I awaken at 6:30 a.m. hearing the same kind of loud sound I heard yesterday; but this time it was definitely outside. The neighbor's dogs are barking; they heard something too, so it probably wasn't a dream. I guess that the noise could have come from the slag and stone wholesaler down on the main road. They're always dumping truckloads of stone onto their property, but they usually do that deep in the middle of the night. As for the shelf of computers falling yesterday, I think I heard a noise from the back room while I was working at the computer the other night. That could have been it.
The affective problem I've been experiencing lately (as well as my back pain) may be responding to the vitamins and supplements I've started taking again. Or is it merely a coincidence? Maybe, after all, the problem is nothing more than a poor diet. A constant diet of cheese sandwiches with mayo and onion (Hey, it's not your stomach!) may not be all that good for me. The paranoia I awoke with was rather mild and short-lived, not at all like that of previous days (and nights). I entertain it, turn it around on itself, begin to create stories out of it, let it entertain me:
If anyone wants to "get" me, for whatever legitimate or illegitimate reason, I can perhaps turn their attempts around on them, or at least draw a bit of suspicion to their purposes and/or agendas, by claiming that they're using their "attack" as an excuse to persecute me for...whatever: my "leftist" beliefs [I'm not really a 'liberal'; I have many conservative values: fiscal responsibility, governmental non-interference in private lives, etc.; it's just that my approach to politics and government tends toward the radical, which is often confused with liberalism when it doesn't support the status quo conservative establishment.] Then, I could segue into a reasoned tirade based on Alex Jones', et al., ideas. If the people in Washington can spin their nefarious activities, then so can I. (Not that I believe my activities are nefarious; but they would.)
"We're confiscating your computer. Where's your hard drive?"
"You tell me. You're the ones who took it, aren't you?"
[An excuse to fog its removal and concealment.]
If I tell you what [I think] is really going on, not only will you not believe me, but your reaction will be denial, which will negate any future possibility that you might have of eventually learning and accepting the truth. It's easy to label people as conspiracy nutcases and so dismiss their ideas. And that's exactly what "they" want you to do; in fact, they rely on it. If you really want to know, it's best if you set out on your own to discover the truth. That way, your mind is most free of its reactionary process and you may search with as much objectivity as you can muster. Pay attention to what the official spokespeople and mainstream media say and try to figure out what they're really saying, between the words, how they twist and distort the facts with omissions and selective inclusions; and how they outright lie. It's not hard to find examples because they do it every single day. Uncover their agendas as a starting point, and then go from there. By observing and researching, slowly, eventually, you'll learn the truth; and it will disturb you so much that you'll doubt it and continually find yourself reassessing the facts in order to assure yourself that you have not taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line and have become a conspiracy nutcase yourself. (The concept of 'conspiracy theory' was invented by people who want you not to know the truth; if they can discredit any truth you uncover by labeling you a nutcase in the minds of the general public, then they maintain their hold on power.)
As a very minor example of the way 'spin' is used in everyday life, consider this: my insurance company just cancelled my homeowner's insurance. As I lie in bed after finally having gotten some sleep, I re-assess that situation, trying to see beyond the paranoid future I imagine when people are injured on my property and sue me for the meager amounts of money I have left; or the place burns down and I am left homeless and have to pay out a huge amount of money for a new place to live. (Ultimately, all of my paranoid fantasies can be traceable back to something to do with money or incarceration.) I discern that one or another of the agents or investigators or bureaucrats of or related to the insurance company lied to me, twice: 1) The real reason they cancelled my policy was that the subsidiary that carried the insurance only just discovered, after a routine inspection last year, that the house was a mobile home in disguise and so didn't want to insure it. 2) The cancellation notification said that they had informed me that I needed to have the steps repaired, when they certainly did not inform me, not in any way, not even via obtuse suggestion. If they will lie about these simple business procedures, isn't it likely that they will lie if the time ever comes for them to pay on a claim?
"You have to have insurance. What happens in an emergency?"
"I guess I'll just have to be like everyone else.
"All of the Americans who can't afford insurance."
"You can afford it."
"In a manner of speaking."
"What does that mean?"
"I worry about running out of money before I die."
"You'll definitely run out if you have to buy a new house."
"Even if I'm insured, I could have to pay for a new house."
"No you wouldn't. The insurance would pay for it."
"Yeah, like they paid the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
"They paid for some of them."
"They did everything possible to avoid paying."
That's what they do. Collecting on an insurance policy is as much of a gamble as buying the policy in the first place is. Even if they would pay, it's still a gamble. They bet that nothing bad is going to happen to you and you bet that something will. I don't like betting against myself.
Anyway, it's just another example of how I am prejudiced against (poor me) by a society whose primary focus is to make money and take advantage of people who are not so able to interact well within the system. Actually, that's not so true as it is my own prejudice; and, on the other hand, it's true of everyone, because the capitalist corporations don't give a rat's ass about anyone who will not or doesn't want to play the game and compete at the highest level possible. Either you are a player or you are a mark; if there is a prejudice, it is applied to everyone fairly equally, and that is not prejudice at all.
I've recently uncovered another way I'm prejudiced against, and it's disturbing me. Editors of nearly every magazine and publishing house I (might otherwise) submit to insist that no story contain, in any way but trivially and preferably merely obliquely referenced if absolutely necessary as a past background event critical to the story, any sexual experience of children or childhood. The distinction applied during the heyday of the so-called sexual revolution between the depiction of sex for prurient interest alone v. the redeeming social value of sex as art doesn't seem to apply here; if it involves children, it is strictly censured. Publishers have turned chicken-shit, and for good reason:
The thoughtpolice are out in full force in these latter days of the latter Bush, determined to persecute anyone who even merely hints at any kind of child sex. The public has been whipped into a frenzy and is out for blood, and it's not the pornographers who are bleeding, it's the artists. Pornographers are hip; they know how to protect themselves. Artists tend to be more naive. They assume that their legitimate and sincere work will speak for itself; but the public "sensibility," blinded by the extreme Fundamentalist Right's sexaphobic agenda, cannot or chooses not to distinguish between legitimate and valuable art and worthless and dangerous child pornography. The depiction of social problems related to childhood sexuality is an important theme that artists must deal with; but for the most part, they are not allowed, not so much by edict as by an informal process of politically correct social censure. [I might point out that, before this recent publishing reticence, Kathy Acker handled this content prolifically.] I guess I'm in a position akin to William Burroughs or D. H. Lawrence here: If I somehow manage to get my fictionalized memories published, I'm going to end up embroiled in legal battles.
