by j-a

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May 2005

Social Obligation
the Experience of Belongingness

(is driving me crazy)

a reticence to act

Work work work. Work work work.
Gentlemen, we've got to protect our phony-baloney jobs.
Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles
I wake up in the morning, fold my hands and pray for rain.
I got a head full of ideas that are driving me insane.
Bob Dylan, "Maggie's Farm"
I'm at a party, which is primarily for younger people, mostly guys. I feel a little bit out of place, but not overly so, because everyone there seems implicitly to accept me. [The party is the jury duty episode, where I felt out of place and yet accepted--because I was on the same level as everyone else; that is, there was no developed social status system.] CUT TO:

I'm driving down Third Street with one of the guys from the party (Ronnie D.?). We drive too far, onto the Third Street extension and beyond it into the woods, which is, rather, a flat plain (recurrent). But we go just a little bit too far and enter the domain of a gun club, where members, unhappy with our presence, shoot at us with shotguns, pelleting us with harmless, yet stinging buckshot. [Some of the comments I made at during jury deliberations were off-topic (which I prefaced by stating thusly; and several jurors corrected my misapprehensions, politely and respectfully; and I acknowledged their comments as having properly corrected my errors. Retrospectively, I should have been quiet on those points; but they were of little significance and passed for the most part unnoticed, like buckshot from my perspective of overly sensitive social paranoia.)] We turn around and, now walking, head back toward Third Street, which becomes a hybrid form of Maplewood Avenue, a sort of indoor/outdoor area. I meet (or the guy I'm with turns into) David Arquette, who is at first his typical, friendly, gregarious, almost bumbling, "ebullient" self (Colleen); but as we walk "up" a "hill" into another "room" that is offset to the left (as if the "street" takes a forty-five degree turn, or the "room" is just off to the left slightly and up a few steps), he becomes more manipulative, apparently with a hidden agenda. This room is a kind of art studio that, although it doesn't belong to me, I am supervising. [At the same time, it is (memories of) my childhood (1728) and the trial experience, which were definitely therapeutic processes for me. The two seem to be working together as therapy, the latter informing the former.] Arquette brings Courtney Cox with him, and it is soon revealed that they are having relationship problems, based upon his sexual peccadilloes. (It's not revealed whether these are of a "cheating" nature, or simply odd desires and practices, but the former is suggested by later imagery.) Also, an even larger problem is his drinking, which he must do sneakily in order to avoid being caught by Courtney; but he's not so good at avoiding being caught, having lots of cans of beer on his person and lying around, and passing them out to all of his "visitors." (In a sense, the lower part of the street/rooms is his place and the upper part is mine.) [My brother is suggested here, since this takes place (partly) on the street behind his house (lower area); and because the last time I was over at his place, Joyce told me that she found a case of beer in his truck and "confiscated" it.] At first, David plies me with beer and tries to "convert" me to his "way of life" (I've been drinking a lot of beer lately--sometimes as many as two a day--which is a lot, for me); but when he sees that he can't entice me, he redirects his endeavors to art, which I am more responsive to. David is the same character as the guy I was with earlier at the party, and the beer is a remnant carried on from that part of the dream. [Ronnie and I used to drink a lot together.] Over a period of time (perhaps as much as a day), he and others create collage-like works of art; some are finished and quite good, and others are obviously unfinished, but have great potential. David and a fat girl are working as complementary artists, doing works in tandem: David's tend to be better and more finished, while the fat girl's are unfinished, but promising. [There were a lot of fat girls on the jury; this may refer to one of them, whom I picked up on unconsciously--thereby making David (also) one of the male jurors. And Courtney, as Monica in "Friends," was written as fat when she was young; so this could be that same relationship advanced to the "art" level.] But throughout this artistic phase, David continues to tempt me with booze and sex, directing good-looking women my way; but his choice of women is too obvious and I detect their sexual (i.e., prostitutional--or simply "loose") nature easily and thus am able to avoid them. [David, in this sense, is a subconscious, or even conscious, aspect of myself (i.e., fantasy--or "hope") that causes me to "look" for women to "meet," whom I then for one "good" reason or another (some of them rational and correct, others more intuitive and felt) disconsider before we get too far along.] One of these temptations is a group of three young light-skinned black women, triplets perhaps, who are to be a gift from David; but I reject them politely. I analyze the artwork, and I tell David that many of his pieces are finished, which I interpret (to him) as meaning that he will become (already is) a great artist, but that he will always struggle with his behavioral problems, working them out in his art, but probably not consciously enough to make real progress. [Sound like anybody you know?] I tell the fat girl the opposite, that although with a great deal of work she may develop into a good artist, her works are currently unfinished, but exhibit a great deal of therapeutic potential that will heal her on a continuing basis; and that she has already been significantly healed via the artistic process. Both of these interpretations, of course, apply to my own self.

