Man/Beast: the Transformative Experience
I confess. I like lycanthropy. I like watching werewolf flicks like "The Howling" (ignore its horrible sequels), "An American Werewolf in London" and "In the Company of Wolves". I am so into werewolves that I have been playing White Wolf's "Werewolf: The Apocalyse", a RPG with the werewolf as protagonist. Heck, I even enjoyed watching "Manimal".
Even my fanfiction bears the hairy stamp of my obsession.
The dynamics of the man/beast are attractive, basically because of its dark implications of sexuality and savagery. Also because of its sense of transformation. The idea of an ordinary man writhing in pain and turning into a wolf is in a way analogous to a catepillar turning into a butterfly. The only difference is that the change/transformation is very overt, very physical, whereas the caterpillar goes through a more internal process. The sight of hands rippling into claws, the body twisted and contorted by the wracking pain, are all very visceral. Not many people like watching the transformation sequence. The man or woman is racked beyond ordinary suffering; he or she screams in agony as his or her entire body is turned inside out. The end result sees a very different creature. The transformation is over. The werewolf is born.
Yet, the werewolf also symbolizes rampant sexuality. The Beast is untamed, a savage creature attuned to the much baser instincts like Lust, Need, Hunger ang Rage. The werewolf is the antithesis of civilization. He is the distorted mirror of refinement.
The man/beast is also a conflicted soul. Torn between human sensibility and the more darker demanding Beast within. The inflicted individual is often struggling with the animal in him. He is confused, hurt and he knows that he is different from the other humans around him. Inside him is a churning maelstrom, so alien to him. To deny it is difficult. To embrace it is to abandon any form of humanity whatsoever. All these elements make a good story and I like reading about lycanthropy in pro and fan fiction.
What is more attractive and downright scary than your main character turning into a raving creature? The transformative experience not only changes the character (in and out) but your own perceptions of him/her. You find yourself asking: "What is he going to do?", "When will he change?", "Will his friends know about it?" Most importantly, I like reading about the consequences of lycanthropy in the character's life. He's changed and he knows it. Will his loved ones know? Do his loved ones have to know?
But lycanthropy can be quite dangerous. There are connotations of beastiality, of rape and of violence. Werewolves are violent beasts. They hunt, they take and they kill. Not a pleasant picture here, folks.
The Transformative Experience and Fanfiction
Why do I write about lycanthropy? In my own fanfiction? Am I a sick twisted individual who takes a character from canon and literally rips him into shred? Yes, I do ask myself these questions. I have friends who ask me about the transformative process/experience. Is it about change? Am I writing out my own transformation?
The answer: yes. I am putting down into words my own change/transformation. No, I do not think I am a wolf. <g>
I enjoy writing about my main character (Qui-Gon Jinn) who becomes infected/afflicted with lycanthropy. At first, the changes in him are sudden and they take him (and Obi-Wan) by surprise. Shocked and terrified, Qui-Gon begins to meditate, chasing the Beast back and putting It under mental lock and key. The idea of a Jedi Master, a man known for his serenity and his noble stature, being afflicted with lycanthropy, is deeply seductive. Qui-Gon is known to be calm and tranquil, the very picture of a Jedi. Yet the Beast in him is different. Rampant, attuned to basic instincts, the Beast represents the antithesis of Jedi beliefs. The Beast is not Dark, just something totally different from the normative Jedi practices.
In my stories, Qui-Gon is constantly struggling against the Beast within him. His loved one, Obi-Wan, worries for him ...and for himself. What would happen if Qui-Gon turns into that Animal again? Furthermore, what would happen to Anakin who doesn't know about his Master's darker nature? I like to look at the effects lycanthropy has on people. Not only the protagonist but the people around him: friends, lovers, students. Qui-Gon has to accept the Change/Transformation within him. He has to accept the Beast as part of himself. Many werewolf movies and stories involve characters who initially fight against the beast nature in themselves, but later find peace when they finally accept their bestial natures. Transformation is also acceptance, internalizing and assimilating your Other self into your identity. It is a learning process of sorts.
In a way, werewolves are like the vampires in fanfictions. Only darker, more violent and deadly.
"Man/Beast: The Transformative Experience" is supposed to be a reflective essay on lycanthropy, werewolves and life transformations. Lycanthropy is what civilization has been trying to avoid. It is a term used to describe violent change and the acceptance of the basic instincts in life. The Animal/Beast offers us a different perspective: it is our dark selves in the mirror we call civilization.