And if people would just take a tiny bit more time, these things would be much less of an issue.
We Aspie's (and I assume all people with autism, though I should know that assumption is a very dangerous business), contrary to even some professionals' opinion, know quite well what's going on in that "real" world out beyond us, and we keep it at a distance to "protect" our "delicate" sensibilities. (At least, that's what I do.) I never really block people out (completely). I simply stonewall them while continuing to monitor their behavior--and expecting them to know what I'm thinking--if that; if they're real friends, they'll know, or at least be sympathetic and/or understanding. (And, even if others' remarks or behavior do not register in the moment, it's always there in retrospect, unconsciously recorded for later playback.)
[I never had a whole lot of real friends; and the people who thought they were, or whom I thought were, really weren't, as it turned out. (Their agendas were too self-serving; but that may be me projecting a little bit.) I, on the other hand, turned out to be a true friend to them, for a lot longer that they were that to me, if they ever were. That was a conscious hallmark of my behavior: for a while, sacrifice on my part for their benefit after they proved less than loyal]. But all of that is neither here nor there. It's like a dream I dream sometimes when I believe I'm living in a different world than everybody else.
My dreams have been eluding me lately. Not only do they not want to be well remembered (i.e., not only do I not well remember them), but when I struggle to do so and fragments of them, with difficulty, come back to me, they're not potent enough to want to bother to write out, having lost to ordinary time the punch of any import they might have originally had. Also, there's an additional semi-conscious factor at work: If I start to write them out, if I commit to them, I'm stuck inside the house, or at least outside on the porch working on my laptop, when I'd rather be working in the gardens.
But I've had these vague ideas about dream (and other) images that I have to get into words: Whether "images" (although this may be not quite accurate--think, for this purpose, a phenomenon that a word like "hallucinatory" might conjure) are merely "thought-forms" (a la Zen, et al.) or actual spirits or spiritual forces (a la less "masterful" religions--my apologies to monkish Christian, non-Christian aesthetes, et al.) is irrelevant, illusion being what it is: It's all illusion, no matter its nature; there is only one reality, and it manifests itself in dreams as in waking life via our "thought-forms." If we think it, it becomes (some form of physical) reality, immediately or eventually; or if we think it is impossible, it is. Our thought forms our reality. [Heh.] I'm skirting the issue of the existence of a parapsychological realm here because, once you admit to the possibility of psi experience, you throw the doors wide open to the existence of God and legions of angels and like personalities. You can, however, if you so choose, as an atheist, for example, explain "supernatural" phenomena in a very natural, if subtle (pre-scientific), way.
So, spirits, or whatever they are, are everywhere, and they can be of use to anyone who knows how to appease them, whether they are "real" or not. (Think of their existence, if in fact they do exist, as a phenomenon akin to electromagnetic radiation: meta-personalities heterodyned after their "broadcast" into "waveforms" that take on a personality of their own; and, if you perceive them, you are like a radio receiver. Try not to take this idea too literally; it's a kind of metaphor.) Their significance is not the nature of their reality or even their potency; the significance lies in how we think of them, whether we take a "realistic" (which we sometimes call "scientific") view of the phenomenon, even to the point of denying that it exists (except, perhaps, "in the mind," as if that makes it any less "real"), or whether we go to the opposite extreme and allow ourselves to be "brainwashed" by entities that do not "really" exist.
A middle ground (everything is almost always about the moderate sanity of the middle ground) would suggest that we take a tentative position re the reality of such entities, not accepting them as hard-fast extant beings, but not denying them totally and thus throwing the baby spirits out with the occult bathwater. They're "just" thoughts for Christ's sake--which brings up another illusion that a majority on the "middle ground" accept as reality:
How does it happen that such esoteric, spirit-based belief systems become these vast unconscious conspiracies that assault our common sense without us knowing it; in fact, become our common sense and thus make that faculty a liar? Humans are a superstitious species. We deserve to wallow in our ignorance, when, instead, we could be utilizing the great power of our thought [form(ation)] process to dispel our ignorance and thereby create a better, superstition-free world. We postulate (and therefore, by giving ourselves permission to project, experience) the existence of disembodied spirits in the first place because we are unable to accept consciously the magnificent power of the human mind.
