Category Archives: modern times

Dopamine Fasting Is Really A Thing

Thanks to co-morbid mental health concerns, I am a person with considerable dopamine issues. So when I saw a headline in the Inverse Daily newsletter about dopamine fasting, my interest was absolutely piqued.

“A dopamine fast? Clue me in, Inverse!” I said out loud to no one. (Did you know cats have the ability to roll their eyes?)

According to the article, it only takes a single day of abstinence from, well, most everything you’re used to flooding your senses. We’re talking social media, advertisements, entertainment, conversation, podcasts, audio books, video games, pretty much anything on the computer. No board games, no poker, no hate-watching reality TV, no re-writing librettos to make them pornographic – you see where this is going. And of course: no drinking, no drugs, no smoking, no sex. No junk food, no dessert. No gossip, no schadenfreude if you happen to witness your grumpy neighbor stepping in dog poop. Basically, nothing from which you derive some sort of pleasure or gratification, especially the immediate kind. Anything that makes your receptors fire off that sweet, sweet dopamine is off-limits.

Illustration of the Dopamine Pathway

Image: Inverse Daily

Presumably you can do stuff like wash dishes,  get a root canal, or build a pyramid. (But don’t take my word for it – Read more about exactly what they mean by “dopamine fasting” here.)

My imaginatory vagueness led me to come away with the idea that this fasting period sounds a lot like the idea of stillness, put forth by the Stoics and recently highlighted by Ryan Holiday in his new book, Stillness is the Key, which – oops – I haven’t read, because it’s a new book, and I’m a Poor – but I do get his daily newsletter, and I’m down with the concept, as the amount of information, disinformation, static, sound, and noise that is pelted at me daily is overwhelming. I’m a delicate flower, also known as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

(If you are also one of these HSPs, please don’t be offended. It’s good to be a delicate flower. There are just some drawbacks, like getting Stressed The Fuck Out™.)

Hear tell, there was once a time where a person was not reachable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter where on Earth they were. Hear tell, there once was a time when folks were lucky if the person they were trying to reach had one of those fancy new-fangled answering machines. You had to wait for the beep, is my understanding. And there was something called a “busy signal”. If you can imagine. Don’t even get me started on those party lines and “Emergency Break-throughs”.

iron lungs in the polio wardYeah. People also used to get polio and chill in iron lungs. And while I’m sure those were very good times – times that apparently anti-vaxxers, among others, are nostalgic for – this is the Modern Age. Remember to please tip your stagecoach driver!

So we need to actively seek out stillness. Because in this high-speed society, we no longer idle at Idle.

As far as my stress-addled brain can tell, dopamine fasting has a lot in common with stillness, insofar as shutting out the excess, the chatter, the constant flow of non-stop unnecessary information.

Do I REALLY need to know that Khloe Kardashian thinks it’s super-important that she puts herself first? Aside from this tidbit’s glaring, nauseating self-evidence, it doesn’t seem particularly useful to anyone except Khloe – and, I suppose, Kris Jenner, the most ‘extra’ stage mother since Rose Hovick. Furthermore, this (can I really call it) information is taking up room in my brain that could house something more important, an example of which I cannot cite, probably because I know the names of at least three Kardashian babies. And I do not even LIKE these people or watch their frickin’ show.

What sort of growth do I find in knowing the particulars of the latest Online Outrage War? Which feeds my soul more: letting my inner gestalt consist of the changing-by-the-microsecond Tilt-A-Whirl thoughts and obsessions of others as I swipe through my Twitter feed, or sitting with my own brain and choosing, very precisely, with care and consideration and intent, what material goes into it?

Whether it’s a dopamine fast, the path to stillness via Ryan’s book, or the wisdom of Aurelius and other Stoic philosophers, putting the brakes on overstimulation seems like a pretty good idea to me. At best, you may find some peace and some clarity. At worst, you may learn a few tips for life that you would not have otherwise, AND you will probably get higher than giraffe genitalia once your dopamine fasting is through, because tolerance is a thing (and the struggle is real).

 

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When Cancel Culture Comes For Comedy

The rant about Cancel Culture is not yet over. There is one more point to make. Cancel Culture is False Morality and has no place in Comedy.

To wit: Cancel Culture is a group of people pointing at one person and, as they do in THE HANDMAID’S TALE, yelling, “SIN! SIN! SIN! SIN!” It is Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: Is your number up? Who shall we stone today? There is no explanation requested. Just a rush to judgement by a bunch of Hang ‘Em Harry’s.

So yes, I posit that it’s false morality, because what does it achieve, other than attempt to ostracize someone and try to end their career? What does it do, O Manic Pixie Hashtag Warriors, to further the agenda of a “better world”?

What are these “well-meaning”, self-righteous, morally-superior-in-their-own-minds minions doing to affect any change for the better?

Hi, Nothing. Meet Jack Shit.

Every member of the Cancel Hive-mind will say “I’m a good person” if you ask them. But none of them carry the benefit of the doubt in their pockets. I don’t know about you, but I have this bizarre idea that the first reaction of a good person is not to condemn, but instead, gather the facts.

Admittedly, I may be conflating “good” with “intelligent”, and completely derailing my argument. But – is this even still possible in the Era of Weaponized Opinion? – hear me out. Humor me for a moment, please.

Where is the dialogue? Why is the question not asked, “Hey, why did you say this? What was your intent? What was the joke here that I am obviously not seeing?”

AND.

Does no one these days actually UNDERSTAND comedy? I mean, sometimes, a comedian will take on the ‘voice’ of someone less enlightened than themselves, in order to demonstrate that this sort of person’s point of view is markedly ignorant. They do have the responsibility to make this clear. That onus is on them. But, if they have done their job, and that joke is sound, that joke works, that joke lands, welcome back to my argument.

The problem I’m seeing here is that people have forgotten – or have apparently never known in the first place – that:

  1. Art is meant to provoke (and yes, Comedy is absolutely, empirically Art); spurring discussion on whether a viewpoint is right or wrong and why that may be is a good thing. Talking to a comedian about where they were coming from with a controversial joke is also a good thing;
  2. Comedy itself is a good thing. It can help us deal with much of the darkness we are faced with in this life, including ignorance, so that we don’t, say, organize into a mouth-foaming mob brandishing portable guillotines from Sharper Judge Jury and Executioner Image.

There truly is a difference between controversial comedy and bad, mean comedy that is genuinely racist or misogynistic. And let me inform you so that we are clear – the shit comedy? That unfunny crap that actually is racist, misogynistic, cruel? First off, it’s lazy, no real comedians respect that shit. And also, it does not last long (unless you are frequenting white supremacist comedy bars or something, in which case, you have some duplicity fish to fry there). That kind of “comedy” is not rewarded. You won’t find it anywhere in the mainstream, or in the indie scene, either. So-called comics who sound like 7th grade bullies don’t end up going anywhere good. And so blurring that fucking line needs to halt.

You ABSOLUTELY have the right to not find a joke funny. You have the right, even, to be OFFENDED by a joke. I won’t even say it’s a crime to MISUNDERSTAND a joke. I don’t want to take any of that away. What I take umbrage with, though, is this piling on, this group anger directed at one person, this automatic rabid-wolf-packing

Stop jerking your knee, calling out EVERYTHING that you don’t like or don’t get or find distasteful. Do some research first. Knowledge is power, but also?

IT’S FUCKING KNOWLEDGE.

Do you truly think it’s problematic? Write an essay about it. Express yourself intelligently. Again, do some research. And apply some nuanced thinking, please. Stop viewing everything in black and white, binary terms. It is possible. I refuse to believe that we have lost the ability to do that.

