by j-a

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July 2008

You Aut Not To Be This Way

(anti-authoritarianism in the time of the supermonkey)

I am unsociable, he thought,
and now I am cruelly punished for it.
Stendhal, The Red and the Black
which came first?

I don't want to make any decisions. People tell me what to do very easily and I won't stand being told what to do, so I avoid people.
Kathy Acker, Eurydice in the Underworld
This is the essence of my problem, I think: I withdraw from society out of a sense that I will be authoritarianized; that is, as I exist within the social network, inevitably, sooner or later I am confronted with the demand, however systematized (in order to make it look like ordinary, everyday social function), to submit to authority. I bristle at being told what to do, in any sense, the mere hint of instruction arousing in me a query as to how I might do the task my own way, invent my own method (requiring no social oversight), reinvent the wheel in order to do my own thing, as alone as possible.

People are all too willing to tell me what to do. Supervision chose me as a career because I unconsciously understood that, the higher up on the ladder you stood, the fewer people there were who could tell you what to do. You might say that I fell right into it the occupation, the metaphor of falling being, not inconsistent, but analogous to that of climbing, in that the climb was effortless and free of conscious volition. This goes hand-over-hand with my anti-authoritarian attitude; that is, telling people what to do is not an oppositional motive to being told, but the same damn thing: Because I don't want to be told what to do, I demur in social situations, my way of staying away from people when I must be in their physical presence; and people read my body language as laid-back (which it is) and/or reticent (which it is; I don't like to make decisions, or change in general) and so they assume that they can--and should--tell me what to do, easily.

To which I will inevitably respond (to myself, of course, in my typical passive-aggressive way), "Oh no you don't, girlfriend! You don't tell me what to do." In order to protect myself from their "manipulation," I would beat them to the punch; but I don't want to be demanding, I don't want to be that kind of person (which I am anyway, repressed), which is why I demur in the first place (to compensate for the repression, to keep it repressed), and so I set about to extricate myself from their presence as soon as I can in whatever way I can manage it without revealing my (anti-)agenda. They learn soon enough (which is not so soon since I am gone and it could be a long time before they ever see me again) that telling me what to do is a mistake, or, at best, wasted time and energy, when my compliance is not forthcoming (though it be delayed by commitments not kept or, more recently, since I have learned to honor my commitments, never made in the first place, but delayed with an implicit promise to be made that never becomes manifest. Demurral is my defense; writing is my therapy:

When did you first become aware that their behavior toward you was not a matter of random events and incidents, but was a pattern? You might do the wrong thing, behave badly or in a misguided way, yet for the right reasons; then, you may self-absolve, when society will not absolve you.

The film Mystic River is not so much about childhood legacy as it is about how society affects you as an adult, especially re the support you get. Dave gets no support. Yes, his early experience affects him for the rest of his life; but society, even his own wife, who represents it, fails him.

You would think that society would understand the effect of early childhood trauma, commiserate, and act to minimize its impact. But it doesn't. (You would think it would want to support the child into adulthood in any case, since children represent its future.)

Dave did not grow up "normal," ostensibly because of his early experience, which may have influenced social opinion against him; or it may well be that he would have grown up that way anyway, it may be that he was chosen for abuse because of a perception that he was different.

Jimmy is supported, because he grew up "normal." He's a social (sociable) being, not reclusive, apparently uninjured by his childhood. Dave's wife abandons him, failing to understand him. True, he gave her too little information, because it echoed his painful childhood.

(Which came first, the abuse or the reticence? Are we ever able to determine causation apart from context? Is guilt ever knowable?)

Jimmy's wife supported him, though she knew of his very serious mistake; he was honest with her, admitted it to her, and she requited. Thus, he is absolved and self-absolvable. He's an interactive, social being, exchanging information, understood, accepted, forgiven.

Even Sean, a cop who represents social authority, disconsiders Jimmy's crime by choosing not to follow up on the obvious hints revealed. Dave, on the other hand, acting to his own obscure purpose, reclusive, misunderstood, has to die. He's not an acceptable risk.

The guy, the fake cop who abused Dave, represents nature's indifferent mechanism that bestows social traits in random fashion. Society selects from among the options, always favoring a normative approach. Either you're with us or against us. No in between.

Yes, I have been discriminated against, after a pattern, all my life, because I have behaved differently; and, because I have been treated differently, I've withdrawn and suffered, anxious and depressed. I've pretty much known (about) this since I was very young, but have only consciously focused on it fairly recently: I'm prejudiced against, because I'm different, because I'm prejudiced against... It feeds itself. I withdraw and suffer, because I'm prejudiced against, because I withdraw and suffer, because... It's a never-ending story. The only way to stop it is to act as if I'm normal. It's not a solution to the problem; it's a strategy for coping.

But I shouldn't have to do it. This is my planet (too). If you want to share it, fine. I have no problem with that. But if you want to insist on claiming this place for your own and excluding me from large parts of it, then fuck you too. Why should I be prevented, for example, from wandering the planet, free and clear, without the necessity for a passport, reliant only upon my own means obtained via wit, wisdom, and circumstance? What gives anyone or any government the right to restrict my movement, especially when I would do nothing wrong except to violate the arbitrary rules of national borders and cultural difference?

You may have figured out by now that I have a problem with authority. In fact, I have so much of a problem with it that I even have a problem with the word authority. When I hear the word, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and my heart starts to beat faster. It's only natural, then, that my career as a supervisor chose me.

A TechRepublic Daily Digest article entitled "Is your boss a dictator?" wants to know why so many bosses operate in dictatorial mode. I fight the urge not to read the article and instead just comment on the headlines. I'm not that interested in what a bunch of bloggers whine about on this subject, mostly because, having been a (somewhat dictatorial) boss myself, I already know why bosses are like they are; but I force myself to read it anyway, just in case someone might have a point of view I haven't yet considered. No one does.

There are so many dictatorial bosses because the authoritarian management style works; and because the wussy, feelgood "democratic" management style doesn't. It would be fine if most employees were cooperative people who actually wanted the companies they work for to succeed and prosper; but they don't, despite what they say, or else they do but can't overcome their refractory natures. Workers (at least American workers, but I suspect that this is a worldwide phenomenon) are, generally, anti-authoritarian, for good reason: Company owners still do not treat workers very well, and the postmodern ploy that has been established to counteract the workers' backlash has so far been just a lot of hot air and spin designed to keep workers happy while keeping their wages and the cost of improving working conditions as low as possible. As a consequence, many workers will do whatever they can to thwart management, even sometimes at their own expense.

So, the real answer to why are bosses dictatorial is: Because workers are assholes, and it takes an asshole to manage assholes. You want a nice boss? Be a nice employee. It's funny. The people who complain about bosses being assholes are assholes themselves. Nice workers have nice things to say about their bosses; because they are easy to manage, nice workers are treated nicely by their bosses. It's that old precept again: Which came first... Neither. Bad bosses and bad employees develop together. In order to have a good boss, you have to break the cycle. Ditto individuals and society. You can't have one without the other. You want society to accept you? Accept society. This is the lesson I have to learn. Be the change. But it's tough to be the first. Everyone wants to think, "Let him take the first step. Then I'll change." So no one ever does. Me neither. Not yet. Maybe never. Maybe. Meanwhile, life goes on, individuals rebel (it's what we do; it's in our character), societies suffer, some of them are overthrown, and some of them just dwindle away into oblivion, replaced by the next best idea. I have the next best idea, but no one wants to hear it; or, if they do, they don't want to implement it, because that would just be too much trouble.

crash and burn

The long arguments by which Sade's heroes demonstrate that nature has need of crime, that it must destroy in order to create, and that we help nature create from the moment we destroy it ourselves, are only aimed at establishing absolute freedom for the prisoner, Sade, who is too unjustly punished not to long for the explosion that will blow everything to pieces.
Albert Camus, The Rebel
You can stop me from expressing myself publicly (but just go ahead and try), but you can't stop me from expressing myself to myself. You could kill me to accomplish this, but it wouldn't do any good: Someone else would do it, and better than I. It's what we do. You could, I guess, kill everyone who doesn't think like you do. I know you're trying to do just that, and disguising it as war against terrorism or drugs or whatever. But, in the end, it won't work. It never does. What goes around, comes around. Your days are numbered.

