The Abusive Ape Theory, in Pill Form

I’m a moron, because it took me my entire fucking life to figure it out, but I’m going to see if I can fit it into a tweet.

The “consequences” parenting construct is the child-rearing model for warrior societies, possibly meaning for human societies, albeit with exceptions. The efficacy of our consequences has always been debatable, but the evidence of the effects of abuse are clear, and it is these effects that human parents can and do create in our children. This is the power of nurturing and of parenting. This process I call antisocialization, our socialization to the dark side of things, our fears, our hate, and our violence. The truth behind the “consequences” social meme is that we are self-actualized warriors, that we discipline our children for reasons that some of our fathers told us: we deem ourselves to be too nice, and we have learned that abuse toughens us up. In genetic terms, we have learned to operate our own epigenetic levers, the ones that respond to adverse, abusive environments. Antisocialization Theory says that Christian Original Sin is a part of the “consequences” social construct and that in reality, humans know themselves to be too nice by our natures to compete with the neighbors, that indeed, we are born sinless.

Jeff

May 19th., 2017

Is This Thing on?

I seem to have a couple of readers, that’s nice.

I’m getting a few views, enough that on a good day it doesn’t seem pointless, like my idea is getting out there, albeit very slowly. I never expected more. If it was going to be a popular idea, it wouldn’t have been with me, because if an idea is popular, then its transformative power is already in play. It seems clear to me that if anything is going to change we need some new ideas, and those aren’t usually welcome, so long and slow – that is what success was always going to look like.

It’s such a leap of faith, though, folks. I can’t tell if I’m getting through at all. Can some of you please check in, just let me know you exist, let me know if you’re thinking about it? Please? I thought that I was planting a seed in some heads, just some little spark that would grow if it were real . . . will anyone confirm or deny? Is it sticking, at all?

“Is this thing on?” is what I’m saying.

Is this idea not interesting, not emotional, provocative, incendiary – loaded – like the same conversation is when I’m having it with parents? Not . . . fun?

I try to sound authoritative. I don’t think anyone listens if you’re asking questions, if you come from a place of not knowing, and frankly, within a very narrow set of definitions, I feel I am authoritative . . . but as a human being, I’m lost here, folks. I’m alone, and a human being alone is some kind of not right, a social animal alone is failing some kind of sanity test.

Reader, if you are some sort of smart scientist, I’m counting on you to let me know where I’m at, OK? Am I in a blind alley, it’s all been done and debunked? Or is there something here and I’ve got you thinking about it? I don’t want to have some dramatic moment of despair where I give up and burn it all down and then find out later some brilliant folks were taking it up and running with it, that it was catching on after all. I’m feeling the drama. I sense a Romeo and Juliet sort of ending coming, I want to be wrong about it.

Talk to me?

Somebody?

 

Jeff

May 2nd., 2017

The Terrible Secret: Fascism is Easy

It is just too easy, what the USA is doing, what the present demagogue administration is doing, way too easy. Everything leans their way.

Love is what struggles in this world, unfortunately. Hate is like money; once you have enough of it, it snowballs. That’s what’s going on in the world today: fascism is when prosocial sentiment loses too much ground and antisocial feelings are fed back and so amplified. It’s a runaway situation, an out of control feedback loop. It’s nearly impossible to stop, and the easiest wave to ride any politician ever had. Even a moron can do it. In fact . . . on second thought, no-one needs me to finish that sentence.

‘Pro’ means love, and ‘anti’ means hate, of course, and ‘socialization’ means our adaptation to the rules, values, hopes, fears, loves and hates of our society, meaning of the people around us. That’s the noun, the sum of our social adaptations. But it’s a verb, too.

It means the process of making those adaptations, of learning the rules, of internalizing the feelings and principles of our people. As a verb, prosocialization means learning love, safety, and support, and is correlated with those nearest to us, and is accomplished through loving touch and other senses, while antisocialization means learning about hate, fear and conflict, mostly concerning people outside the family or the group. Finishing the analogy, antisocialization is also accomplished through a form of touch, but there remains a large difference: the ones who prosocialize us to themselves with loving touch are the very same ones, nearest to us, that antisocialize us to the other, with pointedly unloving touch.

