To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the blog

Hello.  Good morning.  Thursday.  Blog post.  You know the drill.  Or at least, you get the idea.

I don’t really have much to say or report.  I did a quick, off-the-cuff post on Tuesday about a subject that has been frustrating me more and more (the relief for which I am less and less suspicious will ever arrive, for me at least), but I don’t know that I have anything to add to it.  If anything occurs to me, and I have the energy to try to convey it, then that’s what I’ll try to do.

I’ve stalled out on reading the last 14 pages of Outlaw’s Mind so far, after having read up to that point by Monday or Tuesday.  This is after having optimistically* taken paper and a clipboard home over the weekend hoping** I’d make short work of finishing the reread and then getting on with writing.  I like the story, and I know where I want it to go and, as they say, the rest is just scratching and scribbling.  Instead, I did essentially nothing at all this weekend—apart from throwing away a bunch of the things I own because I can’t see any point in having them and they were just annoying; and preparing some other things to bring in to give “to the office” so to speak.

I wish I could say that the weekend of doing nothing was at least restful, but if anything, I felt more tired after it than I did at the beginning, not that I expect I would have felt less tired if I’d worked all weekend or anything in between.  The last time I remember waking up feeling rested was sometime in the mid-nineties (which, I just realized, is half of my life ago).  If anything, I tend to feel worse early in the day, but I wake up very early whether I feel rested or not***, so it’s quite frustrating.

Basically, I’m just tired, and getting more so (or so it seems to me) as the future becomes the present and then the past.  And I’m alone.  It’s hard to see this becoming gradually more so as time passes quite in the same way tiredness does, but I feel more alone all the time—ever more like an alien or a changeling who really doesn’t belong here, nor has any purpose here, and who has no realm or planet to which to return.  No respite appears available, and more and more, the only viable escape seems like oblivion—which would not be a relief, obviously, since relief is a state of mind and oblivion is the lack of any states of mind, but it would at least mean cessation.

There’s a moving episode in the 5th season of modern Doctor Who called “Vincent and the Doctor” in which the Doctor meets Vincent Van Gogh, and after they defeat an alien together (of course), the Doctor brings poor Vincent to a future museum so he can see and learn that he would eventually become a beloved, respected, nearly worshipped artist, one of the greatest of all time.  It may sound silly, and in a sense, it is, but it’s actually very moving—well-written, superbly acted, beautifully filmed and directed, and if your eyes are dry after the scene with Vincent in the museum, I don’t know what to think of you.

But of course, the saddest part is that, on returning him home, and then coming back to the “present”, the Doctor (and Amy Pond) discover, not to the Doctor’s surprise, that Vincent still killed himself, only a few weeks or months after their meeting, just as always.  The Doctor makes a lovely, and I think insightful, little “speech” about how the good things in life can’t necessarily correct or eliminate the bad things, but that the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things.  Vincent was still ill with whatever mood disorder and possible “neuro-divergence****” he’d always had in his own time; that hadn’t changed.

Still, it would be nice to imagine Van Gogh having been shown just how revered and admired his work would one day be, albeit not within his lifetime.  In the real world, he never had so much as a hint or probably even much of a fantasy that such a thing might happen.  It would be nice for any artist, or anyone, really, to learn that his (or her) work and life deeds had been important, and to see some of the ways in which it was so.  But it wouldn’t change much in the here and now…and it’s always now.

And sometimes “now” seems to go on forever and it can be so, so very exhausting.

I wish I could rest until I felt rested, and if that’s impossible, then just keep resting.  Making one’s quietus with a bare bodkin is an intimidating prospect with a comparatively high wall of activation energy.  But the wall is not constant, and at certain times, in certain states, in certain circumstances, the barrier becomes lower, and it may then be surmounted.


to sleep

*I know, what the hell was going on in my head that I would be optimistic about such things?

**Hope is always foolish.

***Which I guess should go without saying, since I just said I haven’t felt rested after a night’s sleep, or anything else, since the mid-nineties.  Duh.

****He only too clearly didn’t see and experience the world quite the same way anyone else did or does.

Please don’t expect (or tell) people who really NEED help to help themselves. It’s stupid.

This is just a brief post expressing a pet peeve of mine that applies (and has done so often and at length) to me personally.

I’ve encountered this issue anew, eliciting ever-increasing tension, stress, anger, irritation, despair, etc., in my research into Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder, as people “on the spectrum” are quite often plagued by anxiety and depression, among other things, including frequent suicidal ideation…and of course, much well-intended advice is given (it being the worst and most prevalent of all vices).

The issue involves people* making suggestions such as, for instance, that those who are troubled by depression should exercise regularly, because regular exercise often seems to help depression**; or that they should talk to close friends or family members (a particular problem with “Aspies”, or so it seems to me, since communication difficulty, particularly of emotions and the like, is a major part of the condition); and that, if one is severely depressed and self-loathing and having suicidal thoughts (or intentions), one should seek help right away.

Or similar sentiments.

This all feels so condescending and simple-minded and contradictory.  It’s a bit like telling an actively drowning person that getting swimming lessons would be really good for helping them not drown, or that being helped by a friendly dolphin (or any kindly member of some other strong-swimming aquatic species unrelated to the drowner) would be quite beneficial for them, or that they should really come quickly to shore and grab a flotation device before they drown.

It’s missing the point(s) entirely.

If one could exercise regularly, one would already obviously not be THAT depressed.

If one could easily talk to people (especially if one is on “the spectrum”***) and had people to whom one felt one could talk in a relevant way about the relevant subject(s), then that would be an obvious thing, and probably already done.

And if one is feeling utter despair and profound, demonic self-loathing, then availing oneself of help of any kind–including life-saving help–seems not only impossible but frankly immoral.

