Posts Tagged ‘animals’

A wonderful observation was made by Venkat Rao. People desire for things around them to be “legible.” He was quoting someone else, but he’s brought a lot of people’s attention to the concept. In this context, Legibility refers to how easy it is to understand the purpose and the meaning of a thing, not just a text, but anything.

On the very legible end of things is something like an office chair, or a cup of coffee.  These are designed by humans, completely contrived for the types of purposes that anyone can plainly gather from their adaptation to these intentions.  On the far side of illegibility is the pattern of plants in a forest.  Not to say that it’s random, but without an extremely specialized understanding, the patterning, the whys, the meaning of it is indecipherable.  The only other way to access a complicated image like a forest or a city is to simply experience the gestalt of it, the sense of it as you are there, in the moment.

Rao gives us examples of problems that arise when we humans try and impose legibility. His easiest example is the growth of a city.  Old cities have grown in such a complex pattern over decades, centuries, even millenia, and with such a collection of complex human interactions, that their patterning is as nuanced as the trees and ferns of the forest floor.  When planners come along and try to work out a method to set up a city artificially, it so often fails miserably because there is a forced legibility (indeed, it’s hard to imagine making policies about things without first rendering them legible, but for policymakers to grok the complexities necessary to understand things like city growth is more than most mere politicians can muster).

The important points here are that legibility is highest in man-made things and that people desire legibility.  In fact, Rao cites an interesting incident at a neurology clinic where a black and white checkerboard pattern is used to establish a “baseline” of someone’s brain activity, a “calm state.”  When the patient asked the doctor “shouldn’t you use something more neutral, white noise, perhaps?”  The doctor responds, “Oh no, people’s brains go wild when we show a random pattern, because they work hard to grasp at some underlying structure.”

Perhaps it is the fruit of Maharishi’s meditation on who am I? perhaps it is my vows, or just observation.  But recently I have found myself truly switching identity experiences rather easily.  After actual decades of wanting so much to be a woman, and an entire decade of being mostly submissive, I find myself being a true switch.  I can stop what we’re doing at home to force slap her ass, make sure she’s knowing she’s in submission, and leave her begging for more as we’re walking into town. Yes, I can still kiss a whip, scrub someone’s floor, and pine to get held down and fucked.  Honestly, I could beg God for either role just as sincerely, or forget the whole thing entirely.  All of it is surrender!

If you don’t build it deliberately, but let it form, like actions of nature, it isn’t going to have the same kind of legibility of an invention.  I smile this smile that old ladies and children seem to find irresistable.  I alternatively flush a bit from some men’s heat, and then wet some girl’s panties by our immediate mutual knowledge that I would chain her up alongside the others and perhaps horsewhip the living hell out of her in half a second.  And I gain trusting giggles and secret intimacies when I unwrap my Arab kuffiya and smile a blushing conspiratorial sister smile.  No one seems to try to cheat me anymore, in fact it seems they’re mostly quite generous with me.  My employees are artistic and seem satisfied.  I drive hard bargains with a shy voice.  My students mostly do what I say, alternatively seduced, in love, and afraid. My personality is a forest rather than a coffee cup, mysterious to even myself.

Then this all generalizes into other things.  I find myself more generous with money, and managing it all quite differently because I don’t even know what it is anymore.  It seems to have no value at all.  I don’t mean that in a naive sense, but in the sense that we’re all dying so quickly, what the fuck?  Perhaps I will find the capacity for even more generosity, or that great fabled freedom to just cast a fortune away in a moment, without a thought, and the power to create another kind or another kind or even a different kind than that….  How can I lack patience in this case?  How can I worry any sense of morality?  I tested this by lying outright a few times, and find the only thing I have that could be called a “conscience” is confusion brought on by blood sugar levels.

