1. Member Since 22nd Sep, 2011
  2. offline for 35m, 55s

Chatoyance


I'm the creator of Otakuworld.com, Jenniverse.com, the computer game Boppin', numerous online comics, novels, and tons of other wonderful things. I really love MLP:FiM.


More Blog Posts72

  • 3w, 6d
    The State Of The Unicorn 2015

    42 comments · 445 views
  • 22w, 21h
    In Hell, There Are No Desks

    I'm typing this from my lap, on a new keyboard I am unused to. Had to get a new one, we couldn't connect my old keyboard - they don't make those ancient connectors anymore, and the cable needed is still in a box. Everything I own is in a box, and will be for the next three to four months at least.

    Hah! How the mighty have fallen, eh? Once I lived in a palatial home, now I have no room of my own. My world, for now, is the far corner of what - in a normal person's house - would likely be the 'living room'. The house is filled with hundreds of boxes, and no way to unpack them. Why? It's a little bit Sokoban, and a little bit 'guess what's in the box' and a little bit 'we are so fucked'.

    Intel got caught with their fingers in the European cookie jar, as you may recall, and they had to pay billions in fines. Worse, they got very complacent and ignored the rise of mobile computing entirely, so the pacific rim ate their lunch with cheap, easily modified, dedicated chips for consumer goods. Desperate to look good to stockholders, they did the usual American Capitalist Trick: fire most of the workers who actually do the work in a way that denies them any benefits or severance of any kind. Suddenly, without employees, they look great on paper!

    The way they did this is to announce that if one wanted to work for Intel any longer, one must move to the region around Portland, Oregon. Naturally, this meant that more that 75% of their employees in the divisions targeted would be screwed, and 'choose' to leave their jobs of their 'own volition', thus making their quitting their 'free choice' and thus ineligible for any benefits of any kind - the slackers! The losers! Stupid peasants with homes and communities and family obligations and relatives and lack of resources to move at the drop of a hat!

    It was evil, but damn clever. Force people to have to quit because moving is not possible for most people. Brilliant. Dirty as hell, of course, but cunning.

    That still left tens of thousands of people flooding into a fairly small region, Hillsboro. It was sheer luck we found an overpriced house at all - there is a huge bubble going on as folks gouge the hell out of the influx of Intel folks. House-flip-a-go-go! Gold rush!

    Bottom line? It is impossible to get a contractor to fix a house or turn a garage into a room. And that is a problem, you see, since the entire plan was to convert the garage into my room. For me to live in. That isn't happening. It's so massive an issue, that the guy that set up our internet? He is part of a small army of folks brought in from Colorado just to hook up internet here in Hillsboro. They're letting him go back to Colorado for a week to see his family, then it's another month of hooking up folks like us... the Intel Invasion. They don't have enough native cable guys here to do the job. Consider that.

    My family is hoping that maybe by October or November, it might be rainy and miserable enough that the contractors here might be unable to work outside - or unwilling to work outside - and it might be possible to get some to do interior work at last, and thus finally build me a room to live in. It's a hope, anyway.

    Until then, I am the empress of cardboard boxes that I can't get into... because there is no place to unpack them. I have six pieces of clothing, my shoes, my computer and monitor, my 360 and PS4, a chair, my toothbrush and the medicines I have to take, one garbage can, and my purse with my ipad in it. This is my world. This is my life. I am slowly going through some of the mis-labled boxes, checking them, resealing them, and writing their contents down (the packing crew did a random job, just insane) to find, well, things. More clothes to wear. Even one game for my PS4 to play. But, it's rough going - the house is chock-a-block with boxes. We were entirely depending on having my room done, so that my stuff could get unpacked, so there would be room to unpack other things. That isn't happening. We also expected that the boxes would be correctly labeled too. Nope.

    If I had thought, even for a moment, that everything would be lies and bullshit, and that it would all turn out to be a clusterfuck... I would have done some things differently.

    So, here is my big lesson to you, in case you have to move:

    Expect that nobody is telling the truth about anything, that everything will be fucked no matter what, and that nothing and no man can be trusted. Prepare accordingly: take enough stuff you need to live normally in the car with you, and don't let said stuff get packed up on the moving truck. Even if you have to make six or ten five hour trips back and forth to do it, do it. Keep what you need close to you. Because it will all go horribly wrong. When it does, you will have all of your necessities with you in your fortress of cardboard boxes, and you will be alright until things eventually become rational again.

    I didn't do the above, so now, for the next many months, I must peer at a monitor stacked on six shelf boards balanced on two incomplete drawer shells and type from my lap.

    Because, in hell, there are no desks.

    Anyway, we are in a new house, there is a lot wrong with it, but it will get fixed in time, and maybe in enough months, I will have a room again. And a surface to type on. (In the mean time, I am experimenting with using boards across my chair arms, tilted boards balanced on the edge of my monitor base, and pillows with boards on them as ways to get that 'desk feeling' back. Something will work, eventually. Surely.)

    When I get used to my new keyboard (this one is USB! Huzzah! I am finally in the new decade!) I will continue with my writing.

    So, for the too-long, didn't read crowd: I am down and (relatively) safe, the move is sort of over, and I am the empress of cardboard boxes, all hail me in my palace of cardboard!

    Lastly, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and kind to me during this fairly awful situation. You are wonderful, and I am grateful for you.

    All hail Cardboardia!

    May your boxes never crush

    A land not unlike Minecraft

    Someday the toilets will flush

    All hail the Empress

    ensconced in cardboard wall

    one day the mythical contractors

    will build her unicorn stall

    All hail Cardboardia!

    who knows what's tucked inside?

    Intel and life and human greed

    will ever take us for a ride!

    When you gaze upon a cardboard box, remember: the empress gazes back at you. (No, she doesn't. She's too busy feeling sorry for herself. The stroppy bint.)

    Yay.

    - Petal Chatoyance

    40 comments · 589 views
  • 24w, 6d
    This week and the next is moving.

    And I am in hell.

    Please, Celestia, CelestA.I. - I want to emigrate to Equestria.

    30 comments · 472 views
  • 26w, 4d
    It looks like we have a house.

    A little update on my life, it looks like we have a house to move to.

    Over the past... however long... we have been negotiating for a home in the Portland area. Hillsborough. We are just about to sign - this weekend, actually - and then we will own a home about six minuted from the Intel campus.

    It will need a little work - in order to provide me with a roughly equivalent 'Uniplex' room - the common place where my family gets together to watch or play, and the place I do everything in - the garage will be turned into a finished room with a proper floor and insulation and nice walls and skylights and suchlike. A replacement Japanese soaking tub will take a little longer, but it is in the plans.

    The house we are getting has some upsides and some downsides. It has enough rooms for a polyamoric family of four, which is good - one thing we have learned about being in a group marriage is that having enough private space is really a vital thing. People need some alone time. So a house for us has to have places where family members can just isolate if they need to. Say to work on something without interruption, or even just to chill out.

    The house is quirky, which is good. It appears to have been several houses, in a way. A house that was built on, then built onto again. The stairs are crazy in it, short stairs mostly, but strange in placement because of the haphazard way the place sort of grew over time. It has a moderate yard in the back, decent for gardening in, and a very nice front yard with a mature cherry tree. Mmm. Cherries.

    On the negative side, it is not very isolated - it is in the middle of Spielbergian Suburbia. It is next to the distant outer yard of a gradeschool, hopefully that will not be too awful. We are not 'kids' people, and we don't like noise and screaming and people breeding all over the place. Also, there is an airport nearby, somewhere. We have no way to know if we are on a flightpath that will be hell to suffer under. I guess... we'll find out.

    I tried packing some of my little, fragile things, and I broke down in tears. It was also hard on my stamina. Ever since my heart attack about a decade ago, my stamina has not been great. I'm going to need help packing, a lot of it, and I'm not sure how that is going to work out yet.

    But... the plan is that in three weeks or so, I will be living in a new house. When the shit hits the fan, it happens fast.

    That is the update, for those that care.

    I will keep working on my novel with dedication, but because of circumstances, I cannot promise, nor hope to always manage a chapter a day. I am sorry. I hate this unfortunate fact. I was really hoping to perform like I used to. But... life. The real world always gets in the way of ponies, and that is why real life is always inferior! :derpytongue2:

    Oh, how I wish that the Bureau Mythos, my own Pony Singularity, or the Optimalverse was real.

    But then, I doubt I am alone in that.

    - Petal Chatoyance, July 25th, 2014

    28 comments · 349 views
  • 28w, 1d
    Error Correction

    16 comments · 306 views
  • 28w, 3d
    Adrift Off Fiddler's Green: a new story is coming!

    We have a lead on a house. If things work out, then we may own a new place to live by the end of the month.

    This has cheered me enough that one day, I woke up, and... I wasn't completely sad. I had some energy. I had just a little joy in me. The bright day wasn't shining with despair anymore. I almost felt happy.

    And what powers my ability to write is feeling joy. Even just a little.

    And that translates to:

    Adrift Off

    Fiddler's Green

    A     C o n v e r s i o n     B u r e a u     S t o r y

                                                                  By Chatoyance

    It's coming. The first chapter is even now going through approval. It's a sort-of follow up to HUMAN In Equestria, and sort of it's own novel. It stars, with permission, a reporter character courtesy of Midnight Shadow. Why? Because while it is trivial to just invent a character, using his newfoal 'Frontpage' from 'Midnight's Tail' makes me feel, just a little bit, like the old days, when I was part of a community of writers all sharing the same mythos in joy and friendship. That sort of feeling is precious.

    A note on HUMAN In Equestria. For months and months, it has sat there, unfinished, a blot on my perfect record of always finishing every story. So, I set out to finish it. That was my initial goal. But... stories have lives of their own. Stories are living things, and what happened was that in doing more chapters of HUMAN, I realized an astonishing thing.

    I had already finished the book perfectly ( just as some readers did, in fact, point out at the time ) and I had failed to notice it. Or believe it. I think I didn't want that particular ride to end, really. But... it is complete. The 'new chapters' proved that to me. The book had a perfect, happy ending, plus an epilogue that tied everything up. It was complete, I was just unwilling to admit it. Silly, stubborn me!

    So, now I had two chapters and no book to put them in.

    That is remedied as of now... or rather, when the new novel is greenlighted and online. Soon, I expect.

    Please look for it. I would love to tell you a story, if I may.

    A story of the deepest secrets of Equestria... like what it actually is, what the princesses (and Discord) truly are, and... the little issue of what happens in my Equestria after ponies... and other creatures... die.

    Because an event, with a little Snow Bunny, from HUMAN In Equestria, needs to be followed up.

    Because stories, have a life, of their own.


    I guess... I'm back!

    - Petal Chatoyance

      July 12, 2014








    34 comments · 799 views
  • 31w, 3d
    The State Of The Unicorn


    First, I want to say that I am sorry to my friends here, who worry for me. I've been very distant and closed-off for some time now, and I still am to a great degree... but maybe that needs to change just a little. My friend Midnight Shadow is courageous enough to talk about himself and his life here, so that is what inspired this blog post.

    I haven't wanted to say anything about my life currently, because of three reasons. One is that I don't want to be seen as a whiner. Another is that I am embarrassed by how messed up I am. And another is just pure and simple depression. Depression is pretty powerful.

    My family has to move. Some of you know that, because you have asked me during times when I had enough inside to respond at all. Moving is hard on anyone.

    For the past eleven years, I have lived in a marvelous, magnificent home. The only house I have ever liked, much less loved, in my life. I was under the belief that it would be the last house I would ever live in - that I could stay here until the day I died. The house is literally one-of-a-kind. It was a show-home for a failed housing development that failed.

    It likely failed because the houses were too nice.

    As I type this, I sit under massive golden beams of wood buttressing my twenty-five-foot high golden plank ceiling. Light streams in from the cathedral windows far, far near the top. In the morning, the light gleams off the solid wood and makes the entire, vast chamber glow with golden light. My room, my 'Uniplex' is thirty-some feet long by twenty wide, and every wall is shelves. I live in a library, only of games and promotional toys (I worked for many years in the software industry) like some game-designing Twilight Sparkle. And that is just my room. On the second floor, up the spiral staircase.

    We got it cheap, originally, because nobody wanted it. It was too weird for normal people. Seriously. Yes, the bathroom in my 'Uniplex' has no door, and just opens into the large gallery I am in. Yes, the walkway beyond my door overlooks the rest of the inside of the house like some catwalk within a mad-scientist's lair. Yes, the spiral staircase is like something out of a science-fiction show. And yes, there are no walls but that are covered solidly in shelves.

    It's perfect. I love it. Our family are readers. Those shelves are filled with the massive book collections of four people - me, and my three spouses.

    I live in a library house.

    And I have to lose it.

    The one thing I have always wanted, my entire life, was a permanent home. I had to move every three to six months, growing up, because of my father. He made maps for the USGS. Supposedly. It's a weird story. Another time. I never got to have friends I didn't lose, I was lonely all the time, it sucked.

    Finally, I have a permanent home, at fifty, and now we have to move. To Oregon.

    I was born in Oregon, and I hate it. Loathe it. Despise the state. Admittedly, I only knew eastern Oregon: desert-y, dry, filled with uneducated, narrow-minded conservative, racist bastards who hate everything I love and admire. Had to deal with it every summer, because my mother owned a house in Baker City. It was the only island of security in my constant moving, and I despised it.

    We're moving to the Portland area, which I am told, is nice. It's supposed to be 'Seattle Light': liberal, educated, tech-savvy, queer positive, ethnically diverse - everything I like. The problem is that we are not alone.

    The reason we have to move is Intel. Intel, the big chip maker (Intel Inside!) made a few stupid moves. They got caught being Microsoft in Europe, buying freedom from competition with payola and ended up fined 1.7 billion dollars. Also, they've somehow managed to overlook how big, universal, monolithic processors for desktop computers aren't the market anymore... and that kinda means they're currently boned. Long story short: they have to get rid of two thirds of their workforce, and they don't want to pay unemployment to anyone.

    The answer? Make everybody who works for them move to Portland... or, well, it's your choice if you want to keep working. Brilliant! Screw everyone legally! America! What a country!

    And it's going well. They expect to lose 70% of their employees, which will look great on the bottom line. All over the country, though, thousands of people are nevertheless moving to Portland. We have to compete with them. All of them. Thousands, streaming into the areas outside of Portland, small areas, the only areas within commute distance of Intel.

    Additionally, Chinese nationals are currently buying up Portland real estate to get their money out of China fast. We lost one house because just such a person came in with a big suitcase full of money and bought the house we were negotiating for - for a 100,000 dollars over the asking price. They took the case. Of money.

    We can't match that kind of bullshit!

    Portland is three hours from where we live. This has to be done.

    We can't find a house we can afford. The prices are insane now. Big housing bubble because of all of this. We can't buy land to build our own house for the same reason. We've been trying since September of last year. The only rental houses are tiny, cramped, piss-pots that we can't fit into without ending up killing each other. But we have no choice. We have to move.

    By this upcoming September. Not much time left.

    Tomorrow, we drive down, yet again, to check out some unlikely properties - some blank lots, formerly farmland, without sewer, water, or power... and two houses, one located near a sawmill, the other on the runway of an airport. That is how desperate things are getting.

    And I sit here, in my dream home, the home I love, the perfect home, which I was promised I could live in for the rest of my life, the home I will lose. Forever.

    In my polyamoric family, I am the center. I am the lynchpin, the hetaera, the earthmother who holds it together. I comfort my spouses, I nurture them, I kiss their boo-boos, I listen to their pain. That's my position. It is where I fit best, and I am glad of it, and it is an honor. I am the uberwife. It is a sacred thing.

    But, it is also a very demanding thing. I am everybody's comfort. But there is no comfort for me. I can't unload, I can't break down, I can't fail, because if I collapse, everything goes to shit. Seriously, it's happened before - once when my mother died. I just fell apart and so did everything else nearly. Only love kept us together. I herd creative, superintelligent, incredibly driven cats for a living, you see. Without a cat herder... well.

    I am vastly well rewarded for an uberwife - don't feel sorry for me on that account. I get all the goodstuff. No complaints there.

    It's just that, when things are really tough on everyone, when everyone is openly talking about how tasty a cup of cyanide would be right about now? It's hard. Normally I manage to repair myself, keep myself functioning. That's part of the reason I am what I am in my family. But when it gets this bad... I'm not doing well right now. That's the fact of it. I am not doing well at all.

    It's been a hard past two years - two of my spouses nearly died from super-resistant bacteria. One from a burrito, the other from a swimming pool, but in both cases, these people I love more than my own life came within hours of dying. One involved blood everywhere, from every orifice. Everywhere. So much blood.

    Don't eat at Taco Time. I mean it. And don't swim at the YWCA.

    Then, of course, there was the matter of the Anti-TCB bastards here, destroying my entire genre, then dividing and conquering my writing community - turning many of those I thought my friends against me to save themselves... and ultimately, breaking me. I come here, to Fimfiction, to find safety, community, relief, and friendship. What a maroon, right? What a fucking idiot, right? Am I right? Love and tolerate. Yeah. Sure.

    So, I am very damaged, yet it is a time when I am most needed. I am failing. I am falling apart. And I can't, because I have a job to do. I need to be there for my family. And I am doing my best, but... I am not doing well. At all.

    The best case scenario, currently, is that we find a house we can stand, somehow, and don't take too much of a financial catastrophe to buy it. If we even can.

    We may end up renting a crappy place and living out of boxes for the one to three years it will take for the bubble to burst. Then maybe we can buy a house.

