TRANS FROGS & THEIR FRIENDS BETWEEN REVOLUTIONS
by Oozing Gloop
Dear Reader I’ve been asked to write a small introduction for a much larger piece of writing to introduce and contextualise it for you. Which feels patently unfair as I had to write the large writing and that really says it all; but never the less without the small writing no one reads the large. Nevertheless, I digress and rather; I seek upon you to impress or indeed express;
READ MY ZINE ITS COOL.
“THE END TIMES” is a fictional news paper around the glossy magazine “Home & Country” itself an attempt to address issues of the personal and political in the 21st century. It does so by specifically looking at the years 2016, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 & 22 as their corresponding Tarot cards. These esoteric ramblings heading towards a genealogy of the now.
Specifically towards what personhood is in monstrous times. It gives reason for the world going goblin mode, examining the emergence of trans-frogs amid the collapse of anglo-democracy. The meme magic of competing cults is considered against the #metoo movement alongside the first ever observed interstellar object to pass through our solar system. Cryptocurrency is considered as a new historical materialist condition whilst cryptid culture is seen to emerge alongside it, as capitalism produced liberalism.
Queer Cryptids Bonnie Bakeneko and Shrek 666 make personal contributions to the larger political analysis. Whilst the zine is populated with full colour images of “THE AWFUL JOURNEY” a 100 mile nine day pilgrimage made in 2016. Which itself was an awful time, in an awful year, that awfully actioned the awful epoch we are in. How have we recovered from that catastrophe, if at at all? What is the world we have wrought? Well, read the zine babes.
EVERYONE KEEPS DEMANDING I COHERENTLY EXPLAIN TRANS FROGS AS THE FIGURE OF OUR TIMES:- I FINALLY AM.
Tentacular Spectacular is a theatre piece that premiered at Fierce Festival in 2022. It is an embodied philosophical String Figure of Donna Haraway’s “Staying with the Trouble”, read against James Bridle’s “New Dark Age” as a response-able performance exploring cottage-core, goblin-core, neo feudalism and trans identity via a neurodiverse mycelium network that actions alternative dramaturges best described as “Trans-drag as story telling for earthly survival”.
It seems a crucial point which alienated some audience members however; is around the idea of the “Trans Frog.” An accidental archetype that has emerged from the process, as good as any other to function as a point of entry. So perhaps people might possibly believe this to be a worthy and nuanced field of explanation worth considering if they understood the context a bit more. Thus it is finally time to sit down and explain;
What the figure of the Trans Frog is and does. Coherently.
Coherent explanations have an intrinsically violent preposition. That its subject can be known here and now, severed from its multiplicity of constitutive relations and wider semiotics/meaning. From this entangled topology we brutalise and extract it, like crude oil, refining it into an indigestible plastic unable to return to all things. In doing so its subject becomes The Subject. Othered from its essential nature, at which point this essential nature becomes The Other, an abject difference to be killed or subjected. Thus in the tiniest fragment of our micro-interactions we see the macrocosm of global colonial capitalism and colonialism unfold.
Coherent explanations fit the Categorical imperative. The desire to gobble all things with a grid of classification, determining who and what is and isn’t human, flora, fauna, male, female, citizen, national, expat, migrant, refugee. Coherent explanations fuel ethnic violence, transphobia, racism, the destruction of common human compassion. They are a recipe for scapegoating precisely, because they are relying on a form of coherence/unification. It is the unified whole proposed by a coherent explanation that is violence as nothing may encompass all and so there will always be something, that is a part of something, that will be severed by the coherent explanation for the sake of simplicity. The needs of autistic and other disabled people are severed for simplicity. The explanation of what autism and disability is, of what trans identity is, of what neurodiversity is – is severed for simplicity.
