The social-economical implications of the Leemhuis fanfiction saga.

Hi no one! No one ever is gonna read this. If you have stumbled across this, congratulations, you don't exist! No one is gonna read this, not even me. I don't exist!

While I sort out that existential crisis...why don't I beat a dead hor....erm...why don't I talk about something I find interesting about something that is very old that is about something...or in other words...Talk more about The Leemhuis NIMH Fanfiction Saga. I'm pretty infamous for speaking at length poorly about such a topic, what could go wrong?

In the Beginning...There was the Brisby Beginning. A simple love story about a damsel in distress getting rescued by a male figure who is portrayed as much more powerful and brave than she is. They fall in love and start to have children. Pretty standard stuff, albeit well written for fanfiction standards. To summarize the other stories (the best I can): The male character gets set off in another dimension and is presumed dead only for him to go back to his family and live happily ever after in Thorn Valley with the rats...for a little while. They find out that NIMH is coming back via one of the mice of NIMH that survived the ventilation shafts. He barely makes it to Thorn Valley and has to get a limb amputated.

They manage to talk to a human who is apart of this expedition to Thorn Valley via the magic amulet and learn a bit about his past, his motivations, his failures and triumphs. They then vacate to the dimension that housed the male mouse for awhile, bringing everything along with it.

A few events happen afterwards and I'm not gonna focus on all of them, but I will mention a few here. Namely there's a debate in the council chamber about the validity of a mice/rat relationship, with the discovery of some bigotry and malice towards the mice of NIMH. There's the realization that the male mouse has the power to grant long life granted to him by a goddess figure.

It's here that I originally dismissed (among other things) Out of the Mist (the story in which these events take place in) as nothing but mere wish-fulfillment fantasy, by taking away the autonomy of the rats and mice just to make them happy and explain away inconsistencies, I was fully dismissive of both the concept and the story itself, reading it as something of a joke.

However, I find it oddly alluring and interesting. I think there's something more here that I missed the first time I read it and I would like to dissect it.

The Leemhuis stories have always envisioned the rats living in a sort of egalitarian society and it's not hard to see that happen. The rats and mice are absent of the imperialism and colonialism that has shaped human society for centuries now. They have a chance to start anew as the ultimate evolved species. They had Jenner, who according to the Leemhuis stories, was a victim of being under the influence of a malignant force that transformed him from a decent father figure to a madman wanting to bring the rats to ruin, but Jenner is gone and the situation that caused him to be the way he is was solved. If I did have one thing to point out, it's that the other rats in the council chamber who were on Jenner's side weren't addressed in any of the stories, specifically in the chapter in which the rat and mice couple were being targeted. However, I'm not gonna go into logical inconsistencies, this is about the social-economic context that houses this world.

The goddess figure I mentioned before targeted the mice and rats and most of their predicaments were caused by interference by her and other god, Pharsal. The disappearance of the male mouse from his bride? Caused by the goddess. Them coming to the new dimension? Caused by a goddess. Jenner becoming evil? Caused by an action by the god getting the material for the magical amulet. Almost everything that happens to these characters has been dictated to them by fate. They question being used as experiments without their knowledge...at one point the male mouse questions why the goddess didn't appear to him and ask him to bear the burden of giving out and the answer given isn't much different to why someone like Jesus doesn't tell his disciples his secrets..."If you knew, would you still be the person you are? Would you still believe in me?"

There's a lack of trust between goddess and her subjects. Their free will isn't entirely taken away, they still can reject and argue with the goddess after all, but their fates seem to be predetermined for them an interesting dynamic. The human character that they talked to went through a divorce, is suffering and aimless when first contact happens. As humans, our society is dictated not by a goddess, but through our own actions, but the irony is we're not 100% in control of our actions.

When I came to these forums in 2011(?) I was a jerk. I was lonely, aimless, bored, and nihilistic. My fate was not determined by a goddess, it was determined through events in my life and how I perceived them. I wasn't 100% in control of my life and I knew it back then, but I couldn't articulate or figure that out. Now I realize that the events in my life led me in the direction I am now. I became more aware of how I became how I am and the responsibility I have to better myself. Now I'm happier, wiser, and more efficient. My demons influencing me were about how I was different from everyone else, but couldn't communicate how or why that is. I have Autism as I mentioned before on these forums and was diagnosed late. My life was full of me not being able to perceive the world correctly and it ended up costing me as a result.

