by j-a

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November, 2003

11-1-03

Still recovering from my bout of doubt, worry, and anxiety prompted by the temporary loss of my website, I begin to review my site with an eye toward revising it and removing some of the more controversial or mundane pages. But as I read it this morning, I find that I'm quite satisfied with it. It wasn't the content that bothered me so much as it was the syndrome.

11-2-03

Feeling sometimes quite all right, other times feeling anxious, depressed, and/or out-of-it, I span these transitional months between nodes of height and depth, pulled in two directions, increasingly more quickly toward the latter as the mother earth-object tilts its face away from the sight of the father-god sun. It's like lying in a hospital bed in traction, the mass of the earth gravely acting on the lower limbs via weights hung from them through pulleys while the torso strains, remaining prone, and the stark artificial light struggles with the divided psyche to keep the spirits up.

11-3-03

Either you're in communion with everyone, whether they know it or not; or you're in communion with no one, but rather suffering an illusion. It is the nature of communion that it is non-exclusive. If you refuse to receive symbolic communion from a gay bishop of the Anglican Church, or if you refuse to receive literal communion via the words and empathy of any other single person, you are not at that time a conscious member of the Body of Christ. And isn't this the whole point, consciousness? (Unconscious communion is ubiquitous, despite what we may think.) Aren't we supposed to develop toward a perfect communion where our mutual awareness negates the human propensity toward sin? Church members who refuse symbolic communion for political or personal purposes deny essential Christianity.

It gave me a three-day respite from the blues, and clarity came into my life, and I have to remind myself by writing this down that all the bad stuff does pass if you can wait it out. You forget when you're in the middle of it, so during that three-day break I slapped this note on the refrigerator door: "Richard, you are a good and loving person, and all bad stuff does pass, so remember that the next time you get down and think that you've always been down and always will be down, since that's paranoia and it gets you nowhere. You're just in one of your Fyodor Dostoyevski moods--do yourself a favor and forget it!"
...

When I finally saw the rising of the sun and heard the birds chirping to greet the new day, I went to the refrigerator, where I saw my recent affirmation: Richard, you are a good and loving person," etc. I ripped it off the refrigerator and tore it into a thousand tiny pieces. Only an idiot would write something like that.

Thom Jones, "Cold Snap"
This is what I do, nearly every day, when I write into my journal and then later edit the most naive parts of it away. Or leave it where it lays because I happen to think it might be somehow worthwhile, but I can't bring myself to post it in a public forum. Or I weave it into my fiction as the thoughts of someone more naive than I want to think that I myself am. If I must insist on writing myself naive notes as journal entries, the least I can do is develop the good sense and taste to later tear them up.

11-4-03

Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damned depressed.
So I set my sites on Monday, and I got myself undressed.
America, "Sister Golden Hair"
Wilkinsburg at the intersection of Penn Ave. and Coal St.: this location is like the inside of a home that we live in, Mom, Dad, I, and a number of others, as if the local residents near this intersection are all a part of our family. [Neighborhood as family; a social phenomenon.] I realize I'm late for work and am hurrying to get ready. I was supposed to be there at eleven-thirty, and it's eleven-thirty now. [When I awaken a little bit later, it's nearly eleven o'clock, and so, still groggy, I think I still have time.] I can't find any pants to wear, and the ones I'm wearing are not appropriate for work. They're gray and pinstriped, as if they used to belong to a suit, except I have only one pinstriped suit and it's blue. I remember (as a part of the dream logic; not reality) having had these pants for a long time and they never belonged to a suit. Within the dream, I imagine myself at work in the printed circuit department, wearing these pants, feeling out-of-place and awkward. Back at "home," I look around for other clothes to wear and suddenly realize that I am also supposed to be at school, at the Community College. I fear that, if I do not start going to some classes soon, I'm going to be left behind and unable to catch up. I experience a conscious conflict between my job and going to school. I can't do both at the same time; but now I'm doing neither, perhaps because of the conflict, which is forcing me into inaction. A kid in the street finds a wallet, which used to be mine, but which I had forgotten about. CUT TO an entryway to the college, as if it's one of those small areas between two sets of doors¥, except that it's extended into a longer hallway: I enter into negotiations with the kid to get the wallet back. It's a complicated wallet, filled with a lot of clear plastic pockets with pieces of paper with my handwriting on them, notes to myself; apparently, this used to be an organizational device of mine, not so much a scheduling device as a way to keep my mental categories orderly (which is pretty much what my daytimer/scheduler really is). I very much want to retrieve this lost information, but when I take one of the small pieces of paper out of the wallet, the kid objects and almost starts to cry. Of course, I don't want to upset him. [When I, as an adult, start to take away my (kid's) "find," it upsets me = if I choose to do the "social" things that I must do instead of the personal things that I want to do, I am unhappy; a triumph of ego/superego over id.] So I tell him that I'm only going to take the papers, and that he can have the wallet back, even though I really want to keep the wallet for myself also, because it's such a neat organizational device. [I want the wallet, but I only need the contents. I want to compartmentalize my life, an agenda from my childhood and adolescence; but I only need the creative expression that I am, the ongoing experience of a creative life.] The kid's mother shows up and I explain to her what I'm doing, and I think to put a five-dollar bill in the wallet when I will give it back to the kid. [What does this wallet with all the pockets represent? Pockets could be a kind of sexual symbolism, especially considering that the mother is quite attractive and upon awakening I imagine having made arrangements to hook up with her.] The wallet transitions into a desk-like table, and all of the stuff on and in it is mine, and I'm transferring this stuff into a locker and into my backpack so that it will not be lost, because the desk/table isn't mine, and the use of it had only been borrowed. [The use of the wallet had only been borrowed? The "format" I use to organize my mind is a borrowed mechanism?] All kinds of items that I had forgotten that I'd owned are here, and I want to keep them; I don't want to lose any of them. Among these items are a bunch of marble-like, perfectly round "stones." They're rolling around the table, and I'm gathering them up. [Rolling Stones: My past as a musician?] One of them, a blue one, rolls off the table, and a college guy who happens to be walking by catches it. He tosses it back onto the table, but it never gets there, as if it disappears into thin air. He walks on past, not realizing that this happened; only I do. I ask him where it went, and we both are dumbfounded. Then I feel something in my left front pocket, and I reach in and feel a round object, and I extract it, expecting it to be the lost object somehow magically transported. It will be a great magic trick, I think. But it turns out to be a mottled tan and brown round stone, and the expectation that both the guy and I had is frustrated.

When I awaken, the first thing I do is make a list of all the things I must get done: call Keith at my old place of employment to find out why I'm getting IRA distributions when I'm not anywhere near to retirement age yet; go to the bank and set up a new IRA into which to put the lump-sum distribution; get new tires for the car and then take it to be inspected; clean the fallen leaves out of the gutters. I reconfirm my list of "personal" tasks I want to get done, most of which are related to writing and my website. This is the conflict, I want to think: the struggle between my personal goals and "social" responsibilities, minor though they are. But I feel that it's got to be more complicated than this, more deeply psychological. I base this conclusion on inklings I got from the dream as I was writing it out. I'm going to have to go back and reassess this dream with this idea in mind.

I keep postponing, day after day, the "social" tasks that I must do. Each day I've been getting up around eleven in the morning and working at the computer until four or five, when I want to then feel that it's too late to go out and do anything else. (It's not, at all; but that's the feeling I have had.) All I want to do in the evenings is read and watch tv or tapes, settle in and be domestic. But each day that I allow this attitude to prevail increases the tension I feel, the need to go out and get the things done that "must" be done. Actually I have lots of time, months; but months turn into weeks, turn into days. I know how that goes. If I don't do it all soon, I'm going to become overwhelmed. The situation can only get worse as time goes on. I've got to gear myself up and get it all done, so that I can feel good about myself again. A few days of proaction can do wonders for my mental state. Rah! Rah! Go team, go!

Last night, feeling like I wanted to get something done and despite the fact that I wanted to watch Roughing It on the Hallmark channel, I started during one of the commercial breaks to install a CGI-based hit counter on my website--because the free service I've been using is going paid and I found an excellent Perl script to use. The installation went well, but was going to be time-consuming, I could tell. So I turned up the tv volume and listened to the movie while I worked, running into the other room to catch a few scenes that I thought might be worth actually watching. Since I was online, I didn't want to work only during the commercial breaks for fear of being booted off and having to reconnect. After about three hours, I finally figured out the proprietary CGI instructions at Tripod and got the counter to work.

Earlier, I hadn't decided that I really wanted to watch Roughing It. I kind of felt that the ideas were passé, or rather superceded by our postmod renditions of the theme. (Twain's stuff, although still excellent for its wit and wry sarcasm, doesn't hold up when translated into an action film format, which is what it seems the movie was trying to do as it de-emphasized the humor--except for James Garner's work in the frame as the aged Twain.) But as I was filing away on my book shelves in the back room a book that I recently finished reading, the title Roughing It jumped right out at me, sitting there beside Life on the Mississippi. I didn't even realize that I'd had those books. I took this as I sign that I was supposed to watch the movie, so I grabbed the book, thinking to read it later. But I discovered that it contained a bookmark that contained notations in my handwriting referencing various pages, all the way up into the 200s. I looked up a few of those references, trying to recall the material that I had apparently read, but I could recall none of it. Then, later, after the movie was over and "Mash" was on, I heard Charles (David Ogden Stiers) make a reference to Life on the Mississippi. Well, knock me over the head with a cue stick! These kinds of "coincidences" happen to me from time to time, but I haven't experienced any in a long while now. But the message is clear, even if it's not a message at all, but a mere correspondence of accidental events that I've encountered: make sure you watch part two of Roughing It tomorrow night. If there is any hope at all of being pulled out of this doldrums of inaction, it is (non-)events like this one that will do it; I am motivated, sometimes, by the weirdest little things.



I don't know how I'll end up after I'm dead, whether I'll be buried or cremated, whether I'll end up in some other world or dimension or as mere dust dispersed (eventually) upon this isolated planet, whether my words and deeds will be remembered, or lost at the antipode of literary history. I'm making no real plans for my burial per se (as opposed to my writing, which I'm going to make some kind of plans for; I don't yet know what), figuring society will take care of it in due course, if not my relatives (if any of them are still extant after my death), then the people at the county coroner's office (which seems somehow fitting since my mother was, for a long while, a deputy coroner).

But I think, at the least, I'll devise some sort of plan to memorialize myself in some permanent manner. Since an actual headstone is probably out of the question, I might create a substitute of some sort, maybe a paint or electronic image that I might take steps to preserve "eternally" somehow. To this nebulous end I've been collecting over the years a list of epitaphs from which I will one day choose. So, until I make the final decision, here's the list, in my currently preferred order.



Big day. I got up late and did the preliminaries on the computer. Then, motivated by yesterday's verbiage [which ended up getting logged into the journal as today's earlier stuff, because I wrote it out longhand in bed before I fell asleep--that is, all except the dream, which I dreamed after I fell asleep--of course], I went up to the bank to open the IRA. On the way back Home I passed by Flynn's Tires, so I stopped in just to see if I could get only two of the tires for $50 that they advertised as four for $100. I could.

