Feminism

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Beren
Posts: 276

Feminism

Post#1 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:51 pm

Otto's World wrote:On the topic of Feminism and the Inklings and of Tolkien's treatment of women characters, my father has always said, with a small tone of resentment in his voice, that women can expect equal treatment with men as soon as they are ready to fight in wars. That IS a pretty big difference and it must color our lives a lot, and must have done so much more in earlier times when fighting was more likely and more likely to be in-your-face. Big difference growing up thinking that you might be called on to fight--try to survive, do a good job under appalling circumstances, and live with killing other people and all of that horror living in your memory--and growing up knowing that you're kind of "safe" from having that experience. I can imagine that men might feel a kind of contempt for women or a deep resentment at the safe "soft" lot in life women get. You know, and then any jobs around the house that are dirty and that require muscle are man-jobs. "Honey, there's a big spider in the closet. Will you come kill it?" Except in the old days it might have been a rat or a raccoon. Have fun living with that in your memory bank. And who gets stuck trying to figure out how to fix the car when there's an issue and you're broken down on the side of the interstate in freezing rain? It's a burden, and I can imagine, living through WWI, having most of one's friends be killed, living through the horrible danger of it all, there must be some resentment knowing that the girls in one's high school class didn't have to do any of that, and all of THEIR friends probably survived, and their only sacrifice is having to be old maids because there aren't enough men to go around. ALTHOUGH...Imagine being a mom during a war. I thought of that while watching Saving Private Ryan and then Band of Brothers. Guys going through training and then pretty much getting killed wholesale in some big explosion--BOOM!!--or a machine-gun minefield--like they might as well have been pushed through a slaughterhouse machine as trying to make any kind of fight, and I felt disgusted and ready to pull out my rolling pin and my big authoritative Mom Voice to say, PEOPLE!! Do you have any #*(*@#-ing IDEA how much WORK it takes to MAKE one of those???!!!! Any CONCEPTION of the toil and patience and will required to GROW one of those things to adulthood???!!! Thanks HEAPS!! I hope you thought of it a lot beforehand and counted the COST...you lug nuts.

But apparently Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were very gentlemanly toward their female students. "We were treated like queens," I remember reading.


and

Gandalfs Beard wrote:on the subject of feminism, I suppose I've been engrained with a lot of "first wave" feminist notions. But I must say, I have found the attitude that "women won't fight, therefore they deserve less respect" puzzling -- as, generally speaking, men are the ones that put women on the pedestal to begin with. Probably starting with Paleolithic men instinctively protecting the survival of the species, and marvelling at the ability to bring life into this world. In Bronze Age times, women became property and men were protecting their "property rights", which has really only declined since the advent of women's suffrage. Rianne Eisler has written some excellent books on the Sacred Feminine and the history of "Dominator style vs Cooperative style" (or something like that) forms of governance.


I think that women, through the suffrage movement have actually LOST the respect they once had. They wanted to be equal with men, and have rights, and be treated fairly, etc. But, before that, women were prized in people's lives. Women were respected, indeed, to the extent of a dignitary or a queen. There was etiquette that you had to learn for being around a woman and interacting with her. One had to treat a woman with the utmost respect and, really, awe. It was a blessing that women didn't have to go off to war.
But women wanted to be equal with men, so a lot of the respect went out the window, and the etiquette soon followed. Women wanted to be treated like men, so they were treated like men. Now they are despised, used, and exposed to the blatant horrors of the world. There was a time when the world, with all of its cruelties, was the man's battlefront. He didn't want to expose the woman to it, because he wanted to come home and be able to shut the world out for a while.
I'm just rambling now. I just think that if women hadn't had their "equal rights" movement, they would be a lot better treated, and a lot more respected. What really happened was this: they wanted to be part of this cruel, sick, dirty, and disgusting world, and so they became part of it, they themselves becoming cruel, sick, dirty, and disgusting. :cry:

