Installation

There is so much to choose from, for the installation. I take white gloves, almost to my elbows, and a black tail-coat which fits beautifully across the shoulders. A thick, pink bob wig. Bizarre shiny bunting, with fluffy balls at the tips, like a string of the tackiest thongs. A sheet of blue plastic, and nylon pink net. Playing cards, doctored for prestidigitation. An incontinence pad. Cheap, shiny jewellery. Fake, plastic, gaudy, frippery.

I am pleased with my work. The scissors leave nothing to the imagination.

question

I have thought, recently, of playing the hand one is dealt.

cards

The Harrods magazine was a wonderful gift. Look at this man, how girlish his poses and features!

shot_006_147_1162 Harrods magazine alpha male

I am filled with envy. This is not the whole:

installation

I was at the centre of it, in wig, coat and gloves, unable to touch, unable to feel, explaining my anger and the empty egg box. This is where I am.

Why we should fire nuclear weapons

In the film War Book, a character makes a case for firing nuclear weapons on the basis of honour. Yes, British bombs will kill 200m people, and make retaliation likely, even the obliteration of Britain; but firing them is the right thing to do.

His comparison is a day when he and a friend skived school, and went for a walk on Hampstead Heath. They were late starting puberty, and desperate to avoid the school swimming gala. Their fathers found out, and offered a choice: they would, if he chose, write a note excusing him from attending school that day. But that would not be true. He would be failing to take the consequences of his actions. He was suspended for a week, and nearly lost his place at Cambridge.

Of course we should fire the weapons! We should stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies. A piece of doggerel from my childhood comes to mind:

I don’t want to look at myself and know
that I’m bluster, bluff and empty show

And if we do not, our word would mean nothing, and would have meant nothing since our deployment of Yellow Sun in 1959.

It is a difficult moral case to make, made chiefly by appeals to emotion: mainly, disgust for the alternative. We would have been lying, pretentious hypocrites. We would have been making empty blustering threats to bluff others into doing what we say. We would have been dishonourable, and would always be dishonourable. The rational case is possible that from the categorical imperative lying is wrong, but then threats are wrong too, whether they are backed up by intention, or empty.

Unless you are prepared to kill those 200m people, you should not have the weapons. Unless you are prepared for the obliteration of Britain and perhaps the whole world as a direct consequence of use, when others retaliate, you should not have the weapons.

Not having the weapons might mean that others make the threat, and there are honourable responses to that, too, which we regularly prate: we “do not negotiate with terrorists” when a hostage is taken, even though the hostage will die. We could “never surrender to nuclear blackmail”. That is the pacifist response, to do what I consider right, or what I want to do, despite the threats of others.

Honour matters. Loss of honour is indeed disgusting- you know what I say is true, or do not, and cannot be persuaded, for all I can do is multiply the feeling words. But even attempting to persuade others to desist from wrongful action, by threats, is not honourable.

Also in War Book a man, who will get what he wants by any effective means, persuades a secretary to lift her skirt and show him her knickers. He lies, cajoles, flatters, makes fake promises, and she does it, then at his request turns to show her bottom. In doing this she has lost honour. She has gone along with it. He wronged her, but she wronged herself.

Nuclear bomb

Slippery slope II

File:McCall Homemaking Cover, Jinx Falkenberg in Calif..jpg“Legalising gay marriage will start us down a slippery slope to legalised paedophilia and bestiality.”

Oh! The poverty of the mind that could argue that! He imagines his disgust for lovemaking is a moral good, and a justification for legal penalties for those who do it. He imagines that once that disgust is no longer a basis for law, everything which disgusts him will be legalised. He sees other people as lacking the proper disgust which he feels and therefore broken in some way, and needing moral guidance and social control to come round to his way of thinking, or at least conform outwardly to it, from fear. Comparison to bestiality shows quite how much I disgust him.

There will be no slippery slope to paedophilia, which has a victim. But here I found myself debating bestiality– as you do on blogs, well, I could not sleep because of the heat. I started from the position, no, of course there will be no slippery slope to bestiality.

But- how do I argue against it? It disgusts me, I cannot comprehend the desire, but my disgust should no more be a rule for the world than the homophobe’s.

Animal cruelty is a possibility. Animals cannot properly consent to bestiality. But, while I deprecate battery farming and experimentation on animals, I tolerate these things, and profit from them; and all farming ends in slaughter. We File:Female Skier.jpguse animals for our benefit. Can bestiality morally be distinguished from other uses of animals, apart from via the disgust perhaps a majority feels?

Natural law is another possibility. Sex has the purpose of uniting two human beings as one, and in gay LTRs it does so, just as in straight relationships. Bestiality is so much less. But, such an argument equally opposes masturbation, and I would not ban that, even if anyone could.

So. Legalising gay marriage will put us on the slippery slope to bestiality.

Well, not exactly. Even if they cannot create an internally consistent moral argument for current law, legislators may want to ban bestiality. We improve, steadily: the UK parliament banned hunting of foxes with hounds, as a measure against animal cruelty. Just because we cannot abolish animal cruelty with the stroke of a legislator’s pen does not mean we should not take action to reduce it.

And bestiality will remain a minority taste. It disgusts most people.

But at the end, I am confronted with the bestialist. He does not find it disgusting, but sufficiently attractive to make the effort to do it. I imagine, there are better ways of pursuing human flourishing, even sexual release, and he does not. I do not set myself up as a judge over him, and reach out with tendrils of empathy and love- what is it like to be this man?

I cannot say, there are better ways of being, because that is the position of the homophobe judging the gay couple. If I believe that the route to progress is to enable people to seek their own flourishing in their own way, as long as it harms no other person, then I cannot forbid bestiality.

Here is a man who bases the slippery slope on the US concept of civil rights: and also includes an extract from an “animal sex advocate”. Here is a gay person who finds bestiality “creepy as hell”. I should say that I seek empathy with the person, and not with the act, which I find incomprehensible. Here is a person who finds sex funny. Well, duh.

Added: I am delighted that C. Scott Fowler has reblogged this. If you come from his site, please do comment here. I am interested in other perspectives, and you may even persuade me to modify my view.

Slippery slope

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Calla_Lilies_by_Boston_Public_Library.jpgLegislating gay marriage will set us on a slippery slope to legalised bestiality, necrophilia, polygamy and the end of civilisation. It is a sign of Satan’s enslavement of the World. Equal marriage will “Destroy our morals, our values, and yes our world”.

Slippery slope? WHEEEEE!!!!!!

That sort of argument, visible in many places on WordPress, shows quite how much I disgust these Christians. I get the idea of a slippery slope towards polygamy- I welcome it: if people can manage a mature poly relationship, good on them, and such relationships should be celebrated- but not to incest or paedophilia. Incest has a bad consequence, genetic disorders from inbreeding, and paedophilia has a victim who is harmed by the experience. That is why it is a crime.

They use the Natural Law argument: the natural purpose of sex is conception, and to create a bond between a couple. Arguably, the latter purpose is more important, judging from the proportion of sex acts which result in conception. Bestiality and necrophilia do not create such a bond. I can hardly imagine someone wishing necrophiliac sex with a relative, and the cadaver belongs to the relatives. A corpse with no friends or relatives has been human, and is therefore entitled to respect. There are moral arguments against these things.

That disgust bothers me. Disgust alone is not a valid ground for a moral argument: there are arguments against necrophilia, and none against gay lovemaking. It is part of the taboo around sex, which is necessary: caressing and being caressed messes with my head.

These “pastors” and others arguing against marriage look at another human being and feel disgust, so seek to control that other. Rather than seeing the problem in their own disgust, they say the problem is with the other. There is no threat to them, other than to their misconceptions, but that feels the most terrible threat: see the violence of the language they use about it.

O God, save me from my beloved falsehoods. Save me from my blind spots.

Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains. No, not BDSM, but the Right of the Strongest. Rousseau’s answer is the Social Contract, a dialectic of opposites: nature and society, freedom and contract. All should seek the interest of all. The problem is seeing what that interest is.

Bisexuals? Ew!

Bisexual Pride FlagLet’s face it, bisexuality or bisexualism or whatever they call it, is disgusting. So Dan Savage is biphobic? I sympathise absolutely. Bisexuals? Ew!

I am generally more Ew’d against than Ew’ing. Weird and disgusting in my appearance and mannerisms (whether cliché male or female) and above all for mutilating myself, I have fellow-feeling for those who inspire disgust. There is my opening. My own disgust here is not a reliable guide to me. I would be better to reduce it. It would be better if my acts were not controlled by it.

The aversion is real. There is a greater sense of betrayal when the beloved goes with a man- how could she? If I studied and thought of Privilege, I could come up with some Privilege I have over bisexuals, but my immediate response without that effort is the other way. They can drift into the queer community, and at any time leave it, and among the straights their cheap notoriety is cachet not curse. Drafting problem- should I say “My aversion is real”? No, I generalise. Other people must feel that way too.

Dan Savage disbelieves in the phenomenon based on his own initial self-identification as Bi in order to appear, well, not quite as bad as being gay when he was a teenager. Well. There are people who during their lives have stable relationships with partners of both sexes. The phenomenon exists, even if some people who say they are bi really are gay. There is a similar disbelief for- are they “my lot”? Androphile trans women? I choose to say they are my lot. Hominem scias, and all that. The argument is that they fancy men, and think- “but homosexuality is vile and immoral! I can’t be attracted to men, unless I am a woman.” I know gender identity is more complex than that.

My disgust, which I choose not to act upon- is it a “heart-impulse”? It is a movement from deep inside me. Such movement is not always simply to be acted on.

“Ew” is a bit American, but it has the advantage of being utterly girlipink. Other possibilities I considered were “Yuck”, “Ugh” and “Eughh”.

Hat tip to The Quiet Voice, whom I found through Violetwisp, who displays posts she likes. If I did, I would have to be less promiscuous with the Like button.

Gaiety

“Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union” said Stalin in a speech in 1936. He had started his show trials, working up to the Great Purge in which the archives admit that the NKVD shot 681,692 people; Solzhenitsyn gives a death toll of sixty million ascribable to Joe. What was he thinking when he said that?

The first thing you hear is the title of the exhibition, which is that quote. I wanted to see new Russian art, though I learned quickly it is a Stalin quote, and so had that dislocate in me: the quote is related to reality in a twisted, evil way which makes a straight lie seem pure and good by comparison. I had not been before to the Saatchi Gallery, the former Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, south of Sloane Square: a Georgian building with huge, thick columns in front of open grassed space in a still mainly Georgian square. I am uncomfortable with such an assertion of personal wealth, even one so clearly philanthropic.

The first gallery is monochrome photos of “criminal” tattoos. What makes a Russian have “Gott mit uns” on his chest? Another has St Basil’s Cathedral there, one has tattooed eyelids. Men have their arms around each other: given the Russian official antipathy to “promoting homosexuality” I thoroughly approve of that, and I can imagine some interest and sympathy of the photographer for his subjects: that sympathy, that hominem scias, is necessary for the art to be Moral.

Now, an installation: booths or cells, with faceless manniquins in suits. One has his forearm removed, and nailed to the wall. https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Kuznetsov_004.jpgOn the website, the photo shows the overall shape, but not that detail. The next photos are playful in comparison: people sitting on window ledges. Will they jump? Where is the camera? There are concrete cityscapes, and one with trees, people looking desperate, thoughtful or playful. I liked them, until I saw the pool of black plastic on the floor vaguely in the shape of a broken human being, arms and legs strangely thin.

And then more photographs, in colour, with a notice saying parents may want to shield children from some of these images. A penis with a strange lump at the base of the glans. A fully dressed man, in a coat, in a room, with a woman half-stripped, breasts and labia exposed. Here the most playful image is a boy pissing upwards, the arc of piss lit against the dark. All human beings are Beautiful, and these photographs obfuscate that fact. As one of the Rich, I want to blind myself to the sufferings of the poor, in civil wars or famines- here I wonder if these creatures are Poor I could identify with, in art for the Richest, made to humiliate and dehumanise me.

I do not want to hurry H on, or look at this Vileness. I stare at a white wall, and- cross myself. If my practice of acclimatising to disgust has meaning I must use it now. What I seek to achieve is perfect consciousness of emotion, so that I may have my experience, accept it, and function in the world. This “art” seems designed instead to cause overload and suppression of feeling.

In the basement, there is a pool of black, black oil covering the floor of one room. Its perfectly smooth surface reflects the room, as if it were twice its height with ceiling lights on the floor. It is perfectly beautiful, though I do not like the smell.

Initially I illustrated with this photo of a penis, which seems entirely appropriate to the exhibition, but disgusted me so much. So I have replaced it. Art changes the way one sees things. I presume Kuznetsov had some love in his heart when he painted Ms Kuznetsova, but now I see her as a Specimen.

News Corp

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Thraex_01.jpg

What? No blood?

There was The Sun, lying in the train, so I had a look. I turned two pages, and avoided the page three girl.

Two articles caught my attention. One was two pages, with large photos, of a woman who eats 5000 calories a day, much of it fast food, but remains a size 8- she wants to develop “womanly curves” but cannot put on weight. She wakes in the night with cravings and will eat burgers and chips. The other was a woman who had been burgled, and met her burglar as part of a Restorative Justice programme. She felt she had managed to communicate her distress, and been heard by him, and gained some understanding of his. Now she wants to be a mentor for such criminals, bringing them round to something better. What would you know? It was in The Sun, not quite as disgusting as you might have thought.

-“Do you mind if I have a look?”
-Not at all, I found it there. He leafs through the sports pages: lots and lots on the football, and then more quickly through the front half.
-Ha! Look at that! What kind of story is that?
He passes it to his companion, who also expresses derision. What? Four lines at the bottom of a column say that a “poll” has found a certain percentage of children under 3 have tried curry. Well, interesting enough, worth four lines and a tiny headline, though I could not remember the percentage an hour later.

H was disgusted that I would even read the thing. Well, I would not buy it, but am interested to read it as a cultural artefact. She would not even do that, though the positive piece on restorative justice gained grudging respect: https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Northern_Line_Explosions_and_Shooting.pngshe has enough in her life, and tries to avoid negative things. So I came up with an answer, which felt right at the time:

I also watch “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” on Pick, the Murdoch channel. I spend most of my time in my living room, and seek to come to accept my own feelings. So having something which disgusts me is useful, as practice feeling the disgust without fear of the feeling. I want to be able to be in touch with feelings, not shut them down. So, say, reading the Sun or watching a sword go through a neck and gouts of red stuff splash about (such detailed special effects it has!) helps me do that.

H herself is irritated by the advert on the Tube which talks of “internetting”. That’s not a word! Well, no, but you understand what it means. And while the old word “web-surfing” means more or less the same thing, originally “surfing” meant moving between websites, perhaps by links, whereas now we spend most of our time on particular social or shopping sites. I myself am irritated by the use of a £ sign to replace an E in a word. It is an L, standing for Liber, as in liber, sestercius, denarius; and by the reversed N in the advertising for UиcLe Vaиya which we went to see. That и is put in to make it look Russian, but is an “I” sound rather than an N. Ignorant, illiterate, wrong. Yes, I too have other things to get angry with.

Vicarious disgust to get used to the feeling, so I may feel it and not shut down; and disgust at something not particularly disgusting, I suppose, and something I certainly may not influence. I try to laugh where before I would get angry with such solecisms, but being an emotional being is difficult, and if I were paid to work I might need to rely on coffee, alcohol and suppression just like everyone else. Suppression is the problem, though: I will do a lot to avoid that. It kills me.

Speaking in a vacuum

Adriaen_Brouwer_004.jpgJolyn said she believed gay sex is sinful. I responded:

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

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

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

We do not speak or write in a vacuum. What we say has an effect on others. The thing is, I have some sympathy with people who wish to show respect to the Bible, and not just ignore what it says, and people who take their religion seriously. I can understand Jolyn being upset to be called a “hater” for her honestly held religious views. I have no respect for people who deny reality and claim that homosexuality is a choice, but a commonly heldhttps://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Expression_of_the_Emotions_Plate_V.jpg reading of the Bible is that it condemns gay sex, and people have lots of reasons for adhering to Christianity.

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

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

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

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

Certainty

MechanicallyseparatedchickenMindy, whose moral speculations help me to understand, says “I honor and sometimes envy your certainty”. It comes from where I am in my life. It is an intellectual rather than an emotional certainty, and I want to encourage my own emotional being to make it an emotional certainty. I want to turn it into the courage to act.

I met a man who had drunk so much alcohol that periodically he could not keep any food down. So he did not eat for three or four days, and sipped water. When he could keep water down, he resumed drinking. Withdrawal symptoms on stopping drinking after that long are unpleasant, and he was nervous on his own, but became confident on drinking. There are advantages in drinking, and still that is seriously self-destructive behaviour. He was burning muscle to survive after not eating for four days. He knew he was killing himself, and is probably dead by now.

