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Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
Chordal
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Post: #1
Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
Thought I'd post something!

...That is, since I don't want to take the time right now to read the EULA for a blogging site that I should probably join... <!-- sTongue --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- sTongue --> Yeah, right, then watch me go and write 3-page-long documents and post them. <!-- s:oops: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_redface.gif" alt=":oops:" title="Embarrassed" /><!-- s:oops: -->

Heheh. Something that's come up in skorpio's thread and which I've noticed in myself and in lemur's responses, is the fact that without cultural support structures, it looks like people tend to migrate back to a more...eh, "human?" self-concept. It's not really confined to otherkin phenomena, either -- I've seen it happening with myself in the context of gender, with the plurality community, and with religious communities. When the support's taken away, I think part of...I don't know if I'd call it, the self-awareness; or the cultural backing which gives context to the thoughts and behavior; goes with it.

The thing is, it seems very noticeable in my case when a subcultural enclave doesn't fit me well. Example would be when I tried to attend a Queer Women's group and felt exterior to the cohesion everyone else had, leading me to really want to leave instead of trying to integrate (even though I think I did try to integrate, and there was something in my body that said that it wasn't right). This is contrasted with when I joined a transgender/genderqueer group and everyone seemed immediately to understand and empathize with what I was talking about, which was not the case at all in the Women's group. Ironically what has occurred in the transgender group is an identification that's so strong that it's difficult to resist the urge to medically transition, like many others are doing. And why resist that urge, you may ask? Because should I go through with medical transition, I suspect that I won't be universally welcomed by other people who currently consider me part of their "community," but consistently misapprehend what I am.

As regards religion, I continually run up against elements in non-Pagan alternative religion scenes who think they're better than everyone else. *cough* To not get too deeply into it. However, I generally have found that places which educated Pagans frequent, or fora which are run by people who used to be Pagan, are very easy for me to become enmeshed within. And I mean, you know, maybe that's the reason why I found Satanism initially to be so welcoming -- because the groups that I gravitated to were run by a person who had *been* Pagan.

But there's this whole other element of Satanism which is about rebellion for rebellion's sake and being "dark" and "scary" and radically "self-reliant" (an oxymoron in my view, when your pants are made in Bangladesh) and prideful (normally based on the radical "self-reliance"), which then can tie into this racist rhetoric as a justification for why one should be prideful -- and I've sort of partially been there? I've tried to see from that perspective, which probably lost me some contacts? But it's not a life worth living, in my view, and from what I can tell, it's based in ignorance.

Concepts of "demons" (demons such as Aeshma Daeva; I'm talking about the religious and pop-culture concepts, here) just don't seem to stand up to intellectual scrutiny; particularly as demons are generally used to signify concepts of "evil" to blame for human failings, natural disasters, or traits that some humans want to discourage other humans from having (such as the phenomena currently known as homosexuality). That is, they're created for the purposes of enabling people to have some figure to point a finger at and blame for all the (perceived or actual) troubles or dissatisfactions they have.

As for the reasons why some people side with the scapegoats, in my own case it's obvious -- because I *was* a scapegoat. And to me, at 17, the name of Lucifer -- as the idea of a beautiful angel cast-out for having his own mind -- was comforting. But -- I was 17. I didn't have the maturity or resources to see how messed up the entire system was -- that I was being targeted for hate because others saw me as an embodiment of a societal ill; as something or someone who should not have existed. As an adult now, it doesn't make sense to try and make the concept of the demonic be more than it is. Popular culture is very rarely a well-thought-out thing.

As is especially apparent when you see yourself as a man and everyone else sees you as a woman or as a lesbian (as that's all you can be as a gender-nonconforming person who appears to have female anatomy).

