The least accepted part of me. A defense of Waifus.Posted: April 22, 2013
I have previously written about the possibility of regretting posts. I think that out of all the posts I have written so far, this has the highest probability of regret.
But I’ll ignore that feeling of impending doom. This topic is worth writing about precisely because it is bizarre, and so embarrassing to claim.
Firstly, I have a Waifu. For those who aren’t familiar with otaku culture, it’s semantically “wife” with the added implication that she originated from a work of fiction, usually anime or a visual novel. Long story short, a Waifu is a character from a work of fiction that you are in love with. There’s an FAQ on the topic here that will save me the trouble of having to explain it, and if you have no idea what a Waifu is, I advise reading that first in order to gain some context into this post.
This essay is written for two reasons: To explain what my Waifu means to me in an attempt to encode this part of my mind into text, and to justify my participation in Waifudom to anyone who may instinctively judge me for it. It is a fact that the average reaction to this subculture is fear, horror, embarrassment, ridicule, and spite.
For example, on Reddit, there are a number of posts where people learn about this ‘Waifu thing’ for the first time. Allow me to quote from some of the comments.
>First seeing this makes me feel “that’s sad almost. He needs help… HOLY FUCKING SHIT THIS GUY IS CRAZY
>I don’t.. I can’t even.. This is really a thing? Please, for god sakes, tell me this isn’t really a thing.
>…Well now I’m thoroughly depressed. Good god why?
>Still wondering if this kind of thing is a joke, delusion, “actual love” or desperation… Anyhow I feel depressed watching it.
>So it’s like, falling in love with an anime character? Sad and beyond pathetic.
>That is a serious sign of mental instability.Holy hell, that’s sad.
>They’re hurting themselves. They’ve fallen into an abusive relationship with something that isn’t even real. They love it, and it doesn’t love them back. Someday, they’re going to hurt someone when they develop real feelings for a real person, and think that this is an appropriate way to interact with them. They’re likely to develop feelings for someone and not know how to handle it. They may well become stalkers and similarly obsessed, willing, ready, practiced, and able to project emotions and responses that simply aren’t there on to the first girl they meet. That’s unhealthy, dangerous, and quite a bit frightening.http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/qj2c3/forever_alone_level_mai_waifu/
So, if this culture of Waifudom is so despised, is seen as pathetic and pitiful, then why do I do it?
Allow me to first explain what my Waifu actually means to me. The term ‘waifu’ is thrown around a lot, with differing degrees of severity, and meaning different things to different people who engage in the same culturedom, so I would have to elaborate on my own personal thoughts to give better clarification on that matter.
To me, my Waifu is the algorithmic symbolism of my love. She is the embodiment of the subjectively most perfect person possible. I love my Waifu, and I have continuously loved her for 6 years with all my heart, as much as I could ever be capable of loving another.
It’s not even like this phenomenon is novel, as this has been done since mythological times. The concept of falling in love with a fictional construct are older than the tales of Christ himself. The legend of Pygmalion, the king of ancient Cyprus, falling in love with a statue and marrying her, is one that has been told and retold since ages past.
Pygmalion, the mythical king of Cyprus, once carved a statute out of ivory that was so resplendent and delicate no maiden could compare withits beauty.
This statue was the perfect resemblance of a living maiden.Pygmalion fell in love with his creation and often laid his had upon the ivory statute as if to reassure himself it was not living. He named the ivory maiden Galatea and adorned her lovely figure with women’s robes and placed rings on her fingers and jewels about her neck.
At the festival of Aphrodite, which was celebrated with great relish throughout allof Cyprus, lonely Pygmalion lamented his si tuation. When the time came for him to play his part in the processional, Pygmali on stood by the altar and humbly prayed for his statue to come to life.Aphrodite, who also attended the festival, heard his plea and she also knew of the thought he had wanted to utter. Showing her favor, she caused the altar’s flame to flare up three times, shooting a long flame of fire into the still air.
