• Member Since 11th Mar, 2012
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GaPJaxie


It's fanfiction all the way down.

E

Celestia has an important lesson to teach Twilight -- she cannot bring harmony into the world until she finds it inside herself.

Written in one hour as part of the Quills and Sofas Speedwriting Competition.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 90 )

I think I've said it before, but my favorite stories are the ones that make the reader ask a question about some important topic. So glad to see this one published.

I musta missed this contest. Great piece. Good æsthetic. Asks a question I've asked before. Landed me gently with an answer. I'll need to reread this later; it's left me unsettled in an introspective way and I need more time to read, unpack, and repack my thoughts. Potentially my favorite speed write from you so far, but the competition is fierce.

Has been a while since this contest, so was happy to read it again with almost fresh eyes. I don't recall what I said in the contest, but the worldbuilding here, as in most everything I've seen from you, is excellent, and the introspection certainly got me thinking and doing some of my own.

garfan #4 · Apr 2nd, 2020 · · 2 ·

it's an AU so obviously things are different, but it's different enough that it does not feel true to any character besides Celestia and she is just functioning as any wise mentor would

Hmm, interesting, nice work

This was deep and provocative. I know this wasn't written for me, but I feel like this was written for me. There is an honored spot on my favorites list for this story. Thank you.

10161486

I'm really glad you feel that way! It was personal for me.

... Well that was a ton of mumbo jumbo horseapples that didn't make a lick of sense. Even more so than a lot of stories on this site.

It's not a bad story by an stretch. But I didn't get it.

R5h
R5h #9 · Apr 2nd, 2020 · · 6 ·

Today, Twilight learns racism is bad.

Because she is incredibly racist, apparently.

I feel like you've turned a bunch of characters into huge racist assholes when they aren't assholes in canon, so you could justify writing a story where Twilight learns not to do things that she canonically wouldn't do. And also you kind of affirm the racism too?

“Ember, a dragon.” Twilight’s wings ruffled against her sides, despite her best attempts to hold them still. “But that is only because of their innate abilities. They are a primitive, savage people.”

“So they are. And yet, you asked one to make you more like her. To teach you her art, for as fire is fickle and destructive and cruel, so must a good pyromancer comprehend savagery. You criticize her with your words, but admire her with your actions.”

Nailed it, Celestia. Nothing says "I'm teaching you how not to be racist" like agreeing about an entire race being primitive and savage. But it's okay! They're noble savages.

Jaxie, what on earth are you doing?

It looks like stories about introspection are the thing to write these days (provided you use a very, very small sample size of like, 2 authors).

garfan #11 · Apr 2nd, 2020 · · 2 ·

10161538

I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt that way

Okay...

lets go through piecemeal.

First someone already addressed the whole racism angle, so I won't belabor matters aside from saying they birth from other tribes, sooo...
also

Second: Celestia is, I assume, Empress, correct? By my understanding the eastern people are even more gaga over their royals then most to the point the Japanese, who I assume you're basing this off, referred to them as a god. In short she could munch like a cow and demand a milking after and no one would say boo. They might be offended perhaps, and she'd certainly be scolded for it, and wouldn't do it besides, but it could still happen if she wished.

Also she hefts the powers cosmic. How does the cake loving sun raising alicorn eat? However the fuck she wants.

Also Harmony is not an end unto itself. A nation could be harmonious, but that usually requires the sound of jackboots in the street.

Third I'm sort of, and I hate to be that guy, offended for my friends. I know japanese people and am fairly familiar with their culture and I'd imagine most would have face palmed over how fucking obscure Celestia, Twilight's bloody teacher, is being on this matter.

I do appreciate the message, and its well written, but something about this just rubs me the wrong way. So, upvote, but with reservations

You didn't really dismiss the idea that those cultures are inferior, but instead implied 'but we have much we can learn from them'. I was about to quote a particular passage, but it looks like R5h beat me to the example I was going to use.

Now, you can say something like; "I based unicorns on eastern culture where racism is a normal thing and they have problems adapting to other cultures and don't accept them at home. I tried to show that despite being raised in that culture, Twilight is still a good pony and has much to learn."

But the problem is, in how it addresses this, the point of the story becomes that xenophobia is valid, understandable, and based on accurate observations, and it is simply in Twilight's virtue that she is capable of overcoming that to be not-racist.

The kind of acceptance Twilight learns is still deeply "meritocratic", which is that there are worthy and unworthy examples of cultures - Griffons are okay because they make better houses than yours. Earth ponies are dumber and they'll drag your grades down, but they're charitable.

