The Stupid Search for Morality

Did you ever see a blind man cross the road, trying to make it to the other side?

I’m sorry, I mean, did you ever see a vast herd of creatures living their lives in relative peace, in fear of the lions but not of their own? Have you ever seen mothers and fathers loving and protecting their children, and one another’s children? Can you imagine rolling back the clock and seeing them throughout the history of life, long before we came along to argue about it?

Then I ask you: how does anyone’s aggression get a pass, how is any sort of violence “just the way it is?”

Moral things like the protection of children and peaceful coexistence, of driving around the blind man, have existed in the world, among creatures for a very long time, before us, before mammals.

Humanity did not invent them. We should stop looking for the proof that we did.

“Donated aggression,” that’s the state of their search so far, right?

Short version, they look at costs and benefits (which won’t find actual altruism, so we’re in a technical world, looking for ‘elements’ of morality) and creatures paying costs for their kids, for folks other than themselves, this is the start of altruism and the next step is altruism beyond our genetic interest that they try to explain and a famous example is of chimpanzees risking themselves in conflict and so solidifying a position in a group. This is altruism, if we risk life and limb to help each other take life and limb. I’m not certain – that may be new behaviour – but raiding parties are not the morality we were looking for, come on.

I believe that they are finding the “morality” we have, the one that makes the world what it is today, and that’s sort of fine, we need to find the human difference – but “altruism” and “morality,” these words don’t make it across into life with their technical meanings. You call that “morality,” folks think killing is morality. That example is a tale of conflict and pressure, and not a moral choice but a capitulation to conflict.

But the point again, the one we are looking for is not a new invention. Choosing peace, respect, and security, some animals have done this before and surely some will again when we’re part of that deep past.

There are new things we have brought into the world but being nice is not likely to be one of them. I suspect the chimpanzee research touches on it, I’m sure my thesis could use their data. Donated aggression, aggression as a commodity, it is part of my view also – I just don’t call that “moral.” For the record, again, I know this definition, moral, slips in and out of it scientific meaning when I use it, that in a technical sense it doesn’t mean “good,” or “right,” that these are the social connotations – but this conflation isn’t only mine, it’s everyone’s and it’s the point of this rant. The idea that it can be parsed out and discussed technically, well, I think that has created the upside-down nature of their answer, altruism is a gang murder in a border skirmish. You separate that, you’ve lost reality.

Trading violence for the security of the group, again, this is the morality we’ve found, but not the one we want. The function there is an evil threat, kill for me or I send you to the wolves – placing people between a rock and a hard place here is the big picture, the laboratory, while the altruism shown is  barely visible, it’s like building the giant collider to show us what tiny little electrons do. Think of the ongoing story of the Rat Park, if you know it – there were parameters in the experiment’s setup that were not accounted for in the description, and the further we step back from it, the bigger the context becomes and the smaller the meaning of the result. Long story short, it was an experiment that “proved that rats choose addiction at such a rate,” and time let us all see that it only proved that rats alone in a concrete and steel prison choose addiction at that rate.

The “with us or against us” aspect of the gang murder altruism matches the bare solitary confinement of the rat in my analogy – I don’t think, as I’ve said, the altruism arranged in this scenario is the stuff we are looking for, not if it’s in service of the ultimate inconsideration of murder. The one we’re looking for would be when one of these chimpanzees becomes aware of a lone stranger and lets it pass, wouldn’t it?

I imagine it happens. In fact, if that recruitment scenario ever played out at all, it must have started that way, one would think. I don’t imagine you can show up during the fight and expect anyone to know whose side you’re on, the chimp in question must have already been known and tolerated. It’s not because it isn’t there that we’re not talking about this and going with the violence instead.

I’m feeling like a male, EP swine for using the example, but I’ll remind myself and you, I’m calling it out, I use it as an example of what’s wrong, not what’s right. Still, I’m a fool if this scenario was made up nonsense in the first place, which I am starting to suspect.

The human difference is not that we are more moral than our bestial cousins, rather the other way about; we made a difference, and we can’t have invented living and letting live – so the difference we made was in the other direction. We are different, we are like this because we invented immorality. We invented abuse.

Find me the roots of that, please.

Those will be somewhere both before and after this, on the one hand, those chimps are plainly already living in full blown group conflict, c/w intrigues and prices to pay and so there is a history to glean, but they haven’t taken some step or steps that we have just yet, they haven’t turned into us, or not yet. I think we may not see it the other way about with them, like we do with us. This example, is kill for us and you can join, we do this too, but have we observed chimpanzees pushing, rather than pulling for that, I mean threatening rather than offering? Do they have the concept, kill for me, or I hurt you?

Do I have to stop if I don’t know this?

It’s sort of my whole deal, punishment is our unique madness, but it doesn’t have to be perfectly black and white. Maybe there are roots for that to be found in primatology, but basically, this is my thesis, that punishment/abuse is our invention, the human . . . wrinkle – ha: kink. Our weirdness. And that this is not meaningful because it makes us “moral,” but the reverse, that this is not indicative of morality as such, but of our workaround for it, our way out of it.

When we are abused, we feel we have an excuse.

Of course, you’d have to agree abuse even exists first. I only see it this way anymore: you’d have to lose the human nature myth. You’d have to want a reason why we go wrong, you’d have to not think we are simply born wrong. You’d have to have some small measure of faith that this world is real and that what we do matters, that what we do is what makes it this way.

It is also difficult to feel that way when you’ve suffered abuse. Oh, it never ends. Screw it, send.

Jeff

Feb. 15th., 2021

Capitulation

What if I gave it up, what if I stopped fighting it and said, yes we are this large, intelligent, competitive ape after all? Aggressive, even?

