vostoklake: (plath)
When you finally realise that you have no control over outcomes, only your own actions - and that only marginally, over the top of bad habits, avoidance patterns, and the rules of your personal identity game - you understand that you only have what you give away, and that any action must be meaningful in itself. Then the goal of survival as a living creature becomes the question of what goal you survive for - or, in other words, which fire you will walk into, as a sacrifice to What Really Matters.


Oct. 21st, 2013 01:00 pm
vostoklake: (emo)
 Once more I found myself transported to the house in outer-suburban Wellington where I grew up, where I have recurring dreams of punishment, humiliation and shame. But this time - instead of it being inhabited by my family members and other demons - it was totally empty. I got the strong feeling of: "They've all gone now. This place belongs to me."
vostoklake: (emo)
I'm not sure whether my childhood belief that I had a Mission In This World was simply a reaction to the constant bullying and abuse from family, teachers and peers telling me that I was useless and worthless because I didn't fit in. Of course, that's what all the TV programmes and books marketed at my demographic wanted to tell me - that That Little Kid Who Nobody Liked would one day save the day because of hir speshul sekrit talents. It's an interesting myth.

But perhaps it was just that - given my cognitive abnormalities and social "special needs" status - I knew that I couldn't succeed in This World unless I accepted the mores of this world. Don't be different. Fit in. Don't talk about things that confuse or scare other people. Don't draw attention to yourself. Above all, do what you're told even if it's stupid or the people telling you to do so are evil.

So, out of the combination of all of the above - and a fortutious layoff - I went freelance. How wonderful! Don't have to leave the house when I don't want to! Don't have to talk to humans for days on end if I don't want to! I can turn down any work which is morally offensive or just inconvenient! And - most importantly - I am no longer tied to one place or one timetable! So, when the heavens open and the Angels descend and tell me what my Mission In This World is - or if I just find a more interesting project - I'll be able to get right onto it with a minimum of sacrifice.

... yeah. Minimum of sacrifice. Should have thought about that one. "Minimum of sacrifice" means not having anything in the first place. Being independent means being totally responsible. No-one's going to help you market or tell you what to do. So you're stuck at the limits of your own personality - the only way you can achieve your goals is to take responsibility and go out and bust your ass to achieve them.

And at the moment, I absolutely hate it. Oh, the idea of a "portfolio career" - a bit of indexing here, a bit of translation there, hopefully someone pays me for my weird music or my abstruse communist cultural-studies ramblings - sounds enticing. But when you declare independence from the Prince of This World, that means this world ceases to care whether you live or die.

As Tony James found when he started Sigue Sigue Sputnik, telling the mass market that it's run by the stupid, the greedy and the plain sociopathic, is not a recipe for success in the mass market over the long run. The idea that freedom is freedom to starve, and success means accomodating with the Powers that Be, is still scary for someone who was brought up to both hate and fear conformity and power.

So I'm precisely where I've always wanted to be - free. But that also means poor and excluded. It means not being able to consume those delicious leisure commodities that all your peers are, unless you make a Faustian bargain with the Demons of Credit. The problem is that some people are tough enough to go into the belly of the beast and survive - to work for The Man and make money for him while still building up revolt in secret. I'm not. My skin is still too thin.

My response to confrontation is still the response of the hypervigilant, abused child - either hide, run away, or scream obscenities until they drag you away. I'm the kind who has to live in the woods outside the village rather than pay fealty to the local landlord. And being Robin Hood isn't so much fun when you don't have a crew of Merry Men.

I have to find some way that I can re-engage with the world on a level where I can keep my integrity and yet still be "inside" it. "Working in the market place but refusing to live by its dictates", as Robert Fripp put it - "in the world but not of it", as I think Paul of Tarsus put it. Either that, or accept being the crazy guy in the corner who no-one talks to, forever.


vostoklake: (plath)
I have, for my entire life "as myself" (i.e. as long as I was aware of myself as an individual), been motivated by great feelings of shame.

