1. I'm in a school, like the local high school, but not: the place is empty, but I feel that there's a potential that at any minute kids will be all over the place (as if a bell will ring and they'll come pouring out of classrooms into the halls; but I don't have this idea within the dream, only a vague feeling of a potential crowd). I'm in a back hallway that has no classrooms off of it and turns at right angles several times before it opens onto the main hallways. Diane D. is around somewhere, out of sight, but I know she's here, working between several small rooms in a kind of light janitorial function. We are not quite in touch with each other; that is, we are near to each other, but we don't acknowledge each other's presence (just like in real life). But I almost have sex with her several times; that is, I imagine doing it, and I could do it, if I so chose. One of the small rooms is a place where Diane works most, as if she's inside working at a table--like folding laundry or something; and just outside that room is the foil stamping area from my old workplace. (Thus, this could be a dream about Cecelia, with whom I had pretty much the same relationship as with Diane, although they have completely opposite personalities). Cut to:
Mom doesn't want me living in her house, and has filled what is no longer my room with junk; it's now a storage room, akin to the storerooms in the high school. But I'm sleeping in there anyway, making do, getting by, although I'm very sad about the way Mom feels about me. Christine Ricci is my cousin and is sleeping in the garage with her petite lesbian lover. The room I'm in is immediately above them and I can look down through the floor, as if it were transparent, and see them lying in bed together. Christine is lying on her back with her lover half on top of her, half-draped across her. Her lover is asleep, but Christine is awake, looking up at me, appreciative that I am looking at her, although I know that if her lover were awake, she'd be pissed. I want to watch them having sex and I think that Christine would allow it as long as her lover didn't see me. There are kids in the house, running around, making a lot of noise. A firecracker-like noise echoes loudly and I am unfairly accused of having allowed my car to backfire. (It's the automatic assumption that I am responsible, which everyone believes without anyone actually checking for the facts.) I defend myself by saying that my car isn't even running. As I'm awakening, I hear the words (almost as if someone in the real world says them), "Don't make me laugh. We have a new classmate."
2. I'm in high school on the first day of the school year in my first class of the day, but I've lost my schedule and I don't know where the rest of my classes are and I don't want to go to the office to admit to them that I've lost my schedule. I continue to search through my books and notebooks hoping to find it, even though I'm sure it's not there. After the class is over, I wander the halls trying to look like I'm not wandering and know exactly where I'm going.
I've had this last dream before, in varying forms. I awaken worrying that maybe I have early-onset Alzheimer's. I don't really believe this, but then isn't that what anyone who has the condition might think? I spend a lot of time satirizing my various states of distraction and confusion, never really taking them seriously, exaggerating them for effect, making them out to be far more than they really are, because, really, I've more or less been this way all my life, distracted and distant (which is why the Asperger's diagnosis fits so well). I think, the Alzheimer's fantasy can work both ways: When I tell myself I don't have it, I may have it; but when I tell myself that people who have it never know it, I may not have it, because I think I might. And yet not being serious about it may merely be denial; or it may be a simple episode of my usually early spring paranoia syndrome. [I'd call it hypochondria, but that seems so mundane.]
I'm going to live to be 111. I "know" this by virtue of the following "evidence": people have always thought I was far younger than I really was, both when I was younger and when I grew older; when I was in high school, they thought I was in grade school; when I was in college, they thought I was in high school; when I bought alcohol, I was carded until I was nearly thirty; when I was forty, while visiting my mother one day, I ran into her next door neighbor who told me that if I didn't have a beard, I'd look just like I did in high school (part of the reason I grew the beard so very long ago was so that I'd look older); several weeks ago when I was visiting my brother, Joyce was surprised to realize my real age when I mentioned it in reference to something she was saying that indicated that she believed me to be younger than I am, so that she said, " I don't think of you as being that old." It's a common occurrence. When my ex-niece Susan was only seventeen, she ridiculed me for stating in a passing comment that I was a "man"--because she related to me so well that she viscerally thought of me as being her own age. My youthful self-perception, I theorize, keeps me (feeling and acting) young. So that when I get to be 111, I'll probably (I hope) feel more like I'm only about seventy, because right now, in a lot of ways, I still imagine I am only seventeen. But most importantly, I know I'll live to 111 because for so many years I've been interested, through various theories and disciplines, in the "final days" and end-of-the-world scenarios, and Jane Roberts in one of her books says that the date will be 2057. I want to be around to see if it's true or not. Then I can die.
Then, the future will be the past and everything will be behind me, but like now the past is still the present. That makes sense (to me) except that I don't know quite how to explain it. Things that happened in my past, not necessarily to me, but most potently when they happened to me, are still with me as functional operations, encoded into my system of conditioning and belief; but far less ordinary than that, as if the events continue to influence me as if they are still happening, but in an ongoing and not in a conditioning sense, in the same way that in the future I will know how the present affects me as my past, yet that affect will be in that future present, so that in a sense it exists now because, since my past is still my present, my present is thus my future. Huh?
Ideas from our pasts are always interconnected, if not causally, then by virtue of our individual psychologies as we happen to experience them. I'm not entirely sure how this works out; I know it does, and I know how some of it does, psychologically, but I intuit that it works far more subtly and profoundly than I am capable of understanding. The things we tell ourselves we are, in the present and in the past that continues into the present, our beliefs and attitudes about who and what we are, are a very small part of what we actually are (if they are not out-and-out self-deceptions); and the things we communicate to others and/or write down, thereby assuring somewhat their more concretely preserved nature (otherwise they will morph along with our continuing psychologies), are the smallest part of all.
For example, there are people in my past whom I always knew were assholes, but at the time I just didn't give a shit. It's just that, at the time, since I didn't give a shit, I associated with them anyway, partly because I recognized that I too was an asshole and so it seemed natural that I would hang around with other assholes. This is what I would have thought then if I had thought of it at all. As it were, I hardly gave it any more than the vaguest passing attention, if that. Whatever anybody did back then was okay with me. I accepted everyone for exactly what they were, whether or not I knew what that was. Nothing affected me; I would not allow it. But now, when I think back on it all, it pisses me off. You people were penultimate assholes. [I was the ultimate one; but that's beside the point. It takes one to know one.] The way you treated me, mostly behind my back, is unforgivable. And yet, I forgive you--so long as I never have to see any of you again. It's not worth the energy to have to deal with the repressed emotion.
