I am an angel, I say with a thousand voices,
I have transcended my human skin and bones.
But inside I still can’t stand myself
Nor can I find a way to exist within myself.
excerpt from dual location – Adrian Reese
An accusatory finger, an uncertain future.
It is you who is still living in the past.
My halo covers my eyes; I do not see.
My spines keep you away; I do not feel.
Angels are a theme that recurs in my work. It is a little odd, actually, the number of Catholic themes that have been cropping up in it recently, as I am not a practicing Catholic. I was raised that way, but at this point I am more of an atheist, and on a more spiritual day, maybe a polytheist.
But angels come back, again and again.
I don’t really like the “fluffy” version of angels, like the kind you see those wooden statues of in your religion teacher’s office. Instead, I like the eldritch, ethereal horror of them. The too many eyes, the many wings, the flame, the swords, the wheels within wheels. How unknowable they are. How inhuman.
In many ways I’ve felt inhuman myself. I am nonbinary, which means that I do not fit neatly into any one gender. Instead, I feel its absence, and that sets me apart from many people. Even more to the point, I’ve had to study people in order to understand them. When I was younger, I had no emotional intelligence whatsoever. I relied on MBTI (the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) to gauge the patterns of thought and behavior that other people were likely to have. I didn’t understand any of it innately – I still don’t. I’m better at figuring people out now, but my past is a series of painful mistakes and missteps.
So an angel, a creature that has to say Do not be afraid appeals to me, because I have felt monstrous myself (and monsters are another theme in my work) and inhuman myself. I’ve asked myself countless times, why can’t I just be one thing or the other? Why can’t I be something that other humans will recognize?
To another point on why angels recur in my work, I sometimes or even often feel disconnected or dissociated from my body, my physical form. I am dysphoric in that what I see in the mirror does not reflect who I want to be or who I imagine myself as. But what do I imagine myself as? Do I really see a physical self in my imaginings? If I could transcend this flesh, would I?
What do you think of angels as a kind of monster? Do you ever feel associated with monsters or angels?