I awaken thinking about Colleen, how she is an "artist." (I don't know this for a fact, but suspected it all along.) I realize, although I felt during the time of my "interactions" (eye contact) with her that I was "wrong" [that I was "flirting," thus suggesting the possibility that I had no intention of following through with any serious relationship, despite my fantasies; and that I was a bit "cowardly," in that, even if I had wanted to pursue her, I probably wouldn't have, and I even went to lengths to avoid her approach] and should not have been testing our limits, that I had been, in my intuitive/instinctual wisdom, actually quite correct, that I was acting as a kind of "medium" through which she (and others) could project and transfer information and work on problems they (and I) have, that to have gone beyond the limits that I set [out of a misperceived "fear" (anxiety; insecurity)] would have betrayed a kind of therapeutic trust. (I "heal," myself, and perhaps others, from a distance and in silence or, at its most verbal level, symbolically--like I'm doing now.) What I felt at the time as "wrong" was actually, in my reticence, perfectly correct; I did everything, made every move, exactly right. This is a basic conflict I experience, always: feelings (based on early conditioning) inform me that I should exercise extreme caution, guard myself, and warily proceed through life; but long-considered ratiocination and attempts at self-programmed behavior modification has led me to believe that my best course of action is assertive, yet polite and respectful self-promotion. Unfortunately, these two influences have combined over the years to produce a more explosive nature, when long-withheld feelings provoke a more reasoned agenda to pour forth spontaneously and without restraint, which is easily mis-interpreted as anger (anger is repressed hurt, after all) and invective, when it is not so much invective as a simpler motive, mere expression that has gone unexpressed for far too long. It is far better, I know, to express yourself in small and "normal" ways daily than to let it build up until you just have to say something, despite the consequences; but then, a significant enough part of me, like everyone else, is still the person I was in childhood. I can only hope that I can continue to improve my abilities at recognizing the "wisdom" of my reticence to act while at the same time avoiding the imperative to withdraw social participation on the "psychological" level while blaming others for what is really my own damn fault.


Why did you do that?
Richard Harris, screaming at God
when a bearer falls off a cliff in
Bo Derek's Tarzan film
I blame God for everything and will sometimes call It a motherfucker or an asshole when things go wrong. People, if they happen to hear me and realize what I'm actually saying, will sometimes take offense. They don't understand. I know that when I do this kind of thing I'm just being dramatic, and that I really don't mean it; but not for the reason you might think.

I reason that, if God, the kind of traditional God that people usually attribute blessings to, can make good things happen for you, when for example you pray to It, then It can make bad things happen also, as punishment for being an asshole--and we all, at one time or another, are assholes.

But I don't actually believe that a god exists that either rewards or punishes us. And when I call It an asshole, I'm simply flipping the prayer coin, pointing out the silliness of the beliefs that people have when they pray to a god for good things to happen to them. It's a kind of reverse superstition.

I do this same kind of thing re people (everyone does): I (want to, except that I know better and usually, especially lately, realize it) blame people for the bad things that happen to me--although I tend to attribute the good things to my own self, which is what people tend to do with God (and/or the devil, if you wish).

Whether you believe in a god or not, you are responsible for what happens to you, or, in the case of environmental events over which you have no control, how you react to what happens. People readily attribute their lives to other people or forces of the universe--and that includes their own personal craziness.

My neighbors think I'm crazy because I'm out in the yard every morning picking dandelion greens for dinner and flowers to make wine. (Well, there are other reasons too for why they think I'm crazy).

And I think they're crazy because they speed through their lives oblivious to the bounty nature provides for free. (And also because they're indentured to a corrupt system that manipulates them and rips them off.)

Obstreperous people--usually, but not always, men--defend their right to be Americans, even as they deny my right to be a different kind by asserting that the nation I live in is full of patriotic assholes.

