by j-a

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September 2006

Pursuing the Illusion

A derisory equivalent of the satisfaction that the order of the world failed to give him was provided for him by dreams and by creative activity. The writer, of course, has no need to refuse himself anything. For him, at least, boundaries disappear and desire can be allowed free rein. In this respect Sade is the perfect man of letters. He created a fable in order to give himself the illusion of existing.
Albert Camus, The Rebel

People misunderstand me [No! Really?] when I tell them that I no longer want to be bothered by society. When I happen to make this claim aloud, they'll say something about how everyone is dependent upon society, no matter how reclusive they may be, how no one can exist apart from society, how even when we think we exist apart from it, we really don't.

Save your breath; I already know all of that. That's not what I'm talking about. I didn't say I didn't want to participate in society or that I wasn't dependent upon it; I said I didn't want to be bothered by it. There's a difference. The time in my life has come where I want to lay back and reap the (few modest) rewards of my (albeit marginal, though it seemed way overly intense at the time) former participation.

But, I'm thinking, society is never going to leave me alone so long as I don't leave it alone; and I'm never going to do that, I intend to continue to try to reform it, however modestly and from however far behind the scenes (because social reformation is another projection: it's my own more difficult self that I want to reform; and that self-exists far behind the scenes). But, given my propensity toward wanting not to be bothered, I certainly don't need to call any more attention to myself than is already directed my way. So, my reformation attempts shoot myself in the foot (in more ways than one).

Seasonal adaptations continue to bother me too; but unlike society, I can't hide myself away from them, because they're biological. In this regard, my body doesn't care what temperature it is, only what season it is; that is, how much net daily outdoor actinic light is available. I want to remain on an even keel, always; but nature, like society, conspires against me in this desire. (In a certain sense, society is nature in disguise.)

And, more importantly, society is people (who are nature too). And people, especially "sociable" people, don't want to know who and what you really are, certainly not those people who (happen to) (think they) know you on a personal basis, and not even those few professionals who (come to) know you in the course of their work, which pre-determines how they will form their (often non-professional, prejudiced) opinions of you.

People want to know you for who and what they are; and sooner or later, you're going to let them down because, although they might think they want to know more of you because you seem to be like them, the more they get to know you, the more they will realize that you are not, because no one is like anyone when you go deep enough--until you break out of the personal and into the collective unconscious, when only those people who know themselves very well and recognize their own true inner identity will be accepting of it.

Short of that point, amid the pathologies that you hide away, you are most unique; yet far short of that area of your psychology, people will either lose interest or be frightened away, because you are just too strange, which really means that they are just too weak to face up to what they see as their own selves hiding within you--because we are all each attracted to that in others that we repress in ourselves, because as long as we can recognize that what we fear exists in someone else, then we don't have to admit the truth we work so hard to hide ourselves from.

So, when people misunderstand me, when they use their filters to hide themselves from themselves, they miss the point they set out to prove, that we are nothing apart from society. The society (you want to) think you are (a part of) is who I am inside, afraid of, because you are all too much like me.

Oh, did I upset you? Or bore you with my continuous repetition (that I like to think of more as my evolution)? Or scare you with psychoses I've uncovered? Or... All of the people who get to know me (or think they do) and then disregard me, because they don't like it that they find out that I am not what they thought I was, disturb me.

This is what I do, disturb people; so it's merely my karma that dictates that I am (to be) disturbed. This is my pursuit, to discover how it is that I am thus affected. I call this area of inquiry my "psychology"; but, although that is a conventional usage of the term, it's not quite accurate in the most scientific sense. (It's that goddammed Freud that began this particular confusion.) Psychology as a scientific pursuit is objective, and very little of that objectivity has permeated into the study of the human psyche (very little in comparison to the vast amount of pseudo-science that characterizes the fields of psychology and sociology). Truly scientific psychology has been and is being done, and not only as precise experimentation or statistical analysis. Like every other science, it also involves inductive and deductive reasoning, which can be as scientific as experiment or mathematics. And reasoning is what I do--or try to; this is my scientific pursuit, though often watered down with a lot of other non-scientific divergent interests and a lot of irrelevant and supercilious crap, which disturbs me just as much as the society of people does:

I'm outside on the street and a car pulls up and parks on the strip of land in front of my front wall. I go up to the car to berate the driver, intending to tell him how ignorant I think he is because he parks up on my lawn; but the car is not a real one, but is flat and more like a large piece of metal with a few protuberances on it, one of which is a small, clear plastic-like globe in which I imagine, like a cab, contains the driver (although it would have to be a very tiny one). But as I begin to speak to it, I discover that there is no driver in it, that it is not much more than flat metal sheet that sort of resembles a street-sized version of one of those tiny toy slot cars that race around a track, but stripped of its wheels and upper layers so that all that remains is the frame. I pick up the metal sheet (it's the size of a car) and toss it off of my property and across the street (as if it were small enough to be easily lifted), where I happen to notice that the neighbor's house looks odd. The front door is open and I feel like I can see inside far more than I normally can, although the imagery doesn't reveal this, but only that most of the living room furniture has been moved so that the room looks empty [cf., the neighbor's missing table]. Meanwhile, a girl (a woman, one of those older women in my dreams who always looks like/reminds me of a younger girl) with a jet black, fifties style hair-do has come out of the house next door (she's either a new neighbor or a white version of one of the girls who live/visit there now). She complains to me about my having thrown away her piece of metal. In a sense, this is her trash that she has put out to be collected; but in another sense it's a package she has had delivered. I start to explain how ignorant it is for people to park or put stuff on my front "lawn," but I don't continue because we find ourselves attracted to each other and so our complaints about each other hardly matter any more. [Ah, the blindness of love.] First version ending: She tells me she used to be shy when she was younger, but she has grown out of it and into a marginally sociable kind of person. [Obviously, she is me in disguise.] But she's still introverted (I understand without her having to tell me) and as reticent to get together as I am; thus, we do not get together, but only wish we would. Second version ending: She comes inside with me and we have sex, and it goes well, if initially awkwardly; but neither of us follows up. We end up living next door to each other for the rest of our lives and merely "appreciate" each other when we see one another in the street or in our yards.

This is so sad, I think, upon awakening. I feel disturbed for the rest of the day and evening. When I go to bed, I remember the dream again and begin to wonder about how I have changed over the years. I used to have narrow hips and a cowboy-like attitude, like Matthew Modine (or at least like his character in a number of his movies); but I was way too repressed back then to realize and/or take conscious advantage of my sensitive and deceptively benign appearance (which had hidden within it a certain degree of unconsciously macho and seductive charm)--although it afforded me a certain advantage nonetheless, which I unconsciously utilized to the degree that I was able in my limited sort of way. I don't like my physical self as much the way I now am; but mentally, I like myself far better. But I guess everyone is more or less plagued by one or another trade-off of that sort in life.

I fall asleep and awaken after a long evening "nap" of nearly four hours. It's a warm-cool night, not cold like last night, and not muggy hot like the late night weather of only several weeks ago (though it seems like a whole lot longer). The crickets drown out the distant traffic and the neighbors, all tucked away in their homes with their window treatments and doors closed against the night, signal the end of the outdoor season. There'll be plenty more warm days yet to come before the winter freeze; but the attitude is gone. It left me in my sleep, I think. I dreamed it away in dreams I can't remember, like George Orr in Ursula LeGuin's novel The Lathe of Heaven dreamed the aliens off the moon (and onto Earth), because the attitude exists within me, always, as a memory; and I purge it from myself only to find that it has appeared in my environment. There's something about the feeling of summer days, and especially summer nights that evokes a nostalgia that I can't quite locate in my past, as if it's a false memory, an experience I never had.

With the coming autumn, of course, comes the doubt of my existence--not that I actually doubt that I exist, but rather that I doubt my established reasons for it, which I maintain as a kind of ill-formed mental list that I could write out if I wished, but do not wish to. I awoke to this feeling and, before I got out to the kitchen to get my second cup of the day's maximum caffeine dose, the feeling nearly overwhelmed me. I want to, now, decide to change my life; but I won't, mostly because there's little hope of any change working better than what works for me now: This is it; this is the way I am supposed to be, despite the occasional (or sometimes continual) doubt and worry, etc. I wonder if, at some point in my distant future, I will decide that I am no longer going to be capable of or successful at accomplishing all of my longer-term goals and so must decide to give them up. I've wondered about this before: Will I end up in old age being one of those guys who dies besieged by his collection of junk that he values so much that he never threw it all away, and so someone must do it for him as they wonder about his quirky "junkman" habit? [It is not unlike a chemical addiction.] Or will I decide, at some point, to get rid of it all (or most of it) myself, cold turkey or gradually chipping away at it, so that my remaining years are free from the clutter of unfinished projects? It seems too final, to be throwing it all out in the trash. It's an admission that I will never get to do what I haven't yet done. There's still a lot of time, it's true. But there always has been, and it's not done yet.

The next door neighbor's car alarm goes off and disturbs the quiet neighborhood. It cycles for several minutes that seem like hours until the lights go on in his house and he sticks his hand out the door and turns it off with the remote. The mood is broken. I am now free to move on.

an advanced form of existence's all there, but garbled. That's the way your thoughts run, when you're dead; all compressed, instead of in sequence.
Philip K. Dick, "What Dead Men Say"
That's the way they run when you're alive too, if you pay close enough attention and don't allow your intellect to interfere. Embedded within much of what I write is a detailed, erratic, even confused panorama of the world, or at least as much of it as I am exposed to, in any number of different ways. This is not a conscious process, by far. I'm trying to do something else entirely, but I get lost along the way; meanwhile, I'm accomplishing something that I think may be far more profound, but I'm not too sure what it is.

