by j-a

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November 2008

And The Dream Goes On

hedgin' and edgin'

A platypus, or sloth, am I. I live a life of ease.
Contented not to do or die, but idle as I please.
I have three toes on either foot, and have a doze on both.
With leaves and fruits and shoots to eat, how sweet to be a sloth.

The world is such a cheerful place when viewed from upside down.
It makes a rise of every fall, a smile of every frown.
I watch the fleeting flutter-by of butterfly and moth
and think of all the things I'd try if I were not a sloth.

I'm always ready to admit to anxiety (to myself at least), not necessarily to be able to "cure" it (although admitting that you have a problem is the first step to its solution), but just to try to live in a real world, without (so much) denial; but for the most part I've learned how to live with the problem and ameliorate its worst effects. But, when it comes to depression, I always seem to be equivocating. Yeah, I'm probably depressed, sometimes a lot, but I always use the "defense" that I don't feel depressed; yet I have a lot of the standard symptoms of depression:

Lying around in bed instead of getting up and doing things, rearranging my life so that for long periods of time I don't have to do anything, the inability to get a full night's sleep, etc.; but I don't feel sad, or melancholy, or whatever, I feel just fine; and, even when I force myself, for whatever reason, for social obligations or my own personal "ambition," to get up and about and do things, I feel no consequent "depressive backlash"; if anything, I feel better, more able, more "fulfilled," if anything, less depressive.

But, when I take a realistic look ahead at my life and realize that there is no way I'm ever going to get everything done that I have planned, I begin to wonder if maybe I really am depressed, because I begin to feel, still not actually "depressed," but more like discouraged or demotivated, not wanting to do anything, because, well, why bother? As long as I'm going along in my typical frame of mind, doing whatever, working on projects bit by bit, or not, but only planning them out and lying around instead, preoccupied in fantasy, I'm fine.

The problems begin when I start to get ambitious; because ambition breeds an attitude that requires you to deal with reality, which more often than not puts all kinds of obstacles in your way. Ennui, then, is my defense against adopting a dejected outlook re all of the hard work involved in completing all of the tasks and goals that I see out ahead of me. If I adopt an attitude of not caring, then I don't have to feel disappointed that I will never get it all done. Once I start caring, the affect begins to build.

The obvious answer to this dilemma is to approach the projects one by one: choose a project and work on it. But this is where my difability kicks in: My reduced ability to focus, combined with the need I have to focus on just one thing in order to accomplish it, reduces my ambition so significantly that I have to guard against the disappointment by excluding all of the other goals (not to mention daily tasks and ordinary chores) from my mind; and yet all I need to do is entertain the thought of them again for a moment and I'm right back at the crossroads of choice, except that it's not a four-way stop, but hundreds of roads leading into an intersection that's impossible to negotiate: I want to do it all, go in every direction at once; and if I can't, then why go anywhere at all? If that's not depression, especially when I will not choose for weeks at a time, then it's the next best worst thing.

But, despite all that, I still insist that I'm not depressed, because I don't feel depressed. I feel just fine, when I'm working at a task or goal and while I'm lying around doing nothing at all outside of my imagination. It's that delicate intersection in between that causes all the doubt and worry, those brief, rare moments when I confront myself with everything that I would do, if I were not a sloth.

And, in a different way, I actually like my "depression" because I like lying around doing nothing but "working" in my head. I'd rather be doing that than actually be up doing things. Maybe this is just a rationalization for being the way I am; but isn't that what all "attitude" is when you come right down to it?

Meanwhile, between bouts of activity, I accumulate things, piling it all up until I finally get around to organizing it in one or a few marathon sessions. And, until then, I wallow in (apparent) disorder, avoiding doing things that I know I have to do. I'm talking about hoarded items here, stuff that I know one day will be useful (paper and wood to be burned in the winter, twist ties for the garden piling up disheveled in a drawer, etc.); but this analysis applies to everyday maintenance processes as well, such as when I get focused on a single project, whether it is a productive one or merely a dedicated waste of time, and let the dishes pile up in the sink for three or four or five days and then have to turn around and dedicate my single-focused attention to cleaning up that accumulated pile.

This is the way I live, moving from one long-neglected task to another, trying to, but never actually catching up overall; this is another symptom of my difability. And, anyway, the interim state is not really disorder because I, both, pile stuff up in precise locations according to an evolving master plan, and, since I'm constantly aware of and modifying that plan, I see the end result, which is the epitome of order-out-of-chaos. And yet sometimes I become nearly overwhelmed with the complexity and apparent futility of it all.

It's a dual orientation, a schizoid approach to (my) life: Out of chaos comes order (eventually), even as entropy seems to be winning the ongoing battle; or, looking at the split in a different way, sometimes I feel like organizing my life (in spurts) and sometimes (more often) I just go with the flow [though I never give up on the ultimate end result--which is not really going with the flow at all, which would in a natural world allow the detritus of life to drift away, uncollected and disconsider as a part of the master (anti-)plan]. Because there is a perfect time for doing any specific task (or non-task), if only within my mind (but usually also within the world, since my mind is in the world and the world is in my mind), and when that time comes, the work (or non-work) flows naturally and easily; but when that time has not yet come, then activity (and non-activity) is difficult, easily thwarted, and sometimes impossible.

Waiting for the right time to act, though, is difficult in and of itself, when your (conscious) mind tells you that it wants to get things done. But, in any case, waiting does not mean that you can abandon plans until the right time comes, because, if you do, when the time comes, you may not be ready to take advantage of its opportunity, because "luck" favors the prepared mind (or, in other words, there is no such thing as luck); and also the prepared circumstances of your existence, so that, when I stage hoarded materials, etc., I am preparing for the time when opportunity will knock, which most often means mental opportunity, a la biorhythmic, psychic, and/or psi (if it exists) conditions, etc, but sometimes it also means physical or social circumstances (e.g., you can't plants seeds in the middle of the winter--well, you can, but they won't grow; even indoors they won't grow so well, especially in my cold, light-challenged house; or you can't go out shopping in the middle of the night--unless you're near an open-all-night store, which I am not and, anyway, I shop at more reasonably priced places).

I call my hoarding habits 'hedging'--against a future when I will need to be more careful, so why not start that care today, so that, not only will I have more of what I need when the times comes to need it, but I will also have developed the habits necessary to survive while others are still trying to figure out what to do; and, when they look to me for advise and lessons, then I become the new guru of post new age prosperity. And if those tough times never come, well, what have I lost? I mean, after all, I will not have put all that much time into it anyway, except for the waiting, which I will have done in any case.

In a similar vein, I like to think of my creative work as 'edging' over time toward the truth, figuring out what (my) life is all about bit by bit by writing out over and over again content, refining the themes until I get so bored with them that it hardly seems worth it to continue and my time is better spent writing out a different repetitive matter. Rambling repetition is the penultimate essence of my writing style; because my ultimate purpose is to elucidate (to myself) and examine that which I feel I am compelled to write (my psychology and interest), I repeat ideas until (sometimes long after) they take hold and become integral to who I am, so that I no longer feel so compelled.

But here's an idea that I have not (yet) been repeating. This is one of those rare occrrences for me, a completely new idea:

lefty loosey

capitalism : communism :: liberalism : conservatism

I know. This analogy is controversial, at best. But I don't care what you may think. (Actually, I do. I'm interested. Really. E-mail me. I'd like to get some alternate insight into this idea.) I just know this is true, despite conventional "wisdom" that purports that it's the other way round, that liberalism is more like communism, both being leftist, while conservatism is more like capitalism, both of them being of the right. But it's not true that capitalism is rightist. It's actually independent of politics and has only taken on a rightist bent because conservatives have appropriated it as the way they will establish and maintain their status quo grip on the economy and thus on the political machine.

Liberals could do the same damn thing and thus become more effective by leveling the political playing field if only they weren't so hell-bent upon saving every goddamned lost soul that they find wallowing in their own ignorance and drug or alcohol related stupidity. I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to help the helpless a little bit. But, come on. It's an impossible definition when you come right down to it: if they're helpless, they can't really be helped, and if your "help" is not help at all, then it's something else, something like (artificial) support; in other words, care-taker-ism

Should we be buoying up, against natural law and selection, people who cannot, for whatever reason, swim? Well, maybe. Certainly, if we are true Christians, which we, most of us, are not; most so-called, self-labeled "Christians" tend to be conservative, I believe. It's interesting that conservatives, in this instance at least, tacitly appeal to natural selection, a basic tenet of evolution, to support their stance against supporting non-productive citizens (even as they tacitly switch to other conservative-in-essence arguments to avoid supporting productive non-citizens as well; e.g., illegal immigrants).

