Randomocity 1

Well won’t this be interesting.

I got myself booted off twitter last week, so I’m not all that sure where I”m going to post these links from hereon out. I’ve got the alt account. But I’ve really been trying to keep that separate. I did think about creating a new primary account and starting fresh. But if I post links to here on there then it’ll be a matter of a week before it becomes the same kind of thing.

Whatever. I’ve got a couple ideas kicking around in my head.

So this is just a cruft purge really. Some of it has more than the intended level of depth, which doesn’t break my heart much. (It’s worth noting that I didn’t write these in order. I went back and forth and added to them as I thought of stuff.) Maybe I’ll come back here, rip these apart and republish them as individual posts once I’ve expanded on them.

“Oh what am I going to write about?” Goes the refrain that has become a ritual, along with the requisite anxiety and feeling that I have to prove something to myself. And I do, make no mistake. That feeling isn’t an illusion. It’s a thing of which I am acutely aware and don’t seek to change or mitigate at all. If anything I want to increase that set of demands on myself. But it does nearly always come with no small amount of stress to perform.

It’s funny now, because I’ve in some regard come absolutely full circle on this one. I’m back to being anxious about the whole damn thing, even though I’ve never really had much trouble when it comes to coming up with something to get words out through my fingers. September marks a smidge over a year that I’ve been sitting in this chair a couple/few times a week putting things down on paper. It’s as consistently as I’ve ever done anything other than eat, breathe, and sleep.

I’m just…kinda tired really. These conversations about epistemology, apologetics and theology are wearing my brain the hell out. I’m just mentally exhausted all the damned time. Not that they’re not fascinating conversations, quite the opposite. It’s because they are. But even I only have so damned much mental energy to spend unraveling my fucking being from the ground up. Ever try to pour a new foundation slab for a house while you’re living in it? Yeah, doesn’t fucking work, especially when you don’t know what the dimensions and design really are.

On one hand I’ve got people telling me “just come to church!” and on the other… “no no, take your time. Belief is downstream of understanding, or it should be.” Now that seems like a gimme for me. But it is frustrating as fuck to the former group, who seem to see me as standing on a precipice not willing to take a giant leap of faith. Well…they’re right, insofar as it goes. I’m not going to go to church as a result of social pressure. I’m not going to pretend I believe something I don’t believe. It would be an absolute violation of my integrity, which is a nonstarter. It’s just not on the table.

They’re all trying to pull in what they see as the right direction, so it’s tough to actually get too seriously frustrated about the affair. They’re all doing their level best at doing me a pretty deep spiritual kindness, so my frustration at being the rope in a 3 way tug of war feels pretty dickish. But again, I’m not going to pretend it’s not so.

This experience of coming to bible study and now with Frank’s arrival (again this is thanks to an invitation from Ed) being pulled in at least three directions (the third being my own) is incurring no small amount of stress and impatience of my own as well. I really am pretty damned frustrated by my lack of…not “progress in getting to Christianity” because I really don’t believe it’s a foregone conclusion.

So I’m sitting here typing that and Tim came in and we talked for a few minutes about our stress levels and in timeless Wilsonian fashion I heard myself say “Man, the problem is that my primary stress outlet is to come here, sit down, smoke a few cigars and talk. Not a problem on the surface. But the fact that the conversations are always deeply interesting and of literally cosmic import doesn’t actually do much to relieve internal tension. I’m excited about it. But it loads my brain up with more to consider. What I used to do to blow off steam was go kill fake bad guys. But I’ve been trying to NOT do that because I’m far FAR more likely than not to not stop at a sane 3-4 hours of gaming and just end up opening the shades, wondering why the birds are singing at midnight, only to find it’s 7 in the morning.” Okay that’s a bit shaggy dogged up and paraphrased. But it was the gist of things.

It’s amazing how it happens. Yeah of course it was on my mind. I was in the middle of typing all that when he came in so of COURSE that’s going to be where my brain goes. But even this little conversation (and note: I’m not putting down his end of the conversation because it’s not my place to talk about someone else’s life concerns. It’s not that I’m so overtly narcissistic so much as trying to be respectful of other peoples’ privacy. So my end of the convo it is.)

I’ve always found it true that I need, after a period of intense thought, most particularly when working on a technical problem (since that’s my primary wheelhouse) to take a walk, metaphorically if not literally, to let my brain digest what I’ve done, reindex its contents in the background to come up with new models of thought based on the deep assimilation of new information. It’s critical to growth. But I get the distinct impression now as I work through it that I haven’t allowed myself to do that. So I’m caught up in this absolute tornado of new (and ancient) thoughts and ideas, some of which I’ve accepted, some of which I have not,

It needs to settle, to integrate, in order for me to progress. There’s only so much my brain can ingest at once. So this pattern of coming to the cigar lounge to “casually hang out” doesn’t serve, because its largely the source of all of that new thought. Tough really to complain about in any objective sense.

