by j-a

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December 2006

Be Cool

power wedge

Sometimes I feel that I must consciously attend to keeping my guard up, because when I let it down I end up saying and doing nerdy and/or inappropriate things that, thinking back on them, I end up regretting. Sometimes I get too comfortable and confident among people (especially when I think I know them well; I never do, really, which I realize too late, after I let my guard down and let them see, not my practiced veneer, but my true self) and I begin to express an intimacy that is more conscious in me than it seems to be in others. But I shouldn't worry about it so much because, apparently, people seldom see my behavior as nerdy (and, often, not even inappropriate), because I've trained myself so well, so thoroughly, to keep my guard up, to be so cool, that people tend to see me less accurately, they see the hardened surface I present either as strange and/or obtuse; or else they see the behavior of an asshole; or they slip past the surface image uncritically and see the intimacy and either don't know what to make of it or else assume that it is meant only for them and no one else--which is another topic altogether. And all this misinterpretation is okay with me; better I be seen this way than as a nerd, I think--not so much now maybe, but in the past when I was developing my personality and nerds were not so well-considered as they are now. But I still regret it when I say and do stupid or inappropriate things, even if they are misinterpreted as being, not nerdy, but alien and/or contentious. I'm still strugglling to be cool.

But being cool is not so easy as it used to be. Coolness used to characterize rebellion and status-quo people could never really be cool. Now it's gotten all mixed up with political correctness and postmod in-crowd mentalities. It's cool to be on MTV or VH1. It's cool to live in Hollywood and work in the entertainment industry. It's not so cool any more, in fact it's downright retro, to wear your hair long, hang out in jazz bars, or sport facial hair. It's all turned around; and nowhere is this more obvious (to me) than in the world of race relations:

1Black people are using the Michaels Richards diatribe, like they tend to do against all bigots (intentional and, especially, subconscious ones--because the latter class are more vulnerable and thus easily manipulated since they feel so guilty about their behavior), as a power wedge to promote their equality agenda. Nothing wrong with that, per se. But you can see by simply observing their on-screen demeanor how their spokespeople are not so offended as they pretend to be, but rather acting rationally (that is, manipulatively) for their race's own advancement. On the other side of this coin are the blacks who are truly offended and thereby manipulated by the white bigots (as well as by their own leaders and spokespeople, although they perhaps don't mind being manipulated in that way) who use the black outrage as their own power wedge, dictating the black reactive response.

Blacks have come a long way (everyone, white and black alike, seems to be fond of saying), with the caveat added by some that they still have a long way to go. It's the standard perception of the rest of that distance that I call into question here. Yes, blacks are prejudiced against, still, in America; but not nearly so much as they had been only fifty years ago. Now, it's a more "normalized" type of prejudice. Blacks, albeit with a bit of difficulty that increases with their decrease in socio-economic status, can succeed and prosper in this society on nearly equal terms with whites. They're not quite there yet, but they're close. And one of the main issues that holds them back is their refusal to give up the affect that they attach to bait-words. As long as blacks allow white bigots to "offend" them, they will never overcome the prejudice against them; there will always be that anger that feeds back and provokes reaction to reaction. Blacks need to come finally to terms with their heritage and lose that centuries-old pain and grudge that they can't let go of, unable to advance because they're stuck in the past. [They need to take a lesson from Gandhi on this point.]

Reaction against reaction is a meta-problem that affects our society, sometimes in a severe way. But there is a simple solution. For example, I am not a 'cracker' (except, maybe, if you're from Britain) and yet, when a black calls me that, I am not the least bit offended, not only because I know it isn't true and so have no identity invested in it [like blacks have a vested identity in the word 'nigger'--unwittingly, as a reminder of the pain of their ancestry, and even otherwise, when they apply the term to themselves as a counteractive measure against the threat of a loss of identity and esteem at the hands of white bigots; it's the threat that's the issue here: as long as you feel threatened, you are kept in your place, a sense of having been offended being a disguised feeling of being threatened; to overcome the threat you must act as if it does not apply to you, which then feeds back to your threatener that their behavior does not work; and as a consequence they tend to decrease it; but if you act as if you're threatened (by acting offended), the threatener sees that his behavior is working and so increases it. It's contingency management, pure and simple], but also because I understand that to take offense at labels that are applied to you is to relinquish some of your autonomy (as well as to reveal some of your denial). You can determine your own fate, in part by determining your own categorizations and labels; or you can allow others to determine it for you. (It's not really an either/or situation; it's far more complicated than that.) When you allow others to bait you with words, you work to their agenda, and not your own. My mother taught me this lesson very early on: Sticks and stones...

Prejudice against blacks, as it diminishes within our society, is rapidly blending in with prejudice against the poor. And that is not a behavior that any social movement is likely to remediate soon in our capital-addicted society. Many blacks today are discriminated against as much because they are poor as because they are black; perhaps more. We are seeing a phenomenon directed toward poor blacks comparable to that against poor white trash. The same thing happened to the Irish and the Italians and is currently escalating against immigrants from the south. The melting pot is working. Italians are still discriminated against, and not only because of the threat from the Mafia. I should know. My mother was prejudiced against Italians, a script inherited from her father. Even the Irish community, now a bastion of conventional Americanism in some areas, still experience a modicum of prejudice in other sectors of the country. Jews, of course, are discriminated against, and probably will be for a long time to come because they shoot themselves in their uber-social feet by favoring their own kin (a strong and valid age-old defense mechanism); and, also, in a very real way, they welcome the prejudice as a means of establishing their tribal identity, and even as a test by their God, which they are determined to pass. (How can you give up an identity that your God has given to you?) Gays may be more prejudiced against now than anyone, including blacks. Latins are quickly catching up. As Chinese entrepreneurship advances Asians may experience a backlash (over and above localized discrimination against Koreans.) Blacks are now one of many ethnic groups struggling to assert their free and prosperous identity. They are rapidly becoming just one of the crowd. And, like the nerds, we are all in one way or another prejudiced against by someone. Sure, it's all about a power trip; but in postmodern society the power is widely dispersed and we each individually feel the effect of it more equally. [I'm not even going to get into here the non-standard forms of prejudice (of which I am a victim). I'll leave that for another time and place.]

A final word about the use of the term 'nigger' by whites. Okay, sure, when used in a bigoted sense, it's so wrong. But I object to the automatic labeling of non-blacks as bigoted when they use "The N-word," no matter what the context is. (Hey, Quentin Tarantino got away with it in Pulp Fiction, probably with the justification that he was playing a character who would use the word that way; and it didn't hurt that Sam Jackson was in the scene giving tacit approval to the usage.) There are legitimate usages of 'nigger' by non-blacks (this being one of them). I've read scholarly works by white academicians who, when writing about the usage and effect of 'nigger' actually substitute 'the N-word' for it. How ridiculous. That's a long way to go to be politically correct. It suggests, I suggest, a repressed (or not so repressed) fear of blacks and their culture. I even go so far as to suggest that labels like 'house nigger' may be applied by whites to black sycophants of George Bush who favor the politics of discrimination over loyalty to their own race. I maintain that it is not bigoted behavior to use the term in this way, but is the epitome of an ultra-liberal point of view. Why should it be all right for blacks but not whites to call these race-traitors 'house niggers'? I suggest that it is because blacks have adopted the term 'nigger' as a power wedge and they resent any possible watering down that may occur if its proper use becomes acceptable within white liberal society.

I have two friends (or used to, because I haven't seen either of them in a long time; and not only just two friends, in case you were wondering): one of them is black and the other is stupid. The black guy held the belief that no white person could ever understand how it felt to be black in this culture.

I've since heard this argument elsewhere, and it still disturbs me as much as it did the first time I heard it from my friend. Even a few intelligent people insist upon it, because intelligence is not inconsistent with, that is, does not preclude, other qualities that may interfere with it.

Now, I have a high IQ. I'm not going to reveal what it is because I don't want people who have a higher one to think that I'm not as "smart" as they are, and I want people who have a lower one to think it's actually higher than it really is. (That's more of a joke than a real reason; but it has its ego element.)

My stupid friend doesn't know he's stupid, or he didn't back when I knew him; maybe he's gotten a little bit smarter since then. We all have the tendency to do just that, to learn, if begrudgingly, from experience so as to develop just enough of an insight into ourselves to realize what we are.

Since I was smarter than my dumb friend, I could have said to him that he could never understand what it's like to be smart in this (or any) culture. I never actually said that to him, but that may have been more a matter of it never having occurred to me than an example my caring personality.

My black friend, though not nearly so dumb as the other, was not so smart either; and he knew it. I could have used the same argument on him: "I may never know what it's like to be black, but you'll never know what it's like to be smart." He would have understood, maybe; but that would have just been mean.

It's not the same thing anyway: apples and oranges. But it has its similarities: Being intelligent provides me with a way to understand things that are not accessible to people who are of lesser intelligence than I. I feel demeaned when people say I cannot ever understand their situations.

When black people believe that whites can never understand the difficulties they have in white society, they disregard the ability of intelligence, which causes me to wonder if the people who make this argument really are all stupid. That would explain a lot. But maybe they're not, but only prejudiced.

Then there's the empathy thing, which doesn't require intelligence; in fact the power of reason seems to interfere with it. Empathetic people do understand others' difficulties, whether they're smart or not. Combine an empathetic ability with intelligence and keep them from conflicting and look out!

And creative people may understand also, when they put themselves into the situation of another in order to write about what it's like to be them. Writers (and actors) have an ability to transform themselves into someone else for the course of an entire book. Creative people can understand, if they so choose.

So, if you're black and believe that I can never know what it's like to be you, think again. You have no idea what I know! If you did, you'd know your premise could not be true. The creativity I derive from combining intelligence and empathy with third-party narratives is a great informant.

And if you're stupid and believe that I can never know what it's like to live... No, wait a minute. You'd never think that. Our society at one time or another treats us all as if we're stupid. Even dumb people understand quite well that we're all in the same boat here--except dumb Republicans.

Smart Republicans convince dumb Republicans to act against their own best interests and support smart Republican politicians who manipulate social mechanisms to make the smart ones richer while keeping the dumb ones and the Democrats and Independents in their places. How smart is that? Depends on which group you're talking about.

Michael Richards is a stupid git. (And Mel Gibson too.) This is what they should have said, the defense they should have used: "People can't say anything that already isn't in their heads. I recognize the history of anti-black bigotry (or anti-semitism) that exists in our society; and I guess that's gotten into my head, despite my best efforts to adopt a socially proper conscious set of beliefs. Obviously, I've got some work to do, and I accept that responsibility; and I accept the responsibility for my unwitting behavior, which has been dictated by my unconscious that I have allowed to become infested with these disgusting attitudes. I intend to do my best to correct it and to make amends. But to blame me for what my unconscious mind has done is maybe taking a step too far. It is perhaps mere projection of the world's evils onto me. We should all look to ourselves to see how it is that the evils of society creeps into us and make us say and do things we don't really want to say or do, to make us harbor unconscious beliefs that we try our best to consciously negate. You can't negate the evil in the world, you can only resist it within yourself. That's what I intend to do. If you can't forgive me for my unconscious foible, the same foible that exists within each of you (you will know this to be true by your vehemence in denying it; the more strongly you deny it, the more true it is), well, then, fuck you too."

