With Episode 5, members of the The Feathers take over all hosting and production of the podcast. As always it’s devoted to straight talk about changing perceptions of plurality/multiplicity (multiple personality). You will hear two voices — two tracks recorded by two people co-existing in one body. Learn about systems and switching, WikiPlural, (https://wikiplural.net) and terminology.
Artist Jim Bunkelman, a singlet friend, describes life with his beloved Rhonda& and the manypeople of her group. (see them at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RJr1jYKuWo) At Rhonda&’s untimely death in 2012, members of Burning Man gathered to create a unique tribute in memory of a unique community of people… all coexisting within one body.
The second half of the program features Monokrom, a group who have many Youtube videos on their experience being plural.
As always, your questions and comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support us by buying our stuff at our Cafepress Store, Plural Pride (http://www.cafepress.com/plural_pride)– and come join us on Yahoo Groups Plural_Activism discussion!
The transcript follows below.
Aisling: Welcome to episode 5 of Multiplicity 101, an educational podcast of Plural Activism, an ad hoc organisation devoted to dispelling myths about multiplicity, also known as plurality. These refer to the idea of more than one mind in a body.
Aisling: Your hosts today are two members of the Feathers system. I’m Aisling.
Annie: And I’m Annie. Thank you for joining us.
Aisling: Yes, welcome to the show!
Aisling: We’re happy to hear from you and answer your questions.
Aisling: If you have any questions for us, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Annie: We’ll try to answer in a later podcast.
Aisling: Well, it’s been a while, but we’ve finally got a new podcast out.
Aisling: There was some talk of renaming it, but we ended up keeping the old name.
Annie: It really pretty much says it all, already.
Aisling: Yeah. It’s all about educating the public on the topic of multiplicity and plurality.
Annie: The basic things.
Aisling: Yep. First things first, we have some news items.
Aisling: The first news item is about the podcast itself.
Aisling: It’s been a while since we produced a podcast.
Aisling: People have been busy and other circumstances have come up that kept it from getting made.
Annie: Which is where we come in.
Aisling: Uh huh.
Annie: We’re doing all the hosting and producing now, so we figured it was time for a format reboot, too.
Annie: We’ve got some interesting interviews coming up in the next few episodes.
Annie: And today we’ll be covering some 101 topics, systems and switching.
Aisling: We’ve got a few other little things, too, that we hope you’ll enjoy.
Aisling: We know plurality is considered unusual, but we want to bring understanding and help make this as real for everyone else as it is for us.
Annie: Our second news item concerns WikiPlural, which is a Plural Activism sponsored project to build a knowledge base about all things multiplicity and plurality.
Aisling: And that URL is https://wikiplural.net/
Annie: The http link works also, but https is good for your privacy so you should use that.
Aisling: Yeah, absolutely. But the other is there in case you need it.
Aisling: And this is meant to be a community resource, one that we all put together.
Aisling: It’s not just the project of one group or one system.
Annie: It’ll benefit, everyone will benefit, from having many points of view represented there.
Aisling: And there’s a signup link on the upper right of the page. Just make yourself an account and off you go.
Annie: If you’re wondering where it is that you’e going off to, there’s also a todo page linked from the front page.
Annie: That’s the simplest way to get started, just look for a page on there and fill it in or expand it.
Aisling: And there’s also a getting started guide on there to give some starting pointers on how to edit.
Annie: And that’s it for the evening news!
Aisling: We’re just gonna start in on the basics for today.
Annie: And it’s important to point out that these are just common usage. Everyone works differently, and many have their own terms and ways of being, and their own ways of using these words.
Annie: So, with that out of the way, let’s get started.
Aisling: The first topic is systems.
Aisling: What is a system, exactly?
Both at once: It’s…
Aisling: Take it away, it’s all yours!
Annie: Sorry! Well, a system is what we call a group of minds residing in a body.
Annie: There can be two minds, fifty, even an unnumbered population.
Aisling: Also a system sometimes includes an inner or other world, sometimes called a headspace.
