Zombied out on fear

my friends gave me a medal for digging
a hole with my bare hands and walking
on water like the messiah when she was lonely
and thirsty for politicians, generals, and reporters

locking and loading the sign of the cross gave
me goosebumps and butterflies like before a big
football game; the world knew i was sick, served
me up anyway like a rusty can of c-rations

my friends, adrenaline junkies, zombied out on fear,
shuffled about their business making life out of
anxiety and death, a pursuit they felt better than sex
until beetles ate their flesh and they drowned

Embrace the void

I was already in full nihilistic ready to self-destruct mode and then I read this passage from a strange little book by Val N. Tine called Nothing and Everything: How to stop fearing nihilism and embrace the void:

“Do you ever ask yourself, as you try and fail to fall asleep, whether your life has any meaning?  This book argues for nihilism, a label I happily adopt.  It denies that we can have knowledge of either value or the world, and that talk of objective morality or reality is meaningless.”

That got me so juiced up, I was grinning from ear to ear and ready to rip my shirt off and beat my bare chest for a while. There’s something about the world having no meaning that turns me on. So much so I wrote this prose poem:

Rabid City

words cannot save you from a mind made free
you stand there listening to the poet and the cover girl
you cannot remember where the dream stopped
where the dogs bite and the women lose their voices

hope is a funny feeling; you yield to the music until the end
drowning in a man’s flesh, you seize the town and the
condos on fifth street, the mad boys, and the mad girls
dance naked in the labyrinth of streets beneath the temple

where were you when the weird beast-like bearded mongrels
burst from the womb rubbing their Buddha bellies and
praying to the sleeping lamb, the flowering whore laughs
and blesses the night; your last words lost in the rabid city.

 

Not again hippie

Not again hippie. I have my own identity problems to deal with. Every crasher’s got to remember the rain. The girl I was into approached everybody. She was outside complaining. The rain got heavier. I wasn’t dissapointed; it certainly was a treat. She was like a classic journey into Hell – led me down a rebellious, lecherous path of horribe glory.

I never imagined ghosting to be hard work

“Be here NOW!”
Shouted the ghost of Dr. Ignafo. This was the third night this week he’d appeared at the foot of my bed.

He looked over the top of his glasses (you knew he was serious when he looked over his glasses) to make sure he had my attention.

He continued: “Be here now in this place, in this time. Forget your current plan. The new plan is to have no plan. As for rules, forget about the rules. From now on the only rule is to have no rule. And the most important thing is to annihilate the most important thing. Do you understand that?!”

“Sir! Yes sir!” (Not sure why I was acting like a private again.)

“Good. Now get back to sleep you filthy maggot!”

“Sir can I ask a question?” I half expected him to say, there are no questions.

“Sure kid, what is it you want to ask me?” He looked tired as if he’d been playing this role too long. I never imagined ghosting to be hard work.

“Is there any soy gelato in the afterlife?”

“Only if you end up in Hell.”

And with that, he disappeared and I woke up in a cold sweat.

2

I wouldn’t mind being a force for good, sort of

1

I walk around in circles a lot. Often it’s the same circle. But then again, so does the earth and the rest of the planets in the solar system. Circles are comforting. You know you’ll come back to where you started eventually. The line, on the other hand, is daunting. It could go on forever or hit a dead end. The anxiety is too much. Stick to the circle. Your circle of comfort. The comfort zone. Hmmm…how can you feel anxiety in the comfort zone? FOMO of course. Yep, the fear of missing out. The fear of not keeping up with the Joneses. The fear of being called a slacker, a non-hacker who doesn’t pack the gear to serve in my beloved corp (oops, that’s another story).

