Tag Archives: metacognition

Yes, I’m the Great Pretender

Who are you kidding?

Delusion abounds in this the age of information. We are deluded and misdirected in this ever increasingly complex civilization we have been born into.

I try to understand economics. I read about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. I listen to commentary on the radio. One friend is angry at labor unions. Another friend blames bankers for his problems, another affirmative action, women’s liberation and Greenpeace.

Changing the subject is a popular devise to bury a subject you’d rather not discuss. I thought we were in the midst of a Great Recession, that there were millions upon millions of people without work and needed a job?

A group of men advertising themselves as celibate go get their nickers in a knot over a topic most of us thought settled five decades ago! Not only does birth control as a burden fall disproportionally upon women, it turns out the attack on this burden is executed disproportionally by a group of men vowing to have nothing to do with the very thing women alone are burdened with.

In the age of delusion we don’t fix problems. We have problems and when we begin to feel as if one problem is beginning to be fixed we raise new problems. Don’t let the (expletive deleted) get you down.

 

There is this profound sense that we can’t change. There is this slow motion train wreck quality to our times. More delusion probably, all too many people think that everything is just great.

It is literally a miracle to me that somehow we have managed to make jetliners as safe as we have given our propensity to delude ourselves. Maybe we’re kidding ourselves. Maybe it is far more dangerous than we know?

Facts- they say are stubborn things, but it is looking like delusion is too. I don’t think we get up in the morning go into the bathroom and wash our face and look into the mirror and say, “who are you kidding?”

Even if we did start the day off with the admonition to play it straight with ourselves it seems we are all in our own separate realities. Life is not a series of distinct, autonomous events. Life is more a flow, one event pushing the previous event out of our mind only to find that event being pushed by the next and the next.

Of course living in a ‘fact free of consequences world’ allows us to simply all go our own deluded way. Since nothing bad has happened nothing bad will happen. That’s delusions greatest threat; what might be bad for you might well be good for me!

Delusion doesn’t require a mental deficiency of any kind. Perfectly healthy well educated people can be utterly and completely deluded. We don’t need any help.

But, when you wake up, when you make an observation, and it is apparently confirmed and verified to be true and then you don’t react, don’t do what you can to right the situation and you pretend that you can’t do anything about it, that’s the bait to the trap.

The modern world we live in might simply be too complicated for us. That’s the biggest delusion, or perhaps it is a stubborn fact yet to be reckoned with.

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I Feel like a Natural Woman

Soul on Fire

Do you listen to your body? Do you overrule yourself and go against instinct? If you are in an odd situation how do you feel your way through things?

Moving from performing to writing and then back again I am reminded of this physical guidance system built into our nervous system.

I put a scene together in a chapter of one of my novels, building it piece by piece, brick by brick until it finally comes alive. The words and actions of the characters when carefully constructed can create the illusion of an experience. It rings true.

My men need women in my fiction and I have no choice but to get out my set of tools and construct them. I grew up in a family with three sisters.

I was always so at home with the women I danced with. I became one of them. They needed to forget about my gender, at least while we were dancing, we had work to do.

The women were in a competition with one another. It was their turf. In class once I had been accepted I was allowed to observe how they would jockey for advantage with one another.

There was nuance. They veiled their thoughts. Their eyes spoke nothing. Then, all at once I might note one of the dancers stealing a glance. They looked away. In their eyes you could see their thinking.

First and foremost I saw women with a fierce determination. They all seemed tough. They maintained a resolute confidence. Even the second or third or fourth best dancer among the women danced as if they were the best.

After class they would allow that another dancer might have an edge but while they were on the dance floor in a studio they moved with grit and confidence. I admired the women because their strength of character was colored with such a rich and textured vulnerability that you would seldom if ever find in the men.

In many ways I am very feminine, and I don’t mean in some silly insecure sense of the meaning, but each of us is in fact not just all male or all female. We all have some aspect, some fraction that consists of the other gender, and that other is located within us.

One of the privileges of fiction is that it allows us to channel these multitudes of people that inhabit our being. We have a duty to honor them and to speak as truthfully for them as our received wisdom allows.

A human being is in some odd sense a repository of experiences that transcends this one mortality. We know things that have come stored in our souls. There is a vast treasure of humanity capable of speaking through us. It is a mystery some days and as ordinary as old wallpaper on others.

 *A neighbor friend of mine who reads novels voraciously enjoyed your “Bankrupt Heart” immensely. He especially appreciated the atmosphere of the boatyard, a place and milieu imaginative literature had not yet taken him. He was also taken by the depth and authenticity of the characters. *

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To Hell in a Handbasket By Do-Gooders

I hate it when life looks this good...

How mean and nasty are you? I’m well shy of criminal mean and nasty but then I’m not talking about crime, I mean more generally about disposition, the essential direction of your personality.

I’ve seen perfectly rational individuals once they are inside the construct of a relationship find that they have a pretty short fuse. Light that thing and they just blow right up like a stick of dynamite.

The fuse thing comes as a surprise. So long as they are not in a relationship there is no fuse. With a relationship they have one. Some folk figure the solution to the problem is not to have that problem to begin with. So for starters they stay way the hell clear of relationships.

Now these stay the hell clear types who after a spell of doing nothing go out dancing and drinking. So, they get dragged right back to the very place they had promised that they would not go back to ever again.

Look at that face, a man really not happy right now, beautiful

 

This is the mystical nature of the unavoidable and unintended consequences of stubbornness. The less open you are to a thing the more that thing will occupy your attention.

You have to learn how to grit your teeth, not blow your top, you fake it until you make it; if you make it at all because it is a long journey to the serenity you have witnessed with your own eyes but have never had a taste of in your own heart.

I watch bemused with the dispositions of people in such places asSouth Carolina. They seem to have worked themselves up. They seem to be steamed. Don’t like things the way they are and as best I can tell they have a notion to get this thing moving back in a direction more suited to their point of view.

I suspect we are all looking together at some mysterious force; something you just can’t pretend doesn’t exist. It’s got fire, spleen, gumption. People snarl and insult. They turn into all elbows and tart rejoinder. I look in the mirror and swear if things keep going the way things are going I could end up joining their club… I’ll need a few more affairs, leave another wife and be sure to not release my tax returns.

It is a thing of beauty. I’m proud of folk for thinking outside the box. South Carolinian’s understand that we are all foul and fake. We all have some little monster just beneath the surface. So since love can drive us out of our minds lets try this other route. Their might be goodness in virtue but there is true happiness in a good old fashioned temper tantrum, you know something that can really make your blood boil.

It is why misery loves company. It allows the whole lot of us to celebrate the least of what we are. I have wasted all these years trying to be just a little tiny bit better. Its time to reconsider how much more satisfying my life could be if I just stopped trying to fix things and stick with being what I really am: unhappy.

 

 

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The Atomic Cocktail Please… with a Twist

Wide Open and want to keep it that way

In 1951 the atomic test site began a series of over 100 above ground atomic bomb detonations. Our ignorance was bliss, bombs were entertainment. The atomic cocktail was served to customers who had come to the top floor skyscraper lounges of Las Vegas. Here they could enjoy the view of the mushroom clouds and a brilliant glowing flash followed seven minutes later by shockwaves that rocked buildings and cracked plaster.

Yucca Mountain is north of the test site. Here like a zombie it rests, scientifically proven unsafe, but that doesn’t dissuade the truly motivated from trying to place it back on the list of facilities we can bury the most nasty manmade heap of life unfriendly radioactive waste the world has ever known.

Now, this goes a long way of explaining how the mind of a rural resident of Nevada works. The nefarious outside forces of crony capitalists, bought off politicians, and nuclear industry stooges have continued to make trouble. They won’t give up, still want their way.

People who live out there come in all shapes and sizes. They think this way and they go that way. Different kind of people is a way to explain it. They tend to want to be left the hell alone. From far away you might think they have some kind of special bias. You’d think they just were born to have a bad feeling for government.

They’ve seen money poured down the throat of some pretty trustworthy types and then watch in horror as that very same person begins singing like a radiation spoon fed canary over the virtues of doing with their state the very thing they most do not want done.

They do not go by fancy labels. They don’t need them. Because the Great Basin and Mojave is desert there are visitors that do have not a cultivated appreciation for what is to be found there.

There is no deal to be made. It isn’t a place where compromise holds much sway. There is little water. It was for most of the last 13,000 years a place where man passed through. It supported a few. Most found fairer climates and more abundant food in other parts of the west.

What we have here now is a band of people who know the truth of a sunrise and sunset; people who like quiet and want to be left alone. You want to go to a brothel? Not a problem. You do your thing and they will continue to do their thing. But, doing what you want and destroying what you have is where these folk draw the line.

I’d say a true blue citizen of Nevada is something akin to trying to define pornography, might not know how to define such a person, but by god you’ll know one when you see one.

           

You can find my book by placing my name, Dana Smith and Bankrupt Heart into the search engine at either Amazon or Barnes and Noble and it should take you right there.

God as Narrator

One of the Locations of the Primordial Soup

I’m looking to find the omnipotent voice of god. I’d like to use this voice, be it a man or woman, to be the narrator. I’m going to have god narrate the circumstances that befall a sleepy out in the middle of nowhere place inNevada.

Now, the trick is to channel this voice, pretend while I am writing that I’m god. It’s just a role and once I’m done playing this divine force I’m obligated by sanity to return to earth and live my mortal life along with the rest of you.

Of course I am both novelist and street performer and I want to tell you that there has been in the course of this latter work a temptation after shows to believe so much in the performance that it triggered this inflated sense of self, a sense that can much resemble the very likeness of the narrator I am trying to fabricate.

I have found certain kinds of men prone to this same temptation. Some military generals come to mind as one kind of omnipotent know it all’s. Some of our titan’s of finance qualify. Rush Limbaugh seems to have a sublime version having driven himself deaf from drug abuse and by some miracle of oracle can no longer hear but can still speak. These are what I call the false gods, for they generally worship at the altar of money, and any ten year old can tell you money is a lot of things, but unlike psychedelic drugs has never been known to be good at showing you where the great omnipotent voiced narrator is located.

It is a big job coming up with the voice of god as your narrator since among other things the thing has to be accomplished not near perfect, but absolutely perfect. About the only absolutely perfect thing I have any point of reference to is my mom. Now she was human and pretty much stuck at the same level as the rest of us here. But, when it came to loving her kids she was just out of this world perfect!

You know that old axiom, ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’? I thought John Huston did a good job of being a very bemused god. He conveyed a real sense of not caring about winning or losing, and I have to admit I’ll need some practice. I get upset with myself just losing at solitaire. But, then maybe that’s the whole problem right there. It might be hard if you were really and truly god to find some corner of the cosmos where you could go and enjoy a moment of unpredictability.

I think you are getting where I am going with this. I mean if we knew everything that was going to happen before it happened hanging out at the level of life could get pretty darn predictable, especially since everything that’s about to come true turned out to be signed off by you. So, I’m just thinking this through. I’m going to fake this narrator god voice thing, forget about true authenticity. It would be nice to have really got him down here to reprise his role, but since that’s not likely I’ll just make to do with a facsimile. Close to god is good enough.

BANKRUPT HEART

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Change of Heart

Adrift in a sea of change....

It has been time to suck it up. You know the way. You get up earlier. You try harder. You mean to apply yourself. Eat better. Drink more water. Review the plan and then work it. More important try to enjoy it.

Having now had a good stint at doing necessary tasks I can put my shoulder into the next items on the list. I keep a list now. It was a less common habit in previous suck it up chapters of my life. There is nothing quite like the thrill of being reminded by your own list of what a good or dreadful idea you had.

Affirmations are everywhere. For one thing I am happy to eat an apple just now. Perfect! Having just completed my second long fiction project I was heartened to read that the next thing to do ought to be something different. Just buckle up into that desk chair and put that imagination into gear and if you were driving slow and carefully this time go fast and carelessly.

There is nothing quite like being your own obstacle and it has been my great fortune and curse to be unable to stop myself. I’m speaking of writers block. It isn’t to be confused with the pain we go through to write well.

Sucking it up is approached from the best and worst directions. You try and close in on the one thing. You’ve got to try and not try. You have to guard against flab. You must have the courage to poke your deepest weaknesses. Great! Just what I want to do.