Bertrand Russell said the sign of an intellectual is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time. When I consider that statement, it appears to me to be the only true way one can come to a solid conclusion. If you do not weigh  opposing viewpoints objectively, how can you expect to come to a conclusion that comes anywhere near to sound?

definition of censorship - cancel culture comes for comedy

Comedians have a goal that they dedicate themselves to heart and soul. No matter how gruff they may seem, believe me when I say this: That goal is to make you laugh. To make your life a bit better, a bit more tolerable, if even for just the time you are in that comedy club or bar or on the couch watching that special or set. It is not their aim to make you feel like shit. Please, try to remember this before you decide to string up the next one for something they say. Please, just take a moment and try to see what they might have been trying to do, and how they might have been trying to do it.

Comedy is not supposed to be safe. If you are worried about sounding like a “nice” person, you cannot do comedy. It isn’t possible. Because you can find a reason not to say just about anything.

I don’t want to live in a world where people are afraid to speak. Likewise, if someone has something to say that is heinous, hey, I’d prefer to know that they feel that way than shut them up. You have a better chance of improving a situation you know exists than one you insist is swept under the carpet so your delicate ears don’t have to hear it.

One day, it might be your speech that is condemned, you who is the one being cancelled. You may be the one who came off the wrong way without intending to do so. If that ever were to happen, I think you would want a chance for people to hear your side of things before they release the hounds. I want you to have that chance, too. I want us all to have that chance.

Even the people busy combing through 10 year-old Tweets as I type this.

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Cancel Culture, Cancel Thyself

(Cancel culture, political correctness, change your art.)

American Frightfest Thought (SPOILER ALERT): It really would have been the cherry on top had they made the so-called Monster the older, perennially abusive brother of the younger, self-proclaimed Wrong Monster. Because then, I could have been like, WHOA, because I would have been projecting my own horrible abusive dysfunctional sibling relationship with a bona fide Monster onto their relationship, and found the film extremely profound. Because it’s all about ME, after all, isn’t it?

Just Don't Look, say the censor-y pearl clutchersBecause that’s what we’re all doing these days, right? Insisting works of creativity be re-written to suit our own particular tastes and sensibilities and jibe with our own interior narratives, or cancel culture kicks in? Because we don’t want stories that challenge us to look at things in a different way but instead we just want those that mirror the same old worldviews and beliefs we’ve always held, yeah? I mean, shouldn’t they have just changed the series finale of Game of Thrones because it didn’t end the way people thought or wanted it to do so?

A RESOUNDING FUCK NO.

ART IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. (Disclosure: On the matter of whether Game of Thrones is Art: I can’t weigh in. I’ve no information, having never watched it.)

Anyway. Lemme grab my dramatic effect capital letter shit back. Hang on.

ART IS NOT A DAMN DEMOCRACY.

You don’t get to fucking vote on what the end of a TV series is going to be, unless for some reason that is the gimmick of the series, in which case, what a shitty series that is, and anyone watching that crap kinda deserves whatever they get dished up.

So. A week or two ago, Joaquin Phoenix was doing a press junket for JOKER and a reporter asked something to the effect of, do you feel badly about making a movie such as ‘this’, are you concerned that people will imitate this character’s (SPOILER ALERT {really? I mean, come on, it’s the fucking JOKER}) ‘bad behavior’?

I’m not sure what his answer to this was, but this question pisses me off.

I saw this movie once about a giant shark that stalked people and then ate them. But you know what? Unbelievably, I never swam around in the ocean stalking people and then eating them because I saw this movie! In fact, I never even did it at all!

Dogs in SpaceMore realistically, I saw SID AND NANCY and DOGS IN SPACE and neither of those films ever made me shoot up heroin. I saw CLOCKWORK ORANGE and FUNNY GAMES and yet not once have I invaded a family home and raped anyone OR worn all white. I saw the second A STAR IS BORN and I NEVER ONCE wanted to see the first one, third one, or most recent one. What I’m saying is, not everyone is a hypnotized zombie when it comes to cinema. In fact, dare I say the majority are not.

The whole idea that now we must SANITIZE MEDIA when we do not even hold the commander in thief to that same sanitized standard is ludicrous.

I think Joaquin should have told the reporter that he was more concerned that needless wars over things like oil and land might inspire people to be violent, and that he saw that as possibly being a slightly larger problem than films, because you must pay to see a film, while war is free and can impact you whether you choose it or not. Perhaps address the leaders and the very military industrial complex itself, Random Reporter Lady who failed Relevant Interrogatories 101, before questioning the ethics of a performer in a work of commercial entertainment.

Or, continue to be a moron. There’s that option, too.

AND.

The people – mostly Twitter users, it appears – who comprise the Cancel Culture, you know,  I really have empathy for them, I do. I know that at their level of wokeness, it has to be difficult to be so gosh-darned hard on people, caring about social justice and all. And too, it must be DOUBLY difficult for them. Think of it – to have to publicly acknowledge that the problematic person they are cancelling is more talented than them, that must be a bitter pill to swallow. Cause generally speaking, talented people spend their time utilizing their talents and creating things, not destroying them. They don’t spend their time on the internet bitching people out. It takes many characteristics to facilitate membership proper in a net.mob, but talent is not one of them. Net.mobs take anyone (no qualifications or previous experience required *** Do you like a Rock and Roll atmosphere? Leads Provided! Start immediately! *** ).

bell hooks quote

When it comes to mobs, what is the difference between carrying tiki torches and  carrying Frankenstein torches really? Is there truly a difference at all? Because I don’t see one. They both appear to be a bunch of people wielding way too much fire and all sharing one very precariously-poised-in-useful-reality brain when clearly they – and the rest of us – would be much better off with the benefit of many, many brains of a more practical and community-oriented nature.

I don’t know what the answers are. But shutting everyone up by cancelling them en masse? I don’t think that cancel culture is the answer at all. In fact, I KNOW it’s not. The truth is the truth, whether it scares you or not. It’s better to know than to not know if someone is dangerous, or hateful, or misogynist, or whatever the fuck they are. But also, it’s kind of gross to completely ostracize people from everything before all the facts are in, or for “offenses” like saying something jack-assed and ignorant 10 years ago. We need to allow people to grow.

Now if someone is running around raping puppies or what-have-you? Cancel away, have at it. Have a cancel party and play that cool drinking game, The Devil’s Triangle.

I LIKE BEERYou know, just ONE of those senators could have said, “Oh, a drinking game. Can you tell me how that’s played, exactly? How did you and your friends play that?” But no. NO ONE WAS CURIOUS WHAT HE WOULD HAVE SAID TO THAT? And NONE of those senators EVER heard of a real Devil’s Triangle? REALLY?

I wonder if it is cold and moist UNDER THEIR ROCKS.

Anyway.

That’s it. That’s the rant.

 

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Truly….

While I absolutely mourn the decline of the quality of public discourse, and while I sadly shake my head at the surreal vulgarity that has become normalized… Still, I can’t help but laugh like a first grader whenever someone on the news says “pee pee”.

Not pee. Not urinate. PEE PEE.

Yep. Some days I am that easy to please.

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To The Tune of “That’s Amore”

“When you’ve only slept 2 hours, but you have superpowers, that’s…BIPOLAR!”

Hello, Mania. Took me a few days to recognize you, but there you are.

