Ma’at vs Isfet

It was weird but informative when my brain gave me that dream looking back at different stuff in the 2010s, and I’m glad I didn’t actually remember a full list (brainweasels would’ve had a field day). However, it does provide some context for why I seem to follow such a random assortment of bloggers on tumblr when I’m not in their community. For a small amount of time in 2016, I dipped my toe in Kemeticism, but I’ve actually been following some Kemetics longer than that.

Trying to figure out current religious labeling and community is better left to another post, but I haven’t had the clearance to interact with that pantheon since 2016. Functionally, I pretty much haven’t been part of that community for the past four years because I don’t really have the “saying the words to call on or invoke Someone without actually getting Their attention” option for rites, festivals, heka, or basically anything that’s served as a community building device in recent years on tumblr. I’m supposed to be playing in a different polytheistic sandbox, so even poking around at the Duat or worldview level topics gets a bit dicey.

So, naturally, I sat on and poked at Ma’at as a System (covers each system and explains how ma’at is regenerative), Isfet as a System (explains disorder within a system and how isfet is degenerative), and A Proposed Model for Determining Ma’at vs. Isfet (expanding on the prior two posts on how to determine if something counts as ma’at or isfet in personal and larger systems in our lives taking into account the frequency, context, scope, and scale of an (in)action). Admittedly, I haven’t really kept a close eye on discussions of ma’at, isfet, and how to live out those decisions over the years because some of it comes across as an intracommunity matter. I’m not really aware of a parallel in the sandbox I’m supposed to be in, but I’m also a solitary who’s used to setting aside the technical details of ethical differences in order to work with people on a shared goal.

Does it matter if Set or Loki bring the type of change and stress that’s supposed to help a system grow? Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to make the change any less uncomfortable or painful. Does it matter if ma’at or something else leads someone to the same practically oriented community assistance? I don’t think so. From the third post (emphasis mine):

“There is a phrase, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” and that’s truly visible when using this model. When it comes to most larger systems, such as supply chains, economies, and governments — nothing is currently sustainable, and as such, is degenerative in nature […] The context of every action is important, because I think it’s vital that we remember that so much of our day to day lives are built on practices that are not sustainable (aka degenerative), and often hurt marginalized countries and peoples the hardest. While a singular act on a small scale is relatively harmless, when considering the full scope of the process of that act even being available to you — the true harm often comes into focus.

This, of course, muddies the water because it can be ethically confusing to determine how on earth to do anything without putting energy into an inherently isfetian system, but that’s also why engaging in activism, being politically active, and holding those in positions of power accountable is all the more important. I would argue that not doing so leans you towards isfet, because it means you’re choosing to ignore the degenerative systems that are eating away at the regenerative system that is you.”

For those who didn’t read each linked piece in its entirety, from the isfet post and specifically the section about scale and context:

“One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure to clarify is that in many situations, isfet is not a singular action, but a series of actions or a trend that occurs over a period of time. Disorder is often like a crescendo: it starts off small and quiet. A few things here, a few things there. But then it slowly builds until it becomes a pattern, a habit, a trend. Something that happens consistently time and time again, which slowly takes a toll on the resilience of the system it is antagonizing.”

TTR used examples relating to climate change across the posts. Some bloggers I follow would probably use the rise of surveillance and data sharing of tech companies, legislators and courts chipping away at a variety of rights, or some other facet of late stage capitalism. I’m not sure anyone’s brainweasels could handle the full blow-by-blow of what all could demonstrate disorder developing into a pattern of a degenerative system because it would just get too overwhelming. As surprising as it may seem (considering some of my brainweasels are devoted to anxiety), the ending portion of the isfet post really keeps catching my attention (emphasis mine):

“I mentioned in the first post that in this modern era we have built up this sort of facade that we are somehow separate and untouchable from the natural systems we were born into, but it’s simply not true. The more degenerative the system we live in becomes, the more necessary and, frankly, involuntary it’ll be for people to participate in fixing the problems at hand.

Maintaining ma’at is the responsibility of all of us. Even if you’re avoiding it now, eventually you may not have that luxury.”

