“me + richard armitage” at three years old. Personal reflections.

[Past blogiversaries: one and thoughts on one and two.]

Three years ago today, on a bit of a desperate whim, I started this blog. I’ve talked intermittently about the life events that brought me there, so even though I haven’t been able to give away all the secrets that have troubled me, or at least not in the ways I would have liked to, I’m not going to talk about that stuff today. As the “Erebor” situation wears on, there may be more need to discuss that stuff as I have to delve deeper into what my failures have meant.

Today, I want to write what it has felt like, and feels like, to blog here, about this topic, and about some of what I think I’ve learned, and maybe, a little bit, about the future.

Musings, more than anything comprehensive. Very much writing for me — and probably boring for you — although all of you are invited to witness this, as you’ve been invited to witness everything else that I can bear myself to write about. One of those milestone posts for me.

[parenthetical subsequent insertion — I’m surprised at how hard it still was to document this. Oh well.]

I. February 2010-August 2011. Servetus the Armitage fan emerges.

At the beginning — I’m thinking really of the first year and more of the blog — Armitagemania, and then writing about it here, felt like things that just took me over. Their force alternatively energized and frightened me. A side dynamic was also strongly in evidence — shame not only about the feelings, but also about the need to express those feelings.

The beginning of writing, I see now, was a self-stabilization after so many years of disasters and drought. Just being able to write again was such a relief. The realization that I hadn’t lost all the things I thought were dead, chief among them my positive feelings and my intellect, both of which I thought were gone, but also, and not irrelevantly, my sex drive, which I now see was directly connected to the other two. The commentators at that time played the important role of helping me, encouraging me to enthuse, helping me to enjoy the logorrhea.

The shame was also important, in so many ways. First, because it made me look more closely at myself. If I was that happy, didn’t I deserve to feel ashamed of it? Or did I, really?

Second, and this isn’t obvious — because the effect of my shame manifesting here attracted (and continues to attract) people who thought the fact that I concede shame over things means that I can be cowed; because I sometimes admit feel badly, I can always be made to feel worse; because I feel weak and tell it, that I also am weak.

Herewith: thanks to the people who always keep pointing out to me that I am stronger than I think and don’t let up on that message.

As a subsidiary, related point to the shame question: because things I wrote not only led to disagreement, but also made some people viscerally angry, I had to learn to stand up for myself when I thought I was right. And I had to learn how to care less about what people thought of me or what I said (a hard lesson for an academic). I had to figure out what was essential to the blog project, and what was a side issue. (Even though I didn’t realize what the blog project was then — other than relieving bad feeling.) It’s striking how many of the “most popular over time” posts listed below relate to something that was hard for me to articulate and then in turn created controversy. I don’t think of myself as an argumentative personality so much as a stubborn one. That definitely translated here, but I’ve been able to learn lessons about it here that were never so clear at work.

I don’t want to give the 2010 moments that were identity shaping too much time — because they were so often negative — even though it’s inter alia in friction to others that we develop our sense of who we are. I know what they were and readers at the time will remember them. Most of them happened in June.

In the same first phase, two moments in 2011 were really key. First, the hullabaloo around the Christchurch fundraising event. This deserves a longer narrative examination at some point, but for now — I was made hugely uncomfortable by the notional proximity in which I put myself to Richard Armitage without thinking. My anxiety over that led a fellow blogger to formulate for me something we ended up calling the “bubble rule,” a metaphor for thinking about what I was doing that emphasized and reminded me of my actual distance from Richard Armitage, despite any apparent transparency. A rationalizing step, and / but one that I badly needed.

Second, the message, which finally made it through that summer, from a new commentator, that I didn’t need to feel shame over the very act of doing this and that the only problem lay in not using the feelings, both positive and negative, to realize what was going on. That was a really decisive moment — when I finally became convinced that I needed to stop apologizing.

In sum, the lessons: relearning to speak and feel; dealing with the consequences of articulating shame; learning to rope off a private sphere for myself notionally so I could explore what I wanted to explore inside the bubble; the shock of feeling beauty and sexual attraction; and then, at the end, becoming able to reject both internally- and externally-generated needs to apologize for what I was doing.

II. August 2011–Fall 2012. Figuring out what’s it about.

The second phase lasted from approximately then until some time in the Fall of 2012 — approximately a year.

