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Draconity: The literal and utilitarian views - Baxil [bakh-HEEL'], n. My Sites [Tomorrowlands] [The TTU Wiki] [Photos]
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December 7th, 2007
02:55 am
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Draconity: The literal and utilitarian views
This is cleaned up from a chat log with krinndnz. I posted something similar in comments on lupagreenwolf's journal some weeks back*, and since then I've kept meaning to expand my thoughts on the subject.

Krinn: Which of these statements more closely reflects your state of mind: "I am literally a dragon" or "Being a dragon is such a useful method of understanding/coping with/narrativizing the world that I've heavily integrated it into my life"?

Baxil: Um ... mu?

It's not that both are true so much as that it's a false dichotomy. I do literally believe myself to be a dragon. At the same time, the only reason for me to acknowledge it in the first place is since the knowledge aids me in some way.

In my more self-subversive moments -- and, hell, let's make this one of them -- I'd lean more toward the second. Only because:

Even if I didn't literally believe I was a dragon, I'd recognize its utility as a metanarrative. But if I didn't recognize its utility as a metanarrative, I wouldn't bother with the idea of being a literal dragon.

They do stack on each other more than is immediately apparent.

The idea of being Otherkin -- to me -- fundamentally relies on the notion of making a conscious choice of belief. Even if there is an objective reality and the nature of that objective reality is that in an essential way I am draconic ... my choosing to accept that identity, as a guy in a human body, involves a set of conscious decisions about the way in which I view the world.

It's easy to say "I believe this because it's true" - but in this context, 'true' means 'viewing the world through this lens makes things look more correct.' Which is inherently subjective.

Short of someday physically turning into a dragon, the best I'll get is a framework that makes more sense as a meta-narrative than ($alternative). ... And to get around to the original question, if draconity caused my world to cohere more badly, it just ... wouldn't occur to me to insist on it. The ultimate goal is a meta-narrative that makes sense.

--
* Edited to add: Link to original post, which is worth reading beyond my discussion. (It builds off of an earlier discussion of Otherkin as metaphor here.)

Current Location: ~/brainstorm
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From:sashajwolf
Date:December 7th, 2007 01:24 pm (UTC)
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This is actually an extremely helpful thing for me to read right now, because I've been involved in a discussion about (belief in) God that seems to me to be mired in a very similar dichotomy, and I've been trying to get the concepts straight in my own mind. Thank you for posting.
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From:dancinglights
Date:December 7th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC)
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Yes!
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From:makuus
Date:December 7th, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC)
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Agreed.
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From:krinndnz
Date:December 7th, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)

still pensive

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To repeat what I said at the time, "mu" is probably the best answer to questions-of-that-species. The problem is that people whom you know well enough such that you can get away with answering just mu probably already know the framework of an answer. I would also have taken a straight mu as meaning "The thought that you put into crafting the question that carefully, while appreciated, could probably also have given you a good enough guess that you wouldn't need to ask."
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From:lupagreenwolf
Date:December 7th, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
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Mind if I link to this?
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From:baxil
Date:December 7th, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC)

This is my generic linking policy

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Go right ahead! I always appreciate the notification (especially since LJ doesn't offer any statistics on referrers), but linking to public documents is the foundation of the Web and IMHO there's never any need to ask permission for links.

(Also, I found the original comment thread in your journal I was talking about. It's a non-flocked post from early October. I plan to edit my post to point to it; let me know if that's a problem.)
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From:lupagreenwolf
Date:December 7th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)

Re: This is my generic linking policy

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Cool, and likewise!
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From:bronzemistral
Date:December 7th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
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Baxil, I don't usually comment on your journal, but I just had to respond to this one!

VERY eloquently put, thank you for posting this! This just about defines my philosophy on draconity, as well. You sound just like a modern philosopher :)~
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From:zxizaraxii
Date:December 7th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
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[Chuckles] Careful friend, or you'll have another all-famous Draconic FAQ on your hands. XD

Still, you have a way with words as some of us do. :}
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From:lysana
Date:December 7th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
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That is why I'm a polytheist, too. It makes the world make more sense if I look at it that way.
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From:rainstardragon
Date:December 8th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
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Very interesting posting, and comments as well. I wanted to let you know that I will be linking to it from my blog.
From:lhexa
Date:December 11th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC)
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What do you mean by "metanarrative"? I'm used to the meaning of a story about a story (as when a novel starts with one of its characters relating the main plot, a la "Heart of Darkness"), but you seem to be using it in a different way.
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From:baxil
Date:December 11th, 2007 06:33 am (UTC)
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I'm more or less extrapolating from that meaning out toward the lives we live.

If "the narrative" is the events and observations and facts of our existence, the meta-narrative is the explanation we create to tie them all together in a way that makes sense.
From:lhexa
Date:December 11th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
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Except... that's what "narrative" itself means. The narrative (in this case) is the story told about the facts; stories are themselves created to make sense of events, and generally the story contains the explanation. I wouldn't call the events themselves the narrative.

Then again, I do recall earlier comments of yours... if you use a metaphysics in which the above distinction doesn't hold (i.e. everything is already a story, or everything is fundamentally narrative) then your use of the word would make sense, and its idiosyncracy would partially explain my puzzlement. (I would still wonder why some of the language is half-technical, mind you.)
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