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A meditation on: homogenous fantasy races depicted by actors of various races

Punp

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The sun rises on a cool Hyperagora, blessing the monuments with dawn's warmth and chasing away the night's dewy mist.

Primus had been quiet for some time, and Secundus takes note. "You've not said much this morning. Is there something weighing on you?"

"Yes." Primus pauses as he looks around the market for a simple breakfast, eventually meandering towards a stall that smells of hot butter. "Quintus' play. Amica the Pylarian was played by Tertius."


"Tertius is a good actor, she was fit for the role." Secundus says, following Primus' sandalled feet towards the buttery smell of buttery butter. "What didn't you like about her performance?"


"It wasn't her performance." Primus says, his thoughts still grinding like grist in a mill, and his words coming out like the flour, "It was her skin tone. Tertius is far too pale for a Pylarian."


"But you liked her performance?"


"Oh, yes, you couldn't find a better actor than Tertius. There are no Pylarian actors in that group as talented. What bothers me is that the secondary characters were all played by Pylarians."

"So?"

"So, Tertius is pale and the other actors were dark. Are we to believe that some Pylarians are pale and some are not? The Pylarians of the play should either be all pale or all dark."

"It was a play, one can imagine what one likes. Would you have a real lion instead of an actor in furs? Surely you did not believe that Tertius - sorry, Amica the Pylarian - really died on stage last night."

Primus looks over the pancakes cooking on the griddle but finds it unappealing. Far too much sugar for a breakfast. "No. There is a suspension of disbelief that one must invest into any play - but why paint a square when one means to depict a circle? Even a square with rounded corners is better than a square - a circle doubly so. Why depict some circles as squares and others as circles?"

They wander on to another stall. They come across a fruit cart.

"Would you care for an apple?" Primus asks, picking up a pear and handing it to Secundus.

"That's different." Secundus says, putting it back among the pears.

"Maybe you could imagine it an apple when you eat it." Primus says casually. "You can tell that it's a pear because it comes from a pear tree. Its skin is different, its taste is different, its shape is different. All of these things contribute to it being a pear and not an apple. One cannot easily imagine a pear to be an apple when our senses are telling us otherwise, no matter how well the pear learns its lines."

"So Tertius may never play the role of a Pylarian in Primus' plays?"

Primus holds his tongue while he purchases a pear. Feeling its roughness in his hand, he says "I think you misunderstand me. I'm not concerned with depicting things as they are - otherwise we would stand at the side of the road and watch things as they occur instead of sitting in a theatre. I'm concerned with consistency within the play. By making Pylarians interchangably pale or dark within the same play we forget they are a race of people from a place. By ignoring this we are ignoring the fundemental laws of nature that make us."

"Perhaps it was not important to the play that they are a race of people." Secundus says to an orange as he holds it to his nose before purchasing it. "Perhaps it's enough that they are there together as a group of people under the title 'Pylarian'."

"If that were the case, Tertius' first line would not have been -" and here Primus holds out his partially eaten pear and makes a grandiose gesture, "'We are the Pylarians, isolated on this island for two thousand years, behold my swarthy skin!'. It seems trite to have such a large focus of your worldbuilding be on how monotonus the races are only to ignore that in your casting."

"But you were able to imagine the backdrop to be a beach."

"Because it was not a painted mountain or a floor strewn with sand for a desert. There was no backdrop."

"And you were able to imagine Tertius a king, though she has not got the beard for it."

"She put on a gruff voice and wore a prosthetic beard. There was an attempt to mask the flaw. If she had said, 'behold, I am Tertius, pale visitor to the lands of the Pylarians, and they have made me one of them.', this would have been sufficient. Instead we are meant to be colourblind and imagine that all skin tones are the same. We are different, but it is those differences that make us interesting and varied characters."

"Perhaps Quintus was uncomfortable with writing that to her play."

And there they saw Quintus at the other end of the market, crossing the road to avoid the path of a group of Pylarians.
 
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No, I "generated" it with notepad and my fingers after seeing the DnD film last night where the elves were brown and white but homogenously cultured.
pardon me that I genuinely thought you were posting with AI. Can you at least give some lore or info dump about your fantasy world? It really looks like a shitposting without those.
 