If there is no God (which I consider a likely possibility) and we are merely (a relative judgment) the product of a randomly generated universe, and I look around and see the intelligence that randomness has resulted in, I've got to ask the questions: Why? Something comes from nothing? Essentially, at the sub-sub-atomic (string theory) level, something must be going on that is at least unconsciously intelligent (though that too may be a mere projection); but, quantum mechanics being what it is (whatever that is), like everything else, intelligence may be uncertain and popping into and out of existence like sub-atomic particles in a vacuum. At least that's the way it seems on the macro-human level. And, since complementarity is (always?) an issue, when you know why or how one thing works (e.g., classical physics), but not another complementary process (e.g., quantum mechanics) [I know; it's a lame, not quite equitable set, but I can't think of anything else right now], then, knowing only half the truth is pretty much the same as wallowing in ignorance. [Maybe liberals and conservatives are a better example set. (The wave/particle nature of light is the obvious perfect example. I should have used it right from the start, but I'm trying to insinuate a different purpose here.)] I mean, where would we be without left-handed quarks? Ignorance at the sub-atomic level is every bit as plausible as intelligence.
I hypothesize that the expansion of my mental repertoire may be facilitated by the development of certain physical skills, such as, for example, training yourself to write with the hand opposite to that to which you are accustomed, a la the theory that when you change your behavior, your change your mind. I wrote out the notes for this piece left-handed, intent upon training myself to write with my opposite hand in an attempt to re-program my brain, despite the fact that research indicates that, if this sort of thing is not learned before puberty, there isn't much chance that any significant results will be achieved. Apparently, judging by my physical responses, the trick when trying to learn to write with your opposite hand is to learn how to relax your muscles as you write, as opposed to straining them in your attempt to achieve control. But this process is so slow going, painstaking, even literally painful. The muscles in my fingers, hands, and arms are already starting to ache. I hope it gets easier with practice.
My life is now reduced to this, a mere list. [When I first transcribed these notes, I wasn't sure what the previous sentence meant, having forgotten what I intended when I wrote it; but I understood that it, somehow, related to this material. Then, as I read on, I started to get inklings of the meaning. And the vagueness, though a bit dispelled by the subsequent text, still lingers just a bit, which is good since it seems to be what I'm writing about. Form reinforces content.] I know I'm not (only) what I do; but it's easy for me to mistake myself for exactly that, because my life, over and above what I do, is difficult to explain, at best, when I'm clear about what it is, though usually it is too vague, too nebulous, to perceive, let alone to define. I find it easier to understand myself if I just list out what (I think) I am (in any given moment). It's like a dream that has already faded because I didn't document it immediately upon awakening--except that there is no awakening.
I measure my life, i.e., my progress, by the tasks I do that apply to (some sense of) advancement. [Oh. All of a sudden, it all comes back to me. This is about making terse lists of things I've accomplished, in order to monitor my so-called progress, one of which was my finally beginning to write left-handed, a long-standing goal (which I've once again subsequently set aside).] Mere repetitive maintenance tasks don't count, although some tasks, transplanting plants, for example, do count because they advance a more permanent goal; in this case, the realization of my garden vision.
Therefore, my penchant for documenting my "progress" with lists (which I do in daily single lines at the top of my monthly offline computer journal), insignificant though it may be (that's the direction my life seems to me to be heading; but I'm not complaining here, because, in a proper Zen mode, life is life and awareness of it, and not significance, is what's important), is a measure of (a specific, abstracted segment of) my life.
I'm documenting these tasks to fulfill my (neurotic) need to do this kind of thing and to assure myself that I am making at least some kind of progress, day by day, bit by bit. If I can take at least one small step forward daily, then I can feel like I'm going somewhere, when otherwise I might feel lost, confused, or devoid of purpose and meaning (which I may feel anyway; but this practice seems to help, minimally).
Some days I take very many steps forward, and then it doesn't seem necessary to document the progress. But on those days when I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere, the lists I make may help me to see, though it is slow, that progress actually exists. For over twenty years, I've kept a list of books I've read, for this same purpose. I worry that keeping lists like this is not normal. But I have to keep reminding myself that normality is not so valid a concept when dealing with the human psyche, because we all vary so much from any kind of standard that may be proposed that it is essentially meaningless at the individual level. And, anyway, though I hate to admit it, there are so many other ways in which I am perfectly normal.
