I am a thinker and a writer, and I study the universe.

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Some thoughts on gender in pen names

Hello all!

It’s been a long time since my last post, and I apologize. But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Most people who know me see me as a woman, a female. But in many times in my life, I have wanted to be a man. Sometimes I look like a man because of the way I dress and do my hair and the fact that my voice is deeper than most women (though both my mother’s and sister’s voices are deeper). There is no rule suggesting that the gender to my pen name has t match my sex. So I will change my name. I have always kept it A. R. Vapor in order to be gender neutral, but some people may know that the full name is Arenelda Rachel Vapor. But it is now Aaron (because sometimes I write Aren for short for the female version) Richard (just because I like the name) Vapor. On second thought–the name will probably change depending on whether I feel like a man or a woman at that moment. I think that gender is a very fluid thing. Sometimes I feel like a woman, and sometimes I feel like a man, and I think that that’s okay, even though I’m supposed to be a good Mormon girl and believe that “gender is an essential characteristic of individuals.” But I don’t think gender is essential, and neither is sex. But either way, I will sign “A. R. Vapor” just to make it easier. Sometimes it’s Arenelda, and sometimes it’s Aaron.

A. R. Vapor

The Paradox of Change and Stagnation

I have been thinking about change and why human beings are afraid of it. I suppose we must be afraid of the unknown, as if it could never turn out well, or as if it would turn out well for a moment before slipping away. It seems to me that we are afraid of both good change and bad change because we often cannot tell whether this change will be a good one. So we often prefer things to stay the same. But then again, we are also afraid of stagnation. We want to be constantly moving forward until there is no longer anything to move forward to. I suppose we are afraid of feeling un-alive, for we often equate being alive to being constantly changing. Indeed, it is often the case that somebody inflicts pain on him/herself just to feel like he or she is alive, often during a period of stagnation, of neither progression nor of retrogression.

This is the paradox: If human beings are afraid of both change and stagnation, what are they not afraid of? How can a human being’s situation ever give satisfaction to the creature when there is no way he or she could be in a state that is neither of change nor of stagnation?

Madness is Reason…

This might be a contradictory sentence, but I have never heard of a more perfect notion of madness than what we find in Foucault’s Madness and Civilization. In the fourth chapter, “Passion and Delirium,” Foucault argues that there is a kind of reason in madness. If a man is actually made of glass, and glass is easily shattered, of course he is going to have to be careful when he touches anything, right? That is a reasonable response. Thus, if a man believes himself to be made of glass, but he actually is not, then the most reasonable thing for him to do is to avoid touching anything that might shatter him. And yet we call him mad, unreasonable, irrational, because he really is not made of glass.

Madness, then, is not altogether in the image, which of itself is neither true nor false, neither reasonable nor mad; nor is it, further, in the reasoning which is mere form, revealing nothing but the indubitable figures of logic. And yet madness is in one and in the other: in a special version or figure of their relationship.

Madness and Civilization, p. 95, Vintage edition

Foucault argues that this relationship between madness and reason is that of a dazzled reason. In the dictionary, to be dazzled is to be blinded because of a sudden bright light. Foucault says that madness and reason both see the same light, but madness does not think it sees that particular light, but only the darkness and the things in its imagination. This is the ultimate difference between madness and reason. Madness is not a lack of reason, nor is reason a lack of madness; but they are one and the same, but respond differently to the same light.

My brother is schizophrenic. At one time, he was obsessed with the notion that to be shy is to be mean. Because he was a very shy guy, he believed that he must be very mean as well. When I ask him why he thought so, he lent me his dictionary that, under the word ‘shy’, led to another word, which led to another word, which led to another word that meant ‘mean.’ There is a definite logic to this. After all, if a synonym of ‘shy’ could lead to a synonym that meant ‘mean,’ that must mean he is mean, right? (I tried explaining to him that some words had different meanings, but I’m not sure if he understood what I said, though he doesn’t think about that anymore anyway.)

But I understand exactly what Foucault is getting at. There is a definite logic to the madman’s madness. If he sees a man that he believes is the Devil, and the man curses him, of course he is going to believe that he is cursed. If he believes that there is a bomb on his person that would explode if he moves, of course he would stop moving and stay as still as he possibly can. What’s scary about this all is that we all believe in things; the trick is to ask yourself if that belief is true or false.

Perhaps we are all mad in some way.

A Demon in the Mind

What if you met someone with whom you became fast friends? You like him, and he likes you. You have great conversations with each other. You learn a lot from each other. And thus, you trust him as a best friend. But what if he turns out to be the devil? Or worse, what if he turns out to be a figment of your imagination? But yet he feels so real to you! You cannot accept that he is not real…until he asks you to kill someone.

