Thursday, 17 January 2013


I don't know what I believe in. That's probably a feeling rather than a reasoned appraisal, but perhaps that's even why it calls for being broken down.

Because I do definitely believe in expressing your feelings. If it isn't then it as least feels like the most recent addition to the ideological arsenal, or perhaps promotion, and has yet to have been truly checked out against repercussions in the world of action that for some people seems to pass for all of life.

My precious stability, that I had never taken for granted and had in fact always eyed warily, is more or less completely gone. But this is a stability that has had less to do with emotions (or as deeply and directly), than with ideology.

I don't know if I believe in analytical journaling. I don't know if I believe in blogging to four people. I don't know if I believe in cataloguing events, or the mood and dysfunctional thoughts journals. I don't know if I believe in my idea for a fantasy story. Some of these things raise more antagonism than others, but I'm suspicious towards all also because they are part of a counterintuitive drive to express my emotions.

I've been fighting a struggle. I've been measuring progress, on-and-off, since journaling began until letting it go a little with the spontaneity with Ella. It's still there in the background, and occasionally I've returned to it but I've not really updated it. I don't know if I believe in it either. I'm no longer sure I'm doing a good thing by trying to engage with the world, to integrate myself in it.

I don't know what is a good reaction to anxiety. I used to have a tonne of opinions. I don't remember them and I don't know if I'd still accept them. I don't know how important it is for me to make pretend I'm independent. I don't know how important a social life is, and where the distinction exactly is between that and friendships.

I probably started this in a better vein. I believe in expressing myself. I believe in love. I believe in fairness. I believe in intellectual independence, and in the dangers that lie in letting your ideology be determined by your surroundings. I believe in historical study, as well as in art, and individualism in general, as means to assist in identifying these dangers and avoiding them.

I believe I am sick, but I also believe that this sickness arises out of a socio-political phenomenon it is mistakenly conflated with. I believe that I perfectly healthily feel a variety of things more intensely than is appropriate in polite society. I believe in my right to be this person, because he is me.

I believe in some kind of interconnectedness of all things – some kind of metaphysical reality that justly attracts the devotional emotions of the religious but doesn't necessarily countenance – or isn't necessarily reconcilable with – the moral prescriptions they associate with it. I believe that what I have so far understood of the Tao Te Ching, comes very close to creating a coherent and compelling conception of meaning. Walking in the Tao – embracing simplicity, emptiness, and a pigheaded refusal to defer to more rational, "sophisticated" methods of going about things – inherently brings you closer to the world, and makes you a more harmonic part of it. The theory is that as people in the world become more "one" in this way, the world will come closer and closer to its harmonic ideal, or what the monotheists might call closer to God. I don't know how distinctions between humans and other animals factor into this. I don't know what that implies about death. But I do feel a sense of mission, and am doubtful about death being the end of absolutely everything. Something else is going on in a human life beyond chemical reactions and neurotransmissions.

I don't believe in the Protestant work ethic. I am unequivocally opposed to the notion of wage-slavery, though I realise there are not better ways around at the moment for me to get my livelihood. I don't believe in success. I don't believe in the pursuit of all fields of knowledge as equally important. I believe in the importance of doing people good; I suspect I might be able to contribute something in the form of written messages to the public, whether it be as a historian or as a novelist. I also believe it's okay to just find a job you're comfortable in and to try and do people good in more general ways. I believe in my right to leisure, and to not be overworked (as two separate rights).

I believe my depression. I don't want to deny outright the possibility that psychiatrists have found out useful things about depression, though I'm doubtful, but with me it seems fairly clear that it's an indication I'm going down a road that would lead to an almost certain and probably suicidal midlife crisis. I believe it's telling me my belief system is fucked up. Last time around, I fingered tribalism, traditionalist obedience, and competition (or winnerism, I suppose), as full-fledged members in the axis of evil, there joining adolescence favourites such as conformism and moral relativism. I believe it may be time for another detoxification.

I think it might have something to do with the more elusive ideology of competition – that the elite deserve their place and the downtrodden deserve theirs and that we should strive to join this blessed elite and ensure that this striving is perpetuated. It's pervasive and perversive, turning human relations into a kind of game where the stakes may be high but the attitude towards them frivolous, at least by the winners. All's fair in love, business, war, and politics, especially when what really matters is who wins rather than what is achieved. I am fully prepared to be considered a loser in all these games, but I have never fully considered my attitude toward actually becoming a player.

Losing in things is easy. Allowing rejections to hurt you is hard. Especially when the cause of the rejection is your hurt. Pain is required to demonstrate its reasonableness. Its tolerance in the face of willpower. If your pain is judged to in fact be of manageable levels, you're not a person in pain, you're an idiot. If your pain is judged to stem from unimpressive sources, it's not actually agony you're feeling, it's stupidity. I'm relatively okay with taking hits at my intelligence, because I feel fairly secure in it and the people implying this mainly seem very strangely impolite, but having my pain denied is soul-crushing. I cannot stop myself from giving credence to the idea. If a tree falls and crushes a man in the forest and no one is around to see it, does he still feel pain?

I believe in emotions. I believe emotions are all there is to people. Everything else is tacked on. I believe that every human interaction that does not deal in genuine emotion is a huge missed opportunity to do something that is not profoundly false. Everything else is a diversion; everything else is technicalities. Necessary, perhaps, but not meaningful.

I believe that the sick need care, and I believe that I am sick enough to justify far more intensive care than I am getting, and far greater leeway for recovery. But it's probably a stretch to expect emotional disorders to be treated properly before emotions themselves are.

I believe that belief has turned more into a motif than into the systematic kind of exposition I had in mind, but in retrospect I'm not sure the problem is a collision of values. It's the demands of a drastic lifestyle change. It's the question of how to go about expressing pain. Again I don't know how to wrap this up. That might be a good place to start. An expression of pain that doesn't pretend to fully explain itself.

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