citrakayah: (Default)
Some people have had questions over what exactly constitutes a "personal essay," since I asked that people not submit them. This was poor phrasing on my part, I intended to discourage people from submitting works that were written in an academic tone and either about their own generalized experiences or how they thought therianthropy worked (or to make a comment about the community, or something similar). This was not intended to discourage someone from writing about something that actually happened to them.

My apologies for any confusion.
citrakayah: (Default)
My grandmother died, which actually is one of the least bad things to happen to me this week, since I wasn't that close to her. If anything, I'm upset because I'm not upset, which is something I swear I am one of the few people stupid enough to actually get upset over.

Random Person: "Are you upset?"
Me: "No. So actually kind of yes."

Wasn't a big deal, though, so I slept it off. Worked like a charm. I will have to miss classes this Friday, though, to go to the funeral.

More problematic is, well, school--Pyramid Guy's teaching methods are as arcane as ever, and appear to be based off some bizarre wizardry that I don't understand, since the questions he gives us to answer during the lecture aren't all answered by his lecture, and he goes over important stuff not in the questions.

Also he spent a lot of time on the test on things he didn't really go over or emphasize in class. When he gave us a copy of the test to study, several of the questions were worded differently (which doesn't sound like a big deal until you realize that the questions on the copy included bits of information that weren't in the test) and the questions were worth different point values.

I have an eight page essay on Cahokia due Monday, for the same class, I might add.

Made a campaign homepage at Obsidian Portal; I'm officially calling the campaign (and the game setting) Terra Chronos.


Oh, and started a writing contest with Mobius on the Werelist to try to pick up activity, because the site has been growing less active recently. There's information here. Essays are accepted... but honestly I, personally, would be more likely to vote for fiction/poetry/similar stuff.
citrakayah: (Default)
1. I have two thoughts at the same time. First, I love Rift. It is fun, free to play, and I am harder to kill than a mutant alien cockroach. Second, I hate Rift, it eats up so much time.

Needless to say, those two thoughts cannot both be true--well, they can, but it is dissonance--and I am currently leaning towards being rather angry at myself. Which isn't good, really... I have had a problem with getting disgusted at myself, and it doesn't feel good. Perhaps this can be used for good, but it is still... bothersome.

2. Related to that, haven't gotten to reply to a bunch of entries by other people in a while. If I suddenly show up after a month's absence to reply to an entry, that is why--it's been sitting open as a tab and I haven't gotten around to it, even though I should have.

Also I haven't uploaded what I've written for my LGBT+ history class, even though I said I would. This will be rectified shortly. (EDIT: Actually, I didn't say that, and I'm not completely sure why I thought I did. So forget that last bit.)

3. Classes have been going well, though--been getting A's and high B's. I am, by far, one of the most active student in both World Civilization II and Lesbian and Gay History discussions. And no one really seems to mind. So... moderately confident that I will continue to do well.

4. Been working on various projects. I would say that I will have the Werelist Census of 2013 done soon, but I've been saying that to myself for a few months and there's still that last bit, because I am a lazy bum.

5. I am also working on a campaign setting, with the current area being Australia. It's basically using Earth's map and biosphere--I'm using (with permission, of course) the concept presented here and running with it to create a campaign world. Seven elements, seven orbs, seven planets.

The PCs in the campaign I'm running are going to go to each continent... Australia is their starting place, and associated with the Inferno (elemental plane of fire). Next, I think, will be Asia. The acitan (albeit a tweaked and improved version) will make a major appearance in Africa, and they're already mentioned as having been involved in one of the five apocalypse events the Harbringer of the Apocalypse (a very driven, very forceful celestial) was involved with.

Oh, and did I mention that the Harbringer of the Apocalypse lost one a thousand years ago that ended in severe global climatic disruptions? Yeah, it's that kind of setting... except you don't have to sit down and take it.
citrakayah: (Default)
Back at college, and, rather ironically, that is actually less of a workload for me. Due to various factors beyond my complete control,I was unable to complete the architectural log that was due in ARC 121, so the teacher talked me into accepting an extension. I was reluctant at first because it went against my personal sense of honor, but when it's such a significant grade... well, it's easy to cave. When I have the architecture log back, I'll upload the drawings, and when it's done being graded I'll upload what essays I've written. Mostly they consist of my architectural musings on green walls, Vincent Callebaut, and how I disapprove of UAE dick-waving contests that lead to opulent, giant, sprawling cities being built in the middle of the desert to assuage the ego of a powerful ruler.

Aside from that, though, I did very well with my final grades--I got one B and the rest were A's. Naturally, my parents were rather pleased with this development. I predict I won't do as well this semester, though, because I ended up with a 400 level class... and I'm a freshman in my second semester. I mean, I'm moderately confident that I can pass, but still...

Since I had to change which architecture section I was in, I ended up having to drop out of one class, and picked another. The other class I picked was Lesbian and Gay History 4-something-or-other, which, to my surprise, means that (barring failure), I will get a minor in history this semester. Which I'm pretty sure qualifies me more than some middle school teachers I've had. Oddly, Lesbian and Gay History is GLBT+ History. Is there some rule preventing them from using acronyms? If there is, is there also a maximum character length?

Speaking of which, an academic journal on trans* studies (at least, that's what it appears to be from what I've seen) has sent out a call for academic papers. I'd like to try my paw at submitting a paper, but I really don't have the expertise, qualifications, or knowledge of the jargon--so I'd end up looking like an idiot. Beyond that, I'm not completely clear on where they're going with their idea. There's very little data, so I would be limited to finding essays that explored the concept, of which there are not many.

But hey, if someone else was planning (or is planning after reading the call) to submit a paper, I look forward to seeing it.

The Pathfinder campaign I'm running is going rather well; I've started detailing some ideas for a more exhaustive setting--with major countries, political structures, et cetera--but it helps that I've already got some information--for instance, information on a bunch of Elemental Planes--already written. And I'll probably custom-build some monsters and races. *rubs hands together* I have some very... devious... ideas.

Should be able to get many of my projects--like the Werelist Poll of 2013, a few sections of the Pokemon fanfiction, et cetera--done soon, since my workload is fairly light, at least for now. And you guys should see more of me around; I haven't commented on various people's journals (or on the Werelist) as much as I'd have liked to.

I'm also going to try to be more social IRL, which I hope ends well.

Oh, and I was beating the highest ELO debater on Debate.Org in a tournament debate, but then mysteriously five heavily conservative judges show up within five hours of each other, one of which acknowledged being contacted by my opponent and abstained because the first paragraph of my opponent's argument made him facepalm. So now I'm losing by nine points.
citrakayah: (Default)
Motionless Claws: What the Cheetah Is, and How It Relates to My Psychology

If one were to distill the essence of the cheetah down into one word, I think it would be this: Running. The cheetah does not only run towards its food, it runs away from danger. Significant morphological changes have developed in cheetahs over the eons, for one overriding purpose: Speed. The changes are not just external; they reshaped the very internal organs and skeleton making up a cheetah.

I freely admit that I am no champion sprinter. I can run well enough to remain a reasonable distance behind a terrified wild rabbit for maybe five seconds, and can put on a burst of speed when necessary. I haven’t timed my maximum speed, but I don’t believe I would be able to hold it for long; it’s a simple fact of my physiology that I am not built for long-distance running like some people are. I suppose I could train to make myself like that, but I don’t bother.