Otto's World
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Feminism

Post#2 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:18 pm

Oh, Beren! That is so SAD!! :cry:
It's one of the tough things we're trying to figure out right now, as humans. Innocence and gentleness is to be cherished. But, on the other side of the balance (there are always two extremes and a desirable balance between them that's tough to achieve, isn't there) Eowyn says, "Those who do not wield a sword can still die upon them." It is not pleasant to feel vulnerable or scared or powerless...or caged. What if there IS nobody else to protect you but yourself? What happens if your knight in shining armor gets killed? Or what if he goes off on an adventure and Little You are at home with no skills of self-defense to protect hearth, home, body, and wee ones? Or what if your "protector" is an abuser? Or what if being "safe" means that you never get to be Bilbo, and leave your front door and maybe see 'elves and all'? (Yuck. Poor Emily Bronte, stuck in a dark little house with no telephones, no Internet...) So it is good that women have become more empowered as a result of the women's movement. The behavior seen on Rock of Love with Brett Michaels, though, is probably not a great sign of progress.

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Gandalfs Beard
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Feminism

Post#3 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 2:10 am

Actually Beren, It seems to me, that "respect" for women died out when they became property way back in the Bronze Age.The Goddess gave way to the Male Sky God and eventually the One Male God with no Consort. Suffrage for women is intrinsically tied to Universal Suffrage. What follows is a discourse linking Universal Suffrage to economics and politics and back to Tolkien and the Faerie Story:

When women became property men lost out too. Communal values gave way to the values of Individual control of property, just a few individuals that is. The evils of slavery, Feudalism, and wars for the control of property and the Hegemony of this ideology ensued. World Wars 1 and 2 were really fought to decide which of the Colonial Powers would dominate the worlds markets and resources. In WW2, the Jews were just a convenient scapegoat for Hitler. Primary was the consolidation of economic power and secondary the defense of Capital against Bolshevism.This is not to say that as technology and agriculture evolved people shouldn't be able to own their own home, farm or small business.

Capitalism is ultimately an extension of feudalism, a kind of Neo -feudalism if you will. The evidence for this is as strong today as it was in the time of the Robber Baron. The Founding Fathers believed that the divine right of Capital superseded the divine right of Kings. They believed that only those smart enough to control capital should have Suffrage. Thomas Paine was practically the only one among them to recognize that Universal Suffrage (political democracy) and economic democracy were linked. The vile and violent excesses of the French Revolution to the Bolshevick Revolution were a response to the centuries of economic and political brutality the people, proletarian and peasant alike, had endured. Ultimately, a more ideal solution would involve the Democratic control of large industry and banking while allowing indviduals and families private homes, small farms and small businesses, i.e. Democratic Socialism.

I return now to Tolkien and Lewis to bolster my points. They were both fascinated with Medievalism. And Medievalism was the beginning of the return of the Sacred Feminine. Troubadours sang of Courtly Love and Knights were expected to uphold the values of Chivalry against the greed of Potentates and Popes. This led eventually to the Enlghtenment and the rise of the Popular Revolutions. Ironically, it also gave rise to the Merchant and Banking Class who sought Suffrage for themselves alone. The Royal Courts of Europe either fell in line with the neo--feudalists (Capitalists) or were replaced (with varying degrees of success). Of course as long as some seek Power for themselves, class struggle will continue to exist (which will probably always be true). Tolkien recognized that Faerie Story
revealed the possibilities of Freedom from these Dark Forces. In a way TLOTR is more about political/economy and Narnia about the Sacred Feminine and Pagan Desire, but both were reflected in each other. I hope this hasn't bored people or turned them off. I just wanted to show that Feminism is inevitably linked with Universal Suffrage and that is a good thing.

Happy New Year

Gandalfs Beard

Otto's World
Posts: 138

Feminism

Post#4 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:33 am

GB, you did not bore me, you caused my brain to sieze. :shock: [I know that smilie is supposed to indicate shock, but it looks the way my head feels right now: both turned on and stuck--like a paper jam in a printer.]
Tolkien recognized that Faerie Story revealed the possibilities of Freedom from these Dark Forces. In a way TLOTR is more about political/economy and Narnia about the Sacred Feminine and Pagan Desire, but both were reflected in each other.