I have the right to express myself publicly, I have the balls for that expression, but I can't find the venue; people want my free expression restricted. I could self-publish; but this is not the point. Our pc society has, once again, made it unacceptable to render artistically certain subjects, even if you may legally render them as socially redeemable material--or maybe not. In any case, if you do it flagrantly, you will probably be challenged at some point in court. You may win, but it will be an ordeal. (But this is the kind of an ordeal that can make a career, if I really would have the balls to challenge this affront to creativity.)
But someone has got to convince these overly uptight people that there's a difference between thought and action (where are the postmodern William Burroughs?); or, at least, someone has got to confront them and so draw the line. We can have thoughts and even express them in public without ever doing the act. Artists who depict the behaviors within society, and even pornographers, are not responsible for the actions of sociopaths who act out the scripts that they do not learn from the artists, but rather make up out of their own heads. Society always wants to put the cart before the horse in situations like these: Video games and violent television shows do not cause violence; violence causes violent television shows and video games. They may each feed off the other, but only within the minds of sociopaths.
As functioning members of society, we have to see this art; we must confront these social problems. But a politically correct stance serves to isolate us from it. When we're isolated, having just enough awareness to know of the problems without actually experiencing the intimate details, we enable the problem by trapping it in our collective unconscious, the worst of its possessors, free of immediate backlash, then exhibiting it even more outrageously.
It's not true that exposure to these "blue" ideas better enable their enactment within society. It's not true that people feel freer to mimic what they see and read. It's a far more complicated issue than that kind of black and white logic suggests. The number of borderline sociopaths who are more likely to act out because they feel less restricted in a "permissive" society (that is, one in which the problem is freely exhibited and discussed) are far outnumbered by the sociopaths who are spurred on by the hidden nature of severely restricted depictions of illicit sexual desires that must be sought out within themselves because they are disguised by a society that pretends that they do not exist or exist to such a small degree as to make them all but irrelevant to consciousness. Kept out in the open, these words and images, especially when they are openly discussed in a socially appropriate way, serve to awaken sociopaths to the true nature of the crimes, tending to prevent them from engaging in their various denial and repression behaviors. It's easier for sociopaths to understand how they will be labeled as social outcasts, and especially how they will be more easily exposed as such, when the kinds of behaviors they would engage in are out in the open for everyone to examine and understand their nature and the true extent of their existence. When we keep our human vices hidden (and make no mistake about it, these are very human vices, no matter how much we might want to think otherwise), we make them more attractive to those of us who might want to engage in them; the more that the public doesn't know, the easier it is for the underworld to exist.
Revelation is a social value of art. People who would keep some artistic content hidden enable the existence of the subjects within society, and not vice versa. The real threat to society comes not so much from the perpetrators as from the people who would hide the true nature of the acts perpetrated, because inadequate public understanding always results in inadequate solutions. Artists would save the public from its repressive self, except that censors present a real and present danger. Censorship is a disease that disguises problems so that they cannot be seen for what they truly are. Without adequate understanding, we cannot address problems with proper therapies and cures. We need to let the artists do their work; and, especially, we need to learn how to distinguish between art and pathology. And in the course of our education, we must not forget to examine the pathology of those people who are so horrified by certain acts that they not only do not dare to look at them to see how they might be prevented, but would prevent others from looking also. It is in the hearts and souls of these people that the real pathology lies hidden, so deeply that they don't realize that the problem is not in the art, but within their own sick selves; because we each are that which we most vociferously criticize, being unable to accept that it exists within; because any social problem existing within the collective unconscious must by definition exist to some degree within each of us. We can never isolate ourselves from our social problems, no matter how hard we try; in fact, the harder we try, the more likely the problem lies hidden within us. Let it out, where we can see it; and maybe then we can find the cure.
I resent the fact that I must inhibit my free expression of material that I know to be not only socially redeemable, but necessary, both to myself and to society. I know that I am neither a threat to society nor pathological. And I resent the fact that the true threat to society, the repressors who deny their unconscious complicity, act as if they would rid society of the pathology, when they would retain it, locked away inside the very minds that deny it.
Repressors (an alternate label for reactionary conservatives) are not only the most dangerous obstacle to human progress, but they represent a danger to human life and dignity as well, as they refuse to believe what becomes increasingly obvious to the intelligent world, that the worst danger we face is our own selves.
I had a sudden insight (perhaps a revelation) just as I was falling asleep last night: The rapture will not be God coming for his "chosen" and spiriting them off to heaven. His purpose will be to get the idiots out of the way in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, so that they will not complicate matters any more than they already are by compromising his message with the kinds of social prejudice and false-Christ crap that they create now with their restrictive, overbearing, reactionary dogma. What could possibly make fundamentalist Christians believe that they have the mental constitution to tolerate the kind of radical departure from the anal lives they live that a world-shattering Messiah would inevitably bring?
This is the epitome of the conservative agenda: to resist change; and what bigger change could there be than the arrival of a Messiah, who would end up revealing to each and every soul in denial the true nature of their repression, which, more likely than not, began in childhood in the throes of difficult sexual adjustment? Look at it, people! Before it jumps out and bites you in the ass--or somewhere else.
