Transhumanists want to turn us into cyborgs, and that's okay with me. "But [critic William] Hurlbut [a Stanford University biologist who serves on the President's Council on Bioethics] argues that what makes us human depends on being in bodies that aren't always perfect and that can fail." Well, that's the whole point of wanting to be transhuman, isn't it?
He replied, "How would I know? They always act strange!"
I am so excited, just to be alive. I look out at the ridge across the road in the small valley below the house, at the treetops there full in their summer verdure, at the cloud banks above them, and I feel an identity with nature, like I use to feel when we went camping all the time, when I never got tired of the landscape. I think this could be a motive for my visual art, to render and evoke these images/feelings.
I gotta get outside and rake up the hedge clippings from yesterday before it rains, when all I really want to do is get back into the studio and continue the glazing study I'm working on. But if I let hedge clippings lay around too long, they'll kill the grass. What a conflict: suburban domesticity v. the artistic life. I almost always opt for the artistic, and end up hating myself for my bad housekeeping. Oh, well.
Also, I got to get onto the Net and catch up on the news (because broadcast tv is so lame and I always forget to tune in to PBS' Lehrer Report, which, although it has good in-depth analysis, is limited in scope because it's only an hour long and must choose its stories wisely). I always feel left out when I don't stay caught up with all the fucked up things that people are doing in the world.
I don't know why I bother, though. I mean, wouldn't the world be a better place (for me) if I didn't know what was going on, but rather lived in my own little world, writing and painting, oblivious to it all--until a terrorist attack hit nearby and the residue leaked in on me and poisoned me because I didn't know enough to seal my house with duct tape? The world sucks, and it's not my fault.
Big day yesterday. My order from allelectronics.com arrived. I didn't find it on the porch until later in the day, so I spent the evening replacing the wireless phone battery and soldering and duct-taping together a plug for the laptop converter/charger--and to my amazement, it works! The plug I ordered was a servo-connector for radio cars' power supplies. Actually, I ordered several different connectors in the hope that I could adapt one of them and make it work. I expected to have to disassemble the laptop and replace the female plug receptacle within the unit, but it was too deeply buried and wired straight into a circuit board, and I didn't want to be bothered to do all that work, let alone take the chance of damaging the laptop from overheating the circuits (my soldering skills are not that great). [No disassemble. Number five alive!] But, as luck would have it, the smallest two-pin connector that I bought, when turned at a thirty-three degree angle, fit exactly onto the laptop's two pins (of three, the third of which was non-functional, I knew, since the plug from the power supply had only two pins wired). So I wired the plug to the power supply and tested it with a meter. The voltage was way high, but it read the same as that at the other end of the cord. I worried that the wires to the new plug were a smaller gauge than the power supply wires and so wondered if they could handle the current. But they did. I also worried that I might one day plug the damn thing in backwards one day in a fit of inattention and fry the laptop, since the plug fit onto the pins in either direction. So I attached a tiny piece of cardboard to the plug with a wrap of duct tape and viola! A homemade bias device. It took four hours to recharge the completely discharged battery, since the laptop has been sitting idle for at least three months. But after a total of an hour and a half of electronics work, I'm mobile again with a laptop and a cordless phone. Actually, I already have a cordless headset, but that's pretty much restricted to the computer area, since that's where I end up using it the most, and the base, when placed in that area, picks up a lot of interference when the headset is walked away from it into the rest of the house. I don't know why. I've tried to trace the source of the interference, but I can't find it. Probably something to do with the computers, but it exists whether they are on or not.
Later, in bed watching tv, I began to rewire the tv antenna connections. I got two AB switches so that I don't have to replug cables from the tv and the outdoor antenna into the cable to the tv when I want to change stations. The switches work perfectly. They were only four bucks each, and I worried that the inputs might not be well-isolated from each other, but they are. I should have bought two more for the video player, the VCR, and the other antenna from the tv in the living room, because the shipping cost wouldn't have been any more, but I wanted to see if the switches would work first. Now the only project remaining is to build a plug to adapt my new mp3 player to AC. I have the converter, but there is no AC adaptor outlet to the player. So I'm going to attach contacts to the ends of a faux battery made from a short piece of wooden dowel rod and wire them to a 1.5mm plug receptacle that came with the electronics shipment. I'll embed the receptacle into the wooden dowel, put it into the player as if it were a battery, and another viola! AC to DC. The only concern I have is that the voltage or current will be wrong, since I noticed on my new CD player that the battery voltage is 3v (two AA batteries), but the nominal AC adaptor voltage is 4.5. But I figure that's because the internal circuitry for the adaptor steps the voltage down to match the battery, whereas with the mps player, there is no internal adaptor circuitry. So it'll be okay. (I hope.) If not, oh, well. If I fry it, I'm out $35. But I'm not using it anyway now because the single AA battery only lasts twelve hours and rechargeable batteries only last about two or three. Great for when you're out and about, but a pain in the ass when you're using it at home in bed every night.
Working on visual art projects daily is teaching me how to deal with my obsession re writing (maybe). I don't feel the imperative to use every image I create (yet; but I have a vague idea that as I continue to develop my skills, I might fall into this trap of wanting to finish every single piece, to never consider anything I do as practice or a study).
But I must use every word I write (albeit sometimes with a lot of revision)--that is, I must use every idea, or at least the evolved products of that idea--in a writing project. I can't leave any ideas hanging. (So instead I leave whole projects hanging. I've had projects hanging for many years; yet I fully intend to finish them, by the time I reach the age of a hundred and fifty.)
But art in general is a trial and error process, with so much practice work left lying around for every single finished project. I have to learn to deal with this fact, before the OCD drives me crazy. (In a sense, it could be said that OCD is already a definition of being crazy. But I don't think so. It's an adaptation, to avoid becoming crazy. It's a neurosis, not a psychosis--he says, rationalizing, as if it makes a difference.)
There have only been fourteen cases documented since 1941.
