For grief is proud, and makes his blogger stoop.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the second Thursday in May of 2022, and it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Tomorrow will be Friday the 13th! Unlike many people, I like Friday the 13th both because I like being a bit contrary and because I like prime numbers.  I used to always put thirteen gallons of gas in my car when I filled it up, just because I like prime numbers, and I particularly like thirteen because so many people dislike it.  Maybe I thought it deserved to get some positive attention for a change.

I haven’t been quite as productive this week as last week, but I did write a good five thousand words on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  I’ve been a little worn out because my recent travails have exacerbated my chronic back and leg pain, and yet I’m walking about two and half miles a day as part of my commute.  So, my concentration—nay, even my very will to live*—has been detrimentally affected.  Nevertheless, I have continued to write; being on the train is nice for doing that, at the very least.

I posted the next section of Outlaw’s Mind this Tuesday, but it was a short one.  I didn’t want to add the subsequent section to beef it up any, because that section is already rather long, and adding them together would have made it too much, I think.  I don’t know if anyone is actually reading the story—I don’t know if anyone is actually reading this, for that matter—and if they are, I don’t know whether they like it.  I suppose it’s possible that some masochist might hate the whole thing but read it for that very reason.  That seems unlikely, though.

I mentioned last week, with my tongue in my cheek, that I tend to play guitar and sing as a way to punish the world.  Well, I’ve done a bit of such punishing recently; I’ve embedded below two videos of me amateurishly playing guitar and singing, for anyone who feels the need to scold themselves, perhaps for falling off a diet, or not getting enough exercise, or committing adultery…stuff like that.  In all seriousness, however, I like both of these songs a lot, and so I did my amateurish best to play and sing them.

The first is If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot, a song I’ve known and liked since I was a little boy.  I’ve always loved the melody, and Gordon Lightfoot was a very good singer.

The second is No Surprises, by Radiohead, which I only came to be aware of perhaps fifteen years ago, but which very quickly became one of my favorite songs (and bands).  It’s harder to play than IYCRMM, as you can probably tell, but I really love it.  In many ways, it is the song of my soul, if there is such a thing.

As for anything else…well, there really isn’t much else.  There was a death in my family late last week, about which I’m quite sad.  This was my uncle, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while, but who had been, along with his son—my cousin—one of the only people in my family to attend my wedding.  That’s part of a long and dreary story that I won’t go into, but it is a shame that I hadn’t seen him in so long, and now I won’t be able to do so.  Such is the story of life, unfortunately.  I wish I could have told him how much that meant at the time, and even though that marriage has since failed, that gesture still means a great deal to me.  At least I can hereby tell my cousin the same for his part!

I fear quite honestly that I am on the verge of a real and serious mental (and physical) breakdown, and I don’t know what to do about it.  I also fear that, even if I did know what to do about it, I would not have the will to do it.  I wish I did.  I would like to be optimistic and upbeat; I have been so in the past.  No one who suffers from chronic depression and/or other, related difficulties would wish to suffer from it/them. They might well believe, however, that they richly deserve their own suffering for being the awful, evil, rotten person that they see, that they “know”, themselves to be.  I don’t know how to escape that trap.  I have tried, many times and in many ways, but I don’t think I have the strength or the resources to do it on my own.  And on my own is what I am.

I hope, nevertheless, that all of you reading are feeling and doing as well as you possibly can, and that you are with those you love, or at least in communication with them, and that you find a great deal of joy in that.  Please take care of yourselves, and of each other.

TTFN

wallpapersden.com_dark-sky-tree-purple-sky-nature_1920x1200


*It’s an interesting notion, this concept of “will to live”.  It’s misguided and misleading, because it’s not as though one can simply stop having some “will to live” and consequently just die.  Trust me, I know.  The body and brain have been shaped by millions upon millions of years of evolution to try to stay alive, and one’s will, at the human level, has almost nothing to do with it.  Ditto with eating and drinking and breathing.  Just try not doing those things.  The machine keeps cranking along until it falls apart, or until something breaks it.  Believe me, if not having the “will to live” mattered at all, there are many times—several in any given week, I’d say—in which I would already have died.  Alas, it’s the will to die that’s more a real kind of will, and it is set against gargantuan, Lovecraftian powers of nature that force living beings to stay alive whether they really want to or not.  I’m working on it, though.

