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Inhuman Again: An Introduction


by Xander Cross



Whether you’ve been following me on social media or this is our first time becoming acquainted, first allow me to welcome you to my website and blog! I am so happy to have you here! As you’ve perused around, you may have noticed that my current series, The Atlas Dystopia Apocalyptica, is steeped in Japanese folklore, and that of the kitsune in particular. My fascination goes way back, and if you have never been acquainted, it is my great pleasure to introduce yōkai to a Western audience.

What is a yōkai, anyway?

妖怪 – Yō-kai – the kanji represents {beautiful, bewitching, calamity} and {specter, mystery}

This term covers an abundant range of demons, monsters, faeries, and spirit-creatures in Japanese folklore. Terrifying and magical, they are the stuff of legends and nightmares. Anything that achieves great age is a candidate to become a yōkai, particularly animals (foxes, cats, tanuki, etc.) or inanimate objects, which come to life (tsukumogami). Humans can be cursed into the existence of a yōkai, as well, particularly for breaking tradition or allowing one’s emotions to consume them.

Folklore has always been the dumping ground for humanity’s fears and darkest desires, while also our attempt to explain the unknown. Fairy tales are first and foremost moral stories of how and how not to behave. Yōkai, therefore, represent strong emotions, acting out inappropriately, boldly telling inconvenient truths, and lurid sexuality - that is, behaving unseemly; they are what is beautiful and ugly, vulgar and forbidden. These cast-off misfits of the shadows who lurk to prey upon us represent the worst of the things we humans secretly love. And how they fascinate us.

Calamitous and terrifying, yōkai can be as alluring as they are repugnant. Humanity needs its monsters to remind us what it means to be human. To triumph over them is to rise above our basest instincts and judge ourselves moral against their grotesque nature. But now we are waking up to a terrible realization. We are the monsters ravaging each other, this planet, and everything on it. Indeed, what we fear and loathe is the darkest sides of ourselves. This is why, now more than ever, we need our demons to show us what it is to be good.

©️Xander Cross, 2021.

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