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Monday, July 6, 2015

Elizabeth Hayes' "Why I Jumped off the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge"


I tried to kill myself once, March 5th, 2012. I could not take the depression anymore and at about 6:30 am I drove myself to the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, parked my car on the west end, where there's a little neighborhood of crap housing, and walked about what looked to me like one-third of the way up the bridge. A tad skittish, I kept looking down to make sure I'd jump far enough, and when it looked like it was at least 100 feet, I climbed over the barrier and jumped. This was when dawn was just breaking.

There was a crucial catch, however. The barrier is short but about a foot wide, and there's another foot beyond that, so you cannot see straight down but only slant. So I could not see that I'd be falling into a dead tree 50 feet below. The specifics are not clear by any picture of that bridge, and I’ve yet to find the nerve to actually inspect it (does it matter, anyway?)—but in any case I did fall into a dead tree and bounced off it, apparently. When I awakened sometime later, I saw below me a barren tract of land where some huge mechanism was being driven around a road far away, and I tried to scream out to the driver, many times.

But that mechanism was very loud, and I was sitting in scrub and a bunch of trash, so I tried to scooch down so maybe somebody could hear me. The temperature was just at the freezing point--0 C/32 F. My coat had blown off of me and was about two feet away. My purse, which I'd brought so somebody could identify me for my daughter's sake, was hanging just above and behind me on the dead tree like some loony Christmas ornament. I was not feeling cold, even though I was only wearing an insubstantial dipsy-print rayon blouse the color of loden, so with that and my dirty blonde hair I blended right in with the landscape. I felt no pain.

What worried me, though, were the hawks, and the fact that when I fell, my right leg had somehow been entrapped in a noose made out of vine, which became apparent as I scooted down, and all I could think was, ‘Holy shit. This is how I am going to die. Me, privileged white girl. I will die here very slowly, out of thirst first, and then the birds will come down to peck out my eyes.’

Why did I do that? I must say it’s a stupid question, because why does anyone try to kill herself? The answer is simple: an overwhelming desire to die, to get it over with already (well, some people like the fabled Willy Loman do it to give people money). The only reason people ask that question is that they really don’t understand complete despair. Once one of my bosses said that once he had woken up and for an hour felt no hope, no hope at all. I just stared at him for three seconds and changed the subject. I wanted to say, “Try that for an entire year, you big baby, and nearly always show up to work and do your job regardless.”

I think it was about eleven that the medics finally found me—somebody had seen me jump and called 911, and they’d been searching for hours. I don’t know how long I was unconscious and how long I was conscious, sitting there trapped and considering the hawks. I don’t know how the medics got up to me—there must be stairs? A friend knows a retired cop, and he found the recording of the conversation. I’d said, “Just take me back to my car and I’ll be fine,” apparently, but I don’t remember that. Instead, they took me to the hospital, and somewhere on the way the pain began.

I failed, even at this simple task of dying by jumping off the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, which should be a no brainer. I did, however, manage to break my pelvis in two places, crack most of my vertebrae, break my shoulder and a few other bones (they said twelve, if I remember correctly, but I was so high on opioids when they said it I could be wrong). I also got myself deeply in debt. I had no health insurance because of my bipolar one diagnosis, which the insurance agencies would not touch, even though I had no history of hospitalization for that little problem. I ended up in a hospital for a month and a nursing home for three months, where nobody gave me a shower for nearly two months. I had to go to a nursing home with psychiatric “care.” This meant merely that this psychiatrist came to visit one time, along with some woman to listen in (why? I have no idea, but probably she was “in training”). The psychiatrist asked about my psychiatric symptoms, and I said it’s mostly anhedonism. He asked what that meant. What the fuck? If you look up bipolar depression, it says it right there, and this sham doctor purported to be an Expert. I said it means the incapacity to feel pleasure (ie “an”+”hedonism”). “Oh,” he said, “I should have known that; after all, I took four years of Latin.” Then he told me that I had not intended to kill myself; this act was merely a cry for help. No. Cutting your wrists the wrong way is a cry for help, idiot. Maybe he thought me so stupid I’d buy into his nonsense, but come on!

That guy charged me 200 bucks for that waste of an hour, while the angels who swept my floor, handled my bedpan issues, and brought me perhaps the worst food in the world got minimum wage. They would sit and talk with me intelligently. They told me the most interesting stories about their ghetto lives, their crazy mothers, their jailhouse husbands and unruly children. They told me jokes to cheer me up, particularly this one woman, an elegant, slender brown woman who always wore the same choker—she would have looked incomplete without its metal scrolls stretched around her neck, like someone with an ear missing. I loved to hear her cajoling this one really cranky guy to stand up, laughing as he cussed her up and down. Then eventually she’d come in and tell me about what kind of bullshit her grown up twins called Click and Clack had been up to. Sometimes one of the aides would buy me something decent to eat.

Sure, they wouldn’t bother to wheel me across the way where there was a shower all set up for the likes of me, unable to put pressure on my feet at all, but you cannot expect everything. Eventually they hired this beautiful Irish woman with Celtic tattoos who did finally take pity on me and got me to the shower a few times. What a relief that was!

Much of my problem is that I think the world is all wrong, all backwards, and if I could rule the world things would be so much better. Decent food would be served in hospitals and nursing homes, medical folk would get that food has something to do with the health of the body (I mean, duh!), the aides would be given the respect they deserve, the sham Experts would be laughed out of work so maybe they could start over with some humility, and sadism would not be tolerated. As it is, sadism is celebrated. That’s pretty depressing, isn’t it?

I try not to hate but I end up despising. The Experts, the ones in charge, are some of the ones I hate: the “professors.” The administrators, the doctors, the lawyers, the politicians, the bankers, the landowners. They are the stupidest, most heartless people on the planet, and should be locked up and fed nursing home food. I am THAT judgmental, yet when I was given the Myers-Briggs exam, I scored zero on judgment. All perception, it said, no decision-making capacity. That is so wrong, so that’s another reason. I make plenty of decisions; unfortunately, they are mostly the wrong ones, or so my daughter says.

Yes, according to the Myers-Briggs test, I am an INTP. I scored very low on emotion; supposedly I am a logical type. Well, that’s wrong too. Any intellectual crap I’ve ever developed is a shield to protect myself and others from my extreme emotionality.

When I was going through my three-and-a-half-year custody battle, the court social worker gave me this other psychological exam, which is supposed to be foolproof. My lawyer told me not to lie on it, but I did. I lied about all the questions that would prove me to be bipolar, like “Have you ever been awake for 48 hours without feeling tired?” or “Have you ever had ten drinks without getting drunk?” The only other question I lied about was “Have you ever enjoyed marijuana?” My lawyer said, ”You should not have lied on that one. That’s the trick question they use to feel out people’s honesty.” My God, it’s illegal!

The results came back: “Elizabeth Hayes lied about just about everything, so it is hard to say much about her. But one thing is clear: she is not bipolar.” When I’d outfoxed my stupid ex-husband’s lawyer on just about everything, he said, “What about this psychological exam? It says she lies about everything.” I said, well, it also says I am not bipolar, and clearly I am—after all, that’s the whole reason I’m here, isn’t it?” The magistrate sighed and threw the test in the trash, and I won what I’d asked for: shared custody, 50/50, just as my daughter had asked for all along. After the papers were signed I danced around the courtroom and cried, “Now I can act as crazy as I truly am!” By the way, I proofread those papers, and it’s a good thing I did because they’d gotten enough of the dates wrong to render them null and void, I do believe. Idiots. But hey, that’s why they get paid the big bucks.

So after all that going to court being accused of being a bad mother and a lunatic, three-and-a-half fucking years, not to mention a really horrid pregnancy, being in labor for 48 hours, a bad case of hemorrhoids, quitting a job where the boss pleaded me not to, even dangling a vice-presidency before me, all so my daughter wouldn’t have to go into day care, marrying her stupid father in the first place so I could have her in a situation of some financial stability, and nursing her for nearly three years—she just would not wean— taking her to the mall (my least favorite leisure activity) and buying her whatever stupid crap she desired, trying to teach her everything, taking her to the movies and the art museum (when she was three she could identify a Picasso of any of his styles), and so much more, do you think my daughter has one iota of respect for me? No she does not. That’s another reason.

When I was 19 somebody asked me, “But don’t you want to get married?” I said, “If I’m gonna get married, it will have to be 1) some autistic guy and 2) someone who is gone a lot.” By autistic, I meant somebody who would leave me alone and be incapable, and disinterested, in figuring out what I’m up to, as long as I’m fairly discrete. At 33, I decided I really wanted to have a child, so should find someone to marry, and none of the guys I’d been hanging with would think of having a child with anything but horror, and would have gotten pissed at me even bringing the matter up. And don’t give me this nonsense about how single motherhood is the way to go.

Then I met Malvin, appropriately named as it turned out (bad wine, get it?), a jazz musician (flute and sax) who had a steady job as a bureaucrat at Welfareland. At 45 he wanted to finally settle down, and get this, beyond his stupid bureaucrat job, he gigged at least three times a week! That fulfilled criterion number two, and Mal’s mood variations were nil, any intuitive powers lacking, which fulfilled criterion number one. Therefore, I decided I’d get a baby out of him.

I wasn’t in love with him, in fact often disliked him and thought his musical ability mediocre at best, but he fulfilled the necessary criteria, wanted to buy a house and set up for inner ring suburban normalcy, and it seemed like a decent plan. He had fairly cool friends. And that being “in love” business had never worked out so well. I’d been doing little but working 60 hours a week at an economic analysis papermill, churning out fake statistics, making largely clueless predictions on growth (always growth must be predicted) of various manufacturing endeavors while editing everyone else’s analyses to conform with my boss’s very exacting ideas of proper sentence form for economic bullshit—he would freak out if someone had written “above” or “below” 4.2, for instance—and it was becoming intolerable. In my defense, my boss was driving me insane.

Once married and in a little house on a street nearby where every little house is one of two models, with superficial variations, things were not working out as planned. I really dreaded sex with the guy—I’ve rarely slept with anyone else so bad at it—but managed to do it enough to get pregnant. Once married he became intensely Jewish, and his family was awful. His father was all right, a retired pharmacist who gardened a lot, but his mother was a coddled, greedy testament to supremist egotism. This was the type of Jewish family where the matriarch is in charge and worshipped. She had really bad taste in furnishings, and all the family members had to go over there for dinner every Friday and eat her awful briskets and dried out chicken breasts with this gooey icky orange sauce baked on top and ooh and ahh about how good it all was. They all spent ridiculous amounts of money on ugly clothes, tacky jewelry, luxury cars, etc, and the mother had a sister who had married a man who had eventually established a local savings and loan, a real Horatio Alger story, as they told it, so I also had to deal with these stinking rich relatives who snubbed me when I was obliged to go to their mitzvahs and weddings and funerals. They all seethed over my refusal to convert, but I finally got the Rabbi off my back by telling him that if I went through the process I’d be lying, and he wouldn’t want that in his temple, now would he? Mal’s sister, a stereotypical Jewish princess, once told me that her mother cried when she saw my Christmas tree in the window. In their neighborhood, the only tree decorated at Christmastime was in a back yard.

