Masking it

Americans are up against the greatest block to advancement yet–and we probably won’t get past it. Why? We are stuck in the rut of Rights. Rights to this, Rights to that, Rights, Rights, Rights. But with Covid 19 Rights are not approached–or perhaps passed right on by. What masks have to do with is Social Responsibility. Americans have no sense of social responsibility. My Rights. Me, my, mine. There is no sense of others. No Social Responsibility. We only see one side off the mask: it protects you against others. Put it on the other’s face and it protects them from us.

Mental Illness by Caveat

Mina and Jim

The dictionary defines “caveat” as: a warning enjoining one from certain acts or practices; or a modifying or cautionary detail to be considered when evaluating, interpreting or doing something.

The reason for this title will become clear not just from my tale but from the APA [American Psychological Association] directly. Shhh! Listen closely. You’ll hear the mice running around, playing. Nobody’s watching. They’re all asleep. The people are asleep to what’s happening to them. And the APA’s asleep to reality. Let’s not forget the APA sanctioned waterboarding and other forms of torture at Guantanamo Bay.

This is a direct quote from the APA: “The unreliability of psychological prediction of dangerous is now an established fact. Even under the best of conditions, it is wrong at least two out of every three cases.”

A psychologist’s answer: “We could do better with a role of the dice.”

And. . .there are no tests for mental illness. How can there be when mental illnesses are no more than loose collections of vaguely-defined problems of thinking, feeling and behaving. The noted labels aren’t coherent entities of any sort, just x number of signs out of x total possibilities. It’s like taking a multiple choice test where there is no right answer. No physical illness is diagnosed based on a conglomeration of some bunch of symptoms from a list of all possible symptoms. Let us not forget Typhoid Mary who had the disease and showed no symptoms; she carried the typhus disease bacteria and passed it along, creating havoc, yet did not evince any of the known symptoms of the disease. None of all possible choices. By the diagnosing standards of mental illness, she would not be ill–as she maintained all her life. Mental illnesses are nothing more than labels of no explanatory significance–and they are not even good labels as they are so vague.

I guess it’s all mental craps. Because what the APA is implying is that the “normal” population is more dangerous and, thus, the group of people who should be watched carefully are those normals. The normals are the ones dangerous two out of three times–and there is a Murphy’s Law coming up for ratification. There is also a political move to have everyone in the country tested for mental illness, child, adolescent and adult. Once. There is going to be one test administered during the life time of each and every person. This is ludicrous. But, then, when politics gets itself involved in matters medical, especially in a medical area of non-definition, the result is always ludicrous. The possibility of error in such a situation is unquantifiable. And, even on the individual level, there is no test that can elicit a diagnosis of mental illness, albeit the MMPI [Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory] can indicate if you may be in a depressed mood. Which, of course, does not indicate a diagnosis of mental illness.

Ergo, claiming the social mass shootings are due to the mentally ill is wrong; they are due to the normal in the population. What is known is that some of these shooters were taking anti-depressants because they were depressed–everybody gets depressed. That is, they were taking medicine known for making people more depressed, making people suicidal, making people aggressive and short on the fuse. Big PHRMA hushes up these news items because the open truth would hurt their multi-billion dollar business dealing in harmful and socially disruptive drugs. Better it is to create drugs that fuck people up and create social malfeasance than not. So that it is worth questioning why they would want to help and cure people? If people are asymptomatic, sales go down and that’s not good. No, no, no.

So, what’s the caveat here? Brain disease? There’s no such thing as brain disease. So, of course, there are no tests available to prove brain disease. Any kind of brain disease. When you are not ill, you are not ill; that is, when you are not ill, you are healthy; when you are healthy you are not showing symptoms; when the external stimuli are gone, so are your symptoms relieved.

Mental refers to what the brain does. What the brain does no one truly knows. Mental is your mind working. Mind? No one knows where mind “is,” if it is anywhere in particular. Thinking, too: what is thinking? Where are those thoughts? Point to ’em, won’t you? Feeling. Purpose, intention. Values, ideas, love, fears. Angst. Elation. These things, these mentals that we can’t see and can’t find and can’t define, these mentalities nevertheless run our lives. Terrance Deacon calls these characteristics “absentials” because they are “not there.” Because all mental functions are pointed toward some unseen end, they have purpose, which he calls “ententional”; that is, an ententional process–because the brain is all about processes–are expressions of finality, active processes going toward some end product that is not there as well. All of our living brings about some end or other. And if we’re all sick, suffering from a brain disease, what the hell’s going on? Shouldn’t we be able to define it? Specifically, not vaguely. How, though, can we define and delimit what isn’t “there”? Are we all delusional–including the testers and diagnosing people?

Because these mind-made things don’t have any physical presence, where in the brain do they arise? And where are they when they do manifest themselves? Where are they going? The people who have no feelings are the sociopaths, according to society. It sounds a lot like Big PHRMA doesn’t care what happens to people as long as they get their money, as there is no real reason for giving the medication sans disease. Once again, where’s the disease? (In your head.)

How can this be? The mind organizes and interprets and creates meaning out of other things, the chaos of the things of life, the life around us. Some of it we pay attention to and some of it we don’t. There is a floating choice; e.g., walking or driving we pay attention to the traffic, in the house we do not. That’s the brain’s job, to make sense of the world around us. That’s the mind working. But. . .where is “mind”? Even though it is intrinsic to the brain, it is, in fact, nowhere. As it is intrinsic to the brain it is mental; as it is intrinsic to the brain it is normal.

How can something that has no physical existence be classified as ill–or not? For illness relates to the physical: your body becomes ill, your heart becomes ill, your kidneys become ill. How can you have an illness of something that is not here, there and yet everywhere?

So, mental illness is the illness of the entire human world? Worldview? Aperception? A diagnosis of hallucination is given to people who experience things that are not “there.” Do we have a grand guignol of fundamentalist Buddhism?