I've been so-o-o "normal" lately it's disgusting: up well before noon, write a (very) little bit, monitor my current stocks and check out a few new ones, work in the gardens all afternoon, take a mid-afternoon break and sit on the back or front porch and read a little bit while drinking a beer, prepare dinner (chicken or ground turkey with greens and scallions from the garden, or some similar stir-fry concoction) while watching Cramer on CNBC, a few more minor projects before retiring to my bed and watching inane tv until I fall into sleep. Bor Ing.
I've become so regular, it's almost like I have a job I don't go to, but instead work at home, yet with more or less regular hours--unlike when I went out to work for ungrateful, overbearing employers (I know I must bear at least some of the responsibility here, being easily overborne; but I don't want to) who insisted that I not be myself, which drove me into a state of chronic stress that caused me to be unable to sleep and so have to "get up" (most often I would be wide awake, but lose my focus and best abilities early on in the day) and go to work. Now, instead, I get up when I'm rested, usually after only six or seven hours, and because I have activities to do outside, I don't take an afternoon nap, which is what I do in the winter when I huddle inside the bedroom warmth, get groggy, and nod off, which then inhibits my ability to sleep at night, which dissolves away my diurnal day. Spring, then, after the sturm and drang is over, is a wonderful affair.
As if, with my self-perception of my boring nature, I created a need for change (maybe this is true), I dreamed up an alternate existence:
db and I are walking through a woods, up a hillside. The area is very familiar, as if it is out in back of a home we've lived in all our lives. We stop at a place, which becomes a rustic cabin, sort of a mountain vacation home. We're inside, sitting beside a fireplace when two cops come to the door, which db answers. They're young and remind me of "campus cops" as opposed to "real" ones. Both guys are obviously attracted to db, but one of them is more so and thus acts more forwardly, while the other hangs back slightly. The forward one tells db that he's just checking up on us to make sure everything is okay. They both ignore me lying by the fire. To them, I might as well not be there; and, in a sense, I'm not, but rather watching the scene play out--as if from a dream. db tells them we're fine. The less forward guy notices me beside the fire and makes a comment about not having seen me there earlier. I say, "You should not make the mistake of thinking that, because I don't say much, I don't have much to say." They leave and, immediately, another guy, a friend of ours, shows up. I try to ignore him, and so does db, but less so. Finally, she has to tell him that it's customary, on wedding nights, that friends leave the bride and groom alone. The guy is a bit dense and doesn't get it at first; but then the message sinks in and he leaves. The entire dream is pervaded by a kind of peaceful, laid-back feeling.
I awaken with the idea of the enormous complexity that I will sometimes recognize I am [this is not hubris--I recognize that everyone is as complex as I am, more or less] seems so inconsistent with the small body I possess. [I inhabit a relatively large body, both height-wise and width-wise, though not fat-wise; but it sometimes seems to me quite small when compared with the universe at large.] The incredible distances that light must travel across the universe to reach little old me sometimes dwarfs me into awed submission: How can I be so perceptive, so intelligent, so scientifically oriented, when I am such a miniscule part of this vast universe? How can I know or intuit these great truths of human and, especially, cosmic nature, when I am such a lowly cog in this Byzantine history of universal existence?
Add to this perception, the ideas of parallel universes of the Many World's theory and the membranes and curled up dimensions of M-theory and you (or at least I) have the inklings of a kind of "spiritual" possibility floating around out there (or in here) between the phenomena, hidden in the cracks between the theories in the places where we cannot yet quite observe.