I don’t actually have superpowers, per se. But the way I feel after just 2 hours of sleep is, ah, unusual, let’s say. Particularly since lately I have been Van Winkle-esque in my sleeping habits. An inexplicable about face turnaround? Yeah, that’s my version of Mania. Not the “fun” version where you go wild at casinos, strip in the streets, marry a stranger and give away all your belongings. No, this is the more mundane version, where cognitively you are sort of off the rails. There is a lot of what I consider to be “psychotic chatter” in my head at the moment, and yeah, that’s a lot for a person to cop to, let alone get along with and “manage”. That “management” part is a post unto itself but for another time, one of more clarity. Anyway. I think it is important that I talk about the psychotic end of things, because not all people who experience psychosis are violent spree killers. In FACT, less than 4 percent of crimes committed by people with serious mental illness have anything to do with their symptoms. The truth is, most psychotic people don’t violently lash out. Sometimes manners may not be the best. But honestly? Most of the time the behavior of a clinically psychotic person far outclasses the behavior of our Commander in Chief. And that is an empirical statement, not a partisan one. I mean, just a teeny benign example, as a psychotic person, I don’t make a practice of insulting and antagonizing colleagues and people on Twitter. I sorta feel like it is good manners not to call people by withering nicknames in a public forum. There are probably lots of holes that can be poked into my little example – I know it wouldn’t pass muster with an expert in forensics – but give me this one. I have never once thought (or said) that I could go out into the street and shoot someone with not only impunity but furthered social and political success, and I would never even think of such a violent example (though obviously I do come up with stuff like “eat a foot of my own intestines”). I am a person with a psychotic illness so you might expect that I would be the one out of the two people in this ill-advised example to threaten violence against a random stranger and/or be delusional enough to think that I would not be culpable for such an act. You would say, “yep, that’s the psycho speaking right there”. But that was our president (not giving the Platonic capital letter here, sorry) who said he could shoot someone and become more popular as a result. This crazy person right here is a bit confounded by the double standard.

I have been pretty quiet about politics on this blog. I feel like there is  too much going on in the constantly changing and spinning vortex of our news cycle to be timely with comments and I also feel like there are enough pundits analyzing this stuff already who are far more learned than I. This is not political though, my bringing #45 into this. I want to make a point, which is hiding somewhere in the previous paragraph, that this bizarre behavior that we are all apparently normalizing is far more threatening than the behavior of the majority of psychotics. So maybe looking at these things on a case by case basis is the more measured approach.

I am not going to continue this train of thought. Bandy X. Lee did a better job than I ever could. But I have done a lot of statistical research into violent crimes of the mentally ill and what I find is that this perception of the majority of the mentally ill as having hair-trigger violent tendencies is false.

Which has little to do with my mania but is instead a tangent.

There is no nice tidy way to tie this post up with a bow or offer a callback that makes it all make sense. Instead, I think I will take my meds.

 

 

 

 

 

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Random Update, Fueled by Java

An enormous iced triple espresso with cream, and not a moment too soon.

Ever have one of those days where you just couldn’t wake up? Where your eyelids seemed to be made of lead, requiring toothpicks a la Fred Flintstone when they thought he had Dipsy-Doodle-Itis?

Or was it a Dino-Peptic Germ? I think that may have been what Dino had. I could easily Google this, but I have coffee. And isn’t it just sexier sometimes to wonder? Instead of instantaneously having the answer to every single mundane trivia question you can come up with? That is, after all, the way some conversations get started and can continue… that delicious wondering, that yummy pondering, that saucy head-scratching.

I want to dive into this coffee head-first, it’s so good. Sumatra and Stevia are a great combo.

Anyway. Dino and Fred notwithstanding – which is a phrase you probably don’t hear every day. Thank you to those who sent well wishes during my medical odyssey through Hades. I am finally receiving Good Medical Treatment, for the most part, and starting to feel a bit better. There is some medication stuff to work out, things need to be fine-tuned, but progress is beginning and that is a Good Thing. I thank you sincerely for your support.

The only big issue that faces me at the moment are these damnable teeth, but that remains a constant and I continue to concentrate efforts in that direction, so not much more can be said about that except, ouch, owie, ouch. And also, no Halloween candy for me. I am ever hopeful I will be able to get my teeth fixed somehow.

Halloween is right around the corner, though, and to that end I’m going to have some fun playing with makeup and effects soon. If anything comes out interesting looking, I will post results here. The theme is Dia de Los Muertos – Day of the Dead. I want to be a Gothic Lolita, La Caterina, a Sugar Skull Girly. We shall see if I can pull that off the way I envision it in my skull.

May you have a supremely wonderful Tuesday.

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