Alien Inside.

“At one time,” Rupert the allegedly psychic hypnotist asked in the midst of my first and last session, “were you one of them?”

Perhaps a year or two later, I’m sitting in the chair across from the only psychologist, or mental health professional for that matter, that I had ever spoken with that had anything intelligent and real to offer. I forget the context, but his question certainly did not, to my mind, follow the apparent flow of the conversation.

“Do you ever think that you’re one of them?”

It was an immediate, adamant, “No.” I did it with as much determination as I consciously, intentionally lifted the finger for “no” when Rupert had me under hypnosis and had been working that ideomotor finger magic on me. I remember it because I lied, and I felt the pangs of intense guilt in me immediately, for indeed I did sometimes feel like I was one of them. The creature that visited me as a child and insisted it was my real father certainly had an impact, as did that experience with my eyes growing large and slanted in the mirror, as did my memories of living on some dead, desolate desert planet in a far-back lifetime. Which seems to just add to the insanity early on in the course of writing here, but it is also consistent insanity: an alien also explained reincarnation to me once.

What killed me more than anything when I was sixteen was not that I was suddenly remembering and having in real-time what appeared to be alien abductions and encounters and UFO sightings. The “astral projections” and past life memories didn’t kill me, nor the spontaneous telepathic dreams or face-to-face telepathic experiences I would have later with people I knew at work, school or in social circles. Wanting to believe you were sleepwalking when your alien inside just handed you back the wheel of the body a bit too abruptly certainly puts you on edge, too, but not so much as all of this shit put together. People have been known to lose their jobs over a single publicized UFO sighting. Spouses pack up and leave frequently when their mate comes out with the status of “alien abductee.” People who wake up in alternate versions of their bedroom without their physical body, people who feel that they honestly feel the emotions of others and occasionally catch or send some thoughts as well are generally regarded as frigging bonkers in isolation. I am the cornucopia of the far-reaches of fucking crazy.

(I am also considerably high right now.)

Though since then I have found that many other lives are being bathed in the full spectrum of the strange as well: seemingly paranormal experiences alongside their encounters with strange and apparently physical creatures.

Even when it comes to the most embarrassing and deeply unnerving aspects of these waves of weird, it would seem, I am not alone. In fact, I have what I consider to be a disturbingly large amount of company.

In her article “MUFON Launches Study Of UFO Abduction Experience,” Marcia Jedd interviews Dan Wright, who began The Abduction Transcription Project in 1992 in order to ascertain the commonalities in reported alien abduction accounts. Judging from his arsenal of 254 cases involving 700 abductee sessions from 19 of the leading abduction researchers in the US, Wright goes on to list several dominant themes throughout the cases in his database. Among them is the abductee’s sense of “connection to the aliens or kinship” in which “the subject reaches the conclusion of an innate connection with alien captors which transcends this lifetime as a human. The abductee feels like a fish out of water in their own family, or otherwise disconnected from humanity.”

In many cases it goes far deeper than a sense of identity supported by a presumed genetic or spiritual relation to the aliens, however. Speaking of the “transpersonal” experiences of some of his abductees, John Mack writes in his book Abduction that “a distinct but important aspect of this kind of transpersonal experience is an abductee’s sense of possessing a double human/alien identity.” This phenomenon, which Joseph Nyman calls “dual reference,” first emerged during Mack’s hypnosis sessions, according to him, when the abductees would sometimes “switch” to an alien point of view. Continuing, Mack writes that “in their alien selves they may discover themselves doing many of the things that the ‘other’ aliens have done to them and to other human beings, such as studying their minds or even carrying out reproductive procedures.” While placing emphasis on the aspect of behavior rather than the abductee’s personal identification as an alien, this is basically synonymous with what Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs have referred to as “alien co-option.”

Individual abductee accounts have held suggestions of such an alien alternate personality or “alter” for years. Assuming they are honest descriptions of personal experience, the examples illustrate the various degrees of control the alter can exert.

Full dissociation involves the complete “switching” from one personality to the other, with amnesia induced for the human personality with every solitary flip of the alien’s control. So long as the human personality finds himself in the precise place he had been last, he may only assume he had fallen asleep or lost track of time. Sometimes, however, it begins and ends abruptly, and one wakes up in the midst of some activity. A good example would be an incident reported by Karla Turner in her 1992 book Into the Fringe (pages 44-53).

It began two days after Karla attended a John Lear lecture with her friend, Bonnie, her husband, Casey, her son, David, and his roommate, James. David received a call from James, asking him to a local bar where he eventually confessed that throughout his life he had been visited by strange creatures in his bedroom. During the last several months, during which David and he had been living in a farmhouse, a new visitor had been making rounds — a human-appearing woman. Upon her arrival, James would find himself paralyzed and remained that way until after her departure. He then saw her at the Lear lecture.

According to both James and David’s girlfriend, Megan, who was with them both at the bar that evening, when James had spoke about seeing the woman at the lecture David broke in and gave a description of the woman’s appearance and what she had been wearing. When James confirmed to David that he had described the woman perfectly, David repeated the description, but a few minutes later denied ever having seen the woman, much less claiming that he had. Upon leaving the bar to return to the farmhouse, James drove separately as Megan drove David. Having arrived at home before James, Megan and David got out of the car, at which time David took hold of her arm. She explained that “his voice and his eyes changed” as he kept telling her, “something out there wants to see you.” She resisted him as he attempted to drag her into the dark part of the backyard. As soon as James arrived, however, she reported that David had returned to normal and could recall nothing of the incident.

In an interview with Deborah L. Lindemann, C.H.T, on July 7, 1999, Hopkins speaks about an abductee he worked with. The morning after her experience she awoke with only vague memories but came to recall it in clarity later that day. As Hopkins explained in the interview:

“She went to work and something someone said at work triggered this immediate recall. A man had injured himself and described how he cut his hand and had been taken to the emergency room and had been put on a table. And she suddenly had this immediate flashback that the night before she had been on a ship. She remembered she was staring into the eyes of someone who was on a table. And as I remember, she may have said she was wearing some kind of blue uniform. She was staring at this man and calming him down… ‘You’re all right, you won’t be hurt…’ and all this was being done telepathically. And she said at some point, something came through in her mind and she thought, ‘That man looks very frightened. What is this, what am I doing here, why am I doing this?’ And she said that her eyes moved down his body, and she saw this sort of grey hand coming over, doing something — some being on the other side of her. She was sort of startled. Then all of a sudden… boom!… her eyes locked back to his eyes and she felt the thought: ‘You stare at him and keep him calm.'”

On other occasions, there can be a degree of overlap where both personalities are consciously involved in the body at once. This is known as “partial dissociation” and it can take different forms. In one form, one personality exerts influence on the one who is in control through various means, such as through subjective mental imagery, auditory and visual hallucinations, negative hallucinations, flashbacks, thoughts, emotions and impulses. One such example may be the behavior of Whitley Strieber, as reported by himself in his book Communion, on the evening following his abduction on December 26, 1985. He writes how he found himself incredibly exhausted, but arose out of bed to chat with some neighbors who happened to make a very rare and unexpected visit. As he explains (on page 23):

“No sooner had we started talking than I found myself complaining that I thought I had seen the light of a snowmobile in the woods between our houses at about three in the morning. I was horrified at myself. What was I saying? I couldn’t remember any such thing, and I knew it even as I spoke. Our neighbors offered the thought that the woods were too thick for a snowmobile to maneuver, which is true. Then I said that it must have been the lights on his house. He has two floodlights that shine out over his backyard. He explained that these lights had been off, but promised to redirect them so they couldn’t be seen from our house. I knew even then that his lights hadn’t been bothering me so late at night (although they were sometimes bothersome early in the evening, now that winter had stripped the woods of their concealing leaves). My memory of the snowmobile was as hollow as my memory of the owl. After some small talk, our neighbors went home. I was not pleased with my own behavior, and found it hard to understand because it seemed so nonvolitional, almost as if I had been talking against my will.”

Partial dissociation can also come in the form of depersonalization, as in the case of YouTube personality and alleged abductee Ricky G., who reported on an experience that occurred to him in 1988. Instead of awakening in bed, he awoke to the sounds of the neighborhood dogs barking as he walked down the middle of the street and towards a bike trail. There he met with figure and a small, spherical craft, after which the story gets incredibly interesting. For most of the experience he was only capable of controlling his eyes, watching like a passenger in his own body as it committed actions and said things. He also did not remember experience in bulk. The experience was “choppy” for him, as he kept blacking out only to wake up again, though not recalling at the time what occurred before his previous black-out. He was only able to recall these disconnected portions of memory and place them in order in retrospect.

Hypnosis occasionally seems to work in recovery of memories in which the ‘alter’ has taken over, as implied earlier. Mack had cases like this, as did Hopkins. In both Witnessed and his following book, Sight Unseen, Hopkins remarks on the change in attitude, one might even say character, displayed by alleged abductee Linda Cortile as she recounted the scene on the beach, and in the process of questioning her later on the content of the session found even more indications that it was an altogether different “personality” with access to different memories or information that was involved in that scene on the beach.

