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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Life Goes On.. And so does this entry.

Whatever wisdom there is to learn from our friends and elders, the greatest bottleneck seems to be knowing what to ask.

Toward that end, I wish people would butt in more, assault each other with unrequested opinions--take it or leave it, here is my impression, something I think might help you. Even if, as it would happen, people would respond defensively more often than not, so what? They're still learning that that's the way you see it; and maybe that's the important thing for them to know, whether or not what you see is actually correct.

I think back to the Halloween costume contest at El Torito... there was a guy with a great costume that made it look convincingly like he was sitting cross-legged in a small cage being carried around by a gorilla. I thought it was quite clever, better than my own man-on-man costume. And it gave him a certain air of seriousness, of greatness, of something... something that put him out of my league to even talk to. Still, I said hello, as a fellow contestant; and he minimally acknowledged me but made no effort to maintain any communication, just confirming my suspicion that he was above talking to the likes of me.

But, of course, he was probably exactly like me, probably felt just as out of place amongst drinking, dancing masses who would soon be our judges (and give the substantial prize money to the girl with the tassels spinning from her nipples), just as mystified why his creative efforts only seemed to increase his distance from people rather than inspiring them and bringing them closer. And in retrospect, he probably thought I was just another clubber who'd convinced my buddy to carry me around, just another couple of guys who were going to say "yeah dude... cool costume dude...", put him on the spot to make small talk in an eternally foreign dialect.

I get it now; I have the meta view from which this all makes sense. I could explain it to him, to me, so much of it. But why didn't anyone explain it to me? Because I never asked -- because I didn't even know what I was looking for. And because most of the people who could have explained it to me then, they only saw the other half, they still didn't have the meta view from which both sides were visible, so they didn't know what to volunteer to us any more than we knew what to ask.

So much goes unsaid because we assume what is obvious to us must be obvious to others; and so much misinterpretation is born of this same error.

I so love brutal honesty. Just say it like it is--everything. Expect argument--don't dole out your honesty, as many people do, only on the condition that it be taken without debate. All that is unsaid is also unchallenged--it may be that you are the one who stands to learn the most from your own honest evaluations, by opening up your own assumptions to scrutiny.

On the other hand, usually when I go meta on people they just look afraid. Perhaps it's just more than most people can or want to see. Part of what I still need to learn and accept is that honesty is not for everyone. Our species is so trapped between logic and the animal.

My social experiments continue. This time, I held a beer cup full of water the entire party, but maintained from the prior week the same lack of hope for any sort of intellectually satisfying interactions. It worked as well or better. I grok the social scene now. It's just so much less than I ever thought it was; just as much of a waste of time as I always feared it was. One of two contenders for most attractive woman at the party (looks + personality) asked me for my card before she left, much to my surprise. I don't expect to ever hear from her, but still this ranks as a first for me.

Now at least I know how to play, so when I choose not to it will be with a clear conscience.

I have to say it's rather disappointing, to know that the social setting of my dreams, the one I have always aspired to be accepted into, simply does not exist. Take the world of my imagination, rip out the inspiration and soul, and there you have (most of) the real world. I have this horrid image in my head now of spending the rest of my life in this drab new world I have successfully infiltrated. I need to remind myself that there are other living souls in my midst, the few but exceptional friends I have found over the years. It's just too bad that network is not dense enough in itself to bring me new social exposure. It seems if I am to find a companion, I will have to do some wading.

It could be worse. At that same party, Peter learned his current leading romantic prospect had died in a car wreck a couple days earlier.

I got my DMV renewal notice today, requiring a smog check. But once again, I have been "randomly" selected to be required to go to a "Test Only" station (read: more anal, and more dollars). So I called the Dept of Consumer Affairs number listed on the DMV slip, to ask "WHY ME?", and their computer kindly told me the wait would be fifteen minutes and then proceeded to play a recorded "please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us" repeatedly (every six seconds, to be precise) for the next fifteen minutes.

"please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us"

"please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us"

"please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us"

"please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us"

"please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us"

"please continue to hold for the next available consumer service agent--your call is important to us"

("Please go away, we hate you, we hate ourselves, we only take calls because some law requires us to but we don't really give a damn about you or your stinking problems with the laws and bureaucracies your peers have voted upon you.")

