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J and I are seriously thinking about acquiring some new ink.  She has 2 tattoos from before we started dating--done at (wait for it) Ralph's Hungry Eye Tattoo and Guns in Lincoln, Nebraska--and we've gone together for 3.

Only one of those is matching, a Tibetan Buddhist endless knot, though we have it in different spots.  Mine is on my lower back and, when my mom first got a glimpse and said, appalled, You let some tattoo guy see your butt?, it was with great glee that I told her, Nah, the artist was a woman.

The impulse for body art can be odd.  I don't actually have a design in mind, but I've been feeling the pull for months, an urge settled deep that has me looking everywhere for ideas.  I freely admit to being the kind of girly girl whose only real requirement is that it be pretty.  (Go ahead and cringe, I don't mind.)

Someone who knew about my history of sexual abuse once asked me if I thought marking my body was a way of reclaiming it.  I totally get where she was coming from, but it doesn't really resonate for me. 

There's nothing symbolic about the kind of memory that can sometimes seem to hold a body in thrall--it's visceral, besieging, hardly going to be held off with mere surface decorations.

In the fandom I'm currently obsessed with, Supernatural, the main characters are marked men in every possible sense--sought by the law, shaped by loss.  Sam's been touched by a demon and Dean's living on borrowed time.  This is all canon, as are the visual markers of possession--black eyes, black smoke that pours from throats as the demons are released. 

With tropes like these to work with, the hurt/comfort stories practically write themselves.  (Yeah, I know--five seconds with Google and you could probably find h/c for every conceivable pairing in every fandom there is.  But that doesn't make it any less true that it maps particularly well to this one.)

In "Outside by the Blue, Blue Moon" and it's sequel, "Season of the Witch," by vaingirlfic, the experience of a sexual trauma does, in fact, leave literal signs inscribed on Sam's skin.

They're tough, tough reads, but, as I commented to the writer, what makes these stories stunning pretty much can be encapsulated by the following lines, describing Sam's subsequent--freely chosen and desired--sexual relationship :

"it was a disaster from start to finish.  Except for when it wasn't." (1)

In my experience, that's the whole work of recovery right there, finding that place where having even the right someone's hands on you isn't a disaster.  You don't do it once; you do it every time.

Of course, you could write totally original stories with these themes that didn't rely on any fandom at all.  But in the stories I find most satisfying, the author has managed to keep the characters recognizably themselves, their relationship as lovers aside. 

For me, fanfic's appeal resides right there, the slight--but vital--variation which can be invoked in an otherwise unyielding world. 
_______

(1) (I don't want to give away more about the stories, because really, you should go read them, if you like this kind of thing at all.)

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ext_110131
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
I posted a photo on my blog of a woman Klingon's tattoo, from the Star Trek con. She told me that before they met, she and her boyfriend both got same tattoo (the Klingon symbol, which is, come to think of it, an endless knot, though a spiky one). Anyway, she thought this was a good sign they both had them.
Those Klingons are really sweeties.

Now I wish I had asked people if they had Star Trek tattoos.

I look forward to reading some of these stories! (I've been wanting pointers to good ones.)
Simon/River. Oh, no. I already cringe at with how super, super caretaking Simon is of River. I can only imagine a sexual relationship with her being even more of the same, given her extreme vulnerability and insanity. Loving such a person is already such a huge psychic drain. Adding a sexual component--for me--just seems even more intensely wearying... (Guess that shows where I'm coming from.)
And I can't see anyway around this without fundamentally changing the nature of the characters.
Hmmm, though I suppose AFTER "Serenity," the movie, we are free to imagine her more or less mentally healed? Sort of? If killing hundreds of evil, but living beings could be a curative.
storybystory
Aug. 29th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)
I think what really makes it seem like River might have begun healing is less the killing itself, and more than fact that it is done in the service of saving Simon and the others. There's a level of awareness, both of what those around her need and her responsibility to help them, rather than always being the protected one. It makes her seem whole.

I'm not sure I can explain this with any coherence, cause I don't think I understand it myself, but it's true that the Simon/River pairing feels like it would be a betrayal of their bond as siblings, while, in the Sam/Dean stories, it seems like an affirmation.

When Simon and River fall in with Serenity's crew, they've got an us/them dynamic that's similar to Sam and Dean's, but there's also evidence they came to it far later. River was 14 when she went to the Academy, which makes Simon 23--up until that point, it seems likely that they had a close, but normal, brother/sister relationship.

Dean was 4 and Sam six months when their family life went off the rails, and with their father so ruled by his obsessions, there's a very real sense in which the only thing they ever had was each other. Yeah, feeling this way about your brother isn't normal, but what else have they got?

Two more stories to try:
"Carry Me Over the Sky" by Killa (link: http://seacouver.slashcity.net/killa/carryme.html)really deals with the gritty, queasy "this-is-not-okay"-ness of it all

and

"Sumer is icumen in"by astolat (link:http://intimations.org/fanfic/supernatural/Sumer%20is%20icumen%20in.html),which solves the brother issue in a creative way that doesn't feel like a cheat and um, features a cameo by the cast of "House."

I do realize that, for a lot of folks, Sam/Dean seems 200% out of character, because they aren't gay. But that only intensifies how much more it can be about exactly about them, who they are to each other. And, I hafta say, as a gay person, imagining someone else to be gay is just never going to strike me as offensive or edgy or even, y'know, particularly worthy of note.
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