by j-a

[main menu] [thoughthistory menu]


November 2007



Leveling

hoarding

I always felt a certain amount of guilt, always well repressed and the behavior that caused it rationalized, until I began to read about people like me who, because of our "condition," acted the same "different" way that I do. Then I began not to expect so much of myself, not to feel that I needed to be like "normal" (neuro-typical) people, that it's okay to act the way I do (hoarding, non-sociable, awkward, etc.), because that's the way I am, not as a result of some character or personality flaw, but as a consequence of the way I was born, a state of existence that I can do very little about; and, even then, at a great expense of energy and with a great deal of stress.

Life has a way of revealing things to do and ways to do them, more easily if you willingly open up your mind, but even occasionally if you do not. One day I'm walking down the street, heading up to the shopping center, and I see a neighbor out ahead unloading things from his car. When I come up to him, he looks at me and acknowledges me with a slight head nod. In my usual practiced, faux-sociable manner, I pleasantly say, "Hi. How ya doin'?" and I walk on. He does not respond, nor do I require it. In fact, better left alone.

This guy is apparently old, somewhat groddy, longish hair uncombed, grunge-type clothes casual and perhaps unwashed, a bit Jewish-looking. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are a bit Jewish-looking. I'm a little bit Jewish-looking myself). He's not the most attractive man in the world; but I've seen a lot worse. I've never actually seen this guy before, but I've known of him for some time; that is, I've known that someone older lived in that house, and my neighbor from across the street has spoken of him, not in any way that I let me know exactly where the guy was from or what he was "up to"; but in a way that I knew, a short while after encountering him, as I considered what I just observed in passing, that he was the man of whom my neighbor spoke.

The guy had been schlepping things to and from his car to the area in front of the retaining wall in front of his house, where he has stored lots of "things," predominantly an old open-type tow-trailer of the variety that landscapers use to haul their equipment in. It is this vehicle that imparts a more or less ordinariness to the rest of the "junk" that the guy has piled up in front of his house: old kitchen chairs (which might be justifiably stored there with the excuse that they are used to save parking spaces in the winter after clearing snow from the street); old, empty five-gallon pails; parking cones; a number of those plastic crates filled with unidentifiable odds and ends; fencing materials (rolled up fence, posts, etc.); and whatever. (Maybe I'll start to take notes as I walk past and update this list into a complete inventory. Or maybe not.)

So, after I've passed by, I look up his driveway toward the back of his lot and--I don't know why I never noticed this before, maybe because it is a little bit closed off by fencing and shrubbery--I see large garbage bags and other containers lining every available space along the fence and house and extending into the backyard, which I can't see into, although I'm left with the impression that it is filled to capacity. And I realize: omg, this guy is a hoarder. And he's far, far worse off than I am. I wonder what the inside of his house looks like. Probably like that lady's house on Oprah, where you could only walk down aisles amid the boxes and bags of junk, even in the bedroom.

This is one of these eureka moments when everything comes together: I've long been aware of my hoarding "instinct" and have worked all my life to limit it through organization and judiciously throwing things away; the neighbor who told me of this guy did so re a problem of his own that he'd been dealing with, because a local building code employee (I suspect not in an "official" capacity but as a favor to the landlord; this is my intuition) had recently had occasion to visit him and threaten to cite him for all of the hoarded materiel he has stashed behind his house, among which are at least fifteen old lawnmowers (he's a landscaper), half of which are piled into a trailer similar to the one the old man down the street has in front of his house, many cabinets and storage shelves, and a lot of other "junk" (I went back there with him while we were talking so that he could demonstrate his dilemma), junk that even I would consider "of value" (I have four non-functional lawnmowers myself; but they are tucked away unseen in my back shed); and, of course, that recent Oprah show about the lady with the shopping addiction. All of it comes together. I understand:

I am nowhere near as bad as my neighbor across the street, nor the old guy down the street, nor, certainly, the woman on Oprah. I keep up a good appearance by keeping my hoarded crap out of sight and fairly well organized (in the sense that like materials are piled in the places where I intend to keep them and not scattered about willy-nilly like these other "offenders"); but I've been noticing a penchant in recent years to disregard my secrecy, especially inside the house where no one ever sees and especially in the summer when my organizing (anxiety defense) motive is lowest and some of my "junk" (gardening supplies, potted plants that could use a bit more care than I give to them, etc.) gets moved outside.

So I think of these examples I've "come across" as an object lesson delivered from that higher source that we like to call "society": get it together or, sooner or later, you're going to end up like the worst of these people. Again, not that there's anything wrong with that; but, society being what it is, a mechanism for the leveling of individual difference, it is best not to tax its patience so much. I'm amazed that the guy down the street has gotten away with what he has, with all of the "stuff" he has piled outside. At least the lady on Oprah had sense enough to maintain a perfect exterior to her home, another object lesson: finish cleaning off that front porch and driveway like you do every fall before the first snow, so that when spring comes you have an empty re-start slate.

if only

When I'm out walking, even though it might be somewhat cold, I warm up nicely; and the feeling lasts a while after I return home. That is so obvious that it's hardly worth mentioning, except as a transition to its opposite state of being. I once read a book by Annie Dillard wherein she described writing in cold weather in an unheated outdoor shed that was a bit of a walk from her home. That's what I feel like while working at my PC in the winter, except that I'm inside my home. It's fifty-five in here today. Yesterday it was sixty. Tolerable, but making me nostalgic for the recent summery weather. I'm putting up with the cold to get a few things done on the internet. Then I'm going to retreat to my warm bedroom to work on the laptop. One of these days, I'm going to manage to rearrange my life/environment to get the internet connection set up in there. And then, except to prepare food, I may never leave the bedroom-bathroom complex until spring, spending the winter writing, surfing the net, and dreaming my life away.

I'm in a group of about thirty people, walking across a natural landscape of rolling grasslands. But we're well aware that we must restrict ourselves to a narrow band of land that is like a road (but is not). The awareness comes from signs in the sky, specifically clouds that part to let sunlight through when we are traveling correctly, but which close up and create a darkened atmosphere when we stray off course. The sky conditions direct us toward a narrow ridge that we ascend onto from its edge where it begins to rise. We walk up the slope and along the top, which is only several feet wide. If we wander too far to the side, we will fall down steep drop-offs (which are, however, not at all cliffs, but steep, though manageable hillsides), indicating, perhaps, that we have the choice of leaving the straight-and-narrow, but to do so would be "incorrect." Eventually, we come to the end of the ridge and can go no farther, so we settle down and wait. I am with db, and most of the people are in couples; but one girl is alone, and so she "pairs" up with db and me. I lean against a tree with a young lady on each side of me, an arm around each, as if I am protecting them; but, in fact, they are protecting me--or maybe I mean "comforting". Sometimes lately, though fairly rarely, I wish that someone would hold me and comfort me like that and tell me that everything is going to be all right; but, usually, I perform that service for myself, though usually only in sleep. In the dream, I'm aware that the girls are like the drop-offs on either side of the narrow ridge (which are off to either side of them and also, now that we are at the very end of the ridge, off to the front of us too). They keep me from drifting too far off course as I drift off into sleep and awaken back in my bedroom, missing the comfortable protection; but not for long:

I'm in my grandmother's living room, on the couch, pretending to be asleep [like we used to do when we'd visit, so that Dad would leave us there so that we could stay over; little did we realize that the purpose of the visit was to drop us off. Dad would say to our grandmother that, since we were sleeping, he might as well leave us there; and after he left, our grandmother would maintain the pretense]. Rita is standing across the room. Two unknown young ladies are in the dining room. The reason I'm pretending to be sleeping is so that I can watch what these two are doing, snuggling up to each other, kissing, rubbing up against each other. At one point, the smaller one says to me that she knows I'm pretending, but I fail to acknowledge her, but only stir slightly, as if I'm really asleep, which kind of convinces and reassures her that I am; so the two continue on with their lovemaking. The larger girl is standing in front of the smaller girl with her back to me, so that I can't see the smaller one; and yet, I can. It's as if her outline is visible through the large girl. I see the outline of her hips, waist, and the way her breasts are splayed out toward her sides, as if that outline is contained within the image of the larger girl. [Hard to describe now, awake.] First, Rita leaves, exiting by the front door; and then the larger girl leaves via the back door. The smaller girl (she is not svelte, but rather squat, though not fat) comes into the room and sits in the chair across from the couch. Knowing I'm not sleeping [but I am, really; and dreaming], she announces that, if I want, I can "fuck her." Now I'm awake. I get up and cross over to her chair and begin; but I realize I have to do something first, and I go outside through the front door; but I'm soon back and inside her. I like her, especially the way she seems to have no expectations of my performance, as if the experience is entirely for my benefit, as if I've done something to deserve it. But as soon as I awaken I wonder if the purpose for her allowing me to have sex with her was merely for her to get pregnant, and that was why she had no expectations of me, not an orgasm nor even any specific "lovemaking" behavior. It was pure sex, which I appreciated. And Rita and the other girl left because they were in on the ruse. If only (my) life really proceeded along the lines of my dreams. In my dreams, I am always unconsciously cool and self-assured, unlike in my waking life when I (feel like I) have to protect a fragile inner self with a consciously constructed, albeit toned-down, bravado: I act as if I am an independent rogue male, incapable of being compromised. Yeah. If only.