Once married, I could not say anything that Mal thought was right. Everything I said was suspect and rejected, and I would get so galled when some yahoo would come over the house and say the same thing I’d said, and then Mal would immediately take it to be true. I love to cook food of all kinds, and if I took the trouble to make something that took some time and attention for dinner, he would say “I could eat this once a month,” implying that I was supposed to fill out a plan of meals each month like a high school cafeteria. I’d hoped that as the years went on, I would “grow to love him,” as the old wisdom of arranged marriages puts it, but it seemed that my fate was going in the opposite direction. Finally I stopped cooking altogether, forcing him to take me and baby daughter out to dinner every evening. To be fair, that did show that he had some sense of moral responsibility: he could have left us to starve. I’d quit my economic analysis job and had little income of my own, just this stupid little freelance job writing real estate ads. Mal had grudgingly consented to me quitting the economic papermill when I promised everything I bought for Leah and me would be second-hand, so we could live mostly on his income. I couldn’t see the point of farming my child out to some day care; I love the little ones, and wanted to spend my days with her, so eventually I took other kids in too for cheap, thereby expanding my personal spending money.

In this situation of constantly having all my views ignored or denounced, I started getting very depressed; suicidal thoughts returned with a vengeance, and I decided that given my responsibility to my daughter, I should really finally go see a professional to work out this little depression problem. I refused to go to a psychiatrist, but would allow myself to be analyzed, Jungian style. I heard by word of mouth that Diane was pretty good, so I started seeing her once a week. I figured it wouldn’t take more than a year.

Analysis was hard on me. In the first session, I told Diane I don’t feel things very much, that I’m not an emotional person. I held onto that idea for a while even though, when talking about my childhood issues I would start sobbing and run to the bathroom to get over myself, which at first would usually take up most of my session time. Eventually I could manage to make it through most of the sessions without total meltdown. Diane started telling me she could make no further progress unless I’d submit to seeing a psychiatrist and getting on an anti-depressant.

I resisted. Since the age of 20, I knew my depressions were no trifling matter, but also saw some people go to psychiatrists who never had a life after that, and I wanted a life. I would demand it at all costs. However, Mal had an old friend named Rosemarie, a retired school counselor who was at the time president of the local Jungian Society. Part of her obligation therein was to put out a monthly little rag to send off to members, and she suggested I could help by writing a review of Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. I did that, giving it a fairly thumbs up assessment but ending with my opinion that treating depression as a positive experience was really dangerous and cruel. At my local bookstore, Care of the Soul was right next to Listening to Prozac, so I read that too, and decided to see a psychiatrist after all. Besides jumping off the bridge, that was my biggest mistake ever.


Once when Leah was 14 she called me into the living room to watch a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman called Anywhere but Here. It’s the tale of a very wild mother who drags her daughter to Hollywood and causes the poor little girl all manner of embarrassment and hardship. After the movie was over Leah’s heavy silence filled the room. I knew what she was thinking: ‘Don’t you see how I feel, poor me?’

‘As if,’ I thought. ‘As if it’s all my fault. What have I done that’s anything like that movie? OK, putting you through that marriage to Bob the total asshole was pretty bad, but didn’t I kick him out pretty quickly? Haven’t I tried to give you everything you want, kept the bills paid, worked my ass off, bought you stupid things you don’t need, made nice healthy dinners, packed you lunches even when I lack the time, driven you all over the fucking place when you should be walking? Your unhappiness is not my problem. I can’t help who I am, not altogether anyway, and if you think some 14-year-old spoiled brat is going to make me feel bad about myself and sorry for her just because I am bipolar and not June Cleaver, then fuck off.’

But of course, like a broken woman with her leg caught in a noose with no apparent help coming, I did feel trapped into feeling very guilty and very sorry for her. How could I have inflicted that drunken carpenter on her? Like my sociopathic sister said, he wasn’t even good looking and he had no money.

It is true that it is hard to deal with a mother who gets really depressed and sits on the couch staring into space dumbly a lot, and who gets up at three am and wakes her up shrieking because Mommy’s having another panic attack, freaking whenever she has forgotten to do something, no matter how minor—always predicting disaster. I have endured really low depressions for years at a time, and whether the meds were affecting my synapses or my history affecting my predictive powers, I had to get up very early so the panic could subside enough to carry on in practical life.

When my daughter was 14 she made me promise I would not kill myself, never ever no matter what, and I held to that for five years that felt like forever. Nobody’s perfect, but she sure comes down hard on me if I make the least mistake. Like once when she was 15 I slapped her because she had been a horrid bitch for months, demanding that I drive her here and there, clogging up the bathroom with her one hour makeup and hair preparations just to go to the convenience store, all that stupid stuff which I abided to the best of my ability. (After all, if she was displeased with me she could run to her father and complain of abuse and/or neglect, and then it would be back to court. She had me over a barrel.) She would give nothing but sullen one-word answers to friendly questions.

Finally I could not take the attitude. I slapped her and yelled, “Who are you and what have you done to my daughter!?” That woke her up and helped her see how she’d been treating me. I did not even slap her that hard. Then she regressed, going on and on for years about how abusive I am; no doubt one of her stupid therapists told her to think that way. For that one little slap? My God, my father used to knock me to the ground, and I never much minded. You just get back up.

I knew why she was being such a bitch. She had a crush on a pretty boy who played with her head, teasing her into trying while always rejecting her advances; and her father, after his second botched marriage to a woman who was terrible to her—an unbelievably nasty woman—bought a house next door to that boy. But she never thought that was abusive. And when she was 16 she moved in with her dad for good and hardly ever even called for years. Why? The stated reason was that he bought her a car and said she could not use it to come to my house, but I think it was much more than that. She did submit to going to the movies and out to dinner with me once in a while.

When I was in the hospital and she was 19, she came to visit me once. She asked me what had happened and I told her the truth, so she walked right out. When I was in the nursing home she visited me once, for ten minutes. So she attended to me for about 15 minutes, max, all that time, and she considers herself devoted, generous, and victimized. Everything she writes is about my mental illness and abusiveness, really nasty stuff, and I forgive her everything, while she forgives me nothing. Everything wrong with her life is entirely my fault, and she keeps telling me I need to go back to the psychiatrists and will not believe me when I say the drugs make me worse. She thinks I need to see a therapist and I say, “Well, it makes no sense to hire a friend; isn’t that oxymoronic?” She doesn’t believe that either. Her father has been sending her to a therapist since she was five, and she thinks it’s a great idea to just unload all your shit on some idiot who considers you a specimen and source of income; it is so healing.

When I was going through that custody battle my ex (actually I’ve got two legal exes) told the court social worker I had never been able to be a caregiver. But Leah’s therapist had told me that Mal had told her that I was the perfect mother until my breakdown. So I called that therapist and asked if she would please let the court know what he had said, and she screamed and screamed that she was not going to get involved in the court situation, no way. All I was asking her to do was utter one God damned sentence, and she chewed me out. But I am unreasonable and sick and she is noble and well. Those in the mental “health” field never take responsibility for their actions.

OK, for now I will shut up about mental health “professionals.” I will tell you about all the people I have loved who have killed themselves, most all while under psychiatric care. In my crowd it’s “the thing to do.”

First there was this guy, Bob. In my high school years my father made me go to the country club once in a while though I preferred the beach—I hate rich people generally, and have always believed that even highly polluted water is healthier than the chlorinated kind—but Bob was an exception, and not even that rich, and made going there tolerable. He had two brothers who were tall, handsome, and lawyers, while Bob was short, crossed-eyed, and always fucked up on some drug or another. Once he nearly drowned because he fell asleep at the dinner table and collapsed his face into the soup. He would take me places and then forget where he’d parked his car, and we’d spend hours searching for it. He shot himself in his wretched apartment in the Ashtabula harbor district when he was 25.

I’m pretty sure my high school boyfriend, such a vain ass, killed himself because he’d stalked me for decades and suddenly it stopped. For I can’t remember how many God damned years I’d have to change my phone number to get rid of him incessantly calling me, then he’d call my mother and he’d wheedle it out of her, no matter how many times I told her not to. She always adored Tom and thought I should have married him. It didn’t matter to her that I told her he was a compulsive liar and had spent much of his adult life in psych wards. Or maybe he got run over by a bus or something. I must say I was somewhat flattered, but once he pierced my ego by saying he stalked all his ex-girlfriends.

In college I had a terrible crush on this dashing flush-faced Anglo guy who fell into a psychotic episode at the end of each semester, so never completed a course. Being the son of a dean, this was permitted. My friend David had a crush on him too, and we’d take turns babysitting him when he was out of the psych ward. He wrote really alive poetry, banged away manically on the piano, took me on adventures that involved the whimsies of the gods of wind and such, played pinball and pool with me, but he would not ball me. I don’t know why. He balled just about everybody else. David thought he was afraid of me, but in any case, he married a delicately beautiful artist from India. She took care of him for twenty years, had three children by him, put up with all manner of abuse, from flagrant infidelity to beating her up, and finally couldn’t take it anymore and kicked him out. So he killed himself by overdosing on his psychotropic meds. It took him two weeks to die, lying in a hospital bed as his innards hardened.

My first psychiatrist, the only one with any real compassion, reputedly the “regional expert on depression,” shot himself. His name was Dr. Podlipski. He was so respected that when the hospital I visited him at went smokeless, he got away with disregarding this policy, and kept a rack of interesting pipes on his desk for the patients to examine, and would let me bum cigarettes from him. He gave me this and that drug and after a year of sharp, rapid ups and downs, I said, “I can’t take these anymore,” and he said, “I don’t blame you.” He started telling me that the neuroscientists only know the function of a few neurotransmitters, while there are thousands, and the profession really has no idea what they’re doing to people’s brains.

So I stopped the psychiatry, but a year later my Jungian analyst, who had talked me into seeing a psychiatrist in the first place, said I must try another one. She referred me to Dr. Sawyer, who overdosed me on Prozac with four times the tested dose. This put me into a three month highly euphoric mania where I thought I was so smart as I destroyed my life. It only ended on my 40th birthday party, when a man tried to choke me to death for no apparent reason. He punched me really hard in the eye, which the doctors said I nearly lost, and then threw me down and started choking me. And I do have collaboration on the fact that there was no provocation. I was merely sitting quietly talking to this other guy, and if he hadn’t saved me and taken me from there I’d be long gone.
The one that choked me was just the sort of guy you can imagine has cloven hooves, the kind I am fascinated by when at my worst. I had rented his downstairs apartment and was sleeping in his bed upstairs, and I think he did not want me anymore in his nefarious business, his bed, his apartment, or anywhere but under the soil. The party was in that apartment: about 30 people I knew came, and we danced, confided, and laughed into the wee hours. None of them could figure out I had gone berserk, strangely enough. About half of them had PhDs; about half were barflies and folks on mental disability: my kind of crowd.

