Hello Friends

My name is Virgil and I'm 1/2 of Big Soy Naturals. I am a pisces-scorpio-libra and my favorite color used to be pink but I think it might be green now.

I love platform shoes and drinking coffee from a giant cup and not finishing it.

My favorite book is A Lover's Discourse by Roland Barthes. That's followed by Black No More by George S Schuyler, The Varieties of Religious Experiences by William James, Oreo by Fran Ross, The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg. You could email me @ virgil@bigsoynaturals.world if you wanted digital copies of any of them and you would probably get something emailed back to you! Test it out and see.

I'm unfortunately not a big TV or movie person because I can't pay attention to visual media for very long, but I like watching Aeon Flux, Random Acts of Flyness and The Leftovers. In addition to that, my heart breaks anew everyday that I have to accept Neo Yokio will never get a second season. My number one favorite movie is Southland Tales which you should watch immediately if you haven't already.

My music taste is all over the place but I'm down to check out anything that sounds like someone is playing beyblades in my head. Think like .. The Mars Volta, who I have loved since I was in elementary school because I have always been righteous and correct with good taste. My favorite album is The Emergency & I by The Dismemberment Plan and Soul Zodiac by the Nick Adderly Sextet and Rick Holmes is solidly in second place.

My Twitter My Tumblr

My introduction to online started with a voracious appetite for more Sailor Moon episodes and the way my mind was cracked open like an egg when I learned that Sailor Moon was anime and anime came from Japan (I was like 5 when I started watching on toonami and the dub gave them very Irish-American names like Molly and they were always eating noodles which to me signaled Italian so I thought they were in New Jersey because I was also in New Jersey and I've always had a big ego).

Learning that what I had been enjoying on cartoon network was a dubbed over version of a Japanese language animation meant that if I could find illicit fansubs, I could go beyond the same 20 or so episodes that were being syndicated. It was truly a narnia moment for me, and I traversed through dedicated angelfires and geocities and watched every episode I could get my hands on out of order and I did this for years. At each stage of my journey I got better at stealing copyrighted content from the internet which is a skill of high value that I allegedly use to this very day.

Everywhere I went, I lied about being 15 because it seemed like a very sophisticated age to me as someone younger, and by the time I reached my actual 13th birthday - which coincidentally or not is also when I became an adult in the eyes of my faiths - I had finally seen every episode of Sailor Moon. This process was incredibly gratifying to me, and it genuinely took a village to get there. What I took for granted in this somewhat kafkaesque quest was something that is no longer a feature of online today which was community-driven internet infrastructure. The internet was newer then, so all of these fansites and forums were built from the ground up by other fans. The official english translation of the series was homophobic and stopped at season 3 anyway, so Japanese speakers put together their own unofficial dubs and subs, which were then shared covertly in locked forums and password-protected pages so as to not draw the ire of entertainment lawyers or whoever.

Around the same time, I was becoming famous (!!!) which was very exciting to me since I went to an all-white elementary school and as the above paragraph demonstrates I was also a little bit intense about my interests so naturally I didn't have any friends. This was especially sad to me as a Sailor Moon fan since the whole series is about how friendships can transform you into a better version of yourself and literally bring you back to life and save you from a career of evil villainy or villain minionry.

But I digress - I was becoming Neopets famous which was a real thing I promise! There was even a gossip neopets-page that was dedicated to posting salacious things about myself and my neofriends. I, of course, was constantly sending it anonymous tips about myself much like how these days Addison Rae is alerting the paparazzi to her current address at all times. Everyone wanted to be in one of my guilds on Neopets because I designed our guild pages in this cutesy pixel style that I'm 99% was invented on Neopets for Neopets. Most of my guilds were art guilds or Lord of the Rings roleplay guilds because that was one of my other favorite things. LOTR is also a series about friendship so maybe there was something vicarious happening....idk.

That aforementioned collaborative spirit was very much alive on Neopets as well, which as a devout communist I have to appreciate. Being a website (run by the Church of Scientology for a time!) made for children, there was a little more handholding in place but it was considered a little gauche to use one of the premade-by-Neopets guild layouts or user lookup pages. On Neopets, artistic, game or web skill was currency and CLOUT which is something I have dedicated my life around amassing from a very young age. And having those valued skills was how I amassed it. I learned pretty basic HTML and CSS which was enough for me to set up something useable for the guilds I ran centered around my LOTR pixel art. Other people would play games to acquire lots of neopoints and rare items and trade those for higher guild positions or for custom art or coding for their own pages. There was a sense that we were all crucial to making the site a fun place to hang out and it pushed me to become a better writer and artist in order to participate meaningfully.

However, as you all know, nostalgia is fake and a liar and I will do self-crit right now and admit to being a somethingawful head AND a 4chan freak. The thing about having no friends in real life is that it turns you bitter! I was a hater and not in the cool way that I am now, but more like a bully without victims although not for lack of trying. My own experience of being ceaselessly bullied also taught me that it was cringe to be earnest about anything, so of course 4chan which made weaponized apathy its entire ethos was a perfect place for me. People like to pretend that during the time I was online there which was like slightly late Bush Presidency era into the early Obama years that it was not full of bigotry and was a completely different place than it is now. I would say it was not *as* full of bigotry, but the seeds were always there. A lot of people making the same jokes about being equally racist against everyone and gay slurs were baked into the overall vernacular. I can just fully cop to the fact that I liked being in those spaces because it gave me a fleeting feeling of superiority to other people which was valuable to me at a time when I was usually being made to feel inferior.

I traded in one form of extremism for another when I got on tumblr in 2009. I found it by way of livejournal, which I was looking at for gothic outfit inspiration. Tumblr was not my introduction to social justice exactly since I was raised on radical theorists as bedtime stories, but it did help me contextualize a lot of social justice ideas into my real life and how I should treat other people rather than just abstract theories. A lot of what I learned was useful. I developed empathy for things I hadn't even thought of before and I learned accessible entry points to feminism, anti-racism and trans advocacy that I continue to actively build on today. I also learned a lot of people need to just shut up and someone should tell them do so.

My experience on tumblr taught me the importance of chasing citations and thinking for myself while approaching those things with a framework of compassion. What I mean by this is that a lot of people on tumblr were making shit up constantly and also using social justice spaces as a place to work out personal trauma. The dichotomy of good vs bad or problematic vs unproblematic was pervasive and ubiquitous. Those attitudes were very easily transformed into anti-intellectualism and I had to make the conscious decision to engage with things which were deemed "bad" to know and understand fully why something is harmful rather than to drop something once it was deemed problematic. Making the choice to engage with media that way while also developing a more coherent set of radical principles allowed me to sexily and geniusly critique media while consuming it at the same time.

Tumblr was another place where I grew a fanbase but it happened in a way that ultimately I found pretty disturbing and dehumanizing and it is definitely my brush with tumblr stardom that led me down a path of keeping my head down online afterwards.

What I'm excited to get to do with Big Soy Naturals is share some of the internet lore that you either missed or purposefully forgot and connect it to online and IRL phenomena that's happening today. The internet is NOT forever as those of us with photobucket accounts have learned to our great sorrow. I also hope to encourage everyone to find opportunities to collaborate and create more - OFF the Big Internet which is only a bad place with no liberatory potential. And full offense, I want it known that everyone that is paid to talk about online is not as smart as me. Okay! That's all, have fun, see you later!