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: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
it's just about exactly a decade since I started binding. As of about six months ago -- counting the post-surgical binder -- I stopped, again, for good. It's lovely.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[Content notes: UK politics, disability, gender]

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***

[Content notes: state violence, policing, incarceration, white person discovers racism]

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***

I've had time to read because I am fairly emphatically Taking This Week Off in the Peaks, after three frustrating days on the mass spec last week (resulting in 0 usable data). I am fairly shortly setting off to spend the afternoon at Biddulph Grange Garden; I found it by looking through National Trust properties within striking distance of the cottage we're staying in, and then realised it was ringing a faint bell. I eventually recalled that [personal profile] nanila had been singing its praises remarkably recently, and thus the decision was made.

I have also been playing some more board games; less than I expected but more than zero, with the big obvious progress being that when Our Host expressed doubt over whether I'd get on okay with Avalon I checked in with A, and then pushed to play it anyway. (My side lost! But I did well at my role.) The less-obvious progress is that I'm reaching the point where I'm not spending new-to-me games mostly focussed on managing my anxiety, and consequently am beginning to very tentatively build a model of why People In General enjoy board games. In particular, I'm tentatively beginning to see how people might enjoy them in a way that isn't centred on self-aggrandisement and competitiveness; instead, I think I am beginning to understand the use of games as combination social vehicle and, mmm, experiments in collaboration and problem-solving and exploration: collectively enjoying investigating How This Works, and How It's Different, in a similar fashion to talking about what Interesting And New things a given book is doing.

I'm not certain about this yet! But it still feels like progress to be moving from "panic" to "tentative modelling", and I suspect that once I'm secure enough in my modelling I'll be able to start working out whether I enjoy the games.
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: 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: Clyde the tortoise from Elementary, crawling across a map, with a red tape cross on his back. (elementary-emergency-clyde)
Hi, I'm Alex, my pronouns are they, I have hilarious boardgame-related trauma; I'm going to want five minutes to read the rules in silence before we start; and if I ask a question about gameplay that isn't addressed to you by name and you're not [personal profile] me_and, please pretend I didn't say anything.


As I periodically mention, mostly whenever I make notable progress of any kind, for a variety of hilarious reasons I find the vast majority of boardgames intensely stressful, and this gets worse the less I know the people I'm playing with. Like I said in my previous post, over the past two years I've gone from "cannot even start to play a game I've had long-term interest in, in my own home, with my partner, who I trust, with no-one else present, without bursting into tears twice just reading the rules" to "getting a bit of an adrenaline kick when I start my second new game of an afternoon with strangers, in a pub, when I was already primed for social anxiety for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture".

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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: 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.
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: Trans symbol 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.

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kaberett: Trans symbol 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: Trans symbol 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.

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