The Things We Carry With Us, The Natural Evolution, and What Comes Before
Introduction. An Answer to Ranthimi and Aestherians: You’re Both Wrong, And Both Completely Correct; Kinda Funny You Should Mention It, Actually
Here’s how it works, or at least, here’s the version we all hear: your kintypes are your past lives, now and always, and you were nothing before you were them, and you have built atop of them but never fully moved past. Your perspective on them over the years of course never changes, you are always your kintypes and if they change too much, they were never kintypes.
But we have mental shifts, when we are more or less in the mindset of our kintypes, and better yet most of us fluctuate between ‘am fictionkin, but it doesn’t matter right now’ and ‘am fictionkin, and this is all I am and all I will ever be’. You’re not allowed to change, of course, but you are allowed to change the intensity… but also, don’t forget, you can’t do it at will and you most certainly cannot be less than ‘this is all I am and all I will ever be’ more than 60% of the time, or aren’t you just a roleplayer or a wishkin or something equally fluffy that just wants into the cool kids’ club?
Don’t get me started on what happens when you have multiple fictotypes. They can’t be too similar and they can’t overlap, you’re clearly mistaking one for another, they don’t mix except for that you are both them and they are both you, separately and at once and sometimes screaming over each other – wait, are you really fictionkin or are you just a system who doesn’t know anything about themselves and needs to be told?
We get the fucking point. But that isn’t my experience, and I know I’m not alone in that, so let’s talk about the messy middle and the future and how you can’t put that much exotrauma in one body while expecting it to stay as separate as water and oil.
Here’s what I can say for sure about myself, as generically as possible: I was always me before the authors of my various canons wrote it down, even though they did so before I was born and/or knew about them; and that I would not be what I am if I had not chosen to embrace the nameless, unrecognized experiences I had and place both name and focus on them. It follows firstly into the idea put forth by a colleague of mine that some, if not the majority of, fictionkin are more arguably called modern mythkin. That we are largely more using the name of “I am this person from this piece of media” as shorthand for “I am me, and someone wrote down a myth of someone with my name and face and kind of my experiences but sideways and dramatized”. This rings true for me: I am an Absol even if Absols had never been invented in this world, I am still a Devil despite Deep-Sea Prisoner forgetting that convenient plot point. And then it follows secondly into the idea put forth by a different colleague of mine that even though I may not have chosen the initial experiences that caused me to seek out names for what I was experiencing and others who may understand me, I did most certainly (consciously or unconsciously) choose to embrace it and acknowledge it and fully integrate it into my current understanding of who and what I am.
But this brings us to a point that I do not believe either of my esteemed colleagues thought of, or at least have not to my knowledge brought up in discourse and discussion: what, then, when there are two pieces of media and two creatures that match equally well to my experiences? Am I both? Neither? One or the other? And how do I go about figuring that out?
To be quite honest, my questioning of being Luteia would have been extremely complicated had I not recognized that the only thing Dead Master from Black Rock Shooter was missing was the plants. Even then, I did not truly begin to acknowledge how central those plants are to being Luteia until a few years later. If I had attributed my plantheartedness – really a shorthand for ‘I am not a phytanthrope, but Luteia was, and in some distant way I still am’ – to something else in any way, or looked at it in any perspective that wasn’t Luteia, I might well have understood my Devil kintype better as Dead Master, and guessed that I must be incredibly canon-divergent, to remember things going so differently.
After all, Dead Master is about the midpoint between Luteia and the person I was at fourteen in this life. I only knew I was wrong because I remembered the green, and I remembered the fire, and when I close my eyes and think about fire as a Devil, it’s red red red, and Dead Master would have seen it as blue.
I am Luteia, but had I questioned in a slightly different order, I might not recognize Luteia as myself today. After all, Luteia is noncanon to The Gray Garden, and is about as close to canon-compliant to the source as the version of Dead Master that I might have been. So both of my colleagues are right, and both of them are wrong: I existed before the source material, and the source material shaped me. I am always myself and could never physically or mentally be anything else, and I chose to be myself every step of the way.
The Things We Carry With Us, The Natural Evolution, and What Comes Before
If kintypes are past lives and the more important past lives are kintypes, then there is a conclusion to that preposition, and it’s not a conclusion I’ve seen anyone make before. It’s simple: if kintypes are past lives and the more important past lives are kintypes, then what exactly is this life? What’s the point here that will be important later?
If you take someone who’s a witch and a dragon and you ask them what third kintype will they gain from this life, what do you expect them to answer? Will they shrug and say “this is a summer’s fling of a life and species, and I am not taking anything with me when I go”? After all, then wouldn’t that make this life entirely wasted time, spent only on thoughtless fancies and inconvenience at the lack of magic in the air? Will they pause and say “I’ll be human in the future, but it sure will be an adventure to be something new”? Is that satisfying, as they chase new experiences that they might not have access to in the future of reincarnation? What happens, then?
Some of us with multiple kintypes are all of them, all at once, but they don’t mix. Someone who is a lion and an eagle does not always a griffon make, and I’ve found the community to be… very firm about this. If your kintypes are too similar, or mix, how do you know you are them separately at all? How do you know you don’t have one kintype that is a fusion of these, and not two distinct kintypes? While this is a valid query in the questioning process, there are answers to it and largely the easiest seems to be “because they don’t overlap”.
Except, of course, when they do. That part gets left off, because it’s complicated and requires at least a thousand-word essay and can’t be shortened into a witty one-liner. What goes unsaid is that a mental shift towards one kintype’s mindset might mesh a little too well with another’s. What is unacknowledged is the unity, how these kintypes must have allowed themselves to come together in the people we are now, in the who and the what and the how. A lion and an eagle may both agree of the speed across the grassy plains and the sun on their backs and the hunting of prey.
After all, Pale and Luteia, were they separate people and not two points on the same linear curl, would agree very much on keeping subordinates in line, dominating the world, and the simple joy of magical secrets known only to oneself. It makes sense, when you remember that Pale was Luteia unawakened, never close enough to the green to remember he was a Devil. He was a Devil all the same, and the hereditary evil raiser syndrome only amplified that anger and brokenness.
Thus, why argue that I am Pale at all, if not just Luteia transferred into a new body and a new canon? Because Pale is whiskey on the back of the throat that burns as it goes down. Because Luteia is fine summer’s wine that tastes so sweet and boils away your mouth with sudden acid aftertaste a moment later. Because they may be united in me but they are still themselves: I am them, and they are me, but they are not each other.
But they are both me, and I am them both. I study the situation before me and the part of me that most remembers Levianta notes the exits and the available weaponry and the potential consequences. The part of me that most remembers deification hums and theorizes what I can do with my available options. Both of them think I should cause problems – I think I should cause problems, it’d be funny – and in that, they are united. I am Pale’s resourcefulness and Luteia’s craftiness, and when those two things unite I am not two distinct people at once, plus the third of my current life. I am an amalgam of pissy university student and ruthless Devil and smug Horseman, and to say any of this is distinct is to lie through my teeth, because I’m not.
But I have four kintypes, not two, and I was a person before I awakened to any of them, and even with the four of them they don’t fully explain who and what I am today. Because what they do not account for is the person I am without them, the person I am because of them, the person and the monster that we all make together in one jumbled heap of claws and rage and ruthlessness.
Luteia did not understand technology more complicated than the magic of a white-jewel cellphone or a butter churn. Pale understood guns and motorcycles and the pricelessness of vinyl records and no farther. Ranisson… we had the internet, but I only noticed it as myself, not the person we made together and before and after, and between us we still didn’t pay any attention to how it worked. Absol understood mostly that Ranger Stylers existed to be held for ransom, and were an assistive device akin to a prosthetic so humans could be more like Pokemon.
None of that explains the simple fact that if I were capable of stepping fully into virtual reality where everything is code and I am a part of its song, I could be happy for a lifetime, and consider it time well-spent. And I think that is something I bring to the table of what the five of us – what I – bring to the table of the traits and traumas and tastes for my next adventure.
What else do my kintypes not explain, that are still a part of who I am? Of course, the question of that may well also be “do I have an undiscovered / unawakened kintype I don’t know about, and these are the initial traits of it? Is this what comes before that?” and while that makes sense to ask, I don’t believe so. This isn’t a life I’m living where everything comes crashing down, and everything is held more distant in my next life. That would be… pretty anticlimactic; and both Luteia and Absol are kintypes despite the fact Pale most certainly came between the current me and them. (It could be argued that this doesn’t count because he was unawakened to either one. I do not believe my prior ignorance of my own capabilities to be a counterpoint to this argument.)
The point remains, while humanity is to me a summer’s fling – meaningful in the moment and currently worth everything, but worthless and a bittersweet memory once the snow begins to fall – this is still a life I am living, and indeed as I figure out how to be a competent adult, I am also figuring out what I am now that is new, and never seen before, and coming with me once I go.
I’m a monster, you know? I couldn’t tell you what kind. I questioned if I was a Xweetok from Neopets for quite a while, and understandably so – it was my favourite as a child, I understood them to be family to me even then, before I understood myself to be an Absol – and eventually, digging through it allowed me to come to the conclusion that although I am a Xweetok, it is either psychological or not quite a kintype at all, and which of those it falls under depends entirely on your answer to “if it can change drastically over the course of your life or leave you entirely, is it really a kintype?”. As the fictionkin community seems to take delight in not agreeing on that one, and I have long since used up all my patience with the community, I am slapping a ‘fursona’ label on that and calling it a damn day.
But, kintype or fursona or something else or both or neither, I am still something akin to a Xweetok. Indeed, in the headspace of the Skyrose Garden I take the form of an anthro Xweetok, with the wings either of a faerie Xweetok or a Devil depending on how I feel, with the goggles of Ranisson and the chaorruption of Lore and the shit-eating grin of Pale and the sensitivity to what’s going on around me of an Absol. I am all, and I am also something else, something which does not come from any of my currently-confirmed kintypes.
Either it is a kintype, a part of my foundation as the person I am now, or it is what I built myself atop of that foundation, and in my next life when I have to deal with being a Xweetok, I’m pointing at this life and blaming current-me for my predicament then.
It is what comes before, and it is what I currently am because of what I have been… and it will stay with me, perhaps for a few years and perhaps forever. Maybe one day I will find another monster that I think better fits my experiences, and I will understand that Xweetok is the wrong creature, the wrong myth, and I am missing some part of the archetype of me that I need to fully realize who and what I am. But maybe, I won’t. To say I am a Xweetok is to say that I am some sort of quadruped monster with faerie wings, a muzzle, ears, a big furry tail, a huge mane, and some very impressive canines; largely arboreal and perfectly happy in either a metropolis or a great wilderness so long as there are adequate small places to burrow if I want a nap. It’s shorthand, and not wholly accurate, and Xweetoks have such varied lore that no one can say I’m incorrect save for me, and I’ll only say that if I no longer feel the connection or I find something that better explains it.
It can go either way, and as I am not talented in divination, I think I will proceed to not worry about it, because it isn’t a mystery I can solve and it isn’t a mystery I could ever consider solved until the day I die.
For now, I will relax, flick the phantom ears that none of my kintypes have, sweep the big fluffy tail none of them have around my cold shins, and finish reinstalling Windows 10 LTSC on my laptop.