I’m always trying to say we’re not, we don’t have to be, we’re not automatically or necessarily, for all you know I look around me and see a different bunch of them than you do or something, what safe, white, little world do I live in anyway – I don’t, I see it. I mean, I do live in such a world, but I can see out. It verges on dishonesty the way avoid acknowledging it, maybe. I’m sorry, sweetness and light ain’t cutting it these days. If I were preaching to the choir, even the choir wouldn’t know what to say to me.

We are. We evolved to be this way, so we are.

We oughtn’t be, is all I’m saying.

It’s in our power not to be, is what I’m saying, that evolution means never-ending, ongoing self-creation, and what happened tens of thousands of years ago is only still with us if we do the same things, make the same choices today – and so after that, it becomes a matter of information, of making informed choices. We are the environment now, most of what modern people must negotiate in life is modern people and so the environment we live in we chose, we provided both the selective pressure and the adaptation to it. With the right information, putting our choices in the right context, in theory, we could make ourselves, our today natures, more sustainable.

We could dial down the aggression and the competition.

Sure that war ape is us, but that was self creation, and it is time for another, corrective self creation. If your aggression becomes a data point instead of part of the manipulative question, then we could see what’s going on and try to do something different – of course, psychology, everyone knows a way to avoid dealing with your troubles is to simply write yourself odd as born bad. Everyone knows that that is always the lie that needs to be disproven at the personal level, and it is at the species level too. This shouldn’t be a surprise.

There aren’t fixed natures in evolution, nothing is non-negotiable and for every rule, some clever creature makes a living breaking it. We know there are successful non-aggressive creatures, and so aggression and competition are not necessary and foundational: everything in nature needs an explanation, and so does human aggression. I’m not going to try to make the explanation today, my views are not secret about it, today, the point is that I am accepting that the state of affairs today is that we are aggressive and competitive right now.

I give up. I admit it.

This is the life that is available for human being today, and it is not our natures forever, but this is a level of “default” for a human born and raised today, and this is the point, the political point of today’s rant – “competition” is not a system, not a human enterprise at all, but only the lack of a human system or solution, only a capitulation to the current animal default that we have unconsciously evolved to be.

I mean, for old people, this is not news, I think it was part of the whole idea, Adam Smith’s explicit idea that capitalism would be conceived this way, as a system our aggressive animal selves could function within – the wording was something about channeling “Man’s natural greed and avarice” as a constructive force, somehow, all will be motivated to succeed and survive – tomayto, tomahto. But it’s an idea based in permanent natures being a real thing which they are not, and there is no “going with it” that isn’t also creating it, I mean, going with what, with who?

It’s us!

You may say you’re “going along,” but I am “going along” with you, aren’t I? When you’re going along, you are also simply going. Everybody can be going “along,” and if so, we are all going, I mean rolling along, competitively treating most of our own species as an enemy and lamenting that they in turn, treat us that way. “Going with the flow” of some “nature” and agreeing to live in constant strife and violence. Warms one’s heart, doesn’t it, there is something we can all agree on after all, the inverse of the platitude, that struggle, fighting, is life.

And having agreed, it becomes “good,” the new good, somehow fighting and the taking of life is good, because . . . here we insert the secret, the mystery, the bit I am spending my life futilely trying to get to, there is a logical connection I cannot make yet I am fighting relegating it to intuition. I am sure it is there, because this is a matter of the world, not just my human mind, it happens, I can’t quite explain it, but we can all see it. We employ fighting when we are trying to fix things, trying to make things better, from a pat on the bum to the violence and ravings of the fascists.

About the latter, however, I cannot from here, understand what problems they hope to solve, what is so wrong in the world that some uber-can model of a police state is better?

I can sort of see the spanking, it’s everywhere, after all, if a spanking stops something worse, mass murder – what evil does the mass murder avert? What is worse? It is clear, what I said above, life is a fight, because peace threatens them somehow, going from peace to war is a solution, somehow. These crazies wave their guns and there is no enemy, no threat, no armed people but them!

The point, I almost missed again – the human list of unwanted behaviours and crimes does not include violence. It’s a solution, on the positive side of the ledger. The police respond to crime with violence, and if violence were a crime, we would all see they add one to every one they find, we would all see how even the good guys propagate violence endlessly. But it’s not, it’s sacred or something.

And so, we are doomed.

Jeff

Feb. 1st., 2021

My Word

Antisocialization, that’s the word, my word.

I’m making a slight shift in focus, I’m going to stop trying to elaborate the definition and just push the word. It should explain itself; it’s made of known words.

It’s a secret or something, hiding behind negative ideas of “human nature.” It seems to have not been previously coined rather pointedly, like we hid it behind the human nature myth for a reason. I suspect the secret is safe, despite my efforts to out it, perhaps it always will be.

I have the concept, and not the sort to make anything easy for anyone, I will start offering caveats and problems with it on the theory that if it’s problematic, then it’s a little more real for us all. There is still a “problem of evil” to negotiate, maybe. I have moved the source of the evil, I have said you weren’t born with it – but basically I’ve said it’s a process very like photosynthesis: we pull it out of the air, create the evil from nothing, and so you may not have been born with it but you’ve got it now. All of us, oaks and maples alike, shoutout to Rush. Ah – a minor breakthrough there, the “human nature myth.”

I’ve been arguing it literally, telling myself I have disproven the matter with science and logic and that has been done pretty thoroughly with Creation and hasn’t made a dent with half the world, has it? You can’t beat a myth with reason – so now I want to do and end-run around all that, just get the word on record – into dictionaries – and let the world inform the science, stop trying to teach the teachers, wait for teachers that grow up with the word and so have to reconcile the myth. The myth has had free reign, the myth has been writing the science.

Without my word, the myth has had no opposition.