They were red-hot with drinking; so full of valor that they smote the air, for blogging in their faces

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, so it’s time for another of my weekly blog posts.  It’s also Saint Patrick’s Day, which is probably celebrated in the US as energetically as anywhere in the world, including Ireland—though perhaps I’m wrong; I’ve never been to Ireland.  I haven’t worn anything green today, except maybe a tag or label somewhere, but I doubt anyone is going to try to pinch me.  Do people still do that on Saint Patrick’s Day?  They used to do it when I was in school, but that was decades ago, and it’s not as though I keep in the loop of popular culture much.

I’m also not likely to have any corned beef and cabbage for dinner, regrettably.

I haven’t written much on Outlaw’s Mind this week—only a little over 2000 words, because I’ve really only done two days of writing.  I did post the next section of the story earlier this week, here.  I don’t know if perhaps I should start inserting those “read more” lines in such postings or not.  The story sections make for long blog posts, and if one were trying to scroll down to the previous entry, it would be quite a scroll.  Not quite a full Torah, maybe, but possibly a Dead Sea.

I’m slightly frustrated that the entries come up in reverse order when one clicks on the subject heading Outlaw’s Mind*, with the most recent one first.  There may be a way via WordPress to adjust that, but if so, I’m not sure what it is, and I haven’t had the gumption to seek it out.  Apologies.  My motivation is not the highest it’s ever been, and I’ve never been great at such executive functions at the best of times, at least on my own behalf.  I do better when I’m working for others, which is probably not unusual.

I’m not entirely sure why I’ve been so reticent about writing my story this week.  A small part of it is that something very bad is about to happen that will throw Timothy’s life into a severe tailspin, right after things had just begun looking up from a threatening event that had appeared to resolve or begin to resolve well.  I wonder if it’s typical for authors to feel guilty when they make heartrending things happen to their characters.  It’s not like I won’t do it, since it’s part of the story.  It just makes me feel bad.  But I feel bad anyway most of the time, so at least I’m used to it.

That’s probably the biggest part of the decreased writing this week—my mental energy just hasn’t been good.  Physically, I guess my energy has been tolerable.  I’ve been walking a fair amount, and even jogged a tiny bit during my 4.5 mile walk on Tuesday, to try to get my feet prepared for a potential “epic” quest I’m tentatively planning to undertake, but even that notion isn’t as exciting as it was at first.

I get up in the morning, I do a tiny bit of exercise, I shower, I go to the office, I write a bit, then I putter around on the guitar a bit, then I do work stuff (reading a bit during breaks), then in the afternoon (for the past few weeks, anyway) I walk, and then I go home and watch some videos and go to sleep.  Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.  There’s eating in there, too, of course.  Always eating.  It’s my version of “stimming”, I suppose, though I do other forms of that, too, I guess.

I’m really tired.  Not physically, unfortunately.  I am able to walk pretty long distances without much difficulty other than some blistering that’s resolving steadily, and it’s not as if I’m able to sleep all that well, as I would expect would happen if I were merely physically tired.  That’s one thing I’d like to be able to look forward to about an epic-level undertaking:  being physically exhausted enough just to fall asleep and stay asleep.  It would be so nice simply to sleep until I feel rested and to wake up refreshed, rather than waking up over-alert and tense, like a deep-cover spy embedded in a foreign world that, if not frankly hostile, is at least thoroughly alien.  Or maybe I’m more like a hobbit stuck in Mordor trying to pass himself off as an orc, who’s not even sure that the Shire still exists, let alone that there are any allies anywhere.  Mordor sucks, whether or not you’ve got anywhere else to go, and so does having to try to pass as an orc.

