Identity thinking: part 4, or, ‘Where the fuck do I go from here?’

not 'a cheesecake'
Ceci n’est pas ‘un cheesecake’. credit freestocks.org

If you land on this post and want to read the other parts first they are here: one, two, three. If you’re like me, you might want to read this one first, either to see whether it’s interesting, or, even better, to trick yourself into reading something long by starting at the end.

And now we’re at the beginning. Where the fuckyff-f-f-ff-kkkkk-k-k-k do I go from here? It’s not an idle question. I nurture the desire to employ an exploration of sex-and-gender as a means to learn about identity thinking and how to teach each other to stop doing it. That’s like getting a £40 refund travel voucher (after you get stuck at Liverpool Street for 45 minutes) and saying, ‘Cooooool, I’d think I’d like to see Asia, and the Americas’.

Okay then I’ll start with a recap. Identity thinking is the linguistic mistake – a mistake embedded in language – that we all make every day. Sometimes it makes it hard to find the wood for the trees, sometimes it condemns millions to death. It consists of forgetting what we are. We are not linguistic beings, we are beings that use language. We discovered it, crafted it, embedded it, came to depend on it, hopelessly. We are addicted to it, high on it, killed by it. Daily, we are in pieces because of it. It fragments us, all too easily. We evolve it, riddled with its profound untruths and errors, over millennia, so that every being born into its fabric is, quite literally, torn apart by it. Now I hate misuse of the word literally as much as the next rabbit, but as beings, we are not only bodies. We are minds too. While the mind and the body of a single human can and will never be separated, the mind has limited independence from the body (Adorno).

It is not this independence that makes us vulnerable to language however. We might readily imagine that the unfortunate, word-bound mind is in thrall to language, while the body frolics in the sea, rides a horse, eats some scheesecake (yes that’s a real fucking word), makes out with some guy/ess, plays the drums, does some cartwheels, has a hot bath, takes up Forro and then sits under a tree for a month. But No. The body is run by the mind, and the mind has absorbed all the rules it was told to make the body live by – and it metes out the punishment when the body disobeys. The body is a slave to language. It starts young, but we are not born enslaved. We can break free, but we can’t reverse time.

The mind has the power to develop its ‘limited independence’ by noticing that the body rebels for a reason. The body says No. The mind says Why not? The body always gives an honest answer, even when the mind has gone full-throttle-nuts. If the mind listens carefully enough to the body and what it ‘says’, it can (not only work with the body to reassure it that its basic needs can be met without it getting sent to prison, it can also) develop a dialogue whereby the partnership can begin to distance itself from the damned lies and accidental untruths of language.

Before that can happen substantially, the mind apparently needs to experience some really bending forms of suffering. And so I say again, every being born into our current language system is literally torn apart by it. Our identities fall apart if we properly examine the totalitarian role which language plays in them. If we muddle through with only average amounts of suffering, it may be because we have obeyed enough of the rules, including getting lucky with being in the upper-middle zone of many of the categories which are poised (by language) to enjoy success – in the form of having hung onto our textbook identities. If we get through this life feeling that we really know who we are, then we have been torn apart, and we have put ourselves back together differently, and we have integrated.

Okay, I’ve strayed off identity thinking a bit here. Remember it’s the process of forgetting that some thing is not the same as the words we use to describe it (or of not knowing in the first place). No thing is the same as a word. No thing is a word. It’s an invisible habit. The way to spot it is to stalk it in everyday conversations. Whenever you notice two people starting to disagree, heatedly, ask yourself ‘What is the central concept they are disagreeing over? See if you can detect one – maybe it’s how to cook pasta, maybe it’s whether somebody is racist, maybe it’s when the world started or how best to soothe a child to sleep. Maybe what each of them means when they say that word is subtly different. Maybe by being the third person, listening to both without joining in, you can discern what the difference is. If you catch that little vermin by the tail, call it out. Tell them nicely what each of them means. Probably not good to intervene until you’re sure you can. Possibly necessary to run away afterwards, until the heat drops.

