Community

Are you part of a community? If not, does it matter?

Planet- either Planet Group or Planet Housing Association- has a Community Investment Officer to design support projects for people in the Eagle’s Nest and Marsby, particularly those currently isolated, and sent round a woman to conduct a survey on community engagement; so I talked to her, and saw my life through others’ eyes- or through my own eyes but as if it were someone else’s.

What three words would you use to describe Eagle’s Nest? Quiet. Peaceful. Beautiful.

What word do you think an outsider might use? Mmm. I remember a council estate plonked down between Linlithgow and Falkirk, with nothing to do, a few buses, a wee shop/post office; and I thought it “Godforsaken”.

She asks how often I use the amenities of Marsby, and how important I think them. The hairdresser- I remove my wig. Not at all. The doctors’ surgery. It is very important. The church. I have been there a couple of times. Anything else? The Lakes- the park is very beautiful. I don’t eat out in Marsby, or use the take-aways. I don’t use the pubs, I go into Swanston or Kettledrum. I have used cafes occasionally.

Do I know anyone locally? Are there people I could ask if I had practical problems? No. I say hello at the bus stop, even have conversations on buses occasionally, but do not really know anyone.

-Do I use the community centre?
-It must be a community- it has a community centre. I was last in there to give blood.

-Do I use social media? Am I aware of social media pages for Marsby?
-No. I suppose I am what I used to refer to as “difficult to reach”.
-We say “Hard to reach,” she says. I don’t think this is a political correctness change of phrase.

Am I isolated? Well, today I shall go to Swanston for tea with a friend. Yesterday I went to Kettledrum for coffee with a friend. On Monday night an old friend visited from Nottingham. This is an unusually busy week for me, but I see people. On Sundays I go to the Quaker meeting.

-Anything else important to you?
I indicate the television.
-Yes, that’s important to a lot of people.

-On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with your life?
Mmm. One and ten- bored and frustrated, but- I say, “This is the life I have created for myself.” We agree on seven.

R thinks they might do something like the Swanston Housing Association: committees, residents’ associations, that sort of thing. Did he join in? God no, he says. I am more isolated because I do not have work or family, but I doubt many people have more community connections than I have, more friends or see them more often. I wonder about campaigning for the county council election in May. It would be good to get the Tory out.

How old am I? She is fifty as well, she says. Hers is a job I might have been doing in very slightly different circs.

What would I create here if I could have anything at all? An art gallery, I say. It would be good to walk to the Hockney exhibition. I wish them well with this, and it might even benefit my mental health if they got something going, but I don’t see what they can do.

Hugs

I found Margaret so charismatic that I was prepared to believe her claims of psychic powers. She told me that when she did not keep them under control, light bulbs would fuse in her presence. Just starting to explore new age wisdom, I found her particularly grounded, level-headed and wise, gentle, empathetic and generous hearted, and found it hard to believe she would lie or be mistaken about such a thing. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but she would know that.

I never found out one way or the other. After the week Community Building, where I presented male but wore women’s slippers and one day expressed myself female, we hugged goodbye, and then she asked for a hug “from Clare”. I softened and relaxed. It was a particularly memorable hug, perhaps my first which was properly woman to woman.

I do not like A-frame hugs. Chins touch shoulders, hands pat backs, and it is barely more intimate than a handshake. In a proper hug, thighs touch thighs. An A-frame is a routine gesture, a proper hug is heartfelt with time for appreciation. An A-frame is a greeting, a proper hug a blessing.

Worse is that embarrassing moment where in a group of people men greet women, and kiss their cheeks, but shake other men’s hands. I look at them nervously. They look at me nervously. Shall I insist on cheek-kissing? You will not physically misgender me. I have insisted, and made a man dreadfully embarrassed, and at other times I have held out my hand to shake and hated myself for it. And I have shaken hands with a man who kissed every other woman’s cheek, and been miserable, then wondered whether he created that situation, or I did.

I softened and relaxed, and now like soft hugs. It is slightly side on: chin over shoulder, so crotch to thigh- crotch to crotch is too close to a cuddle, too much for anyone who is not a partner. We hold each other. It is important to be in the moment, present and aware of the other, not just do a gesture for form’s sake, while thinking of something else. Eye contact- hello- moving together, clasp, breathe, appreciate, disengage, eye-contact again. It is a friendship hug, not sexual but intimate. We are animals together, enjoying each other.

