Ashby the Little Girl in the Bottle--Strength and Muscle and Jungle Work--"That's When I Reach for My Revolver" by Mission of Burma and "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" by Roxy Music
You don’t get many opportunities where the opps tell you they believe everything you always thought about them.
Who are the opps and what are they doing? What are the Opus Dei fanboys and the perpetual Vittezi Rend waiting listers doing? When we learn they have gotten into the habit of fetishizing a constantly barefoot imaginary girlfriend with Asperger's, what are they telling us? Because after all, when people tell you who they are, believe them.
It would help to know what inspired all this. Witness this compilation meme:
I would rather look at GOATSE than this. The reasoning is very simple: one is pornographic and the other is pornographic emotionally . The distinction being: one image is building to orgasm, the other purports to want something more until it has its orgasm. Upon orgasm, realizing the sometimes painful bonds of emotional bondage, it emulates the rake it has purported to hate and escapes into the night. We should say in all of this, there is no rakishness in the Ashby and Apu memes. The ability to ever sweep on anyone off their feet has been sacrificed for an eternity of wings and Mountain Dew, glamour shots on a farm, hats that announce your autism. There are more than a few problems, so let’s start with what isn’t.
Announcing someone’s autism isn’t inherently anything wrong, but the autism that’s being posited here isn’t even autism. Patrick Jensen, stand-up and friend of the newsletter, has a joke that goes to the effect of “I have autism, but I’m not a katana guy. Not all autistic guys have katanas, but all katana guys are autistic.” To say: there is no defect in an autistic person’s character or being open about their autism that makes them a grotesque, which a guy who identifies with his katana is. But what you find with normal people on the spectrum is they are well aware of their status in some eyes as being people with “something wrong”, and the truth of Patrick’s joke is that he has to clarify he is not somebody with something wrong. He’s just autistic. Explaining a joke robs it of its power, but this is in the service of a larger point. The point being that they are not talking about their autism, supposed or otherwise. They are talking about their status as grotesques, which is self-designated. Granted, the scars of social rejection are very real, and make deep impresses amongst those of us less socially skilled. Witness their belief that they are these grotesques, embodied in the poorly drawn frog Apu, who is implied to be on the spectrum (the hat). They cannot see their alienation as anything other than medical, other than diagnosis, which they conflate with destiny. The belief autism makes you a katana guy, and a katana guy needs a katana girl.
This is how we have developed Ashby, the Aspie gf. Know Your Meme claims one lineage that for various reasons I don’t care to debunk, but what must be understood is that she is an avatar of the Internet’s white nurses: those who fix the damage that has been done to the frog boys of the internet. All of them, the Trad Girl, the Goth GF, all cards in a deck rapidly flipping in front of your face.
For those who see themselves as the melted frog, they see the possibility to be something other than the form they currently inhabit but they require transformation by the induction of beauty. Only one of these figures seems grotesque. The Aspie gf is a normal if awkward lady who never wears shoes. Not exactly Mikhail Bakhtin.
Her partnership with Apu defines her condition in most of these pictures, other than the ones where she wears the hat or t-shirt stating, “Please be patient, I have autism.” Outside of obvious signifiers or hanging out with a frog that looks like it was ran through a lawnmower, she could be anyone: any awkward but attractive woman, just as any autistic man can be attractive but awkward, but again, we are not talking about the facts of neurodivergence but the status of the 4channers making themselves grotesques and using “autism” as a convenient label for this. Believing that tomorrow was supposed to be promised to them but then something happened, autism is as much an anything happening as anything, but their status and happiness is only sanctified with an object.
A case could be made too much is being made of the crude drawing in these memes. After all, they’re supposed to be quickly replicable, easing their spread, but looking at Ashby, the sense one gets isn’t of crude drawing on purpose but of a doll like figure, a Real Doll so real she’s neuro-divergent, a Barbie who knows what stimming is. She is a waifu, a giggling schoolgirl and a saintly mother. A single card in a deck of white nurses, there to battle menace.
