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What Prompted this Essay?

tj_dragonblade: You've got me very curious about your newfound hints of leniency toward Sasuke. Share? See, I've been trying to cultivate a more sympathetic understanding of him for a long time just because fandom tends to be more fun when you don't actively hate one of the principal characters. I eventually got there with Heero, but it took awhile. Ideally I'd like to do the same with Sasuke. I don't think I'll ever like him, and he'll always be better on crack, but if I could get past the dislike of him, I'd be happier.

ok. well. insert excerpt from The Fall of Icarus:
“You’re going to be angry at me for saying this, but, Sasuke likes being miserable and the nicest thing he’s ever done for you as your friend was leave.”

“Th-that’s not true,” Naruto sputtered, his anger tripping his tongue.

“Isn’t it?” Neji asked gently because he didn’t want to fight. “You, me, Gaara, Gai, Kakashi, Iruka . . . plenty of people in this village had crummy childhoods and pasts haunted by ghosts. But we all stayed and made something of ourselves. We didn’t desert our village, we didn’t desert our friends. For Sasuke to think that his own circumstances somehow surpassed anyone else is egotistical and selfish.”

“He’s just lonely,” Naruto stubbornly argued.

Neji shrugged. “Then he’ll find friends who won’t mind that he’s the gloomy sort,” he reasoned. He was likely ruining any chances of a continued relationship in saying it, but he would not flinch. “Not everybody wants to be saved, Naruto. You can’t force someone to walk the way you want them to walk, or talk the way you want them to talk simply because it makes you feel better because that’s selfish too. Worse, you’ve got to stop validating your worth by Sasuke’s approval of you. He’s not the kind of person who could give it to you, his loser teammate, who has somehow succeeded in making genius’ look stupid. You aren’t ‘dead last’ anymore, Naruto. And where it really counts, you never were.

“For you and Sasuke, no matter what you did, you were always going to end up fighting Akatsuki. Sasuke chose to do it alone. So, you won’t but I’ll say this anyway, maybe you should leave him alone.”

written after a conversation with E. on what friendship really is.

Will the Real Uchiha Sasuke Please Stand Up: Sasuke's Absolute Defense of Character by a Former Sasuke Hater

When you are somebody's friend you have made an agreement with yourself to accept that person, flaws and all. Naruto didn't do that with Sasuke. Neither did Sakura. And now to prove it.

Sasuke was always a gloomy closet-serial-killer kind of kid. He was looked down on because he wasn't the prodigy Itachi was. His parents brushed him off. He has no really excellent memories of the Clan that he keeps whining about because the Uchiha as a whole were all angst-ridden individuals (with the exception of the long-dead Obito). But even so, the Clan accepted his misery. It was okay if he didn't smile. It was okay if he didn't have any friends. It was okay for him to be his emo self.

Fast forward to the genocide of the Clan. Of course, Sasuke probably would have killed his parents anyway in a fit of rage or something, but that option was taken away with the loss of his sanctuary. So his only recourse was to vow to gain satisfaction in Itachi's death by his hand. Fine. But in the mean time, Sasuke gets stuck in cheerful as fuck Konoha with not a melancholy soul to commiserate with. Can’t talk to Naruto -- he's a social pariah. Can’t talk to girls -- they get stupid around him. Can’t talk to the other boys -- they're jealous of him. Can’t talk to the grown-ups -- they all tell him the lack of happiness in his being is wrong.

So, somewhere along the line in his childhood with Itachi, Sasuke comes to the conclusion that jealousy is good. He was ever jealous of Itachi. He hated Itachi as much as he loved him, as much as he was jealous of him. When you are the object of someone else’s envy it means you’re better than they are. And after Itachi left, jealousy meant Sasuke was that much closer to Itachi's level. Enter Naruto -- so desperate for approval -- he managed to get under Sasuke’s skin because Naruto was okay with Sasuke's gloom and he was jealous of him. Naruto accepted Sasuke –- the real Sasuke -- up until the point where he was no longer jealous. Whoops. Well. Now the dynamic of the 'friendship' has changed.

Now we've got these two asking themselves if they're still friends. Do they still accept each other, flaws and all?

That answer was ‘No’ from both of them.

A friend does not say, alright, you can hang out at my house but I’m not ever going to go to yours, and essentially that's what Naruto did.

Sasuke figuratively said, 'look, Naruto, for my sake, because I don't have a lot going for me, you have to let me have the illusion of superiority even if you and I both know that's not true. Even though you and I both know I trust you with my life.'

Naruto figuratively answered, 'no, Sasuke, you've got to acknowledge me as equals with a smile on your face and shoot sunshine out your ass when you walk beside me.'

