Saturday, February 11, 2006

Golly! An Existential Crisis!

I think its kind of nifty that I really might be having a true existential crisis. Not some theoretical philosophical gambit, but a really real time where I’ve pulled the rug out from under my own feet.  Before I go making the whole thing complicated again, maybe I should summate, and just put down what I really think, even if simplifying makes it more real than I feel I can handle:
There is nothing really wrong with me. Oh, I have problems, but then I do have ADHD and have social issues at times, but nothing as humongous as I’ve always painted the insufferable torment of my painful life to be. I don’t need to feel abnormal anymore. I’m still uncommon, but that’s good, being fucked-up all the time can be over if I want it. I was much the overprotected and hard-to-understand kid who craved attention and hated being told what to do (like most kids.) I wasn’t made much responsible and industrious throughout my youth, so I had plenty of time to sit and creatively brood in my bedroom about the terrible injustice of it all. I think the more I brooded, the deeper I went into myself, and further away from everyone else, so that I created unwittingly a process that exponentially manufactured the right formula to brew up a conviction of total paranoid oppression. The worse I behaved, the harder it was to get along with my peers, the more my peers rejected me for that friction with the system, the more the reason for me to continue to believe I was being “exiled.” Just somewhere along the line, possibly I got really lost in the way that some kids don’t understand what it means to be responsible, so I could deflect the shame I felt over “failing,” by blaming the “way things are” for all my problems. And I withdrew further and further, leaving me to spend a good majority of my time to try to figure out what was wrong with everyone else. I was smart, but imaginatively irrational. My existence was based on being wrong and broken, and making sure I knew absolutely where the proper source of fault was. I’ve known a lot of this, a long time, but I wasn’t ready, I think, to bring it together and question a huge chunk of the foundation of who I thought I was (and am) and what I could do to make it better. A few real issues, and a few actual failures in communication with myself, my family, and the institutions I was born into, became the basis of a huge and complicated system of justification for my problems and defense against an enemy that in the end, appears never to have existed.

I’ve not really talked with anyone about what’s going on but on here, and with my shrink. And the shrink was freaky enough. He did that thing some therapists do when they get enthused and attentative where they go Spock with the fingers meeting and the side of their hands pressed against their lower face, and called the session, “one of the most important conversations we’ve ever had.” I’m still acting the same, I think, as I continue to go through my usual motions, bad habits and all, automatically, without reason. Maybe I do seem different to others, I’m not sure. I probably should ask. It’s not so much that I am resisting, which I am doing some, but more that I am overwhelmed. When I try to process, I can sometimes real the effects, but I have a harder time seeing the change directly, because this time (beyond my prior hyperbole) it is so much further outside my frame of reference that thoughts unravel in my head, when they reach the end of their limits. It’s like I can sometimes really perceive it on the periphery, even though it really spread thoroughly into me, because ahead is a huge blind spot where my perceptions are pulling blanks, unable to “see” what is there. I’ve been locked in a series of logical cycle traps for so much time that I keep expecting what “always” happens when something “monumental” is achieved, to the point where I am afraid of resulting events and behaviors that I no longer really do, or might have done for years, but believed I did because my expectations defined a lot of my reality. This is just so weird. I haven’t even explained what “it” is, have I? I guess that could be part of the problem, because this is so existential that I can only see it when I project it outward and read the reflections.
Still, I know know that something is different. I wrote this entry with a considerable lack of absolutes, and second-person references. I didn’t start it as the planned experiment; it started to happen on its own. Maybe this is how it supposed to be. I wonder if the new code has been injected, and the meta-program is rewriting itself, and when I see the new programming enacted as different choices leading to living as a really interactive being amongst the other interactive beings. I feel like the fault shouldn’t really matter unless I’m responsible for my own life. For a long time, I felt like I was somehow a sensory sink, where my perceptions never reached some kind of fullness, because I refused to let them bounce back off me, because I wanted to control how everyone else saw things. I was right, but I didn’t want to follow through to see that I was doing this to control what I saw. I was deeply possessive of my ideas, and I know for certain what happens when I think someone is telling me I’m wrong.  
I don’t know what’s harder to take, that I’ve worked hard to expose some of this stuff so clearly, or but made it so difficult to convince myself of how much larger and deeper it all went. Then, there’s the unsettling thought, that I dramatized the “journey” to being a “greater” person, that I couldn’t see the possibility I’ve done all this work just to catch back up to being just a person. I’ll believe, least for now, that tackling the task itself, and maybe making it this “far,” means I will still have created in myself something greater than I started with.
This could be what happens when for whatever my illusionary motives or misdirected means birthed the need to question, that questioning itself lives as an article of faith, until I do what I least wanted and unconsciously hoped, that one day, I’d even question the new questioning of the original questioning and end up with my head out of my ass. I like the sound of that. The worst feeling is that I’ve lost the belief that everything did happen to me for a reason, it was all necessary to make me “the man I am now.” Why else would I have gone through the gauntlet I crossed through to be a freethinker, and find the message in my experiences and teach it to others? I think that the answer was for awhile, that I did all this to find out I didn’t need anyone else and I could make my own purpose now that I was “free of society’s preconceived paths.” (It’s hard to believe how pretentious that sounds when I think about it. Probably was a lot worse for others to here. If I had come up with any message, I’m not sure anyone would want to hear it coming from me in that way.) Now, I’m losing the reality that I made for myself to fulfill that question, so both the question and answer fall away from me.  
TT tells me often that he doesn’t think he’s special. And I should not think that I am special. I guess I see his point. I scripted cerebrally a sweeping epic saga of one unique soul out to find himself in suffering world… and so on. I am a freethinker, and a Way seeker, but then so is TT, the Woman, a lot of other people.  Different doesn’t have to be separate. In my head, I had to be all that I thought I was, and sitting alone for hours, it made some sense that I was alone, because no-one else was my equal. Something so simpoleThat kind of specialness, I can do without. But, I am someone who asks for more out of life than most people really need. I do want to know the big and importance meanings, and never stop looking for ways to improve myself, but naked as I feel right now, least I’m not alone, whether I can see it or not.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

