04 June 2005

The Secret To Authentic Crankiness

Old and cranky am I,
so punch you in the crotch I will!
Posted by Hello


I suddenly realized this morning why old people are so damn cranky. Yeah, there's that thing about how everything hurts all the time, but that's not quite it. It's about reaching one's threshold for tolerance of stuff that probably should never have been tolerated in the first place. Remember how Dad, after 33 years of being an Episcopalian minister, ostensibly sat bolt upright in bed one morning, slapped himself on the forehead, and went - "Wait a minute! Jesus was never Christian!" And then of course he ran off to Israel and the rest is history.

I think there is a time in adolescence when a person develops a healthy cynicism of all the beliefs that they've been handed, and I think the same sort of thing happens in middle age. When you're eighteen or so it's like somebody says "How about mowing the lawn?" and you suddenly realize that there's nothing in mowing the lawn for you, and that there never was, and what you say next is something like "How about mowing my crotch?" That's perhaps not the best way to handle things, but with the limited experience of adolescence, it may seem like the most self-affirming and expedient.

Fig. 1: Pre-adolescent crankitude

Although the middle-age corollary of this may not have as much sauce, it is nonetheless as potent a realization. You wake up one day, take a look around, and go "HMO's? 401k's? Mortgages? All these people are fuckin' crazy! I'm going hiking!" And thus, armed with that judgment of society and the clingers thereto, you set about gathering up vast basketloads of ass to kick. The minute that someone comes by and tries to convince you that some value based in that society should be of the utmost importance to you, you reach into your basket, pick out a pre-kicked ass, and hurl it at them. That, sir, is crankiness in a nutshell. It is the unshakeable commitment to not buyin' it coupled with a healthy chorus of fuh'kawf.

And so, dear brother, I am now trying to extract myself from the embrace of that tarbaby a little more every day - the tarbaby that convinced me once upon a time that what I really needed was a nice car, a lot of income, and prodigious amounts of kowtow to the mores and wherefores of the society that supplied those two things (viz., be able to speak at length on the history and etymology of Seinfeld). Hereforward, anything that has to do with said tarbaby or its ilk and progeny gets a pre-kicked ass and a hearty fuh'koff!. And that is what I call authentic crankiness.

World without end. Amen.

Watts Pt. 2: He's Zen-tastic, Yet Alco-rrific!

Check it out! It's Tenzin Mo-Dope! Posted by Hello

Dear Fart-Stain:

It is becoming ever-so-obvious that not only can you not reply to an actual posted letter, you can't even get your grubby dick-skinners to peck at the keyboard long enough to reply to a freakin' blog! And this whole "InterWeb" thing was supposed to make communication easy. Besides causing rampant infomania, compulsive shopping and increased access to porn, what good has it done? It can't get you to reply to a letter, so what's it worth? I swear to horse-tits, they'll be turning lead to platinum before I ever see a letter from you. Knowledge of that sad fact, however, will not stop me from ranting here and now.

So to get back to Alan Watts,
Wikipedia (the open-source online encyclopedia that any autodidactic wankster like myself can edit) tells me that he was something of a sot and put away quantiferous amounts of booze that no doubt foreshortened his life. He died at age 58. You probably already knew all this, but it was a surprise to me. Oh yeah, there was that and all that acid he ate. And all that stuff he smoked. So. Yeah. Short life.

Which brings me to the point of why it should be so surprising that someone who wrote and spoke with such lucidity should also be a world-class boozehound-slash-fried-hat. Somehow I was under the delusion that someone who was so educated and practiced in Zen - viz., mental purity - would be trying to maintain physical purity as well. Maybe that's a bad assumption on my part. Perhaps the point is that one has nothing to do with the other. Or that some people are good at handling substances, and some are not (like me). Or that alcohol and narcotics are what they are, and work on the nervous system in a definable way, and all of that has nothing to do with the mythology and superstitions that have grown up around them. I've heard that certain yogis can munch down hundreds of mics of acid and remain completely lucid (Ram Dass has a story about that one), yet these same yogis do not choose chemically-augmented consciousness as their path to realization. Maybe they're hip to the fact that the consciousness does not lie within the substance.

So perhaps the point is that spiritual and mental acuity are over here and substance use is over there and although they share a sliver of a Venn diagram, neither one is utterly related to the other.

And with that in mind, I'm going to polish off my usual tankard of morning coffee. And boot some smack. And smoke the dog.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

03 June 2005

Watts: Set Your Brain On "Low"; Baste Frequently

Dig that 100-Watts smile! Posted by Hello


Either it's a really good idea to listen to recordings of
Alan Watts while you're depressed or it's not. Here's the problem. I pointed out in another letter some time ago that one of the things that supports the refractory period of an emotion is a sort of "channel" of thought that seems to arise that will only support thoughts congruent with that emotion. Depression, f'rinstance, like the one that's been chewing at me for the past three or so days, will only entertain thoughts that support its reason for being. So I don't even have to tell you what my mental story has been the past few days. All I have to do is say that I've been depressed and you can pretty much guess the internal dialogue.

So along comes Watts, courtesy of
Audible.com, and exclaims that thinking is the thing that separates us from reality. And as I said in a previous letter, thinking is almost never concerned with what's going on in the present. It's mired in the mud of some previous experience, or anxiously trying to anticipate future events. Since "present" is the only moment there really is, then maybe Watts is on to something there. I spend a lot of my time when I'm depressed not only gnawing on actual negative events in the past, but brewing up imaginary negative events to stew on even more. "Throwing rocks in my own pond", as Teresa would say. It's not bad enough that I actually had an argument with this or that person at some time in the past, but I have to go and dream up an imaginary argument to have with them in the present! Christ Jesus, do I have the fucking corner on the neuroses market or what!? What a waste of a perfectly good brain. And the real kick in the prunes is that as much as I know about emotion, it doesn't seem to stop the process from happening.

So there must be some way in which I benefit from doing this or I'd stop doing it, right? Or is that completely off the mark? Do humans continue behaviors that are of no benefit to them whatsoever? I have no idea. How is your vantage point? What can you see from over there? Tell me what this is that I have caught in my philosophical teeth.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.