I could make a plan/goal to finish the crawlspace and turn it into some kind of a living/storage space. If I would actually do this, it would prove that I am truly crazy. (Or maybe not, if I would have a good rationale for it, like wanting to utilize completely all space available to me; but, on the other hand, if my rationale were to hide in there from the cops, or whomever, turn it into a kind of panic room, then...)
I'm protesting (via walking and therefore not buying gas), not merely the high gas prices, but the whole rationale behind using petroleum based products and the cultural orientation of the society toward the easy, non-renewable, postmodern airhead phenomena. Hiding out in the crawlspace (from/for whom/whatever person/reason) would merely be a further extension of that protest against postmodern society, which alienates me even as I often try to incorporate it (myself) into my (its) sphere of influence.
When I'm involved in any kind of social enterprise, what I contribute, apart from my time and activity (which tends to wax and wane with my mood/focus) is my spirit and my support. People don't typically recognize this about me and begin to wonder what it is that I do, how I am contributing, even if I should continue to remain involved, especially during times when I become less physically active (at their purposes).
But, if they don't understand my value to their (or our) enterprise, if they can't see my psychological contribution and so then subtly act to drive me away (which people will do, usually in an underhanded, gossipy, behind-the-back way), then it's their loss, not mine (I have audited the effects of my departure on several projects and have noted the subsequent loss of "spirit"); because I take my spirit with me and continue to benefit from it, in the continuing meta-project of my life, while they are left to their own devices.
I do seem to be different from most others: The way I learn to do things and master skills is, perhaps, unusual: When I'm determined to learn and/or master some skill set, I must obsessively pursue the subject in as complete and exhaustive a manner as possible, far beyond the limits of the skill that I must learn; I must investigate every single aspect, incorporating even all of the associative materials I come across into my organizational pattern.
Then, as I begin to understand not only the subject but also its context, I can start to back off, which I never do intentionally because I always want to go on and on with the research; but real-world matters and other interests eventually intervene and I take a narrower, more practical view of the subject, yet always feel short-changed and, almost, kind of defeated.
Most people seem unconsciously to want to get away with learning as little as possible about any particular matter. They want to know just enough to get by, or perhaps (rarely) to become among the best in their chosen field of interest; and then their inquiry stops, at a place where they determine they need not go beyond.
I on the other hand want--or need--to push on into every little nook and cranny of the learning experience, examine every nuance of every single association. It's a bitch, trying to master any given subject--because what I'm really trying to master, if the truth be known, is the entirety of the universe.
My basic lifelong attitude has been that I don't need anyone. I am compromised from time to time; but not so very often. Basically, I can do it all myself, thank you very much. I theorize that I act this way as a result of early rejection. It's an old theme, derived from therapy, not worth repeating.
I fight, constantly, an unwillingness to make eye contact. I've trained myself to counteract developed negative effects. But I often unwittingly devolve, when I let my guard down. And I overcompensate, which endears me to people, for a while. They think they like what they see, until they really see it. Over-approach is really as much debility as under or none. Friends I make, automatically out of my need, misunderstand. When I inevitably withdraw, they wonder at how odd I am.
I have very low physical and social standards; but I have extremely high standards of personal existence and interaction (which pretty much is saying the same thing, if you decode both statements correctly). For better or worse, essentially the only significant social contacts I have left is my family. (I pretty much discount my neighbors because, well, if I would allow it, they would just be too close):
My brother calls me to tell me that he has been trying to call, dozens of times over the last few days, but has been getting busy signals. That's because, I say, I've been on the internet. (I still have dial-up.) Then he asks me what I wanted (when I called him a few days ago), as if he doesn't already know, because his son, if he told him he talked to me, would have also told him that I wanted my chain saw back; I need it to clean up the accumulated wood in my yard. I say it's too cold now, so I'll get it tomorrow when I come over for Easter. He says it's not available, he has it out at a job site. I ask when he'll be done with it. He says today or tomorrow. I say, okay, then I'll get it tomorrow when I come over. Okay, then. That's done. The expectations are registered. Now let's see what happens.
Of course, I just know what's going to happen; but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt one last time, before I pull the plug: He'll make up some lame excuse for why I can't have the saw; but this time I'm not going to be put off. I'll suggest that we go and get it, so that he'll have to make up another excuse. I'll press him as far as I can, I'll tell him I really need that saw; whereupon he'll tell me he'll bring it over tomorrow. And I'll ask, "What are the odds?" This is intentional baiting: The goal is to get him to react; and if he does, it will either be positively or negatively, probably the latter; but, again, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.
I want to say a lot of things that I probably will not: I want to ask him if he really believes that people don't know when he's not telling them the truth, if he actually believes that they're fooled when he tries to deceive them? Does he really think that people are dumb enough to fall for his lame excuses just because they're too polite to let him know that they know what he's all about?
Furthermore, I should inform him, all people create their own situations in life. If he thinks people are out to get him (which he does; the alcohol has made him increasingly paranoid over the years), it's because he created that impression in their minds. They're not so much out to get him as they are wary and untrusting of him and feel that he can't be relied on--because he can't. And he created that situation, not the people who feel that way toward him. Or, if they really are out to get him (in some cases, it could be true), it's because they feel that he got them, in one way or another, that he cheated them in some way; because he has. He's cheated (and/or acted irresponsibly toward) his own brother, so why shouldn't it be true that he would readily cheat anyone?
I feel disempowered, disrespected even, when he treats me like he does, calling me with his excuses--because that's what that phone call was all about, I think: He knew he had to prepare me ahead of time for the fact that the saw would not be there when I came over. He acted on the phone like he didn't know what I wanted and, when I told him, he acted as if his entire purpose wasn't to prepare me for the absence of the saw, as if telling me about it was an afterthought, when it was his whole purpose, a deception.
Like, years ago, when he couldn't find my beam balance that he borrowed and tried to convince me that he gave it back to me. What happened to those things he borrowed and never returned? Did he sell them because he needed cash, like the little bit of cash he got from the mark-up for the service panel that he bought wholesale and charged me retail for, another deception he thinks I know nothing about? Yeah, he has been treating me disrespectfully for a long time now; and it's time to do something about it. I'm tired of pretending that I don't know what's going on.