    We may, if we are very lucky, manage to buy a chunk of unloved, reject farm land, and over time, develop it. Septic tanks and a well. Get power in somehow. Literally buy the farm.

    But whatever happens, it is going to be a move down. Way down. Downscale. And that hurts, real bad, after thirty years of working our asses off to have something decent, finally, after all the suffering and struggle.

    My spouses are hurting really bad about this. They are utterly raw. That's why I have to be there. Mommy Jenny, keeping the family going. It is literally my honor. I am grateful to be such, to such wonderful people.

    But... I am not doing well.

    And that's where I am at, and why I have been so weird lately, so distant, so... unapproachable. It's why I won't skype, or answer emails easily. It's hard just to talk to anyone. It's hard, some days, just to keep breathing. Marvin, from Hitchhiker's is too upbeat for me right now. Bloody party robot.

    Well, I've embarrassed myself enough for one blog. Big shithead whinger I am. Whine, whine, whine. "Oh, all I've worked for these thirty years is all going to be lost forever! Oh poor me!" I know, there is no pity on the internet. Only hate, spite, trolls and loathing. And of course 'First World Problem, Chatoyance, losing your home! Some people don't even have homes! Fuck you! Go live in a car, you misanthropic cunt!' Oh, yeah, I expect that too.

    But not from everyone, and not from you. Not from you, the ones that still bother to read my blog.  

    So, anybody know a brilliant home under 350K in the Portland area within 30 minutes of Intel that could house four people? 3 1/2 bathrooms, maybe some space for gardening, no need for proximity to schools or anything else breeders need? A big, big room to use as an Uniplex? Three bedrooms, two offices, kitchen, garage, and utilities room?

    No?

    Yeah, I know. It's okay. Hey, I'm only fifty-four. I can always just... start over. Even despite my heart condition, I probably still have almost twenty years left.

    Do a lot in twenty years. Yeah. A lot.

    Like I said. I'm not doing well.

    Sorry.

    So, that's the story. Now you know.

    And knowing is half the battle. The other half involves bullets and explosions. And Michael Bay.

    And a goat.

    - Chatoyance, June 21st, 2014

    49 comments · 870 views
  • 39w, 6d
    Animation for Caelum Est Conterrens!

    43 comments · 922 views
  • 69w, 2d
    My Very First Furry Convention!

    41 comments · 1,054 views
  • 71w, 3d
    The Poly Little Pony

    9 comments · 400 views
  • 71w, 5d
    The Other Colors

    45 comments · 612 views
  • 73w, 22h
    Revised Bristol Stool Chart

    19 comments · 591 views
  • 76w, 23h
    Friendship Is Infographics: How smart is CelestA.I. ?

    61 comments · 1,224 views
  • 82w, 1h
    And... I am back!

    49 comments · 1,146 views
  • 82w, 5d
    A New Story Is Coming!

    27 comments · 499 views
  • 87w, 23h
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part four of four.


    The Story Of My Leaving

    By Chatoyance


    You who follow my work here on Fimfiction may be curious about the circumstances of my leaving. I left abruptly, and without explanation. I would like to correct that.

    In short, I left because I felt heartbroken. I had been the focus of organized online and offline harassment and bullying because of my Conversion Bureau stories, but this was not the main reason for my flight from Fimfiction.

    What was the final blow for me was the betrayal of some of those who I considered dear friends and allies, as well as the failure of the Fimfiction management. It was possible to nearly cope with the constant abuse so long as I felt support from those I trusted. But when some of my trusted friends failed to back me up or stand with me in a time of trouble, when some even joined with those who were abusing me, that was simply too much.

    During the worst of the harassment directed against me, I received multiple death threats, countless letters and messages of hatred and insult, constant downvote abuse that rendered my own posts silenced, and in the real world suffered targeted denial of service attacks against my family servers and mailservers, as well as hacking attempts, some successful and quite destructive.

    All of these attacks came with proxy-anonymized messages of hate and insult, directed personally at me, from members of the Anti-Conversion Bureau. They claimed the attacks were specifically because of my Conversion Bureau stories, and the stated goal was to force me to quit writing. It was an organized, orchestrated, ongoing assault that affected my family and myself.

    The abuse began in the March of 2012.

    Until that time, for a full year, I had enjoyed the most joyful and wonderful creative period of my entire fifty-three years of life. Better than my entire software career working for companies like Activision and Electronic Arts, more enjoyable than my second career helping to develop and run one of the first, and most successful games websites at the beginning of the internet. More fun that my third career as a cartoonist. It was the happiest year of my life, in terms of creative expression.

    I needed such a happy creative outlet because it was also a year of fear and near tragedy. Two of my spouses nearly died from terrible infections, one lost her esophagus from food poisoning, another nearly perished from a seemingly unstoppable kidney infection. Only last-resort antibiotics barely saved their lives. The single thing that kept me going during this nightmare was writing my stories. There were times the only bright thing in my life was the camaraderie of my fellow Conversion Bureau authors, and the support of my fully engaged readers. That kept me afloat, and able to help my spouses.

    While this year of online joy and real-world horror went on, a group of young men on a wargaming forum called ‘forums.spacebattles.com’ decided they were deeply upset that anyone was writing about the Conversion Bureau universe. They seemed to feel that the mere existence this fiction somehow threatened their own beloved fantasies of power-suited supermen killing aliens in bloody, nightmarish wars. They ranted and raved about how anyone could write stories where humans would willingly become aliens, rather than kill aliens.

    This caused so much trouble that they were asked by their own community to leave.

    So it was that in March of 2012 this same small group of wargamers joined Fimfiction and immediately began attacking the Conversion Bureau authors. Naturally they attacked the most prolific author preferentially, and that author was me.

    In short order they attracted a following (the internet loves a gang-up), pulling in people from many other places on the internet and worked to create what amounted to a hate group - the Anti-Conversion Bureau Group (now renamed as the ‘Alternative Conversion Bureau’ as an escape from censure by the moderators). The attacks increased as inflaming posts and angry diatribes encouraged collective violence against the authors of the Bureau stories, and very specifically me. It was calculated online terrorism, and it naturally just got worse and worse.

    I, having no concept of the scale of the attack, did my best to ask those that persecuted me to stop. I suggested that if they did not like my stories, that there were thousands of other stories to turn to. I begged them to simply not read my work.

    But they were not there to read pony stories. These bullies were very clear - they had come purely to silence all of the Conversion Bureau authors, destroy the Bureau genre itself, and - because I was prolific, to especially silence me. The reason for the attack? They did not personally approve of such stories, and since they did not approve, such stories should not exist for anyone.

    They were wargamers. The campaign they launched was carefully architected and carried out, and in the end caused many authors to abandon Fimfiction, including myself.

    I begged the moderators to help. I begged the site owner, Knighty, to help. I provided concrete proof of the abuse directed towards me. A weak, ineffective effort was made to deal with the most egregious of the growing group of bullies, but in the end, nothing real came of it. There was no follow-through whatsoever.

    Evil, true evil, is always a matter of institutionalization. For harassment and abuse to exist, those with power and authority must turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. Through failure to actively protect those within their care, authority offers tacit approval of abuse. Through thoughtless coding of features, programmers make abuse easy, and thus unintentionally encouraged.

    Despite clear examples of blatant abuse and real-world attacks, the moderators failed to confront and stop the abuse, and ultimately Knighty - who barely made a token effort to deal with the bullies and their hate group - failed everyone.

    But the final blow came when many of those I considered my friends - those who I had shared my glorious year of joyful creative fellowship with - either silently ignored the ongoing attacks, or blatantly caved in and chose submission to the abusers, rather than to work together to oppose them. By then, I had become essentially the sole focus of attacks, yet only a handful of people stood by me.

    You only know the true character of a friend by what they actually bother to do when you are under attack.

    Management would not help. Many of my former friends on Fimfiction remained uselessly silent or joined the bullies. Eventually several of those who had courageously stood with me became so hurt that they simply had to leave - in disgust, in grief, in sadness.

    Then I too, seeing their wisdom, also left.

    No truly sane or decent person ever abuses or harasses another person.

    That so many people were driven to gang up to destroy a genre of fiction and the authors that wrote it is not a sane, or a decent, or a kind, or a good thing. It is worse that Knighty and the moderators of Fimfiction effectively stood by and let it happen. All evil requires is that good men do nothing, or in this case, little.

    In the aftermath, the leaders of the original attack have consolidated their victory. They have begun a widespread effort to delete the bulk of their own vicious and threatening postings from Fimfiction, and the scars left behind by this mass deletion are easy to see. Only the responses to these vile and sometimes frightening attacks remain, ghostly quotations merely hinting at the truly terrible threats and slander now purposefully deleted.

    The victors write the history books, and an effort is ongoing to make the creative authors of the Conversion Bureau out to be the aggressors - especially me. That this is ludicrous should be obvious with even the simplest thought about it. The very notion that a creative person, busy writing stories to an appreciative audience, could somehow magically force dozens of people to join a website so that they could then be attacked is utterly insane. That a happy, content author with many fans has any reason to cause trouble to anyone is beyond credibility.

    That one little author of pony stories could be the aggressor against over four-hundred members of a group dedicated to eliminating that author and her choice of genre? It beggars the imagination. Yet this is their Big Lie.

    It is always the behavior of bullies that they paint their victims as deserving harassment, and ultimately being to blame for their own abuse. Apparently, I dressed provocatively.

    It is beyond silly, of course, but this is the story that is being crafted, and the bigger the lie, and the more often it is repeated, the more people will believe it. Already, some people on Fimfiction are actually falling for this ridiculous revisionism, simply because it is all they hear, it is not being challenged - as it should be - and it is not something that is being thought about at all.

    No person should ever be harassed, or bullied or attacked online. Abuse and harassment should be challenged at every appearance, friends should stand together to oppose harassment, and all should demand that the management of a website aggressively and universally protect and defend its users from abuse - both by action in the moment, and by website design that eliminates the abuse of tools that permit harassment, and the provision of working tools for users to protect themselves.

    I was terribly harassed, yet only a few true souls tried to defend me. The management failed me utterly at every level, and the structure of the site itself is easily abused to cause harm.

    This is why I left Fimfiction.

      

    Petal Chatoyance, 2013

    (Jennifer Diane Reitz)


    The Complete Abuse On Fimfiction Blog Series

    Quick Links to previous parts

    Part One: Abuse, why, how and how to cope

    Part Two: My letter To Knighty

    Part Three: What you can do to help things


    86 comments · 2,745 views
  • 87w, 1d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part three of four.


    What You Can Do To Make Fimfiction A Safer Place

    By Chatoyance

    You’ve now read about the story of my departure from Fimfiction, how and why bullying was possible here, and the letter I sent Knighty to explain how he can protect you from what happened to me.

    It isn’t safe here, I am not a special snowflake, and what happened to me can absolutely also happen to you. You may be next. If not you, then someone you care about here. That should not happen, it is wrong.

    So, what can you do to protect yourselves?

    The emotional self-protection advice within the Online Abuse article is helpful I believe, but to make Fimfiction a decent, safe place to write in, Fimfiction itself needs to change. The changes are simple, easy, and only require that Knighty and the moderators choose to bother with them.

    At least some - preferably all - of the items listed below need to be implemented for your protection, and only a strong and unyielding demand from the user base can hope to have this happen. If you want some tiny degree of protection from harassment, you need to make sure Knighty and the mods hear this need loudly, clearly, and unceasingly until something is done. It seems clear that no one person can convince Knighty that the need for basic user protections is both important and needful. Some or all of the following - or something equally powerful - desperately needs to be applied to Fimfiction:  


    First, all tools and components that can be easily used to cause abuse to others, or which create an atmosphere of contention and conflict must be eliminated. Primary among these is the comment erasing, easily abused downvote button - it is unnecessary, contrary to the spirit of pony fiction, and automatically pits users against each other. If there must be a way to vote on a story, all that is required is an upvote. Say something nice, or say nothing at all.

    The worst abuse an upvote alone is capable of is slightly inflated popularity, and that, really, hurts nobody.


    Secondly, the blocks on others made by a user should automatically carry over when they create a group. The user blocking choices of the founder of a group should also determine who may belong or not, and if they have blocked someone, that choice should inform the groups they create. This permits the existence of safe spaces. Deletion of comments within a group should be fixed, it currently does not work at all much of the time.


    Thirdly, some proof of identity should be demanded by Fimfiction with each account to prevent the endless creation of sock-puppet accounts for purposes of abuse and harassment. The identity of users does not need to be open to the public, and should not be open to the public - but it should be clearly understood that those in charge of Fimfiction know who the users are, and that users will be held accountable for their actions on the site.  


    Lastly, the moderators should proactively and robustly enforce anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy, that policy should be clearly stated with clear rules and definitions, and those seen to be harassing others should be severely dealt with. Additionally, groups formed solely for the purpose of harassment and hate should not be tolerated to exist at all. When found, they, and all members of such groups, should be promptly and severely dealt with.


    In short, a standard and functional anti-harassment policy should be completely followed through with, and harassment of any kind should not be tolerated in the least.


    How do we make this happen?

    The only way to make these changes happen is to convince Graeme Pollard, ‘Knighty’, the creator/programmer of Fimfiction to take real and useful action with regard to them.

    This means you need to write to him, and explain that you want these safety measure to be implemented, that reducing bullying matters to you, and that there is a problem here, and it needs to be solved.


    Write to Graeme (Knighty) at:

    knight33@gmail.com

    or PM him from his user page, or post directly on his user page, here:

    [url=http://www.fimfiction.net/user/knighty]http://www.fimfiction.net/user/knighty[/url]


    What else can you do?

    Never tolerate bullying or harassment. Report it and demand a response when you see it - even if it is not directed at you. Especially if it is not directed at you - protect your community, protect your friends.

    If someone is being bullied and harassed, stand by them. Support them. Defend them. Remain loyal and true to anyone being attacked, and always stand united against every bully. If you side with those who commit harassment or encourage harassment, then you are just the same. You are a bully too. Always protect and defend those who are being hurt. Demand protection - and results - from management when harassment happens to anyone.

    Always remember that there is no excuse for bullying. Bullying is not ‘free speech’, it is not ‘criticism’ it is not ‘teaching’ it is not ‘calling someone on their bullcrap’ - it is an assault, it is wrong, and there is no excuse for it. If a post is not kind, if a post is not civil, then do not tolerate it. Shut down any attempt to put forward the notion that abuse is ever justified by any reason whatsoever. If it cannot be said kindly, then it should not be said. Incivility is abuse. You create the culture you live in by what level of behavior you tolerate. Bullies must not be tolerated.

    If someone bullies you, do not respond. Block, delete and report. A bully is beneath you, they are not worth your time or feeling.

    It is easy to spot any bully - if they are trying to silence someone, frighten someone, or make someone feel bad about themselves or their creative work, they are a bully. There is no excuse for behaving like that. Creativity should be encouraged, and if a comment makes you feel bad about yourself or your work, then that comment is bad. Real teaching is kind and helpful, real criticism is kind and helpful, and it is absolutely possible to discuss any subject in a supportive, kind way.

    If things are not civil, if they are not polite, if they are not kind, you are under attack.

    Demand a safe, civil environment!


    NEXT TIME:

    The Story Of My Leaving - the conclusion of this series.

    65 comments · 1,460 views
  • 87w, 2d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part two of four.


    My Letter to Graeme Pollard(Knighty)

    email: knight33@gmail.com

    _____________________________________________________________________


    Hello, Graeme!

    I’m Jennifer Reitz, (Chatoyance on Fimfiction) and I wanted to write to you about programming with regard to Fimfiction. You probably know me as the writer who was harassed into leaving. Rather than being angry, I'd like to help the situation as it stands.

    In the 80’s, before I founded my own little software company - Accursed Toys, Inc. - I worked for many companies. There was a saying at the time among designers, like myself, and programmers too, that ‘The Interface IS The Game’. This is fairly common sense - the entire possibility set which a user has available to them in any program is circumscribed by the interface they use.

    But interface is far more than a set of command options. Interface defines and creates user experience, and in a social context, as with a social website, interface directly shapes user culture.


    Humans Can Be Programmed

    Human behavior is programmed and shaped in countless deliberate ways, and any given culture - from that of the men of a military boot camp to the tone and attitude of a classroom - is, optimally, deliberately shaped and created to serve a defined goal. When social behavior is not shaped and defined, people become confused about what is expected of them, they often fall to a lowest common denominator of behavior, and chaos ultimately ensues. Social environments can be programmed through the choices of those creating them.

    Fimfiction is a social environment.


    Options Are A Form Of Communication

    In any computer game, the tone, emotion, and feeling of the work are defined not just by the graphics or the music or the characters, such human matters are also created by the possibility set available to the player. In any situation, be it physical interaction or online interaction, mood and feeling are likewise defined by the chosen set of allowed actions.


    The Three Choices

    In any program, game or website, everything that matters to the user ultimately reduces to choice. From an emotional standpoint, there are three types of choices: Antagonistic, Amicable, and Neutral.

    A Neutral choice is purely functional. Selecting a font, choosing to save or load, these choices are tools and carry no social power in and of themselves.

    An Antagonistic choice is one where the user is pitted in some fashion against another user, or a perceived opponent real or computer controlled. Antagonistic choices generate conflict, upset, and drama, but also excitement. Antagonistic choices promote tribalism, infighting, and a social contract of warfare.

    An Amicable choice is one where the user cooperates with other users or adds to a growing body of mutual choices. Amicable choices promote fellowship, civility, and a social contract of mutuality.


    Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

    The use of tools to express opinion within a social space is useful and common, but how such tools are implemented has a tremendous effect upon the emotional character of such a space.

