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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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On what is real
delirium happy
This is something I tend to ponder quite a lot, but I don't think I've ever actually written anything about it here.

In today's culture, or at least in certain parts of it, there is a whole deal of emphasis placed on personal identity type stuff. Things get translated from "stuff I do" or "stuff I feel" to "stuff I am". So for instance, it isn't "I like Terry Pratchett" but rather "I am a Pratchett fan"; it isn't "I do LiveJournal Support" but "I am an LJ support volunteer". They almost become like badges of honour. And while this is harmful, annoying and unhelpful in several ways, that isn't entirely what I'm going to talk about here.

I'm thinking more along the lines of transgender, multiples, furries, other kin, and so on and so forth here. I have very conflicted thoughts and feelings about things of this ilk.

Firstly, there's my misanthropic, cynical, Tyler Durden approach to it. "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You do not really have the brain of 172 hermaphrodite martian dryad foxes who are reincarnations of the budha. Really you don't. And if you don't shut the hell up about it already then I'm going to be tempted to prove this empirically by cutting your head open with a large hatchet."

And then there's my liberal tree-hugging hippy approach to it. "Hey, you're a dryad? Cool, man! Doesn't bother me! Come hug a tree with me!"

And then there's my intelectual philosophical psychological approach to it all, which can pretty much be summed up as "interesting".

And all three of those apply equally to myself and to others.

What I think is most important though, is to remember what is real, and what is not. I shall take as an example transgender stuff, as it's what I know best and as such should be where I am most capable of offending people with my ideas.

Take for instance the following sentiment: "I'm actually a woman; I just happen to have a man's body". Now, while this sort of expression may have a place in explaining ones general feelings to someone who doesn't grok them, I think that it's important not to be drawn into the trap of taking them at face value. Because in so doing, you're trying to grant a very nebulous concept (womanhood) the status of something very real.

So what is real? Obviously, only an individual can ever understand how their own thought processes work. This means that it's never really possible to know how ones thoughts differ from someone else's. Yes, you can make educated guesses based on discussions, but I'm not sure that that can ever really work. Describing how (as opposed to what) you think is about as difficult as describing what the colour blue looks like without using comparisons, and about as futile.

So we're left with nothing more than "I think like me". Trying to then say what the me really truly is doesn't work. It isn't meaningful.

Even so, I think that they can be important models. "I shall live my life as if..." or "many aspects of my personality can be explained by considering..." can be useful, in many different ways. They aren't an objective view of relaity, however. Coincidentally, this is also how I view much of physics -- we don't really know what's going on, but we can make good guesses if we use certain models.

And the (or a) reason why it is important not to get caught up in believing in the inalienable truth of such matters, is that if you do so, it becomes terribly hard to change. The more of yourself you invest in being $foo, the more you have to lose if you are no longer $foo, so the less likely you are to be open to such a change, even if it is for the best.

Or, what I'm really trying to say is, I'm happy for people to live their lives however they want, but it's important to always retain a grip on reality at all times.

This is hardly news.

And yes, I am aware that this entry is rambly, partly incoherent, and doesn't really go anywhere. But I have to be in a lecture in 8 minutes so I don't have time to edit it.

I am also aware that this entry is deeply ironic on a hole host of levels.

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I'm just up myself, but the distinction between "I am doing $foo" and "I am a $foo-er"--and the related one between "I like $bar" and "I am a $bar fan"--are worth remembering.

yes! enjoyed that post. that's the kind of thing I think about lots! it's very much the background territory to my bi/queer/gender politics, and when I design workshops & suchlike I try to be v scrupulous (with language & process) in not reifying people and where possible providing space to unreify and redescribe themselves. which I suspect is possibly a lot of what people like about my stuff (when they do).

I do grok you, I think. I really rather would sometimes prefer to retain a basis in reality by saying "Yes, actually, I really am a woman", the only problem is the usual reaction of "So why don't you act like one?" which is annoying. Probably also related to why I just couldn't bring myself to have any sort of op or hormones, because that would be deluding myself further into believing I'm something that I'm not.

Well I think that was part of your point.

My answer to that would be something along the lines of "oh. so how does a woman act then?" With things like that, I think that one of the biggest problems is that people stereotype too much. You can quite easily go along the line of thought that says "I am a woman; I act like me; ergo I act like a woman" and that's a good one to use. This is related to what I was saying, I think. It's about taking everyone at their own value, and not trying to pigeon hole, which then allows people not to have to fight against these bounds.

I suppose then, if I go around instead saying 'Oh no, I'm definately not a woman' then I'm just backing up some sort of transgender stereotype. Whereas if I were to say 'I'm a woman' I would be breaking down the female stereotype, which would be a much better thing, for me and others...?

I find this entry really interesting... I suppose you could say I was brought up in a transgender environment, and when people find that out about me, they automatically assume that I accept the "woman trapped in a man's body" theory (especially since I am your typical accepting lefty type). But I do not accept it, at least not at face value... I feel that same struggle between the cynical approach and the liberal hippy approach that you describe.

I just added you to my friends list. When you first added me and commented to me I was a little bit wary for several reasons, none of which I feel like going into at almost 3am in public (though feel free to ask me by email or some such if you're curious), but I'm pretty much convinced by this comment that you're at least worth giving a chance to. So hi, nice to "meet" you. :)

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