Armitagemania, how it is nowadays

I’ve got like seven analytical posts half done and going nowhere, and this stuff banging around in my mind. So this is what is going in this space for right now. Maybe the analysis will come if I cop to this particular set of questions.

It’s that point in the year well-despised of professors, when the end is in sight but far enough off not to be easily sniffed or tasted. Several more weeks. Everything intensifies. If it all feels pointless, it will feel even more pointless; if everything causes anxiety, the anxiety will build; if deadlines are threatening, their threat will increase; the stupid excuses offered for transgressions will become ever stupider — as we all, professors and students, tilt toward the edge, the ridiculous ultima ratio of this strange universe we inhabit. Those who wanted the degree suddenly become interested in knowledge; those who wanted knowledge detach and declare their allegiance to the degree. Emotions and attitudes will be demanded from us and we will perform them; intensity for the struggling, the charade that it still matters; pity for the suffering; joy for the graduates and their parents; acquiescence to whatever plan is being made for the next phase.

The only thing that can ever make this phase bearable is desire. We want to want, to feel that desire that is now hidden under everything else that accumulates as we race to the end — no desire left, only destination. Unavoidable. We don’t want what we wanted before, it’s all meretricious, everything we thought we wanted, but we want so badly to want.

[At right: the reading textbook I (and the other girl who could read on the first day of school) had in first grade. Anyone else remember this one?]

All I had last year to get through the period after Spring Break was fantasy. And that hasn’t changed. It’s so much about the charge given to life by desire. Just feeling that jolt. Not about being desired, but about desiring. The reminder of the capacity to want — independent of whatever the target is. To modify slightly, perhaps, on Skully’s thesis — at this point, I don’t want to be desired, and so Richard Armitage’s desire is not something I usually fantasize about feeling directed at me, although that fantasy takes up its occasional moments. It’s not the whole story, or perhaps it would be better say that it’s a piece of a story. Primarily, however, my identifications in all of his roles tend toward seeing myself in the role he plays, and not in the role of the women he desires. When I see Armitage’s characters desire, I want to desire like Armitage desires — myself. I want to be displaying that subtle but incontrovertible arousal signal like something I can’t suppress or ignore, the widening of the mouth, the flaring of the nostrils. I want desire like that to submerge me. To unman me.

I want, in short, to be controlled, not by my reason or my sensibility or manners or practical concerns or even law — but I want to be overwhelmed by, subsumed in, my own desires. I want what I want to be so important that nothing I can think or say will let me question it or run away from it. I look at Lucas North / John Bateman and wonder how he managed that. I am so much less damaged than Lucas and yet I feel like my synapses of desire are all burnt out, or rewired to create anxiety rather than euphoria.

Someone who spent a lot of time desiring unworthy things: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) during his dream sequence encounter with Sarah Caulfield, in Spooks 8.4. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

There are always things about my fantasies that I have known are questionable to speak of in mixed company, and I wonder frequently how far I can go toward discussing them in this space. Every reader probably has her own list of things she’d find distasteful or be disturbed by — none of the strictures would apply to everyone. Writing about them as if they were fanfiction has always seemed deceptive to me. These are not things I think about as fictions, although I know they are not real. They have much more narrative coherence than do dreams. It only seems worth it if I can get the rush from the honesty and openness and introspection, and that includes accepting the extent to which I am affected by and also disturbed by them. I want to talk about the extent to which they permeate certain situations, make certain circumstances bearable or even pleasurable.

Wanting despite your better knowledge: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) makes love to Sarah Caulfield (Genevieve O’Reilly) after catching her in a lie in Spooks 8.5. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

