"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Friday, October 9, 2009

9/22-10/9/09: Santa Fe- "Unpacking"

After a quiet day at home on Tuesday, the house-sitting gig started Wednesday amid wild anticipation of spending the entire week on the computer or buried in my notebooks writing for hours on end. I knew that I had much to process and, as always upon returning home, felt highly motivated to get it done immediately in supposed marathon sessions. But, as usual, it didn't happen that way. Rather than a narrative, the writing promptly displayed a tendency to create more questions; deeper layers than I originally assumed were there. That's always a good sign for me personally, but not always pleasant. Especially when many of the hardest new questions revolve around...me.

As I started to get near the heart of Andre's story, I noticed an intense feeling of personal wariness, especially about that Sunday, 9/13. The apprehension's intensity was quite rare, but I understood that his was no ordinary story and I was forced by its content to take a microscopic look at both my own insights and, more painfully, who I have become over the last year and where I was going. I had expected the simple moral question about how much detail to share, but the demand for self-analysis was something that was surprisingly bitch-slapping me at the same time! If I was going to offer acute criticism of others, I was going to be providing it to myself. Like it or not. A handy, oft-inconvenient & unpredictable tool I've acquired somewhere.

As I started to verbally spew into the computer, making connections to both past events and those in Port Townsend, an interesting contrast developed; something that would ultimately lay the very foundation for the immediate future. Despite the persistent questions, the words flowed; again a good sign. Nothing was forced or contrived and, after questioning, challenging, and examining my insights, it was obvious that they were solid-if not pleasant. They themselves then began spawning other multilayer ideas. Yet, the potentially toxic, uncomfortable nature of these observations set off warning signals throughout my psyche. Was this just my ego going nuts?

I began seeking out other opinions and through conversations with Laina, Chris and The Sage, my impressive, redneck vocabulary again went on display as I described these intense, nagging emotions as "feeling like a dick," even though I felt like I was dead-on, even after psychologically beating the hell out of myself and beginning the process of asking "who the hell I thought I was" in writing these things. It was then that I came to realize that I'd had the sense that "I" wasn't writing these things. It was Stream of Consciousness-despite of myself! More than once, I (again) thought back to Randleman, and Pastor Snake...which REALLY set off ego-alarms! Seeing this was encouraging of course, but created more turmoil than it relieved.

The Sage suggested something that I had considered a few times: keeping two journals. One: the run-of-the-mill, fluffy "travel journal" variety. Something easier to comprehend, accept, and escape within (my description). The Second: one presumably written with my actual thoughts... therefore not causing any immediate discomfort to the protagonists. I seriously considered it, but not for long, as I slowly came to realize that the self-doubt wasn't internally based. It was the "critic's" voice; the self- censor voicing the imagined criticism of others. Furthermore, as Laina astutely and repeatedly pointed out, "editing for comfort" would be selling out; doing the very thing that I swore not to do. Reading these passages is voluntary after all, and the notion of producing shallow "bathroom fodder," as Chris puts it, is repugnant. No, this is by its nature occasionally unpleasant and very difficult. It's the "hard" that makes it worthwhile, even though it's sometimes unflattering, even to myself.

I knew coming in that it would periodically be difficult, but I HAVE made myself accountable by having the courage to present it for consumption. It seems cowardly (and suspicious) to consider yourself a man-of-purpose then hide in your journal; the foundation of critical thought is to test ideas by allowing them to stand up to scrutiny! To cower, or worse: put on an "act", would be something I wouldn't be able to stomach, and that I even considered it made me question my own motives and presented the entrance to yet another powerful investigation: the difference between being "clever" and being right, which can lead to the egoistic practice of selfishly protecting a possible flawed point-of-view through linguistic voodoo & rationalization. Later in October, this directly led to my humble, uncomfortable Don Quixote revelation (stay tuned...if you dare!). Good, organic stuff!

With the end of the house-sitting gig came the end of September. As October began and I returned home, my "internal motives" question persisted, but I decided to push forward and allow people to react however they chose. Thinking back over the summer, I reflected on how I had likely severed the pathetic "relationship" with my own father and two of my sisters through simple uncomforatable honesty. Considering that The Hens had chosen to "de-friend" me on Facebook, choosing their traditional method of conflict resolution, avoidance, it suddenly seemed absurd to offer this blatantly self-interest-driven courtesy to Andre; something I had denied much more significant people!

There was much more to come as I contemplated my time with Andre in Portland. As I finally wrote up The Vanity Plate, Now What?, and Navigating the Rubicon, more agitation and an accompanying flood of ideas that was the byproduct. Surprisingly, much if centered around, of all things, The Bible...