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pardon me that I genuinely thought you were posting with AI. Can you at least give some lore or info dump about your fantasy world? It really looks like a shitposting without those.
The style of writing is the Socratic method - a way of writing where the author presents two philosophers discussing a topic and addressing parts of the conversation. Here I have used the names Primus, Secundus, Tertius and Quintus (Prime - one, Second - two, Tertiary - three, Quint - four) to arbitrarily name some characters. Pylarians are a dark-skinned race with no real-world equivalent. Hyperagora is not-quite-Greece (mostly because it's not informed enough to be Greece).

The lore and setting doesn't matter - in fact, the more that can be shed of the lore the better.
 
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Taleisin

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pardon me that I genuinely thought you were posting with AI. Can you at least give some lore or info dump about your fantasy world? It really looks like a shitposting without those.
This isn't a fantasy world, he's using the classical roman naming system to produce an example conversation that doesn't have modern connotations as a tool for examining the pattern of thought without bias.
 
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"Helping black people is not their real goal. Instead, race problems serve as an excuse for them to express their own hostility and frustrated need for power. In doing so they actually harm black people, because the activists' hostile attitude toward the white majority tends to intensify race hatred" - Teddy K
 
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Punp

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Maybe that's it. Maybe companies are so scared of being labelled alt-right that they automatically write all areas as multicultural. It feels like a new kind of racism - one that doesn't acknowledge that cultures are different but equally interesting.
 
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Maybe that's it. Maybe companies are so scared of being labelled alt-right that they automatically write all areas as multicultural. It feels like a new kind of racism - one that doesn't acknowledge that cultures are different but equally interesting.
I'd love to see the Zulu war from the side of the Zulus. Portray their victory in the Battle of Isandlwana as awesome as it really was. But instead of telling cool af ethnic history they'll blackwash European history. Lazy writers retelling existing stories. Too much effort to take on anything new, so they'll retell robinhood for the 100th time but the actor is black this time. Woah!

We know you guys are bored of reboots, so we're doing uhh race-swapped reboots! Isn't that cool and new?
 
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We know you guys are bored of reboots, so we're doing uhh race-swapped reboots! Isn't that cool and new?
I've always been frustrated about this. There is SO MUCH amazing history of African peoples on the continent of Africa. Making the Greeks and Romans black does nothing to advance equality. It just makes it look like black people have no history so they have to force themselves into the cultural history of others.

But that couldn't be further from the truth. Here are two of my ideas for interesting historical shows, starring black people, playing black people.

Sonhghai/Gao - so much could be done here. Gao was a city fought over by many cultures and peoples. It was on a river, and the peoples of this area were kind of Viking like with their river raiding and what not. Very interesting stuff. The life of Askia Muhammad I would be the most obvious pick.

Aksum - Just North of modern Somalia, reaching across to Southern Arabia - Aksum was an important kingdom in the classical era. If you like Rome and Greece, these guys were contemporaries. If you want to make a show about Romans interacting with Black Africans - this would be the way to do it. They were also one of the first Christian Kingdoms - the first to put a cross onto their coinage. The story of Ezana of Axum, their first Christian King, would be a good one.

Obviously there are many more. The Zulu, Ghana, Luba/Lunda, and Zimbabwe.

Or we could make a movie about this beautiful moment

west africa GIF
 
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I've always been frustrated about this. There is SO MUCH amazing history of African peoples on the continent of Africa. Making the Greeks and Romans black does nothing to advance equality. It just makes it look like black people have no history so they have to force themselves into the cultural history of others.

But that couldn't be further from the truth. Here are two of my ideas for interesting historical shows, starring black people, playing black people.

Sonhghai/Gao - so much could be done here. Gao was a city fought over by many cultures and peoples. It was on a river, and the peoples of this area were kind of Viking like with their river raiding and what not. Very interesting stuff. The life of Askia Muhammad I would be the most obvious pick.

Aksum - Just North of modern Somalia, reaching across to Southern Arabia - Aksum was an important kingdom in the classical era. If you like Rome and Greece, these guys were contemporaries. If you want to make a show about Romans interacting with Black Africans - this would be the way to do it. They were also one of the first Christian Kingdoms - the first to put a cross onto their coinage. The story of Ezana of Axum, their first Christian King, would be a good one.

Obviously there are many more. The Zulu, Ghana, Luba/Lunda, and Zimbabwe.

Or we could make a movie about this beautiful moment

west africa GIF
I think the answer is simply that the Africans don't have much purchasd capacity, so instead of make an anansi the spider animation, they take the safe route and grab existing characters. I would really, really like to see any media related to the swahili coast myself but I doubt if it will ever happen considering how fucked up today's Mozambique is, Tanzania is stable for African standard but still suffer in poverty so we can't expect much from them neither.
 

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My problem was more to do with why directors are scared of matching actor skin tone to the character skin tone than race swapping, but it's all much of a muchness right now with Hollywood's watered-down cotton gloves approach to "what is race".
 
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Cool thread, have a bump.

I myself can add that as the one who actively reads various studies about Ancient Egypt, I absolutely hate the attempts to make egyptians black. In line with posts above, it is especially mind-baffling since there are known black egyptian pharaohs. Shabaka, for one, was absolutely glorious pharaoh, who pretty much unified Egypt for the last time, restored a lot of temples and holy places, and overall tried his best to return the Two Lands to previous glory, his efforts included return to theocratic traditions as Shabaka became the head priest of Re. His reign gave us the famous Shabaka Stone, which was inscripted with a text dated about 3000 BC. Original has been damaged, and, it seems, has been written on papyrus, wood or leather. Shabaka ordered to re-write it onto stone (700 BC), and in this form the text endured to our days.

But no, instead they gotta make Cleopatra black. And she is barely a good ruler - just a pop icon. But, well, I guess few people really care about history today, thought that's whole another problem.
 
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Society was finally 'getting there,' you know, less white guys casted as asian for martial arts movies, actual latino actors for latino roles... stuff like that. The ultra left and reparations clowns won't stop until they have it all though. On one level I say fine, LARP all you want, make black mermaids and Egyptians. Whites did it and we decided it was the wrong thing to do. Maybe someday these folk will get past their hangups and failings too and can rejoin reality with the rest of us. Just don't touch the history books and museums, keep it to netflix and they can churn out all the trash they want.
 
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Cool thread, have a bump.

I myself can add that as the one who actively reads various studies about Ancient Egypt, I absolutely hate the attempts to make egyptians black. In line with posts above, it is especially mind-baffling since there are known black egyptian pharaohs. Shabaka, for one, was absolutely glorious pharaoh, who pretty much unified Egypt for the last time, restored a lot of temples and holy places, and overall tried his best to return the Two Lands to previous glory, his efforts including return to theocratic traditions as Shabaka became the head priest of Re. His reign gave us the famous Shabaka Stone, which was inscripted with a text dated about 3000 BC. Original has been damaged, and, it seems, has been written on papyrus, wood or leather. Shabaka ordered to re-write it onto stone (700 BC), and in this form the text endured to our days.

But no, instead they gotta make Cleopatra black. And she is barely a good ruler - just a pop icon. But, well, I guess few people really care about history today, thought that's whole another problem.
What did ancient Egyptians look like? How did they get a black Pharaoh?

Society was finally 'getting there,' you know, less white guys casted as asian for martial arts movies, actual latino actors for latino roles... stuff like that. The ultra left and reparations clowns won't stop until they have it all though. On one level I say fine, LARP all you want, make black mermaids and Egyptians. Whites did it and we decided it was the wrong thing to do. Maybe someday these folk will get past their hangups and failings too and can rejoin reality with the rest of us. Just don't touch the history books and museums, keep it to netflix and they can churn out all the trash they want.
Perhaps this is just another stepping stone to actual progress.
 
