

As for K, though, he’s realized what cells he and his kind are trapped in, and only by being interlinked in mutual love will they ever be free.

His recitation of the baseline is with mechanical precision the first time; but his next recitation, after coming to believe he’s Rachael’s son, is shaky and hesitant, making him fail the baseline and causing him to be regarded as having gone rogue.

K finds Deckard in an abandoned building that was once a Las Vegas night club. Holographic images of Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and young women dancing in a 1960s style can be seen; like Joi, they represent an idealized older world that has no basis in reality now. Elsewhere, and earlier in the film, a huge holographic image of a Soviet [!] ballet dancer is also seen…another idealization no longer possible in the dystopia of 2049.

Instead, this dystopia shows us the ugly reality of such things as prostitution. Some feminists have criticized the film for presenting women either in this degrading way or as the housewife ideal in Joi; they forget that, as with American Psycho, the intention is not to recommend such portrayals of women, but rather to comment of these ugly realities. The first step in ridding our society of such ugliness is to acknowledge its reality.

In a noteworthy scene, Joi hires one of the prostitutes seen earlier to merge with her as a body that K can have sex with. Two forms of female fantasy are thus combined: the “nice girl”/”bad girl” opposition; also, the ideal and material forms. It should be seen as a sad comment on alienation in a capitalist society, that a woman has to be a man’s fantasy, rather than be herself, to make love with him.

In Deckard’s and Rachael’s case, however, we can see real love, and it has resulted in a child. That people, replicant or not, can connect and have families, is a threat to the dystopia that Lt. Joshi’s police department, on the one hand, is trying to keep ordered and stable, and that Wallace, on the other hand, is trying to profit from and rule over as its ‘God.’

Lieutenant Joshi: The world is built in a wall that separates kind. Tell either side there’s no wall, you’ve bought a war. Or a slaughter.

***********

Niander Wallace: Every leap of civilization was built on the back of a disposable workforce,…but I can only make so many.

Normally, capitalists and the state work together in harmony. In this case, the LAPD’s agenda to have the replicant offspring killed is in contradiction with Wallace’s agenda to find the offspring, then learn how to use replicant reproduction to expand interstellar colonization, symbolically a manifestation of capitalist imperialism. Because of this contradiction, Luv must kill Joshi, though one suspects that Luv, as a replicant, has her own personal reasons to find the replicant child, feelings that are suppressed and just under her surface obedience to Wallace.

Now, the prostitute who was with K and Joi is secretly part of a replicant resistance movement. Their leader, Freysa (Hiam Abbass), hopes K will kill Deckard before he can tell Wallace where…as it turns out…his and Rachael’s daughter is. Though K now knows he isn’t their son, he’s been humanized enough, through all his traumatic experiences, to want to help Deckard reunite with her. It’s the most human thing he can do, after all.

To protect his daughter (Dr. Ana Stelline, played by Carla Juri), Deckard has had to keep away from her all these years, making him a kind of ‘bad father’ through his absence from her life, yet also a good father for sacrificing the relationship to keep her safe. K recognizes the need to prevent Wallace from finding her, for the sake of the coming replicant revolution; but K also realizes that the liberation of the oppressed must come through the establishment of human relationships, to end alienation. Hence his arrangement to have Deckard reunited with Ana.

A system of cells interlinked.

What’s it like to hold your child in your arms? Interlinked.

To be freed from our cells, we must all be…interlinked.

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Orion Publishing Group, London, 1968

Don’t Fear Freedom from Abuse

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

You might ask, Dear Reader, why any victim of emotional abuse would be afraid of being freed from it. Isn’t freedom from the abuse exactly what we victims crave? That freedom is what we want should be a no-brainer.

The sad reality is, however, that the functioning of the mind is far more complex than that of one having a straightforward wish for what’s good for us, or for what’s pleasurable for us. Not to rely too much on Freud, who got a lot more wrong than he got right; but for what it’s worth, in his Beyond the Pleasure Principle, he noted our self-destructive, aggressive tendencies in what he called the death drive (Thanatos) and “the compulsion to repeat” irrational acts, or re-experience distressing moments in the past.

Object relations theorists like Melanie Klein and WRD Fairbairn noted how negative internal representations that we have in our minds of our parents and early caregivers (the “bad mother” and “bad father” internal objects) can be transferred to our later relationships in the form of boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses with similar narcissistic traits to those of our parents. These bad internal objects, residing in our minds like ghosts, become the blueprints for our later relationships, and they are difficult to shake off (see part 5 of this for a deeper explanation).

Making things even more difficult, our wish to find good people in our lives–to replace the bad ones we’ve gone no contact with–can be thwarted by what Fairbairn called the Anti-libidinal Ego/Rejecting Object configuration in our minds. Originally, Fairbairn called this the Internal Saboteur, for that’s exactly what this part of our minds does–it sabotages possible new, good relationships by rejecting people.

For Fairbairn, libidinal need is object-need, that is, a need people have for others to love and have relationships with (the subject=the self; objects=people other than the self); so the anti-libidinal ego is the part of oneself that is hostile towards and rejects objects. We all know how we reject new people from having been hurt so often by earlier ones.

In An Introduction to Object Relations, Lavinia Gomez explains that the “anti-libidinal ego [corresponding roughly with Freud’s superego] is the split-off ego fragment that is bonded with the rejecting object. We can think of it as the ‘anti-wanting I’, the aspect of the self that is contemptuous of neediness. Rejection gives rise to unbearable anger, split off from the central self or ego [corresponding roughly to Freud’s ego] and disowned by it. Fairbairn originally termed this element the ‘internal saboteur’, indicating that in despising rather than acknowledging our neediness, we ensure that we neither seek nor get what we want. The anti-libidinal ego/rejecting object configuration is the cynical, angry self which is too dangerously hostile for us to acknowledge. When it emerges from repression we may experience it as chaotic rage or hatred, sometimes with persecutory guilt.” (Gomez p. 63-64)

Even worse, our relationships with narcissists, past and present, are those of traumatic bonding rather than ones of mutual respect and love. We feel as though we’re glued to these bad kinds of people whether we want to or not, so when we leave a relationship with a narcissist, we often fall back (however unwittingly or unconsciously) into a relationship with either the same one, or get trapped in a new relationship with another.

How do we get out of this vicious circle? Since I find relationships with these people to be overbearingly authoritarian, I find that the ideas Erich Fromm wrote about in his classic 1941 book, Escape From Freedom (also called The Fear of Freedom), to be applicable in relationships involving narcissistic abuse.

In his book, Fromm wrote about the experience of Europeans having been freed from the yoke of authoritarian thinking on two momentous occasions (from medieval-era Catholicism, and Germans from their authoritarian empire a century ago), only to find themselves with feelings of isolation, insignificance, and meaninglessness in their lives. The only way they found themselves able to reestablish a sense of meaning and belonging was to adopt new forms of authoritarianism: respectively, 16th century Lutheran and Calvinistic Protestantism; and for early 20th-century Germans, Nazism.

Fromm writes, [for the Germans] “The authority of the monarchy was undisputed, and by leaning on it and identifying with it the member of the lower middle class acquired a feeling of security and narcissistic pride. Also, the authority of religion and traditional morality was still firmly rooted. The family was still unshaken and a safe refuge in a hostile world. The individual felt that he belonged to a stable social and cultural system in which he had his definite place. His submission and loyalty to existing authorities were a satisfactory solution to his masochistic strivings…What he was lacking in security and aggressiveness as an individual, he was compensated for by the strength of the authorities to whom he submitted himself.

“The postwar period [i.e., 1918 and after] changed this situation considerably…the economic decline of the old middle class went at a faster pace…The defeat in the war and the downfall of the monarchy…on which, psychologically speaking, the petty bourgeois had built his existence, their failure and defeat shattered the basis of his own life. If the Kaiser could be publicly ridiculed,…what could the little man put his trust in? He had identified himself…with all these institutions; now, since they had gone, where was he to go?” (Fromm, pages 211-213)

In abandoning the old authoritarian structures, these Europeans achieved what Fromm called negative freedom, or freedom from an oppressive life; they hadn’t, however, achieved positive freedom, or freedom to reach their true human potential. Without this second kind of freedom, their sense of loneliness, purposelessness, and powerlessness could only lead them back to the comforting, though dysfunctional, structure of a new authoritarianism, namely, Nazism or authoritarian forms of Protestantism.

