by j-a

[main menu] [thoughthistory menu]

June 2006

A Good Defense
(Part One)

go to
part two

acting hysterically

The portal of God is non-existence.
Chuang Tse XXIII
In a Dirac sea, particle/anti-particle pairs pop up out of nothing. God creates the universe, and then destroys it, leaving residue. We are the residue of God's heavenly game of non-existence. Decidedly, this does not all happen "out there" somewhere. Our planetary atmosphere does not protect us from the cosmos. The clouds are not at all a transition between existence and non-existence. Transition happens everywhere, even inside our very, feeble brains.

My mode of existence shifts, beneath the absolute of heaven, like the broadcast tv reception when the atmospherics change. Last week, UPN was crystal clear and the local CBS affiliate was barely viewable; now, the reverse is true. And I can't seem to manage to predict this condition, no matter how much data I accumulate and convert into charts and graphs.

We think we understand what's going on, even those of us who are not scientists and/or do not have the methodology to look into the causal nature of experience. Automatically, we assume that the definitions we accept and the belief we create from them correspond to reality, when at best they are only the least little bit approximate:

Approximately fifty million people died as a result of WWII. Six million of those were Jews. Yet we (or at least I, but I don't think I'm alone here) believe that the Holocaust was the terrible tragedy of the war (of the century even, and perhaps of the totality of human history), probably because "we" implicitly understand that it was done "more" intentionally than all of the other killing. But it wasn't! How many of the fifty million dead were the result of "collateral damage?" A rather small percentage, I'm guessing. The rest of them, although perhaps less sinisterly dispatched, were just as intentionally killed.

Maybe it's not true. Maybe most were killed by collateral damage. Or maybe I'm confusing the issue here by assuming that people killed with prejudice are not any more important than people killed matter-of-factly in battle or "accidentally" (although it can hardly be called an accident if you choose to use weapons whose effect cannot be limited strictly to enemy combatants). Maybe my penchant for believing that war in any form is a crime against nature, not to mention humanity, predetermines my conclusions. Maybe my belief that, when we can't find a way to settle our differences without resorting to bloodshed, we are the same kind of barbarians that our enemies are, is just plain wrong. Or maybe, on the other hand, the fact that I can't accept violence against humans in any form is actually a valid means of continuing personal existence. I believe in following Jesus' lead and turning the other cheek, although I'd probably instinctually defend myself if life or limb were threatened; but then, I'm not so perfect a person as Jesus was, and I never react consciously in an aggressive way--or maybe I should say that I never any more react consciously, because I no longer expose myself to the kinds of situations that might demand it, all in my attempt to avoid the kinds of situations where I might react unconsciously. But this kind of existence does not apply to nation-states: as far as nations go, an adequate defense does not have to be a good offense. We can protect our nation and those of our allies in many non-violent ways, which we may always choose consciously because that's the nature of concerted action--unless it happens to be incidents of mass hysteria, which idea sometimes makes me wonder: are the neo-cons and their ilk, without us realizing it, acting hysterically, instead of with a cold and calculated logic? Nah. They know perfectly well what they're up to.

an unfolding experience

The world of politics has an insidious way of polluting my mind and diverting me away from what I want to think is my true purpose and intention. Every day I set out to examine my personal psychology and end up instead spouting polemics that target Bush and the fundamentalists. This is not what I really want to do, I think. There are enough social critics doing this sort of thing. My area of concern, I think, should be the ways that my personal psychology affects the world (or at least my self)--because this is my forte, and the predominant essence of my being; but even this has become hopelessly polluted, in perhaps an even more insidious way--with Hollywood-like postmod culture: Last night I had another Laura Prepon dream, this one involving the entire casts of "That 70s Show" and "Friends" with a smattering of additional celebrities:

It's evening and everyone is preparing to go to a wedding. We're in Churchill on Rte 22 between the police station and Graham Blvd., but as if the wide, highway-like street is the inside of a house. I don't want to get dressed up and my "people" (who are not celebrities yet, but wannabees heading in that direction) are mildly chastising me in hopes of encouraging me to do so, and quickly, because we have to catch a plane to go to the wedding, to which end the wide road is also like an airport tarmac. I mention to someone that I once ran into Martin Sheen on this street, because he lives in one of these houses; but I can't remember which one. The house/street becomes a gathering place (fully inside a house now) where people are assembling in a kind of pre-wedding reception. The rooms are lined with rich-toned, expensive-looking wood paneling and the house, although not excessively large, has foyers and closed-off rooms that give it an upper class appearance and ambiance. I run into Martin Sheen again and we exchange brief hellos. Stockard Channing is one of the people who was gently nagging at me to get ready (although I only recognize this in retrospect and was not, at least fully, aware of this within the dream). (A lot of the neighbors will be wedding guests.) Gary Shandling also lives in the neighborhood and is attending. I talk to him and, noticing that I am distracted, he encourages me to confide in him; so I do. He turns out to be rather empathetic and interested in my boring problems (which I can't remember; or maybe they were never revealed in the dream). Cut to:

A rented hall, apparently the reception after the wedding, although there is no indication of it, but rather it is more like a kind of simple get-together (except that, later, a large contingent of people not at the head table appear and the room expands to be far larger; but at this point, it seems like it's a small room, sort of like a local bar, where we have gotten together, with the expanded area darkened behind where I am sitting): All of my friends are there, as if they were the same people who were in the house/street earlier, although they're not, but they are, rather, the full cast of the two tv shows. It's late, nearing the end of the evening. We're all sitting at the long head table. Topher Grace (as Eric Forman) is humorously chiding me for something I did a long time ago, and I'm mildly embarrassed by his tale. Laura and I are sitting next to each other and sort of secretly touching each other, although we're doing it in plain sight. Someone mentions that it's obvious that we're "together" and that, despite our attempts to keep it a secret, we really want everyone to know it and this is our way of revealing it without coming right out and announcing it. We do not object, but look at each other lovingly. Topher/Eric gets pissed. He's been broken up with Laura (as Donna, except that, in her relationship with me, she is Laura) for quite a while, but he obviously still loves her, and everyone has been assuming that she still loves him too; but our interaction is an indication that she no longer does, but loves me instead. Topher begins to tell another story about me, which is less friendly, more vindictive, something about how, in the course of an interview-type situation, I had "propositioned" some guy (hints of the earlier Gary Shandling interaction here, but no direct reference or dream awareness). There is a kernel of truth in the story, which actually, apparently, happened a very long time ago (maybe in reality; I have that feeling, although I can't remember any specific incident) and involved a girl, not a guy--enough truth to make it difficult for me to deny it, with the additional false implication that it happened fairly recently. A girl sitting on the opposite side of Laura starts to get pissed when it's discovered that Laura and I are together. Apparently she thought she and I were going to become involved. Jump-cut to: Laura and I farther back in the room, away from the table where everyone else still sits. I am sitting on a folding chair and Laura is standing behind me with her hands on my shoulders. We are to the right of a large array of tables where guests are seated, although, it being late, many guests have already departed. Laura has finally had enough of the "proposition" story and gets pissed at me. She comes to believe, with the encouragement of Topher and a few others chipping in, that I've been cheating on her. People at the tables are adding in their comments. I appeal to Gary, who is sitting with the thinning crowd at the tables, to help me out, and he tries, but feebly. Others in the crowd take the opposite view and encourage Laura to maintain her standoffish nature. The other girl finally has had enough and leaves, making the situation worse. Aston Kuscher screams, "Burn!" With a lot of effort, I begin to win Laura back over to me, but not completely before I awaken, understanding the difficult nature of friendship and relationships and painfully aware that I no longer have a large contingent of friends, yet sort of wishing that I did, but knowing that the problems arising from these kinds of contingencies were always too much for me to handle full-time, so that I was never able to fully reap the benefits of friendship, networking, etc. and did so to the smallest degree only when they functioned semi- or unconsciously. When the dynamics became conscious, I became too self-absorbed in my own overly self-conscious nature and lost to the basic nature of friendship (not to mention intimate relationships). This is all the result of Asperger's.

In the afternoon, after writing out this dream, I go out shopping, having put it off over the whole weekend because of the rain. I have to take advantage of some great food sales at the local Shop 'N Save and get spark plugs for the motorcycle because I broke the ceramic on one of them when I was extracting it, since it was welded into the cylinder by years of disuse. I had to engineer an elaborate array of connected spark plug wrench, vice grip, and small steel bar, all levered by a long piece of galvanized conduit that I needed to provide the torque necessary to break the plug free, which also ended up breaking the plug. I also have to get deck supports for the hops trellis I'm building to replace the temporary polyester cords I strung last year, which are showing signs of wear and tear; one of them broke yesterday. Fortunately, none of the hops bines broke in their fall to the ground.

So I go out and get everything I need, which is an accomplishment in and of itself, and I return home, wondering what the odor is in the car, trying to solve it's mystery: For weeks now, whenever I've gone into the basement, I've been noticing a "dead animal" odor. I thought it was probably a dead mouse or rat or some other wild creature that had managed to find its way into the basement to die; and I had decided, since the odor seemed to be getting gradually worse, that I was going to have to begin an exhaustive search for the carcass if the damn thing would not finally dry up and wait to be discovered in a desiccated state years hence, like maybe it was sitting in some source of leaking water that was unknown to me, or something.

When I get into the car to leave the garage, I notice the smell, but assume it's a residual odor from the basement. But when I get back into the car after having been in the grocery store, the odor is still there and seems more pronounced. Each time I get back into the car after having been at a store, I am met with the smell. As I go about my other shopping, I try to imagine how a small animal might crawl into the car and die; or maybe one had crawled up under it, like cats will do when they seek out the warmth of a recently run engine in cold spells and end up crushed by a fan belt or cut apart by the blades when the owner restarts the car. You hear stories like that all the time. But the odor is never apparent outside the car, only inside it after the door is opened, and anyway, it's been eighty degrees outside. No cat is going to be looking for warmth at this time of year.

So, when I get back home and, after unloading all of food, etc. and carrying it into the house, I think to look briefly through the car to see if I can find anything. In one corner of the hatchback I keep a pile of extra plastic shopping bags in case I need them. Several weeks ago, the last time I went food shopping, I stuffed additional bags in on top of them. At that time, I had bought five three-pound bags of boneless skinless chicken breasts at a ridiculously low price, and there beneath the plastic bags was one of the bags of chicken, rotting, of course. Mystery solved. I don't have to ransack the basement looking for a dead animal carcass.