The beginning of the second phase felt like a dormancy, not least because of the huge disruption of moving here, the execution of John Porter in the first episode of series 2 of Strike Back, and then the occurrence of relatively little of note in Armitage’s career that was visible to fans as he was working on The Hobbit and mostly out of sight. I fell upon the “Armitage anatomy” posts as a tool for letting off steam, and took on the question of objectification briefly via a series of posts responding to Judiang, although I couldn’t make myself finish that series, either, because it was going somewhere that was still fairly off-limits for this blog. [Note to self — reinjection of spiritual piece with exposure to new shul, as well as legitimating encounters with Pesky.] FanstRAvaganza 3 organization took a lot of creative energy in the spring of 2012, as well. The series I started about my identification with John Thornton in January had to be postponed until June, and then stopped when my mother became ill.

The landmark event of this phase was my decision to start publishing my RPF sexual fantasies about Armitage as my own statements on this blog (and then the fallout from that decision over the course of the year). In retrospect, it seems obvious that this theme emerged precisely because of that relatively quiet period, as I was calm again and unstressed, and was seeking to move the next step creatively. It emerged specifically as sexual fantasy for reasons that any psychologist would have pointed to immediately but which were opaque to me. I only knew I had to start both copping to the fantasies and then publish them; the conviction that I was being dishonest by saying nothing and the desire to speak became impossible to resist.

Here again, my stubbornness protected the more vulnerable pieces of my spirit. I may not be completely convinced of what I’m doing — but if you tell me not to do it, watch out. I persisted in the face of repeated charges of mental instability, and new charges that as the only purpose of erotic writing is to titillate, I was pandering for the sake of attracting readers. (If you’re curious — those posts are not googleable — so you have to be following the blog to see them. None of them are even in the top fifty posts. The scandal over the decision to publish generated many more hits than the publication itself.) It was something I had to do / say. I think that at that point, the capacity to be creative had become so important to me that I wasn’t going to hide beyond my analytical façade any more. And, of course, any therapist would have pointed out the connection of libido and desire to creativity and generativity.

On some level, I was paying for that decision all spring, as I lost friends over it. The nadir, however, was the naming of this blog as a source of scandal by a commentator on imdb (who was clearly a sockpuppet) just as Armitage appeared at ComicCon, and the decision of a fellow blogger to reanimate the debate at the same time. Once again, someone else’s outrage ended up generating more attention for this blog than the ostensibly objectionable content. That this all coincided with my mother’s surgery for advanced ovarian cancer and my father’s cataract surgery in his single working eye was the not-very-sweet cherry on top. Friends talked me off the ledge — and I realized, as my nerves were stretched to the absolute edge, something that wouldn’t become fully clear until I’d left home and had a little while to think: That the solution was already there in nuce, however, and although it took me some time to articulate it, was clear in that I managed to keep my shit together blogwise that whole time, not lashing back with all the force I could have. In this, I was supported by a group of chatroom friends who always encouraged me to react with kindness when I could. Intellectually, there were two key moments that summer, as well — the conversation with OtherFan about how Armitage leads with his emotions, and exchange with UK Expat about the process of being socialized as a child to turn one’s emotions off.

In sum: learning to express my creativity energy where and how I could — and not judging my own creative impulses, however they emerged, as in need of being hidden or illegitimate because of the form in which they expressed themselves. This was the biggest step toward self-integration that I had made so far, even if the consequences were hard to bear. The lesson of this period — the blog was a journey toward self-integration, a goal I wasn’t going to be able to neglect any longer, either for professional or personal reasons. Deciding that I was going to look at the way Armitage presented emotions or prioritized certain kinds of emotional reactions as a way of creating his characters. Allowing myself to accept that my emotions were as real as my rational reactions.

III. Phase III. Fall 2012-present. Servetus wants to learn to lead with the emotions.

I needed some time to recover from the summer once I got back, but there have been two relatively strong thrusts since the fall. It’s hard for me to speak as meaningfully about this piece, because it seems to be developing still.

