How one of the most confrontational music genres provides a salve for the scars of mental illness.

Can you help me occupy my brain?

-Black Sabbath, “Paranoid”.

[This article discusses suicide and drug use, and contains images of self-harm scars.]

Sanitarium. Altars of Madness. Defeated Sanity. Heavy metal, a musical genre fascinated with the grotesque and sensational, has long integrated mental illness into its lyrical palette. Given metal’s infamous penchant for antagonizing the listener, this recurring theme may seem like a mere pass at shock horror. However, this very antagonism makes metal uniquely suited to portraying the lush and horrifying nightmarescapes of psychosis. …

There was no other living woman in the world who had done anything as intimate to Barhu as chopping off two of her fingers.

-Seth Dickinson, “The Tyrant Baru Cormorant”

An exposed neck. A cocky grin, a severe glare. The tip of a blade against a throat. Controlled breaths, straying eyes, the fragility of power, the tacit exchange of control, threats delivered in a coquettish purr. Anchored in such images is the romance-drama trope of “Enemies to Lovers”, pernicious tales of romance whose deuteragonists stand at opposing ends of a conflict. A cursory search takes one to the Fanlore wiki, though the bones of the motif have a much more timeworn origin. Tales of “star-crossed” lovers are as old as the writing of love itself, or at least as old as Ovid’s Pyramus and Thisbe. These tales often offer their protagonists a dichotomy: forget love and acquiesce, or struggle to be free. By itself, this has more than enough appeal. But ETL romance understands that the fight for freedom is rarely so straightforward, especially when the combatants are so entrenched in the systems that bind them. Would-be lovers in this genre are armored behind ironclad codes of conduct that restrict intimacy to antagonism. The only way to become close to their paramour is to antagonize them, and the duel becomes entangled with the ritual of affection until they are indistinguishable. …

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“You Can’t Save Everyone”

Nietzsche’s atavism and the need for respecting our psychosis.

Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century any distinct notion of what poets of a stronger age understood by the word “inspiration”?

-Friedrich Nietzsche, “Ecce Homo”.

In the inhuman span of ten days, Nietzsche committed to paper the first part of “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, his most lyrical and grandiose work. The final product numbered 250 pages, all written in less than a year, during fits of inspiration “like lightning; it comes with necessity, unhesitatingly”. Nietzsche imagined Zarathustra — the historical Iranian spiritual teacher whose revelations predate, and might have later inspired, many contemporary world religions — as the first man to discern the mistake of differentiating good from evil. “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is ecstatic, energetic, remorselessly didactic. Its messianic protagonist cheers exultantly for the few who listen to him, and expresses a holy sort of remorse for the many who don’t. There is no apology offered to the throngs inveighed as “little men”. …

An interview-dialogue about three borders: Mexico to America, your country’s God and your own, your first gender, and your last.

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No born Catholic remembers their baptism, and first communion is something of a gamble. Depending on tradition, confirmation may come before or after first communion. Champions of “after” propose that those undertaking the sacrament must have the age to be aware of just what it is they’re confirming. This is, of course, bullshit: I was thirteen. I rallied against the suffocating rota of Catholic school weekdays, Saturday catechism and Sunday service. That era was, if not the dawn of new atheism, then its glorious midday. Of course I read The God Delusion. My school’s ordained headmistress was torn between an educational curriculum that demanded teaching us about the Big Bang, and the assurance that God created the universe and everything in it. For a while, I ideated this conflict as “God created the Big Bang”. But, in the end, I chose Richard Dawkins. His was the most rational choice. Unfortunately, I was too young to know that there is more than one way to dedicate your early life to an absurdity. Rationalism’s absurdity is thus: once you commit to always being smart, then you can never be wrong again. The reason why I abandoned the church must’ve been because it no longer responded to my logic. …


Julia Norza

…is at large in Mexicali, Mexico.

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