La belle dame sans merci

Looking at Rheam brought me to La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

Rheam, the banshee, or, la belle dame sans merci

She stands over the dying knight, with an entourage of ghostly knights awaiting her will. The removal of his helmet makes him human and vulnerable. Keats’ poem was a popular Victorian subject.

William James Neatby, la belle dame sans merci

Neatby’s illustration is just of her: she looks out at the male viewer, inviting him in.

Rossetti, la belle dame sans merci

In Rossetti’s sketch, there is far more work on the woman than the man: she has a face and body, he has a suggestion and a box-like form, enough to show where his foot would be to support hers. Yet she is still the Other before the male gaze: in the poem and the paintings, there is no suggestion that anyone asks the questions, what does she want? What is she thinking? What might “mercy” look like?

This is the verse he has copied:

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

Frank Dicksee, la belle dame sans merci

In Frank Dicksee’s painting, I note the effect on the man: he is made an automaton or mannequin.

Walter T Crane, la belle dame sans merci

I needed Martin Earl’s commentary to point out the doubles entendres. Walter Crane’s illustration is similarly- “innocent” is such an unsatisfactory word. In his picture, one can imagine him just riding with her-

Oh. Yes. They are kind of unavoidable, aren’t they?

But what did she want? Was she collecting? Did she put up with their attentions, as the best way to get them to stop bothering her? Punch has an answer:

Punch, la belle dame sans merci

And finally, I am grateful to Jake for copying out most of Fardell v Potts, from Misleading cases in the Uncommon Law. No-one would ever expect a woman to be “reasonable”.

Joy in Compassion

It was never my job to be a counsellor, but I did it anyway.

People came to me at my office, seeking help with concrete problems, and my job was to advise on that. They had been found not entitled to benefits, mostly incapacity benefit and disability living allowance (now both abolished, and replaced with other benefits which are far harder to get and so not paid to those incapable of work, or disabled, who would have got IB or DLA).

And they came with the emotional fallout of that. They had physical difficulties, to which they had often not adjusted, so that a man after a heart attack would say that sitting down he felt fine, and so would go to get up as he would have before, and be breathless with chest pain before he was standing. Their physical health problems distressed them, and then the benefits office did not believe them, and their income was disrupted, producing uncertainty and further distress.

It seemed to me that while I made them feel better by proposing a course of action and offering help with it, I also relieved distress simply by listening, and accepting what they had to say. I felt I could earth their distress, which passed through me and out into the void. I could leave their problems behind: I rarely felt bad about them for long, though sometimes I had consciously to let go of a particular issue.

I did a course in person-centred counselling, and learned the theory of Carl Rogers. To him, counsellors benefit clients by showing congruence, that is, being themselves; empathy, showing that they understand the feelings communicated; and unconditional positive regard- perhaps better called Love. Acceptance without judgment allows the person to know and accept themself. Seeing person-centred counsellors, I found this worked for me: I unpacked and discovered truth about myself, enabled to recognise and accept it by the acceptance and empathy of my counsellor.

The thought that I was benefiting people in this way warmed me. Seeing myself as worthless, I valued myself for what I could achieve, and this was a big part of that.

Later, the funders decided we should work more efficiently, and strictly limited the time we could spend on each case. Of course- they want the best result for their money, and my expertise was legal not emotional- and yet often the clients seemed to want acceptance, and would not answer my questions on relevant facts according to the rules before they had felt their distress was heard.

I exercised empathy. I felt, alongside another human being. This reduced their distress, and gave me a sense of self-worth.

Rossetti, The BridePart of 1000 voices speak for compassion.

The Good Life

Rossetti- Ecce Ancilla Domini

Turning this post over in my mind before writing, describing the Good Life for you, I realised I was describing my own. What is the Good way for a human to be? Autonomous, interdependent, loving, creative- like me, in fact. The Good Human, placed in my circumstances, produces my result.

Flippin’ heck. Okay- um…

There is more than one way of being human, more than one good life. Warrior and peacemaker, leader and follower, artist and rational thinker, all have their place. I am pleased to see my way of being as good. Perfect in my own way.