Shame of my cognitive abnormalities which make it difficult for me to read others' emotions, or empathize, or engage in conversation on subjects not in my narrow sphere of interest. Shame at my own biology - my desires for food and sex repressed, guiltily indulged in, self-punished for. Shame at not being able to behave properly in the way that family and teachers expected and needed - of being embarrassing and annoying all the time, of never bringing pride or joy to those around me, only anger. Shame at not being like others, not having the same desires and goals as others... internalising the description of "snob" or "elitist" because I didn't enjoy other people's social games.

Shame at the ways I learnt to survive in the face of all of this - hiding, learning to give off the impression of complete Spock-like uninterest in human beings and their shenanigans, accepting the attendant fate of a deep, bone-chilling loneliness... occasionally, in the face of unmanageable stress, descending into manipulation, verbal abuse, violence, just in order to be able to punish just one person for everyone else who'd ever kicked a hole in my boundaries, who'd used me, who'd treated me as unqualified for the dignity of "fellow human being", who'd told me that I could only ever be loved or accepted if I gave up that tiny, internal place of individuality I'd carved for myself - carved with my music, with the haunting words, with the belief that the world could and should be different.

Shame at the extent that I did become a hater, a snob, and an elitist, as a reaction to the voices screaming that I was a failure as a human being. Shame for desperately desiring the money and fame that come with success in this world, to make up for being broken, unvalued and held in contempt by my peers... And shame for never having succeeded in it.

Shame for all the times I sold my own integrity out in order to try to make other people like me.

It's not that I don't like people. It's that it's my experience that I am judged and found wanting not only by the "masses", but by all the little self-appointed intellectual, ideological or political vanguards in which I believed I might be able to find a place where I could be useful. I hide from you because for me, being social means "pretending to be normal", and that takes so much very very hard work.

I have been blessed that just recently I think I have found a small area where I can be myself as an individual without (so much) fear. But what I feel that I need to make my life worthwhile is to find a place where my work - my music, my storytelling, my attempt to marry non-dualist spirituality and revolutionary socialism to inform the first two - will be considered valuable. I feel most pain at the idea that nothing I do is worth anything to the world.

vostoklake: (plath)
 When I was 12, my mother shoved a book under my nose with the title Be Happy! She angrily insisted to me that my negative moods and depression were sheer laziness, an attempt to blackmail attention and favours from people with a “poor me syndrome”. She expected me to make a free choice to be happy so I would stop annoying her, and stop being embarrassing to other people.


So after 25 or so years of feeling guilty about being negative, pessimistic and depressed, I have to say – to hell with that. Yes, I make a choice to be negative, to live within limits of low expectations. This is how I stay safe. This is how I stay protected from that realization that the world sees right through you and it only lets you have what it doesn’t feel like taking away right now.


The things I remember most from my childhood are having all my agency stripped away, of having it made clear that nothing, not my self-esteem, not my physical integrity, certainly not any possessions, could be defended if someone bigger and stronger got annoyed with me. But that hurts much, much less if you learn to live with having nothing, being nothing, deserving nothing.


I’m giving up any ambitions for myself, except that that I hope I can be useful to someone, somewhere. But this one thing is still my own – my right not to be happy, my right to say no, to refuse to accept that everything is for the best, to refuse to try, to refuse to run the risk of failure, to refuse to let the skin-ripped-off, self-disgusted feelings of the abused child surface again.


Yes, you’re absolutely right, my world is horrible because of my negative attitude, my selfishness in refusing to adopt the sunny attitude which would make me much more pleasant for others to be around. But at least it’s my world, not yours. I could not survive in your world without ceasing to be me. I refuse to even try any more.

vostoklake: (KATE)
After I sorted out my, er, personal orientation issues at the turn of the milennium, I began pushing towards what I considered the next phase of my life - doing something that would contribute in a serious and permanent way to making the world a better place, and (not incidentally) gaining a serious measure of renown, professional respect and material possessions. To this was added very strongly ingrained messages from my childhood that I was unpleasant and repulsive in a number of ways, and only by achieving something big would I ever have anything to show for my miserable life.