I would like to make a campaign, ask people to lobby for it, submit this word to the dictionaries, work it into your conversations, criminals aren’t “hardened” by prison abuse, but antisocialized, we’re not talking about steel, but people.

There’s a reason this word isn’t internalized and everywhere – and it’s the same reason we fight, the same reason we have smelted the world for our fights. There’s a reason – ah, right, the problem – there’s a reason we don’t like this word, don’t want this word, because it means the evil is in us, and it means our people put it there. Of course it is us, exactly “our people” who would have to change, and you can’t make a change when you don’t even have the word.

Jeff

Feb. 4th., 2021

Get Used to It

They are a half-step from just saying “normalize this,” aren’t they.

I get the positive, world of illusion theory, of course I do, “letting it sink in” is supposed to provoke outrage, it’s supposed to hurt to deeply realize the truth of some of these ongoing crimes and that pain is supposed to spark us to action.

I get that, and if it works, I am all with it. But does it, mostly?

Haven’t we been saying it the entire time and losing all the way along?

I think the outrage, the spark and the fight belong sometime before letting it sink in, I think we fight it, reject it, defeat it, so that we do not have to let that toxic stuff sink in. Allowing the crime to sink in is defeat. Again, it’s normalization, isn’t it, what is “normalization” other than getting used to something, internalizing the idea, finding a way to live with it?

I’m pretty sure it’s the bad guys telling us to let the bad stuff sink in.

The good guys would make a stand and declare all this crime unthinkable and fight to keep it that way. “Pain sparking us to action” is the whole social control punishment idea I spend my life debunking. Pain does not bring good things, does not make people strong and upright, it hurts people, breaks people.

Bad things “sinking in” is exactly my word, antisocialization, makes the evil a small part of us, makes us sad, angry, ever that much closer to violence and war. Again, I have a new tack – simply meditate upon the word, imagine it’s a real thing and that there is no proof that we were born evil and aggressive, that no control group ever existed to make that sort of conclusion – learn the word and the truth will become . . . available, when perhaps it wasn’t from here, where we’re at now.

Jeff

Jan. 25th., 2021

The Law and Order to Mass Murder Pipeline

The Law and Order to Mass Murder Pipeline

That’s a way to express the function I try to draw attention to, that punishment and social control are violence, and so propagate violence rather than mitigate it.

The Plague lays all things bare.

When your crime that we all rationalize means you deserve sometime away becomes a death or disfigurement sentence, because “criminals don’t deserve public health,” your career in criminal justice has gone from wanting to help people, to accepting that hurting some is a way to help most . . . to killing them, if it means giving them the same protections as the un-convicted. A good childhood urge, perhaps suggested when your parents spank you and explain it, becomes an adult reality in . . . I’m going to say futility, that’s far enough, I have some empathy. A grownup exercise in futility, which, when the environment changes, quickly tips over into an overly adult exercise in deciding who lives and who dies.

This is a radical position, but if anyone is setting prisoners free to isolate, it hasn’t made the news. This radical position is everywhere. Far, far too many people have been radicalized by law and order.

Jeff

Jan. 17th., 2021

The Mystery

picture by @sweetspectre18 (on Twitter)

It’s the central unsolved question of life I’m after, why are we like this, why the hate, why the conflict? Why do so many think these are the path to something good?

I’ve been blustering, I solved it, answered that, that it’s abuse, our abusive social control that makes us angry, aggressive, and competitive, and I’ll stand behind that, but I see it’s not enough, that I may have connected some dots, but I haven’t been able to make it matter, somehow.

When I first started trying to write my way through this puzzle, I thought and said that we were simply mistaken, that we think the spankings and the prisons, the deterrents will improve the world, and that what was required was a logical argument that highlighted the dark side, but several years later, I’ve come to a more scientific sort of view, that says what is really happening is what drives things, not hopes and deterrents. That what we think of as damage from abuse, that this is being selected for in as much as it exists.

If the damage adds up to aggression, then we are selecting for our aggression when we abuse, which is my thesis. A negative experience makes for a negative outlook, and a negative outlook tilts humanity towards aggression, because if people are bad, then they are more viable as targets, it’s less of a crime to hurt one, up to and including being all too often obligatory. A biased set of initial conditions skews all the science. Spankings equal war, is my slogan these days.

It’s self-fulfilling, the logic, if we are “bad,” we are abused, and if we are abused we are bad. I don’t fault it so far even today, I think that, if you abuse you are bad – so if you do, if you did, if I got spanked, then I think that, if even Mom who birthed and nursed me and has a 50% interest in my genes, if she abuses, OK, I get it, people are bad. They must be, right? You may not cop to it out loud like that, but if you’re as smart as a crow, then I know your brain put it together, with or without you. The logic is there, whether or not we are.

It’s the “if” I would have you take home. Without that, who knows?

Aggression is being selected for, this is my answer to “what is punishment,” and again, I’m fairly confident this is the case – but I am still banging my head on my desk trying to figure out why we would, how many generations we are going to live blindly in this Red Queen’s game where  all of humanity is socially and genetically engineering itself for a level aggression above what it may have otherwise been.

If this is all  true, then how does anyone stop?

What society would throw down this weapon surrounded by rivals? None, let me tell you, this human antisocialization of ourselves, this is possibly our most sacredly held, unquestioned and violently defended behaviours (and therefore a job for Supernaysayer!). They all say they are the only ones and must preserve the tradition, but really, they all do it and the one who stops is quickly selected out. It’s the same, crucial, sacred. Survival critical.

I try to make the point that it is now survival critical that humanity find another way to be.

I feel in my heart of hearts that any person serious enough to be in charge of a country or a faith understands all this completely. Certainly, I know the army generals understand the principle and do not overly coddle the troops and know that abuse feeds aggression. I worry that changing this would be an all people sort of enterprise and, well. Does everyone? Does everyone know this in their hearts already?

Certainly when we see our “corrections” aren’t working or necessary, that our resulting “toughness” is always the fallback rationalization. Do we all, in our deeper selves, understand that it’s literal and true?

I think it’s knowledge we hold in parentheses somehow, because if not, surely we would object to everyone else doing it. Surely we would rail at our enemies to be nicer to their children so that they would be less formidable in battle, less likely to have warlike leaders. No?

Well, sort of. It’s a working system; that doesn’t mean it’s a conscious, above board, agreed upon system anybody admits to. It’s supposed to be an accident when we damage our kids. I was as gentle a parent as I could imagine to be, but still, when there was tension, when things were hard, I felt used and manipulated, forced into repeating some ancient drama I wanted no part of. I imagine most folks get over it somehow. The sense of eternal recurrence was strong.

I think, two paragraphs up there, I think maybe that’s a tack I should try, talk about it as a “them” thing instead of an “us” thing, scare ’em if you want them to pay attention. Maybe. Because this seems to be as close as we ever approach to “why.” It’s not straight up rational and conscious – but damnit, my description of it should be.

Why not, more like.

Jeff

Jan. 12th., 2021

Being Mis-moralled

Like all my answers, this one arrived breach, backwards, started with the free-floating thought that I had been personally mis-moralled, treated as hostile when I wasn’t. Will you allow the expression?

I understand mis-gendering, the negation of our own self image and expression in favour of someone else’s idea and role for us, I have always been at some distance from the male end of the gender spectrum and have always felt unseen when someone includes me among the manly sorts of men. I’m a “he,” but of course “they” doesn’t bother me – “bro” bothers me. I don’t feel the solidarity it suggests, don’t want it, I do not offer my support to much maleness, much of it is toxic.

But you know what? Not for reasons of sex. That’s not the part of being gendered or mis-gendered that doesn’t fit, and I really don’t take offence if you think I love the ladies, I want to use a strong expression, an anatomical expression, but you know what I mean. I’m not ashamed of my heterosexual leanings, not horrified to be accused of them. My offense is about the other male things, the strength, the violence. A lot of that is directed towards sexual things, conquest and such, and people generally maybe see the sex in that and maybe manage not to see the violence in it, but I am not that way about it. I have this childish idea that some things are more important than sex and gender and that the violence should be the thing that sets off alarms for us instead.

There is enough love and sex in the world that even a little pacifist like myself should be able to find some love, and I did – although maybe my lovers had mis-gendered me, assumed I was tougher than I was, and perhaps some would like to take it back. I found some on my own terms anyhow, I thought, but the general mis-gendering has cost me far more than it’s paid me in the long run. There is a certain amount of testosterone being sexy, but there is also a lot of pain and resentment around it.

I feel being called “bro” like an accusation, I hear “every man is a rapist” In it. I hear “we are all assholes together” in it, I don’t hear “we all love the ladies here” in it, sort of the reverse. It’s more like “we hate everyone, everyone hates us and we’re winning this fight,” that’s what I hear, and I’m not happy with this situation generally, life as a fight. I’m a man, basically, and a white one to boot, supposedly the pinnacle of privilege – why is my life a war, why am I a soldier, fighting and dying in some war and if we’re winning, why doesn’t it ever end?

I feel mis-moralled, that because we white men are winning the war, everyone thinks I’m happy about the whole deal or something. That because men run the world, people think that my life is an exercise in dominance, I don’t have feelings, and want to hurt people or something.

Of course, being “mis-moralled,” being subjected to treatment that is based in assumptions, in this case not about your gender or sexuality, but about something vaguer and more basic, your “morals,” well, that is a part of all of it, isn’t it, this sexism I try to rebel against, that if I’m a man, I’m aggressive, or of regular misogynist sexism generally, and racism. All of it tends to mis-moral the target group, doesn’t it? All of my life I’ve been frustrated about people’s, ladies’ assumptions about me, that I’m some sexist player, when I have always known myself as a person who always tries to good and no harm.

I am absolutely certain that this is a tiny portion of the same feeling a good, clean living Christian black American feels when some white, bigoted obvious sinner lets them know they consider them to be automatically somehow ‘immoral.’ Women generally, looking after everything and everyone and being told by the evangelicals and the old fashioned doctors that women are somehow less developed or less moral, less fit to run the world than the men. Moral efforts seem to count for nothing in this world of group conflict, all try, none get credit, except that within our racist little groups, we are rewarded for good, moral work within and for bad, violent work outside of the group, all under the name of morality.

Bros before hos is “morality” for the bros. Not an endorsement, hence the irony quotes.

But I think this is what hurts, this is the core of it. Mis-gendering has been confusing me some, how is every stranger supposed to know, and why does every stranger need to be familiar with my complex personal sexuality? But it all makes sense this way, that the point of all discrimination is simply the judgement, and the filthy slide into what we call “morality” from matters of other, discreet things, sexuality, race, gender, age, name it. Red headedness. It wouldn’t hurt, and it wouldn’t serve the dominants’ purposes to say, “you’re gay and that’s weird;” it’s always this “you’re wrong” business, the moral othering that makes things dangerous and awful, and it doesn’t matter to a bigot that I might be working hard at being the very best, most moral gay person I can be, making all the right choices.

It’s like when it comes down to it, morality isn’t about choices, isn’t about making moral choices at all, great swathes of humanity are just born “wrong,” to the very people who preach the most about moral choices.

Interesting to me, that again, as the having it easiest demographic there is, an old white male, that I too have suffered this disregard all my life, that there have been almost no-one that ever acknowledged my efforts to be a good fellow. Not saying “me too, I get it,” of course I’m still in the best possible position. My point as always, I think it’s science. That even the best role in this play comes with a large basic serving of bullshit and being hated, even the best served demographic doesn’t have to look far for a reason to be miserable.

This is a hair’s breadth away from white apologism, and I don’t want it to be, I want to say whites are dominant, in charge, causing all of the trouble and strife and we don’t even have the self defense excuse the racists pretend to, this is all our fault. All I want to add is, most whites are getting screwed over too, yes, even as we continue to screw everyone else around. We do not have some working, racist system where all the dominant race’s members are happy and free, and I don’t want one, of course. I’m just saying, this is not a system, as the trolls on Twitter might have you believe, that makes an entire race happy and free.

This is horrible for all but the .01%.

Most white folks are not with the racist cops, mostly, we too are terrified of them. As I said, social media might give you that awful impression, like all whites are happy with Trump, like it’s all white folks against you, of course it’s not, it’s just a few percent of us, against all of us poor folks, of every shade and sexuality. These are not democratic elections, half of no country ever votes for a plague, do they. Never mind the actual vote tallying, actual democracies do not exist awash in misinformation. Actual, human voters in Canada and America aren’t valid, informed voters, a prerequisite for group rule.

I’m trying for it not to be, it always seems to me that to talk about all of us is far more important than to talk about me, but this is very personal for me.

Like I say, I am not black, or female or any seriously persecuted sort of a person, but I have managed to get myself into that situation, where a life of moral strivings means exactly nothing to someone, to the few someones I dedicated my life to being good to, and looking back, maybe from all the ladies in my life ever. White as I am, I am starting to understand invisibility and erasure. Thirty years, entire human beings came into existence and lived lives, in my house, but not in my world, my good self had been erased before they were born.

There are lines not to cross so as not to incur any further abuse from the world, but there are lines that no amount of good behaviour can ever cross and when you “are” wrong, you can’t ever do anything right.

I can’t keep my blogs separate, it’s all one, humanity and me, we have the same problems.

It’s a little bit funny, out of my white guilt and the privilege I have enjoyed, failing upwards or level, I would say, like any white liberal/progressive that I join the disenfranchised voluntarily, that I defend the LGBTQ folks and all oppressed races and such, happily say it, join indeed on paper, in my writing . . . it’s my privileged chickens coming home to roost that the matter has sort of been taken out of my hands, that I stand now, thoroughly marginalized out of my own life.

Jeff

Dec. 28th., 2020

Divergent

picture by @sweetspectre18 (on Twitter)

Am I neuro-divergent? On the autism spectrum somewhere, a species of Asperger’s person or something?

Seriously, I’m asking. Anyone who follows me, if anyone is reading, is that what this looks like to you?

I’m not the Good Doctor, I know that, not that I watch that. I don’t “not understand human emotions,” or anything. I was a pretty successful serviceperson for the phone company, business telephone systems – only towards the very end, as I was breaking down from a medication reaction and a life of gaslighting, did I ever find myself misunderstood, and getting in a bit of trouble. I used to pride myself on my communication skills as well as my getting along skills.

There is some dispute about this. I think I’m not always feeling what I’m supposed to be feeling and while I think I’m processing a complex bunch of emotional information, some folks have said I missed the main feeling. Full disclosure, I took an online EI test and this was my experience, that there was no room in the test for my constant stream of nuanced noise, and I didn’t do as well as I think I should have. Perhaps there is something of divergence in that as well as simple bad data from self-reporting.

I had other theories about why I find life difficult, depression, bipolarity, maybe intelligence, coming from a clan of abusive hillbillies, a lot of theories, and ASD really hasn’t been one of them.

I checked it out anyway, after I lost everyone, I took a long online test, 45 minutes, and I came out the most neuro-typical person possible, and I wanted to agree. Other inquiries, 23 and Me, showed nothing, turns out I’m white, English, the Mensa IQ test showed the comic book one I took as a kid to be right about me, they let me in. Most of my theories haven’t been too bad, but brain types, neuro-types, that’s some very fuzzy stuff. My kid thinks this is our problem, and they think the test was just wrong, inadequate to find anything, and sure. I don’t have a lot of faith in any particular application of mental science myself, not to say anything about free online ones.

I want to argue with this possible ASD diagnosis, the idea bothers me and I’ll tell you all about it, but I want to stay open to it too. I would like something to fit. I gotta be me, but it’s tiring.

I think I can make a case for an instance of a specific divergence, the point of all this, my insight that “negative consequences” are less consequences than they are causes, that our punishments are crimes also and cause the bad things. I . . . I’ve worked this out, audited it, tried it from all angles – my brain says this is the way it is, and I’ve heard your arguments, I won’t be turned around. I want to say, I’m not divergent, you’re divergent! Not simply because I haven’t got the different brain idea fully yet – I haven’t, but because it’s part of my theories, that humans, almost alone among Earth’s creatures are obsessed with moral abuse and hurt one another on the regular. Hurt, I said. Plenty of animals kill one another, the killing is not the unique bit, is it? In this way, I think humanity has diverged from the rest of the animal kingdom to some degree. Human laws ban perfectly normal animal behaviour and allow things that no other animal would endorse.

Humanity is divergent and has serious social problems, seems unable to get comfortable around other living things. At least this modern, extreme version of us.

OK, that’s an extra level removed.

Before the divergence idea came to me, I had been writing for months, maybe longer that in order for humans to evolve, the next move is to stop all that, stop the spanking and such. My kid said there is talk that divergent minds are evolution throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, that the next thing will come from somewhere along the spectrum – this convergence of divergence is tempting.

But is it really a different sort of brain, really a spectrum matter to have one different thought? Well, I suppose “this thought” is rather broad, perhaps antisocialization theory is the name I have thrown over a whole raft of ideas or traits, which, perhaps my homemade version belongs with all the rest, then? I’m trying to be open to this, but in my heart of hearts, or perhaps only today after all, I know that autism goes far beyond matters of aggression, violence, or moral abuse, doesn’t it? Wait, is this one, a trait that isn’t antisocialization theory?

I have always sort of held a rational world simulation in my head, I always deal at a degree of separation. When I’ve had time to think – I try not to do anything where I don’t, so I do a lot of nothing – I’ve always postulated, like “how would this make sense in a more sensible world,” when making decisions, I try to ask myself, “would I make this choice if I weren’t high/angry/sad/white/crazy/male/young/old? I always imagine a straight line that no-one is on but that we all dance around, like the way no-one plays the straight melody in a jazz jam. Is that weird?

This is what I imagine to be “rationalism,” or the path to it, what is the thought, as divorced as possible from where it originated, if we are removed, what is left? I find the science-minded folks that jump to the end of it, that humans “aren’t rational,” are missing the entire world, which resides in the attempt, in making rational what we can.

I assume that’s how we should all deal, and the particular vagaries of anyone’s brain should not amount to a label, again, nobody is on the straight line, and I don’t mean a matter of degree either! Our combined social straight line goes directly to war and strife. The idea that someone gets a fringe label for not being close enough to that line is insane. But that’s just me – ha, that has to be a title at some point. The human line is nowhere near my projected “rational” one, you all need to get off that road and follow me. Not “me,” of course, but we should get away from the social line and try to imagine a rational one, like I did. I may be crossing some line from social critic to mystic – I like that better than “divergent,” too, because again, diverging from what? The popular human divergence that always looks like it’s coming to a horrible end every day of our lives so that we can’t tell the difference when it finally really is?

Hey – I’m going to hazard a guess that straying from the normal social line towards a rational one is enough to make you weird, and perhaps this fits the ‘evolving human’ theory of ASD that the Venn diagram for it merely overlaps heavily with one for rational thinking. That leads to the idea that anything like a treatment for that would be gaslighting torture, the irrational correcting the rational for “social” problems – like not cheering loudly enough at rallies, says my anti-“social” philosophy.

On repeat again, resisting again, and I keep forgetting the point today wasn’t to do that, but to tell you why I do, why I have chosen the public over the personal. It’s just because no-one else is making that choice. OK, that’s just divergence, contrariness – I mean because no-one else is and someone needs to. It needs doing, some age, some year, by someone. We have public, group functions that grind people to bits, and all I see are bandages, babies being pulled out of the river, I just don’t see anyone looking upriver and if that means a problem in my brain, then we should segregate my brain?

Is there not a real world? Real babies?

That doesn’t matter because I’m weird?

It’s confusing, I feel myself protecting something, resisting something, and a life of being under the psychological spotlight and self doubt tells me, it’s you, look first in yourself. I understand it, I do, I’m sure we all agree that I don’t, me too, much of the time, but I do . . . as always, though, I think I see something else too – the conflict between the personal and the public, or individual and species. I’m afraid that if I follow the personal route, the personal, psychological thought, that I am abandoning my social critique, being silenced – defeated by my own theory, slapped down and signing some NDA about what is wrong about all of us, taking my beating and learning my lesson and finally shutting the fuck up – signing off that it’s me that’s weird and tacitly that normals are normal.

Just because I’m not doesn’t mean you are, but I wasn’t born yesterday. I do not want to hand you anything like a label for you to use to invalidate me I’m sorry, if it sounds like I think autistic thoughts aren’t valid. I surely have that bias, but the point in this paragraph is not what I think, but what the public thinks and the slightly larger point in all of this is that this thought matters, autistic or not, all thoughts do. Thoughts mean more than where they came from, and my instincts scream against any theory that comes down to who or what you are. That is social stuff, and just what needs to get turned down a notch. Antisocialization theory is a rational, important thought in my projected rational world, beyond my brain, or your brain, or human brains generally. Sure, I’m defending, I’ve been invalidated enough, thank you. I don’t need any more, not voluntarily, not self inflicted. I’m thinking about it, I haven’t ruled it out. I promise.

I’ll accept it at my pace, when both my hemispheres come around, if they do. I just don’t want it to matter when and if it does.

The idea that I could find comfort, healing, some peace, focussing on the personal, first, I’m very inward, I don’t not personally, but in my philosophy, the idea that I could identify my syndrome and learn more about myself that way, get a broader understanding, think about my own problems more and “everybody’s” problems less – this I plan to sacrifice, to abstain from, because I think I see public problems, group things that no-one else is talking about, and . . . weird to say, I don’t think I can be happy sorting myself out if the world is still awful. I mean, I’m a bit of an amphibian that way, defenseless from the environment. Both my worlds, public and private went straight to Hell in 2015, 2016.

I don’t really understand how you all act like that’s the plan, tell you the truth, sorting yourselves out in this landscape of nightmares – but the answer to that is antisocialization theory, this illness is our solution for something.

I literally don’t care about myself in this equation, I think of my personal self as sort of done and dusted and I see the problems occurring during childhood development. There’s not much help and very little point pulling this baby out of the river, I beg you, be like me, forget me, forget you and look upstream. Nobody is thinking about everybody and everybody has problems, no matter how many of us think we’ve solved our own.

The idea that I am a mutation has occurred before, and that didn’t seem to remove all point and hope from my theory, but ASD does, somehow, maybe because if I was the first mutation, a one-off, that didn’t come with a label, a dismissible label? A self-dismissible label? I haven’t been able to write since this idea came up, it seems pointless suddenly, my pontificating across that gulf, across brain types.