Having had only six hours sleep and, after returning home, two chipped ham sandwiches, and a beer, I'm ready for a nice long afternoon nap. I set the sleep timer on the tv for one-half hour and turn on the Watkins Glen Indy car race, because the whine and drone of the engines and transmissions are a soothing background ambiance for speeding into sleep:

db and I are at 640. I'm sitting on a couch that is behind another couch, as if we're in a kind of mini-movie theater, although we're just in the entryway and facing the dining room. (It would make sense, maybe, if there were a tv we were facing, and that is the "feel" of this scene, as if we're watching tv; but we're not. Also, there is a whole earlier section of this dream I can't remember that happened outside, involving a lot of others, like the friendship stuff of the dream I had last night.) Two young women sit on either side of me [residue from the earlier part of the dream and seeming analogous with or identical to last night's dream where I sat between Laura and another girl], both wanting my attention, which I want to give to them; but instead, I crawl over the couch back to be with db, whom I am "loyal" to, which makes her happy and attentive (unlike in previous dreams, in which she is merely friendly and benign--i.e., not pissed--but distant). The other girls are disappointed and leave, which makes me sad, but not so sad as happy that db is happy with me. Cut to:

I'm in the living room at 6023, talking to a guy, who is, at first, a Scott Adams-type of intellectual, but who morphs into a young, liberal priest as the dream takes a right turn in tone. While the guy is Scott-like, he's cool and I talk easily with him. He's brought four cork coasters with him that he has had made, with witty sayings and cartoon-like drawings on them. He shows them to me one by one, and I make the greatest effort to try to read and understand them (even though, being within a dream, I can't seem to logically process words very well). Also, he has a larger, but similar cork sheet with him that I must read, all while my "conscious" thought is being distracted by what is being said by others (my mother and father, and maybe others). When I am finally done reading, the "interrogation" is ready to being, which originally had been meant to be an intellectual discussion between the Scott-like guy and me, but which degrades into a kind of neo-inquisition (i.e., liberalism replacing the authoritarianism of the past Church), where the priest, although "understanding" in attitude and demeanor, is here at the behest of my parents, primarily my mother (because that's the way it was in my household growing up, my mother determining the course of our socio-cultural lives with my father going along with her, not that he didn't agree with her; he did, most definitely, but he never would have pushed matters beyond a certain mere statement of "facts" were it not for her insistence in the certitude of her beliefs). The conversation between the priest and me, though friendly, takes on increasing tones of accusation and self-defense as I try to explain my more scientific frame-of-mind and my mother continually interrupts us with misunderstanding as to what I'm saying. Most particularly, this deals with the existence of heaven and hell, which apparently, previously, I told her I didn't believe in. [In real life, we never discussed the issue, and even if we had, I probably might have then believed more in the possibility of their existence. And even if I had expressed my current views to her, she would never have objected any more than to say that she didn't believe them; that is, she would never have insisted that I believe other than what I did. She is not at all her real self in this dream, but is more like a caricature of some typical authoritarian mother who insists on running her adult kids' lives; she is my real mother playing the role of someone else's, as if this is a staged screenplay (or psychic "intervention").] My mother insists that I said (before the onset of this dream, as if the dream has a past) that everyone is going to hell, when what I'd really said was that no one was going to heaven, because there was no heaven. I point out to the priest, who is trying to understand the situation here, that she's so locked into her system of beliefs, that she is incapable of understanding what I mean, and so must believe that a statement concerning the non-existence of heaven or hell must be interpreted as everyone going to hell if they don't go to heaven.

Due to the incomprehensible nature of logic (such as exhibited in my inability to understand the captions on the cartoon-like coasters) typical of dreams in general but highly pronounced in this one, as I'm typing out this dream, I have an extremely difficult time stating even its progression accurately, let alone the logic of the beliefs. As I try to do this, I remember a thought I had before I fell asleep:

It was only after my mother died and I withdrew even more away from our prosaic social world that the possibility of fairly frequent visitors to my own home dwindled and I began to change my house layout from a conventional one to one that better corresponded to my "bohemian" mindset. My dining room is now my office, dominated by computers and plant propagation areas, with scattered places where I lay my paintings out to dry (so that I can see them daily as they do). I have no table or chairs, and hardly even an area to walk around. My living room has become a mere extension of the art studio behind it, the only typical living room furnishings remaining being three upholstered chairs and a small b&w portable tv. I long ago cut up the couch, which was deteriorating, for firewood and moved all of my vinyl, tapes, and CDs, which used to be in the studio, onto shelves, which also used to be in the studio, into the living room to make more room in the studio for art work, which itself also began to overflow. Essentially, except for the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, my whole house is my art and writing studio now. Even the basement, except for the garage, which is devoted to car and bike maintenance, is a studio of a kind, where I store my homemade beer and wine (a form of art for me), and my screen printing and woodworking equipment and supplies.

The point is that, although I might have wanted to live this way, I never chose to do so until after my mother died, and I may not have chosen to do it then [chosen is perhaps the wrong word; it was more of a gradual evolution--or devolution, from a more socio-cultural point of view] if visitors to my home had continued to arrive in the way they had been arriving in the past, even after my divorce. It is only because I have "chosen" (I tend to think of it more as a benign necessity) to live and be alone most of the time, that I have "allowed" myself to become outwardly what I consider to be my true self. This has always been the case to some degree, but in a lot of ways I've kept that self not so much repressed as hidden. Social opinion influenced me in what I consider to be a nefarious way (though it was all probably quite "normal") all my life to keep me secretive. But after I began to allow my house to become more "me" (and the real me expand into the house I was in the process of becoming), I began to notice that "I" also became more myself in social situations (that is, my inner self continued to spread out beyond the house), caring less whether others thought I might be strange, allowing others to see the real me, putting up less of a sociable front. Or maybe it was inevitable that I would allow this to happen and the house was not a causal part of the experience, but merely another symptom of it. Whatever. It happened.

Now, looking back, I feel like my life is an unfolding experience; whereas previously it has always felt static, even though I at any point could look at it and conclude that it had been, even rapidly, changing. I am evolving, physically, intellectually, psychologically, and even spiritually, I guess (although I'm not certain that spiritual concerns are separatable from psychological ones.) I am a newly evolved being every season of my life, another generation of ideas, however incapacitated, having been born, developed, and flown away:

A few days ago through the side window, I saw a baby robin in the yard under the apple tree. It looked perhaps injured and helpless. Nearby, an adult robin and a few nasty grackles were feeding on the newly mowed lawn. Later, I saw the baby robin calling plaintively out at the edge of the front deck. Its mother flew down to it and stuffed a worm into its mouth.

Today, out back, I saw the baby again, sitting on a dead branch that I had lain across the roof of the small shed. I walked right up to it, but it didn't fly away. I wondered if it were too injured to fly. I stood only a few feet away from it and examined it closely. It looked like it was missing tail feathers.

I could have reached out and picked it up, but I worried that it might be diseased. So I got a short stick and laid it beneath its breast, prodding it like I might a parakeet with my finger to encourage it to hop up on it. I continued to lift the stick up against its breast more forcefully until it decided to fly away, awkwardly, all the way down to the front left of the house.

From my vantage point in the back, I could see both sides of the house. The mother was on the right side, calling out to her baby, wondering, I guess, where it had gotten to. So, though out of sight, she's still taking care of it. Maybe it'll survive. It makes me wonder if my own mother is still out there somewhere calling out to me; though, at the least, she's hidden away inside me, in my dreams.

another dream

I'm in a grocery store, waiting in a checkout line with a newspaper I'm going to buy. But the line isn't moving and I'm starting to get frustrated. I go to other checkouts, but it's the same thing. Then I realize that no one is in front of me in line, all of the checkouts are closed, and in fact no one is in the store at all except a few employees, who are getting ready to leave for the evening. I put the paper down and leave. [I think when I awaken that I should have kept the paper.] The storefront opens directly into a subway station, which is atypical in that it looks more like an old, elaborate, ornate railway station or an old-time posh movie theater, with huge curving staircases rising up to platforms that cross the tracks to get to the other side and analogous to theater balconies. A train comes and I wonder if it's going into town, so I ask a guy getting on and he says, no, in a rather condescending way, as if I should already know that I have to get on a train going the other way. But, illogically, I do not cross over, but get on the next train, which is heading into town. A guy, a business-type, is talking to the guy sitting next to me, leaning in close to him, invading his personal space. When he sees me look at him, he leans across the guy toward me and directs his "business" lectures at me also. He gets right up in my face, as if he isn't aware of how rude he's being. His behavior disgusts me, and I straighten up in my seat to back my face away from him and say, "Get the fuck away from me, asshole." I get up and walk into the next car as I hear him say behind me, "That guy's looking for fight, and he might find it before he's done." Then the guy follows me and continues to try to talk to me, so that I realize that I'm not the one who's looking for a fight, but him. [A part of my unconscious self is looking for a fight, which my ego-self, passive-aggressive entity that it is, does not want.] The train stops short of the downtown area and I get off on the South Side and view the city from afar, wanting to go downtown and thinking to walk there, but reconsidering, thinking that it could be a lot farther than it looks, several miles, perhaps. I think I have to take another train to get there. So, instead, I walk through the South Side and up the hill into (illogically) the back streets of Squirrel Hill, into a nice neighborhood that I like a lot, but where I feel like I do not belong. The area has nice lawns with lots of trees and bushes that look professionally landscaped. I wish I could make my yard and gardens look like this, and I awaken thinking that I'm never willing to devote the time and/or money that would be necessary.

After struggling, re-planning, and postponing several projects over the past few weeks, I finally began to see some progress. Yesterday, I got everything I needed to advance some of the projects that were stagnating. So, today, after I came back from the bank, where I did some necessary business, I got a short 4x4 bolted to the concrete retaining wall out back. (Attaching things permanently to concrete always seems to be far harder for me than it should be.) To this I will bolt an eight-foot 4x4 that will be mounted in a deck support and become the east pole for my second kiwi bed and eventually the basis off of which I will build the extended trellis for my hops bines. Satisfied that I have finally started on my projects again, I continued my progress by attacking the restoration of my old '72 Honda motorcycle; but here I bogged down. There are a lot of little things wrong with it, minor broken pieces that don't affect the primary operation, but which must be fixed nevertheless for operational or safety purposes. This project is turning into a major task, and since the bike is so old and I can't find any place to buy parts for it, even online. I'm going to have to manufacture by hand every single part I need, or kluge them together from standard available hardware. So, as a consequence of my partial successes, I'm harboring feelings of both accomplishment and frustration. The dream last night anticipates (or creates) this state of mind, but I'm not sure exactly how.

dreaming a crazy life

Crazy, but that's how it goes.
Millions of people living as foes.
Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"
Ozzy should have written either, "Millions of people living as posed," or " Millions of people living exposed." That's the two versions of that line I heard when I first heard the song, before I actually knew what he was singing, which with Ozzy is doubtful in any case.

