Froge Will Die on May 20, 2021
If I died after publishing “Black on Both Sides”, it would be enough.
A blog is merely an extension of the creator, and though we live as a continuous being in the real world, we live as separate entities with separate lives when we bother to create something. We learn skills as a single human being, but mastery of those skills demand we devote large chunks of our lives in devoted study, segregating this area of ourselves between what we usually do and what we wish to do. Different skills let us become one persona one day, and another persona the next day. If someone is both a writer and an artist, we’re rarely infatuated with them personally, and so we don’t consider the entirely of their work. We consider their writing output and their artistic output as if they were two wholly different people, because to most of their fans, they might as well be. Does it matter if you’re a jack-of-all-trades when your fans only care about one?
When we create a project and demand people see it, we demand people see a particular version of ourselves we have especially curated for the purposes of publication. We create a personal brand around this project and express ourselves in ways consistent to the brand, limiting our ability to be ourselves. We do this because we know if our fans truly knew who we were, they would recoil at us, and those who don’t would act indifferent. Why? Because it’s not about the artist. It’s about the art. It’s about what they create, not who they are, and those fans who care about who we are will become obsessive watchdogs of our public persona, hoping to gain insight into the private one in the expectation that one day, they will understand you better than you do yourself. Separating your art from yourself isn’t merely formal. It’s a survival mechanism. We prop up masks and prevent our true selves from being seen because if we didn’t we would be punished for our honesty. Such is the nature of collective cooperation.
And one day our personas just die.
The majority of personas die unceremoniously. They upload something arbitrarily, and then they never do it again, buried in the sands of time with the prior fans shifting through the remains trying to relive a time that will never come back. Sometimes a spirit from the afterlife returns with a cheeky bon mot about how good it was to be alive, but unable to find the strength to return. Sometimes personas present themselves in public so rarely and so glacially they’re in a perpetual purgatory where it doesn’t matter if they’re dead, because they’ve never been alive to begin with. All of this assumes the persona doesn’t delete their existence from the Internet, leaving evidence of their life littered around archives and hard drives, waiting to disappear as their few devoted followers reminisce over the long-lost texts they’ll never get to read again.
Life isn’t a narrative with a defined structure, where there is an author we expect to provide a satisfying story in discrete chunks, and where all the themes within it are resolved in a sensible manner. Life is arbitrary, and one day you die for no reason. We were never asked to be born, and so when we die, we don’t expect ceremony. Yet when it comes to personas and the creations resultant, we have control over their lives. We demand they be born. We demand they be seen. And we have the power to demand when they die, how they die, and how we present their deaths for the sake of the friends and fans they accumulate over their brief existence. We control the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, and though we put so much pomp and circumstance into the birth of an online presence, we let it wither away into the ether, disappearing without a trace.
The reason for this is fear.
The vast majority of art is a rebellion against insecurity. They’re power fantasies in subtle forms, whether taking the form of a story in which you have power you lack, or an expression of the beauty you wish existed in the world yet only expressible through visual form, or mere rhetoric in which you present your opinions and pretend they matter. The existence of art itself is insecurity. Art declares that you exist, you were here, you were alive, and you created something so important it cements your immortality by virtue of your postmortem appreciators. If we were satisfied with our mediocre lives, we wouldn’t aspire to any greater beauty than existence itself. We wouldn’t create, because passive consumption would satisfy us. We would be secure in our mediocrity, living a simple life where there is no audience to please but yourself. We wouldn’t have an alter ego because we don’t have an ego to begin with. We would aspire to nothing, and find joy in our sloth.
It’s this insecure nature of creation which allows it to fill the simultaneous roles of a stressor which brings you guilt for not indulging it and the therapist which helps you solve the problems which you created yourself. In this sense, creation is narcissistic, because once you allow it into your life, there’s no argument which will prevent your own ruination. The simplest solution would be to get creation out of your life, to annihilate the personas you create in pursuit of it, and to live quietly in your own self-assured way. Yet the idea of not writing, of not drawing, of not doing anything with yourself even if it’s not important in any objective sense is one which artists rebel against. It borders on compulsive masochism, where they have trained themselves to seek out angst and then task themselves with the temporary assuagement of it so they can get pleasure out of doing so. Creation is fear, publication is fear, and like horror buffs and theme park fanatics, they’ve learned to flirt with fear because it’s one of the few feelings which give them joy.