An epic saga about too much epic sagas in my life.

If I wasn’t so tired, I’d be effervescent over having time night back at the old back door desk, with a supervisor who prefers to do all the footwork for the shift. Sorry to have been long in the posts again, but primarily, its been really tiring to adjust to my new schedule, in full site rotation (meaning I work wherever they put me,) so that my job is now as rove-heavy as it was rove-light before the change. I’ve slept more than usual, and I had trouble being anything but lethargic, or least, mildly hedonistic, on my last two weekends. Not that I considered these weekends wasted, or felt (all that much) guilty over it. But I’ve been really resistant to sitting down and writing out what I’ve been mulling over so intently the fortnight, because of the troubling nature of those thoughts, and this is the secondary reasoning. It could be the primary, but I’m so good at being lethargic that I was being too lazy too tell the difference.

     Much as I like deconstruction, I loath what happens when I do it to myself, especially when I come across something that makes me decidedly uncomfortable to challenge. My self-work is mostly stripping back the layers of things I do/have done and I say/have said, which are really important indicators of identity I project (as opposed to the one I believe I have,) to expose the source motivators and beliefs that hold my reality-tunnel in place. I can’t say any of the process is pleasant, but some can be downright gruesome, especially with my control issues.  When I speak of finding the mountain when I crash right into it, this is a sparkling example. Add in the heavier impact of discoveries when working at these deeper levels of myself. And here I am, facing what I feel is a core definer, something that I’ve discolored my world with for years, going back into the ill-remembered days of childhood, and back even further into one of my most basic fears; that when I have peeled away the projection of me, there is little of the true me underneath. The realization is quite simple, unsurprisingly. Complications are more my own doing. I’ve been dancing around this for the last several years, but all that didn’t solidify until I was “ready” more recently.