My friends seem to stumble with their reactions.  And I think it’s because I’ve become illegible.  So I do try and maintain some consistency around them lately, but it feels so stilted, and I notice that any real observer should be able to see through the plastic of contrivance. People want you to have an identity though, something to pin down and relate to with a known set of codes.  My girlfriend, fortunately, is blessed with enough innocence to just tell me when she doesn’t get what’s going on, and to roll with it.  She’s uncaring about social norms enough to either not notice or not care when I mix gender, dominance, social class signals, fashions, and actions with the kind of attitude that I would pack a backpack for a walk in the woods.  Toilet paper is good for so many things, I’ll bring a whole roll of that with me for even a day or two in the woods.

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So I was considering what to do with my job situation. I asked my supervisor for an opinion in order to strike up a conversation to keep the lines of communication open in case I wanted to sign another contract with them. Also, I needed to know something about the number of vacation days on the contract which, as it is written, is quite ambiguous. Depending on the interpretation of that, I was ready to sign up again immediately.

She was initially almost in tears asking me if I was going to marry my girlfriend. This threw me a little off, because I thought my supervisor had gotten over her attraction to me and just considered me a friend. I made a pretty dismissive comment about the idea in order to calm her down and then proceeded to talk to her about the amount of vacation time I would have.

Now, I’ve been in friendly enough terms with my supervisor that she already knows I want to take a ten day Vipassana meditation time. Also, she knows I was speaking with a Zen teacher a well. What was interesting was the amount of condemnation she ended up heaping onto my wanting to do these things. She is, herself, a Buddhist and had scheduled a meeting with a famous teacher on the South of the island during Chinese new year. Instead of attending the meeting, she cancelled it and rode horses all week long.

Now, what’s interesting is the elaborate reasoning she comes up with about my spending time meditating. The thing is, she does it in a way that appears quite well-meaning, and remarkably sincere. Her favorite is, “you probably already have the answers” to which I responded, “yes, perhaps, but I am looking for a teacher or some time to spend to help me see them for what they are” and she goes on that I’m impatient (to which I respond, I’m not hurting to wait, but I’m also not trying to waste any time) or that I’m being selfish (to which I respond, I am kind to others, but it seems that if I’m completely lost, I may not even know what kindness IS) or that I think too much (but anyone whose spent time meditating has discovered that yes, you think WAY THE FUCK TOO MUCH, and meditation is the only hope you have to get that chatter to cease)….

How sincere and reasonable she is in all this, enough that I found it unsettling. Mind you, it didn’t seem like “attacks” or anything at the time. I am sure that in her mind, it’s all kindness and “realistic” ways of thinking of things (as if pragmatism demands selling one’s soul to join some world of conformity). I was thrown off by all this until I remembered the beginning of the conversation. Then I remembered that she is in love with me and wants me to stay near her, and every things she says is to serve that purpose. Does SHE even realize this?  My guess is no.

Pretty much everything is a tactic, a ruse, or a strategy. Even being honest just gives one a personal sense of justification, and a socially granted one as well. Ghandi, along with plenty of Jewish scholars and Christian theologians, pointed out that Jesus’s ideas about turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, and giving someone who sues you for a cloak, your shirt along with it might have been very strategically useful for the oppressed Jews of his time. I’m not saying that it’s ‘wrong’ in any sense, to use whatever method one feels is most congruent and effective in order to finish a task, I’m just saying that it is what it is.

I teach kids. I see this every day. Doing well on a test gets appreciation and acceptance from teachers and parents, and a boost to mood and feelings of personal security and well-being. 99% of my kids don’t give a shit about learning ENGLISH per se. When someone sees a reason to learn it, like my student who loves computers and noticed that the BIOS is always in English, my job is easy and they learn quickly. Until they get inspired, I just manipulate social cookies to coerce and convince them to do what I want them to. It’s a sickening game sometimes.