Am I being paranoid? I don't think so. It's not about me, is it? He treats everyone this way. Or if I am being paranoid, maybe it's a contagion I've picked up from him. I think so. I'm certainly experiencing some extreme "intuition" here. All of this content has been long coming and the saw incident has precipitated it. I didn't want to lend him the saw in the first place, because I rely on it (too much) and I know how casually and coarsely he treats tools.
Okay. If it comes to this, I'll write off the saw and go out and buy a new one, if only because I unwittingly allowed myself to be ripped off by Dunn when he never returned the old chain saw that I gave him to repair that my brother gave me, thinking I might be able to make it work when he couldn't. And I've already decided, long ago, to write off the 400 plus dollars he has owed me for many years, although I intend to keep it "on the books" so that he'll continue to feel obligated, which, perhaps, just might convince him at some point to have to act responsibly. (I doubt it; but you never know.)
Or, I could hold hostage the various tools he's left here over the years until he pays me what he owes me; but I probably won't. Or, I could sell them and deduct the proceeds from his debt; or I could simply hide them and say I sold them. This would be a drastic move, and I'm not ruling it out, especially after any break that might occur as a result of my new approach of refusing to pretend to be deceived by his ongoing deceptions.
I recognize this as a familial script: My father permanently broke in this same way with my uncle, over money my uncle owed him. And if it comes to a break, if I provoke an inappropriate defensive anger in him that reveals the guilt he secrets, especially from himself (it's happened before), I can use not having a legal car as an excuse not to visit them on holidays any more, which I should probably do anyway; because his wife is not all that much better than my brother is at social relations, though for very different reasons, and I would like to be free of her even more than to be free of my brother's chicanery. (But I would miss a great deal my visits with the kids.)
[It's interesting that none of us have a whole lot of talent at social skills and, by virtue of my intentional study and remediation, I may be the best among us. This idea has never occurred to me before, that they may have had at least as difficult a time as I do with socialization, but don't recognize it and think that they are so much more sociable than I am. Or...I may just be projecting again.]
I hate to have to think of my brother in this way; but I do. (I don't mind thinking of his wife this way; she's not family.) And the time has come to confront this situation, in one way or another. The time has come to draw the line in the sand: He will no longer treat me in this way. He should remember this day (tomorrow) well. (I should tell him this; but I probably won't.) This could be a major turning point in his life. [But any day could be, really; every day you choose to go one way or the other, act to improve or worsen your situations in life.]
He probably doesn't realize that he has had my unflinching support, despite his disingenuous antics. His wife is constantly trying to turn me against him (not realizing that if she would ever succeed, I'd in turn disconsider her even more), trying to use me in her ongoing battles with him; and in each case I try to support him without upsetting her (too much).
But tomorrow is a particularly critical day, I strongly suspect (intuit). Tomorrow is either the day that the world turns in his favor once again (i.e., he decides to begin to act responsibly, which the universe always favors in the long run, despite appearances to the contrary), or it's the day that he digs himself in so deeply (by losing his last bastion of support--well, maybe that's not true, he still has our sister, who lives far enough away that she can remain unaffected much of the time; but, then, that distance waters down his unconscious feelings of her support) that he loses all hope of ever climbing out of his hole. But maybe I'm being overly dramatic here; maybe he lost any hope years ago, maybe that's his real problem. All I can do right now (for him and for myself) is wait until tomorrow and see what it brings--and, meanwhile, write about it.
So, anyway, the test is coming: Either he gives me the saw and I am paranoid, or my intuition is correct. And if it is, then I don't think I want to associate with him any more. The only reason I've wanted to visit his family on holidays is because I've been comfortable there. I no longer feel that way, even if he does return the saw. I "intuit" that he really wanted it for a job and lied to me about needing to cut down a small bush; and I don't like how he's been treating me re my electrical problem either. (It's been six months since he started working on it.) I don't like how he's been acting in general. I'm not longer comfortable. Maybe he's in the process of becoming just like anyone else to me.
I woke up on Easter morning with the same script still running in my head and I feel compelled to sit down and write it all out again before I go over to visit my brother and his family, perhaps as a kind of verification of what I should do, how I should act, when I leave the safety and security of my enclave and head out into the bigbad world:
I've been feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, and now the early spring, which always keys spikes of minor paranoia in me, is starting to play its typical tricks: my brother's recent antics have gotten to me and I feel (again) like I want to disown him. I suspect (and I say this with much caution) that he's been selling things for quick cash, his business all but ruined, leaving him with no real income to speak of; yet he always seems to manage to find a few dollars for a bottle and/or a case of beer.
This irks me to no end because, since he borrowed my chain saw last week and is now making excuses for why I can't have it back, I can only assume (perhaps erroneously) that he's sold it. It makes me suspect that when he "lost" the beam balance he borrowed from me a few years ago, he actually sold it.1 And, when he bought the service panel that he said he'd install last fall and never did, he charged me retail for it, even making a point to show me the receipt; but I know he gets a contractor's discount and the supplier provides him with a retail receipt.
Now, I'm thinking, how can I continue to tolerate this behavior toward me? When I saw him acting this way toward others (which is his normal behavior), well, okay. But toward me? I figured that he would treat his family differently. But I may have been mistaken, because I can't see how he treats his wife all that well either.
The mere fact that I can think these things about him points as much to his unreliability and irresponsibility as it does to my own paranoia. Of course, the same argument can be used against me, when people have thought that I was things that I (literally) was not (although an unrealized unconscious tendency may have been unconsciously perceivable and translated--i.e., rationalized--into negative attributions).
He doesn't really like me (although he does respect and admire me, though he may not willingly admit to it); and this feeds back to me and has been taking its toll in the form of my attitude toward him. I'm increasingly finding myself not liking him either, as I get to know him (learn about his behavior that I have been blind to) better and better, as he entrenches himself in his situation as an alcoholic. This works both ways. Does he not like me because, unconsciously, I have not liked (or accepted) him? Which came first, the chicken or the non-acceptance? Both evolve together. Whatever the case, the phenomenon seems to be escalating. He's wearing out his welcome with me. His self-fulfilling prophecy is coming true, despite my attempts to head it off. Is it still paranoia if your intuitions turn out to be true? Or, to put it another way, just because people are out to get you doesn't mean you're not paranoid. It's difficult for me to see it coming, sometimes--the paranoia.