The conventional interpretation of the analogy [communism : liberalism :: capitalism : conservatism] is wrong (at least in the particular political iteration we are currently acting out) because, although communism may theoretically be a leftist ideology, in practice it was (and still is?) a series of governments that quickly devolved into relying upon conservatism to maintain the dictatorial powers it required in order to remain in control; while (true) capitalism [not the kind that we practice now worldwide, where competition is suppressed in favor of elitist control of corporations so huge that their very existence disables new start-ups before they can grow their way to a place where they can effectively compete; or else, if they manage against all odds to succeed, they get bought up by the big guys, thereby eliminating the competition--all with the blessing of the agencies that are supposed to be guarding against this kind of thing. Remember? Can you say anti-trust?] ...true capitalism diversifies control via competition so that it becomes multi(corporate)-cultural, which is a liberal agenda. I think I've proved my point.

I enjoy seeing society differently than most people. (Not that I could do anything about it if I didn't.) People look askance at me for this very reason, which, though it sometimes bothers me, I also enjoy. Being a benign outlaw (except for those few times in my life when some asshole got it into his head to do something about it or some do-good socially brainwashed idiot decided I was lost and needed a direction that s/he was going to help me find) is okay by me.

I would pray to whatever that someone would show up and help me to find my way in this world; but, in fact, I don't really believe I'm lost. I know exactly where I am, how I got here, and what I'm doing. All my life people have thought I was a lost soul; yet all my life I've always felt that I knew exactly where I was and what and how I wanted to be. The problem is, the majority of people in this world are lost themselves but don't know it; or else they've found themselves a different kind of world where I don't belong. So as far as someone coming along and helping me to find my way, maybe, if they would be willing to open up their minds just a bit, I might be able to show them a better way.

Most people feel that their way is the right one, so that some of them, if they encounter me, just know that I am wrong. Some people feel that "inappropriate remarks" that I make are disturbing, disconcerting or, at best, distracting; but, I, in my own way, find that their inane babble (socially appropriate banter) is distracting (at best). True, this is no fault of their own (but neither is their "disturbance" at my behavior any fault of mine). The cause is my genetic difability. (So, if anyone is at fault, it is God--or, in other words, nature.)

The point here is that their (neurotypical) psychology is the one that predominates across the world. They are the neuro-type in power; therefore, when they take a prejudicial attitude toward me, they're acting as bigots. They want their way to continue to predominate. They have no use for anyone who might do things differently, no matter the reason. If this preference was restricted to only the odd behaviors that my type exhibit, it would mean little; but it is not restricted, but is generalized to all difference and, especially critical here is the difference that dictates how people relate to truth:

I tell the truth. It's not a value or a principle I have. It's the way I am preprogrammed, genetically: I'm literal. "Sociable" people have all kinds of ways to obfuscate, so that they do not hurt people's feelings or so that they can get what they want without upsetting people (who might act to thwart their efforts). Given these two alternatives, even if I were "normal", I would choose the former (more truthful) one--which is probably just me rationalizing my psychology; nevertheless, I believe that this makes me a better person--which is probably another rationalization; but it's one of those values we as a species maintain that we have: "Tell the truth and shame the devil."

The problem is that I, being difabled, take maxims like that literally, whereas "normal" (neurotypical) people are hardwired to ignore such dictums when it s suits them, such as when it's inconvenient for them to adhere to the values that they otherwise believe themselves to have. It really all comes down to a matter of values; and, no matter what they claim to the contrary, I am better at living "their" values (they're the ones who make the "rules") than they are. This makes me a better, and a more valuable, person--by their own definitions. They define, and I follow, while they, because they hold all the power, backpedal. Nice.

another nicety

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
Al Pacino, The Godfather III
db is in the front room, talking on the phone to someone who I think is a male business associate. I hear his voice on a speaker phone that's in the entryway, although she's talking on a cell phone near the kitchen. We walk into the bathroom, planning to do something about repairing the walls. I have a small cylindrical piece of wood that resembles one of those root beer barrel pieces of candy. It has a nail through it and I'm looking for a place to nail it to the wall so that it can act as a sort of routing hook to hang a cord on (maybe something to do with the phone, perhaps a phone cord). But every place I try to hammer it into the wall, the wood beneath the plasterboard is rotted and it will not hold. I (we) originally wanted it to be up high, but we have to settle for it being about midway up the wall where the wood is sturdier. We stand very close to each other, as a result of the work we're doing; and, soon, she's in my lap (as if we're sitting, though were not), facing me, and, though we're clothed, it's as if we're naked and I am all but pushing into her. She's talking to me about feeling "numb" and although she says the feeling is "down there," I don't make the connection with the idea that she can't feel our contact, even though I also cannot feel if I am starting into her or just poking around at the entry. I do manage to understand, however, that the guy she was talking to on the phone was not a business associate, but someone talking to her about her medical problem, when she informs me that she will have to be going to Japan sometime within the next six months or so for treatment. I start to talk to her about how much I've always wanted to go to Japan (not realizing that what I'm doing is hinting to be taken along with her, because I semi-consciously within the dream recognize that, if I would go with her, she'd have to pay my way because I couldn't afford it. Actually, I could; but I've settled into this mindset in recent years that I do not dare to spend any more money than I actually have to in order to secure my hopefully long-lived future). This dream is particularly poignant because she's acting totally nice and accommodating toward me and I'm taken aback by her friendly and totally accepting attitude. (Usually, in dreams, she's recurrently "nice," but standoffish and distant; the older recurrent dreams where she's vehemently angry have stopped altogether. Now, watch; because I said that, I'll have one of those dreams tonight.) She picks up on my hint (that even I do not pick up on within the dream) and says that, maybe, I'll be the one who goes along with her. This is such a turn-around in her (dream) attitude toward me that, combined with the sex that we are not quite having, but the closeness that she's allowing between us, I become elated. Awake, however, I realize that she could have been allowing the sex because she's numb down there and doesn't feel it; yet the feeling of her former mere (dream, and, I'm just now realizing, probably real-life during the last few years she lived with me) tolerance of me, having melted away into a more accepting attitude, enables the dream elation to seep through into my waking state. As has been happening so often lately, I come out of this dream very gradually, so that I am slowly, increasingly applying my rational faculties to the content of the dream, manipulating it in the way I want it to go, rather than allowing it to find its own way unconsciously. Maybe I can develop this ability in order to dream lucidly all the time.

Dreams are nice, even when they aren't. I love dreams and I love nightmares too. I've always loved nightmares, even when I was a little kid. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, terrified, and perversely enjoy the feeling of cowering beneath my covers, thinking I might have brought some of the dream back into the room with me, but also feeling somewhat safe in the knowledge that the dream, as real as I thought it had been, was a different sort of reality that had nothing to do with this other world. Not true of course, but that's the way I felt at the time. It was a defensive posture against the fear that the nightmare produced:

I'm working for a company at a place similar to one where I used to work for, but with overtones of a later location; but the place has changed so much that it is hardly recognizable (and, in later scenes, seems more like a huge indoor mall than a company.) [This transformation has been a typical recurrent theme. As the dream starts], I've just been transferred to a new office consisting of a roomful of desks. I have been assigned to the center desk, my back to the door. No desks are behind me, though there is room for them. Two rows of six desks, arranged in groups of two, facing each other, span the width of the room to the left and to the right of the shortened row I am in. (The assumption can be made that the row I'm in is shorter to allow for entrance space into the room, though at least two more desks could easily be fit into this space and still allow for an adequate entryway.) The desk in front of mine sits in front of a wall of windows and is occupied by Mary, whom I am surprised is here, since the work we each do for the company is so different (although I cannot tell from the content of the dream so far what the exact nature of our work is). Although I am interested in Mary, I pay her absolutely no attention (in exactly that way that I will do in real life, when I am interested in someone, but remain standoffish). No one in the room seems to have much work to do; in fact, at times I am far busier than anyone else (though at other times I am as unoccupied as they are). But my work is kind of mysterious: I peruse the internet, make phone calls, and send text and chat messages, all with the purpose of gathering and disseminating information, collating the info I gather into stories that are sort of like news events. The slightest bit of lucidity is involved here as I shape the content of the dream in a way similar to the way I shape the news stories. I glean from non-activity (i.e., exchanged glances, body language, attitude, etc.) in my periphery that the others are amazed and somewhat puzzled by the work I am doing. I start to suspect that they might be able to figure out my method by reading over my shoulder, so I (again with a slight bit of lucidity) begin to "encode" the work I am doing. I talk "cryptically" on the phone and use a kind of shorthand cipher in text and chat messages (analogous to my self-developed idiosyncratic handwritten shorthand system that I use in real life). It's near the end of the workday and everyone else is mentally preparing to leave the office; but I am working, I'd say frantically, but it's more like super-efficiently, moving back and forth between texting, chatting, making and receiving phone calls, and surfing the net, all while typing my "story" into a word processor, to be sent off at the end of the work spurt, which lasts perhaps ten to fifteen minutes (or less). But, though the natives are impressed, word comes down that the office is (again) being reorganized, and first one employee (a guy I had begun to befriend, or vice versa) and then another is transferred to an office on a lower floor. My friend requests that I help him move; and so I do. We move his desk and all its contents down via a small freight elevator at the west side of the office. Back upstairs, I notice that Mary has already moved out and, in fact, all of the employees are new to the room, and all are men. (Mary was disconcerted, I suspect, that I paid her no attention, and I wonder if it were she who arranged for the transfer of employees, so that she could be removed from my presence (like she arranged circumstances in real life to try to get my attention and participation in her particular, conventional social relationship fantasy and, when it didn't work out the way she wanted it to, to remain distant from me.) Back in the office I greet the new employees, one by one, the first of whom is "Grantham" (definitely not the character in The Pelican Brief), who is my new supervisor (I used to have an uber-boss, a long time ago, with this name, although I never had a reason to interact with him), but who is cool, more like a fellow employee. I greet a few others that Grantham introduces me to. The empty space in front of the door is now filled with desks and the room is far more crowded than previously. The guy who sits next to me (too close) is Sean Hayes. I'm ignoring him, apparently intentionally, as a joke because I know him and am aware that he is there, although, in fact, I really don't notice him until he says something like "Well, don't say hello to me," which is when the joke becomes apparent. Mason sits across the room. I'm happy to be working in the same office with him and I think to suggest (but do not) that this would be the perfect workplace if Milliken (the three of us were a post-high school trio) were here with us, and I even think to suggest that we should contact him and arrange for him to be hired on. As time progresses, however, the camaraderie begins to turn a bit maudlin as I begin to suspect an ulterior motive in this arrangement. As I look around the room, I begin to wonder if we are not considered a collection of losers. Paranoia begins to arise as I wonder if we are all here to be, eventually, fired. The atmosphere gets a bit lucid as I begin to devise ways to protect myself. When Grantham is summoned downstairs and doesn't return, the paranoia increases. We all go outside, at first, it seems, because we're leaving for the day; but, outside, as I watch them all depart [this is definitely outside my old workplace now, at the west end of the building, in the alley under the bridge, but as if the bridge isn't there and the alley is a wide street or parking lot], in the slightest hint of lucidity, I conclude (determine) that they (paradoxically, because, "earlier," people were getting ready to leave for the day) are just going off on their hour-long lunch break. I go back inside the building. Later, when everyone is back, I am the next to be summoned downstairs. I conclude that I am being fired, so, to beat them to the punch, I type up and print out a simple, bare-bones letter of resignation and I give it to Grantham (who has re-appeared; in fact, this section of the dream is sort of one of those dual-thread types where two storylines run side by side, one where Grantham was called downstairs and the rest of the employees left and one where this didn't happen, but instead I decided I would be fired). Grantham reads the letter and asks me why. I say I choose not to reveal my reason. In due course, he gives the letter to his boss, who summons me down to his office. [In a sense, the intent of this dream could be that it is taking place over several days, which would eliminate the paradox of workers leaving for the day and/or for lunch.] Grantham is an older guy; his boss is a Young Turk. He also asks me why I'm resigning, and I give him the same answer. He tells me that's not good enough and I insist that that is all he's going to get. Lucidity increases as I am summoned to the office of the next rung up the latter, where the same scene plays out. Finally, I am in the owner and/or CEO's office. He is far more insistent that I give him and answer; but I persist in my ploy, confirmed in my mind by this time that I am doing exactly the right thing; that is, I am not playing their game. The guy tosses the letter toward me onto his desktop, saying he can't accept it. I leave it laying there and turn to leave the office, saying, "Neither can I." As I leave, I tell him that, if he doesn't relent and accept the resignation within a few days, then I'll conclude that he's not playing by the rules of the game and so I may also conclude that I need not either and thus will foreshorten my two-week notice before I depart. After three days, I hear nothing further, so on the fourth day I do not go to work. After two weeks, I receive my ordinary paycheck in the mail. Each pay period thereafter I continue to receive my check, even though I never again return to work. I do, however, continue my "work," doing the same thing at home every day that I did at the office. [This could mean that, for the purpose of the dream, I am working from home; and thus the work that I'm doing is what I'm doing right now and in fact have been doing all my life, the actual work I got paid for (as well as all of the social interactions) becoming the content for this real work; in other words, all of what I did, working at jobs and otherwise, is my real work in the sense that my real work is the life I'm living and documenting.] This goes on for years and years until, one day, shortly after my sixty-second birthday, the amount of the check is decreased to 75% of the previous amount. I conclude that they have put me on retirement.

When I "retired" (quit after having been given the option instead of being fired from my last job and then chose not to seek another job), for years I kept having dreams with this same basic theme: I still went in to work every day, even though I was never paid for it. I still experienced (in dreams) the necessity to get out of bed, hurry to get ready, and worry about getting to work on time. On the job, I helped out in any way I could and made myself very useful. In fact, I was essential to the operations, although in a far lesser position of authority, which had passed to others, most often, my assistant. And, going to work in this way, without pay, I was freer to interact in the way that I thought more proper, apart from the very restrictive company policies with which I was previously required to comply.

I conclude that I felt this way (and thus dreamed it) because people from work would call me from time to time for advice and to commiserate, since they knew that I understood their plight of having to work for such a terrible (terribly demanding) company; and also because I "felt" (unconsciously) that my "spirit" (embodied by the extensive systems and procedures I'd put in place over the years) continued on (and that I was even, from time to time, credited for them and for my particular "influence" on employees).

So, this current dream seems to be a kind of justification: Retroactively (from a real-life pov), I am compensated (with dream "currency", i.e., writing content) for the (difficult) time I had after I left my last job. I achieve this compensation via the stand I take toward those who would not have me take away from them their right to fire me. It was unconscionable, "they" felt, that I should subvert their plans by acting before they did. (This is entirely a dream motive. In reality, the exact opposite was the case: I was allowed to resign.)

I awoke out of this dream feeling both paranoid (in the best nightmare sense) and highly satisfied. On one hand, I think I have gone too far (always, in practically everything I do); on the other hand, I think that, just maybe, I have not gone far enough, that there is still a farther way to go. I could relent right now in all of my detachment goals, live a less austere life, stop hedging so much against the future. I'm well off enough to do just that, especially with social security payments pending. (They will be required to pay me for the rest of my life, just like they paid me in the dream.) But I feel quite successful in all that I'm doing, in the way I live, my truncated lifestyle held out against a decadent society that has gone way wrong. No. I'll not back off. Not now. Maybe never. Just as I'm beginning to pull myself out, I'm not going to let them pull me back in. I'm not done dreaming yet:

Sarah Palin talks to a large crowd of people. She says her rights are being violated by the media. Someone behind me whispers, "Oh, boo-fucking-hoo." People giggle in response. [I watched her on the news last night. Last month, Palin told reporters that her criticism of Obama was not negative campaigning and that, when the media reports that it is, they are violating her right to free speech.] Palin says she feels hurt and she starts to cry. People around me feel sorry for her. I don't. From my vantage point, I can see Obama and James Carvel in the wings to the right of the stage. No one else in the audience can see them. Carvel gives Palin the finger. Palin cries even harder when she sees him doing this. Someone in the audience shouts out that Palin is just another word for plain. She says that she certainly is not. A Fox News cameraman starts pushing his camera into the faces of people in the crowd who are anti-Palin, intentionally trying to hurt them, but pretending it's an accident, as if he's merely trying to film their actions. I barely avoid him several times. The crowd, which was initially almost all Palin supporters, is getting increasingly angry at her as she continues to try to defend herself, so she slowly begins to unbutton her blouse. The crowd quiets down as they watch her. A few old women get disgusted and leave, but most of the audience stays, now completely engrossed in her actions. Slowly, Palin removed her blouse, revealing her amply-filled bra. She shouts out, "You call this plain?" Someone yells, "Take it all off." She reaches behind her and unfastens her bra, but she doesn't remove it, but lets it hang loosely, barely covering her breasts. A guy next to me boos. I push my way up to the front of the stage (which, actually, I did earlier, when I saw Obama and Carvel; but the timeline here is distorted, as if this happened both earlier and later). She looks down at me and winks, then she bends toward me so that her bra hangs farther out in front of her and I can see the bottom of her breasts all the way up to the nipple. I whisper to her, "I'll vote for you." But she can't hear me and she leans down farther and says, "What?" I say, more loudly, "I'll vote for you" and she says, "Oh, thank you" and she looks embarrassed as she watches me looking at her completely bared breasts, but only from my point of view, the rest of the audience seeing the bra still hanging in front of them. The guy next to me (a different guy) says, "Yeah. I'll vote for you too." But Palin looks at him suspiciously, knowing that he wants her to turn in his direction so he can see her breasts too. The entire crowd is now cheering her and she looks up and smiles. "See," she says. "They think I'm right." I can no longer see her breasts, so I shout to her that she's not, that she's got it exactly backwards. But she doesn't want to hear what I have to say.

