10 May 2014

A brief note of the self

I have written here for a long period. I rarely speak much of myself. This is a place I use to dump my thoughts on other things. My time for self-reflection is rare, mostly because I find it often poisonous to point the microscope for too long a time at anything. Myself included.

The problem with being me is that I don't really have a way to aim it away either. Once my thoughts get into the mirrored universe that is my own self, the brain bounces around there for a long time like it is a rubber room. Eventually it begins to drain, and drain, and drain some more. It drinks my milkshake. Or something to that effect (old meme recycling is easier than keeping up with new ones).

It is really the cycle of being and becoming depressed. The amount of mental energy it takes to process and break this torturous routine takes time. Which, like other humans, I don't have a limitless supply. An outside observer to this brain dumping place can see readily what the impact is: there's less production being deposited here for later use. My thoughts become more scattered. I become content to make small comments and share articles that other people have produced words on a topic, and there to leave it and often never to return to it again. Or not to refer back to it in the easy way afforded me here. Whatever wise or clever thoughts are shared with other people I become indifferent to. Whatever terrible or foolish thoughts are shared, are likewise, an indifferent property. They are all words. Just words. No longer distinguished for the quality of thought I tried to put behind them, or the capacity of argument being raised or the kinds of arguments being made, or for the dismissal of the thoughts of others that I find too often I can do.

They're just words. Before long, it gets harder to assemble more words to go with them. It becomes a set of bullet points. And then a list. And then nothing at all. There are still many dastardly and amazing things going on in the world. I still think about them. I still have things to say about them. But I didn't always feel like sharing them with other people anymore. Or even sharing them with myself. It may not be the same burning passions that people feel for each other or for things they care deeply about, but I am typically possessed by a desire to think about things, to understand them, to know what I am talking about when exploring and writing about a subject I have encountered and twirled around in my own head. That is my nature and my most at ease state. Even at my most inert and incapacitated, my brain wants something to do in this respect. Unfortunately it turns toward me if I do not feed this beast distracting shiny objects of thought. And eventually it wears down that other topics are more difficult to use. It becomes an addiction to thought, and it presses on, and on, and on more still, demanding ever more and more until there is no energy to do even the most basic of things that it commands may need doing. Like eating or sleeping or exercising. It is a heavy weight depressing and darkening all things even further from the resting point of cynical realism that I usually carry around with me as my perspective on all life and existence.

This ultimately impacts my relations with other human beings, often negatively, and it inevitably cycles inward deeper, without route or chance for escape. A mental impairment like this is not generally visible to others that they will understand it in the same way that other pains and challenges of the body are. Many view it as just something you are supposed to get over on your own rather than complicating it with requiring them to listen to you once in a while, if you can even manage to speak. It is not a process that makes it easy or simple to explain or to ask for or seek out help from others. Explaining what value I have to them, why it is that they would or should bother to listen to me rambling on in the first place, is a difficult task that I don't fully understand even in my lighter states of mind. I do not easily see myself as a terribly practical friend to have around for the people I find myself affected toward. The best I manage is an acceptance that they do think so despite myself or perhaps an altered mental state that isn't as intimately concerned with these existential questions, for a temporary measure of social lubrication. In a heavier, weighted state, it becomes impossible.

This is, basically, where I have lived for the last two years. The analogy of a cave works to describe the desire I feel getting up in the morning, or sometimes the afternoon if I've no reason to get up and as is usually the case, could not sleep at a "normal" human time, withdrawing and retiring to a place of solitude. Partially this is a place of comfort or safety. Partially this is a result of my more anti-social tendencies at times; I do not enjoy the company or attentions of most people even within the confines of being socially lubricated. And mostly this is a result of often really not wanting to subject people to my existence for a time and feeling as a burdensome task for their daily time than an desirable interlocutor. I can look around at the world and see immediately 50 things worth thinking about, or doing something about that individually people would have more reward or progress than dealing with me and my concerns and thoughts. So why should they bother. My relative indifference to humanity likely poisons the well further. In my lighter state, it's easier to see that the concerns toward other people we find appealing, however minimally at times, are indeed worth more to us than those other 50 things. Because they return to us more easily than the abstractions of aid that I see as far more beneficial to humanity or to each other, as friendship and its associated affections provide us a great deal more meaning, joy, and safety as individuals than most anything else we can do. Adam Smith's great paragraph of insight indicates both that there are things out there worth our concern and that our daily concerns are what in fact matter to us more anyway.

In a heavier stage of thinking, this too becomes impossible to see.

I am consistently impressed upon with the idea that other people find me more interesting or at least the idea of me more interesting than I find it myself. That is that I am considering objects of thought that are not me, if at all possible, and that this task is rarely demonstrated as the contemplation of other people as individuals and their concerns and needs. Abstractly, and as abstractions, yes. Applied to the ideas and attentions of others, something I have more difficulty doing, it becomes certain that they too find it necessary to either avoid thinking of themselves and others. Or, by more common observation, note that that appears to be all they are concerned with is themselves. Neither perspective lends itself to the notion that they are concerned with me, individually.

The great advantage of this perspective is that it appears to be accurate in assessing the amount and quality of attention other people pay to each other and toward random interactions. We don't usually care or pay attention at all, not nearly to the degree we believe they are. It is not necessary to temper the self or to avoid confrontation over an idea or principle, avoid entering into any ensuing debate of the issues and so on, observations or behaviors that may be contentious can be made openly without regard for whether people will think negatively of you. Because mostly they will not care or not take such things personally that they will greatly alter a potential friendship or work environment. It is also not necessary to be afraid of other people, or become fearful or protective for others in our charge either (as many parents do), as most people will politely ignore us rather than plot odious harms to our safety and happiness. This too is a great advantage.

The great disadvantage is it is blinding where people are paying attention and to what. Or why they pay attention to this instead of that. Much of what people pay attention is tedious and wasteful signalling games for status. Expensive objects and shiny things have their evolutionary purpose, for birds or apes, and of course including the human animal. And which I am loathe to participate in if I can avoid them. There are others that are surprising in their attentiveness. Which inevitably drags back the question of why. I can only reasonably conclude that however deranged and abnormal a state was required, another individual deemed it worthy of their time and effort to provide the noble gesture of paying attention to someone other than themselves for a moment and that at some level I must have done something to attract this gesture. I find that curious.

But maybe encouraging. Maybe. A definite perhaps that is.
Post a Comment