Prayers of an Atheist
Okay. Major recovery efforts here. The recent computer disaster (virus/trojan slow-down/crash) was just the tip of the iceberg, or maybe I mean the final straw. Anxiety peaked with my realization that my computer virus protection software hadn't been turned on for at least six months and, doing a system scan, I discovered that the hard drive from the old computer that I installed as a second drive had all kinds of adware and spyware installed on it. The computer slowed to a point where it was all but unusable online and the traffic meter showed bandwidth usage even when I had no apps open. Suddenly, in a fit of panic, I realized that I was completely vulnerable and possibly the pending victim of identity theft; or worse, the loss of actual money.
[I'm not overly concerned with identity theft, except where money is involved. I mean, if someone otherwise wants to be me, more power to them. It's not like I've got this great reputation that I need to protect or anything. In fact, it's possible that stealing my identity could come back and bite an identity thief in the ass.]
Anyway, as serious as that all might be, it was just the start; or, maybe I mean the culmination. After a day and a half of sleep-deprived, driven work sessions trying to recover my computing ability on my pc, I made the (very rough and tough) decision to go out and buy a new laptop; because I have to have a computer, and I must be connected to the internet, at least for a while longer, and cost is hardly a matter. I have things I need to do online and my old laptop is not internet-capable. The inconvenience of non-internet banking and stock trading alone would be such a throwback; not to mention going to the store instead of buying online. Shit. I'd probably have to go and buy a legal car.
And I must have a phone, despite my desire to disconnect myself from the world to that additional degree; and Comcast is discontinuing their "cheap" service to my neighborhood, so I'm probably going to have to pay a lot more for phone service. So, I began to consider that maybe I should chuck it all and electronically disconnect.
But, in fact, if I really think about it sincerely, apart from my neurotic need to detach myself, I must have it all, a phone, a computer, a net connection, and, yes, maybe even the cable net and tv connection, because, just like in Fahrenheit 451 (read any good books lately?), the government needs to maintain its control over my thought processes, and how can I aid and abet that social intent without the most advanced communication devices?
So, the first thing I did, after I began to come to my senses and give up my anxiety-produced plans to do away with all things electronic and return to a post-stone age existence, was to go out and buy a new laptop, get re-connected to the net, and change all my passwords. I hope I got to them soon enough. Meanwhile, the anxiety that had been slowly building, mostly disregarded, for more than a month finally hit home full force and generalized to just about everything electronic and/or corporate, but especially telecoms (all of this fed by the very technological culture--i.e., "the media"--that my fantasy would banish from my life):
Meanwhile, Comcast, ignoring the writing on the wall, is plotting to squeeze every little bit of profit out of its existing customers; tv is going all digital, which will eventually crowd out broadcast stations altogether, paving the way for higher charges for cable and the sale of higher tech devices; corporations are scheming (I can just smell the rubber and hair burning in the brains of the techno-corporate types in boardrooms all across the country) to grab every last fraction of a cent and every little bit of power possible, while they scheme to introduce ersatz products and services for what we used to think were the real things, further propelling our world deep into the post-postmodern (totally artificial) twenty-first century, molding it ever closer to my Fahrenheit 451 fantasy.
Now, I feel like I have so much to do. Actually, I've always had so much to do. The problem isn't one of tasks and duties, but of perception. The computer "crash" just brought the "necessities" to the forefront: I have been neglecting "things" (life) too long, and now I must either play catch up and begin to get serious about organization and repair or abandon plans and junk supplies and equipment (which, no matter the nature of the materiel, I am always loathe to do; it's the hoarding instinct). And much of that maintenance work has to do with computers and like equipment: Most importantly, of course, is the eMachine virus problem.
Fortunately, I found in a tech forum online an exact description of this very same problem; and it is a serious one. I could go through the extremely complex and elaborate sets of procedures involving continual feedback between the forum techs and myself; or, as was suggested in the forum before they even began developing the thread, I could simply backup my personal files and reformat and reinstall Windows. Although I'd like to work my way through the problem, if for no other reason than to acquire the education and experience, I'm tempted to buy Windows Vista and reformat, and thus more easily network the two computers. (I must, I decided a while ago, have two working computers, one as a backup. Now I'm deciding that they must both be internet capable. [Later edit: Vista sucks. Maybe I should wipe the drive and install Windows 3.1]
A computer, I realize, is essential to my (way of) life. I don't like this, but... I wish I were content to be(come) a simple person, I wish I could "go natural," retreat further from postmod society, get up late in the morning, wander through my gardens in the late morning and early afternoon casually pruning and cultivating plants, retire to the porch and read until evening or else go into the studio and paint, spend my evenings reading in bed. No tv, no news except that which comes via quality magazines, no stress, little to go "wrong" that I can project my anxiety onto. [I've known for at least a month that the generalized anxiety was "in there" waiting. I could feel it, but I had nothing much to blame it on since my last episode with the "legal" welfare matters, which turned out to be totally non-existent--I hope; and, before that, my manic response to my brother's antics, which it turned out I was exactly right about. But right or wrong doesn't matter, it's the psycho-chemical reaction, perhaps combined with my conditioned response based on the autistic-related genetics, that's the real cause.]
But the computer is essential because I can't withdraw far enough from "social stress" in a way that I feel is necessary. The little sense of logic I maintain, I maintain via words (of course), which I have a very difficult time sorting out without writing them down (in a computer-efficient manner). Answers I arrive at via long, drawn-out, anguished mental struggles get away from me if I don't write them down. But they get away from me anyway even if I do, even when I manage to develop a certain degree of linear logic, because no one can maintain that level of paperwork; if the mind will not contain it all in RAM, then you have to put it onto (an external) ROM in such a way that it can easily be referenced. So I end up having to work things out again and again, and usually in such a disorganized way that they end up being not at all effective as solutions to problems.
