Encountering others

How could we stop depersoning each other?

-Why did you edit yourself?
-Because she wanted affirmation, and I didn’t, actually. I didn’t need anything from that conversation and I don’t think she could have given it to me.

I hate to claim wisdom. I feel if I am claiming wisdom I am missing something. Surely I could not be in such a mature place. But. With respect to the local meeting I think, well that was that. There were bits which were really wonderful. There were bits which were painful. I think it’s their loss, but I really don’t think I could convince them of that. I told people what had happened without self-justification, and that felt liberating.

Oh God it hurts, and I have to live with it. There will be other delights.

We say we want the I-thou encounter, and just like other human beings we note the class and status indicators and see people by stereotype. These are shortcuts, which get in the way of knowing. As apes, part of our initial impression is of the other’s hair, as an indicator of health.

I feel I made a step forward and as always it’s hard to know what the step forward is because in some sense I have been like this forever, and in some sense this is entirely new. I feel my undressing, my exposure of myself, has value, increasing understanding for myself and others. I have not particularly felt it has a cost, either because I don’t understand how people see me, or can’t see that it might make them see me less positively. Tout comprendre est tout pardonner.

And before I was not concerned with reality, but how I could manage its appearance to a part of me that judged me. I may be considering reality more. My aim is to respond to reality rather than manage my own fantasies about reality. I would do something to manage the fantasy rather than achieve something in the real world. But my situation is such that I don’t know what I want to achieve in the real world, or how I might go about starting.

There’s the deep hurt, fear, perplexity. I don’t think there’s a great deal of resentment, this is just where I am. I have achieved a great deal, and it may help me to earn a living in the long run.

TERFs are often people I would really like, and might relate to well, were it not for this dispute. I like them, yet I know my loyalty is to me in 2001 desperate to transition and completely terrified of it, and to people in exactly that position now.

There is one thing I could do to get more human contact and the experience of a working routine, and do something worthwhile, and I just don’t want to. I found it too unpleasant. Why did people vote for Brexit? Because it was couched emotionally rather than rationally, in terms of taking back control, not being bothered by immigrants seeing things differently and getting things we don’t get, and a cheery wave from the milkman in the morning. A simpler world, where everyone was comprehensible.

Everyone and no-one is like me. We meet wearing masks, and the masks prevent us from meeting, but shared experience may let us share real parts of ourselves. I self-disclose here, endlessly, because I want to take off my mask.

We voted for Brexit because we are thirsty, and someone showed us a mirage. Big Ben won’t bong on Friday, as there was no plan to ring it until it was too late. However Mark Francois blames the deep state, writing on his Gofundme page that it was much cheaper than £500,000 to ring it before: £14,200 on Remembrance Day.

So, Leavers get to feel a bit of resentment at being thwarted, even on their day of greatest triumph as they fondle their commemorative 50p’s and anticipate their blue passports. That bongs could have been as cheap on Brexit day had Francois and Johnson planned to bong is brushed aside.

The propaganda value of this is enormous. Leavers never get their triumph, they are always tantalised that great things are around the corner and can be gained but for the Bad People. So their anger and fear and resentment are kept stoked, for political purposes.

Language, truth and reality

Winston Smith wrote in his diary, Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4. That means there is a shared reality, where we all know that 2+2=4, and each person has the freedom to state it. Someone riposted no, freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=5. Powerful people state what reality is, for example We have always been at war with Eastasia, and the rest of us have to go along with that.

People on the moderate left tend to believe in reality humans can investigate, where, say, climate catastrophe is being caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and Mr Trump is wilfully denying that, but who knows what Trump believes? He really might believe something because it is in his interests to do so.

When I was a child there were nine planets, and there are now, as far as I know: but Pluto has been redefined as a dwarf planet and Konstantin Batygin’s planet nine has been hypothesised but not observed. I could not assess the weight of Batygin’s evidence, and I could not say whether there is some agreed need to observe it before declaring it exists though there appears to be. When I was a child, a kilobyte was 1024 bytes, and now it is 1000. 1024 bytes is now a kibibyte.

