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The mistreatment

It is like self-injury, or is self-injury. It has been happening since Reeducation said (or seemed to say, or communicated) I did not deserve to be enjoying life as I was, to be in as good health as I was or to have achieved the things I had.

I should stop following any Reeducated recommendations.

I should also give myself credit: I am working on something now that throws almost my whole life in my face. I could: give myself credit for this on the one hand, and on the other remember that objectively, it is just a little project.

I feel healed now.

But the mistreatment has a payoff, namely, that one gets to become ill, and to recover. (That is as though one only deserved a nice day as compensation for suffering. It also means one is convalescing instead of living well. The cycle is: self-injure, convalesce, repeat.)

That means it is a strategy for hobbling. And I would love to see what I would be like, and what my life would be like, unhobbled. But on the other hand: if I were only self-injuring moderately, I would not notice it and others would not, but I would still be undermining myself. It is almost as though I had magnified the phenomenon so as to be able to see what it is.

The destructive aspect of being ill and recovering: one does not get to do the things one could do if well.

The constructive aspect: one gets some time to think, time to see what underlies, and time off the straight and narrow (because otherwise one is doing what one should and what is correct and practical … since what one wants does not appear to available or attainable …).

The straight and narrow path I seem to be rejecting by engaging in self-harm: doing as one is told.

What I would like: not more obedience but rather, the vista of life unhobbled, life without self-harm.

My problem, still, is still about granting myself authority of any kind, and allowing myself to be at the center of my own life.

Why do I engage in self-harm? So that my mother will love me. Which I need her to do since I need her shelter.

But my mother is dead.

I must reoccupy good living. When I used to live well, treat myself well, enjoy life, be good to myself, do things during the day that advanced me, it was not because I was on the straight and narrow but because I was on the path of pleasure.

I would like to see what life is like without this. Not just a few days — I do manage that often enough — but months on end.

Yet it still feels as though Reeducation had killed the person who did so many beautiful things, the subject of those acts.

But one of my friends signs all correspondence, “Onward.”

Axé.

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Can we see this here? A question

There are many video and streaming activities I cannot yet make work in Linux. I must learn how and the instructions I am finding, are not working. Do you have Linux? Is there a Linux users’ group in your area?

Axé.

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That incredibly low self-esteem

This was what that psychotherapy got me in touch with and said was the real me, that I needed to come out of denial about being. It is true that as a small child I was very ashamed of being such a deficient and also inadvertently mean person. I was afraid of being thrown out on the street if I made any further errors at all, or if I did not manage to function entirely at the service and for the pleasure of my caregiver. I knew that nobody else would put up with me, and my death on the street would be long and painful. I was willing to give a great deal of myself in exchange for avoiding that.

All of this is true but in contradistinction to the views of my Reeducative therapist, it did not mean I could not grow out of it, or had not already grown out of a large part of it. It did not mean that all the things I had done in spite of this were illegitimate, illusory, or fake.

“Do you mean you are going to take more of a stand, rather than remain silent? I pride myself for being able to glimpse in a person that elusive quality of heightened awareness. YOU ARE TRULY BRILLIANT, GOD DAMNIT. Please just admit it.”

It is difficult to do that because it would be to say I am not like the others. Yet I notice that many others are as imperfect as I and they still allow themselves things. I also note that not only am I not unintelligent. I am also not all that unhealthy, or all that cruel. It is not mean to say you are an individual, or to disagree with others, or to have high standards, or to experience joy. These are things people have said, but they are not necessarily true.

Sleeping the sleep of the guilty. Waking up in the morning already screaming at myself. Spending most of each day trying to stop, trying to talk myself out of that point of view. How to limit this phenomenon by some measure that does not appear to be a disciplinary measure?

How to be kind? (For many years I woke up happy and sprang up, and slept an innocent sleep.)

Axé.

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And two or three post-points, or, “I just wanted to bask in your brilliant mind,” as my friend said

The other thing the academic advisors do not understand is that quality of life does matter and should in fact come first. Any philosopher would tell you that. If there actually are people who only care about publishing certain books and teaching at the tertiary level and can do this well in any circumstances and at any personal price, then that is well and good, but it does not follow that people who are interested in the life of the mind more broadly, and who do want some quality of life, are “not serious enough” or “not interested enough” or are seeking great rewards beyond the interesting nature of the work itself. The moralistic finger-shaking of the academic advisors assumes and recommends masochism if not outright self-hatred, and I discern that it is where I get some of the self-hatred I do not enjoy.