Usually, I only recognize the paranoia after an incident has occurred. But this time, by writing out (and editing and writing out again) my fears and suspicions ahead of time, I headed off the incident. When I return from visiting my brother, I have a different attitude entirely. It seems that the "world" has turned in my brother's favor; or, more correctly, that he has turned himself in his own favor--because he must have decided earlier to stop drinking (again) and the effects of it were quite obvious from the moment I arrived. He was a different person, more like the guy I used to know, friendly, non-caustic, interested and interesting. I may have intuited this and built my idea of it being a make-or-break day for him (and/or me) around his decision and action to change that had already happened earlier in the week. Or he may have intuited a coming break and acted to head it off. Or it may just be another coincidence. But it's so difficult to accept coincidence as the primary way of the world. We always want to attribute motive to our existence.
As it turns out, he didn't lie about what he wanted to use the saw for. I assumed that the bush was in his yard. Here, too, the problem was all mine (this time). My paranoia, more than my brother's past behavior, influenced my "take-a-stand" decision; and everything is the same between us--or maybe better. He even gave me his old guitar when I told him that I was trying to learn jazz method, but was having a hard time because all my guitars weren't suited to it because they weren't cut-aways. It wasn't a gift, it was more like a permanent loan. (He said he'd get it back when I die. I didn't say that I thought he'd die long before I do.) Nevertheless, I am so appreciative. The action is among the best I've ever played; and I'm not only talking about the guitar here.
Since first starting the novel weeks ago, I'd been impressed with the idea that the content suggests that of The Celestine Prophecy, and now I'm suspecting that the similarities extend even to the form, that maybe Oe is mimicking Redfield's bad writing style. I find this difficult to believe, so I go and get the book to see when it was published, and I verify that it is in fact six years older than Oe's book, so that I conclude that mirroring is at least possible. I'm increasingly convinced of this dubious argument as I read on and begin to find the material increasingly boring; and, at the same time, I find that it strains my belief system with its increasingly incredible content in the same way that Celestine did.
As I read on, I keep thinking again and again, "I must be missing something here, Oe must be up to something." I'm hoping that by the time I finish the novel, he will have turned the material in some way that I favor, so that I'm not left with the idea of having wasted all of that time (it's a long and somewhat difficult novel) on some lame end-of-life attempt to appease the gods and gain entry into a idyllic afterlife (like old people tend to do, becoming converts and watching religious tv in search of salvation). I want to verify this Celestine allusion (if it's true, it's probably a lot more than that), but on the other hand I don't want to be bothered. I'm not a literary scholar, nor do I really want to be one (unless I could be it without all of the difficult and painstaking work that would be involved).
Once again, fed up with the struggle to understand difficulties that I really would rather not bother with, I set aside the novel, turn on the tv, and pick up the guitar. I practice the guitar during commercials while I'm watching tv in bed, before I fall asleep at night; and the ad music always pisses me off when its increased volume makes it hard to hear the guitar tones. Apparently (I've never noticed this before), I get a lot more easily pissed off in the early spring. In the depths of winter, I'm more tolerant of the cold, having withdrawn (both physically and mentally) and venturing out into it only occasionally, steeled against it; but in the spring, cold spells start to piss me off, after I've begun to crawl out of my hole and feel like becoming involved in the physical world again. I've long known that my (various) symptoms (including physical ones like back pain) increase in the spring and all but disappear in the fall. But even though I am consciously aware of their approach, I never seem to be able to head them off, but only act remedially after they occur.
For example (or maybe not), people write about me "behind my back" in the same way that they talk about me (if they do; but of course they do; everyone does, although how much is the real question). People who (sort of) know me write obtuse descriptions and prescriptions in their blogs that I imagine refer to me; but, if they are doing it consciously, they are clever enough to couch their remarks in highly generalized statements so that, if I would ever challenge them, they could merely say that they weren't talking about me at all and what's the matter with me, am I paranoid or what?
I want to think that "they" think that, when I write, I adopt alternate identities that are not true, or at best exaggerated; because I sometimes do, although how could "they" possibly know that except via psychic/intuitive (or perhaps literary) powers? Which, again, spikes my paranoia. Are they referring to me in their cryptic posts? I think that I should backtrack and look up the references and pore over them to try to elicit via an "intuition" of my own as a concrete example of how these are disguised messages to me, because "they" don't dare face up to me and tell me what they are really thinking.
In this same way I am (maybe) accused of exhibiting a "false effusive sympathy" as a bid to be accepted (a symptom of my "autistic" state of mind). Or am I misinterpreting everything again and the comments are nothing more than passing and the phenomenon mere coincidence? Or, maybe, some process beyond all of us is at work and we're tuned into some unconscious meta-mind that coordinates information we pass back and forth between us without any or very little conscious awareness. In the end, I decide, again, to let it all go, because, although I'd like more to be a psychic guru than to be a literary scholar, still, it's way too much of an investment of time and energy and the conclusions are tentative at best.
In any case, the lowest common social denominator phenomenon rules out ninety-nine plus percent of people knowing what the hell I'm talking about most of the time anyway. Society is leveling like that. I take sides, or I used to, often; but people seldom appreciate my "help" when it seems to them like its counterproductive because my communicative abilities ebb and flow with my attention. [This all makes sense, maybe mostly at a meta-level, but I don't expect anyone to understand the transition.]
All of my self-conscious politico-social life (and even before that, when I did it subconsciously, as a matter of an automatic innate sense of justice), I supported and defended women and minorities, long before it was the popular and politically correct thing to do. (In fact, when it did finally become politically correct, I backed off in my defense and toned my rhetoric down quite a bit.) And I did this vocally and aboveboard, and not in secret while protecting my social image (which, as a result of this and other aspects of my psychology, was never all that secure to begin with).
