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Mean curvature

Wednesday 1/2/19


Have you noticed how quick people are to claim they have been attacked?


That's a word they use whenever someone expresses something true, and expresses it even in a calm, non-insulting manner. Are you someone who does this? If you are, it's likely that you recognize it happening all the time with others, and yet when it comes to ourselves, when a statement of truth occurs, we often label that statement an attack upon us.


To me, there is a pecking order in this life. Feelings are not at the top of that order. You try to be mindful of feelings, but truth matters more, reality matters more. When two people, for instance, briefly enter into each other's orbit, it's okay for a person to remark that they're looking for such and such, which might be different than what is on offer here, or could be on offer. You are allowed to have preferences, and to state them. I find that almost everyone now--and it's more pronounced than at any time in my life--is incapable of separating their feelings from their ability to cogitate objectively, when it comes to anything they might strain to see--because they are so sheltered, so scared, so insecure, so divorced from reality and being able to handle it--as an indictment of everything they are.


No matter how trivial. No matter if it comes from someone they don't know, don't care about, won't care about. It's like when the calendar turns to winter, and you're not ready for the cold, you feel extra cold. You've been warm, you've been indoors, whatever. But if you're out in the cold, you're running, you're walking, you get used to it. But now I feel that people are always extra cold, if you will, when it's forty degrees, fifty degrees, sixty degrees, because they've been so little exposed to anything, the merest puff of wind, which sends them back to the depressive lair that is their bed, their Facebook, their Netflix account, their enabling false friends, etc.


I am often bombarded by notes that look like ciphers from second graders (this is inaccurate in the sense that many second graders are quite bookish and bursting with words for you) who wish to go out on a date. By which I mean, it's one emoji after another, and abbreviations that mean God knows what. You should have a decent notion of what you're going to be getting into with me, based off of what you've seen me say and how I've said it.


One time I remarked, "As an adult, I'm only interested in people who communicate in actual words, rather than acronyms."


Fair, no? Seems fair. That's my right to desire that. I need not indulge you if you've had the lack of foresight and judgment to send a bevy of nonsensical, seemingly coded notes at me. I owe you no burnishing of your delicate sense of self. You ought to have known better. Anyway, the person to whom this remark was directed, wrote me to start the year, saying this, from months ago, was a grand setback for her--this person older than I am (whom I had no recollection of, because why would I?)--and it was the meanest thing anyone had ever said to her, and it was important from a therapeutic standpoint to let me know that she had managed to carry on.


She wished to have a hero's moment.


Are you kidding me?


I said that there was nothing remotely mean about what I said. It was the truth, and, furthermore, an understandable one. You should use words if you're an adult. Try being one. And if that is the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you, something that is not mean by any stretch, maybe go outside, take a walk, talk to some people, live life and dispense with the passive aggressive pieties that clearly play a role in stopping you from living, and from having perspective.


William Sloane wrote that the one unforgivable sin is weakness. I believe this. A lot of things fit under the umbrella of weakness. Betrayal, for instance. I am more and more of the mind that next to no one is born with intelligence. I think most people are born exactly the same mentally. I see very little ability in this world, on the mental level, so far as given ability goes. We make a choice about what we're going to be. Are we going to work to develop our brains, and gain our intelligence that way, like it's a muscle, or your lungs if you're a runner? It's your call. Are you going to seek that out, have that mental discipline? Most people are going to be as smart, or as stupid, as they decided to be. You have to work out your mind. You have to train it. Focus it. Keep it strong. When it can lift a given amount of weight, you have to keep going so it can then lift more, or else it gets pudgy and weak.


Sometimes, I have friends I try not to get to know better because I suspect on a very real level I will come to learn how weak they are. Fundamentally. But I guess that's why we have levels of friends, in a way. But what kind of gilded soap bubble do you have to live in to think that someone saying to you that they're not interested in acronym people romantically--I mean, honestly, can you even imagine that pairing--is this mortal verbal dagger?


What can you handle in life? You can't handle reality. I've had editors, for instance, who have lied to me, stolen from me, told other editors to blacklist me, over the course of years, and also added ignoring me for five years to that mix. And eventually, I've said something. And you know what they say? When you simply remark that maybe this isn't cool, they say that you've attacked them. (I will share some of the actual correspondence on here later.) So people cultivate, not their garden, as Voltaire would have advised, but a substitute for reality. (As for Voltaire, he'd now have to qualify and extend that metaphor, because a garden could be seen as a private venture, so he'd have to say that the sun is truth, the water is reality, use the water, make sure there's plenty of sun, etc.) This is more and more common. What people want now, too, is to be able to do whatever they wish to you, and if you point that out--that is, what is being done, and how maybe it's not the greatest way to be, and maybe that treatment isn't warranted--you almost always get that word "attacked." "You attacked me." Or, "You were verbally abusive." No. Reality was simply commented on. Sans cursing, sans insults to you, sans threats. Reality is a third party, that touches all other parties. It's its own thing. Reality is your overlord (or one of them, anyway). Answer to it.


More and more in my head, this line sounds: "What's the problem--reality?"


And the answer, inevitably, but rhetorically, is yeah.