Of course, celebrities accused of biogotry will never actually say anything like that, because they fear it would negatively affect their career, and they just can't bear even the mere idea of having their income drop by a few million dollars, leaving them with only a few meager million more to sustain them. I feel so sorry for them. This is so unlike me, who, once again has dropped my guard and revealed what I truly believe, despite the consequences it may bring. Will I, tomorrow or a year from now, suffer consequences that I know not whence they came, as a result of having published this "rational" analysis? I hope not; but I can't be too concerned. I'm just too cool (and difabled) not to tell the truth. It's my anti-power wedge.

my life as a book

Long ago and far away in a different age
when I was a young, young guy,
fossilzed photos of my life then
illustrate what an easy prey I must have been.

Standing in the sun. Been here too long.
Something like a monument.
I'm a dinosaur. Somebody's digging my bones.
I'm a dinosaur. Somebody's digging my bones.

King Crimson, "Dinosaur"
All alone at the end of the evening,
when the bright lights are fading to blue,
I was thinking about a woman who might have loved me,
but I never knew.
The Eagles, "Take It To The Limit"
I stayed up all night reading A Cure for Gravity, which is an autobiography of the life of Joe Jackson (not me, but the musician). That's the kind of book I would write about my own life, if I ever wanted to work that hard. I could do it; but why go to all that bother, when I feel like I write just fine the way I do? But if I would bother, I'd do it in a different way, I think, that other writers (seem to) do.

Some of the books I write are rather normal in their quirky little way; but others, like the ones that I base on content from my journals, I don't really expect anyone to read all the way through (although, if they would, they'd find a lot of gems among the rough); and if they do manage to struggle through them, I don't expect them to like them. These kinds of books I write for myself, and I like them.

It may be an idle fantasy, but I imagine that one day I'll have a book shelf filled with all my published books (many of them one-copy PODs that were "published" only for my benefit). In fact, I imagine my life to actually be (documented as) a series of (many) books. At any given time, I can pick up a volume and read what it is that I have been. Others could do the same, if they knew the code.

A fantasy life based on books is a counterpoint to a life within society; so this kind of thing comes naturally to me. And yet, I appreciate books like A Cure for Gravity that render characters as sociable beings. It's maybe a kind of wish fulfillment on my part; if I could, I'd be as sociable as anybody else. And I can, in books; specifically in my own books, which I can publish, with some of the content fictive.

Or maybe I mean exaggerated, which I consider to be a proper literary form, even within memoirs that purportedly tell the truth; because this type of lie is truth that hasn't become manifested, but remains trapped within. And, most often, even among "sociable" people, true communion remains an internal mystery. Social status and position exists mostly independent of communion.

This is what I interpret when I read about sociable people and events: Communion is an ideal of mine that I frequently feel, but only when I am alone. Others appear to experience it in groups and that appearance is what comes through when I read about social interaction. So, I tentatively conclude that it's not really in the experience behind the words, but couched within my interpretation.

Back in high school, I don't think I ever gave a single conscious thought to concerns such as social status and position. Then, later, when I thought back to that time, especially the more I dwelled on it in light of issues that came up in my therapy, I thought that, considering my extreme introversion, my social standing might have been far below what I would have assumed it was, if I would have thought of it then.

As it were, I was far too locked inside my head to ever, I would have thought, been a part of any "social" scene, or even want to be. And yet, I was. Because I never assumed, but acted unconsciously as if I belonged, I did, because, I theorize, others took their cues from my unconscious assumption that I was not excluded. The highest socially ranked kids spoke to me and associated with me to the extent I allowed it.

No one ever dissed me back then (like they did much later in my life, when I picked up its reins and tried to control its direction), not even the greasers, who also seemed to be my friends. Maybe because I never actually associated with anyone except in the most casual in-class or in-activities way, others assumed that I was no threat to any kind of social status. I never experienced any kind of social exclusion.

I think of this now as I remember certain girls who were attracted to me and tried to get me to ask them out, either by talking to me "directly" and populating the words with the typical kinds of "innuendo" that is supposed to prompt the guy to act, which I never bothered to have anything to do with until my second year at college; or by using the grape vine to try to "interest" me in them.

All of this kind of thing went over my head at the time; but not quite. It didn't register consciously; but it was stored in memory, so that I can look back and understand what was going on then that I was more or less oblivious to. (Not all of it went over my head; in fact, I could make the case that none of it did, since I remember it. The unconscious mind is a powerful entity.) I exclused myself (so as to not be excluded.)

I remember at the time knowing what a few of those girls were up to, but I had no motive to act (or was too repressed); and yet I was not as uncool as I unconsciously appeared to have thought I was. Not at all; I put up a too-cool front. I know this now because one of those girls who tried in several ways to get me to ask her out was a majorette! And I never even focused on that fact.

So I guess my subconscious attempt to be as cool as I could possibly be worked. I may have felt like Louis Skolnick, but I must have actually appeared to be more like Michael Fitzsimmons. This same kind of mis- (or non-) apprehension happened throughout my life, and still happens even to this day. I often think back to earlier times, even a few days or weeks ago, and pick up missed messages--too late.

My reaction, although a lot more conscious now, is very similar to when I was young: I insist on direct and unambiguous messages from women. I will not play that innuendo game (much to my sexual detriment). I'm a whiz at attracting women; but, usually, that's about as far as I allow it to go. The same is true for any type of social interaction. If the other doesn't pursue my involvement, I demure.

I frequently run across people who will tell or otherwise indicate to me how I affected them or others whom they know (of); and un- or semi-conscious messages, which I correlate to my own stored and disused memories, abound, causing me to re-evaluate my past and come to conclusions I would never have thought were possible: I am a social and sociable being after all; which, out of habit, I choose to ignore.

So, caught up in this line of thought, I get out my high school yearbooks and start looking up the people I (sort of) knew. And it occurs to me as I read their descriptions and consider their lives that they all seemed to know who they were and where they were going. They had definite plans. But not me. I was drifting with the wind; and I still am. I don't fit in so well in this regard, and I have always been this way.

It wasn't so bad back then, drifting, when the wind blew calmly in the protected harbor of my adolescence; but later, during and especially after college, out on the high seas, the storms began. I don't know if the lives of those kids back in high school turned out like they thought they would; but at least they had an idea about where they were headed. I never did. Wherever my life led me, that's where I went.

I lacked focus, I know; but I was so cool about it that few people ever realized it. I didn't know it myself, but if I had, like now, I wouldn't have wanted to change anything. I liked the way I was, playing off my whims, changing direction whenever, wherever; I still do. From time to time I get a little bit disconcerted about "not fitting in"; but I don't think I'd be very happy if I actually did.

And then there were the girls. All of the ones who got jealous of each other when, if they only knew it, whichever one I was involved with at the time had absolutely no reason to worry or be jealous; but they did and were, and thus sowed the seeds of the breakups. I hardly knew what was happening, except in retrospect. Women, initially at least, apparently, like men whom they interpret as being uncommitted.

I guess women figure that if a man is uncommitted, then he's available for commitment; but, usually, there's a reason for the non-commitment. See, here, once again, I've lost my way, lost the thought I was following. That women stuff was much later, not in high school. And, anyway, (at least some) women are just as attracted, I think, to committed men (unless their commitment is to prison or an institution. And even then…)

I spent several hours studying the yearbooks, trying to glean some insight into their mystery. But in the end, nothing much occurred to me. Just the things I've stated above. There's something there, a lot of it, that I should try to make sense out of. But it's way too much trouble. Obviously, judging by my fantasies, an answer exists (if all of this is not just an excuse to try to be something more than I really only am).

And it's probably something stupidly simple anyway, the kind of thing I've been dealing with all along in therapy, which needs, not to be realized again so much as to be absorbed permanently into my personality, which is a resistant bitch; or perhaps not to be resolved so much (since that may be a step too far, too much to ask) as to be explained, which maybe it already has been, but I'm too conditioned to realize it.

That, I think, has been the whole point of this pastiche, and others. Maybe. They're so weighed down with irrelevancies re this (Asperger's) theme that I feel like they're hopeless. I could weed out all of the irrelevant or superficial stuff (the polemics, etc.); but then the books that I'm constructing out of all of this journal stuff wouldn't be accurately me. They wouldn't represent the way I think and feel.

But they would be more ordinary, more "normal." I could extract and re-order all of the events of my life that flash through my mind and result in documented pieces, so that my book(s) resembled more ordinary memoir. Yeah, I could write a book like Joe Jackson's A Cure for Gravity. But it wouldn't be true. Instead, I've written a lot of books like j a jackson, or jai jackson, or Jack Sun, or j krut, or Jo Oh.

Or whoever pops up next demanding to be heard.
That's more like what I really am. Really.2

on the border of maturity

Maybe what I am is schizophrenic. (That's not really true, but bear with me for a bit.) It occurs to me, again (I haven't thought of this in a while and have, over the last year, suspected that it was not true) that I may in fact be borderline paranoid schizophrenic. But what does that mean anyway, borderline? We're all borderline, in one way or another. As long as we don't cross the border...

I've finished that last book and am now reading Strange Angels, by Kathe Koja. This is the power of reading: it shows you what you might be, when you suspect it, from the hints in the text that seem to reveal what you cannot see right behind your face, which is like the trees you can't see the forest for. (Or else, if you happen to have an absorbent mind, it re-aligns your sensibilities via empathy and, more or less temporarily, reconditions your psychology.)

An outsider, perennially outside, unafflicted with the natives' logic, Saskia's logic, pure Z logic that not only accepts its permanent estrangement from what is normal living, normal people's normal lives, but has chosen, fiercely, to revel in it, rejecting both the semi-hope of early illness, where a cure, a return to the normal seems possible, and the bleak blank despairing emptiness of the chronic patient who has forgotten where the lines are, forgotten where the last long step across had come: this was the triumph of Z logic, each intersection, each branching and each revelation of difference: we are not as you, that house said, every inch of it, every tatter, every twist, I am not as you: and fuck you, all of you, every last staring one of you and every stare you ever have. Because this is my house.
Saskia's terminally messy house reminds me of my own, which I worry about from time to time, how it might be perceived, so that I make certain that, from the outside, its true nature is not known, from the outside, what people see, what the neighbor's think they see, is more or less normality. It's important for me to maintain this illusion of a normal house. It's important for me to keep consciously in mind that I am not to step over the line, whence I cannot see back to my past.

Viewed now not as habitat, now that the piss smell had dissipated, the house itself was not uncomfortable and clearly as much a nest for its lone occupant as Robin's pillows and sleeping bags in their own living room...were for him.
When I get like I am now, stressed from something that I absolutely must do out in society, I'm like Robin in Strange Angels, devotedly applying myself to my "art" and when I'm not, sleeping, huddled up in a "nest" of a bedroom, eight by ten cubicle, well-insulated from the cold house and, therefore, the cold world. [The Cold War never ended, as far as I'm concerned. Because it never really was about Russia and America after all. That was just a particular manifestation of the larger phenomenon that pervaded the global psychology, which got into everyone's head, especially mine, because I refused to pay attention to the politics of the day, convinced that it was just another mechanism that the buffoons in Washington developed to distract me from what I really wanted or needed to do. It's like that recent hubbub that's stirring Hollywood these days.

This is all avoidance behavior, all of these distractions from the news [that's how they program it, as distractions, even the next news items being distractions from the previous ones, so that you do not become too locked into any one event, unless of course that event is so significant that it has the potential to generate lots of income, but otherwise so that you will not become too focused on what the real problems are, so that you will spend your money on a new car or truck instead of questioning why the society is constructed in such a way that you cannot live without one, when with only very modest changes, it would be so easy; but they don't want it to be too easy for you, otherwise you would realize you don't need them, your leaders, who only want to lead you astray.] And the reading even, even though the insights it provides drill down into the psyche to reveal all of this, itself distracts from the real problem of the necessity to go out and do something about the problems when you can sit at home in a cozy tiny room and read, all one large, complicated justification for living in the face of not wanting to live up to my social obligations and so hiding out. But eventually I must go out and face up to whatever it is I have to do. Eventually. But not just now. I still have almost two months, or at least one, after all.

Writing about myself in this way is another way that I distance myself from reality. But right now, right now, everything is all right (and it's always right now). Big headache developing. I feel like I'd like to dissolve away into light, like Robin in the novel. That's one solution. But I know that I'm full of...hyperbole: I'm not really crazy, after all. I'm a responsible adult living in a society that doesn't quite suit me (or vice versa); and no matter how far I try to hide away, eventually I'm going to have to do something about my situation. I'll end up going out to buy a car, or a truck, because I'm not one of those "crazy" people who walk along the highway with a plastic grocery store bag or a knapsack and a long, dirty beard. In fact, I'm considering shaving off the beard and cutting my hair short, just to prove I'm (more or less) normal. But what would that prove, really? It would reveal a face I keep hidden, as a mere symbolic gesture, because a beard can't hide anything that a stone cold face cannot (I know this for sure; when I was younger, I didn't have a beard, and photos from that time reveal a cold, hard, non-revealing face), and long hair doesn't correlate with any particular political philosophy any more, and even if it did, I probably wouldn't want to keep it long in the first place, because identifying too closely with a cause, any cause, no matter how righteously unpopular, is yet a social act, which is what, when I retreat into myself, I try to escape from. I devote myself to my decisions totally, hair, beard, art, writing, hiding out, whatever is of particular interest to me at the time, I focus on exclusively.

What engaged her interest, engaged it utterly.
I become fixated on something, explore it in excruciating detail, exhaustively pursue it, if not via research, then within my own mind, extracting every little related nuance I can find so that by the time I let go of it, it has become a part of me, what I am, on out into the future. It's the single focus phenomenon that counteracts the distracted lack of focus caused by the feelings of being overwhelmed by a multitudinous environment, overload, not so much sensory as mental, not so much too much perceptual data as ideas.

You don't realize what it's like for us, all the energy we put out just to live. Any one of us is better than ten of you. It's hard to live the way we do, you know it?
No, they don't realize, do they? If they did, they wouldn't know how to deal with it, the information. They prefer to remain ignorant, because understanding requires empathy and empathy causes identity, and identity with that which is not you is alien possession. Either they don't understand me, or I don't understand those others who are not in fact like me, but only seem somewhat similar because I unwitting empathize with them.

[It occurs to me, that, since I know that I am not schizophrenic, but seem to take on that identity as I read about it, by implication, I do not have Asperger's Syndrome either and am suffering sympathetically with others that I have come to know about, that what I am is neither schizophrenic nor autistic, but a hypochondriac. I know that this idea is not true; but it does occur to me, so...]

" a process. What you have to understand is that there can be so many manifestations of the inner illness, there can be so many changes in personality in the course of the disease that he can seem like a different person," and segue into the litany of relapse, changes in sleep patterns, in activity level. Changes in social activity, in bodily perceptions, in hygiene, in levels of concentration.
So many manifestations, so many changes, like I'm so many different people, relapses, changes in sleep patterns, changes in social activity, in bodily perceptions, in hygiene, in concentration... How can I be so closely identified with all of this? Am I really...could I really be...?

He could see the thoughts everybody was having except himself.
That's the way it is, when you suspect that people are talking about you and even actually intentionally acting in ways that are detrimental to how you want to live your life, even if they are well-meaning things they do that they keep secret from you because they know you'd be pissed if you found out; but also things they do that are not so well-intended, things they do to get back at you because they feel slighted or worse, when you never intended to do anything to them at all but were just acting out you own agenda, just trying to be yourself, just trying to get by, probably overwhelmed by all of the information and attention. So you reality-test the situations because you think your suspicions might just be crazy thoughts, and you discover that they actually are doing things behind your back that affect your life, like maybe they are trying to set you up with someone because they think you need someone in your life, a help-mate or a soul-mate (which I hate, when they do that, and I always make sure that I thwart their plans, no matter how attractive she is, because that's one of the ways that they suck you into conforming to their society and culture and, anyway, I can get dates on my own if I decide that that's what I want, thank you very much); or, worse, they talk about you, spread gossip about you, defame you, innuendo you, character assassinate you, spread lies, or truths, make sure everyone knows exactly what you're up to, whether you are or not. You see all of these things, their plans and schemes, their "thoughts," what's going on inside their heads. Okay. But you're not actually crazy. You don't hallucinate, which is what a crazy person might do, project verified suspicions and actually see them played out in front of you, outside of you, thereby further verifying them in "reality." No, that's not what you do. Borderline people don't do crazy things like that. You can't allow yourself to think you might be crazy, because if you do, then, just maybe, you might be sane, or have moments of sanity to compare your craziness against, see into your behavior just enough to realize that, maybe, you are a little bit askew, here and there. But maybe not. How can you possibly tell, it's so subjective? But you certainly can't trust anyone else to tell you, because professionals are always willing to oblige. It's how they make their living.

What it all comes down to, I think, I want so much to believe, is that I'm not schizophrenic, not even a little bit, I'm not afflicted with Asperger's, despite the perfect fit of symptoms, a far better fit than schizophrenia, I'm not OCD, I'm not anything you can label, because labels don't tell the truth. Classification is a lie, there are no schema in the world, but only in the feeble minds of people who struggle to understand a continuous phenomena of world with a finite capacity and a marked inability to see beyond it. I'm not anything you might want to say I am. I'm just myself. If you want to say I'm disturbed in some way, well, okay. Go ahead and say it. I am disturbed. I admit it. But a part of that disturbance, perhaps at times even a big part of it, is you. Go ahead and blame me for what you do, for what you are. Do you think I don't know what you're up to? Do you really think you're getting away with it without me seeing it? Do you even know you're doing what you're doing? And don't try to maintain that you're not doing anything, because that's the biggest give-away of all. No, I'm not paranoid. I know that you really are out to get me, even if you don't know it yourself. I may not even be plagued with social anxiety. I've been turned around so many times by your society that I don't know so much any more the difference between anxiety and appropriate fear.

Anxiety is so silly. Every time I fret, for days or weeks, about having to go out and do something, when I finally go out and do it, back at home I think, "Worrying about that all this time was so stupid."

And, this time, it wasn't even anything that I should have needed to worry about; but a big part of the problem, this and every time, is not the anxiety so much as it's just that I don't feel like going out.

I've been in an inner mode for quite some time now. And going out hasn't broken that mode (as it sometimes will). I went out today with only six hours sleep, and halfway through my list items, I faltered.

The slow-down (even initially there wasn't all that much speed) began at the bank, when I felt like the funds transfers were dragging. The customer service rep was ponderously dull and unentertaining.

Or maybe it was me. I was dragging. Then, when I went to get gas, I left the gas cap on the pump; and I had to go back for it. It wasn't where I'd left it; but fortunately someone turned it in to the cashier.

But the highlight of my day was stopping by the repair shop on the way home to make an appointment to get the car inspected. I drop it off two days hence. That was the real anxiety producer. Stupid.

Because, if it should produce any anxiety at all, it should be on Friday, if they would call me and tell me that they can't pass it. But they're not going to do that, are they? Because I have a solid plan:

The principalities that govern auto repairs are on my side. And the ones who rule my life are aligned with them. Everything is going to be just fine. There's nothing to worry about. Is there? We'll see.

If it turns out that I'm wrong, then so much for the lame hypothesis of principalities, which I want to believe in so much, but which I doubt so much too. But doubt is so much a part of the anxiety syndrome.

So, Friday rolls around and, as it turns out, I was wrong. The car failed inspection. God missed a big PR opportunity here. If it would have passed, I might have continued on with my principalities hypothesis.

But, instead of settling into winter and finishing my novel and writing the first draft of my new one, like I'd been hoping to do, I'm going to have to deal with transportation plans.

I hate this. Why must I deal with this practical world that's set up to be so expensive? The guy said he didn't even want to try to do the repairs because of the rust. So, I guess I'm going to have to buy another car.

I hate that idea because, other than the few things wrong with this one (rocker panel, quarter panel, and fuel line), it's in great shape and has only 48,000 miles on it. But I don't know who I can get to do the work.

And the total cost could be maybe $1000 or more, which goes a long way toward the cost of a used car. I figure I can get a fairly good truck for 3 or 4 thousand. But what an ordeal that will be.

When I try to deal with the anxiety I'm currently experiencing re the car (transportation, in more general terms), the cognitive plan I've kluged together recently seems to work, especially the stuff about anxiety being frozen excitement, everything is fine right now and it's always right now, and it just doesn't matter. I can use and for the most part have been using these ideas to get on with that other (writing) life I lead when I'm not trying to assert my will on that real world out there to make it fall into line behind my (financially astringent) plans and goals. I run my own world here inside just fine most of the time; and, if it weren't for that occasional interference from "outside," I would hardly be bothered (anxious) at all.

However I have more difficulty in successfully applying this cognitive technique to more generalized anxiety, that sense of foreboding that hasn't quite yet attached itself to any particular problem but rather presents as a simple fear of death or an "Oh, woe is me, what's going to happen to me" kind of attitude. After all, when it comes to dying, I'll be doing it in that real world and not in this internal one. My internal world can be easily manipulated to achieve whatever effect I wish, including, if I so choose to delude myself, eternal life. I write the internal world like I write my books, though less with actual words committed to as text, but more with just ideas repeated enough that they begin to take hold (which is yet a kind of text). The middle of the night is best for this kind of (in)activity.