The basic problem, I think, is that my difability dissuades me from sustaining a single focus, unless that focus is absolute, without any interference. In other words, I can make and execute a great plan if I can focus all of my attention on it. But I won't do that. I'll focus my attention for a short while (or even longer, certainly long enough to make a great plan), ignoring everything else in my life until something else absolutely must be done, and then I'll become distracted away from my focus and never get back to it, because some other plan (or usually more than one) will become predominant.

You'd think that, knowing this about myself, I could develop a method or procedure that would address this problem; but that would be just another plan, subject to the same "flaw" in me that causes my general inability to follow-up.

However, merely planning out in as exhaustive a way as possible contingencies against everything that might happen to me or methods and procedures for everything I imagine I might eventually accomplish can be beneficial, even if I do soon lose my focus:

1) I'll have these written paragraphs and/or outlines as evidence of my "work";

2) I'll have learned a lot about myself and the world, because this is the primary way I learn, by exhaustively pursuing a subject until I finally lose my focus;

3) This may be a step along the way to another stage in my life, because most of what I know has been learned in this way, bit-by-bit, in spurts of input/output, generating plans I hardly ever execute, but which may (or may not) become resurrected several (or many) times, until over the years I become what I planned out, by doing little more than exhaustively planning. Even the stuff that I never get back to becomes a part of my "education"; but that is a more normal phenomenon, I suspect. What may not be so normal is that all of it also becomes a part of me, in that I tend to become what I plan out and/or fantasize enough about. Everybody may do this same thing, more or less, but I suspect that they do it mostly piecemeal and without an exclusive focus, and mostly in their imaginations, while I objectify my plans externally (obsessively, in lists or prose). This may be just another example of how I take everything to extremes.

But, like all of my other problems, a lack of focus is not always a problem. At times, perhaps for long periods of time, I forget about any given "problem" I might have. Actually, my lack of focus enables this ability: Via contingency planning, I lose the focus on any given "problem" that might otherwise plague me on and on for a relatively long time; I even lose focus on my lack of focus. All of my "issues" are only issues as long as I focus on them; otherwise, who cares? So, it might seem to the casual (or even the detailed, but less discerning) observer that:

1) I am plagued with a large number of "problems," when most of them are only marginally mine, borrowed via transference and/or introjection from people I empathize with and expressed as residual effects of unconscious content that is definitely buried down there in me somewhere, but hardly an issue, being for the most part benign and all but slightly dysfunctional (without this condition, which we all have, empathy would be impossible; we each have inklings of all problems embedded within us);

2) I am not serious, I am either writing tongue-in-cheek or of myself as a character in some kind of a creative fiction, taking on roles to explicate the conditions I discover, functioning as a kind of journalist embedded within the population and reporting on the condition of the world. (None of these options are really true, I believe; but the hints exist that might suggest these possibilities to a casual observer);

3) I am a basket case, a collection of disturbances that are completely disruptive of any kind of normal state I might otherwise succeed in achieving. (This is not so true either; but it's close.)

But to the less casual observer who is blessed with a discerning and/or empathetic spirit, I may be seen for what I am: merely a slightly disabled soul caught up in the turmoil of an unfocused existence, trying to process and deal with ideas that at times can overwhelm me, perhaps not so much with their quality as with their quantity.

It's all about ideas. This is both the essence of life and the secret to the ultimate understanding of the universe. (Actually, I meant to say something else when I wrote those lines; but they seem so elegant that I'm leaving them as they are: Ideas are the secret to understanding. Well, duh!)

I consider the freedom to read and write for long periods of uninterrupted time, all but disconsidering the socially-expected "maintenance" functions (paying bills, doing yard work, etc.), as an advanced form of existence.

I want to go on with this line of thought, but another one has interrupted me and demands attention, because I am having problems with my local utility companies:

We should establish truly public utilities (like the USPS that competes with UPS, FedEx, etc.) to compete with the private ones. And then, maybe, establish public companies that compete with others businesses, in order to keep the competition real. It can't be done? Sure it can. It's illegal? You mean illegal in a way that the government subsidization of companies is not? So what if the private companies were first established to compete with the government ones? We could do it the other way round. So what if the actual public [Freudian typo on the word 'public': 'pubic'] utilities are so well-regulated that in effect they are more or less already arms of the government.

Is any of that really true? I suspect not. I'm just brainstorming, because the utilities are so rigid that they don't feel they are public. As far as they are concerned, they are private companies whose job is to make money; and the public good is a secondary concern. In other words, they don't serve the public any better than the government-run utilities that are rife with corruption and incompetence.

Of course, when I say that I focus on one problem or issue until I exhaust it, I'm ignoring the other half of this problem: my reduced ability to focus. In fact, the former exhaustive "method" is a learned reaction against the latter congential one. And, even when I'm in the former mode, I'm continually making notes here and there and everywhere to do these other things later; and then, later, I have to do the other half of my "work," which is to process those notes into some kind of more or less coherent text (which is what I'm doing now). And then there's the other other half of the problem, which has very little to do with me: interruptions:

"I've never met anyone like you."
"There is no one like me."
"The things you say are so outrageous."
"What things?"
"I just report the facts."
"I'm not sure I believe that."
"Why not?"
"Because I always think you might be lying."

I never lie. I just formulate creative fictions to get at a deeper truth that's buried beneath the surface.

That wasn't a true interruption, that was a memory interruption; but it illustrates the point about focus that I'm trying to elucidate, so I "creatively" treated it like a real interruption instead of documenting it to be dealt with later. That conversation also involved something about whether I thought I was a "real" man, which came up because I questioned her about whether she thought she was a "real" woman, which offended her. I didn't mean to offend her, of course; but I "saw" something in her that suggested to me that she might think of herself more in masculine than feminine terms.

I have this uncanny ability to find, eventually, the strangeness in people. I would attribute this ability to my education and lifelong interest in the science of psychology, and that has certainly honed the ability; but I realize, looking back to when I was young, that I had this talent all along, that, even when I was barely old enough to talk and formulate ideas, I could discern the strangeness in a person and in some rudimentary way articulate it, if only indirectly to myself in flights of imagination--although I would sometimes unwittingly reveal others' quirks to them or to third parties, until I decidedly stopped doing it after I discovered that people didn't like this so much as I might have thought they would because I wouldn't have minded if they had done it to me. The world of people is a great therapist if we will but tune into it and pay attention to what people are really telling us when they self-censor their real thoughts in favor of more sociable ones, hardly at all consciously realizing themselves what they are up to. I assumed, early on, since I enjoyed delving deeply into my own psyche, that everyone else would also and so, as I did, would welcome information about themselves that they did not know. But I soon learned to keep my damn mouth shut, eventually even when they actually said that they wanted to know about themselves. Almost to a person, people do not want to know; yet they often deceive themselves into thinking they are open-minded and introspective.

I don't consider this trait (intuition? empathy? discernment? something else?) a fault, although its expression is certainly considered that by NT people who value tact and diplomacy over "truth"; and, so, perhaps I also have adopted the opinion that to speak out indiscriminately, because you think that others will value the insight you have into them as much as you do, is some kind of personality or character flaw. I (try to) act "appropriately" because, despite the fact that I value "the truth" over what I consider to be lame "sociability," I now understand how easily I can upset people when I tell them what (I think) I know. I consider what I "know" to be an advanced form of existence; but I have to live in a real world too.

And the woman who got pissed at me for questioning her femininity (which was not at all my intent)? Well, she was lesbian, so what was I supposed to think? That she was a real woman, of course. But, cultural expectation being what it is (I should have known better, I've known a lot of lesbians), I sometimes still, despite my developed reticence to speak out, blurt out earlier conditioning that I unwittingly adopted before my powers of reason developed enough to counteract it. Maybe I do not live so advanced an existence as I want to think I do.

gender bias

I'm a man,
but I can change
if I have to,
I guess.
"The Man's Prayer"
from The Red Green Show
I'm way more hawkish than you are. It just doesn't look that way because my thinking is that if a bully punches you, you should run away. Later, when he's asleep, put a bullet in his head and leave the gun in his little brother's crib so it looks like a sibling squabble. In other words...being tough doesnt require being stupid. It's totally optional.
Scott Adams' Dilbert blog
September 07, 2006
I am not a "man" in the sense that "real men" mean it when they define themselves as such. I rejected that definition a long time ago, semi-consciously, when I was quite young. "Real men" [i.e., back-slapping, lust-filled, good old boys; I lust too, so at least some of this is a projection, which I have long recognized and so concluded that, at least in part, I fear or loath intimacy/sexual contact. This is an early orientation that I have well overcome; but the early affect was significant in the formation of my personality and froze my social reticence into place. Also relevant here is my fear of rejection, which I have not yet overcome, although I've made great strides in that direction] "macho" men, vibrant, activity-seeking sports-loving, athletic [I used to be an athlete too, though not so much for competitive purposes as for exercise ones; although I am competitive, in a passive-aggressive sort of way. This whole definition of being a different kind of man is taking on the appearance of a really big projection] men full of bullshit disgust me. [You can discern the deeply buried content of people by what they choose to complain about.]