get over it

In high school and college, I was a closet nerd. I cultivated a great disguise as a jock and a bad ass, because I was so enamored of both of those cultural roles; but they were not me, really. It was all a huge act, residue of a social survival technique that I continued to use throughout my life, adopting different personas in order, not so much to "fit in" as to appear to excel and be superior; which I became, as a result of the expectation of it that I created in everyone, including myself. It became (or always was) impossible for me to separate out the real me from the role I was playing.

Now, I want to think that I am such a fraud. I was never really any of those things I pretended to be, I want to think. And yet, I am. I am all of those people that I sometimes think I'm not. I just also happen to be people whose identities contradict those other people. And it's often hard to know which one of these people to be at any given time. Social roles do not come easily to me. (Sometimes they do not even come at all.)

Still, there are the veneers of disguise that I use to keep people at a distance and that I often fall into the trap of, mistaking them for what I really am. They serve their various purposes; but I am not, for example, this tough guy I pretend to be. I am weak and pretending to be strong (compensating; and I can be quite strong mentally, sometimes--I have to be, to endure the continual perceptual changes; although I can, at other times, when I am alone, melt into a puddle of slush--but not for long, when I will rise up out of it to face, albeit with a great deal of trepidation and anxiety, the predicaments I unwittingly get myself into). It's so difficult living up (or down) to the legends I create for myself, or those that society creates for me whether I like it or not, when it responds to the way that I respond to it.

I can feel so lost and abandoned (although I know that I create this condition myself--although I know I do so because of the disability). During optimistic (manic) modes, I take on too much (i.e., personal projects; I no longer take on social ones, and that helps out a lot); and then, during pessimistic (depressive?) modes, I angst over how I will ever manage to cope with all of the details and paraphernalia I've created and assembled. There's never any organized, calm, and peaceful middle ground; or, at least, not for any significant length of time. I've got to learn how to live closer to the mean.

[Manic mode is an autistic symptom, just like anxiety (a counter-manic state), wherein fear is analogous to a manic "tantrum" reaction. In fact, in the full-blown autistic, mania can look like a tantrum. And the middle ground is so elusive as to be all but impossible to maintain.]

Society values the mean. We who tend to go off the deep end or get out of the pool altgether are not looked at too kindly by them what thinks they rule the world. They have their sense of right and wrong and you goddam better conform to it. But morality is never black and white, there are many shades that determine it. All "sides" have fragments of "right" and "wrong" blended together into an amalgam of a position that makes it impossible, if you approach the issue(s) objectively, to take sides. It is only when you adopt a "political" position that you (subjectively) align yourself with one side or the other (or the other, or the other).

Take the favorite conservative issue of "family values" for example. The very name is a code phrase that means "our right-wing way of living," as if everyone's family and the values encompassed are the same, as if, if you have a family and it is living correctly, you belong to this one all-encompassing group that agrees on a "proper" way to live, by one set of standards, which includes stereosexual sex, in bed, at night (and never on the kitchen table or in the garage), and...oh, I'm not going to list a lot of examples. You can make up your own, I'm sure.

And then there's the problem of "hate speech" that's been in the news so many times over the past few years. There's a fine line between "hate speech" and prejudicial action that leads to discriminatory behavior. Some people--those who would benefit from there being no line--maintain that there is none. And, in a sense, it's true that hate speech is discriminatory behavior. This is yet another issue where I can see and understand more than one side: Hate speech can be a form of free expression, a matter of free speech, which, when thwarted, can be as much a violation of civil rights as is prejudicial action. The point where speech causes discrimination is not as clear-cut as shouting fire in a crowded theater. Imus and Dog did not infringe on anyone's civil rights. (As far as I know, there is no law against belittling or demeaning people, except as defined as libel and slander.) But their "victims" may have infringed on the civil rights of Imus and Dog. Or, at least, their employers might have. (Add James Watson in here somewhere too.) To deprive employees of their livelihood solely for the fucked up things they say should be a civil rights issue, if it isn't already one. (And I doubt it is.)

The thin skins that people have re words that "defame" encourage defamers to continue to participate in what amounts to behavior just short of bullying, and even "hate-mongering." Bullies will often stop using tactics when they realize they can't provoke the people they attack (although, in some cases, you may have to go to extremes, such as Gandhi did, to make them realize it). Stop reacting to bullying (or to its unintentional, socially embedded verbiage) and the bigots (and unwitting idiots) will (tend to) no longer do it. Besides, if it hurts you to hear certain words, you should look inside to see why that is. Maybe, just maybe, you have a problem too.

For example, blacks' objections to use of the word "nigger" (especially by whites) is not so much a matter of an offense to them as it is a power play. (You can't blame them for trying; but I'm not buying it.) It's just a fucking word, for Christ's sake. And if any black person is actually sincere in her or his claim that the word hurts them by conjuring up a specter out of the past, all I can say is, "Get over it!" Times have changed. The discrimination that still exists is anachronistic. No one is going to enslave you again (in any way that whites are not enslaved as well; for example, economically). And change in a positive direction is rapidly continuing. Keep up the pressure for that change, for sure; but forget about the words. You're either going to change with the times or you're going to get left behind (like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are being left behind), back with the bigots whom you oppose, locked in a battle you can't free yourself from and that neither side can win. Get over it.

As for my own personal petty demons, it doesn't matter if I am right or wrong about the personal (narrow range social) problems I define. It's not a matter of "morality" (which is a fiction), but of my "political" position. I have my (sense of) correctness, which I live by and which informs my behavior. If I try too hard to see the other side, I become confused and often grind to halt and don't know what to do, how to act, often giving in to others' manipulations and machinations. You've got to drawn the line somewhere, and for me that line often falls where people want me to do things. Many times, I don't want to do things. Many times, I feel so overwhelmed, with issues, and with obligations, and with responsibilities, that I freeze up (a symptom of the disability). It's all too much. I wish I could be the objective person who remains yet still socially intact; but I cannot. I usually end up as one or the other; because society demands that you take a position, and I see too many alternatives to settle on one way.

I do have real worries that I might have to deal with: the pending "legal" problems that I care not to reveal at this time; a "fear" (anxiety) of death (although, maybe not, if modern medical advances finds a cure for it); worries that I may get to the point where I can no longer maintain my house and gardens, and then, oh, what shall I do? But all I can do is to offer the same advice to myself that I give to everyone else: Deal with it and get over yourself. I usually accomplish this by going to bed. Dreaming may not quite qualify as getting over yourself; but it's the next best thing:

missing out

I'm taking a test for a minimal participation college class (three class sessions and lots of reading assignments). The test is an 8x11 booklet about a quarter inch thick with two or three short essay type questions per page. At first, I look forward to taking the test because it will give me an opportunity to express myself in writing; but, as I begin, I discover that it's going to be the most difficult test I've ever taken, because the questions are obtuse. Not only do they not make any sense, but many of the words are misspelled so severely that it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to figure out their meanings. Add to that the fact that all the questions refer to two films (the majority of questions, the first set, refer to a long film and the remainder, a second, shorter set to a short film) and I've seen neither film. (I don't know if I was supposed to have gone and seen the films or if no one in the class saw them.) The films are (about) two women, the first one, M, an older woman I know and am attracted to, and the second a younger woman whom I do not know. I work my way painstakingly through the questions, never knowing exactly what they mean, but getting the sense of them by contemplating the nature of (my attraction to) the woman in question. I employ a wide variety of tactics in my attempt to understand, including imagining how I would feel if I were, for example, touching them, running my hand across their bare backs, giving them massages, making love to them, talking to them, questioning them.