The problem with this moral is that it doesn't conflict with more nuanced kinds of racism. Like; "I'm not racist against black people, I just think black American culture is dangerous and violent". It's a very shallow kind of acceptance - what if Griffons didn't build better houses? Teaching a conditional acceptance only goes as far as the conditions you establish.

Also, you don't eat sushi with chopsticks. Why didn't Twilight just levitate the sushi?

10161538
I dunno. Celestia seems wiser than how she may first appear. This seems harsher than canon. Possibly more realistic, for certain definitions of realistic, such as actual weapons instead of pies. It strikes me that this Twilight has very stark views, black and white, you might say. One does not simply change a person's mind in one lesson (unless you're Starlight Glimmer in the bad old days), you introduce the possibility of change. Slow steps, igniting a spark of doubt and slowly, methodically, step-by-step, fanning the spark into a desire for change. And Twilight, seemingly no matter the incarnation, is quick on the uptake, once she comes around to the possibility that her worldview is possibly askew.
In short, I think this is an interesting take on a difficult subject, but with limitations of length, might be difficult to see what Celestia actually thinks. I feel like she's humoring Twilight a little in order to pick her battles but she will eventually enlighten her student.

This allegory about racism is invalid because the make-believe characters I love could never be racist.

10161695

it's far enough from the canon characters the allegory may as well be delivered by original characters, and in fact by using characters that do not fit the characterization needed for this story the writer creates a distraction from the allegory.

In fact, I don't think anyone is saying it is bad or invalid, but that it is poorly delivered because of either the above reason or because it doesn't deliver as strong a message as it thinks it does

10161714

I guess I disagree. I could absolutely see, say, Rarity behaving this way, if she were raised in the environment this story posits.

10161716
We've all read The Glass Blower, chief

10161716
well, duh.

Anyways, this story was a well-done one, although it is pretty clearly very AU.

The pure hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness Rarity exuded was quite an interesting scene indeed. For me casual racism is a hard concept to understand, kinda reminds me of certain people who talk about how "White People" are the reasons for most of the issues in America today.

Okay, so the intended takeaway from the this story has been clearly established. The meta takeaway is that the creation of good art cannot be rushed, no matter how talented the artist is. I mean, you wouldn't ask Van Gogh to paint a portrait in a day and expect it to be just as good, would you? If Jaxie had spent more than an hour writing this, he certainly would have been able to polish and expand it to a higher standard.

This is... really poorly executed. Writing an alternate universe is one thing, but writing one where the casual racism in it is so utterly blase is ridiculous. It's one thing to have an established period or environment where this kind of prejudice is a standard, but it's another thing entirely to have it written in a way that doesn't elicit the same feelings wrongness (however subtle) of reading about, oh, let's say a piece of historical fiction set in post-Civil War America... but still during segregation. The way the people (or ponies, in this case) should be able to communicate to the reader that there is something amiss. Here, I scrolled down to the author's note wondering what the fuck I had just read.

Mechanics and prose being fine aside, there's something so careless in the story itself. It's like if I tried publishing a normal piece of fluff about Twilight and Celestia playing at a park during the former's foalhood days, only inserted real-world racial slurs in every sixth word just to see people go off at me in the comments.

You've shown me a scene from this world where three characters we all know show signs of prejudice to other species. Okay. There's been stories tackling subjects like that before. This just isn't one of the good ones. It also neglects that for ponies, races would be more like breeds: earth ponies, unicorns, pegasi, crystal ponies, etc. What you're showing here is being species prejudice, something that isn't the same as the racism the audience knows. Creatures have an entirely different biology, magical abilities, and well... everything. Saying a species is savage certainly shows an edge of prejudice, but the same can't be said for... building houses? It feels more like they view the world in a kind of Noah's Ark parable where every creature has a job or place... something that can actually be applied to fantasy species and is just a simplified stereotype of some actual abilities these species have or could plausibly show. These angles don't make much sense if you're trying to show prejudice against the species themselves.

