Thursday, 15 June 2017

Relativism and four lights

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Chain of Command', captain Picard finds himself captured by the enemy [1], who attempt to obtain crucial information from him through torture. As part of this torture, Picard is made fully dependent on the person who performs the torture. All Picard has to do is to give into this person's demands, answer his questions and the pain will stop. All he has to do is admit that there are in fact five lights.

The lights in question are bright lights mounted behind the desk of the torturer. There are in fact four of them. Yet towards Picard it is constantly stated that there are in fact five lights, and that he just isn't seeing things right. After being rescued, Picard admits that, near the end, he had begun to believe that he was actually seeing five lights.

When I first watched that episode, it was still years before I would embark on my quest to figure out what my body is, and it was just an interesting story to me, with a deep psychological insight in the effects of torture and mental manipulation. As I now recall the episode's story, it has taken on a far more gruesome note to me, however.

For me there weren't four, nay, five lights. For me there was the knowledge and realisation that what I was seeing was a body that was intersex, yet when put in the room with my torturers (doctors, psychologists, etc.), they'd persist in their notion that I was seeing things wrong. My body was not intersex, or even feminine, but just that of a male.

Much like with what Picard went through in this episode there were many times when I got offered what seemed like a way out. I just had to admit that my torturer is right and everything will be fine. Just admit that I'm not intersex. That I don't look like a woman. That I'm a transgender male. They'll make sure everything will be fine if I just admit to the truth.

Picard was locked in this room and couldn't just walk away from the torturing. I was, and still am, locked inside my body and cannot walk away from the torturing. Not unless I destroy this body. The four lights are always there. I can see them. I know that there are four. Not five.

I only have to glance in the mirror or catch my reflection to see my female curves. I know that my body produces its own female hormones without assistance, from the ovaries with which I was born. I know that my body is not that of a male. That'd be as ridiculous as to say that four lights are in fact five lights. Yet for twelve years and counting that's what doctors, psychologists and kin have been trying to convince me of.

Fortunately since the end of 2015 there has been a shift in this behaviour, with me finding more and more doctors and psychologists who agree that there are four lights, not five. Yet most still seem to believe that there are five lights and that convincing me of this very fact is paramount to my emotional well-being. Even as severe post-traumatic stress disorder and related traumas have been diagnosed by me and I undergo intensive psychotherapy in order to cope with this trauma.

I do not feel that I have been freed yet from this torture. Not while I'm still surrounded by people who insist that my perception of reality is false. That four lights are in fact five lights. That I am dreaming this body of mine, and so on. The torture sessions continue. Relentlessly.

I guess the most comforting thought throughout this is the one which played again through my head yesterday after I headed back outside after work. Whilst descending the stairs, I pictured myself as just a collection of electric impulses zipping through the neurons which make up this brain of mine. A brain suspended in spinal fluid, inside a bony cavity, itself suspended on a spinal column connected to limbs which move this entire contraption around.

Sensors are how we - as a neural network - perceive the world around us. Yet we also make up so many stories around it, adding our own interpretations and flourishes. How much of that is truly real? Aren't we in the end just these weird, biological constructions which lumber around on this planet's surface? Isn't that what humanity in the end is, with everything else just dreamed up inside these bony prisons?



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