But with a computer I can cut and paste and reorganize thoughts so that, at least if they are never again referenced (although they are far more likely to be, since they are not stored away in the bottom of a box full of papers somewhere in some back room or basement), they are still somewhat more "intelligently" linear; or if not literally linear, then at least grouped together into modules of like material so that, if never again I, then at least others may later access them [automated cyborg cultural anthropologists, perhaps--don't laugh; they already exist, mining the internet for ideas that someone, somewhere is putting to good(?) use; and I think they may have stolen some of mine, because they seem to be popping up here and there around the net, unattributed, of course (or is it just the zeitgeist? Probably)]; and the written notes can, on occasion, when developed in the proper way, be used quite effectively as procedures and guidelines, because the cut and paste method allows ideas to be juggled and put into their proper places, again and again if necessary as new content is found or thought of and added. On paper, this can only be accomplished via erasing and/or scratching out and eventually regenerating new paperwork to replace the chicken-scratched earlier versions, which is so bothersome a process that I most often abandon it in frustration. This is a computer's strength. It has made me a better person, by serving as an adjunct to my less than adequate brain, which functions way ahead of its ability to grasp in a permanently learned way the revelations, insights, and inklings it experiences. It is still hard work trying to organize rampantly rambling thoughts on a computer; but at least it's sometimes possible, whereas on paper, it is not.
So, with this ability to "compute" firmly re-established, I can now turn to trying to figure out what I am going to do about the "problems" that face me:
Anyway, being an atheist and having no recourse to your typical God, how could I ever hope to re-order my mind and focus my attention to the point where I could rearrange my ideas into the linear order that reflects the actual timeline of their occurrence? And, without divine intervention, I am a scattered soul.
I could, of course, take the inordinate amount of time necessary to actually accomplish this great feat. But, then, how would I ever document even the smallest fraction of my experience that I now manage? Linear writing is a fine thing--for neurotypical writers. My experience informs me otherwise.
And, anyway, shouldn't my expression correspond to my actual experience; and isn't my mind, the deeper into it I go, a confusing mess that jumps back and forth in time and space, defying linear description? Incidents I remember occur again as brain chemistry. I jump ahead as problems I imagine occur to me.
And I jump back again, and again, to review anew what I've already reviewed, earlier with a more agitated spirit, later with a bit more objectivity yet still aware of the anxiety provoked; and, still later, as the affect continues to subside, with an increasing objectivity that admits to possible over-reaction.
Days go by, and I forget; and then I remember, selectively, the original precipitating incident(s), and I react in ways similar to the way(s) I acted earlier, though with far less affect, in fact, in almost a "normal" way. But I forget the "solutions" I earlier concocted; and so I am doomed to repeat the "logic."
I am so much in disagreement with what's going on in the world and in this country these days (actually, with what's been going on for a very long time; but I haven't really been paying all that much attention until fairly recently) that I feel like I've no choice but to increasingly detach myself from it all. Maybe Hillary or Obama will be able to do something positive about the condition of the world; but I doubt it. Anyway, detachment is a fine Buddhist concept that I happen to agree with wholeheartedly since it fits right into my wayward psychology.
On the other hand, it's a distinct possibility that Obama is a major manifestation of The Fourth Turning. Meanwhile, I guess I've just postponed further detachment for a while longer (by buying the new laptop). I just can't quite yet further my ambitions in that direction. I'm too tied into the net; but some day... Like the rest of the world, the net has gone too far, with its viruses and trojans and malware, etc. I definitely think I want to be doing without it someday. "They" can come and "get" you via your internet connection, steal your identity, and your money, ruin your good life. How the fuck did all that come about? Where have I been? Sleeping? Probably. I mean, knew it was happening, I'm not stupid. But, because it wasn't happening to me, I just wasn't paying all that much attention. When events don't directly affect me, I am disconcerned. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
These days, I awaken after a long sleep and start right into working, and I get a lot done before the motivation wears off; but there's just so much to do and I jump around from this to that as the ideas and tasks occur to me or I come across them, so that, after I use up all of my energy for any particular work session, I am left with the feeling that, although I've accomplished a whole lot, I haven't really accomplished all that much. Because there is so much more to do.
The real problem is that my ability to establish priorities is so compromised (I become so easily distracted) that I can't manage to focus my attention; in fact, I don't really even want to. I like working in this de-focused way; but there is so much that is so important that I have to do that I don't seem to be getting to. But, then again, if I do those things that are so important, then there will be other things that are also so important that I never get to. Because importance is in the eye of the beholder.
It's the old argument: If you don't do it now, it will never get done; because there is no other time but now. But I need a whole lot more of now to get everything done that I need to get done, let alone want to. And this even extends to my "work" on the net. The internet used to be the place I went to get away from the pressing "mandates" of my life. No more. I've developed a love/hate relationship with the net. It used to be a torrid love affair, but recent events have turned my stomach a bit sour. Don't get me wrong. I still am very much in love. Or maybe I should say that I am in need. But every time I log on, I now feel this little bit of anxiety: Will I get hit with some kind of malware today? Will my new laptop crash and burn? Will someone steal my identity or my money? Will I lose my ability to easily survive? Why are there assholes in the world who go out of their way to do these kinds of things? Humans are a fucked up species.
The net has become for me a place akin to the world itself; which, of course, it has always been. But I never before thought of it that way, since I interact with the world from what I used to think was the relative safety of my home. But no more. Now I understand that they can get to me no matter where I am; unless I disconnect. But I don't want to do that. So I have to pay extra for the best protective software? This is the way the (capitalist) world works: You buy things that you want or think you need; and then you discover that, in order to use them, you have to buy more, and more, and more. It's one huge, complex trap that's impossible to escape from.