I've enjoyed some of your stories, but this definitely wasn't one of them. It doesn't have much substance and does feel like a thinly structured AU that does not have sensible internal workings to make the story sensible. It uses an 'X canon character is very prejudiced against this species' idea across multiple individuals without giving it much to make it float. Lies to Children had much better handling of these kinds of ideas and 81 Days encapsulated more realistic ideas of nation-wide conflicts between species. I understand that those are longfics, but it's not like I've never read a punchy short story by you. The ability to write brief scenes that flow well is clearly one you have, and if you focused on the story below the surface of this, you could have made this one of those stories. Yes, even with the prejudice.

zx29b #23 · Apr 3rd, 2020 · · 4 ·

This story was not about racism, that spooky intersectional Big Bad. It was about how our own self-constructed identities can blind us to practical reality. Twilight could eat her sushi if she would not stand upon tradition, whereas Celestia demonstrated practical behavior by dropping her useless chopsticks and eating in a practical if socially unacceptable manner. Rarity could have a better house if she were to make it out of bricks. Her life would be easier if she were to add handles to the door. Beyond that, the practical efficacy of new input from beyond the perceived culture inexorably overwhelms and destroys those tenets of cultural identity that at first decry them. Twilight takes lessons about magical fire from a dragon even as she regards dragons as barbaric. Rarity, despite her insistence upon adhering to convention, buys griffon magazines from which she draws inspiration and--most tellingly--orders materials. To the point, harmony is about recognizing those novel introductions for what they are and adapting to them without regard to the blinding effects of identity and convention.

I'm afraid those who do not understand samurai culture do not understand this story.

Ohh! I earned a down vote I earned a bunch of down votes.

10162060

This story was not about racism, that spooky intersectional Big Bad. It was about how our own self-constructed identities can blind us to practical reality. Twilight could eat her sushi if she would not stand upon tradition, whereas Celestia demonstrated practical behavior by dropping her useless chopsticks and eating in a practical if socially unacceptable manner.

YES, THANK YOU. :moustache:

I'm glad somebody got that!

I mean it was about racism a little bit, but the danger of self-constructed identity was a huge theme.

10162143

Can you be more specific? That describes a lot of my stories.

I enjoyed the reflection this story had. And a door that anyone can open is superior that a goodly proportion cannot.

Ohhh, so that's why you were editing this speed-write fic. :ajsmug:

Rarity getting incredibly defensive and upset reaction to Twilight's measured, honest and not at all confrontational hypothetical questions is the realest thing, I mean. Look at the comments.

Well, that was interesting, as not unexpected from you. :)
...Though apparently someone went on a downvote streak in the comments.
(Also, I know it's not the point of the story, but I find myself curious about pegasi in this world; we seem to have gotten significantly less information on them than on unicorns or earth ponies.)
[reads more of the comments]
...And I see that there's also some debate there whiiiiiich I think I shall not wade into at this particular moment.
[reads further]
Yup, sorry for the lack of more explicit support, but I've a queue of other things to do at the moment, and also tomorrow and the next day. Good luck, though!


10162060
Thank you for that analysis, though, it looks like; I had not thought of it quite that way.

Good stuff so long as one bears in mind it's meant to be taken as an allegory. If it weren't...

Well, this is admittedly making some assumptions about the world you present, but if Celestia understands the value other cultures can offer, why does this Equestria still exist in such a stratified and closed state?

Again, the allegory is strong, but the steps taken to reach it feel off.

Dispite the hot mess that is the comment section, this story is more popular than one would be led to believe.
I think quite a few people enjoyed this story, and it's closer to cannon than the discontent few who preach from their soap boxes would like to admit. I can see this being a possible reality if the unicorns developed a spell to combat the windigoes in the heartwarming episode or even an alternate reality from when GlimGlam tampered with time.

I don't see the racism that everyone is complaining about I see societal hierarchy Empress Celestia, unicorns, pegasai, earthponies, and below that every other barbaric creature that isn't a pony.

10162461

Well, that was interesting, as not unexpected from you. :)
...Though apparently someone went on a downvote streak in the comments.
(Also, I know it's not the point of the story, but I find myself curious about pegasi in this world; we seem to have gotten significantly less information on them than on unicorns or earth ponies.)

I did think about expanding it to talk more about pegasi, but I felt it would detract from the point -- the world building in this story is better done through implication.

[reads more of the comments]
...And I see that there's also some debate there whiiiiiich I think I shall not wade into at this particular moment.
[reads further]

That is wise!

Yup, sorry for the lack of more explicit support, but I've a queue of other things to do at the moment, and also tomorrow and the next day. Good luck, though!

Thanks man. Good to hear from you again :D

10162603

I don't see the racism that everyone is complaining about I see societal hierarchy Empress Celestia, unicorns, pegasai, earthponies, and below that every other barbaric creature that isn't a pony.

that's racism, since it is their race or species that establishes their place in the hierarchy

10162513

if Celestia understands the value other cultures can offer, why does this Equestria still exist in such a stratified and closed state?