And the problem I have been having with this paper is that I have not been following my own advice, which is to write a page a day, and read after going to the pool. This has always worked for me for everything, since the sixth grade. It was when psychotherapy asked me to use that writing time to write endless confessions and workbook entries that I stopped — not just because of the time it took but because what I was writing was the systematic dismantling of myself as a person.

Also, people refuse to recognize that I suffer because of these years of dismantling and the result, which is a very difficult life, and not because of a mysterious genetic disease to be corrected with pills. “If left untreated, symptoms of clinical or major depression may worsen and last for years. They can cause untold suffering and possibly lead to suicide,” says one source I am reading now. I would say, if not treated in a competent enough way. I would like to get through to somebody on this.

I seem to be impossible to comprehend since I am in worse pain than people recognize yet not as neurotic or deluded as they appear to expect. I keep saying that living well and getting to the root of things is the answer, whereas they seem to be more used to people who only want to ease suffering and accept limitations. It is as though one had only two choices: (a) be  unhappy, yet functional and (b) be disabled to one degree or another. I may be yelping more than the people in either group, but I do not think I am ultimately in as bad shape.

But I am also just out of practice, and I keep forgetting. I always slept, and I always went to the pool, and I always wrote a page each morning and read each afternoon. I always had a clean house with groceries in it, and I always had recreation. The idea that these habits were mere “coping mechanisms” that were helping me to “remain in denial,” and that I should lose them so as to be able to “feel my true feelings” is so ludicrous … and if it had been presented to me directly instead of insinuated slowly, I would have laughed.

There were other things that happened in that psychotherapy as well, and that were similarly ludicrous, but that I absorbed because I wanted to stand up to standard academic advice and did not dare. So the idea that I was working on Vallejo for really dark reasons (darker than my actual ones, which are dark enough in their way) became something I considered because in fact I wanted to do something different with the project than what I had been told I must, and I did not quite dare to take my own academic advice.

And the issue has always been the lack of kindred spirits, and that is why it is important to be where there are some, and not to back down on this. People hated Rebecca Schumann for saying that but I think that is a sign of poor mental health on their part, not on hers.

So I will allow myself to be a grown-up and take my own advice, and write a page every day, and read after going to the pool, and sleep, and have recreation. I will live as I did before, yet even moreso. This is what it means, in the immediate term at least, to be good to oneself – even if the question what can I do for ME today? inspires the spontaneous answer of putting the house on the market, packing up and driving to the Santa Monica Pier, and even if my most successful colleague recently did just that without a job to go to, saying “Anyplace I could live would be better than here, including under a bridge.”

Also, every time I write about the past I say it is the last time, but it keeps coming up in different ways. That is why I wanted to move to a different life; contemplating that darkness is not always useful although the darkness of the dark needs to be combatted. What I would like ideally is a time during the day or week to think about that, and to live well and in the present the rest of the time.

It is as though I were refusing that, living well in the present, because it is only a first step. I will not be satisfied with the results of the first step and I will be asked to be satisfied. Perhaps I can go ahead and take that first step if I also do not require myself to think it is enough.

Axé.

 

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Extraits d’une lettre

“Do you mean you are going to take more of a stand, rather than remain silent? . . . I pride myself for being able to glimpse in a person that elusive quality of heightened awareness. . . . YOU ARE TRULY BRILLIANT, GOD DAMNIT. Please just admit it. . . . “

That is from someone who writes every year or two. I met him long ago when I had just started my depression; he asked why I had it and I said it was because I had contracted self-hatred from psychotherapy. We are both unmoored primordially for reasons having to with our translucent mothers, and for this reason we understand each other. Today I explained that the reason I am not at the top of my field ni mucho menos is that I am constantly trying to limit my intelligence and awareness so my mother can love me and I can survive.

It is constantly confusing to me that if you are not highly intelligent and high achieving you will not get tenure and will be thrown out on the street, while at the same time if you do have these characteristics, your mother will not love you and will throw you out on the street. I never knew which path to choose, which one would give me the longest run.

But this excruciating childhood dilemma is the reason I have wanted to get off the straight and narrow, away from atmospheres in which things had to be approved, to other atmospheres where they might simply be lost or won. I suffer with academic research and writing in my original field because for me it is about obedience, approval-seeking, and honorific writing about great men. It is definitely not exploration or learning or assertion or expression or the advancement of knowledge. These associations are what I have against it.

