Self-Helpless Guide to Social Life

Originally posted to The Pink Wreck in May 2012.

Perhaps like the non-practicing pansexual engendering agent of these familiar shapes you have at times been cast as the lead role for a script in which the main character approaches a crowd of mostly unfamiliar faces and attempts to feel comfortable, not wanting to have made some terrible mistake by making an appearance or by discovering through public reception the failure of the whole of personal life thus far. In introductions – the hypothetical character’s, and the agent’s – as with written analyses and most other expressions it is provident to shroud alarming and revealing neurotic idiosyncratic fixations beneath a discourse disguise that embroiders particular patches of conversation on top of fraying text-styles that pass as universal and fashionably sensible rather than the cloyingly intimate grandmotherly woollen sweater speech-patterns of an eldritch persona non grata – although any such inquisitive unstitching would rely also on the belief that everything unweaves finally to alarming and revealing neurotic idiosyncrasies, an alarming and revealing neurotic idiosyncrasy itself that may not be wholly true in that said idiosyncrasies lead finally to social structures which are a reflection of genetics or environment (constantly interpenetrating one another as with all false dichotomies) which are influenced by free will as determined by God or physical principles which leads finally to a point at which the sentence must terminate, because reaching for the cosmic interferes with clear and coherent discussion that goes somewhere and allows for further contributions. Tailoring is more difficult than pulling at loose threads, but prospective clientele prefer paying for impressive manicured fineries and not for the destruction of their wardrobes.

Unlike the Greenwood-Greenwood-O’Brien-Selway-Yorke documentary meeting people is difficult, partly because like that documentary it is often plagued by vacuum-asphyxiating silences and incomprehensibility. Blindered eyes lock on to familiars, the faces of the past or the pieces of the peripheral landscape, those to whom no salesmanship is expected. As rational naturopaths proclaim in National Geographics, foreign and frightening creatures are themselves affrighted likewise, and as you and they are feeling the jitters incipient mutual evasiveness exacerbates that which prompted it. To overcome this failed state we need some excitingly ambitious eleemosynary attitude-experiment to smooth out the crumpled feelings and extend the inborn amity-capacity to a new friend.

First off, for the fearful, you’re doing alright, and you needn’t constrain your malleable mind to the formal-concept-consensus-leg-irons so fond to and fondled into place by the uncritically overeducated and the one-size-fits-all haberdasher fashion squadrons covering all quadrants with their conformed assumptions about what your actions mean and who’s-notting self-hatred. You are not awkward if you sometimes balk at words. You are not introverted if you chip in no blurted hellos and what-do-you-dos. You are not antisocial if you can’t find emotional sync within a nictitational blink. You might feel that common concepts have you to a tee, but when old man J.C. was had to a tee it was not some chichi oolong/pekoe party but a bedeviled crucifixion hammering home the welt-whipping wet-dream of a gang of sadistic Roman soldiers following the careful direction of Mel Gibson, and after allowing for this capture once (like old man J.C.) enough’s enough; no need to keep dying for the sins diagnosed by our fathers’ bothersome bosom buddies who run their mouths off and their inkwells and -jets dry about how you have some kind of affliction and how they can cure it when they’re really just crotchety old conservative codgers craving the deference deemed due at the retractive ruing age. Entertain the tee, yes, suffer on it, but then get off and resurrect hence.

To feel estranged, standing aside, arms crossed, eyes searching, heavy with the tacit pressure to make yourself known and acceptable, is after all to be an individual. What an individual is no architect can sketch, but for one to enter a tongues-tensed dialogue is to flip the light switch in the dark hallway between bedrooms: no tungsten filaments glow before electricity flows. For light bulbs illumination requires resistance, interpolation within a circuit of input and output, siphoning off enough current into oneself to accumulate heat and shine. Analogously if you do not stand up and stand out, chanting Ohm to stanch the comfort-flow of the familiar glib repartees of comedy films and television shows, you will function but purely as a conducting wire. Consider awkwardness the psychoresistor that with attention can be crafted into a guided diode that lets loose a powerful flow in the right direction.

Like so much of intellectual terminology introversion is an unfortunately long-lived grasp at accredited immortality by an unimaginative dissertationist that reifies manifestations of readily explicable phenomena as bolted-fast precepts of reality that prevent by hyperclassification the confident fluidity of free-moving imagination. Devoting time to decorating, augmenting and furnishing a private room does not preclude an urgent love for the great outdoors, and the more beautiful and comfortable it becomes the more it might serve as party pad for people out in the shivering muck. Look around at the luxury hotels and regal palaces – those in which decaying and isolated people hide to shield themselves from the vulgar berabbled street milieux – which could be lived in and appreciated by an everchanging residency that might include the class of people who actually built these structures with their grimy calloused hands in the first place, and adapt that notion to your own head-and-heart edifice. You are not some type of person who according to compasses and quizzes should stay quiet and cut off while the other type of person gabs and yaks aloud about the flippant topics other talking types of persons enjoy, making your type of person abrasive and undesirable, just as you are not some type of person who should be content with wiping urine-splashes and shitstains from toilet-seat rims and emptying tampon-boxes for your life’s work while the other type of person lounges on a black leather executive chair before a wall-sized window overlooking acres of window-washed industrial urban skyline and occasionally working if the feeling is right, for a couple of hours, between meetings and lunches, on deceiving statistic-margin-type people such as yourself out of money and energy. Extraversion comes natural in the right circumstances and by jumping out you may encourage those others like you, bottled-up and maturing like vintage whiskey to be tapped and emptied briskly to intoxicate barrooms at a happy hour of your own choosing.

To puncture antisocial might feel gratuitous at this juncture but the word does possess a uniquely condemnatory shade that without too much hyperbole evokes a sort of miscellaneous-catchall death-camp category and thus also demands its own retort. It seems likely or at least laudably plausible that (s)he who might adore the social sphere most of all is (s)he who cannot bear to see it overrun by the domination of inept and lesser material and is therefore driven to refuge in isolated wonderworlds. Observe that those who hold attention and sway within the physical landscape are often those apparently devoid of regard for the wellbeing of its environment where having said regard conflicts with short-term profit margins, as large landowning agribusiness corporations employ proprietary FDA-approved pesticides to just the sufficiently few parts per million not to make class-action-sized groups of people noticeably sick in regions with appropriate legal protections and engineer their own crops to die after single harvests (just as nature intended, and as society prefers) and therein is a macrocosmic analog to conversationalists turning talk to crude, insulting, malnourishing or neglectful treatment of the participants and their surroundings in search of the most popular or profitable product to thereby wield power and influence. Vile and hectic as this is we cue the dialectic in which the antisocial tag is found attached to the wrong party, for the partygoers should deliberately seek out the counsel of the corner-lurking poopers and homebound no-shows, who must strive not to let self- or others-imposed excommunication fester into hatred or fear, for help and empathy is the secret if unknown desire of that wild-eyed shouting circle of speakers, even when those speakers are only the voices inside oneself.

There is a physical science yet unwritten that charts, catalogs and predicts social behaviors in terms as lucid and sweeping as those that describe the why-won’t-today’s-youth-study-it sliding of point-particle-blocks down frictionless inclines while attached to strings wrapped around pulleys and connected to other point-particle-blocks hanging free above the ground and that leads to more interesting inventions but that will also limit itself by continuing to deny personal agency. A problem with computers that raises questions as to whether they are the pinnacle of technology and seems to have eluded the genuflective future-dream-purveyors is the inevitable limitation of top-down programming, that technocratic tyranny over data by coders which is recapitulated from institutional societies which now live by computers. We are encouraged to treat ourselves as the objects of a predefined framework that quickly and efficiently creates products and services to reap the largest possible gains for those crafting the programs; like data we are not to question our strengths or perform foreign tasks but follow clearly delineated if-then statements and laws of probability and fulfill their prophecies. Emphasizing the fastest speed, as in the biennially televised worldwide racing spectacles of various flavors and great fanfare to national anthems for metal medals, leads to impressive results but scorches out in its white-hot pace the mysterious inner state of wandering contemplation. A job quickly finished is a job ceasing to offer anything interesting or edifying to its performer save reward-stimulus groove-cruising. The creative quest – creative in reference to any field so long as one stops to respire the air of the pasture before taking the scythe to its stalkblades – contains within it the fascinating churning-together of energetic storehouses built of interflowing transmissions of substances inside thoughts embodied to be expelled and swapped, forces and exchanges only profaned by bookselling self-encapsulating fadwords like meme and qi. These sympathetic terminological attempts to terminate discussions inherently fail to speak for the eternal urge to unchart and uncatalog for a life less predictable that is so internationally anathemic that the world collapses because of its denied impulse.

Satyriasis, that ineffable pull which pools by crystalline clockwork into those regions that couple flesh and flesh between reconjoined boxcar-children of Saturnalian shag-shenanigans public and private and in both cases pubic with privates is only the beginning, in more ways than one, as amore’s sway is won multifariously. Few seek sex with the motionless prostrate and unresponsive, and few want to converse thus either. Yet even as we bemoan the banes of a booming populace we celebrate the surplus of statements and self-summarizations billowing through broadband-irradiated bedrooms, boardrooms and barista-boutiques. Postnatal superfetation fetishizes a finger-pressed promiscuity that would birth the neglected children, hearts atrophying for want of love as with stomachs for want of food and brains for want of contact, of the nether regions’ satisfaction, so surprised we ought not be if the logorrhea-literati leave us languishing litanies of blank-faced and flies-flocked thoughtspring forgotten and forborne from growth and play and talk with other brainchildren. No prophylactic sheath inhibits the broadcast dispersal of chatter and updates and no tantric discipline discourages quickied commentary committed by habitual impulse rather than a concentrated effort to create pleasure. We have so much unadopted orphan prose and ideas incubating in central libraries stuffed with texts abandoned in our absentee sprees of one-liners and media-intake inquiries and exchanges that in our funereal jetski wake we leave an undocumented trail of bodymind-pollution perhaps as insidious if properly inspected as the plastic-wrap mountain-peaks in landfills.

Let us spur on those alienated from these prolific orgies to abduct participants at every chance for all manner of penetrating and invasive probes, for forced glimpses into fantastic worlds. The abductees’ coolstream friends may ridicule and laugh at them, but they will never forget the encounters if we do not hide who we are. Our skin may or may not be the same color, but multiculture means more than variegated integumentary pigmentations. Our music and exotic spices waft also through the scene from demeanor and attitude when unsuppressed by terror of inassimilability. Translations let us grasp at an understanding, but to delete the precious nuances of our native language is to kill the sacred internal literature. Pay heed to the drive toward smoothing out subject and personality into official accepted language, whether that is the way the broadcast surrogates speak or that is the way the whitecoats speak or that is the way the three-piecers speak. Refer to Orwell’s language politics to elucidate the self-destruction of standardized speech, remind yourself of the sci-fi tingle-thrill you get from the beings who stay wise, intuitive and wondrous, cede not your inalienable right to alienness, scoff off the green card application and do your honest work within the territory that was your birthright before the pillaging wrought by the manifest destiny of the gunpowdered gold-diggers. Think on where the translation is leading as it reaches away through the interpreting friends and family and cohorts toward patterns rastering through screens and oscillating out of speakers on the command of commercial voodoo chants of circular polloi-pleasure principles, and think of people you know who act as a reflector to you or your surroundings, and what each is doing to and for you.

People who have fun at a party are a peculiar array of mirrors tilted toward a light source shed not from various wax-encrusted candelabras encircling the room as once may have been but now from a shared fluorescent flood so far above the receivers that its flickering tube – powered by some distantly centralized monopoly energy producer – cannot be discerned. Each looking glass bounces a mutual appeal to an enjoyment which is not so much inherent and intimate to the self as it is ideally extrinsic to all participants, as the joy is in recognizing the consonance of extreme actions with those images with which all are familiar – is someone smiling in a photograph with pals, is someone drinking until vomiting, is someone dancing and singing to music that is either widely in fashion or roundly ridiculed, the very things for which there is abundant and readily apprehended language to later share one’s exploits. If an atmosphere can be captured in an advertisement, that is the dread indication that the scene is dead, corrupt – observe the fermentation merchants and the electronics marketers, how their visions of drunken amusement and slick sleek satisfaction so nigh approach what the young hurricane pint-pounders do and the middle-aged windbag wine-swirlers chat about. To parrot gadgetry selling points as the talking points of putative original insight is as dehumanizing as it is to ape the excesses of the perfectly pictured party bros. Or, if it is not dehumanizing, the implication is that humans need not aspire to more than the interlocking functionality of the machine circuitry they prize: this may be true, but as historical experience shows this leaves them vulnerable to the purposes of that programming team working 80-hour weeks for closed-source projects of questionable but unquestioned intention and value.

One thought of school holds that unemployment is a fitting conclusion to academic degrees of separation such as English literature and philosophy that have little worth to the modern economy. Yet note how this false truism inverts the typical approach to resources – whereby we work with what we have to shape how we live – into the admonition to shape yourself to match some certain need of a preordained schematic diagram with very little direct interest in whatever personal value you might otherwise develop. Presumably the reason so many like books and thought is that they are peaceful and expansive ways of relating to other people and achieving refreshing insights and do not involve working long hours performing repetitive calculations to enrich large industrial conglomerates, and maybe this widely accepted proclivity among the young could assert itself into an economic radicalization entailing the use of people as they wish to use themselves and changing the worldly arena into a realm for interchange of ideas and feelings rather than papers. Oh, yes, less productive, in the expectable way the claim will be contested, but the uneconometrized asset of books and thought is that they enable satisfaction without nearly as much productivity in the expectable way. Here again we return to talking, following the innard jogglings of the nervous outsider toward intimate shaky divulgences instead of conversation-meshed mashed pabulum, exhorting the recasting of the confabulation from covered-up fitting-in toward fabulous open dressing rooms with bizarre and flamboyant outfits designed by a flourishing vanguard of liberated artistes of the scheme, of the word, of the vision.

Retake the scene.

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