She is also a homunculus, a homegrown type. Once upon a time, in the corners of 4chan known as /x (the paranormal board, which I’ll admit I went on), there was a fascination on the board with tulpas, homunculi, these psychic golems they wanted to create. Amongst /x users there is an infamous video. A Russian man sitting in his kitchen injects a chicken egg with his semen, puts that egg inside of a plastic bowl with a lid, and then shoves that bowl inside of his hat and puts it away. He speaks of the work of Paracelsus. A few days later he pulls out the egg and hat and opens his bowl. He complains of the smell and cracks the egg. In the yolk and egg there is corrupted black slime, but looking closely there is something thin and white. He picks it up and cleans it off. It’s a small white skeleton or life-form twitching.
Paracelsus called the homunculus: “the little man in the bottle”. We have here the little girl in the meme, the little girl who is the mother, the little girl who is the wife. All as impenetrable to her as the bottle is to the homunculus. Created from spilt seed to mother them. They were not slain by God in the process, but their punishment is in some ways worse. After all, look at the frog and you tell me anybody who’s ever felt the touch of a woman, man, or person otherwise would draw that fucking thing.
Welcome to Kentucky Meat Shower.
STRENGTH AND MUSCLE AND JUNGLE WORK
Once upon a time there was a child who got called the wrong name by a man costumed in a bear orchestra conductor outfit. The bear was named Leonard Bearstein, the location was Regency Mall. This child decided they’d rather have that name. Thus they would be named Christian instead of Christopher. There were many changes over the years, including their realization they were a woman, when they became Christine.
Decades later after all these changes she returned to the mall that gave her her first assumed name. She told an online acquaintance named Null she would loiter at that same mall. The night prior she was sleeping in her car. Null had taken an interest in her after becoming the owner of a website called Kiwi Farms, a forums offshoot of the a wiki made about Christine. Null had acted as a sort of guard dog from people who had been harassing her and had worked with her to schedule some appearances at conventions to sell her art.
Christine had recently been removed from their house as the result of an emergency protective order being placed between her and her mother, an elderly woman. The reason for this order was that Christine had admitted over a phone call she had been molesting her mother Barb. Null learned this. As Null had been assisting Christine with her emails as well, she realized $750 dollars had been transferred from Christine’s mother Barb’s bank account to Christine’s. Null cut contact there and contacted the police.
We have no idea if she spent any time in the mall. The next day, she was arrested at the Henrico Regency Inn. She was being watched and streamed by a conservative video game streamer named Ethan Ralph, along with his fiancée and some friend who managed to catch her final declaration: “I Am Chris-Chan Sonichu, your goddess Blue Heart, and I continue to stand strong, and I maintain everything with CWCVille and my Sonichus and Rosechus and everybody. I keep in good faith that everything is going to work out.”
Ethan and company were there to give her a pizza and also talk to her about the events of the past few days, including the phone call. The phone call was with a friend Bella. As it turns out, was not a friend, but another of one of the hundreds of people who had made ridiculing and observing Chris Chan a hobby.
Bella had done this before. She started a “chess club” at Texas Tech university, which existed to ridicule and observe, sending a transphobic missive to a trans student whose Bumble she found. There were rumors she had bullied a trans student to death, with the help of her friends. She had admitted, more or less, she wouldn’t mind the same thing happening to Chris Chan.
Chris Chan, under the last few years, had begun to believe that an apocalyptic event would occur in her life called The Dimensional Merge, where the world we live in would merge with the world of her creative opus, a long running comic book called Sonichu. Sonichu was an amalgamation of Sonic the Hedgehog and Pikachu that she made in high school and published the adventures of online, which slowly became Chris Chan’s story. Over the years, Sonichu became infamous for the bizarre turn and cartoonish revenge plots it had. Chris Chan herself had always believed that this work was deserving of fame. She even believed she had discussions on making a video game with Shigeru Miyamoto that were abandoned when she couldn’t make the Washington state meeting. For the real world to collide with the Sonichu world would be the ultimate validation of her hard work.
Bella and an associate of hers, formerly of a collective of Chris observers called The Watchmen, were not anathema to the idea of positing suicide as the event that would cause the Dimensional Merge. Chris Chan had admitted in the past she was willing to taze herself in order to cause her Messianic transformation.
Bella had also conspired on other instances to put Chris Chan in compromising positions. She had ran into an underage fan who was sexually interested in Chris Chan. Bella was interested in the fan as well. Bella conspired to get all three of them together at a convention to let things take their course. She planned to capture all of this on camera. Her plan was to blackmail Chris Chan for as long as she could.
