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Phenotype or Anima?
By Lynna Landstreet/Lynx Canadensis.
Posted to alt.horror.werewolves
on Sun, Sep 12, 1999.
In article<firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com wrote:
> Hrm, well, Therianthropy isn't in the dictionary, correct. However,
> the word "Therianthropic" is. According to "New Webster's Dictionary"
> (copyright 1993): "Therianthropic adj half human and half animal ||
> relating to belief in or worship of such beings [fr Gr therion, beast
> + anthropos, man]"
word "therianthropy" is also used in Adam Douglas's book The Beast
Within: Man, Myths & Werewolves, which was written in 1992. He mentions it
briefly as a more etymologically correct alternate to "lycanthropy" when
referring to shapeshifting into non-lupine forms.
Personally, although I am fascinated by etymology and enjoy using the dictionary
to track the origins of words, I am not troubled by encountering words that aren't
found in the dictionary, or are used contextually in a different sense that given
in the dictionary definition(s).
Considering how heavily influenced by postmodernism my graduate program is, half
the words I come across in articles from academic journals either don't occur in
the dictionary, or are being used completely differently than the dictionary
definition would suggest. Try using a dictionary to make sense of Donna Haraway's
writing and you will quickly see what I mean... :-)
> I prefer the word "animality" or "WereSide" (wereside = the side of
> you that makes you a were, aka, the animal side). I myself don't like the
> word Phenotype, it really IS a misnomer.
I agree. I don't know who coined it in this context or why, but I think there are
better choices available. Here's my suggestion, and backed by a dictionary
definition no less (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition):
anima (n) [NL, fr. L, soul] (1923) An individual's
true inner self that in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects archetypal
ideals of conduct; also: an inner feminine part of the male personality - compare
Most people are more familiar with the latter definition, since it has infiltrated
its way further into pop culture, but the former is really more central. I think
that "anima" is a better choice than "animus", regardless of
gender, because the non-gender-based meanings of the latter are less appropriate:
animus (n) [L, spirit, mind, courage, anger]
(1816) 1: basic attitude or governing spirit: disposition, intention. 2: a usu.
prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will. 3. an inner masculine part
of the female personality in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung - compare anima.
Definition 1 is not bad, though I think not as evocative as the primary meaning of
anima. Definition 3, like the secondary meaning of anima, is simply irrelevant,
and definition 2, which provides the basis for the word "animosity",
is obviously undesirable; I will refrain from commenting on its possible relevance
to certain aspects of Usenet behavior. :-)
(a.k.a. Lynna Landstreet)
(Update [January 20, 2005]: In the years since I originally posted this
to the alt.horror.werewolves newsgroup, the word "phenotype", as used
to indicate the type of animal someone identifies with, seems to be falling out of
favour as more people become aware of the original biological meaning of that term.
A newly coined word, "theriotype", seems to be displacing it, which
while perhaps not as evocative as some of the suggestions above, at least
means exactly what it should: beast-type.)
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