About the author Or: 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 Marijn van Hoorn.α 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 tryingβ to pick up new skills. (Sketching and gardening, presently.) On the cyber™, i enjoy hanging out with friends, lurking around local fora, tending to this very website, and pretending to be someone else.
The paternal branch of my family, as you might expect, 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 Amsterdamγ — 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.δ
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 meε; 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,ϛ and have a tendency to change my mind on how i want to present several times a week. (Genderfluid, in modern parlance.)
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. I probably wouldn’t want to take them in their current state, but who knows, maybe twenty or so years down the line…
On the apparently obligatory subject of pronouns, i would really prefer it if you would call me “you” when talking to me. What people get up to in the third person is none of my business.
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, 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. I coughed up the money for proper hosting with the fine people at Krystal in 2021, and i’ve been with them ever since.
Some of the biggest inspirations for this site are that of conlanger David J. Peterson,ζ whose style i shamelessly took after for its first incarnation,η that of fellow conlanger and Horineesθ 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.ι
- Favourite album: The 1975’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, more for sentimental value than anything — it was the album that got me into music.
- Favourite songs: In no particular order…
- Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack” has the rare power of making me cry every time i listen to it.
- Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)” is perhaps the greatest love song ever written.
- Sigur Rós’s „Hoppípolla” is the king of crescendos.
- 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 film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind reduced me to blubbering tears on my first watch-through.
- Most enjoyedια film: Back to the Future is the perfect film. Every part of it is immaculately put together — there is not a single thing i would change about it.
- Favourite TV show: Chernobyl — though if we’re not counting miniseries, then Dark surely takes the 33-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!ιβ
- Favourite animal: Otters.
- Favourite languages: In no particular order: Catalan, Greek, Icelandic, and Irish.ιγ
- Sporting loyalties: Newcastle United FC for Englandιδ; 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 teleportationιε 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.ιϛ
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.
- Your favourite poets. — The year is 2021. One does not often have any.
- Your favourite painters and composers. — Rembrandt van Rijn. 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. John Snow, the physician who figured out a cholera outbreak was caused by contaminated water rather than “bad air”. Alan Turing, the computer scientist and WWII code breaker persecuted by the British government for his homosexuality. Willem Arondeus, the gay Dutch resistance fighter whose last words were “tell the people that homosexuals are not by definition weak”. Seretse Khama, the statesman who turned post-colonial Botswana into one of the most successful countries in Africa. Norman Borlaug, the agriculturist whose introduction of high-yield, disease-resistant wheats saved billions from starvation. Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet military officer who refused to start a nuclear war upon receiving a false alarm.
- Your favourite heroines in real life. — Mary Wollstonecraft, the writer and philosopher considered one of the first feminists. Florence Nightingale, the nurse and statistician who organised care for wounded soldiers in the Crimean war and founded the world’s first secular nursing school. Marie Curie, the scientist who discovered radioactivity.
- Your favourite heroes in fiction. — The Dude.
- Your favourite heroines in fiction. — Juliet.
- Your favourite food and drink. — I could demolish a naan bread stuffed with döner kebab any day of the week. For a drink, that sickly-sweet coconut water you can buy at the Asian supermarket.
- Your favourite names. — Other than my own: Xanthe. Aurora. Dionis. 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 chief propagandist for the Nazi regime. Lavrentiy Beria, the genocidal head of Stalin’s secret police. Enoch Powell, the openly racist arch-Tory politician and scholar infamous for his 1968 anti-immigration “rivers of blood” speech. 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.”
If you want to get in touch, please send an email to webmixter at satyrs dot e u. Unless you’re an arsehole or a spambot, i’ll try to respond, promise!
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