Now, I feel a little bit shaky as to where I stand re this agenda. I will continue, I am sure, to defend underdogs wherever I happen to come across them. But, as far as I'm consciously concerned, women and blacks are on their own from here on out. The Imus affair has convinced me that they're quite capable of defending themselves; they've risen far enough within the society to use their newfound power to attack and denigrate (in their own self-righteous way) the people who would attack and denigrate them. They no longer need my meager help. They've joined the mainstream in their ability to deny and project their repressions and neuroses as well as the people who represent the former (and often remaining) authorities have.
In this regard, all of my life I have been rather radical. (In other regards, especially economic, I have not.) I've been a staunch champion of the disenfranchised, feeling myself among them, though most of my life never consciously realizing how, or even for the most part that, I wasn't, having existed only tokenly among them, and only by personal choice and not at all by birth. But now I worry that maybe, in my desire to defend Imus, I'm turning into a conservative. (Oh no! Isn't that what happens to you when you get old?) But then, when I think about it all another way, I realize that, in one fell swoop (whatever that cliché means), Imus has gone from top dog to underdog; and, although I've somewhat enjoyed his wit but never really appreciated his politics, I never felt that he deserved my support as an actual fan--at least not until fairly recently when he began badmouthing the current administration.
Look. Everyone agrees that Don Imus is an asshole. Which makes him a perfect hook for my projections. I've understood this about myself for a long time: I'm wary of criticizing assholes for fear of revealing too much of my own inner self. Now I may be achieving the same result by taking up the Imus "cause," because I believe that in this country anyone has the right to say any fucked-up, ignorant thing he (or she; e.g., Ann Coulter) wants to say, even on the radio and/or tv. And I believe in capitalism [but not necessarily (all aspects of) corporate capitalism], which dictates what will be communicated via the media: If you don't like it, turn it off; if enough people do not patronize the programming, it will go away; and if enough people do not stop listening and watching, then democracy prevails via its capitalistic free market.
But, Al Sharpton is every bit as much of an asshole, and a bigot, as is Imus. (I know how controversial that remark appears to be; but Imus is not that much of a bigot.) The main difference between the two men is that Sharpton is a far more politic (and duplicitous) person and so better disguises his (perhaps unconscious) agenda, while Imus lets it all hang out for everyone to see. So, when you look at it this way, who's the better person? This is the basic lie of the neo-"black power" movement, that it doesn't achieve its advances at the expense of white denigration. [Denigration comes in a lot of different forms, and a few of them rely on revisionist history and/or role-reversals.]
People like Al Sharpton want to usurp the power they find themselves in possession of to use toward their own agendas, which are not necessarily always so democratic in nature. (Political subversion and innuendo are more often forms of an autocratic method.) Sharpton is way too angry at Imus over this recent incident. It seems like there's some serious (reverse) repression going on here. [I understand that you may believe this stance I'm taking here is a form of bigotry, because I seem to have violated that sacrosanct liberal hands-off policy of catering to blacks, no matter how right or wrong they may be. But, at the risk of being politically incorrect, I must inform you of something you may not wish to hear: Black people can be wrong too, despite their history. And when they are, as in the Imus case, I feel free to point this out.]
You are, of course, free to disagree with all of this if you wish; but if your intent is to shout me down and thereby shut me up, like you try to do and often succeed in doing to the less politically correct band of talking heads on the tv, then fuck you, asshole. I'm a citizen. That's what Imus should have said; but, of course, he was trying to protect his livelihood, which always tends to compromise one's freedom of speech. (I'm glad I don't have to worry about that so much any more.) But, as it turned out, it didn't matter anyway. He didn't see the trees for the forest. He didn't realize that he was the perfect person in the perfect time and place to become a sacrificial victim of political correctness. Ah, well. So be it. Individualism is increasingly under attack in a country that was once its bastion. There are (marginally hidden) signs posted all over the place: "Fit in--or else."
As long as there are words and topics that blacks can say or discuss with a supposed expertise that whites (supposedly) cannot or do not have, then blacks will remain second-class citizens; because, when as a minority you set yourself apart from society, for whatever reason, you invite discrimination (and probably thrive on it). Ask the Jews. They're longstanding experts in this area of human relations. And true individuals (not those faux ones who pretend to it as they develop their careers; in films, for example) are inherently subject to the prejudices of society, because they have no real social fallback position and must survive entirely on their own. They have nowhere to go when things get tough and society turns against them.
Thankfully, we still have space, the final frontier. Dissidents can still go out beyond the reach of social sanctions and freely perform to their own agendas. [Remember how this country was founded? It sure seems like we've forgotten. We have no problem remembering back to the revolution, but back beyond that it seems to get a bit hazy; and we even seem to have forgotten a bit about what that revolution was all about. Hint: It wasn't really about the tea tax.] And, now, in these times of distant mass communication, individuals (and others) can broadcast back their ideas from as far out as they can get. Hey, Don. Say hello to Howard for me when you get there.2
Tuning in to others' psyches has always been way too easy for me. (Or else I too readily project my own unconscious content onto them, which may be the reason why I think they think they know as much as think they do; but, no; at least some of the time, what I perceive about them is the truth.) And it's as much divination as it is discernment. My mindbrain is a mechanism that seeks out correlations between known facts and mysteries in my environment (usually dealing with people rather than with processes, although it works in that social way too). As an obscure analogy:
If liberal politicians were as cold and ruthless as conservative politicians, they would have beaten the conservatives into submission long ago; but, then again, that could never happen, because that is not the nature of liberalism. It is, however, pretty much the nature of neo-conservatism, which has pretty much beaten liberalism into submission over the past few decades: as I have beaten back my defensive, reactive nature so that I appear to be a liberal, when, in fact… I see lots of others who do exactly this same thing. My brother, for example, believes himself to be a liberal, all of his bigotry notwithstanding. (I'm sure he doesn't realize he's a bigot; he's got it well repressed.)