You don’t do your best to give succor to or save the life of someone who is utterly reprehensible and an unadulterated malefactor who has no chance for reform or to be redeemed, right?  Would you save the likes of the next Hitler or Stalin or Charles Manson or Mark David Chapman?

If someone is lying on the ground having a heart attack or a stroke or has just been hit by a car, we don’t advise them to get up and get themselves to a hospital, do we?  It’s absurd.  It’s insulting.  It’s irritating and it’s idiotic, and it makes the world and the rest of humanity seem even less worth sticking around for****.

I wish people would stop it.  When someone really needs help, it’s means they can’t survive and/or thrive by their own actions.  Thus the metaphor “in over one’s head”.

I’ll close with an a related cartoon that captures more than one aspect of my (not quite domesticated) peeve (apologies, I do not know whom to credit for it):

drowning in depression

* Well-meaning, one must admit or at least assume.

**I have my own suspicions about the direction of causality here.

***Especially if alexithymia is one of their afflictions.  I myself score 157 out of 185 on the online test of this, such as it is.  I have a hard time even knowing what I’m feeling at any given moment, let alone communicating it clearly.

****It can even make it seem tolerable to end a sentence with a preposition, or to allow sentence fragments to stand alone on a line of type for dramatic effect.

Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may blog the fool no where but in’s own house.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday again.  I thought for a moment that it was 1/12/2022, but that was yesterday.  I liked it because it was a date full of 2s (even though there were 1s, there were 2 of them, so that added to a 2 in my book) and of course, today is the second Thursday of the year and of the month, and thus this is my second blog post of the year.  It would have been nice to have that match up, but alas, it was not to be.

Tuesday was an interesting date if you write it in a European order:  11/01/2022.  It’s an almost palindrome, but with the right side of the mirror having doubled the values on the left side.  This makes me imagine some quantum mechanical system or some higher-dimensional theory in which there are two versions of certain particles or forces, but with all things reflected in some variant of CPT, with one always having some quantity twice that of the other.  I have no idea if this could apply to anything in reality.  Maybe it’ll explain the whole neutrino question, or the muon anomaly, or the nature of dark matter or dark energy.

I highly doubt it.

I forgot to mention last week that I had done a sort of video* of me playing American Pie (and singing) and had posted it on YouTube.  Here it is.

I don’t quite like how the audio turned out (except at the end).  I was trying to combine multiple simultaneous recording sources, and that was a nice idea, but I ended up doing the mixing and reverb in a way that doesn’t sound ideal.  It also creates the illusion that I actually miss an occasional note while singing, and we all know that cannot be accurate**.

I bring this up because yesterday I did another “sort of” video (see previous footnote), but I did a better job with the multiple sound inputs and the reverb and so on, so that audio came out better.  We live and learn, I suppose.

Here’s the other video, of me playing and singing Hallelujah, and I think you’ll agree the sound here is better.  Try not to look at me, at least if you have food in your stomach.

I don’t like to be a “Like and Share” whore, particularly since I wrote a song with that very title in a rather disapproving tone (though it was not so much about liking and sharing per se as the psychologically damaging culture associated with living by one’s “likes”).  Nevertheless, I do ask if you like those videos you might “Like” them, as with this blog.  This is purely to boost my self-esteem, which should be an easy enough task; there’s way more room to go up than down.  Also, if you want to subscribe, certainly feel free to do so, and of course, I welcome comments.  If you want to support my work financially, though, I have no Patreon or Cup of Joe*** set up, but you can always buy my books/stories.  The Kindle editions are not expensive.  Or tell your friends about them, if they like fantasy/sci-fi/horror.

Speaking of books/stories…

I’m nearly done with my reread of Outlaw’s Mind so far and should soon be back to writing more of it.  I’m enjoying the reread, and that should hopefully help my enthusiasm.  The good thing about working on what had started as a short story but has morphed into a novel is that it will probably be a reasonably short novel, which is a novel thing for me.  Ha ha.  It will have significant tie-ins to my eventual novel Changeling in a Shadow World, which may end up being a series or at least a multi-volume story.  As I think I’ve mentioned previously, that series will have at least a peripheral connection to The Chasm and the Collision, though no characters from CatC will appear in it.

In general, all my works appear within the same Omniverse****, not just because they’re all written by me, and its components can sometimes interact with each other.  In fact, those who are paying attention will notice that Hole for a Heart and Unanimity are literally in the same world, with the latter taking places slightly earlier than the former.  Don’t believe me?  Just read.

Inspired by a few YouTube videos, I bought two fiction books this week.  The first was Revival by Stephen King, which I’d avoided as not seeming like my kind of story.  But a video reviewer rating his favorite books described it briefly (without spoilers) and made me realize that it might be just my kind of Stephen King book after all.  I’ve already finished it*****, and it was quite good—above-average King.

I had mentioned and recommended another book that I’d read a while back to someone at work, as being very unusual, quite creepy, and rather disturbing.  Then, that very lunchtime, as I watched the Stephen King review video, the YouTube algorithm posted a video about that very book.  This isn’t as weird a coincidence as one might think, because I had been following similar videos about similar books.  The book is House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski, and with this reinforcement, I ordered a physical copy, and have already started reading it.  It’s as good, and as weird, as I remember.

By the way, the video I saw was titled, “Is House of Leaves the scariest story ever?”.  My answer is, “No,” but it is scary at many points, and it is disturbing (not in a gross or gory way, but in the sense of giving the reader the urge to quote the 12th Doctor in saying, “Three-dimensional Euclidean geometry has been torn up, thrown in the air, and snogged to death!  My grasp of the universal constants of physical reality has been changed…forever.”), and it does leave one feeling “What the Hell?” quite often, but in a good way (if you like horror).

