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Nostalgia’s Fear of Beauty
Posted: 21 September 2013 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]
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We’re all nostalgic, thinking about the “good ole days” or the great experiences once had bringing about ecstasy, never able to be repeated again since the present is all there is. Nostalgia is a beauty, but she can also be a beast.

I’ve often said (not in this forum) that the Western world, our civilization is a direct product of the Enlightenment, not our Christian heritage; but I might have been wrong on that. I never really considered the deep influence the two world wars have left us with.

They devastated any idea of human progress towards betterment, and science, the first thought great hero, only advanced our impulse for mass destruction. Atomic weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons. The ABC of human death.

After the war, WWII that is, a new conscience was born. No more war. Never again. (The U.S. was deeply involved, certainly, but never experienced that total destruction that Europe endured. Every old person there today can recount the ashes, my grandma included… and the sheer terror when hearing sirens, reminding her of the Dresden bombings, when even the concrete lit up in flames and every person there was reduced to nothing. Napalm Death.)

The generation that saw the war was simply happy that it was over. Life went on as it did before. The 50’s came, and a sort of “normality” and peace that had been so longed for returned. But then the kids grew up, and the 60’s arrived, ushering in all that “new madness” that had no place in and out of anything.

When speaking of Conservatism today, it is directly related to WWII and 50’s, not any time before, not any time after. The time before is unknown, or at least “irrelevant”, as it did not, could not, anticipate the atrocities to be committed. The time after, certainly, is not “conservative”.

Conservatism is a good thing. It doesn’t rush into things, it’s content if things are working, it’s just plain common sense on a certain level. But Conservatism does have a terrible streak: dogmatism.

Dogmatism can be found anywhere, not just the Conservatives, but it does have a nostalgic ring to it when it goes there.

“The good old times… when the world was still ok and everything was in order…” ... Nothing was in order. It’s the nostalgic pain that finally the madness had receded and it was ok to live without fearing to be killed whenever by whoever arrived in town.

Unfortunately, this nostalgic coziness has turned into an ideal. An ideal representing nothing but dreams unreflective of any reality. In Europe, these ideals are represented by old-school conservatives that do have a point, sometimes, but I often reek nationalism within these points. In the U.S. it is much more religious. Nationalism is a given, although a far cry from European nationalism, as the U.S. is certainly anything but ethnically homogeneous. When it comes to these ideals, it seems as if “the Bible has been guiding us all along… and now we wanna get rid of it…”. It’s horrible! Whenever this kind of whining is on TV I cannot but change the channel.

The fear of the unknown is what has driven human beings for as long as they existed. What conquers that fear? Knowledge. Lightning strikes are not nearly as frightening as they used to be once we understood what they are and how to divert them. But science is slow, and many issues remain untouched.

I consider society one of those issues. It is such a great thing to see how far we have come. The abolition of slavery, women’s right, homosexual acceptance… but it’s still always a “fight”. It ain’t just accepted.

I was just reading an article in Christianity Today magazine, a magazine I consider fairly good; but when I read the quote of a certain pastor I nearly threw up. Here’s the quote:

Whether mentioned in Scripture or not, the transgender movement clashes with traditional Christian theology that teaches the only God-given expression of human sexuality is between a man and woman who are married. “Transgender impulses are strong, but they don’t match up with the Christian sexual ethic,” says Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. “Desires must be brought into alignment with biblical teachings, but it will be inconvenient and distressful.”
Throckmorton, past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, says he has advised transgendered people who are in absolute agony over their state. Typically, such individuals are desperately in search of hope and acceptance, he says. It may be uncomfortable to tell transgendered individuals that their desires don’t align with the Bible, Throckmorton says, but pastors must do so. “Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,” Throckmorton says, “even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.”

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/february/25.54.html?start=1

It will be “inconvenient and distressful”... and “even if science does [...] we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings”.
This is the most extreme comment I’ve ever read. Nothing really matters, except the interpretation of an ancient book. Never mind that the suicide rate among transgendered youth is about 50%. These sorts of ideas leave me breathless and argumentless. What can you say to this?

I seem to have diverted here, from a text on Western Conservatism after WWII to a Christian comment on transsexuality. Well, I did divert, but I needed to make that point, getting back to it in a second.

Conservative Nostalgia, as I like to call it, is not an isolated phenomenon. It prides itself on reason and pragmatism and realism… but in reality, it’s just “the fear of the dark”. It does have a lot of wisdom for humanity to draw on, especially the wars and what was learned, but it refuses to go further, wanting to remain in the foxhole even though the shells are no longer coming.

