by j-a

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September 2007

UFO Me, Baby

a right to know

It's late autumn, 1965. I'm at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. It's early evening, around dusk. Our small group of four semi-outcasts, out wandering the campus, see a bright streak across the sky, which I seem to remember as greenish; but maybe not. It persists for a long time, as if it moves in slow motion, as it descends at a wide angle toward the earth and disappears over the eastern horizon. We stand together, briefly mesmerized. And then we decide to head in the direction where we last saw the...whatever it was.

We--John Chiarmonte, John Gerdes, Rick Lodise, and I--pile into Gerdes' '56 Buick and head off into the darkening night. We wind our way around back roads, trying to remain headed in the direction we think we need to be heading, until, somewhere outside of Kecksburg, John begins to worry that we're going to run out of gas. (His gas gauge doesn't work.) We look for a gas station, but the only one we can find is closed. But one of us notices that there's someone inside, sleeping on a cot. I go up to the large front window and pound on it, but the guy doesn't awaken. Rick and I persist and finally the guy, whose back is to us, stirs and without turning to look at us, waves us off. We shout to him that we need gas, but he ignores us. Unwilling to go farther on for fear of running out of gas, we head back to the campus. End of story...until last night.

Despite being tired, I can't sleep. It's after two a.m. I turn the tv back on and change to the History Channel, which I like to leave on when I'm falling asleep, since it is somehow soothing, unlike C-SPAN at times, which is otherwise better for sleep purpose since it doesn't have annoying commercial breaks at increased volumes, but which nevertheless will occasionally disrupt impeding slumber when some hardheaded right-winger starts blathering and pisses me off, thereby bringing me back to a fully awakened state.

This is the program that was on the History Channel:

UFO Files: Kecksburg UFO.

What came down in the forest outside the sleepy hamlet of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on December 9, 1965? Some residents claimed to see an acorn-shaped metal object with strange, hieroglyphic writing on its side, half-buried on the forest floor. Astronomer Von Del Chamberlain wrote that the Kecksburg object was a meteorite. NASA consultant James Oberg theorized that it was a failed Russian probe, but now also thinks it was probably a meteorite. Often called the "Pennsylvania Roswell" in UFO circles, the debate raged until, in late December 2003, NASA finally released 39 pages of material and the Air Force released 2,800 pages on the case from its files. The only thing the government documents conclusively prove is that the object was not a Russian probe. But for UFO enthusiasts and researchers, many questions remain unanswered.
History Channel program blurb
I missed the beginning of the program, so at first I don't know where or when this event happened, except that it was sometime in the sixties. But, as the story unfolds, I glean the approximate time from the context, and then someone says "Kecksburg" and the story hits home as I realize that this was what we saw that night so many years ago. How close were we, I wonder, to the object and its phalange of onlookers and military personnel before we had to turn around and head on back?

As I watch the program, I become "convinced" of the truth of the eyewitness reports. I feel they are true. I remember the feeling I had as we headed off in search of ET, the same feeling I had years later while watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind for the first time but having forgotten about all about my personal precursor that probably lent its unconscious affect to the film experience, the feeling of mysterious wonder at first seeing the streaking light, its attraction, the desire it instilled in us to follow it, to seek it out, to be a part of its mystery, to become, perhaps, fanatics. (It was an "event sociologique") I understand better, now, after having seen the tv show that revealed to me the event I long since disremembered, how the characters in the movie were supposed to feel, compelled. I understood it before; but now I feel it, again, and with more conviction.

I think I'm starting to believe in UFOs. The other day, while considering the planets and the stars while watching a different History Channel show, I realized, even if it is not true, how possible it would be for intelligent life to have evolved beneath the ice of some distant moon of one of the outer planets; or even to be harbored beneath the Martian surface, sequestered there to avoid the extremes of weather and unfiltered sunlight after the planet began to deteriorate eons ago. Secret openings to the surface could allow interplanetary vehicles to come and go and remain easily undetected by us here on Earth. Okay, so maybe not so easily on Mars, or so likely since, if they had the technology to build an underground civilization, there is no reason at all why they couldn't extend that environmental technology into safe enclaves back on the surface.1 But on the outer moons, beneath a frozen surface of ice or methane, they probably wouldn't want to be, nor even had ever been, on the surface.

Or, if not in this solar system, then perhaps ET comes from distant stars. I've long believed that this is unlikely, given the distance. Emissaries from other civilizations would have little or nothing to gain by coming to visit us, even if they did know for sure that we were here. They couldn't know of our existence and get here within the short period of time we've been transmitting signals out into space; and I still believe that travel at or near the speed of light will always be impossible, as will all of that wormhole crap. It's not going to happen at the macro-human level. We may, one day in the far-distant future, be able to communicate with other civilizations via extra-lumenal2 mechanisms; but we will never be able to travel in this way. [It's kind of like trying to communicate with women without having sex with them. Yeah, you can (sort of) reason with them; but if you don't make them feel what you're experiencing, you might as well be light years away. If you don't understand this allusion, wait for it. It's coming. Eventually.]

But I do think it's likely that we will send our own "emissaries" out into the vast beyond, to survive on their own, independent of the nurturance of their home base. As a species, we have a long history of having done exactly this, one of the more recent expeditions being Jamestown. That one initially failed; but subsequent attempts, Plimouth Plantation, et al., did not. And this is how I believe that we will continue to proceed, sending out expeditions that often fail, but occasionally manage to succeed; and, given the immense distances that they will travel, learning of their success eventually, after increasingly longer periods of time as the photons that comprise their messages take longer and longer to reach us as the adventurers continue to depart--until, perhaps, we lose track of them altogether and they are out there on their own.

So, it's not at all a stretch to imagine that other civilizations would do this same thing. And, since it would take so long for them to get here, it's believable that life on their home planet just might meet with catastrophe and fail to survive, leaving them on their own (which they would be anyway). And if one (or more) of those civilizations evolved and died out millions or billions of years ago, their emissaries just might be getting here by now, with a window of a few thousand or so years to account for our past "advanced" civilizations (Egypt, Atlantis, Maya, etc.) that the UFO-seeking weirdoes like to conjecture about.

I'm not saying that I believe that aliens and UFOs exist in our local sector of the universe. All I'm saying is that, whereas before I believed it to be impossible that they ever have, now I can imagine how they might. And if they do, I just might have been a near witness to one of their arrivals, on the evening of Dec. 9th, 1965. What was it that we saw that night? Why is its documentation still classified? Why, when groups have managed to get some of the information released, has it been so compromised? What are they trying to hide? We have a right to know.

pinpoint singularity

I want to know a lot of things. If I had more of a disciplined approach to life, I would have become a physicist. That's what I started out toward when I entered college, with the intention of becoming an astronomer. I regret not having stuck with it; but it was far more important to me to discover what psychology was all about. And I'm glad I did. But, now, I want to be an astronomer again. Or maybe I want to be a cosmologist. I don't think I could take staring through a telescope for eight or ten hours at a time, or even sitting at a computer screen with the digital variety. I need more diversity than that. And I want to discover the big answers. I want to be a theorist. But I just don't have the math, nor the patience and dedication to acquire it. Still, I want to know; and if I can't discover it for myself, then I want someone to tell me. Here's a question (I have lots of them):

In a way, isn't a "miniature black hole" both an oxymoron and a redundancy? [Is an oxymoron itself a redundancy?] Isn't the essence of a black hole a preponderance of gravity, which of necessity implies a great mass? Even if that mass is compressed to the point where it occupies a very small space, that is not, I think, what physicists mean when they talk about "miniature black holes."

And isn't the essence of a black hole also a singularity? If all of the matter that's falling toward that singularity, unable to escape, can be construed as being the black hole itself (a situation that I can imagine is true), then the singularity would be a separate phenomenon altogether, which, if this is the case, would mean that the black hole was more like a star (think exotic neutron star) than some kind of an esoteric, other-universe portal thingy (which would be the singularity, if it is).

But, is a singularity a pinpoint (as the label implies, at least to me) or is it more like a homogeneous extended mass, compacted into an incredible density so that the space (which composes most if not all of "matter") between the "particles" (which may themselves be composed of nothing but specially configured space) diminishes to literal nothingness, so that, although now very tiny, the object (if any such animal exists at all) still has some infinitesimal dimension? This is the essential question, I think. Because if it's a massive homogeneity, then the singularity and the "black hole" would be one and the same thing, which seems to be the way the experts talk about it. But if it's a pinpoint, isn't it then the true essence of the black hole phenomenon and what we tend to think of as the black hole just an exotic neutron star-type thing, a kind of barrier environment between the singularity and what we think of as "our" universe, a dead zone buffer around the singularity?

And, if the pinpoint singularity is the "real thing," then aren't all black holes miniature? But, when scientists talk about "miniature black holes," what they seem to be referring to is the unescaped mass/energy that is contained within it, and not the singularity itself, although that is implied, which probably doesn't make any difference when the black hole is out there in the relatively empty reaches of space, but it makes a big difference when the science weirdoes start talking about there being a miniature black hole at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in the area of the Bermuda Triangle. Because, why doesn't it just suck up most of the salt water in the world, which would eventually and fairly quickly, I assume, find its way into the Atlantic and down to the hole. Is there some kind of mechanism in black holes (apart from a lack of mass to feed it) that resists its "sucking in" ability? (I can't imagine it, but maybe I just don't understand.) Wouldn't the black hole just suck up all matter nearby, including the earth itself and leave a near-vacuum around it as it quickly grows in size to be no longer miniature?

As usual, I don't know enough of the physics/cosmology to be writing about this subject. All I'm really trying to do here is figure this stuff out, learn about it, to the extent that it is possible, limited by both a lack of scientific knowledge and my own inadequate and/or lazy brain.

unexpected change

As often as not, when challenged by an awareness of possessing inadequate information, I'm likely to let it pass, even though filling gaps in my knowledge bank is now so easily achieved via internet research. Because learning is change, which leave me ambivalent.

Change is inevitable, and I don't like it one bit. One thing going wrong can taint the rest of the day, or even the week. In this case, today, my ISP software crashed, causing the loss of two months of saved e-mails. I've really got to get back to the daily practice of safe computing.

After giving up on trying to recover from the loss and over-writing the software installation, I go out to look for a notary to get some business done. I don't feel like going out any more than I feel like writing. I don't feel like doing anything. But I go and do it. It's got to be done.

Returning home, having been affectively unsuccessful, I retreat into the bedroom and try to record a program on my DVR. But it won't work. It hasn't worked right for months and I've been ignoring the symptoms, but now I have to conclude that it's fucked. Another cheap American product.

My anxiety levels are up as a result of, what? The e-mail crash? My unsuccessful foray out into the world? The DVR? No. Nothing so specific. Change in general. Unexpected change. Things change; and I don't like it. I want to explain this in detail, but I crash myself instead.