Right after that jolting experience my mood nosedived within 24 hours, and just then the custody battle began, and my lawyer told me I needed to show the courts I was under psychiatric care. My analyst finally told me that Dr. Sawyer was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and he said my case was too complicated for him. So I went back to Dr. Podlipski and he was looking even worse than me, ashen faced and sucked dry, yet working at four facilities. I suggested he slow it down and he said, “I cannot leave my patients to those idiot psychiatrists.” A month later he shot himself.

My friend Alois killed himself about a year before that. He had gotten into some mad frenzies. He’d decided he was in love with me, after being my pal for 15 years, and then he got obsessed with hermaphrodites, and then, of all things, with guns. At that time he was married for the fourth time to a woman named Kate, and one day he went up to her and said, “Watch this,” and he fired his gun at the ceiling. “Like a proper cowboy!” he enthused. Alois was from Germany and was trying to be a true Amerikan.

Kate had been keeping him on the meds, which was stupid because they always made him manic. Alois was normally a very gentle guy, with a kind of scrunched up face and droll whine, a meat cutter and translater by trades and devoted to Goethe. He was my best friend for many years. We’d never become lovers because when he first met me I was sitting down. We talked for a while, getting some strange heat going, but then I stood up and he decided “too tall.” All of my height is in the legs. One of the last times I talked to him he called me up to say he’d figured out how to make The Lord’s Prayer work for him with just one word change, and I said, “Alois, I just cannot take it anymore” and hung up on him. I rue that move, always.

Kate got her MA and started teaching at CSU. She was a real mess. She’d gained a great deal of weight and made this weird whining, wheezing sound, probably unconsciously. I hadn’t seen her for some years because when Alois discharged that bullet she left him. One day on campus she told me that the doctors had pulled her off of Prozac because she had a heart condition. That’s not wise, at all. She fell into a deep pit. “Why did I do that?” she sobbed. “Alois was the only man I’ve ever loved, and he wouldn’t have shot me.” I said hindsight is 20/20. Then she said, “I’ve got a catch of drugs; I’ve been saving them up.” I pleaded for her not to do that, that she had a granddaughter to think of, but a few days later she overdosed on her heart medication in a library study carrel.

Finally, there was Dennis, whom I was very close to for, oh, seven years. He died the same year I jumped, 2012. I first met Dennis in a support group I’d created—no health care professionals allowed—and thought, ‘What is up with this one?’ He was speaking very formally, and I thought, ‘Is he gay, or just highly repressed?’ A few days after I first met him I saw him on campus. It turned out he was teaching psychology. The first time he tried to kill himself his spouse, Ron, caught him on the rope in the nick of time. The second time he didn’t. I’d been dreading this. Dennis was 62 when he killed himself and had been going through severe anxiety and depressions for his entire adult life. He’d told me once that a psychology professor said that at a certain point, after too many cycles, people just give up. Dennis wouldn’t take my word that those pills were toxic. In his last severe depression I would call him up to see how he was, and he’d always sigh, pause, and then say, “Not so good, but I just had my medications adjusted.”

When I first met Dennis I was back on the meds again. Stupid—you don’t have to tell me. But I’d gone into my second mania and I was terrified of the crash downward. I tried working with a homeopath, who got me off the mania within two days, but could do nothing about the depression, which was digging in deep.


So once again: why did I jump off the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge? Certainly it was in part from the loss of those friends and the hysteria that followed each one, feeling I had no discernable path but the one they’d cleared, but it was more than that. Maybe it was because I’d tried everything—dietary changes, those horrible psych meds, homeopathy, naturopathy, Chinese medicine, Jungian analysis, group therapy sessions, and nothing made a dent, so I was disgusted and drinking a lot, a whole lot. Certainly it was severe psychic pain, with an inability to feel any pleasure or even a few moments of composure to help me deal with it, and this had gone on for years. But perhaps I could even have endured that and plodded on so that I wouldn’t disturb anyone’s delusional sense of reality but mine, which is generally considered the real delusion. But I figured my daughter was old enough to take it, and she hated me anyway, and why persist when I could give her my house and car?

Part of it, though, was the understanding that “mental health Experts” are actually sadists—although likely mostly unconscious of the fact—and that even when you beg for succor from those friends and family who actually love you (or at least honestly try to), they will demand you go to these Experts of the psyche for help, feeling totally inadequate to help you themselves. And they will say they will not deal with you until you do.

When in enough desperation you do take their best advice and begin seeking the expertise of these secular high priests, the Experts will hardly help you; instead, in the name of therapy, they will take over your brain like you cannot believe (that is, unless you’ve been through their dire processing yourself). As your mental state deteriorates, they will offer you hope (the next med cocktail will do it for you, there’s a new drug just out that is enormously promising) and shame (you must be drinking or smoking marijuana or even worse, you need to get a handle on your sleep habits, you need to go on disability for your own good). If you start to lose too much weight because you are too anxious to eat, or gain weight as an effect of the drugs (and all do have such effects or even more horrendous ones; just read the labels), they will send you to a doctor to counsel you on diet, as if doctors know crap about that—and come to think of it, psychiatrists went to medical school too, so why don’t they just tell you in their 200 bucks per 15 minute sessions? They will tell you that they are practicing an art, although eventually, if you go to the support groups, you will find that everyone is being given the same newest, most promising, most expensive drug.

So this is not so much an art but a science experiment, and you are one of their lab rats. The FDA requires tests before drugs are released to the psychiatrists. These are a total joke, for more reasons than the fact that they can and do throw the more damning results in the trash, but you are among the real test subjects; and if you fall deeper and deeper into abjectness, the psychiatrists can just say that that is the natural progression of the disease. Poor baby, you, I feel so much empathy, they’ll say—the scientifically remote version, anyway—for your stupid pain. In the meantime, all the experts make a lot of money.

You would think that these MDs would have some degree of common sense in doling out the meds. After all, they do, it is claimed, know something of science; they took all those courses and passed all those exams, anyway. They must realize that their wonder drugs have a very powerful effect, so what do they think is going to happen if they switch you from one to another on a monthly basis? Each drug hits the nervous system in a different way, so is the brain going to find any stasis in which to heal? But somehow they cannot see how this could possibly have a deleterious effect on the patient. Everyone knows, or should know, that any drug has its toxic as well as beneficial side; every label says that they can create the same symptoms they are supposed to treat. But the psychiatrists seem entirely ignorant to this fact, save poor Dr. Podlipski.

What keeps these psychiatrists in such a state of ignorance? Well, first of all, there is money to be made, but not nearly enough, given the high cost of medical school, monetarily and in terms of the intense competition of getting and staying in, and the punishing piles of information to be tested upon, and the grueling residencies. When all those years of punishment are over, who can blame anyone for not wanting to cash in on the rewards? Enchanted by the promise of luxury autos, clothing, homes, and fine dining, the logical (or at least societally-endorsed sane) response is to push forward, get the goods, and ignore all the patients who go into disability and persist in agony, and even though some may jump off some bridge or use the rope method or shoot themselves in the head or overdose on their meds, this is, after all, the natural progression. And those patients were not compliant and so ignorant, while you’ve read piles of peer-reviewed journals and worked very hard, pushing yourself to your very limits. Also, the fact is, some people actually do get better, or at least stop bugging you, so they must have found relief, even success, in your tender care, huh?

And it’s not like the money is so great, not like the plastic surgeons who make scads more inserting silicon into breasts and lifting baggy eyelids and sucking fat out of women’s butts. It’s not like you make nearly as much as neurosurgeons or heart specialists. True, you were hardly the pick of the litter, but what is so wrong with getting a little break by accepting the pharmaceutical manufacturers’ offers of free educational trips to Hawaii to learn from the best? Isn’t that a good thing? And if you feel a little squeamish about taking some good bucks for presenting a given script about a new psychotropic to a seminar of your peers—the script written by the manufacturer—well, if you don’t do it, somebody else will.

That’s exactly the thinking of every crack dealer I’ve ever talked to. They all figure that if they don’t do it, somebody else will, so what the hell. Whatever else may be true, I’ve known enough psychiatrists to realize that they are nothing but glorified drug dealers, and not at all different at heart than GE, Dick Cheney, and the Pentagon: doling out death and suffering for their comfort and pleasure.

The psychiatrists will tell you they are better than the drug dealers who hang around schoolyards getting the kiddies hooked on mostly marijuana, but occasionally crack and heroin. After all, the psychiatrists will exclaim, we are better than the drug dealers, and the proof is that those types can be incarcerated whether or not they kill anyone. Those dealers in illegal drugs are doing something actually illegal, the psychiatrists argue, while we are licensed and bona fide, even if we do kill many. We are only here to help, the psychiatrists say, while those other drug dealers don’t care about those who buy their drugs, while we REALLY do, so much. The illegal drug dealers only have customers at best, or should we call them victims for profit; we are dealing with “patients.” That word changes everything.

Only it doesn’t, at all. The psychiatrists are increasingly widening their diagnoses, so they are giving pre-schoolers very heavy drugs, arguably much more dangerous ones than those the illegal drug dealers tempt middle-schoolers with. Despite their protestations, psychiatrists are at least as heartless as most hitmen. I wish all our doctors would be forced to take years of hard-core poetry training, and only be admitted into med school if they can write a poem to make one’s heart break, and have actually been entranced by a prostitute of whatever sex. Just because, as we all know, our culture is a relentless whorehouse. If you’re going to prepare to be a slut for the pharmaceutical pimps, the manufacturers’ reps that is, learn the trade from the mistresses and masters.

Nothing awakens a person to the evils of capitalism like having your psychic pain be made into a cash cow for the psychiatric profession. In the case of the psych patient, no discernable crime has been committed and the illness considered perhaps more to be pitied than despised, at least in public conversation; you are not to be punished, but aided, and the general consensus is that reliable treatments have been developed and all is well, but as one of the diagnosed as having a “serious disorder,” and having been close to many of the treated, I just don’t see it. Some suggest that the successfully dosed are in the majority—70 percent is the statistic they made up—and are productive citizens indiscernible from the general population, happily and without mishap swallowing their reliable, safe meds, and are not noticed because they do not go to therapy groups and have been normalized. Somehow I find that suspect. In my experience, none who have gone through the treatment regime have gotten out unscorched, few are “productive,” and many are dead.

Those of us, my friends and I who have been screwed by the mental health professionals, are hardly alone in the larger situation of a world run by bean counters. We can include those imprisoned for a victimless crime, like merely selling a bit of pot for the rent money and some cool shoes, but there the punishment is overt and few will say more than “do the crime, do the time.” People lose their jobs and their houses, but those are just assumed by the general public to be losers. People wander the streets homeless, but they are deemed the necessary downside in a great society which, admittedly, does let a few fall through the cracks. Nothing’s perfect, after all.