It is interesting to see these things. It is encouraging that do not feel the same way about the field I moved into, and that I would have moved into sooner if I had not followed (or tried to follow) the most conservative academic advice. But thinking about Vallejo — not thinking about him, but having to produce something about him — throws me into this really negative and desperate space, where I must write something meaningless and inferior to survive and at the same time, I may be exiled for writing anything at all.

Both options are so deadly and also so do not have to do with my actual life. Qui écrit? I have writing difficulty to prove to Reeducation and to my mother that I am more than a coldhearted scientist and that I therefore deserve to survive, and also because writing meaningless and inferior things for the sake of survival is such a dismal prospect. Who else can I be? In contradistinction to what my father sometimes said about what he was writing, I do not think that what I have to say is meaningless or inferior. I would also say that the idea that one is writing to survive is too much of a distraction.

“Do you mean you are going to take more of a stand, rather than remain silent? I pride myself for being able to glimpse in a person that elusive quality of heightened awareness. YOU ARE TRULY BRILLIANT, GOD DAMNIT. Please just admit it.”

Axé.

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An important comment from Clarissa

Discipline will not do anything useful with [the problem of self-sabotage and self-hatred]. Just the opposite – it will aggravate the issue. Discipline is a form of masochism, a symptom of self-hate, and you can’t eradicate self-hate with more of the same.

And, I suppose, it is because of this that I have such an issue with academic advice. Also, what is the difference between having “discipline” in a positive sense and forcing yourself to do something? Why is it that love notes work so much better to get me to do things than warning notices?

And a related point: we are supposed to produce good products, yet at the same time we are advised to mediocrity. I remember this from school, constantly being told that the most important thing was to make deadlines and avoid controversy. Then, when finally I decided I must make a serious effort at my Ph.D. examination in English to make sure I would pass, I was told I really ought to make that kind of effort more often because my work was very good and people did not know it, since I did not give myself the chance.

Later there was that moment at the ceramics studio where the teacher took me aside and said, you have been improving as slowly as you could manage to do for years, but you have been improving and you are now quite good. You must stop treating your work in such a casual way.

Being good to oneself: something I usually thought was only possible in foreign countries or late at night, when nobody would know I had taken a break from suffering.

Choosing what one likes: something I thought was not possible for me. I thought that for me, the only possibility was choosing what seemed best from a pre-approved list. Also, it seemed to me that my first choice would always be denied, so the key was to choose the second least objectionable activity from the pre-approved list. This is why I have difficulty knowing what I like, or rather how much I like something or not — and to what degree I am doing something by choice, or out of interest in its intrinsic nature.

Waking up in the morning and saying, what can I do for ME today? This, again, is something I normally consider impossible, disallowed, during the day in the United States. In a foreign country were I cannot be seen from here, or while others sleep, I can of course consider these things, and I could here if I were independently wealthy. But I consider that while here and visible, what I must do to survive is prove each day that I am NOT putting myself or my own work first. This, of course, is what must change and this weblog is my form of psychoanalysis and is here to change this very deep training.

#OccupyHE

Axé.

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On teaching, and on how one is seen

I have become faculty advisor for the secular students’ alliance, an important organization because it creates a space in which secular students can be secular. It is not so easy here because they face ostracism from family and friends and some are not in a position to come out of the closet, so they need the group. I have decided supporting them is an important teaching activity.

I was chosen mostly because it was considered I was one of the few faculty members daring enough to be out to the university as a secularist. I was also informed that I have strong opinions and am able and also willing to defend them in an articulate manner; and that I see through manipulations and lies, and call people on these fearlessly.

I thought it was all quite interesting since on this weblog I present myself as one who does not stand up for themself and who fears speaking up. (The students do not know, of course, that after I make my brilliant public speeches I have private crises — but still.) All of this was very instructive, as was another research related love note I received today.

I do note, nonetheless, that in much of academia, what one must actually do is hide one’s views. Practicing this most of the time — despite the days on which I make my impassioned speeches — is detrimental to research and writing, I find. I have been told that one should channel all one’s actual views into what one publishes, and hide these otherwise, and I think many people are trained to compartmentalize things in this fashion, but I am not.

#OccupyHE

Axé.

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