by j-a

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January 2008

Baby Steps


It Takes Such a Long Time
To Go Such a Short Distance

a new year's dream

I'm in a strange place, sort of like the mall area of Monroeville, but different. There is a prevailing atmosphere [recurrent] that wafts up from a barren area of land down over a hillside that is both like the area along Thompson Run below the rail yards and the depression that no longer exists below the East Hills Shopping Center around the old mines we grew up near, a rocky, gritty area that suggests a strip mine (except that what would be sooty coal residue is, rather, a slightly cleaner beige sandstone grit) with its scrubbery1 of weedy growth that is at the same time both barely surviving and prospering in the poor soil, only the hardiest, least needy plants able to exist here. I'm walking along above on the ridge with a woman, Julianna Margulies, and a man, who is, perhaps, my brother (some later suggestion of this), but also is, at times [also later], Gene Hackman. I have a particular fondness for Juliana. A movie, which is projected onto the lower landscape as if it is a sunken amphitheater, is in progress and nearly over. I remark that the film is a good one with particularly potent ending that I think that Juliana [let's call her Jules for typing simplicity] must see; and Gene concurs. We descend the hillside, which is like going through huge double theater doors and down a relatively steep aisle. At the bottom of the theater/valley, we join a crowd that is more like movie extras than an audience. Some catastrophe is about to happen, one we should witness for the experience. Jules seems less than fully interested. The initialization of the event actually occurs behind our backs and we have to turn around to see it. A helicopter "lassoes" a huge eighteen-wheeler from the highway above, hoists it above the valley, and drops it beyond a stand of trees to the west. It hits the ground with a "silent noise" and raises a huge dust cloud. Jules, out of disinterest, doesn't turn around in time and misses the drop. I keep replaying it semi-lucidly in my dream-mind until she is able to witness it. Because of the trees, we don't see it actually hit the ground; but the huge dust cloud, in addition to billowing straight up, also travels along the ground into the area where we are. As we watch, we are standing close together. I wrap my arms around Jules, who is wearing a leather-like trench coat; and she wraps her arms around Gene in the same way, so that the three of us stand together as one cozy unit. The dropped truck was not the great finale of the "film," but only a harbinger of it, a prelude to a catastrophic conclusion. We turn in the direction of the dust flow to witness it. The basin of the valley is now a huge lake. [Recurrent.] People are swimming in it as if this is a summer resort area. At the same time, the lake area is a huge indoor industrial mall. All of the people standing around, perhaps thousands, are released by unseen authorities and allowed to (re-)enter the mall. Everyone proceeds to his or her place of employment and all are amazed that they can pick up their (technical, assembly line-like) work right where they left off. All expected that there would be some serious damage to the equipment. Apparently, whatever the catastrophe was, it is over. We are standing with a group of "employees" in an area near the west end of the lake that is also the bottom of a narrow stairwell with a metal staircase leading up. Pervading the entire dream is the feeling of the fondness I have for Jules, which has escalated and threatens to spill over into love, which I resist, fearing that, if I express it, I will lose the little bit of comfortable fondness that she currently allows between us. I feel that she feels the same toward me (and also toward Gene) that I feel toward her, but she cannot express it, feeling she must demur, to which end she goes off to a place where I cannot see her, through metal doors behind us and up a different set of metal stairs. This is, I think, the whole point of the dream, or at the least the whole reason why I want to write it out, to capture this feeling. I half-awaken and dwell on it, wallowing in its bittersweet ending until...

...the phone rings and, knowing that it's my brother calling to inform me, like he said he would do on Christmas, as to whether Joyce is working or cooking a big meal, I rush to answer it. He tells me, in brief, that she is working; and that's it. I'm not going anywhere. Which is good. The wind is blowing wildly outside and I can feel the bitter cold creeping in through the cracks. It's not a weather I feel like going out into. I retreat back into my warm bedroom, happy at the thought of spending the day either working on the laptop or lazing around.

Actually, earlier, after five hours of sleep, I awoke at seven and had a highly productive meditation session wherein I resolved several mental and lifestyle difficulties (i.e., made plans to resolve them; "technically" this would be contemplation, not meditation) as well as contacted "the light" in a prolonged fashion. Very calming and satisfying. And, after nearly two hours, before I fell back into sleep, I documented the bits of plans to implement later. So I now have a number of productive tasks planned that will resolve several thorny issues. Good start to a new year.

After the phone call, I think, "He could have called earlier." He and his wife do that all the time, call at the last minute and expect me to jump through hoops to get ready and come over to visit them. But never mind. I'm not in a complaining kind of mood right now. But it occurs to me, as I "read between the lines" of his terse message (and/or "intuit between the lines" of my own mind), that he dislikes the idea of having to invite me over (even if it is Joyce who always does the actual inviting), after I turned him down last fall when he asked me to help him with his work (and, maybe, even before that, which I hadn't really paid any attention to previously). He'd rather not have me come to visit, I want to think, that's his way of getting back at me, I feel he's being passively vindictive, he's hurt and sees no reason why he should associate with me, he feels rejected and as if I don't like him.

In any case, I see this attitude (if it really exists) as being fair-play turn-around: I got fed up with the way that (I perceived that) he had been taking advantage of me and I acted to resist this behavior. Although it made me feel a bit uneasy and subsequently remorseful, I felt, and still do feel, that it had to be done. This, in turn, made Jim feel badly, not only because (I conclude, or theorize) his denial caused (and still causes) unwarranted feelings of rejection and disrespect, but also because he felt (with some justification) that he could no longer rely on me (which is my affect that was the result of his unreliability being placed back where it belonged, on his own shoulders).

Or, in other words, the ball is now in his court again. He, rather than I, now feels badly (or uncomfortable, or whatever it is he's feeling, if he's actually feeling anything; i.e., if he's aware of feeling it or successfully repressing it), not because of what I did, but because of what he initiated through his chronic irresponsibility and undependability. The world (of affective behavior) is right side up again. And if that means that I am less his loving brother, well, so be it. I don't believe I am, I believe that I am all the more so for acting in as gentle a way as possible. I could have just out and out told him how I thought that his drinking and his callous behavior was causing problems not only for himself, but for others as well; but I settled for a more subliminal object lesson, hoping that a more unconscious message might find less resistance than a blatant one. I am, therefore, more "caring" (although I have to admit that I did act out of a selfish motive, no longer wanting to feel disrespected by the way he was treating me), I think, by heading him in the direction he needs to go to be a better person. But, whatever.

So, anyway, finally, it's New Year's Day. Not that this day has real any significance for me. Other than it ends my "twelve days of Christmas." Not that that has any real significance for me either. Other than, in my compromise with society, I think of it as the culmination of my "Pagan" celebration that begins on December 21st, a period of time that I hold in common with the Christian world, but celebrate for very different reasons.