It occurs to me that the art of questioning people (women, in particular) in order to get to know them (or anyone, more generally, such as when interviewing them) is as much about letting them know you as it is asking the right questions to discover who they are. Instead, I tend to see this as an either/or process, when in fact both (should) occur at the same time. It's more of a global kind of "understanding" than it is an objective list of questions and answers (more my kind of mentality), which are little more than an excuse to interact.

Interacting, in fact, is what I find most difficult. I can ask questions, if I prepare and memorize them ahead of time; but this never seems to work out so well, for obvious reasons. People don't like, even in formal interviews, to be put on the spot like that. They prefer more to engage in conversation, so good interviewers (and seducers) disguise their process in that way. (Thus the concept of 'chatting them up'.)

The other problem I have in this area, the other side of the either/or problem above, is that I feel like I have to "inform" people (prospective intimate relationship partners in particular) as to who and what I am, that I can't leave that process to chance, when that's exactly what the whole mess is about, the discovery of each others' natures in an experiential way. I always feel like it's such a waste of time to go through the motions of getting together and spending time with people only to learn later that it's not working out, while most people see that process as the whole point. I'm looking toward the end result, the match-up, whereas they're looking at the unfolding relationship. I want to get there, whereas they, during the introductory and subsequent information exchange and developing mutual awareness, are there already.

This is why I don't like small talk. Well, it's not why I don't like it; that's a function of my disability. But I've either learned early on or felt innately that it's a lot of wasted time. I jump right to the (psychological) intimacy, and if people don't like it, well, too bad. Run away, then, cowards. There are enough people around who will not. It's my way of separating the wheat from the chaff. But it's really a defense mechanism: I'm weak at social interaction, especially during the introductory phase, so I skip right past it. And once I'm "into" it, I'm okay. This is also why I prefer people to approach me while I demur and "wait" for them to make all the moves, when I can accept or reject them, as I wish, or feel.

But, being this way, I miss out on a whole lot. And a large part of that lot are people who, like me, prefer, for whatever reason, "shyness" (a mislabel) or whatever, to hang back like I do. These are the people, I think, whom I should know and associate with, and those other "approaching" (manipulative) bastards and bitches, the ones whom I seem to "gravitate" toward (I don't, really, at least no longer; I actually have learned to stay very wary of them) are the ones I should be avoiding altogether.

So, I need a new strategy, a plan or program, a set of new skills, that will get me into touch with the people that I feel I should be associating with. I've been aware of this for a while now; but I've been approaching the task set in the wrong way: I've been thinking that I need to develop "scripts" that will serve as "introduction mechanisms," that will allow me to "get to know" people and allow them to get to know me (two different sets of scripts), when what I need is not a script at all, but an awareness of and acclimation to the ongoing process, which is exactly what I lack, the ability to engage in the process of interaction. It seems like a "can't get there from here" phenomenon. How do you do it if you (congenitally perhaps) lack the ability to do it? The only way I know is to mimic it, via a procedural "script" whereby questions and answers are memorized. It's perhaps not a terribly bad way to go, since I can rather quickly get to where I want to be by "intuitive" means. But when I've tried it in the past, it's always been too awkward and, stumbling, I've short-circuited my intuitive ability by getting in my own way and shutting down and retreating; so I've given up on it.

I think this dream is telling me that human interaction is like a complicated essay test where the questions are not so understandable. I need to work at it (when others, maybe, find it a lot easier). The dream is proposing a "therapeutic" process: answering questions (which I'm normally very good at, especially when they're written) is like asking them of others, each test booklet being like a person, which, as I answer, at the same time, I "investigate" the nature of the "woman" who is the test.

Simple interaction, done on a routine basis, provides a background of people out of which those whom you are supposed to relate to will emerge. (This is old stuff. I've known of and practiced this kind of thing for a long time a while ago; but I've all but let my practice lapse, and I feel so rusty at it. For most people, I'm sure it's like learning to ride a bike; but I have a balance problem and must do it frequently in order to retain the skill set.) I need two sets of scripts, I want to think; but maybe not. What I really need, I surmise, is a set of questions that I ask myself. What is relevant to me is what I should be asking others, what I would have them ask me. The proper interaction mindset is established by asking others what you would have them know of you, never volunteering your own information unless they actually ask for it, lest you come off as agenda-ridden. [My brother-in-law, engages people in conversation by asking "relevant" questions, only to turn around, after allowing as short of a "reasonable" time as possible, and provide his own answer to his question. He asks the questions in order to create an opportunity to answer them himself, interrupting others answers as soon as possible. Don't do this!] Scripts, if they are used at all (just preparing questions ahead of time and then letting them occur to you or not in the moment is probably a better way), should be of such a subtle construction as to remain completely hidden.

Maybe, if I develop the ability to do this kind of (self) "testing" in a routine way, I can use the process to get past that awkwardness quickly enough so that it goes unnoticed; and then, maybe, I can meet and "get to know" the kinds of people who now elude me--for the same reasons that I elude them. (Those people, I hypothesize, are--or will be, when I develop this method--less sure of themselves than I am; and I will be in the better position to approach them.) It's a plan. Well, not quite yet; but it will be. Give me a little bit of time to think about it some more. Oh, yeah. What else is new?

The Steps of Dr. Caligari

I exist among society quite easily when I'm not expected to interrelate; but when I feel so compelled, things can get awkward. Not so, however, among life forms that do not (need to) talk. I'm lying in bed thinking about how this all works while three five-gallon carboys of fermenting beer bubble beside the bed, sounding like gurgling living entities that occupy the room with me. [I keep them in here where it's warmer. Out in the cold house, they don't ferment so well.]

Actually, they are living entities, colonies of millions upon millions of little yeasties; but I mean that I imagine them to be large living creatures who sit benignly on the floor, like dogs lying next to the bed, happy to be occupying the same warm space with me. In fact, a person or animal is also a collection of millions upon millions of individual cells and whatnot acting as a whole being, a "beastie" that feels to me similarly.

It's a different thing, of course, because the yeastie-beings have no sense of awareness of me at all (or do they?), and thus there is no possibility of mutual awareness; but that's the feeling I project onto them, as if they were like beasties. I know it's an illusion; but it's a comforting one. (Oh, you must be thinking that I am so very lonely and repressing it to feel like this. But, hey, don't worry about me. I'm just fine.)

I'm trying to relax now after having worked all day. I've been going through a clean-up phase. (It happens every fall, after a chaotic summer of disorganized messes.) So, after I carted all of the summer stuff to the basement to be stored away for the winter, I began to put away the excess wood that's been accumulating, while using up as much as I could in various mini-projects. And one of those projects happened to be a pair of steps that I've been planning for the garden wall out back, since I unwittingly cut off access to my fenced-in garden by planting a strawberry bed in front of it above the wall, so that, when I want to get into the garden beds, I have to walk a tightwall (a la tightrope) along the edge to get to the other side where the garden entrance is. So I figured I'd build a pair of wooden steps to place in front of the other end of the wall to get up there directly. So I take some old wood that I was going to cut up and burn in the woodstove anyway, and I cut it into a steps' frame and then cut the residue from it and other smaller pieces into steps. I tried to be precise in each cut I made, but the wood was of such different densities, one side being a piece of textured plywood while the other was a solid piece of hardwood, that, when I nailed them together and had to bend the textured plywood slightly (I didn't actually have to bend it, I could have cut the bottom, interlocking step slightly to make it fit better, but I figured, what the hell; I was getting tired and wanted to get upstairs out of the cold basement and into my warm bedroom), it cocked the whole set of steps at a slight angle. I would have re-done them, but they still sat flush against the ground and were rock-steady, in large part because the wall is not square with the ground, which itself is not level, and the mismatch seems to be of the same bent. So, again, I figured, what the hell, they work, they'll serve their purpose, they're functional, even though they resemble the hypocoristic cabinet.

