Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Capital L Love

I've had really shitty luck with romantic relationships. I'm not really going to parse my lacklustre lovelife here though. I have known two women who I could happily spend the rest of my life with, but I don't think either of them believed me. Oh well.

There is one love in my life that has remained almost constant. Film. I just love it so much, my god. I love every part of it, I love the process, I love the research, the writing, the thinking, the production, editing and editing and editing. I love being confronted with a problem or something that isn't working and I'll just struggle with it and suddenly a huge thought orgasm happens and I practically run around the block screaming with joy. I love working with people to realize a vision of mine, and I love when they start having visions about it too, and it just starts coming together and everyone gets excited.

During the Oscars I noticed the people winning awards for Pan's Labyrinth had such reverence for Guillermo Del Toro, they were so moved to be a part of his vision, and to further it and make it grow. I was so touched, that is the mark of a good director. To make something so beautiful that the people working on it feel it as a passion more than a job.

I love the obsession that happens with film, it is such an intense process. When I'm in the thick of it EVERY thought is devoted to that film. I wake up puzzling over it and I go to sleep puzzling over it and I dream about it. Some of my most profound editing moments have happened while I've been asleep. I have almost died at least once trying to make a film come to life, I think it was worth it but people still don't know how to feel about that particular work. Maybe it's before it's time.

I've had the worst time with this screenplay I've been working on. It's been three and a half years of slogging through it. I've learned a lot about writing feature length work, but there was something missing, I could not put my finger on it. I had never had such a hard time working through an idea. And now that I've been getting off of my medication I figured it out. It's THE MEDICATION that was hindering the process. One shot which I have agonized over for at least two years suddenly came into such clear focus. I was writing it in a literal way with a voice over to explain it, but suddenly I saw this vision of what the feeling was in that moment. And it is such a horrifying vision but so dazzling in it's clarity and perfection. I practically creamed my jeans when I saw it. Not that it's sexy per se, but if you love thought and ideas as much as me that kind of breakthrough is climactic. Wow. I was so speechless just imagining it, down to each grain of 35mm depth. And I saw more things, I saw where I was crippling it because of what I felt I OUGHT to say, rather than the truth. Because the truth is so complex, and in a certain way so special and sacred, I didn't want it trampled.

But making a film about what I thought I should say rather than what needed to be said, I can't do that. It feels tawdry, like I'm being superficial with this one thing I adore and which adores me back in it's own idiosyncratic, demanding, intense way. When it works, when my process really works, it feels more like I am channeling from some higher more divine source. I can't explain it, except that it's like accessing higher consciousness. Like being a conduit. And the medication shut off that conduit. Stuff leaked through sometimes, but the total all encompassing power of pure thought never tore through my body the way it normally did. I think when that kind of divine inspiration and obsession hits, people can get kind of uncomfortable. I've been known to bathe less frequently, have uncombed hair, and sometimes even forget to eat when I'm in that state. I don't think that's bad really, but it does show you where all my energy goes.

I have missed that feeling, I have missed love. Without my extremes, I also lose my passions. And when I lose my passions I feel I have lost everything. Being medicated felt like the bleakest period of brokenheartedness I have ever felt. Not even losing my first true love hurt that much. And I felt scared to tell the truth to people. I never felt that the bipolar diagnosis fit me exactly, but I was told I HAD to accept it, I had no choice but to accept it, and if I disagreed it meant I was sick again. And I remember when I was in the hospital when I started losing who I was. I don't mean the psychosis, that was me, completely, just amped up to a huge degree. No, I remember I was on 20mg of Zyprexa and lithium and ativan and I was reading a book and suddenly the words started changing, they started to disappear and fade away. And I remember trying to collect them again, I would read the sentence over and over and each time I would get two words in and the rest of the words would vanish from my memory. It was like watching my brain get sliced and parsed and diced into miniscule fragments. And I wasn't ever really the same after. I adapted in certain ways, but that brilliance, that access to knowledge and understanding was gone. In a lot of ways it felt like my very soul had been ripped out of me. And then I was supposed to be grateful.

I'm surprised I didn't kill myself. I was really close for at least a year, and then somewhat close for the rest of the time until now. I think people just assumed it was the psychosis that smashed up my brain, but it wasn't, it was the chemicals.

And now my love has returned. I don't want to ever lose it again.


In case you didn't notice, I've been off medication totally for almost a week. I was a bit worried I would flip out, and watching my thinking process start up again, and my emotions return, was a little freaky. I haven't known myself for four years, and so I really don't even remember what it's like to be me. Not to mention a lot of my existential depression has been resolved and I'm slowly but surely creeping into Secondary Integration, which is such a relief because I don't feel so tortured.

I think I also found a lovely seed of an idea to explain "sane" and "insane" dichotomies, and it's a lovely thought to chew on. It's using the principles of wave-particle duality in quantum mechanics. Things change when they are observed, a photon is a wave, but when observed it is a particle. So let's say everyone is mainly seeing particles, but for whatever reason when YOU see it, it is a wave. And then you say "That is a wave" and people get upset and say "Absolutely not! It is a particle, that is as clear as the nose on my face!" Then there's a big argument of course, and the people who see particles try to reform the person who sees waves, but in reality BOTH of those things can be true at the same time. I'm really liking this idea, because it means no one is wrong, except they don't understand each other. I'm going to have to go in this direction somewhat more.

I'm also expanding on this Oneness/God idea. Someone on a board said they didn't think we were all the same person but we are part of a whole, and I just got it. Let's say you are a finger and you are part of the same person as a toe, that doesn't mean you are a toe and that doesn't mean the toe is a finger. But it does mean that if the fingers decide to attack the toes for not being fingers then something really goofy is going on. But if you can't see in that holistic view, then you will always think those two things are completely seperate entities.

But mostly, I'm kind of glad to be over playing with ideas to such a high degree, I think because I solved some problems that were bothering me. I will expand on them more later, but now the fact that I was awake more than asleep is catching up, and so I am sleepy. But not crashing, just a content sleepiness, like my brain did a job well done and can now have a playful and light weekend. Whew!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I think sometimes people get scared by the creative process, or maybe sometimes it looks scary from the outside. Or sometimes someone's process is terribly different. Here's a bunch of Youtube videos about creativity in various fields.

Tori Amos' song Crazy made a lot of sense to me at one time. I think especially because she talks about looking mad until things get put into an order at the very end. This is a link to her singing Crazy and talking about her relationship to pianos.

What you waiting for? This music video by Gwen Stefani reminds me of what my internal world looks like when I'm creating something.

David Lynch talks about creativity, filmmaking, and higher consciousness.

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison get into a spat about direct vs. alternating current. Kind of a tortured re-enactment, but fascinating nonetheless in describing Tesla's creative process.

An animator shows us the Creative Process.

Angelina Jolie talks on Inside the Actor's Studio about her experience working on Gia, a biography of lesbian supermodel Gia Carangi. Part 2 of 5.

Mozart accidentally pisses Salieri off in Amadeus.

The Q and I

I guess I should talk a little bit more about this thang called Giftedness, because I knew people get pissed off by the concept. It's seen as being "better" or "superior," but if you experienced it I don't think you would really like it. It takes a long time to accept. I find it funny that suddenly, instead of being disabled I am considered Very Abled, because I don't really feel like that at all. I have pretty much every Overexcitability that one can have, and among various things it means I get sensory overload pretty easy, which is why I'm fairly introverted. Giftedness is more than a high I.Q. score. It's a different way of experiencing the world, things are heightened, to varying degrees. There's some thought that Gifted people actually have different physiological structures to the norm. Not everyone who has a high I.Q. score is empathetic or has entelechy. There are various combos of qualities in the gifted population, all resulting in very different ways of thinking, but marked by a strong desire to understand.

I should also mention that I.Q. testing is not an accurate assessment of someone's intelligence. For one thing, if you communicate in a very different way, or think in visual terms instead of verbal/mathematic terms, you probably won't score as well as someone else. They've been designed for specific types of people with specific thinking patterns and communication abilities, and they are only "accurate" within a particular range. There are now people trying to identify Gifted people under different standards, or a constellation of attributes noted in the population. One thing I've noticed is that we know who each other is generally. What I know is that when I was picked out of the general school system, I wasn't told my I.Q., I don't think anyone was, because then it would mean we would tailor our expectations of ourselves to a test score.