I've grown even fonder of the middle of the night because when I slide into the night, especially on those days when I've been out in the coldhard world, when I enter my nest of a bedroom and begin to write in bed or divert myself with fantasy and/or listening to music, the awareness that I can do nothing about my "real world" problems anyway takes over, because that world for the most part requires that you interface with it during the day; so I ease up, invoke my little gems of cognitive therapy, and leave the difficulties of the day for tomorrow, most of which, if I'm lucky, I'll sleep through. That leaves, then, only the most pressing issues to be dealt with, transportation and the like.

I guess, being a mature adult here for a minute (ugh), I have no choice but to go out and buy a truck. And, after all, it is a longstanding item of my list of plans and goals, one I never thought I'd actually accomplish because it conflicted with both my financial situation and my desire to become increasingly detached from the trappings of society; but here it is, now, what choice do I really have, I might as well bite the bullet and go for it, because I can't be without transportation out here in the sticks. I could, probably, just survive by walking to the grocery store and buying online everything else I need, but I'd have to give up my infrequent visits to my family, and, oh, wouldn't that be terrible. But, wait. No place for sarcasm here, because I'm being a mature adult. So I guess I'll do it, go and buy a cheap (relatively speaking) truck and push the detachment goal farther into old age once again.

But I still hate it when I think about giving up my cute little subcompact just because of a goddam rusted gas line, and a mechanic who doesn't want to try to fix it. I find myself, several times a day, unreasonably hating him for this; but, I argue, it's not his fault. He's just doing his job, and being quite nice about it too, having allowed to me to slide this far for several years, he's just adequately representing the state authority, which is the real culprit here. And there it is: he's an authority figure; he's The Man. Shit. And I thought he was my friend. I hate people who dictate terms, even when they're nice enough people who are merely representing a demanding social system. So much for being a mature adult.

a whole lot more

And speaking of dictating terms... If I were a bit more neuro-typical, I just might be living with someone right now instead of being off out here in no-woman's land, where I always seem to end up when I stop pretending to be someone I am not. Being socially awkward has its consequences, which I've learned to hide well enough, but not for too long when it comes to someone who will get to know me intimately. The only reason I ever hooked up with women was because I existed in an environment where I met them in the course of ordinary days over a long period of time and we were mutually attracted to the point where they would eventually make the first move(s). Now, I'm isolated, and so have no opportunities to allow them to take advantage of. Yet, as far removed as I have been, I still get the occasional inkling of an approach (they do it tentatively at first and very gradually escalate it until they become quite obvious before they make their final approach), not enough to actualize the experience, unless I would be a "normal" guy who would chase after it, but enough to let me know that the big, wide world of women is still out there and available to me.

I'm thinking now that if I do not at least put myself out there so that the boldest women can take advantage of my presence, I'm never again going to get any. I live in a fantasy world, expecting that, at any moment, some woman I've seen in passing or known in the past or have recently met (or merely seen) is going to come knocking at my door. But, if I face reality, I have to acknowledge that, not only is that likely not to happen (despite the inklings), but even my past relationships, when they happened, suffered in the long term from my introverted propensities and practices.

My life is not set up to entertain and maintain the interest of a woman--except sexually--which, of course, is the least of what women want. If I would find a woman who wanted only sex from me, I probably wouldn't like her. Well, maybe that's not so true. But I don't like the prostitudinal implications. And I don't want to change to bring myself to a point where a woman might actually approve of my psychology and lifestyle. It's taken me a long time to get myself to where I am today. I don't want to backslide to a time and place in my past where I was so uncomfortable. Pick any past time and place; if it had to do in anything resembling social terms, I was uncomfortable. I still am. And women tend to be sociable animals, far more so than men, and light years more so than I am. In a relationship now, my compromise would be merely spending time with a woman, paying physical and psychological attention to her when I am with her (and, if it be known, also when I am not with her) and, maybe, deigning to buy her an occasional present on the occasional holiday--although I'd be more than happy to buy her small presents for no reason at all, when "society" didn't dictate that I should; this is the real problem here, the "authority" of conventional culture, which women tend to take to heart, overly sentimental airheads that they tend to be. (I know I'm overly generalizing here, and in a misogynist direction, but you get the idea.)

My whole point here is: It's not going to happen unless I go out and make it happen, or at least allow it to happen the way it used to. And I've become too firmly set in my ways, perhaps dictated more by my financial situation even than by any psycho-social problems I may have. But perhaps not; that may just be another rationalization. But, what the hell. Why not rationalize? I'm going to blame this all on George Bush. He's the one who presided over the drastic drop in interest rates that drove me even further into austerity. I'm not really complaining so much about it though--except re no longer getting any women. Someone is going to have to take the blame for that.

There is a woman I'm currently interested in; but, as usual, I'm being too distant, too careful. I try to keep her from noticing my presence, because I know she's attracted to me, as I am to her, and if she sees me, she'll expect me to approach her, say hello, and a whole lot more, and I'm no longer all that sure that I want a whole lot more any more. I like the attraction, but not the whole lot more; not that I don't like some aspects of the whole lot more, but it worries me now, all of the extra stuff that goes along with a relationship, like the obligation to buy presents and spend holidays with family, and share meals in a sociable way. I've had to suffer through all of that in all of my relationships, and now that I've been free of it for the last several years, I know how good it can be, how it feels not to have to maintain that false front of sociability and obligation; and I don't think I want to reconstruct that network again, not even for the prize of...well, we all know what the prize is, the reward, for being so gregarious; and attentive. I don't mind the attentive part, it comes naturally to me, after I fall into the intimacy. It's getting to the intimacy in the first place that's always been so difficult, the initial interface, the subsequent negotiations, the waiting, for her to determine if I am the right kind of man to allow into her life, all of the talk, that's what I hate the most, the small talk. I don't mind talking, so long as it flows naturally from the matters at hand or from intellectual concerns; but if it doesn't flow (silence can be enlightening as speech, if people would only know how to pay attention; but they typically don't), or if I'm not in the proper mood, then why bother? Again, we know the answer; but it's so much trouble to chat a woman up when I'm not in the right frame of mind, which is far more often than not. And even if I am in the right frame of mind, I hate that whole idea of "chatting up" or "hitting on." If it doesn't just flow naturally out of the events of the occasion, without any real intent on my part to be going after it, then...

[After rereading that last paragraph, I have to conclude that I really am an asshole. I can legitimately blame my difficult social orientation on the Asperger's; but I don't have to be so blatantly selfish and arrogant, demanding that, if a woman wants me, then she'll have to do all the hard work of maintaining a relationship. I'm such a narcissistic jerk. I don't deserve a woman. I probably never have.]

But she's so beautiful, and so available. She's a bit heavier than the last time I saw her, and that bothers me, though not so much, not the way she looks right now, she's still not fat, and not even all that heavier than before; but the thought that she might continue to get even heavier is a little bit disturbing. Her face has lost, very slightly, that narrow, girlish look; but her skin is as smooth and clear as I remember it, and when later I think back to the image of her that I saw when, busy at her work, I don't think she saw me looking, it's her smooth, clear skin that I remember most readily, and that Irish maiden look. I don't know if she's really Irish, but she looks like it. She's American, of course, but possibly of Irish descent. I can imagine her speaking in a brogue; but I'm glad she doesn't, because that would probably do it for me. If she spoke in a brogue, I would maybe, just maybe, have to chase after her, incapable of resisting. That, maybe, is what my life has come to now, resistance; re intimacy and otherwise. (It's always got to be something, doesn't it? I just can't ever live my life without worrying about something.)

an answer to my prayers

The recent pinch I've just gotten over, all of that crap about needing to buy a new car, etc., makes me wonder (I don't think I've ever paid enough attention) if this is what happens every time I experience one of these difficulties, if I go through this procedure of analyzing the problem in exhaustive detail, lay all of my options out before me, and then, without actually choosing one, wait until the last possible minute to see what will happen. It seems to me that only after I do this can I then feel comfortable about a pending issue; otherwise, I feel anxious about it.

This is not me; but it is. I used to be How did I ever get myself to this place where I have learned so much (too much?), seen so much, when I used to be so...blasé. Nothing ever used to bother me. And yet I am so much the same as I have always been. I just didn't know it back then. It's those goddam dreams that tell me all these things, that show me what I really was (and am) when I used to be so cool. I want to be cool again, and not just pretend to be. (I do a really good job pretending; but only to others now; seldom to myself.) But, then again, it was always just a pretense, wasn't it? In fact, isn't every person's cool a pretense, a defense against those threats of the world that would attack except that they consider the act futile and go attack some more vulnerable soul instead?

The dreams, the random firing of neurons that initiate the electrochemical chain of events that is our sleep time script writer, psychologist, and spiritual inner guide, continually try to dissuade us of the illusions we maintain in order to defend ourselves against what we believe (occasionally accurately) to be a hostile world. You'd think, then, that we'd be better off without them, that maintaining our illusions just might be a better way to live. That just might be good logic, which is probably why our dreams are so obtuse, because the messages they pass on up to us from the deeper regions, if left uncoded, might shock us into defenseless situations. The process of decoding, if we go to all the trouble, slowly over time inures us to the apparently alien content that we don't know is the essence of our inner nature. (The inner/outer split is as much of an illusion as the fiction we maintain to defend ourselves against an "outside" world. We are an integral and continuous part of that world, split off via our illusions as fictive egos.) And that's just the personal unconsciousness's attempt to illuminate us.

We are intimately connected with the cosmos via a unity [it's difficult, perhaps impossible, given that our intellect relies on comparison and contrast to form "logical" thought, to write about these issues without resorting to the illusory language of the split-off ego, so that I can only hint at the unity that defies description] between the personal and the universal that appears to us (when we are at our most perceptive and intuitive) to exist within our own selves (when we refuse to give up the illusion of the ego and realize that they exist within each other in the same way that the apparent ego exists within the same universal whole, noting being apart from anything else); that is, the ego, the personal unconscious, and the universal are the same damn thing.

The "secrets" that the apparent split disguises exist within the undiscovered science of the fields and extradimensional aspects (here again, the words suggest a split that is in fact a mere mathematical illusion) of string theory. We tend (as a species) to interpret these secrets as esoteric "influences" (for lack of a better word); but instances of superstition, however prevalent or "logical" (science contains a lot of superstition too) should be counteracted, resisted, or avoided at all costs, although supernaturalism should be seriously contemplated. I doubt that the supernatural exists; but I have about .01% hope, vested in the folds of extra-dimensions and fields.

To bring this all home: If "God" appeared to me in a dream and told me things, specifically what to do, how to deal with certain problems, etc. I would assume that it was my own unconscious mind that was "speaking" to me. But, really, what would be the difference? Ditto the same assumption re "principalities." Spiritual" "entities" don't have to be "real" in order for them to be helpful. Of course, there's the idea that, if for example they appeared to you while awake, you might be schizophrenic; but dreams are safe, because you expect strange things to happen in dreams, and you also expect guidance from your dreams.