Anyway, enough melodrama for now.  I hope you all have a lovely Saint Patrick’s Day, if you’re celebrating it, and that you have a nice meal and not too much beer, if beer is your thing.  Spend time with people who love you, if you have them.

TTFN

saint patrick day


*There are two such entries, because I made an error on the first one.  The second one should be the “correct” one to click on if you’re looking for subject headings.  Eventually, I’ll get around to figuring out how to remove the first one.  Or maybe I won’t ever get around to it.  If I do, I will.

What a wounded blog, things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!

HELlo and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the 24th of February, and so it’s time for my weekly blog Post.  This will be the last post for the Month of February in 2022.  At lEaSt, it will be the last Of My usual, wEekly February 2022 blOg posts.  I suppose it’s possible that I might write somethiNg Else and post It or post some more of outlAw’s Mind if anyone’s interested.  But otherwise, probably not.

There’s not really much more to report than there was last week.  I’ve continueD to write on a near-dailY basIs, haviNG completed just a little over five-thousand words again this week.  I don’t have any new vIdeos of me singing to inflict upon you, so that’s probably a good thing.  Sorry about doing all that self-indulgent nonsense.  In fact, yesterday, I came very close just to giving away the guitar I have at the office because its presence was galling, and I felt franKly avErsE to the notion of even trying to make anything Pleasant, let alone beautiful.

Speaking of beauty, or its opposite, or WhAtever, I’ve reached a poiNT IN Outlaw’s Mind where some quite bad thinGs are happening for our main characTer, TimOthy Outlaw.  People in my universes don’t get a very good shaKe from me, It seems, but then, neither do people in my reaL, actuaL life, so that’s not too contradictory.

I’ve continued to have great difficulty finding books that I want to read.  I’ve tried to locate new fiction that looks interesting, but even coMics and manga are hard to concentrate on…or, rather, are things on which I find it hard to concentrate, if I want to trY to avoid ending SEntences with prepositions.  I know, it’s probabLy silly to bother with anything like that—almost nobody does anymore, even writers for Formerly prestigious newspApers, magazines, and jourNals.  I finD It frustrating anD even galling, but I recOgNize—when I’m able To be objective—THat at least some of the rules of grammar are arbItrary, though some are also borN of inherent logic, and the violation of these rules can lead to unclear communication and, I thinK, promote unclear thought.  My emotions mIght be as erratiC ANd troublesome as predicting the motion of a doubLe-pendulum, but my thoughts At leaST seeM coherent.  Maybe that’s why CBT* has never really worked very well for me.  Maybe my neUrology is just fuCked.  For all I know, maybe my tHoughts aren’t actuaLly cOhereNt, and everythinG I writE comes across as gibbeRish to everyone else.  Goodness knows, much of what most everyone else says and does feels lIke gibberish to me.

Of course, even non-fiction—even books about physics or neuroscience or rationality or biology or cosmology, whether I’ve loveD them in the past Or they’re new oNes by authors known or unknown To me—has been providing rapidly diminishing returns of latE.  And it’s not as though I do much of anything else for enjoyment.  eVEN the YouTube algorithm is letting me down, but of course, there was never any reason to thinK that it would do otherwise.

I doN’t think I have that much mOre to say today on this blog or ever at all, for that matter.  I don’t think I’ll be sharing any more of OutlaW’s MInd, but I guess I could change my mind at some point in the Future.  I can’t change It in the paSt, after all, alas.  And, of course, even if I could, we would be subject to the seeming paradoxes of time travel fiction in which a person cHanges things abOUt the past that change the fact that they wouLD change someThing in the past, and so on.  Of couRse, Everettian quantum mechanics allows for waYs around thIs—possibly, though it’s probAbly MAinly irrelevanT to reALity—and even the MCU glimpsed at least a bit Of that in AvengerS: Endgame, when the Hulk pointS out that, if your travel into tHE past, that past now becomes your “future”, and you cannot change your reaL Past by changing your future.