Aisling: This refers to a place that might be experienced by system members while they’re not here.
Aisling: It’s like a dream that doesn’t go away when you wake up or stop thinking about it, a place parallel to this one that has its own sense of being.
Aisilng: And not all systems have one, but many do. Even some non-plural people do.
Annie: Right, right. And there are many terms that are used besides or in addition to “system”, like a collective, a house…
Aisling: Or an inn or a family, too.
Aisling: So what’s an example of a system?
Annie: Well, there’s us, of course, the Feathers.
Annie: We have three fronters in here …
Aisling: (interrupting) What’s that word, fronters, mean?
Annie: We’ll get back to that later in the podcast, but it refers to people who can control the shared body.
Aisling: Ah, okay.
Annie: There are three of us, plus some others that we talk to, and an other-world we call Taleia.
Aisling: And a fine place it is. <chuckle>
Annie: Heh, yes.
Aisling: So how does one keep track of all of this?
Annie: Well, you don’t, actually.
Aisling: But there’s so much there…
Annie: And like the outside world, it all tends to take care of itself without the need for central oversight.
Annie: Which is not to say that there is no value in organisation, like a democracy or other management structure.
Annie: Someone still needs to take care of the shared body and its needs.
Aisling: Paying bills, going to work.
Annie: Stuff like that, yeah.
Aisling: Well great, and that’s what a system is!
Annie: So, we also wanted to talk about switching and fronting.
Aisling: Yeah, you mentioned that term earlier, fronting. What does it mean?
Annie: Well, I’ll start with switching first.
Annie: Switching is the term used to refer to swapping out who is controlling the shared body.
Annie: Someone steps aside so someone else can come in.
Annie: And it’s usually invisible on the outside.
Aisling: But wait, I saw a TV show where it involved eyes rolling up in the person’s head and steam coming out of their ears.
Aisling: Was that not real?
Annie: Nope. It’s often dramatised incorrectly.
Aisling: I see… maybe you could give us an example?
Annie: Well, once again, we have us, the Feathers.
Annie: You and I are switching to speak with each other in the outside world.
Aisling: Really? I never knew. So what about that other word, fronting?
Annie: Well, that’s the word used to refer to the act of controlling the body.
Annie: So the person who switches in, is said to be fronting.
Aisling: Why fronting? Why not controlling, or some other word?
Annie: I don’t know. I suppose it’s like being the front man on a band.
Annie: The term seems to have originated with Truddi Chase, and other groups have called it moving forward or back, being in the spotlight, or coming to the surface.
Annie: People who can front are called fronters.
Annie: You might think of them as the pilot crew of the body.
Aisling: And not everyone can front in a system.
Annie: Nope. Besides those systems that have too many people to make it practical, not everyone can or even wants to.
Annie: We have one of the latter, Sophie.
Annie: She has no desire to front.
Aisling: What happens when more than one person wants to front, anyway?
Aisling: Rock paper scissors?
Annie: Heh. I’m sure they could, but there is also co-fronting.
Annie: Yeah, it refers to having more than one person in front.
Annie: It’s a kind of cooperative control, like two people sitting in front of a video game and passing the controller back and forth.
Aisling: Sounds messy.
Annie: It could be, but that’s where the cooperation comes in.
Annie: They take turns.
Aisling: Hmm, so I imagine that’s a lot like hanging around more than one person.
Annie: Go figure!
Aisling: If you’d like to submit your own suggestions for this section of a future podcast, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aisling: Or if you’ve heard a term that you don’t understand and would like to hear more about it, feel free to do the same.
Aisling: We’ve got one more thing for you before the interview gets started.
Aisling: We call this section the “bio” section.
Annie: It’s just real examples of plural systems living and thriving in the world.
Annie: Just to help bring home that we’re real people, with real jobs and family, like anyone else.
Aisling: First, a short note from the Ange system.
Labrys: My name is Labrys, and I’m from the Ange system. We’re a 70+ member system, working part time for a city government you probably wouldn’t recognise, and working on getting our degree in English at a four-year university.