I don’t think the danger of desire lies in the desire itself nor in how it affects the object of desire. In that sense, Richard Armitage is an object marketed to us for the fulfillment of our desires, whatever they might be, and he perforce accepts this status no matter how he might feel about it privately. All of us are someone for somebody, and his problems stem from a magnified version of the human condition. So I’m not influenced by worry about potential harm to Richard Armitage, although I know that would stop some people. Rather, I think the reason that desire for things we will never have — and I will never have Richard Armitage — is dangerous is twofold. First, it threatens to expose everything about one’s life that is really wrong. The momentary relief from desire necessitates its renewal because life without desire may not be painful, but it is also quite obviously less than it could be if it were constantly suffused with desire. This can actually be a strength — because the renewed capacity for desire can be a motivator for change, and this has been a significant function of Armitagemania in my life — but it’s rough to take a hard look at just exactly how unsatisfactory one’s life might be. Desire moves us along but we can’t get marooned in it. Second, there’s the question of what happens after desire. As my best friend from college, like me a fairly solid non-romantic, said to me about two years ago, sure, you have all this euphoria now, but what happens when the euphoria goes?

Wanting that thing you wanted for the sake of wanting it, or wanting some earlier version of yourself: John Bateman / Lucas North (Richard Armitage) kisses Maya Lahan (Laila Rouass) in Spooks 9.3. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

I haven’t had to answer that question because I still have the euphoria, every day, and my emotional reactions to watching Armitage, whether on video or stills, are becoming more and more intense. I am not habituated. Hand in hand with this trend, my fantasies are becoming more demanding. What were bedtime stories are now spiraling, epic, daytime stories. Armitage in my bed, in the shower, at the breakfast table, in the passenger seat of my car, at the back of my lecture room, in my faculty meetings, sitting in the corner of my office, reading, during office hours, and laughing behind a book at the things students say, Armitage massaging my shoulders as I lock the door and go home. Armitage taking over my classroom. Armitage moving my sofa. Armitage at my mercy, Servetus at his. Armitage in the oddest contexts, in churches and synagogues, in dive Chinese restaurants, expressing his opinion on Belgian style beers, as policeman, skipping through the hallways. Places where he doesn’t belong, places he transforms by occupying them, by making them tolerable, by making me think there could be some other potential way of looking at the world. Armitage holding my mind together. Armitage reminding me that I can desire, that desire is motive even when the motive may only be the end.

There are two problems here; first, there’s the ongoing issue of certain kinds of thing about Richard Armitage as an extended fantasy of self. If this is a fantasy of self, how occupied am I becoming with my own pleasure? And is that bad? Wanting to be overwhelmed by desire, prioritizing it? If my fantasy of him has this much power to affect me, to keep me walking on through the days and nights and rising every morning in a situation where I am gritting my teeth, what might it do in a situation where I was fully able to live out the fantasy of self? And what fantasy is it, exactly? (And yes, I know I have to finish the North & South posts to even begin to address this issue, even as they plague me.) I know that part of it is that the fantasy of self becomes powerful this time of year because everything becomes only about giving other people what they want. In that sense Armitage fantasy becomes the insistent clamoring of the repressed for recognition and personification. My desire is real, it exists too, it is legitimate, don’t forget it, don’t lose the path of desire in the cloud of demands. My desire wants to survive what other people want or what I think I have to do — and so protecting the fantasies of Armitage becomes about protecting the right even to have or admit desires. (Big implications for writing here — insofar as I’ve always felt that my “real” writing was for someone else and not for me, and that made me hate it and in turn, despise myself.)

Transgressive appetite bound? Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood 1.8. My cap.

Second, though, in terms of continuing to write here about my desires and the way they get expressed in Armitage fantasies, if you’re wondering if “Richard Armitage” in this post is some sort of lapsus for “characters Richard Armitage has played,” you’d be asking yourself the same question as I have been for about three months now. I get the jokes but I am not always being funny even if you are amused. Could you handle it if I stated that this were not Thorin Oakenshield but Richard Armitage? Can I?

Back in those problematic fantasies, a reader observed that in every single one, John Porter left me. “When he’s free to go,” Lina writes, “he doesn’t stay.” He never stayed. Last year I was thinking about this question in much more concrete terms than I am now. Now I wonder: Is there a way, is it time, to find a way to make the desires stay? To let them win? I was wondering this eleven months ago:

If Servetus could write a fantasy in which Porter fell in love with her and stayed with her, perhaps that would be a sign of the sort of redemption I’m looking for by writing. If I could free Porter and he would stay, maybe I would free myself from my own underworld. [¶] Can stories change the world? Can we change ourselves by writing different stories about ourselves? It’s worth thinking about.