I consider this day my end/beginning of the old/new year's anti-festivities, a time when I don't actually do anything differently, but (attempt to) think of (my) life differently; and for a few moments here and there I actually do. It's a vacation from my vacation way of life, a time for meditation, which I tend to take a bit more seriously than at other times of the year, when I might realize (as I have once again done) how to make my life work a little bit better:

I never make any New Year's resolutions. (I feel that, if I need to do something, I'll do it, at the moment I think of it, or shortly thereafter, via goal setting and planning. Waiting for the new year is counterproductive, or at best delaying; and I delay enough as it is already.) Yet it seems like it always turns out that the "new year" (from December 21st onward) initiates resolved action all on its own, the result of having taken a few steps back, relaxed, and gotten a fresh view on my life. Despite my antipathy toward the social phenomenon of an arbitrarily decided calendar that starts a new year two weeks too late, I may have stumbled onto a "natural" life re-booting method anyway:

New Year's Day is not the start of the real new year; but it's the last day of the holiday break, which serves as a festival of release and regeneration, after which we start all over again. So, maybe there is some wisdom, after all, in convention. [You have no idea how much it rankles me to have to admit to that.]

campaign strategy

But there's still a lot to be said for a non-conventional mentality:

I'm traveling throughout Penn Hills, unenthusiastically campaigning for an unknown presidential candidate. At a staff meeting at the fire hall, before a campaign rally that is scheduled there for later in the day, the candidate, who looks like a cross between Kucinich and Nader, asks me why I'm working for his campaign. I tell him it's because he's the lesser of two evils (by which I mean that the evils are not between him and the other candidate--who is paradoxically not running for president, but for township "coach"--but between the two people that he himself is). He's disappointed that I feel this way and wants to know why. I tell him that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. This makes him incredibly sad and I start to feel sorry for him; but I suddenly realize that his sadness is a political maneuver to make me feel empathy for him so that he can retain my support. I tell him I see through his ploy and I quit his campaign. But, outside the building, I am overcome with waves of regret and misery, because, not only did working for him mean that I supported him, but that he also supported me. I look across the street down between the houses to my brother's house, and I realize that these feelings are not about the candidate, but about my brother. This makes me feel better, because I already know how to handle those feelings since I've been doing it all my life. I continue on, traveling through the township, now campaigning for myself for township coach, although I have no supporters and no flyers and other campaign paraphernalia with which to conduct my campaign. As I walk down Rodi Rd., I wonder how I can possibly ever manage to get any votes at all, let alone win. Traffic on the road whizzes by at abnormally high speeds, threatening me and making my walk seem very dangerous, so I decide to make the primary focus of my campaign traffic safety, because the speeding cars and trucks are, sooner or later, going to kill a pedestrian, several of whom are walking along in various directions, apparently oblivious to the danger. This is a major enlightenment for me: These people, as soon as I make it known what my campaign platform is based on, will instantly become my loyal supporters. One of the cars speeding by is a black limousine. Just as it passes me, it blows a front tire and skids almost out of control into a parking lot, which just happens to be that of E.W. Tires. I hurry into the lot to confront the driver about his driving safety issue. The back door of the limo opens and Bill Clinton gets out. He smiles at me in his charismatic way and I forget all about my campaign and decide to support him. But he tells me he's not running and that I should support his wife, who gets out of the car behind him. She's wearing a skirt, which rides up as she exits the limo, and I can see the undercarriage chubbiness contained by her pantyhose and panties. She sees that I'm looking and smiles. I feel guilty, not because she sees me, but because I'm looking past Bill at her. But then I think, why should I feel bad? This guy cheats on his wife. Hillary says, "It's lucky that we got a flat here," meaning in front of the tire place, but also meaning, as a secret message to me, that she happened to meet me. I accompany them into the tire shop, as if I'm conducting a local tour for them. I become their local tour manager. Cut to:

640: I'm escorting Bill and Hill [which is what I start to call her when I realize that she's morphed into a combination of Hillary, Eileen, the woman who lives across the street, and a woman who lives up on the hill] up the front steps and into my gardens, intent upon showing them off. I explain each "crop" as we approach it; but, around the back, I intentionally avoid showing them the hardy kiwis, explaining everything else except them. As we walk along, Bill out in front, Hill following him, and me behind her, I watch her butt with her tight skirt stretched across it. She turns around several times and catches me and smiles. Out front again, Hill sees the kiwis growing off at the side of the porch and she asks what they are. I explain them to her. She says she thought kiwis were a tropical fruit, so I explain the difference between the tropical and hardy varieties, telling her that they are very sweet. (I overly emphasize the word.) She remarks that she saw them in the backyard too, but I don't respond, feeling guilty for not having pointed them out earlier. We go inside and I start showing them the house, but Hill announces that all she's interested in seeing is the bedroom. So we head toward the bedroom. As we approach it, she runs ahead, jumping onto the bed like Minnie Driver in Grosse Point Blanke. As she lands on the bed, her skirt rides up like it did when she got out of the limo, except more so, so that it is entirely up around her waist. She holds her legs up in the air and wiggles them. I want to crawl onto the bed beside her, but I'm intimidated by Bill's presence. He sits down on a chair beside the bed as Hill beckons me to join her. I'm still hesitant, but she explains, "It's okay. He likes to watch." So I crawl onto the bed and start to remove her clothes, pantyhose first. As I do, she writhes around on the bed. After she's completely naked and I'm about to climb on top of her, she suddenly bolts upright, grabs me by the shoulders, and turns us over so that I'm beneath her. Sitting on me, she announces, "I like to be on top." [Now who didn't know that?] I feel her incredibly warm softness against me, pressing down on me, and I observe her wide hips, pudgy stomach, chubby thighs, and huge breasts, bigger than I would ever have imagined, as she moves on top of me. Bill sees the remote control for the tv and turns it on as election results are just starting to come in. [This is a bleed-through from reality: the tv is on as I sleep and I'm semi-lucidly aware that it's announcing the Iowa caucus results.] The reporter declares that Obama has won. Hill's mood does a one-eighty at the announcement. Before, she was moving around on me rapidly and joyously, but now she moves slowly, hardly moving at all. She lays her body down against me, her breasts pressed tight against my chest. I wrap my arms around her torso and squeeze her as hard as I can as she comes, several times. Then she rolls off me and lies beside me, softly crying. Finally, she pulls herself up so that her face is level with mine and she kisses my lips so very softly and sweetly. She whispers, "You taste like kiwis." As she gets up and gets dressed, she tells Bill that they have a lot of work to do before New Hampshire. He says nothing, but just nods his head. She shoots me one last long sweet look as she exits the room, and Bill, behind her, turns and smiles and whispers, "Thanks."