Writing is (or can be; or should be) like gardening, which is like an art: done little by little, a little bit at a time, morphing, molding, and sculpting the present into the future. Watering is like writing bits and pieces of narration and dialogue, feeding the plant/novel its essential nutrients; editing is like pruning, trimming, and cultivating; stitching short pieces into a more or less integral larger whole is like planning out, staging, and executing larger projects such as planting new beds and vegetation; and re-reading and revising that larger whole is like cleaning up, organizing tools, etc., and performing general maintenance. And all of it is like building a painting up from the canvas, layer upon layer of paint modifying the tone and texture of the layers beneath. It's a difficult simile, with a few of the points stretched a bit too far; but it makes me feel good, to correlate my daily activities in this way.
The key to happiness (or contentedness) lies in one's everyday activities. For me, the best results occur when every day is the same as the next, and every night is different than the day, but the same as the previous night. This is the way my life will sometimes go on for long periods of productive time; and then it changes and every day and night becomes different than in the preceding period of time, but the same as each other respectively, on and on again. But this is not, generally, the way the world works; you have to approach life in a decided manner ahead of time to make it work this way, and you have to stay far enough out of the way of the world to make it happen. The world, left to its own devices (and who is capable of interferring?) goes about its business in quite a different way, stirring things up, making things happen. Actually, I'm not really writing about "the world" here, but about the humans who (try to) control it. (It cannot really be controlled, but that doesn't stop us from trying, by stirring it up, and thereby disturbing what I would say was dictated by natural law except that the human will is very much a part of that law.) And the humans who most affect events are, by definition, world leaders, who are often not all that wise.
You don't get to be a world leader by being among the most intelligent, the most diplomatic, or even the most charismatic of the politicians, but rather by being the most ambitious. This fact of human nature does not serve well the process of democracy. This is why the founding fathers established extensive and flexible system of checks and balances, to counteract politicians' very human tendency toward accumulating power and becoming caught up in the corruption that power enables. And people most often feel that success is measurable by the amount of power (typically using money as a measure of power) one has; but I (of course) have a different measure of success:
the number of days per year when you either do what you want (characterized by the "ease of life"), should (doing what you think you should, despite what you want, but without ever feeling any social anxiety), or must (doing what you have to do, or not, but with the anxiety). I want to create (yet another) spreadsheet to keep track of these days, to see how "successful" I am over any given period of time; but I think I'll opt for a simpler definition of success instead: When I don't have to do anything at all and occupy my time doing whatever I want to do or nothing at all, that's success. In those terms, I'm one of the most successful people in the world.
The dead tree beside the shed fell today. I heard a loud bang and the neighbor's dogs started barking, so I went out to see what happened. It was fortunate that it fell straight along side the shed and onto the top of the smaller shed, whose roof is damaged beyond repair anyway. It took the Perle, Liberty, and Sterling hops trellis with it, but none of the bines were damaged, so all I had to do was put the trellis back up. It could have been a whole lot worse.
The threat of trees falling seems to be a theme in my life recently. First there was the shelf of computers falling, which I awoke imagining it was a tree outside. Then I heard that same sound again, definitely from outside. And now I again hear it, and it's my own tree. Were those preceding events harbingers of this one? Was the world trying to tell me something that I failed to pay attention to? I think like this all the time (probably because I really would like the world to be sending me messages; but, probably, it is not). Today I'm wanting to believe that there's a message for me in this story:
In 2005, the Iranians hanged two teenaged boys for having sex (with each other). So I began thinking: What if a (different) country hanged two Iranian citizens for praying to Allah? How would the Iranian authorities feel about that? In both cases, the punishment would have been administered for something people did, not for something they are; but the difference is that the homosexuals have no choice in being what they are and, in order to comply with the law, they must act against their basic natures, whereas Muslims may choose their religion (although in some countries, or areas, if you don't choose to worship Allah, you may be condemned). I'm not sure where I'm going with this and am as usual merely expatiating. It has something to do with the evil of religion (which always seems to manage to portray itself as good, despite the actual facts of the practices and behaviors of its adherents).
There will never be peace in the world until the ignorance of religion is eliminated. This statement doesn't actually say what most people will think it does. It might imply something without actually saying it; or it might not. It's apparent criticism of religion lies, not in the statement itself, which could simply be saying that religion, like everything other human institution, is rife with ignorance; because that is a fact of human nature. But in the minds of certain "religious" people who are overly sensitive to "criticism" because they doubt their beliefs and their "faith" and so feel that they must protect themselves from even the most benign comments that they merely suspect might be criticism, it might be taken as a severe rebuke; in other words, religious people (like everyone else) create their own demons that they reveal by protesting and making issues out of ordinary statements that may not mean what they think they do.
Take Mel Gibson, for example, since he's been in the news recently for his supposed Jew-hating incident. The problem with Mel is not that he hates Jews—if in fact he does; the problem is that he's a reactionary Catholic who forgets that his celebrity is based on a radical following. If he's sincere about wanting to make amends, in addition to courting the Jews, he might need to make another Mad Max sequel and then follow that up with another Lethal Weapon escapade. Maybe in this way he can recapture some of his disappointed lost-soul fan base. There are more people out here than Jews who feel disrespected by Mel's "conversion."
I guess that, in the way I stated it, that's not an example of the evil of religion so much as it's a complaint about the drift to the right of people as they age. Evil in the world becomes more obvious and less tolerated by us the longer we manage to stay around and avoid its fatal effects. And so we turn to the illusions of comfort that religions provide us with to ward off the fear of our impeding death that seems like it gets closer every year. But if we'd only open our minds just a bit, we'd realize that religions that kill people (and they all do, in one way or another) are no real security against the fear of death. We may feel secure in the fact that our religion kills or supports people (George Bush for example) who kill people whose faith is different from our own, thus making the dominance of our religion more likely. But evil begets evil; there is always a backlash and death begets death. Imagine how happy we could be if our religions instead supported life, as they claim to, but never manage to achieve. Imagine what would happen if, for example, our churches elected people to congress and the presidency who would act to take care of people instead of killing them or taking benign political stances that let people starve and die in poverty and illness. What a wonderful world it would be.
