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.
*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.