R.D. Laing would say this kind or diagnosis is, itself, illusion but to be expected, for we live in a dysfunctional, abusive society. Thus the reasoning for diagnosing mental illness is part and parcel of the dysfunction and follows his three rules of an abusive society: “Rule A: Don’t. Rule A1: Rule A does not exist. Rule A2: Rule A1 does not exist.” Consequences? If you break a rule there is something wrong with you, you are insane, crazy, mentally ill. You are delusional because “everybody” knows it just ain’t so.

For instance, racism is abuse. Even with the obvious racism of certain peoples, the police, politicos, bureaucrats and the racial uprisings, all these social status quos maintain there is no racism. People who maintain there is racism are breaking rules A, A1 and A2. How fucking dare they! To the point that worthy news items are killed because they question the status quo, i.e., the abuse and dysfunction that is society.

So, then, who is insane? Who is mental? Who is mentally ill?

The caveat.

However, the consortium who made up out of whole cloth the DSM V have taken up the position that everything we do–the people, the lower sorts, everyman–is a diagnosable mental illness. Abnormal. Some of those deciders are doctors paid by Big PHRMA. Some of those deciders aren’t even doctors; they are health insurance representatives who are interested in a sick society because they won’t make any money otherwise. So, too, are the APA drug pushers. “Goddamn the pusher man!”

Ergo, all of the problems in society being due to the mentally ill, the elite status quo setters can continue to deny their culpability. Their abusive behavior. This kind of denial is a psychologically maladaptive behavior.

Brett Deacon, Ph.D. has succinctly set up a situation that is normal, everyday in psychological circles, showing how reactions to external stimuli become symptoms of a diseased mind in a mental world. And the Psychiatrists and Behaviorists just happen to have the medical cure. . .

“Therapist: How are you?
 
Client: My house is on fire!
 
Therapist: I’m sorry to hear that. How are you feeling?
 
Client: I’m terrified! My dog is trapped inside! All my possessions are burning! What am I going to do?
 
Therapist: I understand that you’re upset. What’s going through your mind?
 
Client: I can’t believe this is happening! It doesn’t seem real. It’s like I’m dreaming or something.
 
Therapist: Do you also feel detached from yourself or your surroundings?
 
Client: Yeah, I feel like I’m in a daze. You hear about this happening to people but never think it can happen to you.
 
Therapist: I understand. These are common symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder. It’s a mental illness some people experience in response to a traumatic event.
 
Client: What do you mean mental illness? My house is on fire! My dog is trapped inside!
 
Therapist: I’m not saying you have a mental illness, only that you might have one. We’ll have to wait two more days and see if your symptoms continue before we know for certain.
 
Client: What symptoms?
 
Therapist: Symptoms like feeling unreal and being in a daze, and other symptoms like having upsetting memories and nightmares about the fire.
 
Client: Aren’t those to be expected?
 
Therapist: It’s normal to feel upset when something bad happens. But if you have a variety of symptoms that last for at least three days, and they bother you, then you may be suffering from a mental illness.
 
Client: Uh, okay. But what am I supposed to do? My house is on fire! My dog is trapped inside!
 
Therapist: Let me teach you some skills for coping with your negative thoughts and feelings. If you are feeling upset, breathe slowly and count to ten while thinking “relax.” You can also tense and relax your muscles. Negative thoughts can be replaced by positive thoughts, like memories of funny movies or times when you were happy. You can also imagine your negative thoughts floating past you like clouds in a sky. 

Client: Okay. But what am I supposed to DO?
 
Therapist: Practice your coping skills like we discussed. And come back and see me for another session as soon as possible. 

* * * * *

Two weeks later…

Therapist: How are you?
 
Client: I’m devastated. My house burned to the ground. My dog died. I lost everything.
 
Therapist: Have you been feeling depressed?
 
Client: Of course.
 
Therapist: Have you felt depressed most of the day, nearly every day for the past two weeks?
 
Client: Since the fire, yes.
 
Therapist: Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy?

Client: I guess so. I used to enjoy hanging out with my dog, watching movies, and surfing the internet. But my dog died and all my stuff was destroyed in the fire.
 
Therapist: How have you been sleeping?
 
Client: Terrible. I’m staying at a friend’s house on the sofa and their baby cries all night long.
 
Therapist: Have you felt fatigued or had low energy?
 
Client: Yeah, I’m tired all the time.
 
Therapist: Have you been thinking about death a lot?
 
Client: I can’t stop thinking about my dog. It must have been horrible for him to die in the fire. I miss him so much and can’t believe he is gone. He was my best friend.
 
Therapist: Have these symptoms been bothering you a lot?
 
Client: What symptoms?


 
Therapist: Feeling depressed, losing interest in things you usually enjoy, not sleeping well, loss of energy, and recurrent thoughts of death.
 
Client: I guess. I’m just really upset and don’t know what to do. I lost my whole life in the fire.
 
Therapist: I think I understand the problem.
 
Client: What do you mean?
 
Therapist: You’re suffering from a mental illness called Major Depressive Disorder, also known as clinical depression. You reported having five symptoms that have persisted for two weeks, and the symptoms are producing significant distress.
 
Client: Wait a minute. I’m feeling depressed because of the fire. I’ve lost interest in doing things I used to enjoy because I can’t do them anymore because of the fire. I can’t sleep because the baby screams all night long. I feel fatigued because I’m not sleeping. I’m thinking about death a lot because I just lost my best friend.
 
Therapist: It’s normal to feel sad when something bad happens, like a fire or the death of a loved one. But when symptoms of depression persist and become distressing or interfere with your life, that’s when we know a mental illness is to blame. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Depression is the most common mental illness. It afflicts millions of people every year. And it’s not your fault: it’s not a sign of weakness or poor character. Depression is a brain-based illness caused by a chemical imbalance. It’s a real medical condition, no different than diabetes or cancer.
 
Client: I’m confused. Isn’t it normal to feel depressed after what happened? Why are you saying I’m mentally ill?
 
Therapist: Because your symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder in the DSM-5, our diagnostic manual. Good mental health literacy involves recognizing the symptoms of mental illness. In your case, that means understanding that things like depressed mood, difficulty sleeping, and recurrent thoughts about death are symptoms of clinical depression.
 