Occasionally, I turn my attention to other, more external, mechanisms of divination, looking for corroberation; but I seldom ever find any and I shortly give up the effort and return to my more "natural" (i.e., comfortable) workings within:
1. The I Ching: When casting a "reading," using the coin method of casting instead of the more complex yarrow stick method is, I think, too arbitrary. Certainly, chance remains an important element, and there is the theory that chance governs fate; but more important than that, I think, is the fact that divination requires that intuition be more active than coin tossing allows. The sticks enable intuition to come into play more directly when the mind initially projects its contents onto them to determine the hexagram, which is a kind of "advance" interpretation, even before the hexagram is "consciously" (re-)interpreted to apply present mental/environmental content to the reading. Of course, this is a far more profound experience if the reader already has an intimate knowledge of the entire I Ching, because the unconscious mind has ahead of time the info needed to project onto the sticks, combining both the I Ching knowledge with the reader's own understanding of his/her present conditions to choose the hexagram that is most appropriate, in a far more personal way than the mere chance elements of nature provide when tossing coins. (But maybe not; it's all a matter of how much innate wisdom can be attributed to nature. I tend not to attribute so much personal info to it; but, then, who am I to say?)
2. Other texts, the Bible, for example: any text can serve the purpose, more or less (but ones that are written in the most general terms are always the best). When you doubt your own conscious abilities, they can help you to plan out your life, informing you as to how to proceed (whether correctly or not depends, not upon the text, which is always given way too much credit--for example when the fundamentalists interpret the Bible literally--but upon the accuracy of, insight into, and intuition of your own projections onto it).
3. Solitaire cards games (and the Tarot, as a more specific and detailed projection device) to intuit, when the cards fall into place, if "luck" is with you; or, when they do not, if it is against you. [Focus, not on "luck" that exists in the real world out there (maybe it does and maybe it doesn't; probably not), but upon how you make your own luck via perceived opportunities you might have otherwise missed when you might not have paid attention because the "cards" were falling out of your favor.]
4. "Automatic art" (a la automatic writing), in which you can "see" things.
5 The (external) weather can affect your "internal weather"; but it doesn't have to because you can override that effect if you so choose:
If you don't feel like acting, it's probably an indication that you should remain in wait mode, although if other indicators suggest that you should act, then you can first act to override your internal weather; and even the positive boost gotten from the mere investigation of other indicators can act to change your internal weather, which is very suggestible (by the physical weather, by body chemistry, by the foods you eat, etc.)
However, if you do feel like acting, that doesn't necessarily mean anything at all. You can want to act but the "cosmic forces" (including internal ones) may be aligned against you. The energy produced by the desire to act while you have determined that the prudent thing to do is to remain in wait mode can be easily directed into planning, preparation, and organizational activities.
6. Recordings made while you speak in tongues, which you can later listen to and "hear" things in: Speaking in tongues is supposed to be a "gift of the spirit," indicating that the Holy Spirit inhabits the speaker. And, in a sense, it's true. I don't believe it literally. But my logic goes like this: In order to speak in tongues in the presence of others, you have to overcome a certain amount of inhibition. I mean, no one wants to be seen acting foolishly; and speaking in tongues does appear to be a somewhat foolish sort of behavior. It requires a certain amount of trust in the people you're with, a certain degree of "openness," for lack of a better world. (I'm intentionally trying not to use the word 'communion' here, lest I belittle that lofty ideal; but, really, that's what I'm talking about.) So, if you've got a bunch of people standing around willingly making fools of themselves by opening themselves up and releasing an inner creative (albeit nonsensical) spirit and accepting each other in an unqualified manner, what is that? Probably as close to true religion as we're ever going to get. Certainly a lot more real than sitting in pews and listening to some pedophile pretending to be better than everyone else when he is actually far worse.
But, far more esoteric than any of the more "standard" methods I might use to aid me in discerning the appropriate time and place to act (socially), to decide whether I should continue to wait until everything comes to me or to actually go and get it by executing my well-established plans and goals, or to figure out what the things that people are saying about me (or not about me) really mean, is what I call my "film" method, which is really a writing method in disguise:
...while the cinema used to make one situation produce another situation, and another, and another, again and again, and each scene was thought out and related to the next (the natural result of a mistrust of reality), today, when we [the neo-realists] have thought out a scene, we feel the need to remain in it, because the single scene itself can contain so many echoes and reverberations, can even contain all of the situations we may need. Today, in fact, we can quietly say: give us whatever "fact" you like, and we will disembowel it, make it something worth watching.
While the cinema used to portray life in its most visible and external moments--and a film was only a series of situations selected and linked together with varying success--today the neo-realist affirms that each one of these situations, rather than all the external moments, contains in itself enough material for a film.
We have passed from an unconsciously rooted mistrust of reality, an illusory and equivocal evasion, to an unlimited trust in things, facts, and people. Such a position requires us, in effect, to excavate reality, to give it a power, a communication, a series of reflexes, which until recently we never thought it had.
Yes, I would like to secretly film people and edit their real lives into a movie, creating the "plot" via chosen scenes and voice-over narration that couches the candid-camera images into a story context. But I can't do this, not only because I'd never want to go out of my way and invest the time, but also because I could never show the films for fear of being sued for using the unknowing actors' images without permission, and going to all the trouble of getting their permission would be way, way too much trouble--although it is a good fantasy, building a filmmaking enterprise that could work to this end.
Therefore (as I usually do with my film fantasy ideas), I must incorporate this idea into a writing method/format: write out candid shots/scenes of real people and construct the story "within" them as "narration" [my stylistic "associations"] The scenic aspect here is the "neo-realism" out of which the "meaning" is extracted and "explained" (albeit esoterically); although the "reality" can yet stand for itself.
Neo-realism is the depiction of reality for what it is, documentary w/o comment (although "comment"--i.e., explanation--is implied via technique and editing), independent of its inclusion in an artificial story. You can have neo-realistic inclusions in a realist (i.e., Hollywood or American narrative) film, where they may serve as symbols or metaphors and be interpreted, not only via the storyline, but also via technique and editing--which is what these neo-realist scenes would do in this proposed writing method, the interjections between the scenic neo-realist passages being a different thing altogether. The interpretation within the neo-realist passages becomes my stylistic interpolations--not the ones that I interject between the scenes (which is another thing entirely, not neo-realist at all but more of a fantasist or fabulist or "psychosisist" kind of thing), but the technique (akin to film technique) that I apply as scenic interpretation. The bare-boned scenes themselves (of which the technique is an integral function and not some kind of tacked-on extra-wordiness) are (not only like, but in fact identical with) my "terse poetics" (the techniques being the poetic function of words; i.e., connotation, association, etc., condensing rather than expanding word usage--not unlike Can Xue's short, pithy, compacted paragraphs).