Yes, the final post has example questions for personal and large scale systems that show how someone can translate these posts into practical questions. But. Personally, as someone who’s in a nebulous area in terms of community and has to cobble a path together, it’s the living a regenerative effect and affecting the here-and-now that stands out. I can’t hinge anything on what might happen to me after I die, and it may be a long, miserable life if I do nothing, so I might as well embrace the opportunity to ease into working on removing disorder from a few systems while we still have a choice.

 

tl;dr I like the framework of ma’at and isfet as systems even though I’m honestly not the intended audience for a proposal of how to talk about Kemetic ethics. Despite the inherent Kemeticism of the proposal, I appreciate and am interested in this system because it doesn’t require deity interaction, whether that’s the NTWR or trying to figure out one of my People.

Aro Community Wishlist

CoA prompt for Nov 2019 – “Aro Community Wishlists” [Call for Submissions] [tumblr crosspost] [Roundup]. The tumblr post was on 1 Dec 2019 and the link included in the roundup; this post has been scheduled in January 2020 in the hopes that will avoid link/pingback confusion. (I’ll try to remember to update later with the Carnival of Aros WP or user’s roundup link.)

A by no means exclusive wishlist:

Resources: For mental health professionals.

Despite previously internally freaking out about disclosure to the intake counselor, I actually stuck with simply answering questions without diving into explanations. I vagueblogged about it, but it would just take a little tweaking to phrasing on their questionnaire to reduce the mental translation.

Q: How long was your last [context: romantic] relationship?

Thanks for assuming that I’ve had one. Now, instead of filling in the amount of time, I have to add an answer the system wasn’t prepared for.

Q: How many intimate [translation: sexual] partners have you had?

Please just cut to the chase if you mean sex because intimacy isn’t exclusively sexual, and I’ll wind up with a different answer than what you’re trying to ask if I pick apart what an intimate partner means. (My first thought was emotional intimacy after having a question where I had to answer if I had someone “as a support”, but I can overshare emotional shit with far more people than I’ve “been sexually intimate with”.)

I would also appreciate if I knew I could mention quoi, greyro, or the aro spectrum in passing without needing to walk the therapist I’ll be assigned (for the actual counseling) through basic terms. I made a point of asking for an LGBTQ-aware therapist in order to hopefully avoid that for basic trans terms, but I honestly don’t know what they’re going to know yet.

Resources: For other health professionals.

It kind of depends on the area in question if a medical person really needs to grok a-spec identities or could get by with introductory knowledge, but if someone’s intake questionnaire only asks me about sexual orientation, I would ideally like to know they’d understand my answers if I were honest. This whole five answer deal doesn’t give me a lot of faith – 1) Hetersexual, 2) Homosexual, 3) Bisexual, 4) Other with space to write in, and 5) Choose not to disclose. I must admit that I wouldn’t really expect every medical specialist to ask, but if I have to get referred to someone dealing with sexual health, I really wish someone could offer them some training or something.

(Please not that I used ‘a-spec’ on purpose here. I know aros don’t want to be lumped in with aces while forming a separate community, but if we’re talking about updating that intake questionnaire and general awareness, someone should also be brought in to cover the ace part. As much as the split attraction model isn’t helpful for some a-spec people, it provides a quick way to explain why anyone is even trying to talk about aromanticism when the question was about sexual orientation. And fixing the gender choices under that section (also vented about). Like, thanks for the attempt, but please, actually do the LGBTQIA+ friendly thing right.)

Intra-Community: If general aro spaces are set up to be romance free for the romance-repulsed, what do the romance-confused do?

It’s where the quoi in the greyro/quoi really shines through, but I struggle with how I’m supposed to warn for romo [link] or contribute to something like RomoAlert [link]. Granted, some of these questions are community level works in progress, but when romance is a nebulous, ‘red-orange, qamuSHa’,  4i’ situation, it can come across like it’s horribly easy to set off romance-repulsion and make fellow aros uncomfortable. [qamuSHa’ means “I love you” in Klingon, which is being used as ‘language I assume the reader also does not know’ in the metaphor.]

Intra-Community/Subgroup: So . . . those quoiromantic folks?

It’s one thing to opt out of interacting with specific romance-repulsed users, but if I extend non-interaction to general aro spaces, I wouldn’t really have much of an aro community to interact with. It’s possible that spaces that make room for romance-favorability might be easier to navigate because I won’t be setting of someone’s repulsion on accident, but that doesn’t really solve the larger issue of how to handle quoiromantic interaction within aro spaces. (Not to mention that romance-favorability is sometimes talked about as if it’s a small, confusing, practically mythical section of the aro community, so telling quoiromantic people to just go hang out with the romance-favorable aros doesn’t actually come across as helpful.)

At least on tumblr, there’s a lot of pride merchandise and including quoi in aro-spec lists, so I’m writing from the assumption that quoiros are supposed to be included in the aro community. (See “(What) does the aro community want (with) quoiros?” [link] for a more uncertain take.) I’m not entirely sure where else people who don’t jive with romantic attraction, don’t understand it, and may not be able to differentiate it from other forms of attraction are supposed to go. Maybe quoiros could chill with the idemromantics, some of the nebularomantics, who knows how many others. *shrug* But, like, what will the aro community do?

I’m not saying that quoi/greyro people like myself should take over the limelight and be the focus of general aro resources, but sometimes, there’s a feeling akin to thinking your carpool group will remember you (you have a designated seat in the back and everything) only to realize that they’re rushing to your location because the driver forgot you. I don’t want to become the driver of the carpool just so I’ll get remembered, y’know? Mostly, I don’t want to feel like an afterthought that’s inconveniencing others with last minute accommodations, or something along those lines.

Subgroup: Aros who may experience hypersexuality.

I know I’ve seen acknowledgement (#positivity), but that doesn’t feel the same as actually addressing hypersexuality. Hypersexuality is talked about separately from allo/ace as self-identifiers because it’s not a sexual orientation, so a hypersexual aro may be allosexual, asexual, gray, demi, etc. However, when it comes to how aro community spaces are talked about, discussions of sex and sexuality can get roughly sorted under alloaro, so it’s likely a hypersexual person of any sexual orientation will utilize alloaro resources unless sex related discussions are not designated as happening in solely alloaro spaces.

~ Do aroaces want their own spaces for any discussions of hypersexuality in the aro community? Do they want to utilize ace community spaces? What about aros who aren’t comfortable with and/or don’t use the allo/ace division? I’m honestly not sure, but the impression that any aro who needs a space that allows sexual discussions is an alloaro means the seemingly common reassurance that alloaros aren’t “using” or manipulating sexual partners can fall flat.

Now, I am *not* saying that all hypersexual people, across the board, do in fact use and manipulate people, but it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how hypersexual aros can be portrayed as an example of a negative stereotype or be misinterpreted as attacking alloaros if they come in with questions or concerns about manipulating people.

~ How do hypersexual aros balance talking about negative symptoms/side effects/episodes, which may for example involve impulsively hooking up, with the need for alloaros to have an environment that’s affirming of such experiences?

~ How do hypersexual aros balance talk of management tactics (celibacy, reducing sexual encounters, etc.) with pushback that a less than welcoming attitude is bringing in sex negativity, or accusations that an ace is trying to take over the conversation?

Hypersexuality doesn’t always manifest as partnered sex, but it’s the most immediate example that I can think of that intersects with common alloaro talking points. Also, I must admit that I’m not 100% sure to what extent flirting and romantic impulsivity are tied to allo-allo expressions of hypersexuality (in which starting a new romantic relationship is tied up together with the sexual impulsivity), or romantic impulsivity is a possible manifestation of hypersexuality that’s not separated out in most resources.

(It’s only been through brief mentions in personal perspectives from others describing their (hypo)mania that I’ve seen some specificity about romantic impulsivity (focusing on flirting), but I’m not aware of any of them being on the aro spectrum. I’m also not sure how separate this may be for others who experience hypersexuality.)

The Baggage of Love

CoA prompt for Dec 2019 – “Love” [Call for Submissions] [tumblr crosspost] [Roundup]. The tumblr post was on 31 Dec 2019 and the link included in the roundup; this post has been scheduled after the roundup to avoid link/pingback confusion.