A sacked writer about taxation issues, echoing Winston, wants the freedom to say “Sex is real”. Of course it is, but not all the implications she wants to make from that follow. I don’t name her because her power comes from her notoriety and I call it notoriety rather than fame because I disapprove of her. Here I am, trying to mould reality with the words I use. I say “Trans women are women” and you agree with me, and freedom and human diversity and flourishing are enhanced, and she and her ilk say “transwomen are men” and they are not disagreeing with us, they are using language differently. It is a power struggle not a search for truth.

Michel Foucault said, We must cease once and for all to describe the effects of power in negative terms: it ‘excludes’, it ‘represses’, it ‘censors’, it ‘abstracts’, it ‘masks’, it ‘conceals’. In fact power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth.

You wanted to tell me something was going to happen that I would find difficult. You called me up and asked me not to tell anyone, and I said I was minded to promise but would not do so yet. You explained slowly and carefully why, and I agreed that was brave and possibly the right thing to do. I then promised, and started trying to explain something (I hope my allusions here are sufficiently nebulous not to have broken that promise). I was concerned I might be telling you things I had told you before, and I wanted to tell quickly a lot of information, and I became incoherent. A sentence might make sense by itself but not with the one before or after, then the sentences broke down. I don’t know what I said.

Richard Rohr says the myths of heroic sacrifice or redemptive suffering can prevent us from rebounding from rock bottom. I don’t know what keeps me here. Possibly the prejudice of others, possibly some error in me, wrongful desires or misperceptions. Evolution says that if we are more likely to reproduce if we don’t see reality, then we won’t see reality.

I felt that I wanted to play the Chopin A major prelude, and wondered if it would be too much work, my wrist and finger strength, my dexterity having faded, even the brain structures necessary having atrophied with lack of use. (The plastic brain is another truth new since my childhood.) It is beautiful. Those leaps in the left hand when the first melody comes back fortissimo are difficult. Could I learn it again? Could I apply myself, which would mean trusting myself?

I have difficulty knowing what I want, especially when it makes no sense to me.

I wanted to write, just now, thinking this would get me somewhere. I was weeping while hand-washing my towels. I thought, and the thought seemed like a huge revelation, if I can realise when I am incoherent possibly I could realise when I was resisting the world, rather than acting to change it?

And, perhaps, if I stopped trying so hard to mould reality, I could see it?

After, I read in Richard Rohr: Humility is the truth. That is to say, humility is the capacity to accept whatever happens, peacefully. Then you can decide whether God is calling you simply to accept the situation, or to do something to improve or correct it. Humility is a constant and permanent disposition that puts one in tune with the universe and with whatever is happening in the present moment.

The idea of the Real Self

A concept of a “Real self” could get in the way of being real. If it is a virtuous concept, and I want to see myself as virtuous, it might nudge me to take action I otherwise wouldn’t; and that could be “The practice of Virtue Ethics” (good) or Hypocrisy (bad). How would I know? More likely, it would make me deny qualities. The idea of onesself as “depressive” rather than “having depression” makes depression harder to heal, I read.

Or again my female/ feminine self must be the Real Me, to make transition as irresistible as it was. I had resisted cross-dressing for a year, once, and then started again. I drew comfort from Carl Rogers’ idea of the Self-Concept and the Organismic Self, but that does not mean the Organismic Self is fixed: it could be responsive, in the moment.

Meeting Jeremy Corbyn made me more hopeful about politics than I have been.

That thesis. The experience of violence or control makes it difficult to maintain an individual identity, and as a child I felt controlled, and now I feel my personality was subsumed in my mother’s, for her desires.

I’m feeling malleable, that my feelings, desires and acts can be moulded by others, and that would be fine if I felt myself part of a supportive community, but a threat when I feel marginalised and of low status. If I am moulded I feel it is not in my interests.

The need to preserve a self-concept will get in the way of other needs, eventually undeniably. That could be part of the Waking-up, Rock-bottom moment: you give up trying to pretend that you are who people told you you were, and seek your own interests. Suffering is the origin of consciousness, wrote Достоевский.

If I am malleable, there is no way of escaping the pain. Not in integrity, I am merely, always, confused and hurt.

-One of my trans friends who is exuberant and bubbly most of the time and withdraws from contact with people at other times fears therapy because she’s frightened there’ll be nobody there. You keep taking the skins off the onion. Take the muddle away and there’s nothing underneath, it’s muddle all the way down.