“Following the rules” may be anything from a way to manipulate others into giving one what one wants to a way to feel justified in self-pity when things don’t go one’s way. “Nice” is a nice way to create a reality that believes oneself to be a “good person” or some such crap. At the worst, ones self righteousness is a game to build ones own ego without reproach because you can threaten anyone that gives you a well-deserved ass kicking else with state violence. The thing is, I’ve played all these games, and I watch kids do it, and I watch people do it, and I’m sick and fucking tired of it, in myself more than anybody else!

So, it’s hard as fuck to know what I’m doing right now. I’ve looked inside myself and seen the same thing. I, yes I, use an immense amount of sincerity as a means to an ends… I use a ‘pragmatic approach’ sometimes, or a ‘ruthless’ one, or ‘the one that fits the situation’ but it all seems to be ego-gratifying as well as basically self-serving WHATEVER I do. What I would give right now to know my own truest intention!

From a standpoint of innocence and pure intention, means is irrelevant. You are always choosing means anyways, to serve whatever intention you have. And until I am coming from a standpoint of innocence and pure intention, even honesty is a lie.

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I read an absolutely genius website recently: http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/FEARvsDANGER.html

This guy has the clearest ideas of real-world violence and violent human behavior that I’ve ever read. This reminds me of a lot of what we always say is “good kung fu.” I.E., there’s almost always a nonviolent way out, and why were you somewhere that violence was likely in the first place? In other words for violence to actually be “necessary,” you have to have made a series of complete fuck-ups leading up to that situation. Then, to actually “defend” yourself is usually to find the fastest path to escape.

Further, as I’ve always thought, there’s no such thing as a “fight” outside of duels and sparring. It isn’t a real barfight or street fight unless somebody is likely to draw a knife, gun, or bat or someone’s friend or associate is likely to draw one while you aren’t looking. No one is trying to “fight.” Either they are trying to warn you off with a threat display, they’re giving you an ultimatum (usually with some option to leave or exit without violence) or else they’re trying to murder you (because you declined their ultimatum or you already did something to ‘earn’ getting killed, like screwed their wife or screwed them in a drug deal).

But this guy takes it all a step further. He shows how people take the rules from their part of society and expect them to apply everywhere and in all situations, basically becoming bigotted pricks everywhere they go. Essentially people expect to break some of the ‘rules’ (screwing someone’s wife, going to a drug party in the ghetto) whilest assuming that other ‘rules’ will protect them (no one shoots people, no one violates my body without my permission). By this method, a lot of middle class men get shot and a lot of middle class girls get raped, simply by assuming their “rights” are god-given instead of society given.

He lays everything out so lucidly as to point to the simple truth: If you are oriented to reality as it is, rather than what you think it should be, you are always in a more powerful position.

This showed me that the way we’ve built up our society is good in some ways. I definitely like the fact that most of the time the greatest risk I suffer as a consequence of my words or actions is hurt feelings. That’s a safer world to live in than a barbaric one of constant possible violence. But we also effectively use this setup to manipulate situations to our benefit. At the end of the day, the person with the most savvy in whatever system they are in, is usually able to gain the most power, toys, money, or whatever….  and in the end, most people are playing to win.

Even playing “by the rules” is probably playing to win, through reputation, some sense of self-respect (boosting ego/confidence), social and personal justification, or else to marshall the rules in one’s favor as a protective measure (It’s nice to be able to manipulate social power in someone’s face while they cannot do anything about it because the “rules” protect your theivery, hate speech, backstabbing connivances, or stupid and self-serving actions). Most people surely hide their own attempts to “win” from themselves, because if they realized how twisted and ruthless their own games were, they might “lose” some of the psychological cookies that their social rules system gives them.

All this points me a clear direction: Know my intention, and act utterly in accordance with it…  hide nothing from myself — my sense of ‘fairness’ seems to mostly be a strategy from my childhood to manipulate those around me, so set it aside entirely and play ruthlessly, simply, absolutely to succeed. My “morals” will never be a stand-in for innocence.