I'm continually rewriting song lyrics to make them fit my own life. Sometimes, though, instead of rewriting the lyrics, I rewrite my life to fit them: I fantasize that the song is about my life, even that I have written it myself about my own life.

And my dreams serve the same function, when I write them out and then correspond my life to them--because if I dreamed them, then they must, at some level, be true; so I might as well adopt them as real-life episodes--because they are.

I'm in a large, slightly darkened room lined with tables, a kind of rental hall. [Cf., previous "wedding" dream] There are lots of people around, some of whom I am sitting at one of the tables with. Some of these guys are members of a band. One of them, Isaak, is a close friend of mine. He's wearing an expensive gold wristwatch that he's proud of and showing off. As he gets up to leave, he says to me that he hopes I show up tonight and sing a song or two with his band. (It's understood that they will be playing in this room later; apparently, it's daytime now and is only very dark because there are no windows and few lights in this place.) A few girls nearby who know me casually overhear this conversation and are visibly impressed at hearing that I can sing, and especially that I've been asked to by Isaak (who is a Snoop Dogg type). But they are as visibly disappointed when I tell Isaak that it's been so long since I've performed that my voice is "out of shape" and I don't think I can do it. Cut to:

Poketa Rd. at Third St.: I am walking along, heading home to 6023. I'm with a guy who is a friend of mine from a long time ago (within the dream, and maybe in real life too, although I can't quite identify him). We're renewing our old acquaintance. He has something important to tell me, which he tries to get to but never does because we're nearing the intersection with Verona Rd. and he never intended to walk on this far, but accompanied me only to tell me what he has to tell me, which he never managed to say, partly because other people on the street were interrupting us, not directly, but via "our" distraction as they passed on by. Instead of walking up the hill on Poketa, I walk on down to the corner of the low road. There I find a tray lying on the small dirt road over the old bridge at the lower end of the fire hall parking lot. The tray contains a dirty liquid. I remember having left this tray here a long time ago. It contains the liquid from a gold-plating solution. My intent is to extract some of the gold (in the form of a powder) from the solution. This is somehow related to the gold watch that Isaak was wearing. A guy I know comes along and asks me what I'm doing. [This may be the same guy I was walking with earlier, but I don't recognize him as such in the dream; I only understand that I know him somehow.] I explain to him what I'm doing so that he doesn't think I'm crazy. [I think, when I awaken, that maybe this is what he wanted to tell me, that people think I'm crazy because I'm always doing all these apparently crazy things that no one understands because I never feel that it's necessary to take the time to explain myself. For example, I think that neighbors may think that my garden renovations of recent years are crazy, because I can see in my mind the end result years from now, but they cannot. I think this same kind of thing may have affected my social relationships all my life: people don't understand where I'm coming from, how the logic of my immediate behavior relates to my long-term plans and goals and fits into an ultimate scheme that is invisible to them.] Cut to:

6023, as if I had walked up the low road and this is a continuous scene and not a cut. I'm walking up the front walk and see a lot of packages [cf., mail here] on the front lawn that have been delivered by UPS. My mother sticks her head out the door and tells me she needs me to do something for her. Inside the house there are more packages, one of which has been delivered to the wrong house. She wants me to deliver it to where it was supposed to go, an address on Poketa. I don't want to go back out and begin to look for excuses not to do it. I try to "rationalize" that the address on the package is not a "deliver to" address, but a "return" address, that this was a package that UPS picked up and was suppose to deliver elsewhere. She tries to understand what I'm saying, but cannot; and I soon realize that I have to be wrong because a "return to" address cannot be located in the center of the package, but must be on the corner.

I know I've written of this before, but I can't find it and I can't remember what I said: Most of the time in conversations in my dreams, and I hypothesize in everyone's, I don't say or hear actual words, but merely think thoughts, as if they are "pre-words" that contain the ideas of words as if they have been said. On the few occasions when I do actually say or hear words, they are strikingly potent and usually very odd in content and/or grammar, if I can remember them at all, which is extremely difficult and must be accomplished immediately upon awakening and written down, otherwise they are lost. Very few of the words in the dreams I report, even if they are quoted, are verbatim, but are rather interpretations of ideas. My dreams are like thoughts I have during the day, but before I formulate them well enough to put them into words. Occasionally, when I think of a past dream image/content during the day, I'm struck by its odd nature, how it seems to exist more as a single wordless "blurb" or "mass" rather than as a sequence of events. Dreams seem to be a sequential collection of these masses that cut between or morph into one another. But, awake, we tend to want to interpret them as we are conditioned to interpret our waking experiences, as a sequential series of causal or accidental events. Since dreams are so different in this respect, they seem strange to us, partly, I think, due to the discrepancy between their alogical structure and the more rational, waking one we try to impose on them as we try to remember them.

slave driver

We all need that ego boost we get from daydreams, but when we start relying on it, then our reality-parameters are getting a bit shaky.

I am living in a nightmare, from which from time to time I wake in sleep.
Ursula Leguin, The Lathe of Heaven
Victor Hugo wrote, "Daydream is to thought as nebula is to star." I disagree. Dreams are to thought as nebula is to star. Daydreams, for me at least, are precisely thought-full, well-developed, and more or less rational fantasies, or at least episodes of action and dialogue that become reality-grounded content for those fantasies. Dreams, on the other hand, are pre-thought entity-packages, nebulous bundles of content that defy truly accurate description because they are not so precise in their rationality, that in fact have no real rational nature at all, but only mimic it. Furthermore, daydreaming does not border on sleep, as Hugo claims. (Or perhaps he daydreamed differently than I do.) The only thing they have in common with sleep dreams is their creative nature. But daydreams, as imaginatively creative as they are, are to a great extent consciously controlled. Oh, sure, they utilize unconscious content, but in the same way that the waking mind does: we're all the time running around, awake, yet unwittingly revealing our unconscious psychology. And so it is with daydreams. As a matter of fact, being awake itself borders on dreaming as much as daydreaming does. So Hugo is not so much wrong as I thought, maybe, but just erroneously attributing more of a dream-sleep-like nature to daydreams than to "awake" behavior, because we dream when we're awake, but we just don't know it.

Most of my dreams seem so "foreign" to me that I have to wonder at their origin, whereas my waking perceptions seem so "normal"; although I know this is not really true, that normality is as strange as dreaming, that if we could perceive the way someone else does, we'd think it exceedingly strange, yet I feel that what I perceive is not strange at all. Nevertheless, I know from my therapy that I really am that strange (as is everyone, whether they know it or not). I keep asking myself the question, "Am I really all that strange inside?" and my answer is always, "Yeah. I guess so." Which is evidenced in dreams--unless dreams do come from somewhere else, after all. But that does nothing for the strangeness of my reality that only seems "normal" because I have gotten used to it (whereas you can't get used to dreams because they are forever changing their basic nature). In any case, I am still strange, no matter how much I may sometimes try to deny it by overly identifying with the far more limited ego-self I more rationally construct while I am awake.

Early this morning, I dream I'm in a foreign country, caught up in a war. I'm running across an empty lot between bombed out buildings as a sniper shoots at me. My friends are behind me, hidden, awaiting the results of my advance. I hear bullets with their mini-squeal whiz by me, and then one of them hits me in the upper arm, and as it spins me around, another hits me in the back. I know I am hurt, but I feel no pain. I manage to get to a large dining room table, turned on its side, where I had been heading, pissed that I didn't get there before I was hit. One of my friends yells out, asking if I'm all right. I shout that, yes, I am, referring to my arm and ignoring the bullet in my back, neither of which I feel. The sniper is on the fifth floor of the building skeleton in front of me. Although I can't see him, I'd marked his position by the gunfire, so I take a careful aim and squeeze three rounds at the windowless frame. He falls out of the opening and lands in a thud amid a small cloud of dust. My friends, one of whom is a woman, applaud me. One of the guys says, See, he's wounded and he still has a perfect aim. I'm afraid I'm dying as I begin to black out. Cut to:

Verona Rd. at Stanley Dr. I'm coming home from the war with a friend. Actually, it's the home of the guy I'm with that we're I'm coming to, which is somewhere off of upper Stanley, in back behind the line of houses that front the street (almost as if it's on the dead-end street that sits in behind the houses). We enter the house (which is in poor repair and doesn't seem to fit into the nice suburban atmosphere of the area), and we go up to a second floor apartment. His family doesn't expect him and is shocked and elated to see him. In a way, I am he, and am the only one who is returning home. I want to sneak off and be alone with this guy's wife, but his kids command my attention. Also in a way, this place is still in the foreign country we were fighting in, a flat in one of those half-bombed out buildings.

This whole "foreign war" attitude is so strange to me, yet so familiar. (I've had these kinds of dreams before.) It's almost like I'm someone else, like maybe I'm channeling someone else's experience and superimposing it onto an area (in this case, Stanley Dr.) that is perhaps similar in some ways to it. Or, maybe not and I'm just being brainwashed by all of the paranormal hype that dominates what we want to think of as our "advanced" society. I awaken wanting to "re-build" (i.e., remodel) the house in the dream, which I recognize as the desire to rebuild this guy's family, to re-establish his domestic relations that have been disrupted and nearly devastated by the war. If this is not a psi dream, but is merely symbols latched onto by my unconscious to reveal my own "miserable" life, then so be it. I don't think or feel that my life is miserable at all, but who am I to second-guess my unconscious mind, if this is what it's telling me? In any case, I want to "re-build" what has been/is being torn apart by "war," but I don't feel motivated to get up and get started. [Half an hour later, after I'm up, I get pissed at myself for having miscalculated the time and thought I'd had eight hours of sleep when I only had six.] I want to remain in bed and try to go back to sleep; or at least I want to daydream. I've been feeling this way a lot lately, not wanting to continue working on the projects that I'm making a whole lot of progress on, but rather going off into a fantasy-driven bout of ennui.

Accomplishment can begin to get a bit boring, almost like working at a steady job--almost, but not quite: I can set my own hours, although a part of what I mean here is that I've been (more or less) keeping and working fairly regular hours, with the help of sleep aids, in order to be up and working when it's light outside (which is part of the "problem" I'm trying to describe here, my "natural" body rhythm having been interrupted in favor of a diurnal one); although I haven't done this recently, I can take as many days off as I wish, because my boss (me) is a great guy; the only standards that I work to are my own (which are probably even higher than most employers' would be; well, no, I doubt that, now that I think of it); I can, and do, take as many breaks during the workday that I want; and there are many other reasons besides that my "work" is not as demanding as if I worked at a job.