That’s about it for now.  I expect to restart work on Outlaw’s Mind as early as this weekend, if I can summon the discipline and drive.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all well and enjoying your new year.  I’ll leave you with the very pleasing news that 2/22/2022 is a Tuesday.  How cool is that?


house of leaves

This is a sample of the interior of the book House of Leaves

*By “sort of”, I don’t mean that it’s not really a video.  It’s clearly a video.  But the video portion is not worth any attention.

**This is sarcasm, of the self-derogatory sort.  I hadn’t tried playing and singing that whole song in one go before, so I’ll cut myself a tiny amount of slack, but not much.

***Or whatever that thing is.

****My original term was Metaverse, then Mark Fuckerberg stole the term, even though I’d thought of it at least a decade before Facebook even existed.  I could still use it, of course, but it’s tainted now.  Anyway, Omniverse is probably better, I just need to get used to it.

*****My first new fiction read in quite some time.

And these external manners of lament are merely shadows to the unseen grief that blogs with silence in the tortured soul.

Hello, good morning, and again, Happy New Year.  It’s Thursday‒the first one in 2022‒and so it’s time for my first blog post of the year.

There’s really not much to report this week.  The pandemic continues‒and when I say this, I’m referring both to the literal one and to the pandemic of human stupidity.  The latter seems unassailable even in the face of the deaths of millions of people, more or less at random, due to an infectious disease against which science (and those who use it) has been providing astonishing and unprecedented weapons which many more millions (particularly in the US, it seems) eschew because of numerous examples of misguided, often magical-thinking nonsense fueled by that bane of QI contestants: General Ignorance.

The thing about ignorance in the modern age, especially in America, is that it’s frequently willful ignorance.  There’s no shame in being ignorant, per se.  There exist an infinite number of facts about which we all are and always will remain ignorant.  But, to use a perhaps tired metaphor, though the ocean of ignorance is endless, it is possible for us to expand the island of our personal and collective knowledge.

Lately, however, it feels as though most people in America would rather drown.  If this were a literal urge, I could sympathize with them*.  Unfortunately, it’s merely figurative and unrecognized, and it leads to appalling facts such as that the per capita number of deaths from Covid-19 in the US is more than three times the global per capita deaths number**.  This in a country that likes to imagine itself the greatest nation the world has ever known.  Unfortunately, although aspirational greatness‒the desire and the will to be and to achieve great things‒can motivate actual improvement, and sometimes even greatness, unfortunately, once you decide you just are great, without having to do any more personally to earn or maintain the designation, you’re at serious risk of going the way of the Roman Empire and countless other such self-satisfied civilizations.

Oh, well.  These things happen.

I have continued rereading Outlaw’s Mind as it is so far, but I’m not finished and so haven’t yet started writing anything new on it again.  It’s a good story, I think, and I enjoy reading it, but then again, I wrote it.  Who knows if anyone else will ever read it?  Much of the time‒a growing fraction thereof, in fact‒I don’t hope to live to complete it.  To be honest, I often didn’t hope to live to see 2022.  But here it is.

Oh, well.  These things, as I said, do happen.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the Bystander Effect, partly because of a book I recently read‒Rationality, by Steven Pinker‒and partly because of personal reflection.  For those unfamiliar, the Bystander Effect is that circumstance in which a person is ill or injured, or being attacked, or something along those lines, and there are many people around them who could, in principle, help them…and no one intervenes because of the diffusion of responsibility, though if there were merely one or two people nearby, they would likely do something.

The Internet and the Worldwide Web seem to be “places” where a person could surely, if they needed help, reach some person, somewhere, who could and would help them.  But it is, ironically, home to possibly the greatest instantiation of the Bystander Effect ever seen, for each individual knows that there are, potentially, millions of other bystanders, and what’s more, they are all effectively anonymous each to all or nearly all the others.  It’s a place where a person can be truly, abysmally alone despite being in the largest crowd that has ever existed.  It’s the ultimate example of somewhere one can shout, or even scream, at the top of one’s figurative lungs, all while surrounded by countless other people, and yet, no one seems to hear.

What’s the difference between billions of voices all talking without speaking and hearing without listening, and silence?  Silence is at least peaceful.

Where, oh where is Sailor Saturn when you need her?  Oh, yeah, right, she’s in a fictional universe.  What a pity.  Well, they say when you want something done to your satisfaction, you should do it yourself.

Anyway, let’s hope this coming year regresses to the mean a bit, assuming we’re measuring our mean of year quality using the last decade and a half (or better yet the Nineties).  Of course, taking in the whole span of human existence, during most of which life was proverbially nasty, brutish, and short, the overall mean quality of years is probably way below even this pandemic year.  So, maybe what’s happening now is not an outlier in the negative direction which general tendencies will tend to correct back upward, but rather this is the correction, and the progress of civilization has been the extraordinary, truly aberrant, outlier.  Maybe our success is not truly a sign of any real progress within human and civilizational character, and unless improvement is deliberately, persistently, and intelligently and rationally pursued, regression to the mean will happen.

The cosmic mean, by the way, is about six protons per cubic meter***, at a temperature of only roughly 2.7 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero, and it’s getting colder and less dense every instant, approaching absolute zero asymptotically.  It’s cold****, and it’s lonely*****, but at least it’s peaceful…and it’s silent.


mouthless emoji

*And the deep ocean is a good place to be buried, all other things being equal, since it makes for an excellent carbon sink, especially if you’re interred near a subduction zone.

**Based on the best numbers available to me.

***Which is about the atomic mass of lithium, interestingly enough.  Unfortunately, even if it were all, actually lithium, which is not the case, there wouldn’t be enough nearby to treat your bipolar disorder before you asphyxiate.

****But it probably wouldn’t feel very cold, because there’s no direct conduction of heat away from a warm surface like a human body.  Space is an excellent insulator; all your heat would only gradually be lost by radiation, contrary to what one sees in some movies when people like the Ebony Maw get sucked into space through holes in spaceship hulls.