So much more of my understanding comes from trigger events that bust open what is underneath them, when I need to know. I’d like to stroke my ego, but in public that’s probably indecent, and I’m not directly the source of all my changes like I always want to believe. Some stuff comes when it comes, usually when I am aiming to blindly do a major repeat of a bad decision. Management transferred some officers from night shift to swing, just recently, and to fill those slots; I’ve been moved into full site rotation, meaning I’m more likely to be doing mall roves, than desk duty. At first I didn’t know about the whole transfer thing when I found out, and I got really mad. I had been told I would be working the back door desk, except for irregular training on other parts of the site. I couldn’t understand why I needed to work anywhere else, and I resented the amount of burnt shoe-leather the roves entailed. Naturally, I started complaining to anyone who would listen, but it was only until I realize I was questioning the decision vocally with a supervisor, that this time, I knew I’d gone too far. I figured I must have been damn obnoxious to listen to, with all that presumptuousness. And that’s when I clicked over. Who in the hell did I think I was demanding how and where I should work, at a service industry job no less? It was that I felt entitled to working as I pleased, as if I knew better, and that meant there was no reason what I wanted shouldn’t be. Here I was, Mr. Independence, and I was still trying to manipulate the system to get what I want, while cursing it out at the same time. When I had sought security, swallowing enough pride, I’d been sure I’d get something less comfortable than the peach post I had. I wanted the desk job, though, and I was already working up some way to get it back, when it dawned on me that I was handling this precisely as I’d handled anything else I didn’t like, and anything I felt to which I thought myself entitled. Where did I get this sense of entitlement? How could I believe something not that hard to do, was too hard for me, and I couldn’t do it? Did I see much of my life in the same way? And when I started to cringe is when I what I believed was probably wrong, and had been wrong much of my life, going all the way back. And when I worked through that, I came up with a believed truth that has turned everything upside-down. Again.
My life ain’t been so tough. There. That’s all there is. Amazing, isn’t it? A simple unassuming statement, that happens to undermine a greater majority of my approach to my life.  I’ve actually worked with this bugger on several occasions, but the narrowness of my reality tunnel of the time hadn’t broadened enough for me to really question this truth, as in I only glanced off the mountain. I don’t ever remember a time I didn’t feel like the heavier weight of the troubles of my life was found outside myself, in the very iconic structures of my childhood, from my father to Western Civilization. Being smart made the whole society-is-at-fault a lot easier to justify rationally. In my inner eye, my life has been a veritable hell of persecution and abandonment by all the things and people I was told I could count on to produce a good life. Now I am dueling with this fallacy: Certainly I have a persecution complex, but that’s because, well, I was so savagely persecuted.  My life had been a hell born of unending social failures which left me open to the constant attacks by my peers, as if I was being thrown sacrificially with my blood used to oil the great wheels of social conformity. (I know I sound overdramatic in presenting this image of my childhood, but that’s the point. It’s over dramatized.) I am a creature of paradox born of the endless pain of rejection and solitude. It’s all so horrible that I have blocked out nearly all my memories up until I was seventeen. Yadda yadda. I can go on like that for pages. I’ve managed to make something out of my oppression, but like a truly dogmatic zealot, I have never really dared question the truth of that oppression.
     Don’t get me wrong here. I did get the really bad end of the social stick. I was badly misunderstood by the various authority figures and institutions, and I did end up alone and angry a lot. My parents are indeed control freaks, as are both side of my family, and they really didn’t have any idea what to make of their unexpected learning-disabled son, but I could still get them to get me anything I wanted, really. I was immature, and blind in my desire for attention. (All my life I’ve been given to histrionics. When I was told to get out from my last job, I screamed and bawled simultaneously. This is the first time I’ve owned that. I acted a lot worse on my last day, than I’ve ever let on, and probably just buried myself deeper.)  I really did go through some rough stuff as a kid, but I won’t own up that it wasn’t as rough as I believed. I’ve gained even a measure of comparative suffering only recently. It’s not that hard to do. I listen to what the Woman went through, and I bet she thinks my life sounded like a cakewalk, albeit maybe with a really bad thigh rash. So much of it, I think is “compromise” I made so that I could get along with others, and not accept that their pain is less than my pain.