This is the way I felt when I was working at jobs. They give you money for your talent and services, and then you have to give it back: for taxes, of course; and for a car and its often extensive and expensive maintenance; and for parking fees, etc.. It just goes on and on. They call it social interaction; but it's not, really. There's a difference between interacting with people and living in a society. The former is more or less normal (most of the time); the latter involves exchanging tokens, the ones you get for contributing your time and energy for ones you give to others for their time and energy. And, if that were all there was to it, that would be just fine with me; but it isn't. You also have to give them tokens for the upkeep of society. Okay. Taxes. Fine. I'll compromise on that point, to a degree. But then they've got all of this "licensing" and service fees bullshit that's all designed, initially at least [as time goes on, "they" realize that they can fatten the coffers via increasing, in small increments so that you hardly notice it, the tokens they demand; and they manipulate the economic system so that costs inflate as the value of tokens decrease, because deflation, though it might benefit the average token user, is bad for business, which knows very well how to compensate for inflation while increasing profits; and it's just too hard to keep it static--not that they would want to, because...well, then they can't increase profit percentage via manipulating the tokens, the whole point of our corporate capitalist society being to increase the flow of money toward the elite; but they sell the system with the counter-claim, that corporations are a benefit to the masses because they produce a wide variety of cheap stuff, thereby creating a better, more comfortable life for the citizenry, which they do, but not so that we may be empowered, but so that we will be mollified into subservience, making it all a big lie, which they make appealing by producing all the glitzy crap that we really do not need while the official government Ponzi scheme of controlled inflation leads the way], to "protect" your less well off fellow citizens (think "universal connectivity fee"), which is also fine, to a lesser degree; but as society gets increasingly complicated, its rules, regulations, and, most disturbing to me, licensing and service fees, escalate--until you end up paying just a little bit for every little thing, and those little bits add up until you come to the eventual realization that, you (most of us) have no real discretionary income at all, because we use it all up on the cost of living within a (corporate) capitalist society that hates socialism so much that it forces people to pay for services from a government that they pay for in the first place with their taxes. (Not to mention the conservative drive to privatize as much government service as possible so that they can charge you even more.)
Assertive (and aggressive) people run the world; and that's okay, except...they don't leave you alone. If they left me alone to live in the way that I want to, I'd be fine with leaving the world to them. But they expect you to live in their world, their way, according to the rules they make. Given the nature of my difability, I'm amazed that I did as well in my career in business as I did--although I did suffer quite a bit physically (chronic stress) in my ordeal to perform to arbitrary social standards. But, oh, it's just getting to be too much to think about. Never mind.
It's starting to rain pretty hard. The weather report says there's a big storm coming; but they have no idea that a bigger storm has already ended. When I'm writing about this subject (anxiety, which has been my primary obsession for well over a year now), it never seems to me that I impart the sense of serious catastrophe I feel during these episodes, the prose, I suspect, indicating to others a lame sort of bland mental exercise, while I, meanwhile, feel not unlike how the relatively nicer weather feels to me after a distructive storm has passed, so welcoming. And when I reread the material, I think I read into the text my disaster-pending and paranoid perceptions; that is, I suspect that readers will not get the idea of how serious this all seems to me at the time I experience it; because, later, although I understand how I felt at the time, because I'm the one who experienced it, I worry that I didn't do a good enough job at communicating the extremity of the affect.
In fact, the universe doesn't really have an edge since it's analogous to a spherical surface, but in four dimensions; so let's call it the "outer limit"--although that's not much better since all points within the universe are at its center; that is, any given object "out there" is no closer to the "edge" of the universe than we are.
The exact nature of a four-dimensional universe is not capable of being fully understood with our simple three-dimensional minds. So forget about trying to grasp the nature of a universe with ten or eleven dimensions. Even advanced scientists who understand the mathematics admit that they really do not comprehend how it plays itself out in the "real" world.
This is the problem here, I think: reality is not really what we consensually believe it to be, even at the scientific level; nor is time. Time is generally thought to be the fourth dimension. And, mathematically, it is. But I kind of wonder if this is not really true. Time, at least as we humans perceive it, is an illusion: There really is no past except as it exists in the present as electrochemical reactions within our brains; and the future is an even more nebulous affair. And as far as being able to "see" the past by looking out at the stars, well, yeah, we're seeing the past, but it doesn't really exist, it's as gone as are our own personal pasts and the photons that we see are like the electrochemical traces of our past within our brains. In fact, we can think of the photons streaming throughout the universe as the "electric" traces of God's mind (if you believe in the heresy that God is synonymous with the universe, which maybe I do and maybe I don't; I'm not sure).