So, these are messages fron the world that I choose to attend to? Maybe; but probably not. Messages are what we make them. One person's message is another's nonsense. I don't really think that "the world" sends us messages; but the world does make its contents generally available so that we may shift through it and collect what we feel is relevant to our lives. Once again I come to the understanding (which, subsequently, I keep forgetting) that no one or no thing out there is directing its attention toward me so much as I am directing my attention toward it and then, when I find what I'm looking for, turning the whole thing around to make it appear that something "out there" is focusing itself on me. We are all alone in this world and would remain so except for the way in which we behave (usually, but not necessarily, verbally) so as to direct our attention onto that which we desire to pay attention to us.
If you say it (criticize), you make the problem your own, if only by calling attention to yourself (but more often by echoing the behaviors of the people you criticize); so if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your goddam mouths tightly shut. [Me too. And yet I continue to write.] The United Nations is so highly critical of Israel re the bombing of Lebanon because, although the U.N. passed resolutions years ago to attempt to solve the problems, and although they committed troops to maintain the peace, they were ineffective in what they tried to do; thus, they project the blame for the conflict onto Israel, because they can't admit that it was their own damn incompetence that allowed the situation to continue to fester until Israel felt that it had to do something drastic in order to draw world attention to the problem--which, according to the same phenomenon stated above, causes even more critism to be heaped upon the Jews. It's a never-ending cycle of action and reaction.
[But, obversely, when critics of the U.N (like me, in this case) say that the U.N. doesn't work, that it's a broken organization, what they're really saying is that leaders and critically-positioned citizens from different nations don't know how to get along. If they did, they'd be able to come to an agreement about what to do and how to do it in order to accomplish what it now cannot. It's just another projection, and a big one of global scale and consequence. The U.N. is composed of member nations; when it fails, it's the member nations that fail. When critics say that the U.N. isn't working, they criticize themselves. They're the ones who aren't working. They can't convince their governments taht it's in their best interest to succeed at global negotiations. To be fair, some of them, typically those who represent the larger powers, do not want to succeed, they want the U.N. stalemated so that it can't dilute or negate their home-base powers, they're the reason that the U.N. doesn't work. Kill the messengers. (But not me. I want) the U.N to work.]
The Jews accuse Hezbollah of having initiated the most recent Arab-Israeli conflict by invading northern Israel, killing eight of its soldiers, and kidnapping two. And perhaps that excuse for their going to war is justified; but it conveniently ignores the history of the conflict back to when the modern country of Israel was established by the U.N. Many Arabs consider this act to have violated basic rights of Palestinians and therefore see the current conflict not as a separate incident, but as an integral part of a continuing war since 1948, an ongoing attempt to drive the Jews out of a land that they feel they occupy unjustifiably.
This is a good point in the Arab's favor: Why should the Palestinians have to have surrendered their homeland in order to form the state of Israel? The Jewish and in fact the world's answer to this question (over and above the basic fact that the Palestinians had and still have no real power and so may continually fall victim to anyone who comes along and wants to disregard their existence) is because this is also as well the historical homeland of the Jews, a people who have been persecuted and displaced throughout history. But how far back should we consider historical claims to be valid? Should the English abandon Northern Ireland? Should the Americans and the Australians give the land back to the natives? I'm sure there are innumerable claims that could be made worldwide. How far back is too far? If we go back far enough, at some point the Jews and the Arabs become one people, let's call them the Semites. The current conflict represents the latter day results of thousands of years of family feuding.
And, as far as the West goes, Christianity is a Jewish cult that gained political power when it was adopted by the Holy Roman Empire. But, still, it is a Jewish cult. Sure, there are some radical departures in theology; but it worships the same God and it serves the same ultimate end. So, when we tend to (or officially, as in America) side with thye Jews, we participate in the family feud; we're distant cousins of the Jews who yet feel the family ties.
There are several areas of research related to this kind of problem that I would like to get into, if only I could find the motivation. This is a complicated issue that does not lend itself to (my propensity toward an intuitive and) easy (lazy) interpretation. I would like to know a lot more about the history of the Arabs and the Jews and, especially, about the earlier Sumerians and how their culture fed into the feud that developed; and, for that matter, how all of the associated "tribes" and cultures of the region (Assyrians, et al.) related to that feud. I would like to understand the underpinnings of homosexuality and rune worshipping among pre-war Nazis, fact separated from the hype and bigotry of all the published propaganda crap; and how that plays into the anti-Semitism of the time (and now). I'd like to know how the Turks fit into all of that. And I would like to investigate the cross-cultural identity among the Germans, the Persians, and the Afghans re their Aryan prehistory.
It's easy to take one side or another without factoring into your beliefs the complexity of all of that the historical background. Ignorant people do this kind of thing all the time, but their positions may not be so correct as they may think they are. Even educated people who should know better get caught up in the rhetoric and simplify the issues by conveniently ignoring the facts that don't fit their pet beliefs in order to take one side or another. This is the fate of people who will not think issues through in their full complexity to logical conclusions. Always, when the entirety of the issue is short-circuited, the end result is conflict of one sort or another; but when the entirety is considered, a kind of stasis is reached that resists action because in one way or another someone's rights and historical claims are going to be violated. We need to reach this point in world affairs, always. From this position, we can address grievances without war and act in ways that are agreeable to all concerned parties; and if we unwittingly miss anyone, we can then also take their objections into account when they become known. The alternative solution, bombing people into oblivion, just doesn't work. Apart from the death, pain, and suffering involved, someone will always remain to remember the injustice and "inform" their progeny. It's a perpetual cycle that retards the advancement of the human species and the world organism.
I myself fell like I’ve been bombed into oblivion, and I’m writing to inform what remains of my self as to the dangers of the world and the revenge that I must take upon it for the damage it has done. I will often get so fed up with myself for the prosaic complaining that I do that I give it all up and decide that there’s nothing I can do about it all so I should just shut up (though I seldom do, and then not for all that long); which often will lead to me feeling like I want to do nothing at all.
I'm finding these past two or three days almost as plagued with anomie as during my recent severe episode; but instead of my usual reaction, I seem to be taking it in stride and not experiencing my usual reaction of feeling like the world is coming crashing down around me. I think it's the food supplements I'm taking that's making all the difference.