There are two general ways to look at these tales of alien alters. Alters are typically believed to develop when an individual utilizes extreme dissociation as a coping mechanism in response to trauma or stress. Dissociation separates the emotionally-charged memories from the host’s consciousness, producing amnesia, while an alter develops to whom those memories can be attached. When an alter takes control of the body during a “switch,” the host typically blacks out and may have no idea of its tenant’s existence. Even when in the passenger seat, however, the alter in many cases knows all that the host thinks, feels, imagines, or experiences through the senses, and so is capable of “stepping in” at any time, whereas the host may not even know the alter exists. Although trauma may have served as the trigger for the creation of the initial alter, in many cases this appears to then become a central coping mechanism giving rise to multiple alters. In many cases the initial alter takes on a character that for the host would surely constitute their Jungian Shadow. In general, however, alters are said to display unique speech patterns, body language, talents, skills, and even brainwave patterns. They can even identify themselves as a different age, nationality, sex, or species.

Alters can also allegedly be produced artificially by use of hypnosis. In his book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, John Marks writes that: “The CIA’s first behavioral research czar, Morse Allen of ARTICHOKE, was intrigued by hypnosis,” and that though there was no declassified evidence that the specific program ever too place:

“… Morse Allen kept requesting prolonged access to operational subjects, such as the double agents and defectors on whom he was allowed to work a day or two. Not every double agent would do. The candidate had to be among the one person in five who made a good hypnotic subject, and he needed to have a dissociative tendency to separate part of his personality from the main body of his consciousness. The hope was to take an existing ego state — such as an imaginary childhood playmate — and build it into a separate personality, unknown to the first. The hypnotist would communicate directly with this schizophrenic offshoot and command it to carry out specific deeds about which the main personality would know nothing. There would be inevitable leakage between the two personalities, particularly in dreams; but if the hypnotists were clever enough, he could build in cover stories and safety valves which would prevent the subject from acting inconsistently.”

According to psychologist George H. Estabrooks in his 1957 book Hypnotism, these experiments were not only carried out, but proved to be successful:

“Then we start to develop a case of multiple personality through the use of hypnotism. In his normal waking state, which we will call Personality A, or PA, this individual will become a rabid communist. He will join the party, follow the party line and make himself as objectionable as possible to the authorities. Note that he will be acting in good faith. He is a communist, or rather his PA is a communist and will behave as such. Then we develop Personality B (PB), the secondary personality, unconscious personality, if you wish, although this is something of a contradiction in terms. This personality is rabidly American and anti-communist. It has all the information possessed by the normal personality, whereas PA does not have this advantage.”

So to descend into the depths of absolute paranoia, let us speculate on the notion of real aliens abducting people and, among other strange things, creating and training an alien alter in the abductee host through telepathic hypnosis. The alien alter would have access to all the human host perceives, thinks, feels, imagines and does, whereas in most cases the human host does not even know the alien alter exists. It also has the capacity to “switch,” or assume control of the body to various degrees and at any time. There may be any number of reasons why they would want to do this, with many of them probably not at all unlike the reason the CIA got interested in it. The alien alter, silently hidden in a human body and behind a human ego, would make for the perfect spy, anthropologist, courier or sleeper soldier.

There is another possibility that, while in many ways echoing the previous, involves what I consider to be a very important distinction: it is the alien inside is the true and original personality. The alien is the host, only bearing the qualities of PB in that it knows everything about the human alter, leaving the human alter in a state of near-to-total ignorance of so much as its existence unless it slips up or decides otherwise. Given the past life variable, there is perhaps the additional possibility that the alien inside hides within a human alter tempered by multiple human life cycles, sustaining awareness throughout various incarnations. The ego might constitute little more than an arbitrary cover story, a secret identity for your average extraterrestrial “supervillain.” Fashioned to be convincingly human, yes, and so serving as the perfect masque, but no other purpose.

If the human ego plays no greater purpose than a mere vessel in which to hide, however, why not relegate all abduction memories to the alter? Why not just snap on an alter, have them walk to a discreet location, have the typical abduction scenario commence, walk back, and then snap back to human mode? Their memories of the time between would be empty, one would presume, as they were not the personality that experienced them. Instead, aliens abduct an individual as their human personality, and however enshrouded in this anesthetizing altered state, the human personality is also awake. They put the abductee through physical examinations, telepathically-administered psychological examinations and other tests — all while the abductee is still the human personality. That makes entirely no sense at all.

Why certain memories during the abductions would be compartmentalized in the mind of the alien inside while others would be left as free-floating, isolated pockets of sealed memory confuses me, but that seems to be the case. It is clearly not the case that the aliens do not care if the abductee knows, or else why the amnesia, screen memories, and scrambles? I can only think of three possibilities. One, it serves as a buffer to make access to the alien alter all that much more unlikely. Beneath the threshold of consciousness are isolated pockets of memory sealed by posthypnotic amnesia, and I explain them in this way because during one abduction event you don’t remember previous abduction events. The unconscious serves as a moat littered with these memories, screens and scrambles keeping the human personality from getting inside the alien castle, so-to-speak.

Two, the human host serves a purpose in the overall scheme of things, and they’re trying to covertly mould the masque in a fashion conductive to it’s intended future role. The human ego is not just a masque the alien inside dons, but rather also a tool, an unwitting agent of the alien’s agenda. If the human personality can be influenced or “primed” by the alien personality through their shared implicit memory, the human personality could really be the psychological equivalent of a puppet.

The third possibility is that in order to build a bridge between the alien and human cultures (if only to convert them to a new social order) they need to insert alien consciousness into human bodies to develop a human personality over successive incarnations, then awaken their alien selves, integrate the human and alien identities together and then serve as a means of facilitating that change of perspective in others. (Indeed, this would clearly have to be a long-term plan.)

This brings us back to Mack, who further writes: “The alien identity seems to be connected in some way with the soul of the human self, and one of the tasks the abductee then confronts is the integration of their human and alien selves, which takes on the character of a reensoulment of their humanity.”

Integration of alter and host is usually the goal of treatment in cases of what is variously known as Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder, and this seems to be accomplished by the therapist working to promote better attitudes and greater communication between the two. This sounds very similar to Jung’s concept of the transcendent function and use of “active imagination.” This makes an alter sound like more lively versions of those autonomous complexes and archetypes. Complexes have been described as being based upon emotionally-charged themes, just as alters have been described as being based on emotionally-charged memories.

An alter is just a complex on steroids.

Did an early alien complex in my life go alter on at least a few occasions, or am I and evidently some others out there really just living, breathing Trojan Horses? Human candy shells for inner alien nougat? Wouldn’t greater psychospritiual integration be a worthy cause in any case? To achieve partnership where I may now be a mere tool, be it to a complex or my own alien soul. To participate in my own personal evolution rather than riding the coattails of past patterns, group influences, hardwired instincts, and whatever lingers in the mile-long shadow behind me.


What you resist, persists.
I know this, I’ve lived this, learned in this
that reverse logic has a certain practicality about it.

So why aren’t you backing down?

I have a feeling the game of chicken will not reach an end,
that collision here is imminent
and after the sparks fly high to pierce the sky,
after that smoldering shower of ash rains down
upon broken-down skin of an old earth
from that grim gray cloud yawning
in the midst of a stretching baby blue,
will I be?

Will you get swallowed by me?
Will I dissipate, disintegrate,
hopelessly get lost in you?

The thought that this could really be
my own soul’s suicide…

Could I blaze down this path, torch aflame,
burn away all my fiction, somehow still remain?
Or would my effervescent evaporation
leave in its wake a mark made
on not much of anything?

Though even in fame, is there much left
after fifteen fucking minutes, anyway?

Don’t look at me, I’ve been hoarding.
The bastard who has yet to bring anything to the table.
I say its all just a matter of weather and seasons,
or seeing the seeds in one’s eyes.

Every seed has required conditions to germinate.
Let confidence grow that when the need comes,
each one can make good with the goods.

Just give me something, anything
to live on in the meantime.

Journey Out.

Open something you can never close
till you have caught the answer.
Close it in on the beast, take it home,
use it as another step to questions.

You can’t, so you claim.
Yet I see that you will.
Truth is that you won’t.

You’re too scared to give up your
most cherished delusions
for hope of security in adaptation to truths
beyond the scope of your horizon

in preparation, to better influence the outcome.
Foreknowledge is forewarning, you have known that all along.
Yet you lie yourself down to sleep with your lullabies,
fight awakening by sleepwalking in circles,
kicking up dust to gag and deflect the logical.

Hear me: journey out.
It’s your only hope of hunting
this one down.

Don’t close the book
on this till you’ve read every last word,
as in any case, you’re only reading it as you write,
for it is the diary of your soul.

Rewiring the Broken Mammal.

It’s embarassing to note the emotional self-flaggelation I subject myself to within my insomniac weekday, typically consisting of nineteen hours of wakefulness. For whatever reason, I tend to spend the end of the night occasionally drifitng back to scenes from earlier in the day, and upon review and emotional reexperience I note things that I had not noted before. I also review a lot while I’m drifting off while writing at the computer, while taking a shower, and at work, too, particularly when I’m sweeping or cutting box tops in the stock room. Essentially it happens whenever I’m alone and not engaged in some goal-directed activity that requires meaningful and creative output, when the thoughts in my head are not congruent with that which I’m doing, such as writing or making artwork. If I’m left alone, my mind needs to be anchored in something so that my body can be meaningfully active in its service. When there is a dissociation, a disconnect, such as at work, my mind spirals off without any anchor. Without expression or meaningful distraction, it is only left to turn in on itself. And again, the way in which I relate to myself is not at all healthy.

