emanix: (emanix)
Subtitle: Seriously, please don't buy me gifts.
---

Dear Peoples,

This year (as I have for the past several years) I am declaring my house a Christmas Free Zone. I am excusing myself from participating in a pointless cultural habit.

Some of it is ideological: I am neither a Christian, a Pagan, nor a Capitalist, and while I think it's nice knowing that Isaac Newton was born on the 25th of December, I think he would appreciate the sentiment of my doing nothing at all to celebrate this fact, because he simply isn't around to see it.

Some of it is more practical: After almost a decade of short-term living situations and an entire year of living out of backpack, the idea of acquiring more Stuff gives me an almost-physical pain. I can't help imagining carrying the extra weight of this new item, whatever it is, or doing the calculation in my head, working out which thing in my already full to capacity backpack I will have to give away, destroy, or otherwise leave behind in order to accommodate this new uninvited guest, however small.

Yes, I have a house right now, but my intention is to sell up and go back to being nomadic in the future. Every gift I receive now will have to be either carried or disposed of in the intervening time, and it hurts my heart to receive beautiful things knowing I can't keep them.

I'm not a complete grinch. I don't want to spoil anyone else's fun. I just question how much 'fun' is really involved in the rituals of compulsory gift-giving, emotional blackmail and gluttony that go alongside a traditional celebration of... what? The birth of a prophet who preached poverty, self-immolation and charitable giving? The turning of the seasons?
Why not, then, spare a thought instead for folks who are less well off? Perhaps those who are out in the cold. Rather than indulging in ridiculously high calorie foods, making oneself miserable, or at best uncomfortable, with overindulgence, why not give the whole damn lot to a food bank? Why not the gifts too? Instead of buying yet another gift set of pre-wrapped toiletries, probably destined barely to be glanced over before being placed on a high shelf and left to gather dust, why not say to your friend, family member, colleague, 'Today I made the world a slightly better place'. Why not give to charity instead, or volunteer your time?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against ever giving gifts. I love gift-giving. I just feel that gifts can happen the other 364 days of the year, for better reasons than 'a historical figure was born over 2000 years ago and probably nowhere near this time of year, so now I have to give you these socks that you didn't ask for...'. I have no objection to giving things to folks, especially if they're useful, wanted, well thought out. If they'll make life genuinely *better* rather than just fulfilling some sort of ritual expectation. I'll probably even be buying gifts for a few people this December, they just won't be christmas gifts.

If you're the sort of person who might have the urge to buy me a gift, I urge you please to reconsider. I have no need of more 'stuff' in my life – in fact, I need less. I have more than enough food, more than enough clothes, a warm place to live. The only thing I'm short on is time. I would rather hear that you had donated to charity on my behalf, or spent some time making the world a better place in some way. Some random act of kindness, or at the very least the carbon-neutral, pollution-free and mostly harmless act that is doing nothing at all.

There will be no christmas cards sent from my house, this year. There will be no tinsel, no baubles, and no tree. There will be no massive christmas dinner, or stressful family visits. Life, in fact, will carry on pretty much as usual, except perhaps a little quieter. Since I first went 'on strike' from christmas, several years ago now, midwinter has become a peaceful contemplative time for me to catch up with myself, my reading, and all of the bits and bobs that have built up through the year. I'll be sorting out my tax return, figuring out what I might be donating to charity on top of the steady stream of possessions I've been giving away over the last few months, and thinking about how I can contribute to the lives of friends and family through the rest of the year. I might get some DIY done.

Whatever I end up doing, I'm rather looking forward to the blissful peace of watching the hustle and bustle of the 'festive season' from a safe distance, and not being involved in any of it.

I guess you could say that this is the gift I'm giving myself.

Love and peace to everyone,

Maxine.

x
emanix: (Default)
Wow it's been a busy month! A lot of new friendships, a may-be new relationship, a lot of new ideas, and a lot of running around.

Idea 1. I love Frolicon!

The first of April saw me at Frolicon - utterly fabulous. Great to see a lot of the people I connected with last year again. And also a certain person that I only briefly bumped into last year, we hit it off *very* well, and I got to hang out with a lovely portion of the polyfamily, too. That was lovely! Now engaged in one of several 'Sooper Sekrit Projects' which involve a great deal of awesome... and tentacles! Frolicon makes me very happy, and it is worth a lot to me to keep going back there. Where else could I find such people? Perhaps not quite so appealing to [livejournal.com profile] werenerd - he and jetlag are not good friends, but I think we'll be back - it was also our anniversary party, after all!

Idea 2. Skeptical Tantra.

Barely had time to breathe in London, catch up on work and spend a little time with my other primary before [livejournal.com profile] werenerd and I were off to a Tantra weekend where I yelled at the instructor for spouting sexist drivel, but also was inspired by the challenge of taking what is good and valuable from these practices (and there certainly *are* parts that are good and valuable) and separating it from the pseudoscience and religious babble.
I realise I'm pretty well-placed to do this. I've been studying sex in a casually academic sense for some 20 years*, I have useful knowledge of the real science behind the pseudoscience, and I have worked for and with a tantra school, one of the teachers for which is conveniently a housemate. It's a hell of an undertaking, but the groundwork is there already that would make it possible, and I feel it would be useful to the world. I'm giving this some serious thought.

Idea 3. Rethinking my views on long-distance relationships.

Once upon a time I swore I woudn't ever have another long-distance relationship, mostly based on the fact that every time I have done it's caused me immense stress thanks to partners being not okay with polyamory (often after previously having been fine with it). These days I might flirt with an openly poly person who lived a bit further away, but had been keeping them somewhat casual out of wariness. My experience of poly thus far is that it works better when partners are local. Perhaps, though, if the person(s) concerned are poly activists, it might in fact be worth taking that chance? It's not as if I don't have plenty of long-distance friendships. I still can't see myself taking on a new relationship with a person that isn't already poly, though. I just don't have that kind of energy these days. One policy change at a time, I think!