Now, like the steps, I'm all twisted up, lying in bed thinking way back to how my brother used to backstab me and I never before noticed: the flat tire on Mom's car that I ruined because I was drunk and couldn't change it because it was freezing cold out and I didn't have any gloves, so I drove all the way home on it and shredded it, and, while I changed it the next day, he criticized me to her and whispered that she should make me pay for the tire, which I intended to do anyway, so that it irritates me now (but not back then; water off the duck's back) that he might have thought that he "convinced" Mom to make me do something that I would have done anyway; and all of that shit about the 'common sense' that he claimed I didn't have at any opportunity he managed to find to accuse me; and how he bad-mouthed me to my mother about all of the things I did that he disagreed with; etc. And he still does this crap (he does it to everyone, at least behind their backs; that's the kind of person he is, and has always been, I'm beginning now to realize).

And I'm thinking how, all of my life, but especially later on, I have striven to be so "good" (i.e., proper, correct; earlier on, I was "good" because I feared getting into trouble, more so than most people, I think; and, although I did get into a bit of trouble, I far more often skirted it because I was so wary of society; but, especially after I "grew up," I always tried to be so "good" for better reasons); and I'm thinking now that maybe I should be truer to my feelings and less concerned with my intellectual propensity to do the right thing. So, I think I'm in the process of concluding that I really don't like my brother all that much any more. I used to like him, a lot; and, much later, I used to think that maybe I don't like him so much any more because he's changed; but I'm thinking now that maybe he hasn't changed all that much, maybe now I'm just starting to see who he really is. But, either way, the net result is the same; and since he really hasn't treated me all that well anyway, and he's always running me down behind my back (I know, because he does that same thing with everyone else and, besides, I've verified it on several occasions), then why should I bother with him at all? Even if I catered to him only for selfish reasons (which I have not; I've been acting out of a kind of idealism, because he's family), I needn't do so because how much help can he really be to me anyway, since he's let me down so often in the past?

This is the way he is (this is the way the world is--even, sometimes, me), and I have to accept that. In fact, I always have. But that doesn't make it any less fucked up. And I know that, when I say some of the discouraging things I do, even though I myself am not nearly so bad as those others who are such terrible examples of unenlightened "humanity," I am merely projecting that which I cannot accept about myself, all of those little ways that I myself am a part of the problem, so who am I to talk? But it's still fucked up.

We're all fucked up, we're all to blame, we can't save a part of us, we've got to save us all or none, no one is saved until everyone is saved; but how do you save all of the incorrigible lost souls who make not the feeblest attempt to save themselves, not even wanting to try, not even knowing enough that they should want to?

So we're fucked; because it looks like it's impossible, a continual ongoing process that never ends, life. It goes on imperfectly or else it dies off, some parts of it better than others, their worth only realized in comparison with that which they are "better" than, even though, in part, in the unseen parts they hide away, they are not so perfect either, not nearly so advanced as they seem to want to believe or make out to be. So forget about it, Jake. The whole world is Chinatown. (Especially China.)

Inside, trying to figure out what I am supposed, in this life, to do, right now, forever, on, I hear thunder from the coming storm outside, distant, rattling.

Marks on paper indicate ideas painstakingly collected and assembled over and over again as if they are important, rearranged in ways they are not obviously first done.

The period of time between pitching yeast and fermentation, when foam might be infection (you never know, no matter how many times you've done the process), is the essence of the problem. It's not only about brewing, it's about waiting for results. All life frightens me in this way.

Significance lies hidden in the words you say that mean always something different than all that you meant to say, like steps you ascend that twist in a way you never meant when you thought you well-built them.

a near-perfect life

The only thing to do when you don't want to do anything and can't find the fatigue to fall asleep is to critically examine the input that finds its way to you:

Yahoo! News Saturday, November 3, 2007, 6:04 AM PDT
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) A cable TV provider says the government is blocking its transmission of private news channels.
You see? It's so much different living in a true democracy, where the privately owned news channels block the transmissions themselves. Isn't democracy a wonderful institution?

Americans Should Not Be Confused by Differing Opinions in the Media
Huffington Post's Normon Horowitz goes on a rant about FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and his "courage" to propose once again that the major broadcasting companies own more newspapers so the public won't be "confused by additional extraneous opinions."
freepress
Please. Go ahead and confuse me. I want to be confused, especially if you're the one who's defining the term.

Three major related issues: media consolidation, net neutrality, and ISP and telecom companies' content throttling & censoring practices (especially right now with Comcast, Verizon, & AT&T). Are there more? Issues, that is. (Or nefarious telecoms. I'll take either.) And aren't these all aspects of one big corporate "conspiracy"?

The media piss me off. Its dishonesty is ubiquitous. Whatever sells. and it's not restricted to the news. For example, employing writers on talk shows is kind of deceitful. I understand that they need writers for their various comedy bits and whatnot. But realizing that writers are at work behind the scenes always makes me wonder how much of the "spontaneity" we think we're watching is actually scripted. Fuck that. When I watch a talk show, I want to see reality, not a pseudo sitcom. They even script the "reality" shows.

The Narrative Narrative
As far as the media's concerned, the purpose of politics isn't democracy; it's to provide product that's not boring. Want more vitamins in your news? The New York Times public editor says if you want broccoli, that's what the Internet's for.
That just about says it all, doesn't it? No? Okay, then: This is a frank admission by the NY Times that at least its newspaper has become a rag and is no longer interested in doing real journalism. This is projection, pure and simple: blame politics for the Times own failure to report substantial news.

I should be concerning myself far more with my own life and ignoring as much as possible the sensational or pseudo-content I find in the media, whose only purpose these days (maybe it's always been this way and I'm just getting increasingly jaded) is to placate the masses and convince them to spend their money.

I've created what I once thought, and often still do think, is the perfect, or at least near-perfect, life, escaping the worst of the world and watching it on tv; but I've been wondering lately if I should start anew, to accommodate, in certain ways that might bring me greater social benefits. The problem is that, every time I try to accommodate society, I make "mistakes" that I end up regretting. Maybe instead I should disconnect the tv, use the internet only for dedicated research (i.e., stop surfing and watching the news on it), and live in my own locality instead, allowing only the neighborhood and the cosmos immediately above it to influence me. Someday. Maybe.

Meanwhile...

Stem cell breakthrough defuses debate
Tue, 20 Nov 2007 11:19 pm PST
Scientists have created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells, a breakthrough that could someday produce new treatments for disease without the explosive moral questions of embryo cloning.
AP
Stem cell breakthrough hailed as end to ethical dilemma
Tue, 20 Nov 2007 10:40 pm PST
A major breakthrough in stem cell research which could eliminate the need for human embryos was hailed as a means of ending an ethical dilemma, but researchers cautioned against abandoning the study of embryonic stem cells.
AFP
Now it appears that the fundamentalists are going to have to concoct another reason for why stem cell research can't move forward, or at least they will have to find a different issue to glom onto, because the real problem they have with stem cell research is not so much the sacredness of life (which is more of an excuse than a reason) as it is the propensity toward resisting human progress, because progress more and more reveals the inadequacy of the collection of superstitions that they mistaken label "Christianity."

Congo to form nature reserve for bonobos
Tue, 20 Nov 2007 02:25 pm PST
Congo is setting aside more than 11,000 square miles of rain forest to help protect the endangered bonobo, a great ape that is the most closely related to humans and is found only in this Central African country.
AP
Now how about they form a nature reserve to preserve humans. Or, better yet, how about we create a preserve to contain the more animalistic of our species, the warmongers, murderers, despoilers of the envirionment, etc. (and let's just, for the sake of convenience, throw in the jocks too), and leave the rest of the world for the rest of us. [Oops. Is my prejudice showing? Well, if so, it's prejudice against prejudice.]

When I criticize jocks and their mentality, especially their prejudicial attitudes and behaviors toward those (whom they perceive as) less physically able than themselves, I am engaging in the same kind of prejudice in reverse; but this is okay, because it's merely unconscious justice balancing the books. We act unconsciously out of a need we develop to compensate for injuries we feel we've endured.

It's not really okay, but what am I going to do? I have the right to defend myself in any way I can. Never mind that the prejudice against me didn't start until my third year in college [when I became a hippie (overtly; I was always a hippie--or previously a beatnik--at heart)] and lasted for only several years, until the society began to catch up with me. Now, my defense against their defense goes on, years too late.