    The use of a ‘Thumb Up To Approve, Thumb Down To Disapprove’ option instantly introduces conflict. It is an Antagonistic choice set. Users comprehend the tone of their online social environment through the possibility set provided them. Websites that wish to generate conflict and drama provide means by which users can polarize themselves into opposing tribes and groups. Fighting and turmoil is a natural result as these means are utilized. For a website about Klingon Fandom within Star Trek, for example, the use of an ‘Up Dagger’ and a ‘Down Dagger’ would be expected. Klingons are warriors, and opposition is their nature.


    Friendship Is Choices

    For a website defined by values of cooperation, tolerance, and compassion, conflict choices would generate a culture at odds to the subject matter. The options provided to a user within a program define their experience, more than this, the available set of options defines mood, tone and the emotional feeling of the user.

    In the case of Fimfiction, the choice to provide both ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down’ is an antagonistic choice set. It communicates opposition and encourages dispute and discordance, conflict and tribalism. It is in opposition to the milieu of My Little Pony. That it can also be abused to entirely erase the posts of users only enhances this effect. The result is bullying and social warfare.

    By constraining the possibility set to limit user actions to only those things that are desired or which are appropriate to the subject matter, online culture is defined and reinforced.

    Eliminating all oppositional choices creates a shared culture. It is a form of communication, of programming, which instinctively defines to the user what is expected by what is possible.

    Eliminating any such choice as ‘Thumbs Down’ would go far towards silently, elegantly shaping the user culture of Fimfiction. Leaving only ‘Thumbs Up’ allows expression of opinion, but places the emphasis entirely on positive, shared, cooperative attitudes. The user can chose to go out of their way to show support - ‘say something nice’ - or refrain from support - ‘or don’t say anything at all’. This unconsciously promotes civil behavior without having to say a single word.

    The single worst possible abuse that could be made of a purely ‘Thumbs Up’ system would be that a group of dedicated superfans might over-praise a given work. This is not any kind of problem, and if anything, encourages users to behave in ways that garner positive feelings.


    Covering The Socket-Outlets

    Every option, tool, or selection offered to a user should be considered through the filter of “How could a truly vicious person abuse this?” While only a small percentage of people are likely to abuse a given system to hurt others or to cause trouble, the damage a single determined user can do to even a large social group is great. Essentially, the interface to any program, especially software designed to create a social environment, requires child-proofing.

    While some web sites thrive on interpersonal and group conflict - such as the defunct Portal Of Evil, or Encyclopedia Dramatica and 4-chan - their membership is limited to a small subset of possible online users.

    Fimfiction appeals to a much larger potential audience, one that includes the very young to the very old. If a large participation is desired, all design should optimally exist to reduce conflict, encourage civility and mutuality, and generate emotions of welcoming and safety. This is the tack taken by successful commercial websites, such as those owned by Disney, Nintendo and others. A safe, civil environment provides the greatest possibility of a maximal audience.


    No Room For Hate

    When I, and many others, were singled out for harassment because of our participation on Fimfiction, it was a very traumatic experience. Many highly productive writers dedicated to helping and supporting other writers have fled entirely, myself included. Initially, I will honestly say that I desired nothing less than bloody retribution. Such feelings are precisely what are not useful or optimal for a My Little Pony website to generate. There are ways to prevent such harassment before it begins, through website design alone, such as shown in the ‘Thumbs Up’ example.

    But sometimes it is absolutely necessary to impose culture, and in doing so, the best model is one of effective parenting.

    An effective parent sets rules and boundaries, clearly states the consequences of breaking those rules and boundaries, and then fully and completely follows through with imposing those consequences should the rules be broken.

    The single greatest failure a parent or leader can make is to fail to follow through completely when imposing consequences. At best the parent or leader is seen as weak and ineffective, at worst they are seen as complicit in the breaking of the rules by all concerned, especially those actually breaking the rules themselves.

    Human beings (of any age) operate under a base assumption that whatever is not forbidden is allowed. If someone in charge is ignores violations, then the assumption is that permission has been tacitly given.

    This happened with regard to the contentious Anti-TCB hate group. When it was deleted, it was immediately restored, the members believing that the entire deletion had been a software glitch or accident.

    If a leader or parent figure weakly imposes consequences, then they are perceived as weak and easily manipulated, or they are seen as tacitly supporting those they are dealing with.

    This also is true with regard to the Anti-TCB group (now the Alternative TCB Group), who express, openly, just these thoughts. The rule was not harass others, and they now conform to appearing to not openly harass anyone. This is not the same as ceasing destructive behavior. Since no real consequence came of their actions, and since nothing was clearly defined or said with regard to their actions, their reasonable assumption is that they can get away with anything so long as it is not overt.

    I should note that I, and others, are still being harassed even after leaving entirely.

    When faced with clearly destructive, antagonistic behavior within a social environment, it is necessary to reiterate a clear and firm statement of policy followed by fully followed through consequences. This is the only way to establish order, which is why it is the established methodology of human history. Partial efforts, weak warnings and failing to deal with a problem only leads to endless troubles in the long term.

    This can be seen most clearly in children raised by ineffective parents.


    You Are The Parent, You Are The Programmer

    You own Fimfiction. You are seen, rightfully, as the leader, the authority, the parent, who defines the rules and tone of the website. This is true whether or not you desire such responsibility, because primates naturally desire an authority figure - a grayback - to establish order. Your behaviors and actions towards your users are a form of programming. Even as you program the code of the website, your communication with your users programs the society your website collects. You program your user base through what you say and do, and how you construct your interface. Neither side can be neglected, or all falls into some degree of malfunction.

    Parenting is simply hacking children into proper social function. To run a social environment - such as a forum website - optimally, it is required that you act the role expected of you, which is that of a leader, a grayback, a parent. Your users are your children, and your actions and pronouncements - or lack thereof - determine what they become.

    I encourage you to think carefully about what kind of social environment you actually want to create with regard to Fimfiction. Do you want a contentious society filled with grief and harassment, a place where users - especially the young, the vulnerable, the creative and sensitive - feel unwelcome, endangered or threatened?

    Do you want Fimfiction to be a place where the greatest number of people, of all ages and temperaments, gather to celebrate My Little Pony with creativity and mutual support?

    You have the power to construct, to program, either possibility, and in fact you are already doing so. Your every choice and action - or inaction - accomplishes precisely this.

    My experience of Fimfiction, as well as the experience of many others, is that Fimfiction is increasingly becoming a typical internet place of abuse and harassment. This is inevitable, as any website grows in population, unless strong and considered action is taken to deliberately shape the culture as it develops.

    One tool is through the options presented to the user - what they can and cannot do, and how any given tool or gadget can be abused, or how abuse is prevented, or made irrelevant.

    Another tool is by treating the users as your own and parenting them effectively, making what is permissible clear, and what is not allowed even more clear, and then following robustly and implacably through with any corrective action. No second chances, no wheedling out of anything, no weakness.

    To respond correctively to a breach of law is to keep a promise - to fail to do so is to have one’s words and authority forever considered questionable. Failing to follow through is how parents lose control of their children, and how children go bad.

    it is also how social websites become nightmare places of abuse and incivility that push users away.


    Conclusion

    Thank you for listening to me, for hearing me out.

    During my time on Fimfiction, I had one of the best years of my entire life. For a single year, I felt part of a supportive, intelligent, clever group of writers all sharing a mythos in common. I wrote some 800,000 words, possibly some of the best writing of my life. The experience of camaraderie and shared creativity got me through some terrible real-life events: Two of my spouses (I live in a polyamory, or group marriage) nearly died, the victims of MRSA and foodborne infections. They survived, barely, but the trauma of these horrific events brought me desperately low. Only writing my Conversion Bureau stories, and feeling part of the Fimfiction community kept me able to function during that time.

    When the Anti-TCB began its attacks upon me, my family, and our servers and property, it destroyed for me the single greatest emotional escape and support I had in my life outside of my own endangered family. I miss writing for my Fimfiction fans more than I can adequately express. But as long as Fimfiction remains combative and hate groups remain, I feel excluded and forced away.

    I know I am not alone in that feeling.

    I am told that you care about such matters as these, but simply are unsure what to do about them. My wish, in writing this to you, is to offer some idea of effective strategies you can use to make Fimfiction a safe and inclusive place with no room for hate within it. I would find it difficult to imagine that you would wish it to be a place of anger and abuse.

    I believe there are several things that can be done immediately to sculpt the society of the Fimfiction users.

    One is to reexamine the site interface and shed any option or gadget that permits the abuse of others. My first choice would be the ‘Down Thumb’, to remove it universally. The ‘Up Thumb’ is a benefit, alone.

    Another thing that would help would be to make sure that users can block others in - all - cases, and that the blocking choices of a user who starts a group are transferred to that group automatically.

    The establishment of a clear and precisely defined policy against harassment should be made highly accessible and obvious, and it should be enforced with robust and implacable determination and effect. The trusted Moderators should be given the tools to enforce the policy, and encouraged to take action swiftly and definitively. It should be made clear there is absolutely zero tolerance of harassment, hate groups and bullying, and that all users are expected to treat each other with great respect. To be effective, there can be no weakness in this. (I myself have used all of these methods in our own websites over the years to absolute effect. They work.)

    For the future, I would offer that it would be wise to consider the development of Fimfiction, and any other social websites you may create, in terms of what functions of both interface and policy are needed in order to create the exact social structure you desire. Define the kind of society you wish to create as part of the process of programming the whole. Hack the social environment - it is an extension of the function of your code, if you think about it.

    With respect - and hope,

    Jennifer Diane Reitz (Chatoyance)

    ___________________________________________________________

    I have never received a response.

    Do you agree with any of this? You can make it happen, you know. Just demand it loudly enough, for long enough.


    NEXT TIME:

    What You Can Do To Make Fimfiction A Safer Place

    47 comments · 1,177 views
  • 87w, 3d
    Online Abuse On Fimfiction, part one of four.

    I have returned to acquire the text of my unpublished, seventh chapter of ‘I.D. - That Indestructible Something’. While I am briefly here, I might as well make a statement. Here then is the beginning of a four- part blog series regarding the events of my leaving, and the problems inherent to Fimfiction itself.

    Online Abuse

    How to understand it   -   Why it happens   -   How to deal with it

    By Chatoyance


    Welcome to Fimfiction. You will be bullied and harassed.

    The fault is not yours, you are not to blame, neither do you deserve it. You may be bullied in small ways, with insults or having your comments obliterated by downvotes. You may be privately messaged vile things and you well may have lies and slanders repeated against you. Your attackers will try to make you feel small, make you feel that you are at fault, or that you have no right to create, or to even live.


    How can this even happen?

    The reason it can happen is because the website, Fimfiction itself, allows it to happen. Evil, real evil, is an institutional matter. It can only exist when it is permitted to exist. For evil to occur, all it takes is those in power turning a blind eye and ignoring things. What allows you to be attacked is the management and programming of Fimfiction itself.

    The first, and most obvious problem is posting anonymity. Complete anonymity inevitably leads to some degree of bullying and harassment. Websites that require valid personal identification when creating accounts on them have vastly fewer incidents of abuse, and should abuse occur, the perpetrators are more easily dealt with either by the website management, or by legal authorities. Anonymity breeds contempt of others by creating a feeling of total freedom from responsibility. Simply knowing that the website owner has true knowledge of user identity can stop a great deal of abuse. This is a major reason why professionally run forums, such as those run by corporate entities, always demand personal identification on signup.

    There are many ways an online environment can either prevent, or promote bullying and harassment. Every tool and gadget will be used for harm by evil people, if it can be, and the social tone of an environment is determined by what is possible within that environment. One particularly egregious example of this can be found in nothing more than the ‘thumbs up/ thumbs down’ voting system. It is by design intrinsically contentious - it pits people against each other.

    The creator of Fimfiction, Graeme Pollard (Knighty), has chosen to create an environment where it is possible to downvote comments into invisibility. This means that voting can be used as a weapon, one with no defense against it. The same downvote can be used to make your story socially unacceptable, to silence and censor you. There is no way to block this attack and there is no recourse. The moderators will not help you, Knighty will not help you. This is just one way the website itself socially programs for contention and emotional violence.

    Your power to block and delete the written attacks of those who would hurt you is limited and often faulty. Strangely, it is implemented in such a way as to make your deletions - when they work - leave traces, which in a social context makes you look bad for protecting yourself.

    If you form a group on Fimfiction, to create a safe space, your own block list will not keep out those who want to harass you. You will have to individually block your attackers all over again, while they harass you for it. You may find it impossible to delete their posts. You may need to close your group entirely, and only admit people one-by-one, vastly limiting who will choose to bother to join. And even with this tactic, your own comments and posts, within your own private group, can be downvote-bombed into oblivion with no recourse, and no hope of help.

    Worst of all, the administrator and owner do not follow through when problems arise. Through inattention, thoughtless programming choices and indifference to online harassment, Fimfiction itself supports bullying.

    Thus, when bullies harass you here, it is not your fault, you are not to blame. The fault lies with the institution, the fault lies with the programmer, Graeme Pollard, and the moderators who serve him. Bullies will always take advantage of the tools and circumstances available to them, and abuse the system as it exists. It is up to the site creator to prevent such abuses rigorously through programming choices based on understanding of the reality of online harassment.

    This is how to understand what is happening to you. You are being bullied because harassment is intrinsically allowed to occur, when it could easily be made virtually impossible. You could be given strong tools to protect your space. To delete cleanly. The existence of easily abused downvotes could be eliminated. The owner and moderators could take the issue of harassment seriously and end it through site programming and strong, proactive action.

    Fimfiction is about pony fiction. The ideal is ‘love and tolerance’. The line you are given is that harassment will not be tolerated. These are illusions.

    You are bullied because the institution itself physically, programmatically, permits your harassment to occur, and because the owner and moderators do not consider the issue worth real, firm action.

    Understanding this, you can easily grasp how abuse can happen here.


    Why you?

    Your attackers will have many reasons to justify their abusive behavior. All of these reasons will revolve around you, what you write, what you think, what you are. In every case, it is all lies.

    Bullies and abusers are broken human beings. No decent, sane, good person would ever wish to harass another person. The attacks against you have nothing to do with you. If the cause truly was your writing or words, those harassing you could chose to go read something, anything else. There are thousands of authors and stories on Fimfiction to choose from. The bullies lie. It is not your words, or your stories, or your ideas, or your self that is the reason you are being attacked.

    The reason you are being attacked is because those harassing you are dysfunctional. It could be that they are too emotionally immature - regardless of their physical age - to grasp that they are doing something wrong. They could have had very inept parents who failed to teach them civil behavior. They could have endured parents who abused them, and they learned abuse as a way of life. They could be incapable of genuine compassion for others.

    Most commonly, those who harass and abuse others are powerless people who feel weak and powerless in their own existence. They are desperate for even the most petty and small sensation of power in their empty lives, and bully strangers in order to feel less weak and pathetic to themselves. By silencing, hurting, and minimizing you, they feel dominant for a moment. That brief victory is likely the only thing going for them. It may be all they have.

    ‘You’ are not important to them. Though it may feel like it, you have not been personally singled out - however much your abusers may make it seem so. Statistically, most online abusers have attacked others before you, and will harass still more people after you. You are just another target in a long line of targets. But to get to you, to induce maximum hurt, abusers will make you feel singularly targeted, uniquely attacked, and personally the focus in every way.

    The reason you are being attacked specifically is that you were there. It could have been anyone. You were chosen and reasons were invented to justify that choice. Your abusers will make those reasons into an almost religious cause, so that they feel righteous and just in attacking you.

    But no sane, decent, good person ever harasses or bullies or attacks another. Knowing this, you can now understand why abuse happens - those who harass and abuse are broken, malfunctioning people. There is something wrong with them, and they are acting out in ways that are socially inappropriate and ultimately cruel and wrong. It has nothing to do with you, rather abuse and bullying is about mental or emotional illness - of one kind or another - causing destructive and uncivil behavior to random others.


    What can be done?

    The most obvious and direct answer to online harassment and abuse is for the owners and operators of a social website to make harassment virtually impossible by programming the site to prevent it, and then following up with a strong, proactive effort to police the environment.

    In the absence of decent institutional control and response to harassment, there is only you. You must protect yourself, as best as you can, using all available means.

    Those tools that work, or marginally work - such as blocking, deleting, and locking - should be used consistently. It is always advised that you remain as anonymous as possible, just like those who would attack you.

    The fact is that this is sometimes not possible.

    Those who abuse and harass are by nature destructive and uncreative. In being attacked on Fimfiction, it will be because you dared to be creative, to write stories and produce content for the site. Most of those who attack you will never have written a story themselves, and the few that do will likely create few works, and often those works will be parodies or insult stories devoid of real imagination.

    Those who harass become good at spotting their victims work, style, and content. You may be discovered even if you try to hide, because you are creating works as opposed to mocking works, and trying to entertain rather than hunting people in order to cause suffering.

    What this means is that you may have few protections, and no way to truly hide. Nowhere to run, and few means to defend yourself. You may find that truly desperate, twisted bullies will not leave you alone even if you follow all the rules of how to deal with bullies. Hiding may be impossible. Ignoring your attackers may fail, asking them to stop may fail, and appealing to authority may be utterly pointless.

    In this circumstance, currently common to Fimfiction, there is one remaining tool left.

    You need to understand, clearly, robustly, deeply that anything that your attackers have to say is utterly beneath you.