Therefore, expect "God" or "principalities" or whatever to give you advice in dreams; because, where else, as a sane person, are you going to get that advice? From a revelation during a religious service or practice? Is schizophrenia not mental illness when it is legitimized and condoned by an organized institution? Mental illness is not mental illness when the majority in a culture defines the behavior as sane. The mere fact that we as a species have religions that (in theory, when they are not ineffective artifacts, attempt to) enable religious experience would make us a schizophrenic species from the get-go, except that we create our own definitions for sanity. Yet we are each schizophrenic in that we each split off a large portion of our selves and label it as unconscious (if we are "advanced" enough to understand and conceptualize the actual existence of an unconscious "mind" at all); and we split off the rest of the world/universe from our own "self" in the same way. But that's okay, because our society says it is.

I had a dream the other day, something about religion, the content of which I forgot as soon as I awoke; but I remember thinking that it was an answer to my "prayers." I've been theorizing how "praying" [by which I mean asking my unconscious mind for help, which is the same thing as saying that I'm asking the collective unconscious or the universe for help; it all depends upon the system of belief you adopt: Christianity, psychology, pagan witchery, whatever] before falling asleep might provoke dreams that are answers to your problems; which is actually kind of silly when you could do this at any time of the day and, theoretically, get the same result, since the unconscious mind processes your daily experience; it's more the intensity of the "prayer" and not the time of day that's important. In any case, although I couldn't remember the dream content, the feeling that stayed with me caused me to think: No, that's not good enough. I don't want "religion."

My conscious mind was rejecting the implicit assumption that I needed (to join a) religion so that I would exist within a belief framework that could provide answers. Unless I receive empirical (or at least personally experiential) evidence that the message is from God or one of Its direct and obvious emissaries (or unless it’s a product of my unconscious or general unconsciousness, which is my usual source of inspiration and/or enlightenment), I'm not interested. And yet, since I had that dream, my whole affect has changed. I'm no longer anxious, even when I consider either buying a new car or breaking the law by driving an uninspected car. I just easily allowed the decision to recede into the future and stopped worrying about it. What will be, will be.

This dream "solution" (whatever its actual nature was) seems also to have generalized into my everyday behavior: whereas I had been avoiding going out, wanting to hide away inside my home, now I feel like I can enjoy life either out or in. I've been way biased lately toward the in; time to get some balance back.

step by step

By and by as I grew older, and was enabled to manifest my good intentions, not so much by words, as a manner of sympathy and consideration for every one, I was quite astonished to see how much I was trusted and confided in, how I was made the repository of secrets, and how the weak, the sick, and the suffering came to me for advice and assistance.
Hannah Crafts, The Bondwoman's Narrative
I was also acquiring a kind of determination that people sometimes mistook for confidence. Maybe it was confidence, of a sort, but it didn't feel like it.
Joe Jackson, A Cure for Gravity
Hey! We're walking!
Harold Ramis, Stripes
Maybe, after all, I am schizo; two different people, one a recluse, the other sociable. But, no. That's too easy an explanation; and it disregards the overlap, when I behave sometimes both ways, differentially with different people, concurrently even within the same group. We're all like this really, when you think about it: we divide others into strangers and friends, we feel in control among friends and skittish among strangers. It's just that, now, having finally "succeeded" in establishing the lifestyle I've always wanted, that reclusive part of myself is fully actualized, right out there in front of me for everyone to see.

But have I gone too far? I guess so. Now I've got to work on the other side again, the charming "socialite" (that's sarcasm, of course; the socialite part at least) that I've allowed to lapse into near oblivion. But do I really have the balls to do this once again, now that I've freed myself from the ugly grasp of the chronic stress of full-time social emersion? Do I have the balls, even, to drive an uninspected car? To ride a bike to the store? To walk to the store nearly every day?

I walked up to the store today, a mile there and a mile back. It was a trial run, to test the waters, to determine if this is really how I want to orient myself in this suburban life, walking in a land of motor vehicles. It went well. Before I even got off my street, I was greeted by an old couple getting out of their car. I'd never even seen these people before, although they must have been living here for quite a while, it seems to me. They were quite friendly, and I was equally friendly back at them. Nice feeling. On the way home, on my street, a car passed me. When I got to the house where the car had pulled into the garage, the woman was just getting out of it. It seems it took her an awfully long time to disembark. As I approached her, she didn't close the garage door, as it seemed to me should have been the natural thing to do; rather she headed on toward the basement. I looked up at her and she said hello, and I said hello back, and we exchanged the typical how-are-you's, and I got the idea that she waited for me to arrive at her residence before she got out of the car so that she could say hello. Maybe not; but it was another pleasant neighborly experience. I live down at the farthest end of the road where we permanent neighbors (there are a lot of rental units down here) tend to remain isolated from the main part of the street. This walking practice may introduce me to a whole lot more than just exercise.

My excuse for going to the store was to get fish food. But, instead of going for the usual overly priced commercial flakes, I thought I'd get some ordinary fish and dry some of it out and flake it. And I found some on sale for $1.50 per pound. The fish love it, little cannibals that they are. (Oh, and don't give me any crap about it. What do you think commercial fish food is made out of?)

It generally turned out to be a good day. I may be opening up a whole new phase of my life, walking out among the neighbors and businesses, seeing the world again the way I used to see it as a teenager before I got my first car and went mobile; or, after that, when I used to go camping out in the wilderness to experience nature first hand. But this is a different kind of nature, suburbia. And, in a way, it's just as wild along the roadside, though highly polluted with discarded refuse from passing cars. I'm still not sure I like the idea of walking along the road where cars travel along at thirty-five miles an hour, when they obey the speed limit, which many of them do not, even if there is a sidewalk now most of the way since new businesses are required to install them in the township where they don't exist.

Still, though, whatever the outcome, it's a new phase. The feeling of meeting people, if only in passing (I passed and greeted more people than I thought I would, even on the main road), is a kind of opportunity I don't get by going shopping in a car, parking in a lot, and participating in the great American suburban consumer mentality; it's a different kind of feel, walking. I like it. Potentialities abound. I might become a social person. Who knows? Maybe I'll even make a few new friends. I remember this attitude, friendship, from my past. Whatever happened to me? I've been assuming, for quite a while now, that I've always been this isolated, curmudgeonly semi-hermit, and there is that aspect of my psychology that exists within and determines that orientation to the world; but it's not been so real in fact throughout my life, and my perception of the way I relate to the world is not so accurate as I seem to want it to be: despite the way I have felt, the facts of my life seem to indicate that I have behaved, much of the time and despite my psychology, rather sociably.

I have been, throughout my life, a sociable person--both in the moment among strangers (when the anticipation of being among strangers would nevertheless disturb me) and especially among friends I've known for a while and become adapted to and comfortable with. I tend to block this aspect of my life out when I think about who I am and have been. I need to work on correcting this aspect of my self-image: I'm a likable and charismatic person when I am out among people, and I should start to see myself that way--without getting too big a head, of course. I could easily end up thinking of myself as some kind of postmodern guru if I don't monitor my behavior. I've been known to succumb to an attitude of self-importance and know-it-all-edness (subconsciously; I don't realize I'm doing this, and when I finally do realize it, I intentionally stop the behavior in its tracks).

The quote above from A Cure for Gravity helps me to resolve what I've been thinking of as another conflict (it really isn't), which is at the basis of the socialite/recluse split: I am both extremely self-confidence and self-doubting, often at the same time. The doubt comes from the Asperger's orientation, when I will feel not so capable of facing social situations and so experience anxiety. The confidence is born of determination, and persistence; because, no matter what the social circumstances are, I will get my way, one way or another.

Another false dichotomy I've been living with is that of normal v. not normal (or crazy v. sane). This (of course) is a social definition and so only applies when others judge me; and when they do, why should that judgment be mine also? I have (always had) my own self-definition apart from what others have thought of me, although I've always been, also, very susceptible to and manipulated by others' influence, when I wasn't aware of it; when I become aware of it, I find ways to disregard it--like I'm doing now with the car inspection thing.

I notice that (some) people, perhaps sensing my "craziness" (but probably projecting onto me their own; or possibly because of my stalwart appearance) are afraid or hesitant to approach me; yet some people do not hesitate at all, perhaps because that's the way they're built, or perhaps because they see right through my veneer. I like these people who are not afraid of me. These are smart people, and some of them are fairly straightforward, the ones who get through my bullshit filters. I do not respect the cowards (like me) who do not approach people. I know what they're like, I live their kind of life every day. (This is an obvious, and frequent, projection of mine.)

But, sometimes, people "approach" me (in any situation, whether I am in or out) and then don't like or are dismayed by what they encounter (the Asperger's or the schizoid tendencies) and they back away (psychologically, usually). But these people should know, they should expect, that if they approach me, wanting to know me, they're going to hear my truth. If they don't like what they hear, too bad. This is especially true re e-mail; some people, even some friends, e-mail me and then are a bit taken aback by my odd or overly intimate, or whatever other non- or semi-appropriate response, when my guard is down.

I may not actually be crazy, but I'm enough out of the ordinary that ordinary (i.e., dull) people will be(come) wary. I will not cross the into total acceptance of my craziness, nor will I abandon the hope of being something different, something better, improving myself and my position, I will not give up trying to maintain the awareness of seeing myself as others see me, nor of trying to construct the front I wish others to perceive (nor of being myself, at least in my own presence alone). And I do cross the line of becoming irrevocab1y who I am; I reserve the right to change who I am from time to time and do not settle for that which I now think I may be or that which people wish me to be that I am not.

Whether I am or am not crazy, it's much easier on me to think of myself as crazy, as long as I don't lose my sense of objectivity (which is, in fact, the definition of sanity, so that being 'crazy' takes on the meaning of being merely different). Thinking this way, I don't have to worry so much about what I say or do. I'm "crazy" for wanting to live without a car, for trying to further detach myself from the social mainstream; but I think I worry about it too much. I've got to give in to the craziness a bit more; and I realize, after my successful walk all the way up to the shopping center, that I've taken some big strides in that direction. (Heh!) Now, even if I end up buying a car or truck, I don't have to use it so often. I can walk. I can get most of my food and do all of my banking by walking! I am freer than I was only a week ago, and most of that freedom of increased detachment is mental, my having decided to do it.

And the more I walk, the more used to it I'll get, the better shape I'll be in, the more healthy I'll be, the more comfortable I'll be with the short journey, the more I'll own that stretch of road. This is my highway now! Perhaps, soon, this will be my township. Actually, it already is. I owned it a long time ago, when I first learned to drive and got a car; but now, it could become mine on foot, which makes it a far more intimate, if less extensive and accessible area. This is a big, big breakthrough for me, walking to the shopping center. Big advances come from small accomplishments, step by step.

ten-lane highway

So explain this now: You wish, want, work for one thing, but instead something else happens, the thing you most dreaded, the thing you tried your best to stop. And then it turns out that what you wanted, all you wanted and more, stood hidden behind what you didn't, and to get to one you had to take the other first.
Kathe Koja, Buddha Boy
My relatively short bouts of anxiety, now, are relatively easily weathered. Absent any real concerns that drive me deeper into it, I get over these episodes rather easily. I think back to when I was working full time and wonder at the stress I was under and the anxiety I endured. It was a constant condition then. I didn't suffer from the occasional "pangs" of anxiety I now feel, when I do. I was in a steady-state of perpetual anxiety so that I didn't consciously attend to it at all; it was who I was, my baseline condition, the way I felt myself to be, so that I had no thought or motivation to consider how I might be anxious. The only time I gave it any thought was when it peaked during critical times, such as when I'd get stage fright at having to speak before a group of unknown people, when I'd have to go to special meeting, etc.