I’ve been annoyed today by a formatting dysfunction. I haven’t lost any time, yet! I’ll try it again. I’m busy right now. It was on my list. Post something for the holidays. Get with it Smith. I’m entering the dangerous sink where like most of you two days will be used for ritual. I’m grateful. I need the break. A good sucking it up comes into better view alongside a good patch of sloth and excess time at the table where I’ll put the sucking it up into some kind of jujitsu reverse gear. Merry Christmas…….

 

I Knew Norman Mailer, I met Norman Mailer, I Miss the Man

Dusk Settles in on what we thought was true...

Writers have this obstacle to overcome in the ongoing tension between modern brain research and western psychological model and spirituality. As such authors are required to either conform to the conventions of the day, or if they do not invent methods to circumvent these limitations.

Here is Norman Mailer in conversation, “When you write novels the person who tells the story is crucial to at least half the success of the novel I would say depends on how the story is told. Is it told by one person sitting in their own mind and giving you objective external descriptions of everyone else, or do you have a omniscient narrator which was common to the 19th century novel where literally you have to assume that this person has godly powers and can enter every single mind. And that worked very well for the 19th century because then most people believed in god, most people who read novels believed in god, and therefore the novelist could be analogous to god for the sake of enjoying the fiction. It was just easy to enter everyone’s mind, you could do it and now you can’t with the modern canon which really feels they got rid of this medieval nonsense through the enlightenment through the last few centuries and that most people can do without god and the devil, they certainly don’t want them intruding so the notion is that you stay in one intelligence, one consciousness, you don’t try to cover everyone, and that’s inhibiting, in you get lots of problems of development when you only have the consciousness of your narrator.”

Freedom to Roam

With the rapid developments in neurobiological research we are discovering that this scientific point of view of consciousness is not very precise, research is proving that it is not contained, that it is not located exclusively inside a person, but rather being more a part of a larger system of energy and information that extends beyond the boundaries of the physical body. In short a kind of biological explanation for what is sometimes called “having a meeting of the minds,” when two people are interacting.

In the planning stages of making a novel the author builds an outline that they will work from. I have been concerned not just with a plot, but I have been interested in the metaphysical implications of making a story that is more in accord with our most recent mind science research.

If the world is not made up of discreet individual human consciousnesses in the most rigid sense of this model, but is rather a more networked, more a blended neurobiological phenomena, that is one part made up of a brain where is born what we call mind, but that this mind exists more like a receiver and/or more like a transmitter, and more likely to know and perceive and understand its external world out there because of the energy and information that is readily available in its environment, then we can build new fiction by ways that have until now been held in obedience to this 20th Century model of the mind.

And I am not talking science fiction here, but general fiction that is made of stories describing common events in everyday life. It isn’t that there is a right answer to this issue, just that it is something authors deal with throughout the telling of a story.

Why do we know what someone is going to say before they say it? Often an unfaithful spouse’s partner doesn’t need anyone to tell them if their partner has been cheating. These are examples of information existing beyond mind.

These are exciting times. Writers can work beyond these previous boundaries. Still it isn’t just psychological restrictions that are overcome there are also literary habits that necessarily have to evolve as well.

What is this all about? It is how we explore and expand our understanding of the world we are all born into. Picasso revealed to us a world as never before ever seen. The ancient cave paintings in the south of France are artifacts of neurobiological evolution. They literally exemplify the metaphorical leap of the mind. That moment in time when we first began to be able to think in the abstract. Wasn’t long before man invented the wheel.

Dawn of a New Day

BANKRUPT HEART

“What have you done?” he said to that glimmer of self in the window. “It’s over man, how can you fix this, what you going to do, this time, you don’t need another job you need another you.”

Ry Waters lifted his hand to his hair and dug his fingers into his scalp while scratching with his thumb against an itch on his forehead. “Where do you begin?” He felt groggy like it was dawn and he was just waking up. “My whole life is a stinking mess.” He was determined to go out a class act. He would not allow his shoulders to slump. He was going to leave with his chin up. The last day on the job turned out to be a one man going away party in vivid, painful, living color, until this man Ry once knew appeared in the window and called him to account. 

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith