I Always Loose My Way 4 –
– the day… you let go of days
…Slow, without the moments attached. I watched a movie yesterday eve, one seen a few times before but with a long enough lapse since the last that I’d forgotten many details and even about some of the scenes. Cinema Paradiso. A famous director receives news of the death of the man who had accepted the mantle of his father figure decades earlier. The call throws him into memory, almost a nostalgic saudade, as the audience enters into the internal film of his childhood, all those events and emotions and people that fundamentally made both much of what he’d become and influenced those early decisions that determined a lot of what would happen in his life later. It’s an old film, lovely the lingering and normal colors, nothing hyper-real via digitalization, no 5-second rule shifting the camera shot (from a few not-so-well interpreted studies of how our gaze – not all our vision but our gaze – shifts, never lingering in its turn for more than 5 seconds at one object or subject. The removal of depth, like buying and wearing poorly fabric-ed clothes. The absence of quality, of fabric that retains itself through time.) Linger. Let the stuff come to meaning by itself, the image, the language (visual and musical). Something I didn’t do at all well in the last ‘Always’ post.
Quite forced it was, pushing through to the decided point, squeezing chronology into minimal meaning to get to the post’s ‘n’- form, (Mark Twain’s 2nd most important day, the day you find out why you were born,) instead of letting the words meander and find their own way. Story forgone, the very minor history left aside. Anyway.
An odd confirmation of the film this morning, stopping on a bridge over a small river to observe an egret – lovely and long, so much elegance in movement and form. Solitary though – the only one that appears on most days there as you look down from on the northern side of the small bridge, the bird either perched on top the low cement wall dividing the river in two or in the water stepping carefully as it, I don’t know, hunts or looks for a kind of food to eat. Stare. After a few minutes of looking the giddy strange sensation of allowing what you think you see change, the water moving in the river detaching itself from its own ‘n’ and becoming a…dancing, vibrating move of lights, the egret remaining perched on the wall, unchanged, as the white malleat-ing pieces of river now jiggling fixed, like another dimension beneath the water itself but still part of the river, emerge. Gestalt, we call it but that, I think, leads in the wrong direction. As if it’s always one or the other or part of an ongoing narrative and not, instead, something…. different entirely. Elements of a narrative moving to meaning, maybe but it’s different parts of an observer, human or other, that form the story. Not the change itself – which isn’t formed, not really, at all. You only internally see a different created expression. Inferences are plural as most things, even if their expression into or onto… the inference of you…. has to be, always, singular. Only one ‘n’, not n, o or p +. (But that’s not exactly gestalt, and certainly not at all the often used horrible translation of ‘the whole being greater – instead of ‘other’ – than the sum of its parts’.)
link – gestalt quick wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology
So…I flew over the juicier parts, in the last post, not allowing the water to dissolve away from itself, so to speak, to demonstrate the dancing reflected light beneath or within. Understandable. This is a medium-sized exercise in 11 parts covering 51 years (52 if I don’t get a bit of a move on), and there I was at the end of post 3 still shy of 17 years… a Moby-wailing pace for a story that isn’t at all so…whal-ish. But the approach to those questions that ended the post 3, and their effects – the ‘why is’, ‘is there’, ‘what is’ and ‘what-how’, were actually rather— rich, for me. And have to do, quite a bit, with the repeating themes of developing motivation and systemic dialog here. So before leading into another Twain-ish day, call it ‘the day you didn’t know’, I’ll dwell on that other passed autobiographical bridge, try to put the letters (a then b then c then d) in some sort of recognizable order.
Sum of things. The family thing, (‘tension-isolation-war-silence-care’); the social thing (discomfort-confliction-detachment-curiousity’); the development thing (maternal cortisol response-hysterical hpa axis-rapid development- relatively scarce vta-up dopa roads); other things, had mostly opened up whatever affect, the fabulated river of my inferred doing me, to everything else, spaces where a sort of visibility, light, could penetrate into or beneath and reflect. Pieces. Of… something else.
Usually adolescence is the space where you integrate, your place within a hierarchy. Ie, male income as adults positively corresponds (rather well actually, at least in 2005 it did,) not to height as an adult but at age 14, (the taller the more, though primarily the idea is above-below the mean, correspondence, higher than average more earned income, lower than lower than.) Likely you’d get similar for any socially useful attribute going back to adolescence; athleticism, appearance, sense of humor, interaction… displayed then. Not so infrequently you get a fall-off in other type of measurements during the same age, ie iq, likely co-related. Because…. the sum of things, developing motivation below awareness, finds a lot of space for schematic changes within your CNS (mind). Some roads are opened up with more lanes, some fall into relative disuse, and the… blobs, modules, co-related then also get… less or more traffic or a different kind of traffic, an alteration of specialization. The wiring – which is never completely set – is still more than a little open to adaptation.
In a suburban high school, midwest, in well-lit, closed rectangular spaces, constant temperature…. the place you are at that age… the rapport with others within that place is of course, well, what you mostly learn. More than any math or subject or even your self, with of course exceptions and differences. You’re developing a useful affect in the culture you’re in. The sum of things, the outline of an combined expressed n’s. I was example of one of those who aren’t really there in the same way. Anyway. Sometimes later it works out as you expect, basically, sometimes not so much: the contrast between that ‘n’ and the rest of the world sometimes isn’t quite so easy. Which can be hard, almost always unexpected, such experiences from the outside-in that violate inferred belief so completely that they result in a day – you didn’t know.