It took a while, which I expected, and while I waited, I watched some cable news in the waiting room. (I discover I don't miss it in the least.) And, temptation and the eternal desire to take advantage of a bargain being what they are, I helped myself to the free coffee. I loaded the extra-strong brew (it'd been sitting there for a long time, probably, and the liquid level was near to the bottom of the carafe) with too much sugar, and creamer, because there was no spoon to measure it out and so I had to pour it. It was sickeningly sweet, but it was free. And it took its effect, both positively and negatively. As I sat watching the news, I could feel myself winding up, and also I could feel the pressure in my chest increasing. I worried that it might cause my heart to lose its rhythm, and as I waited for the car to be done, I paced the shop, not contented to sit still.

Later, I went back and watched some more news. I was the only one in there when a guy came in, sat, and after a few moments asked "Are you watching this?" meaning the tv. My attention had been directed toward the tv, but I wasn't really paying any attention to it, so I said, "No. Go ahead and put on what you want." But I thought how arrogant the guy had been. What did he think I was doing, looking straight at the screen as if I were actually interested in what was on it? But I didn't care, really. Besides, he was a really big guy, at least six foot six, and muscular, and young, and black--not that that means anything, except to a paranoid white guy like myself.

He put on MTV, which was highlighting black artists. And then his girlfriend (or maybe his wife, but I didn't see any rings) came in. She was small, too small, way too small for him, being perhaps only two-thirds his height. She wore gray denims, the kind that have what look like large patches that resemble pockets all over them and make them appear as if they're made out of pieces of material stitched together with heavy overlapped seams out of the usual places. And she wore a faux-leather top that was the same color as the pants. Her clothes were tight and although she was thin, they made her look buxom and hippy. Very attractive. I wanted to look at her more closely, especially since she sat directly across from me. I wanted to examine all of the folds and tucks that resulted from the way her clothing held her flesh in place--and I would have, eventually, stealing glance after glance so that I could not be noticed, except that her female sensors would pick up my attention indirectly. But I heard my name called out; my car was done, the tires were on, and so I reluctantly left the waiting room.

The car handled magnificently as I wheeled it out of the parking lot. I always forget how much difference a new set of tires makes. It had a significant feeling of improved control. So I decided to head on out the highway to continue enjoying the new feel and to visit K-Mart, where they had some shoes on sale. I ended up spending seventy-two dollars. List of items purchased:

I went out to K-Mart just before rush hour, thinking I was going to get caught in all the traffic coming back. But I hadn't planned on spending so much time there (the potent coffee at the tire place motivated me to hang in there and get everything on my wish-list; usually I give up after a few minutes and only get the highlights) and I returned after the rush was over. Smooth transition throughout the day from writing mode into "out" mode back into writing mode. I ended up not watching the second half of Roughing It tonight, but instead watched the third part of the String Theory series on Nova on PBS. (It was a disappointment, mostly a repetition of parts one and two.) Then I took a four-hour nap and spent the rest of the night until morning online paying bills and taking care of odds and ends that I usually leave for another time, which rarely ever comes.

It occurs to me now that once I get out and get going (especially if I've had some coffee), it's easy to keep going; and it's great for my lolling psyche. I'm still on a high, long after the caffeine has worn off, which usually causes an even deeper lethargy. The mere idea that I've proactively gone out and taken care of business is a great motivator. It makes me want to do even more. I'm such a putz for allowing myself to slip into the doldrums all the time.

On my way home from shopping, with the sun setting over the highway in the west, I felt the nostalgia that is the end of Indian Summer. This is the last of the abnormally warm weather. (Eighty today.)

11-5-03

I've been leaving the computer on all day recently, on standby when I'm not using it, only shutting it down before I go to bed. I even leave it on during long naps, because I finally got it through my thick head, thanks to the example of the failure of my floppy, why it is that "they" recommend that you do this: to reduce wear and tear on the hard drive bearings, which are used quite a bit during start-up, especially when you have as many programs loading in at start-up as I do. (But even if I didn't, I'd be opening all those programs anyway.) What would I rather replace, a hard drive or a cooling fan (which is the only thing that runs on stand-by)? I should, I think, leave the machine on all the time; but I can't bring myself quite to that point yet. If I leave it on always, I will have to replace a cooling fan at some point.



I got an e-mail from ana that directed me to a sex site, which didn't surprise me, except that it was a pay-for-use sex site. I'm not sure why she did this, except maybe to make a little bit of money; but it disappointed me, because she sent the attachment as a zip file entitled MyMovie that made it seem like she was sending me a movie; but it was a executable that opened an html file that opened a new browser at the sex site. I had thought when I first read the e-mail that she was being kind (or had made a mistake; she's done that sort of thing before: once she accidentally sent me her real address--which, if you're reading this, ana, I assure you I will guard with my life) by sending me the file, but she was just spamming me. That's what's disappointing. Technically, it's not really spam, because in one of her recent e-mails, she asked for stories from her readers:
if you could pick one story of your life to tell...
> which story would you tell? tell it to me :)

So I sent her a story I'd been working on that I thought was pretty good and evocative of the kind of thing she seems to be into (not porn, but sexuality and nakedness). So she probably felt that responding with this referral was a legitimate thing to do. She said in her e-mail that the "attachment" was a movie "mostly about her," so it might have been worth watching. But she also said that it was free, which it was not.

It was only yesterday that I got a long e-mail from her summarizing her trip to Virginia. She told the story of how she was hurt and disappointed by some new age guru who dissed her when she asked for his autograph. She was so hurt she ended up crying about it. This is all somewhat ironic because that's sort of how I feel after having gotten this e-mail from her directing me to a paid sex site. (I didn't cry, though.)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

OOPS!

Tariq Aziz told U.S. officials that Saddam Hussein did not counter- attack at the beginning of the war in March because he thought the attack was a feint. [Wash.Post]
{Guess that shoots down the theory that Saddam shrewdly planned his defense the way it went. But I've since heard people echoing that theory; so this item may just be administration spin.}

HE'S NOT THEIR REAGAN ANY MORE

CBS is assailed by protestations re the Reagans' mini-series, so they're removing it from the programming schedule. [Yahoo] [Wash.Post] [Hollywood Reporter]
{Wow! And Republicans criticize Democrats for being so pc. All that resistance stirred up among the conservatives. Whatever the mini-series contends, it must be accurate. That much vociferous verbage just has to be revelatory of a repressed truth.}

11-6-03

Religious people seem to want to claim moral superiority by virtue of the fact that they are religious. It's a natural assumption for people steeped in religious dogma from an early age to make. They grow up reading The Bible (or the Koran; or the Torah, or whatever), they find a precise moral code elucidated therein, and they tacitly draw an a priori connection between the two. But just because religious texts espouse morality doesn't mean that they have a monopoly over it. Morality can exist separate from theology. Aestheists can be as moral and as good as believers can be--even more so. Throughout history, "religious" people did all kinds of horrible things in the names of their religions.

It's very important to understand the difference between religion and faith. Because faith is not about having the right answers. Faith is a feeling. Faith is a hunch. Really, it's a hunch that there is something bigger connecting it all, connecting us all together. And that feeling, that hunch, is God. And coming here [to church services] tonight on your Sunday evening to connect with that feeling, that is an act of faith.
Edward Norton, Keeping The Faith
And it's also an act of faith to believe that one day everything we now know as God and the supernatural will be completely explainable by science, and there will then be no need to "believe".

And then there is the argument that we choose our supernatural destinies by what we believe in this lifetime, that we pre-program our psyches via expectation to experience our "afterlife" existence.

I don't believe that this is true, but... There's this idea (as far as I know, I invented it; but surely someone must have thought of it before) that all of afterlife exists in the few moments immediately after death.

In those moments, our minds, freed from physical limitations, become eternal, which as an experience defeats death, even though, in the time-frame of the departed world, our eternity is short-lived.

So, where is the logical flaw? Within the few minutes of eternity1 we have? Or in the physical world that "understands" the passage of time? If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose the latter.

We are riddled, here, with logic; we compare and contrast in order to think. That's how we learned to do it; it's the way we're programmed. But the dichotomies it sets up create irresolvable discrepancies.

But once those dissolve, after "death," our minds are freed to experience in a more profound and intuitive way. What we do with this ability may determine the most significant (short) period of our lives.

Do we see ourselves as living on forever? I mean, after all, if we think we are eternal, what does it matter that in "real-world" terms we die? A few short minutes of eternity is eternity nonetheless.

Do we think, because we believe (perhaps correctly) that we have been so bad during our lives, we go to an eternal hell to be forever punished? Same deal. Eternity is eternity, no matter how long it lasts.

Or do we believe that we are being rewarded with seventy-two virgins to do our bidding? Or that we suffer temporarily in a purgatory to be eventually released? Or that we dissolve into the Void?

Or perhaps we believe we are incarnated back into the world; and so be it. And if we believe we are sufficiently advanced, we may be conscious of the return, and live another whole life within a moment,

and again and again, throughout eternity. Or we transition peacefully into an eternal state of bliss. Or we enter a stereotypical Christian heaven. Whatever we believe may become true, momentarily.

11-7-03

Lately, especially at night when I'm up and not wanting to do anything and unable to sleep because I'm on a daytime sleeping cycle, I've been feeling restless, as if I am missing something important, which has been an unusual state of mind for me for a long time now. (When I was young, I satisfied this restlessness by either organizing or wandering, each out of a need to quell anxiety, I think.)

I've also become aware that this "something" is easily replaced by comfort food; eating eases the subtle suffering, if that is what it is that I'm experiencing. [But I'm beginning to think that labeling this something as 'generalized anxiety' is too easy an answer. I must be more specific, but I don't want to work that hard just now. I'd rather wait for the answer to come to me. It's easier that way.]

Previously, I've concluded that we as Americans (and I, as a typical one, despite my attempts to resist the most egregious flaws and fallacies of that class of people) eat too much. So from time to time I wind it back and try, according to a philosophy/psychology of Zen detachment, to eat less. Eating less food and occasionally moderately fasting is a practice conducive to good health.

But I've also noticed that writing a good piece of fiction or, even occasionally, non-fiction also provides the same fulfillment I get from gustatorial over-satiation. And the satiation lasts longer and is more profound. But I can't help but think that it's a secondary satisfaction. Whatever the "something" is that needs fulfilling, it's only temporarily satisfied through the process of explication.

It's bad enough that we have to tolerate all the teases that networks air to advertise their special programs (and for that matter their ordinary everyday ones), but sometimes the practice goes way too far. Last night and tonight ABC has been teasing Barbara Walter's 20/20 interview with Martha Steward so much that the program, before it aired, should be about ready to sue for harassment. I half-expect at any time to turn on ABC and see a headshot of Barbara with her thumbs in her ears waving her fingers at us and sticking out her tongue.