And, despite all of this "intelligence" and scientific understanding, I often can't seem to manage the simplest of tasks:
Often, usually first thing after awakening, when I have an idea that I want to get written down, by the time I get the computer or the laptop up and running, I forget it. Almost always, I think I should write it down while the machine is booting up; but then I think, "Naw, I'll remember it"; and then I don't. I want a device that you can boot up in five or six seconds and begin to type into a word processor without all of the typical computer start-up bullshit. I miss my old 386 / WIN 3.1, and I absolutely hate all of the pop-up crap they pack onto new computers and make it so difficult to disable--windows messenger, for example; or McAfee download prompts that I never signed up for. I can't make this crap not open when I boot up. I have to resort instead to hibernating all the time to avoid the start-up altogether; and then, sometimes, when I've hibernated too many times without re-booting, apps that are not specifically written for windows XP, such as my old ISP software or the Lotus word processor, or my old Mozilla 5.0, crash right when I'm in the middle of doing something "important." (It's all important--or else I wouldn't be doing it.)
Last night, I set up the timer on the DVD recorder for Lost so that I could watch Medium, a standard Tuesday night ritual; and then I forgot to turn it off so that the auto-timer would kick in. Shit! This is the first episode of Lost I've missed since the series began. And, according to online comments, it was an important one.
I hate it when I do these kinds of things. Lapsed attention is one of my primary difficulties. I blame it, like I blame most everything else, even the condition of the world (which is, after all, mainly a matter of perception) on the Asperger's. Wandering attention is why I can't be a virtuoso musician (and why I can be a postmodern writer).
Yesterday, one of my day's goals, established in the morning while I was still hopped-up on caffeine, was to formulate a method (yes, yet another refinement of my continual preoccupation) for writing novels that I would like to read, since I can't seem to find any since Kathy Acker died. This is the criteria I came up with:
Brick: Yes, sir.
Big Daddy: Why?
Brick: Somethin' hasn't happened yet.
Big Daddy: What's that?
Brick: A click in my head.
Big Daddy: Did you say, 'click'?
Brick: Yes sir, the click in my head that makes me feel peaceful.
Big Daddy: Boy, sometimes you worry me.
Brick: It's like a switch, clickin' off in my head. Turns the hot light off and the cool one on and all of a sudden, there's peace.
Big Daddy: Boy, you're, you're a real alcoholic!
Brick: That is the truth. Yes sir, I am an alcoholic, so if you'd just excuse me...
Big Daddy: (grabbing him) No, I won't excuse you.
Brick: Now I'm waitin' for that click and I don't get it. Listen, I'm all alone. I'm talkin' to no one where there's absolute quiet.
Big Daddy: You'll hear plenty of that in the grave soon enough. But right now, we're gonna sit down and talk this over.
Brick: This talk is like all the others. It gets nowhere, nowhere, and it's painful.
I'd been worrying that one of the neighbors might detect the same flesh decaying odor that I was getting whiffs of and think that it was coming from my place. I don't want my neighbors to think I'm living in unsanitary conditions. Social perceptions are important.
After I buried the owl, I went out and cut the grass along the two strips of lawn in front of the concrete walls out front, and along the north side of the house where the kiwis and plum trees are, because those are the only areas of my property that can be seen from the street. This is my compromise with society: I maintain the appearance of normality. The areas at the sides and back of the property, hidden from all but my closest neighbor to the south by hedges and the house, are now planted with (more or less) productive bushes, vines, and crops (cherries, plums, currants, hops, kiwis, raspberries, strawberries, and the standard garden beds and cucurbits mounds) and so weeds predominate unseen between them until fall, when I do one extensive trimming before winter.
After I do a bit more yard work, I go and sit on the front porch and drink a beer. I drink a single beer nearly every day, and for a while everything's okay after, suddenly, click. At last. The wind is blowing through the trees, reminding me of the breeze off the ocean, billowy clouds drift across the sun, turning it on and off, those vague and intermittent harbingers of storms that are not yet quite going to happen and are only in the more distant future.
This is the perception that gradually fades as autumn devolves and disappears without fanfare so that it is never consciously missed when winter seeps into the depths of my soul (figuratively speaking; I don't believe that people have that non-thing theologians call a soul, which is a mere abstraction for those less available meta-functions of the human psychology that we don't yet consciously perceive and understand) and remains until...
..all at once, sometimes, in mid or late spring, click, a switch is thrown somewhere in my brain and, suddenly, I'm on vacation again. Life eases up, wavering between moods of sun and shade: bright beach days; dull, heavy, overcast atmospheres thick with post-dew moisture that never seems to leave; stifling, sultry, motionless sweat; and breezy relief; carefree, careless days out walking the boardwalks and beaches of the mind...