Annie: Excellent, thank you.
Annie: Next up is a reading from Jim Bunkelman, who is a singlet ally.
Aisling: What does that term mean, singlet?
Annie: A plural system is plural by virtue of having more than person in a body.
Annie: Singlet is the term used to refer to everyone who is not plural.
Aisling: I see! Well, take it away, Jim!
Jim: My name is Jim Bunkelman. I’ve written down a few experiences with people in my late wife’s system. This is one of them.
All of Rhonda’s insiders were special to me. But there were a few who were very special. Abigail was one of those. She was around 6 years old. When I first met her she stuttered so much that I couldn’t understand anything she said. I believe that she was physically abused often. I learned that she would spend a lot of time hiding in the closet or any small hidden space she could find. I learned that she loved books and so I began reading to her every night before we went to bed. I read her children’s books and short stories. We started working on learning sign language so that we could communicate with each other. After some time she began to be able to say some words and then sentences. Soon she could talk so that I could understand her. She still stuttered some, but now we could talk to each other. Rhonda told me that Abigail wanted to talk with me so much that she overcame her stuttering. She called me dedee-dedee.
The kids loved the Winnie the Pooh characters. Abigail identified with piglet. She was very small and vulnerable and needed protecting. But she had a very big heart and loved very much. She was my little piglet.
I started reading the Harry Potter books to her. Oh how she loved Harry. And she would get very involved in the story. She would say “Harry always getting into trouble.” Each night I would read a few pages of the book. We finished the first book and went on to the second. We started the second book when we were camped at Burning Man. The book starts out with Harry at a convention of wizards and witches. It was just like being at Burning Man. Abigail was so excited that where we were was exactly like being at a Wizard and Witches conventions. When we were walking around Burning Man she would keep saying “No muggles here”.
She identified as being a little witch like the ones in the Harry Potter books. I bought her a witch hat and decorated it with electro luminescence wire that lit up and animated. We got a hooded cloak. At least one night at Burning Man every year we would go out with her dressed up as a Harry Potter witch. I had made myself a wizard’s hat that also lit up. One night I was riding her around in the pedicab and someone yelled out at me, “Are you a wizard?” She loved that so much.
Abigail was painfully shy. Just like Piglet. She never came out to anyone but me. When the first Harry Potter movie came out we went to see it at Universal Theaters on the first day. We were sitting and waiting for the movie to start and a boy of around 10 years sat down beside her. To my surprise, Abigail began talking to him about the book. They carried on quite a conversation. That was a big first for her. As we were walking out after the movie, a news crew approached us and the reporter asked Rhonda how she liked the movie. To my surprise Abigail started talking about how she liked it and how good it was. The reporter had no idea she was talking to Abigail. She only saw Rhonda. I think Abigail had gained confidence and she felt a kinship with the characters in the books and she felt that this was something she knew about. I was really proud of her. I told her how amazing she was. All of my kids loved to hear that I was proud of them. That was something they never got before.
Abigail was so sweet. She really was just like piglet.
Aisling: Thanks Jim, that was beautiful.
Aisling: And here’s a bio for us. The Feathers are a plural gateway system with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at their disposal, currently working in software development at a large company whose name you would recognise. They have one child and reside in the Pacific Northwest. The members of the Feathers family have a wide range of interests, including writing, kite flying, art, cooking, hiking, fashion, video games, and anime.
Annie: What does that term mean, gateway?
Aisling: I knew you’d get me back sooner or later.
Aisling: A gateway system refers to a system where all the members identify as living in their other-world or headspace.
Aisling: In that way, the shared body is just a gateway for those people who wish to visit this world.
Annie: Ah, interesting.
Aisling: We want to extend a warm thanks to everyone who’s participated in this part of the podcast.
Annie: And now we come to the interview section.
Aisling: We have with us today, Kurogane and Samari from the Monokrom System.
Aisling: Can you give us a quick introduction to yourselves?