As for Luther and Calvin, Fromm writes, “Luther’s system, in so far as it differed from the Catholic tradition, has two sides…he gave man independence in religious matters…he deprived the Church of her authority and gave it to the individual; that his concept of faith and salvation is one of subjective individual experience, in which all responsibility is with the individual and none with an authority which could give him what he cannot obtain himself. […]

“The other aspect of modern freedom is the isolation and powerlessness it has brought for the individual, and this aspect has its roots in Protestantism as much as that of independence…Luther’s and Calvin’s doctrines…[have] a negative aspect…: their emphasis on the fundamental evilness and powerlessness of man.” (Fromm, page 74)

Fromm explains further: “Calvin’s theology…exhibits essentially the same spirit as Luther’s, both theologically and psychologically. Although he opposes the authority of the [Catholic] Church and the blind acceptance of its doctrines, religion for him is rooted in the powerlessness of man; self-humiliation and the destruction of human pride are the Leitmotiv of his whole thinking.” […] Calvin himself said, “We are not our own; therefore neither our reason nor our will should predominate in our deliberations and actions. We are not our own…it is the most devastating pestilence which ruins people if they obey themselves…” (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, Chapter 7, 1; quoted in Fromm, pages 84-85)

There’s a kind of sadomasochistic quality to this authoritarian structure (just to be clear here, I’m not talking about the sexual kind found in the BDSM community; rather, I’m talking about the appeal of a dominant/submissive relationship with others, as a simpler, easier one, rather than the ambiguous, more challenging one of equality and mutual respect). In this structure, you know who is ‘above’ you, and who is ‘below’ you; hence, the comforting assurance and belonging felt in this structure. The Protestant God of Luther and Calvin was above the ‘unworthy’ sinners. (Again, I’m not criticizing Protestant Christianity in general here, just the particular, authoritarian form it took when Martin Luther and John Calvin had established their churches back in the 16th century.) Similarly, the Führer was ‘above’ the ‘Aryan‘ German; the Jews, Roma, gay men, and other persecuted groups were ‘below‘ the ‘Aryans.’

To get back to my main point, I believe this kind of authoritarian restructuring can be seen in the replacing of old forms of narcissistic abuse with new forms, either in staying with the abuser, in leaving one abuser only to enter into a new abusive relationship, or through our inner critic‘s continuing of the old abuse in our minds (“the fundamental evilness and powerlessness” that we imagine ourselves to embody, thanks to our abusers’ gaslighting of us), even years after we’ve ended the old relationships and not replaced them with new narcissistic abusers. (Note: I’m not trying to blame the victim here, but rather to explain what I think is happening.)

It’s been noted many times how we victims of emotional abuse keep the haranguing going on in our minds years later. I do this kind of haranguing to myself! There’s a feeling that if I don’t go over these feelings, this endless rumination and re-examining of past events, that I’ll have jumped to premature conclusions and misjudged my family too harshly. The feeling is, why can’t I just put it all behind me and be happy?

I suspect that many other sufferers of narcissistic abuse out there go through similar internal conflicts. Instead of properly processing their trauma and rebuilding their lives through a regular practice of self-care, they go over the same past events to reassure themselves that they’re judging their past relationships correctly (when they so obviously are correct about the abusive relationships, and thus don’t need to re-examine them, except that all their second-guessing perpetuates their doubts).

My point is, are we afraid of being free of the past?

Is our mental state comparable to what was happening after the end of medieval Catholicism, and after the end of the authoritarian German state? Has our traumatic bonding caused us to crave the sense of ‘security’ and ‘belonging’ that comes from the authoritarian rule of our narcissistic abusers?

Are we so used to the sadomasochistic structure, the false assurance, of who’s ‘above’ us (i.e., the narcissistic parents or ex) and who’s ‘below’ us (i.e., the scapegoats…if we’re the golden children or lost children) that we’re afraid of giving up that structure, only to be thrown into a world where we don’t know who we are anymore? Has the trauma of narcissistic abuse drilled a false self so deep into our heads that we can’t conceive of ourselves as having any other self?

Just as Fromm, at the end of his book, suggests positive freedom is the solution to the problem of negative freedom (and its attendant void of meaninglessness, loneliness, and powerlessness), so do I. Positive freedom, or the “freedom to” achieve one’s fullest potential, involves living a life of spontaneity, of solidarity and equality with others in mutual respect and love, with no more rigid sense of people ‘above’ or ‘below’ us. It involves us enjoying life in the moment, a focus on present-mindedness.

Fromm explains: “We have said that negative freedom by itself makes the individual an isolated being, whose relationship with the world is distant and distrustful and whose self is weak and constantly threatened. Spontaneous activity is the one way in which man can overcome the terror of aloneness without sacrificing the integrity of the self; for in the spontaneous realization of the self man unites himself with the world–with man, nature, and himself. Love is the foremost component of such spontaneity; not love as the dissolution of the self in another person, not love as the possession of another person, but love as spontaneous affirmation of others, as the union of the individual with others on the basis of the preservation of the individual self. The dynamic quality of love lies in this very polarity: that it springs from the need of overcoming separateness, that it leads to oneness–and yet that individuality is not eliminated…It affirms the individuality of the self and at the same time it unites the self with man and nature. […]

“In all spontaneous activity the individual embraces the world. Not only does his individual self remain intact; it becomes stronger and more solidified…The inability to act spontaneously, to express what one genuinely feels and thinks, and the resulting necessity to present a pseudo self to others and oneself, are the root of the feeling of inferiority and weakness. […]

“…what matters is the activity as such, the process and not the result…[by focusing only on “the finished product” rather than the process, though,] man misses the only satisfaction that can give him real happiness–the experience of the activity of the present moment–and chases after a phantom that leaves him disappointed as soon as he believes he has caught it–the illusory happiness called [financial] success.

“If the individual realizes his self by spontaneous activity and thus relates himself to the world, he ceases to be an isolated atom; he and the world become part of one structuralized whole; he has his rightful place, and thereby his doubt concerning himself and the meaning of life disappears. This doubt sprang from his separateness and from the thwarting of life; when he can live, neither compulsively nor automatically but spontaneously, the doubt disappears. He is aware of himself as an active and creative individual and recognizes that there is only one meaning of life: the act of living itself.” (Fromm, pages 259-261, his emphasis)

I believe we survivors of emotional abuse can apply these principles in our own lives, incorporating them into all the other things we can use for self-care. Space in this blog post cannot do justice to a full explanation of what Fromm was writing about; so if you find these ideas intriguing but don’t fully understand them, I suggest buying his book and imagining how his ideas can apply to your healing journey.

Note that there is a dialectical relationship between freedom and bondage, as Fromm notes in his analysis of history. The thesis is authoritarian oppression, be it from the Church, the state, or a narcissistic abuser; then, there’s the negation, or freedom from those oppressors. We all too often expect life to have a kind of secure stasis, or a state of familiar fixity. Change frightens us, so a move to freedom from the familiar form of bondage is frightening. Spontaneous living, however, is the resolution of the opposition between freedom and bondage; spontaneity is the sublation of the contradiction, because our individuality/unity creates our own structure, belonging, and meaning.

Instead of settling for the false security of staying in abusive relationships (the troughs of the ocean of life), or fearing a permanent sense of powerlessness, meaninglessness, and loneliness associated with negative freedom (the crests of the ocean of life), we should just ride the waves as they go up and down. There is no fixed, permanent solution in life, but there is a soothing flow to everything. Go with the flow.

Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1941

Present-mindedness

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

One of the methods of coping that sufferers of C-PTSD use is dissociation, a shutting down to block the trauma’s intensity and a mental escaping from the present, stressful moment into a world of fantasy. As an alternative to fight or flight, dissociation is part of freezefawn being used more typically by people-pleasers and golden children.

This dissociation can be in the more advanced form of maladaptive daydreaming, a kind of manic defence escape from what troubles us into fantasy for protracted periods of time. Now, while this escape into fantasy may have served some useful purpose as a way to cope with childhood trauma, when we reach adulthood we can’t allow ourselves to dissociate to the point of it interfering with our lives.

I’ll give an example of a mild form of this problem. I look back on my teen years with regret over my habit, at the time, of daydreaming and excessively fantasizing, hour after hour, about being a great musician. I should have been practicing the guitar for the required hours, gradually overcoming my faults, and perhaps even becoming at least a good musician, instead of being the, at best, mediocre one I am now. The creativity involved in daydreaming isn’t worth much if it isn’t manifested in the real world, demonstrated as a physical thing people can see, hear, read…and admire.

Don’t daydream too much!

That excessive daydreaming was one of a number of things that helped me forget–temporarily–the school bullying and emotionally abusive family of my youth. Once, however, we’ve escaped the traumatizing relationships we were in with toxic people, be they a narcissistic family or ex-boy- or girlfriends, or ex-spouses, we have to learn to wean ourselves away from the bad habit of excessive daydreaming, as well as all the other, more serious problems that ongoing dissociation can cause. We have to train our minds to live in the NOW.