I totally need to unpack what you wrote earlier to even try to tackle the above concluding remarks. First, Communal Values and Feminism: There's nothing like having a baby to make you appreciate communal values. You WANT to be proud and self-sufficient and empowered (so that you can feel safe inside--we all want to feel safe inside--and so that you can maintain some measure of self-respect). But having a baby makes you temporarily handicapped. Like they should give new moms a sticker similar to the icon with the person in the wheelchair, only make it a lighter color to indicate that the real handicapped people come first. Because, when the baby is really little and floppy, you are pretty much stuck half of the time operating with the use of only one arm. Try making a taco, tying your shoes, getting in and out of a store if there is no automatic door. You know, and if you are nursing, you've basically got this fragile barnacle attached for at least 20 minutes out of every 2 hours. I don't know, maybe try imagining that you are responsible for maintaining a 3,000-year-old Ming dynasty teacup, only you have to keep it constantly out and exposed to the world because it needs to be cleaned and fed and given air and otherwise held on your person almost 24/7, and you have to try to function--like go to the bathroom and brush your teeth and eat and sleep and shower and be civilized. Maybe not a great analogy. But the 3,000-year-old teacup conveys the idea of the anxiety involved, except you can't say, "Oh, screw it," and smash the damn thing to get out of the sense of suspense and responsibility. And you're out in the world, trying to take the thing to the doctor to get its shots, and to buy it diapers and so on, and thank HEAVENS that the world out there is full of other people who have already had babies, and particularly imaginative and empathy-filled people who have not, because people will open doors for you and hold down papers for you when you have to sign things, and otherwise tolerate your slowness. You know, and then when your 3,000-year-old teacup starts to walk, you've got to keep it from getting squished by cars... And as soon as you start to get really good at it and used to this responsibility, you're likely to get a second teacup. And you really need other people to take the teacup for you sometimes so that you can get a break, otherwise you will lose your mind. And your needs widen as your teacup grows. You hope that people obey traffic laws and speed limits, and you look for crime-free, litter-free, pollution-free places. You want good doctors and good policemen and good construction workers, teachers, soccer coaches, and providers of safe food and drugs. You know, you are no longer content to be a free agent, responsible only for yourself, free to live and let live: you start to really care that other people behave themselves and care about the larger community. You know, and you really start ultimately to be concerned that other people raise their teacups well so that their teacups don't get your teacup pregnant.

Arg. Sorry for so much blabbage. So we need community. But there's also the story of the Grasshopper and the Ants, you know, where the ants work their butts off all summer, filling up their anthill with food and such, while the Grasshopper plays his fiddle and dances and sings doo de doo de dooo. Then when winter comes, the Grasshopper is stuck outside in the snow with no food and no shelter. So the ants let him live with them. How nice of them! Let's hope Grasshopper learned his lesson. But what if Grasshopper tells his other grasshopper friends and the ants get invaded by a swarm of freeloading dudes who are 50 times bigger than each of them--and I don't know, maybe some of the grasshoppers have 3,000-year-old teacups as well. How fair is that for the ants? Especially the really industrious ones who sweat and sacrifice and maybe take Calculus and Organic Chemistry and think of better food-fetching strategies?

It just happens that I was trying to read Ayn Rand recently. I gave up--for much the same reason that I gave up reading the Silmarillion earlier--it takes a lot of patience and detemination to read. I wanted to understand the world my parents lived in when they were young adults, and Ayn Rand was a big influence on my dad. We all know that in the 50s in the US there was major fear and paranoia about communism. One thing I did get from perusing Ayn Rand was that she feared that the government, or some communal entity, would start to dictate how many chemists our society needed and how many teachers and so on and that people would be ASSIGNED their roles rather than being able to develop their real talents and be who they really wanted to be, and that, as a result, we would have a lot of really flat dissatisfied chemists and teachers who weren't very fired up by their jobs and who ended up doing kind of B- or C+ work. She believed that dictating effort, drive, discipline, and achievement from above would just suck all of the motivation out of people, and that really, if people were allowed to pursue their own self-interests, those interests would ultimately work for the good of the whole (i.e., we want chemists who looove chemistry and who will work really hard and who will be rewarded and encouraged to do great jobs). She writes as if there's a real danger that the government will become an all-powerful machine, impersonal and imperfect, and impossible to control. It does seem that people in the U. S. were much more worried about communism/socialism than were people in Europe. [This is a chunk of history that I really need to explore more.]

