Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pearls From Swine

I thought it high time I stop talking about interpersonal shit and got back to the art and artist I am supposed to be becoming. I'm not even sure if I'm even halfway down the road to becoming an artist, but this is the best stuff I would keep from all the advice I have recieved over the years. This is the advice that if not producing instantaneous fame and success, sustains me in my work and keeps me producing.

1. People Want You To Succeed

This was something a manager at Honda said to a colleague of mine making what I presume was one of his first presentations. Technically it is an observation rather than advice but I strongly advise you to consciously acknowledge and accept it. Schadenfreude exists in some rare exceptions, but you can be confident that by and large people actually want you to succeed and do well. They don't want to see a shitty comedian choke, they don't want to see your band's lead singer break down and cry. They don't want to be the only person in the gallary looking at your works.
People enjoy being witness to the risks you are taking that they won't or can't take themselves. They are with you not against you. Feed off that.

2. Deserve, Then Desire

Following from that, this is a variation of Ghandi's old 'be the change' chestnut. I have limited sympathy for people who fret over the poor attendence at their party when you can't recall seeing them at any other party than their own. Mass market shows like the Idol franchise, Masterchef etc. encourage the notion that their is a vertical heirarchy in the creative pursuits and one's success is at the expense of another. Wrong! Wrong I say, there is room for all. For me it is easier to imagine there are people who will willingly support the arts with their time and money if I am one myself. I try to support anybody creating anything, not morally but physically and financially and in any way I can. I don't expect reciprocity, even in a karmic indirect sense but it makes it easier to believe. If you are an artist, support the arts. It is furthermore an enjoyable process, I am yet to drag myself to a gig, or exhibition that I didn't end up really enjoying.

3. All Advice is Autobiographical

People offer advice all the time. I stole this piece of advice from 'How to Steal Like an Artist' by Austin Kleon which is worth reading, but it is important. People give you advice in the context of either A) their own ambitions, which Austin covers or B) their ambitions for you.
Parents often just want you to avoid hardship and harm, their job is to protect you, but avoiding failure is not success. The best advice comes from people who can closely empathise with you, or at the very least admit that they can't. Be selective of the advice you recieve, even mine.

4. Do the Work.

I love Bobby Chiu and his Chiustream interviews, the visual arts is a lonely isolated profession and his interactive interview series allows these lonely people to connect. He asks almost every artist for their advice and thankfully and refreshingly they are always unanimous in saying in one form or another 'do the work.' Jason Seiler probably took it one step further and said that 'talent' is just a word used by his unsuccessful artist friends to describe the high correlation between their lack of it, and the hours spent playing play station. Seinfeld also advised that nothing bad can come from working your ass off. The only acception being RSI or carpel tunnel syndrome. But if you want to get better, schedule in the practice and do the work, taking regular breaks.

5. Achievement Comes Before Ambition

Probably the only advice here that nobody told me before I figured it out for myself. Our society overvalues the prodigy, and often disregards the late bloomer. We would all rather succeed sooner than later, but generally aiming way too high just defeats yourself. You walk into sticky and pick up a zine and say 'I could write something way better than this.' but it turns out that often you can't, or you do and nobody buys it, because nobody recognizes your name. A lot about keeping your ambitions in check is being efficient. You have no track record so you are likely to only generate a small following, even if you do manage to pull off something substantial and ambitious you will dissappoint yourself with the lack of witnesses. Always produce quality work, you want those few people who do pick it up to be advocates, but pace yourself and give them plenty of opportunities to become advocates - even evangelists.

6. Mind the Gap

Following from this, and also touched on in 'How to Steal Like an Artist' are the cognitive gaps. We are our own harshest critiques (most of the time, some people are way up their own arse.) Harvard posted this gem of advice just a few days ago on the gap between what we expect of ourselves and what we can actually produce. In summary people get into the creative arts because they have great taste, but lack the ability to meet their own standards. My most reliable and supportive friend John has for example criticized many a guitar solo for sucking, and he has high standards for them, but he cannot actually solo himself. I feel I should be able to draw finished works like Humberto Ramos and Skottie Young, but I can't... yet. It doesn't mean my drawings are bad. Just not as good as I want them to be. So don't give up, just try to better.

7. Publish/Put yourself Out There

Following from the gap between ambition and ability, unless you publish stuff you can easily lose perspective of how good your work really is. Performing or publishing is also not as self-indulgent as you probably worry it is. The whole notion of having an audiance is based on the theory that they will relate to you. I still feel nervous about publishing stuff, largely because I worry that people will find out how borderline psychotic I am, (I feel nobody appreciates how much effort I exert not invading a South American nation and exploiting their mineral resources) but my experience has been that everybody kind of assumed that about me anyway and nobody treats me any differently once I put it out there. People also by and large appreciate your soundcloud link, photos, drawing or video more for breaking up the monotony of those insipid facebook friends' status updates 'Tacos for dinner... yummy yum yum!'

8. Be Gracious Not Humble

My picture is hanging on the wall, a wonderful friend approaches and says 'it's really great!' and I say 'no, it's fucking shit.' this is an expression of that gap, and it's a mistake. The subtext is, 'if you like my work you have no taste.' where as I was always wanting to be honest and demonstrate a requisite humility. The correct (and honest) response is always 'thankyou, that means a lot to me.' This is the only way to respect yourself and the people who love you.

9. Never Criticise Yourself in Public

I'm really bad at this. (I know that sentence is ironic) I almost never follow this advice, it's just too tempting to not let your artwork speak for itself. It's just wasted energy though and counter productive. More broadly speaking though follow Nietzsche's advice 'When his book opens its mouth, the author must shut his.' male personal pronouns aside, everyone can benefit from this. Your art is like a child growing into adolescence you need to let it go. Ursula Le Guin also said along the same lines 'I know that to clinch a point is to close it. To leave the reader free to decide what your work means, that’s the real art; it makes the work inexhaustible.'

10. Just because you aspire to something better doesn't make it necessary or helpful to hate where you are.

I am dubious of the vaguely defined 'success'. I can tell you as an economist that it is empirically known that wealth and fame fail to make people happy, and contribute relatively little. I know though that many artists struggle below the poverty line. But I would advise people to make a concerted effort to appreciate the upside. The people that support you in the early days truly care, and are far more likely to be people you respect. Bruce Campbell has a great line in Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 'Who cares about the love of your family, when you could have the adoration of thousands of strangers!' Just watch an evening with Kevin Smith to appreciate that famous people don't get to pick their fans. But complaining about the hardships you have voluntarily taken on implies a criticism of the people and places around you. And focusing on how much you hate something has never made it easier to endure, whether it is running a cross country race or making coffees for yuppies.