I awaken feeling an incredible sadness that Hillary lost. And I think, wtf? What do I care if Hillary wins or loses? Then it pops into my head that I'm not sad about her losing, but about her leaving me (i.e., me losing her). It's a kind of faux-nostalgia, as if my longtime best friend and lover has gone away. And, whereas before the only reason I wanted to Hillary to win was to see Bill back in the White House, now I want her there because...well...not for political reasons. Obama is a better man than she'll ever be. (Woohoo, watch it, dude. That kind of humor is a slippery slope.) But I'll be so sorry now not to see her in the news every day (i.e., in the subjective, if she would lose the primary or the general election), I'll miss her cute little chipmunk face so much. And her incredible sweetness and softness! Wow! Who knew? Hillary, the sexpot, bedding constituents for their votes, with Bill watching on the sidelines. Now wouldn't that be one hell of a campaign strategy. But, again, I feel a certain sadness, to think that she might have sex with someone other than me. And Bill, of course. Hmmm. I wonder. I'm suddenly reminded of Sigourney Weaver in Dave. Fantasy is a terrible thing to waste. I should be out and about trying to improve society instead. But...

larger than life

This is how I am, this is the way that God, or nature, made me. Why should I feel guilty or ashamed because I am the way I am? Look it up: These are the symptoms of difability2 that inhabit me. You (NT) people don't feel guilt or shame for being how you are. You are made the way you are made and act according to type. So why shouldn't I also act according to my own peculiar type? Still, though, I'd like to live in an organized and orderly house. And I do, to an extent, though it does get away from me at times.

When a "disability" is as widespread and broad-spectrumed as autism in all of its manifestation appears to be, then you've got to stop thinking of it as a disability and start thinking of it as a minority class.

My problem with not "fitting in" is not my problem, but society's. I was born this way, what's your excuse (for treating people like me as if we are ill)? If you cannot accept and incorporate people like me into your society, then you're the one with the problem. Societies that exclude people, any people, are sick societies. They're the ones who need to be "cured," not the people who are different by birth.

You, oh society, are so obviously wrong-headed, and so obviously vain and banal, that it's impossible for me to think too badly of myself for not having been able to fit in, though that is exactly what you have always wanted me to do. You want me to be a good little citizen and do everything in the same way that everyone else does (though they really don't, though that's what you want everyone to do). You want me, at the least, to participate, to admit that your system is legitimate. You would even have me vote.

But I will not vote for anyone who acts in the "childish" and deceitful ways that politicians typically act. And, since all politicians must act that way in order to get elected and remain in office... I want mature adults in office, grown-ups, who act like grown-ups. I don't want a bunch of back-stabbing, fact-spinning, money-grabbing, favor-peddling, slime-oozing, sleaze-schmoozing, game-playing, multi-faced Machevelians representing me. That's not who I am and that's not who I would elect. And, since all politicians must act that way in order to get elected and remain in office...

Mankind is a hierarchy of types, the higher levels being represented by peace-seeking diplomats, level-headed doctors who do not (overly) participate in the drug-addled pharmaceutical system and act genuinely to try to understand and help their patients, cloistered researchers and academics dedicatedly trying to improve human knowledge and understanding, etc.

And the lower levels are represented by mindless examples [some jocks, many sports reporters, and most sports fans; machomen--and now machowomen; party animals; stupid cunts who lift their shirts for beads and cameras and chug shooters and allow men to fuck them silly, which they hardly if at all even remember, let alone enjoy; corrupt politicians and government officials; murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and other various types of perverts; fanatic terrorists; etc., the list is endless] of a (sub-)human species that has always existed and perhaps, incorrigibly, always will.

Actually, people can exist in both of the above categories, acting in different ways under differing circumstances; but, generally, sober, high-minded people (fundamentalists excepted; I'm talking about intelligent people here, not those with mind-locked, black and white, steel-trapped mindsets) do not act stupidly, but reserve their activities, protect their public images, and work in the background, avoiding the narcissistic trap of (even minor) celebrity to promote a betterment of self and society. (There's a certain amount of projection here: I am not at all a celebrity; but if I should become one, I'm certain I would fall prey to the most negative aspects of the phenomenon and lower my hierarchy status significantly.)

Celebrities (or anyone, really; but especially any celebrity--Hillary, for example) seem to be larger than life; but they're not, really. (Icons can be very small). They're just like me. (And even I can seem to be larger than life, a fact that I capitalize on all the time when I realize that others sometimes see me in that way. And, in a different way, I am larger than life, in a way that a lot of people, even Hillary perhaps, may not understand and so may come to think that I am someone important, like a celebrity, when I am in fact not. Actually, I am an anti-celebrity in this regard.) We're all really pretty close to the same size, more or less (except for people who look like Sally Struthers, Kirstie Alley, Star Jones, et al. used to look) and our disguises end up hiding this truth, especially from ourselves. Therefore, I can access celebrities like I access anyone, "psychically," and literally if I would ever happen to meet them.

Don't let them do it to you, don't let them convince you that they are greater, or better, or more significant than you are. They'll do it if you let them get away with it; but, in actual fact, you have every bit as much influence as they do, though you may fail to exercise it or hide it away and pretend that it doesn't work, that what you think and say doesn't travel around the world and affect the psychic weather like a butterfly's fart in China creates hurricanes in the Atlantic. We're all larger than life, if only we will know it. We're all interconnected and influencing each other all the time. And it's never a coincidence when we think that something happens that has nothing to do with us. And nowhere is this more obvious than in our dreams:


I'm driving a small, two-seat convertible along Hulton Rd. down beyond Community Market at the place where a road cuts off over to Rte. 911. db is in the seat beside me. It starts to rain and I stop and get out to put the top up. A girl beside the road watches as we open a large umbrella and put it over the car. Sitting across the road, db starts drawing on a large sheet of paper. [In a different sense, this is a parallel dream at the same place that occurs at the same time both before and after this part of the dream.] The artwork is a complexity of colored lines that db calls "noodling." Half-awakening, I decide I want to make art like that, and collages of overlaid decoupage images that I imagine are similar, though when I fully awaken, I realize they are not; but in the half-dream there was some kind of identity that I now do not recognize.

The next afternoon, I see a tv show where a guy catches huge catfish by hand by feeling around on the river bottom for holes where catfish might be hiding and wiggling his fingers to try to entice the fish to feed on them (because catfish will feed on practically anything), when he then grabs them by the bottom lip and reaches his fingers into their gills. He calls this fishing method "noodling." Coincidence? yeah, probably. Probably as much of a coincidence as reading or seeing a tv program about autism and thinking that the content applies accurately to my life (like I always tend to think that schizophrenia or manic depressive content applies); they all do apply, usually, but it's coincidence nonetheless, no one is "out there" sending me "messages" so that I might become better aware. And yet I continually discover new ways that I have been discriminated against. I always knew I was discriminated against, I felt it; but I never knew quite how. But tv, despite its banal programming, goes a long way to dispelling the ignorance.

cold turkey later on

I used to think that tv was just stupid; and now I realize how far downhill it has gone since then. Living without a tv is, maybe, my next level of detachment. It would certainly increase the quality of my input, when I would have no choice but to fill up my input time with meditation (contemplation), reading, searching the internet for "quality" news, etc. Radio is perhaps an option, and maybe I could use it to fill time, and that might be an improvement if I were listen to jazz and classical music; but if I used it for the news or "popular" entertainment (it's hard to classify typical radio music, at least in this market, as popular when there is so little choice among content between the monocultural stations that have taken over the airwaves and popular choices might differ considerably from what is actually presented), then I doubt that it would be of any higher quality than tv, though I would get to hear (as I do not now, because I don't listen to the radio at all) the very few new songs that come out that are actually worthwhile. (I wonder if they're still making them, or if the corporate capitalist system has driven all good music so far underground that it never reaches any of the airwaves. I should do a thorough search of the internet for indy stations that just might be playing any new good stuff.)