Bella viewed herself as a major character in an story that stretched over close to 40 years, if not the ultimate character. As the one who ruined Chris Chan’s life in the most obvious material way --a court case she will lose-- Bella has made her impact. She saw herself as the future character in a documentary series called Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History, a documentary still being made by a man named Geno Samuels. Her fascination began with this documentary series, ignoring the disclaimer that implores the people who view the series to not harass Chris Chan, that this was merely a recounting of the story, a story that has become the Internet’s epic.
Like Chris Chan herself, Bella’s quest had its own Messianic qualities. She would be the one who would walk through the golden gate to bring about another end of history, which she understood as the end of the Chris Chan story to be. By convincing Chris-Chan to commit suicide, two histories would merge: her destiny to become the greatest troll of all time and Chris Chan’s desire to bring the world of Sonichu to earth. In a very real way: Bella caused the merge of the Internet’s consciousness with the world’s for just a moment. After all, Tucker Carlson waddled his jowls at the story, hoping he could sell Chris Chan as a lurking example of what lies deep in the souls of trans people: sexual sadism and malice.
One way to read the Chris Chan story is as a historical document of evolution in the internet’s cruelty. The internet has always been cruel--it is in many ways where society goes to dream-- and no story better illustrates this fact. Had Chris Chan appeared at any other time in the internet’s history, she may have passed under the radar, been the author of another fan-comic on DeviantArt, and simply a curiosity for the people in those fields. We may have still learned what she did to her mother, but as a story in the news, not the end of the story. But instead her story has two sweeps, a tragic one and a historical one, with the facts interrelated, the cruelty changing with the conditions of the internet.
I don’t make any small claims when I say that this is the epic of the internet. The culture of the internet sooner or later would have to develop a great story, and this is the story they created: the story of an artist who wanted their work to be famous, but instead became famous for themselves, creating a feedback loop where their life became more of their story than their work. Few particulars are known of the Sonichu story and those that are know are apparent after the stimulus of harassment were dropped into her life. Chris Chan’s life, however, are known facts. What makes this story an epic is the conflagration of conspirators, the degrees to which these anthropological observers changed the environment of what they observed. The epics of before had many authors. So does this one; every stimulus introduced in Chris’s life caused a new reaction to be recorded and later recounted in the epic. Which is how you get a figure like Bella to press her thumb on the scales, to possibly know of the sexual misconduct and not report it in order to gather more and more blackmail material or to continue to accumulate details that would solidify her claim to greatness even more: by ending the epic.
I am less concerned with summarizing the epic. While how we got here is interesting as a story, I am not taking the time in this essay to explain how we got here, as much as I am to talk about the fact the story exists and because of that, what the story may mean. There is a wiki for the entire story. There are YouTube videos, including the aforementioned Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History. You do not need an article to tell you what happened in The Odyssey or The Iliad. While those seem like silly comparisons, if we consider the Internet as a collective of citizens, we have to talk about their stories as folklore.
In broad strokes: Chris Chan was such a presence in Charlottesville, Virginia that a man named Daniel Mims snapped a picture of her and uploaded it to 4chan. Chris Chan was infamous for hanging out at her community college, trying to solicit dates with a poster board asking for a partner that was amongst other things white, average to slender, and average to high income, and of course, saying racist things at her local game store.
From there, a Something Awful thread was created and a 4chan user named Evan Christopher George decided to send some overly sexualized fan art over to her. Chris Chan freaked out because of the homosexual content. To capture all of this, James Kendrick Howell, another 4chan user, created an Encyclopedia Dramatica page. Once the story began to be documented in a public source page, an idea sparked in the observer’s heads: we can actually make this story whatever we want. Thus, there was a line of people pretending to be romantically interested in Chris Chan, a date interrupted by a man in a pickle suit, a doppelganger, a comic series parodying Chris’s beliefs about Asperger’s syndrome, a character from Rocket Power, hitting her LGS owner with a car by Chris Chan, and somewhere along the line the transition as well her belief she could make the world she created real through the merge.
This, of course, is all complicated. A common description of Chris Chan is she’s the most documented person in history. There have been several attempts to compile the facts of her life, with the most prominent now being Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History.
The first thing you need to know about Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History is it’s unfinished with recent revelations. The creator Geno Samuel took time off from the documentary. I don’t know why, but I imagine it’s like being J.D. Salinger after every person who’d ever read The Catcher in the Rye shot someone when they read it backwards.