I’ve discussed this issue before, though from different angles. In Putting the Painful Past Behind Us, I devised an auto-hypnosis geared at persuading us to think of our painful pasts as no longer having any relevance in our present lives; if we think of it more as a dream we’ve woken from, it may be easier to forget and to stop ruminating about. In Rumination, I featured a list of reasons why overthinking the past is not only a pointless waste of time, but is also harmful.

Now, instead of stopping overthinking the past, I’m focusing on getting us to be more present-minded, to being mindful for as much of the day as we can. I’d like to try that by having us do another auto-hypnosis.

Start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable, quiet, and relaxing place, with nothing to distract or bother you. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths, in and out, in and out, over and over again. Pay close attention to what is happening in your body.

Sit or lie in a comfortable position.

Imagine yourself standing in a growing, rising pool of water, at first covering your toes and heels, then rising up to the tops of your feet and reaching your ankles. As every part of your body is submerged by this ‘water,’ you feel those submerged body parts tingling, vibrating with relaxation.

This ‘water’ rises up to your calves, knees, upper legs, and thighs. Now, half of your body is submerged in this ‘watery,’ tingling relaxation. It continues up to your waist, belly, and lower back. Your fingers, then hands and lower arms are also submerged.

The ‘water’ rises up to your chest and upper back, as well as your elbows and upper arms, until your shoulders are also submerged, then the water reaches your neck. Finally, your whole head is ‘underwater.’

This whole time, you’ve continued your slow, deep breathing. Now, with each long inhalation and exhalation, count down from ten to one; as each number is passed, feel yourself getting more and more relaxed, so by the time you reach one, then zero, you’re at a maximum state of relaxation.

Now, imagine your nostrils are like the gills of a fish, and breathe in that ‘water’ you’re submerged in. As it enters and permeates your whole body, imagine yourself becoming one with the ‘water.’ This ‘water’ is the infinite ocean that is the entire universe, and like the Hindu notion of Atman‘s union with Brahman, you are now unified with, you’re a drop of water in, that peaceful ocean of everything.

You are a part of the ocean’s waves. You ARE those waves.

Feel the soothing waves of that nirvana-like ocean passing in you, through you, and out of you, for you are that ocean, or at least you’re a tiny but happy part of it. The waves move up and down, slowly, serenely. Focus on the gentle movement of those waves as they flow through you right now. If you get distracted and catch yourself dissociating, that’s OK: just gently but firmly bring yourself back to concentrating on those peaceful waves. Feel them massaging your soul.

Try to stay focused on this three-part state of consciousness: your connection with the oneness all around you, what I like to call the Unity of Space (that Atman = Brahman idea); your focus on the present, the eternal NOW, what I like to call the Unity of Time; and the up and down rolling of those waves, which for me symbolizes the dialectical unity of opposites, the crests being the theses, the troughs the theses’ negations, and the in-between movements up and down being the sublations of the theses/negations, what I like to call the Unity of Action. Everything is one: there is no more fragmentation.

Focus on these Three Unities simultaneously to bring yourself into full consciousness of the present reality within and around you. Such a meditation is excellent practice in concentration, and doing it regularly, every day, over time should help you become more habitually present-minded, since it will discipline your mind to stop drifting off into dissociations. It will also help you to calm your mind, be more peaceful, and feel more connected with the world, less alienated.

The infinite ocean of peace that gives true happiness.

The Unity of Time combines present-mindedness with an instinctive understanding of the eternally cyclical nature of reality, symbolized not only by those undulating waves, but also by the ouroboros, as I’ve discussed elsewhere. I find focusing on the cyclical motion of the waves to be helpful in keeping my mind from wandering from the NOW. Keep your mind on those up-and-down wave movements, and stay in the present.

Now, if you don’t like the meditation/visualization I’ve proposed above, remember that you can develop present-mindedness through the practice of other meditations, such as chanting the mantra Aum; counting slow, deep breaths; or staring at a single object. The basic principle is to do one thing and concentrate only on that thing you’re doing, not allowing your mind to wander.

What matters most is that, in developing your skill at sustaining your present-mindedness, you’ll be ruminating less, agonizing over the past less, feeling more peaceful, and enjoying more of your real life, which is right here in front of you, and which is now and only now.

Hoovering

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

Because of traumatic bonding, we survivors of emotional abuse may find it tempting to believe our abusers when they say they want ‘to connect’ with us again, or to be ‘reconciled’ with us. Nobody wants to lose friends; we all hate to see close relationships disintegrate.

But since the pain outweighs the good we received (or thought we received), we must protect ourselves from any new pain our abusers are planning to inflict on us. At the same time, their manner of communicating with us seems so kind, so patient, so loving.

Have they changed? Have they finally learned from all the mistakes they made in the past? We’d like to think so…oh, how we’d like to think so! After all, though the good that we got from the relationship may have made up a minority of the total experiences in it, that good may have been (or at least may have seemed to be) a rather large minority. A minority, nonetheless, is still a minority, big or small. What can we do to avoid falling into yet another trap?

If that ‘large minority,’ or ‘significant minority,’ of good times really was good, in spite of the clear majority of bad, we might want to think less of the quantity of experiences of good and bad, and think rather of their quality. Were the good experiences of any real importance, or were they just fleeting pleasures? If the latter, their large number (if they actually even were large in number) hardly comes close to compensating for all the pain that the bad experiences caused. If the good times were significant, the bad times all too often outweigh the good times, too. Either way, be careful!

Don’t let ’em suck you back in!

And if those abusers are asking you to get back in touch, you know their sucking you back in is not in your best interests.

I’ll give an example of hoovering I got from my older sister, J., the golden child of the family. She tried emailing me, after the falling-out I had with the family when my late, probably narcissistic mother died (read these posts for the origin story of my troubles with my family, if you’re interested), telling me about possessions of mine still in our mother’s home that I should collect. I didn’t want them. I never even replied to her email. I also blocked her and all our other family members.

Then she tried, several months to a year or so later, to contact me on Facebook. I rejected her message request. When you go No Contact, you must commit to it.

She tried, in her messages (the opening part that I actually saw, for I had no wish whatsoever to read them), to be warm and caring in her tone. I wasn’t buying one word of it. I know her too well. She likes to open her messages to me with such stale, formal language as, “I hope this email finds you well,” implying a lack of genuine, heartfelt emotion. She never was one for the sincerity club.

She would have me believe that the whole family misses me terribly (If so, why have neither of my older brothers–nor anyone else in the family, apart from her and Mom when she was alive–ever tried contacting me, except ever so rarely over the past twenty years I’ve lived in Asia after leaving Canada in 1996?); and they want us to “heal those wounds,” as my aunt described the problem on the phone just before my mom died in hospital. I haven’t contacted them because, frankly, I don’t miss them. Why would I miss emotional abusers?

Don’t be a sucker!

Furthermore, I assure you, Dear Reader: the only ‘healing’ they want is from their own point of view; they couldn’t care less whether I heal or not–I’m expected just to fall in line and do what they want. The ‘healing’ would involve me changing my ‘errant’ ways and apologizing for the hurt I caused them. They wouldn’t need to change, because in their opinion, they never did me any wrong. Their anger towards me is always ‘justified’; mine never is. I’m just an immature, selfish whiner, according to them.

I beg to differ, as I’ve explained at length in all the posts (links above) that I’ve written on the subject; there’s no point in my repeating all of that here. In any case, true reconciliation must involve reciprocity: it’s only fair. I’m prepared to acknowledge things I’ve done to upset them, in recent years as well as those further off in the past; but beyond a mere paying of lip service to their faults, they will only trivialize all that they and Mom did over the years to provoke my wrath. As her flying monkeys, they’re willfully ignorant of what she did, which was an atrocious string of lies and smear campaigns against me and our cousins over the decades.

The point, Dear Reader, is that it will take a lot more than honeyed words from abusive people to be worthy of your trust. It actually doesn’t involve them saying much of anything; it involves them doing those two things they’ll never do–listening to you and validating your feelings.

Always remember that, whenever your abusers pull the old hoovering tactic: it doesn’t matter what their mouths are doing, or what their fingers are doing when they write or type their messages for you to read; it’s what their ears are doing…and what their brains are thinking in secret.

Since we abuse victims have no way of knowing for sure what activity is going on in their ears and brains, our abusers should have a formidable task convincing us if they’re truly contrite. For if they’re faking their regret, their attempt to regain our trust should be an impossible task.

Validation

[NOTE: please read the second and third paragraphs from this post before continuing. Important–don’t skip reading them!]

Of all the aspects of emotional abuse that I suffered from the family–the autism lie, the bullying, the scapegoating, the explosive anger, the triangulation, the smear campaigns–in many ways, the most hurtful of all was the constant invalidation of my feelings and perspective.