I have many conservative friends, and they mean well, but whenever things go “overboard” I don’t detect a disagreement so much as an element of fear. The fear of the unknown. To me: the fear of beauty. Human life is beauty, can be beauty, can be beautiful. To keep it locked up makes it wither, and very ugly.

In regard to the mentioned quote, it is, unfortunately, mainly Christian thinkers, and good ones, that consistently undermine any sort of progress, be that scientifically or psychologically or sociologically or whatever, to preserve their favorite form of theology. It’s very frustrating as many people would otherwise be very open.

In regard to my transsexuality, I have not yet had any bad experiences. “Thank God.” People are a lot more accepting and loving than I would ever have imagined. (Although I’m aware that this might not remain the constant.) But just to get back to that article, the end result of it was not bad, Christians should accept the transgendered, which is a very large step… but in the end we are only accepted if we see ourselves as sinners and wrong but forgiven, returning to the same old chains.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind returning to a church with open arms, loving me as I am. But before I am made to change back to what I was I will blow my brains out first.

I love the nostalgic. I love beauty. I love weeping flowers. It’s much easier to live today than a hundred years ago. It’s still not accepted everywhere to simply be. It takes time for beauty to envelope the planet, and human diversity is nothing short of it, beauty that is.

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Posted: 21 September 2013 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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That was a beautiful post, Michelle. Keep writing like that and you’ll be an important voice for transgender rights.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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DarronS - 21 September 2013 07:29 PM

That was a beautiful post, Michelle. Keep writing like that and you’ll be an important voice for transgender rights.

Thank you, Darron. That’s very encouraging.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, a very nice little essay.

I’m reminded that one of the composers that I respect a lot is Wendy Carlos - not transgener, as far as I know, but she did have a sex change and that puts her in the family of people who don’t “fit the mold” of society’s sexual archetypes. She did music for Tron and A Clockwork Orange, plus some microtonal experimentation which turned out to be a bit important for my musical interests.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 22 September 2013 09:14 AM

Yes, a very nice little essay.

I’m reminded that one of the composers that I respect a lot is Wendy Carlos - not transgener, as far as I know, but she did have a sex change and that puts her in the family of people who don’t “fit the mold” of society’s sexual archetypes. She did music for Tron and A Clockwork Orange, plus some microtonal experimentation which turned out to be a bit important for my musical interests.

Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment. When you say she was / is not transgendered but yet had a sex change, that hints on something I’ve wondered about. Well, not wondered about, it’s my opinion, but it’s not “out there”.

Transgenderism or transsexuality is becoming more and more accepted, BUT mainly in the form of “a man born in a woman’s body” or “a woman born in a man’s body”, in essence retaining a binary gender concept. I do not believe in a binary gender concept, and I wouldn’t belong into one anyway.

Interesting that you mention that. Thanks.

Michelle

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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Michelle D. - 22 September 2013 04:09 PM
TromboneAndrew - 22 September 2013 09:14 AM

Yes, a very nice little essay.

I’m reminded that one of the composers that I respect a lot is Wendy Carlos - not transgener, as far as I know, but she did have a sex change and that puts her in the family of people who don’t “fit the mold” of society’s sexual archetypes. She did music for Tron and A Clockwork Orange, plus some microtonal experimentation which turned out to be a bit important for my musical interests.

Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment. When you say she was / is not transgendered but yet had a sex change, that hints on something I’ve wondered about. Well, not wondered about, it’s my opinion, but it’s not “out there”.

Transgenderism or transsexuality is becoming more and more accepted, BUT mainly in the form of “a man born in a woman’s body” or “a woman born in a man’s body”, in essence retaining a binary gender concept. I do not believe in a binary gender concept, and I wouldn’t belong into one anyway.

Interesting that you mention that. Thanks.

Michelle

Well, it’s not a term I use very much, perhaps I misused it. I was thinking in terms of transgender being someone who has at least parts of both male and female sex organs. But that might be wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender

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Posted: 22 September 2013 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Everyone’s sexuality should be their own, as long as they don’t impose it on any unwilling 2nd party.  If the Bible says differently, I say burn that book in Hell! smile

As far as nostalgia and conservatism goes, I can be nostalgic, without actually wanting things to be the same as they were in the past.  Better to have new experiences to enjoy, and then we can be nostalgic about those in the future.

As far as what passes for Conservatism, these days (actually reactionary insanity) it can burn in Hell also.

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Posted: 22 September 2013 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I recall an episode of Bones in which they had a Japanese forensic expert come in.  One of the questions the lab had was whether the person was male or female because he/she/it gave no visual indication of either sex, since there was apparently a Japanese group which seems to (my guess or interpretation) remove the concept of gender from their thinking. 