That’s homework. Share below when you have started trying this experiment. If you practice, you will find yourself becoming able to inject this awareness into your own conversations sooner or later, and then my friend, you stand a chance of getting beyond identity thinking. It takes a long time and it may take longer than we have. I’m going for it, and I’d love not to go alone.

 

Lurcher

lurching from this day
to another coming down the line
reaching out to some rock, some rope,
some thing
imagining
that success is inevitable
without being able to define
or describe it
asking only
for the death of a paradigm
to come gently
lest feathers ruffle
a windless revolutinon
a deathless massacre
another chance to live life
somewhere more real
an insane desire
for liars to get caught
for cheats to get kicked out of the game
for some authority to slap those
who trade in evil

lurching from this night
to a morning like every other
reaching in to some swamp, some cave
some spleen
my dreams
where families hang by the neck
and they are all parts of me?
hoping only
for resistance to change its referent
from what I do to myself
to a movement I can be part of
a howling revelation
a righteous obliteration
another world of the same kind
somewhere identical
an insane belief
that warriors can beat drones
that truth will be taught in schools
that some quality light and air
will melt demons

Checking in – dropping out

Good things take time to prepare.
Good things take time to prepare. Credit Devon Rockola/pexels

Some days you write because forcing yourself to write is better than trying to imagine when you will get round to it if you wait until you feel better. Today is one of those days. Some days I can only write a spiral about why I write. Today will NOT be one of those. I set myself a target of writing two blog posts a week, that was a few months ago now. I didn’t manage to write one post a week; but today I will write two.

I think of blogging as where I can write out my thoughts bit by bit, piece by piece, knowing that eventually my philosophy will start materialising before my eyes; my tired, tired, tired eyes. Wake up eyes.

I attempt to write morning pages too, which serve to declutter my brain, especially on emotional and logistical topics, like why the fuck am I still in bed at 11am after having now had years to ‘recover’ from my fucked-up job/s…? And: do I have too many friends or too few? Am I afraid to say No to social invitations even though I desperately need to say No more if I’m ever going to write more than a couple of pages of coherency in one go … Or am I only afraid to say Yes because I need to spend all my time at home in isolation <not a topical reference>, stewing over the writing I’m supposed to be doing, instead of just writing whenever I am here, whenever I don’t have something else to do, something better, like connecting with real people.

But the morning pages don’t get written either; sometimes I even tell myself that laying in bed for an hour, after I am awake, contemplating my dreams, plans, fears, goals and mental well-being is practically the same thing as sitting up, getting a drink and a pen and writing the morning pages. When I do get that pen though, I’m still there hours later. The past few months have been both a trough in my aspirations for a ‘wholesome’ daily routine, and a time of deep transformation, no-going-back style. I welcome the latter. I’m an inner-change junkie, a stalwart non-giver-upper, but hell it’s not an easy path to choose. I can lounge like a pro, but it’s a performance of lounging, I never really give myself a break. I’m out to change the world, and there’s really nothing else to be done until I die. Oh, I’d also like to live a wonderful life, full of love and joy. It seems like to make both of those things happen simultaneously, you have to tip your soul out into a furnace and hover about catching back little bits of rising ash until you gather back enough to start over.

Switching metaphors now like a cowboy who doesn’t give a shit, I feel like a caterpillar gone rogue. I got into my chrysalis a long, long, long-long time ago, expecting that I would emerge as a butterfly, just as the universe-of-uplifting-quotes has assured me I would. Every now and then I awake to a hole, offering a glimpse of that cheeky blue sky saying “come on out whenever you like, I ain’t a-changin’”. Such is the weight of my relief, I nod off again only to find myself back in the fucking eggshell, which I then have to eat and digest just to begin being another fucking caterpillar.

