His Holiness

https://i0.wp.com/www.catholicsupply.com/pope/PopeBenedictXVIPoster1.jpgI have no problem with the phrase “His Holiness the Dalai Lama”, but Maledict is just a nasty old man who hates gay people and uppity women.

On 21 December, he attacked trans people. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, which serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. Full text here, thanks to New Ways Ministry.

This starts as a criticism of Simone de Beauvoir: “One is not born a woman, one becomes so”. Society moulds women, and women may mould ourselves otherwise. For the Pope, God creates the woman’s role. Vatican Radio This tiny header image from Vatican Radio illustrates it perfectly, a happy normal family under a huge, looming Pope. For those who fit the mould, this is wonderful; for those of us who do not, it is Hell.

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. Full text here. I got it from Wikiquote: it does not take long to find the Pope’s blathers on people he does not like. This insane, one size fits all morality is throughout his writings and speechifyings. Yes I had a penis, but the thought that this defined me as a human being shows a complete misunderstanding of what it is to be human.

That is the understanding of Benny I get from my culture, but also from Vatican radio and his addresses at the most important times of the Christian year: a wicked old fool who hates gay people. But- who believes this stuff? Why does he have the allegiance of most Catholics?

The best analogy I can give is that of Newton. Newton explained how the planets went round the Sun, and how apples fell from trees, and his theories fitted observable data until the late 19th century. And then there were only the slightest variations, which might be faults in the data rather than the theories. Then Einstein explained the variations.

A majority of people are straight, and even a majority can just-about fit Benny’s prescriptions. Outliers like me need to be crushed and twisted to fit them, beyond recognition, and no-one fits them perfectly, but many might not notice the gaps because of the sense of safety these rules give them. They give the illusion of understanding the world.

De Beauvoir is right, there is far too much variation to fit these old moulds, but the framework may work for some. Two people who vow to love each other life long, both of whom give it the work required and mature together, may even benefit from it. They would buy posters like the one illustrated, from Catholic Supplies.


Sword and daggerI start the kata Bassai-dai with my feet together, knees bent, right fist touching left fingers, forearms at 90° to each other, fist in front of my mouth. It is a strange posture. You would not think it a power pose. My mind is whirring away: I want to memorise the kata, because I am fed up doing it in the centre of a group, trying to see what the others are doing, and following them, and barely getting the stances right. That looks like the arms windmilling again: actually it is the third block, then the second. So I have the video.

Alex said he watched the video over and over again, each count repeatedly to see what was going on, then to copy it, then to do one after the other, starting from the beginning, venturing a little farther in each time. So I do too. Which block is that? Which foot moves, and how? This morning (Tuesday) in over an hour I have learned the first ten counts in order, though I will have to refresh my memory tomorrow.

So I stand, tense, mind whirring, knees bent, mouth covered, tense. Suddenly, I- step through the looking glass. Or turn 1º away from the shadows at the back of the cave. I relax. From frightened and submissive I expand. This is my world, and I have a right to be here. I may do what I need to do.

Only in my living room. Only for a moment. I am not certain of it: there is an arguable case that thoughts like this make me less, not more, able to face the World. And yet it seems to me that my habitual way of being is frightened and angry and hiding away, and this is an alternative way of being, and the more I access it the easier it becomes. It is that meditative state of presence which I sometimes reach, kneeling in my ritual space, which I wish to reach in action and movement, and in social situations.

It is a state which I fear, and avoid. So I put off meditation and watch TV, or “play” spider solitaire repetitively, compulsively. In practice I do not simply relax and go there, reliably. This verbal analysis, probing and thinking, who am I? How am I?- is how I make myself more able to be in that state, for I notice it, approve it, pat my own back, pat my own head.

It might be useful to challenge myself. Not going to the Quaker meeting frightened me. Rather than dragging myself unwillingly I want to encourage myself to go back to CAB and other situations I find uncongenial.