     I’ve walked such a thin line in confronting my past that I’ve just drawn up more detailed rationalities, and accepted them as facts. I’ve always believed that I blocked out so much of my childhood because it was so terrible and humiliating that I could only function if I forgot the whole damn thing and moved on. I feel weird for only now finding the huge flaws in this piece of fine logic. My hyperactivity is present in my life now, but not nearly at the uncontrollable levels of the climb up to the  peak at around the young teens, and my hold on that plateau until my senior year of high school (which was also the height of my medication dosages.) If my focus is loose now, and my memory unreliable also, that I forget the names of people I live with, and my street address, then how worse was my storage when I was at the heights. My mother has told me that I used to forget my own name, when I was around ten. My life is still a massive blur at times, where when I am running hot, I can become very disjointed from time and space references in my head. What if I can’t remember my youth because it got washed over and blurred out of my memory? Then also, I’ve done so much work to rebuild myself into a functional person, that I find I can’t quite grasp my frame of mind before the GF. Maybe, it’s like I’ve rendered my neural memory pathways to then semi-obsolete, so that my software can’t really access it.  I’d taken the troubles remembering and incorporated them intrinsically that they helped build a false sense of foundation, which formed the very way I see and react to the world around me, and to myself.
     Weirder is the idea that I drew up this elaborate psychodrama, like some individual mythology, based on a few nuggets of actual experience, because I didn’t have it so rough. I’m not the child of high privilege, but I never did any chores, or the few I was asked to do I weaseled my way out. With few friends, no extracurricular activities, and low expectations, I spent nearly all my free time in my room, reading and watching TV. (Mostly watching TV.) So I had all the time in the world to dwell on how I was a social misfit, and build a fine fortress from a small house in my head to explain it all away. The pain was real, but I did more damage just sitting around and trying to resolve my suffering. My ability to communicate was just about nil, and was until college. So, even though my parents spent gobs of money on pills, shrinks, and other help, I didn’t even know how to ask for that help. And the help assumed away on who I was and what was wrong, so that I can imagine how frustrated I must have been. And how baffled I was, since I felt entitled to answers that made sense to me, that I felt I could control and master, if I just knew them. And I got angrier and angrier. Ever since the GF, I’ve been afraid of my anger. I don’t like how it feels now, and I still can barely keep it in check, but back then I had no self-control. Resentment festers much quicker in my self-professed” exile, along with the sadness I guess I was trying to escape. That was a bad time, and one I wish I was more thankful I survived. No matter how bad, or more over  in matter of how bad I thought my life was, I never crossed the lines, with my right being suicide or drug addiction, and my right being Columbine. Least that I know I am not exaggerating, since I do at least remember how intensely I hated school, and dreamed of exacting my revenge. I’ve never been sure if it was luck or cowardice that kept it from going any further. Hope seems like an invention of conceit, as another invention of that time when I attempted to glory in my unbound heroic struggle against the universe. But I’d like to think otherwise, still.
     Man, this is really hard. I’ve worked out a lot of this sporadically, but I’ve never brought together like this. As I write, I’m confirming to myself the distinct possibility that indeed, everything I know is wrong. I’ve spent years trying to give up my self-beatified victimization, when I could never give it up, because so much of it just isn’t real. I can’t even imagine how I will manage to understand what I see or what I think without this personal paradigm. Honestly, I am scared that I’ve invested so much of myself in over-rationalizing my problems, that like my memory, who I am might have been completely forced out in the miasma of one smart spoiled kid trying to figure out why no-one understands him, and passing the responsibility off onto the system and turning the whole thing into this epic battle of one guy against the universe. My life is mostly just a big misunderstanding… with myself. Ugh. What will I do if no-one, even myself, is to blame? How much more of my sense of perception and experience are quasi-illusions needed to keep the fantasy going?
I've decided for extra-long Word documents, of which I am producing many.. this one was four pages in a small font... that I will post them here and cross-link them to my other journal. Once again we'll see how this works out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Well, I have to sadly announce that no new posts will be added to this blog, as I have moved my operation all over to LiveJournal as one_realm1 there. I want to see if I can expand my readership. This blog will stay up.. as an archive. Thanks for all my Blogger readers.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Enough with the singing, already....