So I kept rolling the dice, hoping that this time I had something that would allow me to think that my life had some kind of meaning. I got involved in revolutionary politics, believing that I was going to be at the spearhead of overthrowing capitalism in Aotearoa. Later, I moved to Auckland because I thought it was where I needed to be to make that happen. I got a PhD, thinking that this opened the door to a guaranteed career in academia, from which I would be able to make breakthrough research in culture and ideology. I struck out with Vostok Lake, my "weightless music" prog-darkwave act, believing that there was a niche market there just waiting to be tapped for a bitter intellectual being sarcastic behind a bunch of keyboards. I co-founded the Electric Salon in a similar belief that there was dozens of similar acts out there who just needed a logo and a place to play.

I was wrong. ("I was wrong to ever doubt / I could do along without...") Admittedly there was one thing I was involved in that has made a small and permanent difference - Au Contraire.  (Some might also argue that Chaos Marxism has had a tiny but non-negligible effect on those interested in such things.) And, of course I learned a lot and became a better person, found a way to support myself, found my future wife.

But... I never actually made anything real happen in the world that mattered to a lot of people and changed things. I never made that One Big Achievement that I could use as proof that I deserved to be alive, that all the hurt I suffered and caused was worthwhile. Perhaps I thought I was entitled to that kind of success, because the belief in it was what kept me going through all the years when having a Big Brain was a liability rather than an asset. But life is certainly what happens when you're busy making other plans.

For whatever I do with the rest of my life, it will have to be because it's worth doing in itself, or that it actually fills a niche that people want, rather than this square peg attempting to hammer her way into round holes with brute force. Hmmm. That came out wrong. But... I know my intensity and anger scares off potential collaborators. And so much of that is frustration and self-hatred that I "need" to do something great and I am continually frustrated in that aim. Perhaps it's time to relax.

vostoklake: (lolassrape)
What happened to me here:

  • My body feels like a system now, rather than a bunch of meat objects held together by strings.
  • My face was the only part of me not massaged, and now it feels all heavy and weird.
  • The masseuse had to rub like billy-oh on my upper neck and shoulder blades (both sides). It would make sense that someone who lived in her head for most of her life would put so much effort into keeping her head rigid and immobile.
  • I could feel that my ego didn't want some of that tension to go away. The Reichian idea of "character armour" just became real to me.
  • They had a book on the Alexander Technique in reception, which seems like a positive synchronicity. On the other hand, the proprietor had many impressive-looking diplomas from "Life University", which didn't impress me much. I remember when I got my tattoo, and the artist had a diploma from "the National Tattoo Club of the World", which looked even sillier.
vostoklake: (commie)
All right, so last night I had the strangest dream, but this isn't a State Insurance ad.

A political leader called a few hundred people together and announced "HOLY CRAP eco-catastrophe is getting out of control. The town where we live will be underwater in less than a week! Luckily, I have charted a new form of flying vessel that can get us all to our new home on safely elevated land in just a couple of hours."

So we were all lined up in the chilly cold night, hundreds of us, waiting to get into something that looked like a six-storey ambulance. (Don't laugh, this is how my subconscious works.) We were all squashed in very, very tight. I remember getting to the head of the queue, then climbing up a long metal ladder until I was just behind the cockpit.)

We took off, and the flight was amazing. It clearly wasn't along the ground, as the various twists and turns and 80-degree dips proved. We were actually flying. Through the air. To our new and better home...

... and then I found myself flying a paper aeroplane through a large cafeteria-like place, making "zoom zoom" noise. I stopped in front of the political leader, who said "well done". It turned out there was no eco-catastrophe, and no flying vessel, and we hadn't gone anywhere. He had just hypnotised us to think there was, to "make the danger of eco-catastrophe more real". And to encourage us to donate to his political cause.

So there was a party afterwards and I was talking to several people who said: "Oh well, that was fun while it lasted, and it certainly got us excited for the political work ahead."

"But he lied to us," I said.

"Well, it was in a good cause and we got excited!"

"Yes, but he LIED to us," I said.

"Hush! Someone might tell him you said that and you'll be in trouble."

And then a fight broke out among a bunch of crust-punks in the carpark, and I woke up.

I wonder who can riddle me the Secret Message of this dream.

vostoklake: (emeter)
Now I know the German spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle was recommended by Oprah, but don't hold that against him. I am finding his idea of the painbody very useful. Simply put, the "painbody" is all the "memories in boxes which you store against the light", all the past pain you didn't or couldn't deal with, turned into a kind of semi-independent subpersonality. It then comes to the surface to feed occasionally - i.e. get a fix of more pain by messing up your life, starting fights, making you do things you don't want to.