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I was on my way to see my mom’s band play at church.  They’d been practicing some music and she was very proud of what they were doing.  We saw a dog on the side of the road.  My friend was happy to see a dog, but immediately I realized it was likely to get hit by a car.

And of course, it started wandering out on the road.  Well, my friend jumped out of the car as soon as one of us said, “the dog has tags, it’s someone’s dog, and it’s definitely not going to make it across highway 78 (busy 4 lane highway).  So he started trying to catch the dog, but the dog got hit.  The car ran over its arm and my friend picked the dog up and brought it to our car.

So we took it to the emergency animal hospital.  I didn’t know my friend had been bitten but when they found out he’d been bitten, they wanted some forms filled out, and then we were to go to the E.R.  In order to hurry things along, I went ahead and filled out one of our forms (at the time I thought it was the only one that would be needed, and I didn’t know how bad my buddy’s bite was, so I thought it would rush us along).  It was a triplicate form and I assumed I’d get a copy.

Well, more forms needed to be filled out, and we were able to track down the dog’s records and discover it had a current rabies shot.  So Animal control officers told my friend that he wouldn’t need to go to the E.R.  I let him decide how bad his wounds were in terms of danger of infection.  He didn’t want to go tonight for that, knowing we’d be in the E.R. for 3 or 4 hours due to his low priority in triage, and it would cost a lot to go, so we decided to head back home.

I asked for a copy of the form I’d filled out for my own personal records.  Actually, I wanted to laugh with my friend and my dad about the fact that when it asked for “species” I’d put down “canus.”  We were all in a pretty decent mood and I was nominating Thomas (who is an Eagle Scout) for a new merit badge.

Due to records laws, she couldn’t give me a copy — animal records being treated identically to human medical records.  This really upset me and I said, “well, what if some kind of legal action comes back to me?  I should have a copy of the records for myself…  maybe you all will lose them.  I’m a law student, I know that things can get weird.”  She said she couldn’t.  I held eye contact and said, “I can assure you that this decision will mean that i the next instance, I won’t help a dog at all.”  I was pretty pissed off.

While I did make a point to say very loudly to my dad, “I know it isn’t her fault, or the clinic manager’s fault” I also said very loudly, “anything that goes beyond a motion to dismiss will cost me time and money.”  (Which is true, but I also know that the chances of anyone generating a tort claim that would go beyond a simple motion to dismiss off the situation I was in are basically equal to zero).

All this past, I found it difficult to let go of the situation.  I felt horribly guilty that I’d maybe really hurt her feelings or discouraged her in some way.  Also, as soon as I realized I was going on and on about it, I tried to change the subject as quickly as possible, as I think we all felt pretty good about having helped the dog out and I didn’t want to screw that up, especially for my friend Thomas.  I could feel the peacefulness within myself that surpasses all things going on, and told everybody, “okay, lets just drop what I’m talking about, I never want to bother about this again.”

But more importantly, the MINDSPACE that going into all that arguing with the vet assistant had put me into was not useful at all.  So, realizing this, I started getting upset at myself like I was fucking up everything I was trying to build inside myself to try and approach things to build a much better lifestyle for myself…  Quite a nasty feeling that my attitude was going to do nothing but cause myself more shit.  It was very hard to pull myself out of that.

However, it did eventually pass.  Even sorting through it here helped some..  What I am noticing as I type this is my meditations are helping.  I was able to return to “home base” after assessing that my headspace and argumentativeness wasn’t useful in any way.  It took me awhile to drop it, and my tendency to feel bad about things made it harder to drop it.  Guilt has to be one of the most worthless emotions in human existence, hahah.

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I was terrified of Tucans (yes, the colourful tropical birds) as a child. I once dreamt that a Tucan killed my whole family. Mom had to take all the Tucans out of the animal card memory game I had because when one would come up I would scream and run from the room. NOW? I love all animals.

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