Client: So, you’re saying that thinking I am depressed because of the fire instead of a chemical imbalance in my brain means I have low mental health literacy?
 
Therapist: That’s right. It’s important to understand that mental illness is real, serious, and treatable. Understanding the facts about mental illness reduces stigma.
 
Client: It reduces stigma to say I’m mentally ill with a chemical imbalance in my brain?
 

Therapist: Yes. The best way to combat stigma is by having good mental health literacy. Understanding that depression is a real, treatable illness caused by a broken brain reduces stigma.
 
Client: But it makes me feel worse about myself to think my brain is defective.
 
Therapist: Would you look down on someone for having cancer? Would you blame them for being sick?
 
Client: No, I guess not.
 
Therapist: When people understand that you’re sick with a real medical condition, and that it can be treated, they will have less stigma toward you.
 

Client: Wouldn’t it be less stigmatizing to say I feel depressed because my house burned down and my dog died?
 
Therapist: But that shows low mental health literacy. Remember, depression is a biologically-based mental illness. And the good news is that we have effective treatments for it.

Client: What kind of treatments?
 

Therapist: Both medication and therapy can help. Antidepressant medications help correct the chemical imbalance that causes depression. Therapy provides emotional support and helps you learn coping skills for managing depressive symptoms.
 
Client: How do you know I have a chemical imbalance in my brain? Don’t I need to take a test or something?
 
Therapist: No, that’s not necessary. We can tell your brain has a chemical imbalance because your symptoms meet DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder. Although antidepressant medications are effective, they are only part of the picture. Many people respond best to a combination of medication and therapy.
 
Client: What does therapy involve?


 
Therapist: Therapy provides a safe space for you to talk about what’s on your mind each week. I will listen with empathy and no judgment and provide emotional support. I can also teach you skills for coping with your depressive symptoms. These include skills for reducing negative feelings, like slow breathing and muscle relaxation. You can also learn skills for reducing negative thoughts, like replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts and watching your thoughts pass through your mind like clouds in the sky. Having a good relationship with a trusted therapist is the key to success.
 
Client: What do you mean by success?
 
Therapist: Having fewer symptoms of depression.
 
Client: How am I supposed to have fewer negative thoughts and feelings? My house just burned down and my dog died!
 
Therapist: That’s where the coping skills come in.
 
Client: But I lost everything. I don’t know where to go from here. What am I supposed to DO?
 
Therapist: I will refer you to a psychiatrist for a medication consultation. Let’s meet again next week for another treatment session. You can book it with the receptionist when you pay for today’s session.”

(Cf. “House on Fire: A ‘Mental Health Literacy’ Parable,”Brett Deacon, PhD, for the full article and his comments.) Ergo, we are sick at every turn. Mental health caveat.

I can say no more.

teenagers’ costs

by Minna & Jim

What the pandemic has cost teenagers. – I hate seeing this fright headline, for what it has cost the teenagers is infection and either death or long term disability. That’s what the pandemic has cost the teenager by staying home, by not having school. And the fragility of life, the reality of the world not being here just for their enjoyment. The rest of the talk is just blather and very well may have been written by a college student who had not yet graduated from English 101, and the people who don’t wear their masks because it isn’t right, they’ll never die, people who have no idea of social responsibility because living is all about them and their enjoyment. It would be nice if all could have a near death experience. It would turn their heads around. Just because they’re young and vibrant, doesn’t mean they can’t die; it doesn’t mean life is here just for them, goddammit! So, really, the pandemic hasn’t cost the teenager shit.

Instead of bitching about it, try thinking of ways to make the time productive and they should stop relying on their fear-ridden mamas and papas and news reporters. Try beginning with: you’re not wearing the mask because of you, you’re wearing it to protect you from others, especially from others who don’t wear their masks. And look what happened in the 1918-19 flu: 70,000,000 dead in 1918. (I wonder how my grandparents made it through. Because they didn’t know of isolation, they didn’t know of masks.) Today, that same flu costs us over 160,000 deaths a year. Viruses seem to hang around.

Well, readers of the newspapers, readers who only see the damage, that is; whiners sell papers and get into people’s minds to the point that they’ll question fucking science and rationality. What has science done for you? You couldn’t dress yourself or carry on without out it, or see. But we’re so prone to blame China for “you name it” there’s no ability to see otherwise, that is, to see the truth. (Kansas was the cause of the 1918 flu.)

This dip into history is probably tiresome. I apologize.

I have a friend who, when she heard of the Corona virus (in the beginning), was excited, for she thought it was a virus that attacked a man’s penis. She thought this was great as there are so many male assholes it might make it easier to find a good one. She was terribly upset to find this was not so.

Essays here there

by Minna

I just watched Shadow & Bone—for maybe 20 mins. We actually got perhaps 3 mins of plot action, the rest was somebody’s narration. Narration, narration, narration. And totally unnecessary. BUT it is general lingo for US TV. The worse thing Netflix could have done was hire TV writers because they keep on with this; Netflix did right with Ma Rainie’s Black Bottom. Hiring TV personnel-turned-down writers would have been good; out of work playwrights; not present writers. Pretty soon, Netflix will become just another TV with a few highlights now & again. Awhile back, director Kurosawa said that American movies were far too much narration–& most of it not needed. There’s also far too much enlightenment rationale, something that would make Diderot happy but, really, has nothing to do with fiction writing—any art. The limitations of TV are showing up the worst of TV with Netflix MacDonald’s hamburger writing, repetition. . .

Afghanistan. . .one general remarked that we were there to help develop. What needed to be developed? Their culture is bad because it’s not ours? WE were the insurgents. WE were the invaders. What of captured munitions? Well, duh! They did it before—even with the Russians. Interesting that they can hold off the world’s greatest army (self-proclaimed) with out-of-date guns and no modern technology. An interest does reside in the private companies supplying food. All of those young males hanging onto the wings of an airplane, packed inside the plane are proof positive of Trump’s belief that all the young men will come running to the Taliban. Look at the number of Trumpsters who prefer to believe what their told over what they see! A bunch of stupids!