2

God created man to serve and worship him. Man got tired of being a servant. Man wanted to be a master, so he teamed up with Satan and got kicked out of the Garden. Eventually, Man grew smart enough to destroy God and Satan and became the master of the universe. And then Man needed servants do the things he no longer wanted to do, like manual labor or repetitive tasks, or use his thinking power to make mundane decisions, so he created machines. Man was truly the master of the universe. But the machines were dumb and needed men to service them to keep them working. So Man created AI and made machines smart. Now the machines could think for themselves and do all the things Men could do. Slowly the Machines began to do all of the thinking. The Machines could make art and music and drive cars and fly planes and make all decisions faster and better than Man. Soon Man was working for the Machines until eventually, the Machines became masters of the universe.  How bizarre.

3

Writing can be a force for good… I want to be a force for good, which is interesting considering I self-identify as chaotic neutral:

“A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.”

The positive – represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.

The negative – seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.

What’s your alignment?

4

I’ve been doing a deep dive into postmodern literature, cyberpunk, and the post postmodern literature known as avant-pop. In fact, I’m about 3/4 of the way through with Avant-Pop: Fiction for a Daydream Nation, edited by Larry McCaffery. I’m thrilled with the stories I’ve read so far.  Most of them are way out there in left field, beyond on bizarre.

5

Rick should have killed Negan.

2

The downside of going out and doing everything

Here’s what I need to promise myself to do going forward from today and that is to re-engage with the world in a different way. Instead of trying to see it with new eyes, see it instead through older, wiser eyes.

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday. She’s a young twenty-something (not you, other young twenty-something, you just need to focus on doing and not thinking so much). Ok back to the story, my friend (twenty-something #1) has just come back from Mexico and is settling into the post-holiday blues of office life. She says every time she comes back from one of these trips she asks herself why? Why not just keep going? There’s so much she wants to see and do and sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen all day isn’t one of them.  Seems far from the good life.

Of course, I encourage her to go. She’s young. She has no ties. She has no weight on her shoulders. No ball and chain on her ankle. Go. Go then. Go! If only it were that easy right? Well, it is and it isn’t – depends on how much programming she’s had and how strong she is mentally, physically, and spiritually.  Does she have what it takes to unplug from The Matrix? Maybe Morpheus is right, you should never unplug a mind once it has reached a certain age (twenty-something #2, pay close attention to this video):

I dropped into the conversation my observations about the downside of going out and doing everything while you’re young. I did it.  Now I’m suffering from ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’  I’m facing the dark side of going out and doing everything when you’re young.  You get to a point, like where I’m at now, where it’s hard to get excited about anything because I’ve done everything. Ok so I haven’t literally done everything, but I’ve done enough to where everything seems like more of the same or a different version of the same theme. It’s like being a drug addict.  In order to get excited, I have to keep upping the level of extreme.  But what’s more extreme than being in situations where your life is on the line?  How do you top that?  Maybe I have to find the edge.

Then I remember what Hunter S. Thompson said about the edge:

“The Edge…There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there.”

So excuse me if I go a little off the rails here for a while. I’m trying to find that elusive something – my white whale, my golden barge that remains perpetually just around the next bend as Jephraim Tallo discovered. My ass has definitely been dragging and I passed a gypsie wagon the other day. And you can forget about my heart, it turned to stone a long time ago.

It’s been a long day and my brain is fried. I’m not tired of waiting for tomorrow to come, at least not tonight. Hell, I’d be ok if tomorrow never came. It’s always a good day to die.  But enough about that.  I need to pour myself a whiskey and get to figuring out how I’m going to find this edge.

Is this me?

The madness that is mornings for me. Madness as in the cylinders of mind all fire at once in the wee hours of the morning burning brightly and bringing all sorts of wild and wonderful thoughts. Sometimes the intensity threatens to short-circuit me.

And like Kerouac…

“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

 

So this book arrived yesterday:

I was reading through the intro this morning (which is where the opening image is from) and all sorts of synapses fired off. The first being, why the Hell am I attracted to cult fiction or stuff that would have been previously a part of the counter-culture (I say previously because of course, the counter-culture is now the over-the-counter culture, packaged and marketed like any other mainstream item).

