by j-a

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October 2006



A Sci Fi Life

disclaimer

I'm writing another book, and I'm including in it the best (or most appropriate, which tends to be the best) material from my journals. This may explain the relative paucity of new material lately to be found herein, the recent tendency of combining several months into one pastiche, and the long delay in publishing these pastiches. Life is too short to be so long.

My life lately seems like a sci fi story, extending itself out in defiance of ordinary time, stretching like dopplered light waves, red-eyed, lacking sleep, waiting, for something important to happen and hoping that it does not induce too much disturbing change. Lack of sleep affects my self-perception, making me feel like an alien being, living multiple lives.

Some days I get up very early in the morning after very little sleep--either because I can't sleep or because I have something I must or want to do--and I do whatever it is I do; and, because I haven't had a lot of sleep and I do a lot of things, I have to take a long afternoon nap. And then, when I get up, it's like starting another whole new day:

I get another cup of coffee and start to do things again; and, because I had an intervening nap, I stay up late, so that when I finally go to bed, as I'm falling asleep while reviewing my long day (which seems more like two days), thinking back to the early morning, remembering what I'd done then, I find it hard to believe that I hadn't done those things days and days ago.

Sometimes, time seems to pass so fast; at other times, it seems to pass so slowly. And both of these conditions seem to occur at the same time when this sci fi mentality predominates. And, because I sleep in shifting patterns, not only do I (seem to) dream more, but I more readily remember my dreams, because they happen closer to my awakening.

I'm in my living room, bent over doing something near the door. For some reason, I have a roommate, a composite of guys I roomed with in college. A friend of his comes to visit him, and they talk in whispers just out of my hearing; yet, paradoxically, he stands close enough for me to hear even the slightest whispers, and so that, when he drops a combination lock he's holding, it hits me squarely in the middle of the back, and it's heavy enough to hurt. [When I awaken, I have a pain in the middle of my back.] He glances briefly at me as he bends down to pick up the lock, but he says nothing; and the look he gives me is one of distain, as if I am at fault for having been in the way of his falling lock. I think to object to his demeanor, but before I can say anything, he's gone. I complain to my roommate, who disregards my opinion in the same way that his friend did. I demand to know what they're up to and why they're treating me like they are. I tell him it's unfair that they should disrespect me in this way since I have done nothing to them and have always treated them fairly and aboveboard. He apologizes to me. Then, encouraged by his change of heart, I say I'm going to go and find that guy and ask him the same thing. I find him immediately outside the door, down over a slight embankment (which is not outside my house, but like a locale I saw recently on "Cops") between two apartment buildings. I say essentially the same thing to the guy that I said to my roommate. I decide that if he is also apologetic, I will forgive him; but he is not. He says a few things in way of explanation; but I feel like he is not sufficiently contrite for me to forgive him. I notice strange animals about the size of goats grazing nearby. They are unlike any animals I've ever seen, as if heads, tails, and legs of different species were grafted onto them; and their fur alternates in different, unnatural colors. I wonder what they are. My roommate tells me in a whisper that they have been introduced here by "the aliens" and that I should be very careful what I say around them because they could be gathering information. I once again bring up the subject of why they treated me the way they did. My roommate says that, since I accepted everything as it was (meaning the alien invasion) and went about my business (bending over, doing what I was doing by the front door) seemingly oblivious to the "plight of the world," they didn't know if they could trust me, that I might be in collusion with the aliens.

I awaken with the understanding that people act toward me the way they do because they don't get the proper feedback from me re their beliefs and so conclude, in the absence of information to the contrary, that I disagree with them and represent to them the views of their (alien) "enemies." But, at the same time, I (have) notice(d) that people (will) assume, when I don't communicate my beliefs to them in their presence when they will espouse theirs, that I agree with them--because silence often implies agreement. But the overriding factor, I think, is an unconscious message I give off that I disagree, often profoundly, and at the same time don't feel that people are worth me taking the time to bother correcting them with my opinion--which is probably an accurate assessment on their part. So, people often "get the message" despite my silence; yet, if I confront them with their negativity toward me, they may doubt their intuition and apologize, probably mostly because I actually take the time to communicate with them and attempt to establish a rapport. This is what people most often want that I do not often give them. I don't really mean to be this way. It's a conditioned response. But it's true enough when you come right down to it.

