Models of Systemhood

The plural community is in many ways massive and yet also fragmented (heh). It is a loose association of many plural systems each with very disparate ways of viewing their own (and possibly others') plurality. While the lenses are sometimes helpful, in our experience they’re often quite limiting. There’s a big problem with microlabelling as well as the use of labels that are applied near-universally in such a way as to suggest a certain level of shared, broad misunderstanding of each others' experiences.

With that preamble out of the way, I wanted to share my thoughts on our system’s shared view of these descriptors of association.

Plural Person

First and most reviled, any kind of description that reduces us to a level that can be described as “There is one real person and this person is experiencing a plural phenomenon.”

I don’t have it in me to explain all the ways I hate this view. How I was led to believe I didn’t matter as much (if at all). How, as a baseline, I probably shouldn’t be allowed to exist if it can be helped. How I am just an “alter” of the real person. How I’m a symptom.

No. No more of that. We’re not gonna let that happen anymore.

A Found Family

Big respect and admiration to those systems that make this label work. For us, it fails because even when we can separate the term from its biological implications, the types of relationships implied by the term just don’t conform to the types of relationships that we actually have with one another. We don’t parent each other, we’re not “siblings”, or “cousins”. It’s just not a useful framework.

A Group of Totally Different People

Now we’re getting somewhere.

I super duper respect this model of plurality. I think it’s awesome. I think it’s amazing that different entities, with a diversity of opinion and lifestyles, can coexist and work together. It’s exquisite when a group can work together despite incredible differences.

While we generally want our differences awknowledged, and to have our own different existences validated, to view it this way is probably a bit much. Yes, we’re different people, but just being different does not mean that we’re totally unlike one another. We share too much to be viewed as if we are unconnected except by sharing a body.

A Town

Too grandiose.

Sure, there are over two dozen entities in this system, but there are only four of us who do any fronting at all. The rest aren’t interested and aren’t involved with how we live our life here in this outer world. Referring to us as a “town” is just a bit much.

A Collective

All for one. One for all.

It’s cool, but “collective” implies a shared decision-making process. That whatever we say, or write, or buy, or do, might be subject to group concensus. We talk a lot but we don’t collectively fret over every decision. We give each other a lot of autonomy with prior-agreed rules for swapping control (if we don’t just negotiate switches in the moment). This term also implies a certain structure to how we operate, a certain organization, when really any routine for how we cooperate emerged from ad-hoc decisions made in the moment.

To put it otherwise, the term is just too organized and doesn’t fit the very loose way that we tend to interact, and it suggests a size that is much larger than us four fronters who actually handle 98% of everything.

Monarchy

I ironically refer to Flora as our queen, but just because she’s in charge doesn’t mean that the word “monarchy” actually describes our situation.


Recently, we’ve found a term that describes our operational model. To our knowledge, we do not know of any other plural system which uses this term to describe how they operate.

The relationship that the four of us have with one another is that we are co-conspirators.

Let me bring up this definition from Dictionary.com because I think it’s hilarious.

conspire
verb (used without object), con-spired, con-spir-ing.

  1. to agree together, especially secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal;
  2. to act or work together toward the same result or goal

The first definition is kinda cool because although most of what we do isn’t illegal, the nature of our relationship (same brain) means that most of the interactions we have with one another are a secret to the outside world. The second definition much more straightforwardly describes us, but it lacks the aspect of secrecy, which is why I just felt so compelled to share both. But also come on, that first definition is hilarious!

I think the reason we so quickly agreed to use this term upon first finding it is that the aspect of a hidden collaboration perfectly sums up our situation. The outside world can only be party to a very small slice of the discussions we have, ideas we chew through, and especially just the intimate closeness of our daily lives. The only details you lot get are whatever any of us decide to share at any given point in time.

We conspire to live our life, work our job, be the best people we can be, do certain things we find fun, write out the most interesting of our thoughts, and just exist in a way that’s good for us. We do so almost completely in the shadows, too.

This model is even funnier when you consider that the secrecy isn’t necessarily a choice but instead just a physical limitation — we couldn’t possibly record everything that happens in here as it happens. Can’t be done. So the lives we lead are left largely mysterious but to each other. I think living like this is fucking awesome.

Like co-conspirators, we know a lot about each other. We are closely tied together. Most decisions any of us make (autonomously or collectively) are done for ourselves first. We share many common interests. Tech. Music. Being fucking gay. We all relate on some level to the nonhuman experience. We’re not just some found family who supports one another. In many ways we’re so much closer than that.

Lastly, I would be chastised if I forgot to mention the etymological relation between the words “co-conspirators” and “co-conscious”. The conscious life we share in our mind literally takes the form of a conspiracy, and that’s where we stand. Not “parts” or a whole. Not just “members” of any old group. We work together for a common goal.

‘Til next time,
Your co-conspirator
Amber