This invalidation is especially cruel when one receives it as a child. Crucial psychological development is going on during those years, and telling a kid he’s ‘wrong,’ or he’s ‘making too big a thing’ out of the problems his abusers are causing, subjecting him to victim-blaming, saying his opinion ‘doesn’t count,’ etc. (all of these examples being lines I’ve heard come out of the mouths of my family, by the way), is damaging to his ability to grow self-confidence. Such invalidating, minimizing, and trivializing of one’s feelings and experiences are all forms of gaslighting.

Granted, we all have to deal with the reality of being wrong sometimes, and conflict occurs in even the best of families; but I’m talking about a consistent, systemic negation of the victim’s point of view. The victim is made to feel as though being right about anything is generally beyond his or her reach.

My late mother’s lie, about my supposedly having an autism spectrum disorder, provided the foundation for the apparent incorrectness of my perception of everything. The bullying I endured from my elder siblings, R., F., and J., only reinforced my inability to have a voice; if I tried to stand up for my rights, or challenge any of my siblings, they’d double down on the verbal abuse and physical threats, turning up the volume of their shouting at me–because allowing me to fight back would be a threat to their power over me…and emotional abuse is all about power and control.

If I tried to assert myself to my brother R., he’d say such things as, “You’re full of shit!” or “You misunderstand [Mom], just as you misunderstand everyone…” etc. If I tried the same with my sister J., she’d say, “Don’t get lippy with me!”, “I don’t wanna hear it!”, or “I don’t need to hear your attitude!”; then, she’d hypocritically judge me for not “voicing” my issues with her. If I challenged my brother F., he’d shout, “Who the fuck are you?! Oh, I oughta smack you for saying that!” They never take it as well as they dish it out.

Our mother, of course, defended them almost every time, especially J., her golden child. All of this, of course, reinforced my invalidation. Things had gotten so bad that I found myself with no choice, about three to four years ago, but to go No Contact with them. I’m sure they still blame me, and solely me, for our falling out. These people have no sense of introspection. If they had it, they’d have acknowledged the role they’ve played in this problem years ago…decades ago.

I’m sure, Dear Reader, you’ve dealt with this problem in one form or another, either with family, or in a former relationship; otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. Let’s face it: you’re not going to get any validation from people like that. You’ll have to rely on yourself to get it.

I’ve written other blog posts on how to ‘exorcise,’ if you will, the inner critic we sufferers of C-PTSD have. I also recommend auto-hypnosis, for the deep state of relaxation you get from hypnosis will make your mind more suggestible. And that’s where the validation of affirmations comes in.

Sit or lie down in a relaxing position, close your eyes, take long, slow, deep breaths, and become aware of every inch of your body, starting with your toes and feet, and work your way up, inch by inch, to your head. Feel your body vibrating all over, or–as I like to describe it–feel as if your body is part of an ocean, an infinite ocean of Brahman, with your body and surroundings as all gently flowing waves. No distinction between the outside and your inner Atman: it’s all soothing, peaceful water, everywhere.

Once you’re fully relaxed, begin to imagine good people who love you, an inner guidance system, new internalized good objects, saying these kind words of validation:

“You’re completely normal.”

“You have the same right to be heard as everyone else.”

“You’re a good, decent, caring person.”

“You deserve much better treatment than you’ve been given.”

“You’re smart, capable, and talented.”

“Your feelings matter.”

“You are beautiful, inside and out.”

Feel free to make a list of your own affirmations, if you can think of ones more suitable to your situation. To get the best effect, do this meditation again and again, every night over several weeks. If you don’t like the way I have set it up, try some YouTube videos, self-hypnosis videos with positive affirmations. I like the ones incorporating ASMR.

Whatever you do, I urge you to invalidate your invalidators. Consider the source. Ask yourself, “What the hell do they know, anyway? What makes them think they’re an authority on me, or on anyone?” You don’t have to say these words to your abusers’ faces (indeed, I’d advise against that, actually): leave them to blunder about in their narcissistic delusions. It’s not your job to fix what’s wrong with them.

Instead, invalidate your abusers in your mind. You’re the only one who has to know that they’re the problem, not you.

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-Four

[sexual content]

“Did you read the news in the paper today, Guy?” Thea asked him as she entered the kitchen with the newspaper.  

“What’s up?” he asked after gulping down some orange juice.  

“Ken Maynard and Ricardo Davis had to plead guilty on all the charges against them, including conspiracy to engage in human trafficking,” she said, then sat down across from him at the kitchen table. “Hey, don’t spill your cereal on the floor.” 

“I won’t,” he said, scowling at her never-ending nagging. “So, they’re in jail now?” 

“Yep. They’ve been sentenced.” 

“I still remember all the confessions from the staff, how they were smiling while high on the Creeps drugs. And how they were frowning when they had to confirm those confessions once the drugs had worn off, and once the staff knew that Van Gorder and Bill Shavick had heard the sex slaves confirming it all, and once the authorities saw the video that recorded all of Mark’s criminal intentions.” 

“Yeah, it’s so nice knowing the whole staff of Capitol is now behind bars, and investigations are being made of all the other Capitol branches, uncovering the same criminal scandal with the Creeps.”  

“I’m glad they all got theirs,” Guy said, then shoveled some cereal into his mouth. 

“Check this out,” she said, reading from the newspaper. “The so-called ‘Commodities,’ most of whom have nowhere else to go, were formerly either destitute or from impoverished countries, or from families that had betrayed them by selling them. So the government—which has also purged itself of the corrupt enablers of Capitol and put them in jail—has judged that the appropriate way to compensate the victims for their suffering is to renovate each Capitol building so thoroughly as to make the places unrecognizable for their former use, and make them new homes where the victims will be given free accommodation. Isn’t that amazing?” 

“Yeah,” he said. “And what of Petunia? I guess she’s living there.” 

“Presumably. You gonna go over there and apologize to her?” 

“Apologize?” 

“Yeah, for paying to rape her.” 

“Thea?! What the fuck? Didn’t you already say I was a hero for helping to save all those people? Haven’t I atoned for my bad karma?” 

“Guy, I’m very proud of you for what you helped me do.” 

“That’s funny: I thought you helped me do it.” 

“Yeah, well, anyway, I still think you should go talk to her about what you did in that VIP Room. Making her have sex with you under those circumstances is still rape.” 

He sighed, then left the table, having finished his breakfast. 

Around lunchtime, Guy went over to see Petunia, in her new room, which was all refurbished and given new furniture, including a bed, refrigerator, stove, TV, and sofa. She opened the door, and they stared at each other for a minute before speaking. 

She was in a T-shirt and jeans, as was he. 

“Long time no see,” he said. “How is everything?” 

“Much better, thanks to you and Thea,” Petunia said. “Come in.” 

They sat on the sofa. She looked over at him, but he, frowning, or trying to smile, just stared down at his twitching hands. 

“It really has been a while,” she said. “Too long, really, since you last saw me.” 

“Well,…I saw a little too much of you the last few times.” 

“I don’t mind.” She put her hand on his shoulder. “You know, this room was actually the VIP room we’d fucked in the first time.” 

“Really?” he asked with a guilty smile. 

“Yeah. I kinda like it, actually, except for it being a little small. I feel a little squished in here. Though squished in here is a lot better than squished in those tunnels we tried to escape through.” 

“Yeah, I read about that problem you all had in the paper.” 

“I’m glad I’ll never have to do that again.” 

“I…really feel awful about what I did here, Petunia…” 

“Oh, Guy. It’s OK.” 

“No, it’s not OK. I took advantage of you. I treated you like a whore.” He was gulping back sobs; his eyes were getting wet. “And I always knew…you were better than that.” 

“Mark LeSaffre made me into a whore. Of all the men who paid to have me, you were the one I was happy to satisfy.” 

“But I was no better than they were,” Guy sobbed. 

“Yes, you were. Of course you were. You saved me, Guy. You and Thea saved me, and you saved all the other sex slaves. When you first found me in Capitol, sure I was uncomfortable, under my fake smiling, the smiling those Creeps were making me do, but I was uneasy only because I was worried you thought my slutty smiles were real. But now I’m glad you saw me there, because if you hadn’t, no one would have saved us.” 

“Yeah, I guess. I just wish I hadn’t fucked you.” 

“I don’t mind that. You were better than all the other Johns who had me.” 

“How was I better? In having you, didn’t I rape you?” 

“Not in my opinion,” she said. 

“How so?” he asked. 

“Because of all the guys who had me, you were always the one I wanted to have sex with.” 

“Why me? What’s so appealing about me? I’m a loser.” 

“Guy, you’re a hero. You saved all of us. I’ve been so hot for you, ever since I realized you’d done that.” 

“Well, maybe now, but how was I hot before that happened?” 

“Remember when I was sharing that apartment with Thea, and you used to come over and visit, to talk to her about, well, whatever? I saw you smiling at me, then you’d look away, all shy, whenever I looked back and smiled at you. You were such a cutie…you still are. I was always waiting for you to ask me out. I kinda liked your shyness, though: it was a nice change from all the aggressive guys who always bothered me.” 