We as a culture refuse an abundant incoherent, complex world and prefer the scarcity of coherent, categorical, capitalist meaning. The latter is the pessimist who optimistically seeks control by saying all is shit, the former is the optimist who pessimistically abandons the hope of control. The coherence of a profit extracting system is destroying our biosphere, a slow self induced execution via extinction, incoherent is any demand beyond the unified whole of capital accumulation. Any alternative or adjustment to the current global system is determined as Utopian. Thus the entire system of meaning has been unified into a certain meaning that will kill us. The left and right binary we have narrated our political lives with is a comforting tale of conflict but no longer exists in a practical sense, there is no coherent left, left in the west, able to take power and meaningfully affect change.
If there is a left and right binary, it is that there is a shining white tower emerging from a gargantuan swamp. In the top of the white tower are the conservatives all drinking champagne and doing cocaine with the bourgeoisie telling racist racist jokes & spanking the waitresses. It smells like cigars & gammon. The left; is the swamp. It extends an indeterminate amount, with an ongoing ecology arising and inevitably failing, falling down back into the mulch from which it emerged and will re-emerge. Many molecular beings live there, bacteria, bugs, moss, molluscs, fungi, newts, grasses, reeds, herons and certainly a few ogres. Things that are incomparable in scale but inextricably linked; mutual aid networks & (some unelectable) political parties, housing co-ops & trade unions. Some are consuming the others, some are consuming themselves in this cannibalistic swamp. This is the ecology of the left, whereas the right has a clear foundation to build upon & all look up in the same revolting order of conventional wisdom and imperialism; the left is a sodden mass, coherently defined- only by its opposition to the right.
The Trans Frog hops into all this.
The Trans Frog is a figure that circumvents the headache of external genitals.
The Trans Frog is not within the obnoxious “gender reveal party” colour scheme; BUT the pale skin of the Trans Frog fits oh so nicely with the colours of trans pride!
The Trans Frog as a figure of abundance rather than scarcity. It spawns masses that may themselves spawn more masses; but with no family tree!
The Trans Frog eschews the nuclear family of capital accumulation and creates kin with other and others through effective relations of authentic immanence.
The Trans Frog is not centred on whiteness, not valued and upheld by white history and can be an anti-colonial coalition figure by which we can affect solidarity.
The Trans Frog is the fruiting body of a mycelium network that must be seen in many dimensions to be understood.
When the wealthy influencers like the Kardashians, a hyper-real (i.e. non existent) version of the human who sit adjacent to the space probing billionaire class, determine again and again our models of representation of life in late capitalism one starts to rather wonder if all this isn’t quite for us. Ergo “Goblin Mode” becomes our Modus Operandi. Popularised by a misattribution to Julia Fox the meme in essence sits in opposition to Neo-liberal self optimisation. The goblin does not seek the six pack, but a more squelching form of life. The goblin is an embodied mode of the frog; fun, slimy, flapping ineffectually, enjoyable slipping or sliding through a variety of mediums.
Looking forward to maybe eating a bug.
Not worrying about stock markets.
However it is also here that we can triangulate the goblin against the trans frog via a cousin; the non-binary raccoon. A clawing, snatching, grabbing critter of the dirt. A nocturnal figure living in trash & garbage, degenerate and allowing us to identify with our own degeneration.
To allow us subjects to begin crawling back somehow to our other, to seek a relation with it not of violence & subjugation; but rather revelation. One cannot help but think of Slajov Zizek’s dark-circled eyes, in a garbage dump uttering “The Trashcan of ideology” to realise raccoon oracles are closer than we think.
Within this we begin the process of Haraway’s Tentacular Thinking, seeing one with the other as connected to another. Thinking With critters & cryptids, Mothman, bigfoot, internet micro celebrities, local legends of the drag scene; the semi-mythic takes many forms in the 21st century. The return of cryptids to thinking, unfortunately comes with the return of conspiracy theories. The optimist who pessimistically renounces control imagines the cryptid. The pessimistic who optimistically seeks control through negation believes the conspiracy theory. James Bridle describes conspiracy theories as the most powerful narrative form of our times, they are models that give us coherent explanations of the world that actually just result in populist politics. Where abject demagogues like Le Pen, Bolsonaro, the deposed Trump, the disgraced Johnson say the forbidden things to exploit and extract peoples primordial fears of difference, of the other. Who offer tickets to the white tower to save you from the Ogres of the Swamp! From difference! through a unified coherence.