Again, this is all the result of the Asperger's. It works to isolate me, to make me doubtful that anything I actually say will be taken in the way I mean it, so that I instead just keep quiet. It's an unconscious motivation; but I am nevertheless responsible for it. And I have learned how to counteract it; but not as an inherent, gregarious trait. It's a learned skill. I have to think about it and even sometimes actually plan out what I will say ahead of time in order to be understood. And yet, at other times, in rare moments, spontaneity will occur, and my social life, what little there is left of it, will flow smoothly. It doesn't happen so often, but often enough to let me know that I am not totally alone and forsaken--not that I'd so much care if I were. That's the thing that most people do not understand. Except for the marked reduction in my ability to survive, I could care less if everyone else on the face of the Earth disappeared one day, perhaps in a mysterious cloud of rapture, and I were left alone--as long as my own survival, which is always foremost in my mind, is assured.

My personal survival commands my understanding of sociability. I know that without society, I am doomed, or at least severely restricted to a barren survivalist existence. Otherwise, I could care less. Being the sociable creatures they are, most people have no idea what it's like to be this way. Some look at the way I live and even praise me for my independence; and I myself consider it an admirable trait. But it's not. It's a reaction, a way that I must be, so that I may defend myself against the onslaught I feel when, among crowds of people, I do not possess the ability to cope in a natural and automatic way, but must instead revert to hard-learned social skills consciously called forth. And yet, again, at certain specific times, life flows smoothly and I integrate into it seamlessly, as if I were meant to be exactly this way all along, the stars demanding it perhaps. [I don't really believe in astrology, but it's a good metaphor for that as yet scientifically undiscovered realm of, perhaps, extra-dimensional knowledge and/or existence that enables life's little socially intuitive interactions. It's probably not an extra-dimensional function at all, but actually very ordinarily human; but it sure seems alien to me. And it causes me to proposed such outlandish (in scientific terms, but certainly not in religious) practices such as the petitioning of principalities.]

People don't see the underlying logic jumps I make, and I don't feel like I have the need or responsibility to make it clear just how my mind doesn't work like theirs does. They don't understand the apparently lack of focus, since they have learned to distinguish easily between disparate lines of thought and to disregard the apparent irrelevancies that the mind continually throws into a logical argument. (The interruptions are not really irrelevant; only less germane to the immediate issue. At some point along the line, or more likely along a similar, analogous, metaphorical, or more distantly related line, they are applicable.) Rational thought, Enlightenment-trained thought (which, it is interesting to note, is not nearly so enlightened as it thinks it is; one of those examples of a basic condition that its label belies) throws out or delays until a more "logic" time the presentation of these untimely introductions. But that doesn't mean they are irrelevant or that they don't belong exactly where they were introduced by non-Enlightenment thinkers; only that their introductions follow a different sensibility:

disconnect

My mind is speeding along in a rare instance of straight-line logic, which I'm writing down in my small pocket notebook during one of the long waiting periods during jury duty last year, and I look up and see her looking at me. She immediately looks away, and I immediately lose all sense of the logic and instead preoccupy itself with the repetitive mantra, "Just one look, that's all it took" that jumped into my head and displaced all thought.

That night I dream of her and awaken in a persistant hypnagogic episode, which almost frightens me because, typically, they last only the length of one short sentence:

"You want me to act, mature, like an adult, so serious, as benefits the matter of our union." But, despite your pleasant manner, hidden deep within, even from myself, I resent the necessary extraction from the childhood reverie I reconstruct when I am left alone. "Grown old and wearing the pants of old suits out of fashion."

All of a sudden, the whole room opens up, as if the ceiling were previously at ten feet, but receded to its actual height of twenty, I remember, fully awakening to my own bedroom, when just a second earlier I was trapped back in the jury room watching the ceiling speed away like it did just after she looked at me when I looked up to change my point of view and immediately then forgot all about it.

Outside, on the lunch break, I experimented with a new way of walking, hips forward, shoulders leaning back, practicing walking to attempt to change my life. I'm wearing canvas pants with large pockets and I feel like Chuck Berry.

Even though I appreciate the sense of prestige and social responsibility I get from being a juror, I still have feelings that conflict with that sensibility: How does a social authority come to have the right to command my presence without my explicit permission? (This is akin to being drafted into the army.) Simply because I am born into this time and place, I am obligated to participate in this social practice, so that I may lend my support to the dispensation of "justice," an idea that appeals to my ego-nature, but which I suspect nonetheless--or maybe even more so because it is of the ego; because who are we, mere humans, to judge in place of God? The theory is that humans, acting together, dispense the will of God, or at least some reasonable facsimile thereof; but I disbelieve that theory. It's like conspiracy laws, which are just another way that authoritarians have of forcing you to think and act like they do.

