All that I do and for all that I feel

tumblr_mvrql6uba01sckib6o1_1280[Left: Richard Armitage before the Hobbit life event, New York, November 4, 2013. Screencap from a vine vid.]

In the midst of mindlessly mampfing the popcorn, I’d read something particularly punishing toward fans, written by someone who claimed to be a fellow fan, but clearly wasn’t, and I had the thought that I suspect a lot of us have from time to time, is this really worth it? Why do I keep letting myself do this? I won’t reproduce the comment I read, but it was an intentionally baiting remark that a lot of us have heard over the years about the pointlessness of caring about all of this in the face of much greater, more troubling things happening in the world. I’ve always found that a stupid argument (because some people suffer terrible things does not make my comparatively minor suffering totally meaningless), and moreover, the fact that I care a lot about this particular thing doesn’t mean that I care not at all about many of those troubling things. Of course I didn’t say anything, because the person who made the comment made it on purpose to anger fangirls.

But thinking about it tonight it made me contemplative. It’s interesting that we only ask ourselves this question — why do this? is this worth it? aren’t there more important things to be worried about? — at bad points. At all the good points we are so euphoric that we never bother to wonder about the merits of being a fan, of the cost of all of the work (fan labor, to use an expression I learned from AgzyM), of the appropriateness of all of the love we feel. What we feel at those points justifies everything, makes all the attention we pay to this topic worth it. Conversely, that effect explains why flames burst out during periods when little is happening, I think, because a flame that ignited during a period of high activity and lots of new data to feed our affections tends to get ignored. And when I see a flame, I’m more vulnerable to self-doubt than at any other time (except perhaps when a troll is focusing on me). Why all the negativity? It’s like we’ve forgotten all of the positivity, all of a sudden. (When that happens, the happiness thieves go home with their pockets full. I often wonder what they do with all the happiness. Is there a stolen happiness market somewhere on eBay?)

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 7.03.40 PM[Right: Richard Armitage, WonderCon 2014, Las Vegas, as photographed by Heather Sieimon]

And, of course, that’s the answer. We do this because it makes us feel good, because it relieves sorrow or provides escape or makes us laugh or unites us with each other, because it makes us feel, and solidarize, and think, because it feeds creativity and transforms our relationships with the people around us in positive ways, because it helps us see our lives differently, even if only for the moments in which we’re submerged in the feeling and fantasy that allow us to forget the allegedly more important and more “real” circumstances in which we live.

And it’s enough. We prevail in seeing the world through the glasses of the fan even at low points — because these are such amazing benefits, because the feeling is precisely what we need and what moves us forward and part of what allows us to care about things outside of ourselves, things that might admittedly be more important than the cut of a tie or the way Richard Armitage acts a particular scene.

Because doing this lets us see the world in a different way.

So yes, this is important. The feelings of joy we feel on good days are not ridiculous, or less important than our awareness of the problems in the world around us. And thinking about “why” in the context of the wonderful moments makes the less-than-wonderful ones, wherever they come from, much more bearable.

I feel like I’m repeating myself here, but then this blog courses around certain themes anyway, one being the permission to feel and another being the triggers for flow experiences and creativity. In particular, despite my own trained proclivities toward rationality, I’m starting to see the way in which the demands by hostile forces to be rational end up as a sort of greatest possible moral hammer to sling at people (and maybe that’s how the happiness thieves mine their happiness). I don’t know why people feel the need to stand on a moral high ground — let he who has not sinned cast the first stone — but I know that those who occupy that place with the primary goal of harming others are not really standing on any moral high ground that I can either recognize, respect, or allow to be applicable to my own experiences.

In the end, then, we turn to this because of the good times and maybe the main thing we can do for each other is to try as hard as we can to make as many days as possible good times so that when we are asked, in a baiting way — why are you doing this? — the best possible answer ends up being joyous laughter. Don’t you see how it transforms us, how it transforms everything we touch?

~ by Servetus on May 16, 2014.