Tolle suggests also that you can't fight the painbody because that just makes it stronger, like the Tarbaby in the classic Uncle Remus tale. The only way to deal with it is: 1) "keep in your own valence", as the Scientologists would put it, i.e. stay in your preferred personality - remember that you are not it and just because it's yelling something at you doesn't mean it's real; 2) express love and caring for it, empathise with its pain, until it goes away again, hopefully one "pain-measure" smaller than it used to be. #1 is very difficult unless you've done sufficient "sitting on the floor" practice to have a viewpoint which doesn't automatically assume every feeling or thought charging through your brainpan is real.

I have done enough sitting on the floor to realise that I have a permanent "tightness in my chest" - a permanent anxiety that something terrible is going to happen because of something I've done or forgotten to do. So that's the main manifestation of my painbody when it's in its more dormant state.

So many of our neuroses, compulsions, rules of behaviour are, in this metaphor, ways to avoid encounters with the painbody. In my case, I tried to avoid the pain of being a social outcast and "bad child" by having fantasies of being an acclaimed genius beloved by all. I managed to make two things I love - my music and my politics - into painful things by insisting that the goal was to become a Rock Star or a Revolutionary Hero and thereby make people admire me. Now I realise that I can't avoid the painbody that way, the question comes... what will motivate me in the future to make music or fight for a better world? I'm waiting until an answer to those comes up.

vostoklake: (commie)
(hat-tip to John A. Lee for the title)

At the time when John Rees was losing a power struggle in the Socialist Workers Party (Britain) of which he'd been a central if not the central leader for more than a decade, and consequently quitting to start his own socialist party, with blackjack, and hookers, stories started being openly spoken of about a pattern of terrible behaviour on his part, going on for ages. (But isn't that always the way? Sometimes the only time a victim can kick their abuser is when they've lost a power struggle with someone else who's not necessarily any better. And then the New Boss uses the victim stories to justify the purge of the Old Boss. Witness the kangaroo trial of Bill Logan by the Sparts, 1979.)

So anyway, the brilliant if eccentric Irish-socialist-Catholic blogger Splintered Sunrise spoke of Comrade Rees thus:

I stick to my position that he’s basically a high-functioning sociopath, and would further point out his tremendous vanity, which explains the explosive reaction when (George) Galloway suggested he could do with someone to work alongside him. His ability to switch from being utterly charming when you’re of use to him, to petulant and spiteful if you get in his way, gives you some clues as to why he’s quite good at putting an alliance together, but a fucking liability if you want to keep one together. So his eventual defenestration shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
Emphasis added. Note also that one of Rees' biggest blunders was accepting a dodgy cheque from a Dubai construction firm, then he or his allies suggesting that people who complained about this were "submitting to the bourgeois legal system" and going on about Lenin taking gold from the Kaiser. In other words: it's okay if you're a revolutionary socialist. (There are also rumours about atrocious behaviour towards the women in his life, which I won't comment on because I'm far outside the loop on that issue.)

Anyway, The issue I want to discuss is "high-functioning sociopaths", or people of similar personality traits, who feel entitled to burn humans as fuel in their personal quest, either because they really think we're in wartime and the stakes of survival are so high that issues of decency no longer apply, or because that's just the way they roll. I am in particular thinking of a prominent figure on the NZ radical left who used to be in the same organisation as me. A man of quite massive political talents - once described as "one of the top 10 agitators on the whole planet". This guy could start a picket line in an empty room.

This was also the man who would invite me out drinking with him, and then turn into what can technically be described as a raging asshole, boorishly gatecrashing parties he hadn't been invited to. I remember once when I tried to stop him doing this, he fixed an unsteady gaze on me, and said with the deepest contempt: "I don't care about you." "Never thought you did," I muttered resignedly as I turned around and went home.

There was also the time this comrade let out a screaming tirade of abuse to me, in the car in which I had just given him a lift home, for "acting the victim" when I was complaining about a sharp "turn" in our organisation's tactics which made me feel stupid for having spent the last year or three doing precisely the opposite. Funnily enough, I spent the day miserable for having "provoked" him, and felt huge relief when meeting him later that evening, he didn't seem to remember the incident at all. 

