Life questions

MaryMary has more questions: Do you think all negatives have a positive somewhere?

No. If your leg is crushed in an accident, you may discover great reserves of grit and determination in learning to walk again, but I would rather find those reserves some other way. “You have climbed a mountain,” said a woman, admiringly, three years after I started to live full time, and I thought but did not say, no, I have climbed out of a pit: it has taken a great deal of my energy, and the result is that I am mostly tolerated. Society should make it far easier for people to find ourselves and be ourselves: far better in play and exploration as a child than years of tortured psychotherapy as an adult.

And yet, in those blackest moments, it may be most important to find the positives, to find anything which will keep you keeping on. Where is your motivation?

Rather than “all negatives have a positive”, as a bromide to encourage myself I prefer “Life is change”- you may experience it as a series of losses, but there are new delights, always, and nothing lasts for ever.

What is your most valued keepsake?

I don’t particularly value things. There is a photo of my parents’ wedding. Mum told me Dad had just told a joke, but in the picture he looks as if he has won at life, and she looks at him- not transported, as he is, but pleased at his happiness. Or so it appears to me. It shows them at their best, so is a good way to remember them. The image could live on in my mind if I lost the photo, or even lost all copies including digital copies. It is a symbol of the relationship and the people, not the people themselves.

I have a chess-board in which pieces, slivers of ivory, are anchored into slits in a leather board, folded flat into a case so you can pause mid-game- ideal if orders come in to go over the top, for a relative took it to the Great War trenches- but I don’t know the name of the relative, so it was valued for a long time, but its personal nature is at one remove for me. Folded, it is slightly thinner than a phone.

What’s most important in life?

Surely that is different for everyone, and will change throughout life. Positively, a sense of purpose and being valued, and negatively a sense of freedom from threat. A sense of threat can invigorate, unless it gets too much and I am merely terrified. Not having much of a sense of purpose I am compensating by valuing myself, seeing my gifts and talents. Life is a process. I will find uses for those talents, I have found some use for them, and should value that. So, being able to see the positives is good.

What’s the best childhood memory you have?

Working very hard to learn the Pathetique sonata, then thundering up and down the keyboard with it. Or, possibly, this memory of danger and triumph.

A blogger’s questions

I don’t pass on “blogging awards”, but I do like the questions. MarymaryOhMy asked, “Is music universal?” and “What is Love?”

Well. I am flattered. I am a dilettante, interested in all sorts of things, and with opinions on most. Everyone sings, and stone age cave sites contain flutes made with stone tools. Music is ubiquitous, and important to almost everyone. The pentatonic scale is in Scottish folk music such as the Skye Boat Song and in the Raag Bhimpalsi of India as well as Chinese and Mongolian music (yeah, I thought I would just reply from my own knowledge but I looked that bit up). And, western music with its thirteenth chords in Mahler and in jazz follows specific rules. You don’t need to be able to describe the rules in words- you don’t need to know what a plagal cadence, a tierce de Picardie, or Sonata form is- but if you have heard a lot of such music, especially from childhood, it will move you as it pushes the boundaries of those rules, and if you are unfamiliar with the tradition some of it will bore you. I am unfamiliar with Indian and Chinese music, and do not get the subtleties, though much of it moves me on a visceral level. Music is universal on a basic level, but worth getting to know, even studying in depth.

What is Love, in your own words?

In the air. An open door. Patient. Blind. A battlefield. What will survive of us.

Love is a second-hand emotion
always moving and changing
not an hour-hand emotion
seeming still.

Oh, OK. My own words. Love is the leap of my heart when someone walks into a room- even the first time I saw her; a steady commitment between two people; an inescapable part of being human; a great blessing, even when most painful; something we need, just as we need food and oxygen. For further reading may I recommend Plato’s Symposium.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would make myself rich. Seriously. With one wish, I would rid myself of my most draining worries, and increase my influence. Stopping war or famine would be nice, but call me shallow and selfish. I would use my influence for Good once I had it.

Your biggest pet peeve?

Not being rich. The World should recognise my talents!

Is it Black and White or simply Gray?

Complexly grey, I would say. Just as there are 254 tones of grey between pure white and black on this blog with hex codes even if there is no admixture of colour, there is very little pure evil or good in the world, and many mixtures, from fatal flaws to mild imperfections. Every situation may be made darker or lighter. You may think it is unrelieved black, only to see how much worse it can get.

What makes a real man or woman?

Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus, mostly; a little potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Those account for 99.85%. A fictional person can be “real” in that they can live in others’ minds, and influence them: George Eliot has moved and changed me with Dorothea Brooke, who is now part of me; but any moral judgment of what makes a “real man”- never wears pink shirts, according to one woman- is ridiculous and damaging. Same with “real woman”.

Favourite comfort food?

Spaghetti Carbonara. I am just off to make one now.

Ah. That’s better. I love the ritual of preparation, as well. I quite enjoy frying up leftover haggis with mushroom and onion, and dousing it in cider which I boil off- it produces a greyish sludge which I have been spooning into me since I was a student, with great pleasure- but a carbonara is my favourite.

You can learn something about people with this game. Perhaps I will address her other questions later. If you have your own answers to these questions, please share them below.

Truth and narrative

“True story” is an oxymoron.

I phoned the Tax Credits helpline for advisers, and got nowhere. “You’re being very condensating,” said the man I was referred to, and after half an hour my brain was so cabbaged that I knew he meant something else, but did not know the word for it. Thank you, you don’t need to say it now, I worked it out for myself later.

In the nineties I knew a man, still the most boring man I have ever met. I can’t remember his name, but it ended in an í sound, a contemptuous diminutive, Nicky or Ricky or Donny or something- anyway, he got very drunk on whisky, and ever thereafter could not drink it. He found a sip nauseating. Dismissively contemptuous, Neil said he probably had had no head for it anyway, he got drunk on a couple of glasses.

I associated those stories. “Condensating” was the moment I got nowhere with the benefits authorities, that I could not take any more. I cannot bear it. I could not bear another such conversation, it nauseates me.

Another myth. Margaret saw me as Clare for the first time, and said, “It’s as if you are acting when you’re Stephen, just you when you’re Clare”. Aha, I am a woman really, I am right to transition. The story becomes my conclusive evidence that I am right, the judgment of another person which I cling to, and take out for reassurance from time to time. It is my self-image: I know who I am, and “you’re just you when you’re Clare” is part of it.

Then about a year ago, I took off my wig and put on my cycle helmet, appearing androgynous, but continued talking, and H said “You have this lovely male energy”. Her beliefs, her politics, or her individual judgment of me need have no bearing on me, but have had. I could if I wanted call that comment on Wednesday 2 March 2016 the decisive moment

where my lies came apart
where my truth was undermined

Several times I have picked on particular dates where all changed, changed utterly for me. H has changed my view of the world. I am not sure if I have ever been entirely sure that I am a woman- I joked “I don’t know, and neither does my psychiatrist”, and said “I’m both and neither and in between”. Her word “lovely” just makes the blade sharper.

Either it is liberating- yes, I am a man, I need no longer assert a falsehood that I am a woman- or terrifying and destructuring, and I try to piece together the shards of my framework, world map, understanding which lets me navigate the world. “I am a man, but transition was the best I could do,” I say. “Bad things happen to good people.”

Or I create a new narrative. “I am a trans woman”. I have the right to be this way.

Brexit and Trump, and possibly this year Fillon and AfD, change my comforting narrative, one which is probably yours too. It is a debased Whig version of history: just as the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 was a decisive moment of progress, which changed the way of doing politics in England from battles to individual murders, a clear improvement, so Obergefell v Hodges was a step into the light, which could not be reversed. A Tory version of history, that there are random events with no broader significance, is reasserted, so that Trump’s Muslim ban is not a pathetic attempt by the failing forces of reaction, but a random event of quite as much significance as Obergefell.

We need to change our stories. Since 2016, our stories have not been the Truth, but a comforting lie to help us get through the day without collapsing on the floor, screaming. The words “male energy” are a stake through their heart, as is the Muslim ban. “Do your duty, Republicans,” says the New York Times. “Prosecute him!” Trump meanwhile promises a new Muslim ban which will be less vulnerable to judicial scrutiny.

I have been reading of stories. Here’s Rachel Cusk in the NYT:

In psychoanalysis, events are reconstructed in the knowledge of their outcome: The therapeutic properties of narrative lie in its capacity to ascribe meaning to sufferings that at the time seemed to have no purpose. The liberal elite are in shock; they fall upon the notion of the victors’ regret as a palliative for their mental distress, but because the referendum result is irreversible, this narrative must adopt the form of tragedy.

And, writing of her mother

She didn’t care what she said, or rather, she exacted from words the licentious pleasures of misuse; in so doing, she took my weapon and broke it before my eyes. She made fun of me for the words I used, and I couldn’t respond by threatening her with death. I couldn’t say “I could kill you” because it wasn’t true, and in language I had staked everything on telling the truth. I have had that experience debating Creationists: I try to persuade, using truth, they simply assert their Beliefs. “It cannot be so, because of Genesis.” It was bad enough debating a blogger on the other side of the world- how much more terrifying, to face your own mother’s assertions?

Thus saith the LORD.

There is no answer to that. Tim built an impenetrable wall of language to shield him from- the truth? Or just, my understanding of the World? The defeated liberal is abashed, so less confidently assertive.

Anna Blundy, in a completely different essay- a short column not a hefty work like Rachel Cusk’s- also addressed making sense of truth with words. Language distances us from our real thoughts and feelings in an almost defensive way (the fact that it makes us feel better to have named something, perhaps is even indicative of that)… we’re trying to repackage something into a digestible form that will make the symptom of the sufferer more bearable.

Surely it is better to face the unvarnished truth? This essay says that news broadcasts and advertising alike end up telling stories… the mastery of danger, the satisfaction of desires and the ultimate restoration of morality. But here, an effort is made to lead people to believe that the story accurately depicts people and events. As a result, all end up profoundly falsifying what they portray, once again mixing faithful and manipulated images, and fact and fiction in seamless ways so that it can be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The attack is mitigated by the fact that the essay itself has a similarly comforting structure, where the restoration of morality is us all becoming more sceptical about the media.

It is not at all reassuring to say that I can’t bear another phone conversation with the benefits authorities. I could say, well I had hundreds before, many of them successful, or simply that I should eschew predictions of the future, which may just be paranoia, and concentrate on the actual task. I know what the task involves. Fear of what bad things will happen and how I will respond when I fail just get in the way.

This is my two thousandth post, on a blog about me, truth, trans, the world, and everything that interests me. I do it to be read, and achieve less of that than I would like. Joanna wrote a short post recommending one of mine, and I am grateful for the recommendation, because my post got more than three times the views from it, than 75% of my posts get from all sources. This is my least worthwhile goal, to see that I have had more views. Writing of Donald Trump stretches my writing, but gets fewer views, as most of my readers come from a Trans site, so I restrict my choice of subjects to get more views. Posting daily gets more views. I get a tiny dopamine hit when I see my page-view numbers have increased- nearly 198,000 views in five and a half years.

I might be better to write longer essays. I could develop an ability to analyse an idea in greater depth. This is not that: I have quoted undigested screeds from three essays and some of my own thoughts on truth, rather than explained the essays, created a satisfying narrative argument in my own words, and polished it. Writing around 500 words a day is good practice, but I want to edit and structure something more satisfying than these short pieces. I have published just one 2000 word article. I love Rachel Cusk’s essay- how I would love to write something like that!

I blog to tease out my understanding, as well. It is psychoanalysis for me, repackaging reality into that digestible form. So I have written how transition or surgery was the best thing I could have done, and the worst, in separate pieces, and wonder how to unite them.

St Clare

Tom MacMaster

Five years after the biggest thing to happen in her life, she still can’t get over it. A lot of trans women could relate to that. She knows exactly how to get under the skin of a trans woman- it takes one to know one. And if you touch a nerve she reacts in rage and misery. She creeps about, hiding away, trying to achieve her goals by stealth and stratagem. And- she repeatedly expresses herself as a woman. There is no doubt: Tom MacMaster is trans.