59 Responses to “All that I do and for all that I feel”

  1. One of my favorite ever quotes from a comedian:

    “People will kill you. Over time. They will shave out every last morsel of fun in you with little, harmless-sounding phrases that people use every day, like ‘Be realistic.’” – Dylan Moran

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    • the thing that I was thinking today was something along the lines of — well, why wouldn’t people care about something they’d put a lot of time into (whatever it was), and why make fun of people for caring about something frivolous (because everything is frivolous from some perspective). In a way, fangirling is a super-realistic activity precisely because we know what it costs.

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      • And is one of the few soul-saving things, sometimes, that a person knows they will have enough time and energy to engage with after having to get through an entire day of all of that “real life” crap.

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      • Exactly, almost everything is frivolous from some perspective. While I admit that I sometimes think about comments/events/displays of shallowness in general “Mensch werde wesentlich”, when reconsidering this the thought is a bit arrogant.
        Anyway, in this and similar blogs those people are gathered that draw enjoyment, togetherness and meaning from the fandom and I can happily ignore other places (and will not even go near them).

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  2. This is a really astute piece – the point about the happiness thieves being at their most powerful in quiet times resonates strongly.

    I find an effective way of dealing with the “why would you…” question is to look astonished and say “well why WOULDN’T I!” as if the question is so ridiculous it doesn’t warrant a detailed reply. This generally shuts the critics up – my exasperated response makes them pause and wonder if they are missing something and they don’t generally pursue it further.

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  3. Du sprichst mir aus dem Herzen Serv! Auch ich quäle mich gerne mit der Frage, ob das nicht unproduktiv und “unwichtig” ist, sich mit diesen Dingen zu beschäftigen. Aber zu Hölle, es ist wie Balsam auf meiner Seele und wenn ich sehe, wie zivilisiert besonders bei Dir die Kommunikation abläuft, dann fühle ich eigentlich nur Positives! Und ja, natürlich gibt es viel Elend auf der Welt. Aber so eindimensional sind wir hier in dieser speziellen Community ganz sicher nicht . Die Art deiner Beriche filtert da schon eine Menge “falscher” Fans raus 🙂

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    • Mal ganz davon abgesehen, dass es keinerlei Einfluss auf das Elend in der Welt hat, ob du, ich oder Servetus einen Abend mit RA-Bilder, -Filmen oder Fanfiction verbringen oder nicht.

      Natürlich könnten wir auch händeringend in der Ecke sitzen und das Elend der Welt bejammern. Der Effekt wäre derselbe – nur mit dem Unterschied, dass wir uns selbst damit um ein Vergnügen bringen würde. Wem wäre damit geholfen?

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      • Klar, reine rhetorische Frage. Dient auch nur zur Selbstvergewisserung, dass alles seine Richtigkeit hat im organisierten Fanwahnsinn und man sich nich ständig einreden muss, wenig sinnvoll zu agieren 🙂

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        • Ein bisschen Beklopptheit ist völlig normal – und verbessert die Lebensqualität enorm. 🙂

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          • Das tut sooooo gut, wie man hier unterstützt wird. DANKE! 🙂
            Das ersetzt fast einen Therapeuten 🙂 🙂

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    • Btw: wie genau fallen deine Texte aus, wenn du mindful “mampfst? “( ein feines lautmalerisches Wort, ich höre dich förmlich schmatzen…..).

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      • das ist eine Verenglischung eines deutschen Wortes, oder?

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        • Klar: mampfen = mit vollen Backen kauen ( Quelle : Duden)
          Der Denglish -Mix ist wirklich fein. Macht Laune beim Lesen 🙂
          Nett für uns Deutschsprachler. Kriegst du Feedbacks zu den Begriffen aus dem Rest der Welt ? Oder wird das unter “Servetus’ Eigenheiten” abgehakt?

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    • Na, wir haben auch hier unsere Schwierigkeiten gehabt — growing pains — ich hoffe, wir schaffen es, so zivilisiert mit einander wie möglich umzugehen.