But Sasuke has an antipathy to sunshine and always has. That did not change just because he and Naruto were friends. You can say what you want about Sasuke, but at least he's consistent. Unless it was a crack episode, you never saw him sitting at Ichiraku's eating a bowl of ramen with Naruto after a mission; you didn't see him hanging out with anybody just for the hell of it. He doesn't make jokes unless he's putting someone down. The only time we’ve ever seen Sasuke play like a normal kid was when he was with Itachi before he’d started at the academy. Most people blame Itachi for triggering a relapse, but the truth is that the second Sasuke saw Naruto surpass him at the Gaara fight, that was the light that broke the kaleidoscope.

At that point, to Sasuke’s way of thinking, he already had one perfect brother; he could not handle having two. He could not handle ‘dead-last’ Naruto becoming someone he would envy.

Sasuke was always going to go to Orochimaru because Orochimaru was powerful, would teach him, give him a chance to train without all those BS missions, and didn't mind Sasuke's angst. Sakura could have gone with him (and the most respect i’ve ever had for her was in Shippuuden was when she said that she would). But she didn't go because she couldn't reconcile the Sasuke in her head with the one that actually existed. Given those circumstances, were i Sasuke, with the option of being me, or being who everyone thought i should be, i would have left too.

He is still not on my list of 'worth a damn' characters. But i do understand him better now. And i’ve always believed that people inherently know who they are, even serial killers. Itachi once said something similar to, ‘Reality is what we allow ourselves to believe is true’. i think the problem most Naruto fans have with Sasuke is that we keep expecting Naruto to be able to fix him, and we were frustrated that Sasuke seemed hell-bent on rejecting his healing. But the reality is that Naruto only invokes what is already there, and he can't do that with Sasuke because there is nothing wrong with Sasuke. He is who he is; a broody, envious, angst-kitten. And if Naruto had been a better friend, instead of trying to convert him, he would have sat down beside Sasuke and brooded with him every now and then.

After years of absolute dislike and then finally coming to this epiphany, i’m actually more annoyed with fanfiction featuring Sasuke than i have ever been. i know fic is supposed to be an author's take on a character, but my suspension of disbelief only goes so far, and Sasuke is now too OOC for me to get in to the reading. Writers keep trying to make Sasuke bright and cheerful, with a tad of grumpy thrown in. When it should be grumpy and angry with a tad of lonely enough to put up with whatever these people have planned thrown in.

i can't see him as any kind of sexual. He says he wants to revive the clan, but he doesn't (because -- vengeance or not -- Sakura, Ino, or even Karin would have been pregnant by now if that were true.)

reality has shifted in this aspect -- almost within the hour after writing the original of this essay. i will rephrase. i can’t see Sasuke with any of the women presented in the Naruto’verse. Sasuke doesn’t really want to revive his clan in the sense of ‘quantity’. He wants to revive it in ‘status’. Even if he’s the only one, he wants the name ‘Uchiha’ to mean ‘Ultimate’, he wants his eyes to be burned in to the retinas of the collective shinobi world. Of all the women presented in this ‘verse, none of them offer status. None of them compare. From Sasuke’s perspective, none of them are worthy of the name Uchiha.

Behind every strong man there should be a stronger ‘Ride or Die’ chic (if he's in to girls anyway). this chic, has her man’s back, she handles his lightweight, she knows all his flaws and is cool with it, she will throw herself away if it means her man’s victory. That’s the kind of serial-killer love Sasuke needs. But instead, of the women he has spent any significant amount of time with, he gets:

  Sakura: strong, yes, but doesn’t accept the real him and is prone to whiny girl mentality.
  Ino: same as above with the exception of being too weak.
  Temari: ?. would actually work out as she is used to serial-killers. ? will have to think about it and see if i can’t find a downside . . . huh. downside found. she's already Ride or Die for her brothers (not in the sexual sense you pervs!). she's just not the kind of girl who would throw her family away for a dude.
  Karin: way too weak. If -- when she had been taken hostage by Danzou -- she had said “get him, Sasuke, don’t worry about me,” or something similar, instead of “help me. Save me” then i would have considered her, weak or not. As is, i have to dismiss her the same way Sasuke did.

of the dudes he’s spent significant time with there are a few, but the only one that really works is Suigetsu. Suigetsu has no preconceptions about Sasuke. He uses Sasuke to his advantage. He’s a fellow serial-killer. He had probably brooded with Sasuke in the past while he was stuck in the fish tank. Suigetsu made so much of an impression on the generally ‘not interested in anybody but me’ Uchiha, that Sasuke went out of his way to ensure Suigetsu stayed with him instead of choosing someone else. In their own ‘love is a battlefield way’, they have fun together. Suigetsu can take care of himself, his envy is more respect. He doesn’t make demands on Sasuke to be anyone but who he is, he allows Sasuke to be the leader and he's willing to take a hit if it means Sasuke is victorious. That is all Sasuke has ever wanted in a friend, and not something Naruto could give him.

In the end i predict that Sasuke and Naruto will fight. And Sasuke will die. not because Naruto will kill him, but because he will kill himself trying to kill Naruto. nobody beats Naruto in stamina. When i think about it, compared to Itachi, Sasuke is a pretty flat character, but his dying without anybody realizing how misunderstood he’s been, will be waste all the same.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
...Okay, every time I re-read this, I realize that you know what, I don't have too terribly many thoughts to offer in return after all, not after that sort of epiphany. I'm just sitting here nodding along and kind of seeing Sasuke in a whole new light, and it's a rather more sympathetic light at that. Thank you. I mean, you make some damn good points (and I love love love the way that Neji sums them up to Naruto - that excerpt is lovely and I would love to read more but I know you said it's still a longtime WIP) on Self and Acceptance and wow, Sasuke may be envied as 'that Uchiha genius' by folks in the village but...he's just as much of an outcast as Naruto, in a way, because, like you said - cheerful-as-fuck Konoha, and he doesn't fit in.

See, you've made my ability to craft a grammatically-coherent sentence fly straight out the window. ^_^;

But the reality is that there is nothing wrong with Sasuke. He is who he is; a broody, envious, angst-kitten. And if Naruto had been a better friend, instead of trying to convert him, he would have sat down beside Sasuke and brooded with him every now and then.

This. This is profound, and points out also that awesome as Naruto is, he's still flawed and fallible in very human ways. I'm wondering, now, about an AU 'verse where Naruto had been a little less hell-bent on 'Acknowledge me, dammit!' and been able to see that Sasuke needed to be accepted for himself, as well. Would that have changed the course of their future, and how much? *ponders* Food for thought.

But yes. Sasuke wants to reinstate his clan's status. Because status tends to mean fear and/or respect, depending, and more of that envy/jealousy that, as you point out, he's learned to use as a gauge for his own value/worth.

*Cough* I will totally read whatever you come up with for Sasuke and Suigetsu, also; I can get on board with that. Your arguments are very convincing. I'd have to re-read to refresh, but my memory says he sought out Karin for her sensory abilities, he sought out Juugo for his (curse-marked?) strength in a fight, but I don't recall any 'excuse' for making Suigetsu part of his team. Hrm.

So you don't buy into the standard future-fic premise that they'll eventually bring Sasuke back and Team 7 will be 'a family again' either, I see. I mean, given how precisely Team 7 is mirroring the Sannin, I just don't see it being very likely. Especially in light of all of the above. What reason could he possibly have, in the end, for wanting to come back? Particularly given how he's reacted after learning the truth about the massacre?

I am filing this away with my email-notifications from this entry to mull over all together. Thanks again for sharing your epiphany - I doubt he'll ever move much in the ranks of my favorites, but I'm actually feeling a little more...forgiving, I guess, of him, after absorbing this. And that's pretty much all I've ever asked.

This is a wonderful essay. ♥
Mar. 22nd, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
it was a hell of an epiphany (i like to take credit for being witty but E blows me away most of the time) anyhow, if it's helped you even a little bit you are very welcome.

that excerpt is lovely and I would love to read more

yeah. The Fall was started sept 2004. had the second chapter done but never posted it, but now i've had such a change of direction for that fic that it needs to be reworked. though i may have found a spot to squeeze it into that won't screw with the timeline.

Sasuke may be envied as 'that Uchiha genius' by folks in the village

funny. because by Uchiha standards he was kind of mediocre. he must have really loved being called a genius. *sidenote* y'know Neji's a genius too but i have more respect for him because he does work hard for that title (especially with Gai as a sensei) and it makes me wonder if Kakashi went too easy on Sasuke just because he has natural talent. also, Sasuke is the kind who needs a one-on-one teacher, so its not that he can't work in a team, but he would have been perfect for ANBU.

This. This is profound, and points out also that awesome as Naruto is,

hey. even Jesus had one lousy friend, but even knowing he was going to be betrayed, Judas still had a place at his table. sometimes you really do have to ask yourself to define friendship to know whether or not you are a good one.

wondering, now, about an AU 'verse

started thinking too. know what? even if Itachi had never massacred their clan, and Naruto had been a little less 'see me, dammit', i still think Sasuke would have left. as proper, perfect friends, Sasuke would have seen the village's defenses as too weak to protect Naruto from Akatsuki, and he would have disappeared right after Naruto left for training to find someone to make him strong enough. and after he was that, he would have hunted down Akatsuki two-by-two for their even daring to threaten his bestest friend who accepts him, because that's the kind of person Sasuke is.

N&S are both fighting the ninja system that is too harsh if it could make a Zabuza and Haku or an Itachi. but where Naruto is persuade/change/if it hurts me beat some sense into it; Sasuke is dominate/destroy/if it hurts me hurt it back harder until it ceases breathing.