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What did ancient Egyptians look like?
I now regret bumping the thread XD
Really though, first thing first I have to admit that I've never read proper works about this topic. Despite the fact that it's been a hot one since at least the end of 19th century. Still, in my opinion, just looking at egyptian art is enough to figure out what egyptians looked like, even if egyptian art has not been quite realistic, especially during earlier times. And yet it is more than enough in my eyes - frankly, I'm not quite sure what all debates are about.
Luckily for you, the album of egyptian arts I've scanned has just been accepted by LibGen, so I can give you a link for that: http://libgen.st/book/index.php?md5=202A28F9AC9233ABD3BE0B0B12E328B9
Despite the black and white photos, you can still see the noses, the lips, the overall face structure... Or you can just run a web search - many of said photos are available in color nowadays. I will also attach some examples of egyptian art here.
01.png
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03.jpg
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The last one is particularly interesting, because it is one of the earliest ones - these are Rahotep and Nofret of 4th dynasty, meaning about 2600-2500 BC.
And this is actually a very important point to remember when you will look for the egyptian artwork in the web: Ancient Egypt lasted at least 3700 years, if you do not count pre-historic Egypt and end it strictly with the closing of the temple in Philae in AD 537. This is almost twice longer than our current christian civilisation. Needless to say, Egypt changed a lot during those years. Egyptian language changed, egyptian culture changed, and, without a doubt, ancient egyptians themselves changed as their empire rose, conquered, fell, rose again, fell again... In fact, I, personally, do not have much interest in New Kingdom and all the subsequent years, therefore my knowledge lies predominantly before 1200-1300 BC. I'd argue that a lot of egyptians after that point barely were proper Ancient Egyptians, and therefore even though you may find a lot of Roman and Greek portraits in great detail in color, I still doubt they accurately portray egyptians, however much of them were left at that point.
It is still an interesting art though! Here's a link to one of my favorites I've posted about a month ago:

Or here's a bust of Nefertiti (New Kingdom) in full 3D, which was kind of a big story for me, since it is an article on both Ancient Egypt and issues with copyrights: https://reason.com/2019/11/13/a-ger...fact-today-you-can-see-it-for-the-first-time/

Anyway, the best article I've read about your question has been, surprisingly, the one I've saw on Wikipedia. I usually dislike the site, but this particular article is quite extensive and provides many quotes and points of view: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_race_controversy

Couple of interesting images from it are interesting enough to copy them here with quotes:
Egyptian_races.jpg

"The Ancient Egyptian classification of ancient peoples (from left to right): a Libyan, a Nubian, an Asiatic, and an Egyptian. Drawing by an unknown artist after a mural of the tomb of Seti I; Copy by Heinrich Menu von Minutoli (1820). In terms of skin colour, the Libyan has the lightest complexion, followed by the Asiatic who is yellowish in appearance. The Egyptian is reddish-brown, while the Nubian is black. Each group is also marked with their own distinctive hairstyles and clothing."

Facsimile_of_the_painting_on_the_inner_back_side_of_the_sarcophagus_of_Aashyt_MET_DT232303.jpg

"Inner back side of the sarcophagus of Ashayet, a Nubian wife of Mentuhotep II in the 11th Dynasty, depicting her with male and female Egyptian servants (facsimile by Charles K. Wilkinson)."

And since the article is big, I think it is worth to copy here the quotes from people whose works I actually read, whom I come to respect and with whose theories I agree on most ocassions - in other words, quotes from people whose opinion I can definitely say holds a certain amount of weight and knowledge without politics. This will amount in just two quotes that will go like this:
"There are many things in the manners and customs and religions of the historic Egyptians that suggest that the original home of their ancestors was in a country in the neighbourhood of Uganda and Land of Punt." - Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge.
"The Egyptians were not Nubians, and the original Nubians were not black. Nubia gradually became black because black peoples migrated northward out of Central Africa." - Miriam Lichtheim.

That would be TL;DR, but I would recommend to read at the very least the "Background" section and "Position of modern scholarship". If anything, it will provide you a nice view on how history and historical research is always biased and influenced by politics, and as politics shift, so do scientific theories. I generally distrust modern egyptologists, as, in my opinion, in modern times historians are even more dependent on money from the government, and therefore quite often try to base their research on notions that are popular in current politics (and I do see at least some subtle changes in certain translations of Ancient Egyptian texts, especially the most popular ones).
Still, this article from Wikipedia linked above is, once again, quite good in my opnion. It generally sticks to a rather neutral view that I prefer to support due to everything I've said before. Ancient Egypt, once again, lasted for thousands of years, and those thousands of years were thousands of years before egyptology even became a thing. We've only managed to crack their language in 1822, and even now some hieroglyphs are unknown to us, some meanings are uncertain, with one text receiving different multiple variants of translations from one translator - and hell knows how much variants if there are more than one man attempting to translate it. What can we really say about their race when we can barely deal with texts?