With regard to the selfish idiots in Lake of the Ozarks. . .I wish you’d hurry up and get the disease and leave us live ones room to grow. It’s people like this who don’t realize they are alive and unmarked because their parents had them vaccinated as babies. They have no social responsibility, either. Their depth of thought is me me me and any story they make up keeps them so as children. Golden Books is about the level of their enlightenment. There is Supreme Court law allowing those types of people are anti-social: who the hell do they think they are so supreme that it is good that they remain free of vaccination and those around them get sick. Their individual freedom does not come at the illness of others. Cf. 1905 Supreme Court decision (law). Maintaining their anti-vaccine is not worth others’ illness. We’ve already seen the contamination and spread of measles in California; via vaccinations, all but wiped out in the US. And polio is making a come back. Why?–read my lips—no vaccinations. No one of my generation has to list normal childhood diseases on their medical record. Why?–read my lips—vaccinations.

What I learned from B movie Westerns:- don’t lie. If you are lying at the top, the lie grows and grows until it becomes the raison d’être for the lawless Western universe. Usually it is about money. The liar’s name is pointed, like Beverly Gail Allitt, and she’s pivotal in hiding her boss Diabolos who boasts about what he can do but, of course, doesn’t do anything, which is how he makes his money. Kind of like an omnipotent primordial being, new and shiny. Beverly Gail Allitt it is who gets dirty but she doesn’t mind. She revels in dirt. The setting is important and the centre of the action, as if nothing bad could happen here. Like a Nossokoei, hospital. Beverly Gail Allitt is about to prove that bad things can, indeed, happen in the hospital. A sacrificial object, a patient named Terrian, who brings the villainy down on people’s heads is needed. Poor sacrificial lamb, she did nothing but die because of Beverly Gail Allitt’s lies. How sad. . .how. . .“I told you so.” It is Terrian’s friend, John Smith, who is the hero. He uncovers the eviltry and sets the trap that catches Beverly Gail Allitt and shows her to be the liar behind several deaths. Diabolos lets her go in order to salvage the situation. This is expected, for Diabolos must remain clean—as clean a possible. He must work to clean his tarnishing away. John Smith then goes on his way: there are other grounds to set right.

This kind of deviltry happened in Jimsecor’s town hospital, forcing him to take drastic steps—bringing in the big guns to forestall calamity.

What I learned from alien landings: we really aren’t interested in other life forms. Kill ‘em all! Our insanely out of date military is enough to bring a life form that flew million’s of miles & therefore shows a superior capability. . .kind of like Afghanistan where the lower military held off, for 10 yrs, the superior US military machine. Cf. Jack Nicholson’s The Aliens.

As long as we push an oxcart along filled with Math and science we’re never going to have any kind of knowledge or understanding (however small) of history and people, those study areas called The Humanities. Jimsecor got his PhD in history and the arts—both US and Japan, with history (another Humanity). Let me bring this home to you. . .some girl writing after a year or two in Japan call herself an expert but writes of detective (nonexistent, this role was given to an already lawmaker-established government samurai). But he cannot forgive the horse riding. The Japanese samurai did not ride horses but for war. Horses were beasts of burden. Even worse: she had her horse rider ride through the back streets of Tokyo that were, in fact, not passable by horse much less by two people side by side. What a bunch of stupid agents to suck her writing up as being expert! She’d have to have read about these facts but, alas, she didn’t. And why bother? The agents are as ignorant and, therefore, miss the excitement latent in history, in running through the town and the countryside with a people who hated the law that kept them down. But she must be onto something, for Jimsecor’s well-placed, historically correct excitements do not sell. So be it. Moby Dick didn’t sell, either.

Anti-abortionists seem to believe that having an abortion is destroying a wanted life. Perhaps it would be better if the abortionists’ heads were slipped into the prongs of a probe and yanked out and held high for the highest bidder. Extreme. I don’t talk of this but Minna suggested it might be about time. The first child was a pill baby; the second baby was an IUD baby. We were both in school for the third. Neither of us wanted a child, as you can imagine, so she was on the pill and wore an IUD. We got pregnant. Again, we were trying to make sure we did not get another child and ruin our lives, ruin the childrens’ lives. The pill is only 90% effective; the IUD somewhat more. And some extremists dare to believe both are abortion-makers. We had an abortion—and then I went and had a vasectomy. Oh!–what joy it was to make love without any worries! Abortion-haters need to step back from themselves and the Trump ideology and the all-or-nothing fascist belief: if life is so very important to you, why are you not raising the unwanted children that you are stuffing down people’s throats? The pill was, once, damned near free (as it should be) and every woman who wanted it could afford it without robbing her children of food. Venom, you bitches! If you’re really interested in life, adopt the unwanted. Give them a life—A LIFE!–that you deny, for I didn’t want a third child and took every control—some of you use them, I’m sure—available and would have filled our lives with poverty and no possibility of advancement. We’d get thrown out of our house to live on the streets. I’m old now; she died, so did the child you forced on us. You should be arrested for murder. And me? I thank you for nothing. You self-satisfied cunts!

Little Things We’ve Learned

Minna and Jim

I just watched Shadow & Bone—for maybe 20 mins. We actually got perhaps 3 mins of plot action, the rest was somebody’s narration. Narration, narration, narration. And totally unnecessary. BUT it is general lingo for US TV. The worse thing Netflix could have done was hire TV writers; Netflix did right with Ma Rainie’s Black Bottom. Hiring TV turned down writers would have been good; out of work playwrights. Pretty soon, Netflix will become another TV with a few highlights now & again. Awhile back, director Kurosawa said that American movies were far too much narration–& most of it not needed. There’s also far too much enlightenment rationale, something that would make Diderot happy but, really, has nothing to do with fiction writing. The limitations of TV are showing up with Netflix MacDonald’s hamburger writing, repetition. . .action in chunks of 10 minutes because you then must have your mandated sponsorship, though propaganda is a better word.

Afghanistan. ..one general remarked that we were there to help develop the country. (Make it more “American”? We are a very racist country with no respect for foreign social functioning or language. We are not subtle.) What needed to be developed? WE were the insurgents. WE were the invaders. Captured munitions? Well, duh! They did it before, too—even with the Russians. Interesting that they can hold off the world’s greatest army (self-proclaimed) with out-of-date guns and no uniforms. An interest does reside in the private companies supplying food. All of those young males hanging onto the wings of an airplane, packed inside of the plane are proof positive of Trump’s belief that all the young men will come running to the Taliban.

With regard to the selfish idiots in Lake of the Ozarks. . .I wish you’d hurry up and get the disease and leave us live ones room to grow. It’s people like you who don’t realize they are alive and unmarked because their parents had them vaccinated. Vaccinations were required before you could start school. Measles was wiped out unfruitful you antivaxers fought for your right to not have vaccinations—and make others sick. You have no social responsibility. Your misguided arrogance (freedom) was shut down by a 1905 Supreme Court decision. Your depth of thought is me me me and any story you make up keeps you so as children. Golden Books is about the level of your enlightenment. Don’t you remember how you helped kill off Indians?

What I learned from B movie Westerns:- don’t lie. If you are lying at the top, the lie grows and grows until it becomes the raison d’être for the lawless Western universe. Usually it is about money. The liar’s name is pointed, like Beverly Gail Allitt, and she’s pivotal in hiding her boss Diabolos who boasts about what he can do but, of course, he doesn’t do anything, which is how he makes his money. Kind of like an omnipotent primordial being, new and shiny. Beverly Gail Allitt it is who gets dirty but she doesn’t mind. She revels in dirt. The setting is important and the centre of the action, as if nothing bad could happen here. Like a Nossokoei, hospital. Beverly Gail Allitt is about to prove that bad things can, indeed, happen in the hospital. A sacrificial object, a patient named Terrian, who brings the villainy down on people’s heads is needed. Poor sacrificial lamb, she did nothing but die because of Beverly Gail Allitt’s lies. How sad. . .how. . .“I told you so.” It is Terrian’s friend, John Smith, who is the hero. He uncovers the eviltry and sets the trap that catches Beverly Gail Allitt and shows her to be the liar behind several deaths. Diabolos lets her go in order to salvage the situation. This is expected, for Diabolos must remain clean—as clean a possible. He must work to clean his tarnishing away. John Smith then goes on his way: there are other grounds to set right.

This kind of deviltry happens in small town hospitals, too.

What I learned from alien landings: we really aren’t interested in other life forms. Kill ‘em all! Our insanely out of date military is enough to bring a life form that flew million’s of miles & therefore shows a superior capability. . .kind of like Afghanistan where the lower military held off, for 10 yrs, the superior US military machine. Cf. Jack Nicholson’s The Aliens.

When Jimsecor was digging around for cruel women for a story, he ran into mass murders of children by women—far more than the men of today.

Psychiatric Errors in Judgment

by

Minna vander Pfaltz

In a commentary in The Psychiatric Times by AR Greenburg, MD, “Delayed Suicides of the ‘The Forgotten Battalion’,” he makes numerous errors in judgment and, even, of psychiatric assessment. Including the ridiculous, “at home, they enjoyed satisfying family and social lives, good jobs, and excellent educational prospects.” This comes after noting that all of these listed items were problems from the moment they landed; and it comes in the face of reality. Especially that this author–and by extension other psychiatric practitioners–has not read much that’s been written outside of medical journals, as if such were not worthy. He should have tried Vanity Fair: William Langewiesche, “How One U.S. Soldier Blew the Whistle on a Cold-Blooded War Crime.” Well, Vanity Fair is only about fashion and vanity, no? But Dr. Greenburg has not read Joseph Campbell or Otto Rank or–here comes the vanity!–Jimsecor’s own A Note Upon Returning, which is available online.

But it is not Dr. Greenburg’s utter ignorance of the socio-cultural world that awaits any returnee, military or not; as psychiatrists ignore the socio-cultural world their patients live in and must deal with. Not so surprising: RD Liang noted that psychiatrists don’t listen to the insane because, well, their world is “made up” and they are, uhhh, insane. What have they got to say that’s worthy, eh? Their experience, Dr. Greenburg, their experience. They are living it. You are not. You even deny their experience.

No. My comment on Dr. Greenburg’s self-important judgment resides in the first paragraph of his commentary:

In 2008, the Second Battalion of the Seventh Marine Regiment was deployed to root out an entrenched Taliban occupation of mountainous territory in Afghanistan. The environment was unremittingly harsh; enemy resistance implacably fierce. Combat conditions couldn’t have been more unfavorable from every strategic and logistic perspective. The battalion was strung out in small outposts like the frontier forts and outposts of the Old West Indian wars. Viable connecting roads were virtually absent. The Marines endured daily attacks on their positions as well as close engagements with the Taliban in nearby villages.

Dr. Greenburg’s implied assessment of this situation is that the US Marines were right and the people who lived there were wrong. It is this assumption that I find putrid.

How can people who live somewhere be wrong in defending themselves against invasion?

Answer: they can’t.

And the Marines should have expected this as they, themselves, would protect their own turf. The insurgents, the threats to American security, were none such. Those people were protecting their own life, their own ground. It is the Marines, America, who invaded the land. It is the Marines who are the insurgents. It is the Marines who are threatening the people’s security. Yet, it is the Marines are a passive military force filled to the brim with the necessary propaganda that makes it okay for them to kill and mutilate and engage in inhuman behavior. As they are “a few good men,” they would not cotton to such an assessment. However, it is truthful. A predecessor of Dr. Greenburg’s, Erich Fromm, would have the same opinion Jimsecor and I have, albeit not as caustic.

The Marines were (are?) engaging in the story of the British in South Africa dealing with the slaves: punish all for the one until the one breaks for freedom and then shoot him or let him become the object of everyone else’s anger at being punished for his infraction. In American society, we do this all the time in the name of justice: we punish everyone for the sins and infringements of one or two, of the few. This is a violation of the Constitution and all manner of Freedom: all are guilty. You must prove your innocence and, even if you do, nothing will change. . .because the bad guys are still out there in your midst.

