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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Twenty Eight

Epilepsy warning on some of the gifs in this post. Dottie's is here

Gregory is in the bath with a bunch of other leopards, but Anita hurries to assure us that it isn't sexual.

WE ABSOLUTELY DO NOT FUCK THE PRODUCE! Want to buy a cantaloupe?

Here's something I've been thinking about since I read it yesterday:

"My old two-seater table just hadn't been roomy enough for all the wereleopards to have bagels and cream cheese at the same time." 

That's not the what the fuck part in and of itself. Actually, I think that's a pretty neat image. But then she goes on to say:

"There still wasn't enough room at the table for everyone to sit and drink coffee, but it was closer."

This reads as though the type of food and drink being consumed somehow influences the size of the table. So the wereleopards can all fit if they happen to be eating bagels, but if they have cups of coffee the table shrinks and they can't all sit there?

Dr. Lillian is here and I suppose I'm meant to assume she's white because it's never mentioned otherwise. It's worth fighting against the notion that white is the default and therefore can go unmentioned. Just give me a little skin or complexion note the way you'd most certainly do if she were a person of color. Or, if it's not something that your character would comment on, don't comment on anyone's race. 

Dr. Lillian is a safe female in the Anitaverse because she's over sixty and therefore can't fight Anita for sexual dominance. You know, some people have sex well in to their eighties and nineties. But those people don't have bizarre anime hair and multi-colored eyes and tight gym bodies, so LKH will continue ignoring the depth and breadth of human existence because it doesn't get her rocks off.

Dr. Lillian informs us that Gregory was drugged, because shifters require an adrenaline rush to change form and the drugs kept him from working himself up enough. This is fairly interesting but also once again showcases how Anita is dumb as a post. This is book ten and the woman supposedly has degrees in preternatural biology, yet here's Dr. Lilliann giving her the lecture from day one of the intro to were beasts class.

Dr. Lillian tells Anita that by the time the drugs in Gregory's system have worn off and he can shift again, he might be permanently deaf thanks to the damage to his eardrums. However, if Anita is really Nimir-Ra, she could possibly call his beast and force him to shift earlier. She agrees and Dr. Lillian says:

"So you think you will be Nimir-Ra in truth come the full moon?"

This is a book set in modern day St. Louis, yet inexplicably the characters swan around emoting like they're in a bad Shakespeare play. Dr. Lillian isn't even a poncy vampire or an ancient Fae or something. She's just a...I think she's a wererat. Yet for some reason, she's three steps away from thee and thouing all over the place.

Baby tiger asks why.

Indeed, Lillian is a wererat. Anita notes that all the wererats seem to love Rafael. He has yet to show he's a murderous dick, so I'm extra confused about why Richard is such a big fucking baby for loving democracy. It's possible to fuck up whatever political system you believe in, but it doesn't always mean the system itself is totally without merit. So if Rafael isn't a psychopath who murders all his enemies, yet is also regarded as a good leader by his rats, does Anita have a leg to stand on?

Micah can't call beasts, only flesh, and Gregory's injuries are too severe. Hang on, what? He healed Anita after Anita almost died, when she'd been bitten and stabbed and god knows what else by a bunch of weresnakes. How are Gregory's injuries worse? Silver was used so maybe that's it, but still. It just doesn't wash for me considering what Micah has already accomplished.

Dr. Lillian has another option, which involves giving Gregory a dangerous drug cocktail that has an outside chance of killing him. Gregory wants to do it but Lillian also feels like she should ask Anita, considering that as Nimir-Ra Anita is essentially his legal guardian as far as shapeshifter law is concerned. Anita doesn't like this for some bullshit reason even though she's been beating Richard about the head and shoulders with the notion that her brutal leadership is right and good, PLUS we had to slog through all the wanking about how her leopards are the bestest family evah because of her. 

It's heavily implied that Anita only cares about Richard's politics because if he dies, she and J.C. have a good chance of dying too. Lillian informs her that ideals are worth sacrificing for. Anita says:

"Maybe but I'm not a hundred percent sure I've ever held an ideal close enough to trade the people I love for it. Ideals can die, but they don't breathe, they don't bleed, they don't cry."

But the people impacted by those ideals often do all of those things. Ideals aren't just fancy ideas. They muster armies, or disband them. They rescue the helpless, or crush them in to the earth. They inspire individuals to give their best, or their worst. Ideals can make a person enlist in the army, plant a food forest, volunteer at a shelter, commit genocide, save people from extermination, create underground railroads, refuse people basic rights...I could go on and on. Ideals and inspirational quotes aren't the same thing, and I'm not convinced Anita realizes this. Ideals can't be neatly printed on a fridge magnet so you can smile every morning when you get the orange juice. 

This is also a fundamental difference between me and Anita. There are absolutely ideals worth dying for and sometimes, in order to act with integrity, you put yourself on the line even though there's nothing for you to personally gain. You do it because you believe that it's the right thing to do, and damn the consequences you might have to live with. Even if you are facing certain death, what you do leaves a spiritual mark on the world that remains after you're gone. 