When I am on a jury, I always look for ways that I can thwart the authority of the justice system. Every case in which I have participated has found the defendant innocent. And at least one of those guys was obviously guilty (though he was a young guy who was led astray by an older guy who turned 'states evidence' and testified against him. He was nave to have allowed himself to have been used in the way he was and in that sense he was innocent; and we felt that the prosecutor should not have given a deal to the ringleader in order to convict the underling). This is one area of my life where my antiauthoritarian fantasies have come true. Other areas are a bit more difficult to manifest:

I've always fantasized about going back in time and reliving my life, knowing what I know now. But if I could go back, but not know what I now know, would I want to do it? Probably not, even though I'd have a long life ahead of me--because I'd make the same mistakes all over again. But there would be one good aspect to not knowing: I wouldn't be aware of the mental disabilities, the anxiety, the depression, and all of the other associated disorders. I'd still have them; but I wouldn't know what they were and I'd just go on as I always had, believing myself to be just me, a more or less integrated whole that had to pit itself against the rest of society while successfully denying the greater part of my unconscious existence. I believe that it's far better to know as much about yourself as possible; but it takes a lot of the fun out of life. The only real fun I have any more is when I begin to lose the sense of ordinary everyday existence:

"What day is today?"
"Oh, we don't go by days here."
"What are all these little bugs flying around?"
"Don't disturb them. They run the machine."

I make them my friends, the gadgets are so small you'd hardly notice them and so mistake them for benign gnats, a variety that do not bug you.

This is the essence of awareness, to realize that the operations of the universe are not controlled in the grosser way you have learned to think they are.

All of that was another extended hypnologic episode, defying my normal waking experience, so that I'm wondering if I'm changing, becoming less attached to my conditioned rational "real" life. That would be nice (although it would also, by definition, be insane). And it could be true, because lately I've been waking up a lot within dreams and thereby affecting their contents with ordinary thought:

I'm on Poketa Rd., waiting for the bus to go to school. Rick O. shows up. Awakening briefly, I add this to the dream: I met Rick a few weeks earlier, when we first moved into the neighborhood. [Throughout this entire dream, I keep awakening and adding material and falling back into sleep to continue the dream.] He says he doesn't have enough money for the bus fare, so I give him a quarter, (We need fifty cents each.) I don't have much money either, but I have enough change for both of us and another dollar besides. Rick tells me he'll pay me back. I tell him, "Don't worry about it. It's only a quarter." He's impressed with the fact that I would give him money. I tell him I never heard of a school that charges kids to ride the school bus. He says that the school has a contract with a private company. On the bus, I have to haggle with the bus driver, who wants to assert his authority for no reason other than the fact that he can do it. He doesn't want to let me on, assuming as he does that I don't have the money. He did the same thing with Rick before me. I wonder why he does this, since we both are not the kind of guys who cause trouble. I decide it's just his ornery nature. Rick sits in the right front seat with a friend of his. I sit in the second seat behind the driver, because it's the most accessible. A nerdy little guy is also planning to sit in this seat, so I try delaying tactics while preparing to sit down so as to discourage him; but it doesn't work, and he waits and sits beside me. He wants to be friends with me. A cute, petite girl pushes in in front of us so that she can lean between the two guys in front of us and talk to them. But what she's really doing is using that as an excuse to get to know me, I will later decide. And from the view afforded me by the position I am in, I'm beginning to know her quite well. Eventually, she turns her attention away from the two guys in front of us and starts talking to me. She pushes in next to the window so that we're now sitting three in the seat. Ostensibly because we're squished in and my shoulder is jabbing her, she takes my arm and lifts it up around her shoulders. She coyly rubs herself against me, as if she's unaware of what she's doing. She's soft and appealing and I appreciate her a lot. At the same time, I feel like she's up to something, although I think that it may only be her teasing nature.

Cut to: an entrance hallway. Kids are being assembled to be divided into homerooms. Everyone already knows where to be seated in the auditorium-like hallway; except me. I ask a teacher who appears to be in charge where the new kids are supposed to be. She tells me to wait a minute, irritated that she must take the time to deal with someone who doesn't know what to do.

Later, in the school cafeteria, after it's been made known that I am to be "initiated" for being the "new kid" (which is what everyone starts calling me):

"You're nice. How come you don't treat me like everyone else?"
"I don't know. I guess I like you."
"You guess?"
"I like you."
"Okay. Good. I like you too."

But we have only a few good weeks, and then she decides she doesn't like me all that much any more, after the guys (bullies disguised as jocks) who targeted me for "initiation" decide that I'm too dangerous to mess with.

