# Unkown Blogger Pursues a Deranged Quest for Normalcy

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# Archive for the ‘philosophical rants’ Category

## Clarence Odbody

Posted by ubpdqn on November 11, 2016

I have frequently contemplated the film: “It’s a wonderful life” (George Bailey,Angel Second Class).

This difficult year and the events of this week in the United States at this time of year drew me again to this film. This saccharine film with some stereotypes of the period (esp with respect to women’s roles and African American’s positions in society) still presents a vision of the triumph of the “better angels of our nature” (pun intended) whether one invokes the supernatural or spiritual aspects or not. It is, perhaps, one of the “big lies”.

I have struggled all my life with the concept of “friend” but never so intensely than this year. So, Clarence Odbody’s message in front leaf of “Tom Sawyer” viewed from a position of failure, my experience sadly supports the contrapositive.

This, however, does not prevent me from seeing the hope in my children’s generation despite the “movement” that events like the outcome of the US election seems to represent. My children (my eldest daughter in particular on this occasion) gave me this hope directly. It is easy to focus on villains and escalate divisive rhetoric. “Haves” and “have-nots”, “educated” Perhaps, some small legitimacy to many or all of these factors from various narrow and often self-serving viewpoints (I claim no immunity from such framing and frank biases). However, at such a complex and confusing time rather than escalating division contemplating George Bailey and Clarence Odbody has lessons (at least for me).

The “message”: never give up provides me a kernel for my own little “world”.

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## Interesting Times

Posted by ubpdqn on November 9, 2016

This has been a year of extremes and on this day that the United States has (likely) decided to elect Donald J Trump as its president. This speaks to the cumulative frustration and anger among people who believe they are invisible and trodden upon by the established forms of government. This pain and suffering has motivated a change that on paper is irrational, irresponsible and dangerous. The United States is not alone in this “movement”.

The wheel has squeaked, will the “engineer” prosecute reparation (including judicious use oil to lubricate the machine) or will the wheel and the wagon race unimpeded over the cliff into the abyss?

Interesting times indeed…

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## Beauty in a Cup of Tea

Posted by ubpdqn on October 19, 2016

I was (pleasantly) distracted by the cup tea interface with its kissing ovoids. Alas this was the zenith of my recovery. Events have once again exerted an intense and effective suppression. What will come next? My heroes stand steadfastly by me but I do not know why.

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## The Undiscovered Country

Posted by ubpdqn on October 11, 2016

This term from Hamlet (Act III Scene I) refers to death (and the speech it is embedded in has been a source of contemplation). In this case, I refer to the “future”.

It is Mental Health Week and I watched “The Not So Secret Live of the Manic Depressive: 10 years on”.

The subjects of this documentary were exceptionally brave and sharing their stories. Stephen Fry was no exception. This is, perhaps, another effort to improve understanding about mental health issues. I, however, found this documentary a source of despondence rather than uplifting. The young women who was directing her energies into helping people with similar problems was inspirational. The other sufferers marching on and their heroic relatives and friends by their side were reasonably presented.

The pain of the struggle and its lurking presence just under the surface with little real progress in terms of reducing suffering (be it pharmacology or behavioural) and the sentiment: “well you just have to live with it”,seemed to me as disturbing and unhelpful as “suck it up Princess”.

I hope that “having a conversation”, “increasing the profile of mental illness” are more than societal tick boxes. We watched a program about mental health. We’re informed, governments can tick boxes while sufferers remain isolated, disconnected with hidden pain and their heroic friends and relatives remain unsupported.

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## Mercy

Posted by ubpdqn on September 7, 2016

I have found more connection with individuals I have never met. As the saying goes:
The Internet: where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents. However, the intelligence, creativity, humour and remarkable kindness from the limited group I have intersected with in cyberspace has been a surprising comfort during this difficult time. These undeniably shallow and transient interactions are cyber-aquaintances.

Take comfort in your friends…”, Michael Stipes sings…ay there’s the rub.

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## Endless Forms

Posted by ubpdqn on May 24, 2016

I have just passed the best few days since the beginning of the year. I was immersed in the mundane but surrounded by those remarkable (few) people who attach some value to me.  These briefest of moments were priceless to me.

There are still extremely dark days ahead but I do not walk alone. I have, for the first time, some inkling of a meaningful future, even with such a deep and extensive wound.

The fog clears but nothing changes the malevolence that has pushed me into the abyss.  There are lessons and I hope I learn them. I will, however, (while my brain is intact) not forget. The wound may never heal and perhaps the vulnerability it presents and the pain  it induces serve or transform into useful to me and others.