A trans woman should hug like a woman, gently and openly.

Probably Margaret did not make light bulbs fuse through psychic energy. I am not sure whether she claimed that without believing it, or believed it, and have no idea why she would do either. Her claim is a fact I know about her which does not easily fit into my understanding of her. It is an outlier. I could say I know her, but there is this fact which does not fit. Everyone is essentially unknowable, but with Margaret I have a clear reminder of that.

Moving forward

I decided to transition in November 2000. I went to my GP and got a referral to the psychiatrist, and started arranging things like speech therapy and electrolysis. I decided to take nearly two years to sort out transition at work, but my plan was clear. I would dress female not only in accepting spaces like Manchester’s Gay Village, but in ordinary spaces, like the street or supermarket. I put the plan into practice. After a year full time, I started work on arranging the operation.

My friend is moving forward now. She has been working on her voice, and got it to a pleasant pitch above the break. A mixture of laser, electrolysis and epilation has greatly reduced facial and body hair. She goes out neatly tucked and does not particularly like the protruberance, but tolerates it. She is putting into place the career changes she feels she needs to transition. She brings aspects of her feminine presentation into her manly work environment- from baritone her normal speaking voice has moved up to tenor, her body language is different, and she notices that the way people respond to her changes. She likes those changes.

She feels that seeing the GP is the moment crossing the threshold, the moment of commitment. It was for me, but she is feminising before committing to transition, and I never did: almost to the end, I kept my male presentation in my manly pretence, out of fear. I have been wondering if hers was the way to find something better than transition, to ease into a more comfortable, feminine existence without all the faff of clothes, wigs, makeup. We arranged to meet, and I was going to tell her not to transition.

It seemed to me transition is a cul-de-sac. It is so tempting because you know what you have to do, and you feel you are moving forward until you hit the wall- for me an operation with results I did not like was the wall. Dressing works like addiction, I said. At first it is really nice, but eventually you have to do it to make life tolerable.

There is social pressure. I would say “Hello” to my neighbour, no long conversations, but after he noticed me going out for the evening dressed female he started blanking me. I asked his wife, pretending innocence, and she lowered her voice and said “I think it’s because of the way you dress“. But, when I transitioned, he would say hello, again, and he came round to say goodbye when they moved. Transition is grudgingly accepted in a way effeminacy is not.

What about relationship? Women “wearing the trousers”, virago + beta-male, can be made to work. It worked really well for my parents, though that screwed me. It is very tricky for the male, perhaps similarly tricky for the woman in a male-controlled relationship: great if the partner self-asserts to benefit the couple as a team, not so much if s/he simply gets her own way.

I realised that I could not tell her not to, that she was aware and still moving forward. Why would I want to, anyway, it is her life, warning her off might not be right for her and would not mitigate my own loss. Possibly, there would always be one brick wall or another to hit; possibly this is the best it can get. Possibly any path ahead, either it is signposted, and does not satisfy; or overgrown, and hard to find.

Fulfilment

I understand some people get pleasure from sex. Not everyone, and not all the time, but some people occasionally. It is not only a source of shame, self-loathing, misery and isolation.

My strongest term of condemnation has always been “self-indulgent”. It is the height of wickedness, the sin against the Holy Spirit from which all other sin proceeds. One could reframe self-indulgence as self-care, exploring or accepting.

“It is being creative,” says Tina.

Then again, some people find sex a burden, a compulsion they wish to escape. I escaped the compulsion with surgery. And then I found myself masturbating to climax. It took over an hour, and it did not happen often, but it happened. I used pictures of women in the trappings of Domination- leather, pvc, whips etc. I find my choice unobjectionable- everyone has quirks, “normal” is a moralistic not natural concept, ought not is. I like the DSM idea that a sexual predilection is only pathological if it disrupts the person’s life, or the lives of others.

Have you ever been to a kink session? she asked. She tells of an asexual colleague who went to a weekend gathering, with seminars on consent or techniques, and stalls. One had a “Wartenberg wheel”, used for stimulation. “Turn round,” he said, and ran it over the back of her neck- and “though I am asexual, I tingled all over,” she recounted.

The thought of being passive and vulnerable terrifies me. It makes me freeze.

I had nocturnal emissions as well, and then a couple of times, including a day or so ago, I have awoken after what I think is an erotic dream even though I have forgotten it, with no emission but a painful sense of pressure in the bottom. I understood the prostate gland drained into the urethra. I wondered if scar tissue from my slowly-healing neo-vagina was blocking its exit, and if that could cause a health problem. I should see a doctor, I hope to set my mind at rest.

Though “Will bad things happen?” is never a good question for expert or ignoramus. “Possibly, but not certainly” is usually the best answer. “Worry if they do.”

I think deferring gratification is a good thing, and can talk sensibly about it. One should just enjoy onesself sometimes. It is a balance, and which is right at any time depends on circumstances. One can be right enough- mistakes are often acceptable, as they do not have terrible consequences. I put a very high premium on talking sensibly.

I had deep pain and shame around sex, expected and experienced. There have been a few moments when I liked something, when I might have found a way into enjoyment- holding hands that time, that evening… To imagine that sex could be pleasurable, but that I could have no possible path to that pleasure, and that scar tissue might take even my faintest hope from me! It is alright to like what I like– only to realise that when it is too late! Finding a path could be impossibly complex and difficult! Only now do I see myself at all clearly, rather than repressing…

I value moderation. Moderation is not enough, she says, all parts of you need space and a voice and time. You cannot be moderately self-indulgent. It makes me think of the quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground (1864). The nameless narrator says,

I, for example, would not be the least bit surprised if suddenly, out of the blue, amid the universal future reasonableness, some gentleman of ignoble or, better, of retrograde and jeering physiognomy, should emerge, set his arms akimbo, and say to us all: ‘Well, gentlemen, why don’t we reduce all this reasonableness to dust with one good kick, for the sole purpose of sending all these logarithms to the devil and living once more according to our own stupid will!’ That would still be nothing, but what is offensive is that he’d be sure to find followers: that’s how man is arranged.

Moderation could be rational, and imposed from outside- a prison you would do anything to tear down- or organic, arising from within.

I value understanding, and being able to talk of these things intellectually.

I got that quote from the New York Times. I love the NYT, and read it a lot- fascinating topics and good writing style, with the occasional gorgeous sentence or trick of article construction.

not knowing

He recognised the anger and angst that Abigail suffered and fervently hoped that she would be able to love herself. Perhaps he will pray for me. I experienced him, despite his protestations, as hostile, but it is bracing to see oursels as ithers see us.

His career has been successful, and it seems to me our gifts are opposite: he is not terribly bright, though good-hearted, and has been enabled to prosper by self-belief arising from a privileged upbringing. Actually, I make progress on loving myself. I see, intellectually, that I am lovable, and though I more often am frustrated with myself I see the point of nurturing myself, and seek better ways of doing that. Sometimes I even accept emotionally that I am lovable.

Anger and Angst. I thought, Wangst– there I go, pointlessly harsh on myself- but yes, anger, anger is my ground bass. I am sitting in the Quaker meeting thinking of various instances when someone has said, wonderingly, “You’re so angry!” to me. Like that time with the council careers service, keeping me standing outside their door where colleagues passing on their way to work round the corner would see me, rather than letting me in for my appointment. Some irritation was appropriate, possibly not the anger she discerned. The anger I discerned is against myself, mostly, and out of proportion too.

I have been on the edge of deciding that transition is a complete con, that having tried to make a man of myself and failed that trying to make a woman of myself is just the pendulum swinging, as distant as ever from being my natural self, that no-one should transition. And it came to me in meeting that I could not possibly know, because I judge my own decisions so harshly. This was what I wanted more than anything else in the world, and possibly it was just me groping in the dark- from wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves- and possibly I could trust my own decision more. I don’t know if it was the best decision. I can’t. Either I am committed to it, as it has involved such an investment of effort and energy, so I can’t admit to myself it could be wrong, or I despise myself so completely that I cannot admit to myself it could be right. I want to know, I want to understand, I want a world map with which I can navigate my world and make decisions based on accurate prognostication, so it is tempting to plump for one of those opposite positions- worst ever decision or moving forward into fulfilment- to have a position on the question.

I can’t know. I am not equipped to judge, certainly not rationally, and as for how I feel about it, that changes under the influence of other things. Therefore I can’t know I was completely, self-destructively wrong.

I told the person sitting next to me I had had a blessing in meeting, and they said they knew. Not something to minister about, though, just for myself.

Living unapologetically

Karis Wilde will appear in a film called “Make Love not Walls”. The genderqueer dancer and model oscillates elegantly between conventional male and female gender distinctions, in one clean fuck you to so-called norms. She likes both male and female pronouns. He says,

It was very difficult being as queer as I was- there was no hiding it.

What would that mean? I hid it. I was not popular, but I was seen as nerdy rather than queer. So, I am less queer than Karis, or more suppressed? I think more willing to suppress, less able to tolerate my real self.

I think I just started living my life unapologetically. For a while I tried to be a little more masculine – that was a bit of train wreck – and then I tried being a little bit more feminine but nothing felt genuine. Nothing felt right, so I just ended up choosing to be myself.

I tried to fit in as a man, and transition was yet another attempt to fit in. If I can’t manage being a man, perhaps I will manage being a woman. But-

But it was very difficult – even a lot of gay people don’t think outside of the box, they just think in a different box.

Gender queer. Just be. It is far more difficult than those two words appear- we follow tracks, of normal, queer, exuberant, boisterous, how we are supposed to be, bothered when others look surprised.

Aged 21, he found very open, loving and accepting people. As I have said, I have some faint hope for my fifties.

I don’t think people respect anyone who is insecure about themselves. I think it’s just built into them to stomp on weaker people. So once you start being comfortable with yourself, you command respect, and it’s a different way that you carry yourself. That was definitely true in my instance. I felt a shift in not only how people viewed me but also in how I viewed myself. I think everything changes in that instance.

Why would you do anything? Is it because you like it, or to curry favour which will not be given anyway? Even if not “stomp”, we do not like weaker people, or want to be with them. There is the-

how could I start that?
Am I ever like that?
Is it just that I notice the lacking conviction, trying to fit in me, and not the-

It is as if I am shut down, and trying to reactivate myself. One learns these things. Being and seeing, trusting or knowing that I be and see…

I think everyone is so raw and hurt right now that when you actually speak about love it hits a different tone. People are starting to feel very alienated and very forgotten so I think that the word love has taken a deeper meaning.

He is a campaigner for social justice. I feel such envy.

Karis Wilde interview.

Karis Wilde is wonderful, and then I saw this other quote here: You may suddenly decide you’re part of all these groups, but the world has its own idea of who you are. They won’t let you just get on with that. Some manage, some do not.

Resisting V

Globalisation is inevitable. Politics in the west is the choice between liberal elites, which will preserve some regulation to protect workers, consumers and the environment, and the most rapacious of the moneyed elites, who will deregulate capital, but regulate the little people- unable to cross borders, our social media use monitored- in a survival of the richest world. I tried to imagine what goal they could seek beyond their own increasing wealth and power, what good they could imagine for humanity, and wondered if the moneyed elites’ more forward thinking members and hangers-on desired war and famine to cut back the human population to more sustainable long term levels.

When I was a small child, “Centrist” politics meant the mixed economy, with nationalised heavy industry and transport. Denationalisation was hard-Right. Considering nationalising other industry was Left wing, but centre-left rather than hard-left. Now, those who would privatise parts of the police call themselves “centre-right”, and though they are exaggerating, political discourse and what is possible has moved steadily rightwards, decisively last year. We hear of the incompetence, violence and horror of privately-run prisons, but do not bring prisons back into public service. Now, those who preach hatred of immigrants and foreigners call themselves centre-right. Hatred is mainstream. When Martin Mcguinness died, a fbfnd expressed disgust at an “IRA murderer”. I feel his contribution to the peace process deserves some credit, even if he was solid Republican until death. I want nuance, sympathy, recognition of all the good there is. That fbfnd wants black and white morality with hatred and fear expressed freely.

It is possible that the President of the United States is a traitor, conniving with a foreign power to subvert the US election. There, some people pay far more into health care, some receive far more than they pay, just as here, but there is a cruelty and capriciousness about the division of spoils there which is not here. Someone without insurance but with a hernia, with a fairly simple operation would become fit for work, but languishes because no-one will pay for it. That benefits no-one.

What can you do? My friend tweets, gives to charity, and signs petitions. You can join demonstrations and contact elected representatives, though the vile man who killed five people including himself on or around Westminster Bridge achieved far more publicity than any demonstration. Even though he has never been to the US, my friend is filled with paralysing, ineffectual rage thinking of the GOP-care bill, and gets depressed. I am not amused by it, but feel that if I distance myself from strong feelings, stay aware with satirical disdain for the vilenesses of the “centre-right” I might be more effective when there is something I can actually do. Others ignore it- people are happier if they listen to music rather than news while commuting- or indulge the fear and anger that empowers the British Prime Minister to betray the “just about managing” people whose votes she courts.

Freedom and control

Ours is a free society, and we are controlled. Trans folk are free to be ourselves, mostly, and some people get angry about that. Why are we free to be trans, and how are people free and not free?

Why would humans not be free? There is economic freedom- I am not free to go out this evening because there are no buses and I do not have a car, and find taxis too expensive. I can go out for the evening, but it needs planning. There is imaginative freedom- I cannot do what I do not imagine possible. And there is social control. I read that in Prague pedestrians expect to pass right shoulder to right shoulder on the pavement- it prevents pavement dancing- and will be irked with you if you do not know and do not follow the rule.

There is social control to avoid fear. Are those noisy young men over there “boisterous” or “threatening”? If we feel there is an unwritten rule that people should be quiet here, the breach of the rule is threatening. Music leaching from folks’ headphones on the bus may be most irritating because you feel it is discourteous, another breach of a rule, something you do not expect. There are many distracting or unpleasant sounds or sensations on the bus. Your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose, but it is rarely that simple- whose rights come first is a matter of status, boundaries are pushed and tested, and I feel I have personal space and do not want your fist within two feet of my face, at an absolute minimum.

Moral compliance can be a matter of status. “I don’t mind them being gay as long as they don’t rub our noses in it,” perhaps by holding hands. Sexual morality has moved from a set of rules to a matter of obligation- in some circumstances people have a duty of faithfulness- and possibly a matter of moral hygiene or exploitation or more subtle wrongs. In the Am Dram group, F who was in her forties- fabulously old- took M, in his teens, to her home, and I saw how he was looking at her after, and she did not seem to care. I did not go to her house. And now generally gay is OK, because it harms no-one and that is enough.

High status people can be more free than low status people, and low status people might resent that our former even lower status no longer applies. Higher status people have taken from them their right to look down on us, and on anyone “foreign”. Unprincipled politicians like Mr Trump or Mme LePen know that desperate people will give a lot to be allowed to look down on someone. If they are free to blame immigrants, LGBT will be next.

Arguments against trans acceptance are transphobic, where people have an unreasoning disgust or abhorrence for us, or perhaps symbolic. For a certain kind of feminist we are a symbol of their gendered oppression. They loathe our freedom as they claim it conflicts with theirs. Yet we are completely harmless, more a symbol of gender than a tool of oppression.

Do you like my new coat?

Stating the problem IV

Like many pop songs, it has just one good line, but it is a very good line:

We are, we are driving
we are driving too fast
we are, we are driving
we could crash

starting fire
fire when we crash
starting fire
fire when we crash

Skype counselling session. I have my love intimacy and sexuality weekend coming up, I am going to see someone I have not seen since about 2001, and tell her not to transition, and I have lunch with Quakers tomorrow.

I love the Human Awareness Institute. I will find their weekend distressing, useful, challenging, wonderful. My aim is to pass through distress to enlightenment, to bring my repressed unconscious to consciousness. I love their slogan, “Creating a world where everyone wins”.

I will tell Hannah not to transition. Long term, it is a mistake, though short term it is wonderfully liberating.

I will ask those Quakers what they expected- that I would just vanish? I cycled on Sunday for 55 minutes to Kettering, about 55 minutes back, because Quakers are my main social outlet. I am sociable, and today my longest conversation has been buying apples, lettuce, grapes and plums at the fruit and veg stall. I want those, he wants £4.09, no other chat took place.