Again, as always, I’m running from a monster nobody else sees, that’s literal, narrative divergence, and the problem is one of those Gordian knots, because “divergent,” is personal, an identity. Not that anyone is compiling a record, but if they were, I would be on record as having been uncomfortable about identities for some time, at least as long as we’ve been seeing bloody swastikas in the news again, I’ve said, darkly and cleverly many times, those folks are really into identities. I’ve evolved a little about it, I no longer worry that potential victims pre-label themselves, because I remember that if all the identities’ problems become dire under some regime, that those sorts of regimes make their own labels anyway. But I have diverged from the social justice movements about it for another reason, or you all have, I’m not sure.

I was born in 1960 and I thought I was the ultimate liberal hippie, because I thought global things like “don’t judge a book by its cover” and maybe even “don’t lay your hang-ups on other people,” – peace and love, and I just thought it meant anybody and everybody. I thought it was one fight, everybody for everybody. I also thought it wasn’t a fight, I thought it was a love-in and not fighting was kinda the point.

But that’s just me?

It breaks my heart continually to see how every persecuted group has grouped up and gotten their own pundits and lobbyists, you know, black groups, LGBTQ groups. I see us as divided and conquered, somehow by ourselves. I see every group pulling its babies out of the river forever and getting more and more organized and well branded about how they pull the babies out of the river, a dozen small, well organized groups, pulling babies out of the river. It’s complicated, because the hospital is upriver, and we all have our babies there, despite that it’s run by the dominants and the normals.

Identities are an expression of human group conflict, like so much of life and they are not going to solve group conflict, group conflict, as always, is only solved by joining up into a larger group. Breaking society down into groups and identities, each with their leaders and soldiers . . . this is not progress, this is humanity’s problem forever. I am sorry. It feels right, because doing your problem always feels right, like addiction. And it really does take a formerly ostracized individual and put them in a traditional human situation, a group, battling another group. I’m sure there’s a sense of coming home, of joining or rejoining humanity in it, absolutely – just for the eternal wrong reasons, sort of. The sense of community, of support and power . . . all these the Nazi groups enjoy also. Groupness is the problem, not “which group,” that is a framing from groupness, from conflict. It’s part of humanness, perhaps, perhaps some evolution is recommended. I have enjoyed the literal, physical advantages of being born into the dominant group, but I must say, I have never enjoyed their support, emotionally. Who wants that? I mean, beside all the gradients of racist? We are the worst. Dominant, worst, these are synonyms to a person of peace, or they are in my divergent mind.

The opposite, the warrior attitude is only true if a life of constant conflict is “best.” Sorry if that’s fuzzy, I don’t want to say it here, let this be one place you don’t see it. It is not the best; it could be better. The worst rule. It’s like nobody remembers the schoolyard or something, we hate it then, and maybe we assume something like that it couldn’t possibly be that way everywhere, at all levels?

Another expression of this divergence involves social theory, relatedness theory. I’ve written it already, so briefly, it’s well established that caring is gene sharing sort of thing, that we risk most, work most for ourselves, with 100% our genes and next for our progeny which have at least 50% and so on, and the least fair way I can say it is, this is why we don’t generally murder and eat our own, those are our genes, we want them to live, we help them when we can.

This I see as making sense against some unspoken backdrop of violence, that the other side of this coin is that of course you would kill and eat some person who wasn’t family. I suspect that neuro-typical people accept this, makes some sort of sense – I mean, they wouldn’t say it like I just did, they wouldn’t have to confront it, it’s the positive expression, we help our own, that’s how it’s talked about. Is it only my divergent self that sees the other side of the coin, the totality of the concept? I looked at this and decided that humans must operate from some active drive on the theory of unrelatedness, that unrelated bovines or ungulates or many things do not have this response to their own kind, only mitigated by relatedness, that there is no pressure on kangaroos to use and abuse unrelated kangaroos.

We are predators, sure – but we go further. You don’t see the alpha lion defeating some upstart and then bringing him home as a slave. Territoriality is brutal, but lions do not make their living off of unrelated lions.

The lack of relatedness doesn’t seem to necessitate abuse among predator or prey – slavery, etc., – to me, and further, and I’m shocked, but I don’t see that in the books. I spend most of my blogs talking about the background, ideas of human nature, but maybe there is more to the background and environment than just ideas like those. The totality of the concept – that’s not divergence, that’s just philosophy, Kant, I think. Still not sure about the “rationalism.” The divergence around social theory, thinking about the background . . . I don’t want to think so, but other folks don’t see it, that’s really the test, isn’t it?

It sounds like a lot of the “traits” or issues for folks with ASD are about how other people treat them – us, maybe – about what other folks don’t see, and I feel that. I’m sensitive, what is normal conversation to everyone seems full of defensiveness and disdain to me, I am continually hurt that people always seem to be assuming the worst about everyone and about me. A big part of antisocialization theory is that the abuse desensitizes us all, so extricating that, untangling these things . . . I can see myself trying to take this on, I sort of need another impossible puzzle, I’ve outlived the first one, beat the game that wasn’t supposed to be beatable, and I’m getting bored again.

NAS has a lot of overlap too, and I’m a lot more serious about thinking I’m suffering that than anything else these days. I suspect the experience of divergence is a lot like that, the feeling of gaslighting, it’s all basically trying to live in someone else’s brain, someone else’s story. Right? Does divergence get worse? The world used to irk me, but these days I feel I just glance off of it, that I can’t penetrate it at all. That’s the NAS, I assume.

Having that feeling like I’m not going to outlive this puzzle. Looks pretty impossible.

Or maybe in my next blog, I’ll file the whole idea with psychology, with counselling and therapy generally, as all part of the gaslighting, all part of why I should shut up and help pull babies out of the river. I don’t know. This is the agony side of the process.

This one belongs in both blogs, this is a fuzzy one that is half personal and half theory, which I don’t know if it’s coming together or coming apart just now. Yee-hah. Be as children, live in the question . . . like I said. Tiring.

Jeff

Nov. 27th., 2020

Primal Scream

I know it’s infantile. This is not me, blindly immature, refusing to accept the fact of the world, it’s me, cognizantly immature . . . and refusing to accept the fact of the world.

I know it’s genderless (which, being fair, comes free with infantile) when I’m singing “I Feel the Earth Move.” That is not me, blindly in the closet, “accidentally” liking a female song, complete with the at the time most common euphemism for the female orgasm for a title and a chorus. That is me, acknowledging both women as well as my own feminine side – I know, I don’t look it while in my Dockers and band T-shirt, partially bearded. Having already lived a fairly full cis life and been driven mad with boredom by it, I’ve decided I belong with the freaks – no slight intended – but I’m sort of undemonstrative. The man costume doesn’t give exactly the right impression, but I’m trying not to be too hung up on costume and impressions. I always do something, weird haircut, some bright jacket no-one would touch, to give the clue.

These days, I’ve quit cutting my hair, I’m retired/unemployed, may as well let my freak flag fly, and it’s sort of genderless, long hair. I’m straight, I’m just not militant about it, genderless needs space.

I look pretty straight, if not at all tough. You’d think I have negative opinions about non-straight or non-white people, but I don’t, I so don’t. I’ve been bullied and terrorized by straight white males too, in my life that’s where all the trouble comes from too.

I expect I look more like a grownup than I feel also – but again, not blindly. Infantile is a conscious choice – I mean as well as a psychological disorder, it’s my disorder of choice, because “mature” means hard, mature means antisocial, mature means killed feelings and going about the business of killing things. You being mature means you do not care when I cry, or worse, you prefer that. You and me, Ma, still in that standoff, no I won’t fucking “self-soothe,” that is your job.

The crying will continue until treatment improves.

I know it’s still that baby cry I’m making every time I dissent, every time I fight something in life that most folks don’t object to – I know it internally, I mean every time I cry out, part of it is that I am still waiting for an answer to the first scream, that I look at it like if I never stop crying and if someone comes to see what’s wrong, ever, then I was heard eventually and not permanently ignored. I haven’t lost hope, you see, you all still have a chance to make this right! I mean, Mom’s gone, but you still can! Maybe you see this and think I don’t, but I see it:

I think growing up means giving up, of course I do.

Perhaps when I was young I had less of an idea of giving up on what exactly, but I think that what I’ve been  looking at, putting off, is giving up on is you, people. I suppose that was always it, but I’m here working through this because something has finally budged, something in this is moving for me a little and it’s not that I’m giving up now and the struggle is over, at least it doesn’t feel like that bad ending I’ve been fearing. Maybe I can give up without it being the end of the world, is what it’s whispering to me today.

Maybe writing y’all off isn’t the end. I’m still here, after all.

It’s a moral capitulation for me. I’m infantile, I know it, but I’m not a child. When I decide at nearly sixty that the rest of you are swine and not worth talking to until you prove otherwise, that is not going to pass as infantile, preverbal rage, is it? (Do you see it? I’d better cop first – I think that’s a lot of peoples’ true excuse for the same decision, that they made at the more appropriate time, like early childhood.) It was never my way to disregard someone, never the plan. I lived, heart on my sleeve, trying hard not to be defensively protecting myself from the people in my life, immediately either bringing them into my moral circle and trying to understand them or simply running away from them, not having them in my life. I don’t want to fight.

A lot of folks didn’t think so, because I like to talk and debate and philosophize and psychologize, but that is central to my dilemma here, I was treating them all as peers and equals and worth talking to and giving my honest thoughts and feelings . . . I think this is “regard,” me caring what you think, wanting to know what it is and sharing any information I think I have that I think you may not. I give any little wisdom I have away for free and if anyone would listen I would hold nothing back, talk myself straight out of a job, empty myself completely.

I wasn’t able to lie, protect myself that way, I was bad at keeping secrets, because I keep almost none of my own, I am always offering my privacy and my foibles in trade, hoping for some honesty and intimacy in return, TMI is my middle name. This I see as my function in the world, lead by example, be vulnerable, be embarrassed, don’t fear judgement and don’t judge, share the knowledge.

I lack boundaries.

But I find myself trying to remember if my honesty and humility ever did bring any reciprocation, and I can’t think of a single instance. I may have gotten a reputation for being “nice,” which in the words of Lone Watie, Chief Dan George’s character in the Outlaw Josey Wales, “I think it means we’re easy to sneak up on.” Beware of people who compliment you for simple honesty and then complain that you talk too much. Also old men who want to teach you the thing they could never learn!

That’s called “mansplaining,” a sub-category of the Dunning Kruger effect.

Sorry about that. Come back and read that to me tomorrow and every day for the rest of my life, would you mind?

Anyway, enough about my sainthood and how I can’t ever learn to hate, the point is, I think I may have found a way after all, I think I may finally see a crack in it, I think I may be able to separate things ever so slightly, have a boundary without having to start a war. I mean, not for what I would call a good reason, I just think I’ve finally been hurt enough to get it. This infantile, naive fearlessness crap will get you killed.

 

Jeff,

Feb. 22nd., 2020

Oh, Twitter

– banned this morning.

First it was me calling someone a “shizo,” and fair enough, my bad, removed. So it’s restricted features – but the best ones, I’m talking to friend in DMs when suddenly I’m gone again.

Same message, some restricted features, DMs with your friends, except no, they are not letting me in at all. Sorry, Sue! Find me here if you want, I guess!

All I can imagine is somebody finally heard something I said, I guess!

I expect I’ve been targeted by some evil army of cat lovers or some militant quilting group or other.

I suppose I’ll sign in again for three minutes in the ten hours or so they say they’re giving me until they do it again. I feel seen!

Finally.

 

Jeff

Sept. 25th., 2019