This happens after a stroke, and the report on ET tonight says the doctors don't know why. Of course, that could be just bad reporting, so I'm going to have to research it myself to know for sure--if I ever get around to it. Meanwhile, I can offer a possibility:
It could be that, perhaps among the more intelligent victims of a stroke, the ones who are more likely to have formed the necessary neural connections, the brain/mind in its unconscious intuitive wisdom, knowing that speech is going to be affected by the disorder and that the person will be looked upon as somehow defective, perhaps resulting in social stigmatization, scans the available language accents that it knows of and chooses the accent that best approximates the way the victim's speech is going to sound, so that the disability is somewhat covered up by the accent.
If you listen carefully to the victim's speech, you hear that it's not quite like the accent it at first seems to be. It deviates slightly and seems to be more subtle than the typical foreign accent--because it has to conform it to the altered speech pattern caused by the stroke and because it need not be so blatant, but merely just enough to cover up the disability, affectations of accent being counterproductive to the unconscious purpose of fitting in and remaining relatively normal.
When I first heard the speech of the woman on ET who spoke in a French accent, I had to replay the tape several times to be able to detect it. It sounded quite normal to me at first. It was only after several listenings that I heard the "accent," and I had to strain my ears even further to hear it as a French one. The same was true to a lesser degree with the woman with the English accent.
It's a theory.
People remember Reagan and praise him for all the good he did. But no one wants to remember the disgusting attitude he had toward those of us who never measured up to his "great" vision of what Americans were. He used his American "patriotism" against American dissidents and the rest of the dissident world (much like Bush, as a matter of fact, although perhaps a lot more idealistically, or a lot less conveniently self-serving). Reagan was a socially-bigoted asshole who derogated and/or disregarded everyone that he thought did not measure up to his elitist self-opinion, and that attitude informed every aspect of his political career. I for one am not sorry to see him go--although in reality he left quite a while ago. The Alzheimer's, a fitting symbolic end of his life, left his brain where it had been all along, a pile of mush waiting to happen.
I don't care how much "good" a person does during his life, how much he "accomplishes." If his influence takes us in a direction that (I believe) we should not be going, I'm against him and do not praise him at his passing. I've said the same of Napoloeon. May all the ray-guns of the world backfire and zap themselves into oblivion.
There are all kinds of Reagan criticism on the Internet, but practically none on tv. The major media won't touch it, for fear of affecting their bottom line. This is just more evidence that the media has lost its way as the arbiter of American freedom. The corporate agenda has ruined our constitutional safeguards, as is quite evident by the way it has handled terrorism and the Presidency of Evil. Thank the Cosmic Universe we have the Internet. Without it, our freedom would have already been totally usurped.
Reagan was not this great president that all the mainstream media outlets are trying to make him out to be. This would be revisionist history, if the media had any validity as a source of history. Practically all of it is either self-serving or political-serving pap. (Exclude The History Channel and like sources here.)
But the amount of time that I spend reading about these people could (maybe) be used more productively. (Like watching TV, maybe? I guess, after all, it's better to read about real people, even on the Internet than to watch fictional characters in sitcoms and dramas or real people on ET or Celebrity Justice.)
On my homemade homepage (the one I keep on my computer that I use for surfing the Web) I have a long list of links, divided into daily, semi-weekly, weekly, monthly, etc. (each class dependent on how often people update their sites). I work my way through these links religiously. And then, of course, there's lj. I must keep up with my friends page daily, whether or not I post for weeks at a time.
What am I trying to say here? I'm not sure. I should maybe devote this time/attention to people in my "real" world instead of whiling away my hours in cyberspace? I don't know. Cyber people are so much more interesting, maybe because I can choose them, for the most part, without them choosing me (lj being an exception).
I've never been much of a socializer. The Internet is more my style. What did I do before it came along? I fantasized, I think--and watched way too much tv. So maybe it's a good thing that I have all of these "real" people to attend to. It's a nice compromise between having to relate to people and being overwhelmed by them when they dump their pathologies on you just because you happen to be the one who's most available to them and are too unwittingly willing to enable a projection/ transference that you take home with you, so that you end up having to work through "their" problems in your own mind. Watching people's lives from afar is so much safer and saner than relating to people face to face. I subscribe to the Chauncey Gardener philosophy of life: I like to watch.
Of course, projection and transference can occur over the Net too. But it's easier for me to slough that kind of thing off. Mostly, all it requires is to click the modem's disconnect button. That's what I'm going to do now, because I need to do some other things, because life is more than tuning in on other people's lives. (This is a complete reversal of my past psychological behavior, I now realize. I used to be "with" myself all the time, only occasionally switching my focus on to others. Now, at least when I'm in cyberspace, it's the other way around.) Enough. *Click*
Not only is it necessary to be on-guard against foreign dictators and terrorists, but we must now watch out for our own government operatives also. (Actually, we've always needed to watch out; it's just more obvious now.) The FBI will torture a citizen in a minute if they think they can get away with it. And local constabularies with lesser-trained officers are even more likely to engage in nefarious practices. And even if these home-grown terrorists do not actually end up engaging in physical torture, the kinds of mind games they play is a definite form of psychological abuse, not to mention the more detrimental kinds of crap they pull, like ruining your reputation so that you can't get a job, lose all of your friends (but they weren't really friends anyway, were they?), etc.
Maybe it's because it's my business, meaning. This is what I'm trying to do, what I pursue. When I write, I want to know what I mean. So why ask me? I'm searching just like you.
This is my business. I make so very little at it, but it's what I do, sorting out data I encounter. Words and images clutter up my waking brain. I can't just let them flow (away), escaping.
Like dreams that come and go I experience, sane and crazy, things that people say and do that become a part of me, woven into a tapestry of being, incapable of being separated out:
The president promised that he'd run the country efficiently, like a corporation. No one flinched, because they all believed that Halliburton and Enron were stable, aboveboard enterprises;
Gender identification on official government questionnaires is bias and a potential form of discrimination because if someone checks male but looks like a female, of what value is that information?
This is my life, incorporating meaning, assimilating ideas (and images), transmitting data from sources I encounter to destinations that encounter me. It doesn't make me an expert. It make me a conduit.