Many LGBT activists believed this and died so the generations after them could live with a sense of autonomy and safety. Women, people of color, every oppressed group gave lives because they so strongly believed (and often still do believe) that one day, the oppression could end forever. 

And one more thing. If you go against your ideals to rescue someone you love, you've diminished yourself and them. I don't mean holding on to some abstract naive notion of heroism here, but there's got to be a limit. I'll stop there because I really want to talk about something she does in a later book that would perfectly illustrate this point, but we'll just have to wait until I get to it. 

Lillian points out that religion is an abstract ideal and Anita argues with her that it isn't because she's seen God's power first hand. (Her religion is very 'stract." What a dumb saying). She believes that the power she is accessing is God, but she doesn't know that. For her, it's God. It feels like God, it behaves the way she imagines God should, but she doesn't have the capacity to judge whether she's contacting the literal Abrahamic deity or not. She's a mortal and thus incapable of comprehending the whole of the divine. 

Plus, religions are founded on ideals. The members of that religion may not always live up to those ideals, but just about every organized religion ever created has for example the Golden Rule, which can best be summed up as "don't be a dick." Beyond that, each religion also has a list of ideal characteristics the adherent should work to attain. 

Lastly, faith itself is an abstract. It has no measurable, concrete form for scientists to measure. It isn't rational. It isn't something, as Lillian points out, that you can "hold in your hand." I have faith (though I'm not a Christian) and I don't even know why. It's just there, the same way my glands produce adrenaline or the way I breathe in and out without having to think about it. 

Anita is a judgmental dick about her Wiccan friends, the friends who have been kind enough to train her and put up with her for the last six months. She says she finds the fact that they're not monotheistic Christians to be a failing of the Church and not of them personally. How magnanimous. You know, it's possible to be a monotheist and also acknowledge that polytheism has worth. Like I said I am not a Christian, but I do believe in Christianity. I think all of that stuff is true, for them. Why can't Anita do the same from the other side? 

Lillian points out that Christian witches exist. Points for Lillian! Anita claims that they're all zealots. 

Yeah, no. Christian witches are in a really bad spot. Average Christians tend to think they're heretics if not outright evil ("Do not suffer a witch to live." Yes I know this passage doesn't literally mean that but plenty of people don't) and witches as in Wiccans think they represent all the abusive aspects of Abrahamic faiths and shun them. So I have no idea why all of the Christian witches Anita has met deserve the title zealot. All the Christian witches I know are incredibly laid back.

Her and Lillian both talk about how they hate zealots, which is just so rich considering Anita is basically a zealot. 

  1. a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

Yeah, so there's that. 

Guys. I got up to go to the bathroom and I found a Chick Tract.

Well, even divine providence hates Anita Blake.

Anita gives the go ahead to use the drugs on Gregory and prays for like a fraction of a second. She's a terrible Christian. It's like her supposed latina status or how hard it is to be a woman, things she only trots out when it furthers her bullshit emotional manipulation, stuff that is ignored at all other times, that never impact her in any way otherwise. 

Micah turns up. He says that Violet, their version of Nathaniel, is in danger and they need to go rescue her. Anita gains a new power because she can now see his beast around him like a hot wavy thing that is hot and wavy.

For some dumbass reason Micah decides to leave his main bodyguard, Merle, behind. 

Lillian comes back in and says some vomit inducing shit about Anita following her heart, because Anita is a Disney princess and all of her friends are singing animals who sew clothes for her and bring her little cakes.

Anita breaks in to a rousing rendition of I Believe In Miracles and merciful Jesus, the chapter ends.


  1. If singing bluebirds began to follow Anita everywhere, I don't think any of her readers would be surprised in the least.

    Yeah, her "abstract vs real" argument made no sense to me either. On the other hand, though, I'm an athiest, and her arguments that Christianity is real, but everyone else is not, isn't really anything I haven't heard from pretty much everyone who lives in my county. Which to me is essentially saying "My invisible friend is realer than so-and-so down the street's invisible friend, neener neener." (Disclaimer: I have nothing really against the religious unless they're complete dicks to me and want to stomp all over my rights.)

    1. I mean, I AM a believer and I still acknowledge that at the end of the day it is a little bit like arguing over which imaginary friend has the best personality. I can tell you all day long that I deeply feel god(s) to be real, but I have zero way of proving it. I don't NEED to prove it because it really only influences me and my actions, and I don't need other people to believe it either, both things Anita apparently can't claim.

  2. It's been implied before that all the rats are Hispanic because... you can't have racial groups mixing? Either way, after this chapter, I want to punt Lillian in the face.

    1. Holy shit, are you serious? All the Shutting down now. Rage overload.

    2. Claudia is not Hispanic, as far as I can tell...