Prompt To AI
The original version of D&D (1974) allowed players to choose among three alignments along a spectrum when creating a character: lawful, implying honor and respect for society’s rules; chaotic, implying rebelliousness and individualism; and neutral, seeking a balance between the extremes.
The 1977 release of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set introduced a second axis of good, implying altruism and respect for life, versus evil, implying selfishness and no respect for life. As with the law-versus-chaos axis, a neutral position exists between the extremes. Characters and creatures could be lawful and evil at the same time (such as a tyrant), or chaotic but good (such as Robin Hood).
Today, there is a lot of discussion around characters who despite being portrayed as a story’s antagonist or protagonist may in fact fall anywhere on these two axes. For example, Thrawn is often portrayed as a villain from the perspective of the story, but he is lawful good; he works within the established order and laws, always for the greater good of the people. We can likely all agree that the law and government he works within are unjust, but he is working within the laws of the government.
Even Imperial-Era Palpatine could be seen as lawful good; he is head of state and — like Thrawn — works within the law to create a structure in the galaxy that can resist the pending existential threat of the far-outsiders (despite his many deplorable actions which nonetheless are within the law). In contrast, a character like Republic-Era Palpatine could be seen as chaotic evil because at that stage, he is only interested in acquiring power at whatever cost, in full violation of the law.
Historically, narratives often assume that the dominant legal and moral frameworks are just. Today. we are seeing many new subversions of the anti-hero motif, where characters often exist outside those older and more clear-cut narrative paradigms and challenge our assumptions about what good and evil are, and what lawful versus chaotic really means when the laws are not on your side.
This new wave of subversions of the anti-hero paradigm aligns closely with the millenial/gen-z fascination with Liminal Space and Interstitial Sociology more broadly.
The aesthetic known as a Liminal Space is a location which is a transition between two other locations, or states of being. Typically these are abandoned, and oftentimes empty – a mall at 4am or a school hallway during summer, for example. This makes it feel frozen and slightly unsettling, but also familiar to our minds.
When we look at the modern world through the lens of interstitial sociology, the key lessons to take away are:
1. Interstitial spaces are where the most interesting things are happening.
2. Interstitial spaces are not ‘in between’ but rather they are ‘between and beyond’. Interstitial spaces can be found in the cracks of the official order, but they can also be found in the cracks of the unofficial order.
3. Interstitial spaces are where we find the most interesting people. Interstitial sociology is not just about ‘the margins’ but also about ‘the mavericks’, ‘the rule breakers’, ‘the innovators’, ‘the rebels’ and ‘the outsiders’.
4. Interstitial spaces are not just about the people who are in them. Interstitial spaces are also about the people who are not in them. They are about the people who are not there and the people who are not allowed to be there. Interstitial spaces are about the people who are excluded and the people who are invisible.
5. Interstitial sociology is not just about the present but also about the past. Interstitial spaces have a history and this history has been forgotten or erased from official memory.
Given all that context, let’s write an analysis of the following meme. A vaporwave image shows Perseus holding Medusa’s head. The text reads, “Chaotic good does not mean chaotic nice.”
Response From AI
Anything in bold is additional promting.
This meme speaks to the idea that chaotic good characters are not necessarily nice or well-meaning, but rather they are characters who operate outside of the established order in pursuit of their own goals. This can be seen as a subversion of the traditional anti-hero motif, where characters often exist outside of the law in order to challenge it.
In this particular instance, the character of Perseus is being used as an example of a chaotic good character. He is shown holding the head of Medusa, which is a clear reference to his defeating her in battle. He is not shown as a nice or well-meaning character, but rather as a victorious warrior.
Another example of a chaotic good character is Robin Hood. He is often portrayed as a rebellious outlaw who breaks the law in order to help those who are disadvantaged. He is not necessarily a nice or well-meaning character, but he is fighting for a good cause.
When we examine thematic crossover between these examples and the set and setting of liminal spaces through the lens of interstitial sociology, we can see that both Perseus and Robin Hood are characters who exist outside of the established order. They are rebels and rule breakers who operate in the margins of society. In doing so, they challenge our assumptions about what is good and what is evil.
Liminal spaces are often empty and abandoned, which can make them feel unsettling. This is because they are in between two states of being. They are not necessarily bad places, but they are places where interesting things are happening.
Characters like Perseus and Robin Hood often exist in these spaces because they are not bound by the laws of society. They can be seen as mavericks or innovators who are not afraid to break the rules.
The fact that they exist in these spaces makes them interesting to us because they are people who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. They offer a different perspective on what it means to be good or evil, and they force us to question our own assumptions about these concepts.