The point I'm trying to make is I want to abandon all of my goals and projects for a while and just fuck off; I want to revert to my "I don't care" attitude, so that it doesn't matter what I do, whether I do something or nothing at all--because it doesn't; I want to wallow my life away, only reading and learning and absorbing experience. Why should I strive to establish a garden showplace and create a living art--or any kind of art?

It's the commitment, not the actual work, that I rankle at, when the work "demands" to be done, not in my own time, but according to when it "must" be done, in its proper season, when the plants require it, whatever it is they might require. It is almost like working at a job; but I can't allow myself not to do it, not while everything is going relatively so well and things are falling into place, albeit with some difficulty as I struggle to realize my plans and goals. But that's the whole idea, isn't it, to struggle, because if everything went so smoothly that it wasn't a challenge, then why do it in the first place, and how much real satisfaction could be derived from the activity?

For example, if I had enough money that I felt I could afford to hire anyone I wanted to do the work, and I meanwhile sat around drinking mint juleps in the afternoon shade, what would I have accomplished? Sure, I'd have completed projects that I could enjoy, but that enjoyment would be greatly diminished by the knowledge that I hadn't done the work myself. The reward is not so much the finished results that are achieved as it is the fact that I achieved them. I had a vision, I elaborately planned out step-by-step how I might go about accomplishing it, and I did it. If I don't actually do the work myself, then I am nothing more than an American who participates in the great social experiment of affluent consumption, perhaps a worthy meta-goal in terms of the species overall (or perhaps not), but of little satisfaction to someone like I am, who derives his identity from doing as much for himself as he can and separates himself out from the crowd by pretending to be independent.

This is the lie, of course: If I did everything myself, I wouldn't be going to Home Depot twice a week to buy equipment and supplies. But you get the idea: I'm an artist: I manipulate my environment to try to make it correspond to visions I have, which are partly conjured up in dreams and partly rationally constructed and reflected in them. As usual, this is all about dreams. I dream myself up and then, waking, set about to objectify those dreams as my reality, which feeds back to my dreams to provide them further content. And in between the waking and the dream, I daydream, which I keep to a minimum when I am being productive, because it interferes with accomplishment (or vice versa).

Right now I'm fighting off the desire to engage in an extensive bout of daydreaming. It's fortunate that the particular goals I have, which were staged and initiated months and months ago, have developed to a point where, if they are not attended to and followed up on, will atrophy and die or result in some other kind of loss.

For example: every year I have to protect my gardens against some new disease or pest, and this year, in addition to the usual culprits, a new foe emerges, the grackles that are eating the strawberries (time to get the nets out and set the little traps against the chipmunks and the big ones against a rabbit that has penetrated the fence line at a place I've yet to find); the hardy kiwi cuttings that I went to a great deal of trouble to root, nursing them day after day until some of them began to grow, will die if I do not get them into the ground soon so that they can develop enough of a root system to enable them to survive the winter freeze; or the motorcycle I am rebuilding will be a lot of wasted time and money if I do not get it running soon, but leave it to sit another year in my garage when I will have to start all over again, or not; or if I do not get the raspberries and currants layered soon, I will have missed the opportunity to generate new plants and will have to wait another year to further expand my gardens; or the roof will continue to deteriorate if I do not get up there and patch the leaks; and there are a number of other less significant projects that await my attention.

These projects nag me to complete them, like a job would do if I had to go to it every day. They keep me from following my own lead into other areas where I would rather be. This is the bane of being your own boss: you have no one else to blame for being your slave driver. I always feel like I'm all alone in my desire to run my own life and to remain productive (not really; I said I always feel that way); but I guess that's not true since many other people are their own bosses--but my feeling is that I have to try so hard while others who are their own boss make it seem so easy.

But I guess that's not true either; in fact, it's probably exactly the other way around, because I know from what people have said to me that I have adopted the pose that I make it seem so easy, when I feel that it is not. My brother feels this way too, and I see my own situation in him when he pretends that his business is doing so well when it's not. He maintains this as a public pose, but feels, I discern, that he must 'slave drive' himself in order to survive and prosper; and yet, I understand how he wastes a whole lot of time, hardly working at all so much as just puttering around in his garage, probably while fantasizing--just like me. So I conclude that he and I have been cast in the same mold--in this regard, and in a number of other ways too; but the metaphor doesn't really fit because in a lot of ways we are so very different:

an approach to life

I'm thinking about my brother now because he called last night and asked if I wanted to go to a reception and dinner for our aunt and uncle tomorrow night. I said, no, not really. He said he thought that'd be the case, but he called just to make sure. He said that every once in a while I surprise them with things like this and say, "Oh, okay." I said, "Yeah. Every once in a while my psychology does a back flip."

The phone call causes me to think about "social performance" and its relationship to personality type: performers are extroverts, generally. There are exceptions, of course; but generally, in order to perform for people, its necessary to direct your attention objectively toward how others are perceiving you, and introverts are too subjective in their concern for how others see them and for how they see themselves and their own reactions.

Then, later, I take to heart advice that Chris Matthews, on his weekly tv program, gives to graduating college seniors:

  1. Go where they're doing what you want to do.
  2. If you want something, ask for it, again and again, if necessary.
This approach, as applicable to life in general as to job hunting, requires a certain degree of extroversion. But what are we introverts supposed to do? The world opens up to those who put themselves out there and go after what they want; but it can be stingy toward those who, for whatever reason, don't. Not fair, I want to think.

Of course, introversion has its positive side too. During tough times, they are probably better prepared to weather the storms, since they are so practiced at hunkering down. It's true that extroverts probably have thicker skin, perhaps not so developed as biologically provided; but introverts make up for their thinner skins with their relatively higher level of sensitivity (extroverts tend to be repressors while introverts tend to be sensitizers); and they learn to hide out, even in plain sight, to defend themselves. If I had to choose between the two, I might actually choose to remain the way I am, despite my complaints re the psychology I've been dealt.

But wouldn't it be better to be able to choose in any given moment your (extroverted or introverted) response to a social situation? This is what therapy is for: practice both modes of existence, so that when the time comes, you (I) may have a wider range of response. (Or am I just being naive again, and we leopards never really ever change our spots?)

friends and enemies

Suddenly (that is, unexpectedly, which always seems so sudden to me, even though it may not be) a change occurs: It's a beach day. I don't live anywhere near the beach, but it doesn't matter because this is the attitude, not a major change in the weather (unless we're considering the internal weather, which I am). This is the feeling that the day has, that of being at the beach.

[Yes, days have feelings too, just like people do. We, being more advanced living beings, carry ours forward day to day (even the conventions we use to explain them evidence the existence of the life of days), while days die each evening and renew themselves each night, which, like days, I also seem to do.]

This is the attitude I've finally gotten to, the "goal" of my annual trip around the sun, the time I wait for all year long every single year, the "end" that never ends; this is the summer, the lazy, hazy attitude days, except that it's not hazy now, today is crystal clear in both atmosphere and mind. The ridgeline is fully green again, and white clouds with gray shadows drift over it against the watercolor sky like departing friends.

I remember my past friends, how many of them betrayed me when it became convenient for them, how they placed their various social and business positions far ahead of our supposed friendships, which I thought were solid, but which probably were superficial--to them anyway; but not to me.

But I got so fed up with the fact that the only way I could protect myself from their unwarranted "attacks" was to shift the "blame" to someone else by intimating, through the grapevine mostly, that they were the ones who were doing what I was supposed to have been doing. They were, but what was being done was not so wrong and I felt bad that they had to take the fall just so that I could avoid it. It's an effective tactic, changing the subject. I became like my attackers for a while, like you tend to do when your "enemies" attack you. But if it someone was going to take the blame, I thought, it wasn't going to be me. I'd done enough of that in my life and learned my lesson; but did I? Eventually, I did another turn-around and simply decided that I wouldn't protect myself in that way any more. And so they finally got me, because, just as the best defense is a good offense, the worst is no offense at all.

We are our pasts, which we reconstruct daily, awakening out of dreams of people we never met and places we've never been, incorporating them into a past we never had until we dreamed it up. Many of the people and places may be familiar, even more or less correct; yet even when we know them and have been there, it's always different enough to be somehow new as they have been more or less changed to fit our current unconscious needs. Our pasts are ever-changing, and not only in our dreams; we do this is waking life too, and not only in daydream fantasies, but when we live up to legends of what we were that were never really true, except that we allowed others to define us earlier on--or we defined ourselves, erroneously or intentionally, whether fully conscious or not. The past is most often ill remembered; our memories, like history in general, serve a purpose divorced from reality, which we create to suit ourselves.

I'm in Manhattan, somewhere around 60th and Park or Madison. Matthew McConaughey (I watched A Time to Kill before I fell asleep) and I are walking west cross-town. We turn and head south around Sixth. (It's not really Sixth, but it's in that location, as if this is some other city, sort of like the recurrent Pittsburgh dreams, which are not really in Pittsburgh in this same way.) We're heading downtown for some important reason, but Matthew becomes distracted by a combo deli/video arcade parlor and goes in, so I leave him and head downtown by myself. I walk about twenty blocks, then...cut to:

Far downtown, around sixth street: I'm walking cross-town again, toward the river, on one of those streets that are not parallel to the rest. But it's not a thru-street, and I have to turn south again for about half a block. Then I come to a wide avenue, like Liberty in Pittsburgh, which runs at an angle to the streets and avenues, like Broadway. I see Rita across it and I hurry over to her, not intending to stay with her, but just to say hello and walk with her a bit. But as we walk along, heading north again (or east in Pgh. on Liberty Ave.), I'm so happy to be with her that we decide we should stay together and form a rock band. We see Drew Barrymore across the wide avenue. She shouts out to us and crosses over to be with us. We tell her about our plans and she wants to be a part of them. We decide to become a retro-rock trio, like we were friends when we were kids and grew up as a fledgling rock band and have reconstructed our past. I feel particularly fond of Rita in an indescribable way, as if our association has significance beyond what it is or was. We're like Mick and Keith, grown older and with a significant teenage past that we never had in reality. Cut to:

6023: I'm inside the house, which is empty: no furnishings at all. I walk into my old room at the back of the first floor. Through the closed window I hear voices outside in the back yard, which I recognize as my neighbors [recurrent]. In the hallway on the way back out, I see my old dog--not the one I had when I lived here, but the last one I had at my current home. He's busy tearing open two packages of large soft pretzels. I say, "Hey, what are you doing?" thinking he should not be eating those. But then I realize that he's hungry and probably hasn't been fed in a long time, so I think, What the hell? Let him eat them. I go into the dining room and see Terri and her brother Billy through the window onto the back porch, facing each other, as if they're arguing; but they're not, but only talking seriously. I walk up to the window and raise my hand to the glass in a gesture of greeting. As Terri keeps talking to Bill, she raised her hand to the other side of the glass and meets mine, which makes me feel good. It's a Kodak moment. Both of their faces are a pasty, pale, almost sickly white, with blemishes covered with pale make-up. I think, Omigod, they've become "white goths," by which I mean some kind of zombies, or zombie wannabes. I go to the back door, where Terri joins me. Without any kind of introductory comments, but as if they had preceded, I say, "Oh, you're the one who gave the dog the pretzels; this is in response to her having indicated first that she had. She repeats that, yes, she's been leaving things for him to eat. We go into the basement (I go down there first, alone, and then she joins me shortly), where I discover a lot of things left behind when we moved, junk then, but now transformed into memorabilia, even a lot of stuff we threw away, old bicycles, trinkets, etc. I puzzle over why this stuff would be here since other people had moved into the house and years had passed, but Terri tells to me that it's okay, that I don't have to worry about how to explain it. It just is. We go out to the front of the house. Apparently, I explain to her about the rock band we're forming, and she wants to be a part of it too, so she and Rita, and to a certain extent Drew, merge into one person and she becomes the female interest in the band. We find an old motorcycle that, apparently, I used to own, not any bike I had ever really owned, but older, with controls I am unfamiliar with, except that I know how they work. Terri remembers the bike and wants to ride it. I tell her to be careful. It's a big bike, powerful, and awkward to handle. She rides it up the street and back down over the hilly lawns on the street's south side, and she tumbles it down the hillside into Golightly's driveway. I rush to her to make sure she's all right. She is. I pick up the bike and get on it, and she climbs on behind. We drive down the low road. I have to be extra careful because the bike is a bit twisted from being dumped and doesn't ride too straight. I pull into the fire hall parking lot. Apparently, there's going to be a bike rally here, which we will attend. We're among the first to arrive. Others start arriving with newer bikes. We're an anachronism, but I think that, because we are a lot older, we're better. I think about the band we're forming and realize that we're not the ones who will perform. We're too old. This is the first time that I realize that Terri is no longer young but is an older woman, and by implication I am older too. The band, I discover, is not a real thing we are going to do, but is a movie that Drew is going to make that will celebrate our lives and past achievements. Drew will play the Rita/Terri character. I don't know who's going to play me. Maybe Matthew McConaughey.

With every dream I remember and try to analyze, I expand my past to include more and more of what I know I am, and what I do not remember, both in the moment, as reality and dreams pass into unconsciousness (this is a big part of the reason I write them down, so that I do not so easily forget them), and of the past, which I may have forgotten about or which I never consciously attended to, because large parts our pasts are never consciously realized, until, maybe, many years later, we "remember" and reconstruct them in our dreams, which reinterpret experience to serve our current lives. In this way, we "remember" both truth and fiction, like the things we pretended to be, the roles we acted out, the lies we told ourselves. Some of this is the literal truth, even if creatively disguised; some of it is metaphor, symbolic truth such as conditioned feelings that have been with us since we first experienced them; and some of it is creative fiction. It's this latter material that expands our experience beyond the simple "recall" of actual material, however disguised, which also expands our experience by allowing us to see ourselves in new and creative ways. We create new pasts (and therefore presents) to add to our repertoire of experience, learning lessons we never learned in "real" life because we didn't pay close enough attention. Dreams, by processing information, coordinating present and past, attempt to teach us new things, to see events in different ways, to learn from our "experience." The problem is that we tend not to pay any more attention to dreams than to "actual" experience, less even. Yet dreams are meta-experience and are thus even more valuable. Yet, still, this does not diminish the importance of "real" experience, however far removed from it we may be. The real world (the one "out there") can be caustic, and its negativity seeps in, no matter how hard we may try to inhibit its influence:

freedom is free

The infinite possibility, the unlimited and unqualified wholeness of being of the uncommitted, the nonacting, the uncarved: the being who, being nothing but himself, is everything.
Ursula LeQuin, The Lathe of Heaven
My "rights" may well be in jeopardy with the recent antics of the neo-con Nazi regime; but, ultimately, it hardly matters: My rights derive, not from a constitution and civil and criminal law, but from my own inherent sense of morality, and they can only be violated if I enable or allow the actions of those who would violate them; i.e., only I can cause myself to fail to act properly, and I cannot be censured if I act to my own purpose that is deemed inappropriate, either in deed or theory, if I keep that deed or theory hidden. In short, my rights, at any given time, are what I determine them, via my experience, to be. And if you disagree, then you better be both discernable enough and powerful enough to do something about it; or else you better leave me alone.

It is only when I am so non-judicious as I act out in non- or quasi-legal ways (thinking aloud or writing is a less active form of acting out; it is "theorizing" done publicly) that my rights are threatened. [It is true that I have a right to speak out, but that right is modified more or less in all societies by its effect on others, such as when I might incite to riot. I cannot shout fire in a public theater, no matter how much I may feel that it is my right to do so. This is not a matter of personal rights, but common morality.]

I have always felt that whatever I did by myself and in private was my own business and that the "law" was only applicable to me if my act was public; therefore, I became a thoroughly private person. [Or, as an already thoroughly private person, I developed this philosophy of personal rights; it doesn't matter which, either is an acceptable explanation.] I don't need a government to guarantee my basic human rights; those rights are guaranteed to me by my humanity, and I protect them with my fear and basic distrust of society. If I lived in a far more repressive society, such as in Cuba or Saudi Arabia, I would still feel free, within my own mind, and in private I would maintain my right to do what I please. Repressive governments are hard-pressed to further repress me, because I already feel so well-repressed to begin with by society. The actual repressing nature of that society is hardly so important.

With this logic, being a citizen holds no real importance for me. I will claim it whenever it benefits me to do so, but I feel no real patriotic loyalty or obligation. My own individual human rights trump all national concerns. I might (but I doubt it) give myself over to loyalty to an all-inclusive world government that I deem to be fair and aboveboard, one that guarantees the human rights of all peoples, equally; but I will never give myself over to a country like ours that insists on preserving its existence at the expense of other peoples.

Rights, it is said [by Alan Dershowitz,1 among others], are derived, not from Natural Law (as Jefferson and his fellow deists maintained), Natural Law being a convenient fiction; and they are not derived (God forbid) from a Personal Creator such as the one written of in the Bible; rather, rights are derived from our experience of past wrongs when we create constitutions, amendments, charters, and/or laws that attempt to correct them. It's an ongoing process, one in which I involve myself on a personal level, irrespective of any supposed national or religious morality and the documents and laws designed to perpetuate it. I know when I am right, and when that inherent sense occasionally fails me, I soon enough realize it and act to modify my behavior. And as for any errant thought I might harbor, well, get out of my head, Big Brother. I've got far too many institutions in there already.

Today, Big Ben Roethlisberger, great quarterback hero-type of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, crashed his bike into a car on Second Ave. at the Tenth Street Bridge while riding without a helmet, which he'd earlier claimed was his right to do since the Pennsylvania legislature changed the helmet law last year to allow it. Earlier, on several occasions, Joe Theisman, Terry Bradshaw, and others went public with remarks of concern at and censure of his foolishness. Now, he's in a hospital after a seven-hour operation on his face and head. So, wise old man Bradshaw, who received a bit of minor vilification from some of the press and a lot of the (younger) local citizens for his stance against Big Ben, our new great conquering hero, who wasn't happy with his prototype's remarks re his traveling sans helmet, is vindicated; and Roethlisberger is exposed for the rebellious and (not so) hard-headed youngster that he is.

However, I do not advocate--as some are now doing, among them local former talk show host, minor celebrity, and outspoken motorcycle enthusiast John Cigna--changing the law back to requiring helmets on bikers. When, I ask, did it become the government's role to protect us from our own stupidity? If it is the government's concern that we be protected from others' stupidity, well, okay. That's legitimate. But when only we ourselves are in jeopardy, when our actions threaten only ourselves, let us be. When government acts to insert itself between me and myself, it crosses the line; furthermore, it violates the Laws of Nature (as distinct from Natural Law, the former being established science, the latter fiction). If a person acts stupidly, he (or she) may die as a result, thereby disabling his (or her) ability to (further) procreate, which has the generalized tendency of reducing his (or her) "stupidity genes" in the gene pool. Survival of the fittest.

[Also, it is not a vaild argument that helmet laws should exist so that motorists' insurance costs are kept relatively lower. That is not an issue of personal freedom, it's one of economics. When you choose to drive, you choose to assume the financial cost of doing so, and you assume the risks inherent in your actions, one of which is that you may hit someone on a motorcycle (usually because you're an inattentive asshole who is probably talking on a cellphone). Generally, motorcyclists don't hurt themselves and rip their heads open by riding along a lonely highway and dumping their bikes when no other motorist is around. And even if they did, that wouldn't raise automobile drivers' insurance rates. Generally, when a biker gets hit, it is because a car driver didn't see him and either ran into him or pulled out in front of him (or her). Drivers: your insurance rates are in your own hands, collectively. Pay fucking attention to what you're doing.]

But despite my desire to remain free of helmet laws, I will always wear a helmet. I have, still, in my basement a helmet with its right side nearly ripped away by a somewhat minor motorcycle accident. What happened to that helmet might have happened to my head. I keep it to remind me not to be stupid. Had there been no helmet law when I was riding, I might not have been wearing it. I was that stupid when I was a kid. The government saved me from myself. If I had procreated, I would have perpetuated that stupidity. We get smarter individually as we age, it's true; but we get smarter as a species by weeding out stupidity, as early on as possible. I don't propose that we weed it out eugenically. That would be wrong. But we can fail to act to protect the stupid among us.

Failure to act is often the intelligent thing to do. And I don't see what the controversy is, because our government does it all the time. And often rightly so. Yet laws have been passed that make it illegal for citizens to fail to act when they witness a crime, and people have been prosecuted under those laws. This is wrong. Here's a perfect example of the government acting to deprive citizens of their right to be smart, when their sense of danger dictates to them not to get involved, or when their intelligence tells them not to report the incident or else their neighbors will seek them out and exact retribution. So, not only does the government inhibit the weeding out of stupidity via survival of the fittest, it also aids and abets the weeding out of intelligence. But then, who didn't already know that?