But even (or maybe especially) when I manage to escape the reactive trap of wanting to change the world to conform to the way that I think it should be, I still will look back over my life (whether recent or more distant) to try to see where I "went wrong":
I've been a scapegoat all my life because (or when) I don't defend myself, because I don't (or can't, effectively, consistently) "network" to create social ties that enable people to see me as a steady and stable friend and thus non-threatening (in an unconscious sense), so that they are able and more willing to project their repressed contents onto me--all as a result of Asperger's, which early on and in a continuing manner, as developed conclusions from feedback from awkward social interaction, caused my social anxiety, depression, withdrawal, and isolation.
I think that I could probably dismiss the actions of the people who at various times in my life have acted toward me in this way if I could believe that they were/are just that small collection of troubled souls with whom I have had the misfortune of having crossed paths and become involved; but I suspect, in fact I believe, that these people were not isolated examples of unfortunate pathology, but rather typical of the human race. [I guess I could have unconsciously chosen them to fit into a self-denigrating agenda I subconsciously harbored, thereby creating my own scapegoat psychology in the same way that I hypothesize that I have created my physical condition: Asperger's > social anxiety > AS is a physiological manifestation eventuating over time, onset in early adulthood; but even if that's true, people still have to "choose" to do their part and play into the psychology by blaming me for what they (also) are, repressed.] Anyone, and nearly everyone, would have acted toward me in similar ways given the opportunity, I think. If I thought that there were (lots of) good people out there who would treat me more "humanely," I'd maybe make an effort to look for them. But people are the same everywhere, so what's the use? People might accept me at first, until they get to know me (I was fooled a lot on that way in my past); then they realize how easy it is to take advantage of my debilitative reticence to engage people, and so they do.
Everyone is at least as fucked up as I am, and many people far more so. I don't murder, rape, or steal. I don't treat people prejudicially or act to belittle them or deprive them of their dignity or self-esteem. In these ways, I am better than a lot of people. I don't do a lot of things that people do or would do to me if they would only get the chance. So, even unconsciously as a matter of habit, I conclude that, despite my "problems," my own "pathology," I am no better or worse than many people and so have no need to think any less of myself, nor has anyone any justification for thinking less of me (so that when they do, they are projecting). The proof of this lies in the "bad behavior" (both obvious evil and ordinary human foible) I see people engaging in every single day. When I observe human nature and see the condition that it has brought the world to, I understand that I am quite well-off by comparison. And yet I can't stop dreaming about past situations that I wake up feeling badly about:
I go to a one week seminar in Turtle Creek with Jeff. But on day three, Jeff has found other friends and abandoned me (an obvious reference to office politics at a place a used to work). I haven't been going to the classes, which I feel a little guilty about [a reference to a retreat to the Big Island while posted to Oahu during my army enlistment], but they're boring and I'm a lost soul anyway. The seminar is a disguised social indoctrination program, but long before I realize this, I have already opted out. I miss meals because I never get to the cafeteria on time (recurrent). I try to hide away in my semi-private sleeping area, trying to nap on the bed, but wary lest anyone come along and find me (a reference to National Guard summer camp, where I was posted after being released early from active duty and where, because I was an experienced active duty soldier and most of the Guard recruits were weekend warriors, I got over big time by knowing the ins and outs of army life). I think that I should have brought my car along instead of having come with Jeff in his van. I want to contact someone at home and tell them to bring my car down to me so that I have some freedom, but out in the public hallway where the phones are, I can't seem to make them work, either because I don't try hard enough or because I feel that the people at home will not comply. On Wednesday night, I'm walking along the street of the small town/campus when I meet two girls. [this is a reference to two young ladies whom I knew when I lived in New York and whom my supposed buddies (they weren't really my friends, but only pretended to be while deriding me behind my back, I discovered much later) visited one day and night by driving from Clarion, PA] The girls are attracted to me, so we go back to my semi-private room. They confide to me that they've been skipping classes too because they also find them boring. We talk about saving the week by taking off on a short four-day vacation; but we're only half serious. They both come on to me and we're about to have sex. The tall, blond one wants me to bite her on the neck and draw (a significant amount of) blood. I kiss her and run my hands over her body, but I refuse to bite her. Another guy shows up. The smaller, dark-haired girl and I put blankets up over the windows of the room. A lady, some kind of top official of the seminar, comes walking along the street and looks in. She can't see us because of the blankets, but she stares at the covered windows as if she has x-ray vision and can see us, but with difficulty--almost as if she's using psychic powers to view us dimly. We wonder at her behavior and conjecture if she can or cannot see us. One of us says, "Maybe she's looking at her reflection." We laugh, nervously. Finally, she opens the double doors, which are glass (with blankets hung over them) and do not lock. She says something like, "I hope you kids are behaving." (We're allowed to be together in mixed group, but not to have any sexual contact.) (Obviously, this is a mother figure, the superego.) She briefly lectures us, but mildly; she knows what we're up to, and her mere presence and behavior is successful in thwarting our intent. I go outside for a walk with the blond. We come up to a hillside field on the campus (a combined reference to both Schenley Park near the Pitt and Carnegie-Mellon campuses where db and I used to spend evenings and to the lawn in front of Old Main on the Penn State campus). We could see this field from my room's windows, which spanned one whole wall. I'm attracted to the kids' activities on the lawn and stand staring at them as if mesmerized. The blond walks on, drifting off toward the town. I'm incidentally aware that she's leaving. In one version of the ending, I break my trance to follow her. In another version, she calls to me to stay with her. In a third version, she departs without a word.
I awaken with the thought that I no longer want to go out, because I might over-utilize the car. Am I becoming agoraphobic? No. I don't mind going out and sometimes I even enjoy it; but there's the future to think of: Reduce wear and tear on the car as much as possible. My idyllic life of retirement has been based upon a lie: Things will deteriorate; change will occur. I have been living in denial when I believed that everything has been fine; everything is not fine if it will not be fine forever. I can't seem to manage to get the future out of the present. I've got to get back to letting the future take care of itself, establishing the contingencies, making the best plans I can and setting them aside until the time, if ever, comes to use them, and then living a present contented life.
