Monday, April 13, 2015

What Gay Marriage means to hardcore Fundamentalist Christians.

I originally published this on March 1st, and it constituted my projections at the time of how Gay Marriage would play with the Fundamentalists types in the GOP. My projections turned out to be surprisingly accurate in a short amount of time, and events since are largely playing out more or less like my Authoritarian model suggested.

Allright, here goes. My perspective on what Gay Marriage means to hardcore Fundamentalist types. But first, let me clarify that the people I will be describing are not mainstream Christians, but they are the people that influence mainstream Christians rather heavily. They are the Glenn Beck of Christian thought, and the regular Evangelicals would be Fox News in this poorly constructed simile. Much like how Beck gives voice to the deepest crazy impulses of the Republican ID while Fox News profits by dog-whistling to the crazies (Example, Fox will imply Obama is a sekrit Mohammedan, while Beck comes strait out and says it), Fundies scream the craziest shit you have ever heard (out of sight of the casual observer) while people like John Hagee profit by writing only moderately less insane books with this crowd in mind. Much like the Tea Party, (that fundies have been increasing their influence in of late) while comparatively few in number, Fundies have an outsized influence on the larger Evangelical movement.

Now let me specify what I mean by fundamentalist here. These are not Christians in the traditional sense, they are rather first and foremost authoritarians that happen to use Christianity as an excuse. These are literal american Taliban, and if the rule of law were to ever break down in this country, fundies would try and set up their own version of a Caliphate. Fundamentalism goes back to the 1920's in the US, and started off as a sort of big tent revival movement that swept through the nation. Prior to the emergence of fundies American Christianity was notably more progressive than it is today. For example, the idea of the Earth only being 6,000 years old only caught on in the world BECAUSE pf American Fundamentalists, prior to that the idea of an "Old Earth" was not terribly controversial and not often regarded as a religious issue. To cut a great deal of history short Fundamentalists were generally uninterested in politics (believing that wordly affairs were of little practical concern since the rapture was imminent anyways) until a desperate GOP engaged them as a voting block in the wake of the Nixon fiasco. Modern Conservatism was also born as a result of this strategy of engaging both Fundamentalists and Southern Racists and incorporating them as a rock solid voting block of the GOP. (This movement has long been associated with a certain paranoid style of American politics, the outreach of Conservative groups to fundies in the 70's and 80's has been at times called the "Church-Birch Nexus.)

It is hard to explain to the non-fundamentalist what exactly Gay Marriage means to a fundamentalist. Homosexuality represents an open, willful defiance to God's will that they find nearly incomprehensible (to a fundamentalist, the only pleasure one receives from "sodomy" is the thrill of defying your creator in the most perverse way imaginable), and the societal acceptance of such a horror is pure gibbering madness. The way you or I might perceive the scenes of hundreds of children speaking in tongues in Jesus Camp, they perceive the US accepting Gay Marriage. Except worse, because while you and I might feel a great selling of sadness in seeing children manipulated in such a way, fundamentalists feel EXTREME fear in seeing Gay people get married. 

Let me compare Gay Marriage to abortion. This comparison is valid because fundies are going to be making this comparison a shitload in the days to come because both were brought about via the Supreme Court. While Fundies believe abortion is baby murder (which they detest) it is something they can at least understand. After all, in the Old Testament babies are murdered under God's orders numerous times. (When I was 8 the leader of my cult gave all us 2nd graders a vivid demonstration of how the Israelite s picked up the Canaanites children by their legs and dashed their heads against the rocks as God had commanded.) Baby murder is bad, but it isn't outside the natural order. Fundamentalists understand it. Homosexuality is against God's order, it is one of the vilest, cleverest lies Satan has ever concocted. In the Bible God punish's murders individually, but God flooded the entire planet once because of sodomy (Noah's Flood), and he flattened Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality. So as bad as abortion is, Gay Marriage is actually much worse.

To the fundamentalist mind legal Gay Marriage is society embracing the most vile, hated act in the entire Bible. Nowhere in the entire fundie worldview is there a sin anywhere near so dangerous as homosexuality. God has destroyed any nation in history that has ever embraced homosexuality, because it is that grievous an insult to His perfect will. By embracing sodomy in such a public way, America is turning its back on God in the most defiant way possible. To the average fundie, this is America signing its own death warrant. Revelations is at hand and the tribulation must begin soon. When I was little I heard over and over that "tolerance of sodomites" would be the very last thing that happened before God's wrath descended down upon the world. It is the final, ultimate, collective defiance of God. Satan's grandest plan to trick us all into forcing God to destroy us.

Important to keep in mind here is that the Fundie Skyman is fond of indiscriminate murder. Gay Marriage puts every American at risk. once the Supreme Court decision goes through, every Hurricane, every Tornado, every stray hiker in PA that gets struck by lightning, is going to be God punishing us for Gay Marriage. The only way to protect yourself from God's wrath is going to be to oppose the sodomites at every turn in every way possible. In this fight either you are with God or you are with Satan. Since Satan controls the world, if the world is attacking you, that means it is Satan attacking God. So you will be safe from God if everyone else is condemning your actions. What I am trying to say here is, opposition to Gay Marriage will become a matter of not only personal safety, but safety for your family. When Satan's minions call you an ignorant bigot, that means that you are safe from the inevitable punishment God is cooking up for America.

I really want to emphasize here that fundies will not be fighting this battle to win. They will be fighting this battle in that hopes that by publicly martyring themselves they will be spared God's wrath, for them and their families. they will not be saying things in public to win hearts or minds. They will not organize around the idea of actually winning this fight. They expect to lose. They want to lose. They must lose. For in losing they will assure the safety of their church's, their children, and themselves.

I would say not to mistake the seeming acceptance of Gay Marriage from the SBC or like minded Evangelicals as some sort of capitulation. I would say (for the type of Evangelical I am familiar with) it is more like the rabbits in Watership Down "Going Tharn", or being so over-stressed they just lock up and freeze in place. For others Gay Marriage will be like the State of Israel, bait for the Jesus trap. (Must happen in order for the rapture to occur.) I expect that once the decision has gone through and there has been some time to process it all, Fundies will either disengage from the political process (unlikely) or we will witness the biggest public outburst of bigotry this country has seen in a long time. In fact, I will even go so far as to suggest that much like how Ferguson served to draw a ton of racists out of the woodwork last year, whatever Fundies eventually do in reaction to Gay Marriage will draw bigots out by the busload. I have no idea what they will ultimately do, except that it will be totally irrational, and divorced from reality.

Fundies are hard to predict, especially when they are terrified. All I can really say is that once the decision goes through there will be a massive debate internally that will eventually result in some sort of unhinged reaction pouring out into the public sphere. And I mean unhinged. Like, Bundy Ranch unhinged. The real question is whether or not the GOP manages to put this fire out in time for the primaries. (I 95% doubt they will and I expect every GOP candidate to face questions about this issue) If this fire is not put out in time, a candidates stance on Gay Marriage could become a Conservative litmus test in much the same way that Global Warming and Evolution currently are. I expect that the GOP won't have the moral courage to tell these dogs to shut the fuck up, so they will try and get them barking at a more socially acceptable target. If you can't shut the dogs up, at least focus them on a target that does not deter the public quite like open bigotry does. If Hillary is the candidate, I expect that target to be women. Otherwise Muslims/The Poor will be the go to boogiemen. I expect the hope will be that if you get the base riled up enough about someone else they will forget about those icky fags. I do not expect this tactic to work, and I anticipate that the 2016 election will be so nasty, so utterly focused in its hatred of the other, that we will all pine for the folksy politeness of the 2012 GOP election season.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Decoding Authoritarians: A Schizophrenic explains the craziest people in America.

Hello everyone, I am Prester John. I have been hosting a discussion of my ideas on Authoritarians recently on the forums that has been very well received. Due to popular request, I am copying my posts in that discussion over here so that they may be viewed by anyone interested. I will not edit my posts except for minor corrections involved in changing the format from vBulletin board to a blog like this one.(apologies if I miss any html tags or the like) I hope you all enjoy what follows.

With recent events in the GOP (to say nothing of the irrational behavior on display ever since Obama got elected) many posters here have often expressed confusion about the behavior on display. Often I have seen posters baffled by the sheer spite and inconsistent beliefs being proclaimed by various factions of the right wing. So I decided to make this thread to try and explain the inner workings of the most influential part of the modern right wing, Authoritarians.

Rather than going the usual route when this topic is raised of trying to simply dismiss Authoritarians as simply ignorant or spiteful, I will here argue (and attempt as best as possible to demonstrate) that the usual treatment of this topic is too simplistic, too often speaking in cold academic descriptions. There is to me a completely coherent "method to the madness" of Authoritarians, and I will attempt here to lay out the inner workings of the mindset of Authoritarians, how they function in groups, the various sub-types of authoritarian leaders, what motivates them, and finally, how to anticipate (to a surprising degree) the behavior of Authoritarians. I will do so by first defining the terms I use in my own (mentally ill) mind to understand Authoritarians, and then using those concepts to examine recent US history as a way of elaborating on my meanings.

