About the authorOr: Who does this guy think they are, anyway?
Ah, you’ve made it! I’ve gone by many names over the years, but for our purposes, you can call me Xanthe Tynehorne.2 I’m a Dutch citizen by birth, but for many years now i’ve lived shunted up against Hadrian’s wall in green and pleasant England.
In meatspace, i enjoy having a good walk, exploring and learning about my local area, and trying (and failing) to pick up new skills. (Sketching and gardening, presently.) On the cyber™, i enjoy hanging out with friends, lurking around local fora, and tending to this humble forest.
The paternal branch of my family hail from the proud seafaring city of Hoorn, in North Holland. In the ’60s, it was designated by the government as an overflow town for those fleeing cramped and crowded Amsterdam3 — think like the new towns of Britain, but building on a preëxisting urban core — and my family took up the offer, bringing with them their belongings, talents, and accents. (Via surnames one can also trace the family history back to the province of Utrecht, but records are flaky, and in any case i feel no particular attraction to some random lord’s estate.)
I’m told i’ve got a bit of Polish and Gypsy in me, via my oma and opa, as well as a distant kinship with the mononymous Dutch singer Gordon.
The maternal branch of my family, meanwhile, have lived in the industrial heart of south-eastern Northumberland for as long as anyone can remember; my grandfather was a coal miner before Thatcher shut it all down. My mum consciously affected an RP accent when raising me; nevertheless, Geordie words and Pitmaticisms have been clawing their way back to my tongue since secondary school.
That side of my family also count a fair few Jehovah’s Witnesses amongst their ranks. My mum, thank goodness, got out when she came of age; she and papa raised me fiercely secular. (More on that note later.)
Ah, yes, gender — that perpetual bugbear. The long and short of it is that i don’t particularly consider myself either male or female — i rather like to think that i combine the best aspects of both.
I once heard someone draw a difference between two types of androgyny. The stereotypical image of those of us who don’t consider ourselves male or female is that of the “negative” androgyne — a scrawny, trim-haired youngster who tries their darnedest not to look too strongly like either a man or a woman — but i would much rather present myself as the “positive” androgyne: a buxom, bearded she-bear who looks like one of each had a transporter accident.
As far as *hushed whispers* “The Surgery” is concerned, there have been significant advances in recent years that let someone have both sets of down-there bits. It’s a far cry from true Hermaphroditism4, and i probably wouldn’t want to take them in their current state, but who knows, maybe twenty or so years down the line…
I am a Pagan, holding faith in the Gods of old. My worship is primarily focussed on the the Hellenic pantheon, historically praised all the way from Britain to Bactria. As mentioned, i was raised an atheist, but as i grew older, i had a sneaking suspicion that there had to be something up there (or down there, as the case may be). I found the answers provided by the major monotheistic faiths to be utterly unsatisfying, but when i looked into polytheism, something in my head just clicked — it all made sense.
There’s no reason for me to bore you to death with my political beliefs. Suffice it to say that i think humans are, generally, nice, that people should be free to do whatever they ruddy well like so long as it isn’t hurting anyone, and that stubborn misanthropy and hatred should be stamped out wherever they rear their ugly head.
I’m young enough that i’ve never known of a time without the internet. My dad was a big-shot network engineer; my mum used IRC chats and BBSes to escape her restrictive household — it was almost a given that they would give me near-unfettered internet access from far too young an age. It’s long lost now, but on that early edition of Internet Explorer, they’d set up for me a list of curated bookmarks; endless rabbit holes of twisty little passages and personal sites tailored to just my interests. That was where my love story with the world wide web began.
Many years later, in 2017, i started toying around on the free web host Neocities to get some respite from all the venom and vitriol of social media. The site lay dormant for years, until, suddenly, in the spring of 2020, everyone suddenly had a surprising amount of time stuck at home with bugger-all else to do: some people baked sourdough; i tended to my website. There have been redesigns, relocations, and renamings over the years, but i’ve kept The Satyrs’ Forest alive with activity ever since. Let’s hope it keeps up, aye?
Some of the biggest inspirations for this site are that of conlanger David J. Peterson, whose style i shamelessly took after for its first incarnation5, that of fellow Horinees6 Jan van Steenbergen, and Gwern.net, which introduced me to sidenotes (the love of my life), those little icons next to external links, and good typography.
Favourite albums: My top five would probably consist of the
following — nothing older than the eighties, because i’m a cultureless
- The 1975’s preposterously-titled sophomore album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it was the album that got me into music, but for my money, their best work is 2022’s Being Funny in a Foreign Language: the distillation of everything that makes them great.
- What more is there to say about Radiohead’s OK Computer that hasn’t already been said a thousand times?
- XTC’s odd little Beatlesque Pagan baroque-pop album Apple Venus Volume One isn’t on streaming, but you really must give it a listen if you can track it down.
- Sigur Rós’ Ágætis byrjun is pure emotional magic, even without a comprehensible word in sight.
- Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love is a masterclass in the art of pop.
Favourite songs: In no particular order…
- Ride’s “Leave Them All Behind”. No further elaboration needed.
- Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack” makes me blubber like a baby every time i hear it.
- Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)” is the greatest love song ever written.
- The 1975’s “The Sound” is the best pop song of the century and i will fight you on that.