I'm on strange non-roads, extra-wide trampled paths in the snow through dangerous and precipitous places in a mountainous region, traveling with a group of immigrant/refugee-type people, trying to get to some unknown destination. It's cold and snowing and we're worried about the possibility of at least some of our party freezing to death, since it's well in the past, long before any rescue services have been established. Finally, we arrive where we're supposed to be going, a small village tucked away in the mountains. At the near edge of the village, though actually still a fair distance still to travel, we come across a large mansion, which seems very out of place, as if it belongs in a city, although the grounds, though now frozen and covered in snow, suggest a Southern plantation. We appeal to the residents to shelter us temporarily until the storm subsides and we can move on into the village. We come to a kind of tacit agreement (although I never actually see the residents) that we can stay here until morning. But, instead of them giving us a place to stay out of the weather, we venture down over a steep hillside in front of the place, where we discover another group of pilgrims camped on a snowy ledge, which is several snow-covered shelves down the hillside, just before an enormous mountainous drop-off, making this a dangerous place to be camped. [From an analytical, waking, interpretation, this second group could be us (the first group) camping there.] We try to help them, realizing that they are in even worse shape than we are. [We are, i.e., I am, in worse shape than I realize.] We petition these people to strike their camp and come back up the hill with us and accompany us to the village where we will throw our lot together, our survival thus better secured. Cut to:

A period of time, perhaps a century, later: I'm living in a kind of (perhaps accidentally) planned community, a collection of homes developed on a square street plan and extending many miles, a kind of working class residential district, suggestive of a company-owned labor camp of mostly one-story homes, not at all the dwellings of destitute people, but not so well-off either, slightly better than poor, but certainly not middle-class. I'm out in the community on a gray day, casually greeting people I meet in a distant sort of way, just being politely sociable, when something happens several blocks away. (I don't now how I know this, it's as if I'm getting news of it telepathically, like I'm watching tv or listening to the radio as if it were a century later. Hmm. Maybe my dreams are this kind of "broadcast.") I hurry to get to the "scene," but the going is slow, as if it will take forever. A guy, a nearby resident, walks past me (going in the same direction as me, but going slightly faster, although he too is not making much progress). He's leading a horse, which is slowing him down and which he really doesn't want but must tolerate as his responsibility. I offer to take it from him (or he offers to give it to me). Although I too don't want the responsibility, I take the horse, thinking it might get me to where I'm going faster, even as I recognize that the trouble he's having with the animal might slow me down even more, especially since I'm going to have to first put on the horse's halter, which the guy is carrying, and get the bit into the horse's mouth. (I don't know how the guy is leading the horse without a halter. It seems as if the horse is just obediently following him along like a huge dog.) It turns out that I hurry along to the incident without the horse (as if I've forgotten all about it, yet as if, having stopped to consider taking it has speeded me up), which turns out to have something to do with the people camped on the shelf on the mountainside, one of whom is a young woman who is having some kind of problem in this residential area a century later. I've become a kind of (latter day, from the POV of the previous dream century) sheriff's deputy (the quaint sort of character that bridges the gap between an old world peacekeeper and a modern police detective, the kind of guy who Harry Morgan might have played, similar to his role in The Shootist). My job is to resolve the woman's difficulty and keep the citizens calm and sociable, apparently a purpose similar to the one I play when we go down the hillside to the people camped on the ledge, although that role was more focused on survival while this one is more of a "social survival" kind of thing. Cut to:

I'm walking up Rodi Road, almost at the shopping center, lucidly aware for a brief moment that I never actually intended to walk up here, but have only been thinking about it in my "real" life, the intention also having something to do with the previous dream segment, as if that would be a solution to the young woman's problem, whatever it was. I decide that I need something to eat (or drink), but in order to get up into the shopping center, I either have to walk all the way up to the intersection and around the businesses up there on the main road, because there's a building (where the parking lot actually is) with a steep, unlandscaped (i.e., muddy-ish clay-like dirt) hillside behind it blocking the way and it feels like its protected (guarded) private property; or I have to climb up into the shopping center through the mud, which I don't want to do. But neither do I want to walk all the way around this obstruction [which doesn't exist in reality], so I walk up the muddy hillside. Cut to the top of the hill:

I'm walking up the slight grade of a blacktop parking lot, approaching a fast food place when a guy I pass calls out my name and shouts hello. I turn, smile, and wave at him, continuing on. At first I have no idea who he is, but I guess that he's someone who used to work for me (because occasionally I used to run into people I didn't recognize who had worked for me as temporary employees--there were at least several hundred of them who worked for me over the history of my business career--and they'd say hello, and I'd do this exact same thing without ever remembering them, sometimes even actually talking to them as if I did know who they were). I pass by the fast food place, intending to circle it and go in the door on the other side. (I don't know why I do this, but it's a parallel to the idea of originally thinking I had to circle the shopping center to gain access to it via the other entrance, so the repetition must be signaling some important hidden content, like maybe I'm trying to accomplish something in a roundabout way since obstructions prevent me from getting to it directly.) On the other side, I notice that the guy is still hanging around, and I realize that he works for this place and is outside it sweeping up the sidewalks and clearing debris off the outside tables. I almost do not go in because he works here, but, since he's outside, I do. At first, I stand back, not wanting to get in line until I know what I want. [When I go to fast food places, I often have not made up my mind as to what I want, wanting to look longer at the menu before choosing, but feeling rushed by my perception of an impatience of the server.] Then, when I do get in the very short line, it pisses me off that I have to wait. [This is the "other side" of the coin: Sometimes I feel rushed by society's postmod pace (and I've adopted my "theory of waiting" as a response to this perceived rush), and sometimes I'm irritated by the fact that society moves too slowly for me when I know what I want and just want to get it and get to other things I want to do. The morning before this dream, I was remembering how I used to always have to be waiting in some social situation for something to happen and how it used to piss me off, especially in the army, where the phenomenon is the worst. After I got out of the army, I swore I would never wait in lines again. But, of course, there are always situations where this must occur. I've gone a long way toward eliminating this crap from my lifestyle, yet still... These memories were keyed by my watching a local news traffic report where the woman said that there was only a twenty-minute delay on the Parkway going into town. I thought, "Only twenty minutes? Why do people put up with this crap?" But, of course, I know why they put up with it: They have no choice. And I renewed my resolution never to have to wait mindlessly like the rest of the sheeple for whatever social purpose--especially things like airport security lines, where the "humiliation" of having to be "inspected," accentuated by the discomfort and expected total compliance (this is the real problem here, compliance with authority), makes it a noxious experience for me.] So, instead of ordering, I leave the building, through the other door, and I run into the guy again and try to ignore him, but he manages to strike up a conversation with me about the old workplace, asking if various people still work there, which, walking backwards while trying to depart his presence, I say no to each person he mentions until I finally have to stop, re-approach, and tell him that I don't work there either any more. Then the conversation turns to the hillside blockage when I mention that I have to walk all the way around it to get back down to Rodi Road. We commiserate on the problem in a kind of conspiratorial way, and then I leave, trying to place the guy into the long series of employees I used to manage. [When I awaken, I realize he's familiar, not because I used to work with him, but because he resembles Michael Badalucco from "The Practice".] Cut to:

Back on Rodi Road. The conversation with Badalucco prompts me to want to investigate (tv lawyer-style) the company that is blocking the lower egress into the shopping center. A guard at a guard station at the front of the building prevents any possible unobserved entrance, but a woman checking in at the guard station and distracting the guard's attention enables me to slip around the guard and enter the dock area, where I find a lot of pet food supplies stacked and stored, ready for shipment. Everything looks very ordinary and aboveboard, and I'm disappointed that I can't find any evidence pointing to chicanery. I slip back out past the guard, waiting and observing him from behind the edge of the building until his head is turned away, and I walk down the sidewalk past him. But as I pass on by, I see that he is actually a young woman [actually, he was a young male guard who turned into a woman], who, in one way or another [I don't remember how] beckons me over to her and we talk as we walk along down the road. She's a brightly dispositioned, blue-eyed, slight-framed blond, who is intelligent and "with it," not at all the buxom blond stereotype, nor the type of woman who might work as a security guard. As we talk, we walk along together all the way to the intersection leading to my street, where she turns around and walks on back alone, but not before we kiss, very briefly yet wetly and sweetly--because our conversation as we walked had been increasingly intimate. Cut to:

Back at the company. I'm still with her and we are returning together. She's told me that she'll try to get me into the building for an interview with the company president [I don't know who will be interviewing whom; but, then again, an inter-view is exactly that], and when we arrive, he meets us at the guard shack. He welcomes me and I have the feeling I've seen him somewhere before. He's a very presentable blond guy, sort of a younger Corbin Bernsen with a more sunny, almost Thomas Hayden Church disposition. He says to the girl, "I'll take it from here," and the girl replies, "Okay, Dad." Dad!!! [At this point, my paranoid conscious self normally would have introjected extreme suspicion of her; but it doesn't. Instead,] I go off along with him with the understanding that his daughter and I are in love. As it turns out, people inside the building had been watching me on security cameras all along, although they couldn't watch me when we walked down the road out of their view, which was when the girl and I fell in love--because they couldn't monitor us?

This was a long and complicated dream that took the form of one of those "over time" stories: three centuries of experiences all tied together into one ongoing narrative, almost as if it were one of those epic stories of successive generations of related people. The first section seems to be about physical survival, the second about social survival, and the third, what? Psychological survival? It ends with what seems to be a postmod orientation toward uncovering the true motives of what appears to me to be an ordinary company, which is analogous to the mansion in the first segment and the vague lording social entity that runs the neighborhood in the second [of whom I, in the dream, am a representative; but I can't even imagine what this signifies, except to say that I can see a kind of parallel between myself as deputy in the second segment and the girl as guard in the third: The guard was a guy (me?) who turned into the girl (my anima?) So, I'm in love with (an aspect of) myself. Therefore, I'm narcissistic. Also, this could be my life: In the first segment, I am a free agent, roaming through the wilderness of my childhood and adolescence among others of similar nature; in the second segment, I am a minor authority figure, like I was in real life, a production supervisor; in the third segment, I am again free, but now possessed of a bit of wit and knowledge that enables me to do "investigative" work]. Apparently, judging from the sense/feeling of the dream, the company in the third segment was actually doing nothing wrong at all, it was a legitimate business operation--although it's interesting that my brain should "choose" that type of business, given the recent pet food debacle; and it's also interesting that, if they were doing nothing wrong, why did they feel it necessary to spy on me--or anyone? (Although that type of surveillance has become commonplace and is hardly considered nefarious at all like it once might have.) But then, "they" weren't spying on me, were they? That company is a part of a dream, which is in my own head. I'm spying on myself (and there are places I can go where I cannot do this spying, such as when I'm associating with a lovely woman.)

There is a kind of progression of atmosphere here from an authoritarian, Southern antebellum, lord of the manor feeling, to a broader dictatorial-type repressive company/society feeling, to modern, utilitarianism at the expense of personal convenience feeling, and finally, to a postmodern "consumer friendly" feeling, which I feel is not false (within the dream), existing solely for business purposes, but genuinely caring and concerned--although, in real life, that's exactly the way they want you to feel, isn't it? Isn't that why they go to all the trouble in the first place, so that, when they take your money, you'll feel comfortable enough to willingly part with it without any later regrets that might affect future sales? (I'll never buy another DVR from the company who manufactures the one I now own that has gone bad just shortly beyond the warrantee period.)

I want to think that this is a new kind of positive dream where I can fall in love and exist in peace and harmony with the social and business world, and not the typical old-style paranoid stuff I usually end up caught up in. But I also recognize how increasingly clever "they" are at conning people into feeling exactly this way. But maybe just the mere fact that I can postulate that more positive aspect is encouraging, that it's a jump ahead, even if the society within my brain/psyche is just a bit more clever than it used to be.

sociable people

I'm very wary of society; or, I should say, of "sociable" people. (They're really not all that sociable when you deconstruct their motivations.) So I try to avoid them (and people in general, because it's so hard to separate out the manipulators from the honest people, maybe because, in one way or another, we're all manipulators).

