Torture

Anyone who watches thrillers sees a lot of torture scenes, on film or TV. This is a good thing, enabling writers to examine characters under duress, and real confrontations in a fantasy setting. I don’t watch the kind of drama where it is merely for shock value. My first was in Genesis of the Daleks, when I was eight. It is played straight: the Doctor is interrogated, while his companions are strapped to a machine which induces pain. Shortly after I saw my first satirised torture scene, the Vogon poetry reading.

People confront each other in real life all the time. Sometimes, one desires to crush the other- sometimes they succeed. You can be in a position where backing off or running away is impossible. Instruments of torture make the cruelty and destructiveness explicit, and often there is a consoling ending: the character tortured recovers. The torture scene enables us to contemplate such encounters at a safe distance, before we meet them in real life.

In Casino Royale (2006), James Bond is whipped in the testicles. He responds by acting as if the pain is some benefit. This is a useful technique with pain, to see good coming of it, which makes epilation easier. And the Hero, as always, refuses to back down or give up, though his situation appears hopeless- I love such stories, of human beings overcoming all odds, they are reassuring. My radical feminist friend loathes men’s action movies, where the Hero is in a series of unlikely situations, achieving his goals by shooting or beating up a series of mooks, getting away when the chasers crash and burn, etc. Well, they can be samey, they have a small repertoire of scenes, but there can be humour and creativity in the execution, just as Burns did so much with Standard Habbie.

Maybe I do watch for shock value.

In The Transporter TV series, there is a woman who threatens to remove fingers with secateurs, smiling delightedly as if she loves the game of it. The amputations happen off screen, but the fantasy element of it- I giggle nervously, and say “Ooh! Gross!“- is a way of distancing the viewer from the situation, enabling us to approach destructive confrontation. It is like a lurid, brightly coloured cartoon, showing a real facial expression.

In Versailles, M. Marchal usually kills his victims. He is the quiet, imperturbable policeman, getting on with the job, doing what he needs to do to preserve his master’s rule. I loved defiance in some, and the abject terror of the Chevalier de Lorraine, who was not chastened after, at all. People, confronting an irresistible force, not backing down.

In Cardinal, there is some exploration as to why the torturer might want to torture another. Why does he induct his apprentice? He says, because once she has done this no-one will be able to oppress her. He enjoys the teacher’s role, getting her to stand in the middle of the road with her arms out and legs spread. Make yourself as big as possible. His teaching works- she graduates to cutting off a finger with secateurs. Cardinal is full of people whose jobs do not use their talents- the torturer is just one such. Some resent it and act up, in self-destructive ways; Cardinal himself, the detective, just gets on with the job.

I was sitting in the yard when a kite flew overhead, and I saw its action silhouetted against the sun. A haiku:

Red kite nibbles at
the morsel in its talons
adjusts tail, flies on

A song

Birds gotta swim, and fish gotta fly
I’ve gotta be the same girl till I die
Can’t stop bein’ that gal o’ mine

Tho’ I weep, and storm, and rage, and cry
Try to deny- Oh how I try I
Can’t stop being that girl of mine

It cannot be true, it must be a lie
Awake all night, I ask myself why I
Can’t stop being that girl of mine

Then become calm, give up with a sigh
Under the fake, it is the real I
that can’t help bein that gal o mine

Written while considering transition

Not worthless

Night. Hours pass. Awake, and awake, and awake.

The strangest thing in my psyche, which I thought was insane, which I tried to correct, which still affected me, is how I see myself- at once, the centre of the universe and completely worthless. Of utmost importance and none. So I thought, I am a human being- fearfully and wonderfully made, yet one in seven billion- which is the rational position between these extremes, but the extremes still affect me. And I feel that being Worthless, and patiently learning to value myself, is the way to escape the extremes, as being the centre of the universe is merely a panicky, angry reaction to the feelings of worthlessness, which gets me nowhere.