I'm all powerful and incapable of being harmed or killed except via sexual encounters where I am at my weakest (a la Superman and kryptonite). A buxom, semi-clad woman asks me if I want to have sex and I tell her "No," to which she acts incredulous. She asks why not and I answer, "Because I don't feel like it," by which I mean both having sex and writing an entry in my journal, which I had been doing all along, as if I had been documenting my experience throughout the dream as I went along, and when I awaken again briefly, I am disappointed to realize that none of this detail is preserved [and when I later (now) try to preserve it, I lose most of it. This is not anywhere near as much detail as was in the dream]. She says, "I'll give you a blow job for fifty bucks." I say, "Now, honey. Don't get me wrong. You're very attractive and all that. But you don't look to me like you got fifty bucks." I recognize this lucidly within the dream as a scene from a movie and I think I'm so clever for incorporating movie dialogue into a dream. [Later, awake, I look it up. The quote is in my notes: Peter Coyote in More Dogs Than Bones: "How do I know you have fifty bucks?"] The girl, rejected, turns into an online blogger whose work I'm fascinated with (both within the dream and in real life), so that I feel sorry that I turned her down, and I want to change my mind, but I know that it's too late now. [Hey! What happened to the lucidity of only a moment earlier! I could have decided to let her do it.] The girl starts to quote a poem, something by T.S. Eliot that I don't recognize [which is wrong, I realize later, awake, because I know all of Eliot's work and this is not any part of it; I wonder if I tapped into some ethereal plane where some of Eliot's unpublished work resides]. I try to write it down, but [as is typical in my dreams] I can't get the words right and when I remember them accurately, the pencil lead breaks or there is no room left on the envelope that I'm trying to write on. She says "He wrote poetry until he went nuts." I laugh, recognizing it within the dream as a line from a movie [spoken repeatedly by Lars Nordh in Songs from the Second Floor. I liked the implied causation of that line so much that I wrote it down, memorized it, and nominated it for "best line in a postmodern film"]. The girl gives me a Christmas card with John Travolta's picture on it, which I recognize lucidly as one she actually sent me in my real life. And suddenly I become aware that this is not at all real, that this is some kind of a different place, and I start to get frightened that reality has disintegrated and left me here alone. But the lucidity leaves me quickly and I am left wondering why she sent me that card when she doesn't even know me. Why would she sent a complete stranger a card just because he asked her when she offered it in a blog, obviously intending it for her friends who read the blog, all as if it's now a dream experience and never happened in reality.

I awaken wondering why this is happening, why are my dreams suddenly so powerful and why am I so easily able to control them when they've always been so elusive and merely happening to me. I remember a dream I had a while ago about my aunt and an acting career. I think, this is the message from that dream, that my dreams are advising me as to what to do with my life, but I have been "under-interpreting" them lately. Simple documentation of dreams is not enough. If you want to get something profound from them, you have to get down into them to extract their deeper meaning; i.e., via analysis and interpretation.

I think that I could have been an actor, I could have easily developed the skills to do the job; but my psychology prevented me from opening myself up in the way that would be necessary, or even wanting to. Now, maybe, I want to (at least re revealing my inner dream self); but my youth is gone. Why would I want to work that hard now? However, if anyone who reads this feels the inclination to book me as a guest on a radio talk show (I don't think I could handle a tv appearance; but make the offer anyway and maybe I'll surprise you), I'm available. Now, you might ask, "Why would I even ask? What's the appeal? What's in it for me?" Well, hell, I don't know. I can't even imagine what's going on inside your head. But maybe you might like to do it because it would just terrify me if someone actually took me up on this offer. Is that the kind of sicko you are? If so, I'm available. So go ahead and scare the shit out of me. I dare you.

But maybe tv is a step too far. I'm really becoming disgusted with tv, even more so than I've been, and I'm trying to decide that I want nothing at all to do with it. At the least, I'm going to stop watching ABC if it doesn't stop the programming games it's playing. They're extending program length by five or ten minutes to overlap the start of programs on other channels, hoping that audiences stay with them instead of switching. They start new programs later and later in the year, they interrupt the season at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and now, for apparently no reason at all, they air reruns mid-season. And they probably think we don't notice that what used to be (a long time ago now) a 26 episode season of dramas and sitcoms is now more like ten. Besides, they've worn out another good idea (Grey's Anatomy) with their angst-ridden pathos. Instead of developing new good story lines, they rework the same old thing, figuring that, if it worked once, it'll work again. It's all about the increasing their already ridiculously high profit line.

I thought that "Lost" was heading in this same direction last year; but they seem to have revitalized it this season. But it's still plagued with the ABC short-season tactic, as is "Boston Legal," which is also suffering from the "same-old shittyness" phenomenon. And Spader's character, which is the main reason I watch the program, is turning lame. On "The Practice" and when they first spun Spader off, he was edgy and potent. Now he's just sad.

