Dear zoos, zooey allies, and interested others,
I finally finished The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littel. That was actually days ago, but it’s been a busy week. It was a difficult read, but to be honest, it was for a local book club. This book was particularly hard for me to read, though, because I am not just a zoophile, but I am also a transgender woman that grew up as part of a conservative evangelical family in the 1990’s. While the Holocaust constitutes an order of magnitude more serious of a crime, I have seen hate. I have seen how hate spreads. Hate is evil in a way that makes me want to push the world into the sun. Any book about the Holocaust is disturbing to me, and it is therefore all the more imperative that I read it.
As I said before, Jonathan Littel may have shortcomings as an author, but his audacity raises him to a level of excellence. He triggers a lot of “Is he really going there? He’s going all the WAY there,” sorts of moments. I find that his storytelling reveals that he also has numerous handicaps, but in my opinion, he successfully leans on his strengths.
World War II was an audacious war. It was like nothing that we had done before. It is true that the Mongolian Empire wiped out entire cultures in a manner that would make Himmler blush, and what incoming British and French settlers did to the Native Americans was actually worse. What was really remarkable about World War II was not what we did, but what was remarkable about it was how little we could hide from the truth of what it was. Our ability to transmit unfiltered information had become so great that it was harder for us to spin lies and half-truths about it.
However, the most useful discussion in the book, by Littel, was the underlying “folkish” subculture that lay behind the Nazi government. The folkish subculture held the belief that the human race was made up of distinct “folk,” which were ethnic groups they believed to be associated with certain geographic areas. The idea was that there were certain things that people “had to do” because they were a certain “folk,” and that to do otherwise was “against their nature,” which was their primary explanation for why people were unhappy. The folkish movement also wanted to revive Germanic paganism, and some of them saw “the two churches” as an extension of “Judeo-Bolshevism.”
In fact, I really wish that Littel had provided more insights on folkish ideology. I ultimately had to so some research of my own on it. The folkish ideology turns out to have been a widespread subculture that took root during the late 19th Century and grew during the early 21st Century, and one of its central themes was based on treating the human race as if they could be divided up into distinct ethnic groups that inherently belong to specific geographic areas. Folkish ideology was saturated in romanticism and therefore romantic nationalism.
Long story short, the folkish movement successfully created a subculture in which extreme traditionalism, and the rejection of modernity, was billed as “cool,” and the subculture caught fire in the imaginations of German youth that grew up in the wake of World War II. For an example of how right-wingers are still trying to use these kinds of techniques to manipulate young people, I bid you observe attempts by right-wing politicians to revive the “mullet” hairstyle to try to give themselves a greasy “punk rocker” kind of look. Through intensive propaganda, far-right politicians were, over the course of a single generation, able to inflame their people into a state of ultra-nationalist populism.
The proponents of the folkish ideology were simply wrong at a very deep level, and I can illustrate the reasons why by using the furry fandom as an analogy. The furry fandom is not really any one thing. For instance, there was one specific cohort of furries that once lingered at the outskirts of sci-fi conventions and filking meet-ups. However, there are also many furries that are just hardcore, die-hard Disney fans. Some furries only like anthros. Some furries only like “ferals.” Some furries are specific group of non-spiritual therians. To some furries, their character is an alter-ego. To other furries, their character is a representation of themselves. To some furries, their character is a purely fictitious construct that they tell stories about but which they do not really see as autobiographical.. Some furries are only in it for the porn. Some furries are only in it for the literature. The furry fandom is really a polyglot, and it has always been a polyglot.
To attempt to explain what happened to SOME people in Germany, suppose that a sub-subculture, within the fandom, had this grand idea that they were going to “get to the root of what it truly is to be a furry,” and they developed this rigid, systematic definition of what “being a true furry” was really all about. Let’s say they marched around telling other people that they were “not doing furry properly,” and eventually, they started spreading propaganda about how “alien influences” were “deteriorating the body of the fandom,” framing these influences as a diseases or parasites. Imagine that they were charismatic enough that they could stir people into a state of anger about how these “diseases” and “parasites” had weakened their wonderful furry fandom, and the furry fandom came to be dominated by a “fearless leader” that was going to be the “salvation of furry.”
Any historically conversant German would probably tell me that I am oversimplifying, but I believe that I am close enough to understanding the subject that I can use it for teaching a moral lesson about the dangers of entitive essentialism.
There are two types of essentialism.
One type of essentialism is naturalistic essentialism, and naturalistic essentialism is not always bad. For instance, I am transgender, and it benefits me if most people understand that this is naturally a part of me. My gender is not a “social construct.” My gender is a part of me that I cannot really be separated from. In other cases, naturalistic essentialism actually can be harmful, such as in the case of nationality: nationality is not naturally a part of anybody, and it is usually possible for most people to fully integrate, eventually, into a new country. In most cases where the assumption of naturalness is harmful, the problem is that that assumption is just objectively wrong. In the case of my gender, it’s actually true: I really am stuck with it.
Entitive essentialism is really more dangerous. Entitive essentialism is the assumption that, if someone has a certain identity, then that person must always represent the stereotypes that go with that identity. For instance, it would constitute entitive essentialism if someone assumed, incorrectly, that I was certain to “freak out” if someone ever misgendered me. It does not really make me angry if somebody misgenders me. I just think they have bad grammar. Another slight that I make against entitive essentialism is that I have never “dressed as a woman.” I think that trousers look sexy, and functional pockets are the cat’s pyjamas. I like my shirts to be made out of cotton, and I prefer crew-neck t-shirts because my shoulders burn easily. You do not know that some transgender people are like me until you have met me. Once you have met me, then you know.
In order to avoid entitive essentialism, what I suggest is getting to know actual members of groups that you are curious about. The more of them that you get to know, the more you understand that they are really diverse, and they can really overlap and intersect with other groups. You merely do not and cannot know that until you have gotten to know them.
After all, if you pass judgment over somebody that you do not really know, then you are not really judging anybody at all, except the demons within yourself.
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others (yes, I am still dating titles to the most recent Saturday),
I have decided to start publishing at furry venues again.
I have come more and more to believe that it is usually unhealthy for zoophiles to linger at zoo-only venues. They feed off of each others' paranoia, and in some cases, I have observed them forming a distorted and ridiculous idea of what kinds of people non-zoos are.
If you are a non-zoo, I know that most non-zoos are decent people, but I have trouble getting other zoophiles to believe that. Many of them have been victims of cyber-bullying or even violent persecution or the derailment of their careers, and because of those experiences, they tend to feed off of each others' paranoia and misanthropy. They tend to form an impression that non-zoophiles are mentally unbalanced, dangerous zealots. Some of them seem to have come to actively hate non-zoophiles, and I think that minority separatism is just as harmful as any other form of hate. Most of my friends that know I am a zoo are non-zoos, and the only reason why I even talk to other zoophiles is for the sake of taking part in zooey activism. Outside of fighting back against hate, I am more interested in great literature and classic roleplay.
I am currently on The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littel. It is a story of World War II written from the perspective of a Nazi SS officer, technically a "jurist" that had the job of watching the proceedings at death camps and concentration camps and then writing reports back to his leaders. It's a grim but edifying work of literature. The protagonist is a closeted bisexual man, though that actually plays only a small role in the story. The book is really one of the most grisly things that I have ever read, though. For people that have never read Holocaust literature before, this stuff could give you nightmares. Littel takes no prisoners, and he just keeps going. He does have shortcomings as an author, but I believe that his boldness and shamelessness makes up for them.
Besides my ongoing interest in reading such edifying nightmare fuel, I am also in the process of organizing a D&D group to play a few mini-quests. I am deliberately trying to pull together a mixed zooey and non-zooey group, and the most likely DM is a trusted friend of mine that goes way back with me. I am hopeful of getting skilled enough at the game to DM myself in the future. While I am only experienced with pleasant and aimless freeform roleplay, I think that it is time that I did something a little bit more exciting and invigorating. Beating up a few fictitious kobolds for fun sounds more and more like medicine.
Prior to the wave of anti-zoophile hate that reached its crescendo in 2018, those were the kinds of things that I preferred to think about, and to tell you the truth, I am convinced that those are the sorts of things that will still matter to me forty years from now. In the end, great literature and classic roleplay are really the things that I care about. Those are the things that have always had the most meaning to me. Those are my heart song, and that heart song will outlast waves of hate and ignorance, which by then will be a faded ember that serves as a part of our culture's immunity against evil.
That is also the reason why I will only linger in zoophile-themed chats for the sake of taking part in activism. If you are a zoophile, then my opinion is that the only reason why you should want to know other zoophiles is to help fight back against hate, and I don't just mean hate against zoophiles: I also mean fighting back against separatist sentiments among your fellow zoophiles. Help restore mutual trust between zoophiles and non-zoophiles. Help your fellow zoophiles recognize that the psychopaths that rage and bombast against us do not really represent how normal non-zoophiles think or act. Don't let them use "normie" with a negative connotation. Separatists are just as bad for us as those zealots that preach hate against us.
In totally unrelated news, I am officially a transgender woman. I am starting the spironolactone this week. Once I have started the estrogen, I am going to double down on my physical fitness efforts, and I might even start using weights. Do not forget that estrogen is a steroid, and as a steroid, it actually does enhance muscle strength through the action of myosin, which subtly improves the quality of muscle fibers. Within the next three months, I hope to look like a regular cheetah. I really find it easy to get into shape, but I have been stymied in the past because of its unpleasant effect on my gender dysphoria. The greatest thing about running, though, is that running gives me a chance to listen to my audiobooks without the risk of getting interrupted by my husband! Wacky face!
Your now returning zooey pen-pal,
I have just been very excited about weeks to come, and I have been so distracted. For a change, I am not going to put in a late update and continue the next week. I'm just going to write something more thorough the day after tomorrow.
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and interested others,
I just can't, this week. I have an appointment, on Tuesday, to see someone over my gender dysphoria. I have managed it very well with herbs and by roleplaying a lot online, up to this point, but I have finally reached a point of stability and regularity in my life. I feel like I can support myself through this difficult transition. I really strongly want to get this show on the road.
Ironically, a part of what drove me to do something was that I also want to eventually talk about the fact that I am a zoo. I am really painfully introverted in person, and it is very hard for me to find opportunities to talk to people that do not already know me online. I want to start coming out more generally.
As soon as LGBT friendly nightclubs in my area are open again, I am going to start going out one day a week, every week, and I intend to be open about being a zoophile. I have become a lot more brave, at this point in my life, thanks to the courageous members of the zooey community that have been my inspirations.
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and confused others,
For the past year, I had drifted away from my initial literary focus, and this was because I had very little time for reading in 2020. I am getting back into the groove with it, though. I have become active again in my local book club, and I am using up loads of saved-up Audible credits.
The last book that I finished was Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey. I was not really all that impressed by it, to be perfectly honest. The authors (there were two) clearly cribbed most of their plot devices and imagery from video games, and their explanation of consequentialist morality is stilted and lacking in any real comprehension of how consequentialism actually works: they portray consequentialism as pure Machiavellianism and an "ends justify the means" style of thinking.
The misunderstood aspect of consequentialism is that, in its most pure exercise, it does not prescribe either good ends or bad ends, good means or bad means. Consequentialism is merely the assertion that you are responsible for the outcomes of your actions. Even if you do not know them, you are responsible for whether you attempt to learn them or do not attempt to learn them. Consequentialism is more descriptive than prescriptive: instead of telling you what moral decisions to make, it confronts you with the outcomes of your actions and says, "The ball is in your court." Rather than being a commandment, it is a tool of measure that leaves it to your own nature to determine your direction.
The book is really incapable of critiquing consequentialism without appealing to consequentialism: authors that attempt to criticize consequentialism invariably say, "You may think that consequentialism is a great idea, but if people really lived in that way, look at these dire consequences!" The argument is circular. Therefore, it was not even really successful as an attack on consequentialism.
Besides, the only real means of defending a deontological view of morality would be to argue that Don Quixote was truly a hero because he lived his life according to his knightly code. He was not a hero: he was a choad.
I recognize the need for many different perspectives on morality, but deontology needs to be set on fire along with most of its adherents. It does not provide the human race with a single drop of good that rule utilitarianism does not.
However, the book does get one thing right: one of the characters demonstrates a very important phenomenon called "metacognition." Metacognition constitutes an awareness of what you are thinking. It is like the narrator voice from a children's story describing your own thoughts. Metacognition is, for some reason, deeply interwoven with the capacity for empathy. Perhaps the reason for this link is that metacognition is really similar to a sense of empathy toward ourselves: being able to understand our own thoughts is perhaps the first step to being able to understand the thoughts of others. I actually liked that character.
Back on track,
Anyhow, I am still working on The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littel. I might be done with it by midway through next week, but I will post something unrelated this Saturday to try to get myself back on schedule.
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and interested others,
I have been having seasonal fluctuations in my gender dysphoria for several years, now, and whenever it comes through, it can be highly distracting. I drop things, I forget where I am walking, and I generally act more like I already am.
Something that I do not talk about very often is the fact that, besides being a zoophile, I am also gender non-binary, but when I was 14, the term "gender non-binary" did not exist. When I was 14 years old, I self-identified as a "hermaphrodite," which was a term that I had learned in one of my science classes. Because there was no other language for me, at the time, the identity stuck for a long while. Most young people today understand the term "gender non-binary" better.
I have a friend that keeps citing a single case study, where a cross-dressing child with borderline learning disability was treated with an anti-psychotic drug. This is annoying to me. I know enough about the actual practice of science that I tend to ask questions like, "What was your sample size?" and "What variables did you control for?" and "How did you deal with outliers?" My friend is worried that I am being rash or going with some kind of herd.
The source of my friend's concerns is partly based on many people's reaction to the sheer ferocity with which the transgender rights movement has moved forward. Efforts at reform have been moving fast, and many people in the western world are still trying to come to grips with what all of it means. My friend does not mean to feel shaken by it, but the movement has advanced very fast. A lot of rules are changing very fast. Many people are still trying to process it.
However, I am not a movement. I am a person. I have had a quarter of a century to think about this, and for much of that time, I was alone. I did not grow up with a transgender movement. I was very much in the woods. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. The transgender movement as most trend-followers know it did not come until after I had already gotten a pretty good idea of what I was. The transgender movement makes it easier for me to be open about this dimension of myself, but I was there first.
You generations come and go. All of you think, "This is the final change. This is the last change. It will be we that get it right. It will be we that finally arrive upon the final answer." You might not vocalize it, but you live it. It is not enough for you to believe that you are smarter than your moms and dads, but you also think you are smarter than your own kids.
The truth is that you are not really smarter than either. Your parents were the way that they were for a reason, and they were doing the best they could with limited information, just like you, just like your kids. I get it. You are doing the best you can. You give it your all. You put all of your heart into trying to get it right.
You can figure us zoophiles out, too. My people, I have seen you do magnificent things. After all of the great things you have done, I believe you can figure out how to coexist peacefully with us zoophiles. I am not giving up on you. I believe in you, and other zoophiles should also believe in you.
Over the past quarter of a century, the most important thing that I have learned about the human race is that I should always bet on the side of success anytime someone tries to have a serious, honest, heartfelt discussion with them. It might take them a generation, but when you look back, that will feel like the wing-beat of a mayfly.
The human race can do many wonderful and incredible things, but they really stink at staying the same for very long. They sure do try, every generation. Every generation thinks that the next generation is going to look at their model of life and say, "Oh, yeah. Very well-done. Thumbs-up. Five stars." Children are mean, especially to their moms and dads. That is the wonderful thing about them. That is what keeps the generations changing, over and over. The fact that we hold our moms and dads accountable, every generation, is really what makes us wonderful and special. We are special because we are hopelessly incompetent at remaining the same.
My people, when we go to the stars, things will be even weirder among this daffy and beautiful species. When the generation ships are being built in the skies above, the people looking up at them would both amaze and horrify us if we ever met them. We could never understand them. It will not be our world, though. It will be theirs.
If one of you happens to live long enough to gaze upon those great generation ships, though, then I want to ask you to send them this message for me:
"Beloved progeny to come,
I don't think you are finished, either.
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and interested others,
Sometimes, I make bold-sounding anti-authoritarian statements, but the weird thing is that I am also a supporter of the rule-of-law...at the same time, for the same reasons.
The idea that we should live under any kind of social contract or constitution or protocol or etiquette or guidelines or rules or any kind of abstract social agreement is anti-authoritarian. The reason why this is an anti-authoritarian idea is that this idea takes a substantial amount of power away from individual whim.
For example, if there is no rule that says that you may not play loud music on your stereo in your particular neighborhood, then your neighbor cannot bring a gun into your yard and order you to cut it off. Unless there is a local ordinance against noise pollution, you have tacit permission to do what you are doing, no matter how much it annoys your neighbors, and if they do not like this fact, then they can become more active in local political affairs if silence really means that much to them. However, something that may give your neighbor pause before attempting to push for such an ordinance is that perhaps your neighbor sometimes enjoys playing some music while washing his car during the summertime. Therefore, when you were approached by your highly annoyed neighbor, you could point out that your neighbor clearly enjoys exercising the same privilege. If enough people agree that there should indeed be a noise ordinance, then it is true that those people should have a right to enjoy peace and quiet in the homes that they have paid good money for. As long as most people enjoy having the privilege of making as much noise as they please, your neighbor does not really have the power to silence you.
For us zoophiles, one of the benefits of the social contract is how it can protect unpopular or misunderstood minority groups. In my country, the United States, we have very strict laws against cyber-stalking. Not all zoophiles want to speak out publicly, but those of us that do cannot be silenced based on threats or harassment. Those that engage in harassment against us or our employers or our families or our religious congregations are committing a serious crime.
Even if the government makes a law that would technically seem to brand you as a criminal based on your unique sexuality, the law still protects you, as hard as this may be to believe. For example, a prosecuting attorney cannot possibly make a case against you without hard evidence. No evidence, no case. Furthermore, you are never under any obligation to acknowledge having specifically done anything illegal. If the only evidence that can be brought against you is your stated beliefs or identity or views on morality, then it is very difficult to even press charges against you, much less have those charges result in a conviction in the United States.
You should also be aware of the various approaches to jurisprudence, which is a subject that usually comes up in discussions about constitutional law but which also applies sometimes to statutory law. While almost all judges really use a variety of approaches to jurisprudence, different judges have different leanings. While I am far from being an expert on case law, I have enough general knowledge about the subject to discuss one of them that I am particularly aware of. Even though the schools of thought in regard to constitutional interpretation do not always directly affect the interpretation of statutory law, these ideas can nevertheless have pervasive influence on how jurists and attorneys think about case law.
Under the purposive approach to jurisprudence, it is not just the text of the law that defines interpretation, but it is also relevant what sorts of arguments and documents were used in order to promote that law in the court of law. Therefore, if a legislature were falsely led to believe that human-animal sex were inherently violent based on documents that have since been discredited, a defense attorney could argue that the intent of that particular statute was clearly to prevent an act of unequivocal violence. If new scientific research were to emerge demonstrating that zoophiles were a distinct group of people that were clearly a differently motivated group of people from animal-torturers, then a defense attorney could argue that the law was clearly intended to punish animal-torturers, based on the assumptions that had been made by the legislature.
Another thing that is on your side is a legal concept called stare decisis. What this means is that the way that a statute has been used in the past tends to have a strong effect on how it will be used in the future. As you could probably guess, laws that are intended for protecting animals from harm have a much higher likelihood of being enforced when the person that reported that crime actually observed an animal in distress. Therefore, the preponderance of cases that actually resulted in convictions are likely to be instances where an animal was truly seriously injured. The more that those kinds of cases result in the majority of actual convictions, the less likely it is that the same statute will be used differently in the future.
In the United States, though, every defendant has a right to a grand jury, which is a very important part of our democracy (think about that next time you are called to serve on a jury). Therefore, public perceptions are likely to have a powerful effect on the decisions of a jury. If most people that are likely to be called to a jury regard animal-sex as inherently harmful, then this is likely to lead to a litany of convictions against non-violent zoophiles, but if most people believe that there is a remarkable difference between a zoophile and an animal-torturer, most people that were charged with a crime would have at least one ardent defender on a grand jury, and since the majority of jurists just want to go home, one ardent defender is enough to bring the likelihood of convictions down to almost zero. To understand how one jurist can stop an unjust conviction, even in the face of strong evidence, you should consider watching a film named 12 Angry Men (1957).
The role of the jurist in a real world court-of-law is one of the reasons why we zoophiles should be supportive of those brave zoos that are attempting to improve the public visibility of us zoophiles that are at least trying to be benevolent and peaceful. Many zoophiles are understandably shy about public visibility, but this shyness is self-defeating and misguided. It only takes one determined jurist to stop a conviction. Self-righteous jerks will almost invariably grow impatient to go home because self-righteous jerks are morally shallow. The people that believe that we are benevolent and undeserving of persecution will stand up for us. It is therefore critically important for us zoophiles to have a voice, especially as long as we live under a democracy. We must reach out to society if we want a chance to reach those noble souls that would understand that we are at heart benevolent and peaceful because that is something that matters deeply to certain people in our society. Reaching out to our people matters.
The best kind of social contracts for all of us to live under, including zoophiles, are those that are based on the general principles of democracy. Maybe you are a strong libertarian or even a true anarchist, and you think that any kind of government at all is a mistake. Nevertheless, democracy is the best mistake that we have made, so far. Out of all forms of government, a democracy has the greatest likelihood of protecting your freedom as long as you choose to live in peace with others in your society. If you choose to be a good neighbor, then your neighbors will usually be on your side, so think about that the next time your neighbor wants you to turn your music down. In the long-run, democracies usually tend to protect people that choose to live in peace with their neighbors.
Even in the absence of democracy, life is more free under the rule-of-law. The rule-of-law limits how much those in power can do to hurt you or to disrupt your life. It protects you and those that are dear to you from dangerous vigilantes. It gives you the means to defend your reputation and your freedom when your right to both are brought into question. The rule-of-law is not just a sword to be used by the self-righteous, but it is also a shield to be used by the humble. As long as we live under the rule-of-law, then you are probably safe from anything too terrible happening to you.
I might make cheeky claims of being an "anarchist," but I also know that I would not be more free without the rule-of-law there to protect me. The rule of law is what helps preserve my freedom to call myself an anarchist, whether half-jokingly or seriously. I am indeed only halfway serious when I proclaim myself to be an anarchist, but I am dead-serious when I say that my views are anti-authoritarian. Because of that, I value the rule-of-law. The rule-of-law helps to defend my rights, even though it also stops me from threatening the rights of others.
In the name of freedom,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and interested others,
My gray-muzzle friend and I have been trying to catch up on Bojack, but this is just a very long series. We're probably going to have to defer the rest of the series to next time he is in town. That said, I have already blogged about the series.
Developing very well established friendships can be a double-edged sword for community. On one hand, it is great to have a fellow zoo that you trust well enough to open up to entirely, but on the other hand, it can become hard to meet new people thereafter because of you and they having found a comfort zone.
However, friendships always evolve, and they cannot help but to evolve. For people that think in generations, there is no such thing as a shiftless rut, but life goes through various stages and transformations, leaving the essential constants intact while altering just about everything else. Two people might touch each others' lives for a few months or a few years, and they might go their separate ways for a few months or a few years. If they never really part on terms of bitterness, they will eventually find each other again, sometimes to actually do things they once only wanted to talk about doing.
For example, I am currently at a stage of life where long paid vacations are not really a part of my life. A trip out to the American Midwest is currently not in the cards for me. If I ever got the great desk job that I am applying for, then I would be able to think about those kinds of ideas. Right now, I don't have the luxury of thinking in terms of long trips out to other parts of the country. I cannot think in terms of traveling to faraway places. I am thinking in terms of binging on television series and making endless hours of conversation.
Even though Bojack is just a television series that I am binging, right now, it has still taught me something about life. The best kinds of shows do. I should not get caught up in the future, which I have no control over, or the past, which I have no ability to change. The show is trying to teach us about being emotionally present in the moment that we are living in.
Mr. Peanut Butter does this presence in the moment trick well; however, Mr. Peanut Butter has the alternate tragedy of only ever living in the moment, and he is ultimately a shallow individual that is happy, most of the time, but also incapable of understanding very much. He enjoys just about every moment that he is in, but that is all that he really does, and eventually, he starts to awaken to the truth: he does indeed have a great tragedy of his own because, in the end, Mr. Peanut Butter is a one-trick dog.
However, if all that someone really does is sad, deep personal introspection, they are likewise a one-trick pony. They are so busy with this sort of deep emotional state that they spend their entire lives underwater, looking up at the world through the blue funk that they live in and thinking more heavily than they really need to about the consequences of what they do. They end up sabotaging themselves and their lives because they come to believe that they are incapable of being happy, having found unhappiness somewhere in everything. We would be shallow if we never stopped to think deeply about life, but if that were all that we did, then we would never really be a part of life: it would just be a television screen that we sat in front of and watched as if that life belonged to somebody that we could never really be.
That television screen is a metaphor for dissociation. Most people are afraid to think about dissociation because of its association with mental illness. Almost everybody dissociates, in some way or another, at times in their lives, though. Derealization is one of the most commonplace forms of dissociation, and it constitutes the sense that one is looking at life from far away. This experience is not really unhealthy, either. It is an opportunity to observe ourselves like fish in a tank for a while, and it gives us a chance to look upon our own lives as spectators. Dissociation is great for our health if we take it in moderation. It is a candidate for microdosing.
Being present with the person that I am in the process of getting to know is okay because I know, from experience, that that is not where we will always be. Because I am not always present in the moment, I am not as fearful of being in different kinds of moments.
The reader might ask, though, what does this have to do with zoophilia? One might ask, how does a deep and continuously evolving friendship connect with the experience of being a zoo?
Our animals are wonderful, but they cannot fill in the parts of our lives that crave seemingly endless philosophical conversations or the desire to do something with our lives like plan a trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia to get in touch with an ancient traditional Buddhism that has gone virtually unchanged for centuries or Moab, Utah to follow a procession of rich Sikhs up an off-road trail. Perhaps there is such a thing as a zoophile that is truly happier if they never meet another human being in their entire life, but that is not me.
However, if this story becomes merely about my experience and not about my experience as a zoo, am I therefore losing focus? Well, maybe zoophiles could stand to lose focus on just being people that are sexually and romantically attracted to animals. If all we understood about ourselves was our status as a minority group, then we would go crazy. I think that every zoophile should take a break from thinking about zoo and just binge a television series or go on an adventure with a friend.
One thing that social persecution does to some of us, which is very unhealthy, is that it draws what would otherwise be a relatively small part of the background of our lives into the foreground. If it had not been for the 2018 outbreak of anti-zoo extremism, then zoo would have just been a weird thing that happened between me and some of my animals, once in a while, and generally been forgotten. I never would have felt like I needed to identify as a zoo or as anything truly different from my fellow human being. I cared more about other things that were weird about me.
The 2018 outbreak of anti-zoo extremism made me feel very concerned about both my own welfare and the welfare of many other zoos, and I wish that these phony crusaders and zealots would just back off and let me go back to being a regular person. Let me go back to being an ancient Greek nerd. Let me go back to being a secular humanist that is ironically obsessed with world religions. I have a marriage and a career. The single worst thing that anti-zoo extremists have done to me is to make zoo more of a part of my life than I ever really invited it to be.
It cannot be undone, either. As long as these horrible anti-zoo laws are on the books, which they probably will be for a long time, it will be necessary for us zoophiles to continue trying to improve our relations with society and with law enforcement so that nobody will read those laws and form the false conclusion that we are somehow dangerous or criminal-minded or capable of other kinds of crimes. The damage is done: because of current conditions, we have no choice except to continue the conversation. We are stuck with it. Now that he conversation has been started, the only logical conclusion is for everybody to eventually have spent a while thinking deeply about human-animal sex.
Animals are not just capable of consent, but I think the animal concept of consent is really, in some ways, better. As humans, we cannot escape the mixture of gift and curse that we are saddled with by our overgrown prefrontal cortex. There is a reason why this organ does not usually grow so large, in nature: it is not really universally advantageous, and it fills an otherwise perfectly functional ape with dark and painful existential dread. Our animals do, however, have the same basic structures, but they also have a combination between lesser capacity and lesser complication in their lives. They do indeed care if they really wanted to do something, but they do not form the convoluted and emotionally complicated abstract thoughts that humans cannot help but to form and to torment themselves with. This is why we have so much toxic politics surrounding our sexuality and every other subtopic that is related to our free will. This is why we should be cautious about the assumption that the large prefrontal cortex of a human being is really something that puts us above other animals. They can be an anchor of the kind that drags us down into emotional cycles and meaningless political feuds that really ultimately hurt us, and this is why the deep and sophisticated Bojack does not always live a better life than his nemesis, Mr. Peanut Butter. We have an opportunity to experience a wonderful gift, as a species, if we would only recognize that there are limits to how much that gift can really do for us. It can give us a depth of feeling, knowledge, and experience, and those things are wonderful. It cannot give us happiness in the moment. We, as humans, must eventually learn to distinguish between what our unique qualities, as a species, can do for us and what our unique qualities, as a species, cannot do for us. Good sex is something that a mouse can do, and if we, as a species, would let go of our need to always be only the things that make us different from the mouse, I think that we could really have a more complete experience of being human. The common ancestor between ourselves and mice--and farther back, between ourselves and dogs--is still somewhere inside us, and accepting that this is a part of our experience is the key to unraveling the deep existential crisis that our species is going through. Perhaps it is not utterly unique as a human curse, but the extent to which it hurts us is unique.
I still do not believe that I have communicated my feelings about consent fully, and I leave out a large amount of context, there, that I think would only be understood by someone that knew me well. The point is not that I think that animals lack any capacity at all for consent, but the human concept of consent is something that I see as deeply flawed and not even very good for humans. The relatively simple concept of consent that animals can understand, I think, does more because it asks for less. The intricate cortex of the human frontal lobe is something that we humans can get lost in, and because we can get so lost in our own brains, we often have no clear idea of what, if anything, we want. We are prone to paralysis of analysis and existential crisis because of our false belief that we can solve all of our problems by throwing more axons into a problem that is really caused by having too many of them with no clear idea of what we are going to use them for. Our intentions are multi-layered and filled with subtext and multi-faceted meanings, but because of this, we really have no idea why we do anything at all.
I believe that humans could learn from how animals think of consent. Animals are really better at it in some ways. They are better at knowing what they want or don't want, and they therefore communicate more clearly. They are incapable of understanding consent as humans understand it, but the way that humans understand consent is the synaptic equivalent of bloatware, which is useless baggage that is based on misguided attempts to maintain backward compatibility or just trying to do too much while having too little concept of what the entire system is really meant for. We humans make our lives hard, but we never really had to.
The human capacity for nuance is not entirely without its uses, but if that capacity for nuance is not directed fully at making us better at knowing what will make us happy, we can get ourselves into trouble. Our frontal lobes are powerful, but they are powerful toward whatever end that we put them toward, be that end good or bad.
Someday, I think that my fellow Americans will understand that sort of thinking, and I will be able to go back to being a regular person with other concerns in life. It might be far away, now, but because of the unique things about being a human being, I can still care about things, even if they are far away and seemingly almost impossible to imagine being real. That is what distinguishes me from an animal. I can understand the idea that my society evolves. I can understand that the only constant in human existence is change. I can understand the concept that today's unrealistically grotesque Hollywood supervillains are almost invariably tomorrow's martyrs. It is a part of how humans behave.
However, that is why I need human friends. I need someone with me in my life that understands what it means to dream of something and then pursue that dream, months or years later. I might not have a job with paid leave now, but I hope that I will by the end of the year or at latest by next year. I can think ahead, and for now, I can relax and just enjoy the immediate experience of talking about it and picturing it in my mind. Only my fellow humans can think, "someday."
To my fellow zoos, community is just being friends with someone that gets you, and if it does not seem extraordinary, right now, then that is okay. It's supposed to just be a normal friendship. That is the point.
As pleasant as it is to think of myself as a dragon, which is merely a gifted animal, I am stuck with also having the unique experience of human thought, which no animal can ever have. I am also stuck with the unique human problem of having the need to feel understood and accepted. That will not go away. As long as I am human, I cannot stay quiet in a world where I know that I am deeply misunderstood because of a difference that I am frankly appalled that anybody would care about.
I would rather just think about Moab,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and interested others,
Did you know that there are some dogs that have a serious weakness for fishnets?
This blog is supposed to be about a weird alternative sexuality that is socially so incredibly controversial that there is a large section of society that wants to abolish even fair intellectual debate about the subject, thereby replacing advanced liberal philosophical disputation with merely propagandizing violent hate toward a minority group that has continued to exist in spite of routine persecution, violence, injustice, and social marginalization.
There are some members of that group of people that just want to give up, lie down, and forget about the discussion. They want to just linger peacefully in the dark and sleazy margins of the Internet, hopeful that the world will ultimately forget that they are there as they go on about their existence. This has indeed been done, but this lasted right up until a young person with the screen-name Kero, who was mentally vulnerable because of his own loneliness, came to be groomed into a passive acceptance of a violent subculture of animal-torturers, and one other young man called Snake Thing had lost his way so terribly that he was ultimately sentenced to 25 years in prison due to his hideous crimes.
For all of the pearl-clutching that has been done over those people, by zoophiles, I point my finger at them in blame. Those young people lost their way because the gray-muzzles in our own community would not take responsibility. Instead of taking responsibility for misguided youth, they pushed those young people away because they were not ready to answer the difficult questions that a young person asks.
For instance, society proclaims, with a sense of certainty, that I should abstain from cruelty, but in the end, society's own argument for it is generally based on their own toxic cruelty toward anybody that they believe, with or without justification, can be accused of cruelty.
The people thereby become so addicted to their own sense of schadenfreude, comfortably shielded from guilt over that schadenfreude behind an invisible shield of righteous fury, that threshold at which they are prepared to unleash that righteous fury ultimately creeps. It creeps ever nearer to a point of arising without any provocation at all, and ultimately, there is nothing left except righteous fury and its concomitant cruelty.
Our morality is not the problem, then. The problem is how we deal with that morality.
We can say that a person is a terrible person without also saying that this condones us becoming terrible people, ourselves. We do not need to become the villains in somebody else's tragic opera in order to have moral convictions of our own. We can treat a terrible person with empathy or even love without going into denial about what that person is, and if we are very lucky, we sometimes even find cases where we can chart a course for the slow, painful, and grinding process of an eventual redemption of that person.
We do not always get that story arc of redemption, but even when we do not or cannot, we must not ourselves become a part of the process of cruelty. When we come to answer against what we deem as cruelty with even more cruelty, we do nothing except to provoke the defensiveness of those that we are attempting to censure, and instead of stopping those people, we unintentionally start a process where they have constructed a system of toxic apologetics. This thereby fans the flames to a raging volcanic hatred and thereby an even greater thirst for schadenfreude disguised as justice, and we ultimately fall into a moral dissociative spiral where witch-hunting mobs do battle against an ever-growing throng of increasingly morally nihilistic individuals that have just given up on being good at all, not because they are inherently evil but because they instinctively sense that there is something broken about the entire premise of the discussion.
While I am usually a more literary individual, I can enjoy television programming that has philosophical undercurrents that were inspired by great literature. I have watched a Netflix show, recently, that shows that we do not have to choose between either toxic self-righteousness or a lack of any moral direction at all. Instead, we can merely accept that a terrible person is indeed a terrible person but is also a person that has complex depths of emotion beyond just the callousness or selfishness with which that person behaves toward other living things or toward society. We do not have to be heartless just because somebody else can seem to be heartless.
A friend and I have been watching the series Bojack Horseman, and I recommend the show for its intensely self-aware style of social criticism. It follows the life of a clearly complicated man, but the show takes an unusual approach of openly discussing the reasons why he does the things that he does. The show challenges how society deals with public figures, even while also acknowledging the truth about them. The show examines how toxic relationships can get started and why they are the way they are. It analyzes how the destructive manipulation that a narcissistic individual can engage in can be motivated based on that person's own terror over being alone, and instead of creating a narrative that pardons that person, it just finds even more layers of pettiness that, in the end, are rooted in the sheer nihilism of living in a universe that does not deliver on its promise of giving us any ultimate meaning or explanation for why we should bother trying at all.
The world tells us forcefully that we should care, and the world fills itself full of righteous fury when it finds out that some people do not care. That righteous fury does not give us any explanation for why we should care, though.
And why don't we just let that righteous fury continue spiraling out-of-control? Why don't we just let the world burn itself down in an ever-escalating holocaust? Let the world have its petty witch-hunts and moral crusades. Let the white knights charge on their horses, clothed in righteous fury, as they draw the spiral ever tighter, eventually bringing us back to those dark ages where we hanged people for being homosexual or for having heterodox interpretations of the same religious faith. We can have another war over iconoclasm v. sacred imagery. Indeed, why shouldn't we just let society tear itself apart?
Honestly, why do we philosophers, who question this self-defeating cycle, even give a fuck? When we think about how small this little whirling ball of dust is in the larger universe, why do we still care?
However, why should I be obligated to care if even caring itself is futile?
One day, I decided to care, and I kept on caring. I kept waiting for the universe to step in front of me with its hand out, saying, "Wait, you can't care, for there is no point in caring," but that moment never came. Since there are no rules at all, then there is not really any rule that I should not give a fuck. I can give a fuck just because I decided that that was what I wanted to do. Much as that in itself might constitute an absurd process of self-flagellation, fuck it. I don't have to care that it is futile for me to care. I can engage in this mad process of self-injury if that is what I choose to do.
That is how I cracked the nihilistic fallacy. The nihilist falsely believes that there is going to be some sort of significance or meaning to be derived from the conclusion that the world is indeed meaningless, but spinning one's wheels in that hole is not really going to make the world any less of a wet speck of dust in the great cosmos. In the end, I do not have to dwell only on that nihilism, but I am free, even free to care and to love.
Therefore, I try to eat less meat every week, so I can spend less and less of my hard-earned money on an industry that does things to animals that I disagree with. I do not have to practice this self-righteously, and I do not even have to hate meat-eaters for being meat-eaters. I do not have to hate myself for occasionally consuming something that came from an animal. I do not have to dwell on the hypocrisy of caring and yet doing careless things when it is convenient for me to do so. I can merely act with care because that is what it crossed my mind to do at the time.
When I just keep repeating this pattern, I just keep finding out more, every day, that it does not really hurt me to act with care. It does not really hurt me to choose the vegetarian option and thereby support the growing industry that caters to our carnivorous appetite without actually slaughtering an animal in order to do so. I have some good vegan breakfast sausage in the freezer, and I just might fry that up with some blueberry pancakes because fuck it: who is going to stop me?
In the end, I also do not have to anguish over whether or not I have always been as zooey as I could be in my sexuality with animals. We say "zooey," in the zooey community, with a sense of acting with genuine compassionate storybook love toward our non-human sexual partners. All of us zoophiles are at risk of acting like any other callus, cynical fuck-stick toward our animals and just using our animals with all of the care that we would a fleshlight, and just because we cannot prove that we are always good people we do not really have to let that disrupt those moments when we have just done it right.
No matter who we are or what we have done in the past or probably will do in the future, we do not really have to deny ourselves those perfect, beautiful, sunlit moments where there is nothing but love. If we just let ourselves enjoy having them without getting caught up in the false belief that we are anything besides what we are doing at a particular moment, then we could merely develop a taste for those moments. A time could come when we have grown addicted to those sunlit moments if we just let it happen.
The nihilist's fallacy is very simple. The nihilist believes falsely that the universe will care if that person is a nihilist. The nihilist, having reached the conclusion of nihilism, is shocked and angry that the universe does not care about that person's nihilism, and that is why the nihilist is never really happy but just filled with all the more bitterness. That bitterness can end when the nihilist accepts, eventually, that nihilism itself also came to no end.
At that point, the nihilist can just let go in either one way or the other, by either letting go of being alive or by letting go by embracing the sheer absurdity of life and embracing the inherently quixotic nature of giving a shit.
Existential nihilists are often these angry and bitter goths when they are children, but if they go far enough down that road, many of them are also merry bird-watching folk singers by late adulthood. This transformation does not happen because they let go of that nihilism, but instead, it happened because they embraced it fully. Ultimately, nihilism does not really have to take us to dark places. It only took us to dark places because we were so entitled that the world should give a shit that we knew we were all full of shit, but when we accepted that the world still simply didn't care, we felt better.
We can just let go and be free.
With happy liberation,
Dear zoos, zooey allies, and all of my wonderful comrades,
Sometimes, I call myself a communist, and I am only halfway joking about that. I do not agree with the idea of a state monopoly, but I agree with Max Weber's belief that the primary function of a state is to monopolize the use of force. Nevertheless, I believe that Vladimir Lenin's model for starting revolutions was tremendously successful, and part of the basis of that model was a uniquely Russian concept, tovarish, which translates roughly into English as "comrade." However, the word tovarish translates more literally to "one who works in a trade," and in the context of communism, it means "one who works in the same trade as I." However, the Ottoman Turkish root davar, which means "cattle," makes the real meaning of the word tovarish something more akin to "fellow shepherd," which better implies the humbleness and simplicity of that ancient pastoral occupation.
While it would be correct to state that the etymology behind that word implies that communism was focused on starting trade unions, the means of organizing trade unions can be applied to organizing people based on a common identity, including a common identity as an oppressed group of people. Nevertheless, this extended understanding of how to use the concept of a tovarish was not accepted widely by Russian communists, who saw other types of identity-based groups as a distraction from the cause of organizing the proletariat.
The Russian communists perceived that splitting people off into different struggles against oppression would cause people to lose focus on fighting against the capitalist oppressor, and in a way, they were right: organizing feminists and sexual minorities and ethnic groups together became entrenched deeply in western liberal philosophy, and people that would have otherwise been more active in fighting against capitalism were using the same energy to fight for other types of causes that were just as meaningful to them. Unlike the Russian communists, this suits me just fine because I am not altogether a communist: I just think their model for revolution is sexy, so I think we should steal it.
If you are still interested, the way that Vladimir Lenin did it was very simple. His model for revolution was really based upon friendship. In case you are wondering, this actually does mean that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is really a training program for revolutionaries thinly disguised as an innocent and funny kid show.
You can build up friendships in many different ways. You can host a biweekly tabletop RPG. You can host a weekly night of Jackbox games. If you live close enough to each other, you can just fuck each other while dressed up in kinky animal cosplay gear, a shiny stainless steel chastity cage, and those adorably derpy beetlejuice-striped arm-warmers and knee-socks that you see sometimes in furry erotic art, which I realize is curiously specific but which I swear is actually five-gallon buckets of fun if you don't take it or yourself too seriously. However you choose to do it, bringing people together as friends is really the basis for starting any revolution.
The reason why it works comes down to the dual nature of oxytocin, which is linked with friendship. Oxytocin is not just a harmless "snuggle-hormone," but it also lies at the heart of more combative emotions. In the worst case scenario, oxytocin can be blamed for racism. The more combative emotions that are linked with oxytocin can admittedly go down dark paths. On the other hand, you also need those kinds of combative emotions in order to start any kind of substantial resistance movement against violent oppression. Friendship is therefore a weapon, and while it can be a dangerous weapon, that weapon can be used for noble purposes.
Let me level with you: I think that the USSR's economic beliefs were dumb. When I praise their model for revolution, I am not really praising the policies that they brought into effect. I agree with conclusions that have been reached in mainstream western economic journals, which support diverse points of view but tend to fall within the general constellation of neo-classical, New Keynesian, and monetarist approaches to economics.
Regardless, the methods of revolution that were pioneered by Vladimir Lenin are indispensable to anybody that wants to start a revolutionary movement of any kind. If you want to bring about social change, you must build any such movement on the solid primal foundation of deep friendships based on common identity.
The word tavarish is not one that I would use routinely, but I do think that its use is handy for starting a discussion about the means of organizing people around a common identity. For regular use, I have decided that I will only use that term sparingly. I do not believe that trade unions should be the only focus for the emotional energy that would need to be invested in starting one.
Instead, I will use the word "comrade," which has a more general meaning based on its etymology. It comes from the same root as "chamber," which historically referred to chambers within an arched structure like a neolithic dome tent that, over many generations, would have been reinforced and weatherproofed by packed mud, sod, and wood ash that eventually would have solidified into a more permanent cement-like composite material that, when in use by a sedentary culture, would have been kept polished smooth and, in some cases, might have been painted kaolin-white by prehistoric house wives that would have been annoyed if they had been forced to prepare family meals within a dwelling that looked gloomy and unsanitary. Nevertheless, it would have originally been a tent. In other words, we zoophiles are all within the same tent, and even though we come from many different backgrounds and political orientations, it is imperative learn how to act with a sense of camaraderie if we want to make sure that that tent can protect us from the elements.
With loving camaraderie,