What is Truth?

William_Turner,_Light_and_Colour_(Goethe's_Theory)

Stormy Sea with Dolphins circa 1835-40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851If you drop a stone, it falls.
-It is true that if you drop a stone it falls.
The words “It is true that” add nothing to the first statement.
Therefore “Truth” is a redundant concept.

This is the Deflationary theory of truth, as I understand it. Thanks to Luke. “Truth” becomes valueless, and that is a shock to me who had found it of inestimable value. I think of concepts of the Gnostic God as The One or Being or The All, beyond all conception; moral truth and factual truth are properties of God.

I am wrestling with atheism at the moment. Christians absorb this, make it OK and our own by calling it Doubt. Quakers are my main source of social life, and I remain Quaker because I have given up on something hard to put into words-
-knowing that there is A God
-perhaps, believing for what I could get out of it, such as Everlasting life
-understanding what “God” means, so that I might disbelieve in it

Stormy Sea with Dolphins circa 1835-40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851There is still something 

more than myself.

There is stuff I don’t know, and stuff I misunderstand. This includes the nature of dark matter, and the motivation of someone who does something I don’t like. It seems to me to be valuable to have a concept of Truth, even to worship it, as a corrective for my misunderstandings.

Unless you are born again, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and I have had moments where the falsehood I cling to because my life seems to depend on it falls away, and it feels so painful and so transformative that rebirth seems a good metaphor for it. Once I felt as if I had been banging my head on a wall with the intent of breaking through that wall, and was now staggering about blinded by concussion and blood and sweat running into my eyes, which was an improvement as I might just randomly stagger through the door.

Deflationary theory. Oh, OK, then. All it means is that I can’t name God, “Truth”. I practise conscious incompetence: I am conscious of the possibility that what I perceive is different from Reality, and attempt to improve my perceptions and understandings. Often, words help, but not always.

By the way, Jonathan Hockey, if you want a “good debate” don’t close off comments so soon. What you see as “showing how out of touch Christianity is” is in fact our adjustment to acceptance of homosexuality in the West. We would not think it so important if we all agreed. And transsexuality is as much a social construct as homosexuality. What we do with our arousal and desires is a social construct, yet there are people exclusively aroused by their own sex, from nature and nurture, and people who try desperately to be aroused by the opposite sex and fail (all those ex-ex-gays).

Control

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Kneeling in the ritual space, in the dark. I am not entirely sure the timer is working. I could just kneel here, or get up and put the light on- I stayed, and the timer did actually bleep. I could take control, or let it happen.

Morning kata. My mind is wandering: I think of something which made me angry. Merely a distraction, something to be held down in order to concentrate on the kata, or- something to energise it, and give it focus. Anger channelled into intention. Something to add to the mix.

Try it. Yes, it adds. Two ways, which could be so close or so far apart- it seems as if-

either I intend the strike, with anger in my intent, which lessens it

or I let the strike happen, and my anger sharpens it.

Though, of course, it is I who perceives, my perception, not necessarily the best way of judging. Again I notice that the feeling announces itself by calling to consciousness a past situation which has made me angry.

Kneeling in the ritual space, and I have the sense of being and loving and perceiving all of me. Not just the acceptable bits and not just abandoned baby Clare in pain.

Another way of looking at it. I am an idiot, grasping the wrong end of the stick, understanding too late if ever at all, endlessly just not getting it. For a social animal I am peculiarly unsociable, finding fitting in, sticking out or attempting to hide in the background equally impossible. I am a weird, pervert deviant: wanting ones gonads removed is clearly disordered, the product of replacing reality with a sick fantasy. I am all that which I ought not to be, and not what I ought. And yet- I survive. I am still here.

Dive in. It is Shadow because I cannot accept it. And yet it is Me, and it is Human, and therefore it is Not Wrong.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bc/Bell_Rock_Lighthouse_during_a_storm_cph.3b18344.jpg/1024px-Bell_Rock_Lighthouse_during_a_storm_cph.3b18344.jpg

Suzanne Moore

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/BigReichenbach.JPGAnother storm in a thimble, miles away, which need not affect me at all, and I am in tears of rage with it.

I feel like a child talking to a teacher. She started it! My long explanation of precisely how bores her and breaks down, so before I am finished I am the one getting the strap, and it is not fair. The teacher is The Guardian itself. It is supposed to be progressive, and should not insult trans people.

Onywye. Suzanne Moore wrote in the Guardian with the throwaway line We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape ‚Äď that of a Brazilian transsexual.¬†Irritating but not lifethreatening. Some trans folk objected, and there was a twitterspat.