Funny, isn't it, how potent, revealing dream content has so easily transitioned in my mind into postmod tv crap once I fully awaken to the "real" world? I wish I could sleep and dream forever.

interruptions

The real world is disconcerting. Upcoming events, like having to get the car inspected when I don't think it will pass, or having to attend a social function that I'm nervous about going to, or whatever, are unimportant in the greater scheme of things; and when I'm productively writing, they don't matter. I can put them off in my mind and forget about them, because I'm doing what I want to do, what I'm supposed to be doing, and nothing else matters. I have no need, nor fear, of social expectation and responsibility. I'm Alex Haley sitting in his office on Christmas Eve writing a short story, totally losing track of the time and forgetting that he's supposed to be at home with his family, which becomes the final straw that causes his wife to leave him. Although that story always seemed to me to be a fabricated literary excuse designed to disguise and thus absolve Haley from having been doing something else he shouldn't have been doing. But in my case, I really am sitting here writing. But also in my case, I have no one waiting for me to be somewhere else; and that's the whole point, isn't it?

And yet, every time I really get going full speed on a writing project, I always seem to get interrupted, often by "society," and I don't get back to it for a long time (although I'll often get back to a different project). And it always seems that when I finally get going on a project or task that I've been waiting (on something) for, a dozen other projects and tasks also become available to be worked on at the same time, some of them even demanding attention. The world (or my mind; or both) does not feed me an evenly dispersed amount of work (or the motivation to do it); it must come in spurts between long, dry periods. And, meanwhile, I watch tv; or I fantasize, which is my own personal, internal movie screen, and my own personal form of interruption.

It used to be that when nothing good was on tv, I'd leave it on anyway and half-watch/listen to it while I did other things. But lately I find that I tend to turn it off, usually because it starts to irritate me. I get pissed of at the inane bits of content that I happen to catch. Either I'm becoming less and less tolerant as I age or tv is getting more and more stupid. Probably both. Airheads on tv drive me up the walls. Even sports announcers (also airheads, generally, but of a different sort) piss me off. Inside my head is better.

I love when it rains. It means I can stay inside and hide out and be all cozy and warm and shit. I can run old movies in my head; or, when I get really bored, I can watch old tapes I've seen before and, instead of creatively controlling the content, allow it just to happen to me.

This is not a proper way to live, I sometimes (like right now) think. I search through my notes, half-seriously looking for an idea that will spur me to do something at least a bit more worthwhile. I find, way back in the back of my clipboard, notes from nearly a year ago about a method of writing out your goals (yeah, as if I need someone to tell me how to do that) as affirmations: Write your goals out fifteen times a day. The author of that material is too didactic, I remember; which is why I didn't take this method too seriously at the time I wrote it down and left it to wallow in the pig sty of my notes.

I don't believe there's anything magic about the number fifteen, but the practice of writing out goals focuses attention and expectation on them and subconsciously creates a self-fulfilling prophecy; and the more you do it, the more focused and expectant you become. Twenty would be better than fifteen, thirty better than twenty. If everyone spent entire days writing down affirmations, imagine how much better off the world would be. The people who cause all the trouble would be preoccupied instead with writing out their goals and wouldn't have so much time left to do the nefarious things they do--although they might end up self-fulfilling them into existence anyway via that very process of affirmation.

Imagine George Bush or Dick Cheney writing out a hundred times a day: "Bomb Iraq." Hmm. Maybe that's what they did. More likely, though, that's what old Don Rumsfeld was doing when he was standing at his little podium writing out his big plans for the Iraq invasion and whatever. This is the kind of thing that science fiction stories are made of. Set the story back in the fifties: Rumsfeld in the Kennedy White House hatching future scenarios that eventually come true while the current drama, the Bay of Pigs, fails because he's off dreaming up the future. In his notes, Rumsfeld creates the twin Bush presidency. At the end of the story, we find in Rumsfeld's notes: "George W. Bush : terrorism :: Joe McCarthy : communism."

These are the kinds of things I find in my disconsidered notes; but I'm not a member of an elitist cadre of top government officials, so I'm unlikely to affect the future so profoundly...unless...it's really true that some meta internet program is harvesting ideas. But, even if it actually exists, it probably would ignore most of these ideas, since they're even starting to bore me. So, instead, I try surfing the internet. I realize that I can surf the net on (a very slow Verizon) dial-up while listening to the BBC and never experience an interruption of the audio. So, the technology exists to do it; and all those other sites that cannot provide this service are lame and playing the blame game when they accuse dial-up of being the weak link that limits their audio netcasts. And the video net casts that complain that the U.S. lags behind the rest of the worldwellokay, they may be right and we may be holding up progress on internet video; but who cares? Not me. That's just one more distraction I'll have to deal with if I ever get the bandwidth to peruse it. I'm looking for more detachment, not less. But I wonder: If I get bored now, with all of the distractions I now have, what will I do when I am even more detached? But this is the whole point: I want to force myself to have to seek out other pastimes that are more "real," by which I mean less worldly and more profound.

I try to do this through writing, blending current reality with fantasy in such a way as to reveal the "unreality" of the former and the "truth-bearing" nature of the latter. But I suspect that I fall far short of this lofty ideal. I write fiction in order to (try to) tell the truth in a way that avoids the trap that reality (i.e., the real world) sets to convince world citizens that the social structures it creates are anything but illusion. "Novels" may be fiction, but they don't have to be fictive. Lots of them are more or less true stories, perhaps to some degree disguised, with the author and/or the people in the author's lives as the main characters. (And, as we have seen recently, memoirs don't have to be true either.) The fuzzy line between truth and fiction gets fuzzier every year.

I've been wanting for a long time to turn my art in the direction of natural (non-human oriented) objects; but I don't think I can do it with the written word (language being a human/social construct); so I turn to the visual arts and try to spend some time trying to, for example, release the inherent artistic qualities in rocks and wood; because society, even when I merely use it as material for my fantastic artistic content, leaves me feeling less than self-fulfilled.

Asperger's resulted in my feeling not so socially responsible. I didn't function well in that regard, so I didn't feel that it was appropriate to involve myself. This was when I was a teenager and young adult. Later, as I learned and practiced social skills, I began to accept some responsibility. But I never really got to the point where I felt I was a "grown-up" who was "responsible" for society and its machinations. Society is something that exists totally apart from what I think I am. I know that this is an erroneous perception; but it's the way I feel. I feel like I should tease apart zeitgeist influences of narcissism and postmodern identity issues from personal Asperger's-related determinants. It's an idea from my notes that I wanted, at one time, a while ago, to write about; but the motivation is gone now. I can't resurrect the feeling I had when I thought I wanted to do it.

I also wanted to do a study [which is what I sometimes call my books when I can't quite see my way, because of the predominance of their essay-like content, to call them novels] that gathers ideas about how society, the government, and corporations violate individual "rights" by secretive agendas designed to preserve the elites' entrenched position and increase their wealth--such as when the treasury buys up key banks' bad debts and holds them in order to enhance the banks' balance sheets at critical times so as to raise (and sometimes lower) the value of their stock; and then sells the debt back to them at non-critical times; or when it inflates the money supply to enable better market liquidity, which causes consumer price increases; or when it ties the culture/society/economy into certain products so that corporations can continue to make profits, thereby making consumers dependent upon the social structure and unable to survive without it.

The automobile is a perfect example of this "conspiracy": At one time in our more distant past a decision was made that public transportation was not the way to go; the automotive industry successfully lobbied whomever it had to lobby and public transportation was minimalized while suburban relocation was favored, so that, if you didn't want to become permanently relegated to a low socio-economic status, you had to buy and maintain at least one, and probably two or three (depending on the size of your family) cars.

It's wrong that I must be dependent on an automobile, not merely for transportation, but for survival. It's wrong that society forces people in certain areas to depend on cars, providing, if any, inadequate public transportation and/or no sidewalks to protect walkers from traffic hazards; it's a way that society has of separating rich from poor and maintaining social stratification. And, lest I absolve myself of any responsibility here, it's wrong for me not to have foreseen this situation and moved into a more easily accessible area when I could afford the move; but my past mistake should not preclude a currently correct social strategy.

More generally, it's wrong that local authorities and regulations inhibit, rather than facilitate, practices that serve to reduce dependence upon a (more personally expensive and thus more commercially profitable) system of "public" utilities that are run by private, for-profit companies. These practices extend across the entire society, with the net effect that citizens are tied in to the "social" (which is actually a corporo-governmentally imposed) structure. One obvious example: Back when a few enterprising individuals began generating their own electricity via solar and wind power, they discovered that they could run their electric meters backwards and reduce their electric bills to zero. So they petitioned the utility companies to start paying them for the electricity they returned to the grid. Of course, the utility companies said, "No way." But this was an obvious example of individual entrepreneurship and the courts had no choice but to rule in the homeowners' favor and order the electric companies to pay up. But most of the ways that individuals fight the system are too subtle or too divergent to enable this kind of structural change to occur. It's depressing. (I'll latch onto any excuse when the affect begins to well up inside me.)

Symptoms of depression:

But, like they say, "Easy come, easy go." And making beer is easy. Another way that we might become less dependent upon "the system" if it had been set up that way to begin with; though it's changing now as people "discover" (actually rediscover) that homemade beer tastes so much better and brewing corporations scramble to make beers that imitate it in taste--and charge a lot more for it, of course, even though it isn't really all that much more costly to make. (But, to be fair, it's more a matter of volume economics than a rip-off mentality; still, though, lack of competition breeds advantage, which people will take, if possible.) Yeah, easy come, easy go, but what they don't tell you is "Hard come, easy go" is also true. They're going to get your hard-earned cash, because it's what they do, it's their whole raison d'etre.

Well, the world is interrupting me again, this time in the form of mental exhaustion. I'm literally falling asleep as I try to write. I'm going to bed to take a nap. I haven't been sleeping well lately.

attraction

db and I are in the dining room at 640. She's thin, like she used to be when she lived here, and she's dressed in a nice, black pants-suit that is suggestive of a man's suit. She's a lawyer and she wants me to be her investigator (as in private eye). I like this idea so much, but I wonder to myself if I, with my reticent, withdrawn nature, am capable of doing the work. She acts very friendly toward me, and not in her usual standoffish dream-self way. She stands close to me and her behavior suggests that she wants to have sex. Dissolve to:

An unidentifiable road somewhere in Penn Hills. We're walking down a hill, apparently investigating some case db is working on. Steve, an old boss of mine, shows up and is acting in a very helpful way, with none of his usual unintentional (conditioned) "superior" attitude.

I awaken with the idea that my work should be more social, that I should be an activist attempting to change the world, or at least some small portion of it. This is not a new idea; I seriously entertain this at least once a year (and then I rule it out, of course).

How could I possibly do this when I can barely cope with my own limited little life as it is. The obvious way that suggests itself is via focusing my purpose so narrowly that nothing else in my life was important (like I do now, when I will, with writing).

But I know that this is impossible, mostly because I can't maintain the effort with writing for too long, and that involves no social interaction at all. In the dream, I was a socially functioning investigator; but even asleep I recognized my limitations.

I can affect society, but not via social interaction. My interpersonal talent lies in another direction, where I affect people one-on-one, and in some mysterious way that I have as yet been unable to exactly define, let alone gain any control over:

possible other-affecting explanations:

  1. bio-social: it's the normal nature of interpersonal contact ("chemistry"); but it must be more than this, judging by women's reactions as to how important it seems to them.
  2. psycho-social: general (as opposed to psychoanalytic) transference (subconscious. to subconscious)
  3. personal psychological: "charisma" and/or "charm" (I have an unconscious psychological ability that few others have? I like to think so, but somehow I doubt it.)
  4. psychic: some psi, spiritual, or extra-dimensional phenomenon is occurring (the kavorka?)
  5. all of the above: my particular "personality" mix, which is unique and thus appears to be something special.
The world is spinning rapidly backwards toward my youth, which I embrace within my dreams, where I reconstruct that which I have been missing lately. I feel the attraction of a feminist emlightenment, in a way that has never been imagined, I suspect, by feminist prototypes. Db was a feminist, I realize, as I read, and re-read because it's difficult material (and not only because her writing style is somewhat stilted and "academic," to put a nice word on it) Lois McNay's book, which I keep setting aside, because it's difficult material--like db was, which I never knew, being as nave back then as she was.
...the danger for feminists in adopting a postmodern approach is that an exclusive stress on difference [between agendas within the ranks of women] may deprive a feminist ethic of the grounds for calling for any kind of social norms, moral codes, or legal rulings at all. The overstressing of the particular leads to an equivalence of all biases and particularities and reduces the feministic ethic to just one of many equally valid viewpoints. The fear of neglecting difference implies that one cannot make the sort of comparisons or judgements that are essential to legislation or to a more equal social distribution of goods, resources and opportunities. As Sober puts it, this extreme sort of 'difference' feminism, if taken to its ultimate conclusion, 'must condone an anarchist and wholly de-regulated economic and social policy, and...we must ask again whether this -- with its obvious neo-rightist overtones -- is what feminists are wanting'.
Lois McNay, Foucault and Feminism
First of all, even if it's true that the ultimate conclusion would be what the text claims it would be, how many issues in our "democratic" society, which provides checks and balances and redress of grievances, ever arrive at their ultimate conclusions? That aside, a postmodern laissez-faire policy is unlikely to ever predominate in our culture; we are too well-regulated by the central government, and women's rights are already thoroughly protected by law, if not yet by enforcement, and by political correctness, if not yet by the abandonment and/or negation of prejudice and discrimination. So there is no need to fear subversion of protective legislation, but only recalcitrance of the Neanderthals who are still among us and often in official control.

There is, however, the possibility that further gains by feminists will be thwarted, and this is what feminists fear, that they will be stopped at the point of having achieved a mere parity with men (which is nearly already achieved, at least in legal intent), that they will be incapable of further advancing their cause so as to achieve domination. Much of what I read in feminist literature has, as a subtextual hidden agenda, a kind of revenge motive that wants to pay men back for their long history of paternalism and domination. We see the same motive in Black agendas that propose such conscious ploys as reparation as well as with unconscious ones such as the desire to prolong dependence upon welfare systems and poor-me issues that claim that prejudice results not merely in the reduced ability to succeed, but is the primary cause of failure, when, these days, failure is more likely a personal than systemic problem. Yes, marginalized people must work harder than privileged one, and yes it is unfair; but it is not the impossible situation it used to be. And this same motive probably functions within all agendas of anti-oppression. And just as in those other cases, I argue against establishing a historical pendulum effect re female empowerment. You cannot achieve equality by establishing an opposing inequality. You achieve equality by establishing true equality; because, otherwise, the backlash goes on and on forever.

I see in postmodernism the possibility of the beginnings of true equality across the board. And if we all become truly equal and hardcore feminists then feel slighted because the world has not become theirs, but everyone's, then that egocentric power-grab will have been checked. And if this leads to nihilism and anarchy, well, I've always been partial to those philosophies. But it could never go that far in this country (which is one of this country's flaws, as far as I'm concerned; but that's neither here nor there), for the reasons cited above that argue against ultimate conclusions. But if we head in that direction, I see it as a move away from authoritarianism. I don't want our present macho authoritarianism, which we have come a long way toward disabling, to become replaced by a femme authoritarianism, or even by a femme political correctness. Fuck that shit.

Thus the feminist reconstruction of theory should not be seen as simply a retreat into another totalizing and falsely universal discourse. To think in this way, [Nancy Harsock] argues, is to be imprisoned within the 'alternatives imposed by Enlightment thought and postmodernism'. It is not simply a question of adopting the perspective of the transcendental and disembodied voice of "reason' or abandoning the goal of accurate and systematic knowledge of the world in favour of an immersion in multiplicity and the concrete. Other ways of thinking exist and need to be developed by 'hitherto marginalized voices'. Moreover, according to Harsock, a history of marginalization will 'work against creating a totalising discourse'.
ibid.
The feminist reconstruction of theory should not be seen as simply a retreat...? Should? "Shouldn't" we forget about what we should be and start focusing on what reality dictates that we are? Science is always preferable (to me) to social theory that pretends to be scientifically based, but which is merely anecdotal. The reality of life, whatever it turns out to be, is what we "should" be looking for instead of striving to construct an arbitrary empowerment of whatever "in" group happens to be in charge of or capable of influencing legislation and morality. Or is that what it is really all about, is that the reality of the universe, getting the power and using it for a specific interest group's benefit? (I prefer to spread the power around, dispersing it widely, so that it can't be used effectively by power brokers against anyone; and this is what postmodernism tends toward.) And if this is the reality of our life here, let's call it that and stop futzing around pretending to some "higher" cause(s) of individual freedom, responsibility, and autonomy. There can be no true and ubiquitous autonomy inside a system that establishes a "totalising discourse." You can't get there from here. If you choose to acknowledge the dichotomy between Enlightment v. postmodernism, then you can't have it both ways. There is no middle road in a dichotomy. If you succeed in establishing an alternate "enlightenment," well, okay, you did it, so live with the consequences of the attacks against your position from the old or newly-marginalized groups you left behind. There can be no feminist enlightenment. As the Buddhist says, "No one is enlightened until everyone is enlightened."

[I haven't finished the book yet, so I'll defer my final conclusions of this issue until I can work my way through the rest of it. I suspect that the author resolves this issue, a la Foucault, according to my above conclusions.]

enlightenment postmodernism
rationalism multiplicity
systematic knowledge local and concrete
paternalism fraternalism (w/o the gender bias)
authoritarianism equality
meta-narratives rejection of meta-narratives

Yeah, db was a feminist, and so was I, and not because she was. I was one first, feeling that it was the right thing to do in the face of a macho world that I was as uncomfortable in as any typical feminist of the time. And she became one via my example, and through the liberal college education she received. And now she is a more traditional wife and mother and I am left back here with my feminist residue trying to investigate my way back into relevance. It's a science fiction story. I don't know the first thing about the future, nor about the "science" of sociology, even now back in my past. No one, I suspect, will ever have any idea of what I'm really writing about because the code is in the future, and we are stuck here forever in my past.