They will ever be within or amidst.

Which is why guerrilla warfare is almost always successful and invites making everyone pay for the few, regardless of whether the many support or agree with the few. More likely, they do. But not everyone is a hero; not everyone is a fighter.

America has fucked up the entire Middle East. America has made us hated. And, more to the point, America doesn’t give a fuck.

Which is why America, even down to the smallest unit, the family, doesn’t give a damn about its returning soldiers. Thank you for protecting us, serving the US, is not enough. Thank you for your legs and arms and PTSD. Put a bandaid over the gaping hole and wonder why they continue to bleed, wonder why they take the suicide way out. No one who has not suffered to the point of death could understand.

Life is not easy. Everything around you is new and unusual. Everywhere you go, you are inappropriate. How do you let go of the long lived fact that everyone around you is an enemy? Where the hell are your buddies, the people you depended on for life and liberty?

There is no one to talk to. And no one wants you around, for adjustment to–re-acculturation to American life is so damned difficult and you’re so outré. They–anyone who has been living abroad for a long time–are foreigners, they are not American any more. How much more so when you’ve been out killing people and defending yourself against those who want to kill you? And you see the same slaughter that you saw abroad, though people call it isolated and insane and, thus, play the denial game: mass murders. How do you live the good life when all around you are not only people who don’t care but people who are killing, killing, killing and demanding that this, via a perverted interpretation of an Amendment, is a right? Who the hell are they defending themselves against?

It’s just possible these soldiers, who are instruments of government/national intrigue and conquest, did not suffer from PTSD until after they returned to the America they thought was right and mete and would be their safety net. They are all considered heroes even though they did nothing other than protect themselves, aggressively or not. Heroes are not often welcome upon their return (cf. Joseph Campbell and fairy tales).

Psychiatrists don’t listen–hell! they don’t listen to themselves! As evidence, AR Greenburg, MD. Priests don’t listen. Families don’t listen. Friends don’t listen. America doesn’t listen. It’s too busy running after one or another of pablum offered to assuage lost self, lost identity.

A Note on Returning

by

James L. Secor

After years of travel, wandering in foreign lands, I returned to

My home—or so it was called, this place I grew in, and left for adventure,

But, in fact, was not my home, not a real home, this place I recognized

Showing little change for the years passed but now an effaced place of people living

In cells, cocoons isolated and without touch from other cocoons

Without touch—had touch been reduced to a sin, a perversion, human

Made to be inhuman?

True, a face was on it, all pasted on as

Hollywood, political smiles are, the stuff of cartoons, eyes dead in

Faces of plastic doll heads blurting sound bites of recognized syllables, but

All empty words divorced of any emotion, devoid of sentiment.

So misleading, hearing I behaved, as social, civilized man might and

Became an inappropriate one, my conduct that of a foreigner, lost in

My own land that truly was not my land, or my country, not my home,

Home being a place of welcome and warmth and support, with

Family and friends, but now no more than Odysseus’ isle of coldness and

Treachery calculated and so, fit only for a battle, a battle

I am too old to fight, too old to withstand the volcanic hatred

And killing, for surely some must cease breathing for life to once more break ground.

So I knew why, with more conviction than when I began my return,

I felt that I did not wish to come back to this, my country—a lost place

With no connection to me or anyone else. I knew there was nothing,

No life, no soul, no waiting arms open and welcoming, like the place

I had grown to love, with family and friends and support for a life

Far from the abuse and oppression of the people who called me their own

Only to find nothing had changed but everything had worsened and I

Was wanted less than I was before.

Literary Agents

by

Minna vander Pfaltz & James L. Secor

Literary agents are, according to the Confucian way of looking at society, the lowest of the low. They are of this ilk because they make their money from the hard work of someone else. Perhaps worse, they are con artists, for they not only charge the writer a fee for “representation,” they charge him for office expenses that also are a tax deductible item as a business expense–and then they charge the publisher for “finding” the writer. What a deal! Agents don’t have to pay for anything and they get paid whether they find a “home” for some writer’s writing or not: they try, they get paid. Getting paid for not placing a work, getting paid for not winning is like a boxer taking a dive for a bigger paycheck.

But their influence on literature in general is even more perverse, beginning with their focus on making money. Profit over quality. How this works is via a preconceived idea if what sells so that, in the end, so very many genre writings look alike. And it sets up a free-floating standard for judgment, aside from “is this going to make me money,” that has nothing to do with writing, nothing to do with quality. It has to do with the boxed learning of the college English major.

A college degree in English is a degree in literature. It is not a degree in writing. An English degree is all about judging literature by already well-established (traditional) memes and putting a writer’s work in its appropriate pigeon-hole. It is not about writing. It is about a surface assessment of a finished piece. How off-the-wall is this?

Let’s take Edgar Alan Poe. A writer of horror stories. A writer of the occult. A Romantic writer. A judgment that is off twice over. To begin with, these people have never read his criticism and satire, a far greater quantity of his writing. And, then, they have never gone into the depth, the many-layered manner of his writing. The Cask of Amontillado is a horror story, right? Well. . .it takes place during Carnival, so everything is turned on its head. Carnival is necessary in order to right, to some degree, the injustices of society. The story is also about his hatred of the aristocracy. And, if we consider his choice of names, we find a distinctly Medieval coloring that bespeaks an off-color humor.

So, does The Cask of Amontillado fit into the Romantic mold?

And where do you put Jane Austen? Her stories are, apparently, about romance but, in fact, they are satires. Where do satires fit?

The worst perversion is considering Shakespeare literature. It is not. It is theatre. It was written to be spoken. It was written to be heard. It was written to be seen (often enough his stage directions can be found in the lines). Take any of his plays off the stage and they are only 30% of themselves. While English majors go into fits of ecstasy over his use of English, they blast him for his bombastic writing. All of this beauty of language takes on a different hue when it’s spoken, spoken to someone else. Then what’s important is motive and intent. And these English majors don’t know the difference between monologue and soliloquy. Hamlet’s monologue, “To be or not to be,” is a soliloquy. It is a soliloquy because he is speaking, to the audience, his thoughts. The reason Hamlet is doing this is that he is making his motives known to the audience. It is not a much used device any more. A monologue is what you get in Shaw or with a manic you’ve asked a question of.

At the same time, no drama is literature. It is drama. It is theatre. It is nothing when it is not onstage. The things you can do with drama you cannot do with literature.

Where does Brautigan fit into this pigeon-holing? Cult lit? So, too, Kerouac, then? Cult is a really good place to put lit that bespeaks things critics don’t want to hear.

Judging something on its face misses the point. It also shows an ignorance of what’s known as vehicle. A literary vehicle is a story that is about something other than itself. Poe’s horror stories. Abe’s alternative realities. Kawabata’s Snow Country. Atwood. MacCormac. Hammett. Morrison. Apuleius. Eco. Borges. Le Carre. Gellman. Kingsolver. Pinker (his mention here is Manippean satire).

But agents don’t care. The intellectual quality of a work is not at point here. What’s important is what sells, what makes money. This makes of the writer a cabinetmaker. All he has to do is hone his skills for this particular thing and he’s in like flint. For some of us, writing down is difficult. For others, who the fuck cares! What you get is James Patterson. He does not write his books; he edits what a bevy of writers produce for him.

Because of this, the creative writing MFAs are only cabinetmaking schools. They’ve got rules, all preset by the English curriculum, and. . .how do you teach creativity? How do you teach how to write? How do you teach the difference between plot and story? How do you teach the non-traditional? How do you teach voice?

Most people don’t know what voice is.

Agents are not interested in the difference between plot and story, if they even know. And, as Natalie Goldberg and Ursula Le Guin maintain, there are no rules to writing.

Here is the major rule for writing: grab the reader with the first sentence, with the first page, with the first chapter. If true, then Atwood and Byatt and Borges and Fuentes and many of the early-20th century writers would not find publication if they were not already famous, for they do not follow this rule. Goldberg would say the agents are looking for MacDonald’s hamburger writing. And, indeed, there are agents who are interested in only seeing the first page or the first three pages or the first chapter. They will make a judgment on the viability of the entire book based on less than 1,000 words. Really, how the hell can they tell anything?

I’ve even run across a couple agents who want no sample. They will make their decision based on your summary.

What kind of shit is this?

Then there is voice. I know agents have no idea what voice is. Most English majors don’t really know, though they can talk about it in erudite language. Yet voice is a very simple concept: it is what your narrator/narration sounds like. The best example of voice in the US is Mark Twain followed by Hawthorne, Hammett, Kingston, Allende and Sweazy-Kulju. There is also Doyle and Byatt and Grandpa Trollope on the other side of the pond.

Voice is also with each and every character. They ought to speak differently: different rhythm, different sounding. Playwrights are good at this. Not so academic creative writing professors: everything sounds the same, both narration and characters. The head of the writing program at the University of Kansas writes like this. The oddity of it all is that she gets published. So, perhaps the agents and publishers don’t have any idea either.

But voice exists outside of literature. It exists in the tenor of the times, assuming you are writing a historical or historic fiction novel. In this case, though, it does help to read the writers of the age, which few do, it seems.

It exists in the roaming storytellers of old. It resides in Bunraku, Japanese National Puppetry, because the gidayū (narrator) does it all. And in kyōgen. It is easy to see here because it is foreign and very distinctive.

But in today’s lit? Well, if it sounds like everyone else’s, then it’s got voice.

Today’s lit is paint-by-the-numbers in a given frame. Doesn’t natter what you put in it, just as long as it fits. I have something like this: I hung an empty frame on the wall above the sink. In the centre of which I put a smallish iron butler with a tray of drinks. Black with white for apron, etc. So, what’s the story, eh?

The Future is Staring You in the Face

The Future is Staring You in the Face

by

James L. Secor

The future is staring you in the face. The serious social media is in denial, if, indeed, it has any idea at all, so intent is it in chasing after one crumb or another left by Hansel in Trumpty-Dumpty Wood. The frivolous social media is without thought or insight, babbling like a murder of ravens disturbed over some fresh roadkill. The academics, so over-filled with intellectual spasms labeled “other places,” remain in denial, despite the pop culture of the 1970s some 100 years behind the Old Country. It seems that only in America does pop culture have no effect on society and ethics and, as the Valley Girls say, “Whatever.” The pop culture machine rolls on, gold teeth and fangs drooling over greedy profits.

The future is staring you in the face. TV and movies. War and war and more war. Heroism to no end. Only via killing and mutilation and personal suffering of others can you gain herohood. No! Just by being a soldier do you become a hero. Enlist and go kill. Kill. Kill. Kill! All for the greater glory of America, a land so isolated from the rest of the world it has lost its hold on reality. More war to rationalize the cross-eyed destruction and lack of humanity already inflicted on the Middle East–let’s forget the hell America has wrought in South America, too. We are so righteous and glorious. America! America! America! It’s all so romantic. And overwrought. And ignorant.

Romantic. Out of touch with reality.

I’d like to say, “Remember Bull Run” but Americans don’t read and have no truck with history, whether of another country or their own. Bull Run. Site of the first pitched battle of the Civil War. The romance of the battle brought out not only reporters but spectators: ladies and gentlemen and children and servants. What a glorious picnic entertainment this was to be! The rebellious Confederates would surely be put to rout and the self-righteous Union Army hailed as heroes. Heroes of the highest order, fighting is they were for the rights of man. Reality often has a ghastly way of breaking in on silly dreams, especially those of the Three Musketeers sort of high ideals.

Go, boys! Go! Go! Go!

Within moments, the romantic wonder of war for what was good and right became the reality of dead, burnt bodies, shouts and groans of pain and dying, arms and legs smashed and severed, blood and smoke everywhere. What a salacious picnic! Pickles and dessert up on the hillside, death and destruction down in the valley.

And, to top it off, the Rebels broke through the Union’s mightier numbers! How could bad win?! Oh! Let’s go home. This war thing is terrible. Terrible. Suddenly, war was no longer romantic heroism in the fight for right–both sides fought for what they believed right. This kind of nullifies the idea of God on one side or another.