The mainstream slough this country is in (apart from the moral abyss that passes itself off as The Religious Right) manifests itself as a self-righteous normalcy in order to disguise its degeneration.

The Political Cult of Jesus (distinguishable from the true religion) anfractuously insinuated itself into power so that it might reverse the Christian accomplishments that benefit the less fortunate.

Sinecures like Robertson and Falwell mislead a force of airheads who believe, like Muslim radicals, that Heaven awaits them with rewards for supporting evil in the name of good ideas and deeds.

(Notice, though, that a multitude of virgins is absent from the uptight Christian version of eternity, which postulates no callipygian delights awaiting the Christian cynic who truly believes.)

The diversity of religious belief is enough, in and of itself, to convince me of the relativity of spiritual phenomena and to cause me to realize that the entire world is crazy. It's not just me and a few others.

a different kind of life

Several winters ago, the gas company sent a serviceman out to the house to check my meter and survey my general gas usage, because, due to the ridiculous rise in the cost of natural gas, I'd switched entirely to electricity and wood the year before and my gas usage was way down. The way the guy went about questioning me and "investigating" my abode led me to the conclusion that this was not something I should have submitted to, at least not without my usual characteristic sarcasm. Unfortunately, this only occurred to me in retrospect. I was taken by surprise, and the guy was personable enough that I failed to notice that his real motive and that of his company was distrust.

So, the other day, the water company sent a serviceman to "update" my meter--which is what reminded me of the previous gas inspection. I was immediately suspicious that I was being targeted as a suspect for the theft of water. But all the guy did was change the meter. It took him fifteen minutes. But the mindset is a pervasive one in this society, and I have a right to be suspicious in return: if you appear to be using less, it is assumed that you must be stealing products and services, because if you participate only marginally in the great American consumption glut while trying to reduce your dependence on consumer products by living as frugally and self-sufficiently as possible, then either you are cheating or you must be crazy. No relatively honest person in his or her right mind would not want to be a consumption-driven American. I am suspected, because I try to live a different kid of life.

My own life experience, and in particular my previous jury duty (criminal division), combined with the ubiquitous media coverage, has resulted in my having over a long period of time formed not so favorable opinions of the American society and culture, and specifically of its judicial system. But my more recent experience as a juror has gone a long way toward modifying those opinions. I appreciated a great deal the time and effort the judge took with the jury, and I especially appreciated his friendly and considerate manner. I look back on my day in court as an extremely positive social experience and resolve to look for other situations in life that may incorporate the values and sensibilities I found there.

Trust in the force that propels you toward the destiny that you create, that modifies and directs the decisions that you need to make, but which you are in doubt about. And when you finally make a decision, be prepared to follow through and live with the consequences:

A compelling feeling and/or coincidence indicates to me that I'm supposed to go somewhere and/or do something. So I go out (as opposed to my typical resistance to the compulsion, either because I'm practicing "waiting" or because I just don't feel like I have the energy at the moment). Nothing eventful happens. I meet no one special. Therefore, I wasn't paying close enough attention. Which is a problem in any case. My life would be far more interesting and less stressful if I were a more sociable person. But sociality has consequences that I am often not prepared to accept; so it's better, I "reason" that I stay home alone and bolster my psychology for the few times that I will be out amongst them, when the previous absence has made the heart grow, if not fonder, then at least more interested.


The coffee I drink makes me want to do things and the beer makes what I do more interesting. Without them (I feel that) I am bored and boring. So, am I an addict? Well, maybe, depending on your definition of the term. Some strict regimentarians (I know the psychology well; at certain times I am one of its proponents) maintain that if you need the substance, for whatever reason, then you are addicted. But I don't act badly, like many people who drink do. I don't abuse people when I drink alcohol (like some people I know are wont to do). In fact, it's far more likely that I will verbally abuse people when I'm stone cold sober and under a lot of stress. Other than mood control, beer affects my life not at all (i.e., it's not "ruining" my life). And I don't drink all that much, in any case; but lately I have been drinking daily, one or two beers, three at most. Beer settles me and too much of it only makes me want to sleep; and the harder stuff just doesn't taste good. So, the only real question is, is my self-medication affecting my long-term health? And recent research indicates that a low level of alcohol consumption is actually beneficial. But then, who did those studies? Did researchers looking to justify their own imbibing do them? And, as far as coffee is concerned, yeah, it's a crutch. Give me some better motivation and I'll do away with it. Self-medication, I guess, is better than no medication at all. Recent studies indicate that Americans get more cancer-fighting antioxidants from coffee than from any other food or substance. It's a good excuse to drink coffee, apart from the psychological effects. And the substances make me a more gregarious person. But rationalization, like all naturally occurring resources, is a terrible thing to waste.

hope springs periodical

I've been saving water by collecting effluent into barrels and the fountain pool, to use on the gardens to keep water cost reasonable throughout the summer. But today I notice that the see-ment pond, half full at a maximum 300 gallon capacity, is filled with so many mosquito larvae that it looks alive. So, not wanting to spread malathion all over the place via the water supply or later via direct application, I do a quick Google search and discover Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis, a biological control, a bacterium that the larvae ingest and die from, but that is harmless to humans. Since I have a maximum of only seven to ten days before the larvae mature, I forgo my usual "put it on a list and buy it whenever I get around to it" strategy and I hurry out to Home Depot; and there it is, the first thing I see on the insect controls shelf--$8.97 for enough to last at least a year. So, now, the question is: How much am I saving by collecting rainwater? Probably more than $8.97, especially if it turns into a dry season. But this little setback certainly reduces savings a bit. Oh, well.

While I was out, I stopped by PetsMart to get some goldfish (hoping they will eat up all the mosquito larvae and I will not have to drain the pool). As I approached the checkout, an older woman, one I had seen before, had just closed her register and was preparing to take her break. I knew this because, when she saw me standing at the end of the other checkout line and doubled back to check me out, the other cashier said to her, "I thought you were going on your break." This should have tipped me off as to what was happening. But my head hurt too much. Sometimes, when the pains in my back settles up high in my neck, I become so distracted that I fail to attend to what's going on around me. I only realized hours later that the woman wanted my more than full attention. And I didn't give it to her, despite the fact that she tried so very hard to be nice to me. I hope I see her again, one day when I am not so tired and rundown.

visions of sugarplums

I'm tired to the core of my existence, which prompts the recurrence of doubt about my current overriding goal. Why am I doing this? It's a pain in the ass, when things "must" be done and I'm not in the "mood" to do them. Oh, yeah. I remember. It's because of the vision.

This is nothing new, of course. I've been writing about the phenomenon for decades. (I have a lot of "visions".) First of all, there's writing. But is my writing "career" at an end? I guess not. I'm still writing, although I haven't been pursuing the vision for several months now, it having been replaced by the gardens vision (which is the one that's the current pain in the ass). And then there's the art: I haven't done that in a while either; but lately I've been feeling the motive.

And there's the beer and winemaking. I'm still doing that: I just started a batch of Pale Ale and a gallon of "Dandy Balmy Morning Mint Dew" (dandelion flowers, spearmint, lemon balm, and lemons in a base of Mountain Dew). It's going to be potent, if only because Mountain Dew contains much caffeine. But I think I might stop fermentation early and keep the alcohol low and the sugars high. Most of the wine I've made over the years has been quite successful in terms of very high alcohol content, but the hangover effect has also been high and the taste has usually been disappointing. Notable exceptions: tea wine ('81), lemon spearmint wine ('87), Concord grape wine ('88), Red Caco and Concord grape wine ('91 & '92).

But the gardening is beginning to get me down, specifically, the water problem. I knew when I began collecting rainwater that I was going to have to fight a mosquito problem; but I figured I could overcome it somehow. But nothing seems to be working and since I've been devoting most of my time and effort to it, other tasks are being left undone. If I don't come up with an answer real soon, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to drain the pond and dump the water barrels. I only have a few days left before the larvae start to mature into those nasty little adult bastards. I'm going to hate to lose all that water and end up having to use township water for the gardens. I need a new vision to point me the right direction. Maybe I'll start meditating again. I need a way of maintaining the vision. Or maybe this is all inevitable. Neptune is going retrograde today.

As for the actual gardening work, it's starting to drag me down. The exercise of digging the beds, which haven't been turned over in years, is welcome, but nearly overwhelming, and every night I go to bed physically exhausted with my foremost thought being "It's going to be this way forever, and I don't think I want it to be." Fully developed gardens, when properly attended to, require daily attention, day in and day out, with little time off. It's a full time occupation. And I can't do this unless I get regular sleep (which may turn out to be one of the positive effects of gardening), because without a full night's sleep, I'm too tired to work hard or long and unmotivated enough to opt out for the day. I can, eventually, in future years, reduce the amount of work to a bare minimum by not planting anything new and merely maintaining the permanent trees and bushes [like I have always maintained the grass and hedges, which have taken on a new meaning under this new system because they provide me with the material I need for compost). This is what I most like doing, maintaining already established plants. I like the results of planting new things, but I don't so much like doing all the work.

And one final bit of work I don't so much appreciate: preparing or preserving the fruits of the harvest. It's so much easier to open a can or a package of frozen food than it is to clean and cut and cook raw vegetables. Relying on a capitalist monculture for sustenance is so much easier than living off the land; but each may be as unconsciously demanding, when you end up dreaming about them. The human mind will symbolize, no matter how you live.

exhaustive overachievement

I'm in one of those typical recurrent classroom scenes at CCAC, where the subject matter is something I wouldn't have ordinarily studied, a course I wouldn't have taken, something related to some sort of engineering, so that I feel like I don't belong. I'm getting a late start on the current assignment and feel a little bit lost. The teacher, an arrogant know-it-all who's determined to show up his students for the ignorant airheads he knows them to be, is walking around the classroom lecturing and asking of each class member (not in seats, but free to roam around also) random questions related to long lists of items written on the blackboards. I hover close by him, paying close attention, trying with great difficulty to glean some kind of sense out of what he's saying and from the long lists, which, in part, are tools, procedures, etc. Each time he asks a question, as I struggle to come up with an answer, I make myself obvious to him, in a kind of reverse psychology, figuring that if I seem eager to answer, he'll call on someone else who is supposedly less prepared; and, at the same time, I figure that keeping myself under this kind of intense pressure will result in me coming up with the answer in a rush of spontaneity should he actually decide to call on me, which he finally does, on the very last "question," which turns out to be not a question at all, but an assignment to be completed before the next class. I decide that, if I am going to do this right, I have to have some paper to write down all the lists. As I look for paper and a pencil, I berate myself for having come to the class unprepared, for not having brought along all of my "travel accessories." [I used to have a shoulder bag packed full with everything I might need, a wide range of materials from breath mints to paper clips to small scissors and a mini-stapler, and much, much more.] Among a whole lot of pads and notebooks that lie seemingly abandoned on tables that line the walls of the room, I can't find any that do not have enough open paper space to take notes [recurrent]. But finally I find my own old daytimer with its beat up and slightly ripped and damaged covers. But when I open it, again, there is no space; and the writing is not mine, but db's. I value this find and look forward to the time when I can examine the content more closely, all of the notes she has written in it, her class schedule (on which one of the more prominent entries is an afternoon class taught by "Roseanne"). Aston Kutcher in his role as Michael Kelso is in the class. He and I team up on the assignment, because he doesn't know what to do either, but he doesn't know that I am as lost as he is, so he thinks he will piggyback on me, since I am the supposed expert, which is why the teacher gave me the assignment in the first place. (Everyone has to choose an assignment, which they may team up on or do by themselves.) We go back across the room to the blackboards and from the lists I find one particular item that interests me. Mila Kunis (as Jackie Burkhart) walks up to us and tries to help to solve our dilemma by stating: "Need a story of the wild road; need a story that you get real hard." (No, it wasn't a sex dream. At least I don't think it was.) I figure that if I can interpret this remark, I will have solved the assignment's basic problem. I decide that it's not necessary to write out all the lists; a proper solution to the problem involves only choosing the several items that are appropriate to the specific assignment.

Upon awakening, I realize that I always exhaustively overdo anything I try to accomplish, which is a good strategy for success because it prepares you in a global way so that you have a more general overview of the whole of the subject matter that affords you a command and confidence over it should future problems arise. In this way I anticipate future states and build for them. It's a strategy that made me a successful supervisor when all of my competition was merely mediocre. But it's a lot of hard work; exhaustive planning and systemization is exhausting--by definition.