Rescanning the above it’s quite obvious to me that the lack of discipline and schedule in my home life is really wearing on me. Well whatever. I’ve been fighting that battle for thirty years. I’m not sure what kind of tricks and nonsense I can try and bring to bear that I haven’t already.

I’m trying to box myself out of bad habits. And all things considered I’m doing a pretty good job at that, as far as it goes. But I’m not replacing them with good ones nearly as quickly. So it’s creating this deep tension. My repeated analogy of quitting smoking (ironic since I’ve only ever smoked half a cigarette) comes to mind. You can’t just cut yourself off from bad habits. You have to have something to replace those needs and ancillary habits with.

At the very least I want to start meditating an hour or two a day. Yes, maybe at once. Maybe at 8 and 4. We’ll see how it goes.

I have a remarkably hard time putting new habits in to practice. And yeah I’ve read James Clear‘s book and other similar works a few times.

Turns out I’m just a stubborn jackass.

But the existential fear of continuing to live life the way I have been is starting to get to me. It MAY be time to nut up and do Peterson’s “Self Authoring” program to really make things concrete.

But damn is that a terrifying proposition.

Rather the point I suppose.

The problem with heavydosing on caffeine AND eating something is oddly that the food, especially if it’s carb heavy, mitigates some of the energy that would otherwise be imparted by the caffeine. So you end up in a strange frenetic limbo where you feel like you should be running around in tight little circles screaming with your hair on fire, but are too busy digesting to actually have the energy dedicated to the task. So you just kinda sit there and twitch a bit, unable to focus on anything at all. Add to that a poorly burning, if delicious, cigar and it just becomes an exercise in frustration.

I think I’ve just realized one of the other side-effects of this weird limbo: It makes it very tough to avoid diving straight into a dopamine hit loop. I end up bouncing back and forth between twitter, reddit, gab, mewe, email, and youtube looking for new messages, likes, follows, responses and such.

I wonder how tough it would be to work productively on breaking that loop. Or…well that seems somewhat Herculean a task. Perhaps the right thing to do is to aim the dopamine craving to something more productive. Word count might be a good one.

Now that I’ve switched, however tentatively, to my linux laptop for writing I’ve been using Visual Studio Code, a programmer’s editor, for writing. At least until I get my emacs configuration up and running. Then I’ll be back in the saddle again. (The lack of distraction-free word processors for linux that are quite as slick as Q10 on windows is pretty surprising.) So I’ve had to drop to a terminal and run ‘wc <current document’ to get the current word count. That’s fine. But in Q10 it was in the little status bar at the bottom. I don’t know, maybe there’s a VSCode extension that’ll do that.

Here’s an idea that I haven’t been able to find a home for in another post. It’s pretty tough to talk about, linguistically I mean, not emotionally:

The feeling of familiarity as a thing unto itself.

Imagine this: You wake up after a fitful sleep and recall a dream, in that vague sense in which dreams are recalled.

You led a little snippet of a life, a tiny vignette of a film reel that made little sense. But it felt so REAL and so familiar that you can’t help but feel there’s more to it that you just can’t remember. Now of course dreams fade fast.

I personally can’t escape the idea that while “familiarity” seems as though it’s a reaction or, more properly stated perhaps, a judgement of something, that it’s really a thing unto itself. To feel an intimation of depth of personal meaning in something entirely independent of whether or not that thing actually IS familiar.

It’s tough to wrap words around because it’s so fucking vague from the start.

The most concrete example I can think of really is the sense of deja vu, that overwhelming sense of unattached familiarity that seems to appear just out of nowhere, causing us to try and find meaning in whatever it was that happened while the feeling appeared unbidden in our heads.

The temptation to map deja vu to a mystical experience is almost overwhelming.

It reminds me also of anxiety, as I described it here: Managing Anxiety, quite like familiarity, is just not what it seems to be. And there are any number of explanations for anxiety, but what they all seem to resolve to is “some people are just more like that. We don’t know why that might be. There are evolutionary causes that make sense as possible explanations. But it’s mostly conjecture.” And that’s all fine.

But once we have a couple of these thing that seem to straddle the bridge between thoughts and emotions I can’t help but wonder what others are there out there? What else do we as humans experience “internally” that have the feeling of having deep meaning but may be entirely independent phenomenon?

Interestingly, as I think about it now, Anxiety and Familiarity seem to be more or less opposed on a single spectrum. Not QUITE directly. It’s similar to Fear and Interest.

I don’t know. But it’s something I plan on doing some thinking about.

You know, in my spare time.