The bean counters are all drunk off their asses with lust and dreaming up ways to pile it in that should be absolutely shocking to the average citizen, but apparently most are not. The reason for the behavior of the very rich is obvious: they have simplified the process of producing food and other necessities to a degree that they have a nation of mouths to feed but little need for them, and obligation is something that only the quasi-moral masses have any sense of. There’s plenty of crap to sell in a consumer society, but it is just not enough.

So what to do with a huge population that is largely unnecessary? They can become profitable items themselves! In the medical field this has become increasingly obvious, even to some of those average citizens as they lose their homes over a botched operation. In incarceration, much can be made on the poor by convincing the general public that they must pay for their safety through building more prisons, making more things illegal, and extending sentences. In schooling, the employment of more “specialists” are required to help the students, and all those kids need computers to prepare them for the 21st century, although the Internet will have to be filtered severely—this will cost even more from the public dime. As employment opportunities, decent or otherwise, dwindle, college becomes necessary for all if they hope to compete and not become those despicable “takers,” and as higher ed is getting more expensive all the time, both those higher institutions and the banks benefit. After all, the children are counselled that this is the surest path, and not doing so would caste them into poverty fer sure. I could think of more examples, but you get the idea.

The flip side of this message of fear being put forth is that being safe is the most important thing, while being daring is to be stomped out by all means. Play the game, keep your head down, work until you drop, and do not look at the man behind the curtain. Meanwhile, Hollywood tempts us all with daring feats and extreme sexual endeavors, but this is necessary to trap some into trying such stuff out, and then they can become profitable to the medical, correctional, legal, and military industrial complexes. You may call those movies catharsis, but that theory has been disproven.

The world outside my bruised brain appeared to be as hideous as the happenings inside. Even if the sun was shining, the birds chirping, the leaves glistening, it made no impact except for me to recall that this kind of day used to make me joyful. Every morning I woke up at three or four; there was no use in just lying there, because no more sleep would be possible, and I’d just dwell on my dark thoughts. So I’d go downstairs and read the students’ papers or check out the on-line news or reread the assigned readings of the day, and look up anything I wasn’t so sure of so I could answer any questions a student might ask—highly unlikely, but not impossible. These are not exactly the most cheerful activities. Perhaps in those wee hours I’ll have a panic attack or two over something stupid. Then at the last minute, I’d take a shower, find something half-presentable to wear, and go teach.

The college administrators were not all that hot on me, not since the administrators had gotten clearance to read everyone’s electronic communications. The students liked me well enough, because it was in the classroom where my enthusiasm peeked out—nobody would have guessed what I was like outside of there—but the classes I was assigned kept folding so I was teaching less and less, and none of those administrators were giving me a break for long-term service. I had no idea what to do next, what sort of work I was cut out for. The economy had crashed and the job market was flooded, and a burnt-out, bipolar, bedraggled slut in her 50s was not much in demand.


So those were a few reasons I jumped. Why haven’t I done it again, getting it right this time? After all, my life has not improved—I’ve got ridiculous medical bills and am currently ousted from teaching. The bean counters and legally endorsed killers are still at it, actually getting more and more unabashed. Maybe the residual effects of all those awful pills have finally worn off. Maybe my hormones have shifted around somehow in my post-menopausal years, or maybe the gods have decided to be kind for a while.

I guess one reason I haven’t duplicated the act of jumping off the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge is something someone recently said to me: there’s always more. There are always more people to be charmed by, always more things that can make me laugh really hard, always something to surprise me in a delightful way. Sometimes I haven’t been able to find any for years on end, sometimes it seems like everybody I love either despises me or ends their own life, sometimes I think I am a poisonous creature, possibly possessed. However, I doubt it. A brat surely, but that’s pretty much par for the course with my privileged upbringing, and I’m still working on it.

Patience is key. Being charmed, being able to see beauty and feel pleasure, finding myself in a situation where I can attempt to do anything for love—it is always possible that those things will return if I am patient enough, the anhedonism will give me a break, if I will once again put my hand out with palm up and open to the next person who draws me in and knows a bit about what I’m all about—well, that makes staying on the bridge worthwhile.

Like just about anyone who is paying any attention, I am horrified by people generally, not just the people who make the decisions to go to war for profit, to torture people, and convince people to love it here in the Homeland. I am also horrified by all those who buy their crap, literally and figuratively—those who will root wildly for killers in military regalia at football games, who will not question why we must continue giving all our money to the Pentagon, who will not think there is any other way to live than as slaves for the robber barons, who just won’t listen to reason and won’t accept that history has anything to do with it, so know absolutely none. Why should they, after all?—here be happiness, to be an Amerikan. I am as horrified by the people who buy into this obvious bullshit as by those who dole it out. But the fact is, I thought like them too as I lay shivering in my bed as a child, deeply terrified of the dark and the monsters: that happiness is to be a comfortably ensconced Amerikan. So I would pray to God, I know this to be true, so why am I so unhappy? Knowing this was confusion based on endless lies gives me a certain amount of despair, that’s true, but there is some hope that if even I can cut through some of the bullshit, enough other people might too that maybe the world could be less devastatingly horrid.

Ach, the psychiatrists, the professors, the analysts, the allopaths, the Experts—my contempt and anger spews out to them all, but I have decided to go with MLK’s line: if you hate, you can’t think straight. The real therapy, then, is only to deal with the hatred with the purpose of trying to clear it out of my head, heart, and marrow, and to try to relax a little and have some fun, because I am such a hedonist. And what better philosophy to have when living in a global madhouse? Because if you’re not walking around laughing at your own jokes, you just might not be able to take it.

Regarding the central heartbreak, maybe my daughter will never love me; or rather, she will always deeply resent loving me and hate me for it, and it will churn in her and give her all sorts of maladies: food obsessions, self-loathing, bad skin, irritable bowel, headaches, clueless decisions, etc, and I will continue to feel guilty. And maybe she’ll decide I’m crazy to tell her to keep off the Prozac, and I’ll have to watch her suffer; or worse, to be a good candidate for that pill and become libidinously numb, numb to both others’ suffering and her own joy, as so many of its devotees are.

Maybe, though, she’ll realize that I did my best, given severe limitations, and that it is no longer my responsibility to try to satisfy her desires. I’ve done my duty. Maybe she’ll take on the mantle of self-direction and outpace my bathetic attempts at wisdom by the time she’s thirty. That possibility is tantalizing enough to keep myself alive as long as possible, within reason. After all, there is always the chance for forgiveness and resolution, even with my daughter. If I jump off that bridge again, I’ll probably never know.

I said somewhere above that jumping off the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge was my biggest mistake ever, but let me contradict myself. If you haven’t gotten the message yet, I am a foolish creature, and doing so woke me up a little. By my own misgauging, I was given another chance. And by the way, the name of that bridge was changed to the Hope Memorial Bridge in the 1980s, but nobody here in Cleveland actually calls it that.

See also her "Teaching Torture in the Homeland."



Anonymous said...

Hi, Elizabeth. Wow. I really don't know what to say other than thank you so much for sharing your story. I will re-read it again later. There's so much there. My best, Caroline.

Gary Slabaugh said...

Hey Liz. Whoa!! That was quite the airing out of linen. I'm going to "go out on a limb here" [sorry, bad pun ;-) ] and accept that this process of journaling is cleansing. Call it naive or foolish, I just want to believe that it's doing your soul some good.
FWIW, I don't consider suicide much of an option because of my religious thing with death. You know… being baptized into the death of Christ, being crucified with Christ, already being dead and my life being hid in God with Christ, putting off the old man - dead with sin - and putting on the new life of Christ. Weird that… all that power yet allowing a bloody torturous death to have a temporary triumph. That's sort of my religious take on how the physical life of the body (and the physical derivatives of the body). That much of the insanity and inanity of "life" isn't worth much anyway. It's a harder thing to be attached to the bullshit social mores and ego-centricity and social alienation/isolation and the contemptuous anger with the way things are (hello global capitalism) and the persona just going along to get along and the life of the flesh and this veil of tears/suffering than to spiritually and philosophically and religiously detach from the world.
Also FWIW, being philosophic (even though the great cosmological physicist Stephen Hawking says "philosophy is dead"... which is comforting in a weird way) about how fucked up this world is comforting too. I guess comfort is antithetical to anhedonism, but it's the best I can do. This article has helped me through the years. Maybe it will give you some ideas to bounce around for your next essay… the wisdom of dysthymia… or some such comforting topic.
You are a very good writer. Better than that, you are a great experiencer of the absurdities associated with the meaning of life and death issues. Best of all, you can relate to the very real struggle to cope with the mystery of death and the greater mystery… that of love. Maybe love IS patient and is in harmony with anti-suicidal behavior… as you write: "Patience is key. Being charmed, being able to see beauty and feel pleasure, finding myself in a situation where I can attempt to do anything for love—it is always possible that those things will return if I am patient enough, the anhedonism will give me a break, if I will once again put my hand out with palm up and open to the next person who draws me in and knows a bit about what I’m all about—well, that makes staying on the bridge worthwhile." FWIW, knowing you (even if you and I are both toxic to a depth and degree) makes me want to know you better… even if we are talking from the edge of that Hopium bridge.

Chuck Olroski said...

Elizabeth: Have never read anything like this before! Like anonymous "Caroline" said above, I must return to the article for more.

First off, being a "Bible Thumper," I was thumped when you described having jumped and "fell into a dead tree and bounced off." All my life I have spent quiet time pondering the "Tree of Life," and here you bounced off a dead one and lived to enlighten me.

In the late-1970s, a mystical Byzantine priest and I got on the topic of suicide. Sympathetically, the priest said, "People in deep despair, with all their hearts and minds, do so desire to 'get out' of THIS existence, but not knowing there's another."

Later or tomorrow, I will go to Taylor Library and have your article printed, my copy machine's out of ink. (Note: To break intensity a bit, I have a fascinating book at home called "How We Die," by Sherwin B. Nuland." Once I gave it to my wife's girlfriend (Sylvia) who I did not know was awaiting results from a biopsy, lump on her breast. When wife Carol found out I gave the book to Sylvia, she wanted to throw me out our 2nd floor window! There's no trees below our apartment, Elizabeth)

Thank you Linh for bringing Elizabeth into my life. !

Elizabeth said...

Gary, Caroline, Chuck: Thank you so much! I absolutely love you people!

Linh confirms my conviction that there is no test that can measure capacity. By ordinary thinking, this should have been a really hard essay to pull off, but it wasn't--I did it in six days, on schedule, not even knowing at the onset most of the whys, let alone how to offer anything of value. I had you folk at my side, and that made all the difference. Linh has been continually saying to me that I must rid myself of my conceits, and this was my first real effort. It was actually fun, weirdly enough, given the topic.

Linh is an amazing teacher. So Linh, I bow down and suck each of your dirty toes, one by one. I lick your arch clean. What else do you want, you fucker?

Cindy Shirar said...

Linh, I second Chuck's sentiment: THANK YOU for bringing Elizabeth into my life.

My God, Elizabeth...! Finally, someone I can deeply relate to regarding deep, unrelenting depression and slogging through it, feeling hopeless--but forced to march through a living death and hell, with panics, grayness and joy so seldom to be found; knowing there's no real help, and the "experts" are sadists at best. Born and raised Catholic, though, and with four children all still in their tender years...the luxury of checking out was not really an option...not really.

During a very "dark night of the soul," however, I did try to end it all while in my early 20's by downing most of a bottle of Crown Royal and slitting my wrists. This was while I was overseas, serving active duty in the Air Force during the Bosnian war. This was while on Prozac, funnily enough, too. Found by dorm mates, face down in my own blood and vomit, I was rushed to an Italian hospital where I was derided by my treating Air Force psychologist for "breaching" some B.S. "non-suicide compact" I'd eye-rollingly signed a couple weeks earlier. Totally humiliated, my entire squadron was told to keep an eye on me, my parents were informed (and horrified) back in the states, and I was returned to duty, wrists still bandaged, three days later. Misery.

I haven't really talked about this before, but your story gave me the *something* to put it down. Maybe it is cleansing. Reading your story made me feel a lot less horrified and humiliated.

How do you keep going? I used to drink, but it made the depression so much worse, and I had to be functional to handle the kids who deserve better. My oldest, 17 year-old, son reminds me a bit of your daughter...gave him everything. I guess I never expected him to be grateful, but there are days I feel so guilty when I am the target of his contempt at how my divorce from his father "destroyed him." *Sighing* I tried to to the best I could, too. Trying not to botch it with my three little ones, now...but even they know Mommy has her bad days...and I hate it. I love them so desperately much, I wish I could be 100%.

Well, Elizabeth, what can I say? Sorry for throwing part of my life story in here...LOL! helped. Reading Linh's fascinating work, and yours, helps me survive. Thank you.

With fondness,

Cindy Shirar

Elizabeth said...

Hi Cindy!

That was so great what you wrote, and thank you so much! I have never written about it--how it actually feels--until recently because years ago, while on the meds, I was guest blogging on a bipolar site and got sick of reading people's revolting, unending 'poor me' diatribes. I hope nobody feels sorry for me by reading my article. I'm not looking for pity; it always seems to have a lot of contempt underneath it. I'm just trying to get some awareness going.

Trying to kill yourself while on Prozac, and having the military punish you for it! You should definitely write your whole story down--I would love to read it. People are such assholes when it comes to dealing with people's psychic pain. They think you should be able to just snap out of it, stop being such a jerk, and don't want to hear your problems while they'll whine on and on about their stupid frustrations. I swear, they'd kill us if they could, and this fascist nation will probably get around to that too.

Have you tried long walks and St. John's Wort? Somebody recently suggested Holy Basil, so I've started taking that, and it seems to be helping. Watching silly stuff helps. There's a great psychologist named Bruce E. Levine who has the right attitude. His writing about how psychologists are trained is frightening. Check out his blog. He's a rare one.

A young man of my acquaintance recently wrote to me about his wish to off himself. I keep writing him about why he shouldn't, but he won't answer my emails, so I'm worried sick. He's on the meds and doesn't want to hear that that is a very bad idea. A brilliant guy, a GREAT teacher, and the university booted him out for telling some little rude girl the truth in an email. What he actually did, inadvertantly and innocently, was reveal the stupidity and hypocrisy of his superiors. I may be bitter, but even so, I wouldn't suggest anyone go to a university anymore unless they're pretty sure they can get a decent job at the end that would actually be helpful to others. John Taylor Gatto is my teaching hero--his philosophy of life is incredibly healing. He's got a blog too.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Cindy,

Your story is so heartbreaking.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Linh Dinh. I'm a friend of Elizabeth's. We've known each other since I first started posting on Common Dreams in September 2013.I think it is wonderful that you and she are friends, and I appreciate your site. I live in southeastern B.C. Canada, where we are experiencing forest fires and drought at present. I could send you some 'postcards from the end of the world' from around here! All the best, Caroline.
ps the only way I can get this to post is by saying I'm 'anonymous'.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Caroline,

A while back, I started a feature called Readers' Postcards, and though I got two excellent contributions from Cindy Shirar (of Irving, TX) and Justin (of Chicago), no one else sent anything in. I'd love to have you participate in this. Please click on link above to see the questions, then answer them. You can be as expansive or terse with any of the questions, and if you want to focus on the forest fires and drought in your area, please do so. Thanks!

Oh, and please send you responses and photos to my email address, .

A couple of months ago, I wrote a Silicon Valley Postcard that talked quite a bit about the drought emergency in California.


Linh Dinh said...

Hey, everybody! Over at Smirking Chimp, Chuck Orloski has a new piece, "Ran$acked at Dorney Park"!

Anonymous said...

That was one of the most moving things I've ever read, and certainly the most honest. A good beginning for a book.People are often depressed because life in the US is depressing, it isn't your fault.

Anonymous said...

There is an amount of resentment towards the, so called, mental health establishment. And the inconsistency and apparent ineptitude of the, so-called, treatment, is called in to question by the author. And the reader can read into this and judge that this relationship exacerbated her problems. Right?

This is a normal reaction for people dealing with the health establishment. Well, its not normal, per se, but its becoming more frequent as a complaint and it affects the outcome of the treatment.

Part of the problem I identify is that we are mistaken about what the health care professionals are expected to be able to do about our problems. We are going in search of a cure, when there often is not a clear answer (We are organisms, not unicellular). It seems as if a propaganda of sorts has really distorted the view with respect to the abilities of doctors and the medical novelties of the time.

A good friend of mine who is in the midst of medical school (and who has the most keen observations due to her non-establishment status so that she just does not automatically lap up the bullshit they dole out [she came from art school! why did they let her in to an elite med school??]), has come to realize that doctors are not there to cure you of anything. . . Rather, the doctors are there to identify and prevent something that will cause imminent death. In this respect, they have no capacity or necessity to eliminate ailments. This is for two reasons: (1) there is not enough time. (2) the understanding of the body is limited. And the result is that they can, at best, simply alleviate symptoms.

Now, I also think that the public is entirely in the dark as to what the medical world is actually able to understand. First of all, there is little science in medicine (as a scientist, I am appalled by what people ascribe the term 'science' to). Medicine is a set of best practices that have been empirically (read statistically) derived (in fact this is true of most of what people believe to be science. This covers the entire realm of biology and extends to parts of geology). It is a rare case that there is a clear understanding of the precise mechanisms of disease. As such, human beings have created a modern perspective of treating the symptoms by and large. The only real cure for any problem is to cut the offending corpuscle out of the body. Too drunk? Who wants a liverectomy? Got high blood pressure? Lets bleed you!

As I have found throughout my life: expecting what you wont be getting leaves you regretting and upsetting.

So remember, doctors are not there to treat you. Just to keep you alive.


x larry said...

hi elizabeth,
i've been chewing on this for hours after reading it. i think much will come back to me so i may write another day on it as i'm in a bit of a beer fog right this moment.
i'd like to at least say something, though.
like the others, i thought this was brilliantly written. there are so many sentiments you expressed so well. what comes to mind right now is the priestly caste, the doctors and shrinks and the rest.
many things you wrote made me shudder. a crazy privileged white girl indeed! you're always the ones with the absolute wackiest experiences. blond hair, probably blue eyes, tall, presumably enough of a looker--and it's off to the races! but what's underneath? may i say holy shit--a lot! for a while reading there i kept wanting to jump out of my chair and say 'no!' and 'don't say that!', this being mainly in regards to your daughter. then, in the end and after at least some reflection i thought, fuck, i might be right in the same, or similar, shoes in a dozen or so years, and need to really try to come clean with my boys. then again, boys' problems and girls' are so different. then i have to say i thought 'you bitch', and i know you won't mind this (i hope). then your stuff on malvin and his fam is f'n outrageous! i do mean bril. i knew a middle aged jewish jazz guy, i won't say where. gave me the creepy crawlies.
i'd love to try to calmly put down just how f'd up the world is (not just america), but you did a most excellent job of it.
all the best to you.
ps i too have had very bad depressions lasting years, and had a similar reaction to one you had when my brother once told me he got depressed for the first time in his life for like a day a few years back

x larry said...

why o why must male/female relations be so?
why are we such a tragi-comic species? (or at least whitey is)
we go about things so wrong, so terribly wrong
we do so much unseen damage, then we move on.
when we feel for someone, we can't say it.
horrors no!
why must all be pain?
why does insincerity always win the day?
then we're alone, deeply depressed, suicidal.
hate, disdain, contempt, self loathing fill our lives.
we try to say what we feel, we're ridiculous,
we're just meat.
we're MAD!

x larry said...

above, 'meat' as in the other's always ready to pounce. vicious!
oh, the people i wanted to tell i loved them. i have done it, just once or twice, no no no, it only works if you're a bad ass, a dickhead, cold, cool, and collected. but then what was it you really felt? perhaps a longing for your mother's love? (not you--me)
childhood's indeed all--then what?
well, i do ramble, apologies

x larry said...

above 'collected' as in manipulative, calculating, being a couple of steps ahead. and for what? i remember montaigne who said, we live once, this short life, why do we lie?

Elizabeth said...

Anonymous the scientist: thanks for the little lesson. Interesting. It's just a tad problematic to transfer medical thinking about, say, a liver to "mental health," because where is the organ of consciousness? The brain, it is assumed, but I am skeptical that that is entirely true. So was Dr. Podlipski, who taught at medical school. As Chomsky recently said to the Pope, we really have no idea what consciousness is. And the idea you seem to have that unrealistic expectations produced undesirable outcomes (is that what you meant?), thus placing the problem on the patient--well, I don't know what to say, except the psychiatrists would certainly jump to agree.

xlarry: fer sure! Thanks for the compliments. I love that you responded with "don't say that" and "you bitch." and then go on to the fact that we cannot tell each other what we really feel. Funny, in much the same way that I hope my article is. My parenting was hobbled by the looming courts. I would not have raised her that way, at all, otherwise. Like I said, she had me over a barrel; hopefully your parenting will go more smoothly.

Anonymous said...


Well, that is one of the points : (the idea you seem to have that unrealistic expectations produced undesirable outcomes (is that what you meant?), thus placing the problem on the patient--well, I don't know what to say, except the psychiatrists would certainly jump to agree. )

But the psychiatrists would (should) be remiss to agree. Because they should believe that they can cure you.

I was also just saying in general that we have to be careful about what we let doctors do to us. . . Especially in regards to mental health.

And the liver analogy is not completely lost, since the only proven treatment for many serious and debilitating mental health issues is lobotomy!! HOW UNFORTUNATE!!

For sure we dont know what the consciousness is, but we have (and always have had) a sneaking suspicion that it resides in the brain or at least is connected in part to the brain.

But here is something for you to chew on (and this is wild conjecturing, merely a thought experiment I have started many years ago and never finished and never will):

Lets start by assuming that consciousness is coincident with a collection of living cells. Even one celled organisms are assumed to be 'conscious' in this definition. So then lets go back to the days when we all were unicellular. Apparently, someone became dualcellular and then we started eating the unicellular guys and then someone got fat and was tricellular and then off to the horse races . . . Soon we have multicellular creatures. However, they are not yet organisms. Rather, they are a peculiar simple life form called "colony-organisms" (which still exist!) but are not organisms in the sense that they do not have discrete organs (cells dedicated to certain functions). But some biologists also suggest that unicellular life could be considered an organism as it seems as if the mitochondria used to be their own distinct cell, due to the presence of a unique mitochondrial rna, and then became assimilated into the cell and exist to perform one function. That is, the basis of the organism is the containment of specialist cells that are sympathetic to one another. We happen to be huge organisms with a liver and kidney and such that are made of millions of these specialist cells. On their own, you could consider these organs to be colony organisms .. .

Now since the single-cell has a consciousness, and the colony organism has a consciousness, then why dont the organs in our bodies have their own consciousness.

This might explain why some chronically American humans feel the call to eat so strongly and they describe this phenomena as if they are slaves to the stomach. I put it to you then that this a conscious decision made by the stomach, not by the 'person'.

So we are a collective of conscious cells dont you see?

And how can mental illness be treated if we just take chemicals that fuck with the head?

Its a total system. And this says nothing about the probable universal consciousness that we exist within.

Such a mysterious world! Such an inaccessible world!

There lies the danger of scientific inquiry into the biological domain. The perplexity and quantity of interacting variables requires a level of profundity that we cannot ever reach.

We are stabbing in the dark. I think we would be better off with pure philosophical exploration of mental health ideas than screwing around with chemicals. The same thing is happening in agriculture right now too, with the farmers trying to GMO the way out of problems that have simple solutions that you can arrive at by thinking and planning.

Although, some (many) will beg to differ and cite all sorts of life altering treatments . . .

Anyway, Good luck. I hope you reach and maintain a level of comfort.


Anonymous said...

Hey all,

one last thing I was thinking about:

There is so much resentment about the medical establishment especially with regards to what they are charging us.

And I will be the first to agree that healthcare and the stuffs of medecine (pills, bandages, scissors, iodine, etc) are way too expensive.

The doctors aren't doing this out of greed necessarily though, I dont think (I HOPE!). Rather, they have fallen into a system that has a tradition of racketeering.

They can charge what they like because people will pay it because they think they need treatment and that they will die! Its almost extortion.

This has been going on for so long that its unfair to blame the contemporaries.

What we need to do is to stay away from the doctors more and own up to our own problems and educate ourselves on physiology and learn how to self medicate and regulate. Then we can reduce the reliance on a parasitic practice.

I think its already starting to happen. Just look at the smear stories you can find in the NYT and such about holistic medicine and naturapathy. . .Doctors are scared of that stuff because they know that if people take interest in understanding their bodies then they will realize that they know nearly as much as the doctors!

Stay healthy everyone!


Chuck Olroski said...

I am not the Pope, but if Chomsky were to condescend and ask me "What is consciousness?", I'd have to answer Noam in the negative/opposite -- and define "unconsciousness" by using the example (late-1970s) when I was totally out of my mind on hash, homemade wine, and beer. Also, I used to really wonder about Timothy Leary's view that L.S.D. could expand consciousness, but I skipped that course, and went to college instead.

The people with whom I am am most concerned about is those who think they have the "kernel of truth" in their hand. The greatest believers and atheists know better than to assert anything much more than attesting that there's little certainty except there's life, sometimes maturation, and death processes.

Finally, Elizabeth, the Pope might have reasonably answered Chomsky were the question, "Wwhat is life?" The Catholic Church teaches "Jesus Christ is the Life," and Pope might have made such point. I don't know though. Wish all well!

Anonymous said...

Only a great artist could take so much pain and mold it into something like this. I salute you.

Anonymous said...

Chuck O

Yeah, what is unconsciousness? In that case, did you become as a rock? Or do rocks have consciousness too?!

Who knows. . ..


Chuck Olroski said...

Dear Anonymous: Uh "unconsciousness"? You got me! I don't know what is "unconsciousness," because I don't recall anything after awakening from such a comparable state. I am a Rock because I worked hard & long, listened to the Simon & Garfunkel, and sunk so low, have no island to hold onto.

Also, the Gospel interestingly speaks something about "rocks would speak," but speaking scientifically, I never met a "Rock" that spoke unless somehow "consciousness" can be attributed to some rock-headed bosses I've known.

Take it easy here? I respect science very much, and I actually keep Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted World" on my nightstand. What's more, I try to be a true blue "Bible Thumper" and have one close-by too, for contingencies, emergencies.

So by the way, Anonymous, I really admire science, & the art of naming things, so what's your name? No doubt you have one -- but "Who knows?" Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, what a great read. I feel much empathy for you and a kinship based on outlook in this f***ed up world...

I don't want to presume, but I've been thinking along similar lines when you talk about feeling alienated from the dominant, perverse culture that we live in. How is any truly conscious person supposed to enjoy life in the states? We are directed to see ourselves as the source of our happiness or misery, yet live in a society that more and more appears to be a prison colony or worse. Choose your role: prisoner or guard. And if you choose guard, you better be ready to f%^& some people up or you simply won't get ahead. Don't think too hard about it; it's "unprofessional"...

Again, sorry if this is presumptuous, but perhaps the stability you've found comes from your willingness now to point out that the world is a highly inhospitable place and for reasons that are nearly opposite to the acceptable narrative. On the other hand, maybe you've always been fearless, outspoken. The socialist in me wants so badly to believe that the confronting and exposing of the evil powers (fascists) in our world (neighborhood) will bring happiness to so many people, even those who are not so specifically aware of what's going on. Could that be the magic that heals souls and changes the world simultaneously? Maybe many of the depressed, anxious, bipolar, schizophrenic, or otherwise mentally afflicted people are simply too conscientious and sensitive to thrive in 'murica or other fascist lands?

In any event, thanks for sharing. :)


Chuck Olroski said...

Brandon: Thanks for your meaningful comments.

I for one believe "souls" get healed on an individual basis before entire nation/world do.

I believe socialist confrontation of evil is good, but having read Orwell's "Animal Farm," I am often concerned about whose going to confront victorious & empowered socialists.

Simultaneously, for 22-years, I chose to be both a prisoner and a guard for companies, thought I had a "career," but was greatly self-deceived; only Owners have "careers."

I think "magic" things often happen to people everyday, but any interior change starts inside oneself, and it either sustains, goes well; or deteriorates, goes not well. Being good & bad is typically a rotating human process, and sometimes good & bad people's actions (fruits?) impress others to do the same.

Finally, there's a considerable majority of people who reside in my hometown (Taylor Borough)who are "enjoying" life. I am very financially fucked & frequently brood, Brandon, but Taylor Borough has definitely not reached our Master's desired level, "Haves, have Nots."

For one actual example, tonight, I attended a Wake, up on Union Street. I met a guy who I attended Byzantine Catholic Catechism with during early-1960s-1968. He retired at 50 years old, had knee surgery, has perfect teeth, and he's driving a white BMW convertible, & planned to go to an Old Forge pizza joint to play "bocce ball" with elderly Italians.

Was very glad that "Mike" did not ask how I was "doing," because frankly, I was on way to pick-up wife Carol's R.A. medication, buy her Marlboro's,, and put $2.00 gas in my Suzuki 250. My point is that America is still a nation of quite enduring stratified income levels, but I believe our Master's Business Plan is ripe & ready to change that situation soon. To best confront this shit, one must gain both physical & interior strength. American Life shall get more intensely competitive, ^ survival chances increased for those who profess "I'm #1!" and they too get fucked.

Thank you for sharing, Brandon.

x larry said...

many excellent comments here.
may i just say, i'm an american living in brighton, england, and have been (finally) having a good time lately, after four plus years of much misery, mostly personal. anyway, today was a pretty great day. nice people in our forest group for the kids, then went to the 'unemployment centre', where my wife went to a free music class while i 'felted' with my four year old and 15 month old--a map of the world, about four by six feet, with load of contributors, trying to be somewhat realistic (my son couldn't do white in southern china, but only in greenland and other snowy places) but with mostly open creative license (i did the great lakes realistically in blue as i grew up in michigan). very interesting place, this center, which we've gone to for all our four years in brighton. i meet more and more people that feel as i do. this is a good place, and good for the kids too i think, to see people 'with warts'. shit, i'm starting to warm to england! (???--for anyone who has read and remembers most of my comments)
we're walking home and my wife says she forgot, there was a protest going on at the town hall against the austerity measures voted in today by parliament, do i want to go? fuck yes! oh! we go, it was so great, so energizing, just how i felt at occupy for about two weeks back in '11 (even saw a guy from that era in my life). there was a choir group singing mostly original radical songs, all great, as well as the 'internationale' and the most memorable 'bella ciao' with a few lines altered to fit the time and place. i would like to give a sense of it, give the words to the songs. i'll give a couple--perhaps they're on youtube. 'be reasonable', by robb johnson (who sang it): 'we'll rehouse the homeless in buckingham palace/ start at the bottom, work down to the top/ stop the city, rebuild the forest/ cancel the rent, & nick all the cops/ BE REASONABLE AND DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE NOW
we'll turn all the motorways into canals/ close all the aldermastons down/ all differences equal, systems for people/ not the other way round/ BE REASONABLE...
we'll spring all the animals and vote for the clowns in the circus bourgeoisie/ where the rich sing the blues till their trousers fall down/ and then give you the price of a nice cup of tea/ BE REASONABLE...

x larry said...

grow gardens and hospitals on every street/ sunflowers, playgrounds and schools/ where you do what you like 'cos you like what you do/ we'll stop the war once and for all!/ BE REASONABLE...
no master, no landlord, no flag, no guru/ no gauleiter, no commissar/ just justice and poetry with jam on it too/ when they ask 'who's in charge here?'/ we all say, WE ARE!/ BE REASONABLE AND DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE NOW X2'

then there was 'tory toffs', with the chorus
tory, tory cuts no thanks, sir
george and david love the ban-kers
we think they're a load of (...) Tory Toffs
no ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts

(whoever may not know, a 'toff' is a public school, priveledged type--ie who always and forever robs, er runs, the country--but this is heavily ingrained here in england. also, aldermaston is a town in berkshire where they manufacture trident missiles, and gauleiters were party heads of regional branches of the nazi party)

there were about six great speakers. one thing that one guy said and at least three others repeated was, if the law becomes too unbearable and f'd up, Break It! (my paraphrase) many said that 'we all know' that austerity's b.s.
i'm not conveying this too well, but i want to show something of the awakening happening here and the possible great solidarity and heavy shit that could very well (hopefully) go down in the near future. some talked of general strikes--aparently about four big unions plus other groups coordinated a tube strike in london at six pm tonight, the same time as our protest, to last 24 hours, to give the fuckers a little taste. but they talked general strikes--i've seen them do this several times since coming here. now----we MUST get to this level as a bare minimum in america! it was very inspiring, but so was occupy for about two weeks, then it was wrecked by (no doubt) provocateurs getting drunk, fighting etc.
i ramble, and can't remember where i started.
the scientific anonymous, i was put off by your first comment, but liked at least some of the later ones. interesting enough theory. have you read 'magical child'? one thing i remember from it is the author's theory that we move from very concrete in our thinking (infancy) to completely abstract (old age). a very interesting book, with much i didn't understand, and much of it to do with the power of the mind, as well as pondering what the mind actually is. that and 'the continuum concept' are my favorite childrearing books--ok, they're all i've read, but they're more than enough idea wise, for the most part.
(and thanks elizabeth!--phew)

Elizabeth said...

Leo: Interesting thoughts on organisms. Maybe consciousness should be considered more like a smell. I mean, all parts of us have smells, right? different ones all over the place. So our consciousness could be the synthesis of all those smells, or something analogous to a musical tone. Who knows? It's no crazier than the humoral theory. But come to think of it, it is pretty fucking nuts. Sorry.

I've been thinking about homeopathy a lot. I consulted with this great homeopath, Doug Falkner, for a while, and know some people who have been greatly helped by him. He said, though, that for some people, the right remedy has yet to be found. Interesting science--I studied the Materia Medica in a class he taught, and got really into it. People get annoyed because the remedies should never, ever work. This guy got an MD so people would take his practice seriously--an unfortunate waste of time because homeopathy takes much time and concentration to get really good at. He now has a school out in Portland and does consultations over the phone for the out-of-town.

The first remedy made me feel better, mentally and physically, than I'd ever thought possible. But it only lasted a month and then, with each subsequent remedy, one per month for about a year, I got symptoms of a different sort of malady: for instance, on one I got a really bad rash and cried a lot, then on the next that problem was replaced by this strange headache concentrated on one point on my brow and a sinking feeling, and on and on. So either those remedies were doing something with their nonexistent active ingredients (only the spirit remains!) or my body was having a creative time with the nocebo effects.

I believe that we overemphasize the neurology in the case of mental illness. Ethan Watters wrote a fascinating book on the how mental illnesses differ widely according to the culture. It's called Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche. The US is actually creating mental illnesses with our media and psychiatric teachings. They had trouble pushing anti-depressants in Japan because there depression is highly respected. In China, women started getting anorexia American style--ie they thought they were fat--whereas previous to the influx of Amerikan culture, they would realize they were hideous as they wasted away. I don't have it handy to quote from, but he pointed out that schizophrenics do much better in Africa without meds. It seems to be a matter of the religious beliefs there. Everybody figures it's a possession, and anyone could get possessed with a spirit, so there's no shame in it. Understanding the phenomenon thus, they just leave the possessed one alone, not expecting normal behavior or functionality. Then when the spirit has left--they do tend to waft in and out--that person can go back to work and all is fine. It's not hard to see why that would be a healthier environment for recovery.

Patricia said...

Hello friends,
Interestingly, I just ran across a timely article on New Eastern Outlook website (unknown to me previously), quoting a statement by editor-in-chief of The Lancet Richard Horton:
“Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
First appeared:
You can find the full statement here:


Chuck Olroski said...


As Big Money and it's Power has successfully corrupted most disciplines and Institutions that I'm aware of, I agree (to some verifiable degree) with your quote above, that "science has taken a turn toward darkness." However, trying to be a little bit more objective, I will provide the following quote from Carl Sagan's interesting book, "The Demon-Haunted World;" 1996.

"Science is more than a body of knowledge; it's a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children or grandchildren's time -- when the U.S.A. is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are IN THE HANDS OF THE VERY FEW, and no one representing the public interest an even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good AND WHAT's TRUE, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and DARKNESS."

Although the noble discipline does play a role today, it's hard for me to entirely lay blame on "science" for endemic mass stupidity, ignorance.

To Larry: Am very sorry about having failed to answer your important questions about the Lyndon LaRouche movement, asked a few Blog posts ago. Actually, the research & paper I did on LaRouche, while an under-grad at the U. Of Scranton, was far from thorough. "Unscientific," I just offered the most basic information I had at hand, and wrote in order to fulfill the Poli-Sci course requirement. Regret that I have no clue as to how far Mr. LaRouche traced the British Crown' darkness into history.

Thank you, I meant no offense by not making a timely reply, I am very fucked-up with, come August, trying to "legally" get law-abiding revenue into my family economy!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth :

I don't think you are far off with your smells theory. I like that very much.
Another part of the theories that I have been working on is similar to this in terms of its mechanics.

Here's something more to chew on:
The origin of consciousness, though intangible, has to do with the fundamentals of matter, which is an essential vibration. This is what science has described and experimentally verified (not concerning consciousness, just the fundamental aspect of matter).
And its not a new idea. The ancients arrived there by practical thinking.

So then consciousness is formed from the harmony of vibrations. Like a tone! It is the resonance peak of a system that is subject to the white noise of chaos.

And then I found out that the ancients knew this also. The swami who reached nirvana (the state of universal unification) saw that this is the fundamental state of everything and oneself.

A good family friend clued me in that this is what the swamis learned through their methods. And he, himself a swami, asked me at length about what physics claims and was very delighted to learn that both
the 'scientific' view and this super-practiced spiritual study (that is essentially a science in its methodology and practice and goals) jibe so well together.

So your idea about the smells is essentially the same thing. Its not nuts. Scent has an analogous principle, where each scent is populating a certain part of the energy spectrum.

Then, your adventures in homeopathy sound interesting. Definitely it does take a lot of time and experimentation. Your side effects (or whatever you want to call them) are interesting and also weird.
Did your doctor connection offer any reasons why the effectiveness did not last long? I am curious about that.

And your spot on that our cultural perceptions of what mental illness are is big part of the problem. America is a vicious circle of condemnation. But, in general, human beings are great at creating problems by definition.
Its funny how we don't necessarily know or notice things or that they are exacerbated by the definitions that we learn. For instance, I didn't have heart burn until I sat down to really understand what it is and the symptom is.
And for me too, it goes as far as "mental illness" Experiencing depression for a few years now (sometimes mild, sometimes bad, sometimes gone) and not really knowing what was going on until talking with those sort of experienced sad folks. It was like a feeling of confusion, actually, a feeling of unease that I was somehow different or not sure if I was or not.

Good luck, Elizabeth. Its been nice thinking about all this 'far out' stuff and is filling a void as I do not have friends that are interested in the esoteric state of life in this part of the world.



Anonymous said...


Yes, that was a big deal when such a big deal dude said that stuff. And he's kind of right. Science and technology is lost. Even the best intentioned scholars and scientists are prone to errors, oversights, and misrepresentation.
Part of the problem is the pressure of the market model that is infiltrating and perverting 'pure' science.
Someone said further up this chainmail that we are being run into the ground by the bean counters. Well they are especially responsible for ruining science.
The last great wave of technological breakthroughs came from mostly one lab: Bell Labs was run by the Bell corporation and created the modern world (enabled in part by the work of Tesla). And they were able to do this and make real discoveries because there was no oversight. There was a true spirit of scientific discovery at Bell Labs.
The company dumped massive amounts of money in and expected nothing in particular in return. They did this out of faith that these brilliant and inspired people WOULD make something out of it and thus they didn't meddle around.
Then the bean-counters came along and decided that they needed to be "efficient" and needed "investment targeted to returns" and messed the whole thing up. As a consequence, industrial laboratories and the scientists they had got pushed out to the academic research labs.
But now the bean-counting culture is hammering there too. The mantra of today is: New creations are made to solve problems.
The old philosophy was: New creations are made to create new problems.

Out of new problems comes new methods and ideas.

Unfortunately, the only source that still will fund nearly any idea that seems even remotely (im)possible and (un)usefull is the DOD. And then again, they are mostly interested in the D in DOD. But I have seen them pay for some far-out stuff.


Anonymous said...


Maybe you didn't read that far down, but I signed off as "Leo" every time. I dont use the blogger handle cause google always screws up and loses the post when I try to post under that ID.

Anyway, because these discussions are enjoyable, I will address your thoughts too, though I've never read the Gospel and thus can't comment on that.
I can, however, and love to, wildly conjecture.

The talking rocks sound great. Sounds plausible. Some say they've heard them speak. And those earthquakes? California, are you in the house?!

But all kidding aside, I was being serious when I asked if rocks have consciousness because I assume that they do have a certain type of it. It might just not be what we can interact with because they have a massive wavelength and time constant.

And your thoughts on big money, I tried to get to that in response to Patricia. And I agree that we can't blame "science and technology" for the endemic mass stupidity.
There is a famous bumper sticker that once said "there is no cure for stupidity."
And science isn't going to solve that problem. But I just heard some interesting stuff that the Chinese are working on GMO homo sapiens!
Probably the DOD already has that going on though. We aren't about to lose out to no Confucius mofo!

Science maybe hasn't taken a turn to darkness, but its definitely not moving anywhere. Like I said, before, where are the discoveries? We have had nothing transcendent since the transistor in 1948.
All they are churning out is variations on forms and ideas that have been around for fifty or sixty years or even longer and they make us believe that its new and exciting and moving human society forward.
Every year we get a new phone with new features, but its just a repackaging of things we already had.

Change is not going to come via the market needs. True innovation can only come through free exploration and, essentially, play. Science has been too far removed from Art.

One of the self-perpetuating effects of the current state of affairs is that the science and technology field attracts a certain type of person who is interested in solving problems as opposed to creating problems, who is interested in making as opposed to creating, who is interested in probability as opposed to possibility, who is interested in analyzing as opposed to thinking.

So where are we headed? I dont know. But I dont believe that Sagan is correct. We might be heading to a superstitious, ignorant darkness, but it will definitely not include a technocracy. The "ruling class" has already discovered the benefit of keeping the masses supplied (distracted) with gadgets.

But already, no one has a clue what is going on and cannot knowledgeably question those in authority.

Just curious, but how much does this worry you? I mean, how much time do you spend thinking about the role of technology in our lives?

Anonymous said...


X Larry

Sorry that you where put off by my first comment, but I still stand by it. People expect the wrong things from doctors and that hurts them. Remember, its all your fault!

As for the occupy thing, I didn't participate because I'm over the river and through the woods. But I saw and heard a lot. And they had a moment there, but it failed.
For sure there was trouble makers there that gave pretext to the police pressure and crackdowns.