I have a right to exist. I go back to imagining early childhood, not feeling welcomed or accepted. Imagining that I did not feel welcomed, whatever, how could I know, inner critic says I could not know, I assert it anyway. I learn that I have no right to exist except for what I can achieve, and feel resentment and anger. I revolt against that, to

I am the centre of the Universe

Yet from the very beginning that did not work. It is a defensive arrogance which I saw through, which had no effect on others. My minimum assertion is,

I have a right to exist

and that becomes important for me, for my survival, for my self-acceptance, for being worthless is intolerable for me. But I have to prove it- I have a right for what I can achieve. How could I demonstrate that I have a right to exist?

I am a good person

A good person has a right to exist. The problem then is that I have to define what a good person is, and prove that I am one. I continually fail- I thought, I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a good person. Proving my goodness to my own satisfaction becomes more important to me than any external goal.

I want reassurance. It will be alright, won’t it? I want that from another. My fear became unbearable, so I suppressed it, and now I work to calm my own fear.

No justification for myself is necessary, and none is possible. I am a human being. This kind of reassurance is not possible. “It will be alright” means only “I care about you and I want you reassured in this moment”- I don’t know, you don’t know it will be alright. In fact it won’t. I will die. I may age into infirmity and confusion. Seeking the justification- I have a right to exist, I am a good person- gets in my way, prevents me from achieving what I might want to achieve, diverts my energies.

Anyway, after boredly playing all sorts of programmes on the BBC Iplayer, I noted down this, which is half way between poem and hurried note, which I want to preserve:

I have a right to exist-
battered down, not accepted.
I have no right to exist, only for what I can do, be achieve
Resentment, anger, revolt
I am the centre of the universe
and nothing, and misery
and seeing this is not true, does not work,
I am not that. Yet
I have a right to exist!
A slight reassurance, a questioning- it will be alright, won’t it? I might
go out into the world. Then
I have no right to exist,
and yet, I do

Shedding the justifications
They justify, reassure, give me knowledge that I have a right to exist
I am a good person
and then I become dependent on them
Continually needing to prove them true
they become masters not servants
and I am terrified they are not true
No justification is necessary.
I will not survive
I will stop existing when I stop,
and till then exist.

I may dance, and refrain from dancing

girl-on-the-beach-pierre-puvis-de-chavannes

I am this person

It is not that I like being humiliated,
but that what I like humiliates me.

I am this person.
I am this person.
I have done what I have done.
I have believed what I believed
and do not now believe.
I believe what I believe.
I do what I do.
I am this person.
I want what I want.
I am who I am.

Humiliation and shame and denial and judgment
Such judgment! Cruel, harsh, unsparing judgment
which judges me for being unable to bear it.

I have done the best I can,
which I resent, which horrifies me
because it seems so little.
It is as it is.

I like myself.
I am kind, soft, gentle, peaceful
and that pleases me.
I have done all I can,
understood as best I could
admitted and accepted as much as I could,
protected myself as well as I could.

I am where I am, and wish I was not.
I am this person,
where this person is,
having everything this person has.

This is a direct answer to TS Eliot, East Coker III:

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

“The darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing” has deeply moved me.

And this “Keep Britain in the European Union” meme:

blame-a-foreigner

I commented, I have indeed totally failed at life. Some people say it is not entirely my fault. However, I voted remain, and am fairly liberal in my ideas about refugees and immigration. It is a gross generalisation to think of Leave voters as non-metropolitan losers- some of us voted remain. Because I have totally failed at life, I really dislike this meme, and possibly it is not the best way to win over Leave voters either.

Someone replied, I did chuckle at the meme but take your point, made with such humility, in the same spirit[…] someone who can take responsibility for her own life’s path is in some sense more successful than most. If anything, I fear that you may be taking the self-blame too far, and hope that you do so in part for rhetorical purposes…

Perhaps I have achieved what I most wanted to achieve.

Annunciations

Mary was a woman
born on this Earth
conceived by human beings
and Assumptioned by herself
When fornicators, outcast, died
the fornicating child
ceases to deny the signs
admits the truth and cries,

All generations will call me blessed

There is an angel
there is an angel
there is an angel
the angel is you

So when you’re sick and tired of defending your heart
when your wretched life seems cursed from the start
the night is too bright yet you’re scared of the dark
the next step’s too far you feel fucked, irked and narked cry

All generations will call me Blessed

There is an angel
There is an angel
There is an angel
the angel is
you

It’s a song. I did the tune, but someone else did the chords and I don’t know one, in particular, which he picked which was better than the one I could find.