I have another opportunity to publish, but in order to achieve full benefits of the opportunity, I have to submit before June 30th. I have three manuscripts nearly ready, but in order to finish editing them in time, I'm going to have to work on them full time, which means postponing working on the visual arts projects I've recently begun again. I rationalize by telling myself that finishing a writing project is the same thing as doing visual arts; but I'm not really so convincing. Both are valid pursuits, but I so much want to be a visual artist, and the only way I'm going to manage it is to get back to it on a daily basis. And besides, I really like doing it a lot more than I like writing.
Interestingly, one of the stories I'm finishing up deals with the theme of commitment. I'm realizing that my life goes along so smoothly, so well, when I have no pending deadlines. I do a token amount of work each day in my varying efforts, and over time I get things done. But finishing up a project requires a spurt of concentrated effort, which I never want to commit to. I can finish up a lot of work, bit by bit, and that's okay. But when it comes to telling myself that I've got to get a certain amount of work done by such and such a date, I begin to feel put-upon--even though it's my own self that is doing the putting-upon.
Rereading a nearly finished manuscript over and over again, changing a word or phrase here or there is exactly like adding a brush stroke of paint here or there to improve a nearly finished painting--except that with a painting you can see immediately where a bit of paint is needed, but with a manuscript, you have to read the whole damn thing. Imagine what it was like before there were word processors with spell checkers. I never finished anything back then.
I can keep reading and rereading these stories, again and again, but at some point I have to let them go. "Art is never finished, only abandoned." Except for legitimate glaring oversights, "corrections" become subtler with each rewrite. There is only so much perfectionism one can tolerate.
Anyway, these are prototypes, published to test the format, the layout, the quality of the printer's work, etc. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be as good as they can be, but if they contain subtle (or even obvious) errors. They can be corrected.
And as for the "deadline," if I meet it, the benefits are marginal. No real reason to bust my ass and subvert the other artistic endeavors that I've finally gotten back to. I can read a single section of an otherwise finished work per day, or, if there are no pending finished works (and only if?), I can head another work toward finishing, a small section at a time. The current problem ("deadline," stress, "commitment") is caused by two conditions: 1) I haven't been doing this daily task, otherwise these works would be done now (learn the lesson); 2) I'm pressuring myself under an artificial, self-imposed deadline. It's not all that important. (Except that, in a different sense, it is: I'd like to see myself in print again.)
two related dreams:
1) on a body of water at an unidentified place within the township: I and a group of men are workers whose job it is to load huge logs (approx. eight feet log and one to two feet in diameter) from a heavy-duty raft in the middle of the body of water onto barges to have them taken ashore. But something goes wrong, some minor disaster (maybe a small explosion) and the logs roll off the raft into the water. But we get it together and begin to row the logs ashore as if they were canoes. In this effort we encounter difficulty also. More things go wrong. But we're working at it.
2) Deborah Jane Dr., as if a disjointed continuation of the previous dream: I'm in my old apartment, as if it's a new place, as if I haven't been there before. But it's very familiar. Outside, neighbors are throwing away a lot of good stuff. I begin to go through the garbage, collecting it, even though I don't know where I'm going to put it all. One apartments has thrown away a huge bin, almost dumpster-sized, containing many dozens of red roses and a collection of fine crystal champagne glasses, at least a dozen. I gather up the glasses and several dozen roses, and I point them out to others who have wives and sweethearts1 who might appreciate them as gifts. Inside the apartment, I have an aquarium full of goldfish that I'm transferring to smaller bowls because the aquarium is leaking and will soon be empty.
I interpret these dreams when I awaken as having to do with my current creative work. The logs are projects I'm working on, having some difficulty with, but trying to get them done (to shore) before some terrible ongoing disaster (?) prevents the completion of the work.
Same thing with the roses, glasses, and fish. They're projects that have been left abandoned for a long time, but now I am resurrecting them, taking them out of the "trash" (my "staged work" folders) and making use of them again.
My grade school building, although not at school, but at a later time workplace, ala new atc, except not in appearance, but rather limited to offices in place of the classrooms, although in some respects similar to atc (at least in "mood") re the newer (office) employees:
[This dream jumps around, but in a kind of integrated way, almost as if in flashbacks/flashaheads instead of in the more typical "don't know which part came first and which came second" motif.]
In the front room (first room in the building--west end): I help D to write fiction by teaching her how to set up her laptop to easily handle files, as, for example, creating a desktop folder for the documents she writes, putting a "send to" folder on the desktop for word processors, etc. Also included here, without detail, is the idea that I'm instructing her on how to format and structure a story, because she wants to write, like I do. I get a call from Gene W re getting business from him (he's working for a company that orders simply done circuit board/binders, ala Westinghouse Youngwood/Virgil Hensley). I talk to him on a cell phone. Later, I get a callback from him in a back room [not the lunch room (see later), but beyond it somewhere, as if it's in the hallway that exits to the front of the building]. D takes the call, as she seems to be some kind of secretary, and she has to trace me down because I'm out roaming the halls [continues after next two scenes].
In a "back" room (repressed? anal?), like a kind of mini-lunch room where employees can get coffee, I talk to Jack from "Will and Grace," who is an employee whom I like a lot, decidedly not physically, but affectionately nonetheless.
There is a definite distinction between the new and old sections of the building (all of the office activity takes place in the old section); at one point, when I get near to the new section, I feel a definite stricture not to go up there, but to remain in the old section. But, in a sense, the old section, down by the offices where the hallway exits to the front (where I take the second call from Gene) is superimposed by the corresponding hallway in the new section, the one adjacent to the girls' bathroom.
(Continued from earlier.) The call from Gene is a three-way conference call. Gene is on the phone with a woman, a client, when I pick up. I say hello, but the woman doesn't realize who I am or even that I am on the phone, thinking perhaps that there is some kind of interference that is causing someone else's voice to sound. So I wait and listen, and a little bit later, when prompted by Gene and I have the occasion to speak again, the woman [whom I can "see" (imagine?--but it's definitely more vividly than that) realizes that I am a part of the conversation, and so she apologizes for not having known and includes me, whereas earlier she spoke as if I didn't exist. I will later understand this motive to be that which women (acting unconsciously) will exhibit when they don't know that we are intimately connected, but realize it later on and look back in retrospect to understand that I had been attracted to her for a long time, but seldom ever understanding that she had been attracted to me also, but repressed it. (Cf., later.)
Back in the front room at quitting time, I am waiting for the "bell" (actually, it's more of a loud electronic "ding") to ring; but the room is empty and I see that people are already exiting out the front of the building, which is a big no-no, to leave before the bell. Out the back glass door (which doesn't exist at the school) I see the new (dream-)atc parking lot. Traffic is backing up and so I feel no hurry to get out of the building only to have to wait in long lines of cars to get out of the lot and the dream-"park" [the "recessed" one, the one down in the valley off of Hamil Rd./Old Frankstown Rd. (near the Boyce Park headquarters) dream-construction].
Just before the empty front room at quitting time, but within this sequence (as if it is a flashback), a girl comes in to the office, and others are there also. The girl is somewhat homely and sickly--not as known from her appearance, necessarily, but because she describes her maladies (no details provided, but the essence of what she says conveys that she is not so well. This could be an unconscious indication on her part that the problems she describes are mental rather than physical). I'm attracted to her, despite (or maybe because of) her homeliness [and her mental problems?].
Later, in the main hallway, after the bell, I am walking westward (after I've talked on the phone for the second time with Gene), and I see her walking toward me. She is walking and acting overtly sexy and sexual (two different motives, the first unconscious and natural, the second, conscious and affected), wearing a dress that is slit up the sides, low-cut, and very revealing, the same dress she had been wearing earlier, except that when she stood in place, it looked quite conservative (a parallel to the sexy/sexual dichotomy), but when she walks, it kind of "opens up" and becomes a sexual vehicle.
I continue to dwell on this dual attraction theme (physical/sexual v. homely/affectionate (cf., Jack, above) later, after I am awake, realizing that, possibly, a part of the difficulties I have had with women may be caused by the fact that at different times I want different things from them, which causes conflict and confusion, not in me (well, maybe in me, unconsciously), but definitely in the women I relate to. I want:
I'm aware of my more subtle attraction to women, in ways, I think, that most men are not. In an episode of "The Practice," Victoria Principle, playing the role of a Black Widow, stated that she knew when men were attracted to her. My reaction to that character's stated ability was one of disgust. I hated her. I felt an aversion to her, despite the fact that I knew what she meant--or maybe because of it. This denied attraction is the same one that functions in love/hate relationships. You're attracted, but at the same time, you're repulsed. This is not one of the options in my list above, despite the attraction. Women may feel attracted to me (which is what they really mean when they say that they know when men are attracted to them, because all attraction is mutual, if half or fully repressed), but I reserve my (at least conscious) attraction for women who are not such cunts.
[The parallel between work and school should be particularly revealing, but I'm going to have to leave this for another time.]
In the summer when it's hot, when I'm working inside, I tend to run around in my underwear. I sleep that way and when I get up I just continue on that way, when there's no reason to get dressed. But every once in a while, when I'm planning to go outside to do some quick minor task, I catch myself almost forgetting to put on pants. One of these days, sooner or later, I'm going to end up doing it. And then I imagine I'll be shipped off way prematurely to some home for doddering degenerates. Throughout my life I've always tended to be somewhat absentminded (which I like to think of as distant). As I continue to get older, I hope it doesn't become more pronounced.
I remember having dreams when I was younger about riding around on my motorcycle without a helmet. That was back when this state had helmet laws. And I actually did this one day, drove down to the end of the street before I remembered that I didn't have a helmet on and had to go back to get it. In the dreams I replay the anxiety I felt that day that I realized I was helmetless, certain I wouldn't be able to get back home before a cop saw me. I was always overly fearful of authority (and therefore defiant, via compensation) when I was young. (I'm still fearful, but no longer overly; I've found better ways of compensating.) This small incident continued to play itself out in dreams for years.
One day, around that same time, db and I met a guy at a diner who was traveling from New Jersey to Pittsburgh on his motorcycle--without a helmet. He explained that New Jersey didn't have helmet laws, and he'd gotten the whole way here before he'd been stopped, five miles from his destination, by a local cop who made him park his bike in the diner lot until he got a helmet. He was in the army, reporting to his new post at the Veteran's hospital. We loaded his bike up in my van and drove him there. He was so grateful. He wanted to give us five of his last eight dollars. He wanted to give us more, but he didn't have it. I tried to refuse the money, but he insisted. So I finally ended up taking three and leaving him the five.
Helmet laws are stupid. And, as a matter of fact, so are seat belt laws. They're a perfect example of how society intrudes itself unnecessarily on its citizens. It's a matter of a certain small group of people deciding what's right for the majority and imposing on the rest of us their decisions (which usually either have something to do with morality or have some financial consequence that benefits the deciders). In the case of helmet and seat belt laws, the consequence is higher insurance rates--but for the most part, re helmets, that problem can be addressed by increased motorcycle insurance, thus insulating non-cyclists from the costs. Seat belts are different. Injuries caused by lack of seat belts raise everyone's rates. Nevertheless, the law is still an imposition. It's a way that vested interests manipulate others' behavior unnecessarily.
This same basic argument applies to wearing pants. (It doesn't cost anyone any extra money when one goes without pants, but it is an imposition, to be forced to wear them.) If I don't want to wear pants in public, why should someone be allowed to dictate that I do? What business is it of others if I wear pants or not? If they don't like what they see, they don't have to look at me. It's only their uptight morality that prompts people to make laws against public nudity. And anyway, if I wander outside in my underwear, I'm still clothed--even more than my neighbor across the street is when she does her gardening in a bikini (which, by the way, doesn't bother me one single bit. In fact, I approve wholeheartedly). But I'm sure someone would have something to say about me running around in public in my underwear--which proves that it's not the fact of public nudity that people key on, but the idea of it. Underwear suggests nudity in people's minds. Bikinis do not. Well, I guess that's not entirely true, but you know what I'm trying to say. It's a matter of morality.
These parallels occur to me now because of an incident that happened yesterday afternoon. I finally got my motorcycle running again (it's been years) and I tested it out by riding it down to the end of the street--and wouldn't you know it, a cop stopped me. The bike isn't licensed or inspected. I explained to him that I was working on it and testing it out, but he didn't care. He took out his ticket pad and started to lecture me. I was feeling particularly ornery, so I took off my sunglasses and looked him straight in the eye, which cops don't like. When you look straight at them, they suspect that you're a defiant criminal.
I said something like "Wait a minute. I know I broke the law. It's my responsibility. I'm ready to face the consequences. But I don't have to listen to this. Just write up the ticket, do your job, and spare me the lecture."
For a brief moment we stared coldly into each other's eyes. And then he said "I was going to let you off with a warning, but I think now I'll just write it up."
I immediately changed my attitude. I said "Whoa. Wait a minute, sir. I take it all back. If it's going to save me some money, I'll be glad to listen respectfully to anything you have to say."
He smiled, for the first time. He said, okay, he'd let me go. He told me to take the bike home and leave it there until I got it licensed and inspected. Cops aren't so bad, some of them. Some of them appreciate the fact that you'll assert your right to be yourself and not kowtow to them, even when they feel they have to act to assert authority. But I wonder if my strategy would have worked if I hadn't been wearing any pants.
I don't maintain that foreign countries don't do the fucked up things they do, or that they are not wrong. I simply maintain that the U.S. criticism of them for doing the same or similar things that we do, often in disguised and/or nationally or governmentally unconscious ways, is disingenuous. We're just as fucked up in our own way as other countries are in theirs, and our criticism of them is denial and projection. We are not the morally superior nation that we want to believe we are. The human race is fucked up, and we are a perfect example of it.
I'm experiencing the very strange phenomenon of actually being ahead in my work. It's five a.m. and I'm up after four hours of sleep, wide awake, and part way through today's writing schedule. Not only that, but I'm six days ahead of schedule. It must be the summer.
Look. You are you, here, now, not because of some gracious act of kindness bestowed upon you by some superior being "up there" somewhere, but because two cells happened to get together for whatever reason on the day you were conceived. If those two cells hadn't made contact, well then that's it, baby--or rather, not-baby. You're nowhere. You don't exist and never will. If your parents have a baby at some other time, it'll be someone else, not you. You only get one chance, and this is it. So forget about how lucky you feel to have been born in this time and place because it couldn't ever have been otherwise. Start thinking instead about...
Oh, the hell with it. I don't care. Go ahead and think about any stupid thing you want to. I do.
I appreciate good music and the musicians that play it. And when I get the chance to meet them, I always make it a point to let them know, in a measured and thoughtful way, carefully choosing my words, that I value their talent. But it goes against my very nature to sit (or stand) in an audience and cheer and shout and go crazy over a performance. I think that people who do this kind of thing make themselves look ridiculous, like some mindless herd of animal-humans participating in some ritualistic hysteria-phenomenon. I hate to be around these kinds of people when they begin the mass-mentality group-togetherness worship of their chosen music gurus (whatever the medium might be). I like live performances, when the audience is sedate and displays its appreciation quietly with respectful applause. Otherwise, I'd rather listen to recorded music in my own space, alone. It's the way I am.
Alan and I leave our old workplace on my motorcycle and travel up into the residential/commercial hills to the east, heading toward Wilkinsburg. But for no apparent reason, a cop, who turns out to be William Shatner, stops us. Although he's somewhat threatening in his demeanor as he inspects the bike to see if it's street-worthy, I'm having a hard time taking him seriously, because I'm half-lucidly aware of his real identity. I defend the ratty nature of the motorcycle, admitting that I've let it deteriorate somewhat but nevertheless assuring him that it's legal. He finally decides to let us go, and we head off into traffic, trying to get home.
I suppose I should thank George Bush for enabling the development of my detachment from the illusion of being. Each year that goes by finds me participating less and less in the Great American Society, as I cut back, more than I ever imagined was possible, on the basic amenities in order to maintain a positive cash flow. (I've recently discovered that if I bathe in the sink before I shower, briefly, to wash away the soap and wash my hair, I can save ten dollars per quarter on my sewage bill, not to mention what I might save on my water bill, which hasn't yet arrived this quarter. And I've just begun watering all my plants with the distillate from the dehumidifier in the basement. This won't save much money, I'm sure, but there's a principle involved.) Now, Greenspan is threatening to raise interest rates, finally, and the Bushies are threatening Greenspan, who seems to have become quite vulnerable in his aging situation. The threat is being applied slowly at first, via media pundits, but Greenspan knows as well as I do that it's only a matter of time, if he will not relent and toe the "all but free federal handouts for corporations" party line, that the Big Guns will begin to apply the pressure. I think it may be time to retire, Al. They've got your number. (He's probably hanging in there, though, for a change to a liberal administration that can appoint his successor and, if this is the case, then I forgive him his recent wimpishness--maybe.)
When you encounter a time when things seem to be going continually wrong, blame it on God (or on his minions)--because in a sense it's true. When things go well, some people have no problem at all attributing good fortune to God; but things going badly tend to become blamed on the devil. Good PR, that, on God's part.
The fact is that it is neither God nor the devil that determine whether our lives are going well or not, but rather our own selves. When things go wrong, it's either because of our own inattentions or because of the attitude we take toward inevitable events over which we have no real control, but only want to believe we do.
But if we're going to attribute the good times to God, then it's only logical that we attribute the bad times to him also; because God, if It exists, either determines everything that happens, or It determines nothing. The invention (by "righteous" people) of the devil and of evil in general is just a clever way to make God look always good.
We attribute to external powers that which we are incapable of seeing as our own causation. We deny and project onto God and the devil those events that we do not wish to credit ourselves for. These two great powers reside within the human psyche. And we each have the ability to attribute actions/events to one or the other.
So, when I go through a spell where a lot of insignificant little things go wrong, such as when I start to continually drop things, almost as if they jump out of my hand, or when tasks just won't go right and I have to struggle through frustration just to make the simplest things happen, I blame that goddamn, mother-fucking God.
I know that I, via less than adequate attention to what I'm doing, because I refuse to slow down and focus more intensely on significant details, because I will not adopt a calm and quiet demeanor, cause errors of fact and judgment. But I don't care. It's God's fault.
When I project stuff onto God, it's the same as if I'm blaming myself, but in a wider, larger way. I blame that part of myself that is "out there" (or "in here") beyond my immediate, self-understandable existence. I'm an asshole for acting in this way; therefore God is an asshole too. It acts to make me screw up. So screw It.
I thought then, even before he left, that he might be comparing my appearance to his own, which is quite tanned, even more so than usual. I wonder how he got so tanned, if he's been spending a lot of time outside--and why? I thought to ask him, but I didn't. I let his comment pass, mostly because I attributed his perception not so much to the fact that I am not so tan as to the fact that I'd just awoken from an afternoon nap and was a little bit out of it, feeling awkward and non-communicative and thinking that he may be perceiving my wan inward nature psychologically, accentuated by my recently loss of ten pounds, the result of a successful Atkins regimen.
Now, I think that maybe my brother had a deeper agenda. He may be (unconsciously, of course) engaging in that old comparison between us, as he looks for ways to see himself as superior to me, in order to ward off his feelings of inferiority. He's tanned and I am not. That's one for him. Apparently, he's proud of being tan. And he does look good--in that Hollywood/George Hamilton sort of way. But he certainly isn't at all svelte like George. But I am. (Sorry. I couldn't resist it. I don't want to present what might be evidence that I have as much of an agenda as he has. But then, I am writing this, aren't I? Why? Even though I feel not at all defensive, why do I feel that this needs to be communicated?)
I'm typing this on the laptop on the back patio, because finally the weather is good enough to sit out all day long without having to worry about whether it's going to rain, when I'd have to schlep the laptop and all of my other paraphernalia back into the house. So, before I started to work, I sat in the sun for about half an hour, not so much to get tanned (although that idea keeps coming up, so there must be some unconscious motivation at work here) as to luxuriate in the summer's warmth and pretend I am on vacation. (I am, permanently; but the vacation feeling has become so prevalent over the years so as to cause me not to notice it). If I so wanted to, over the next few weeks, I'd concentrate on sitting out for a few minutes each day to get as nice a tan as my brother's. But I'm not sure I want to, despite the inklings I have that it might be an unconscious agenda of mine as well. It's a lot of trouble, and maybe it's bad for my skin (what with the cancer scares and all). And besides, as I've previously written, I kind of like looking a little bit pale and nerdy. It's an "in" appearance these days, akin to heroin-chic and/or the kind of look that cloistered computer hackers develop from spending long hours inside, possibly throughout the night so that they have to sleep during sunlight hours. As a matter of fact, that's part of the reason how I came to look this way in the first place, although my activity is more art related than computer. I should start painting landscapes outside in the summer. But I'm always too skittish about painting something less than perfect in a place where someone might observe it. People only get to see the very best of what I create--visually. Verbal art, however, is another matter altogether.
1728, garage: Mom (along with X?) is concerned that I do not have a girlfriend, specifically because of her perception of my difficult future security, and so she sets out on a project to find me a rich older woman to marry, an idea that I scoff at. The goal itself, as well as the way she goes about it, are completely atypical of her attitude and behavior. Meanwhile, Cecelia has been becoming more and more bold. She nearly states outright that she wants me to be her lover, which is completely uncharacteristic of her and her religious mindset. We go into the house, where this same theme continues, and Cecilia comes on even more strongly, but without a direct (that is, physically engaging) approach. But I feel I need more from her and thus do not commit to her. (What more do I need? An actual physical initiating sexual overture, it seems.) Meanwhile, X has returned back home and has nowhere to sleep. Someone (Mom? Even more atypical) suggests, or intimates, that X can share my bed, which I say that I don't mind at all, and apparently, neither does X. [Is there some kind of Cecelia/Mom/X parallel here, evident of an Oedipal complex?] I fantasize snuggling in bed with X at night. This is not in the back bedroom, but in a kind of "side" bedroom that doesn't exist in reality. (This is an "aside," or something new that didn't exist then? A part of my present, but not my past psychology?) The scene shifts seamlessly to lower Rockcliff at the stone quarry where Cecilia/Mom/X continue their respective agendas as I check out difficult halftone and screen tint prints made by various atc employees. Each print, as each employee brings it to me for advice on how to get it to print correctly, is more difficult than the last, incorporating many narrow line reverses immediately adjacent to tints and tint reverses. The level of difficulty finally reaches a point where I decide that we are being asked to do the impossible. And yet, that is an attitude that we are not allowed to have, that every type of copy submitted by a customer, no matter how difficult, is to be done with a precision that reflects the experts that we are. Surprisingly though, despite the stress level of having to deal with this impossible work (in reality, we didn't have the equipment for it, and every time I tried to purchase it, I was met with resistance), I do not get rattled in the least little bit. In fact, I handle each difficult problem calmly and with aplomb, which surprises me as I observe my cool behavior. I appreciate the way I'm acting, even as I see how delicate an edge I am working on, knowing the I could end up losing it at any moment. But somehow I know that I won't, that I've actually learned something from having worked under impossible conditions. [What? That when you are being asked to do the impossible, you shouldn't let it rattle you, because you are not the reason why it can't be done. The problem is the unrealistic demands of management/customer service (or, more generally, whatever authority exists within the current situation).] Also, as I'm examining these various prints, women/girls are coming up to me, expressing various degrees of interest in me personally--each with various degrees of directness. These two themes run in parallel, as if the tints/halftones are a metaphor system for my relations with women, each member of each system (halftones/women) defined by the degree of difficulty each presents. Transition smoothly to second floor (old building) customer service area: as I deal with each difficult job with each respective customer service rep (they're all women), explaining the difficulties without actually coming out and stating that we cannot do the job--because that sin would get me into trouble when each rep would report back to management that I "have a bad attitude"--I also speak with a woman, a Judy Davis type, who questions me as to my personal behavior toward women, particularly toward the women in this company, but applying the comments generally also. She is being very direct and straightforward with me, in a way that the other reps are not, not so much, each to a different degree, analogous to each print job each rep is dealing with me about. I awaken and immediately relate the dual symbol system (difficult halftones/difficult women) to my art as I realize it as a third aspect of the subtle complexity.
An afterthought: Fuck every customer service rep who ever existed--with the exception of those who have bent over backwards to cater to me as a customer, giving me freebies, etc. in order to make or keep me happy.[Hmm. Saying fuck them could have been a repressed sexual suggestion.]
When my brother was over here last week, he saw some tv cables sitting on the front porch, and he tried to get me to give them to him. I said no, that I was going to use them to extend the cable from the tv in the living room into the bedroom, because the ones I have there now are too short and run across the middle of the floor so that I'm always tripping over them. He said that the tv in his time-share in Florida doesn't have cable in the bedroom and he wants to extend the one in the outer room. Again, he tried to talk me into loaning them to him until he got back from vacation, but again I said no, that I just got them out of the basement and wanted to get it done. He said it's no big deal, that all he has to do is put two connectors on some cable that he has. But then he said that when he came back home that these cables would probably still be lying here. I said no, they wouldn't, that I was going to connect them tonight. Actually, he didn't realize that there were three shorter cables all rolled into one loop. If he had, he'd probably have continued to try to talk me into loaning him one of them.
I don't know why I resisted him. I almost gave them to him, but I had really wanted to get the tv hooked up right and didn't feel like waiting two more weeks. And I wanted to minimize the amount of cable I used and wouldn't have known which one of the three short segments to give him because I didn't know which segment(s) I would need. And anyway, when I did hook them up, I ended up re-doing the whole system, and I pulled a lot of unused cable out from behind and around things and ended up with more unused cable than I started with. I think, though, that I unconsciously felt manipulated by him, that he was trying to make me do something I didn't want to do. Usually, in his case, I'd let him get away with it, figuring that he's my family, when I'm more resistant to others doing this same thing. And usually he doesn't do this sort of thing--I don't think; but maybe I've never noticed it before. But as I think about it, I think that maybe I'm becoming more intransigent, even re him. Maybe I'm just so tired of being manipulated that my defenses have extended automatically to everyone, family included. For a short while I felt bad about not lending him the cable, but I got over it as I realized the subtle way he had been trying to wheedle me out of it. It was a process that extended beyond the simple words he said. Or maybe it's just me being overly sensitive. Probably.
Ditto. I stayed up all night painting. I get so much more out of painting that I do out of writing any more.
I began a new batch of wine today, the first in twelve years. Actually, it's mead. It started fermenting immediately and rapidly. This is going to be finished in less than a week, I'll bet. Its potential alcohol is only eleven percent max. But that's okay. That's what I wanted, a low alcohol content, more like beer than wine. Next, after The Beer Machine ingredients I ordered arrive and I get that started, I'm going to start a five-gallon batch of beer from scratch. Well, not entirely from scratch. I'm not going to sprout and mash the barley and all that. I'm going to make it from barley extract and hops. Then I'm going to go into full production: two five-gallon carboys at a time for the summer months, plus The Beer Machine. That's approximately twelve or thirteen cases, which would be my yearly consumption if I drank a pint a day, which is almost the rate I've been drinking store-bought beer lately. This ambitious project may have to wait until next year. I don't have the bottles and I don't want to spend that much on swing tops all in one go, and I don't want to waste my time and money on a capper and caps.
I've wanted to make some mead for long time now, so yesterday I finally decided to do it. I gathered all the materials together and whipped up a quick batch. It started fermenting immediately and is currently going crazy. I have high hopes for it.
I haven't made any wine for twelve years, ever since my last grape vine died. And that last batch was still sitting in the gallon glass bottle secondary fermenter on top of my built-in cabinets in the kitchen. So I figured it was way past time to bottle it.
I lifted the bottle off the shelf and it cracked along the bottom and broke, all of the wine and marbles (used to 'top up' the wine, i.e., eliminate the air space) cascading down the cabinets and across the kitchen floor, soaking my socks and the dog.
That damn dog has always got to be underfoot. But she didn't seem to mind the mess. In fact, she didn't even mind being banished to the bathroom until I got around to giving her a bath. She just lay in there licking herself all over.
It took me two and a half hours to clean up the floor, the cabinet (including the contents of four of the five drawers), and the dog. The floor has never been so clean, and the house smells like the most delicious wine I've ever made, but never drank.
It's a fruity, semi-dry odor that hangs low in the air and is stirred up every time I walk through the kitchen. And when I leave the house for a moment and return, it smells all the more potent. I thought of spraying air freshener, but why mask this delicious odor?
Hmm. Maybe I've concocted a new room deodorizer.
I bought some brewing ingredients online. I finally found a site that charges nominal shipping--i.e., simply passes UPS charges on instead of gouging the customer with inflated shipping costs and a "handling" fee. I've always hated that practice. Who do they think they're kidding? Build the overhead into the price, for Christ sake. It offends me that they have to point out the fact that I'm paying for them to "handle" their own products. Fuck them.
I got some brewers yeast, various additives, and bottles--reusable plastic 12 ouncers. I'd been looking for them for several days, without success. I got 48 of them at the cheapest price I've seen: eleven dollars for 24 plus very minimal shipping. But maybe I'll buy a capper so that I can more permanently save a few bottles per batch.
I'm a freshman at Penn State, and flunking out, because I can't focus myself and feel distracted all the time. I go to classes, but having started several days late, I'm lost. Everyone else seems to know what's going on while I'm left out. I roam around campus between classes and, slowly, I come to the realization that I have an insight that no one else seems to have. I begin to try to tell people about it, but no one seems to want to understand. I try to explain it to a friend of mine: I show him two small metal pins that protrude very slightly (about 1/16th of an inch) on the outside of my forearm, just above the wrist. These are "connection" points. When I brush something across them and the object catches slightly on them, I intuit the information that the object has to offer. I take the guy to the dorm room of a weird guy who has these kinds of pins protruding in sets of two all over his body. By means of them, he can "plug into" people and "know them" directly, without an intervening medium such as words. He's a wan, pale, skinny kid who's confined to his bed. I wake up "understanding" the meaning of this great insight, but by the time I get the computer booted up, I can't "remember" it.
Most people in polite society avoid the "c-word" like the plague, but University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman refused to call the slur a vile word. "I've actually heard it used as a term of endearment," said Hoffman. She made the statement in a deposition for lawsuits filed by three women who allege they were sexually assaulted by University of Colorado football players and recruits. One woman's attorney said a football player used the insult against a female teammate. The president of Boulder's National Organization of Women offered a different perspective: "It is so clear what that word is about. It's used to dehumanize a woman, and strip her of her decency."
Better grab your wallets, America: Syria is getting ready to slap the United States with trade sanctions. Syrian lawmakers drafted the America Accountability Act in response to a 2003 U.S. law that calls for sanctions against the Middle Eastern country for its alleged support of terrorism. "We are not simple-minded to the degree that we imagine we can affect the great American economy," said a Syrian lawmaker who backs the proposal. "But we are able to maintain our dignity and slap the Americans so they know that if they continue with their arrogant policies, people everywhere around the globe will spit at them." Ouch.
I got up, got a cup of coffee, and fired up the computer, determined to do some kind of work. But the caffeine had an unusually pronounced effect so that I thought it might cause an irregular heartbeat. That fear passed quickly and I settled into a short-lived pleasantly motivated state; and for the rest of the night I was fine--no symptoms of depression at all, nor has any returned (although I am still not back on my "productive schedule"). I don't quite know how to interpret this episode, except to look at it more simply as a phenomenon instead of a cause/effect type of mental problem. Maybe the beer or relative lack of caffeine or disrupted sleep pattern (or all three, and other things besides) caused the episode (which as I looked back seemed to be coming on for a while); or maybe they were just the effects of some other kind of "disturbance." I don't know.
There's something very satisfying to me about the art of winemaking. I have bottles of homemade wine going back to the seventies. I don't drink the wine I make. I bottle it and collect it. So I wonder why I want to do it. Maybe I was a vintner in a previous life.
The supplies I ordered online finally arrived yesterday via UPS and I started the second batch of mead last night. It's a fruit mead, made from oranges, bananas, and apple juice. It's happily bubbling away now in the fermenter. And it smells so good. I can't wait to bottle it.
This afternoon the beer ingredients arrived. So I'll be whipping up a batch tonight. I can hardly wait. Fresh homemade beer is so much better tasting than even the best store-bought stuff.
I'm driving down Rodi Road with db. It's Friday evening and she has come to stay with me for the weekend; or rather, we are going away together, and deciding as we drive where it is that we will go. I'm at a bit of a loss as to why she's here with me, why she would leave her family to spend a weekend with me. I don't question her about it, but it bothers me to the point of thinking that I really don't want to go away with her, that if she is not returning permanently, then I'd rather be without her. She must sense my doubt, because she prompts me to decide what we will do. I kind of conclude that we should just spend the evening together, perhaps go out to dinner and see a play at the Playhouse. She agrees. But we never get there. A series of statements (questions?) exists somewhere, as if written on a piece of paper, but more like they are hanging in the air in a non-imageless way in front of me as I drive. [They are in my (unconscious?) mind?]. I don't know what this list represents, or even what the actual words are, but I have the feeling that my decision not to spend the weekend with db has resolved the first five items on the list. I am up to item six, which will be dealt with via our evening together and via the following:
My bedroom at 6023: db is working on a computer, and I am showing her how to use it. An eleven-year-old cousin of mine (non-existent in reality) whose name is Quinn is visiting us. He is here specifically to visit me, and not the rest of the family. CUT TO:
The basement: I stand in the laundry room, behind the bar. Slim comes into the room and jumps up onto the bar, and in that way that he would do, he half-barks/growls meaningless guttural sounds that are nevertheless supposed to have a meaning, as if he is trying to talk. I have to say "What?" to him several times in order to force him to make his meaning more clear so that I can understand it. Finally, I understand the words "Quinn...is...where?" Quinn, I realize, has gone back home because the weekend is over, and Slim misses him. [Quinn is a young me, and Slim is an aspect of my present self that misses him?] I explain to Slim that Quinn has gone back home, that he doesn't live here permanently. He's sad about this.
Back upstairs, Quinn is back, temporarily, as if he has not yet left but is preparing to. He admires an electronic device I have sitting on my desk that has some kind of a function I don't understand. It's something I have highly valued, but because he likes it so much, I give it to him. I recognize a correspondence it has to item number five on my list. But I understand that by giving it away, I am closing out a portion of my life, and also that I am relieving myself of an unnecessary attachment. And anyway, the device is only one of many that I have, the others of which I am going to have to give away also, sooner or later. Quinn's mother [a combination personality of my aunt (Kay?) and Joyce--which would maybe make an aspect of Quinn one of my nephews] has arrived to pick up Quinn. At the bottom of the basement steps we discuss why Quinn has come for the weekend--something about the Brights organization. I'm amazed that this "coincidence" with the Brights has come up, that they have had something to do with Quinn's visit, but Quinn's mother says that it is no coincidence, that "I" arranged with them to have him come for a visit. I don't understand, because I don't remember having arranged any such thing and understand that had I consciously known of it, I would have ruled out such a visit as both superfluous and too intimate [like I ruled out spending a weekend with db. In other words, there was enough of a conscious agenda in the first part of the dream to short circuit whatever the intent was to spend the weekend with db, so my unconscious mind changed the images to a form that I would more readily accept: db = Quinn = me when I was young = an admiring form of my own self for my later self and an idealization of my later self for my young self??]