*Cough* I will totally read whatever you come up with for Sasuke and Suigetsu

*sneeze* great-cause-i-may-need-you-to-proofread-porn. *sniff* and i even drew fan art for them. this is crazy. but you're right. Sasuke made no 'excuse' for why he brought Suigetsu. Suigetsu was like 'deuces' and Sasuke was like, 'wait-a-minute, what do you want?' and then he took him to Zabuza's sword (which was kind of out of the way for the next hideout).

So you don't buy into the standard future-fic premise

hell no. honestly, its a lesson Naruto needs to learn, and secondly Sasuke never fit in with the village in the first place, now he has reason to hate it. and he already remade Team 7 to the best of his ability with Taka (who like him exactly as he is) so there's no real cause for him to return. and i don't think he would have gone back to Konoha after the Itachi fight (i will never say he killed him, because Itachi was dead long before that battle) because he'd been away too long . . . free to do what he wanted too long.

i will say that somewhere during the Danzou fight Sasuke started acting a little less like 'typical' Sasuke, so now i'm curious about what's going on in Kishimoto's head.

this entry

sorry. deployment. though in 2008 i was a hardcore hater and wouldn't have been of much use... Sadieko does make a good point in that Naruto taught Sasuke how to be brave. though everything else is a bit of stretch to me because that wasn't all Naruto's influence -- Sasuke does have inherent (what we would call) 'good' characteristics that draw people to him. if he didn't, he never would have been able to form Taka.

...hm. this AU'verse thing is beginning to take root...
Mar. 23rd, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
though i may have found a spot to squeeze it into that won't screw with the timeline
That's the challenge, isn't it?  Especially when the story is still ongoing.
makes me wonder if Kakashi went too easy on Sasuke
Mmm.  *ponders*  He very well might have.  I mean, Kakashi didn't even want a team to begin with, right?  And if Sasuke displayed natural talent and 'ahead of the class'-ness, I can very easily imagine Kakashi's logic being along the lines of 'Great, don't have to do too much with him' especially when Naruto's on the other end of that spectrum.  Also, given the whole Obito thing, I wonder if Kakashi wasn't perhaps a bit reluctant to be too involved with a 'reminder', i.e., another Uchiha. 
and after he was that, he would have hunted down Akatsuki two-by-two for their even daring to threaten his bestest friend who accepts him, because that's the kind of person Sasuke is
...I...I-I kind of want to read that AU'verse, now.  Dammit, what the hell is this? O_o
*sneeze* great-cause-i-may-need-you-to-proofread-porn.
I will proofread your porn and your non-porn alike.  ^_^
*sniff* and i even drew fan art for them. this is crazy
^_^  I know the feeling.
now he has reason to hate it...he'd been away too long . . . free to do what he wanted too long
beginning to take root
*cough*  I am reminded.  There is a certain function at work that requires me to log in with a username of 'Root'.  It makes Inner-TJ giggle every damn time.  ^_^;
Mar. 23rd, 2011 04:44 am (UTC)
time: the problem with the timeline is that everything happens so fast that there's no room to just throw in one random mission. cause if you want to write about Naruto X Someone and it doesn't fall before the Gaara arc then you have to wait until after the Sai/Sasuke arc... so pretty much "Episode 57". but as i thought about it, Sai didn't exist in 2004 when i planned it. so, just because i know about him now doesn't necessarily mean he needs to be in The Fall even if he would be really useful considering the nature of the mission. and i've always hated that Naruto didn't really get a chance to get reacquainted with his peers. so.

AU 'verse: yep. we're so calling it "U". i'm sorry. i know its a shock.

Pairings: i felt weird so i went and drew some ShikaChou for normalcy's sake. shall probably do NejiNaru or YamaSai next to keep the creepies away while i willingly write about Sasuke. i'll send the SasuSui (which is just fun to say) your way when i'm done with it. ^_^
Mar. 23rd, 2011 05:45 am (UTC)
the problem with the timeline is that everything happens so fast that there's no room to just throw in one random mission

Word. And it really is a shame that Naruto just pops in, says 'Hey ___! Hey ___! Oh, and hey to you too ___!' and takes off again on his next Grand Adventure. It would be nice to see him settle a little and interact a bit. It would also lend credence to Gai's assertion in one of my WIPs that Naruto and Neji have been growing closer since Naruto came back. *^_^*

Sooo, do I get to see these drawings when you're done with them? ^_^
Mar. 23rd, 2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
i see that strike out and i *like* it!

but yeah. of course you get to see. when don't i show you my art(if one could call it that)? E said he would teach me how to color when he got home from work (again). which is great cause i suck at it, and i have three sketches that could really use the old E touch. so much art in two days, jeez there are some serious heeby jeebies from talking about Sasuke's penis. and i don't know if that's holdover anger at him or just a really weird aversion to writing porn (when i have no trouble drawing it).
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )