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Phyla: (possibly) interesting, not a post, just in case you want to know
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posted by Infra on April 6th, 2013
(Just as an edit, because people might not get the reference in the title: it’s an attorney thing.)
I’ve dug on the Standards of Care more than once ’round here, not just in the footnote in the previous post. Even if not always directly. Probably should explain that, hunh? Especially considering that the Standards are, at this point, my main way out. So to speak. At least as far as formal (including legal, but also, and more importantly, social) recognition is concerned.
Here’s the thing: the way I figure it, and from my own experience, the Standards have it ass-backward. Maybe in some cases, there’s questioning the nature of the experience. But that’s a matter for a community to address, and it’s doubtful whether or not those behind, developing and supporting the Standards are a community, especially in that sense. The more important issue (or the more relevant one, here) isn’t that, though. Though community is still a vital part of it. It’s that transitioning, whatever that might mean for the person at hand, isn’t the beginning of a process.
It’s the beginning of the enactment of a process that has already come to completion.
That’s the thing: the whole “Bodies in Doubt” issue, to reference the title of a related work, which I’ve also referenced on multiple occasions. The problem, I’d say, is that for someone trans-, there is no doubt. Maybe about how to go about enacting and embodying this, but not about the “this” itself. But that’s likely not how it’s seen — using “likely” in a very generous, and likely undeserved, way. It’s more likely that the decision to transition, to alter the body, is seen to signify doubt, as opposed to signifying the resolution of any doubt that was previously there.
What’s probably most problematic is the concept of dysphoria itself, and what things like the Standards most likely reflect is a selective interpretation of the means of enactment as being a means of resolution instead of a means of completion. Or, to rephrase that a bit: they reflect a desire to understand how someone “becomes sure” of who they are, overlooking the fact that the actions being observed may well result, and likely do result, from a person already “having become sure” of who they are. Rather than helping to resolve doubt, such procedures induce it. They put someone through a process of tearing down existing foundations — existing self-perception, essentially — so that it can be rebuilt through… well, authorized channels, so to speak. A chain of command.
Which brings things back around to the issues of legal and social recognition.
What’s the difference between this and controlled experiments, with the heterosexual (and even if this is broadened, it doesn’t invalidate the point) sex and gender binary as the control condition?
So… why? Because, as the ad copy goes, I don’t want white-coated Shuggoths messing around with my junk. (Okay, that isn’t how the ad copy goes. But it fits, and the ElderWear probably would, too.) Or, for that matter, any other part of me. Unless it’s in the way that I’ve already decided, having already resolved my form of doubt.
And yeah, that’s Lovecraft, and it’s fiction. But so, in a sense, are the Standards of Care.
posted by Infra on April 6th, 2013
Been a while since I’ve written anything, but a thought came up that I figured I should post. If for no other reason than just to get it down somewhere.
It’s that whole “people will start marrying their dogs” thing. You know, the old, standard, bizarre, no one will take it seriously and they know it but they still keep saying it argument regarding gay marriage. The one that doesn’t even seem worth addressing, but that, despite this, actually says something crucial about why the people who say it might object to gay marriage in the first place. Because it reveals that the objection to gay marriage isn’t about gay marriage at all. Or even about dogs, for that matter.
It’s about being able to marry whomever you care for, even if they aren’t of a recognizable category.
The fundamental concern revealed by that argument isn’t one of moral degeneration — that gay marriage will eventually lead to bestiality, as the words go — but that if two men or two women are able to get married, then those who are partially male or female may also be able to get married. In other words, if two cocks aren’t a barrier to marriage, it will eventually become the case that the bodies connected to those cocks won’t matter, either; if two pussies aren’t a barrier to marriage, it will eventually become the case that the bodies connected to those pussies won’t matter as well.
Admit gay marriage, and fixing conditions such as intersex and trans- goes out the window. Specifically, the justification for (en)forced correction does.
And that, I think, is what truly worries them. Because that’s what they mean by “dogs:” sexual developmental anomalies.
“Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” isn’t about the marriage pairing. It’s about what — “who” is more accurate, but “what” more accurately reflects the view — comes out of the womb. If the argument relates to marriage at all, it’s only in that marriage usually results in children (this being the oft-accompanying argument and fundamental justification), and that if marriage isn’t strictly defined in terms of male and female (as strictly defined categories), then neither are those children who might result.
As I’ve written before: never assume that these things are bereft of logic. It’s the “different target” issue all over again.
Which might, in that last part, seem an unjustified contention.
Until one considers how achieving gay marriage rights in a form similar to the established and ideological heterosexual model would impact these issues. If it would impact them, positively, at all. And in view of that, I’m inclined to think — just as I did when I first heard of it, and not without cause — that this was the right way to go.
But I doubt that, at this point, it’s still a viable tactic. Missed opportunities and all.
I mean, sure, it might have the potential to become viable again. But that would probably require an amount of backtracking that people just won’t be willing to do. “We’ve come too far,” “we can’t give up the ground we’ve gained” and such. But then… that’s probably to be expected. That view is all too common, and all too easy to understand.
Who wants to admit that their successes were their failures, even to themselves?
posted by Infra on March 15th, 2013
I’ve quoted the line before, in different contexts: that the objective referent of a clock is another clock. Different implications, there, depending upon how it’s used, and the framework within which it’s placed. But there is one possibility (actually, two) that, perhaps, falls outside of consideration when considering that line.
What if one or both clocks have stopped?
The idea that the clocks are working — by battery, by winding, by self or by other — is inferred from that line. It isn’t a necessary meaning.
I think that there’s one fitting answer for this: it’s in the case of when someone knows that they’ve done wrong. When someone has come to know both their own evil and their own good, there are three ways in which to present it: as emphasizing the evil, as emphasizing the good, or as attempting to present their understanding of both.
I suspect that it’s only in that third case — when it’s without emphasis — that both clocks stop.
posted by Infra on March 14th, 2013
It’s a crucial question, I think.
Those of us who haven’t experienced the kinds of pain that others have: there’s at least some cause, there, for not being able to relate to that pain. Not initially, because we don’t have the experience, often, that would even allow us to be aware of its existence. Which isn’t to say that we can’t develop that awareness: we can, and the inability to do so is just a starting point. It’s what happens after that that matters.
But what about those of us who have experienced that pain, and have known, and have understood — but then healed? What happens when our burdens (perhaps not all of them, but the ones that weigh us down most heavily at the time) are lifted, or even lightened enough for us to carry on our own?
Ultimately, I think that this isn’t so much a question about healing as it is about what happens to pain when we heal. If that pain goes away, or recedes, or ceases to be something that we feel, or are aware of, or if it might transform into something else. Whether it’s a matter of the burdens being lifted, or lightened, or if it’s a matter of that in us which carries the burdens becoming stronger: solid enough that the pain feels as if it’s no longer there.
If it might be the case that “pain” is a word that we use to refer only to one possible form of pain: the kind that causes us to suffer — but not the kind that informs us of something, through its presence.
In an older post, I wrote about the possibility of refusing to heal, and of refusing to scar. And I suspect that that was the right way to phrase it at the time. But I’m not certain that it’s the right way to phrase it now. The sentiment remains, in a sense. But it needs some new terms, to relate it to a new perspective. And that’s because the old phrasing works, but only if pain (including “good” pain) and suffering (including suffering with a purpose, such as regret or atonement) are seen as inextricably related. Alleviation of pain, in that view, is equivalent to the alleviation of suffering; either one suffers, and is in pain, or one does not, and is not.
One could say, in fact, that this is the usual view of the fundamental difference between illness and health — and thus, in that post, my position of rejecting that dichotomy.
What I suspect gets overlooked is one particular thing about suffering: it’s social, even outside of a social context. Even when no one is around to observe it. This isn’t to say that suffering is performed, necessarily: that, itself, is a particular application of suffering, a particular way of employing and making use of it, for good or for ill. But suffering itself is still something social. It’s a way of relating to pain, whether that of others or our own.
posted by Infra on March 11th, 2013
(Or, on the subject of pithos and pathos, in a positive way.)
With those last couple of posts, and proceeding a bit further along speculative lines, I figure that I should add this: that if such programs were to exist (or even other ones: perhaps SETI turned its attention to other things, though the opening of that does remind me of the unfortunate events of a somewhat similar series of encounters, as does the ultimate conclusion at the end), I don’t think that they’d have bad intentions at heart. In fact, I’m inclined to think that they’d involve, on the whole, people with quite noble goals and intentions.
I mean, think about it. Even considering the “staring at goats” from the title of that book: less of a need for actual armaments, especially ones that could fall into malicious hands. Less collateral damage, fewer deaths of innocents. Perhaps the ability to avoid them entirely. And with other things: the ability to understand what will work, and won’t, not only in operations, but also in diplomacy. Avoiding injury, reducing deployments, getting people, both military and civilian, out of harm’s way. The ability to step aside from catastrophic paths.
Not to mention that persistent search for meaning, both in and of it all.
But I also doubt that if people were look at such things, or at such people (if any there are), that’s what they’d see. And that’s the sad part of all this. Caught between ridicule and fear, there’s the question of what kind of proof someone would need in order to show that such an inquiry was even valid. That it was neither a pursuit of the senseless nor an attempt to harness what one should not even attempt to control.
Or perhaps, even seek to know.
People seem fond of saying that power corrupts. But were this kind of thing true, I doubt that any corruption would arise from power, or even from an inquiry into whether or not such power exists. (I mean, it would be true of some, I’m sure. But such is always the case so long as power is possible, and there’s little reason to think, when it comes to that topic, that a subject like this would be either immune or unique.) More likely, I think, would be that corruption would arise from a perception, or even a belief, and even on the part of those most directly involved, that such a project could not stand alone. That it would only be a worthy pursuit when attached to, and perhaps even as servant to, other and more established goals.
That, I suspect, is the real difference, these days, between scientist and mystic.
Not in the subjects they study, but in who and what they are without patrons. The validity of the path itself. Because even a scientist alone is often viewed, if not as a rule, as engaging in worthy pursuits: the expansion of knowledge, and the mapping of the known. But even if one concedes that a mystic, searching for enlightenment and enlightenment only, is engaged in a worthy pursuit, that concession is usually qualified. It stands solid only if they’re willing to teach. If they’re willing to share their understanding with others, and engaged, actively, in doing so. With the sole exception, perhaps, being the pursuit of peace before death: both for their own (both the impending and the encountered) and to give what comfort can be given to others.
posted by Infra on March 11th, 2013
Although the previous post was (mostly) tongue in cheek, it’s worth pointing something out.
If, that is, someone were content to speculate along those lines.
Basically, and to highlight the problem, there would only be two cases in which that kind of thing could be done safely. One is if everything — and I mean everything, no exceptions, not with anything, anyone, or anywhere — involved with it emerged, and emerged this way and only, from interactions between the human body and a universe devoid of any form of differently-embodied intelligence. In other words, you’d have to have completely atheistic — not agnostic, not pantheistic, not monotheistic, not polytheistic, not animistic — paranormality. (I use “differently-embodied,” there, because even animal intelligence or involvement in such a scheme could potentially throw things off. The source would have to be human intelligence, specifically, applied, specifically, to an effectively inert universe. Using “inert,” there, in the sense of unable to perceive, react, and so on, in an independent or agentic way.)
The other would be, if this weren’t the case, to make sure that people are running interference during such operations, and that such interference was universally successful. And that includes not only internal matters, but anything external that might be indicative of such activity, as well.
One leak, one outside perception, one errant bit of information, and the whole thing’s blown. I mean, this kind of thing wouldn’t just be research. You’d be, in essence, invading someone else’s territory. And one would think that they’d probably notice that kind of thing, especially if you’re busy plundering their resources. (If you caught someone breaking into your home, I doubt that the first thing that you’d do is offer them coffee, a movie, and a lay. Well, not unless you were interested in those things, they seemed like not your average thief, and you’re confident of being able to dispatch them if things go south. But still, I’m thinking that it ain’t the norm.)
Kind of a high bar to meet, isn’t it?
Either there can’t be anything at all out there, or (in essence) you’d have to cloak large segments of activity, and especially any effects of that activity, including both successes and failures, without creating, in the process, any indications that it’s going on, or anything that would look anomalous. And further, you’d have to do that from the beginning, when you were just developing the skills to accomplish it. And that includes periods even before actual work begins. Even the initial research would be, potentially, indicative of where things were headed.
Which, really, makes that second case untenable. Especially if you’re dealing with things (or persons, or whatever might be the proper term) that have been around longer than your entire civilization has, and most likely longer than all of its predecessors, combined. It’s a bit like trying to play against a master of Go when all that you’re familiar with is eating black and white M&Ms — and don’t even know that the game uses pieces or a board.
And that’s especially the case if people have attempted it before. Even if you’re using a slightly or even significantly different approach.
Ultimately, only the first explanation is viable. Unless, of course, in order to ensure it, you’re also looking to eliminate any existing intelligences, or things, or persons, or whatever term might fit, that you encounter along the way. Which, also of course, you’d also have to do without bringing the entire thing down on your heads in the process. (See “one leak,” above.)
I mean, for fuck’s sake, that isn’t even reliably accomplished with people.
Not even the less than completely and powerfully connected ones, and not even when people have superior numbers, superior intelligence structures, superior weapons, and more long-term planning. And that, in turn, brings a particular kind of food to mind.
appendix c: killing vampires is easy
… if a. you’re in the know and b. you’re forewarned and well equipped and c. you have the wherewithal to hold a supernaturally powerful uber-predator who personally survived the civil war, the burning times, the age of enlightenment, the third reich, the great depression, the renaissance, the reformation, and the for fuck sake spanish inquisition too, and who during that time killed people numbering in the mid five digits, I mean all alone, no death squads or crematoriums, with bare hands and fangs, can you imagine the cunning and energy and ferocity, and you’d only make it a very slightly larger five digit number, my mind boggles, it makes pol pot look like mr for fuck sake fred h. rogers – anyway hold that voracious fucker bastard down until sunrise.
– cockroach souffle, and other tasty tidbits for kill puppies for satan
And appendix d, too. Which was a question and answer thing. And amusing, too, in much the same way as the previous post.
appendix d: what would jesus do?
hang there whimpering and eventually die.
posted by Infra on March 11th, 2013
An amusing thought, brought on by the previous three posts: if such things were real, and people tried them again, what would happen?
“Key members of Parliament.” Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room… with a psychic.
– The Operative, Serenity
Well, at least it’s amusing to me.