When taking on the role of Devil's advocate is new, it's often entertaining, especially when you're freaking out the people who would otherwise try and grind you into the earth; but rebelling for rebellion's sake isn't a feasible point of view to hold for one's entire life. Not to say I can't do it, but life isn't a role-playing game. Games can be based on faulty logic and fabricated propositions provisionally taken as truth. Life -- if you're living it for yourself -- can't be. BUT. If you're mired down in that, and you're with a lot of other people who are also mired down in it, and you're getting external reinforcement which tells you that you *are* what you think you are (a scapegoat, less than human) -- even if it's because of your own attitudes, it's easy to continue on as though one's own faulty worldview is true...because it's never challenged, and people who believe otherwise often will just silently disappear, like I did, rather than risk confrontation with someone who may welcome it as an identity-reinforcing exercise. You can't argue reason against devotion, identity, and community; and expect a positive outcome.

That's not to say that I'm calling all alternative worldviews or philosophies, faulty. My own sense of myself and my own story doesn't permit me to say, offhand, that things like spirits don't exist, or that there's no possibility that anyone could literally be not human in a human body (though I still don't know what would define "human" if not for the body). It's not to say that popular understandings are right and that transgender people are "really" their birth sex no matter what, or that otherkin are confused humans no matter what, or that plural people are all role-players. Because I don't have the insider information to look into other peoples' heads and know that. It's like some Congressman looking at me and telling me that I'm not really mostly gynephilic, I'm actually heterosexual and, "just haven't found the right man yet." This, when the only man I've ever really loved was transgender -- and very obviously not transsexual, at that. (When I was younger and closer to being gay[-female]-identified, I thought that the perfect "man" for me would be someone who was male and entirely a woman inside. Is that what we're talking about? Gay people should love transsexuals, and transsexuals shouldn't transition? That way all will be right with the LORD [which by the way I don't have faith in, because of people like said Congressman]?)

What I find on this board is that there actually are people here who substantively have experienced some of the same things I have. Does that mean that the concept of "otherkin" has to be literally true, though? I don't think it does. This is one of those sites where I marginally fit in because of my view of myself, though it's hard for me to say exactly *what* I am, if not human. What I see myself as, is a spirit, acting through a body...which I'm thinking I may need to update my profile to say.

The point is that I am who and what I am, even though the ways I may explain who and what I am may vary. Without community backing for any one of these identities, the identity category itself will weaken in the mind, and it seems that one simply becomes, "themselves." Even if, without cultural context...which may be the only way any one of us has any identity, at all.

It's looking like, physically, I may be moving into one of these cultural spaces previously only accorded to other outsiders of the man/woman binary. As hard as I'm expecting that to be, it's still really exciting to have the option to self-determine and attempt to claim my own space; instead of being forced out to the edges, replaced by everyone else's expectations and demands and illusions. But even this aspect of self-knowledge was not gained in a vacuum -- I couldn't have known that I was not a woman without knowing what women *were*.

At this point, I'm wondering about the utility of this space, in practicality. If we subtract the identity-based portion of it -- phantom limbs, past-life recollection -- do we still have a viable community? Even now, though, I'm running up against the question of how much we can subtract and still maintain the lifeblood of the space (bioenergetics? spirit contact? Things like this actually impact *me*, to my surprise, whereas phantom limbs and recovered memories do not). I'm just thinking that, as quiet as it is -- I don't know, maybe it will pick up, but otherwise...could it be time to re-vision the forum so that it more precisely focuses on us as beings in a matured community; maybe so that it is of a slightly more relevant, but still inclusive, focus?
2012-10-20 6:52
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Post: #2
Re: Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
Chordal Wrote:That's not to say that I'm calling all alternative worldviews or philosophies, faulty. My own sense of myself and my own story doesn't permit me to say, offhand, that things like spirits don't exist, or that there's no possibility that anyone could literally be not human in a human body (though I still don't know what would define "human" if not for the body). It's not to say that popular understandings are right and that transgender people are "really" their birth sex no matter what, or that otherkin are confused humans no matter what, or that plural people are all role-players. Because I don't have the insider information to look into other peoples' heads and know that. It's like some Congressman looking at me and telling me that I'm not really mostly gynephilic, I'm actually heterosexual and, "just haven't found the right man yet." This, when the only man I've ever really loved was transgender -- and very obviously not transsexual, at that. (When I was younger and closer to being gay[-female]-identified, I thought that the perfect "man" for me would be someone who was male and entirely a woman inside. Is that what we're talking about? Gay people should love transsexuals, and transsexuals shouldn't transition? That way all will be right with the LORD [which by the way I don't have faith in, because of people like said Congressman]?)