With respect to my review of myself, I always seem to regard my behavior or what it was that I said as stupid. I often find myself shaking my head angrily and uttering “stupid” aloud to myself as I do so. I’m constantly calling myself stupid, fucking idiot, and feeling guilty and shameful for my persona. If at no other time, this is every evening. I just wished I could make people close to me understanding that no matter how judgemental of the culture we live in and our traditions and trends and of people in particular, and of course often people in the ultimate general, that every sword of mine is double-edged. Mostly because it pisses me off when people judge me because, damn it, that’s MY job. I want it done right — by someone willing to take the time to understand — so I’ll do it myself, and I work best alone where I don’t have some sloppy, uneducated, half-wit fucking ameteur getting in the way. These moments of meditation throughout the day are like micro-versions of the life review so many near death experiencers speak about. Hopefully my daily dose exempts me from the torture that would be awaiting me at the end of my tunnel as I would stand there, relentless psychological gavel in apparitional hand. I noticed that nothing ever seems to change in the nature of my self-judgement in these reviews.

Where does one develop such an automatic, inner critic? Usually the internalized voice of a parent or another authority figure, or perhaps even some assimilation of several such authorities. Its good to have such a critic, I suppose, but only a sensible one. A critic such as my own is never satisfied with anything I do, no matter how hard I try or what measure of success I seem to achieve. It seems only to focus on my failures, on potential losses associated with optional courses of action and their predicted rate of success and with strict standards that let so little pass. I am the mother, you are the child, and while you’re living under this roof, what I say goes.” So my way of handling myself emotionally is too similiar in nature to how my mother would handle me as a child for me to ignore. Or, lacking that, be capable of coughing it all up to coincidence. So the internalized authority or judge arises out of the imprinted emotional reactions of the mother to the child’s emotions.

As I continues to fail inevitably in her eyes, the anima then proceeds to kick me while I’m down. My persona has no hope of meeting the demands of my anima, as she cannot be satsified. The cards are never to play in my favor, lest a swift moment of insanity break through and I naturally fall into chance alignment with the anima’s judgement.

This judge is the feedback for the emotions, and in its appropriate state it would allow ones emotions to adjust. Unless the mother’s response is followed by adjusting the child to do the “right” thing, the child can only be programmed with her response void of course-correction. He has no chance to imprint a solution as no solution is provided to him. He knows what is wrong, but not what is right. The game is rigged. She provides no solution as she wants him to fail. When the imprint only provides criticism and offers no real or lasting solutions in a clear manner, offers no route to success, one only feels guilt, shame, embarassment, stupidity. Freedom comes only through the accomplishment of apathy or indifference.

Unless the internal judge can be changed.

“Even after a peak parenting experience, children never transition to a fully self-tuning physiology. Adults remain social animals: they continue to require a source of stabilization outside themselves. That open-loop design means that in some important ways, people cannot be stable on their own – not should or shouldn’t be, but can’t be. This prospect is disconcerting to many, especially in a society that prizes individuality as ours does. Total self-sufficiency turns out to be a daydream whose bubble is burst by the sharp edge of the limbic brain. Stability means finding people who regulate you well and staying near them. (86)”
― Thomas Lewis, A General Theory of Love

“Long-standing togetherness writes permanent changes into a brain’s open book. In a relationship, one mind revises another; one heart changes its partner. (144)”
― Thomas Lewis, A General Theory of Love

It’s been seven long years since I had a girlfriend. Have I been running from the solution?

First Son of Mars.

This is dyslexia of the internal compass. The needle is spinning like a top all the time, it would seem, as if my brain is hopelessly lost in the midst of the Bermuda Triangle.

It has plagued me since birth, where I exited nearly two weeks behind schedule, evidently eager to share a birth date with Charles Manson, and when I finally did breach the meat drapes of mommy I got it all backwards. For some time I took my breech birth as evidence that my lack of any sense of direction was there from the very beginning. As for my late arrival into post-womb existence, I had seen it as a suggestion that my procrastination was there from the very start. In times likes these, however, I wonder if I took those two extra weeks trying to figure out just how to get out. Nowadays, my sense of direction certainly appears to be irreversibly backasswards. Unless I’ve driven to a specific location umpteen times with detailed directions, I get horribly lost, even when driving to places I’ve already successfully driven to. If I find my way there, learning the way back is an entirely different monster.

This is unfortunate, especially so when I’m driving to a place to get my damn car fixed, my gas tank is nearly on empty and I’m dead flat broke until my paycheck. Eventually I have to turn around and try to find my way back home before I get stranded. I text my roommate Nick at work to let him know I won’t be arriving and, with shame, I confess to him why.

He won’t be able to fix my brakes until after Christmas now, which means driving home to my parent’s house over an hour away should be a blast, but then Nick offers to drive me home for Christmas. As Christmas is usually a closely knit family time, I wondered how well this would work, especially considering I would be leaving earlier than I usually manage. Especially considering I’m dead-ass broke and bought no one gifts, but merely cards. It would feel too much like I was eating, grabbing gifts and running out the door to me, and that didn’t strike me as considerate by any measure, regardless of how much my anger towards my mother has remained strong. I finally decide that the best way to go was to be honest and ask them what it was that they would prefer.

My mother answered the phone, and so it was to her that I posed the question. After telling to her the car circumstance, I asked her whether she would rather have Nick drive me there or for me to drive there. With Nick I would arrive later and have to leave their place earlier. If I drove myself, they might have to come pick me up if my breaks lock up. I honestly didn’t care either way, and felt she was probably going to say I should just drive down myself, but instead, after some hemming and hawing, she said for me to ask my father and passed him the phone. I had explain the circumstances over again and present the choices.

As him and I discuss it, I hear my mother say in the background, “Why is it always mom?”

She means, of course, why it is that she is the one who is looked to in order to make the decisions which, of course, is a crock of shit. At nearly every level my mother is a dedicated back seat driver. Despite what she adores proclaiming, she is not forced into the role of the decider but constantly seems to be fighting for it when she doesn’t have it and denying it when it is offered. Everything with her is a power battle. She has an insatiable thirst for control. What she does not want is the spotlight, the official position, preferring instead to work in the shadows of the back seat, criticizing the one driving for making the wrong decisions. Then she bitches when someone finally gets tired of it and offers her the wheel. When it comes to my father specifically, it appears that she desires to control him much as her own grandmother controlled her father while growing up. Constantly she would yell at my father for always making her out to be the bad guy, though when he made a decision that was not to her liking, she would make him feel as if he was being too soft, being a total pushover when it came to me, failing to realize her omnipresent and all too blatant hypocrisy.

Hearing my mother’s voice in the background, hearing her tone, feeling those emotions from her triggered an instant rage in me of such intensity that I can hardly remember the rest of the conversation with my father. There was no screaming on my end, of course, and I didn’t call her out on it or make any verbal indication that I had even heard her speak. I have become a god at playing dumb. Of biting my tongue until it bleeds. Of holding it all in as I constantly try to take a step back from the dreaded detonation. These all became my psychological survival strategies when dealing with my mother, particularly when I was still within the confines of queen bee’s hive.

The note my father and I ended on, when I refused his offer to pick me up and drive me home the following day, was a vague one, and I told him that we would figure it out later. It would be a day or to until a decision had to be made, anyway. I got off the phone as quickly as I could without making it feel like I was in a rush.

I was tired of being so angry at my mother, but I was even more tired of feeling guilt for that anger. Constantly I try to tell myself that she has changed, that my relationship with my mother has grown and matured through experience and a slowly-evolving understanding over the years, but that, I tell myself, that’s the fucking problem. I have to keep telling myself it again and again like a goddamn mantra precisely because the notion is so blatantly absurd. I know damned well that if I still lived under that roof, if I saw or even spoke with her on the phone more often, if I didn’t make my time while visiting as short-lived and infrequent as I do, that in a short time the illusions that anything between us has changed would evaporate. It would be revealed all too clearly that nothing about her has changed, that her and I are exactly where we have been for most of my fucking life. She was acting out her revenge against her brother, my uncle Fred, through her relationship with me because I was the first child and a boy. Uncle Fred, of course, was the oldest of the two of them, and in her house while growing up they always catered to the first son. Values were inverted when it came to our house, and the fact that there were more women in the house while growing up than men only fed her sense of power. My mother is a closet feminazi, and the closet is made out of glass.

Though maybe there are other reasons my mother and I are this way. Perhaps it was written in the stars.

Back some time ago when I had done some research into astrology, I found it interesting that my sun sign, Scorpio, shared a ruling planet with Aries, my mother’s sun sign. Appropriately enough, that planet we share just happens to be Mars, named after the God of War.

My moon sign, said to govern emotions and the unconscious, is also Aries. That rose back into my mind when reading on the effects of maternal bonds on sons: the mother and his relationship with her seems to later be internalized, governing the way he handles his own emotions. My research also added weight to my suspicions that, like it or not, the pair-bond is an outgrowth of the maternal bond. In experiments, a gosling imprinted a ping-pong ball as “mother” at birth. Upon reaching the age of sexual maturity, the goose would only attempt to copulate with ping-pong balls. A peculiar fetish to say the least, but despite being domesticated apes with egos, we aren’t so different from the damn goose. Our mothers become the prototypes for females, especially those closest to us in life, and our relationship with her applies strong influence over our relationship with other women — again, the maternal “attractor” places the highest degree of influence on those women with whom we share the closest bonds, or have the most frequent contact with.

Once you accept the indications and get over the gross feelings associated with it, you’re only left with anger if you had a mother that treated you as a non-person, a power-hungry woman who manipulated you subtly, refused to hear what you had to say, and with whom you endlessly battled. Your hopes for a healthy, satisfying relationship had already grown dim, perhaps, in your recognition of the fact that you had difficulty connecting or accepting the loss of personal time that came with an intimate relationship. Now to learn that your hopelessly doomed desire to have such a healthy relationship is doomed due to a neural imprint branded into your brain by your mother throughout the time growing up? That adds a certain hefty degree of anger in your already-heavy fucking heart.

