Cross your heart

I loathe the British National Party, with its murky origins in fascism and people who sought to beat up immigrants. I was amazed and disgusted to see their new logo: a Union Jack in the shape of a heart. A Heart! How dare they?

Well, easily enough. They are liars, seeking to foment and exploit fear and resentment, and generally any BNP councillor is so useless he is kicked out at the next election. But what might a sympathiser think of it, and how relate to that heart? It says, we feel with you and we care about you (and the others don’t). I think the heart is an improvement. It is moving away from anger to hurt.

Inside I read that the BNP wants to stop all immigration. This is an improvement on their previous policy, of sending away people who were born here because of the colour of their skin. They want to end all foreign aid. A man is pictured in a clerical collar and claims to back the BNP because it supports “traditional Christian faith”. This is a lie– no church will admit to having him as a minister.

Their vote collapsed in the by-election, to less than one percent of the electorate.

They got more votes than the English Democrats, who think Scotland and Wales have a far better time on the backs of the English, and want recompense. They want to make St George’s Day a public holiday, and create local events all over the country to celebrate, just as the Irish celebrate St Patrick’s day. Well, no-one is stopping them. They have a picture of a man on horseback in chain mail draped in red crosses on a white background, and a proper idiot he looks. I hope they do not want to use taxpayers’ money on these events. They want to reduce funding for “political correctness that stifles free speech”- and replace it with their own St George-based political correctness.

They beat Democracy 2015, which scored 35 votes, almost as bad as Wolfie Smith did. The Socialist Party (England and Wales) (SPEW) and the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which Arthur Scargill joined after being kicked out of the Labour Party, did not stand.

Homeland

homeland season 2I saw a man get stabbed through the hand.

At one level, Homeland is just a wonderful soap: the husband and the mistress are together, then apart, then together again. She tells him she loved him, but because this is Homeland, he is shackled to a table in an interrogation room. The husband’s daughter has boyfriend trouble- she is in the car when he kills a woman then drives away. And it is always lovely to know that the rich, powerful people have a crap time, too.

At another it is psychological thriller. I like the dislike of Carrie and Quinn, their contrasted intuitive and rational ways of approaching spying, the strengths of both, the increasing trust and respect. I love the way Carrie’s illness is handled, the sympathy created for her.

Why do I keep coming back to it? Perhaps the shocks. The stabbing, the body from nowhere hitting the windscreen, Bassel falling on a thing in the woods which stabs into him. Perhaps the building nightmares: Carrie realises that Brody will blow up the vice president, but is believed to be delusional. Perhaps the stress that the characters are under: Carrie whispers to Brody, coaxingly, that he can tell the truth and his family will be safe. He breaks. Then he goes out of the interrogation room into his messy life, and immediately has to lie, and see the danger his family is in.

I love the acting. Brody tries to play Carrie, and there is a moment where his face changes as he realises it is not working, she is playing him. All the actors manage to communicate their incredulity, desperation, resentment, rage and terror, with beautifully controlled facial muscles.

It is a nightmare. All the characters are under extreme stress, all the time. They may not trust anyone, even their close family. Any anticipated reduction in the stress is a cruel tantalising lie. They have the trauma of keeping up appearances. When Carrie is cared for by her family, that care is oppressive control.

I love it, and am not sure I like that in myself. I anticipate it and enjoy it, and wish I did not. This story of unremitting stress and unavoidable hypocrisy, of decent people trying to do right and caught in a maze- it gives me catharsis, it stimulates my brain in a way I find compulsive.

Human beings are story tellers and story listeners. We imagine ourselves in situations, to learn about the possible and imagine our own possible reactions. This works in contrived situations which I will not experience: no, I will not need repartee in such a situation, but I do need repartee. And- I am living vicariously, getting stimulation from a screen I do not get from my own life.

Why watch it?

Bedford

Footbridge safety: slippery when wet. Walk, don’t run, and always hold the hand rail.

A person is liable in damages for an accident if there is damnum injuria datum– loss caused by wrong. For there to be a wrong, there must be a duty of care- if it is reasonably forseeable that the wrong, negligent failure to take a reasonable precaution, may cause an accident, and the accident happens, then there is liability.

The footbridge at Bedford station is not particularly slippery, but if someone did slip or trip on it, the question of liability is whether there was a reasonable precaution to take which had a good chance of preventing the fall or the hurt. Such a precaution might be, covering the surface with something less slippery.

That precaution would still be available whether or not there are warning signs of the risk. What caused the accident? The carelessness of the person who fell, or the slipperiness of the surface? Both. The person who walks or runs over the footbridge is aware that surfaces can be slippery.

I find the warning signs patronising, as if I do not know that hurrying on a slippery surface increases the risk of falling. So, placing the warning sign there is not a useful precaution to prevent accidents. It tells no-one anything they do not know already. Instead, its purpose is to blame the other. You hurried, you fell, it is your fault: it attempts a moral defence. It is not effective as a legal one: in law the question is whether a different surface is a reasonable precaution against accidents.

That works, for me, as a moral argument. Our society is too litigious. The solicitors’ haiku:

 Have you stubbed your toe?

There must be someone to blame.

Come. Sue him with us.

But then, I have slipped and fallen in the street but not injured myself.

Actually, I felt my usual irritation seeing that on the station foot bridge, but by the time I was down the stairs- shockingly, without holding the hand rail, you will be glad to know that I was uninjured- I had forgotten it. I stood on the platform for ten minutes, enjoying the sunshine, the quiet and the trees.

Also on Bedford: it is a much better shopping centre than Swanston, with Next and M&S, but I could not be bothered. A few days before, I had got chatting to a man on the bus when I went to shut the window and he objected. He told me that he had moved from Bedford because it was full of “supplicants”. I dislike his use of the term- we talk of benefit “claimants” because there is a moral right to a reasonable level of support, which one “claims” rather than begs.

The House of Sleep

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Jonathan_Coe.jpg

Comprehensive plot spoilers.

Kelley gave me this book. I am not always grateful for someone’s decision on how I might spend five or six hours of my time, but I enjoyed it, cared about the characters, and loved the humour. When a man is said to have shot and killed himself, I laughed uproariously- this joke is so beautifully judged- and the farce in two set pieces is deftly set up then milked just enough. The insane villain commits vile yet credible wrongs, and is humiliated beautifully.

The five or six hours were consecutive. Well, I am unemployed. I laughed until I cried, then I cried about yesterday (Tuesday). Repeatedly.

Robert loves a woman in a lesbian relationship. Ze (there’s the plot spoiler) has one magical afternoon with Sarah, then on the rebound she drunkenly invites zem to her bed and ze declines then has Regret out of Hell, ze engineers a meeting with her as she is about to get married, and finally, after her divorce and someone tells zem she loves zem, ze goes to her house.
-Sarah.
-Do I know you?
-Of course you do. It’s me: Robert.
That is the end. We can imagine a happy outcome or not as we wish.

I do not feel my terrible desire for the unobtainable as much as I did even four months ago, and- the book is too late for me for catharsis, and too early for entertainment. But it is the transsexual storyline which gets to me. Robert shaves zer legs early in the book, but apart from that does not show any indication of transsexuality until ze visits a psychiatrist seeking transition. The immediate motivation is because ze loves Sarah, and imagines she is lesbian rather than bi. Hence Robert/Cleo’s horror on discovering she is going to get married.

Motivation for the transition is not discussed in great detail. It might be only that Love: Love as obsession, mingled with ignorance. I loathe the very idea of such love, it makes me fear and dread relationship more. It is only less insane than Marcel’s love for Albertine because the author does not get inside Robert’s head as much as Marcel in Marcel’s.