What I find on this board is that there actually are people here who substantively have experienced some of the same things I have. Does that mean that the concept of "otherkin" has to be literally true, though? I don't think it does. This is one of those sites where I marginally fit in because of my view of myself, though it's hard for me to say exactly *what* I am, if not human. What I see myself as, is a spirit, acting through a body...which I'm thinking I may need to update my profile to say.

The point is that I am who and what I am, even though the ways I may explain who and what I am may vary. Without community backing for any one of these identities, the identity category itself will weaken in the mind, and it seems that one simply becomes, "themselves." Even if, without cultural context...which may be the only way any one of us has any identity, at all.

At this point, I'm wondering about the utility of this space, in practicality. If we subtract the identity-based portion of it -- phantom limbs, past-life recollection -- do we still have a viable community? Even now, though, I'm running up against the question of how much we can subtract and still maintain the lifeblood of the space (bioenergetics? spirit contact? Things like this actually impact *me*, to my surprise, whereas phantom limbs and recovered memories do not). I'm just thinking that, as quiet as it is -- I don't know, maybe it will pick up, but otherwise...could it be time to re-vision the forum so that it more precisely focuses on us as beings in a matured community; maybe so that it is of a slightly more relevant, but still inclusive, focus?

To think of an example of what I want to say: when George Orwell wrote 1984, his invented language Newspeak was a portrayal of what could happen when language is watered down to such an extreme extent that freedom of expression is no longer possible. Without words like "otherkin", or "transgender", or whatever, I find it can be difficult to get anyone to listen to what you're saying. I get quite annoyed when people try to explain or express themselves in a way that may be unheard of or just simply strange to most people, and is passed off as being insane or not worth listening to.

That being said, definitions of terms like these will always be ambiguous, and people will always get different impressions based on which version of the definition they hear. I think the definitions are being taken too seriously, and that people are afraid to say what identifying as X, Y or Z means to them, to what extent they identify as such, and in what ways.
I thought that up until the rush of...mostly nonsense, on Tumblr, the otherkin community was actually maturing, and that it's general aims had been established (what otherkin means, what people who identify as such try to do, etc). On Tumblr these seem mostly non-existent, and the more over-the-top material is ending up on websites like Gawker. Even an Irish magazine-ish-thing called Totally Dublin had a quite insensitive (I thought) article attempting to explain what the community is, and only mentioning the nonsense.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://gawker.com/5940947/from-otherkin-to-transethnicity-your-field-guide-to-the-weird-world-of-tumblr-identity-politics">http://gawker.com/5940947/from-otherkin ... y-politics</a><!-- m -->
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://totallydublin.ie/more/entry-level-otherkin/">http://totallydublin.ie/more/entry-level-otherkin/</a><!-- m -->

All I really have to say is; the less of this there is, the more likely the community will progress.
I apologise if this sounded pretentious.

"Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home."
- James Joyce
2012-10-20 23:54
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Chordal
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Post: #3
Re: Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
skorpio Wrote:
Chordal Wrote:The point is that I am who and what I am, even though the ways I may explain who and what I am may vary. Without community backing for any one of these identities, the identity category itself will weaken in the mind, and it seems that one simply becomes, "themselves." Even if, without cultural context...which may be the only way any one of us has any identity, at all.

