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I am being made into an angel.

The Beloved has opened a path in front of me. It's walking on glass, walking on coals. Other angels stand and watch. They shoot arrows into my heart.

The temptation from the path is anger. Easy, easy, to turn to anger.

I keep thinking of anger. But I am so curious. Why is the path there? I've seen it so clearly for the last year. What is the Beloved doing? Why does the Beloved offer this?

A choice over and over. Walk in to the arrows or step off the path.

Judas has kissed me. And he has not even admitted it to himself. He hides his eyes from the knowledge. He tells the lies. I would get angry, because they are lies, but I am so curious. Other people want to believe the lies. But I can see that they don't, really.

If I get angry, then we could all believe the lies. I would be labeled, punished, dismissed.

I'm not sure from moment to moment that I can continue. The arrows hurt. Lies hurt. All my work with pain and addiction seems so ironic but it is part of this too. I keep thinking: pain is bearable. Pain won't harm me. I feel it but it does not have to stop me. At any moment I may turn to anger, as my opiate addicted patients turn back to drugs. Most of them don't, though. They choose to keep walking the path. I grieve over every one who steps off the path, falling through the sky in flames. But it is their choice. I see them and it helps me be brave. I stay on the path.

Beloved, what are you doing with me? What do you have planned for me?

This might be for The Nodegel from Yuggoth: The 2011 Halloween Horrorquest.

There have been a lot of people who have tried to figure out what the magic sauce was that made Wikipedia so popular. Two Sheds recently linked to this article The contribution conundrum: Why did Wikipedia succeed while other encyclopedias failed?. It mentioned E2 near the start, and implies we're a failed encyclopedia, which I guess I can get behind, because E2 was never meant to be an encyclopedia.

E2 is intended to be a web of ideas, connected both by intentional direct links and by the naturally-arising web of softlinks that evolve as people travel about, linking knowledge, stories, and emotions together in a useful and sometimes-surprising web. The intermeshing purposes of the content, both educating, entertaining, and exploring, entangle the people creating those links, and hence you find a community intertwined within the writing, making the content and the people a bit hard to separate. Which, I know for some of the more clinical types on the site, is a problem, because it means emotional turmoil affects the health of the site and potentially means loss of material. It also makes material written by noders who have moved on sometimes weirdly hollow. Like rummaging through the attic of a recently-past relative and wishing you could talk with their ghost...

But, I wasn't intending to get too far into the matter of E2 itself, the article largely argues that Wikipedia succeeded due to being based on a familiar trope, an encyclopedia. But that's wrong. If you're like me, an active user of E2 who's talked to people IRL about the site, you've said something like "Everything2 is this community writing site, kind of like Wikipedia..." Wikipedia made a relatively new model of content creation popular enough that it is now a useful way to describe other things. And so I found it ironic that the article writer decided to say that a familiar model was what sold WP. The idea of writing words that might get mangled by five more people only minutes after you've made them is freaking unsettling at first. But it's shown undeniably useful results, mainly because the proper community is present to encourage good behavior.

But arguing that people understand what an encyclopedia is and even that they understand how Wikipedia matches an encyclopedia, I think, is wrong. Most people still don't entirely understand what encyclopedic writing is about. You can tell this because people regularly reference Wikipedia pages as if they were a primary source, and don't even bother to reference a particular revision to ensure referential integrity. You could tell this even before Wikipedia because people would look to the encyclopedia text rather than to its bibliography for research. You can tell the lack of understanding of even some of Wikipedia's own community by the bitter debates in their Talk pages. Look at the edit wars and raging about adequately presenting points of view on subjects such as Russian occupation and conflict in Chechnya; or the events of the Bosnian War; or even any revered, living monarch.

They did hit on one of the far more important lessons, however, which is the low barrier to entry. Wikipedia lets anyone edit most of its articles, even now, despite the great rise of semi-protection of popular articles in the last couple of years. A better place to look for this lesson is to look to the slow death of LiveJournal versus the massive growth of Tumblr. LiveJournal has a pretty obvious metaphor which is universally understood: the journal, shared privately or publicly. What's more, it provides far more control over the exposure of your content than Tumblr presently provides. But it has seen declining numbers while Tumblr, whose name seemingly means nothing, is usurping it as the go-to place for the quick, semi-public introspective rambling.