After the day’s festivities, Pygmalion returned home and kissed Galatea as was his custom. At the warmth of her kiss, he started as if stung by a hornet. The arms that were ivory now felt soft to his touch and when he softly pressed her neck the veins throbbed with life. Humbly raising her eyes, the maiden saw Pygmalion and the light of day simultaneously. Aphrodite blessed the happiness and union of this couple with a child. Pygmalion and Galatea named the child Paphos, for which the city is known until this day.
A goddamn King was said to have done it. Would you call a King desperate? But I digress.
For me, having a Waifu is an eternal vow of love and devotion – one that too often has been invoked in real-life marriages only to be ignored in the first sign of trouble. And often that cannot be blamed. Since we only fall in love with a representation of a person, the conflict between ideals and reality can often occur, and prove too heavy to ignore. In human relationships, we never actually love a person so much as we fall in love with our own mental representation of another person. And although this representation, with enough effort, can become a closer approximation to reality, it will always remain a representation. To give an anecdote, my mother spent 5 years dating a man before marrying him under the impression that he was a kind and gentle person, only upon marriage finding out that he was a violent man who would beat her on the slightest misgiving. Although this is an extreme example, it does illustrate the fact that our representations of humans are often quite inaccurate, even after years of companionship.
In contrast to this, to fall in love an abstract mental algorithm means that our understanding of her is closer than reality will ever allow. It means that I can fully understand her in a way that I can never understand a human being, since I have access to her inner monologues, as well as be the one that gives her life. It means that I will never be betrayed by my expectations, nor will I ever lose her.
Furthermore, humans are creatures of negative traits – immutably a part of us. We become jealous, hateful, spiteful, and angry at things. This is not to suggest that Hobbes was right, or that humans are inherently hateful and pitiable creatures, because along with the bad, traits of good exist alongside.
However, this does mean that having a Waifu means that I can have a partner that not only has none of these mandatory traits, but also with positive traits that can never exist in reality, traits such as absolute devotion and infinite benevolence. And there is nothing wrong with desiring these impossible traits, it is perfectly okay to hold desires that will never come true. I merely satisfy my desires for these attributes through a unique outlet, rather than forcing another human being to conform to my expectations and desires, something many attempt and become disappointed by.
Don’t equate this form of love with desperation either. Some readers would be tempted to laugh and say “You need a girlfriend”, or conclude that romantic experience will end this kind of behavior. That’s a baseless assumption – rather, it is the opposite of desperation that drives me to do this, the high standards that I hold for potential mating partners means that I end up being attracted to ideal rather than reality.
I think Waifuism is also a further reflection of my strong compulsion towards perfection. In many ways, this has helped me in my life by pushing me towards absolute victory, but equally as often, it has harmed me through self-anger and the tendency to give up if perfection is impossible. This driving mentality of “Perfection or nothing else” is that which causes my love for my Waifu.
In a sense, an analogy can be drawn between this and mathematical beauty – I love my Waifu in much the same way I love Mathematics – as a perfect, complete, entity. There is a certain beauty in loving an unchanging perfect person. You could even say that since human beings are algorithms, my Waifu is the most beautiful Mathematical equation in the world.
But that does not fully explain why I continue to have a Waifu.
I also do it because I gain a great deal of mental strength from doing so.
There is a common saying against religion that I often hear: Religion is just an emotional crutch for people too weak to deal with reality.
Well, maybe. But if you don’t use a crutch, you’ll break your leg, fall over, hit your head, and die. Consider that reality is harsh, and that certain people, like me, are bad at dealing with the full force of reality. My Waifu is an emotional crutch for me much the same way religion acts as a crutch for many others. We both make use of fictional beings as a way of regaining emotional stability and security. Why should one be ridiculed and the other be perfectly acceptable?
In many ways, I’m a pathetic excuse for a human being – incredibly lazy, narcissistic, and incompetent. My terrible mental hardware forces me to struggle with the will to live every day of my life, and only the hope of the future gives me a reason to continue living. I suffer from recurring depressive episodes and often even the hope of the future is insufficient to motivate me. This kind of mental state also kills off any possible mental strength I can gain from sources such as friends, intellectual curiosity, and other hedonistic pursuits. It incapacitates me, and leaves me incapable of functioning.