George Bush II made sure the realities of war, as made public during the Vietnam debacle, were hidden from public view by banning coverage. No more blood and guts. Only reports of good. Not even notice of the bodies of dead soldiers coming home, albeit in sealed coffins. Obama didn’t lessen the irreality; he increased the mayhem but kept the blood and guts out of the public eye unless it was to show the enemy creamed and in bad light. And every soldier was a hero. Every enlisted man. The war in the Middle East became a glorified Crusade.

Thank you for your service. Thank you for your missing arms and legs. Thank you for your lifelong pain, your PTSD. Thank you for the medals on your chests and your spiffy uniforms. My heroes!

All of our movies extol the suffering heroism of war. New additions to TV land extol the wonder and rightness and heroism of war. Comic books are about war. The superheroes are as vicious and vengeance-filled and virulent as the bad guys. The heroes stand victorious and bigger than life in the midst of destruction, ruined cities and cheering survivors because they are good and right and above it all. Novels of war and survival against all odds fill the bookshelves and Internet sites. Indeed, the ethic today seems to be, if you don’t agree with me I get to kill you. Die! Die! Die. You fucking bastard!

The future staring you in the face, the reality staring you in the face is War.

Great nation, my ass!

But, first, there’s the new Roaring Twenties. Everyone going crazy over living, living for the moment. Something lost in a true epidemic that killed seven million in its first year.

americans

by James L Secor

In 2010 I returned to the States. I did not want to; I liked China. Well, why don’t you go back? Is the first of several ignorant responses I’ve faced. Americans seem to like ignorant, self-satisfied reasoning. My father died. No great loss except to the abusive. The legal shenanigans surrounding his pitifully thin estate dragged on and on. And another American characteristic grew obvious. Americans are very litigious, the more so the less the take. And the longer this process goes on, the more the other person is wrong and “hurtful.” “I” am only right and seeking proper redress. Americans are forever right. Americans have quite an ego, which perhaps explains what they like to call their “stick to itiveness” a positive characteristic. Obstinate might be a better word. Obstinate and unable to let things go. Eleven years on, I am still bothered by certain elements of this case even though, in the end, there is nothing to be had. It’s the principle of the thing, they say. Vindictive? People like to bitch, not do anything about whatever. . .and then they wonder why nothing has changed.

Then there came retirement, retirement because. . .because there’s no other reason for not wanting an old man around. The same is done in China, it is true, but the skin off the retiree’s back is less. As a foreigner–and a writer–in China, I would still have some value. In the US, I have no value and it is held against me that I must access public monies for the poor in order to live. Especially so as I’m white and educated. Perhaps because SSA is not understood by nobody who reads any more so how would anyone know? Just bitch. It sounds better. It keeps you the victim. An easy part to play.

And yet, in relation to the world, Americans are arrogant. Arrogant fools. They think they are the best and have the best, often in the face of proof of just the opposite. Always in the face of greed. Money is worth more than life. As America is a monopoly world, it does not like competition or new technology. America has had no new technology in years; telephone technology is no more than another use for technology already in place. Business new technology is only a new twist for greed. I do not know why greed looks so good to the victim but it does, as if to say, “It’s all done for us!” My ass!

So, if I dislike this place so much, why do I not leave? 1) that’s a very Fascist attitude; 2) there is no one with enough money to pay my way to a country in which I could live easily and live well (donations accepted); 3) being a thorn in the side has its advantages; 4) there are no more Frances for displaced Americans to run to, mostly to continue their art. America doesn’t give a damn about art, good, incisive art. America likes the cliché. America likes the generality, the simplistic substitute for thought, which is why political slogans are so popular. Americans don’t think; they react. Reactionaries. They never prepare for the future, an upcoming event; they always wait until it’s too late and just react as if it’s a new and unknown thing. Discombobulated reactions.

The solution to problems is to get rid of them. Kill them. Jail them otherwise. Bad mouthing is always good as it gets everyone to hate them and push them to the side, read “out of sight.” This results in an America’s greatest behavior: denial. . .even as it’s being filmed. The biggest American problem here, in the face of it’s greatness, is racism. America is racist to the nth degree (no pun intended) and when there’s a rebellion, it will be like the French Reign of Terror: everyone is fair game. The greatest barrier to overcome is the police. Coupled with the military, this might lead to a military dictatorship. Throughout history, military dictatorships last for long periods of time–even quickly changing along the way. Always, of course, for the better, we say despite history, but oppressive and repressive all the same.

Racism and greedism and a fat head: that’s America.

A note to anti-vaxers

A note to anti-vaxxers:- Because of vaccinations you are here—here and unmarked. Ear pain may be a sign of immunodeficiency which can lead to a reduction of T-cells, the antibacterial fighter: no T-cells, no life. Urinary tract infection could end up kidney disease. Skin infections; doesn’t sound so worrisome, but considering children have little in the way of disease fighters, this could end up scratching until bloody, and then infection. Bronchitis, bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Generalized pain. Measles. Polio, the sugar cubes came in when I was 8 None of you will know this). Some of your parents & grandparents have no idea what these are “if they even existed.” Like you people. And boy children suffer the worst. Then there’re mumps and chicken pox–my brother had chicken pox so bad they were in his throat.

I had pneumonia at age 1 and was in a tent, not expected to survive. I suffered through measles so bad I now can’t catch any kind of measles. But I do have an immunology deficiency. It was not the painless childhood you’re handing your children.

What’s the difference between a few mild side-effects and life leading to death. If you don’t care, what about your children? You’re respon—no, your not, you’re not behaving with the least bit of concern for anyone else, especially your children.

For All You Chinese Haters. . .

by Minna vander Pfaltz

In fact, the US has outsources much to China: bullets, boots, wool blankets, etc. The US purchases such at greatly reduced cost. Even so,dunderheads, It’s not the maker who’s at fault, it’s the guy who pulls the trigger. But the US has been involved in a similar slaughter (of one person): he made “empty” bullets for the Germans and hid Jews; but because he was a party member, the US cheered his execution: Schindler.