But it could be freeing. If I have integrity, if I am a lump of iron I need a me-shaped hole to fit into. Being mercurial means I can always fit, just flow into the hole available.

Or that I can’t get a complete handle on it using my own language and conscious understanding does not mean that there is no- I’m using too many negatives. EVEN THOUGH I cannot understand myself that doesn’t mean there is no self to understand, but that self includes

malleability.

I so want something to rely on!

And I had set my heart on having a self-understanding, and relying on that. And having it fixed, rather than having to keep updating it in the light of new information.

Being malleable. That could be bad- there’s no real me and no end to pain, or good- being fluid and able to react.

There should be a Truth, which is comprehensible, except there isn’t.

I see everything in a binary way, and judge it as good or bad. Innate quality is not contrary to social construction, we are nature and nurture. I am a different person in a work situation, and with different friends.

I seek safety, and often it seems to me that I am seeking safety from illusory threats in illusory protection which might be more threatening. I’ve got loads of three dimensional blocks and I’m turning them round and thinking, they must be able to fit together somehow. I’m really intelligent and I must be able to do this. Maybe it does not matter if they don’t- I have partial, inconsistent, and changeable understandings of the world and that is the best I can do, and it’s good enough.

We only assert gender if it is challenged. Most people don’t have their gender challenged. I say I am a woman, and others say no you’re not. But cis women get moulded by the beauty myth into trying to look a certain way.

And if cutting my bits off was a mistake, I have got to get over it sometime.
-OhmyGod that was stupid I can never trust myself again

My Rock would be an unquestionable view of myself as trustworthy, always doing the right thing in the moment, and that is illusory. Rather, I do my thing in the moment and do not understand it, but I have survived, so far. I might trust my reactions more than I do, if I did not second-guess them so much. But if there is a Real Me, I do not know her- or at least, cannot describe her with words.

(c) The Foundling Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Worship is relationship

I was taken to church weekly as a child. Reciting the creed was part of life, and believing it was part of my identity. I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible… So when in 2010 I no longer believed, that was painful as my identity was remade against my will. It felt that I still believed, sometimes. Yet when in February 2011 I was touristing around the south coast having admitted to myself that I did not believe in an Eternal God, creator, outside time but in some way a Person, I went into a church to admire the building and was forced to my knees by the holiness of it. My heart had been opened by the Hoffman Process and I was in a strange place, open to remaking my identity, new and greater understanding, accepting feelings which had not fitted my world view or self-image before.

The world is not as I thought it is. Perhaps you have had such experiences, or will have, or else have a smoother, less painful, way of learning and integrating learning.

The field where Greenbelt is held each year is eldritch at all times, and magical during the festival. I don’t know where the tree was, only that I was unaware of it until a broad leaf almost hit my face, and I jerked my head away, looking at it in shock- and then I was fully aware of it, the beauty of that leaf, and I was in relationship with the tree, I-thou with it, seeing, appreciating, loving. There are spirits, naiads and dryads, within feet of you at all thymes you are outside.

Slowly, the utterly magical spiritual experience, where I am aware of my surroundings or at one with them, merged with my quotidian experience, where I could move into awareness by touching a surface then appreciating it, entering fully into my sensation of it. Then my awareness expanded to my other sensations. — talked of repeatedly waking up: he would be walking along the street, then he would awaken into awareness and realise he had not been awake for a week. There was the dullness of going through the motions and ruminating on fantasy, then the quick sharp awareness of reality like fresh clear air among smog. And yesterday there was the millennium bridge, the fried nuts seller, the pigeon, those tourists, the River. The Cathedral. I was, there, in that space, at that moment.

(My judgment kicks in. Was it like that, really? That was how I saw the church at the time; and the tree was an intense experience, though only for an instant. And I am a story-teller, and these are my stories for you now.)