I enjoyed watching ants scurry. They walked on loosely defined trails. Local signalling with emergent larger structure. Each ant doing its thing but ultimately achieving a purpose for the whole. A robust system. Loss of one ant has another ant hot on the trail. Small obstacles and perturbations are locally solved.  Hanging clothes became a journey for the imagination.

How long this clarity lasts who knows. I am thankful for those very small but compassionate souls who have been by my side in this difficult time.

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## End of The World As We Know It

Posted by ubpdqn on April 20, 2016

It has been an extremely difficult time.  I am repeatedly  informed by the important people in my life about the “light at the end of the tunnel”. The darkness is pervasive and impenetrable. Some brief twinkles appear but they are evanescent (perhaps products of the brain much like Percival Lowell’s canals on Mars).

I have always derived some comfort from various symbolism. The appearance of a small delicate rose in our “garden” appeared as a symbol of hope and the fragility of life. It emerged despite my complete neglect.

REM has provided an almost documentary consonance with my mood:

it has been somewhat more than a day…:

A self-evident truth but music that soothed my savage nature:

I have not reached  the enlightenment that my loved ones see but perhaps I will be honestly able to utter, “… and I feel fine”:

I must emerge from this darkness into the “great beyond”:

Peace to all. This wonderful video captures our place in the universe: awe and wonder (and beautiful distraction from the “real world”).

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## The Big Lies

Posted by ubpdqn on March 15, 2016

I have been living in a deep, dark and cold void of self pity. My partner pierced this darkness with a simple question, “maybe you have not suffered enough?”. This planted a seed in my mind and somewhat counter-intuitively was liberating. This paradoxical effect arose as this phrase did not arise from spite or hate but from love.

There is a story of man who was in a state of despair. The burdens of his life were overwhelming. He prayed for relief.  One evening he received a vision. He was in a room with Christ. “I have heard your prayers, my son.  Here look at this table of crosses, These crosses represent the burdens you can carry in the rest of your life. I allow you to choose the one you want.” There were large, crosses, crosses showing the crucified Christ with the crown of thornes and the side wound. The man spied a very small almost inconspicuous cross. He picked it up and declared, “I choose this one”. Christ replied, “This is the cross you have borne all your life and the cross you bear now.”

I can, by many objective measures, prove the harm wrought upon me by others. These injuries have pushed me into the void. The manipulation of neuro-chemistry alone will not suffice. The journey out of the void needs insights like those offered by my partner.  It is my choice how to deal with my perceived suffering. This is not to exculpate, endorse, forget or forgive. This road is not on the horizon and it may never be.

So,  I believed the big lies and have  been shaken by the real world. It makes this aspiration of these lies no less important and I have forgotten this lesson.

Monks were asked what they do all do. They replied, “we fall down and get up”. I have fallen down a tall staircase into this void. I am battered, bruised and disoriented. It is time to try to get up  and  find that steep staircase. I may only reach the first step.  I may have suffered enough. It is liberating to reframe and recognize that the void may teach me even if  I do not survive it.

Terry Pratchett, Hogfather (Discworld, #20; Death, #4)

All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOWME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY

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## Vitality

Posted by ubpdqn on March 1, 2016

This is an honest insight into melancholia:

The poem at the beginning  sadly resonates too much…

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,

And Mourners to and fro

Kept treading – treading – till it seemed

That Sense was breaking through –

And when they all were seated,

A Service, like a Drum –

Kept beating – beating – till I thought

My mind was going numb –

And then I heard them lift a Box

And creak across my Soul

With those same Boots of Lead, again,

Then Space – began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,

And Being, but an Ear,

And I, and Silence, some strange Race,

Wrecked, solitary, here –

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,

And I dropped down, and down –

And hit a World, at every plunge,

And Finished knowing – then –

= Emily Dickinson

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## Slings and Arrows

Posted by ubpdqn on February 19, 2016

It is some weeks now since a disabling (and possibly fatal) blow has been delivered to my $\psi\upsilon\chi\eta$. A blow delivered with such intensity and collective malevolence to evoke Hamlet’s :”to be or not to be”.

Media are full of “friends” and kind souls with uniformly “happy endings” all neatly wrapped up in attention grabbing discrete chunks (30 minutes to 2 hours). Guardian angels coming to bring solace and the all  important hope.

Alas, these are fiction ,very nice and soothing fiction but fiction nonetheless. I sit alone, broken and ashamed of the stress and my human frailty has wrought on those people I love. They are my heroes and I have let them down.

So, Martin Luther kings words resonate as does Hamlet Act III scene I:

To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die- to sleep.
To sleep- perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub!
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death-
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns- puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb’red.

Peace and hope to all.

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