I have a right not to be interfered with when my intelligence (or my supposed "disability") tells me to withdraw and act in private. I protect this right by being as private a person as I can be. When the government attempts to mediate this right, it only serves to drive me farther inside myself. It's a matter of self-preservation. An extremely severe government (or society; I'm really talking about the more general society here) could drive me into catatonia. Yet I could, still, now, if I so chose, procreate. I'm still a sexually viable person. You sociable people have not rendered me impotent yet.

What's important to remember, and what we are so put-upon to forget, is that freedom is free; it is not earned by the blood of patriots. If what you think is freedom must be paid for, then somewhere along the line, probably back in your youth during your indoctrination, you got siderailed. Freedom is free; that's the whole point. It's inherent in the definition. So shut up about it already, all you overly patriotic assholes, who by your behavior demonstrate that you need to prove your allegiance to your nation because it resides so shakily within your hearts. When you put such a high price on freedom, demanding that it cost so many lives, you price it out of the reach of the majority (which is, I know, what you intend to do, you elitist bastards, because you don't really believe that the masses should be free; and as for you patriotic sheep: wake up! They don't really have your interests in mind). Don't confuse the relative freedom of capitalism, which people buy, with true personal freedom that is available by simply opening your mind to it. And don't confuse true freedom with actions you may (want to) take. Active freedom may have a cost. Look what Big Ben has had to pay. Better, I think, to have a free mind, because that is what true freedom is; and that is the hardest freedom to achieve. [Or maybe it's the second hardest]:


Early to bed and early to rise
Makes a man or woman miss out on the night life.
Morphine, "Early To Bed"
"What time did you go to bed," she asks, after calling me at ten in the morning and discovering she woke me.

"I don't know. About two."

"Two! What do you do until two in the morning?"

"Read, mostly," I say, because I don't want to tell her I watch the late night talk shows.

"You're missing the best part of the day."

"Yeah, but when you get up early, you're missing the best part of the night."

"The early bird catches the worm."

I try to remember that old quote I used to use. This is the way it is, almost always, when I talk to someone on the phone, and in person too, as a matter of fact: ideas hang right on the tip of my brain that I never remember soon enough to fit into the conversation at the appropriate time and, if I then try to apply them later, they never quite fit and create awkward moments. Asperger's.

The early bird may get the worm, but the early worm gets got.
It isn't really a quote. I wrote that. I'm quoting myself.

This, I think, is the essence of life: defining which you are, the bird or the worm. Some people define themselves; others let others do it. But it's not an either/or matter; we each vary back and forth along a spectrum, depending on our environmental and social situation and our particular biorhythm and body chemistry.

Later birds seem to manage quite well at getting worms too.
The author of that quote wasn't thinking too thoroughly.
Or else his agenda precluded the idea of getting up late.
I remember my best dreams when I sleep long and get up late.

I'm in a movie theater, sitting one seat from the aisle. After a few minutes, near the beginning of the film, a woman sits down next to me. At first, I ignore her, intent upon watching the film. But soon enough I become interested in her. I want to explain all of the things I want to explain to every woman I meet whom I am interested in, to warn them ahead of time, to assure us both that we are who we are, so that we don't make any mistakes we will later regret. I think to explain to her the difficulties she will have by being in a relationship with me, but I realize that it's not necessary, not that she already understands, but that it isn't important to her. In other words, she's the perfect woman for me. I feel like it has all been said already, and perfectly, even though not a word had been exchanged between us. Without any words at all, we become a couple, as if this is the perfect spontaneous relationship situation that doesn't need to be negotiated in any way. [I keep wanting to ignore the fact that the purpose for establishing relationships in the first place is to learn who we are and how to interact more intimately and/or appropriately with one another, that you can't guarantee relational stability, that life is experience and little more.] We start to make out and soon we're doing everything but intercourse--because that wouldn't be appropriate, we know, in a public theater [as if what we are doing--everything else--is]. When the movie ends, we still haven't said a word to each other, and we have maintained the "perfect" union, having maintained all of that mystery of mutual attraction, without experiencing the difficulties of any miscommunications that are typical in developing relationships. Of course, it's only been two hours at the most that we've been together, but the story arc of the movie has been like a life we've lived together. As we walk out of the theater, looking out across the parking lot, she says, "Oh, no!" I ask her what's wrong. These are the first words we've spoken. She says, "My girlfriend's coming. I can't let her see me with you." [By "girlfriend," she means her lover.] She steps aside and walks along a distance away from me. Her girlfriend is shorter than she is and a bit heavier, though not fat; she's a stocky, dark blond with a lower middle-class appearance, whereas the first girl is slender, dark-haired, and looks more "sophisticated" and well-bred. The girlfriend walks up to me and turns and walks along with me, though not having seen her girlfriend. She, also, doesn't say a word. We develop the same relationship I had with the other girl; that is, we instantly experience a mutual rapport. The first girl edges her way over toward us, wanting to be with us, but afraid of what the reaction of her girlfriend will be. Soon she's walking along beside me. They each take an arm and we walk along, side by side by side.

This is my ideal [not two women, because that has never worked for me, they'd have to be two perfect women, and I've never even found one; and, anyway, although I'd enjoy the domestic camaraderie of two "perfect" women (i.e., two women who wouldn't clash, get jealous, envious, etc.), unlike most men who at least claim that it's what they want, I wouldn't enjoy two women at the same time sexually, because it's tough enough trying to satisfy one--unless, of course, they'd satisfied each other and I...well...never mind]: life flowing along smoothly, communication (i.e., communion) occurring naturally and without the need for words, quiet domestic bliss; that must be heaven, 'cause it sure doesn't exist here on Earth.

across the universe

The closest I get to heaven [I discount meditation here because, although that is a kind of heaven for me here on Earth, it's not at all the kind of thing conventional people think of when they imagine heaven, and here I'm considering that conventional imagery] is when I'm outside in my gardens.

After I expanded into my house and made it truly mine [whereas before my divorce it was "ours" and I felt like I had to compromise my existence within it (both the house and the marriage); and I don't do compromise very well], I next began to expand out into my gardens. Whereas earlier I had looked at the yards as just so much extra space that had to be mowed and trimmed (usually when I least wanted to, when it was too hot to be outside working), and despite many feeble attempts [each of which failed because I'd never previously had the time to devote myself fully to them and always ended up cutting everything down and maximizing the area that could be reached with the lawnmower, thus simplifying maintenance to the maximum extent] to propagate plants and transform my yards into lush food-producing gardens, next I began to expand myself into the yards. This happened very gradually over time; but it gained critical mass last year when I spent far more than I should have on plants and tools to gear up to transform the outside of my house into an esoteric showplace, where all of the plants would yield edible products.

And, of course, as I do with every project I undertake, I obsessively planned it all out beforehand, even to the daily care of the plants, when and how to water, cultivate, propagate, dig new beds, organize areas, mantain equipment, etc. And, of course, once the plan was solidly in place and operating, I began almost immediately to ignore it.

[While trying to get done a lot of minor, "less important" things that I've been wanting to get done for a long time, but never was quite able to find the time, I uncovered a fallacy I've been working with:

Tasks, plans, and goals, are not so much more or less "important" than each other as they are simply more or less "time critical"; but I've been thinking of them in terms of "importance."

Consequently, I "schedule" time critical tasks first, then tasks that will shortly become time critical, then longer term time critical tasks, until here is no time left for things I really want to do.

It's the old want v. need conflict; and I realize that it creates "time management system" problems, which label reflects the nature of the problem: it should be called, maybe, life management.

All of these little things I want to do, but never get around to, are as important, and maybe in some cases more important than all of the many things that I must do, or else. Consequences abound.

I've been thinking that paying bills on time, for example, is more important than starting a new painting. Not true. It's just more time critical. True importance, probably, is what I want to do.

And this determination is also time critical, in that, when I feel like doing something, it's because my psychology, body chemistry, biorhythms, or whatever are tuning into a moment that will pass.

"Strike while the iron is hot," they say. Do what you want to do, because tomorrow you may not feel like doing it. And as for all the stuff that needs to be done? It'll gets done, because it must.]

The purpose of my gardens is not to have them to produce food (that's a secondary benefit) or to make the place look "good" or like it reflects my inner self (more of an accidental outcome, a consequence rather than a purpose). The real purpose is to have a place to sit and work and meditate, secluded among lush greenery from prying eyes--kind of like expanding my inner self out into the "real" world in way that yet insures its continued privacy; or expanding the bubble of my private world (which itself is infinite) beyond its apparent limits so that it may map itself onto the "real" world in the same way that the "real" world maps itself onto my private one--so that I may achieve a kind of limited parity. [If I had unlimited resources, I might try to do this around the entirety of the Earth, or across the universe even.]

So, sitting outside on my back porch, surrounded and contained by greenery, I carry on my mental reverie: First up is the consideration of how I can determine the successful outcome of projects via "positive thinking" by "influencing" the "cosmos" to act to my benefit, instead of thwarting my plans, without having to exert myself physically, without the necessity of altering my environment myself. (It's okay if someone else does it--to my specifications, of course; although this would have to be in accordance with their own wishes and motivation so that I was not being a manipulative bastard or anything, and all according to my criterion, stated earlier, that I derive far less benefit from anything I didn't do myself. But, what I'm considering here is how I might do this myself, but mentally rather than physically. It's an idle fantasy. Just forget I mentioned it.) [It may be becoming clear here how I am wanting to be god-like.]

Next up is a bit more cosmic: At the speed of light, mass increases toward infinity and length (volume) decrease toward zero. Since a photon travels at the speed of light, its mass must be infinite. Therefore, every single photon is identical with the entirety of the universe, which is not actually expansive, but has no volume at all; or, to put it another way, there is only one photon and it contains all known mass and occupies no spacetime. Each (from our limited POV) photon is the doorway to infinity, and when we (believe that we) observe many photons, we are caught up in the illusion of the universe. [This is not New Age or Old Zen gobbledygook; this is science.] We believe ("scientifically") that a photon has no mass because we observe it from a finite point of view. Observed from the photon's point of view (i.e., from infinity), we (would) see only our own self (which is what we do in any case, although we are caught up in the illusion of multiplicity). There is only one photon. God is (the) light, and science is Its revelator. So, how do I achieve that insight into the POV of a photon. If I could do that exactly, the universe would be mine. (Actually, it would literally be me.)

[Flies are arrogant little pests that bug me incessantly as if they believe themselves to be invulnerable and are going to live forever--until I kill them.]

