Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others,
Happy Zoo Pride Week!
Did you know that the United States of America has 6 time zones if you include Alaska and Hawaii time? That means that, in 4 out of 6 time zones, I am actually being totally honest about my timeliness! That reduces to two out of three, and in the famous words of Meat Loaf, "two out of three ain't bad."
Let me level with you about something, zoos: we have got to start getting over our political differences.
The truth is that both major political parties are really politically diverse, and any given political party is based on the building of something that is called a "political tent." The people under that tent might hate each other, for the most part, but all of the people that are under that tent realize that, once they start throwing stones at the other guys that are holding up its tent-poles, then the whole tent is going to collapse on top of them.
Right now, one of the tent-poles that hold up the right-wing happens to be in power, but what you need to know is that that particular branch of the American right-wing is only a small subset. A man that was raised in New York City as part of a rich and influential family does not necessarily have the same worldview as someone that was raised in rural North Carolina. In New York City, being VERY openly gay or transgender has been profoundly normal since the 1970's, so in that city's culture, being accepting of that does not take you being open-minded or progressive. It takes you being at least slightly interested in fitting in with your indigenous culture.
The left-wing is also a political tent, and not all of them are socialists or people that hate guns. The left-wing actually has a strong and influential social libertarian faction, and many of them are actually lifetime gun-owners. However, they have their own causes that they are trying to support, and they know that they are not going to realize those causes unless they help support everybody that is under that political tent, even ones they disagree with.
Also, Jewish people, in the United States, are united under a political tent, even though their politics are otherwise the opposite of each other, on almost every other subject that exists, besides the fact that none of them want Americans to think it's okay to murder Jewish people. On everything else, they might want to set each other on fire, but if it is clear that any American politician or celebrity is an antisemitic bastard, they are united on the point that something has got go be done about that, since antisemitism, once it starts to spread, can become a cancer.
LGBT are also standing under a political tent. In fact, there is a very conservative, very prudish sub-set of transgender people that were extremely hostile toward introducing autogynephilia into discussions about sexology, and Dr. Bailey, after he published his book where he famously discussed it more openly than usual, was outright under attack, with certain influential transgender activists trying to bully and shame his coworkers into renouncing him or distancing themselves from him. Autogynephilia is still borderline taboo, even within the LGBT community, and for decades, there has been this subset of transgender people that have been pushing a narrative that "gender is not about sex." They had become so invested in this narrative that, when a scientist started talking about autogynephilia as a real thing that could be studied under fMRI, they went into a mortal panic because they saw a large part of their narrative disintegrating. This does not mean that all gay people are this frail or this prudish, but whether all of us LGBT like it or not, our community has its own indigenous right-wing. When you run into members of the LGBT community that are very thin-skinned and think that there is a police order that you HAVE to use certain words around them, that's what you are really dealing with. The rest of us, who are not really that thin-skinned, cannot really throw them under the bus too publicly because, even though we don't really think that way, they are holding up their tent-pole. We are holding up ours. We are not about to publicly start throwing stones at other people that are helping to hold up the tent. We adhere to the principles of respectful disagreement.
Us zoophiles come from many different walks of life, and the only thing we really have in common is that we have a vested interest in protecting both ourselves and our animals. We know that we could no more stop being zoophiles than we could casually walk out of our own skins, so the only path we really have forward is to build a political tent around trying to influence social and political and scientific leaders to try to look at us as human beings that are rightful and mostly peaceful stakeholders in society, not really people that are inherently dangerously criminal, and in this interest, it is important for us to learn how to work together with people that, for other reasons, we might otherwise want to pour gasoline over and set on fire.
Our political tent is going to have to be built across ideological lines. Socialists and libertarians are going to have to work together to the same ends. We are going to have to learn how to have respectful disagreements with people that, insofar as their contributions to the zooey community, we also admire. It does not matter if you hate vegetarianism: if a zoophile succeeds at winning over a subsection of the vegan movement to our side, then don't fuck with it. It does not matter if you hate guns: if a zoophile manages to make friends with a bunch of otherwise open-minded but also single-mindedly fanatical gun nuts, then don't fuck with it. These disparate groups of people, within the zooey community, have their own personal connections that are related to their own ideals and personal backgrounds. We all might not agree with everything some of our allies believe, but if we don't want to fuck up our own cause, we still have to learn how to get along with them.
If us zoophiles let ourselves get torn apart by our ideological difference, then we end up being a circular firing squad, and I think that this is what happened to our community in the late 1990's and early 2000's. When we first started coming together, I think there was so much tension over our differences that our own infighting may have created a "circular firing squad" effect, leading our first attempt to emerge to collapsing so badly that we ended up worse off than before, even leading to some zoos starting to believe it was a bad idea to try to change anything.
We zoophiles, at least us zoophiles that are left that have hope left in us, will have to learn the art of political engineering, and a large part of the art of political engineering is understanding the concept of a political tent. Under a political tent, you may find that you are working hand-in-hand and sharing resources with people that you do not always agree with.
Respectful disagreement is the single most fundamentally necessary skill that you will ever learn while operating under the principle of a political tent. It's okay if two people that disagree with each other get into a heated discussion. It is not really helpful if they start losing respect for each other as equal stakeholders, in the cause of making this world a safer place for us zoos.
This kind of political engineering takes time, but I think that, with enough determination, we can set up a system of relations between different wings of our movement that makes it possible for us to openly express what we believe without throwing stones at other tent-poles that, in the long-run, it does not really serve us to try to undermine. It is not bad to express everything that we believe. It is an issue if we make others feel that they can't.
That has been my thinking over the course of this past Zoo Pride Week.
Thank you, as always,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others.
If you are a zoophile, then Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is a book that you ought to consider to be very relevant to you.
Before you read or reread or, assuming you remember it well and have no need to reread it, reflect upon this novel, I want to prime you with a thought, which I want you to bear in mind while reading the book.
Think about how there are some members of the American left that are on an anti-rape moral crusade, and they are certain that if you are not also on an anti-rape moral crusade, then you are a misogynist and knuckle-dragging neanderthal. They are certain that if you even accidentally dream about the idea of defending a politician or celebrity that has been accused of rape or even make the heinous suggestion that they have a right to a fair trial, then it is all but certain that you also are a rapist, and you just might be a pedophile, too! By the way, they hate zoophiles.
Wait a sec! Here I was, under the impression that the sexual prudes were the right-wingers! The left was supposed to stand for equality and for sexual liberation, not for waging moral crusades against the sexually impure! What the fuck?
You have to read Animal Farm yourself to truly understand where I am coming from, here, but what I am driving at, here, comes down to a particular scene that is associated with the quote, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." I do not want to give too many spoilers, here, so if you have not read the book, then please do. If you read the book until you have gotten to that scene, then you will understand that I am not making an endorsement of the right-wing at all.
Instead, I am making a criticism of how the left-wing has lost many of the things about them, which ever set them apart from the right-wing, that I believe made any difference that I genuinely cared about. In the 1990's, I was a young gay man, and in my world, the right-wing was scary. They were hideously mean people that would sneer at you with profound disgust, and if you tried to tell them they were wrong, then they would beat you bloody. At the time, gay rights was one of the darlings of the left, and the left were arguing that sexual prudishness is really outdated, even antediluvian. Because of that, they made me feel safe, and I was ready to listen to them. There were many important things that I learned because I did, and there are many things that I still believe the left are right about.
In the respect that made me want to listen to them in the first place, though, they have changed, not in a good way. In that aspect of them that once made me feel safe, they have been transforming more and more into a caricature of the hate-preaching conservative fundamentalists that once abused me for being gay. Sometimes, I can barely tell them apart.
I am a political orphan. All of us zoos are, and if you are a zoophile that thinks that the right-wing is your friend, then you are in for a rude awakening. The story of Finland's role in World War II makes a useful parable for talking about this.
The thing that most zoos know about Finland is that they are one of the few liberal countries that haven't created a horrifyingly cruel anti-zoophile law, but something else you need to know about them is the incredibly curious position that they were in, during World War II. At the beginning of World War II, the Finnish were technically aligned with the Germans, not because they hated Jews or liked Hitler but because the Russian government was trying to take more of their land, since apparently cutting them off from the Arctic Ocean by taking East Karelia from them was not enough for Stalin. Later on in the war, though, as the Allied Powers, to include the Russians, became focused on defeating Adolf Hitler, who also wanted to take things that did not belong to him, the Finnish government joined the Allied Powers. After World War II, the Finnish were left to pick up the pieces on their own.
If you are a zoophile, what you need to know is that Stalin may be bombing you today, but Hitler is going to be bombing you tomorrow. If you think that either of them is your friend, then you are a fool.
I am a democratic socialist, but trust me: I want nothing to do with the average Berner, and I have many heterodox views for a lefty.
For instance, I think that persecuted and downtrodden minorities ought to be the first people to try to get access to the most powerful weapons they can get, not the last. Unlike a rich conservative Republican who lives safe in a protected community and who will never experience persecution or adversity in their entire life, a persecuted minority could actually get killed because there are literally people in their world that are genuinely certain that they are such terrible monsters that they deserve to die. This applies, whether you are an African-American living in a city controlled by racist police or a zoophile. Unlike the fools at the NRA, we actually need a weapon that we could use to defend ourselves against a government that is literally at war against us.
I believe that Orwell's criticisms of Russian communism, by the way, inspired later writers in the science fiction genre, one of whom was James Blish.
Something that James Blish got into trouble for was a kind of trouble that James Blish and only James Blish could possibly get into. James Blish always had liberal views, even seeming to be an entire lifetime ahead of his time, but among other left-leaning thinkers, in the emerging science-fiction genre, I theorize that he lost patience with all of the people that were saying, "communism would be great if it were done right." James Blish seemed to be answering that sentiment when he said, "fascism would be great if it were done right," and he proposed a scenario where an authoritarian fascist government, led by a group of enlightened despots, had really created a sort of utopian liberal paradise. I think he was just doing it to be a geeky edge-lord, but he spent years arguing for this point-of-view. It colored a large amount of his writing. I think Blish was never really right-wing: he really just wanted to get people to understand how hokey it sounded to try to defend the authoritarian Soviet government for any reason.
In his Cities in Flight series, though, James Blish decided that he would envision a future where the United States and the Soviet Union were at peace between each other, but the reason why was that they had lost all of the characteristics that really made them different, which were really their only redeeming qualities. Out of frustration with this world where your only real choice was the flag of your oppressor, cities all over the world began to take advantage of a new technology that would allow them to safely carry their entire cities off into space, leaving Earth far behind.
People like James Blish and George Orwell were really incredibly liberal individuals. I think they may both have been more than one hundred years ahead of their time. In their time, though, they were political orphans.
When the only option you are allowed to have is the name of your oppressor, and you are told that you have to choose between them, then maybe it is time to stop doing what you are told.
I think it is the moral responsibility of people like us zoophiles, along with other political orphans like us, to start charting a path forward, where we can leave behind the left's newfound passion for hypocrisy and the right's entrenched and ongoing devotion to hypocrisy.
Since we have been among the first to get burned, we don't have an excuse for not recognizing that something has gone wrong.
Like Finland, in the wake of World War II, we are going to be left charting our own path forward, but like Finland, we have the benefit of knowing, far better than anybody, where both the right and the left both went tragically wrong.
Just like Finland eventually benefited from having the least excuse for being deceived, by the political polarization that followed World War II, I think that political orphans like us zoophiles will eventually be glad that we learned this lesson. Just like they were forced to see how insane it was to choose between agents of tyranny, we also are being forced to see how insane it is to choose between agents of tyranny.
I think that us zoophiles may awaken, someday, in a world where we are seen as a role-model and an example to be emulated...but only if we have the guts to try.
I say let's do it, but until it is clear that this is the direction that all of us zoophiles are trying to head in, I will go on pressing for us to have such an awakening as
your devoted and doggedly faithful zooey blogger,
Dear fellow zoos, zooey allies, and confused others.
Yes, backdating again! But I have a good excuse.
I have decided to take up writing narratives. This is destined to the same fate as my sketching, though: for now, it will only be shared with a few close friends that are interested and who understand me. Weirdly, it is easy for me to write nonfiction and to publish my feelings and my opinions. When it comes to creating art, I am very shy.
Or maybe the reason why I only share my artistic efforts with my friends is that, for me, art is a very personal endeavor. It constitutes a baring of my heart, and it is a way that I reveal very personal parts of myself.
For instance, I tend to write a lot of work that uses the anthros v. ferals motif. The reason why I do goes back to Animal Farm by George Orwell. Animals represent the absence of a voice, which can extend to a lack of a voice in society. Well, George Orwell was really just attempting to give a voice to people that may have not really gotten out of Bolshevism what they were promised, but on the other hand, they had never really been treated very well by the Tsars, either. Those people could have become the darlings of the right-wing by saying, "we want the Tsars back," but in the long-run, there was little worse, just as there was little better, about Bolshevism. It was not that Bolshevism had made things worse: they had just failed to really make things better, and the problems that people were trying to solve by it were still there and were still issues that needed to be addressed. Putting an animal's face on this point-of-view says, "nobody is really listening to me."
For a concept of how we can treat humans like animals, refer to the song, "The Boxer" by Paul Simon. There are millions of people like that person in human society, and while all of them have a story, it can be very hard to get them to tell that story, maybe because they are convinced that nobody is really prepared to listen to that story and understand its real significance. The hero from the story has always had his story, but it took a special kind of storyteller to learn what that story was and to find the words to tell it.
In the same spirit, the ferals (non-morphic furries) in my invariably deleted or unfinished bits of writing tend to have an old and mature culture among themselves, but they seldom share it with society at large, tending to keep that culture private and among themselves. They are inward-looking, and in practice, they can be profoundly conservative. For instance, I envision feral rats as having a penchant for adorning themselves with many piercings, but nobody in anthro society really gets them: most people think it's an expression of "toughness," but among themselves, the feral rats use those piercings to represent a relationship in their lives that they feel has changed them forever, on the inside. They are nevertheless intensely misogynistic, but oddly, rather than oppressing homosexual males, they just treat gay males the same as straight females: officially, they are "to be seen and not heard," although only when people outside the family are around, and on the family's private time, they may have authority. The culture is intensely inward-looking, but their moral hang-ups and taboos are different from those of the dominant anthro society, not really more severe.
I think that the value of using these animal-like characters is that it shows how they can be seen, on the surface, as simple and primitive and backwards, but when someone looks closer, they really have an ancient and sophisticated culture but also one that, like ours, has problems of its own. To me, that kind of story would have power.
That brings to mind Houyhnhms and Yahoos.
Anyhow, I don't know if I'll ever share any of my writing publicly, but for now, I'll keep running my ideas by my friends. Maybe, in a few weeks, I might polish off my narrative skills enough to start sharing my work with others. We'll see.
Until next time,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others.
I have been enjoying the fourth book in the Pit Dragon Trilogy, by Jane Yolen. I was reluctant, at first, to read a fourth book in what was originally intended to be a trilogy. I have always tended to suspect those extra books of being mismatched with the original spirit of the series. However, I decided to give Jane Yolen the benefit of the doubt, here, that maybe she genuinely believed that something had been left unsaid. I knew Jane Yolen. I knew her well enough that I did not really think that she would have tacked on an extra book unless she really felt that there was something she still wanted to say.
The cover art features the dragon Heart's Blood standing behind...or protectively over...the two kids from the original books. Since she was dead from much earlier in the series, I felt particularly touched by the cover art. I really think that cover art is underappreciated. They say "don't judge a book by its cover," but I partly disagree. I think that, in some cases, cover art can betray how the artist felt moved by the contents of the story. The sweetly sentimental scene of the valiant Heart's Blood, maternally standing guard over her human children, is not something that I think would have been produced if the artist had not felt moved, in some way, by the story. The artist clearly sees a powerful connection of love.
I was having a discussion with a friend, earlier today, about how dark a lot of youth literature really is. This is a part of why I am so drawn to youth literature. This is not really because I have a pessimistic worldview. The opposite is true. I see the human race as being profoundly capable of change. However, I also believe that we can very quickly change for the worse.
I do not see any improvement, in the conditions of the human race, as a passive product of the passage of time. Much as I admire the great American President, Barack Obama, I think that the most vapid thing that Barack Obama said was, in response to homophobia, "It's 2013." Looking back, I was thinking, "uh-oh." As soon as that sense of happy fatalism invades the hearts of society, then troubled waters are ahead.
We think that antisemitism is evil because Jewish people, in the wake of World War II, worked their asses off to make sure that people understood what it was like to be a Jewish person during the Holocaust. This was not just something that inevitably happened. It was not fated to happen. The Jewish survivors of the Holocaust busted their asses for it.
Jane Yolen did not just write tales about telepathic dragons on distant worlds, but remember, Yolen was also the author of The Devil's Arithmetic, which was really a seriously messed-up story to be selling to children but one that children needed to read. However, if it had just been Jane Yolen publishing a book, that would not have been enough. Besides her just publishing that book, there were Jewish people and their allies going around the country raising awareness and promoting any kind of literature that anybody ever wrote that told people the truth about the terrible thing that happened in Europe during the early 20th Century. They refused to let this event in their history get erased or brushed under the rug.
Likewise, the gay rights movement did not just happen because it was fated to happen, but LGBT in the western world busted their asses for it. They had felt what it was like to be persecuted, and they had decided that they did not like it. They had decided that they were going to change that fact.
What I think happened to the zooey community, during the late 20th Century and in the first generation of the 21st Century, was that the hard work of these other groups getting so much work done, all at once, on human rights created a false sense that this movement toward liberalization was somehow an inevitable, tidal change in how people thought about things. I think that we zoophiles came down with a sense of happy fatalism, and because of that, everything fell apart.
There really is no "slippery slope." There is just the fruits of people that are passionate about protecting their freedom and their livelihoods laboring to change the world in order to make the world a safer place for them to live. That has always been the truth.
Changing the world is not just something that happens. Anyone can do it if they really want to, but it's damn hard and takes a very long time.
Anyhow, I am looking forward to seeing how this book goes, and I hope to be about halfway through it in a week. I will have more to say about it then.
Your faithful zooey blogger,
Dear zoophiles, zooey allies, and confused others.
I suppose that, at some point, I should share what kind of childhood literature led to me being able to love myself completely, as a zoophile, in an era where zoophiles are being ruthlessly demonized in almost every quarter of society. There is certain literature that has helped to insulate me.
Today, I am not going to talk about a specific book, but I am going to talk about a literary trope that has had immense staying power and which continues to preserve its sense of being a fresh idea, and that is the idea of dragons as either literary protagonists or as otherwise benevolent characters, sometimes playing in the traditional role of a Jungian anima figure in spite of being male or masculine. I am going to examine why I think this trope has such appeal, at least to me.
In the medieval Christian world, though, dragons represented everything that was evil, and the image of St. George slaying the evil dragon represented, to medieval Christians, the triumph of "good" Christianity over "evil" everything else.
I think the rehabilitation of dragons was partly a reaction, by female authors, to the built-in misogyny of traditional Christian culture. Anne McCaffery and Ursula K. Le Guin were feminist writers that had become intensely anti-clerical due to them having seen one too many holy wars in their lifetimes, and I think that the rehabilition of dragons was an attempt to call traditional Christians to account.
However, the idea of benevolent dragons actually goes back to Kenneth Grahame, who wrote, in a children's book, about a meek and scholarly dragon that befriends a young boy. To understand this character, it helps to understand Kenneth Grahame, himself: Kenneth Grahame's outward persona, which he showed in his everyday life, was a seemingly deliberate caricature of late 19th Century masculinity. The school that he went to as a child was a brutal environment for a young boy to grow up in. In his personal life as an adult, Kenneth Grahame was regarded by his wife as a sexual underperformer, showing little or no interest in sex, and his poor wife, Elspeth, dwindled into a wraith of a person and spent her adult life in a state of misery. The Reluctant Dragon comes across to me as a reflection of a person that is tormented by the pressure of his society to perform publicly as a masculine caricature but who really feels, on the inside, like a persecuted and hunted animal. Kenneth Grahame even owned a dollhouse, and his greatest literary triumph The Wind in the Willows, was one of the greatest works of furry fiction that have ever been written. When I put together all of the other pieces of Grahame's tragic life story, I quite honestly think that the relationship between Mole and Rat may symbolize a same-sex relationship that Grahame secretly spent his life longing for. I honestly and truly think that The Reluctant Dragon, insofar as his personality, was a self-portrait of the kind of person that Kenneth Grahame really wished he could have been.
Le Guin's dragons were portrayed as neither good nor evil but as creatures that must inherently be understood outside the context of moral values. This is a take-off on the Leviathan poem from the Book of Job, which is a primitive beast that cannot be tamed by human beings, being neither good nor evil but merely beyond the control of human power. The poem from Job was really a morality tale directed at the entire human race: no matter how powerful you are, you must accept that you are not really all-powerful, and there are some conquests that really are beyond your ability. The poem from Job is really about humility. In a way, Le Guin either consciously or unconsciously makes her dragons in a similar image.
In Anne McCaffrey's world, the human race could not have survived without the help of dragons, and dragons were the only creatures in the world that could help them fight against the natural menace that threatened their very survival. Humans could not have possibly survived on this world without the very symbols of their darkest instinctive fears. However, Anne McCaffrey might have hinted at her reasons for using dragons in much of her work when she said, of the Christian god, "More horror and death has been done in His name than for any other reason."
Oddly, Le Guin and McCaffrey make their dragons in somewhat opposite molds. To McCaffrey, dragons are more than ordinary animals but still animals. To Le Guin, dragons are such creatures that would look upon humans as humans look upon squirrels. They are starkly different from each other and clearly not the same creature.
During my childhood, though, I had my most influential encounter with dragons in American literature, and the author was a woman named Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen's best known work and the work that constituted required reading during my education was The Devil's Arithmetic, which was a book about a young woman that had fallen into a coma and woken up as a Jewish girl in the midst of the Holocaust. This book, in itself, was really influential to me, and because of it and other Holocaust-inspired literature, I have an almost instinctive sense of sympathy for any persecuted or downtrodden people. There were no dragons in this book, but I read it at about the same time as I read one that was about dragons.
Within mere weeks of me reading The Devil's Arithmetic as part of my required reading, though, Jane Yolen also struck a chord with me through the Pit Dragon Trilogy. Jane Yolen's genius, as an author, is that she does not always tell you everything there is to know about her characters right away, but she always keeps several cards in reserve to play later. She almost never has all of her cards out on the table, and she always leaves many unanswered questions and keeps you guessing. In the Pit Dragon Trilogy, the dragons are not obviously intelligent, and when you find out that they might be at least slightly more intelligent than a common animal, the limits of their potential intelligence are still left unexplored. What is important about this story is not what humans know about dragons, but what is important about this story is what humans do not know about dragons. At the beginning, though, the dragons are being treated as if they had no more mind and barely more feelings than cattle: they are fought against each other for the sake of shallow entertainment, and they are slaughtered for meat. At the beginning of the book, Yolen barely hints at all about the possibility that these dragons are better than cattle. She reveals this information about them only slowly.
What makes Jane Yolen's strategy so effective is that it can make you horrified at YOURSELF. At the beginning of the book, you are lured into feeling a sense of casual acceptance of how these animals are treated, but by the end of the series, you realize that you would have approved unquestioningly of an intelligent, beautiful, and sensitive creature being slaughtered like cattle. I think that someone has reached the height of masterful storytelling if one can succeed at making their readers question themselves and rethink what they assume about others. Yolen's magic is that she restrains herself from telling you everything at once. Eventually, she does tell you everything, but a part of the story is how you react to these characters and these situations when you do not really have complete information. Jane Yolen's storytelling technique helps people understand what monsters people can become because of their own ignorance, even ones that believe they are good people.
In the end, I find Jane Yolen's dragons to be the most effective. While Anne McCaffrey's dragons are also friendly toward humans, Jane Yolen's dragons are clearly being done a grave injustice by humans, and Jane Yolen clearly demonstrates how even the reader would permit the same injustice if the reader did not have the same extraordinary experience as the story's heroes. Jane Yolen's story-telling changes something in us by teaching us something about ourselves. Jane Yolen's story is one that inspires personal transformation. I believe that, between Yolen, Le Guin, and McCaffrey, I admire all of them, but I regard Yolen as being absolutely unparalleled as a storyteller.
It was really because of Yolen that I came to identify as strongly as I do with dragons. To understand me, understand Jane Yolen's dragons. Their story is my story. The word "heart" is used in two of her titles. The story has dragons in it, but the story is about opening the human heart. What the story is really intended to be about is right there in the title of Heart's Blood. The story is cruel. The story is morbid. The story drags the reader's heart over broken glass. It makes the reader want to become a better person.
The rehabilitation of dragons, in literature, is a criticism of prejudice. The first rehabilitated dragons of literature came only a generation in the wake of the Holocaust, a decade in the wake of the Red Scare, and amid the ongoing blight of Jim Crow. People were fed up with the evil that was being done in the name of attacking false demons. It was becoming increasingly self-evident that "evil" is nothing more than that thing we do when we become convinced that our fellow man is evil. "Heartlessness" is that thing we do when we become convinced that our fellow man is heartless.
Dragons therefore remain very special to me because, to me, they symbolize an uncompromising opening of the heart.
If you are a zoophile, then it has never been more difficult to remain optimistic about society, but if you revisit some of the most powerful literature of the 20th Century, you will start to understand how much this sort of literature changes you on the inside. If this literature can change you, then it can change the world. In our case, our society may have faltered, but there is hope for them. We do not have to give up on them.
Great literature is literature that genuinely changes you forever, and when you feel a change within yourself, it is hard to not have hope that society can also change. Go and find that literature which changes you inside the most, and I can guarantee that you will be able to end the day believing that, someday, everything will be okay.
To me, dragons are almost the definitive symbol of great literature, but I feel that way about dragons at least partly thanks to a person named Jane Yolen.
Keep on reading, my friends, and until next week, I remain
your doggedly faithful zooey blogger,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others,
I finished that series, but what I want to talk to you about is the protest that I went to yesterday evening. I was there, and I am going to give my opinion on it.
The police bring the looting and the graffiti on themselves.
This is not to negate the responsibility of the protesters for instigating it. The protesters want to make a point, which is that their combined numbers put together is a more powerful force than the police, and they are right: with adequate organization, an uprising could win against police. They do this, though, by goading the police into starting to fire off CS gas, usually by pelting them with water bottles.
However, the police know that, in the opinion of the protesters, the CS gas gives the moral justification for looting and the smashing of windows. They know this. They also know that those protesters would rather not really escalate tensions into genuine endangerment of human life. They made the decision to start using CS gas, and it backfired because it was supposed to backfire. It backfired because the protesters correctly believed that they could beat tear gas and other crowd dispersal tactics.
The protesters won, and the cops lost because there were more than a thousand protesters there AT ANY GIVEN TIME. People were coming and going constantly throughout, so there were a lot of people out that had just come in fresh. If you have never been to one of these protests, something you need to know is that the protesters are really in more control than the police when the numbers swell to more than a thousand, at any given time, in a police precinct that only has a few hundred, most of whom are not really mentally equipped or trained for something of this magnitude.
At one point, less than three dozen police were surrounded by nearly one thousand people that were all in one place and chanting the same chants over and over. They were actually trapped, and I am sure they found this to be very stressful. I do not feel sorry for them.
The Hong Kong protesters are proving that the people can win against police, even armed police, and the only way the police can win is by picking the right side.
Police should care more about the accountability and respectability of their occupations more than anybody.
Anyhow, the kind of balls I saw at that protest are the kind of balls I want to see out of zoophiles everywhere, someday. If we stand up with enough pride and with enough conviction, then we can win.
You can start by taking part in that survey if you have signed up for it, already.
Thank you for following me this far, and I remain
Your weekly zooey blogger,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others.
Yes, back to back-dating, and I have no good excuse whatsoever.
I have this terrible lifelong habit of getting sucked into novel series, and the saving grace is that I don't do it very often. I will just put it that way.
The really captivating thing about this series, by Gordon R. Dickson, is how he talks about the relationship between humans and dragons.
The dragons really brought their bad relationship with humans upon themselves. When humans became available as prey, the dragons just hunted them the same way that they would hunt any other animal, and this was not more unusual for them than it would be to hunt pigs, cattle, or any other game that was convenient and easy to catch. Dragons thought nothing more of it, and they probably felt that this would always be the case.
When the humans learned how to fight back, though, the dragons began slowly to develop an almost superstitious fear of humans. There was talk of how going after any human they did not have to was surety that they would get skewered violently upon that human's "horn," generally to refer to a lance.
However, there are some dragons that are talking about the idea of making peace with the humans, which they refer to as "Georges," and at times, they succeed, by manipulating the laws and the personal interests of dragons, at getting large numbers of dragons to fight on the same sides as humans, in one case against an equally supernatural foe.
The relationship is not just happening on its own, though. It is happening one friendship at a time, and it is happening one alliance at a time.
To many readers, the dragons might eventually become just an accessory to the series in the later novels, perhaps a decoration that is preserved only as a charming antique ribbon to tie around the story, but I keep on following any part of the story where the dragons become a part of the story, even though those are increasingly small parts. To me, they ARE the story.
Blood feuds are cruel and inherently despicable. At some point, some of us have to be brave enough to start sticking our necks out to start putting an end to it. It takes a lot more courage to make friends that are hard to make friends out of than it does to do almost anything else in the world. It is also the most useful thing you can ever do.
Thank you for sticking with me, friends.
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others,
As I continue reading through the Dragon Knight series, by Gordon R. Dickson, I think that Gordon R. Dickson was one of those men that feel attracted to women that are attracted to animals. In at least once case, he seemed to express a sense that he might be particularly attracted to the idea of a woman being attracted to himself while he was transformed into an animal, particularly a dragon.
I think that there are many women who tend to have a negative point-of-view on these sorts of men. I think that they tend to have many prejudices. I will not paint any particular portrait, since prejudices are as diverse as people, but prejudice is always the same in one regard: a prejudiced individual tends to assume that they truly have a clear perception of reality and that anybody that is not inclined to share that prejudice merely does not see the world as clearly as they do.
In the case of Gordon R. Dickson, they would be thinking that of a man who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, proceeded to live his life as a successful and award-winning author, was known to everybody as a truly gracious and charming man, and survived to a ripe, old age in spite of his lifelong asthma. While the one marriage he ever entered did not last for very long, this man strikes me as a very positive individual.
I think that the world needs more people like Gordon R. Dickson and fewer of the kinds of people that would have judged him for his feelings.
I am a scaly, which is a kind of "furry" that tends to identify with scaly beasts instead of ones that actually have fur. Specifically, I like to imagine myself in the body of a dragon.
When I am roleplaying as a dragon, though, the irony is that I come across to other people as more authentic, more likable, more open, and more compassionate. In-character, I tend to be less aggressive toward others, and I tend to be more open to other people's ideas. I can even get along with a conservative libertarian gun nut, while I am in-character, in spite of the fact that I am almost the opposite. Getting into character makes me more open-minded, more agreeable, and really more of a person that deserves to be liked by somebody, and I think that that is very special.
I think the reason why it worked was that the things that I think make a human being worth a crap as a person are really the things that human beings can...if they choose to...have in common with a good animal.
Our animal virtues are really indispensable to our character, and we are really lost without them. Without those qualities, even being extremely intelligent really just makes you come across as a pompous, intellectually overbearing wazzock. Without those qualities, being moral just makes you come across as self-righteous and sanctimonious. Without those qualities, even having good manners makes you come across as greasy and manipulative. Without those qualities, a sense of maturity just makes you come across old and bitter. Without those qualities, being cultured makes you come across as hidebound. It is really impossible to have a marketable personality if you do not have something in common with an animal that eats his own shit.
Pretending that I am a dragon is like a piece of string around my finger that reminds me of this very important point. Without the virtues that make someone say, "good dog," there is really no reason why I deserve for anybody to like me. It is a mnemonic device. It helps me remember.
As I grow older, I need that as a crutch less often, but I still like it. It's fun. It's fun for the same reason that playing touch football is just as fun when you are 60 years old and a grandfather as it was when you were 8 years old. There was a time when that simple sport helped you learn fair play and how you could sometimes have a lot more fun if you tried to follow the rules. Maybe you eventually get to a point in your life where you don't need it for that reason anymore, but it never stops being fun. Likewise, something that once helped me figure out how to be a decent human being still has meaning to me.
There are many furries that try to deny the relationship between zoophilia and furry, but I think that they are fools. The relationship is a simple one.
There is nothing that distinguishes a man from a dog that means that he deserves for me to ever feel attracted to him. It is pardonable for a man to be different from a dog, but it is only that and nothing more, pardonable.
It makes just as much sense if I love one as if I love the other.
Being a "furry" just means that I feel the same way about myself. If I cannot be liked for the same reasons why someone would like a dog, then I do not really believe that I deserve to be liked.
The difference is merely in the direction in which it is viewed.
Until next time I remain your devoted zooey blogger,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others,
I am abysmally tired of the back-dating. Look, if I have to come home from my morning thing on Saturdays and have no place away that I can sit down, then I am always going to get sucked into whatever is going on at home or get entranced with something or other that is not even slightly related to blogging. I could keep on doing Saturdays only as long as that cafe and bakery was open and I could sit there without interruption away from everybody.
I am moving the blog to Sunday until my hangout opens back up. At minimum, Sunday is my single day of the week that I have that I am not working in one way or the other, merely having a routine lunch with a local friend and not for very long. Anyhow...
This week's SUNDAY blog is going to be made as a formal apology to the tune by Erik Satie, Gymnopédie No. 1. To all of those that have respect for this tune and its meaning and purpose and its intrinsic beauty, I am sorry. At times, I get caught up in my own fiery passion, as an activist, and at those times, I can forget how quickly a flame of passion can burn itself out if it is not tempered with kindness. The tune Gymnopédie No. 1 is kindness itself, even as overplayed as it is. Some songs truly are overplayed in spite of having no redeeming qualities at all, but this is not the case here. The song, if played properly and with a sense of heart and soul and personal authenticity, teaches us to care, and it could never truly be played in the same way twice and still be Gymnopédie No. 1 as it was intended to be, a true baring of the heart.
Us activists who have a desire to change things for the BETTER can never do so without kindness as a part of what we do. Without kindness as a part of what compels us forward, we might change things, all the same, but we could never change things in a way that we ought.
Defiance and anger and passion are an inevitable consequence of what us zoophiles are going through. We are being defamed. Prejudice and lies are getting spread about us to every quarter of society. We are being cast as ogres, in the public eye, villains of seemingly superhuman heartlessness, and naturally, we are pissed. This is pardonable.
However, there is a difference between pardoning anger and believing that anger really helps us. It does not. Anger is the bleeding of a wound, and if we do not staunch it, we will drain ourselves of the last strength that can hold us together. We should no more feel guilty over our anger than someone that has been stabbed should feel guilty over bleeding, but to let the life blood flow out of us without doing anything to try to slow it down is self-defeating madness.
Giving ourselves a chance to heal and remember what we really believe is the only victory that human beings can have against prejudice and hate. Freemasonry, which is--in the most broad sense--the pursuit by a group of people of becoming better citizens for the betterment and unity of all of society, is only possible if we open up our hearts to each other and let friendship and kindness in.