I don't know if they're closed, there's at least open trade with Griffins and nobody bats an eye at Celestias own student learning from dragons. It just seems the more personal biases were allowed to develop and even Celestia can't exactly tell ponies to stop holding on to their own ideas of who they are and have to be so instead she's working with Twilight personally to realize her own biases.

Of course you can eat, Twilight. You could have eaten at any time.

The only pony holding Twilight back was herself and I think that's supposed to be true for their whole society?

10162340

It's kinda funny you say that, when the story just haphazardly mixes Japanese and Chinese Buddhism as if it was nothing. You know, kind of as if the story itself doesn't understand "samurai culture".

If this were any other story, doing so could be somewhat understandable. Pony equivalents of real-world cultural aspects and nations tend to be a portmanteau of what they're based on. It's just... again, not very well executed here and doesn't come across as purposeful and carefully done. Equestria had a lot of architecture and other elements inspired by European (Canterlot, Ponyville) and American (Manehattan, Sweet Apple Acres) aesthetics, including fantasy tropes derived from those cultures. When it comes more to distinct cultural elements melded together, I actually think of Dora who was intentionally designed to be Pan-Latina and of no specific heritage or the nations in Avatar and its sequel series, which were all highly detailed worlds inspired by real-life Asian countries.

...This is not that. I would have loved to read about self-constructed aspects of identity, but this isn't the story that tells it well. And it's a shame because a caste system AU with a cold Empress Celestia and a Twilight who is wayward in comparison to the princess we know is a good concept.

10162646
Yeah I guess that is true. There is racism here, but it's not about the racism.
Ya know, now that I wrote it down on paper it doesn't make as much sense as I thought it did in my head.
But I still like the story, so go ahead and down vote all my comments if you want.

R5h
R5h #39 · Apr 3rd, 2020 · · 1 ·

10162603
See, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

I don't see the racism that everyone is complaining about I see societal hierarchy Empress Celestia, unicorns, pegasai, earthponies, and below that every other barbaric creature that isn't a pony.

This story's most ardent defender is saying "I don't see any racism, just a bunch of superior ponies and all those barbaric creatures who are below them". And that sort of sums up the problem! This story is trying so hard to be about how racism is bad for you, but the way it goes about this is still really racist. Oh, those dragons have much to teach us about pyromancy—but they're still primitive savages. And those griffons can build houses real good—but they're still inferior and only really exist to help us superior unicorns learn about architecture. And maybe fabric.

The story says that Twilight's racism is bad, but the alternative it offers is Celestia's own brand of racist nonsense. And this is the moral of the story! Don't be racist like Twilight and Rarity; be racist like Celestia! It's the right thing to do.

For that reason, I have to differ with everyone who's said that the story works as an allegory, even if it screws up the characters to the extent that it needed an AU tag. I mean, yes, the characters are distorted and unrecognizable, but the allegory also fails because the moral of the allegory is terrible.

And what's troubling most of all is that it seems to have succeeded in communicating this messed-up message, as seen in my quote above. Which is to say: here is someone who's talking about the very clear racist underpinnings of the world, and denying that these things (IE, a hierarchy based on race) are racist. To me, that's proof that this story doesn't work on any level, and would require a drastic and complete overhaul to successfully deliver the themes you seem to be aiming for.

10162663

as a story it's fine. As a fanfiction of MLP it's lacking, and as an allegory, well it's there but it's message is rather weak

"Deep and provocative" sounds about right. Quite an interesting read!

Also, now I really want some sushi. :raritydespair:

10162662
Personally I think this was one of Time Crunch.The author does state this was as part a speed writing thing. This sort of stuff needs to be fleshed out more.

10162662
I never said Samurai culture was good, nor did I say it made sense, and I am certainly no expert.
And I agree with your point, aside from placing mlp characters in an alien setting this story has almost nothing to do about my little pony.
But sadly many of us forget it's not our place to decide which stories exist, only which stories we read. And yet here we are.
Am i wrong, probably. Do i have a point, even i dont know? Am i having fun just talking to hear my own voice? yes you tell me! Why is my username "accidentally offensive" I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

10162696
That could be the case, but the author hasn't acknowledged that so far, judging by Jaxie's comments as of the time typing this. If you look in the WriteOff group, when people have stories that didn't come out quite the way they wanted, they'll post the new version with the bonus original one. I'm not sure how the speed-writing contest does things, but it does look like that based on the rules it's only the first submission off-site that has to be within certain constraints. I'm sure Jaxie could have given this another look before posting if he wanted to. Or just have been honest in the author's note. We all have word vomit and random ideas that just need to get written out in little one-shots sometimes, but this isn't the way to regard the story. I'm spying at least one deleted comment too, and I'm not sure if it was by Jaxie himself or what.