But occasionally I have social tasks that I must get done. Every once in a while one, despite my dedication to detachment, a rare social obligation still pops up. And I had been putting one of them off for too long. So, against my better judgment, last Friday I forced myself to go out in search of a notary to transfer power of attorney to my cousin so that she can settle my grandfather's estate; and so, while I was at it, I figured, I'll get a whole lot more done besides that I've been putting off. Mistake. Wrong day. I got very few of the things done that I intended, but not for lack of trying.

Now, here I sit, time wasted, and still no transferred power of attorney. Deluca, our state rep, where I can get notary services for free, moved his office somewhere I didn't know (actually, I even imagined he never got re-elected, that's how much attention I pay to local politics; but he did, which I verified when I got home and looked up his new office location in the phone book).

Every other place I tried, insurance offices, savings and loans, local drug store that has a notary service and is (in)famous for the owner shooting and killing hold-up perps no less than three times, etc., either had no notary or were permanently closed.

It could, I suppose, have ended up being a big mistake trying to go out when I just didn't feel up to it; but I got back home in time to head off any dire consequences (like being stopped for driving an uninspected car or something). The "stars" were against me, and I knew this ahead of time, I intuited it from the way I felt. And they're still against me, I still feel the same way that I did last week.

So, now, do I try it again this afternoon, rush out after having too little sleep, push myself, just to assuage the "guilt" I feel for maybe delaying the process of estate settlement and inconveniencing my scads of cousins who await my action? (I assume I'm the last to act. But who knows? Maybe I'm not.) Nah. Fuck 'em. I'll get to it when I feel like it. No sense inconveniencing myself for their benefit either.

When I was at one of the insurance companies, I noticed a peculiar psychological behavior of mine and I made a mental note to examine it later in more detail: I assumed (i.e., this is an unconscious presupposition that has somehow managed to break through), as I approached a guy sitting at a desk, that he is far older than I am, when in fact he is probably twenty years younger. I assumed this, I hypothesize, because he represents the "authority" of establishment (clean-cut insurance agent counter-poised against my outlaw hippie biker appearance). Thus, I unconsciously perceive him as being older.

I know I can "correct" this presupposition if I so choose, if not generally as a matter of changing my overall psycho-social conditioning, then at least I can write out a contingency management step-plan and put it into effect and change my mental behavior in specific instances that I recognize ahead of time so that I can approach them consciously. I've done this sort of thing many times before.

But do I want to do this, especially if the result ends up changing my basic social orientation? I don't know if I want to "train" myself to experience others as being the actual age they are re my actual age, because, again I hypothesize, (at least a part of) my "appeal" (which is exactly the right word, given the nature of my generally unconscious semi-solicitous attitude--belied by my overt behavior, which is a mask--although the word in normal social usage would be "attraction") is that I still think of myself as young and project that attitude onto a world of others, who as a consequence tend to see me in that way some of the time.

At other times, such as when I was talking to the insurance guy, I realize that some people see me as I am and are a bit intimidated by the rough and tumble, or at least ex-rough and tumble, veneer that I present to them. Which is exactly its intent. And it's nice to know that it works, when it does. But I don't want to lose that other thing, that appeal, because...well, if nothing else, occasionally it still gets me laid. This brings to my conscious mind another realization:

I hate macho men and freely criticize them, often. And yet I mimic one in my appearance, rationalizing that it gains me a social advantage (or at least a personal dominance), which it does; but I suspect that the real reason has more to do with a macho instinct (or internalized cultural male ideal) that I repress. Because, if I had to compete on that level in society, I feel like I would be compromised, not only by my relative lack of physical prowess, but by my insecurity as well. I just can't rise to the occasion when circumstances demand that the good old boy attitude exhibit itself. It's a social trait I can mimic superficially, but never really get into. I would have to be top dog or no dog at all (an authority issue); and there are just too many macho men out there who are too willing to take anyone on, despite the consequences. It's not an area where level heads tend to prevail. They will prevail, eventually; but in the meantime, the chaos created breaks a lot of skin and bones and sends a lot of wayward souls to the hoosegow.

So I opt to live in my own little world instead and choose only to appear to adapt to the narrower standards of the male-dominated world. It's a pass adaptation in any case, geared more to the early twentieth century than to the twenty-first. But that's how I was (poorly) socialized. What am I supposed to do now? Change? Pretend to re-adapt? Become metro-sexual? Well, I guess I could. I've changed before, though in less extensive ways. I've been changing my image all my life. I could turn my image around and pretend to be someone else. It'd be easy enough to do. But why bother? My current persona is working for me, for now. It's better that I leave well enough alone. Unless some compelling set of circumstances intervenes, which, eventually, they always seem to do. Maybe some day...

Although...if there were ever a qualifying compelling set of circumstances, it could be these (that is, by becoming a totally different person, I maybe could eliminate this "problem"):

disorganized organizers and different kinds of UFOs

There's a storm on the loose, sirens in my head.
Wrapped up in silence, all circuits are dead.
Cannot decode. My whole life spins into a frenzy.

Help, I'm steppin' into the Twilight Zone.
Place is a madhouse, feels like being cloned.
My beacon's been moved under moon and star.
Where am I to go now that I've gone too far?

Golden Earring, "Twilight Zone"
Life accumulates, usually without you even realizing it. You don't pay it any attention until it's too late. I collect stuff, but I have a problem with organizing it. It's a symptom of my difability.

It lays about and my best lame efforts group it into piles, which I walk around and step over until I awaken to how compromised my living area has become. And it's no different inside my head.

But, I have to admit, if I can just manage to set aside the conditioning that demands that I want everything to be neat and orderly, I kind of like living this way, like some absent-minded professor.

And, every once in a great while, in a fit of motivation, I act to organize and put a pile or two away, usually because I found some new organizing principle, device, or container that I can use.

A large part of my collection can be classified as containers. I like things that contain other things--boxes, cabinets, racks, and, especially, things that have drawers, cubbyholes, subdivisions, etc.

If only by virtue of their very name and nature, organizers help me to keep things better organized, when, without them, my collections would and most often are laying around all over the place.

But, usually, my organizers, like the stuff they would organize, are laying around and about unorganized. Even so, at least the stuff inside them isn't laying around. That would really be a mess.

I'm just about to the point where I've decided I'm going to make a major effort to organize at least the office area when I get up to look out the window and become distracted by the mail truck:

"Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail, nor gloom of night, will stay these couriers from their daily appointed rounds." But a telephone service van parked in front of the mailboxes, well, that's a different story. Oh, don't get out of your air-conditioned truck and walk back a whole ten yards to put mail in my mailbox because the phone service guy has inconvenienced you by climbing up a pole, you fat, lazy bitch.

What a bunch of bullshit slogans that are supposed to represent organizations are--especially that post office one. In an average week, you will find at least once my neighbors and/or me out in the street exchanging mail wrongly delivered because we have an incompetent mail person who, judging by the way she looks and the speed she's traveling at and the haphazard way she tosses the mail into the boxes, just can't wait to get back home and spend a few hours lazing around watching daytime tv and stuffing Twinkies in her face before she has to return to work and turn in her truck.

[Doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo. Jump ahead five months in a Twilight Zone kind of way: I'm snowed in. One day earlier, I shoveled six inches of snow off the steps and driveway to get out to get the mail; and, the next morning, I awoke to three more inches. So, fuck it. I'm not shoveling any more snow this day. (Where does all the time go anyway? One minute it's late summer and you're wondering how you're ever going to get all the gardening done and the crops harvested and preserved before fall and the next minute you're in your superheated bedroom hiding out from the frozen earth and watching CO2 bubble through the air traps of a five-gallon carboy full of fermenting beer beside the bed and two one-gallon jugs of black raspberry wine, made from the fruit frozen last fall, across the room on the small chest of drawers.)

Anyway, when I go out to shovel the snow, I find a package sitting on the bench beside the door. It's a USB floppy disk for my new laptop that I will go out and buy because my whole life will spiral into a frenzy after my PC becomes infected by multiple Trojans and/or viruses. (Don't forget, this is five months from now.) And the footprints of the UPS man will have compacted the snow on the steps, making it that much harder to remove; but I won't mind, because I recognize the guy's dedication. He trudges through six inches of snow, up the steps to the porch, whereas the mail people, if they absolutely have to, drop packages off in front of the garage door below. And the UPS guy is a gregarious blond who looks and acts like Steve Irwin, always jovially smiling, always ready with a pleasant greeting, beeps his horn when he pulls up in front of the house, knocks on the door when drops off a package, and has been on this route for nearly twenty years--as opposed to the USPS people who come and go weekly, always someone new who doesn't know the route and delivers mail to the wrong houses and just stares at you or looks away when you try to wave hello as he or she passes on by.

So I will finally shovel my way out to the street to get the mail and to my chagrin I will not be able to remove it from the box because the goddam postal person forced it all in rather than deliver the small boxes (a flash drive from Amazon and two books from eBay) to the door. In order to extricate the mail, I end up tearing the packages open. Asshole.]

So, instead of following up on my intent to organize, I sit back down at the computer and write this out [which is exactly the same thing I will end up doing five months from now after things begin to settle down a bit, I get all of my personal files transferred to the new laptop, and I regain control of my daily schedule and think to begin to start reorganizing the house that I will allow to deteriorate into an even greater mess than it is now. Doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo doo-doo]. And I begin to consider how much time I "waste" writing out my ideas and the mundane details of my life, as if (as I often believe) that is my most important purpose. In fact, I begin to worry, my life is, both now and in the past (and, obviously, also in the future), pretty much wasted. (You can be fairly certain that your life has been pretty much wasted when you've got large sections of Seinfeld, Roseanne, and Friends episodes memorized.)

Next, I turn my attention to submitting a few short stories for publication, when I run across a web page that "warns" against simultaneous submissions. This sets me off. Publishers' strictures against simultaneous submissions reflect the arrogance and elitism that publishers have enjoyed throughout publishing history. But what they really indicate is the fact that publishers are inefficient at their work, requiring that authors wait inordinate amounts of time to receive their rejection notices. I always submit simultaneously. To date, it has not caused me or any publisher any grief; but if it did, if I will ever be called on it, my respond would be: speed it up, assholes; your anticipated discomfort is caused by your own snail's-pace business model and not by authors who want to reduce the lag time and make the most efficient use of their time by submitting simultaneously.

This is projection, of course. Effectively, by allowing a lag time, I have become demotivated to organize even the smallest area of my house. Instead, I turn my attention to vague but fond reconstructed memories of a different kind of UFO:

"What is that you're cooking?"
"Why? What difference does it make?"
"I don't know if I want to eat that...thing."
"It's food. Don't worry about what it is."
"I'm not eating it if you don't tell me what it is."
"More for me then."
"What is it?"
"If you're hungry enough, you won't care."
"I don't think I'll ever be that hungry. What is it?"
"It's an unidentified frying object."

The reverie, being inextricably tied up with a sexual relationship, morphs my attention to still another type of UFO:

The G-spot, I want to think, is actually a misperception of the stimulation of the clitoris to achieve orgasm, but indirectly felt, a la how pain gets deferred to other places or how stimulating certain points on the body (e.g., via acupuncture or reflexology) causes effects elsewhere. I'm intimately familiar with this kind of phenomenon: Due to my spinal condition, I frequently feel pain where it is not: at various times, in my feet, legs, and hips, in my fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders, in my head, eyes, jaw, and teeth (I used to go to the dentist when I felt pain in my teeth, only to be told that I had no cavities and everything was fine; now I just try to adjust my posture instead). I've traced all of these displaced pains, at one time or another, to my spine, which is the real problem.