At this point, I'm wondering about the utility of this space, in practicality. If we subtract the identity-based portion of it -- phantom limbs, past-life recollection -- do we still have a viable community? Even now, though, I'm running up against the question of how much we can subtract and still maintain the lifeblood of the space (bioenergetics? spirit contact? Things like this actually impact *me*, to my surprise, whereas phantom limbs and recovered memories do not). I'm just thinking that, as quiet as it is -- I don't know, maybe it will pick up, but otherwise...could it be time to re-vision the forum so that it more precisely focuses on us as beings in a matured community; maybe so that it is of a slightly more relevant, but still inclusive, focus?

To think of an example of what I want to say: when George Orwell wrote 1984, his invented language Newspeak was a portrayal of what could happen when language is watered down to such an extreme extent that freedom of expression is no longer possible. Without words like "otherkin", or "transgender", or whatever, I find it can be difficult to get anyone to listen to what you're saying. I get quite annoyed when people try to explain or express themselves in a way that may be unheard of or just simply strange to most people, and is passed off as being insane or not worth listening to.

I can empathize with this -- I was cross-dressing consistently for a month at work and it wasn't until I mentioned the word "transgender" that anyone got a clue.

I cut out most of what you'd quoted of my post above, skorpio, because I wasn't sure to what extent your reply was actually responding to what I'd said. Basically what I was thinking of was attempting to make the space of more use to the people who are already here -- just focusing the mission statement differently, in a way that will encourage more posting -- not making it a non-otherkin space.

skorpio Wrote:That being said, definitions of terms like these will always be ambiguous, and people will always get different impressions based on which version of the definition they hear. I think the definitions are being taken too seriously, and that people are afraid to say what identifying as X, Y or Z means to them, to what extent they identify as such, and in what ways.

"Terms like these" -- are you referring to the "demon" angle I was talking about above? I wasn't intending to include the definition of "demonkin" there, because I see the latter as a separate concept.

skorpio Wrote:I thought that up until the rush of...mostly nonsense, on Tumblr, the otherkin community was actually maturing, and that it's general aims had been established (what otherkin means, what people who identify as such try to do, etc). On Tumblr these seem mostly non-existent [...]

You know, I've been thinking of getting on Tumblr. I think that wherever you have a lot of youth and a lot of anonymity, though, you're going to have a lot of posting that isn't well-thought-out, or that is put out there primarily to gain attention.

skorpio Wrote:[...] and the more over-the-top material is ending up on websites like Gawker. Even an Irish magazine-ish-thing called Totally Dublin had a quite insensitive (I thought) article attempting to explain what the community is, and only mentioning the nonsense.

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://gawker.com/5940947/from-otherkin-to-transethnicity-your-field-guide-to-the-weird-world-of-tumblr-identity-politics">http://gawker.com/5940947/from-otherkin ... y-politics</a><!-- m -->
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://totallydublin.ie/more/entry-level-otherkin/">http://totallydublin.ie/more/entry-level-otherkin/</a><!-- m -->

I hope you'll forgive me for not going to these sites. I used to go anyplace online -- I mean, *anywhere* -- but I've gotten to the age where I don't go to disreputable sites to view something that I already know is garbage, if you'll excuse the language. There's too much risk of getting my computer infected with something like malware or a trojan, or tracked. I do have a good set of security measures going right now, but my internet access and hard drive integrity is too valuable to me to risk it on viewing something which will only make me angry.

skorpio Wrote:All I really have to say is; the less of this there is, the more likely the community will progress.

It's difficult to control the actions of other people who claim to be in one's own community. What has to happen is that more mature voices have to be willing to be considered along with the kids (or the people with kids' mindsets). Personally, this is my only otherkin outlet (which may explain why I post here so much). >_>;; What generally occurs is that the communities split -- Pagans have the "fluffies," Satanists have the "spikeys," gay and lesbian people have the transgender and bisexual communities, transgender communities have the genderqueers, bisexual people have the pansexuals. It goes on and on. And it's not so much that even every cast-off community is as bad as the Tumblr otherkin community; just that one group of people is seeking social recognition and acceptance as "okay," and doesn't feel that they can get it while still tagged onto people who they feel hold them back.

skorpio Wrote:I apologise if this sounded pretentious.

