I had searched and could not find a blog post from him on the subject, but Visakan has spoken many times about being what he calls polytribal – a phenomenon where, as far as I can tell, one is able to integrate and blend into many tribes without ever really belonging to any of them. It is an interesting idea to me because on the surface, things seem similar for me, but I actually find that I am the opposite, not in the inverse like most people, but the converse: I am atribal.
Growing up, fitting in with others was always a strange thing, although I did it. I never agreed with the many common assessments of the difficulties, such as being introverted, awkward, or asocial, or whatever, because they lacked the nuance about how my own feelings drove my decisions to be alone sometimes. I like being around people, but I have very few friends. It is not so useful to say I just need a few.
I only began to understand this predicament with full nuance as I learned about my genealogy and heritage as a young adult. As it turns out, I descend from a completely pure line of poor Anglos who originally inhabited the greater London area, probably as serfs. They went on to immigrate in the 17th century to America under indenture, and fled into the mountains to have families of their own, where they remained until my parents came of age. I have no Continental blood that is not an artefact of my Anglo blood, i.e. Anglia. I also have no mix of anything else.
So, in a weird sense, I began to understand what my “tribe” originally was: this fractured, loose band of a very particular group of poor Anglo-Saxons that eked out 2,300 years of history on the cliffside margin of nearly all of Western history. We were there in Roman times. We were there in medieval times. We were there for every change, the poor, pious underbelly whose votes never counted, and we were there for the ships that set sail for the new world. And we were there for the thunder of the North, in its industrial prowess, setting the stage for the 20th century with the fire of the coal we mined. But no one ever cared.
Just as well, I also grew up as an elder sibling, and I moved a great deal as a military brat. I currently live in the south, where my markings have changed so I better acclamate to this culture, but a Southerner I am not. West Virginia is dead, and so I have no place I call home. I have no tribe anymore, and no means with which to join one. It never feels right.
But I have come to understand this so much more as I grow older and find others’ understanding of me. This is how I am! A good friend of mine is also polytribal I think, at least in the sense that he has what he eponymously calls his effect: everyone likes him by default. My husband had said that he has slowly grown to understand how I harbour ideals of America, yet I am not idealistic. He says that I have the rare ability to actually be America one day – if you understand what I describe here you may know what that really means. Still, I have large dreams, not so much of myself or the things I want to do, but of the future world I am going to live in. I have also come to understand through my own introspection alone.
One of my favourite niche anime is Serial Experiments: Lain. I originally watched it alone about a year ago in my apartment, and I still remember it vividly: The 2020 election fraud had finally concluded, and I was about as high as a normal person would be on Christmas. I was listening to Elton John and having a gay old time. I had progressed to understand great darknesses abound in a way that left me personally impervious to it, and I was elated at such a step towards enlightenment. Then, in early December, I sat down to watch Lain. I could not stop watching, eventually binging the 13-episode series, after which I went full panic into my own existential crisis! Somehow, the series of Lain had struck a chord near the base of my person. And now, a year on, I begin to consciously understand what that was about and why it mattered to me. Lain was a fantastical representation of me – in all my efforts, relative normalcy, true abilities, and my placement in this world.
If you follow my work in computer science you will easily understand the meaning of that, too. I care tremendously about ideas that work. I abhor how social groups fester on top of scholastic and academic excellence, and I am disgusted when they masquerade their timeless old rites as if it were a mechanism of scientific achievement. This is a massive problem I am categorically divorced from. I want to see real scientific progress made in the world! So I will take whatever path there is to it, and I cannot be let down by people’s (sadly, very much demonstrated) disinterest in being part of that with me, thus far. But, I can honestly say that things can only get better. I will see everyone come around soon.
Until next time,