We're all defending ourselves against hurts we endured earlier on in life. (I was prejudiced against in childhood, but not so overtly as later.) We go back and forth, never able to find our way out of our dilemmas, stuck within the patterns we inhabit, compensating. Without ever knowing it, I've been compensating to avoid prejudice and discrimination most of my life. People belittle and disregard that which is different from them; and I am different.

Finally, now, I see how I am, not only thwarted by society in being who I am and really want to be, but rewarded for pretending to be neuro-typical. When I worked at jobs, I made good money by pretending to be "normal". Yet I still felt I was being discriminated against, but I didn't know how. Later in my employment, I managed to verbalize my feeling; but I still didn't know how the prejudice was actually accomplished. It took the awareness of Asperger's to enlighten me.

It's one thing to be prejudiced against because you have a disability. It's a whole different thing when you're prejudiced against for a genetic condition that at least you yourself if not the mainstream culture considers not to be a disability, but merely a different way of being. If I had never become aware of my genetic condition, yet still I would feel prejudiced against, for being merely different within a culture that cared not to recognize my difference as legitimate.

If a "cure" were found for Asperger's, I wouldn't want it (assuming, even that I could afford it). I like who I am, and have even grown comfortable with the prejudice. (It makes me "better" than they who are prejudiced against me.) And I have the inherent right of natural law to be exactly who I am, an alien in an alien landscape, unsuited to the environment yet having nevertheless adapted. I am the man who fell to earth.

So, when I myself exhibit the prejudicial behavior that I do against the machoman inhabitants of this strange land, I know that I am wrong. I know that it's merely a reaction against their behavior. It's the machomen (and their correlates among the female community, the bombshells who worship them) who have been the most vociferously prejudiced against me, when I chose not to pretend to be like them and join in their animal reveries. I should be better than they are when they snipe at me; but I am not. Maybe someday I can rise above it all and live a more perfect kind of existence, a peaceful kind of life unaffected by the anxiety that I take for granted will always be lurking behind the scenes, waiting to pounce out at me like Clouseaus's Cato to cause me to defend myself to avoid a thorough beating. Maybe.

and the beat(ing) goes on

I'm afraid. Some of the time. A lot less than I used to be. Not because, I don't think, because I've better adapted, but because I am far less likely to interface with society that I used to. This is what social anxiety is: fear. But fear of what? Well, what have you got? At the moment, it's the imminent loss of a segment of what remains of my family: My brother's wife failed to call to invite me over for Thanksgiving, though she attempted to call last week and left a message; but it was exactly at nine o'clock and I was about to watch "House" and answering a phone call from her could involve being caught up in a "conversation" that might last several hours, and my DVR isn't working, so I took the out she gave me when her message asked if I were in bed yet, and I chose not to answer. But an intuition(?) at the time suggested that her voice sounded "sad" and certainly not her usual high-spirited self, a perception that dwelled on me over the next few days, during which I received three more calls, each of which were aborted just as the message began recording.

I started to suspect that something might be wrong with my answering machine, because one of the three messages started with "This is..." and then cut off, and the other two did the same thing, starting with "Jo..," which could have been Joe or Joseph; but none of the messages sounded like Joyce's voice. I chose to see these messages as "clues" that I needed to interpret and I postulated yet another new "analysis" system (based on the marker board method on "House" where the doctors list out symptoms to be considered as they try to solve their medical puzzles), which lists out the (intuited? imagined?) clues I come across and considers them in a contemplative state of mind to see if I can further extend my "intuitions." Clues in this prototype attempt:

*An old phone message that said something to the effect of, "If you don't want to answer this call, please have your legal representative call me," which, at the time, I interpreted to be a new clever telemarketers' ploy to increase the odds that solicitations will more likely be responded to, but which now, in my increasing paranoia (which in fact escalated this particular several month-long bout of anxiety to its current pitch), I conclude was probably about a potential pending legal battle that I've been unconsciously ignoring.

*Joyce's atypical tone of voice on her last phone message.

*The three subsequent messages that were cut off, either by the caller or, more likely, by my machine, which might be malfunctioning.

Next, the evening before Thanksgiving, I get a phone call, and the message, at first, appears to be going to cut out again, but then it goes on, restarting by repeating after a click the introductory words "This is..." It's a telephone solicitation from Capital One, slightly disguised as a "concern" on their part about my account (probably re the fact that I never called to activate the last credit card they sent me). So, I conclude, that's one little fleck of paranoia that's been explained away: The "This is..." call was from them. (But, since "This is.." could be the opening of any number of possible callers, I later begin to worry that maybe it wasn't them at all and that someone else is trying to contact me--about the "legal matter" or some other "legal" matter. The anxiety begins to re-escalate quickly each time I ease it down to manageable levels with one or another of my favorite tactics.)

I suspect that Joyce may have been trying to call and was getting cut off. In fact, the aborted "Jo..." messages may have been from her, although it didn't sound like her voice; but then neither did the earliest one that was from her. But then I think that, if she really wanted to invite me over, she could have emailed me when it was clear to her that she couldn't get through. So, I resign myself, only this afternoon, to the fact that I am not to be invited over, for whatever reason, my paranoia informing me that my brother told her not to invite me. Which is silly, because when does she ever listen to him anyway?

All of which is okay with me. No. Really. Except that...

Here, as I'm typing this, I am interrupted by a phone call. It's Joyce, inviting me over for Thanksgiving. I don't really want to go, not only because I feel a bit intimidated about how my brother is going to act toward me, but also because I'm really getting into writing out all of this anxiety and paranoia crap, for the first time in many weeks. But I tell her I'll be over in about an hour and I go and take a quick shower. [She has a lot of balls waiting until the last minute to invite me, and I'm a little bit pissed that I consented; but I do feel like getting out of the house for a while.]

As it all turned out, everything with my family is fine, as fine as it ever is, given the nature of the problems involved. When I arrived at my brother's house, Jim went out of his way to talk to me in a congenial way. Joyce was upstairs, and he skipped out to "do some things" just before she came downstairs. When he returned, after a few moments of typical conversation, he got mad at Joyce (his excuse was completely unwarranted, so that later, when Joyce talked to me about it, I told her that he was just looking for an excuse to get mad at her) and he stormed out with his usual holiday threat that maybe he wouldn't be back. But he returned a few minutes later as if nothing at all had happened.

After dinner, in a role reversal, Jim went upstairs to bed and Joyce stayed down in the living room and watched tv. (She was on vacation and didn't have to get up for work the next day.) We sat and talked all night. When I finally got up to leave, I was shocked to discover that it was two a.m.

My brother's solicitous behavior toward me early on in the day indicates to me that he has been as disturbed as I have been about the apparent threat of loss of mutual family support that he (and/or I) precipitated by my not choosing to help him on job a few months ago because I felt he had been taking advantage of me, although the excuse I used was that I didn't feel physically up to it; but I suspect that, at least on a subconsious level, he knew that it was an excuse and understood the real reason. We each felt his anger/hurt and my disappointment in his ongoing behavior in our own way. Furthermore, I feel that the potential threat of a break between us was not only my own feeling, but his as well, and that, maybe, I was as much tuning in to his discomfort about it as I was feeling it on my own.

But, if I am not able to do whatever, for whatever reason, whether because I am in physical pain or discomfort and prefer to seek an ease of life instead, or because I am psychologically inhibited from performing whatever task or working toward whatever goal, even if I am merely refusing because I no longer wish to be taken advantage of, then...well...I am just not able. It's too bad, but it's sometimes necessary, that I do not work so hard and/or do not allow others to determine what I will or will not do. I must take into account my limitations, psychological as well as physical, and be careful that I do not push myself too hard. Not that that has been all that much of a problem for the last ten or so years. But, when the anxiety flares up, when the fear escalates, it's better that I remain at home much of the time and ride it out. At home, I need only put up with my own mental self-abuse. Out among people, I must deal with all of the chicanery that "normal" people think is ordinary life. I can beat myself up quite well alone, there's no need for me to go out and let other people do it.

the great asshole in the sky

His bedroom window it is made out of bricks.
Bob Dylan, "Maggie's Farm"
I'm walking up Duff Rd. when a school bus passes me. A kid on the bus leans out the window just when the bus is beside me and he screams maniacally at the top of his voice. This scares the shit out me of, causing my heart to jump; but, true to my basic personality combined with lifelong intentional training, I show no physical response. Instead, I turn my head to follow the bus, catch the kid's eye, and stare him down. He pulls his head back in, thwarted in his attempt to scare the shit out of me. (If only he knew that he succeeded; but I try never to give anyone that satisfaction.) I think, as I walk on, "What the fuck is wrong with people?" This, at the basic local level, is exactly what's wrong with the world: people.

A long time ago, I was walking home to my apartment on Deborah Jane Dr. when someone in a passing car threw an orange out of the window. I saw the kid who threw it, but too late to realize what was happening before it hit me in the shoulder. It was obvious that he did it intentionally, aiming at me. The car was traveling toward me at about thirty-five miles an hour, which means that the orange hit me at 35 mph plus the speed of his throw. It hurt quite a bit. Even back then, I didn't react, except to turn as I walked, staring after the car. And I then had the same thought, "What the fuck is wrong with people?"

On Thanksgiving, I tell Joyce these stories, and she tops them (of course) with this one: Jim is driving his truck past a school bus when a kid on the bus throws something (I forget what) out the window and breaks his windshield. Jim went to the bus garage and reported the incident. As it turns out, they have cameras in some of the buses and so they reviewed their tapes and found that they had video of the kid caught in the act. The case went before a local magistrate. The kid denied that he had done the act. The magistrate, who hadn't yet revealed the existence of the tape, told the kid that, before he formally denies having done it, he'd better seriously consider the consequences of perjuring himself. The kid relents and admits that he did it, whereupon the magistrate reveals to him the tape. The kids parents had to pay for Jim's windshield.

This is what people are like, ignorant. One could make the argument that in a lot of cases they're just dumb "kids" but, if a kid does things like this, more likely than not he has ignorant parents who failed to teach him moral values. This is why the world is fucked, this is why the human race is incorrigible. Even if the parents' responsibility argument isn't true and you can all but disregard kids' behavior with the argument that kids will be kids, that they tend to be ignorant because they haven't yet learned exactly how to behave, kids become adults. Somewhere along the line, kids have to learn. And when do they learn it, if not when they're young? Kids learn faster and more thoroughly than adults. So we're back to the original argument: except for the very few kids who are genetically defective, the problem is not the kids', but their parents. Bad kids imply bad parenting. And this is where the real problem lies.

Too many adults in this world are too partially socialized. They're little more than animals--although maybe that's a diss of animals. Animals, for all of their brutality (greater apes excepted, because they are almost just like us), do not exhibit the kinds of mental "aberrations" that cause our fucked up behavior. Why, in the name of the complexity of advancement toward some greater "intelligence" (or whatever), must we pass through this plethora of neuroses that we seem to have been currently stuck in for the past...oh, I don't know, what, ten thousand years? Which means that we, as humans, have never really risen up out of a preliminary state of pathology that we want to believe precedes a golden age of self-conscious life. And will we ever? Or is that simply another aspect of our species-delusion, another desire akin to religion, another superstition that we want to believe so badly in that we refuse to see the trees for the forest? Maybe we are permanently flawed in this way and have to continue to repeat our fuckupedness forever, generation after generation, never advancing but only living under the illusion that we do. Certainly we advance technologically; but if we must remain the assholes that we are forever, then what's the point? Maybe it's because we are made in God's image after all, and God is an asshole.

But...I used to stay away from society because I didn't trust it, to treat me right, to refrain from manipulating me, yada yada yada. Now I stay away from it because I don't trust myself, to react correctly, to not make a mistake that will result in consequences I do not want, or merely to miss subtleties that leave me in a compromised social situation. It has always been the case that I don't trust myself, and I've been projecting my distrust of myself onto society. Not that society isn't out to get me; it is--not me per se, but rather people in general, people who can be cast in the role of victim for the more mainstream, "properly socialized" citizens to bully, however subtly so that no one, especially they themselves, will notice. I've been known, in my ignorance, to do the same damn thing. And, since society is, after all, just people, I don't trust society for the same reason that I don't trust myself: because we're all people. It's people I don't trust, myself included, first and foremost. People are fucked up:

This idea came to me as I was considering the nature of rape after having read something that claimed that rape was not a sex crime, but a crime of violence: Of course it's a sex crime. It also happens to be a crime of violence--usually; but it is definitely a sex crime. How could it not be? I suspect that people (i.e., women, and perhaps gay men) don't want it to be a sex crime because they want sex to be...what? Sacrosanct? No. That's not it. At least not with gay men. Consider how many women might have accused men of rape as a means of hiding the fact, especially from themselves, that they feel guilty about the sex they had? [Hey, don't blame me! I got that idea from Nancy Friday.] But I (sort of) digress. When is rape not violence? This is the idea I'm trying to get to, a re-definition of violence: When a woman is coerced to have sex with no actual violence taking place, that is certainly rape, but is it violence? If it's not a crime of violence, what else can it be but a sex crime? Although the law seems to be changing, psychological violence is often disregarded, if only because it is so difficult to prove; but maybe violence is something more than I've been thinking it is. Hmmm. Possibly. This line of thought brings me to a classification of human "interaction":

influence | manipulation | intimidation | coercion | violence

At what point along this spectrum does "violence" actually occur? And at what point does a crime actually occur? (And are the two points the same?) It's easy to say that violence requires physical action; but I want to think that it's not so simple. Coercion might involve physicality that is not quite violent in the normal sense of the word. And, since I am hypersensitive to these phenomena, I might want to think that the same can be said of intimidation and manipulation. (I'll leave influence alone here, since it seems to be a relatively innocent and ubiquitous phenomenon.) Can we make a case for psychological violence occurring during an incident of intimidation? Probably. And one of manipulation? Probably not; but maybe we should define it as such. At least I want to think so. But is psychological violence as "bad" a crime as its physical counterpart? Again, I want to think so. In some case maybe it is worse. And this kind of activity is not so much a one-way street (or back alley). People who are persecuted, or discriminated against, or disenfranchised, or manipulated, or whatever, when they solve their problem by establishing a power base of their own, turn around and do the same thing to others who are in positions of lesser power, minorities, dissenters, rebels, or people who, simply, act differently from the power brokers--like the son rebels against the father; like the way the Pilgrims treated the "witches" after King James disrespected them, not having learned the lesson of Henry and the reformation, let alone their own personal history; like the blacks in America go after Imus and Dog and others who act as heretics against their "enlightened" "liberal" message.

In the welfare-state democracies of the West, the spread of legal regulation has the structure of a dilemma, because it is the legal means for securing freedom that themselves [sic] endanger the freedom of their presumptive beneficiaries.
Lois McNay,
referencing J. Habermas
in Foucault and Feminism
If, in the name of bestowing upon me the rights and privileges of democracy, you threaten [which is exactly what you do, with psychic violence that you want me to think is more akin to manipulation or coercion, which you want me to think is ordinary, acceptable behavior; leave me alone, assholes] the very thing you would guarantee, then why should I feel that "democracy" is such a desirable state of affairs? I'm safe and secure as long as I keep my head down and avoid the authorities who would call me to task for my "errant" behavior? How is that any different than living under the "rule" of King George's England or Saddam Hussein's Iraq? Must we be mainstream citizens in order to assure our rights? So it would seem, and that is not what I call democracy. In a true democracy, no one would have to insist that they're rights be respected, nor would they have to go too far out of their way to redress greivances of denial of rights. Filing a simple complaint should do it. But government agents are ordinary people with prejudices and flaws; and our democratic system does not provide checks and balances at this level to prevent or ameliorate discrimination.

[In a similar vein, if, in order to be saved, I have to place my faith in a god that acts capriciously, in ways similar to the ways that men and women created in its image act, then I prefer to pass into non-existence rather than spend an eternity in what I would feel is an intimidating presence. (Yes, I have a problem with authority; and the more authoritarian it is, the more of a problem I have with it.) If the god, however, is not a capricious god, then it will understand why I am the ("disabled") way I am and will allow me my salvation. (Actually, the fact that any god would be in is a position to "allow" me anything makes me question it, per se.)]

And, finally, here's another way that our society [which, really, is our god here in America, especially when we consider that it's our society that issues our token currency] buries it's head in the sand and ignores the problems that its legal and social systems engender:

Despite the rhetoric and the laws, we as a people are not serious about preventing drunk driving. If we were, we could very easily stop it and all of the subsequent deaths and injuries it causes. Here's how I know that this is true: There's a bar at the end of my street. Every day and every night I see people (men usually) exiting the bar, obviously impaired. They get into cars and drive off. There is no doubt in my mind that this exact same thing is repeated at every bar across the country. It would be the simplest thing to position a cop car outside of a few of these bars, pull offenders over, and arrest them. If this were done nationwide, it wouldn't take very long for drunk drivers to get the message. But will we do this? Of course not. Therefore, we are not serious. We are willing to put up with the deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers, the typical rhetoric from organizations like MADD notwithstanding.

So, I put this argument to a guy who I know to be a frequent and typical violator and he argues that the cops do not have the authority to randomly pull anyone over and test him for drunk driving. I say I doubt that this is true. He says they can't just sit outside of bars and wait for people that they think might be drunk. It would be a violation of drivers' civil rights. I don't tell him about how obvious the behavior is, because I know he will disagree. Instead, I say that the authorities seem to have no problem at all violating citizens' civil rights when it comes to suspecting them of terrorist activities. And many, many more people are killed and injured each year in this country by drunk drivers than by terrorists. He says he disagrees with illegally detaining terrorists also; but I know that he's lying out of convenience. I've heard him argue in the past for the need to suspend legal safeguards in order to combat terrorism. It's a hopeless argument and I give it up.

My friend is unlikely to be arrested for drunk driving and he knows it. But if our society were only half as serious about stopping drunk driving as it is about stopping terrorists, he'd be in jail right now; where he'll end up eventually anyway because, being a confirmed alcoholic, he's not about to learn his lesson soon enough to keep him out of jail, even if society is not so serious about stopping his behavior. This is the approach we're taking: We'll slow it down a bit and hope for the best. This is the approach that the highest authorities take with respect to any problem that's difficult to solve. This is the approach that we as a society seem to think is most appropriate: Don't stir the pot too deeply; you don't want all that burnt crap at the bottom to get up into the soup.

So they resign themselves to the status quo and protect themselves instead by bricking up their windows. I know that I'm arguing against my own intransient position here: If I were serious about reform, I wouldn't hide away from society, nor would I approach it in the passive-aggressive way that I do; but you have to understand that I am merely a symptom of the problem. I see what the problem is, but I'm incapable of doing anything beyond reporting it. Meanwhile, I'm bricking up my own windows against the coming storm. Oh, it will come, believe me. You can't hold down this much discontent and resentment for this long without expecting a severe reaction.

the coming revolution

FELLINI: I think it is immoral (in the true sense of the word) to tell a story that has a conclusion. Because you cut out your audience the moment you present a solution on the screen. Because there are no "solutions" in their lives. I think it is moral--and most important--to show, let's say, the story of one man. Then everyone, with his own sensibility and on the basis of his own inner development, can try to find his own solution.

BACHMAN: You mean to say that by "ending" a problem, the filmmaker takes away from the audience the feeling that what they are seeing is the truth.

FELLINI: Yes, or even worse. For when you show a true problem and then resolve it, the spectator is beguiled into feeling that problems in his own life, too, will solve themselves, and he can stop working on them for himself. By giving happy endings to films, you goad your audience into going on living in a trite, bland manner, because they are now sure that sometime, somewhere, something happy is going to happen to them, too, and without their having to do anything about it. Conversely, by not serving them the happy ending on a platter, you can make them think; you can remove some of that smug security. Then they'll have to find their own answers.

interview with Frederico Fellini
in "The Road Beyond Neorealism"
in Film: A Montage of Theories
Sometimes I think my life is like a movie. I try to write the script for it, but Hollywood always seems to (want to) beat me to it. It (i.e., society) wants a happy ending, by which it means a "resolved" one. But life is not like that, really; and I do not want to be forced into the mold "they" want to put me in.

I totally agree with Fellini's psychology of film, but not with the intended results of making people think. Either they'll think or they won't, and there's very little you can do to change that situation. Someone else, another filmmaker or novelist or whomever, will always be there to serve the public their pabulum if you won't. People who are looking for pie-in-the-sky happy endings are going to find them, even if they have to daydream them up themselves. The best you can do is to create stories for that relatively small percentage of the population who actually want to be stimulated by thought-provoking material.

Having read so much typical, prosaic, consensual, predictable writing (and watched at least as many similar films), I must be different. I don't want to re-invent the wheel of fiction writing. I want to invent its warp drive.

This is why I rebel: People, even most liberals, want society to stay the same; even the ones who want change don't want so much of it. But I want drastic upheaval. Because the way that things are now is just plain wrong. On the other hand, why should I worry about society? My life is a rebellion, and that, usually, is enough for me. It's too much, usually, for me to go beyond my day-to-day existence. Day to day, I manage to change a few small circumstances or ways of doing things; or else I wait, until the next day, until the time is right.

I work myself, usually with the aid of caffeine, into a productive state of mind by kind of edging up onto it in a sideways fashion, putting small pieces into place over a period of time, setting it up bit by bit until at last I'm ready to execute a project, or at least a more significant part of one. But when I finally achieve this productive state, as likely as not I will instead head off in another direction, usually one of fantasy, because I've worked so hard for so long just maintaining a status quo even keel, preventing myself from slipping (too far) down into a pit of ennui, that I welcome the relief that a productive state of mind affords, the hope, the sunny outlook; and so, instead of working, I languish within that pleasant atmosphere until the edge starts to wear off, when I then regret the lost opportunity to have accomplished some substantial progress. It occurs to me that this is exactly what revolution is all about, waiting and waiting, putting it off again and again, until circumstances get so bad that the upheaval occurs spontaneously; because if it is not spontaneous, it will not succeed; not a revolution, and not your life.

But I wait too long, until...
My spontaneity, most often, occurs in dreams.
My life encodes itself within my psyche.
I'm at home there, locked inside, more aware.

The real environment in which the dreamer dreams that gets incorporated into the dreams (i.e., the "sources," e.g., a tv that is on while the dreamer is sleeping or people talking in the dreamer's vicinity) is most often "misinterpreted" (i.e., pressed into service of the unconscious and altered in meaning to serve the dream). In this same way, "psychic" material (or remembered material from the dreamer's real life) is subject to mis- or re-interpretation. Dreamers "pick up" hard data that they incorporate into their experiences and in the process transform it into more or less personal material. If they subsequently want to analyze the dream content with the idea of extracting its basis in "reality," they must work very hard at an all but impossible task. [Now what could be more revolutionary than all of that?]

Nevertheless, the feeling, I think, remains intact and can lead the way toward a more or less accurate interpretation. We may get the facts wrong, but the feeling persists and can form the basis for an intuitive approach, which becomes a sort of re-dreaming while awake, as intuition works to create a re-experience in the dreamer that he may, again, interpret, this time as "real" facts. Psychics do the same kind of thing (except that so many self-professed psychics prefer unreal, or superstitious, "facts" as interpretations); just like a dreamer might do when he tries to glean the reality of a tv show (especially if he already knows its basic nature, perhaps by having seen previous episodes) that introduced data into the oddity of a dream, psychics glean data from the real world, but with far more difficulty since the "psychic" source of material is so much more obscure and farther removed. "Re-remembered" material would lie somewhere between these two extremes of dreaming and psychism and might constitute the most "normal" intuited material.

I want a revolution based on dreaming. I live in a dream world most of the time. I want the world to incorporate my dreams into its reality, and not vice versa. Living in a dream world would be cool. But it would have to be my dream world. Other people's dreams are the dreamer's nightmares.

I dream, therefore I am.

I'm so cool. But you don't know it. You might think you do, but you'd be wrong. What you may think is cool about me isn't. That's a disguise. My true cool is internal, hidden, so that you can't call me on it, imagining it is sociopathy. I'm cool because I'm autistic. That may seem like a strange statement; but then, I'm autistic.

Autism is now the "in" disease among the pc people. It's about time. And it's finally being revealed for what it truly is (as opposed to what ignorant people, including professionals, needed to believe it was). Auties are people of normal (or superior) intelligence who lack the wherewithal to adequately communicate, but who are clearly able to assimilate ideas and learn. With this newer definition, we can see Auties as having a unique view of the neuro-typical world: They see others for what they really are, when they treat Auties as the people they only thought we were, ignorant, maladaptive, sub-human. (A little bit of projection here?) Auties, however, know that they are not these things; but how to let others know this? Technology is solving this problem by creating alternate means of communication; furthermore, now that it is known to be an interface problem, it seems that some kind of drug or gene therapy should resolve the difficulties.