In an even simpler view, when someone touches us in a way that makes us feel good, we do and we are happy and healthy, and when someone touches us in a way that makes us feel bad, we do and we are unhappy and tending towards unhealthiness. It is the opinion of this fool that we are antisocialized by our loved ones as an inoculation against the other, that antisocial feelings and attitudes are something we have decided is necessary to keep our group safe in a world of hostile groups and limited resources. That we all have two groups to think about, the in and the out, us and them, and that one is all about competition and the other only half about love too – perhaps this explains why it’s so easy for the politicians to ride the wave when the loving quarter of our lives begins to shrink.

Antisocialization is a way to describe that shit flows downhill, or that the simplest, and perhaps the only way to unload stress is to unload it on someone else (Robert M. Sapolsky, paraphrase), and fascism is the political party for antisocialization. By pushing our society beyond the tipping point, fascists mobilize for war, because everything a fascist regime does hurts us, frightens us, and drives us mad. However passive we may be, stress us out, and we edge somewhat nearer to violence and war. Easy, so horrifyingly easy to do, and why the least educated among us are the most gleeful – even they can sense the inevitability of it, of the victory of violence and hate. This is what the bully knows: he can’t lose, he knows that eventually he’ll drive even the most liberal of the elites to lose his mind and join the fight – or some fight. The insight that prompted this bit of drivel was that these fascists are so well aligned with the dark side of humanity that it co-opts any bit of negativity that isn’t nailed down and so any critique of what is left of the opposition seems likely to destroy it completely. It’s one of the ways in which it seems there is nothing to be done, no way out. Fascism is a tsunami of antisocialization and even lifeboats can become hazards, dangerous projectiles when the sea goes mad.

It’s not very hopeful, but we need to understand it. I’m afraid my Antisocialization Theory predicts that indeed there is nothing for it by this point, that fascists will simply double down and fight until there aren’t enough of them left to fight, just like they did in WWII. I dearly with we could just cut to the chase, that millions of innocents aren’t going to die before we even begin fighting these fascists, but then, I could be wrong; I sure don’t want to be the swine who starts it by trying to stop it!

But I’ll say it now, and repost this once in awhile, just to say I told you so.

I told you so.

 

Jeff

May 1st., 2017

My Beautiful Mind, Part #1

AST is a beautiful idea.

I’ve been keeping that part a secret, I’m not sure why. Really, AST is beautiful, full of hope, a ray of light for the future where none was perhaps deemed possible, a truly unexpected miracle of light and hope in a dark world.

This is not easy for me.

I will rail all day on your corner about how the world is burning down but to offer hope, to say something positive? That seems to me to deserve the utmost care, that is not a thing to be undertaken lightly. But I think it’s time to start to roll that vision out and see what it looks like.

Please enjoy this year’s stuff on abusewithanexcuse.com – the “Better Metaphor” series, etc., it’s the foundation of my idea, but the language, the subject matter are all on the dark side of the human equation (that being central to the theory, that, just like with the fictional “Force,” the dark side of life is where the power is), which is kind of all stick and no carrot for the reader. It was a positive urge that began my search, and I really have found my answer, but the answer finally came to me during a very difficult time in my life. It’s my idea, and it has a big bright side, but I haven’t been able to see anything but darkness myself for this whole last year. My apologies and my praise for those few readers who have been able to follow me on this train of thought despite the thick pheromonal cloud of anger and sadness that surrounds me. Some small group of followers have been able to allow me to speak to them despite the cloud, which is something few manage in real life. Anonymous and theoretical as you are, I thank you, I needed that.

The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.

So enough of rehashing the dark side again.

I repeat: AST, antisocialization theory is a beautiful idea. AST says that not only are we not born sinners, but that we do not even stand in judgment of ourselves as such. It says that we believe ourselves to be conceived sinless. Do you know, I used to hear talk like that and brush it off as either religion or psychology, and considered either vector for these sweetness and light sort of ideas to be baseless, simply wishful thoughts? I’m sure you do know, I imagine that is your present thought also. But it’s true. It’s the only belief of ours that can make sense of our behaviour.