They say take the road less travelled. They say find your path, your purpose, stick to it, it will lead you where you need to go. They say sometimes you will walk your path alone, into new territory no-one has ever explored before, and sometimes you will walk alongside others, in true companionship. They say turn left, turn right. They say watch out for the roadworks. They say only a fool does the same thing twice and expects something different to happen. Fuck them. They don’t know shit. Sometimes the only way to get what you really, really want, is to break every fucking rule in both the rule book and the book that tells you how to break the rules. Only then of course, if you fail, you really, really are on your own.

My path is like the Crystal Maze on acid. And Lo! This post now decides what it wants to be about, 761 words in. When I was a baby I fell into a vat of acid and now I’m not allowed to have any more (cf. Obelix; my very best lame joke about myself, probably ever). Well while I was in that vat I chose my path. I understood completely that the answer to every imaginable question is at our fingertips, that there are no mysteries, no paradoxes, no dilemmas, there are only illusions of these things. I did all this fantastic thinking and feeling and I learned just one important thing that I have never forgotten: this state of mind does not depend on acid. I took the lazy man’s route to enlightenment and then I stupidly fucking woke up and I was still only 19, and I went and tried to lead a normal life. What a fucking idiot.

No regrets. I gave birth to possibly the two best people walking on this planet today. They had a bit of a rough ride, but then, hey, that means they know how I feel right? If you have kids, make sure you stick with them every moment, don’t go blind to their beauty and their needs just because you are completely fucked up by trying to live a normal life in an insane world. Being in the world is truly very simple, if only we were allowed to know that.

Fuckers aren’t an illusion. They are real and there are a lot of them: the so-called leaders, the so-called sheep, and the fuckers in between who know all too well that their actions could change it all but would prefer to stay comfy, thanks. But the institutions and structures they – we – have created to make us all perform our respective roles, across our entire lifetimes, those aren’t real in the way we think they are. We all, always, already know this on a certain level, we’ve just been assiduously trained to assume that this knowledge is madness… Wrong… other way around.

Right now, as I sit typing on my ergonomically pathetic set-up, with my stiff neck, my cold feet and my face (astoundingly) still feeling tight from sobbing a couple of hours ago; with my moderate mess and my cut flowers and my un-posted mother’s day present (I’m in shit), I can see my life is in fact a resounding success, and I’ll tell you what I mean. I unplugged. I dropped out. And I am still alive. I didn’t die, I didn’t have to hit the streets, I didn’t go mad, well, except as required. I did find another person to be with and I found a lot of things to do with this time and this space and this body and I plan to keep refining these choices for the rest of my life. I still have to work/earn, but it’s totally different. And yet: I barely manage to live a ‘normal’ life whilst ‘working’ for a very small amount of time … this is my ultimate proof of how fucked the capitalist system truly is, not that we needed any more.

And now onwards and upwards. I don’t mind being in a chrysalis. It beats being an egg. I haven’t been eaten, nor squished between a gardener’s fingers. So I may as well knuckle down and get on with some real work, the kind nobody will ever pay you to do.

Identity thinking: part 3

Parts one and two were enough to put me off writing for a while. I know how to scare myself. Cue latest mad project idea and cue discovering I have no idea how to fit everything in. Fortunately, the latest mad idea requires work, ergo, I can do this, as a way of ‘putting off’ that work. Pure genius.

The problem with part three is that:
“Come on now, don’t be shy, let’s start with sex, and with gender.”
is like my imagined-life’s-work, disguised as inviting someone to take the first piece of chocolate brownie. Come on now, don’t make it be me. Please God No, don’t make it be me.

I don’t know where to start. Am I trying to demonstrate what identity thinking is or am I trying to start a discussion about sex and about gender? Ah yes, I remember now.