*****But at least it’s not ironically lonely, like the “alone in a crowd” situation.

O heaven! that one might read the blog of fate, and see the revolution of the times.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so—as inevitable as death or at least as inevitable as taxes—it’s time for my weekly blog post.  This will be the last blog post of 2021 AD, a year many of us will not be sad to see the back of.  Indeed, you can see that I feel so strongly about this that I’m even willing to end a sentence with a preposition.

New Year happy

It’s New Year’s Eve eve today, if you will, though there is no such official holiday.  It’s not even an informal one like Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween*, itself an “Eve” holiday, though that’s often forgotten—and rightly so in my opinion, since Halloween is much more fun than most other holidays and certainly far more widely celebrated than All Hallows Day.

There’s nothing inherently special about New Year’s Day (or Eve).  It’s an arbitrarily chosen time for us to restart our calendar year because we have to do it some time.  It’s not like the solstice- and equinox-based celebrations I’ve discussed before, which have legitimate, astronomical bases and are objectively interesting moments in the Earth’s orbit.

New Year doesn’t even always happen at the same place in the planet’s orbit.  It can’t.  For one thing, it’s celebrated hourly for 24 hours over the course of that day, depending upon when midnight arrives in a given time zone.  This is a perfectly reasonable way to do things, of course, but it means that the holiday itself is smeared out along the planet’s orbital path even on a given year.  And, of course, since the orbital length is not an integer number of days**, the celebration of New Years smears out in another way over the course of time, to jump back a day every fourth year, but not on years that are multiples of a hundred, except YES on years that are multiples of four hundred (I think that was it), and so on with all the corrections used by the modernized Gregorian Calendar to try to keep the year reasonably aligned with the seasons and with the solstices and equinoxes mentioned above.

All of which is, of course, quite fascinating from a scientific and cultural point of view, but really, the holiday is about a chance for renewal, a symbolic rebirth or at least a new beginning, like starting a new iteration of a game, with the scoreboard is set back to zero, so it’s possible for anyone to win by the end.

I don’t know where people get these ideas.

Of course, we cannot literally start over, nor would most of us want to if we could, since almost everyone has made at least some progress that they wouldn’t care just to throw away.  Much of our identity in any given moment is dependent upon our memory of the past.  But it can be useful, and sometimes heartening, to embrace the notion of a restart point for at least some things in our lives, such as diet and exercise and other difficult habit-based situations.

I have been embracing something like that notion in that I’ve been rereading what I’d written so far of Outlaw’s Mind, to try to get back into the flow of the story.  The process has been slow, since I haven’t been reading very much every day—I’ve been very tired mentally and emotionally, and even physically, and just in general very discouraged.  I’ve not really been looking forward to even seeing the new year arrive, to be honest.  I have no good reason to think that it will entail anything other than continuing mental, social, physical, and emotional disintegration, which have been the hallmarks of my last nine or ten years at least, and have accelerated recently.

Still, I have been reading the story, without doing any editing, and I do enjoy it.  I usually enjoy reading my stories.  That makes one person.  So, I think it will be a useful exercise and will help me then to move forward with the story thereafter.  I’m feeling tempted again to try to write it out longhand when the time comes.  I have some lovely high-quality notebook paper to use for that now if I have the nerve.

I haven’t been thinking much about Changeling in a Shadow World this week, but that’s fine.  There’s only so much one can do prior to starting to write the thing, and I’m not going to start that before Outlaw’s Mind is done.  I had a couple of fun and rather silly ideas for short stories in the last week, which I jotted into the notebook app on my phone.  They are technically horror story ideas, but one at least is a sort of crude, dark-comedy type horror story idea.  I don’t know if I’ll ever write it, but it’s a fun notion, and involves a mutated and/or genetically engineered form of gonorrhea, among other things.  The other is a bit less sophomoric in character, but it’s quite a bit darker, too, at least in philosophical implications.  If those ever happen, you’ll be welcome to read them.

In the meantime, despite my apparent cynicism, I do in fact wish you all a very Happy New Year, both in terms of your celebration thereof, which I hope you’ll share with your beloved families and friends to the degree that you can do so safely, as well as in terms of the upcoming year.  I won’t quote John Lennon*** and say, “It can’t get no worse”, since it can always get worse, but I will say that, given human drive and persistence, and the fact that, contrary to some appearances, a great many very smart and disciplined and optimistic people are working to improve things at all levels, there are at least good odds that a lot of things are going to improve in the upcoming year.

It’s not something to take for granted, since it will always be easier to destroy than to create, but those smart, creative optimists are pretty frikking impressive sometimes.  The James Webb telescope is out there now, in its position in the Lagrange point, and it’s steadily working toward eventually giving us the deepest, most amazing views of the cosmos we’ve yet had.  And there’s nothing arbitrary about that.


New Year

*Celebrated by some people in the region in which I grew up by setting random fires.

**Not a whole number of days, I guess, would be more precise.  An integer number might imply that it would be possible for an orbit to last a negative number of days, there being as many negative integers as positive ones, and it’s hard to see how that would make any sense at all.  I suppose one might imagine a science fiction story—perhaps involving The Doctor—in which a planet’s orbit around its sun carries its inhabitants backward in time instead of forward.  For them, the End of the World would indeed be predictable—the birth of their solar system and ultimately of the universe itself.

***In his backup lyric from the song It’s Getting Better All the Time.

Heaven give you many, many merry blogs.

tardis with wreathHello, good morning, and welcome to Thursday, and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  It seems I’m still here so far, for better or for worse, and I’m writing a blog post this week.  I expect it to be relatively short, at least for me, though I’ve been wrong in that expectation before.

