Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My hidden agenda is to make you think I have a hidden agenda.

Goddess knows it must seem like I'm wildly concerned with selling you stuff lately. Well, I kinda wish the explanation was the obvious - but obviously, if I were that good at selling shit people didn't really need to buy I would have no time to blog at all.

The point is far closer to this: that in order to do what I should to - blog - I have to pretend to myself that the whole point to it is to sell you crap you don't actually need, while at the same time, making crap that on some level is crap that you actually do need to see, and internalize as a message, whether or not you literally buy it, and indeed, whether or not it's even salable crap.

At this particular point in time, I'm actually drunk enough to say that out loud. I'm not going to actually hit post until I'm sober enough to ensure that veritas is enhanced by vino, but I'm honest enough to know that brutal self-honesty requires a little support from time to time.

That probably sounds like whining - but it's so very not. And therein lies the point.

I am first and foremost a visual thinker. On my best days, I am able to translate my visualizations into words fairly seamlessly. But some days, I need to indulge the thought that there is a "Hidden Agenda," and thereby explain why it is you should relate to the message and/or concept I've squeezed onto a product. In reality, the only thing I've ever needed to hide about my agenda is how badly I suck at hiding it.. :P

Drunk, sober or stoned; I'm afraid with me that what you see is what you get. It takes a great deal of ethanol to overcome my training to dissemble, to imply there is something unspecified and attractive hiding in the depths, to cater to your inexplicable neurotypical belief that every human motive is really cloaked in the the semblance of moral rectitude.

No, with me, the real deception has always been this - the learned practice of implying that there is a hidden, deeper motive to what it is that I do. In particular, I've learned that it's far more acceptable to have an apparently poorly concealed motive to make a relatively honest buck at your expense than to admit the fact that money itself is a damn poor motivator for me.

Understanding as I do that for most people, money IS important, and that it translates well to applause, I can start to ask for value for value fpr that which I do that I consider valuable.

But I will tell you something right now that I suspect strongly applies to all artistic personalities (or there would be no market for agents) - the idea of an artistic work of mine being inherently valuable is not just alien, it's frightening.

You see, like most children, I desperately wanted to do the things my parents did. And my father was an Irish traveling salesmen. No, wait, it gets better - he was a disabled, NORTHERN Irish traveling, RACIST salesman.

How did he get disabled? The official stories vary, from jumping off a load of plywood and landing the wrong way to far too many years driving a jeep too fast over dirt roads.

Me, I think he said the wrong thing to the wrong people thinking that he was safe saying it because of a similarity of skin color, or a common interest in other bigotries - and got the crap beat out of him. Goddess knows there were ten thousand times the thought occurred to me and in point of fact, I never actually met anyone who met him twice that looked forward to the third time.

Well, you might imagine how well emulating my father worked out for me. To give me credit, I never even tried to emulate his social skills. But, to underline my lack of clue - it never once occurred to me that social skills were what it took to sell things to people who could do without those things. Looking back my father was a salesman in the way I'm a writer and an artist, an intuitive genius.

...yeah, I know how that sounds. Bear with me for a moment, it's not the brag it you might think it is. And my point is that he could not "pass on his trade" any more than than I could.

In my experience, "genius" always involves a trade-off. Some brains, some people, some minds are just more specialized than others, and when they are digging into their best thing, they are of course seen as brilliant. Even if they can't manage basic hygiene, or figure out how to match their socks.

People, like my father and like myself, need to realize that they need other people who are neither blessed nor afflicted with that spark of genius - because whether it is a blessing or an affliction really is not largely up to us.

You see, I'm not neurotypical. Neither was my father. I'm a multiple personality and an autistic or if you prefer, an artist - and my father was, depending on what terms you prefer, a sociopath or a salesman.

People like me and my father are far more dependent than we would like to pretend on the quality and the advice of our enablers.

You know how I know that?

Let me introduce you to my mother.

And at this point, let me tell you something. I do "honor my mother and father." Like most folks do, they did the best they could with the tools at hand, according to the customs and assumptions of the day. Unfortunately for them, neither of them was the sort of person for which the customs and assumptions of the day would lead to good results for me. Both would have been better off as unmarried, child-free "free thinkers."

Neither of them could or would make that leap. And it does neither of them any honor at all to pretend they were any good at trying to be what they were not, or pretend that they should have tried in the first place, even though that trial resulted in Yours Truly.

I'd like to take credit for the moral fortitude of my own choices - but I'm afraid that like most folks and certainly my parents, the majority of my moral fortitude is revisionist hindsight; one part rebellion, two parts incapacity, three parts ex post facto rationalization of things that worked out well despite best parental advice.

