kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
I have just finished this series, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, and goodness but it does a lot of things with change and motion and theology that speak to me on a very deep level.

I find it very difficult to believe in the writing style -- I... have yet to knowingly meet a teenage girl who writes like that in her diary, okay -- but provided I ignore the conceit of diaries (and my exasperation with implausible world-building -- if food's so hard to come by where in hell are they getting enough cotton to make new jeans from) I am incredibly invested, and I want more, because of course I do, and perhaps I'm going to go and find a bunch of fic (I feel a little ashamed that the fic I want in the first instance is fix-it fic, as though that somehow erodes or elides nuance and complexity; in fact, as we perfectly well know your blue-eyed boys [MCU] is fix-it fic and in no way overlooks struggle and sacrifice and heartbreak).

And it is also sociologically fascinating to have read these books for the first time now, in 2017, when they were written in the 1990s and set in a near-future 2020s-2030s dystopia, in the context of current US politics and racism. Mild spoilers? )

Recommended, I think, but with the caveat that it has every single content note, to first approximation. If you'd like more details, please ask.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[Content notes: living with trauma, basically]

A thread that keeps coming up in speculative fiction I'm reading at the moment (which is probably more indicative of what I'm seeking out than any publishing trends?) is the necessity for artificial intelligences to have emotions, in order to facilitate making arbitrary choices (the Imperial Radch; the Wayfarers; ...). Logic alone isn't adequate for a complex responsive intelligence: they'd stall out agonising over minutiae.

I've also been having a fair few (they say, wryly) conversations around emotional reactions and responses to contexts and events. I've known for a long time that going "okay, but that's not what's going on, here's a coherent model for my actions and behaviour and motivations that demonstrates that the thing you're scared of isn't actually happening" doesn't actually seem to have as much effect on most people's decision-making and behaviour as I'd (naively) expect. And then yesterday my interlocutor said: doesn't impact how I feel about the thing ;-) just what I logically conclude

... and -- oh. oh. Between the BPD or c-PTSD or whatever and the depression, I've in fact had to spend a lot of time working on... precisely that, right? I have to spend a lot of time and energy directing myself away from reacting based on compelling emotional "truths" and toward responding based on logical frameworks. I don't have to act as though people I'm close to want me to vanish absolutely from their lives unless they directly tell me that in fact they have changed their mind and they do*. For me, having a logical framework that contradicts my emotional understanding of the world doesn't stop me having feelings. It just -- informs what I do with them? I can free up a lot of processing power because I stop "having to" worry about how accurate they are, how much I should be taking them into account, whether I should be acting based on them. The solution to the feelings then becomes self-validation ("wow yep feeling like this is pretty rubbish, have some hot chocolate and do some stretches"), rather than their being an additional constraint I have to try to solve for, that's usually mutually exclusive with what other people are actually telling me they want.

"This information changes what I logically conclude about the situation" seems to be pretty powerful for me in a way that, as far as I can tell, it perhaps isn't for many folk? And I'm just... amused by having fitted together a model for why "no, that's not what's happening" doesn't do what I expect, that is superficially such a contradiction to the fiction.

I think it isn't, of course: this is how emotion interacts with making big decisions, not trivial ones. I'm simultaneously (still) exploring the potential of having unjustified or arbitrary preferences, particularly in the context of modern art. Just: goodness, but the inherently contradictory nature of existing. Think, two things on their own and both at once.

* Yes, we're aware that puts them in potentially awkward positions, but we've negotiated this very carefully in specific instances where I get the strongest compulsions to Just Vanish.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I have very clear memories of my ten-year-old self being immensely, deeply unimpressed by Rothko and Mondrian. I was very angry about why this constituted "art"; my definition of art explicitly excluded square canvases painted a single colour.

My ten-year-old self is gently unimpressed every time I stop dead in front of a six-foot-square matte black canvas in an art gallery, wonderstruck, and go "hmm, yes, isn't it fascinating what's being done here, isn't this good."

I am nursing a theory that the main differences between me-then and me-now are:
  1. I'm no longer in a situation where my autism is actively decried, and have internalised that it's okay for particular colours or shapes to make me happy, just because, and (as a superset, really)
  2. I've started believing that it's okay for me to have and experience emotions full stop (and am sufficiently well medicated that I can and do).

Which means that, over the past few years, I've stopped interpreting modern and especially abstract art as, fundamentally, threats: I've stopped responding automatically with defensive suspicion and fury to forms of art that (crudely!) exist to make me feel things.

There is nuance to this, of course. Seeing the Barbara Hepworth exhibit at the Tate Britain, the (possible? probable?) reasons for my emotional response clicked into place when I read that a lot of her more abstract work was in response to or in dialogue with her feelings of being cradled by landscape, and particularly by the Lake District and by Cornwall; all of a sudden it was obvious to me that the sense of home-and-safety-and-familiarity I get off those sculptures is, in fact, the same sense of awe and belonging and recognition I get staring out to sea or feeling dwarfed on valley floors or what-have-you.

That was followed up by another visit to the Tate Britain, one day I wound up in the right area of London with some time to kill, where what I'd intended to do was poke my nose into some of the public galleries. I saw War Damaged Musical Instruments advertised on the website and ignored it -- and then stopped dead in the middle of the hall it occupied, the moment I got there, and spent twenty minutes sat there crying.


One of the things I've been gently sad about for quite a long time is that I'm a classically-trained musician who is mostly very, very bad at listening to classical music unless it's something I've played or am preparing to play, such that I'm listening as a technical study. (I think I've talked before about mostly relating to music as either a technical study or a vehicle for lyrics, but if not I can give it a go.) I'm starting to think it might be time to have another go.
kaberett: curled decorative end of curtain rail casts a heart-shaped shadow on a wall (heartfruit)
One of the things I've been half-heartedly (ha) sorting through in the spin-off from The Emotional Labour Thread is the cultural construct of the Other Half. The primacy of the nuclear family in my current cultural context -- which as we know is a relatively recent and decidedly unusual invention -- shores up a system in which maintaining a full-time job and a social life is a massive undertaking:
Yes, life would be easier if I had someone who is always a few yards (or less) away from me when we're not at work and who can provide romance, friendship, emotional support, entertainment, household help, financial assistance, AND hot sex (and maybe eventually co-parenting) without me ever needing to seek out other people or even leave the house. But that's... horrifying.

And it is horrifying, but -- or and? -- humans aren't set up to work solo. We're not good at it: we're social mammals, and we need touch and engagement and interaction to survive.

When I'm living with someone we frequently end up joking that between the two of us, we just about add up to one competent adult -- in terms of executive function, and ability to do chores and care and so on. To some extent this is presumably an artefact of the unavoidable fact that I'm significantly disabled and prone to selecting people-I'll-spend-a-lot-of-time-with for criteria (like "not being shitty about disability") that have substantial overlap with "likely to also experience executive dysfunction" -- but even so and even still, the fact that we end up phrasing it that way makes me look at the concept of An Other Half and go "... huh."

Because when the assumption is that by default you're going to relationship escalate your way up to living with one other adult human, and that anything else is evidence of immaturity or failure or a shocking lack of moral rectitude, despite the fact that we by-and-large work best as interdependent networks with a range of specialisms... well, no wonder we end up feeling inadequate and incomplete, and no wonder that we cling so tight to anyone with a suitably complementary skill set to our own. The problem, as far as I can tell, isn't actually us: it's that we're measuring ourselves against unattainable ideals and finding ourselves wanting.

I don't think it's any surprise that in this frame breaking up turns into The Worst Thing In The World [cached version, because Pervocracy currently appears to be down].
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
As We Know, there are a lot of respects in which I am entirely comfortable talking frankly and publicly about bodies and disease and the effects thereof.

There are also a small number of minor ailments and afflications that I'm fine discussing in the context of other people but I really don't talk about their relevance to me, because it turns out that I've managed to internalise cultural memes that say that they're things to be embarrassed and ashamed about. Not things that other people should be embarrassed and ashamed about, of course -- just me. Thinking about this last night, it occurred to me that the "problem", such as it is, might be that for the big things that are Wrong With Me my body is so far beyond what is Normal and Appropriate and so on that I just don't think those rules apply any more, and so I can ignore them and be kind to myself and to my body, which is, after all, doing the best it can. I don't think any of the big things -- the endometriosis, the connective tissue disorders, the migraines, the wonky brain chemistry -- are its fault. It is trying its best; we'll manage.

Whereas with things slightly closer to the parameters of "normal", slightly closer to "minor ways in which normal bodies go slightly wrong and get treated with faint societal disgust", I end up feeling profoundly betrayed and miserable and unable to cope, and consequently trying as hard as possible to ignore my body, which of course doesn't help anything -- so having said all this, I'm now going to actually talk about them briefly.

Read more... )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
More Than Two on poly and the prisoner's dilemma. I find it reassuring, which of course means that my immediate reaction is to declare that I'm exhibiting confirmation bias and should look at it harder to work out why it's wrong (and also I've got a vague sense that I've seen substantive criticism of MTT that I ought to be taking into acount?), but -- right, okay, models for interaction to think about.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Last night I was feeling vaguely guilty for the part where I was sitting around knitting and reading short stories after dinner, while A tidied gently and handled some paperwork he needed to get done.

Today Why time is a feminist issue came across my dash again:
What I didn't know at the time was that this is what time is like for most women: fragmented, interrupted by child care and housework. Whatever leisure time they have is often devoted to what others want to do – particularly the kids – and making sure everyone else is happy doing it. Often women are so preoccupied by all the other stuff that needs doing – worrying about the carpool, whether there's anything in the fridge to cook for dinner – that the time itself is what sociologists call "contaminated."

I came to learn that women have never had a history or culture of leisure. (Unless you were a nun, one researcher later told me.) That from the dawn of humanity, high status men, removed from the drudge work of life, have enjoyed long, uninterrupted hours of leisure. And in that time, they created art, philosophy, literature, they made scientific discoveries and sank into what psychologists call the peak human experience of flow.

Women aren't expected to flow.


Which was a useful coincidence.

(I'd done and hung out the laundry, and put the previous round away. I'd gone out and bought groceries. I'd planned and made dinner and dessert; I served up as he walked in the door from work. We'd been trading executive function and social mammal reinforcement all day. And I still felt like I didn't ought to sit around knitting for an hour, especially not if he was doing housework, because I should be helping, because of course I did, because the patriarchy. It is, I find, very helpful to end up in situations where this discomfort arises, the what-should-I-be-doing-to-help, and the answer's nothing, keep on with what you're doing, I've got this.)
kaberett: Photo of a cassowary with head tilted to one side (cassowary)
It is an article entitled Rey is not a role model for little girls. By a man. (That turns out to contain oblivious cissexism too, hurrah.)

The first sentence is I hate to break it to you, but Rey is not a role model for little girls.

Read more... )
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
It's a facsimile copy of Nairn's London, bought from the Graun bookshop because of course, and the blurb is
'A record of what has moved me between Uxbridge and Dagenham', Nairn's London is an idiosyncratic and intensely subjective meditation on a city and its buildings. Including railway stations, synagogues, abandoned gasworks, dock cranes, suburban gardens, East End markets, Hawksmoor churches, a Gothic cinema and twenty-seven different pubs, it is a portrait of the soul of a place, from a writer of genius.


The Graun review features the line It is a wonder in itself. Compact – 280 pages with index – and yet enormous in scope, it is a detailed vision of a city, and what a city should be like, that has never been bettered.

They've met me three times.
kaberett: A green origami stegosaurus (origami stegosaurus)
Caffeine: still, as it turns out, a bad idea. Probably. (Semi-accidentally had caffeine yesterday evening; was up ridiculously late in quiet tears about largely-disconnected-from-reality anxieties.)

I have just received an unambiguously helpful response from the Yellow Card folk, on two counts: first, they've added Mx as a title and updated my report to use it; and second, they've asked me for some more details and have passed on my specific query ("can you look into whether this side effect is associated with weird lung shit to do with connective tissue disorders as well as COPD, because that was an unpleasant surprise") to the scientific assessment team, who will apparently be getting in touch with me sometime in the next fortnight. So: huh.

Rivers of London: really enjoyed book one, was seriously hacked off with the gratuitous cissexism in book two, am still mildly grumpy halfway through book three -- but I am still reading, so.

Here is an essay: On Conflicting Emotional Needs In Relationships.

