Stay Alive

I really don’t like to be topical, but celebrity suicides make me sad. Any suicide makes me sad. And this isn’t just “Alex hopping on the anti-suicide bandwagon to make himself seem sympathetic.” No, I’ve been banging this drum for a while.

Mental illness is terrible. Depression is terrible. I liken it to a demon (maybe the demon?) getting his hooks into you and poisoning your mind with the sweet song of self-destruction. And it is an alluring message, one that we tend to romanticize in our art.

Whether it’s cultural (I think it partly is) or something else, everybody in America lately has suicide on the mind.

I’ve had my own struggles with this, believe me. But I don’t want to get into my life story here. I want to underscore yet again how this is a silent killer. Many who kill themselves seem outwardly to be fine, to have it all. They don’t always mope around wearing black, talking about how they’re going to do the deed. Often, they seem like regular, stable members of society.

Some depression can be situational, alleviating when the extreme stressors have been removed or overcome. Others are chemical or spiritual or I don’t know. I don’t know why it happens. I don’t know how it happens. All I know is that it’s a terrible thing.

At our cores is a deep yearning for oblivion. Many of us chalk it up to the fall of man in the long ago days when the first humans disobeyed God and were cast out of paradise. Our ultimate ancestors had the free will to decide between the human or divine, and we all know how that turned out because we’re living with the consequences.

Maybe that’s not your style. Maybe you don’t believe in anything save for what you see here in front of you. Maybe you don’t think there’s anything when you die and existence is a waste of time. Even so, something is keeping you from doing the deed. Don’t discount this! Maybe it’s evolution or chemicals or whatever. Don’t let go of it.

Find that one thing that keeps you going. It could be spite, it could be your pet, it could be that thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to doing it yet.

Turn this depression, this burning passion for self-destruction into fuel.

Talk to people–not necessarily doctors, just people you know and love. If you don’t have anyone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They’re great people who care. Trust me.

Go to church and talk to a priest, even if you’re not a Christian. They’re there to listen.

Talk to people you know from on-line. The Internet is a wonderful tool for connection. Use it!

Don’t give in to your existential despair. That’s what the enemy wants you to do. Fuck the devil. Spit in his face. He’s a bastard and nothing he wants for you is any good.

How do I know? I just know. Because only pure evil could convince someone that taking their own life is a good thing.

Stay safe everyone, and stay alive. God bless, and I want the best for you (even if you hate me).

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

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An Undisciplined Writer

Did you know that Walter B. Gibson, creator of the wildly popular character The Shadow and prolific author of hundreds of stories and novels, one time typed so much his wife was forced to intervene because he broke his damn fingers typing?

Damn.

I learned this on my buddy JimFear138’s most recent podcast, where he talked to another friend of mine, Rawle Nyanzi, about all things genre (and why genre doesn’t really matter these days; check out J.D. Cowan’s recent post about this if you’re interested in the premise).

Anyway, the point is that these guys in the 20s, 30s, and that general era wrote fast. And they produced quality.

This, of course, translates into money. You can see why guys like Nick Cole and Jason Anspach have been so successful with their Galaxy’s Edge series, both with the fans and financially.

Information like this, of course, has the tendency to produce self-reflection, and I realize one vital fact about myself: I am a very undisciplined writer.

Seriously. I don’t really enjoy the actual act of writing. Maybe it’s because I don’t like sitting still for that long. I don’t think it’s necessarily a focus thing, because given the right objective, I can be occupied for hours.

And writing can be like that, when I get into a groove. It’s just that getting into said groove can be a challenge.

This gets me wondering if it’s a free time issue: Free time is so limited, as it is for most of us, that I almost have a checklist of things I’d like to do–work out, read, check some website I’m fond of–before I get to the writing, which can sometimes feel like work. So I’m scheduling writing time–I keep this blog going, after all, I’ve written several novels, and I’m getting others ready for publication–but I can’t shake that I could be doing more with my time.

Is it a balance issue, then? What if I wrote to the exclusion of other things I like to do with my time? I know what would happen: I’;d feel as guilty as I would if I, say, worked out to the exclusion of my writing and other things that interest me.

And then I look to my heroes in writing the way I looked to my heroes in music, and realize I don’t measure up.

For example, when I tried to make a go as a musician, I’d look to my idols like Frank Zappa, Prince,and David Bowie, how ridiculously prolific they were, and get sort of depressed by my own inadequacy.

Likewise, looking at guys like Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the aforementioned Walter B. Gibson, I start to fall into the same trap.

But the important things to remember are that these guys did this for a living, and they weren’t getting paid the big bucks (or having the massive TV/movie deals) the way guys do today. So they had to write to pay the bills.

Me? I’m doing this solely for the love of it . . . for the time being.

Stephen King and Dean Koontz are two super-rich authors I can think of off the top of my head who pumped out tons of books in their heyday, even when they’d already received financial success. I can’t help think of guys like George R. R. Martin, though, who acts as though he actually hates writing.

Enough musing! What to do about it? Here are some things that work for me, both physically and psychologically. I hope they help! Continue reading “An Undisciplined Writer”

A Plague of Free Thinkers

Ever since a certain music superstar of a certain chromatic disposition tweeted out his approval of the a similarly melanated individual’s cognitive workings–a person who happens to occupy a different spot on the political spectrum than most of her co-colorists–“free thinker” has been bandied about by a whole lot of people to describe themselves.

