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Details from the necklaces from the Great Death Pit of Ur, around 2500 BCE. Bitumen figurines covered with a sheet of gold and lapis lazuli.

Queenly headdress

gold, lapis, carnelian, necklace with beech leaf iconography

Great DeathPit, PG 1237, revealed rows of skeletons, almost entirely female, 74 individuals in all. The women had gone to their grave dressed in scarlet, wearing ornamental headdresses, and were adorned with gold ribbons, gold wreaths, gold necklaces, jewelry of silver and gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian.

Six women lay near two lyres and a harp, near the southeast wall. Most of the women had cups or shells containing cosmetic pigments. Body 61, in the upper right corner, was more elaborately attired than the others and she had a silver tumbler next to her mouth.
Half of the women (but none of the men) had cups or jars, as if at a banquet.

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Inspirational quotes from machines. Any resemblance to actual wisdom is coincidental.

 

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“My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” -J. B. S. Haldane

How do these days taste to you? How do they feel, literally in your heart? Do they sit with you, whispering confused thoughts? Do they weigh on your stomach like a heavy meal?

Life in Covid-19 lockdown has a unique feeling, in distinct contrast with all that preceded it.  If you were writing the great Corona novel you’d observe the climate, character, and ambiance of this time. The form, style, and subject matter would come out of you dyed vividly with the anxious, strange, and haunting uncertainty of this collective experience.

If god forbid, someday in the middle future we find ourselves in quarantine again, all this will hit us like a lead-pipe deja-vu: The dread, uneasily watching spasmodic charts of cases and deaths. Reports from overwhelmed cities and tearful ER staff. Ourselves adrift, unemployed, possibly forever. Time dissolving, as the familiar weekdays drift out of position like objects in space. Untenable haircuts growing like abandoned yards. Every one of these experiences is more than a thought. All of them are sensations in the body, and feelings in the heart.

More subtly, there is something in the air in these altered times. An instability, or fragility, as if everything is suddenly exposed and undefended. There is an ominous sense of something bad, just out of sight. You feel vulnerable but vulnerable to what exactly you don’t know, you just feel exposed, vaguely targeted.

This is a psychological state in the wind like an odor: Strangeness like a pressure drop. It makes you check the locks. It makes you alert to small noises.

The next morning you wake up to a normal day, and those feelings are gone. You may think “That was silly getting so weirded out”. But what if last night’s feelings weren’t a mistake, but a perception of shifting reality, gone the next day like a blown-out storm.

“Reality Weather”™ is a metaphor to describe this nameless but omnipresent aspect of life. It’s silly that something so fundamental (if ephemeral) lacks a common handle so there it is. Reality weather is the mood of days, the expression on the face of passing time. Reality weather is the music accompanying the compelled dancing of strange times. I don’t mean the shifting experience of any one single person. I mean the moods and gut feelings that we in the collective experience as external shifts in personal climate. Of course, it is a subjective experience, that’s what experience IS but reality weather is like the simultaneous community experience of a powerful drop in barometric air pressure. It must be experienced, person by person, but reality weather is the connecting Venn circle of persons having a congruent experience. Reality weather is a collective mood-swing. Continue reading

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Telling the truth about something shameful is a really interesting bargain.

We exchange being a worse person who is seen as better, for being a better person, who is seen as a worse one.

That is, we go from being an immoral person who everybody believes to be moral to a moral person who everybody condemns.

We downgrade our reputation and suffer losses for the deeply soulful result of living in truth once again.

There is something about living a lie that is a bit like holding your breath underwater or going around caked in dirt no one else can see. It’s a pure relief then, finally taking a breath or finally being clean.

 

The outrage people feel at hearing they were lied to is also interesting. I want to understand specifically what harm was done.

A lie places the victim in a false location. They are lost but they don’t know it.

A lie steals their autonomy and volition. It prevents them from acting in self-defense.

A lie repudiates the time it seemed but only seemed, we were loved.

A lie reveals our value at the time of sale. So much lower than we imagined.

While the lie was believed we didn’t know where we were, or who we were with. Terrifying.

 

 

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Psycho comes from the Greek word psykho, which means mental. The Greek root word path can mean either “feeling” or “disease.” So psychopath is a word meaning “mental illness”. “Sociopath” is not a clinical term and it is a no-no for mental health professionals to use it. However, I am NOT a mental health professional, and the name is rather on point about the issue: Sick towards society, towards people. In the 1830’s this disorder was called “moral insanity.” By 1900 it was changed to “psychopathic personality.” More recently it has been termed “antisocial personality disorder” in the DSM-III and DSM-IV.

DSM-IV Definition: Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules.

It’s easy to take the DSM on faith at face value as sufficient authority to settle the issue of who is or isn’t thoroughly, but the needs of the mental health community and others who have to deal with psychopaths don’t line up perfectly. The DSM criteria depend heavily on observed behaviors while law enforcement and criminal justice must often predict behavior based on personality characteristics. Continue reading

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What you are made of?

This very accessible, kid-friendly video is about understanding the Human Microbiome.

Your body is made of trillions of cells, specifically, human cells. Around the beginning of the 21st century, scientists learned that the human body contains many trillions more microbial cells. This is the microbiome: the collection of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and other microbes) living in and on the human body. It has been part of us, evolving, interacting, and helping to determine our fate as organisms, since before the emergence of the human species itself. Scientists have known about the presence of microorganisms on and in the human body since the discovery of E. coli, but recognizing the importance of the microbiome is very recent.

There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. Scientists increasingly recognize that these microorganisms have a huge influence on our health. An imbalance of unhealthy and healthy microbes in the intestines may contribute to weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and other disorders. We now know that gut microbiota also affects our mood, anxiety levels, stress resilience, and depression.

Besides general interest, this is about understanding your dual existence as 1. A singular person in the world, and 2. As a gigantic mobile colony made of millions of cooperating cells many of which are “guest workers” here to make a living, but not really part of you.

You are an ecosystem.

Credit to artist Ben Arthur by way of NPR

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(Not my writing, preserving author anonymity)

I have ADHD. My dad has ADHD.

I know that it’s hard for NT folks to understand what it’s like to have ADHD, but you HAVE to stop connecting moral judgment to our ability or inability to do things.

We would not be on time if we just loved you more. We would not remember our appointments of we just tried harder. Our brains are not a good fit for this neurotypical world.

Assistive methods and devices are not there to train us to have a habit when they’re gone. Assistive methods are what allow us to maintain these habits.

If we grow out of one method it’s just because we’ve replaced it with another. Ideally, the method would be housed in our brain (yay medicine! or meditation! or positive self-talk! or any sorts of other internal practices!) but it’s still there. Continue reading

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I just tried to catalog the running programs in my mental background, the ones that hover just below conscious attention. I can become aware of each process by thinking of it but like most healthy patterns you aren’t really supposed to bother yourself with anything that’s running properly. Conscious attention is a costly resource and your living system respects that. Most of these app-like status monitors will send you a little “throat-clearing” style please notice me signal when discomfort in that area requires your attention, – when it literally requires your conscious attention – even it that is just shifting your butt because your legs are tired.

Basically, they stand politely in the background like a row of servants on Downton Abbey until they are sufficiently pressed to interrupt us as we read our very important memes.

“Ahem.”

“Damn it all, Pennyworth, I’m a busy man! What is it now?”

“Pardon me, M’lud, I believe you have a rather pressing poop to attend to.”


These are some of the conditions being monitored unconsciously by my mind:

  • Safety/Danger (no active threats, scanning)
  • Sleepy/Awake (tiny bit sleepy but well slept, mid-morning)
  • Hungry/Full (recently eaten, comfortable)
  • Pain/discomfort/comfort (tiny headache, sitting too long)
  • Muscle fatigue/readiness (feel able to move, respond…expend consistent energy over time, restless)
  • Mouth, teeth, tongue  (clean? comfortable?)
  • Need to poop? – need to pee? (some fullness, not ready yet)
  • Balance, equilibrium (maintaining)
  • Ambient noise – and exceptions (normal sounds, fridge, shower, distant cars)
  • Hormonal regulation ( I feel male, somewhat interested in sex, prefer dominance…not stressed)
  • Time of day (day underway, not far advanced)
  • Time of year (Spring ending – Summer beginning)
  • Recent memory clips (yesterday driving, sleep, breakfast)
  • Anticipation scenarios – the future imagined – disparate upcoming events (What to do today, next week: Love, friendship, family, work)
  • “Don’t forget” (Occasional anxiety reminders)
  • Happy/Sad (calm and mildly happy, wistful traces)
  • Long term memory flickers (old girlfriend, my family, teaching, random places and moments)
  • Ambient smells (Due to being home the smells are too familiar to notice, only hot spots stand out)

Each of these is the organized synthesis of several mental and physiological subroutines. They cooperate and appear as a discrete process.

“Oh man, I’m starving” requires the cooperation of multiple “moving parts” of our neurophysiology and organs functioning smoothly and silently until some silent version of our executive function gives the order to inform the conscious mind to get off its ass and eat.

 

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To love somebody

who doesn’t love you

is like going to a temple

and worshipping the ass

of a wooden statue

of a hungry devil.

 

– Lady Kasa

 

 

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