May 13, 2017 (Saturday)

by Yule Heibel on May 12, 2018

This week that is ending has really been a washout in most ways. Sometimes it really feels like nothing moves, which makes me wonder whether any sense of “movement,” when it is experienced, is merely an illusion. Maybe there’s only monadic hopping, from point to point. Each point is a Yoda-ish “do.” But what about the much vaunted “flow”? Flow might really just be a matter of monadic point presentation. Ah, that point. Then that one. Now this one. Flow might just be the sensation of seeing monadic points presented in an attractive order. They’re (suddenly) not hiding, obscuring themselves, buried in stuckness. So, “flow.”

This last week had a lot of hiding, it seems to me. First, Monday’s domestic chores; then, Tuesday’s event; Wednesday’s “hangover” (not from substances, but from disruption due to event); Thursday, grocery run; Friday, annual medical checkup. Now, admittedly, I colluded with myself in avoiding any work on the fiction project. I told myself that I “deserve” a break (why?, I hadn’t done much yet), when really it was a case of not being able to see the point(s) of interest. I need an outline, I need chapters, I need structure. I also let myself get massively sidelined and derailed by all the media frenzy in the wake of Trump’s firing, on Tuesday evening, of Comey.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with how federal politics is invading and colonizing the average citizen’s thoughts and imagination. I’m reading Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile , and have just reached the section on Switzerland, namely that its federal government is almost nonexistent because the country has a federated structure, bottom-up, not top-down. This puts all the frenzy and action at the level of cantons and municipalities. Taleb argues that’s where it belongs, and where it makes a healthy contribution to competitiveness and antifragility.

I’m thinking we’re going the opposite way, especially media-wise, because all media seems intent on focusing us on disempowerment, on levels we can’t control – namely, the top.

The net effect is a complete “smoothing” out, a homogenization of perception. A homogenization of perception of the country, of the territory. Media is giving us a map, but not a picture of the territory, the terrain. This, like the insistence on a Procrustean bed, is making us fragile, too.

I’m thinking that the work of people like Chris Arnade is doubly important, for its documentation of marginalized communities, far from being “poverty porn,” as some misguided critics have claimed, is giving us the terrain. What’s missing is action, a stepping up to autonomy and action.

I’m thinking a little bit of medical intervention and the spikiness of the US (which I’m thinking we shouldn’t lose). At my checkup, I had a very nice nurse-practitioner take my vitals. Peggy had just moved here from Florida last year. She told me (since medication came up, and I’m not taking any) that she has been shocked by the different levels of medication in Massachusetts versus Florida, especially, she said, with regard to children. She said 80% of the children coming through [my doctor’s] office are on some kind of medication, typically for behavior issues: ADHD, etc. The rate in Florida, she claimed, is nowhere near that.

Psychopharmaceuticals, another Procrustean bed? Massachusetts, a state intent on smoothing out the difference(s), in turn making us more fragile?

A. and I always commented on the utter conventionalism of youth here. They get it via a scrip at the doctor’s office.


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