So, yeah, why not displaced pleasure too? It seems strange to me that people('s bodies) would "think" to transfer pleasure in the way they might displace pain, because we displace pain in order to avoid it and, typically, we don't want to avoid pleasure. But I can imagine a few reasons why women might "want" to do this (although I do not mean to suggest that men are not equally self-victimizing in their own similarly peculiar ways):

Sex and the "delicate" (to use this word delicately--or diplomatically--here) condition of the human mind being what it is, women might feel guilt or whatever at experiencing joy in a region at the outer edge of the body (it's a stretch); or, more likely, they focus, as a matter of instinctual or culturally conditioned course, their attention on the dull point of the intruding entity, feel it there most of all (yes, men, size, i.e., length, does matter, and, additionally, thickness, which can serve to expand the area of awareness), and consequently they feel the pleasure created most intensely by friction at the other end against the actual physiological pleasure center displaced to where their attention is focused, "finding" the spot being merely the perceived stimulation rising to a level high enough to be more fully felt, though away from its true center--at least until the critical point, when it is more globally realized [as opposed to the more localized tendency of the male.

(I am so envious. Women believe that they have been so cursed by nature for the mechanisms they've evolved, but they tend not to realize how much better off they are than men in the pleasure area)].

Of course, being a guy, I don't really know if this theory is true, I don't have the "credentials" to speak about this experience with authority. And I don't know if anyone has ever proposed this explanation. But they certainly have suggested the fictive nature of the G-spot itself. (It's an Unidentified Fuzzy Object.) And, being trained in psychology, I understand how people believe and thus experience (believing is seeing) all kinds of phenomena that aren't really there or are in places where they are not perceived to be.

These kinds of "fuzziness" phenomena, I want to think, are examples of the "female" global perspective. Men tend to want more concrete, well-defined, specifically located points (of view). Zero in on that exact spot. Pinpoint it right here. This is the tendency of the male perspective. We're all such assholes. (Women too; but we prefer to call them something else.) But we're not "wrong" in the way(s) we go about trying to express our innate natures. You can be an asshole without being wrong. It all has to do with how you think about it. Our responses to stimuli are pre-programmed. It's no wonder we see and feel all these things that aren't really there. Our self-deceptions are the most difficult UFOs (unidentified foreign obsessions) to contend with. We spend way too much time trying to determine what is wrong with us, when it's not a matter of right or wrong, but of how we go about trying to dispel the illusion.

the illusion of morality

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
Everyone is "right" in their own peculiar way, even the most "evil" of people; and social standards that claim a distinction between right and wrong, that lay a claim to "common sense," are leveling to the point of meaninglessness. We each have our own reasons for doing what we do, and most of that reasoning (or feeling; reasoned thought being an evolved form of the more primitive feeling response of our earliest primate ancestors) is primarily an unconscious process. Even if we were aware of it, we'd have an all but impossible time explaining it to others, let alone convincing them that our sense of "rightness" was the correct one, not only because what people what want to hear is verification of their beliefs as to what is right and wrong and tend to disconsider all other reasoning (despite their claims to the contrary), but also because we ourselves, set in our own righteous ways, shortcut our explanations; because you can't present rigorous arguments in common parlance, there's just not enough time, attention, or freedom from interruption.

(Over longer periods of time during a continued co-existence with specific people, we might manage to communicate some of our rationale to friends and associates who more or less willingly begin to consider our internal logic, if only by sheer repetition or the force of our good example; and that is what we call influence, which is our most potent weapon in the battle to make our sense of logic the dominant one.)

Everyone does the best that they can in any given set of circumstances. If we could do better, we would. No one (except perhaps a "crazy" person) ever says, "I'm going to go out and do wrong today," or "I'm intentionally going to be evil." They either rationalize their "bad" as "good," or they admit that they are just not up to meeting the standards that others would set for them and so set lower standards for themselves, or they simply repress the whole matter and refuse to consider any questions of morality altogether.

We're thwarted by our unconscious motives as we go about our daily lives thinking that what we are doing is the right thing to do. Even the most "evil" of people believe themselves to be doing the right thing, for themselves. It's true that a large percentage of people who do "wrong" do so out of a "moral" lack, disconsidering others and society in general in favor of their own best interest and personal desire. And this is how we, then, define morality, as a social issue, how we all "get along" (supposedly).

When we as a society agree on the definitions of right and wrong (such as when we pass laws) and choose the (pre-defined) right side of those definitions, we are acting morally--whether or not the society has gotten the definitions "right." (Consider Germany before and during WWII.) It's true that a larger social segment (e.g., world opinion) may disagree and eventually override the sub-segment definitions, but the argument ultimately holds: either the whole world generally agrees or the definitions are relative to individual countries, or even segments of countries, and certainly cultural divisions.

Thus, morality is, at best, relative. And, given the fact that we are but highly advanced animals, the definitions we create, however "highfalutin" they may be, are mere rationalizations for what we as a society already do, i.e., behave as the animals we are. For example, when we decide that we must go to war, we rationalize that it's all "right" to kill the enemy, as long as we do it by pre-defined rules, and we disregard any previous imperatives that inform us that killing is wrong, such as when the Bible tells us "Thou shalt not kill." But the Bible does not say, "Thou shalt not kill...except when your neighbor has raped and killed your five year old daughter, or when the army across the border has forced its way into your country and stolen your land and belongings, or when an evil dictator is oppressing his subjects and threatening your cheap oil supply, or even when a stranger has a gun to your head and is threatening to kill you." It says, simply, "Thou shalt not kill." And its didactic simplicity implies a basic truth, which is elucidated elsewhere in the Bible: "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you." Because to do otherwise, to kill, anyone, is to invite like behavior toward yourself; and, living in this way, sooner or later everyone on the planet will be dead. Extend our social logic in this regard to all other "moral" principles and you have relative morality, the bending and breaking of rules as we see fit, when otherwise we will be inconvenienced.

But I go a step further when I say that, not only is morality relative, it is an illusion--because it's the way that we rationalize our animal behavior and compromise the ideals (preliminary precursors of illusions) we set for ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking that we know what we are doing, when, really, except for rare moments of insight, both individually and collectively, we operate 99% unconsciously; and that unconscious wisdom is far more able to deal with life than our meager conscious egos ever could, even when we act collectively and supposedly rationally. It is always our conscious determinations that get us into (moral) trouble. "Thou shalt not kill?" Reactive fathers of raped and murdered daughters will always be far more "right" than any law or moral code could ever be, because they operate from unfiltered feelings that reach deep down into the core of existence and operate unconsciously, leaving only the least amount of recognizable "logic" in the brain to direct the vengeance operation. At this level (where we all are almost all of the time, though our location is well hidden by our "rational" egos operating at the beck and call of a complex, illusory set of social standards that other egos have constructed for us), we are life living itself, knowing how to live, acting and reacting, with no need of a moral code to determine right and wrong. Can we exist at this level, without ego intervention? No. Of course not. We are conscious egos, after all. Does that make our artificial morality any less of an illusion? It does not.

So, how do we use this knowledge that we operate at a level that most of us will never have conscious access to and that those of us who do will have it rarely and be capable of using it even less often? I don't know. I haven't gotten that far in my own personal quest for perfection. I prefer, instead, to live according to strict personal dictates which I seldom violate in fits of unconscious "righteous" indignation, when the primal forces at or near my core (where true "morality" lies) well up and threaten to take over. Strict personal rules [they would serve society well also, if only everyone were as rock-headedly rigorous as I am; but everyone is not, and so the most didactic of us create a false moral code instead, to keep the less disciplined (by the didactic definers definitions) masses in line] provide a basis for my being able to avoid getting myself into trouble, which I tended to head toward a lot when I was young, but always seemed to skirt it by the skin of my teeth; but I recognized early enough that, if I kept doing the things I tended to do, eventually I was going to get caught; ergo, the strict personal rules. They serve me well, and I would like to extend them to other areas of life that I now all but completely avoid, so that I may more safely extend myself out into society in those directions. [But, probably, I will not. This is just another fantasy. I'm old enough to easily recognize my idle fantasies by now.]

If I were still a young man (I'm too old for this kind of shit now), I would engage in non-violent despoiling of the plans, schemes, activity, etc. of violent and/or sociopathic people, including the military and administration masterminds and stooges who manage violence from afar, etc. More than any other area of social concern, I believe this one to be the most important. If we don't solve this problem of the basic violence of our animal nature, we are doomed, especially as we progress toward tighter and tighter living conditions with fewer and fewer resources to call upon to sustain us as a species. The more we truly need (as opposed to merely desire), the more the "better" among us (those more capable of surviving, competing, and prospering; in short, the elite) will oppress those who are less innately talented or culturally evolved. But that doesn't mean that the "lesser" among us will roll over and die. History does not teach us that lesson. Rather, the oppressed rise up, utilizing their more basic talents (including violence, which the elite become less skilled at as they rise, because they can afford to hire underlings to do their violent bidding and, as revolutions grow, hirelings become less available and far more expensive) to overthrow the elite and take their place. It's a never-ending cycle, which is fine as long as space and resources are plentiful. But they are fast dwindling. And this is the critical problem facing the species now: How do we deal with (overt, but especially tacit) violence, both the reactive violence of the oppressed and the subcontracted elitist violence, within our overcrowding populations and dominating boardrooms and government offices?

Sociopaths can appear to be the most sociable of people. It's their disguise. They develop an expertise at schmooze in order to manipulate others to their antisocial will. In just this same way, people who will take any "social" or cultural opportunity to be violent (such as in a war) but otherwise maintain their bellicose dormancy are also secretly sociopathic. But our social definitions do not recognize this latter category. Institutionalized violence (such as wars, or police actions, or even a certain amount of excessive police force used on less affluent populations) is tolerated and even condoned. Yet, I maintain, all of that violence is perpetrated by sociopaths, even if our definitions do not label them as such. It's perhaps a future-oriented re-definition: One day we will see how our leaders and elitist citizens do not "fit in," even as they now control the definition of that term. (It's all about the definitions.) The solution to this problem of closet sociopaths in control of business and government (you don't necessarily have to engage in or support violence in order to be a sociopath; you can simply act or support actions that kill people benignly, such as polluting the air and the waters, etc.; if you do condone or tolerate these kinds of things knowingly within your domain of power and/or influence, you just might be a closet sociopath) is one that has been long proposed but seldom instituted; only the best of our world leaders have employed it effectively (Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, et al.): non-violent confrontation--and, I would add, non-personally violent civil disobedience and property destruction to the purpose of thwarting the plans and aims of those who would perpetuate the personally violent penchant of our species. (One of my more modest role models in this endeavor is Father Michael Doyle.)

We must apply a rigorous control over this aspect of our biology. Furthermore, we must reverse the sanctions applied to the use of violence, scaling down penalties against "core-initiated" violent acts of revenge and responses of desperate and destitute people to their unfortunate circumstances (penalties which are maintained by the support of the elitists who require that the "lessers" be kept way down in order for they themselves to remain way up) and scaling up the penalties against rationally imposed violence of power mongers and those passive-aggressive assholes who would settle national and international differences with violence instead of tact and diplomacy. [Yes, George Bush. I'm talking about you. You need to be put in jail for your sociopathic antics. But, of course, we're going to honor you instead as a revered ex-president; because it's not really your fault. It's the fault of a society that would want to honor you, a society that places expediency over the true value of (all) life and insists that it is yet "moral." This is real illusion here: that we are a moral nation.]

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I know all of the counter-arguments. But they're all excuses for why you want to believe in right and wrong. I know you're programmed to disbelieve it, but they really are just excuses. Don't you see? We're all animals; it's in our genes. And the mental activity that we call "reason" is just an advanced development of the more primitive operations in (prototypical) animals' brains when they negotiate their environments/interactions. We just do it in a lot more complex and sophisticated way, lots more neurons firing, lots more brain activity trying to comprehend levels of complexity that lower animal forms let pass on by, but ultimately just more cause and effect phenomena that serves survival instincts and prosperity-seeking behaviors, and not some cosmic or spiritual code handed down to us by some fictive god, or even by wise ancestors. We are far wiser now (despite our continued propensity to hang onto superstitions) than our ancestors ever were. This is why I rankle when I hear groups like the Brights trying to justify their "naturalistic" (i.e., non-superstitious) worldview by claiming that they are every bit as capable of morality and moral reasoning, though they be free of religious or "spiritual" belief, because morality, too, is just more of that same kind of superstitious behavior. Believe it or not.

the dream is gone

I don't want to believe in anything (impossible though that may be), because with belief comes the distinct likelihood of superstition, which I hate. It really pisses me off when I discover little enclaves of superstitious belief hidden among what I want to believe is my rationally derived system of thought, sneaky little homilies and old wives' tales handed down through generations; and, just as much as they might contain a certain ancient wisdom that just might still be relevant today, so might they be outdated and restrict us from advancing. (Religious dogma is the most obvious of this class of insidious sentiment.) We are all saddled with heritage beliefs, the erroneous nature of which we hardly ever realize. It's just another form of dependence that I'm trying to extricate myself from.

I don't want to have to depend on anything (certainly not on previous generations who have quite thoroughly proven their ignorance) or anyone, because people let you down and, if I become dependent, then, when the person I depend on lets me down, it'll be a big disappointment and cause a big change in my life, and I don't do change very well.

But, dude, you're changing things all the time.

Yes, but that's self-imposed change, and on my own schedule. Others may see the change, but what they don't see is the long history of consideration and preparation for it. Every change I make is the end product of a long period of extensive planning and pensive doubt and worry. I change lots of things frequently, but each change has been in the works for months or years. I have long lists of proposed changes that I will one day get around to (or not), and the ones I'm just now getting around to have been on the list for a very long time.

Fear of change (anxiety) is a result of Asperger's because, since Aspies have difficulty reading social cues (in the moment, though often, in retrospect, they can be very good at it), they learn via conditioning to want to avoid situations where everything doesn't go the way they are accustomed to it going. (This problem is even more profound in full-blown autistics.) Thus, they learn to program change so that it isn't as disturbing or life challenging as it might otherwise be.

For example, I used to be both very conservative and radically liberal in my beliefs, and even at the same time (which implies that I haven't changed at all, because in many ways I still am):

I'm at some kind of a small Republican Convention-like gathering in a large cafeteria-like room. The speakers have finished speaking and I'm at the front of the room with them and others who are mingling, as if I'm one of the "fans" who are sucking up to the bigwigs, though I am not. I realize, however, that I'm wearing a standard brown suit and that I look like they do (though with long hair, although it seems that I do not recognize that aspect of myself within the dream). I walk to the back of the room where I see my mother standing. She doesn't look at me when I approach and, since she doesn't appear to be going to greet me, I say hello to her instead. She says, "What are you doing here?" It's not a critical remark, but neither is it endearing; it's rather devoid of any affect, which is very much unlike the way she was. I don't answer her (probably because I don't know why I'm there). She says, "I saw you up there at the front pretending to be one of them." I don't tell her that she, more than I, is "one of them." Although she wouldn't have believed it, she looked and acted the part, in that her basic Democratic demeanor and attitude was conservative when contrasted against my radical position. [Although, when later analyzing the symbolism, I think that in the dream we are both conservative and that her character is that aspect of me that criticizes conservatism while actually being in many ways conservative myself, while my dream character is a radical in conservative clothing.] I go back across the room where I meet a girl [Kirsten Dunst, I realize after I awaken] who asks me to help her get a package down from a high shelf. (Actually, the shelf is not that high, only slightly above her head. She could have reached it herself). I get the package for her. It's a seven pound lump of nearly pure silver ore (I know as if she'd told me, although she didn't) packaged (baked) inside a "cake" which is packaged inside a cookie tin and then wrapped in paper. I give her the package and we walk together, intending to leave the gathering. Halfway across the room, she gives the package back to me, asking me to carry it for her, the unstated implication being that it's too heavy. But I understand, though she doesn't intend for me to know, that I'm supposed to get the package out of the room for her, because she's afraid that she will get caught stealing it. I carry it in one hand with it hanging down at my side, gripping it firmly because it's rather heavy and difficult to carry like this, but I figure that if I carry it casually, as if it's a lightweight package, no one will suspect that it contains anything valuable. As we near the doors (there are two double doors equidistant from the far walls with that same distance between them), I motion to her to leave via the right set of doors while I plan to go to the left. I tell her to walk out to Frankstown Ave.--which is actually the Parkway between Swissvale and Penn Hills--and walk along the road and "we'll" (at this point I don't know who "we" are) pick her up in the car. I have to get through the doors, which are guarded by security guards who are scrutinizing everyone who enters and leaves. With a combination of stealth and nonchalance, I get by. At this point, I become Jerry Seinfeld, and outside the doors I meet George Costanza. We put the package in the car and drive on up the road; but we can't find the girl and wonder where she went. Back outside the room, I again replay the dream segment where I must sneak out through the doors, which take various forms of egress through several iterations, after which sequence I am outside in the parking lot confronted by Eastern European thugs who take the package (which is now not a cake tin, but a device resembling an electronic keyboard but without the piano keys, presumably a version of the package that I stole in one of the later dream variations). As I look on, they take the device and pair it up with another device they have in the trunk of their car, by touching the end of it against the smaller, squarer box-like device, another variation of the package that I stole in a different iteration. When the two devices are touched together, the non-keyboard begins to play music, which the thugs believe it's not supposed to do, as if this indicates that it's not functioning properly. Disappointed, they abandon the devices and leave. The car, it turns out, is mine, not theirs. I put the non-keyboard into the back seat and drive away, looking for George and the girl, and understanding what the thugs did not, that the two devices are actually a set, the smaller box being the amplifier and the non-keyboard the receiver, so that when they are placed together, you can hear the amplified signal, but when separated, you cannot. I know that the non-keyboard in the back seat is playing music as I drive but I can't hear it because the amp is in the trunk. I locate George and then the girl, who, when I ask where she was, why she wasn't walking along the road, says she stopped into a party along the way. "You went to a party? I say, in my best Seinfeld intonation. George, in his typical Seinfeld series echo, throwing his hand up, shouts, "She went to a party."

I awaken briefly. Then I fall back asleep and dream about the 9-11 disaster. I'm living downtown at the Albert Hotel (where I actually had lived for a while a long while back). John McEnroe is my neighbor. We watch out the window of my room as the second building falls, after seeing the first one fall on tv. Then we sit across the room from each other and discuss the event in loud voices, because it's hard to hear over the din outside. McEnroe, describing it, with an upward hand gesture, exclaims, "Chalk flew up in the air!"

I awaken laughing. This was the same Armageddon precursor scene I watched as it happened on a friend's webcam set up on a Brooklyn rooftop patio across the river, the same point of view, but as if I was downtown in a hotel room instead. I start to think about how time is deceptive, how when it "distorts" itself in dreams (the time in the McEnroe dream was distorted in a way that made it seem like the past, 1991, was the present), it's really the same thing that happens in "reality," except that we don't notice it because, when "awake," we filter our experiences so that we don't notice that the past (and the future, via intution/imagination) is actually occurring right now in our brains. I conclude this based on a kind of "evidence" that I got from the dream, which I'm finding impossible to describe now that I'm awake. The dream state of mind implicitly informed me that time (pastpresentfuture) blends itself together in a way that, when awake, our rational, consensually conditioned minds disallow us to notice.

I try to meditate on this, but I can't manage to settle down enough to do it. I want to get up and do things and am dissatisfied with lying in bed. I want it to be winter so that I can hide out from the cold. In the winter, I'll get up, feeling this same "motivation" to get things done, go out into the cold house, look out the front window at the frozen landscape and snow-covered street, maybe watch a neighbor scraping ice off a windshield, getting ready to go to work, decide that I am fortunate not to have to put up with that crap any more, retreat back into the bedroom with a cup of hot coffee, and feel quite contented to spend the rest of the day sequestered, doing whatever so long as I do not have to go out. Time begins to dissolve away in the middle of the winter (when I'm often not sure when awakening whether it is day or night) like it does in dreams (and like it will sometimes do in the extreme of summer when it's too sweltering hot to do anything but sit in one place in an eternal moment and wait for it to get cooler). Dreamtime doesn't change, even as events themselves continually evolve, easily and without resistance, one into another. Change in (my) dreams is not challenging. Even seasonal-like changes that are so lifestyle upsetting to me have no dream correlate. My dreams know no season; even when I recognize seasons within dreams (which is rare), they have no effect. I dont have to dress appropriately or have any heat or cold related concern. Because time is different in dreams, seasons do not matter. Time is real, I want to think, in dreams. It's a continuously flowing, non-discrete, all-encompassing state of being; whereas, in waking life, it's subjected to the arbitrary stricture of the ego-conscious mind. Somehow, change happens without affective incident in dreams. There's a lesson here, I think. I want to meditate in depth on this, but all I can manage is:

It's 1974. Discount paperback books are $0.75. I'm working at an entry-level shit job for $2.25 an hour with benefits. Today, discount paperback books are $5.00, at best. $0.75 x 3=$2.25. $5.00 x 3=$15.00. Are people in entry-level shit jobs making $15.00 an hour with benefits? That's all the evidence I need to know that the conservatives are funneling the wealth away from the poor toward the rich and increasingly oppressing the underprivileged. Do the math yourself, choosing any particular basic commodity. Rarely will you ever find one that has gotten relatively cheaper. (Disregard electronics and other items that benefit from advancing technology and improving production tactics.) But this is ordinary, rationally-minded stuff. The dream is gone.

post-apocalyptic strategies for living

I've said it before. Republicans are uncaring assholes and Democrats are ineffective wussies. In our two party system, the best political situation we can have is to elect a president and a congress that is so perfectly balanced between left and right, extreme and moderate, that it can get nothing at all accomplished. Short of that, this back and forth pendulum effect is disturbing and accomplishes nothing that isn't subsequently undone; and, anyway, it's not true accomplishment, which is a political code word for "how much money can I and/or my district and/or my corporate patrons make off of the American taxpayer?"

It wouldn't be so bad if the corporations actually did something real for the citizens; but those days are long gone. Any public benefit of mass production has long since been usurped by the greed that the corporations increasingly effect through unethical and often illegal manipulation of government organizations and officials. And even that wouldn't be so bad if the quality of the products that corporations produced wasn't getting worse and worse in the attempt to increase profit margins and wring every fraction of a cent out of each and every transaction.

My response to (and strategy toward) poor products and service is a personal boycott, not only at the consumer business level, but in my own lifestyle as well. If I get a bad product (which seems to happen quite often), typically, unless it is very convenient, I do not return it. I buy a lot of things by mail, and returning them is inconvenient and costly; returning even big ticket items are often out of the question, because I can't see wasting the postage (the bigger they are, the more costly they are to mail), especially if the product is being returned for repair, because if there was something wrong with it in the first place, my experience informs me that, even if it is repaired correctly (which often it is not), the replaced parts are also potentially defective and will wear badly and eventually the same problem will recur (which is probably more a matter of poor engineering than of defective parts per se). So, instead of returning the item, I eat its cost and resolve never again to buy anything from that company. My list of boycotted manufacturers and suppliers is growing by leaps and bounds. Quality is no longer "job one" (if it ever was) in our post-consumer economy. Finally, at some theoretical point in the future, my life(style) will have evolved to a level where I will not need to buy anything at all other than food and utility services. And that's okay. It's all a part of my long term plan for slow detachment from consumer culture.

If you think I am being not so serious re my anti-corporation "policies," if you think I am (as usual) caught up in hyperbole, think again. I believe that all corporations should be de-licensed and owners (including stockholders) and company officers should be held directly and personally responsible for everything the corporation does. My catch-phrase for this one-man quest is "Support Corporate Dismantlement"; and I'm very serious about it. Otherwise, more typically:

You shouldn't take me too seriously. A lot of the time I'm being either sarcastic, ironic, or cleverly associative and/or reflective of material I've read/seen that I feel compelled to assimilate and regurgitate, in whatever form and with whatever logic, my own or someone else's. My work is a mashup of that which I encounter, some part of the content that I experience that I deem most significant, presented in the best creative way that I can manage at the time. Much of the stuff I write is not what I really believe. (I'm not even so sure I know what most of what I believe is.) It's test material, to examine the logic/content; or it investigates possibility, conjecture, and/or intuition which may or may not stand the test of time; or it's...whatever, ideas that run through my brain and get relayed, whether distorted or true to form.

I fight the tendency to believe, because I use writing as a therapy tool to figure out how it is that my "mind" works, that what I write is what I actually believe; but this is not necessarily true, when, just as likely, I use what I write to examine, not the content, but the form. I'm a writer, but not necessarily a believer. Belief is so overrated. It's relative. How can you ever hope to become a star child if you're stuck on the surface of the Earth looking up at the stars on a crystal-clear night and wondering, "How did God ever manage to create all of this beauty?" Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but believing is seeing.

I want to write a book (yet another one) entitled Post-apocalyptic Strategies for Living, a compilation of my (anti-) beliefs, a delineation of how I live like I do, frugally, hoarding, buying things online so that I don't have to go drive a car (dry food, commodities from places with free shipping, etc.), not having a car or using gas garden tools (planting my yard with bushes so as to have only to "trim" my grass and weeds), raising my own food, collecting rainwater, wood stove to burn junk wood I get from trash, surreptitious "civil disobedience" (driving an uninspected car, burning plastic, etc.) etc., future goals: a windmill and a dead-weight restricted freefall for electricity generation, etc.

Let me state that "post-apocalypse" in the proposed book's title is sarcasm, lest anyone suspect it would be a different kind of book. But that doesn't mean that I intend for this book to be satirical (though, in some ways I do). It is a practical guide to living: I'm living this way right now and am quite happy about it, thank you.

This is just more of my elusive and extensive fantasy system. I know I'll never write this book. If I actually would have intended to write it, I never would have included its description here. Here is where I dump the plethora of ideas from my journals and elsewhere that I can't find places for in the books that I am actually writing; and I have enough of them going; I don't need to be starting any more. I'm seriously beginning to doubt that I'll even finish another book. It just seems like too much work any more.

next fantasy please

Every now and then I come up with a hypothesis that sounds correct and has the added benefit of being totally impossible to verify. Thats almost as good as knowledge.

My hypothesis for today is that a persons need for social interaction is inversely related to the quality of his or her imagination. In other words, if you have an excellent imagination, you might enjoy people, but youre equally happy to be alone with your thoughts for large stretches. To put it bluntly, you fascinate yourself.


Presumably, if you have no imagination whatsoever, you need to get all of your stimulation from the environment, mostly from other people, or at least TV shows about other people. You wouldnt want to be alone with your thoughts for more than two minutes because your thoughts would bore the living piss out of you.

6023: The house seems different, less cluttered somehow (though it wouldn't at all have been classified as cluttered in reality), cleaner (ditto; I can't quite define the quality that makes it subtly different). Mom and Dianne are upstairs in Dianne's bedroom, sorting stuff or something, things that Dianne is going to take back home with her (she's visiting here), and I'm lying on the sofa in the living room, pre-occupied with something, as if I'm watching tv, although I'm not. I can "see" Dianne's second floor bedroom as if I'm in it, and I can see my own first floor bedroom, which is far more "barren" than the cluttered rat-trap it was when I lived in it. [This is a part of the barren/uncluttered difference, but not the whole thing, since I feel that the whole house is like this, especially Dianne's bedroom, which is all but empty of furnishings.] I feel displaced, almost unwelcome (recurrent). I go into the kitchen to get something to eat and Dianne comes downstairs. The Sunday newspaper and a lot of other papers are on the kitchen counter, and Dianne points out a comic in the funnies that I should read. I sit down at the dining room table to read it, but when I open the paper again, I have a hard time finding it. I locate it several times, but then lose it again as I turn pages. Finally, I locate and lock onto it, but, as I read, I can't seem to keep my place and have a hard time understanding the words and their context. As I'm trying to read, I realize that I have to get ready and go to work, even though I haven't been there (recurrent downtown circuit shop dream workplace) for over a week. I left on vacation without telling anyone I wouldn't be in, and wonder if I still have a job. I knew when Dianne first showed me the comic that it was somehow important, but I can't determine what its importance is, and I never get through it because Mom comes into the room and interrupts me by asking if she should throw out a huge pile of credit card and other receipts (each of which contains a white and pink copy). I say, emphatically, no, they're from our vacation. It seems that we've just returned from a vacation to southern PA and northern WVA [which was a dream I had about a year ago, but with db and none of the family. Interesting that a dream I had should reference a previous dream instead of "reality"], and the receipts are a form of documentation of that trip (like photos would be); and, in addition, they are the evidence we need to make sure we were not ripped off on the various purchases and expenses. I get up and go to the other side of the table, gather up the recipts, fold the section of comics around them, and put them into the inner vest pocket of my jacket (where they would not at all fit in reality). Jim shows up and everyone is leaving, going down to the fire hall where some event is taking place. I don't want to go. Jim leaves first, then Mom, whose car is the only one left in the driveway. I wonder how I am going to get anywhere without a car, and then I remember that it was my car that we took on vacation, where, in southern PA, it broke down and Mom bought the old red subcompact junker pickup truck that she's pulling out of the driveway in, as it sputters and rattles loudly. I complain to her that, as a result of my service to the family (having used my car for the trip), I now have no transportation. Mom tells me not to worry, that she'll buy me another car. As she leaves, her promise rings untrue and I feel abandoned. I go up and sit on the porch. Dianne has not yet left. She tries to console me, but I will not be consoled. Instead, I get my lunch, which Dianne (?) packed for me, a paper bag stuffed full with food from the kitchen counter, food that I had earlier been preparing, and I try to add a few more items into the bag, all of the few things I have remaining in the house that are of importance to me, including the receipts and comics. But everything won't fit into the bag, so I go and get a small gym bag and am barely able to stuff everything into it. I'm planning to walk home (to 640), which Dianne gleans and offers to drive me; but I decline. Beth has showed up and the two of them stand in front of me as I sit on the porch preparing to leave, trying to do the best that they can to make me feel better; but they do not succeed. I am morose and non-communicative.

I awaken feeling a peak of anxiety and dread (and also with a severe pain in the middle of my back, which has been building for almost a week and is now acute). I recognize the sullen, sulking attitude of the dream as being an Asperger's symptom that I frequently in my youth succumbed to, which caused me social problems as I went off alone, eschewing social engagements. I also recognize the parallels and discrepancies between the dream and my reality: no car (the uninspected twenty-five year old car that I now drive is, in fact, my Mom's old car that I inherited when she died; so she did in fact, keep her promise--though the dream promise was made long after the gift, which is the "magic" of dreams); my fears of abandonment, despite the caring attitude that people showed toward me when I got into this mood--in fact, the abandonment is caused by my refusal to accept anyone's concern and help; the anxiety that I feel at planning to walk home, because this dream place is no longer my "home"; the few possessions that I have remaining, so few that I can carry them in a small gym bag, symbolized by the "barren" house and contrasted against the many, overwhelming, hoarded possessions I now have packed into my current home; and the comics, which I recognize as a symbol for my fantasies, into which, although they are elaborate and complex, I have no significant insight as to their true nature.

I live, I think, in a fantasy world, which corresponds only marginally with the real world. I map my fantasies onto the real world, but they've become unstuck in both time and space. I'm continually trying to turn them into reality, which is ultimately an impossible task, except via writing, which I have not been very successful at, except via this journal. (I'd like to turn them into novels, or at least books, but they never seem to fit.) I consider this mapping a reverse parallel to the way I mapped the real world onto my own mind when I was young, thereby enabling my ability to manipulate it in fantasy when the real world was all but unmanipulatable. Living inside my self-manipulatable head is a far more satisfying preoccupation than living in a rigidly constructed real world that is far more complex and dangerous than the one I unwittingly mapped onto my brain when I was too young to understand how the world really was. The discrepancy between who I am and what I "want" to be occasionally jumps out at me and disillusions me, because I've internalized (however poorly) social ideals and/or role models and unconsciously continue to be influenced by them; e.g., how I could (if only I did not have a social interaction handicap) schmooze people and easily pick up women (not necessarily two different sets of skills, although they can be). I can do these kinds of things, I thoroughly trained myself in this regard; but it's never easy, it requires a lot of dedicated and strained attention and application, hardly worthy of a "schmooze' label. So I tend to live within my fantasies instead and wait for the world and women to come to me, which they do, especially the women--although, human instinct being what it is, that is no way to form a lasting relationship.

But can I really be criticized for living in a fantasy world? Sitting for two hours fantasizing is no different than watching a movie or some mindless tv. And some people will sit for six or eight hours at a stretch, even longer, days even, watching tv and/or dvds. And, anyway, people fantasize all the time, within their own lives: they take vacations to get away from their stressful, boring, everyday lives, which is the ultimate form of fantasy, to be somewhere else; rabid sports fanatics who would be down on the field if only they measured up; young ladies (and even a few older ones) who are waiting for their Prince Charming and passing on real life opportunities because they do not conform closely enough to the ideal; housewives shut off from their families inside the oblivion of a romance novel; people living very "real" lives who've modeled their careers after some personal hero or celebrity, thereby "living the fantasy"; and what about celebrities themselves, if that's not a fantasy life, then I don't know what is. (And maybe I don't, maybe I'm too lost to effectively know the difference between reality and fantasy; but I don't think so.) I mean, I don't always live in a fantasy world--unless you consider some of the above ways that I live like the "normal" people do: In a sense, I'm on a continual vacation, which has become my lifestyle, so that I feel I must take a vacation from it, which I do right here at home, via fantasy; I admire (some) celebrities and often try to emulate them (still; you'd think that I'd want to finally grow up); I get lost in books (but "good" ones, not romance novels); I'm still looking for my Princess Charming (and I find her every once in a while and manage to keep her for the short time it takes her to morph into a fugly witch); but I am definitely not a sports fan, at least that's one area of the real world I've managed to preserve intact: if I can't actually participate in athletics, I'm no longer interested. At one time, long ago, I imagined I might become a professional athlete; but I grew up. Next fantasy please.

welcome to the twilight zone

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend or a meaningful day.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet
Most of my friends have passed away; and, by that, I do not (necessarily) mean that they have died. They pass out of my awareness. I never notice it; and then one day, years later, I think about them and realize they're gone. And even when I'm aware that they're in the process of leaving, I pay little attention. This is the way I am:

I accept life as it is and only complain, when I do, abstractly; in theory, so to speak. If they want to leave, let them leave; but it's not that conscious a process. Life goes on, preoccupied, within my mind, thinking hundreds of things, hardly noticing the present moment, until it is too late. Today, it's too late. Today, I am aware. For a moment.

