Wednesday, September 15, 2010

10 Recent Abject Self-Realizations

1. This is probably the most internet thing I've ever done. The combination of the list format with public humiliation is pretty much what the appeal of this medium comes down to.

2. I am not entirely conscious of my behavior. "You're chewing on your mucus. Cut it out, It's disgusting," my sister said recently, and she was right. And I had no idea I was doing it. Probably a lifelong habit. For all I know, every so often I get down on the floor, take off a shoe and sock, and lick the sole of my foot. Maybe I do something worse. I don't know whether or not I want to know.

3. I do have a whole suite of behaviors that involve stretching and cracking joints that I do out of nervousness and in order to ease physical discomfort. But when I described them in writing, I realized that they were also dominance displays.

4. And in considering this, I realized that I couldn't think of any comparable sexual displays that I make. Those displays are no doubt occurring, and as I'm a person large and loud, they are no doubt noticeable. If I were to speculate -- and I guess that's what I'm doing -- I'd predict that there were persistent low-key submissive sexual signals punctuated by the occasional chest-beating, incidents that must have the effect of a noteworthy public crepitation. If you know me, tell me about this shit. Or don't. I'm dying of shame right now, and I'm alone in a room. I'm realizing that I probably do flirt, and I probably do it with the grace of a three-legged bison in a tutu. God only knows how I'd react if I actually knew about this stuff.

5. So far as putting my work out into the world goes, I am almost entirely passive. Every single public appearance of my stuff is the result of having someone ask me if they could use my work, or someone bullying me into making a submission to a third party. I thought the one exception was my appearance at the University of Bristol's DinoBase, but actually I sent stuff to them because I followed the blog of someone involved, and I regarded them as a pal, so when they asked for work, I had a vague feeling of having been asked personally.

The upside of this is that after I publicly stated that I was going to let the editors come to me? One of the editors who came just won the Hugo for editing. So it does work. For me. Sometimes and sort-of. But honestly, I'd do well to be more active in promoting my work.

6. I am an intellectual snob. I really do have an instinctive gut feeling that anyone who does not inspect their own tendencies toward flawed thought is a form of livestock. When I was bummed out by the fact that all of my fucking friends were crazy, I realized that I only associate with smart, funny, creative people, period. That's how it is. Normal people are animals. Usually they're nice animals, and I have more regard for animals than most people do, but still. That's kind of odious.

7. Speaking of odious. There are things that I've done while insane or intoxicated that have been hurtful or destructive, and that I take a certain obscure pride in. "That's how it is -- he's an instrument of mayhem." I work hard toward minimizing the chance of these incidents occurring, but the fact that I have to makes me feel like a tough guy on some level. This is both destructive and stupid. This is the kind of crap that leads a person to behave like Hemingway or Hunter Thompson. Fuck that shit.

8. Here's a juicy one. The passivity I mentioned above? It's pervasive in my life. A reluctance to take what I want. It comes from a period in my childhood when I was strongly influenced by The Great Brain books by John D. Fitzgerald. These concern a young con-man. Their message is that the lead character's ability to get the best of those around him alienates him from those he loves.

Of course, my response was to try out the con-man for a couple of years. What I found was that it wasn't cleverness that got you money -- it was a relentless thirst, combined with a willingness to do anything regardless of the effects on those around you. After grifting from my friends and family, I found myself -- get this -- alienated from those I loved.

So I flipped into the self-abnegating wretch you see now, one who feels guilty for accepting the crumbs you deign place before him. This has informed my life as completely as any other factor. I need to get the fuck over it.

10. I'm never gonna be at ease. Ever. There will always be nervousness, edginess, and a faint pervasive sadness. I just plain need a certain amount of discomfort in my existence and if life will not provide it, self-destructiveness and discontent will suffice. My resting state is uncomfortable.

I'm not saying that these kinds of things are the essence of my existence. But they are significant. And when you've got bad dogs, you want to keep an eye on them.

9. Since I've gotten crazier and better at my art, I've turned into kind of a flake. I used to be the antiflake, and now I am totally flakey. For instance, when I looked at this after I posted it, I found out that I'd skipped number nine.

Bad dogs!


The Missus: Are you having a psychotic episode?

The Oaf: No, I'm feeling a little guilty about falling off the wagon yesterday, so I was in an introspective mood. I didn't think it would bother you.

The Missus: You're ripping yourself to shit. Of course it bothers me.

The Oaf: I'm not ripping on myself. I have problems, and I need to keep an eye on them. Would you rather I had the problems and never thought about them?

The Missus: (Face goes blank, lost in thought, gaze directed past shoulder at middle distance.) Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe.

So that's it, folks. I'm following her advice and forgetting the whole thing. You may expect awkward gallantries and drunken hijinx to recommence beginning now.


Oz said...

3 and 4 were curious juxtapositions. Dominance displays and low-key submissive signals. "Interesting," she said in that clinical way and scribbled something in her notebook.

But overall, I'd say what you put here (with the exception of #2) is already evident in the blog posts. It helps to have spent two weeks with you in person to understand #7. Though really, you were on good behavior or had altitude sickness much of the time.

What wagon did you fall off of? the curious would like to know.


Sean Craven said...

Hey, Oz!

Ha! An appropriate response. Well, as for 3 and 4, I'm all about the paradoxical reactions. Essentially, I had the kind of upbringing that left me far more comfortable with violence than sex, and as an odd result I tend to be deferential toward women, while my reactions to men are a lot less predictable.

As for number 7, the goal is to be on good behavior all the time. Unfortunately, that's kind of like being on a permanent diet. The world is full of cookies.

And it was the booze wagon. While I tied one on twice at Taos, my usual mode of drinking is to split a six-pack and maybe a tot of whiskey when I play music. I've given up solitary drinking for the most part, but slips have been known to occur, and that's what happened last night. It wasn't horrible bad news, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed with myself. But hey -- blog post.

Oz said...

I see. I see that drinking alone can lead to more drinking than would be 'good' for you and social drinking is better as a way of limiting the quantity, frequency, and accountability. And I can see that you would have liked to stick to your intention. And I think a self-flagellation is in order to express that disappointment. Unless, of course, self-flagellation is a kink and a pleasure. Then it would be counter-productive.

But I can also say as an outsider that it's like sneaking a cookie (or in my case, a bag of cookies). That one time isn't going to destroy all I've accomplished, but I can't afford that slip very often. Perfect adherence to principles and discipline makes Jack no fun at all. So I'm glad you still have a few flaws and can admit them to the world.

So do I have to do the same blog post if I get into the scotch or the tequila by myself?


Sean Craven said...

Only if it's therapeutically appropriate, and the tequila wasn't.