“Russell Brand & Jordan Peterson – Kindness VS Power | Under The Skin #46”

Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Maybe I will come to repent on certain matters. It’s a question of damage to souls.

Looking back, there are lots of reasons why, lead-ups and bad influences, and I’ll continue to take them into consideration when contemplating this matter. Not much more to say about them aloud though. Tired of my complaining anger. It was understandable at the time, but I’d really like to live the next half of my life without its bitter input. Scarred the mind, distorts the thoughts. Turns one into a full-grown problem child.

Amazing the webs we humans can weave for our own selves.

Civilization’s a hell of a drug. Plus, all this new responsibility foisted on all of us right as religions began dying. Interesting how that worked out. Though it probably couldn’t have been any other way.

To think that ideologies aren’t busily filling that vacuum is naive. Welcome to most-modern life. It’s bound to be a wilder ride.

It’s easy to get scared about the future, to feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful about what rights we may lose. Nervous about crime rates spiking. Weirded out by the extremist fringes on sex and race being paraded in the mainstream press as if heroic and prominently promoted in various colleges — only to then have their ideologies embraced by global tech-giants Google and Facebook.

Known unknowns of the future…

Don’t know what’s going to happen to us as a nation or as the West. I care very much, but arguing with people over it isn’t changing a thing. There’s gotta be a better way. Put our money where our mouths are and gets some skin in the game.

So modern civilizations are fucking us up? Some say so. I don’t doubt it so far as its alienation is concerned. But what it’s become isn’t necessarily what it must be. Is there not room for positive change, for better innovations and more sustainable, psychologically-healthier options? I think there is. Why not have faith in that possibility?

But nothing will come into fruition the way we’d like it to if we sit here wasting time bitching while taking no effective action. No, standing around with a sign or pressing the government for more laws to govern what we’re allowed to say to one another does not count as effective action. That is unless you’re in cahoots with the idea of expanding government’s power, which isn’t a smart move any time but especially now when major corporations have come to exert more control over our political system than the voters. Not a good time to call on government to start censoring us over our pet grievances. Not smart — it won’t stop there.

We American fiddles are played easily. Get us up in arms over this or that cause, getting us foaming at the mouth at one another and demanding new laws to set limits on one another down here on the ground. It’s almost as if we humans don’t know how to stay out of shackles. Can’t seem to learn that trick. Too easily persuaded to put politics before principles. That’s us. Welcome to it.

I’ve been chomping at the bit for years. As have bunches of people. Most probably haven’t fully figured out why yet. We get to focusing on our petty grievances, our personal life drama, our perplexing pasts and upbringings, political drama, social drama, TV drama, internet drama. Can distract us for years. Often does. Hard to not get caught up in these traps — maybe even impossible. We feud as if sectarians, as if the other has caused our current national situation. Not I. Never I.

Man, I get so tired of chomping on that bit, waiting and wondering, feeling so powerless to do anything about the state of the world, let alone figure out my own personal bullshit. Then an idea struck me, something I first looked into about 10 years ago. Researching those possibilities currently. Gives me a little more hope and reminds me that this game isn’t over yet. We still do have options, at least in how we choose to live out the lives we have. Might not be able to control the future, but perhaps we can add alternatives to the mix. And perhaps we’d be better off in doing so. Maybe we’d learn more tolerance for one another, learn to work with one another on projects of actual value. Real work and real living. Ten thousand communities going their own way. It’s a beautiful dream that isn’t dead yet.

Maybe through reconnecting with nature and the roots of our survival we’ll learn a thing or two about that which we call GOD in the process. Just maybe. And likely we’ll be better off for it.

We’re not dead yet. We’re not bought and enslaved yet. Our minds and bodies haven’t ceased functioning yet. Nor has our creativity, good will, and desire for community. There can be more to this life than what some of us experience.

Isolation has its limits. Alienation is soul-damaging. Bitterness, resentment, depression, envy, false pride, and procrastination are ruining our lives.

Love can find a way.

Tuesday morning journaling in February

Yesterday was a very dark day over here. So far this morning I’m feeling kind of numb. Not sure what all to say about it. Gets very tiring going through these depressive episodes, though yesterday was likely of my own making due to drinking the night before. That poison depresses the hell out of me, clearly so. One more reason to leave it alone forevermore. There truly is no upside to imbibing any longer.

But some nights it feels necessary to escape myself for a little while, hence why I chose to drink again. Doesn’t work though. Just piles on more pain. Makes it harder to get through the next day with a raging headache. Makes me feel emotionally spent and crazy.