I understand that this dream is dealing with my extensive gardening project, which I have chosen to do all in one season and thereby get it all done and growing, instead of accomplishing a few steps at a time over several years. But it's a whole lot of work that I don't want to be doing all the time; yet it requires all my time, and then some. This is a plan that goes way back to when db lived here--my plan, but one in which she was closely involved. This is the way my whole life tends to organize itself, around my plans in which others are or become involved, probably because they can't resist my over-enthusiam, which tends to be contagious. But I'm not at all political as to the way I go about it and have often left others involved with my dreams while I move, distracted, onto something else, totally oblivious to what I've left behind. Eventually, I get back to what I was doing (I often set projects aside for long periods of time), but the others involved have by then themselves moved on. I'm not much of a political animal in this regard (or in other ways as well).

doing it with robots

Everybody's shouting, "Which side are you on?"
Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row"
I'm a politician on vacation at home, spending my spare time gardening. My office keeps calling me, but I refuse to answer the phone. I tell db that, if she answers it, she should tell them I'm not here and take a message. But after a while she comes out into the garden to inform me that I better take the call because "something is up." I go inside and pick up the phone. A guy tells me that I better go into work because the balance of liberals and conservatives has shifted and if I'm not there, the other side will win. After I hang up the phone, I think that I should have asked him which side I am on. When I get to the office, no one is there and the entire place is being run by robots. I try to go to work, but the robots won't allow me to get to my desk. One of them informs me that I must first push either a red or blue button, which are the eyes on its face. I refuse, feeling like I should not have to be required to make the choice.

When I awaken, I relate the dream to the general political situation: Conservatives believe that a one's social position is the result of and therefore is a measure of one's value as a human being, that we each rise to the level we deserve as a result of our abilities and hard work.

Liberals believe that social circumstances beyond one's control can conspire to keep one "in one's place," that the deck is stacked and equality and fairness can only be achieved via government intervention. I do not disagree with either position. Both are true; both must be taken into account if we are to create a true democracy. To favor one side or the other is to leave half of the logic behind.

[(Some) conservatives feel that only their position is viable and that it will be a better society if they can eliminate liberal values altogether. In this sense, they despise democracy.]

On one hand, I understand why conservatives feel the way they do. We're all animals, after all. We struggle for survival, and those of us who do not fare so well...well, let's be honest--we deserve to suffer and die if we cannot compete within the Earth's ecological system.

But we are also human, which means that we have assigned ourselves a place apart in the ecological order, and one function of that place is to insulate us, competent and weak alike, from the more caustic effects of society and environment. When the weak survive and even prosper via government handouts, charity, etc., they are demonstrating an ability to capitalize on a system that they influence and support. They are thus fit to survive within that system.

Conservatives would change that system to eliminate or decrease support for the (physically, mentally, socially, and/or culturally) weak. Liberals would extend it, in the spirit of true Christianity, to include everyone who cannot adequately fend for themselves. Why then is it the Right Wing that has become identified with Christianity? Because fundamentalism is a perversion of the original Christian message, like reactionary conservatism is a perversion of the original democracy of this country.

It's becoming more and more obvious to me that to line up on one side or the other is to choose to be half human. We cannot deny the fact that the strong survive and prosper while the weak struggle and die. It's the natural order. It's the way life is. But we cannot deny our basic spiritual nature either: we are a communal phenomenon; when one of us dies, a part of us is lost--and that's okay, conservatives say, because it strengthens the rest of us remaining. But does it?

It's not a question that can be answered. It does and it doesn't. It strengthens the current existence, but it weakens the diversity that is the potential of future adaptation. We cannot allow the gene pool to narrow down to a relatively small and select few (billion). And this is exactly what the tendency toward a corporate monoculture is enabling. Conservatives want us to be all the same, and so they fight the diversity that liberals champion.

That conflict has always been with us and always will be. It's a part of our nature as a species and is not the real problem, which is the battle between the corporations and the individual, not because it is a new phenomenon (it is not; though more modest than today's, there have always been more limited incorporations), but because corporations have been vested with a power that they have hitherto been unable to attain, a social contract that protects them from much of the give and take of human interaction, which allows them to extend their influence globally instead of restricting them as a series of relatively local phenomena.