We all have a responsibility despite not being in 100% control in our lives. At the end of OOTM, the goddess takes away the memories of her ever being in contact with the Freethorn colony from the mice and rats themselves. With her reasoning being:

“I have found…that the existence of such entities has little bearing on whether or not the people believe in them. It would appear to be an inborn tendency, little different than the instinct for self-preservation. But where there are these beliefs, there will invariably come with them disagreements on how these beings should be worshiped, with each side unwavering in its beliefs and only a relative few individuals willing to bridge the gap. And just as invariably, there will come rivalries, unreasoning hatreds, grudges held for generations, even outright war.”

With more knowledge comes more responsibility on how to handle that knowledge. We've seen history rife with imperialism and violence. Bigotry and malice. Of chosen ones and saviors and people being killed in the name of them. Maybe it was time for the mice and rats to live in ignorance of such things. They have already developed a society based around love. The way they achieved long life was through the intimacy of a mouse either by mouth or sexually. Should they bare the burden of having their perfect world brought to them outside their whims?

As a Buddhist, I believe part of suffering is not knowing how we're suffering and blaming things and people for our predicament, rather than suffering itself. We'll blame everything but the root cause of our suffering, which ironically causes more suffering. That combined with the fact that we can't control our environment and what other people do can be scary to live with.

There's something alluring, something great about unconditional love and trust. It can also be frightening in itself. That we lose a part of our humanity, the side that causes suffering, to it is both great and frightening. Likewise, there's something brilliant about OOTM and the Leemhuis fanfiction saga that I didn't see before. Love is the key and you can unlock any door if you only have the key. What's behind that door is something great, something we should achieve. The absence of suffering and the beginning of unconditional love.

Comments

  • I kinda want to add to this post quite a bit. This is really just a skeleton of what I'd like to talk about.

    I do believe it's possible to love something too much...in the sense that we forget our own well being and reject the autonomy of the person we love. Unconditional love only works when both partners are willing to put a stake into the other and trust them fully. The brilliance of the Leemhuis stories is that the rats have set up a co-operative economy in which everyone is willing to chime in without the need for currency or reward other than that unconditional love.

    The catch of all this goodness is that they were essentially experiments. They didn't 100% choose to be this way, they kinda had to be this way. Like I said in my previous post, we ourselves aren't 100% in control of our thoughts and in return, our actions. We are shaped partially by the experiences we encounter.

    The goddess leaves the mice and rats in the dark about their fate in the end. The rats and mice have a huge advantage over humans in the evolutionary department. They were set up to thrive from the start. Humans started as survival creatures and as such, some part of that is still in us and might never leave.

    I'm glad for the more human perspective on the matter too. The fact that bigotry for the rats stems not from greed or the desire to colonize, but from a lack of love and understanding stemming from arrogance, shows that the rats themselves might never be 100% perfect. There's still an animal part of them. But again, they have unconditional love on their side, something that humans tend to shy away from.

    There's a sense of nirvana, if I may put another Buddhist phrase upon you, which is what we all would like to achieve. There's hope that it can happen here on Earth in our lifetimes. Fiction likes to delve into such things (such as this one). I think using the NIMH mice and rats as examples, we can see a society take the shape of nirvana. I think that's actually important to see. More so than I gave it credit for all those years ago.

  • “No one is ever gonna read this”… Well, call me no one!

    I still do check this forum regularly, unlikely as it may seem considering how often I’ve posted lately. So when I saw this new thread and who was responsible, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Actually, I kind of did, but was pleasantly surprised at what I found, and I knew I had to respond.

    Well, Tom, you did promise a few years (!) back to give an all-encompassing overview to the entire saga, and I guess this fits the bill. Obviously I’m glad you were able to overcome your earlier bias against “Out of the Mist” and see how it fits as an integral part of the series, as I intended. I’ll admit I’m tempted to make with the I-told-you-sos, but in earlier posts I did say something to the effect that it might work for you if you would only give it another chance, and I'm glad you did.

    Your analysis was pretty much reflective of what I wanted to get across, especially in regards to developments in OOTM; though I can honestly say you brought up points that I didn’t really have in mind as I was writing the whole thing out. As I’ve said in the past, I’ve always found it difficult to get analytical, certainly to the degree with which you’ve done here. I’ve never really gotten especially philosophical with my characters (that is to say, my original ones and “borrowed” ones alike). And so I really wasn’t giving a lot of thought to any socio-economic or any other kind of implications. I was just pushing things forward in what I thought was a logical fashion.