- Least favourite song: Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” sounds like how having a stick covered in shards of broken glass shoved up your arse feels.
Favourite films: In rough order of preference, some films
i’d consider “10 out of 10”:
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reduced me to tears on my first watch-through.
- Back to the Future is practically perfect — there’s not a single thing i’d change about it. (While we’re here, i may as well say that the third is better than the second, and i’ll fight anyone who challenges me on that.)
- The Truman Show is just bloody brilliant.
- Favourite TV show: Chernobyl — though if we’re not counting miniseries, then Dark surely takes the thirty-three-year-old irradiated cake.
- Favourite video game: Minecraft isn’t a video game. It’s a way of life.
- Favourite colour: Purple. 💜
- Favourite planet: Earth, of course. It’s the only one with any variety in the scenery, and i couldn’t live without it. Pluto is a close second; i think the IAU have treated it unfairly, and the fact that it has a heart on it is just so endearing!7
- Favourite animal: Otters.
- Favourite languages: In no particular order: Catalan, English, ancient Greek, Icelandic, and Irish.
- Sporting loyalties: Newcastle United FC8 for England; AFC Ajax for the Netherlands. I don’t particularly care for sports in the U.S. and Canada, but if someone asked me at gunpoint to name my favourites out of the Big 4+2, i’d say… maybe Bengals 🏈, Orioles ⚾, Bucks 🏀, Kraken 🏑, Fire ⚽, and Ti-Cats 🍁?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Shapeshifting, shapeshifting, shapeshifting! I realise it’s somewhat of a stereotypical answer for transgendered folk, but ignoring that, no other superpower except maybe teleportation9 lets you see so much of the human (and non-human) experience. Screw being a man for a day, why not infiltrate an MI5 meeting? Run with the wolves? Grow some antlers or an extra pair of arms? The possibilities are limitless.10
Bonus answers: Proust’s questionnaire
In the late nineteenth century, the French author Marcel Proust answered a series of questions from an old-fashioned English confession album; since then, the questions have often been used as a subject for interviews. Here are my answers to them.
- Your favourite virtue. — The ability to admit to one’s own mistakes.
- Your favourite qualities in a man. — The embracement of his feminine side.
- Your favourite qualities in a woman. — The embracement of her masculine side.
- Your favourite occupation. — A good walk.
- Your chief characteristic. — I couldn’t possibly comment.
- Your idea of happiness. — A nice sit down by the fireplace in a musty old room full of books, music albums, and worn paintings, with a view overlooking a pool in the countryside. That’s the life right there.
- Your idea of misery. — Receiving complaints by one’s own relatives for all eternity.
- Your favourite colour and flower. — Lavender.
- If not yourself, who would you be? — Who is to say that i am myself?
- Where would you like to live? — A large, secluded home, out in the countryside, but not so far out that it becomes a pain to visit the big city. Probably England, rather than the Netherlands, if only for the sheer diversity of scenery. (We’ve got rainforests , yi kna!)
- Your favourite prose authors. — Terry Pratchett. Robert Macfarlane.
- Your favourite poets. — William Blake. Maybe. It’s 2022, and poetry doesn’t particularly rank in the list of art forms enjoyed by the average person.
- Your favourite painters and composers. — Maxfield Parrish. Francisco Goya. Ken Currie. Ilya Repin. Thom Yorke&Jonny Greenwood. Wes Anderson, if one is willing to include painters of the screen.
- Your favourite heroes in real life. — Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. Olaudah Equiano, the abolitionist and author who escaped from slavery. Willem Arondeus, the gay Dutch resistance fighter whose last words were “tell the people that homosexuals are not by definition weak”. Norman Borlaug, the agriculturist whose introduction of high-yield, disease-resistant wheats saved billions from starvation.
- Your favourite heroines in real life. — Mary Wollstonecraft, the writer and philosopher considered one of the first feminists. Marie Curie, the scientist who discovered and would perish at the hands of radioactivity.
- Your favourite heroes in fiction. — The Dude. Waymond Wang.
- Your favourite heroines in fiction. — Juliet. Trinity.
- Your favourite food and drink. — I could demolish a naan bread stuffed with döner kebab any day of the week. For a drink, sickly-sweet milk bubble tea.
- Your favourite names. — Other than my own: Aurora. Dionis. Floriaan. Geoffrey. IJsbrand. Dick van Dyke. As a surname, Urquhart.
- Your pet aversion. — Those who plug their ears at the sound of another's thought. Also, small, loud dogs.
- What characters in history do you most dislike. — Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi regime’s chief propagandist. Lavrentiy Beria, the genocidal head of Stalin’s secret police. Enoch Powell, the openly racist arch-Tory who became infamous for his anti-immigration “rivers of blood” speech in 1968. Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative activist who kneecapped women’s rights in the United States.
- What is your present state of mind. — Wouldn’t you like to know?
- For what fault have you most toleration? — Foolishness.
- Your favourite motto. — “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Temporary note: Note that as of July 2023, my email situation is slightly fucked, so your message might get lost in the post for now. Apologies.
If you want to get in touch, please send an email to webmixter at satyrs dot ee yew. Unless you’re an arsehole or a spambot, i’ll try to respond, promise!