The documentary begins with a tinkly piano score and intones: “What made him this way? What is the attraction? What keeps us fascinated? This is the story of Chris Chan.” It should be noted that, yes, the opening does misgender her, which is corrected in later volumes discussing Chris Chan’s transition. I do think Geno shows a bit of awareness with correcting that, but it is wrong. It hampers the documentary by a simple, conservative mistake: by presuming Chris prior to the transition is a different person after transition. It attempts to take the easy way out and cedes to a fairly transphobic argument made in the Chris Chan sphere, that all along this was a feint in order to have sex with women after Chris Chan failed to do so pre-transition. Geno’s willingness to change this means I think it’s a mistake Geno corrected, but it took too fucking long.
What needs to be understood is Geno’s documentary is an improvement over the documentation prior. The CWCwiki, the wiki of the entire saga, does not fool around with using transphobic slurs and tropes to discuss the Chris Chan story. For instance, you best believe the Transgender page on CWCki has a sticker that says “The contents of this page have been bought with taxpayer money!” and mentioning the controversy that she is “just pretending” to be transgender. The closeted transphobia here has of course put the story in an odd place: the CWCki users both know what they’re doing is wrong, so they must justify it, yet will do anything but actually just use her pronouns. It’s as if they believe that because Chris Chan is a bad person, a serial sexual harasser of everyone around them, their mother included, she can’t be transgender. We can talk about Chris Chan as a perpetrator and respect her pronouns and it’s beyond frustrating nobody has figured that out yet, that if Chris Chan were a true trans person by their argument they wouldn’t have molested their mother. This sort of idealization is always the flip-side of demonization, and both come from the same wellspring: deny their humanity.
Denying humanity, beyond a sort of soppy liberal sentiment, also ignores the actual material reality of the horror of this situation. To say, “it’s scary because these are people” is asinine, as it’s only one facet here. But the story is one that’s always been told in the passive voice, as things that happened, not things done by people. This is the beauty of facts, as a stack of things that happen. This is the form Chris Chan: A Comprehensive History takes: the events and actions taken by Chris Chan and by her trolls amassed like fragments of dead mollusks making up coquina on a littered beach. As you watch it, going through one forty minute segment to another, a sort of sickness takes over, and you move away from however you watch your YouTube videos thinking how ugly it all is. Then you click play.
It is about as neutral of a documentation that exists, even though it draws its facts from the same places. Geno, to his credit, just shows you what happened, more or less, and makes a timeline of everything that happened. But right now on Youtube, Jon Bois is using sports to tell stories of human folly and even Frederick Knudson of the Down the Rabbit Hole follows ephemera and relays the facts to best tell the story, with his video on Call of Duty streamer Wings of Redemption playing like a mid 00s nerd culture Raging Bull. Stacking facts like bricks won’t cut it. The litany of facts don’t really answer the questions that kick off the A Comprehensive History: “What made her this way? What is the attraction? What keeps us fascinated?”
Here’s an attempt.
The fascination will now begin with the ending, but will jump to every divergent moment where things could have been different. But every moment will feed back to the facts of her exile. Even in the moments she will have sympathy will go to that ending, the callous logic where she admits her mother is a solution to her own sexual desires, as disposable as the blow-up dolls she owned. The secret crime of Chris Chan was not stealing from the state or making a bad comic book, but the belief that she’s the only woman who matters.
The attraction, then, is to see the depths of that narcissism go unabated, to get worse, with every flattery. After a point the trolls and their anthropological observation became a flattery, it became a purpose for her. To battle them and to move the pieces on the chess board with every vlog and every phone call, there was an attention she simply could not get elsewhere. The art would not do it and the signs and odd actions in Charlottesville would not either. In the end all she had was an audience she was as captive to her as she was to them. An audience where some fooled themselves that they could get her to understand, an audience where some were there to simply laugh and feel better at themselves. All building to a documentation of the internet’s cruelty, a cruelty so cruel the documentation itself is cruel.
