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Monstrous Agonies E94S03 Transcript
[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz.]
Monstrous Agonies: Episode Ninety Four.
[The music fades out, replaced by the sound of a radio being tuned. It scrolls through a voice speaking Irish, pop music, a voice saying “-could lead to some-” and a voice saying “-new experiences-” before cutting off abruptly as it reaches the correct station.]
-flinging fireballs behind her as she ran.
It's almost two o'clock on Thursday morning, and time again for our advice segment. First tonight, we hear from a listener wrestling with identity.
The Presenter (as First Letter Writer)
I know you talk a lot on this programme about people being turned and welcoming them into the community. I have the opposite problem. I need to be welcomed... out.
I'll keep it simple. Should be easy enough to do, since I-I don't actually know what's happened to me. [laughs weakly] I used to be a creature, and now I'm not. And I... I don't know what happened.
I was the only member of the community in my family. Nobody knew where my liminality came from. I assumed it was some genetic quirk, like someone suddenly having a red-headed baby after years of brunettes or something.
Now I wonder if perhaps I was under some sort of enchantment or- or a, a curse or something. Honestly, for all I know it could have just been an extreme allergic reaction to my laundry detergent! [laughs and sighs]
All I know is that whatever made me a creature... isn’t there anymore. I don't know what it was or where it's gone, but it-it's gone! [laughs weakly] No transformations. No impulses. Even my favourite food is repulsive to me now – I've gone vegan for heaven's sake!
But- Well, I've- I've been in the community for so long!.I don't know what to do with myself now. Most of my friends are creatures, you know? Sure we still spend time together, but it... it's not the same. We're not on the same page any more.
Besides, most of the spaces they hang out in are for creatures. Liminal clubs, liminal bookshops, liminal nights down at the pub. But I'm not exactly what anyone would call “liminal” any more. I'm just... I'm just not.
I feel like I've been lying to everyone. Like I thought I was something I wasn't. Or perhaps I'm lying now, turning my back on my community by just going along with the idea that I'm, I don't know... suddenly “normal”.
I thought I belonged and now I don't. [sighs] Please help.
The Presenter (as themselves)
Oh, listener. You are really being dreadfully hard on yourself. First of all, you cannot possibly be lying and not know about it. The very definition of lying requires it to be intentional. You weren't lying about your identity before, and you aren't lying about it now.
I also don't see that you were mistaken about your identity as a creature. You may not have understood quite where that identity came from – whether it was, as you say, a genetic quirk or something you acquired from an outside source. But whatever the why of it, you were undoubtedly correct in claiming that identity.
You're quite right that much of the discussion about changing genuses concerns people stepping into a liminal identity, either as former sapios or moving from one liminal genus to another. But there are many reasons why a person's relationship with liminality might change in the other direction.
Some people find they lose their powers as they age, or that they move away from the practices that tied them to the creature community. Others, as you have mentioned, have been the subject of curses and enchantments which are eventually broken.
And some, like yourself, have no such clear explanation. They simply find that their perspective has shifted. Their needs and desires are not what they used to be. They have become... different. Not less, not more, not better or worse – but simply different.
You need to find a way to accept this change in yourself and reconfigure your understanding of your identity. That might mean no longer identifying as a member of the community, but it doesn't necessarily have to.
You might feel that a sapio identity doesn't speak fully to your life experiences thus far, or that your continued – and I hope they will be continued – friendships with other creatures makes you feel a part of our community.
What's important is that you understand, that decision is entirely yours. There are no minimum requirement to be a member of the liminal community. Nobody can judge whether or not you belong except you.
Finally, I would like to note that there is no such thing as a single, all-encompassing identity that will last you until the end of time. There is nothing in existence as likely as change.
It is the one great constant, and we must all come to terms with that. It seems very unkind to expect yourself to remain static when nothing else in the universe has any inclination to.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
Sponsored by Mother Hydra's Lost and Found Bureau – if it's lost at sea, we're shore to find it! Proud members of the Nightfolk Network.
[End background music]
Tonight's second letter is from a listener feeling exposed.
The Presenter (as Second Letter Writer)
My genus has never had much truck with the sapio world. We've always kept to ourselves, to the point where I doubt most people – sapio or liminal – would even know our genus's name. And that's the way we like it.
Unfortunately, it's not really possible for that ignorance to work in both directions. I would love to know nothing about sapios. I don't care about their culture, their politics, their celebrities. I don't want to know about them.
But it seems you can't go two days in a row in this world without some sapio nonsense barging its way into your awareness. It's infuriating, and all the more so because the most recent sapio stupidity to force itself upon me is something which concerns me personally.
Apparently, while I was going about my ordinary business, some idiotic sapio brat saw me and quite regardless of my privacy or my consent, took my photo. Several photos.
It was from a fair distance away and I was moving quite quickly – my people can get up a fair speed when we want to. So they're too blurry to really make out any details. But I still know its me. Anyone who knows me would know it's me.
My sister was the one who saw them, and of course she recognised me immediately. Apparently they were in the local newspaper with the charming headline, “Creepy Cryptid Caught on Camera”.
They were put on the paper's website as well, and shared on social media. [sighs] And now they're... everywhere. With people commenting and speculating. Talking about me. About how I look. How... strange they think I look.
I'm not a cryptid. I am a person, a private person with a private life. But the photos have gone too far to be taken down now. Even if I contacted the newspaper that originally printed them, there's no way of getting rid of every instance of them online.
I feel... I feel... I'm sure you can imagine how I feel. Is there anything I can do? Either to take the sting off or to ensure this doesn't happen again.
The Presenter (as themselves)
I'm so sorry your privacy has been violated like this, listener. It sound extremely upsetting, and I hope you can find the space and time you need to process your feelings.
You are unfortunately right in supposing that there is not much that can be done about the photos that are already circulating. Better to concentrate on looking after yourself, starting with the emotional impact of this event.
First of all, you must stop engaging with these pictures and the discussion they're generating. Cut yourself off from the websites where they're posted, and especially avoid the comments section. There is nothing that anybody is saying there that you need to hear.
We live in a world obsessed with sapio beauty standards. A world which assumes the sapio body as not just the norm, but the ideal. It is a lie, but it is a pervasive one.
You have unfortunately had this lie pushed upon you in the course of this incident. And while you may know, logically, that these comments are nothing but the ignorant blather of small-minded idiots, that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
You need to reaffirm your own value and beauty. Reach out to your fmaily and friends. Spend as much time as you can in the company of those who love you, and look like you. There is nothing wrong with looking like you – like a member of your own particular genus, with your own particular traits and attributes.
There are some steps you can take to protect yourself in the future. A glamour or an amulet of concealment will help to keep you hidden from prying eye, and it might be worth considering them if you're venturing into more built-up areas.
But the most important thing is that you work on your own emotional resilience against this kind of sapio-normative thinking. You've done well at maintaining a healthy distance from sapio culture thus far. Keep it up, and concentrate on celebrating your culture and your body for what it is – beautiful and powerful in its own right.
[Background music begins: An acoustic guitar playing a blues riff]
The Nightfolk Network – broadcasting all the time, for all time.
[End of background music]
Next this evening, are you receiving messages out of the night sky about coming events, but aren't sure what to do with your ill-gotten knowledge? We talk to prognosticator to the stars, Miriam Feinberg, about reading portents and struggling under the weight of terrible foresight...
[Speech fades into static as the radio is retuned. It scrolls through pop music, a voice saying “-she's doing amazing-”, a voice saying “-is she?-” and a voice saying “-I am, Jeremy, yeah-” before fading out.
Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]
Episode Ninety Four of Monstrous Agonies was written and performed by H.R. Owen.
Tonight's first letter was submitted by Sans, the second letter was from Leave-my-dudes, and this week's advert came from DS9Polycule. Thanks, friends.
If you're enjoying the programme please consider supporting us at patreon.com/monstrousagonies, or make a one-off donation at ko-fi.com/hrowen. You can also help us grow our audience by sharing with your friends and familiars, and following us on Tumblr, @MonstrousAgonies, and on Twitter, @Monstrous_Pod.
This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.
Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.
[Fade to silence]