Family

In terms of feeling (personal experience) and topic (impersonal), there’s an iceberg when approaching familial love (and the lack thereof). I don’t have the spoons for poking at the effects of our parents’ lives on us, divorce, growing up in an essentially single parent house, or the fragility of familial love, usually framed in terms of acceptance, around queer and trans identities. Other people have written about the popularity of the Found Family trope in queer fandom, intergenerational trauma, and all kinds of family stuff, and I am but a simple blogger. I do remember that it was first with my family that I was exposed to the concept of love and saying that I loved them, and when push comes to shove, it’s not uncommon for stories to default to parental love as an important element of a character’s story (‘at least their family will always be there for them’).

Familial love can be fraught with complications of our own parent-child or caretaker-child baggage (if grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. raised us), but I suspect there are some aros who would say that it’s a different flavor of love from what’s talked about in relation to aromanticism. The whole offspring thing is a whole ‘nother can of worms that could be a separate CoA prompt, but I can see child rearing being separate from the alloromantic relationship elevator in a way that isn’t incompatible with being aro, even if co-parenting is usually presented romantically in most media. (At least, off the top of my head, I associate it with ‘becoming a step-parent’ narratives, but that doesn’t mean non-romantic co-parenting isn’t out there.)

Friends

I know I’ve seen it cross my dash about not emphasizing platonic love over romantic love or over emphasizing friends as a means of ‘aros are still human’, but I didn’t save links for an idea of how discussions about prioritizing friendship have been happening. On the one hand, I can understand how uncomfortable and alienating this can be for aplatonic aros, but on the other hand, I spend most of my time in the allo-allo world with people who clearly prioritize romantic love over friendships, so it feels like I don’t actually experience very much prioritization of friendship. I don’t mean that the aro community shouldn’t be cautious of prioritizing platonic love and relationships. It’s more of a personal balancing act, but I’m not quite finding the right words for what I want to say right now.

(Aside: When I think of love that hasn’t been otherwise specified, I think of the middle school banter with some of my friends – something like a minor inconvenience leads to “I hate you” “Aw, I love you, too” – juxtaposed against feeling blindsided in high school that, apparently, I’m misleading others if I say ‘I love you’ to a friend. Unbeknownst to me, I was dating someone for about two or three months in 9th grade because of that. I think of wanting to tell someone that I was proud of them facing one of their fears during the course of that day’s work (“I love you for trying”). I think of reassuring friends that I care about them.)

When I think of just the word ‘love’, I think of an amorphous, unspecific feeling love that seems to reasonably include friendships. Some posts that were probably meant to stay personal/venting posts from aro bloggers use love to mean romance, but sometimes, that feels about as restrictive as allo-allo people assuming I must be dating a friend in order to say love. I may not feel as comfortable saying it out loud anymore, but I still love my friends in a way that’s hard to name or specify any further yet isn’t romantic.

So-Called “Puppy Love”

I feel like I’ve explained this before, but I have memories of crushes that have faded and become hard to translate to present/future perceptions. One of my past rounds of shadow work was specifically aimed at recovering from a crush on a friend ending our friendship, and I’ve always been embarrassed to talk about it, particularly as the final straw that set off one of my depressive episodes in high school. ~ One of those overperforming emos writing sad poetry about an unrequited crush? The emotional dysregulation of experiencing the first major heartbreak and becoming a depressed teen stereotype? ~ It was cringey before calling things cringey was a thing. (Also, please don’t go looking for my middle/high school era DA account where that’s been immortalized.)

In hindsight, I can recognize a whole bunch of comparatively minor crushes were probably more based on aesthetic attraction because they didn’t actually come with the same type of ‘butterflies’ and daydreaming about hypothetical futures. The crushes that were more substantial and had to be accommodated were more likely on friends, and it faired better to just wait out the feelings with no disclosure. I can think of at least one occasion where I was semi-aware that my crush was aesthetically based and I didn’t actually want to date him, but that awareness didn’t come along until undergrad. The last situation I definitely call a crush was in Sophomore year of undergrad and involved a friend, who in the past year found out about it and wasn’t upset or anything. (Shout out to friendship that can survive accidentally revealing that time I had a crush on her because she follows my tumblr.)