Not only that, but AST is the only theory that explains the nurture assumption, the only idea that proves the power of the nurture side of the eternal argument. As such, AST has the potential to bring psychology back to science and to bring biology back to humanity. I know everyone shares this dream, that the caring basis of psychology not be left out of the exploding world of the bio-sciences. I don’t think we all want it this way, or from me – but we all want it, right?

AST has it that we are not eternally failing at controlling our base impulses for war and other violence – it says that we have succeeded in reinventing ourselves as this thing, this deep roots of war creature. It says that far from being helpless to our genes and our base natures, that we are in fact self-actualized creatures, that we possess the power to create ourselves in a vision of what we need to be, that we have done it already and so we can again. This is one hundred and eighty degrees away from where the life sciences appear to be taking us, but it’s not a conflict, only a misunderstanding. AST comes to this happy vision by finding room within a scientific look at human beings for choices, for free will, for our inner life. AST is empowering – not your usual scientific theory, to be sure.

. . . better?

Sorry, I’m a little stuck, not sure how to end it. Like I said, being positive, offering hope, this is hard for me. Offer doom and you’re wrong, great, but sell hope and something goes pear-shaped? Scary. But, if you have the cure, if you might have the cure, then I guess you’re stuck with it, take a chance or go to your grave wondering if you’ve let all of humanity down, those are a grandiose person’s choices. To put it out there is to invite exposure (and treatment), but to not is to protect one’s delusion, a comfortable, ineffectual madness that fears critique.

I’ll risk it, finding out I’m wrong, finding out I’m crazy, starting all over yet again, all of this I risk for you, for all of you but for no one or few of you, on the chance, on the small chance that I really have stumbled upon something that can make things better for all of us. God knows I’m trying, LOL.

 

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017

It’s a Child’s World

. . . yeah, I probably don’t mean that the way you’d think.

This isn’t that the children are our future, or that we are only renting here and giving up our damage deposit when that was supposed to be for them instead. I’m talking, as usual perhaps, about the Nurture Assumption, and today more about the book by Judith Rich Harris than the assumption itself.

Ms. Rich Harris has the most wonderful writing voice. I imagine any man or reasonably flexible woman who has read her has fallen in love; I certainly did. So, the nurture assumption, that we all assume that we mould our children somehow into acceptable adults is the primary proposition in the book, but it is perhaps the second largest point in it that it seems to be our childhood peer group that moulds our personalities instead. Now, I’m ignorantly arrogant and suspicious, so I haven’t quite made my mind up about that bit just yet, there may be more to it, but if it’s true, or mostly true – and it is, at least mostly – then human culture is children’s culture, right? Or rather, human culture is developmentally arrested at some point in childhood.

Ladies, I have to ask – does this strike a chord, a feminist chord? Haven’t you always known you’re up against grown men’s bodies inhabited by the souls of angry young boys?

The basic, aboriginal scenario she described (from many years of reading and writing textbooks on the subject) is a village of sixty to a hundred and sixty people, perhaps three main family lines, and mothers having babies every two or three years – at which point the previous child is weaned and let outside to join the children’s group. Here, we learn and grow, and graduate to have our own children. Adult personality testing shows our grown personalities to show far more conformity with the children’s peer group than with our parents.

Sometimes if we’ve only just heard this, I imagine it takes a second to sink in, but another way to state the scenario Rich Harris describes (I don’t think she put it this way), is this: we are somehow immune to intergenerational learning and we mostly don’t know a thing that every child doesn’t know. Maybe we can learn throughout our lives (I hope so, I’m about to retire and planning to keep trying), but our ability to pass it on to children is severely impeded once we are of breeding age ourselves!

Now, I think that’s a sort of an argument for a general cause to support some vague idea of our adult “children’s culture,” but I have something of my own to add, namely that the means and ways of this “influence” and “socialization” that happens in the children’s group happen to be the same ways and means that parents are so valiantly trying to justify with the nurture assumption: abuse. Abuse in a generic sort of sense, sure, but in all senses.