11. Collaborate Whenever Possible

Your friends are your most obvious and immediate audience, this is true of your friends' friends. If you do solo stuff you will attract a smaller audience than if you collaborate with a friend. Collaboration is natural to musicians who tend to form bands or at the very least have to go through some kind of production relationship with a solo act, but if you're a visual artist or writer it isn't so obvious, do a collaborative project. It's much easier to get into the discipline of working to a schedule, but also is good training for the hard work of compromising and coordinating a work. Plus collaboraters are the most likely to give you honest and inspiring feedback on your works and working process.

12. No Effort is Wasted

You are going to fail a lot and often. Nassim Nicholas Taleb had the great aphorysm 'The opposite of success isn't failure, it's name dropping.' And I agree, as a piece of sub-advice avoid name dropping at all costs, it looks REALLY insecure. But the important point is that failure is part and parcel of success, and certainly not its opposite. I am currently faced with the reality that my audio/visual collaboration with John will not get a venue before he moves, but our reharsals were not wasted effort, they helped me develop so much in technique and repertoir and composition. The very process of trying makes me more likely to succeed in future and indeed the attempt to bridge the audio/visual live gap has been a long standing abortive challange. John is the third collaborator I've approached and the closest I've come to succeeding. It will happen one day though, as Samual Beckett wrote 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'

13. Sacrifice is Overrated

Creating stuff is hard and time consuming, but masochism is unnecessary. Have a social life, interact with other people and schedule in downtime. Be honest about your procrastination and go to that movie on Saturday, don't refuse because you 'have to work on something' then work yourself into a depressive fit as you achieve nothing at all. Furthermore friendships and relationships and so fourth can actually help you succeed. Very few award winning artists don't thank their partner in their speech, none of them say 'Thanks me, or sacrificing everything in the pursuit of this reward.' Eat, drink, be fun to be around. Friends create opportunities and sustain your energy that you can work. I have never liked my friends less than when they all dissappeared into masochistic self indulgent honors thesis writing. Being acknowledged in a thesis is nice, but not nice enough to remove the (mild) pain of being told we couldn't go out tonight because they had to stare blankly at a screen and experience writers block.

14. Don't waste time on Grammar and Punctuation.

You can pay people to correct this shit, they are called 'Editors'. Focus on actually creating the work.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Over the weekend Shona shared with me the thought experiment of 'If you could take your parents and put them on a wheel with every other parent in the world and spin that wheel would you take that chance?' and you know whatever your stance is on probabilities or understanding of worldwide demographics, I think it is useful to comprehend where in the spectrum of really great to really bad parents yours lie.

They have no idea what they are doing

Kids reach some point when the comprehend their own mortality and it is part of forming their identity, I believe in well adjusted individuals there's a similar point of maturation when you realise your parents had no idea what they were doing when they became parents. "The problem with parenting is that by the time you are experienced you are unemployed."

My parents never, I feel, successfully conveyed any real attitude towards money, they never set up a working pocket money system. Despite the relative wealth of my upbringing I spent the first 19 years of my life with no real money. I find it hard to be motivated by money to this day, I either have it or I don't. This could certainly have been done worse though, it is just one aspect of all the things, the values parents have the option of conveying to you in your upbringing. Many children are done a great disservice for example by their parents misrepresenting the importance of money which instead of being something we earn, is in fact the cause of all their sorrows because they simply didn't have enough.

We are all accidents

So many of my high school friends confided that they were accidents that I began to suspect my own parents of lying to me that I was planned. I have come to accept that I was, for reasons I don't understand.

But then earlier this year, I had the revelation that there's just no fucking way my parents could have planned to have had me. This compounds the probability that our parents will mess with our head, on top of their lack of experience, you just don't know what you are going to get. Any second hand experience parents have of parenting from their own are not necessarily going to be useful when it comes to raising their own kids, my own parents ad no useful role modeling for raising a kid with aspergers, particularly since the condition didn't become widely known until well after said kid reached adulthood.

Bad parents can produce wonderful children

When Claire dumped me years ago, it was so rash, so bold, so out of character that I struggled with it. The sudden collapse of a relationship I'd felt in total control of was shocking to me. Furthermore the exciting new life Claire was pursuing made me feel tired and old, old boring news. Serendipitously 'The White Masai' was the latest piece of shit book to be taking the world by storm. In an attempt to understand what Claire was doing, I tried to read it, and found it more than I could bare. I skipped to the end and discovered that leaving your long term boyfriend to pursue a Masai Warrior whose culture and way of life you don't understand ended predictably badly.

I felt somehow vindicated by this, and mentioned it to my housemate Damian, who commented that despite the collapse of the ill-fated marriage to a Masai warrior, she possibly didn't regret her recklessness because it had produced a child that she loved. (this is the author not Claire).

I don't know the details, but however regretable your parents union was, they are still capable of producing and raising wonderful human beings. Individuals can overcome massive adversity, typically parents help when they love their children and are capable of expressing it, they hinder when they don't but an individual can still overcome this setback. There is hope for us all.

It is not a relationship of choice, but it can become one

I don't like the idea of 'family groups' because they tend to blindly believe in the unity of a family. I'd like to see estrangement from parents become destigmatised. I have seen some people thrust back into the clutches of their families when they are the very people destroying their lives.

'It's a shame' when people don't like their parents, but it doesn't mean it is always worth the effort to reconcile. Some parents are just bad, they are parents that are too self absorbed to express their love for their children, nor for their children to ever be convinced they do.

Expressions like 'I'm sorry I was born.' and 'I didn't choose to be born' are seen as childish outbursts, but they are fundamentally true. Children get no say in who their parents are, and almost anybody can become a parent. If parents were wonderful, they are simply living up to expectation, if they are bad they are falling short. But children owe their parents no loyalty or debt, as they mature into adults they can redefine their relationship with their parents as it becomes one of choice. But few consciously make the choice, they just assume they should pursue their parents love for the rest of their lives rather than more worthy candidates of their time, energy and affection.

An Ideal that can be lived up to

I had the opportunity recently to actually intervene in a common parental blunder. I managed to demix a message before it was sent from father to son. Basically the son had confessed he had screwed up his life, and the father wanted to express both concern and anger/dissappointment in response. I convinced him to cut out the anger and just send the concern and love.

I would agree that parents have little influence over their children except for the worse, but here are the achievable ideal qualities of a parent:

1. They love their children, and leave them in no doubt. - My observation is people who don't doubt their parents love tend to have a natural resilience to adversity, failing doesn't daunt them in the short term.
2. Convey a sense of optimism about the future - This was pointed out by the book 'Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart' my parents are not great at it, but I no doubt cause them a lot of stress. If you believe that things can work out okay, you are less likely to become a victim of circumstance, fatalistic and a reader of Andrew Bolt columns.
3. Take responsibility - in case of divorce, avoid blame games and concentrate on moving on, avoid at all costs bringing your children into it.
4. Be present - My own father does this really well, he is not an expressive or emotional person. Yet he came to all my basketball games, he didn't convey any enthusiasm or passion for my performance. He just watched quietly and exuded a warmth. Despite his stoic demeanor I've never doubted that I can't call him up and he wouldn't be there for me. It's a call I've rarely had to make, yet take risks knowing I can.