Now I live pretty much full time without the affect and feel only occasionally pangs at thoughts of future difficulties and the rare advanced peak of a difficult "social" problem (like worrying about getting the car inspected). But I'm wondering: is it, after all, a functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) affect? For example, when I was, all summer, vaguely worrying (worry is a pre-anxiety state) about the car, was it because I knew, but would not admit it to myself, that the real message my mechanic was trying to send me back at last year's inspection was that if I did not get the car repaired, that he would not pass it again? I think so. So, is this the case every time I feel a peak of anxiety, that a message is being conveyed to me, by my own subconscious mind, that there's something here to be attended to, or at least some kind of content to be dealt with mentally, something I'm avoiding that I should be making fully conscious?

Maybe. Or, maybe, after all, it's merely simply (or not so simply) an electro-chemical reaction. ('Simply' is not a descriptive I'd generally apply to the human mind.) Chemical reactions have real-world consequences and, vice versa, real-world causes have chemical effects. Just because the amount of a particular chemical in my system may peak doesn't mean that the real-world component that my mind latches onto to "blame" the condition on shouldn't be a real concern; or just because a real-world event causes anxiety in me doesn't mean that a chemical peak is not (also) responsible. The two must coincide, I think. Some people may be affect-free despite the tumultuous life they lead because they have a well-balanced bodymind chemistry; some people may be plagued with all kinds of mental problems even though they may live in seclusion and relative comfort. Most people lie somewhere between the two extremes. It's a two-way street (or a ten-lane highway), the world and I; and no matter how much I fight it and try to make it the one-way country lane I want it to be, it's not gonna happen.

In Community Market, a girl, a young and very cute blond, is standing beside a small display of large seed packets (the kind that bulbs are sold in). They are being given away, one to a customer; but I want two. She says I can't have two, but I have a coupon that says I can; so, okay. We stand very close to each other, our faces nearly touching, as we examine the seed packs as I try to decide which kind I want; it's difficult to read the packaging, so I'm not sure which to choose. I get the idea that this is not about seeds.

I awaken out of an early morning 'nap' (I didn't sleep last night and only managed two hours this morning) wondering what the seeds symbolize. These journal entries, perhaps. Or maybe these two or three hour naps, which go a very long way toward relieving any residual anxiety I might semi-consciously be feeling and serve as the basis for a new beginning--much like walking did the other day, the exercise relieving stress, so that when I returned home, I felt tired, and yet oddly "refreshed." So this afternoon I decide to take another walk.

While I'm walking, I like to think of myself as "in training" (like the Opus Dei guy on the History Channel program about The Da Vinci Code said) making myself "tough," or at least "tough-minded," so that when I need to be, I already am. Forget about that stuff I thought about the other day about owning the township; today, I own this world, and I'm just letting all you others live in it, nice guy that I am.

Walking gives me lots of time to think, freed from the typical constraints that being grounded to a piece of property with all of its responsibilities and the tasks to be completed disrupting the thinking process. And my voice recorder lets me capture the freed thought as I walk along:

I got an e-mail from Netflix last week.
They want me back as a customer. Ha!
There are two things Netflix must do in order to get me back:
1) Discontinue and publicly disavow its "throttling" policy.
2) Formally apologize for having duped its customers.
Otherwise, I'm (still) waiting for the great American capitalist system to start-up a competitor to Netflix so that I can join it to contend against a company that deceives its customers and causes them anxiety. I wonder how Blockbuster is doing with their similar program. I'll bet they throttle too.

I really liked the convenience that Netflix provides. But I will not under any circumstances deal with a company that engages in their kind of deceptive practices. I worry enough as it is; I don't need the additional stress of wondering if Netflix is going to charge my credit card for the cost of a DVD that they claim was never returned or waiting for DVDs that arrive five days late because I've had the foresight and discipline to take precise advantage of their promise to deliver DVDs in one to three days, thereby maximizing my rentals at close to thirty per month and minimizing my cost per film to about fifty cents. I mean, what do they care, really, if I get thirty as opposed to fifteen movies per month? They have tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of DVDs in stock. It can't matter to them if I manage my subscription as efficiently as I can--except that they want to manage their books to show a $2 per DVD gross and so slow down delivery to make that happen. I could accept this policy if they stated it up front. I'd pay $2 to rent a movie. But, instead, they claim that you can rent as many DVDs per month as you want, and then they deceptively slow down delivery and blame it on the post office. Fuck them.

I hold the voice recorder up to my ear upside down so that the mike is closest to my mouth so that people driving past me on the road think that I'm talking on a cell phone:

In the book Strange Angels Robin and Saskia "see" what Grant does not when he lusts after Saskia; they "know" that, if she has sex with Grant, rather than cause problems between the three of them, as Grant wants to believe, it will relieve them of his burden of guilt via lust. I think of this as I see, as I approach the shopping center, two guys and a girl hanging out in the parking lot, smoking, the girl sitting on the hood of a car and the guys standing in front of her. They're young and probably work in one of the stores and are on their break; or else they're just hanging out, maybe waiting for someone. It's probably something very innocent like that.

But I can't help reading something sexual into this little get-together--because I really am a pervert. The walking exercise is going to my head, making me a little bit giddy. I imagine I can "see" into their motivations, because, a lot of the time I imagine this anyway, so why should now be any different; and, anyway, I've actually verified, on any number of occasions, that what I "saw" was actual fact. Schizophrenics (two of those three characters in Strange Angels were schizophrenic) "see" things, and not always via simple hallucination. They "know" things, via intuition perhaps, their ability to by-pass the ordinary social filtering process (social conditioning) being compromised so that they attend to behavioral phenomena that other "normal" people are socially trained" to disregard.

I often feel that I do this exact same thing; but I'm certain I'm not schizophrenic, because that is a social definition, and when I see/feel this way, I am not acting socially; that is, I'm operating in a "world" outside of society. (If that isn't a circular definition, I don't know what is.) And schizophrenics, when they write, use a lot of "quote" marks. I don't know if that's really true or not. I just made it up. But it "sounds" true. And it plays into the light-hearted way that I treat my schizoid reaction to life, a stance that I adopt because I have a very good insight into the differential between subjective and objective experience and can easily observe myself from outside myself, monitoring my behavior as if I were someone else, so that I just can't be insane, because insanity is an incapacity to act responsibly, thus making you not responsible for your behavior, mental behavior included; and objective self-observation is the essence of responsible mental behavior. (I know I'm conflating the definitions of insanity and mental illness here; but, right now, I don't care to sort it all out.)

Now I've crossed the huge parking lot and have arrive at the grocery store, so I put the voice recorder away.

On my way back home, I see that the smoking trio have departed, and so has the car the girl was sitting on. Too bad. I wanted to see her again. She has nice...body parts. I like women's body parts, practically all of them (but not in a pathological way; I only like them when they're all put together on a living body). The "Boston Legal" episode last night was about the illegal selling of body parts. You can't legally buy body parts except through the monopoly created by the medical establishment. They continue to influence legal authorities to prosecute offenders in order to maintain their stranglehold on the organ transplant process and disallow democracy and capitalism to work. Under the guise of public safety (as if the medical establishment itself always acts to that end), medical ethicists argue that body parts' sales endangers people's lives and health; but, at the same time, the restrictive system enables a black market that is even more of a danger.

One of my old girlfriend's used to sell her hair, for charity. She'd grow it very long, and then have it cut off. And, as far as hair goes, we're allowed to sell the roots (as far as I know). Not quite the same thing as a kidney, I know; but blood is similar. Take a kidney and you can still live : take two, you die :: take a pint of blood, no problem : take four and you die. Not a one-for-one correspondence, yet comparable nonetheless. And we can even rent out our whole body for drug experimentation. The critical distinction seems to be whether the person's life is endangered during the excision/extraction procedure. Understandable, I guess. But what it comes down to, for me, is that my body parts are my property. I should be allowed to do with them as I please. In fact, it shouldn't even be and issue of "allowability." The government should stay out of my body altogether. I believe in laissez-faire in law, politics, and body parts. (Actually, I don't. I'm just being funny; or is that ornery?)

My mind is racing as I walk along. I'm nearly home and I want to keep walking; but I recognize the cognition: I always seem to (want to) go too far, in anything I do. If it's worth doing, I over-do it. When I get back home, I have a beer and go to bed, exhausted. I shouldn't have walked so fast. Next time I'll go slower, take it a bit easier; or else I'll continue the pace and get back in shape faster. Six of one...

I fall asleep thinking about who I am, which is usually an entertainment that I reserve for waking; by the time I'm going to bed, I'm firmly resolved in my identity by virtue of my well-established waking psycho-physical state: I'm some combination of OCD, ankylosing spondylitis, Asperger's Syndrome, with suggestions of a schizoid formation. But this is just not true. That is not me at all; those are the conditions I have learned how to live with, at best my personality, the way in which I interface with the world. My true essence remains, most of the time, locked inside, what I vaguely feel in the gaps between the affective and physical disorders, my base self.

I'm in an unknown area, sort of like an unknown room at my grandmother's house, but also a bit like an outdoor area. There are lots of small, round, green "pods" scattered around, as if they were huge seeds of some kind. I recognize these as precursors of humans, yet not babies, but full-grown people; and at the same time I recognize them as ideas. The pods start to die, as if they cannot be sustained by the environment. In a way, this disappoints me, but in another way I am happy this is happening because the pods are not of my origin, but someone else's (alien, via the sci fi symbolism). And in a way I am the one who is killing them off, not intentionally and not overtly, but via my own ideas. There have been about five or six good-looking women hanging around who are somehow responsible for the seed/pods. They gather around me and begin to rub themselves up against me and soon they're fondling me, intentionally trying to make me ejaculate, and as I do, they gather the semen in their hands and spread it around their torsos, front and back. This is supposed to generate more pods. When I awaken, I think immediately of the studies that determined how a woman's physiology works to favor a lover's sperm over her mate's when the mate's is injected first and the lover's later. And then I remember David Bowie's sexual behavior in The Man Who Fell To Earth. This dream was sort of the opposite, where, rather than I exuding sperm though my pores, the women seem to want to absorb it. (Others absorb the ideas that I exude. If you are reading this, you're absorbing through your skin the sperm that you've rubbed all over your body. Eeewww.)