“Was I any less aggressive when I screwed you in Capitol?” 

“Yeah, you were just as aggressive then, but that wasn’t the real you, just as me, acting like a happy whore, wasn’t the real me. I was happy to have sex with you, but not to be a slut: because deep down, I like you. I’ve always liked you.” 

“Really? Pretty girls never like me. They like guys with, you know, cars and money and stuff.” 

“Not all girls. I used to be like that, but after my ex slapped me around enough times, I left him in Vancouver, and came all the way over here, to Mississauga, to get away from him, and from my family, who only ever wanted to make me into something they wanted, not the real me.” 

“Why didn’t you get another guy right away? You’re pretty enough.” 

“I was hoping you’d be that guy. You’re sweet enough.” Then she pouted and whined, “But you never asked me out.” She playfully slapped his arm. 

You could have asked me out.” 

“Yeah, I guess I’m a little too traditional for my own good.” 

“So, you liked having sex with me?” 

“How many times do I have to tell you? I guess I have to demonstrate.” She pulled off her shirt. 

“Wait. Uh…” He started getting off the sofa. 

“What’s the problem?” she, now in her pink bra, asked. “You’ve already seen all of me. How is it different now?” She unzipped her pants and pulled them down. 

“I’m sorry. I do wanna do it with you; it’s just that…” 

“What?” She was standing before him in only her bra and panties. 

“Remember when you said, when we fucked in Capitol, it wasn’t the real you, and it wasn’t the real me? That felt…safer.” 

“But underneath the false me, the true me still liked it.” 

She took off her bra. 

“Why did you like it? I mean, with the false me?” 

“Because,” she said, pulling down her panties and kicking them aside, “I knew that, deep down under your false self, the lecher who leered at my body and checked me out, as naked then as I am now, your real self was still there, that sweet, shy boy who used to visit Thea in our old place, who came to visit me as much as to visit her.” 

“Oh, no. I came to see you…much more than to see her. I actually prefer staying away from her. She kind of annoys me. She’s a nag. Seeing my sister, that was just excuses to see you.” 

“Then let’s fuck.” 

“I want to…but I’m scared.” 

“Of what?” 

“That you won’t like me—the real me, I mean, when you know all about the real me.” 

“We’re all scared of that, Guy. But we try to love each other anyway, don’t we? And the more of the real you that I know, the more I’ll love you.” She unzipped his pants. 

He tried to stop her from pulling them down. 

“Why don’t I get to see you? You got to see all of me, and I don’t get to see you? That hardly seems fair.” 

“Yeah, but I look ugly nude. You have a beautiful body.” 

“I don’t believe you’re ugly nude, Guy. And I don’t care if I see physical imperfections. I love you as you are.” 

He finally allowed her to undress him. Both nude, they got on the bed. He lay on top of her, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He pushed his cock against her wet vaginal opening, gently coaxing his way in. She put her arms around him. 

As he slid inside her, she looked up into his eyes; but his eyes were still avoiding hers. She held his face in her hands as he pushed in further, aiming his face straight down at hers, to see her wide-open eyes and mouth. 

He got all the way in, getting a squeal from her. 

Still, as he moved in and out, he wouldn’t look in her eyes. 

“Why…won’t you…look at me?” she asked in panting words. “Oh!” 

“I’m…still ashamed,” he moaned. “I remember…our first time.” 

“I liked it…I like it now…I love you, Guy…You saved me.” 

“Yeah, I did…I saved you all…the past…is over. Ah!” 

“Yes…you’re my hero…I love you.” 

“I love you, too, Petunia. Oh!” 

“This is…the real you, Guy…Ah!” 

“And I’m…making love…to the real…Petunia. Oh!” 

“I’m…almost there! Ah!” She came. 

“Me, too…But without…a condom…” He came. “Oh!” 

“It’s OK,” she said. “The Creeps they gave me…ensured I’d…never get pregnant.” 

“Really?” he panted. 

“Yeah,” she sighed. “And I don’t…wanna have kids, ever. Now, your come in me…That’s a Creep…I’ll gladly take…inside my body.” 

************************** 

They got dressed and went outside. 

Holding hands, they walked on the sidewalk beside the building that had once been Capitol. Now the sign in front said Community. It was a sunny afternoon. 

“It’s so nice to be able to go outside again,” she said, taking in a deep breath of fresh spring air. 

“Yeah,” he said. “It must have been awful being cooped up in there.” 

“Hey!” a woman’s voice called out to them. They looked back at her as she ran up to them. It was Arunny. Sobbing, she threw her arms around Guy. “I just wanted to say…thank you…for saving all of us.” Her tears were soaking his shirt by his left shoulder. 

“Hey, anytime,” he said. Both he and Petunia exchanged hugs with Arunny. 

After letting go of him, she looked deep in his face with her soaking wet eyes. She kept looking at him with those grateful eyes for several more seconds, then turned around while still looking at him. 

“Thank you,” she said again, and ran off in the other direction. 

Now, a tear ran down Guy’s cheek, as well as one down Petunia’s, as they watched Arunny continue running away, back to the Community building.  

They turned around and resumed their walk.  

As they continued walking further and further away from the building, they came by a neighbourhood, and someone’s house, which had a garden in the front. She stopped at it. 

“Oh, yeah,” he said, standing behind her. “I remember that garden you used to take care of back when you were living with Thea.” 

“Yeah,” she said. “Those were happy days. I should try to set up a garden in back of the Community building sometime soon.” 

“And I can visit you there regularly, as I did in Thea’s old apartment.” 

“That’d be nice. It would bring back two pleasant memories.” 

“Two?” 

“Yeah. You seeing me in the old apartment, and you seeing all of me in the VIP room, which is now a much more important person’s room, with you as a visitor.” 

They kissed. 

She looked down at the garden soil. She started at the sight of a few worms crawling out of the dirt.  

It’s OK, it’s OK, she thought; they aren’t glowing.

THE END

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-Three

It was almost 2:00, and Thea was standing at the front door of Capitol. Two young men came to the door. Thea stopped them. 

“Sorry,” she said in her vocal fry. “We’re temporarily closed. Repairs.” 

“What the fuck!” one of them said. 

“Come back at five,” she said. “We re-open then.” 

“Fuckin’ bullshit!” the other man said as they stormed off. 

Thea’s cellphone rang. “Hello?” she said in her normal voice. 

“Is Mark back yet?” Guy asked. 

“No,” she said. “All the staff are in the staff room, though.” 

“Do you think Mark called Ricardo and found out the meeting is fake?” he asked. 

“I don’t know. It’s a chance we have to take. I’m locking the front doors and then coming over to you. Are the green Creeps set?” 

“Yes. Everything’s set. It’s all or nothing. Petunia and all the others are in the sleeping room, about to wake up from their nap.” 

“I’ll be with you in five minutes. Bye.” They hung up. 

Thea went over to the staff room, looking inside and noting all the staff were there.  

Where is Mark? she wondered; He should be here by now. Oh, God, please don’t let Mark suspect anything. That ‘policy changes’ excuse coming out of the blue was an awkward idea. 

He came with his men in the back door, as Thea expected him to. She could hear them approaching in the hall. 

“Cameron?” Mark called out. “Where are you?” 

“By the staff room, Mark,” she said. Shit, she thought; Forgot my man voice again. Then in her vocal fry: “I assume you got my text about the staff meeting.” He nodded with a smirk as he came nearer to her. “Good. Shall we go in?” 

“In a minute, Cameron,” he said with a smile suggesting he knew nothing. “Before we go in, let’s go in this room over here for a second.” Mark opened the door, and he and his men went in. 

“OK,” she rasped, making sure he didn’t see her lock the staff room door behind her. “But Ricardo and Ken will want to start right away. We’ll have to make this quick.” She went in the other room, trying not to shake. 

“Oh, let me worry about Ricardo and Ken,” Mark said, standing by the door. 

Mark closed it when she was right between his men in the room. “Boys, grab her.” 

They took Thea by the arms and held her struggling body on a chair. Mark tossed them a pair of handcuffs, which they put on her, the chain wrapped behind one of the thin poles making up the back of the chair. 

“Mark, what are you doing?” she shouted as she kept struggling, her first two words normal, her last three in vocal fry. 

“Enough with the fake man voice, Thea Cummings,” Mark said, grabbing her fake beard and ripping it off. 

“Oww!” she screamed. “You bastard! You won’t get away with this! The police are coming, with the Minister of…” 

“They’re all on my side, Thea,”  Mark said. “You and ‘Jack’, or Guy Cummings, your kid brother, really, were plotting to take over and expose our business to the very people we pay to stay on our side.” 