I haven’t written anything new still this week on Outlaw’s Mind, but I thought I would try to get myself more inspired to write it by rereading what I’ve written it so far, which I hadn’t done before restarting it after finishing Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities.  So, I saved it as a PDF file* and sent it to myself both at home and at work.  I’ve begun rereading it, and I think this will help, because I’m enjoying the story so far and kind of refamiliarizing myself with the events therein.  Hopefully it will make a difference.  If it doesn’t, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I’m really having difficulty summoning the will to do much, and I don’t know how to counter it—I’m already taking the best dose of the combination of depression treatments that’s worked best for me in the past, and I’ve tried most at one time or another.

I did write a little impromptu blog post on Iterations of Zero about the Solstice, which you can read if you’re interested, though it will be a few days late.

It’s a tad late for them to arrive before Christmas, I suppose—except for Kindle editions—but if there are any avid readers in your list of present-recipients, I’d like to offer or suggest that you might want to give or send them a copy of one or more of my books.  If they like fantasy/sci-fi/horror, they might enjoy at least some of my stuff.  Here’s my blog page, “My Books”, and here’s the blog search of My Books, if you’d rather look at something like that.  And below is a screenshot, with link, to my Amazon author’s page, if you’d rather just look there.

authors page capture

The picture of me associated with that page is basically the same photo that’s here on this blog.  It’s ten years old, roughly, but I don’t think I’m going to update it.  I’ve “aged” (in appearance, anyway) far more than ten years’ worth in the interregnum.

I guess that shouldn’t be surprising.  In that time, I spent a few years in Florida State Prison, and this is a place that even Stephen King has referenced in at least one of his stories**.  That’s not the only thing that’s worn me down, obviously, but it was not minor, nor have been the consequences on my subsequent life of having been there, and of the fact of having been sent there.  I don’t recommend it.  The Florida DOC prides itself on not being any kinder than they are required to be by law; they boast*** on their website about their lack of air conditioning, for instance.  Their philosophy, and the entire attitude of Florida criminal law, is explicitly not about rehabilitation but about retribution.

This is not to indict every person who works in the organization.  There are many whose motivations are honorable, who want to do the best they can both for society and for those in the system, and this includes administrators, correction officers, educators, healthcare personnel, and so on.  Of course, there are also plenty of assholes, but that probably is no surprise.

Enough of that subject.  It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow and Christmas on Saturday.  I hope all of you who celebrate, either directly or indirectly, have a wonderful time.  If you’re able, spend time with the people you love the most, and with those who love you.  Be forgiving, and patient, and give them all the benefit of every doubt, even if they don’t return the favor.  Don’t take them for granted.  Remember, “Every Christmas is the last Christmas for somebody.”  Why be anything but kind in the meantime?

That’s a rhetorical question; I’m not inviting any suggested reasons.  I have a hard enough time being positive as it is.

Anyway, again, have fun, eat well, laugh hard, play games, sing songs, watch TV and movies, love your friends and family****, and above all, be kind.


santa who

*To avoid the urge to edit it while I reread it.

**The one that comes to mind is in his excellent, chilling, pseudo-sci-fi short story The Jaunt, which I first read in the collection Skeleton Crew.  I recommend both the story and the collection.  Actually, it’s hard to go too wrong with any of King’s short story collections!

***They used to, anyway.  I haven’t checked lately.

****“Because love, it’s not an emotion; love is a promise.”

I can’t think of a good title for this post, but look at the picture and use your imagination

It’s Friday of my first week in a very long time without working at all on my fiction writing.  I guess I’ll round the week out with one more non-fiction bit of blogging, not that I have much new to say.  But we’ll see.  Maybe I’ll say something that’s useful.  Probably not.

Those who don’t live inside my head* won’t know this very clearly, but the fact that I haven’t written any fiction this week is a truly grave fact.  It’s been many years since I’ve gone this long without writing fiction.  Even when I was in prison, I wrote every weekday, right after lights on (which happened at about 3 to 3:30 in the morning), about three to four handwritten pages every day.  And after prison I continued that.  When I didn’t have a portable laptop to use on my then three-bus trip to work in the morning, I actually wrote quite a bit on my tiny little, fifty-dollar smartphone.  That’s how a goodly chunk of Son of Man was written.  I’ve continued some version of that (writing or editing, anyway) basically every weekday when I wasn’t frankly, physically ill since then…up until this week.

I took my miniature laptop home last night thinking maybe I would take the train in to work today and use that time and that setting to try to recapture some feel and the impetus to write on the way, but I couldn’t be bothered to take the train in the end, and if I had, I don’t think I would have written any fiction.

This is not about writer’s block.  I have story ideas and plans and all that; I know where the stories are to go, I know the characters, I know the universes, it’s all up there but for the scratching and scribbling, scribbling and scratching.  This is about “living block” if you will**.

As anyone who follows (and actually reads) my blog regularly, here and/or on Iterations of Zero, knows, I am troubled with chronic depression/dysthymia, and I have been for basically my entire post-pubescent life, though it’s become more common and more persistent over time.  It gets worse at this time of year, even all other things being equal, partly because the days are getting “shorter”***.

Then one can add in the fact that it’s holiday time (Hanukkah is already over, Christmas and New Years are imminent).  I haven’t seen my kids for over eight years, and I don’t expect that I’m ever going to see them again.  And I’m down here in the distal portion of America’s Dong****, like one bacterium in a syphilis chancre…though Treponema pallidum are more community spirited and possibly more intelligent than many Floridians, particularly the government and the courts and the law enforcement community.  They’re certainly better organisms than I am.

And I don’t remember how to make or maintain friendships.  I’m not sure I ever knew.  I think friendships just happened when I was in school and university because I was just there with other people who were also there, and they were good people, and they were okay with my weirdnesses, and we got along well and so they became my friends, because that’s the kind of people they were.  Are.  They were and are all far better than I have ever deserved, certainly.