Samari: Um, sure, my name is Samari. I’m one of what we call an original here, which is not to say, like, an original host or anything, just people who were born in the body. So I’m one of the originals. And I look, physically, like 18, 19, and I’ve got strawberry pink hair and bat wings.
Kurogane: Ah, so, I’m Kurogane. And I really don’t know how to describe myself, honestly. I’m just a guy who fronts. I don’t know.
Samari: He’s a body owner, if you want to get technical about that, which is defined by our system as someone whose main job is to take care of the body. And like make sure that it, well, has good relations and everything.
Aisling: Can you tell us a little about your system?
Samari: Well, we’re a unique, natural plural system that has two bodies, as opposed to the single one. And that’s not to be confused with partner systems. Like, we’re the same system with the same, like, closed headspace. And–
Kurogane: We’re like one family with two cars to drive.
Samari: Yes. We’ve got, currently, on the roster list, 982 residents, or citizens as we like to call them, of our system, but we’ve only got like, maybe, I think, 8 or 10 that actually actively front.
Kurogane: At this time.
Samari: Yeah, that changes. A lot. But at the time, it’s only that many. Um, we have, we’re run pretty much kind of like a nation, in a sense, because we’ve got laws and rules, and a constitutional monarchy that helps run and control things. It’s pretty sophisticated if you want to think about it, but… <laugh> We’ve got a king and queen who are bound by the unwritten constitution to uphold and insure that the system is well taken care of and balanced out, and that no one breaks the rules, which… The number one priority is that bodies are not separated. ‘Cause that can cause immense strain on our system.
Samari: And then under them, we have the princes and princesses, which are… the originals, as we call them, the ones who were born in the bodies. And then under that we’ve got what we call the dukes and duchesses, which are technically the body owners, which are the ones you’ll see 9 out of 10 times. And then directly under them, we’ve got the lords and ladies, as we call them, but I guess the other technical term would be “frequent fronters”, or people that front at least 2 or 3 times a month.
Kurogane: The main difference between body owners and frequent fronters is the fact that body owners can usually front for a lengthier period of time. And they usually have a lot more responsibilities. Body owners can front up to a month, while frequent fronters can only front for about 4 days.
Kurogane: And after that we have our council, which is just a group of people with various representatives from various areas of our system, brought together to represent everybody, equally.
Samari: So… I think that’s a pretty good little intro. <laugh>
Aisling: Okay! So one thing you mentioned in there is “partner systems”, which is what you guys are not– can you describe what that is and how it’s different from what you guys are?
Samari: Right, right. Um… partner systems are two systems that are either– they could be dating, they could be living together in the same house, they could be really close friends, basically just like, how one would describe, like a partner in life, in a way. Except they’re two different systems who work together, as opposed to our system, who would be the exactly same system, we just have two bodies that people can front through. So, as opposed to partner systems, who sometimes can visit each other’s headspace if they’re close enough, we have the exact same headspace, so there’s no differentiating between the two bodies.
Aisling: Ahh, interesting. Okay, so next question– Your system is very open, for example posting videos on your web site, which is unusual in a world where most people are trying to remain very closeted. Can you talk a little about that?
<Kurogane and Samari both starting to talk>
Kurogane: Well, um, basically, eventually we decided, sort of collectively, sort of silently at the same time, that there’s no– we don’t have a big reason to go and hide ourselves, because hiding ourselves is basically telling ourselves we can’t be who we are. And so we wanted and decided it would be best to be open, so everyone– ’cause we like to tell everyone, you can be yourself when you front. No one really cares. But if we say you can be yourself when you front, but you can’t go on a video and show other people who you are, it’s kind of contradictory. So if we’re gonna– basically we can’t be hypocritical.
Kurogane: If we’re gonna be open, we’re gonna be 100% open.
