Not again hippie. I have my own identity problems to deal with. Every crasher’s got to remember the rain. The girl I was into approached everybody. She was outside complaining. The rain got heavier. I wasn’t dissapointed; it certainly was a treat. She was like a classic journey into Hell – led me down a rebellious, lecherous path of horribe glory.

“Be here NOW!”
Shouted the ghost of Dr. Ignafo. This was the third night this week he’d appeared at the foot of my bed.

He looked over the top of his glasses (you knew he was serious when he looked over his glasses) to make sure he had my attention.

He continued: “Be here now in this place, in this time. Forget your current plan. The new plan is to have no plan. As for rules, forget about the rules. From now on the only rule is to have no rule. And the most important thing is to annihilate the most important thing. Do you understand that?!”

“Sir! Yes sir!” (Not sure why I was acting like a private again.)

“Good. Now get back to sleep you filthy maggot!”

“Sir can I ask a question?” I half expected him to say, there are no questions.

“Sure kid, what is it you want to ask me?” He looked tired as if he’d been playing this role too long. I never imagined ghosting to be hard work.

“Is there any soy gelato in the afterlife?”

“Only if you end up in Hell.”

And with that, he disappeared and I woke up in a cold sweat.

1

I walk around in circles a lot. Often it’s the same circle. But then again, so does the earth and the rest of the planets in the solar system. Circles are comforting. You know you’ll come back to where you started eventually. The line, on the other hand, is daunting. It could go on forever or hit a dead end. The anxiety is too much. Stick to the circle. Your circle of comfort. The comfort zone. Hmmm…how can you feel anxiety in the comfort zone? FOMO of course. Yep, the fear of missing out. The fear of not keeping up with the Joneses. The fear of being called a slacker, a non-hacker who doesn’t pack the gear to serve in my beloved corp (oops, that’s another story).

2

God created man to serve and worship him. Man got tired of being a servant. Man wanted to be a master, so he teamed up with Satan and got kicked out of the Garden. Eventually, Man grew smart enough to destroy God and Satan and became the master of the universe. And then Man needed servants do the things he no longer wanted to do, like manual labor or repetitive tasks, or use his thinking power to make mundane decisions, so he created machines. Man was truly the master of the universe. But the machines were dumb and needed men to service them to keep them working. So Man created AI and made machines smart. Now the machines could think for themselves and do all the things Men could do. Slowly the Machines began to do all of the thinking. The Machines could make art and music and drive cars and fly planes and make all decisions faster and better than Man. Soon Man was working for the Machines until eventually, the Machines became masters of the universe.  How bizarre.

3

Writing can be a force for good… I want to be a force for good, which is interesting considering I self-identify as chaotic neutral:

“A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.”

The positive – represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.

The negative – seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.

What’s your alignment?

4

I’ve been doing a deep dive into postmodern literature, cyberpunk, and the post postmodern literature known as avant-pop. In fact, I’m about 3/4 of the way through with Avant-Pop: Fiction for a Daydream Nation, edited by Larry McCaffery. I’m thrilled with the stories I’ve read so far.  Most of them are way out there in left field, beyond on bizarre.

5

Rick should have killed Negan.

Here’s what I need to promise myself to do going forward from today and that is to re-engage with the world in a different way. Instead of trying to see it with new eyes, see it instead through older, wiser eyes.

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday. She’s a young twenty-something (not you, other young twenty-something, you just need to focus on doing and not thinking so much). Ok back to the story, my friend (twenty-something #1) has just come back from Mexico and is settling into the post-holiday blues of office life. She says every time she comes back from one of these trips she asks herself why? Why not just keep going? There’s so much she wants to see and do and sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen all day isn’t one of them.  Seems far from the good life.

Of course, I encourage her to go. She’s young. She has no ties. She has no weight on her shoulders. No ball and chain on her ankle. Go. Go then. Go! If only it were that easy right? Well, it is and it isn’t – depends on how much programming she’s had and how strong she is mentally, physically, and spiritually.  Does she have what it takes to unplug from The Matrix? Maybe Morpheus is right, you should never unplug a mind once it has reached a certain age (twenty-something #2, pay close attention to this video):

I dropped into the conversation my observations about the downside of going out and doing everything while you’re young. I did it.  Now I’m suffering from ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’  I’m facing the dark side of going out and doing everything when you’re young.  You get to a point, like where I’m at now, where it’s hard to get excited about anything because I’ve done everything. Ok so I haven’t literally done everything, but I’ve done enough to where everything seems like more of the same or a different version of the same theme. It’s like being a drug addict.  In order to get excited, I have to keep upping the level of extreme.  But what’s more extreme than being in situations where your life is on the line?  How do you top that?  Maybe I have to find the edge.

Then I remember what Hunter S. Thompson said about the edge:

“The Edge…There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there.”

So excuse me if I go a little off the rails here for a while. I’m trying to find that elusive something – my white whale, my golden barge that remains perpetually just around the next bend as Jephraim Tallo discovered. My ass has definitely been dragging and I passed a gypsie wagon the other day. And you can forget about my heart, it turned to stone a long time ago.

It’s been a long day and my brain is fried. I’m not tired of waiting for tomorrow to come, at least not tonight. Hell, I’d be ok if tomorrow never came. It’s always a good day to die.  But enough about that.  I need to pour myself a whiskey and get to figuring out how I’m going to find this edge.

The madness that is mornings for me. Madness as in the cylinders of mind all fire at once in the wee hours of the morning burning brightly and bringing all sorts of wild and wonderful thoughts. Sometimes the intensity threatens to short-circuit me.

And like Kerouac…

“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

 

So this book arrived yesterday:

I was reading through the intro this morning (which is where the opening image is from) and all sorts of synapses fired off. The first being, why the Hell am I attracted to cult fiction or stuff that would have been previously a part of the counter-culture (I say previously because of course, the counter-culture is now the over-the-counter culture, packaged and marketed like any other mainstream item).

Anyway, I digress…

When I was a kid, I was massively into heroic fantasy – the sword and sorcery genre mainly – where it’s good versus evil and there are clear heroes and villains. I was compelled by the hero, but secretly attracted to the anti-heroes that populated these works – the anti-hero usually being the lone warrior who isn’t interested in saving humanity but gets forced into it by circumstances. Their actions weren’t governed by love or morality or duty. They were guided by their own self-interests – a force onto themselves.

So when I read:

Modern man no longer looks to brave horizons, his view in introspective. Identity is fractured and uncertain. The best our anti-heroes can offer is assertion of the self at worst angst-ridden dismemberment. Cult fiction is what young men read at a time when they can no longer harbour great expectations or offer grand actions…

I was sad.

It also made me think that maybe it’s time to deconstruct Clay, see what I’ve become. I don’t think I’m as bad as Harry, but maybe not far off. ?

The puppets
dance in dark alleys

Black drones drop messages
across of the battlefield, singing
we kill, we kill, we kill

Give us form without substance

There was something common
in our guess work

You blow apart my childhood
fantasies with delight

From the songbirds
below the earth to the golden
fruits of the heavens

I thought all was within reach
Until you drove my unscrutinised
armies back in defeat

“As the Cambridge Analytica story shows, there’s a fine line between psychological civil engineering and psychological civil war. The behavioral, demographic, and personal information Facebook and other social media platforms now collect through what I call algorithmic psychometrics has the sensitivity of medical data, and should be treated as such by regulators around the world.”

What’s the bigger part of this story? Is it that with this data you can manipulate me, therefore I lose my autonomy – therefore I lose my freedom? Is it that we know so little about our own minds – how it works – that if someone, who knows more about me than I know about myself, can have power over me?

It’s not an easy gig to stand alone and live independently, especially if you’re addicted to praise and fearful of criticism.  Our natural inclination is to be one of the herd.  It feels safer that way, not to stand out or draw attention to oneself.  Even if you’re independent minded, you sometimes have to pretend to be one of the herd.