My mind, conditioned by the dream, skips back to a weekend off during Army basic training: When my parents came to visit, I'd asked my mother, during a phone call prior to them coming, to bring some of my civilian clothes; but she did not, saying she forgot. I pleaded with her to stop at a strip mall as we passed it to buy some clothes, but she would not comply with my request. This is a perfect example of how she had no idea about how I felt. It would have been a simple thing, hardly out of the way at all, for us to stop at one of the department stores for a few minutes while I bought a t-shirt and a pair of Levis. I realize now that she was clueless as to my affective state. I guess she assumed that I was "normal" and felt like other people, like everyone else, like she would have felt had she been in my situation. I had to walk around Atlantic City in my Army dress khakis, among the hippies and the other cool people, feeling out of place, embarrassed, and disgraced. [I didn't want to be in the army and only joined to get my job assignment and posting choices (printer in Hawaii) when I was about to be drafted.]
I want to, and know I should, say that I forgive my mother for this disregard of my feelings; but I don't, although I realize that it no longer matters. The separation is complete: She's dead and I am on my own now, and have been for quite a while, even long before she died. Forgiveness is important early on; but when the event to be forgiven drifts too far into the past, it hardly matters any more. Either its effect is overcome by degrees over the years or else it has taken its toll and permanently set into the personality. In either case, it's too late; what's done is done, especially when the person to be forgiven has been dead for quite a while. You are who you have become, you might change or you might not, but the past is always the past, which sooner or later becomes irrelevant; or if not totally irrelevant, then at least irreversible; or if not totally irreversible, then hardly worth the effort any more--and it is an effort, forgiveness. It's easier just to move on and forget. They talk about forgiving and forgetting, but sometimes forgetting alone is sufficient. It is, however, further proof that forgiveness has so very little to do with the person you're forgiving and so much more to do with your own self. I need to focus on the present and the (positive aspects of the) future, and forget about the past. There will always be something in my past, unresolved and possibly unresolvable, that will cause me pain and turmoil if I focus on it; and the more I focus, the more likely it is that I will provoke its memory into affecting my present life in ways that feed subconscious messages to others that stir them up to act against me or, at the least, think less of me. Better, I think, to focus on the present and (re)act as freely as I can apart from the past. Although it is true that the present can, at times, be as devoid of meaning or as obtuse as the past. And, anyway, how can you ever be free of your past? But that's not the question here, is it? The real question is, Should I be dredging all of this crap up into consciousness or should I instead be working to better my present? But is there really any difference between these two alternatives? Sometimes, it's such an effort to go round and round the way I do.
I am the way I am for very good reasons. As much as I (at times) dislike being self-restricted, it's better than the alternative.
When I was out and about every day and making serious social mistakes, I didn't like myself much and wished I were home alone.
Part of my debility is that I always seem to go too far. When I've realized that I have gone too far, I now understand the problem:
This is the nature of a compulsive personality. To have to be exhaustive is exhausting. Of course, it would be. That's the point.
One of the reasons that I have all of these unfinished projects lying around is because I haven't fully exhausted their possibilities.
It's the same thing working at a job: I always had to do it in the best way I possibly could, while others breezed along not caring.
I always become obsessed with everything I do and take it all to the nth degree when, after all, nothing is ever completed completely.
And so it is with my usefulness. I am useful, sometimes, to a few people, and to myself more often, and to the universe, I guess.
My life is a series of realizations of having gone too far, having dwelled too long on diminishing progress, unwilling to move on.
Far beyond a line I begin to suspect that maybe it's past time to return; but I seldom do, at least not all the way, hovering between.
Going too far and departing from living near to the mean or midpoint disturbs a natural balance and radicalizes my lame life.
One of the many ways that I go too far (it used to be the most common) is to go too long without sleep, then crash into oblivion.
And, after oblivion, but before awakening, I am rewarded for my perseverence with dreams, all the more so the longer I stay awake:
An old workplace, at the upper exit into the alley: I'm about to exit, but something/someone calls me back in. Morph to combo environment with the stairwell becoming like a department store stairwell (recurrent). I go up to an upper floor, which is like an attic, except that it is not the top floor. This is a storage area ( for my memories?) with lots of boxes piled erratically all around. I feel that the environment is kind of like a "rarified mind"; it's an indescribable feeling of, for lack of a better phrase, "perfect love."
I awaken with the idea of an artform composed of small "dollhouses" that are completely enclosed and the insides viewed through peep-holes. My brain is flooded with ideas and I struggle hard to force myself to write them down before I fall back into sleep: I associate the doll houses with Ibsen (for the obvious reason), which leads me immediately to a memory of the book I'm in the process of reading, The History of Danish Dreams by Peter Hoeg, which has inspired me to write a similar book, but about America, entitled, of course The History of American Dreams, whose contents would be, of course, my own dreams (both oneric and aspirational), which, I suspect, are not at all typical, which would make the title a bit sarcastic. I also want to create, as a form of art, the dollhouse images from the dream; but I want to create these as a written, not a visual, artform. Lastly, I make a note to look up a quote by Hoeg that I know applies to what I'm thinking/dreaming; and, as I set my notes aside and ease on through a hypngogic state wherein I begin to analyze Hoeg's book, I allow myself to fall back into sleep:
[Although his style may be a bit elaborate, Hoeg writes an apparently straightforward story along what seems to be traditional lines. He alternately develops sub-plots and weaves them together, bit by bit. But it's what's going on beneath the surface that's most interesting: Characters are developed in terms of their ancestors and personal and historical associations until, by the time the reader gets to the current generation, they culminate in a modern couple who (seem to be meant to) subsume, in one way or another, either directly or as reactions against, all of their forebearers' actions, decisions, flaws, foibles, and personalities. They are the product of their history, both national and personal.]
On Route 30 through Forest Hills: At first I have no car, and then I have a new car, which is a sort of miniature vehicle, almost like a large toy. I drive toward East Pittsburgh; and then I am walking with another guy, a Charlie Sheen-type character, a friend. At the beginning of the bridge [one of the small bridges over the Mon into McKeesport, instead of the George Westinghouse Bridge, which is the bridge that should be at this location; later, awake, I realize that this is a transitional mechanism, using a bridge (Freudian typo on the word bridge: "bride") to take us (me) from one area (symbolized by "Forest Hills," an affluent suburb) to another (symbolized by "McKeesport," which is far lower in socio-economic class)] there's a tollbooth operated by two young women. They don't know what to make of two guys wanting to walk across the bridge. No one has ever done that before, they say. They're perplexed, which creates two dream threads: one where they decide that they have to charge each of us the same toll that cars have to pay and, though we argue that we're like two passengers in one car, they insist that we pay two tolls; and the other where they don't charge us, because they're attracted to us--and vice versa. On the other side of the bridge, we go into a McDonalds [there is no imagery for this; rather, it is just known later that we have been in there, sort of like a memory within the dream] where we meet two women, one of whom has a kid. [Obviously, they're the same symbolism as that of the girls at the tollbooth, except that those girls were younger.] The girls, we discover, are just heading off on vacation. Since we 'hit it off' and discover that we are heading in the same direction, we decide to travel in a 'caravan': my friend travels with the woman and her kid in her car, and the other woman travels with me and my son (who mysteriously shows up out of nowhere, probably to create a dream parallel) in my car (which also miraculously returns from the beginning of the dream). We head toward McKeesport, which is also Robinson Blvd at East Hills. (recurrent area) As we drive along (a scene immediately following the bridge scene) I "remember" the McDonald's scene and begin to get very angry as I learn (in the car) that the black eye and reddened cheek of the girl, which I noticed in McDonald's, was caused by her boyfriend abusing her, which was the incident that caused the two girls to decide to go on "vacation."
As it turns out, the quote I was trying to remember, awakening between dreams, was not by Hoeg after all:
He lay back with his eyes shut, still sodden in the atmosphere of the dream. It was a vast, luminous dream in a landscape on a summer evening after rain.
The anger that I felt in the dream lingers long after I awaken. In fantasy, I begin to advise the dream character: If a man hits you on, at the most, two separate occasions and you're still living with him, you're a part of the problem. Stop living in denial. You're enabling his abuse.
But I quickly tire of this fantasy, wanting to consider, instead, the nature of evil in more general terms, the motivating factor that inhabits people and causes them to do these fucked up kinds of things. In the case of battered women, I'm sure that, in most cases, it's not much more than a pathological anger that the man can't deal with in any way but to lash out; men who beat women also (would) beat other men (if they thought they could get away with it). These little (though not to the women on the receiving end) examples of evil hardly compare to the evil that is perpetrated by totalitarian dictators, although fundamental religion and reactionary conservatism run a close second when they aspire without realizing it to the former's oppressive methods. It's probably true that the greatest evil in the world has been done by these three (it's not so categorical; a wide overlap exists between them) groups.
But I'm quickly tiring again, before I even begin to fantasize about my solutions to the problem of evil in the world. I think I've pretty much worn out my fantasies. Maybe I need some new ones; but I suspect that it's the fantasy process in general that's become jaded. It doesn't work like it used to, not even merely to entertain me, let alone to gratify vicariously my various gregarious needs. The best that can be said for it is that through its increasingly boring repetition, it continues to alter my perception of my past, which becomes unconsciously transferred to others who see me in a "better" (cooler, braver, tougher, more competent, whatever) way.
[I may now not be who I used to be. The pose I struck, the self I see, looking back, acting cool, never knowing then how naive I was, is fogged so badly by my years of idle fantasy. But it sure is how I am now. Time has a way of showing you what you were that you couldn't see then, not understanding what you learned until it showed you later how to see. And, simultaneously, how to transform yourself away from the past reality into the fantasy.]
However, although my fantasies may be on the wane, heading toward permanent exhaustion by having taken the whole process way too far, as I edge closer to being what I really want to be, my dreams still work full force, and their repetitive nature informs me that, although my conscious mind may be getting bored, my subconscious is still quite "entertained" and informative, if only I will pay attention. Maybe I should base my fantasies on my dreams instead of on my conscious desires. Hmm. That may be something to look into.
I awaken and fall immediately back to sleep and start the dream over. This time, I look out the window to see huge red construction machines (reminiscent of fire trucks). The front door is open and I see a woman preparing to ascend my steps. I reach over from my office area in the dining room and try to push the door closed so that I can pretend I'm not home; but it's too late, she's looks up and sees that the door is open. It's not too bad, though, I think, because she's attractive, in a tomboyish kind of construction worker way (which plays right into one of my fantasies). She comes to my door and invites herself in. My house is in disarray, more so than usual. I feel embarrassed that I'm such a slob. But I don't feel embarrassed at all that I'm not wearing any pants. Before I saw her approaching, I had been in my kitchen, where I had spilled something while watering the plants, and the liquid (not water) had run down the front of my pants (hmm), so I had taken them off and tossed them onto the chair in the office at the front of the house. Also piled on the chair and around it were a lot of dirty clothes and other junk. And beneath some of that debris I found at least one brown paper bag (and I suspected more) filled with groceries that I had forgotten to put away after I had gone shopping a few days earlier. I had started to put these away, hoping that there was nothing perishable in the bags when I saw the woman about to ascend the steps. I noticed, as I watched her approach, that nearly all of the yard area on my side of the street has been stripped away along with even the porches, practically up to the front doors. [Paradoxically, she ascends the steps as if this were not the case, because the steps are no longer there.] As she enters, I sort of half-apologize for the mess. She says she understands, considering the turmoil that the neighborhood is in. I let her go on thinking that this is the reason for the mess, that I've been preparing to move. She wants me to come outside to talk to some guy (the same guy I was negotiating with earlier?); but I tell her to wait because I have to find a pair of pants to put on first. The reason I didn't put any on earlier was because I couldn't find any relatively clean ones among all of the dirty clothes. We go up into the kitchen where I look out the window and notice that my neighbor's back porch has been stripped bare and excavated and people I do not know are lifting some kind of "pods" out of the earth, which I then recognize to be the roots and bulbs of perennials that are being salvaged. Then I look toward the house and notice that the whole thing has been torn down and only broken and scattered concrete blocks from the foundation remain. I link this imagery with the recent fire there and think they had the place torn down because it suffered more damage than the owners first realized. [I do not make the connection that my place too will be torn down, because that is the intent of the construction teams, to level the whole neighborhood.]
This is the most profound, most disruptive dream in this series of recurrent "nightmares" (I guess they could be called that, although, except for my irate and angry attitude, I don't feel the usual nightmare "horror") about construction that disrupts, damages, destructs, and/or in some few cases, pleasantly remodels the front (and sometimes the back) of my property. I assume that this is a symbol system for insecurity and anxiety.
When I go out into the house to inspect the street, suspecting that some kind of noise-generating activity had prompted the dream, I find everything is in its same old boring condition. The street is empty, even of cars, as everyone has already left for work. Then I go into the kitchen to make some coffee and I happen to notice that the neighbor's back porch looks bare. I go to a better vantage point and see their porch table is gone. Maybe they're moving, I think. For the first time I conjecture that the absence of the husband and his dogs may mean, not that he has left his family or been kicked out by his wife, as I had earlier imagined might be the case, but rather that they're in the process of moving and he has gone on ahead to prepare the new place. (But the back porch table was there when they moved in, left by the previous tenants. So, if they took it, are they stealing it? Or did they remove it with the permission of the owner? So many questions that could be simply resolved if only I communicated occasionally with my neighbors instead of allowing long periods of time to elapse in social hibernation.) Maybe the construction machines in the dream looked like fire trucks because my neighbors had been making noise dismantling and carrying away the metal table on their back porch as I slept, and the noise affected me in a way similar to that which the firemen made when they were fighting the fire a while back while I slept through it while dreaming. My bedroom is immediately adjacent to their back porch. That removal activity could have been the noise I imagine I heard that subconsciously affected my dream; or not, because I'm not sure if they just removed the table or if it's been gone for a while and I never noticed. [Actually, I later notice, they didn't remove it at all, but just moved it to a place on the porch that I can't see from my kitchen window.
But before I got up to investigate real world causes of my dreams, I fell back into sleep and continued dreaming: I'm in a strange place, maybe somewhere in and around East Liberty (in location feeling, but not in any way in recognized locale identity), which is a company I work for that manufactures and decorates textiles and paper products; and also, later, as if it takes place inside Blawknox Steel: I am a kind of roving supervisor (recurrent), not really responsible for anything, but acting in name only. There is this sense that I want to work at a machine where I can be productive instead of walking around merely "supervising"; but as I watch Walt and others running machines (Walt , in particular, is running around a long production machine in his usual manic way, making adjustments, checking the quality of the work, and collecting and stacking the finished products, just barely staying ahead of the machine that delivers them), I know that working in one of these jobs is ridiculously taxing work that begs you to let your guard down for one moment so that something can go awry and cost the company lots of money in wasted raw materials; and I do not want to have to face that kind of stress, so I resign myself to "supervising," when I think, in a realization of a no-win situation, that I would also not want that additional responsibility and would like to merely work at a production job instead. [So, supervising, in this sense, is a symbol for "observing" life instead of "participating" in it. That's the message here, I think.] I walk out of the building and up a long, expansive hill (ostensibly above Blawnox toward the industrial park) along gentle (safe) cliffside roads that are almost like mere paths and into an amusement park-like area where the employees who are not working gather for recreation. Gradually, the activity/scene morphs to a mall, like in Monroeville, but with a different atmosphere, almost like East Hills, sort of deserted and passé. Steve, an old boss, who was around in attitude if not in actual imagery at the workplace, has become interested in a "project" I am pursuing. I've discovered an employee who is associating with a guy in motel-like room that is serving as his makeshift office in a strip-mall-like area off to the side of the larger mall complex. They're up to something illegal, something that is ripping off the company, but I can't figure out what it is; so we, Steve and I (although at some point Steve morphs into David Letterman), grab the guy--who is barely out of teen years, a stupid kid, really--and we intimidate him into working with us to catch the bad guy in the motel room. We wire him and send him back in to conduct his illegal business, while we sit in a car outside waiting. The bad guy, whose name is "Joey Fatone" [no recognition within the dream as to the real identity that goes with the name], accompanies our kid out of the room, heading off to do their business, and after they pass a garage where we have a microphone planted and run to truck inside the garage, we stop and arrest them. Fatone claims that we have no right to do this because he has done nothing wrong; but I walk over and open the garage door and motion to the guy in the truck to play back the tape in which we have the guy admitting to his crimes. And we acknowledge that the kid had been working with us; but then I think, I shouldn't have done that, but rather pretended to arrested the kid too, thereby protecting his identity so that we could use him later as an informer.
It's interesting that the first real (i.e., full time) job I ever had was working at Blawnox Steel during a college summer vacation; and the last job I ever had was working for a thankless company in the industrial park above the town of Blawnox, where we had moved to from the city's downtown area. There's a kind of circular symmetry to this employment pattern, almost as if it were "fated," which it seems like the dream (i.e., the unconscious mind) intended.
And, finally (I've got to awaken, get out of bed, and face the real world one of these days): I have another one of those dreams about strange rearrangements going on outside on the front street, this time having more to do with neighbors' intents than with actual construction. I wondering if these dreams mean that my attitude or orientation to the world is changing. I guess it would be, since I continue with increasing spleen to criticize and withdraw from it, thereby unwittingly taking on the attributes of it that I most vociferously complain about. It's inevitable. Awakening out of the last dream, transitioning through a hypnagogic state, I hear the words, in that way that I will sometimes hear them even when fully awake, that is, not as an auditory, but rather an internal phenomenon, "I don't do politics." Now that's a message to be remembered.