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But first, I filled all the not!fic prompts a little while ago, so here are the links to the two new ones:

BBC Sherlock: Moran/Moriarty kidfic (warnings for blood and death)

RDJ!Holmes movies: secretly a virgin Moran/Moriarty (featuring demisexual/greyA!Moriarty)

And now, here are a bunch of feelings about Commander Sam Vimes:

I was wanting to write up this post around this time last month, but I couldn't because that would have been kind of a give-away on Yuletide. In the process of thinking about it over that time and not writing anything down I may have become less coherent, but I'm going to at least try. (This post is brought to you by The Wire, The Hour, and the first Matthew Swift book, all of which haven been making my feelings about class especially salient and confused.)

I really really like Sam Vimes. His books are among my favorites among Discworld, and I've been fascinated by his character development. He's great both as a flawed character who recognizes his own flaws, and as a character who makes me think about myself and where I stand on things. (This isn't a real lit crit essay - I'm not going to be defending my claims much. But I'd be happy to discuss or expand on these points or any later points if anyone wants to discuss.)

But my main investment in Sam Vimes is as an upwardly-mobile character from a working-class background. Because he is so rooted in his background and what he has learned from being a working-class, inner-city kid, and how he can apply that to the world of the rich and mighty and bring justice to them. And at the same time, he's gaining privilege - he's the richest man in Ankh-Morpork, now, and he's very uncomfortable with the trappings of his privilege, but he's totally willing to use the power that comes with his new authority and social status.

I know some people are conflicted about that, as I've seen people criticize Vimes as becoming 'The Man,' and not realizing what kind of power he has. And I think that's definitely a fair criticism? But at the same time, Vimes is never going to have the kind of intrinsic understanding of upper-class power as Sybil does, because he didn't grow up with that power, because he was a working-class kid and he didn't have any of the power that he has now. And if I have to choose, I'm always going to read stories that have working-class people rising to power and using that power to further their ends, because the other option is upper-class people holding on to power and furthering their ends, and historically that hasn't been a very good story for me and mine.

(Incidentally, the difference between being born to class privilege and rising to the upper-class is why I love love love Sybil and Sam's relationship - every time Sam turns to Sybil for advice because he recognizes that she understands what's going on better than he does my face goes like :DD, and every time Sybil gives Sam some advice on how to deal with his new world and then is like 'but fuck it, Sam, you're doing great anyway, seriously, fuck the haters,' my face goes :DDDDD)

BUT I'm also really conflicted about Vimes' story, for two reasons:

1) COPS, I am unsure about COPS in general, and making my working-class hero also so deeply ingrained in centralized authority makes me nervous. This bothers me more in later books that early ones, which I think is part of the Watch getting more established and powerful as Vimes gets more established and powerful. From Guards! Guards! to Night Watch, I would say that Vimes is still an outsider to the establishment, and after Night Watch he is sometimes forced outside but he's still clearly part of an establishment that is textually tyrannical. And I am totally thrilled about Vimes pursuing his goals and his own ideal of justice as an outsider with all of this class-based righteous rage, but giving the same thing the backing of the establishment just- crosses my signals? I can't figure out how I feel about it.

2) YOUNG SAM. And this is not Young Sam's fault. It is the consequence of over-identification, and (of course) my own anxieties. Because (as may have been gathered), I am emphatically a working-class person, as are my parents and grandparents and so on. And I do have a lot of class-consciousness, because 'class isn't an issue in the US' is bullshit, thanks. But I'm moving up in terms of income - as a grad student I'm doing well for myself already, relative to what I'm used to. I have health insurance, this is amazing. And if I ever graduate and get a job, basically any prospective salary in my field would be way more money than I or most people in my immediate family have been able to hope for. And I am 100% in favor of more money, because money is super useful. But the experiences I've had with people expressing class privilege are such that it makes my skin crawl to think of my children being raised as middle-class kids with middle-class experiences. Like, who will they be if they didn't start working at six or seven, doing odd jobs for the family or working in the family business? Who will they be if they're used to getting what they ask for, if their first car is brand-new and delivered with their new driver's license? How am I supposed to relate to them?

This is a lot to lay on some entirely hypothetical children, so usually I don't worry about it. But Young Sam throws all of that into relief, because here's a kid who's going to grow up as the son of the richest couple in Ankh-Morpork, his dad's the second-most powerful man in the city, and he can recognize how far he's better off than his dad was and how much privilege he has, but he's never going to viscerally experience it the way that Sam Vimes Sr. has.

And then this all bled into the fic I wrote for Yuletide, and my solution there is basically "stop worrying, people are going to have their own struggles to deal with, and you should never wish your own struggles on to them."

I guess the problem is that I don't find that particularly satisfying.

So, in conclusion: I have a lot of class issues to work through! (I knew that already.) I really want to know how Young Sam develops as he grows up! And I don't think this was very coherent, sorry!

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neveralarch

August 2017

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