I myself have always felt locked up inside my own head, though not to the intense degree that severely autistic people experience this phenomenon, of course; but enough to have been negatively affected by my reduced ability to interface with society. I've always been slightly askew in this regard, and thought odd for it, so that I learned to think of society as a cruel or at least a callous place to exist within. Borderline autistics have a unique set of difficulties: they're "normal" enough to be socially "functional" yet experience many difficulties adapting. Thus, they haven't gotten the kind of "help" that the more seriously affected people have. They live in a gray world between the neuro-typical and the "cut-off" and often do not know which way to turn. Or, at least, I often don't. No wonder anxiety plagues us.

When I feel anxiety, I increase my efforts to counter it by, for example, writing (I try to understand what it is I'm experiencing) or organizing (to "prepare" for social events that are precipitating the anxiety, by distracting myself away from it and by symbolically arranging my environment as a hedge against it) or activity (both as a distraction and to "pump" myself up out of a "depressive" state of mind and thereby generate a feeling that I am able to approach and deal with social situations).

I know I need society, if for nothing else than to supply my basic needs (food, utilities, etc.; I have the ability to provide for my basic needs on my own, I developed the necessary skills long ago as a young man when I felt that society was more threatening than nurturing; but I just don't want to work that hard, living in the wilderness like Jeremiah Johnson, when it's so much easier to live on the fringes of society and take advantage of the "bargains" that consumer-mentality affluence provides); but I keep that social connection to an absolute minimum in order to minimize the anxiety/depression (coincidental Asperger's symptoms). The threat of "interference" (for lack of a better word) by others, the fear that others will not only disagree with me and object to what I do and how I live (I can handle all of that) but also will attempt to force or manipulate me into conforming to their way of thinking and acting, serves to keep me away from them at my slightest suspicion (paranoia).

I made my most recent "mistake" by trying to be exactly who I am, by acting according to my basic nature and purpose (trying to economize and live as frugally as possible, against an unknown future that cannot be anything but worse than it is now, given my physical and mental condition). The mistake was not that I lied (I didn't) or committed fraud (I never intended to deceive anyone and, if I at all thought that I would get into any kind of trouble, I never would have applied for the assistance in the first place, I'm that fearful of social conflict and confrontation). The mistake I made was in asking society for help in the first place. I should have maintained my lowest profile and tried to "survive" more on my own.

I'd try to "explain" my self and my actions in more conventionally accurate terms; but it's a lot of work and I've seldom experienced much success in that way, let alone satisfaction. Anyone who knows, knows; with the fewest words of explanation, they understand. But how do you explain it to those who do not know, who need to most of all, if only for your own benefit, if not theirs, that they will not misjudge you and discriminate against you in their ignorance? How many words do you have to use, stumbling around the symptoms and the struggles, zeroing in, maybe, until they begin to get the idea; because you can't explain it directly, when you try, it just doesn't make any sense [to anyone who does not feel it for themselves, the "normal" people], that's what they tell you, or maybe they only want to tell you but do not, keeping quiet instead for fear of upsetting you or making themselves look ignorant; but when they do tell you, they tell you things like, "Oh, don't be silly," or "Grow up," or "That's the way life is," or "Get over it." Because they just don't know. Do you?

I would like it to be (one of) my purpose(s) to fight for the rights of Aspie's (or anyone) to exist and prosper within society despite their social debility, to be who they are and live free of discrimination in workplaces that would insist that a primary part of their work responsibility is that they interact easily and readily with their coworkers, supervisors, and customers, but I seldom have the energy to go beyond a simple statement of fact; and, in any case, whenever I try, my focus seldom lasts. Although we have (sometimes severe) limitations in this area of human interaction, yet we have the human right to survive within a system that is impossible to extract ourselves from in the post industrial age. So. Dreaming (and fantasizing) has become my primary mechanism for coping. It removes me from the everyday stress and politics of social negotiation. Often I see my primary goal in life as living as free as possible from the (often subtle) politics of life; and, additionally, free from the restraining influence of political states that insist that they have the right to coerce citizens to obey their arbitrary laws that limit their civil rights. We have the right, by natural law (which should be incorporated into civil law in its entirety), to be exactly who we are.

but sometimes I do want to change

To be modern is, for Foucault, 'to take oneself as an object of complex and difficult elaboration', like a work of art. What interests Foucault in this idea of an aesthetic reinvention of the self are the moments when art passes over into the sphere of life. Foucault places great stress on Baudelaire's pan-aestheticism, where art no longer occupies its own private niche, but where it gives birth to lifeforms directly. ... The reinivention of the self must resemble the creation of a work of art. ... Implied in [this] idea...is a notion of the active agent freely choosing modalities through which he or she constructs a relation with the self.
Lois McNay, Foucault and Feminism
I love my life. It's the rest of the world I have problems with. (How any times have I already written something to that effect?) I want to do things and the "world" often interferes with what I want to do. When that interference is merely the environment or the nature of physical reality that I must learn how to deal with [such as, for example, when I want to go out walking and it rains; or, better yet, when I want to paint a picture but lack the particular skills I need and so must practice new techniques first; or when I want to make a sculpture but haven't yet mastered the skills necessary to overcome the resistance of a particular type of hardwood], it's okay, because this is the nature of nature, no big deal, that's life.

The problem I have with the world is really a problem with human nature, when general society and specific people who set themselves up as its representatives determine that what I want to do is not appropriate for whatever reason and so act to thwart my activities. This is bad enough when people's actions are of an "official" nature, but when they are "personal" (think fundamentalist politicians) and especially when they disguise their actions as official, then I begin to get very irritated. But, being socially compromised most of the time, my usual recourse is to withdraw rather than confront the forces/people who irritate me. This behavior characterizes my personality.

The individual's practices are mediated through the social context and...this process of mediation introduces an element of indeterminacy into the individual's self understanding.

"...the preoccupation with autonomy and self-mastery...is simply a moment in the process of social interaction which has been artificially isolated or privileged: 'both cognitive instrumental mastery of an objectivated nature (and society) and narcissistically overinflated autonomy (in the sense of purposively rational self-assertion) are derivative moments that have been rendered from the communicative structures of the lifeworld, that is, from the intersubjectivity of relationships of mutual understanding and relationships of reciprocal recognition' (Habermas...)..."

Lois McNay, Foucault & Feminism
But what happens when you isolate yourself most of the time from those mediating relationships, in order to "better" define an identity that you can understand, in order to remove the indeterminacy because it disturbs you so much that it interferes with "proper" social functioning? Or, to put it in other words, what if your disability causes confusion during the mediation process to the point where you feel like your identity is being compromised? It's all so nice to understand how identity is formed in the neuro-typical individual and how social interaction extends and modifies that identity in an ongoing manner; but when the identity thus formed results in, not an interacting, functioning individual, but a lost and confused soul, then what choice is there but to resort to the kinds of practices that look like an "art of self" [Foucault's remedy for the loss of individual identity caused by the processes of modernity], where rational(izing), (overly) organizing, collecting (hoarding), and/or documenting (writing, which is mental hoarding, at least for me) tactics replace the spontaneity of interaction?

The self is sustained by the continuous redefinition of the boundaries between self and other... [as opposed to] the relationship with the other [being] understood in terms of the cognitive categories of the self.
Lois McNay, Foucault & Feminism
I say, in a number of different ways and at different times to myself and probably to others with various degrees of encoding, "This is who I am." And other say of me, "That is who he is"; and to me, more or less directly and with whatever degree of encoding and consciousness, they say, "This is who (I interpret) you are." I incorporate their interpretations into my own definitions and conduct an internal battle to come up with a more or less coherent identity; or else I feel split apart by this ongoing (re-)definition process, especially when I want to be one thing, once and for all time, even though I'm well aware that identity is never a permanent affair.

So, if I want to feel less confused, I must abandon the search for self-identity and turn instead to the search for a universal one that incorporates ongoing change among all peoples and things. We are, after all, one extensive, non-differentiated field, and not individual manifestations abstracted out of it, which is merely an illusion.