Actually someone does relate: me, to a particular story. That was just the only lyric I could think of that uses the word “relate.” But it is true that I can't concentrate. That's why I'm writing this out now. Just thinking about it, and even discussing it with “Pan,” it was hard to focus and develop what I'm thinking about.
I've talked a lot about TUF and some of the things that have led to it. But there's one major example that I haven't talked about much, because it's embarrassing. Very embarrassing. What led up to it, what I found, and how I responded to it are all embarrassing. But thinking about it this morning, I realize that it might hold part of the key to properly understanding what TUF is and what it means about my identity. So, I'm going to bite the bullet and go into details.
This happened a number of years ago. I don't remember exactly how long, but I'm going to guess maybe 3 or 4 years ago. I've mentioned that I'm obsessed with the idea of transformation, forced or otherwise. To that end I had been perusing a website focused on that theme. It's full of stories on the topic, some in a choose-your-own-adventure style. Perhaps you know the site I'm talking about; if so, you probably know why I haven't wanted to bring it up before. Anyway, at one point I was reading one of the choose-your-own-adventure stories about a (human) character who met a demon. In a situation that I can't really call “forced,” but comes close, he was transformed into a horse, and then into a “minotaur.” I put that in quotes because in this case “minotaur” really means anthropomorphic bull. Then, in a weird twist for one of these stories, he ends up in a peaceful situation living out his life as a “minotaur.” This story caused TUF in a serious way. This was more in the “jealousy of fictional characters” way than the “resonance with forced transformation” way, mind you.
But that's not what makes this particular case interesting. See, every story on this site, and every “page” of the choose-your-own-adventure stories, is written by a member of the site. Nobody has any obligation to write out a full story with multiple paths. After a certain point with the story thread I had been reading, there was only one thread written, and it was an unhappy one for the character. This made me unhappy. So, I went in and quickly wrote an alternate path, one where the character is triumphant (at least until someone else goes forward from what I wrote). It just seemed like the natural thing to do at the time.
But I've been thinking. If I was jealous of this character, why would I want him to have a happy ending? Well, because I identified with him, of course. But that kind of throws a wrench into everything I've been saying about my identity and TUF lately, right? Before I go further with this chain of thought, actually, I should note something. Obviously the nature of this kind of story makes identifying with the character even easier than it would normally be. But it's worth noting that while the earliest chapters of the story were written in the present tense second person (“you do this”) like these stories should be, the later chapters were written in the past tense first person (“I did this.”)
Now then, let's consider how this story differs from what I've been saying so far. For one thing, while it certainly doesn't go how the character expects it to, I wouldn't call it a forced transformation. For another, he's ultimately transformed into a “minotaur.” That is part human and part hooved animal, but it doesn't fall under my definition of a fauntaur. It's also not the only story of someone being transformed into a “minotaur” that has caused TUF. And finally, while this probably is because the story isn't in third person, I felt more identified with him than jealous of him. I identified with him so much that I felt compelled to stop and write out a happy ending for him.
So the two questions from this are: what might this mean about my kin type, and what might this mean about TUF? It could very well mean nothing; it isn't the first source of TUF that doesn't connect directly with my existing definitions, and it would be perfectly fine to say what I previously had, which is that it's close enough that it still fits in with the existing most likely narrative. But I don't want to leave any stone unturned. So, I want to explore this. The idea of adding “minotaur” to my kin type possibilities has come up before. It might go against my semi-tidy definition of a fauntaur, but then again, it might not. That definition allows for some shapeshifting ability, and a “minotaur” is close enough to the other aspects that it could fall into the “preferred forms” bucket. But I don't want to get too comfortable with my most likely answer I've made for myself, because there's no guarantee it’s correct. Is it possible, then, that my kin type is a “minotaur”? I doubt it; it goes against way too much previous evidence. But is it possible that my kin type is, at least by default, part human and part bull? That's more believable. I have felt resonance with bulls in other scenarios, and when I imagine what my horns might look like, they often end up looking more like bull horns than goat horns. But on the other hoof, maybe that has something to do with the fact that I'd rather be part bull than part goat? I don't know; separating desire from reality is hard when everything is so theoretical and unclear.
As for TUF, I know it's a yearning for something. I just don't know what it's a yearning for. Recently I've said that I think it's a yearning to return to a past life. Specifically, a life where I was a victim of forced transformation and was happy about it. But even if we do follow the past life idea, is that what happened? Some sources of TUF don't involve forced transformations; just transformations. And the ones that do involve forced transformations don't tend to involve good things coming from it. Taking the biggest example, the one from Gencon 2014: while that character did end up becoming a faun-like creature, what caused TUF was reading the backstory about him being transformed into a goat and forced to fight in another world. Same goes for the other Changeling one, from this year’s Gencon. And even in situations that don't exactly cause TUF I've found myself identifying with characters who undergo unhappy forced transformations. So there's a chance that if I was a victim of FT in a past life, it was a bad thing. Why would I be yearning for that?
Of course it's important to consider that the yearning might not be for a past life, but just for not being human. What would that mean exactly? What's so bad about being human that I'd have such a deep yearning to not be? Well, my best guess for that falls to my demon theory. I don't know much about what it means to be a demon, or to what degree that's what my kin type is. But I do know what my mind’s idea of a demon is, and what aspects of that lead to the demon theory. And that really comes down to one word: power. The power to shapeshift already is part of my definition of a fauntaur, but there's more to it than that. The dark sides I've talked about, the destructive primal rage and the sadistic desire for control and domination that lurk in the back of my head and only come out in fictional scenarios, those both fall under the idea of power as well. And humans, well, humans are weak. Or at least, that's what my head’s version of a demon would think. But this too might come from desire and wishful thinking rather than actual identity.
The problem is that these are only ideas and theories, and they can't ever be proven. So even when I come up with an idea that works for me, there will always be the question of whether it's correct. There will always be things that might not fit as well as I think they do. And of course, there will always be doubts and questions. My understanding of my identity is always changing. So while I wanted to start focusing on the past life that I might be yearning for, I also have to keep an eye on the idea that I might not be yearning for a past life, and the idea that even if I am, it might not involve FT. Nothing is solid, and that's annoying.
One last thing. I get that my writing might seem a bit...dramatic. It always kind of seems like I'm being a bit too grandiose, so to speak. I've always noticed that, but for some reason it's particularly hitting me now. So I just want to say, that's not really the kind of guy I usually am. I don't talk like I write here. And I'm usually not focused so much on my identity, either. What you see on this blog is just a part of the whole. And that's probably made even more clear when you compare my writing on the blog to my writing on the video game forum. I just wanted to note that.
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