Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I do want to do an "autobiographical" video, and here is why

In the coming weeks, I expect to make some “autobiographical” videos.  These will present “my story” in a way that doesn’t require someone to have read my books (and to understand my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book you need to know something about the first two in the series).  The videos would constitute material that could be used to interest others in making one of the DADT scripts into a film (it’s not easy to imagine pimping Kickstarter for it, but possible).

Let me make a technical note.  I have been experimenting with Final Cut Express on a MacBook with the older 10.6.8 operating system – but that is the problem.  Even though the editing in Express is supposed to be the same as Pro, it’s becoming apparent that I need a much more modern environment with Pro to get this done.

So, why do I “keep on writing”?  Why do I “talk” instead of “act”.  Well, I research before I “talk”.  But, seriously, that’s the question I have to explore.  People do knock on my doors and want my attention at various life levels, as they have at different points in my life.  This issue, of my “responsiveness” and apparent “lack of assertiveness” was somewhat less of an issue when I was “working” in my main track career in mainframe IT for thirty-plus years, than it was earlier in my life or later, during the eldercare period with my mother.  I think it’s fair for me to ask of “you”, well, “What do you want from me?”  Frankly, there are a lot of contradictions, things that don’t add up.  It’s fair for “you” to ask, “what I do I want?” Public recognition for my content?  Well, yes.  I’d like to get my music performed professionally (which can only happen if it is technically presentable enough).  I’d like to the get the fiction novel done (finally), and the screenplay produced.  Yes, this gets me up in the morning, at 71.  And “ordinary” social connections don’t, although the hope connected to certain “fantasies” or dreams does.  And, yes, I find some succor in publishing analysis of current events and then later claiming “I told you so.” 

Yes, I am “different” and there is tension between my pursuit of my own goals, even in retirement, and the “real needs” of others, leading to existential questions like, to I really like or “love” my customers enough to “care”?  There are times in life when we don’t fully get to choose what we do, and sometime we “must” do the bidding of others, despite our best efforts of prevention, and despite narrower libertarian ideas of “personal responsibility” and “contract”.

A good way to kickoff the discussion is to invoke the idea of “service”, and even acceptance of some servitude, as I discussed in a posting here Sept. 30, commenting on a congregational prayer at the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Arlington VA (it’s also on the International Issues blog Sept. 28, the same Sunday that the prayer was used).  That ties into another discussion, about the relationship between “Asperger’s Syndrome” and “schizoid personality”, both which have applied to me.  There are behaviors (and omissions) common to both.  In general, “Asperger’s” refers to a problem in neurological development, and is viewed as part of autism (the mildest form).  “Schizoid” refers to a pattern of reflection, preference for many solitary activities, and a disdain for intimate relations with others, and aloofness to sharing emotion of others. It gets very negative press, as "malignant self-love", but it is a fry cry from the narcissistic personality, or even schizophrenia.  

It isn’t much good to dwell on “diagnostic criteria”. In my life, “Schizoid” represents an adaptation.  If someone (like me) isn’t able to compete socially according to gender norms in life, then “I” may try a lot of other means: solitary activities, upward affiliation, emotion connected to art or music, a fantasy life, and a certain style of self-broadcast.  Fortunately, my society became progressive enough that I was able to live a “productive” life as an “individual contributor” (as HR people call it).  That might not have been.  The alternative for me might have been “servitude”.  If that was not acceptable, it might have been death.  I must see this in moral terms, not just medical.  In a way, I’m lucky, and other people aren’t.  But important in my adaptation was intense emotion for some people I “thought a lot of”.  With such people I was usually very careful in how I managed relationships.   With others I could be careless.  Sometimes I would prattle about external issues to “second choice” people, which I saw as threats to me, but which are less relevant for those who are socially well adapted, even if not terribly accomplished individually.  Of course, that’s self-indulgent.  Part of my adaptation is that I don’t become jealous, and I don’t need to play the numbers games or “likeonomics” on social media.  I don’t have continuous electronic chat (like in “Men, Women & Children”) with anyone, because I don’t need to; it’s not my strategy. Overuse of social media chat just risks rejection and blocking (as in that movie).