You see, my mother was a photographer and an adventurer who's courage failed. I grew up being bored and unintentionally inspired by the photos she took while being a courageous free spirit in post-war Japan. But, she was female, and she thought that mattered more than her talents or muse.

But perhaps even more importantly was the fact that she was NOT a teacher. She was an adventurer, a free spirit, a "not teacher" born into a family of really amazingly good intuitive teachers. Alas, that is also a calling that far too many think of as a profession or a trade. In a sense, it's true. Many people can overcome a lack of native ability by training, in the same way that one may not be born to be a seal, but can learn to swim.

My mother was capable of teaching in exactly the same way that a cat is capable of swimming.

But ultimately, her family thought that becoming a teacher was a safer and more rational choice than exploring that which she actually was. I am, in large part, the product of her regrets, and that is which I honor. Had she followed her muse and her real nature, I doubt very much that I would have been born at all. She certainly would not have married my father. In all honesty, I suspect that her sexuality was as lesbian as it gets. Apparently even lesbians marry their daddies if they are forced to pick a man, just as men tend to marry their mommies, if the same applies.

You see, her father was a traveling salesman, who, having realized his mistake, rarely came home. What a rude shock it must have been, then, for my father to spend most of his marriage with her living on bile and disability. (Note illustration.)

You see, each of us are the sum of every bit of luck and every choice of every ancestor we have, unto the seventh generation. It is amazing to me how many people read the Bible religiously - as did my mother - and the more religiously they take it, the more wildly they miss the point.

In point of fact and experience, the Christian Bible, and in exactly the same way, the sacred texts of all other religious traditions, are the distilled common sense of those who learned the hard way, and you, as the reader, have to understand that in order to profit from it. For not only does it matter that these people "know better" than you do, it also matters WHY.

And for that matter, unless you have been in the anaougous shoes of the people who write scripture, it's not that easy to intuitively discern that "why" part.

Let me give you an example; "Saul of Taris." As much as we know about Saul, or as he was later known, Paul, most of what we should understand remains unspoken, in large part because Paul himself took it for granted.

Saul, you see, was a jew. But he was also a Roman Citizen and a tax collector. There are very few tax collectors who make even the slightest ripple in history, much less create large bodies of art, scripture or literature. In all probability, Saul of Tarsus was a tax collector even as was his father before him. The problem was, Saul was not born to be a tax collector; he had either a lack of the proper inclinations and skills, too much empathy, or somehow his sexuality (which many presume to be gay, though I'm only willing to go as far as "not ordinarily heterosexual") collided in some hideous and personally unresolvable way with his sense of self.

Been there, done that, MADE the T-Shirt!

Paul one of the most hideous and best recorded nervous breakdowns in all of history. Fortunately for him. Unfortunately for us, he spent the rest of his life trying to explain and or blame that breakdown as being the fault and/or responsibility of other people.

If prophets were perfect people, they'd never be foolish enough to be in that position in the first place.

The thing to learn from Paul is NOT what he thinks you should do - but rather to learn the things you should avoid in order to not suffer as Paul did. Paul himself did not understand that, even giving an extraordinarily sharp mind, so we may all forgive ourselves for being a little unclear on that point ourselves. Aside from that, as my entire life history attests, knowing what does NOT work is not a great deal of help in knowing what will work.

Save, of course, at times like this.

There are cusps and moments in history where everything is going to change and no common-sense assumption based on history or tradition (absent a full understanding of the reasons for making that rule of thumb in the first place ) will work. While human nature will guide the outcome in all cases, we as human beings seem to have little ability to understand our own nature or the governing needs and drives of others; most especially in the cases where the underlying, unstated and unconscious natures of other persons differ from our own.

Right now in these times, as Alvin Toffler's worst nightmares come true in our laps, wallets and personal lives, knowing what used to work is a somewhat useless thing. The only reliable guide is the ability to usefully extrapolate from a negative result, because the only thing that can be predicted as the rate of change goes vertical is that whatever works right now will probably not work tomorrow, with an increasingly short window of opportunity for any workable solution.

By preference and inclination, I'm a Conservative - but in practice and of necessity I've had to apply my conservatism to ideas and approaches that seem wildly radical to any person not so blessed as I with such a mixture of functional distinction and practical wisdom.

I don't think of myself as being therefore wiser than the average bear, nor do I "look down upon" most folks. But I am increasingly thinking of myself as a niche commodity with increasing application.

And thank you, my dear readers, for your support. :P

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