In more general terms, and trying to relate all of this back to the main theme here, I am free to do (or not do) whatever I want. The catch is that, although I have control over what I write, I don't have any control over what I want. It's already pre-programmed into who I am. What I "choose" to write about (or "film"--or even merely experience, because experience is a choice we make when we apply our filters to the input) is an aspect of this phenomenon of lack choice in wanting, not in choosing. So, in a very roundabout way, I actually have no control at all, because wanting is everything and choosing is just a part of the extended illusion that we call life (as, ultimately, is wanting; but at a much farther distance, since wanting is far more primal, closer to the bone, so to speak). Even if I would say to myself, "This is all a bunch of crap" and delete it from this pastiche, that still is a choice I make. [All of that apparent equivocation (for lack of a better word; I don't think a word for this experience exists) is, in fact, not. It's a mode of thought-feeling I enter when I begin to see both (or many) sides of an issue at the same time and try, then, to explain it in words that are designed to convey either/or phenomena, because our evolved brains are hardwired to learn and use language via contrast and comparison of schema, and not by holding two (or more) apparently differing concepts simultaneously in mind.]
I hear a distant voice now echoing inside my head saying, "...and your mission, Mr. Phelps, should you choose to accept it, is to find out what those ideas are that defy, by the very nature of their transmission, elucidation by "normal" means. I may have even convinced you or influenced you into believing as I sometimes do that they are "out there" somewhere; but they're not.
I try to believe in things that are true; but it doesn't always work out that way. I try not to believe in superstitions; and people who do believe in them disturb me. But groups like The Brights disturb me too (although I am a member) because they throw a lot of (pre-scientific) babies out with their (superstitious) bathwater: I believe that (at least some of) the things that superstitious people believe in could yet be real phenomena, and that, if they are, they will be shown to have a scientific basis; that is, I do not believe that there is a supernatural realm, but that all phenomena, however bizarre, are natural, if they will be eventually scientifically shown to exist and are not figments of (our very active and unconsciously deceptive) human minds: magic, ghosts, spirits, telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.
Okay, so maybe magical thinking isn't a real phenomenon and influencing people via "brain waves," dream intrusion, or whatever other esoteric thought process may all be mere fantasy; but, maybe, when people engage in this kind of mental behavior, they influence themselves, set up unconscious mechanisms and expectations so that, when they meet in person someone they're trying to influence via magical thinking, their internal workings, their changed psychology, is perceived by that person in that way that we all unconsciously tune into each others' psyches without realizing it (intuition, etc.) and "pick up" hints that operate below our level of awareness to inform us as to whom and what that person is, what s/he thinks of us, etc. Maybe this is what magical thinking really is, and when it "works," when, because the person who picks up on the clues and likes what s/he "sees" and therefore feeds back signs that indicate that the "magical thinking" message got through, we become erroneously confirmed in our belief that our superstitious behavior is real.
Nevertheless, I believe that I lived as a soldier in France in the fifteenth century and was killed by bayonet twisted in my back. (It's a "genetic memory" I had a long time ago while tripping on acid.) I believe that my skeleton hung in a medical university for nearly a century.
And I believe that one of these millennia we will have traveled to the stars (by conventional means. Forget about all that wormhole shit. It's not going to happen on the macro-human level). We'll start out by sending colonies of people in huge self-sustaining spaceships; and some few of them will survive and prosper on other worlds and/or establish space-based artificial environments that they maintain via mining and manufacturing. The enterprise will be both scientific exercises and a means of controlling minor population explosions so that, back on Earth, we can maintain a stable population and live long and prosperous lives while breeding people fit for space travel to carry our lifeform elsewhere, eventually throughout the universe.
I believe that everything is true, in one sense or another, even fantasies, inside people's heads. I believe that, if we were to be visited by aliens (which, I believe, we currently are not), they would be two kinds, good and evil (or many kinds of varying intents and degrees of good and evil), because, if one group of aliens can visit us, then there's no reason why many different groups cannot.
I believe that all women are bitches who nevertheless on occasion can be reformed; and all men are macho assholes who cannot (though some of them hide their true natures well).
I believe that Timothy Leary and John Lennon are together in heaven laughing their asses off at those of us still trying to figure out what the words to "Come Together" actually mean.
I believe that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is still alive and living in Tibet, where he plays the occasional game of chess with The Dalai Lama when he secretly returns for a visit.
I believe that fundamentalist Christians should be imprisoned and used in experiments that will one day benefit all of the people who have suffered for lack of stem cell research.
I don't believe in forced euthanasia, but I believe that anyone who wants to kill themselves should be allowed to do it, with whomever's help they need to accomplish the act, and not only for their own benefit, but for society's as well. And I believe that Dr. Jack Kevorkian should be put in charge of the imprisonment of all elected and appointed government officials who are convicted of malfeasance in office.
I can't imagine ever actually wanting to kill myself (I'm too narcissistic); but I can imagine conditions that have gotten so bad that I might, regretfully, decide that it is the best course of action. Even so, I wouldn't want to do it. But even if I did it, I can't imagine wanting to take anyone with me; yet, again, I can imagine situations where a person or persons had treated me (or even others, even people I didn't know personally) so badly that I might choose to do just that. But, otherwise, why bother? And, certainly, why kill random people for no reason other than they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? I've dwelled on this idea to see if I could come up with anyone I might think actually deserves to join me on my journey across the River Styx when I finally take it; but I can think of no one, not even Bush and Cheney. (I don't believe that they'll be going in my direction anyway.) I guess I have to conclude from this that I am basically a good person who has no enemies, which is easy to do if you also have no friends. Maintaining a mean under this condition is a relatively easy thing to do.
I believe that the states should continue to move up the primaries for the election of the president, each vying for the choice first-primary spot until they are held immediately after the election of the current president; and then they should go ahead and hold the general election so that we'll know four years in advance who the next president will be. That way, if it's not the current president, we'll know he'll be a lame duck and we can disregard him for the next four years.