It was either that very evening or the next that was my Thursday-to-Friday 9 in the evening to 5 in the morning third shift of the week, where I would be alone in the store from roughly midnight to four-thirty. Typically I had my MP3 player with me, as it gave me some distraction from the rampant mosh-pit of thoughts and emotions when I’m both alone and cannot dedicate the time to self-expression but rather mind-numbing, tedious, mundane duties. Sometimes even with the music my thoughts get so high-speed and go so hog-wild that the tension is unbearable.

That third shift, I had no batteries for my MP3 player; especially unfortunate as my mind has been provided ample material for which to drive itself insane over as of late, even apart from the mother bullshit. I was not alone long until my thoughts, as I had feared they would, shifted to my mother and I began imagining scenarios where I have shouting matches with her, confront her, saying all the things I’ve felt the burning need to say but have never dared. I also do this with my boss, and I’m fully aware of the similarities in my relationships between the two of them. At one point in my imaginary dialogue with her, I am at the kitchen table and I say to her: “As unlikely as it seems at this point, if I ever have a child, I am only having that one. And if that child happens to be a boy, and so a first son, and you treat him anything like you treated me as I was growing up, I will make you very, very sorry. And then you will never see me or that child ever again.” That line echoed in my head, I polished the words and the tone, played with the scene in which it was said. I did this over and over. Saying that to her, even in imagination, felt so good, so empowering.

Maybe a day later I texted my sister, Eve, who lives with my parents, and told her to tell them I was going to drive down. I was done playing into my mother’s game. I hoped my car busted on the way down. The next day, my father left me a voicemail telling me that he didn’t want me to drive down and he would feel better picking me up. I ignored it. He hadn’t said to call him back anyway. It didn’t matter, as I had made my decision anyway. The likely scenario is that my mother wanted me to drive down but my father was concerned my brakes might fail. To me, that was all that needed to be said. All too often for me everything seems like a metaphor for something else, something deeper. Things were not just ends in themselves, and at times are not ends at all, but rather signifiers, indicators, little Zen monks pointing to the moon. My mother cared more about maintaining the back-seat driver approach than she did about my potential safety: that was the underlying message to me. That was the goddamned soul of the matter.

On Christmas Eve, my father left me a voicemail. During the evening at work that night, the manager calls me into the office and hands me the phone. It was my father. I tried to control my anger as I heard my suddenly stern voice explain to my father that I had given mom the option, a simple question, she refused to answer and decided to push it on him. Now I’m making the decision. I’m driving down tomorrow morning, I told him, and leaving later that day. We ended the conversation on a good note, the conversation went on a while longer and I hung up with him.

For the remainder of the evening, I could stop thinking about that conversation. Lately there had been some statuses on that popular social network that I had been making over the whole Connecticut tragedy and the reaction of the media and masses. The response to the statuses were favorable, but in addition to the favoring I felt that same weary undertone from people that I had felt from my father on the phone, I suddenly realized. It was strange. He accepted it and responded in a way that perplexed me. I got the feeling of a deep respect from him, like he was proud of me with this subtle undertone of fear to it.

The only exception I could recall with any clarity was from Sherri, Nick’s friend and romantic interest, who seemed to associate me with some dark, influential and violent minds she called “crazy” and yet seemed to vaguely worship, and perhaps at some level identify with. And then she brought up the Connecticut thing with me. Was the target of her passions the same target that made others feel fear, given this tragedy? Was she trying to indicate that I fit the profile, and was that what everyone else was thinking, too? I remembered one guy at work who always told me that I fit the profile of a serial killer, Unabomber, mass murderer even more than he did. Then I thought of all that shit about my other uncle, who is actually a great uncle, I believe, who I am convinced is a legitimate psychopath, and how every time I would bring up this observation to my parents I always got this weird feeling from them. Was it that same feeling of suspicion or thinly guised fear? Did my own parents think I fit the profile? Am I projecting my own fears, seeing what isn’t there?

When I arrived there at Christmas — in disappointment, without difficulty — my father spotted me as soon as I opened the front door. I was about to ignore it, play it off, and hug him without saying anything, but he quickly approached me, put his hand on my shoulder and whispered to me, “Are you okay?” to which I responded, wrapped in a dark laugh, “No.”

He ushered me swiftly to the family room in the back.

“It’s the same thing,” I told him. “It’s mom. Nothing is ever going to change and I’m tired of being guilty for being angry at her. She hasn’t changed at all. She’s subtly manipulative, she puts you in a bind as you struggle to maintain balance as you always do. I’m just tired of it. She’s my mother, I love her, but I can’t fucking stand her.”

As I told this to my father, I wanted to say I loved my mother yet hated her, which was how I honestly felt, but I knew that word directed at my mother would hurt him, so I held it back. He asked me if I would keep the peace for Christmas, for him. I told him the truth, which was that I hadn’t planned on saying a word about it. I wanted to utter that thing about my hypothetical son, but I knew I wouldn’t, and that I wouldn’t even convey it to my father.

It was basically just the immediate family. My mother and father, my Uncle Fred, the middle child, Eve, and Linda, my youngest sister, who was with her husband, Joey. Aunt Betty was dead, Uncle Bill had gotten his money, so he wasn’t there, of course. We would likely never see that monster in our bloodline ever again. I was still convinced he was a psychopath. Considering how strangely my parents reacted every time I brought up the theory, the way in which they seemed to have nothing at all to say about it, I was comfortable with that.

For the entire time I was there, it felt like I was holding my breath. The suspicion or fear was there in the air, like a subtle odor I couldn’t ignore. Then, after we opened our cards and presents, I was sitting on the couch, facing Linda, who was standing near her husband, Joey, sitting on the other couch. A weird mood bursts through, Linda turns her head and says, “Before anyone leaves…”

It hit me like a bullet. And look at the worried look on Joey‘s face, the glances they just exchanged.

“Are you serious?”

Linda looked at me suspiciously and said, “What?”

I realized I had involuntarily said that out loud and felt embarrassed.

“Nothing,” I told her, shaking my head and trying to make it seem as if it really were nothing, “go on.”

Was she really pregnant? My mother asked to my sister, either over me or after me, suspiciously, “What?”

And then Linda told us all that she was pregnant. The middle child, Eve, was in tears. My father, unfortunately, wasn’t in view. Joey, who I had never seen or could imagine having seen having that look on his face — like the poor guy was about pass a child-sized shit in his pants — drew my attention, however. My mother expressed happiness for her, though I felt she was concealing something. She also said that we’re probably going to think that she’s just lying, but she had a feeling the other day. As their was discussion and congratulations all around. In my head, the lines resurfaced:

“As unlikely as it seems at this point, if I ever have a child, I am only having that one. And if that child happens to be a boy, and so a first son, and you treat him anything like you treated me as I was growing up, I will make you very, very sorry. And then you will never see me or that child ever again.”

Maybe not synchronistic or even coincidental, but nonetheless meaningful to me that I happened to be focused on her bullshit being carried onto another generation and here, evidently, was a gestating, potential target for her to carry out her crap. She was my only worry for the child to be, however. My sister and brother-in-law are intelligent, responsible, practical people. Joey will make an excellent father, my sister an awesome mother. If indeed they have a boy, it will be a first son, one thankfully not born on Mars, but close enough to my mother the Martian ram that I vow to start saying things to my mother in full force if she starts waging war with him using her armory of vicious subtlety.

I got up, standing beside Uncle Fred, who was sitting on the steps cradling a cup of coffee. I patted his shoulder. “Well,” I told him, “I guess now its my turn to be the goofy uncle.”

Some time passed and I had already stopped myself from leaving at least twice when I made the official announcement that I was going to get going. Hugs and handshakes all around, another congratulations to Linda and Joey and Chuck Norris, as Joey had elected to call the bun in the oven for the time being. My father followed me out, and we exchanged a few kind words and enduring hugs before I left. One of the last things that came out of his mouth before I left was in response to something I said about my anger towards my mother, or my anger towards the media maybe, or something, and how I felt I had maybe expressed too much on my statuses on that social network. His words brought back that feeling I had felt before. The feeling I’d had from him on the phone.

He said, innocently, “Well, it’s better you get it out that way.“

My heart sunk. It was surreal.

There had been that underlying tension all day. Unlike Thanksgiving, Joey had not brought his guns and asked me if I wanted to shoot them off in the woods. And despite people at some point bringing up the news, particularly Uncle Fred, and despite the gun regulations that were being proposed which would clearly be a thorn in the side of gun enthusiasts like him and Joey, no one had breathed a word around me regarding Connecticut. It was the same kind of tension I had felt online, at work, when talking to my father. I had felt it before all this, too. It was the exact same feeling I had gotten from my parents every damned time I brought up my theory that Uncle Bill was a legitimate psychopath.

Who did they think I was? Uncle Fred or Uncle Bill?

An Elf, Not So Jolly (Senex III).

The first of many strange memories that surfaced when I was sixteen involved an incident which I know occurred on Christmas Eve, though I am uncertain of the year. Judging from the fact that I had my own room at the time, it could not have been any earlier than 1984, which would make me at least six years old.