So examination of all suggests that there is some common understanding of what should be expected of “people who are different” or “people like me”.  Inductive reasoning then intervenes, and one thinks there are some moral principles that apply to “divergents” in general.  That’s because it is easier for people to “do what they have to do” if they know that others in similar circumstances “have to” and will. An associated question is, when do societies properly worry that a “divergent” sill set an example that others will emulate?   I turn this question around with a Vox-style cardstack that I made in 2011, where I examine logically (in the style of a mathematical or plane geometry “proof”)  the idea that “liberal democracy” is sustainable but limits on individual choice need to be systematically examined, Wordpress link here

Sexual orientation used to play out as a “proxy” for this larger debate (and what is going on in Russia and other non-democratic countries with respect to homosexuality will illustrate this point).  This has a lot more about the meaning people give to procreation (of others around them as well as their own) than we want to admit, or than I even wanted to accept in the past.  People fighting battles over marriage equality today don’t remember how it was a half-century ago, when it was more about “privacy” and being “left alone”.  But it’s because sometimes we have to work together closely and share risks (as the old military draft with its skewed deferment system illustrated) that we aren’t always left alone.  Another aspect that played out when I was younger was that at least one roommate feared that my homosexuality could make other men around me impotent and unsuccessful with women.  In a more modern setting, encompassing the idea of gay marriage and couples, excess "upward affiliation" counters the expectation that people in a relationship can remain passionate during physical adversity (an absolute necessity when a population faces enemies or serious external adversity), or that less "attractive" persons find partners at all; so the presence of someone who exhibits this pattern is seen as a serious distraction to others.  You see how this style of “thinking” goes.

I plan to present some scenarios in videos where others have “pressured” me inappropriate, and, to play fair, how I have pressured them.   There are some areas where reflection leads me into circular and disturbing areas.   For example, authoritarian societies (like Russia) do seem to be “successful” in a way;  but I can’t fit into them and would have no purpose, so I would feel I should not exist if I found myself one.  Or, society might become much less accommodating to “someone like me” modern civilization broke down because of some calamity (nuclear war, or enemy EMP attack, for example); again, there would be no “purpose” for me (so, in a Christian sense, why would I even want to be “saved”?  No, I can’t see any point in “manipulating” people just to get them to buy things – so I don’t compete well in a social hierarchy;  There’s nothing for me hereafter either if I fail here.)   I think there is a good question in wondering how someone who is different should behave when he decides the society around him is “evil” and I’m afraid that, confronted with that, I might not want to survive.  I don’t see the point of salvation after being a “loser” – a reaction that does affect my openness to relations with others – yet I realize that it is easy to “lose” because of deliberate violent hostility or negligence of others – just as it is easy to lose because of one’s own misbehavior or failure.  The concern that it is possible to become a “victim” (or “casualty”) has become much more disturbing to me in recent years, as the apparent social tensions connected to inequality increase.  But of course, if people “give up” when things go wrong, that makes it easier for authoritarianism (Putin-style or radical Islam) to take over. 
My own father spewed double meaning when he preached “To obey is better than to sacrifice”.  Because the need to accept sacrifice can come true.  "Cowardice", the way we used to see it as something that crawls out of the woodwork during hardship or coercion, can be as big a "sin" as ordinary transgressions of commission.  When someone in my shoes is perceived as a "parasite" or as beholden to the unseen sacrifices of others, he can meet brutality and even force, and it can get very ugly, often from those who believe they are just following religious precepts.   "Fundamentalism" and political radicalism can seem attractive to some people exactly because it derives meaning from the idea that everybody follows the same rules and is exposed to the same risks and sacrifices.   The only counterweight is love and openness, sometimes to showing affection for others or feelings one would have rejected in the past.  The willingness for people (even like me) to do that may be the last defens to authoritarianism when things get tough.   

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