I think about my walk earlier in the day. I've been wanting to go out for long walks for a long, long time now, many years in fact; but I never had the gumption to actually go out and do it. And the thing I most didn't want to happen was having the car fail inspection. But the failed inspection has motivated me to seek out alternative ways to support myself, should I decide to live without a car. Hidden behind the thing I most wanted not to happen was the thing I very much wanted to happen. Even more amazing is that that little gem of wisdom appeared in a book I was reading just as it was happening in my own life. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. I always try to get more out of the events of my life than they really contain. But don't we all? On the other hand, there's so much more to life than meets the eye (or mind). Such as with my home insurance company:

just wondering

I spoke on the phone with a lady, Liz, who represents the company that just cancelled my house insurance [which is maybe one of those things I wanted to happen hidden behind one of those things I definitely didn't want to happen. (My insurance is cancelled, but a save a chunk of money yearly.) This lady from the insurance company (which happens to have an office at the end of the cul de sac I live on, in the small industrial park there that's closed off from all traffic, both vehicular and foot, by a cyclone fence, so that, even if I wanted to walk there, which I don't, I'd have to walk in the other direction, down to the main road, into the industrial park, and back up the hill to the company, a distance of over half a mile, all when the place is only four houses from my own. Society is stupid]. This lady has been sending me letters (actually only two) telling me to call her, which I assumed to be attempts to upgrade my insurance so that they could squeeze me for just a little bit more money, because everyone else is trying to do it, so why not them?

But, as it turns out, she wants to rewrite the policy, for some reason still unknown to me, like maybe they're discontinuing that particular line and switching over to another carrier, or whatever chicanery they're up to over there; it's got to be something not quite so above board, considering everything else that's happened with them. Anyway, after a year or so of my non-response, they send an inspector out to inspect the property (which was the second time in two years they've done this; the same guy showed up last year) and then I get another letter (maybe the third; I'm not sure), wherein I confirm, between the lines, that she and or the company lied: in the letter, she said they found a few hazards during the inspection; then she goes on to say she thinks they can rewrite the policy.

But, I reason, if they know of the hazards and are going to try to rewrite the policy anyway, then why? At best, isn't that illegal? Or unethical at least? This is a cover-up, a diversion away from the fact that their sole purpose was to cancel my policy.

When they sent their notice of cancellation, they said in their letter that they told me previously that I had to correct the problems they found in their first inspection. In fact, no one told me any such thing, not the inspector, whose visit I would characterize as routine (although I suspect now that it was anything but), nor anyone from the agency, which I had not heard from at all, except for the vague letters asking me to call them, until I got the cancellation notice. They didn't even tell me the problems existed, let alone telling me that I had to fix them or my policy would be cancelled.

So, I conclude that the attempt to re-insure me with a different (mobile home) carrier is a ruse to cover-up the fact that they failed to properly inform me before they cancelled my policy. They knew before they even convinced me to make the attempt to apply that the new carrier was going to reject my application for new insurance (which would have a premium that would be double my old rate). I determined from the tone of voice and meticulous, non-conversational, dismissive, matter-of-fact, falsely casual way she was speaking, that Liz was downplaying the cancellation while getting the facts that she needed to get on record, little comments inserted into the "conversation" that suggested that I had in fact been told of the pending cancellation a year earlier, while obviously avoiding stating those facts outright for fear of having me contradict them "on the record" (yes, the call was being recorded), all just in case I would ever have the audacity to appeal their decision to the state insurance board. This is all realized thinking back, after the conversation ended, of course. But it hardly matters, because why would I want to do business with that kind of company anyway, even if I really wanted to find house insurance? And, anyway, don't all insurance companies treat their customers like that, and worse?

And, now that I think about it, I wonder if the "inspector," who presented me a card indicating that he was from an organization apparently independent of the insurance company, was in fact an employee of the company; or, rather, that the inspection agency he represented, was an insurance company satellite. I don't know this to be true. I just wonder.

And another thing I'm wondering about: "The British seeking to change the law in order to lock up people with personality disorders that are thought to make them likely to commit crimes, before any crime is committed." No need to wait for a "minority report." They're already arresting and prosecuting people for their "intent" [which is sort of the opposite of this article's contention that science is well on the way toward proving that we have no free will], such as when potential pedophiles are caught by cops posing as juveniles. The "offenders" never actually need to do anything because the law allows them to be prosecuted for trying to do it, Or even in some cases for thinking aloud about doing it. Conspiracy is such a nebulous and nefarious concept, on both sides of the law. I wonder how far we will go as a global society before we wake up and realize how far off the righteous way we have actually gotten ourselves.

I just finished reading Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja. Now here's a righteous book by a righteous author. If everyone in the world were as... But, never mind. I always feel cheated when I read a short novel; but not this one. It's only 117 pages long, but it's so compacted and so skillfully written. The characters are well-developed and the story is complex. This may be Koja's most "normal" book. Her other books are about strange and/or quirky subjects like bottomless holes in utility closets (The Cipher), schizophrenia (Strange Angels), kinky sex (Kink), or self-mutilation (Skin). I like those books more than Buddha Boy. They're far edgier; but Buddha Boy is written for teen readers, so my preference is understandable. For an edgier teen book by Koja, try The Blue Mirror, another short novel about street kids and the teen artist they lead astray--for a while.

I'm bouncing around, generally distracted but trying to keep myself together via my preoccupation with creating a pastiche of conceptual (as opposed to literal) reality. Obsession, though it has its productive aspects, often sets up conflicting motives within me when it comes up against my desire to just "fuck off" and bounce from this to that without a concern for where I might end up. Usually, I can resist (my relatively mild form of) OCD rather well and allow my freer self loose. But there are some areas wherein it is harder to resist than others: in writing, it is a benefit, since it forces me to be meticulous and precise; but in art or music, it's a detriment, since it tends to focus my attention on technique as opposed to expression (whereas in writing the expression happens automatically, so technique is a welcome focus). When I do art, all of my equipment and supplies must start out and remain in order as I work, and I must use all of the paint I portion out so that none is wasted, which focuses me away from projects I want to do and onto those that are designated to use up certain types and colors of paint; waste not, want not. (Likewise, in writing, I must use up all the words from my notes, but my developed style allows their inclusion and even transformation into perhaps something else entirely without missing an expression; in fact, enabling it). My painting method is not flawed per se, but it directs me away from expression; and, in music, I must learn and execute each passage perfectly, which for me is impossible, so that I tend to lose the rhythm, which is also a problem of expression. (And, besides, when I perform music I become too self-conscious, which also causes me to lose my way; a different problem entirely.)

The problem, of course, with anything I do that involves other people (performing music, for example, although that difficulty outlined above occurs also when I perform alone) is Asperger's (which is not surprising, since I find, now that it has been revealed to me in my later years, that it permeates every area of my life, and always has). I can't think of any incident, past or present, where its influence goes unnoticed now. I used to wonder what all of these past embarrassing incidents that kept popping into memory signified, the ones that I "shy away" from remembering, or when I do entertain them, berate myself for doing so or engage in dismissive or distractive verbal behavior that serves to make me feel better about myself? Now I know that they signify nothing other that being merely Asperger's motivated behaviors.

They hardly matter any more, after I recognize the Asperger's connection. The memories still pop up from time to time; and I will still feel embarrassed by them; but only until I make the recognition, that I am only what I am and fuck anyone who tries to convince me otherwise. I have a new tactic I employ when these incidents haunt my memory: I am sincerely sorry for and repent for all of the bad, wrong, misguided, stupid, and/or unwitting things I've said and/or done. (I never intended to hurt or dis anyone.) I am thusly forgiven and the incidents are all forgotten (again). I don't, for example [not that I ever would anyway, although you never know, as old age creeps ever nearer and you start to feel a bit afraid and maybe feel that you might want to relent and repent of your recalcitrant ways in order not to be left out of some eternal afterlife], have to accept Jesus as my "personal savior" to avail myself of this "Christian" benefit of forgiveness, because all of the Christian messages like this one are mere repackaging of standard psychological principles that exist independent of religion, which is a human construct formed after the fact to justify or rationalize the way life and human nature is, sometimes fairly accurately and sometimes entirely superstitiously perverted.

So, when I feel those pangs of regret that I will feel from time to time that are caused by memories of stupid things that I have done, I immediately repent and accept the forgiveness that the universe bestows on me (and, more to the point, I accept my own forgiveness, for having been such a dumb and/or naive, mother-fucking, Asperger's motivated shithead or whatever I was when I was doing them); and I can then forget about those things and move on, just as the Universe moves on, within me and without me. Nevertheless, I sometimes wonder...

now and again

But enough is never enough. I'm always looking for more. It seems there is no end to the optimism and self-confidence I can summon in the face of apparent futility.

So I'm back in the market--the stock market, that is; I've never really been out of that other market, relationship (to use a nicer word). My nephew has gotten me psyched again.

Actually, I don't know why I stayed out of it this long; probably something to do with fear, and not working at a job, and wanting my money to rest secure in insured accounts.

But when, on Thanksgiving, Jimmie told me he had joined an online trading firm and invested in Cisco, I felt a pang of jealousy. I can't let him earn more money than I do.

I came home from a long, long day of Christmas visiting, worn out, frazzled, overloaded, oversated with both good and crap food, way too much sugar for way too many hours.

I wanted to stay up and document the overload, to pour it out and be done with it; and I tried to do just that, but I couldn't manage it and I fell into oblivion, slept deeply, and then...

I'm in a grocery store, one of those neo-stores that looks more like a warehouse and sells a lot more products than just groceries, sort of like a Home Depot of grocery stores. I feel like it's late and the store is about to close (recurrent), but then I notice that there are hardly any products, nor even very many shelves, only a lot of empty space. I cross a large open area to the other side of the store, which is even emptier. Employees over here seem to be dismantling everything, as if preparing for a final evacuation. At one time, I think, this side of the store must have sold large products like appliances, etc. I decide that the store is either going out of business or has already. No one pays any attention to me, the few employees being a long way off and preoccupied. I have a few items in my cart, but there are no checkout aisles, so I push the cart out the front door, figuring that if I'm required to pay for the stuff, someone will stop me. No one does. There are very few cars in the lot, but I can't find mine, it's nowhere to be seen (recurrent). Cut to:

I'm in a nice house in an upscale neighborhood with db. We're both naked. From behind, I direct her with my hands on her shoulders out through glass sliding double doors toward the back yard, which is huge and sort of like an ocean front. I'm heading her toward the beach where we will lay naked in the sun. But when we get outside, there is no beach, but rather a huge expanse of lawn of at least several acres, with woods a far distance away. From the porch, an open, lanai-type landing with a solid rail just high enough that our lower parts cannot be seen, we see two girls, quite a ways away because the yards are so big. They're shouting at each other in a friendly, teasing way, their hair blowing in the wind. I'm very attracted to them (to their distant appearance, really; most women look good at a distance). I've brought a blanket with me, which I drape around the two of us, and I start to have sex with db from behind. She calls out to the girls, asking them if they want to come and watch us. They cross the distance of the open area, come up onto the porch, sit, and watch us have sex. Hot.