I declare my independence from all things that irritate me:

freedom for sale

I want to rewrite the Declaration of Independence for the postmodern modern world. I want to send letters to all heads of state demanding that they get together and it together, citing: the kidnapping children for prostitution, white slavery, worldwide poverty, genocide, global warming, etc. "You're not doing the job the GOOD people of the world want you to do; in fact, you're doing the job that the BAD people want. Stop it! Now! At best, you are incompetent, and this is unacceptable. If you can't do what needs to be done, step aside. We're tired of your petty squabbling and political chest thumping, demonstrating that you're no different, really, than a deep forest gorilla. And, especially, we're tired of you killing people in the name of God and for the supposed betterment of your countries and the world. Turn away from war and attend to the real problems we have as a species, or face our eternal condemnation. If you feel like this condemnation means nothing to you, this should be all the evidence you need that you are one of the BAD guys. So get rid of the denial and reassess your life, before it's too late." And, yes, Georgie Boy, this means you too, first and foremost. And you too, Cheney; you're an evil son of a bitch.

Are Bush and his henchmen aware of how accurately their political machinations and methodologies have been described (predicted) in the novel 1984? It's almost as if they've been using the book as a training manual. Can they be in such a state of denial that they fail to recognize they're true character? Sometimes I think they do in fact know and have chosen to remain this way anyway, like it's some kind of elitist badge of honor to be running a world organization dedicated to the suppression of the masses, like they believe that the elite in the novel are not the bad guys, but the highest ideal of social progress.

"It would show up in hundreds of ways. Terrorists raids, political prisoners, extermination camps. We'd hear about political recantings, treason, disloyalty...all the basic props of a dictatorship."

"Don't confuse a totalitarian society with a dictatorship," Kellman said dryly. "A totalitarian state reaches into every sphere of its citizens' lives, forms their opinions on every subject. The government can be a dictatorship, or a parliament, or an elected president, or a council of priests."

"The legal government," Dorser commented, "Is set up in the usual archaic fashion. Two-part system, one a little more conservative than the other--no fundamental difference of course. But both elect candidates at open primaries, ballots circulated to all registered voters." A spasm of amusement touched him. "This is a model democracy. I read the textbooks. Nothing but idealistic slogans: freedom of speech, assembly, religion--the works. Same old grammar school stuff."

"Torture chambers and extermination camps were needed only when persuasion failed. And persuasion was working perfectly. A police state, ruled by terror, came about when the totalitarian apparatus began to break down. The earlier totalitarian societies had been incomplete; the authorities hadn't really gotten into every sphere of life. But techniques of communication had improved."

Philip K. Dick, "The Mold of Yancy"
The world is becoming an unreal place when viewed from behind the glassine filter of my vision, when my eyes glaze over and I interpret my environment only within the limits of my own self. What does this mean? I only have the answer when I am behind the filter; when I am not, the insight fades away and I am left with only facts.

Fact: Government officials in The United States routinely conducts studies at taxpayer expense to inform administrations, congresses, and bureaucrats of the most efficient ways to present material to the public so as to convince citizens to adopt a particular policy or ideology; additional studies are funded by both the Republican and the Democratic parties.

Fact: "Area targets" are designated when insurgents infiltrate groups of citizens for the purpose of hiding among them. This is decidedly not "collateral damage," because it is known ahead of time that civilians will be killed. And it doesn't only apply in foreign countries: although domestic incidents are still limited to non-violent attacks, the nature of the "solutions" are that much more sinister for being so indirect, causing death and destruction via poverty, failure to act efficiently, general social disregard, etc.

Fact: The Bush administration fears mass uprisings and has highly evolved plans and mechanisms to deal with them should they occur. Among other solutions, containment and extermination camps have been set up all across the U.S., even prior to this administration.

Fact: Many of our prisoners are political. And I'm not just talking about Guantanamo here. It's far more pervasive and sinister than that.

Fact: In the U.S., one out of eighty adult males is in prison. One in eighty! And we're supposed to be the greatest country in the world. What does it say about a species that it has to imprison such a large percentage of its population? Of course, if they are dangerous criminals, then we have no choice. But are they, most of them? What proportion of them is imprisoned for victimless crimes? I'll bet it's high. Most likely, a large proportion of the prison population represents, not people dangerous per se, but dangerous to the elevated status of certain groups of citizens who fear the consequences of allowing sub-cultures of people who commit certain kinds of victimless crimes to flourish because their practices might spread and awaken the society at large to the chicanery of the controlling elite. When a large percentage of the population (and it doesn't have to be a great number; in this sense, large might mean one percent) is outlawed, this is a pointer to significant internal strife. As the prison population grows, our validity as a country declines. Law and order proponents who seek to solve our problems by increasing the number of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations sow the seeds of their own or a free country's demise and undermine their position of power or the state structure. People who are put down eventually rise up again.

In more general terms, through law and via the predominant culture, the U.S. doesn't care for its people, far less so than other countries do, and very seldom more so. [Care here has a double meaning: 1) as in healthcare; 2) as in concern]. The only people who are actually cared for in the fullest sense of the term are those who have managed their lives in such a way as to be able to provide care for themselves; in a real sense, they are cared for only by their own kind, which happens to be the group that manages the "caring" system and thus the fictive "attitudes" they attribute to the country, such as "we" have a great healthcare system, among the best in the world, which is, at best, spin. They manage their own self-care via money (capitalism): If you have money, you can afford insurance; or you have a good job that provides healthcare, etc. because you were able to get a good education because you, or more likely your family, could in one way or another afford it. (It's getting increasingly difficult for families to provide a good education for their kids, and I'm not only talking about college here; the government elitists are stripping the public education system of its quality, even as they bemoan that fact as a token complaint meant to ease the criticism.) If however you're not a member of the privileged class or can't care for yourself, then we, as a nation, don't care, because our official caring stance is dictated by the same powers that determine who gets to be elite, which population is decreasing with the middle class, while the manipulated press, through its worship of celebrity, implies that it is increasing, so that we don't feel any loss of hope that we might one day soon join their ranks. (Media moguls and even national news anchor people and reporters are among the country's elite, so whose side do you think they are on?) Meanwhile, we are inured to the increasing poverty and hard times by reports of terrorism, war, and evil that dominate the news.

Life goes on and we (are indoctrinated to) believe that we live in a great country that guarantees our rights and freedoms; and this is still somewhat true, but to a lesser and lesser extent as time goes on. But people will be human, and a significant part of human nature is negative, and even evil; and bad things will happen to us at the hands of the people who entertain this aspect of our nature, and some of those people are law enforcement and government officials, because these professions are not immune to the kinds of human flaws that perpetuate evil. So we may end up having to jump through a lot of hoops to defend ourselves and/or seek redress of grievances, and we may have to go very far afield from our ordinary lives and employments to do so. Yes, likely we (some of us far less likely than others) will eventually be vindicated if we have been wronged, if we doggedly use the system to pursue justice. (Or not, because despite the quality of our justice system, injustices will from time to time prevail, again depending upon who we are. This entire justice argument precludes the machinations that are currently at work to derail it and bring it into the fold and under the control of totalitarian elitists.)

But vindication can be costly, and not only in financial terms, but in terms of lost time and energy also. You might say that it's better here than in other places in the world. Yes. And yet we are not perfect, so before you go running around touting the rights and freedoms that our great country accords us, think: we could be doing a whole lot better. (Maybe, if you think this is not true, you are one of the elite who can always afford a good defense; but what about the rest of us?) It's bad enough that we have to fight forces that are truly external to the system, the criminals and terrorists; but the fact that at least half of our problems are created within the government is disconcerting. When the system of government and justice becomes a significant part of the problem, we're in trouble. We need to weed out the evil that exists within the system.

Back in our "normal," rosy, American world, eventually, if we're both persistent and lucky or well-off, we get around to rectifying many if not most of the injustices that have been perpetrated against us, personally and as a nation, within as well as without the system. In fact, it's a basic principle of most religions that everyone gets what they deserve, and I have verified through my studies in psychology that this principle is true; but justice achieved in this way takes a lot of time, sometimes generations, or even centuries or millennia. [Ask any Jew about how this works.] And the process itself within the justice system also can take a lot of time and divert us away from that which we would rather have been doing, which is not so great a tribute to our foundational idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yes, again, we have a means of fighting the injustices done against us; but the fight can be cumbersome and many of us choose not to fight, because it's just too difficult and time consuming to be bothered when we are not blessed with the social position or wherewithal to win in an expeditious manner. So (unless you have a whole lot of money and political influence) don't be too smug about being an American who has so many rights and freedoms. When they say that freedom is not free, they're right. Many of us cannot afford it. And they're taking it away from us piece by piece. Freedom is for sale in America. And it's not cheap.

The real problem

If there is hope, wrote Winston, it lies in the proles.
George Orwell, 1984
It just doesn't matter.
Bill Murray, Meat Balls
If there is hope, for America, it lies with the ordinary citizens, because the elite are not going to allow, let alone enable change, and the intellectuals are disregarded.

The "ordinary citizens" elected Bush (over and above, that is, the votes that his operatives stole) because they were brainwashed by religion. Now, maybe, they'll realize their mistake.

We'll see. If they change their minds, it will be for the wrong reasons; but at least they'll change them. But it leaves little hope for the future, when it could happen all over again. When it comes right down to it, I don't care. Actually, I do care. A lot. That's the problem: I have to adopt an "I don't care" attitude in order to protect my fragile ego. So I conclude that I don't care what the Bushies do, I don't care that the politicians are allowing the corporations to ruin the environment, I don't care that world leaders are murdering millions of people around the world and that millions more die of neglect, I just don't care. I don't care if the world becomes a sci fi Terminator nightmare with the proletariat who will not submit to lives as servants of elitist masters living underground or in concentration camps. If there is despair, it also lies in the proles. I just don't care. It just doesn't matter.

The unfortunate reality is that truly substantive changes are clearly not going to come from our leaders in Washington. Our elected representatives are so compromised, such an integral part of the scandal, that if they set off a populist petard, they'd only be hoisted by it themselves. Those currently in power have proven themselves chronically unable to bite the corporate hand that feeds and feeds them.


It's time for our business and political leaders to help redefine morality beyond sex, drugs, and rock and roll to include lying, hypocrisy, and callous indifference to those in need. That is the kind of leadership we must have if we're ever going to eradicate the culture of greed, corruption, and unethical behavior that has come to dominate both Wall Street and Washington.

