Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Am I crazy?  Oh, yeah.  If you mean a little bit askew, maybe over-individuated, kinda ridiculous, sometimes unreasonable, I’ll claim it.  Like everyone else, I wonder about Alzheimer’s every time I lose the pickup keys, even though I screwed a cup hook into the end of my kitchen counter and taught myself to make sure to put the keys there when I came in.  Habit can get you through a lot of mild dementia.

So far I haven’t gotten bad enough to offend the sensibilities of the community except by not keeping my yard the way they want it.  Nothing I could be arrested for, like going to the post office stark naked.  I don’t get drunk, which is a kind of voluntary dementia very popular around here.  Clearly they don’t like being “in their right minds.”

It seems clear to me that Omar Mateen was demented psychologically to not recognize he wasn’t resolving his double minds (I was going to right double binds but I think he DID have double and conflicted minds.) and then I wonder whether it’s demented to have written “right” instead of “write.”  It’s not a mistake I would have made last fall.  It happens a lot these days, so I have to proof carefully.

Dementia seems to include:

1.  Deluded: that is, having ideas that are not supported by evidence.

2.  Glitches in managing complex processes like vocabulary or small daily routines.  If I’m tired or distracted, I find that I skip steps in things like going between programs, which I do most of the day.  I’m stumped about operations I don’t do very often, or I do them in the wrong order and am baffled by strange results.

3.  My old basic character flaws (paranoia, procrastination, non-compliance to regimes) increase.  Temper, temper.

4.  Loss of homeostasis, not correcting to maintain what is functional and healthy.  The stream of parameters seems to be getting narrower.

The culture around me also seems to be demented.  We see totally unrealistic demands at our town council meetings.  Trump is clearly nuts.  And then there’s Mateen.  I have a friend who lives off in the woods by himself.  As soon as he heard there was another shooting, he shut off every source of news in the house.  Isn’t it sane to not want to hear about such a thing?  (I couldn’t because I was afraid friends might have been shot -- possible but not likely, and listening wouldn't have helped anyone.  Not sensible.)

So a downer.  Where are the sane parts?  This winter and earlier I’ve been absorbed and inspired by new theories of the world, an expansion of thought that opens new horizons on every side.  That helps me forgive myself for aging.  It's intellectual to try to understand the new ideas, but emotional once assimilated.  Here’s a list of some of them.  If you google them, you’ll discover vids, books, organizations, and individual thinkers (though they tend to work in teams, which seems sane to me).

Summer here is still more of a calendrical theory than an experienced fact unless you look at the tall green grass and fields instead of the snow in Logan Pass.  It must be summer elsewhere because the "tourii" are beginning to arrive.  In this season I interact a little more with urban, white, educated, prosperous people.  Not that I want to.  I’m finding that if I try to explain the new paradigm concepts that have had me so excited all winter, their faces slam shut, esp. the men. They reject new ideas.  Is that sane?


LONG NOW:  Ideas that take into account the next 10,000 years instead of a five-year plan.  

DEEP TIME:  "The multimillion year time frame within which scientists believe the earth has existed, and which is supported by the observation of natural, mostly geological, phenomena."

BIG HISTORY: "Examines our past, explains our present and imagines our future."  No longer is history limited to the records in print, but now can include geological evidence, cosmology, and the fossil record which suggests that there have been maybe two hundred species of hominins before the version we call “ourselves.”

NEUROPLASTICITY:  "Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, is an umbrella term that describes lasting change to the brain throughout an individual's life course."  This includes the idea of the “fourth gestational trimester", the first three months outside the womb when the skull is growing fast enough to allow brain expansion -- which means that the unprotected environment penetrates and informs the basic concepts of the infant.  It also addresses the subsequent apoptosis of unused neurons and the bursts of regrowth when sexual elements come “online,” another burst of new mental abilities once sex is stabilized, and now a suggestion of a burst of new abilities in midlife, a crisis of the good kind.

THEORY OF MIND:  This may need a better name, for instance, social cognition, which comes from the study of children.  The concept is understanding that other sentient beings have minds — not like ours maybe but certainly with intentions, strategies, and opinions that we can figure out.  That’s “ours” in terms of human minds as species-wide (given the enormous varieties due to environment and culture) and also “ours” as individuals or as groups like families.  

I subscribe to a website about psychology and art, including both philosophers and psychoanalysts, which could be said to be disciplines of introspection, the latter poetic/symbolic or the former, logical/definitional.  I find that when I enter the conversation out of left field (Method acting, sensation-based neurology, raw experience) the poets welcome my ideas but often misunderstand them, and the philosophers want to argue/fight/deny.  They understand what I’m saying, but they do not admit the acceptability of me saying it, partly because of deficient credentials.  They do not care to admit that I have a worthy mind.  So which of us is crazy?

Word-based logic and credentials have been the markers of peak sanity for centuries now.  Psychoanalysis and humanities (art, music, drama, film) have been working away outside their perimeters for quite a while.  So has the catastrophic insanity of human-controlled events or humans trying to survive non-human devastations.  We see that science becomes technology, that advantages become burdens, that lack of empathy is a shield that kills others.

Bruce Strachan, 1948
After a car crash that changed him and his family forever.

Two members of my immediate family had closed-skull trauma, and my husband was also changed by vascular damage from stroke and heart attack.  Diminishing sanity was a long withdrawing ebb from both empathy and self-realization.  Not sudden aphasia or paralysis, not thinking someone is their hat, but a flattening, a social blindness, a lack of compensation for daily small blunders.  It wasn’t Alzheimers — they didn’t wander off down the streets or forget who they were.  But their faces were closed.

What does it mean?Kenner would ask.  “What does it mean?”  At least the possibilities are expanding, the skies and the cells are opening.  I think he might say that life is jazz, so get your instrument and start playing.  Or at least listen carefully.

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