But, ultimately, cheetahs are not built for speed so they can run around chasing their own tails. They’re built for speed so that they can catch prey and survive. Oh, I’m as playful as any other cat; I enjoy play-fighting (both cat-style and human-style), batting at objects that move in a manner I find enticing enough while ignoring them at all other opportunities, and navigating complex obstacle courses like a steep pile of boulders. I just don’t feel any desire to go sprinting on a treadmill. But neither does a cheetah, I would suspect. Cheetahs can die from overexertion; they lack the ability to deal with heat buildup as effectively as, say, canines and so stop running to avoid overheating. If they do overheat, the proteins in the brains can denature1, and that’s very very bad.

If a cheetah did not need to run to catch its food, I think that the cheetah would be a relatively slow one.

The fact that I don’t train is a definite spanner in the works of some of the only real athletic fun I can get for much of the year. Chasing rabbits, pigeons, and squirrels is fun. I greatly enjoy it, and if you’ve seen some of those spoiled suburban squirrels, then you’ve probably noticed that they could use the exercise. I am the squirrel and rabbit Weight Watcher program. Zipping after them is practically second nature. I never catch them, naturally. I’m not sure what I would do if I did catch one. The once time I was close I ended up purposely trying not to get to close in case the squirrel in question bit me. I’m sure that the mighty hunter of the savannah shouldn’t be afraid of a stupid squirrel, but rodent bites hurt.

I don’t have much of a drive to kill things. I do have a drive to chase things. Mostly those are the aforementioned rabbits and squirrels, but on the few occasions when I’ve been close to gazelles and impala, I’ve found that they make appealing targets2. I won’t kill for ethical reasons, but that doesn’t mean that some part of me doesn’t long to. I certainly do. I just choose not to act on it.

Cheetahs are rather unusual in their social structure as well. They are one of the relatively few mammal species to have a coalition-type social structure. Among carnivores it is even more unusual: an estimated 85-90% of carnivore species will not gather together except to mate. Cheetahs, however, will gather together in tight-knit groups of up to twelve.

The exact reasons male cheetahs form coalitions is up to some debate—theories include better success hunting, reproductive benefits, and the simple fact that survival is easier against nomadic males when there are three of you and one of him. Whatever the cause, it is probably due to many factors rather than a single factor, but reproductive benefits (which are pretty closely tied to defending territory3) seem to have the most empirical support. I have no urges going that way (though I truthfully don’t know if male cheetahs do have instinctual or conscious urges to seek companions for the purpose of gaining reproductive benefits). No, the part where I and the cheetah share traits is in the social dynamics of a coalition.

Cheetahs in coalitions are incredibly close. They spend over 90% of their time within visual sight of each other, are usually less than one meter away from each other during the midday rest period, and exhibit distress when separated. Obviously, such level of closeness isn’t possible in human society. Humans have work, they have to do errands, and other things intervene. But while I’m asocial towards most people, I do idealize living in a group with other people, my chosen family. Oh, I love my biological family, but the bond doesn’t seem to be quite as intense4.

And I want to stay in contact with my chosen family. Regular contact through the Internet works—I can know how they’re doing, if they’re in pain, and talk to them—but that doesn’t make me stop wanting real life contact. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to cohabitate, to spend time with them. For a cheetah, my chosen family is a rather large group, but not entirely unheard of (some cheetahs have been seen in coalitions of twelve), and many of the reasons cheetahs can’t gather in such numbers, like low food concentrations, don’t apply to me.

There’s also the human part of me to consider there.

I am human and cheetah. Not—and never—one or the other. As far as I am concerned, they have fused to create something else.



1. Denaturing, for those who do not know, is the process of a protein taking a different shape than it normally has under certain conditions, and then not resuming its old shape when those conditions expire.
2. Since I’ve only seen them in zoos, I obviously haven’t gone after them.
3. Male cheetahs defend only a portion of a female’s range. A male cheetah with better territory thus has access to more females to mate with.
4. It should be noted that most (70.6%) cheetah coalition are formed of siblings. There are a variety of potential explanations for the difference. The one that, upon reflection, seems the most likely is that many of the people who are my close friends and chosen family I identify with on a greater level. Since (this is my own speculation, but it’s not much of a stretch) cheetah coalitions are formed of siblings in order to promote their own genes rather than that of a cheetah who is not related, it might be said that, in a sense, the difference is not an impassable gap, though I will admit that the metaphorical bridge is not the sturdiest of structures.




Excised:

Since feline phylogenetics are not a stable field, it’s difficult to identify where exactly cheetahs branched off, and when, but usually the applicable term is ‘early’, and in the older work I used when writing this essay1, the geological time period that is the earliest bound given is the Miocene, and the author says that cheetahs were probably a distinct species before members of the genus Panthera. An old cat, to be sure2.

1. The work in question is Cheetah Under the Sun by Nan Wrogemann, and was published in 1975. Judging from the book’s contents it was intended for a more general audience than Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species by T. M. Caro, which is far more expansive and up-to-date.
2. In the interests of accuracy, objectivity, truth, and spoiling evocative romantic imagery, I must admit that more recent reconstructions of cat cladistics have cats starting to branch out at about five million years ago.



Not quite done, but getting there. Thoughts?
citrakayah: (Default)
I haven’t included questions that I consider specious. What I consider specious is saying ‘that’s impossible’ without a reason why, or saying ‘you’re all delusional idiots’ without a reason why. If you want to see those refuted, look up ‘list of logical fallacies’ or ‘knee-jerk reactions’ and scroll down until you found whichever one you used.


General Questions

Q: What’s therianthropy?
A: Therianthropy is the condition (not in a medical or psychological sense, in the ‘constant state of being’ sense) of identifying on some level as a non-human animal known to science. The reasons for the identification vary wildly. In my case, it’s because the behaviors and urges of a cheetah feel utterly natural and right to me, even though I’m not yanked around on a psychological chain to fulfill them—but I know others who are yanked around like that. Identifying with a non-human animal isn’t enough; someone with a totem animal or who identifies with an animal archetype like that in legend is not a therianthrope (often shorted to therian).

Aside from that, you really aren’t going to get a universally agreed on definition of therianthropy. Hell, not everybody agrees on that definition, though most therians I know agree that it’s at least a fairly accurate descriptor. Since there’s no official dictionary definition of the word ‘therian’, and no medical consensus either, arguing the definition is rather pointless. While it’s safe to assume that that definition holds true for most, it won’t for all. When in doubt, ask.

Because a lot of therians will go on at length about what therianthropy is to them. Or have pages written about it already.

Q: What are otherkin?
A: Otherkin are similar to therians (and, depending to who you ask, are basically a larger group—from a mental and philosophical perspective, not a historical one—to whom therians belong to), but they identify as a non-existent species, usually one with spaience comparable to humans. Their experiences seem to focus more on remembered cultures (whether the cultures are actually remembered is, of course, a matter of opinion), as well as relatively alien thought processes. And when I say ‘alien’ I mean ‘right there in the uncanny valley of thought processes’. Of course, I don’t have much of an uncanny valley for thought processes, I’m trying to put my perspective more in line with that of an average human.

Not all otherkin have biological kintypes. Some have mechanical ones, and some have ones that are spirits or somehow not of any type of material origin we have here on Earth.

Q: What are fictionkin?
A: Otherkin whose kintype takes after a fictional species. They are frequently (and rather unfairly) maligned, which has a certain irony to it given that myth is a sort of fiction, and that if one takes a psychological approach to therianthropy and otherkin there’s no particular reason why they can’t exist.

Of course, many otherkin/therians don’t take a psychological perspective to the matter, which is in my opinion a bad thing if and only if they refuse to consider the possibility of a psychological perspective. The otherkin/therians that do not believe in the existence of a psychological perspective usually either do not believe in fictionkin or believe in a varient of the many-worlds theory which states that every imagined universe exists as a separate universe; ergo somewhere there are orcs running around. According to this theory souls can migrate between univerii, so it’s perfectly possible for the soul of an orc to end up in a human body. While I don’t believe in this concept, I certainly can’t disprove it, and have better things to do than to run around telling everybody who believes in something unproveable that they are incorrect. What would be the point?