I think a number of people in my inner circle are Gifties, but they haven't identified themselves as such to me. It's too bad, because a lot of people in my inner circle are also struggling with psych diagnoses, and I'm not sure if they know that they're Gifted and if they know that there are specific reasons they've been reacting to stimuli a certain way their whole lives. I'm pretty modest about my intelligence, or at least I try to be, or at least I was made to be, and the only reason I really brought it up here is because it means the dominant psychiatric thought concerning the reasons for my life were blatantly wrong. This does not mean I think there are Real mental patients who deserve psych wards, no. Not at all. Psychiatric survivors are my friends, they are the people who have nurtured me when I was having a really hard time. I will not put myself above them just because they didn't get a high I.Q. score, or because they did and don't know it, or whatever. If it wasn't for the C/S/X movement, I would still be on medication, still feeling dumb and sad and trapped, still losing my hair and getting diabetes or what have you. I still consider myself a psych survivor. I still want to be in that movement.

But I am trying to talk about Giftedness because we have been getting diagnosed with all kinds of pathologies based on our difference. There are concerns particular to Gifted people, and I wish someone had told me about it when I was younger. I know sometimes people in the "helping" professions are taught about our population, but quite often they are not. Sometimes people don't even BOTHER to teach about us just because we are seen as so rare as to not matter, or to be considered so Very Abled that we can survive on our own with no outside assistance. That's not true. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't gotten specialized education, or if I hadn't been taken out of a general population which resented me. But too often education is the only specific need that people are concerned about with Gifted people, when so much of who we are pervades every aspect of our identity.

I think I'll just end with a few interesting articles if you do want to know more, so you don't think I'm bullshitting you.

Gifted Adults

Can you hear the flowers sing? Issues for Gifted Adults

Positive Disintegration

Overexcitabilities Used to Predict Giftedness

Misdiagnosis of the Gifted

And just for fun, here's a profile of an INFP personality according to the Myers-Briggs system, I'm one. We're only 1% of the general population, but are highly over represented in the Gifted population for whatever reason.

Grey Goo and You: Cultivating Difference

I'm being more honest about what I think in my blog, but in real life I am hiding from the people around me. Fear is a powerful tool, but in a negative way. Once we start stepping out of the acceptable bounds and into who we really are, everything becomes shaky. There is the internal crisis, trying to accept yourself when all the good sheep want you to go back to the way you were, even if that is a really unhealthy position. In my family of origin I was often picked on because I had emotional overexcitabilities that could be ridiculed. If I cried for being teased (which is a form of abuse) then they could also tell me I was wrong to cry, that I was overreacting, and that in fact they were trying to improve me by breaking me down. Emotionally breaking someone down does not make them stronger, and I know because I once planned a school shooting while I was in junior high in a redneck town being severely bullied. I can tell you about that another time, suffice it to say the only reasons I wasn't the first Dylan Klebold was because a .22 didn't hold enough rounds and because we moved right away. But I was an eerily accurate marksman.

People appreciate violence as a response more than tears. I don't know why, it's kind of sick. I did get internal abusers in my head, kind of like the internal psychiatrist I mentioned several posts ago. Getting them out is really hard, and when people see that you are starting to transcend the role you've been given they get really insecure. It may sound awful to say that people have investments in my psych diagnosis, but it is true. I even invested in my diagnosis, even though it told me nothing about myself when seen from the contemporary biochemical medical model. I don't like this idea that people are so powerful they can just decide to stop being "mentally ill." That's wrongheaded. On the other hand, I don't like the ideas that come along with the concept of mental illness, ones which are founded mainly on stigma and assumption than understanding. I think we favour victims over people who actually recover. But this is getting into some serious territory I am still chewing on, basically what I mean is that powerlessness is encouraged in certain individuals, usually those who are different in quantifiable ways.

When I say we are all essentially the same person in a spiritual sense, I am not saying it so that we can all have a nice calm bovine approach to life. This is a very difficult concept to grapple with. And being from the same source does not mean that difference should be denied. There are very real and important reasons that we have such diversity on this planet. I do not want to live on a planet full of all Thirza's, I would get bored. I need all kinds of people who are seeing things in different ways from different positions so that they can bring up ideas I would not think about on my own.

Homogenity is a dangerous thing, it's not growthful to keep differences from evolving. And for this I will go to a theory I've always loved, because of it's apocalyptic nature and because of the image it evokes. This is called The Grey Goo Theory.

The Grey Goo theory begins with self replicating nanobots. These nanobots are designed to take any kind of organic matter and break it down and build it up into an identical model of itself, which also goes on to self replicate using organic matter, and on and on. Once this process starts, there is no way to stop it. Scientists have estimated that self replicating nanobots run amok can convert the entire PLANET into grey goo within seventeen hours. And that's not just plants and houses and televisions and blenders being transformed into goo, that's also people and dogs and monkeys and every living thing.

Now, you can just look at this from a literal perspective and say "well geez, don't make self replicating nanobots then." Yes, but consider it in a different way, how could this Grey Goo theory be applied to contemporary practices of colonialism, religion, or psychiatry? A vast majority of people are self replicating nanobots on this planet. Just because you make someone think or feel in a way which is more similar to the way you think or feel doesn't mean you have improved them. Same with all differences, I have a fondness for red heads, but if ALL the women in the world were red heads I'd wouldn't be so enamoured with the uniqueness of it, and probably a lot of people would be upset because they like brunettes or blondes or people with titian hair.

Don't grey goo the grey matter!

I'm trying to learn how to trust the people around me though, I know at a certain point I just have to hope they "get it," ya know? People can do crappy things to each other but still end up evolving into amazing people. If I didn't believe that I don't think I would still be here.

And now I'd like to post Amanda Bagg's amazing video "In My Language," because I think it elucidates the importance of difference the best. This is my favorite video that I've seen recently, and was made in response to the Ashley Treatment. I've wanted to post it here for a while, but I never found the right post to accompany it.

Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out holding in
I believe
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I’ll defend it as long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand
- Elsewhere by Sarah McLachlan

The Authoritarians

I was pointed in the direction of this link to an online book from the University of Manitoba on Authoritarianism. I highly suggest reading at least Chapter 1 to understand how we got to this point. It's easy for us to demonize bad leaders, but this makes one look at the fact that it is the followers who are giving these people power. Have a look.


If you have seen Life of Brian you might remember my favorite scene, where the women have all dressed up as men so they can attend the stoning of a man convicted to death for saying Jehovah. The man is trying to explain himself "All I did was say that fish was fit for Jehovah himself!" To which the guard says "Stop saying Jehovah, it will only get you into more trouble!" "How much more trouble can I be in? Jehovah Jehovah Jehovah!" In the end of course the guard gets stoned for saying Jehovah.

Why was there a prohibition on using the word Jehovah? It's somewhat complex, but very simple really. We have to look at the Tetragrammaton, which is God's real name and which we've been told over and over not to use. Many say that his real name is Yahweh. To understand this name we have to look at translations from the original Hebrew. In Hebrew, this is accepted as a form of "To be." Or, another commonly accepted translation, and the one which I will use, is "I Am What I Am." Yes, Popeye uses the Tetragrammaton all the time. It's just one of life's ironies.

The reason you cannot use it is because when you say "I am what I am" it means identifying yourself as God. This is forbidden for various reasons, most of which involve control and keeping us all asleep. There are pitfalls and perils in realizing your God nature, for one thing, you're in a mortal situation right now for a reason. No, you do not have powers attributed to God as most understand him, but that's because you're not ready. For another thing, you might not realize that everyone else is also God. There are a lot of things that come with this realization in kind of a domino effect, it really does change how you live. For instance, if we are all God, that means we are all the same person in a spiritual sense. That also means that while we are people like Buddha and Jesus we are also people like Hitler and George W Bush, or myself, who is clearly crazy.

But is "I am what I am" really the meaning of the Tetragrammaton? I would have to say yes, and I will tell you why. I read about the meaning of it, kind of but not really understood it, and then I read the Book of John in the New Testament. This is where some of the really interesting things Jesus said show up. We have to remember that the Bible has been gutted for political reasons, so certain things are vague just because then they could get through 2000 years of censorship. Just before he ends up being crucified, he's asked to explain himself and if he really does think he is God or the Messiah. He responds "It is you who say 'I am what I am.'" This is not just some bizarre affirmation, he's using the Tetragrammaton, and in a very wise way I would say. He also says in another passage (and I'm paraphrasing) "You have been told that you are all gods."