    This may seem hard. As a creative person who is not a bully, you may want to see the best in others. You may feel that the opinions of every person should have merit, that if many people come down on you they must have a point, because they are many, and you are alone. Creative people often have such egalitarian, kind, and generous views. It is likely you have such views, or want to have such views, because of the nature of Fimfiction - it is a website about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and the reason you are here is because you love the ideal of a world of friendship and kindness.

    Such things are indeed good ideals. They are wonderful ideals. But in the real world, in a world that is not a cartoon, the fact is that there are broken, damaged people who thrive on hurting others. People who derive joy and feelings of importance and power and even self-worth from knowing they have destroyed or harmed an innocent stranger. People who will justify their cruelty by any means they can, and deny their own evil especially to themselves. This is real, this is the real world. The people who harass you, bully you, are such people.

    No sane, kind, or good person ever harasses or bullies another person.

    You must, despite yourself, despite your wish to see the best in others, despite your ideals, accept that the world is not a nice place. There are nice people, to be sure, but there are many more who are indifferent to evil, or who openly engage in it. This is why you are being attacked. It is obvious, really.

    Knowing this, it is imperative that you recognize that no person has the right to any opinion about anything unless they are truly worth your respect and trust.

    Understand that. You must grasp this, right down to your gut.

    No person has any right to any opinion, unless they are truly worth your respect and trust.

    The majority of the people on this website? You do not know them. You have no basis to trust them. They are anonymous, they hide themselves like cowards. Some bullies may seem friendly at first, to gain your trust. Trust takes time and is hard won - do not give it lightly or easily. The only judge of character is behavior over time. A lot of time.

    You are in your right, and your right mind, to instantly dismiss the opinions, observations and attitudes of the majority of people you will ever meet or deal with. This is doubly true online.

    Before you grant any voice your ear, ask yourself: who is this person? What have they truly done, in a real way, to demonstrate supportive friendship to me? Is that supportive friendship solid - have they never betrayed me? Unless you can state to yourself that someone posting a comment is worth your respect and trust, INSTANTLY DISMISS WHATEVER THEY HAVE TO SAY.

    Your feelings, your creativity, your peace of mind is worth something. Dismiss, ignore, throw away any random comment that is negative, uncivil, rude, or just feels wrong. It just plain is not worth your time. Accept this. Know this. Live by it.

    For it is your armor.

    The anonymity of the internet, combined with the indifference of institutions to abuse and harassment automatically make an environment contentious and dangerous to your happiness and peace. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it currently is this way on Fimfiction. Know this fact. Use your armor.

    If a seemingly friendly commenter begins to turn rude and abusive - you have been had. Accept that. Let them go - delete, block, ignore. They are not worth your time.

    If a group of posters dig into you and your work, attacking you while claiming they are trying to teach you, or improve your work, or that it is just honest criticism - they are lying. They are bullies.

    Violence - including emotional violence - only teaches violence.

    Real criticism is kindly said, and real teaching is gently given.

    If a comment feels abusive - it is abusive. Your emotions are the judge, the only judge. A kind person will find a kind way to say something. Knowing this, you can discern who is worth listening to, and who is to be utterly ignored.

    Treat everyone politely, but don’t let them into your mind or heart until they prove they are your friend.


    But it still hurts!

    I thought just this, and to an extent I still feel it. Verbal and written harassment is processed by the same part of the brain that processes physical pain. Chronic attack can cause damage that can be seen during imaging of the brain. Insults and abuse, contrary to common belief can truly damage people. On the internet, showing that you have been hurt is itself insulted. A bully will use anything and everything to dismiss you and imply that your pain is your fault. This is sociopathic behavior. It is just about as wrong as it is possible to be.

    That said, there is a degree by which we are to blame for some of our own suffering, and that is when we fail to protect ourselves because of innocence, ignorance, or the willful desire to see the best in others. This is an error.

    When I was attacked on Fimfiction, I was very hurt, and I was insulted for even being hurt. This is of course wrong, but even so, the bullies did have a very thin, very specious, but true point - I was not using my armor. The only reason the comments and attacks and abuse of others could hurt me at all was because I was generously granting those that abused me equal status. I considered them my equals. I thought of them as worthwhile people.

    And they absolutely were not worthwhile people, and they absolutely did not deserve for me to consider them my equal, and they absolutely were beneath me in every regard. If I had truly understood this, I could not have been hurt by them.

    No sane, kind, decent person ever abuses another person.

    If you are being abused and harassed and bullied, whoever is doing it automatically is beneath you, utterly less than you, and not worthy of any consideration whatsoever. You need to learn to dismiss them and ignore them the instant you recognize such people. Ban them. Block them. Delete them. Ignore them. It is your right, and it is the proper thing to do.

    You are the creative person. All an abuser can do is abuse. They are worthless.

    If management was doing its job, you would be protected from such people, and have tools for the few that slip through.

    You may want to believe the best about everyone. That is what those who would hurt you depend upon. If you want to not be hurt, you must be very choosy with your trust and respect, and you must only bother with the opinions of those who have earned your trust.

    Everyone else - the whole of humanity - is not worth your least consideration until they prove to you, concretely, over time, otherwise.

    The moment you can internalize this, really feel this, you will have an intelligent, real, and true armor to protect your feelings. This is your ultimate defence. This is sometimes your only defence. Always remember:

    No sane, kind, or good person ever harasses or bullies another person.

    If you are being ganged up on - that is abuse. If you or your work is angrily attacked - that is abuse. If you receive death threats or threats of physical harm - that is absolutely abuse.

    Real criticism is kindly. Real teaching is kindly. Real comments will make you feel like writing is worth the effort. If the comment you read isn’t kind, it isn’t worth reading, because it didn’t come from anyone worth your time to listen to.

    Do not be complicit in your own hurt. Use your armor. Ignore, delete, dismiss.


    If you’ve already been hurt -

    If you’ve already been hurt by bullying, by harassment, by those beneath you, then you are probably feeling pretty bad. You may be depressed, grief stricken, angry, and feel both helpless and hopeless.

    Understand that these feelings are legitimate. Emotional abuse hurts, and is a serious matter. It is processed in the brain by the same region that processes physical pain. It is equivalent to physical harm, as far as your biochemistry is concerned. Society often dismisses and minimizes emotional abuse, but this is a foolish, outdated belief not supported by medicine.

    You are not at fault. You have been attacked, harmed, by sick, broken people. It is reasonable to feel hurt and angry. On the internet, your attackers are almost certainly practiced at being anonymous, and the fact of being anonymous gives cowardly people the security to hurt others. It is reasonable to feel helpless and frustrated - those that hurt you are beyond your reach, and beyond punishment. It is also reasonable to feel angry that such abuse was even allowed to happen. Much abuse can be prevented by proper website design, as mentioned.

    But here you are, hurting. What now?

    Time. Time and comfort and distance from the source of the pain. You need time to heal and to gain perspective. You need to get your brain to decide that everything is OK again, so that you will feel better, and the way to do that is to make your experiences OK. Your environment OK. If your senses report things are safe and alright long enough, your brain will calm down, and your depression and helpless anger will lift. Counseling may help, talking to friends - real friends you rationally trust - will help.

    Understanding and internalizing the above can help.

    If nothing works, then find something else to do, and leave Fimfiction behind.

    If you can’t do that, take time to heal up. When you return, apply what is provided here diligently. Avoid the mistake of granting anyone the privilege of having anything to say to you until they earn it by proper behavior over time. People do not deserve your attention or respect unless they earn it.

    Treat everyone politely, but don’t let them into your mind or heart until they prove they are your friend.

    And always remember: no sane, kind, or good person ever harasses or bullies another person. The moment you detect abuse of any kind - dismiss, delete, and ignore.

    Because you, being a creative person, are worth more than that.


    NEXT TIME:

    My Letter to Graeme Pollard (Knighty), the creator and owner of Fimfiction.net




    72 comments · 1,662 views
  • 99w, 2d
    Thank You

    Thank you for reading my work, I appreciate your support and attention.

    I'm sorry for not finishing my last novel.

    I wish you all the best.

    - Chatoyance

    75 comments · 2,677 views
Jul
1st
2012

Let's face it. I will never be in the Pony Fiction Vault. Nothing I have created will ever go there, and I will never be on the front page of Equestria Daily. RBDash47 will never interview me, and nothing I do will ever be considered part of Pony Celebrity. But, you know, I can pretend. After all, isn't that what we do here, pretend?

Pretend along with me, just for fun, and enter a strange parallel universe where the Conversion Bureau wasn't the red-headed bastard stepchild of pony fiction. A world where more than a half a million words of sincere effort would not be spit upon by trolls, but would be revered by vast numbers of ordinary fans, rather than just a small cadre of the superintelligent. In short... Bizarro World.

Join me now for my dream interview about the induction of all of my work into the Pony Fiction Vault, one day in Alternate Universe Bizarro Land....

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEVER posted to the Vault on 1/34/3012.

Today's Bizarro Vault entry falls into the "Mythos Building" category, providing a vast and rich exploration of an entire sub-genre (Season 2 canon be damned). Chatoyance's numerous works span a wide range of tones, moods, and complex situations.

[Adventure, Slice-of-Life, Comedy, Romance, Alternate Universe] • 620,667 + words

The Chatoyaverse explores virtually every aspect of the Conversion Bureau Mythos.

Fanfiction.netEquestria Daily

Where do you live?

Washington

What kind of work do you do? (i.e. are you a student, do you have a career/day job, etc)

I am a co-wife to three spouses, a kind of house-mother if you will. A homemaker. I also do art, write, and have many hobbies.

How did you discover My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? When did you realize you were a fan of the show?

Sometime in the September of 2011, I came across a reference to the concept of MLP:FIM on a games site, probably Kotaku. It was linked to the notion of 'The New Sincerity', which sounded pleasant, and from that I read about the origins of Pony Fandom. I was fascinated by the idea that in the wretched bowels of 4-chan, something pure and good and nice and kind could grow, spread like a virus and take over all the evil sons-of-bitches and wash their souls less filthy. Goodness on the internet? It was a miracle! Love and Tolerate said un-ironically? Within a week I had devoured everything I could and began collecting and watching episodes. In a trice I was intimate with Equestria Daily, and that was when I found the thing that sparked my writing: an article about The Conversion Bureau. The story shown was The Conversion Bureau: Change of Life by Hurricane Puncher. That moment changed my life.

Do you have a favorite episode?

Without question my favorite episode is Winter Wrap-Up. I consider it to be the consummate MLP:FIM episode. It embodies everything I think is wondrous, beautiful, and magical about the series. You have what I think is the flat out best song in the entire series (with Smile, Smile Smile taking a close second). You have a brilliant description of a cosmos with alien physical laws, and gain an understanding of what those laws are, and how the native species interacts with them. In Winter Wrap-Up we find out these are not just sapient ponies, they are for all intents faery-kind, working together to control and manipulate Nature Itself. This is the establishment of what the three breeds are for, and why they exist. Here is where we find out that the ponies must physically nurture the universe itself in order to live. Here we discover through Twilight Sparkle's eyes for the first time what Equestria is about, and what it means to live there, to be a pony. Above all else, it underscores the fact that Equestria is about cooperation and mutuality.

Who is your favorite character based purely on the canon of the show itself? Would your answer change if you considered the fandom in its entirety (i.e. art, fanfiction, memes, etc)?

Canon: Pinkie Pie. I have always identified her as the heart and soul of her community. She is a character who truly, genuinely loves others with her entire being. She is willing to be silly, even ridiculous, to entertain others. She has within her all the Harmonic Elements, and embodies every last one. She is laughter, of course, but she is also Loyal, often more so that Rainbow Dash, she is Generous - vastly more so that Rarity, she is Kind - she is the equal of Fluttershy, and perhaps moreso, she is utterly Honest - never break a Pinkie Promise, and she is the most magic pony on the show - even reality itself, the fourth wall, is a toy to her. Pinkie Pie is everything, and yet she is also herself, and that self is utter love. Pure, total love. She is everything I personally Idealize. I only wish I could embody a tenth of what Pinkie Pie represents.

Fanon: Derpy Ditsy-Doo Hooves. Derpy is charming, utterly lovable, tender, kind, and mentally and physically disabled. And that is the absolute best thing she could be. Derpy is for me, an Inclusion Character. Derpy basically says: You Are Welcome Here. I remember the actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg talking about Star Trek. She liked the fact that there were black folks on the show, as regulars. That meant a lot to her. I know that Derpy does the same for people with disabilities. One of my spouses, for example, adores Derpy. She's suffered T.I.A.'s - mini strokes - that have reduced her memory and concentration in profound ways. She identifies with Derpy, and loves the character. It broke her heart when the bastards changed Derpy's one speaking appearance. Hearing Derpy speak in a clearly disabled manner instantly told her she could Belong in the pony fandom and the Pony Universe. Fortunately, the original survives on my hard drive for her.

How did you come up with your handle/penname?

'Chatoyance' means many-hued and changing colors, and in Jewelry means stones, like Cat's Eye, that reflect a brilliant streak of light. I consider myself a diverse person, with many interests and areas of expertise, and my writing and other art expresses many moods and many styles. Further, there is no art that is not based on what has come before, so if I ever achieve anything, it can only be because I am reflecting the streak of brilliance from someone else, who has inspired me. This is the reasoning behind my handle.

Have you written in other capacities (other fandoms, professionally, etc)? When did you first start writing?

I've done several graphic novels, co-authored two other novels, written some many short stories scattered about, and written a great number of cartoons. My first graphic novel was done when I was eleven. But I never really got the serious writing bug - writing stories as a primary activity - until joining FimFiction.net. I read everything that existed at the time that was Conversion Bureau, and I was utterly enraptured by the concept. I could see endless potential there to plumb the complexities of the human spirit within the Bureau mythos. I was utterly excited by it. So I joined FimFiction and wrote my first story. Then another and another, then full novels, and more novels, and more. I have written more words on FimFiction than likely anywhere else in my life.

I will say this, though. Writing is incredibly, vastly easier than doing graphic novels. Writing and illustrating is a great deal of labor, for me, merely writing is like a vacation. I don't have to do a painting for every two sentences. I LOVE writing, compared to doing cartoon work. It's relaxing.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Video and Computer games, of course - I used to work in the industry, and I have never lost my love for the artform. I also paint and sculpt miniatures, draw and paint, invent tabletop and board games, study various subjects according to my latest fascinations, play housewife X3, read, enjoy all manner of media, and (try) to keep up with all of my friends. Oh, I also collect toys and videogame memorabilia. I used to do animation, but not any more. Then again, I used to do a lot of things, from leatherwork to custom stuffed animals. I guess you could say I keep busy.

Who is your favorite author (published or fanfiction)? Do you have a favorite story or novel?

I do not have a favorite author, as in top of the list favorite. I have many favorites and influences. Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clarke, Issac Asimov, Robert Sheckley, Zenna Henderson, Ray Bradbury (and many, many more)... all the Golden Age and Silver Age science fiction authors are my idols. I literally grew up inside books. My family moved every three to six months, and I lived a highly isolated life. I would find one friend of like mind and then would have to leave, over and over, until my last two years of high school. I lived inside books. Libraries were my safe houses, my only stability. My ideas of the world, of what should be and could be all derive purely from a life spent within the worlds created by such great authors.

On FimFiction I have many favorite authors that consistently astonish and amaze me. The writers of the Conversion Bureau mythos are brilliant people - Midnight Shadow, Krass McWriter, Windchaser, Defoloce, Fullmetal Pony, Dafaddah, BronyOfSteel, TalonMach5 and Silvertie... and on and on. Beyond the Bureau mythos I have been astonished at the sheer wonder of writers like shortskirtsandexplosions, Applejinx, Gabriel LaVedier, Kwakerjak, BillyColt, Andrew Joshua Talon, SleeplessBrony, Cold in Gardez, butterscotchsundae, Donny's Boy, and so many more. These are my heroes, they inspire and teach me, just as the old Golden Age Authors once did.

Stephen King believes that every author has an "ideal reader" - the one person who they write for, the one person whose reactions they care about. Do you have one, and if so, who is it?

My Ideal Reader is highly intelligent and highly educated. They are Idealistic and value kindness and friendship above all else. They are culturally literate and know a great variety of things from all manner of media. They are the sort of person who sees the vast and complex diversity of gender, race and sexuality as a big happy banquet of fun. They naturally treat all people as equals. They appreciate Reason and reject arbitrary belief, yet are open to all possibility, even the most bizarre. They are creative, clever, whimsical, and playful. They are childlike, without being child-ish. They strive always to be a better, nicer, more capable person with humor at life and at themselves.

My Ideal Reader, to whom I write, is strange, whimsical, smart, aware, compassionate, creative, passionate. They will not abide hate in any form. They expect the best, but treat failure with patience and understanding. Above all else... they are nice. A nice person who is nice to others.  

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, or writers who are struggling with their own stories?

Just write. No excuses. I know that it's scary, I know that there is the chance that someone might make mean comments. But you are better than that, and you will get better still if you just write. Nothing is worse than not trying at all. That way lies only regret and a loss of self worth. Write, tell your story, say what is in your heart and mind. Just do it. Overthinking is for chumps. Hit the keys, write and write and then publish. Do it. I don't even know you, and I believe in you, because I believe in the power of the human imagination. It does not matter one bit how 'good' you think you are, or aren't compared to others - there will always be someone better, and always be someone worse no matter what. You will always be somewhere in the middle. Just write. Get going. No hesitation, no fear, just joy. Write, just write.

When you are writing, during that moment only, suspend your disbelief - in that moment truly believe that you are the best writer that ever lived. Imagine the joy and laughter and tears and terror on the countless faces of your endless admirers. Pretend that every word is golden, and that You Can Do No Wrong. That you are the Universe's Gift to all of humankind.