Not only did Entertainment Tonight, for several nights in a row, tease the interview, but also the network teased Entertainment Tonight, promoting it as previewing the interview with excerpts from it. And before this, they ran spot ads teasing the teases. All of this pre-teasing had the effect of dominating the ABC affiliates' inter-show air. If you watched any small segment of ABC programming at all, you knew of and probably were convinced that you wanted to watch the 20/20 interview.

I find this practice of teasing shows totally disgusting. It almost made me want to boycott the show, except that I love Martha Steward and wanted to know what she had to say--so it's a good thing I know about the interview, isn't it? I have a definite love/hate relationship with postmodernism, especially of the media variety.

11-8-03

If you're lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time.
If you fall, I will catch you. I will be waiting
Time after time.
Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"
I burned a CD yesterday, taking a step farther an old goal of getting all of my mp3s onto CDs so that I can free up some of my hard disk space. (That seems like taking a step backwards, mp3s being a more advanced format for music media than CDs, but...). The epigraph above is from one of the songs on that CD. As I listened to it in bed at three in the morning, a wave of apparently unrelated nostalgia hit me. This is such an unusual occurrence, nostalgia, that I had to make something out of it, to disarm it, because it threatened to overwhelm me. So I wrote this:

Still In Time

I think of younger years these days, of my expectations. I didn't expect to end up this far out after this much time. I should have expected it, I was far enough out back then; but I didn't know it. Now I do. Yet I refuse to entertain it. Nostalgia will confront me hard if I will but look askanse.

My purpose, my focus these latter days, always, is ahead. What gets left behind is a sticky residue of supercession. Repression can be a terrible thing to waste, but I allow it. If it weren't for insistent dreams, I'd be out here all alone. They haunt me, calling me back, catching me up, in time.



Yeah, someone's waiting for me, but it's only myself and my imagination. But that's the most profound experience of all, knowing that you are still back there, waiting on yourself, with figments of a world of others whose influence still waits to be fully processed. It's not really all that sad that all those people have "passed away" (not died necessarily, but passed out of my life). What's sad is that there are so many others who could pass into that same oblivion whom I choose now to ignore. Everyone I've ever known has passed out of my life. It's a script I'm living, I suspect. I should look into this.

I see a contrast between the "pinches" I experience and this nostalgia that I resist feeling. You'd think those sadnesses would be similar phenomena; but they're not. They're near opposites in fact, within that arena of hurt that is periodically re-conjured by the black magic of the human psyche. A pinch is a negative kind of experience that calls up specters of what would be depression and past pain if it were not so amenable to the mediation of carefully chosen words; whereas nostalgia is almost positive, a kind of experience that remembers fondly and only hurts because we cannot have it exactly that way in those same past circumstances any more.

11-9-03

Peterman's Corners: I walk down Saltsburg Rd. toward Mellon Bank. Dianne is a teller. I've been hauling around with me and gathering up an electronic keyboard (i.e., of the musical variety) and its peripherals that have been scattered around, intending to put them into the trunk of my car, which is outside in the parking lot. Dianne expresses a curiosity about the keyboard, so I demonstrate it, in brief, teaching her how to dial in the various presettings; then, out in the parking lot, I go into more detail; a woman from "work" drives up (a Mary Steenbergen type of character). She's curious about the device, so I demonstrate its ability to produce ultra-high frequency waves and the effects that they have on women. I tune in the device, up through the registers, until all that can be heard is kind of faint buzz. I place the antenna into a cylinder about twelve inches long and four inches in diameter (phallic symbol?), the purpose of which is to focus the sound waves, and I point it toward her. She stands in the parking lot about fifteen feet away from us and as the sound begins to affect her, she becomes increasingly irritable. The louder I dial the sound, the more of a bitch she turns into, until she's ranting and raving at us. After a short while, I dial the machine sound back down, and she becomes her normal, sweet self again, never realizing how much of a bitch she had been.



Not only do you have to worry these days about who you have sex with, lest it turn out to be the thing that ends up giving you the bug that kills you; and not only do you have to worry about flying on airplanes, lest you happen to get on the one that terrorists have chosen, or you get mistaken for a terrorist yourself (which for some of us is not so difficult a thing to do); but now you have to worry even about so commonplace a thing as dining out. A restaurant here (Chi Chi's) is responsible for starting an epidemic of hepatitis. And now they're saying that they suspect that there may be more than one restaurant involved. 185 people have been hospitalized so far; and one man has died. The Howard Hughes Syndrome is spreading; and it's contagious. Pretty soon we'll all be hiding in our homes; it could be the beginning of the tribulation, if it hadn't already begun a few years ago. [Update: 640 sick and 3 dead so far; and green onions from Mexico are the most likely cause.] Not only do you have to worry about dining out, but about the foods you bring into your home as well. Howard Hughes is laughing his dead ass off right now.



I disagree completely, on principle, with the war in Iraq; but I could care less how many troops are killed there. It's an all-volunteer army; the troops who are there have chosen their fate. They may be stupid, and they have been deluded, but it was their free choice. But if the administration has to resort to conscription, which it seems more and more likely that it will need to do, then that's a different matter. When innocent and unwilling citizens are compelled to go to war and be killed, then I will oppose the war on the basis of the lives being lost. But until then, I oppose it on the principle that all war is wrong, however defensible it may be on grounds of self-protection. I am a Quaker in spirit on this matter, even if I probably would, if personally attacked, defend myself with physical force. Call me a hypocrite if you wish, but don't kill people in my name: I am an American citizen; but you don't fight this war for me. I can fight my own wars, thank you very much--if it would ever come to that.

11-10-03

I had a very unusual series of dreams, each one located on Poketa Rd. between Verona Rd. and Third St., each dream dealing with a different set of characters, as if a new cast walks into the dream from offstage after each time I awaken (four times during eight hours). In the first dream, I am cutting up firewood, trying to clean up a tree that has fallen on Verona Rd. at the intersection. Cars have to slow down and negotiate their way around the obstruction. Then, giving up on that task, because some of the wood has been designated by my brother (acting in his role as fireman) as belonging to an old boat that has beached itself (the nearest body of water, the river, is two miles away) and so is to be collected by some historical division of the local government. I walk down in front of Truschel's house and begin to cut up and organize long, rough-cut pieces of old wood that are "stacked" there, as if they leaned against a wall, except that there is no wall, but only hedges and the electric wires above. Paul T. is there. He tells me not to cut up certain pieces of wood that he wants to keep, the better pieces. I say I understand, but when I go to set them aside, I see that they are not really "better" pieces at all, but only look that way from one side, and when I turn them over, they're actually thin and rotted away in places, with no bulk to them at all. I think to show him this, but I never get back to him. [The philosophy/lifestyle/whatever that he represents is "thin" and insubstantial?]

Dream #2 takes place at and on Third St. The details are all but lost--something about riding bicycles with db, maybe?

Dream #3 has something to do with db and Joyce: I can't remember most of the details here either, except that Joyce has collected/cooked a lot of food and has had a party on the street (Madison Dr.), and now that it is over, I begin to consume the remnants of food and booze.

Dream #4: Terri and db were at the party. It's about midnight and Terri wants to go down to the Oaks Theater to see a special midnight showing of "mp3s" (which in the context of the dream are, to me, mini-porn flicks). I want to go too, mostly because I am attracted by the idea of sitting next to Terri and watching porn. But db doesn't want to go. I insist that she go along, mostly because there is the idea that if she doesn't, I can't go either. In Oakmont, crossing the tracks, I swerve right to try to avoid a woman who is stalled in her car in the middle of the street. But I sideswipe the front of her with the side of the van. I get out and tell her that I may have done a lot of damage to my van, but I don't think I did any to her car. I check it out. No damage. Her front bumper and grill is of such solid, tank-like construction (her car is an older, well-built model) that my bumping it had no effect on it at all. I suggest that we pull off to the side of the road to get out of the way of traffic. The whole while she seems muddled and out-of-it, but I understand this to be not a result of the accident, but rather having occurred earlier, and this is the reason why she was stopped in the middle of the street in the first place. I pull ahead up the street, but she drives off, across the tracks. I think she's leaving, which I am happy about, because then I won't have to worry about reporting the accident. But she stops about a hundred yards up on the main drag, and so I feel like I have to go and join her there. But there's a lot of traffic and I experience a bit of delay arriving. As she waits, she still seems addled, and before I'm able to get there, she drives away. I park the van on a side street on the hill (which is paradoxically on the other side of the tracks), and we walk down to the theater. But before we get there, I am required (by conditions set by the theater and/or db) to put on running shorts, right there on the main street, visible to traffic and passers-by. As a result, I have no pockets in which to carry my wallet. Terri enters the theater, and as db is about to pay, I realize I have no money. So I call out to db, who is out ahead of me, to pay for me. She gets irritated and doesn't want to do it. She makes a scene in front of the box office girl, telling me that she thought that we were on a tight budget with every cent accounted for. I give up, get mad, and tell her never mind. I turn and start to walk away, feeling torn between begging and cajoling her (embar- rassingly, in front of the box office girl) and giving up and abandoning Terri, who will not know what happened to us, because if I do not go in, db will not either.



This is a delicate time of year when I have to very careful. Every time (four times total) that I've been hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat, it's been at this time of year--the earliest, Oct 30th; the latest near the end of November. I've awoken for the last four or five nights in a row, lying on my right side (which is not a good sleep posture for me) with numb finger tips; at worst, the numbness extends halfway up four fingers of both hands. If I am not perfectly careful about how I sleep, I can get heart palpitations. For the last two nights I've had palpitations in my dreams. The first night it was easy to ignore them because I was dreaming and I could attribute them to a mere dream; but the second night I awoke as they occurred. I have to start taking naproxen regularly to keep the inflammation in my spine reduced to a minimum. I don't like to take medicine of any kind any more, but it's better than scary palpitations, I guess.


This evening I went out to K-Mart to return a pair of sweatpants I bought that were too small for me. I roamed through the store looking for something to buy, and I settled for a Hershey's Dark chocolate bar (7-oz. size). As I went through the checkout, I was feeling a little bit guilty that I was paying two dollars for a chocolate bar; but when the lady rung it up, I saw that it was discounted 80 cents to $1.19. As I left the store, I felt quite good about that, as if I was supposed to have gotten it. But then, when I got home, as I sat in bed watching tv, I ate the whole damned thing. I'm such a pig. It was comfort food, pharmacological therapy (chocolate contains theobromine, a heart stimulant--just what I need) to ward of little feelings of minor sadness, I rationalized. We are our own worst enemies.

11-11-03

I'm at an old workplace, running the nightshift. When I came to work this evening, we had a few late jobs, but not only did I get them all caught up, I got us way ahead and all but ran us out of work so that when Eileen and the day shift come on, there is hardly any work for them to do. This is the way that I always liked to keep the shop, caught up and waiting for work to be delivered to us from other departments. It was a good feeling not to be behind schedule and under the gun. Eileen and I get along in a matter-of-fact, business-like way.

It's three a.m. Awake and up after a three and a half-hour nap, I'm feeling bloated and have an aching pain in my back. The caffeine and theobromine in the chocolate I ate last night has taken its toll. Combined with a bad sleeping position, it's causing skipped heartbeats. As I build a fire in the woodstove, I'm feeling a bit breathless (a symptom of a pending irregular heartbeat). I settle down to write, hoping to settle my heart.

I awoke with the idea that I am The Guardian of the Night (ala the night shift in the dream): I operate underground (within dreams and behind the scenes, psychically--if only in the psychoanalytical sense of the word). I put my psychic energy to use analyzing and interpreting the past, and somehow I feel that the people that I dream about benefit from my mental operations. This, of course, is probably mere fantasy; but I don't want to think so. It feels powerful to imagine in this way. And who knows? It could happen. You never know what might be going on extra-dimensionally, within those small folds that String Theory defines.

Which reminds me: I forgot about an insight I had the other morning in meditation, immediately after having come out of a dream. I had this profound vision of how the extra dimensions calculated by String Theory relate to the three (or four) dimensions that we know in our everyday world. The current theory defines them as being tiny dimensions tucked in at the "joints" or interstices at each "point" in the three dimensional "grid." But I saw it differently. I saw these as connection points, where any one (or presumably more) of our three dimensions could also be one of the dimensions of another world which was only "tucked into" our interstice folds from our point of view; but from the point of view of "beings" in a different (parallel) "universe," our three dimensions (or one or two of them, if it turns out that we share one or two) would appear to be tucked into theirs in the same way that we think their dimensions are tucked into ours, so that what results, if you could look at it from an objective view outside of all dimensions, is a matrix of three dimensional worlds (all worlds would share the fourth dimension, time, I theorize; or else it would be independent of all dimensions, as an illusion perhaps; I didn't visualize this aspect) superimposed and sharing matter/energy, which passes between the worlds at the points of intersection, sub-atomic particles sometimes being in one world, sometimes in another. [I seem to remember some time ago having read and written about states of matter/energy that are only "on" a small part of the time, and "off" the remainder, so that they could pass out of our existence into a parallel universe, and then back into it, existing within our world for only the smallest portion of time (when they are in an "on" state). But I can't find where I wrote about it now.] These dimensions overlap, sharing states of sub-atomic particles as their building blocks, and the "network" that is formed is a conglomeration of universes, each touching the others at the places where the dimensions tuck away into each other, but otherwise kept separate by the structure of extra-dimensionality. I like this theory. It "makes sense" to me. It feels right.

11-12-03

MSNBC Hardball Newsletter
Wow! A whole eight minutes! I hope I don't drown in all that depth. This comment/practice seems to be the perfect metaphor for a counterpoint to my life right now. I've been experiencing these states of physical existence, maybe acerbated by continued caffeine use, or maybe precipitated solely by an increasing accumulation of calcium that is narrowing down the spaces between my vertebrae, where I perceive the precursor symptoms of heart palpitations, which themselves are the precursors to a loss of heart rhythm. These have been dominating my awareness each night (or day) before I fall asleep, when I must be aware of the position I will choose to spend my sleep state in, or awaken to skipped heartbeats--or worse, not awaken to them,
like I have not, and end up losing my heart rhythm in my sleep--or worse. When I'm awake, I can attend to my posture and prevent problems, but when I'm asleep...

When one's attention is dominated by a desire to maintain a regular heartbeat (or any other state of health that one must monitor on a fairly continual basis), it's difficult to take the other more mundane things of life so seriously. So when I read about an "in-depth" eight-minute interview, it piques a certain sense of sarcasm. What's next? A profound tv commercial?

11-13-03

A cold front came through last night about midnight. I lay in bed and watched tv and tried to sleep while I listened to the high winds and thunder. But I've been on a daylight sleeping schedule and didn't have any real motivation to alter it, so after about an hour and a half of fitful sleep, I was wide-awake again. I haven't wanted to do anything for two days now. So, in order to attempt to break the cycle, I got up and clear-coated one of the doors to the bathroom closet and some of the trim around the bathroom. Now the closed-up house reeks of petroleum distillates.

This morning at about six, I concluded that these are the days that I tape old movies for. When I tape them, it's usually because I'd rather do other things than watch them at the time. But when I have the time to watch them, because I don't want to do anything else, I don't want to do that either, and all they end up doing is boring me to death, not because they're not good necessarily, but because that's the state of mind I'm in.

I'm maintaining an even keel, though, despite my ennui. Still, I feel like any little incident could tip me over. I'm looking for things that might upset me, I think. I wrote of this before recently. I do this from time to time, but it's been happening a lot more frequently lately. I must be getting old.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

PUNCH 'IM OUT

"If I saw someone burning the flag, I'd punch them in the mouth because I love the flag, but the Constitution that I fought for preserves the right of free expression." [
John Kerry]
{Okay, buddy. I tell you what. Come visit me at my house, and I'll burn a flag, and then, let's see you take a swing, big mouth.}

11-14-03

After I took a four hour nap this afternoon, I went up to the food store to get some eggs, figuring I'd cook myself a solid, all protein meal; but the eggs cost $1.67, and I didn't feel like going anywhere else to see if I could get them any cheaper. There's no way I'm paying that much for eggs. If they don't go on sale. I'll just stop eating them.

These days I'm only focusing on one thing: being exactly correct re everything I do so that my back doesn't constrict the nerve to my heart and cause it to lose its rhythm. Any other thing that I manage to get done is gravy. My back doesn't hurt like it used to. For well over a year now, when it's been aching, it's never escalated to that level where I would get sharp pains. I theorize that it's because the calcium deposits have built up to an extent that they protect the delicate nerves (as postulated in the book The Arthritis Cure). But this could be the same reason that is causing my palpitations and symptoms of breathlessness; that is, the calcium deposits are restricting the flow of energy along the nerve. I hope this hasn't become a permanent condition, because if it has, not only will I have to consciously guard my posture day and night, but it portends more serious problems as even further restriction develops as the deposits continue to build up.

Today I fitted and nailed up a plywood board over the opening between the bedroom and the closet (which opens into the lower portion of the house and thus allows the colder air down there to cool down the bedroom at night). That board should keep most of the heat in the bedroom. I'll seal the edges with spray foam later--if it seems necessary.

11-15-03

I have to try to remember that, at the most basic level, slogging away at my daily routine, writing journal entries and processing and posting last month's entries is creating a body of work--not the work that I imagine is my best (maybe it is, at that; but I don't tend to see it as such), but a significant oeuvre nonetheless, and probably more representative of my real self than the fiction is, at least of my more ordinary everyday self, unencumbered by flights of fantasy and pique. [This is maybe not true; maybe I am as much well represented by the fiction, in a different way--from the other side of me, so to speak...I mean, write.] The token work of logging into my journal the thoughts that I've deemed worthy enough to make a short note of during the previous day (or the ones that I remember or that occur spontaneously while typing) and posting one or two entries from the previous month's journal has been, lately, the major work I do. It's all I have to do to accomplish something.

Where I tend to fall down on the job is after I do the minimum daily amount of work that I set for myself. If I work diligently, I can finish processing and posting my previous month's journal work in less than half a month, in which case, rather than moving on to other things, I tend to slack off and drift; at least that's what I've been doing recently (within the past few months or so). If, when I finish with my previous month's journal, I would continue to push on, I could backtrack (which used to be a goal, and still is, although I don't act toward it very often any more) and log entries from old journals; and/or I could use the freed time to review my developing stories and novels and move them along, since it doesn't take all that much effort to get them to a state of completion--merely a decided effort to read and reread them until they feel done. My life, as represented by my art, is frequently abandoned; but it will be completed--by my death. I've got to get with it. I don't have all that much time left. I don't mind that my legacy will be that I abandoned society; but I definitely don't want it to be that I abandoned myself.

11-16-03

I awaken at ten a.m. after a full night's sleep (for a change) with a motive in mind to work more formally (perhaps based on yesterday's journal entry). This proceeds out of a dream about being a news reporter of a sort, working in a busy environment (in Wilkinsburg, at the same dream location as in a previous dream) at a row of desks, sandwiched between two cute young ladies. I go out for lunch with four guys and encounter a major fire (involving three separate buildings) that holds us up in traffic for a long while so that we're several hours late coming back to work. Since we are looked on askance by our lateness when we arrive back at work, I justify it by beginning to write the news story, but then I re-dream the event and phone the story in from the fire scene, adding quotes from a personal friend who happens to be the local Fire Marshall. But I'm having difficulty structuring the story in news format. I keep re-doing it, never quite getting it right. So, upon awakening, I try again, and again, and again, until I finally get it right. This makes me want to write all my daily journal entries in a news structure format. But when I start to try to do it, it doesn't seem very practical.

Each day, as I begin to work, I usually start to make a list via a rapid, itemizing descant on the pertinent issues and concerns of the previous and the pending days. I intend to use this list as if it were an item listing of a developing news story from which I will choose the lede, second sentence, nut graf, etc. This process has been all but unconscious lately, as it is a procedure that has been continually superceded by my motivation to write each item out fully in my own rambling style. As I proceed, I quickly become involved in the details, wanting to elucidate them completely, rather than to simply list them in brief. When I think of the details, I want to get them down so as not to forget them. It's like I'm on the scene of a news story, taking notes, except that, once the notes are taken, they become the story (my story), the content of which becomes the structure. I can't seem to manage to fill in a structure with content; I always seem to work the other way around, allowing the structure to be determined by the content, the way it is first written. (This is true postmodern form.) [Again, I wrote of this before fairly recently, but I can't seem to find it now.]

11-17-03

The Basic Lie Of Modern Christianity

This points to what I've always maintained: love is selfish, not altruistic. For men, it's simply a matter of physical and ego gratification. For women, dating and falling in love is a long series of practice sessions for developing the environment and personnel necessary for proper (or sometimes improper, in the case of wayward or just dumb girls) conception and rearing of a child. [In either case, it's based on selfish motives--even if it would turn out to be merely emotional. We love to feel feelings. They're their own reward.]

Maybe there's an altruistic motive in a mother's love for the child, but the "initial" love between the mother and father (or man and woman, if there is no offspring) is purely self-motivated. Later, as love develops, maybe so also does an altruistic motive; but I can see how altruism can be interpreted as selfishness too, when it makes us feel so good to think of and care for another person, such as when we see ourselves to be such noble and "good" and Christian human beings.

Would we be so altruistic if we hated doing the things we had to do, or if we otherwise felt badly while doing them? Some people, of course, would continue to do them while feeling that way, but they'd be motivated more by the intellect, then, reasoning that it was the right or noble thing to do; it would not be a matter of love.

Maybe there is a rare person, a true Christian out there somewhere who can manage to feel love in the face of trial and tribulation when all of her psychology tells her to hate what she's doing; but this is not the normal motivation, and in any case it's a somewhat perverse one, going against the grain of one's own feelings, or developing feelings that conflict with one's naturally occurring ones.