Semi-awakening, I construct my argument as if she's still listening to me. I tell her that the media's freedom to report her criticisms as negative campaigning is guaranteed by the constitution and is not a violation of it, as she claims. I tell her that people like her (meaning, but not saying, Republicans) always think, when they're criticized, that they're being treated unfairly, that they think that Fox is "fair and balanced" while CNN and MSNBC are biased because they present both sides, one of which is critical of the conservative point of view.

As I fall fully back into sleep, she turns at me and looks like she wants to kill me. The cameraman comes up to me and forces his camera at me again and the crowd presses in on me like it wants to crush me and so stifle my argument.

Actually, I really would vote for her if she came to my house and showed me her tits. That's how little I think my vote is worth. But, now that I think of it, I should probably value it a whole lot more. I should insist that, if she wants my vote, she'd have to take off all her clothes and crawl into bed with me. After all, that's what Hillary did.

social activism

Every day for weeks now I've been waking up out of paranoid dreams and into a mindset that is begging for excuses to latch onto. This morning, my dream had me hanging out in my driveway, secreted behind my retaining wall, waiting for a neighbor's car to pass by so that I could go out and get my mail, which ends up being jammed into the mailbox and defying extraction. On my way back into the house, I notice that the garage door has been open all night and the car is missing. I go into the garage trying to determine why the car isn't there, doing my utmost to rationalize its disappearance so that it doesn't end up having been stolen. I try to shut the garage door, but I discover that the electricity is off. Still puzzled as to what is happening, as I walk up the front steps, I hear neighbors' voices, loudly, but in friendly manner, discussing (conservative) politics. Paradoxically, because it's daylight, although the street light in front of my house is not on, other lights here and there shine oddly, illuminating the area as of it's night, perhaps as if they're emergency lighting, (where there wouldn't typically be any, such as in the backyards or high up on street light poles). This further confuses me as I try to determine if it's just my own electricity that's out or if the whole neighborhood has been affected.

Awakening, I interpret the dream to mean: Is my anxiety restricted to my own psychology; that is, is this my usual problem or is this a more widely dispersed phenomenon I'm picking up on? [Is the electric off only in my house or is the whole neighborhood affected?] Certainly, it is at least my own problem, because this happens to me every year, and it will take only one small event (or even non-event, some silly excuse) to set me off on a whirlwind of anxiety and paranoid delusions; but I'm wondering if something more is happening here, if I'm joining a community of paranoids. But that idea too could be merely the inkling of an excuse trying to blow itself up into a worldwide conspiracy theory. (The global credit crisis comes to mind.) In any case, I hope I can avoid falling into this trap this winter.

Locally, the conspiracy revolves around sewage bills. The county is raising sewage taxes, again; for the fourth year in a row, this time by 16%! They're blaming the federal government for mandating upgrades that they can't afford; but the real problem is incompetence, if only for failing to make the necessary improvements as they were needed instead of waiting until the problem became chronic.

I want to make this sewage issue one of the things I latch onto, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it. Maybe I should make it the subject of social activism instead. I don't know. The rapidly escalating consumer prices (I may be too late here; we may have hit a deflationary spiral, what with oil and the market in freefall now) smack of a worldwide conspiracy of crony-cartels. But I just can't seem to summon up the paranoia to use constructively, despite how it hovers at the edge of my dreams and threatens to latch onto any excuse. It seems like this problem is just too real, too non-personal; i.e., it doesn't affect me so much as it is a mere minor symptom of the current global money crunch phenomenon.

Nevertheless, it pisses me off. Due to the obsessiveness with which I was pursuing cost reduction in my life (in this case by utilizing rain water in whatever way possible; e.g., for flushing toilets), I was paying a less than a six-dollar quarterly sewage bill. Now, through their (I assume) chicanery, they've managed to boost that to $39 by adding a basic "service fee" to the bill; in other words, no matter how little water you use, they're going to charge you $30. This is in addition to the basic water service fee, which they raised last year so that my quarterly water bill is now up to $50. This puts my total cost for water and sewage up near $90/qtr., or $30/mo. That's more than I pay for either gas or electric except during the coldest winter months.

I guess I shouldn't be complaining because a few months ago my neighbor complained to me that his water bill was $240. And I think my brother told me a while ago that his was over $300. (Or was that his electric bill? Hmm. Maybe.) I assume that the township and/or water company need the money to keep up with operating costs; but is some (significant) portion of it being used to line some politician or millionaire's pocket somewhere? I see that I am managing to eek some small bit of paranoia out of this after all.

I want to feel that I'm being personally targeted because a few years ago someone at one of the relevant agencies noticed my water usage had suddenly decreased by 600% and informed the necessary rule/lawmakers who began the necessary procedural changes to add/increase the service fees. More likely, though, they're targeting a growing number of people like me who are wising up to the ways that they can prevent their modest wealth from trickling away into the coffers of the elitist pigs who run the world. [In other words, their (imagined) words, "Hey, it's not personal, buddy. We're not out to get you(r money), we're out to get everyone('s)."]

I've made a lot of lame attempts at social activism over the years, each of which has fizzled out. I started an activist blog, but I don't keep up with it, letting it lapse for long periods of time. I've written letters to the president, to congress, and to various bureaucrats; but do they really pay any attention? Probably not; only in a statistical sense, when enough people complain about the same issue, which means that complaining in this way is pretty much like voting: a single complaint counts for too little to matter. I add my support to online campaigns on my favorite issues, which is much the same kind of complaining, except that someone else is doing the hard work.

I'd like to start a new organization, JBHB (judicial board of human behavior), which would pass judgment on the antics of any person or company, assign them a faux sentence, and publicize the issue as if it were a social mandate for change.

Or, better yet, I'd like to be dictator of the world. I'm in the process of creating a website for this motive right now. Each entry will begin with "If I were the dictator of the world, I'd..." and then go on to document my complaint. Here's the first entry:

"If I were dictator of the world, I would not allow Jim Carrey to take any comedy movie role, but only serious films like The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

This isn't a political message, of course. (I'm revising the overall idea to include other venues, such as "If I had a talk show...") But it's still a worthwhile issue, because I think Carrey is such a boob (especially when he and his slutty wife foist their autism campaign on a public that deserves to know the truth and not some misguided parental attempt to deflect attention away from their repressed guilt).

Or I could simply type out short political or social messages, attach them to helium balloons, and release them to fly and fall where they may, to be read by whomever finds them. I've thought about doing the same thing with bees and wasps, since they seem to be around bugging me a lot lately and are relatively easy to catch and tie to strings. But they wouldn't fly so far and would probably cause too much neighborhood suspicion.

Activist issues that I would want to elucidate:

This society has lost its way, not that it ever had such a great moral direction in the first place (with the possible exception of the high-minded values of the founders); but at least for much of its history its way, if not so moral, was clear. Now, it is not, at all. We lack a sense of definitive progress and are wallowing in directionless (or maybe I mean 'multi-directional, to a fault) selfishness. Except, that is, for the corporate/rich elite, whose selfishness perfectly directed. They know exactly where they're going and how to get there; their way is clear and their power is ubiquitous. Social activism is just another idle dream.

back then, and now

I can't stop dreaming. I mean that in two ways, two meanings of the word dream. (Three if you count social activism.)