I hate the government. All governments. Any person or organization that would desire to govern people reveal their pathology in the very choice of their career. People who choose not to leave others alone to do their own thing, but who instead try to impose their own will on others, are sick little puppies--unless, of course, your own thing is to impose your will on people; then they are sick big dogs. The sad thing about it is that the imposition is, typically, in the case of politicians and government bureaucrats, not of their own choosing, but the desire of some interest group or voting block that the government representatives are pandering to. So the government imposers, most of them, are not so much pathological reprobates like their significant constituents, but merely whores.

I want all governments to crash and burn. I want all government officials to die slowly and painfully, wasting away into the repugnant ooze of former flesh that they at present symbolize. I want every individual who would deny me my freedom of expression, who would control me for whatever purpose, to wither and blow away. We have no inherent duty to obey the arbitrary laws that are made for us. Governments have no inherent right to compel its supposed citizens, the ones who do not make a conscious choice to participate in the government of a society in which by accident of birth they find themselves, to obey the commandments of those in authority, present and past. Governments assume the "right" to oppress people in this way, but they have no inherent imperative to do so. And, yes, it is oppression, no matter how benign they make it seem, when you are coerced to obey laws of a government that you do not wish to participate in. And leaving the domain is not a valid choice, because you do have a right to exist in the land where you were born, that right is inherent.

If you're smart enough (or lucky enough by virtue of a high birth) to have enough money so that you're considered to be rich, that condition does not absolve you from your social responsibility; but many of the elitist rich believe and/or act as if it does. This is why the government must act, not to disenfranchise (to whatever degree) the rich, but to protect the poor and less wealthy from the antics that the rich get up to as a result of the freedom that money allows. But, instead, the government acts to disenfranchise the poor and protect the rich so that they are further immune from adversity. This is why governments must die: Maybe the lower classes need a government to protect it from the upper crust; but it never does, or does so only to the least degree that it can get away with in the face of its insignificant constituents, spinning the facts to create the appearance of concern and intent to do the right thing, and meanwhile catering as usual to those who pull its strings.

if only

The fears, doubts, and self-tragedies that he spoke of were all things that had haunted me for many years and were shared parts of my darkness, things that I had to conceal to go on living. They were things that sometimes escaped from the prison I held them in myself. They would either ingeniously escape like a perfect prison break or I would simply open the cell door for them to come out and tear the living shit out of me like rabid werewolves often in the middle of the night when I was alone and there was no one to turn to and the only defending silver bullet was on a side of the moon that was so dark that it would make 1930s Shirley Temple tap-dancing seem like coal growing, painfully over millions of years in the gardens beneath the ground.
Richard Brautigan An Unfortunate Woman
I would like to kill (certain kinds of) people--except that I know it would be a futile gesture. But I can fantasize: I'd kill them from afar, so as to avoid the blood and gore; but not so far away that I couldn't observe their surprised reactions.

And it'd be important that they know why they were dying, like maybe just before they were killed, they'd read a note explaining their sins: They're assholes; smug, elitists jerks whose superiority complex disallows empathy.

They disregard and disenfranchise people. But, this is a projection, isn't it? Because I might want, unconsciously, to kill myself? I don't think so; but I do want to kill off those traits within me that make me just like them.

It isn't inhumane to kill an animal, for whatever reason. Kindness to animals is generally misdirected (exceptions being domestic pets and sometimes farm animals.) Killing is what the human, like many other animal species, does--for a living.

It is inhumane to kill another person--for whatever reason. Kindness toward humans is an expression of humanity. (Some animals seem more human than some humans.) This is what the human animal, unlike all other species, does for salvation.

People often confuse non-human animals and people. I know a vegan who believes in the death penalty--for humans, that is. And he's an activist member of PETA. There is no plumbing the extremity of the depth of cognitive dissonance.

After two straight days of sunshine, the sky is overcast today with rare bursts of sunshine through the clouds. It reminds me of Hawaii in the depth of winter with its moody summery rainstorm atmosphere and the locals wearing winter coats.

It's beyond the realm of the inhumane to kill yourself. Some human animals mistake this for their salvation. (The reason can be disconsidered since it is meta-rational.) People often confuse life with death and seek the opposite out of despair.

I know why you did it, Brautigan, you magnificent bastard. I read your book. This is how Patton beat Rommel. This is how I will beat the disease that killed poor Richard: I have a personal image of Richard inside my head:

This is who I currently feel like I am (because I'm re-reading some of his novels). (More often, perhaps, I feel like I'm Billy Gibbons, because I often listen to ZZ Top.) What I mean to say is, after all, what's the point? Okay. Sure. But killing yourself?

When I get a bug up my ass, I focus on it for a while, until either I master the necessary skills or I wear out my motivation. Then I move on to something else. Because, once I've done it, why continue? Why do the same thing repetitively?

This is how I feel about an art, or about writing (though less so): When I've learned how to do it, it's done. Why go on doing it when there are so many other things to learn? I did the same thing in college; if I wanted to learn something, I majored in it.

But once I learned it, or enough of it to dispel the mystery, I went on to other subjects, changing my major. I've always been like this, defying the "wisdom" of specialization, wallowing in that much maligned practice known as dilettantism.

So, what do you do when you've done what you've wanted to do? For me, maybe, there are so many other subjects yet to be conquered that it may not matter. I should live so long. But what if you've vested your entire identity in being a writer?

What have you got to look forward to but yet another book? What will you write about this time? How about a book about writing a book? Okay. So let's call it An Unfortunate Woman. He might well have entitled it An Unfortunate Man.

A tiny insect has complexity, though nowhere near that of a human or the more complex intermediate species. I may kill an insect pest at will with no repercussions, not even from radical fringe rights groups. There is no PETI. No one cares.

But if I kill a human...look out! There will be a serious investigation. Why? What's the difference? It's all life. Can the only reason be based on complexity? The more complex a life is, the more valuable it is? (Was Teilhard de Chardin correct?)

Or I could theorize that it has to do with likeness. We identify more closely with life forms that more closely resemble us. I can kill a fish because fish don't look or act like us; but, if I kill a dog or an ape, I better have a damn good reason.

Are identity and complexity the two main factors here? Because I know people I'd like to kill, if only I thought I could get away with it; simple-minded people who are not at all like me. (Don't worry. I'm not going to do it. I know better.

There are people who are every bit as irritating as insect pests, who buzz around you and bug you until you feel like swatting them away; and who might be better off dead. But let's instead (to be legally safe) consider an intermediate species:

I killed a rabbit today. I felt a little bit sad about it because it was a young rabbit, cute (which may be a third item to add to identity and complexity: cuteness); but the goddam thing was eating my pepper seedlings before they could establish themselves and I couldn't find out how it was getting into the yard, so I couldn't seal it out. (Yes, I did consider the Phenomenon phenomenon.)