And that's it. Pretty simple, and pretty achievable. And all things an individual, as parent can control.


So Disney bought Marvel Comics, presumably for the movie rights as comic book adaptations have gone from being big news to standard fare in the box office over the last two decades.

Allegedly Disney's top brass have made Marvel comic title's more family friendly, reversing from the 'gritty realism' that dominated western super hero comics since basically Frank Miller did his Daredevil/Batman: Year One runs in the early 80's.

There was nothing 'real' about the grittiness that comic nerds so craved, and I feel in Marvel's case particularly lead to some poor decisions like cladding the X-men in black leathers for the movie franchise instead of their vibrant original costumes. Grittiness may suit characters like Batman, but he is one of the few characters that really hang out in the noir spectrum of comic book kind.

But family friendly? Marvel, marvel, marvel (or rather Disney, disney, disney...) basically since the 80's you had the first generation of comic book fans that grew up with their comics. Previously you read comics through your childhood into adolescence and then cast them aside. Why? because the stopped having relevance to the readers real lives.

Until writers started innovating with the famous Iron Man issue - 'Demon in a bottle' where Tony Stark battled alcoholism rather than some communist threat. You had Alan Moore deconstructing shit producing the killing joke, watchmen, V for Vendetta etc that humanised the previously one dimensional characters. Prior to that you had Stan Lee adding two-dimensional characters (a huge innovation, now forgotten) in Spider Man/Peter Parker the adolescent struggling to get a date that had to take on super-hero responsibilities at the same time.

This is like a return to the censored years of Batman, where violence was removed and thus Batman had to escort Robin around to solve ridiculous crimes with farcical gadgets that had no bearing to reality at all. (These years were the basis of the 60's live action Batman series)

But this time it's Marvel, Batman survived censorship, I'm sure Marvel's franchises will too, but let's hope it doesn't take a decade.

On the flipside, DC decided to reboot all their comics, to get rid of the burdensome continuity they had accumulated over 60+ years. In some ways DC were always on the fronteers of comics, no one else had to deal with the icons of Superman and Batman being in continues publication for over half a century. How do you keep it fresh whilst retaining the identity? How does such a narrative evolve with so many writers and artists?

I personally fucking hated Grant Morrison's recent reign of terror on the Batman titles, and was sick of the constant 'events' like the rise of the Black Lanterns and shit that went on for ages and got churned out with increasing frequency.

They were shit, and trying to bolster the sales of a bunch of struggling DC titles by tying them into the continuity of the two performing titles (Superman and Batman) was kind of just pathetic, it brought everything down rather than alevating anything else, but alas getting rid of all the continuity?

Neither companies have the answer, I think honestly Marvel was always ahead, except DC was kept alive by it's ownership of the only 2 icons in the comic industry Batman and Superman. Marvel basically throwing away accumulated generations of readership to go family friendly and attract one generation of readers at the expense of three is I feel questionable mathematics.

DC on the other hand, have possibly 'stolen defeat from the jaws of victory' by rebooting their universe. There are always going to be story arcs that we wish we could undo, but usually these are undone by the short term memory of comic book readership, more accepting of retconning and say two face constantly getting his unlikely facial injuries repaired and disfigured again and again.

But clearing out all the crap in one fell swoop is only useful if you don't immediately replace it with new crap, and that is what DC have done.

DC needed to just expand the Kevin Smith - Green Arrow model. Get an actual good writer and give them reign to write good comics. Maybe create 5 year plans and minimise interaction between titles.

This approach makes no sense in terms of short term profitability though. We shall see a bunch of fool collectors buy evry single print of DC's new #1 titles, then watch as sales go tumbling down.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Since my sister returned to Uni, she's been bringing home DVDs of Grand Designs. It is interesting to observe the variation in sympatheticness of the owners. By far the most sympathetic, the most loveable is Bruno.

Bruno and wife converted a water tower in Kent into their new home, but their attitude, their sheer lovability just tells you how much they have succeeded in managing their lives. Like their schedule falls behind and thus they go over budget which they were averse to take on, effecting their retirement, yet they never compromise or crack the whip but just put their complete faith and trust in their architect, and main contractor and watch.

They as a couple take pains to not get involved in problems that they can't solve themselves. And you can tell, they are going to be okay.

Over the past week, I felt angry, not righteous indignation as say I feel when looking at Climate Change or Asylum Seeker issues, but felt angry the regular way. Like angry with people. It has been a real novelty to look at people with this emotion on my mind. Like wanting to give them a piece of my mind.

It was on my mind, allegedly, and my experience tells me it is fundamentally true that our brains favorite 'downtime' activity is contemplating social matters. So I was thinking of how to express my mild anger and frustration at people I actually know, then I saw Bruno and realised...

I want to be happy, I want to be a nice, beautiful person. I want to create, not destroy, I want to help people, not bring them down.

Bruno just says things like 'Now I have 3 things to look forward to when I get home from work, my wife, my dogs and now the water tower... she smiles at me too.' that's who I want to be when I retire from this world.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Give Divorce A Chance

Yesterday I read in some kind of news printed on paper, that family groups were up in arms over some course on offer to help couples divorce quickly and cheaply. Within 2 hours supposedly you would leave with the papers drawn up for the family court.

Why do 'Family' groups get up in arms about something designed to make the unpleasant business of divorce more painless. It smacks of the same mentality of Abstinence only groups blocking vaccines for potentially lethal STI's because the lethality of STI's is scene to discourage premarital sex.

I am not opposed to getting married, but I wouldn't marry just anyone, and thus I hope to marry somebody I am not likely to divorce. I do not wish to get divorced, but having made all this clear, I think divorce is a good thing.

Divorce needs to progress in being destigmatised, it needs to get cheaper and easier and less ugly. Obviously divorce will always carry with it emotional costs, even in the case where a family consists of two people, it is still the case that:

While it takes two people to sustain a relationship, it takes only one to end it.

One party may be the unwilling recipient of divorce, none of us ever know. Children probably almost always are, because only the parents really get a say in whether the parents stay together.

But in the dawn of this new era, almost every alternate model to an 'atomic family' needs to be destigmatised, including same sex couples, same sex parents, polyamorous and open relationships and even the basic notion that some people are best suited to having a life of short term relationships with a number of partners, and never marrying and never having children.

Divorce is a good place to start.

We are in a painful transition, from an era where it wasn't very important to pick a good life partner because people didn't get divorced. Yes counter-intuitively, I believe the ability to divorce, (and easily) has actually made the decision of who to marry harder. Before if you wound up with an alcoholic or abusive or negative partner, your marriage was cemented in, you couldn't leave and you just sucked it up. But now, the threat of divorce demands more of ourselves and more in our partners and we just don't know what to look for.

The media and often our peers are not good at teaching us to identify what qualities are important to look for. Our parents, mostly from the first generation to really have divorce as an option, and our grandparents whom really lived out their marriages without the option of divorce, provide poor guidance as well.

So its natural that so many divorces are so fucked up at the moment, so messy, so sudden, so unpredictable. But I'm confident that society will get better at divorcing and it will be widely regarded as possibly the greatest thing to happen to the institution of marriage and the emotional well being of individuals, since the dropping of arranged marriage.

Arranged marriages had their benefits, they took the stress and responsibility of the most important decision many are likely to make out of their hands. But on the downside they took the stress and responsibility out of the individuals hands who had to live with the consequences. To borrow the Japanese expression 'Love Marriages' don't guaruntee happiness and true love to people who choose their own partners, but it gives them the potential to do so, and do so for themselves.

Divorce similarly completes the migrtion form arranged marriages to marriages of choice, because it acknowledges that we are able to make mistakes, that our amygdala, the low conscious section of the brain that generates 'love at first sight' and the cocktails of drugs that our brain is addled with in the early days of a relationship are not so reliable at choosing lasting fountains of happiness.

Furthermore, it provides recourse to those who marry out of convenience and urgency, considering biological clocks, or figuring they have no real reason not to.

It's just there's so much we don't know about how to manage the fallout of divorce. But we'll get there and hopefully this shit will start being taught in schools, along with how to identify good partners.

I know of divorces that were straightforward, simple and amiable and others that were messy, protracted and far more damaging than necessary. The difference will one day be determined. I have some broad conclusions I have drawn, like those who make an effort not to make an adversery of their ex nor criticise them publicly tend to have better outcomes. Those where the parents leave no ambiguity as to how much they love their children tend to achieve good outcomes.

But there's other stuff that is still contentious, like apparently just a few decades ago, conventional wisdom was that a loveless marriage SHOULD stay together for the sake of the children, now it has moved quite quickly to the opposite, do what you can to remove emotionally toxic environments from your kids.

And so on and so fourth.

We'll get better, and divorce will come to be regarded as the best of a bad situation. But people make mistakes, and we should be allowed to.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What I Like About Dogs

Three-legged dogs still wag there tails. They move as if they haven't noticed that they have only three legs. They just get on with shit. Their dog nature is unchanged by permanent injuries, they never pause to be all 'well this is the rest of my miserable life' and thus are not miserable. They accept the facts and move on.

Dogs are very stoic. I like that.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Am Not A Malicious Person

Upon reflection, my dooring experience taught me something about myself. I will always have a skewed perspective, when I dislocate my shoulder sweat pours from my head and I go white in the face, so I'm not sure how calm I actually am.

Like most people, I suspect I indulge in violent fantasies, less occassionally than sexual, or even social fantasies, but they usually have involved dooring when the subject of fantasy is violence. As in what I would do if somebody doored me.

If ever there is a time in life to be justified in being malicious it is after being doored. After being almost killed by somebody, and I discovered on Wednesday that I am not malicious at all. I didn't feel any impulse to anger, I have trained it out of myself.

I am pleased.

I also realised that it is hard to fuck over a nice guy, it is hard to get angry at somebody nice. If you are nice, you are kind, things work out okay.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Man I Love Musashi

Yesterday I reread 'The Book of Five Rings' by Musashi Miyamoto, pretty much the only thing Musashi and I have in common is that we are analogous thinkers. His path of 'Heiho' or 'the way'.

I got more out of this reading than past ones, I felt I understood more of what he talks about, it really is a well structured, well written and timeless book. Even though fuedal Japan and Musashi's way of life has been illegal for two centuries now.

But really he subscribes to an: approximately right trumps precisely wrong. I imagine for many his sword school is dissappointingly vague and lacks any impressive technique, just simple stuff like 'walk as if you are walking down a road' when describing footwork, and yet his narrative conveys a unique sense of mastery, supreme confidence, not bravado.

It is truly a unique narrative to read. I recommend it, it does take imagination to extrapolate out though.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Dooring is incomprehensibly evil. If people could comprehend it, they wouldn't do it.

To explain dooring simply, it's when somebody opens a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. It requires parralal parking, low awareness and bad timing.

Certain St's are hotspots for it, Sydney Road and Victoria St for example are ideal, because the inner lane is occupied by parallal parking spaces, the bike lane runs underneath it, and thus bikes are forced to ride about 50cm out of parked cars.

One of the sales clerks at my preferred bike store smashed up all his front teeth from being doored on Sydney road. A kid died last year on Glenferrie road when a sudenly opened door resulted in him dodging it into the path of an oncoming truck.

Most people pop their door first and then swing it open, a few though just emphatically thrust it open in one motion. This is the dangerous way to open a door. As a cyclist you learn to spot the warning signs like changes in brake lights, movement through the rear view mirror etc and take the necessary precautions like slowing down and giving a wider berth.

But shit happens, and yesterday afternoon I got doored. It was close, I almost made it. I was on my BMX Luciana, I had 4 or 3m notice when the door just opened up in front of me. The BMX only has a rear brake so it doesn't have the greatest stopping power. I'd been the last through a changing light so I was lucky to have no traffic behind me. I swerved out and almost cleared the door but my left handle bar grip just clipped the door and I lost control. Some wobbling, some over correction and then I hit the deck.

It would have been fine except I landed and rolled on myright shoulder which took it out of the shoulder.

But dooring's on balance the best outcome is to clear the door completely, no collission, but this can put you in the path of an overtaking vehicle resulting in severe injury or death.

You are unlikely to die from just running into the door, but it is going to hurt. You can go over the handlebars, which for me would probably result in both shoulders dislocating, smash through the window and destroy your face and teeth. Put an arm through the window and require reconstructive surgery. Or bounce off the door into traffic and die. But probably, crashing into the door is on balance less potentially lethal than going around it.

I didn't make a judgement call, the nature of being doored means you just don't have time to do it. I just tried to avoid the obstacle in front of me I could easily have put myself in front of an overtaking vehicle and bean mushed out of existence.

Having my arm in a sling for the next two weeks is an inconvenience but I'm lucky to be alive really. I plan on riding again, I don't plan on being doored, ever again.

If you own a car, please, when paralal parked, pop your door, then swing it open. I can handle the rest.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Some Kind of Monster

This year at soundwave I discovered that it was over, I had moved on. Metal Drummer's and their double kicks were boring, they bored me. I was bored. The line up was way too Metal heavy, and punk seems to have evolved into some wannabe metal branch. I was wondering if I'd been hanging around Jazz drummers too much, and had somehow been afflicted with the Jazz musicians course for liking only inaccessable music.

Then One Day As A Lion came on, one of the redeeming misfits on the roster along with Primus that made the ticket actual value for money. One Day As A Lion's drummer is Jon Theodore, I have looked, searched, scavanged on Youtube, but Alas, no Video really captures just how... how... how incredibly explosive he was.

See that video, that video DOESN'T capture the explosiveness. It was like watching an athlete instead of a musician. His breathing, his feel, just how hard he hits the drums. I'm sure it's unnecessary. And it was hot, aparantly back when he was in the Mars Volta Jon Theodore would be naked, he plays barefoot, so he came out in like green slacks and a shirt, and left drenched in sweat.

That energy is just missing from almost all popular music, an entire emotional spectrum denied even in 'Alternative' music, which really should be a one stop shop. The bands I go see regularly in Melbourne don't have that kind of energy, even though they are diverse and different and often commercially unviable (as well as many that are), from the Bombay Royals to Texel Rising to The Nymphs.

Where did the energy go? Where did the anger? It is possible there has never been a time were a human being could be more angry than now, rich or poor anywhere in the world. We all just seem to be fucking each other, and not in the good way either.

I was conveying my impressions of Jon Theodore to John, my comrade in arms for Superfluous H, whom also doesn't play explosively, and he said 'That guy is a MONSTER, breaking drumsticks all over the place' and it just struck me as such an apt description of what my search has failed to bring me: A monster. The sort of thing Ancient Roman's first erected stadiums for and hoped to see when they pitted man against man, and beast.

Obviously for ethical reasons, I'm not going to suggest a return to gladiator pits, but what I mean is, I wish there were more correlation between people who like sports and people who want to be athletes.

If Music was sport, then right now the music scene would be lauding Mark Price's and Jon Stockton's and Tim Duncan's. That is precise and solid performers, reliable, with certain grace and economy. That is what music seems to be right now. BUT, I crave the days of Kemp and Jordan and Barkley, MONSTERS of the game. The dunk may be a 'No-Brainer' and costly energy wise, but as one Seatle Super Sonics fan pointed out, when Kemp dunked a massive alley-oop the crowd got to it's feet. It energised them, it brought the audiance into the arena and made them part of the game. He energised them and they energised him, better than gatorade. MONSTER fucking dunks.

That's what I'm searching for, hoping for in Music, some kind of monster. One Day As A Lion are a start, I crave more. I went to a dance on friday, and the DJ dropped this track:

See that's not angry, but it is explosive. I think it convinced me, ironically, of Gandhi's call for us to 'be the change you would see in the world.' the only way to guaruntee I see what I want to see is to become a monster myself. This will take some time, but I intend to do it.

I don't have to be good, just a monster.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The Type

I remember the first time I fell in love, in grade 2 my first year in Alfredton Primary school, I became instantly enamoured with a classmate one day on a wet weather time table, confined indoors the teachers chose to entertain us by having a dance session. She threw herself at the twist with a reckless ambition that one me over. It was not love at first sight, I fell in love upon seeing this.

It was all very confusing and I remember wandering listlessly around the school oval for what in my short lifetime seemed like years but was probably weeks when suddenly she was moved away by her parents never to be seen by the likes of me again. I don't even remember her name, yet I feel as though I remember exactly what she danced like.

Since then the people I have fallen in love with have been less mysterious, and distressingly for me, appear in my life less frequently. I do have a type, I know it when I see it, but find it hard to describe.

The first time I realised I had a type was the week after schoolies, in my final summer in Ballarat I began dating a girl in year 11 from another school cross town. Our set up had been... awkward, when I picked up her best friend (which was awful) she told me after our session that her best friend was into me and 'what did I think of her?' somehow we then managed to start dating. In our second phone conversation I fell in love with her, the instant when she suggested our first date be at the pancake parlour.

That's my type. See my problem? Anyone could suggest a date at the pancake parlour, but that's not it at all. My type of woman is the type that would suggest a first date at the pancake parlour.

Obviously it's so much more, but there's no hard and fast rule to these things. All I can say is, generally I have made up my mind from the first conversation. It only just occured to me, but as somebody with an Audio preferenced learning style (ie. I can sit in lectures, take no notes and recall most of the course content) it now makes sense that my biggest interest cue is verbal.

I guess the one quality I look for in not just partners but all my friends I willingly spend time with is an ability to surprise and delight me. I am yet to meet any magician whose ability to pull unexpected objects from my ear, or their sleeve overcomes their conversational shortcomings, thus most of the time this quality is embodied in their style of speak.

I mean it sounds a bit like an 'it' factor where I am sorry to say people tend to have it or they don't. Perhaps egotistical on my part, but it has become perhaps the primary dealbreaker that has now kept me single for years. Times were that I could date a girl based on physical attractiveness, intelligence or other qualities I was socially conditioned to admire. And whilst some physical attraction is essential, the others have sort of gone by the wayside in importance, or tend to correlate anyway. I've dated 3 women that didn't speak my language, and I've learned my lesson now.

I think they all had an appreciation for how I speak, and that is flattering and kind of reciprocally attractive, but my experience taught me that time spent with them exclusively was boring, claustrophobic and now generally I avoid such partnerships because I have too big a guilty conscious to emotionally handle one night stands or even dumping people I knew I wasn't that into in the first place.

I have had the luxury now of having a relationship with people whom it is a delight to spend my whole day with, day after day after day. To have had it once was great, twice I know I am luckier than most, to have it again would be perhaps more than I deserve, to be that person for somebody else would be I feel my life well lived.

Which I guess I could, I come across women in much greater numbers that appreciate my style of speak, yet have not the style of their own. I am not pessimistic (or "realist") enough yet to settle for that one way street, I am optimistic that I will meet somebody eventually whom is my type and will feel mutually.

I do despair though for those women who just get it wrong with me, I feel bad about it because there's no graceful way to just drop on somebody 'sorry but you're not my type' unless they ask you out, which women generally don't. I feel safe in saying that no women whom give me the impression they are attracted to/flirt with me actually read this blog, but I'm surprised at how amazingly unconscious women who get it right with me do so, and how painfully conscious it seems for the women who get it wrong. It feels like a train wreck speaking to them, like torture, like I guess seeing a salesman's pen leak into their front pocket during their sales pitch.

And sure I may not be your cup of tea, but if you are ever drawn to somebody by their humour here is my advice from my personal experience:

1. Funny people crave 'looping' too. The neural synchronisation so annoying in teenage girls on public transport, but so, so good when you find it with somebody else. Yes they are trying to make you laugh, but what they really crave is for you to go with them and take conversation to new and unexpected places. It requires a similar or greater level of intelligence, reaction time etc.

2. Don't mistake an education for intelligence.

3. The easiest way to destroy a looping opportunity is to comment to the effect of 'you're funny.' Just laugh. It's really that simple. (ironically one of my longest standing and closest friends pretty much said nothing but this throughout the year 7 class we first sat next to eachother. But he had science and art to fall back on). (also another close friend of mine, doesn't really laugh, just says 'that's funny' in the flattest tone imaginable. Like what you would sue a Doctor for if they told you 'your son is dead.' in the same tone. She made me fight so hard to impress her.)

4. You may not be funny, but almost anybody can be offensive, just try hard to offend them. But remember 'the epitome of wit is to insult people without offending them, nerdiness the opposite.' There is nothing more genuinely offensive than being boring and predictable to some people.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

I Was Wrong

Apparantly Christopher Hitchens debated Tony Blair, on the topic of 'Religion does more harm than good' at some prestigious debate in Canada or something. You can buy a transcript of it, or watch it here

Hitchens and Blair convinced me I have been wrong. Religion is small and petty and not the originator of the behaviour that threatens our welfare. On the whole, religion is a force for good, most religious people (that I meet) are good people and arguably less harmless than the average individual. Which I guess for my social circle is probably a big call. But it is no bigger than the general observation, that I believe: 'People are basically good.' you take the incidence of bad things (theft, murder, assualt etc.) and divide it by the number of opportunities to do those bad things and you'll find that badness is rare.

So so for religion, for every individual member of a religious organisation that molests a child, there are a bunch that feed and clothe the poor. But don't get confused, this is neither an argument for nor against religion. It suggests that religion is largely irrelevant.

The basic behaviour that is protected and sheltered and fostered by religion is the source of almost all of man's inhumanity-to-man, Us-Them thinking. But this is no different than that fostered by sporting competition (at it's most negligible) and nationalism (at it's most damaging).

I am now probably entering a phase of undedicated thought to foster an understanding of what should actually concern us, that narrative goes something like this:

We have a tendancy to organise around capable leaders, people who put simply - use resources efficiently. To put it slightly more complicatedly, are better at taking resources and producing for us, than were we to employ resources for ourselves as individuals. If you can identify such benign people it makes sense from self interest to strip down resistance or friction to them employing their faculties.

Then ultimately these leaders are succeeded, and the succession process is vulnerable to corruption by wilful or subconscious self-interest. Namely some tools employ the organisational structure to parisitically consume more resources. They do so freely, because the organisation consists of people who have formed a habit of trusting their leadership and, perhaps in a truism, follow their leaders.

But there are still things to be said about God, that I feel like saying, burying, leaving behind now. They are pragmatic issues.

Omniscience and Inscrutibility

For me the debate over matters metaphysical needs to go here. One means by which the god meme survives is his inscrutability, his designs are not apparant from any real world observations, we must trust that when bad or meaningless tragedies happen to good people it is part of some greater design that we can't possibly comprehend.

This allows us to believe in a benign and sentient entity, because he knows all we can have faith that things will work out great over eternity. We have faith that no matter what, ultimately we are headed towards some meaningful and rewarding destination, all of us, part of it.

This requires a vast intellect, but suffers from practicle problems. There are so many (known) variables in the universe that to optimise our destinies, means that by definition omniscience requires an understanding of the impact of every single one of those variables. There is a debate as to whether free-will really exists or not, but nevertheless to us, individuals it is a convincing illusion. Omniscience suggests that beyond contemplating every quantum outcome of electron movements to optimise our spiritual destiny, god has contemplated every possible act of free will.

That is, there will be one optimal dimension, one actual Universe, that we presume to live in, and then every single other alternate version of reality that god discarded as sub optimal. But by definition, god's knowledge of those alternate universes must be complete, so thoroughly complete that how are we to know our entire existence isn't within the discarded thought experiment of god. We have no way of determining whether we are just the 'thought-output' of god's omniscience or living in some inscrutable 'reality' that is the ultimate output of God's thorough optimisation of our universe.

The fact that god's designs can't be scrutinised through observance of the natural world leaves us unable to tell whether we do or don't matter, whether we are mere thoughts of some omniscience or some reality external to god's omniscience (if that's even possible).

How unsatisfying, this is the kind of dissatisfaction that religious apologists seldom understand, and thus keep debating athiests at a very low bar. They (apologists) don't understand that under the sheer complexity of what omniscience entails, that atheism is in fact both a simpler explanation, and more comforting. Reality is what it is, some brilliant and glorious accident, some natural phenomena that we were lucky enough to have happen, for no reason at all. A true windfall.


Omnipotence is far less of a metaphysical headache than omniscience, it suggests that god can do anything. Thus, the afore mentioned known variables are in fact accepting that omnipotence entails miracles, not even worth describing. Everything is a variable to god.

This is what creates the necessity of inscrutibility for god to survive in our minds, god is omnipotent, not impotent and thus worthy of our reverence and appeals to his better nature. The reason then that prayers (for new limbs, to walk again, for people to love us... etc.) keep going unanswered, we must accept that getting what we want isn't what we need, is not in our best interests and thus a life characterised of losing everything we have while being ravaged by schizophrenia is somehow in our best interests.

But apologists will happily sing along to vapid lyrics 'God is limitless, he can do anything' but when evidence is demanded to substantiate the claim, the demander is told 'you just don't get it.'

Omnipotence is a claim with practical problems though, for example - free will allows for unethical behaviour, simply defined here as actions that reduce other people's well being. Our omnipotent god simply lets it happen. Here polytheism is more satisfying than omnipotence and monotheism, because you can compartmentalise the influence of each god, and put them in conflict, much better explaining the diversity of outcomes. Yet homeric god's have perished and monotheistic beliefs survive.

Thus you have to accept things like forces of evil, or demigods even if metaphysical in nature (such as Satan or... ah the Galactic overlord of Scientology) must by necessity of definition of omnipotence must be part of their design and optimisation. An omnipotent god MUST create evil agents to do harm, that ultimately are in our best interests.

It becomes practically hard to say how we should spend time scrutinising teachings and offerings of institutions that claim to represent the omnipotent and the inscrutable. Furthermore coming to such lessons and devoting time to learn about these dieties, comes with obligations to behave in a certain way, and even privately think in a certain way and failure to do so comes with punitive measures - punitive measures that can be executed precisely because we are lead to believe that that is an optimal use of his omnipotence.

Here it moves away from inscrutibility to the tantalisingly scrutible. An omnipotent and omniscient optimiser like God, delegates authority to certain people that can then offer explicit answers as to what he has conceived is best for all of us. And unavoidably we can observe that those that receive this delegated authority, are also often materially rewarded, nor appear to need to practice what they preach. (CEO's and Bankers and Economists and Nationalists tend to do the same).

Ultimately though, omnipotence puts an onus on religions to impress us. Those delegated the authority to defend this stance and even up to date with how impressive the universe of 'no god' is. Which is strange because the first material houses of worship were constructed in a time when electric lighting didn't drown out the night sky. I am put in mind of a Carl Sagan quote that once heard is hard to forget:

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"? Instead they say, "No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way."


Omnipresence just takes god from any reasonable claim to being a simple and elegant explanation of existence to being practically hard and cumbersome to comprehend.

If you think of reality as some membrane, god's omnipresence combined with omniscience and omnipotence creates every single quark of matter, and dark matter etc. a point of articulation, a point of contemplation and habitation.

What a miraculously complex being this god is, infinitely massive yet smaller than anything science can comprehend. And thus, god's presence everywhere requires us to believe that he feels that when a designated authority to speak on his behalf fucks a child, it is for the best. Or is it? Are we meant to act, presumably not, because god also lives in our heads, whispering to us, what? It would seem 'get outraged' to some, often secular, which seems part of his plan and thus an act of free will and others 'just ignore it/defend it and the church' to others.

It all becomes a practical mess.

The Debate Meanders On

Whilst writing this I indulged in listening to the debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens, and what strikes me about this debate and Dawkins versus Amiable-Irish-Christian-Mathematician nobody, is that it is very easy for the athiest side. They never ask somebody like Tony Blair to explain shit like omniscience and inscrutibility and how anybody can derive authority from such concepts. Instead it is the same claim 'science can explain how, religion can explain why.' which isn't substantiated and has as of Sam Harris been moved on to an evidence based claim that science can answer questions of 'why'. Otherwise it is the same definitional retreats.

It's just sad and old, and hasn't even progressed since Bertrand Russell answered all those existing arguments that keep getting trawled up in 'why I'm not a christian.' And frankly I won't participate in theological debates unless my theistic opponent has read that book at least, and wants to debate interesting questions like how omniscience works.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Attraction to All Things Uncertain

I guess in a way it is everybodies job in life to become good at evaluating how mentally and/or emotionally stable people are (including ourselves) and there are glaringly obvious extremes as well as hard to pick borderlines, people that surprise us with an unexpected departure from their normal stable facade etc.

But to me one observable gender divide: I simply can't explain, can't even begin to speculate as to why, I mean literally everything I ever wondered about evolutionary imperatives and social conditioning doesn't serve me here in furnishing an explanation is:

Women's social hierarchy's tend to center around the least stable personality.

The kicker is, my brother pointed this out to me, and he has aspergers. The manager-tools dudes frequently point out that people form hierarchies in almost any context (if you put twenty people in a room, they don't emerge with a committee) we naturally tend to explicitly (in organisational contexts) elect a leader, or implicitly (in social contexts).

It is rare to find somebody who doesn't have any head candy to chew through, but my personal experience confirms that generally male social groups tend to follow the lead of the guy who is relatively emotionally and mentally stable. The guys with the biggest esteem issues are left to tag along or isolate themselves.

I'm just observing, not evaluating (well not much) but as much as my outsider perspective can ascertain, in female social groups the role of who calls the shots versus who tags along or is left behind is reversed.

Perhaps the best public example there would be is the dynamic of the 4 central characters in Sex & The City, where SJP (I can't recall the characters name) was clearly the biggest head case of the bunch, that was followed by the relatively stable Miranda, and even the remarkably consistent Samantha. The other character was also admittedly a head case with her pursuit of the perfect marriage and baby or something, and also SJP needed to keep sabotaging her own relationships and making bad decisions and what not if for no other reason than to keep the show going for another season/movie.

I mean I don't really believe in any pressing need for girls and guys to socialise seperately, I imagine it just occurs through social conditioning and laziness. But in high-school at recess Girls and Boys tend to cluster together. Outside of any female only social context though, my brother's observation doesn't hold up, because instability is not viewed as a desirable quality in any other context.

But I am left to wonder why, why oh why does this behaviour seemingly exist. Is it an illusion, do the women I respect cluster around the women I don't respect out of a pitying sense of charity and caregiving, rather than an endorsement that they may have something valid to say?

I don't want to get anybody in trouble, nor stir up any paranoia but I have also observed a possibly related gender divide of women who have friends they simply hate. They don't like them, as people, yet spend time with them, schedule them into their busy lives, speak on the phone with them, go to clubs with them and buy gifts for their birthdays, and they don't like them. They find them annoying, they often have very astutely judged their character and are willing to divulge this evaluation to third parties such as me.

This only adds to my perplexedness, because it shatters the easy explanation that a misogynist/loser would fall back on 'women are poor judges of character', nothing in my experience says they are, generally they will privately confide that they know somebody is a train-wreck but then gather around and hang on their words as if they were a wise or something.

Perhaps its just a morbid fascination with train wrecks.

I literally don't know. But I am 80% certain this is a general phenomena.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


Sooner or later, son, we need to talk about drugs. In the last week I have seen the second friends family embark on the distressing journey into having a family member fight against substance abuse.

Last night Louis C K described drugs as 'such a complete solution...they are wonderful...' he went on for quite a bit about how great drugs were before making perhaps, the obligatory concession that they were such a complete solution that they 'destroy your life.'

Lisa Pryor I noticed has written a book about the whole drug debate I haven't read, who also wrote 'the pinstripe prison' which I did read. But I did read the blurb, where she points out many people use drugs and are fine.

To be honest, I DO begrudge people's choices when it comes to drugs, but I've been trying to do less so. I have come to accept that people can, do and indeed have to make their own choices and my harsh judgement of these choices perhaps is of benefit to nobody.

I guess for reasons I don't think about I got annoyed in the 90s at how drug taking seemed to be mandatory for artists. So ever being a contrarian I refused resolutely to take any... Plus like my dad didn't drink alcohol until 3rd year uni or something, so I tried to emulate that... Oh and I have a relative that has schizophrenia, which was beginning to be suggested that drug use could trigger it in people predisposed, so why take the risk?

But experiences like euphoria, love and shit, can be stimulated by drugs, opiates. I had these painkillers when I had kidney stones in Spain and they were magnificent, I still have a stash of them that bring me immense comfort and sometimes I kind of wish I'd get injured to have an excuse to take them again, because I'm terrified of getting addicted. Anyway, I imagine heroin in terms of stimulating chemical reactions in our brain normally reserved for falling in love or whatever is 10 x better than those painkillers. (I can't read the ingredients, my spanish pain killers may for all I know contain heroin, morphine).

I don't know much about drugs, I've never come close to taking an illicit substance. And so in the particular style of people talking about things that are ignorant I'm going to say...

There's two kinds of people in this world. People who when told 'drugs can accurately simulate the feeling of love whenever you like.' see an immediate problem, and people who don't. Which is perhaps, what Louis C K meant when talking about drugs as a complete solution. I am one of the first kind, and I believe this is the majority of people. A minute proportion of the population is the latter and perhaps goes to the additional extreme of finding comfort and hope in the knowledge that drugs can stimulate the same chemical reactions that evolved to reward attracting a mate etc.

Like falling in love is, unrequited, pretty easy to do. Being loved is kind of hard. Buying a drug and smoking, snorting, licking or injecting it is relatively easy. And addictive, I have a number of friends that have used drugs to a variety of extents with varying degrees of success.

By that the variations range from 'harmless' to 'disastrous'. The disastrous are the number of people I know who used drugs and wound up with some form of psychosis. I don't know if I'm unlucky, but it is close to 80% of my WEED smoking friends. Crucially I am yet to come across a 'benificial' or truly 'benign' outcome from drug use. I remain highly skeptical about drugs ability to improve people's lives. I would take a hardline stance too, I'm not talking about illicit substances, I would find it hard to justify ultimately any benefits for painkillers, alcohol, coca-cola etc. all of which probably have a hidden-in-plain-sight social cost higher than the illegal drugs.

I have for example read Aldous Huxley's (or most of anyway) 'Doors of Perception' where he chooses the most common interpretation of drug apologists for the mind altering state induced by drugs that makes ones pants the most fascinating object in the room, that he has reached some higher plain of perception. Whereas there's an alternative interpretation available that is almost never taken, that the drug has impaired and narrowed your perception to the point that trouser material seems miraculous and fascinating. In the same way that retards find 'Two and a Half Men' funny or Nascar an exciting sport.

I have been impressed and surprised and inspired by things said by people who are sober, educated and intellectually curious and never in my experience by people under the influence of some drug. I mean when people are drunk, depending on how drunk they are, they are capable of being intelligent and insightful, whilst more relaxed than usual. Somebody like me generally gets much dumber and obnoxious after ingesting a relatively small amount of alcohol.

I'm aware though of artists that use drugs and manage to produce great works, but:

I find it hard to accept such direct causation, when you look at artists like Hendrix, Clapton, Cobain, Brett Whitley, Amy Whinehouse etc. regardless of their relative talents, you see a high correlation of depression/personal problems/absentee parents etc. that correlate highly with drug use as well as suggesting a familiarity with the human condition at an extreme that may also have caused their artwork to be meaningful. This suggests that somebody like me, whom through no fault (and no merit) of my own grew up in a stable and secure home with an absence of any known mental illnesses may not have been aided in my artistic pursuits by taking up a drug habit.

I also notice that many of these artists whilst creating works that are truly immortal have a tendency to die, usually from complications of being extremely depressed, unhappy and insecure. This suggests to me that perhaps creating a great and lasting work is rather meaningless to the individual without establishing a foundation of all the other shit that makes us happy. If you were charitable (to drugs) you might point to Hendrix and say he was killed by stupidity rather than depression, but I find it hard to entertain that the decision to take enough sleeping pills to sleep through the entire next day in a house full of relative strangers is not one often made by happy and secure people.

Then there's the afore mentioned survivors of drugs, Clapton being an example, Perry Farrel, Anthony Kiedas, Dave Navarro, John Frusciante, etc. are 'survivors' of heroin, there are myriad more for drugs like marijuana. What can never be determined is if they would have succeeded without their drug use (unless of course they develop the habit after producing their seminal works) but one thing is clear and that is generally they have stopped using. Quitting heroin is to my understanding a very unpleasant and difficult thing to do. Thus I find that in their evaluation, it was not worth continuing... a powerful argument that drug was not crucial or even positively correlated with their general sense of wellbeing.

But ultimately I can only speculate. One of my friends that was institutionalised with psychosis from the use of 'benign' marijuana, left me with a lasting bias that it is hard to defend drug use as even a balanced risk to indulge.

I will gladly, happily concede that drug use is made worse by many of the social stigma's sorrounding it, the fact that drugs have to be bought from criminals, and parents destructive reactions to the percieved personal attack/failure in a child's drug usage serve to make a poor decision a worse one. But the unfairness of drug use as judged by society don't make it a better decision for an individual to make, it just increases the downside.

I think much of what I have written naturally comes from a place of ignorance. It is all speculative and I have no motivation to do the kind of Gonzo journalism to discover what drug use is really like. I'm generally against it, though I don't believe the prevention of drug use is managed well.

I also think almost none of my speculation is controversial. I got to experience from the parental side, the emergance of yet another child admitting they have a drug problem this week. (not my child, but my friend's child) what was clear (though not to the parents) that the user knew that getting addicted to drugs was a bad idea. Their admission was one of error. They had made a mistake. It suggested to me a compelling desperation to find the kind of love and care and wellbeing from drugs that they felt they lacked. Fortunately we got to intervene in the parental response and edit out the anger and upset from the response and keep it loving and supportive.

I am not comfortable concluding that all drug users have some emotional deficiency that they seek drugs as a synthetic solution. My experience doesn't disconfirm this view though, I have friends who are emotionally stable and mature that use drugs even in the Aldous Huxley sense of intellectual curiosity and trying to open doorways of perception. Most commonly these friends maintain their use of marijuana, and am yet to hear any profound insights they had from smoking it, or indeed anything at all remotely interesting about marijuana itself. Otherwise they flirt with pills and shrooms and whatnot and stop using them quite quickly. These drugs encroach little on their identity or the time they spend with myself and others. These I guess are the many of drug users Lisa Pryor refers to in her latest book that use drugs harmlessly.

I am probably more anti-smoking and drinking than the other more glamorous and illicit drugs, and I haven't mentioned pills because I find it hard to identify with anybody who is a fan of raves and probably take a darwinian stance on the use of pills. Instead I will turn to the words of Dr. Gordon Livingstone and his approach to combating drugs to conclude, written I presume while sober and quite profound in his approach to drugs:

Fear, while effective in the short term, is not useful in promoting lasting change. The use of it as a motivator for behaviour ignores the fact that there are no more powerful desires than the pursuit of happiness and the struggle for self-respect. If means can be found that move people in these directions: better jobs, education, the chance to improve one's life, and a sense of fairness and opportunity, the seductive and short lived bliss provided by drugs will lose its appeal. Punitive emphasis on the "supply side" has not worked. Reducing the demand by emphasizing treatment and social alternatives to hopelessness offers the only prospect of winning this struggle between transient pleasure and lasting satisfaction.
(my emphasis)