Restart

Some realisations wait in the wings; quietly murmuring their lines until some mysterious stage hand points towards the lights. An aroused audience of one bristles as our player stumbles across the boards. Flowering at last, a bloom of gestures and revelatory dialogue which can tranquilize or incinerate with a pyroclastic fervour.

Its been quite some time since I’ve posted on this site. Sat down and tried to fulfil the promise and purpose of this little domain which I long ago intended to discuss the aspects of, and issues around, “my illness.” A nebulous term which draws its authority from a peculiar and potentially dangerous branch of pseudo-science. Considering bipolarity a disorder has never helped me. Lithium reigned me in, though I cannot say that there isn’t an alternative method for equalising my moods. To my great shame a vein of cowardice – or worse apathy – makes it unlikely that I’ll ever seek one out.

Epilepsy has given me a metric by which to measure the pathology of my psyche. Epilepsy is quantifiable. EEGs can demonstrate wiring faults as effectively as any halfway competent electrician. The MRI sketches poured over and waved triumphantly above the heads of psychopharmacologists appear to suffer from an a certain object impermanence. Traction subsides, and the diagnoses and treatment plans of every mental health professional I’ve ever encountered comes from defaulting to a sort of conventional wisdom; perhaps characterised by instincts which would be familiar to Witchfinders General.

The last 36 words aren’t necessarily dismissive. Perception is everything after all. If you treat bipolarity as an illness – if that helps keep you as healthy and happy as can be – then that is the reality as it applies to you. My experiences (within and without mental “illness”) have instilled a Ballardian appreciation of unreality and dominant fictions of the world around me. The recalibration of my mind and moods comes from repeat attempts to calculate and reconcile the contradictions and inverted logic of the suspicious and deliciously perverted “real”.

From here on in, my thoughts and attempts to make my way through this world, will hopefully hinge upon a more conscious appreciation of these dim repressions. The human body is a mechanical wonder driven by powerful and adaptive OSs. To drive the mechanism onwards, to maintain its inward integrity whilst engaging with competitive systems, requires flexibility and mutation. Consciousness, the imagination, the psyche: all crucial constructs which can neither function nor exist within fixated boundaries.

The query has become: how do I function? The query has become: why do I function? The query has become: how and why don’t we function the same?

More Palettes than Many

No two people can inhabit the same world. Beliefs, opinions and prejudices distort reality the way mass warps the path of light. Circumstance can mean that, though we might agree that chair is red; it’s green to someone with a specific form of colour blindness. They may concede that an absence or dysfunction of long wavelength cones in the eye causes deuteranopia; but ultimately to them, the chair is green.

I’m no philosopher and I’m certainly no scientist. I simply cannot escape the significance of an analogy like this. The chair is green in the subjective. It is only red by consensus. Let’s find an alternate dimension where deutans are in the majority – now what are you sitting on?

Colour Blind Awareness states that, globally, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women live with some form of this condition. 8% of my gender live their lives with dissonant chroma. My cousin ranks amongst them, as did my maternal grandfather. That we’re not inundated with stories of cars piling through traffic lights because of misread signals is deeply encouraging. A mutation which could dramatically impact upon the day-to-day of a great many people has become well managed and almost completely anonymous.

In 2005 researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne used multidimensional scaling (MDS) to explore ‘the colour dimension that is private to the deuteranomalous observer.’  The study emphasised an important correlation between “colour normal” and deuteranomalous observers – that they are both formally trichromatic (requiring three primary lights to ‘match all possible spectral power distributions.’) Despite the differences in colour perception, there is no inherent deficit or dysfunction:

 

MDS studies of anomalous trichromats have, however, always had a phenotypic bias: stimuli have been selected to be discriminable for the normal observer and the anomalous space has typically been found to be contracted compared to the normal. Such results reinforce the categorization of anomalous trichromats as ‘color deficient’, but this represents the viewpoint of the majority phenotype.

Interestingly the study refers to a potential evolutionary advantage gifted to anomalous/alternative trichromats. Research suggests that the efficacy of camouflage is threatened by ATs, particularly when it resembles natural foliage or terrain. Food sources and predators may become easier to clock; practical applications expressed in some primate species. Genetic drift may have allowed such individuals to make an advantageous contribution to our earliest, socialised ancestors. Hunter/gatherer parties including, though not wholly comprising ATs may have been ahead of the curve.

As expressions of the worth and wonder of re-thinking how we determine what is and isn’t a disability – as well as opening eyes to the potential benefits of any “anomaly” – discussions of colour blindness offer a delightful elegance and simplicity. Clearly, on the spectrum of what we consider disabilities, disorders, diseases…et cetera, not all animals are going to be equal. Issues will never be (ahem) black and white.

All I would say is consider the alternatives whenever you consider or encounter anyone with anomalous expressions or characteristics. Maybe you’ll find yourself ahead of the curve too.

Black Eyes

Here I am treading carefully. Trying not to stroke that much-thumbed fetich (paranoid psychosis) in the context of what I’m typing about; although I do have an almost preternatural focus on any tenuous form of synchronicity, so I guess this effort has already faltered.

Let me start again.

As a child of the 1990s, many of my formative years took on a paranormal hue. The X-Files had captured the popular imagination, and pre-millennial tension encouraged a resurgence in “New Age” philosophies and practices. Many people, frequently well-meaning and credulous, took such things to heart; and fostered enduring fascinations within their sons.