I am doing this firstly because I have a rather unique perspective on the topic, and secondly because it is my firm conclusion that between now and the 2016 elections there will be a significant (probably dramatically so) increase in the aggression and irrationality of the right wing in this country. For reasons that I will do my best to explain and elaborate on, I have concluded that between now and the 2016 elections we will see bigots drop their mask and start getting real.

Much of the first few posts here will be culled from an already ongoing discussion in the Marriage Equality thread, however, the discussion has moved beyond the scope of that thread and is not really germane, so I am moving it here.. First off, let me make some caveats.

I am not an expert nor do I have any higher education. I am a schizophrenic (full diagnosis Bi-Polar Type II Schizoaffective, PTSD, possible mild autism, depression) trans-woman (only recently out to myself) raised in a hardcore Authoritarian cult. I have only four years of proper education (High School) with the rest of my education being handled either directly at the cult or in home schooling under the supervision of the cult. My childhood was extremely painful and controlled. I did not have a social security number until I was 18 because social security numbers were the mark of the beast. I did not find out about the birds and the bees until two years after I entered puberty and was having erections. (I thought my erections were a curse from God for my impure thoughts and tried desperately to hide them). I have been involved in a variety of other cults and proto-cults in my adult life. I have also had the great fortune to be involved with some truly remorseless people that gave me an insight into just what humans will do to each other. (Many years ago I had a life insurance policy that named my business partner at the time as sole beneficiary, one of our mutual acquaintances repeatedly tried to pitch this business partner on killing me for the insurance money.)

Of interest I am sure to some who may remember me I was a Kyoon-esque poster on these forums many years ago. My forums name back then was Truckin A Man and I used to spray Ron Paul/9-11 Truth/Anti-Vaxxer insanity on these forums (and early LF) back around 2007. (I have previously owned up to this before in the Conspiracy thread.) I also spent many years under a complicated delusion where the voice of the biblical prophet Enoch was giving me instructions to prepare for the final war between Heaven and Hell. I based major life decisions on Enoch's instructions (what jobs to take, where to live, who to befriend, etc).

So yeah, take everything i say with a grain of salt. I am a crazy person. A self aware crazy person perhaps, but still a crazy person.

Also, the style in which must of this is written is not meant to dehumanize or otherize the people  I am describing. I am not trying to do anything but explain how I understand the people I was raised around. The manner in which this is written is more a consequence of my Schizophrenia more than anything else. Forums User Schizotek summed it up pretty well.

And the capitalization thing people mentioned is just something schizos tend to do even when they aren't babbling about the CIA trying to assassinate them by slipping an empty Monster can underneath their brake pedal. It's "this represents a concept related to but not identical to this words textbook meaning, but I don't have a separate word for what I'm trying to describe so I'll turn it into a proper noun to distinguish that", as opposed to just trying to make it look scary. Normal people do it too but it's practically a schizophrenia trademark.

Please bear in mind, this all comes from a weird spot in a schizophrenic mind, and it is really hard for me to put it all into a coherent form. Schizophrenia interweaves and ties things into a Gordian Knot, and finding a few strands I can tug at enough to elaborate on is rather taxing. So while this is all written in a pretty direct manner, it is just like, my opinion man. I recognize that there is probably no way to test any of this, and furthermore, it is written with an air of authority it does not deserve. (Such is Schizophrenia though, if I tried to properly caveat everything I would never be able to get myself to actually write it down.) I suppose this is something like what a Kyoon rant might look like if he actually took his meds.

I recognize that nothing I say can be tested or proven and I'm not going to even bother trying to do so. I am just offering my (rather unusual) viewpoint on a portion of the population that I feel is not well understood. There has been some Academic research into the topic of Authoritarians, namely "The Authoritarians"/ by Bob Altemeyer, (which is a pro-click free ebook  by a real scientist, go read it) however there is not near as much study as one would hope. So I am going to try and describe Authoritarians groups from the inside and from a laymans perspective.

One more brief caveat, I want to make it clear that I am not discussing Joe Shmedley white flight suburbanite or your average college Republican. I am discussing Authoritarians, which are a specific subset of the population. (Actual portion of the population is not known, but its probably not even in the double digits range percentage wise.) Authoritarians may be right or left leaning, however, in the US, left leaning Authoritarians (ex Anti-vaxxers, Homeopaths, etc) are essentially powerless, whereas right leaning Authoritarians have a disproportionate amount of influence over the GOP, for reasons I shall try my best to describe in this thread.

Narrative: The first concept i want to discuss about Authoritarians is what I call "Narrative". Contrary to the common view that Authoritarians live by the dictates of some unseen and vengeful God, they actually base their decisions/live their lives based upon a narrative of which a vengeful petty God is always a feature. Whether it be a Fundamentalist Zealot or an Objectivist shitlord, Authoritarians always have a narrative that determines everything they say, think, or do. Narrative is the true God of the Authoritarian, which is why what God actually says or does has very little practical worth. What Authoritarians care about is what God (Or for Objectivists the Free Market) should be doing according to the narrative. No matter what is actually happening, they will believe and behave as if the narrative is playing out exactly as they expected it too. Regardless of actual real world circumstances, outcomes, situations, or influences, Authoritarians always prize the narrative above all else.
Narrative works on three primary levels (Grand, Outer, Inner) that I will describe in detail here.

Grand Narrative: One of the curious things about Authoritarians is that no matter what form the narrative they live by ultimately takes, it will always conform nearly identically to certain (surprisingly narrow) details and themes. The names, characters, and settings may change, but the ultimate shape and themes of the story remains uniform. I call this the Grand Narrative. From start to finish, this narrative always follows the same path, to the same eventual conclusion, no deviations. This narrative has multiple sections and each section has certain expectations for behavior. For example, various Authoritarian Communist movements have believed themselves living in the "Dawn of a New Age"(the start of the Grand Narrative) and have conduced themselves as such. In contrast American Evangelicals believe themselves to be living at the "End Times", or the end of the Grand Narrative, and they base all their decisions on that perception. Understanding then what part of this universal story an Authoritarian thinks themselves living in is critical to understanding what decisions an Authoritarian is going to make, and why.

Another curious thing is that no matter what situation an Authoritarian is born into, given enough time, they will ultimate create the Grand Narrative, no matter how hard they may try to avoid it. Owing to extremely complex and interwoven psychological factors Authoritarians use the Grand Narrative to provide succor for human emotional needs that they are otherwise unable to provide for. Thusly, inexorably, any Authoritarian will inevitable create a different version of the exact same story. Because the Grand Narrative is designed to meet subconscious needs and not address real world problems. While it is yet beyond me to tell the entire story from start to finish (Which I hope to someday be able to do, possibly in a Novella form) I can draw an interesting comparison here to demonstrate what I mean.

I am certain that most readers here will be familiar with the Rapture story. Just in case though, the basic outline of the Rapture is as follows: "God (Yahweh) passes judgement on the world by sending the perfect man (Jesus) as a thief in the night to rescue his chosen people (selected for their innate merit of being true believers). Jesus takes his chosen into paradise (heaven), where they sit back and watch as the world collapses into torment without them. Once the world has been destroyed, the followers of Jesus will emerge as rulers in a new golden age."

Important to note that this narrative appears nowhere in the Bible. It is rather cobbled together from a wild sample of sources that were never meant to be tied together .A Bible verse here, a stray bit of Jewish Mysticism there, a piece of occult errata there, etc etc. The rapture story is an example of the Grand Narrative, for even though it can be found nowhere in the Bible, Authoritarian Christians nonetheless have been able to find all the clues they needed to create it.

Now we turn to Ayn Rand, one of (in my view) the most influential Authoritarian philosophers in the modern age. Don't be fooled by her Atheism or her constant harping about individual liberty, Ayn Rand was a bigoted zealot like any other and believed essentially the same things as any Christian Fundamentalist I can think of. As a result of this, Ayn Rand's philosophy and writings should reflect the Grand narrative, and I believe they do (although only piecemeal).

Consider Atlas Shrugged. When you break it down, it is little more than a repeat of the Rapture story. "God (the free market) passes judgement on the world by sending the perfect man (John Galt) as a thief in the night to rescue his chosen people (selected for their innate merit of being Captains of Industry). John Galt takes his chosen into paradise (Galt's Gulch), where they sit back and watch as the world collapses into torment without them. It is assumed that once the world has been destroyed, the followers of John Galt will emerge to rule the world.

So from this example I am trying to establish that no matter what narrative a given group of  Authoritarians follows, in the end it generally contains the same specific themes and narrative structure, just with different names. I believe this explains why there is a noted intersection of Fundamentalist Christians and Objectivists. While it would seem from a surface reading that these two groups should be innately opposed (especially in light of Rand's almost Nietzchian venom for Christianity) the fact of the matter is that they are but minor variations of the same overall theme (Authoritarianism). Furthermore, as a result of phenomena I will lay out shortly, the blending of the two groups was always an inevitable reaction to Authoritarians losing the culture wars.

