Beauty and Cruelty

In the 1550s, Titian painted seven great paintings for Philip II of Spain. Philip, who drove the Netherlands to revolt and succession by imposing the Spanish Inquisition on them, who channelled the wealth of the New World into building the Escorial palace and pointless wars, who burned thirty-one Protestants in the main square of Valladolid in 1559, displayed paintings in which Gods exercised their power without remorse or pity over helpless humans, in pictures where the viewer is invited to take pleasure and amusement in the victims’ pain. The paintings show the skill of one of the greatest artists, and are beautiful.

Jupiter descends to impregnate Danae, in a shower of gold.

Jupiter, in the form of a bull, carries off Europa. A putti mocks her, mimicking her movement.

Actaeon, hunting in the woods, comes upon Diana and sees her nakedness.

Diana hunts him down with his own dogs, which rip him apart. This painting was never delivered and is not always included in the set.

Diana punishes Callisto, for her pregnancy to Jupiter.

Adonis, the hunter, pulls away from Venus, who loves him.

Andromeda, chained to be eaten by a sea monster, sees Perseus coming to her rescue.

All show naked women. In three, the woman exercises power, and in four she is its victim.

My blog is now ten years old.

Welcome insanity

I need to tell you this. I don’t know how. I imagine uncomprehending laughter at the ridiculous trans.

There are things I could do, but there is nothing I have to do today. The forecast is heavy rain until late afternoon. I feel some lassitude and imagine I will spend a great deal of time watching TV.

By the way, I love Missy on Doctor Who. Not only has she changed sex, she dresses like a tranny. And she has that wonderful volcanic take no shit personality: “No, I have not turned guid“, she says, going Scottish and killing someone just to make her point.

It might be better to tidy my room, or sort my weekend- I can go dancing if X, so I would be well to check the possibility of X. It would be lovely to see B again. Instead, I want to dress up. I want to dress in a feminine fashion, though I will not be going out or seeing anyone. I want to manifest as utterly girly, simply for myself.

My enraged contempt at this desire stuns me. So it really is all about the clothes. It affirms the theory of autogynephilia: it is how the clothes make me feel, nothing more. It is not rational or sensible- though neither was transition, of course- to put on the heating rather than to put on a thicker sweater. Well, I don’t want to put on a sweater, I want to wear something pretty.

I overcome my enraged contempt, and do what I want. It makes no sense except that it is what I want.

I don’t rate my dress sense highly. That is why I said Missy dresses like a tranny- flamboyant but completely unfashionably, that cameo brooch at the neck was fashionable some time in the 90s. This long, soft skirt which I call “feminine”- well, Suzy passed the message on that I should show off my legs, and that is more fashionable, in leggings or short skirts. Well, this skirt is what I have. I don’t know what other clothes I would want.

It seems to me this is the only way I know how to pamper or affirm myself. All that resistance- it is stupid, pointless, ridiculous, imagining the raucous laughter of tout le monde- So now I am sitting, writing, and this is all I have done: I paced the floor, I made my decision, I showered and dressed, and it is lunch time. And I am exhausted by that work, such that this afternoon I will do little beyond watching telly or perhaps staring into space. Ruminating, thinking this over, noticing the truth of it.

(I’m NOT RUMINATING!!!! I thought this morning. I AM MAKING PROGRESS!! I DO THIS FOR ME!!!)

Hundreds of people come here from t-central, and some of them click several links in my menu, and none of them ever leaves a comment. Does this speak to you, at all? This is the only way I have to value myself, this is the only thing I know to do, purely for myself. I feel such delight and misery, pride and shame- that this is all I know, and that I am doing it.

Titian, Venus of Urbino

Of course I have been here before. I like to think I am making progress, but perhaps not. So I care for myself in some inchoate way, just in this moment, and delight in it, not doing anything which my inner rationalist would approve of. I sense the resistance. I am aware how much I fight myself. I seek to find patterns, it is the human thing to do, and perhaps there are none. And yet- right now I am doing what I want to do, rather than what makes sense, and I hope that is a good thing.

What I want III

I want to be safe. I do not and never have felt safe- this is not simply “because I am trans” and yet being trans has poisoned this, as everything else in my experience. I want to feel safe in the short term: medium/long term being less immediately important.

We were discussing Maslow’s hierarchy, and in this particular summary they are, Survival (food and water); Being safe; Feeling a sense of love and belonging; Having esteem; Self-actualisation; Knowing and understanding. Working with the homeless, said Eileen, knowing that they are not safe, she sees that they might consider the “higher” needs but only momentarily.

And so I retreat to my living room. This is only safe in the short term, and militates against “a sense of love and belonging” but has been the best I could do, given my false understandings of the world and my contempt for myself, and the way my other attempts at safety have been stripped from me as impossible and illusory. I wanted to fit in and support myself, and I could not.