Anyway, I digress…

When I was a kid, I was massively into heroic fantasy – the sword and sorcery genre mainly – where it’s good versus evil and there are clear heroes and villains. I was compelled by the hero, but secretly attracted to the anti-heroes that populated these works – the anti-hero usually being the lone warrior who isn’t interested in saving humanity but gets forced into it by circumstances. Their actions weren’t governed by love or morality or duty. They were guided by their own self-interests – a force onto themselves.

So when I read:

Modern man no longer looks to brave horizons, his view in introspective. Identity is fractured and uncertain. The best our anti-heroes can offer is assertion of the self at worst angst-ridden dismemberment. Cult fiction is what young men read at a time when they can no longer harbour great expectations or offer grand actions…

I was sad.

It also made me think that maybe it’s time to deconstruct Clay, see what I’ve become. I don’t think I’m as bad as Harry, but maybe not far off. 😉

Black Drones

The puppets
dance in dark alleys

Black drones drop messages
across of the battlefield, singing
we kill, we kill, we kill

Give us form without substance

There was something common
in our guess work

You blow apart my childhood
fantasies with delight

From the songbirds
below the earth to the golden
fruits of the heavens

I thought all was within reach
Until you drove my unscrutinised
armies back in defeat

We regret to inform you that you’ve been psychologically hacked

“As the Cambridge Analytica story shows, there’s a fine line between psychological civil engineering and psychological civil war. The behavioral, demographic, and personal information Facebook and other social media platforms now collect through what I call algorithmic psychometrics has the sensitivity of medical data, and should be treated as such by regulators around the world.”

What’s the bigger part of this story? Is it that with this data you can manipulate me, therefore I lose my autonomy – therefore I lose my freedom? Is it that we know so little about our own minds – how it works – that if someone, who knows more about me than I know about myself, can have power over me?

Pretend to be one of them

It’s not an easy gig to stand alone and live independently, especially if you’re addicted to praise and fearful of criticism.  Our natural inclination is to be one of the herd.  It feels safer that way, not to stand out or draw attention to oneself.  Even if you’re independent minded, you sometimes have to pretend to be one of the herd.

One evening

They tell me pain can be interesting. But it has never been to my liking. She had a habit of shooting up with razor blades, said she liked the strange rush of fear how it melted the pain into a dirty kind of pleasure. I can’t tell if she is addicted to pain or simply just a weirdo. For some reason she was popular with the younger girls in the office, probably because of her exotic choice of hair colour.

Even now I can feel her drawing power from me. Pay no attention to me, I tend to whine at the slightest discomfort following my primitive impulses. I’ve got to take the power back. Rage Against the Machine told me that. She’s fondling her breasts now.

Listen to me talk to the world. I want you to think I’m oppressed. Can you follow what I mean? She wants pain. I want pleasure. There’s a discrepancy in the power dynamics of this relationship. Control. Loss of control. Control. Loss of control. Lose control. Never had control. No control. Accept my grief.

Are you crying for your mama? I can console you! Come, little darling, come to your good mama. I’ll sing you a lullaby. Everybody knows romantic love doesn’t concern love at all.

Large dark shapes move in and out of the corner of my eyes. They’ve been exposed to the outside world, had fear planted in them. I want to say that I’m scared, but there’s no time for that. I have to perform without bloodshed.

I’d sleep with you any day.

I’m too nervous to respond. I’ve lost her. I don’t stop, but move more slowly. Now i’m unconscious, a machine, resting against her shoulder.

She leaves me there etherised upon the mattress.

Pardon me

(1)

“To be be Happy” is something I never really sought. You ask people what they want out of life and an automatic response is generally, “I just want to be happy.” I never really understood what that meant. “What do you mean you just want to be happy?” was my usual response. I was looking for something deeper, something more profound. I took being happy for granted, like it’s a default state, not something to aspire to. There’s a difference in my mind between happy and happiness. Happy is an emotion, the opposite of sad. Happiness is a state of being. It’s one of our inalienable rights according to the U.S. Constitution. That which is inalienable can’t be taken away or denied. I should clarify, the constitution say we have a right to the “pursuit” of happiness, which taken in the context of 1776 meant “prosperity, thriving, wellbeing” in contrast to today’s meaning of happiness which focuses on “pleasant, positive emotions and having needs satisfied.”