Julie Burchill then wrote in the Observer a deeply insulting article- calling us “bed-wetters in bad wigs” was not the half of it. Well, I wear a wig, and with such a short urethra, post-operatively, I had some problems before I got my pelvic floor so strong. Lots of women have. The Observer has apologised and withdrawn the article from its website.

Then Suzanne Moore wrote a follow-up. To that teacher, who does not care about the subtleties, it might seem an apology. Suzanne has had friends who were transsexual, apparently.

But to me (subtly and out of the teacher’s attention) it pushes my buttons. It starts with the title. I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one. When does she think I became a woman? At my sex-change operation, perhaps? I have always been a woman. I have always been me. I have had one gender. Pre-transition self-identified trans women are women.

Then she says Some trans people appeared to reinforce http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/AeschinesDemosthenes.jpgevery gender stereotype going. People comment that I seem more feminine than most women- I am exquisitely attuned to surprise or disapproval in that. It is an old feminist trope for hatred of trans women, though Moore extends it to men as well. I do not wear lace-trimmed skirts to oppress women, but because I like them. If you don’t like being criticised for your clothes or appearance- I assume Moore doesn’t- then don’t criticise mine. Simple, basic empathy.

No-one can speak for anyone else, she says. Moore does speak for me when she attacks the Government. She thinks I should focus on that, and get behind her, so she may insult me with impunity. No. I happen to find the insults the most important thing in the article. Her telling me what I should think makes it worse. She could always attack the Government without attacking trans people.

I am just angry. It brings up my stuff. Someone links it on facebook, I read it (yes I know I should ignore it, but well, I read it) and I get wound up.

Oh and- Julie Burchill objected to being called a “cis woman” to distinguish her from a “trans woman”. It is an ancient Latin prefix, commonly used, and it is the only way to refer to a non-trans woman which does not insult me. “Real woman” “Born woman” “Natural woman” and the rest all include me.

Thanks to these bloggers for support and information.

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18 January: I am coming round to defending Suzanne Moore.

She does not think we trans women are really women, that is the thing. She thinks we are castrated men. She thinks if we call ourselves feminist we are faking; she may dislike our “femininity”; she is not going to come round. Even in her latest piece she says something about not liking the word “cis”.

I like what she writes about the Government. She said initially that we should get behind her attacking the Tories, and actually, she is so good at that that I am willing to overlook the odd throwaway line about Brazilian transsexuals.

Yes. It is “trans women/ trans men/ trans folk” rather than “transsexuals”. Yes, omit the “trans” unless it is relevant and necessary, and yes “cis” is the only way of describing non-trans women that does not insult us- for yes, I am born female too. And I know how much people get hurt by these remarks. And, still, hooray for Suzanne Moore, giving Cameron another kicking.

Press Complaints Commission ruling exonerating the Burchill article.

November 2020: Moore “left” the Guardian.

Sanity

I was getting angry in the office, bursting into tears in my car, not just as a one-off but regularly. I thought it was sick, and I went to see my GP about it. I thought it was caused by an unaccustomed hormonal state.

Weeping while driving is not ideal, nor is screaming- it made my throat sore.  I was probably not giving as much attention to the task as I ought, and while driving I have a responsibility to those I might hurt by my inadvertence. While the office might be fucked up, other people have their own difficulties, and my shouting does not help. Eventually I thumped my car into a crash barrier, damaging it irreparably, and I am relieved I hurt no-one else beyond causing a traffic jam for a bit.

So I have some sympathy with that part of me which says, that is insane. It is sick. Stop it, control yourself, or find some chemical way of doing it if you don’t have the self-control. It is not advancing your interests. But it is entirely wrong. I was- am- expressing what I feel, being conscious of it. It would be better, certainly, to feel my feelings and permit them, be conscious of them, and integrate them- not necessarily show them, but use them constructively rather than suppressing, denying and diverting them destructively. A house with a roof on is better than one without, but the one without is better than a site without the foundations dug.

I felt on Friday at Tim’s 5Rhythms that my war was in balance, that the two parts of me which each consider the other insane were at stalemate, and I feel now, Monday 26th, that I should go with the emotional rather than the conventional bit. The conventional bit has worked out the rules, more or less- don’t burst into tears while driving, for example, a good rule and worthy of all acceptation- and wants to keep them and survive, and sees the emotional bit as just trouble. On Friday, I felt that each part knew the other to be insane, and I could not choose between them, and now-

 I want to get the roof on.

I want to go with the emotional bit, wherever it leads. To extend the metaphor, it may not be a house I can afford, and I have no idea what living in it would be like, but putting the roof on- plastering the walls, getting some furniture, perhaps some nice art work for the walls to make it really comfortable- is what I Choose to devote myself to, now.