Also, I shudder to think of the implications of there being a Cthluhu-universe, of a Warhammer 40k-universe.

Or a Twilight-universe.

Q: Do any fictionkin identify as specific characters from fiction?
A: I know for sure of only two who do; they’ll remain anonymous unless they specifically say I can mention them by name. Both a members of multiple systems… for one (who doesn’t quite fit with my generalized answer) the system is a clearly defined one with headmates, and the other one is in a median system.

As I generally understand it, specific-character fictionkin find the fact that they identify as a specific character a mildly uncomfortable one. Given Rule 34 (if it exists, there is porn of it), and the fact that the creators of a character are free to do all sorts of horrible things to that character, and very likely will, and the sheer ‘weirding-out’ factor I imagine is somewhat inherent in finding this character from fiction that has so many obvious similarities that you just can’t ignore them, I find this more than understandable.

They aren’t carbon copies of the characters, mind. Otherkin and therianthropes aren’t carbon-copies of their types either, thus the same applies to fictionkin. I am not going to be urinating on playtrees anytime soon, thank you very much, and I am and always will be a vegetarian. Like us, though, specific-character fictionkin find the similarities too obvious to ignore or hand-wave away.

You can, as always, argue cause until heat death sets in and elementary particles are the only thing floating around. No amount of arguing, however, will change the fact that these people do exist, which makes the controversy that sometimes surrounds them rather absurd.

Q: Do therians and otherkin have any unifying religious/spiritual beliefs?
A: No. I myself am an atheist who seems to lack the capacity to believe in the supernatural. I know of many other atheistic therians and otherkin, including those who don’t believe in anything supernatural.

Among those who do believe in the supernatural, religion varies wildly. I know a Catholic therian, a fire worshipping feline, a bunch of neopagans, several Jews, and one or two Muslim therians. I’d estimate maybe ~60% pagan/neopagan, ~20% atheist/agnostic, and ~20% Judeo-Christian.

Relatively few are social conservatives, though, in my experience. In part this is probably because I spend most of my time on the Werelist, where the helpstaff is mainly non-heterosexual, transgender, or both.

Q: Why?
A: No one has any idea why we’re the way we are—or, at least, no one has any idea that isn’t simply speculation. Hypothesises range from imprinting to reincarnation to something related to autism. But ultimately, we don’t know. We may never know in our lifetimes, though I expect that won’t be the case. But even if we do know for some, we probably won’t know for all, and in a similar vein we can’t disprove the non-empirical explanations. We can prove that they aren’t necessary, but we can’t prove they aren’t true.

And if someone says they do know, absolutely know, and say that you should believe them, they are badly mistaken. Some individuals do hold bizarre creedal notions, where one has to have X metaphysical quality to be a therian or otherkin. I have never seen such individuals offer a shred of logic or reasoning behind this dogmatic exclusionary policy—and I expect that their reasoning is mostly circular.

On Theriotype/Kintype

Q: Many animals have similar behaviors. How does one differentiate between similar species?
A: The default answer is rather simple—one doesn’t. There are cladotherians (therians whose theriotype is a clade), and when you get into theriotypes such as ‘moth’… I’ve never seen someone say ‘moth’ and then say ‘Madagascan sunset moth’.

I attribute it to a rather simple fact: Some clades have more obvious behavioral diversity than others. For example, coyotes have different behaviors than wolves, which have different behaviors than dogs, which have different behaviors than maned wolves. But if one examines weevil species, scientists have to use their genitalia to tell them apart (and still can’t agree). A layperson is not going to be able to tell the difference behaviorally, or even accounting for phantom limbs, between two similar species of weevil.

Q: Why are most therians wolves? Wouldn’t this indicate some sort of wish-fulfillment?
A: This is actually two questions, and I’ll answer each in turn.

Firstly, we don’t know that there are actually more wolves (and the surveys I’ve seen done on the Werelist don’t indicate ‘most’ therians being wolves; about as many are felines of some sort, and there are a bunch of oddballs including dolphins, otters, a salamander, a sea slug, fruit bats, various assorted canines, a thylacine, and avians). We just know that there are more in the online communities we have access to; I highly suspect that the actual number of therians is far higher than the number of online therians, and has a more even distribution of species. The first part is fairly uncontroversial; while [I recall Laycock estimating the size of the community at about a few thousand], most therians/otherkin speak English, simply because the communities were started by English speakers. Who knows how many therians/otherkin there are that speak Chinese, Swahili, Arabic, Russian, or even Spanish? Most therians and otherkin would agree that one doesn’t have to know the term therian or otherkin to be a therian or otherkin.

Hell, they could even have parallel communities.

It’s also important to remember that wolves are fairly social beings. They may simply have a greater urge to be with those like them than some other theriotypes. Another possibility is that wolves are closer to humans in behavior, so it takes less of a deviation from the norm to be a wolf therian (this also works from the point of view of identity). And, of course, therianthropy is subjective to a small degree just like species is. Moreso, in fact, because there are even fewer perfect little species boundaries for behavior and human concepts than there are for DNA and anatomy. Sometimes it's distinct enough to draw a definitive conclusion, sometimes it isn't. Those it isn't very exact for often refer to themselves as cladotherians.

Second... which came first, the chicken or the egg? Who's to say that the reason a wolf therian was so obsessed with wolves wasn't because, after all, they identified with them and shared some of their behavioral traits?

Q: Could therians have been influenced by pets?
A: Quite possibly. I myself have lived with cats my entire life, and I’m a cheetah therian. But this can’t completely explain therianthropy; I’ve met dolphin therians and I’m unaware of anyone who has pet dolphins. For that matter, cheetahs are noticeably different in behavior than domestic cats—for example, in prey selection and social structure. So something else is clearly going on. Doesn’t mean we aren’t influenced by pets, just means it isn’t the only thing making us therians.

Q: Do therians/otherkin want to alter their bodies?
A: Depends. I don’t particularly (though I wouldn’t mind having retractable claws), but some do, because they have some sort of body dysmorphia (and this comparison isn’t just made by me, it’s made by people who have gender dysmorphia), so they would see a value in altering their morphology. Obviously they wouldn’t be able to go all the way in all cases (for example, there’s really no way a sea slug therian is going to be able to shrink their body down to the size of a sea slug), and different therians/otherkin would have different levels of desire to change their body. Many have no urge to alter their body.

Since there’s no good rational reason not to allow this, and a clear benefit to be gained by allowing it, the rational thing is to allow it. The only arguments I’ve seen against morphological freedom are appeals to emotion and/or tradition, the belief that it is immoral to change one’s body once one has gotten it, and the belief that we would all turn into the Borg or Cthulhu if we allowed it. None of those I consider convincing. Obviously it would have to be a regulated field; that doesn’t mean it should be outright banned.

Q: To what extent do therians/otherkin act out their urges?
A: Depends. Even for a given therian/otherkin, level of control can vary—mine is much lower when I’m in pain (thankfully I don’t find most static electricity all that painful), or irritated, or exhausted. It also depends on personal preference and the surrounding environment. When we’re alone, or with those who understand and accept us for our therianthropy/otherkin-ness, we can let it out more. Because if I acted out my feline urges in public, I would most likely be ostracized and have little men in white lab coats show up.

That may change, eventually, and given that I refuse on ideological grounds to defend society’s norms if they don’t make rational sense, I would be quite delighted to see such a change. And the norms of society often do not make rational sense; a restriction on therianthropic/otherkin behavior is (in the vast majority of cases) simply unjustified in a rational argument, and lies on appeal to tradition and appeal to emotion. Both of these things are lousy arguments, each of which can be used to defend actions that a rational person would consider horrific.