The Trans Frog is a model I would propose, a cryptid if you will. A semi Mythic figure we can think with in an ongoing way that offers us a valuable perspective on our reality in a way that is real and authentic, tangible – that leads us away from the populist politics of fear & negation.
The frog itself is the figure of abjection. More so than the cute and fluffy raccoon. A creature we can fantasise about domesticating and sleeping in bed with, it’s warm, fuzzy fur, softly breathing, as it’s cuddled in bed with us. It is much harder to say that about the frog. If you were asleep and a frog jumped on your face in the night we can all imagine the shock, the horror that may result.
Horror itself being one of the defining forces of how trans narratives have been narrativised. The Trans Frog transmutates that horror into something else, as queer relations transmute the categorical anatomical of entry, exit, erotic, automatic via an erogenous imperative. That is outside of conventional wisdom, that requires no foundation, that is a new ecology, its own contained system of satisfaction.
A figure of squat & rot, the trans frog overcomes our notions of the abject, limits, beyond. The trans frog eats ass. Anthropomorphic Amphibians Actioning Annilingus. & these are the long tongued fingery beings licking us through the threshold to a new world. One without our form or order. One that situates us within the biotic and abiotic forces of the planet. One that lets us as humans live within the closed system of the earth, like a self sustained aquarium rather than a container in which we are trying to choke ourselves with our own excrements. In which our gaseous expulsions are farting away our icecaps.
The aesthetic schema of the kappa in mediaeval Japan is a traditional ass eating frog. These turtle shelled water goblins consume cucumbers, lurking below the surface. When swimmers travel over them the kappa pulls them down and sucks out their “shirikodama” a small, wish granting anus jewel (prostate?) That causes the swimmer’s colon to extend out. Prolapsing is a natural side effect of drowning. Something that has lurked in our imaginations is coming forth, a visual vocabulary that is becoming more present in our current times. A warty green zeitgeist is emerging, Pickle GIRLS on Tik Tok, Pickle Rick, #goblincore, #cottagecore, #mushroomcore, Babushka Toad by Bill Crisafi, Frog Dynasty by Maisani, Illustrations by Kate Aspen, Memes by Mabell Equay and Just Froget about it, meme pages like nocturnal trashposts, frogs eating ass, Frogwitch, bizarre fashions by Beate Karlsson or Duygu Yorganioglu, hear it in ASMR and feeling it in videos that are “So Satisfying.” We see it too, clearly in Drag, specifically by Trans & Non-Binary figures, people without access to a cis gender who do drag as a mythic gender.
My performance art theatre piece, Tentacular Spectacular is not coherent, but rather has a cohort of non-binary and trans drag creatures who are self made cryptids. Never previously gathered in one place, always the “Creature Feature” of a club night. Letting a sub-genre of drag dominate for once and go further than its mother.
Part of the reason it exists is because there has never been a piece of this nuance on this scale due to the system exclusion of the artists with these identities from institutional work.
As it turns out every performer is also neurodiverse that I have worked with so far. Thus there is a neurodiversity with the narrative forms, it is beyond conventional forms as it is operating in its own area, defining itself for itself, to avoid the crushing fantasies prescribed us. It is neurodiversity on its own terms, it is trans identity on its own terms. Further it is a formalistic theatre piece designed to juxtaposition forms of storytelling, via podcasting, compering, comedy, unutterable grotesquery, watercooler conversation, improvisation, lipsync, ted talks, fantastical reflection and rejection of trinitarian storytelling as coherent for the experience of autistic and trans people.
Currently we are touring the piece to Hamburg & London. Each time the piece will develop and change, transitioning if you will.
Man likes to imagine himself as an evolved ape, but now that others are allowed to imagine beyond the impositions of men the time is nigh, of the Trans Frog.