But I am not a woman either. [The standard, superficial, cultural definition/expectation that society would have us use to define our genders is so lame; gender definition is a fluid process, a personal interpretation of standard social and historical models that continually renews itself as we increase our learning of the world and of ourselves.] I am not at all a woman, despite my strong yin tendencies, which are not female, but passive-aggressive: I wait, for you to come to me; and if you disrespect me, or dishonor me, or whatever, I will get my eventual revenge in one way or another, perhaps simply by living well, but more likely more directly, yet always in a way in which the effect is calculated to remain anonymous so that you never know from whence it came. And yet, if physically confronted and especially if threatened and, if I can't postpone any attempt to attack until I can gracefully escape it, I will defend myself effectively, usually in a verbally abusive and unconsciously creative way, but also physicially if absolutely necessary. I have gone to great lengths to learn how to do that. But that is a conscious ploy, and a last resort, and does not figure into my basic psychology of not being a "man" or a woman either.

[But you may also know the buried contents by what people try to deny. My death (of others) fantasies are evidence of my deeply buried macho tendencies]:

True liberals could never slow down the proliferation of reactionary conservatism by killing conservatives like true conservatives could slow down progress by killing liberals. If liberals would kill conservatives, they would betray their own agenda and thus become conservative themselves; just as rebels, when they win at a rebellion, become the authorities and begin the cycle of oppression and abuse all over again.

Don't worry, I'm not thinking about killing anyone, nor am I proposing it as a solution to conservative elitism. This is an idea I've been developing for a novel about a liberal idealist who kills, first several judges and congressmen, and then the president; and he gets away with it, but not really--because his actions begin the deteriorization of his idealism and he becomes like unto his nemeses.

But the mere fact that I can come up with an idea like this for a novel is disturbing.

Bobby (not his real name) is a typical macho man; or maybe he would better be described now as an ex-macho man, being retired and an alcoholic. When he's not feeling sorry for himself, he's ebullient and outgoing, totally un-self-censored; some of that is caused by the alcohol, but some of it is real, revealing the person he used to be when he was young. Today, he's drunk and complaining that no one likes him, that everyone, sooner or later, comes to the conclusion that he's not worth continuing to befriend. (The message, not so much hidden as garbled, that he's suggesting is that I will do the same thing to him, that I will not be around for much longer.) I try to console him, which goes something like this:

"There's one thing I know for sure: Everybody, when they get to know someone well enough, ends up not liking the person they get to know. And you're unfortunate, maybe, because you let people know you, when other people are more guarded and secretive about who they really are. A little bit, or a lot, of mystery goes a long way in a friendship."

He likes that idea. It really isn't much of an idea, not much more than restating the fact that nobody likes him--because it's true; even I don't like him so much any more, with his repetitive drunken histrionics--but it makes him feel good to think that ultimately nobody likes anybody and he's just like everyone else--except that he might think that he likes most people and is the exception; but it's not true: He keeps a constant eye and ear open for chinks in people's armors and when he finds them, uses them to criticize others whom the people he talking to might also criticize. He does this for the purpose of forming a mutual bond; but it backfires eventually, when they realize that he is a bundle of social criticisms waiting to express themselves, many of which he doesn't really believe, but only establishes and maintains a temporary belief for the purpose of developing a (false) rapport.

Whenever I see Bobby, Mel Gibson always comes to mind. They look similar and, apparently, they act similarly. When Mel accuses the Jews of having started all the world's wars, he's projecting. He's a Catholic, and anyone who knows anything at all about history understands what the Catholics did. Bobby is also a Catholic, also dislikes Jews (though I doubt very much that he can pick one out in a crowd nor explain exactly why it is that he dislikes them), is not so much a bigot as he is an unfortunate victim of a bad redneck culture. I dont know why he's my friend, except that I dont choose my friends so much as they choose me.

More to (one of) the point(s) here, Bobby is a misogynist, again, more out of ignorance than choice. (But isn't that the way it usually goes?) He believes himself to be a "real" man; and maybe once, a long time ago, he fit that label; but now he's just pathetic. Either you grow, develop, and advance with the times or you waste away as your ignorance eats you up. I feel sorry for Bobby, but I've given up trying to educate him or help him in any way. I like him. He's my friend. But I can't help him. No one can. Besides, I can barely live my own life now. I need all of my energy these days to maintain my own sense of self-worth. I've given up letting others drag me down into their defeatist psychologies. I choose a peaceful life instead.

suburban myths

Standing in the sun.
Been here too long.
Something like a monument.
I'm a dinosaur.
King Crimson, "Dinosaur"
This is what it's all about, sitting reading in the noonday weekday sun with a beer buzz, the peace of a late summer day soaking into me. This is what I wait for when I wait through the cold winter days and nights and parched summer droughts, this experience. No naysayer or psycho-terrorist can reach me here. The War on Terror is an urban myth anyway, and this is the suburbs.

So many times in the past I've worried about the future, only to have it turn out just rosy. Even when bad things happened, everything turned out all right in the end; and, anyway, the really bad things that happened I did not foresee. Foreseeing them, perhaps, is the first step to preventing them from happening. So, maybe, worrying is my way of determining a better future. I'm going to have to think about that idea for a while. But, right now, I prefer to think about my aliases.

I have had many aliases. [Actually, in real life, they're more like nicknames; but they serve to "identify" me to myself in a way that reveals subtle differences in the way I think and (have) relate(d) to people]. My real name is Joe Jackson, but I am not a piano man. I play the guitar. My college nickname, Shoeless, is inaccurate. I wear shoes. And I am not a baseball player. In high school I ran track. In college I ran cross-country. Both with shoes. My army nickname, Stonewall, accurately describes me, but mostly psychologically. I was not a general. I was a liaison specialist. Ironic, that; but maybe not, considering the army's seemingly infinite capacity to enable incompetence. I couldn't liaison my way out of a wet paper bag.

Well...I could, but not in any conventional way that requires social interaction. I have done that kind of thing in a mimicking sort of way; that is, I've developed the skills to do it. But the amount of mental energy I must muster to perform at that kind of social level is so overly taxing that I seldom feel the motivation to ramp it up. But on the intuitive level, I do fairly well, at least one-on-one. But I certainly would never have attempted any such thing in the army; not ever for any subsidiary of the government. Yes, you guessed it. I'm a revolutionary; but a passive-aggressive one, which is why I adopt aliases in the first place.

I write under a number of different names. It just seems natural for me to change my nominal identity when I change the nature of my material; but, I suspect, the real reason I do this lies far deeper below the surface than I am willing to dive (right now).

I feel like my life is one big lie, like I'm on some operating table in a foreign country, like Tim Robbins in Jacob's Ladder, never to awaken before I die, and all these interim mini-awakenings are mere additions to the overall illusion.

I pursue my life, continually trying to define it in a way that I can more fully understand; but I may be pursuing the illusion rather than the real thing, and my disability may delude me into thinking that this "life" I work at is reality instead.

After puzzling for a while over the question of why I feel like I need to be so at odds with everything all the time, I conclude that society doesn't really care a bit about you and you better have learned how to care for yourself, or else.

Of course I would think that. People don't care for what doesn't care for them. And when it comes right down to it, I don't care. Society has let me down; but that's because I never expected much, and got more than I expected.

Ultimately, society has let me down because I let it down. It used me for as long as I remained productive, and then, when it depleted me, it disregarded me. This is the conservative agenda in its full glory: citizens in service to (elitist) society.

I'm feeling very disabled today, though I feel no different than any other day, as physically able as always; it's a mental thing. My personal rebellion is Asperger's. I reject (or disconsider) the society that has rejected (or disconsidered) me.

I feel like I must look out for myself because no one else is going to look out for me. This is the Asperger's talking. My whole orientation, I realize, my entire outlook on life, is Asperger's. It reaches into every nook and cranny.

I feel like I shouldn't continue to fight the realization that I am the way I am and no amount of therapy or insight is going to advance me any further. I know this isn't true; but it's the way I feel. But I'm not discontent; quite the opposite.

The reverie of my mentality is broken by activity from across the street. My neighbor Tim is exiting his house, with difficulty, since he's on crutches. He damaged his leg a few weeks ago and is just starting to regain his mobility. I watch him in glances, thinking I might offer to help him if it looks like he needs it. But he seems to be doing okay on his own. Then Steve exits his house with one of his workers, heading off to a job. He sees Tim struggling down his steps and shouts out, "Hey, Tim, you don't need a hand, do you?"

Tim shouts back, "No. I need a leg."

As my friend Norm used to say all the time when we were teenagers, "Humor is where you find it."

[I told that to another friend of mine once in response to a joke she told (which she followed with an apology, because it was a bad pun, which I nevertheless laughed at) and she responded: "I pulled that one out of my ass. Still think it's funny?"]