I’m many hundreds of miles away from my siblings, and from everyone I was ever really able to connect with and be close with, with the exception of my ex-wife and my kids, but again, they are doing their own things, and I don’t ever see them.  My son won’t communicate with me at all, not in any way.  I can’t blame him; I’ve been a very disappointing father.  I do some texting with my daughter, and she’s great, she’s the greatest, but she’s in college now and I have no interest in burdening her in any way.

I can’t practice medicine anymore.

I’m in chronic pain for about the last nineteen years or so, literally every day, every waking minute.  I’ve had tinnitus in my right ear for the last fifteen plus years, roughly.  That’s mainly just annoying, but it means I can’t really take advantage of stereo production stuff for music, because I can only really hear on one side, so anything I record and mix basically sounds mono.

My brain really doesn’t work quite “right”.  I don’t think it ever has, probably, it turns out.

I really want to scream and cry for help, honestly…and not just helpful and supportive words or whatever, however kindly and honestly and generously they are meant, but serious help, like medical emergency kind of help.  But I hate myself too much, and I don’t know how to express myself properly, in any case.  (It’s like the lines from the Radiohead song Street Spirit (Fade Out):  “This machine will…will not communicate these thoughts and the strain I am under.”)  I also don’t even know what I would need, what would be helpful, what would be useful, if anything.

I had signed up for online therapy through BetterHelp, or whatever it’s called, but then my therapist had to go on maternity leave.  And I don’t frankly have the will to try to start again with someone else.  I barely had the will to start in the first place, and I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been trying to find out about the possibility that I have undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome*****.  I didn’t get any real help with that, though.  But based on testing of various kinds that I’ve done, my professional opinion is that I do.  But I’m potentially confounded by bias, so who knows?  Maybe I’m just crazy.

My living situation has recently, rather abruptly, changed for the even more isolated…I’m basically now just living alone in a bedroom in a house that’s empty of anyone I know, and literally empty now most of the time.  Even when I’m there, it’s essentially empty, because I only barely exist.  And nothing is really any fun at all anymore.

I’ve long toyed with the idea, off and on, of going up to the Palm Beach County court house, sitting down in front of it, dousing myself in paraffin oil, lighter fluid, and gasoline, and setting myself on fire.  I don’t know, I guess it would be some sort of statement, since that’s where most of what I had was taken from me, or at least where the overt effects took place.  I even bought (and still have) the lighter fluid and paraffin oil.  Gasoline is easy (I have a nicely portable can to put it in).  So are matches and/or lighters.  But I don’t think I have the guts to do that, and honestly, I also don’t really want to inconvenience and traumatize people who just go to work and try to do their jobs there.  Life is hard enough already.

I also bought at least two nonrebreather masks, and three tanks of helium, for possible asphyxiation.  Peaceful, tidy, not too traumatic.  But I had to sort of explain the helium to people, so I donated two of them for parties, one in the office, one for my former housemate’s daughter’s birthday.  I still have a third one, but I don’t think that’s enough, and anyway, I don’t have a good place to use it that wouldn’t be just incredibly rude to a good number of people, which I don’t want to do.  Maybe I’m just making excuses.  Maybe I’m just a coward.  I mean, I know I am a coward, of course, but maybe I’m just a coward and nothing more.

I want to escape.  I want to quantum tunnel into a state of oblivion–or into a better state of existence, if there is such a thing available to someone and something like me, which seems unlikely.

Oh, well.  It doesn’t really matter.  Does it?  I think this will most likely be the last of at least these atypical blog posts.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether I bother to write my usual blog post next week.  Maybe I will.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I don’t know what to do or what to say or how to act or how to continue, or how not to continue.  I am alone and powerless and pointless.

And above all, there’s nothing else in the world I hate as much as I hate myself…and that’s saying something, believe me.

album cover

*Which is everyone but me and my fictional characters.

**Is it redundant to use scare quotes and then say “if you will”?

***Technically, I think the days are literally getting longer because the rotation of the Earth is slowing down ever so slightly over time, but I guess it’s happening very slowly indeed.  I suppose that, the Earth not being quite a perfectly uniform sphere, it throws off at least a tiny bit of energy as gravitational waves, but I suspect that’s a truly negligible drain…it probably wouldn’t make a measurable change by itself over several times the current age of the universe.  I haven’t done any calculations, I’m just guessing, here, so don’t quote me.

****Homer Simpson’s apt description of Florida.

*****They don’t officially call it that anymore, apparently, but I like it better than the newer designation, and I know that all names are comparatively arbitrary.  They’re all just ways to trigger other people to access their mental files of notions and ideas that have shared meaning in other minds, anyway, and I don’t know how much other people and I have in common.  Not much, I suspect.


Fetter strong madness in a silken thread, charm ache with air and agony with blogs

Good morning and hello*.  It’s Thursday morning, and so of course it’s time for my usual weekly blog post.  I’ve written no fewer than two previous, non-routine blog posts this week, one for Iterations of Zero on Tuesday, and then here yesterday, an impromptu post reacting to YouTube’s celebration of…well, shall we say, a dubious milestone, at least in my view.

As I may have noted in either or both of those posts, I haven’t done any new writing on Outlaw’s Mind since Saturday.  I’ve been in terrible pain this week, far more than usual and far more difficult to manage, despite frankly toxic dose combinations of everything I have available.  I’ve also been having an exacerbation of my dysthymia/depression.  The one is not obviously related to the other as far as I can tell, but the former certainly doesn’t help the latter any.

Thankfully, this morning the pain is at least veering slightly more toward its usual baseline levels, which is good, obviously.  It’s not as good as the pain just going away and not coming back, but I don’t expect that to happen until I die.  As for the dysthymia (I think that the Powers that Be are actually now calling it chronic depression, which is accurate, but somehow more depressing), I don’t think I can readily recall a time in the last near-decade when I haven’t been at least somewhat under its influence.  I know there were times in my life when I wasn’t depressed; I know it very well, and they were wonderful and glorious.  But it’s been quite a while.