The grocery store is a "market." The stock market? But the market has no stock; and neither do I yet. I sent money to my broker a while ago, but it's still sitting in my cash account.

I don't know what to buy. Everything I want is "up." Putting the two parts of the dream together: Stock analysts and investors are sexy. Money is sexy. A solution to my woman problem.

I never really took advantage of my social position when I was younger and could have done so easily. I could have gotten almost any woman I wanted, but I never cared so much to do it.

Mostly because they came to me. I never chased after women because I didn't have to. Or, more correctly, they chased after me because I refused to do the chasing.

But, if I could do it all over...I probably still wouldn't chase women. If I would, I could do it right now; and I don't. When I turn on the charm, they come running. Cool.

Well, some of them come running. A few of them. Enough. But I seldom turn on the charm any more. It's just too much of a fantasy. They're not getting what they think they will.

Soon enough, they learn whose way of life, whose fantasy, is going to predominate. Fantasy rules my life, even when I think I'm living in reality. I think this is true of everyone.

But there's fantasy and then there's fantasy. Living a real life that's a manifestation of an unconscious fantasy is one thing; but hiding out in your house fantasizing is something else.

My favorite fantasy is time travel to recent eras where I can demonstrate my genius by appropriating ideas of others' modern genius that the past has not yet seen.

But it's idle fantasy, ultimately devoid of satisfaction, a waste of time: which unfortunately is my major forte. But never mind. It's human nature. Everyone wastes time, now and again.

I just happen to do it better than most people, partly because I have a genetic head start, and partly because I've practiced it so much throughout my life, traveling through time.

Time travel, right now, is impossible; and I suspect that it always will be. Here's how I know: If people could travel back in time, some of them would already be here.

"Aha," you say. "Maybe they are here."

I know they're not, because if they were, they would have introduced words into our vocabulary from our future; it would have been impossible for them not to have, because, if one person will have learned how to time-travel, lots of people would eventually follow, and people generally are not able to control their grammar and vocabularies. Even trained actors must engage in intense practice in order to replicate language from a previous era, which they render within a highly controlled environment. Imagine scores of time-travelers trying not to say "groovy" or "rad" or whatever word or technical jargon is currently in fashion when they departed their own time while visiting, say, 1900 NYC. Lots of strange vocabulary and usage would inevitably be accidentally transferred back in time as people emulated the time travelers, who would, simply by virtue of their advanced knowledge, become first-class citizens. Our "modern" language would gradually work its way back in time, predating and preempting our current culture; our history would change, but our memories would not, so that we would be confused when we discovered, as eventually we would, through the various kinds of research that we, even automatically and unthinkingly, engage in the course of an ordinary day, that what we personally experienced as the origins of phrases and colloquialisms were "in fact" coined far earlier, even back as far as prehistoric times, since, eventually, the phenomenon would spread as far as time travelers ventured. This language phenomenon does not now exist; therefore, if time travel is possible, how to do it has not yet now been discovered, which creates a profound paradox:

Why not? In order for us to one day travel through time, we will have had to have come back to the time where time travel was first discovered and changed the language usage; but we didn't--yet. This presumes that we would be, in the time-travel-discovery present, the central focus of time; but only to us in this given present, not to those who are in our future. To posit that something about this current time and place (whichever time and place it "would" turn out to be when time travel would be discovered) is absolutely special in the history of time that will be so radically hereafter altered is a fallacy akin to that of anthropomorphism in animal studies. Let's call it chronomorphism:

The entirety of time is dependent, not upon a continuum, but upon our (time travel discoverers') single time and place, which will change the nature of the universe and cause the previously known present to cease to exist. Of course, this could turn out to become the case; but if it would, we would not be at that time who we think we are; we would be instead time travelers, increasingly rapidly intermixing generations and eras until what we thought was our present disappears and time becomes as it has always been in theory (mathematics), malleable, and our present fades away, never to have existed because time travel had always been possible, because the future exists contiguous with the present and the past, as evidenced by the fact of our ubiquitous existence. We'd be like the proles trapped within the ingsog system in Oceania, the facts of our past changing so fast that the only existence we believed to be true would be the one before our eyes at the moment of experience, changed, not by Big Brother's vast army of dedicated history rewriters, but by an army of time travelers who carried the future into the past and with it the semantics of an ever-mixing uber-language along the lines of but far more profoundly than that depicted in the movie Code 46.

We will know that time travel is possible when the world outlined above comes into existence; but we will not know for long because the linguistic environment will change at an ever-increasing rate until past, present, and future become linguistically indistinguishable, differences over time obliterated by usage change. [And this explanation totally ignores the effect that people from our past, once they discovered the time travelers living among them, would travel into their future with the travelers, further complicating the cultural juxtapositions.]

But I prefer to believe that time travel will never be possible for the earlier reason given: the point of discovery reason, where the effects of time travel obliterates that discovery and even all of history as we know it and will know it, forever into the future. That change would be so profound that we would become a different thing altogether, more like the Borg than what we are today. Hmmm. Maybe I'm talking myself into the possibility of time travel after all. In any case, my argument holds that it has not happened yet. Only in my dreams.

what the mouse did, and didn't do

Lately, I've been having these long, complicated dreams that I barely remember the details of. The little bit that I do remember, when I go to write them down, hardly seem interesting enough to bother with, the complexity of detail disremembered. Last night I had this complex dream about living in my grandmother's house, although it wasn't her place, really, because we lived on the third floor and her house only had two floors. I had a wife and a daughter, neither of whom I now recognize, although in the dream I knew who they were [i.e., I knew who their real life components were; I think]. I was severely depressed and wanted to do nothing except sit and stare off into space. My wife was tolerant and completely loving and understanding, and my daughter only slightly less so, not so much non-understanding as disconcerned, caught up in the details of her own teenage life. This went on for a very long time through a whole series of details as I slept and awoke slightly, trying to review and remember the details so that I could write them down later; but, of course, I did not. Each time I fell back into sleep, I dreamed up a new set of details that, briefly awake, I tried to remember. When I finally awoke fully, I compared myself in the dream (a definite character different from my own self, although the affect seemed like it could be my own) to Sam Elliot in the movie Off the Map.

I fell back asleep, then, and dreamed another dream, the details of which are completely lost. But I tried to do the same thing, awakening slightly to try to remember the details, but failing to. In both dreams, and in a number of earlier ones, it was as if I were writing the dreams as I dreamed them, in a few dreams actually dreaming that I was writing them out as a dream image. If I could actually work this way, what a great time-saver it would be. Someone needs to invent a way to record dreams. [Good sci fi idea, similar to that Christopher Walken movie where they recorded brain activity. I forget the name.]

I awoke out of that last dream thinking about when I was young (almost thinking for a short while that I was still young), when people would ask me to do something (this is what the dream was about) and I didn't want to do it. I'd tell them no, and they'd persist, asking, pleading, cajoling, until, to shut them up, because I didn't want to be bothered, I'd agree to whatever it was they wanted, usually deciding beforehand that I wasn't really going to go along with their plans, but only agreeing in order to shut them up. Sometimes I had no choice, then, to do what they wanted me to do; but often I just wouldn't show up wherever and whenever I was supposed to. Usually, I was determined to do what I wanted to do and nearly equally determined not to do what I didn't want to do. As I awoke from this dream, I "heard" (hynagogically) the words, "And that's what the mouse would do."

So, I was the mouse when I was young (in the sense of "Are you a man or a mouse?"). People (thought they) could convince me to do what they wanted, because of my passive-aggressive "giving-in but seldom following up" behavior. Analyzing this now, I realize that I had them on a hard to extinguish variable ratio/interval contingency management schedule: they (the lab rats) "convinced" me (I allowed them to "convince" me by giving-in when they persisted and I didn't want to be bothered); after a period of time (interval), determined by the schedule they themselves set for my later performance, when I either showed up or didn't (ratio). They never knew (consciously) which choice I would make, so that they could never predict when they would get the "reward" (my appearance), only that they would get it, eventually, if they persisted; so they continued in their attempts to try to get me to comply with their wishes, having been most thoroughly conditioned by my ("experimenter's") behavior. And, probably, their persistence to gain my initial agreement to comply was similarly conditioned by me.

They should have learned, i.e., I should have taught (conditioned) them, that I was not steadfast in their decisions, but only in my own. They could sway me through their determined persistence, but they couldn't make me persistent in their determination; but I acted against my own better interest by establishing the wrong contingency management paradigm. Life is so bothersome this level. This behavioral stuff really works; but it's so much trouble to figure it all out ahead of time and apply it to our daily lives, even when the results would be so important to us, that we choose instead to bumble through life accidentally training people to act in ways we would rather not have them act. And we all do it--except, I suppose, for those few egg-headed psych geeks out there who take all the time necessary to figure this stuff out and apply it; but probably not even them, they're probably more interested in spending their time conditioning lab rats to run through mazes or push little bars to get food pellets.

But imagine if they, or we, or I, would actually go to the trouble of programming our stimulus/response behaviors according to a schedule so as to achieve the effects in our lives that we wanted. It would take a lot of thoughtful planning for each specific effect, so we would want to apply the plans first and foremost to the most important and significant aspects of our lives; but it could be done. And it is being done, mostly unconsciously, I suspect, by successful people; what do you think it is that makes them successful? Do you think they get that way by virtue of their rich parents? They do, but it's not so much a matter of legacy money as it is the fact that they've been trained since birth in the great art of applying contingency management to their daily lives.

So, if all you kids with less affluent backgrounds out there want to succeed at what you do, you better seriously consider what kind of contingency management conditioning you're applying to your social situations. (Think networking, for example.) Believe me. I have much first-hand experience at it: I've trained a lot of dogs; and I've discovered through extensive retrospection (if I applied as much thought analysis to my future as I do to my past...) how I've suffered relative to others because I never bothered to try and train people, which would have relieve a lot of personal grief, I think. Think how successful we could be if we approached life consciously in this way. We would be so cool.


What do you want?
Establish a stimulus/response schedule to get it?
Implement the schedule.
Never, never, deviate from it (except according to subsequent extinguishing-resistance training via ratio/interval schedules, which is not really deviation at all, but a part of the original contingency management plan).

Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
1. I use the labels 'black' and 'white' herein (and elsewhere) because: 1) It's simpler; 'Afro-American' is so hard to keep typing out all the time, and Caucasian isn't much better. (And, anyway, my ancestors were not from the Caucuses.) 2) Blacks call "us" whites, even though that is neither an accurate nor a bias-free term. 3) There are no accurate descriptors for who and what I am, short of a complicated lineage explanation. 4) Black and white are great generic terms and probably as bias-free as we're ever going to get. 5) I feel that 'people of color' is deceptive, at best, and even exhibits a bit of reverse prejudice. I consider myself to be a person of color. (I prefer to be called tan, especially during the summer when I've been out for a while working in my gardens.)
2. If this content seems a bit strangely "bookish," it's because, before posting it, I (re-)wrote it to be the ending of the actual book that I'm constructing out of this material (as opposed to the idea of a metaphorical book that I play with in the text above).