If you can't be spontaneously and naturally motivated to do a good thing, even if it is out of ego-need, then why do it at all? The obvious answer is that it's the Christian thing to do. But are there any true Christians left in the world? Were there ever any since the first one, Jesus, established the practice and all but a handful of his local followers emulated him in his presence, but tended toward backsliding after his death?

Are we, when we "practice" "Christianity" acting in a futile way? Is it correct to think that we, as a species, will ever evolve to a place where we will act spontaneously altruistic? Of course, if we don't try, we certainly will not, so there's something to be said for practicing Christianity--as a psychological and social methodology, independent of a "belief" in the theology, which I believe is fundamentally flawed, not as it was originally conceived, but in the way that it has been dogmatized, politicized, and distorted over the centuries by misguided, perverted, and superstitious individuals.

I believe in Christianity as a code of morality and ethics, but not as a theology, which I understand to be mere superstition and mindless ritual. Yet the only hope we have is in how we will alter our mass psychology to conform to the original idea that we are capable of loving each other truly, without an ego motive. And I am not at all sure that as a species we can ever clear that hurdle. It's a matter of evolution, after all. And there are so many people set against the mere idea that we evolve.

11-18-03

It's a nice day--sixty-four degrees. So, despite not wanting to, at all, I forced myself to go outside and clean the leaves out of the gutter and trim the apple tree branches that were reaching out and touching my neighbor's house. Then, since I had the ladder out, I untied the rope that I put up on the tree a month or so ago in preparation for cutting it down. But as I got up onto the shed roof to remove the rope from the other tree that I had tied it to for support, I saw that the high winds of the other day had blown the shingles back from the edge, so I got a hammer and some roofing nails and I tacked it back down. I'm going to have to do some major roof work on the shed in the spring. That's it for the outside work this year, I think. A cold wave is supposed to come through tomorrow--or so they say. I doubt that we'll have any more spurts of "Indian Summer."



Scientists have found a sub-atomic particle they cannot explain using current theories of energy and matter.
...
Classified as X(3872), the particle was seen fleetingly in an atom smasher and has been dubbed the "mystery meson".
Energy Matters

The Japanese team says understanding its existence may require a change to the Standard Model, the accepted theory of the way the Universe is constructed. Some scientist some day is going to develop a comprehensive theory that proposes that as long as we keep looking for sub-atomic particles, we're going to keep finding them. [That is, if someone hasn't already proposed this theory. I'm not as up-to-date on the world of physics and metaphysics as I would like to be.]

The nature of "matter" is such that when it is observed, sooner or later it will do what is "expected" of it; and we will come to learn that it can be subdivided forever. Infinity being what it is, any sub-atomic particle, no matter how small, will always be further sub-dividable, its characteristics determinable by the science/instrumentation used for its discovery and observation.

Scientists will never find the ultimate base particle of matter-energy, because there is none. Matter is created out of energy (and/or vice versa) as necessary to enable the existence of particular physical manifestations; and those physical manifestations (the forms of them that have advanced enough to do it, that is) will observe their own nature when inquiring into the "reality" of existence. It's a vicious circle.

Can "matter" at the smallest subdivisions known to date even be considered matter at all? Aren't they more like energy than "particles?" Isn't it the case that all "matter" is merely various forms of energy that is "captured" into circular motion that, when we manage to release it, decays rapidly and vanishes into nothingness or speeds off toward infinity? This will always be the case. We arise out of nothing/infinity and to nothingness/infinity we shall return. Zen, after all, the great anti-science, is the ultimate scientific theory.

We can continue to try to understand physical "existence" all we want, developing more and more sophisticated technology with which to pursue our effort; but in the end, all we will be doing is finding phenomena that melt away as soon as we are done searching. The theories we develop through our efforts will be rationalizations that are our specifically developed way of looking for an answer that is ultimately unknowable, except by concretizing it into one specific form out of an infinity of possibilities.

The human mind (or any kind of finite mind that can exist) "understands" via its ability to compare and contrast. But ultimate answers are knowable only by transcending this ability of "reason" and using advanced awareness as an organic whole not broken down into constituent functions. I could go on trying to explain this for pages and pages, but it is not an experience that can be said in words. It is an awareness only to be hinted at. Poetry would perhaps be a better forum.

The misguided attempts by governments to throw money at educational programs in an attempt to beef up the content, equipment, and personnel will not solve the problems associated with the education our populace. If potential students (assuming they are relatively normal and not brain damaged or burdened by learning disabilities) really want to be educated, they will be; they will find the educational materials themselves, in one way or another. The problem, which is very real, doesn't lie in making sources of educational material available to students; the problem is in motivating people (especially children) to want to be educated.

Uneducated people most often don't realize their plight; the ones who do realize it find a way to educate themselves. We've got to get the message (the managed contingency) to the large majority of people who do not realize that education is the best thing that they could ever do for themselves. Once convinced, people will assure their own education.

Education takes the least amount of effort at the earliest of ages. What we need are preschool and early grade school programs that focus, not on curriculum, but on learning how to want to learn. The primary stumbling block to this kind of educational subsidy is not a lack of funds, but unwillingness on the part of mainstream politicians and bureaucrats to be effective in their legislation. As long as they can appear to be doing something by doling out money for curriculum and ineffective personnel, they can claim to be attempting the "impossible" task. But actually being effective at the effort would mean that millions of underprivileged and otherwise disenfranchised citizens would become self-enlightened, which would be a major threat to the status quo.

The business community as it exists today, in particular that segment of it that tightly holds the purse strings, would be fundamentally altered by entry into the workplaces of more highly educated members of the previously disenfranchised classes. (Look at what has happened as a result of the minimal education that has thus far occurred since the civil rights reforms of the fifties and sixties; look at how the workplace has been altered thus far.) In other words, the rich will have to end up sharing the wealth, or else face the very real threat of class warfare. True education is a danger thing. According to current political thinking (that which is never actually stated), it's better that an ineffective farce be substituted for true education. In this way the least amount of social disruption is achieved.

11-19-03

No palpitations at all overnight, and when I rolled over onto my left side, several times I felt a pleasant pop as my spine slid into "place." I haven't had that happen in at least several weeks now. It could mean that the naproxen is working to reduce the inflammation, thereby allowing some movement between the vertebrae and relieving the nerve constriction that is the source of the palpitations. So to test the theory I made myself a cup of coffee this morning to see if it causes the palpitations to return (I'm hypothesizing that, maybe, the buildup of caffeine in my system--as I understand it, caffeine does accumulate--contributes to palpitations, and that there is not just one single cause, but several conditions that, when either present together minimally or in larger amounts singly, contribute to the heart problem), and also to relieve the state of lethargy I'm sinking into again.



Martin Amis last night on Charlie Rose said that as you age, the world begins to look alien to you, which is a way you have of preparing for your death. How true. I have always felt pretty much alienated from the world; but the older I get, despite the fact that I seem to be mellowing and "fitting in" better (which is ironic, given that the only way I seem to fit into society is to absent myself from it for significant periods of time so that when I am out in it, it doesn't negatively affect me so goddam much), the more I understand how much unlike me the real world seems to be.

But this is only a matter of perception. A character in a show I saw the other day (it may have been Ruby Dee in Decoration Day, or it may have been on some tv show) said that the world is neither optimistic nor pessimistic, that our perception determines how we see it. If this is true (and it probably is; it feels right), then my perception of the world as a dangerous place is more reflective of my own psychology than the nature of the world.

Nevertheless, the world can be a dangerous place, and people who choose to see it as exclusively optimistic are leaving themselves wide open to disaster. The "truth" must lie somewhere in between: be optimistic to an extent, but protect yourself. Or, as the Arabs say, "Trust in Allah, but tie your camel." If what I am doing, in seeing the world as a dangerous place, is preparing for my death (which seems to me to be a definite possibility), then I've been preparing, more or less, all my life. I've been trusting in "God" (actually, my own self, sometimes projected onto the heavens, but often quite well internalized), but I've been certainly tying my camel, which is what I am quite good at.

In fact, when you get right down to the real nitty-gritty, I don't see any difference between these two modes of being, which is exactly the kind of existence I've been working toward for a long, long time--proving that life, after all, really is a matter of perception. Trusting in a higher form of being (whether It is "out there" somewhere or "only in your head") can be seen as the same thing as trusting in yourself (i.e., relying on your own wits; tying your camel). Coming to this conclusion is, effectively, a healing of the basic schizoid split in my existence. Too bad it's probably only a temporary state; but it's welcome nonetheless. It's been too long since I've experienced this kind of peace of mind.

Later on the same Charlie Rose show, Gore Vidal, to grossly oversimplify his remarks, equated John Adams' Alien and Sedition Act with the recent Patriot Act. How also true. The former act was undone by the next administration; but we will today be as lucky? Possibly not, at least if Vidal's thesis that we have become a nation ruled by despots is correct. Vidal is hopeless, it seems. Talk about preparing for death! I've admired the man even before I'd read about him in pieces by Kerouac and Nin a long time ago. But he's more negative and radical than even I am am. (Remember Myra Breckenridge?)

Still, though, I think Vidal is fundamentally correct in his perceptions, as self-fulfilling as they may be. If not the world, then certainly the United States is rapidly becoming a police state ruled by the despots whose fundamental motivation is to support the greed of the corporations. I'd say that this is a terrible railroading of democracy except that, as Vidal very adequately points out, democracy was never the intention of (most of) the founding fathers. Rather, they wanted a republic, run not by officials representing the masses, but by the best minds chosen for the purpose (and to the betterment of the business class. The problem now is that the business class has grown so large and become so ubiquitous that it seems more like a tyranny itself instead of the more benign provider that our forefather's saw it as).

If the founding fathers had wanted a democracy, it seems to me, they would have gone with Franklin's idea of a single-body legislature that would have been a direct representation of the people. Instead, they opted for adding the Senate, which was a republican attempt to introduce a kind of elitism into the legislative process. And it worked quite well to that end, it seems--even to this day, despite attempts by non-governmental influences to call the country to the service of its (token) democratic ideals. And it didn't take so long for the initial basic quasi-elitist nature of the Senate to propagate and spread into the House. Senators and Representatives, most of them, are privileged people. They are politicians who have elbowed and shouldered their way into office; they are not like you or me. (Or if they are, why are you still reading this? Aren't you sick of me yet?) They are America's elite, even more so than the high-level educators, airhead academics who are not nearly so out-of-touch with the real values and opinions of the masses as the true elitists try to claim. They, the politicians, use the forces of America to impose their will on the masses here and abroad, by heavy-handed "diplomacy" and behind-the-scenes manipulation and by force, if necessary--all while the rest of us struggle to live up to an ideal that never really existed. This is the farce that is perpetrated in the name (only) of democracy.