Let me explain the thought patterns which went through my head: this man is a great revolutionary. You are weak and useless. Even though you try to be friendly and helpful, you're a social outcast. In contrast, this man is a drunken boor and yet he's incredibly popular and respected because he's so good at what he does. You don't have any rights to judge this man. Be quiet and maybe you'll be allowed to be in his presence some more.

Quite soon afterwards, this man went on a drunken rampage (at a party I'd left, so this is second-hand) and was reported to have acted violently towards both male and female comrades. Our leadership voted to suspend him from his position, a decision which he accepted. To his credit, this man no longer drinks and I have never heard of him behaving in a personally abusive way ever since.

(I should also notice, though, that another member of our leadership, who had been out of the country at the time, criticised us for "witchhunting", saying "this man has done more to bring women into the organisation than anyone else!" This is the kind of "ethics" as practiced by the Church of Scientology - L. Ron Hubbard said that a staff member who was doing great business could literally get away with murder, while someone whose stats were down wouldn't be allowed to sneeze without written permission.)

And yet ... this man is now the leader of a political organisation involving a number of leading comrades who - credible testimony suggests - have acted in atrocious ways towards women. The "internal" position of his organisation is apparently that these are politically motivated slanders; and they have acted to exclude comrades who didn't buy that explanation. It does not seem far-fetched to argue that this "soft-pedaling" of macho abusive behaviour may be related to the organisation's adventurist, confrontational, every-demo-is-The-Battle-Of-Wherever politics. I remember one conversation I had with this group's leader, who was amazed to hear that I wasn't a natural rebel, that I had spent my whole life trying to conform but failing. (Indeed, perhaps I only got into revolutionary politics looking for a new peer group to submit to.)

To be 100% clear - it should be obvious to everyone on the Auckland left, at least, whom I'm talking about. I am not actually accusing this person of being a sociopath. I still consider him a comrade and a valued acquaintance, if not a friend. But I am worried at the pattern of behaviour of his organisation; and I am extremely critical of myself for having taken so much shit because I thought that that was my place as "not as good an activist". This is not me trying to start a witchhunt - this is me, looking in horror at how many times I sold out my personal integrity because I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be good.

vostoklake: (emeter)
I could never understand those people who are "natural rebels" - whose instant response to being told to do something is to do the opposite. The way I survived my entire life was to do what I was told - in public, at least. I would never want to be bad where anyone else could see - punishment and disapproval was the worst thing that could happen. But I could gratify my desires in private, in hiding, in shame and self-hatred.

In his autobiography, Malcolm X said that the hardest part about becoming a Muslim was going down on his knees in prayer, after a lifetime showing everyone he couldn't be pushed around. That could never have been a problem for me. I would go down on my knees in front of Joe Stalin if I thought I could get personal advantage out of it. I've spent a lifetime learning to be a hypocrite and a people-pleaser, because it meant that "the real me" could continue to exist in an internal closet, unseen and unmolested.

Even into adulthood - and in my political activism - I let myself be pushed around and used by the kind of political operators who use keen, devoted young radicals as fuel for their personal schemes. I have so wanted to be good all my life, to find some arena where I could be the "teacher's pet" (or the priests', or the General Secretary's). This is why people join cults, of course. I've never been in a cult but I have ended up trading my personal integrity to dominant personalities, many a time, in return for a feeling that I was "being good".

The underlying theory behind this behaviour pattern is that I could only get what I wanted by the grace of some Big Parent figure who would reward me with all my secret desires, in return for obedience. I had a horrible childhood of wanting to be good but never managing it. Can you understand that? Wanting to be good but having something "bad" inside me which always sabotaged things.

Well, a lifetime of trying to be good so someone else would tell me that I was allowed to continue to exist hasn't worked. Perhaps I'm just going to have to own my own desires and be myself - even if it does mean that other people will despise and try to destroy me. Perhaps I could even learn to protect myself.

vostoklake: (emeter)
I have trouble with the concept of grace, and its close cousin, forgiveness. I am, as most of you will know, a control freak. To quote the board of the Very Big Corporation from Monty Python's Meaning of Life, I am continuously disturbed by how much of the universe doesn't recognize me as its overlord yet.