     I don’t know why I am trying to write tonight, as my leg infection has segued into the head cold, brought on courtesy of intentional living, that is making my brain feel like a moistened sponge forced into a silly putty egg. Usually being ill is the worst time for me to write, when I get the most, well… Jewish. No matter how far I stray from the doctrines, when I get sick, I turn into 80 year-old man from the Bronx. I wander around, shuffling droopily, and mumbling loudly about whatever part of me is unhappy at that moment, as if no fate is worse than mine at that moment. With a pardon to my boundless humility, some wax eloquently about their suffering, but I turn into a regular Shakespeare. Melodrama aside, I really can’t complain (too much,) as a head cold is peanuts compared to the whole mess with the leg. Or the kidney stones before that. Or the flu before that.  Damn, I am an 80 year old man from the Bronx.

     I feel like as ass right now, as it is, for two reasons. Firstly, how much more sickness and pain right in a row will it take to get me to treat my body better than I do. I was doing good after the kidney stones, but that didn’t hold. If I keep this up, my body is literally going to fall apart before my eyes, like someone who recklessly drives a car for several years, and never changes the oil, or checks the tires. Secondly, like tonight before I left for work, I’ve not truly participated in Sunday family dinner, either due to being ill and bed-bound, or being so damn tired after sleeping off work-related grief. With J in the house, there’s been another up-swing of connectivity between members of the house, and I’ve been in a few episodes of that. Still, I feel a distance growing between myself and the House, with none of the responsibility on the House. And this is the time I should feel the need for them the most. Not just for physical support either, but also for social support. I’ve taken a lousy job with even lousier hours, and my social life beyond the house walls is just about zip, since the serious tank it took with my unemployment. But my dynamic, like most of my relation to the world around me right now, seems to be just off-center enough to cause this kind of unease. Christ on a pogo-stick, I still can’t believe I yelled at NP over a coffee-maker.

     But when you put a lot of the pieces together, with the increased vulnerability to sickness, the social disjunction, the anger surges, and the external withdrawal, some image does emerge. The problem is I’m so lousy at knowing where I am at now, because I’ve pushed further out from the known that even I can properly measure, that I’m most likely to misread this. Or I’m reacting to an internal shift that I can’t, or won’t recognize, at this point. Every once in awhile, I get up a good reflect on myself, more intuitively working through stuff, and I start wondering what would it be like if I suddenly acknowledged where I am really at. Then I get that fearful feeling, you know, when you feel like an unseen hand just grips your essence, and squeezes. And I drop that line of questioning really fast. Then, after the Great Freakout of ’91, I’ve known well that there is a line, so thin to be nearly invisible, between momentous epiphany and abject terror. In the end, I bet it will be like in the Zen stories, where someone will say something to me that sounds wrong, but is received right, and I will find illumination. It happened before, on a lesser scale, as an Irish guy patted me on back after I vomited all over myself at San Bernardino’s only British-style pub at the time. But that’s another story.
(at this point, I will recognize that DayQuil is a very good thing indeed.)
It’s not like I expect right now, I will get my whole act together, la-dee-dah, but I should listen to my own words in my last few journal-style entries, and just find the means to clear the Ways and Means enough to have a reasonable clarity within and a sounder agreement without, and not for myself alone, too. I’ve never been as close to writing again as I am right now, mostly through my relationship with D. Not just that we’re planning a collaborative effort, i.e. tag-team writing, but simply because D keeps reminding me that I have something to say.  This is one of the know/feel issues. I know that I have something to say, but I have never really felt like I have something to say. He makes me feel like I have something to say. And if I start writing, in any capacity, then I might stop considering writing some obtuse hobby done while I find a “real job” in the “real” world, and start feeling that the lousy job I am on now, is just the means to support myself, so I can write. It’s a simplistic turn, but to me, it’s probably the closest thing I have to an real aspiration.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to get in a better space, and write more, so I can return to the honest exploration of a heretic’s journey that this blog was meant to be, not repetitive ramblings of some shmuck who can’t see his true nature for the life of him, and keeps to religious/cultural neurosis as a crutch.

Just a final note, I’m thinking of moving KPC to LiveJournal. Except for J the Younger, no one else I know, uses Blogger, and so I miss out on the friend networks that build on LJ. It’s just a thought, I’ll decide sometime soon.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