Their son recently encountered the ‘Black-Eyed Children.’ Not literally of course, because this rather delicious urban legend is tenuously weighted in reality. Often what repels or intimidates us births our keenest curiosity; and so it is with me and home invasion tales. Alien abduction was my greatest fear as a child; the certainty that I would be teleported from my room the second the lights went out.

Mysterious children, sometimes teens, arriving at your door and attempting to gain entry to your home. “Just let us in. This won’t take long” is a classic gambit, delivered in a hypnotic monotone. The intentions or actions of BECs remain unclear, should they ever cross your threshold. Similarly the rationale of two teenage girls, stabbing a third to appease the entirely fictional Slenderman, is desperately unfathomable.

Fox News took statements from locals regarding the normality and seeming balance of the attackers and their families. With little explanation or justification or causal links, we are again bereft; stranded with the knowledge that sometimes there are no reasons. Or that reasons defy anything rational, anything quantifiable. True horror comes out of sight, and I feel enormous sorrow for all of these children; victim and perpetrators.

Anthony Cotton, attorney for one of the attackers, remarked: “She’s 12 and she has mental health issues,” […] “There’s no questions that she needs to go to the hospital.” Those of a more Icarus bent might frown at the apparent self-evidence of this point. Clearly intervention is necessary, but such tragedies have occurred before and will unfortunately occur again, and it is foolish (dangerous even) to attempt to tie things off like this. No neat bows will get this done, though naturally Mr Cotton’s evocation was far more strategic.

I’ve been distracted I’ll admit, but the backlash against sites like Something Awful and Creepypasta has been relatively muted. And to their credit, Creepypasta posted this heartfelt, sympathetic and dignified statement on June 3rd which I urge anyone concerned about freedom of speech, net neutrality, self-expression or basic goddamn humanity to read:

Statement on the Wisconsin Stabbing.

 

Meat Free May: Continuance.

And so to you, the first day of June. At the start of Meat Free May I would’ve anticipated things to resemble 30 Days of Night by now.

Truth is, I’ve really enjoyed this whole vegetarian thing. Correlation don’t always equal causation; but I do feel better, and I haven’t missed eating meat in any way I might have expected. So many things have changed in the last few months, and diet is always one you need to look at. I’ve been looking at mine and I think the less animal parts the better.

The month may have ended, but the donation page will be online for a little while longer. Thanks to everyone who’s supported this, one way or another.

Namaste.

Meat Free May: Tobago – An Angry Post about Endangered Species

Nothing lasts like a little context. From a charitable perspective, my primary motivation for signing up for Meat Free May comes from a certain revelatory moment about the impact farming and fisheries smack down on the environment.

My hotel balcony offers a breathtaking view of the Atlantic coast. I could vault over the bannister, drop a floor and limp to the water’s edge all within a few minutes. where grass surrenders to sand their is a sign explaining that this private beach moonlights as a hatchery for the island’s three principal turtle species.

The Green Turtle (chelonia mydas) principally concerns itself with seagrass and algae, though the fates consider viral tumours and the inevitable poaching to be worthy considerations too.

The Hawksbill Turtle (eretmochelys imbricata) carries a distinctive bill and a taste for certain corals, sponges and invertebrates which promote levels of toxicity within its flesh which can be fatal to humans if ingested. Because humans can find any reason to slaughter something beautiful, crafts made from their shells apparently justify their reaping. Combined with the degradation of marine habitats and ‘incidental mortality’ from fishing; the hawksbill occupies pride of place in the crosshairs.

For some reason the story of the Leatherback (dermochelys coriacea) resonates with me the most. That any species is endangered is an outrage, but the Leatherback’s demise would deprive us of something truly unique.

Besides being the largest of all modern turtles; Leatherbacks are the fourth largest reptile behind three renditions of crocodile. They have occupied every single ocean on the planet, often as far down as 4000 feet, and have been doing so for the better part of 100 million years.

For scale; and to demonstrate how fucking despicable some people can be.

You’ll note the distinctive ridges and leathery shell (hence the name) this twisted abuse of oxygen is obscuring. Lacking a traditional bony shell diminishes their suitability for arts and crafts; and their size limits their predators to killer whales, sharks and us. Poaching during the nesting season contributes to their endangered status, but entanglement in fishing gear is yet again a critical threat to the Leatherback. Another entirely perverse danger to these beautiful creatures is ocean pollution – often suffocating plastic bags mistaken for the jellyfish which forms much of their diet.

This post has meandered and is far more incensed than I was anticipating. Proximity can do that – in the dead of night I’ve seen men stalking the beach from here. This could be entirely innocent – night fishing is a valued (and legal) practice – but suspicion is justified. Despite extensive education, legislation and committed enforcement; the fight for survival is undermined by a demand for exotic, seasonal delicacies. I can’t think of a more perfect demonstration of the importance of work by organisations like Friends of the Earth. From here, I could transplant something precious and rare from beach to bowl with comparative ease.

Responsibility isn’t an abstract. Its easy to forget that we can all remain informed and that we all have to make a choice.

Even the tiniest contribution can make a difference. Donations to Friends of the Earth are greatly appreciated.