No, I don't think you sounded pretentious, just concerned.
2012-10-21 1:22
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Post: #4
Re: Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
Quote:"Terms like these" -- are you referring to the "demon" angle I was talking about above? I wasn't intending to include the definition of "demonkin" there, because I see the latter as a separate concept.

I meant any sort of term used to describe what someone can identify as or with, "demon", "demonkin" and their many definitions included.

"Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home."
- James Joyce
2012-10-21 20:07
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Post: #5
Re: Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
skorpio Wrote:All I really have to say is; the less of this there is, the more likely the community will progress.
I'm taking a not-so-wild guess at the content behind those links, and I actually have to ask, have you considered the idea that people are trolling? Not openly trolling *against* the otherkin community, but taking on a public identity as otherkin and then posting stupidities, in order to discredit the otherkin community?

I actually had to leave a community based on the fact that it felt unsafe there -- but it wasn't until several months later that the idea fully coalesced that I might have been dealing with a bunch of trolls, who just happened to say that they fit into a certain subset of said community. This type of trolling exploits the fact that none of us know who is being serious about their identity and who isn't. What we have to take them on is their word; and basically, that's an honor system. There's nothing to stop a person who isn't really otherkin from saying they are, and then intentionally acting like an idiot, to bring down the rest of the community.

Have you thought about this angle?
2012-10-22 1:43
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Post: #6
Re: Dependence of self-concept upon others of like mind
skorpio Wrote:
Chordal Wrote:
skorpio Wrote:That being said, definitions of terms like these will always be ambiguous, and people will always get different impressions based on which version of the definition they hear. I think the definitions are being taken too seriously, and that people are afraid to say what identifying as X, Y or Z means to them, to what extent they identify as such, and in what ways.

"Terms like these" -- are you referring to the "demon" angle I was talking about above? I wasn't intending to include the definition of "demonkin" there, because I see the latter as a separate concept.

I meant any sort of term used to describe what someone can identify as or with, "demon", "demonkin" and their many definitions included.

Ah -- I see. *thinks for a moment* A large part of the reason I changed the little "kintype" indicator on my profile, is that there is a difference between an identity one voluntarily takes on, and an identity one is forced into. There's that, plus I was getting a little nagging feeling like I wasn't being totally honest...and that feeling is really the only way I can tell if I'm being true to myself or if I'm being unintentionally dishonest...for inclusion or another benefit. The more honest I am, the easier it is for me to see other areas where I'm not being honest, and correct them. If I let something go, it's much easier for me to lose sight of myself (which is something I can't afford, having recently recovered a sense of myself with the help of others in spirit).

The third item of evidence is that I feel (and have felt) an "energetic" extension of my form. Plus, I'm not sure whether it's I or Bell talking a lot of the time, now. I mean it almost always feels like "myself" these days, but I can't account for how much of that "self" is I and how much is him. And he's someone who I very clearly experienced as a spirit -- even if I did like to include demonic-type visualizations in with that, at the time. I haven't sensed form to be of much importance when it comes to who a being actually is, though, or when it comes to their nature -- it's plastic to me.

Given that, I've actually done less research on demons than would be thought. <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I've done some searching on Near East demons in a library setting; I have read parts of some Demonolatry books (though I'm attempting not to take them as severely authoritatively as I have in the past, for a specific reason); I've looked up some Near-East demons in a book on angels; I apparently at one time started to read _The Origin of Satan_; I've read about Buddhist demons (like Mara) and Qlipphotic demons (like Choronzon). On top of that I've been exposed to the online Satanist community for probably over ten years now, both theistic and atheistic variants, and I've been exposed to the online Demonolatry community for a much shorter time. When I write about what I've seen, it's just a distillation of this experience, not a hard-line "this is the way it is" type of thing.

I'm being called away. I'll be back, later.
2012-10-22 2:10
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