Anyway, that’s just stuff and fluff.  I can’t find even a Modicum of intErest in any of the ongoing MCU Projects, nor any of the Star Wars shows or anything eLsE, reAlly.  I’m juSt wandEring farther and farther into the wasteland now.  I doubt that there is a far side to it.

TTFN

tennant hamlet


*Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  I don’t have the energy to describe or explain it, but feel free to Google it or look on Wikipedia, or whatever.

Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, a blog without a heart?

Hello.  Good morning.  Thursday.  Blog post.  You can fill in the rest of the verbs, articles, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns for yourselves.

It’s been a moderately productive week; I’ve made more progress than I did the previous week on Outlaw’s Mind—I’ve written just shy of five thousand words since last time.  Things are getting exciting and strange and frightening, and that’s all good in a story, though probably not good in life.

I’ve posted the second portion of Outlaw’s Mind—in draft form, anyway—on my blog, here.  It’s a bit of a lurch from the “cold opening”, because it suddenly shifts backward in time, to Timothy Outlaw’s younger, early adolescent days, gradually setting the stage for the events that happen in the opening, and which will then carry on after.  I haven’t yet reached that opening time again in the story, but I’m getting closer.  There will be a payoff, and hopefully the things that happen in between will be reasonably interesting.  They certainly are strange, and—hopefully—sometimes frightening.

I’ve also been mucking about with my guitar and singing, and I did a new video of me playing and singing Yesterday (of course by the Beatles).  I’ll embed it here, below this paragraph, so if you’re inclined, you can listen.  It’s decent, I think, but of course, you should feel free to judge for yourself.

I may inflict more songs upon you, assuming nothing cuts all my endeavors short—if they could even be truly considered short at this stage in my life.  Sometimes it feels as if it’s been eternal already…and not one of those great, “promised land” style eternals usually.  At this point, both my “experienced happiness” and my “life satisfaction”* are below the mean, I think, and most times they are in the fucking sewer.  I guess that’s what happens when you have an apparently defective brain and a bad personality.  No one is to blame, except possibly me…which would mean that I deserve it, in a sense, so I guess that’s fine.

I’ve considered just posting all the rest of Outlaw’s Mind at once, as it currently stands (up to yesterday, or up until whatever other day follows) so that even if I don’t end up living to finish it, someone else can if they’re interested.  I really doubt that would happen; it would probably just vanish into even greater obscurity than that in which it exists now, despite the supposedly eternal internet (where, contrary to popular sayings of the “what’s on the web is forever” type, the vast majority of things are in practice as ephemeral as the path of a single drop of rain).

But, hey, even Van Gogh only sold one of his paintings in his lifetime and look at him now!  Well, don’t look at him.  He’s dead—he killed himself when he was thirty-seven**.  But his paintings are still great, and his work is loved by countless millions of people.  Not that it does him much good, unless you believe in some afterlife that’s influenced by the esteem someone receives after their death by the world at large.  It seems unlikely.

That’s about it for my report this week; there’s little else to say.  I don’t socialize at all, and don’t really do much for fun, not counting what I’ve mentioned above and watching some videos on YouTube, most of which I’ve seen already.  I still can’t seem to get into any new fiction (or old fiction for the most part, even my favorite books), though there are occasional, brief exceptions.  And I’m running out of interesting non-fiction books to read, too.  I’ve read most of the ones that appeal to me at all.

I honestly don’t know what to do about any of this.  I mean, I have ideas, but they are generally frowned upon, and I don’t like making a nuisance of myself.  For now, I’ll keep doing the Nazgul thing and will merely continue, though often it already seems that every minute is a weariness.  I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

I hope you’re all doing better than I am, and that I haven’t bummed you out too much.  Stay as safe and healthy and happy as you can.

TTFN

Vincent's doctor


*As described in research that I think was done by Daniel Kahneman and others.