And I believe in a lot of things that lots of people have said before so why bother writing it all out again?
I want to but don't want to write. I become entrenched in this mode more and more as time goes on. Why bother? I have so much that I want to do, especially in the summer when my mood eases into "livin' easy"; but I never get much of it done anyway, especially in the summer when I increasingly feel overwhelmed by the hot weather into doing nothing but lazing and reading and fantasizing. In the winter, I do this while hiding away in my super-heated bedroom; it's all just a huge excuse not to do anything any time and I wonder how I ever get done the few things that I do. I worry about this pattern a lot, but that's about as far as it goes. I guess I feel guilty for not doing much; but not guilty enough to actually do anything about it. This is one area of my life that never seems to rise (or descend) to the next levels (worry, anxiety, etc.), an area where I never seem to have to rationalize in order to contain the affect, such as I do in other areas:
I worry about the cost of living, a lot; and, especially, I used to worry about the price of gasoline. But now, I find myself hoping that oil prices go out of sight, and not only because I now own Halliburton stock, but also just out of sheer contrariness and an asocial sense of vindictiveness. I've all but stopped driving and using gasoline tools. (I have electric lawn care equipment, and I drive, on the average, about four miles a month.) So you goddamned Arabs and commodity traders can go ahead and raise oil prices all you want. The higher, the better. This is just one small part of my new economic strategy: Stop spending my money patronizing the price gougers and buy their stocks. I've already maximized my homegrown foodstuffs and, next, I'm looking to install windmills, waterwheels, etc. The ultimate goal, though, is to get filthy rich so that it doesn't matter at all what anything costs. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. [It isn't all that clear to me yet though that I can't beat them; except for a few relatively minor setbacks, I'm well on my way in that direction. Or else that's just another fantasy.]
But the time comes, inevitably, when my excuses run out and I've either got to come up with some new ones or else I've got to bite the bullet and actually do some of the things I've been planning for so long and calling "goals." My best and favorite excuse is the cold weather: "It's just too cold to do it right now; I'll do it in the spring." Well, guess what? It's overload season. It's going to be 80 degrees tomorrow and among my most pressing procrastinations is fixing the leaks in the roof; and add to that re-installing the woodstove chimney's rain shield that I found lying in the back yard this week after a big windstorm. But I just don't feel like doing anything, I'm both manic (unable to sleep much) and (marginally) depressive, both at the same time now; and I'm feeling so overwhelmed with life, with all of the things that I have to do. I think I'll start walking up to the shopping center again. A little bit of prolonged exercise might help. And, as if (the perception of) being overloaded with physical tasks were not enough [overload, being a mental problem, has little to do with any actual physical workload; in fact, physical work, if only I would just go and do it, seems to go a long way toward remedying the problem], there are the ideas, which have been piling up for months, documented in notes and raw journal entries so as not to be lost, but otherwise un(der)developed.
Ideas are everywhere, always. And seldom are my receptors ever shut down, and then, only for a few hours or so, usually after having a beer. You'd think that at least at night, asleep, the condition would subside; but it's then, many times, that it's the worst, when I awaken out of dreams with "a headful of ideas that are driving me insane." (But maybe that's the other way around.) Ideas are all over the place. (It's not just me; that's just a perceptual problem.) Every moment, the air is filled with these little buggers, literally, metaphorically, and, I presume, spiritually (if there is any actual truth to that abstraction and it's not merely superstition). I'm not only talking about electromagnetic energy (photons) broadcast from transmitters or electronic signals cabled into our homes. [Although that former class is even more literally "in the air." And the latter class is no longer so much "in the air," except for the short distance between our radios, tvs, and computers and our minds. Have we, as a technological society, gone beyond our metaphor here? I wonder, did that metaphor exist before radio broadcasts? Were things "in the air" back in the good old days? Hmm. Maybe. In the sense of "up in the air" or "head in the clouds."] These kinds of ideas (which require a secondary receiver, i.e., one external to our own personal human mechanism) are only one small source in a vast field of extant ideas. Ideas are everywhere and we have many ways of accessing them, not the least of which is, oh, let's be prudent and call it "intuition."
Okay, since it relates to this material (in some vague way that I'm not quite sure of yet; perhaps, at the least, because it's an idea), let's jump the gap for a minute (and hope to get back to the central issue here, whatever it happens to be--I haven't quite discovered it yet) and consider some recent news that I found both a bit amusing and somewhat disturbing: In Europe, they've passed a law that says you can be charged with and even jailed for "denial of the holocaust." What the hell is going on? Is the world going crazy? No. That can't be it. It went crazy a long time ago. If this penchant for imprisoning people for their denials spreads to America, what will happen to me when I deny Bush's humanity and expose him for the alien robot that he is?