Then, when you have finished your story, edit the hell out of it. Go over it and correct all the grammar, the spelling, the punctuation. Then do it again. If you can, read your story out loud to a spouse or best friend, so that you can catch even more errors. But DON'T RE-WRITE anything unless there is NO other option. If you do so, you will regret it, because there is passion within an initial text that can never be regained. Correct, but don't lose the passion you had while writing it initially.

Above all else, write honestly. Don't try to 'be' somebody in your writing, don't try to put on airs. Write honestly and intimately from your heart. Let your inner truth speak. Just... write.

What is your typical writing process? (Do you work through multiple drafts, do you have any prereaders/editors, etc?)

Everything I do, artistically, in any medium, is always intuitive. For me, stories tell themselves. I don't think, I don't plan, I don't plot. I may come up with a one sentence beginning notion and a one sentence concept of the end. But that is rare. Mostly I just start writing. The first sentence is the crystal around which the rest of the story solidifies.

In the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, there was the Infinite Perspective Vortex, that recreated a working model of the universe from a single piece of fairy-cake. It extrapolated. Cake implies grain and butter and milk and eggs. These things imply ground and planets and sunshine and stars, which imply galaxies and the universe as a whole. That is how I write. Each thing demands the existence of other things in order to make sense, gradually the whole world, complete and self-consistent must result. I have a terrible memory, I always have, so if it were not for this extrapolation ability I would never be able to keep anything straight.

When I write, there is a daydream that goes on in my mind, and it is a simulation that runs. I know the characters, so I know what they will do and how they will react. I know the world, and so what is possible is inevitable. The simulation plays out as it will, the characters making their decisions and choices while I float and watch. As the story unfolds for me, I type it out, trying to keep up. At the end, it makes sense and I feel grateful and exhausted. This way, the stories literally write themselves. I try to not get in their way.

I never know how a story will turn out, or where it will go. As I write new chapters, I am a reader just like anyone. I can't wait to see what happens next, because I do not have a loving clue. Each chapter, each line is as much a mystery to me as it would be to anyone reading after the fact. For me, the process of writing is sitting down and letting a story be told to me, while I try to capture the essence of it as it plays out as it will, vividly, like a movie in my mind.

It's a scary way to write - each new work feels like a roller coaster in a tornado. I cling on, unsure that the story will work out, that it will make sense, that anything will work, but somehow it does. It is always a wild ride, but also an exhausting one. But when a story jumps on my back, I have no choice but to write it. It will nag me until I obey.

What inspired you to create your (many different) Chatoyaverses?

Well, I've created too many universes to go into all of them. Tryslmaistan, Pastel, Krawlni, Ktlikitkak... so I will stick with my work on FimFiction doing Bureau stories. The initial seed for my work was the works of the other, original authors. Mostly Midnight, Krass, Hurricane and such. I didn't even read Blaze's seminal work until I came across Midnight's guide to the TCB universe. When I had devoured all that these founders had written, the whole set about organizing itself inside my head. I am driven to make sense of science fiction and fantasy universes, to make them self-consistent, rational, complete. I want something fictional I like to feel real to me.

So, when I did my first story, The Big Respawn, the beginning of a complete, self-consistent vision of the Bureau universe was just starting to crystallize for me. I knew I wanted to make a Big Tent, a codified, clarified vision that could include the stories by all the other writers, or at least most of them, within it. My goal has always been to create a Mythos - like the Cthulhu Mythos that Lovecraft spawned. That mythos still grows through the works of more and more authors to this day. That is what I want for the Conversion Bureau.

When I felt that I had mostly achieved this, at the One Year Anniversary of the Conversion Bureau, that is when I decided to demonstrate the true potential of the Bureau concept through alternate universe variation. That's why I did Brave New Universe. I wanted to say 'Hey! We have a great Prime universe, but the idea here is so great, so grand, take a look! There can me many more Bureau universes. The concept transcends all!' And I really believe that. The Bureau concept is the perfect stage on which the human mind and heart can be explored. It is an ideal space in which to examine Identity, Self, Free-Will, and the human capacity for adaptation.

Did you run into any tough spots or challenges when writing all of your many works?

I had one. At the end of The Taste Of Grass, I was exhausted. Just completely wasted. I was pumping out a 3500 word chapter almost every day for a month and... I was just exhausted. So I ended the story, but I knew it needed an epilogue. It needed dessert, after the meal. I just didn't have it in me to write one more bloody word. Along comes Midnight Shadow and presents me with the perfect, perfect epilogue. Saved my bacon, he did. I just slapped that baby in there, with full credits to him and the story was golden.

Trust in your good writing friends.

When you set out to write your many, many stories, did you have any specific messages or themes in mind?

I wanted to embody the core feeling of the first season of MLP:FIM, which I remain convinced is the best. That core is this: that friendship, compassion and cooperation are the greatest good, and that working together, ponies can do anything. To put it more succinctly, love literally rules. In all of my stories, I strive to have at the center the basic concept that the only truth is being good to each other, all else is vanity. It was not a stretch to do this, it is also what I value in real life. It is what drew me to MLP:FIM in the first place. If I have a religion, it is Friendship. That is always my theme. If characters suffer, it is because they chose anger or greed over friendship and compassion and cooperation. If they succeed, it is because they embodied these virtues.

Where can readers drop you a line?

My email is Uni@Otakuworld, and I can be reached on FimFiction.net as well. I have a Deviant Art account, and of course there is my personal portal website, Jenniverse.com

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Be weird. Be yourself, whatever that means. Write your stories after your own dreams. Make your life in your own image. A true artist makes everything their art, especially their own life. Be you, your way.

And I encourage you to express your unique creativity. But above all else, I encourage you to embody those things you love. If you love magical ponies... try to be a pony, deep inside. Be a human-shaped pony - or anything else that captures your heart. Become - as best you can - your ideals, and what you write will be authentic. And for what it is worth, I believe in you.


Chatoyance · 988 views · Report
#1 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

Well... This was an unexpected occurrence.

So, like, who came up with the questions?

(Ohgodthey'llfindme)

#2 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

>>204317

The questions are the standard interview form that RBDash47 uses for his Pony Fiction Vault. You can find other, real interviews on the front page of FimFiction.net, right here. That is what gave me the idea. Because it will never be me, up there.

#3 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

>>204319

*shrugs*

Wont be me either. Less F&J:E or my bed time stories take off for no reason.

#4 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

Wow graphic novels. I suppose you managed to publish them too? That's a great deal of writing experience there, especially in the real world.

And I think this interview is more than exciting for me .

Thank you!

#5 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

:pinkiehappy: thanks for the mention.

now on to good book part 2!

#6 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

>>204319 Yeah, your field isn't one tends to like that much for somereason.

#7 · 134w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

I actually enjoyed it, and kinda wish it was a real interview! If nothing else, you're one of the more unique authors on here, you have a loyal and decently sized following, and you are more or less a "brand name" which is something not many can say, I think. "It's a Chatoyance story" communicates a lot in a brief sentence, at least to me.

I was interested in how you said that you never re-write anything unless absolutely necessary. I've always been told that you go back and rewrite as well as go back and edit and truncate and clean up and whatever... but you do raise a point-- it is hard to recapture the spirit of something the second time. (Having had to rewrite a song 9 times because I kept losing the lyrics because I'm stupid, I can attest how true this is!) I'll have to keep that in mind when this novel wraps up. Editing, outside of writing, like something that happens afterward and not while you're sitting there writing and go back and alter something or change it during that session-- that's so weird to me. (Except for like spelling and grammar. I mean, in depth editing.)

#8 · 134w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

Well, that was enlightening. I especially smiled during the description of Pinkie. I feel a lot more justified in having her create Equestria in one of my storylines. (Long story. Time shenanigans are involved.) In any case, it is a damn shame that your medium of choice happens to be the spittoon of bronydom. You're still a fantastic author, not that you need me to tell you that. No te bastardes carborundorum.

#9 · 134w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

Dear long lost sibbling,

A shout-out! (Does happy dance in the gazebo as dogs look on perplexed. Then one got tired.)

We have so much in common, especially in terms of personal philosophy. I suspect being "raised by science fiction's gold and silver age authors" is a big part of that.  It broadened our persective of who we can love to include even the alien. My personal definition of "evil" is exclusion, the sentiment that anyone different as being "other". And as a science nerd and SF fan in a very small town, that often meant me.

Your desire to create a self-consistent narrative out of the TCB universe is also one I share. I remember the 'A-ha!' reaction I had when I read "Code Majeste" as being exactly that, and also how it significantly expanded the complexity of Celestia's character and added a truly poignant desperation to her motivations.

That's only one example out of many -  I very much concure with  >>204481, you have established a brand in the best possible sense of the word: a quality of story and writing few other authors on FIMFiction can match.

Thanks for doing this interview (you deserve an "official" one ASAP), but also thanks for sharing.

#10 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

Never re-write anything? I think I'm going to take that one to heart.

#11 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

I have had that feeling with very few of my creative projects, that my work is establishing itself, and I am just along for the ride. Perhaps it is merely a matter of perspective, but I struggle with the logistics of the work.

>>204560

I like that idea.

#12 · 134w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

For what it's worth, both my wife and I are big fans of your stories, Chatoyance, especially Taste of Grass.

-Cv

#13 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

I guess I'm a different writer. Never re-write anything? There have been too many times I've written something. Looked at it and gone. "No, this isn't what I want" and scraped the entire thing only to start over. Eventually I find the 'flow' I'm looking for and can just go with it.

#14 · 134w, 3d ago · · ·

Chatoyance, I like your style!  Keep writing, your stuff has got me trying my hand (hoof?) at writing a story, and I'm not normally a creative person to begin with (helluva lot better with numbers and computer networks).

#15 · 134w, 4h ago · · ·

Chatoyance, why do you think your work will never be featured? Is it because you only write Conversion Bureau fics, or because of your detractors vitriol? I honestly consider your work to be among the best in our genre, my reservations regarding how you portray humanity not withstanding. Has Equestria Daily flat out told you, "Your stories will never be approved?", or the Pony Fiction Vault said "Your work is not worthwhile." Technically your writing is superb, your characters are engaging, your plots interesting, and the content even if it gets under your skin makes you think. I say ignore the neigh-sayers and continue, regardless of what others say I'll continue reading what you write.

#16 · 133w, 6d ago · 1 · ·

After reading this and seval of your works, I have come to think that you represent some of the best that this world has to offer.  Your writing has made me expect more of myself.  I have enjoyed all of your works that I read, especially "Taste of Grass", because they each have an incredible depth of detail and character in them.

Keep on rockin', my friend.

#17 · 133w, 6d ago · · ·

It's your work that convinced me to take up my metaphorical quill again after not having written anything of substance in almost a decade.  So don't feel like you're somehow less of an author for not getting an interview.  You and your work is what matters to those that really care.

#18 · 133w, 4d ago · · ·

First I'd like to say, I'm not here to belittle your writing, or the quality of your work.  From what I've seen you seem to put forth the effort to present a clean and polished product.  You do try to defend the overall premise of this fandom universe in an intelligent and though out manner, so I'll give you credit for that.

The thing is, you try so hard to justify Celestia's actions in this universe, and as said before, you admitedly do so in a rather thought out fashion.  But the problem has, and will always be that the premise you so love equates to ponies are better than humans, therefore for the humans to be saved they must become ponies.  You never seem to think of the possibility of ponies helping humanity become better - that notion is entirely thrown out it seems.  For whatever reason, you enjoy the notion of conversion (even forced at times) to the notion of uplifting humanity in your work.

Also, I find the part of your ideal reader rather curious:

"My Ideal Reader is highly intelligent and highly educated. They are Idealistic and value kindness and friendship above all else. They are culturally literate and know a great variety of things from all manner of media. They are the sort of person who sees the vast and complex diversity of gender, race and sexuality as a big happy banquet of fun. They naturally treat all people as equals. They appreciate Reason and reject arbitrary belief, yet are open to all possibility, even the most bizarre. They are creative, clever, whimsical, and playful. They are childlike, without being child-ish. They strive always to be a better, nicer, more capable person with humor at life and at themselves.

My Ideal Reader, to whom I write, is strange, whimsical, smart, aware, compassionate, creative, passionate. They will not abide hate in any form. They expect the best, but treat failure with patience and understanding. Above all else... they are nice. A nice person who is nice to others."

You say that your ideal reader sees gender, race, and sexuality, "as a big happy banquet of fun," and that they are, "open to all possibility, even the most bizarre."  Yet you, and many of your most vociferous readers and defenders, continue to accept the same over all premise as I described above.  Aside from a couple of stories you've published on fimfiction, where is the variety in your writing outside of you exploring and justifying the different aspects of the end of humanity?  In at least one of your stories you have a character even admit that humanity would have never accepted the truth, and that how things happened was necessary.  It seems you speak of diversity of ideas, yet reject the notion as well when it comes to differing opinions on conversion.  And in turn, it seems you ask more of your readers than you are willing to commit to yourself.

Chatoyance, I'm not saying this out of spite but rather out of genuine curiosity:  why don't you try to step outside of the Conversion Bureau box you seem so adamant on writing in.  I would be interested to see if you could write a story that uplifts humanity, whether based on the real world or some other, simply to see how that would turn out.

#19 · 133w, 4d ago · 1 · ·

>>215703 "Chatoyance, I'm not saying this out of spite but rather out of genuine curiosity:  why don't you try to step outside of the Conversion Bureau box you seem so adamant on writing in.  I would be interested to see if you could write a story that uplifts humanity, whether based on the real world or some other, simply to see how that would turn out."

I already have.

In fact, it is ALL I ever do. I can prove it.

I've done three massive graphic novels about just that, and one science fiction novel likewise. The Ishtar Crisis features an underdog human managing to thwart the large corporations that rule the solar system and through brilliance and human determination succeed in terraforming Venus where others have failed, all set within a future where Mankind has begun to settle the solar system.

In Unicorn Jelly, I have a lost portion of humanity trapped in a utterly, mind bogglingly alien cosmos with truly alien physical laws, succeeding in not only saving all sapient life in their new home, but overcoming 50,000 years of hardship to end up universe-hopping gods, all due to the intrinsic worth of human cooperation and the value of the smallest of human lives. The essential message of Unicorn Jelly is that the most insignificant people can sometimes be the most important to history.

In my remaining Tryslmaistan / Pastel stories, I further explore the importance of individual human beings on the outcome of events greater than themselves, arguing that the human heart and human love are the most powerful forces in the multiverse.

I have been just as massively attacked for my ardently pro-humanity stance with those works, as I have been attacked for my Conversion Bureau stories.

I write Conversion Bureau stories to explore the human mind. Those who fail to grasp that my ponies are actually windows into humanity are simply blind to the obvious. To say I disparage humanity because I write ponies as better is exactly equivalent to saying that Gene Roddenberry was misanthropic because Vulcans are stronger, smarter, and more intelligent than humans in every way. No, Vulcans are just a window into one facet of the human experience, just like Klingons, Ferengi, or Bab 5's Minbari, or Alien Nation's Tenctonese.

All stories about aliens - be they space aliens or elves and fairies, are really just stories about humans. We glue on wings or pointy ears - or hooves and tails - but the only thing any writer can write is human beings. Because that is all we can know.

Those who don't 'get' that, who don't comprehend that the best way to show the true human heart is to repackage it in the illusion of being 'alien' are either just plain intellectually insufficient, or they have bought into a crazy fool bunch of hogwash made up by those who want to cause trouble, or they are just plain using feigned ignorance to troll.

You want to know what every last one of my Conversion Bureau stories is about? They're not about humans being turned into ponies. They're about what it would be like if human beings could suddenly be made to act like their own ideals. What would it be like, if three ounces of magic potion could make you, or any other human, live up to all of those high and mighty words, and all of those sweet and compelling beliefs that people like to imagine about the best of Man?

Spock was never a Vulcan, he was Roddenberry's description of a human being driven by logic instead of passion. Gene clearly stated this, more than once. Because that is all any character can ever be. Just a human in fancy dress.

My Equestrians are just humans - the only difference is that they have magically been made to live up to the Ideals most religions claim are 'Good' and 'Right'. That's all. The hooves and manes and magic and everything are just background. They are Vulcan and Minbar and Middle Earth.

All of my stories are about humans, and the value of what is best in the human heart. Nobody can write true aliens, because we don't know any, and we have no idea how they would be.

That is why my detractors are such silly, pathetic folk - I am using the oldest, most time-honored means to show the glory and triumph of the human soul - through the invention of a 'false other', and I am called a misanthrope for it, and condemned!  

The problem isn't what I write - I always write about the triumphant spirit of Man - the problem is that most young people today have no concept of classical literature, and thus no comprehension of their modern media. This is a generation that thinks that TV Tropes is somehow educational, rather than a masturbatory bastardization of real understanding and a mockery of a  decent education.  

EVERY story I write uplifts humanity. EVERY single ONE. I just dress my Ideal Humans in hooves, because that is the style now. It used to be pointy ears, and before that, halos and wings.

Don't let yourself be caught up in the ignorant foolishness that has sprung up around my work. If you think about what I have just written, it is pretty obvious, isn't it? I write human beings, become the Human Ideal, and I dress them in hooves, because this is a pony fiction site.

You'd have to be either dim, or just blinded by mindless hate to fail to grasp such an obvious thing. It's literally one of the oldest tricks in literature.

#20 · 133w, 4d ago · 1 · ·

>>215748

Forgive me if this message seems long or rambling. I think (and take this with a grain of salt) that many people fail to see that aspect of your work because of the nature of the universe you chose to try to portray that message.