However, while anger is not really an effective weapon against evil, our own pride in ourselves is. We must learn to be unwavering in our fundamental beliefs. We must learn to defend ourselves with intelligence and maturity. We must learn to stand up for civil discourse as the only permissible discourse that must ever be accepted as valid. We must learn a dedication to good taste. Evil-doers prey the most readily upon those that do not take pride in themselves.
The spirit that lies at the heart of Gymnopédie No. 1 only answers a part of what it means to take pride in ourselves, which is to return ourselves to a sense of civility and therefore squash the infantile reflex to cry out in anguish, but it cannot stand alone. Pride really has five basic dimensions that are reflections of our five senses. Gymnopédie No. 1 speaks only to that which represents hearing. It is a good start, but it is only a start. There is much more left to do.
Thank you for continuing to follow my weekly ramblings. Someday, I hope that my own voice will be lost and forgotten among a mighty throng of more eloquent and effective voices than my own, but until then, I remain
your diligent and devoted zooey blogger,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! I know that's not what the date on the blog's title says, but as sure as I stop back-dating these things and say, "I will just do it on Tuesdays," I will be the Saturday afterward before I get them out. I will not have that.
I will start releasing these things on Saturday again when my favorite cafe and bakery finally reopens, so I can start sitting there reading and blogging through the afternoon again. Once I get home, on Saturdays, I am surrounded by distractions, including my charming cat...
The Dragon and the George, by Gordon R. Dickson, turned into me reading the entire series. His admiration of science, though, often exceeds his knowledge of it. You cannot really use moldy bread and urine to treat an infected wound. The mold often harbors dangerous neurotoxins, and the components of the penicillium mold that sometimes act against bacteria are not concentrated in high enough quantities to overcome the potential dangerous effects of stuffing moldy bread into an open wound. Furthermore, urine only has a high ammonia content after it has aged, and until then, it is not really sterile. Even then, it would need to be filtered carefully. They used to put stale urine into small beer, calling it "lant," because the ammonia tended to make the product slightly safer to drink (not by much) than local drinking water, but they at least bothered to age it and hopefully at least tried to filter out the impurities. In any case, Gordon R. Dickson is an excellent storyteller, but do not take his advice on bush medicine, please.
The very simplicity of his storytelling style is really what attracts me to Dickson. I have read more sophisticated literature, yes, but I found it less heartening and to be less useful as a distraction from the fact that the world around me was burning. Where is that gif that everyone posts of a little guy casually drinking coffee as his house burns around him. Anyhow, I have been enjoying the book.
However, I really ought to get the literature off my brain on the job. Literature does not help you get highly physical work done, and chants to the three-headed goddess that dances among the corpses of the dead do help you get highly physical work done. The chant was conceived by people that worked in similar occupations. I help run an equestrian center, you see.
I can assure you that I have a very strong sense of professionalism, and my occupation is not ever used as a venue for exploring my zooiness. I have very strong feelings about professionalism! It constitutes a part of my personal beliefs.
Okay, fine, I kiss them occasionally! But just that! *blushes hotly*
Anyway, if you are a zoo or a zoo ally, I strongly recommend reading The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson if you are inclined toward pure pleasure reading. The scenes in which the wolf Aragh interacts with human/humanoid women are substantially zooey, and perhaps there could be something about himself that Gordon R. Dickson never told us overtly. Also, I find it very curious that the hero of the storyline actually gave serious consideration toward transforming his wife and himself into a dragon, kiting off to a cave somewhere, and laying a clutch of eggs together.
However, I am giving far too many spoilers, there! Read the book yourself!
As far as how this book affects my thoughts on zooey advocacy, I feel strongly that the 1970's may have presented the zooey community with several opportunities for zoophiles of the time to start a movement of their own. Subtle or none-too-subtle references to the idea of animal sexuality, at least, in a great deal of literature provided us with fertile soil in which to plant the seeds of a movement. There WAS a movement, of sorts, but it was...sleepy. Too sleepy.
We cannot have a movement that gives us the sense that we are listening to Erik Satie's Gymnopedie no. 1. After all, the song reflects the fact that the man sat and drank himself to death and is therefore in its way sinister in its own right! Someday, we will have another generation like the Boomers come through, and we must be prepared to move with fire, passion, and defiance. We must be ready for rebellion!
However, rebellions are not built at a moment's notice, and truly effective rebellions are really built out of teamwork and cooperation. When rebels figure out how to show up on time and learn how to act as team-players, then rebellions are always successful. The Nordic socialist states were so successful at fulfilling the core aims of Marxist philosophy because the people that live in those nations are rule-followers, by nature. They made social revolution work because they did not act like typical rebels. They worked as a team, and when they made agreements, they stuck to those agreements. When people that are forced, by the unfortunate circumstances of their culture, to be rebels are really rule-followers and team-players, by nature, then their rebellions are always successful.
The hero from Gordon R. Dickson's The Dragon and the George did not go it alone, but he was not even allowed to move forward without learning how to work well with his companions as a member of a team. He did nothing alone. He was often guided by his allies. Such thinking constitutes the makings of a movement.
Anyhow, I will at least try to get my next entry out by the posted date, this Saturday. Until then, I remain
Your dedicated, although consistently tardy, zooey blogger,
P.S.: I want to note that Gymnopedie no. 1 is really one of my favorite songs, and I really have no animosity toward it.