Einstein’s Tongue, Self-Esteem, Comparing Yourself to Others and Pink, Squishy Brain-Pulp

Sooooooo… Another month has flown by and once again there was no post here. Trying hard to feel guilty but… you know what… fuck it. From now on this blog is monthly. Somewhere between the forth and the sixth of each month there should be something new here. I may also post random stuff I come up with in the interim, but in general, if you are one of the vast minority that actually cares when these go up, then check back on those three days each month and see what’s up. Good, there, now my own niggling guilt of barely giving this blog a thought during the passed thirty days has been justified, lets get onto this post proper.

This is a blog about comparing yourself to others. Not really an original idea, I know, but it is a universal experience, thus no matter how much we talk about it someone is going to relate to it and help validate our views. And really, isn’t that what social interaction is all about? Finding people who validate how we think enough that we call them friends, finding people who REALLY validate us and who may or may not be unbelievably sexy to call ‘significant other’ or ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ or ‘partner’ or, if you’re feeling romantic, ‘my better half’ (naaaaawww), the point is opinions matter a crapton to us humans. We base pretty much our entire existence on the stuff spouted by our squishy brain-pulp and the stuff spouted from the squishy brain-pulp of those we love and admire. But the trouble comes from when we decide to put those spoutings in a place where others who do not share our particular brain-pulp spoutings can see them (no, I am not going to drop that particular turn of phrase. Get your squishy brain-pulp into gear and focus on the spoutings and not the way they are spouted. Grossed out? Excellent. We can continue).

It is a time such as that, when our brain spoutings are about to be splashed all over everywhere like the gore in some torture-porn horror film, that we need validation the most. However, in the search for such validation we often look to people we admire (the ones who may or may not have helped shape out opinions via their own brave brain-spouting), and think ‘is what I’m about to say in line with what this person has already said?’ or, ‘is what I’m about to say as good as what this person has already said?’ OR ‘should I even say anything because this person has already said it all so well and I just agree with them and by saying this thing it would just be me agreeing to everything they say and what is the point of any of this?’…. Soooo, yeah. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, EVERYONE on the goddamn planet has done it, and if they say they haven’t, then they’re liars (lying liars who lie. Don’t lie lying lairs!).

So what’s to do about it? How can we eradicate this intolerable scourge of the human psyche? *Strikes dramatic pose* OH GOD, PROTECT MY INNOCENT, PINK AND SQUISHY BRAIN-PULP FROM SUCH UNNECESSARY DAMAGING SELF-FLAGELLATION!! (Quick Google break to ensure ‘self-flagellation’ means what I think it means. It does. Also, insert Princess Bride joke here). Still with us? Good. So, what’s to be done, I hear you probably not ask because I just asked it for you? Well, metaphorical person on the other side of this screen, I personally have no idea what’s to be done. None. Zip. Nada. N/ fucking A (which stands for “not fucking available” for those of you playing at home). To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure that anything does need to be done. Ok, ok, clearly that is not going to be a catch all statement. I mean this is people’s self-esteem we’re talking about and no-one’s brain-pulp spoutings are any better than anyone else’s brain-pulp spoutings, no matter how pink and squishy and potentially delicious they may be (guys, we should totally start the zombie apocalypse. We don’t even need real zombies, just convince everyone that brains are delicious! No? Really? Well, that just ruins everything doesn’t it. Ok, ok, fine. Brains are not all that delicious. Happy? Good. Now enough of this tangent). But that statement before the really long bracket break isn’t necessarily true. Namely, no-one’s thoughts are not superior to anyone else’s thoughts. But see here’s the thing, Einstein developed the majority of his groundbreaking theories while he was working in a patent office during his twenties, that dude on the corner of the big city street wearing a cardboard sandwich board and shouting that gravity is a lie and you’re all mindless drones for being taken in to the ’round earth conspiracy’ may also be in his twenties, he may work in a patent office when no shouting at people, but the fullness of time will only prove one of them right. And only one of them is on some university student’s wall, forty odd years after he revolutionized physics, sticking his tongue out and just generally reminding everyone that genius’ can be fun too. It’s not the guy with the sandwich board.
Via Funny Pictures.net