The Lightning Incident (as I so creatively refer to it) was this random, out of the blue event in my (I believe) Senior year of undergrad where my brain just kinda blanked, I felt internally giddy, and I just forgot how to speak while a cute girl I didn’t know was talking to me. Like, I just mentally shut down a bit and wandered away from the salad bar in a daze. For sheer experience on my end, I’m including it here, but I’ve still never been sure if it was a crush because my brain forgetting how to talk is incredibly counterproductive to interaction (and hasn’t happened before). I felt incredibly nervous talking to her during future conversations, but it didn’t quite feel the same as what I’ve experienced as a crush before. (I’m also 99% sure she never picked up on any of my internal weird feeling experiences and hasn’t found out since then, so yay me for keeping a lid on that.)

Love is a Four-Letter Word

Originally, I had something about hearing the line attributed to this section from a cartoon villain and the presentation of an inability to love in some form as a shortcut to villain coding planned, but then, in the midst of ‘pre-headache brain static’, I remembered a line from a post, “M is for the lack of madness | Called love that others see” (‘Aromantic’ acrostic poem). For a certain amount of aros, it’s probably just a relatable line, and they don’t necessarily give it much thought. I still haven’t been able to figure out how I feel about equating love to madness. On the one hand, there’s somewhat of a literary tradition, so it’s not exactly a new idea:

“Love is merely a madness and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do, and the reason why they are not so punished and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love, too” (As You Like It, Act 3 scene 2, No Fear Shakespeare link).

On the other hand, I have complicated feelings around the idea because of my own mental health issues. But if a crush ended a friendship that was important to me in high school, and it was tied up with depression, doesn’t that make it sorta relatable? Maybe for someone else, but I wind up thinking about the ashamed teen who couldn’t explain what was wrong in such a way to be believed and get help because it was ‘just an unrequited crush I would outgrow quickly’, and the isolation of not being able to talk to anyone about a same-gender crush that didn’t help the depression. I may not have had to face homosexuality being listed as a paraphilia, sexual orientation disturbance, or other listing in the DSM, but that didn’t necessarily mean it was a supportive atmosphere to reach out to ‘trusted’ adults.

I don’t have the energy to poke at other relevant details around my mental health right now, but there’s a certain knee jerk reaction to feel uncomfortable with the implication that an element of a romantic, sexual, or otherwise specified orientation may get people called crazy. I know aros are usually trying to joke about alloromantics (punching up, as it were), and no one wants to disclaimer their posts for every little thing. It’s entirely possible I’m overthinking this, and it’s bumping up against other baggage (around gender therapy and not being ‘too mentally ill to be believed’, for example), but I would rather not have ‘love is madness’ be a thing that people try to fold into permanent aro infrastructure. (The use of ‘love’ to mean ‘romantic love’ might also cast too wide a net and people who use ‘love’ non-romantically might think they’re being included.) If someone wants to call me ‘mad’, I’ve got brain shenanigans and symptoms to use as justification instead.

“not gay as in happy, but queer as in i love you”

There’s something about the first half of this post [link] that seems suited for spoken word poetry, and I don’t know how to translate my feelings into a written reply or commentary. However, I want to end with this because it scratches a hopepunk itch, and since I’m wrapping up this post on New Year’s Eve 2019, I feel like I could use a little hope for 2020. Maybe love is a messy concept that’s broad and narrow, felt by everyone and felt by no one (depending on each definition), and carries only as much meaning as you give it. Maybe love has no inherent feeling that’s universal, and it’s all down to action and inaction, like radical kindness. (I don’t know.)

Loki’s Virtual Temple – January 2017

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it, it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

Please enjoy the January installment of Loki’s virtual temple (my personal contribution to the Virtual Temple Project). Feel free to share it with anyone you think would enjoy this contemplative online polytheist space.


Accounting for January
Incense – $0 (used existing supplies)
Tea – $0 (used my own)
Candles and dressing – $0 (used existing supplies)

A $20 sponsorship was received for the purchase of flowers. Sponsor(s) may choose to be thanked in the video and will receive a portion of the item(s) they supported and other ritual supplies that can be used for personal devotional work. I am very grateful to have received support that helped make this video possible.


Community support helps sustain Loki’s virtual temple and make possible further developments. More information about donation and sponsorship can be found here.

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