I decided, a very long time ago, that talking about sex and gender is key to understanding what identity thinking is, and what it does. This is for two reasons which I can so far make out. Not that kind of making out, that comes later.* The first reason is that everybody, but everybody, every body, everybody, is interested in sex. Shit, three reasons. The second reason is that sex-and-gender concerns us all, as individuals, groups, communities and societies, and it always will. This means simply that everybody has an innate interest in the topic. No exclusions. None. (Yes, even nonbinary folks and asexuals. If it needs saying, I think people who live these identities often have a great deal to offer the conversation, a great deal more than Mr & Ms Cis-what-is-cis?). This isn’t pigeon-holing, I hope; it’s inherent in the dynamic, I think. So, another way to make this point, is to say that any tools which depend on (or are improved by) an affective (emotional) engagement with the subject matter, are likely to be more effective. Choosing to explore the challenging concept of identity-thinking with sex/gender as the material increases the likelihood of engaging folks to hear it.

The second/third reason for choosing this tack is that I believe our sex/gender identity is the taproot of our identity as social, human beings. Again, nonbinary doesn’t contradict this, for me, yet. I am always as open-minded as I can be – and I certainly don’t want to create news walls for myself just by writing about strategy, but that’s my feeling. I believe that suicide amongst trans folks is so high because the universal social requirement to be clear about one’s sex/gender is so high. I came across the concept of ‘social death’ a long time ago. Apologies for forgetting the source but all I needed was to remember what struck me: social-death is a real thing.

Some may protest that suicide is high amongst trans folk because they are subject to such discrimination. To that I say: it’s the same thing, put another way. I believe that in those societies where trans folk are integrated via a recognised, special third category, suicide amongst those falling into it would be, er, can I say unnecessary? I know there are much better words. While we’re at it, I strongly suspect that a significant percentage of suicides for unknown reasons are by those whose gender identity torments them. That’s my prejudice. I think the duality of sex (male/female; masculine/feminine) as a concept in our culture is one of the single greatest challenges a child has to come to terms with. Perhaps the best lesson we can give them is an education about how different cultures depict, and live, femininity and masculinity. Not only do young people growing up need to know that every culture has a different blueprint for its boys and girls. They also need to know that these blueprints can be more or less humane according to how flexible they are. They need to know that some cultures are inhumane in this respect, so that they can decide for themselves where theirs lays on this spectrum of (in)humanity. This last part can’t be taught because the answer will still be shifting and changing for their entire lives, long after you and I are dead. They need to be taught that that question can never be put to bed, but as long as it remains open in their own minds, it affords them some degree of protection against gender-identity related suicide.

Did I make clear the reasons for using sex/gender as the foil for discussion of identity thinking? I will summarise, but first a word to anybody who feels that referring to sex/gender feels like lumping them together in a way which feels wrong: later.
So:
1. Everybody is interested in sex
2. Sex-and-gender concerns everybody, in all configurations, always has, always will
3. If sex/gender is the taproot of human identity, maybe it is the taproot of identity thinking.

Next time: “Where the fuck do I go from here?” and Other Flailings

*And only when we get the post-utopia right, obviously

Identity thinking: part 2

Part two: Conversation begins: My opening salvo
(NB. This was originally the second half of a longer post so apologies for any confusion caused) Part one here

Identity thinking is what happens when we mistake a thing in the real world for the word we use to describe it. Sometimes we talk about the errors of language like this: ‘We mistakenly believe that the word we use for a real thing is an accurate label for it, but actually, labels are always very limited in their accuracy’. A related but bigger problem, is to mistake the real thing for the word.

Let us start with man and woman. When we say ‘women’, we have to believe that other people will know what we mean when they hear us. When we realise that they don’t, we can get very distressed, because to each of us in our wildly different ways, the word means so much. When we see a man and we think ‘man’, we may have literally no idea how many mistakes we might be making. How can we view a thought as a mistake? By comparing the content of that thought with the mental blueprint for ‘man’ of the next person you say ‘man’ to. When we speak, and they hear us, if we don’t expect one another to mean the same thing, then communication stops before it’s even started.

We can train ourselves and others to learn from and stop making these mistakes. And it is not enough to stop making them only when we want to have conversations about sex and gender. We need to stop making these mistakes, all the time, with all words. This is not a simple journey and not a quick one. But every time we get slightly better at it, we can rejoice. Lots of small rejoicings seems like a pretty good way to live to me. Also, as we make these changes, we will get better at making them, and being heard. This means that future generations will not grow up with these faulty ways of thinking embedded in their own language.