 Einstein: Being awesome and ruining the paparazzi’s day since 1871

So perhaps it’s safe to say that Einstein’s brain-spoutings were at least a little bit more valuable to the history of the human race that that guy yelling about how the earth is flat. So, no, I don’t believe all brain-pulp is created equal. Nor do I believe that everyone is either a genius or someone who cannot see the evidence right in front of them (*cough, cough* global warming *cough, cough* Oh, what? Me? No, I didn’t say anything. Nope. Nah. NOTHING AT ALL. *pokes you fifteen times in succession, then scampers off to hide behind a melting iceberg*). The point is that some people have thoughts that will be more important and more influential to not just the human race and/or those individuals around them than others. Maybe that flat-earth guy will resonate with someone, but the majority of us will probably just sort of avoid eye-contact and shuffle uneasily out of his way. I am not saying that just because someone is important does that mean we should listen to what they have to say ( see: Tony Abbott, George W. Bush, most really huge celebrities, some priests), I am saying that some thoughts hold more value than others and that some people have those valuable thoughts more often than others. But we’ve strayed too far from the path. What does any of this have to do with comparing your brain-pulp spoutings to other people’s brain-pulp spoutings?

Well, the fact is, that even the most valuable mind is going to have invaluable thoughts, is going to believe wrong things, or things that hurt and marginalise others. All of us like to believe that we have a valuable mind, it’s certainly valuable to us, and for the most part, people’s thoughts are generally worth considering even if they don’t exactly align with yours, but those invaluable thoughts can sneak up on you. You don’t know if it’s coming, when it’s coming, where, why or how. But once it’s out there, it’s out and you can’t pull it back. This is why we compare ourselves to others. “Does this thought match what I believe?”, “Do I want to keep believing these things or must I reevaluate myself?”, “Does what I have to say hold any value to those who might read it?” These are the questions we are actually asking ourselves. And the way we answer them, to our own satisfaction at least, is by comparing our thoughts to others. It gives us a compass of sorts, a way gauge our worth in the world. But, and here we come to why this can be a problem, if you come to the conclusion that your brain-pulp has no worth, that it’s a little too much squish and not enough pink, then your spoutings will never be shared and any thoughts you have of value will be wasted. Any genuine, valuable thoughts you have will remain split-second flashes of electricity between synapses and will fade, buried in the dried-out neurons of your brain long after you are dead.

So I argue, compare yourself to others, question yourself, even doubt yourself a little (or a lot if you’re like most of us), realise that nothing you say is golden gospel, but very likely nothing you say will ever be utter horseshit either (exceptions probably apply to the less tolerant among us, I guess. Because seriously, fuck racism, sexism, homophobia and the rest of them right up the ass in the bad way. I’ve heard that it can be quite fun if you do it right, but let’s not make this weird). There will probably be some value in most things you say. That dude on the street corner, shouting outdated-since-the-ancient-greeks  nonsense, may spark some physicist with a mind for such things to re-evaluate our outlook on gravity and come up with something absurd but plausible like string theory and solve all our problems.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that all minds have value, perhaps not in the same amounts and certainly not in the same way, and I have yet to see a mind devoid of value, no matter who it belongs to, no matter how much filth they are spouting from their brain-pulp. So don’t let your brain-pump go to waste, compare yourself, doubt yourself, question everything about yourself and others, but don’t let anyone or anything invalidate or devalue you to you. Perhaps you need help in doing this, like someone whose job it is to analyse brain-pulp and try to fix it, or medications to smooth out the squish and add some pink, either way, both or neither may or may not work for you. Try anyway, because otherwise you’ll never know and that precious brain spouting may go unheard and that would kind of suck, for pretty much everyone. So you go out there and spout your pinkest brain-pulp, you little maybe-Einstein, you, and to be honest just the hope of that keeps me going.

Till next month, good luck with whatever it is you are trying to do. Hopefully you’ll have a pretty good new year and such. Happy soon-to-be Holidays to the people who like to be told such things and a good old “Aren’t Christmas carols just freaking annoying?” to those who don’t. Might post something new up here before 2015, but maybe I won’t. We’ll have to see.

Anyway, till then, look after yourself, and keep those precious thoughts coming. It looks like we’re going to need them.

Ashlee.

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An Incoherent, Slightly Biased Review (AKA: I LOVE THIS BOOK SO FUCKING MUCH!!!)

So… hi. Look at that, exactly a month since anything new appeared in this little internet space… I feel like I should apologize… but I honestly don’t think there’s anyone hanging out to read these. *Sigh*. One day. Anyway, in case you can’t tell I’ve been feeling a little depressed these past few weeks about my future as a writer, (something to do with Fear Number 1 raising it’s ugly head again) and you know what I like to read when I’m feeling depressed about the inevitable decay of it all? Apocalypse books, because it’s really REALLY cathartic. What’s my favourite apocalypse book you ask (how kind of you to take such an interest)? Well, to be honest, it’s my only apocalypse book, but that is irrelevant because, as you saw in the title…
I LOVE THIS BOOK SO FUCKING MUCH!!!… Ok, ok, ok, I’m calm, let’s showcase this bit of wonder-fiction to the seven or so of you who will actually read this (that’s right, I see you. I see you ALL! Muahahahahahahahahahah! *Ahem*).
Ladies and gentlemen, behold…

Image Via Goodreads.com.

Yup. That’s Nod, inscribed from the mouth of Cthulhu himself, set to ancient parchment in Grimm wolf-blood (“It’s like red chamomile tea!”) by Adrian Barnes. From what I gather of my past experiences, half of you have never in your lives heard of it (treasure your innocence), a quarter of you are joining me in a good bout of evil laughter as the darkness birthed inside you by this book squirms and grins, and the other quarter of you are gnashing your teeth and shooting steam from your ears at my obvious lack of any real judgement in literature. Whelp, sit tight, because, love it or loathe it “Nod” is one mind-fuck of a ride.

Our Hero: His name is Paul. He likes words. And Tanya. People besides Tanya tend to piss him off, particularly Charles. Mainly because Charles is a prick (an opinion I share with Paul. Fuck Charles).

Our Heroine: Tanya. Beautiful, normal, intelligent. She likes Paul enough to have stayed with him for five years at the opening of the book. Looks like hell the first time we see her, but is actually heaven. Paul has it backwards.

Our Villain: The Admiral in Blue? The Awakened? That one guy with the ship and the nukes? The messed up, disheveled, beaten and bleeding world at large? Humanity? Whatever the fuck was happening on that beach (if that scene doesn’t send some sort of shiver up your spine then you might not be human)? Honestly all of these are the antagonist and all of them are not. It’s one of the things I really like about the book. There’s a bad-guy here for everyone, pick your hate!

The Question (because every book needs a question): A huge, resounding, what the fuck?! What the fuck is up with all the fatal insomnia? What the fuck are those children so calm about? And, seriously, what the fuck is that magical golden dream all about? Yes, I am aware that is more than one question… It’s a complex book.

The Plot: No-one sleeps. Well, one in a thousand people maybe do. But most people don’t sleep. Things go to pot in a major, major way. Think of an atrocity and it’s probably committed within these pages, along with a few you probably haven’t thought of yet. Look at that cover, this is not a sane book. And yet there’s an almost indistinguishable grain of hope in there, among all the madness and attempted (sometimes successful) infanticide, there’s one tiny, desperate, dim, flickering point of hope. You have to look really hard to find it, and it offers no real comfort, but it’s there and in some ways it almost makes all the bat-shit insanity worth it.  Almost.

My Honest Opinion: This is not a book for the weak of heart or mind or stomach. This is not a book for a casual summer read, relaxing on a beach. You will find no relaxation here. But you figured that out already. The truth is, I read all one hundred and ninety nine pages of this book in three hours and I was a different person because of those three hours I spent inside Adrian Barnes’ head. My outlook, my speech, my thoughts and, most obviously, my writing have all been heavily influenced by those pages. I have read it once since, over the course of two days (roughly), and it’s punch, while not increased in the re-read, was far from diminished. In my mind, this is not a book, it is a series of images, events, emotions and experiences. “Nod” occupies the same space in my head as my actual memories of real life. It’s a wonder I don’t have PTSD from this shit. I did not turn the pages of this book I watched it happen and it implanted itself deep within me, digging its claws into my hippocampus and refusing to leave. I say I love this book, only because that is the only way to describe this strange cacophony of emotions and be taken seriously. I love Nod the way the abused loves the abuser, I know that it will tear me down, make me feel hopeless and depressed, that it will slap me in the face and punch me in the throat and leave me crying into my pillow, but at the end of the day it is what it is and as long as the bruises are metaphorical, then I will endure that agony. (Side note on abuse: Anyone who is being abused by anything more substantial than a book, say, by a person, PLEASE SEEK HELP! You are not alone, and there are a thousand ways out and a hundred thousand people who are willing to help. I do not condone non-metaphorical abuse in any way, shape or form.)

With that, ladies and gentlemen… Sleep Tight.