When the change-over to digital tv occurs, if I get any kind of a hard time at all re getting coupons for converters, then that's it. I renege. I opt out. No more tv for me. As it is, I'm already experiencing a kind of hard time: I went online to sign up for the coupons and discovered that, yeah, you can sign up now, but the coupons you get are only good for three months, and is anyone selling converters yet; and if they are, is it wise to get one so early and be unable to test it out and then discover next year that it doesn't work but be unable to return it because too much time has gone by?

The coupon system is already compressing the window of opportunity down significantly. If you are a wise consumer, you should wait until at least the end of this year, but probably within three months (or even less) of the onset date for digital tv would be the wisest; and this will be the time when competition for coupons and bureaucracy will be at it's highest. I can foresee a lot of analog customers being squeezed by delays, deciding simply to junk their analog sets, and going out and buying new digital ones. Which is probably the whole point of the coupon system. I want a coupon without an expiration date; or with an expiration date that is at least a year beyond the onset date. This all sounds like one vast corporate conspiracy to me. Opting out of tv altogether just might be the sanest thing to do, and it strikes a minor blow against corporate monocultural capitalism too.

I should probably try doing without tv for a while now, to see how it goes, to see how deeply ingrained my addiction really is, to measure the effects of the emptiness of time without it, and to chip at its addictive nature instead of having to go cold turkey later on. I'd miss those few quality programs, though, The Lehrer report, for example. But I can probably find some version of it on the net. In fact, I'm sure I can; so it wouldn't be so much a withdrawal as a change of venue. And, without tv, I could devote much more time to entertaining myself by writing out my own little dramas based on the stories and plots I dream up:

the further adventures of Bill and Hill

"I like being a pessimist. It helps me deal with my inevitable failure."
Edward Burns, The Brothers McMullen
We're in a mall, Bill, Hill, and I. Outside one of the stores is a miniature golf course that Bill becomes interested in. He starts to putt and soon all three of us are doing it. The scene morphs to an outdoor green at a chip and putt course. Hill and I are trying to beat Bill, to score higher than him; but we can't. He gloats over his superior skills and we recognize that winning, at anything, means a whole lot to him; but, in his striving for golfing perfection, he doesn't lose his sense of humor or his sensitivity toward others' needs like so many other people do. I make a mental note to learn this lesson from him. Cut to:

We're walking toward an outdoor mall in a place like East Liberty, though it is far more upscale. Our car (my old Tercel) is parked in a parking garage. We can see it immediately adjacent to the street, but we can't get to it until we go farther up the street to a counter where we have to pay. Bill stays behind as Hill and I go to pay; but at the counter, when Hill tries to use her credit card, it is denied because it's over its limit. She can't understand it, she knows it is not over the limit, and she asks the girl to try it again. The girl, who is more than a bit flabbergasted that Hillary is here in her presence in the first place, runs the card again, with the same results. I say, never mind, we'll pay cash. But the two of us together don't have enough money. We say that we'll have to get the money from Bill and the three of us go back to where he's waiting. While we were walking to the counter together, I felt like, being without Bill, Hill and I were on a "date." As we return, the girl with us thinks this too and wonders about it; but to herself. We find Bill at the entrance to the parking garage, which is now a recessed sidewalk restaurant. Bill is sitting at a table. We sit down with him. The girl is our waitress and we order a meal. Cut to:

I'm in an auditorium with Cecelia. We're in high school and on a sort of date (just to get to know each other, because she's wary of, not only me, but the dating process in general and deathly afraid of sex). We get two seats near the front (which are not meant to be sat in, but stood in front of) and Cecelia says she'll be back in a minute and she goes off, I assume to the bathroom. Carol shows up and "stands" with me. She's always liked me and wants to stay with me through the performance we're about to see. I like this idea, but I worry what Cecelia will think when she returns. I like them both and want to be with both of them, for very different reasons, and I can't make up my mind. I like how Cecelia is so innocent, but maybe I like more the fact that Carol is not. When Cecelia returns, she's with a guy, which throws me for a bit until I realize that the guy is meant for Carol, and they go off together. Before the performance, we, as a special part of the audience, are supposed to paint the seats. I mix up a small sample of a special paint, which ends up brown, which was not the color I wanted to mix; but I try it anyway, to test the mixing process. But the paint begins to gel as I'm painting it onto the seats, leaving heavy patches that are too dry to smooth out. And the paint in the paper cup is thickening to a point where I can hardly use it. And it's starting to heat up, apparently from the mixing process. It's a kind of epoxy paint that heats when mixed and now it's almost too hot to handle and is starting to melt through and leak out of the paper cup. I hurry to paint other seats before it gets too hot and leaks away; but the paint I apply is all glommed up and lumpy. By this time, the performance has ended and Cecelia is nowhere to be found. I'm in front of the low stage and one of the performers is explaining his performance. He's a Christian performer, he says; but I know that he's really not.

I awaken with the typical dread, which carries with it a different bent: cabin fever. I want to get up and get out, even though I recognize that to break my hibernation now would be totally impractical and counterproductive. When I finally get out of bed and go out into the cold house, it's twenty-five degrees outside and snowing heavily, with an inch of snow already on the ground. I get a quick cup of coffee, check the stocks on the internet, and hurry back to the warm bedroom. There's no better cure for cabin fever than a dreary, blustery, sub-freezing winter day.

I've been successfully fighting it until now, but my usual winter attitude and affect has finally settled in hard. All of the separate "problems" I've been managing to ignore are ganging up and whispering in my ears, informing me that doom and gloom is just around the corner. Roof leaks that threaten indoor wetness, phone service changes that threaten significantly increased costs, and stocks that keep threatening to go lower and lower are starting to depress me.

I suffer: The leaks will ruin my house beyond repair and I am an asshole for having allowed the problem to go on for a long as it has (despite having attempted to fix it many times); my phone service will be cancelled, I won't be able to get another any where nearly as cheap, and I will not have internet access (unless I pay an exorbitantly higher cost); the value of my stocks will continue to drop and I will lose all that money (even though I know this isn't true);

And it goes on and on: The greed of corporations will succeed in entrenching itself across the face of the Earth (if it hasn't already) and will leave no place where one can hide from its ubiquitous outreach; terrible wars and police actions will (continue to) occur, eventually micromanaged to kill off each of us who protest, in small groups and, finally, one by one, until the only dissenters left will keep their heads down and act as if they are obedient citizens.