No matter how hard I tried that night I simply could not get to sleep. This bothered me a great deal, too, as somewhere along the line I had latched onto the idea, no doubt fed to me by my parents, that if I was not asleep Santa would pass by our house and leave us with nothing. As I am a compulsive worrier, thoughts of a Christmas morning without gifts or so much as a lump of coal in my stocking filled my paranoid little mind and that, of course, made it all that much more difficult for me to get to sleep. So I just lay there with my restless mind, trying to give off the appearance of being asleep, painfully aware of the alleged ability of the jolly old elf to see through such a facade and hoping that if, by chance, that were true that my efforts might be enough to earn some sympathy.

For what must have been hours, however, I had been terribly thirsty. While I always kept a cup of water beside my alarm clock on the shelf below the window to the side of the top bunk of my loft bed, I had been afraid to move a muscle, let alone reach out for it. After all, if my sudden movement to reach out for the cup didn’t give away the fact that I was wide awake, drinking the water itself would undoubtedly make me have to leave my room in order to pee, and that would most certainly give away the fact that I was awake. My inability to fall asleep and my tremendous thirst ultimately won me over, however, so I sat up in bed, leaned over the safety bar and extended my hands towards the cup. I don’t know if I ever actually took so much as a sip of that water, however, or if my hand ever came to touch that cup, as in the midst of reaching out for it I happened to glance outside my window.

Once I saw the face staring in at me through the window I swiftly retreated to the far corner of the bed. As I shook in that corner, heart beating wildly, my mind tried desperately to put together how it could possibly be real.

At that point in my youth, I had found it rational to adopt a “Pascal’s Wager” sort of attitude towards the idea of Santa, reasoning that faith in his existence in either case would only be beneficial to me. After all, if he didn’t exist and I called my parent’s bluff, I may no longer receive the gifts that perhaps only came as a benefit of believing in the lie. And if he did exist and was as omniscient as the holiday tales made him out to be, he might very well take disbelief in him as a n insult and skip over our house in his annual rounds. Though my parents had never said it, by that time I had, of course, suspected that Santa Claus was nothing more than a lie parents told children and it was really them that stuffed the stockings hung by the chimney, that it was actually themselves that put the presents beneath the tree.

Yet here it was, Christmas Eve, and there was this strange face at my window. Was this Santa after all? If so, his appearance did not seem at all resonant with what I had been told of him. He had no beard, he wore no white-and-red-colored suit, and that face did not look at all human. Nor did those wide, violating eyes bulging out of that wrinkly, brown-colored skin give off the appearance of being the eyes of a saint. And with that bottom lip firmly pressed against that little monkey-like nose to stretch out that long, unearthly frown, he didn’t have the look you would expect to be on the face of a jolly old elf.

Just as I was in the process of convincing myself that the whole thing had been the product of my overactive imagination, that was when I heard it: a deliberate, persistent tapping on the window. At the sound of it I just locked up and stopped breathing. From where I was the creature at the window could not see me, save for perhaps my legs, and I had no intention of so much as moving, let alone getting back within its line of sight to answer its apparent call. Instead, I just remained there, motionless save for my terrified trembling, thinking that perhaps if I only ignored that gruesome creature he might go away.

A short time later, when the periodic tapping at the window had finally ceased, I thought perhaps that I had managed to will him away through the awesome power of denial, but as I peered down into my dark room and towards my bedroom door, my terror returned and wasted no time blasting to a fever pitch. There was unmistakable movement down there. There was a figure, what I remember as a dark, featureless silhouette, walking through my closed door with the ease of an apparition. I would later call it “the ghost of Santa Claus.”

The figure remained there, before the door, as a parade of shorter forms marched along the wall of my room, towards my closet and the step-ladder at the end of my loft bed. They, too, seemed to be featureless silhouettes, and though basically slender with large heads, they seemed to be morphing in the shape, almost fluid in a way. For years I referred to them as a gang of shape-shifting elves, though I often speculated that the shape-changing nature may have been an inaccurate interpretation on my behalf, inspired by the coupling of my unadjusted eyes, their actual form, and the shadows they cast on the wall as they moved.

In any case, watching those forms approaching the area where a step-ladder would provide them easy access to me was the very last thing I recalled regarding the events of that night before Christmas.

The next thing I knew it was morning, and not only were the events of the previous night still fresh and clear in my mind, but I had the distinct, nagging impression that far more had occurred; things which, try as I might, I was entirely unable to recall. An ominous shadow seemed to drape itself over the excitement that traditionally filled me in untainted form on Christmas mornings. Cautiously, I told my parents about it, hoping that perhaps they could provide some sort of explanation. The only person that had anything to offer was my father, who suggested that the whole incident may have been a hallucination due to dehydration, but that interpretation was far from satisfying.

The question as to what had really happened that night hung with me all year, and by the following Christmas I had a plan. In an unfortunate coincidence, I believe that this was the very year that my parents called me into their room and announced that the whole Santa thing was, as I had long expected, a lie parents told their children. A confusion seemed to fill the room as I cried, for, as they quickly revealed to me, they would have thought I had by that time figured it out on my own anyhow. While in a deep sense I most certainly had, they had, with their sudden and unexpected announcement, entirely eliminated the only explanation I had within my worldview at the time for the events that had occurred the previous Christmas Eve, leaving me with nothing but a frightening, mysterious memory devoid of a ready-made context.

Despite the grim revelations only hours before, that night I remained awake in my room until the early morning hours with my camera in hand, staring at the window, all my senses acute as I patiently awaited the return of that frowning creature and his vertically-challenged henchmen. Of course, they never came. As much as I knew there was no Santa, as strongly as that had now been confirmed, I felt the comfort of thinking that perhaps I was wrong, perhaps my parents were wrong, that perhaps he was real, and that this could still explain what I’d seen that night — and that the mysterious beings would reappear in anniversary of their previous visit and I would capture evidence of their existence on film.

At some point during the second grade year, our teacher had to take a leave of absence, at which time a substitute teacher came in to replace her for what I believe was the remainder of the year. It was a maternity leave, though so far as I know it was an unscheduled one, which seems strange, considering it should have been anticipated. Regardless, at some point after she took her leave I remember feeling ill during school. When I went down to the nurse’s office, however, I seemed incapable of describing to her what the problem was. I was only able to convey to her that my head felt strange, that I felt dizzy and confused and was unable to walk straight. Quickly, I picked up on the fact that this was not enough for her, and that she suspected that I was only faking an illness to get out of class, but she nonetheless permitted me to lay down on the cot she had in her office. Grabbing the white curtain around the cot, she drew it around me, concealing me from the office and the rest of the world, and there I lay alone, the nauseous feeling escalating, my mind spinning like a top. Though I would have no way of knowing it back then, what I was experiencing was almost drug-like, almost like a psychedelic experience. In tandem with the symptoms previously described, I began seeing strange, spinning visions in my head that were frighteningly vivid and horribly perplexing. In these visions, I found myself running around in this room at high speed, trying to find a way out. The room was dark and everything was draped in this eerie, red highlight. Chasing me around in the room were these creatures, these little monsters, that looked like demented versions of the Muppets, and one of them in particular I recall staring down at me with its big, buggy eyes, beneath which it wore a long, unearthly frown.

My parents were called and they took me home. I remember that I stayed in bed a lot, and my mother grew concerned due to the time I was taking off from school. I only recall that I felt depressed and frightened about something that seemed beyond my ability to explain. When my mother came into my room one day while I was in bed and confronted me, however, revealing that she knew I wasn’t sick and pressing me for some explanation, I didn’t know what to say. when she questioned as to whether it was the new substitute teacher I didn’t like, I figured that was as good an explanation as any, so I “confessed” to it. My mother seemed satisfied, and understanding, though she did say that I had to go back to school, and when I later asked her whether she told my teacher that I “hated” her, she said that she had told my teacher that I had problems adapting. That made me feel awkward for the rest of the time that we had her. What made matters worse was the fact that I couldn’t articulate what was truly wrong.

High Sensitivity.

There is that moment upon awakening when all the issues in my external life come crashing back down upon my conscious mind, where awareness of life’s current circumstances come rushing back at me like a swarm of furious bees. With every passing day of the last week, it got more ruthless, and the dark, intense mood I found myself in had begun growing and growing.

To some degree, this tends to happen to me quite frequently, but rarely this extreme. My emotions get unbearably intense at times, like this awesome pressure building up in my body, pushing relentlessly against the boundary of my skin. The energy concentrates in my head, however, making my eyes feel as if they are locked on high-beam. I don’t blink as much, or so it seems to me, and being stuck in the stare makes me uncertain where to place my eyes.

I am hypersensitive to other people’s emotions, often hateful towards myself when I react to them as if they are my own. The empathy requires that I change their emotions in order to change what I cannot block due to the high sensitivity. I end up feeling intrusive, nosey, concerned about others to levels that I know seem creepy.

Sometimes I feel that I know what people are thinking or what they are going to say and ready my responses. Sometimes, though not often, I can literally hear as an inner voice what they are saying to themselves in their head. The spider of synchronicity, of meaningful coincidence, weaves a web around me. These allegedly psi aspects of my overload periods I often interpret as potential indications of my insanity, conjuring up the fears and dismal feelings associated with my recurrent suspicions that I may in fact be schizophrenic.