This is my 1000th post.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Astarte_Syriaca.jpg

 And Now: A Poem!
 Florence-Fiona

Student of Socrates

Thought it was Des-Cart-Ease

When she first read him

What could have led him to
 Cogito Ergo Sum
 Truth to which all will come

Through sweet          
                               Flossie-Fee

Freedom blogs

Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_The_Blue_Closet_1857 (2) Who would blog on Freedom? I am nervous: would I find horrible Libertarian rubbish railing at taxation for public services such as roads? Freedom is meaningful as “Freedom to-“: one is not free who must work all day to survive. Or there is Freedom in a spiritual sense. It is a popular topic, twenty posts in less than seven hours. What do we say about Freedom?

Marsreine writes of a conflict between elves and humans, a scene from a longer story, in which an elf princess is freed, and her human former captor is rendered unconscious and taken for questioning. It reads as if English is not her first language, or her command of it is insufficient for the ideas she wishes to express, though she calls New York “home” and resides in Florida. And- the ideas could be interesting: how do the elves differ from people, and how does each come to understand the other?

Adam Smith 1922 is pissed off with self-important little runts from any part of the political spectrum who purport to speak for him, or all Kiwis. Well, of course: if it is a matter for politics, not all New Zealanders are united. Adam can speak for himself. I asked him, why 1922? Irish independence? He is part Irish.

I can’t make head nor tail of Machine Head Media, or the post in the categories Cannon Law, Economics, Free Masonic Orders, Freedom, Health, Home Vegtable Garden, Homlessness, Nature, Poverty, Survivalist, unalienable rights. Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_The_Blue_Closet_1857 (r)

Empower Women Unite is the first of the twenty on Wisdom aspects of freedom, starting with the quote You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream misattributed to CS Lewis. Well, it does not sound his style, though he writes of “setting up a good life as our final goal” in Man or Rabbit. I am not in the mood for motivational Wisdom which tells me to set goals and strive towards them, especially as I know that is a Good Thing; but this is more nuanced. You might want to go to New York to dance on a Broadway stage, but your dreams can be partially realised by joining your local AmDram group. “Hills peep o’er hills, and alps on alps arise”- not looking at them may make me happier.

Morning Devotions quotes Colossians 1: 13-14: 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. It talks of freeing ourselves, with God, from great past sins or addictive current sins. What sin is holding its noose over you? is it a secret sin… abortion, divorce, [sex] adultery [sex] … leaving your family destitute…. cheating on your spouse [sex] … reading that book that you know you shouldn’t be reading [sex?] … or that magazine [probably sex] … listening and watching things you should not be opening your mind…[Darwinism, LGBT equality, sex] The …s are his.

Scott Freeman’s In Defense of Sex Taboos: sort of is an article I want to engage with. So I will. Tomorrow, as that is enough for today. And Beaver Life Bytes who takes an opposing view to Scott.

AM clerks

Mnemosyne RossettiI was delighted to meet the clerk of Northumbria AM, which has doubled AM attendance to ninety by adopting our pattern of meeting- with a few small differences.

AM is on Sunday. With us, people attending AM often go to meeting where AM will be. With them, this is encouraged. They have lunch together, but in the time before lunch they have a community building activity: either a speaker, or worship sharing or other group activity. After lunch, they have business, which can be limited to one hour, often: reports are not read out- some will leave before the business session. For the whole time, they have children’s activities organised.

One AM has an hour’s “discussion” before AM, where they can speak more freely, and express strong feelings, as well as explain the facts underlying questions for discernment.

Some appoint an elder to attend AM as elder. My thought on this is that as AM clerk, I have to take care not to be attached to any particular outcome, or I would not be able so well to discern the actual decision of the meeting. Arguably this applies to the assistant clerk as well, and if an elder is concerned with right ordering that elder also should be above the fray.

Some AMs have AM business meetings four times a year. They need to arrange what will happen in between. For example membership would need to be so organised that it could be decided at the AM following the application, but the 5th edition of QF&P has new alternative membership procedures.