I will die. This is not right. None of it, the way we live, and apparently so willingly. We go along with it all, feeling so helpless to affect the outcome, hiding in our homes, afraid to challenge the might of those in charge; or, when we do challenge it, we recognize how totally ineffective we really are. This is not the way we are meant to live, cowering and afraid; unless we are "patriots" and agree with everything that is done, we are outcasts, set apart.

Roofs should not leak; corporations should not be allowed to fuck with the public utilities in their increasingly tightening quest for profits; government incompetence and corporate greed (always the real reason that stocks drop, but impossible to track) should not cause market sell-offs; everyone should have access to the means of (democratic) expression of their ideas; and then there is my own personal, end-of-the-world nightmare, for which I take full responsibility.

But none of this measures up to the bigger picture of what should not be: You have your own complaints and nightmares and, in one way or another, they're all related to the greed of the rich (or else you yourself are rich and blaming your problems on the poor) and the incompetence and/or unwillingness of the government to do anything about it. Let's face it: Only you can do something about it. The solution to all of your problems is in your own hands:

At the very least, stop participating. (It's the only way, really.) Opt out, as much as possible. Do not support the corporo-governmental complex. Above all, stop voting. If the citizens who vote drop to thirty or twenty percent, the message would become very clear. But you won't do these things. You won't act in your own best interests. You're too fat. So stop complaining. Stop projecting your problems onto others. You're all a bunch of whiners. (Me too.)

I'm beginning to understand, I think, how anxiety, once it takes hold as a result of unexpected change, can deteriorate into depression when I decide that I can't or don't want to do anything about the change that I consider to be a negative turn of events. I could negate the affect via developing and executing action plans; but I don't want to, at least not while it's so cold. All I want to do is huddle up and hide away; but it's no fun if all I do is worry.

But I can't allow the demons to overtake me, I've got to do something, put up some kind of a defense; which turns out to be...ta da!--writing about it all (or at least thinking about what I might write). If everything is so, so goddam bad, then the end of the world must be near. I mean, you can't escape that kind of logic. But it helps, realizing that all of my petty problems are ridiculous if the Terminator nightmare begins and/or my very life is somehow threatened.

I have to start looking on the bright side: I don't have to cut the grass and trim the hedges for at least three or four more months; but, then again, that time is coming and will only add to my terrible woes. So much for the bright side. You can't get there from here. Either you're on the bright side or you're not. It's not a matter of cognitive discipline, but one of body chemistry, a point for the argument for pharmaceutical manipulation of the state of the psyche.

But, no. Let's not go there. Coffee and beer is enough. Not so good, but a baseline maintenance to get me by. There will be a time when I will have to/want to act. Till then, I scan my ever-growing list of things to do. Tasks I have to/want to do jump right out at me. Or else they don't and I keep looking, entranced. And I put in my daily time doing daily things. Marking time until the right time comes along. When all at once everything all falls into place. That mode of being lasts for such a short time. But it's the very state I work for, day by day. Each small task done moves the bar a tiny bit. Each complaint resolved (in my mind) helps. Meanwhile, I suffer, struggling with opinions. I know they are my own. (They always are.) But I attribute them to society; we are all social:

Whatever criticism that "society" might have of me, I have good excuses for: What do you want from me already? I'm suffering here. I have a serious spinal problem (ankylosing spondylitits) and a genetic disability (Asperger's syndrome). I'm barely coping here. Although I may overplay my hand with these conditions, using them as much as excuses as real reasons, nevertheless they are real conditions. And there is the idea that, maybe, in my own mind, I underplay them, not wanting to admit how disabled I actually am. I have all of my life striven to act as if not a thing is wrong with me, even when it was. I even played down my heart rhythm problem (atrial fibrillation), even when I was hospitalized for it. I've always insisted that I was healthier than I actually am. I never wanted to be impaired in any way and I developed the habit of putting up a perfectly normal front to hide any difficulties, often even from myself. I never took advantage of my "conditions." But maybe I should; or at least maybe I should admit to them to the degree that they do inhibit my social functioning. So, leave me alone, you assholes. I'm a "sick" person. [I still don't want to see myself in that way; and I won't. I like being an optimist. It helps to prevent me from failing via self-fulfilling prophecies. But I'll keep this idea in the back of my mind, just in case I ever need an excuse for being less than you expect of me.]

nowhere else to go

You do expect a lot of me, whether you know it or not. You always have. You expect me to be like you when I am not. You expect me to conform. multiplicity of the human species, each of you, wanting something slightly different, yet always pretty much the same, to be like you; even those of you who are different yourself. I don't understand it, really. I don't understand how anyone would want anyone to be like them; I don't want anyone to be like me.

You want me, for example, to live like you do, in pairs. But I've tried that, most of my life looking to couple up, never having found it to my liking, always feeling compromised by the necessity of allowing her to be herself. Yet I still look, and fantasize, that I might one day be half of something better.

Men and women are continually sizing each other up as potential mates, though they most of the time do not think of most of their relationships in that way, preferring to repress the behavior in favor of more "sociable" interpretations. A negative decision may occur rather early on, ruling out any possibility of sex; but when it does not and sex never happens (I think saying that it happens is a more accurate description of the process than saying that people choose to have sex; at best, what most people choose is to allow their taboos against it to drop, some more easily than others), then the idea of it happening at some point in the future is always there, somewhere more or less in the back of the mind, waiting for the right (or wrong) opportunity, always looking for my ideal, yet always willing to compromise.

The kind of woman I like best is she who isn't aware of the import of her sexuality and, at the very least, doesn't use it to her own personal and socially imposed agendas. It seems, paradoxically in this "liberated" age, that what has been liberated is not so much a woman's social and political power, but her sexual prowess and her ability to exhibit it fully and promiscuously. I mean, we knew this; but I never realized the extent to which it dominated what should have been a more "advanced" movement. Anyway, those few women who do not participate in this farce, but who are nevertheless, perhaps because they have been raised in this "liberated' atmosphere and have assimilated it without conscious question, are totally endearing to me in their unconscious yet not-so-innocent innocence (especially if they are also not caught up in the standard postmodern appearance of "beauty" that pervades the monoculture via the media).

But despite my wayward "taste" in women, the ongoing search is, of course, nevertheless a standard biological imperative, a motive, having once recognized it, that I will never heretofore be without; and yet that other imperative, the genetic disposition, conflicts with it, producing a divided self. It's a condition not unlike the whole of the human race:

My response to "abuse" (there is a sense in which this is not abuse, but is the natural competitive hierarchy of the human race and of life in general) by elitist power people and conglomerate (corporate and governmental) power entities is to withdraw and hide from it as much as possible, and if possible even to negate its influence in my life by totally withdrawing my participation, such as when I cancelled cable tv when they kept raising rates in a captive, non-competitive environment. And now they're doing it again, under the guise of providing a "better" service, digital tv, and conning people into believing that they're giving them something better. Actually, they are providing something better; but they're taking advantage of that fact to wring a little bit more money out of the public, in subscription rates, equipment costs, and public funding. They're going to make a whole lot more money off of the change, especially when in time they end up eliminating the less "advanced" services, eventually doing away with broadcast tv altogether, so that, if we want tv at all, we'll have to pay for it.

The same thing is happening with phone service as they eliminate the cheapest options--which is what Comcast is doing in my area right now, forcing me to either go with another company or subscribe to one of their more pricey alternatives. I'm facing a minor "moral" crisis here: My obvious response to the Comcast (and presumably all other telecoms, at least eventually, since they must continue to compete) ploy to "upgrade" its service (what they're really upgrading is service cost to consumers) is to opt out altogether, thereby further reducing my postmodern attachment and economic burden. But I can't see how I can do without the internet, which means that, no matter what my decision is, my costs will soar, since the new costs will make dial-up and cable a near break-even proposition (assuming I eliminate my phone service). I should take advantage of this opportunity to further detach, but I want to be connected to the net. I mean, how can I not be on the internet, it's my primary (and, now, only) readership and means of publication.

So, my gut reaction is to want to opt out altogether. And I just might. (At the very least, I will switch companies so that Comcast will lose me as a customer.) The money that I would save by canceling my phone service (which I never use anyway except to access the internet) and dial-up internet connection almost pays for cable internet. Each time "they" tighten the financial screws, they "force" me to react by extracting myself a little bit farther out of their monocultural system: I no longer have a (legal) car; natural gas rate increases have caused me to heat my home with electric space heaters only in the area of the house that I am in and confine myself to my bedroom most of the time in the winter; and, soon, maybe, no tv at all; and maybe even no phone.

Can I even manage this? Maybe. I very much doubted that I could manage to do without a car, and I'm doing okay--although I do still drive my old car, though rarely, without a state inspection; but I know now that I could manage without it. I want to pare my life down to its bare essentials, to a point where my quality of life (which I define quite a bit differently than society does when it wants to include frivolous things like tv, phone service, automobile transportation, heat, etc.) is improved. (I'm being a bit sarcastic here, but I'm really thinking about quality improvements like reading and meditating instead of watching tv, growing food crops instead of buying processed foodstuffs, etc.)

In addition to this strain of increasing "cultural" infringement upon the individual (psyche), there is the technological aspect: More and more the elitist power brokers and petty government officials are able to apply technology to invade our personal space. The electronic devices we use and take for granted are becoming increasingly two-way. The volume of information as we get from "them" soon will not compare to that which they get from us. It may already have tipped, especially when you consider that the quality of the information that we get is rapidly decreasing. The monocultural pap we are being fed (via media consolidation, diminished net neutrality, and filtered content) is turning us into good little zombie citizens who all tend to think the same thoughts and willingly stand in the same metaphorical corporate lines to receive our pittance of pay and mental pablum. Fuck it. I'm fed up with it all. I want out. But there is nowhere else to go. Except inside my mind. And that's okay by me.

Meanwhile, life goes on. I have to keep reminding myself to be objective, to avoiding remaining caught up in the poor-me attitude I seem to want to develop. Every possible outcome has an upside: Hillary gets elects, Bill will be back in the White house; she doesn't get elected, she's just another sleazy politician; Obama gets elected, the Fourth Turning begins again (which may be the case even if Hillary wins); the Republicans win, I get to bash the administration for four more years (which I get to do anyway if the Democrats win).

On other fronts, environmental clean-up and ecological improvements (a wide range of issues) indicate that society and the species is heading in right direction; further environmental degradation (a long list of particulars) suggest the further development of the Terminator nightmare where the world gets what it deserves. [The point, you see, is that I can't lose. Any alternative, if I define it in that way, plays into the expectations I create; because I too can play the expectations game.] Pharmaceuticals, processed foods, food additives, etc. represent one of the highest achievements of technological innovation; or, these substances are slowly poisoning the species (but, to a far lesser degree, they are not poisoning me, because I live a non-standard lifestyle).

So, I can stand back and watch as the societies of the world slowly head toward their ultimate tribulation as the masses get sick and die off. [Except if they're dumping it in my drinking water, which, in fact, they are. But this will not be publicly known for more than a year, because they hide this crap from us for a long as they possibly can, so that, when the information is finally released, they can go with the argument that, well, it all happened so long ago; things are not like that today. Because the past is always the past and people have short memories and expect the best out of their present. Well, many of them do. I do too; but I try not to let it blind me to the truth.]

Either we are the advanced manifestation of blessed creatures that we always want to think we are or we are a hierarchy of human and sub-human types struggling for dominance among ourselves, uncertain of which aspect of our existence will win the future. Either way, I'm okay with it. Live long and prosper or die out and fade into oblivion. I don't care. Unless, of course, they discover a cure for death and allow me to afford it. This same argument can be applied to any issue: Unless it affects me directly, I don't care; and even thenÖthere are alternatives. My future is flexible, despite my predisposition that tries to keep me rigid and unyielding. I will adapt, albeit slowly and cautiously, my mentality leading the way as I try to figure out ahead of time which course will be the best (or the least worst) for me to follow.

the only way

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you
Ten Years After
From the moment that life is recognized
as good, it becomes good for all men.
Camus, The Rebel
Following up on the theme of societyís abuse of the individual, I come up with the a new catchphrase: "This is not right." By this I mean that everything is not right, the society at large, the political machinations of immoral people who pretend at being the epitome of the opposite, the base animal nature of man (although that I can at least understand, how people can be like that), and dozens of other things.

I want to look into people's eyes/souls, reveal myself for what I truly feel and think, without a word; then choose my terse verbal expression to characterize their essence in a way that hits home in an immediately experiential way, without the intervention of a consensual social language of "politeness" that allows them a comfort of denial.

"I've always liked you. I enjoy watching you interact with people. But what you're doing is so very wrong."

If you think life is good, you must respect all human life and refuse to harm or kill anyone for any reason, because even the most heinous murderer's life is, in some way, good and to execute him or her would be to waste that good portion; not to mention the injustice that would be involved.

This same argument extends to all people for any "mistreatment": You can't, for example, disregard the plight of the poor, for any reason. Typically, we can disregard the poor by believing that they are beneath us and so do not deserve our attention, support, and care. But if they embody even a little bit of good, then, by definition, we must take care of them. Ditto the handicapped or disabled or diseased or whomever.

All people have value that must be allowed to be expressed, honored, and supported. If you do not believe this, then, despite what you (specifically politicians) may claim, you do not truly believe that all life is good. And then, by implication, you do not believe that you are good; because, when you divide the human population up into good and bad (as opposed to good and bad existing within each individual), you open yourself up to inevitable projection of your own bad onto those others whom you choose to define thusly. In other words, you are self-deceived by your attempt to distribute good and bad between individuals when each exists within us all, the degree of each impossible to calculate: You think you are so good, so much better than those "bad" people, because you choose to repress the bad that you are.

[Your logic may go something like this: I know that I'm at least better than some people because I do not murder anyone while some other people do. But this stance ignores, for example, the fact that you supported George Bush's war effort that murdered many innocent Iraqis; and, for that support you bear at least some responsibility. You may substitute any example you wish here, there are lots of them, if perchance you happened not to support the Iraq war. And, anyway, even if you didn't support it, and even if you protested actively against it, did you pay your taxes? That's where they got the money for it. Without our taxes, there would be no war. Had you refused to pay your taxes, the war effort would have been reduced and your responsibility for it wiped out--assuming you didn't incur that responsibility in some other way also, which I'm sure you did; because, if you're an American, British, Polish (etc.) citizen, you are responsible, in one way or another.]

If you are self-deceived in this way, then how can you pass judgment on who should be killed, even in so "normal" a way as in a war or via capital punishment? Or, similarly, how can you decide who it is who should be eligible for social services, or whatever? Oh, I know, you leave those decisions to the bureaucrats. Well, how dare you allow them, then, to refuse to support those people in need? Who the fuck are you to relegate your neglect?

The litmus test for being qualified to make these kinds of social judgments, as an individual citizen (such as when voting) or as a citizens' representative, is : Do you believe that people have the right to kill other people? If you believe this, then you are, by definition, a bad person and are therefore unqualified to act socially, legislatively, or judicially.


Ernest Hemingway said, "The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
Morgan Freeman, Seven
If you believe that the world is a bad place (which is essentially the same as saying that humans are bad; because good and bad are human constructs and the rest of nature is neither good nor bad, but simply exists), then you are free to do whatever you damn well please. Which is exactly where we are right now as a species. So go ahead and kill whomever or whatever you want and stop fucking blaming other people for it. Yeah, I know, you're fighting for the salvation of the world. But, the real question is, are you winning? I don't think so. Fighting (and killing) in this way is not the solution to this problem, it's the cause of it; because all the sides are doing it, and they all believe themselves to be right. But the only right was demonstrated two millennia ago; and he said that we should turn the other cheek, and he meant that we should do that even if it means that we will be killed. Better to be killed than to kill. That is the only solution. You want to change the world? That is the only way.

I think we're all different on this bus.

Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are fools;
and the rest of them are in danger of contagion.
A sheriff on "The X-Files"
When have I contracted the good habit of giving my heart to these people just for their money? If I want their respect and my own, I must show them that it's my poverty that is dealing with their money, but my heart is a thousand miles away from their insolence, and in a sphere too far removed to be reached by their marks of distain or favor!
Stendhal, The Red and the Black
I no longer want to change the world; i.e., I do still want to, but I recognize the futility. In my (mostly unconscious) attempts at world-change, I have acted out (anger motivated by repressed hurt) and later ended up regretting my actions. So about ten years ago, I wrote myself a new rule: Don't act precipitously. All of the times that I can remember that I've acted this way have been mistakes whereby I've called attention to (my involvement in) events that would have been better left unattended. Some of this was done out of guilt (repressed anger, trying to justify my involvement), but most of it was done out of an idealistic sense that things were just not right and needed to be rectified. No more. Let the world be, I say. Leave it alone. It's fucked beyond all rehabilitation. Make your own small place and live your own idealistic life, apart from all the madness. Life's too short.

Nevertheless, I can't help thinking about what should be done:

The human species will never truly be free until all kings and potentates are deposed and replaced by effective democratic governments; and, then, all presidents are replaced by prime ministers who are representatives of an elected legislature that proportionally represents the citizenry. Because presidents, even within a "democratic" system that avows "checks and balances," have too much leeway to abuse their power. The legislature should be held in check instead by an elected judiciary and a legislatively ensconced press that makes its living revealing the truth behind the machinations of government. In this country, we have strayed so far from this ideal of a free press that we no longer know the truth about our government.

The "press" (media), in its role as stooge for corporate interest, aids and abets corruption in government. And it's the masses of the non-elite who suffer. Conservative government policy (and liberal appeasement) keep the masses in their place. (Yes, liberalism is almost as despicable as conservativism when it comes to disenfranchising the lower classes. It is not a caring attitude of equality and freedom to look at people as if they are so helpless and in need of handouts. It has its own elitist underpinnings.)

The poor are poor for a reason, and any "help" they are given must be designed to enable them to fend for themselves and compete more effectively within the mainstream system. Aid must be socially structural and rehabilitative, and not merely designed to keep people alive and frozen in place. I have to admit that I (sometimes) have the same attitude toward the poor that conservatives do. But it's okay if I despise the poor and ignorant peasants; but if government officials and elected representatives do it, it's a cardinal sin. My purpose is not to champion the disenfranchised in their plight; and, if I do, any effective benevolence I manage is just so much the better for them. It is, however, the government's purpose, in fact the very definition of its existence, to champion their cause, because bureaucrats and representatives should represent all citizens fairly and impartially; and when they don't, when they favor one group over another (such as when conservatives favor the elitist rich), they act with malfeasance.

I have to admit that I sometimes have a bad attitude, not only re the poor and disenfranchised people in society, but re society overall. I waver in my attempt to be so "proper" and right-thinking. I blame it on the "depression" caused by my difability. But I should keep in mind that I have a good attitude because I have a bad attitude. What I mean is that my "bad" attitude, my "depression," now keeps me out of the world, inside where I entertain it in positive (re my stress levels, though perhaps not socially--although, probably, society, if it thought about me at all, might also think it was a positive thing that I was separated from it); whereas, when I was out in the world every day overly stressing myself to make a living, I forced myself to have a "good" attitude, and then I came home, withdrew into a bad one, lost and alone in a ennui of futility. Now, by doing very little, but mostly only when I actually want to, I feel fulfilled and understand that it is by my own efforts and actions that I advance. I feel good about myself, even while doing nothing; because it is my choice. I don't have to worry about the poor, or about anything, if I choose not to; because the unfortunately people exist out there in a world that, for the most part, I could care less about. Actually, I do care, in theory, but not enough to do anything about it.

People (if they paid any attention to me at all) might ask me, when I complain about the "world," what I'm doing about it, which I just know some of them would think sometimes. My response would be, "I'm complaining." Complaints have currency. They may not be worth much, but at least they're better than accepting corrupt status quo situations and supporting regimes that engender them, regimes that are more than happy to let ordinary but right-minded people think that all the fucked-up stuff that's happening in the world is their own damn fault because they didn't act to do anything about it. In this way, the people with the power get to keep doing what they're doing while the little people feel all the guilt and take on all the blame.

As usual, I'm torn between extremes (social action v. total detachment). I want to influence world opinion ion the "right" direction, but I also want to have nothing at all to do with any of the disgusting mess. There is only one way (that I know of) to resolve this dilemma: small step by step; baby steps. If I just do one small thing, like taking the time to write out this explanation, that will be enough; or, if it isn't, too bad. Also as usual, when it gets to be too much, I go to bed and dream up a different kind of world:

Fairuza Balk, db, and I desperately search for a place where the three of us can be alone, so that we can "sleep" together; but we never find a place but instead exist each within ourselves, desiring. Cut to:

The confluence of three rivers and a wide stream. Much psychic (i.e., mental) power. (The water is like magic, but I don't realize this within the dream.) I want to continue the journey down stream. Cut to:

I am a closet theurgist (literally). I try to scry by looking into mirrors and liquids and crystals like sugar and salt; but I am unsuccessful. I see visions that I believe to be real life by looking at the world.

Give in to the higher powers and let them act for you, I think, awakening. But it's so difficult to do, awake. If society wants to use you, let it; meanwhile go about doing what you want to do. Stop trying so hard to figure it out. No one else does.

I can be sociable. I know how. I've taught myself well enough. The problem is that I can't sustain the effort; or, I can sustain the effort, but I don't want to. It's too demanding, it takes too much out of me.

The other day, I awoke out of an unusually recurrent and "friendly" dream about my old workplace where my old boss was acting beneficently toward me, tolerant and cooperative. (In fact, in real life, he believed that cooperation meant doing what he wanted me to.) And so, awake, I thought, well, maybe he was all right after all, maybe he was just like me, out of his depth and hanging on by his fingernails, hardly able to cope.

It's probably true; and yet, he's not like me at all. He was able to maintain a continuing "sociability" that he thrived on, whereas I am not; or, rather, I choose not to. But, no. It's not really a choice. My conscious choice is to act gregariously; otherwise I slip back into my pre-conscious state of withdrawal.

But, maybe, there is some other "condition" that he, my boss, had, different from mine, that handicapped him and made him act the way he did (vapid, unfocused, and overly concerned to the point of wasting huge amounts of other people's time via micromanagement and ultimate intolerance of workers' inability to cooperate), a condition not yet "discovered" by the psycho-medical community, like my hidden condition was for most of my life, while I "suffered" without knowing it.

Very possibly, everyone has some sort of condition, most of them as yet undiscovered. And, maybe, I projected my then hidden condition onto him; although he's not like me, he is nevertheless different enough from the social standard to allow me to criticize him as I would have criticized myself if I hadn't repressed my condition so well, thereby denying my own difference. If I had not been "different," or even if I had merely been aware of the difference earlier on, I might have gotten much farther along than I did.


Why aren't you farther along by now?
John Houseman, Three Days of the Condor
It's bad enough, I think, that, for all of my life, I've struggled for not knowing the true nature of my condition; but for the entirety of human history this same situation has been true, and in many different areas.

What the fuck have people, especially the professionals, been doing with their time? I mean, we're talking about, at the very least, more than ten thousand years! How fucking long do you need, for Christ's sake?

I'm being dramatic, of course. I already know the answer: People are lazy, superstitious cunts who will grasp onto any harebrained idea that requires the least effort to believe. Truth is just too much hard work.

To know the truth, you have to dig for it. Truth is not something thatís lying about on the surface. Actually, thatís not true. It is lying out in the open, obvious, for everyone to see. The problem is with people.

Intervening between the data that exist and the interpretation we place upon it is the human brain with its contortions and deceits. We go to a great deal of trouble to hide ourselves from the simple truth.

And then there is the more arcane, or should I say complex, kinds of truths that defy correct interpretation. There are all kinds of them, but Iím thinking specifically right now of the stock market.

No matter what analysts or the talking heads say, no matter how much you may like or agree with them, no one knows what the market and/or individual stocks are going to do. Itís just too complicated.

Because no one knows what will happen that will influence the market. When you buy stocks, you're gambling. Some bets are more intelligent than others, such as when you buy the stocks of companies with good fundamentals; and you can further hedge your bets by buying only stocks of good companies with high dividends so that, if they go down, you can wait them out while you earn a good interest on your original investment. But, still, it's more or less a gamble that they will go back up and make you an eventual large profit; because, in fact, you don't know what's going to happen, and neither does anyone else. And, as far as the overall economy goes (the tv "experts" tend to conflate the stock market and the economy, although they are hardly the same thing), no one can say, right now for example, if we are even in a recession. It will take many months of history to define it; so how can they zero in on how an individual stock will perform?

Iím fed up with the market (again). I hate waiting it out. Iím sorry I ever got back in. I forgot about the angst when times are tough. So I remand my market attention to second tier importance and turn instead to more fundamental concerns:

But, here again, I stumble on the truth: People have been making alcohol for just about as long as weíve been human. And maybe, once, a very long time ago, we did it in order to preserve fruits, grains, and vegetables, to prevent them from going bad. But now we have better means of preservation. So, now, we have to pretend that we make alcohol for more esthetic reasons. We must develop tastes.

But, basically, if you really want to know the truth, making beer, wine, and liquor out of grains, fruits, roots, herbs, etc. is just an excuse for turning sugar into alcohol. Yeah, people like the taste of various flavors of wine and prefer certain kinds; but if we were not able to make flavored alcohol, at all, if alcohol were just fermented sugar (which it is) and nothing else, do you think people would then not drink it because it didn't taste like they wanted it to? Connoisseurs, for all their sophistication (pretension), are merely alkys in disguise.

Truth is a difficult issue; but sometimes it jumps right out at you, sometimes you canít avoid it no matter how circuitous a route you try to take around it. For example, what are the odds of me moving into a neighborhood where the guy next door has the same illness (unknown of by me at the time) as me? That guy turned out to be an important object lesson for me as I watched him age and suffer from his disability. His example showed me what not to do.

And what are the odds that two chronic hoarders far worse off than I am should live in the same neighborhood? Watching them, the guy across the street with his back porch and yard filled with junk and the guy down the street with every area of his yard, driveway and house front lined with junk and bags of whatever, keeps me on my toes and out of the trap they've allowed themselves to get into.

But many people, despite the lessons that life sets up for them, are quite adept at avoiding the unavoidable and are adamant in their resistance to the truth. It is obvious to me that others in my situation would not have drawn the parallels. I base this judgment on my lifelong observations of people who go through life defiant in the face of truth and logic.

We would be much farther ahead as a species but for this inexorable trait of human nature. If we advance at all, we take baby steps when we should be advancing by leaps and bounds. Our progress is thwarted most profoundly by our inability to face the truth. We lock ourselves into tradition based on superstition and so fail to advance, except, if at all, so slowly that any given generation must give up hope for themselves and place it only in their offspring. As a species, we are heart and soul conservatives, when righteousness demands a progressive philosophy. But to hell with the suffering of others if we ourselves do not suffer. This is the way of the world. But, no; this is the way of human nature. The world does just fine without us.

Click on footnote number to return to that respective point in the text.
1. play on the three meanings of the word "scrub" (inferior, scour, and cancel) with 'shrubbery'
2. difability: different ability, a concept to replace disability. I am not disabled, I am differently abled.