I only sought work for safety. That is hardly unusual- I wonder how many people get beyond this stage if Maslow’s theory has any truth to it- but the safety I sought was against what will people think? in my particular false way of seeing that. My resentment is overwhelming: I resent being trans, even though I would not exist if I were not: this agglomeration of atoms as cis woman or cis man would be so entirely different from who I am. My rage and terror is greater.

I am not working towards medium or longer term safety because I do not see how: the effort will be too great, the chance of success too small. My old negativity has never gone away.

I get better. My contempt for myself lessens, as I realise its depth and bring it to consciousness. And now my contempt is conscious rather than the all-pervasive natural way things are, I may lessen it and consider my good qualities. Eileen did not understand why I needed to retreat, mentioning gifts including articulacy and intelligence. I can hear that, now. I would have heard it as a judgment- why do you not do something with them?- but not now.

Bringing this to consciousness I might start to consider medium-term safety rather than immediate safety.

Thinking, over the last three years I have been working as hard as I could, might bring me to amazed despair; or the hope that if I understand better I might manage more.

I want to be safe.
This is an entirely reasonable desire.

TItian, Diana and Callisto

Trust, safety, clarity, Love

The post I have avoided writing. I put my face in his, and said “Fuck you. Fuck right up you.” I continued on this theme, and when he turned his face away and said “I’ve already apologised” (I had not heard it) I still continued. All my anger and frustration came out at him. He approached me later and we discussed the incident, at the stall where I was telling Greenbelt about Quakers. Well, he had told me not to behave discourteously, in a way which I had not actually intended to behave, and I took umbrage; and it was raining, which is difficult at a festival; but my frustration was at you (I told him at other things as well as him).

It occurred to me that you had let me down deliberately, and perhaps just because it occurred to me I have no trust, so should stop bothering with this. More likely you did not take sufficient care not to, and I resent your lack of care for me- so again should stop bothering, perhaps. Well, no-one else was two hours late, though possibly it was a series of unfortunate events. Then I did not speak to you. I did not say what I wanted, or ask what you wanted.

At that other time, I thought you were showing insufficient care, and then we got into a pointless argument: I did not receive your text, only one saying “message cannot be displayed”- I believe you sent it because you said so. That is what I wanted to get across. I seem to have communicated doubt that you sent it.

If not for Stuff, this could be perfect. Well, there is Stuff. Some of it is just who I am, I might be like this with anyone; and any friendship has tensions-

Do I want you, or someone entirely different who exists only in my imagination? What would I do to get you? I would self-censor, seek to manage you by not showing parts of me you had indicated were unacceptable, building resentment in myself and not communicating. I know because I have done this and agonised about it. I want to be influenced by you: I want to add your responses to the world, to my range of options.

I do not want to say that this game is over. So I did not want to write this. Yet if I try to continue with it, my resentment of you may be too great- I already blame you, it is your fault, you should have been different. Or I resent the how World is. I have still been thinking, the solution is

See reality. Accept reality.

Because loving the wonderful being that I see imperfectly, but there are things I am clear that I see that are Wonderful, seems possible-

Beautiful words

We use the same words- “love”, “truth”, “God”, “holiness”, but mean entirely different things by them. It is not only gender identity or sexuality that she does not understand, but the whole world.

Here is Nancy, who imagines that she is Christian and loving, but that (says her tagline) this is “an increasingly hostile world”. Why is the world hostile to her? Because of “blindness from Satan”. She is insulated from understanding, because she thinks disagreement is Devilish. Can she be brought into the light? For God, all things are possible.

She opposes equal marriage for the sake of the children- It is our duty to speak up in favor of children having two parents of opposite sexes- though that strictly means opposing adoption or assisted fertility for gay couples, not marriage itself; and if those unaborted children were simply given up for adoption as she appears to imagine, who would adopt? In 2005 (yes, I know) there were half a million children in foster care in the US- are they really better off than if they were adopted by a gay couple? If a marriage breaks down, are the children really better off with only one parent than with two of the same sex?  “For the sake of the children” is easily exposed as merely silly: but that does not stop people parroting it, even claiming they have “spoken up for holiness”.

But she opposes my right to exist. She would tell me that my life is sin, and I should stop acting in this way.

She imagines that she loves me. She says so repeatedly. What she loves is something impossible: a thing, occupying the same space, perhaps with the same atoms, which would be healthier and closer to God if presenting male. She does not love me, but her false idea of me, and she will continually insist that I sin even while protesting she loves me. Her “love” is a desire for my harm; “truth”, lies she has never thought to challenge; “God”, a thing made in her own image that condemns what she cannot understand. Her “love” is an abomination, because she exalts her false ideal and it prevents her from seeing me as I am. She “loves” something which does not exist, and that would justify torturing me into trying to fit it. I know. I have tortured myself in that way, victim of that “love”.