I met the clerk of Luton and Leighton, who invited us to join in our former General Meeting for a meeting with Juliet Prager, assistant recording clerk. These meetings are to discuss the working of Meeting for Sufferings with AMs. How can we help AMs to feel more connected to BYM? There will be work on a new Long Term Framework next year.
There was a small group on “Lightening the bureaucratic load”. How do we enthuse a Friend for this (and other) roles? One AM puts all reports in the newsletter, as reading them at AM is a waste of time. Some AMs have paid workers: Richard Summers, when working at Manchester MH did all the accounts of all the PMs and MM, overseen by an appointed treasurer. In one AM the trustees are transparent, making sure everyone knows what is going on, though this again depends on enthusing and engaging people, “More reports clogging my in box” or “There’s all this fascinating information”.

In the “Conflict in meeting” session one Friend talked of an attender whose ministry was “violent” and who was “suggestive” to female Quakers. Elders should correct and if necessary exclude such a person. Far more difficult is the personality clash. One Friend who had been treasurer felt burnt out in the role.

Right now, however, I feel enthused, and pleased to be able to serve.

I wrote this for AM, so there is a slight difference in register.

How do you feel?

Well, how do you feel about that?

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e1/Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Salutation_of_Beatrice_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/614px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Salutation_of_Beatrice_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg-Pleasurable anticipation.
Mmm. Yes, the right feeling, we must feel the right feeling. It feels like you looked it up in a book, came up with the right feeling, decided you felt it.

-Anxious, worried, all the things that could go wrong-
Always with the negativity. No, I won’t be in control. (I never am, but sometimes I can pretend that it seems that way.) Don’t worry, it will be alright, and worry does no good. Does harm, even- it makes you watch out for the wrong things. Another way the Law of Attraction might work.

-Excited. Interested. Joyous.
Ahh. Good, innit.

Ask me in that moment- earlier today, and I could have given those answers, all of them true. And it appears that each were different aspects of me, feeling what they felt. I could engage each in dialogue. The third is the one I like, perhaps with just the slightest tincture of the second to make it a little dangerous, but pleasurably so: we know, really, that we will not spill out of the rollercoaster.

I anguished about it from four yesterday when I had the invitation to nine this morning. I will regret it if I do not go. What else will I do? Karate in the morning like I can do any Saturdayhttps://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Holygrail.jpg morning, and hing aboot like a bad smell in the afternoon. And the worry almost kept me away. It is so finely balanced, until it isn’t. Will I accept the invitation? Will I get up now, at 7.15am, for karate and silence, or fiddle with the net-book until breakfast time? That balance, when I could do either.

 Window open for

morning kata and silence.

Birdsong is constant!

I did do a bit of karate, just in my living room, before putting on last Spring’s dress and going to meet this woman I had not met before. Her husband could not come, so she had a spare ticket. No-one else is in a dress, but that is fine by me.

I have control in my living room. I can be in control. Or, I can be not in control, and it will still be alright! More or less. In the station, I take my wig off. No-one minds, possibly no-one notices, but it is good to be reminded of it.

Last time I passed through London I tried that trick, of announcing the station names as the train pulled in. It got me into conversation with the woman in the next seat.

Value in Christianity

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b1/Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_The_Day_Dream_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/589px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_The_Day_Dream_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgHow might I persuade atheist friends to see value in Christianity?

Christianity is easily mocked. “God” is a theory which cannot be verified, which falls foul of Occam’s Razor. Christians schism and kill each other. We get our faith wrong continually. The faith is full of ridiculous beliefs, such as that homosexuality is sinful, and the fellowship can constrain people to narrow norms, such as Complementarianism. Why on Earth do I stick with it? Because it is a rich tradition of two thousand years of human thought, with roots stretching back to Gilgamesh. I pick and choose in it, as it is so varied and self-contradictory that I could hardly do anything else. Some of it is wise.