We can say that parents use rough methods at home and that the children perhaps emulate, or we can say that the parents have only just exited the children’s group where that was the way of life as well, the ways and means of conformity and organization, and that they simply carry on as they always have in the group, albeit with younger children for perhaps the first time. It’s a circle of life sort of thing. Personally, I have chosen to blame the parents for this vicious cycle, because for the most part they are older and closer to some definition of legal responsibility – but also, because we have been trying to get the kids to stop hitting each other for years already and that just isn’t working out! I think we should try stopping the adults, see if that works better.

That was a bit of me, but really, that is the implication of the children’s peer group, has to be, right? That the social pressure during our formative years, that the society this testing shows we conform to is the society of pre-pubescents. There’s a nibble for the biologists in it, too. Part of the theory is that your parents aren’t so likely to beat you to death as the peer group is, because the gene relation is closer, so that we conform to the bigger threat, the more realistic threat. The Nurture Assumption spelled it out graphically in terms of hunter-gatherer warrior societies, where if a boy won’t fight, he is tormented until he either fights back or is killed. One presumes there are very few adult pacifists.

Perhaps it’s not so sad that we are living a life designed and enforced by children because of their inexperience, but rather that the structure of our society is formed from experience that includes a lot of boyish competition and violence. I’m not sure about that, and this is absolutely a thought in progress . . . I’m postulating this, the eternal children’s group and the associated adult “children’s culture” – and a different, first generation adult culture in every generation? Again, we can learn, it’s only that adults can’t teach kids, at least not social things. But the eternal, timeless children’s culture of might is right (and sex doesn’t matter?), the unconscious side of our culture, and the adult side where things change and evolve . . . ?

I think I’ve taken this as far as I can . . .

Cheers, folks.

Thoughts?

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2017

Next Question?

            Next Question?

 

The last one took me something more than fifty years, admittedly. I am a moron, no two ways about it. But I got there, and frankly, I’m, well . . . proud might be a bridge too far, and happy isn’t it either, but I’m . . . satisfied. In that sense, I declare myself to be a scientist, albeit a moron. It’s not about my emotional needs or pride, it really is about the question. The question for me, since I was a toddler or something, was “what is punishment?”

I’ve answered that to my own satisfaction, and it’s in my blog, the stuff from this year, 2017. Unfortunately, figuring something out about ourselves and being able to do anything about it are very different propositions. The solution seems to be locked away, hidden behind the dynamics of stress, and for a change, before I try to work through it in the privacy of my own mind and blog with a view to figuring it out in my final fifty years from nothing, I thought I’d better stop and read Sapolsky’s book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.”

He’s brought us a nasty little maxim, that stress results from taking a beating and is released by giving one. Again, I am a moron with no sense of my own limitations, so I don’t understand “maxim.” I see that label, “maxim,” (I don’t think he’s called it that) and double Scorpio that I am or whatever, I say to myself, it is up to me to solve this puzzle. I don’t know why, it’s to avoid thinking about my personal self and problems, of course, but I can’t get around it. I would rather think I’m trying to save the world and solve the human condition than that I’m doing something smaller and more doable and ignoring the big, universal problems. I’m living a big, public life, at least in my own mind.

So, I’ll be reading for a bit, trying to learn instead of talking for a bit. Dr. Robert Sapolsky is sure to have something to inform my search. He’s terrific on video too, I recommend him as highly as possible, as does everyone, from a moron like me all the way up to the very best and brightest. I’ll be checking in, but I see my views have stopped. I don’t have the heart to keep promoting on Twitter, punishing my few followers by spamming them with the same blogs for months on end with nothing new, so that will be sporadic unless I think I’ve had another epiphany or something.

Please enjoy this year’s stuff, the “Better Metaphor” series, etc.

The stuff from 2014 and 2015 is for parents, new parents, it says, “don’t punish, in any way, at all,” citing damage and hard feelings as unwanted consequences. This year’s stuff says, “uh, no, the damage and hard feelings are in fact the unconscious but wanted consequences,” and so re-defines the problem of punishment. I still don’t advocate for the punishment of children, I’ve just come to understand it’s not a rational, debating sort of a thing.