However, being god does not preclude being a stupid mean motherfucker, and that's one of the pitfalls. I could get into my Big Bang theory of spiritual evolution, but maybe I will do that in a different post.

The problem with what has happened with the things Jesus said is that he became the supreme being, the god. Like since he became aware, that is not available for anyone else. We can't say "Crucifixion was bad for Jesus, because he really was the son of god, but it's fine for everyone else." No. Doing something like that is horrid to do to anybody, "son of god" or not. And this is where Buddha catches us up, because he was really insistent about the fact that he was a mortal, like all life forms on earth, he really wanted people to know that enlightenment was possible for everyone, not only a select few.

One of the things which has frustrated me in my lifetime thus far is not that people don't understand, it's that they don't WANT to understand. Everything you need to know is right here. This is a prime place to grow as a spiritual being, and if humanity ends without us waking up, we're going to have to do it in a different form. And I don't know about you, but having to evolve while living as a gaseous entity in space would take me a really really long time.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Within You Without You

I hope people don't conflate my extended Eleanor Rigby years with this idea that I am forever and eternally depressed! There are a lot of things that make me happy, things that are quite small to some. I like looking at where buildings and trees meet the sky. I don't think I can explain why that makes me happy, but it does. Astronomy used to terrify me with it's enormity, but I quite like looking at star systems now. I like deeply emotional music, I like pop music too, I spent days and days wandering around singing the first few bars of My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas, why I'm not sure. I just liked it. But also sometimes I understand things better through music. I still go back and read Lewis Carroll books, because the ridiculousness of them is so fun.

I liked this album by Tori Amos when I was going crazy, I think now looking back on it it's because it's about positive disintegration.

The Smiths, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, video directed by the late great Derek Jarman.

The Littlest Birds by the Be Good Tanyas. Aw, so sweet!

The Importance of Bearing Witness to Suffering

I remember when I started out seeking to understand suffering. I think I was five or something. It was when I finally heard about the Holocaust in Germany, my mom told me that the Nazi's would have killed my sister if we lived in that time. And I was so horrified, and upset, and I cried for about an hour thinking about it. Sometimes people think that profoundly gifted people regard persons with lower IQ scores as inferior, and I can tell you that is not true. People who think in that way, if they are intelligent, are usually only slightly more intelligent than the average population. Once you get into the high scores people actually have a very profound value for all life.

And so I valued my sister a lot. She was and is a beautiful human being, and I understood her, even though we crabbed like siblings do. I wasn't ever ashamed of her, but sometimes I didn't let people know much about her because I knew they would be judgmental as to her value and worth, and I didn't want to have to explain something like her importance to someone so limited in their scope of thinking.

But it instilled in me a deep seated need to understand what had happened to all of these people in the Holocaust, not just the handicapped either, everyone, the Jews, the homosexuals, the Roma, the communists, all the fringe elements rounded up and ruthlessly murdered. Why would that happen? And so I began to study it, and I still do, and probably always will. It taught me a lot about the nature of evil, the nature of group think, and followers. And it extended from the actual camps to the political climate before the rise of Nazism, the seeds planted which could grow into such horrific shapes.

But more than that, it was about bearing witness to suffering. I hate the idea of someone suffering alone, because that was how I suffered. And so I needed to be there with people, even if I didn't get there until decades later. It may seem strange to ruminate on such disturbing things. But I wanted to look at it inside and out, and make sure it would never happen again.

But it does, it did, and it is happening again. I used to be more vocal about the fact that the USA is a fascist state right now. I can tell you the history of the origins of fascism in America, because they funded Hitler, because they imported a lot of the war criminals from Germany after the war, because technically the war was won against Nazism, but in reality those people are continuing their work in the American government. I could give you all the links to find this out yourself, but google exists and you can use it on your own. A start would be to look up Operation Paperclip.

But people got really angry at me when I said it, because Nazism is considered the hallmark apex of evil, and to suggest that a country masquerading as a bastion of freedom is actually tainted by fascist thought pisses people off, like I am minimizing the original Holocaust.

But we do have to bear witness to suffering in order to grow. How many people turn off the news from Iraq when it involves a soldier deliberately murdering children? Probably a lot. Oh I don't want to hear that, la la la. It's this kind of deliberate ignorance which feeds evil. I'm shocked when I hear Americans still declare themselves the land of the free when it is so patently false. Canada also has malevolent forces in it's government, and I look into that too.

But beyond the leaders who take people to this level, who create these intense sufferings, are the people being hurt. I know horrid things are happening at Guantanamo, in Iraq, at Abu Ghraib, in basically every section of this imperial march to world domination. But because people can't or won't bear witness to suffering, these terrible things are allowed to continue. It is the same here in Canada, if people knew what actually happened in those residential schools, the murders, the torture, the medical experimentation, they would have no other choice but to become aware of the damage of colonialism.

As a world which trusts the powerful, we have turned everything on it's head. People glorify those who hurt, those who have guns, because those are the people who are seen as supreme. Supremacy is an irrelevant hallucinatory construct. People in positions of power have an alarming tendency towards psychopathy, marked by an inability to feel empathy or compassion, true empathy. And while you may do very well in society while being devoid of compassion, that doesn't mean there isn't something seriously lacking in your being.

Thousands of gifted people have died tragically trying to reform "powerful" psychopaths. But it is not them I am here to talk to. I want to talk to people who have a chance of thinking critically, who may really wake up in this lifetime. It's been discovered that people can only emerge as leaders if they fall within a 30 IQ point difference between themselves and the average IQ of the masses. Beyond that, lower or higher, it completely falls apart. So too will most of my communications fall on deaf ears. But, I believe it is important that people start to show empathy, at least for the people around them. That is not such a bad place to start.

Suffering alone is difficult. It feels like no one cares, like you could be swallowed up by the earth and no one would give a damn. I know people did care about me after I got out of the psych ward, but no one seemed willing to hear what really happened to me in there. In fact, they would get defensive, because they did it "for my own good" and I am "expecting too much of them" and so on. Really, I think it's because they didn't know how to deal with guilt.

And when people start on a path towards spiritual understanding, guilt comes with the territory. It's a difficult thing. Few ever said "I'm sorry that happened to you." Or "I'm sorry I didn't take the time to understand." I have gone through periods of deep guilt over the state of the world, or over things I could have done to help people and didn't. Some think that that indicates some kind of neurosis, but really it's a nudge towards growth. I hope that some day I can be the person I expect of myself, someone who can instantly identify injustice or suffering and correct it in the gentlest way.

But the most powerful thing which could have happened to me, and did, actually, was being hugged after I got out of the ward. I wish I had more of those hugs, instead of rejection because people disliked being around suffering.

Love transcends death, but brute power can only exist on earth.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Te of Rats

My best friend in college was a rat. That probably sounds strange to most people, but it's true, he was a very wise old soul. And very silly. I think he kept me from killing myself more times than one would imagine. His name was Nikolas, and he was like a burst of sunlight in my life from the time he was a ratlet dangling from my glasses to his old age three years later snuggling up to me and just Being There. He also insisted in being in a video of mine once, he was honestly just supposed to be wandering around like normal but he leapt up into the frame. But mostly he would do things to make me laugh, and he would wash me when I was upset. I can't adequately convey what his being was like, except that he was an exceptional friend.

When he died people ridiculed me for being so upset by it. I still miss him, five years later. I don't know why people made fun of me, they thought he was "just a rat" and that small beings are essentially worthless. It was tragic, because that's how I realized Nikolas contained more empathy than most of the people I knew. I remember crying and crying and deciding to leave Vancouver to find some place where people could understand mourning a rat. But, well, yeah, there isn't a place where people understand that.

I've had some other very close animal friends, right now I have a dog who has the same personality as me, it's really funny! People think he's a bit of an asshole because he's terribly suspicious of strangers and acts neurotic when they're around. But as soon as he's with people he likes and trusts he's completely funny, energetic, loving, gentle, and ridiculously intelligent. It's kind of interesting because he does come in such a small package, like Nikolas did, so people just treat him like a dumb little dog. I guess they just can't understand him. And people assume that things they don't understand are ugly or stupid. As bad as it sounds, how people treat my dog gives me a good idea of how they will treat me, so if someone's a jerk to him I know to keep them away from both of us.

Once when I was in high school I came out of a store to get my dog Wesley and take us home, and I started talking to him like I always do when some snotty little girl said "Stupid! Talking to a dog! So so stupid!" And I was taken aback, not because I felt stupid but because someone so obviously idiotic was admonishing me. And if she had been a grown up I would have felt the same way.

Philosophical Questions

From the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all. But whether or not one can live with one's passions, whether or not one can accept their law, which is to burn the heart they simultaneously exalt, that is the whole question. Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

There are things I am supposed to have forgotten that I learned when I went crazy, deep insights into life itself, which make it impossible to ever look at the world in the same way. Camus called it recognition of the absurd, some people call it enlightenment, or awakening. Dabrowski called it Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration. And then of course a vocal majority call it psychosis, and feel very proud of themselves for labeling it as such. I don't disagree with any of the labels, however I find it sad that Dabrowski thought psychosis ended the disintegrative process, because it does go on, there is the other side of psychosis, once you've integrated new knowledge into your life and hopefully not been too brainwashed to retreat to Primary Integration. I would tell you what these insights are, but it involves forbidden knowledge and of course, as seen previously, can get me into serious trouble. I don't know how long it would take me to show it to someone else either, because for me it involved a combination of rabbinical study, quantum physics, taoism, and Buddhist thought, besides life experience. I understand why people don't give away that knowledge so easily though, because it's something you have to understand deep in your soul more than a logical analysis, although it is quite simple and scientifically based. I hear the film What the Bleep Do We Know explains it somewhat, but I haven't seen it and some quantum physicists interviewed were apparently tetchy after.

But really, where I want to go with this blog is suicide, because that was how I ended up in psychiatric treatment when I took my first Paxil. I think suicide is a global problem more than an individual one, although it is true individuals need individually tailored assistance. But globally, we are committing murder-suicide. I heard that some politicians in the 80's said they didn't have to care about the environment because Armaggedon was coming and they were just interested in hastening it's arrival. I think they genuinely believed they were doing a good thing, because the closer we get to Armaggedon, the closer we get to meeting Jesus! Right? Right? Hmm. Well, yes and no. I think most people have already met Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed, who are more of a state of mind than a specific individual. But they most likely would not have recognized these beings if they did meet them. The other issue is that most spiritual leaders were speaking largely in metaphors and parables, because if they spoke any other way they'd get into more trouble than they were already in.

People have all kinds of favorite quotes from the bible, like things about rods and staff and mustard seeds and fallen angels. But no one ever mentions my favorite bible quote, which comes from Jesus himself and goes like this:

"Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!' Then I will say to them 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!'"

I want to send this quote to all the Fred Phelps of the world, but I doubt they have the capacity to understand it anyway, or that he's talking about them. There has been a sad divergence from what people like Jesus were actually talking about compared to what people believe. Now of course people really believe there is an external Kingdom of heaven which will be transposed on the world, and that men like Bush will be all decked out in Gold or some foolish nonsense. And it's really talking about an internal experience. When Jesus said he would come back, I think most of the time he meant that an awakening would happen within people which would change the way they think and act. It may sound silly to say The Kingdom of God is within you, but it's true, if you allow it.

Dabrowski said that positive disintegration was impossible for people who didn't have enough Development Potential, which he identified as traits such as overexcitabilities, abilities and talents, and a drive for personal and autonomous growth. He believed someone with all of those had no choice but to undergo positive disintegration, while someone who had no Development Potentials could never achieve positive disintegration, even if they were in a conducive environment for it. I find that interesting, because when you look at Buddhism there is a belief that everyone can achieve enlightenment. Maybe development potentials take a few lifetimes to show up in someone? Buddha's first act on his journey towards enlightenment was when he was a beast of burden in a lower realm and felt compassion for another oxen who was having difficulty carrying it's load. He helped the other ox share it's load and was struck down by a demon. While he didn't achieve enlightenment then, he obviously did later on. So in that sense, any act of compassion should be seen as a personal achievement, even if it results in death.

This is a lower plane of existence than I would prefer to live in, which is perhaps why I was so obsessed with suicide for so long. But in the end, I decided I had to go through it, even though it involves pain and suffering. And by "go through it" i mean of course the business of living. I think the fact that global leaders are allowing our world to go to hell has a lot to do with the fact that many are not spiritual in any meaningful way, and that their own desire for suicide is leading them to make decisions about earth based on ending the experience now. The fact that they do not speak for the majority, and are probably psychopathic, doesn't seem to make a difference. It does disturb me that essentially all of humanity is being held hostage by spiritually impoverished individuals, but at the same time I know enough about mobs and ignorance to avoid people who can't understand.

While I was flipping through the bible for that favorite quote of mine, I also came across another:

"Take care of my sheep. I am telling you the truth: when you were young, you used to get ready and go anywhere you wanted to; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you up and take you where you do not want to go."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Goddamn Scribblers!

I recently found a message board for gifted adults. I felt semi-intimidated, it reminded me of The Dummy Police feeling from elementary school. The feeling has the official title of Imposter Syndrome. Basically in elementary school, for at least five months, I was sure the Dummy Police were going to run into the program I was in, say a mistake had been made and I was actually really stupid, and throw me back into the regular school system. I was terrified in an attracted/repulsed way to the idea. If I went back to the normal school system I wouldn't have so much pressure to succeed, I could wilt back into the background and vanish, which seemed really attractive. On the other hand I was really excited to be learning, instead of going over what I already knew. And I was excited that people paid attention and were interested, instead of being bored and saying everything was stupid and stuff. And I liked that people didn't think I was weird for being quiet, because everyone was pretty quiet, at first. But I think people came out of their shells more, because they didn't feel like they had to hide anymore.

It turns out that I felt really okay on the message board, and people were talking about more than just being smart, they were talking about all the strange things that come along with it, like having low self esteem. And then sense of being bullied and not fighting back not out of weakness but out of a profound empathy for what fighting back would do to that other person. It's true, I have only ever thrown a punch once in my life. Other than that, I cannot do it. I probably could physically fight back if I had to, but I would be upset by it. I think it makes life so strange, I honestly sometimes don't understand how people can live with themselves.

I think the Overexcitabilities really do make a huge impact on intelligence, but no one ever told me before. It's strange to realize there really are tons of people who don't know how to really empathize with someone. I heard of a Buddhist monk who was teaching and a dog was barking, so a man in the audience threw a rock at the dog to shut it up so he could hear the monk. But the monk was so enlightened that he shrieked and fell over and ended up with a bruise on his side in the exact spot where the dog was hurt. I think that's how I understand empathy. Not that I get bruises, but sometimes it almost feels like that. And while you would think someone that sensitive to life would shrink away from horrible things, if it has a larger meaning I will look deeply into it. I don't watch horror film or gore, but I will watch intense documentaries or go to the land where things have happened and things like that. If it really happened to someone, I often feel obligated to find out more, and often that can be physically painful to do. I nearly suffocated at a concentration camp once, and that was even before I read on a sign that I was at a small closet where prisoners were pushed into and suffocated. I get that at other sites too, sometimes I'll stumble on some fear someone left behind and get deep urges to run when there isn't any threat around.

I guess that's why I started this blog in the first place, things happened to me during my time in the psychiatric industry that no one was willing to hear about. And so it was kind of festering. And I couldn't really use my brain to do all the things I used to do to let things out, but I tried. When I think about those few years on an antipsychotic it seems like it is always night time, like there was never sun, just dark grey clouds blotting out even the stars, and an endless night where things were never warm. Ray Bradbury wrote this story, All Summer in a Day, and that kind of reminds me of it too, the sun only comes out for one hour after seven years, these kids live on Venus, and they lock a girl into the closet just before the sun comes out, because they're jealous of her because she remembers seeing the sun, she can describe it, and people say she's going back to earth. And there's this description of her, "She was a very frail girl who looked as if she had been lost in the rain for years and the rain had washed out the blue from her eyes and the red from her mouth and the yellow from her hair. She was an old photograph dusted from an album, whitened away, and if she spoke at all her voice would be a ghost." That's how I felt on psychiatric medication, all erased and muted to a manageable level.

Now I'm being told that I've been comparing myself to the wrong people this whole time. I can't measure myself based on what's standard for Joe Blow, I have to measure myself based on what's standard for Einstein or Da Vinci or Edison. And after doing that, jeez, I'm totally fine. I found out MD's only have an average I.Q. of 130, and I'm way over that. I often wondered why I questioned medicine so much and got into trouble, I wasn't supposed to know certain things, and I certainly wasn't supposed to question a Doctor. But honestly, they make mistakes all the time! And why can't they handle being questioned? Are their egos that fragile?

Also, people really don't know anything about the gifted population. We're a tiny minority and we scare people. I don't know why. I think some of us prefer people don't know about us.

I had this nightmare once when I was a kid where I was drawing perfect circles, and this guy kept running up and scribbling all over them when I was done. So I would draw another perfect circle and the guy would scribble it out again. And I did it over and over and finally got so mad that I punched my mom in her sleep because I thought she was the scribbler.

Goddamn scribblers! Scribbling all over the important things in life.

I'm also meeting a lot of people who have gotten tangled up in the psychiatric system a la Janet Frame. It's kind of scary, to think of the grander implications of it. The fact that time after time highly intelligent people are killed or damaged because people don't understand them. And it's true, sometimes I feel like I've got the mute button on, just so I don't say something really profound that will freak everyone out. I know people usually think I'm either mentally ill or possibly cognitively impaired, but I don't think I can ever really get them to stop thinking that. Sometimes I want them to think that so I can find out how they would treat people of those groupings.

I don't want to be treated by anyone anymore though. And I'm not sure how to be myself and survive, and not survive myself but survive everyone else. I'm not a danger to anything, but I am awfully terrified of society as a whole, based on it's lack of empathy and acceptance of difference. For now I'm listening to other people's stories, and reading autobiographies, trying to figure out how people protected themselves while still doing amazing work. I'm tired of using only parts of myself to be friends with people too. I wish I had a few more people in my life who I could be all of me with. I'm afraid of being judged, and then I know based on my psych history that judgment carries terrible penalties.

What a strange world, to feel so small and yet hide something so big. I am trying to make some kind of meaning out of being deprived of my intelligence for four years. I don't know how though. It's tragic, like walking around half dead. I remember in the psych ward this orderly was making fun of a patient because she said the world was full of dead people, and I thought, yeah, she's totally right, and he's one of them!!! I mean it as a metaphor of course, though in a spiritual sense it's kind of true. And this is the other issue, in that I find metaphors are sometimes the only way to explain something. I was talking about sex with a friend recently and I suddenly switched into describing it how I experience it as, which is like going to the carnival and passing by all these different rides, and some are really SCARY but that's why you have to do it. And then I realized I lost her somewhere along the way and she thought I was talking about an actual carnival. No, I was talking about sex. Right. Um, and anal fisting would be like the Ring of Fire or a wooden rollercoaster. And missionary is a merry go round. And oral sex is like the ferris wheel and fisting was like the Gravitron.

I haven't been to the carnival in ages.

Um, this has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to post it at some point:

Friday, February 23, 2007

And now for something totally unrelated

I couldn't stop laughing for ten minutes after watching this.

I hate you Johann!

I read the funniest thing about overexcitabilities. Apparently people can be so sensitive that you can piss someone off by going for a particular overexcitability. J.S. Bach's wife, when she was mad at him, used to go to the piano and pound out dischordant tones which drove him spare. I've seen artists literally scream and get furious if they're forced to endure bad art. And I, I cannot handle those stupid Pizza Pop commercials with the talking stomach, ooooh!!! It makes me mad just thinking about it, goddamn stomach!! Grrrr!

Grad School Deadline Approacheth

My Grad School deadline is coming up, eeeee! I still need one more letter of recommendation and I'm not sure I'll get it from this person, aside from that I don't know who else to ask for a letter from. It's such a different direction to go into compared to a BFA in film and video. Maybe people are worried I'm giving up on the film side to go in this direction, but I'm not, this is just a fun program that can help me achieve a goal. I really do want to reform/abolish psychiatry and the treatment of individuals in psychological distress. There is a profound lack of empathy towards the mad, and it's evolved into a deadly system of force and punishment supported by the very people around the individual in crisis. I intend to set out a new methodology for treating people without the use of force and without the use of medication. The adversarial nature of psychiatry keeps people from reaching out for help, because it is simply the laziest way of "helping" people. No one really seems to care about their friends or family enough to sit with them, or to admit that abuse has caused distress. And people are simply too stupid to appropriately question what is being sold as science. The scientific methodology in psychiatry is woefully lacking in intellectual rigor. They still talk about fuckin' Oedipus and Electra complexes, even though we know Freud only came up with those theories to explain why all his female patients were reporting incest.

I sometimes wonder if Kurt Cobain would still be alive if he hadn't been threatened with psychiatric incarceration. We take the best and brightest who are in the throes of existential despair and place them on intellectually damaging drugs which make them conform only because then they truly are operating at the same intelligence as the rest of the world. It's sick and it's destroying our societies potential for truly revolutionary humane and aware co-existence. I'm still sad that I lost my brain for three and a half years simply because someone gave me too much antidepressants.

Mental Illness is not a life sentence. We take an event and turn it into an identity, we damage people enough that we can turn them into chronic patients, always dependent on psychiatry and never given enough free reign to heal themselves. We punish those who don't conform, even though they have potential for greatness.

So yeah, uh, grad school. Well, I have at least three concepts I am going to be working with in my thesis, and I'm looking forward to sitting around with people who are all thinking at the same level. I also think since it is a disability related program, my bad marks for two years won't be such an issue in getting accepted, hopefully. And if I do really well in this course, I can use this GPA towards the PhD in The History of Consciousness program at Santa Cruz. I am also hoping to have at least one or two films, features, out by the time I apply for my PhD.

I am also thinking more about what lengths I may have to go to in order to survive a Level 1 society. Already I know there are times I have to shut up or I can get into trouble, but those are people I usually stay away from. Anyone who doesn't believe me when I say something is usually gently excommunicated from my life, because I just don't have time for them. I'm concerned about my family, you can only open their minds so much and then they get very angry, and they don't like to read things which explain my experience. I also know my mom prefers to read my diaries instead of actually asking me questions. And instead of asking me how I am, too many people ask if I am taking my medication. I hate that. It's so cold.

I do know I have to stop listening to people who think I'm being grandiose when I talk about trying to become a major feature filmmaker, learn four more languages, get my masters and PhD, and live off of my art work. People are more concerned about me getting a job and having a workplace I fit into, and I don't fit into any workplaces. I think it's a waste of my talents, my energy is better spent working on my own projects than making shoes forty hours a week. (I don't make shoes, it's just an example). I also decided I want to learn to play the guitar. I have a hard time playing music because it expresses my emotions the most concisly and that makes me shy, since everyone always told me my emotions were problematic. So I think it would be good for me to have an outlet for it. I really do like music. My mom used to always say that I was tone deaf or something, but I voraciously devour music and when she's not around to make fun of me I actually do like bopping around singing. I am sure I will sometimes cry terribly while making music, but maybe that's a form of therapy. Filmmaking is quite similar to music actually, in that it's a time based medium and uses emotional responses.

I think it will be good for me to go to grad school. I can be around people who like learning, more so than people in a bachelors program. I was surrounded by a lot of other gifted people at Emily Carr, which was nice because for the first time I wasn't a freak, but there were also some silly people there who were just doing art because they were told to go to uni in order to access their trust funds. It was fun though. And being in a learning environment dedicated to advancing human rights is really freakin' sexy. I really hope it happens, I'm freaking out about the recommendation letters, but I have to do the other stuff and trust that the letters will come in. I still need to choose a writing sample, and that's a BIG part of the issue. I know I wrote a brilliant analytical essay in an exam, I could use that. Hmm, not sure not sure. I have several papers around, but the sociology one might make the most sense.

Plus it's a reason to spend a year in Toronto, which I've never really lived in. I don't know how I'll do there. I know I can't live in Vancouver again, because people consistently lack empathy when I am bereaved, and obviously Montreal is a terribly dangerous place for someone like me to live, plus the health care system is deeply flawed. I'm surprised they're not all dead actually. I am thinking I will probably end up settling down in Winnipeg. It's probably the city I like the best in Canada, the people are all very nice and smart and doing amazing things in their lives, the cost of living is cheaper, and it has some pretty amazing stuff going on in the film/video sphere. Saskatoon is problematic for me in various ways, I love my family but I really don't fit in with them and I end up feeling dominated and sad, there isn't a film and video community, the art community is very insecure and conservative, and as a whole, I dunno, it's not a happy place. I can't even engage with the queer or BDSM community here, and that really sucks. I wish I knew more trans people too.