One answer is the “Third way” between accepting and unaccepting churches: shut up about it. This link makes it a straw man. The third way recognises that sinners come to church, and believes that people die still sinning- too weak, or too blind, to overcome all their faults and be perfect. As we welcome people despite less than perfect truthfulness, so we accept gay couples. Each Christian seeks to become better, and in the Love of God is justified, sanctified, glorified- just, leaving their partner is not the first thing we demand they do, for that makes us their judges, and makes gay sex a worse sin than anything else distancing people from God. Each of us must choose which part of us we can improve, right now, with God’s help.

But that would take away much of the scaffolding she relies on to see herself as a good person- “Pro-life”, even after birth; “Pro-family”. It is too much for her. If only we could emphasise what we agree on!

TItian, Sacred and Profane Love

When words end

There is a time when words stop being useful.

Quakers have made a decision which I consider a bad one. Of course they have a multitude of words to explain why it is a Good Decision.

(Am I just too emotional? Would an emotive word explain things better? It feels to me like “We can do what we like” rather than “This is God’s Loving Purposes”.)

I feel wretched at the moment. It could be any number of things. One possibility is a number of stories recently- Oh! Your son graduated so well, and such a good first job! You must be so proud! Which leads me to think of my own stories- “I transitioned and my sister refused to allow me to see her children, and my father’s new wife banned me from their house when she was there”- I love telling stories, and so many are “Let me share some misery from the ghastly life of Abigail”. It could just be lack of sleep. It could be that- and I remind myself that that gives me so many wonderful moments, and an experience I particularly need at this time in my life, that I am willing to live the pain of it.

I felt, last night, I was resisting experience. That was my response, to resist, and I do so less, and my affirmation calls me “Radiantly open”. That must have come from Menis, though perhaps it was in my own mind-

open, closed, judging and second-guessing myself, using words

so I name my conduct as “resisting” in order to resist it

That man was a fucking psychopath!

(perhaps more on this later)

Coffee this morning with S. A good chat.

I normally have posts in reserve, and I normally post at midnight, and I have no posts in reserve and am writing after 11pm.

I try to communicate here, I try to make sense, because if I act in Love words may still explain my action, as well as expressing Love- yet love comes first and words can get in the way- understandings rather than Understanding. I don’t know whether I can tell you about last night. That man was, indeed, a fucking psychopath. Those women were wonderful and talented- Ooh, X writes for the Guardian and has two shows in Edinburgh next month- what do you do? Oh, nothing, I’m on the sick-

No, really really wonderful, and-

shame and misery

and, you know, Rad-fem- careful courtesy with the trans, or perhaps it is my fear not related to

We got a taxi to St Pancras, and K paid for it, though I got my purse out, waved it about a little and made noises about contributing. I would actually like to contribute, I say, as one of my patterns is stinginess and I seek to cover it with generosity.

Words, words- What is needed is






You know when they are there.

Titian, the burial of Christ

God, it’s weird. Here am I now on this mood, and this afternoon I was in the park in the sun musing/meditating on

I am beautiful
in my mistakes, in my misunderstandings, in my stubborn wrongness,
I am beautiful
because I always do my best
just like everybody
I am beautiful
in my physical weakness, any injuries, those deepening lines on my cheeks though S, aged 80, has none, in that troublesome tendon
because I am human/enough/something


National Gallery, Edinburgh

Dad needed a wee sit down, and where better than facing these three?

Diana and Actaeon

First, Diana and Actaeon. The Goddess and her entourage are bathing, when a hunter stumbles upon them. Ovid recounts how she turned him into a stag, so that his hounds tore him to pieces. Ovid probably also answers my question- was it worth it?

Diana and Callisto

Then Diana and Callisto. Jupiter seduced Diana’s nymph Callisto, and here her pregnancy is revealed. Juno, taking it out on the wronged woman rather than her husband, turned her into a bear, and Jupiter placed her in the sky.

In between is a copy by Poussin of The Feast of the Gods, which I cannot find on line, so here is the Bellini and Titian version:

File:Giovanni-Bellini Istenek Ăśnnepe (1514).jpg

I am particularly interested in Cybele, because her priestesses were women sharing my idiosyncrasy.

Onwards, for The Kiss, on loan from the Tate. Francesca da Rimini, who later met Dante in the outer circle of Hell, kisses her lover.

This is just at the beginning. I note how her pelvis is turned away from him, but her legs dandle over his. The detail I notice is his left hand: rather than being on her skin, it is relaxed, and rests on the rock on which they sit.

They are taking it slowly. They have all the time in the world. For them, it was worth it.

File:Le Baiser (musée Rodin) (4921057897).jpg