May 19th, 2004


Signal to Noise

[The SF editor L. Sprague DeCamp (lampooned by St. Wally Wood as L. Sprague DeFreeb, but that's another matter) once visited an OTO meeting, and emerged with the conclusion that OTO's message was: The extraverts have had enough time running the world; time to give introverts a chance. Maybe his most perceptive moment, sez I.  ;) ]

93, all!

Thanks in part to a TV promo about "Genius vs. Madness," I got to thinking about how often the best and brightest folks on earth end up dealing with depression, apparently disproportionate response to "normal" pressures, and the like...and what a help it is to learn that, (a) this is perfectly normal for such folks, and (b) there are techniques (beyond just that reassurance) that can help. The brief version, then, of AJ's Care and Feeding of Genius rap.  ;)

(1) The "Problem." Sensitive, feeling people experience things more deeply than most folks do; they're not imagining this or indulging themselves, they just do. Beyond that, some folks engage in activities, access aspects of the mind, that most never do -- e.g., artists (spending a lot of time negotiating with powerful unconscious energies) and, say, math or computer folks (spending a lot of time with notoriously disruptive "Air" energies, to use "magical" shorthand). Now, in a sane world, everyone would understand this, and cut extra slack for such folks (or for themselves, if they are such folks). This is, however, an insane world. So there's Rule One: You're probably not nuts: you're probably just an introvert.

From Neal Stephenson's stripped-down homepage, a terrific link to an Atlantic Monthly article on Introverts:

(2) Some Assistance. I don't need to tell magical types about the benefits of banishing rituals, so take that as a given; and I've already mentioned that it's a relief to know you're not alone: that such high-current spazziness is normal, for the "equipment" you're working with (feelings and smarts, f'rinstance). Beyond that, I'm gonna annoy everyone by recommending Raja Yoga again...not the physical-bendy stuff, the turning-off-the-mind stuff. For details, check out AC's aforementioned "The Soul of the Desert," and his Eight Lectures on Yoga. For Artists and Deep Thinkers (and Feelers) the notion that "the mind is the great enemy" is not only true, but absolutely crucial: it is high-power, unbridled thinking that's causing the problem, and the immediate need is to set time aside to STOP THINKING.

Once you've done that, all sorts of other things may become clear: time to change jobs, or relationships, or drop some tasks and emphasize others -- allathat stuff. But you'll have trouble seeing such things clearly until you discipline yourself (and discipline it is, the mind has a bazillion excuses not to cooperate) to spend a little time NOT THINKING. Over time, you may get good at it, and improve your signal-to-noise ratio: use conscious thought where it's helpful, and shut it the hell up otherwise.

(It also helps to SLOW DOWN patient with yourself, calm down, take it a step at a time. And sometimes, all you've got is, "I don't have to like this [given task], I just have to do it [and stop whining]"; or even (the Cure lyric I repeated to myself ten thousand times while writing Layton Drive), "Nothing left but faith.")

Huuuuge topic, and too little space; hope some of this helped. I spend a lot of my initiatory time on such issues, and thought it might be nice to share some pointers outside the immediate circle.  :D

Persevere, folks -- it gets easier over time. And dammitall, you're worth it.   :*

93 93/93 -- AJ


Behind the Magick 8-Ball

Histories of ages past, / Unenlightened shadows cast,
Down through all eternity / The crying of humanity:
'Tis then when the Hurdy-Gurdy Man / Comes singing songs of love...
-- St. Donovan Leitch

Sol in Taurus, Luna in Gemini, Dies Mercurii
31 Taurus C / 19 May 2004 EV

Cari Fratres et Sorores:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

As I wander the bright and shifting pixels of cyberspace, I recognize a growing discontent, a growing restiveness; and "recognize" is the word, for just shy of my first half-century, I am old enough to have seen it before. While it may not seem that way to many -- particularly those subject to the imminent military draft* -- there are some fine times at hand. Consciousness, which is (as ever) childish and petulant, and whose tastes in entertainment run to those of St. Beavis (and his HGA, the God Cornholio), has got quite a show planned. Prepare for some really dreadful years...which you who survive more or less intact will one day recognize as the best of your lives.

The discontent I'm talking about is most obvious in political terms, of course. After years of self-righteous, self-congratulatory screeds against "liberals," "conservatives" finally got their guy into the White House (one way or another)...and damned if he didn't set about ruining every single thing he put his hand to (as, coincidentally enough, he always had before, throughout his life, so stop being so surprised, frgodssakes). On the other hand, after nearly four years of increasingly triumphal bleating by "liberals" that "conservatives" were destroying the American Empire, said "liberals" find that practically nobody actually disagrees with them any more, at least on that score -- and worst of all, that their presumptive presidential nominee, all but guaranteed a loss in normal circumstances (which is how he got to be the presumptive nominee, of course), stands an even chance of actually having to preside over the virtual impossibility of cleaning up this godawful mess.

But politics is the least of it. Hell, even culture wars is the least of it: most people don't really (in normal times) give a great deal of thought or effort to either politics or culture wars. No, there's nothing for it: Consciousness is bored, and when it's bored, it starts breaking things.

Which is, after all -- in retrospect! -- when the best years of one's life come along.

Bless the pointed little heads of the "conservatives" for their truly astonishing commitment to the nihilistic destruction of everything they claim to believe in; yea, and the fuzzy little heads of "liberals" for their whining acquiescence. Me, I'm gonna go get my hurdy gurdy. We is Behind Da Magick 8-Ball, my chilluns, and experience tells me this is where the game gets interesting.  :)

Love is the law, love under will.

Yours in Love and Freedom, AJ

*Rumor says 18-25 (in some versions 35), though one assumes as always the youngest are most at risk; no college deferments this time (finish the current term then in you go; seniors get to finish senior year first); and for the first time, females might well be included as well as males. Don't let anybody kid you about this, the draft is coming, all right -- alas, no matter who's elected president. OTOH, were I an 18-35 year old human living in the US, I'd really be pondering which candidate seemed likeliest to keep unnecessary wars to a minimum...and registering (while there's still time), and voting, too, come to that.