How people learn to be normal

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There’s a guy outside my window.  He’s playing with his kids, or grandkids, or whatever they are.  They’re making hot dogs.  The kid suggests that they put radishes on them—he wants a radish for his hot dog.  The normalized, old man says: “Uhhh..is that what you put on hot dogs?  Is that what you do?” in this kindof derisive way.  That’s how people learn to be normal..by fear, created by other human beings for their own convenience.  I’m resisting the urge to yell out my window how this guy is fucking up these kids, but he is, and he is—that type of action is—everything that’s wrong with the world.

Far from feeling depleted,

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after writing 100,000 words so far this year, and a trashload last year..far from feeling depleted, I feel charged, I feel poised, I feel a real freedom from having told some of my stories.  And even though in a way writing is painting yourself into a corner, because you don’t want to write the same thing twice, I’m finding right now that I feel an incredible openness and possibility spread out for me.  In terms of specific writing, yes, I’ve written a few things, and I’m not going to write those again, but instead of feeling out of ideas, I feel like the more that passes through me, the more that could.  Oddly for me, I find my ability or perception of ability to write and create new things to be greater now than it ever has been.

I like this feeling very much.

It is, truly, the feeling of fertility.  Rich soil.  Dirt that can grow life.

I am in a total bind in the ways of the world: no job, and scarcely a call back from places I’ve applied.  Fuck all that.  I’m not going back: I’m going forward.  As the ancient advice suggests, instead of stepping away from the cliff, I’m taking another step toward it..and I’ll fight my battles from there, make my camp up next to death itself and benefit from the lack of options, and the impossibility of retreat.

Are we here to suffer (as the globe continues to), to hurt constantly (as I have in some relationships), to starve intellectually and spiritually (as I have at work and in school)..no, we are not here for that.  In opposition to the common thinking of most of our human structure, we’re here to approach ****ing bliss.  I think that in concrete ways idealism is more solid a discipline than what we call realism.  Strap on your motherfucking Annie attitude.  I’m strapping on mine.

And I’m keeping on making things, in a world of fraud and murder and fear, very simply because that’s what I was built to do.

So fuck the fear.

What do I have to give?  That is the question I’m asking myself in this moment.  What reality do I want to be creating?

I’ve been systemically called naive by fearful people (and, frankly, by unintelligent people).  "Crazy.“  Yeah?  I think it’s crazy to live days with regret, to die that way.  To lie constantly.  I’m schluffing you off—I’m schluffing you off my back so I don’t have to carry dead weight (no hate to you—and every goodbye).  And I’m schluffing off my own lies, where I have had them.  You die the way you live.  The day you die will be like the days you lived.  Am I going to live, and die, in fear, hiding myself from myself, hiding myself from you?  No.  You do it however you want.  I’m going to die laughing.

Least common denominator conformity

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I hesitate to use the word “conformity” because talk of non-conformity sounds so adolescent.  But it’s the right word.

I’ve read some terrible writing advice lately.  Who am I to say it’s terrible?  Ok, let’s say I’ve read some terrible life advice lately.  I’m not responding in the comments of those sites, because I’m not in the debate business anymore.  I am still squarely in the business of self-reflection, however, so I’m pausing for a few minutes from my novel writing to write some words here about this fear-oriented, conformist, LCD meme that’s been popping up on my streams.

The meme is this: don’t offend anyone.  If something is unusual, don’t do it.  Don’t stand out.

We’re not talking about content, even, in writing or in life.  We’re talking about wearing a suit.  Don’t do anything that might offend or turn off a potential literary agent.  Don’t take yourself seriously enough to allow definition of your self.

I can almost cry thinking of people taking this advice.

To offer it up, is to have never known, or to have forgotten, any history.  Let’s keep it real: did Jesus have a path?  Did any writer who we still talk about?  No.  They couldn’t—essentially—just go to yoga classes and learn yoga.  They had to walk a new path.  No one’s saying we should all be historically-significant prophets, or any other kind of figure.  But we can each be a little bit of a trailblazer.

The level of fear present in my society—the society I live in—is tragic.  It’s nothing short of tragic.

Every day, I listen to my friend tell me how she is afraid to tell the truth to her boss because she is afraid of losing her job.  To tell the truth!  To simply say what she, and likely her boss, simply know is true.  That is reason enough for the fearful, crippled CEOs of today’s 1st world economies, to fire someone, to kill a career.  Is disagreeing with the popular mass trends, politically, enough to scare off a publishing house?