Life now is as good as I can imagine it. This is the best I can do. I don’t want to work, even though not looking makes me more vulnerable to the biggest threat in my life, losing my benefits. My life is in Limbo, and a kick up the arse might do me good? No, this is the best I can do. Work would be some of the time horrible, most of the time just unpleasant and dull.

I am in the best situation I can imagine, though it is not sustainable. In the future, when my benefits stop, the best will be worse than this- some horrible job- but all I could do is embrace that worse now, and that makes no sense.

-How do you think people will react to you turning up as a man?
-Some will think I’m an arse, some will see how beautiful and fascinating I am and like it and express that.
-Will you hear them?
-Yes. I am beautiful and fascinating.
-Why so distressed and angry and frustrated?
-Because beautiful and fascinating is not good enough, and I can’t achieve better than this.

Now, I am distressed, frustrated (in Limbo) and frightened, and I think of Rebekah. She lives in Tel Aviv. I met her in London, for less than half an hour, and at her suggestion we facebook friended. Most of her shares are in Hebrew, and pre-AI translate is poor, but she posted some wonderful pictures of her in a wedding dress, feeling delighted, and looking wonderful. She is paralysed and needs a motorised wheelchair but she is blissful.

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

-I am beautiful, fascinating, highly intelligent, creative, loving
-Unloved. I wish we had another hour to go further into this, she says.

We make another appointment. Perhaps work so revolts me because the only authority figure I can conceive is my mother: unjust, unyielding, capricious and wrong.

An open mind

How could you know if you had an open mind? If something disproves what you believe you know, could you change your opinion, or would you just ignore it?

I still debate with young-earth Creationists, mainly on Violet’s blog. I listened to this fascinating programme on the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum. About 56m years ago, over a period of about 1,000 to 20,000 years, vast amounts of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere, by volcanoes and burning coal deposits, and the temperature of the planet increased. There were forests at the poles. Global temperatures increased by 5-8°C. Different assertions will have different levels of dispute or certainty, and for the educated layperson a scientist might elide certain details for ease of explication, but the broad outline is clear. I find it wonderful how the evidence is recovered and interpreted, the care and precision of the investigators, the wealth of evidence. So I recommended the programme to two YECs, hoping that they would be as inspired by it as I was.

Sadly, Tiribulus wasn’t. He did not intend “sneering derisive dismissal”, he said, but accused the scientists of “spectacular intellectual dishonesty”. He claimed to understand their “claims”, but also their “method bias and out of hand pre-conclusions”. All unbelievers have similar bias, he says.

His response makes me miserable. The language of “bias”, formulated to enable us to see how we misinterpret evidence and help us perceive more clearly, he uses to write off something which challenges his view. Unbelievers cannot think properly, he says, as Jesus quoting Isaiah predicted- He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.

He is defended against challenge to his falsehoods, because he has a great need to believe them- so that he can remain part of his community, so that he is not distressed by the falsehoods the community spouts, perhaps so that he can feel superior to outsiders, or ignore them, and possibly because he experienced his life before conversion as chaotic and “sinful”, and feels any backsliding from his current position means falling into similar sin.

He has threatened to recommend something to me, claiming “fairness” would oblige me to listen or read it. I might not spend fifty minutes on it.

How would I know if I were open minded? I am open minded on Creationism. I am aware of theories of the origin and development of the Bible, and how the story of the Flood was adapted from a Sumerian legend, part of the epic of Gilgamesh. As I pick up more about the detail and complexity of understanding of the geologic column, I am inspired by the beauty of it. But then my community does not require me to believe idiocies.

Why does he comment there? Because he sees unrepentant sinners, and wants God to “save us from our sin and give us a new heart”- Because you are fellow bearers of the image and likeness of our God and I care about you. 

Tiribulus believes he understands about the Bible and the errors of unbelievers, and that prevents him coming to the truth. I will not be open minded where I particularly need to believe something, or imagine I understand but do not. When I am not open minded I may imagine I am- for I could not know. I have sought out hints and subtle indications, and sometimes been rewarded.

Perhaps it is all a waste of energy. I grope for greater understanding, but perhaps those who are satisfied with their understanding are better off, devoting their attention to more important, worthwhile things. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. They might be more effectual.