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      • Shitstorming Fangirls? Wie geht man mit sowas um? Dürfte schwierig sein. Kannst ja schlecht ein Schild aufstellen: Raus hier! Und Hausverbot geht irgendwie auch nicht 🙂

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  4. Happiness thieves: Do they resent this particular fandom for making well-wishers happy, or fandoms and their participants in general? Do they want to steal happiness from sports fans? I am reminded of the quote from Willie Sutton, famous thief. When they asked him why he robbed banks, he replied “Because that’s where the money is.” Well, this is where the happiness is. We should be proud we are such a happy group we attract thieves who try to rob us, and still an abundance of happiness remains. We can not be made poor because no matter how much thieves may take, our happiness is renewed. New photos or news energizes us, so perhaps when things are “slow” it’s easier to break into the bank. We are a little more vulnerable at those times. But then something happens, and we are rich in happiness once again. And the thieves have shown, over and over, that they have very little of their own happiness, because they cannot create their own. They can only steal it from others.

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    • I couldn’t agree with you more. We are a diverse group of people who enjoy following RA’s career. I also feel that we are people from many countries with a common interest. I checked IMDH the other day and washstand distressed by the tone and pure nastiness. Never again

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    • Nicely put.

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  5. Why do people do it? I don’t know and I don’t get it…but I feel sorry for them.
    I started crying at “..a stolen happiness market somwhere on eBay”,(((Serv))) :*…Thanks for adding Richie’s smiling face 🙂

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  6. Amen! Beautifully expressed.

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  7. Totally agree with you Servetus.
    Tongue in cheek – they are just jealous of our love of RA.
    More seriously – it is interesting that football fanatics / tragics (or any other sport) are considered much more socially acceptable than us fangirls.

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    • That is exactly what I was thinking! MUCH more time, money, emotional energy worldwide is spent on sports, and how is that not frivolous, by the same yardstick the haters are using?

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  8. However long I have been a fan, this question remains central in my “daily fangirling practice” – the continuous question for the why, why me, why now. So why spend energy and time when there are greater causes in this world that need attention? You have already answered the question: Because it is essentially a positive activity that releases creative, positive feelings which in turn release energy to tackle the great and small problems of our lives.
    Does this question only pop up at times of crisis? I don’t think so. As I said, I find myself continuously justifying my activities to myself – and occasionally to others. (Funnily enough I find it much easier to convince others of the merit of fangirling than myself.) But the question can be used as a powerful killer argument in those fandom crisis moments because it ultimately seems to question the sanity – or priority-making abilities – of those who openly engage in fandom activities. It discredits us and reduces us to mindless, drooling imbeciles who cannot distinguish between reality and dream. And however much we claim that we do it for the uplift and the joy and the feeling of community, the critics don’t want to accept that.
    If they insist on seeing us in a bad light, then here’s my admission: I fangirl for utterly selfish reasons! Because it makes me feel good. It makes me feel loved. It makes me feel creative. I am using my activities as a fan blogger and creator of fan art as an excuse to garner friends and followers. I am essentially using Richard Armitage and his unsuspecting fans as a source of energy for my own good. Box office sales of Armitage’s latest film or his rise to stardom only interest me tangentially. I am not fangirling to benefit him in his career. There. I think the Director-General of the AA will excommunicate me now.
    PS: “mindlessly mampfing” LOL. Nice alliteration!

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    • Komplett und ohne Einschränkung zugestimmt!

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    • Maybe it’s better to say that the question is different at times of crisis / silence. I don’t find myself asking the question in the rush of a Hobbit premiere, for instance.

      It’s a great point about not necessarily fangirling to aid in his career — if people want to do that, it’s fine, and of course we want him to do well.

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      • Wanting him to do well goes without saying. I am just not really seeing myself as a promoter, more like a supporter. But having said that – fangirling takes all sorts of forms, so those who actively promote his career are certainly doing something with merit…

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  9. Totally agree. The charge that there are greater causes out there is really quite bizarre. One hardly looks around and sees everyone devoting themselves to the greater good, day in and day out. Are people who watch “reality” TV, or sport attacked in the same way? I think not!