The biggest problem people often have with the TCB universe is the personality altering aspects of the serum itself. It's hard to see a message of "show the glory and triumph of the human soul" past the curtain of "being made to live up to their own ideals". Humanity achieving peace through alien magic isn't really a human achievement, especially when there's an element of force there. The same way as when someone wins the lottery, no one says that their newfound fortunes were earned. There's no journey, no self-discovery, no triumph. There's just this magical solution to all our problems and all you have to do is give up a part of what makes you, you. Maybe not a good part, but a part nonetheless. To put it another way... for many of us, the theme feels like one of surrender, rather than triumph. Like we're just... giving up trying to be a "better us" and letting someone else solve all our problems for us, regardless of the cost.

Now, don't get me wrong, I actually really enjoy your writing style. You're a far more talented writer than I'll ever be, and you're clearly well educated and intelligent. You've developed this in-depth, vibrant universe that motivates people to read your works and try to write their own. I admire your candor, eloquence, and perseverance in the face of criticism.

However, you do have a bit of a tendency to hastily dismiss the critics of the message of your work, often by disparaging their education, experience, or knowledge. Regardless of how politely they try to put their concerns into words. And I understand that many of them don't, but I don't see that as a reason to call them all silly, pathetic, or uneducated. Rather, I see that as an opportunity for you to participate in an organic, open, civil discussion about human nature and history. Perhaps even widen other peoples' horizons as well as your own.

Dismissing all critics is one of the worst mistakes a writer (or any person, really) can make, because if that many people are so radically misinterpreting the message of your stories... in fact, many of the same people who highly admire the works of those authors you cite as inspiration... perhaps (and I mean this in the best, most respectful way possible) you're not getting the message across as clearly as you think. Perhaps not all of the fault lies in the reader, and some lies in the medium via which the message was delivered.

As I mentioned before, part of the reason people fail to grasp that message are the mind-altering properties of the serum. Another is the often nonchalant dismissal of the thousands of years of culture and positive scientific progress many of us are proud of. The loss of all of this is rarely depicted, and when it is, it is depicted as a victory in and of itself, rather than the tragic cost of a greater victory. We'd all be sad to see the masterpieces go. The museums and all their art and culture. The LHC. The Statue of Liberty. The Hubble Telescope. The Great Wall. The great literary works of the present and the past. Thousands of years of thousands of histories of thousands of cultures... just gone. Perhaps a worthwhile price for world peace and prosperity... but a hefty one, nonetheless. Of course, that's not even the whole of it. Not by a long shot.

And, after all, Roddenberry didn't fit all of the positive ideals of humanity into only one of his "alien" races. Tolkien didn't portray the elves as infallible, perfect angels (even their queen was susceptible to the temptation of the ring). Heinlein's works espoused the importance of liberty and self-reliance more than his distaste for general society's dislike for non-conformist thought. The key throughout all of these different themes (and one of the key aspects to the "false other" in many of its most famous uses through literature) was the inclusion of acknowledged, true faults in the "false other". The Vulcans' total lack of emotion was as much as a fault as their scientific minds and rational thought were benefits. And Roddenberry certainly never portrayed humanity in its current form as irredeemable without transforming into Klingons. Rather, he glorified our past and potential future triumphs. There is nothing human about perfection... and perfection seems to be what your version of ponies often embodies. I think this is a part of the disconnect between the message some people are getting and the one you're trying to portray.

Again, I want to reiterate that I have a massive amount of respect for you as a writer.  I've only recently begun developing my own creative writing talents (or lack thereof), my own background being in behavioral economics, which involves a lot of technical writing, rather than creative. I use stories like yours as a guide on how to write well.

Please do not take any of the above comment in a negative light... I'd be sad if you did. It's meant to be a constructive elucidation of some of the views of your critics, as well as a compliment on the thought-provoking nature of your work.

Congratulations on your prolificity, and thank you for reading this with an open mind in the spirit of mutually beneficial discussion.

With much respect,

Invictus

#21 · 133w, 4d ago · · ·

>>215748

So, somewhat off topic, I feel I need to defend those of my age that have "no grasp of classical literature." I am currently fifteen years old, I have read books from the old days of Greece and from the Victorian age, and rather thoughroughly enjoyed some of them. In addition, I have voraciously read many many many books that were published more recently. HOWEVER, the idea of your work being written in the style of classical literature and thus being thrown out by younger audiences, or even being thrown out because they have no grasp of modern literature either, is not completely true. I can't speak for all of us in our teens, but for me, it has nothing to do with how it's written. You can go on and on about how something appears, but the fact of the matter is that I simply do not enjoy the subject matter of your stories. That's seriously it. The idea of humanity becoming nonexistent strikes a bad chord in me, especially when you consider that I am human myself (aren't we all?).

Now, this is not to say your work isn't well written, but that the driving force behind it does not appeal to me. Call it an irrational view if you must, but keep in mind that there are things that some people like, and others don't. We even have a great example right here in front of us: MLP FiM. For this reason I will not condemn you or your stories, because I like to think of myself as being someone who respects the likings of others, even if they clash with my own feelings.

Also I have never been on TVTropes ever except for the occasional link I see here or there. Honestly, I'm not even completely sure what TVTropes even contains. But I get the feeling it's more for humorous purposes than anything.

On the topic of some of the things you stated, this in particular I have something to say about:

Those who don't 'get' that, who don't comprehend that the best way to show the true human heart is to repackage it in the illusion of being 'alien' are either just plain intellectually insufficient, or they have bought into a crazy fool bunch of hogwash made up by those who want to cause trouble, or they are just plain using feigned ignorance to troll.

I was always of the opinion that the best way to show a human being is to show a human being. I get the fact that our "aliens" are just human beings that look different, and that makes sense to me. What doesn't is that showing an alien that represents a facet of the human character, because let's face it, that's what our aliens are, is the best way to show true humanity. Humanity itself contains many many many behaviors and actions for different situations, and saying that by creating an illusion of humanity that acts off one of these and thus shows the true human heart makes no sense. None. Besides that, every human's definition of a true human's heart differs. I'd be willing to bet mine is different than yours, for example. Please, enlighten me on what you mean by saying this.

One last thing:

I always write about the triumphant spirit of Man

May I ask you one question about this, and one only? How does the triumphant spirit of man occur when the serum to change humans into ponies literally changes their viewpoints of the world, and actually alters the way they think? It seems like you're writing about the triumphant spirits of ponies to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

Of course, this could easily be an example of the idea of aliens being different facets of human character, but one facet of human character is not all of human character, and therefore by changing humanity it is impossible to show the triumphant spirit of man because it no longer exists.

With all this said, I have a lot of respect for you for the simple reason that you have dedicted yourself to a universe that has been mocked since it was first released. You have guts to deal with the flames that no doubt emerge from such a thing. So, please don't take any of this as attacks towards you, and instead see it for what it truly is: Curiousity.

#22 · 133w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

>>216953

"I was always of the opinion that the best way to show a human being is to show a human being.....Please, enlighten me on what you mean by saying this....It seems like you're writing about the triumphant spirits of ponies to me, but maybe I'm missing something."

>>215877

"Dismissing all critics is one of the worst mistakes a writer..."

I can answer both of you at the same time, because the issue is the same.

I do not dismiss all critics. I only dismiss the ignorant trolls who have a single, stupid issue: that my TCB stories are offensive to them for whatever reason. I don't care about the fact they are offended. Let them be offended. Good. But if they are offended, the answer is not to bother me, but to fuck the hell off. Go away. That is who I dismiss. Someone with a useful criticism of how I could improve what I am intending to do, I listen. Someone telling me I have no right to say what I say, that person I dismiss with extreme prejudice.

So what is the primary complaint? I upset people by showing them just how far humans are from achieving their much proclaimed Ideals. I make some people feel bad when they have to face what reality actually is, what humanity actually is, instead of what they want to believe about it. So they get mad at me.

How do I achieve this amazing stunt? By using the oldest trick in literature, the same one every science fiction writer uses, which is why I mentioned Roddenberry and all the others.

If I write: "Humanity is totally cruel!" the reaction would be "NO! I am not cruel! So you are wrong!" Nobody listens, because they take it too personally.

If I invent a cruel 'alien', even though it is clear that they are just a human with one aspect made more obvious, people can accept that. The 'white lie' that the 'alien' isn't really 'us', allows people to lie to themselves enough to listen and not reject information out of hand.

But if I write a fiction, where ordinary human beings are shown as they truly are, in stark relief, so that it is really clear and really powerful, and then I go and toss in a magic change so that some humans suddenly become everything that Mankind wants to believe about itself... WOW! Suddenly, hate mail, upset people, entire websites devoted to denying me and what I do... the power is over the top.

The best way to show a human being is to show something 'Other'. Make up an alien, and give it specific traits that are human, but make those traits dominant. Klingons are humans with all of our aggression and honor and war turned up to eleven with the knob ripped off. Ferengi are all of our greedy traits isolated and magnified. We look at these 'aliens' but they are not at all alien. They are exaggerated humans. That forces us to confront aspects of human nature, but in the guise of an 'alien' so we don't immediately reject what we see.

Normally, this works great, and most people never admit to themselves what they are being shown. 'It's an alien' is how they lie to themselves, so that they can continue thinking they are little angels and special snowflakes and that their species is Super Wonderful.

But I have chosen to subvert this little contract. I have humans become 'alien' become 'other' - but the other isn't greedy, inferior Ferengi or warlike subhuman Klingons, no... my 'Other' is everything humans want to believe they already are - kind, compassionate, cooperative, loving, free from bigotry, evil, cruelty, violence, just wonderful folks every last person - except for the rare bad ones, of course.

And that pisses people off, because when they see what a truly nice person, a truly good, genuinely moral and ethical human would be like - I dress them in hooves and call them ponies because it's fun - then they must face just how far real life and real people are from that goal. And that hurts people who have never had enough life experience to learn the truth over time. It bothers those who believe the comforting lies we tell to ourselves.

But, that is not who I am writing for, so fuck'em. Seriously - I am writing for people who are mature enough to look at reality and not cry and whine and bitch at me about it. My reader already understands reality and has given up the sappy lies.

So, what does a mature person get from my stories? Same thing I do - relief. Relief from reality. Instead of whinging about how 'awful Man looks compared to 'ponies' (who are really just humans dressed up), the reader I am trying to reach will sigh in yearning at the happy dream of a magic potion that really could make the world better.

You see, we have learned, through experience, that things aren't getting better inside Man. Man is the same as he always has been. Oh, maybe we get better toys in the First World (while the rest of the planet starves), but Humanity is still... the same as it was in ancient Rome, or Babylon, or whatever. Learning does not change the essential animal that is Man. And that is the big tragedy for which there is no answer.

But in my stories, there is! The answer is ponification. Three ounces of fairy magic and bam! Suddenly the inner nature of people is Good instead of a mixed up bag of nice and bad and good and evil and greedy and crappy and bigotry and foolishness. And it is a happy dream to imagine being freed from the burden of having to work so damn hard all the time just to barely manage to be nice. Three ounces, and no more fighting inner demons. Cured. No more evil inside. Instant angel.

And this has nothing to do with 'earning' paradise. That is bullshit. Paradise should be basic, standard, it should be how things are, for free, already. But that isn't how things are, and that hurts worst of all. Fuck earning paradise. It should be free and already here and now.

In the TCB universe, you can drink a potion and win the cosmic lottery, and THAT IS THE POINT.  That is the fun - just like superhero comics let people just 'win the lottery' and have an origin story and get superpowers.

You know what? I write superhero stories, where every human being can have an Origin and gain the super-power of not being a dick anymore.

I love that super-power, and I wish everyone had it.

#23 · 133w, 3d ago · · ·

>>218703

I think, and this does pertain to me in a way, some people are driven off by the idea of a spontaneous solution to all the world's problems suddenly appearing. Is it possible? Hell yes it is, we have no clue what any type of true extra-terrestial race is capable of, but that doesn't change that fact that it's somewhat hard to believe. Even if it did appear right in front of me I would still do a double take and then some. Again, not to say that it can't happen, but that the idea of an "easy way out" is not exactly appealing in most stories. Do you want to read about the guy who had to go on an epic adventure to find talismans to defeat a great evil, or about the guy who had said talismans delivered to his front door by the mail-man?

In addition, paradise is debatable. You know why? Because people see paradise differently. Those people that I hesitate to call evil would see paradise as a whole different ballpark than a priest, for example. For this reason, paradise is nonexistent. It can't exist. It is like the original definition of utopia, meaning literally "no place." All these words for a perfect place are delusions of the human mind because such a place does not exist. Perfection is impossible because of perception.

Along those same lines, every human has different views of him/herself. I know people that are dicks for the simple reason of being a dick. And they say it themselves. Whether it be entertaining to them, or some other reason, they do it. So you're proposing that every human wants to believe that they are a nice, good person? Generalizations are a terrible thing, Chatoyance. You of all people should know this.

And that pisses people off, because when they see what a truly nice person, a truly good, genuinely moral and ethical human would be like - I dress them in hooves and call them ponies because it's fun - then they must face just how far real life and real people are from that goal. And that hurts people who have never had enough life experience to learn the truth over time. It bothers those who believe the comforting lies we tell to ourselves.

Okay, stop right there. You are saying that ethical and nice people are nonexistent. Seriously? I call bullshit. Why? Because I know some of these ethical and nice people. Of course there are bad eggs, and people who don't realize that it isn't picture perfect are delusional, but again generalizations are a no-no.

To finish this off I would like to point out that you didn't answer my last question fully. Where, pray tell, is the so called "triumphant spirit of man" Chatoyance? You just said yourself, ponies are exaggerated nice humans, if you will. Humanity isn't an exaggerated facet of character, humanity is taking the good with the bad. Therefore, where is your "triumphant spirit of man" when you deliberately take it away from humanity? I don't think that an author that prides themself on always "uplifting the spirit of humanity" would deliberately ignore the question, do you think?

#24 · 133w, 3d ago · 1 · ·

>>218703

Well, my whole point wasn't that people are objecting to your message, but rather misinterpreting it into its diametric opposite. In the case where one or two do this, you would be right in dismissing them as people who didn't read your work carefully enough. When a significant portion do this, I contend that the issue might be in the clarity of your message, or the medium you chose for it. Once again, I say this with the utmost respect for your writing ability.

And, again, superhero powers are great. Until they alter a core aspect of your ID. Your personality. Your being. And force you to do it by holding a proverbial gun to your head (death by magical barrier). Then it's no longer considered a "cool" event, but rather a lovecraftian tragedy. Certainly I don't recall Superman forcing people to be good. Rather, he tried to appeal to their better natures and get them to achieve true change by leading by example.

I assert that it is the personality altering that people hold issue with, not the transformation into ponies. An interesting experiment to verify this, would be to write a story with the same premise, only the serum merely changes your state of mind without altering your physical body all. I'm certain just as many people would hold issue with it as they do with the ponification serum, though I could be wrong.

Additionally, I kind of disagree, in general since you mention few specifics, on your idea of the overall state of humanity. Sure, a lot of tragedies happen. There are a lot of terrible places. I have visited and befriended people in many of the worst of them as part of some of the work I've done through charity organizations. Heck, I was born and lived the first dozen years of my life in a very poor town in Mexico thoroughly dominated by vicious drug lords and their lackeys.

However, as a person who has made a career out of studying and analyzing the human condition (I'm a behavioral economist by education and trade), I have become utterly convinced that the world isn't nearly as badly off as some claim it is. Almost every historical trend (from life expectancy, to standard of living, to access to technological progress) is improving across the board (not just with the top two percent). For instance, a lot of people cite the wealth gap as a negative trend, but the reality of the situation is that while the gap between the elite and the poorest billion is growing larger, we now have a situation where there are several expanding levels in between those two filled with the majority of the world's population.

If you're curious about what makes me say this, I highly recommend reading up on some of Hans Roslng's ground breaking work. I've done some consulting work with his Gapminder foundation, and I found their use of reliable data and statistical analysis utterly brilliant.

Here are a couple of TED talks by him I highly recommend to get you started (if you're interested):

Hans Rosling: Let my dataset change your mindset

On Population Growth

Obviously the videos cover only very basic stuff, but his more complex work and research is mostly available online.

The immutability of the nature of man through learning is something on which we'll obviously have to agree to disagree on. I'm of the opinion that as information, globalization, and interdependence become more available, and as technological progress advances, we'll slowly leave these inner demons behind the way we left our roots as hunter gatherers. Through our own advancement. No magical cure required. We are actually predisposed, as a species, to be good and help each other in the face of disaster. If such self-sacrifice and cooperation is so inimical to our natures as to be reflex, then I have no qualms about holding out hope for the future.

Of course, you are absolutely welcome to your own opinion on the matter. I respect you all the more for how adamantly you defend it, and hope that sometime we can have some sort of open, informative discourse in the subject. No one's mind was ever changed through an argument... but open, honest discussion can engender new world views and epiphanies.

Finally, I am very interested in what you think of the rest of my last post, since this response only addressed my question about your dismissal of critics. Which, by the way, you made a fair point about. However, there are many legitimate concerns critics of the TCB universe (and your version of it) have brought up as well, and I'd love to read what your take is on them.

Sincerely,

Invictus

#25 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>218807

>>218838

Meliron - Did I once say there was no ethical or nice people? No, that is entirely you, inventing reasons to chew at my throat. Your drive to 'win' is clouding your reasoning. You can't 'win' anything here, because there is no argument to win. I don't give a crap. I am willing to answer the odd question, if it suits or amuses me.

Any person who enjoys defining themselves as an asshole, a dick, or a trouble making bad sort is by definition broken. They need to be fixed, not encouraged. Being an asshole is not a lifestyle choice, it is a mental illness and it demands treatment. In the worst case, assholes are arrested by the appointed enforcers of the society, and put where their assholiness can either be treated or isolated.

"Do you want to read about the guy who had to go on an epic adventure to find talismans to defeat a great evil, or about the guy who had said talismans delivered to his front door by the mail-man?"

There are a thousand stories of Heroic Quests, they are the oldest form of storytelling. See Joseph Campbell. I would MUCH prefer the story of the mailman bringing powerful talismans to the front door. THAT is pure imagination! That is novel and interesting as hell! What kind of world would make that possible? How would the sudden arrival of so much power change the life of the man, and everyone and everything around him? Is there a price? If the power is unwanted, can he return it? Do the talismans solve problems or create more? Goddess, I would ABSOLUTELY want to read the story of the talisman-by-mail! What a cool idea! I have read a thousand too many stories of dragon-slaying talisman collectors, and I have played that RPG to death. I am bored sick of it. Yes, bring on the talisman-by-mail story. You should write it, Meliron, it is lightning in a bottle.

Invictus - Superman ALWAYS forces people to be good. So does every enforcer that ever lived. All power over others begins and ends with the threat, or the act, of violence. Superman is a cop, an enforcer. His existence means that some activities will be stopped, by incredible physical and magical force: either eye-beams, invulnerability, flight, or a fist harder than steel. Superman is a gun held to the head of every super villain. That is is job, his purpose, the only reason he exists. To fight. To display force, to have power over others. Every single Superman (or any other superhero) comic is always about just that. Do what Supes wants, or face his magical fist. The end.

The fact that statistics shows that overall Mankind is doing better is nice and all, but it is bullshit. The vast majority of humankind lives in slavery - either economic slavery, cultural or religious slavery, military slavery, or actual real slavery, while the wealthy elite - that is you and me, the sort of person who can afford the time to argue on fancy computers in our extant leisure time - enjoy our fine lives on the backs of our invisible slaves.

This doesn't have to be. It could have ended, could end, at any time, just by humanity going "Shit! We've built an entire history based on things rather than people, on wealth rather than life, on economics rather than sharing! Let's all just stop! It's wrong!"

Only that is never, ever, ever going to happen. Why? Because we have always, always wanted things just the way they are, because we are a hunter-gatherer primate with a lust for authoritarian Graybacks and hierarchical representations of worth. That is what we are, not who we are, WHAT. Until that biological truth of our evolution is profoundly altered - by becoming machine people, by re-writing our genes deliberately, by drinking ponification serum - we can put all the lipstick we want on our collective pig, but realistically - we still smell, and taste, like pork.

Of course Man can change, I never once said Man is immutable. But evolution takes hundreds of thousands of years even on the fast track, so that avenue is out if we expect Nature to save our bacon. We will have to change ourselves, physically, biochemically, biologically, entirely. And people won't accept that, they will reject that. So they will need to be forced to be better, and we are full circle to Superman again, aren't we?

But then we've always forced people to do what they 'should' do, what someone wants them to do, rather than what they freely wish to do - because it is the only way to have a civilization in the first place. Let people do whatever they want, and it's Lord Of The Flies with adults all over the place. Gangs, wars, rape and pillage. Basically the entirety of human history, because - as a planet - we have been utterly free already to do whatever we want. And what do we want? Power. Wealth. More. More and more and more, no matter the cost, no matter who it hurts in the end.

Man is not to blame for that, of course. Man is a victim of Nature, of evolution, of what it takes to survive in the savannah. We ended up in business suits with heads full of Noble Ideals, but every cut-throat capitalist or dominating Party Leader is still just playing Grayback to the other apes, and all for More. And More. And More. Because that is how a tribe survives - off of the land, and off of the last successful raid of the weaker tribe.

As always, ever was, ever will be.

Until Man itself is changed.

Enter me, and my winning-the-lottery story of a cure for What Ails Man. It has to be enforced, because humans would never take it willingly. Some would, but not the majority. The Barrier is Superman, and Humanity is Lex Luthor - it really is, dammit, god, is it ever - and potion is Rehabilitation.

It is a happy fantasy. A magic fairy wish that fixes the world, and from which all the bad people cannot escape. It's a native American Ghost Dance, praying that the ancestral land will roll up like a big carpet and wash all the invading Europeans into the sea, whilst magically bringing all the dead back to life from their exposed bones under the ground.

I write Ghost Dance stories to make myself feel better. Because freezing my ass off on this reservation is too hurtful to cope with. Because I've seen the future and Orwell was right. Because it pleases me to do so.

And that... is never, ever, ever going to change one bit.

You see, I am writing the exact sort of story I most want to read.

That means that the only criticism I will listen to is from people who also like this sort of story, and have suggestions on how I can achieve the goal of writing just this sort of story even better.

#26 · 133w, 2d ago · · ·

>>219174

On your first point, I believe I simply misinterpreted your words. No, I wasn't making that up to attack you. I genuinely thought that was what you had said. My apologies, and if I could rescind that I would.

On the second, I don't believe being an asshole is a mental "condition". I believe it is a state of mind belonging to some people. Is it a good sort of mind? In my opinion, no, but that doesn't put it on the level of an actual serious mental condition. Yes, they are generally seperated from the community simply because the community doesn't tolerate them if they are at a certain level of assholishness if you will, but I was mainly talking about those everyday guys/gals you see that just don't act kind and nice and are on most occasions rude, but they aren't outright hostile. In any case, I only meant to convey that you can't judge all of humanity on one principle that you believe they all share, because it's not necessarily true.

On the third ... touche, Chatoyance. Albeit not the answer I was expecting, I can see your reasoning behind it. I think we may have to agree to disagree here. Although, if I ever do get around to writing a story I may do just that.

If I may be so bold as to state that you seem to be ignoring my arguments that I believe to be valid. I would truly like to see your answers to them. I really would like to see your reasoning behind it.

Last thing:

That means that the only criticism I will listen to is from people who also like this sort of story, and have suggestions on how I can achieve the goal of writing just this sort of story even better.

Please don't tell me you're serious. You are going to flat out refuse any sort of criticism from anyone who isn't a fan of your little universe? Wouldn't it make sense if they dislike it for a reason, and therefore they have an idea to make it better? And then, both parties prosper!

Of course, by all means go ahead and ignore the dicks who don't help or state any possible improvement. Just don't flat out refuse advice because the people giving it don't like what you're writing. It's foolish.

#27 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>219215 "Of course, by all means go ahead and ignore the dicks who don't help or state any possible improvement. Just don't flat out refuse advice because the people giving it don't like what you're writing. It's foolish."

Let me rephrase it then - if a person were to provide me with advice that actually assisted me in accomplishing my stated goals more successfully, then it would not matter to me whether or not they actually liked my work, so long as they were polite, helpful, and did not belabor just how much they disliked my work, or me, or everything I stand for or do.

Useful information is valid regardless of the source.

But I will not stand for being treated poorly. That is the bottom line here.

This is a My Little Pony fiction site. The expectation is that Ponies are awesome, and that the Pony ethic rules: Love and Compassion. Someone can politely say they don't like my works, and they are only being a little dickish - really, why do I need to know that? I don't. It is useless information to me. It may be important to them, that they don't like my work, but how does that help me? How does knowing that help me feel good? How is that kind? It isn't.

But if a person can point out that I can get more value from my descriptions by employing fewer adverbs, or that using semi-colons are not as effective as just using commas correctly - that is useful information. I want that. That is helping me do what I do, without dumping personal judgements all over me. That's fantastic. That's being helpful and kind.

A kind person helps you how to accomplish your own goals.

An asshole demands to know WHY you have those goals at all.

A person can be utterly kind and not like the person or the work they are assisting at all. Kindness doesn't care. It's just kind.

Of course I would listen to any kind person. Always. But never confuse kindness... with feigned politeness. Many an attack comes in velvet gloves.

#28 · 133w, 2d ago · · ·

>>219241

True enough Chatoyance. Although, once again, my views are slightly different, but I feel no need to state them. Sadly, you have completely ignored my original inquiry towards you, and for that you have lost some respect in my eyes. You know, all I wanted to do when I posted a comment was to try and understand your point of view on a few things regarding TCB. I can safely say that I am leaving with more knowledge about you yourself, but unfortunately, not about what I wanted to know about in the first place. Oh well, you win some you lose some. Have a good day Chatoyance, and keep on doing what you like.

#29 · 133w, 2d ago · · ·

>>219281

It's likely I have forgotten, or misunderstood your primary question. Ask it again, as simply as possible, and I will answer.

#30 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>219174

You make a fair point with your superman comparison, except I think you missed something. There's a fine, but extremely important, line between providing consequences for actions (which is what an enforcer does) and removing the capacity for taking an action altogether. The barrier isn't a consequence, it's a gun to your head forcing you to take a specific action. And the serum isn't an enforcer, it's a removal of an aspect of free will. Gandhi actually elucidated this much more elegantly than I ever will when he said: 

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right."

There is even an actual storyline (if I recall my DC history) where superman switches from enforcing the law to putting himself above it. Forcing people to behave under threat of death and through preemptive action. Let's just say it didn't end well.

The question of free will is never a black and white one. No one wants assholes around, but I personally feel that free will is too high a cost to pay. Of course, that's getting into opinion and philosophy, which have no right answer.

Additionally, I think you also have a different opinion from mine on what constitutes human nature. I'm a proponent of the idea that human nature is one of curiosity and endless expansion. Often, that can lead to conflict, but I propose that that conflict is more often a product of circumstance. Scarcity and misunderstanding are the main drivers of conflict, rather than some internal hard-wiring. I think of it as applying the well-understood concept of Attribution Error (or, rather, avoiding it) on a population rather than an individual.

The reason I think conflict is a constant throughout history is that those two extant circumstances are constants as well. However, those circumstances are things we can do something to reduce, or even eliminate altogether, through technological and social advancement. Again, I point to Hans Rosling's research as an indicator that this is true, seeing as how conflict and death as a percentage of our expense (in money and lives) have declined in correlation to the increasing standards of living and availability of information. Again, it's fascinating research.

In other words, our nature itself is relatively neutral (as often as it leads to conflict, it also leads to progress and discovery), and its end result changes according to the circumstances under which we find ourselves. Change the circumstances and we can achieve the same results as a magical serum without having to rid ourselves of our history or fundamentally alter our personalities.

Of course, each of our theories has merits, and only time (far more than either of us has, I suspect) can prove either one right.

I should also note that this view you propose of an irredeemable (without magic, anyway) human nature is, I suspect, the reason so many people are so quick to call you a misanthropist. Regardless of how accurate or true to life your view turns out to be, that's irrelevant to the definition of the word. Misanthropy is a distaste/hatred for humanity or human nature. Whether there's a good reason to hate human nature or not is irrelevant to the definition. And, from what you've written in the previous comments, I can see why some people would call you that. You clearly dislike certain prevalent traits that you believe are part of our natures as humans. Which would technically make you fit the strict definition of the word. 

Now, whether you fit all of the negative social connotations of the word is a different argument. I suspect you do not.

Anyway, that's my two cents on all this. Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond. I found the discussion to be very enlightening and entertaining and I hope we can communicate like this again at some point. 

It occurs to me that others' opinions of you matter very little to you, but I would still like you to know that I do like and respect you (in spite of whatever differences of opinion we may have). 

Wishing you the best,

Invictus

#31 · 133w, 2d ago · · ·

>>219285

As I have stated more than once, I would like to know your reasoning behind always "upilfting humanity" in your stories. As in, how does it work when you deliberately destroy parts of humanity so that they can become ponies? I want to know how you believe you are uplifting the "triumphant spirit of man" in this setting, because frankly I don't see it.

#32 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>219823

Humanity is a divided creature. Man is both good and evil, selfish and altruistic. These conflicting components are necessary for a primate to survive in a world of scarcity and danger.

For most of Humankind's existence, it was well suited to survival; altruistic and cooperative when resources were plentiful, ruthless, warlike, vicious and greedy when resources were scarce. The tribe of Man that survives is the one that raids and kills the others when the famine hits. It is evil as hell, but it is necessary for species survival.

Now we live in an age where all the rules have changed. Evolution did not prepare Man to travel seventy miles and hour in a vehicle, or to have so much food that our own cravings for fat and sugar lead to our early deaths. The human drive to conquer, raid and kill that once kept the species alive on ancient savannahs now threatens the survival of the entire planetary ecosystem. Those ancient drives are incompatible with nuclear weapons, biowarfare, and Mutually Assured Destruction of all kinds. Our primate hunter-gatherer side is our greatest enemy now. Mankind's biggest problem is... it's own meat.

Human Ideals yearn for a human spirit driven by angelic kindness, sharing and compassion - a world of mutuality and communality instead of dominance and aggression. But the genes inside Man drive him to excesses of every kind, to war, to greed, to rape and pillage of the environment. We are ape-men in a world of plenty, yet still stuffing our faces until we die. And the world of plenty is rapidly running out. When it goes, we go.

In order to survive, humanity needs to grow up - and by that I mean drastically change. If Man cannot get rid of those ancient drives hard-wired into the very brain itself, then it is likely Man will become extinct at his own hand.

"As in, how does it work when you deliberately destroy parts of humanity so that they can become ponies? I want to know how you believe you are uplifting the "triumphant spirit of man" in this setting, because frankly I don't see it. "

If the dark, destructive, violent, greedy, selfish, warlike, and cruel parts of Man are not removed, somehow, by whatever means  - ponies or uploading consciousness or genetic rewriting of the human genome or fairies or whatever - then the same hand that can spear a neighboring tribesman to take his food, or his woman, or his cool-looking necklace, is the same hand that will push the button that drops the nukes... or releases the superplague... or cuts down the last tree... leading to the extinction of all life on earth.

When you grow up, the primary purpose of school is not to teach you facts - school is boot camp for human interaction. That is the real point of being 'raised' - to make a selfish child learn to defer pleasure and become generous and polite with others. It is what makes civilization possible. Otherwise, we would all be at each other's throats like cave-men, which is what in truth we all are.

When you are taught to be mutual, to get along with others, something is taken from you against your will. You have your selfishness dimmed, your feeling that you are the center of everything crushed. You have your sense of being able to do no wrong beaten out of you. You lose a lot. But it is necessary, so that you can live with others, and so that we all can live together. Children are 'uplifted' into adults. Children without such training will easily end up killing each other - and yes, real studies have been done on this, it is fact.

So, with adults, what is the next step, the next 'uplifting' the next schooling? Beating adults into submission only works to a point, and then they rebel, and you have war. With nukes. So that is not the answer. You cannot train man to always be Good.

So the bad parts, the useless parts that once served humanity when killing the neighbors for their food was a good thing - that has to go. You cannot have a peaceful world until that goes. No religion, or social plan, or form of government can overcome the natural drives of man. That is why Communism failed - in the end, while it looked good on paper, it cannot apply to humans. Humans are too selfish. Humans will not share on that scale, because they didn't evolve to share on that scale. Tribe before all, family before tribe.

That is why my 'ponification' removes evil. 'Evil' - tribalism, bigotry, selfishness, greed, violence, cruelty - is what is lost in my ponification process. It needs to be removed for a human to finally even be ABLE to live up to the ideals of constant, universal kindness, compassion for all living things, love for all things, sharing with all, caring for all, respect for all others. Evil has to go, or we, as a species, will perish in the end - we are biologically incapable of being good all of the time. And we have to find a way to be good all the time, or else... one day.... will be the last day for Mankind.

Neither you nor I can go though an entire week without getting mad at something, or someone, or wanting something we can't have, or not wanting to share something for whatever reason. It is impossible. We aren't built to be that nice, and no amount of training or being beaten will change that.

That is why something is 'lost' in Ponification. Evil is lost, and goodness is enhanced. Compassion is enhanced. Selfishness is reduced. In a nutshell, that is the entire pony change, right there. Just those two things.

If you are super-compassionate, you care about others and naturally would share with them and not want to hurt anyone. Violence of any kind would instantly become unpleasant. Stealing and raping and pillaging would be unthinkable. And nuking another civilization would be utterly impossible, just as war would be.

If you are super-generous, all things are shared, and you would never be selfish with your time, your energy, or your resources. No one would go hungry, no one would lack for anything.

This is currently impossible.

"As in, how does it work when you deliberately destroy parts of humanity so that they can become ponies?"

What is being destroyed? Evil. The ability to be evil is the only thing destroyed during ponification in my stories - nothing else is lost.

Evil is not a triumphant part of Humanity - quite the opposite, it is the least triumphant part of being human.

I believe I have over-answered your question to the point of beating it into the dirt. This should be a very dead subject now. To object to the mental changes in my description of ponification is to effectively state that Evil is desirable, worthwhile, and precious. And any species that considers Evil to be good, is a species that is doomed to become extinct - and which, frankly, SHOULD become extinct.




#33 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>219748

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right."

Gandhi was talking about the freedom of political self-governance versus British rule, not issues of moral and ethical behavior. You are using his words out of context and applying them to subjects his words were never intended to address. On moral and ethical matters, Gandhi was very much in favor of depriving others of their freedoms, especially black people who he felt were biologically inferior and needed to be controlled like animals. He was quite clear on this matter. And quite outspoken.

So politically, Gandhi was all about freedom - for India, alone. In terms of moral and ethical behavior, he was quite the narrow little bigot, and the strict little bastard. He is a very bad choice to quote around me, because I have studied his checkered past - and it is VERY checkered.

"The question of free will is never a black and white one. No one wants assholes around, but I personally feel that free will is too high a cost to pay."

I presume you will be murdering and raping and stealing this afternoon? And you won't mind, philosophically at least, if someone does the same to you? Yes, I am being facetious, but with a point - you already pay a vast price in free will, and you do so gladly.

You have already paid the vast majority of your free will in exchange for safety, food, shelter, companionship, and material goods. You have done so partly because you were forced to against your will, and partly because you are a willing accomplice in your own loss of free will. You have been trained, against your will, to sacrifice your freedom to follow 'rules', and you gladly accept additional losses of free will to avoid being imprisoned or killed, with the happy joy of knowing that others will also be imprisoned or killed if they do not do the same.  

In this way, Civilization is possible at all. You have paid for your seat in society with the coin of your free will. You have paid most of your free will for this. Virtually all of your free will. Now you live in a clockwork world of sleep, job, lunch, job, commute, dinner, a speck of recreation, sleep - repeat until dead. Occasionally you may enjoy the illusion of free will when you go on holiday - but even that is shallow. You have to follow the rules wherever you go, do you not?

And this is a GOOD thing. Without the loss of 90% of all free will, Mankind would die in a great cluster-fuck of violence and rapine. Society would disintegrate and and it would be raiding tribes and starvation until inevitable extinction.

Ponification takes only that bit of free will that innately, biologically demands violence, greed, selfishness and cruelty. That is all that it takes, nothing more. It provides additional compassion, love, empathy, and sharing... along with a higher background level of 'feel-good' chemistry. The result is a species that does not need laws anymore, because the set of free-will behaviors no longer includes evil as an option.

So, from that perspective, the loss of evil means total free will is actually gained, not lost. If a species doesn't wish to harm or hurt or destroy anything or anyone, then criminal law is unnecessary. Enforcers are unnecessary, except as protection from alien foes. Note that there are no police in Equestria. Note that Celestia's guards are mostly ceremonial, and only fight outsiders.

My ponified characters can do absolutely anything they want to do. Total and absolute free will. They just don't want to murder, rape, steal, hurt, torture, slaughter or destroy anymore, they don't even like thinking about such things. 'Evil' is no longer within their option set.

Free will is only what our genes tell us we should want. With different, nicer genes, our free will is untouched - only the violence is gone, and any species that things that evil is good.... is a species doomed to go extinct - and it should go extinct.

#34 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>220235

I realize, of course, that that quote is out of context, and that Ghandi was not nearly the perfect saint people make him out to be (heck, there's evidence he may even have had a penchant for young girls in not entirely pleasant ways). However, I used the quote with the full knowledge of that and in the belief that the words of that quote, by themselves and regardless of the intent of the speaker, convey a profound truth.

And I have not given up my free will. Why? Because at any time I can choose to give up this life of comfort for something different. Harder, in many cases perhaps, but different. In fact, I have, as have many people. I have given up my job to seek new ventures. I have lived with and as the locals do in Nigeria, China, and Brazil. I have known the pain of near starvation, as well as the fruits of hedonism. My job is my recreation and my recreation is the adventures I have while achieving my own self-fulfillment.

Perhaps not everyone chooses the uncertain life, but the choice is there (hence, the free will). And there are many of us who choose to take it.

In my travels, I learned one very important thing: Even in the depths of poverty and despair, people have an amazing capacity for finding happiness and fulfillment, often through their friends and family. Yes, not all do, and tragedy can always strike. But that capacity is always there.

And, again, if that little bit of free will... the capacity to do harm unto others... was the only cost. Then maybe it might be a worthwhile cost. Perhaps we could justify the means for such an ideal end. Then again, one could also say that true goodness arises from having the capacity to do evil, but choosing to do good instead. Much as bravery cannot be commended without the ability to feel fear.

Again, though, it is not the thought of these "ends" that I, and many of the critics of the TCBverse, protest. It is the means. To force your views upon upon others (via threat of death, no less) requires a level of disregard for their own wishes that verges on sociopathic. "This is how things should be, so be that way or die." it's not a happy thought. And it seems like the whole of mankind is being convicted of crimes most of us will never commit. Most of us, at worst, will be guilty of minor offenses. Some pride or selfishness perhaps. But even the season 1 ponies were guilty of that. I distinctly recall a certain blue coated show are displaying some dangerous disregard for the feelings and safety of the ponies around her.

Perhaps one could argue the institution of "ponification" as a punishment for serious crimes done. That seems a more compromising solution. It certainly feels more like consequence than judgement. Who knows?

More so, I reiterate my previous point about "surrender". I firmly believe that this is a goal we can achieve in time, entirely on our own. Accepting magical fix from an alien reflection of ourselves seems defeatist to me... but I admit to a certain level of pride in myself and my species.

Again though, this is all purely speculation. and it touches on issues too complex that we could not possibly discuss them in depth here. Such is the complexity of human nature. However, I encourage you to keep writing. I encourage you to keep learning, and living, and loving, and contributing. and of course, to disagree... because it is a part of your free will to have the ability to hold conflicting ideas and defend them in discourse.

So, to sum up my views and bring closure to my own contributions to this conversation (for now, at least), I'll leave you with my favorite quote from one of my favorite authors of all time (this one affirmed by its context.)

"And finally, I believe in my whole race. Yellow, white, black, red, brown — in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability … and goodness … .of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth, that we always make it just by the skin of our teeth — but that we will always make it … survive … endure. I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching, oversize brain case and the opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes, will endure — will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets, to the stars, and beyond, carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage — and his noble essential decency.

This I believe with all my heart."

-Ray Bradbury

Sincerely,

Invictus

#35 · 133w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

>>220430 "To force your views upon upon others (via threat of death, no less) requires a level of disregard for their own wishes that verges on sociopathic."

So many times I have carefully stated the obvious, and so many times you have failed to see it.

It doesn't matter whether you choose to live in the third world, or in the first. It doesn't matter where you go - so long as there is one other person near you, you have already sold your free will. Your full free will ends the moment there is any rule or agreement (such as 'I won't steal your stuff if you don't steal mine), and that loss of free will is enforced, against your will, by violence. It does not matter if the enforcement is by nuke, or gun, or social shunning or the fist or the machete of a tribal chief.

You always lose your free will against your wishes. Always. Because always inside you is the spoiled child, the cave man, who doesn't want to have to share, or follow the rules, however much you consciously choose to sell your full free will for a gain.

But this is moot: you have no free will to begin with. You sacrifice one illusion for another - and I am not speaking in metaphysics, I am talking biology.

What is your free will? It is your choices. Why do you choose? Because you desire. Where do you get your desires, are they your own invention? NO.

You want what your genes tell you to want, which is sweet and fat and nutrition packed. That isn't your choice. You want more tasty stuff because evolution decided that choice for you. It also decided how much you want space, material possessions, power, dominance, sex, rest, social contact, freedom, protection, shelter and every other single thing. In studies of separated twins, it has been demonstrated that you do not even choose your own favorite color. So what is your free will then? It is an illusion. A very compelling one, to be sure.

But, you say - alright, I admit that the set of every single thing I could want or shun is predetermined by evolution and my genes, so my free will cannot be my likes and dislikes, nor my wants nor desires. AHA! You say - I can still choose, freely, whether I act on those predetermined genetic drives! I can refuse to be their slave!

No. The ability to defer pleasure, to deny our drives is itself a genetic component, and is easily seen as the evolutionary advantage it is. Those who can defer their immediate innate drives for longterm gains have a survival advantage, and so it is that these traits can be followed and studied. Your choice to not choose is not free will either.

If you truly had free will, real free will, you would not be controlled by your primate flesh. No human has experienced this. Perhaps, someday, machine beings might, if we don't fill them with pre-programmed desires.... such as we ourselves have.

But back to the topic at hand - it is not my problem that some people hate my stories of people being given the gift of freedom from evil, because they imagine that the loss of evil is somehow a 'bad' thing. Those too unaware to comprehend that they already have their free will stolen by the necessity of living in a society of rules and laws are... well they have a lot of learning to do, however old or experienced they are... whatever they experienced was not understood.

In a jungle, in a tribe, there are rules. And if you don't follow them, you will be punished, against your will. If you are stranded on a desert island with but one other person, and you cross them, you will be beaten, or forced to fight. Your freedom must always be compromised merely to survive, and as much as the childish cave man inside you argues otherwise, it is nevertheless a fact.

My ponification is not like having a perfect policeman inside your head, keeping you honest.

My ponification is like being freed from evolutionary biology enough to stop wanting to harm those that offend, steal from those that have, and gain status in order to dominate. Ponification is one step closer to true free will, rather than the loss of free will.

The problem is that our free will is already gone because of cruel biological drives. Ponification erases the cruel commands and leaves only the minimal set involved with altruism.

What the hard of thinking see as 'loss of free will' is actually a reduction in their inbuilt command directives, permitting them more free will. Every moment every person is being told, inside, by the meat, to be a cave man, a hairless, cruel primate that has needs and drives. Ponification takes those cave man orders out of the equation - what is left is a free mind no longer being pushed to be the cruel ape anymore.

The superpower of 'not being a dick' is actually the superpower of being freed from the chains and shackles of being a damn dirty ape.

With less commands, there is more freedom.

#36 · 133w, 2d ago · · ·

>>220160

Woah, you've got some strong views there.

But then I have a rebuttal for you. Celestia. Your Celestia actually stated that she knew what would happen and that she is responsible for what happened. And she feels no remorse. In this case, you could see it as Celestia thinking she was right and doing what she believes is right, but so did the Crusades. And look what happened there. In this case, evil is dependent on perception, and I see that deliberate action as being evil. She forcibly took over the entirety of the Earth by simply forcing conversion or death. That is what it is. It's almost like ... Charlemagne. Now that's a scary thought ... one which you share and believe.

So then, evil is still existent among ponies, and furthermore, existent in their ruler. Well, that's awful nice isn't it? By your own definition, ponies should be extinct in your universe, because they consider Celestia, a being capable of evil actions and who exercised that capability, a good and supreme being. Huh, fancy that.

#37 · 133w, 1d ago · 1 · ·

>>220700

No. I think you fail to grasp a fundamental issue here.

In our universe, Mundis, there is no absolute morality whatsoever. Morality is what we say it is, it is a human invention. Yes, morality and ethics are derived from our genes, from our evolutionary past - altruism has survival value, as does trust and self-sacrifice (Take One For The Team!) and all the underlying basis for morality...  but none of that has any more purpose to it than any other part of the natural world. It exists because the machine of it works, and that is the only reason at all.

We live in an entropic, soulless, mechanical universe of physics and matter and energy, and everything that happens is a product of randomness with a ratchet. There are no gods, there is no magic, and we are just stuck here - poor primates with delusions of grandeur, imagining that our lives mean something, and that our imagined right or wrong extends beyond us. It does not.

So, in that context, the Crusades are indeed evil, as you say, because they are just a big dominance grab for land and resources - one tribe raiding another, genocide for profit, justified by fairy tales.

But in my fiction - Celestia and Luna really are goddesses. They really truly are magic beings from a magical land where magic pours out of the faucets for free and magic, real magic is in every bite and under every rock. In my fiction, Equestria, being so magical, actually has really real souls and a really real afterlife, and... Mundis, our universe does not.

In my stories, when a Man dies, he is gone forever and ever and ever. Dead is dead. That's it. No purpose, no meaning, no point, just biological machines suffering in the dark. That is us.

So, when a real, authentic goddess and her sister show up, they literally ARE an objective, absolute morality. I have painted them as being Utterly Good. They are embodiments of Compassion itself. So, what they do is not arbitrary. What they do is moral, always. Because they are magic gods of Goodness.

Thus, when Celestia invades our universe and puts humans in the position of 'convert or die' she is literally saving our very souls - or rather, manufacturing souls for us to have. We don't have souls. She is providing them, so we don't just vanish to oblivion forever, as though we never mattered at all.

And those humans who resist? The suffering of a species that has no future, no hope and no soul is beyond comprehension. It is the most utterly nihilistic thing possible. When they die, that's it, and no species lives forever in an entropic, dead universe.

By turning humans into ponies, she is saving what we are, and preventing the loss of what we are from eventually vanishing forever. Her word is law, her actions are moral, because unlike the Crusades or any other example - in my stories Celestia is actually, really, genuinely saving humankind from oblivion.

Saving an entire species from utter extinction forever and ever is about the most moral and Good thing it is possible to do, and that would be true even here, even without a magical land of Pony Gods.

That's the big joke in all of my stories, you see.

Throughout history, Man has done the most terrible things in the name of nonexistent gods.

But in my fiction, the gods are real, and they are called Celestia and Luna, and all the fake crap that mankind does for religion doesn't apply at all. Why? Because unlike human gods, in my stories, Equestria is really magic, souls are really real, and Celestia really, actually is an expression of a factual Absolute Morality. She can make mistakes, because she cannot know everything - but she can Do No Wrong, because what is right or wrong belongs to the Eternal, which she literally is.

Get it? Get the joke?

In my stories, humans are really, actually being offered immortality, they don't entirely grasp it, and many reject it, but good 'ol Celestia is screwing up her own universe to save us anyway, out of true compassion, love and grief over our terrible fate.

It's every religious myth, made real, only painted in ponies - and the best part of the joke is that the people who hate me the most for it probably believe in gods that do exactly the same thing that I am depicting, and they excuse those gods in every imaginable way. In short, utter hypocrisy, and I get to enjoy them making fools of themselves complaining to me about 'immorality!'

In my stories, Celestia is pony Jesus - and a lot of people, when presented with the mechanics of how 'savioring' works (believe in me or die, believe in me or suffer in hell, do what I say or suffer for eternity), they HATE it! And it is likely what they actually believe themselves, only they can't see that. Or admit it. Or deal with it.

So - all the arguments about how 'immoral' and 'evil' my Celestia is are really just people looking at the myth of Jesus (and other savior types) and judging the whole concept of having to bow to a savior as evil, and likely, they don't even realize it.

And it is pretty evil, if you think about it - the Jesus myth, not my Celestia. Why? Because all Celestia asks in exchange for immortality and peace and paradise is "Join us! Wear hooves and be peaceful!". But what every other god or savior or deity wants is nothing less than total obedience, total worship, total acceptance of a narrow belief system and often the open slaughter or domination of all others in the bargain. If you don't accept, well it's an eternity of punishment for you.

You know what happens to humans in my story that don't accept Celestia's offer? Nothing. Nothing at all. They were going to die and cease to exist forever anyway, and when that happens, that is literally nothing. Celestia is just making sure there are no more meat machines being born, because she doesn't want any more pointless suffering ending in oblivion. That is why she is wiping out the human species in our universe - for the same reason we put a dog out of misery, when it is too old and sick, and nothing can be done anymore. It's a kindness. Because life in Mundis, our universe, is harsh and terrible.

But not in Equestria, where glowing magic is in every single thing, where everything is alive with souls, where all goodness lives.

So, is Celestia moral and good? Of course she is. Duh. If she was sensible, she would never have tried to help mankind at all. We are ungrateful bastards at best. But... my Celestia is just plain too compassionate. Plus she keeps her promises.

#38 · 133w, 1d ago · · ·

>>221280

Okay, I concede. I wish to stop this now. My own views clash far too much with yours for this to ever lead anywhere. It would never end, so there is no point. Perhaps you saw this before I did, and were simply obliging my curiousity. If this is the case then I thank you.

I do see your reasoning behind these ideas, and I didn't even notice the religious joke in there, which made me laugh (I am an atheist fyi). I can respect your ideas, and your writing, although I do not agree with them. Anyway, thanks for having this discussion with me. Although I still am not a fan of the idea, I leave here today with a firmer grasp on why people like it, and why you wrote it.

Good bye Chatoyance, and have a good one.

#39 · 133w, 9h ago · 1 · ·

Greetings Chatoyance

Interesting this is the first time I've ever seen anyone do an interview of themselves.  Though I can't say I've ever heard of a co-wife or someone having three spouses before.  Mind elaborating on that point.  I was coming here to bid you adu with the rest of this Conversion Bureau stuff since I've decided that its cursed, but I have had a change of heart after reading it would appear that your far more facinating then I could possibly have imaged.  

Therefore I have decided to keep my eye on you.  You should be flattered that you've caught my attention since it means I beginning to like you Chatoyance.  That and I feel bad for so woefully misjuging you.  

However I still do not care much for these conversion bureau stories.  Mostly because the idea fills me with dread, and yet I keep coming back for reasons I do not understand so odviously its cursed.  That or fate is mad at me for some reason.  

So I have a feeling I'll be seeing you again my strange enigma So long.  Mothra! <jumps on mothra flies away>

#40 · 133w, 7h ago · 1 · ·

>>224513

I love Mothra! I have the Mothra song in my mp3 collection. One of my spouses is a total G-Fan, and I have become one as well.

I also really like Gamera, too. Well to be fair, I have come to love all Kaiju movies, really. My favorites are King Ghidorah, Godzilla (of course), Gamera, Mothra, Baragon (Rainbow Beam... I wish they had done more with that) and Guilala / Girara - seriously. I like frikkin' Guilala. Weirdest of the bunch.

#41 · 132w, 6d ago · 1 · ·

>>224740

Nice! Its always nice to meet a fellow Kaiju fan most people think I'm wierd for liking cheesy japanese monster movies, and most freak out when they see what Mothra looks like.  I always find it funny though since my friends for the most part are all bronies so I often want to say oh look whos talkig Mr. I watch a show about ponies.

Oh well sorry for going on a tangent I'll see you around my strange enigma.  I look foreward to seeing more of what you come up with this strange case that is The conversion bureau!    

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