It's the same thing with my attitude toward the government. I've always known what it was up to; I just never gave a shit before. If the government would leave me alone (which it does not; it's continually passing laws that affect me in a very indirect way), then I could care less what it does, in the past or in the present. I could, maybe, move to Wyoming and live in the mountains where it would have far less of an effect on me, and I would if I could afford it; but living far apart from the mainstream costs too much--unless you want to live as a pioneer, which I do not, I got myself through that phase a long time ago. So I must continue to live in a place where I am within relatively easy reach of government entities and so feel threatened, such as when the census bureau continues to leave messages on my answering machine telling me to call them back and refer to some case number. I wonder what that's all about, but I'm not about to call them to find out. If the law of the people who purport to be my government compels me to supply information that I have no interest in relinquishing, then ultimately I will do so, if they manage to corner me; otherwise, I wish to be left alone. So the census bureau should stop calling me and leaving messages on my machine. Mmm, okay?
When I was in grade school, I went with my father and younger brother to a basketball game my brother was playing in for the church league. The only ref didn't show up, so the parents asked me if I would substitute, because they knew I knew the rules and how to play. I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to be bothered, but they kept coaxing me until I finally gave in and agreed to referee. Then, throughout the game, they screamed and yelled and criticized me for the "bad" calls and decisions I was making. The following year, the same thing happened at one of my brother's baseball games, with the same results. I realized, not soon enough, based on these and similar experiences, that people don't really want you to help them out and do them favors, what they really want is someone they can use as a scapegoat to project their deficiencies and prejudices onto. This is my past; that is, this is a typical incident from it. It took me a long time to realize how this mechanism works and how to avoid its potent effect. It's not so bad when it happens at a kid's basketball game; it's a whole other thing entirely when it happens in workplaces or with legal overtones in social or personal situations.
People draw conclusions about me based upon the way I act, or fail to. This is normal. But with me it always seems to go a step or two farther, probably because, due to my particular psychology, I enable and even invite others unconscious vindictive by my non-participatory nature. For example, if people could see the way I live, the inside of my home, I'm sure they'd think badly of me. I don't live like "normal" people do; I don't maintain a standard American home. If I'm working on a project and for whatever reason it's taking me a long time to complete it, I leave it staged where it is rather than put it away until the next time I'm going to work on it; and since I'm always working on at least several projects at a time, I have them staged in various places around my house. So it looks a lot more disorganized than it really is; there's an organized method amid the apparent chaos (although the place is often dusty and unswept, because it's so hard to clean around all of those damned projects. Okay, okay, so that's an excuse; I'm a lazy slob and don't consider household maintenance as much of a priority as maybe I should, according to "normal" people). So I think of Sandra Oh's character on "Grey's Anatomy" again: this is the way I live, this is the way I am; deal with it. If you can't be positive, supportive, and uplifting, go away and leave me alone.
Last year when I was on jury duty, at the end of the trial the judge said that anyone who wanted to hang around and ask him questions could do so. A few others and I did. I had no questions, but was interested in what he might say. So I stayed and listened. After a few people questioned him about various court-related issues and there appeared to be no more questions, he thanked us and prepared to leave. I said, instinctively, "Thank you." He'd started to turn away, but he turned back and offered his hand. I shook it, and he said something I forget, some ingratiating yet significant response of appreciation. The point is that, as I shook his hand, instead of looking him in the eye like I always try to do when I speak to someone, I looked down. I've trained myself, since early on when I realized how important society thought that it was, to look people in the eye; but the self-programming always fails me when I shake someone's hand. I need to generalize this behavior better. The judge and I couldn't have been more different. He's a clean-shaven, shorthaired ex-DA and I'm a bearded, longhaired ex-hippie-biker dude. The only thing we might ever have in common was a handshake and a sincere exchange of eye contact. And I might have blown it. (But maybe not, maybe he understood; maybe even if he misinterpreted my avoidance he still understood, in his own superior way.)
Not too long ago I was at the bank machine getting some cash when I heard a voice say, "Hi Joe." I looked up directly into the eyes of my neighbor from across the street. Automatically, I smile, because I like her, and I say hello. Normally, I never talk to her, because she never talks to me, because, I suppose, I never talk to her. I talk to her husband a lot, because he approaches and talks to me (but usually only when he's been drinking), otherwise… Again, the point is, after my immediately friendly response to the woman, I go back to the machine and continue pushing the buttons as I run a silent monologue in my head that goes something like "Think of something to say, follow-up, don't leave it alone, don't retreat." Then I silently start to address her psychically with comments like, "Say something else, please, just say something else." And she does, she says something about the weather, which I agree with. And then I say something stupid like how I'd been planning to come out earlier, before the weather got bad, but didn't, but then when I did, it was too late, something that I knew as I was saying it didn't make a whole lot of sense, or just barely made sense if you thought about it a long time, or maybe didn't make sense if you thought about it too much, but made enough sense if you didn't think about it at all but just took it as a pleasant social interchange, small talk. Then, still thinking, I realize I'm back at my car and she's still at the machine, and I don't even remember walking away. That's the way it is when I'm on autopilot and not attending to how I should be socially interacting. With most people, I think, it comes naturally. With me, it's always a matter of intention: recalling prepared scripts, and paying attention to body language, and judging personal space considerations, and… Left to my own devices, I exist in my own world, apart.
Consequently, writer's block for me is not a search for words, but for motivation. As likely as not, I'm pissed at myself later for not sitting down and writing out ideas I have, or for not merely making notes so that I can do it later--because I'm telling myself, "Oh, what difference does it make anyway?" And the same is true when the time comes to put everything I've written in this way together into a more comprehensive (or not) whole. Writing a novel, for me, is not (usually) puzzling over what comes next so much as it is trying to fit all of the crap I've already written into a (more or less linear) narrative that (sort of) makes sense. [But I've already written all of this before.]
