navigating a world which feels like gravity is working in reverse

Expandmenu Shrunk


  • War Doodle

    I’ve lived in an unstable country. I was nine years old. My father was a pastor of an English speaking church for expatriates in San Salvador, El Salvador. It was not a very stable country to begin with. There was an imitation Burger King we went to once that some guerilla blew up with a car bomb. To be fair there were really no good guys, the El Salvadorian government fighting these guerillas would kidnap, kill and torture dissidents and even sympathetic clergy and intellectuals. But once the Soviet backed guerillas saw the Berlin wall fall they knew their funding was going to dry up soon so this was their last chance to try to take the capital.

    We lived in a walled complex that included the church my father pastored, a gift shop, and a parsonage we lived in. The day of the first night of the offensive we had been warned by a church member high up in the military to stay home and cancel all church activities. We were nervous. I was playing a space invaders clone on a Commodore 64 with a green monitor. Then the shooting started. At first it was far away but as the night drew on it got closer. You are probably familiar with how you have to go to a certain part of the house in the event of a tornado. It’s similar for a war and the place furthest away from stray bullets was the hallway that ran through the center of the house. Our family dragged our mattresses out to the hall way and tried to sleep there. We kids were told that we were Americans and guerillas wouldn’t dare kill us because of the repercussions for their movement (as Americans funded the El Salvadorian government). This argument doesn’t make any sense to me now but I accepted it then and kept me from being as scared as I probably should have been.

    My drawing book changed from surfers and T&C Surf designs to more serious imagery very quickly.

    Our church had a large window facing a mountain (I think it was a dormant volcano) where the guerillas were holed up. You couldn’t really see the fighting but you could see flares that would go up sometime

     

    November 16, 1989 (lines in pencil)

    Guns went off Saturday night. From then on we’ve been sleeping in the hall.
    We got a color TV.
    Nobody can go on the street from 6pm to 6am

    Yeah we were under marshal law. From the start of the war until we left only one parent at a time would leave the compound we lived in. That was because having them both killed would be a lot worse than just one of them. The seemingly innocuous line “we got a color TV” is darker than it sounds because we got that TV because the guy we knew was killed by a stray shell while closing the gate to his compound. It was either his or his friend’s (who left the country quickly) TV.

    November 18, 1989

    It’s a little eerie the seemingly trivial statements in colorful marker like “I like Monopoly” interspersed with bits about the war zone all around us. But I was nine and probably on the autistic spectrum so was immature for my age. But the statements remind us all that even in a war zone the seemingly trivial things of life go on. It was also amazing that the power stayed on most of the time (I have always slept with a fan and was particularly overjoyed about it during that period of my journal). Running water also continued to work though it was never safe to drink.

    Nov 20, 1989

    I got a radio clock and guns went off again. By now some nights we would sleep in our rooms and then move to the hall way if the gunfire got bad. Also our new color TV worked great with our Commodore 64 so we’d the kid’s favorite video game, California Games.

    November 22. 1989 (in pencil)

    Guns went off a lot Tuesday.
    I saw a flare!
    We went in the gift shop Tuesday
    We’re moving
    We took today off.

    The day before this entry was perhaps the scariest part of the whole experience of instability. We lived less than a mile away from the presidential palace which was often under attack. Someone was launching mortars. We all lined up and then went down to the gift shop which had the most reinforced concrete over it. For some reason I remember watching cartoons there, but I don’t know if this is a false memory.

    Another drawing from the time, not sure if it’s supposed to be a bullet or not.

    This is from the drawing book after we moved to Costa Rica. It shows the dates when there was the most fighting.

    This is the passport stamp of our leaving El Salvador.  We got out of there to our grandparent’s house in Costa Rica as soon as the airport opened though my dad stayed another 3 weeks.

    We were lucky that we were American citizens and had relatives in Costa Rica which was a lot easier to fly to then the U.S.



  • Mental Advent

    A parody of advent, for people who the church wished didn’t exist.