I’d love to blame the alcohol alone, but my time quitting it taught me that this depression is just a part of who I am regardless. Apparently got to live with it somehow into the indefinite future with all of its accompanying anxiety and obsessive thoughts. Honestly, some days I’m not sure how I’m going to manage that. I can quit drinking for good (and will), but this I don’t know what to do with. And I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody else can help me with it. All that is paraded as “help” for it comes with their own consequences and side effects and problems, sometimes as bad as that which they’re designed to treat. Been down that road before and learned that lesson. So…not sure what to say about that.

People say “mind over matter,” but what is over mind? Do you really control your own mind? Can you truly claim to control your thoughts and emotions? Sure, we might choose not to give in to them, but we don’t control all that happens in our heads. Can’t.

Is it a consequence of nature or nurture? Probably both in most cases. I’m to the point where I don’t care what initially created this or got the ball rolling. Doesn’t matter. Just matters that it’s here and won’t go away no matter what I do. And I get to feeling so frustrated with myself for envying the lives of others, their coping skills and social connections and less neurotic personalities. Would love to be able to accept myself as I am, but I’d be lying if I said I did. Just can’t seem to forgive myself for ruining some things, much as I know it does no good to worry on that now. It would be one thing if it were just a couple regrets, but a lifetime of regrets is harder to stomach. Especially when I’m not sure how to move forward from here.

To speak about this is to invite criticism. People will say you have to get up, get on with living. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Quit dramatizing and catastrophizing. I agree and wish it were that simple. Hence why it’s so frustrating. I see others bounce back from so much worse, and I know I could too perhaps if I had something to believe in. That being the ongoing existential panic I can’t shake. My own logic and reasoning actually sabotages me in that arena, on top of the emotions I can’t stanch. I can see it all pretty clearly, but I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve thought about this many, many times over the years and still I can’t seem to fix it. Spoken to friends until I’m blue in the face. Doesn’t appear to be a problem I can think myself out of. No amount of expression provides lasting relief.

The closest approximation to a heaven on earth that I can comprehend has evaporated. I keep telling myself if I just get over this next hill, maybe there will be something worthwhile on the other side. To just have faith that there’s more to this life than what I’ve experienced thus far. That I can someday be of service to others through what life’s teaching me. And that’s what I really want to believe.

But right now it all seems so far away and I’m stuck in the middle of this long winter for now. Am not blaming anybody else for this predicament. I know they can’t fix it either. It’s my own mind playing tricks on me again. And my life as it’s been constructed up until this point is pretty fucking disappointing. And this degree of isolation is doing me no favors.

Everywhere I read people saying that you just have to learn to be alone with your thoughts. But there has to be some sort of balance, we being social animals. Too much time alone with our thoughts is crazy-making. Turn toward the internet and it’s crazy-making too. Political talk is crazy-making. Observing the lives of others as if on the outside looking in is depressing. More time alone doesn’t appear to be any sort of remedy. If anything, I need to get out of this cage of my own creation. Break free and get back among others.

But I don’t wish to complain, and it feels like that’s all I do anymore. Brings people down. Makes them worry when they’ve got other problems to tend to. And that makes me feel guilty. So it’s a feedback loop that keeps perpetuating this. Other factors contribute too, like probably hormones and events I can’t or won’t accept. Two days ago I felt pretty steady, then snap. All turned black in a matter of hours once again. And it gets so fucking tiring to keep going through this, wondering what’s wrong with me, why can’t I be like those other people? Why can’t I be stronger than this? Why can’t I be healthier than this?

I don’t know. The more I learn, the less I know to be real and true. So much seems like a mirage anymore. Can’t trust my own mind with its compulsions and expectations and gremlin voices and irrational fears. To have something this self-destructive living inside oneself, pretending to be oneself, is maddening over time. Makes you not trust yourself.

This isn’t how this game is supposed to play out. I wanted to be triumphant in some areas in life. Needed to forge connections that lasted. But I broke it all and now I don’t know how to put the pieces back together. Yes, we are individuals alive in amazing times with so many options and choices, and yet we’re more lost than ever before, knowing not which directions to take. And when we fail, we have only ourselves to blame. And when we need help, we have only ourselves to rely on. That’s the downside to modern life.

COLD late Saturday night in February tunes and journaling

Went out for a few hours earlier. Unsweetened tea all night, visited with a few people I hadn’t seen in a while, listening to tunes and watching the winter olympics (mostly curling). Good to get out of the apartment sometimes, go be social. At least hang out in the presence of people. But goddamn it’s cold outside.