My view isn’t universally popular, of course.

Q: Why do therians/otherkin remain in the shadows?
A: Two primary reasons, ignoring that many therian and otherkin symbols would only be obvious to people with prior knowledge.

First, because almost every single time we’ve ever tried to make ourselves more popularly known, or even allowed it to happen, it comes back to tweak our tail in some way. Most of this can firmly be blamed on the media sensationalizing us; they are relentless, and I know of people who truthfully decided that it would be best to strategically give in to the assholes. Our forums have repeatedly been stalked by ZigZag (after being told to buzz off multiple times), some idiots who were going to put us in the same category as BDSM practitioners for shock value, and various other individuals trying to interview us. Most of the time we’ve been able to at least mitigate the damage.

Second, because a lot of people actually do hate us. Given human predilections for going after that which is perceived as deviant, it really isn’t that much of a stretch to say that being outed as a therian (especially if one took a spiritual/religious view of it) would really suck. The experiences of some minors when their (fundamentalist Christian) parents found out tends to back this idea, as have the experiences of a few others who were outed to larger groups.

Eventually this may no longer be the case. I hope it is fairly soon.

On Science

Q: Can therianthropy/otherkin be disproven?
A: Sort of.

It’s easy enough to disprove the notion that humans can have behaviors of other species that aren’t normally human behaviors, at least on a conceptual level. It isn’t going to happen, because it’s a completely ridiculous notion (taking into account everything we know about human psychology), but it could be done on a conceptual level. In a similar vein, you could show that therians/otherkin are externally the same as the general populace. But I don’t expect that to happen either.

It’s impossible, on the other hand, at least with current technology, to reach into someone’s brain and tell them that they aren’t experiencing things that they think they are (and that gets into the question of to what extent believing one is experiencing something can make one experience it—placebo effect and all). And matters of identity aren’t really things you can disprove with current technology either.

Q: Can therianthropy make predictions about ethology?
A: No. If therianthropy is due to psychological/neurological reasons, there’s fairly little reason for accurate predictions to be able to be made regarding ethology—there’s no mechanism ‘transplanting’ behaviors from animals to humans.

If therianthropy was due to spiritual reasons, even leaving aside the innately non-scientific nature of it, therians are not carbon-copies of their theriotypes. There would, I imagine, be blending, and telling which behaviors were the product of blending would require technology that bordered into magitech.

In the event that this was proven to be incorrect, then therianthropy would even stranger than it already is. And it is very strange.

Q: What if therianthropy/otherkin had differing causes, even among themselves?
A: So?

It doesn’t matter. What unites us isn’t that we have a certain mutation, that we imprinted on a different species, or any of the other hypothesises of how we came to be. What unites us is a set of common underlying experiences. That’s what’s important. My peers—I don’t care how they came to be what they are. What matters is that they are now.

If a group of people had experiences that were basically the same as Asberger’s syndrome (or any of various other neurological/psychological conditions like syntheasia, dissociation, antisocial personality disorder, PTSD, et cetera), but had n different fundamental causes, they’d be unlikely, in my opinion, to arbitrarily separate themselves into n different communities based on the fundamental cause. There wouldn’t be much point—they’d almost certainly have to cope with the same problems in everyday life, the same unique experiences that give them a unique outlook, et cetera.

On The Community

Q: Is it just me, or are most therians non-gender conforming, non-heterosexual, or both?
A: While I haven’t seen formal studies, I highly suspect it is not just you. A substantial minority are transgender, far more than the percentage you’d normally expect. Same with bisexual, homosexual, asexual, pansexual, et cetera therians.

Why these unusual numbers? Well, it does seem to me to back the views of some therians that it’s related to some sort of abnormal ‘mental wiring’; the number of therians that are transgender would seem to further this notion. As far as sexual orientation… that is difficult to say. It may be that sexual orientation is somehow influenced by therianthropy—most animals aren’t exclusively heterosexual.

Q: Why do so many therians write essays?
A: Can’t know for sure, but I think a variety of factors are at play here. Before getting into details, though, it’s important to recognize that not everybody does. I know many who haven’t; they simply haven’t felt any particular need to. That aside, it does seem like an unusual number do, even accounting for those (like me) who write a large amount of material.

First, as I mentioned in the first question, not all therians mean the same thing when they’re talking about therianthropy. I don’t mean the same thing as many other people I know. In part that’s because our explanations differ, but it’s also because our experiences differ. Take me, for instance. I have ironclad control over most of my behaviors. I have free will, and could theoretically choose to never express a therianthropic behavior again (with perhaps the exception of snarling when in pain). Now, this would suck. Cheetah behaviors feel right and natural to me; doing them makes me feel happy and fulfilled, and I have an urge to do some of them. Don’t know why, but I do. And I have the same amount of control over pretty much everything. Even some of my emotions.

Other therians don’t have the same control I do. So if we’re going to understand each other, we need to explain how our therianthropy expresses itself, and how we and it interact. Knowledge breeds understanding, at least in this instance. It also breeds peace and tranquility; how many arguments could be avoided if both parties truly understood what the other one was saying?

Second, it may well be a cultural norm. Most therian websites include such personal essays, and I know of many forums that have places set aside for posting them. And many of the more prominent therians and otherkin in the online community have written personal essays of some sort; one might consider it some sort of tradition. In part that tradition is probably due to the fact that at various times, various ideas have not been well-received in the therian/otherkin communities, so they provide a sort of ‘record’ of people who are no longer around and actively participating in discussions as frequently as some of the rest of us.

At the same time, as Akhila pointed out when I brought up this point, it can’t only be a case of a social reward. Over the years, various members of the therian community have become socially withdrawn from the main social groups (the Werelist, Wulf Howl, Therianthropy.org, the Weresource, et cetera), and continue to write essays. Nor is there a punishment; most therianthropes don’t write personal essays, and there is no shame or loss of face associated with not having written them.

[. . .] it is more of an internet widespread practice. Like other subcultures, we do like to keep records of our own history, tracks of what has happened or has been said. Moreover, there is a specific motivation to develop resources for self-help (hence the large number of FAQ and other guides). This is because we have specific needs that are unmet in the outside world (like, finding peers). And lastly, there may be a minority of individuals who want to establish themselves as important voices in the community (gain of social status). From what I’ve seen for the past decade, I think these are the main reasons for the establishment of personal websites in the therian community.


-- Akhila (used with permission)

Objections

Q: Aren’t you delusional?
A: A delusion is a perception that is demonstratively wrong. While a very, very few therians/otherkin hold to genetic causes for their status as such, the vast majority either hold to psychological or untestable spiritual hypothesises. For the most part, the psychological hypothesises given boil down to ‘we’re weird’.

So, to answer this with a question: Can you demonstrate that I am not weird in the way I have described (If you immediately were thinking ‘he has the burden of proof’, see below.)? If not, I suggest you come up with another argument. If so, I eagerly await your explanation of how you are, from an Internet connection, able to psychoanalyze me, what your qualifications for doing so are, and what color shirt I am wearing.

Q: But you don’t have any proof…
A: Not in the scientific sense, no. But we aren’t asking for you to believe us so much as not harass us. There is a difference. I don’t particularly care what you think. I do care what you do, and what you say. No, we can’t prove scientifically that we exist, yet. No one’s done a survey of therians and otherkin and shown that we behave in the ways we say. But it isn’t that much of a stretch to say it’s possible (given that there are people who behave like animals and not at all like humans known as clinical lycanthropes, it’s fairly reasonable to say that perhaps there are people who behave in the way we do), and so we ask for your courtesy.

It really isn’t that much to ask you not to insult us.