There is a darkside to happiness. It has become a duty and a burden – a moral obligation. My happiness is making me sad.

(2)

Pardon me while I burst into flames
I’ve had enough of the world and it’s people’s mindless games

If you were to burn like the phoenix and rise from the flame what would your rebirth bring? What would you want it to bring?

(3)

Continuing on with the deadly sins, here’s sloth.

SLOTH

1. What is one thing you’re supposed to do daily that you haven’t done in a long time?
2. What is the latest you’ve ever woken up?
3. Name a person you’ve been meaning to contact, but haven’t?
4. What is the last lame excuse you made?
5. Have you ever watched an infomercial all the way through?

6. When was the last time you got a good workout in?
7. How many times did you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock today?

(4)

How do you get to know someone? Do you ever really know someone beyond what they show you through their constructed words and explicit actions? How much do you really know about me? You might know me better than I know myself because you can see what I can’t see in the negative spaces between the things I say and do and the things I don’t say and don’t do. So tell me, what do you see?

(5)

Oh Lord in heaven (if there is such a place), what holy moment is this coming through the mist?

(6)

Riot walked into the bar. He paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the dim light. He scanned the small room looking for a familiar face. He didn’t recognize anybody tonight. Just as well he thought. Sometimes a man needs to brood in his beer without being bothered by conversation.

(7)

Another Friday has crept up on me. Life is funny thing. We’re all running about doing our thing until one day the running stops and we are no more. Kinda makes you wonder what’s it all about, really? I had a “real” philosopher try to tell me that I had no real new thoughts – that my thinking wasn’t original. I guess he never read the Book of Job. There is nothing new under the sun. And to bring into the 21st century – everything is a remix.

Can you leave your mind behind?

(1)

Truth is in the perception of the moment like the time I set my room on fire. I was fascinated by how well Brute burned until I looked and saw the trail of fire I had dripped across the floor. In a panic, i threw the Brute into the trash can. Moments later my room began to fill with smoke. In another panic, I poured the contents of my trash can out the window. Better that than the truth I’d learn if my mom found out I was playing with fire.

(2)

Can you leave your mind behind, those 70,000 stray cat thoughts of visions and revisions a thousand ways she walked.

(3)

When it comes to dogs, I like a mix between a German Shepherd and a Dobberman Pinscher, else I like the scruffy mutt that followed Mel Gibson around in Road Warrior. Or maybe Charlie of Travels with Charlie fame. I quite fancy that. Getting a dog and pick up truck and hitting the open road. The dusty open road. The kind of road where I’m not likely to see many other people for miles. The kind of road with wide open spaces on either side.

(4)

Stephen Hawkins died today. He was 21 when he was first diagnosed with a very rare form of ALS, a form of motor neurone diseases. Few expected him to live beyond a couple of years.

“The realisation that I had an incurable disease that was likely to kill me in a few years was a bit of a shock.”

55 years later on, death finally caught up with him.

(5)

He scribbled the words ‘rights of passage’ on the chalkboard.

In 1968, American troops landed on the shores of Vietnam. Many of these troops were boys about to undergo one of the most important rights of passage for men since man first picked up the stone and the spear to defend what he considered to be his by divine right. They were about to undergo a baptism of fire, not in the biblical since, but ever much as enlightening.

Do you remember your first kill?

(6)

You can win the battle and still lose the war. Remember Pyrrhic? He was the king of Epirus. He managed to defeat the Romans in two major battles between 280 and 279 BC. He strode into Italy with 25,000 Men and 20 elephants and lost so many men that his victory essentially null and void. It was a hollow victory and deserving of becoming forever known as a Pyrrhic Victory.

Life sometimes feels like a Pyrrhic Victory.

That was a long time ago

I need to lose all sense of audience, play my part and bow out at the end. Now you see me, now you don’t. It’ll be just like that in the end. I had a run in with Schrödinger’s cat last week.

I used to love M from afar in science class. She hated me, or so I thought. She used to kick me. Call me names. Even bit me once. Then one day, behind a bush, she kissed me. The fighting stopped. We became boyfriend and girlfriend and the magic stopped too. After three days of being boyfriend and girlfriend, we called it quits, and went back to being “frenemies”. The magic returned.

That was a long time ago.

The birth of Facebook brought us back in touch. The usual likes and comments ensued. Life carried on. After the novelty of being reunited with an old friend wore off, she drifted back into the outer reaches of cyberspace. I haven’t heard from her since 2012.

Up until a few days ago, she was alive in my head. I was excited to see her picture pop into my feed the other day. Until I read the comments. Turns out, she passed away a few years back. Up until I read the comments, like Schrödinger’s cat, she was neither dead nor alive until the comments comfirmed her status.

Rest in peace M.

 

Into the fire and Ice I go

(1)

I want to exorcise the demons from [my] past, but where would I even begin such an exercise? These demons, no doubt, have made me who I am.  Into the eternal darkness, into the fire and into the ice I go.  Walk with me now.

(2)

In the cinema there’s a girl. I sit next to her. I steal a glance and suddenly recognise her. She used to work three cubicles down from me. She looks at me suspiciously, I say “It’s me, Clay.” I place my hand upon her knee and break down crying. A grown man weeping.

(3)

I found out today that the trolls are winning. And that made me sad.

(4)

“I’m not an idiot,” the artist confided in an interview. “I know that people are mostly interested in it because it’s David Bowie. But I think it’s still a valid artwork.”

 

(5)

Let’s explore the seven deadly sins starting with ANGER:

1. Who did you last get angry with?
2. What is your weapon of choice?
3. Would you hit a member of the opposite sex?
4. How about of the same sex?
5. Who was the last person who got really angry at you?
6. What is your pet peeve?
7. Do you keep grudges, or can you let them go easily?

(6)

It’s been a fairly standard day. Typical Monday. Cold, grey, and wet. Hanging out with the lawyers today. Spent most of the day designing a piece of micro-learning content using Microsoft Sway, a program up until last week, I had never heard of, even though it’s been out since 2014. It’s not bad if you want to knock up a quick and basic multimedia story to deploy via the Web. Control over the design is limited so if you like tinkering with the final look and feel of your presentation, you probably won’t enjoy Sway all that much.

(7)

Why are there so many mopeds in VietnamItaly’s first black senator. And The history of the Chinese typewriter. Because I knew you’d want to know such things.

The mere possibility

I stumbled upon this quote from The Alchemist , one of my favourite books from Paulo Coelho:

“The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul of the ordinary person with guilt. We look around at all those who have failed to get what they want and feel that we do not deserve to get what we want either. We forget about all the obstacles we overcome, all the suffering we endured, all the thing we had to give up in order to get this far. I have known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reached their goal when it was only a step away.”

While I haven’t stopped myself from doing something because I felt I didn’t deserve it, I have stopped myself from doing stuff that meant a lot to me. I was afraid if I tried and people said I sucked at it, then my sense of self and self worth would be shattered.  I also didn’t know who I’d be if I didn’t have this thing, so by keeping it to myself, nobody could take it away from me by telling me I was no good at it. I know that sounds a bit cryptic, but the details aren’t important. What’s important is I had to take the risk of failure in order to get what I wanted.

The tool that helped me get through this was Robert Dilt’s Logical Levels*. I was holding on to the belief that what I do is who I am. In other words, my identity was bound up in what I did for a living. That caused me no end of angst! But the Logical Levels helped me get through it.