Time is a very odd concept, much like dreaming, which is another way I have of changing my depressing attitude. Sometimes my dreams feel like they are so much not about me at all, which is conducive to getting me "out of my mind". This one starts out normally enough, but it quickly transitions into one of these different kinds of dreams:
I'm in my mother's kitchen, standing at the bar between the kitchen and dining room with my brother and someone else. Laid out along the six-foot length of the bar, we have a map of the world, which has a number of red lines running horizontally across it. These are routes that displaced Nordic travelers had taken in their worldwide journeys attempting to get back home. The lines, though they waver and vary in latitude slightly, are all more or less parallel and never cross each other. Cut to:
It seems that a number of different groups of people (or one larger group that split up early on) were out on a boat near shore (or were on the shore and somehow got taken off of it, perhaps by a storm with large waves; this is conjecture that was implicit within the dream) and wandered or were somehow otherwise directed off course, so that they left their homeland. Each group had its own set of adventures (we tried to trace these journeys on the map in the first dream section, which was one of those "interjections" that occurs both before, between, and after the later sections), and this is one of them. Cut to:
In a foreign, yet still Nordic-type country, a cute, young woman and her young daughter (both with blond hair), accompanied by the rest of the group, being refugees, are living in a city slum area. They desperately want to go home, but do not have the wherewithal to do so and, anyway, there is some question as to whether they will be allowed to leave. The woman is an ad hoc spokesperson for the group, actually speaking only for herself, but implicitly pleading the group's case before an official petty quasi-court. The woman's primary argument has to do with her daughter, who, to be raised correctly, needs to be back at her native home among her people. The court rejects that argument. The woman then turns to blatant cajoling by pleading that they are all good Muslims (which everyone knows they are not; implicit: the host country, despite its Nordic location and nature, is a Muslim one); and once back at home, they would never act in any way to derogate the country from which they departed, always praising it for its hospitality, etc. Still, she is denied. Cut to (intervened by the map scene, which tries to interpret and understand how this came about):
One of the groups manages to get back home. Offshore, they are split up (a parallel to their departure), so that some of them arrive at a point farther to the west than two men, who set off on their own just before land was sighted and set a more direct course for the mainland. (Implicit, but without any story components, is the idea that these two men disagreed with the direction the group was taking, and it turned out that they were correct, so that they landed first.) Members of the group stagger up the beach, exhausted after years of travel, but happy to be home. Implicit in this landing is the idea that, eventually, all of the groups will make it back. Cut back to kitchen scene:
In trying to trace the routes of the different groups, we begin to understand that the red lines that circumnavigate the world actually "move" in two directions, east or west. The groups, it appears, went in different directions and, paradoxically, some of them started out in the Far East and traveled toward their homeland. We try to understand how this happened, but we cannot and can only conclude that it is a mapping anomaly. Cut back to travelers:
The home beach area paradoxically extends from the city slum of the foreign country in the earlier section out away from the city for ten thousand feet, most of which is barren, yet valuable property. (Implicit: developers would very much like to get their hands on this place to develop it, since it is pristine beachfront property). The government considers the property a national treasure and has declared it a national park area to commemorate the once lost citizens. Back in the map room, where we have viewed this whole process (dream), I wonder why the area is only ten thousand feet long, when the map spans the whole world. Awake, I realize that the reason is that the wanderers landed back home in places along this area; but in the dream that idea escaped me and I thought that the entire (worldwide) coastline along which the red lines traveled should have been declared sacrosanct. In other word, get you're fucking hands off my world (my mind), you unscrupulous "developers."
Seeing the world from a global perspective is, in a way, seeing it from the eyes of God. If God existed, It would see the world as I would like, all the time, to see it.
is the inner core
of the whole being
resolving the paradox
between the inner
self and the outside
world of 1,000 bright suns
If the light is actually beyond me, "out there" somewhere, then I believe in a God; but if the light is me, then I am God. But there is no reason why both of these conditions can't be true at the same time. I can understand how Jesus might have felt this way, if he all or most of the time was able to keep the light in conscious sight.
Instead of keeping the light in sight, I become pretty much continually distracted by the shards of multiplicity that the world stabs at me. If I conform, or try to (it never really works; sooner or later they start to catch on that, although they're not quite sure how, somehow I am fundamentally different than most people), I lose sight of what I consider to be truth (a unitary self) and become lost amid the cacophony of society. But if I participate while keeping in mind that it's mindless superstition and ritual, if I keep in mind the intention and meaning behind it all, then it's usually okay. But most people are unaware of the illusion and mistake the myths for the reality behind them, acting blindly according to the rules they have been taught to follow without thinking. And if I fall into this rut, then it all begins to seem so meaningless to me. That's the danger of superstitious behavior. If you understand the symbolism and/or the metaphor for what you're doing, then go ahead and do it with my blessing; but if you do not understand, then you might as well be dead, you brainless automatons. (I am obviously projecting here, since I am often guilty of being a brainless automaton myself.)
I project a lot. Everyone does. It's human nature. So when I say things like, "I'm not prejudiced against you because you're a woman, I'm prejudiced against you because you're a fat fucking pig," I think I'm expressing one idea, but I'm actually denying the fact that I'm gaining weight again and I hate it. I'm ten pounds overweight and it feels like fifty; and I take my mental discomfort out on any fat waddling pig I see in the street. (I don't usually say these kinds of things aloud to them; I'm an asshole, but I'm not uncouth--most of the time.)
Brainlessness is borne of projection. (Or vice versa. I'm not sure which.) And the problem is exasperated by people crowding in on each other, in cities, in workplaces, and at home (for some people). Davy Crockett or Dan'l Boone or one or another of them there early pioneers were concerned with not having enough "elbow room"; but times have changed and society has gotten a lot denser and more pressing, and, now, I am concerned with having enough breathing room. So, get off my chest, you fat fucking American slobs. I can't catch my breath.
Breathing room, for me, is not having to do anything right now. (And it's always right now.) The more people crowd me in (metaphorically; staying away from people is not a solution if you feel any kind of obligation to them, or to society in general), the harder I find it to breathe easily. The anxiety begins to take over and I fail to remember to breathe deeply. My shallow breathing constricts the essence of my being; until I realize what the problem is, take a few deep breaths, and recite my favorite mantra: "It's always right now."
So, happy Valentine's Day, all you poor bastards out there who are still stuck in that little game. God am I happy I don't have to worry about that any more. At least for a while. But hope, occasionally, springs eternal, despite all evidence to the contrary. (The ideal situation would be to establish a serially monogamous lifestyle during those periods of time between significant gift-giving holidays. God, am I jaundiced.)
More and more, society's expectations impinge upon my sense of freedom. The Patriot Act is only the symbol of the problem, which is far more insidious. Think Brave New World or 1984. Searching laptops at airport checkpoints, and especially requiring owners to give up passwords or suffer confiscation, is tantamount to mind invasion. Laptops contain ideas, nothing more. (Ideas are electro-chemical traces.) On the bright side, I, without a laptop, can get through a security check with all of the ideas I want, and the government can't do a thing about it, because they haven't developed mind probe technology--quite yet; but they're getting close, what with their advancing research in human behavior and all. But I'm already tiring of that subject. I think I'll stop thinking about it and enjoy my freedom for a while, while I still can.
We aspie's tend to be unsophisticated and "naive" re social situations, even in the face of a keen rational understanding of social issues (i.e., we tend to be geeks; or, in the best case, closet geeks). For example, we see all of the problems in the world and understand the world's complexity, perhaps better than most NTs, and yet we want the world to be the way it should be instead of accepting it the way that it is, the way that practical NTs do. We know, for example, that survival of the fittest is the way of the world, that the poor are poor for a reason, and that the disabled are compromised in their ability to survive; and yet we believe (perhaps even religiously) that society should intervene and ameliorate natural law; and we believe it in a more profound way than NTs do, when they do believe it. (That's just my opinion, of course, based on my perception that autistics and schizophrenics see reality more clearly as a result of their "separate" existence, which gives them a perspective beyond the ordinary consensual one.)
Consensuality, I think, is the source of brainlessness. If you allow yourself to think like everyone else does (that is, if you fail to examine your beliefs to see how they have been standardized by society when you would otherwise, had you examined them closely, thought and felt differently), then you might as well be someone else, everyone else, because you have given up your most precious commodity, your own unique self. You can't see the light when everyone else is standing in the way. Get out of my light, you fat fucking pigs!
Evidence is slowly accumulating (in my mind, but also maybe in the medical/scientific community; i.e., maybe I'm intuiting and/or learning about this as they are, maybe it's material developing in the zeitgeist) that my "back" problem is an auto-immune disease that flares up here and there, in the intestines typically, whence it spreads up the spine and into various parts of the body, a reaction against one or another stressor; and it fails to turn itself off after the stressor is gone, but continues on, depositing or causing to be deposited "plaque" between the spinal vertebrae and wrecking havoc there and elsewhere in the form of tissue inflammation.
In any case, I've recognized and classified another one of my life modes, in this case a meta-mode: back attack. When it happens (it happens frequently; but I mean when it escalates to a point where it dominates my life), it colors my whole life outlook, as it obviously would, but also in subtle ways that I seldom notice, such as when I don't want to do things but rather lie in bed, hardly realizing that I am not quite fit to do them. If only I had the motivation, I will think, when it is not really that at all, but physical debility just below the level of awareness, ready to onset full force if I go and try to do too much.
This is not the only cause of my ennui; in fact, it may be the least. But it certainly occurs from time to time. And, of course, when the back attack is not in its early onset, but full-blown, then it dominates my being and totally determines my non-productive behavior.
So, anyway, I'm lying in bed in one of these "moods" and I'm reading this book I just bought online and its pissing me off. (I kind of knew ahead of time that it might, from the blurb):
But as Jane's confession continues, her interrogator begins to spot discrepancies in her already outrageous story. Is she lying, crazy-or playing a different game all together? Crackling with imagination and some of the most twisted plot turns we've ever read, this mind-bending novel will keep you guessing and furiously turning the pages until the very end.
That's the second book in a row I've been disappointed by. The first was The March by E.L. Doctorow. Not nearly as good as Ulysses S. Grant's memoir. Which was my motivation for wanting to read the book. Doctorow is way overrated, I'm beginning to think. I'd always assumed that, because he was such a popular writer and Hollywood makes his books into movies, that he was...I don't know...profound or something. I should have known. I make this mistake all the time. He's just another hack, a skilled word technician. When will I learn?
Not that I'm any better. I may have the potential for profundity, but...I don't really want to work hard enough to demonstrate it in public most of the time. It's not easy to wrest your inner genius into a sociably consumable commodity. Doctorow may not be such a terrible writer after all, given the amount of work required to write successful fiction.
Disgusted that my lack of a dedicated, productive work ethic has once again caused the world to leave me behind (I've had all kinds of ideas that other people subsequently made lots of money off of: stories, books, inventions; but, unfortunately, it's not the ideas, but the marketing of them, that's important), I give up reading and decide to take a nap.
Potent dreams run in cycles, and this is the potent phase of my cycle. I'm driving a car through a "foreign" countryside with an unknown passenger (someone I don't know, but whom my dream character apparently does). We come to a mountain range and start to drive up a road along its face. As we wind our way up through the hills, the road gets narrower and narrower until it is just a footpath (defying logic, since the car wouldn't even fit on it) and we skirt along a high cliff with a huge drop-off and no guard rail. We come up to the top of the hill and turn into a decrepit farm. I say (or think) something about how we shouldn't be here, and I turn around to escape the implicit threat of the unseen inhabitants. Going back down the mountainside, we encounter (at first unseen) German and Italian soldiers. Cut to:
A barracks-type room. The soldiers turn out to be not so friendly as benign. They are as wary of us as we are of them. This is some kind of a joint American-European task force, and I am a visiting civilian diplomat. We leave the room to go and eat dinner, which we get at a smorgasbord, which is three sides of a large square alcove. The selection of food is incredible (all typical German dishes), even though we are the last ones to arrive and they're about to close down the serving line (recurrent). I fill up my plate before I notice that there are a lot of things later on in the line that I'd rather have. One of the servers, while I'm distracted, puts a huge steak on my plate. I have to ask her to take it back since I already have too much to eat. I think that, since I'm a visiting diplomat, I shouldn't have to pay; but apparently I do. But when we get to the end of the line, the cashier has already closed down her register and departed; so we get the food for free anyway. We go into the adjacent dining room, a large, elegantly appointed room with lots of warm-colored wood paneling and huge windows overlooking a lush landscape. We sit with some younger German guys and, as soon as we're settled, a matronly, fat, buxom, elderly lady comes up to us and tells us they're shutting down and we have to leave. All the German guys start to stand, but I tell her in a defiant and authoritative tone of voice that I'm not going anywhere until I finish my meal. She tells me, with equally authority, that I must leave. I say, "Look, Grossmama," and I start to speak in German [literally, choosing words that I know, but could hardly remember quickly enough to use in conversation in a waking state, but in the dream they come easily to me, so that I amaze myself, even as I speak them within the dream], telling her that, if they didn't want me to eat the food, they shouldn't have sold it to me (even though I know I didn't pay for it), but should have shut down the food line earlier. She's a bit displeased by my confrontation but, not expecting it, she backs down and leaves. The Germans, following my lead, sit back down. One of them says, "Ve vill be sorry ve do not leave." I say, "What can she do to us?" He says, "She vill call the Gestapo." It's a joke that the rest of the Germans find only mildly amusing. I begin to speak to them with a German accent and we carry on a pleasant conversation...until, just as I'm finishing my meal, the police arrive and take us all into custody. Cut to:
We're in court and I'm explaining, still in a German accent, why I shouldn't be charged with any crime. One of my defense arguments is that I have diplomatic immunity. The judge asks me why, if I am an American, I speak with a German accent. He's leaning toward letting me go until I tell him that I'm being sarcastic and ridiculing him, whereupon he sentences me to thirty days for contempt of the court. As they haul us away, the German with me (only one of the guys from the dining room made it to court with me) asks me why I did that when the judge was going to let me go. I tell him that I'm fed up with the world and don't care what they do to me; but I know that it will not be long before the embassy lawyers arrive and get me released.
I awaken with the images of all that delicious-looking food in my head and wishing I had access to it. And I try to justify my guilt that, although I will be released, the German guy will have to spend time in jail. I fall back into sleep while rationalizing that only I would have been reprieved and he would have gone to jail no matter what.
I'm in an unknown neighborhood (where I've been before in dreams). db and I live in a house on the street just outside an upscale plan (which, in a way, is Oliver's house at Poketa and Rockcliff roads, although Rockcliff is kind of like the plan off of Shannon Rd. This is a recurrent area). We're standing in the living room with the drapes open having sex. A woman (partly Diane D.) who lives in the corner house across both streets is watching us, amazed that we are being so revealing. She calls the attention of her neighbor, a black man, to us. Together, they stand and watch us, as if they are a couple. As if we asked them to join us (there is no imagery for this), the woman comes over; but the guy declines. The three of us are going to have sex. Cut to:
A similar house in the same location (or the same house in a similar location). A woman (who is actually db from the previous dream section, though not in appearance), who looks like both Madeline Stowe and Andi MacDowell, is up above on a loft landing, announcing that she is sick and needs attention. The other woman (who is actually the second woman from the previous dream section), who looks very similar to the first woman, except, paradoxically, she's the opposite--that is, she's a combination of Andi MacDowell and Madeline Stowe (the order of the names is critical: she's a "different" person because the names are reversed), standing down below with me, is concerned, more concerned than I am, though I am also concerned. The woman above is wearing an oriental type of robe and standing in such as way so as to reveal most of her right thigh, which is quite sexy. I begin to "analyze" her, understanding that this is what she needs to make her feel better--not physical, but mental attention. Cut to:
I'm on the road that leads up to Blessed Sacrament church and school (my elementary school). db is still with me from the previous dream segment; but she quickly morphs into a woman similar to the Andi/Madeline character. I am "hiding" along the roadside, behind bushes, trying to get some sleep, because I'm exhausted from having been awake for so long, living "on the road"; but someone (I don't know who; maybe a number of different people) keeps discovering me and causing me to awaken. But the woman (a small oriental young lady) [cf., robe earlier] who's "with" me is keeping guard over me and fending off those who would disturb me. We walk up the road toward the school. Cut to:
Another house, on a more upscale street, but very similar, at least in mood, to the previous one(s). I am now a young oriental guy (Japanese, Korean, or an islander), an identity I had morphed into during the last segment when I was hiding out. I have a daughter who is traveling with me (db?), and we come up to the house, looking for a place to spend the night. The woman who owns the house is Andi/Madeline; She agrees to let us stay, partly, I know, because although she doesn't recognize me in my new identity, she retains an unconscious empathy from earlier; and partly because of my daughter, whom she "feels" for (in the same way she felt in the earlier segment for the woman who stood above on the loft landing). I tell her that I have to use the bathroom, which is on the second floor. Inside, I shut the doors, (there are two of them at opposite ends of the room), take off my clothes, and fill the bathtub with water, intending to take a bath, because I am filthy from having spent so much time on the road. But I hear the woman coming up the stairs and so I begin to empty the tub, hoping it will drain before she arrives and discovers my intent. But before I manage to do that, a woman, who turns out to be the other woman's mother, not knowing I am in there, enters the bathroom from the farther door, discovers me naked, screams, and runs back out. The first woman comes running into the bathroom and sees me standing there naked; but she does not leave, but only remains standing, staring down at my nether region.
Dreams can be a difficult landscape when you want life to be straightforward and you try to escape it when you think it's not, into the better reality inside your own head.
The friends you make there may actually be better, probably because they're actually you, have intimate contact with what you are about, and don't have to work hard to understand you.
In the real world, friends are a more difficult affair. I had a few, made in spontaneous moments that "took"; but, for the most part, I never really understood the importance of friends.
I felt the importance; I intuited it; but only among my particular friends, and not at all generally among the population at large. Networking was a step (or a mile or more) too far.
I lived in my own world and let a few people in; but not many. Collections were always more important than friends. If only I had made the connection that friends also could be collected.
I made my own (few) friends; social functions designed to make them for me always failed. My friends, like dream friends, allowed me the luxury of free-reined self-expression.
I could think freely among my friends because thoughts poured out unrestrained. Among others, I found my thoughts stifled by their expectations that, when I spoke, I was somehow strange.
This was not, however, so conscious a process back then as it is now. I just felt uncomfortable among people who were not my chosen friends. They prevented me from thinking properly.
Writing (out of internal monologue) became my primary mode of expression when I wasn't with friends. Thoughts were me; people not privy to them were by definition strangers.
I managed to get through childhood and adolescence without ever consciously thinking about how "separate" I was. It wasn’t until later adulthood that the awareness began to dawn.
Otherwise I might have thought something was wrong with me, as many others in my genetic situation do. Society would have convinced me I had a problem, but I was oblivious.
Early on, I began to use books, and especially movies and tv shows, to explain myself to my friends, and others. Anyone who could understand my references could know me:
See? This is how I am! Like this character; like this situation. And, much later, when I was no longer tied to home, I wrote letters, to a few friends, and to people I didn't know well--yet.
That was it! I could get to know people via writing! Via writing, I made a lot of friends. Not so many at first. Then the internet came along and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed.
Now, I have (the potential for) way too many friends. Most of them seem genuine enough. I have to monitor my online activity closely so that I don't overload. People expect responses.
Now, I do know how to network; just not in person. I know how to do it in person; but it's an ordeal. But, via writing, I'm a networking genius. Look for me amid my written words.
In forums, people get to truly know me. I easily reveal myself in ways I never quite manage in person, being too reserved. It's a way that the electronic age has helped me, and many others.
I've been reading Asperger's and autism forums where people who apparently have "problems" very similar to mine have support workers and "staff" who come to visit them periodically to help them out with their daily difficulties. And I think, Well wouldn't that be nice.
But, then again, I think, Hmm. Maybe not. I mean, despite the fact that I could use the help, I'm not too sure I'd want people invading my personal space, especially when they would feel obligated to report back to some agency on my "progress." Better left alone.
And, of course, there's the problem of the initial onset of those services: I'd have to contact someone, talk with them about my difficulties, in essence actually ask for help. Nope. That's not me, thank you very much. Yeah, I'm better off the way I am. It causes less anxiety.
It occurred to me today that, if I could just "cure" my anxiety, I would be, for all practical purposes, "normal." Of course, there's still the "depression"; but I've always been able to handle that affect very well. It's the anxiety that paralyzes me and keeps me from accomplishing my goals. Feeling "down" may delay them from time to time; but almost always when I am, it turns out to be for a very good reason, usually when I need sleep or rest and would only end up doing harm to myself if I pushed on. But the anxiety...
A cure may, of course, be merely idle hope. It may be impossible for me to change, ever. But when did I ever give up on an idea because it was impossible? And, if not a complete turn-around, then I could at least perhaps change my orientation toward social interaction, at the very least for the time that I must remain in contact. Retreat could still serve as a release for me; but maybe I can accomplish interaction without the negative affect. I could achieve this by simply disregarding what people think of me, though I might reduce my effect.
That is, when I suffer from anxiety, it is (I theorize) because I fear that others will think badly of me because I'm "different." If that difference made no difference to me, if I didn't care what other people thought, then I could act as I wished instead of how I, or others, believe that I should. The depression (I further theorize) is caused by my unconscious perception that there's nothing I can do about anxiety in social situations, so why bother trying to interact at all? Thus I am resigned to my isolated fate, which would be okay, except that:
Much of what I want to accomplish necessitates social interaction. My approach, for most of my life, to this necessity has involved devising ways that I can do things entirely on my own; and to a large degree I've been successful at this. And for those things that must involve others, I've developed a cool and "detached" persona, to defend myself against the anxiety. But what if I, instead, just let it all go and "act out" the "difference" when it occurs? I become the "crazy old man"; but there's an "up" side that I may benefit from:
No one wants to fuck with a crazy old man. And if I combine that persona with my "charismatic" one, then I become "the guru," not a bad way to ease my way through society. I (can act as if I) have access to information and experience that others have no knowledge of. This could (and does) work, often. This isn't the problem, nor does it require my conscious participation. It works just fine as it is. The problem is getting into it. It's that first step that's the doozy; and it's that period of time before taking it that is the real problem.
The real solution: Just go ahead and do it. But plan it well first. But when you plan it, do so without a specific time to do it, so that you don't invoke the anxiety as that time draws near. And then, when all the ducks are in a row, set the plan aside until the time it's to be executed, and when that time comes, just do it. Of course, this ignores all intervening refinements to the plan necessitated by changes in the "situation." And it's easy enough to say forget about it; but I won't. My brain will continue to "work" on it. That's the way it goes.
And that's what causes all of the anxiety in the first place. So, maybe I can't get there from here. Maybe it's inevitable that I can be no way other than the way I am. How sad. But not really. Generally, overall, I like the way I am. It's all of you other people that I hate, at least when you interfere with the way I want to be. What I need is your cooperation; and, especially, your acceptance. This is the real problem here, not anxiety, but Asperger's. When you all accept me for what I am, then you disable the
This is a very difficult idea, not only to write out, but to make myself understand; but I'll try. I dreamed this, and it seemed perfectly logical, at the time: There is, apparently, a kind of interaction (or all interaction is of this kind, but misinterpreted) that is "flat" (as opposed to ordinary, or "round" interaction, which means that it is filled out in a way that is three dimensional, though not physically 3D, but more like psychologically). In the dream I imagined it as (having been recorded onto, even as it was in progress) a three-inch floppy disk that was sort of 'suspended" in the ether between me and the person with whom I was "interacting," a woman who was sleeping in her own home in bed next to her husband. (These are real people, but the situation was pure fantasy--or pre or post cognition--since it was the middle of the day and she, at least, was not at home, I know.)
It's the "flat" nature of the (binary) data that's important here. (Flat and binary are almost interchangeable terms in this sense; but not quite.) Ordinary interaction is accomplished in our "real" physical world (base 10; ten fingers, ten toes) and, consequently, it must occur at a psychological distance because we are physically separated, even at our most intimate moments. Flat interaction, however, is accomplished in immediacy, without psychological distance and, thus, it can be experienced at great physical distances.
That's about all the words I have to try to describe this "phenomenon" (if it actually exists). In the dream, however, it was far more profound (isn't it always?) and existed as a kind of "separate reality" that felt very potent and, possibly, was only possible between specific people and not accessible across the general public (i.e., an innate simpatico must first exist). And the floppy disk symbol? I have no idea. Maybe the interaction is recorded somewhere in some way.
Also inherent in this dream was the feeling of the woman toward her husband, which interfered with the "round" interaction between her and me (but not with the "flat" interaction, since it doesn't exist in the real, i.e., physical, world): I hate that fawning way that women, especially in intimate moments, instinctually defer to men; I hate how a woman allows herself to be "seduced" in that way, and I hate how she, afterwards, is (biologically) lulled into that "dedicated" attitude. I even hate it when a woman displays that attitude toward me--though I also love it. It's one of those irreconcilable internal conflicts I possess.
I really hate Homo sapiens sapiens in general; the way the species has evolved, all of the sycophantic (which is how satisfied women seem to me to act), slimy, disingenuous bottom-feeders or top-of-the-food-chain, bellicose danger-mongers acting as if the word belongs to them and not to all species as a whole. But I like a lot of specific members of the species, myself included. The parts are greater than the sum of the whole, which is fused together by the glue that is society.
It's true that I blame society for my self-imposed restrictions and limitations; but society's prejudice does not cause my diminished social role, for which I blame Asperger's--but, ditto. I am responsible for what I am and how I respond to the way that society and its people respond to me (which is often quite nicely; as often as not). It's not society, or even any individual person, but my own rigid psychology and fluid daily routine that restricts and limits who I am:
I go to bed, fall asleep, dream, and often wake up feeling "different," by which I mean, anxious, or full of dread, or worried about how my life is proceeding (regardless of whether I felt the day before that everything was going well or badly). Then I get up, have a cup of coffee, start working at whatever, slowly (or quickly) reestablish my "positive" attitude, go through the rest of the day trying to be productive, have a good meal or two, with a fine homemade beer, all along feeling more and more "normal," and go to bed to repeat the whole cycle over again, de-establishing each night any psychological progress I might have made the day before. Day after day, night after night. (And I write about it cyclically too.)
So, how can society be to blame? I'm far closer to society when I'm awake than when I'm sleeping; if anything, society is the positive, "normalizing" influence in my life. Well, the answer is, society put that whatever-it-is into my head that I repress while I'm awake but which gets released when I dream and "remember" (I don't really exactly remember it; it's too encoded in dreams' mystery) and worry over when my guard is down when I first awaken.
But society didn't exactly put whatever into my head. I, though unconsciously, allowed it to be introjected. I am to blame, after all. I am an unwitting dupe who has allowed himself to be twisted around society's little finger all my life. And that's why I hate society. It doesn't have to be to blame for me to hate it. All it need do is exist. It entices me, causes me to dream, both asleep and awake, makes me want to own the images it dangles before me and puts into my head; and it terrifies me as well, with images I would rather not see. But, most of all, it insists itself upon me, in ways I do not fully comprehend:
I keep having this recurrent dream (well, of course I do; otherwise it wouldn't be recurrent) about the bridge out on Rte. 22 just past Home Depot. Before they built the Home Depot, there used to be an upscale motel there, one of those Vegas wannabe type places that featured live entertainment in its "lounge" (which was its fancy name for its more ordinary bar). This place, rather than Home Depot, is a background feature of my dreams.
But it's the bridge that's the focal point. On this side of the bridge, there's a set of steps that go down beneath it (in the dreams, but not in reality), and sometimes I partially descended them, down the hillside into the severe, extraordinarily deep (in reality) gully that's partially reinforced with the massive concrete bridge structure and partially common dirt, rock, and scrub vegetation, a not-unfriendly type of place, sort of touristy in that way that exotic natural rock bridges are.
At other times, I cross the bridge, sometimes heading out, sometimes in. Going out, it's a kind of neo-modern society adventure, a more benign version of 1984, Brave New World, or Logan's Run, heading into a privileged city-type suburban environment out of a "wilderness" of ordinary modernity. Coming off the end of the bridge is like coming up out of a subway, lots of steps, landings, side tunnels, and loose queues of moving people.
Coming back in is like returning from vacation, feeling sort of relieved to be going back home, a bit out of control for having been away from the familiarity of ordinary things, and accompanied by a lot of other people I don't know, all with that same semi-lost orientation. The highway on this side of the bridge is a more "walkable" shopping area type of place than it is in reality (which is predominated by high-speed car traffic).
That's society inside my head, confusing me with its speed.
Instead of telling people the "truth" (i.e., what you actually believe, which may, and probably will, be contrary to their own, sometimes sacred and easily offended, beliefs), keep your opinions to yourself, recognize and classify their opinions for exactly what they are, and tell them in general terms what they want to hear; that is, verify their self-worth: Say things like, "You're a very smart man," or You're an astute woman." In this way, they get the idea that you like them; and so, by ordinary everyday psychology, they like you. How to win friends and schmooze people. Influence? Not very likely; unless you're willing to take this practice one step farther and "sneak" your own opinions in between the words. And that's a lot of work.
But why would you want to influence them anyway? What are you, a politician? Running for office? An activist trying to change the world? How likely is it that what you have to say to one (probably right-wing) fool will influence anything at all, even in the very unlikely event that you would influence him in "your" direction? Save your (more or less) "logical" (or impassioned) arguments for people who agree with you. Rally your own troops and leave the enemy alone. They’re incorrigible anyway. Reserve your rhetoric for the written word where it will do the most good or provide you with the best therapy and ease (schmooze) your way through (social) life by tacitly lying, with an end in mind to "influence," not people's socio-political beliefs, but their personal ones re you. If they think you're a great guy, if they "learn" to admire you (simply because they think that you admire them--that's the way it works, you know, it's all one big collection of little networked mutual admiration societies), then your life will flow smoothly, your will have no enemies, and you can hide out and be whomever you really want to be in the privacy of your own home and in anonymous internet forums.
That's what I do, most of the time. And when I don't, I've found, as often as not I've regretted it. So forget about wanting to changing the world. Forget about influencing people. Influence yourself. Go ahead and win the friends if that is what you want; but change yourself instead.