     The recent dearth of entries hasn’t been for the lack of things to say, but most the lack of coherence with which to say them. I’ve attempted several statements on something going on in my head, only to lose them when I couldn’t hold the center. There lies the crux of my condition, the serious absence of a centering right now. I’m in this pronounced state of “I-don’t-knowness,” for the lack of a good big word.  Sometimes the hardest thing is holding steady when the fit hits the shan, because tension can trigger old behaviors so much easier, and I’m all the blinder of it. So I try to hold two conflicting behaviors without some central resolution, and wonder what happened when I finally notice my blunderings. After losing so many workdays to my infected leg, I thought I was relieved to return to work, when I wanted to be relieved to return to my personal stuff.  As I read more, and think more on the way I do things, I’m still falling back on my job as the near totality. “Long as I am working, I’m fine. Why should I do much else?” Mind you, I don’t think that. I ended up doing some serious neural hermeneutics to pull that coded line from the greater script. I’ve not noticed how twitchy I was, and how I was (and am) placing unreal expectations for others to meet, until after I had two verbal altercations with the Native Pagan, upset J, who moved into H’s old room, and got ready for a cold war with NP over a coffee filter in the new coffee maker. Not just that I was being damn petty, I was also wrong, and NP was right. In general, I’ve fallen back onto a playground of resentments that I am at a loss to say what really reopened it. Amongst the chaos of the last few months, I guess I’ve let some things I had pushed back for better headspace, creep in, for no reason but the irrationality borne of a tough time.
     I’ve been turning to the older dualism, with the “old” me and the “new” me considered as separate parts of me, but right now its hard to not use the language. So much of my negative behavior is neural triggers so deeply entrenched into my circuitry, that they seem to work independent of the newer reprogramming I’m hopefully rewriting into me. The “I-don’t-knowness” might come from the false emotional and intellectual echoes bounced off the older program, itself a trigger of mistrust of myself at a visceral level. I’m carrying it better than before, but I can’t remember when the last time I was loaded with latent anger. I was outraged when I got fired, and had a knee-jerk reaction that fired up the old victimization engine, but even that was narrower. I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t be reframing my current approach as intellectual, emotional, or even spiritual, but instead as political. I’m still trying to compromise two states within myself, vying for network space, when the only way is to make a political alliance of convenience between the two systems. Then I get to practice what little faith I have that the alliance will hold. It frightens me sometimes. I mean, I think about WWI when some poor noble shmuck got shot and the ripples of badly-made treaties and gentlemanly national agreements led to an all-out war that no-one really won. It’s like I’m patting myself on the back for creating an intricate philosophical means to not be responsible for my actions and get something done by not trying to control everything so much. What I’ve created is a real mess of compromises in which détente is held at the cost of acceptance of any meaningful long-term solution. This solution is one that would insure my own sense of freedom in the environment I live within, and acceptance that I can’t have freedom at the cost of others’ freedom.
     At least I’ve gotten to the point where, like now, I know when I should shut up, because I’m done saying what I’ve hoped to say, without drowning it too heavily in analysis.

     Of course, I could just be having fits because D has been sick all week, with food poisoning. We’ve exchanged a few e-mails, but I really haven’t “talked” to him for days. I’ve said, and more thought, some stupid things about our relationship, a lot to do with that problem of expectations, but when the fog clears, I miss him because he makes me feel better. When I chat with him, I feel like the world isn’t so big and my life isn’t so small, and I matter because I matter to him. I’m awful at this whole love thing. I generally am getting a little better at the whole friendship love thing, but I’m so lost with this kind of love. I can’t remember if it was Ovid or if it was Horace who said that love is two mad people made more made for the want of each other. Hell, it could have been Susan Sontag, for all I know. But I like the sentiment. I don’t need to know I love him. I just do. For whatever the future holds. So I guess, I’m least being uncompromising in one place. I’ll take it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Emphasis on no. 4