It's true that humor is where (or how) you find it. And so is truth. I lie to myself when I seek the truth by sitting in the sun in peaceful reverie. The truth is out there. But it's subject to interpretation, which creates the myths we live with: terrorism, peace, disability, art:

a work of art

It is not the work of Baudelaire the poet that is of interest to Foucault, but the figure of Baudelaire the dandy who makes of 'his body, his behavior, his feelings and his passions, his very existence, a work of art'. As the paradigmatic modern individual, the dandy is 'the man who tries to invent himself'... To be modern is, for Foucault, to take oneself as an 'object of complex and difficult elaboration' like a work of art. What interests Foucault in this idea of an ascetic reinvention of the self are the moments when art passes over into the sphere of life. Foucault places great stress on Baudelaire's pan-aestheticism, where art no longer occupies its own private niche, but where it gives birth to lifeforms directly:
What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? ... From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think that there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art ...
It is important to note that Foucault sees this exploration of the self not as a liberation of a true or essential nature, but rather as an obligation, on the part of the individual, to face the endless task of reinventing him or herself'. Modern man' he says, 'is not the man who goes off to discover himself, his secrets and his hidden truth; he is the man who tries to invent himself. This modernity does not liberate man in his own being'; it compels him to face the task of producing himself'...
Lois McNay, Foucault and Feminism
I want to believe that art is just mimesis, that artists, even when they create themselves, copy the world that has already been copied into their own minds. Here is a different perspective: Although it's true that our minds are repositories of past and present social and cultural structures and definitions that we are so bound up in that we hardly realize we are not "ourselves," not individuals, but manifestations of social types, especially those that the power brokers wish us to be, it is also true that some of us strive to become otherwise, to be free, if only momentarily, from the ubiquitous stranglehold that we want to think that society has on us. We can, however, if we are clever enough, determined enough, and defiant enough, create not a mimesis of gender, character, and personality, but something entirely new. Art need not be limited to the (albeit somewhat unique) repetition of past forms, modified to appease the current culture. Artists can create something entirely new.

But what? It sounds true, and doable; but look at any given work of art and try to discover how it does not reflect in its totality past forms, where any new deviations are merely secondary flourishes or superfluous decorations that perhaps only so very gradually become pathways worn into the future when artists continue to mimic what they see other artists doing, incorporating "new" ideas into "their" own works of art.

But, maybe, this is the point: Change along these lines happens slowly, and culturally; but it happens. We awaken one day and say, "Hey. What's been happening here?" It's still mimesis; after all, the artists are by and large copiers of what they see, even if that is done with their own peculiar mind's eyes. But something is changing, in subtle ways; and that something is changing not only on the canvas or within the book, or within whichever medium, but also within the "performance artists" who change themselves.

My art of self-expression (my search for "identity" or "purpose" or "unity"; my desire and intent to "define" myself in the face of others attempts to define me to their own purposes) is such a creation. I am a work of art--independent of, yet paradoxically still depending upon, the separate artistic process that I practice to produce works of art external to myself, which yet feed the internal process, back and forth, as I become the art I am and then spew it back out so that others may consider it.

In certain respects, there is a congruence of aims between [Jessica] Benjamin's argument for the necessity of breaking down the dichotomized relation between freedom and dependence through an interrogation of one's accepted desires and needs, and Foucault's insistence that it is only through a reinvention of the self that the subject can experience a degree of autonomy and self-determination. The element of radical self-determination at the heart of Foucault's ethics -- what he calls the 'transfiguring play of freedom with reality' -- incorporates the idea of a destabilization of the self similar to the 'psychological death' which Benjamin sees as essential for the transformation of rationalized, orthodox political practices. For Foucault, it is not possible nowadays for ethics to be grounded in universal moral imperatives of impersonal systems of belief, given the modern disenchantment with large-scale meta-narratives such as religion or politics. Rather, ethics must be a 'practical critique', conducted at the level of the individual and taking the form of a radical self-criticism: 'Criticism is no longer going to be practiced in the search for formal structures with universal value, but rather as a historical investigation into the events that have led us to constitute ourselves and to recognize ourselves as subjects of what we are doing, thinking, saying' (Foucault 1984a: 45-6). For both Benjamin and Foucault the transformation to a more radical form of political practice is not possible without a risking of the self. In other words, a radical personal politics is still absolutely central to the success of any kind of political change at the more general level of the ordering of social relations.
Lois McNay, Foucault and Feminism
So, since this accurately describes my lifelong pursuit of 'identity' (for lack of a better word; but maybe I mean 'purpose'), I can only conclude that McNay's (and/or Benjamin's and/or Foucault's) premise that autonomy and self-determination can not (or no longer) be achieved via contrasting freedom against dependence (which is what I've always tried to do, with little satisfaction, since I recognized early on that I can do without neither), but via some path that reconciles the dichotomy.

But maybe I'm not (or at least should not be) searching for what I am (trying to broach the mysteries of those hidden levels of unconscious that I assume exist within--or without--me that might illuminate my identity, purpose, meaning, or whatever) so much as I am in the continual process of creating my (conscious) self anew out of material that perhaps doesn't really exist in the depths where I mistakenly thought I found it. I mean, it's unconscious for a reason, which is maybe not so repressed as it is exterior and introjected in the moment of artistic creation instead of having been earlier introjected and incorporated into conditioning (in either case mimesis). Or maybe I'm making it all up as I go along, in a totally creative way. Now that, if true, would be a great argument against mimesis if it could be proven, which it can't, ever, because there are no elemental components that do not look like naturally occurring ones in one form or another.

completely stranded

Despite having gotten only five hours sleep last night, I sleep for two hours and then I am wide awake at two a.m. My average daily number of hours of sleep is way down and I worry that I'm going to start getting palpitations soon. I lie in bed for an hour trying to go back to sleep, and then I decide to get up and maybe try to get some work done. At five, I go back to bed; but I'm still not sleepy, so I get up and take a bath. Then I decide that I might as well stay up until the store opens and take advantage of the first day of the sales before the crowd gobbles up all the good stuff. By eight, I'm tired as hell and don't want to go out; but I push myself to go and get it done so that I can get back home and sleep the rest of the day away and get well rested before Kill Bill comes on tv at seven in the evening, an event I've been looking forward to.

At the store, in one of the aisles, I see Lynn. I love the way she looks, all petite and Irish, and I always wish she'd talk to me; but she never does when I see her, she only barely ever acknowledges my presence, just enough to let me know that she's aware that I exist. I hurry off to get the sale items, including six pounds of cheese, individually wrapped in half-pound pieces selling at only $1 ea. And when I get to the checkout, there she is again, working the register; and she talks to me, as if she read my mind and responded.

She says something about the cheese, something about how I am like her kids. But I don't know what to say. I'm not prepared to talk to her, even though it's what I most want. I'm too wasted from lack of sleep and can't think and have been running on auto-pilot, my only goal now to get back home and get to bed. So all I can think to say in response is "I love cheese." Duh! Now she probably thinks I'm a total idiot.

She says something else, but I'm too intimidated to try too hard to continue the conversation, which is obviously as awkward for her as it is for me. But I recognize that the few things she said were designed for me to get to know her better, like she's feeding me information about herself that she thinks I need to know, like she has kids; but she doesn't wear a wedding ring, the hand on which one would have been she displays prominently while we talk. I smile at her in response, but I think she doesn't see it, since she looks at me only when I do not look at her; and vice versa. But I think she feels the smiles, because I feel hers.

But, really, despite this long-winded analysis, it was the briefest of encounters. Zip-zip and it's over and I'm on my way out the door and on my way home, wishing I had said more, but not knowing what, under the circumstances. I hope if I ever see her again, I'm in a more respondent mood; that is, I hope I'm more sociable. Now what's the chance of that?

People have said that I don't know how to deal with people--which is not true. I do know how; I just prefer not to. I went to a whole lot of trouble to learn exactly how to do it, both for business and career purposes and to "chat up" women. I just don't care to do it most of the time. Any more, I prefer not to be bothered. It's a whole lot of work for me, and if I can get away without having to do it, all the better.

But this aspect of my psychology, which is predominant, causes people to think "badly" of me, because in their "social" terms I am incompetent. What they don't understand, what they don't see about themselves, is that they don't know how to deal with (some) people either (me, for example). This is their projection as well as mine: They have a pre-judged view of me when they disconsider my disability and how I have throughout my life learned how to overcome it and yet feel too put-upon to continue to live in the way that they consider to be normal while I consider it to be too stressful.

I didn't deal well with Lynn; but, in this sense, she didn't deal very well with me either. We were awkward together, which should tell her something, I hope--just like it tells me something. But at least she tried. That's good. She should continue to try, and much harder. That's what I need people to do, continually, to get through to me. I've always been this way. (And yet, most of the friendships I've had were initiated spontaneously.) And women who try to get and keep my attention, after they succeed, usually turn me on. It almost makes me want to try back--except I know the kind of disaster I can create when I do.

But there are times, though seldom, when I feel quite responsive, communicative, and sociable. I need to meet Lynn, or anyone, during one of these times; but, then again, although we might get to know one another better and so become closer, wouldn't that just be me living a lie? No. Not really. Although it is a part of me, sociability is definitely one small aspect of my being. It'd be a partial truth; but we all live partial truths. Still, though, being sociable with someone could cause them to misconstrue who I am. And later, when they learn the truth of my reticent social nature, they may feel disappointed or misled.

But, then again, that's what human interaction is for, to learn about others and try to bridge the gulf. But then, again again, I could have passed through a lot of failed relationships because I turned out to be in others minds not what I seemed early on when they didn't know me so well. So, which is it to be, try to relate well by using all of the "tricks of the trade" or be myself and let others work at getting to know me, or not, whichever they prefer? I want to think the latter, of course. I want to believe that, if Lynn, or anyone, should work to find a way to get through to me, then, not only will she learn to deal with me on a level that is true to my predominant psychology, she will not ultimately be disappointed by having thought she knew someone different than what she expected. That's what I want to believe; but I've been wrong before, especially when it comes to social matters.

My mind is speeding along at a mile a minute from lack of sleep and half of a half a gallon of ice cream I bought at the store. It takes a great effort to settle down and finally fall into sleep:

Old workplace: Eileen [who looks a lot like Lynn] and I are running the department, harmoniously for a change, and not in that normally repetitive way, where either she will run it and I will be the token supervisor, or I will run it while she stands by. [Hmm. That latter mode may be me intuiting the way she saw it (though it wasn't really true in my mind; I preferred that she carried the burden of employee interaction while I stood off and masterminded the strategy and procedures). But if she felt like and regretted that she had to play second fiddle to me (which would have been entirely proper in our circumstances), then my unconscious mind may be playing with this relationship over a long series of dreams, trying to inform me of what had been going on then. (She doesn't like authority any more than I do.) It's a theory, and a bit too complicated for me to entertain right now, or maybe forever--because my unconscious mind should make itself clearer. I'm tired of trying to figure it out. If it reallywants me to know something, it should tell me directly. I'm tired of the games it plays with me. (I'm tired of the games I play with myself.)] Milliken shows up. [This is recurrent. What does it mean?] db (who has been there all along, but I didn't notice) and I have to get home and so I carry her (I don't know why; did I "carry" her when we were together? I don't think so--maybe, in some ways, when I worked nights while she attended college, which I drove her to in the morning and slept in the van waiting for her to return, etc; but in other--social--ways, she "carried" me. It occurs to me that db in dreams might be my disabled self) on my back out Second Ave. toward Hazelwood. But we "find" an old, gray and maroon, beat-up car, one of those big boats from the 70s. I think it's not going to make it all the way home; but then I think that it probably will, that it isn't the best transportation we could have, but it's adequate. I interpret the old car to be my way of relating to the world. It's barely adequate, but it gets me by and keeps me from being completely stranded. I feel lucky that I remembered that dream, because I fell back into sleep and awoke unable to remember the later dreams, which were profuse, I know. Even though I can't remember them, I retain their feeling, which conjures up more worldy worries:

mortal thoughts

If I have seventeen years left in my life (which takes me to the age when my father died), well, that's not so much, is it? But it's five years longer than the length of time since I worked at my last job, and that seems like such a long time. And it's the same length of time as between the end of that last job and when I met my ex-wife for the first time; and that was a very long time ago.

But if I should happen to live until the age of ninety-four, which is not inconceivable, considering the fact that I live an entirely different style of life than my father did, then that is nearly as long as my entire life up until the time I got out of the army, or the length of time from when I finally graduated from college until now; and that is a really long time.

And if I should happen to reach my goal of one-hundred and eleven (so that I may witness the actual End of Days, which according to one seer will occur in that year; or so that I will know once and for all that all prophecy is crap), that is again an additional seventeen years beyond the not inconceivable thirty-four; and long enough that I, now, should not yet worry about my death one single bit.

I think this way from time to time about my mortality, this time occasioned by awakening out of a dream that I can't remember. Something must be going on in those dreams that causes me to think this way. But, mostly when I do happen to remember them, the dreams are only ordinary after all, and I can see no causal connection and no reason why I should have to worry; but I do.

And yet, if I have to live for fifty more years with the attitude I now have, which has been fairly consistent for over a year now despite several short respites, I don't know if will be able to do it.

I've been this way all of my life; but as I age I become increasingly aware of the attitude that in my childhood and young adulthood was all but unconscious and thus non-affective.

I do, however, have every hope and dream that the attitude will change, if not permanently, then at least for a few long periods of time (because that's the way it's always been until very recently).

I take a nap and awaken out of another dream. It's been a while since I felt compelled to write out a dream for strictly therapeutic purposes (as opposed to writing them for entertainment and/or ego reasons): db and I are living in a small house up on Bolte Drive, up near the end of the road. We're having some kind of a problem, something very vaguely to do with non-descript neighbors and/or some other social problem [socialization?], and we have to go and spend a weekend in New Kensington--although not necessarily in anyway related to the problem we're having. When we return, we discover that the house has been leveled and the ground excavated--and also that of the neighbors on either side of us. Nothing remains, and we learn from an unknown source (but as if it were an imageless township agent) that none of the contents of the house were preserved because our next of kin, my mother, approved its removal and destruction. We walk down to my mother's house (I don't know why we didn't drive) to confront her. She's in the back room with my father, ostensibly taking care of him. She waves off our concerns, saying that none of our stuff was worth anything anyway. I become irate. I tell her off. It becomes apparent that she's been drinking and in fact is pretty far gone into the later stages of alcoholism. I don't know what I'm going to do without the support of my home and its contents. We decide that we will have to move in with my mom and dad. When she's out, I take the tv and sell it for some ready cash. And I have her committed for rehab, although I don't tell her that it's only for a month. She's taken away thinking she's leaving forever. Dad worries about who is going to take care of him now. I tell him that she never really took care of him anyway because she was drunk all the time.

This dream is so unlike reality that I have to look elsewhere for its meaning. Mom was in no way ever incapacitated by alcohol. That was Dad's problem. And there's no way that she would ever have allowed the township to destroy my house; in fact, she would have done everything in her power to postpone any action until I was available. She always looked out for me in every way that she knew how and was able to. And, in fact, she did take care of Dad; and, being an invalid confined to first a wheelchair and then to bed, he would have been physically unable to survive without her.

So, Dad's worry in the dream re who's going to take care of him would have been a very real concern of his (that part is like reality); and it is my own concern as well because, although no one takes care of me (that's the way I want it, not because that's the way I really want it, but because that's the way I feel that I must be), my house and my possessions serve this psychological function. (My house and my mother in the dream are the same function: both let me down.)

In the dream, there is not even a thought of me having any money in the bank, which in reality is my primary source of "care," the house and its possessions being those items having been purchased with the money I've earned and saved and representing an ease of life that I could replicate to a functional degree in any emergency if I had to by spending the money I have saved.

But it wouldn't be the same, of course, it would be a far sparser existence because somewhere around half of my possessions are un-replicative "junk" that I keep around as a "hedge" or for sentimental and/or "artistic" reasons. And half of the remaining half, although convenient, is stuff I could do without--leaving only about a quarter of the contents of my home being fairly essential. Still, though, even losing that 25% would be devastating to me and require a lot of time and energy to replace.

In the dream, this replacement takes the form of the idea, brief in its passing, that I will have to go through the noxious ordeal of going out and getting a job again. I'm sure that I must have felt this way about employment when I was young, before I amassed my small "fortune," but I can't quite remember; but what I do remember is the uncommunicated travail I experienced at having to go on interviews and starting a new job.

So it's obvious to me now how the money I've saved is a hedge against having to relive that experience. This was only a nebulous idea of mine at the time when I was working long hours and enduring fools as I accumulated the money I was investing, but I'm certain that in my semi-conscious wisdom, I was preparing for this present time in my life when I would be less able and/or less willing to endure the search for and slog of employment.

But the primary focus of the dream, the singular impact of it on me, is the anger I felt. Since it's obvious that it's misplaced when being directed at my (real) mother, the mother in the dream must be an object relations figure, a representation of how I felt toward her very early on when she deprived me of...whatever--attention, I suppose; she's the mother who rejected me, momentarily in real life, but permanently within my own psyche. I rail against the hurt of rejection, which I repress and turn into the anger in the dream, which in real life I continue to repress, causing the guilt I feel at being unable to perform "socially" (work at a job, socialize, etc.) And, although I have been rather successful, via my various cognitive mechanisms, at repressing the guilt [which, unlike the anger, I seldom feel and only then in its very weakest form (guilt is represed anger)] directed rationally (i.e., in a reasoned though usually polemical manner) at authoritarian figures (law enforcement figures and politicians mostly), I will feel it from time to time.

This is such a waste of time, all of these layers of repression, trying to dredge it all up and figure it all out and taking the time to write it all down. But what else have I got to do? If this is not my purpose in life, to ferret out this unconscious material, then what is?

The "guilt" seems to me to be advising me (erroneously, I want to think) that I must not waste time; or, more accurately, wasting time makes me feel guilty; or, even more accurately, I feel guilty and blame it on wasted time. I feel like I must make productive use of every single minute, which of course I do not; I often choose not to listen to the guilt--which is the further layer of repression that causes the "depression" (with all of the same qualifications here as above). This "productive" attitude is one that I acquired somewhat later in life, as a consequence of learned behavior "on the job" as I recognized the importance of being among the best of the employees, initially production and quality-wise, and later re attitude as I developed the knowledge about what employers expect from their good little proletariats; and as a result of acquiring the tools to become increasingly productive, physically and mentally. (Anxiety, about doing a good job, or about anything else, made me want to become and remain productive; this affect was always with me in school when I tried to do good work and get good grades; but having been blessed with a good mind, I didn't have to work all that hard, as did, for example, my sister, who busted her ass, studying late into the night, which she will still occasionally point out to me for some, I'm certain, repressed reason of her own.) I'm still working at trying to undo this production indoctrination; but it's proving so resistant that I'm amazed that it is not childhood programming. As kid and teenager, and throughout my college years, I could have cared less that I was wasting time, that I was unproductive; that is, the idea never entered my mind that I "should" feel guilty about it. [In many of my more elaborate fantasies, precise production figures predominantly.]

Of course, a current analysis informs me that operant conditioning in adulthood is every bit as powerful as childhood programming (Freudian, I want to think; but that too is operant at the conditioning level). I would establish conditioning routines to counteract these "repressive" ones if I didn't believe that, instead of resulting in the displacement of the latter, they'd simply set up conflicting patterns that would only complicate the issues (especially since they are all tied in with the Asperger's). It's better, I think, to continue on with the psychoanalytic-like therapy that provides insights. It may be less immediate (if I may qualify immediacy in that way), but it is far more viscerally satisfying, at least in these moments when the insights rise to the surface and become quite clear. (Would that the clarity remained.)

Meanwhile, wasting time continues, guiltily or not. The guilt I will just have to deal with as best I can to prevent slipping into a depressive state (depression is repressed guilt); but it seems like such a sin to waste the wasted time. (Hmm. This is just more of the same guilt. I better be careful here.) Time is never wasted, really. First of all, at the ultimate level (if I may classify ultimate as a level), time is an illusion; so there is no real need, when wasting it, either to feel guilty or productive. If ten or twenty years go by and I have done nothing "worthwhile," so be it. But at a lower (or higher) level, where the "real" world operations (illusion) occur, wasted time can be used "productively." (Is there no escape?) Tuning in to the "now" state, I postulate, is the best way (I both theorize and read about) to spend my "free" time. (All time, to the extent that it exists, is free; it is only human choice that is restricted.) In meditation I know this freedom intimately. It is outside of meditation that I experience the problems. It follows logically, then, that meditation should be maximized; and this is exactly the conclusion that gurus come to as they sit for hours, days, and even weeks or months or years on mountaintops--or wherever it is they choose to sit; because place in this situation becomes irrelevant, except that they may remain undisturbed, which, ideally, if they are able to maintain the meditative state, could be anywhere.

I, however, want my meditation to mesh with the material world. Though this may be an impossible goal, at least at my lesser stage of development, I want to breeze through an ordinary, day to day existence, tuned in to a cosmic now state without having to go through the "ritual" of "just sitting." It doesn't work, of course; but it's what I want. And therein lies the problem. If I could just stop wanting, I could waste all the time I wanted (whoops)...I could waste all of my time--or as much of it as the real world of illusion allowed me (which, I'm discovering as I've begun documenting how much truly free time I actually have, is turning out to be quite significant, more of it than not)--by "tuning into the now" and doing whatever I "need" to do (or not, but just sitting) without becoming attached to either the activity or the results.

But the problem is this: If I am able to detach myself from the results, then why do the activity? (So, just sitting seems to be preferable after all.) But if I do choose activity (which is only practical; some things "must" be done), in order to achieve this state within "reality," I think I'm going to have to turn off the tv. Maybe even throw it out. (It's one of those possessions that, if I thought about it earlier when I had that "anger" dream, I would have said was, although not essential, within the 25% replacable items category.) Enough.

But, of course, it is not enough. Even when it is too much, it's never enough. It goes on and on and I can't stop it. I stop it for a few hours by going to sleep, but them I start to dream. And when I'm not dreaming... The other way that I do therapy is via associative take-offs, not from dreams, but from others' writings:

...a fixed gender premised on the idea that 'everyone has a deep sense of self which is constituted in early childhood through interaction with one's primary parent and which remains relatively constant thereafter'... This gendered deep sense of self continues through adult life and cuts across divisions of class, race, ethnicity, etc.

The criticism that object relations theorists...produce an ahistorical and over-stable conception of the subject, is made not just by historical materialists, but also from a different perspective by post-Lacanian theorists. Jacqueline Rose, for example, argues that object relation theorists fail to account for the unconscious and for the radical discontinuities which characterize the psyche prior to the formation of the ego and a distinct and separate sense of self. By claiming that certain kinds of identifications are primary, object relations theorists make the life of the infant primary to psychic development itself, conflating the psyche with the ego and relegating the unconscious to a less significant role. Lacanian theorists insist on the unconscious as a source of discontinuous and chaotic drives which render the ego a perpetually unstable phenomenon, resting upon a primary repression of unconscious drives which return to undermine the ostensible unity of the ego.

Lois McNay, Foucault and Feminism
Hmm. This may be true; but I wonder. I wish McNay had presented some thorough evidence for this claim. It seems to me that this is one of those attempts that feminists (and others) make to disguise and try to render irrelevant the theory that asserts that we relate to people with the same dynamics that we learned while relating to our mothers and fathers, behavior that encompasses even (or especially) the difficult areas of sex and marriage. And yet it is unnecessary to McNay's basic thesis that gender is not a fixed male or female construction, because we can mediate the standard Oedipal complex with many different kinds of object relations options and even refute, if we wish, the Oedipal complex by replacing it with any number of other theories without deconstructing an object relations approach. McNay, I think, objects to the idea of a fixed world-orientation formed in early childhood because she believes that it disallows later gender choices other than the traditional and stereotypical "male" and "female." But I don't believe that it does. Despite our being "fixed" within an orientation (generally, and not restricted to a sexual or gender orientation) early in life, we may yet (unconsciously or semi-consciously) experiment with our gender as adults. How we relate to others, though fixed, leaves room for maneuver, especially when we learn to override, however temporarily short or long term, our basic orientation. We can adopt overlying conflicting identities (in addition to ones we may have fixed early on) and still remain fixed in the one single (although significantly complex, allowing conflict within the primal self--though not necessarily) orientation set that we revert to when life becomes too stressful to maintain our adult constructions. People behave in this way all the time. In fact, I believe that this is our biggest task in life, to overcome our basic childhood orientation and sustain the alternatives we create. This is what I mean by maturation, substituting, however tentatively, a learned set of behaviors and identities (whether sexual or gender related, or other) for our primary one(s). It is unnecessary and counterproductive to deny or downplay a primary orientation (if this is what McNay is trying to do) in order to explain the ability to choose as adults. Creation of identity, although extremely difficult in the face of a fixed primal identity, is possible. It's not an easy activity for a very good reason. It requires a dedication of purpose, even when that purpose is unconscious. (It may be an easier feat to perform unconsciously, when the ego can choose the end result it desires or is merely attracted to and allow the choices made toward that end to be made far below the surface.) [A very similar argument can be made against those who would deny "instinctual" (i.e. archetypal) responses.]

Or else, I see all of this through my own peculiar filters (being so fluid within that I change readily back and forth between various sets of traits and flaws) so that I recognize in others that which I myself am (projection) and others may just actually be far more rigid than I could ever know. I'm not sure. I'm not even sure I want to know.

an acceptable means

You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.
Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men
Most people don't really want to know the truth. They think they do, until they hear it, and then they deny it; and the more vehemently they deny it, the more likely it is to be true. "Truth" is never actually the absolute that it is usually claimed to be, but only relative to the specific matter at hand. And nowhere does the truth demand absolute status than in religion. And nowhere does truth catch people up more than when religious fanatics claim it:

The Pope, in perhaps a cleverly academic manner and under the guise of an erudite forum, obliquely calls Islam evil. And Islamic radicals, rather than objecting in a rational and socially responsible way (as some Muslims do, demanding an apology), burn Christian churches in Palestine, thereby proving the Pope's contention. You'd think they'd be smarter than that. But why should they be? Christians aren't. And neither are the Jews, although they tend to be much better at controlling themselves, having a long heritage of required patience.

There is a large contingent of any group, religious or otherwise, who are dumber than dogshit and continue to shoot themselves in the feet (and sometimes in their heads, and sometimes in other people's heads) while their responsible leaders try to repair the damage they do.

Did the Pope do this on purpose? Or was it truly, as the some of the pundits in the mainstream news claim, a simple blunder. Did he really not expect a reaction? Or is that what he wanted, to focus world attention on the problem in the same way that Israel focused the world's attention on the Hezbollah and forced the U.N. to intervene?

And anyway, how come people always have to end up apologizing for having spoken the truth? Because the truth hurts, I guess. And we should not be running around disturbing people with truth they cannot handle. What the Pope should have made crystal clear, if he had really wanted to try to mediate any negative Islamic reaction, is that some Christians of the past were as evil as some Islamists were, and perhaps more so. Although I'm sure his point (or the point of the person he was quoting) would have been that Christianity was not founded as an evil, but only became corrupted later on. Yeah, later on, when the "church" ceased functioning as a truly spiritual experience and was usurped by politicians who used it as a means of controlling masses of world citizens. Same evil, different religion.

So, maybe, after all, the Pope was acting naively, or, at best, obliviously toward Islamic reaction, believing himself to be isolated from world opinion in his conclave. Maybe he's just too much of an egghead to be effective as a world leader. But, then again, maybe religious people shouldn't be world leaders. That's my fallback position.

I'm (sort of) a Buddhist, but I'm pretty sure I don't believe in most of the standard Buddhist teachings, especially reincarnation (although I do hold in reserve the possibility of some esoteric theory of its functioning in some way related to the extra dimensions of String Theory and its related theories). [I do not believe in the "supernatural" (by which term I mean a realm beyond world of ordinary nature); however, I do believe that there may be many unexplained and even unrecognized phenomena that have not yet been addressed through scientific inquiry; and much of what is now labeled as "supernatural" may fall into this category.] Zen Buddhism comes closer for me than any other religion to recognizing, without dogmatizing it, a "spiritual" realm existing within the natural world in such a way so as not to impose upon nature a supernatural dimension. [The extra "folded up" dimensions of String Theory, if that is where "supernatural" forces dwell, would be real world places and thus they and their resident forces would be natural, not supernatural.] And since I'm not really an atheist, because I harbor this tiny haunt that something must have started all this into motion, that an "intelligence" of some kind may have caused the big bang, or at least, some force external to this universe, perhaps existing in a parallel one; and, although I have to admit that I do not know, yet I can't bring myself to label myself as an agnostic, because I understand that I don't know enough even to say that I'm not sure [I suspect that we humans in our present state of knowledge and evolution are incapable of understanding the ultimate truth of the universe and what appear to be to us "spiritual" phenomena (which is why we believe them to be spiritual in the first place, because we do not understand); therefore, to claim that I am agnostic would be a step too far because it implies that I might be capable of belief were I to suspend my disbelief and accept the existence of a spiritual realm on "faith," which, being a scientist, is something I will not do--better, I think, to demure and wait for the science to be made clear, if it ever will], I am left out here in the cold, harsh regions of a metaphorical, scientific space, absent of any kind of extra-personal aid (even that of other frail humans like myself, although that condition is of a different cause and perhaps ameliorable, possibly via a yet-unknown therapy I may explore to provide myself some "security," but not immediately germane to this particular line of inquiry). And since a basic "belief" in Zen (it's not really a belief; it's more like an hypothesis) negates enough of the "spirituality" of religion that I have come to understand as illusion, I choose to say I'm a Buddhist.