I spent half an hour out back yesterday sighting my bow (haven't used it in many years), intending to shoot the rabbit the next time I saw it, because it hasn't been responding to the bait in the traps; but this morning I found it in one of the live traps.

I submerged the cage in the pond and drowned the little bugger. For no other reason than I want to eat peppers this fall and winter. This is okay. Legal. And I'm justified in doing this, even though I feel a little bit sorry for it.

But I don't feel sorry because it was a form of life, but because it was so cute. I have no problem at all killing groundhogs, because they're ugly, and because they're such destructive little bastards. I wish this same logic applied to assholes.

People who manipulate me, who try to steal my identity and my money, who believe me to be a form of prey, should be fair game. (I'm not only talking about criminals here; also included are corporate types, and politicians. Assholes generally.

Is this all just more of my projection? Yeah. Probably. It may all just be a way of wanting to punish myself for killing that cute little bunny. He probably felt the same way about me as I do about assholes. Who's the asshole here, really?

I write in order to investigate how it is that I might be more human. (The method isn't always so effective.) I could be a whole lot more sensitive to human(s') problems. I do try. But writing itself is hard enough as it is:


Planning is just daydreaming in list format.
Writing a book or creating a work of art takes a lot of deliberation before I actually start to do it. I always say to myself before I start, "Okay, now. Let's get going. Stop fiddle-fucking around and let's get to work," failing to recognize, again and again, how much of the work is done during the advance stages of deliberation. And, apart from the entire writing process, deliberation included, my typical hesitancy to start to work at anything (which I rationalize as my "waiting" philosophy) takes hold of me and keeps me inactive. But, once I start, then it's all down hill from there, because I go at it with full force and attention, perhaps not all the way to the finish--probably not in one go, it usually takes several widely spaced marathon sessions--but for a long way and while, doing a bulk of work until my motivation wanes.

Otherwise, I write books and stories (and pastiches, of course) piecemeal, building them up from fragments that occur to me at any odd time of day or night and are recorded in whatever way I will, saved until I do my daily journal work. The books that result are a mashup of mostly ordinary thoughts, scenes, conventions, methods, techniques, etc. If anyone would take the material of any given one of my books and organize it (a practically impossible ordeal, I admit), they would end up with a fairly conventional novel/book. It's all in there, the ordinary stuff of literature. It just happens to be, like the mind that generates it, all mixed up into an unrecognizable mass. It's analogous to what Dylan once said of (his performance of) his songs [paraphrasing very loosely here]: The notes are the same ones that are used in any song by any singer, they're all in there, he zeros in on them, eventually. And so do I; eventually, I get to the right words, the right ideas, just like, though the ordeal of winter is a long one for me, eventually I always seem to manage to get to the summer.

Today's the day the summer finally got to me. Today's the day I stop working so hard (not that I work all that hard anyway) and start to wait (not that I haven't been waiting a lot anyway). The heat (today) is not too bad, but the humidity is oppressive.

By the time June rolls around, I should be winding up the "work" aspects of my garden vision project (which is a spring motivation), so that I can turn my attention to harvesting and preserving and an appreciation of the bounty.

My conceptualization of 'areas' is the key to organization and appreciation of my life (at home). It accomplishes this via imparting a feeling of being in control. If the areas are organized, then, when I want to do something, I can just go ahead and do it, without all of the preliminary bullshit that I always have to go through, cleaning up and moving stuff to get to other stuff, etc. Or, when I don't want to do anything, I can just sit and appreciate the unclutteredness, knowing that, when I do feel like doing something, I can proceed with ease.

Areas are like lists, with the advantage that they can only be worked on via physical activity; that is, the disadvantage of a list is that you can endlessly manipulate it in order to avoid activity, but by using areas instead of lists as organizational devices, the manipulation is activity. True, you can move stuff around without actually accomplishing anything--I certainly have done a lot of that--but it's more likely that, when you start to act, you just might end up having gotten something done. The major disadvantage of areas over lists is that crap piles up until you finally, if ever, get around to doing something with it. Areas require periodic, if not continual, organization to keep them relatively clutter free. (Organization, in a sense, is "list" completion, whether the list is an actual list or just an area.)

I have outside and inside areas. I rotate around the outside areas, organizing them (which generally means trimming, weeding, pruning, and tying plants up) over a cycle of twenty days (twenty areas), which for practical purposes turns into a month since I'll end up missing at least ten days a month for reasons of rain or lack of motivation. But the inside areas are more difficult because, I figure, I'll do the outside areas in the summer and the inside areas in the winter, but in the winter I never feel like doing anything, figuring that I worked hard outside all summer so I deserve a winter break where I can hide away in my bedroom and write books and pastiches and watch tv. Outside (summertime) is easier. You're already out, which is the biggest step in any motivational procedure, the first one. The second step is a short one: actually doing the work. But sometimes I have a problem with it, as easy as it is. I always want to do (or not do) other things than gardening.

Gardening is an exercise in patience. It forces me to settle into a pattern of acceptance of my situation. (I almost wrote, "of my fate"; but if it is fate, then mine is of my own choosing.) I am a gardener, and more than that: I grow my own food, which can be a serious business when you do it the way I do, harvesting every little edible bit and eating or preserving it. But often I do not want to be tied down to that primary daily discipline. I need encouragement in this aspect of my life, which I create with words:

I see three orientations to gardening: 1) work whose results are permanent, leading toward my garden vision, a goal to create a system of highly productive, intensely compacted, fully utilized spaces filled with structures and perennials (areas); 2) temporary but important work that provides annual crops for food; 3) work that creates a temporary appearance, not only of the developing garden vision (which requires maintenance via trimming, weeding, etc.), but of a social nature as well, such as when I trim the front hedges and keep the grass cut in the areas of the yard that can be seen from the street. (This is my compromise with society: I can be as slovenly and disorganized as I want as long as I maintain an appearance of suburban normality.) This orientation to my yard work is exactly the same thing that I used to have to do at least semi-weekly before I began this garden project: cutting the grass (all at once with a lawnmower instead of piecemeal around crops with a trimmer, rotating around the areas) and trimming the hedges all the way to the back of the property (which I have since let grow up as a privacy hedge everywhere except out front where they frame my house and yard like a picture postcard of typical middle class suburbia). Gardening, then, has become a way I orient myself to an acceptance of a calm and peaceful life; but it wasn't always this way:

Throughout my younger life, I could never quite find the time and energy to follow up on all of my many interests; and it was a frustrating life experience; but after I "retired" [i.e., stopped whoring myself out to recalcitrant companies that only pretended to obey the letter and the spirit of the law and regulations while maximizing the amount of money they could grab, no matter at what expense to others], behaviors that I thought were necessary began to fall slowly away as I recognized that they were not only not necessary, but of such a time consuming nature that they continued to prevent me from doing what I really wanted to do (in addition to relaxing and actually fully appreciating life), things like showering every day or cleaning my house or...(the list goes on and on), as many others also do.

A (very partial) list designed to justify or rationalize my activities to myself when I'm feeling like I'm not getting anywhere, wasting my time and energy, etc.:

Whatever my complaints about my life may be, I do require some kind of routine to remain semi-productive; otherwise I drift off into lists I haven't even thought to compose yet. (I'm never really fully productive any more. In fact, I'm not sure I ever was. That state is an ideal I hold in my mind, but never measure up to.) But an absence of routine is not what causes me my interactional problems (like some people with my genetic predisposition report). I can break my routine for several hours, or even several days, before I begin to experience problems; and then they are more of a stressful than an interactional nature--although stress will cause interactional problems, but of a different kind, when I will turn aggressive, serving to drive away people who are irritating me and increasing my stress levels. (This is not a conscious agenda. I would never intentionally use this as a ploy to be alone.)