I’ll be back, and dropping in, but I think I’ve kind of run out of things to say for a bit, this was it. I’m not some writer, some endless spout of verbiage, I’m just a guy with a minority POV and an idea I think will help us, so I write that. I swear to God, it’s not about me. It’s about us. It ain’t personal, it’s about all of us; it’s public.

Thanks for visiting, Folks. I wish I could know what anyone thinks, though.

 

Jeff

April 20th., 2017

AST as Morality

                Reciprocal altruism is supposed to be the origin of morality, but it’s sort of the opposite, it’s predicated on the out group, which is still what passes for morality although it’s the “morality” and “logic” of war and genocide (and abuse and antisocialization).

Clearly it is, it would be the start, include your family, then your tribe, then your nation or race . . . it looks like an arithmetic progression, then on to us all, right? That’s what I thought, that’s what I thought “liberals” thought . . . but we’re stuck here, at the race or nation level, aren’t we? And it’s because this morality requires an enemy, an out group, and therefore, maybe ‘reciprocal altruism’ is a name with some possible misleading connotations, and it’s not so much that the first half negates the second. It’s that there are people left out of the deal, that it’s a competitive strategy. Competitive strategies are fine, of course. I don’t have a problem with them until they try to pass themselves off as “morality” because when implemented, these strategies mean war, and frankly, that our bad guys and our good guys are all ultimately pulling for war I find a little depressing.

Of course, reciprocal altruism is the goal of all our group bonding, with shared goals, we gain power and hope to gain security, but it is the goal of anyone’s racism and xenophobia too. The very expression, “humanism” also displays the limitation; this being the goal, it means all of us, but it still means us against every other living thing present and future. This would seem to be a foundational sort of thing. Set up this way by evolution and God, what is reciprocal altruism if there is no competitor to stand against, no out group? How is an all-inclusive sort of morality “morality” if no-one fails the code and is left out of this reciprocal arrangement? It would seem to be these loose connections, this logic that somehow conflates our morality with our group interests, which is the first step in our morality never getting to the next level. What would seem to be the generic moral act, the humanist one – helping the non-Samaritan, for instance – conflicts with the Samaritans’ interests, and our social groupness means not only that our group interests must take priority, but that this priority be “moral.”

Any cultural Christian (and I imagine any cultural Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or anything else) has been given to understand that morality is not our personal interest, rather it’s closer to the opposite, and at that level, group interests are one step better, but group interests are the personal interests in the larger, global moral conversation. They are the problem, not the solution, they are all the deadly sins. If one of our group sins and we are loyal to him, we are all complicit and all sinners indeed.

Just a reminder, folks.

It’s clear from what I see on social media, that many of us have confused our personal and group interests with morality, and I want you all to know: I see you. Stand up for what you can get, sure, but spare me your claims that God or morality are on your side. Save your Holy War talk for those who are dumb enough or just self-interested enough to believe oxymorons like that, who believe in moral mass murder.

And if your church didn’t tell you this, you need a new church.

 

Jeff

April 3rd., 2017

Twin Studies and AST

Pulled from Google:

phe·no·type

ˈfēnəˌtīp/

noun

BIOLOGY

  1. the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

___________________________________________________

If I may, to state the simplest form of Nature plus Nurture above in an even shorter way –

Genes + Environment = Phenotype

– right? That’s the basis of it, isn’t it, and so the basis of the famous and never-ending twin studies? The opportunity to move genes around to different environments and see what changes and what stays the same?

Now, I’m not the first to point out that adoptable homes in adoption-capable countries are largely selected for similar socially acceptable reasons, but that’s just not clear enough; the problem is even more basic, and it’s in the definition above. The amazing, specific identical things that some of the separated twins showed that seemed to give all the power to the genetic side of the argument do the very opposite with more logic, prove the opposite.

These amazing parallels defy the phenotype equation, for starters. Either some of these behaviours and propensities are purely genetic, unaffected or unaffectable by environment, or the very impressiveness of the phenotypal match proves that there was no difference in the environment, at least no difference that would or could change that trait. Empirically. The same phenotype means same (relevant) genes and same relevant environment, by definition.