Sanctifying had something to do with a sense of constant wonder – feeling gratitude and finding significance everywhere, in every action, relationship and object.
– Vanessa Ochs

Stance 18, pictured, is definitely a power pose. Doing it naturally, I sag. I have to think about standing properly upright with my arms like that. Count 18“Gratitude and significance”, I say to myself.


Fire and deathResentment might be a positive quality, but how might bitterness be?

Kneel. Now.
Oh, OK. I kneel in my ritual space, though the habit I have long wanted to inculcate is kneeling on getting up and before going to bed. The image that comes into my mind is a caricature, not a real person: someone else, not as she really is. The caricature is a sad, bitter tranny.

A message from my unconscious, which may be “God”- I am in an atheist mood atm. My conscious mind may accept or reject it. Accept is the better way: I have suppressed too much, and I have the space not to, now. I have no need to “soldier on”, and nothing to soldier on at. Who am I, now?

I am bitter. Of course I am. I feel hurt and rejected. Bitterness is part of the burden which makes life soldiering on rather than joyful living.


I wrote that on Saturday, and then stopped. Later, I hand-wrote some notes of how to go on, and then I left it for three days, no further writing.

Resentment sees hope, and bitterness sees none.

I am bitter. If I can’t be bitter then I am not perfect. Denial seems worse than consciousness.

People feel better if we think each day of things to be grateful for. Is gratitude a palliative? I object to gratitude as a way of erasing bitterness: but one may have both, together.

Why rush to change bitterness? It is. Let it be. Find its use.

It is painful. I scream against it.

How does it move me?


On Saturday, Terry phoned to say he was not going to Meeting on Sunday. I could ask Peter. I woke at 5, and could not get back to sleep, and stayed tired but unable to sleep until 8.30. Oh, I will just not go. Then Terry phoned to offer a lift. Do I want to go? I did not know.

I was silent, then said I would call back before nine if I wanted a lift. He phoned later, to check I was alright. And, I had frightened myself with this. Follow my heart, my instincts, but not wanting to go seemed utterly negative, desolate

-the desolations are not the sorrows’ kin

and I like being with people, I will have three good hugs if I go, it is pleasant as well as good for me- these were what my head said ought to be heart-reasons.

So I did not go.

That really frightened me. Follow your heart- either, now, I am remaking myself, following my heart, doing what I want as a prelude to doing what I want in the World, or I am retreating in greater and greater fear, until I do not want to spend time with friends. If my heart really is just bitter and resentful and miserable so that I turn my face to the wall, What next?

Now it is Tuesday, and I have found the equanimity to return to this post. I will post on why, tomorrow.

And- that right hand panel of Bosch. Earthly delights, indeed: there is no good there. The left panel is Eden, the middle the daylight happy world with people going about their business, and in the right panel ignorant armies clash by night. Or, is it a destruction which can only seem unbearable, before-


the same as the “Wait without hope” verse? Something I will recognise as better when I can allow myself to do so?

Treacle mines

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/31/Gul%C3%A1csy_The_Spiritualist_1900s.jpgDarwent, south of Swanston, had a railway station, a mill and a treacle mine. There was a great deal of folklore around the treacle mine, as the histories of Darwent in the libraries show. With only mill and the railway station in Darwent, there wasn’t much other history.

The miners could not use pickaxes, because they stuck in the treacle. Instead they used pitchforks, which they twisted round and round to get a nice blob of treacle. Then they had to get the treacle off the pitchfork, by wiping it on their wives’ hair.

The mine shafts had to run horizontally into the hills. If they sloped downwards, the treacle would flow down the shaft and block it. The pit owners, an ungenerous, grasping lot, wanted to slope the shafts upwards so the treacle would flow out without the need for miners, but the miners managed to thwart this by-

All this is too much for Richard, who changes the subject.

We cannot start our business meeting yet, so I chat to the Christian Spiritualist who has rented the downstairs room. He is about sixty, with an old dark suit, a knitted pullover with a shallow v neck showing the knot of a tie. He is a little worried, perhaps, I will go all sceptical on him, but that is not interesting. What does it feel like, for him?

They are Christian spiritualists. They have been meeting here many years, with ordinary hymns. He is Anglican. They have a homily, then a message from Spirit- just like you. (I think it may be the same thing.) They have strange questions. One man wanted to speak to King Henry VIII- well, the spirits come if they wish, not at our choice, and an absolute King might not want to obey the summons of a commoner. Sometimes they get American Indians, who had a strong spiritual tradition. Delicately, I allude to pretence at mediumship. No, not with them, they are Christian Spiritualists- I infer that the National Spiritualists might be untrustworthy. They do healing by laying on of hands.

We don’t mind them, as long as they clean up the ectoplasm behind them, says Richard archly. Gosh, Richard, a joke?

If there is no perfection, it behoves me to seek good wherever I may find it. No, I do not believe they talk to the dead, but I do believe they might have insight or intuition, which manifests itself in this way. I might try their meeting.

Well. How do you think the miners might have foiled the ghastly plot to dig shafts upwards, and put them out of a job?

What I feel NOW

Knight and pennantThe task of the moment is to dry my hands. Water remains between the fingers: rub there, after rubbing the backs of the hands has dried them. The strong sensation is the warm air blown on my hands. Ignorant armies clash by nightI direct my attention to that sensation, and enjoy it for a moment after my hands feel actually dry- then it is too hot, and time to move on.

Mmm. In the moment for a moment. It is worthwhile, sensing where I am and what I am doing rather than the endless monologue about past and future. Having once done this with a blown air dryer, it is easier to do it with this one, now.

Coffee with Quakers. During our usual conversation of how to act well in the world, where to spend money and time, and what it is to be Quaker, I had two hot, sharp reminders of old hurts, and my feelings in those old hurts. I am writing in the evening, and this next bit is the realisation of the evening: the hurt was old, but the feeling wasn’t. I cannot recall what those memories were, now, which adds to the unreality, but I am certain enough: I could recall those incidents now with equanimity. The emotion of them would be in the past.

The past incident formed a symbol, for me to bring to consciousness my feeling at that moment. It comes with a sudden, hot sharp stink of fox, and overwhelms me for a moment. I am inside myself, rather than hearing what the others are saying. Such an intense feeling, and I cannot recall, either, what the feeling was. Then (it seems now) I went back to my ordinary being in the conversation: playing my accustomed part in it, being positive.

This level of sensitivity, my emotion suddenly grasping all of my attention, dragging me away from my companions, showing on my face and sharp intake of breath. It is What I Want, and at this point in my learning it seems too much, to distract me rather than informing me. Mmm. Breathe. Analyse, set the rational being onto the experience. This is my level of skill with such a thing, now. It is much better than being unaware of emotion. It might be good to sit with it if such a thing happens again, withdraw from the outside experience and commune with the inner one. Appreciate it. Say hello.

Kingsley tells of her holiday. She visited a loose-knit group of craftsmen, which had its origins in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement. They moved out of London together and set up shop, and the descendants of some are still there, making bespoke silverwork and beautiful things. There were difficulties: they had just got electricity in London, but not in the country, they had moved away from their market, and soon mass produced things which seemed like their hand-made items appeared, competing on price and quality. And people are still there. Mmm. A struggle, always needing to innovate, so I envy an illusion, but it is a tempting one. Given that I am so sensitive, it might be good to be able to work on a six inch square space, with tools and materials to create something beautiful. Past and future vanish and I devote myself to the immediate task.

Ah. That perfection I crave does not happen in real life.

Equal marriage

A threesomeDoPillar gay people want to marry merely because straights can, like a toddler wanting to play with the toy his wee sister has? Marriage is strengthened, not weakened, by equality for gay people.

Marriage differs from cohabitation because it is at the start a life-long commitment, a pledge excluding all others. There is a recognised failure if it splits, whereas in cohabitation a split is simply “moving on”. That commitment to work on the relationship, and cherish and grow it, benefits children of the marriage, but also the couple themselves. In establishing equal marriage, England and Wales, and soon Scotland, show a renewed belief in that life long commitment, though the divorce rate and cohabitation rate rises.