Then, I remember from the C. S. Lewis biography-ish movie Shadowlands, that Joy Davidman says to him that she's a communist because with the rise of Hitler, she felt that she only had two choices: to be a fascist or a communist. And that line just gets said and the movie goes on and the issue is not raised again. So I've always thought, "Huh...don't understand that one...gotta save it for later inquiry." Then there's this miniseries with Ken Brannagh and Emma Thompson, made right after they did Henry V and were in their golden phase, ...this miniseries about English translator working in Russia just prior to WWII. You know, and the Europeans have/had much more of a sense of reaction against the class/aristocracy system than did people from the U. S.. Much more of a sense of communalism/socialism in reaction to the old system of people being stuck in this or that class. So what does that mean? Having to make an either/or choice betwen communism and fascism? People living in America would have said, "Neither!"

The code of chivalry (in the sense of putting the Feminine on a pedestal) essentially protects babies and tender young 'uns and allows their caretakers to focus on taking care of them. Being a baby-raiser makes you vulnerable and in need of protection and support. Women aren't THAT helpless otherwise. [Well...probably wouldn't match well against football players, so probably wouldn't do as well in combat, but there are a lot of wimpy boys who wouldn't make it on the football field either and would get stuffed into lockers and trash cans...and men figured out how to use those guys...made them into monks? Guys who stayed in the rear to run the mess tent and repair the gear?] We need to be a cooperative species. Hmm...but the chivalric code also rewards achievement. Some knights are going to lift weights and eat their spinach and not fiddle around playing video games, but will run and sweat and practice and lose sleep and liesure to become better and better at what they do, not always just to protect babies and the beeeeautiful women who raise them--because I really think that this is usually something that motivates an older man...maybe one with grandchildren--but younger knights will want to gain honor. Hmm...I think it's a mixed motivation (thinking on personal experience, watching hard-working soldiers and noticing what seems to motivate them to throw themselves on the grenade, so to speak, it's a mix of love for county and all of the babies and trees and green grass and lovely slender girls and Mom and friends and pizza and Big Macs in it, and also the love of the job itself, the joy of playing with those cool machines and learning awesome techniques like jumping out airplanes and blowing big things to smithereens, and the ethic of excellence and self-actualization, because they reeeeeeeaaally love the medals....but oh hell, the soldier ethic is a totally communal one--with some tiny self-aggrandizing totally symbolic rewards for personal excellence). What about Achilles? Isn't the "honor" that he desires just the external reward that his society gives to those who are really good at protecting the babies?

I am SO SORRY for blabbing on and on and on like this :oops: :ugeek: Can I summarize or clarify the issues that I most would like you to respond to? Help me figure out this idea that there's an either/or choice that needs to be made between Communism and Fascism, and please demonstrate more clearly how Capitalism is a "dark force" or that democratic control of such forces is necessarily better. And is capitalism symbolized by the grasping attitude and desire for control/power that the ring generates? Say more, please.

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Gandalfs Beard
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Feminism

Post#5 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:15 pm

Wheeew.... Otto's World, I'll do my best to help. First I should say I am indeed gifted (and cursed) with the ability to imagine and to empathise. Sometimes it makes me a total Wuss. If I had to survive in the wilderness I would probably be vegetarian; but even then I wonder about the spirit of the plant that gave it's life so I might live. As I don't have to kill my own food I have an unfortunate addiction to meat. But like the Animist Pagans of the Paleolithic (before Spirits became Gods) I like to thank the creatures that I eat. I am trying with little success to change my ways (I can't stand the Concentration Camp style of farming,ever see Chicken Run?).