To my untutored mind, that looks like a huge fail. I’m sure the biologists have some long-assed answer that I’d need to be a geneticist or a statistician to argue with, but if they don’t have something to explain away the first rule, the basic syllogism, then . . . on the other hand, though, it’s an understandable conclusion, considering the setup. They move genes to new homes and hope they’ve made an environmental change, but really, we don’t know what it is that might have changed, do we? We’re black-boxing this “home environment” thing, we look at what we put in and what comes out as a sort of high level troubleshooting method, like how it’s done in electronic systems, when we can’t know the inner workings of some device. We really haven’t worked out what about the home environment does what . . . well, hadn’t, I mean. AST has, possibly.

The evidence has been right in front of us the whole time. There is no evidence for all the details of parenting styles, for anything “positive.” The evidence is for abuse, so that’s the environment factor that when we change it, we’ll see statistical results, changes in incidence of all that correlates with abuse, meaning problems. That is possibly the upshot of the adoptable home criteria as well: socially acceptable levels of structure, discipline, control, and abuse. When all that varies only within a narrow range, then it’s not going to matter how widely less important things vary.

Biologists, you want to convince us that parenting doesn’t matter? Change your test twins’ environment in a meaningful way, and there’s only one, level of abuse. You can’t arrange to have one tortured, so all you can do is try to raise some separated twins without discipline and punishment, that’s legal, I think.

Either that, or you’re going to have to explain to us how all the experiments that you say proved the power of our genes seem to disprove your most basic rule.

I don’t know why people never understand me in this way: this is a question, I have posed a problem here, and I’m looking for an answer, an explanation, an argument, something. Silence indicates assent and submission in court, but I don’t think I can make that conclusion here on the interwebs.

LOL.

 

Jeff

April 1st., 2017

AST in the Beginning – Homo Neanderthalensis and Population

I’ve just seen a doc that says where they were digging in France, that the cave had been empty of Neanderthals two thousand years before Homo Sapiens arrived, and in attempting to explain it, they said that the entire Neanderthal population in Europe was only estimated to have been in the thousands. They said that we simply overwhelmed them with numbers and absorbed them, outbred them by an order of magnitude.

I think someone said the Homo Sapiens “were able to reproduce faster,” which, what do you suppose that means? “Able to reproduce,” indeed! Then I suppose we’re all extinct, out-competed by rats. But that seemed like a question that wanted an answer to me, and here’s my guess: ‘able’ to breed isn’t it. It’s that we’re compelled to, and maybe they weren’t, so much.

I’m recalling something a friend of mine pointed out to me, some years ago, that when anyone suggests that war is the human method of keeping our own population in control, that they’ve got it backwards. In fact, accelerated breeding is an evolved response to threats to the population, like famine or war, something that increases our genes’ odds of survival and replication. Keeping this in mind when pondering antisocialization, one can see what a powerful bio-feedback loop that might be. We pre-configure ourselves for war, and war triggers a never-ending baby boom.

Maybe the Neanderthal didn’t self-antisocialize, but this doc suggested we shared the landscape and that a species war probably never occurred. If we consider our aboriginal social situation, the family group, in competition with other groups – it would seem that the species of the other group might not matter; they’re all competitors, all enemies during war, and I imagine, equally tolerated in peacetime too. Homo Sapiens probably didn’t treat the Neanderthal better than modern Europeans have treated indigenous peoples the world over in modern times, but the idea of a clear species war sounds a little too organized for those times, forty to fifty thousand years ago.

So. That’s what AST was able to glean out of that prehistoric meeting, out of me learning about the Neanderthal’s theorized light carbon footprint, me learning that not all human groups bred at the same rate.

Just spitballing. Let’s keep it in mind.

 

Jeff

Oct. 26th., 2016

“You’re an Asocial, Aren’t You?”

“You’re an asocial, aren’t you?” It’s a line from “Fatherland,” the novel by Robert Harris, set in the postulated world where Germany won WWII. It’s the hero’s son’s accusation against him, hurled from the boy’s Nazi education.