Rather, lack of routine, either through my own abandonment of it (I sometimes get bored with repetitive tasks and unwittingly stop doing them, only to regret it later) or because I am interrupted by some social obligation, causes, not only increasing stress, but a kind of disillusionment that will result ultimately in a deepening ennui until I reestablish my routine again. This doesn't happen in social situations, the interaction serving to distract me until I am alone, and then the effect begins. I might call the distraction from routine and the consequent ennui 'loneliness', a reaction to being increasingly without companionship, except that I never consciously feel lonely, nor alone. The whole package doesn't too well make for a very satisfying romantic life.

social weakness

Is it love/romance we want or is it sex? Wouldn't it be helpful to know, and also to know that we can have the one without the other? Maybe it's preferable to love the person with whom you are having sex, but not necessarily all the time. Sometimes it feels good to have sex with someone who is just a friend; sometimes it feels good to masturbate.

Does that sound like a man? The notion that men masturbate and/or have sex with strangers/whores because men need sex in a way that women do not, that they are animals, predators, leads to the opposite notion that women are the poor little victims who are preyed upon. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nancy Friday, Women On Top
A long time ago, while on vacation in Florida, I was peripherally engaged in a discussion that edged on this topic. My aunt claimed, as if it were common knowledge and needed no proof at all, that men and women are different when it comes to sex. Equally dogmatic but in language that didn't appear quite so (which is typical of me in my passive aggressive way), I said something like, "Oh, I don't think so."

That was the end of that brief conversation; but the exchange has stayed with me and still haunts me from time to time when my thoughts turn in this direction. I didn't know exactly how, back then, that this was true, but I felt that it was. I still believe it to be true that men and women are existentially pretty much the same sexually and the difference we think we see is either culturally imposed or a biological difference that is easily overcome if the woman is clever enough and determined enough to understand the heritage she's been saddled with.

I agree with all of what Nancy Friday says in her book Women On Top, except that I want to think that heterosexual women's attitude toward men (giving over, being swept away, being taken care of) is not so much cultural as she seems to want to believe as it is biological (evolutionary); i.e., it's an evolutionary instinct that is culturally supported. (Which came first, the chicken or the instinct?)

Women, according to Friday, are different re sexual issues and motivations only because, culturally scripted, they choose to be so, to their detriment. But choice is a funny animal when it gets all tied up with unconscious motivations. I now believe that women are somewhat different, but only in that they choose to be in this cultural way; instead of standing up to their evolution and saying no to it and choosing to be free of it, they submit, according to their bio-psychological nature.

Defying one's biology can be done. Many women have done it; and I myself have done it, freeing myself of inherent macho instincts (though I had a big genetic head-start that allows me to resist the cultural dictates that support the evolutionary ones). We can negate our evolutionary heritage, perhaps not permanently (yet; but just wait and see what DNA therapy does in our brave new world), but in a way that allows us the freedom to act the way we want to act, according to our more advanced attitudes and beliefs.

Although I didn't know it at the time, my comment to my aunt during that brief conversation in Florida was an Asperger's smyptom, an example of how I will hit upon an idea that is the pinnacle of a complex belief that extends down through my conscious mind into the murky layers below where I am hardly aware of what's what (if I am aware at all) and blurt it out, perfectly convince of the truth of the statement, but unable to support it with the logic and intuition that lies buried and needs to be dug out in a long, drawn out process.

I do this all the time and then leave people hanging via some deflection if they should take issue with the idea or ask for further explanation of it. And then I feel obligated to go home and work out the explanation via mental archeology. Even though the subject will probably never come up again, I want to be prepared, just in case, later, someone might want to follow up. I feel like, if I do not do this, I am remiss in my duty to provide the necessary support for the truths I spout out.

I tell the truth. It's a social weakness, a function of my genetics. And when I feel that it may not be appropriate to tell the truth (in rarer moments of foresight), when I feel like I'm going to have to compromise myself and lie, I tend to shut up instead. And, in the process of telling the truth, I am not always prepared (mentally, in the moment) to be less than blunt--although, when I've planned out a truth "intervention" ahead of time, I can be the epitome of tact. Otherwise, people who can't handle the truth should stay away from me.

Also, I often find myself appreciating people who tell me the truth (about myself--general truth is merely fact; personal truth is what I'm really writing about here), especially if they tactfully prepare me for it, but even when they do it bluntly. There is little at this late date that I don't know about myself, so it's unlikely that anyone is going to tell me something I don't know; and, in any case, the revelation of personal truth doesn't threaten me at all. I am so used to seeking out my hidden truth and welcoming it when I find it that I am unaffected negatively when others happen to reveal it to me.

I've always been this way. Never felt threatened by the truth. Always welcomed it; or, more likely, I shut down when confronted with truth I've never come across before and wait until later, alone, to process it from memory, meanwhile agreeing congenially with the truth teller. But, always, reassessing later, I appreciate having been told. I even appreciate it when the truth teller is relating, not truth, but misperception, so long as it is not mean spirited and/or manipulative behavior. Generally, I appreciate attempts to inform me of what others think is true about me or how others perceive me.

So it's difficult for me to comprehend why others become offended when I do the same thing for/to them. People can be so sensitive when it comes to the truth, both personal and general [such as when it offends their system of (erroneous) belief]. And I would try to avoid doing it for this reason alone; but I can't, always. I'm hardwired to be literal and software overrides (learning via education, training, and experience) can't always "correct" the "problem," especially during stressful times.

genocentric jerks

Last night I finally gave in and drove up to the shopping center. It was way past time to exercise the car and it was just too hot to walk anyway and I wanted some chocolate and chips after having abstained from junk food for well over two weeks. I also got some bread, cheese, peanut butter, and yogurt, because I'm getting kind of tired of the ground turkey, rice, and garden vegetables that I've been making into a kind of soup(y substance that I call gruel).

And now, tonight, after a junk food binge, I'm feeling kind of queasy and with increased body pain that is centered in my back, which I theorizing may have been caused by the junk food, the "good" (i.e., bland, additive-free--except for homegrown spices, which I theorize are okay) diet being responsible for (I further theorize, being in a profoundly theoretical mood) my relatively pain-free existence so far this summer; or, it could be the change in the sudden weather (weather channel aches and pains index has been none to low so far with a rare peak into moderate) that's caused this touchy physical attitude.

I think I may have seen this coming in my mental periphery, I'm not sure. I'm going to have to do some means testing to see if the junk food and/or the weather is the cause. I need to dredge up from the depths of my brain my experimental methodology and apply myself more scientifically to my life again. I used to do that sort of thing all the time, but any more it just seems like too much work. Meanwhile...

I've finally networked my desktop and laptop.

    File archiving method:
  1. Tried connecting laptop directly to desktop to see if it works. Yes!! It does--after six hours of futzing around with it, after having had only half an hour sleep the night before. (I'm so spaced.) So there's no need to use flash drives--although I might want to develop that method too for small amounts of files, thereby dis-necessitating having to schlep the laptop out to the desktop and balancing it precariously on some surface where it's too small to fit safely and where the network cable, which is only three feet long (I can't complain, I got it at Dollar Tree for a buck last night), is stretched to its limit and dangerously bent at the plug.
  2. Move files to temp folder in main archives directory. Temp folder should have sub-folders that correspond to archives sub-folders. (Keep total size below 4GB to accommodate Kingston flash drive.)
  3. Copy the temp folder contents to flash drive. (Compare the contents for accuracy.)
  4. Transfer the flash drive to second computer's temp archive. (Compare again.)
  5. Move temp file contents to respective archive folders.*
  6. *Or, if done in one step via networked computers: Change network from public to private. (It reverts to public every time the cable is disconnected). This is not absolutely necessary, but I worry that its contents will be available online. I have to check that out to see if it's true. So, at least, I should always do this if I am online when I connect the laptop to the desktop. But wait. Aren't the shared files available even if the computers aren't connected? I just checked and apparently not.