Tom MacMaster is the hoaxer behind A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog which achieved notoriety five years ago when he pretended to be a Syrian lesbian in Damascus, arrested by the Assad regime. Because he claimed “Amina” was an American citizen, the State Department was briefly involved. It soon emerged she was a hoax.

The blog is dreadfully written, but if you believe in the character it is very moving. MacMaster took it down, but it has been cached here (a zip file). On 12 April 2011, he posted about a demonstration at the University: I started getting nervous; I could see that the pro-government demonstration was almost all male and had a lot of ‘tough’ looking guys whom I’d guess had military training in it… I watched a young man, a good-looking guy who, one could imagine, had a promising future ahead of him as a doctor or an engineer and who, when he won a place at the university, had been the pride of his family. He fell to the ground. He twitched slightly and I knew he was dead, shot as a martyr to freedom. This reads as an account of real bravery and a description of seeing a man murdered. Who could not be moved? Yet, as it was written in safety in Edinburgh, it is very poor. MacMaster attempts to imagine a real life for the victim, perhaps because he is incapable of describing the scene, but can only produce tediously obvious details.

On 19 April, he posted his dreadful poetry.

Battles lost and battles won
yet nothing changes but the names
of martyred sons and widows newly made.

But what is this? A dream? Try to ignore the Mcgonagall scansion and excess of commas-

I learn her name, her age, her place
And, so knowing, become ever more bewitched
And, now, cannot let go of any chance
That dreams and life might yet be switched

He wants to be her!!

He has hung round here before, googling his own name. Why is he so fascinated by a trans woman’s blog? It can’t just be that I commented on him:  he kept coming back.

Professor MacMaster, now 45, has a moderate list of publications, and some good anonymous feedback from students- Great professor. Great lectures. TAKE HIM– though that could be him, playing his internet games again; but he behaves like a spoiled child. He tried to delete passages from the Wikipedia article he did not like, using the handle LothianLiz (another lesbian) in 2011, and again in 2016 he is at the same game. I reverted his edits both times. He damaged the cause of LGBT folk and Syrian rebels by his narcissistic, controlling actions.

So he misgendered me, using the pronoun “his” and projecting onto me his “vindictive tantrum”. When I objected, he set up another wikipedia account and wrote, Fuck Macmaster and his transphobic bullshit. Wikipedia is NOT a safe space for cishet whiteboys and their hatespeech. Fuck these nasty boys and stop the hate! Let’s show him for the transphobe he is! He also edited the article to accuse himself of transphobia. That edit was quickly reverted too, as Wikipedians watch out for that sort of vandalism. He knows exactly how to hurt most trans women- it would have hurt me very badly, two years ago- and immediately reacted, without thinking, to do that. He is so emotionally involved.

Posing as a lesbian, he flirted with a woman, a cruel, manipulative game now the subject of a documentary, and also with another man posing as a lesbian.

He is obsessed! He can’t let this go! He spends hours on line in his feminine persona, flirting, writing love poetry, talking about clothes-

He’s a trans woman! Hey Tom, when will you have the courage to transition? When will you have the balls to have an orchiectomy?

On 15 December, he posted to the Wikipedia Help desk, This is a plea for assistance made by a newly created anonymous account. My real identity appears in a wikipedia article that contains numerous factual errors and semi-slanderous things. A few years ago, I complained to the wiki foundation abt this and was told to create an account and correct it. Done. Anyway, one of the wikipedia editors has some sort of vendetta against me and is, I believe, mentally unstable. Having forced me to connect my wiki account to my real world identity, they have continued to attack me. Within the past 48 hours, that editor (who has been cyberstalking me) has posted on their non-wiki blog attacks on my person along with graphic Notsafeonwikipedia (talk) 15:16, 15 December 2016 (UTC)and explicit calls for violence against my person. I would like to know how to go about having this person banned from wikipedia but I would also like to learn that without revealing myself as I am concerned for my safety. Oh gosh! I think he means me, who else would bother blogging about him? Calls for violence? Er, where? Someone answered that he could go to the Arbitration committee, but I don’t think he has yet.

Fun with pedantry

“It was their/there/they’re yesterday”. I found this facebook grammar test so insultingly simple that I decided to subvert it: “I phoned my friends in Australia this morning- it was their yesterday”. R pointed to the feedback form for the tea-shop, which had a greengrocers apostrophe, and expressed-

Disgust? Derision? Anger?

What of this one? “A room of one’s/ones own”. He picked “one’s”, and most people would, but the reason the possessive has the apostrophe is that in origin it was like this: “John Smith his book” becomes “John Smith’s book”. The apostrophe indicates a contraction, as in “it’s”. “One his book” makes no sense. I will carry on using ones.

Reading someone’s writing, their they’re or there for “their” is evidence, but not proof, of poor education and even less conclusive about poor intelligence. It may just be a hurried mistype. Also we should “bear one another up with a tender hand”- it is rarely relevant to point it out.

That anger- the world is not as it ought to be, and not safe, so the anger may indicate fear. I am in control of so little that clear grammatical rules give me a precious sense of safety in a small part of my life. It is as consoling as rocking or cutting might be. Or, objection can be a way of excluding those who are not “people like us”, a fragile way of finding someone to look down upon. (Great writers have been using prepositions to end a sentence with since Chaucer.) Or a safe channel for anger against other things. All these are unhealthy.

We disagree on TTIP, as well. How could it work without ISDS? Well, Mr Corbyn as Prime Minister might relax the Working Time Regulations because he had no other option. R finds the thought appalling, and so do I; but I see no point in anger against it. I would do what I can against TTIP, but must accept the things I cannot change.

I was unreasonably delighted to have page views last week from Iran and Uzbekistan. This means the largest territories uncoloured on my map outside Africa are Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

geoviews Iran

I would like the DRC, Chad, Niger and Somalia too, but the dopamine surge I got from Iran was huge.

I object more to the “nākd. strawberry crunch” bar. “Raw fruit crunchies and nut bar simply yummy” it insists. “Join the wholefoods revolution! Replace over-processed foods with nourishing wholefoods and get ready to be happy. This satisfying slice of simple goodness is a great place to start. Hope you love it as much as we do! Nature is nice.” It has a picture of some strawberries and another of a cuddly-looking bee.

Bah! Humbug!

Blogging questions

Amruta has questions:

Why did you think of starting a blog?

I felt I had made a great advance in my spiritual life. I thought I had pupated. I said so in my first post, and revisited this here. I continue, because I explore my spiritual life and growth, making the unconscious conscious, seeing behind the blind spots; or I treat it as therapy, sending messages to the ether rather than in a counselling room or in prayer. It is useful to me to try to make sense of things by explaining them to another. Blogging delights me: I could not have anticipated all the delight I get from it.

What is the one most boring thing about blogging according to you?

I do this entirely for fun. I write notes on long articles I read, like an undergraduate seeking understanding. My blog is my diary, recording and considering my experiences.

Do you think you can ever criticize or disagree with somebody’s blog or post? Of course respectfully.

Why respectfully? I use disgust contumely and derision when I seek out blogs saying LGBT is wrong and unChristian. I tell these people to turn to Christ. Why should I treat them with respect? I want their lies to be challenged, so it does not matter if my comment is moderated: they will see it. And the thing I enjoy most in blogging is establishing a relationship, reading and commenting over years. There I feel free to disagree, and explain my disagreement.

How did you choose the name of your blog?

My middle name is Claire, meaning Light, which I love. I felt I was flourishing. This blog is me: if you read the whole thing, 1683 posts now, 10,667 comments, you would know me well.

What will be your tips to new bloggers?

Have fun. Explore, and try new things. If you want to be a major power in the blogosphere, you will have to delete your first blog and start again; so you don’t even need to know, now, what you want from a blog: find what you like! If you write about a particular experience in a moving, touching and amusing way, you may build up a huge following and get a book deal: but I have no idea how to make that happen, or it would be me.

Describe yourself as a person.

This is me.

What is your biggest addiction in life?

Blogging, actually. Checking the dashboard gives me that addictive stimulus. My biggest delight is warm, passionate, funny conversation.

What is your philosophy/ideology of blogging? for e.g – I follow ‘Write what you Feel’

I write what I want to write. I post almost every day: my last break was in August last year. I share my experience here, and might feel I do not want to write when there is something I do not want to face. It is worth facing it.

And, Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.  Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. I feel I am living on the edge, with nothing to lose from complete openness: for what I hide from others, I hide from myself. I need to know myself.

There is a huge amount of hatred and fear of trans people. I want cis people to read and see my humanity, my pain, my gifts and value; to be cuddly, not the Terrifying Unknown.

How much of your time is spent on writing new posts versus promoting on social media?

I do almost no promoting. I find new blogs I like, and comment, and there is always a tincture of “Come see my blog!” in that, but more it is showing appreciation and making a brief connection. I hate it when I comment on a blog new to me, and the response is just a “like” for my comment without a reply: I feel spurned.

What do you think of my blog and any suggestions for improvement?

Excellent question. Your pictures are lovely. That was the first post I saw. I scrolled down a bit through older posts, and thought, this is sweet but not really my thing. I had not been back since. Now I see your disagreement post, and find it different from my expectations.

You can’t please everyone. I had not followed, because when I follow I read a lot and comment. You might consider splitting your blog, one for whimsy- “Doggie bloggie” made me expect whimsy, which can be really sweet- and one for longer, reasoned argument, debate and serious questions. But these things can go together.

Arcimboldo, library

More lovely blogs

The joy of blogs is meeting people. Some, I just say “Hi”, a few I read and comment on for years, and think of them as friends. Here are some blogs new to me, which I really like: I have been meeting people through the “Commenting Bootcamp”. It is striking how many talented women have self-confidence far less than they deserve. Let us encourage one another!

Sussurus came and commented, so I popped over, and found this brave, challenging post: Street Art: Don’t Hate!

Prejudice exists.

This is my problem: it’s about my attitudes, instincts and actions. It’s about the attitudes, instincts and actions of those who seek my permission to represent me.

Yes. How often has someone told you how much they value diversity, and you see the shutters down behind their eyes?

Let us understand what our own [genes, or instincts] are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.

The flower pictures are beautiful too.

Kiri blogs on grief, loss and healing, with the title Retro Girl and the Chemo Kid. The loss of a child to cancer is a terrible thing, and a rare experience, and she brings her experience to life, giving the reader an inkling of it; and she addresses universal themes. As she says,

What I didn’t imagine when I started was that the lessons I learned from Zoe and from loss would resonate so much with others. It’s one more unexpected gift from Zoe to the world.

In My one and only, she starts from the question “Do you have any other children?” to address her own changing feelings about having another child. The courage is beautiful, the insight powerful.

As you know, I show courage blogging too…

“Let’s encourage each other,” says your friend Megha Agrawal. Oh! Yes! She blogs on various cuisine- pizza, and palak-paneer- and crafting: “Art, food, and celebrating womanhood”. I had not seen a blog with a privacy policy before, and am interested to read of the Children Online Privacy Protection Act.

Here is Olive Ole, Norwegian living in Denmark, currently sharing her New York photos.

When venturing on to New York City with Sir Nerdalot, whose Indian name would be «NerdWhoLikesWeirdSports«, one cannot quietly let Yankee Stadium pass by. Old Mamasan did try to persuade him to let it go – as it was not even baseball season, but failed miserably. So what to do when the argument is lost? You charge up the batteries for the camera, put on good shoes, and tag along while quietly planning revenge.

Yogi’isms are definitely my thing- Oh! the Spirituality!- and I had not heard the koan, It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

If there are any men still here, you might like Luke, recently returned to blogging. Here he is on Viral Jesus marketing. Such a wise head, on one so young!

Giorgione, Young man with arrow

Commenting policy

WordPress is like a huge park, full of people holding conversations, or talking to themselves. There are 54m blog posts a month, 21.2bn page views, and only 52.3m comments. Given that some posts have over a hundred comments, most posts have none at all.

I want to be read. I am posting more on trans issues because my largest referrer is T-Central, which links to trans blogs. We have an extreme experience yet address universal themes- the tension between being your authentic self and fitting in. But people from there rarely comment, and commenting builds relationships. I would like to be The Blogger, with hundreds of comments, but it does not fit what I do here: I write of who I am, and what I love.

I used to comment a lot on homophobic blogs. Some idiot interprets the Bible to say God hates gay people, I would tell him/her to repent.

Ask you what provocation I have had?
The strong antipathy of Good to Bad.

I wanted them to hear the truth, though they would deny it. I wanted to expunge the last vestiges of homophobia in myself: at one point I thought they were right. I used them to inoculate myself: I would never take such silliness seriously again. And I got clear in my own mind how to express what I felt. It was like wandering through the park and finding a lonely fool on a soap-box, shouting at nobody: I would heckle them. It felt good. But been there, done that.

My comment policy is, “Don’t bore me”. I edit some comments to deride the commenter, but only if I loathe or despise them. I thought of having a Comments Bin page, keeping comments I do not want on a post, but have not had any so bad since. Generally I leave comments, however I find them- readers may judge for themselves; rarely do they insult my other commenters, and never so that I feel the need to intervene. I would, if I felt they could not look after themselves.

Now, commenting, I wander through the park, seeing what people are talking about. If I listen in on a conversation, it seems courteous to say so, perhaps add something. Then I wander off to hear something else. But I really like blogging buddies, a small group of bloggers seeing each other on several blogs.

It perplexes me when people follow. I have 1200 followers, who can see only the first few words of a post unless they visit, yet a post might have only thirty views. I am doing the Commenting Bootcamp in hope of making blogging buddies.

Why do you follow other blogs?

Giorgione, The Three Philosophers

Respect

Commenting on blogs can be a delight and a pain.

Feminists have all sorts of ways of shutting down conversation they choose not to engage in. There is “Mansplaining”- a man explaining condescendingly what a woman already knows, or considers silly. I have seen reference to Whitesplaining, so why not Cisplaining? You saw it here first! (Though it has been found elsewhere.) Central to this idea is that men do not treat women with respect, but expect to be treated with respect themselves; because that is the patriarchal way. Feminism seeks to level out that hierarchy of respect, though black women observe a similar inability to listen to black women in whites, even those of us who think of ourselves as allies: Read this for the anger.

Then there is “derailing”. We are talking about a particular thing, and not anything else. Do not derail.

Or “What about teh Menz”. This is a particular kind of derailing, alluding to the problems men face.

That choice not to engage is valid. My time is my own. If I want to firm up my ideas I do not necessarily want to defend them, especially not to a person appointing themself judge over me. How to deal with splaining? The splainer will rarely admit that is what they do. So it is valid to block, delete or ignore splaining, as explaining to the splainer will not achieve anything. If the splainer really wants to learn, Google is their friend. I have not set myself up as a freely available educator on trans issues.

Yet some commenters are friends. Here’s Barry’s recent comment. On this matter, we have a large area of agreement. Our slightly different perspectives may help both of us to gain understanding. The agreement pleases me, any differing perspective challenges, I enjoy the encounter. My account of Aspergers was not intended as splaining: I think I just escape that, as I was giving my own subjective responses, not claiming any objective knowledge.

Some are not. ColorStorm takes the position that the Bible is literally true and internally consistent. He mocks contrary views as ridiculous, and asserts his view, using the Bible text itself as evidence. Anyone not sharing his view will not be persuaded, yet he has a constant air of triumph: I imagine he enjoys commenting, and never sees his ridiculousness: only the emperor does not see he has no clothes. A flyting between him and some atheist describing the archaeological evidence may produce amusing insults but no other useful result.

I am unsure what Higharka attempts here. It is a long, laboured pastiche of a comment about abortion but substituting smothering a baby for aborting a foetus. I get that he finds aborting a foetus the moral equivalent of murder. I do not. If he has any idea about how to reduce the number of terminations, or even an inkling that there might be better ways of preventing terminations than making them unlawful, it might be worth listening to him. As it is, he has shown no evidence that it is worth engaging with him. He can sing his song as long as he likes.

I write about being trans, here. This is my life. I write about my feelings and experiences. I have a right not to debate trans as a concept. Sometimes I do; but writing of feelings is of itself. It might be a useful comment to share yours, but not to criticise mine. Trudy, linked above, writes far more eloquently about that than I do.

Degas, The Tub