Anyway, it's all too much for me to want to get too deeply into. I mean, I won't be here all that much longer anyway, so what difference does it make to me if jack-booted troopers are running around tromping on people's civil liberties? I'm not going to be one of protesters whose heads are being bashed in, physically or metaphorically (via intimidation). This ain't the sixties any more. And I could give a shit about what will happen after I am dead. I have no children (that I know of) and as for other people's kids, well, I don't see most of them caring all that much about what their future's going to be like. It seems that the greatest majority of them are content enough as long as they get their meager paychecks. As long as they have enough money to buy a new tv or two every few years and enough high carb food to keep them sated and fat, they're happy. [This kind of negates my populist theme. I may be as much of an elitist as the politicians, and this piece may be not much more than mere projection. But then, isn't that what all social ideals, ultimately, are? We all want the world to be like us, to conform to our desires and expectations, and so we set about to conform it to ourselves via disseminating our opinions.]

[Actually, I've been thinking of attending the recent protest rallies. There have been quite a number of them in this area. I'd go there, not to protest per se, but to observe, as an "objective" freelance journalist. But I'd be lending my presence to the events in any case, swelling by one more body what thus far has been relatively thin crowds; but always keeping in the back of my mind, in case I would be arrested or want to file charges of police brutality, that I am not a protester, but an observer. This would be the practical manifestation of enmeshing the two extremes of a dangerous world and an optimistic future. I should do it, as an additional exercise in healing the schizoid split; but life's already too short. (I missed attending closely to the protests of the sixties for this same reason. I was involved, but not so's you'd notice. I was more interested in grass, LSD, DMA, etc. than in the social phenomenon. Today, writing is my drug of choice, my defense against the world. Right on!) Write on.]

Wednesday, November 19th, 2003

PENIS IN PARIS

Paris Hilton video is available online [
pud tv] [badassmofo]
{Are people stupid, or what? I've just streamed this Paris Hilton video. What's the big deal? It's of such bad quality that it's almost unviewable, and it's the tamest of porn, more revealing of the disgusting macho nature of her boyfriend than of Paris' sluttiness. Don't people realize that there is more benefit than detriment for Paris to have had this video was released? (Maybe she even secretly released it herself.) Now, everybody knows who she is. And so now a young lady with relatively little social worth (except that she is rich) becomes a postmod celebrity par excellence with the power to negotiate huge contracts. There's no such thing as bad publicity.}

11-20-03

The cold front that the weathermen predicted never material- ized. (So what else is new?) The prediction now is for a week's more relative warmth. (So, maybe it will end up getting cold after all.) They just can't seem to get it right, can they?

He's not my superior, he's just my boss.
Michael Caine, Shock to the System
I may have fucked up, but I wasn't wrong.
Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee, All the President's Men
I awaken out of a dream I can't remember with the idea that I was, after all, correct in, or at least not blamable for, my "mode of behavior" at my last job. (Usually I awaken to feelings of defensiveness against guilt that I was wrong, in this matter as well as a lot of others, as a function, I think, of repressed anger and/or feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem.) [See later: A New Take On Repression.] Yes. I was contentious. But that is not a fault. Itís a modis operandus, a mechanism for getting yourself heard. It's a technique employed around the world by government employees and business people to get things done when bureaucracy threatens to grind operations to a standstill. And it was a technique that many employees at the place where I worked used in order to express themselves in an environment that discouraged free expression, even as it was the "policy" of the owner to enable it. He was so hung-up on an "anti-bureaucracy" agenda that he couldn't see how his fear of it created the very effect he was trying to avoid. He bent over backwards to be "fair" to employees while at the same time stifling their free expression by unconscious tactics of intimidation. In an effort to negate divergent opinions, one of the ways he tried to be aboveboard (isn't it always the case that the harder we try to do something, the more likely we are to achieve the opposite results?) was to transfer incorrigible employees between departments instead of firing them. Employees were transferred into my department because they'd had problems with their supervisors, who felt that they were contentious and "unmanageable" (meaning that their supervisors didn't know how to manage them; it is frequently the case that supervisors blame employees when they don't have the ability to manage them. The French maintain that there are no frigid women, only incompetent men; by the same logic, there are no bad employees, only incompetent supervisors, who reveal this fact when they choose to fire someone). And yet I managed these employees quite well, because I valued their divergent opinions and allowed them to rant, tolerated their mood swings and occasional outbursts, and contended with them, playing off of them and as a matter of course, which had the effect of allowing them to settle down because they were able to vent their demons instead of trying to repress them, which is what management in general, and the owner in particular, wanted ["I don't want justice, I want peace and quiet."], a compliant and noncontentious workplace where everyone got along and worked in harmony for the betterment of the company and the free world of democratic capitalism. In other words, they wanted to try to live a myth.

But contentiousness is a valid state of work, both practical and ubiquitous. It gets ideas expressed that, pent up, can be destructive. Employees who vented to me always felt sorry after they had done it, and I would always indicate that it wasn't necessary for them to feel that way. They appreciated this "magnanimous" tolerance on my part and went on to become my best employees ("incorrigible" employees tend to be far better workers when provided with a nurturing environment because the very traits that make them contentious also make them intelligent and productive; that is, they see better ways of doing things and resent being shoelaced into narrow and restricting policies and procedures), even though they had been transferred to my department as a last resort before being fired.

But my contentiousness, even my mere disagreement with some of the repressive policies and procedures, was met with disapproval and intolerance by higher management. And yet the best areas of the work world, especially in the more intense occupations, run on contention and value it. And the people who were most (surreptitiously) outspoken against me were the people who were most contentious; yet rather than being tolerant of others' contention, they were duplicitous and acted behind my back to attempt to ruin my reputation. It was my own fault, of course, that I gave up, out of a motive of self-protection (which increasingly conflicted with my sense of organizational self-defense and added to the physical stress that my run-down physiology was causing) and allowed those forces that worked against me to dominate office politics. But that doesn't mean that I was wrong. I was not. I may not have been righteous (though many others had enough self-righteousness to make up for my lack of it), but I was no worse than most of the employees in a generally contentious workplace. My dismissal was unjustified, initiated and orchestrated by a manager who feared contentiousness so much that he equivocated at every confrontation and slipped and slimed his way around behind the scenes like an old lady gossip who foists her neurosis on society by suppressing direct expression and enabling an underground to carry out the devils-work she does not dare to do herself, all the while maintaining a holier-that-thou attitude. Oh well. It's all water over the dam now. I don't know why I continue to rant about this subject, except that it keeps coming up in dreams, and so it must still have some currency within my deep psychology.

11-21-03

A New Take on Repression

We speak of 'being in error' rather than 'remembering wrongly' where we wish to emphasize the characteristic of objective reality in the psychical material which we are trying to reproduce. The occurrence of an error is a quite general indication that the mental activity in question has had to struggle with a disturbing influence of some sort.
Sigmund Freud, Psychopathology of Everyday Life
If the conclusion of the memory study is true (and it's very possible that it is, at least in part), then psychoanalysis' interpretations are based on non-existent or, at best, intuited past events; worse, they could be mere present-day constructions, rationalizations designed by a collaboration between analyst and patient to assuage negative feelings that have their causes elsewhere. This could be a big leg up for behaviorists and cognitive therapists (not that they really need it so much any more; but there has been a resurgence of psychoanalysis recently).

Take note that this study does not apply to repressions in general, but to "memories" that are assumed to have been repressed during an early traumatic experience. It still may be true that people repress content about themselves that at one time they were decidedly aware of, but subsequently chose to ignore, perhaps due to developing cognition that indicated to them that they were not so correct in their behavior as they had thought at the time that it occurred. But, except in extreme cases, I think we can label this phenomenon more appropriately as "forgetting" rather than as "repression."

So, if the repressions that I manage (so willingly) to call up from the depths are (or even merely might be) more intuition than actual memory, does that make them any less valid as material for therapy? No. But it does significantly change the nature of the therapy. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if therapeutic content is literally true or not, as long as it results in one feeling better about oneself, if only temporarily. After all, a big part of my personal therapy deals with dream material, most of which is probably not literally true. But it's better, as a matter of proper science, to be literal in our translations of phenomena into language. Everything else being equal, we might as well be as scientific as we possibly can be; otherwise we begin the descent toward religion and mythology, which can only hurt us as a species in the long run. I mean, look at where the superstition of religion has gotten us so far. We're killing each other as if we were still fighting the Crusades. (In a very real sense, we still are.) [But that is off point here.]

It is better, I think, to view therapy from a present-state perspective than to delve into a nebulous past that may or may not be accurate. But how do I deal then with dreams that continue to call up (very real) memories of things that have been conveniently "forgotten" by my waking consciousness, especially when that content is so affectively charged? I have all kinds of dreams that I'd like to document, if only for the sake of preservation; but they are relatively affectless and so I have no real motive to preserve them, because I don't feel that I "need" to deal with the material. I don't feel I have the time to devote to the practice of documenting every dream that I remember, despite the fact that the "environments" that I experience are interesting and even sometimes compelling. I mean, look at all these places I have been and people I have met! I know that if I'd document them, I could make something out of them--at least fiction, but even, perhaps previously unconscious "memories" that may or may not be real. But now, having become aware of this recent study, I question whether this is a valid practice at all. And yet, there is the more literal dream-conjuring of actual forgotten memories. I dream of these things for a reason. My mind wants me to attend to them. When I first awaken out of these dreams, real memories associated with the dream phenomena flood my brain, overwhelming me. I make mental and sometimes written or taped notes so that I do not re-forget. This is the point where, now, having just learned what I have, I must take care not to make something out of these experiences/memories that is not actually there. I can intuit primal conditions, such as mother-rejection, etc.; but that doesn't mean that I am remembering the actual condition. I feel that certain conditions that I rationalize as having been my early primal state are true and have resulted in my present-state situation; but I don't actually know that this is the case. Nevertheless, the expression of these "intuitions," the cathartic value that the process affords me, is worth the effort. But if my "insights" are not literally true, then I can derive the same catharsis from creating fiction out of my personal experiences as I do now from couching them in a kind of pseudo-psychology. [Psychology is a science, it is maintained, in a way that the "disciplines" of other social sciences (most specifically, sociology) are not, because it arrives at discrete conclusions by experimental and statistical methods instead of anecdotal "evidence"; but the inclusion of such practices as psychoanalysis waters down this scientific status, I suspect.] I used to devote my writing time exclusively to this fictive process, transforming my experience, real and dreamed, into cryptic little stories. But I all but gave that up several years ago to explore my "depth psychology," which I am now beginning to suspect might be just another fiction. I don't know that this is true; but it's a possibility. I began this great personal experiment because I discovered the forum of the Internet, whereby I could publish my results in a journal format (and because it is far easier to express myself in direct and "literal" terms than to actually bother structuring unified story/theme elaborations). But maybe the time is coming where I should go back to fiction. (This idea is not a conclusion I come to as a result of this newly perceived potential weakness of therapeutic investigation; I feel this same motive once or twice each and every year.) Probably, though, I'll keep going on the way I'm going. Force of habit is compelling interest.