Back in and warming up now. Tune currently playing in the background, Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”:

Prior to that, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord” with the Carter Sisters:

One from earlier in the evening:

That was Depeche Mode’s “Hole To Feed.”

We’re a weird fucking species, man. WEIRD. Difficult to make sense of, inside our own selves included.

On a separate note, I don’t need AA meetings when I have bars. Any bar will do if you want to bear witness to the problems that like to accompany alcohol consumption. Case in point, tonight I ran into a barpal who’s regularly at this new lounge, having known him from the old bar that closed about a year back. Big-time drunk. And it’s sad to see continuing to unfold, now going on knowing him nearly 3 years. Partied with him and his friends a few times in the past in his garage and new house. Don’t wish to go into the details that are his business, just sad to see him going down like that. He used to talk with me about how he wanted to quit, but now it’s obvious he’s given up on that plan. Congratulates me on my success though, which I appreciate.

Some people handle it better than others. But hard, regular consumption degrades us all over time. It’s the nature of the drug.

Not wanting to come off as judgmental about everybody at the bar. I like this particular new lounge, and it’s far less drama than most other bars in the area. A bartender from the old bar transferred over there, so it’s nice to go in occasionally during his shift. Believe I’ve been in there 3 times since December, then not since August. Never been drunk in there, though the regulars from the old bar that came over have witnessed plenty of that out of me for a couple years prior. But it’s nice now to be able to just chill and socialize a little and people-watch. Ponder a bit. And there are a number of people in there who are supportive of quitting drinking and a few others who don’t drink alcohol who hang out there too. So, not a rough environment like some of the other shitholes around.

Though bars are kind of a depressing scene either way—no question—perhaps more to me now than ever. Even the nicer bars. An asshole I don’t like dropped in shortly before I took off to head home, telling the bartender about how he got an O.W.I. last time he drove home from the bar. Paid nearly $6,000 so far just for his lawyer — god knows what the fines will be. Said something about it affecting his license.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t have $6,000 lying around. Can’t pull it off my credit cards either.

A D.U.I. will fuck you up.

Have no idea how I avoided one all those years. My friends say it’s a miracle, and it was. Talk about Russian roulette. And it would’ve probably made me lose my job. I knew that, and yet I gambled anyway many, many times. Eventually the odds are we’ll get caught. Or wreck into another car. Or a tree.

Thankfully, some play it safer than others.

That was “Done Got Old” by Robert Belfour.

We’re all getting older…

Sometimes it’s best to call it when there’s still time. Why do we wait to hit some sort of rock bottom to force our hand? And how many “rock bottoms” does it take?

There are so many ways one can become addicted. Can become addicted to attachments with certain people too. Come to find out.

Jotted down some notes earlier and taped them to the wall. Made a list of attributes for the HELL I’D LIKE TO AVOID and another one for the greener pasture I’d like to strive toward. Then listed a few goals for this upcoming year. Focal points to try to keep my mind on track going forward.

Turnpike Troubadours — “Before The Devil Knows We’re Dead”:

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – “I Need Never Get Old”:

Still never tire of that song.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – “S.O.B.”:

Son of a bitch

Give me a drink

One more night

This can’t be me

Son of a bitch

If I can’t get clean

I’m going to drink my life away

[…]

Now for seventeen years I’ve been throwing them back

Seventeen more will bury me

… Yup.

I’ll tell you what, Schweppes black cherry seltzer water has been a big help. Keeps me content, replaces beer nicely, with no calories or sweeteners.

Need to quit smoking soon enough.

“Blood Sweat and Murder” by Scott H. Biram:

Blood, sweat, and murder
Black luck and trouble
Head full of sorrow
I’m in a whole lot of trouble now

Long-time favorite, “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earl:

Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast As You”:

Listened to a lady barpal tell about her crazy antics tonight. She also mentioned having been in treatment three times in the past. She’s a grown woman, at least my age. Sister to that other fella mentioned already. They came up in a good family by all accounts. Have good jobs. Mentioning it as an observation.

People say they want to quit, but they don’t really. Not yet. I said I wanted to quit for at least two solid years before finally pulling the plug. Sometimes I get scared that I’ll prove weak and succumb to that scene again, but I really hate what alcohol does to my life and am already well-aware that I can’t moderate. No point in continuing to try to do so. Luckily for me, drinking stopped being much fun by the end. Those whose friends and family are all involved and make it seem like fun probably have the toughest challenge. This is one instance where I’m glad to be more of a contrarian loner — makes it easier to part ways and say fuck ’em. Mean as that may sound. You care, but what can you do about somebody else’s choices? Nothing. It’s theirs to make. Hard enough keeping one’s own ship afloat.