Occam

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Posted: 23 September 2013 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 22 September 2013 05:03 PM
Michelle D. - 22 September 2013 04:09 PM
TromboneAndrew - 22 September 2013 09:14 AM

Yes, a very nice little essay.

I’m reminded that one of the composers that I respect a lot is Wendy Carlos - not transgener, as far as I know, but she did have a sex change and that puts her in the family of people who don’t “fit the mold” of society’s sexual archetypes. She did music for Tron and A Clockwork Orange, plus some microtonal experimentation which turned out to be a bit important for my musical interests.

Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment. When you say she was / is not transgendered but yet had a sex change, that hints on something I’ve wondered about. Well, not wondered about, it’s my opinion, but it’s not “out there”.

Transgenderism or transsexuality is becoming more and more accepted, BUT mainly in the form of “a man born in a woman’s body” or “a woman born in a man’s body”, in essence retaining a binary gender concept. I do not believe in a binary gender concept, and I wouldn’t belong into one anyway.

Interesting that you mention that. Thanks.

Michelle

Well, it’s not a term I use very much, perhaps I misused it. I was thinking in terms of transgender being someone who has at least parts of both male and female sex organs. But that might be wrong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender

Hi Andrew, I think you mean intersexed individuals, where it’s not clear at birth what sex they actually are, so they get one assigned by their parents. (Not sure, as that’s a term I don’t use much either :-) Too many terms out there anyway, so it does get confusing.

Transgender is sort of a catch-all word for anyone not really fitting the male or female gender identity.

There was an interesting episode once on Law & Order SVU where a Jewish boy’s circumcision resulted pretty badly and to spare him the shame later the parents decided to raise him as a girl. Well, that ended up badly too in the story, because he was a boy. One could say now easily, “see, God doesn’t make mistakes”, as it’s sometimes put, and in this case that would actually be an argument, but what about a boy or girl where there is no “genital doubt” and yet they feel the opposite? Did God make a mistake? I find this such a bad argument. Very damaging.

Especially with transgendered kids I think there is a great burden on those parents. Also because transgenderism is really not understood medically. Nobody really knows why this happens. I’ve seen videos on You Tube where parents, mostly through the hint of their doctor, understand what’s going on and accept their transgendered child as they are. I find that very moving. But it’s still condemned and considered “child abuse” by those who disagree based on their, mainly monotheistic, worldviews.

It’s funny that except for monotheism all cultures I know of accept or accepted these gender variations. Why is that? Apparently it’s not a “new phenomenon”.

Anyway, thanks for your input.

Michelle

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Posted: 23 September 2013 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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TimB - 22 September 2013 05:54 PM

Everyone’s sexuality should be their own, as long as they don’t impose it on any unwilling 2nd party.  If the Bible says differently, I say burn that book in Hell! :)

As far as nostalgia and conservatism goes, I can be nostalgic, without actually wanting things to be the same as they were in the past.  Better to have new experiences to enjoy, and then we can be nostalgic about those in the future.

As far as what passes for Conservatism, these days (actually reactionary insanity) it can burn in Hell also.

I agree, your sexuality or gender identity or attraction or whatever else it is is your own, as you put it, so long as you don’t impose things on others. - I think that some people perceive, let’s use the Gay Pride events as an example, LGBT concerns as trying to impose things on “decent straight people”. But why do these events, like the Gay Pride parades, exist? What was the initial reason for them? Although I’m not well informed on that, but I think it was NYPD police brutality on gays, and one event just had the thing boil over. That’s how this got started. No LGBT person wants to impose anything on anyone. If anything, we, or at least me, just wanna be left alone, live in peace, and not be mistreated. - Thanks for that point.

Oh, I’m very nostalgic too, and your point’s a good one. Let’s enjoy today and then look back at it tomorrow around a little bonfire, making that event just as nostalgic in the future than this one :-)

Conservatism is not a bad thing I think, but certain Conservatism today, say Sean Hannity or that guy that cries all the time… oh my, no, that’s just too much. “Don’t fix what ain’t broken” can be good advice, but sometimes you just need to go forward. I’m sure the old carriages where fine, but we’re still driving cars now.

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Posted: 23 September 2013 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 22 September 2013 06:28 PM

I recall an episode of Bones in which they had a Japanese forensic expert come in.  One of the questions the lab had was whether the person was male or female because he/she/it gave no visual indication of either sex, since there was apparently a Japanese group which seems to (my guess or interpretation) remove the concept of gender from their thinking. 