A hobby based on fear is unsustainable if you allow it to become a central part of your life. Flirting with it is one thing, but going steady and committing to a feeling that’s always been a novel fling will give you the terrifying lows of persistent anxiety without the satisfying highs of experiencing something new. Artists, writers, and other creators are notoriously neurotic peoples. Is it any wonder why? Their hobbies dance on the double-sided edge of reality, using what we know in the real world to summon forth beauty from a false world which exists only in their imaginations. They’re consistently anxious because they know the real world is an awful place to be, and yet dress it up for human consumption so we can imagine a world we aren’t living in and yet get to experience regardless. They’re addicted to the pain of it because they get to kill the pain, and even better if they get someone just like them to understand they even bother to make anything at all when they would be happier suffering in silence. The combination of self-inflicted wounds and approval from your peers is intoxicating. Burnout is inevitable.
Personas die because we’re human, we’re afraid, we burn out… and we fade away.
“Black on Both Sides” would have been a good Hangover to end on. Partially because it’s good, partially because it’s damn near an ending to the era we live in. I was right when I said nobody would remember Black Lives Matters in two months. The United States election is two days away, where the two candidates represent only slightly different shades of the most unfettered capitalism on Earth, and little will change from the new normal we find ourselves in, where nation-wide protests are part of the background noise and a pandemic with 45,000,000 infections is a minor concern. George Floyd’s death was the denouement of this five-years long narrative arc, where the political nonfunctionality of the United States became so extreme and of such global concern that even the bread and circuses couldn’t stave off the discontentment of the proletariat. Regardless of who wins the election, we all lose. The idealism of the early 2010s has long since passed. Welcome to the New 20s. Nobody lives for free.
If I dipped forever and left Frogesay at that, it would be a grim reminder of the heinousness of the human condition, and how evils can be omnipresent while never affecting you. The overarching theme of my artistic output is having the courage to be better than you are, whether in important or unimportant matters. In expressing this theme, it’s essential to discuss the failures of the hundreds of millions of people who aren’t you. Ending off on a fundamental societal failure tapering off into a selection of my unpublished works reinforces this theme. It would be a sudden ending, but it would be a fitting one.
I now announce the formal death of Froge.
I have outgrown this persona. It’s an exoskeleton which has served me adequately over the past five years, and I now realise the limitations I have created for myself in staying in too late. I have created great things with Froge, and though there was much mediocrity, I concede some of my creations are worth feeling proud of. I say this with the understanding they were created as an immature, undeveloped version of myself who spend much of his time on the Internet expressing opinions for the mere purpose of having them said. I had gone through my projects as a second puberty for myself, learning what it’s like to be a stupid adolescent for the second time, in all his hatred and smarm. The twin snakes of unthinking arrogance combined with endless neurotic self-reflections have worn down my psyche to a nub, unable to reconcile these two disparate parts of my personality without having a tamper tantrum over myself each time I sat down to write. Looking over my work reminds me of a person I no longer am, who I hope not to be, and which is no longer fitting for what I desire to make.
Rebirth is in the hearts of all men. The notion of starting over and becoming someone greater than your prior self is appealing to those who’ve received a bad lot in life, by their own doing or otherwise. Before the Internet, we would do so by cutting off all our social ties and moving to a location where nobody knows our name. Having to live as a physical being complicates the notion of being born again, because you can’t be born twice. Online, every time you register a brand-new username is the start of a new life, where you dictate what you want out of it and the terms of that life’s existence. When you want it to die, you simply stop posting. The ennui that men feel when they do nothing with their lives is merely a failure to let their current selves die, where what they do and where they find themselves is not what gives them peace. Rebirth as a new man, with new skills, and a new philosophy of what they want out of life is the most effective cure for their own empty souls. The fires of life glow as ashen embers, and if we smother them we walk the earth without a guiding light.
The trouble is choosing to die. The trouble is knowing you can’t go on like this, yet refusing to stop what you’re doing. Whether the circumstances are an internal battle of wits, or an external battle against the obligations you brought on yourself, we continue on our inertial course of fear and self-loathing because it’s all we really know. Why would we bother taking a risk with the great unknown when we can live as we always have in the comfort of discontent? The certainty of a self-hating existence provides comfort that is challenged by an uncertain existence where you have the potential to be exceptional. Certainty is more appealing to us than excellence, where it’s better to be sure of an insidious ennui than it is to be unsure of a future where you’re better than you are now. The majority of self-improvement comes from a place that doesn’t challenge the limitations we set for ourselves to prevent experiencing the unfamiliar. People with this mindset are the walking dead, limiting what they could be so they don’t have to feel a pain more foreign than what they already experience. They’re numb to their own lost cause, and so they die without their own consent.
I will be happy to execute Froge on May 20, 2021. Five years after the start of my Internet presence.
Before then, I’ll publish the remainder of my works meant for online consumption, which consists of two novel fragments, two fanfiction chapters, two unfinished articles, a to-do list detailing technical aspects I would change on each of the websites I possess, and some disparate poems written for my own self. Afterwards, I’ll curate and collect my articles into a series of e-books, showcasing my articles in chronological order with some additional commentary. In addition to this, I will publish a series of retrospectives at arbitrary times on the nature of Froge and all the themes within. As my works at this time total over 800,000 words, I expect this project to be both intimately obsessive and excessively selfcestuous. I am also bad at time management. Expect multiple failures.
I will not be deleting my online works, and to do so would be meaningless. I have personally archived my websites on the Internet Archive and archive.today, which are trivial to trawl through for anyone with cursory knowledge of Web preservation — although my links to external websites have spotty archival coverage, especially of social media posts. I am aware this series of events is a contradiction, wanting to abandon my persona but not remove traces of its existence so it can be well and truly dead. An artist’s hiatus is ultimately of no meaning to anyone other than the artist, even if it’s necessary for their mental health, and acts as an annoyance to their fans who will eagerly await any form of content so long as it’s not phoned-in. An artist deliberately removing all trace of their prior works is even worse for fans because it definitely destroys everything the fans enjoyed, to the endless chagrin of art and archival communities, where the pleasure they got out of the work is more significant to them than the artist’s subjective interpretation of the quality of their own work.
An additional reason I’m not deleting my work is because it doesn’t matter what I think of it. I can tell you I think a lot of my work is crap. The same for Yahtzee Croshaw and his “old site full of crap”, including his truly awful webcomics. Yet he keeps his hundreds of thousands of words online, his dozens of terrible images online, and his endless rants about inane subject matter online — even including the stylesheets and formatting intact. Why? Because it doesn’t matter if he thinks it’s terrible so long as other people get to look back on the works they enjoyed from him in his primitive years. And it doesn’t matter if an Internet artist thinks their old works are not worth looking at, because they have dozens, if not hundreds of devoted fans who care for the entirety of their discography regardless of the artist’s opinion of themselves. The work is worth keeping alive because the audience keeps it alive in their hearts. Your ego may say your work is garbage, but your ego is wrong. It’s heinous to delete something that so many people enjoy, and when you look back on your older works, you’ll find that maybe, just maybe, they aren’t so bad after all.
This process is documented in visual form with Jerma985 reacting to an ancient video of his dog he uploaded. The pain on that man’s face is the pain every artist feels, all the time, forever. “I’m deleting this video on stream”, he says. “You’re gonna watch me do it”. Of course, he didn’t, and we’re all better off with Otto’s Big Adventure in our lives, even if it’s only because Otto took a dump.
My own output is obviously imperfect, but then that’s not the point, is it? It’s good enough for whoever enjoys it, and once in a while I make something which I can be irrelevantly proud of. I will acknowledge my past and keep it available, but my creations are too immature for me to bear in mind going forward, and I am abandoning my legacy for the sake of starting anew. I do not know what I will do upon my death, and I don’t know what I will be born into. I created Froge for no real reason, and in this respect his death holds more significance than his life ever did. I’m grateful to have fostered him, and without his constant guidance — without those endless neurotic self-reflections — I would not have the perspective on the world that I possess, and I would not have outgrown him had I never created him at all.
Expect further publications from Froge, because those will be his last.