...riding the warm evening avenues of motorcycle fantasies, the other worldly experiences of having ingested the nectar of the gods, remembering for a brief moment what it used to be like before the corporation minds finally succeeded in taking over and concretizing the universe into the business of boardrooms and stock options, genetic memories of creepy crawly visceral instincts projected onto a distorted landscape...
I remember as mislabeled flashbacks years from now--oh, wait, I mean then. Ah, vacation. Let's do it all over again.
But, typically, even during most of the summer, I'm trapped inside an insidious mindset that I unwittingly allowed the corporate world to condition into me and that the mainstream media reinforces:
I'm pretty much fed up with religious people, of any persuasion. The type of people who feel they must rely on faith are of lesser mental capacity than others of us who are better able to summon a critical mode of thought and utilize and further develop the power of reason. These others feel that they must resort to superstitious behavior in their feeble attempts to understand the universe, always deferring to a supposed authority and/or the herd instinct. Feeling predominates and rides herd on thought, which is nothing more than an advanced form of the former having evolved from the latter.
But even those of us who are good at critical thinking sometimes let me down. Al Gore (whom I have begrudgingly grown to appreciate over the last few years) is preaching global warming (which I condone, because I don't really care about future generations as much as I care about having warming winters) and other "progressive" issues, such as Americans being worse off than we ever were re public awareness of the hard news. I think Gore is wrong on this point, that we're no worse off than we ever were. It seems to me, now that the news/entertainment line has become so fuzzied, that a lot more people pay attention to the news than previously; and, maybe, we're actually more informed because some of us, who might otherwise know nothing, accidentally pick up a few hard facts amid or sandwiching the pap while we pursue our otherwise trivial lives.
Okay, so maybe I'm not in one of my best moods right now. Maybe I'd be better off forgetting about writing and go and do some art. The tactile feel of painting is a more settling process, and I think I need to shake out some of these ants that have gotten into my britches and re-gain my vacation mind. Maybe I'll get back to doing some more work tomorrow.
When I was learning science, growing up, I assumed without thinking about it, that the knowledge (of relativity, cosmology, quantum and celestial mechanics, evolution, etc.) that I was getting had been available for a long, long time. I didn't realize that much of the information was only fairly recently discovered. (I never bothered to pay too much attention, then, to dates; history, even the history of science, was not my favorite subject.) I took all of my advanced education for granted.
The non-scientific people who came before me (and many of my own contemporaries) had a very different worldview than the one I was automatically assimilating as a result of my education. These others were "uninformed." Many of them were trapped by superstitions that my education was in the process of freeing me from, the unconscious conditioning that my parents and the nuns slipped into me when I was too young to know any better. Many of these same people (and others) are still trapped, despite the recent, wider broadcasting of advanced ideas. And these people pass their antiquated ideas onto the next generations via their cultural brainwashing practices.
So I ask myself: How am I now, with my perhaps now "archaic" worldview, becoming obsolete, given the fact that I received my education/worldview so many years ago? I try to keep up, at least scientifically; but am I missing something, some subtle undercurrent (zeitgeist) that the kids of the current "in" generation themselves assimilated automatically without having to think about or study? [My own past years of formal study were far more assimilation that actual study.] Are the kids today adopting a worldview and learning information that I am excluded from by my previous, now less advanced, educational mindset? I look for this kind of thing, but I can't see even any hints of it, unless you count hip-hop, rap, Ebonics, etc., which I don't. But does this prejudice blind me to a larger picture? I don't think so, I think I am still at the cutting edge of, at least, science and an advanced scientific mindset; but if I'm not, how would I ever know? I can pursue all of the knowledge that I want, but if my now archaic worldview precludes its identification, what hope do I ever have of really finding it? And, if I do manage to find it, what hope do I have of accurately assimilating it?
I know I'm conflating science and culture herein, and that science is what's important (to me; but also, I think, to everyone, as cultural aspects fade away along with bad science, whereas true science abides). I watch and wait for evidence that suggests a worldview different from the one I now possess; but I'm not finding one. (I'm so steeped in science fiction that I doubt I ever will, because when new phenomena come along, I feel as if I've already been there ahead of time. And the same is true re psychology. There are, rarely, new psychologies; but they enter the zeitgeist via the theorists, whom I've already read ahead of the transition. And as for art, well, nothing would surprise me on that front.)
I'm walking along Poketa Rd. with Craig Ferguson, showing him the area where I grew up. He's impressed (though, being from Scotland, I don't know why he would be). I myself am impressed by the "height" of the hill as we look down over it toward the low road. By the time I arrive at 6023 I am alone. As I walk across the porch, I see Susan through the window, sitting at a card table in the center of the living room doing art. She looks adorable. Cut to:
Top of alley behind 1728, west side: Terri is mowing a large lawn that extends from Kosmel's house to the corner, property that is actually hillside but here is level. I tell her I can't believe that "they" (her father and her) bought this whole piece of property (and that she's actually mowing it, and making it look very nice and "tame"). She says they didn't buy it; but then, paradoxically, via explanation, she says they hope to turn it around and sell it for a quick profit. I say, "Oh, that's why you're..." (so dedicatedly trying to make it look so good). I walk along with her down the alley as she morphs, first into Susan and then into Cindy R. Susan/Cindy is unhappy, disturbed because she dropped off her art project, consisting of many paintings and drawings, at the library the night before it was due, and they lost it. Someone threw it out or something. Now, if she wants to... (pass a class?), she has to do it all over again. I think about telling her that I'll help her with it, but I know that I can't, because how can you do or even help do someone else's art? I tell her she can come over to my house and do it, and she says okay; but then I say that that won't work because, if she comes over to my house, she knows what we'll end up doing instead.
I awaken with the idea that I want to be someone else, live somewhere else where no one knows me, move to a city and start myself over, throw out all of my "baggage" (regretful memories) and start a whole new batch of happy ones. Pretend I'm a different person and so become someone new. Another lame fantasy I have from time to time.
I fall back into sleep and dream up a "ghost story," the details of which I forget soon after awakening. It had something to do with the older girl in Poltergeist. So I go and look her up on the internet to see if I can spark any oneiro-memories.
Dominique Dunne, daughter of writer/producer Dominick Dunne, sister of actor Griffin Dunne, niece of writer Joan Didion, died at the age of 22, strangled by her boyfriend just after she dumped him.
Heather O'Rourke played Dunne's younger sister Carol Ann in the Poltergeist movies. After the third movie was made, but before it was released, she was admitted to the hospital for an infection, which she died of.
So, the spirits ended up getting Carol Ann after all. I had (actually, I still have, I think) a cousin named Carol Ann. Coincidence? Well, yeah, of course; but thinking in that logical way destroys all drama.
Sometimes, like with this one, my dreams are so foreign that I have to wonder if they are not someone else's, like maybe I'm tuning in on others' dream wavelengths. (Maybe Dominique's. [Shutter.]) Usually, I'm me in my dreams; i.e., I feel like me and identify myself as me within the dream. At other times, I'm someone different; but usually, then, I'm a celebrity, which is understandable considering how many movies I watch. But in these foreign dreams, the situation and environment is so alien, places I've never been before, that I suspect that these may be places that the others whose dreams I intercept are familiar with. My entire thought process seems different in these kinds of dreams; and the feeling is different too. When I awaken, I feel like I've been so far away for such a long, long time; and my waking life for a while afterwards seems strange to me, with the remnants of dreams I can't quite remember bleeding into it. This can be scary stuff sometimes, especially when I awaken in the dark in the middle of the night. At those times it seems my thoughts are not my own, but someone else's, like I'm thinking for someone else; and sometimes I feel like those people are in the darkened room with me. This happens far less now than it did when I was young and would awaken and have to turn the light on to dispel the fear and go back to sleep. Because it's one thing to be visited by ghosts who sit beside you on the bed while you lie frozen in place, afraid to move; but it's a whole other thing entirely to have their thoughts forming and bouncing around inside your head. Good thing I'm a scientist and don't believe in these kinds of supernatural phenomena; otherwise I might end up turning religious or something. There's always an explanation, if you look for it long enough. Everything comes to him who will but wait, dude.