It would happen to me as well, a bit sooner than usual I suppose. But not yet. Once detached from all that and after what could be described as an adjustment phase, well… some motivation of interaction remains. Not peer pressure as it were, but whatever deeper motivations might be extant. So that meant…watching. Observing. There’s so much information in any moment, so many languages. Living is, after all, a hugely wonderful affair. Anyway again.
So you watch. Experiment. Play. Sitting back in the ‘commons’ room next to the cafeteria after lunch how 1 person alone changes when another is added, lanague, gesture, tilt of your head, then again if a third comes, a fourth even more – something then begins to be lost, something else emerging. Synchrony. And the purposeful play like any other mammal, when you mix genders, when you change composition. At the same time each conveying a bit of their history, posture, head and eyes are important, what they hold, do you look inward much or all you more present, outward looking in a social way. Then the music… girls there in melody, song, combining spontaneuosly frequently into make-shift choral groups, ‘i am the eye in the sky’, different quite from the guys all into relatively forceful body gesture, ‘lots more da-da, dada’s, fewer words unless identifying with the shrill of a voice, its pitch, the lack of under-deep, so to speak, chord sequences. Everything then, all those languages, come in without the weight of knowledge. (Everything is fiction, or at least equivocation. It’s where the dialogs take place that makes the difference.)
Interaction then came in the form of small experiments, presenting a thing to one person at a time and note their reactions. (A bit funny the contrast within avoidance. Ask someone if they did a thing at one moment that socially was asked for but against what they believe or thought they should have done and you almost always get the backward, eyes-opened to brow and ‘no I didn’t’. Different from the relatively few who are conscious of manipulation, fast head turn left or direct, light shift down and change the subject, try to put the asker into defense, change the subject,ecc.) Meanwhile instead of – and later I would be a bit ashamed of it – diving into school subjects as such I dived into those questions that corresponded with my own motivations. The usual, as mentioned in the last post. Why is there any thing when no thing seemed so much more intuitively correct? Is there actually anything? If so, what distinguishes it from inexistence? What are we, how does our behavior emerge? Dreams.
Or perhaps sleep as a function, ongoing. I’ve never slept much though if active 6-6 and half hours at night plus a short nap in the afternoon is an oddly consistent cycle of sleep. (If less active physically then a little more sleep is often needed. That might have to do with the way the ‘new’ , rather relevance of it, is cleaned away or integrated. And again how even outside of consiousness motivation determines how and what is imoprtant to keep. Here words are used as concepts but the corresponding systems, biological, are likely fairly direct.)
A new study reveals a dramatic landscape of gene expression changes across all cell types in the mouse visual cortex after a sensory experience, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180208120831.htm
A digression… one of the themes I’m trying to convey…. information might be represented temporally, that is the slices you might consider if examining it don’t stop within one system, say, you or your brain, but extend beyond them. The evolution however of those representing systems is instead entropic and contained. But they are two very different things. We exist in the tango between the two, the complexity of emergence, of which the vast majority is far larger than us. Another notion is that time, as we call it, isn’t. All we have, all the universe has, is the present eternal, and if there is purpose to why things are, a reason you could call it, it is the evolution of dialoging systems to remain here, in this present. Which implies a sort of synchrony. Time is local, its creation, perception and expression as well, an aspect of the information in systems. And one last notion… the question, what is entropy, how do topologies form, what’s their relation to information and expression?
link – We Were Wrong About Consciousness Disappearing in Dreamless Sleep, Say Scientists: http://www.sciencealert.com/your-consciousness-does-not-switch-off-during-a-dreamless-sleep-say-scientists
Back to the sleep thing. And those existential adolescent questions. You do the usual, try mind experiment-meditation stuff, not knowing you’re doing such of course, try cleaning away everything from your head, removing, there was motion, a sensation of it in any case, colorlessness, a granular sound in the quiet – that sort of granularity is relevant somewhere. As the sense of motion, of you moving through something or seeing it move in its own time. It’s impossible feel or imagine, create, nothing or infinity, of course. Maybe all infinities are discrete. But you go anyway in that direction, try to remove yourself and ‘feel’ through a sort of internal vision. Alongside those sorts of things… the night.
Then, before top-down inhibition would mature, dreams were frequently recalled, and identifying the moments was also frequent – those delicious minutes within when you can determine your own dream. (Flying was fun, or more of a directed floating.) From there came dreaming in series, repeating the scene with a bit of will. Sometimes I even simply identified myself as sleeping though not entirely in a dream – I assumed I was. At that point sometimes I refused and returned to sleep, others I woke myself up. Then for awhile I tried to both. Identify myself as sleeping, then try to bring myself into wakefulness while maintaining that sort of dreaming state. Which, of course, never happened. Not merely or only, I think, because of the regional flooding up top, some… canals open up while others close down. But I think because the way expression works… you can only have one at a time, a hierarchy toward even if below the dialogues continue, plurality and complexity.
So, if anyone is left here (including me) by this point… the ‘floating’, identifying self, movement, body, dreaming, granularity… everything sort of seemed and still to me seems connected – and repeats, even in sleeping states. The way of viewing internally when trying to move up from sleep into wakefulness were very similar, though the granularity, still present, was much less. It would become pervasive a few years later though, during the deepest or worst of first onset depression. That, to, might be relevant.