Until he asks you to kill your own family whom, though they have disowned you, you love anyway…

This is what happens to Thunam in the new story entitled “A Demon in the Mind.” This is the story of a man, that is trying to make his way in the world, slips into madness, at first resisting it until he finally succumbs to it, killing his own family in the process, which act drags him deeper and deeper into melancholy and delirium.

This is the tale of how a killer is born. Not every killer, of course, but a particular one. He is not a bloodthirsty man that is out for vengeance, nor does he hunger for sexual contact and the pleasure of a body. He is a desperate man who only wants to soothe his inner demons. Although he is doing the bidding of the demon in his mind, he is still fond of this demon because he remembers all of the good times he’s had with him. Within the heart of this killer, you will find humanity, love, desperation, and anger. But you will never find what most would think they would find in a killer: revenge, hatred, pride, bloodthirstiness.

For now, I will get the specifics of the story clear in my head. And then I will write it. Let me know how you would like the story to end:

(a) With the protagonist’s physical death
(b) With the protagonist mental death
(c) With the protagonist beating the demon down, and the demon never haunting him again
(d) With the protagonist being able to control this demon

If you have the heart and the motivation, please let me know which out of the four you think would be a good ending; you could even suggest an alternative ending too!

-A. R. Vapor

Quote of the Post:
“The animality that lends its face to madness in no way stipulates a determinist nature for its phenomenon. On the contrary, it locates madness in an area of unforeseeable freedom where frenzy is unchained.” -Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization p. 76

We can know love by knowing hate (and vice versa)…

Does love exist? I look around and all I see is hate, darkness, despair. Yet if those things exist, then surely love does as well. After all, how can the realization of hate exist if there had not been the realization of love at one point? How can I know what hate is if I had not known love? But then again, perhaps I know neither thing, if I cannot know love without knowing hate first, if I cannot know hate without knowing love first. After all, most say that hate exists so that we can know love, and love exists so that we can know hate.

Perhaps nobody knows hate or love. Perhaps they are mere ideas that we have created. Perhaps neither love nor hate exists. Or if they do, nobody is capable of knowing them.

The Rising Spirit

I’m sorry for not updating on here more often. But I have big news tonight: I just finished my first draft for the first novel of my series, the series I’m going to be using for my senior thesis. The working title was “Becoming God” but has now changed to “The Rising Spirit.” The major premise used to be that God is a writer, but has now changed to the related questions: When do we accept what life has given us and when do we fight against it? Is it ever right to go from being true to oneself to being true to another person? Is it ever wrong?

I began the draft on about July 24th, 2014 and finished it on August 10th, 2014. It has a little over 121,000 words. It spans about four years of the protagonist’s life, from when he is 13 until he is 17. The second book, which might be the main book for my senior thesis, begins about four or five years later, when the protagonist is 21 or 22. I used first person in the first book because I enjoy it more. So I will probably use it again. The first book is mainly a prelude to the series, which will talk about the magic of light-workers, which is a form of magic in which the user creates light to perform the magic, and the magic of reasurism, or the art of making things come to life by creating it through something else, such as writing or art. Perhaps it might be too much to put two different magic systems in the same book. But I’ll figure it all out later.

Becoming God

I began the outline of the book I will write for my senior thesis. The working title is “Becoming God.” I know this title sounds more appropriate for a piece of nonfiction than fiction, but this is a novel. (I am certain that when this is done, the title will have changed.) One of the basic premises for the story is this: we all have the desire to be God, and the way we choose to live our lives is what we believe to be the best path toward that goal. I began this endeavor by pondering fiction and how it is that we can feel such a connection to people that we know are not real. I recently finished all the books that have been written so far about Lukien the Bronze Knight, including, The Eyes of God, The Devil’s Armor, The Sword of Angels, and The Forever Knight, by John Marco. I loved each of them, and I felt all of the characters were so real. This is what good fiction does to us: it makes us believe that it’s all real while we are immersed in its world. But this is also the paradox of fiction: how can we have an emotional connection with fictional entities when we know with all our hearts that none of them is real?

This is exactly what one of the characters asks himself. But he eventually comes to the conclusion that there really is nothing unreal about fictional worlds and characters. They are all real, but in an entirely different ‘possible world.’ And eventually he believes that fictional stories are as real as our world. He argues to himself that the worlds and stories we currently have are all based on fictional stories that God has written. God is the Creator of our world. Thus, if we, as writers, created worlds, then we must also be God. Because this character has an insatiable desire to become God and is unafraid to admit it, he decides to leave everything behind in order to pursue this goal.

This is just one instance of a person emanating what he thinks God is through how he lives his life. There are many others, but there will only be four point of view characters. And yet even this seems like too many for a simple senior thesis. The story has become larger than I had intended, and I may need to split it into two or more books.

Anyhow, I am excited to begin this book. Tomorrow I will meet with one of my instructors about some ideas he had given me through email. And then I will let you all know what happens and when I begin my first draft.