That is why equal marriage is a Conservative cause.

Roger Scruton states same-sex marriage is homophobic, because it forces gay people into a mould fitted to straight people. But that requires the idea that a life-long commitment is only of value to society and children, not to the couple themselves. So, marriage would only be a Conservative institution, only for those who place duty to society over self-actualisation.

It is not just the label I want, but the reality, and so inequalities in marriage law do not make marriage in practice unequal. A straight marriage is valid, but may be declared void by a court, on the ground of non-consummation. That is not defined by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, but by W (orse K) v W, to mean erection and penetration with emission of seed. The case is not in BAILII, so I take the Guardian’s word for it that there are no cases since.

To make adultery or non-consummation an issue in gay marriages there has to be a definition of what gay sex counts. “Yes dear, I know we agreed scissoring is a het myth, but we have to do it this one time”. Gay couples may divorce for “unreasonable behaviour”, which may include withholding sex, or sex with another. There is no difference in treatment in practice, just some difference in concepts to recognise physiological differences.

My question for opponents of equal marriage is, why do they value marriage? What good is it? If for procreation of children, then my father’s second marriage has no value, and no-one should marry without intending to have children. It has to have value for the couple themselves.

So my suspicion is that they oppose equal marriage because it is a symbol of equal value. They want gay people to be treated differently, because we are not quite as good as they are, and they want the law to enshrine that view.

Stephen Fry

A tower in Eden“It’s now very common to hear people saying ‘I’m rather offended by that’ as if that gives them certain rights – it’s simply a whine, it’s no more than a whine. ‘I find that offensive’. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that’ – well so fucking what?” – Stephen Fry at the Hay Festival 2005, sourced here.

Lots of things offend me: hate speech offends me. It is a fairly new concept for me, hate speech: speech about a person or group which humiliates or derides or vilifies that group, with the intent that the group be treated as disgusting or as an enemy. Certain Rwandans referring to Tutsis as “Cockroaches” is an extreme example.

The “cockroaches” example is vile. Clearly “free speech” should not protect it. It is an incitement to violence. More subtle hate speech may smell wrong, but I might not be able to put my finger on exactly why. I have an emotional response to it. I say it is offensive.

If this quote is representative of his current view, Fry rejects the emotional response. He privileges people who are able to articulate an argument on why something is wrong over others who can only make the emotional response. I think the emotional response has value, because we can read human relationships and situations and react to them without engaging our verbal centres.

When someone calls my words “offensive” I want to look for the value in the communication, rather than dismiss it or privilege it. “Offence” is not a trump card, but sometimes a whine is the best I can do.

Also, while reasoned refutation of religious belief is absolutely acceptable though some find it offensive, some extreme speech deliberately to offend, such as gross insults of Mohammed, is wrong.

Mmm. What of the term “sky-fairy”? It is ridicule, it calls a belief stupid without saying why. It also expresses an emotional response of the atheist, willing to explain up to a point, but eventually driven to shout STFU. By then, we are simply offending each other. There is a place for reasoned dialogue, a place for shouting at each other, and sometimes you just have to go for a lie down.

Seeing that this was extempore speech, I love his articulacy, including the jewel-like exactitude of his use of the word “fucking”. The perfect word for that place.

Below is a Wordle of my last six weeks or so. Thanks to DC.



At the shore of the lake

Some are clothed

Happy new year to all my Chinese readers. SSSSSSssssss!

What is going on at the tower by the lake? Action and stillness, armies marching forth and philosophers exploring, the hunting of two birds.

The sun shone through my window, and the rose pattern on the net curtain cast a shadow on my wall. The sun shone through a tree waving in the wind, so the shadow flickered and shimmered. It seemed worth a haiku:

Net curtain roses

light through trees makes their shadows

shimmer on the wall

It had been

Net curtain roses
their shadows on the wall
shimmer in light through trees

but that does not have the 5-7-5 syllable shape which some say English haiku should. Odd to be lying in bed in the afternoon. It is cheap to be warm here, but that is not the only reason.