Certainly not there to preach the virtues of not drinking — wouldn’t matter anyway since they already know. We’ve all tried quitting before.

What I find interesting is how the barscene atmosphere itself proves a bit intoxicating. No drugs required. Maybe it comes from being submerged in a rowdy gathering of any kind. Nice to find out.

Oddly enough, I don’t crave alcohol all that much while out at bars nowadays. Not sure why. You’d think watching people drink would make me want to all the more, but actually not very strongly. Had stronger urges sitting alone at home.

Doesn’t feel like I’m missing much. Headaches and various pains. Making a fool of myself. Risking an O.W.I. if I’m stupid enough to drive. Saying shit I might wish later I hadn’t said. Wasting lots of time and money. Etc.

Obviously the gremlin inside still wants to drink. Which isn’t surprising since it’s proven hell-bent on pursuing mindless destruction. That’s just what it does apparently. Can’t reason with it; just have to stop feeding it. Keep the alcohol out of my mouth. Simple as that. And simple doesn’t necessarily equate with easy. That’s the trick, in a nutshell.

Anger has proven invaluable in kicking my ass away from that lifestyle, mostly anger with myself. Some like to think keeping a “positive” frame of mind is where it’s at, but I disagree. That can turn into coddling oneself. Being too permissive. Hence how we got into this mess over time. There’s definitely a point where getting pissed and staying pissed seems more fruitful, serving as a propellant and barrier for re-entry. Getting fed up with disliking oneself so goddamn much and perpetually feeling disappointed for caving is key. Pretending like it’s a never-ending party when it’s long since stopped being merely that isn’t “positive” — it’s deluded. But each has to arrive at that conclusion their own way, I guess. *shrugs*

This year is still young. Continue reading

Getting better acquainted with postmodernism

This morning I came across this article in Areo by Helen Pluckrose titled “No, Postmodernism is Not Dead (and Other Misconceptions)” (Feb. 7, 2018). I highly encourage others to read, including those of us who once identified as feminists and/or come from social science-related educational backgrounds.

In the article she states:

The emerging intersectional feminists were guided by Crenshaw and they adopted the postmodern ideas of cultural constructivism by discourse and drew further on the moral and epistemic relativism and notions of hierarchies of power and privilege via their incorporation of aspects of postcolonial and queer theory that the multi-faceted nature of intersectionality requires. They rejected the pure deconstructive approach because it was politically unproductive, and they sought to map social realities. They developed a strong focus on identity politics which the earlier postmodernists had not, following Crenshaw and those who expanded upon her work. This form of feminism dominates the academy and activism now.

Very interesting.

This piece helps me in further clarifying an ongoing irritation I’ve had with people blaming Karl Marx and “cultural marxism” for all that is occurring in identity politics these days. What is happening now has evolved out of and away from what philosophers of old had to say, so it’s become a new beast in its own right, effectively divorced from liberal constraints that were integral to those historical social theories and ideas.

Hence why some of us also say what we’re witnessing today isn’t a liberal movement — it’s illiberal to the core. That’s the truth. Because it has become unshackled from its liberal underpinnings despite originally arising within the Political Left. It’s evolved way beyond and is barely recognizable when compared against true liberalism.

“It is very common now to encounter feminist, anti-racist, LGBT activists who espouse postmodern ideas but seem to have no idea of their genesis.”

That’s also very true.

As I’ve mentioned before many times, Social Sciences was my major (along with a minor in Criminal Justice) in college and yet I’m wholly unfamiliar with postmodern thought (outside of a little exposure to postmodern art). Never did I ever study Foucault or Derrida, though there was much talk about Karl Marx (probably why he winds up blamed for so much of this). Nor do I recall learning about Kimberlé Crenshaw, though the name definitely sounds familiar. When I get in later I will check one of my old textbooks to find out what may have been said about these persons.

Furthermore, I spent my late teens to mid 20s referring to myself as a feminist and reading feminist blogs and articles, and yet I gained no grasp on postmodernism. Heard the term but never dug deeply into what it was about, not realizing its relevance. In fact, it was Dr. Jordan Peterson’s use of the term within the last several months that has stoked my curiosity to finally learn more about it.

To be continued…

“Identity Politics & The Marxist Lie of White Privilege | Dr. Jordan B. Peterson | SNC 2017”

Tonight I believe I found the best speech thus far from Dr. Jordan Peterson:

“Alain de Botton: Status Anxiety”

Food for thought for the evening: