this post was originally a comment i made on reddit. i then reposted it on tumblr on the .

fictionfolk for the nonhumans who don’t understand them

“so it’s a pretty common thing for otherkin and therians to see, say, a certain picture of an animal or a landscape or something and feel a rush of feelings related to their phenotype. you carry these feelings in you, maybe they’re phantom sensations or longings for certain environments or strange habits and attitudes. but it’s only seeing those things reflected in another animal that lets you make the connection ‘ah, i feel this way because i’m [specific nonhuman thing]’. self recognition through the Other, right? if you relate to what i’ve described there, try to keep that feeling in mind as i explain this.

the reason that day after day it continues to make sense for me to say 'i am [character]’ instead of 'i am similar to [character]’ is because the place i am most likely to encounter those feelings are in encounters with that character and that source. most of the engagement i do with those experiences is through that piece of media. and not even on purpose! the fact that i can be going about my business and suddenly run into fanart or shipfics describing a person shaped suspiciously like the feelings i have about myself is why i call myself fictionfolk. traits and experiences i identify as belonging to me get dissected, hypothesized over, reinterpreted, and treated, y'know, like fiction.

and, yeah, it might be incredibly unlikely that you live a life borderline identical to a narrative laid out in fiction. you could find ways to explain this - maybe we reincarnate into timelines with thematic 'resonance’, maybe it’s a psychological imprint thing. but those explainations don’t really matter at the end of the day. ultimately, we have those experiences, regardless of why we think we have them. dissecting the 'why’ doesn’t stop the feelings from happening.

and you have to start from there. like any subjective identity, you have to start from a place of believing that when people report having certain experience, they’re being sincere, or we can’t go anywhere.

and, well, ok, assume i mean it when i say 'i have [x] feelings…’ - can it still be inappropriate to say ’…and identifying myself as [y] character is the best way for me to make sense of that’? i think it’s a spectrum. a fursona is a fictional character, and i think it’s pretty uncontroversial to say that identifying as someone else’s would be fucking weird. i also understand the feeling of having an oc that you’ve poured so much of yourself into that for someone else to say 'i am this’ feels boundary-crossing. i’m not here to declare where we draw that line; i am here to say that i think we, as authors and readers and A Society, misunderstand our own relationship to fiction a bit.

i refer to ideas like death of the author and deconstruction. jaques derrida said (roughly) that 'there is nothing outside of the text’ - the only things that are 'canon’ about a creative work are the words and images that exist inside the work itself. i have to stress that i don’t think this is a matter of opinion - authors literally die and their insight on what their works represent often goes with them. this is why egyptologists don’t agree on whether nyankh-khnum and khnum-hotep were lovers or brothers, for example. a lay person who isn’t aware of kemetic visual language or culture could look at their tomb painting and infer other kinds of relationships, too, because they have their own sense of what being all up in someone’s personal space like that means. some creature who has no idea what a human even is could see it as simply some pleasing shapes and colors.

because interpretation in generative! a work is the function of its actual canonical body and the experiences that the person interacting with it brings to it. someone saying 'this character is me’ is making as much legitimate meaning out of it as any other. when(/if :v) i release any of my stories out into the world, my interpretation of my own characters will be on equal footing with everyone else’s. it doesn’t matter if, say, the way a certain character acts is informed by me, if their relationship to their parents is reflective of mine, if they talk the same way i do. those things exist specifically between me and the words or pictures that are committed to existence. they don’t belong to the words or pictures inherently. other people will bring other connections into existence when their inner worlds meet the same words or pictures.

this is not at all to say that you should suck it up and let people do whatever they want to your work. i just want you to understand that people come to these conclusions for honest reasons through legitimate methods of analysis. i definitely think there are conversations to be had around responsibly naming your feelings and acting on your interpretations of fiction in alterhuman circles. i also think those conversations will go best when we’re actually given room to bring our perspectives to the table and listened to.”