Q: But you’re dangerous to young people!
A: That isn’t a question. That’s an exclamatory sentence.

Q: But you’re dangerous to young people, right?
A: The general philosophy behind this question, near as I’ve been able to determine, is that therians/otherkin are basically engaged in some sort of fantasy delusion world, and also will give people bad advice. Let’s deal with each in turn.

Firstly, this is not a ‘fantasy’. We are saying that we are odd. Some individuals have complicated explanations for why we are odd, but these for the most part follow their own logic, aren’t known to be blatantly false, and also don’t wreck the lives of the people who believe them, so I don’t care. I have no reason to; I only care when they start arguing that other people should believe as they do, or when I find their explanations interesting enough. I see little reason anyone else should, unless they believe that any irrationality is bad, period.

Second, the episodes of bad advice. Yes, it sometimes happens. Someone in the therian/otherkin communities gives someone really fucking stupid advice. This also happens in literally every other subgroup of people, except the subgroup called ‘people who don’t give other people really fucking stupid advice, ever’, which is a ridiculously small group. We try to police our own, and make sure people don’t get away with telling vulnerable individuals to do bad things, just like every other community. I am also unaware of any actual evidence that the problem of bad advice is more widespread in the therian/otherkin communities than in any other community.

Q: What about all the ex-therians/otherkin?
A: When I’ve heard about these individuals, they were usually harassed until they renounced their identity; I recall one individual saying something along the lines that she knew someone who was ‘quite rightly’ harassed for their identity as otherkin until they renounced it. There’s a reasonable conclusion here, and it’s not that therians/otherkin are somehow ‘faking it’ (where, I must iterate again, ‘it’ is ‘being odd’), it’s that a few individuals were bullied to the point where they only felt safe by renouncing their identity.

Even if they are genuine, given something as diverse as therianthropy/otherkin, I don’t doubt that there’s more than one cause. Perhaps they were able to somehow train themselves out of therianthropic/otherkin behaviors (and it would be training—you don’t magically snap your fingers and eliminate behavioral trends), and somehow eliminate therianthropic/otherkin urges. Doesn’t mean all of us can—and given that rearranging your mind can be expected to have nasty side-effects, at least for a time, besides being a great amount of trouble, I see little point in doing so.

All the ex-therians/ex-otherkin I’ve seen are either claimed and not actually shown to exist or people both illogically and rudely ‘suggesting’ (i.e. irritating anyone who won’t block them) that because they turned out to be wrong, all of us are wrong as a result. Same thing with ex-multiples. Whether these individuals are aware that not only are they not the center of the universe, but that the idea of ‘prove one person wrong about them having it, prove everybody wrong about having it’ would result in cancer, hemophilia, autism, Asberger’s syndrome, the common cold, antisocial personality disorder, obesity, and every sexual orientation (ever) not existing.

Generally these people seem to suggest that science and/or religion says that therianthropy/otherkin is impossible… despite the fact that I’m unaware of any compelling arguments in regards to science, and my response to the religious angle is the same as my response to any religious individual trying to force it on others.

I also like to note that there are therian scientists and (local) religious leaders. While this doesn’t by itself prove anything, it certainly does suggest that these individuals found no contradiction between therianthropy and science or religion, respectively. I’m aware, of course, of the ability of humans to hold two opinions on a matter at once (as well as the fact that this is borderline appeal to authority), but consider the fact relevant enough to mention nonetheless.
citrakayah: (Default)
Definition of therianthropy fixed… I hope.

Q: What’s therianthropy?
A: Therianthropy is the condition (not in a medical or psychological sense, in the ‘constant state of being’ sense) of identifying on some level as a non-human animal. The reasons for the identification vary wildly. In my case, it’s because the behaviors and urges of a cheetah feel utterly natural and right to me, even though I’m not yanked around on a psychological chain to fulfill them—but I know others who are yanked around like that.

Aside from that, you really aren’t going to get a universally agreed on definition of therianthropy. Hell, not everybody agrees on that definition, though most therians I know agree that it’s at least a fairly accurate descriptor. Since there’s no official dictionary definition of the word ‘therian’, and no medical consensus either, arguing the definition is rather pointless. While it’s safe to assume that that definition holds true for most, it won’t for all. When in doubt, ask.

Because a lot of therians will go on at length about what therianthropy is to them. Or have pages written about it already.

Q: What are otherkin?
A: Otherkin are similar to therians (and, depending to who you ask, are basically a larger group—from a mental and philosophical perspective, not a historical one—to whom therians belong to), but they identify as a non-existent species, usually one with sapience comparable to humans. Their experiences seem to focus more on remembered cultures (whether the cultures are actually remembered is, of course, a matter of opinion), as well as relatively alien thought processes. And when I say ‘alien’ I mean ‘right there in the uncanny valley of thought processes’. Of course, I don’t have much of an uncanny valley for thought processes, I’m trying to put my perspective more in line with that of an average human.

Not all otherkin have biological kintypes. Some have mechanical ones, and some have ones that are spirits or somehow not of any type of material origin we have here on Earth.


Allati, I need your input on this.

Q: Do any fictionkin identify as specific characters from fiction?
A: I know for sure of only one who does; they’ll remain anonymous unless they specifically say I can mention them by name. They’re also a member of a multiple system and find the fact that they’re so like this character from fiction incredibly disturbing; I’ve heard other fictionkin who didn’t identify as a specific character echo this thought. Nor are they a carbon-copy of the character; they just find the similarities too obvious—and unnerving—to ignore.


Naturally, if anyone has any suggestions for topics I should bring up in the Q&A, or wants to contribute something, I’m open. This shouldn’t just be my view of everything.


I wrote some new poetry.

I walk alone.
A figure in the baking desert,
Distorted by heat.
Staring straight ahead,
I am on a solitary trek.
Sun beats down from overhead,
Making cracks in the landscape of my mind.
And making my eyes water
Despite my tearmarks.

I know not how long I have walked,
Nor my destination,
Or even my origin.
Only the journey can be known.
Pawprints stretch back for miles,
Distinct despite the hard ground.
But still, they seem to waver,
And even if I wanted to,
I could not retrace my steps.

Where am I?
Where have I been?
What am I?
What was I?
What am I becoming?
Do I even move?
Or does the world itself shift around me?
Am I going in circles?
Am I even going anywhere?

As I walk, I change.
Protrusions form, dark vast spiky things,
Then vanish into dust blown by a phantom wind.
Metal and gears shimmer across my body,
Finally disappearing into heat mirage.
My very self fades,
Then blazes like a supernova.
And then it fades again.
My essence warps.



Currently working on an art trade with Kisota. She does a reference sheet of Plant Cheetah, and I do a story featuring SOLAR KISOOOO. Aside from that, I’m working on Dunes of the Variforms (my science fiction book), several stories for the Wanderer’s Library (one involving Robert Griffon, the Man With A Tertiary Neuron Cluster In His Armpit; one involving the Albania Incident; and a few files involving Legacy, the anomalous wildlife sanctuary)—for those who don’t know, that’s a spin-off of the SCP Foundation.
citrakayah: (Default)
What do people think of this?




I haven’t included questions that I consider specious. What I consider specious is saying ‘that’s impossible’ without a reason why, or saying ‘you’re all delusional idiots’ without a reason why. You want to see those refuted, look up ‘list of logical fallacies’ and scroll down until you found whichever one you used.


General Questions )

On Theriotype/Kintype )

On Science )

On the Community )
citrakayah: (Default)
GSA bake sale is over. Raised… I don’t know how much, actually. I myself am responsible for raising at least $24 for the local GSA through the sale of my pumpkin walnut chocolate-chip cookies. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the lemon poppyseed cookies to school until yesterday.