Ideally I would live in a big city, but I can't do the starving to death thing again. It's a ruthless and careless environment. I'm realizing more and more that I am going to have to envision and craft a lifestyle for myself that works, irregardless of other people's opinions. I have a vague idea of what that will look like. I have to completely reassess myself now that I know about OE's, that they are innate, and that I will always live with them. Accepting them is kind of interesting, because now I actually have something to work with. There's no way to eliminate them short of killing myself, and I really don't care to do that. So I am going to try and adjust to life with them. Some people only have a few OE's, and I have all of them!!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Since starting to get off psych drugs my memory has returned, along with an ability to rapidly learn things again. I realized that while learning about Quantum mechanics helped me realize the existence of God, since I was immediately put on Zyprexa at the same time I have a shoddy recollection of basic quantum mechanic theory, which is irritating me. So now I have to relearn it. I do have some books around on it, it's one of those conceptual ideas that I like playing with because it twists up all the ideas of reality which average people assume is the truth. Unfortunately, it's also the kind of advanced concept that average people don't study and therefore view as some kind of psychotic thought, especially when it comes out of someone who people don't consider having an astute scientific mind.

I was talking to my friend Robin last night when we both suddenly stumbled on this idea of Genius Sex. It's an unusual concept, to be sure, but there does seem to be a such thing as Genius Sex, and it doesn't seem to be something most people can do. I was lucky in that my first two lovers were highly intelligent people and so having long extended four hour plus sex sessions were pretty normal. But then I found out, that isn't the norm! Most people seem to have sex lasting on average half an hour. I think in some respects I gave up sex because I got tired of the limited scope of it with certain parties. I would choreograph extended sessions with fifteen different acts and get done with about two of them when the other person would roll over and turn out the lights. Uh, hey, wait a minute. We didn't even get to hour two, and I had something REALLY spectacular planned at hour four. What the hell?

Robin said "You mean people don't usually have sex for four hours or more? What?" It's true. And people think intelligent people make terrible lovers, that's just dumb. Imagine someone specifically trying to give you multiple orgasms in a Fibonacci mathematical sequence! We were trying to figure out why great sex and great minds seem to come together. I think it's because sex is seen as a skill set by people who like to learn and are adept at it. I know the best BDSM practitioners are the ones who actually care to learn the culture, the medical issues, the psychological issues, along with technique and practical usage. The worst practitioners are the ones who just show up with a whip and don't even care to learn how to avoid hitting kidneys or why you should avoid hitting them. And even with relatively vanilla techniques there's a lot to learn, with a lot of dialogue with your partner to find out what's working. I also think that since learning entails mistakes, people who enjoying the learning process are willing to admit when something they're doing isn't working, and more creative in finding something else that WILL work, and then applying that to several other different techniques. If the other person hasn't rolled over and gone to sleep that is.

Which brings me to the other issue at hand, some people just can't take sex sessions that are so extended. And gifted people generally have high levels of energy, so of course if you put two of them together and they're having fun AND not getting tired it's just going to go on and on.

So I'm relearning what giftedness feels like, since the psych drugs basically eradicated it during the last four years. It feels like, it's really nice actually. I like being able to toy with concepts again, especially several at once. I like being moved to tears by film, music, and art again. I like seeing the big picture. I like the thoughts which psychiatrists considered grandiose but which are just reasonable thoughts and goals for me. I like that I have finally figured out my own psychological condition apart from a judged pathology label given by people who didn't bother to ask me anything about myself and who thought maybe my filmmaking was a delusion. I'm not so used to the fact that I don't need as much sleep again. I've often been a sleepy person, but I can function on an average of six hours of sleep. More is nice at times though, and sometimes less is necessary when I'm really working hard on something.

I'm trying to be careful around other people, because I know that few people around me understand what is normal for me. I guess you could say I was one of those gifted people that went underground after facing constant social rejection, but now I'm at a level of maturity where I don't really care about fitting in anymore. I know I won't. That's okay. I just hope that people don't think they can improve my life by MAKING me fit in, because that means making me dumb and I dislike the experience.

So I am trying to honour the fact that I have overexcitabilities, which are very different from manic depression but often mistakenly assumed to be manic depression. There is nothing wrong with crying because of something on the news, or being terribly excited about a new concept, or making a mess and not caring that it's there. I'm trying to re-educate my mom on the experience of gifted people and the propensity of society to pathologize our differences in an attempt to help us conform, when we are not meant to conform. I'm not sure if she appreciates being constantly given information on gifted characteristics, but I'm hoping I can educate her enough that she won't start telling me I'm doing something "bipolar" when I'm actually doing something gifted. Especially since I'm getting off the intellectually damaging drugs.

And I have done a lot better since getting off, I don't have shakes and tremors, I haven't had a seizure in a long time, I haven't cared so much about smoking pot, I don't hear things anymore, I sleep better in that I'm not super sleepy, my short and long term memory has improved, I can come up with creative ideas at a much more rapid pace, and I can assimilate new information with greater ease. I'm also not depressed anymore, which is a side effect of the drugs they gave me to cure mania, which was caused by antidepressants mostly and not spontaneously from me, and the antidepressants were originally used for existential depression. So I got misdiagnosed and treated for the wrong thing, most of my treatment in the last four years was to eliminate mania and hypomania, which are actually overexcitabilities which gifted people tend to have and which serve a purpose.

I am on 500mg of epival now. I think at the end of this week I will cease taking it. I'm hoping I don't flip out, but we'll see. Mostly I hope people give me a chance to get through the withdrawal symptom without running around yelling that I'm sick.

I think I'm lucky though, I do have a small number of people who I can have conversations with about what I care about, and that's important. I don't know anyone else but Robin who could have a half hour discussion on Genius Sex. I have another friend who sends sweet nothings in latin, and a few people here and there who I drop in on and talk about their thesis or dissertations or other pleasurable intellectual pursuits. I have been deeply lonely around the lack of people to talk to and play with and have sex with, yes, but I've reached a turning point where I'm not willing to measure myself based on the standard. I am a deviation, it is true, but that doesn't always mean a lack.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Burning Box

Burning Box
Originally uploaded by fit of pique.
This is a shot from the very successful Burning of the Box! More pictures still to come, this is the first thing I burnt, a commitment order. It took half an hour to burn everything, holy crap! But I feel much better, weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

Reading circa 1980

Young Thirza and a Book
Originally uploaded by fit of pique.
This is me when I was two, looking at words and pictures. That silly monkey in the back is my sister being terribly cute and sitting on my mum's lap. I'm wearing ducks.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Growing Up Gifted

When I went crazy, later on my mom criticized one psychiatrist for thinking I was "some kind of mad genius." This hurt, because in fact I am a mad genius. Long before any psychological issues emerged, I had already been handpicked by the elementary school system to go into a smaller program for gifted students. There are two classes in the city for gifted students, and the program lasts approximately as long as an undergraduate degree, four years. I got some flak for deciding to accept the invitation from friends who thought I was going to "nerd school." Yes, the only fistfight in our classroom over a four year period was over theories of aerodynamics, but really we were just a group of terribly smart kids who were getting bored in regular schooling.

We were half of the 60 kids in Saskatoon in our grade level with the highest I.Q. scores, about 140 and upwards. I know there's lots of debate about how I.Q. tests work and what intelligence is valued over others, but there you have it. That's how the program selected us. It wasn't a program you could apply to either, or even knew that it existed, the school board just sent my mom a letter of invitation for me at the end of grade 4. And it was good because I was getting really bored in my schooling. Phonetics class was the most useless, by the time I got to kindergarten I had already been reading for some time. I still remember the first book I read on my own, when the marks actually had meaning. I remember reading it and thinking "Is that all there is?" It was a boring book! So boring. Dolphins, bleh! But phoenetics was the worst because it taught you to read in a way that made adults laugh at you, and I didn't like that. Even the word for phonetics isn't fonetic.

Luckily I kept reading after the first boring book. My mom didn't know I could read until she found me one day sitting in my room with a book and she asked me what I was doing. "Reading." She didn't really believe me until I started reading the whole book aloud to her. I was about four.

It was my Gramma who helped me learn to read. I was frustrated by the inaccessability of the written language, I knew there was a pattern and I knew it had a meaning but I didn't know HOW that worked yet. She was a kindergarten teacher a long time before, so she started doing reading exercises with me. Recognizing letters mostly, someone got some workbooks from a teacher store and that's what I did with my Gramma when we visited. Because in a large extent it was self directed learning, I think I also learned how to learn from a very very young age. So I learned how to read, and it just continued on.

My mom was often busy with my sister, so I also became really self reliant because I was so impatient. I remember when I got my first two wheel bicycle my mom was going to teach me how to ride it after she put my sister to bed. That took an hour, and an hour was like, oh my god, an eternity. So I went into the back alley, jumped on my bicycle, put two feet on the pedals, and fell over immediately. This continued on for about an hour, until my mom finally came out to teach me only to see me riding up and down the alley saying "Look what I can do!" with totally bloody gory knees dripping blood and embedded with bits of gravel.

Thinking back on it, while my class was fairly diverse, a majority of the students could be considered disabled in the various ways students are currently being labeled. In hindsight most students had what would be labeled now as attention deficit disorder, at least one person had autism, there were wide ranging emotional problems, and when all was said and done we could have been a really rowdy problematic group of kids to teach. Pretty much everyone was an independent thinker in their own ways, nothing happened in class that wasn't challenged in some way. So the teachers had to literally teach us in a different way than the majority of students were being taught. They knew that for us to learn and be happy we had to work with whatever we were interested in at the time. We did research projects all the time. And I can't say that we were all geniuses in the same way. I was the writer/artist genius among several others, some people were really strong in math, some people were athletes, some people were good computer programmers, some were musicians, and so on. Yes, we still had the "popular kids" and the "nerds" and other social aspects common to most educational environments. But we were also respected by the people who were our authorities, which was a very different way of learning than I experienced in other learning environments. It changed the way I thought of authority.

It was probably also one of the places I got bullied so much, because it started becoming obvious to my classmates that I wasn't heterosexual and that the tomboy thing wasn't going away. But one thing they couldn't bully me about was being stupid. The only snide comment they could make about my intelligence was that I wasn't good at math, because I wasn't doing algebra while most of them were. That hurt, but even then they couldn't call me worse than average in mathematics, because I wasn't in remedial, I just had to go to the regular class for math and then come back.

There was one thing I quit, a few other students did too. Band. I just never liked band. I think it was the group thing that annoyed me, if I had been able to play an instrument on my own with music I chose I probably would have stuck with it, but as it was I was practicing Ode to Joy and the William Tell Overture without any back up and feeling dumb. So I spent two years wiggling my fingers on the keys. I don't know if anyone noticed, because I kept passing. Then one day I turned to the second saxaphonist and confessed my fraudulent finger wiggling and she said "That's what I've been doing too!" There was only one other alto sax in the band, and I have no idea what the heck she was doing, I never asked. I decided to quit, even though I only had one more year of band. I didn't want to live a lie! And I remember the band teacher huffed and said "I hope you don't quit EVERYTHING you do in life!" Which was weird because it was the one thing I ever quit as a kid.

Oh, except for fencing, but that's because I was a girl and got no play.

It's not like I twiddled around with my life by leaving band, instead I wrote more essays and read more books, so it was all good.

I have to say though, for a society which prides itself on valuing intelligence, it really doesn't. That's bunk. Our society values conformity, someone who follows orders well, someone who is the same as most of the other somebodies. I think it's been my intellect which has frustrated myself and almost everyone else the most. I've been told I think too much, too fast, feel too deeply, everything has been about slowing me down until I am at the same pace as everyone else. Do you know what it's like being on an antipsychotic for three and a half years as a gifted person? God, it fuckin' SUCKS! You can't think, or feel. I mean, people seem to think you can, and I'm sure I wasn't stupid, but I wasn't thinking at a comfortable pace, I couldn't have extreme emotional responses to life so it took me longer to process things which happened. It was agony.

There was this Twilight Zone I watched once when I was a kid about this kid who's studying for a big test coming up that all the kids have to take at that age. It's administered by the government and he wants to do really well on it. People are like "Oh, don't worry about it," trying to dissuade him from studying and so on, trying to get him to act like a regular kid and not worry about academics so much. But he studies anyway and does really well and it turns out the government has a policy to kill the really smart people of it's population.

I talk about all of my identities a lot in my art practice and here obviously, but I have never before talked openly about my gifted identity. It's considered "elitist" to acknowledge being highly intelligent. Like what right do I have to say I'm smart, that's for someone else to judge. But I got judged early and often and sent to a special class for four years to avoid being crushed by the system.

And yet I never really went looking for information on what that identity really means. Being gifted often comes with a deep abiding existential depression and loneliness. I don't talk to people often because often they make conversation about limited things. I'll want to talk about deep subjects at length and often notice myself getting shut down by people who consistently prefer lighter fare. It makes me really hard to get to know. I'm emotionally sensitive to a higher degree than others, and sensually more sensitive than others too. I often prefer more varieties of stimulation all at the same time, like playing music while writing with reading breaks and maybe, oh, masturbating somewhere in there.

It turns out gifted people often get diagnosed with pathologies simply because people in the mental health field are woefully uneducated about our population. I recently found a theory which seems to apply more to my psychological issues compared to the bipolar label. It's called Positive Disintegration, and it's common amongst the gifted population, who often have overexcitabilities. Besides being intellectually smart, we also have vastly different developmental issues than the general population. Age Appropriate for a gifted child is completely useless. And typically existential depression, suicides, and psychosis can accompany the moral development of a gifted person. Rather than being a negative aspect of life, it represents a struggle between higher and lower functioning. Lower functioning is where educators and psychiatrists try to push us back to, because those are the people who fit in with society the best. That would be someone who hasn't developed to a morally advanced stage of deep empathy for humanity at large. Dabrowski, who developed this theory, states that the health of a society can be measured by how many people within it suffer from psychoneurosis, the more the better. Primary Integration, the 1st stage, is where most average people stay at. Incidentally, it is also the domain of individuals defined as psychopaths. Psychopathy is a label given to people who are deficient in empathy and conscience, who often do very well in society as it operates today and can be found in occupations like law, politics, business, and CEO's. Secondary Integration is the ideal outcome of positive disintegration, but on the way there all hell breaks loose. Because we live in a society which devalues independent thought, moral development, and emotional reactions, we've also demonized some really healthy and natural personal growth processes in the name of mental hygiene.

Is it a disability? I don't know. I know that it comes with things that make life in this world very difficult. I remember when I was ten and read Vasari's Lives of the Artists I was so fascinated with descriptions of Leonardo Da Vinci, who reminded me in many ways of myself. On Star Trek Voyager Captain Janeway was always going to Da Vinci's studio to commune with great intellect, but in real life she probably would have run screaming from it. This was a man who's fixation on anatomy would lead him to endlessly draw cadavers and not notice the stench of being around rotting bodies. His studio was a mess, he developed a reputation for starting projects and abandoning them when something else came up. For fun he attached intestines to bellows and expanded them so much that he would push people out of the room. He caused one mentor to stop painting when as a child he painted an angel holding clothes with so much more attention to the use of colour that his mentor became embarassed of his own lack of abilities. Today he would probably be put on ritalin.

It's been stated that 40% to 60% of gifted children have neurological disabilities. So few people know how to deal with gifted thought processes and development that we often DO have a hard time in the world. In that respect I would say we are disabled, since we have a lack of resources to live in this world. One might assume that we can just trot off to higher education and excell, and sometimes that's true, but often post secondary education fails gifted people as well.

All very interesting I say.

Pan's Labyrinth

I just came back from seeing Pan's Labyrinth and my muscles hurt from being tensed up that whole time! And I haven't cried that hard at the end of a movie in forever and ever. Jesus Christ. Ow. My body hurts! It was such a good movie though, between him and his friend Curaron, jesus they're intense!

Filmmakers are brutal. It's the most extreme amount of power you have, to have people spend two hours listening and watching an entire story you've created and responding in certain ways. I think if you can make someone laugh and you can make someone cry on demand in response to a film you've made, you have the potential to be an amazing filmmaker. I seem to have mastered those two things in my filmmaking, I'm trying to incorporate other things. I REALLY want to make a film that will make everyone in the audience have an orgasm on demand, but I'm not sure how to do that, and I'm not talking porn or where they actually start masturbating, I just think there must be some way to make someone come without doing anything to them. I told a friend about my idea to do that and she said "Oh, that's a very kind film you're making." So yes, emotions are complex. And when people get mad about films manipulating people, uh, well yeah, that's what we do. That's a very simplistic explanation of filmmaking, but at the same time I don't want to deny that filmmaking is one of the biggest power trips ever, it's the uber apex of domination.

I'm working on one film which won't come out for another decade at least, but the ending is so intense that it makes ME cry every time I think about it.

Anyway, Pan's Labyrinth, wow, anti-war movies starring children seem to be the most effective. Cripes!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Culture Clash

Last night I went out with my friend Laurel, who's been my best friend since daycare. She's Saulteaux, which because of geographical proximity is pretty close to Cree. We were talking about the current problems in the aboriginal communities, like the fact that we treat our children really horribly when before colonialism they were afforded the same respect and reverence as elders. But then European thought was imposed on our cultures, and children were treated terribly of course, they weren't even considered persons of value until they reached adult hood. And so we have learned that from Europe, to disregard children and abuse them in all the ways that they can be abused. Not everyone, but child abuse is epidemic in our communities today. Dickens had the Blacking Factory and too many aboriginal children are working the streets.

But I was extending it to something else. In Cree culture, and many other aboriginal cultures, people with disabilities were also honoured. I know people, usually white people, try to say that we would have just left them on an ice floe or in the bush to die, I don't know about other tribes but Crees did not do that. If someone like my sister was born they would be a good omen for the community because they were seen as being spiritually advanced. The parents lucky enough to have such a child would also be honoured. People like me were recognized for having abilities to speak to spirits and see the future, and would have been trained to control their mind powers (not stifle, just be more in control).

This idea is starting to be lost in our communities since European values have been imposed on us. Disabled people are said to be a "white thing," like we never showed up in aboriginal communities before contact. They try to say the same thing about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people too. But we've all been showing up in our communities here forever. I should also note that it would never be just the immediate family who would act as caregivers to disabled people, the whole community would be involved in looking after that person. My sister would have been able to wander around the camp and everyone would keep an eye out to make sure she was safe.

It is strange to read things about people with disabilities that violates the values I was brought up with. Like when the Ashley X thing happened and some comments on various blogs were to the effect of her life being worthless because she can't work or think in specific ways. That is such a European concept to me, and horrifying. How can someone's life be considered worthless just because they can't work? Ugh, so disgusting.

And I think about myself too, and my times of extreme poverty and starvation, and I wonder why that was allowed to happen, why I have to earn things like food and shelter, why anybody has to earn those things, when as a community we should just be ensuring everyone is being taken care of. I hate when I hear people tell panhandlers to get a job, like it's such an easy thing. Or to get a house. People don't think about what is involved in that, you need an address and phone to get jobs, you need references to get housing, you need money to get housing, and often you have to put down a damage deposit when you first move which can almost double your rent for that month. Sometimes you have to pay first and last months rent. And shelters and housing for street people often comes with conditions, like not being allowed to drink beer in your apartment because it's a sober living arrangement. I know alcoholism sucks, but not all street people are alcoholics, and it's not always a good idea to stop drinking. Take someone who has incest flashbacks that create suicidal episodes who's drinking to forget. Yes, it's a problematic thing to drink, but is someone going to be there looking after them when they start having those flashbacks? Some shelters require you take part in religious services, some require you meet with a psychiatrist and start taking medication. These aren't conditions that will improve these peoples lives, these are just situations where poor people are being blackmailed.

I remember when I was in the hospital I got in there during a severe cold snap, so all the homeless people had been rounded up and sent to the psych wards. They weren't really crazy, most of them, not more so than anyone else who'd been streeting it for a while. But it was a chance for them to get housing and three meals a day, so that people could think it was a good thing. They weren't freezing to death, but on the other hand they were being exploited to prescribe heavy antipsychotics which were paid for by Quebec Healthcare.

My cultural values are so different from mainstream Canada's. Take the concept of wealth. In white culture, wealth is demonstrated by how much you own. In Cree culture, wealth is demonstrated by how much you can give away. We still have give aways, ceremonies where a family will collect things like blankets and dishes and toys and so forth, and invite people and give it all away to them. In contemporary life, if we come into more money than usual, no matter how little we may have, it's common practice to share it amongst friends. I've had periods of extended poverty where I suddenly get an artist fee windfall and take some friends out to dinner. Things like that. It means we can get taken advantage of by unscrupulous people, but it's also just a nice thing to do.

So I am very interested in reviving some of these values which I don't want to see us lose because of colonialism. Children should be served food at the same time as elders again. Disabled people should be respected members of the community. And we need to find a better way of distributing wealth.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Psychiatric Slipper toe

Psychiatric Slipper toe
Originally uploaded by fit of pique.
This damned smiley face was on my toes in the ward until my dad finally got me real slippers. Thanks Dad.


Originally uploaded by fit of pique.
These are the fireworks. The ones laying down are 12 roman candles, each spits out 8 balls. From right to left: Silver Palm Tree spits out a mortar that goes 50m and explodes into a huge silvery star. The box is a series of short roman candles which ignite sequentially and shoot off several fireworks, specifically it "vomits peonies", it is called "Bewitched," apparently another variation on this was "Anti Terorrism" but I didn't want something so GW Bush-like. The tall one sends out about 70 balls altogether. The short one sends out stars and "goldfish" whatever the hell that means in pyrotechnic world. The Cluster Bomb is a large fountain which also sends out stars. The cone is a regular old cone fountain, not superspectacular but cool nonetheless. I was trying to find the Burning Schoolhouse, which was a favorite between Luke and I when we were kids, I was going to change it to the Burning Psych Ward, but yeah, it's not around anymore. I gotta go, my mom's yelling at me and we have to go buy hotdogs.

Get Politicized Linkage

The uncle on whose land I am doing the box burning - fireworks ceremony/celebration called my mom to ask about me, wondering if I went off of my medication because people make plans when they go off their medication. Mom got mad at him, good for her. She told him I've been planning this for years, which is true. I just got the whole box together incidentally, and it wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. It did make me get a bit creeped out though, all of the other bipolar people in my family are very much into psychiatry in that they faithfully take their medication and don't rock the boat too much. And I am not sure that they will respect the fact that I'm opting for alternatives and that I'm becoming politically active. I think there are some differences in our lives though, in some ways being a minority in so many ways made me learn a lot about civil rights from different groups besides native people, and different strategies, and interrogating assumptions within myself. I lived in extreme poverty in some extreme situations. I don't know, I've gone in a very divergent path from them. So I don't want to be "helped" by them, I don't want them to think they have to intervene on me, I'm pretty aware of myself and my own condition. And sometimes I look and do bizarre things while being completely sane, just because I'm not a regular person.

Anyway, I've been reading more and more psych survivors blogs and sites, here are a few of my favorite posts.

Stir Crazy posted a Critique of the Icarus Project, which goes into some incredible detail on the issues psych survivors are facing, even from supposedly alternative/enlightened/anarchist/counterculture communities. This is one of my most favorite posts recently, especially since I also come out of a queer punk millieu, and not everyone is aware of their own use of oppression against other people even though they run around being proud of their being so non-oppressive.

This is a great article called Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient, which is about this idea of compliance and being a good mental patient, when we know that good mental patients often do not get better, while a non-compliant patient has a better chance of not only surviving but thriving. This is her story of her journey towards non-compliance and eventual freedom through joyously "falling through the cracks."

Amanda at Ballastexistenz wrote this great post about What Happens When You Ignore Power Relationships, referring to a review by someone working in the psych industry to Call Me Crazy, a book written by survivors, only the psych industry worker puts survivor in quotation marks. Anyway, yeah, worker gets professionally insulted by survivors talking about their lives and Amanda looks at what the real power relationship is going on here.

This is a whole site run by Safe Harbor and connected with Margot Kidder, a proponent of Alternative Mental Health. If you want to get off your drugs and find a new way of taking care of yourself, this is an excellent place to start. It includes a doctor database of openminded friendly folk who will support patients through med withdrawals and assist in developing different treatment strategies.

This article is a summary of the development of the chemical imbalance theory, which yes, is still a theory. No one has ever been able to prove it.

This article talks about the ideas which arose from the Soteria project, an experimental home for people in psychosis which had excellent recovery rates and used medication only if patients requested it.

You're a nut! You're crazy in the coconut! This is a video mash up of Gnarls Barkley and the Avalanches.

This is a preview from PharmedOut, an interview with an ex Zyprexa drug rep for Eli Lilly.

An ironic fact about me: when I was hospitalized, I had been working in pharmaceutical market research for many of the big companies, Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, Abbott, etc etc. We would ask physicians questions about if they knew how the drug worked, how it worked in their patients, and generally figure out how to sell the drug in better ways. For instance, we would ask if Geodon would be prescribed more often if it was called some different spectacular name, we would ask what images came to mind when they heard certain drug names, we would ask if the drug rep visited them and how many samples they got. Yes, life is full of peculiar ironies.