I have a list of such lines from novels and movies that I take personally, lines like this that hurt my feelings. I may have mentioned in the first few schizoid versions of my book, the bit from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that Stevenson invoked a ‘vague sense of deformity’ to heighten our sense of horror at Hyde’s presentation bugged me, considering my own birth deformity, the umbilical cock-up that left me with a belly zipper rather than a button. Did this author’s leveraging of that basic (and base) human emotion mean that disgust was to be the normal human response to me too?

Thanks a lot, RLS. Wait – was that a schizotypal leap, a ‘loose association?’ Is this one of those things that my closest friend in life, my wife, cannot understand, how I went from a line in a novel, to awareness of the literary/emotional device employed, to that device signifying a human trait, to me also being subject to that human trait? Then after that, my bad feelings about it – is it a schizotypal leap to that somehow being ‘personal?’ I mean, I don’t think Robert Louis Stevenson was trying to fuck me up personally, of course. When anything messes with our person, though, that is personal to us, isn’t it?

I know I mentioned also, that The Metamorphosis messed me up bad, and no one line stands out; the whole damn thing hurt like Hell. That was clearly Kafka’s editing test, if it doesn’t hurt like a motherfucker, throw it out. I imagine that’s true of everything else he wrote too. Hemmingway must’ve loved Kafka, talk about bleed.

But this one.

You’re an asocial, aren’t you.

Yes, my children, my wife, my friends, I really fucking am.

If I were into human-style socializing, if I were simply a member of my own social group and happy to go along, happy to love what they love and hate what they hate, then we all know who I’d be, right? Come on, we don’t pull any punches here, don’t be shy, we can use the scary words, as long as the context is correct. Correct for me, I mean, for this asocial.

I’d be an old fucking white guy.

One who never saw real poverty in his adult life through no merit of his own, like so many others, and I’d like what they like, maybe vote for whom they vote, turn that blind white eye to the never ending persecution of all things non-white, non-straight, non-Christian. I ain’t doing that, and I hate seeing white people’s blind ignorant FB pages regarding Islam or BLM. I am not your peer, I do not need your human contact quite that badly. Rather, if that’s what I need or I die, it’s been nice.

I mean, I know I’m seeing these sorts of posts from my friends, people I love, or at least people I really should, by social group, by shared or at least common life experiences, but well, here’s the thing.

It’s one or the other, individual social viability or social change. No-one likes a troublemaker.

Maybe it’s depression, the suppression of my survival’s belief that I’m somehow worth more than the other humans I may find myself in conflict with, but screw my viability, screw my personal happiness. What has anyone’s personal happiness ever done for humanity? I’m choosing social change, and my friends, my family, if you’ve got social group values and concerns that conflict with humanity’s, I’m sorry, but I’m positioning myself on humanity’s side, and where there is any conflict, against you all. I don’t do “don’t talk about politics.” What is our social support for one another worth when the world is burning down politically?

Well, it’s worth life, apparently. Contact and social support are everything for humans, primates, mammals, the biggest thing that if we don’t get we die, outside of food, water, and air. So I’m alone, always have been in this sense, in the way I think, the way I see and feel things, the low value I put on relationships and my obsession with what I consider to be the “real world” beyond our feelings and our social world. I can feel it, though, I ain’t immune. I’m a seriously lonely person, even at risk at the moment. Try as they may to send the right message, when you’re alone and lonely, seeing all the regular folks out there counting their blessings, loving one another and reminding one another to think of folks like me at Christmas time only drives the point home harder. My solution is a form of madness, of course.

I talk to myself, yes, out loud. I recently bought a “living Christmas tree” a live pine or something, and now I can talk to it too, so there are three of us now which means a lot more options. I know it’s crazy, but you have to talk to someone or you die. I assume that isn’t your recommendation? I’ve been reading until the last few weeks, and now I’m watching biology lectures on YouTube, and I talk back to the books and videos too. These are the people talking about what interests me these days, science authors, so these are the conversations I need to have, whether it’s real or not. I seem to be trying to fool my social self, I’ve decided that I do have a social group I don’t mind (safe as long as I never actually meet these people), and that these brilliant authors are it. When an idea comes to me, Pinker, Trivers, Sapolsky, these are the friends I want to share it with, Goodall, folks like that. Judith Rich Harris.

God knows and I know that I don’t belong in that social group, but that’s one I might want to belong to, at least, even if they are mostly old white guys. At least they aren’t mostly Christians!

Besides talking to myself and my imaginary super smart friends, I find myself mining everything I see for the remotest hint of support, of something human I can identify with and relate to. I watched everything I could on YouTube from Sapolsky this month, and he’s a very genuine fellow, he looked into the camera and calmly and steadily shared some real emotion with us all in his documentary regarding stress and I am taking those moments to heart, anything that feels real and genuine and good, despite that it was not at all personal and the gulf between him speaking and me hearing was years and thousands of miles. These are the crumbs of human contact that I’m down to, taking every bit I can get if it really is free of charge.

 

Jeff

Dec. 24th., 2016

 

Hmmm . . . maybe the madness is passing, finally.

This division, between our personal stories and our public ones, it’s not really an even split. The social world is everything. Where the two are in conflict, public stories do not win out and for many detailed reasons, all adding up to that we are social animals. Humourous that “public” and “social” turn up as opposites in this discussion, but that’s no mistake; if it seems like one, that’s because we use the word “social” in a loose and lubricative way. We think it’s a “positive” term. It’s not.

“Social” means ‘pertaining to social things. The value judgments we apply aren’t part of the totality of the concept. The term for negative social things, we all know, it’s “antisocial,” and the feelings and actions associated are well known: anger and hatred, along with abuse and violence. The positive term I think, is “prosocial,” and involves love and trust, along with gentle touch. The point is, the term “social” is a dangerously loose one, because we use it like it means “prosocial,” and so we think it’s all good, but defending the world of “social” things means we are defending it all, good and bad. Well, it ain’t a popular idea and I am deeply in denial, no fucking doubt, but when we are directed to focus on our personal stories and our social well being, that is exactly what is happening. To any degree that we cannot find reason or time to address our public issues because of our social ones, we delay the enlightenment of humankind, because social things are a zero-sum moral game. We love our neighbor and we hate who he hates. The very best morality to be gleaned from our social lives is adversarial: morality, to date, is a matter of treating your social group well and reserving abuse for those outside of it, so if we are ever to address all of us, we need something better than social considerations.

Of course, that’s what no-one seems to get about one another. If I’m a “good person” in my group, how can those others think I’m not? Well, that’s what “good person” means, it means socially, mostly, meaning, in your group. Unfortunately, this conflict I’m describing, the need for a wider sort of “good,” means that to the socially oriented moral person, I’m immoral, meaning anyone trying to resolve this limitation of our moral view is perceived as betraying the group.

Well, yes, I guess I am.

I mean, I’m not president or anything. I don’t think this stance is going to start any legal proceedings, but I’m not in your group. Honestly, you all mostly seem to agree with each other, or at least you have found a way to get on in the social sphere, you all don’t need me, one more guy – and I have never used my membership anyway. I’ve almost made it to the bell, I’m nearly sixty and Mom and Dad never made it much past seventy, so screw my personal story.

I am dedicated to my public one, and the conflict is real. No-one wants to talk about AST, my pet theory. It drives people nuts. I worry that it’s exactly the stance that the ladies in my life seem to feel as an attack (and some not in my life too, online acquaintances) . . . maybe having a social conversation about the nature of what is social is just impossible, like licking your elbow. I will persist in getting my idea out there, but maybe I’ll learn to shut up about it occasionally. Maybe I’d better make at least that compromise with society.

Just because I don’t want to join in society’s dark side, your wars and pogroms, doesn’t mean I want to see the column of pitchforks and torches heading for my house either. I’ll be screaming it out a high window, risking the arrows.

“I’m a good person, I’m a moralist! I’m only trying to make things better!”

And you can put a plaque there where my house was, with your answer.

“This guy just never did fucking get it.”

 

Jeff

Mar. 22nd.  2017