And speaking of force of habit, fantasy is another "need" that I have had far less success dealing with in a written format. Dreams reveal certain needs that are more easily ascertained and fulfilled via writing, even if the actual content is not so literal to the dreamer's life as might be assumed. But fantasy, due I think to its more conscious nature, disguises its hidden motives better. (It's a lot easier to avoid revealing unconscious content when the mind is tuned so finely to conscious details.) But this morning I had a spark of insight into my fantasy process: I realized that most (all?) of my fantasies have to do with being admired or getting attention. (After all, I am a Leo--not that I believe in astrology, but...) This makes me suspect that I may be missing a fundamental aspect of my psychology--not that I think it's repressed, or even forgotten; rather it's just one of those topics that I seem to choose not to pay attention to. It hasn't been forgotten, because I don't think that I ever attended to the matter of being attended to before. Well, no. That's not true. Of course I have. Many times. And in quite a bit of detail. So it would seem that, after all, this may be a perfect example of the fine line between forgetting and repression.

Whatever the case, I love attention. And my fantasies, continually repeated, as if they were a necessary physical function like eating or showering or sex, verify this fact. But true to my schizoid nature, I love privacy even more. I want to be attended to in absentia. I rejoice when discovering evidence that people are thinking of me in my absence. Yet I tend to shy away from them in their presence. Thus, fantasizing about social situations that focus on activities that cause people to attend to and admire me is a fair compromise, as is being a writer, so that people can attend to what I've written and, hopefully, admire me for it, all while I am not around. When I learn that someone has purchased a book I've written (a rare occurrence these days), I'm overjoyed--not because I've made some money (two or three dollars hardly seems significant these days), but because I've been attended to. Attention (and the fantasies that satisfy the urge) is like a drug; and I am an addict. But if I get too much of it, like when I am directly attended to in person, I O.D. But when I don't get enough of it, like when I fantasize (like taking methadone instead of heroin), I may satisfy the urge, but the high is missing. So, if you want to help me out of my dilemma, buy my books. [Sorry about that. I couldn't help it. It just seemed so easy.]



Last night, feeling a bit down and bored with my protein diet, I went up to the grocery store to take advantage of a half-price sale on Hershey's chocolate. Back at home, while watching tv, I consumed one whole seven-ounce Hershey's bar; and I felt its effects for the rest of the night, even while awakening out of sleep, as an intensified and slightly more rapid heartbeat. But I never got any of the palpitations that have been plaguing me recently, even though I'm back to drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee a day. So maybe the crisis period is over. I hope so.

We couldn't get Rosie or Martha to melt--and we can't even find bin Laden or Hussein--but if Jacko would just agree to be a pedophile, we could have our kook and eat him too.
Michael Musto, The Village Voice
Well, I hate--er, that is, I love to say I told you so. Michael Jackson has been arrested for child molestation. Well, it's about time. For all of its moral indignation and self-righteousness, our society certainly can be lax in areas where it obviously should be concerned. That's because Michael has money. Our society is very respectful of its moneyed citizens. It's difficult to reprimand and castigate the holders of the icon that we worship.

On the other hand, maybe it's true that Michael isn't guilty, but only rather oddly naive. And even if he is guilty, there is that odd idea we have of authorities requiring evidence in order to persecute prosecute people. Whatever the case, whether guilty or innocent, Michael certainly is fucked-up. All that plastic surgery and image manipulation is just too weird, even for me, who's always playing around with his ego-image.

Nevertheless, it certainly is a possibility that the DA is a bigoted fascist. It's not an unheard of phenomenon; it's a hazard of the profession. The guy definitely is "out to get" Michael, but probably not because he's black, as brother Jermaine claims; rather, it's probably because he's weird. We weirdoes should be sticking together against the fascist machine, but I just can't seem to manage to make myself side with Michael. Maybe if he didn't have so much money.

[Later note: I may be changing my mind about this issue. I'm influenced by comments made by, of all people, G. Gordon Liddy, whom I saw on CSPAN the other day. He reminded everyone that in this country people are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. How easily we forget when it's convenient for us to do so.]



My tentative conclusions after viewing the Oswald film on PBS' Frontline last night: Oswald didn't say he was a patsy because he thought he was being framed for the murder of President Kennedy, or even because that's what he wanted the public to believe. What he meant was that he thought the government was persecuting him for his communistic political beliefs and activities. He was a paranoid whose personality became increasingly unstable as his ideals became derailed, so that when presented with the opportunity (the motorcade just happened to be passing by the school book depository, a job that he had recently gotten through a neighbor's connections, thus debunking any conjecture that the Mafia, or the Cubans, or the FBI, or the CIA, or whoever had set him up there--a fact that I hate to admit to, because I have been a conspiracy theorist on this matter), he took it. It was a more or less spontaneous plan, thrown together in response to his thwarted attempts to get to Cuba through Mexico to join Pro-Castro forces. Since he couldn't strike a blow for his ideals in any other way, he chose this course of action, even though he had, at one time, admired the president. It was a target of convenience, and he took it.

The Frontline show was solid journalism, free from the biased point-of-view that typically characterizes the subject matter; the producers presented the facts and labeled conjecture for what it was, thus allowing viewers to come to their own conclusions. And I have. I've been coming to a lot of new conclusions lately. Here's another potential one in the making:

Is all marriage co-dependency? I'm beginning to think so. Some undetermined proportion of them may not start out that way, but after a while, I suspect that most married couples end up compromising their psychologies to the extent that they lose a sense of a truly independent self; or else they (try to) remain independent and therefore become miserable in their attachment; or both. Now, gays seem to be on the verge of being allowed to enter into the same misery. Why would they even want to? It seems to me that the one good thing that gay life provided was a sense of social and personal independence. Maybe, though, this is the reason why there is a strain of psychic disturbance that runs through the gay community. Maybe being excluded from the mainstream in the way they have been, of not having co-dependent unions sanctioned, has taken a psychic toll. It's a bitch not to be allowed to pretend that you are like everyone else. [This is not a criticism of gay life; it's a criticism of the human species. No one is like everyone else; yet most of us feel that we have to pretend to it.]

And since I'm one this subject, consider this short addendum: Just as people who are bigoted against gays are latently homosexual, so are people who are against same-sex marriages insecure in their own marriage. We take adamant stands against that which we are most insecure about in our own selves. It's true. If you disagree with this principle, think about what that says about your psychology in terms of the principle you're disagreeing with. Huh?

Low Self-Esteem 'Shrinks Brain'

People with a low sense of self worth are more likely to suffer from memory loss as they get older, say researchers...the brains of these people were more likely to shrink compared with those who have a high sense of self esteem...the brains of those with low self-worth were up to a fifth smaller than those who felt good about themselves.

"This atrophy of the brain that we thought was irreversible is reversible - some data on animals and some data on humans shows that that if you enrich the environment if you change some factors this brain structure can come back to normal levels"

...

[T]he fear of memory loss may be a self fulfilling prophesy as anxiety leads to negative thinking which leads to mental impairment.

...

"If you always think it's normal to lose something, then you will never work to increase it because doctors have always told you that. I'm saying that it is not normal."

BBC
This is information that I feel is extremely important; but I don't know what to do with it, except to note it here. I know that from time to time I suffer from low self-esteem. But at other times I feel quite adequate in this regard, even thinking quite highly of myself. It would behoove me to take this message to heart and to work to achieve a permanently positive state of mind. But that is true in any case, whether or not a poor self-image causes brain atrophy. Besides, it's not an all or nothing affair. Other studies have indicated that mental deteriorization is prevented or reduced by increased brain usage, such as that involved in reading and learning, especially when there are difficult concepts to master. Brain activity, I would think, is more important than how positively or negatively one views oneself--although I can see how one might tend not to use one's brain so much if one were always down on oneself. I know that when I am not so productively oriented, I may restrict my brain activity. (But maybe not; maybe I just shift it to a different form, such as fantasy. I'll have to think some more about this before I draw definite conclusions.)

Recently I came across an article that claimed that brains are more active during sleep than while watching tv. But I suspect that this is not so clear-cut either. For example, has anyone ever done studies comparing the brain activity of viewers of The O.C. or Friends v. the viewers of The West Wing or Charlie Rose? There is an obvious difference in the way viewers think during those programs. And the brain that a viewer brings to the shows in the first place probably makes a big difference also. If you are inquiring type of person who analyzes everything, if you are a social scientist for example as opposed to a steel worker or a hair stylist, you probably are going to watch any program more actively, examining interactions and making associations that less educated/intelligent people will not make. So let's not jump to conclusions about the value of tv re brain activity. Instead, why not consider the value of education re tv viewing? If we were better-educated overall as a society, maybe tv programmers wouldn't feel so compelled to produce programs such as Jerry Springer.



Running is a form of eccentric exercise, meaning that the muscle is forced to lengthen while trying to contract. Prolonged or unaccustomed eccentric exercise often leads to pain, tenderness and stiffness in the muscles hours or even days later. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness and is very common.

The sensation of discomfort usually develops approximately 24 hours after exercise, peaks at about two days and then gradually subsides. During the 24 to 48 hours post-exercise period, muscle swelling and stiffness usually result in a reduced range of motion and also muscle weakness.

Because the onset of muscle soreness is delayed, it cannot be attributed to the metabolic end products of exercise. In fact it is caused by localised damage such as microscopic tears to the membranes and protein filaments of muscle fibres. One hypothesis is that the damaged muscle cells die because they are subject to excessive calcium inflow. Another is that exercise-generated free radicals attack the cell membranes, leading to their death.

So, if exercise creates free radicals, and free radicals are supposed to be so bad for your physiological health, then maybe exercise is an activity to be avoided. Good rational- ization.

In any case, I find it a somewhat questionable practice to cause your body to undergo "microscopic tears to the membranes and protein filaments of muscle fibers" in order to improve the overall state of your health. And believe me, I know what I'm talking about. I used to be a jock. (My warped sense of sarcasm knows no bounds.)

11-22-03

From the dept. of things not to say when being interviewed on local tv: "I've never seen anything like this before."

Apparently, there are so many people who have never seen so many things before like the thing they've just seen that they are being interviewed for, that I'm beginning to think that most people haven't seen much at all.

Of course, this is just a figure of speech, and people who say they've never before seen anything like what they've seen have probably seen stuff like it many times, at least on tv. But they have to say something, for Christ's sake. They're being interviewed and probably about ready to go into brain-freeze.

And as long as were on the subject of being interviewed, the media, or a portion of it, is still trying to do a hatchet job on Rosie O'Donnell. They panned her in Exit to Eden and not because it was a bad movie, yet I thought she was quite entertaining in that film; they panned her in Car 54, Where Are You? when she did an okay job in a typically stupid movie; and they panned her in Now and Then, when again she did an okay job in a movie with a bad script. Not only did they pan her talk show, but they started to criticize it even before it went on the air, questioning her credentials--as if it takes a genius to do that kind of job. And now they're panning her recent court performance, trying to dredge up anything they can to discredit her. I like Rosie O'Donnell. I always have. She appeals to me. So she's a bitch. So what? Who isn't? Media critics who knock Rosie are merely projecting their own bitchiness onto her because they can't bring themselves to admit that they themselves are the very same way. What we don't like about ourselves we criticize in others.