Lol.  If it is, fuck publishing.

I don’t personally believe in a heaven, so I think this life is my only shot to be “me”, to “do”, to operate the ego construct that we all loosely agree is a person.  How can you waste your time here in fear..by holding your real thoughts to yourself?  It’s—and you’re talking with an atheist here—it’s a sin to not give of your real self..to hold back your real individual value!!  It’s the worst crime against life, against the concept of the individual, that there is.

To me it’s not unwise not to wear a suit when, in order to fit in, economically, politically, howeverly, wearing a suit is required.  Those wearing suits are quite final in their exclusion of those who question wearing suits—I’m intimately learned of that dynamic.

I get it.

And from my point of view, it’s entirely silly to live your life in fear.  For me, I’ll just say: to live my life in fear.  It doesn’t make sense.  And here, I don’t mean this in some fru-fru mystic sense..I mean in terms of cost-benefit analysis.  Maybe for some people, their fear is so great, that the pittance they receive from social acceptance is worth the tradeoff of silencing their souls.  For me that is not the case.  For me, what I get in return, from acceptance—even economic acceptance which allows me to survive—that payment is not worth the cost of silencing my own, real perspective.

I don’t understand the other way of seeing it and I have never heard an explanation of why one would make this cost-benefit analysis differently..except fear.  Except that the person making the analysis has chosen—and it is a choice—to continue to accept fear as a part of their life.  To allow other people to control them and use them, via fear.

Fuck the fear!

(A tweep and I arrived at this crass little adage months ago in a conversation about writing.)

Will we get published?  Can any of us expect to make money doing this?  Who knows?  Who cares.  Take a step back: if you’re doing something that you believe in, that makes sense to your cognition, and the publishing industry spurns you until and beyond your death—who cares.  (If your writing is consistent with publisher aims, and you’re being true to yourself..then the former is incidental.  If your writing is inconsistent with publisher aims, and you’re being true to yourself..then the former is still incidental!  Neither reflects [positively or negatively] on you.)

What kind of short-sighted, base, senseless logic does one possess to come to the conclusion that living one’s life to please others, makes sense?  Don’t you see that other people’s praise is their most deceptive form of manipulation??  To conform yourself to fit the shape of an industry’s praise, or an individual’s praise..is terrible strategy.

Take it to the extreme: what if everyone did that?  We’d have the absolute lowest common denominator of creation, of insight, of invention, of value and flavor of our cultural species.

I’m scared shitless, but I’m not letting that stop me.  You know?

I risked physical danger and probably destroyed my software consulting career whistle-blowing a fraudulent business/government axis..because it’s the right motherfucking thing to do.  I don’t trust my government not to kill me (or unjustly spy on or watchlist me) for calling someone on fraud..because I’ve read a tiny bit of history and I know we have a history of covertly killing people to silence them.  I don’t trust my next employer to operate above-board, to treat me fairly, to tell me the truth; I don’t trust them not to end my career for simply doing my job..for telling them technical truths in fields in which I am more the expert than they.

I don’t believe that the best way to ingratiate myself with literary agents is by sending them query letters in the first person, as the character of the book I am pitching.  All the query letter books advise against it.  But I think it’s the best way to pitch Things Said in Dreams—because it has a nameless narrator.  Because the voice is central to the value of that text.

I’m not going to keep to myself my highly-logical, but unpopular opinion that censoring a pedophilia how-to book is not the most effective way to marshall resources in order to combat pedophilia—even though sloppy thinkers will quickly unfollow and otherwise distance themselves from someone not conspicuously waving this particular book-burning flag they have embraced.

Nor am I going to pretend that I have to be quiet when I read a so-called “literary agent”’s “list” and what they’re looking for is merely material that doesn’t say anything offensive against their pathetic impressions of some kind of neutered, conformist god.  If you’re a literary agent who wishes I was kissing the ass of pseudo-spiritual “literary” agents who only rep. Christian books, and you won’t represent me because of that..then I dodged a bullet.

Am I stupid?

Or am I being self-consistent.

If you’re always conforming to other people’s advice..then who are you?  You are—and no offense here, but you are—nothing if you do that.

I’m not advocating nonconformity for nonconformity’s sake, but holy shit, what have we come to as a human culture when we’re so god-damn afraid that we cease to be ourselves.

That’s a failing.

I don’t accept it in myself, and no, I don’t accept it in you.  When you catch me dulling down my flavor, you better call me on it.  When I feel like it, and in the most supportive way, I will be doing the same for those I care about, and those who are listening.