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Agree to disagree?

File:William Turner, Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory).JPG

Here is a blog which “deals with same-sex attractions (SSA) from a Christian [ie, hate-filled oppressor]¬†perspective”. He writes,

To my readers who are happy, satisfied and fulfilled in their self-identity and sexual identity: Please respect the rights, needs and viewpoints of my other guests. Let us agree to disagree.

No.

Why not? I could complain about the phrase “Same-sex attraction (SSA)”¬†which makes it sound like a disease, but we do need a noun for homosexuality, simply to refer to it. Gay is a word I can take pleasure in, it is Our word, but it is an adjective. So- Gayness? Queerness? Being gay? Any suggestions? SSA is the term coined by the ex-gay movement, can we do better?

Then I could object from a Christian perspective- here is this man telling untruths about God, humanity and the Bible- but then, he could say the same about me, and so his “Agree to disagree” becomes the best way to coexist.

My objection is that his position is used by the oppressors. Perhaps he has lived in a completely tolerant environment all his life, and converted to Christianity as an adult, and made a completely free choice of a hating church rather than an accepting church, and is gay himself, and so has some right to his opinion. However other gay people do not have such a free choice. They are forced, wrongfully, into self-abnegation. What he says gives aid and comfort to the Oppressors, and hurts and confuses their victims. So. Agree to disagree? Hell, no.

Let my people Go! File:Moses & Bush Icon Sinai c12th century.jpg

I would have left it at that, but then I had a look at the rest of his site.

Embracing a homosexual identity (or the gay culture) can be extremely dangerous and damaging to your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and development.

What?¬†Here, he¬†is deliberately increasing self-hatred and doubt. This sort of lie has the potential to destroy a person’s confidence. It is evil. He goes on to say that it may be an illusion, and the person will realise in his twenties that he is not really gay. Well, no. He could be bi, and labels are reductive and inaccurate; dividing everyone into Gay/ Not gay is impossible and untruthful; but that does not mean that a gay attraction is worth any less than a heterosexual attraction. Worth spelling out: if in this moment I am attracted to a person, that has equal value whatever the gender of the person, and may be noticed and accepted. Though saying I am lesbian is a useful generalisation.

What are the risks? Suicide, depression, drug abuse- he blames gayness for the problems he himself causes. Then he goes on to say how angry he is with “gay-affirmative education” because it isolates those children who are defined as gay but do not want to affirm that. Total mindfuck.

Look at the site, to see how he steals the language of concern and freedom, and with half-truths and outright lies makes it Oppressive.

A significant percentage of people with SSA as adults had symptoms of Gender Identity Disorder in childhood that was not properly addressed.

How does he think gender dysphoria should be addressed? I am not Disordered or Deviant, I am Different and Diverse. But I have spent too long on this evil rubbish. I need a shower.

A tranny paradox

“I had my balls cut off, so I could be attractive to women.”

I wanted to chat to S, the naval officer, simply because he was one of the few there I had not met before. He asked some probing questions about my trans status, and I told him first that I am attracted to women, and then that. As we were saying goodbye he came over and said how difficult he found that, so I looked him in the eye and repeated it.

“Does not compute,” he said. No, it does not make sense, I agreed. But if you still have Stuff or Baggage to deal with, that will not make sense to you either. If it did, you would have dealt with it by now.

Everyone has difficulties with self-acceptance. One of the blessings of transsexuality is that our inculcated self-concept is so different from our organismic self that we simply have to do the work of self-acceptance and self-discovery. I cannot have a partner unless I am true to myself, because I could not have let her know me.

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I have just been to the HAI community weekend, and it was lovely. I got there at six, more and more people arrived, we cooked over the barbecue and I was in cocktail-party mode: you know, chatting away socially, making connection at a fairly shallow level but pleasantly.

And then we started the evening exercise, and suddenly I was Present. In that state, all my defences are down. I trust that in the moment I can deal with any attack: and my defensiveness is not useful at defending, and does a lot of damage. In that state I can make a true heart-connection.

That evening, two people referred to me with male pronouns, and that created a distance from them in me. I hate it. In quest of authenticity, I take my wig off, and I sing baritone because that voice is richer and holds the note better than my counter-tenor; and I still want to be seen as female. After all, I am female.

HAI has the concept of a Withhold. We say it in this way.

A: I have a withhold with you. Are you ready to hear it?
B accepts or declines
A: I perceived you as [being or doing] and that created a distance from you in me.
B: Thank you.

The idea of this is to surmount barriers to authentic connection. My withhold is that barrier which I feel. B can respond to it immediately, though it may be better to let it settle within before responding.

My general withhold is that if I hear you referring to me as male, I am hurt, and I withdraw. And I want to hear the withhold from others: if you cannot accept me as female, I do not want that to be an insurmountable barrier between us.

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“Either Jesus rose from the dead, or he didn’t”- heard in the night on a programme on the Catholic Church. So the whole Catholic Church has to believe that he did, physically. But why not both? Hold both possibilities in the mind. How could each view enrich your understanding of God?

Order and chaos

let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace

There are two creation myths in the Bible. In Genesis 1, God created the Heavens and the formless, dark Earth, and then made it as we see it, and human beings on the sixth day. In Genesis 2, God made Adam in a land without rain, but with rivers watering it, and without animals or plants. In both, God is in command entirely.

Other myths tell of creation from chaos in struggle. The Mesopotamian God Marduk killed the mother goddess Tiamat, and used her body to create the Heavens and the Earth. For the Egyptians, the Earth emerged from an infinite, lifeless sea, and then the first God, the Sun, emerged from the Earth; but there are many creation myths in Egypt, and in one, four male and four female gods in the primeval waters of chaos come together in a great upheaval, bringing forth the Earth. Or Ptah formed the world as an idea in his heart, which came into existence as he named it.

My source for the Greeks is Robert Graves, who recounts differing myths. Eurynome, the Goddess of all things, rose from the Chaos of the sea. Her dancing created the North Wind, which coupled with her. She laid the egg from which hatched all things: the Earth, the sun and stars, and all living creatures. Or the Wind courted the Night, who laid a silver egg from which hatched Eros, who created Earth, Sky, Sun and Moon. Or Gaia emerged from Chaos, and bore her son Uranus, who fathered giants and Cyclopes on her, and Chronos the father of the Gods.

The poet Ovid, born just before the end of the Republic, said Nature, or the God of All Things, appeared suddenly in Chaos, and created and ordered the Earth and the Heavens.

In the sagas, in the beginning was the Ice of the North and the Fire of the South, and in the middle a great Gap. A glacier from the north melted in the heat of the south, and the drips formed a Giant and a cow. The father of the Gods was freed from the ice, licked by the cow. The Gods defeated the Giants, and built the Earth. But Yggdrasil, the World Tree, covers and surrounds everything. It always was, and always will be.

For the People of the Book, Jews, Christians and Moslems, God is Eternal and beyond the Universe, and creates Order. We reach ordered lives obeying God. For these other myths, the Gods emerge within the Universe, and at Ragnarok the Gods will die in the destruction of all things.

In Plato’s symposium, Aristophanes tells how human beings originally had four arms and four legs, and two faces. We did not walk, we cartwheeled. There were three types: the Children of the Sun, who were male; the¬†Children of the Earth, who were female; and the Children of the Moon who were half male, half female.¬†But humans were uppity, and the Gods were afraid, so split each person in two. And ever since, the half-humans have sought their other half, and when they find each other they cling together and will not let go. Have a look at the song in the comments: Thank you, Guy.

More from that hymn:

 Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

.

Turner, Picasso

File:Turner Self Portrait.jpg

What a fine looking man Turner was at 24. The self-portrait is either in the Tate or the National Gallery, I can’t remember which. I was struck by his eyes. They don’t, quite, follow you round the room: he seemed at first to be looking over my shoulder, to see if there was anyone more interesting to talk to.

I moved in closer to have a better look, and was suddenly captivated. Instead of looking out of the canvas, the eyes are¬†angled slightly¬†inwards, as if he is there, looking into my eyes, only a few inches away. I looked into this beautiful man’s eyes, and it was startlingly intimate. I felt warmed and distracted for the rest of the afternoon.

Oh, go on! Come up close to the screen, and see what he does to you.

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I suddenly got Cubism when I leant in to kiss Carol, my eyes open, and I saw her face at different angles, at once. I would rather show Dora Maar, but that picture is still in copyright in the US.

Both- And

My wise friend said, the fundamental paradox is,
God Is, and God is not.

I am pupating,
and these are the last twitches of an insect, its wings pulled off.

I am ruminating, and wallowing in my misery
and I am mourning, working through my hurts.

I realise I have chosen here,
the final refuge of the failed control freak,
control of my living room

And I am celebrating my gifts, my courage and my choices.

I am cursing my stupidity, and celebrating my learning.

I am stripping away my illusions to see more clearly
and foregoing the need to Understand what I see.
Everything is beautiful.

Everything is alright. And
I am afraid.

I have always needed to be a Good person.
In foregoing that demand
I become one.