The recurring thing in these comment sections of Geno Samuels’s videos, the one thing you find somewhere deep down in the sedimentary layers of youtube comments, is that looking at Chris Chan there is a desire to better oneself so as not to end up like this, because deep inside there’s a self-loathing in the audience that says there but for the grace of God go I. In her they saw their possible futures. It is not as if these weren’t bullied kids, disdained by parents for their likes and dislikes. They were not immune from hoarding or desire or harassment anymore than anybody else. What they held in common was their constant trading of pain back and forth, one to another. Watching a mentally ill woman’s every move and creating false personas for her to talk to is not a marker of health. Instead what happened is a shared universe between the two, between Chris Chan and her trolls was created, all the while Chris Chan believed in an apocalyptic event that would happen and make her characters real. Instead, as all revelations of the end of time will be, it was slow. Together both the trolls and Chris Chan authored her story, and all of it came from a kernel of self-loathing, one that merged into its own dimensions. All they ever wanted to he was anything but weak. Chris Chan did the unthinkable. She's also a mentally ill trans woman, a position our society has made weak.
What made her this way? The cruelty we import and export from others to feel strong, and there is no better proof of this than the story of Kiwi Farms. Kiwi Farms was the forum for the CWCki, the repository of all Chris Chan related knowledge. Null admitted the joke had gone too far, that after a point it was all silly. There were jokes, however, that didn’t need to be discussed in his view. In 2021, a software developer named Near committed suicide after a long term project of harassment that started on Kiwi Farms. They were autistic and they never seemed to have much of an answer as to why the harassment started other than they were simply weird on the internet. This caused Kiwifarms’s long time server to finally abandon them. The company that picked them up is Cloudflare, who hosts 8chan and the Daily Stormer.
At Web Summit 2014, a man sat next to Matthew Prince, the founder of Cloudflare. He was Michael Jahnke, a former Navy Seal. On a set of children’s show couches, they were there to talk about cyber security. The Navy Seal intoned:
“You have this ubiquitous rise...of what I call cyber mercenaries...a lot of people don’t know what that really means. Well there are actual professional firms with 60, 70 engineers out there that, “Well we’ll put zero days. We’ll do customized attacks to get information whether that’s credit cards, where Exxon is drilling, you know, to doing simple things like hacking a competitor for somebody else.”
7 years later, his daughter was kicked out of Texas Tech for a few things. She had an early start on a life of being a cyber mercenary. Her Chess Club discord functioned like a firm, a think tank. It was known she did it, and you imagine she was on thin ice with Texas Tech. But it all came to light on Kiwifarms after they found out she leaked a phone call of an autistic woman admitting to molesting her demented mother. Who knows where she’ll go. Someone will have a use for her. There’s a lot of market for her skills. But the rival firm Kiwifarms will know they ended who ended history.
In a connected world there’s no need for parachutes anymore. Still, the cry: Le Mercernaire! Strength and Muscle and Jungle Work!
“That’s When I Reached for My Revolver” by Mission of Burma and “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” by Roxy Music
If there’s one thing we can all agree upon, it’s that like the protagonist of “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” there is only one aim: a giant castle built by ourselves, “with one and only aim” and to sign it in our names, “in complete community”.
There’s an ambiguity to the aim. The property relations are reflected off of one another (community/castle built by himself), but is it also that the great aim must be met so we can sign the deed with a mass of people around us, witnessing it? Are our needs most powerfully met when we own property, and if we must own property, if it is our need, what have we done?
Think back to Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home A Heartache”. It’s a song about a man whose total lack of being and spirit, surrounded by the rising standards of living, inside his dream home, where he is in love with a vinyl sex doll. The telling line for me is “Immortal and life size/My breath is inside you”. No breath can bring alive the doll in the throes of passion, but the feeling of your own breath might feel enough like it, condensing on the skin so you have some feeling of life while you’re inside.
The doll is only alive when you’re inside.
It is like the women of the Freikorps’s dreams. The Freikorps returned from their war, feeling betrayed, not at all like the conquerors before, those who jumped into jungle work. Returning from the war they felt this of their women: they are absent or they are nurses or they are communist whores. In a fascist novel of the German 30s, a Freikorps man describes a communist whore as such: “his sight is pointing straight into her mouth, into the center of that slobbering hole, so wide open with hysteria that he can even see the gums.” Upon shooting her, he reflects: “Is that thing at his feet really her?”
There are people who only get off through termination and destruction, and the most insidious destruction of all is to make a doll that can only be animated by your passions, hates, and desires. Ashby, Chris Chan, Barb Chandler in every dream home.