However, I think there was some other fundamental problems with the architecture (or lack of architecture) of the occupy philosophy.

The best way to explain my thoughts is to use an analogy:
The occupy thing was like a depression in the ground that was formed by the geological forces of neo-liberalism. This depression got deep and some people started to fall into it. Then more people started to trickle in
and then it started raining elsewhere and folks got wet and flooded in. So all this water collected there and built up a big lake out of a little puddle.
And water has tremendous force (see hurricane katrina, fuckishima-daichi-number-one-though-six, et al.). But it has to move. If water doesn't move, it evaporates in the hot sun.
And occupy didn't move, by definition and by practice. It evaporated as was the natural tendency of a stagnation. Unfortunately, it also went through a swamp phase that has damaged the reputation and the popular perception of social people power movements.

Being from the country: the attitude there, the rural people, the common clay, was of absolute disdain. They viewed it, and maybe rightly so, as a bunch of yuppie trustafarians screwing around. And BlackAmerica laughed at the whitefolks and they didnt participate because they got real problems to face. And the Latinos?

My critique boils down to one element: The occupy thing was missing a rebel rouser, someone to make wakes.

What we need is an Abbie Hoffman! Up the Yippies!

And to all: Keep up the good work.
Signing out: LEO

Chuck Olroski said...

Leo: Very frankly, & verifiable, I have not mastered technology very well. In fact my two sons must show me how to work my Tracphone features, capabilities! Wife Carol handles problems with our GE TV. To answer your excellent question about "the role of technology in our lives," I am pretty content that I do not have much dependency upon technology. But I must admit that I'd miss the internet if it's suddenly taken away from me, either by lack of money to pay, or by D.O.D. seizure.

None of my business, but you mentioned to Larry (above) the need for a new Abbie Hoffman. Of course he was famous for publicly "throwing the Finger," especially at Establishment conservatives. Given our sick techno-times, & in order to gain popular attention, Abbie would have to stick a finger up either his or someone's arse, and afterward "tweet" his soiled middle appendage everywhere.

Regret having missed your actual name, Leo, and thank you.

Anonymous said...


Modern TVs are the pits. I dont own one because they cost too much money. When I go over to a friends house and try to turn on the TV I just screw everything up and get the remote taken away like I'm a little child.

Plus, get this: There is no free TV in Quebec anymore! That's right, the airwaves are silent!

Probably the only reason radio is still on is because they haven't figured out how to beam in some encrypted garbage to your car. Just wait though, its coming soon.

Who wants to bet me ten bucks that there is a car produced within the next fifteen years that doesn't have a radio come stock. Its going to be a feature like power windows used to be.

That for sure would make it hard for Abbie to pull a pirate radio stunt. . .


x larry said...

hi leo,
thanks for writing. not much time to write now, but i can't agree with you about occupy--and no offense, but what people 'in the country' thought of it, despite thinking of themselves as 'salt of the earth', well.... i've known enough of these people, from michigan, colorado, i don't know, west virginia (?), not to give TOO much respect to their opining.
the main reason occupy failed, well there are two. one, infiltration by agents provocateurs, two, one nasty-ass police/military FORCE. they were very, very BRUTALLY EVICTED, after being tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, sound-tortured, water-cannoned (i believe this happened somewhere, not sure?). fbi houston leaked memos show they were literally planning to put snipers on rooftops and take out the leadership.
that said, it WAS, at its worst, a bit cockamamie. we had some strange texan who kept coming here to brighton uk--he bounced all around occupy, from texas to oakland to nyc to london, and was our great bringer of news among many other of his highly exceptional traits (i'm being ironic)--bragging of his prowess as some sort of jujitsu blackbelt/ special forces Bad Mutha F'r. but, in london, there were great speeches, lots of great people and ideas, a library, the university of ideas (i think it was called)--to me, all up the right alley. the crushing was a bit more 'gentle' here, but crushed it was! (despite the c of e high priest lamely 'praising' it--thanks, jesus.
as to blacks and latinos, i agree, but that's not to say there weren't ANY, at least not here. america is so full of racial hatred (black to white, very often, and justifiably perhaps, but hatred nonetheless) that it's hardly a surprise that those two hostile groups didn't join the mutually hated whitey for a love fest. to me that's not any argument for the inherent lameness of occupy. it was to me a step in the right direction, and one that would still be going very strong, much stronger, had it not been CRUSHED. but, the crushing is reality. people need to know in advance what big brother's goons are going to do, and be prepared to fight, regroup, etc.
thanks again

x larry said...

but here in the uk, squatting is a quite respectable thing to do. in america, if a group squatted somewhere some posse from the suburbs (or perhaps the urbs themselves) would violently crash the party.
so, squatting's respectable, and so is socialism. do people know that in the uk, besides having health care (which, true, is being privatized and will be destroyed if cameron has his way), there are 'benefits'--the dole (unemployment), housing benefit, child benefit? under cameron, they're taking all kinds of draconian measures, but the fact is that you won't 'slip through the cracks' so much here--sure, you'll be a wage slave like everyone else, but you'll have (damp) housing. not to sing the praises of the uk, because on the whole i always seem to get a negative impression.
anyway, occupy was started in the u.s., there are lots of great people trying to take the country back. they're perhaps doomed to failure because of the idiot masses, all made that way by great concerted effort since probably 1950 when the vast and very powerful socialist movement worldwide was rapidly dealt death blows---this was all stepped up in the 80s after the blip known as the sixties was finally able to be dealt with (get them EARLIER this time, leave no room for chance, tv's in every infant's bedroom!).

Anonymous said...


For sure it was stopped by the police. But they can't get a green light if vast public opinion is against them (see Civil Rights). They might beat down a few people but eventually the political and moral pressure will weight their hands. It wasn't as brutal a crackdown as you make it out to be. There was about zero deaths. And the fields of life, liberty, and the American way of dissidence are watered with blood. They (the political establishment) pretty much let it blow-over on its own accord.

And thus, the occupy thing doomed itself because it could not raise enough of, or retain, the favorable opinion of the "idiot masses" because it did not contain anyone or anything that they could identify with and root for. It was the propensity to attract the wierdo prepper type along with the hippie dippie type that caused the backfire like what happened to Walt Whitman's overture to the "ordinary American" essence.

And you cannot discount the country folks. We own most of the land and thus have power whereas the city people are owned.

Land is the essence of America.


x larry said...

agree about country people 'owning' all the land--i just very fundamentally disagree with land ownership. i think it is the fundamental problem. people should not have to pay someone 'rent'.
'city people are owned'. that may be true. it is a shameful statement. may the people rise up and throw it all over and even spill out into the countryside! and don't laugh, it's happened before and must again--i hope more permanently this time.

x larry said...

more for leo as i find his comments extremely offensive if utterly commonplace.
'land is the essence of america'. true--for the true 'owners' of the land, the indians. is stealing it ok, leo? is all the violence ok, leo? YOU, it seems, are the essence of what i despise about america--the heartless wasp. america's soul is irish, black, jewish, and a smattering of other races. it's LAWS, on the other hand, are pure wasp. wasps are all the same--we're the original 'settlers', and 'WE OWN THIS PLACE'. all of this disgusts me in every fiber of my being. i love an american indian writer's take. his name is vine deloria, and he says that diametrically opposed and with absolutely nothing in common are individualist and tribalist societies. guess which are the humane ones, leo, and which the heartless, brutal, violent and fascist? he also recalls tribal memory of an ancient, 'MEAN-SPIRITED' white race that was pushed far north and eventually (possibly) crossed not the bering straights but the other way, via greenland (or boat) to europe. they're still there (and here, and everywhere), and still utterly mean-spirited. the 'barbaric hoardes'--if you've read any history at all you'll be familiar with their pillages throughout europe and north africa--have not at all disappeared, they're just respectable businessmen now.
thanks dude, and please try your own spiritual home at the fox news blog (i assume there is one).

Linh Dinh said...

Hey, hey, hey, let's calm down here! We can disagree without becoming overly indignant. I know I often get overheated myself, but let's not make enemies here. We're all friends, seriously.

Anonymous said...

Linh Dinh

Yeah, thanks. Man, I dont watch that drivel and shivel on fox news or nothing.

And I'm not trying to start beef X-larry, honestly.

I'm just thinking critically and expansively. Don't think I wasn't hopeful for the occupy thing. Because I was. And when I saw it failing, it was also interesting, and not something to shy from. We need to recognize our own failings to evolve. If there has been anything I have ever learned it is to take a whole expansive view of the issue.

We are all human! Romanticizing the First Nations people isn't helpful to anyone and paints them into this quaint little box.

The unfortunate truth of it all is that human beings are a brutal and aweful species. But so are they all!

I remember still so distinctly watching a red tailed hawk pull the heads off of six baby bird in a nest to the consternation of the parents and the whole bird neighborhood. And I was thinking "Ah, well, the big bird has to eat too, such is life." And then that fucker flew away with only one bird in its clutches. I climbed up the tree and checked a week later and those five dead birds were still there decapitated. That's when I realized that every characterization of behavior (that goes for white-folks, black folks, first nations, beavers, cranes, spiders, whales, you-name-it) we are told is nonsense.

We are all guilty. That's why Jesus died for our sins and Buddha did his thing and there are all these other folks just like them who recognize the contradiction of a living existence.

Maybe the solution is to become as a rock.

Peace go with you.


x larry said...

linh and leo,
sorry, i was a bit overheated for sure and i will say out of line there. it's not my place. i mean no offense, except to offenders. however, i don't at all agree, once more, with much you say in your last post, leo. it's the 'brutal nature' argument i've heard so often. well, i don't feel brutal--some of my posts notwithstanding. how's that to be explained? i don't believe in jesus or sin either, or really even buddha for that matter--it's all mass religion and corrupt. i also don't agree with the 'we're all human' angle. yes, i do hope so, that we are all human. but this is always used as a propaganda tool--'we're brutal, but so are they, so if we hadn't gotten them first they'd have gotten us, so everything's fine'. it is not fine. none of it's fine. none of the system they've set up and we're forced to live under is fine. i agree, we're all human. so why the mentality of slaveowner (country)/ slave (city)? why don't we care about the indians? not lip service, care? what about the great south american revolutions, why don't we care for the greatly impoverished, our fellow humans? don't answer. everyone proclaims they care (except blatant capitalists, frat boys, etc--all the mean and narrow spirits, not to say that we all can't be mean and narrow at times). anyway, sorry to be so harsh before, again i was out of line--and i've just started drinking now, strangely enough.
all the best

Anonymous said...

X Larry

No worries. I like thinking. I like talking. I like arguing. I apologize too for coming across callously sometimes.

Yes, those are all good questions. I think about them all the time and can come up with different answers every day.

You know, for now its a plan of, just effect change wherever you can. Work like a ratchet: little steps forward and not a step back.



About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.