A friend at an Episcopal church said that in each sermon he counted the heresies, sometimes as many as four. In Christian and all other communication, rather, I search for the value in it. What does the speaker find good? What good can I find in these words? Here are words I have found valuable: Quaker Faith and Practice, and especially Advices and Queries. When St Paul writes on the Resurrection of the Dead,  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied (I Cor 15:19) I disagree. My religion can help me to the Good Life, even if there is no afterlife beyond the memories of other people. Practically, Confession makes people feel good about themselves, and may make them more honest in order to retain that good feeling.

How could an atheist swallow the camel of belief in a God? Even if s/he lays down Occam’s razor for the sake of argument, s/he will say-

There is evil in the World.
Either God cannot stop it, and is not all powerful,
or will not stop it, and is not all Good.

I have my own theodicy, theories defending God from this attack, but it is not systematised.

What I have are experiences of inspiration, which might be explained as brain-states, and of synchronicity, which might be called coincidence. I have the warmth and love of my Quaker meeting this morning, and there is irreligious fellowship.

All I can say is, I find value in it, and I am not a fool.

Uses of Memory

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/95/Rossetti_girlhood.jpgThe train left the platform, slid into the tunnel, and stopped. The lights went off. There is only the ghostly light of laptop and smartphone screens. Irritating. Philip and I have said all we have to say to each other, or all we can say, and we are silent. As the minutes tick on, I realise I will have to go straight to Kings Cross rather than get out further South and walk the streets. I had wanted to walk through the British Museum, its glass-roofed central court captivated me. Still does.

-Why have we stopped?
-Probably a suicide, jumped in front of a train.
And I feel such resentment. Selfish bitch. What are tall buildings for?

Smart-phones? Surely not, not in a tunnel, though people could be looking at old texts and photos. Oh yes, it was a year or two before they came out. Not smartphones, just lap-tops. And- did we decide suicide was the likely explanation, or hear about it after? And did we make conversation, or have That Conversation which breached our friendship finally, then? I am quite clear that I had wanted to walk through the museum, though from what I understand about memory that could be an addition coming into my mind later. Like in the song.

If I can unconsciously reconstruct a memory, and remember it differently from how it was- spoken testimony is among the least reliable of evidence- then, can I make it different, on purpose? I have met fantasists and liars, creating mythical worlds in their history or other lives, but this would be consciously for the purpose of contemplating reality and myself rather than deceiving anyone.

-I felt such resentment.
-I felt such sympathy, and prayed for her. I am sure she was female, whether or not we realised it was suicide at the time, or heard it later, or indeed there was some other explanation.
-(Oh no, she’s going to say it-) “Probably a bit of both”. Depending on which is most acceptable to hold in consciousness, what is swirling about underneath.

Someone asked about coming of age, and I thought of that Menarche ceremony. Then I thought of how F had worked so hard to prevent me taking part among the adult women that I had gone off and sat by our camp fire. Resentment. And- can I concentrate on other parts of that memory? The Resentment swam into my mind, seemed the most important part of it. I heard of an NLP technique- view an unpleasant memory as a small monochrome image, but good memories full of detail and colour. I have no mind’s eye, but the principle holds- remember other parts, give them prominence. That walk in the sunshine with S, perhaps, or the discussion with the other queers about exclusion- all the acceptance I had-

Can I change my frightened hiding, my rejection of the world, into joyous acceptance? Can I by vibrating see opportunities and possibilities, and grasp them? Or will that happen through healing if I just let it and do not try to force it?

Volunteering

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Found_rossetti.jpgTo the volunteer centre in Zhuzhkov, which opens today. What do I want from volunteering? I want to be affirmed. I want to be patted on the head. I want a nice, quiet place where people are pleasant and I can do something not too demanding, which makes me feel I have done something useful, and I want that to be recognised and valued.

There is a new volunteer at the volunteer centre, and she sits in. Am I working now? What is my work history? What hobbies? Do I drive? That is the killer, really. I can use buses. What would I like to do? I tick a lot of boxes on that list, and she suggests reading with children. I would spend two hours a week with a child, listening to them read, and helping them read. I would have two mornings in Nupton learning the technique. I am pleased to see that it is important to involve the child in decision making. They want a commitment of a year. Well, had I volunteered a year ago I could have committed that, though I did not know it at the time.

