Undercover Differences.

Agateophobia is at once the fear of the insane and of becoming a card-carrying member of the tribe oneself.

As with homophobia, here the fear is emphasized rather than the hate and anger, as highlighted through the use of the words racism and sexism, for instance. Why the difference?

You can visually detect the race or sex of someone, and to direct anger at the Other in question is as easy as glancing their way. Not necessarily so in the case of homosexuality or “insanity.”

Crazy people and gay people come in all colors, sexes, gender identities, sexual persuasions, political affiliations. They don’t always have an easily-identifiable marker.

After all, the guy arguing in the stall beside the urinal into which you piss in this hypothetical public restroom may be arguing with someone on his cell phone between the squirts and watery plops, which is just gross. Then again, he could be alone in that stall arguing with someone no one else can see.

If you saw him on the street you might not even know he’s insane. No more than his sexual persuasion. Only that he is a well-manicured white male with blond hair.

To call him crazy, though, would be to lump him into a broad and ambiguous category. To call someone insane or crazy is not only dismissive, it doesn’t really say anything at all. It isn’t even typical prejudice, which involves assigning someone to a category and then mistaking them for the category to which you have assigned them. No, it goes farther with the ambiguous nature of the label, the lack of definition behind the category that they use to replace a person.

It is someone who operates differently — against himself, perhaps, wherein lies the problem — but we don’t see that part. What we pick up is the distinction, the foreign nature of his evident thoughts, behaviors, perceptions.

In the end, to dismiss someone as insane only suggests that they have no regard for the reality and values others share, and the resulting unpredictability of their behavior or incapacity to comprehend what they express inspires an abject fear and revulsion in us.

What we fear
we lock away
to remould,
reeducate,

to hide away,
ultimately burn
at the stake,

buried in any one
of those waiting
graves

unless
they embrace the prescribed
flavor of faith.

Umbrellas for the Risen Apes.

Successfully adapting to our society is typically considered a sign of sanity in the minds of the masses, but can we really say this is true when there has been no no official and thorough psychological evaluation of our society?

Fuck your silly four horsemen. How many people are imprisoned? How many are on prescription medication due to a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, bipolar disorder or other such condition? How many kids have to kill other kids or their parents? How many people have to march into their place of employment (or previous place of employment) and open fire before it dawns on us that perhaps there are deeper issues here than their surface manifestations at first suggest?

In order to evolve we need collapse: has that truly become my attitude? Insane as I label the feeling intellectually, it remains: it’s going to all come tumbling down sooner rather than later, so buckle up. Our globalized culture is a memetic complex of epic proportions driving us around like zombie ants inspiring us to do crazy things like bomb countries, put more value in a dollar than a human, drain our natural resources, pollute the planet and vote for George W. Bush for two –count ’em: TWO — terms.

It gets worse, as I feel we somehow need this system down to build a better one from the ashes. One more adaptable to both our environment and ourselves. It would appear to me that the culture is increasingly maladaptive to those living it and not the other way around. That those labeled dysfunctional are symptoms of a diseased society.

Our social systems are destroying us as well as the planet. All that we have learned through psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, history: couldn’t we apply this to build better social systems, educational methods that actually work?

I mean, how inconsistent can we be? Everything else in our society has either announced expiration dates or are subject to planned and perceived obsolescence, and there is certainly no good reason at drawing the line where disposability ends here. Sure we have upgrades (in the form of laws and whatnot), but they’re slow in coming and riddled with viruses.

Evolution has been rather stunted in this area for some time, it seems to me. We don’t need an upgrade, we need a whole new social system. Alternative social systems have been suggested by Daniel Quinn and Jacque Fresco. Countless independent communities have and continue to experiment with various different ways of living and studying their successes, failures, extinctions as well as successful adaptations could provide a vital resource as well.

As much as I once thought I could get on board with Jacque Fresco and his Venus Project, closer study brought me to his underlying BF-Skinner-view on human beings, which ground my nerves a bit too fine.

Still, his basic ideas of a resource economy and automated labor through technology are ones I find hopeful. Here humankind would find greater individual freedom, health and meaning that it is supposed he had for 99% of our history when we were without such official systems and roamed about the great earth as foragers in nomadic and largely egalitarian bands. Technology enables us to automate as much of the labor as possible and pronouncing earth as owned equally by everyone in a Resource Economy.

I do think his basic assumption is correct: if resources are plentiful and available for everyone there would be no crime, no money, no scarcity, nothing like what we have come to accept as war. No official hierarchies would be required, no power structures, no government at all — and unlike our ancestral foraging bands we have the benefits of high technology at our disposal as well.

The concept of utopia is ludicrous, I feel fairly certain, however grand an ideal. That said, these central ideas of Fresco’s may indeed be capable of delivering its closest approximation of paradise within the bounds of possibility.

Possible, but not necessarily probable in my mind. Unless we find a new power source or start siphoning oil from some other rock in space like a cosmic mosquito, that insatiable black gold will run dry and we will live in a considerably more powered-down version of human society — akin perhaps to the mid-1800s, when it seems the pattern of oil exploitation began. If I remember correctly, this is precisely where Michio Kaku speculated human society would get kicked back to if ever stripped of electricity by an extraterrestrial EMP.

So how soon the last barrel runs dry coupled with how quickly we get our ass in gear would determine whether the kind of technologically-geared societal upgrade Fresco has in mind would have any hope of developing.

Michael Rupert is persuasive. It makes me fear that we would need to stabilize and reduce our population and that we would need to power down in order to survive.
We would also have to do it a good amount of time before the peak of oil production plants it’s flag, for afterward their may be a drastic drop right off the proverbial cliff. We would need to do this not just to reserve power but to both postpone and acclimate ourselves to the inevitable — brought to us by our very own insatiable consumption; brought upon ourselves as mammals living our collective lives as ravenous parasites.

If Rupert is right, though, collapse is right around the corner and there wouldn’t be time anyway. In that case, investing in preparation opposed to prevention is the wisest course of action. Evidently it is not merely oil, either. Jared Diamond spoke about several cultural “time bombs” set to go off, too.

It’s a question of which turd hits the fan first and when: then, well, it just doesn’t matter. Then it’s all just chocolate rain.

High Absorbency.

Oh, how they have explained me.

“Your brain is like a radio receiving all stations at once,” Dr. Napier once explained to me with enthusiasm. On another occasion, he explained me as “jet fuel without a container.” Finally, on still another occasion, he summed it up. “If I was forced to use one word to describe you,” he confessed, “it would be ‘intense.'”

In roughly the same manner, the psychologist I saw during college when the anxiety attacks amped up told me that a good word to describe me would be “sensitive,” but then offered another as well: “cerebral.”

Napier also referred to me as a “fantasy prone personality,” which I knew about generally but never once bothered, amidst all my Googling, to look up. So I finally did.

Evidently I am one of the roughly 4% of the population are said to be fantasy prone personalities. These highly hypnotizable “fantasizers” have creative and intense imaginations which leave them prone to hallucinations and “self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms” which can lead them to confuse imagination for reality. They may even have what is known as a paracosm: an elaborate fantasy world full of stable history and geography, populated by your choice of the conceivable. If as a child you had imaginary friends or an imaginary identity or if as a teenager onward have a vivid imagination you invest the majority of your time in, this may be you as well.

If you claim psychic abilities, have out of body experiences, see apparitions or are abducted by aliens: uh-oh. Red flag.

Closely associated with this is psychological absorbency. Absorption is essentially hypnosis (fixed attention with a reduction in periphery awareness) but rather than it being intentionally spawned by a hypnotist’s induction technique we are instead entranced through our sense of identification with the object of attention.

This is why we get absorbed in any story. You become “one” with the object of focus and react to its circumstances as if it were your own. Like the character you identify with in a book or movie or the character you play in an online role playing game. This is also found in our capacity for empathy with another. We forge a bond and nurture it until fusion; until what Campbell calls “the seizure” takes place and it all becomes indistinguishable from real.

We believe in, but can believe and back out again. People get absorbed in a book, movie or video game and snap back out of it. People explain how they fall in and out of love. We focus, concentrate, zoom in to experience a first-person perspective through absorption. We zoom out, push away, distance in a third-person perspective through use of dissociation.

Some of us get stuck in. Some are locked out.

Beneath Symptoms.

The ego is memory,
a capsule holding history,
just as a stone is moulded
by the violent waves
that fought it,
carried it here.

These waves
it is forced to ride still.

Realize you are the lingering
eye in your mind,
not the sea of whispers
or the picture shows.

Step out of character
to remember yourself.
Peer beneath the symptoms
you hide inside…

Of Two Worlds.

During the experiences written of in “Evolution of Intrusions” I retained my ability to distinguish the sensory from the imaginary. It was only that there were forces in my imagination that were out of my control, and that seemed to make the imaginal a different kind of real. If it stopped here maybe I would consider it be a product of extreme fantasy-proneness, but I have two memories of disturbing episodes that sound like a form of partial dissociation between host and alter.

The autonomy of my imagination may have repeated itself later in life, specifically after the flashbacks during high school, and this time in an abrupt and extreme fashion: the out of body experience.

It generally happens the same way every time. During a period of intense inner tension, a sudden exhaustion comes over me, an impulse to hit the sack, after which I’m out like a light for perhaps a moment before I reawaken into a paralyzed body. I slowly drift out of and descend from my physical body.

Translated into controversial psychology, the typical OBE involves depersonalization, or more specifically dissociation from the body. The world to which your body belongs remains the same. Your body is at a distance, but otherwise the same.

My OBEs went more than a few degrees further in distance and distortion, however, as they involved both depersonalization (bodily dissociation) and derealization (sensory dissociation). More specifically, my experiences comprised dissociation from both my body and sense perceptions (sleep paralysis), both of which were replaced with their respective compensatory sensory simulations.

Or I was locked out of my body and left to find an immaterial monster in another reality, which is certainly what it felt like.

In the initial experiences, when I was still stuck in a state of heightened awareness and high tension, the experiences were at their most fantastic: the objects themselves required no external light source, but were self-luminescent. Later I caught on that there seemed to be a correspondence between the degree of my conscious attention and the clarity of either the dreamscape around me or my non-corporeal extrasensory perceptions of an alternate reality.

When I awoke from these experiences, I tried to immediately write down the details before the memory faded. The episodes of exhaustion can provide fair enough warning for me to note the time, too, and when I have done so and checked the time after I have found that rarely so much as a half an hour has passed, despite how long it seemed in mind-space. This was the reverse of missing time.

Often I am extremely thirsty afterward, too, and feeling brain strain. My physical body does not seem to move on the numerous occasions I’ve paid close attention.

It seems most likely to me that these alternate realities I experienced in my OBEs were simulated sensory representations of implicit memories.

On the whole, implicit memories are cumulative patterns of structure and association established by exposure to intense and/or redundant patterns of stimuli. This is why we can execute all the motions at a job with the most meager amount of attention: in implicit memory we have our behaviors preprogrammed. This why we can drive to work or walk around a room in the dark, too: in implicit memory we have our “mental maps” of familiar, external territory.

By nature, however, implicit memories would provide the structure but not the explicit substance for experience.

How I found myself referring to these environments as “abstract planes” and “alternate realities” confused me at the time, though it now makes sense to me in retrospect when I think of it in terms of abstract art. This is essentially art that depicts varying degrees of dissociation from the visual field and the expressive filler formed from the noise.

The products could be interpreted as “nonobjective abstractions” of my explicit, episodic memory. They would be sensory simulations based on, though not imitations of, my familiar sensory experience. Hence my arrival in environments based on places familiar to me from my life with varying degrees of artistic license.

It is no mistake that I often initially “awoke” in an alternate version of my bedroom, either, as my bedroom was where implicit memory would place me most recently in the waking state. The other environments were either common ones or altered renditions of environments in which my “alien-related” memories had occurred. These realities were full-sensory and three-dimensional, and entirely void of any sign for a living population save for myself — and, of course, the
enemy I came to face during my very first experience.

Prayer as Nagging (a Bitter Atheist Rant).

Monotheism seems to be all about an invisible cosmic parent, typically a father figure. We are supposed to fear yet love this god, to have faith — and yet pray?

Yes, sometimes people pray to offer appreciation, but perhaps this is like routinely approaching a celebrity and breaking down about how much this movie they were in changed their lives, how deeply connected they feel to them, how much they worship the ground they walk on and that they, of course, are their “number one fan.”

Think about it. It’s stalker level shit, really, or at the very least the divine equivalent to the music scene’s band-whores and fanboys. Some of them, though, would constitute Kathy Bates in Stephen King’s Misery kind of creepy.

Even when prayer is about wild, over-the-top and chronic thanks, it often amounts to a manipulative strategy soon enough. It’s revealed to just be an opener.

The primary function of prayer is to serve as the means by which a devotee of a given deity can telepathically transmit their personal or group requests into the cosmic suggestion box, or so I have gathered. To add insult to absurdity, there is the act of praying to a god that allegedly knows everything there is to know anyway, and to whom you could presumably offer nothing.

Given this, would one not just be nagging the poor bastard like a child to a parent at the checkout counter?

“Mommy, mommy, mommy, can I have that candy bar? Please? Pretty please?”

Is the worshiper to the worshipee as the bill collectors calling me at work are to me? Is this all about annoying their god into compliance where snail-mail fear tactics have failed?

