kaberett: A cartoon of wall art, featuring a banner reading "NO GLORY SAVE HONOR". (no glory save honour)
Content notes: consent-adjacent discussion (in a general context).

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kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
A few years back, CN Lester gave a talk at the University of Oxford on trans histories,[0] containing the first reading from their excellent book Trans Like Me.[1][2]

During that talk, as you'll see if you watch it, they demonstrated the technique of assuming good faith almost ad absurdum -- well past the point at which any reasonable person might conclude that their interlocutor was hostile or indeed malicious, they maintain openness and curiosity and inquiry.

Since then I have taken a number of Very Deep Calming Breaths and done a bunch more learning about effective ways to engage in Debate should one wish, out of a sense of pragmatism, to Change Hearts And Minds, and this is one of the best tools I have.

I dither, still, over whether I'm comfortable describing something I'm consciously weaponising as "good faith"; over whether it still counts as "engaging in good faith" if I'm really very sure that the other party is in fact prejudiced, or bigoted, or wrong; if in fact the "show of good faith" is not about being open to having my mind changed, but about it being the most effective way to change theirs. Over and over I'm coming down on the side of "yes, more or less", because if nothing else I'm keeping hold of the idea that people might, that people can, change; that people are not condemned to be for ever their worst selves. I dither, but this is where I land.

And sometimes, just occasionally, the result is incremental change. At the moment -- in a general climate of the most 2018 thing I've heard in at least a week or so -- incremental change is what I'm hanging onto. So: here we are.

[0] Content notes for the introductory speech containing misgendering (emphatically corrected by the audience), trans history including 1930s Berlin, and cis audience members asking... questions.

[1] Interestingly reviewed by DRMaciver and subsequently referenced in a discussion of queer life as combat epistemology; relatedly, I've set up [syndicated profile] drmaciver_feed.

[2] I recently saw an analogy for gendered experience of self and proprioceptive sense of body that was new to me but which feels very compelling: how do you know if you're left- or right-handed? What happens when you try to use the "wrong" hand?
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
My immediate reaction to Captain Awkward #1141 was "-- SWEETHEART do I EVER have some advice for you --"

... and I'd already composed half a reply in my head, and then got to the bottom and found comments were, entirely understandably, turned off.

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kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
A model of social interaction I am chewing over: the trade-off between the background assumption that "well, you're a right-thinking person and we agree on a lot so clearly you'll want what I want" and explicitly-negotiated compromise.

Humans are good at pattern-matching, and we're social animals, and we're prone to forming in-groups based on shared characteristics, and it is actually useful to be able to shorthand shared desire (from "pizza for dinner" to "political whatever", because I am very aware that social situations where "I'd rather not have pizza for dinner" cause major friction and insult are not Unheard Of).

It occurs to me, then, that a lot of the ways in which social interactions have blown up in my face might be usefully modelled as a mismatch of expectations as to how the balance gets struck.

From my perspective, I have a long-term relationship with someone wherein for some time it is the case that I am happy to compromise toward prioritising their needs, because I think that position of compromise costs me-and-therefore-us less than it would cost them; I tend toward the background assumption that when that shifts, when that compromise would cost me, when I end up needing something, they'll be similarly willing to accommodate me.

From their perspective, it seems probable that I've spent a long time being right-thinking and in-group and having wants that align with theirs, and when that's abruptly and inexplicably no longer the case I get shifted to out-group, or to unpredictable threat -- and that's not helped by my utter bafflement and own threat-response at how badly they're reacting to me wanting something that's in conflict with their desires.

Negotiation versus alignment, versus mirroring.

There's a framing in which this is "allistics are sometimes weirdly bad at recognising that not everyone they consider a good person wants what they want all the time in all circumstances"; in which recognising that fallacy and actively and explicitly negotiating instead is a skillset I've learned through negotiating with myself, my own present-versus-future wants, the way BPD affects my timescales of desire and means that it is painfully obviously in my best interests (and the best interests of those around me) for me to examine what I think I want, and why, and make sure I'm comfortable I'm making ethical choices in seeking comfort.

There's another framing -- and please admire the fact that I pay a trained professional £40/hour to access these insights, and that's very much sliding-scale rates -- in which, just maybe, how much space I make for people to want things that aren't what I want... is related to my incredible resistance to the idea, my reluctance to believe, that actually, sometimes, other people's desires do align with mine, even if I express mine first, and that doesn't mean that other-desire is coerced or insincere.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
We woke up in time to get to the Centre Pompidou! We got there about ten minutes after it opened, in fact, and once again swanned past every single possible queue and did not buy tickets. I am not going to get used to this unless I spend a lot more time in France; I am still, at the moment, apologetically wandering up to security at the front of the queue and saying "um, excuse me, where is it that I should be waiting...?" and getting cut off to be waved in halfway through that. It is disconcerting; I am Disconcert.

But! Centre Pompidou! We did a whistle-stop tour of the Musée, with the Collections Contemporaines and the Collections Modernes. I was especially enamoured of the curatorial decision that Respirare l'ombre was accessed via a stark white room containing trees by the same artist: Nel legno, Albero di 7 metri, and one other -- trees right-way-up and upside-down, excavated to their branches and sometimes their twigs, in the forest of their shadows. Sol-Mur is the kind of thing I'd reblog in a heartbeat on tumblr, labelled "hashtag aesthetic". And, while I didn't particularly care for the explanatory caption accompanying Precious Liquids, I did like the installation.

There was also a room full of wire-frame Friends whose name I did not take down because I was a little distracted, and balconies full of excellent swirly metal sculpture, and various other bits and pieces I would like to make the more detailed acquaintance of at some point in the future.

We cleared out of the Musée at 2pm, and were on a bus to the Gare de l'Est a whisker after half past; half-way up the hill between Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est a pain spike started. I curled up in a sofa in the business premier lounge (because, again, being a wheelchair user just... gets you that, for the £29 flat-rate Eurostar tickets for you and a companion) and contrived to have A fetch and carry me drinks and snacks; and eventually onto the train we got; and eventually, eventually, home. Where I have been curled up in a small pile on the sofa basically ever since, watching the birds.

I think this is the first time I have Gone On A Holiday that I substantially conceptualised and orchestrated? It feels very grown up, in a very young sort of fashion, and I think I'm going to keep enjoying that.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
A thing I learned yesterday and forgot to mention: charity shops are called solidarity shops.

This morning we were Mostly Asleep (which is, er, not surprising, at least on my part); once we had wrangled ourselves into clothes and through the boulangerie I got A to plot us a route to the Musée d'Orsay, where I dragged him round the Impressionists and had a lot of feelings about Monet; we had lunch in the cafe behind the clock, accompanied by a baffling dessert -- floating island with pink praline in custard flavoured with poppy -- before Investigating the way to the van Gogh. I am NOT SURPRISED I didn't find it last time, okay. (We also paused by all the scale models of Great Exhibition and opera house buildings, while attempting to navigate the lifts.)

Subsequently we wandered down the river a little to Notre Dame, where A was baffled by the sheer architectural scale and especially the little red doors; along the way I was particularly charmed by a set of three adjacent doors getting progressively bigger -- one small narrow single-storey, one slightly taller double door, and immediately adjacent that a bloody enormous two-storey-high set of double doors with a balcony and a two-storey window right above them. We also v much appreciated the various blocks that had just... had another entire house dumped on their roof, because why not.

And then ever-so-slowly back to the hotel, via the exterior of the Centre Pompidou and the Centre LGBT and dinner & some Pokemon & an adventure in public transport i.e. a bus that believed in two wheelchair spaces.

Somewhat clarified thoughts on Impressionism: part of what makes it work so well for me in person and fall so flat in reproduction is the fundamental three-dimensionality of the oil paint. Given that three-dimensionality, and given Monet's depiction of light, and given my short-sightedness, and given the light in the exhibition space, I end up feeling a very strong sense of realness, of miscellaneous complex sensory input: sun-warmth and movement-of-plants-in-wind and smell-of-hay-dust and all that sort of thing. In conversation with A I articulated that at least some of what's going on is that the nature of Impressionism is representing a probability envelope, if you will, of places the scene might be, in contrast with the static frame of photorealism: Monet's paintings look like how I perceive trees-in-motion without my glasses. Combined with the way the three-dimensional painting of the surface catches the light and my own motion, I perceive motion in the static-yet-not canvases, too. Which turns into "wind ruffling plants or grass" and "hay-dust haze" and "moving ripples in water", which means I want to sit and stare at all of the overlapping pictures for a very long time.

To my amusement, this works much better for me with the intimate landscapes than the buildings or the mountains; on a scale or in context where I wouldn't expect the subject to move (even if I might expect changes in light or cloud!) I don't get sucked in in the same way.

So yes. There you go. Probability-envelope articulation, along with why-reproductions-leave-me-cold.

(I was also very pleased by coincidence of the lit buildings and the brightest stars and their reflections in van Gogh's Starry Night Over The Rhône, which I hadn't previously noticed.)

Tomorrow, if we wake up in time: a flying visit to the interior of the Centre Pompidou, and then hooooooooome.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
So I seriously need to work this out some more, but given that I'm still struggling to make words happen, here's a sketch:

I grew up as a small queer Catholic, who had to be closeted about both the queerness and the Catholicism, and was made very ill indeed by fighting my way clear of love the sinner, hate the sin.

And my sticking point with rehabilitative justice is routinely "okay, but what about the people who know exactly what they're doing and are doing it for fun and are categorically uninterested in stopping?" Of whom I have known... several. And I think at least part of my problem there is my pseudo-allergic response to anything that looks even superficially like love the sinner, hate the sin, where if you're just kind and loving and gentle with people for long enough they will Realise The Error Of Their Ways and that They Were Wrong All Along, because of how toxic and gaslighting that can be.

Which brings me back around again to the thing I've been attempting to write a post about and failing since shortly after my "I am twitchy as fuck about the rhetoric I'm seeing around antifa, here's why" (thank you for your engagement and input on that, various, it was enormously helpful and I haven't stopped thinking about it), in the general vicinity of talking at cross purposes, and I haven't managed to actually pin it down yet but I'm still intending to. But this I can sketch, around ideas-that-turn-toxic and abusers-will-abuse-anything and baby-and-bathwater and examining-my-motivations, so. Here's a sketch.
kaberett: Trans symbol 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.


Jun. 11th, 2016 06:23 pm
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
I am on the East Coast Mainline, sat on the left-hand side in the direction of travel, getting to stare down the cliffs onto bays full of dykes (of the igneous rather than queer persuasion), having picked up a new-to-me wheelchair in Edinburgh by dint of a friend's willingness to collect it from West Lothian, and the gorse and red campions are out and the buildings are Old Red Sandstone and this is amazing (I'm in heaven, I'm in heaven, this is the best thing I have ever seen) -- just: yes, yes, thank you.
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: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I think one makes belief as one makes love:
think drystone walls of balanced masonry--
think of the hand that fits and shapes the glove--
think every stone cradled by gravity
secured in place by virtue of its weight
and no two are alike, but each is key.
I find I shy away from all the freight
attached to "anchor" as a term of praise--
but still each kindness settles into place:
a piecemeal ballast for my listing days,
or bearings set toward a kind of grace--
something to trust when cast adrift in haze.
So: tell me who I am, as seen by you.
Tell me a story; I will make it true.
kaberett: Reflections of a bare tree in river ice in Stockholm somehow end up clad in light. (tree-of-light)
(On til October 25th and highly recommended; if you have a wheelchair-using friend, persuade them to go with you and via the magic of concession + companion the price drops from a slightly eyewatering £18/head to a much more reasonable £7.75, I am just saying.)

Something I've been remarking on to pretty much anyone who's around when the topic comes up, recently, is that I Am Very Into Modern Sculpture These Days and I don't actually know why, in that I can't articulate what about abstract sculpture it is that does it for me (which I'd like to be able to if only so that, having articulated the matter, I can find more of it), and I'm also not terribly literate on the genre so am unaware of the conversations going on around me.

This exhibit made a point of emphasising that Hepworth's later work - the characteristic abstract carvings - were conceptualised by the artist as landscapes enfolding and embracing the viewer. 'I cannot write anything about landscape without writing about the human figure and human spirit inhabiting the landscape. For me, the whole art of sculpture is the fusion of these two elements.' (And here's the paper I'm quoting that from, on figure and landscape.)

In addition to which, something I had not previously consciously understood is that she adopted Cornwall, or Cornwall adopted her, or something; and even it was almost the right part, by which I mean almost the part of the coast path I - still - know so well that you can show me a photograph taken anywhere along a 10-mile stretch and I'll be able to tell you where the photographer was standing.

The exhibition included a film, part of her very careful curation of public images of her works, of her sculptures in situ in the liminal space that is beaches and coastal cliffs, with waves washing over them, as inherently tactile objects designed to be touched and lifted and moved and seen, and seen through, in the dual sense of transparency and lens.

Even I began, almost, to understand Cubism: in the gallery of her early work, exhibited alongside that of her partner Ben Nicholson, with which and with whom she was in dialogue.

The curation of this exhibition is thoughtful and kind and clever, but clever in that it invites you to join in its delight, rather than being at all remote or austere. It was an absolute joy to move around; there were felicities of alignment at my height that were simply deliciously sensual, and I gather it worked similarly well when standing. I was very, very glad to have spent an afternoon in its company.
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)

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kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
(Cis friends, by all means ask me questions to clarify, but maybe consider sitting out of actually having an opinion in comments on this one. Anon comments are permitted but will be screened; I expect to unscreen unless otherwise requested.)

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kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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