    Week 1: The Empowerment Candle –  Hope is great but without power it usually just melts away.  For example if you are in an abusive or exploitative situation, having power is what counters these people and buys one hope.  Even being able to believe in religion is a form of power because you need to play cognitive tricks to pretend there is a god there that loves you and get the placebo response from these practices which sustain you.

    Week 2: The Ativan Candle – The times I felt the most peace were when I was on the anti anxiety drug Ativan.  People bemoan the fact that so many people are hooked on drugs and alcohol but there’s a reason for this.  They work!  Religion can work for some people but requires a lot of brain power, an acrobatic act of holding on and letting go, that is out of reach for a lot of people, especially those with mental illnesses.

    Week 3: The Mania Candle –  Joy is great too but is just a weasel word that, when pressed, Christians admit doesn’t mean anything even close to happiness or pleasure.  The only time I experienced the Holy Spirit moving was when I was manic so I think mania should get a better hearing.

    Week 4: The Significant Other Candle – Because the culture is so hyper individualistic often a significant other is your only true friend (this is particularly true if you are male).  Obviously love is harder to come by the less healthy you are but even bad relationships should be celebrated because people are reaching out and trying.  Of course this day you should celebrate looking good and making a lot of money because these are so important in finding love.

     



  • Purple Motion

    One of my favorite tracker artists of all time Purple Motion just released his CD on Spotify.  You can see a YouTube Version.

    Tracker music was from the Amiga days when you had a lot of synthesized instruments and sampled ones.  The parameters made for a really unique sound.  I owned an Amiga 600 so part of it is nostalgia.



  • epistemology of mental illness

    I think on a deep level the millennial generation’s (1 in 4 of us has a mental illness) drift away from religion and traditional moral constructions is explainable by something I like to call an “epistemology of mental illness”.  Things simply don’t work the same on a deeply human level.   Take my poem

    psychology says we want to kill ourselves when we are insane
    and want to live when we are sane
    bipolar disorder says exactly the opposite

    I and lots of bipolar people live in an inverted reality.  Mostly because depression is so powerful it becomes reality so escaping reality becomes the only way to really live.

    mental illness a template
    your emotions divorced
    from your circumstances
    and they wonder why we love getting high

    I can watch the most beautiful sunset and feel like shit and sit by a heating vent and feel great because my emotions are at the whim of the chemicals in my brain and little else.  And then we have people using alcohol and drugs to actively divorce their emotions from their circumstances, partying.  But the more you do the more divorced they become and it’s a vicious cycle.

    Mania is a starred Mario
    But back to depression
    You pick up with the amount of fortitude
    You left off with

    The starred Mario analogy describes the recklessness of mania, how it makes you feel invincible and this is it’s beauty but also it’s bane, as this recklessness can cost you falling through the bottom of the screen which you are not protected from.

    But back to depression, the amount of fortitude is like a the same variable in two different namespaces, non depressive namespace and depression namespace.  Modifications in one namespace doesn’t affect the other.  So when you leave non-depression you pick up with the amount of fortitude possessed in your depressive state.  This flies in the face of everything religion and traditional culture tells you, because rest and joy are supposed to tide you through the bad times.

    (anti natalism)
    if life truly were a gift
    mine would be received as one

    One of the Christian tropes is the “sanctity of life”.  Apparently it doesn’t cover how you get treated in church because I don’t get treated well there so I’ve stopped going.  Also, what is your value worth if you can’t cash it out?  If your therapist thinks you’re worth something that’s great, but once you walk out the door of that therapist’s office if you can’t cash out that said worth on a date, at a job interview, or in church, what is it really worth?  It’s like salt that doesn’t have its saltiness.

     



  • Men are different than women

    Imagine if you had the ability to clone adults with technology similar to the Star Trek transporter.  If you cloned a desirable women there would be another desirable women.  If you cloned a desirable man not so much.  This is because you’d have to clone his good job as well and simple economics wouldn’t make that possible.