Of course, she told me it's random, rather like being struck by lightening. I told her it happened to me last time too. She said maybe my make and model of car is listed as a heavy polluter (Toyota truck?), so I asked her where I could find the list, but she said it is not available to the public. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

My friend Kalistrya* came to visit last week. That was nice, to be around someone sane for a while. I had been starting to question my own stability, having no stationary reference within sight.

When I picked her up from the airport, I pulled up to the curve behind another car that was about to pull out. The curb man came walking toward me and signaled me to go around, so I nodded in acknowledgement and made a hand signal to say I would follow the car in front of me out. He immediately stomped in front of my car to the driver side window and said "what, you don't have a reverse gear? I'm going to write you that $70 ticket" and proceeded to start taking down my plates. I had a bit of a confrontation with him, not of the direct and aggressive sort, but of the mind control sort where you reverse engineer their motivations and give them what they want without actually giving them anything; in this case all the while repressing the innate urge to simply hop out and kill this man who's mere whim has far too much power over the hours of my life to be acceptable. Somehow I managed to escape un-ticketed; but the whole episode just made me want to become a super-villain. It took half an hour before the adrenaline was used up.

Tell me what is wrong with this picture:

From The Misanthrope's Alphabet:

mis-an-thro-py \ mi-'san(t)-thra-pe\ n (ca. 1656) : a hatred or distrust of mankind

The misanthrope is a curious creature. Tainted by membership in the club that he or she most heartily detests, the misanthrope suffers under a seeming burden of self-loathing. But nothing, really, could be further from the truth.

The misanthrope in fact is cheered by the knowledge that at least he or she has honesty to rely upon. The misanthrope's antipode, the anthrophile, suffers from the most grievous self-deceit. Anthrophiles (whose numbers in the liberal and socialist parties are legion) at bottom believe that the good in a human being's heart is destined, now and forever, to triumph over evil, that ignorance is bliss (indeed they go on proving this over and over), that ultimately the lamebrained individual crippled by bad luck is the victim not so much of his or her own stupidity as by that of faceless "society" and its bureaucratic handmaidens.

Of course, society cannot base itself on a philosophy of hoping that the vagaries of bad luck will fall indiscriminately upon dupes innocent and guilty alike. Ninety percent of the time, the failure got that way quite on his or her own, through his or her own assiduous energies directed (consciously or unconsciously) towards ruin. The anthrophile lays the blame for this squarely at the door of fate; the misanthrope knows better and teaches that fate is merely another word for one's own unthinking foolishness. Society can help the unfortunate dunce to pick himself up after he slips on the banana peel (which, his head in the clouds, he failed to see as he traipsed stupidly over the sidewalk); but society cannot afford to hire peel patrols to go around looking after the poor sap.

The misanthrope hates not man. The misanthrope hates idiocy, stupidity, self-righteousness, authoritarianism, selfishness, greed, ignorance, dishonesty, cant, and balderdash. All of these he hates rightfully. The problem is that all of these are shared by no other member of the animal kingdom but man. And the misanthrope does not entertain the vain hope that these traits will ever stop determining man's behavior.

I got some hits to my website the other day from the Megacorp online forums. I followed the links back and found a discussion about the user interface--people lamenting the new "plain jane Windows (boring)" interface, and wishing they had the old one (mine) back. "I thought the original GUI was a lot of fun." They even complemented my artwork. (Funny how you give something, anything, to Corporate America and the first thing they do is rip the soul out of it.)

Kalistrya* and I went to the Wild Animal park, and the best part was this:

Every few seconds, there'd be a loud crack, like a large dry twig being snapped in half, and these hard little seeds would come raining down from somewhere random followed by bits of seed pod and leaves that had been knocked loose. It almost felt dangerous to stand under there--with the sound it was making one half expected the seeds to hit you with a sting. I filled my pocket with seeds, and will plant them about my property soon.

Lastly, a bit of smoke sheeting around the logs in my fireplace. You have to imagine it in motion.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com