Conversations with believers often end (at least in my case) with the words, “I’ll pray for you.”

A message for they who would pray for little old me:

When you pray, offer a suggestion other than my soul be spared or whatever. Ask this. If we can’t get our expiration date at birth, can we at least get an eviction notice prior to last breath? Offer that one for me.

After all, even death row inmates get forewarning — hell, they get a last dinner like a little death-day present. They can say their goodbyes, gather their thoughts, plan ahead what they want to think about the moment they pull the lever down and it happens in the gas chamber, the electric chair, before the firing squad or, if they’re going old school on you, the guillotine.

The exact ending part sucks, granted, but as for the advanced warning? Everyone should have it so nice. DABADA cannot be easy, but it seems far better than “What the — ?” of a fly before he hits the windshield, you know? That could fuck up a person for incarnations.

Sandcastles.

Why
this ominous sense
of a deadline, like I can feel
the clock winding down?
Why this impulse
to act without a reason,
the pull to prepare
without knowing how,
without the sight
necessary to enlighten me
as to why?

Every step,
like building a sandcastle
on the shore despite
the tsunami rising,
approaching from the horizon,
like patiently waiting for a storm
without shelter.

Binah.

In the sunshine of the mind, bathed in the warmth of our awareness, we all know of things we know we know and things we know we don’t know.

Some of what we know we don’t know may simply be uninteresting to us, other things may frighten the fuck out of us, but we have, in the very least, awareness of our ignorance, and that now constitutes a hole we are compelled to fill with knowledge. Knowledge is power, after all — even knowledge of our lack thereof.

Sheer terror often comes with the reminder that there is a twin-shadow side, however. Moonshine of the mind, if you like. Drunk with wonder, drunk with terror.

The first shadow is that which we know but do not know that we know. Despite the fact that psychology offers the umbrella terms “implicit memory” and “dissociation” for this form of knowledge and that it is a necessary form of knowledge for living creatures, the unknown-knowns never seem to be mentioned with the other four. It is unknown-knowns that call for self-inventory in order to enhance self-knowledge and inspire self-awareness. It is the old “Know Thyself.”

Beyond the unknown-knowns we find the the frigid winds of the unknown-unknowns: that which we don’t even know we don’t know. It is, above all, the most frightening. Not that there are things (most things, we can safely assume) we don’t know, but that we don’t even consider the fact that we don’t know them for lack of awareness of our lack of knowledge.

Rather than mere blinders, we are in addition blinded to their very presence, and what can’t be seen to exist is presumed to not exist. If one cannot see that they cannot see, then there is little impetus to assume its existence let alone strive to see it.

That’s why though I fear what the answers may be in some cases, I need to know those answers regardless, perhaps even more so as a consequence. It’s not that I like a question, but that I need it answered so I can move beyond it.

I operate on the assumption that there will always be more to seek, more to discover and, though they are frequently less than pretty, there are always surprises around the corner to add twists to the narrative, to offer opportunities for ever-greater understanding.

Mounds of ANTs.

When I recently began researching automatic negative thoughts, I found the suggestions that these ANTs caused moods and emotions counterintuitive, as it had always seemed to me that emotions precede and influence thought. The literature on ANTs suggested that the exact opposite takes place as well.

We can experience sudden shifts of mood due to either our emotional reactions to sensory stimuli or as a consequence of our emotional reactions to thoughts. Self-reinforcing mechanisms within mood such as mood-dependent and mood-congruent memories and perceptions provide fertile ground for ANTs that, through their influence on the conscious individual, successfully generate a recurrent feedback loop of positive reinforcement that not only sustains the mood/state but intensifies it.

We get angry that we’re getting angry, perhaps, or we fear the sensations of anxiety, thereby reinforcing the anxiety and spawning a recurring feedback loop that swiftly spirals out of control and sends us into total fucking panic. All due to pesky ANTs building an emotional mound in the mood they call home.

Remember Myself, Know Myself.

Need a place,
my own sacred space,
where everything
but me is irrelevant.

Boundaries
have thinned,
they are all bleeding in
through the walls
that keep me safe.

Their unintentional oppression
inspires my need to flee

just to breathe,
find my center again,
inner alchemy aided my pen,
where I can proceed
to bleed out inspiration
and insight
they have fed me,
digest the offerings
I have swallowed whole,
weave it into the fabric
of my understanding
with a deep consideration
well-earned.

I have to understand
as much as I can
about all of this
but I can never hope
to gain higher ground,
never hope to find
a way to make a difference

if I cannot
remember myself,
know myself.