Friday, November 19, 2004

How I Got To Be The Oldman,

My chronological age is pretty irrelevant, for more than one reason. I first began my blog with the intent of not discussing my internal life not because there was something very interesting or damning to hide but simply because I didn't want it to get in the way. That's been the problem in my life it always get's in the way.

It is quite normal for people to want to get to "know each other" in a more innocent sense. It has a lot to do with what I'm talking about.

As I will share however unfortunately the atypical and abnormal type of psyche I possess makes this sort of thing very difficult and almost absurd. People try to judge me by what they think they know about me, and it can get them into big trouble. It probably doesn't help that I'm a social mimic and therefore personality assessments can create a conflicting impression that unfortunately can lead to misunderstandings.

Often the inadvertant discovery also ends genuine attempts at relationships.

Let me back up a bit and discuss the rationale for this and why I have for so long lived my life alone.

People assume that there are certain things that are true about all people. This is not a conscious assumption. People are wired to act in a certain way. These are not ideal. They are simply practical inbuilt instincts of social mammals. They practice and assume various things like empathy, conscience however twisted, a general pattern of subjective aging, etc.

Well those things aren't true about me. I wish they were. I'm about to discuss something that is pretty private to me. Everyone has their little quirks and this is mine.

When I was very young I used to hang out with old people. My parents were concerned that I was not playing with all the other little kids so they took me to a certified psychiatrist. He ran some tests and observed me. He had several conclusions which since I was observing him at the time, I can vouch for their accuracy.

The first is that I had at that young age already the completely developed mind of an adult insofar as maturity, foresight, relative experience, discipline, etc. That's why I'd been hanging around the nursing home. I was naturally gravitating toward my social peer group.

The second was that I was very smart and furthermore that I instinctively saw the darker and more cynical motives of human life. Third I effectively had no sense of guilt, no conscience, and was effectively as remorseless as a sociopath. Like most sociopaths I had an advanced ability for social mimicry that would later let me fit in with just about any cultural or social group I involved myself in. Finally, my primary problem seemed that all of these things had a great deal of difficulty socializing with people on a level of intimacy because I was not what they expected and it was very difficult for myself to be intimate with others when they were always assuming things about me that were not true.

He had some further advice which basically meant encouraging me to socialize with my own chronological age group.

Since I have lived several decades from the time of that evaluation, I can say quite unfortunately the good doctor was correct. It's more than just a psychological trick thing. My adult attitudes and foresight allowed me to pull and conduct some very advanced capers even as a child. These "adventures" as we can call them then gave me more experience. Which I then turned into more adventures to get more experience. Most of them done for the sheer hell of the experience.

Moreoever this wasn't some simple shrink babble. I wish it were. One thing that became apparent is that no matter how much I tried pretending to be part of my age group that I knew how to get things done and understood issues far above my age. I've been called a lot of things. Old soul. Heartless bastard. Wise. Wicked. etc. People would seek me out for advice, for help, for a comforting shoulder. Frankly it was embaressing. How would you like to be worried about whether or not you were going to go to prom and have some adult with grey hair break down and babble to you their sorrows? Most of the time I told them how to fix their silly problem and went back to be pretending to be part of my age peer group.

Let me define "pretending". I do not pretend that I have feelings for others that I do not. Most of the time this is not necessary as I only develop feelings for others after a very long and continuous exposure and even then I generally don't express them well. I don't "pretend" in the sense that I lie about my background. By pretending I mean that I try to fit in as much as I can and simply allow others to think what they want while not fully explaining when I act outside of the normal boundaries of that type.

So by "pretending" what I really mean is that I don't try to rock the boat about other people's expectations, allow them to think of me as a "type" they are familiar with, and don't disabuse them of their usually wrong interpretations of my behavior. Usually the explaination is in line with a "type" they think I am belonging to. This is not malicious deception. I do not cheat anyone. I certainly don't go out of my way to take advantage of anyone. Nor do I fail to repay back sooner or later people benefiting me.

I just mean that I let them think what they want, because the alternative is an incredibly awkward and clumsy explaination that most people couldn't "get" anyway. This is just a convenience. I as I will discuss below the fact is that I am rather not equipped with the sort of maliscious desire to deceive and manipulate others that some sad persons have. What wouldn't they get?

Because of the little quirk of my background, I am already subjectively older than most people will ever live with the attendent experience and skills of that long life.

My parents, good but simple people, that they were didn't fully understand what the pschiatrist was explaining to them though I did. They didn't understand for instance that there are a whole range of psychological and neurological abnormalities that can occur. One of them is the run of the mill sociopath. Another is the rather retarded Austistic child. Another rather rarer is the autistic savant. A less severe condition is that of the Asperger's syndrome which generally makes the sufferers socially clumsy but at least independently functional and sometimes gives them savant like abilities. Some have usually pretty harmless obsessive or compulsive disorders associated with their gifts.

I am none of these things. However my clinically diagnosed condition gives me some features similar to each of them. This is not completely undocumented in the literature, just a little variation on the basic psychological and neurological abnormalities. My obssession is the collection, analysis, and application of information.

Please don't think of me as a monster. If I have no conscience, then I have no pent up issues either to take out on others. If I sometimes lack empathy, I also lack the interest in hurting others. I have no wounded child to take out on others. I have no adolescent juvenile insecurity or rage to manifest itself in aggressive projection. I have no impulsive sadistic instincts that give me pleasure in hurting others. Most of the time it just means I see things objectively, not as they should be but just as they are. No conscience so no ideals, no ideals and no truly deep religious beliefs, and then you have no ideologies to confuse the thinking.

Most of the time I am more honorable and more trustworthy than other people can usually achieve because of this. This is simply because it doesn't occur to me to break my deals. Nor is it really logical to break them because of a belief. I intend something. I do something. I carry it out. The thought of betrayal is relatively foreign to me though I am good at spotting those who have no intention of keeping their word. While some people think beliefs are good, the majority of beliefs are prejudicial. For instance some people believe that it's wrong to kill babies but okay to kill adults without appropriate legal representation. To me that's insane. Either you should be completely pacificistic, or accept the doctrine that it is due process and social justice that is the important issue and not life or death.

Likewise abortions bother me, but generally because the women who I have known who had abortions seemed conflicted. Part of them wanted to keep the baby, and part of them didn't. And my thinking was well if they didn't want the baby why did they voluntarily put themselves in a situation that they could become pregnant?

Of course human relationships are just more complicated than what my rather simplistic and logical black and white emotional spectrum allows. I logically recognize that and take that into account. However logically knowing it and "grokking" it are two different things. To me it's as if the person is insane.

That's what I mean by being without conscience or empathy. I just mean I am incapable of fully understanding the complex motives of real personal emotional difficulties. I am great at understanding strategic conflict or tactical or logistical problems and solving them quickly. Those are logical. I have a hard time understanding murky and confused but very human motivations that lead people to do some very strange things. While I have no emotional hesitation at killing, I have ever rational and logical objection to needless or pointless death. It is not death or suffering that bothers me, but waste and irrationality.

Sometimes there are very good reasons for wanting somebody dead. Osama bin Ladin and his buddies are a good example. They are your enemies. Kill them if you can. Other stuff isn't so logical however in war like invading Iraq. Even from the point of view of "Blood for Oil" it was a bloody stupid idea. It was completely illogical how they tried to invade for oil but didn't set themselves up to win.

What is very bad however and usually ends badly however is when someone tries to dominate, bully, play cat and mouse with me, or otherwise use aggression on me. I have no conscience. There I have no hestitation in utterly bringing down, humiliating, or inflicting massive pain on those that attempt in any way to hurt me. Unfortunately there are criminal types, petty and white collar, as well as bullies or just those with superiority complexes in life. What they don't understand is that I don't care about their games. When they dance with me they dance with the devil, because I have not the slightest hesitation about destroying someone trying to hurt me.

It's a documented issue with Asperger's syndrome kids, though as I said I do not suffer from that exact syndrome. They find that these kids have a hard time using limited or refrained violence. Smack them on the cheek, they may go for the throat. For me too, there is a difficulty in discerning the difference between someone trying to intimidate me and someone trying to kill me. So I go for the throat. Since most people are too nice to try to beat me up, it usually doesn't come up in my normal life. Thankfully.

Part of my social mimicry which is quite instinctive is that I tend to treat others the way they treat me only I try to do it better. You trust me, I'll trust you. You help me, I'll help you. You try to hurt me or sell me out, I'll ... yeah. It's not voluntary. I don't sit down and think of it as the golden rule. It just happens. Faster than I can think about it.

For the vast majority of people who are quite decent, they do quite well by me. It never occurred to them to try to burn me. Therefore they never found out that I had another side.

So oddly enough lacking a conscience and being a mimic rather than having empathy made me more trustworthy than the average person. Why should I betray my own agreements? I am not afraid of any person. I am not afraid to take the consequences of my choices. I do not blame others for my problems. I do not attempt to weasel out of things because I feel differently.

But I do have doubts and angst and inner turmoil. Just not about all the usual kinds of stuff people have. What I want is to really learn how to fall in love with someone. Odd isn't it? I've lived this long and never been able to become intimate enough to fall in love with someone else. Dallied, flirted, whatever, sure. But not the real thing. Not the simple act of just bonding deeply with someone you care about and really knows you.

Women have described me while talking with me as dealing with a brick wall. They throw something at me, and it bounces back or is reflected. It's very frustrating for them because they want to break through to the "real me". That's the social mimicry at work. However the real me is I think afraid of rejection. Deep down I guess I've always been afraid of letting down the walls and letting someone else really know me deeply enough to fall in love with me - or I with them. Ladies are very good at discerning when you're holding out on them I'm afraid.

That simple thing that people take for granted, the ability to fall in love, has been my whole life denied to me.

So that's how I got to be The Oldman. My parents never shared the results of the diagnosis with others but they didn't have to. People just started noting that when I thought others weren't looking I would act like a rather crotchety and grumpy old man. With my natural advanced subjective age I was able to carry out all sorts of crazy adventures. These gave me more experience, which I used to pull off even crazier capers. Even while trying to avoid it, I became known as wise and very knowledgeable. Adults much older than me came for me for advice or put me in charge of organizing things.

So that's how I got the nickname. They just started calling me that in sort of jest and it stuck. I am the oldman. Always have been. Even though I'm chronologically older now I am still troubled by the same problems. I have experience I can't put on a CV. I have troubles fitting in with normal job descriptions which frankly bore me to death. I have never as yet fallen in love with someone and they with me. And frankly that's what

Odd isn't it? So that's why my chronological age even now that I'm starting to get white hairs is irrelevant. I am already in some ways older than most people here will ever live to be. Some days I feel it too especially with the injuries I've gotten on my crazier adventures. On the other hand, on levels of basic intimacy and getting close to others I'm less sophisticated than a teenager. It's not physical experience that I lack, it's emotional experience.

Which is what the good doctor pointed out when he diagnosed me those many years ago now. When later I sought out the help of an excellent clinical psychologist this was pretty much his eventual advice as well. I just need to learn how to personally relate to people. That is my weakness. And the inability to do it screws up the rest of my social life, because I have to pretend to be something other than I am which is great at first but is limiting because if you don't open up and let people know you they will generally trust you only so far.

Which is why I'm writing this. Larry, my psychologist and later friend, would approve since it means I'm finally starting to let the walls down.

To summarize I have a clinically diagnosed psychological abnormality. The principle affect of this psychological abnormality was to predispose me toward the attitudes and later the learning curve of a person of advanced age - highly knowledgeable, highly experienced, and highly disciplined. This resulted in others treating me quite properly as someone much older than I was. It however also interfered with my normal age peer group socializations so in some ways I'm not as emotionally experienced as your average teenager.

It's not that I can't get women to like me. For whatever reason, women do like me or at least enough of them do. One said it had to do with my confidence. However it's opening up that I lack for. Over the last few years I've been taking the advice my psychologist and living a quiet life instead of getting mixed up in adventures. I agree with him that these have mostly proven distractions from my ultimate insecurity.

This insecurity doesn't stem from my job or social recognition or whatever. My condition makes me either imperviously and relentlessly self-confident. It's actually a bad thing because sometimes I take on really big projects that are much more difficult than they appear. And it's bad because I have a hard time finding normal work. Not because of my employers or mentors, but because I have a hard time accepting working according to other's scehdules. Social recognition isn't important to me much, but I do wish I could find a way to harness my talents to help those who employ me now better. But it's hard because they don't really know me and I don't really know what they want. That's why I like deals. They're spelled out in exact details what the expectations are. Then I just focus on fulfilling those expectations. It's not their fault it's just a misunderstanding. If I work with someone I need a very clear idea of what they want or my attention tends to drift off.

It is oddly enough the thought of genuinely opening up to someone that scares me. The old what if they don't like me for me type thing?

I mean what am I inside but a rather heartless and grumpy old man afterall? Not the sort of thing your average woman expects to find in a body like mine when it opens up.

A woman once wrote something I think rather profound. She's married but in an open marriage. She was writing about all the sad middle-aged men she ran into, who loved their wives but weren't sleeping with them because they couldn't communicate. It's the "talking" part of the relationship that is hard for me. It's even hard for me to really communicate with my family. For me to "talk" would require me to act like I truly was, which would and when it has slipped out, has been very upsetting for them.

No parent likes to be treated like a child and put in their place, especially if they are acting like a child and the person putting them in their place is their 5 year old kid. The human mind isn't meant to deal with stuff like that. And yes I did. Most of the time I was content to play the role of their child. However when they got of line too far I put them in their place. Pretty devastating for a grown adult to get faced down by their preteen kid and told how and why they've screwed up and how to fix it and that they had better not screw up like that again next time.

So if someone wants to make fun of me, please at least give me the dignity of making fun of who I truly am. If I am sad or pathetic in any way, it is that in the end I am just a lonely old man who lives by himself and only has his old war stories to tell. That is pretty awful enough as it is and it has the virute of being true.

And the truth is that I would rather have people make fun of me than have anyone give me pity. One thing I do not lack for is pride. Pride has always been my downfall.

But I am not writing this out of self-pity, just a candid recognition of who and what I am. Embracing it has been difficult. Nosce te ipsum Know thyself. Then be true to thyself. Such simple words. Such a great challege.

Right now I would settle for a job, but I don't want a job based on me looking for it. I want what other people have - what I see happening to others like my younger female relative. I want to be able to be myself, accepted for it, and sought for work based on that.

It's not about just a job for me. What this is about is me trying to take down that wall. It's about me trying to accept myself for what I am, and finding a place a destiny a path in this world based not on how well I can fit in to someone else's idea of what I should be but who I have always been. Which is just like that old duffer down the street playing chess in the park. Heck I was playing chess with him or someone like him at the same age most people were learning to read and write.

Oldman in a not quite old yet body is what I am. I am over the hill now chronologically which helps. The older I get physically the actually easier it becomes for me. But that's what I want I really really want: a chance at a life based not on how well I can calculate other peoples reactions and adjust to them (which is very fast and very well) but a life based on relationships with people who know me.

It may sound strange but as they say the grass is greener on the otherside of the fence. Most people want or at least admit they need maturity because that's what they don't have. On the other hand they have intimacy. Which I don't have. So that's what I want - relationships and intimacy - not just with a woman which would be nice but a life based on a web of people knowing me and me knowing them. As for this other stuff, this whole information collection and analysis I'm good at it - probably better than most people can ever become. It's that whole savant thing. So sure I could make money on it. But more than that I want not praise, not fame, but simple acknowledgement. As in yes this is who you really are and this is what you do just so I can stop pretending. I'm pretty tired of that. It can be fun but in the end it just leaves you alone.

Yes I can analyze the flaws of others and design fiendishly complicated schemes that will destroy them while leaving no evidence to convict me. However that get's boring after a while. The bad thing about lacking normal empathy is that you can't enjoy hurting others. I can know what others feel by inference and observation, but it's like black and white television compared to color. I just don't "get" the full impact. So while I can follow along, I don't always "get the joke". This is why my humor tends to be dry and cutting with an emphasis on irony and sarcasm. It's like not having color-vision is the only way I can describe it.

My mother told me that, well she told me that I must lead a very lonesome life. I do. It doesn't bother me most of the time. It's like being color blind. Most of the time you just don't know what you're missing. The very definition of a human being however is that they strive to be more than themselves. It is that very striving that defines humanity, and not their present characteristics. Only a sentient being can be aware of themselves, and then seek to exceed their original design parameters. I don't have to be more than I am, but I want to be. That is the kernel of the story of Pinnochio. "I want to be a real boy." is his statement to the world.

I want to know what I've been missing out on. That's what I've been trying to accomplish.

And that is how I got to be the oldman, I was born an oldman.

68 Comments:

At November 20, 2004 at 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure trying to find out what you are/have been missing out on is really that helpful. In my younger years I'm sure I missed out a lot that I could have had (e.g. responding to advances made by girls, participating in wild night life, etc.). Yet in hindsight I had a quite gratifying childhood & adolescence. Had I done those things, I wouldn't have done other things which were gratifying in (different?) ways. Feeling sorry for missing out may just make you needlessly depressed and gives you torment.

One thing that you didn't state explicitly but that I think would be consistent with your views (w/o putting anything in your mouth) is that there is no purpose to an individual life -- it is up to you to make what you deem best of it. Under that interpretation, looking for the individual "quest" or "preordainment" is pointless. (That is, in the big scheme of things. But also under that definition, whatever you think is the right thing.) And it looks you have a good agenda that you follow. There doesn't have to be an external yardstick to measure your performance in life other than your own standards, by which based on what you write you perform quite well. And your yardstick looks fine to me. Most of the time when I had the impression various people wanted to impose a yardstick on me, I judged it was because they were looking for something that *they* want.

So to summarize, if you can (more or less) enjoy your life one day at a time, why be sorry for missing out? Which is not to say that you should take one day at a time without plan, which is an entirely different concept, and one which I don't want to endorse.

Hope it doesn't sound like a lecture.

cm

 
At November 20, 2004 at 1:08 PM, Blogger Oldman said...

cm,

I believe that my failure in this area is limiting my performance in other metrics. This conclusion logically forces me to consider the importance of this area as crucial to my total life experience. As much as I would have wished it, one cannot completely separate one's personal and professional life over the long term.

 
At November 20, 2004 at 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldman: I'm not entirely sure what you are trying to get at in your response. Yes, you cannot fully separate your private & professional lives, in the same way that you cannot be two different people (at different times, that is). You can only always be yourself, if you know what I mean (other than it being a tautology).

As regards the failure, it is in the eye of the beholder (i.e. you). If *you* deem that your living alone or failure to keep up relationships (with people in general, not just women) is a failure in walking the path that you wish to follow, then by all means go for self-improvement if you want. At the same time as you at least hinted at, if it means to become somebody other than yourself, or striking compromises that fundamentally go against your frame of mind, I would question (for myself, not for you) whether it is feasible or even desirable.

As as final speculation, nobody can know for certain whether their judgement of their own performance is proper, and your total effect on those people that turned from you may be indeed positive. I met various people in my life where I was gravely disappointed at one time or another to learn how they judged me, or gave me the impression they didn't trust me with certain things, rightly or wrongly (in my own perception). Yet I think I overall learnt from those experiences, they had a positive overall impact on me, and I'm certainly not begrudging it to anybody to have a bad impression of me, as long as I believe they made a fair effort to form this impression. (And of most of those people I continue to think as highly as prior.) Other people's mileage may vary. So after that many words what I want to express is that people may judge their relationships with you more favorably than you would think, but then what do *I* know.

cm

 
At November 20, 2004 at 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldman,

I relate to some degree. I was always the quiet, sincere, mature one. I had almost no meaningful social life. I eschewed people generally, because they wanted something that never seemed to be there. But anyway, I have two thoughts for you to consider (FWIW).

First, the way I broke out of my walls was to pick someone to talk to where there was no pretense of a relationship. In my case, it was forbidden temporarily (I was a TA in grad school and she was an undergrad in one of my classes). So I tried an experiment. I simply talked to her. I made myself approachable and friendly and took the time to talk about the class material and anything else that came up. It worked. After the class was over, I decided to take another (small) step. Then another. I took each step so slowly that eventually she took me by the hand and led me through the labyrinth of my defenses. I have found it to work for others as well. So my simple thought is to just go find someone who could be a friend. Do one experiment at a time. Change one variable at a time.

My second thought is that based on your postings about your "search" for a job, maybe you should mention a task or activity (or more than one) that you would really like to do and would not mind getting paid for it. Perhaps I should say would enjoy getting paid to do it. I normally don't like "situation wanted" ads posing as blogs, but that isn't the primary purpose here and most who read it understand that. There are a fair number of people who read this, however, and you might be surprised who and what is out there.

I sincerely wish you well.

Frank

 
At November 20, 2004 at 4:05 PM, Blogger alyosha said...

Thank you for sharing this, and for summoning the courage to do so.

I can relate a lot to what you said. My story has similar elements to yours, but with significant differences.

There is a whole set of people who were emotionally damaged in their childhood, and who subsequently made poor early choices as to career, social circles, and who generally never developed the social skills to get along in this world, commensurate with their other abilities. Most people use their emotions, their gut, to help them make good decisions - you seem to be able to do this purely based on intellect. This is covered by the relatively new field of Emotional Intelligence.

I grew up with a fairly high IQ, but an incredibly low EQ. I'm middle aged, never married, and work in a socially isolating, and frankly dull field - computer programming. I hate being dominated by others. Because I feel that I aimed so low in life, the women that appeal to me are far beyond my reach.

Your post was a lot about "coming out" into the world, to figure out how someone as unusual as you can really, honestly fit in, as far as career and relationships.

A different tactic, which you might consider, is to learn how to actually feel. Not mimicry, but actually experiencing the feeling world of color instead of settling for black and white.

It's still well outside the world of mainstream psychology, but there is the whole field of the human aura and subtle energy. Modern medicine is starting to open up to this world beyond the normal six senses, which is well known to shamans and healers from other cultures, for centuries (truly they are the OldMen of the planet).

In my own case, my feelings opened up, after I spent considerable time and training learning how to clear my aura and the chakras associated with feelings. I freely admit that psychedelic drugs helped with this endeavor. The benefits are many: I feel so much more integrated than ever before. I feel a lot more like normal people do, and can more readily converse with them. And I now use my emotions to a much greater degree in making decisions. I have a long way to go in terms of undoing the damage of bad choices made earlier in my life, but I am making progress.

Someday I may write a book about this, when the process is a bit further along.

I don't know if you feel this tactic - of learning how to feel and have true empathy - would work for you, but it is the key to becoming whole. I would be careful about taking diagnoses given to you as the final word - it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can give you many references to this topic generally, if you're at all interested.

One thing that really helped me is that I live in California, and I understand you're in the midwest, which is where I'm from originally. This type of knowledge is spreading across the planet at this point in our evolution, but it is most advanced - there are schools and teachers of it - in places like California. Which, I think, at the bottom of it, is one of the reasons I moved here.

 
At November 20, 2004 at 5:46 PM, Blogger Oldman said...

To all the commentators,

Thanks for your own revelations. Certainly they made me feel more comfortable in having exposed my own peculiars. Yes, I do have feelings. The problem is that they are often very inappropriate so it is difficult to use them as a guide. The problem is that I have some "missing pieces". This means interactivity and communication on an emotional level is difficult.

For instance, if I try to reason with someone and not based on whether they agree or disagree but based on whether or not they they can use reason I start having peculiar emotions. Like if they cannot learn, I start wishing that they were dead, and start thinking of how I can arrange for them to get killed off without anyone else the wiser.

I struggle with this instinct all the time. I have yet to kill someone for the "crime" of being stupid, but it's been a close call sometimes.

Other things are that way for me as well. For instance if I hurt someone I don't feel anything. But if you can show me that my reasoning was mistaken and someone got hurt because of it, then I will feel a great sense of failure and depression. Not because they got hurt, but because such harm is irreversible and I hate making uncorrectable mistakes.

The lack of emotional similarities makes certain communications difficult for me.

As for a job, I think I still have enough stubbornness to keep on looking for the "break" where from the outside I can be myself in a job. I'm not sure where it will come from, but dammit it worked for my female relative and I can make it work for me. :-)

So thanks for the offer but I'm chasing a unicorn here because I want to know if I have the "wiring" upstairs to make it work. Otherwise I would have just given up and gotten a job the way I always have ... old fashioned job hunting. The real purpose is to see if I have what der Fool talked about the "hidden dimension".

I think I do, but my wiring is different upstairs so I have a hard time recognizing certain internal signals.

And no I wasn't angry with him. That's the frightening thing for me. He was just trying to be clever. But certain patterns of behavior for me trigger antagonistic responses quite instinctively. This is why I have tried to practice Buddhism, because I want to exhaust non-violent means first because I understand my own propensity for violence based really on nothing more than social misunderstandings.

But the instincts are still there, though thankfully there are few who trigger them.

 
At November 20, 2004 at 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, this explains why you took up an interest in economics. The variables can and do change on a daily basis. It's like a puzzel that keeps changing. It really keeps the mind working. For me, it keeps me from going crazy in the business that I have locked myself in, (taken the easy way out, in the long term, The cheaper economical way out in the short term ie. short term survival. But eliminated the adventures (real adventurs, by ordinary USA terms). Thus, falling into a study of political economics/economics as a mental stimulus. Most people don't understand this.

Jim Coomes

 
At November 20, 2004 at 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldman: I don't want to overdo my "remote diagnoses", but it doesn't have to take a strong gush of adrenaline or tears to qualify as an emotional response. It was at times suggested to me that I'm cold, or don't show certain emotions, and that the respective individuals didn't know what to make of me when I don't show a smile or other sign of affection, etc., in response to something, or when meeting them, or what have you. That doesn't mean I don't have an internally expressed emotional response. (And I do smile, laugh, etc., and always have, but it has to come from inside, not as a face that you put on habitually, or as a trained response in a social ritual.)

Also sometimes it may be difficult to tell an emotional response apart from a response of reason. They may be more linked than people think, especially with people who are guided very much by reason, and I have yet to see the person who seriously claims to have a non-phenomenological explanation of the human psyche.

And from your writings it does appear that you have quite a bit of general empathy for others. I don't think I'm just reading that between the lines. For example, what you said about your relative or the women for whom you had gotten abortions, is good enough evidence of empathy for me. Even if it is not "emotionalized" but "rationalized", it's probably good enough for me. Enough people won't do either.

This is not to say that I want to explain away or diminish any condition that you may genuinely have. But in this age, and certainly in growing parts of Western society, there are strong and I believe to an extent misguided beliefs what kinds of psychologial "aberrations" are undesirably abnormal, and how to "fix" them, e.g. by pumping kids full of Ritalin and other drugs.

Especially in the US, personality disorders of all kinds are very readily diagnosed and (in my judgement) blown out of proportion, and I would even go so far as to say they have been discovered here. My yardstick is whether an individual can function safely in society. So much for my armchair psychology.

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At November 20, 2004 at 9:58 PM, Blogger J Thomas said...

As I'm sure you've noticed with the people who asked your help, usually when people talk about their problems they don't actually want assistance so much as the chance to say who they are and get respected for it. Help is at most secondary.

I like you. I don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with you. You just mimic the superficial roles and haven't learned some of the deeper structure, and that's something you can pick up in bits and pieces.

Here is one minor thing that might help. I got it from Konrad Lorenz, who wrote a collection of popular books on animal behavior that I read as a teenager. He said that most animals don't have much language and when they try to find out each other's intentions, they do it by acting it out.

So for example when two strange dogs meet neither of them knows ahead of time whether the other intends violence. So they get ready just in case. They bare their teeth some, they snarl a little, they put their ears down, etc. They circle each other as if they're thinking about attacking. Sometimes it turns into a big production. And usually they each sense that the other really doesn't intend to fight. And they calm down. They have no better way to say "I don't want to fight you" than to halfway pick a fight and back off. If the other dog backs off too then they know he doesn't really want to fight either.

People are like that sometimes. They can talk things out ahead of time, and they might be lying. The way to find out what they really think is to watch what they do when the chips are down.

And I think that's how it works with abortion a whole lot of the time. A woman who isn't sure how a man thinks of her might get pregnant by him. If he wants to father her child and have a serious committed relationship, and he takes serious steps in that direction, then she knows. If he backs off then she finds that out too. She doesn't have to live with the ambiguity of him acting like maybe he loves her but he puts off the serious stuff. But if he backs off then she's pregnant with no one to take care of her, it's the answer she didn't want and she has to handle that somehow.

It makes sense for her to be sure before she takes a chance getting pregnant. But when she's stuck in something that isn't moving and she doesn't know whether to dump the guy or wait, getting pregnant is something that decides it. And telling him that she's aborting his baby is a very clear way to tell him what she thinks of him.

Of course, apart from explanations, accident plays a role too. All methods of birth control are 95% effective or better in lab conditions, and less so out in the world. There are real honest-to-goodness accidents too.

 
At November 20, 2004 at 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend trying some good LSD, if there still is such a thing. Seriously. Preferably with company.

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At November 21, 2004 at 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldman, thanks for the post. I've been a regular reader of yours for a few months now. I rarely comment because I can't hold a candle to you intellectually, but I have learned from you - as least as much I can anyway.

The theory of capitalism you posted on bopnews and the subsequent discourses on economics are items I plan to save and share with my young sons as soon as I think they're ready. If I'd only I'd read stuff like that when I was younger! I believe the world is a slightly better place for what you're doing here and at bopnews. Please keep it up as much as you're able but of course no more than that. We need you! And we're very appreciative!

I believe a little bit in synchronicity and all that so just by coincidence last night I saw the movie "Good Will Hunting" for the first time. Have you seen it? Sure it's Hollywood and a bit facile like all entertainment but I think the dilemma of the main character is a little comparable to yours. Maybe a viewing might lift your spirits - and you might take the "line" the Matt Damon character steals from Robin Williams to heart!

Off the top of my head, I feel the greatest adventures lie ahead of you Oldman. May the wind be at your back and the sails stay forever taut.

 
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LSD is pretty major stuff IMO, and I wouldn't go near it myself. But your mileage will vary. I recommend some good weed however - it's much gentler, but with similar if milder effects. And a high quality vaporizor for your lungs, see the "Agent 007 kit" at www.vriptech.com (one of the best things ever invented).

 
At November 22, 2004 at 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oldman: Let me put it in this thread as I have to relieve myself of this, but I was a bit surprised how you blasted Ali over at BOP like this. I'm not trying to comment on the merits of his posts, but just point out how one common feature of his post and a previous post on this site to which you reacted quite harshly was that the writers were (in my interpretation) suggesting that your thinking/argument/intentions are misguided and/or misplaced. In both cases their argument was rendered in a somewhat patronizing/paternalistic/lecturing, or perhaps second-guessing fashion (as a non-English speaker, I'm not sure whether this expresses it quite well, so use a grain of salt).
You didn't seem to take this very well. Mind you, this is just to share an observation, although I'm probably not telling you anything that you don't already know, and have at least hinted at here. Certainly as the host of both threads you may have more attachment to the discussion than others, and moderating privileges.

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Ah, the savant speaks on his inner life.
As somebody who shared some of those experiences and has a less serious case of your mental outlook I might make a few suggestions.

To truly interact with the fairer sex become friends with them. They are truly the gatekeepers of relationships. Secondly, and sadly, stability is what most women truly desire, and when your life projects stability and confidence you will find doors open up.
This is what my friend Chris calls two out of three can be successful at any one time. Either happiness in your endeavors for work, a successful lovelife, or economic success. It seems that it is truly difficult to maintain all three simultaneously.

Thirdly, I suggest that you allow women to target you through personal ads. By projecting your intellect to more possible targets you improve your chances of success. I offer this step, as this is how I found my wife (or as she asserts: catalog shopping through the personals to meet eligible men for her nefarious needs who satisfy her high criteria). Oddly enough we did share two indirect links but had never happened to meet in a city of 2.5 million people.

Finally, I suggest that you begin to cultivate a sense of discovery again. Growing up old and cynical allows one to experience many opportunities that your peers lack, and having the intellect to take you further than you believe possible allows the horizons to expand.
However, ultimately, as you seem to have discovered, humans seem to only utilize the primitive ape social grouping method to define their successes and failures- hence if you are outside the group you don't get invited to the pinnacle of decision makers and success ful without either money or power. Both of which tend to require social success to accumulate.

While it is easy to use intellect to project people's wants and desires, ultimately it is frustrating to you to try and guide them to a better outcome. Now guide yourself to seek your happiness and to heck with the world.

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Just thought I would mention that your story reminds me of some of the characters in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and its various sequels.

 
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