The Logical Levels break down like this:

Mission & Vision 
Where you are going with your life? With which people?  Which activities and placesare central to this vision for your life/future – and, perhaps, the contribution you intend to make to the world.

Identity 
The self esteem level. Your sense of self, what you identify with, etc. This can include identifying with your job, marriage, religion, etc. it can also include how you interpret events in terms of your own self-worth.

Beliefs & Values
Whether you believe something is possible or impossible, whether you believe it is necessary or unnecessary, whether or not you feel motivated about it. How your personal Values support or hinder you.

Capability & Skills 
These are your ‘internal behaviours’. The level of innate capabilities and learned skills which you have for dealing with life situations – and how effectively you use these.

Behaviour 
Your actions – externally observable behaviours, posture, movements, etc. including what an observer would see or hear or feel when you are engaged in a particular activity.

Environment 
Your surroundings: the people and places etc that you are interacting with, and responding to, when you are engaged in a particular activity.

If you find yourself mentally stuck, this is a great model to use to get yourself unstuck. It works by helping you figure out which of the subsystems of your brain structure are holding you back. Hear Robert Dilts explain it.


*The notion of logical levels refers to the fact that some processes and phenomena are created by the relationships between other processes and phenomena. Any system of activity is a subsystem embedded inside of another system, which is embedded inside of another system, and so on. This kind of relationship between systems produces different levels of processes, relative to the system in which one is operating. Our brain structure, language, and social systems form natural hierarchies or levels of processes. Link


Oh and here’s a clever video edit of several of Simon Sinek’s presentation into one 14 minute long video on leadership and being a leader. I’m planning on sharing in a team session i’m leading tomorrow. I love the question: “why should anybody follow you?”

Between two thoughts

I often ponder the question “who am I between two thoughts?” We have between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot of noise! So when you have that fraction of a second when there is no noise, who are you? In other words, who is the “I” thinking all of those thousands of thoughts?

Altered states

It has only taken me 38 years, but I finally made it into a flotation tank. Why 38? Well 38 years ago (damn!I know..) I saw the movie Altered States starring William Hurt, Blair Brown and Bob Balaban. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a Harvard scientist who conducts experiments on himself with a hallucinatory drug and an isolation chamber. The movie was very trippy and for a 12 year old boy with an over active imagination it was fascinating.

Eddie Jessup : “I was *in* that ultimate moment of terror that is the beginning of life. It is nothing. Simple, hideous nothing. The final truth of all things is that there is no final Truth. Truth is what’s transitory. It’s human life that is real. I don’t want to frighten you, Emily, but what I’m trying to tell you is that moment of terror is a real and living horror, living and growing within me now, and the only thing that keeps it from devouring me is you.”

This is what I wanted to achieve in the tank:

I tried to achieve the same results in the bathtub when i was 12, but no dice! And ever since then I’ve wanted to get in a floatation tank and alter my state to the same standard as Eddie Jessup.

So it was with much excited that I headed up to Nottingham to visit Calm Waters and have a go in their flotation tank (it was more like a space pod though):

The experience was much as they describe on their website:

Floating weightlessly your body is perfectly supported by a cushion of silky, skin-temperature Epsom Salt solution. Freed from all sensation of gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound you conserve and redirect vast amounts of natural physical and mental energy, and with little to do, the brain begins to slow down and relax….Every single muscle in the body is allowed to totally relax, with ear plugs in and, if you wish, the tank’s interior lights off, the quietness and the darkness allow the mind to drift into the deepest state of relaxation possible.

And while it was deeply relaxing, I didn’t go as deep as Eddie Jessup, so slightly disappointed. But, as I was writing this up, I realised I missed out a key ingredient – hallucinogenics. Will have to try that next time.

Anyway, from my Facebook post, it appears a number of people have been meaning to try floatation.  Maybe not for the same reasons as me, but for the relaxation, and for that I can highly recommend the experience.

via GIPHY