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  10. everyone needs a way to calm their mind; often focusing on other things is an effective way of doing that, like a writer who writes more than one thing at a time to counteract writer’s block. I grew up Catholic and those who are not of that denomination always have a hard time understanding what the purpose of all the repetition is, don’t the prayers and creeds and whatnot loose their meaning if you’re just saying them by rote? no, actually I’ve found the opposite to be true: it’s a way to free your mind and heart, to get into the “zone” and open yourself up. not that fangirling is a religious experience for me laughs but it does make me feel lighter and opens my mind up, mainly b/c it’s something I choose to do myself, no one is telling me I have to do it for work, social, family, etc. it’s something that is mine. and it makes me feel good, and I meet people I might never have met in my everyday life, and I’m exposed to things (good and bad) that inform me of the world that I live in and help me grow as a person. so I see “fangirling” as a very good thing. just an aside: those people who are saying that there are more important things going on in the world? well, why are they “wasting their time” watching the antics of fangirls? 😉

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    • ah, I just saw your last sentence. Yes, totally agree (see comment agreeing with you above).

      also totally agree on repetitive prayer. Judaism is the same.

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  11. I just watched this PBS video on the Future of Fandom which really talks about the positive and transformative aspects, plus politics, too. I think it serves to broaden the issue from just the Armitage fandom and nicely relates to the conversation here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3EBR1hlbI&feature=share&list=PL69BD06CC7

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  12. Reblogged this on Saraleee and commented:
    A very thoughtful post about why we do the things we do — why be a fan, why create, or write, or draw, or do anything — purely for the pleasure of it? Because of the pleasure of it.

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  13. Is finding inspiration in Richard Armitage any less frivolous than finding it in a great book, a painting, or a piece of music?

    Yes, I do enjoy the eye candy. I do. But that isn’t the only reason I am a fan. It’s maybe 20%.

    This has been such a positive force in my life he inspired me to write. It all started with one story, that I am now adapting for stage.

    I find that inspiration comes from many sources and finding it in a talented, and yes handsome actor, is that wrong? Not for me.

    Is this a gender issue? Are men who paint their faces and spend hours and hours pouring of statistics told that they are crazy?

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    • I could not agree more… 80% of the men & boys I know are inspired by athletes, why not an accomplished actor with a great work ethic and intelligent approach to his craft? Congratulations on going forth with your writing! That’s great!

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      • I should have added – (an actor) who also happens to be handsome?
        It would be unfair for “non-well-wishers” to discount Richard’s talent because of his looks, and I sometimes wonder if he feels that has happened to him

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  14. What I do with regard to the fandom and Richard and his work makes me happy. I don’t ask for more than that.

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  15. Hallo Servetus, herzlichen Dank für diesen Text, der mir aus der Seele spricht und v.a. das erste Foto. RA sieht darauf aus wie jemand der nach einer langen Nacht glücklich aus dem Bett gefallen ist, sprich wie ein ganz normaler Mensch. Im Kontrast dazu das zweite (offizielle) Foto – mir ist das Inoffizielle tausendmal lieber!
    Nachdem mich der flash, Du hast es “flame” genannt, erwischt hat und ich niemanden fand mit dem ich mich austauschen konnte, habe ich zum ersten Mal blogs gelesen. Und erfreut festgestellt, dass es da draußen ja noch viele weitere crazy people wie mich gibt und die sich darüber austauschen – das war befreiend und eine tolle neue Erfahrung! Die vielfältigen Informationen die Ihr blogger veröffentlicht, die Bilder, die Videos, das bereichert mein heimliches Fanleben und zaubert mir oft ein Lächeln auf das Gesicht. Dann ist der Tag schon ein bißchen freundlicher, der Alltag nicht ganz so alltäglich. Ja, das Wichtigste ist (für mich) die Gemeinschaft des gleichen Interesses, der Austausch, der uns für Momente aus der Routine katapultiert (das Gummiband holt uns zwar bald wieder zurück, aber kurzfristig waren wir draußen). Und das beschert mir so ein gutes Gefühl und man sieht das Leben mal wieder von einer völlig neuen Seite. Dankeschön, bitte mach weiter so!
    Leider reicht mein Englisch nicht ganz für eine angemessene Übersetzung, aber ich glaube Du verstehst ganz gut deutsch?

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    • Ich bin ehrlich froh, dass sich hier noch jemand auf deutsch outet! 🙂

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      • Mein Englisch ist leider zu schlecht für differenzierte Kommentare wie diesen, ich könnte es versuchen und alle die des Englischen wirklich mächtig sind gewaltig zum lachen bringen 😉

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        • Lass dich drücken, Schwester im Geiste ! 🙂
          Dann schreiben wir mal schön differenziert auf deutsch weiter. Servetus wird’s (hoffentlich) nicht stören und vielleicht kitzeln wir noch ein paar Andere aus der Deckung 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • Du kannst gerne Deutsch schreiben 🙂 Ich völlig Deiner Meinung 🙂

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  16. You have a very sane attitude, friend. Admiration is what all beings seek, either to give or receive, as it is considered the highest form of attention. It gives us joy, and anyone that tries to make less of that is not someone you should allow in your life in any way. So, I will take your suggestion and break out into joyous laughter at the detractors. And then go back and continue to admire RA in all of his wonderful guises–because I like it and it makes me feel good! Cheers 🙂

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    • I keep replaying the end of “Day of the Dove” (Star Trek episode) in my mind. Laugh at the strange flickering energy being!

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  17. Reblogged this on The Science of Being Random.

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  18. I think I remember reading said remark on Tumblr and was very angry about it, but I forgot about it a few days later. I often come across such things on Tumblr and Twitter and to an extent, spend a lot of time thinking about them. I don’t think being a fangirl is a waste of time, that being in a fandom is stupid. If people can get obsessed with silly vampire romances, I don’t see what’s wrong in being ‘obsessed’ (I don’t even think anyone in the Armitage fandom is “obsessed” with him) with an actor. For me, it’s a way of letting go. Also, as others have said, I too, find inspiration in Richard. And it makes me feel good. Heck, even looking at his face makes me feel good. Fangirling is a wonderful way of getting away from all the RL troubles. So if fangirling makes me feel better, I’ll do it.

    LOVE this post!

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    • This wasn’t on tumblr, but I think it’s obvious by this point that the trolls on imdb tried it on tumblr first and the tumblr folks mostly laughed at them once they saw what was happening. (Helps that tumblr isn’t such a verbal medium, I think.)

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  19. for me Richard Armitage has been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal mundane and gloomy life .Connecting with other fans , even in a small way , has brightened my days .. The energy and creativity that flows from this wonderful actor is not to be dismissed because so many “girls ” …follow and admire and love him .My son ridicules me for spending time on the fan sites ,yet , the productivity and happiness that comes from being part of this army of fans far exceeds any hobby , sport group team or even some friendships I have ever been involved in before …Fangirling makes me happy , it makes me smile , it makes me laugh out loud and enriches my life ,it makes me feel part of something wonderful, all you fans out there ..all admiring ,loving Mr Armitage .Pheww I better stop as I think I’m going of tangent !!!!!!!!! As said above ,why not ?

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    • We’ll be happy to smile and laugh in a friendly way at your son. Perhaps he would like to come to the movies with us? 🙂

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  20. I’m loving this marvelous Freudian slip in your caption, Servetus: “Left: Richard Armitage before the Hobbit life event, New York, November 4, 2013.”

    It was called The Hobbit “Fan” Event — and it was “live.” I know because I was there. Wait, maybe it was a “life” event. It certainly affected my life. Yeah, we can call it the Hobbit Life Event!

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  21. Everyone has something to make there life a bit better, whatever that might be. If Richards work, pictures and interviews put a smile on our faces then that is great. Their has been more to being in a fandom than just looking at Richard (that is a nice part for sure) it’s about the people you met and the friendships one has. We our more alike than we know.

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