The above is an example of my overly categorical brain function. I feel the need to deveop a procedure for everything I do that I might need to do again. Aspies (auties in general) have a need for routine. Disruption of the routine causes stress and mental disturbance. This need is also expressed as literalness. If you say things will be a certain way, then they better be exactly that way; or else you're simply wrong, and we are consequently disturbed. Changes in plans bother us, sometimes severely. We plan things out and when things do not go according to plans, we stop, perhaps even freezing up, and we re-plan. For me, this process can take days, or even weeks and months. I have formulated my "waiting mode" as a response to this need complex. I make (or remake) the plan (or 'analysis' provoked by a previous interaction that changed a plan or expectation) and then I wait for the right time to (re-)implement it; because to rush right out and try to "correct' a mis-implemented plan would cause more stress than the original mis-implemetation. Waiting is.

The world is unpredictable, which doesn't seem to bother NTs very much; but it can bother auties a great deal; and so we make plans and develop procedures to remove or meliorate the fickle nature of the cosmos. [When I first learned of Quantum mechanics, it was a very unpalatable idea for me; and for Einstein also, who, it is reported, was autistic. But, through continued study, I have come to accept it as one of those sets of natural laws that science is as yet incapable of fully explaining. Quantum mechanics is.]

The unpredictability extends even into my own psyche. Some days I do just fine and am at the top of my intellectual and perceptual form; other days I am lethargic and dim-witted. This is an unacceptable state of affairs for me. If it were up to me, I would be, always, in top form; but, since I am not, I must make allowances: I (make plans and then wait to) go out when I feel that the time is right, which goes a very long way toward assuring a predictable social outcome; and I act according to routine plans and procedures to assure the same result. I, at best, merely tolerate people who are so foolish as to try to convince me to thwart my long-developed methodology in favor of what they might see as their more spontaneous or emergency mode behavior; or worse, I blow them off; or worst, when they keep at me and refuse to let me be, I explode at them, which they do not at all understand why I would have cause to act that way, because they are blind, ignorant assholes who disregard all the early "warning signs" such as me repeatedly informing them that I could not comply with what it was they wanted me to do. People who expect me to be like them, and especially people who insist on it, are assholes I try my best to permanently avoid.

At home, in my "off" time, I engage in perseverative tasks and curiosities, which provide predictable and reliable outcomes: listening to the same music over and over again; repeatedly engaging in the same fantasies. At the same time, I hate repetitive chores: washing dishes, cutting hedges, anything that must be re-done again and again. The difference between these two groups of preoccupations has to do with their creative and/or intellectual stimulation. The former stimulates, the latter does not. It's the same thing as physical stimming, except that it's mental.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am not a non-social person. I do quite well among people; or, rather, among people one-on-one. I hate crowds because they throw ideas at me too quickly and erratically. But when I'm dealing with a single person at a time, I'm properly stimulated and stimulating and behave as a sociable person should, as long as I do not perceive that the other person is trying to manipulate or coerce me into doing something I do not want to or am not prepared to do.

But I have the reputation of being non-social (or even anti-social, when the people who accuse me of it are ignorant assholes who don't know what they're talking about) because, when I am in a crowd and become overloaded, my natural response is to shut up, shut down, and wait, at best dealing with only one thread of input at a time and blowing off the rest. People who do not understand the difference between social and genetically determined traits, who believe that auties are non-social beings, are genocentric jerks who are far less sociable than they pretend to be. Truly sociable people include all types within their society. If our society belongs to NTs only, then it is an elitist oligarchy.

It may not truly be an oligarchy, that's just hyperbole (though it certainly is elitist, with most people from the middle class on up erroneously believing that they are members of the elite), but that's how I feel about it; because I need a scapegoat to blame for the way the society scapegoats me. When I'm out in it too long, I start to feel like I have to escape from the people who are hunting me down. (I said feel. I know they're not really hunting me down. I'm not paranoid--at the moment.)

moving on

Well the night weighs heavy on his guilty mind
This far from the border line.
When the hitman comes,
He knows damn well he has been cheated.
Golden Earring, "When the Bullet Hits the Bone"
I'm in a motel up on Bolte Drive, just past Davis's house. The area has the atmosphere of a vacation resort. I'm on a kind of weekend retreat, sent here by my company as a kind of reward. I'm alone. In the morning, as I'm leaving the room, two women from the company, lesbians, are moving into the room. The older woman leaves for a minute and the younger one expresses doubt that she should be here, that they're not getting along, that something is wrong. I tell her that I'm leaving on a kind of extended vacation and she's welcome to come with me, but she declines, thanking me and telling me she appreciates the offer. I tell her that it's a standing offer, that it has no deadline. I leave, and she follows me, at a distance, imagining that I don't know she's there. It's almost pitch black outside. There are no streetlights anywhere and the only way I can see is via the natural ability of humans' eyes to adjust to night vision. Although the girl remains a woman, it's as if she's turned into a huge black cat (a la the movie Cat People, except that she is not a wild animal, but a domestic cat that is as big as a panther).

I awaken at three a.m., unable to sleep on, even though all I've gotten is a fitful five hours. Ghostbusters was on the tv as I slept and its scenes were seeping into my dreams, but I can't remember them now. I turn off the tv, thinking I might be able to go back to sleep without its interference; but it doesn't work. I begin to think about my past:

My life, like my last dream, seems so strange. I lived in all these different places and, looking back, I can't really call any of them home. They seem like such aliens environments now, places to visit in my dreams, but not places I'd want to go back to, no nostalgia, no comfort derived from them, nor from the people or family that were there. I left those places as my life progressed, step by step, moving on, never looking back, never regretting leaving, never even considering if I should go or not, the next place, and the next, and the next, each a small step farther on in my life; but none of them significant, only places I had been.

All of my past is like a series of dreams, there's no affective difference between my dreams and my past reality, no real distinction of the imagery. My dreams conjure up these places and change them, mapping other places I have been and never been onto them. Something is going on here, but I have no idea what it is; what it isn't may be more significant: It is not my past, it's something else, some aberration. The past is gone and these distorted memories have taken its place, filled with an oddness of feeling, like I didn't belong there when I was there though I didn't feel that way at the time, like the quaintness of the setting is more like that of a period movie than of my life, like something was missing when I was back there that I didn't feel missing then, like there should have been something that oriented me and kept me grounded, but instead I floated on through it all like a visitor.

Extrapolating, I assume that this same situation exists in my present. It's not hard to imagine myself ten years from now looking back upon this time and place and feeling the same way as I do now about this past. I doubt that I'll ever move from here, but, still, this place doesn't feel like home. It's the only home I know, but it feels a lot like those past homes that I don't feel, now, were very homey. It's just a place to be, a base of operations, a location to be safe in, huddled away from the dangers of the world. That should be the very definition of a home; but I know that the bigbad world can get in here any time it wants to, that there is no place that is safe in that way; and that has always seemed to be the case with everywhere I've lived. All of my homes have been temporary havens, caves found in hillsides away from the cold on my journey without a destination across an alien landscape.