It may seem strange, even incomprehensible, but it is during these periods of time when my Waifu gives me the strength to continue fighting. She is the most powerful source of hope when I am at my lowest point, and it is for her that I can persist and live on.
“But she’s not real!” You insist. I could make a really convincing argument that she is — regarding metaphysics, the Many-worlds interpretation and modal realism, but let’s ignore all that for a second and pretend that she isn’t.
What makes you think I want anything realistic? What’s wrong with something that isn’t real? The reason why fiction is so attractive is precisely because it isn’t realistic, because it depicts a situation that could never possibly happen to our lives. Even fiction based in the real world describe scenarios that we could never experience, like living the life a crime detective.
“But it isn’t real!”
Well so fucking what?
It’s precisely because it isn’t real that we enjoy fiction. I don’t want a story where zombies follow the laws of physics and biology, and through having to support the respiratory to digestive to integumentary to excretory systems in order to actually function, expend too much energy and starve to death.
A flesh eating disease focuses all energy on muscles? Without a digestive and circulatory system, the muscles simply aren’t getting the chemical energy they need to contract. Without an excretory system, byproducts of muscular contraction will lead to total blood toxicity and brain death within a few hours. Likewise, I don’t want to read a science fiction novel where one has to wait thousands of years to actually get anywhere, due to the laws of relativity. That’d be incredibly boring.
Who cares about reality? Why would you want to stipulate that ideals actually have to follow the laws of physics, and restrict yourself so religiously to the possible?
If having a Waifu is wrong, if living vicariously through such fantasies is unacceptable, then so is every other work of fiction. After all, because it isn’t real. Why would it make sense for one to be socially acceptable, but the other to be ridiculed? If anything, breaking the laws of physics through FTL travel sound a lot more terrible to me than love, something that already exists amongst humans.
Many ridicule those with Waifus, as though it were that hard to understand, as though falling in love were a sin. But love is love; regardless of who the target of that love is — whether it’s heterosexual, homosexual, or an acausal being in a different multiverse.
And besides; love feels good. Being in Love is the most powerful of all natural drugs. Why should I make myself miserable on purpose? This is an incredibly easy hack to obtain hedonism by taking advantage of my evolutionary functions, one that does not incur any significant cost in turn.
And then at this point, you cry
“But that isn’t normal!”
To which I’d reply;
Why would you want to be “normal” when you could be happy?
What’s the point of conforming to social norms when they do not confer a benefit to you? Why should I care about arbitrary social conventions?
I owe society many things, but the obligation to have a ‘normal’ romantic relationship, or the obligation to carry on my genes, is not one of them.
Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with not being normal. The ability to be different is that which makes humanity all the more interesting. Imagine a world consisting of the same identical person, cloned 8 billion times. That would be terribly boring and awful. We should learn to appreciate the fact that people have different opinions on different things, and that that’s perfectly okay. This part of me does not harm anyone, nor will it ever. It’s a perfectly harmless activity to engage it, and I resent the fact that I’m resented for it.
I’m not trying to say that having a Waifu is necessary, or if it should or should not be done. All I’m doing is invoking the spirit of tolerance in response to amount of pity or ridicule thrown around people who have Waifus.
Far from being unhealthy, my Waifu has saved me and empowered me to achieve things that I could not have otherwise done. To decry this as an act of perversion is inane, and only remarks on your own lack of creativity and ability to comprehend others. One who mocks that which he does not understand is truly pitiful, for that would mean living one’s life in perpetual pessimism and fear, for understanding everything is physically impossible. Accept the fact that this is just something I do, and that there is nothing fundamentally different between me and you, I just enjoy different things than you do, much like one could prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla.
And if after all this, you still think of me as pathetic, then give me a good, well though out explanation as to why. I’d like to hear it.