It doesn’t help that my living situation has just abruptly changed rather drastically, and now I am even more completely alone than I was before.  That’s always fun.  Of course, Shinji’s father from Neon Genesis Evangelion would say that everyone is always and completely alone, every moment of their lives, anyway, and while he is, in a certain sense, correct, he’s definitely a serious downer, almost certainly suffering from chronic depression himself.

And the Human Instrumentality Project** was not a good solution to the conundrum of human isolation.  Why not just force everyone to practice metta meditation, if you’re going to do something that’s going to affect the whole world anyway?  I mean, I like the character Ayanami Rei, but I don’t really want to have my being and identity subsumed into a big, giant, weird simulacrum of her, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

But I digress.  I’ll just say in concluding that digression that Ikari Gendou*** is a really rotten father.

Anyway, the holidays and the approaching Solstice (or, rather, its effects, i.e., the shortening of the time of daylight) also don’t improve the dysthymia thing.  I’m no good at asking for help, even when I really, really could use it****.  That’s partly, or perhaps mostly, because I don’t honestly feel like I deserve it, but it’s also because interacting with other people is often extremely stressful and anxiety-producing even when it’s something I’ve asked for or need, even when it’s someone I like and/or love, and that stress and anxiety make me irritable and grumpy and intolerable—which doesn’t help.  It’s not something I can easily get around—it appears to be neurodevelopmental in nature, though I’ve only learned that recently.  That’s my second personal experience of a syndrome with the acronym ASD.

I tell ya, if I were a product that I had purchased, I’d seriously consider asking for my money back.  I mean, there are a lot of nice optional upgrades in this model, including the ability to write reasonably well, and to understand science and math and have a really good memory and to have musical ability and creativity and imagination and all that stuff.  Parts of my nervous system are really excellent.  But often the flaws make the benefits moot and, ironically, the benefits sometimes exacerbate or highlight the defects.  Imagine, for instance, having a superhuman sense of smell (one that doesn’t ever shut off) and being confined to a landfill or a sewer…or a mass graveyard in the era before embalming.

Still, I’ve certainly never wished that I were anyone else, though I’ve often wanted to be like certain characters in certain ways.  Who hasn’t?

I don’t even know what it could possibly mean for a person to become someone else.  I mean, if I’m not me—if I don’t have continuity of memory and experience with the person I was in the past—then the person I was is dead and gone.  If some other person and I swapped every aspect of our beings, each suddenly becoming identical to the other and in the same place the other was, then absolutely nothing would have changed, and neither of us would notice anything different.  Because the person I am would still be thinking and remembering and experiencing the stuff I am experiencing, and likewise for the other person.  Of this I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt—indeed, beyond nearly any doubt at all, except the doubt that in principle must always remain, the possibility that I could discover that I am incorrect about any or all of my knowledge.  This is possible in principle.  In practice, though, I’m thoroughly satisfied with my provisional conclusions regarding this matter*****.

That’s what’s been going on this week, in rough and disjointed outline.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and thereafter regarding my fiction writing.  I’ve continued to think about events to come in the story, and even more so in Changeling in a Shadow World, which is somewhat related to Outlaw’s Mind, and distantly related to The Chasm and the Collision, and strongly related to my long-lost book, Ends of the Maelstrom.  So, it’s not as though I don’t have any interest in the stories or can’t think what to do with them.  I just don’t have any will to write them.  What’s the point?

Of course, one could say “What’s the point of anything?” and indeed, I often do.  But there has to at least be some local drive or incentive or motivation or whatever you want to call it to make a person do something that requires effort, and right now, I don’t have it.  I don’t really have any particular, engaging interest in anything at all.  If breathing weren’t automatic, I don’t think I would do that.  Ditto for all the motions of day-to-day life; they are all basically automatic, almost vegetative, for me, and I’m apparently built to be good at doing automatic things****** even when in severe pain or thoroughly depressed.  But if I could just stop and go into standby mode, into some sort of suspended or even aborted animation—perhaps indefinitely, perhaps forever—I would do that.  It’s hard to see any reason to do anything else.

I hope you’re all feeling quite a bit better than I am.  I truly hope that everyone reading this is having a very happy holiday season, or whatever you’re doing, and that you spend time with those you love, and who love you.  Remember, just being aware in some vague, academic sense of the fact that you love them doesn’t do anyone any more actual good than you “sending them your hopes and prayers”.  It’s a bit like telling someone thousands of miles away, who doesn’t have a computer or access to one, that you’ve downloaded a game that they would really enjoy—or perhaps some more functional program that would really be useful to them if they had it—and that you had them in mind when you downloaded it.  It’s nice of you to think of them; don’t get me wrong.  It’s certainly better than not giving a shit.  But it has its limits.



end of evangelion

*See how I changed that up a little?

**I think that’s what they called it.

***That’s Shinji’s dad’s name.

****I’ve even gone so far as to try to send “subtle” messages by sharing YouTube “videos” of songs with titles/messages, sometimes several in a row, in an order that, if someone were paying attention, would delineate a slightly coherent message via their titles.  But it’s cryptic and silly, and no one’s paying close enough attention to get the point, even if there were anyone out there who thinks enough like I do to get it.  Anyway, even if anyone got it, I’d probably pretend it was just a joke, or that I didn’t really mean it, and try to act like I didn’t actually want or need anything.  It’s stupid, but I don’t know how to get around it.

*****This reminds me of a quote, attributed to Einstein:  “In principle, principle and practice should be the same, but in practice, they rarely are.”

******This blog is one of them.

YouTube is >>CELEBRATING<< a trillion views of Minecraft content. Something please kill me now.

