My wife shared with me a trait she attributes to my illness– that, particularly in art, when I start a kind of task or trend, I do the same or a similar thing over and over again many times.
I often defended this as “practicing”– or, as Brian Eno suggested in his Oblique Strategies cards, “Repetition Is A Form Of Change”.
That is my view.
To my wife, that kind of work ethic seems strenuous and extreme, and lacking in variety. She feels that it is my schizophrenia that prompts me to create in this fashion.
Perhaps an example of this would be my musical project, “Grid Resistor”. As Grid Resistor, I created over 26 hours of industrial drone textures in about 5 months. All sounds used in each piece were machine sounds that I had recorded. Each release was over 1 hour in length. The tracks had a naming convention, based on the date and point in the day that they were recorded. There was one release for each letter in the Greek Alphabet, and that letter was the release title.
A record label called the Grid Resistor project, “a window to an introspective and sterile world”.
Another example of this kind of creativity was when I used certain graphic processes to pixellate and otherwise manipulate photographs. I made hundreds of images, therefore, based on squares. This concerned my wife, who suggested that people had no need for so many works that were so similar.
All of this activity seemed perfectly normal to me. I am not sure how my friends on social media felt. The only phenomenon I noticed was that they tended to pay less attention if I did too much of the same thing.
What do you think? Good practice or twisted obsession?
Did I tell you about how I tried to explain that the voices I hear are real?
One mistake I made, when I did this, was that I quoted the Bible. When a schizophrenic person quotes the Bible, a lot of times that is a bad sign. People start to shake their heads, even walk away in disbelief.
The Bible mentions certain spiritual gifts, such as the abilities to perform miracles and to prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:8–10). If a miracle is possible, what isn’t? Additionally, many Biblical figures mention hearing the “voice of God”. Did they hear an audible voice? Was it a thought? Or were they just schizophrenic?
After all, the voices can be very uncanny, and their resemblance to the sounds and thoughts of people I know are so close as to often be convincing. How could this patter be something I made up? Is my mind that creative?
Humans sense more than we let on. I can tell when my wife is upset, and perceive others of her moods, fairly easily. And its more than just body language, by the way– there are things about a person’s presence that we experience without acknowledging. I would have to say they have to do with a spiritual reality.
If we can sense things as ephemeral as moods and emotions, who is to say that certain sensitives can’t hear thoughts, or voices, of others?
When I made an attempt to explain my theory with my psychiatrist (a very helpful and friendly woman), she immediately increased my daily dosage of Risperdal.
Looking back on many of my posts, and thinking about the world we live in today, a possible coping mechanism would be to institute a practice of “radical doubt”.
By this, I don’t mean a person should abandon all faith.
I think they should consider what they sense– and how to respond– before they believe in the authenticity of things. If they read an article in the paper, they need to ask who wrote it, and from what point of view. If they see an image, it is important that a person knows if they are getting a complete and accurate picture from it. Video footage, too– any media– can be doctored.
This comes from a paranoid schizophrenic, so you may choose to dismiss it. And that is fine, if you do, it’s your decision. But I do know that I apply a rigor to my own thoughts and impressions, and definitely filter what I take in– and disregard a great deal of it.
In my own experience, there really isn’t that much to know, of the things that a person can know at all.
To me, radical doubt makes a person mature. It differentiates a child from an adult. It is also what kids see in their parents that they fear or make fun of. Using radical doubt, though, isn’t really being a “stick in the mud”. A person can doubt many things and still believe in the important ones.
If there is any hope for this world, intelligent people need to question what they take in and establish their own realities. They then can react to the world’s changing and confusing stimuli effectively.
It’s a strange experience to see popular culture influencing politics. Some would say that Ronald Reagan pulled it off pretty well in the 1980’s, though I am not sure the extent to which he was mainly a figurehead for his cabinet and others.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was known both for being “The Terminator” and the Governor of California.
Donald Trump, I always thought, was a successful businessman, and quite a character, with his own reality show. He was a campy figure– showing up on the wrestling network, making crass comments, and so forth. A symbol, both of American success and its corruption.
Trump’s Presidency has further blurred the lines between reality and fiction for me. He tweets late at night, often impulsively. He hires and fires staff members like he’s running a fast food restaurant. He puts forward a consistently campy persona. He still seems like a caricature– larger than life. He is still Donald Trump, mainly himself, and it’s strange seeing him in the White House, instead of in a casino or a pool hall at a nice hotel.
I don’t disavow everything he has done. He seems very adept at manipulating mass opinion, and in this era that is important. I wouldn’t call him stupid. He does seem to have a certain horse sense. And some of his policies are helping the economy– at least for now.
But I have never in my life seem a President act and speak the way he does.
I guess you may be detecting a theme in my posts. My wife suggested that I should not associate so many topics with my mental illness. So what does 45 have to do with schizophrenia?
Just that the world itself feels less sane every week.
It really does.
I wanted to add a quick post from work.
I am at my full-time job now. I feel nearly symptom free, and calm but alert. It has been nice to help quite a few people with their technological needs today.
I feel whole– almost sane.
The fears and blurred reality thoughts from my other posts seem especially paranoid from this perspective. These issues, and issues like them, have retreated to the background. That must be because my other posts were all written in my home environment. I usually write in solitude, now I am in the company of others, and have a role to play.
Having a job demands steady attention, and awareness. This is a great help to my schizophrenia. Work is not always easy, but I would definitely recommend it to many more mid- to high- functioning schizophrenics.
Take a chance, work alongside the sane. Help others. Heal yourselves.
I have mentioned the uncomfortable, paranoid feeling of growing up in the 1980’s, with the Cold War going on. A friend of mine pointed out that kids these days have similar fears.
Indeed, I am worried that we may be resurrecting the Cold War mentality. There has been escalation with Russia in the past years, and, of course– there’s North Korea.
North Korea, led by the sinister Kim Jung-on, has been threatening to nuke the United States for many years. So effective is their media campaign, that nearly every week, a new threat emerges from this small but militarized nation.
It raises the question– should we be afraid? Should we live in fear of North Korea? If we believe what we see and hear, we should be afraid, indeed. A nuclear war could easily claim millions of lives– and by all reports, North Korea is increasingly able to start one.
Or– should we doubt our senses? Ignore the news? Life is hard enough without issues like this, after all. How are we going to get through the work week, if we have to worry about Kim Jung-on and his whole bizarre campaign?
I hope that my sane friends and not starting to feel a bit like I do. Paranoid schizophrenia is not an enjoyable condition.
As technology improves, our ability to blur the lines between real and imaginary worlds progresses.
The use of “CG” (or “computer generated”) effects began some time ago. I remember watching the film “Tron” (1982) as a child. Though it looks primitive today, computers were used to create an entire universe in that film– interestingly, it was a universe inside a digital network.
George Lucas was a big proponent of cg effects, much to the chagrin of some of his fans. He was one of the first directors to add entire cg characters to a major film (such as in “Attack Of The Clones” ).
Early cg characters did not fare so well, in terms of popular reaction. Viewers could easily tell that the figures were “not real”– that they were generated, and did not belong to the visual universe of the film.
Years later, and cg has become eerily advanced. Older characters, from actors or actresses who have aged or died, are being digitally resurrected into films. For example, the Rachel character from “Blade Runner” (1982) reappeared in “Blade Runner 2049” (2017)– and did not age a day in several decades, by all appearances.
It is a powerful ability, to use computers to create nearly any imagined image. It has already been an issue in news media that doctored, “photo-shopped” images have been mistaken for actual ones.
As a schizophrenic, I have trained myself to doubt my senses. Perhaps we are approaching a time when we all will have to question what we experience.
If virtual reality catches on (and I believe that it will), I wonder how much of a grasp of the authentic, material world we will retain?