Baxil (baxil) wrote,

A eulogy of sorts

I found out something tonight that left me a little bit thrown. A week and a half ago, while I was packing for Mythicalia (a weekend gathering of Otherkin), a moderately well-known dragon was getting fatally stabbed by a friend*.

starblade_enkai and I were by no means close - online acquaintances way back in the day, and exchanged words in person at furry cons once or twice. We both have a reputation for being outspoken about our beliefs, but that's where the similarities end. I've always taken a passive approach to draconity evangelism - writing FAQs and such, trusting that people who have a use for the idea will find it as they need it. Starblade is best known for a foray onto a debate community where he sprung the idea onto an unsuspecting (and hostile) crowd.

Read that thread and he sounds reasonable, but glance through his various journals and you'll notice he tended to leave a trail of drama behind him wherever he went. (Flayrah's obit post says, understatedly, that he "was a controversial figure in fandom".) He had a calmly logical side, but could get incredibly consumed by his emotions. There are several people out there (who I will leave unnamed; it's not my place to drag them into this) that Starblade had a long-term, unhealthy obsession with; the word "stalking" was often used, and at times he would acknowledge it himself. His very public behavior in that regard was intimidating: Building any sort of positive relationship with him seemed to open the potential to become his next target. That fear caused me to keep the distance I did. I can't imagine I was alone.

The drama and isolation stemming from that behavior couldn't have helped his battles with the mental issues he publically discussed. He was autistic-spectrum, and also talked of other diagnoses which I don't have the research time to confirm. I think a lot of his worst behaviors were simply coping mechanisms for the problems he was always flailing about to overcome on his own; he never had the perspective to choose differently. At this point we'll never know -- and I have no idea how things could have gone differently so as to make this a reality -- but it's possible that maintaining a few stable, healthy friendships could have smoothed him out.

Because he was certainly searching for something. And even though he was a longtime dragonkin, he didn't find what he was looking for here. He would jump out and jump back in with the ideas - in the big ways linked, and in smaller ways. He would surf through social groups until his reputation or behavior caught up with him, and keep moving on. As things wore on, he discussed suicide several times. He kept desperately trying to reinvent himself in search of his goal, and it never quite worked.

That's the most heartbreaking thing about dealing with a tragedy like his, and being out on the fringe. We've all migrated out from the mainstream because we're broken in some way. (This is a tautology; if we fit in with the mainstream, we'd have stayed.) In a perfect world, all of the various subcultures of freaks would be a unified tribe of the dispossessed, helping each other heal and routing around the damage from a mainstream that simply won't keep us alive and healthy and sane. But here in reality, there are people we can't, or don't, or won't help. Our tribes are fragile and imperfect things, prone to infighting and insularity, often too small to offer resources along with our intentions. Starblade needed more support than the furry/otherkin community could realistically offer.

So it's equal parts unfair and fitting that he leaves the community with a legacy.

Starblade is, Flayrah also notes, "best known for inspiring** the 'FYIAD' (F!ck You, I'm a Dragon!) meme." It drifted out from its initial usage** into the anti-Otherkin troll lexicon, and then started being reclaimed by dragons in the same way that outgroups throughout history have dealt with hurtful slang. It was never a big meme, but it's influential in its limited circles.

Exhibit A is to your right. 1000 Blank White Cards is a freeform game in which the participants create their own play deck. To the right is a card created by one of the other Mythicalia attendees at last weekend's gather.**** The meme's been slightly tweaked, as tends to happen to memes in the wild ... but for something created after Starblade's death but before any of us had heard the news, it's remarkably poignant.

. . .

Though I had no contact at all with the non-Otherkin side of his life, I should also mention the other legacy he left behind - a grieving family, friends, and college community. I hope they can find the peace and answers that Starblade was denied in his lifetime.

According to his obituary, the Finnigan Family requests donations to the "Matthew Paul Finnigan Memorial Scholarship Fund", P.O. Box 1243, Alamo, CA 94507. If you counted him as a friend, it would be a good legacy. And if your interactions with him were less than pleasant, I'd urge you to consider this as a way to posthumously discharge the negativity and let him go with a little karma on your side.

* That's the word used in the police reports. No detail on what led to the stabbing, so we'll take their word for it.
** The fact he "inspired" the meme should be carefully noted here. Nowhere in the original debate thread did he use those words, and as far as I can tell, not in subsequent posts either. The earliest use of the phrase I found dates from three days later from poster pinkdove80.***
*** The fact that the phrase started out as an ad hominem attack by his opponents, of course, recasts the context of the whole meme. There are enough tarnished bits of his legacy. This shouldn't be one of them.
**** Other cards created around Otherkin in-jokes/memes: "A Wish For Wings That Work," "Species-Irrelevant Burnination," "Pokékin."
Tags: 1kbwc, best of baxil, draconity

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