Outer Narrative: The Outer Narrative is what a given Authoritarian (Or group of Authoritarians) claims to believe. "Jesus is Lord!" "Tax Cuts Increase Revenue!" "We are just a concerned citizens militia asserting our 2nd Amendment rights" etc etc. Whatever it is that an Authoritarian cannot shut the fuck up about, that is the Outer Narrative.

The Outer Narrative is not the totality of what an Authoritarian group believes. It is always rather the watered down version that is deemed acceptable for public consumption. Whatever it is that an Authoritarian proclaims as his sincerely held beliefs out in public is always going to be rather different from what gets discussed behind closed doors. Curiously, Authoritarians are completely oblivious to this fact. Each Authoritarian group believes itself the sole possessor of some great knowledge/insight/whatever that makes their group special and uses this as a justification to deliberately obfuscate their real beliefs. However, each Authoritarian group judges every other Authoritarian group solely by the other Authoritarian groups Outer Narrative.

Another interesting facet of the Outer Narrative is how often it is used to shield the Authoritarian's beliefs from criticisms. Broadly speaking, attacking the Outer Narrative with facts or logic has little result primarily because you are not attacking what the Authoritarian really believes. This is why debating an authoritarian often seems so fruitless, it seems that nothing you say makes a dent. This is because you are not arguing against what the Authoritarian really believes, but rather a shell of it. So long as the next level of narrative (what I call the "Inner Narrative") is not directly threatened, an Authoritarian can keep it up all day. (Occasionally though while debating the Outer Narrative you will hit upon a line of logic that inadvertently refutes an aspect of the Inner Narrative and the Authoritarian will suddenly become incredibly hostile and aggressive, more on this later.)

Inner Narrative: This is what an Authoritarian (or group of Authoritarians) actually believe. Inner Narrative's are often closely guarded from prying eyes and seldom discussed anywhere someone outside the in-group may hear. (alternatively it will be discussed in a coded fashion using jargon). Examples of the Inner Narrative could be a council of elders of a Southern Baptist Church discussing their Pastors latest revelations from God, or a racist militia hanging out at Bill's house to drink beer and discuss the coming RaHoWa, or a politically active group of Ron Paul Libertarians discussing 9-11 Truth conspiracy theories in hushed tones at a restaurant. The Inner Narrative is always used as an over-arching justification for everything else the Authoritarian individual/group is engaging in. Arguing against the Outer Narrative is generally fruitless, as if you do prove an aspect of the Outer Narrative wrong, the Authoritarian will use the secret Inner Narrative to avoid any painful introspection.

Inner Narrative's are generally very self centered (almost narcissistic) and place the believer in a central heroic role, the noble few "True X" struggling against an almost invincible opponent, on behalf of the ignorant (and probably unworthy) masses. The Inner Narrative is where the true sense of an Authoritarians value as a human being and purpose in life are derived from. Debate the Outer Narrative all you want and nothing will happen, because Outer Narrative's serve as a shield, a deliberately altered version of the Inner Narrative, so it is expected that parts of it will not hold up to scrutiny from unbelievers, because unbelievers are not ready to accept the more profound truth of the Inner Narrative. Inner Narrative's are always charged with intense emotion, and should you ever attack the Inner Narrative (even inadvertently) watch out!

On occasion the Inner Narrative will leak out and rear its ugly head. This happens when the Outer Narrative ceases to be a useful shield and instead becomes a liability. I will use the infamous (and somewhat dramatic example) of "I AM A PRAYER WARRIOR" lady from Trading Spouses. Please watch this video.

This lady is a classic example of an Authoritarian under pressure. Over the course of living with another family (and outside the Authoritarian environment she was adapted too) this lady began to feel immensely insecure. Her Outer Narrative was falling apart as a result of interacting with diverse people she had no experience with. The caricatures she had been taught to believe in and the ways of bringing non-believers into the fold she had been assured would work had failed miserably. Moreso, she began to feel under attack, and her Outer Narrative (her professed beliefs) became a vulnerability instead of a shield. Any Authoritarian put into a situation such as this will eventually resort to the Inner Narrative as a defense mechanism. Granted, this particular example is a good bit more dramatic than what usually happens, however, it is nonetheless an accurate (if somewhat overwrought) representation.

The out of control emotion and aggressive lashing out while shouting mentally ill nonsense is fairly typical. What this lady is demonstrating is a sort of psychotic break triggered from the stress of the Outer Narrative collapsing and the Inner Narrative asserting itself publicly. I would note here that what this lady is shouting is what she has actually believed all along and what has guided her decisions every step of the way in her life up to this point. (Also important is that she has functioned reasonably well up to this point in an Authoritarian environment, when taken outside that environment her mal-adaptations and inability to change become clear, but that is another article sized discussion)

This next piece applies very directly to the infamous's trend towards radicalization and explains the real social function of the occasional purges serve.

[Author's Note. Free Republic, or "Freep" is quite famous in certain political circles for being a hotbed of racist right wing politics. Once a bastion of Conservative thought with accounts held openly by White House staff during the 2nd Bush Presidency, it has since become substantially more radical over the years]

Compaction Cycle: The Compaction Cycle is a major factor in how Authoritarian groups function and is my term for an unrecognized (but very important) constant low level cycling of individual Authoritarians through a variety of different Authoritarian groups. The Compaction Cycle is primarily important because it describes the trend towards radicalization in Authoritarian groups, and even provides something of a barometer than can be used to measure the likely pace at which a given Authoritarian groups is likely to radicalize. (That is, a way of determining the speed at which a group is radicalizing completely independent of any action they are taking or rhetoric they are using.) This cycle is also important because it is a major factor in how Authoritarian groups build common ground with each other when they are looking for allies. (It also plays a large role in the cross pollination of various strings of Authoritarian thought.) To explain this facet of Authoritarian behavior I will call forth the metaphor of a snowball. Specifically, a snowball made of that wet slush shit that is right on the border between being frozen and being a puddle.

If you have never gotten a chance to play with such a snowball then let me elaborate. By snowball standards they are heavy, awkward projectiles that travel slowly and are easily dodged. Even when you do hit something with such a snowball, the effect is minimal, usually a wet *punt* sound and a blunted blow. This snowball then is a metaphor for the average Authoritarian group when it is not under pressure. Unwieldy, awkward, not terribly effective, but can still get the job done. Put an Authoritarian group under pressure though, and things change.

Let us return to our wet snowball. If you take it in both hands and compact it, you will squeeze out a surprising amount of water. You will then be left with an ice ball. Although much smaller and having less total mass, an ice ball is a nasty projectile. Fast, accurate, hard to see coming, and can leave a hell of a bruise. To take this example a bit further, if you drop your new ice all in a pile of snow and scoop it all up, you will now have slush ball with an ice ball core. A better projectile than you started with, but not as good as the ice ball by itself was. However, if you compact this new ball down, you will squeeze out the water, and be left with an even larger ice ball. Now you are creating a dangerous weapon indeed. And you can keep adding on layers of ice so long as you have a supply of snow, eventually getting a baseball sized projectile of solid ice that can really fuck something up. Even though you lose much mass every time you compact the ball down, as long as you have a snowbank handy to keep dipping your ice ball in, you can keep adding more total ice.

Now back to Authoritarian groups. An average Authoritarian group is like our slush ball. A mixture of hard and soft members, since when forming Authoritarian groups are like an annoying new guild in WoW. ("LAID BACK FAMILY GUILD THAT RAIDS AND PVP'S RECRUITING ALL LEVELS AND ROLES PST) They will accept anyone willing to pay lip service to the groups ideals. When not under pressure or threatened, Authoritarian groups are much more relaxed.

All such groups when under pressure however, start to drive softer members out. Stress rises, tempers flare. Rhetoric becomes harsher, group identity becomes more important, aggressive members start to scrutinize for any perceived flaw in the tribe. Eventually someone (or a group of someones) finds themselves on the wrong side of an internal dispute. It could be their fault, it could not be, doesn't really matter. In the end they were guilty of the sin of not spotting the group think forming fast enough and they are driven out. This can be seen in Freep's purges of all non McCain/Romney supporters once those candidates had locked the nomination in.

With the "softer" members (or water in our slushball) compacted out, the remaining members are more radical overall. While the overall mass, or number of members has decreased, the remaining members are the ones who have proven themselves to be the most competent at falling in line and will prove less likely to disagree with the group think in the future. They have become like the Ice Ball.

The metaphor does not end here though, because we need to consider what happens to those outcast members. Most of the time (80% or so if I had to guess) they will go on to join another group. Since they are Authoritarians they will join another group that also follows the Grand Narrative. (While I would like to mention that this is how you get 9-11 truthers that become UFO nuts that become Objectivist Shitlords and then wind up being 9-11 truthers again over the course of a long enough period of time, I want to stay mostly with the Freep example.) The Freep members that join some other online Conservative community will be quite a bit more shy about rocking the boat. They will be more sensitive and more alert for changes in the tribes group think. They will find themselves drawn to the new groups hardliners and will become more hardline themselves. Often, Abused becomes abuser, and when the new group finds itself under pressure, the formerly outcast member will be among the most vicious attackers of whoever winds up as the new groups scapegoat.

The overall trend here is that Authoritarian groups swap members more often than many realize, and one groups rejected softie becomes the next groups hardliner. Just like our slush ball, the weak are driven out and the ice remains, then more members are added and the cycle repeats until eventually everyone is either a hardliner or has stopped associating with Authoritarian groups altogether. I feel this is a good explanation for what we observe in the modern GOP. In raw numbers GOP voters/supporters are in serious decline, but the remaining members are rapidly becoming radicalized. Because of the Authoritarian takeover of the GOP over the past 40 years the less hardcore Republicans are being pressed out of group after group until they either become hardliners themselves or find no home in the GOP.

Allright, now I want to try and get into some stuff that builds on what I have thus far described, and in doing so I attempt to shed some light on what is widely regarded as a confusing chapter of recent American history, the Cliven Bundy Ranch showdown. First off I want to describe a character that appears in many variations of the Grand Narrative. For sake of simplicity I will label this character the "Anti-Christ.

[b]The Anti-Christ:[/b] This character archetype is a near universal thread in many Outer Narratives, which is why I consider it to be a part of the Grand narrative. I want here to draw attention not to the popular [b]Left Behind[/b] representation of the Anti-Christ, but to what this character represents. The Anti-Christ is a charismatic leader practically worshiped by his followers. The Anti-Christ always has a hidden agenda though, and is himself (almost always a male, curiously enough) merely a front man for a darker, organized, malevolent force. The Anti-Christ then is to be opposed at all times and at all costs, because whatever he is doing, no matter how seemingly benign, is always part of some larger plot designed to trick the masses into killing themselves.

Now we come to a really meaty concept, what I call "Narrative Convergence".

Narrative Convergence: When Authoritarians perceive a threat (which is often) their first instinct is to strike at the jugular with overwhelming force. It does not matter how insignificant the threat really is or how wide the gap in power between them and their target is, they want to hit a vital spot with every ounce of force they can muster. The goal is to establish dominance by firstly destroying the threat and any trace of it, and secondly, having witnesses so that other potential threats learn their place. Authoritarians are always look for a big dramatic battle, they are looking for every conflict to go down like the final battle of a [i]Lord of the Rings[/i] trilogy. Fierce, fast, big, that is how an Authoritarian wants to fight every battle be it a swordfight or a debate.

With this in mind Authoritarians have been absolutely nonplussed with their steady losses in the culture wars. Despite their attempts to create cartoonish caricatures to fight with, they have found no real solid target to aim their aggression at. While the internal groupthink at this point is certainly strong enough that they all now agree that these devilish liberal strawmen exist, every time they try and go out looking for them they find very little. This is a bit like that robot planet on Futurama where the entire planet goes out hunting for humans every night and always comes back empty handed.

Distinctly aware that they are losing the culture wars but unable to get the big battle they inherently crave, the long term stress has lead many Authoritarians to do something unusual, seek allies.

Typically minor differences in the Outer Narrative are sufficient for an Authoritarian group/individual to reject associating with each other beyond what is minimally necessary. (Obligatory Emo Phillips "Heretic" bit here) However, the pressure of losing the culture wars has forced many Authoritarians to become more willing to compromise on elements of the Outer Narrative so long as the Grand Narrative remains intact. That is to say, in seeking to find common ground with each other (like any other group of people) Authoritarian groups have started to become more closely knit than seen in previous years, and the factor that unites them is the Grand Narrative. Whatever differences in Outer Narrative exist are slowly being discarded so long as the over-arching themes of the Grand Narrative are preserved. (The Compaction Cycle also plays a role here as Authoritarians that have been members of other groups often serve as bridges between various factions.)

In other words, the Outer Narrative's of many Authoritarian groups are converging on the themes of the Grand Narrative. (Thus my labeling this process "Narrative Convergence".)

The clearest example I can think of what I am trying to explain here is what has happened to Obama. We are all familiar with "Obama Derangement Syndrome" at this point, and I want to explain where this animus comes from. It isn't explicitly racist, although Obama's race certainly contributed greatly to the initial impulse that drove a previously slow process of Narrative Convergence into a rapid one. (If one recalls the way Authoritarians behaved during the Clinton Presidency I believe it is easy to see the momentum was already building, Obama's blackness merely accelerated an already ongoing process.)

Recall my earlier definition of the archetype of the Anti-Christ in the Grand Narrative: "The Anti-Christ is a charismatic leader practically worshiped by his followers. The Anti-Christ always has a hidden agenda though, and is himself (almost always a male, curiously enough) merely a front man for a darker, organized, malevolent force. The Anti-Christ then is to be opposed at all times and at all costs, because whatever he is doing, no matter how seemingly benign, is always part of some larger plot designed to trick the masses into killing themselves."

In short, as a result of Narrative Convergence, Obama has become the archetype of the Anti-Christ to a wide range of Authoritarian groups. This is how Obama can be a Commie/Muslim/Kenyan/Illuminatti/Marxist/Reptilian/ad infinitum trying to implement Sharia Law/Socialism/New World Order Population Reduction/ad infinitum all at the same time, and no Authoritarian bats an eye at the inherent contradictions of being all those contradictory things. Because all of those things and all of those agendas are part of the Archetype of what I call the Anti-Christ. To Authoritarians they are not contradictory, they are complimentary. (The minor differences in Outer Narrative are no longer important so long as the Grand narrative is preserved.) So to all Authoritarians, Obama has become a willing front man for a more sinister agenda. A Charismatic face for the purest, vilest of evils. As a result, every action Obama is taking must somehow be a plot and must be opposed at any cost. Authoritarians have so thoroughly convinced themselves of this fact at this point that they are now willing to die on each and every hill and take each and every battle to the bitter end, because they feel they must do so in order to survive.

With these ideas in mind, please watch this brief video.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Vomitpocalypse.

During the Holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) PCY has a ton of extra people residing in it. It gets packed. On the plus side during the holidays, its really easy to get plenty of food. In addition to all the extra feedings, there are a ton of smaller groups/families that cook up a bunch of food, park in front of PCY, and pass it out till its gone.(Its gone fast) Its a good experience for all, the usual sight is a family SUV that rolls up with about 100 prepared meals in styrofaom containers. Usually the food is pretty awesome, and very welcome. However, one of these trucks giving out food was either run by a sociopath or just had shitty cleaning standards. It was tacos, I remember distinctly because I was one of the people from this particular truck.

That night around midnight people started getting ill. A TON of people started getting ill. Like, 100 people or so were getting violently ill. There were people vomiting everywhere. People were rushing to the bathroom, or the nearest trashcan, or sometimes just standing over the storm drain and puking directly in it. Most people made it somewhere, but as the night wore plenty either didn't make it, or were too exhausted from constant heaving to move. Diarrhea was also part of this sickness outbreak, and when there weren't enough toilets available in the bathroom, people either improvised or they shit themselves. It was disgusting, and the messes were appearing faster than they could be cleaned up. I was lucky in that I was one of the first to get sick and got my puking out of the way early. So by the time things were getting really bad I was down to the dry heaves. (The stress however caused me to go psychotic and I started hallucinating badly, but that is a story for another time.)

By the time the sun came up, there was vomit all over the courtyard. The whole place reeked. There were spots all over from people not making it, various people had been awoken in the middle of the night from getting puked on, every trashcan had gallons of puke in it. The aroma wafting up from the stormdrain was indescribable. But that was nothing compared to what awaited me in the mens room.

There was vomit and shit just fucking everywhere. On the toilets, in the urinals, dried on the walls, in mixed puddles on the floors. It was inches deep in some parts of the restroom. It was hard to walk without stepping in it. There was not one single fixture out of 30 or so that was anything like useable, and people were still getting sick. The stench was just overwhelming. If my stomach hadn't already been empty I'd have probably vomited just from walking in there.

Somehow though, the staff got it cleaned up and life was back to normal within about 3 hours. I don't think the staff at PCY gets enough credit for what they deal with at times.

Friday, June 20, 2014

To the thinker sitting in Darkness(The Rustbelt)

To the thinker sitting in Darkness(The Rustbelt)

I call out to you, my fellows trapped in the suffocating ignorance of the culture of the Rustbelt. I cry out to you my brothers and sisters of suffering. Painters, Poets, Philosophers, Lyricists, Social Workers, Artists, Wordsmiths, Dancers, Singers, Musicians. People with something to say and people wishing to hear it spoken. People whom feel deep in their bones their must be more than working to live and living to work! I call out to you all! For you are my fellows, my source of hope and my source of agony both. Like you I stare into the abyss of myself and wrestle with despair and bliss. I too feel the song but can't hear the music, I know the rhythm but can't speak the words. Our longing is expressed in as many forms as there are people, but no matter the form it takes we all share one thing in common, we are thinkers.

And I call you by our true title, thinker.

Thinkers we are and thinkers we are damned for being. For we find ourselves often trapped within a vortex of vilest shit that condemns us for being on the one hand, and forces us to accept it as Mother and Father on the other. Our only source of sustenance is this reeking vile excrement that we are told is better than a home cooked meal, and like an addict we believe we must poison ourselves over and over again in order to live. This shit and this vortex have names, and though we have never been taught them, we must learn them now. For like in the old days of exorcisms learning the name of the demon gives us power to combat it. The shit in which we struggle to not drown is called "anti-intellectualism", and the vortex itself, the playground upon which we petulantly act out our petty roles is the "Rustbelt".

We thinkers have within us a drive, a desire to grow and improve a vital part of ourselves that we cherish more than life itself. Our art, our craft, our words, our expression, our way of life and our unending desire for something better. We give birth to things within the deepest holy of holies of our very souls and we seek to bring those from our depths out into the physical world. To show both the world and ourselves who it is that we really are. For us titles are meaningless, jobs a mere source of sustenance and names a hindrance. Our true name can only be whispered when our soul is free to sing. Our meaning in existence only felt when our art flows from that part of us which we will never understand.

We crave growth, we crave expression, we crave expansion and interaction. But most of all we seek. Not one of us knows what we seek, and we all choose different ways of expressing our quest and showing our journey, but nonetheless we are seekers. We are thinkers, one and all.

I have heard your cries, your moans of agony as you struggle to retain your soul amidst the anti-intellectual horrorstorm that has become the culture of the rust belt. I have felt your pain as you are attacked for daring to know a single fact that doesn't appear as a bubble in a youtube video. I too have deep scars given to me for the sin of being actually different, not different like the fools who've made a uniform out of hot topic clothing, but actually, truly different. I have read your Facebook status's as you vent your rage at being poorer for having gone to work after someone dine-n-dashed on you. I know all too well the cold hatred that sets in as you labor on your cherished craft only to have some toolbag interrupt you to ask "But how are you going to make money off this?"

You are not alone. I know that you must feel that way, isolated, assaulted, misunderstood and stereotyped. You think yourself crazy and fight the growing despair that comes with being told over and over that you are a failure, that you are flawed. You have heard it so many times in so many ways that you have become tired of defending yourself from the charge, even to yourself. The mocking voices chip away at your soul as you seek some solace, some purchase to rest upon for even a moment. I say again to you, you are not alone. You are battered, you are lying on the floor bleeding and struggling for breath, clumps of your hair floating in pools of your own blood, but you are not dead yet, and you are not alone.

I say to you that the sliver of hope that you have nourished is true. You are not the flawed one, the culture around you is. You are not a failure, you have been failed. And while you have made plenty of mistakes and rightly suffered the consequences of those, you have been made to suffer what you deserved times ten by the very fact that you have refused to relinquish possession of your soul.

I say to you, my fellow thinkers whom sit in the darkness of the Rustbelt, my arrows are aimed not at you, but at the very ideas the rust belt has come to embrace. In drawing my string taught I shall aim my words not at people, but at cultures and ideas. It is then in this vein that I shall target Ohio, not merely because it is what I know best, but because it is the most concentrated home of the vicious idiocy that has come to typify both the rust belt and conservatism in America.

Is that fair? If you've read this far I suspect that you are already well past the point of caring.

Surely someone will point out the obvious reality that not *EVERYTHING* I say applies to every single person in Ohio, that elements of what I criticize can be found all over the country. Others will contend that elements of what I rebuke can be found all over America. But these are such obviouss truth that attempting to use them as a counter argument is an Ouroboros of self defeating stupidity that I shan't even bother with it except to mock the fool who speaks it. To even utter the words aloud is to admit a fundamental ignorance of the world that is beyond my capability, or interest, to correct. Of course I cannot in one single polemic grasp at the breadth of the whole problem, so I must limit myself to the most target rich environment I can find. And that environment has the name "Ohio".

For there is only one Rust Belt anti-intellectualism, and Ohio is its prophet.

Let us consider first the plight of the working thinker in Ohio. For in Ohio being a thinker at work is not only unpopular, it is dangerous. Not to the establishment, but to the thinker. For should the fact that you possess a nuanced understanding of the world ever slip out at work a thinker will quickly find themselves hopelessly unemployable.

I once went to an interview for a job at Circle K. They wanted someone to work nights in a dangerous location (Kenmore Blvd) and I was desperate for anything, so I showed up eagerly, ready to accept the job even fully knowing I would detest every waking moment of it. I interviewed well; the manager was impressed, she wanted me to start right away and went to make my training schedule, all I needed to do was fill out some paperwork and complete a questionnaire on the computer. Happily I did so, relieved to be so close to receiving a steady (if miserably tiny) income. The test was simple enough, a few personality questions and some basic math skills. I finished it easily and sent it off.

And then I learned that because I had indicated that I felt that I worked best alone I was automatically denied. For the crime of possessing self direction and the unforgivable idiocy of admitting to it I could not be employed, and could not re-apply for 90 days. Yes fellow thinkers, I let my guard down for a moment that day and the rust belt culture sniffed me out. A job at the very bottom of society with the very lowest of wages was denied me because I was "unqualified" to push buttons and try to upsell customers on fructose water. I possessed the slightest hint of nuance in my mind and that was intolerable, the manager was crushed because she really needed someone to work but the test said no, he is unemployable. What could she do? I was asked to leave the premises but assured if I answered the test differently in 90 days I would be hired if the spot was still open.

That is my story but I'm sure each and every one of you has one like it. You keep your guard up and try to act like you are just another obedient PINO. A Person In Name Only, your lone goal in life to make money for your corporate masters, overjoyed at the prospect that the very moment you let your guard down you will have what little dignity you have hidden away ripped from you. How many of you have lost employment over something completely meaningless to your job skills, and then sunk into despair? How many of you have endured the jeers and barbs of your family for your "failure"? How many times have you despaired of ever "making something of yourself" when even the most base of jobs insist that you are undeserving of even so lowly a position as asking your betters if they want fries with that? I know your pain and I feel your agony. I know too how my words burrow into you like a needle into an abscess, painful at first, but as the toxin starts to drain you begin to regain hope.

And here let my words, my arrows, fall upon my chosen target of Ohio like so many raindrops. For no one really lives in Ohio, they merely exist. And when residents of Ohio die it is decades before they have ceased to draw breath.

You thinkers in Ohio know the hunger but you haven't tasted the feast. You are surrounded by people who can rattle off a dozen Ricky Bobby quotes but have no idea who Nietzsche is. They have detailed, nuanced opinions about the Cleveland Browns but don't know who Joe Biden is. When you ask them who they are voting for they react with hostile confusion, like you just shouted at them in moonspeak. No amount of willpower can make an Oak Tree grow in the Sahara and no amount of education or desire can nourish a thinker in Ohio.

The sign over the Highway as one crosses over the Ohio river reads "Welcome to Ohio, the Heart of it All". If that sign were to be truthful it would read "Welcome to Ohio, Through me you enter into the State of woes, Through me you enter into eternal pain, Through me you enter into the population of loss. Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here." Every job application in Ohio should have a checkbox that reads "I agree that meal breaks are ++ungood to the bottom line and if my employer gives me one during my 20 hour shift I should shower them in gratitude." Every employee handbook in Ohio should be subtitled Hard Work Sets you Free!

"The light of a single candle chases away an entire room full of darkness" some fool has no doubt told you before, nodding at the sageness of their own wisdom. Of course, the room isn't filled with darkness, its filled with muddy polluted water from the Cuyahoga river. And of course the problem of not being able to see in the murk is secondary to the fact that you are fucking drowning. They insist that you merely need force yourself to be a bit more optimistic, that you just aren't "trying hard enough yet", when the real problem is that your arms are tiring and you are desperate for a moments rest.

If one seeks to have drama in the workplace in Ohio all one need do is walk into the office Monday morning with the barest hint of a contented smile on your lips. This meager sense of hope will be treated by your co-workers as a direct challenge, and entirely without your knowledge they will have conspired to wipe out that tiny glimmer of soul before your lunch break. By Tuesday night you will be drinking again. By Thursday night the irrational and vicious stupidity of your fellow employees will have you associating the name "Smith & Wesson" not with guns, but with sweet blessed release.

You carry out food to sneering people whom consider themselves your betters. People whom got a job because of Daddy but don't hesitate to tell you about how much harder they work than you. Grey hairs that look down their noses at you for taking the easy route in life. Why, back in their day they worked part time in order to pay for their small studio apartment while they saved up enough to pay their way through school. Imagine their hardship, you know nothing of such struggles. With a wave of their hand they dismiss you to your deserved fate as they discuss their troubles amongst their friends. They wonder at how you can look so ragged and worn down when you can't possibly know stress like they have. Why, just last week their precious Mr. Frumples had a nasty case of the sniffles and they rushed him off to the vet. The whole situation cost them thousands of dollars and now their Caribbean Cruise might be delayed. Oh how they stare at you, envious of your clearly carefree existence. All of this happens while you try to ignore your humanity and smile through the hunger pangs, serving them food you cannot possibly afford.

How many times have you had to suppress the urge to slap someone when they mention "Mexican Food" and "Taco Bell" in the same breath without a trace of irony? How many of you have felt a wave of depression roll through your body as some smug boomer pats their round belly contentedly, saying "I ate at Golden Corral today, had a gooooood meal."? Your muscles clench while you refrain from correcting them with the truth, which would read thusly:

"I shoveled bland forkful after bland forkful of flavorless aromaless mush into my mouth while congratulating myself on being able to afford such extravagance. I watched an unsupervised child dip a whole chicken leg into the chocolate fountain between bites,  then toss it under a table when he didn't like it anymore. I tried the same thing myself and that kid doesn't know what he was missing, chocolate covered chicken is delicious! Oops, time for my insulin."

There are those in Ohio whom work tirelessly to remedy the situation, to create a healthy community of artists and intellectuals. But how can this be done when you are surrounded by a culture that is actively hostile to the very idea of community resources? How can you form this community of artists and intellectuals when the only ones whom care are yourselves? How can you build something that none of you has ever seen or experienced yourselves? The thinking community in Ohio has died long before most of us even came of age, how can you be the beating heart of a desiccated corpse? Only dry bones and a few rotted scraps of sinew are left on the corpse and yet you seek to try and animate it into dancing. I say to you leave, go somewhere where your efforts are not so fruitless, where you toss not your pearls before swine.

I remember well the contrast of my present days to me days in Ohio. I remember the thinking of those that surrounded me and how terribly vacuous, empty of all empathy and meaning, their jeers were to me. It is a common affliction in the rust belt when one tries to develop oneself.

Your peers look at all the work you have poured into developing your mind, into creating your art. They sigh with exasperation and tell you that if you only put that kind of energy into your job on the factory floor why, your corporate masters would surely notice your dedication. You would be promoted within only a few years! Getting twice the responsibility and work for a $0.38 an hour raise, the high life! Why did you spend so much time and energy in this project when it hasn't made you any money? You should be like them they firmly insist, speaking to you like you are a stubborn, spoiled child. Let the light behind your eyes wink out and seek satisfaction in life from the approval of your boss. Why, just think of the pride you will feel when your numbers are 1.38% higher than your coworkers! You'll be feeling more fulfilled than you ever knew you could! Surely the path to happiness lies in proving how much more obedient you are than your peers. And when you disagree they snap at you, raising their voice and demanding to know when you will finally stop being immature and accept "The Real World".

Clearly, there is just no hope for you. Why oh why do they even bother at all?

The choice a thinker in Ohio faces is a dire one, either uproot everything and risk starting over in a new state, hoping conditions there are better; or die a martyr's death, uncelebrated, hated, misunderstood, and worst of all, belittled for even having cared enough to try. It is true that the thinkers that remain in Ohio are offering the cure for the condition, cold water in a desert wasteland, but as you cannot force a horse to drink you cannot convince rust belt culture that it is suffocating itself.

For myself I say that I am better a homeless man in San Antonio than I ever was employed and struggling in Ohio. For here in this city there is art, and food, and music, and culture in abundance. Even living on the street I can still attend free performances of traditional dance, enter vast art galleries on their monthly free days, and enjoy the merits of a downtown library six stories tall. Here the food is flavorful and potent, the tea sweet, and the people kind. The level of intellectual stimulation and artistic satisfaction available in San Antonio to me, a homeless man, cannot be had for any price in any city in Ohio.

It is the nature of thinkers to struggle forever, both with themselves and with their environment. An artist of any form will always have pain in their life so long as their art wishes to remain relevant. If we are to accept the inevitability of this conflict, why not choose to have this fight on a sandy Caribbean beach instead of a fetid swamp? Why not choose a place where at the very least you can take a rest when you need, to have friends apply cool salves to your wounds while you catch your breath? In Ohio the thinker will have to function as both warrior against himself and doctor to their own rapidly festering wounds, is this truly preferable? Why have this fight in a place where not only will you have to contend with the pain this process brings, but risk sepsis and gangrene as well?

Ask yourself, how many aspiring thinkers have you known whom lost this internal fight not necessarily because they were weak, but because the environment they were in never allowed them to heal? How many potential great minds and talented artists have you watched succumb to madness, despair or addiction? How many have you seen blow their minds out either with drugs or a colt .45? Do you not think they could have been saved, could have gone on to become great contributors in their own right if they had been given a reasonable respite when they needed one? How often have you heard someone express the sentiment that they "deserved it" for daring to push their own boundaries and falling off the balance beam in the process?

I left Ohio because my grip on sanity was slipping and though I knew I needed help there was just none available to me. Believe me, I looked, there was nothing. I spent literal months obsessed with the idea of killing myself, able to think of nothing else while I forced a smile on my face and spoke in a cheery manner to yet another customer. I pushed myself to make numbers all the while I felt a pang of intense envy every time I heard about someone dying on the news. I had given everything I could and my mind had been pushed to its limits and beyond in my struggle to not only learn to think, but to survive the openly hostile environment I found myself in. I had nothing left to give and when I had lost the ability to function at all in life, when I reached out for help as my last gasp before the waves rolled over my head for the final time, I found that the meager charity available in Ohio made the Orphanages in Oliver Twist look downright pleasant.

As a desperate last act I cashed my last pay check and bought a bus ticket to San Antonio, my lone hope being a homeless shelter with mental health assistance I had learned about on the internet. If that didn't work out I fully intended to kill myself.

I got lucky.

I found help.

I got better.

And though my current mental stability and peace of mind are heavily a result of the work I have put into myself since that fateful day, and though I do not regret making that decision, I detest. *DETEST* that I, or anyone else for that matter, was ever put into that position. No one, not even people I personally hate, should ever be forced to make such decisions. Yeah, I got better. But that would have never happened if I hadn't gotten lucky first. Had I remained in Ohio I would surely have died in a ditch somewhere, screaming at demons only I could see.

My personal story is not a testament to the "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps" mentality that is so prevalent in Ohio, it is a direct refutation of it.

The Schizophrenic mind, as seen from the inside looking out.

So living with two competing views of reality is going to be hard to describe. What it is, what it feels like, and how it all works, and how I hold it together is still something of a mystery even to me. These viewpoints on reality are not only incompatible, they are very nearly diametrically opposed. Furthermore, both views fear each other. As was demonstrated very strongly to me in past events, which viewpoint is dominant determines my behavior to a rather startling degree. (Actually to a degree that makes me very uncomfortable) There is no persistently dominant one, they switch seemingly of their own accord and on their own schedule, I am not consciously aware of the change. It is almost as if there are two different Prester John's at times. However, it isn't necessarily as clear cut as that, as the less dominant viewpoint has a tendency to occasionally intrude itself very very rudely, which is an incredibly stressful experience. I'll start first by describing in detail what each of these views are, and then how they interact.

1.) The Mundane

Although there are two distinct worldviews in my head, fortunately they do not have specific names. (And oh thank you god for that) So here I shall give them names to simplify communication. The first mindset is what I will call The Mundane. In this worldview I am Prester John, mentally ill man in my early 30's with a very checkered past. I came from an extremely psychologically abusive/poverty stricken childhood. I have spent most of my adult life trying to escape from my upbringing, to understand and overcome the many deficiencies it left in me. I have made many mistakes, held many very strange beliefs, and done many odd things over the years. All of it can be explained as untreated Mental Illness that started in my mid teens and progressed from there.

I am currently getting real help for my issues for the first time in my life and recognize that this will be a lifelong issue that I will need to learn to cope with. In many areas of my life, owing to a combination of my bizarre childhood and my Mental Illness, I am no more developed than a teenager. I am working as best as I can to rectify those deficiencies and to cope with my condition. My political views are fairly left leaning and I am generally optimistic about the future of the Human Race. I feel a strong desire to improve myself and become able to function in normal society.

2.) The Mystical

I shall call the second worldview The Mystical. In this worldview I am Prester John, highly evolved soul who came to earth to help the Human Race overcome the external influences which currently rule it. (The Illuminati, whom are yes, probably 4th Dimensional blood drinking reptilian aliens, but I'm not entirely sure. In either case, they sure as fuck aren't human.) My soul is not natively human, as it developed through its incarnation cycle on a different world with a different race vastly more sophisticated and more developed than Humans on Earth. I have been through relatively few human incarnations. This makes it difficult for me to interact with people, as they simply are not evolved enough to understand me, and I haven't learned how to simplify myself enough to be readily accepted.

My childhood was carefully planned for me and like the rest of my life has been under intense micro-management from my Guides. I have an extremely important role to play in the events unfolding on this planet, and I have been put through a rigorous and accelerated curriculum to prepare me. I am currently failing. My reach may have exceeded my grasp. My human body has proven to be too frail for the struggles I have put it through, I have been unable to force it to continue onwards. I broke an energetic circuit somewhere in my Manipura Chakra and my healing arts have proven inadequate to treat it. I am currently being a coward by taking my medication. (Psych meds have been designed by the Illuminati to target the Pineal gland, or 3rd eye, which is what allows humans access to higher realms of consciousness.) As a result I am probably going to be passed over for my Grand Destiny soon and will slink down into mundane nothingness, a failure of a life that wasted a human body that could have been better used by a soul capable of getting the job done.

In many areas of my life, owing to being at least 100 years ahead of my time, the uninvolved people around me misinterpret either my intentions or my reasons and attack me out of fear of the unknown. My political views can be summed up as "I'm pissed I'm not living in a worldwide version of The Venus Project and I'm even more pissed that the people around me are completely unprepared to entertain the notion of such a world. I am not optimistic about the future of the Human Race. Society is getting ready to collapse and I can't wait to watch it all burn. (I understand the condition of the planet is not entirely the fault of Humans, but I'll be damned if a large majority of them aren't practically begging for it.) I feel a strong desire to smash the current power structures in society and help replace them with something more evolved.

There we go, whoo, writing that was exhausting. That is literally the first time I have ever written down the belief system that comprises The Mystical. It is actually a massive relief to get it all out in the open. Now, a few things before we really start to delve in deep here. I have always had both worldviews to some extent ever since at least my early teens, if not earlier. Both views have developed considerably over the years. In each worldview I would say that many themes have remained consistent, but details have changed dramatically, particularly in the case of the The Mystical (If there is interest I could post a description of an earlier incarnation of the The Mystical, which if anything was considerably more bizarre than the present one.) There is a reason why I spent so much more time writing about The Mystical, and that is because it has been the dominant worldview for the majority of my life. In one form or another, I have long held it close as "the truth". It has dictated my actions greatly, as I have always followed the instructions I was given. (Either by my guide, or in earlier versions..........Enoch. Yes that Enoch.) On the other hand, I have several times retreated completely from the mystical worldview and embraced a completely materialistic worldview. During my most notable and intense Manic Phase I became a Libertarian. Somehow, believing that I was a Randian Superman made me a WORSE person than when I believed I had a grand destiny to become a super powerful warrior. (I guess what I'm saying is fuck Libertarianism forever)

One further note, each worldview has a couple of important variations depending on what symptoms of my mental illness I am experiencing at that time. In Schizoaffective, the Schizophrenic symptoms and the Mood Disorder(Bipolar type 2 in my case) symptoms can occur separately, or together, creating a wonderful cornucopia of unpredictable behaviours. The mood disorder can be either Manic or Depressed, which is fairly self explanatory. The Schizophrenia in my case takes three main forms, seeing the connections between apparently unconnected things (that only I can see) experiencing that I have psychic powers, or outright visual/auditory hallucinations. Generally the Shizophrenic symptoms work on a severity level, where if I am having visual/auditory hallucinations, then I am damn sure using my psychic powers to suss out the connections between major players in world politics so that I know where to steer the future.

This makes for essentially three important (but to others totally unseen) factors that have dictated my behavior over the years. Either I was in a mundane or mystical dominant worldview, and then it was like rolling dice for where my symptoms where at the time. Under the right circumstances, this could go my way and I could pull off something pretty impressive. And then I could wake up the next day, the dice coming up with a different result for my symptoms, and now I can't even come close to matching the previous performance. In short, this has made my behavior, and in particular my performance at jobs over the years rather............inconsistent. For many years I beat myself up pretty hard over this. I always felt the fault lie in my motivation, so I would strive to find ways to motivate myself or just brute force willpower my way through.

Some examples:

I drove (and instructed) 18 wheelers for 2 years. During much of that time, I was in a totally mundane state of mind, manic like a motherfucker, and the Schizophrenia was mild, just a good "gut sense" that I would follow from time to time to avoid trouble. My performance was remarkable. I needed little sleep. I was excited to get up every day and work, I loved the challenge. I purposefully took the highest risk/reward loads I could and I ran illegal as all fuck. (Let me emphasize the illegal part. My log books were an immaculately kept lie) My company loved me, I was a top 3 performer out of 800 drivers in my division every week. I only slept 3-4 hours a day and would wake up and vault out of bed. Food was always amazing. I loved life, I felt like a little God. I was living proof that with a little hard work and dedication you could make it in this country no matter what your background was.

and then I woke up one morning and it started to get different

I stayed in my completely mundane worldview, but my symptoms changed. The non stop Mania started to give way to Depression. My Schizophrenia went from "gut sense" to full blown hallucinations of demons attacking me. I started to under perform. I started to make mistakes. I started missing deadlines and making bad judgement calls. I didn't have the energy I used to have. I needed way more than 4 hours of sleep, and it  took me an hour to get moving in the morning. I just couldn't do it anymore, despite the fact that I really really wanted to. I tried everything to try and recapture my motivation, my boundless, endless source of strength and energy. I started to become terrified of the truck and dread every moment I had to drive. I lost all my nerve. In short order I racked up speeding tickets in 3 different states and tore down a bank sign, my only at fault accident. Each of the tickets I could have fought, I would certainly have won at least 2 of them, but I just couldn't muster the strength. I shut down. The tickets passed through courts without contest. With only a few days before my CDL was going to be suspended I turned in my keys in disgrace. I had gone from golden child to abject failure in only 6 weeks.

Another example of how this works would be the time I spent as a webcam tarot reader, a modern version of the old "Dial A Psychic" hustle. At the time I was very much into the mystical mindset, and I was slightly (but not badly manic). Getting the job seemed like a natural thing to do for someone with my psychic talents, and for a while I did enjoy it and made good money. The schedule of the job also suited me, because me hours were from whenever I felt like to whenever I felt like. I tried to keep a rough schedule, but it was always a relief that I could just decide not to work if I wanted too. (Pretty much everyone involved in the psychic industry is pretty goddamned flaky so an irregular schedule doesn't even raise an eyebrow.)

Mania in my experience is usually triggered by environmental factors. My first day as a webcam psychic I got pretty lucky and got a ton of customers. I made a couple hundred bucks in around 4 hours. The next morning I was manic, eager to launch my career as a successful psychic. I was planning into the future, fantasizing about what my lifestyle would be like with a steady, large income. I had natural talent, all I needed  was to build a brand and really get my name out there. I made a twitter account, started a new blog, and made a separate facebook account just for my new psychic persona. I did very well on cam for the first week or so, and in my spare time I worked on my social media. I was constantly thinking of ways I could expand myself and get my name out there. I made advertisements on craigslist, I contacted local psychic fairs, anything I could do to get myself out there. It was all coming together for me. I had finally found my calling. I felt great and started taking long walks by the lake just because I had the energy.

Then the Mania faded.

It faded fast this time, literally overnight. One day, I'm feeling great. I had made good money, had garnered a number of twitter followers, and was working on an ambitious series of articles for my blog. I stayed up late writing, and went to bed content and happy with myself, excited for the morning to come so I could resume working on my blog.

I woke up much later than usual, and the first thing I thought of was my blog. But instead of excited I felt deep anxiety about it, I didn't want to write at all. I shrugged my shoulders and figured today was as good a day as any to take a day off from my social media activities. I felt really tired, and the thought of cooking my breakfast just seemed not worth the effort, so I didn't eat. I dawdled all day online, not really doing much of anything, I didn't even feel like playing WoW, it seemed like too much effort. As the day wore on a sense of dread started to come over me. I could feel it intensely in my stomach, something was wrong, but I had no idea what. As the hour approached that I normally got on cam the feeling of dread only intensified. By the time I sat down to log in and turn the camera on, I was feeling such dread and anxiety that I was nauseous. I put these feelings aside and forced myself to go online with a fake smile and upbeatness I really didn't feel. I did very poorly, made little money, and logged off early.

I took the next day off, figuring I had been working really hard lately and just needed some time to recharge my batteries.

A day off turned into a week. A week I did literally nothing that accomplished anything. I didn't even play videogames or watch movies, I just sat at my computer. I would half read something, get bored, and then switch to reading something else. Or I would start a flash game up, and after 10 minutes get bored. I couldn't find anything to occupy my attention for more than five minutes. I took frequent naps, and sometimes just lay in bed. All the while I was starting to feel intense guilt over abandoning my social media and my job. Every day the shame and guilt got worse, until I finally forced myself to go back online.

I did terrible. Despite working more hours than normal, I had almost no customers. And worse, it seemed like my psychic powers were all gone, I felt like a giant fraud the entire time. During the few readings I did give it was agony. The entire time I felt like a giant fraud. I wasn't psychic, no one was psychic. I was just exploiting the trust of gullible people who just wanted someone to tell them it would all be okay. I couldn't shake that feeling that I was a giant phony. What the fuck was I doing trying to portray myself as some sort of light energy working psychic? I couldn't even look at a my social media, because it was all a giant fake and I felt deeply ashamed for ever having made it. This went on for a few more weeks, my feelings of being a phony growing worse and worse, my customer base dwindling down till even my regulars never came by, and I just gave up. Forcing myself to log on was a mighty struggle of willpower that would begin early in the morning. By the time my appointed our came to work I was a stressed wreck, desperately trying to hide my real feelings about what I was doing. As soon as I logged off for the night I instantly started dreading doing it all over again tomorrow. In the end I just abandoned the entire thing.

The truck driving and online psychic are two pretty typical examples from my life. I could explain many more examples but the pattern stays roughly the same. Start new thing, do very well at new thing, feel great, like a living god with an inevitably successful future. Then wake up one morning and all my energy is gone. No amount of willpower allows me to produce results like I had been. What work I manage to do is of poor, substandard quality. Then, after a brutal struggle with myself to keep going on, I abandon the entire effort. I feel such great relief the moment I decide to walk away. Relief that is slowly replaced by shame because I have let people down again with my failure. After a couple of weeks I don't think about the project at all anymore and just pretend it never existed.

One thing about these two rival viewpoints is that they are both entirely internally consistent. Either one can justify itself logically, albeit not rationally. They both also feel the same to me. One is not inherently more valid than the other, at least internally. I can recognize how irrational the mystical viewpoint is, but is only because I've learned how regular people think over the years. Without that, I would never for a moment consider that there might be something wrong with the worldview. I have no problem whatsoever behaving as if it is entirely the truth, it is never questioned. And when in the mystical mindset I will occasionally think of the mundane mindset and feel a pang of guilt over how naive that thinking is, how simplistic. I must have really been a coward to have backed down from the "REAL TRUTH". Conversely, when in the mundane mindset if I think back on my life all I see is a repeating pattern of irrational behavior and choices that frankly, I am horrified at. As a result, by and large I don't think back on it. When in one mindset thinking about the other one just feels painful, so I don't do it. I am only able to do so now because of the aid of medication, and it is still quite taxing. Even the act of recognizing that there are two rival mindsets is difficult, I have to draw the line mentally. Under normal (non-medicated) circumstances I would barely be able to process that there are two contradictory mindsets in me, for the most part there is nothing inside that alerts me to the conflict. I absolutely experience a ton of anxiety as a result of this split mindedness, and to some extent both are always vying for my attention. Until I was medicated I was never even ware of this source of anxiety, or this source of internal stress.

Moreover, when I switch from one mindset to another I am not really aware of it. There is nothing inside me that seems to change. It just happens. I do not notice any difference. No alarms go off, nothing at all seems to change inside. Even though my behavior, desires, and reactions to things have radically changed it does not seem strange to me in the slightest. The transition is always smooth and unremarkable. I am just going forwards, just like I always have. It is the same with all my symptoms really, even the manic/depressive. I never notice anything strange when I'm manic, I'm just being my awesome self. When I'm depressed I wonder why the fuck I can't seem to get motivated, because I really really really want to get back to being my awesome self. (Realistically, I could compare my past obsession with becoming manic to a drug addiction.)

The only way I have come to recognize that two separate viewpoints exist is because I am a very careful observer. I at least would note that the reactions of people around me would sometimes change dramatically, and I was genuinely puzzled by it. Only by many mistakes over the years and careful self reflection did it ever occur to me that the problem was ME, not everyone else. The first time the possibility that I was the one causing people to behave differently towards me was quite a startling revelation, it had never really occurred to me before. Later, through therapy I came to realize that the two differing mindsets existed, and that they switched over time. Only recently because of going off meds for three weeks did I come to realize that I DO NOT HAVE CONTROL over which viewpoint is dictating my behavior. In those three weeks I reverted fully back to the mystical mindset, as well as having several rather sharp manic episodes.

Now I have noted before that depending on a combination of dominant mindset and presenting symptoms, my behavior changes. I will now try to describe why it changes.

Keep in mind that when a change occurs, either presenting symptoms or mindset, it happens on a subconscious level, I am not really aware of it. I'm going out for a walk in the park today because I feel great and have the energy to do so. I always do this when I have energy. I am sitting here reading for 5 hours a day because it is vitally important, I always do this. I don't realize that I am behaving differently, nothing seems to feel at all different inside me. Paradoxically, the internal landscape *HAS* changed dramatically. The reasons for the behavior changes is because everything inside has indeed changed. I am just totally unaware of it, even though the alterations are significant.

The mystical mindset for example, views the world as unevolved, ignorant, threatening, and hell bent on self destruction. When in the mystical mindset I feel a strong compulsion to try and convince the world of the need to evolve their understanding, specifically everyone needs to understand things the way I do. As a result I have at times been a ranting madmen talking about conspiracy theories to anyone who would sit still for five seconds. I also feel compelled to obsessively research conspiracy theories. I will listen to "higher" music, Enya, Enigma, Deep forest, and the like. I also feel an immense and ever present sense of dread. I just know deep inside with every fiber of my being that something terrible is about to happen and I have got to try and do something about it. There is no choice for an evolved being like me, I can't simply stand aside and watch as the children play with gasoline. Other main points with the mystical mindset is its intolerance of repetition or drudgery. The mere idea of doing the exact same thing over and over for 8 hours is terror inducing. I must have stimulation, I must have new things to think about, I must have new experiences. If everyone else was as evolved as I am they would see that too. Keeping schedules is also noticeably harder in the mystical mindset, and there is a great deal of anxiety as a result of this. The last thing to note about the mystical mindset is the absolute certainty that I am doing the right thing, that I must find a way to fix the world, to make people understand why they should all be more like me. Hand in hand with this certainty is the knowledge that I am an alien presence on this planet, this is not my home, I do not belong here. My future is not in my hands, my guides arrange every experience that comes my way. I receive instructions on what to do next in the form of strong intuitions, or knowings. I do not question what I regard as the instructions from my guides/higher self, I just do it. It is all connected, it all has a reason, I am merely being lead to non stop trials to help me to see that. The terrible future is coming, the thing that I have known ever since my youth that would happen, will happen soon. I must prepare. I must follow my instructions so that I can be ready to help as many people as I can survive the coming ordeal.

As a result of all this, I behave very differently in the mystical mindset. Even my appetite changes, as I constantly indulge in overeating as a way of escaping the stress of the world's imminent demise.

The mundane mindset by contrast, is much calmer, and generally more productive. Working a job is considerably easier (although still very difficult to do long term), I am interested in academic subjects but spend less time reading. I go out more, socialize more, I pride myself on keeping to schedules. I am ambitious, I want to learn new skills, I have some goals for the future, some ideas about how I would like to live my life. The world is a strange place but I can learn to understand much of it. Things and events simply happen, they simply are. There is no grand overarching spiderweb of connections. I do not have special perception that other people don't, in fact I don't even worry about that. I just wanna get through my shift and go out and have a good time. The exception to much of this would be if a good manic fit hits while I am in the mundane mindset. In which case, I will become obsessed with achieving success in something great. I don't do anything without it being part of some master plan to propel me into either the world stage or wealth beyond my dreams. I try to learn whatever skills I think I need as fast as possible and become super critical about the slightest perceived flaw. Other than that, when in the mundane mindset I am a pretty regular guy. I have more stories about crazy shit I've been involved with/done than most, but I do not advertise this fact nearly as much.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

....and I hope they stay dead.

It is Sunday morning, and I am standing in line in the basement of Travis Park Methodist church. The basement walls are unsmoothed stone, the original foundation of the building dating back to the 1800's. It is here that for the past 15 years a hot breakfast has been served to the homeless. Pancakes, eggs, fruit, hot coffee and cold milk, it is one of the best meals of the week for my fellow brothers and sisters of the street.

The line is long and wraps around the outer walls of the basement. As always it is packed, around 200 homeless have come. The mood is upbeat and pleasent, as it normally is. For the most part folk are polite and patient, the opposite of what one would expect considering how haggard (and sometimes smelly) many of the attendees are. Here a schizophrenic woman, normally barely capable of a regular conversation, plucks away at a piano and improvises a haunting yet beautiful melody. There a group of 8 or so individuals sits at a long row of tables painting, their artwork over the years adorning the otherwise bare walls in a truly unique art gallery. Here sits a group of teenagers chatting loudly about pokemon, there sits a lone veteran savoring his first cup of coffee.

As I stand in the slow moving line I pull out the book tucked under my arm and begin to read. Just before I enter the cafeteria one of the Pastors of the church waits with a friendly handshake a list of prayer requests. Graying hair and neatly trimmed beard, he is affable, his handshake firm and his concern for his fellow man genuine. Spotting my book he asks "Good book?" I close the book and show him the title. THE DEATH OF CONSERVATISM. He grins ear to ear.

"Good" he says in his gentle baritone, and with a look of supreme satisfaction continues "And I hope it stays that way."

This has often been my experience with the majority of Christians whom work with the poor and homeless in San Antonio. A complete rejection of modern conservatism and its approach to otherizing the poor. I had never believed that there were truly people whom actually did follow the teachings of Jesus until I came here. Time and again, my cynicism has given way as an outstretched hand, a warm smile, and a plate of hot food were offered by the most genuine people I have ever personally met.

No matter what the Paul Ryan's and David Brat's of the world might believe, and no matter how delusional the Tea Party might be in its modern version of "right thinking", Christians whom truly serve the poor and whom truly believe in the teachings of a man named Jesus do exist. And here in San Antonio at least, they are a growing majority.