**I’ve already outlived him by fifteen years, but I’m far from sure that it was the right choice.  At least I’ve written and published some stories and a few songs since that age.  I don’t paint as well as Vincent did, of course, but then again, not many in history do or did, so I can’t feel disappointed about that!  Anyway, as far as either happiness or life satisfaction goes, my life since I was 43 has been a poor investment.  At least before then point I saw my kids.

OK…

OK…

Imagine a story about someone who is trapped in some infernal prison.  It’s not a prison with walls, necessarily, but is instead a prison of the mind, perhaps, and that person is trying to get messages out, calling—begging—for help to get free.  But the messages are “coded”.  The person is allowed to communicate with the outside world, but the jailer is watching and reading all outgoing correspondence and doesn’t want the person to receive any help, even if there is anyone out there who might help him—which is not at all clear.

So, the prisoner is forced to send out these coded messages, without a code key, in hopes that people will recognize them as what they are—as attempts to beg for help.  But every response the resident gets simply makes clear that the others outside don’t get it.  They just see the messages as stories, as hypotheticals, as songs…whatever.  They’re not getting the message.  He’s had to be too subtle, and the message is not getting across because he’s had to be too subtle.

Now, take a step back—or perhaps take a step forward, or a step inward—and we realize this story is not actually a story of a person imprisoned by someone else, but that the person who imprisons him is himself.  He hates himself too much to think that he deserves help, and he hates the prospect of openly asking for help, feeling that he has no right to help from anyone—and so it is he himself who is keeping himself in prison—he himself who is forcing himself to send out only coded messages in a subtle way, and he himself who is responsible for just how much people don’t get the point of his requests for help.  Or perhaps they simply agree that he does not deserve to receive help, the prisoner and the one who imprisons him, both of whom are the same person.

People grow more and more resigned—or gleeful or whatever—knowing that the prisoner will never escape, that no one will ever come to help, that there is only one way out, and in the long run, that will be the way he must take, to the horror or perhaps to the glee of those in the outside world.

Now, imagine that this isn’t the story at all, but is something happening in the real world, at this time, in the present moment, as we speak, as we write, as we read.  Is such a thing possible?

Will the prisoner ever receive the help that he needs to escape?  Because it is not possible for him to escape on his own.

And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill, and simple blog miscalled simplicity

Hey, everybody.  I’m really feeling tired and worn out today, so I’m not going to say very much in this post.  This time, I think I really mean it.  There’s not much to report, anyway.  I’m not sure there ever is.

I’ve written about 3000 words on Outlaw’s Mind this week so far, but I had to go back to the computer to do it; the longhand project was encountering some problems.  I’m afraid my handwriting has degenerated beyond even its former, maddeningly messy form, hard though that may be to believe for those who have seen my curse-ive before.  Also, it’s become more difficult and slower for me to do.  Some of this may just be due to lack of recent practice, but it was very frustrating, and so I abandoned that noble idea.

I did some recording (on video) of myself playing some songs on guitar, and singing along, for practice and self-evaluation purposes, and one of them—the Beatles song Help—turned out reasonably well, so I decided to share it on YouTube.  I’ve embedded it here:

I also am taking a break from my antidepressant.  It doesn’t seem to be doing much good, and it’s been having some irritating side-effects.  I know it’s not usually a good idea to change one’s medical regimen without consulting one’s doctor, but since I am the one who “prescribed” it, and since I am the only doctor I’m seeing anymore, I guess that criterion is met.  We’ll see how it goes.

Other than that, there’s not much to say.  Life, as John Mellencamp said*, goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

I hope you’re all doing much better than I am, and that you’re staying warm, staying safe, and staying healthy.  Maybe next week I’ll write more.  Maybe not.  I don’t know.

TTFN

empty man


*I’ve probably even quoted the line many times before, but I don’t feel like checking.

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.

TTFN

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.

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.

TTFN

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.

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.

TTFN

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.”