Headway is near. I have seen it by the library, and did not know what it did. It works with people with acquired brain injuries, giving support and rehabilitation. That could be interesting. “Like Oliver Sacks?” She does not understand the reference. I am more cultured than she is, obviously. That does not entitle me to anything, but is pleasant.

She gives me the Diversity form, telling me that she is https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_The_Tune_of_Seven_Towers.jpgrequired to ask these personal questions, and she has decided always to give the form rather than to ask the questions, and I may tick “do not want to say” for all of them if I wish. Actually I like the diversity form, it acknowledges and takes an interest in diversity, and that is a good thing. The use of it will improve. I particularly like this one. It does not ask my sex, but my gender identity, M or F. Then it asks whether or not my gender identity is the same as that assigned at birth. I noticed my arcane weirdness was being asked about, stared hard at the question and when I realised quite how respectfully it was phrased felt delight.

Do they keep records of potential volunteers? No. They did at one point when the Children’s Centres said they would be seeking volunteers for play supervision, but do not now. So she will not keep my details on file beyond the fact that I came, and she suggested something. And she does not know my skills or abilities, or much about me at all, anyway. Apart from my gender identity.

To the supermarket, where I meet Terry. I have at last started the book he leant me months ago about attaining Cosmic Consciousness and Spiritual Enlightenment through hypnosis. It gives scripts for a reader to guide another into a trance state and an Encounter with God experience. Ronald Havens says that these Peak experiences are valuable, and quickly attainable without any long religious practice, though he does not believe in God. Would he read the scripts to me? He will think about it. Havens suggests the reader records them herself. So I have dug out my voice recorder. Terry has not actually tried this. Mmm. I notice my resistance: it helps you accept the World as it is, apparently. Fuck. Do I have to?

Tranny blog

 

Private Dancer

Tranny pics! Hot sexy trannies! Hot sexy tranny pics! Sex! Hot! Rate these gorgeous sexy trannies! Official tranny porn! Trannies!

If you google for “tranny blog”, that is the kind of thing you will see. Human beings used as sex objects for men to look at and masturbate. Pictures of people with breasts and penises portrayed as freaks. So one reason I have for using the word Tranny here is to figure in such searches, so that I might engage with the people who look there. My top four search terms are “tranny blog“, “Durga“, “Clare Flourish” and “trans sex“.

 

Danae, an Invitation to Love

Quemcumque miserum videris, hominem scias, says the Royal Life Saving Society, which teaches pool attendants and lifeguards on beaches. Whomsoever you see in distress, recognise a fellow human being. No, this could not be your mother or your sister, objectified in this way, so that argument is useless. How else might you recognise me?

A human being, degraded for your enjoyment, used as a thing. Does that stir your empathy at all? Do you really want to trample on other people? Is that how you see yourself, in a War against the world, pushing people out of the way, standing on them if it gets what you want?

 

Mirror, Mirror

But wait. Imagine they could look through your webcam and see you at 3am, engrossed and engorged and entrapped, addicted- led by your dick- alone, ashamed and frightened in case anyone knew you did this disgusting thing, yet unable to resist, unable to switch off, compelled to return again and again to a thing which gives no pleasure, assuages no need, is an illusion. Are you really that Strong Man who can use anyone at will, or are you being used, powerless to resist? You are like Jeannie and Laura, entrapped by the Goblins. (Do look at the link, it is beautiful.)

I use the word “tranny” as in “I am a tranny” because I am free. It has no power to hurt me. I know I am worthy of self-respect, and no mere word, no easy judgment, can take that away from me. I have some concern because I know that the word is still used to hurt others, and it does in fact hurt my kind- so I object to Outsiders using it. Show respect. Hominem scias: recognise my humanity, so that you may recognise your own.

Go on! Leave a Comment! Say hello! Paintings from Circé’s Art. You may also be interested in Tucking, about what pre-op trans women do with their penises, and how to fold away a penis and testicles so they present a feminine silhouette in a swimsuit. With pictures.