The transition is blissfully easy. One scene at the psychiatrist’s, one in the operating theatre- just describing losing consciousness, not the evisceration and inversion of the penis, removal of the testicles and creation of the orifice. Cleo passes perfectly, immediately. It feels incidental to the plot. It is a reason why Robert as Cleo can meet an old acquaintance and not be recognised, but the plot has two too many ridiculous coincidences. I bitterly resent not passing, it would make life so much easier.

Why make Robert/Cleo transsexual? To show how far ze will go in zer obsession with Sarah. There is little on zer feelings, it is not really that kind of book. Actually Coe writes that Robert is “a man who falls so deeply in love with a gay woman that he is prepared to do anything to win her affection”. Not transsexual at all, then.

This is a novel, not a moral tract, and it describes Cleo rather than forcing the reader’s judgment of her. That judgment could be disgust at her obsession or sympathy or pity, or laughter.

Buddhist Christianity

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Andrea_Mantegna_035.jpg“God is three, and God is One.” What is that, but a Koan? Koans such as “the sound of one hand clapping” are impossible things, which one tries to understand then simply accepts. Accepting the impossible, realising it is even though it does not make sense, is an important part of spiritual maturity and wisdom. It is a pity that Christians, most damagingly Calvin, have tried to make sense of the Trinity and other doctrine, and it is our fault that Westerners have to turn to Eastern Wisdom where lived Christianity could have given some of the answers.

Religion helps one surrender the need for things to be other than they are, and I have been thinking of my progress in surrendering through the prism of the Christian concept of Faith and Works. James’ epistle mocks faith without works: “So you believe Jesus is the Christ? The devils in Hell believe that, and tremble.” Pelagius, the British heretic, believed one could earn Heaven.

I have a vague idea that Catholic and Reformed official views differ on this, but do not know how precisely. God gave God’s only son to be a sacrifice, to be Incarnated as a human being. We could not earn God’s mercy, so God gave it freely, asking for nothing, like the father of the Prodigal son.

I am terrified of what I imagine are other people’s demands on me, and I flee, and so I want my own salvation through my own Works: I will do Good, and will be OK. Not in the eyes of God, but those of Society. And it occurs to me that no-one has any demands of me. My landlord would like the rent paid, but apart from that I can think of none. I have just skived off CAB this week, and Les forgives me. He is not angry. The judgment on me, if any, is my own.

The demands on me, and the salvation I might gain through meeting them, are alike my own illusory creation.

So rather than saving myself through Works, I seek salvation through Faith. I believe and trust in the World, in Reality. Everything is OK. There is no demand I can meet, no Good I can be, that will make everything OK, that brings within my power and control the ability to Make it all right, and much of my effort towards that and certainly my worry (adding a cubit to my stature?) has been wasted, and yet so far, everything has been alright. I have not always been happy, or seen my way clear, but I have always been all right.

Christianity has the idea of God incarnate, God coming into being as a human, God’s complete empathy with any human suffering possible, God suffering with God’s suffering creation.

I have had faith in myself. Now, I will to have Faith.

Speaking in a vacuum

Jolyn said she believed gay sex is sinful. I responded:

“OK, you can believe homosexual sex is sinful. However the problem is that many teenage gay people believe it is sinful too, because they have been told so by others, and are damaged by the distress they suffer, even to killing themselves. People are bullied because of homosexuality or perceived homosexuality.

“We could agree to disagree, even worship together, because what we share- the desire to follow Christ- is so much more important than what divides us. But if you state your belief in public, however gently, you give aid and comfort to the bullies, and heap distress on the heads of the gay people who are bullied.

“I hope you accept that homosexual desire is so deep-seated that it cannot be said to be a choice. The choice, then, is between celibacy and a loving gay relationship. You can decide that you do not want to have gay sex. I am fine with that. I am less fine with you telling others that you think they should be celibate. What right have you to say that?”