I coddle and castigate myself. I must do something, and have no idea what. The parable of the talents runs in my mind: For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. The saying is in Matthew 13:12 and 25:29, and Mark 4:25.

Probably better not to be “playing” spider solitaire at 2am. It is boring yet compulsive.

On Saturday 2d. at karate, Chris referred to me as “he”, and Andy, responding, did too. It is difficult. Command. Hai! we shout, Yes. “Responses, guys!” Hai! we shout, louder. And we Kiai: like the grunt a tennis player makes, it focuses energy and intention on the strike. The other adults here are brown and black belts, and I worry that the class could be more focused on their needs if this orange belt was not here- and I love how it stretches me. With my heart pounding, having taken off my wig because I am hot and shouting below the break in my voice, I do not feel particularly feminine. That is Chris who leant me a coat and drove me to the Kancho Sullivan seminar.

“He”, he says, and I just feel-

It would be nice if someone else would correct him. I hope to have the courage to ask Andy to do so. Now- away from the class- it feels more appropriate to ask him in person, at the class, rather than by email or facebook.

It does not show me respect. I am entitled to respect. I did correct Andy, then.

I recorded the script to create a trance-appreciation of the World as perfect. I have not listened to it. I think I will. I read a bit.

I am not happy with this situation, and- I retain my belief in progress. Appreciate, I tell myself.

Saturday 9th: I agonised quite a lot about asking Andy to correct anyone who used the wrong pronouns: and of course he was fine, and apologetic about last week. All that worry.

The central pool


“You’re wanted as a terrorist!”
“Yes. But only today. Tomorrow I’ll be a hero, and I will have a list of people who didn’t help me today. You don’t want to be on that list.”

At another point his wife tells Graystone that he uses his fear to drive himself forward. “You use everything that’s not nailed down.” Given that fear paralyses me, I find that inspiring.

The Garden of Earthly Delights centre- er what We did not get Caprica on the telly over here, so now I watch it on the computer: nineteen 42 minute episodes in three days. It was cancelled for poor ratings, but has huge variety and is entertaining. There is the billionaire CEO and his office politics, and the gangsters, all shot in browns as a Godfather hommage. There is the mad religious cult, talking of a single loving God and killing non-believers- most people- randomly. There is a virtual reality which feels as real as life, spaceships, and cars from the 1930s. With twelve planets, only three of which have been used so far, the writers could have taken the show in any direction, had it not been cancelled.

Graystone chases his daughter through virtual reality, and she hides and resists him. Then his wife tells him to just wait, and as she predicts, the daughter comes to them. In this one matter, his strength, his resourcefulness and activity, has been his weakness.

It has a driving ostinato in its theme music: that cross-beat pattern of five sets of three semiquavers plus one in four/ four time. Such a simple rhythm, with such effect on me.

There was plenty thought up for the following season, with the humans looking down on the artificial intelligences, and the AIs resenting it. The programme was cancelled because of poor ratings. A pity. I wonder why? I rather like the flattering explanation that people who could appreciate its range and subtlety were put off by the genre-label “science fiction”. Mmm. In my world, seeing myself as more sophisticated than others has a decided appeal.

Bugger. Here am I, quoting my favourite bits and saying old stuff. I am not satisfied with this post. Have some more Bosch. WTF are Those?

The Garden of Earthly Delights centre- crumbs

The Garden of Earthly Delights

I posted the Garden of Earthly Delights, and thought you might want a closer look. This triptych is worth a million words.

This is the left panel:

The Garden of Earthly Delights left panel

This is the leftmost part of the central section:

The Garden of Earthly Delights central panel 1

This is the centre:

The Garden of Earthly Delights central panel 2

This is the part to the right of the central section:

The Garden of Earthly Delights central panel 3

This is the right panel:

The Garden of Earthly Delights right panel

And finally, in the spirit of Where’s Wally: a fish, with the head of a duck, reading a book.

A fish with the head of a duck reading a book