And the problem is getting worse as a result of the Bush administration's antics. The balance between conservatives and liberals is askew, and it's taking its toll. Too many diverse groups are being disenfranchised, and we are in danger of becoming too narrow in our adaptation to the real world of natural phenomena. One catastrophe could wipe us all out. So go ahead and continue surviving and prospering. I certainly am. I don't need your help, whomever you are. But be aware. I am not going to be here much longer, but you will, you generic ultra-conservatives who would weed my non-committal kind out of the human garden with its evaporating gene pool [sorry about the mixed metaphor; I'll try and straighten it out later] because I will not blindly support your narrow agenda. You create your own dismal future by tipping the balance so far right. We should all live as if we are going to live forever and suffer the consequences of a depleted human environment; then maybe we would understand that we need the balance to assure our future. (Or maybe you think that we're going to do it all with robots.)

to write, perchance to dream

We never remark any passion or principle in others, of which, in some degree or other, we may not find a parallel in ourselves.
David Hume
It's not enough that interactions with others weigh on me so much that they make the social world a confusing and often overbearing place for me to live. Technology has to increase the tempo geometrically as time goes on. The result is an increasing fragmentation as I try to deal with the all the input that I hate to leave behind. [It's not really left behind; it's filed away inside my brain, I know, if not available for immediate recall, at least usable as unconscious background information. But I strive to be a conscious entity, and thus I hate the understanding that material is continually passing out of my awareness.] I could reduce the overflow by establishing a true retreat, disconnecting myself from news and cultural feeds in the same way that I effectively disconnect myself from people for long periods of time; but I'm afraid I might miss something important, some occurrence of such significance that it might change even my life. [I'd like to change my life, if it didn't require even more of my precious past to be left behind; I want it all.] And besides, I kind of like it all, despite its tendency to stress me out with its duplicitous, illusory multiplicity:

When I moved into this house years ago, an old man lived next door. He's long since gone, moved, and probably dead by now. Last year a cool young guy moved in on the other side. He acts toward me like I acted toward the old man: He's respectful, but distant; friendly, but with little concern. Or maybe it's just me, the signals I give off. Probably. I am that old man now, though I am not yet nearly as old as he was, neither in body or mind. Or maybe it's just that I am in denial.

It occurs to me that I (am going to) keep changing, even as, in concert with my early conditioning, I try so hard to stay the same.

I complain about others when they either remain rigid beneath The Sculptor's insistent hands or change willingly without a care.

But it is myself I cannot accept, not them, when I (want to) both change and stay the same; and even when I appreciate changes that occur.

We are creatures insistent upon being who were are, even as we go out of our way to revise ourselves to either fit in or stand out.

The result of this internal battle between insurgency and expunction is the schizoid personality we continually struggle to overcome.

People actually go to school to learn how to make it their life's work to change themselves and others, either externally or internally:

These fashion gurus and makeover people just don't get that some (few) people are so comfortable within their own selves, confident in the essence of their being, that it simply doesn't matter that they dress "poorly" or how they look in general; appearance is an outward manifestation that addresses our concerns for how other people think of us, and thus it is revealing of our lack of ontological security and esteem. People who develop an expertise re appearance (and thus an elitist snobbery) miss the essential nature of self-confidence, that the way you look does not make you truly confident, but is a substitute for the real thing; you cannot seem to develop it within, so you apply it externally and think it makes you more secure. It doesn't. It makes you less secure, as you become reliant on the accoutrements of fashion;

And these psychologists; you'd think they'd have learned something from their long years of education. They live the same damn fantasy:

Bradley Whitford is a professor of some psychology-related course I'm auditing. He gives me back a paper, all marked up. At first I think he's being highly critical, and the absence of a grade suggests that he wants me to redo the work. But as I read his comments, I realize that his remarks are quite flattering, and I subsequently learn that he believes me to be the top student in the class. After a period of discussion, we go across the hall to a large lab where various types of monkeys and apes are riding vacuum cleaners, cleaning up dirt (soil from potted plants) that has been spilled on the floor. And among these animals are several lab technicians. [Heh.] Back out in the hallway, Moira Kelly [I watched "The West Wing" before I fell asleep], a fellow student, standing beside me, puts a firm hand on my shoulder and begins to subtly praise and advise me, couching it in typical friendly banter. She talks about how she and Ana met last night and discussed my journal work that they had read online. I see Ana across the wide hall, separated from us by a dense crowd of students, but also as if she is separated from us by space and time, as if she exists where she and Moira were last night and I am seeing her via some kind of post-cognition. I want to comment about Ana and ask Moira what she, Ana, thought about my work, but I don't want to insult Moira in any way or give her the idea that I am more concerned with Ana's opinions than her own. Ana looks older and pudgier than she is in real life. Her firm facial structure has sagged and slightly wrinkled, but I still like the way she looks. I go outside and find myself in downtown NYC. In a sense, I'm Christmas shopping; but in another sense, I'm just buying small gifts to give to people when I return home. I walk down Fifth Avenue, then up Sixth, etc., looking for bargains. The streets are like New Orleans in some places, narrow and gaudy, yet moody, and lined with trinket shops. I go into one near 50th Street, but the salesman tries to high-pressure me, so I decide to leave; but I can't find the exit. I go into a back room and open a door that leads to a basement, but it looks dark and foreboding down there, so I don't go down. Instead, I go over to the windows, which are a bit high above the sidewalk. At first, I think I can climb down, but when I start to try, I decide it is too high. But at the other side of the room, the windows are closer to the ground and I manage to get down to freedom. I have to catch a plane (I'm in D.C. now) back to Pittsburgh, and I don't know how to get to the airport. But I know I have to leave soon or else I'm going to miss the last flight and have to pay a fortune for a room for the night. I get on a train, hoping it will take me to the right place; but a woman, who is also doubtful that she has gotten on the right train (my surrogate) asks the engineer (who is like a bus driver) if this is the train to "Big Nuke" and he assures her that it is. A few minutes later, we pull into Big Nuke. (We're on a bus now). It's a highly developed area akin to New York City with all of the skyscrapers, neon lights, etc. I wonder how I am going to survive here, unable to get to the airport.

The tmesis I develop when I sleep and then awaken and try to remember and document my dreams is a mode of existence that interweaves two opposing forms of life: I am left in a strange city that looks like one I know, but is unknown to me. How will I survive? And yet I do; I go on and on, thinking and dreaming, and even socializing despite my aversion to the precipitates of the process. I want to think that the people of the world should be declaring me anathema for my sins of exclusion; but they for the most part ignore me, which is probably worse, though I tend to appreciate their non-effort and go along with (what I want to think are) their silly socialisms and manipulations (animals and technicians in labs cleaning up and doing experiments) while I engage in (what they might consider) peripheral mental entanglements in the hallway. [I'm not a genuine student, but an outsider merely auditing courses for the information.] This is society to me, classrooms and laboratories that I'd rather stay out of, except that I'm genuinely interested in what's going on inside. But the hallways between the classrooms are far more interesting places, where dream characters gather and exchange information in a kind of psychic way, like I write out dreams as I (try to) interpret and make sense of them, interposing fiction and reality. (But which is which?) It's like the dichotomy between social convention and physical existence as those mindless social manipulations, the calendar and the clock, express it:

The new year does not begin on January first.
Midnight is not the middle of the night.

These are conveniences established so that society may "function." Holidays, once based upon natural events, transmigrate to arbitrary locations, the original root of which the average world citizen has not even a hint. Christmas (in the dream) is like this for me: it's just another holiday, without any real social or spiritual significance.

The hours of the day and night fade into one another like dreams into reality, and vice versa. [But which is which?] Dusk and dawn demarcate the separation; but only in specific locations at specific times of the year do the nominal hours assigned to them match the reality of daylight and darkness.

I'm beginning to suspect that most, if not all of the standard holidays that we (I use that pronoun loosely) celebrate are not events that I support or even believe in. [Yes. Even I sometimes discover myself adhering blindly to tradition.] Memorial Day is one of these. Why should I want to memorialize stupid people who get sucked up into a war, or worse, who actually go to war voluntarily, for some incredibly ridiculous reason like patriotism or glory? Okay. So our soldiers did us a service. Fine. Good for them. But I don't celebrate their dubious efforts. They're simply a matter for history (which changes in exactly the same way that holidays do). Get over it. [The only thing new in the world may be the history you don't know, but you can't know it anyway. It's been changed, profoundly, in order to conform to our (social and cultural) ideas about who "we" are. And it's a whole lot easier to trace the change in holidays than it is to discover the true history of events.] And anyway, when we commemorate the dead, we don't do it for their benefit, we do it for our own living purposes, often to assuage our guilt-ridden consciousnesses. They're dead, for Christ's sake. Leave them be. They've put up with enough of your rituals and superstitions already. Exorcise your demons in some other, more private way--such as via writing, or dreaming, or writing about dreaming, or dreaming about writing about dreaming... (I've had those kinds of dreams. I think this document may have been one of them.)