Arianna Huffington, Pigs at the Trough
There must be some way out of this doldrums of uncaring ennui. I postulated a long time ago that one way that I could overcome certain aspects of my affective problems could be to "perform." In a sense, when I worked for employers, this is what I did, although the actual performance was circumscribed by a very narrow range of behaviors (which was essential so that I could feel like I was in control), more of a measurable commodity typical of business than of the kind of "performance arts" behavior I'm considering here.

All of my life, although I developed the "talent" to perform, I always felt too inhibited (introverted) to actually do so, except within the confines of activities where others took the lead; and even then, although I toughed it out with a cool bravado, I felt extremely intimidated and anxiety-ridden, which I disguised with a hardcore rebel veneer.

But I realize now that if, for example, I would sing a song in public, or even merely perform an instrumental, and I did it very well, no one would ever know that I hadn't been performing in public all my life and was not a seasoned performer and that my public performance was actually limited to a relatively brief period of time in my youth and a considerably limited range of business-related public speaking behaviors (which also involved 'acting' skills, since I consciously played the role of a supervisor while I semi-consciously defined myself and even occasionally consciously thought of myself as someone who existed outside the system).

Now, having advanced myself bit by bit through my continued self-education into a relatively sophisticated awareness of both my psychology and society, I think that I could be at a point in my life where I could make performance my "work," in order to try to counteract in some modest way [yet no one knows what the future holds for anyone; inklings of idle grandeur shine through the clouds of near despair] the ideas that eventuate in "bad" social policies, procedures, rules, regulations, laws, norms, and mores. I can respond with my two cents every time I run across them.

The method:

  1. Single out politicians and/or companies that favor the profit motive (greed) at the expense of workers, etc. and wage a campaign against them (a la Huffington's issues in Pigs, or any other issue--see issue list below); that is, develop and act a role of an activist.
  2. I could change my basic introverted orientation to life in the same way that I "changed" (not really, but somewhat effectively for social purposes) my Asperger's orientation early on and over the course of my life, through fantasy that eventually creates the personality you fantasize being, never changing the basic inner nature programmed in childhood, but applying an effective veneer over top of it. This is the standard way that all people create themselves and become adults; but I seem to have done it in a more conscious way than most, being more aware of an inner nature that remained with me and less aware of and identified with the persona I adopted, even as that persona was the one that others interacted with. (I am still frequently surprised when people will reveal that they see me in ways that I "fantasize" I am, but seldom consciously see myself as.)

    I think of this method, when it is done consciously as opposed to fantastically, as "acting," not unlike what George Washington outlined when he suggested that people can develop 'character' by acting as if they have the traits they desire until they become a habit. Life, in this sense, is a performance. Although I believe that I will never really overcome my basic introverted nature, I can reap the benefits of an extroverted personality by pretending to it. I do this occasionally, and I have done it frequently in the business world; but I have been out of practice at it for quite a while. But, now, I can apply the technique to, not the business world, but the social one. I know these categories are not distinct, but I look at them as if the social world, since it subsumes business, can be made to exert control over business, which is the whole point here: business has become inured to the "needs" of society and culture; greed has replaced morality as the primary motivating factor in business. [In the past, when this condition existed, business was not called business, but crime. And recent busts notwithstanding, the business community has still not taken the object lesson to heart.]

    [Or, I could imagine (fantasize) myself as a charismatic guru-like (but not literally a guru) character who attracts to him, (apparently) without his intent or beckoning, people who willingly volunteer to do what he wants them to, when all he has to do is mention as if in passing what he wants, as if he's merely expressing desires he doesn't expect to be realized; in other words, they want to please him so much that they do whatever they think will make him happy (along the same lines as women in my past have meant when they accused me of being spoiled, when they would get jealous and/or envious that people, themselves included when they recognized that they too had fallen into my unconscious trap, willingly will do things for me to make me happy; or in the way that Steve acts out as a self-employed landscaper when he hires people to "cater" to his whims; just like those two examples, but not nearly so subconsciously, but rather with a lot more "intent."). You can become the person you are by fantasizing that this is who you used to be, for a long time, as a matter of your inherent nature--because, in a sense, it's true; it's who you have been in your mind.]

  3. As a beginning, as a means of early practice and to develop the psychological adaptation necessary to inure myself against the social and personal evils that can lead to stress and debility, I can go out into society at least once per day, even if that means merely going out into the yard to do some work while others are around or even just sitting on the front porch reading--because the self-exposure, though it might not result in social contact, can work on the self by creating a "social" attitude: "I am here, available, not hiding in my mind and waiting until you go away like I used to do; so if you want anything, feel free to approach me."

    But I need to be careful so as to avoid the John Russell syndrome (Hombre). They'll suck me in and make me the fall guy if I allow them to do it. (They've done it so many times before; that is, I let them do it.) People should feel free to approach me, but not free to manipulate me--because I will see it and take appropriate action, even to the point of revealing (in as nice a way as possible so as to be "sociable" about it) what they are (subconsciously) up to. [This may seem like the paranoia sneaking back in, but it's not--except as it has become a fixed part of my personality; that is, it's not a spike, but the baseline condition--if that is the case. People may conspire (though unconsciously, by virtue of a sociablility I often refuse to share) against me and, unable to make an inroad (at least that's what I convince them to believe) into that affective softcore center where they want to play around as if they are on vacation from themselves and so need not be concerned with consequences they'd worry about if they were back at home (back within their own minds; what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas), they give up too easily--which is what I really want. It's a theory. But just because conspiracy theories are crazy ideas proposed by crazy people doesn't mean that people (especially those in the government) are not out to get you. (It makes sense. Work at it a little bit.)]

  4. A new haircut might be in order, to initiate the new "personality," an outward sign to signal the change of motive to social activism. That's just a passing thought, an excuse to cut my hair, which I've been thinking about doing for over a year now. But every time I decide to do it, I realize how much I like my longhair look, despite its increased maintenance.
  5. I could develop a new website for the purpose of promoting this new agenda, the content of which could be stories of social problems that need to be addressed (via activism):
    • "true" stories that reveal corruption (etc.) designed to "spread the word" and rally support for forces of social change (reform):
    • news story format [the "objective" truth] (the 10 steps of a developed news story:

      1. lede: short; who, what, where, when
      2. 2nd sentence: details about the lede (not the story)
      3. "sexy" quote: illustrating the lede and second sentence
      4. nut graf (and rest of article: how, why; the context, the larger picture
      5. summary: a fair presentation of all POVs
      6. supporting quotes: in reverse order as stated in summary
      7. real time color, anecdotes, examples: sights, sounds, moods
      8. the past: additional history with similarities and differences
      9. the future: what's next?
      10. kicker: short, high-impact sentence; a surprise or reference back to lede
    • standard short stories [the creative truth (fiction disguised as creative non-fiction)]; empathic tales designed to interest and appeal emotionally to readers so as to motivate them to want to help right the wrong
    • the first, objective, part--or as much of it as necessary--can be used in forums and in conversations (memorize "issues")
    • the second, creative, part is an expansion of the "issue," used as examples as time and space permits, but primarily designed as stories for a website or for publication.
    • my personal past, present, and dreams, perhaps disguised as the above: Rather than to serve merely as my self-expression (as they currently do), these would be "true" stories [i.e., psychological truth; or maybe literal truth that can't be verified except via the subjects admitting to it, thereby negating a case for libel] about real people. Or perhaps they could be disguised as dreams. You can write anything you want about anyone if it is claimed to be a dream you had, because all you're doing is reporting the facts of your inner experience. I could make this my primary style, since I'm already well on the way toward it, both in my online journal and in my pastiches/novels. I could become the "dream" author, an extension of the guru-like theme above.
The issues:

This "change," this new "purpose" of social activism, is not really new. It's merely an extension of the same motive I've been pursuing for years, self-expression taken to a (more) social level. I've been through this exercise so many times before that, although right now I feel like I could do this thing, I know that it will become just another series of journal entries that may eventually have a lasting significant effect on my psyche; but maybe not.

Most probably (and this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy) I'll resort to my usual fall-back position:

What difference does it make? Yeah, I know that one voice speaking out at exactly the right time with exactly the right words can (rarely) change the world. It certainly has a (slightly) better chance than a single vote changing an election. More likely, however, is that one voice can make a difference in the short term among a select group of people. But there is so much wrong in the world that will continue to be wrong after I'm gone, no matter what I do, just as there was so much wrong before I got here that is still wrong today, that I have to wonder what difference can it possibly make whether I speak out against injustice or remain silent?

I could, however, if I would, make myself such a thorn in the side of the government and corporations that they might offer me a "settlement." [I should check with a lawyer re the legal definition of a bribe.] I am not above being "bought-off"--and they could get me at a relatively cheap price too (in their terms, although for me it might seem substantial). So much for idealism, but, hey, you do what you need to do to get by and prosper.

Meanwhile, activism is maybe a way to go. I mean, Ralph Nader may be honest, but he lives a relatively affluent life based upon his activities. I'm not asking for unbounded wealth. I'm not asking for a windfall. But I'll settle for a little bit of financial security (and afterwards carry on my anti-authority inactivity underground; after all, I've been doing it all my life that way, so I'd see no reason to stop just because I agreed to be paid to be a good little boy). Yeah, it's a fantasy; but every once in a great while one of my fantasies comes true. Meanwhile, you can't trust traveling by air, you can't trust borrowing books from libraries or using their internet connections, you can't trust buying books from book stores, you can't trust blood transfusions, and now you can't even trust implanted body parts. In fact, there's not too much you can trust in this world any more. (There probably never was.)

You certainly can't trust the corporations; they're just in it for the money; and you can't trust the government because they're in it to support the corporations, and to further the political agendas of government officials (which amounts to the same thing), although some few of the officials get off on the pure power they wield:

You can be arrested now for giving someone the finger, for saying, "Fuck you," or for wearing an anti-war T-shirt to a political rally. Our freedoms are slowly being stripped away, and the worst part of it all is that we (some of us) have no problem at all complying; and this, after all, is the real problem. It's difficult to blame politicians and businessmen for the lack of will of a complacent citizenry. They are certainly manipulating us, but we, through our ignorance and stupidity, allow ourselves to be manipulated. Me too. Because I have not yet initiated my plan of social action. I can be as socially aware as all hell, but unless I do something about the injustice I see, I'm no different than anyone else. But it's hard enough just to manage to write it all out this once, let alone having to do it again and again--for the rest of my life. I'm too tired. I want to go and take a nap now. Maybe I'll dream up another world tonight. Dreams are my best defense.

go to
part two

Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
1. source: America Declares Independence, Alam Dershowitz