10162710

This worked out pretty much the way I wanted. Time was not a significant factor in its final quality.

10162670
"This story's most ardent defender" Thank you I'm flattered.:heart:
I'm sorry I know it's rude but I couldn't help but troll just a little bit.

10162710
Well, we have the word from the man himself


10162726
:unsuresweetie: If thats the case, you may have choosen the worst subject to do it in. Now, is this bad? No, not functionally at least. You've crossed your t's and dotted the i's, but both the subject matter and what is hinted at deserves more of a look see then what we're given.

Why does Twilight hold the view she does? Why is Rarity so stringent in her beliefs? Why is Celestia being such an obtuse bitch about the whole thing if she wants to make her position clear or if she's seeking to change Twilights position?

This is just Racists are bad. Racists, not racism, which is an important distinction. These things are a lot more complicated then ones own subjective disdain for anothers personal opinions

10162703

I never said Samurai culture was good, nor did I say it made sense, and I am certainly no expert.

At no point in my comment did I praise samurai or feudal Japan. I commented on the point the previous commenter made, where they pointed out the two very different cultures (Japanese and Chinese) were merged together poorly.

And I agree with your point, aside from placing mlp characters in an alien setting this story has almost nothing to do about my little pony.

I mean, I like alien settings and interpretations of the characters. It's why I read and write here. What I don't like is when that's handled clumsily. If you are going to write species prejudice and caste societies, you need to know how to write your world so it does not become a bizarre endorsement of prejudice, especially when it was apparently meant to be something else entirely. There was a story that handled this in a much better way that comes to mind, but the author took it off the site and I won't name them or link to it for that reason. So instead, I'll supply some examples of stories that have vitriolic and prejudiced characters (even familiar ones we love) and structures in society while still being able to get across the point of these kinds of prejudices are not good without the need for preaching. Being able to implicitly show to your audience that even when something horrible is legal or normalized in fictional settings doesn't mean it's right is a skill, and it wasn't shown in this story.

But if you like the concept, here are some stories I feel did it well: Monsters by JawJoe (canon characters and OCs hold the prejudices) // The Order by Bad_Seed_72 (the entire society, including all canon characters, show some aspect of various prejudices and a stark caste society) // To Be A Mule by archonix (it's short like this and gives a peek at the way those in a society against them would live in a subtle, somber way) // By Blood or Choice by Krickis (prejudice is present in society, but not at a foundational level; uses child characters to offer an interesting perspective)

I tried picking a wide variety of stories here to show that there are many good ways to handle these themes.
10162726
I have to ask just how different is this final version from any original then. I don't get the impression it was given a careful read-over to strengthen the weak points.

zx29b #49 · Apr 3rd, 2020 · · 10 ·

10162340
>So… uh… if it is about the problems of self-constructed identity, it only seems to be about problems you get when your self-constructed identity is based on racism instead of, you know, yourself?

Twilight's and Rarity's self-constructed identity is based upon what it means to be a unicorn, not racism. What commonly gets called racism is just a byproduct of cultural identity. Racism is not what discourages Rarity from inviting Fluttershy to brunch; her unicornish ettiquite is.

>Apparently you think she's wrong with this?

Why couch it in moral terms? Right and wrong have nothing to do with it. One is just plainly more practical than the other at the time that the narrative is taking place, and the practical will always ultimately win out. Recognizing that and going along with the gradual change is harmonious.

>these comments

The problem that many of the readers seem to be having is that they cannot see the simple philosophical message through their own expectations. People were expecting the message to be "racism is bad, mmkay," and now a bunch of them are complaining that it didn't say "racism is bad" hard enough.

10162793
Look man I'm gonna level with ya here, I'm a simple man, I saw the cover art, read the story, liked what I read. That's all I got.
You however have a deep profound understanding of this story that I can't even fathom. Your clearly on a much higher intellectual level than I am, so much to the point that I'm not really even sure that we read the same story? I have no one to blame but myself if I don't understand your point. It was a terrible story, it was poorly executed, and the author should be ashamed for writing it. is that what your trying to convey?

I'm not even sure we're discussing the story at this point or just verbally jousting. I concede defeat, you win. Now shut up and let me be defeated allready, unless your really having that much fun beating a dead horse.

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