Tag Archives: Species

Furry and Magic

I want to talk a little bit about how magical furry is.

Magic, as they say, is nothing more than an act of intent. It is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will,” if one is to believe Crowley (not necessarily recommended). In this sense, if spells are acts of intent, then coming up with spells is the act of defining one’s intentions. In this sense, magic is living deliberately.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts like this on my mind, lately, for a lot of different reasons. Perhaps it’s worth expanding on them

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Gender: Furry II (Now With More Scales)

Guest post by V, who’s gone through a variety of names that people found hard to pronounce and eventually settled for simple. V is a dragonish critter who’s been floating around the outskirts of furry since the early 00’s. They’ve written previously about species identity as lizardywizard, and can currently be found on Mastodon, as @behemoff@dragon.style, and Twitter as magnetongue.

I’ve read a lot (a lot!) of great writing on gender here at [a][s], and Makyo’s recent post “Gender: Furry” was no exception. I must admit, however, that I clicked on the title expecting, hoping for—and yet, deep down, knowing I probably wouldn’t find—something different.

See, as much as [a][s] is a site that dares to go deep into questions of gender, sexuality, and how those things are expressed in the playground of liminal, hot-swappable identity that is furry, there are surprisingly few writings on species as identity.

Therians and otherkin are more common in furry than we seem—when mentioning I’m a therian at furmeets or in chats, I always get at least one person per gathering who admits “Me too”. It’s obvious in hindsight that if anywhere would be a natural fit for such people, of course it would be furry, where we live out a startlingly profound yet largely unspoken agreement: to set aside our human personas completely among our friends, even when not roleplaying. Think about it for a moment. While there’s no requirement in furry to portray yourself as your character, wouldn’t a furry who used a human name and avatar for all their interactions seem weirdly out of place? The default, the expected, is that we uphold the masquerade. Through fursuits, avatars, usernames and conbadges, we ensure that our friends in the community know us primarily for our fursonas, not our physical forms.

Yet despite the obvious overlap, the topic by and large remains the elephant (or wolf, or cougar) in the room that is furry, just as furry seems to be a verboten subject in therian communities. Somewhere down the line, we mutually agreed to ignore each other’s existences.

I’ve got some theories on why, but those will come a little later. First, my story.

Continue reading Gender: Furry II (Now With More Scales)

Species, Gender, and Data

One of the neat things about identity is the fact that a shared identity can lead to a community.

This is the way furry works, after all. A bunch of folks all around the world started identifying with this thing. Maybe they identify as folks who see themselves as something other than human. Or maybe they identify as someone who really likes art of anthropomorphic animals. There’s a lot of different ways to approach the topic of anthropomorphics.

Getting a bunch of folks together with a shared identity takes a lot of organization. That is, unless you’ve got the internet.

Suddenly, we start to see a community cohere out of shared identity. It’s a strange attractor of sorts: folks who are outside furry but share that identity are drawn in, making the sense of community more appealing to those outside, yet still have the shared identity.

Similar things happen within the LGBT community. Parties, gay clubs, and pride parades are some of the most visible aspects of this, of course. Still, much the same happens with trans folk. There are whole houses and communities of trans people in the embodied world, and online, the community becomes even grander. We talk of the gender cascade or the transplosion, the idea of “the act of seeing in others that portion of identity we find within ourselves that lends the greatest validation to our membership”. Seeing others live happily embracing their identity makes it easier to embrace our own identity.

Now, come with me on a short diversion through furry fiction.

Continue reading Species, Gender, and Data

Art Post: The Comics of Rory Frances

Selection from Big Teeth
Real Apex Preds

Today’s art post is about the work of Rory Frances.  Rory is a comic artist in the Seattle area, working with a variety of themes and incorporating his own unique style.

This first image is taken from his comic Big Teeth.  On the surface, Big Teeth is the story of two friends who have gotten split up at a party, but beneath that, it’s an intricate examination of predator, prey, and scavenger dynamics.

Rory’s art is full of wavy, hasty lines, though it’s worth noting that this does not imply that his art is, in itself, hasty.  Everything is carefully placed within an image, and the action that goes along with the genre of comics is evident in the movement of each pane.

Selection from Hype Cube (with Sloan Leong)

This is evident in the flow of his work, Hype Cube, wherein the characters move sinuously from one panel to the next and the text breaks the boundaries of those very same panels.  The colorist of the comic, Sloan Leong, also utilizes the technique of changing the mood of the story through the use of color: as the story advances, so does the overall color scheme used in each panel.

Scene from Boys Are Slapstick
Performing is only fun in some situations, I think.

Finally, his recently published comic, Boys Are Slapstick (18+ link for sexual situations) in the ‘zine ZEAL, is a fantastic deconstruction of the ways in which we perform and act for others in very intentional, if occasionally fictional ways.  We have brought up the idea of front-stage personas here on [a][s] before, and I think that a lot of this particular work hearkens back to that idea through the clever use of cartoons and “fictional” characters.

You can find Rory’s work on Tumblr and follow him on Twitter for more updates!  If you’re interested in supporting his work, you can also find him on Patreon.

Why Furries Choose Their Species

How and why do furries choose their species?

Species choice is a question that interests us at [adjective][species] a great deal, and we know it interests the wider furry community. It is a choice that is at the core of the furry identity, one of the key building blocks toward the way we present ourselves within the furry community.

We have a wealth of data on species and character selection, thanks to many years of the Furry Survey and the work of the International Anthropomorphic Research Project (IARP). We are able to correlate species choice with hundreds of different variables… yet we have been able to identify little tangible that drives a furry towards choosing, say, a wolf rather than, say, a horse.

I had a chat with Dr Courtney Plante (aka Nuka)—IARP researcher, furry, and [adjective][species] contributor—to explore what we have learned, and discuss why it’s such a difficult question in the first place.

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Species Selection and Character Creation Follow-up

This is just a quick follow-up with some further information about the Species Selection and Character Creation article posted last week.  I normally post on Wednesdays and I had an article that could have been scheduled today, but with that article likely needing more space than this one and the desire not to distract from it with a simple addendum, I figured I’d swap the two days around and give tomorrow’s real article its time as the featured post!

Last Wednesday, even as the article was going live, I was packing up my laptop for an afternoon at a coffee shop (The Alley Cat, where the phone is always answered with a personable “meow!“) where I would spend a few hours talking with the inimitable Klisoura about furries and data.  Among other topics (some of which will show up here on [a][s] quite soon), we poked around some of the species data a little further, and found some more interesting facts.  That, combined with some input from others both on Twitter and FurAffinity, and some volunteers in private communication, got me thinking that more information is always better than less, and so here we go!

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Species Selection and Character Creation

This weekend, I had the privilege of helping facilitate a panel at Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2013 surrounding the topic of species selection and character creation. The panel was a delightful discussion about the ways in which we build up the avatars we use to interact within our subculture, and why exactly it is that we choose the animal (or animals) that we become with our character (or characters).

That’s not all, though. I also had the privilege of sitting down with Klisoura, [a][s] contributor of Furry Survey fame, and having not only several delightful discussions on topics as diverse as tennis balls and coyotes, but also a little impromptu hack-a-thon in the hotel lobby on the subject of species selection. This tied in well enough with the panel that some of the results of that were shown during the Q&A after the discussion, and even led to several other conversations with various different furries over dinner and the next day. The whole weekend was a blast, but I’d like to tie up some of these conversation threads and ideas into something worth showing here on [a][s].

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Spiritual Animals

Spirituality is one of those slippery words that can be ridiculously hard to pin down.   I’ve found that you can usually tell when one of those is coming up by looking at the length of it’s Wikipedia article, as odd as that sounds.  If the article can basically get right to the point and then spends the rest of the time exploring fine details such as history, examples, and important figures, then the topic is not likely very complex to define.  If it wanders down a long path, peppered with links, is topped with a sidebar and tailed by a category box…well, needless to say that Spirituality‘s Wikipedia article is a prime example of a “difficult topic”.

It really seems to come down to the fact that spirituality means different things to different people, has to do with the search for meaning in things that we don’t understand and don’t seem to be explainable by science, and is self-referential: numinous things are spiritual, spirituality has to do with numinous things.  While my gut instinct tells me that the concept of a spiritual fur has been on the decline in recent years, I still see and hear mention of it quite frequently, in some form or another.  Us spiritual animals have rich histories to draw on, adopt, and appropriate, not to mention the ones we create for ourselves, and we seem to have done so with a will.

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Horses and Houyhnhnms

Many of you will be vaguely familiar with Gulliver’s Travels, the satirical novel written by Jonathan Swift and published in 1725. However you may not know that the book is overtly furry.

Gulliver is a traveller who, through misadventure, voyages to four unknown lands: Lilliput (a land of little people); Brobdingnag (big people); Laputa (a scientific ruling class repressing an uneducated populous); and finally Houyhnhnmland – land of the rational horses.

Pronunciation note: ‘houyhnhnm’ is the name the horses have given themselves and so should sound much like a horse’s whinny – ‘hwinnum’.

I won’t go into the plot in detail (although I will discuss Houyhnhnmland a little later on) but suffice to say that it’s a very easy and entertaining read. The language isn’t as antiquated as you might think; no more so than the contrivances used by some fantasy authors.

And then there’s the furry content.

Continue reading Horses and Houyhnhnms