My Richard Armitage: An interpretation. Preface

I’ve been fiddling with this post (now a series, as it’s gotten long) for, well, forever. It was a major reason for starting the blog, and I was working hard on composing by May of 2010. It touches on things that I wanted to say in the never published part IV of this series and in the “Armitage barbatus” series and in the “tropes” post, all of which I still want to pursue and complete. But I realized recently that this piece might be a necessary predecessor to all of them. The content of what I have to say has naturally changed over what’s now approaching three years of blogging.

In the struggle to say what I wanted about this topic — who Richard Armitage “really is” — my desire finally to speak as opposed to thinking about it won out. I think it may be partially motivated by Mr. Armitage’s impending major career transition, which will change how we see him yet again. Too, friends reminded me this fall that I wasn’t having a certain kind of Armitage conversation any more, and I wanted to remedy that, as it was invigorating. Guylty’s arrival and the sharpness of her analytical intellect have also encouraged me to dare more here. Finally, and probably most important, my own identity struggles of the last little bit are probably impelling this publication; my professional veneer has been clashing with my personal identity for the last two weeks in ways that make me squirm, force me to question who I am, and reconsider the entire project of who I am capable of being for other people. These conflicts have generated visceral physical reactions that have made me realize that in the process of writing here I’ve changed myself enough not to be able to go back — either to being the frightened, almost paralyzed person I was when I started blogging, or to conforming to others’ expectations in the way that I used to demand of myself. This blog sprang from my inability to stop thinking about my fantasies and my desire to explore what they meant more fully; as my therapist said very shortly after I told her that the blog had been born, I was using Armitage and fantasies about him as a transitive object for exploring matters that I couldn’t take on directly. As a project in integration of self, the blog has borne a heavy burden as I have wrestled here with how to take authority over my own story — not being who my parents or my childhood religion or my profession or my colleagues or even my well-meaning friends say I am — but realizing that as an adult, I am the one who says who I am; I am the one who determines what my experiences mean for me. The journey is far from over; but this is another piece of it. If Armitage is the transitive object, to move to the next phase, I have to be able to describe who I think he “is.”

What follows is thus a multi-part biography of Richard Armitage with emphasis on developmental, psychosocial, personal, and psychological elements. I start with his background and childhood, trace moments in his career, and in the end, discuss who I hypothesize that he might be now. Publishing this series now doesn’t mean the picture is complete or unalterable — writing this involved repeated combing over of years of data, but no doubt pieces are available that I missed, overlooked, didn’t have access to, would see differently I had been a fan before January 2010, or will think about differently six months from now. These pieces will also mean something different to you than they do to me. This is not a final statement, but a hedge against my own perfectionism, and a decision to proceed with imperfect knowledge. It is not RPF, but it obviously involves informed speculation about things that are likely to be controversial. I should add that this post leaves a few things out on purpose, stuff that is on my private list of Richard Armitage topics I don’t write about publicly. If you read this and say to yourself, “But what about this glaring hole in your discussion?” and you can can imagine why I didn’t mention it, you are probably right and may have stumbled upon one of them. I’m aware of three — but there may be others as well.

What I write may seem an odd turn, given my conviction that we continue not to know very much that’s reliable about Mr. Armitage, despite the relatively large body of information we do have. Much or even most of what we conclude about him relies on our interpretations of information that already involves distortions, not all of which are immediately visible. On the whole, I find that information basically unreliable — that is, under normal interpretive conditions I would presuppose the “D” reading. We can make better and worse readings of the information we have available — readings that conform more closely or less closely to this data according to particular interpretive strategy — but since the data we have to build our picture is already corrupt, using faulty data to correct anyone’s picture of Armitage complicates the problem even further. We’re all in essence speculating about the content of increasingly distorted approximations. What follows is my distorted approximation — with one crucial difference: I’ve located this reading somewhere between B and C; that is, I write in an analytical mode that suggests that, with some source critique, we could learn something reliable about Armitage from this information.

As always, however, this is only one interpretation — the one that makes sense to me in light of the way Armitagemania gripped me and has continued to exercise an ongoing fascination.

When you’ve read the pieces that follow, you’re — as always — invited to agree or disagree with me, correct me or expand on what I say or bring up other points, in the comments. What I would love even more, however, is that if you see things differently, that you write your own “My Richard Armitage” piece in the comments — or if you have a blog, you write your own post for me to link to. If I get a bunch of responses by people who don’t have blogs, I’d be happy to repost in a main post that would be more visible. It would be neat if this became a meme.

***

Although it might go without saying, it shouldn’t: I am immensely grateful to the fans who have aggregated news reports, videos, and audio interviews and all kinds of data concerning Richard Armitage, in particular those at Richard Armitage Online, RichardArmitageNet.com, and Richard Armitage Central, which I used heavily to write this series. In turn, their work relies on the collection of efforts of scores of often invisible and shadowy others who forward news and links.

There would be no Armitagemania without Richard Armitage, but there would be no fandom without you — without all of you, without all of us.

***

To Parts I-III.

***

All text © Servetus at me + richard armitage, 2012. Please credit when using excerpts and links. Images and video copyrights accrue to their owners.

~ by Servetus on November 17, 2012.

12 Responses to “My Richard Armitage: An interpretation. Preface”

  1. For me, the link to Parts I through III does not function, but takes me to “Problem?” I really want to read more, because you are so courageous in your writing and incisive in your analyses.

  2. […] preface explains what this text is — not conventional professional biography, but rather my […]

  3. […] are links to Preface (explains what this series is) and Part I (covering Richard Armitage’s family background, […]

  4. […] are links to Preface (explains the series); Part I (Richard Armitage’s family background, childhood, adolescence, […]

  5. […] biography of Mr. Armitage available is this one at Richard Armitage Online. Previously: Preface (explains the series); Part I (Richard Armitage’s family background, childhood, adolescence, […]

  6. […] discuss philosophically led me to start some of the projects that long been waiting, particularly the interpretive biography of Armitage that’s still under preparation, and to resume some […]

  7. […] rereading of Armitage’s early personal messages to fans and the early media trail as I write the “My Richard Armitage” series has revealed is that at the beginning of his career, he did show all these elements of boyish […]

  8. […] Armitage that we get as fans. The most intriguing parts of Richard Armitage’s biography, for those of us who think about it, lie in the most hidden pieces of his life. Although there’s not a tremendous overflow of […]

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