I write because I can't call up immediate ideas in an effective way in normal public discourse. I watch people do this sort of thing all the time and wish that I could do it too; but except for those rare moments when I am out of (my own conscious) control and acting out against my own (and consensual) better judgment in order to rectify some injustice or social slight against me (which I blow all out of proportion for having let it ferment so long, thereby occasioning others to think I act inappropriately, when I am being entirely appropriate, symbolically or sympathetically, current incidents being of like kind to those that caused me the distress, although I am probably acting out within the wrong format or social group), I cannot rise to the occasion. It seems I need righteous indignation (The Avenging Angel Syndrome) to spur me into an automatic mode where the Asperger Symptoms are temporarily overridden. Otherwise, at best, when I am not lost inside my own mind, when I am able to focus my attention outward, I tend to remain an observer of the human condition, set apart from it.
1. I'm at my grandmother's house. My grandmother is Thelma. I'm watching her from her bedroom window as she works in the front yard across the street, but the work she's doing is as a maid. But it also involves doing something in the porn industry. I desire to see her naked and hide behind the curtains hoping to get a glimpse of her as she disrobes.
I awaken and confirm that, although this woman started out as my grandmother and I am in her house, this woman is definitely only Thelma when I want to see her naked. Whew! That was close. Except for rare instances like these though, where I hide away and observe people from afar, and when I become upset and angry, interpersonal relationships go much more normally in my dreams than in my waking life:
2. I'm Tom Selleck at a vacation resort, which is also 6023, fixing a clothes bar in the closet, because it slides from side to side and is threatening to fall. Jennifer Aniston is my girlfriend, but when Jacqueline Bisset comes to visit, I have sex with her in the closet. We go on seeing each other secretly, but pretending she means nothing to me when others are around. A lot happens on the beachfront that I can't remember. Something about a lost small pure breed dog that I find and give to Bisset to adopt. She lathers it with affection and love. (It's my proxy in social situations.) But, later, when the repairs to the closet are not quite adequate and the bar starts to fall while Jackie is standing beside the closet and she cowers in place, frozen in fear rather than acting to defend herself via escape, I grab her by the shoulders and move her out of the way, carefully, tenderly, yet firmly and quickly, which is enough to prove to Jennifer that I'm in love with Jackie (although it doesn't seem to be good evidence now as I try to describe the incident in mere words; I guess you had to be there.) Jennifer gets pissed and leaves. Then, a short while later, Jackie gets pissed at me and leaves too. (This synopsis version, the result of unremembered particulars, doesn't do the story justice; it was very complicated and detailed, like a Jackie Collins or Daniel Steele novel.) I continue, as I have been doing throughout, to work on the clothes bar, imagining and engineering solutions to the problem, each of which only lasts for a short while before it wears and fails (a symbol for the relationships; which is a pattern in my life, how I lost women by being interested in other women, even though I never actually strayed while in a relationship), such as, for example, a small piece of half-inch conduit that fits over the bolt in the end of the bar and another bolt that I put into the wall, bracing the bar against the wall and making it unable to move side-to-side. This is the last solution I come up with, but don't have the time to test; but I believe that it probably will work.
Clothes bar symbol: By making myself a steady and "unmoving" person, I could maintain a relationship? Unmoving: some of my relationships have failed because of affective problems both of us have had; but ultimately, I suppose, they failed because, although initially women report feeling never having "communicated" so well with a man before, it seems they grow to feel that I do not communicate well with them in the long term, when I myself feel like I am in continual communion and thus should not need to use words at all. I attribute this discrepancy to the confusion in their minds between communion and communication, that they subconsciously shut down the lines of communication (via game-playing, when they will get all huffy, or only tokenly agreeable while stonewalling, etc.) because they can't maintain the degree of intensity (communion) that I bring to a relationship and instead want to substitute words for what they perceive to be missing feelings, saying things like, "We need to talk"; when women say that, it almost always means that they don't feel what you do, so they have to assume that there's something wrong with you, or "us."
When it comes to sexual attraction (and probably the same is true for all social relationship), subconscious to subconscious contact is what's important; and words, if they have any real significance at all apart from the objective imparting of necessary information, come into play only as they further or thwart the unconscious agenda. It is in this sense that I say that women confuse communication and communion when they "need to talk." Talking, in the sense of trying to "communicate" (as opposed to simply communing, subconsciously) thwarts the development of relationships; or at best it causes it to get stuck where it is and stagnate. If you "have to talk," forget it, it's over. (It's a theory. Hey, it can't actually be all my fault, can it?)
My dreams awaken me to content in my life that I would otherwise ignore. This, I suppose, is their purpose. I'm attracted to my dreams. Their unique content and perspective fascinate me. I like to think of this as trappings designed to grab conscious attention that might otherwise go unnoticed, although I suspect that it's more of an historical accident than unconscious intention.
Dreams are normal thoughts we have while we sleep mapped onto personal and collective unconscious patterns (that are always there functioning beneath the surface, awake or asleep) and rendered by our reptilian brains, the semi-conscious guardian of our deep ancestral past whose original purpose was to watch for predators while we shut down our physical processes in order to rest, but which now informs us of that which is going on inside our more complicated brains below the level of our overlaid conscious awareness [a process that I like to think of, however inaccurately, as watching out for how our own unconscious minds direct psychic predators our way; or maybe even guard us against "real" psychic (i.e., psi) predators. (I just thought of that last part.)]. The literal dreams occur only when we sleep; but the reptilian brain functions whether we are awake or asleep: we see it's function directly in our dreams; but awake, we disregard its operation because our conscious mind demands our full attention.
But if we will set aside the demand for a while, we can tune into the archaic "thought" that it generates; that is, we can dream while we remain awake, because we are dreaming anyway, that is, we're "thinking" [processing; what we now think of as 'thought' was once simple perceptual processing, and before that, or simultaneous to it, feeling; feeling and perception are the precursors of the more "modern" (in historical terms) thought] archaically beneath our superficial awareness and all we have to do is turn our attention to the process.
The simplest (though perhaps not the most profound) way to tune in to this process is to sit quietly and review the most recent dream we remember. The closer in time to the occurrence of the dream, the better because, though the dream function persists after we awaken, it will change, and it will certainly change content rather quickly even when the basic pattern remains the same, so that we can call the pattern up into consciousness more easily if we re-introject recent content back into it.
Then, once a dream is affectively remembered, we can allow its pattern to freewheel so that it generates new content. Of course, we can do this at any time with any remembered dream, especially with ones we know to be recurrent, because although our patterns change, we have many patterns that repeat themselves throughout our lives and with a little practice we can switch between patterns by remembering the various types of dreams we had.
The whole point here is that the thoughts we have in sleep, more or less normal (to our particular mentalities) thoughts that are the same whether sleeping or awake, is "modern" thought content that the reptilian patterns appropriate to provide the content that the dream pattern uses to express itself. These thoughts when experienced in dreams may seem quite different than if they would be "thought" while awake, but it's the nature of the dream function (the reptilian brain) and not the content (thought) that makes it seem so different. Of course, in addition to more modern thought, we also dream in the more archaic images and feelings which are less altered by the dream process and are probably more in tune with the reptilian brain function during our waking conscious time. Thus, when we try to reconstruct dream function during waking meditation, images and feelings are a very important pathway.
Similar to dreams in some ways, old memories are funny things. They don't always mean what we think they do, and they're not always as accurate as we want to think they are. Like dreams, memories serve our present-state existence. If it benefits us to remember them incorrectly, that's what we'll do:
She says, "People don't like me until they get to know me."
"I'm just the opposite," I reply.
"People like me immediately; until they get to know me."
"Why is that?"
"They find things out."
"What do they find out?"
"It's hard to explain."
"You mean they find out, like, who you really are?"
"No. Well, not really."
"Like about your past?"
"You'd rather not say, huh?"
"Oh, no. I don't mind. It's just...complicated."
"I'm not capable of understanding complicated things, huh?"
"No. I think I may not be capable of communicating them."
"Sure you can. Give it a try."
"I tell them things."
"Things that make them hate you?"
"Then don't tell them."
"That's not what I mean."
"What do you mean?"
"It's like...I find things out...about them; and they know it."
"How what? How do I know or how do they find out?"
"I don't know how they find out, they just do. Somehow they know. In fact, they find out in the same way I know in the first place, I guess. They intuit it or something."
"I don't think I understand."
"I didn't think you would. But you'll figure it out soon enough when you get to know me better."
"Why? Are you really crazy or something?"
Hamlet pretended to be crazy to cover up the fact that he really was. After all, he did see the ghost of his father. How sane is that? This is a good strategy that I use unintentionally all the time, a kind of reverse psychology: when people, even if only unconsciously, suspect you or accuse you of being some way that is supposed to be unflattering and/or derogatory or demeaning, embrace the definition, but alter it to suit your own taste; that is, define yourself by morphing their definition into your own. It's a passive-aggressive technique.
For example, I can use this with my brother when he accuses me of having no common sense, as he frequently will. I'll agree with him, telling him, "That's right, I don't have common sense, I have uncommon sense." Maybe this is not true, but it's a good defense that might fog the issue for a while. But why, I might ask, do I need to fog the issue anyway, why do I feel that I need to defend myself? Normally, I would think that, by being defensive, I am denying the truth; but in this case I feel like maybe the truth is that, although I have no need of defense against the issue of common sense per se, it hurts me that my brother feels the need to attack me in order to justify his own poor self-image, and I need to defend myself against that hurt. It's a working theory, until a better one comes along.
The history of science is replete with erroneous theories that were eventually displaced by newer ones that were or will be similarly displaced. I am a scientist. The history of my education and my life is replete with erroneous theories that were eventually displaced by newer ones that were or will be similarly displaced. I myself am one of those theories:
An unknown house: I'm in the living room, sitting on the floor with my back against the sofa my father sits on. I'm half-watching tv while occupying myself with some writing project, when I happen to look up and see a nude woman lying on a bed, a shot of her genital area in close up, her face in the distance half out-of-focus. I say, almost to myself, is that woman nude? Several other more revealing shots from different angles follow. (The first shot was with labia fully closed. The remainder are of various degrees of openness.) I notice that my mother has come into the room and, standing beside the sofa, her attention is riveted to the television. She says, "I can't believe they put this on tv," but I detect that her remark is not at all critical. I say, "It's cable." She continues to watch, until I conclude that she is attracted to the woman. I realize that she's a lesbian, and I think that's really cool. It changes my whole opinion of her. She becomes someone else.
These days, I feel like I'm stuck inside a Kathy Acker novel. Acker's work is an exploration of identity. She writes in Pussy, King of the Pirates that "Dreams are manifestations of identities." We express our identities most fully in dreams; and so Acker transforms her dreams into the sort of fiction that explores a landscape she intentionally retreats into and returns to report on: her internal landscape, where all the main characters are alter-egos.
I have this persistent perception, or maybe it's more like an attitude, my normal way of looking at life, that the world, as far as I can actually see and/or intuit what is actually happening, is an extension of my own self, that everything that occurs within the purview of my awareness is an extension of my own mind--which, of course, it is, as well as being external to me. But this perception, then, interacts with my own internal operations of how I imagine the world might be, or even how I want it to be when I know it is not, and it creates an amalgam worldview that is part real world and part me, perfectly intermixed so that I cannot know at any given time which is which. I hypothesize that everyone to some degree does this same thing and, unless we are so thoroughly trained in (at least one aspect of) reality, which very few of us are, we never separate out the "objective" truth from our subjective experience.
As a consequence of this externalized awareness, I do not have an accurate body sense and walk through life unaware that I am this powerful computer-brain housed inside a self-contained, compacted, physically limited body, that I am not a world in which huge populations of people and a vast array of environments exist, but a mere single human being that emulates such a world as a computer model. This alternate perception that I will occasionally entertain amazes me: I am a marvel of intricate design, a walking, talking, writing complexity that can act to alter my environment to better enable the agendas I compose. I am a powerful individual example of a widespread physical phenomenon, the human race, which is the mere apex of the meta-family of life on this planet. My complexity that enables me to introject and comprehend the whole of it overwhelms me, little single person that I am.
Writing can be a distraction, no matter how "true" the matter that I write. Sometimes all I'm doing, really, when I sit down each morning (or afternoon, or evening, or night) and write, is playing word games, using language to dig into myself and express what's "on my mind" while yet still trying to avoid facing head-on the real issue, which right now, and most often is anxiety. It's easy for me to lull myself into a false sense of security by cathartically dumping out a lot of material that turns out to be slightly off-point and so serves as a temporary general panacea without directly addressing the real problem:
I must have a car, and I can't really afford a new one, or even a cheap used one. Well, I can; but I'd rather not have to spend the money. Why should I buy one when the one I have is perfectly good, with low mileage, except that it needs a fuel line and a repair to the tank neck, which my local mechanic doesn't seem to want to do? And anyone else I take it to will soak me; or, rather, I don't trust them not to rip me off.
But that's not really the point either, it's just an excuse. If I didn't have that major problem (which isn't really a problem until next January when the inspection is due), I'd latch onto something else to angst about. But it's always better to be fearful about stupid little things than major ones. But, even better, I'm thinking, is to confront the problem. Avoidance works only for so long and is always only a superficial remedy:
Lying in bed safe at night, reading, writing, pretending that I'm accomplishing something, sometimes even actually doing so, is my favorite avoidant behavior; and then I get to go to sleep and dream, which conjures up the anxiety in a form more compatible with my waking self, so that I can deal with it later in artistic symbols; sleeping is a necessity I can easily justify, especially when I've been angst-ing too long and have exhausted my available time and energy; people (or the components of my super-ego) expect me to sleep, to allow myself at least that modest form of escape and recuperation, it's no sin to sleep, it's not avoidance, it's essential to my health and well-being, I'll think it about it tomorrow, Scarlet; hiding out from the cold in the dead of winter is a less acceptable, but still somewhat valid avoidant behavior, when I can rationalize that all I'm doing is postponing remedial action until the weather is more amenable.
Well, guess what? It's now spring, and the weather is beginning to moderate and "co-operate," so that I must now decide to hold up my end of the bargain and start to act in my own best interest. The ugly demon lurks in the depths ready at a moment's notice to spring forth when my guard is down; and spring is the time when it does it's worst springing.
The real problem, of course, is not my inability to act, I can act just fine, but rather my confirmed penchant against acting in concert with society, i.e., in dealing with people easily; but it's not even that so much as it's my need to do everything as cheaply as possible so as to insure my future for as long as possible, to make certain I can survive until I die. Actually, it's both interacting and money. When I had all the money I could want, when I worked at a high-paying job, I still experienced the other anxiety. But it's easier to solve your problems when you can throw a little bit of money at them. When you must be frugal, schmoozing people can be a primary resource; and it's my weak area. I can do it, I know how to do it, I can be as charming as all hell, but I have to work myself up to it and, always, there's that other demon, the Asperger's, waiting in the wings, ready to jump out to upstage me and foil my best plans.
But here's the thing I've got to keep in mind: When I'm out on a quest and I encounter some asshole who is not about to respond favorably to me so that my worst instincts and perversions are disturbed and brought to the fore, I can renege and opt to go elsewhere, I don't have to stay put and beat my head against some idiot's psyche, which is probably every bit as perverse as mine is and is simply acting out its own asocial agenda. Thwarted plans are easily (or, even if not so easily, doably) rerouted, if I can keep that possibility in mind and not become so dejected and defeated when I meet a snag or two in my plans so that I have to crawl home with my tail between my legs to recover and lick my wounds; or even when I must do that, I can still re-plan. This is the key here: re-plan; and I do.
But I must get started first. Getting started, especially in the spring, is the most difficult part of any operation. Not even getting started per se, but getting motivated to start. Overcoming the winter inertia, switching into summer mode, becoming manic again, setting myself up to begin to steamroll environment and society when they will not conform to my will. Respect mah authoritah! I'm Gumby, dammit! This is the key to defeating anxiety: stand up to it, confront it, make a plan and act on it, instead of wallowing in self-pity (which I never do, consciously; but in effect, I might as well be doing it, for all the good repressing it does me, if that is what I do), and most of all, I need to rouse myself to the level where I can charm people with my presence because more than anything else that will work wonders. (A beer before I try this helps; but never two, because then my better judgment may become impaired.)
Faith, too, can be a valuable tool in the war against anxiety, except that I'm not so sure what to have faith in: God is out, because I can't deceive myself into believing in a personal god; faith in myself, of course, although it tends to wax and wane in practice, is always theoretically available, i.e., I know I will succeed, eventually; and along this same line, I know that everything is always all right, nothing is never so overwhelming that it is impossible not to go on, or else you die, in which case, it doesn't matter what the circumstances of your existence are. In the present, except for a few specific circumstances, you are always okay.
[Exceptions: you can't breathe; you're cold, to the point of freezing and can't find adequate shelter; you're seriously thirsty and/or hungry and don't know how you will satisfy these cravings; you're being physically abused, which includes rape; psychological abuse requires the complicity of the person being abused, and so you can stop its effect by an act of will, so that if you feel you're not okay because someone is psychologically abusing you, all you have to do is change your mind and it will stop. I know for a fact that this is true because I grew up in a social environment of psychological abuse, yet I was not a victim of it, because I unconsciously refused to be affected by it. I was so closed off when confronted by others that they could never reach me, except physically, which they tried to do, so that I learned fairly early on how to physically defend myself. (My closed-off nature was my psychological defense.)]
You must have faith that it is true that you are almost always okay. [Faith works whether or not you're religious, much to the unconscious chagrin of blindly religious people who cannot accept psychological principles independently of their mythical gods.] And you must have faith in your fate: it has gotten you to where you are so far; if you don't like where you are, okay, maybe you have a problem. [I love where I am right now (it's for this reason that I worry about losing this particular manifestation of my life) and so I want to insure its continuance.] But change is inevitable, so you must manage the change to improve the situation you are in: when change threatens, arrange the circumstances of it so that it conforms to the goals you have for your life. That's what faith is, that you can do this, that you (and not "God," unless by God you mean that part of you inside that connects with the cosmos) can manage inevitable change by morphing your life into closer compliance with how you want to exist. It's easy; all you have to do is refuse to compromise your ideals. I refused this compromise when I was young by disallowing abuse; but I'm more aware of my inner workings now and so will more readily question the things I do that fly in the face of society.
Even the silliest little commitment I make with myself to go shopping in the morning in order to take advantage of the first day of advertised sales or planning to watch certain tv shows can put me into a "demand" mode that upsets my productivity. It seems I can't plan to do anything any more lest it interrupt my work.
But, oh, the exquisite sense of freedom when I realize that I don't actually have to go shopping, that I have enough supplies in the house to last for weeks, or that tv is stupid anyway. I get so hung up on certain plans I make that I don't realize they are of my own construction and, for the most part, are non-essential.
And they all have to do, in one way or another, with money: sales save me lots of money when I stockpile food and supplies for later; paying bills on time (a "necessity") avoids late fees; watching enough tv negates the desire to rent dvds because there's not enough available time to watch them. (Okay. That's a bit of a stretch.)
And then there's the social commitments: people expect me to be there when I say I will be, even though when I made the plans I had no idea that my spinal inflammation would flare up or I'd be right in the middle of the most productive writing of my life. (These don't have anything to do with money, but with time.)
When I finally conclude, after suffering with the remorse of knowing that I have to be at a certain place at a certain time, that I do not in fact have to be there and, instead of forcing myself to get enough sleep so that I'll be at least somewhat rested when I go, I can stay up and pursue my isolated agenda, I'm a happy camper.
This is the way my life goes when it flows happily along: Action that occurs outside myself seems most often to be non-coincidental; that is, it involves me in some way, if only psychically. But the concept of 'psychic' can mean two apparently different things: 1) that which is related to what we culturally, despite the opinions of our "best" scientists, attribute to psi phenomena (telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.); 2) that Freudian, etc. concept referring to that which occurs inside the psyche, which our current culture interprets as the general idea of "mind." But these two very different (due to our cultural interpretations) definitions are actually quite closely related and may even be an identical phenomenon that has been rationalized in different conceptual directions:
If action that occurs outside myself in fact does always or most often involve me, then the first definition may apply; but if it does not, if I only think it does but am wrong in my interpretation, then the second definition may be the case. However, both definitions may apply in the sense that actions outside myself affect me, internally, when I observe them: the very condition of my being aware of them creates internal changes; and they may affect me even if I'm not aware of their occurrence in that they may initiate or continue a chain of events that works its way toward me and eventually ends up affecting me directly. The degree to which these two processes overlap determines how "involved" I am in the "outside world."
There is no real distinction between "inner" and "outer" except the one that we create, by adopting one or both of the definitions above (the first being more fluid, the second more restricting; but each not necessarily exclusive of at least some aspects of the other). How we see ourselves re the world "outside" ourselves, how much information from it we admit (to), determines our self-image and other-involvement; but it does not determine the basic nature of reality, which does what it does independently of how we perceive it. At our very deepest unconscious level, we know the truth about how far the world permeates us and vice versa; but the truth, when filtered through the layers of subconscious and conscious awareness becomes to whatever degree lost and we begin to wonder how much of the world exists within us. Whether we are intimately involved with our environments or whether we are relatively isolated "psychic" beings is never really the issue. We are, always, mutually involved. The wonder is: How much are we aware of it and what is the nature of the involvement?
If I'm walking down a city street and look into a window just at the moment that a woman is closing the drapes, did she close them because she didn't want me looking in or was her action coincidental? [It was coincidental in the strictest meaning of the word, but here I'm using the word in the way we more commonly use it, to indicate that some causal connection does not exist.] The correct answer is simply, yes. (Cf., Schroedinger's cat.) At some very deep unconscious level (at the least) the woman knew ahead of time that I was coming and would look in. If she had been a different person, she might have left the drapes open, or maybe even taken off her blouse and bra so that I could "accidentally" see her breasts. It is in this sense that we claim, when we do, that there is no such events as accidents. But of course there are accidents, some of us may claim. But what we see as accidents we see via a superficial awareness. When we drill down to the deepest levels, all phenomena are connected and causal.
I don't want to give the impression here that the woman who closed her drapes did so because she unconsciously perceived that I was coming, nor do I want to imply that she closed them in response to an unconscious message that I sent to her that she should do so; that is, I don't want to conclude that either of us unconsciously engineered the action, for whatever reason. Rather, I want to indicate that these things happen in concert, that what happens happens because the underlying matrix of the action is intimately interconnected, even indistinguishable among individuals at the deepest level, so that causality, whatever the particulars, is mutually effective and affective: it would be just as correct to say that I sent a message ahead of me that told the woman to close the drapes so that I might thwart my own perverse and lurid fantasies as it would be to say that she perceived ahead of time my intent and acted to thwart it; and just as incorrect. Both conditions (if those motivations were in fact the case) can be true simultaneously (and many, many more besides); but in the relatively more "outer" world that we assume we live in, our more superficial sensibilities demand a more either/or explanation. The woman closing her drapes and me passing by is an interrelated event, both in time and space and beyond it, even if it would happen to be true that we each acted independently (which kind of implies that we did not; logic begins to break down this deep, which is why these phenomena are so difficult if not impossible to explain, so that language becomes more of a tool to suggest, rather than define, the underlying nature of reality). It is the nature of the area "beyond" space and time that we doubt, when we do; the interpretation of the event in that spacetime moment in the "real world" is what we argue about, when we do, because we do not have accurate (scientific) definitions of the psyche and of the nature of reality.