I'm beginning to feel very morose. The emptiness of the silent night, its overwhelming gloom, is seeping into the bedroom and darkening the single small light on the bedstead. Still, this is all I've got, these walls and ceiling, to protect me from the dangers out there. Maybe this is all there is to a home, after all. Some people (want to) believe that it is not the place, but the people you're with, that make a home. That may be true, but not in my case; and, I guess, not in my past either. Though my family was an ordinary family, I was not--am not--so ordinary. Maybe I don't deserve a home. Or maybe I am my own home. That seems more like the case; because I'm very comfortable in here. I'd let you in, but I'm not sure that'd be too wise. This is the best I can do, sending out these documents that report on the state of affairs in here. A lot of the time I mistakenly believe that I'm writing about what's going on out there; but it's not true. It's all happening in here, the analysis and interpretation. Out there, in that foreign country, I am never home. This seems like a big revelation for me: I am my own home, which I transport with me like a caravan. Sounds right. Let's see how I feel about it in the morning.

crazy theories

The sun is a fireball on the horizon. It burns its way into my house through the front picture window and I echo its passion. Life burns like a fire inside the human body, more literally than most people imagine, I think. I've thought this for a long time now, but I never paid close enough attention to my own life burning until recently. Now, as I've zeroed in on it, I realize that the burn, slow and smoldering though it is, sometimes flares up and endangers the integrity of the surrounding landscape.

It could very well happen, I think, that scientists within the medical establishment will solve life's most basic problem, death, in the near future. They're very close as it is, with their advanced abilities to keep most patients alive for an exceptionally long time, if the patients have enough money to pay for it. This is the problem: (Quality) life costs money. So you (they) have to make value judgments.

I'd say that they already have the ability to keep people alive for hundreds of years and they're keeping it a secret because they know that it will create a revolution when the people who cannot afford the treatments learn of its exclusivity, except that that's a conspiracy theory and I know that people don't keep secrets that well, not those kinds of secrets, and not even the ordinary kind. If that kind of technology existed, someone would spill the beans. And I haven't even heard that conspiracy theory, outside of my own mind.

I know that all conspiracy theories are not in fact true. I know this because of the nature of the knowledge they purport to reveal. When you look at it from a certain perspective, when you focus on their presentation, an obvious distinction becomes apparent: It's like watching a science show on television. There are two types: The first is a straightforward informational program that takes you step by step through a series of facts and leads you to scientific conclusions. The evidence is evident and the conclusion jumps right out at the observant and discerning mind. The second type of show, however, presents "facts" as they are purported to exist by the conspiracy theorists (a mixed batch of actual facts and imagined or fabricated ones) and leads you to no real scientific conclusions, stopping short of that point so that the integrity of the (science and history of the) program, if not the theorists viewpoints and perspectives, is maintained. In effect, the programs' stance becomes: "This is what they say is happening, but no valid conclusions can be reached."

All conspiracy theories are of this second type: They can be neither proven nor disproven. But, if they were true, then someone would have talked, someone in the know would have revealed, not evidence-less "facts" and hearsay, but actual data and proven conclusions capable of being investigated and verified. No entity, not the most secretive governmental regime in the world (and ours, though we often think of it as such--a residue left behind by the conspiracy theorists--is certainly not one of these), can keep a secret for very long. This is a simple fact that is provable, if only some enterprising historian would turn her or his attention in this direction: Secrets are not kept for very long, by anyone, neither personally nor historically.

Yes, the truth is out there, literally right in front of our faces; but most people don't want to know it and are more interested in believing the crazy theories, the ones that can't be proven, nor disproven. They want to believe, but not the truth. They want to believe that all of the craziness is true. They don't want to do the only slightly harder work of applying a disciplined scientific method to the issue and determining the actual truth, or lack of it. It's only slightly easier (and humans almost always take the easier path) to imagine that all the fabulist theories that exist are true. This is the reason for the origin and propagation of religion as well as of all of the occult perspectives. (The two classes are not that far apart, distinguishable only by a mainstream acceptance of their esoteric dogma and theories as ordinary "truth" that is not understood for what it truly is, but rather accepted superficially and by rote.)

I didn't intend to write about all of this here. All of that just popped into my head after I began. What I'd intended to do was issue a 'state of the body' report: I walked up to the shopping center yesterday to get my photo driver's license reissued and to pick up a few food items. Despite the fact that I haven't walked in well over a month, the exercise went rather smoothly, except that, when I returned home, I realized the toll it had taken. In the moment, moment to moment, exercise doesn't seem to bother me; but after the fact... I ate, had a beer, took some naproxen, and went to bed. I awoke half an hour later feeling better; but as the evening wore on I became increasingly "disturbed" by an inner feeling of, how shall I describe it? Discomfort. Usually, I do not examine these states too closely. I haven't wanted, throughout my life, to know what's wrong with me. I'd rather think everything is all right and that I have no physical (nor even mental) problems at all. This perspective, I believe, keeps me healthier via avoiding self-fulfilling prophecies and slowing down aging issues. But...

Last night, returning to bed after several mentally exhausting hours of taxing financial work trying to reconstruct past monthly accounts that I've been neglecting since long before last winter's computer disaster, I began a closer examination of, oh, let's call it my "energy state". Not quite accurately descriptive, but okay in part. I experience, as I tried to describe above, a kind of "burning" after I exercise. Not the usual muscle sensation to which the phrase "feel the burn" applies, but something subtler, more internal, deeper in the core of the body's "being". This is not, I think, a change of state so much as it's an intensification into an abnormal range of the normal state of existence, such as that which inspires the phrase "burning calories."

(I could be wrong here, since the problem I have has to do with inflammation and perhaps infection spreading either toward or away from my spine, up from or down to my intestines and into my head and heart; but I could also be right.) In any case, the condition is chronic and flare-ups result in my eventual incapacitation unless I take decisive action to stop the spread of whatever it is that's spreading--sparked and aggravated by exercise. Before the flare-ups, when I do nothing, I am at my best re this problem; after the flare-ups, immediate and dedicated action is required: NSAIDs, rest, and recuperation. Not the best state of affairs for accomplishing anything--except perhaps writing. Which very well could be why I've chosen to allow this discipline to predominate over all the other possibilities that lie within my wide range of interest.

On the other hand, I need a certain, perhaps small, amount of exercise, perhaps a lot less than I most often believe and certainly less than walking two and a half miles, especially when I will sometimes do it day after day. I think I can attribute the severe acute problem I had with back pain last year to my incessant and persistent garden work as I struggled, determined, to get it all done, to dig and build and toil long day and evening after longer day and evening to achieve a large part of my "garden vision" while the weather was warm and inviting--which is the worst time of the year to do this kind of work, when the humidity is as high as it gets around here.

Anyway, that's what I wanted to write about this morning. Not nearly so profound as I thought it was going to be; but I've got the feeling that, once again, I've skipped over some important details. Maybe they'll occur to me later. (But maybe not.) Oh, yeah, now I remember: recovery. After any kind of exercise (and I use that word in its loosest sense), I crash and sleep, usually not so very long as often, in a series of long naps of several hours, separated by long lackadaisical periods of doing not much of anything, allowing my mind to drift to wherever it will go, perhaps haphazardly going through the motions of organizing some physical or mental area, accomplishing a lot maybe, but not with any real motivation or intent, just something to do to occupy the time between naps. And over the next day or two, as my "internal temperature" (if this is literal, it is of the very slightest, immeasurable--I've tried to measure it--degree) drops back to my normal baseline, I begin again to go about my ordinary day and night. This recovery has to do entirely with my spine and its peripheral appendages, the various offshoots of nerves and whatnot that transmit the inflammation to other body parts, back and forth. This "system" has to settle down and, with the help of rest and NSAIDs, it eventually does.

