Saturday, March 11, 2017


The following is written under the influence of fatigue.  It is meandering and, perhaps, in some places falls short of the lucidity which is my usual goal.  Nonetheless, here you go:

One of the hardest tasks of human life is to see people as they actually are.  To do this, you need to be emotionally engaged, but neither repulsed nor attracted.  You yourself need to be free from neediness, and free of those hidden triggers which create unnecessary and foreign (to the interaction, as they exist in a timeless space of their own) reactions.

Virtually everyone you meet, every single day, you either want something from, fear in some way, or react to in ways which are related to things and events of long ago.  They are never just there.  They are there, and YOU are there, and your illusions and feelings are there.  It's a complex mix.

Growth, for me, seems to consisting in the realization that every negative emotional pattern I have is BEST seen as originating, now, in me.  When I sabotage myself, of course I can trace it back to someone outside of me.  But they are not there, now, are they?  That happened oh so long ago.

But surely, it is easy to think, I would not hurt myself.  That must be a relic.

No: that, too is you.  Part of you is an asshole.  And if you are an asshole to yourself, you are to other people too.  You have just learned to hide it from them and from you.  Nobody sees it, but your asshole self.  You have to get on speaking terms with your asshole self.

And don't think you can tell it what to do.  It will get in your face and say I SAVED YOUR LIFE YOU STUPID MOTHERFUCKER.  And it has a point.  It did.

I think--and this is where I am at at the moment--you need to give it an alternative, by both staying emotionally present and doing the sorts of things which work towards success in various forms.  You have to give it reason to trust in a stable adult form of agency which does what it does, but better, with less stress internally, and which pisses fewer people off externally.  You need to give it a reason to stop telling you what to do by giving it an HONEST--and spotting bullshit is an essential part of this part--alternative.

It would be impossible to describe some of the feelings which are coming up in me as I thaw, feelings which evoke times when I was much younger, feelings which I had forgotten were possible.
Last night in some dreams I won't recount, I realized that my conscious awareness, on an emotional level, was just flat gone for many years of my life.  I was hypnotized.  I was there.  It was my body.  I walked on the street, and drove my car, and met the expectations laid on me, mostly, but I wasn't there.  It was an automaton.

My true self sees fucking everything.  I feel textures in the air.  I get whiffs of people's personal stories.  As I have said before, I think at some point I will be able to read spirits--minds alone are boring.  It is astonishingly interesting.  I am fascinated by everything.

I play this game wherever I go, which Doris Lessing called "What do you see".  I'll sit in restaurants and wonder why an access hatch is where it is, or what work had to be done and patched there, or wonder why they only applied one coat of paint, or wonder where they got all the lamps, etc.  I see as much as I can, and am constantly trying to figure out the back story.  It's an interesting hobby, and an antidote to staring at my phone.  Almost every room of almost every building has interesting questions.

Then of course you have the people.

When my kids were younger I took them to Pizza Hut one time.  There was a man sleeping in his car in the spot next to where we parked.  When we got done, he was gone.  I spent the next thirty minutes making up stories of what happened to him, from Big Foot to flying saucers, to ex-wives, to the FBI, etc. It was great fun.

I am getting off an a tangent, as I do, but I continue to believe that the spirits of curiosity and imagination are emotionally and culturally more important in many ways than logical and scientific rigor.  I would not want one without the other, but I feel we have strayed much too far from playfulness and completely open minded inquiry, in far too many fields.

The POINT I wanted to make, was that as I grow I realize that feelings, and the people who feel feelings, are stranded.  They have threads.  Take the feeling of happiness.  Is it never tinged with sadness?  Jealousy?  Fear?  Sadness?  Is sadness never secretly tinged with gladness?  Is loneliness never tempered with a sense of relief from people?

And the people who hurt us, to return to my initial point, finally, are never FULLY bad.  This holds even if they were and are bad most of the time.

Do you think Hitler--or his moral equal Fidel Castro--never inhaled the smell of blossoms on the air on a beautiful spring day, and took a stroll in a garden somewhere filled with colorful flowers, and perhaps laughing and ideologically acceptable children, and forgot for a time their self appointed missions to save somebody from something?  Do you think they never forgot even for a moment their manifest destiny to save the world?

Of course they did. Hitler smiled sometimes.  Castro was content sometimes.

And even people who torment us have moments where they are human, where they relax, even if only for a moment, perhaps at the end of an acceptably arduous day, or in a moment of forgetfulness of the misery they are bound to protect within themselves, who forget the monsters destiny has made it necessary for them to act the role of.

People are stranded.  They have moods. They have modes.  They have, even within viciousness, the capacity for reason and mercy.  They are small threads, too small.  That is why they are unseen.  That is why they still become monsters.

But true cruelty requires belief. It requires in the case of the ideologue the belief that morality is found in violence and pain in the service of some abstract cause embodied in concrete people.

In the case of the sadists, who derive short term satisfaction and release from their emotional confinement in the exercise of cruelty, the belief that this price--that of deepening the fear and social disconnection which has pervaded their lives--is worth this short pleasure and release.

No doubt sadists flock together.  But they are all alone, no?

My point is that even these people have moments of humanity, hard though they may be to see.

I listened to "In Cold Blood", and both killers--even though they giggled for hours after the killings--had moments of moral lucidity.  Perry propped the father and brother up on mattresses, for comfort, even though he also slit the fathers throat and they blew his head off.

We are stranded.  We are all partly human, if not acted on by ideology.  Only ideology can make people fully evil.

And I have never considered throwing the Marquis de Sade an ounce of sympathy, but perhaps I will here.  Even he, the patron saint of cruelty, and in my view the patron saint of the political Left, found an ideology which preached cruelty to be unacceptable and horrible.  He loved cruelty, but he never sought to justify it.  And perhaps some remaining human part of him could see that the love of violence in the pursuit of factitious virtue was even worse than anything he had imagined.

I am, in my own way, preparing the ground in my own life for what I may or may not term forgiveness.  What I intend, specifically, is an attempt to see my parents as they ARE and WERE.  Such seeing sees good and bad, stupidity and virtue.  It sees textures, with no names, and no place holders for value, which are interesting, and worth exploring for their intrinsic interest and merit.

Nobody IS.  We are all many things.  We are all many people.  We are all many moods, many thoughts, many actions.

And for a full circle: seeing this accurately is fucking hard.  Really, really, really fucking hard.

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