Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Death of the Author

This isn't what I wanted to spend the morning thinking about it, but this is what bubbled up from my memories. I write it down, as an act of exorcism. Here is my side of the story, an old story, so old it's been forgotten, except by me (and I don't even remember the details, just the emotional core).

I referenced Barthes this morning on Tumblr, talking about an incident in which an artist under discussion on One Week One Band contacted the author of the posts to dispute the fan's account of a song's meaning.

Every time I reference Barthes’ Death of the Author, I relive the moment with that ILX bully who wanted to make it literally more believable that I had somehow never heard Barthes, than it was believable that triggering, as a psychological phenomenon, could be real.

It still infuriates, and I know that this is his aim, as a lifelong career bully, that this is what bullies want, to take up residence in your head, to inhabit your mental real estate like a tenant you can’t evict.

But this is it... that *his* version of me was accepted as truth, and my version of me dismissed, rewritten, twisted.

(Isn’t that what the criticism vs musician kerfuffle I’ve just addressed is really about? Whose version gets to be The Truth?)

This may be triggering (tw: suicide) but I have forgotten how to put things behind a cut on Blogspot.


I’ve suffered intermittently from severe depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation for much of my life. I now know, that a lot of it is related to the constant state of anxiety and isolation produced by autism, and some of it is the residue of stress from years of abuse and bullying.

But one of the repeated facets of this, is that when I am down in that state of severe depression where suicide looks like an appealing option, discussion of suicide is intensely triggering to me. That means that descriptions of suicide, depictions of suicide, discussions about suicide trigger an overwhelming (and mentally very distressing) urge and in fact desire to kill myself. It’s one of the oldest and most documented psychological phenomenons involving triggering. It’s why there are such careful guidelines around the reporting of suicides in the media, to prevent the well-documented phenomenon of Copycat Suicides.

Discussions of suicide, and reporting of the details of suicide are scientifically proven to push people who are feeling suicidal, into actually killing themselves.

I tried, during one of those terrible periods of wanting to die, to start a thread on ILX, about this urge to not-exist. I deliberately avoided using the term ‘suicide’ and asked people on the thread not to discuss suicide, or make it a discussion of suicide, in order not to trigger me. (I didn’t use the word ‘trigger’ because ILX is one of those places where cis-het white men love to debate the concept that maybe triggering ~doesn’t actually exist~? but what I wanted was no suicide talk, for my own safety.)

Mr Bully, Mr “I Don’t Believe In Triggering” (now why would a bully have a vested interest in refusing to believe in the existence of triggering? why indeed?) stomped onto the thread, observed “This thread is about SUICIDE” and proceeded to talk about suicide as a philosophical concept to throw around, AT GREAT LENGTH.

I asked him not to, I told him this was my thread, and could he please respect my wishes as to its content. He immediately started in with the “THREAD POLICE! FREE SPEECH FREEEEEE SPEEEEEEECH!!!” line, and then made a “Death of the Author” crack, goading me with his ability to mock my suffering with a pseudo-intellectual joke.

I confronted him  (what he was doing was repeatedly discussing suicide on a thread where a suicidal person has asked there NOT to be discussion of suicide, because they find it triggering - that discussion of suicide literally made my death far, far more likely) and asked if he was deliberately trying to cause my death.

His response was “LOL, I cannot believe you ~literally have never heard of Barthes~ I was making a joke you were too stupid and ill-educated to understand” and it was easier for people to believe that I was an uneducated fool ripe for mockery; rather than actual concede that perhaps triggering might be real, and that what he was doing was deliberately and repeatedly triggering someone who had asked for a space where they could look for sympathy or help or even just commiseration over their mental distress.

That night was one of the worst, during a terrible, terrible period of my life. I had fantasies about throwing myself under the Tube with a note pinned to my clothes saying “do you believe in triggering now?” Thankfully I didn’t. Somehow I stepped back from the edge. I’m in a much better place now.

Part of my recovery was learning not to go on ILX any more. I would ask, again and again, just for sympathy, let alone help, and get only mockery and bullying and people deliberately triggering me just to prove that triggering didn’t exist. Like an idiot, I would go on repeatedly, looking for comfort, until I learned that my going on ILX was actually a complicated form of self harm - that going to a place where I could count on being bullied and demonised and have people make jokes about my death from suicide - was a thing I did to reinforce my own negative self esteem, and make the pain worse.

The Bully still posts on ILX. He’s considered one of the ~popular posters~ and ~delightfully controversial~ and as far as I know, still carries on with insisting that triggering isn’t real and free speech definitely includes the right to bully vulnerable people halfway to suicide with no consequences whatsoever. The episode was considered a ~hilarious zing~ of an uppity, overly demanding woman. It became a trope for a while, this “LOL, X has never heard of Death of the Author, are you threatening me, LOL” trope.

The fury and strangled rage and sense of injustice, at how badly he twisted and misrepresented his actions (deliberately pushing a dangerously depressed person closer to suicide) as brave, valorous, hilarious; and my actions (looking for a safe place to ask for help) as stupid, ignorant, inflexible, overly demanding, control-freak, laughable, even monstrous... it threatens to choke me sometimes, this rage. But my rage is used as proof of my own monstrousness.

These people all continue to think of themselves as brave and good persons. They continue to think of me as a monster.

Quite frankly I would rather be a monster, than their idea of good person.