Monday, 15 August 2016

Recovery, honesty & Netflix

As I gain more insight into my mental processes, I become hopeful that there is a way to loosen up the constraints around my brain gradually and let it breathe. Seeing my psych more often gives my health that extra boost, even as I'm not making full use of the services offered. I've been invited to write to her between sessions, just one email which could be lengthy, but that's not how I work. I like to express myself in short bursts, so that I'm more easily able to defend my streams of consciousness from anyone who would like to find fault with them. Adding to a draft over time makes me feel insecure, in more than one way - I have lost online data in the past, which makes me doubt the wisdom of leaving work vulnerable to unexpected technology failure.

Something I keep learning about myself is that I love and value honesty in the people around me. I crave it. Thankfully I surround myself with people who fulfil that need. It takes the pressure to match a low level of openness off. Instead I aspire to be as honest as I can be, because that's what my friends and lover are doing too. To paraphrase Laurie Penny, talking honestly about feelings will never be cool. It's not a mainstream art and it never will be, not when the circulation of myths, falsehoods and half-truths is so high. But being honest allows you to be yourself without a layer of anxiety that accompanies remembering what white lie you told to whom, at what time. I've been there. It's not pretty. I sometimes relapse into insincerity, but less and less as I go.

I had no intention of joining Netflix until I saw it enthusiastically devoured by my partner. Right now I'm enjoying Jessica Jones (having just finished episode 5), which has helped me in ways it would be hard to articulate. The protagonist is gender nonconforming in that she doesn't have any friends, lacks social and nurturing skills, and demonstrates repeated physical superiority over almost everyone else in her world, to mention a few. Perhaps just as importantly, she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Now, I do have friends. Sometimes I feel like I don't have enough time to myself because I cultivate so many friendships, but there was a time when I had almost none, and felt painfully lonely. That kind of isolation can be self-perpetuating. You feel bad because you're isolated, and you're isolated because your bad feelings prevent you from appealing to a broad range of people. Jessica Jones speaks to that part of me that will always be alone.

It doesn't speak to my sense of atheist Buddhist vibes. The character is intrusive and inconsiderate - she scores higher on aggression that I feel comfortable identifying with. Then there's the guns, seemingly a staple of anything vaguely action-themed coming from American shores. And there was a case of slut-shaming in the episode I saw today that made me cringe. Jessica disparaged the name 'Jewel' as sounding as if it ought to belong to a very 'slutty stripper'. As opposed to every other female character who has our sympathies, who is non-slutty, and hence good. Oh, why am I even using the word slutty in the first place?

But... there was a visual representation of cunnilingus, which made me happy. And it is made clear that while a male accomplice, the third addition to the previously all-female team, could be useful, he is not necessary. Also, the men these women sleep with tend to reveal more flesh than their partners in their respective domestic settings. There is clearly a progressive aesthetic at work here, and it's refreshing.

I have some other TV shows lined up: Orange is the new black, Firefly and Sense8. Occupied viewings are reserved for time spent with my girl, as we admire the greater number and influence of women on the universe of the Norwegian drama. People have long been saying that some of the best filmic texts out there are in the televisual form, and now I'm finally seeing what all the fuss is about.

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