Made some more glass beads, and there is the possibility of me being able to borrow a dual-fuel torch in town. Finally! I’ll be able to work in a reducing flame. Essential for many of the most fascinating aspects of glass. I also accidentally developed a ‘new’ technique. Take vermiculite beads and dip the bead in while it’s still hot, then later remove the vermiculite beads. You’ve got a pitted surface, which looks stunning on a transparent or clear glass.


Kind of disappointed in the lack of obvious recent activity surrounding the therian commune project on the Werelist. I am, frankly, halfway tempted to talk to Savage about starting a subforum in the Planning subforum of the Gatherings forum. I know it would always be a long way away, but I still feel like a lot of planning could be done even years ahead of time. I also sort of want to make a checklist or something. Because I want to make this idea a reality; I was thinking about it back in… around 2009, I think, when I was swapping emails with a now-departed Swedish wolf therian on a regular basis. Many of my ideas were harebrained, but some weren’t. Mostly we talked about income sources, since the idea was that it would be a separate community, and one of the main ideas mentioned was art—because so many of us are artists of some stripe. While the commune that seems most likely to form in the Northwest seems unlikely to be separate, some sort of… socialized income reservoir for either emergency help for members or group projects would be useful. I was thinking of wording it like this.

I was thinking recently about income and group projects. And I was thinking, what about some sort of centralized system where there’s a central community fund, to be used for things that benefit the entire community or for emergency aid (like if someone’s house burns down). It would be maintained by selling things like community-owned vegetables and fruits (like in the greenhouse), or maybe also some sort of arrangement, since many of us are artists of some sort, where you could use community-owned materials to produce an art piece, and then when it sold the central fund would take a cut to go back to buying things for the commons. Entirely voluntary, of course.

What does everybody think?


In other therianthropy-related stuff, I am currently working on what I’m calling “A Skeptic’s Guide to Therianthropy and Otherkin.” It’s written at people who are skeptics but aren’t assholes who go around saying ‘hur hur your insane’ without providing valid reasons. To them I have a clause at the introduction that says something along the lines of, “Look up the term ‘fallacy’.”


I would like, again, to take the opportunity to pimp Boston By Night, say you all should join, and promise cookies.
citrakayah: (Default)
I think that sociability corresponds to my fast/slow cycles. They aren’t manic/depressive, quite… I can be manic while being depressed, and can be happy, or as close as I get to it (since I don’t feel much in the way of positive emotions), while being inactive and having relatively little energy. But when I want to get lots of things done, which is generally at dusk, and enter a manic mode, I’m more social. In part that’s goal oriented, but it’s also… I don’t know. I feel loneliness more intently. Maybe in part that’s because my mental defenses are breaking down—dusk is also when I feel more catty and feline, so that explanation seems to have some credence. Sometimes it’s even almost like there’s a sort of phantom body overlaid on my own, curled up with xer tail over xer nose. Sleep deprivation, some would say. Maybe. I’m writing this at 10:32 at night and am hardly in the ideal analytical state. But in any event, it happens, and the end result is the same.

On a totally unrelated note, I’m currently setting up an Etsy shop for me to sell my glass beads. And I think I’ll start selling some prints of some of my artwork.
citrakayah: (Default)
Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species has arrived. Expect to see an essay on cheetah sociodynamics and how they apply to me soon.

And my site's up again!
citrakayah: (Default)
A while ago, I posted only five things, and they were all things that someone should internalize. After having it suggested that I should have some thing that someone should find useful on an external level, I added five more.

Internal:

1. You are under no obligation to justify yourself to them. You are not demanding special recognition, or government research/funding of transspecies surgery, or specialized accommodations that are in the least bit difficult to provide. You asking for respect and to be left alone, and that is a right inherent to every sentient being, and they’d better have a damn good reason before saying that you don’t have that right. They must justify why they think that you, by virtue of being otherkin or therian, do not deserve the rights that must be afforded to all sentients.
2. Don’t be impolite, even if the other person is. First off, nothing is going to get people to sympathize with you against a troll faster than your reaction to the troll being calm and polite. Nor will it get you anywhere with skeptics (for the most part), who couldn’t care less if you’re impolite. I can’t speak for haters, but I can guess that someone who hates us all is going to be delighted to, after a barrage of personal attacks, see one of us retaliate likewise and lower themselves to his or her level.
3. Just because the explanation of how something works is wrong doesn’t mean that the thing is wrong itself. And as something related to that, don’t insist your pet theory (and I suspect that most of us have one) is certain. Unless the rest of us missed a very loud booming voice complete with thunder and lightning or a truly stunning series of scholarly articles that were cross-tested by every psychologist and neurologist in the country, we don’t know. We can suspect, and we can have well-backed, thought-out suspicions. But we don’t have absolute proof that any of our theories on how therianthropy works is the right theory, or, if it is, that it is the only right theory. On a similar note, just because a specific idea of how therianthropy works doesn’t stand up to logic doesn’t mean that therianthropy itself doesn’t.
4. A subjective experience is not somehow scientifically false. This ties into the last point. One can attempt to find cause behind subjective experiences, but one can’t say that they’re false via scientific testing. Not yet, anyway, and possibly not ever.

It doesn’t matter if a homosexual person has the expected finger-length ratios or unusual hormones; it doesn’t matter if a transgendered person’s brain appears the same as a non transgendered person’s. The mind and the brain is too complex to fully understand, and it will probably remain that way, so in regards to such things it is best to assume that pretty much any subjective experience, such as romantic attraction or self-identification, that is in the mind or the brain is real. To do otherwise is not only insulting, it is folly.
5. You are not alone. Many if not most of us have had to deal with the same things you’re dealing with. There are resources for this sort of thing (besides this one, of course), and you can ask for help. Hatred affects the entire therian and otherkin community; as such hatred demands a community response.



External:

1. Know your logical fallacies. This is not only so you can avoid them, it is also so that you can point out each and every single time, in clear detail and as politely as possible, every single fallacy in the argument of your opponent. Fallacies that you will see include argument from ignorance, argument from incredulity, ad hominen, and hasty generalization.

Note that simply saying ‘That is an excellent example of an ad hominen attack and is therefore illogical,’ only works on Vulcan. You will have to go into details, as calmly as possible, about why an ad hominen attack isn’t logical. However, knowing your fallacies does allow you to avoid having to completely reinvent the wheel; there are detailed explanations for why fallacies don’t make any sense and you can easily adapt them, and it is better that you adapt them than simply give them the link, because they probably won’t read it too carefully.
2. Be prepared to cut your losses. You cannot win every argument. You might ‘win’ every argument in the sense that you’ve systematically disproven every point raised by your opponent, and there are a multitude of topics where one position always will win in that sense if said position has the slightest bit of competence. The problem is at the other end, so to speak, because some people, to put it politely, are not consistantly logical thinkers.

You probably have better things to do than get into a pointless argument. Even if you don’t, the longer you continue trying to get someone to think differently while having no effect, the more likely that you will lose your temper and look bad. End the discussion elegantly and it will be they who will come out looking worse, not you. Sometimes this will not feel easy to do, but it may be your only real option.
3. Know your audience. Are they coming from a rationalistic point of view? Religious? Or are they coming from the point of view of a troll? If the latter, I might add, your best bet is to remain calm and uninvolved in the face of personal attacks, or to exit completely.

