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gandolfication last won the day on February 28

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About gandolfication

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  1. Thanks. Some day I want to get permission to do a linguistic study on depression writing here...the words, patterns, tone, self talk, interaction, compliments, discounting, repetition, vocabulary, etc., etc. This isn't directed at you...I just saw something reflected (about myself) in our exchange. I don't know if the pen is mightier than the sword any more, but there is still power of life and death in the tongue. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. And, nothing is, but thinking makes it so. (The Bible and Shakespeare, respectively, ennunciating cognitive behavioral therapy a few years before its time). Also, "coital," thanks for that, I am definitely going to use that in a brief sometime. In my Christian college class on human sexuality which I thought was good (and convinced my then girlfriend to take the course), but had the enduring legacy of remembering the great term, "coitus interruptus," for a bad method of birth control.
  2. The mom-perfetion thing sounds awful....most of us have some variation on that we receive from out parents, and most of us parents will give it as well. How about the statement, "if it's not worth trying and failing at, then it's probably not worth doing"? Growth mindset. (I'm not saying i have it nearly enough; I aspire to)
  3. You know, we've talked about the beatitudes here several times, but I just read them again now as something more of a homily, an aspiration, and thus liked them more, without my usual objections. In evangelical tradition (especially the part I grew up in), we don't really have anything exactly like a homily, intended more for spiritual edification than doctrinal instruction. Partly because of that, I suppose we do tend to take things more literally and at face value than even other sects in Christendom.
  4. But of course you would have both books. I imagine your farmhouse as essentially one continuous bookshelf, with maybe a table in the middle, on which to store everything else. This is how my younger brother is; and I was as long as I could be. Then I kind of stopped reading for a while, in part from depression and work. We stare at screens all day reading, it was not what I wanted to do at night. Thankfully, I am back into a better grove reading again.
  5. This is the conclusion of, among others, Dan Barker, in my estimation, the most formidable of all the new atheists. I do not think it was coincidence, that Barker spent his formative years as a devout Christian advocate (as I did), and pastor. The degrees and ways in which he knows the arguments inside and out, including at least much of the philosophical logic that underpins it, was so superior to Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, even Sam Harris, that it was part of what persuaded me to drop the Christian faith as such. Now, it exists as a web of abstractions still begging the question. I've been down this road so much, and nearly back again, and so forth, I feel largely just cauterized to it. Almost numb. But not quite, as it always gnaws at me - is there something more, an intelligence, anything lasting, a reason for love to give rise to hope, a connectness, meaning, redemption, etc....these are the names I usually now use as a proxy for god. And at least for me -- though I have also found for most here -- I am using faith in a broad sense in terms of what reasons, to what themes, or forces, or things at all do people look to for hope.
  6. Yah, I go back and forth wondering if it was the naivete of youth, or if instead, that depression has clouded my vision and attitudes. How could I possibly (ever) know? The harder and more I overthink it, it seems the farther I get from anything like an answer. I think we all had 'it' at one point (I know there are probably tragic exceptions of some who had really awful childhoods, but this is a general statement about humanity). I have always been fascinated about where peoples' motivation derives from. No surprise that for me, as far as I knew, it came from Providence, although also of course from the family around me. But the hope from on high just can't be overstated. So, from an early age, I wondered quite seriously, how on earth and why, and from where do those who have hope in god, get it from? We saw it all as the repression and suppression of Truth, and that people are good at temporarily distracting themselves (which indeed we are), and just not thinking about it. Anyway, the common loss of this spirit is a key worry and fear I have for my kids, and regret that I am sure I am not being a good model for them...much as I try to pantomime hopefulness. And when they ask about things that bear on it, it will not take them long to realize that my answers about having hope from love for them is tautological, circular, and maybe nonsensical. Writing is arduous and often painful. Even when it is good, and a state of flow, editing is painful (which is why I barely do it here). : ) The quotation, that "writing is easy, you just open a vein and bleed," has probably been attributed to so many different people because, those of us who've tried, so easily relate to it. To me, it is the sweet science, not boxing. (It was Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith, an American sportswriter in 1949. And think of it. An entire career in writing, and he was lucky we remember 1 phrase he debatably is credited with!).
  7. "Life is poetry, not prose." So true, and thank you for summing up my worldview, at least as far as aesthetic, maybe everything, in 5 words. "The contradictions are painful but also beautiful, meaningful, exhilarating, amazing, deep, universal, timeless, liberating, soothing, healing, mind blowing." This reminds me of the phrase (from a book I never read), the unbearable lightness of being. It's one of those phrases that has stuck in my head with an irreducible quality about it. I can't unpack or disetc, or break it down into any other constituent parts. Last, in my random ramblings (and I got plenty of sleep last night), you mentioned the tarot card of the jester or the fool with elements of farce and slapstick, "in the best possible way." This is kind of like the above to me, it bespeaks absurdity, but perhaps not the futility of true black nihilism, and elides further deconstruction it seems to me. Like, I seem to understand it at a gestalt, visceral level, and don't have to entirely understand why. Finally, this reminds me of a movie in my top 10 list (I like how I mention that as though it matters : )), that I often forget, Synecdoche, New York, one of the most clever, layered works of art on film I have ever experienced. Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers equally to the whole or conversely the whole for one of its parts. Cleveland won, refers to either or both the city of cleveland and the Cavaliers basketball team (never to the Browns, for they do not win). Why there need be a word synecdoche, let alone trailing back all the way to ancient Greece, I cannot fathom.
  8. This is so good. My friend Kevin has said things like this, and it rings true, even since HS or college. Even as a rock-ribbed Republican prototype, I found myself loving and gravitating toward literature and great writing and art. The business curriculum was something I did as a game because one was 'supposed to' major in something they could make a living from, and it was 'respectable' for politics, and I'm sure it's had some benefit for getting by in the world...probably more than I realize. law too. I only really ever wanted to use it to do things that 'changed the world' via causes I cared about. I too have made virtually all my friends those who either are, or understand, or in any case will indulge in hearing and talking about depression and the heavier side of life. Otherwise, they're friendly acquaintances, whom I try to engage in small talk with and tolerate. Re: "...silly, cute, lumpy, vain, sometimes painful planet... I will always be drawn to the meta level, to the flipside, to the underdog, to the unusual, to the exceptional, to the inspirational. Living that life isn't easy. Plenty of artists succumb to depression and madness. Look at dear old Vincent. But if you have an artist's soul and *don't* live an artist's spiritual life, then life is pure hell and feels like numb, meaningless torture." Yes, to that. The whole book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, is about that, and you're right, the sheer number of artists from every field that have succumbed to it is staggering, only to be surpassed by those who have kept going (I almost said 'beaten it' but that didn't quite feel right), and in any case created things that inspired others to keep going. It reminds me of the great scene in Little Children where the adult sex-offender ex-con is living with his mom, and despairing, and she gives him the speech about how unlike other animals, only humans are self-aware that we could lose everything at any moment, and yet keep going anyway (this is one of about 10 things I quote over and over; I need to read more again, and happily have begun). This light touch you have, being able to describe things with elan, even winsome hopefulness in spite of the darkness and in the midst of the storms...this is what I miss most about my former self, and I usually attribute or at least associate most of it with my belief and practice of Christianity. This is what's hardest. I desperately miss this indomitable spirit that I used to have. And I had the Reason to have it. I didn't know what the future held, but I knew who held the future, and all that good stuff. I miss one of the best parts of myself that I have sometimes found again, but never been able to keep with confidence, or consistency or conviction. Cynicism has crept in and so often won the day. You're right that trying to fit the square peg into a round slot, not living the artist's life, is miserable. And I have struggled to do this with working 60 hrs/week and a family It's why I indulge myself so much in movies and art, and with my kids, and I don't really feel guilty about it. At least it's something. My friend Kevin's always telling me that also. He is very good at celebrating the eccentricities in his life - he works is mind-numbing 9-5, leaves, and does entirely what he wants, which is politics and art (and cars). I have neither the time, nor money, nor stability, nor free time. At least I have some fairly satisfying writing these days...this is also one of the reasons it often takes me longer to write a legal brief than average, or than it 'ought' to....I am an artisan much more than production machine. General practice litigators are all production. Complex litigators (mainly big firm attorneys) have to be both creative artist and production machine. I can do one well; the other I disdain and can do but in fits and starts, and I think ultimately it wears me out. This author, Julia Cameron wrote a book, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, that is largely about a method of trying to systematize this creative satisfaction mainly by getting up and writing 'morning pages' which is more or less, a stream of consciousness journal of sorts. It bored me to tears though. I keep trying to get up an exercise. I soon will. As I think back on life, there is a way to try to reclaim some discipline. A balance between basic prudent disciplines and self acceptance/compassion perhaps. I see discipline as a missing ingredient that used to allow me to unlock and multiply my effort creatively. There's an old adage that politicians and public speakers, and I presume actors, know well, that the best ad-libs were the product of many, many hours of practice and preparation. I think one of my favorite things about writing is that nowadays it can be more interactive, so it need not be so solitary. This is one of the things that has kept me going. There's this thought that if I can just hang on long enough, perhaps I will either find, or be able to get myself into a place where I may yet actually create some things I am actually proud of, and that might help inspire some others. The legal briefs are the closest to that so far, which are fairly pedestrian at least in function, at the end of the day. I try to write them with a certain degree of wit and style, but they're arguing points that seem mundane compared to the more interesting things I want to write and talk about. Well, this is kind of just writing to write here this morning. These are kind of my morning pages.
  9. Do you ever have not feeling at the end of the day that even though you did about as well as you could at most of the things you did, it's never good enough, for you? Even when I do my best, it's never good enough for me. Why am I built this way? Why can I not seem to learn to accept, to want what I have, just to let good enough be good enough?
  10. Purpose, Meaning and Faith Part 2: Fighting for Meaning The idea of making one's own meaning, fighting on in the search, the journey to discover, to find one's own meaning, is not new. It is seen as noble. But not if it is ultimately hollow because it's built on sand, and false. Some atheist friends would make a distinction between finding meaning 'in' things rather than a meaning 'of' things. Suuuuurrrrre, if that works for you. I can get pretty abstract, but that one meant nothing to me. Some of the wiser ones (by my judgment), would move closer to the honest edge, and acknowledge that yes, all is ultimately vanity, it won't matter, but they took their meaning where they could get it, and that was consequently from the rarity of beauty, from love, fragility, humanity. Which I tried. And I love the tragically beautiful, and even beautiful tragedy, but this wasn't enough for me. And so I battled and hated God. What a moronic thing to do and to say. It's embarrassing to write. But I have to. The article @Sophy shared was from Mark Manson, titled Find What You Love and Let It **** You. It's about tough, bracing battles and even a life, spent failing forward, in pain, confusion, banality, of the writer, Charles Bukowski. He apparently toiled for some 30 years in the post office before finally amassing the guts to risk leaving to publish and writer, and as he put it, "starve." But it seems to me he, and everyone who keeps going, maintains some certain spark of hope, which is what makes a person willing to choose anyway, and to risk. That, and desperation. Bukowski, actually would go on to enjoy significant fame and success both in Europe and the U.S., here, as the "laureate of American lowlife" - he was unusually honest and profane, even for a writer. So many of the ideas of my former Faith have their exact secular analogues, just in slightly different words. In orthodox Christendom, there is the idea of one's 'calling' from God - this literally is the grand purpose one feels compelled, called to, by God, the witness and confirmation through the Holy Spirit. When one feels it, there is nothing more powerful in the world. Any obstacle can be overcome, any suffering worth the cost. This is what I mean by purpose and meaning, but also the broader notion that there is a "redemption," or justice that ultimately the kinks and contradictions are worked out, and things make sense, and that we are all okay. Presently, or that we will be okay. The alternative, not being even okay, is the definition of being unacceptable, of a disturbed state, fractured, non-integrated, I think it is a foreshadowing of death itself (the believer would say sin). As I've been confronting all this anew again, I have come to, or comb back to (I'm not sure), some uncomfortable conclusions. - That any faith is necessarily a choice, a decision. There might be logic and reason and evidence, but the free agency of being human implies a choice, for we all believe in something. - That I get to make up a fair amount of whatever 'system' of faith I choose to have, since that's what everyone else is doing anyway. Even if their is some objective, absolute truth, any individual person only can know a sliver of it through the dark glass we see through now. - Whether "God" is a real person/relationship who interacts in my life, whom I could talk to, pray to, feel, experience, etc. - as I was so convinced of all my early life; or an abstract "concept by which we measure our pain," (John Lennon), it doesn't really change the price of tea in China. Or in Dayton. - This means I really can choose what I like and think is true, and what speaks to the best of us, and leave the rest, and I need feel no guilt or shame from this. My faith, at any rate, incorporates self-acceptance and love as a need and a good, and self-hatred and self-absorption as a root of dysfunction. and - Whether that 'higher power' -- god as I understand it -- is more person who knows, cares about me, and has my back (which I always wanted and so long believed), or an abstraction, like the real, but invisible, invariant, abstract, and often inscrutable entities that are laws of logic, reason, somewhat like gravity, or the Force, might change from day to day. It's okay, or it'll be okay. Even if it's not. Whatever truth is, I have a choice, with each moment, to accept all of reality exactly as it is, or to try to hide and run from parts of it, as a form of surrender to fear and pain. As much as the worn-in mental grooves of rumination seem to make it seem otherwise--like I only have 4 real different thoughts any more that then repeat ad infinitum-- nevertheless, I get to make a choice of what to believe. And like every other person who's ever lived, I can choose the good and make up half of it as I go. And recognize that when I judge myself by an impossible standard, I can occasionally stop. Breathe. Be at ease. Smile even.
  11. Purpose, Meaning and Faith Part 1: the Awesome Universal of Death "Every man dies, not every man really lives." I don't know if William Wallace really said it, but it's the best, stirring line from Braveheart. We are all dying. Right now. One of my old friends I've recently reconnected with used to admonish people to remind themselves at least daily by repeating, "some day, I'm going to die." I like to think of it more in terms that we all are already in the process of dying, not because it's more morbid, but rather because it makes it more real and stark in the here and now to think of it that way, that in terms of time, cellular atrophy, mental and physical decay, and the natural order of entropy, yes, as i key this sentence, I am dying...the moments are floating away toward zero. This is the conclusion of everyone who thinks, or looks around at life and observes. With respect to Ben Franklin, this is life's one true constant and equalizer. For some of us with depression, we can feel the specter of death stalking us like wraith or valkyrie (personally, I picture the Nazgul from LOTR or Dementor from Harry Potter, since they're both identical stand-ins for the grim reaper). I have a younger brother, much smarter and more thought-through about these things than I was (even though it's nearly all I ruminate on), so that even when I was at my rapier best, he could outflank me standing on almost mathematical formal logic of true philosophy (which alas, I never formally studied, curse it). When we would really battle over this, and scar each other up a little, I remember he would compliment me for having the awareness (he would have said foresight) to treat death with the seriousness it deserved as truly unacceptable. Uh, thanks Peter, I think. Recently, the idea of looking at life backward, starting from the grave, and seeking to live it with that perspective in view has continued to intrude upon my daily awareness. Several friends--including one here on DF (@Sophy)--have either invited to discussion, shared a passage from a book, an article, or otherwise brought up and discussed this idea, in their own words. One of these--a sermon series on Ecclesiastes--points it out in rather stark fashion, begging the reader to see if he or she can discern the throughline of hope through despair, pessimism and the cruelest of ironies. Ecclesiastes 1: 1-4a: 2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? 4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh (emphasis added). Consider, the 'preacher' (or teacher) writing about this utter meaninglessness is reputed to have been the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, who also enjoyed staggering wealth, great respect, unparallelled victory in war, and a rather prolific love life (I think I'd be happy with less than half of his 700 wives and 300 concubines for good measure). And yet, there he is, looking around, taking the long view, and realizing, indisputably, it was all just meaningless, because sure as the sun would rise again, in a flash, it would be over and because of that, nothing could really matter. It would have been a little like Job cursing God before anything bad happened to him, for no reason other than existential angst (wouldn't that have been just as warranted by the way?!) Maybe it's because I was born into this kind of dualistic thinking about good/evil, light/dark, salvation/damnation, redemption/meaninglessness, or maybe these are a reflection of laws of logic and reason sewn into the fabric of our minds and the universe itself. These invisible, invariant, abstract entities, that are nonetheless as real as gravity, and nag at us. Try to resist them, try to run from them, to find a way around, over, under, through or past them, and they gobble up the ground you thought you were running on, like an unstoppable villain in an animated fantasy film. And from a rational, material, non-transcendent worldview, the author in first half of ecclesiastes was right, and so was every nihilist thinker right on through to Rust Cohle (Google some youtube clips if you want a treat). Some people seem to find their way around this, at least in how they live (and it's a beautiful thing not to be mocked or minimized). Futile. Painful still in the way life and art are. But beautiful. For without redemption, they too will disintegrate into nothingness their beauty matter no more. This is precisely the tension, the almost euphoric agony I feel nearly-constantly torn between: the fleeting, ethereal beauty of life, where rarely, but on occasion: "I feel absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds, the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be. It's as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade." -- Christopher Isherwood (Colin Firth), A Single Man One of the most exhausting things about this is that you can work, and talk, and read, and think, and struggle and fight to find your redemption, your meaning, and ... still lose and come up completely empty. And even if you win for a while, it can feel very much like losing. I think this is what the song below is about (if you've never listened to it, its beautiful, although haunting). A Thousand Kisses Deep The ponies run, the girls are young The odds are there to beat You win a while and then it's done Your little winning streak And summoned now to deal With your invincible defeat You live your life as if it's real A thousand kisses deep I'm turning tricks, I'm getting fixed I'm back on boogie street You lose your grip and then you slip Into the masterpiece And maybe I had miles to drive And promises to keep You ditch it all to stay alive A thousand kisses deep And sometimes when the night is slow The wretched and the meek We gather up our hearts and go A thousand kisses deep Confined to sex we pressed against The limits of the sea I saw there were no oceans left For scavengers like me I made it to the forward deck I blessed our remnant fleet And then consented to be wrecked A thousand kisses deep I'm turning tricks I'm getting fixed I'm back on boogie street I guess they won't exchange the gifts That you were meant to keep And quiet is the thought of you The file on you complete Except what we forgot to do A thousand kisses deep And sometimes when the night is slow The wretched and the meek We gather up our hearts and go A thousand kisses deep The ponies run, the girls are young The odds are there to beat You win a while and then it's done Your little winning streak And summoned now to deal With your invincible defeat You live your life as if it's real A thousand kisses deep But I’m still working with the wine Still dancing cheek to cheek The band is playing Auld Lang Syne But the heart will not retreat I ran with Diz, I sang with Ray I never had their sweep But once or twice they let me play A thousand kisses deep I loved you when you opened Like a lily to the heat You see I’m just another snowman Standing in the rain and sleet Who loved you with his frozen love His secondhand physique With all he is and all he was A thousand kisses deep But you don’t need to hear me now And every word I speak It counts against me anyhow A thousand kisses deep - Leonard Cohen
  12. that's a good system. DBT calls that wise mind, but I like your formulation better.
  13. Okay, so there's a real domestic relations case in Dayton called Kramer v. Kramer (which unhelpfully says that our civil stalking protection order statute wasn't passed to alleviate merely uncomfortable situations). Kramer v. Kramer, 2002 Ohio 4383. Kramer vs. Kramer is the name of a well-known movie about a nasty domestic relations dispute between Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. I may find a way to mention this when I cite it in my brief to the court. It will amuse me, even if not the court.
  14. oh god, man, I hope you don't have to do that. Has she had any change in her prognosis? I'm sorry. I always have this sort of anti-Ayn-Rand (Atlas Shrugged) impulse to want to burn all the money in the world, so we all would have to just start over at some sort of parity, mostly apart from the strictures of money and property ownership.
  15. Interesting. I am the opposite in that I naturally get close to people, trust too much, get vulnerable, do not like boundaries, if anything tend to overshare, and do not like surface relationships or holding people at arm's length. This often leads to getting hurt in one way or another, but I just keep doing it anyway, consciously, I think because I just abhor small-talk-type relationships (which are virtually no relationship at all). Yes, I much prefer risk-taking activity. And while my actual behavior, I think in most respects, has been pretty tame, the things I have been willing to do--and still am especially given the right mood--are, well, nearly limitless. In fact, doing the extreme, is nearly the only thing I often find to make it worth being conscious. In all domains, whether we're talking bungee jumping, dru gs, sex, performance art, you name it. I mean, basically all the things for which we watch TV and movies, I want to really try, and some of them I do. I rather detest 'inhibitions,' as being the most artificial and fake thing about our human interaction. Maybe that's what people are after in nudist colonies - I don't know - not my cup of tea, but if so, I get it. Yes NOVA's CSB does run the call center. They do a lot of other things really well, but that one has probably gone the way of dilution. I do wonder how someone could do that very long - take call after call from one person after another, on the verge of sui cide. I mean, I feel far too comfortable talking to people about it, but when it is them, it would wear me out not to be able to really think I was helping them. Ah, well, good times.
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