Idea 4. Being a 'Superhero'.

Having watched 'Kick-Ass', (which was awesome and you all want to see it!) I went home thinking about 'if I was a superhero, what would I call myself?' I came up with the name 'Polly Amorous' and was amazed to discover that this was in fact available as a web domain, so I impulse-bought it and am now considering what to put there. Suggestions welcomed!

Two vaguely serious thoughts followed - one related to my post on being SAMOTURE: that actually, we *are* all responsible for the state of the world we live in, and taking the cop-out option to be bystanders in our own lives... well, it just plain sucks.
From the film: "with no power comes no responsibility... except that's not true."
How does one encourage heroism anyway?

Secondly, that poly people often seem to be considered 'other' by the media in the same way that superheroes are. Every article I read lately seems to include some phrase equivalent to 'this is not for the average Joe', whereas I would protest that we are very much normal people, just normal people with one slightly different belief. I really feel the need to challenge that perception.
So... there will no doubt be related rants, cartoons, essays and other stuff on www.PollyAmorous.com - watch this space!

Idea 5. Boobquake! Today!

Encountered on twitter, details are here: http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html
In the name of science I shall be also be trotting around town this evening wearing the most immodest dress I can, and my lovely housemate [livejournal.com profile] getoffmoiland will be joining me. Pics later!

Join the #boobquake on Twitter! For Science!

Next month looks to be equally busy, so I intend to spend much of next week being a 'hermit', attempting to get some artwork done, and getting a little rest in if I can, as well. I shall be remaining in South London, and not allowing people to entice me into town during the evenings, which are always (annoyingly) the most productive part of my day.

Love to everybody!




*For the hyperobservant of you, yes really. I said academic, not in a physical manner. That came a little later.
emanix: (Default)
(...because not all of my defining features are about sex)

Defining my Terms: Radical Agnostic - a part of my essay series talking about concepts that I find important to my life and way of thinking.

(This one will probably be edited repeatedly, though I'll try not to change the sense of it - if I do, I'll make it a new post)

I often refer to myself as a Radical Agnostic, but what does the phrase actually mean?

Agnostic, then - from the root 'a' meaning 'without' and 'gnostic' referring to knowledge. An agnostic person is a person who *does not know*. I'm not saying that there is a God, but nor am I saying there is not. What I am saying is that it's impossible to know, and that anyone who claims to know that there definitely is or isn't a God (or higher power in the universe of some sort) is, quite frankly, talking out of their backside. This brings me to the 'Radical' bit, which I pinched from Douglas Adams having heard him talk about being a Radical Atheist. Basically I add the 'Radical' to let people know that I really mean it.

Let me expand a bit...

I'm most certainly not a Christian, though I think he was a decent enough chap, for his day, and generally preached some sensible things. Be good to others, feed the needy, that sort of thing. For his day, he was pretty darned enlightened, and good on him. Son of God? I'm distinctly unconvinced. I'm afraid I find myself extremely unconvinced by the Old Testament too, for that matter. The whole idea of an all-powerful deity who 'loves' mankind (but only certain bits of it, depending on who you listen to) and wants us all to obey a rather arbitrary set of rules in order to hop up to the next level of enlightenment, computer game style... well, it all sounds rather far-fetched, to be honest. I'm not much impressed with the concept of most of the other god types out there either. I'm all for love, joy and world peace, but I find I'm incapable of believing in any omnipotent being that particularly gives a damn about the human race. It's just too unlikely.

And yet... I can't say for definite that there's nothing out there either. I have a vivid imagination, and can wot of quite a lot of things. For all we know perhaps we are the equivalent of some macroscopic computer game. Maybe there really is a god-like being up there that wants us to jump through these particular hoops because if he* can talk enough people into staying virgins until after marriage or whatever the particular religious oddity, then he'll score 1000 points and get to fight the big boss at the end of the level. I suspect it's not very likely, but I have no absolute proof that this isn't the case... and neither have you.

Science has limitations, and while it can tells us lots of things about the universe - what, when, where, how, which, who and so forth, it fails on a couple of important philosophical questions. One of which is 'why?' what's the point of it all? Science can't say much about that at all. Nor can science say much about what exactly put the universe here in the first place. Where did the big bang come from? What happened *before*? And religion - religion likes to say 'God came before' (occasionally with a slightly more complex backstory involving some being's entrails, and some other being's mischief, or someone giving birth to someone else, or whatever) but this only removes the same question by one more step - where did God come from? What came before God?

It's a question that I firmly believe is unanswerable, because every step further just leads to the same question again. Like the next digit of pi, like prime numbers, the question of what came before, or what comes next only leads to further study. Even if the universe is a loop, as some believe, it's no answer to how it came into being, or what will be afterwards.
My imagination loves the idea that someday there might be a unified God-plus-Universe theory that explains Everything, and somehow involves superstrings, the wiccan rede, and everything being inextricably interconnected, but I'm sure even if that happens there will still be the 'but where did *that* come from?' question.

So my 'religious certainty' is that we can't ever know, and rather than wasting time arguing about it, we may as well get used to living without the knowledge - perhaps even learn to appreciate the mystery. I'm also quite certain that it doesn't matter, because moral behaviour makes very rational sense, and I'll come back to that in a later post.




*Yeah, I know, male pronoun - in the context of giant godlike gamer geek I'm going to stick to the male stereotype, okay?

July 2015

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