A rationalist won’t be swayed by the same arguments that you’ll need to give to one arguing from a Biblical perspective. It would actually do your cause a fair deal of harm in many cases if you don’t tailor your argument to your audience. A fundamentalist Christian is not going to be impressed with your detailed analysis of reincarnation and souls, and a rationalist will not be either.
4. Be well read and use your knowledge to your advantage. That doesn’t just apply to therianthropic literature, by the way. It also applies to scientific and philosophical literature--in fact, anything that could be of use. If you don’t know off the top of your head, scan through the appropriate sources and gain at least a rudimentary understanding of it. You might need more if you are arguing with an actual expert who can cite obscure sources that you don’t have access to, but your opponent is almost certainly not an actual expert, merely a layman. This does not, I repeat does not, exempt you from being obligated to understand what you are talking about. If you do not, you are a potential liability to your own argument, and depending on how much arguing you’re doing and how bad it looks, the community. Rather, it means that you do not have to have expert level of knowledge when talking to another layman.
5. Anticipate your opponents’ arguments. Believe me, after you go through an argument a few times, even with radically different people, you can and will develop a sense of what’s coming next and what their counterpoint will be. While this can be... useful... don’t let it happen too much.

Problem is that an argument devolves into a bickering match if each side is only repeating the same thing over and over again. Unless you are a proponent of the ‘bother them until they go away’ method of debate, this is obviously unacceptable, as the status quo does not change. Best case scenario, you’ve got their attention and they won’t harass anyone else. You have become a lightning rod.

So avoid this. Throw them curveballs, arguments they’ve never seen before and never saw coming. Preempt their objections with refutations (though be careful not to state that they will state what you are refuting). Force them to work to oppose you, force them to dig up their own material. Aim for the central point and not just the periphery. Toss them into ontological shock.




Thoughts?
citrakayah: (Default)
I forgot that both my parents had access to JSTOR, and so managed to get the thing printed out and read and reviewed.

Just in advance I’d like to say that I have no experience reviewing scholarly articles and have only a layman’s understanding of sociology. I have no idea of the proper forms to follow in this review if there are any at all, and undoubtedly some of what Laycock says I don’t understand properly. Keep this in mind, as well as my bias. The very thing that enables me to analyze Laycock’s paper for conclusions that may be faulty influences how I see his paper. I can attempt to avoid any knee-jerk reactions, but I can’t guarantee that they won’t bleed through.

---

I expected the worst from Laycock’s article. The abstract was hardly what I would term promising, given that it implied that it thought of us as a religion or being some sort of unusual ‘pseudoreligion’.

Overall, I was mildly pleasantly surprised by Laycock’s paper. While his survey information is biased heavily towards spiritual and metaphysical explanations of therianthropy/otherkin (Laycock refers to both as otherkin, and for the ease of shortness I will as well when talking about the phenomenon), it does not depict us all as insane nutcases. While I would greatly prefer to see any attention at all paid to more scientifically-grounded theories of therianthropy, for a subject that has previously been granted little attention this is a good first step.

Introduction: Laycock argues that contrary to some previous scholarly essays, otherkin are not a religion. To some, we apparently are either a deviant religion or an Internet-arisen spiritual movement. However, Laycock notes that we rather vehemently dispute being called a religion, do not universally claim metaphysical reasons for our identities (this is pretty much the only nod he gives to the point of view I have and to other points of view like it), and do not have the trappings of religion. This is something I feel is both accurate and needed to be said.

Laycock does, however, argue that the otherkin community fulfils two functions identified with religion: our identities serve an existential function and that our identities only provide an effective source of meaning because they are supported by a community. I have no problem with the first and disagree with the second.

Not all otherkin are part of the community. The idea of taking a break from the community is a common one, and the fact that relatively few go back on their identities suggests that while this may be true in some cases, being around otherkin is not necessary for the maintenance of one’s identity as otherkin, even if it makes it easier. Secondly many otherkin have reported knowing what they were without a community, even if they felt lost and adrift and monstrous without the knowledge that someone was like them. While this may be in part due to false memories, I find it extremely unlikely to be entirely or even mostly due to that. So while it might be a rule of thumb, I disagree with the ‘only’ part.

Also, he capitalizes otherkin. This is irritating.

Methodology: I will make no secret of it: I do not like Laycock’s methodology. He relies on two survey sources: the AVA and Lupa. The AVA survey he uses, VEWRS, stands for Vampire and Energy Work Research Study. It is fairly logical to conclude that such people who did not believe in energy working would not take the survey or at least be very less inclined to, and that people who believe in energy working are more likely to attribute therianthropy or otherkin to spiritual or metaphysical causes rather than science-based causes. I have no had the opportunity to read Lupa’s book, and probably will not do so soon, but as I understand it her book focuses on spiritual and metaphysical causes for otherkin, rather than rationalistic ones, and therefore is likely to be skewed. And even if neither survey is skewed (very unlikely) and people like me represent an incredibly small minority, I suspect that we are still larger and certainly not smaller than the people who think that elves existed and interbred with humans and elfkin are their descendants--and this view is mentioned in the article. People with my sort of viewpoint are common enough that we deserve to be explicitly mentioned. I am hardly a fringe viewpoint, and I have heard from those around since the early days of therian culture that people taking my viewpoint are far more open about it and common than before.

The Atlanta Vampire Alliance also helped Laycock make contact with several intellectual leaders (I have no idea what qualifies as an intellectual leader, so if anyone from the AVA would like to enlighten me on what type of person or even give out some names with the permission of those named, that would be appreciated).

Overview and History: I have very little understanding of otherkin history. I’ve gleamed that there were some guys called the Silver Elves way back when and there have been otherkin undertones to various philosophical and spiritual movements in the past, even if they never became very prominent. I have a better understanding of therian history, but even that isn’t great and my best knowledge of it is since 2008 when I joined up with the Werelist. Probably should read the full Otherkin and Therian Timeline at some point and take notes.

Laycock gives a fair overview of the idea of otherkin, and notes that otherkin has two different meanings depending on who one is talking to.

The Substantive Dimension: Laycock flatly rejects the possibility of an organized otherkin religion, noting that for most there’s only a loose relationship, and that scholars seem to consider otherkin a religious phenomenon due to the metaphysical and supernatural claims often invoked to explain identities (once again, the neurological psychological viewpoints are hinted at but not stated). And he says that there’s an excellent argument against us being religious in nature because of our extremely varied nature (and are tolerant of difference), despite the fundamentalist opinions sometimes offered by individual members (he states Sylvere’s position that only those who were reincarnated at one point from a non-human are otherkin).

The Existential Dimension: Laycock uses the VEWRS data to indicate that we feel alienated by modern society in many cases. I have little argument with this and would take it further, arguing that the very anthrocentric nature of modern Western culture naturally alienates those of us who have substantial non-human bits to our identity or behavior. I see parallels between our culture and Beat and hippie culture with our rejection of conformity and our sense of alienation from society.

Laycock also ties otherkin to popular fantasy and science fiction. This is accurate. If you feel marginalized by modern culture it’s fairly likely, I should think, that you would enjoy reading books presenting alternate or hidden univeri, though of course I don’t expect that to be true in all cases.

The Social Dimension: Laycock argues that Wendy Kaminer’s model of ‘the therapeutic milieu’ cannot be applied to otherkin, as otherkin have a strong social drive (of course, not all do, but it’s a fairly acceptable generalization that otherkin and therians aware of their respective communities or the existence of othersmake a point to maintain contact with other otherkin or therians), and otherkin do not suspend skepticism, as we are frequently critical of each other and are not inclined against saying that some of us are insane or delusional.

Laycock argues that we have formed an alternate ordering of the world, which is apparently termed a nomos in his field. To back this he cites the substantial amount of effort put into making ‘types’ of otherkin. From what I understand of what he says, this seems fairly accurate. We may not view the entire world in a radically different way, but our view of identity, at the very least, is radically different.