The disorganized means of communication that results from the inner emotional pressure seem to worry me the most: in many respects, psychosis and other such mental disorders seem to share the theme of communication breakdown. Is it that it’s hard to think over the high volume of my emotions? That it distracts my thoughts or communication to the point that it comes out disorganized and nonsensical? My thoughts make sense to me in these instances; the way in which I communicate the subjective contents to others seems to be the issue. It embarrasses me, as I fear the confusion towards me, I fear they suspect this might indicate my insanity and they will look down on me, think poorly of me. Yet it is difficult to dismiss the meaningful coincidences or the telepathy, especially the occasions in which it has been clear reception, as the other person has, in at least two circumstances, confirmed what I heard them think.

Shadows of Connecticut.

Poverty sucks, especially when you’ve been smoking marijuana every evening after work in a crude attempt to relax and maintain your sanity and suddenly have to stop cold turkey for three days until you get your paycheck, during which you’re going through something that feels like withdrawal in tandem with a nervous breakdown. So I was quite happy when I had taken the opportunity to go home after work early, hoping to just hide in my room and write.

Opening the door to the apartment, pissed from all the shit at work, I’m surprised to find Nick sitting on the couch with Sherri. Both are holding drinks. The air carries the sweet odor of alcohol. Strange, whoopee cushion looking balloons litter the floor along with tiny canisters. Nick’s huge flat screen is on the pool table playing Donnie Darko.

Sherri seems excited to see me for some reason. She explains how they were doing whippets and drinking, and we talk a bit about the sequel to Donnie Darko. Eventually I escape to my room, where I change out of my work cloths, but within moments I hear the knock at the door, just as I’m buckling my pants. I opened it and the two of them, with her in the lead, nearly fell into my room, which I tried to hide from her because it was an unconventional mess. She had something for me, she told me, which is something any guy is perfectly willing to hear from a hot girl, but it makes things rather uncomfortable when the girl says it to you right in front of your roommate, who really wants her in the complete cock and cockles fashion no matter how much he plays it down.

Granted, the girl was drunk, but I’ve seen women do this all too often in the sober state and I’ve been both of the guys in question. It certainly seems to me that in most cases they are diverting their attention to one guy in an overly friendly or heavily flirtatious manner in order to produce jealousy in the other, perhaps in hopes that the jealousy fuels the jealous guy into action, specifically in the forms of, a, increased intensity, frequency and swift evolution of his attentions in an attempt to win her over or solidify her desire for him, or, b, she sends him into an overt rage and he starts a fight with the guy, which will not only serve to inflate her ego a bit (two guys, after all, are fighting over her) but give her full justification for being angry at them for treating her like a possession when they aren’t even dating, which will in turn inspire within him the most persistent and passionate attentions to date in an effort to sway her back towards him.

In any case this, it would seem, is just another subtle manipulative technique aimed at acquiring the fullest range of control available — techniques, I might add, that are certainly not exclusive to the female of the species, nor to romantic or intimate relationships. It’s difficult for me to tell whether these efforts are conscious or unconscious ones, or whether or not, in the end, I have as clear a picture as to what is going on here than seems to be the case to me.

I follow them the short distance down the hall to the kitchen, where she pulls a bottle out of the fridge and makes a horrible attempt at hiding it behind her back. Nick’s sister, Sandra, had bought me that bottle of Starbucks-flavored liquor for my twenty-third birthday. I am a certified coffee fiend, so it made sense, and the thought was sweet, but I had taken a shot of it once and nearly vomited it tasted so horrible. It has remained in the fridge of every place I’ve been in for the last decade or so, caked in dust. I don’t imagine it aged like wine. When she poured it into my mug, I thought something more akin to diarrhea might spurt out and plop into the cup with a distinctly wet fart sound. Or maybe what came out of it might make it more appropriate in use as a topping over your morning waffles.

In reality, it looked safe enough. Sherri pours some into my mug and then pours some of the coffee I just made in with it. She hands it to me and tells me that I’m going to drink with them, talk and watch Donnie Darko instead of escaping to my room as I always did. At some point in the midst of us talking she noticed my coffee travel mug, which depicted Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. I made reference to the fact that he had hacked off his ear and spend it to his girlfriend, and she went on to explain that this painting was inspired by the view van Gogh had from the window of his room at the sanitarium where he ended up. Expressing this story, she seemed to feel a sort of dark romance towards it which struck me as curious.

When we sit down, she tells me she used Donnie Darko in a college class assignment. I knew what college class and what assignment because I had also had that class, and that very assignment, only instead of choosing Donnie Darko I had chosen The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. It was the old fate and free will debate. She wrote a paper that favored fate, though she said she didn’t necessarily believe it. I had done my own paper in favor of free will, and I did that the only way I could have: my understanding had brought be to favor the notion of free will.

I’m not sure that my side of the conversation got through to her, however, for as many people do with increasing frequency, she insisted on talking over me, unable to delay anything she has to say any longer than it takes her mind to push out her mouth, and when I speak her speaking speeds and the volume of her voice gets louder, as if she is literally speeding up and running over the speed bump anything I might have to say serves as for her. One could interpret this as not an opressive act at all, of course. For instance, perhaps she only wants me to understand what she says clearly and completely before I say something in response, either because she is afraid she is going to forget these vital elements, what I say next might take the conversation in a direction too far for you to add an addendum to the statements made at your previous turn at the mic. Then again — and this I fear the most — perhaps she doesn’t want to know what I think because she thinks she already knows what I think or she doesn’t really care to know to begin with. and this is how I’ve been feeling lately.

Listen to: Just, by Mudvayne.
Listen to: All About Me, by Drowning Pool.

If I’m an ear, you want feedback. If I’m a wall born to bear the mighty machine-gun fire words, endure the lashings of Logos, then I am a subject being transferred into an object here, dehumanized to the status of a communal psychic commode, a confessional with a pulse, the beats of which go unheard over the roar of the babble from the rabble.

After she had gone to the bathroom, I waited to hear the door close down the hall before getting up, dumping the coffee she had spiked for me, and filling it back up with good old straight blacker-than-death regular fucking capital-C Coffee. I then silently sat back down and tried to seem as if I had never moved an inch. I did not, after all, wish to hurt the girl’s feelings. Nick responded with laughter, but he soon fell silent as she approached. somehow her and I got to talking. I’m sitting on the couch normally and she end up with her hands at either side of me, holding the back-end of couch for support, her face inches from my own, eyes bearing into my own. Around my own eyes, actually: for some reason, she never looked directly into my pupils at any point. She was considerably fucked up, so that’s likely the reason. Regardless, her face being this close to mine with Nick being right there brought me right back to my previous speculations. Is she using me as a tool to control Nick, or is there something else to this?

She thinks I’m interesting, she tells me. She thinks I’m intelligent.

I thank her, as awkward as hearing all that makes me feel. This isn’t right, this isn’t feeling safe. She’s hot enough, drunk enough, I’m horny enough and as much as I wouldn’t mind given different social circumstances, especially given the current context here there is no way in hell I could ever allow myself to do this, your attempt at fucking with me to fuck with him suggests something frigid beneath your skin, running like ice water in your reptile veins, and your just building up a fire I cannot diffuse, building up a rhythm that I could not ethically allow to climax, so knock it off.

Knock it the fuck off.

The pain these instinctual false alarms for my submersible custard cannon cause me is excruciating, but the potential fallout would be a selfish and ultimately emotionally costly slaughter, one too close in friendship to consider mere collateral damage. We’re slaves to instinct. We’re a slave to unconscious forces from sources both in and around us. It only makes sense that we would become enslaved by our ethical valuations of potential behaviors in light of the consequences foreseeable within the range of our awareness as well.

Nick gets up, and I know he isn’t leaving because he is hurt or angry. He is either going to pass out, piss or puke, and given the veiled urgency with which he made his way from the couch, I imagined puking was most likely.

Maintaining her position, she goes on to tell me several times how I’m intelligent, emphasizing it like a well-spaced mantra. That I am so good at reading people. I could meet someone and have them figured out in minutes. She tells me that I’m a good person. That I have a way with words, that I can express a viewpoint in such a way that convinces people of my point of view. Tone not altering at all as she does so, she then comments that I remind her of Hitler.


She had caught me off guard, and I had to laugh. She offered this as a compliment and I was curious what she meant exactly. Her and Nick had spoken about this the other day, she went on to explain, how Hitler, with his words, with his speeches, manipulated the masses to adopt his point of view.

“So you mean to say that I am adept at manipulating people?”

“Yes,” she told me. “You just don’t like to.”

There is the distinct sound of vomiting in the distance, and my concern over it catches her attention, and she tells me she’s going to go check on Nick. I follow her to the bathroom, where Nick’s shirt is off and he is nearly baptizing himself in the toilet water. Watching him there, staring into the gaping mouth of the porcelain goddess as if waiting for her to conjure up the relentless cyclone in his guts, I remind myself why I have all but given up on drinking. Above him she hovers, albeit in an off-balance manner, and asks him if he trusts her. Asks him this again and again. Each time, he says yes in a voice that clearly conveys sincerity. She then asks him if this is his toothbrush. He says yes. And she promises him this will make him feel better, and she rams the toothbrush down his throat. It worked. Hard love, perhaps. But that was definitely my fucking toothbrush, damn it.

The high point of the evening was the uncomfortable flattery she had delivered, and from the point of the toothbrush inward it all went downhill. By the time Nick was emptying his guts into the gaping orifice of the porcelain goddess, my patience had already grown thin with her. She is drunk, constantly repeating herself, I’m stuck driving her home and she refuses to take any subtle or direct suggestions that I should drive her ass home before it gets too late. I have a nervous breakdown to work on averting through relieving pressure through writing, and its impossible to attend to while you’re still in my presence.

I’m on overload here.

