Apparently someone named William Nicholson wrote, “We read to know we’re not alone.” Supposedly the remark is from a play about the life of C.S. Lewis, Shadowlands, and I probably first heard it in the film of the same name. Then I forgot where I heard it until I looked it up late morning today before writing all this.
About a hundred years ago, when I was a small child living with my younger brother and my mom in a 1920’s cut-rate, smallish Mission Revival style bungalow on 18th Street below Mesa in San Pedro, California in the days before area codes. That’s when I first began to read – to bend my mind in earnest to read.
We were my father’s second family (or, who knows, possibly his third or fourth – he was capable of living double and triple lives if it suited him). Dad came to the door and I crowded beside my mother at the door impulsively the way little kids respond to anything like a telephone bell or a knock on the door. My dad was excited in a happy way. He held up a stack of papers for me to examine, pointed to some words about midway down, and asked, “What does that say?”
What he’d pointed to was his name on the title page of his doctoral dissertation. I couldn’t read his name and tried to sound it out, couldn’t, felt ashamed. I remember that.
Dad flipped out and started yelling at my mom, cursing. The gist of what he said was, “What are they teaching him at that school” – a parochial school where my mom taught to offset tuition. Dad used profanity. Mom started crying and pleading with Dad to understand that I’d only recently started 1st Grade (we’d been out of the country during the year I would have been in Kindergarten).
And I can still recall wondering why it was that I started crying as soon as my mother started crying. Dad wasn’t angry with me and I didn’t feel sad. I remember wondering about that strange circumstance and connection and feeling dissatisfied with it.
I read because my father programmed me to read using the trauma method of child training. I didn’t know that’s what had happened. I was only consciously aware of the strange connection-with-my-mom thing. I read to make my father happy and keep my mother from crying.
I was a different kind of child – I spoke my first sentence at about nine months. “Look Mommy, doggy eat eat all up.” That sentence is recorded in a scrapbook documenting my first year of life.
Years later, during elementary school, I was subjected to an intelligence test. I have a freakishly high intelligence quotient. The kind of I.Q. based on actual calculations of the sort that doesn’t factor in leftist fantasies about correcting for whiteness or ‘privilege’. Several standard deviations above the mean, within the standard error of measure.
I wish my dad had come unglued about a math problem because if he had, I’d probably have become a math prodigy of some sort and mind-numbingly rich due to having weaponized human consciousness or something easier like Tesla’s electric-power-out-of-the-air or perpetual motion underwater drives or how to travel faster than the speed of light. I have worked out some basis for understanding the nature of time and human experience of and function within same. Etc. But my point is, the ability to read. The ability to comprehend pretty much anything another human mind can devise and put into words. Big whoop, right?
Another problem with high intelligence is that you tend to think everyone’s like you, and when they don’t understand what’s obvious to you, or what you think is simple, straightforward communication, it’s damnably frustrating. It’s easy to become embittered against people who are just being the people they are and genuinely aren’t able to grasp what seems simple to you. More difficult but right is finding a way to show kindness toward them, and a lot of the time that involves wishing them well from a safe distance.
Watching TV and Reading
When I was young, I had asthma, severe allergies. Those conditions imposed limitations upon my activities. I remember frequent trips to the local emergency room and “adrenaline shots.” Additionally, I was sick a lot. The kind of sickness that results in feeling weak and barfing. I spent a lot of time indoors and home from school due to illness.
I watched a lot of TV. I read all the time and also drew pictures pretty much constantly.
I still read and sometimes still draw. If you look, you can find some of my drawings in various posts on this blog.
Over the past 10 plus years have watched TV shows by the season on various subscription services. I watched a couple of seasons of The Pretender TV series. More than once, I wish I’d been sold to a research institute and raised to fulfill my intellectual potential. The renowned Karen Horney famously opined that the first evil children perceive is parental indifference and I think she was right. To this day, I have no idea to what purpose my parents “raised” me.
Back when I had a Facebook page, in the About section, I described myself as the “product of a Cold War era eugenics experiment that went unreported in the major scientific journals of the day.” That’s a metaphor, right? I use metaphor to cope with life as I experience life, to help explain and make tolerable that experience.
Right now, I’m reading a Karen Traviss novel entitled “Going Grey” about the product of military industrial biological experiment that was carried to full term and allowed to live. Odd it strikes me that someone’s written a novel about something similar to what I in dark good humor wrote about myself. Or maybe it’s pretty common to feel that way. Possibly there’re a lot of us who feel we may as well have been grown in a tank.
Because at one point in my life – 25 to 30 years ago – I got tired of hearing myself whine about “I never chose to be born into this family” and “Why should I have to suffer because of (whatever I wanted to believe was someone else’s fault goes here)?” Because of that, and my complaining was constant enough it broke through to my conscious awareness as an irritant, I found a way to stop it. I asked God to provide me exactly the circumstances I found so objectionable – parents, family situation, life circumstances. And I invited the Almighty to join me, to experience all that with me.
Emotions are Shit
recently heard a preacher declare that worship equals an amalgam of emotion and truth, but I don’t think emotion is necessarily a component of worship. I think human beings likely apprehend and respond to the majesty and glory of God in a variety of ways. Worship is transformative and elevating.
Emotions are the byproduct of neurobiological functioning that involves awareness and the ability to know one is having an experience – like feces and urine are material byproduct of the way we, as organisms acquire/process nutrients through feeding and digesting. We live and experience and produce emotions just like we eat and process nutrients and are left with waste matter. Emotions are a variety of waste.
Maybe not in every instance are emotions of no value. Sometimes in the moment we experience an emotion that tells us that something in the circumstances we inhabit is problematic or is okay or is better than okay. But the emotions we’re left with after an experience versus those we experience in the moment are pretty much shit. Offload it discretely, clean up, and move on.
If you’ve read this far, maybe you’re not the only one of your species on this planet regardless of what it feels like to be you.