Freed from the idea of a God in some way separate from all things visible and invisible I have moved towards the idea of worship as relationship, which seems more valuable. I turn outwards. There is Me and everything else, or Not-me, and I contemplate it. Me and Not-me, or me in Not-me, something greater than myself, inexplicable, inexorable, with Love Wrath and Indifference mixed. “Before the Big Bang God lit the blue touch-paper, and advanced.” God is in everything. Rationally I am non-theist, emotionally I am theist: I cannot believe in a creator of this Universe which fits the Christian ideas I learned, yet being in relationship with Not-me fits how I am made.

God is that which is Not-me. God is in me. God is our relationship. This organism, being and growing, perceiving, relating, and also second-guessing, doubting, ruminating, has moments relating to the world and seeing itself. That is worship, a time devoted to truth.

(c) Manchester City Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Escaping the Binary

Man/woman, trans/cis, even binary/non-binary? Some trans folk see themselves as binary trans, a man or woman rather than something in between, so how much is “non-binary” a reaction to that limited way of being trans, or a new thing?

Radical feminists are dismissive. It is merely self-indulgent to claim different pronouns, even to change desired pronouns according to mood. I’m not going to ask what pronouns to use, said the woman. And she looks like a normal woman, she’ll not escape harassment that way. But I am not sure what Lucy’s objection is. You define yourself by what you are not- non-binary.

To me non-binary is the ultimate freedom-word for gender. I can manifest male or female or Other because I am not constrained by the Binary. The feminist might say it was unnecessary, and that being a woman does not constrain her gender expression. Perhaps we are more attuned to the objection of others, and need a word to reassure us.

I believe reality is too complex to express in words, which may constrain our ability to perceive it. I find my perception getting more complex, as I see beyond my verbal description then find new words to describe what I perceive. I use non-binary for permission, rather than understanding. I do not do something because I am non-binary, with an understanding of how non-binary people behave, but because I am I. Others may find a stereotype they like and conform to it, calling it non-binary, but while I conform to stereotypes I no longer name them to be reassured that I am fitting in, but to try and find my real desires, and break conformity. Then again, rebellion is as unfree as conformity, and I seek freedom.

I am certain that not all people who call themselves non-binary are non-binary in the same way. Yet the name might lead them into internet groups where they gain understanding of their new identity, and there are some rules about how to be accepted.

I read that we make our decisions unconsciously, and rather than controlling them the conscious mind merely rationalises them. Why did you do that? Oh, I don’t know, it could be any reason. I pity the man who testified before a tribunal a different reason from what he had said elsewhere, and so ruined his credibility in his judges’ eyes. How could we know the real reason anyway? Because I am a person like this, or someone who behaves like that, or I had this provocation. I wanted to. Then non-binary would merely be a rationalisation, though it may work at the unconscious level as permission. How much do I have to fit in, and can I be free to be idiosyncratically me? I might try independence, see others object, and flee back to conformity. Then I might rationalise that, to self-aggrandise or beat myself up.

I want to make my own decisions without constraint by concepts- I am this, so I must not do that. Though “having integrity” is a good concept and choosing it may be worthwhile. That is the basis of Virtue ethics. And “I am not very bright” might help reduce my self-castigation: I usually work things out in the end.

Computer simulation

We are probably in a complex computer simulation. The neutrinos and galaxies our instruments detect, and even each of us, are made of code. “How can I emerge into Reality?” asked H- but why would you want to? Why would reality be preferable?

Imagine that in reality you have moments to live, having been in an accident. As the human population is kept at a precise optimal sustainable level, there is a strong taboo against prolonging life. Your death will mean that someone can have a baby. However, as you are dying early you get the opportunity to enter The Simulation. You will not remember your real life, but can live a life here.

Or, in reality the Big Crunch will happen within 100,000 years. Nothing of the whole Universe will remain. It is believed that there will be a further Big Bang, but for hundreds of thousands of years after there will be no structure or information in the hot plasma, if ever. However, in the Simulation time is speeded up, so that we have another ten billion years before the computer substrate is destroyed. And we detect evidence that there will never be a Big Crunch, just the evaporation of black holes and a perpetually expanding Universe of solitary particles at absolute zero, too far apart to have any effect on each other: it is set this way, so that we will not suffer the despair our creators feel.

Or, in reality you are a criminal. Your body will be placed in a coma so that you will never sense anything ever again, and this is a mercy because your crime is so dreadful that all of society would ostracize you. However, you can have a life in the Simulation.

I imagine life would be preferable in reality because you could influence real events, but in the simulation life is perhaps as complex as in Reality- so how is Reality more real? Perhaps life is less complex there. There is only one galaxy, and only one planet with intelligent life, and reality is simple enough for people to have fully understood and explained it. They would die of boredom, but instead they live vicariously through us. Right now they are laughing at the practical joke they have played on us, for here quantum theory and gravity are irreconcilable.

If the simulation is indistinguishable from Reality, why would Reality be better? I can influence other lives here, which matters even if they are made of code rather than cells.

If this is reality, the Sun will heat up so that Earth’s water will evaporate in a billion years’ time, so that organic life will be impossible. In seven billion years the Sun will become a red giant and if it does not engulf the Earth, Earth’s atmosphere will be stripped away and its surface temperature rise to over 2400K. Homo Sapiens Sapiens emerged 200,000 years ago, and perhaps our species will end within a million years. I might extend my empathy and fellow feeling to a machine intelligence emerging from Earth, and be pleased that something emerging from life on Earth would survive, but just as I will die so will my country, my civilisation, my species, my planet, and perhaps everything relating to or influenced by life here will end.

It will end; but it will have been beautiful and valuable, while it lasted.

Other people II

“The world does not revolve around you.”

That surprised me, actually, because I had not thought it had. In my disappointment, I had sent what I thought was a positive, exciting, winsome email, and got that back. I decided she is just wrong and thinking of ways of getting at me.

Then I wanted someone to cease to undertake a particular role. I told her that it was because I did not think asking her to undertake that role showed proper respect to the other work that she does. She would not accept that reason, though she would leave if I thought she could not do the job. That really upset me. No! I am not being passive-aggressive, or manipulative! This is my genuine reason! I am being positive and loving, and you demand that I be horrible!

Though if she wants the role, and I want her out of it, I am indeed being horrible.

In case she will not go quietly, I emailed her formally setting out my objections to her continuing, and was proud of my decisive action. I would have been far more anxious about it a month ago.

Should I go to meet with you this (Sunday) afternoon? I could, actually. I am capable; but it would be difficulty and expense I could do without, and I had requested you to meet by videolink. I had not heard back. I started my paranoid fantasy- “If you can’t attend a meeting then I can’t trust you and I can’t work with you”- but no, it would never be a reason for ceasing to work with me, even if it could conceivably be an excuse.

Then I talked to someone who knows you, and you ceased to be this powerful being who alone could grant or withhold my dearest wish, and became a human being. Though I was still stressing wildly about how could I get what I want from you. Liz said I should sit with it in the Quaker meeting.

You see I can come out with words which have the appearance of Wisdom. “What does Love require of you?” A wonderfully wise basis for action. I could construct an argument from it to do anything. I sat in Meeting. I could write you a letter- “Loving”; winsome, again; and still attempting manipulation.

It is important to start Metta with myself. In 2012 I stopped, because I found it too difficult: I could not think that well of myself. I have found it easier recently. I looked around at the others present, a number of attractive people each with their own concerns. Gosh, people are complex. I wish I understood them better- so I could manipulate them successfully, of course.

It has seemed that I made a shift in that Quaker meeting, or at least seen that a better way is possible. My attempts to manipulate come from my sense of my worthlessness, thinking I can get what I want by giving you what I imagine you want.

Someone ministers that it is Holocaust Memorial Day.

I minister that

all I have done has come from love.

It has done, sometimes sacrificially. But I have not been realistic, I have been caught in illusion- and I still may be, I am not safe from it yet- and I have been trying to get what I want by manipulation.

 And
I am capable of more Love.

We know it has been a deep meeting.

Mirror, Mirror

Safeguarding

I moved from illusion to reality. It is a bracing experience.

We were considering the Area Meeting Safeguarding policy, for children and vulnerable adults. We based it on the CCPAS guidelines as interpreted by York AM- no need to repeat the work. We need DBS checks on anyone holding a children’s meeting. We need to be ready for child abuse allegations.

How should an adult respond if a child makes an allegation to them?

Helpful Responses
• You have done the right thing in telling
• I am glad you have told me
• I will try to help you

Don’t Say
• Why didn’t you tell anyone before?
• I can’t believe it!
• Are you sure this is true?
• Why? How? When? Who? Where?
• I am shocked, don’t tell anyone else

Don’t say why, how etc because it is not your job to investigate, that is for experts. Don’t challenge the allegation because the child will have low levels of trust already, and any challenge will reduce trust further.

Why would I challenge the child? Because I can’t believe it. Because my trust for my community is threatened, and because I have an emotional need for that trust.

I have been tempted to view DBS checks in Meeting as unnecessary bureaucracy. They are imperfect: they do not catch people who have never been caught, and they allow employers to discriminate against ex-offenders, whose offences would formerly have been regarded as “spent”, so not affecting their employment prospects. However, they are the precaution available to us.

I can still trust my Quaker community. I have got to know the people in my Meeting. And bad things happen, and I have to be awake when they do. The emotional threat to my sense of safety or my need to feel safe must not blind me to what is actually happening.

Bad things happen. An abuser joining a meeting would groom the adults as well as the children, building trust to exploit later. This does not mean that I cannot trust, but that I must be able to set that trust aside.

Paul explained from his NHS experience that adults must protect themselves too. A teenage girl is going for the bus in the rain. “I’ll give you a lift” says the middle-aged man. No. That opens him to false allegations. It may be unlikely, but the consequences would be severe. Also, we cannot trust the man alone with the vulnerable girl: when people did, abuse happened. The volunteer wants to help and get a warm feeling. It is not worth it.

So recently, where priests and ministers were trusted completely, abusers became priests. Reality is safer than illusion.

Kings Cross Underground fire

Should drugs be legalised II

Chatterton 1856 by Henry Wallis 1830-1916

File:Wallis The Stonebreaker.jpgDunno. Really.

Jake Coe died a few days ago, reportedly of an overdose. He was not Chatterton, a blazing star across the sky, but a gifted man who had developed his talents after becoming addicted in youth. “Going off the rails” I wrote, and deleted, because it is more complex than that. We need to escape reality. Human kind cannot bear it.

We need to escape reality, because reality is difficult and painful. S was off the booze for twelve days, but is back on it, I hear. Her parents told the corner shop not to sell booze to her, so she would have to walk a mile- not having a car- to the next shop to buy it. The pub on the corner closed.

We need to escape reality, and when working I would eat with a friend on Friday night and have half a bottle of wine, occasionally a whole bottle. There are better ways of relaxing and recovering. Meditation, perhaps. Truth-speaking from a meditative state is valuable. What do you most want to communicate?

Henry Wallis Shakespeare 1We need to lose control, because the human being acting spontaneously is a wonderful thing. I wrote one of my best poems when drunk, but Dylan Thomas wrote immortal poetry drunk. We go from creeping along, testing every footstep for safety, to Being. Gloriously. Alive, to Flying

unless that is an illusion, a siren dream

LSD can create a sensation similar to a Spiritual Experience. I get them in my Quaker meeting occasionally- there’s the one like Being at One with the Universe, and the one like All my Senses Coming Alive, and others- they are lovely, and they may even have a lasting effect on me. Licia Kuenning, former girlfriend of Timothy Leary, started talking to God- Jesus, she told me by email, had written that email through her- about something preposterous and wonderful and beautiful, and divorced from reality. I can hardly imagine her joy when she became convinced of her personal revelation. I think she has talents which might have been better used.

Henry Wallis Shakespeare (2)We need to escape reality, so the problem is the need rather than the method. Make reality unbearable- school tests for four year olds, hours of homework and constant competition, the knowledge that success is impossible- and you create the need. To survive in this competitive world you need to be in control. We need to lose control, and that can be so utterly threatening that we can only do it with chemical assistance.

My friend’s son became paranoid on weed. His parents, friends, toulemonde were out to get him. He made the connection after two experiences of this, and gave up. There are risks in the ways we escape reality. Of course heroin is legal, but only prescribed by doctors in restricted situations, as “morphine”. There was no harm in my mother being addicted, as she would die of cancer within months.

We need to escape reality. We need to lose control. When these human things are transfigured, there will be no Drug Problem.

Jake Coe’s video, again. Link for those who receive this by email.