     “By now, it should be obvious that chiefdoms introduced the dilemma fundamental to all centrally governed, non-egalitarian societies. At best, they do good by providing expensive services impossible to contract on an individual basis. At worst, they function unabashedly as kleptocracies, transferring net wealth from the commoners to upper classes. These noble and selfish functions are inextricably linked, although some governments emphasize much more of one function than the other. The difference between a kleptocrat and a wise statesman, between robber baron and a public benefactor, is merely one of degree; a matter of just how large a percentage of the tribute extracted from producers is retained by the elite, and how much the commoners like the public uses to which the redistribution tribute is put. We consider President Mobutu of Zaire a kleptocrat because he keeps too much tribute (the equivalent of millions of dollars) and redistributes too little tribute (no functioning phone system in Zaire.) We consider George Washington a statesman because he spent tax money on widely admired programs and did not enrich himself as president. Nevertheless, George Washington was born into wealth, which is much more unequally distributed in the United States than in New Guinea villages.
     For any ranked society, whether a chiefdom or state, one thus has to ask: why do commoners transfer the fruits of their hard labors to kleptocrats? This question, raised by political theorists from Plato to Marx, is raised anew by voters in every modern election. Kleptocracies with little public support run the risk of being overthrown, either by downtrodden commoners or by upstart would-be replacement kleptocrats seeking public support by promising a higher ratio of services rendered to fruits stolen. For example, Hawaiian history was repeatedly punctuated by revolts against repressive chiefs, usually led by the younger brothers promising less oppression. This may sound funny to us in the context of old Hawaii, until we reflect on all the misery still being caused by such struggles in the modern world.
     What should the elite do to gain popular support while still maintaining a more comfortable lifestyle than the commoners? Kleptocrats throughout the ages have resorted to a mixture of four solutions:
     1. Disarm the populace and arm the elite. That’s much easier in these days of high-tech weaponry, produced only in industrial plants and easily monopolized by the elite, than in ancient times of spears and clubs easily made at home.
     2. Make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received, in popular ways. Thus principle was as valid for Hawaiian chiefs as it is for American politicians today.
     3. Use the monopoly of force to promote happiness, by maintaining public order and curbing violence. This is potentially a big and underappreciated advantage of centralized societies over noncentralized ones. Anthropologists formerly idealized band and tribal societies as gentle and nonviolent, because visiting anthropologists observed no murder in a band of 25 people in the course of a three-year study. Of course they didn’t; it’s easy to calculate that a band of a dozen adults and a dozen children, subject to the inevitable deaths occurring anyway for the usual reasons other than murder, could perpetuate itself if in addition one of its dozen adults murdered another adult every three years. Much more extensive long-term information about band and tribal societies reveal that murder is the leading cause of death….
     4. The remaining way for kleptocrats to gain public support is to construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy. Bands and tribes already had supernatural beliefs, just as do modern established religions. But the supernatural beliefs of bands and tribes did not serve to justify central authority, justify transfer of wealth, or maintain peace between unrelated individuals. When supernatural beliefs gained those functions and became institutionalized, they were thereby transformed into what we term a religion. Hawaiian chiefs were typical of chiefs elsewhere, in asserting divinity, divine descent, or at least a hotline to the gods. The chief claimed to serve the people by interceding for them with the gods and reciting the ritual formulas required to obtain rain, good harvests, and success in fishing.
     Chiefdoms characteristically have an ideology, precursor to an institutionalized religion, that buttresses the chief’s authority. The chief may either combine the offices of political leader and priest into a single person or may support a separate group of kleptocrats (that is, priests) whose function is to provide ideological justification for the chiefs. That is why chiefdoms devote so much collected tribute to constructing temples and other public works, which serve as centers of the official religion and visible signs of the chief’s power.
     Beside justifying the transfer of wealth to kleptocrats, institutionalized religion brings two other important benefits to centralized societies. First, shared ideology or religion helps solve the problem of how unrelated individuals are to live together without killing each other – by providing them with a bond not based on kinship. Second, it gives people a motive, other than generic self-interest, for sacrificing their lives on behalf of others. At the cost of a few society members who die in battle as soldiers, the whole society becomes more effective at conquering other societies or resisting attacks.”

From Guns, Germs, and Steel  by Jared Diamond

Friday, December 23, 2005

I do remember the grand old days when I was even more foolish that I am now, which frightens me alone, I actually believed in God solely to have the largest possible target to blame for the times had like in December. I never was pick on going Infernal.. I leaned more to a Job-ian approach. I was narcisstic in my neurosis to believe that the Powers that Be had handpicked me to make my life difficult for whatever esoteric reasons. There was something comforting of lifting a fist to the sky and shaking it threateningly. You're in excrutiating pain as muscle spasm wrack your whole body, waiting under a bus shelter, to be out of the icy winter rains, for a bus you've missed by no more than a minute, at six in the morning, and nobody is answering their phone. Meanwhile, unknown to you, one of your beloved pet rats has passed on. All this caused by a spill taken on a bus one slushy morning a month earlier. It's easy to believe in the existence of a malicious divinity, over a malevolent one at such moments.

I have to confess I miss my theological purgative, with my tuchis sore from two shots with long needles done over two days, and an inability to extend my neck properly. Even the peace of a little sleep before I have to limp through a soggy night to work....

So maybe I should arbitrarily dump my woes on some unseen force, whose presence currently haunts me unwanted at every turn. Fuck you, Santa.
I've told the story of my violent and excruciating reaction to the stronger antibiotic I was put on to put down the obstinant leg infection so many times now, I've no stomach to expand on it here. Just may it be marked that yesterday was possibly number one in suckiest days of 2005 for me. I gain a small comfort from the impending end of the Christmas season. The end of the year marks a shift in the strange attractor that is this House too. Then again, at the end of every recent year, I've said that December bodes heavily on the new year. It's some classic drama on my part. Anyway, Happy Holidays to my immense body of readers, all dozen or so of you.