We do not speak or write in a vacuum. What we say has an effect on others. The thing is, I have some sympathy with people who wish to show respect to the Bible, and not just ignore what it says, and people who take their religion seriously. I can understand Jolyn being upset to be called a “hater” for her honestly held religious views. I have no respect for people who deny reality and claim that homosexuality is a choice, but a commonly held reading of the Bible is that it condemns gay sex, and people have lots of reasons for adhering to Christianity.

I have less respect after her response. Why, she asks, is bullying for sexuality considered so much more important than other reasons for bullying? It isn’t, actually. People take body image issues more and more seriously. I have sympathy for her being bullied over being studious at school, but if that could not be prevented, encouraging bullying of gay people hardly makes things better. She does not want her children “confused” by “displays” of her friends’ homosexuality- so we must all pretend to be straight. Having adults pretending all the time, never saying what they really feel, confuses and harms children. It teaches them feelings are something to be ashamed of.

If a gay friend tells Jolyn of his great night out with a new boyfriend, and Jolyn says she disapproves, I don’t think that does huge harm to that friend- but it does no harm at all to Jolyn. People disagree. We think differently and feel differently, and we still rub along together OK.

What harm does Jolyn suffer if she sees a gay kiss on a TV drama, or reads about an out gay man in a magazine? She learns that other people think differently from her, even that they have different disgust reactions. It may be more comfortable if everyone appears to think and feel the same way, but it is more mature to tolerate difference. Which of us is going to Hell is God’s decision, not Jolyn’s.

And- have a look at Neil’s video. You might say that it is crude and manipulative- the music takes you inside the emotional world of the victim, rather than the bully or a bystander- but can you conceive of any circumstances in which you are on the side of the bully, rather than the victim, and his many courageous supporters?

The conversation

File:Pissarro Conversation.jpgHere is a man who believes Sandy was not caused by climate change, but by gay pride. Since June, when Obama proclaimed the month as homosexual/Gay Pride month, America has been hit by everything but a massive earthquake. I accuse him of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit, that is, wilfully blinding himself to the truth. The amount of reality to which you need to wilfully blind yourself to reach this position is frightening. I wondered what I could say to him, so I just said “Hi there”. His source, John McTernan, blames 9/11 on homosexuality. “God raised up Obama to oversee the destruction of America.” I looked through the comments, but found none in dissent.

I hope that John McTernan will drive people away from his position, as they see how insane it is. He offers nothing, beyond sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting, “The Bible says, and God condemns it”. No Christian argument can get through his certainty, or, indeed, his misery: as marriage is equalised across the US and EU, he and his followers will get steadily more despondent and wrathful, until they die- barring a miracle. The joy they take in the certainty of their rectitude will turn to dust and ashes in their mouths.

Then there is Christy Wade who “does not know” whether homosexual behaviour is sin or not. She is wrestling with this, sees it as important, and has not reached a decision. Iissarro_002.jpg know all the different arguments from both viewpoints. Trust me…I have spent much time thinking about this! As she has graduated from a seminary and her ministry is to LGBT youth, allowing her flock to make their own decisions on this may be the best way. We do make our own decision, eventually. She will realise that her sexuality is not a temptation to sin more than straight sexuality is. She was surprised when her mother said she did not embarass her.

As Christy absorbed from her society that being gay was wrong, I think eventually she will absorb that it is not wrong. I hope Christy Wade’s position may influence those who condemn homosexuality towards her more nuanced position. They may see her and realise she is not a monster. Her personal apology from the Church to the LGBT community may influence them.

John McTernan serves the useful purpose of testinghttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Camille_Pissarro_009.jpg to destruction a vile idea. Then there is a whole spectrum of views, Christian and non-Christian. I speak Evangelical, so I try to influence those against equal marriage. There are so many who will dismiss me out of hand, but may be influenced by someone only slightly to the left of their own position.

It is a world conversation, all the different views, all the different people, influencing one another, coming up with new thought, moving towards new understanding. This is the basis of social progress. With what we know now, fascism cannot dominate as it once did. So I feel that even those who are wrong might be wrong in a useful or interesting way, trying a path so that those who come after will close it off, or influencing those further from the truth than they are. And, if I am wrong about an issue, no great harm will come of it.