It is a pain to write a poem and find someone painted it five hundred years earlier.

antonello-da-messina-annunciata

Annunciations usually have Gabriel decending in power and glory, but here we only see Mary. Suddenly, she gets it.

 

The Christian Legal Centre

Attempting to gain publicity, the Christian Legal Centre have rushed out a press release just after the story of J broke. After a boy was forced to live as a girl until rescued by the legal system, they are supporting parents to force a boy to live as a girl. Christian family fear gender-confused daughter will be taken away unless they bow to social workers’ name change demands they trumpet.

Powys county council puts this in non-legal language: professionals are very worried that your child is not being looked after properly and he/she is at risk. There has to be “significant harm” from the parents’ lack of care. This is not some trendy social worker enforcing gender orthodoxy against Christian common sense, as CLC would have you believe.

Even the CLC press release indicates that harm. Until he was 13, the child “Gary” was home-schooled with his siblings. He started to self-harm. He ran away. Child mental health services told the parents that unless they allowed his name change, their [son] would be at risk of suicide. That’s a quote from the press release. CLC’s blind self-righteousness damns themselves.

The family now face a meeting with social workers in November, in which it is indicated and believed that the social worker will be pushing for Bethany to be allowed to use the name Gary in school and the family will be pressured into allowing her to receive ‘therapy’ from the Tavistock Institute in Leeds for its ‘Gender Identity Development Service’. Aged 14, Gary is too late for puberty blockers, and too young for T injections. Therapy will be talking therapy. There will be diagnosis. Is the child trans? He might start to wear a binder.

Forcing an agenda

That’s their heading. They really don’t see. They want the parents to be able to control a teenager. The child will only be this intransigent when denied age-appropriate levels of self-determination. Until we leave our parents, we negotiate ways of living together. Only where a child is far too controlled in every aspect of life would she insist on self-determination in this way, against her own gender identity.

The thing which makes me pause is that Gary is in a relationship with a girl. His “Christian” parents would oppose the child being lesbian as much as being trans. It is just possible that the child thinks

Girl with girl relationships are not OK
therefore I am a boy.

Or, that given that the parents hate lesbians, s/he insists s/he is a boy as an act of pure rebellion. Any LGBT child will be confused, disorientated and damaged by such a “Christian” upbringing. May God show the parents, and CLC, the error of their ways! However, the Tavistock centre are the professional experts able to discern this. Children like Bethany need psychiatric help, shrieked Andrea Williams, CLC chief executive, yet she opposes the CAMHS advice and referral to Tavistock.

It is very unfortunate that the social worker appears to have jumped to the conclusion that Bethany is transgender without even waiting for a formal diagnosis from the psychiatrist, Williams continued. Well, all that the child can achieve now is a completely harmless name change. If they is not trans, presenting as male will be uncomfortable. The self-harm and running away indicates “significant harm” to the child, which arises from the parents’ dogmatism.

The Daily Mail has quoted extensively from the press release, without criticism. Here’s the press release.

Oh, enough of this! Inspired by this New Yorker article informing me that people say “No, totally” to mean “yes”, I have been writing doggerel again.

So let us praise, with verve and vim
this holophrastic contranym
Though no means yes, we’re not confused
No, totally, we’re disabused
Can yes mean no? Of course it can!
to sarcastic contrarian.

Here’s my Donald Trump verse- note the internal rhymes!!- to a Chuck Berry tune:

Mr Pence and Mr Trump
get ye hence. I’ve got the hump
Mr Trump and Mr Pence
I’d like to thump you, you’re so dense.

Michael P and Donald T
After that come “S” then “D”.
Governor and bankrupt man
They don’t really have a plan.

Donald has some business tips
Grab their pussy, kiss their lips
Speaker Ryan’s naught to say
wishes Trump would go away.