Identity thinking is allowing ourselves to believe that the concept in our head, of the thing we name, is an accurate description of the thing itself. Non-identity thinking is having the humility to hold open the space in our head for that description to be wrong (or even to be ever-so-slightly out of date), on a permanent basis. Real things deserve more respect than our speech can provide. But we can learn to think differently, and if we do so en masse, then the words we use to describe real things can relate to those things in a different way, a way which does them more justice.

The good news is, once we practice holding open all our ideas of the way our words relate to all of the things, all of the time, humility is no longer required. Soon we see that our being right or wrong is besides the point. So let’s dissect some words and concepts together shall we? Come on now, don’t be shy, let’s start with sex, and with gender.

Death drives and death wishes

woman lying on a carpet
Dead, or just having a lie in? credit bruce mars
Trigger warning: non-cynical trivialisation of adolescent suicide attempt.

Many years ago studying Freud I was fascinated by the idea of the Death Drive. How dramatic. I also remember in the pub after one of those classes, seemingly unrelated to this discovery, speaking both honestly and casually to the teacher about the feeling of looking forward to my own death, and being surprised that he chose that moment to suddenly, subtly pretend he was intensely listening to the conversation on his other side. What did I say?

I felt a rapport not only with this teacher but all my classmates – we were about ten people, and we were obviously united by something to be studying together. But apparently it was not good pub conversation to be tired of life, to be very obviously not-suicidal and yet to admit it’s a tough ride and that since we do know one day it will be over, why not celebrate that that will be nice?

I don’t think it’s a cliché or an exaggeration to say that when a person confronts their own death, an untimely one, or just in some way tangibly coming soon, or indeed in a sudden near-fatal incident which they ultimately survive, that they have a ‘new lease of life’. I think there are a great many people wandering around in our world not wanting to be here. I think sometimes these unlucky people get over this collective nausea by being confronted with the real madness of this partially-conscious desire to stop existing, and start actually, deeply, wanting to live.

A good friend of mine recently died aged 45, from diseases related to smoking cigarettes. But smoking cigarettes is a symptom of not wanting to be here, not a cause. A while ago I spent some time digging into the esoteric effects of tobacco – not to make myself feel better about smoking, as I had already given up by this point, but to fulfil my curiosity. If alcohol is ‘bad for you’, but a glass of red wine with a meal is good, and if beer was originally a way of purifiying water, and if every other fermented thing is good for us … when are we indulging in little gambles with life, and when are we just consuming something good, full stop? Okay, when are we consuming something potentially good that has had a bad press, or been perverted? Excessive alcohol taxes the liver and fucks with your personality. Excessive anything causes chaos. Smoking tobacco is obviously more harmful as a white ‘cancer stick’ – a total perversion of the collective round of pipe smoking that used to be the way humans consumed Nicotiana. Let’s not forget when capitalism is the master of our choices.

So what I found is super simple: that tobacco connects us to spirit. I kid you not, do your own research if you think that’s hooey, because you ‘don’t believe in spirit’, or any other bunkum objection your washed brain just threw up. All those people standing outside their office blocks at regular intervals puffing on lethal drugs are actually enacting tiny escapes – not from the real world, but into it. All those people who have to nip outside at routine family gatherings when it’s getting too intense (and who can’t give up smoking because it would literally be bad for their mental health if they were unable to use this unquestioned method of relief): are they escaping from the falsehood of conversations between people who don’t really want to be here either? Are they counteracting spirit-crushing experiences?

The tobacco-spirit connection didn’t take me far because I’m a ‘non-smoker’, in the sense that I never got myself a proper nicotine habit, only the workaround that a joint is generally nicer if it isn’t neat. For me that was always combined with a deep conviction that tobacco was bad, and so acutely addictive that if I was to smoke just one roll-up I’d succumb – a theory I have never tested. I do practice connecting to spirit though, and in spite of many years of aspiring to this, and taking it more and more seriously in my everyday life, and having increasingly met people who are not eye-wateringly sceptical, I still feel fear and embarrassment at saying so.

By some miracle, my life appears outwardly normal in the social context I live in; miraculous in the sense that I left my job and didn’t replace it with another one. I am self-employed but basically winging it, and this all so I might stand a chance of discovering some mental health beneath the facade of myself. Go to a GP for advice? Don’t be a ridiculous. The only thing poor about my mental heatlh is the way it’s still partially aligned with the prevailing psychology of this culture. I had two years of psychotherapy with ‘the best psychotherapist’ in my county. She told me I was dead from the waist down. Fifty percent is better than nothing I should have said. Instead, naturally, I was offended, but only for the few moments it took me to acknowledge her truthfulness.

What kills me is not these diagnoses – this one and the myriad large and small ones I have stumbled on by myself ever since – but the fact that they are so stretched out in time from their cures. The night I woke to a stunningly weird tingling sensation of my legs ‘waking up’, as if from the pins and needles of a lifetime, was so many months after starting to work with her, and no doubt many months after her proclamation. But there is hope – that night, which finally proved to me beyond doubt that the body really is the physical and spiritual vessel for every mental, emotional and pyschological micro-event of our psyches, is now a long time ago. I can feel sad at how long It takes to heal things. I can also be so fucking grateful for a) being lucky enough to find this great woman to work with me and b) actually going and doing it then. Taking the plunge at a time when what was holding me back was not the fear that it wouldn’t work, that it wouldn’t make me better, but the hidden fear that it would take so long. Oh, that and the terror of actually having to confront my own shit. But guess what? Nobody don’t have shit.

Yesterday morning I woke to the feeling that I was less averse to life than usual. This is a major breakthrough. My reticence to get up early was neatly diagnosed years ago by a work friend as ‘not wanting to face the day’. Yes! I said. That’s it. I wasn’t embarrassed to admit to that. What that amounts to is not wanting to be here. Why am I here? Because I love people and I’d feel too guilty if I just left? No not really. Because I want to be here. The truth lies hidden between the sentences that seem to contradict one another. We aren’t linear, we are composed of many overlapping waves and cycles. Suicide is just the damn bad combination of effective means, with a tsunami of everything we hate coming into consciousness at once.

The reason I got so excited yesterday at this moment of reduced depression is that it enabled me to recognise consciously, for the first time in months or maybe years, that I am (still) wrangling with my death drive. When I was thirteen I tried to off myself with paracetamol and cherryade. Just don’t. When I was about 35 (and receiving help) I had a thunderous realisation that I had never changed my mind. I had decided I didn’t want to live; I thought I knew how to go; I didn’t; I lived; I realised (had it pointed out to me) how foolish I had been … but I didn’t discover a sense of wanting to live. It never came. I didn’t notice. What’s to notice? It was hardly a near-death experience.

Acknowledging to myself back then that I had yet to develop a specifically pro-life attitude towards my own presence here felt like a huge step forward, and it was. But yesterday was my reminder that between then and now all I have been doing is chipping away at that task. It’s just like waking up my legs, only much, much longer. You can’t just will it, you have to take up all the good habits and make all the changes and keep going and going… Framed positively: everything I have done to shift my life has contributed towards my improved state of mental health. At the same time, I am still someone who, daily, does not want to not be asleep. Consciously I don’t want to die right now. I have loads of hopes and dreams. But they are dampened by a lack of belief in their realisation. I don’t take all the steps I need to take to make them come true, because I’d rather go back to bed, where being alive is less obvious.

I think the system our society has created has stripped us of many of the activities that give us life. No matter what the era, humans toil and get traumatised, and maybe we just lived because we didn’t have the liberty of considering our choices. But I don’t think so. I think we have death wishes, gifted to us in an overblown form by the simple failure to provide us with a culture which sufficiently nourishes our will to live. Or rather, this culture stands in between us, and the natural forces that would otherwise course through us, and be homologous with our own will to life. We are cut off. ‘Going back to nature’ is the answer. But it takes a really long time to change us. Not because it’s too wafty and ethereal, but because we are so entrenched.

*I’m ignoring any cultural associations with the term ‘pro-life’ since they have no reason to ring-fence its meaning.

Identity thinking: Series Intro

photo of building on top of rocks
Time for some deep thinking. Credit Rok Romih

And now at last a blog on what I actually want to write. At least, a blog about what I want to write about, which is a step closer to writing what I want to write, than simply writing about writing (or not). With me so far? Don’t worry.

So I get desperate, not so much to write, but to know what I most want to write about. It’s no mystery, it just regularly escapes me. Sex, gender, language, philosophy. It dims and distances itself from me, and returns after unpronouncable periods of time with a lead in its mouth, wagging its tail furiously, asking: NOW is it time for my walk? To pin it down, it is Adorno’s theory, specifically: identity thinking, nonidentity thinking and second nature. Hopefully negative dialectics will get a juicy look-in later on, but let’s not bite off more that we can chew.

Why can’t I hold that thought, and simply come here and write a little bit more each week? Well for one thing, what I want to say is fucking huge, and for many years it has been a necessary self-protection to let go of the belief that I could combine the mental energy required to sustain the theme in my head with the rest of my actual life. I tried, lord knows, as do various other unfortunate bystanders, how hard I tried. Then I stopped trying.

So it comes back to you again and again, like that eager dog, like a bad smell from a blocked drain that you get so used to that you don’t notice it for a while. But it gets conflated with ‘writing’, then with ‘I’m going to write a book’, then with ‘I need to earn a living’ … and at this point it becomes the mad pipe-dream all over again. So fuck all that. I will write books, but they don’t have to be about this, or earn me a living and it might even be better that they don’t.

One of the ways I undercut myself in trying to enter academia was by refusing to accept the compromise of being paid to think. I never reached a place where this was even close to happening. But the greatest aspiration I could perceive in that context was being paid to think, and yet isn’t that the most obvious killer of independence of thought? I didn’t know what else to aspire to, so I allowed the raft of external obstacles to my progress to beat me. It didn’t seem worth it somehow.

I do romanticise the notion of the public choosing what books to buy and thereby guiding what I write, as somehow more of a worthy master, which isn’t terribly rational. They vote for morons. They eat chemically contaminated, abused dead animals every day and smoke cigarettes which can easily kill them, drink cans o’ piss and buy expensive clothes with meaningless words on them. Why do people want to walk around with meaningless words written on themselves? Do they care so little for how to use their time in this world? There are so many funny and wise things that can be written on clothes. Now I’m thinking about those clothes. Okay it’s a fine line I guess.

Nevertheless I continue to imagine allowing myself to be guided by input from others. And I understand now that books (unless they are strictly personal) are pure product: if I write a book that won’t sell, I won’t expect it to sell. But here … here I am free. I don’t need to sell this. I don’t need it to be read either, not exactly, at least, not imminently and not by masses. Here I discover what I want to think and I decide what I can think. The internet is no fertile arable field unsullied by morons’ footsteps, but it is at least a playing field, with small-ish entry fees.

The other day I came across a voice recording from a one-off talk I gave about identity thinking. I sounded like I knew what I was talking about, and I sounded like I really, really cared whether other people get it. And I remember that I did care. The people in the room really mattered to me; which probably makes me some kind of intuitive-empath-aka-sponge-with-thin-boundaries. I’ve tried telling myself to toughen up, but I want to absorb everyone. This isn’t about writing as such. It’s about changing thinking. That is my mission. So let this be the introduction to a series of writings that remain focussed on this goal. Let this be a few more easily digestible paragraphs: and you, dear reader, let you be the judge of whether they make sense, and may you comment if they do not, and begin a conversation…

Part 2 here