Read All About It

Apologies for the radio silence. To say things are hectic is lowballing it. From August 1st I will not be working for 3 months. Put simply, I’m exhausted. Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually even. Some days I dread walking into the building, to a job I once loved.

My inspiration is gone. I am very good at what I do, but now I do it mechanically. I’ve become obsessed with making sure my guys can waltz into any position they want. I want my brother and mother and sister and now nephew to be proud of me. I feel responsible for all those I know who cannot work, who can’t defy the demons and limitations forced upon them. I don’t want to die the way my father did; but everything I’m doing holds a mirror up to him.

He cared about his guys but couldn’t bridge the divide when it came to his family. I didn’t really know him at the end, but my impression was always that we withdrew to the point of implosion. Pushing with some vision of an ideal that couldn’t help but crumble.

The consensus is my stepping away is a good decision. One of my guys is taking over from me, and my faith in her is unbound. I have faith in so many people, but deny it to myself. She tells me that its time for me to start thinking about myself.

Part of me is afraid I’m putting a bullet in my career. At least I know that I’ve been judged on my performance, rather than any machinations or schmoozing, and I haven’t been found wanting. Yet again, I’m not engaged in any way I’d describe as healthy. Given the panic attacks, manic freakouts, paranoia, forgetfulness, suicidality, and seizures; I could easily be signed off on medical. I want to take a sabbatical because I don’t want to be a victim. I don’t want the company to pay for me while I’m not working. Sitting at home playing video games would consume most of my time, because I would assume the role of a patient.

‘The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates’. A great many debates can coalescence around words like that. Thomas Szasz said many things, but this stuck with me. Remaining passive, a victim of bastard luck and circumstance, rather than asserting your moral right to exist on your own terms. I can’t always get my head around the principles of the Mad Pride movement; but I engage with the notion that “We” have the right to our own cultural identity. That we’re bound by similar threads and so have a right to highlight and explore the potential therein. I’m kooky enough to think like a Mutant, to want what the X-Men have, because their stories help me quantify my experience of my life and the world we all share.

The immortal Christopher Hitchens described how his father claimed his service during the Second World War constituted ‘the only time he knew what he was doing”. I’ve always felt that about the Clinic. 13 years ago; a teen who nearly sheared his spine leaping from a bridge. Once I could limp from the orthopaedic ward I was transported to a place where I was surrounded by people who understood, one way or another. We talked and we ate together. We played music and made art together. No topic was off limits, because if you can’t share in your darkest hours then all you’ll ever know are shadows.

While we’re dropping names and paraphrasing, I’ll recall something Brody Dalle said in an interview with The Face about 4000 years ago. Her interviewer lightheartedly called her insane. Dalle retorted: ‘sometimes I feel like the most sane person in the world.’ If you’ve ever been in any positions like mine, you’ll get where she was coming from. I don’t want to pontificate or stake a claim to some hidden truth or grand narrative. I’ll say that when you’ve cut down to the bone, the meat and the seed and the rot of it all gives you some perspective.

I have a little time to assess and recreate. I’m going to travel a little, often on a whim I hope, because spontaneity is something I’ve defied. I want to see things, I want to attempt adventures and meet new people. And reconnect with those I’ve missed, for one reason or another. I want to write and I hope you’ll find something worth reading. Because I want an audience; ego does come into it of course, but also because I’ve been told I might have something to say. And, I hope, it’ll prompt people to say something back.

I want to leave y’all with something for now. It says a lot. Some art bleeds from the edge between inspiration, emotion, power and truth. Art like this:

 

Until now I’ve been fortunate enough to remain ignorant about the existence of the Anti-Pickup-Artist Movement. Now the blanket coverage of Elliot Rodger’s spree killing is going to contribute to his “iconic” status, and throw searing white light onto the misogynistic subculture he slithered out of.

I’m not going to post any links to his videos or collected writings, including his interminable 141 page magnum opus “My Twisted World”. Every drain is clogged up with this; testaments to a ‘…sophisticated gentleman’ cheated by a universe in which women have minds and a mouth isn’t just another hole to fuck them in.

Friday’s brutal events have thrown Rodger into sharp relief. Nothing in his posts is particularly original – common garden self-pity, misdirected rage and blame, desperate attempts at self-aggrandisement. Finding like minds isn’t the quest it used to be, and PuaHate seems to have established quite the circle-jerk.

Its worth noting that their URL has gone 404. Pulling down the blinds – online that’s some hard shit to swallow, especially in a Rule 34 universe where one can probably find an analogous, pornographic rendition of Rodger’s spree. There’s far too much darkness clinging to this, and hopefully the oncoming debates and discussions and campaigns will offer pause to those within the seduction community, who’s language and discourse offered context for Rodger’s warped perception of the world.

The blame game always comes up short. The pick up artists didn’t kill those people. Rodger did. Some stories want to make hay of Rodger’s Asperger’s. Inevitably, mental illness has risen in the mix. Any explanation for how the moneyed son of a successful film-maker, living it up Santa Barbara way comes to murdering six people and injuring 13 more. Something you can wrap up nice and tight, something distinct. But given that Rodger’s own words barely manage a superficial insight into his motivations, any wait remains in vain.

Defaulting to cynicism and misanthropy can be counterproductive and foolish. Still, people can and will surprise you in some truly awful ways. Tragically, you’re sometimes not surprised at all.

Lithium Flower

Choice is your weapon. Belief is your weapon. No one can hurt you if you remember that you have been through the worst and you were not broken…

 

Ultimately we are fortunate enough to live in a godless universe, which harbours neither a particular care nor a omnipresent contempt for us. Probability is the highest resolution.

My radio silence has come from an unlikely chain of events which have led me to have what appears to be a career. At the very least, I’ve wound up in a situation where people are counting on me, and its taken up most of my runtime. As the months have rolled on, its all coming together into something I’m a little unnerved by.

Life.

I’ve never been the “I told you so” sort, but sometimes you hope and pray the patterns you’re seeing won’t come together. And then they do. I still believe in Icarus, but tested in the real world, the London Project has stalled. I won’t say its died, but what has kept it vital and alive has faltered. I have my own thoughts on the how and why, but I’m a little shy about sharing them, even here, in a blog I’ve always demanded be open and honest. My reasons come from my respect for others, because Icarus brings people together, and I cannot – will not – speak for us all.

One thing I have come to realise in the past 6 months is that I can no longer compartmentalise my life. Activist, employee, friend, son, brother, uncle, lover, hater, bipolar, epileptic, mutant, augmented, bisexual – epithets are necessary and inevitable; but I realise that the extent to which I try and live up to them is too much. When they slap a mental health label on you, it grants you a potent standard you can march under. But I’ve taken it for granted my whole life. Cast it as my defining characteristic, the stellar matter around which everything else must coalesce.

Broadly speaking, this is correct. But rather than allow a single aspect of my experience to become my fulcrum point, I should be trying to give expression to everything I am. For too long I’ve held off making choices or taking risks because of the perceived costs and potential, negative consequences. However I have been unable to avoid pain and misery even through such an approach, so why should I cut off any potential, positive ones too?

Risk always carries value. Sometimes you’ll wonder if the cost you’ve paid is too high, but at least you have learned something. What I have come to learn is that I can’t predict the future. The patterns I see are not always on the money, and when they are, they do not represent the whole equation. I have an input, I can make a contribution which affects the outcome. To be afraid is not a bad thing. Believing that you cannot do anything but be afraid is.

 

Visions come to prepared spirits…

 

I’m not 100% sure what this all means or where it leaves me. I have to make decisions and face consequences I think. Throw myself in rather than dip a toe. I have to think of myself as a person rather than a platform for an idea or disorder or abstract. The simple fact is that there is always hope, always truth and revelation and never any decent reason to remain on the sidelines.

 

Transitions

Today’s Daily Mirror features a two page story on a British transgender couple who are waiting to receive confirmation of their respective transitions before getting married. The Huffington Post also carried this story back in July, as part of a thoughtful and insightful feature published on Gay Voices.

My friend “A” recently completed her transition. We first met nearly two years ago when she was still a he, and had come into the store looking for books on gender identity and sexuality. Previously I’d only ever met one other transgender person: the recently reassigned husband of a man I was in hospital with. Given the strife this had put on the latter’s marriage I was (and remain) impressed with the confidence and candour with which A is able to discuss her experiences.

It would be idiotic of me to claim any expertise on this subject. For any true insights into the lives of transgender people and their loved ones, I heartily recommend gendermom – a mother’s blog about life with a trans daughter. For my part I have to wonder about my comfort with this issue. I come from a working class background lacking what you’d call progressive ideas around status, race, identity and sexuality. I’m confident that my family members who denounced blacks and faggots would struggle to even grasp the concept of someone born into the wrong body, even struggle to devise suitably offensive epithets.

Unfamiliarity breeds contempt. Contempt, suspicion, fear…a whole litany of negative responses. As kids we’d belittle and tease one another by calling each other gay. Its a cultural thing, and as with prejudicial attitudes towards the mentally ill, its likely to stem from a lack of contact with, and questions raised by, people of certain dispositions.

The Brothers Hitchens queried the validity of the term ‘homophobia’ on several occasions – stressing that a more literal reading of the word’s etymology is “fear of the same” as opposed to fear of homosexuals and homosexuality. Dear departed Christopher would run with this theme, noting how often homophobia rises from a doubt and disgust within the homophobe. Spectrally such doubt and disgust is common in transphobia and psychophobia – if their gender identity could be misaligned, what about mine? Could I hear voices too?

I often come back to a long ago conversation with my aunt. Mass immigration is a hot potato in these parts, and she was bemoaning the number of african families moving into the area. ‘I want ’em out’ she told me, ignoring one particular irony – one of my families’ best friends since my uncle’s 70s childhood is “Black Tony.” I pointed this out to my aunt. ‘Oh that’s different. That’s Tony.’

How would things be if we had  “Gay Tony” or “Trans Tony” or indeed “Schizophrenic Tony” in our lives? Everyone in my family knows  my story and diagnosis, and yet its all wary eyes and awkward shuffles when the topic comes up. Even as a simple statement; a matter of fact in a conversation, with all the emphasis and drama of someone announcing their transition from full fat to semi-skimmed milk.

Perhaps some would argument that because mental illness can have fewer, conspicuous traits (for example mincing or removing your dress and becoming a bricklayer), its harder to get a handle on, and know how you’re “supposed” to respond. Everyone gets depressed, but not everyone dresses like Freddie Mercury, so demarcation is complicated.

An obvious solution to this is to treat us like people. Easier said than done, but once the step is made positives aren’t hard to find. Young couples like Jamie Eagle and Louis Davies, Arin Andrews and Katie Hill are cases in point. These news stories don’t invoke the spirit of the freak show – sure they’re curiosities, but the emphasis is on people finding themselves and young love.

‘In May 2010, Jamie was diagnosed as transgender.’ This was the only part of the Mirror story which made me wince. The ‘D’ word. I’ll admit I have developed a particular sensitivity to clinical terms used in certain contexts – maybe Miss Eagle’s eyelids wouldn’t bat at all. Language assails us in different ways, and I immediately recalled how the Blessed APA no longer consider being transgender a mental disorder.

Curiously another part of this story drew my attention – the couple are from Bridgend County in South Wales; a part of the country regrettably known for its high suicide rates. I’m not drawing any connection here. I mention it because, as part of my own particular disposition, I see patterns and peculiar associations everywhere. Bridgend was a place I used to pay special attention to.

That this was the only negative I could find in the piece – one drawn from the quagmire of I – is a source of something approaching optimism and reassurance for me. Some kind of signal that our culture isn’t collapsing in on itself; folding into something rancid and inherently dismissive of the rights, needs and simple truths of the individual and those important to them.