Donny’s polls are down the hole
so he claims the elections’ stole
Now he tweets a dismal wail:
“Hillary should be in jail”.

Debating Donny’s on the prowl
Lip is wrinkled, mood is foul
As she speaks, behind he looms
His campaign he totally dooms………

Advances

He came in from the rain. He stood before me, and his hand appeared a few inches from my face. “Kiss the rain,” he said. I stared at the hand until it disappeared.

This seems like a feminine way of dealing with it. I do not make a fuss, but I do not respond, and the man gives up. And-

I have been completely ashamed of myself. I sent a text, making an unwanted advance. I have also cursed my own judgment- for it seemed like a good idea at the time, and yet in hindsight I see that I should have known her better, that it took no account of her feelings or her likely response. I thought not being drunk was a sufficient defence against idiocy:

Most people get drunk
before texting like this- but
I wanted to word it well

Not being drunk
did not stop it being ill-advised.
I saw that, after

I do not know what I expected.
I hardly know what I wanted.
We do these things

In flailing desperation.
You would not even let me down gently.

Indeed she would not. Letting me down gently, not making a fuss, is the feminine response, but she has had her consciousness raised. All I considered was my own desires.

She warned me. I texted again; but then thought, Can I get anything out of this? I might have gone on if I thought she would be “feminine” and let me down gently. No chance of that so I backed off. And, after, I have been kicking myself. Why the fk did I do that? I cannot trust my judgment or my responses. I have been completely miserable with it.

And I feel completely alone and unloveable. I see no possible improvement in my situation. I have to deal with that feeling myself. After backing off, I have gone back to thinking obsessively of her, and have to deal with that too- it will go away in time.

A woman posted on fb about being followed home by a younger man. She crossed the road to check she was not imagining it, and he crossed following her. When he caught her up she screamed until he went away. My action was different in degree and not in kind. Do you harass women? Perhaps you do not realise it? I love about this sketch that, though he does silly things and is covered in sick, the man sees himself as reasonable:

Transferable skills

Of course I could be an engineer.
I write poetry!
It involves putting things together, with precise rules,
to create something beautiful.

Of course I could be a lawyer.
I write poetry!
It involves the use of words to convey precise meaning
or sometimes, obscure it.

Of course I could be a teacher.
I write poetry!
My control is perfect
and appears effortless.

Of course I could be a doctor.
I write poetry!
I know everything
and provide comfort.

Of course I could be God.
I write poetry!
Here is the peace that passeth all understanding.
Here, ye may find rest for your souls.

reality

I am being broken open
and it feels like being smashed
I am facing reality
and it feels like something that could eat me
this is why I have run away
this is why I have run away
and I must turn

we must love, or die

I have said, recently, I am a man
I am a man with a settled conviction, that I want to use a feminine name, wear feminine clothes, present female, express myself female
the only thing that makes me female is my bare assertion of it
and the fact that the British state says, “Oh, OK then”

it is gender identity

it is reality
it is reality in my own head
the heart has reasons which reason does not know
I am real
respect reality

Half-hearted affirmations

I am Abigail, which isn’t a bad thing-
I am Abigail, and that is sort-of all right.
I am Abigail, which is better than the alternative
I am Abigail, and just sometimes I do something worthwhile-
not a big thing, and only just worthwhile, but still.
I am Abigail. Sometimes, I have decorative value

I am Abigail. I am not getting up, but I am still twitching.
I am Abigail. Not everyone despises me.
I am Abigail. I didn’t kill myself.
I am Abigail. I am OK, for the moment-

I am Abigail. I met someone’s eyes, yesterday.
I am Abigail. I made her laugh.
I am Abigail. We understood something together.
I am Abigail. She said something affirming of me,
and I might just be able to hear it-

It is raining, but I am dry.
It is cold, but I have a blanket.
It is confusing, but there may be peace in me
if only I could accept the confusion-

The darkness is not yet the light.
The stillness is not yet the dancing.
But I am not denying reality quite as much as I used to,
on the whole, some of the time,
and though I cling to it very hard
God, circumstances and wise friends
might yet prise my burden from me

John Lavery, the Green Sofa, detail, featured