I take it all in. She graduated with a major in psychology and seems to be inexplicably drawn to the “crazy,” as she is always careful to put it. Already she had told me of her interest in van Gough, particularly his work The Starry Night, which she had seen on my coffee travel mug. With passionate absorption in the story, she had told Nick and I, as she poured decade-old Starbucks liquor from a dust-caked bottle from the back of the fridge into my coffee, how one-eared van Gough had painted the work, inspired by the night scene he could see through his sanitarium window. She is also evidently even more enthralled with the television show Dexter than I am.

She’s ashamed of her belief in fate and an arrogant voice in my head suggests that this might be because I brought up my belief in free will in a recent post I had made about a recent tragedy exploited by the media. This notion was reinforced when she then brought up the whole Connecticut tragedy with me. My head fell at her mention of it. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to escape this topic with people, and my viewpoint becomes more forceful, more rage-fueled every time the subject is brought up.

I can’t say why this is bothering me so much. Why it hit me so hard this time.

When will we wake up and recognize that these tragedies, however inhumane and gruesome when taken in isolation, collectively constitute symptoms of a sick culture? Incidents such as this, which happen with increasing frequency, call for a wider focus, a broader circumstantial and psychological investigation, a deeper contemplation with respect to the causes. I support free will and personal responsibility. I am never one in support of the notion that the individual is merely the product of their respective culture or personal upbringing, as there is always a spectrum of choice, but the cultural factors underlying these tragic symptoms DO serve to dictate the ease of certain choices. Increasingly, individuals in our culture seem to find their path of least resistance in committing these heinous acts, and that much is clear at this point, at least in my tainted inner eye. In light of that, it seems equally clear here that we should take serious and enduring pause before the media serves to distract us with something else to ask why that is, as there are clearly deeper forces at work here.

I still believe that given the right context, everything makes sense.

The motives? Perhaps to shift the power. To gain attention. Why? They feel powerless and unappreciated. Maybe they want a sense of personal significance and individual power and it can only be completed with feedback from the masses, an acknowledgement by the herd.

Why would they be under the impression that they must go to such extremes to get people to pay attention and listen to them?

Since 9/11, just think of the stream of words your constantly subjected to across the bottom of the screen. Other little nuggets of data popping up here and there while a news broadcast is going on. Just think of how nowadays you just cannot escape from everyone, how in some cases the cell phone becomes more akin to an electric leash. Consider how we are being subjected to too many meaningless choices. Recieving too much data at once. Expected to multitask as fast as we can, staying tuned to every relentless channel.

Think of Attention Deficit Disorder, which could be the logical end-result of a mind striving to adapt to the culture in which it finds itself. Given the multiple data-streams that must be juggled and multitasking that this culture demands it’s no surprise at all that so many minds and finding themselves incapable of concentrating too long on any one given thing.

On earth, there have never before been so many humans with so many different connections and so many different ways of connecting. When everyone has their proverbial fifteen minutes more or less at once, its easy for your voice to get lost in the crowd, and so the chatter becomes an ever-escalating shouting match.

People keep upping the ante because people keep getting desensitized. The Tool song Stinkfist conveys this in a most graphic and effective manner as the law of ever-diminishing returns leads him to go deeper and deeper from finger to fist to elbow into a bodily orifice in order to procure the same required level of satisfaction. It seems it is as Kevin Spacey said it was in the movie Seven.

“You can’t just tap people on the shoulder anymore,” he said. “You have to hit them with a sledgehammer. Then you notice you have their strict attention.”

It reminds you of the neighbors of the killer explaining him as always being so quiet and kind. It makes you wonder if maybe he was talking all along and they simply never thought to lend the ears to hear. If you aren’t being heard, the gun can be a more effective megaphone, either directly or through the massive, hollow shell that serves as phantom ricochet-chamber, and which we call the media. You always listen to the one with the gun, right? And sometimes the message is louder when you simply shoot or blow up an enormous amount of people and wait for the media to arrive. You become a celebrity. A dark, transient, cultural god. Antihero of the week. All brought to you by the media. Bred by the media for our money. For the investment of our attention. These antiheros achieve their status through the media providing the spotlight and holding them up for the world to see. All this attention, a media-made antihero, so many eyes watching and listening and taking in all the news stories, people talking about it at work, outside the bars, on talk radio.

“Monkey see, monkey do” is a skill also present in the domesticated primates known as humans, as incidents such as this clearly exemplify. The media exploits these tragedies, not out of some sense of moral obligation to provide the masses with the facts but to increasing ratings through sensationalism and relentless, 24-7 coverage of the killer and the bloody mark he made. They are not blind to the effects of this kind of coverage, either, as forensic psychologist Dr. Park Dietz so wonderfully expresses in a rare interview:

“We’ve had twenty years of mass murderers throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media if you don’t want to propagate more mass murders, don’t start the story with sirens blaring, don’t have photographs of the killer, don’t make this 24-7 coverage. Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story, not to make the killer some kind of antihero. Do localize this story to the effected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week.”

Might may not mean right, though it certainly proves useful. This is especially the case in the eyes of those who could never hope to gain the upper hand in hand-to-hand combat; those always stuck on the chewed-up underdog end of the dog-eat-dog world. The physically weak win over the physically strong by using intelligence and technology: guns, bombs and well-executed plans, for instance. This does not merely serve to level the playing field, but rather swings the teeter-totter of power in the diametrically opposing direction. There is always a bigger fish, but sometimes there is a minnow with superior firepower. Suddenly size doesn’t matter. Muscle is no match for the bullet.

Not to imply a connection — as that would surely paint the mainstream media as some fourth, “propagandizing” branch of government — but just a bit too often it has seemed suspiciously as if the government is channeling acute collective outrage and fear generated by tragedies to fuel support for policies they’ve been itching to implement for some time and which in reality have little if anything to do with the tragedy in question. Take 9/11, and the Iraq war. Or the Patriot Act. Take the recent tragedy and the push for gun control. Unfortunate, as clearly the masses have been fine countless times in the past with trading in freedoms for a greater illusion of security. The deeper things at work here are things that treatments such as home-schooling, I’m afraid, will not uproot or even protect you.

Mere laws or regulations on weapons won’t put a dent in this fucking issue, either. I’m not a card-carrying NRA member, but stricter gun control is not the solution. Stop looking at the damn gun and start looking at the broken mind that pulled the trigger and the social context that nurtured that psychology. This must start with defeat of the knee-jerk thought-stoppers. People fear empathizing with what is regarded as crazy, evil or insane as they fear that others will consider them guilty by means of association. So instead they build up a thick wall between themselves and the person in question by use of these dismissive words, which act as thought-stoppers and empathic-barriers. This Wall of Logos designates the solid boundary where our empathy ends, where our desire to understand is snuffed out by the darkness at the very edges of our personal identifications. The more eager people are to throw out those words, the more emotionally-fueled they are, the more I feel that they’re not just cutting off their attempts to empathize with that person but denying the presence of similar feelings within themselves. They’re repressing and projecting aspects of themselves that their ego is loath to accept consciously and identify as qualities of the self-concept.

I turned to Sherri and asked her if she knew why it was that she was so fascinated with the subject of those “crazies” and “evil” ones. This is the only time in the conversation that I recall not only successfully getting in more than a word in edgewise, but managed to get her to listen to it and contemplate it. Her head fell as if in confusion, and she was silent a moment.

“I don’t know,” she said, as if perplexed to find her mental hands brushing up against a wall in her mind.

Analysis of others is fine and good, I wanted to tell her, but every sword should be double-edged. Always turn back to look in the mirror, and look deep into the abyss of those pupils, my dear. It helps to keep you in check.

Fatemakers & Unconscious Conspirators.

We are wired to believe in free will, but even if we accept the notion with full consciousness we cannot deny those moments in which it seems fate is alive and well and has tight in its grips, be it for good or ill. Yet this fate, I maintain, is nothing more than the yank of unconscious reins.

We cling to patterns like junkies, as if the mother’s heartbeat leaves us addicts for more. We naturally gravitate towards the familiar, as the familiar is predictable, the familiar is a pattern. We find security here, as when in the womb, because we find pattern — repetition of the familiar — and this offers us the illusion of control, as we can predict and so anticipate and so have a fighting chance to manipulate the outcome if the present course does not look to be in the aim of your favor. If it is in our favor, we can just let those cards naturally play out in our favor.

In any case, it is always easy to convince ourselves that a prediction was actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. That rather than having known it was going to happen, we had made it happen. Or that we had known something was going to happen and effectively manipulated it into our favor.

We are experts at getting what we are taught to believe we need. Unfortunately what we feel we need is not always synonymous with what we think we want, and is actually quite often to be found in diametric opposition to what we want. So perhaps a familiar pattern is having an abusive figure in close relations. One may not want this, but if a woman has grown up knowing nothing but her drunk and abusive father, that’s the only point of reference she has from that point on for a close male figure.

We know that the unconscious mind communicates to the conscious mind. Could the unconscious minds of two people communicate through an unconscious body language of nonverbal cues? To some degree we know this is the case, as people exchange certain mannerisms and postures in our underlying courtship rituals. This was revealed through studies in evolutionary biology. We also know the knowledge of common nonverbal cues can be utilized in order to hypnotize or program a person to follow a certain command. In other words, all in all we know not only that conscious minds can speak to other conscious minds but that unconscious minds can speak to their own conscious mind, and that conscious minds can speak to their own unconscious mind as well as the unconscious minds of others to the extent that it bypasses their conscious mind. Is the final conversation in the pattern set here all that much of a leap?