*ahem* Yeah, it sounds hilarious now, but for most of my life I was bedeviled with the idea that a) becoming such an important person in the world that I could change it by my own efforts of will was not only possible, but indeed the only hope for a future; b) that if I didn't do so the world was doomed and I personally would probably end up on a street corner with a sign saying WILL DROP PANTS FOR FOOD, if not dead or behind bars.

Todd Rundgren appears to have hit this stage by the time of his Initiation album - "I can't let the world die / because no-one would try". This of course was the outcome of growing up as something of a "child prodigy" in a very chaotic and emotionally unsafe environment, of being told that just about everything bad that happened was my fault and that it would stop happening if I could just be good. Of course, I could never be good enough. (Todd Rundgren was of course also a prodigy.) For a long time I preferred to believe that I was "bad" inside, because the idea of being a good person who sometimes did things which hurt others was intolerable. I would have to ask for forgiveness, an unforgivable weakness which would never be forthcoming. Far better to have a fantasy of control, where I could always make my life worse whereas making my life better required risk. "You know where you stand in a hellhole", indeed.

Grace and forgiveness are both concepts which are based on a fundamental relinquishing of control. They are based on the idea that you just can't make the world, or even your portion of it, "right" by your own efforts. If you've done something wrong, and you know it (and who hasn't?), and you can't personally put it right, all you can hope is that the person you've wronged, or God, or the credit card company or the District Attorney, will decide that you don't have to pay the debt you ran up. Otherwise, you will have to deal with the consequences forever and there ain't nothing you can do about it.

But believing in things like grace or forgiveness are the only things which make what we would know as revolutionary action possible. Believing that you are not necessarily to blame if things go wrong makes it tolerable for things to go wrong. Being able to handle the fact that you ballsed things up and possibly made things worse is the only thing that makes it possible to handle ballsing things up. And it's the only way that one can handle love. Control issues in relationships kill the heart-opening bliss quicker than anything. If you understand that you can't change your partner, that's one step; the next is understanding that you can't change yourself any more than you can lift yourself up by your bootstraps. Of course you can always change your behaviour, but that's not the same thing.

It's always better to act than not to act, because acting at least allows the possibility that Grace might enter the world, that we might actually be forgiven our debts as we forgive our debtors.

Here's what Robert Fripp has to say on the subject (scroll down to where he starts talking about the Chief Rabbi).
vostoklake: (emo)
I have been motivated so long by a sheer horror of the concept that anyone might disapprove of me. The rule was that I could only feel safe if everyone around me was completely uncritical and complimentary at all times. Which meant, of course, that I could never feel safe. The only goal of my whole life was, since no-one could possibly like me, to make all others admire me. Hence the perfectionism, the self-hatred for not being Noam Chomsky, Frank Zappa, Joan of Arc and Luke Skywalker all rolled into one.

This goes along with an overweening pride in my intellect. Not surprising, considering that the constant message all through my childhood was that my intellect was the only thing that wasn't completely foul and wrong about me. Add the two together: I thought it was my destiny to be the great genius who would single-handedly figure out what was wrong with the world and be revered as the Great Teacher by future generations.

The only solution is love; love for myself even if I fail or am despised, love for the world even with its cruelties.
vostoklake: (wayne)
I have had a lifelong habit of sinking into depression because I realised that my upbringing (to be absolutely blunt, the most classic case of "square peg in round hole" that could be imagined) had left me bereft of self-confidence or a set of behaviours which would enable me to function properly in the real world. One of the big issues there was a family and a school system which relentlessly concentrated in the ways that I was different and the things I had problems coping with, rather than my talents and strengths.

But the strength this has given me is - I don't need riches, or anything other than a bed to sleep on, a fridge full of groceries, an electric heater, a couple of cheap computers and synthesisers and a broadband connection, to carry out my plans for this world. I don't need to be "respected in society". I don't need tons and tons of friends. I am a lot freer, and I have a lot more choices, than people who have more invested in the World As It Is.

It's a good thing that I didn't end up with an academic career, or in a mainstream political party, or a band which sold big records. I went to school with the bass player from Shihad, and I remember an interview with that band's lead singer where he talked of the horror of having to play gigs in the US in 2003 which were recruiting for the military to go and shoot Arabs. I've never had to give up my integrity. So perhaps I can start intervening in the world in a way which is consonant with that integrity - rather than hiding from it to try to preserve myself.

I really hope I am finally arriving at a place where I realise that I don't need anyone's approval to be able to survive and be happy.
vostoklake: (commie)
The other week, I came to help out at a political street stall for the first time in ages. To my embarrassment, I was totally disabled by a full-blown panic attack - pulse pounding, hyperventilating, even difficult to open my eyes. The whole thing.

This didn't use to happen to me. I used to be able to happily stand behind a stall and hand out leaflets, even ask people to buy amateurishly but enthusiastically produced socialist newsletters. Sometimes they even said yes. So what went wrong?

extremely long and perhaps half-baked ponderings )

So, what am I left with? The strong conviction that - while anyone who doesn't attempt to fight for what is right at this point of planetary upheaval is pretty much a contributing factor to impending eco-social catastrophe - I am of no use to anyone in the struggle. That because of who I am, my particular strengths, weaknesses and background, I am unwanted by anyone or anything, except to the extent that I am prepared to offer myself as cheap or free labour for someone else's agenda.

Let's end by attempting to break out of the cycle of personalisation. Perhaps this isn't an issue for me, a question of my own personal weakness, of my own need to either "take a spoon of concrete and harden up" or simply admit my own uselessness to a struggle for a better world. Perhaps other people have similar experiences, and perhaps self-described groups of revolutionaries have to consider whom they might be excluding - to their detriment. On the other hand, perhaps I (as I am now) really am politically useless.
vostoklake: (otterly)
I dreamed last night that I was going exploring some deep, dark, dank tunnels underneath the place where I live. Eventually we got to a place where there was a huge underground river. The people I was with (mainly people I went to university with) happily stripped to their underwear and went swimming. I was kind of reluctant to put my head under the water, because I was worried it might be filthy and poisonous, but my companions encouraged me to relax and just let myself swim.

The interpretation of this dream should be clear to anyone who knows anything about transpersonal psychology. I have been getting in touch with very deep, powerful and clean parts of my psyche... but am still hanging back a bit from actually trusting what I've found.


My anger controls me still. To be more precise: the issue is not that I get angry, but the rational, adult part of my psyche has no control over what happens when I get angry. The time it takes the adult part of me to regain control has shortened from days to a few minutes in the last decade or so, but that's still long enough to - for example - say something hurtful to someone I love, to run in blind panic from a dangerous situation, or post something truly stupid on teh intarwebz.

The panic bit is possibly the most problematic. If you avoid scary things, then eventually the world will become one big scary thing, and my life is so much narrower and less lulzy/exciting than it could be precisely because I avoid situations where fear or anger might overwhelm me.
vostoklake: (lesbians? in my spaceship?)
It's 2 am.

Yesterday, I bought a DVD player and a backup drive, spent most of the afternoon playing BACKUP and spent most of this evening playing REFORMAT. (The crappy firmware in this shitty cheap DVD player requires that any USB drive you stick in it needs to actually be formatted by Windows, and no, FAT formatting in Linux doesn't count for some odd reason which wasted a bit of time. Then, I repartitioned my hard drive to avoid the bad sectors, a process that took hours. I passed the time by watching the first 8 episodes of Nurse Jackie.)

I also bought contents insurance yesterday. Yes, I'm doing a lot of "stuff" - stuff I should have done a long time ago, but always had too much "work". This is what to do when there is no indexing work. There will be, pretty soon, but "pretty soon" can't be narrowed down to anywhere near "within the next week or two".

I have some more "stuff" lined up - making my professional website prettier, and rearranging my files. Then after that... I dunno, I suppose I'll plug in my keyboards and start rehearsing for ELECTRIC SALON II - ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. All those things I couldn't do when I was snowed under with indexing.

