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n o t j u s t p r e t e n d i n g
by Thistle Pleeloolalla Kachunk
date unknown, but likely somewhere between 1998-2000.
This post was originally in response to a particular essay critiquing and debunking otherkin, which no longer seems to exist on the net.
okay here is my response to the assertion that we are just pretending to be otherkin.
i had a conversation once with a friend of mine who dressed every day like it was 1912 and cultivated the manners of a gentleman circa 1912 and in matters of social considerations acted as though he were in 1912. Occasionally he would seem to be a time traveller in a foreign place, and sometimes you would swear that a bubble of 1912 surrounded him. And it would fluctuate. And I found his conversation very stimulating and his company charming, but I was brought up in an intellectual tradition that maintained honesty as a virtue. And at one point I said to him: "Don't you find it unsettling maintaining this persona all the time?" and he said something which has affected me since. First he quoted Oscar Wilde and said (correct me if i paraphrase) that Being Oneself is the most dreary form of artifice there is. Then he told me that at first it was uncomfortable maintaining the 1912 persona, but eventually it became second nature, and then, it became first nature.
If you pretend something long enough it becomes true. This is in fact the foundation for all the diverse concept-driven activities we go through every day. "Let's pretend there was a mailing list called TIRNANOC-l," and eventually after lots of focus, *Ping!* there WAS one. Since obviously this applies to our senses of self and identity as well, the argument that we are "just pretending to be otherkin" is mere petty chicken-or-the-egg reflexive moralism with no meaning.
Of course, the opposition to imagination and following one's inner Muse is very substantial in this country and I suppose one should expect that sort of attitude, yet still I find it nonsensical. If we don't have the right to choose what personality and identity we develop, who does? Whatever hazy set of restrictions our own fear of being rejected hallucinates as "the right way to be"? If one wants to advocate such an existence so be it, but i see no profit in it.
okay, i just read the essay, and its author seems to be making the following assertions:
-appropriation of symbols from other traditions for one's own purposes is somehow wrong or sloppy, as though an archetypical symbol ever even survives the transfer between two people without changing to one degree or another.
-That occam's razor (the idea that in a case of divergent theories, in most cases the one which is closest to what one already believes can be assumed to be the truth) is somehow "delightful". I find Occam's Razor to be merely a codification of the dislike of new things, so that such ignorance can be justified as "the accepted way to do things". How a kind of dislike, distrust and caution can be interpreted as delight is strange to me.
-that fantasy should not be irresponsibly and freely splashed about into reality. After all, where would we be if everyone just believed whatever made them happy? Certainly not under control.
It is true that prejudice against those who do not currently identify as otherkin is silly. However, we have the right to choose with whom we interact, and I believe a certain degree of self-reliance and even elitism is good for the purpose of staying in touch with what one truly feels to be important. If I were a dedicated athlete, I would choose not to interact with those whose belief structure told me that the constant practicing and excercise necessary to be an athlete made me "obsessive" or "ridiculous". Likewise I see no point in cultivating deep associations with those who tell me that I have no right to claim to be a space munchkin with eleven arms who was hatched from an egg. Yes, this leads to a degree of cliquishness, but so does any attempt to excel or innovate in any field, and conceptual and spiritual innovation is no different.
It is true, we have the right to accept what society has told us is our identity without questioning it. However, I would hope that few of us need to, considering the other possibilities open to us. It is often very lonely and confusing to identify with an unorthodox and as yet officially unrecognized spiritual tradition as the Otherkin tradition. But the rewards are great!
In our postmodern society it is becoming increasingly necessary to mold ones own identity, surroundings and reality in order to physically survive in the job market etc anyway. Saying that we should not do this because it is "irrational" or "excessive indulgence" to do so is nonsense, and to say that we should only mold our identities to fit the expectations of prospective employers is taking a servant mentality which is contrary to happiness and success. This mentality was useful to feudal agriculturalists but is becoming more and more superfluous and even counterproductive as technology advances.
But I suppose the conflict between the advocacy of unchecked imagination and freedom, and the advocacy of restrictions on imagination and freedom is ultimately an esthetic one. Corax states he would rather drink and play pool with a person whose primary concern was material than discuss or explore the possibility or practice of otherwordly travel. This is valid, although why he chooses to get in our faces about it confuses me.
btw it is curious to see someone who calls themselves Corax advocating that finding identity in roleplaying games and fantasy novels is invalid. Perhaps he is indirectly attempting to strengthen our faith by questioning it 8). Giving it a trial by fire.
Or perhaps he is just using his considerable wit to feed his ego by randomly tearing down other's beliefs in a reactionary fashion. I used to troll newsgroups and I understand the rush that this can bring. But it is a base and ultimately boring if intoxicating thing to do. I would hope that his motivations are otherwise.
Nonetheless, it is said that a critic (and a debunker of any kind is a critic) is someone who failed to do something and now feels they must get revenge by tearing down those who succeeded.
Btw I would not put angry testimonials on his guestbook, as having been such a phenomenon as he is, I am reasonably certain such things will only motivate him further in his crusade. I personally did not stop until I was mailbombed and humiliated enough to get off the internet completely. Even then I to some degree continued until I found acceptance at Tirnanoc. Maybe he just needs love?
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