On Ayn Rand: she hurts my head too. She thinks she's a libertarian ( with a small L), but she, like most Libertarians (big L) in America fails to understand that individual liberties can only exist when Communities work together to protect each other. This style of individualism leads inevitably to Fascism (the confluence of Capital, State, and Religion) and Feudalism etc..All the isms that protect the right of a few individuals to lord it over the rest of us. The only reason to bother with Rand is so when you are arguing politics and someone brings her up, you can then claim to speak knowledgably of her views.

On American History I suggest Howard Zinn's A Peoples History of the United States. On political economy Noam Chomsky is good, but Michael Parenti is sooo much better. Try his newest book Contrary Notions and work your way back. Contrary Notions is a collection of updated articles and essays. Parenti is by far the clearest and easiest to read. You can actually understand what he's on about. Naomi Klein's Disaster Capitalism is really good, but she takes longer to read. Reading Michael Parenti is like reading Narnia, captivating and quickly moving.

Part of the problem with Libertarian Conservatism is they don't distinguish between Government and the State. They smush these ideas into one to confuse people. The Government is the Community working together to provide for all. The State is the Executive Branch, The Military and the arm of the Ruling Class. In Europe this is understood. The Prime Minister runs the Government and the President (or King or Queen) is the Head of State, so there is a much clearer separation of powers than in the USA where the President is expected to perform both functions. But Europe isn't perfect either. The State has infiltrated and taken over the Governments, particularly in Britain. You can always tell when this is happening because politicians start to say "for the people" when in fact they are for the Corporations. Blair and Bush's War for Oil is the most perfect example of this. Why else would a Labor Party leader team up with a Right Wing Republican. So in the applicability sense the Ring does indeed represent the Dark Forces of Greed and Lust for power which is what Capitalism is really all about. Whenever right-wingers go on about small businesses they are lying through their teeth (no offense). Their real concern is for Big Business which tramples all over small business. Having owned a small business has just made me More socialist not less. Democratic Governance is about health care, schooling, community policing, fire departments etc. (the things usually relegated to the Feminine). The State is about protecting the Rich from the rest of us (and clearly represents the Patriarchy). This was explicitly spelled out by the Founding Fathers. They were really concerned about the "levelling" tendencies of "too much democracy". Hence they created a strong executive, and a Senate modelled on the Imperial one, that would check the power of the Congress, which -- as in Rome -- represented the Plebes, i.e. the rest of us.

I will continue this but I want to upload it before I lose it.

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Gandalfs Beard
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Feminism

Post#6 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:39 pm

Okay, Now as to Grasshoppers and Ants. Analogies can only go so far (generally speaking) before they lose coherence. But to continue the analogy a bit further: The ants are toiling tireless worker drones working without joy of life. The Grashoppers are the artists, the musicians, the Tolkiens and Lewises who provide the meaning and joie de vivre of life. They give us a reason to live. Living to toil is pointless. Without enjoyment of life we would just commit mass suicide (which we come close to all the time). So ideally the Grasshopper community and the Ant community would live side by side each providing what the other needs. Of course, realistically it doesn't always (rarely that is) work out as well. There are always some, believing that the others are layabouts, want to horde what they (their workers really) have produced. This disregards the fact of Overproduction (surplus), which is often what occurs when production is well organized. There is then more than enough to go around and you end up with surplus workers (the unemployed). As long as resources abound this can continue. With declining resources and increasing populations, instabilities arise. As long as the Rich suck up the excess value created by the workers (Capitalism) there is little hope of solving the instabilities. Only by pulling together for sustainable production and consumption can we stabilize the economies and the environment. This requires the efforts of Communities of Individuals (democratic socialism) and this also resolves the apparent paradox of the community vs the individual.