Stress is another factor that influences the inflammation in a negative way. (Actually, the physical influence is also stress, but I'm dealing here, now, with that mental component that we more readily think of when we hear the word; and, in fact, the mental component is, when we examine it closely, really a physical (physiological) one, in that our "mind" (which may not really exist at all, but rather be the mere net neural/chemical functioning of the brain) provokes a bodily reaction, which is the real stress.

I become stressed (initially mentally; that is, before the stress occurs, I react badly to cues presented to my "mind") when people act in certain specific ways toward me, the most prevalent of which is how (I perceive that) I am being manipulated. I generalize, from all of the times that people have "convinced" me, via persistent badgering (twice can be persistent when I am in the wrong mood), to do things I don't want to do:

"You know, I really like you. I liked you the first time I met you. But I don't appreciate the way you try to manipulate me and impose your will on me, and if you don't stop it, I don't think we can be friends."

She pretends to (perhaps even to herself) not know what I'm talking about. I try to explain, but I have to give it up. She's either dense or highly repressive, and my attempt to be tactful and talk around the subject probably didn't help either. So, instead, later, at home alone, I complete the conversation, as a format for future similar occurrences:

"I told you, twice, I didn't want to _____. I want you to respect my decision and stop trying to make me do what I'm not comfortable [or don't feel like] doing [or don't want to do]."

When people ask me for something, or worse, demand it, and I say no, and they persist, trying to change my mind, I try to understand why they want to control me; but, first, before I glean any information from the situation, before I begin any analysis and interpretation, I must make the attempts at manipulation stop. And if the only way to do that is to get physically away, if mental distance will not accomplish the task, then I will get away. Only then can my attempt to understand (the manipulator) begin.

The girl in question (woman, actually) wants to date me. A friend of hers told me this, supposedly as a secret. I know what "wants to date me" actually means and I'm silly, I guess, for not just dealing with her on that level. It's not like she's a teenage homecoming queen who's expecting me to fall in love with her or anything. But I can't help myself. I'm so (self-)indoctrinated into perceiving manipulation in every "social" encounter that I automatically act to negate it. I always want to insist that people approach me with at least as much insight into the human situation as I try to approach others with; but most people, I guess, are not hard-wired (or soft-wired; i.e., educated) in that way. They're more instinctual:

looking for Miss Goodbar

Why'd ya have ta go and pick me,
when you knew that we were different, completely.
No Doubt,"Ex-girlfriend"
Forget about advanced human insight. Those are the words of a girl who doesn't understand men. Surprising, huh? I'd have thought that Stephanie was a whole lot wiser. Well, maybe she is--now. Maybe she's learned a little bit since she wrote that song. But we all see the world through our own filters, and that certainly is a common perspective through the eyes of a culturally bound woman. Ask any man and he'll tell you why you were "picked". It has very little to do with compatibility and difference.

A man "hitting on" a woman is ordinary, expected behavior from a conventional point of view; but the interpretations placed upon the act by typical men and women vary significantly. Women understand this act to be the first step in a courtship ritual, an implicit promise of an intimate relationship. Men see it as, well, we all know how men see it, except perhaps Gwen Stephanie.

And when, as a matter of course as she ages, a woman becomes jaded with the "dating" process and begins thinking in terms of just getting laid, well, it can be disheartening when it's done, not out of a sense of enlightenment, as the scales of illusion begin to fall away to reveal the truth of social artifice, but rather out of a sense of disillusionment without that insight.

I look for something different in relationships (though I seldom find it): I want a sense of "presence", which I define as existing along a spectrum ranging from psychological intimacy (or "pre-intimacy"; most commonly, but perhaps superficially recognized as "attraction") through eye contact, co-existing without expectation, "chatting," and finally sex, if she will ever decide to start something. I never want to just jump into bed; well, that's not really true. I always just want to jump into bed. But I never actually allow it. Not for a very long time. And mostly because, once I do allow it, I then don't want the relationship to end. This is a female orientation, I know; and I don't so much appreciate it when a woman takes the man's orientation--until she gets to know me very well.

To get around my genetic difficulties, I typically substitute for chatting, a social or personal reason to be together, working on a mutual project or concern that enables casual exchanges without any of the "pressure" I experience. (Chatting is one of my major weaknesses and, unless she is determined to keep it up, it will die off and leave us with awkward silences, which are meliorated by the diversionary work at hand.) I also use a close working relationship to establish a casual and "innocent" physical touch that sends a message without a necessity to speak of it.

Verbal statements of intent to get together disorient me; or rather my intent to do it disorients (stresses) me. And, in any case, the arrangement of making a date only postpones my problem, when it will be necessary to carry on a conversation with the woman under even more trying circumstances. (I am far better acting spontaneously than I am acting under pressure; but even spontaneity can escape me a lot of the time.)

The whole object here is to avoid the necessity for small talk or "coded" talk. She should either state her purpose outright (which is unlikely, given the reticent nature of most women, especially the more conventional ones) or proceed without talk (which is even more in opposition to most women's agenda). I really do, as I have been accused of, set up an impossible set of conditions for women who want to get to know me. But, hey; it's the way I protect myself. Because, ladies, you know goddam well that, at the first opportunity, you're going to try to manipulate me; and I'm probably not going to notice--until it's too late.

no escape

Women manipulate men because evolution selected in favor of the manipulators over a long period of time when paternalism dominated the social order and the only recourse that women had to express their will and wield power was to develop their skills to manipulate men behind the scenes. And they're still doing it, even though they now have far more direct access to power (though, admittedly, still not anywhere near to equality with men).

This is not to say that men are not manipulators also. They are. They tend to be more direct in matters of power, but they're not above manipulative tactics if they happen to serve their purpose. But they tend use them far less in relations between the sexes. I find it all disgusting, the whole manipulative agenda of the human race; yet I also am not above it; which reveals my disgust as a projection. But then who didn't know that wasn't coming?

I find myself, often, wishing I weren't a writer. It's such a duplicitous medium, fraught with (its own mechanisms of) manipulative agendas. I wish I had the exacting focus to have become a musician. What a carefree life that could have been. My (genetically determined?) preoccupation with words weighs on me, when I feel like I would be far better off if I could just release myself and go with the flow of magical musical notes.

Words have meaning. Music is just music. When people say that music has meaning, they're talking about a different kind of meaning, a more primitive, global, universal form, a pre-thought anti-logic that is more like feeling, though imbued with a sense of what we "think" of today as meaning, yet without the precision that language seems to want to impart (though often does not quite manage). Music frees the soul, when words often tie it up.

But, here I am, bound to the meaning of words, and there seems to be no escape. I am genetically programmed to be what I am. (Aren't we all?) Which would be just fine with me if only the talent went all the way and allowed me to use my skills to my social betterment; but the same "limitation" that focuses me on language at the same time defocuses me on society. I'd call that ironic, but it seems more just a matter of mere coincidence instead.

Yet, although I often find that writing catches me up in its (logical and discursive) little traps, it can also be, in its immediate execution, a freeing experience. The mere fact that I come to circuitous conclusions (full-circle logical analyses) is a kind of release, pointing to the futility of trying to word experience instead of living it. If only I could just finish the writing, be done with it, and send it off, I'd be much happier, I think.

I desperately need an editor/agent. (Well, it's not all that desperate a need. I'm such a drama queen). I can't afford to actually pay anyone to do this job, but I would happily forego the lion's share of any proceeds my writing might generate in order to retain the services someone who would read my work, suggest specific corrections and ways that it could be put together in a more commercial manner, supervise rewrite, and market it.