[Actually, I draw my "religious" "beliefs" from all religions, as I discover ideas in them that appeal to me, without becoming an adherent to any single religion, because when you accept anything on blind faith, you leave yourself wide open to error and manipulation; and also because any religion that professes beliefs that conflict with beliefs professed by another religion does not, by definition, have access to absolute truth, which has no antithesis; and, since it is the nature of the human mind that it understands (rationally; I do not rule out a non-rational understanding, though I don't believe that science or philosophy has adequately demonstrated that this exists) via comparing and contrasting categories and antithesis is essential in this process, I suspect that humans will never be capable of comprehending absolute truth if it happens to exist.]

However, if it's a possibility that God, or some intelligence, dwells within or among the extra dimensions proposed by String Theory, then why not "pray" to it. So long as I don't get too caught up in the practice and start "believing" fervently in its existence so as to develop a "faith" in it and so never doubt it and perhaps thereafter begin to proselytize the "theory," then why not look to a proposed possibility of extra-dimensional "power(s)" as a source of "energy" and comfort? If it is only a convenient illusion, a way of directing entreaties via a circuitous route back into my own unconscious mind, what's the harm--as long as I continue to recognize the method for the tentative practice that it is? It would certainly be no different than current religious practice, and would be a bit more intelligent since it is based upon the most advanced scientific theories available. This might be an acceptable means of amelioration of some of my psychological difficulties--as long as I am able to keep continually in mind that it is not a definitive reality, but an hypothesis that must give way to modification or replacement the moment that scientific advances indicate that it is not the literal truth. (This is the problem with all religion: Over time, wonder at the ineffable becomes dogma as new adherents who do not feel the "power" are required to have "faith" as a substitute for "spiritual" experience.)

To this tentative end, then, I ask the intelligence that may reside all around me within the tiny folds of cosmic fabric that we have not the ability to perceive, and especially that same intelligence folded into the unknown areas of my own "mind" (which power I often feel and occasionally get a glimpse of insight into) to intercede on my behalf with the world to make my life proceed in peace and harmony, enabling me to avoid the pitfalls that my flawed personality (and we all have flaws of one sort or another) in its blind efforts and ambitions typically engenders, and to eliminate ahead of their occurrence the negative consequences that other people, an indifferent world order, and my own self would otherwise cause to beleaguer me.

Next, since I feel this propensity toward a kind of suspension of disbelief, and since I'm positing the existence of an extra-dimensional "power" anyway, I might as well throw in a few spiritual entities (e.g., angels) and what-not. The existence of principalities is a short step beyond the proposal of the existence of "forces" (or is the same damn thing, personified; this also gives rise to the possibility of evil forces or emissaries of "Satan"). Connections between "elementals" [I'm thinking of physical elementals here, such as electrons, protons, tachyons, et al.; but it's not too much of a stretch to extend this, at least as a metaphor, to the occult definitions] can exist, not only within the extra dimensions, forming "entities" of force, but also between them and the "external" (internal and external are metaphors, since physical reality, even when considering the dimensions beyond the four of classical physics, is continuous) dimensions that we are intimately familiar with. [These forces are called 'familiars' in occult writings; here, in our "real" four-dimensional world, our ordinary everyday familiars are the forces of what we think of as "reality": gravity, EMF, and the weak and strong nuclear forces; although those latter two are not generally known per se, their effects are so familiar to us that, unless we are privy to a relatively advanced physical education, we disconsider them and focus on their gross effects. The same is true to a far lesser extent re EMF. And the same argument can be made for gravity, since even advanced scientists aren't exactly sure what "causes" it and must merely theorize. But, commonly, we do not question gravity at all in any way that, although we are familiar with their gross effects, we might as laymen question the existence of the nuclear forces or even in extreme cases EMF--because we all fall down.]

So, the connections "within" the extra dimensions act universally in all dimensions, although unlike those familiars in our standard 4D reality, their effects are "unobserved." (We may actually observe their effects grossly and yet remain totally unaware of the source since we implicitly take the effects so much for granted that we don't realize, except in very rare cases, that any activity at all is transpiring. We do not, cannot, know what (if anything) functions within the folded-up dimensions, and they become a "spiritual" movie screen onto which we may project our unconscious contents. And this is the whole point: getting the power that I know resides "within" me, but am not quite able to harness (which I conventionally label as my unconscious mind), to act on my behalf (in a positive way, of course; I don't want to become a tragic Faustus character) and thus enable talents and resources that I have yet hardly tapped.

The universe is my constant friend and companion. It comforts me without reserve when I ask for comfort. It counsels me, often even when I don't request its counsel. I feel good when I realize that I am constantly within its embrace. Aware of its nurturance and guidance, no bad thing can happen to me. It is my protector and my strength. Since it functions rather well within me psychologically, I think it may be time to take the next step and request its aid in establishing real-world results beyond the membrane that separates my innards from the rest of universe.

Armed with this new strategy and tactic, I am prepared for coming events (which may be causing me anxiety); the future can be thought of in a different way: Events that I may be worried about facing are opportunities to resolve the anxiety and any problems that are associated with it. In this sense, I may wish to advance their onset in order to head off anxiety and other consequences; but, if I cannot get to them sooner, if they are fixed in time, then I may wish to anticipate them via planned actions that may be appropriate when the time arrives, and think of their approach in this new way, as opportunities and/or resolutions, all with the help of the new powers I have "discovered," which await my requests for a more masterful application of comfort and assurance.

I consider my existence within the universe as my most basic human right, and when my existence seems to me to be threatened, even merely by blind natural forces that are totally independent of the human realm, I seek out the understanding that the universe also provides resolution of the threat, equally independent of the human realm; i.e., the universe will never let me down (like people often will) if I will but appeal to it (per the above described technique). It will provide me the knowledge and the wherewithal to cope if I will but ask. Though I rarely resort to this tactic (i.e., conscious; unconsciously, I do it all the time), I know that this is true; I've seen how this has operated throughout my life to keep me safe and free from harm (in a relative way, because it will balance its resources between protection and education, disturbing me enough to wake me up to what it is that I do that causes me problems in the first place).

[I divorce the natural from the human here to make this point as absolute as I can, understanding that it is an artifical division. We are far more commonly threatened by mankind than by nature (at least I am); yet nature, when it threatens, can be a far harsher experience. So if I can "weather" natural threat (e.g., freezing to death, unprotected in the winter), then I can learn to handle that other natural threat, human interaction (manipulation). And, in any case, mankind builds into society a balance against its threat to the individual through its nurturance of same against the harsh reality of non-human nature, at least in theory (though some of us more than others are more likely recipients of this nurturance).]

Human rights, in this sense, is a far broader issue than how we interact among individuals within and between cultures. Before we consider how our rights are violated by other humans, we must consider how non-human nature would violate them. Thus informed, it seems to me that it should be easier to demand our rights from other humans, especially those who represent governmental and societal entities; because, if we have, by definition, the basic right to exist (which should be quite evident, seeing as how we already do, since the universe has chosen to put us here), then who are other people to deny us our universal heritage, their claim to interference being secondary?

more basic rights

Human rights doesn't mean only the right to be free of genocide, oppression, hunger, exposure, and the like; it also means freedom from having bombs dropped on you or bullets shot into your home--no matter who is doing these things to you for whatever reason. Governments that do these things are not guarantors of human rights, no matter how much "good" they may otherwise do.

Human rights are not a matter of degree in this sense, although we may come to believe this since we cannot seem to manage them adequately across the globe or even within our own country and so feel we must settle for compromise advancements. Which brings us to the salient point: It is not the business of any single country to manage human rights outside its own country; any single country has a difficult enough time managing its own human rights.

But, in another sense, human rights is a matter of degree: As we advance as an intelligent and conscious species, we add specific rights to the list; and as we do, governments that once seemed liberal start to look increasingly oppressive. This is what's happening now to the U.S. in world opinion. And the world is not wrong on this point.

We have to distinguish between the world as a whole and separate segments of it, the smaller the segment, the less credibility; because the unconscious nature of the universe derives its wisdom from the sum of its parts, each small increment adding its small bit of wisdom to the whole, which sums up intelligence and averages out differences until it arrives at the best possible answer that fits the situation. Done unconsciously, this is a foolproof process. The problems arise when, trying to control it consciously, egos interfere. This is what happens to religions:

The problem with religion is that it just doesn't make too much sense. As lessons on morality, religions do a fairly good job (unless radical zealots twist the interpretations; but that doesn't really have anything to do with the religions, but with the twisted nature of the zealots); but (more or less) rational morality lessons are not the primary function of religion, which acts as a mere socio-cultural institution in this area. As for religions' primary function, to enable an experience and proffer a tentative (all religions lag far behind scientific fact and theory) explanation of the ineffable, modern religions have lost their purpose, which was to get into "touch" with the "spirit".

Pagans as well as the early Christians (and most other religions of the more distant past) understood, at least in their initial stages, the ineffable nature of the object (or field) of religious "worship"; they felt it, as if it acted from without. (In reality, it acted within, psychologically, and the experience was a projection.) This ineffable experience still exists in some religious adherents today; but I propose that it is exactly when religion becomes divorced from this experience that the social and political problems begin. People who experience their religion, although they may want to share that experience, do not insist that it become the controlling factor of society and government. They tend to feel empowered by their spiritual experience and so tend not to seek power within society, at least not excessive power, because they more readily are able to separate their material and spiritual worlds. Rather, it is the people who do not have access to this "power" who seek to impose a different, more material, kind of power upon others. When we feel the ineffable power of the universe, we feel far less of a need to wield personal power of our own within a socio-political system.

I know that when I start to express ideas like these I have re the ineffability of the universe, I am often considered not normal; But labeling people as 'normal' in this society is just another way of saying they're 'repressive'. When you choose (and it is a choice, albeit an unconscious one) to adhere to restrictive social standards of perception, you exclude vast realms of data and interpretation from your perceptive repertoire. Yet this adaptive, since alternate awareness can make you paranoid when you begin to see connections behind "ordinary" phenomena that, in our common perception, we tend to think of as discrete and separate processes; in other words, "truth" has a price, and sometimes that price is the recognition that you are out here all alone, which tends to make you fearful.

But I'm not afraid of the person who might reject my difference (or anybody else) for whatever reason and to whatever effect. This is not the problem. I can be(come) "afraid" of object relations rejection. But I can choose to face and deal with people as an adult, despite how they may act, and refuse to deal with them a la object relations; or, at worst, I can act the role, like an actor would (until, a la George Washington's philosophy, I internalize the change as habit.) To this end, I rely on inspiration and aid from an ineffable 'network'. I feel the power: "God" (the universe) gives me free water to reduce my water bill and free wood to heat my cold house. "Angels" (unconscious processes) guide my actions, especially within society (cf., the Avenging Angel Syndrome), and, in conjunction with my personality, "charm" people. This same universe can make my car last as long as possible and motivate me to fix and use my motorcycle and bicycles. Its the same thing (the same motive) as saving rainwater. "God" and/or "angels" or "spirits" or "network" or "field" get me out walking, protect me, and make me look admirable while doing it. The same is true of doing without home insurance, life insurance, not spending money on fixing the front steps and walls, wearing old clothing instead of buying new, etc. It's all a hedge, nothing more; the same as all religion is a hedge against the fact that all life ends and lifeforms that are conscious don't at all like it so they create the myth of an afterlife and call it a religion.

Ideas pile up, one after another, preventing me from sleeping, interrupting my peace of mind to force me to write them down, here's another: If I don't get enough sleep, it's hardly important that anything else gets done--except emergencies and things I absolutely "must" do, of course. When this phenomenon occurs, it makes me feel like Paul Newman in Slap Shot, plodding along, going through the motions, trying to get a few hours of sleep without being interrupted; except that my interruptions are mostly caused by my own mind. But I must take care of myself, above almost all else. This is the greatest disadvantage of mania, health concerns. The advantage is that with lack of sleep my thoughts begin to speed and I at least seem more productive. The illusion of even a false perception is like a religious experience.

looking back ahead

I have to break this cycle of negative (depressive) thought [interesting that my thoughts can be "depressive" during a bout of mania] that I counteract with the alternative "power of positive thinking" (writing, which I call cognitive therapy). Typically, I do this by (finally) getting enough sleep (and dreaming) and then awakening to write out the dreams, which I imagine provide the answers that I, refreshed, conjure up as my creative thoughts. Or maybe the dreams really are directly responsible for the "answers". Dreaming is important to me as at the least a motivational factor--not necessarily for the actual imagery and ideas that it creates as much as for the "change of mind" it seems to impart, when I awaken in a different world as a result of what it was I had dreamed (up).

I go to bed and dream a dream that I forget as soon as I awaken. I hate it when I do that, when my waking mind, as a result of the motivation provided by the dream imagery, goes off on a tangent and conjures up some great ideas and plans of action, but in the process lets go of the dream so that I can't re-remember it. All I can remember of the dream is that, in it, I was a teenager--which is what I started thinking about instead of the dream:

When I was young, if I would have been able to look ahead and see what my life would be like later, I would have been so motivated. I never much thought about my future when I was a teenager, I never much cared what it was that I would do and what I would become, I was far too concerned with what I was in the present, too worried about how I would negotiate the difficult social and cultural situations that I found to be so awkward; but if I had only known how my (self-)negotiations (psycholoical self-manipulations to create a persona to deal with social interactions) would pay off, how "cool" I would end up being, riding motorcycles and customizing vans to use as temporary homes, camping in the national forests, generally acting like a badass, I would have been so much more contented with myself. [On the other hand, if I were more contented, I might not have struggled so hard to change.]

When I think back to the way I was when I was young, I have to think that I was very strange. At the time, I felt that I was perfectly normal; but, when I consider that I always feel "normal" about who I am at any given time (that is, I never feel like what I am is strange from my own point of view, but only realize how strange I might be when I force myself out of my head and into the POV of someone else), then I can only conclude that I am strange even now; or especially now, given my long history of strangeness. I'm well aware that people, when they hear (of) my ideas but lack the background that I have, the missing logic that they do not see and that I most often do not care enough to provide (true, detailed communication is a whole lot of work), think, sometimes at least, that I'm crazy.

The only people who might not think I'm strange are those who are even crazier than I am. This is not to say that I myself think I am crazy. I know I am quite sane--legally. But if insanity is perceiving the universe in a way that is not consensually valid, then, despite my ability to understand the way that "normal" people perceive, I am quite insane; because I do not at all operate from a conventional mindset. I still expect, like I did when I was a kid, to see magic happen; although my definition of magic has changed quite a lot and has more to do today with advanced physics and cosmology and the amazing ability of the human mind to get outside itself and examine its own psychology. And seldom is this examination more profound than in dreams.

When I dream, usually I'm young; that is, I never see or feel myself as old as I am, and often I experience myself as a teenager or very young adult. And my fantasies always revolve around a younger period of my life, real or imagined. But I can't decide if this is the expression of a desire to be young again, or if it means that I never really grew up; both, probably.

I look at my current life from the eyes/mind of a teenager. And I (still) think and sometimes do "crazy" things. That, I suspect, is more a function of the Asperger's than anything to do with my mental age: I'm not really crazy; it's just that the disability, by virtue of its inclination toward (seemingly) inappropriate (out of context) remarks in conversation, makes me appear at times to be a little bit nuts, or insensitive, or "out of it." It's not really true. Most of the time, the remarks are exactly appropriate, but a medial logic goes unexpressed and, being non-typical of conventional thinking, is not understood by my auditors.

Two additional symptoms of Asperger's that I've happened across: disruption of routine is disturbing and to be avoided if at all possible; conventional rules and norms are viewed as suspect. This goes a long way toward explaining my personality in non-Freudian terms. If I keep uncovering these kinds of symptoms, I may end up discounting childhood "programming" (object relations theory) altogether. (I would hate that. It's a favorite theoretical explanation of mine, even if it turns out to be another myth (illusion). And I don't abandon my fantasies even though I know they're not real (and probably never will be); so, if my pet psych theories turn out to be "wrong," I may still hang onto them like I do the fantasies, because they perform, if not an explanatory then, at least a cathartic function.)

But, even if the therapy worked its magic permanently (currently, still, it is only a temporary relief), I'm not sure I'd want to change how I am. I don't like change and pangs of anxiety stir in me when change threatens, even when they change is self-inflicted. (If I could change the anxiety, that is, if I could eliminate it, then maybe I'd feel differently.) I've avoided change for as long as I can remember, the anxiety going all the way back to my earliest memories. Key words and phrases evoke past associations; for example, "Toyota" or "Corolla" or "November" or "cancer"; when I hear these words, I feel a twinge in my chest. These words are a more recent example, based on my recent car problem and its association with the inevitable interface I will experience a month from now. But there's no reason to believe that the anxiety will not persist long after its cause dissolves away because there are many, many other words that still evoke the same physiological response, even though the cause has long since been removed. Much of the anxiety I feel now is provoked by other incidents in my past, many of which I no longer remember, no doubt all the way back to my earliest experiences. It's a preoccupation of mine to try to trace them to their ultimate source, an ongoing project, and dreams aid me immensely in this endeavor.

This is why I rebel, still: Authority is an ongoing threat to change me. In the face of socio-cultural, or worse, socio-political attempts to change me, I bristle and withdraw. [But I recognize now that it's not a flawed personality or character or even a neurosis that's responsible; it's a genetic disability.] And when you assholes treat me like I am some sort of outcast leper (my self-fulfilling prophecy), you reveal your own ignorance (and maybe your conservative agenda). This is my most basic defense (projection): You are doing this to me, so I need to be far away from you, especially those of you who would exert (any kind of) authority. This is the most basic illusion I pursue: I seek out the persecution of authority (so that I can readily recognize it and hide away from it) that is a projection of my own demand to change myself into something better, which a significant functional part of me within does not really want to happen; and there are always enough authoritarian assholes in the world to project my fears onto so that I need not ever realize the self-denial if I so choose.