The first is the expression of the main outcome of Phase II, which is a greater acceptance of my capacity for all feeling, and especially for positive feeling, however it occurs, including as (metaphorically sexual) euphoria. This means both a decision to stop editing strong emotions — and cease distinguishing between good / bad, acceptable / unacceptable kinds of feelings and or loves. This realization led to a number of posts about love last fall that made several people uncomfortable — and is probably the reason for my strong reaction to a post this week that suggested that fans of Armitage should beware their “objectifying” impulses. I’ve ceased to believe in objectification as a meaningful category for talking about the outcomes of my own experiences. This is a shaming category, not a productive one. More about this eventually, I am sure. The most productive realization: love casts out fear. Use that love honorably, but don’t write it off as something beautiful, with no larger purpose, either.

The second is a revival of the analytical impulse that got buried this summer in the sea of negative emotion. Key here was my exposure via tumblr to a series of posts by Guylty on how pictures of Armitage work technically and compositionally. I was able to win her as a collaborator to the blog. Her interest in discussing themes visually that I wanted to 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 others.

IIIA. Interlude: The Hobbit press blitz.

Two things to say about this, quickly, again because the significance is still developing. A lot of this materialized as fan service — providing screencaps, translations, and instant reactions. And I remain a fan of Richard Armitage. I loved participating in this euphoria and watching our world expand. I am not giving that up!

First — the experience of seeing a further developed Richard Armitage everywhere. Everywhere! Thrill over the reward for his success. Admiration for his growth as an artist and as a public figure. Trying to learn for myself from the lessons he seems to have learned in this period.

Second — totally unanticipated identification with Thorin Oakenshield that had been building since March but emerged toward the end of August in conjunction with a potential new job opportunity that I’ve been calling the “Erebor” quest.

IV. Quo vadis Servetus the blogger?

What do I want from this next phase?

First, if Erebor continues — that is going to change my life significantly. I have at least a few more weeks to wait. No matter what happens there, however: NO MORE FEAR.

But, whatever happens there, what do I want next?

Second, continue to write about Armitage in light of realizations regarding emotion, love, self-integration.

Third, more close analysis of Armitage’s acting. Lots still to be gleaned here.

Fourth, resumption of stalled projects and series: esp. re Thornton, performing Richard Armitage, Armitage barbatus, Armitage leads with the emotions, interpretive biography.

Fifth, don’t forget to have fun, Servetus!

Sixth, publish some of the stuff on backlog that I was too scared to publish when it was written — in realization that The Hobbit has expanded our world enough that I’m no longer on the extreme margins of thinking and saying what’s acceptable when I publish a modest, romantic, explicit RPF. Say some of the things I’ve wanted to say all along.

NO MORE FEAR.

V. Conclusion.

Emotionally, I’d been predicting the end of this blog for last November. Seems silly now. I had good reasons for that date when I set it, though. LOL.

Now, I’m not sure. Blogging is a weird thing, and events and their effects are unpredictable. However: doing this still plays an important role in my life, and I’m still getting somewhere doing it. It’s not just that Richard Armitage remains a fruitful topic, although that is still true. It’s that it gives me an opportunity to work through my problems in a way that seems trivial but still carries important realizations with it and has important outcomes. All of the readers play an important role in that — including responding to comments and thinking about what you say.

So yeah — I’m committed to continuing this as long as I continue to grow in wisdom and understanding by doing it, and as long as it remains in concert with my practical goals in my non-blog life to do so.

OK. That was a less heroic ending than I had hoped for, and a lot of this prose is turgid, but that’s where I am.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to the next year.

NO MORE FEAR.

~ by Servetus on February 25, 2013.

28 Responses to ““me + richard armitage” at three years old. Personal reflections.”

  1. NO MORE FEAR. Cheers and Happy Blogiversary! Can’t wait to read the RPF. I hope you can continue on your journey of growing in the knowledge you need via the blog.

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  2. Happy Blogiversary! I knew you had more in you. 😉

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  3. I fear I’ve ruined any chance of you ever wanting to be my friend, which makes me feel sad. That said, I will continue to read and enjoy your blog, for it is full of the essence of your courage and uniqueness as a human being. May all your righteous desires come true.

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    • Thanks for the good wishes. One of the things I’ve had to accept and embrace in writing the blog is the realization that I can’t be everything people want or need me to be.