In Pittsburgh the other day (I saw this on the local news) a man was arrested for "possession of a copy of a weapon of mass destruction." And the news people didn't bat an eye! No one seemed even the least bit taken aback that a guy was arrested for having some esoterically arranged heating ducts in his car. I mean, wow! Does anybody not see this as disturbing? Does anyone not understand how some fundamental line has been crossed somewhere way back and we never even noticed it? Okay, the ductwork did look like some kind of a cheap, workingman's bomb that a semi-qualified heating and air conditioning guy might put together, which justifies stopping him to determine if the guy is dangerous; but, Jesus Christ, it was just a bunch of kluged metal parts. It could even qualify as a kind of art. I've seen pieces by Duchamps that didn't look as good. And if he's being detained on suspicion of being a threat and, maybe, since he went to the trouble of making it look so goddam "real" (in the sense of a caricature of a bomb, something created by Wile E. Coyote), of having the desire and thus perhaps the intent to build a real bomb, then what's to stop them from arresting me if they find me (or you) with a painting of, oh, let's say, a nuclear explosion, or whatever. I had the idea [ah, there we are, back to the main theme; I just knew this material was related in some way] that there might be a nuclear terror attack and I documented that idea. In fact, I think they charged (or maybe were just considering charges; that was awhile ago, before the official paranoia heated up and started to boil over) that guy (was his name Turner?) who wrote that subversive terrorist handbook or whatever it was that Timothy McVeigh got ideas from. I'm mean, who could be more subversive than Thomas Paine? Has our collective memory failed us? Is our history for naught? Have the Tories regained the throne? (Sorry for the mixed metaphor; but you get the idea.) Where's the minority report on this one? Isn't anyone going to stand up for our right to express ourselves, even if what we have to say is subversive? Isn't that what we're all about as a nation? No? Not any more? Has it come to this? Are we going to be held accountable for our ideas, even when we never act to execute or enable them. It was bad enough when we developed conspiracy laws, but this is a few steps beyond that. Now we (or maybe I should be saying "they") want to hold people accountable for merely influencing others. It's too much, all the more so because the ideas are everywhere! Prosecuting people for influencing people is witch-hunting when you can pluck ideas right out of the air, even without a receiver. Shit, all you have to do is talk to someone and you just might be suspected of being a terrorist; because the neo-con definition of a terrorist is not so much the act of killing people or blowing something up as it is the intent to not only act to that end but to want to act and to "threaten" to spread that desire via common interface. This is the reason that '"they" are so paranoid, of course. They know what's going down. It won't be too long now, in this post-wireless age we're about to enter, before ideas are truly free and they lose the ability to capitalize and market them. Even that compromised bastion of the revolution, copyright, is being seriously threatened. They feel like they have to get hold of this phenomenon before it gets away from them and threatens to replace their faux-democratic corporate capitalist system with an actual democracy.
But let's forget the democratic ideal for a minute and consider practical day-to-day democracy. Effective democracy is self-correcting and self-policing. Political parties check each other's extremes and (tend to) keep the country on the middle road of the common man. Ineffective democracies allow the elite to maintain control of the political system, which enables such phenomena as fascism and eggheaded ivory-tower governance. Which form of government do you think we have now? Which form did this current form replace? When was the last time we had a truly effective democracy (i.e., a government of, by, and for the people)? Did we ever? Or was that just a pie-in-the-sky ideal of a handful of subversive anti-authoritarian ex-patriot Englishmen who didn't like their king and wanted to live out their individualist lives free of his influence? Practical politics, of course, involves, not these kinds of ideals, but the day-to-day machinations of men, the most effective of whom have a lot of resources (i.e., money) behind them. Money talks, and the rest of us end up walking because we can't afford the skyrocketing cost of gasoline. What a bunch of bullshit (we all are).
I'm going to go and do something now, because writing, though it be sometimes noble, is really just another excuse not to. And, anyway, like I started out saying: I want to but don't want to write.
When I write when I don't want to, but want to anyway, I usually end up writing a lot of vapid nonsense or documenting a lot of boring details of my boring ordinary life, which, in order to make interesting, I have to edit excessively; and I don't want to (have to) work that hard. Stuff like this:
I finally got tired of living on cornmeal muffins and boneless skinless chicken breasts so yesterday I went on a shopping excursion (in the non-inspected car) and got some long-needed supplies, including food and, most significant to this little story, drain cleaner.
My bathroom sink had been all but completely clogged for over two months, ever since the big freeze, and I've been washing in a basin placed inside it and dumping the wastewater into the bathtub. I'd already used up a previous bottle of drain cleaner with only minimal results.
So, today, I poured some of the drain cleaner down the drain, waited a while, and ran some water down it. Nothing. Same old rather rapid (relatively speaking) slow drain, taking about a minute, which had been a previous minor victory over the even slower drainage.
But then I thought to plunge it, which when I did it before made no difference whatsoever and, once, even caused it to stop draining altogether. But this time, loosened by the application of the drain cleaner, it opened in one big gurgle. And now I have a sink again.
Or stuff like this:
I never fully realize how hard the winter's been until the spring, first, seems to make life harder and, then, relents and eases life again. I know I write this same thing every year; but it's always true. I repeat like life itself.
I believe that children should grow up in the society that they will eventually live in as adults. If they do not, they will suffer all their lives from inadequate socialization, a handicap that is never really overcome and compensated for at great cost. If you don't like kids being exposed to the evils of your society, change the society.
I don't even know if I still believe this. I mean, it's true, but isn't that exactly what life is all about, changing and adapting to meet the new challenges the world presents? This is the essence of my problem. Change. I don't respond well to unexpected and/or sudden change. (It's a well-recognized part of the disability.)
Each time I successfully adapt, after first fighting off the anxiety spike and then fretting and angsting for a while until I accept the inevitability that I am going to have to deal with the new situation it has caused, or realizing that things are not all that different after all, I consider it at least a small victory; and sometimes the victories are large.
But the smallest victories are the most satisfying, because they better order my life without upsetting it, like the way I've just finished off this pastiche (this piece was complied after the following one) by gathering together all of the remaining fragments into a (marginally) integrated whole. When I finally put a journal to rest...ahh, the satisfaction.
Finally, in a less serious vein (and based upon a retreat back into my bedroom to watch some mindless tv and escape the ideas, which I cannot, as evidenced by the content of this piece), I've applied my brainworks to a consideration of tv drama and developed a paradigm to use to analyze it:
Here's the system applied to a number of current tv dramas:
House: repetitive, multi-dimensional, deep, slightly many-character
Raines: repetitive, one-dimensional, superficial, one-character.
Lost: serial, multi-dimensional, deep, many-character
Medium: repetitive, one-dimensional, superficial, many-character
Grey's Anatomy: serial, multi-dimensional, deep, many-character
Sustained success, I maintain, requires a serial, multi-dimensional, deep, many-character approach. Although there are obvious exceptions, such as Alias or 24: both are repetitive (despite an apparent serial take; i.e., the plots take the same form each week even though the story progresses), one-dimensional, superficial, and one-character (albeit with minor secondary character development; yet they all serve the main character purpose/exposition). I theorize that, when these types of (superficial) shows become successful, it's because they appeal to a Neanderthal mindset; but that may just be my prejudice showing.
2. Months later, I will learn that Dan Rather has an independent news company, Dan Rather Reports, and he sells content to CNN. Another cowboy (he's from Texas) exiled to diminished existence for the crime of political dissonance come back from the fringes to haunt the status quo.