File:El Greco 006.jpgHow am I with my own self-destructive behaviour? I do not want to look for work. I cannot go on like that. I think it comes from a deep sense of my own worthlessness and wrongness.

I read, As it relates to society in general, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about. Then I read of two mayors saying they would like to ban Dan Cathy’s company from their cities, which they do not have the power to do, and of Mick Huckabee’s response.

The “Chick fil a appreciation day” has nothing to do with free speech. I support Dan Cathy’s right to express his odious and disgusting opinions. But there is no possible sanction against his free speech except disgust and derision. Those stuffing themselves for hate at his caffs are supporting the words he said, not his right to say them. Thank God, in Britain the similar cranks are not both so powerful and so vocal: the protests here would be far stronger than the support, and so for a man in a comparable position it is a business decision not to express himself in that way.

These people hate who I am. I disgust them. I have taken that into myself. The disgust for my own responses which matters most is my own: it affects my every interaction, every response, every moment. It is a disgust I need to liberate myself from. This is a survival issue.

So consciously I express my own value, and when I come across a case like Dan Cathy’s I express my loathing and derision, my certainty that he is wrong. I associate with people who share my opinion, and when I come across dissenting groups I contradict them. Along with my meditation, my self-reiki, and other self-nurturing behaviour, this is my attempt to gain the self-respect I need to survive.

Ridiculous. And Disgusting.

Barry Humphries, on a plane, once surreptitiously poured a jar of Russian cole slaw into a sick bag, did a loud pantomimic barf over that sick bag, then produced a spoon and ate the contents. No, I don’t know why the fact that it was Russian is relevant, but that is the story as I heard it. Onywye, disgust is a natural reaction to certain things- putrefaction, fæces, vomit- and one theory of the origin of morality is that it started with ideas of disgust.

That fits, actually. Lies and deceptions disgust me, it is a gut feeling, not a ratiocination. The reasoned argument comes afterwards, I am willing to accept that a lie may be the least bad option or even the right option in some circumstances and if Kant says otherwise, screw Kant. Wilhelm II declared in 1891 that “The will of the King is the supreme law” and that soldiers should obey “without a murmur” if ordered to shoot their family. This goes against the natural, emotional moral response, and Kaiser Bill was the last Kaiser.

Having thought my own self ridiculous and disgusting from my teens to age about thirty- I dressed female, and hated myself for it- and even this year had the dislocating feeling that whether any particular response could be called “masculine” or “feminine” it was just wrong, I want to set limits on reasonable morality and disgust.

Often, I think disgust only is a basis for morality for the person himself. For example if you are disgusted at the thought of removing gonads, don’t do it to yourself. You would not make that decision, but I have my own reasons for making it, arising from what I am innately. Or if you find gay sex disgusting, don’t do it yourself, and if suddenly you are attracted to a person of the same sex, re-evaluate your morality.

Morality generally is best applied only to onesself. First take the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the mote from your friend’s eye. Judge not that ye be not judged. You need a positive reason to go beyond that, perhaps defending another person.

If I am right that homosexuality and transsexuality are innate, then condemnation of the act becomes condemnation of the person themself.

File:Rose bud.jpg

  Condemnation here is immoral: the condemnation creates barriers between people. My first moral axiom is:

What brings us together is good. What divides us is bad.

And, because this is about power, What liberates people is good. What oppresses people is bad. And the oppressed person gets to decide what is oppression. What promotes our flourishing is good, what restricts us is bad.

Simple enough. But what if homosexuality is a choice, and one could simply choose to be straight? If so, it is a choice which unites two people in love, and harms no-one else. Therefore, it should be the person’s own decision.

What harms no-one else should not be condemned by anyone else.

In Jurisprudence classes I read that the only moral axiom is Universalisability: if it is right in some circumstances for one person to do an act to another, when the circumstances are reversed it must be right for the latter to do the act to the former; and Wikipedia tells me it was formulated by Kant. Maybe I should read Kant sometime, or even an introduction to him longer than a magazine article. And I like the Golden Rule, Do as you would be done by.

And- my morality is my own. My choice, my responsibility.