640, as if the basement is upstairs: I'm living with db. Jon Lovitz is a (manipulative) friend/car salesman who visits and "irritates" us, though in a (supposedly) friendly manner; that is, it's his dysfunctional personality more than it is his conscious intent that motivates him. [Cf., real life character Rick O.] db needs transportation, so she drives me, in my 70s style muscle car, out to my former workplace where I'm going for a job interview. It's parked in a huge parking lot filled with cars and we have to find it first, which we have a little bit of difficulty doing. db wants a car of her own. It's more of an idle wish than a request, so she's doesn't quite believe me and is happily surprised when I tell to go ahead and buy one. Cut to:

Inside the old workplace, I ask Bill W. if there are any jobs. He says they're not hiring. I follow him from the etching room into imaging as we're talking. I can't hear so well because of the noise. I'm only picking up bits of his sentences. He says I should go and see ___ in ___ and, when he sees me falter, not knowing which way to go, he walks me in that direction and leaves me in hallway, thinking that I know where the conference room (one of the missing phrases in our conversation) is; but when he realizes that I don't know where it is, he comes back and further direct me down a hall, saying, "Go right and then left," but I go left and then right, because that's the way that feels right. I finally find ___ [this guy was very friendly and familiar within the dream, as if I knew him from when I worked there and was a friend of his; but I can't remember who he is now; alternatively, I have the feeling that he may have been familiar because he is a real life celebrity] and we talk as we walk back to the QC lab. After a while, as we talk, I realize he doesn't know that I'm here for an interview and is just passing the time with me; so I inform him of my purpose. He says that the PC shop isn't hiring. I say I know, Bill already told me. He says that none of the other shops are hiring either. Earlier, we had talked about db wanting a new car, so he makes the connection [not a strong one in waking thought, but an obvious one in dream logic] that I need the job because db wants a car (the way he says this is something to the effect of "Ah, thus the new job" referring back to our previous conversation about the new car, but, at the same time, as if we'd just been talking about it ). I say, no, it's more the other way around, meaning she gets the car if I get the job--which is not actually true, but neither is the reverse, because I'd agreed that db could get the car without any thought of me getting the job. (Inherent in this is the idea that I want her to have the car so that I can have my car back; but this is never conscious within the dream.) So he says that, if I want, he can hire me as a temp worker for a few hours in the evening a few days a week, so I agree. I say that at least it's something. I start working immediately, repairing a water-damaged wall by covering it with old greenpaper. The covering to be applied is torn and water-damaged itself and will not adhere well to the old wallboard and keeps tearing so that we end up trying to stick pieces of it up to the wall. Another guy is helping me and I suggest to him that we need more paste. Actually, up to this point, we didn't have any and were trying to just stick the paper up by pressing it to the wall. I tell the guy to go and get more paste and he returns with about a one-inch blob in the palm of his hand. I tell him that's not enough and he says that it's all the company can afford. I got the idea earlier that the company was in trouble and this confirms it. [Although the dream seems to flow smoothly and logically from scene to scene, some of the dream content seems, from a waking pov, to have "broken in" so that I can't now determine where exactly it belongs in the narrative]:

Three girls are in the lab, one of whom (sitting) is highly attracted to me and lets me know via body language; and a second girl (standing) does not let me know, but I suspect that she is.

Cindy R, in a different room seeming to be not of this workplace [Cindy in real life was from a different workplace]: we're standing very close to each other, our faces only two or three inches apart. We've been slowly approaching each other as we talked, about her going back to school. She was asking my advice and she suggests some low-level occupation (such as cosmetology; it wasn't clear within the dream) and, though I thought the choice was a poor one (from the pov of my more "advanced" education), I tell her that it's a good choice "for a start." She misses my qualification and thus my apparent approval seems to please her. At the point where our faces are closest, she turns her cute little face away, looks away, and says, "Good eye contact."

Dr.C, whom I met earlier in the hallway and said hello to, comes into the lab with arms full of paintings on canvas paper. (In a different sense, we are in another room, perhaps contingent with the hallway meeting.) Apparently, Dr.C, remembering me from when I worked here years ago, knows of my artistic ability and respects my opinion, so he asks me if I would judge the artistic quality of the art. (Actually, he doesn't ask at all, but we simply begin this activity as if he asked.) I begin to look through the paintings. Most of them are very interesting. Some few of them are not done so well, but still the subject matter is interesting. I explain to Dr.C that it's impossible to render actual "quality" decisions without taking a long time to study each painting, but that I can I begin to classify them as to quality into three groups. I build three piles, excellent to the left, good in the middle, and mediocre to the right. But some of the paintings are still a little bit wet and are offsetting onto the backs of others. These ones I try to set aside so they won't get damaged, but an assistant of Dr.C is collecting these and also some of the ones in the piles, specifically those of a certain size, and stacking them in a nice, neat pile of his own, which he then presents to me to classify, but as if I'm supposed to leave them in the pile and not upset his size criteria. I begin to become confused as to which paintings I've already classified. One of the paintings is so good that I start a fourth classification: Great. From the reactions of Dr.C and his assistant, I get the idea that Dr.C himself painted this one; but I'm not sure. And I also get the idea that the other paintings were done by employees, perhaps in some sort of contest; but again I am not sure. Also, I seem to recognize some of the paintings as my own; but I also am not sure. [Later, awake, I think that the paintings are ones that I did during the time that I was working there previously, and I get the idea that the paintings are symbols for the work I did there, and that other paintings symbolized the work of other employees. (According to this interpretation, then, Dr.C's "great" painting would be the work that he was doing.) Dr.C, having been impressed with my reaction to having been laid off back then [I sent him a letter outlining how I had been unfairly dismissed (the "lay-off was a cover-up for firing me), and that letter resulted in my being called back for a re-hire interview after I had gotten another job], is now asking me to do employee evaluations. It's a stretch.]

Later, when we're working in lab, after we're finished with the wall, Dr.C comes into the lab with more paintings. All of them, of varying sizes, as if they are studies, are of the exact same style and colors (oranges and blues in a sort of bold desert motif). This time, I definitely recognize them as my own art (only within the dream, not in real life). And then Dr.C presents a large version of the exact same style and colors and with the paint still wet. I realize that this is one that he has just painted, but I don't tell him this. It is of a far better quality than the smaller versions. This I tell him.

I awaken remembering those times when I worked at that place. Remember the hard time you all gave me when I was promoted into management and then all of a sudden I could no longer be your friend?

I didn't really understand it then and wondered if it were all somehow my own fault; but it wasn't, I now see. And there are lots of other times when others of you gave me hard times with whatever.

Remember way back when, when you all used to give me a hard time for my long hair and my hippie ways? Remember that? All the threats. The intimidation? You all ought to try some of that shit now.

And, by the way, when you all did that shit to me, it never really bothered me. It bothers me far more now than it did back then. Back then, I repressed it so well that it was barely conscious.

Yeah, it did affect me unconsciously; but you're bullying pleasure was derived from the awareness that you were able to affect me so that I would feel inferior to you, which I assure you was never at all the case.

Sure, you felt superior; but that was your illusion. I knew then, as I know now, that I was far superior to you. Your coarse animalistic nature betrayed your weakness and the repressed fear that you denied.

I win. What are you doing now? Are you even still alive? You all never had much intelligence, you never got an education, you never even had much common sense. I'll bet you wallow now in your despair.

My past is always with me, especially in dreams. It will remain, I'm certain, until I resolve the issues that I don't even fully know exist. In some cases, I'm sure, I never will. Dreams are like that, as is life.


Continuing the ongoing investigation, I want you to tell me that these dreams are merely a random firing of neurons:

This has the atmosphere of a forties movie, though with modern undertones. I'm a member of some kind of ragtag team of post-college "entrepreneurs" who are gathering together a lot of "supplies" that are boxed in huge crates, loading them into the cargo hold of a plane, and intending to fly them somewhere for the purpose of making a profit. [The intended "flight path" is between two cities, but that distance is mapped onto both 1) the short distance between my childhood home and the street on the other side of a vacant lot across the street and 2) the slightly longer distance between my teenage home and the intersection at Coal Hollow Road, a distance of about a mile or so. [Okay. Details like those, where multiple interpretations of one image (which I call "combos") come into play could be random firings (hereafter 'RFs'). I'm not claiming that, in dreams, neurons do not fire randomly; I'm saying that there is a level far beyond that mechanism that controls the direction and "meaning" of the dream, as I hope to prove here.] A lot of complicated interaction happens here that I can't remember, but can now only get a "feel" for: we have problems getting things loaded in time, we have misgivings and disagreements within the group about our purpose and plans, etc. {Much of this is simply forgotten detail, but some of it could be RFs, in that, in coming out of dreams, we tend to use a real world mentality to interpret dream world events, which are of a "different" nature, composed of, most importantly, feelings, then images, and only lastly and least importantly, words. In the case of words, for example, since in dreams we are not using so much that part of the brain that processes words, we translate with our real world mentality the feelings that we have in dreams into words when we awaken. This is only logical and reflects an evolutionary motive: Our word ability came later; our initial "inklings" of awareness were represented in feelings that reacted to ongoing environmental events; eventually, those feeling behaviors evolved into thoughts, which over time we learned to expressed in words (most of the earliest, feeling, stages of that sequence having evolved long before the human level). But the basic motivation for dreams occurs in the reptilian brain, where no thought, but only feeling exists. Thus, most words that we think we express in dreams are actually an interpretation of feelings by the more rational awakening consciousness, as are most thoughts that we think in dreams. The few words (or thoughts) that actually do occur in dreams (which are also perhaps RFs) seep through intact as odd constructs, phrases that we know to have been dreamed literally, but which make little or no sense when we are awake, or else they make a kind of "hyper-sense," taking on a meaning for us that we don't quite understand, but feel is extremely important. A good example of this phenomenon is a phrase that was uttered by my ex while she was sleeping, which I happened to have awakened to hear: "broken pieces all the way across." It made no sense, not even to her when I later told her of it. In fact, she acted very oddly when informed, as if she didn't want to hear about it at all, not bothering enough to even object to me telling her, but dismissive in her behavior, which, I felt, was all the more telling; which, I guess, now that I think about it, could mean that she did know what it meant; but, more likely, she was either embarrassed at having been caught talking in her sleep or her unconscious mind didn't want that kind of information to have been revealed to anyone, even to herself, and so drove her to shut down my probing. I felt highly privileged to have heard the uttering, as if a secret had been revealed. (And maybe it had.) [And you wonder why my relationships don't last. (Actually, they have, a few of them, despite my probative antics; because I have other, more endearing traits going for me; or at least I used to. Any more, I don't know...)] Anyway, the point is that words, if they occur literally in dreams, as opposed to being constructed out of waking-state material via translation after we awaken, have a potency that defies description and begs interpretation that is usually not forthcoming.} We finally take off, leaving one guy behind who can't catch up as he chases the plane along the "runway" (actually a road) and endangering the lives of the rest of us as we careen through the air at too low an altitude as we try to allow him to jump aboard. In a sense, I am in the cargo hold looking back through the open door at our comrade on the ground; but in another sense I'm the pilot. The plane crashes on a highway, taking out several cars, an eighteen-wheeler, and a few roadside trees. We all walk away unhurt, escaping before the authorities arrive. Cut to:

An army base. I'm in a training school, learning how to fly. I'm much older than the rest of the recruits, who are all about eighteen or nineteen. I'm looked on with respect because I have piloted before. Again, much detail is "forgotten" (some of which I may never have been actually experienced in the dream, but only "assumed" upon awakening, as explained above re waking (re-)interpretation; I may be building a case here against my premise, which is to downplay the importance of "RFs." Maybe dreams are nothing but feelings and vague images stored among the neurons and the "higher" functions that appear to exist therein are actual interpretation imposed by the waking mind; but wait: There's more of the argument to follow. [And there is another aspect, or thread, of the "story" that involves, not the military, but a department store, a la Home Depot, a kind of indoor/outdoor place where, before this scene, a whole other little story plays out that I can't remember. (Perhaps more evidence for RFs.)] We are "encouraged" (in that typical way that people in the military are encouraged to volunteer when they would rather not) to take up a plane, a B-25, that we know is not safe to fly. Shortly, after take-off, the plane rolls over and crashes onto the tarmac. Again, I am both the pilot and a crewmember in the back. Several of us are hurt, burned by "jet fuel" (which it wouldn't have been if this were a B-25; and, since we're flying a B-25, presumably this is during or just before or after WWII, when jets were either not yet in service or rare birds). I'm lying on the tarmac, face down, having escaped from the burning plane with my leather flying jacket afire. Someone runs over to me and beats the fire out. I get up, seemingly not seriously injured. But a sergeant "orders" [there's the sense that I am not an officer here; or maybe an officer-in-training and so still subject to the authority of a sergeant] me to go to the hospital. I willingly comply, because, in a sense, I am an unwilling participant in the training program (like I was when I was in the army), though, in a different sense; I am a kind of hero-in-the-making (the kind of guy that Robert Mitchum might have played in a movie about this time, not enthusiastic about going to war, but about to be a hero in any case). I take the long walk across the tarmac to the hospital admittance room, a small adjunct to the hospital proper. I'm now in civies. [I have an idea that there may have been an intervening scene here where I first returned to the barracks/inside of "Home Depot" (which is an interesting choice of term, because the whole place is like a depot of a sort, which brings up the idea that the waking interpretation of the dream material may be as creative a process as the dream itself, perhaps even more of a creative process, utilizing the vagary of dream material as a take-off for an analogous waking process; or dreams as we know them may be an intimate connection between the conscious and unconscious--of course they are--that freely depend upon each other, the unconscious "dreaming" state being a feeling-based phenomenon while the conscious state provides just enough pre-awakening "rational" information to the "dream" to make it later renderable, which provision is carried on into the waking state gradually as it increasingly adds the word-related details that the feeling state could not provide. This would account for the dreams I have that I am able to continue on into waking awareness, slowly replacing the dream feeling with rational thought, at first semi-lucidly, but increasingly rationally as I more fully awaken). Anyway, returning to the "barracks" before going to the hospital may have been what occasioned the sergeant to order me to go to the hospital.] At the hospital admissions room, I am asked for my ID, which I do not have. I pretend that I left it back at the barracks, but in fact I don't actually have one, because, I realize, my status is sort of like a civilian (this is the first time I realize this and, later in the dream, I come to understand why this may be). I have an old ID from the time I was in the army (i.e., in real life; this is real life bleeding through here, which indicates that dreams are more than RFs, because if a neuron fired randomly and then directed the next firing to a "memory" of an ID, this second firing would in fact then not be a random event), but I choose not to try to use it because it would give me away [as a (dream) visitor from the future] and I have the idea that it wouldn't be accepted anyway. I try to explain to the nurse, who is acting not in a nurse-like fashion, but as a petty bureaucratic receptionist, that I was just in the plane accident (surely she must have heard the crash, if not witnessed it first-hand, because the hospital is immediately adjacent to the airstrip). But she refuses to admit me without an identity card. I wonder if she would admit me if I were dressed in military uniform, so I go back to the barracks to change, but the sergeant (who is equally non-understanding, and yet, because he cares for my health and welfare) immediately orders me back to the hospital. So, I am bounced back and forth between sergeant and nurse until, utterly frustrated, I enter the foyer to the hospital, sit in a chair near to the admissions desk and tell the nurse that I'm not going anywhere and that if she wants to get rid of me, she's going to have to have me hauled away. She calls for security, but I hit upon an idea and, when she's looking my way, I roll my eyes up into my head and, as if in slow motion, as if I'm trying to remain conscious and upright, I slide off my chair and onto the floor. Cut to:

I'm in a hospital bed, lying face down. The admissions nurse is sitting by my side, visiting, feeling sorry for not having taken my condition seriously and seeking forgiveness. But now it's my turn to be a hard-core asshole. I will not give her an ounce of pity. [This is exactly the same feeling as the one she displayed earlier. Obviously, her attitude is my attitude being played back to me to show me how I will often act when I stonewall people who have "wronged" me.] This only makes her increasingly attracted to me, especially after a nurse comes in to re-dress my wounds and she sees the burns on my back, and very especially after she hears that nurse refer to me as 'lieutenant' (because, earlier, at the desk and in the room, when I was being particularly hostile toward her and referred to her in a militarily disrespectful way, she corrected my appellative with 'ma'am'--meaning I should be addressing an officer properly; and the only reason, at my bedside, that she hadn't gotten more irritated when I treated her similarly was that she was seeking my forgiveness and approval). Any reserve she had left melted away when she heard my rank, and now she's fully committed to my recovery. She visits every day and I loosen up a bit, but not too much. Still, though I am formidable in my reclusiveness, by asking directed questions, she slowly learns my history: She sees the woman's diamond ring that I wear on my pinkie. She asks about it. It belonged to my fiancée. Why do I now have it? She's dead. Oh, I'm sorry. How did she die? Leukemia. How did you meet her? In college. [Memories of Love Story may be leaking through here. But as RFs? I don't think so.] I briefly outline our relationship, our intense love, without providing many details; but she gets the idea. If this nurse had any reservations about me, they are now gone. Not only is she no longer angry, nor even regretful and seeking forgiveness, but now she's falling in love. I mean, what woman could not want to try to bring such a forlorn lover back from the brink of despair? As for myself, I'm playing the role, making it up as I go along, not having any of the past I'm claiming (I can't explain, thus, where the ring came from), yet wringing every last bit of pathos out of it. I'm enjoying torturing the woman, knowing full well that I am never going give her any kind of satisfaction, neither physical nor psychological, I fully intend to remain as standoffish as possible for the entirety of our (shallow) relationship. She asks what I graduated from college in. I tell her I didn't graduate. After the death of my fiancée, I quit school, moved to the Midwest, and worked on a farm, where I learned how to do crop-dusting, which, she concludes without my telling her, is how I learned to fly. She asks me how I got here to the depot. I tell her that after I crashed the crop duster, the farmer was so mad at me that I left there and got involved with some guys who needed a pilot, but we crashed that plane too, so I answered a newspaper ad for a flying trainer and eventually ended up with the Air Force. In an attempt to demonstrate that she understands what I'm going through re the death of my fiancée, she confides to me that her father has cancer. I act disconcerned. She says that he needs an operation, but has no insurance and neither he nor she can afford it and they have no other family. (Obviously, my dreams are overly affected by tv melodrama; I would never write this kind of crap myself. Here, the dreams turns into more of a movie with me more watching myself act in it than actually participating.) This goes on for several weeks until I am discharged and am transferred overseas. But, before I leave, I put the ring into an envelope with a note explaining to her that she is not to sell it for anything less than $3000 because I paid $4200 for it. I give the envelope to an airman I know I can trust and tell him to make sure that she and only she gets it. By wheedling various personnel at the depot, she gets my mailing address and she writes to me nearly every week, thanking me for the ring, over and over again in any number of letters. In a later letter she tells me that her father died anyway, even though he had the operation. I never answer any of her letters, but neither do I throw them away. Finally, she gets a letter from my flight commander telling her that he found her letters among my things and regrets to inform her that I was shot down over Germany. She suffers horribly, but gradually she gets over it and marries another pilot. But, it turns out that I did not die in the crash, that I survived, found my way back to England, and continued flying missions. Eventually, after the war, I returned to the same depot as an instructor of new pilots, which, in another of those twists of dream logic, where two plot threads exist at the same time, is where I had been all along, hired because of my experience as a "rogue" (i.e., unlicensed, unauthorized pilot to train recruits to "fly by the seat of their pants"). She happens to see me one day walking through the depot. She says she thought I was dead, that she was told that my plane was shot down. I explain how we crashed landed it in a field without anyone dying. So, she says, that's four planes you crashed. Six, I say. I crashed two more after that, the last one in the North Sea where I was picked up by Swedish fishermen and spent the rest of the war in a small town near Stockholm. [Bob Balaban's role in Catch-22 seeping into the plot here.] I tell her I'm sorry about her father and she says she's sorry that she wasted the money she got for the ring. I get the name of the doctor who operated on her father. Cut to:

Dr. J____'s office in Shadyside [my mother's chemo doctor. Some of this scenario is broad-based "rationalizing" within the dream, my waking mind threatening to break in and take over, but just not quite managing it; and some of it occurs in specific places, like in this doctor's office]. I meet with the doctor and explain the situation about the ring, etc. and tell him that he should give the nurse the money back. He says something sarcastic like he's not a car dealer, he doesn't give warrantees, so I tell him that he's a disgrace, that he should have done the operation for free when he knew that they couldn't afford it. He gets angry and tells me that he's not in business to provide charity. I leave, determined that I will find a way to get the money from him. I stalk him and learn that he has golf buddies that he hangs out with. So I befriend them and we go golfing and, telling them that, since they're doctors and thus might be interested in a doctor's story, while we golf, I outline for them the story about the ring, emphasizing how disgraceful I think the doctor had acted, exaggerating his pecuniary stance on the matter to make him look as bad as I can in every way I know how while maintaining my friendly demeanor with these other doctors, careful not to generalize so as to offend them, and thereby convincing them to agree with me, even though they might not really actually agree. [Here, lucidity almost breaks through as I analyze their behavior and conclude that the mere fact that I can make them agree with me in word without really meaning influences their belief system by introducing cognitive dissonance so that their subconscious can come to the conclusion that, since they said, it, it must be what they truly believe (a la Bem).] They want to know who this guy is. I tell them, pretending not to know that I know they know him. They say they know the guy and resolve among themselves to ride him about it. Two weeks later, the guy mails me a check for $3000. I take the check to the depot and give it to the nurse. She doesn't understand, so I explain. She tries to give it back to me, saying that it was my ring. I say, no, it was your ring. I gave it to you [implying that it was an engagement, which it kind of was, at least from her pov]. She tells me she's married. I say, I know. And, pointing to her hand, I say, I already saw your ring. I get transferred to a base in Texas and leave without telling her. But she tracks me down and starts writing to me. At this point, having slept for so long and forced myself to stay asleep to continue the long dream when I really wanted so much to awaken, I can no longer stay asleep. I'm pissed that I don't know how this lifelong (anti-) romance is going to turn out. If it were a movie I'd missed the ending of, I could run out and rent the tape. I try to remember all of the details of it so that I can write it down, running over it again and again as I make some coffee, but by the time I write out each section, most of the details are gone. And, now that I've finally got it documented, could someone please explain to me how all of that story and plot structure could possibly be the result of the random firing of neurons?

in the gaps

Random firings should be capable of revealing information from my past, though erratically, in an uncontrollable way (such is the nature of randomness). Random firings may happen across either known or unremembered experiences and are thus capable of shedding new light on past experiences that I remember as I see them in ways that are new [unique, by virtue of the erratic nature of the randomly produced dream state that (re-)arranges encoded events to produce a new configuration] as well as producing revelations of experiences forgotten or repressed. The problem here is one of recognition: many of the randomly generated "visions" could be past experiences that go unrecognized as such; but there's always the chance that I could stumble upon revelation. And then I set about to re-rearrange the randomness into a more or less orderly sequence making them into a more or less logical story.

I put my observations, arguments, and conclusions (for what they're worth) together piece by piece from their elementals documented a little bit at a time, like this note, which relates to nothing, but will end up as a small part of a larger piece, which itself will end up as a less small part of an even larger piece, and so on. It all seldom comes to me all at once any more; but it all becomes something more than its individual random piece-ed-ness when put together, like neurons firing comprise thoughts, eventually: learned behavior over time.

The other day I was thinking about how I used to sit with people and talk and become inspired, constructing elaborate, long(-winded) "explanations" of topics that were interesting to me (usually cosmology-related), and I would literally amaze my friends with what I knew or with my apparent knowledge that seemed to them to be so far beyond their comprehension.

Those times are in my past, the long cosmology-related discussions abandoned, even within my own fantasies, all but forgotten in my more practical, politically oriented world. I so seldom do that kind of thing any more, and not because I am mostly alone now; because, if no one were around in former times, I'd explain things to myself aloud, as if someone else were there. That spark of upedness that motivated a more universal conjecture seems gone now, except for the briefest period after I have a cup of coffee; yet, earlier, it wasn't caffeine that motivated me, because I'd do it without it; though I'd do it more with it.

Now, in a moment of recognition of the loss and prompted by a science news item (which I still read, even though they seldom provoke me any more), I very briefly engage the process once again:

Small Galaxies Shape Large Galaxies
SpaceDaily Sun, 23 Nov 2008 6:17 PM PST

The bright pinwheels and broad star sweeps iconic of disk galaxies such as the Milky Way might all be the shrapnel from massive, violent collisions with other galaxies and galaxy-size chunks of dark matter, according to a multi-institutional project involving the University of Pittsburgh.

Yahoo News Alert
I've always suspected this and kind of assumed (I never really consciously thought about it) that cosmologists knew this to be a fact; but I guess not. It seems logical, though: All galaxies start out as more or less elliptical and remain so unless acted upon by forces beyond them or "crashing" into them that contort them into different shapes. (There is so much space between the stars of galaxies that, when two galaxies "collide," it's unlikely that any individual stars actually ever crash into each other. It's the gravity of the systems involved that does the distorting.) And the distinction between ellipticals, spirals, irregulars, etc. is mere superficiality.

The cosmology of the universe is like dreams: all of it is up in the air (or vacuum, as the case may be); much of it is still conjecture, sometimes somewhat supported by theory but often in only the most tentative way; and some of it is completely ethereal (which may or may not be the same thing as saying it's up in the air). But one conjecture trumps all of the theory, observation, and perception: All of your dream content, like all of the universe (a la Zen), is you (and, if we do actually contact others in dreams, this hypothesis would easily account for that condition also).