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Gandalfs Beard
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Feminism

Post#7 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:43 pm

I'll leave it here for now and come back later this evening. I am not up to dealing with New Year Crowds, so a quiet evening at home sounds good to me.

Happy New Year

Gandalfs Beard

Otto's World
Posts: 138

Feminism

Post#8 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:03 pm

Grasshoppers, Ants, and Achilles
Alrighty roo...I'm going to go totally off topic, but whatever. I watched the movie Troy, with Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom, and I do not know if my interpretation of it matches what the director intended--or for that matter, what Homer intended--but... It seemed like the Greek army (Achilles' team) represented almost a Spartan ideal--everyone so tough in order to assure the defense of their culture that they have a dry tough hard culture that is hardly worth defending. And the Trojan society represented a really fun place to be, but too vulnerable, because maybe they are too soft and idealistic and don't spend enough of their tax dollars on defense. (Notice how pretty their fountains and curtains and interiors were compared to the dark war-focused feel of the Greeks' living spaces). Priam--Orlando Bloom's dad--is so nice and tolerant. "That's okay, son, I don't blame you for wanting the good fruits of life. You're young. She's pretty. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. What can we do? Kiss kiss. Welcome to Troy, my dear girl." They're like Sweden or Switzerland, except they don't get away with it: they get slammed, because they're in a world full of violent acquisitive neighbors. Agamemnon, by contrast, is totally cool about killing his daughter to persuade the gods to get the wind to blow so he can go to war. He's totally ready to make yuck sacrifices to be strong. I'm thinking here that the Greeks are like the ants, doing the tough yucky hard work, while the Trojans reveal their feminine side, artistic grasshoppers, making music and fountains and love. Did anyone else get that vibe from the movie?

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Gandalfs Beard
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Feminism

Post#9 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:29 pm

Ya know...that's pretty much on the mark Otto's World. I wish this thead was called Feminism, Politics and Everything Else, because when so many ideas are linked like this it's easier to follow the conversation on one thread. It's been a while since I have seen Troy so I can't really comment on the directors intentions. The most recent movie about Greeks I saw was 300. It kind of over-romanticized the Spartans, but it didn't shy away from showing the harshness of their culture either. It was gorey too (like Beowulf). I enjoyed the film, but it sort of fluffed over what separated the Spartans from the Athenians. There is a line uttered by Gerard Butler's character, King Leonid which is laughable to anyone who knows Greek history. He calls the Athenians Boy Lovers. As most historians note the Spartans "loved" boys as much as the Athenians.

Putting aside that icky aspect, it also portrayed Athenians as a cowardly lot, another point I take issue with. But clearly, as you were pointing out, the Philosophers and Artisans need the Warriors too. One of the reasons I like Eastern traditions a bit more than Western ones is that the separation wasn't so distinct. One could go to a Shaolin Temple or a Tibetan Monastery and learn Philosophy and Martial Arts. Anyway the whole point is everyone has something to contribute to the community, and a well organized community has enough for the few that don't have so much to contribute. Now, as far as I remember, I totally got the vibe from Troy (the movie) that you attested to.

Gandalfs Beard

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Gandalfs Beard
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Feminism

Post#10 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:17 pm

I was just going over some of your other points regarding Ayn Rand. I suppose if there is any area of agreement between my view and hers as you described them, it is that innovation and democracy comes from the people. Authoritarian structures inevitably stifle new ideas and freedom. What she failed to realize is that Hyper-individualism leads to Authoritarianism, as people out for everything they can get trample everyone else. But grass roots democracy is communalism and individualism. The Authoritarian structure of the Soviet state under Stalin was a direct response to the threat from the Capitalist world. Immediately after the Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union was invaded by about 16 nations including the USA and Britain in about 1918. So they became more "Spartan" to protect themselves. The Capitalist regimes knew it was dangerous to allow a competing ideology to exist. This is why the USA supported assassinations of democratically elected Socialists like Allende in Argentina -- and like the attempts on Hugo Chavez, who has done more to alleviate the destitution in his country than the previous Capitalist/Fascist administrations.

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