But I’ve already reached 2,000 words on this 3-b post, a sort of filler add-on to the lacking in the former 3, this one without whales or much twain. And…I want to move to the next one. At least some more comedy, and least simpler. Something more about connections, love and sex…. Valentines Day is coming up. So I’ll end this here – the day I let go of days.
All those days…
I suppose I should also try to emphasize other aspects, however banal, these words are trying to convey. One of those: stuff emerges after it’s already happened. The expression of any system, including you, those from which you create the story of yourself. Stories, as odd as it may feel, you make up after and though not inevitable are limited by motivation and topology dancing and whirling, or so many motivations and topologies, like couples waltzing around a ballroom – what happens next, or the last drop of water that undoes the balance of forces at the rim of a vase and off the liquid drips or it doesn’t and nothing changes, the last grain of sand on the mound until it re-settles, sort of, ecc. The last moment before… you find yourself in another, in one of Twain’s days.
Those moments had already happened, their representations, but you didn’t know, couldn’t have known. Uncertainty isn’t avoidable, maybe thankfully, even if we try to (we have to, really, we’ve evolved to,) contain it. And complexity. 2 other points to point out point-fully, or pointlessly. I wax.
link – Researchers identify ‘social place cells’ – https://phys.org/news/2018-01-social-cells-brain.html#jCp
And wane. I left off the last ‘loose my way’ post after running away, inside, from the place I was, ‘place’ of course as a large word, not as much or so much the actual room I was in. We form memories of literal place, represent it, every time we form a memory of self. So in that too hot high school on an August afternoon, filled with so-o many kids and men, it felt to me (was that running away self-removal? Distance from place?) claustrophobic or a phobic reaction in any sense, like a cell wall double-lined, the phobia delineating the form inside, an inevitability given the context. The preceding might be perceived as pointless questions, almost rhetorical and maybe they are but, if you think about it, maybe not so much. Was the running away due to a cause and effect thing which created a story or instead a temporal expression, as all those moment-days here, emerging from entropic evolution? (I’ve become fairly convinced of the later, of course. Otherwise why bother with such words?)
link: A Computational Account of Optimizing Social Predictions Reveals That Adolescents Are
Conservative Learners in Social Contexts – http://www.jneurosci.org/content/38/4/974
Anyway the later could be one way to look at it, place and self. Usually though we use the former, narrative cause and effect (our fabulated and fabulating narrative forms to create and describe cause and effect or causality.) So let me bring such in. Story. History. Character. Context.
Silence. Except for odd weekend days when my brother tried to play his electric guitar (very, very loudly. My ass well remembers the vibrations of ‘She’s got the Jack’ and ‘Big Balls’ – AC/DC was one of his favorites. Glasses resting in the living room credenza whined, struggling to hold themselves in tact from the onslaught gushing from the Marshall amp below. ‘Help,’ they seemed to cry. Windows sighed. Even the plants assumed a mildly disgusted air. The dog remained out in the back yard a lot, poor thing,) after the heated wars my parent’s house had faded into silence, or quiet, the almost utter absence of interaction. My brother spent most of his days away after taking possession of the ‘good’ family car, (the 2.0 Pininfarina-Fiat convertible which he would spend oodles of my father’s income on, dip-painting the chassis, paying a Ferrari mechanic to soup it up….likely the most expensive Fiat on the planet at the time,) before heading to University that year (Kenyon.) After school or track practice I’d head home and try to cheer up my mother, who would wait until she heard the sound of my father’s car (the ‘2nd’ car, a used Lancia or Fiat not so expensive as the convertible but still, as they used to joke: what does FIAT stand for? Fix It Again Tony,) pulling up the driveway when she would scuttle upstairs into the master bedroom and lock the door, remaining there until he went to bed hours later. (He slept in his studio. Understandable…he’d beaten her at least twice badly, I can’t know how many other times, and she remained terrorized. He’d beaten the hell out me as well when I was quite young though only twice – I have no recollection as to why. Merely the full wind up slap-hitting, arm raised full up and bam-sting-bam until a small chunk of my body’s skin was reddened. Though that behavior, the physical part, had faded already by the time I was an adolescent and was to disappear – as we age so does our brain and mind. GABA, one of those molecule-soldiers in our noggin’ and elsewhere, in particular declines generally in the front half of your head up top. It acts as something of a break, sponsoring or directly inhibiting the bottom-up expression of some of those ‘partitures’ in our internal symphony. When it does, equilibriums change until in some cultures you get… middle aged men divorcing their wives, buying yellow ferraris and fucking 20 year old Romanian blondes. On the other side…you get the second peak in women’s suicide at age 50. But for most… slowly you let go of the old meanings of things you’ve done, like finishing a book good or bad, and ease into a generally happier state.) So, silence, that house, all that open… space, and beyond family…. the lack of any strong external social pressure to belong.