This could be an "initiate" or interested or disinterested aide (helper, devotee, etc.) who works with manuscripts while I'm alive, editing, canvassing markets, etc., learning what it is I'm trying to do; and, after I die, continuing the work, collating remaining bits and pieces, putting together finished books, adding transitions (indicated then as not my work, but hers), and managing my literary (and maybe even my monetary) estate.

I have a fantasy that this editor/agent would also be my most dedicated and loyal girlfriend; but maybe that's just a single step too far. In fact, maybe my whole life is a step, or two or three, or miles, too far. Maybe it's true that I always bite off far more than I can chew, as my mother always used to tell me. It's getting too late in my life even to be concerned with this kind of lame idle hope. I should be settled in by now, content with my lot.

It's a cruel trick that nature plays, creating life forms with expiration dates. I've been noticing lately that nature plays a number of cruel tricks. The one that comes immediately to mind is winter: Nature eases us into a false sense of security during the summer, lets us lay back and enjoy the warmth and plenty, and then it takes it all away and plunges us into a dark, cold hell for several months. To be fair, it does give us a warning: autumn.

And, to be fairer, some people, weirdoes, consider summer to be hell and winter heaven. And, to be fairer still, nature doesn't do anything to us at all; it was the way it was before we (individually and as a species) were born into it. But, we can take the logic a step farther and say that the cruelest trick of all is to change the environment to the extent that we must evolve through genetic mutation or die (off). Genetics is a bitch of a mother.

But, again, if it weren't for genetic mutation, we wouldn't be here in the first place; because change happens in both the environment and in the life forms that inhabit it. So, really, the cruelest trick of all, right from the start, is change. (But, to be fair one final time, without change, we would all be pre-particles mashed into a singularity.) I want, so much, to change, frequently; but I'm genetically determined to remain the same. Ironic?

It must be obvious by now that I don't like change any more than I like authority. It's a symptom of my difability. And yet I myself keep changing (even when I don't want to) as much as my environment does. I have so many plans and goals, so many diverse interests, that I want to express. (Thus, I bite of more than…) And (it seems, but probably is not really true, that the causality is exactly reversed, that) my engine of change is my dreams:

1. 6023: I'm interacting with my family, but feeling increasingly put-upon (details forgotten), so I retreat into my bedroom. Others still insist on trying to relate to me and so I begin gradually to go into an "autistic" state of existence until I am all but catatonic. Family members come into my room to try to relate to me and are nonplussed that I will not react to them in any way except by retreating across the room from them and screaming, huddling in a corner, hands protecting my head or stimming. They all give up on me except Dianne (who also, in some non-elaborative way, represents our mother, who remains in the outer rooms, but whose "understanding,' hands-off attitude is with Dianne in here with me), remaining when the others leave, trying to comfort me from a distance (which seems to be her general current family role in reality), not allowing herself to get too close, lest I react badly toward her. Eventually, with her patience and encouragement, I begin to come out of my retreat and talk to her, and to others who re-enter the room; but I speak in a kind of both reticent and "compromised" way, as if I am a young child or as if I have a speech defect, although it is more of a "mental" defect that one of speech. During this entire episode, I feel like I am two people: an autistic child who feels so threatened that he must react in a terrified, withdrawing manner with all kinds of odd screeches and body movements; and a rational adult who is watching this behavior in himself and even thinking of it as a kind of pretense, as if I'm saying to myself, "I have to act this way because you're threatening me, but I'm not really this way, I'm really quite all right if only you keep your distance."

When I awaken, my reaction is "Oh, wow!" I feel like I've been inhabiting the bodymind of a severely autistic kid, and yet, in another way, I feel like I am that kid, and that my symptoms, though not anywhere nearly so severe, are of the same variety, only differing by degree. Most people have exactly the wrong idea about how autistics feel. They are separated, people reason, and so that must feel somewhat less than human (since, everyone knows that to be human is to an integral, contributing part of a functional social group); therefore, they must feel less than competent.

But they don't! If anything, they feel highly competent, at least re their own selves. They are self-contained and self-sufficient and don't need you except for the very basic survival supplies that keep them alive; and, in a way, they resent you because they require you to supply that need. As they age, their growth orientation is toward further independence, using the development of social skills not as a means of joining in, but as a way to sustain their autonomy. In short, despite the actual physical circumstances of their existence, they don't psychologically need you; and they never will, no matter how "socialized" you manage to convince them to become. They feel superior to you, not inferior, like you infer. They are better off, separated as far as possible from the craziness you call society. Out of the goodness of your heart, you want to re-incorporate them? It's not what they want and you're not doing them any favor by trying to change them; in fact, you're doing them a disservice, by trying to impose yourself and your society upon them. Cut it out.

2. I hang around the neighborhood down in the plan in Rosedale, both engaged somehow in work (as if I am doing yard work at various houses, although this is not a part of the dream imagery) and sort of lurking around, secretly scoping out the area, as if I'm an outsider who does not belong. I watch several housewives go about their ordinary daily tasks until one of them notices me. At first, I do not know her, but later I recognize her as Eileen. I'm her lover and she is trying to hide me from her husband, at first physically, and later, when he knows of my presence, by a pretense that I am engaged in some kind of domestic work. Meanwhile, simultaneous to this thread, she sends me off out across a semi-barren hill (now no longer Rosedale) where stubby trees look/feel like they've been burned away in a huge fire, to a highway adjacent to the housing plan, where I am supposed to go to a car dealer to pick up something for her. From this distance, I "look back" (I can't actually see anything, but I kind of imagine I can) and "see" (understand) her acting the same way toward three other guys as she had acted toward me, leading all of us along, secretly having sex with each of us and hiding her amorous adventures from her husband, who suspects her activities, but has no proof and so must remain patient, open-minded, and sociable toward her and us. [Not all that far off from the truth of our relationship.]

3. 640: From inside the house, I hear a huge truck out on the street, it's back-up warning beeper sounding. [Later, awake, I realize that this was the garbage truck seeping into my dream.] I look out the side window to see a huge eighteen-wheeler back up through my neighbor's side yard into the back. I don't understand why it would be doing this, and when I realize that new neighbors are moving into the house (which has been vacant for several months), I still don't understand why the truck had to back into the back yard. I go outside when I see people in the driveway calling to a dog that has come into my yard and is playing with my dog. Having dog ownership in common, we become friendly. The woman is young and beautiful in that ordinary young housewife way [cf., previous dream], and I am highly attracted to her, and, I notice, she to me. She has two teenage kids, a girl and a guy, which she seems too young to have. She flirts with me subtly as we talk, even though her husband stands nearby. For some reason, we all go inside my house, which turns into 6023. She continues to flirt with me, becoming more and more obvious about it, which makes me uncomfortable. As we continue to talk (she and I and my mother talk together and the others are off having their own conversation), I observe her face, which is highly detailed: the shape of the nose and lips, the brows, the texture of the skin. When I awaken, I am amazed at the detail I observed in the dream. I feel like I should know this woman; but I have no idea who she is.

I awaken out of dreams feeling changed, even when I don't remember them. Something happens to me, some metamorphosis that I can't quite pinpoint, a feeling of change without any objective evidence of it, the world a different place or I a different person, perhaps slightly more developed as a result of my inner experience, having processed lessons from the previous day, a bit more evolved as a result, even mutated a bit to be a better (or worse) fit into a world that did not change or changed in a different direction from me. I don't know. Maybe it's all just my imagination. But even if that is all it is, that's change too, isn't it?