It suddenly hits me that we already seem to have evidence of this.

Through unconscious “hot“ and “cold” reading and nonverbal communications, we identify and gravitate toward potential targets for our needs, project upon them and then get them to take on the role faithfully in projective identification, and we then let the unconscious forces produce a self-fulfilling prophecy based on the same old story. The objective of this is to provide a psychological sense of comfort and security through an illusion of conscious control produced by rationalizing “in” unconsciously-generated compulsions.

This is only half the story, as suggested by the book A General Theory of Love in their presentation of the notion of two people having compatible “attractors.” This is to say their mutual patterns of condensed experience with paternally or maternally-based pair-bonding have a key-in-lock, foot-in-shoe, hand-in-glove kind of affinity, and so they naturally fall into gravitation around one another. In their struggles to make you fit better into the silhouette of their “attractor” in their own minds, they will project; in order to reinforce those projections, you unconsciously manipulate your conscious self to manipulate the targets of your projections to actually identify or embody the role of the projection. “You are” as an answer to the question, “Who’s your daddy?” may have more relevance than you would have ever, in your most wretched train-wrecks of gruesome thought, dared to considered possible. Aside from that, in would appear that love is not, as I have previously stated, nothing more than a hormonally-induced form of temporary insanity. It is also evidently a conspiracy targeting two conscious people, with the conspirators their respective unconscious minds.

Attractors don’t only exist for pair-bonding, it would seem, as recurring patterns in your relationships over time have certainly manifested in life. When my family moved from our old house to our new one in 1988, we also changed schools, and I immediately noticed that groups formed that bared the same roles and styles of relations that I had seen in the groups at my old school. Sometimes even their sizes were the same. I began to wonder if there was more to group structuring than the usual pack and pack-leader. Maybe there wasn’t so much a hierarchy but a system of interlocking roles that developed in which each provided what the other “needed,” however unwanted. Groups were closely-knit relations, but groups also have relations with other groups. We also have relations between individuals within groups, and many people belong to many groups. It seems possible that unconscious minds are influenced by a sort of unconscious social network just as we are influenced by our conscious ones. In life, there are always two levels to every social situation: the Surface and the Underneath.

The surface is the land of interacting conscious egos; the underneath, a network of unconscious conspirators playing us like unwitting psychological sock puppets, the propaganda and cover stories we cling to mere myths, making our real history one of much more depth and breadth than we could ever consciously acknowledge. On the surface, we egos weave and embrace our self-fictions and forge relations with denied aspects of ourselves in the reflections we catch of them in the eyes of others. In the underneath, unconscious minds communicate through gestures, postures, facial expressions and positions, through subtleties in choice of language, suggestions in tone of voice, in what we wear and when and so many other ways, one unconscious mind bypasses its conscious counterpart completely to communicate with another unconscious mind through the medium of the nonverbal, of the implicit.

It could be that they conspire to wire certain social relations based on shared affinities between mutual condensed histories, and much as the conscious ego does with certain unconscious impulses, it rationalizes them in a way that is resonant with the elaborate network of schemas it constitutes. Just as conscious awareness weaves itself an ego to rationalize the unconscious, it weaves similar fictions for itself to rationalize its bonds with others, to satisfy itself that the past is not always present.

This is how we deny that we are held in the grips underneath.

To Flow With the Autopilot.

Previously I have written of two ways we might defeat autonomous complexes, attractors, or as I call them here, autopilot programs. We can either integrate them through Jungian trancendent function or work with them through incubation techniques. There appears to be a third option, however, and this is to override them through flow.

The mind as a whole, as Colin Wilson suggested, seems to have a sort of “thermostat” for conscious awareness. So long as we stay consciously aware above the mid-point, we are at the wheel of our brain, but when our degree of awareness or absorption drops below, say, 50 degrees, the thermostat clicks on the unconscious autopilot (or what he calls “the robot function”). The unconscious autopilot is composed of multitudes of stimulus-response programs governing countless sectors of our life for us. From the standpoint of consciousness, these programs are both unconscious and automatic, subliminally influencing both the percieved stimulus through projection and the generation of the actual response through unconscious impulses the conscious ego rationalizes. We program the autopilot through emotional intensity (regardless of the specific emotion) and repetitive exposure to stimuli (of any sensory modality or form of communication, supraliminal and subliminal).

Traditional psychology calls the autopilot by another name, implicit memory. This is a type of memory in which we do not remember facts or events as with explicit memory, but instead consciously execute patterns, forms or structures in our thoughts, speech or behavior that are based on unconsciously-remembered patterns, forms or structures and unconscously-generated associations and consolidations. This is known as priming; the unconscious influence on our choices. This unconscious influence is suggested due to the fact that certain choices are clearly based on memories of our experiences, though we may have never consciously recalled those memories and are certainly not aware of them influencing our present decisions.

We need the autopilot in order to preform higher functions. There are tiny steps that need to be taken, and our sucesses with achieving this or that step accrue, cumulatively leading to our success at the task as a whole. It is this way for so many of the capabilities we have and yet take for granted, such as speaking or driving a car. None of that would have been possible if not for our ability to program the autoplot, and it goes further. There would appear to be a ghost in the autopilot. The autopilot thinks, and it does so in an associative manner. Mastering a pattern in one specific area, the autopilot proceeds to both generalize the triggers and programs to which they are associated for cross-modal application.

Consequently, even when venturing into unknown territory the autopilot plays a key role, as it can relate (as through analogy or metaphor), generalize (as through symbol or sign) and condense (as in the form of what are known as attractors, complexes, or CODEX) programs from all throughout the unconscious mind which have parallels to the new situation. After we learn to drive our first car, an Oldsmobile, we don’t have to start from the ground up in learning how to drive a Mercury Topaz after the Olbmobile, due to a series of unfortunate events, ends up resembling a huge wad of smoldering tinfoil bleeding neon green antifreeze into the midst of a busy, five-way intersection. Instead, we can generalize the trigger Oldsmobile to an umbrella term, cars, and as a consequence the Topaz will conjure up the “driving” program with matching success. Then we abstract the pattern carried over from the specific trigger for use in the now-generalized trigger. We don’t have to start from scratch every time we drive a different car, as programs carry over to the specific new cues of the new car with relative ease.

Often this even seems to work too well, as a person goes from driving a stick shift to an automatic and to his utter irritation constantly finds himself reaching for a shifter that isn’t there time and time again. In other cases when the autopilot words too well, it drains our lives of meaning. Throughout his writings, Wilson gives examples of this. Just as we consciously learn to ride a bike and then slowly autopilot comes to do the riding for us, when we at first hear a new song we like it moves us, but after the radio has overplayed it for a month’s time at work it seems that all the life it once swelled with has been drained dry, as if by some feinding chubacabra. The reason is that autopilot is now doing the listening, just as it has been doing the bike-riding. You programmed it through emotional intensity and repitition without even trying and then went 50-below. If we withdraw too much conscious awareness, we basically fall alseep at the wheel of our brains. Unfortunately, we tend to lead lives of routine and it becomes profitable to keep awareness well below fifty degrees so the autopilot does what it does best. If we fall asleep at the wheel of our brains too deeply, we begin being absent-minded, making stupid mistakes. If, on the other hand, we apply too much conscious awareness, we are bound to step on the toes of the unconscious and disengage the autopilot. Think of all the times you were in the midst of doing something and suddenly made the mistake on reflecting on just what it was you were doing, at which point you screwed up a task you engage in every day.

The less conscious awareness invests attention in the autopilot implicit memory in question, the less it interferes with unconscious “recollection” through imposing structure and unconscious associative thinking processes. Conscious thought and behavior interferes with unconscious thought and behavior. As consciousness withdraws control, unconsciousness compensates; as consciousness takes control, the unconscious takes the passenger seat.

At best, the mind would be a masterful trapeze artist engaging in a balancing effort between challenge and ability, structure and freedom, which would bring the conscious and unconscious to interact and share their energy. There is an interview with Bruce Lipton, a psychologist and author, in which he explains how one’s behavior changes when they’ve met a love interest. A love interest gives you a very focused and structured sense of purpose. That it is a love interest implies, of course, that awareness is likely to be heightened, and for two reasons. To begin with, you want full engagement with the senses so as to gather as much of her as humanity possible; as a consequence, autopilot programs that have governed our perceptions at perhaps every preceeding point in our life are disengaged. In addition, there will be an all-systems-go status with respect to conscious awareness. You’re going to be very consciously aware of what you do, how you behave, what you say and how you say it.

Essentially, what he is describing is Flow. The state of Flow seems to indicate that happiness is a byproduct of a clear, meaningful and comfortably-structured sense of purpose. To put it another way, Flow appeared to bes produced by any activity that simultaneously encompasses qualities inherent in what the Western mind considers the two over-arching categories of meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves open monitoring, or detached observation of experience. The thoughts we think we own actually own us, and by training ourselves during meditation to letting go of them we not only percieve that fact to be true but in so doing liberate ourselves from their influence. It also serves as active, concentrated meditation, which involves focused attention on object, image, or area of the body. The goal, such as a love interest, acts in the capacity of a yantra. Though the goal that sets the purpose and structure and simultaneously calls upon heightened self-awareness can be something other than a love interest, of course.

Regardless, it would appear that by increasing the range and degree of conscious attention we invest in our behavior while honing in on a meaningful goal in a comfortably-structured manner, we in turn disengage the autopilot programs, the schemas and complexes that take over our behavior and govern our perceptions.