I've got to learn more about this "executive function" stuff. If, as seems plausible, I'm mildly Aspie, one symptom of that is that I have problems either starting or stopping stuff at appropriate times. I refuse to stop a job until it's "properly finished" - even though keeping going is making me physically or emotionally sick. When the indexing work comes back in, one thing I'll have to do is mandate regular break times, and stick to them. Break times not only to do stuff like admin, or the dishes, but to look after myself. Perhaps I should start taking a proper lunch break, and outside of the house. Go and sit in a cafe in Ponsonby and watch the world go by. Avoid the Stir Crazies. Maybe meet people.

I just about killed myself in the first month of self-employment, mainly because I have been much harder on myself than any boss could ever be. But that's because I have always been used to somebody watching over me, taking responsibility for my well-being. What if the whole process of becoming self-employed means that I have to create a whole new kind of personality, that can not only do the job but look after myself?
vostoklake: (Default)
... that makes me feel alive, in my body, fully in the here-and-now. To some extent, even the minor injuries I get - today, scrapes all down my right leg from sliding along the rock-hard ground of Seddon Fields - are kind of pleasurable in a weird way. But although I'm generally nervous as all hell before a game - torturing myself with visions of bad mistakes - when I can get into it there is nothing more pleasurable than chasing after the ball, and if I get my hands/feet on it, doing something useful with it. It's more than just an exercise rush - I have no patience with exercise for its own sake. It's also the feeling of being part of a team, and the thrill of friendly but intense competition. The feeling when I actually beat a good player to the ball is wonderful.

The player marking me in yesterday's game said "you'll do anything to get the ball, won't you?" She meant it as a compliment, and I took it as one.
vostoklake: (emeter)
... to finally whip the anxiety demon, the little voice that tells me that I'm not good enough and therefore any decisions or work I do will not be good enough. It doesn't actually stop me doing anything cool, but it does cause me unnecessary hassle and grief while I'm gearing up to do cool things, including the urge to procrastinate ferociously.
vostoklake: (KATE)
I was recently privileged to read Iain Banks' Walking on Glass. One of the major characters is a paranoid schizophrenic fellow, who believes himself to be a superior being who fell captive in some metagalactic conflict and has been exiled on Earth as a punishment. You find out later that he might actually be right, but that's not the point here - the point is that his beliefs, while they give some structure to his reality, actually totally get in the way of being able to function properly on planet Earth. Basically, since he interprets everyone he comes across as either perpetrators of a giant conspiracy to keep him trapped on Earth, or witless dupes of that conspiracy, he can't have any friends or any honest communication, and his life is in a downward spiral (which of course proves that he's a superior being victimised by a conspiracy).

Which brings me to a criticism of that otherwise impeccable Gnostic-revolutionary film, The Matrix. The one thing that always "got" me about that movie was that the people who'd been awakened from the Matrix were licensed to kill as many normal humans as they saw fit (because they might turn into Hugo Weaving at any moment, and really death would be better than their illusory reality while living as batteries). It is said that the nafs (the self-perpetuating ego which has evolved as a defence mechanism to keep you alive and safe in this world but will try to ensure you don't change or grow) will tell you any lie in order to keep you trapped, and "YOU HAVE BEEN ENLIGHTENED, THEREFORE YOU HAVE MORE RIGHTS THAN THE BLINKERED SHEEPLE, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO UNLEASH VIOLENCE ON THOSE WHO GET IN YOUR WAY" is a pretty effective trap.

In contrast, the legitimately enlightened are known for their kindness, forbearance and wicked sense of humour, although occasionally their kindness manifests in being extremely rude to people to wake them up - giving them what they need rather than what they want, in other words.

My ego, I blush to admit, likes to tell me that people who don't agree with me are the cause of all the problems in the world, that unhappiness and oppression in this world are all the fault of some dude in Auckland who disapproves of labor unions on principle or thinks the crew of the Mavi Marmara had it coming. I have tendencies to be extremely intellectually arrogant (the flipside of my Big Sexy Brain being the only thing that kept me alive and functioning over my horrible childhood). I can find myself, sometimes, in that paranoid mindset that everyone around me is either an active agent of evil or their witless dupes. In Oliver Cromwell's words, I think perhaps I should be prepared to more happily admit that I might be wrong about some things, or perhaps everything; but even if I am wrong, there is virtue in acting according to principle, even a mistaken principle, one of those principles being loving-kindness.