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  4. NO MORE FEAR indeed! Go, Servetus! Happy Blogiversary! You can be proud of what you have done here, and may the coming year bring you all that you hope for. I suspect that there will be tough passages ahead, and you will need the Thorin energy. Have courage; you are more heroic than you realize. And remember that we are with you.

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    • It’s so wild how readers taught me that. Suspending my convictions about my inadequacies is a lot easier with you guys around.

      The next month. Uch. But I will survive it, too. And whatever happens afterwards.

      Thanks.

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  5. Happy blogiversary Servetus and congratulations for your blog. 🙂

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  6. I’m a bit late but Happy Blogiversary Servetus ! I love your blog so much !

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  7. When people plan their future, they are driven by motivation or determination. Motivation is thinking: “it would be good, if I do it”. And determination is: “I want to do it and I begin to work to achieve this goal right now”. I think I should wish you determination, as you keep it on the same level for three years. Thank you, Servetus. You are a fantastic person, full of passion that impressed all of us. I wish you all your plans and dreams come true.

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  8. Thank You for taking us on the journey of your life, by doing so I have started to think about my own childhood and the less that perfect childhood it was. We all need to keep growing to keep living and learning. My every best to you as you keep going down life’s road. Thank You for the encouragement you have given to me. I look forward to what you have to write next.

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    • Thanks for saying that. You know, for so many years, I thought (not least because my parents made me feel this way) that I need to brush off the past — just in the sense that I grew up fine and it was all in the past. But I see now what’s affected me and how. It’s great to have your support on this journey.

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  9. Congrads and best wishes for year FOUR!

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  10. Dear Servetus!
    Thank you very much for nearly every morning and sometimes evening too 😉 “me+richard armitage” plus first morning coffee (kofii?;)) …so many pleasant connotations….so many thoughts and feelings. Thank you for everything once more.

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  11. What an overview of your blogging developement, Servetus.
    I better should say, Servetus the brave, as that is what you are, in weathering the storms in fandom, but also the storms inside you and not having fear to touch and examine those topics, emotions and feelings. Most (and I must admit I also) shy away from discovering and examining their own depths too closely, fearing what they could find. But with your blog, it is an adventure to go inside one’s mind on a discovery journey and to go further than I alone perhaps would feel comfortable with. Toghether with you, it is a wonderful adventure ! Thank you for this journey together, Servetus !!!

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  12. Wow, where did the time go! I know I have only been reading for 15 months but I love seeing the email letting me know that you have posted another thought provoking post.

    I hope you continue to post as I am enjoying it so much and also learning lots of new big words!!

    xxx

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    • Thanks, Rosiepig — glad you’ve been here for that time!

      I’ll keep it up for now, anyway, unless something really unexpected changes.

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  13. I remember when I first became infatuated with Richard Armitage and started browsing the world-wide-web to look for more of his work as well as more information about him. I started by looking on YouTube then discovered RANet as well as RAOnline and RACentral. While surfing the net, I’d occasionally see a site called Me and Richard Armitage. I’m not sure why that name was so tantilizing, but I always wondered what was going on over there. Finally my curiosity got the best of me and I accessed Me & Richard Armitage. I’d heard people talk about blogs, blogging, etc but never read any until I read Me & RA. One of the first things that stood out about Me & Richard Armitage was the intellect of the blogger. Other things that impressed me were the overall design and the variety of topics as well as the variety of writing styles — there was analysis, history, funny, serious, fiction, fantasy — you name it and it’s here. The other aspect that I enjoyed was the exchange of ideas between all the folks who were commenting – a lot of which had absolutely nothing to do with Richard Armitage. This has basically been the gateway to all things Armitage for me — including all the other wonderful blogs.
    Here’s to another year of Me & Richard Armitage and all that entails. Thanks!

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  14. […] version of the “fourth wall” I observe is called the “bubble rule,” and it’s been in place since about the first year of the blog. It was explained to me […]

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  15. […] through the prism of observations about Richard Armitage and my fascination with him. It developed. Gradually it became about self-acceptance and integrating the confusing and contradictory parts of m…. Then it became about (re-)finding and accepting a writerly identity. I’m not saying that […]

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  16. […] I knew I didn’t want, said I didn’t want, suddenly collapsed in my emotions. “The bubble rule” had been a fundamental proviso for me since the beginning of blogging — and suddenly […]

    Like

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