Why these simultaneous trends? For one, Tumblr is young, so it retains a buzz about being the hot, new thing, but that's not all. If it were, Wikipedia would be in a death spiral for being just about as ancient as LJ. Signing up to Tumblr has always been easy and very fast and the posting interface is spartan and obvious. LiveJournal has since copied some of this, most notably allowing sign on from Facebook and other external accounts. But its greater set of feature makes it seemingly harder to use, and hence not as likely to grab somebody.

If you'll pardon a return to navel-gazing at the end of my ramble, E2 has the same issues as LJ here. Our sign up page doesn't have AJAX controls built in to say "that username is already taken", "those passwords don't match", and so on that all modern sites do. We don't let people use their Facebook/LJ/Twitter/Tumblr/etc. or other OAuth account be their account here (provided the username is free). And if you click the sign up button on a page down where it says "If you had an account, you could write something here.", you don't get taken to a page, post sign up, that lets you start writing your thing right away. Beyond that, it'd be helpful to make our WYSIWIG editor actually show links as they appear, rather than [showing them like this], making the whole linking thing less obvious than it should be.

These are idle thoughts as a personal matter, not intended as policy or things directly on my docket to work on as staff. I'm not especially in a place where I can be very productive for the site right now, sadly.

Ode to an Incredibly Beautiful Woman
that I saw at the liquor store one day.

(I can't help thinking about On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning, but it turns out the quote I wanted to take from it never existed.)

She was just the right height. As tall as or taller than me, but no so tall that I would question it. Everything about her body was perfect. It wasn't an exaggeration of femininity or of thinness, but it wasn't what I would call average. To be average is to be flawed in a usual way, but she had no flaws. She wore a tight purple dress that hugged her perfectly, but was not too thin or revealing. It was classy and professional; something that she could maybe wear to work, but that could have been meant for special occasions. At some angles it looked like a trenchcoat, fastened around the waist with a sort of belt, and it covered her knees. It cut a silhouette of her figure, idealized as if for a fashion magazine, if only they weren't so retarded. Her red hair trailed her perfect girl-next-door model's face everywhere. She could have come from a film noir. Another world than where the rest of us lived. A world I wanted to dive into.

I looked at this heart-aching beauty, brighter than a thousand suns, and I had no logical way to approach. There was no way I could think of for our worlds to meet, but I wanted to know what I could. What liquor was she buying? I couldn't see, but it was in a green bottle, back towards the rum. There are mixers on the endcaps, so it could have been that. Why was she dressed up? Was it just her style? She didn't seem to be wearing makeup, but she looked really good to be buying liquor, so maybe it was going to be shared with someone. To most guys, the solution to this nagging feeling you get when confronted with unspeakable beauty is to fuck it. But that'd be impossible. She looked so amazingly classy, yet unassuming. You'd need soft jazz music or old R&B, on vinyl, of course, playing in another room as you lie together on a bed with satin sheets while pale light filters in the window, casting long shadows on the two of us. Inexplicably we'd both be dressed, me in a suit worth more than I've ever seen in my life, and the room would be soaked with the scent of perfume, which I'm not sure she even wears. Everything that we said would be in French, subtitled for me to understand, and all our movements would be slow and stylized. Making love wouldn't be enough. We'd have to make art films with our lives.

I kept trying to hold her image in my mind, but it is fading away. I have an urge for something, but I don't know what. I wouldn't mind making those art films with her, but on this occasion, I didn't want to be her. I don't feel that classical lust very often, because my head's too screwy. I just had to hold the memory of witnessing her close at hand; retain the knowledge that there's something better in this world, something really special out there that reaches beyond our petty white trash and hipster bullshit. I loved each inch of her, with her literally perfect figure that was not out of place anywhere. And naturally she would remind me of someone I knew before, but that woman I knew wouldn't have had this body. It's just a solace that this person I had been acquainted with had a personality to match my mystery woman's body, and I can imagine the ideal of a perfect person rather than just a perfect model, and never tarnish it with reality.

Well, really, these thoughts and feelings were more intense a few hours ago. I felt then that I could really express this, but now I've been detached. It's a vague dream and I've been awake for too long, returned to my boring existence.

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