Secondly, he argues that otherkin have promoted a social order that maintains our identities and that we have also taken steps to maintain this social order, with the creation of symbols, terms, and gatherings. This is certainly accurate. Even if we can maintain our identities without the community, I would be blind not to acknowledge that the community acts as a reinforcement at the very least, and could even augment one’s behaviors or alienation from human society over time given the right conditions.

Thirdly, he argues that our ‘alternate realities’ become less meaningful and less real if they are not supported collectively, because when pressure is put on us because of our identities, when people call us crazy and insult us, it’s far easier to shrug it off if we know that others go through what we go through. Of course it’s possible for an otherkin to maintain their identity without the community, but I’ve heard the horror stories about the sheer malevolence we get, and I’ve lived it. Laycock notes this--he states that we’ve resisted the hegemony of other social realities, and notes the backlash caused by this, seeing examples of young people viciously attacking us with tones ‘rang[ing] from satirical to pathological anger’ and seeing the positive reinforcement received by this videos. We, according to Laycock, are a potential threat to the dominant nomos, and while I don’t personally think we’re much of a social threat, I’m sure that some people would think of us as one, even if they didn’t admit it.

Conclusion: Laycock claims that there is a tendency to see our beliefs as religious because they are deviant.

---

Overall, I see Laycock’s paper as about what one would expect in academia, given the apparently religiously-slanted academic perception of otherkin and the definite religiously-slanted general perception of us, and the fact that his sources were most likely biased towards metaphysical and spiritual beliefs and explanations. While I may find some of his conclusions questionable, I am not a sociologist and he apparently is. My perceptions are going to be colored by my own presence in the community, the fact that I spend most of my time in more scientific-based circles, and the fact that I’m a high school junior trying to review something written by an academic in sociology.

Howlidays

Dec. 25th, 2011 12:32 pm
citrakayah: (Default)
Been a while since I updated.

Seems that over the holidays, quite a few people from the Werelist that I haven’t seen in months have shown up again. Bit of a ‘howliday’, and it’s always nice to see old faces. Don’t know how long all of them will stick around, but still... nice.

Primal Productions appears to be continuing its efforts to sensationalize therians. Naturally, this is rather unacceptable, so I’m drafting a letter to Animal Planet’s ethics department, which is probably the most underfunded department after ‘scientific accuracy’. And it’s probably one dude in a cubicle who spends most of the day playing solitare.

Politics over here have been interesting. The Occupy movement continues. SOPA will probably pass and will probably not break the Internet. NDAA doesn’t get enough Internet attention and, even in the unlikely event that it is constitutional, is flat out wrong. I oppose it just as I do Gitmo, though I understand that as an attachment to a budget bill, it is difficult for politicians to fight.

The holidays are turning out fine. Got a few giftcards and am using them on books- one Clare Bell and two Andre Nortons. I would buy Tomorrow’s Sphinx, but the cheapest copy I could find is a bit less than sixty dollars. And it’s nice to spend more time with the cats and my family. Today we’re making these lovely jelly donuts, which aren’t as fatty as normal donuts.

The algae is hopefully doing well over winter break, and my other projects are in various states of being finished up. I’ll probably revise ‘Therianthropy as a Process’ (for those of you who don’t know, it makes the point that therianthropy doesn’t have to be from a single root cause), finally finish up ‘Voyage to the Deep’ for the Serpent’s Hand, finish uploading the bloody art (not actually bloody in the American sense of the term)... Haven’t been able to spend as much time on things like that recently; I was writing a paper on the link between the counterculture of the 60s and the modern environmental movement, and I do have to read On the Road, but I can always read On the Road on the road.

Kin

Dec. 22nd, 2011 12:57 pm
citrakayah: (Default)
This is a rough draft of an essay on the connection between myself and the cats, and how I feel that relates to therianthropy. I'll probably revise this, but I'll post it here to see what people think and to start conversation if people are so inclined.

Essay )
citrakayah: (Default)
As I’m writing this, I am totally psyched out. Not only is it night- and I’m always psyched at night- I have just finished reading a bit about the Beat Generation. To those of you who know me very well: My reaction is exactly what you think it is. To those who don’t: Intense feeling of solidarity, inspiration, vigoration, and desire for emulation. Some of my writing, I suppose, already takes after some elements of beat literature.

Of course, my poetry isn’t as good. But I think that as I learn more about the Beats they’ll become a definite influence on my work. Just reading even the bit I already have makes my writing instincts itch.

Which brings me to another point: instincts. That’s what my writing is usually about. Transformation. Therianthropy. Being feral. Being Other. To hell with writing about the human condition. I’m not quite human. Hell, is anyone quite human? What the hell does the term even mean, ‘human’ and ‘human condition’? And don’t say it means ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’, while that’s right and the type of answer I might give out, I mean in a more metaphorical and philosophical sense. And I don’t think anybody has a straight answer, at least not one that’s universally true.

I can’t think of a single thing I’ve written that doesn’t at least touch on transformation, therianthropy, being feral, being Other. Even what I’ve written for the Wanderer’s Library all has elements of therianthropy and being Other in it. Walmajarri is the obvious example, but the skinwalkers in ‘Skinwalkers’ are entities warped by a foul variety of magic into killing machines- and importantly, one can emphasize with them. They don’t want to be the way they are. They’re practically infants. They just... are.

I don’t want to be another Beat, but I do want to emulate some parts of them.


The Therian News Network still isn’t up. Tried emailing Solomon. Doesn’t work. Or, rather, he hasn’t responded yet. And I emailed him a week or two ago.
citrakayah: (Default)
1. The bioluminescent algae arrived today. Set-up isn't nearly as difficult as I'd thought, indeed, I don't even need a separate container for it. I'll probably post images as soon as I get it to glow.

Hopefully it will be ready in time for Math and Science Night. And I plan on propagating it, too, which will be trickier. It's easy enough to add growth medium to a flash of algae, it's harder to set up a system where, theoretically, the algae could live forever.
2. I did some glassworking today. My skills are a bit rusty, but I did acceptably. Only got three tries, however, and in one the bead release fell off. On the other two I accidentally burned the bead- I hate single fuel torches.
3. The Therian News Network is currently down. Again. I'm beginning to get tired of this. And speaking of news, my fur has been rubbed the wrong way by this, which I realize is a joke... but seriously, that's not funny.

Poetry

Nov. 25th, 2011 12:31 pm
citrakayah: (determined)
Right. So. Poetry.

I wrote this haiku while rather depressed. Oblivian says that art is in many cases formed by angst, and unfortunately she's certainly right about much of my poetry.

Oceans are leaking
From twin aquamarine orbs
Forming salty brooks.



This was a love poem written on a bet. No one said it had to be to a person or express sexual love.

Yowling kitty cat
Screaming in my ear at night
She has lovely fur.


It's not very good, is it?


This is probably going to be my end of the art trade with Velvela once I'm finished with it. If not... well, I was getting rusty. This poem is called 'The Burning Lands'.

The disc blazes with flame and fire,
Sending rays of brilliance to the ground below.
Both a blessing and a curse,
It gives both life and death.

Heat makes the very air waver
Above the hard, cracked ground.
Creatures hide under rocks,
To avoid the scalding earth.

I have walked the Burning Lands for far too long.
Looking for a way out.


Rough draft, and possibly not complete, but I think it's okay.


This one is really old. It was an attempt at a sestina, which didn't work. I remember some guy saying that these things are easy; I say he was wrong. Certainly it's not easy to write a poem on therianthropy in sestina format, even when using basic endwords that should crop up fairly often in any discussion of the subject.

Wolf or man, man or wolf?
In many ways, it is a reflection of our mind,
locked in battle in the wilderness,
one civilized, one feral.
The mind is a strange beast,
one that we cannot always understand.

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Citrakāyaḥ

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