Samari: And then another reason is, when we first, well, when we were younger, before we found out about the plural community, and that there were other systems like us, we assumed we were the only ones like this in the world. We had no grounds to go off of anything. And then, when we finally did find out about it, it was like this big lightbulb went off. It just seemed to fit everything– it answered a lot of questions, we were able to meet a lot of other people, who were living similar lives to ours. We had a lot more discussions and talks about it– Basically, like, well, we found a community to be part of, a group of people or other systems who were like us, that shared similar qualities. So, I like to make videos, especially, like, informational ones, ’cause it’s in hopes that other, like, systems, who don’t know they’re systems, or there’s other people out there like them, can know that they’re not alone. And also spread a little more awareness about what plurality is, as opposed to the mainstream, what people assume it is. Or isn’t.
Aisling: Yeah. You guys’ videos are a pretty cool resource for that, I think.
Samari: Thanks– I try.
Aisling: Uhh, so, is there anything else on your minds?
Samari: Well… I think… One thing I could probably mention since we’re pretty open about that too, and I already made a video about it, is that we… hmm, we’re… part of like, oh god, how do I explain this, umm… A lot of systems, we’ve noticed, tend to try to kind of stay in the back out of things, and, like, live a fairly safe and close life. As opposed to, we kind of stepped out of that boundary a little bit more, and we joined the Army, for a number of reasons, but, even in the Army, we’re still able to find– like, we’re able to be ourselves, like, in something that’s so closed off, and very vigilant as the Army, we’re still able to be ourselves, when we front, we can talk how we want, act how we want, I mean… no one really cares or notices it, but yet… I don’t know. That’s one thing I’d really like to show out to other systems, that you don’t have to have so many ground rules as to how people act when they front. ‘Cause I don’t think anybody– No normal person, or even other systems, per se, would look at someone and notice that they’re acting a little different than they were the other day, and automatically assume that they’re plural, so… You don’t have to be so afraid, to come out, or not even to come out, just to be yourself. Um, a simple change in clothing style here or a different food preference, here and there, it’s not gonna change what people think, or they’re not gonna assume that you’re plural. So there’s not anything to be so afraid of. I mean, I would understand about wanting to be called by different names, and drastic changes, but I don’t think others have to be so afraid of being who they are.
Aisling: I think it’s a lot easier to see from the inside, and so it’s easier to kind of… get worried about that.
Samari: Yeah, People… I mean, I stopped to think about that a while, ’cause no one really notices. Like even us, who, there’s a lot of different changing, and it could be the fact that we’ve been doing it forever, that we’ve never had rules of how people acted when they front, but we noticed that no one really notices. And even if they were to notice a few changes, I don’t think they would assume they you were more than one person in a body, unless that’s the intention you were going for. <chuckle>
Samari: You know, I would just like to help other systems be a little more open, and be themselves, and not be so afraid.
Aisling: Yep. Okay, well, umm, thank you both for joining us today!
Samari: No problem, it was lovely to be on, thank you for having us.
Kurogane: Yeah, thank you for having us, very much.
Aisling: You’re welcome!
Annie: You can find the Monokrom web site at http://sites.google.com/site/monokromsystem/. That URL will also be in the show notes.
Aisling: Thank you for listening to Multiplicity 101.
Aisling: And a big thanks to everyone who contributed to this podcast, including our interview guests, the Monokrom system, as well as our bio contributors, the Ange system and Jim Bunkelman.
Annie: You can be a future guest on Multiplicity 101.
Annie: If you’re interested, please contact us at email@example.com.
Annie: If you have any questions or comments, please email us also.
Aisling: This is an educational podcast of the group Plural Activism.
Aisling: Come join our discussion group on Yahoo Groups, called Plural_Activism.
Aisling: The URL will be in the show notes. [https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Plural_Activism/info]
Annie: You can find show notes and other information at our web site, multiplicity101.com, or at our Dreamwidth page, plural-activism.dreamwidth.org.
Aisling: This podcast was produced with Audacity, a community-built audio editor, and the music was provided by GarageBand.
Aisling: The podcast is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives licence, which means that you can copy it freely as long as you credit us and you don’t modify it.
Aisling: For all other uses, please contact us.
Annie: See you next time!