    But I was, as you noted, definitely aiming to present a society that was egalitarian and built on mutual love and respect. At one point a couple years back, we got into debating the OOTM chapter 8, in which much is discussed about how the Freethorners’ society has advanced and how much they’re determined to avoid the pitfalls of hate and prejudice in human society. You’ve touched upon that here too, and again it seems you’ve nailed what I was trying to get across.

    I’ve admitted before that there may have been some over-idealizing in the way I presented this society; but, as I said to you in that email from last year, “I’ve found that I’d rather write about more positive stuff, and characters that, while not totally without disagreement or friction, are overall inclined to be cooperative and helpful with one another, and overall not inclined to be a-holes.” That’s just always felt more natural to me.

    There were a few details in your piece that were a bit inaccurate, such as Howard (their human contact) going through a divorce. Rather, his wife was almost out the door, but he was able to persuade her to stay. But that’s okay, I’m glad you took the time to put this whole thing together.

    It’s taken me a couple of days to put this reply together due to the usual distractions, but if there’s anything left to say, it’s thanks for making my day.

    In the midst of wrapping this up, I found the PMs you posted (I didn’t get an email notification on them), where you wanted my opinion on possibly closing down the forum, and right now I’d have to say that I would be against it. Hopefully these forums aren’t dead but just sleeping, and we’ll see a resurgence of interest in them sometime, though I wouldn’t expect it to be at the level of a decade or so ago. But you never know!

  • In the midst of wrapping this up, I found the PMs you posted (I didn’t get an email notification on them), where you wanted my opinion on possibly closing down the forum, and right now I’d have to say that I would be against it. Hopefully these forums aren’t dead but just sleeping, and we’ll see a resurgence of interest in them sometime, though I wouldn’t expect it to be at the level of a decade or so ago. But you never know!

    Not up to me, sadly. It's all up to our glowy mouse overlord, Simon!

    I’ve admitted before that there may have been some over-idealizing in the way I presented this society; but, as I said to you in that email from last year, “I’ve found that I’d rather write about more positive stuff, and characters that, while not totally without disagreement or friction, are overall inclined to be cooperative and helpful with one another, and overall not inclined to be a-holes.” That’s just always felt more natural to me.

    As an asshole (or at least a former one, depending on who's asking), I'm always interested in psychology. Namely, what /causes/ people to be assholes and the social/economic/political climate in which these "assholes" are created in. Most people aren't born evil or corrupted by a supernatural force, they had experiences and differing states of mind. So it's really easy to call someone an asshole and be done with it and I'm not saying they don't deserve it, but life is a bit more morally nuanced than pretty much everyone gives credit for.

    So that's where my biases lie. We can learn from looking at a functioning Utopian society too, which is what I failed to see the first time around. We all want to get to the point of near perfection as a species. Considering there's about 8-10 billion humans around, there's a lot of disagreements and strife everywhere. It's good to have an occasional PoV where everyone basically gets along without said strife.

    There were a few details in your piece that were a bit inaccurate, such as Howard (their human contact) going through a divorce. Rather, his wife was almost out the door, but he was able to persuade her to stay. But that’s okay, I’m glad you took the time to put this whole thing together.

    Whoops, I'm sorry. I did kinda write this late at night and blahblah. My bad. :/

    I’ve never really gotten especially philosophical with my characters (that is to say, my original ones and “borrowed” ones alike). And so I really wasn’t giving a lot of thought to any socio-economic or any other kind of implications. I was just pushing things forward in what I thought was a logical fashion.

    That's how a lot of people write stories. Fanfiction gives us a template, we don't have to build our own world or characters. Thus we are restricted by the original author's intent unless we ret-con everything. So it's even easier for beginner writers to start out this with fanfiction. My second NIMH story was gonna go into detail about how writers should relax for their own sake. Most works of 'art' aren't serious masterpieces. However, they can without the author knowing, reflect what the author is thinking and we can analyse that and find something interesting. Usually we can tell an author is conflicted with what they say in their work if they feel forced to write.

    My second NIMH story was gonna be about a conflicted group of aliens who send one of their own down to save their story, which ends up causing them grief in the long run. I could finish it, but nah. Unless y'all want me to.

    I’ll admit I’m tempted to make with the I-told-you-sos, but in earlier posts I did say something to the effect that it might work for you if you would only give it another chance, and I'm glad you did.

    I'm glad you liked this! And you can give me all the I told you sos you want. :)

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