Plus, another good point of the Wiki article would be "Table of Nations controversy", which shows rather nicely how afrocentrists try to push their point through errors and rather doubtful, singular pieces.

Moving away from the Wiki, the works of soviet egyptologist Militza Matthieu deal a lot with Ancient Egyptian works of art - she studied art probably more than any other egyptologist out there. And in many of her works she points out how... traditionalistic egyptian arts were. Ancient egyptians, in general, quite respected their predcessors, and were rather conservative. Despite all the changes they've went through the thousands of years, said changes were notably slow, and it can be seen in their artwork. Looking at the art of Middle Kingdom, you can see many characteristics of the Old Kingdom still being there, like the same... plots or stories being present on reliefs both from Old and Middle Kingdom, or the very same general planning of the temples, which remained unchanged for a long time despite all the new small features being added.
Said traditionalism, in my opinion, can be seen one more time when you look at the statues of black pharaohs. Here's, for example, the granite head of Shabaka, the pharaoh I've mentioned.
8584086606_b6142c2e2b_o.jpg


I think you can say that he barely differs from other pharaophs of the era. Yet we know he was kushite from Nubia. Some people might use it to try and reinforce the notion that all egyptians must've been black, but, luckily, we have a statue of another pharaoh from the same dynasty - yet this time it is a statue found in Nubia.
SphinxOfTaharqa.jpg


This is sphinx of Taharqa, which has been lauded as "a masterpiece of kushite art", and you can see a vastly different face depicted here. You can probably theorize that kushite art has also been sticking to traditions, but it will only prove a point that nubians and egyptians at that point were rather different people with rather different faces, color of the skin aside.
As for why black pharaoh wouldn't mind being depicted as egyptian - this comes from my earlier points about Shabaka being very adherent to egyptian ways. It is a somewhat unusual trait which actually applies to the whole Nubian Dynasty. Which finally brings us to the second part of your question.

How did they get a black Pharaoh?
Kushites simply conquered Egypt, during the Third Intermidiate Period - the last Intermidiate Period that came after the New Kingdom. Their dynasty lasted from about 750 BC to 650 BC. For whatever reason however, and unlike further conquerors, black pharaohs from Kush were extremely egyptianised, "using the Egyptian language and writing system as their medium of record and exhibiting an unusual devotion to Egypt's religious, artistic, and literary traditions." - instead of bringing their own traditions, they've did their best to restore egyptian ones.
They even kind of succeded, even if for a very brief moment. Unfortunately, the fourth kingdom of Egypt failed to rise, and, ultimately, Nubian Dynasty became beginning of an end: they've lost a war with assyrians, who conquered Egypt and then gave it to their vassals, who then lost it to persians, et cetera. In two words, Egypt completely ceased to be egyptian after the reign of kushite pharaohs, as they were the last ones who tried to preserve the original culture. After their time the invasion of other cultures began, which, in 1000 years, finished off whatever was left of Ancient Egypt.
 
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The sun rises on a cool Hyperagora, blessing the monuments with dawn's warmth and chasing away the night's dewy mist.

Primus had been quiet for some time, and Secundus takes note. "You've not said much this morning. Is there something weighing on you?"

"Yes." Primus pauses as he looks around the market for a simple breakfast, eventually meandering towards a stall that smells of hot butter. "Quintus' play. Amica the Pylarian was played by Tertius."


"Tertius is a good actor, she was fit for the role." Secundus says, following Primus' sandalled feet towards the buttery smell of buttery butter. "What didn't you like about her performance?"


"It wasn't her performance." Primus says, his thoughts still grinding like grist in a mill, and his words coming out like the flour, "It was her skin tone. Tertius is far too pale for a Pylarian."


"But you liked her performance?"


"Oh, yes, you couldn't find a better actor than Tertius. There are no Pylarian actors in that group as talented. What bothers me is that the secondary characters were all played by Pylarians."

"So?"

"So, Tertius is pale and the other actors were dark. Are we to believe that some Pylarians are pale and some are not? The Pylarians of the play should either be all pale or all dark."

"It was a play, one can imagine what one likes. Would you have a real lion instead of an actor in furs? Surely you did not believe that Tertius - sorry, Amica the Pylarian - really died on stage last night."

Primus looks over the pancakes cooking on the griddle but finds it unappealing. Far too much sugar for a breakfast. "No. There is a suspension of disbelief that one must invest into any play - but why paint a square when one means to depict a circle? Even a square with rounded corners is better than a square - a circle doubly so. Why depict some circles as squares and others as circles?"

They wander on to another stall. They come across a fruit cart.

"Would you care for an apple?" Primus asks, picking up a pear and handing it to Secundus.

"That's different." Secundus says, putting it back among the pears.

"Maybe you could imagine it an apple when you eat it." Primus says casually. "You can tell that it's a pear because it comes from a pear tree. Its skin is different, its taste is different, its shape is different. All of these things contribute to it being a pear and not an apple. One cannot easily imagine a pear to be an apple when our senses are telling us otherwise, no matter how well the pear learns its lines."

"So Tertius may never play the role of a Pylarian in Primus' plays?"

Primus holds his tongue while he purchases a pear. Feeling its roughness in his hand, he says "I think you misunderstand me. I'm not concerned with depicting things as they are - otherwise we would stand at the side of the road and watch things as they occur instead of sitting in a theatre. I'm concerned with consistency within the play. By making Pylarians interchangably pale or dark within the same play we forget they are a race of people from a place. By ignoring this we are ignoring the fundemental laws of nature that make us."

"Perhaps it was not important to the play that they are a race of people." Secundus says to an orange as he holds it to his nose before purchasing it. "Perhaps it's enough that they are there together as a group of people under the title 'Pylarian'."

"If that were the case, Tertius' first line would not have been -" and here Primus holds out his partially eaten pear and makes a grandiose gesture, "'We are the Pylarians, isolated on this island for two thousand years, behold my swarthy skin!'. It seems trite to have such a large focus of your worldbuilding be on how monotonus the races are only to ignore that in your casting."

"But you were able to imagine the backdrop to be a beach."

"Because it was not a painted mountain or a floor strewn with sand for a desert. There was no backdrop."

"And you were able to imagine Tertius a king, though she has not got the beard for it."

"She put on a gruff voice and wore a prosthetic beard. There was an attempt to mask the flaw. If she had said, 'behold, I am Tertius, pale visitor to the lands of the Pylarians, and they have made me one of them.', this would have been sufficient. Instead we are meant to be colourblind and imagine that all skin tones are the same. We are different, but it is those differences that make us interesting and varied characters."

"Perhaps Quintus was uncomfortable with writing that to her play."

And there they saw Quintus at the other end of the market, crossing the road to avoid the path of a group of Pylarians.
This is wonderful, it takes a lot of talent to produce nonsense like this which tricks people into thinking it's AI generated

Ultimately, nothing can rival human-produced nonsense
 
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LostintheCycle

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This is wonderful, it takes a lot of talent to produce nonsense like this which tricks people into thinking it's AI generated

Ultimately, nothing can rival human-produced nonsense
Pink Fluffy Cat was a pot-stirring trollposter, I doubt he meant that. Anyway, you shouldn't talk shit about others writing, you're no genius yourself. I read your live music piece, I was going to say that the writer sounded like some mediocre city-dwelling wanker, but held my tongue when I realized it was yours. But, if you think snarky remarks about the work of others is the way to go...
 
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Pink Fluffy Cat was a pot-stirring trollposter, I doubt he meant that. Anyway, you shouldn't talk shit about others writing, you're no genius yourself. I read your live music piece, I was going to say that the writer sounded like some mediocre city-dwelling wanker, but held my tongue when I realized it was yours. But, if you think snarky remarks about the work of others is the way to go...
You're spot-on there, I am a city-dwelling wanker. What live music piece?
 
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