I exist (like most people, I suppose) in that vast gray area between having way too much that I want to get done and wanting to do nothing at all. At any specific moment, if given the choice (and whose choice is it, really?), everything else being equal, I would choose to do nothing. But life demands action, at least much of the time.

There's always something "out there" that has to be done, something looming in the near future or farther out away; and, when there isn't, then, sometimes, I get bored, the opposite extreme. And in between lies the idyllic peace of slow and steady progress of my plans and goals; or, even, perhaps, when the time is right, marathon sessions of rapid progress.

This is the problem: I have too much to do--always; but right now, with the cold weather approaching, I have a list of twenty-two items that I must get done before the outside world is put to rest for another year. And I just don't want to do them. Yet, simply, one relatively small item per day for twenty-two days would accomplish the goal.

Yesterday, the first day of the rest of my autumn, I was right on schedule: I trimmed the pine yard hedges; item #1 one done. Today (it's now nine p.m. and dark outside), I did nothing from the list. (Although I managed to get three more asparagus planted, that's not on the list.) The list has some wiggle room, though, but it's getting smaller.

At four p.m., production time/motive beginning to wane and the list weighing on my mind, I evoked my usual defense mechanism and took a four hour nap. And, now, unable to work outside, I turn to my second favorite defense, writing. which is what I want to do, most of the time, when I want to do anything at all. That other stuff can just wait.

And I have a different kind of list: accomplish one thing per day and document it, so that you have a record of what you've accomplished. I've tried to do this before, many times, only to abandon it as a futile exercise. But I keep forgetting that what's important is not the list that's generated, but the activity that the items on it represent. The list provides a motivating mechanism to do them (so that they can be listed) and is the evidence that they were done, but it is in and of itself worthless. (If there are multiple things accomplished, I include only the most significant one and/or the one that is least maintenance, most advancement; or, at worst, as many as will fit on one line of computer text). Here's the list from August, begun mid-month:

8-16 harvested much of the remaining Cascade hops
8-17 tarps on shed roof, pt 1
8-18 tarps on shed roof, pt 2
8-23 harvested much of the remaining misc. hops
8-24 put up bamboo blind on front porch
9-9 I just knew I'd end up abandoning this list.
Start again (on the first day of autumn):
[It was a sincere idea; but it never happened.]

And yet another (kind of) list:

Walking up to the store (or anywhere) is:

And another:

The disadvantages, yet advantages, of:

I'm fallin' down a spiral, destination unknown.

Lists are spirals. The only question is, Which way are they spiraling? Welcome to the twilight zone, where day is night and night is day and none of them is your friend, where all of your friends have disappeared, where nothing is as it seems and everything they tell you is a lie:

more polemics

Nothing is ever what it seems to be. There's always something different going on beneath the surface. For example, Republicans don't raise taxes. They inflate the dollar instead. That way, you can't see how they're ripping you off and giving your money to the corporate machine. Wake up, sheeple. Stop believing what they tell you. It's all one big orchestrated lie. (And don't believe the Democrats either. They have a different, more humane set of lies that they tell you.)

Republicans build up a deficit, which begins to negatively affect the economy. The populace then gets fed up with the bad economy and with the corruption in office (that Republicans always seem to be so much better at than their political rivals) and they vote in the Democrats, whom the Republicans then blame for raising taxes to fix the problems that Republicans caused with their deficit spending and their penchant for allowing business interests to run wild and rape consumers, devastate the economic landscape, and create situations that ultimately come back to haunt those of their bunch, the scapegoats, who did not foresee the coming storm; and, meanwhile, the smart ones who knew how to protect themselves have already pocketed their ill-gotten gains. The Democrats put an end to all of these shenanigans; but they go too far, using the real necessity of raising taxes to straighten out the Republican created mess for their silly help-the-helpless games.

[You can't help the helpless. If you could, then they wouldn't be helpless in the first place. They're not going to use any money you throw at them to better themselves. They're going to waste it. That's why they're in the situations they're in. (There are exceptions. I'm not totally devoid of sympathy.) Never give poor people money. Give them food to keep them from starving? Sure. Give them shelter to keep them from freezing to death? Absolutely. But don't give them money to buy food or pay rents or mortgages. As likely as not, they're not going to use it for that purpose. And don't give them food stamps; they'll sell them to buy booze, cigarettes, and drugs. You can't even give them food to cook. They'll sell that too. The best you can do for them is to set up shelters and food kitchens. Yes, this is a harsh attitude, and often does not reflect the reality of the situation. Some significant percentage of the poor will act responsibly and use the money for its intended purpose. But enough will not that it becomes a counterproductive practice. Well-monitored public works and, especially, education programs are probably the best return-on-investment actions.]

So, next, the people get fed up with seeing the waste that a Democratic government generates and they elect what they erroneously believe to be a more fiscally responsible Republican government and the whole deceitful process starts over again. What we need is some tough and rigid policies that prevent the government from a) spending money it does not have and b) giving money away to the poor and the rich. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the government shouldn't be giving any money away, to anyone. That should be against the law; it should be unconstitutional. Pay the expenses (which should be kept as minimal as possible) and give the excess money back--to the people, in proportion to the taxes they paid in, and not to the corporations that didn't pay any taxes in the first place.

[I'd say that we should have a flat-rate tax on individuals only with absolutely no deductions, for anything. You got ten kids? Hey, you made 'em. Deal with it. But the rich people will never agree to that without some loophole that allows them to enjoy their relatively tax-free haven. And without the support of the rich, nothing ever gets done, in any country. Why can't I live in Ireland, where Republican is a good word? Well, I guess there's some debate about that too; just like here. But at least there it retains its original meaning. I'd better shut up now, or people might get the idea that I really don't know what I'm talking about (like all of the other people who blather about in blogs).]

Here's some more stuff that I may not know as much about as I think I do:

It's almost hard to wrap your head around the fact that seven years into this century, more Americans than not have either no Internet access at all or are still stuck on dial-up... It seems like so long ago that the buzzword was the 'information super-highway,' but much of America is still bouncing down a country lane. That is just unacceptable.
John Kerry
Okay, dude. So answer me this: When we finally get "universal" broadband, and are no longer "stuck" on dial-up, are the ISPs going to lower their rates to ones comparable to dial-up today? The correct answer is: No! All this endeavor will end up doing is driving dial-up ISPs out of business and raising internet costs for those of us who are frugal and want internet access without spending the few discretionary funds we can manage on massive cable bills. This "plan" sounds more to me like a corporate lobbying effort than it does a populist uprising. If you really want to help "us," get us broadband access at current dial-up rates. I'm fed up with Kerry pretending to be a populist when he's every bit as elitist and lobbied as the conservatives are.

Broadband Crisis Cripples Small Businesses

In testimony before the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott called on lawmakers to confront the lack of broadband competition that is hurting America's small businesses in the global marketplace.
This is the real reason why "they" want universal broadband access, so that they can reach out into the sticks and sell more crap to people who don't live in high population areas where lots more people have high-speed access. It's a spurious argument, though. I live in a high population area and I buy lots of things over the internet via dial-up. How is lack of broadband hurting business? And, if you're arguing that dial-up costs are higher in rural areas because phone rates are more expensive for limited access and lack of one-cost pricing, then do something about phone access first before you start dealing with high speed internet access. (Of course, you can do both at the same time, if you have internet phone companies; but who wants to hook up with a company like Vonage that might be out of business in a year or two?)

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 8:44 AM PDT
WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate has attached hate crimes legislation to a massive Pentagon spending bill.
Yahoo! Alerts
I hate hate crimes legislation, as if it's worse if you murder someone because you hate them than if you murder them for, say, their money. Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably worse if you murder them for their money. Instead of hate crime legislation, we should have money crime legislation. But, of course, we never will, because money is our god. What we do in the name of money is just all right with the powers that be, even if we murder for it. "Oh, he killed that guy for his money! Well, okay then." They understand that kind of shit. It's right up their (Wall Street) alley.

On the other hand, attaching hate crime legislation to a Pentagon spending bill is, maybe, a way that the Senate is jacking Bush off, which I wholeheartedly approve of. I don't know if Bush or conservatives in general are against hate crime legislation, but I can imagine that they are, such as when the macho bullies go out looking for gays to bash. "Oh, he killed that guy because he was gay! Well, okay then." They understand that kind of shit. It's right up their (back door) alley.

The Jena 6 and the Media

Many people of color are tired of big media ignoring their concerns, distorting their contributions to society and caricaturing them as individuals. One reason is the lack of minority media ownership.
Michael J. Copps, Washington Post
This is probably quite true, but aren't people of color doing the same damn thing when they characterize big media in the way they do. I mean, just designating it as a system of entities that are opposed to minority media ownership "caricatures" them as non-minority, which is just another way of saying "white," thereby lumping them into a stereotypical class that disregards their individual differences. Maybe this is not so profound a caricature as that which the "white" media engages in; but it is stereotyping nonetheless. (When we criticize, in one way or another, we always criticize ourselves.)

All this societal analysis is wearing me out. I really don't want to think about it; but I do. I really wish I could confine my mental activity to (my own) art.

a matter of attitude

(Today) I want to be an artist, as well as a writer (but a writer is an artist). What I mean is that I want to manipulate materials texturally; as opposed to textually, that is. They're both the same thing really; but they're different. And, anyway, the non-artistic aspects of my existence are affected when I choose a different medium to work in: When I write, I stay at home, content just to have written; but when I paint, I free myself to go out afterwards--or sometimes before; but if I go out before, there's no guarantee that I'll come back home and work, and then, I'm not an artist--because it's a matter of definition: I am what I do. Am I a writer or an artist today? Or what? Perhaps (most likely) I'll go walking, up to the shopping center to buy a few things, always with the idea in mind that "Here I am, the artist out walking, freed temporarily from his obsessive arting nature." Okay, so far.

But, for at least the last several months, and to a lesser extent since the advent of spring, I've been suffering from a self-definition deficit (SDD): It all started with the near-concurrence of two decisions: deciding to re-enter the stock market, which focused my time back into a money/business attitude and away from artistic creativity; and a renewed effort to develop my "gardens vision," which could be an art--I call it an art--but which, in more practical terms, feels more like a burden. (Art can never be a burden, because it is then not freeing and so restricts creativity). Gardening exacts "demands," for watering, planting, cultivating, and harvesting and preserving, that must be accomplished on a more or less rigid schedule, thereby leaving me "commitment-bound" to it. There's little I can do about the investment attitude, short of closing my trading account and buying CDs or saving bonds; but I can, if I will, do something about the garden art:

A simple, one-thing-per-day methodology would solve the problem by focusing my time into a short hour or so in the afternoon: water (that part's easy); cultivate (by which I mean carry around a pair of cutters and remove excess growth and--this is the bugaboo--whack the weeds or trim a small part of the hedges, in one small area, on a rotational basis); plant (this can be difficult, at times; but typically all I need do is put one plant or batch of seeds into the ground somewhere; one plant or batch of seeds per day accomplished a whole lot over the spring and summer); harvesting (easy) and preserving (not so easy, but I can reduce its necessity by eating most of the produce before it goes bad). Now, all I have to do is do it. Think I will?