When I say that I avoid people, it is always the case that I perceive on a more superficial than deeper psychological level, because at a certain depth, we can not ever avoid people, even when we are alone. Our early socialization, if nothing else, puts people inside our heads; and the subtle and profound operations of our minds (call it intuition if you must) inform us of their ongoing distant interactions with us.
I realize that I avoid people because I'm not adept at socializing and (mostly unconsciously) feel a severe lack of confidence when confronted with the possibility of doing it. (I often seem to do it quite well spontaneous; it's the anticipation of planned events that disturbs me and throws me off my anti-game.) But I also realize that I actually would like to do it, all else being equal. This may be a big breakthrough here: I've known for quite a while that I am capable of social interaction, that I made myself capable, that is, that I understand how to do it, having intentionally studied it and mastered the skills, because I lacked the natural ability [despite my natural charisma--it's an odd combination, a fear of social interaction coupled with a natural charisma, it's the dammed Asperger's that keeps the latter locked inside by the former, although it can't prevent it from seeping out in extra-social psychic (mutually intuitive) or spiritual (communion-oriented) ways] and recognized that I nevertheless needed the skills in order to succeed in business; but I never really understood that I would otherwise actually enjoy it, if only... Or, rather, I did understand it in that dimly lit way that consciousness has of disguising difficult material: all of my fantasies, sexual and other, are socially oriented; I make up in fantasy what I can't or don't do in reality. (Of course.)
I find people interesting and would like to walk easily up to strangers and engage them in conversation. This is a conscious reversal. Previous to this moment, if you had asked me if I'd like to engage people, whether I do or not, I'd have said, No. I'd rather be alone. And, in a way, it would be true, because I feel none of the "pain" that some others feel as loneliness. (Or else I repress it very, very well. Probably.) Now, I can see how I might actualize my fantasies via prepared "scripts" (a goal I've had for quite a while) that get me into a relationship and/or conversation where the natural spontaneity that I experience in unanticipated situations can occur. It's those awkward first moments I never seem to be able to get past when I consciously try to, so that long ago I gave up bothering to try. [Although, after you are well-engaged, it's also those sticky moments of intimacy that never quite pan out, or else those transferred and/or projected matters of personal psychology, that threaten to make the ongoing situation unbearable.]
When you're in business situations, when it's essential to your livelihood that you engage, you bite the bullet and just do it, and never mind the stress, it comes with the job. But when you don't have to do it, why bother if it's so difficult? Well, because if you don't, no matter how wary you may be of the results when nine out of ten people aren't worth knowing anyway, you end up avoiding that ten percent of people whose presence may be highly mutually rewarding. (Okay, so it's only one half of one percent; but you get the idea.)
So, I've been thinking now for several months about writing out a few scripts, getting back into practice again, but this time not for business, but for my own social enjoyment. (Can you believe it?) I've previously been rejecting this idea out-of-hand because, as a result of my work history, I've gotten the practice all mixed up with business; and I hate business people, they're so booooorrrring--and Machiavelian. And the best scripts, I believe, would be social issues, news item stuff, controversial material that's likely to provoke high-spirited debate that quickly gets to the heart of the matter and separates that one percent of wheat from the ninety-nine percent chaff. "Do you watch the news?" "National or local?" "Which part do you like best? The top issues? The weather? Sports?" (If they answer sports, get away graciously as fast as you can. If they answer the weather, try to sell them that swamp property in Florida you can't get rid of.) "The human-interest crap at the end?" (These could end up being the most interesting people; but maybe not.)
The other day, Scott Adams published in his blog a list of issues that he'd asked his readers to submit to him if they wanted his opinions on them. This is what I need to create for myself, pithy summaries of my opinions on a wide variety of issues. I need to concentrate on that pithy criterion because my opinions tend to be somewhat complicated and diverge into complexities, because that's the way the world is as I see it, it's never black and white, though it seems at first to start out that way; but as I get deeper into any issue, I realize its complexity and see how it is related to other issues, which are related to other issues, and so on until all issues are really a part of the One Big Issue, whatever it is, that we as mere humans can't ever quite seem to get a handle on, so we piddle around in the puddle of our opinions instead. See what I mean? I can't be doing this kind of equivocating in a sociable conversation. I used to have a boss who did that sort of thing and he drove me and everyone else crazy. (You have to blame someone.) For the purposes of socialization, you've got to keep it simple, stupid; at least until you get to know someone very well. Engaging people is not a complicated issue; in fact, the simpler you keep it, the better you get along. Hmm. Maybe this isn't something I really want to do after all.
When I attend to my own personal little world and let the big one fend for itself, my life tends to flow far more smoothly; and, although much of my input comes from "out there," I can still remain productive with no input at all (apart from that which arrives internally, although most of that too may be ultimately external). I don't stagnate because I am out of touch (in fact, when I stagnate, it's pretty much for the opposite reason). I can occupy myself, when I so desire, while hardly trying. I have so many goals and plans that, if I do anything at all, I advance them with little thought about actually trying to do it. The only way I do not advance is if I do nothing at all. And even then, I'm still developing my thought. I'd have to stop thinking too.
I do not conform myself to society, and it makes me angry that society will not conform itself to me. I have a big problem in this regard, and it's nearly gotten me into big trouble many times in the past, except that I just managed to skate by each and every time. Still, it pisses me off. The most recent incident is the pervasive car inspection problem. My (bad) attitude re it is: I will do this my way. I'm not about to junk a perfectly good car with low mileage because I can't get it inspected. It's like this with every single obstacle I encounter: defiance.
The fact that "society" [or my local mechanic, perhaps because he has an agenda, like maybe he doesn't want to continue to compromise his inspections for me (he's an old high school acquaintance and this gas tank/line problem has been developing for quite a while), or maybe he wants to sell me a car (he buys, repairs, and resells old cars)] disagrees with or legislates arbitrary controls seldom stops me from accomplishing what I set out to do, it only makes it more difficult as I maneuver around them. If I can't get the car repaired, I've already decided that I'm going to drive it anyway, without getting it inspected. I drive so little any more, putting only about five hundred miles a year on the car, and the distance I travel is so short, at most five miles or so to go shopping or to visit my brother on holidays, that the likelihood of me getting caught are slim. And if I do get caught, what are they going to do? Fine me. And the cost of the fine will be offset by not having paid to get the car inspected. At worst, with persistent defiance, they'll take my license away. But if they do, I'm going to drive anyway, because it's a necessity. I'm not on a bus line and the stores are just too far to walk to.