“Not all of them can be bought,” she said. “We know…” 

“Did you know we had tech implanted in you while you were screwing—or pretending to screw—Petunia, the girl you’re trying to rescue? We put it in Guy, too. When Petunia was with you, and when his Commodity was with him, they rubbed their fingers in your ears, and tiny Creeps slipped in, fixing tech to your ears, brains, and even eyes. We could then monitor and record everything you see and hear, including your conspiratorial conversations.” 

“You might have stopped me, but my brother has the app to put green Creeps in the staff. He’ll make them confess to the cop we know who’ll help us expose you.” 

His men were using rope they had on them to tie her ankles to the chair legs. 

Mark took out his cellphone and called Guy. 

“Guy Cummings,” he said. “We ripped the fake beard off your sister. You haven’t sent those green Creeps into my staff room yet, have you?” 

“Not yet, but I will if you hurt her,” Guy said. 

“Oh, you were going to do that anyway,” Mark said. “So I’m gonna make this even more difficult for you. If you send out those green Creeps, I’ll sic the yellow ones you helped me program on all the Commodities in the sleeping room.” 

“Go ahead,” Guy said. “I don’t care.” 

“They’ll kill Petunia LeBar, too.” 

Guy paused. 

“I don’t care. Do it. I’m drugging your staff to help me, and the cops are coming now, as we speak.” 

“And I’ll rape your sister. Here, I’ll let her talk to you, so you know my boys and I really have her.” Mark put the phone to her face. 

“Go through with it, Guy,” she said. “Send out the green Creeps. I’m…” Mark undid her pants and pulled them down. “I’ll be brave.” 

Mark chuckled at her pink panties, then began to unbutton her shirt.  

“Do it, Guy!” she shouted. “Don’t worry about me. Don’t let these bastards stop you.” 

Mark took the phone back from her. “Guy,” he said into it, “Three of us, me and my bodyguards, are gonna gang-rape your sister. In fact, to help us get nice and hard, we’re gonna use the orange Creeps on ourselves.” 

 Guy formed an enigmatic smile at that last sentence. 

“She’ll get one up her pussy, too, so she can get nice and wet, like a good little bitch,” Mark said, then slapped Thea hard. 

Ah! You fucking bastard!” she shouted. 

Guy thought, Oh, shit. The orange Creeps in her? Since when did he start using them on the pussy he fucks?  

“Go find him, you two,” Mark told his men, who went out of the room seconds after. “As for me, I’ll keep little Thea here entertained. Normally I like to fuck my bitches raw. It’s the Sadean sadist in me, to put a girl’s pussy in pain. But I’d like you to enjoy this fuck, so it’ll make you feel like a slut, and traumatize you better.” He chuckled. He had her shirt undone all the way down, then he pulled it wide open to see her pink bra. A tight strap went around her to flatten her chest. He removed it. “Gee, they’re rather small to need to be strapped down, Thea.” 

She spat on him. 

He wiped it off his face, then ogled her bra. “So pretty in pink.” 

“Fuck you!” 

“Well actually, it’s gonna be the other way around, but first—“ he dialed his phone—“one thing I have to do.”  

Dino answered his ringing phone as he and Leo approached the stairs. “Yeah, Boss?” 

“Dino, if you see any cops or government people at the front door, take them to Room Five, make them some coffee, and tell them to wait for me. If they aren’t our people, quietly lock them in the room, so they don’t know. If they find out they’re locked in later, the door will be too strong for them to break down.” 

“Will do, Boss,” Dino said, then hung up. He and Leo went downstairs and to the front doors, where Officer Van Gorder and Bill Shavick, the Minister of Justice, were banging on the door. “Thea must’ve locked the door. C’mon, Leo.” 

Dino opened the door. 

“You people are closed?” Bill asked. “I thought you opened at two. That’s what it says on the door.” 

“We have a bit of a situation at the moment,” Dino said. “Why don’t you come with us?” He led Bill and the policewoman into Room Five. “Have a seat. There’s coffee over there. Help yourself. We’ll be right back after we’ve fixed this problem. Just wait.” He and Leo walked out and closed the door. Dino turned his key in the lock with impressive silence, putting his finger to his mouth to ensure that Leo wouldn’t say anything. 

As they hurried off to find Guy, Leo asked, “Why’d you lock them in? They could get us all in trouble.” 

“They could get us in even bigger trouble if they find out what we’re gonna do with Guy and Thea,” Gino said. “I’ll bet ‘Jack’ is in the Regulating Room. Let’s look there first.” They went back up the stairs to the second floor. 

As they went down a hall, around the corner of which was the one leading to the Regulating Room, they heard footsteps. Dino gestured to Leo to stop and wait at the corner for whoever was about to come around. 

Guy had just clicked his phone to make the green Creeps swarm into the staff room. He put his phone in his pocket and went around the corner. 

Leo grabbed him, and Dino punched him hard in the face. Dino then punched him in the gut. Before Guy could shout for help, Leo cupped his hand around Guy’s mouth, and they dragged his struggling body over to the room with Mark and Thea. 

They could all hear the staff screaming and fidgeting as the green Creeps slithered up their faces, and into their ears and noses. Mark wanted to turn the Creeps off, but he needed Guy’s phone to do it, for Guy had changed the access code to control the green Creeps. As much as they wanted to go into the staff room and help the staff, Dino and Leo didn’t dare, for fear of getting green Creeps in themselves. 

Dino and Leo got Guy into the room, where Thea had her panties pulled down to her ankles, and her bra undone to expose her small breasts. They threw Guy against the wall and closed the door. 

“Bill Shavick and some female cop are locked in Room Five, Boss,” Dino said. 

“If they know they’re locked in, we’ll have some explaining to do,” Mark said. “Never mind, at least they’re not gonna hear what’s going on up here. It’s too late to turn off the green Creeps with Guy’s phone, but we can get our revenge on him, by hurting the people he loves.” 

Leo punched Guy as he tried to get up. 

“And this is how I’m going to hurt him,” Mark said, getting out his phone and clicking on his Creeps app. “Good. Guy didn’t change the access code to the yellow or orange Creeps, as he had the green ones. Dino, turn on the TV. I want Guy to watch Petunia and all the other Commodities die, all the ones he’d hoped to save.” Dino turned on the wall-mounted TV in the corner of the room. 

“You’re willing to kill off all your sources of profit?” Guy asked, wiping the blood off his mouth. 

“Thought I was bluffing, eh?” Mark said. “I can replace all of them like that.” Mark snapped his fingers, hardly bothering to look up at the TV. All the Commodities were screaming on the TV as a swarm of yellow Creeps crawled onto their bodies. They frantically tried to wipe them off their arms and legs, but so many more replaced the ones wiped off that self-defence was futile. “I have people all over the world recruiting new Commodities. Families in Africa, India, Cambodia, Latin America…poor families actually sell me their 18-year-old daughters, sometimes sons, too. I pay them well, they kiss their kids goodbye forever.” 

“Exploitative bastard,” Thea said.  

“We’re gonna exploit you in a minute,” Dino said.  

“I’m not so sure, Boss,” Leo said. “She’s awfully hairy. Almost no tits. Ugly body. Who’d wanna fuck that?” 

“Fuck you!” Guy said, fiddling with his phone behind his back while lying on the floor. “I bet your mother is uglier.” 

Leo kicked him in the gut. 

“That’s why we use orange Creeps, Leo,” Mark said. “They give us the help we need when the woman’s body doesn’t inspire a hard-on.” He clicked an app to summon three Creeps. 

“I’ll bet you’re just impotent,” Thea said. 

Mark slapped her. “Boys, untie her legs, un-handcuff her, and lay her on the floor.” 

As they were doing that, Mark looked up at the screen. 

“The screaming stopped,” he said. “They should be burning up inside by now. Wait…what the bloody hell? They’re fucking!” 

Guy grinned. 

On the TV screen, instead of several dozen naked sex slaves writhing and squirming in agony from incendiary tech burning up their internal organs, they were all paired up in a huge orgy. Guy could see Petunia sucking a man’s dick, while another man was fucking her doggie-style. Arunny was sucking Petunia’s left tit while a third man was fucking her doggie-style, too. Since most of the lovers were women, there was a lot of lesbian sex to be seen. 

“What’s the use of a revolution without common copulation?” Guy said, mocking Mark’s incorrect quote of the Marat/Sade. “You must have clicked the wrong icon on your phone for them, Mark. Clicked ‘orange’ instead of ‘yellow’.” He laughed, hoping Mark would believe him.  

Mark looked back at the TV screen. Did I click the wrong icon, in my anger and absent-mindedness? he wondered. I thought I saw yellow Creeps on the TV screen. The room they’re fucking in is dark, so it isn’t easy to see clearly. Were they yellow, or orange? I’m getting sloppy. 

“Well, I’ll just have to hurt you and Thea more directly,” Mark said. Three orange Creeps slithered under the door crack and into the room. Definitely orange, he thought as he saw them crawling nearer. I’ve gotta be more careful. He, Dino, and Leo pulled down their pants and underwear. “We were going to have orange Creeps for you and Thea, but now I think we’ll just fuck you two raw, as we normally like our bitches. Only orange Creeps for us three.” 

Guy breathed an enigmatic sigh of relief at that last sentence. 

The Creeps crawled up the rapists’ legs. Guy smiled. 

“You’re taking those up the ass?” Thea asked, sneering. 

“Why not?” Dino said in a shaky voice, smiling and shivering as the Creep went into his rectum. “We have…kinky…tastes.” 

“Yeah,” Leo moaned. “They feel…good…up the ass. Oh!” 

“Leo’s…bi…by the way,” Mark said, also shaking. “He…likes you, Guy. Ooh!” 

Leo grabbed Guy and got ready to fuck his ass. 

Guy struggled as Leo was undoing his pants, but Leo punched him in the gut. Guy’s pants and underwear were pulled down to his ankles. Leo knelt behind him. 

“We’re gonna…rape you both, then…kill you,” Mark said, shaking as he got on top of Thea, Dino holding her for him. “Then we’ll…kill that cop…and Shavick…in Room Five. Stop squirming!” 

“You can’t kill everyone,” Thea said as she tried to get free of Dino’s grip and get Mark off of her. “Someone will find out and stop you!” 

“I own…the cops…and government. I just…have to know…their price…Wait, this doesn’t feel right…I’m hot inside.” 

“Not the kind of hot you were expecting, eh, Mark?” Guy said, smiling and noting the discomfort in Leo’s face. “Or you, Leo?” 

“I-I’m burning, Boss,” Leo said. “Aah!” He fell on Guy. 

“Me, too,” Dino said. “What’s in these Creeps? Unh!” 

As Mark lay screaming and shaking on top of Thea, who was now more frantically trying to get him and Dino off of her, he was clicking icons on his phone. 

“Remember those yellow and orange Creeps that got mixed up, Mark?” Guy said, finally getting Leo off of him. “I never sent them back to the supplier. I thought you and your thugs here would want to rape a few Commodities today, so I set up those Creeps at the last minute today, so your cellphone app would summon them.” 

“I know,” Mark gasped. “I should’ve…figured it out…when I saw…all the Commodities…fucking on the TV. Ah!” 

“As I said, I was hoping you’d use them earlier,” Guy said. “Before the meeting. Your monthly lunchtime fuck, with a Commodity as raw as we’d have been here now.” 

“I just summoned…all the orange Creeps…to come here,” Mark grunted. “You won’t be ‘raw’…if you know…what I mean. Ah!” He fell to the side, shaking and groaning for a few more seconds before dying. Dino then dropped down dead, falling on top of Thea. She shoved him off.  

“Oh, fuck!” Guy shouted as he looked at the door and heard the familiar screeching. 

An army of orange Creeps was crawling under the door, and straight at Guy and Thea, who were only now pulling their pants up. Before they could do them up, Creeps were already on their thighs, crawling on their bare skin, racing for their anuses and Thea’s vagina. 

“Oh, God! Guy!” Thea screamed. “They’re in me! They move so fast! Aah!” They were crawling up to her face. 

Guy was shaking from two that were already wiggling up his rectum. He raced to get Mark’s phone. 

“Can you…shut them off?” she asked, shaking all over. 

“Yeah,” he said in a tremulous voice. “I even know…how to get…into Mark’s phone.” Guy tried desperately to control his shaking body, and especially his hand, to touch the right numbers on the screen of Mark’s phone to access the app. Guy traced a swastika along the numbers 3-2-5-8-7, then 1-4-5-6-9. 

“How…do you know?” she asked, flailing her arms and legs, keeping her mouth closed tight, while Creeps were nearing her ears and nostrils. 

“I watched him…behind his back,” Guy said, accessing Orange Creeps, then Disable

All the Creeps lost their orange glow, just like Christmas lights being switched off; and they stopped moving, like insects on a farmer’s field sprayed with insecticide. 

Guy’s and Thea’s bodies stopped jerking about. Guy dropped on the floor beside his sister. The immobilized Creeps on their faces and bodies fell off. They lay there for a few minutes, panting, trembling, and waiting for their heart rates to slow down. 

Finally, Thea spoke: “Are the outer coverings of these Creeps going to melt inside us, causing the burning?” 

“No,” Guy said, getting up. “The programming is supposed to make the incendiary content inside melt the outer coating, then burn you. I turned off the program, so we’ll be safe. If the coatings had melted, we’d be feeling it by now.” 

Thea got up, and they both did up their pants. 

“So, to get these things out, we’ll have to shit them out?” she asked as she did up her bra and shirt. 

“Exactly.” 

They looked down at the bodies of Mark, Dino, and Leo. Guy got the key off of Dino. 

“Bastards,” she said, kicking Mark’s corpse. Blood gushed out of his mouth. “Eww. We’d better go get Van Gorder and Shavick.”  

They rushed out of the room, then looked in the door window to the staff room: all the staff were either standing, seated, or lying on the floor, rocking or fidgeting, their eyes agape and staring in a daze. 

“We need to bring Van Gorder and Shavick in there right away,” Guy said, “while the green Creep drug is still at its most potent point, to get them all to confess the truth.” 

“You really think it’ll work?” she asked as they hurried down the hall to the stairs. 

“Yes,” he said as they went down. “Sodium Pentothal is mixed into it; it’s like a truth serum. Besides, when Petunia and the others come down off that aphrodisiac, horny high they’re on, we can get them to confirm the truth about Capitol.” 

“I’m proud of you, Guy,” she said. “You’ve proven what a good guy you are.” They grinned at each other. 

On the first floor now, they could hear banging on a door. They raced over to Room Five, and Guy unlocked the door. 

“Why were we locked in here?” Shavick asked. 

“Because Mark didn’t want you to know that he just tried to kill us,” Guy said. “He ended up killing himself.” 

“I told you he was crooked,” Officer Van Gorder said. 

“C’mon,” Thea said. “Let’s go up to the second floor.” 

They all ran up the stairs and down the hall, much of which had an army of immobile orange Creeps on it, to the staff room. When Van Gorder and Shavick looked through the door window and saw the dazed staff, Guy got out his cellphone, clicked on the app controlling the still-crawling green Creeps that hadn’t yet crawled inside anyone, and turned them off. They lost their glow, and now lay as still and dull in colour as the orange ones in the other room. 

“Luckily, the door to the staff room closes tight enough to seal off any possibility for the Creeps to crawl outside,” Guy said. “Unlike the orange Creeps that were crawling into this other room.” He opened the door, showing the corpses of Mark, Dino, and Leo. 

Van Gorder and Shavick gasped at the sight of the bodies, then winced at their half-nakedness. 

“You said they killed themselves,” the policewoman said. 

“Yeah,” Thea said. “That’s why their pants are down. They let the orange Creeps crawl up their asses.” 

“Why?” Shavick asked. “Why kill themselves like that?” 

“They weren’t trying to kill themselves,” Guy said. “Normally, orange Creeps are for getting the sex slaves ready for sex. These three wanted to get themselves horny—“ 

“So they could rape us,” Thea said. “Then they’d kill us.” 

“Luckily, I had a box of these orange Creeps which had mistakenly been equipped with incendiary content meant for yellow Creeps, and vice versa, as we’ll see in the room where the sex slaves are kept to sleep at night. Mark used these wrong ones on himself and his two bodyguards, and so they killed themselves accidentally.” 

“Sorry,” Shavick said, wincing and shaking his head in confusion. “Orange Creeps? Yellow Creeps? What are you talking about? All these things on the floor?” 

“Yeah,” Guy said. “We’ll explain everything in time.”  

“Let’s go to the sleeping area,” Thea said. “Mark used the wrong yellow Creeps on them, thinking he was going to kill them in revenge for our exposing his criminal business.” They were hurrying over to the sleeping area. “Again, lucky for us, Guy tricked Mark with the switching of the colours,” she continued, as they reached the sleeping area and looked through the door window, “and instead of killing the sex slaves, Mark caused them to do this.” 

“What the hell?” Shavick said as he watched the naked women and men continue their orgy. “It’s like a porno film.” He chuckled; his and Van Gorder’s eyes looked away. 

“Yeah,” Guy said, clicking his cellphone to turn off the yellow Creeps, of which the few still lying on the floor became immobile, no longer glowing. “We’ll have to wait a few hours for them to come down from their horny high. Then they’ll be able to tell you what’s really been going on here.” 

“Do they have any clothes?” Officer Van Gorder asked. 

“Oh, yeah,” Thea said. “There’s a locker room on the far side of the room, where all their clothes are kept. That door in the right corner leads to it.” 

“It’s locked, but I have the key,” Guy said. “When they all come back to normal in a few hours, we’ll go in and get their clothes for them. But for now, let them indulge themselves, I guess.” He chuckled. “They aren’t hurting each other.” 

“It seems to be the best sex they’ve all had in a long time,” Shavick said. All four of them laughed. 

Is my sister Mary in there, in that orgy? Van Gorder wondered as she tried to find her among all the gyrating flesh. I don’t see her anywhere. Oh, well. I’ll try to find her later. 

“In the meantime, let’s all go back to the staff room, and get confessions from the staff,” Guy said as they all started walking back there. “As I told you before, Officer, the green Creeps act as a kind of truth serum, a pacifier that will make them perfectly cooperative. I also want to demonstrate, in the Regulating Room, how we can make them say anything we want. That’s how Mark controlled them.” 

‘Creeps,’ an Erotic Horror Novel, Chapter Twenty-Two

On the 17th, Mark and Guy were in the Regulating Room, Mark watching the video screens of the clients having sex with the Commodities while Guy was entering data into the computer. 

“So, are those new Creeps programmed and ready?” Mark asked. 

“Just about…there,” Guy said as he typed a few keys. “All done.” 

“Good,” Mark said. “I have to go meet with the police commissioner and the Ministry of Labour, give them their thank-you gifts.” He grabbed the handles of two briefcases filled with cash.  

“I’m surprised you’re not having your usual lunchtime fu–,” Guy said, first with a slight frown of disappointment, then remembering he wasn’t supposed to know about what he was about to say. “D-don’t you normally go to F-Fredo’s for lunch around now?” 

“No time today,” Mark said. “Gotta give this cash to our business allies.” 

“Why do you have to go there physically in this electronic day and age?” 

“I could just wire the money to them by computer, I suppose, but I like the personal touch. It reinforces our relationship to give it to them personally, face to face.” 

“It’s sure nice having the government on our side,” Guy said. 

“It is. I really don’t like the government at all, but we can’t get rid of it. I’m a libertarian, at heart.” 

“And a libertine, at hard-on.” Guy chuckled, and Mark’s chuckles followed. 

“I’ve always been pleased with the similarity between the words libertarian and libertine, in sound and meaning. Well, if you can’t beat the state, take it over, I always say. With a business like this one, you have to, in order to survive.” 

And your hypocrisy in that regard doesn’t bother you at all, obviously, Guy thought. 

“I was thrilled when we were able to clinch the legalization of brothels. For me, it was a new sexual revolution, and in my view, the only real revolution. I remember an old play by Peter Weiss, the Marat/Sade, when the Marquis de Sade asks, ‘What’s the use of a revolution without common copulation?’ I don’t remember the exact wording, but the quote was something like that. Anyway, I have to go. Back by 2 PM. Take care of the place for me.” 

“I will, Mark. Bye.” Mark went out the door. “And…everything’s set up.” He got his cellphone and called Thea. “We’re ready.” 

“OK,” Thea said. “Where’s Mark?” 

“He’s off making the payoffs to the cops and the Ministry of Labour,” Guy said. “He says he’ll be back by two.” 

“OK, I’ll send an e-mail to him and all the others to get into the staff room for the meeting at that time,” she said. “But I’m letting Mark know last, so he doesn’t interfere in any way before then. Bye.” She hung up, then began typing the e-mail: 

To all staff, everyone meet in the staff room at 2:00 PM sharp for a general meeting. IMPORTANT. Stop whatever you’re doing at 1:50 and get in there for a conference with Ricardo Davis and Ken Maynard, who have important policy changes that must be discussed in detail. Only Davis and Maynard will be communicating by phone, because they are too busy where they are to be in the staff room. Everyone else must physically be there to ensure a proper relaying of the information. I just received word from Mr. Maynard himself of this. Urgent. Forward this message to any staff not addressed here. 

She sent the e-mail to Mark and every staff member whose name she could remember, while walking through all the halls of Capitol telling everyone and anyone she hadn’t sent the e-mail to about the meeting. 

As Mark was being driven to the police station with his two bodyguards, Dino and Leo, in the back seat, he got a message from a staff member on his phone, saying he’d be a little late for the conference. After reading it, Mark said, “What the fuck? Cameron never told me about Maynard or Davis saying anything about ‘policy changes’. Why am I being told about this all of a sudden? Cameron could have told me about this any time earlier today. I’m not too happy about him doing business behind my back. I’m getting the info directly this time, for a change. I’m calling Ricardo.” 

As he was dialing the number, his driver asked, “What’s the problem, Mark?” 

“Oh, my mixed-up assistant manager, Cameron Thewlis, just sent messages to all my staff about a ‘general meeting’ we’re all supposed to be involved with. We all have to be in the staff room in person, apparently, at 2:00 PM,” Mark said. Ricardo answered his call. “Ricardo? It’s ‘Free Mark’ here. What’s this about a general meeting to make policy changes, and everyone, except you and Ken, has gotta be in the staff room at 2:00 sharp today?” 

“What are you talking about?” Ricardo asked. 

“You don’t know anything about this?” Mark asked. 

“First time I’ve heard about it,” Ricardo said. 

“Never mind. I’ll e-mail Ken and find out what’s going on.”  Mark hung up and sent Ken an e-mail: “Did you tell my assistant manager about a general meeting to be held in my staff room at 2:00 PM today, everyone attending? Urgent: answer ASAP.” 

In two minutes, Mark got a reply. No. What is this all about? 

Mark replied: I smell a rat. Let me investigate. I’ll get back to you. 

“Alright, Cameron,” he mumbled as he set up an app on his phone to monitor ‘Cameron’, using the tech he’d had implanted on Thea and Guy, slipped in their ears by Petunia and Kusiima. “What are you up to?” He found an archived video recording of her chatting with Guy from a week before. He saw video through her eye and heard through her ear. 

“Wait,” Mark said. “That’s a woman’s voice. What happened to Cameron’s gravelly voice?…Oh, of course! It was a disguise! Yeah, come to think of it, I do recall ‘him’ losing that raspy sound and speaking like a girl occasionally. He is a she! Now, who’s this guy—his name is Guy—that she’s talking to?” 

“Cameron Thewlis is a girl, Boss?” Leo asked. 

“Yeah,” Mark said. “Shut up, I wanna hear what they’re saying. This ‘Guy’…looks familiar. His voice sounds familiar…” 

“We’re here, Mark,” the driver said, parking the car in the police station parking lot. 

“I’ll go in in a minute,” Mark said, eyeing the video on his phone with obsessive eyes. “Who the fuck are they?” His ears drank up every word of their conversation, which seemed to be in the living room of their home. 

“…and then we’ll get Petunia out of there,” she said. 

“Petunia?” Mark said. “Petunia…LeBar, the one we renamed Walker? That’s it! ‘Thewlis’ was that woman…what was her name? Cummings! She wanted to prove that Petunia was in Capitol against her will. Guy was that kid, her brother! His voice, his manner, is kind of like…Jack!” 

Mark turned off the video, and switched his phone over to the app for monitoring ‘Jack’. He found an archived video recording monitoring Guy from several days before, seeing what one eye of his saw and one ear of his heard. 

Mark was looking at video of Thea’s face, in the same living room, for Mark recognized its distinctive wallpaper and furniture, green and brown plant and tree motifs on the walls, and polished wooden chairs and tables. Her voice was identical to ‘Cameron’s’ non-gravelly voice. He heard Guy’s voice…the voice of ‘Jack’. 

“How, Thea, will we sync up the use of the green Creeps on the staff in the staff room, with Mark in there, sync that with you calling Officer Van Gorder and the Minister of Justice?” Guy said in the video. 

“Now, I know,” Mark said. “They want me in that room with them, so they won’t set the Creeps loose yet. Let’s hurry up and give the commissioner his money, then get back to Capitol.” 

“But what about the Minister of Labour?” Dino asked. “We have to give him his cut.” 

“Paying him will have to wait for the moment,” Mark said, opening the car door. “Hurry up. Let’s move!” 

Mark and his bodyguards rushed into the police station, his bodyguards even shoving people out of the way as he made a beeline to the commissioner’s office. He didn’t even knock on the door; he just barged in. 

“Excuse me, Doug,” he said. “I’ve got an emergency situation back at work. Here you are.” Mark plopped the suitcase of money on the commissioner’s desk. “Sorry. We’ll talk later. Bye.” 

Officer Van Gorder, who was in the commissioner’s office, looked at Mark with widened eyes as she saw him and his men rush out of the building with the same rudeness as when they’d entered. They got back into the car. 

“Drive!” Mark snapped. The driver started the car.