Occam

Hi Occam, I have no clue about Japanese culture, but gender variety, that is more than two, is certainly accepted in Thailand and India. Maybe in Japan there is no concept at all, no idea, but it seems to me that only monotheistic cultures reject more than two genders, based on Genesis of course. Some Native-American tribes actually revered the “two-spirits” as especially gifted.

A movie that I found very touching concerning this subject is “The Badge”, since you bring up Bones and forensics. Kind of starts with a similar scene, in the lab, and then goes from there. Very good message that movie portrays. Really liked it. It’s with Patricia Arquette and Billy Bob Thornton. But anyway.

Thanks!

Michelle

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Posted: 23 September 2013 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Michelle,

Transgenderism or transsexuality is becoming more and more accepted, BUT mainly in the form of “a man born in a woman’s body” or “a woman born in a man’s body”, in essence retaining a binary gender concept. I do not believe in a binary gender concept, and I wouldn’t belong into one anyway.

I like the way you talk.

Gender-fluid, less commonly genderqueer, are more precise terms for the uh, mix-and-match approach to gender. We may largely be stuck, as a species, with masculine and feminine as our basic categories, although of course they vary some across cultures. Most children quickly and rather stubbornly adopt genders matching the sex (they think) they are, and adults typically spend at least equal time toning down their rigidity as supporting it. Changes in larger society may mitigate but may not ultimately alter this. Evolutionary biology gets boring to invoke without detailed knowledge, but there it is. So two cheers for genders. None of this directly affects the moral standing of being or acting transgender or gender-fluid, but they may always be rare.

Chris Kirk

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Posted: 23 September 2013 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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inthegobi - 23 September 2013 04:14 PM

Michelle,

Transgenderism or transsexuality is becoming more and more accepted, BUT mainly in the form of “a man born in a woman’s body” or “a woman born in a man’s body”, in essence retaining a binary gender concept. I do not believe in a binary gender concept, and I wouldn’t belong into one anyway.

I like the way you talk.

Gender-fluid, less commonly genderqueer, are more precise terms for the uh, mix-and-match approach to gender. We may largely be stuck, as a species, with masculine and feminine as our basic categories, although of course they vary some across cultures. Most children quickly and rather stubbornly adopt genders matching the sex (they think) they are, and adults typically spend at least equal time toning down their rigidity as supporting it. Changes in larger society may mitigate but may not ultimately alter this. Evolutionary biology gets boring to invoke without detailed knowledge, but there it is. So two cheers for genders. None of this directly affects the moral standing of being or acting transgender or gender-fluid, but they may always be rare.

Chris Kirk

Hi Chris, thanks for the response.

That humans (homo sapiens that is) will most likely remain a male / female species, in terms of sex, I certainly agree with. I doubt that this will change. (And even if it would, we wouldn’t be around to see such an evolutionary change.)

Gender, on the other hand, is at once perception or self-perception and societal stereo-type. Cultures play a very large role in this I think. In the typical Judeo-Christian mindset there is no “use” for anyone that is either a man or a woman. (In the Bible, however, there was a use for eunuchs, for example.) In other cultures, such as Indian (India that is) or Native-American in some instances, there is much use for these “neither men nor women” genders. That they exist is a fact, however much denied, but that they are very rare is also a fact, very much agreed.

Thanks for your input.

Michelle

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Posted: 23 September 2013 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I recall a case from a general psychology class.  Twin boys, at birth, had circumcisions.  Something went terribly wrong with one of these.  It was decided to do sex change procedures on this one and to raise him as a girl.  The child did not know about this and as he grew older, he began having gender confusion issues.  (I guess he felt like a boy in a girl’s body.)  I’m not sure what has become of this person.

I’m not sure what point I’m making.  It just occurred to me to share this memory.

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“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb… We are bound to others, past and present… And by each crime and every kindness… We birth our future.”  Sonmi, 2144.

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Posted: 23 September 2013 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I just noticed several details for your icon, and they make sense given this post.

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Posted: 23 September 2013 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Michelle D. - 23 September 2013 03:40 PM

...Conservatism is not a bad thing I think, but certain Conservatism today, say Sean Hannity or that guy that cries all the time… oh my, no, that’s just too much. “Don’t fix what ain’t broken” can be good advice, but sometimes you just need to go forward. I’m sure the old carriages where fine, but we’re still driving cars now.

When I was a kid, I assumed that we would all mostly have flying cars by now.

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“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb… We are bound to others, past and present… And by each crime and every kindness… We birth our future.”  Sonmi, 2144.

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