I can't help but wish that I were older. If I were a solid senior citizen, I could use my age as an advantage, make the locals feel sorry for me, pity me. That day will come. Meanwhile, I have two years to get past, and then the car will be twenty-five years old and I can get antique plates for it and not have to get it inspected. Then I can drive it until it stops running and I get stuck somewhere without transportation and curse myself and not society for being stupid. Meanwhile, I'll be as recalcitrant as I need to be to enable the vision I have for my own life.
One day I will be just as I am today. The past will be the present, and I will not have changed, transforming time like an old machine clunking away into oblivion.
You would force an old man to walk or ride a bicycle along dangerous roads to get to the stores in order to supply himself with enough food to survive.
You would insist that people struggling to survive in abandoned inner cities fend for themselves while you sit in your luxury apartments in new suburban mega-complexes and rule what's left of the postmodern world deteriorated through its disuse.
There's a whole list of these consequences not yet developed that will yet come. Truth that has not yet occurred is truth nonetheless. I envision these things from time to time, a future full of misery caused by our current disconcern. I dream and write about states of time and mind that do not (yet) exist. I jump the gap from year to year and month to month with little awareness or (additional) sense of confusion, conforming myself to myself as if it were the most normal daily process.
My dreams are like watching films I'm acting in. So I try to watch movies like I dream. And in between I fantasize about filmmaking. I imagine I am dreaming while awake. I immobilize my physical existence. My body is asleep, I am alert. A balance point exists between the dream film and reality. I form images out of a cloud-like colored fog barrier. It breathes my breath and forms faces for me. When I meditate, I always realize I'm in pain. Otherwise I've trained myself to ignore it. A balance-point exists between the pain and relaxation. The fog is like the I Ching or a Tarot deck or Ouija board. Physical irritations threaten to disturb me. The trick is not in not becoming disturbed. The trick is in not minding it. This has become a standard mental format, the G. Gordon Liddy gambit: The trick is not..., but... Don't go into the fog. Yes! Go into the fog. But whatever you do, don't lose awareness. Awareness is the rope attached to memory. Later, I can pull my experience back with it. The fog drifts in and out of dreams forming images. The transition between states never sleeps. The world is a whore opening her legs for me. I create my existence in this world in the fog. The fog is my intimate connection to the world. The world breathes subtle emanations that the fog translates into past, present, future.
It seems that my lack of sedulity in processing and posting my journals to my website has at least one positive aspect in this regard: when I fall far behind, I discover themes that run through the monthly journals and, while posting to catch up, I can't help but try to consolidate the material by combining posts from all late journals, because the newer material qualifies the earlier stuff and (tends to) make it a slight bit more (or less) intelligible, so that I might end up with three or four months of future entries added into the earliest journal I'm posting to. I like to think of this process, not as adding newer material into older journals, but as the material from older journals precognating the newer stuff. From the point of view of the older journal, it's like a kind of psychic phenomenon: this is what I'm going to say a few months from now, so you might as well read it right now, ahead of time, like a science fiction novel where connections between point on a timeline like sentences grow weakened or dissolve altogether.
Kurt Vonnegut, in A Man Without A Country, writes of semicolons: "They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing." This makes me sad. I respect Vonnegut and his opinions. He's a very smart man, no doubt. But even very smart men can have areas of ignorance. I love colons and semicolons and way overuse them. They appeal to my sense of thought-logic in that I use them to try to mimic the process my mind uses. Besides, what's wrong with transvestites and hermaphrodites? It's a clever metaphor, as far as it goes; but it doesn't go so far. Surely Vonnegut cannot be suggesting that these deviancies represent absolutely nothing. If anything, they represent far more than most of us are willing to admit. He means, perhaps, that they are inutile; but if he does, why doesn't he just say that? But he's always gone beyond the pale. Can't blame him for that. I'm much the same, which is why it disturbs me when we do not agree.
Of course, he has not an inkling of my existence, and that's the problem. I write books he's never heard of. My purpose for writing books is not to write books per se, although it's nice to see them published and sitting on a shelf; it's a great ego boost. And my purpose is not to entertain or inform or even to be read at all. My purpose is to have a format into which to put the journal entries that do not readily fit into other formats, especially my online journal (my primary published focus), which is fairly straightforward (notwithstanding my tangential and divergent writing style). The more difficult material that I generate, the stuff of my life-mind that is not so straightforward, I can twist and spin and shape into novel content, because it's not so necessary to be so literally truthful in that format. It's like an odd-out tv show that because it's so unique gets picked up, copied, and eventually becomes the norm, which is as disconcerting for me as it is an appropriate simile:
I hate shows like "Extreme Makeover" that are based on helpless losers who don't know how to organize their lives and help themselves and always end up leeching off social services and the generosity and goodwill of others. [I don't do these things myself, but I recognize the projection; that is, my tendency in that direction that I choke off and swallow with a crooked little smile.] It's one thing when you experience hard times and need a helping hand to get to back on your feet and independent again. It's another thing entirely to live your life this way. These shows have a paternalistic attitude that pretends to be so caring, when it's actually a maudlin one that capitalizes upon people's misfortune and pathos, which makes the shows themselves kind of like the people they "help"; they leech off the leeches, taking advantage of their sad situations in order to make money, all while maintaining a pretense that the people they're helping are ordinary people who have fallen onto hard times and need a bit of help to get back to where they belong, when they're rather exactly the kind of losers the show is looking for, who have never been ordinary and who, after their fifteen minutes of fame, when the "caring" goes away and the gifts wear out, will return to their former lives of pathetic desperation, a brief interlude, as if aliens, altered reality for a bit, and then departed, distorting time and space just enough to make you wonder what had happened before when the past became the future.