That's all motivation for next year, except that I have to catch up the garden maintenance before the freeze sets in, because the yards are way overgrown. If only I could just manage that one area trimmed per day thing, I think my plans would go just fine and I would end up with the garden vision I so desire. I have to start thinking of this activity as art and not as garden chores: I'm morphing (a la sculpting) a (partially; some of the vision involves concrete and wood work) living entity, my property, into a growing, ever-changing work of art; and I'm doing it, if and when I will, primarily via planting and trimming, the daily "chore" (I've absolutely got to stop thinking of it in that way and start thinking of it in terms of the art I'm creating) being the artistic process, the sculpting of living tissue into the never-finished, evolving work of art.

I like it when I have no definite commitments ahead and can freewheel through a haze of days; I hate it when there is some definite date looming out there when I have to do something or by which I must get something done. Now, it's the fall clean-up prep-for-winter list that bugs me: I don't want to do these things; and I hate this attitude I have toward my self-imposed chores. I wouldn't mind them at all if I could do them whenever I felt like it (with the attitude I have toward my piles of projects inside where no one can see what a disorganized slob I am; art is more a matter of appearance than reality); but if I have to do them, and soon, before the cold weather, I hate it.

I can make this same kind of case for the various projects I have lined up inside that I've been avoiding. In a way, some of them are somewhat artistic in nature, a bit less so than fine or practical art, but they nevertheless involve the tactile reward I derive from art per se. This would be a slightly different mode of existence, adding yet another dimension to my confusing "artistic" identity that I sometimes struggle so hard to hang onto. But I'll ignore this mode for the time being, I think, at least until I can regain a handhold on the writing, arting, and/or gardening aspects.

intimate contact

Staring, still and Tess found herself stepping farther back, as if she would hide, get lost in the crown and another big explosion, brighter burn and staring like a deer in headlights as Bibi saw her, too. Shining, they called that; it was against the law. Because the deer was helpless, then, helpless and blind and she wanted to leave, right then, slip into the dark anonymous...
Kathe Koja, Skin
If, as I wrote earlier, nothing is ever what it seems and everything they tell you is a lie, then why bother? Society, for me, has always seemed to be a waste of time, except to provide me with material resources, which is forever what it's been about anyway.

But people, as difficult as they may be (society is not really difficult; there is no such thing as society, only people), can also be a source of inspiration and wonderment--especially women; but, then, I am biased in that direction. To me, women shine.

'Shining' is a descriptor for paranormal experience, for which Koja's quote above is an excellent metaphor (unless she was using a second-degree metaphor and really meant it the way I am using it here, which is entirely possible). It's a borrowed term that in its common usage describes more of an ordinary physical experience. There is a link here, however: When you "see" that extra "something" in a person's stare that suggests that they "know" you in a way more intimate than seems possible from a distance, a meeting of souls, a spiritual communion of sorts, it tends to freeze you in place, partly because you are overwhelmed, and partly because a part of you doesn't want the experience to end.

I realize, now, that I've been working all my life at de-socializing myself, unconsciously purposefully, so that I can appreciate, understand, and develop this kind of contact; and finally with some success, because all of that attempted socialization and subsequent self-socialization just left me a confused and confusing mess, because, rather than freeing people to advance toward some higher form of existence (which is my ideal), it locks them into standardized ways of thought and action.

Without really knowing it, I've gradually been giving up on society, until I've gotten to this point in my life where the anti-agenda is starting to take hold. I will not, of course, ever completely succeed; there are so few psychic Jeremiah Johnson's in the world. But it's nice to see how far I've come, how I've disentangled myself from the most predominant of the complexities that keep us within the realm of social illusion. (I prefer my own, independent illusory practices, thank you.)

Despite (or in addition to) my search for meta-union, I want to "slip into the dark anonymous"; or, at least, to have that option always available, just in case what? In case somebody hurts me. Oh, I'm such a wuss. But I'm never hurt enough by intimate contact to want to break it off, I'm tough in that regard. It's that other kind of contact, the shallow "sociable" kind, that drives me, disgusted, into isolated oblivion. (It's not really oblivion if you're content to be where you are, is it?)

There's a realm of (my) existence that I would drag an intimate other into, if only to make them understand me more completely, if only they could, like I can when I will allow myself to be dragged into another's realm, get past that hurt that too proximate difference always generates. Though it's a psychic and not so physical proximity (women like to confuse the two; men tend not to know the difference), it can drive others away. It's (sort of) like electromagnetic energy in its "psychic" nature:

...this wavy line is a mathematical device onlyit has little in common with the physical "reality" [of EMF photons] that lies beyond the reach of our senses.
Jean Textereau, How To Make A Telescope
Then what is the actual physical reality? Well, first of all, unless I am completely missing the spaceship here, it exists, not within two, but within (at least) three dimensions (at least four, if you consider time to be a dimension, which is a dubious proposition to my mind). The nature of the EMF is something I puzzled over a few years ago, but then let it slide; my notes and graphics on this subject are still on my clipboard, buried in the back pages, awaiting processing. Maybe the time has finally come to delve into this "mystery" as deeply as I can get. Some kind of correspondence exists between the psychic (i.e., the effective psychological activity of the mind) and the physical, except that (perhaps) additional dimensions are involved. Thus the study continues:

Einstein's basic insight in his theory of relativity didn't require a degree in physics to attain. I'm sure his education benefitted him in this regard; but any intelligent person, given enough conjecture time, could have come up with Einstein's breakthrough. True, not just anyone could have framed the insight in modern scientific terms, but it could have been done, even ages ago; and perhaps it had been.

The same kind of thing can be done with any number of mysteries that exist today, or even with any number of phenomena that are not mysterious because we know absolutely nothing about them, including their existence. One of these areas of "mystery" is the EMF force. We really don't understand it, though even most scientists believe that we do. This is not radical thinking, this is the case with all science. No matter what we (think we) know, there is always a whole lot more.

So, trying to understand what it is about the "physical reality" of the EMF (for example) that we don't really understand can be a fertile area of imagination that could lead to an Einstein-like breakthrough. But I'm not up to the discipline right now. I'll save it all for another, more focused time. Instead, my thoughts (want to) turn to love, which has been weighing on me lately as memories flood my seeping brain like dreams of alien abduction:

alien invader

I'm in a place I do not know, imageless, neither dark nor light. [I wonder. Is this oblivion?] I got here, I know, because my brother brought me [before the start of the dream]; but then he left me here alone. [I've been abducted? By psychic transference?] As I look around, trying to find a way back home, I realize that I might be able to "create" things out of a "fog" that I imagine into existence in front of me. I try to create shapes that I intend to form into solid objects, to build a reality. But I can't do it. I can make vague shapes in the fog, but I can't form "real" objects out of them. I start to get scared, thinking I might be stuck here forever.

I awaken with the understanding that people "dump" their problems on me and go merrily on their way, "oblivious" to how I subsequently suffer as I try to straighten out in my mind what my interaction with them has produced. They "transfer" psychic content to me (apparently; or else I unwittingly take on their problems via empathy) and I have to spend some amount of time figuring out what's going on before I can go on my merry way as my old, far more carefree (irresponsible) self.

It occurs to me [again; this same thing occurs to me relatively frequently] that people do not see me for what I am, and not only because I go to a lot of trouble to hide who I am. Not only do they not (seem to) recognize how I "take on" their quirky psychologies for a while until I can manage to purge them from my psyche, but they seem to be oblivious to the fact that they construct my reality in their own minds and attribute to me all kinds of things that I am not. And then, they turn around and treat me as if I really am like they have contructed me in their own minds to be; and, if I ever object, they say (in effect), "Oh, no. That's not the way you are. You're like this..." as if they just know, as if they wrote out on paper a description of exactly who (they think) I am and then offered it as proof that I am like this, because it's right there on the paper in front of me.

And people will sometimes do this using my own (past) words, quoting me, often incorrectly, having misinterpreted something I said or sometimes accurately quoting me but either using the quote out of context or (and this is my own damn fault) taking literally something I said either sarcastically, or in a fit of exaggeration to make a point, or, as I will sometimes do, as a kind of role-play "act" where I will pretend (mostly to myself) to be another person whose opinions are different from my own real ones, just, again, to either make a point, perhaps to demonstrate to others how absurd their own opinions are, or to mock them without them knowing it (which, when I do this, I fully intend to correct the mis-impression I create, but I most often get sidetracked and forget about it, human conversation being the distracting process that it is).

In these ways, people will take my words and twist them around (when I'm not twisting them around myself) to mean things I never intended and often never even said. (A lot of the time my spoken words depart from standard meaning and so are subject to easy misinterpretation and misappropriation toward ends other than my own.) In short, others blame me for that which they themselves think (and often deny).

Is my perception of this problem in my life (others attributing their critical ideas to me and blaming me for them) an Asperger's symptom? Maybe, in that I often demur in my counter-opinions out of a sense of compliance, or passive aggressiveness, or mere standoffishness (these non-activities could all be the same thing, at least some of the time), thus allowing others to assume I am in agreement, when I am not, but only failing to act in a "sociable" manner.

Recording of a phone call:

"Why are you mad at him?"
"I'm not mad at him. Why would I be mad at him?"
"Because he's mad at you."
"Why would I get mad at someone because they're mad at me?"
"Because that's what people do."
"Do they? Not me."
"Well, he thinks you're mad at him."
"Let him think what he wants. He's a big boy now."
"Well, you're something at him."
"What do you mean?"
"You wouldn't help him out."
"I couldn't. I'm worried about hurting my back again."
"You should tell him that."
"If he doesn't understand that, by now..."
"He doesn't."
"..then that's too bad."
"You should make him understand."
"It'd only cause a fight."
"So? He's really pissed off. It can't get any worse."
"Oh yes it can."
"Just talk to him and let him know you're not mad."
"No. He'll just find another excuse."
"He thinks you hate him."
"I don't care. He's the one who has to live with his thoughts."
"He's not the only one. I have to live with them too."

Misinterpretation dominates my life, my own sometimes, maybe, but others most often. I makes me wonder if, maybe, disguised from my own self, I am the alien invader. Re-reading this, I get the feeling that I haven't made my point (except for feeling like an alien part). I mean, not convincing others of what I really am in conversational interaction is one thing; but not making my point in writing is a whole other ball game. It makes me feel even more like an alien. I intended to write about how love was an alien adventure, but I give up. Maybe I'll do better next month.

Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
1. Oops. Maybe I spoke wrote too soon:

NASA probe may have found Martian caves

Fri, 21 Sep 2007 08:04 pm PDT
AFP - A NASA spacecraft found seven possible cave entrances on Mars, triggering interest in hunting for other caverns that might be hiding life on the Red Planet, the US space agency said Friday.
Yahoo News e-mail
luminal (or lumenal): 1. luminous flux unit - a measure of luminous flux [i.e., light] per unit area 2. a cavity or passage in a tubular organ; "the lumen of the intestine" bodily cavity, cavum, cavity - (anatomy) a natural hollow or sinus within the body 3. Luminal - a long-acting barbiturate used as a sedative The Free Dictionary
Therefore, extra-lumenal can mean: 1. a means beyond (the speed of) light; 2. a means that is felt within a body cavity; i.e., a gut feeling, or intuition, or some aspect of communion; 3. a delusion induced via narcotics. These last two definitions need to be further developed textually (i.e., thematically); but I'm feeling too harried to want to do it right now.