Then, well… I never studied, basically. School subjects, that is. My sophomore year I did promise myself I would look at the books one hour a day and most of the time I did – with no discernible results. (A’s and a B or 2 each term. The… only real objective from nearly all coursework was to get grades just good enough in context to attend the wanted university.) Socially…well, the running away wasn’t merely from a football team but from… the horror, as it were, of social forms, at least those to be observed and understood in a middle-class suburban high school. One winds up a sort of loner, (which could bring to mind another Twain day: the day you take your lunch not to the usual table – the ‘2nd’ table. You’ll likely remember, those cafeteria tables, the first where the most popular normally adjusted students might sit, usually with a make-shift king and-or sometimes queen, both with attending nobility and liked, and a jester, a prince, a councillor, the 2nd of the minors, not enough of whatever was needed, looks, attitude, ecc. … to the table of the terribly misfit but rather smart El Salvadorian refugee brothers, the younger of whom would then become my best friend for many years and remains the person who likely knows me more and better than anyone else,) facilitated by, well, looks.
I wax, waning the notion by the waxing. In short: I had all the time and space in the world. No boundaries. No forced familial obligations, merely the willing care of that extended self (the love felt for my two rather destroyed parents and ‘my big brother’;) no accepted or presented social entwinements, merely a deep friendship in which to share and discuss; no academic responsibilities, merely the hungriest of desires to dive into subjects that mattered (to me.) It was, from within, a great time. Wonder.
Much of all that was, in context as always, mostly inevitable. As mentioned in the first post… the map inside, the way things were to be represented including self or selves, and the resulting motivations were perhaps largely too strong for very different outcomes. Usually we call it personality but that likely doesn’t convey the right concept. Style, maybe, as O. Sacks used. But the context of open-ness and space, silence… gave the developing networks a context that was likely larger or less bounded than usual. That is, a lack of most any kind of felt fear or pressure from either the outside or from within. The end of stress. Cortisol. The little fucker-upper of expressing motivation. Left me alone as I grew into adolescence. Leaving deeper motivations, maybe immature in a social usage but most of that is… equivocal, free reign and rein. So what does that sort of non-social motivation drive a kid in that context to do, or more, how does motivation (those dopaminergic-influenced pathways) develop?
link – Small but distinct differences among species mark evolution of human brain:
This is a bit harder, quite, than I’d imagined. Not the sitting and writing of course but what to leave out, where to proceed, where to begin and end a parenthesis.
(Ie, should I bring in the sequence of singular best friends, Steve-Jim-Rafael, very unlikely by coincidence always the 2nd youngest in my class, and some of what that might imply? Should I back-track more to other moments that weren’t and aren’t Twain days (too early in context) but reflect what will come or the observable behaviors reflecting network expression beneath?)
(What’s the balance, the writing of a story with all the aspects of narrative? Indecision, Hamlet meeting 1900 (from Baricco’s book). Or…the opposite of that my adolescence, when all those constraints weren’t there, at all, leaving the metaphorical words to easily flow into the pages. That is, aspects of any narrative, words here as the metaphor, are then used to form a story. If those aspects aren’t so… inhibited by culture, delineated by carried fear… a different sort of story is then created. Hamlet was indeed constrained in many ways, conflicts a go-go. In Baricco’s books, when the main character 900 decides to leave his ship, the only place and culture he knows, his words so to speak (beyond music), he cannot in the end bring himself to leave. So.)
Motivation. Ambition. To feel and understand. Without anything to hold those in in some way, bound them, they themselves in words become the doing. So that’s what I did. But feel and understand what? Well, that’s the thing… there weren’t roles or boundaries or fears, after what can only be termed as a difficult late childhood. A third time so… everything, basically. And the distance between the two, feeling-understanding, because of a lack of sustained affect, socially anyway… was very small. Everything.
Not everything as in this-that-this. You’re not writing a story or stories. You are the story. There were subjects of course and all the rigmarole in each. Number stuff, (ie. creating a betting league based on NFL games. Where you learn: remember to loose more often if you want people to play; number series in math, where you develop equations which the teacher even allows you to use on exams where you learn: prove them formally, on your own if you have to, or nothing comes from the fun; investing your father’s money, where you realize how relatively easy it is not by looking at financial markets but the world and only after finding where the representation of that world on ‘wall street’ has it wrong, where you learn: if the money can be stolen by others within the system – an AC/DC playing elder sibling in that instance- it likely will be.) Training stuff, flavor stuff, music stuff, art stuff, ecc. But never as fields or things or subjects as such but more like…. feelings. Feelings can’t really be removed from anything of course, ever present, the way we time travel, so to speak. But… that’s how the approach was, and is. Lots of research on any individual field, of course, anywhere you can find it.
….Those were the years of Carl Sagan, Dr. Who, Jazz, Beethoven, A Flock of Seagulls…. words of an age and a time. But mostly it went fairly straight to questions, the obvious ones: why is there anything when nothing, as in nothingness, seems, at that age, so much more intuitive? And right after, of course: is there actually anything? And just after that, depending on how you approach those two questions: if so, what characterizes it?
In the meantime you begin to experiment, seeing as you’re stuck in high school and won’t enter the, then imagined, even presumed, fulfilling world of university for another couple years roughly. You fiddle with your classmates and yourself (what are we, how do we develop, what is our circumstance, our social forms, ecc. Ah, I left out… the religion stuff, then ‘god’ thing, pretty much left as such within a few weeks after sophomore football season ended.) Dreams. Dreaming.
That was a subject that occupied a good while, investigating dreaming, my own that is. But here I am now pushing once again the word count limits of this essay. So I’ll end this section (then go straight back to dreaming in the next) where nevertheless I’d intended to go anyway: the day you find out … what you have to do. And get it wrong.
Spring of my junior year, standing at the family room window looking out, contemplating is the word but it’s used a bit often too…easily, at dried leaves twirling about in a vortex. I whispered a line out-loud to myself a bit kitsch-dramatically: ‘I have to understand the human brain.’ What I was born for. But I’m dumb, was dumb then so failed to notice, to see the obvious, that’d I answered the wrong unheard question. It should have been, that unheard question: what do dry leaves turning about in the wind have to do with our brain? Trying to understand that would have been the next reason why.
So. I answered 41, you might say, instead of 42. The day you find why you born – and missed the point. (43…)
…back to Twain’s two important days, (birth and the day of discovering why you’re here.) Expression and context. I’ll add at least a third, extend the cliche: The day you leave wherever you were. Detachment. It’s not the same as discovery though it goes in a similar direction. Not something inevitable but motivation, again that word, plays its part. (And, below, an old post in Italian on the same.)
I hurt my shoulder a couple months ago. Rotator cuff(s), good and torn. Likely at some point I’ll need to get it operated on in order to return to, say more than 75 percent functioning. Later. It’s my right shoulder, the same rotator cuff(s) (a different one this time,) I detached about 36 years and one month earlier. Playing American football, high school, junior varsity. Third day of double sessions, hit the pad hard during a drill and…snap. (What the hell?) I played through the season with the rip, likely making it worse, much. From time to time it would re-snap and the quick-crawling pain would shoot up then down. I’d let my arm dangle and head for the sidelines, get to the ground and writhe about for a minute or so, asking my body to pay attention to other inputs, until the arm-crawl-pain eased. (Sophomores usually don’t get much love in varsity play, all the more if they’re…quiet. Something silly, maybe. One should learn to keep howling, without so much intent. Most of the time, we do.)
In itself that wan’t an important moment, then. It remained an unused memory until lately. But its temporal vicinity to another important moment makes it relevant to this…memoir? (Thesis? Essay? Story?) A couple days after screwing my shoulder, during the intrasquad scrimmage, I was placed opposite my best friend and training partner at the time, Jim. Big Jim. Big boned blond, full chin, small brown eyes, giddy young smile and white skin. He was the second youngest on the team, I the first, and had the strongest upper body, I the second, in our grade. He played center, I defensive middle guard. We were pre-ordained to be the anchors of the offensive and defensive lines in the years to come…except that such never happened. I was quicker than he, faster as well and had unusually strong lower body strength. Though a silly game still the route motion of ‘besting’ him wasn’t hard, though it wasn’t my intention. Play after play I stayed low and whipped through him, and others, making backfield tackle after tackle. I was gassed, and like the games years earlier when I’d get the ball those few times and trudge down the field certain to score – certain. Not of scoring, of course, but that ‘all’ of me was present, and certain of the knowledge of my relative strength. To get me down was difficult – I was certain I could pass through anyone, even 2 or 3, on the field to get to the ball carrier, running back or QB, didn’t matter. It’s what I was supposed to do. So it went.
Until at some point… Jim tried to hold me a couple times, grabbing my jersey, to no avail. But on one play he must have grabbed on hard enough that the motion and force of my body pulled him off balance. He fell, his leg below my forward-moving right foot. I don’t know whether it was the foot or his fall but… I felt it. The something not right beneath, stopped in the middle of the play and turned. To see Jim beginning to howl behind his facemask, grimacing just horribly as he reached for his left knee. Whistles, play stop, attending trainee to him, the rest of us moving away to keep the scrimmage going some yards over to the right, ‘part of the game’, the coach cried, part of the game.
I’d blown up his knee. I was on the field for only a couple more plays before the next kid got his chance. My confusion was likely discernible. It felt..awful, and stupid. No game was worth that. Still, it wasn’t the look on Jim’s face, the unstiffled howl, the moment of detachment. That came a few hours later… and had to do with refusal.
Backtrack. This is an autobiography of sorts, and the second in a series. Why did I skip over so many years, as if the above moment of detachment came from someplace….. automatic, from nowhere or no where? It’s a question I’m asking myself right now, as I write these lines. Possible answers are many layered. And came in the first note: all of those possibilities had already happened. So why and where do you create the story?
Return to Ahab, his whale, the context, the attachment. Could the story have gone another way? Ahab, his whale, the ship the crew the directions taken, chance, a sneeze, a slip, a love affair gone well, a felt brother or sister, a dog, a bad piece of meat, a warm wind, a storm. Any can the course of a ship or the people leading it, or on it. Moby sushi. But non of those happened, really, or did they? Did it go another way after all, the story? Does it now? And where is the story, in words and flow of language, in the way we take in and infer the characters, when did you read it, the abridged version (it’s usually, or was, required reading a bit early, so to speak,) as you read or after the reading, from a movie version, from a spoken summary, from bits and other bits of related experience you fold in, Moby Dick, small representations from documentaries, from writers talking about the novel in various ways, all the wooden boats you’ve seen, in magazines, on-line, in person, in movies, every one of those tiny things like a stone dropped or skipped in a slowly moving river, or fast, or still, the ripples interacting and reaching out so circular at first then mixing up their patterns until the design is so complex you don’t really know anymore where one wave, one shape, came from. Still you try, always, to complete enough meaning to make an image, a topology of the whole, if you can. It always had to fit. And the whole thing brings up a word, motivation, and the word itself seems to bring itself back to center. Where does motivation come from? How does it develop? How many strata might there be before you actually not say but do-this?
Let me stick to the thing, mostly, being described here. That would be the author, me, in some way. How he developed. My household, my family, very loosely connected to distant relatives at first but then utterly isolated, was comprised of 4 people including me (and one dog.) The 3 other people each had significant… problems, which, alone, might have been at least mitigated but placed together, well… a 3 times catalyst. My mother would be diagnosable as psychotic in the DSM, the book from the US that categorizes mental disorders (though you could call it…. Definitely Serious Money,) paranoid delusional, stress modulated. Words. Conceptually it might be easier to consider her and people, untreated, of the same as being about 12 or so. That is, imagine a relatively smart 12 year old girl living in an adult’s body, under stress not actually able to distinguish where…. her narratives, the story she and we all tell ourselves to make sense of things, come from, wether the data was created from within or from without. Reality it’s often termed, problems of hippocamp-al, a small thingy in your brain that’s awfully important, placement. Time travel, so to speak, hormonal responses – can be very large for anyone without such or other problems but on her that sort of influence is, well, often determinate.
Maybe utterly so in defining her relation with my elder brother, the second familial element, whose entire life is basically… himself, or symbolic representations of himself. Think Donald Trump – the similarities in their behavior and even gestures and expressions is… unnerving. We call it psychopathy or psychopathic narcissism. Remorseless, criminal, a deep need to manipulate others until, wherever the scene might be, he can dominate. (pause. Here, I confirm why I thought I jumped over so many years: it’s rather hard to write. I get a tug on my hands, arms and throat, a pervasive bitterness and approaching panic. There are things that I didn’t feel back then, at all really – because I was developed in such a way not to. But the thing about such mad, self-referring systems: they don’t end. Ahab will chase his whale to the bottom of and again through the oceans. So consequences, if one doesn’t leave the story in time, are often…tragic.) There are a host of changes that take place whenever we meet someone and don’t turn away, your group, your lover, your friend. Literally your minds sync up. Those sorts of changes are much more pronounced, usually, with your children, in mothers all the more. Oxytocin (or oxytoxin, yukyuk) and such, what you are, what you must do, what the world is changes as does your place in it. My mother tied herself to her first born child in way a religious fanatic ties himself to his god. Something between a bible tale and a Hitchcock movie.
link – The Plasticity of Human Maternal Brain: Longitudinal Changes in Brain Anatomy During the Early Postpartum Period https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4318549/
And that dynamic made the already utterly, again, mad relation between my father and mother even more problematic. Because though she had trouble keeping reality in her mind, my father was more literally a bit out of his own. That is, unbeknownst to him – wether due to ignorance or fear (some stones, his brothers might have thought, would be better left unturned) derived from growing up in real poverty, or other things – he had lost the majority of his left pre-frontal cortex, the part of your brain from a little past your ear going forward. All your brain is always talking to all, or most of, the rest of itself, and stuff, behaviors observable and under the surface, emerge more than are decided upon. Like a giant chat room but with a hierarchy and with a resulting symphony, the partitures, individual sections music, that emerge. In most of us, little chunks specialize in schematic ways. Very broadly, the left part up front can be very important for a bunch of things, from updating information into new models of what you’re supposed to do, to controlling impulses often emotively influenced from other parts of the brain, to hearing, so to speak, and deciding which of the symphonic-mind partitures will be louder in the emergent symphony that is you. And other stuff. In word: he was more than a bit fucked up, and likely it was only his big intellect, the breath of the connections in other, un-damaged parts of his brain, that allowed him to function well enough quickly enough to appear, most of the time, mostly normal, at least functional.
(On Turning 51) 1 (of 11); the day you’re born
‘An elegantly simple experiment with floating particles self-assembling in response to sound waves has provided a new framework for studying how seemingly lifelike behaviors emerge in response to external forces.’
1: Twain and Melville.
…it was quite windy for a couple days last week, a shudder a shaking from the northeast, chilling and nipping, a lying wind, a trickster thwarting expectations of the continued lovely April sunshine. On the first day I went for a short walk to grab a coffee at the bar on the street nearby. Down the stairs, out the gate, left to the east then left again north – into that unwarm, oddly white iced air. The buildings lining the road funneled and accelerated its speed and strength, a sting or stings that shifts thoughts from one place to another, from where you might have been mostly or even a little into the present, if you weren’t already here. Things and more things were flying by both above and along the road’s pavement: a saddened menu stand from a distant restaurant, a clanging metal tray, papers and bags and even a pot’s lid – maybe in an effort to save its friend (the scraping menu.) The lid a crackly blue-purple color. The menu was green and black with white writing.
Papers and bags whipping around, scrunched faces to and fro along the sidewalk, a few displeasing steps forward into the wind, then a pause. Look. A young couple – still seated at a white metal table – twirling down the road, a pot of tea on the table. They didn’t seem at all panicked at their circumstance, instead smiled at each other, so happy. Love, love, love. The two of them didn’t have an Italian air – pale skin, straight hair, awkward body language. Northeast. Maybe they’d floated down from the Czech republic. It seemed to fit them somehow. I turned into one of the bars lining the street for my morning coffee.
The next day the wind had gathered force, stronger still, almost nothing outdoors remained fixed, messes everywhere, hodge-podge things mixing, trees like New Yorkers with mussed hair in a February gale, fainting plants begging for care, plastic and cardboard and the oddest of stuff mixing together like forming galaxies. From inside I had to step outside onto my kitchen balcony to sweep up shares from an old glass that had fallen and broken, its once useful form now lost forever into jagged pieces promising danger. As I began to shake the remains into a bag… a goat flew by, still chewing grass. Its body had found an eddy in the flow in the somewhat sheltered balcony air and hovered there a minute, looking at me. ‘Baaaah’, she said – it looked like a she – before twirling out again into the open. I presume she landed somewhere in Lazio maybe. Or further south. Anyway.
On the third day it softened, that wind. I went outside on the other terrace – and found such a mess, storage boxes scattered, old papers, leaves and unidentifiable strips of clothing and somehow beneath a silver metal chair, evenly distributed around a pair of shoes—small wood chips that must have been blown from one of the boxes into which had been thrown away a dried orchid plant, who knows how long before. Things set aside are forgotten.
It’s true, this last part, literally. Real. That is, fact, no metaphor, no exaggeration. All the mess everywhere else but the small dark chips had somehow managed to flow in that wind first around a corner – the terrace is an L-shape: to the north exposed to the hard wind, then lining the west side of this building – they’d found or been pushed by an eddy behind some boxes along that red wall that sheltered the chair from the wind and finally had laid themselves there beneath, perfectly distributed as if by human hand. Or something. Energy. So.
It reminded me, (not really – I’d merely been avoiding the doing of it, or waiting for something without really knowing precisely what,) that I’d turned 50 last December and, being an epochal number, like many thought I might summarize things, so to speak. What, why. Who, for others. But a week passed, a month, then the winter and on it was sliding into spring. Like other things set aside, it might have been forgotten. Except that it was still there, in the present, represented somewhere: a thing to do. Unlike the orchid’s abandoned plastic pot, (no longer relevant, no longer in the realm of ‘something with which I have to do’.) So. The even distribution of a bunch of chips of wood under a chair on a terrace reminded me of, or to. This.
Maybe you’ve heard the hallmark card-ish phrase, the two most important days of your life: that of your birth, and the day you discovered why you were born. (Mark Twain.) (So many cheep ironic or vulgar or both, jokes one could put, so few pixels.) Call me… my name. Find me a whale, or someone else after the same. (Ahab. Or Ishmael. Or Nick. Or Jay. Or…) But what’s in a name. I’m digressing. Before that goes too far let me take a look at… Ahab, so to speak, and Moby Dick.
Entropy, temporality, systems, expressions… stuff. The words that describe are tools, the sentences being composed are tools, the rhythms in the lines are tools still each expression is only one, n is always n, not merely ‘of’ n – only n.
In the last line I had misspelled rhythm, again. I always do except when I google the thing, not looking at the dropdown menu but the keys – and then always spell it correctly as I type in the word. The expression of my misspelling it outside of there, the google search line, remains in tact. Something in me presumes, infers, either its unimportance or correctness, of that misspelling. You could break it down to different kinds of memory and learning but… that, I think, isn’t enough to model why.
Everything is always in a dialogue. So what should I do then when I get to rhythm, the word, to spell it right? Open up a page in google and re-spell or try, consistently, to remember it correctly, write it down a hundred times one day then a hundred times again the next. (By hand though. It would likely work.) In that latter I would force it in. But I won’t do that. I’ll still misspell the thing in the future and likely still go to google again if I’m on-line and there, likely still, write it correctly before pressing the search button.
Moby Dick. The day Ahab was born. It starts a bit earlier than that, if you can even identify the start of anything. (You can’t really. You can only create it, the beginning, very much like you can only create a story, not identify it. Because… you can’t really identify you. Only create it, infer yourself. There are no qualia as such.) So the stuff that dialogued with itself, all those systems, growing from the first, carrying the need to be expressed through time, each of those expressions evolved and evolving entropically… responded to themselves. By the time Ahab was born so much had already been said, so many whales already searched for, so many walls punched through (it’s an allusion. I did have a very problematic familial condition…) so many misspellings and corrected spellings – representations change – and misspellings again. N… is always n. Topography. Repeat it again: topographies, multi-dimensionally representing complexity.
Let’s get back to a more readily identifiable subject or narrative before I loose anyone trying to follow along, including me. Context. Is likely what the cliché (Twain’s the two most important days of your life,) aims for. The first, that day of birth, is presumed not to have been decided on and in some regard, if you delineate enough, identify anyway there was and is still a you and a beginning to things, a beginning of consciousness, well, of the ‘your’ kind of consciousness. You’re born into a place. (It’s a bit hard to read those last lines but try, slowly, again. Create an understanding from the parts.) On the day you’re born you still haven’t really developed enough to separate yourself from that place yet, those people and things – but that will come rapidly, usually. The story, your story, you’ll begin in a few years though you’ll keep on making lots of biological hardware to represent it all, everything you can – it’ll be 10 years or so before the harder decisions come, when you’ll stop taking it all in, when what you’re supposed to do, predicting unawarely, the systems that make you prune those networks, biology again, into a more useful, leaner structure in some regards while bulking up some gray matter in the places you think will be more important to operate from. But the style, at least, of your symphony – the themes – will have been written down and remain.
So. In my case – it is me having turned 50 here – there were, leading up to that birth-day, a lot of whales and misspellings just like with everyone else. Like I said, it’s hard to delineate a beginning, when you began and begin. But let’s say for this note the beginning is in the womb. A bit different than usual, if there can be a usual. Relatively rich networks describing (no, not describing, not yet. There isn’t a describer, a human storyteller of any kind at all before 23-24 weeks and likely really not until you pop out and get all that juice, hormones – wake up, slap, wail for a whale (ouch) – so to speak. The awake you then still isn’t much like the awake you later. When do we begin…depends on who writes the, and when and where and how, represented or inferred aspects of the world that weren’t me or self, or weren’t going to lead to the expressed affect of me. Those last lines might be a little tough again but if it might please, read them twice. It gets clearer.
Timing is so very important… like the Japanese saying, how a story ends is as ‘big’ as where it begins. At a certain point or points –then, in this my story – my mother likely sent me a message, call it a stress response but you can suppose other possibilities of kind and kinds, all that complexity, all the differences between one person-stuff developing in one womb and another and even the different ‘yous’ plural, in the same. The message was something like: ‘the place-circumstance you’re being born isn’t going to be easy. At all. Like, it’s gonna’ probably suck. Talk amongst yourselves and start making the necessary adjustments. Deal with it.’ That led to other questions based on answers and other questions internally. A lot of them. (You know. Rythm. Rhythm. Rythem.) Do we want to be born? Do we want to survive? Which parts of us will we have a better chance to … continue? Do we want to reproduce the carrying parts, the body, the species? Hetero, homo? Who or what will you look for? How will you look for them?
Well, a lot of those last bits are articulated much later but not entirely. Because – all of those outcomes represented will have already happened before. Let me repeat that to myself: all of those outcomes represented will have already happened before. Not to me as in the forming me. But to those systems that were developing into a me. Partitures of a symphony, even if some themes, a personal style, will already be in place. That style is the last thing to go, (to borrow an Oliver Sacks phrase.) Topographies, again.
(Pause. Before going on – for the first time, it’s important, I always loose my way, rather don’t loose my way but wander and open and move from one… place to another, not one story to another, not one narrative – it’s the same narrative. But where you are can change. Places in the scene. So I’m writing this main notion: The expression of information in our universe evolves entropically but is represented temporally. It’s a problem. They look the same at first but between the two is an unending abyss. We, there is, always tango, a jiggle, between the two. End pause.)
Hmmm. I promised myself limits in numbers, 15 notes without going much beyond a couple thousand words in each, keep the total below 30k. Yet here I am already pushing 1900. Compactedness…I suppose I won’t pay attention to that idea, mostly. Few if any will read this anyway, at least for a good while. But I will have to shortcut a little to keep it from sliding away, at least this first one – I’ll title it ‘go’. Rhythm. Italian. The me inferred that will write is not exactly the same as the me that will search on google. Italian was the first language I was exposed to a bit too briefly as an infant, and even tough later I read English…something about the process of sound to symbol remained. So I misspell today in two languages. So again. Ahab. In the womb. Timing.
…results, to cut short, of the time and timing before and after Twain’s first day, the day you were born, or I in this case. Forgive the shortcut for those fewest, maybe that only one, still here but who aren’t in a relevant field. Conceptually it likely isn’t necessary but still: An hysteric HPA axis, rapid post-part development, test scores on the categorize-able side of the bell curve line, language comprehension on the .99, likely pre-disposed dopaminergic roads vta-up already about as narrow as… mule trails, big attention on those bulky networks reading, or listening, to place and people, eyes, postures, scents, movements. Detachment. And rich internal worlds. And attachment: big appetite, big laugh, big play, big love – toward in-group, a ‘larger’ me. No possession, no symbols, give away things from the beginning, toys are just toys, clothes are just clothes. But fields, the snow, water…things you can touch and swim with body and mind into…were and are love. And love… is family, and friend, one at a time: steven, chris, peter, leonard. Groups are (I’m using are as I describe that me then) always… groups, places I can’t belong to, just visit. Love-less, problematic, false in some way. ‘Little johnny hairy head’…. sing-songed, ‘lit-tle, john-ny, hair-y, head,’ Me as others sang the tune. But…thank heavens for football. Give me the ball those 2 or 3 times per game only and score I did, touchdown, every time basically, how strange from the odd and ugly little johnny hairy head, his carrying of kids jumping on top, trudging along across the line. Quietly. Unwavering. But rather incompetent in anything and everything else having to do with groups. It’s not only indulgence: those early moments count, a lot.
Autobiography is discouraging. Here it’s not even really the point but unavoidable to get to understanding. So … you sometimes fall into streaming voice, joyce-ish-like, anything to avoid an, the, ‘I’ expressed to self, your self. That discomfort is mostly a result of… development, in and out of utero, as mentioned above. Still that felt discomfort of expression is supposed to be displayed later because it came later. Not only in and from the set-up but in the articulation, the development after Twain’s first day, birth, but before the second, expression or meaning. So, to get to a point which would have been ahead, jumping over all the middle, the chronology, the plot, thematic development: narrative, our fabulated notion of time – back to the tonic, to the arbitrarily set beginning of even this note, its sort of god, its n that is always n, Twain’s phrase and Melville’s metaphorical elements. Circumstance. Family.
But there are practical limits, and here I’m already at what, 2400 words or so. So this first note will have to be dived in two. And the next will be named … 2?