I’ve freed myself to make the fantasies much more powerful than they were even then, to let them be a structuring element of my day to day, minute to minute life. Can I use the fantasy to write a story about myself in which I can both identify and follow my desires, even under duress? If I admit them? If I accept them no matter their absolute counter-factuality, their impossibility, their scoff-worthiness?

And unbound, what can appetite do? Is it only anger, or can it be more? Can we insist on our own appetites? Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood 1.8. My cap.

Honest discussion about desire is the first step, the only step, toward getting what I want. If watching Armitage means legitimating the desire to desire (as opposed to the desire to be desired), I can’t avoid concluding further that watching him makes me feel like when I want, I am not ridiculous for wanting. I may even be more attractive because of it. Tonight I am not going to talk about humiliation — and I concede that’s a problem with this reading, and I will get there, eventually, too, to discuss all the ways in which I feel humiliated by fantasy.

But even so, the Armitage example suggests: If I may be destroyed by it, I am also humanized, even ennobled, by desire.

~ by Servetus on March 30, 2012.

31 Responses to “Armitagemania, how it is nowadays”

  1. I can relate to this post in so many ways. I too have an almost overwhelming desire for Richard. I fantasize about him in my kitchen helping me do dishes, (as well as ‘helping’ me in other rooms of the house), talking me through the projects I’m working on, etc. He’s become one of the ‘voices’ in my head.

    I’ve often wondered if I’ve taken my fantasizing about him too far, (I once had a big arguement with my best friend about how I had dibs on him as a fantasy boyfriend when she expressed a desire to flirt with him if she ever met him instead of sending him my way). But I do realize that he’s just a placeholder in my heart and mind for someone/something that is missing in my life right now. I’ve latched onto him because he seems so close to my ideal mate.

    On a positive note, this fantasy has inspired me to improve areas of my life that I’ve often found lacking. I’ve come to realize that if I’m looking for a man like Richard, then I have to be worthy of him. I’ve been making better progress on these improvements than I ever have in the past because I have fantasy Richard in my life to inspire me.

    On the otherhand, I sometimes wonder if I’m in danger of losing my grip on reality. Fantasy Richard has a much stronger grasp on my psyche than any other celebrity/unattainable crush ever has before, and I’ve had several of them. I also think I’m in danger because I actually live in a town and work in a profession that could actually throw me into the real Richard’s path one day. However, I have actually had the opportunity on more than one occassion to work with some of my previous crushes, and in each case, the crush was crushed by getting to know the guys in person. I still thought they were nice guys, and some were even flirty, but in each of those cases, I realized that the crush was at least in part based off the characters they played. The rest of the crush was based on what little I knew about their ‘real’ lives from interviews and from what I inserted from my own desire of what they would be. I have to keep reminding my brain that if I did work with Richard, my supercrush on him would probably fade like it did with the others. Unfortunately, my brain doesn’t believe me. It thinks he’s perfect in every way. I’m doomed. haha

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂

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    • Mrs,E.B.Darcy, my brain doesn’t believe me either, that my crush would fade if I met him and got to know him. 🙂
      It’s just as well that I’m in absolutely no danger of coming face to face with the real Richard as is possible for you, as I think I would be obsessed with the idea that meeting him was just around the corner.
      The impossibility of it allows me to get on with my RL, but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming!

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    • What legitimates writing about this for me is that I increasingly think it’s not about Richard Armitage. (Which I know confuses the heck out of readers, and it has confused me for years, too.) I also don’t think (and never have) that he would be my ideal mate. Given what we know about him, he’s nothing like any man that I’ve actually ever been involved with, and the contrast is severe.

      I definitely share the issues around the theme of “lack,” though, and I want to write about that more, too.

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      • You know, Servetus, one of my favorite movies is ‘Bend it like Beckham’. I love that movie, just the authentic strengths and ridiculousness of all the characters.

        The only part of the movie that I didn’t like … was the end where there was a sudden cameo of David and Victoria Beckham at the airport. I remembered thinking, ‘Huh? What the heck was THAT?’

        And against all the ‘characters’ that felt so wonderfully real, David Beckham’s cameo, in contrast, felt jarringly hollow and 2-dimensional and really, rather awkward (don’t get me wrong, I REALLY appreciate the Beckham’s support of writer / producer / director Gurinder Chadha, and perhaps this is exactly what she intended for the cameo at the end) but sometimes that’s a little how I feel myself about RA in RL (I know I am in a huge minority here).

        I’m enjoying this community and its vibrant authenticity so much (and isn’t ‘Beckham’ in the title only meant to be an allusion to the love of soccer shared by the two girls from very different backgrounds, who may never have met otherwise? Sort of like, um, Armitagemania? 😉 ) that I can’t help but wonder if any RL run-in with RA (as at the airport -not as part of any work appearances) wouldn’t be a bit superfluous? (okay, okay, aside from the Squee-ness of it) 🙂

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        • I loved that film, too.

          There’s a part of me that would like to meet him to thank him, except I couldn’t possibly make clear what I meant, and he’d be in a hurry 🙂

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    • Thanks for posting this, Mrs. EB Darcy!

      I’m a HUGE fan of fantasies and creative expression and am a happy supporter of anyone who has such happy daily fantasies! Anything that enables me to have access to that kind of flow energy and wholeness and energetic balance is a huge, huge advantage for me when facing the mundane-ness of life.

      I suppose I say all of this because for me – the danger in my life is in the OPPOSITE. I can easily spend time working under an avalanche of RL work. RL problems that cyclically never change. RL watching my co-workers on CNBC or on Sky News. I wake up one day and realize I can’t taste food, and while I can produce what is needed for my profession, it is a confusing struggle for me to remember the last time I FELT anything.

      The great appeal of this community, and Servetus’s blog in particular, is that it reminds me that nowhere in my educational upbringing did anyone teach me the criticality of creating and celebrating a vibrant interior life … nor is there guidance-at-large on how to cultivate or develop or maintain it.

      It could be that most people just DO NOT NEED thriving interior lives (in the way that many cannot remember their dreams). But for whatever reason, I DO. I need it. For whatever my output is externally in RL, I need a balancing amount of interior play time and ridiculousness. The fantasies remind me (or perhaps they trick me?) into taking care of myself, making myself a priority, so that I can continue to produce the work that is needed in RL.

      Personally, I have grown to love Southern CA. Every time I am there (in fact, I leave London for LAX next week) I always ask myself, ‘why can’t I work HERE?’ Why can’t his be a banking hub instead of an entertainment industry hub? 😉

      You are not only not alone, but you are thoroughly celebrated. 🙂

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      • That’s funny. I feel the same about London. I love living in Los Angeles, (you either love it or hate it). The first time I visited LA it called to me and I knew I had to move. But London does that to me as well. When I went to London for vacation last summer I cried when I got home because I felt as though I’d left part of myself behind, (I suspect the future Mr. Darcy is a Londoner and our souls have been calling out for each other. haha). It’s funny how you can be in love with two very different cities at once. 🙂

        I hope you have a nice visit next week. Safe travels!

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        • Ahhh, I really hope you get many more opportunities to return to London then – particularly if you feel the resonance you’ve described above during your visit!!

          I have grown to love London in the past year, but returning to the US to recharge is what keeps me sane. London and LA are a package deal for me. I don’t think I could love London so well without the relief of LA in the wings, and I would likely not appreciate LA so much if I was not required to return to London for work. 😉

          That’s great news for you if the future Mr. Darcy is in London because I gotta tell you, these British boys are really SO CUTE and SO WELL-GROOMED!! And walking around the City and Canary Wharf, the proportion of men to women appears to be about 20:1. Or maybe it’s just the crowds and crowds of suits that spill out of City pubs every week Wed-Fridays. 😉

          Thanks for the travel wishes! Easter Break is coming upon us so it’s good to enjoy the 4-day weekend out of country!

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      • wow, can’t taste food — that’s serious.

        I’m glad if this blog helps you think about an interior life. I do think it’s important — it may not be the only thing, as I was raised to believe, insofar as when it’s the only thing it is too easily negatively exploited, but it makes certain experiences bearable …

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  2. Disclaimer: I know nothing about anything.
    That being said, I found myself pondering the thought of your RA and chaRActer fantasies as an extension of yourself. I found this interesting, especially the bondage fantasies in light of what you’ve shared about what’s been going on in your personal/professional life. I know you’ve related the fantasies to Armitagmania, but could there be anything else you feel could be causing feelings of captivity? Do you feel you are holding yourself captive in any respects?
    Do you think the fantasies could be about something other than sex? Something basic and “primal” that you haven’t identified? Sexual release can be a rather freeing experience. By indulging in fantasies and desires, you are finding ways to loosen the captivity and free yourself?
    Then again, this could be a total misread and this could be all about sex with RA or one of his chaRActers. 🙂

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    • I totally agree that sex is metaphor in this kind of fantasy (esp for me, INFJ, for whom everything has a symbolic dimension). Part of what I am asking, I guess, albeit very obliquely, in this post, is whether my readers are able to accept that I can write about sex with Armitage as not (only) sexual fantasy but also as metaphor? i.e., how much can I say? Responses to fanfic seem to suggest that this is a line that many readers are unable to cross, particularly with regard to anything beyond very vanilla sex.

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      • OK, if that’s the question here is my answer:
        Personally, I can accept whatever you write about sexual fantasies with RA. The only line I have is if someone were planning real harm to him or any other person. I know that is not the case, so go ahead.

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      • I am one of those people who have found fanfiction about Richard Armitage himself uncomfortable to read. It was only the one (written in third person, not a first person fantasy) but it was enough for me then to decide that I would avoid further stories in the same vein. I don’t know the “why”, I only know that it was my reaction at the time. In doing so, I am making no judgements or otherwise about those who write and read these kinds of stories.
        However, I feel I would be comfortable in accepting whatever you have to say about your Armitage fantasies because you have been upfront about the place from where you are and would be writing. Being in possession of a most NON-analytical brain, I am always interested to discover your take on what lies behind the way you think and feel about him, in view of my own Armitagemania, even though our situations in life are so different.
        I frequently comment about doing things to and with RA (chocolate anyone?!) but it’s all in fun, and quite shallow! I could never write with your courage and honesty in order to gain a deeper understanding of who I am.

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  3. Another thought provoking post, servetus.
    My thoughts and wanderings are becoming more Richard-oriented than ever before, when I’m content with my life and happily married. Maybe it’s the ongoing scarcity of anything new about him, and my brain is filling the gaps!
    It’s not like I haven’t been providing my imagination with fodder either, as I am still watching Guy, Thornton, Lucas, and Porter on rotation several times a week, but they have all taken a back seat to fantasies about Richard himself.

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    • I do think the lack of new material gives us an opportunity to retrace old, familiar paths and intensify them. It’s interesting that you’re experiencing this too, right now.

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  4. Again,you are forcing me to think,Servetus! I love that but they say that untrained brain can be damaged by thinking. 😉
    I’m nobody and…(in here you may insert Snicker’s Mom disclaimer)

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  5. This is what I call great brain work. Servetus, I think you can solve world problems with your brain power.

    I have freaked myself out by thinking that surely there is something wrong, missing, unidentified, or disconnecting for me to go gaagaa over an actor I have never met. But then again, maybe not. Maybe my desire is based on the fact that he seems to be able to communicate desire, and so many other feelings in such a profound way. And that he is one good looking, charming man. I am telling myself that it is that simple. He is hot and unattainable and therefore the purfect fantasy. A real relationship is complicated and work. Mr. A on the otherhand is so convienient.

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    • I have heard that explanation from a lot of people — Armitage the fantasy lover takes the place of a real life interaction that would be messier. I don’t question it so much as think that that’s not the role he plays for me. In particular, I think fantasy play, at least for children, can be way of working through particular difficult scenarios and that’s what I’m trying to do with this. At the same time I do think it’s important to (continue to) ask if one isn’t so mired in fantasy that one is marooned by it.

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  6. My mind is a muddle of mush this morning because I’ve been wrestling with processes dealing with dysfunctional relationships which can get quite confusing. So I’m taking a break to read your blog which is even more mind boggling than the mind boggling mess I’m trying to avoid at work. But this is much more interesting.
    In my life I’ve found that as long as my real desires are satisfied I don’t have the need to desire or fantasize about somebody or something that I know will never become a reality. But that isn’t the case right now — hence the fascination with RA. Because RA isn’t “real” I can project any image I want onto him. The interviews he gives seem to back up that projection: he’s good looking, hard working, creative, intelligent, funny, humble, sweet, a gentleman – what more could a person desire? I think the fantasy part comes into play with the characters he portrays. But there’s a layer of my fascination that is deeper than desire or fantasy and that is the pure therapeutic affect of RA’s presence. That layer remains a mystery other than it is the main reason for my continued fascination.

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    • I apologize for making it worse, and hope that the work situation clears itself up soon.

      What do you think is therapeutic about his presence?

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      • You didn’t make it worse…checking out your blog totally worked for getting my mind off the conundrum of work. As to your question: I have no idea what is therapeutic about RA’s presence. I just know that watching him is like taking a hot bath, listening to classical music, watching a sunset or anything else that might be soothing to the soul. Maybe it has something to do with the sound of his voice or that he seems to be a throw back to a different time when life was simpler. I do know this – even though he is truly one of the sexiest men I’ve ever seen, it’s not about the sexual element. It’s probably more of a sensual thing. I re-read your blog and my guess is he may have somewhat of the same affect on you considering he’s becoming more integrated into your daily life through the daydreaming and the writing.
        Desiring to desire parallels my idea of what defines a true artist. It’s not so much the ability to create but the desire to create. A true artist has a constant desire to create whether it’s painting a picture, cooking a meal, planting a garden or writing a blog. So I understand that you would desire to desire. By the way, I do intend to get to the bottom of why RA’s presence is therapeutic.

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  7. See, this is how my mind works. I saw the headline of your post, and then the pic directly below, and my first thought was “all those people are looking at stuff about RA?”

    I”m obviously exhausted and my brain is not operating correctly.

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  8. […] One of these themes is the extent to which I fantasize about Richard Armitage vs. John Porter or Lucas North or whoever. I’ve been writing so-called “waking fantasies” for a year now, and these always involve characters he’s played. These are real fantasies I had and continue to have, and I will continue to write them down periodically, as they remain of great importance to me, but they don’t make up my whole Armitage-related fantasy life. I’ve been asked repeatedly about fantasies regarding Richard Armitage the person in comments and have always avoided the question or given the reply that “it’s complex.” I didn’t want to deal with this discussion. The answer is complex, and I don’t know that I want to theorize about it at the moment, but I’ve decided to stop lying via making the implication that I rarely or never fantasize about having a sexual encounter with Richard Armitage the person, or at least my fantasy of Richard Armitage the person. Very early on, I presented arguments that it was impossible for fans to know who Richard Armitage is based on the information they have access to. I also fully acknowledge that what I think about Armitage is a fantasy that is shakily grounded on a bunch of newspaper reports, a flood of pictures, hundreds of hours of watching his work, and various other miscellaneous information, so I am not writing about the real Armitage in these pieces. I know this. They are fantasies of self. […]

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  9. […] been dancing around this problem, I think, ever since I wrote that what Armitage’s portrayals of desire make me feel is not a desire to be desired so much as a d… — when I see him wanting, I want not to be wanted, but rather, I want to want with the […]

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  10. […] opaque — but he’s my Armitage. If all of this uproar in my life is related to a developing and continuing fantasy of self, then I read myself as being irresistibly committed to the one that Armitage represents. In a way, […]

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  11. […] if the experience of watching Armitage desire things makes me desire not as much Armitage himself, as it makes me desire to desire, then the fact that I desire him almost every time I see him has a bigger implication in the sense […]

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  12. […] as a reminder of creativity when mine feels far away. That was the point of the muse — that he made me want to want things, he reminded me to desire — and even flipping through those pictures methodically, like the […]

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