Thus, you should recognize that any given feeling/image from your dreams that appears to be outside yourself is actually an aspect of your own self (your self, or Self, being conflated "upward" to include that which you are but do not know of, a part of which is your personal and universal unconscious, a part of which just might be other phenomena--or the same phenomena, though in a different guise--such as the extra "curled-up" dimensions of string theory and who knows what all else) being presented to you by your subconscious for consideration of exactly how you are denying its inclusion and projecting it out beyond you into the fiction that you believe to be the "real" world/universe.

It's easy to recognize those aspects of yourself that are represented by your own dream character, the ego/actor of your dreams. That character's emotions and actions can be readily seen to be your own. It's more difficult to see how the more esoteric universal phenomena are represented. And, in between, in what for some is considered the psychic (psi) realm, it may be even more difficult to sort out how that innocent little girl that you lust after in a dream is also your own self, or a part of a meta-self that you know nothing of.


1. Others and environments are you, more or less repressed.

2. Others and environments are you to the extent that, in order to perceive and understand the world, you have taken the feelings and images into your psyche and constructed an internal world that more or less parallels the real world. In this case, the feelings and images are less you than they are ancillary components of your psyche that you use to make sense of your relation to the outer world. Your misperceptions of the world that created this more or less inaccurate inner world play into your little inner drama, making your inner world less "real" than the real one.

3. Others and environments are presented to your by your subconscious to demonstrate "lessons" you are to learn. This presumes that your subconscious has a certain degree of independent will, which I think may be true. [This is the distinction between the subconscious and the unconscious, I suspect; although I can also see how the unconscious, especially the universal unconscious, might develop a will of its own through mutual (unconscious, of course) interaction.]

4. Psi phenomena exist and we contact others most readily in our dreams, although the process may go on continuously throughout our waking lives; again, unconsciously, of course.

Wide areas of overlap exists among these categories so that feelings and images may function within each simultaneously. This brings to mind another ongoing personal "investigation" that I unwittingly set aside for long periods of time, being distracted by other interests and (pre-)occupations:

Who am I without my current body? Suppose there is a heaven and we go there. We'll be "spiritual" (according to all religions that I know of that propose the existence of heaven); therefore, we will not have corporeal bodies. Our earth-age and earth-experience will be fixed as of the time of our death; but much of our experience, probably most of it, or for some of us all of it, is body and experience-bound and will be all but useless in any heaven I can imagine. We'll be neophytes and have to learn from scratch by a whole new set of rules.

So much of our identity is bound to our current body and experience. What are we without these limitations? Most of us do not know. (Maybe a few hermitic gurus do.) We're that which we are between the points of human, earth-bound interest, in the gaps. What we are in those gaps on earth is what we would be in heaven, if there were such a place. I don't believe there is, but there could be, right here and now, if we learn to identify with that which we, most of the time, do not know we are, being addicted to that which we believe ourselves to be that is the least significant essence of our existence.

I'm looking for a seamless [no gaps, neither affective, nor cosmic, nor historical; not between dreams and "reality"; not between the various interpretations of your own self-representation within dreams; nowhere] transition back through history to where "I" (as more of a universal self) originated, so I've been researching the earliest civilizations, which is a bit more difficult than I imagined because I hadn't considered that 'civilization' is kind of hard to define. But what I'm looking for is not where the earliest homo sapiens gathered together into large groups and build homes, farms, etc., but rather where large social organizations created a culture that influenced subsequent cultures and enabled the further development of 'civilization' toward that which we consider civilized today. It turns out that my premise is, maybe, mistaken, in that what I seem to be discovering is that "development" seems to more of a global issue, spreading cultural artifacts and knowledge around between cultures at a more rapid pace than I might have imagined had I had the foresight to imagine it. In other words (prior to The Roman Empire, which seems to have changed the rules a bit), information seems to have spread around the globe faster than major civilizations. Rather obvious in hindsight. People show and tell neighbors all the news and innovations; neighbors tell their neighbors, wandering traders or social pariahs tell the people they meet, and before you know it, someone on the Pacific coast is utilizing information that someone in the Mediterranean area discovered or invented.

The original motivation for this little research project was to try to discover who might have the earliest claim to the land of Palestine, the Arabs or the Jews. My first suspicion was that it was the Jews, until I learned that they were initially just another "Arab" (i.e., Semitic) "tribe" of escaped slaves, disgruntled Canaanites, and vagabonds who ended up banding together and incorporating indigenous populations. Then I suspected that, maybe after all, the Arabs had a prior claim, until I learned that they were not so well defined as a "race" until the sixth or eighth century, B.C., around the very same time (give or take) as the origin of the Jews. Next, I reverted to my old standby, the Sumerians, whom I'd long known to be the culture from which all of the mythology of the early Jews and Arabs was derived. And this may very well be the first "real" (i.e., extensive) civilization. (Not that it matters much to me any more since I've abandoned, in favor of a more globally ubiquitous kind of cultural development, my naive idea that a precipitous civilization was responsible for modern times.)

Also, I wanted to know which, even though it may not have been so influential as a precipitating agent, was the first great civilization. I figured Egypt, since I had the erroneous idea that they went back to 10,000 B.C. (which they did, but only as an area of settlement along the Nile, same as many other similar settlements around the world), but the great Egyptian empire began much later, around 3,000 B.C., contiguous with all of the other great ones, later than the Sumerians, and much earlier than both the Jews and the "Arabs" (which designation, apparently, applied initially only to the Bedouins). Even the civilizations of the "New World" (it isn't really all that much culturally newer than the old one, at least up until more modern times) may have been culturally "civilized" before the Egyptians. So I conclude that our species and not any cultural sub-division of it, is the agency responsible for our advanced modern cultural achievement, which is something I should have realized all along. And, as for the Jews and the Arabs, well, they're both Semite people, brothers and sisters, and they should each get over themselves and recognize their mutual identity already. Oi vey.

I have a bit of a passion for the "study" of pre-history. (Except in archeological terms, "study" is, by the very nature of its definition as pre-history, a questionable practice; and archeology, as precise a science as archeologists want us to believe it is, is not really all that accurate, given that fact that it is continually revising its "conclusions" based upon newly discovered evidence; although, I guess, the same can be said of any science. Still...) But my true passion lies elsewhere, for which I use my lesser passions as mere fodder.

...when people ask how they can find their passion, the answer is that your passion finds you, as long as you can free up your schedule from the "must dos" enough to let it in. When I had a full-time job, before Dilbert, I awoke at 4 AM, sat alone in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee, and waited. I did that for a year or two, just emptying my mind and freeing my imagination. I don't remember the day I picked up a pencil and started drawing instead of sitting during those hours, but I'm sure I didn't have a choice.
Scott Adams, The Dilbert Blog
But, despite my continued (re)search, if for no other reason than to expand my awareness and education, I have previously discovered (many times over), in my little limited world if not within a universal context, that my identity is that of a writer.

They (politicians and social engineers) keep taking away my little victories (e.g., reduced sewage bill). And I keep looking for more. That's the ongoing war. And for a long time I seemed to have been winning it. But lately I've lost a lot of ground.

But they can never take away my chosen identity, which is the way I best express myself. They try, by bombarding me with phenomenal campaigns designed to make me (want to) change myself into one of their automatons; and sometimes I'm misled.

But, always, I return to this basis of identity, a little bit wiser, a little bit more jaded, a little but more cynical. I know now for sure (actually, I have always been sure, though mostly early on unconsciously) that I will never be dissuaded.

My society saddled me from the very beginning with an overkill of petty obligation. I had a hard finding time for my own self; but I did find it, though earlier on hardly enough to effect a focused self-expression.

I found my passion a long, long time ago. My problem was how to get to it amid the overload of social obligation. Scott's method might have worked; and it still could serve today to focus me when I am distracted.

I sit and focus, and ideas come to me; I never really had a problem in that regard. The problems occur, when they do, when I have to go beyond the simple expression to build the more cohesive whole of a book.

And even that is not so much a problem (it's easy enough to do) as it is a matter of getting to it amid all of the other (self-)obligations. It's easier now, but it still requires a dedicated focus.

Because, you see, I have other passions, I have other arts, I have skills that want developing, which will only occur if I sit down with a cup of coffee and focus upon them in the very same way.

This method is the one I have used off and on when unfocused times predominated, not to focus myself on art, but to simply reduce the interference, to get to a state of emptiness to reboot from.

But, and this is important, it's not so much the quantity your passion as it is the quality of it. Drawing a daily cartoon is perhaps far easier than writing four to six pages of dense text.

The quality of the work being relatively equal, of course. I just happen to have chosen (or it chose me) a more time-consuming dream. But, oh well. We are what we are.