11-23-03

Joyce called on Saturday to invite me to Thanksgiving dinner. She apologized for something, I can't remember what, some triviality, saying that things had been really upsetting at their house recently. Then she told me that my brother was attending AA meetings. I asked her if things have been disturbed since he'd started attending the meetings, and she said no. So, maybe there is hope. Then, today, Jim called. The first thing he said, before he got to what he really wanted, was that he guessed I still wanted him to bring the ladder over. I told him yeah, but I didn't really need his help. I could cut the tree down myself if I had the ladder. So he said he'd drop it off tomorrow morning. Then he asked me if he could borrow my metric scale. Danny is doing a science project. So, I said, sure; and then I thought, while we were on the subject of borrowing, to ask him if I could use his truck to get some plywood for my kitchen floor. So he told me he'd be over at about noon tomorrow and we could go out and get it. Then he said that he got a new truck, a used one with 293K miles on it; but in good shape and running well. So, we'll see if being on the wagon has improved his reliability at all. If he shows up tomorrow, it's a good sign.

11-24-03

The Kinks, "Alcohol"
Big day today. Jim arrived, on time, like he said he would. And he brought the ladder with him. And we went out to Home Depot and got the wood for the kitchen floor. Everything comes to him who waits. If only I could be more patient. (But I have been.)

When we got back, I gave Jim the screw starter I bought on the Internet for him because the last time he was over here fixing my electric he admired the one I had and said he'd never seen anything like it before. But today, he didn't remember having made such a fuss over it, and he couldn't understand why I would have bought it for him. He'd been drinking back then, and now he's stone cold sober and probably experiences a lot of lost memories. It's not only sad memories that you lose when you're drinking to excess.

11-25-03

I am not the insecure and anxious person I have characterized myself as. The fact that people never see me in this way should indicate this to me. Instead, if I attend to the cues I get from others, I would see myself as a formidable presence, capable of great accomplishments, which has been evidenced by my life thus far. I am charismatic and highly influential and people look to me for counsel and example; it has only been lately, over the past ten years or so, that I have not been attending so much to the cues that let me see this side of myself. I've intentionally isolated myself from them in order to solve other problems, and have inadvertently simultaneously cut myself off from positive social feedback. Who'd have thought that I'd come to this realization when I began this (anti-)social experiment some ten years ago? I always took my sense of self-control for granted, never thinking that it might be dependent upon the way that other people saw me. Now, I've got to internalize what others have known about me all along, but I have not: I am a socially valuable person, when here I thought I was just another renegade.

11-26-03

Results of an online IQ test
Pretty good analysis, I must say. But I wonder if they would have been so ready to inform me of my "type" had it been something not so flattering, like maybe Dim-Witted Automobile Mechanic. Of course, wanting to sell me detailed test results, they wouldn't have been so stupid. And, in fact, they may not even have programmed their tests to determine that kind of information. Flattery is always a good sales gimmick. You can attract more flies with honey than...

On the other hand, in my own self-analysis, I tend toward the negative. I think I am being so clever when I seek out unfavorable conclusions. I think I am being productive and analytic. But maybe this propensity is focusing my attention onto my darker side. I should, maybe, seek my brighter light. I should try to see how very well off I really am--maybe not so much financially, but certainly educationally. I understand so many things that people generally do not. But I tend not to see how much good it does me when I conclude I am an isolated clam in a sea filled with schools of fish-people.

I don't put my education to such good social use. Maybe, after all, I really am a renegade. Maybe I should be sitting in a university somewhere spouting philosophical pronouncements to academics who laud me for my esoteric work, or to masses via popular media. But that's not me; it's not the way I've defined myself--or been defined. If I sell myself short, if I do not measure up to my potential as a Visionary Philosopher, well, what does that really mean, anyway? Aren't most visionary philosophers misunderstood? Isn't that the nature of the philosophy business?

11-27-03

Thanksgiving at my brother's house wasn't so stressful as it has been in the past. Things went fairly smoothly. There was a minor disagreement between two of my nephews while playing Monopoly early in the afternoon that led to the end of the game; but I wasn't much into playing anyway, because I got off to a bad start and was real estate poor. And later in the evening, the nephews were acting up upstairs while playing video games, necessitating the intervention of my brother, who proved that four adolescents can cause more disruption than three can. But otherwise, everything went fine. Jim and I spent the evening, between the interruptions by the kids, watching West Wing reruns on the Bravo channel.

While we were watching The West Wing, Joyce began a discussion claiming that Martin Sheen's real name was Estevez. (Thus Emilio's name.) I had thought this too a while ago, but I had let someone convince me that this wasn't true, that Sheen's wife's name was Estevez and that Emilio had his mother's name, and that Martin Sheen was actually Irish. I convinced Joyce of this.

A little bit later, Jim went and got the almanac to look up something, and while he was at it, he looked up Martin Sheen's real name: Estevez. Joyce was just leaving the room, after having been reading a romance novel and become disconcerned with our research. I could have let it go, but I said, "So Joyce was right," which brought her up short, asking why. We informed her, and she said "I knew that."

This is not the first time that I've been caught in this trap. It happens to me all the time, and I hate it. Someone is always convincing me that erroneous information is true; and I am always, in due course then, convincing someone else. It almost makes me want to stop communicating with people altogether, with those who would misinform me as well as with those whom I would misinform. Proper education is a difficult affair.

11-28-03

Homer Simpson
I never feel like doing anything after I come back from a day out socializing. Something in me wants to shut me down. But I forced myself to get out of bed this morning and call a company that charged my credit card for a download that I never requested. I thought I was going to have a hard time, but it went well. The guy said he'd credit my card for the full amount. The real problem, though, is how the hell did they get my credit card number in the first place? Guess I'm going to have to cancel the card.

After the phone call, everything seemed downhill for the rest of the day, and I seriously wanted to go back to bed, but my brother said he was going to come over and help me haul an old console tv out to the curb for trash pickup. So I stayed awake, and he actually showed up; and he stayed for a while and talked. It's nice to have him back again from the world of the inebriated. When he had been drinking, if he showed up at all, he'd do what he came to do and leave immediately, saying he had to be somewhere, probably a bar. Since he's been on the wagon, he's more like the kid I knew when we were growing up. I've missed his playful, irreverent attitude. He's been so serious the past few years.

11-29-03

I went shopping this afternoon, despite the fact that all I wanted to do was go back to bed. I knew shouldn't be going out, but I forced myself; and I must have carried the attitude along with me. It seemed that nothing was going right and no one wanted to deal with me. The girl at the checkout was bitchy and when I discovered that I'd gotten the wrong meat, stuff that was not on sale two for one, I told her I didn't want it; but she said she already rang it up and I'd have to take it to the office for a credit. I knew that this wasn't true, that all she had to do was call someone over from the office to change it on her register, because checkout people who were "customer-oriented" had done that for me many times in the past. I should have insisted that she do just that; but I didn't feel like being confrontational at all, so I let it pass and bought the meat, even though it made me feel even more nasty. Then, later, when I got back home, I realized that she'd charged my credit card as a cash advance instead of a charge--and she never even asked me if that's what I wanted done. I should have taken it back and made a big issue out of it, but I'm too withdrawn, and it's taking its toll on my psyche.

When I'm in an outgoing and gregarious mood (a rare occurrence lately), I can charm most people into doing anything I want them to. And when I am in an outgoing but irritable mood, I can intimidate most people into doing anything I want them to. But when I'm in a withdrawn mood, there is no hope of having things go my way, if they don't happen to go that way of their own accord, which is what I live for, especially in these introverted moods.

The girl in the grocery store may have been unconsciously picking up on my mood (I definitely gave her no reason to respond in kind), probably co-coordinating it with her own bit of bitchiness (I can recognize it because I was feeling the same way myself and feel like I want to project it away from me and onto her) and ascertaining that I suffer for my sin of having chosen the wrong items. It may have been my own fault that I suffered from her negativity (because I was in a nasty mood myself and may have unconsciously transferred my attitude to her), but she's an employee of a business that deals with customers, and the customer is always right. I'll probably end up carrying this attitude back into the store the next time I go there, looking for an excuse to balance the psychic books. But maybe I should be more carefully conscious and balance them in a karmically positive way by being nice to someone. Of course that's what should do. I wonder if I'll do it? In any case, looking back, I think that, for a change, I acted perfectly correctly when I balked at acting to assert myself. I could have made a scene; but I didn't. I was such a good little boy.

This attitude is reminiscent of my behavior as a child, always deferring to others, never asserting myself. I learned from life, eventually, as an adult, that to assert oneself and stand up for one's rights is the American way; but maybe that was the wrong lesson to learn. I was happier when I was laid back and accommodating. And I was more appreciated by others too. But, on the other hand, I established my current financial position by asserting myself, so... Perhaps it's more a matter of balance, of choosing your battles. There's no need to go all out, I now think. With me, becoming an adult, like everything else I've ever done, has been an all-or-nothing affair. There's something to be said, maybe, for taking the middle of the road, and for keeping a part of yourself always young. (I must be getting old to be thinking like this.) [Actually, I think I've been better than most people at retaining the attitudes of my youth.]

11-30-03

Suneeta Peres da Costa, homework
I watched movies all night and then slept until 3:00 pm. And when I finally got up, I saw that the roof above the kitchen was leaking. And I thought I had all of the leaks fixed. The snow from yesterday must have piled up on it and then melted. Shit. I should go out and find the leak and patch it right now, but I don't feel like it.

I'm sinking deeply into that state of mind (or non-mind) out of which the only two escapes I've ever found are physical activity or abandonment of all goals in favor of concentrated work on a single major writing project. [Not that I've ever finished a project in this way; but it serves to reverse the morose psychology.]

If I leave myself to my own deepening winter mentality, I'll end up lying in bed for the next three or four weeks, getting up only for two or three hours a day to check my mail and e-mail and eat meals high in carbohydrates. I hate myself for this inactivity; but not enough to really go and do something about it. Is this the onset of dementia?



Okay. I went outside, took a look at the roof (a little bit of water is pooled near the spot where the leak is), and hauled four loads of wood down from the woodshed to the front porch. If I could manage to get outside to do that very small amount of physical labor each and every day, I could maybe head off sinking any deeper into my malaise.



The cup of coffee I had made me feel pretty good, so I went ahead and had another cup--and wow!! Now I feel great, and I'm getting a whole lot done, stuff that I wouldn't bother going on to do after I finished my ordinary daily writing routine. I've been planning on doing this for weeks now, having a second daily cup of coffee, that is.

I hope this isn't going to be detrimental; but even if it is, as long as it doesn't actually cause my heart to lose its rhythm again, it may be worth it, feeling this good, this motivated, like I used to feel when I drank a lot of coffee. I remember feeling this same way briefly this past summer when I started drinking one cup of coffee per day. But now, I guess, I've become habituated to that small amount and need a higher dosage. The addiction, long dormant, escalates again.



Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
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1. We can experience this eternity in meditation, which is probably where we got the idea that it existed in the first place. Yeah, it does exist, as an ongoing state of the universe; but that's no reason to believe that we as individuals can permanently transcend our finitude when we die.