Exhilarated to find that my vigorous and thorny rose Mermaid has come into bloom after the gardening service erroneously chopped it out seven years ago, sparing only a feeble shoot at one corner of the stump. It is a beauty with its ivory and pale yellow blooms, single-petalled and prolific, throwing out canes several metres long with hooked thorns.
Every now and again I hear from people who don’t believe their decades of drinking affected them other than making them drunk on numerous occasions. This makes no sense at all when we consider how habits shape us and the ways in which we come to think and how our minds are formed. Voluntary service influences how we interact with others; our eating habits are closely related to our levels of fitness; our reading changes the way we see the world and how we communicate; protecting an addiction leads to secretiveness, duplicity and the gradual manufacturing of an ‘as if’ personality, blunted and divided by the desire to drink and the fear of doing so.
So when I read yesterday that Vincent Tabak, the killer of Jo Yeates, spent a great deal of time before and distressingly after her death watching violent pornography, my feeling is that many of his interactions with women may have been blunted and twisted by fantasies of women being degraded or abused. Pornography as a behavioural addiction or fetish is another habit that impacts on personality. Julie Bindel looks at pornography and gender hatred in the Guardian:
There is no simple solution. Eliminating violent pornography will not prevent sexual violence and pornography does not, in and of itself, create men like Tabak. But the normalisation of sadistically violent imagery and the merging of pain, torture, degradation and sexual pleasure reinforces the view held by some men that women are subhuman playthings, and there to be abused.
Enough of that darkness — sometimes I read news reports (the criminality, greed, inhumanity) and feel a need to get out into the garden to breathe clean air and look at a rose with its golden stamens lifted to the sun.