Yes, when I inadvertently got on YouTube very early this morning* after my computer restarted itself to install updates so that Microsoft could try to push me to “upgrade” to Windows 11, I saw that there was a big “1000000000000” where the YouTube logo normally goes, along with a some spewed digital confetti:


I looked more closely a bit later and encountered a little pop-up square that read that YouTube was celebrating one trillion views of Minecraft content.

Think about that.  It’s not celebrating the game, or the number of times people have played that game…which may be more than a trillion, though I suppose it is mathematically possible that it could be fewer, since, after all, YouTube says there have been a trillion views, and the same video can be viewed many, many times.  So, it’s not a trillion times people have played a game that’s being celebrated.  It’s a trillion instances of people watching uploaded videos of OTHER PEOPLE playing the game.

There are about 7.7 billion people in the world, so that makes an average of about 130 views of Minecraft content per living human.  But I haven’t watched a single such video, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only such person.  I’m probably not even in a minority in that, though perhaps I’m being optimistic–which is out of character for me, I know.  So there must be quite a number of people out there who have watched Minecraft content far more often than 130 times each.  That’s assuming that YouTube is correct in its tally, which I see no reason to doubt.

Surely this is not something to celebrate.  Surely this is something worthy of the most profound shame and of exceedingly doleful lamentation.  Surely this is an event that belongs in the book of Revelations, in the prophecies of Nostradamus, in the Necronomicon, in any and every apocalyptic, eschatological writing in every faith or myth or belief system ever devised.  Surely this signals the release of Fenrir and the waking of the Midgard Serpent!  Surely this is a harbinger of the end of days!

At the very least, it’s a convincing argument that it really is time for another mountain-sized asteroid to hit the Earth.  It’s time for “Chicxulub II:  This Time It’s Personal!

The human race has had its time, it’s had its chance, and it’s demonstrated unequivocally that it’s just a great big whopping mistake.  It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start again.  It’s a shame that so many other species would have to go as well just to get rid of the human race, but that’s what happened with all the large species of dinosaurs and the majority of other lifeforms at the end of the Cretaceous, and even more devastating losses happened in the Permian extinction.  And none of those lifeforms even had Minecraft or YouTube, let alone the unholy statistic of there being a trillion times in which people played videos so they could watch other people play a video game, probably somewhere far away from them, probably someone they didn’t know, and usually not even in real time.

Educational videos and music videos can be a joy.  Videos of cats are tolerable.  Videos of people falling down while trying to do stupid things are at least mildly comical in a sophomoric sense.

But this is too much.  I can’t stand it any longer.  The world is insane…or more accurately, it’s unsane.  Sanity doesn’t even apply; there’s no evidence that logic or sense has anything to do with anything in the world.

I can’t take it anymore.  I need to get out.  Where is my asteroid?

It’s intolerable.  Hamlet said, “How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world,” and he was just responding to the death of his father and to his mother having married his uncle almost immediately after.  Imagine how he would feel faced with this.  The undiscovered country and what dreams might come when one has shuffled off to it would surely be no impediment to his bare bodkin if he were to see this**.

Where indeed is thy sting, O death?  I’ve laid my ankle bare.  It’s waiting; it’s unprotected.  I’m daring you.  I’m begging you!  I’m begging you a trillion times, then a trillion trillion more.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the insolence of office, the law’s delay, the pangs of despis’d love, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes?  And who–I ask you most sincerely–would bear the fact that there have been a trillion VIEWS of “Minecraft content” and that it is being celebrated?

“Fie on’t!  Ah, fie!”

asteroid hit

*I don’t sleep well at the best of times, and at this time of year with the seasons throwing things off kilter, my early awakening, related to and contributing to other problems, is worse than usual.

**If he were a real person and not merely a character in a play, of course.

I wrote a post on Iterations of Zero

I haven’t written anything on Outlaw’s Mind this week so far, because what’s the point of that or anything else, after all?  But this morning I got an idea in my head that I decided to write an IoZ post about, and so I did that in the time in which I usually would have written fiction.  Here’s the first few paragraphs of it, followed by a link to the remainder of the post, in case you’re interested:

To really know you’ve created the best possible universe, you’d have to create them all

I was on my way into work this morning and started thinking about a curious question.

You may be aware of the area of theological inquiry called theodicy*. It deals with the “problem of evil”, though I’m sure that’s an oversimplification. In other words, it deals with the issue that, if God exists, and is infinitely powerful, and is omnibenevolent and omnipresent and omni-whatnot, then why is there evil?

We can leave aside arguments based on notions of free will and just desserts; bad things happen to “good” people in the world, whether through the actions of “evil” people or simply through the operations of the forces of nature. Think of childhood cancers and the like, and indeed, most childhood diseases prior to the modern era, as well as the fact that many children, through no fault of their own, are born to parents who are idiots (this probably describes all children, including mine).

One potential solution to the “problem of evil” is the notion that, despite appearances, the universe in which we live is the best possible one there can be. This idea is caricatured by Voltaire in the form of Dr. Pangloss, but it’s a serious point that is seriously made, and there is a certain logic to it. The notion is that, if things were changed, locally, to make some particular situation better, it would overall make more things worse, by whatever criteria you might happen to choose, and so every bad thing that happens, though it may not have any local good to it, is nevertheless necessary to minimize the evil, or maximize the good, of the universe, by whatever measure happens to be used by the one doing the parsing…presumably, God.

But how would such a God know what the best possible universe was? Such a being is assumed to have infinite intelligence**, as well as infinite power and awareness. We could, perhaps, describe it as a sort of “computer” that is infinite in all dimensions (perhaps an infinite number of them) and with limitless processing power, constrained only to the degree that it does not lead to paradoxes and contradictions, since we must assume—or I do, at least—that logic would apply even to an omnipotent being. Even God cannot actually make two plus two equal five without changing definitions, in which case it hasn’t actually been done.

To see the rest, follow this link.