Here is a recipe I haven't yet tried: mulled wine plum crumble.
kaberett: Reflections of a bare tree in river ice in Stockholm somehow end up clad in light. (tree-of-light)
A concept I've been playing with over the past few days runs a little like this: you are the protagonist of your own story.

What's your character development?

-- simultaneously and consequently, I've been thinking harder about what constitutes character development. Where I am at the moment is at trying to tease out the difference between how one thinks and what one thinks; I suspect I would more reliably consider changes in or to the former character development than the latter.

(So what's my character development? Thought branches down two paths: the first, of internalities versus externalities, and legibility in each; the second, that an awful lot of CBT is aimed at facilitating what I've here described as character development, and the most obvious example in myself to me is, well, nobody has to be wrong, and the associated reduction in splitting.)
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
(or, Alex reinvents entire subfields of psychology in an extremely half-arsed fashion, Part N in an ongoing &c)

Read more... )
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
(details on fb, possibly to be copied here if y'all are interested, in tl;dr trigger warnings suicide, domestic violence, abuse, coercion, enabling of all of the above, plus bonus sexual harrassment.)

-- but I am on a BUS to OXFORD where I will be fed and looked after, and there are half-hourly buses from London to Oxford at this time of night so it's easy to decide I'm showing up very early in the morning as opposed to reasonably early in the morning, and I've got a pair of seats to myself, and I'm making progress on the introductions meme--

-- and what I'm actually pondering, again, is how astonished I am by the concept of intensity, by myself as intense. I've spent so much time depressed, so much time with anhedonia, with everything muted and grey (i am out here studying stones/trying to learn to be less alive/using all of my will/to hold very still/still even on the inside) that I'm startled every time I realise that pretty much every single person who has met me since I started anti-depressants does think of me that way, saturated colours and vibrancy and fierceness without viciousness, or at least without viciousness as a necessary component. Seeing myself through your eyes is a gift; on nights like this knowing that it is a truth of my existence helps me settle, reminds me what I want to be and that I can do it, reminds me that I am capable. Thank you.
kaberett: A cartoon of wall art, featuring a banner reading "NO GLORY SAVE HONOR". (no glory save honour)
Gifts are given; offerings are made or, well, offered. The latter is availability with no expectation whatsoever; the former implicitly requires acceptance, to a greater or lesser extent. I have been playing over the past few weeks with this distinction as applied to human interaction.
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
Defining my terms at the top of the page. )
The part where I wryly tell anecdotes so you can gauge your interest in reading several thousand words on the topic
I've been talking intermittently over the last little while about shit like theology as repository of psychosocial extelligence (e.g.). Thursday lunchtime I realised with some dismay that I needed a purification ritual and I needed one fast and all of this is stuff I'm cobbling together as I go along, but I ended up with: sorting out my hair; showering even though it was hard; scrubbing my face and hands with some of the nice salt we keep in; moisturising with the E45 that I stuck a couple of bay leaves in lo these many years ago; eating half a teaspoon of honey from a friend's parents' hives; and then I spent the journey over to the tattoo shop meditating, and now I have symbology etched on me, and it is good -- but I have also realised that I've been doing most of my talking about this stuff via chatting with people one-on-one and I might perhaps benefit from going into a bit more detail, a little more formally.

So. )
kaberett: A photograph of a dark-grey train with white cogs painted on the side, with a bit of station roof visible above. (trains)
Periodically I will have a lot of FEELINGS about something at someone, and will get to the end of the feelingsdump, and say, somewhat sheepishly, "... I HAD A LOT OF FEELINGS sorry".

Facesfriend is in the habit of responding - rather drily - "gosh, how unlike you."

This exchange happened earlier today. (In this instance the topic was Explaining The Manics to him; over the past couple of weeks topics I have Had A Lot Of Feelings About include comparative bus etiquette, the second world war, the Green Party boyband video, the RNLI, space robots, etc.) And it finally twigged that no, actually, I do think of it as Unlike Me and something sufficiently out of the ordinary to be apologised for, and this is probably because I spent at least ages 13 to 21 with untreated severe depression, and one of the symptoms of my depression is generally anhedonia, and I just... am not even a tiny bit used to being able to experience intense positive emotion at the drop of a hat. It's strange and unsettling and I don't know what to do with it.

It's very disconcerting to learn that's not how others perceive me, these days. Internalities and externalities.

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kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
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