Upset

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d4/Edward_Burne-Jones_-_An_Angel_Playing_a_Flageolet.jpgI was very upset this morning, and so I analyze, analyze, here. How did misery announce itself? Bursting into tears. This pleases me. Far better than to get irked and irritated and depressed. I almost felt fooled by myself, led slantwise to understanding. As a last attempt to cure epilepsy, the corpus callosum may be cut, but before, each half of the brain is anæsthetised in turn. Sometimes they have different personalities. It felt, this morning, as if I were being led by pictures to an understanding, by- an unconscious I? The other half of my brain?

Think about that incident now. A tribunal hearing concerning a trans woman. I do not think she would have been sacked had she not been trans. I failed to get that over to the tribunal. How do I feel about that now? Not particularly proud of my own performance, though I did as well as I could; fellow-feeling for her, in her deep hurt- No, I am not weeping. It happened, it was. This morning, I got up to go to the CAB, and in the shower burst into tears over it. I was as miserable as I had been on getting the judgment- I burst into tears in the office- though it was four years later. Then I thought of U, and wept over that, and cursed myself for being still so upset- if we had only then ever been honest, only communicated-

I am too upset to go to the CAB. I could talk to C about how I felt. I will ask to do that.

I got C’s email cancelling our meeting five days ago. And- I felt not a lot about that. And now it gets to me- was it because I was like that when we last spoke? I get the idea of clear communication, but still find myself in co-dependency with friends: I will look after them, and they in turn will see what I need, though I do not tell them, and look after me. If I think on it, I can get beyond that, look after myself and state my needs.

I began thinking about that email. How would I approach C? I statements, a “paranoia”- stating this is how I feel, without any judgment on how you have acted or how that feeling might have arisen.

I felt led by something unconscious, part able to communicate, perhaps only able to communicate poetically, obliquely, through pictures the conscious part of me might understand. How do I feel about that ET case, or U’s “lets be friends” speech and what led up to it, now? These things are past.  How do I feel about C’s email? We have sorted it, happily. My great sadness, putting me in tears and unable to face the CAB, I am sure was to do with my fears around C and not those other matters at all, yet it entered my consciousness through thoughts of them. I had not been consciously so upset about C.

Appreciation

I am Wonderful.

Let me say that again:

I am amazing, beautiful, strong
My quivering sensitivity is Blessing, and no weakness
I have a reasonable intellect
I am loving and creative.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Katsushika_hokusai%2C_illustrazione_di_poemi_famosi_-_ariwara_no_narihira%2C_XIX_sec.JPGIn 1987, when I was twenty, I fell in unrequited love, and it took me six months to recover. Quite an effect from two conversations, one very short, and in the anguish of this I realised I had two conflicting self-images. I am the Centre of the Universe, and I am utterly worthless. I think, how wonderful to get such an insight into my unconscious processes, at that age: counter-intuitive, indeed seeming insane, how could I be conscious of either, leave alone both at once. I have been wrestling with it ever since, knowing that I need a synthesis of the two views.

Now I am reading Proust, and I create my self-image in his image, that sensitivity, because he gives me a new way of seeing a human being and I fit that better than I have fitted any other image of a human being before. This is still an approximation, rather than the true human being, and a better one. I think it helps me to appreciate others’ good qualities, with less envy or judgment, if I may appreciate my own.

Before enlightenment, hew wood and draw water; after enlightenment hew wood and draw water. I know. What am I going to do? I don’t know. I want to celebrate all my denials and self-protection mechanisms, my struggling on, my breaking down, my struggle to be that lawyer though not ideally suited to it, my responses, my withdrawal, my state now of self-valuing and self-perception and not earning money because the self-perception seems more important. I have the opportunity for it.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Woman_Looking_at_Herself_in_a_Mirror_1805_Hokusai.jpgI could say, with the concepts of normal which tyrannise everyone, and the difficulty of finding that one road up the hill which is idiosyncratically ones own, that this is the way the world is to everyone. In some, Procrustes only shaves off a bit of skin, in others he removes a leg, but no-one fits and all are damaged. We must see the world and make our best way in it.

I could see how much it is improved, how sexual orientation discrimination is illegal, how it is also disapproved by society- some of the US is more backward, but in Europe and the more civilised parts of the US, it is- and there are still pockets of discrimination and hatred.

I could say the world is not how it ought to be, and it has hurt me, and I am angry with it. I have so much anger and it needs a target. The Evangelical Alliance, perhaps, which spread evil lies about transsexuality from a false understanding of the Bible, or the Gender Identity “Clinic” which gave me no support at all, so terrified were they of being seen to wrongly encourage someone who was not really transsexual, or give that hypothetical deluded man even one milligram of oestrogen. I have said that many times.

Or perhaps I just need not to be angry with or frightened of myself, to see the threats but not give them too much weight- what if I had slipped on the mud and fallen into the water yesterday? It would have been unpleasant, but I would have coped.  I think I can cope with quite a lot, and indeed have done in the past. See the opportunities, and my capabilities, and my worth.

It feels like a choice, and I wonder, what will work?

How could I possibly have imagined myself to be so different from how I am?

The world is as it is.

I am who I am.

Cultural expressions

File:Femminiello.jpgPeople must be Normal. But if you cannot manage that, there are tolerated paths of abnormality. These are not as good as proper Normal, but at least they are our Weird. The Femminielli of Naples are accepted as part of the culture, with roles in ritual and seen as good luck where “transsexuals” may be driven out. (Thanks to Lexi for introducing me to the concept.) The Galli were eunuch priests of Cybele.

So, my path is that of the trans woman. I saw a psychiatrist, and got a diagnosis. Then I “transition”- I change my name, have my facial hair permanently removed, get my genitals adjusted. Now I express myself female, making my voice higher, dressing female, using feminine body-language. I have undertaken to so express myself life long, and have had this confirmed by a psychiatrist and my GP, and so am rewarded with my gender recognition certificate and protected under the Equality Act 2010. Also in my culture are drag queens, female impersonators and transvestites- all of whom do their thing in particular locations, and not full time.

God, I want to fit in. So I am not certain whether I want to use a higher voice because I want it, or because that is the way to be a normal trans woman. That path was made for androphilic M-Fs, and lesbian M-Fs had The Script- “I knew there was something wrong aged 3, and I knew I was a girl aged 5, no I have never masturbated to fantasies of being female, no sir, not never not nohow” etc. We needed the script because we needed to tell the psychiatrist what he needed to hear before he could give us what we wanted. I think it is not quite so bad now. On the forums, we policed ourselves: the wrath awaiting those who were “Non-op” or thought they might be “autogynephiliac” was severe.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c9/Sacrifice_to_Cybele_-_Ostia_Antica.JPGThis concerns how I see myself, how I feel, how I respond, unconsciously and consciously. It concerns where I am conflicted, dragged in two ways- my No, making me hide in my living room.

A Gallus could not be a Roman citizen, because Romans could not castrate themselves. There would be ways round it- use a different accent, blind eyes turned, no-one actually inspects you- and someone would be safe unless someone with a grudge dobbed her in, perhaps. The Rules, the Normal, never lets you survive, it only pretends to; you have to break the rules to survive.

The hermeneutic of suspicion works. The Bible is not this good thing given by God for our good, it is imperfect and written by men in patriarchy. Similarly, I must be suspicious of everything I have absorbed. Nothing can be trusted, each perception needs questioned.

I ministered on this, and the enforcement of conformity: the Legal Services Commission deciding that all files should be fastened in date order with a treasury tag or similar, and marking down on the Audit if they were not, and the Broad and Narrow Way, and after Liz said to me that a phrase should be translated

I am IS the way, the truth and the life

and that makes a huge difference to it.