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A furry theory....

So, a friend of mine just came up with a really interesting and, I think, quite lovely way of interpreting the whole concept of furry (and perhaps, to some extent, Otherkin, for those who see the idea more as a metaphorical expression of self than a literal reality). Xe isn't furry-identified per se, but does have some non-human characters/personas. I got permission to paraphrase/talk about it here, and I thought those of you on my friendslist who identify with the concept might appreciate it.

Basically, we were talking about how xe is fond of fantastical creatures because their physical forms are usually very strongly expressive of what they are on the inside (e.g. an ice creature looking very icelike), and because they're usually such magnificent, intelligent, magical, etc. creatures on the inside, the fact that their physical forms are able to express that is a really compelling thing. And then xe mentioned that xe thinks that's one thing that's really nice about people who have "personal characters" or furry avatars. Xe's a very spiritual person, and xe's take on life is that on the inside, we're all incomprehensibly beautiful creatures. And xe says that xe thinks a furry/mythical avatar is one way to take some of the beauty that's inside all people, and wear it, in some context, on the outside, by crafting a self-image that displays something of the person through metaphorical imagery that we associate with those traits and also find really pleasing to look at. While a lot of people would accuse people with overly pretty or elaborate avatars of exercising wish-fulfilment, xe argued that there's nothing we could create externally that even comes close to matching the beauty we have on the inside; so, far from trying to play to modesty and create humble avatars, we're all selling ourselves short no matter how beautiful our personas.

And I thought that was a really awesome way to look at furry, basically. That it's a way of making the beautiful complexities on the inside show on the outside. (See also today's Theri There comic.)

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Comments

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luinied
Jun. 10th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)
Only slightly topical, but the first paragraph of text below that comic reads so very much like the beginning of a Trigun preview.
prophetic
Jun. 10th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)
Lovely post, lovely comic, lovely thoughts--thanks for sharing!
lhexa
Aug. 23rd, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
I think much of what you say is true... that there are complexities inside ourselves that can only be expressed off a tangent, by such otherwise silly things as ornate patterns or outlandish colors. I don't have any scorn for elaborate avatars; hell, they're fun to draw. However, I also don't think you should disregard the consideration of animals as something lower than humanity, and what that says about identifying with them.

Several years after joining the furry fandom, I was stung by this rediscovered bit of Nietzsche: "Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All creatures hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and do you want to be the ebb of this great tide, and return to the animals rather than overcome man?" I eventually articulated my answer to this exhortation in a conversation with Cube, and I later posted the relevant bit here. I'll reformulate that answer here.

We have various means of letting animals embody traits, virtues even, and we can do the same with such forms as dragons, too. And at one point, humanity was capable of letting the human form embody virtues as well -- this was certainly possible in Classical Greece, and arguably possible during the Renaissance, too. This allowed one to place human beings on a ladder between the animal and the divine. But now the category of human, on that hierarchy, is a void. One can no longer aspire to be human; someone saying "I want to be human" would nowadays be taken to be expressing something deranged, such as the belief that he is really a monster. With the category of the human having become void (in this context, not others), there are three equally reasonable alternatives to seeking human virtues embodied in the human form: dissociate desired traits with forms (and treat them in the abstract); associate desired traits with animals (grounding oneself, in a sense, by taking a step back on that ladder); or skip the human, and make use of the divine or fantastical forms one step up.

To answer my question of why one would aspire to be an animal, which is supposedly less than human: it is because, from (perhaps) taking their humanity for granted, human beings can no longer aspire to be human. I am, more or less, using the closest alternative. I think you get at this idea at some points in this entry, too. I'll also note that, at least in the short run, it was probably a good thing to make the human portion of that latter void, because the human form that embodied all human virtues was specifically a male one. To make that the ideal human form is hardly fair to half of humanity.
lhexa
Aug. 23rd, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
And, not more than two hours after posting what's above, I came across this in Walden:

"Once or twice, while I lived at the pond, I found myself ranging the woods, like a half-starved hound, with a strange abandonment, seeking some kind of venison which I might devour, and no morsel could have been too savage for me. The wildest scenes had become unaccountably familiar. I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not less than the good."
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