It’s an utterly meaningless term that is so smarmy and self-righteous it makes me want to puke.

Everybody on Earth think’s they’re a free thinker. Every one. Unless you are literally under some form of mind control (for example, under threat of physical violence or imprisonment or other harsh penalties for not expressing certain viewpoints), all of us think we arrived at our viewpoints based on thinking freely about all available options, looking at things from every side’s perspective, being open-minded, and so on.

The only problem is that it’s all nonsense. We have a plague of “free thinkers.”

People have biases. People have trouble overcoming biases. People are often not even aware of their biases. People also almost to a man think that they’re smarter than the average person, or even the above-average person, on every topic imaginable–call it Dunning-Kruger if you must, but I like the term illusory superiority.

I ask you again, then, what makes your thinking freer than that other guy’s thinking?

More often than not, the measure of the other guy’s status and ability as a free thinker is how well the other guy’s conclusions match with your own. If that proverbial other guy agrees with you, then wow! You’ve found another free thinker! But if their conclusions don’t align with yours, then I guess they’re just an unthinking, brainwashed buffoon. There can’t be any other explanation, right?

If you can’t see the problem with this line of thinking, then you are a part of the problem.

This line of thinking is what demagogues and propagandists of all stripes and persuasions use to build and condition their little armies–and sometimes their big armies–into believing that they are utterly right about everything and the other guy is utterly devoid of humanity. And when you have a scapegoat who’s not even human, the only sane, rational, and good answer is to completely stomp them out.

If you’ve ever wondered what can drive somebody to get really violent over a difference of political opinion, well, here’s part of the answer.

Being right feels good. This explains the asinine “We’re on the right side of history!” argument political terrorists use to punish those who disagree, because they’re obviously on the wrong side of history, and wrong is bad and needs to be exterminated.

The answer isn’t to be full of constant self-doubt and hold nothing ever to be true. This is a different kind of plague, one that we see writ large in the majority of modern European societies. They have questioned everything about themselves to the point of bottomless self-loathing; they don’t even believe their own societies should exist anymore, and are acting accordingly.

And let me tell you, I’m sure all of them think they’re the freest of free thinkers who ever freely thought.

And they’re right. They can probably explain to you how they reached their conclusions.

This, I think, is the distinction between “free thinkers” and “not free thinkers”–if you insist on using this terminology. Not whether the person agrees with you, but whether you can actually explain how you reached a conclusion and why.

Continue reading “A Plague of Free Thinkers”

Being Nigel

I recently expressed some of my dissatisfaction with my current career:

It received much more of a response than I expected, but I stand by this statement 100 percent. And it’s not “yardwork” per se that I enjoy (though I do). It’s actually creating something and doing something that does not involve wallowing in minutiae while sitting at a computer for eight or more hours per day.

There is a deep undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the contemporary office job. This is for two main reasons:

  1. It is highly unnatural; and
  2. There is little to nothing to show for your efforts.

Where’s the sense of accomplishment in shuffling through emails? What pride can there be in spending hours contributing something infinitesimally minute to some project that you have no ownership over and does not affect you?

And in the case of law, everything is air. Everything is made up. A law doesn’t exist. It’s a shared fiction that everybody agrees to abide by under pain of financial injury or physical imprisonment. However, these things can be changed relatively quickly–today’s wrong is tomorrow’s right.

Plus, it all keeps coming. All of it. There is no end to the busy work.

This can’t be unique to law, but at least some other jobs probably provide a more tangible sense of accomplishment. I think of somebody working on creating software, or designing a building, or even a guy on an assembly line or out landscaping: At the end of the day, you’ve created a thing. I know it’s easy to romanticize physical labor, and I know it often doesn’t pay as well as our wonderful brand new “service economy.” But hear me out.

Remember the movie City Slickers? Remember when it’s “Career Day” at Billy Crystal’s character’s son’s school and the other dads have interesting jobs, but Billy Crystal’s character, who sells advertising space on radio stations, finally admits that he “sells air”?

That’s a lot of us out here today. Men, especially. No wonder Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby decide to do something traditionally masculine and become cowboys. It’s a comedy, sure, but there’s an undercurrent of something real there.

Some days, I have an overwhelming urge to fight. I want to fight and get hit and hit other people and not know if I’m going to make it. I want to bleed as much as I want to make others bleed.

Other days, I want to go out in the forest, chop some trees, and build a house. Or a palace. Or make a castle out of huge rocks. Just because.

Although I hate the term “midlife crisis,” because it’s usually used to mock men who are unhappy with their work situations, the feeling is totally understandable. And I’ll tell you what I think it stems from: doing what we were told we should do. Continue reading “Being Nigel”

Book Review: We, the Two by Dominika Lein

Step once again into the weird space between life and death, where souls are food for the strong-willed and the ruthless with We, the Twoby Dominika Lein. We, the Two is Lein’s follow-up to I, the One, one of the coolest, creepiest short stories I read last year.

We, the Two focuses on two of I, the One‘s antagonists, the brother-and-sister team of Hanhoka and Hinim, etheric beings of great power who prey on souls and rule their realms. They make their way to a weird marketplace of souls, searching for souls to consume . . . but strange things are afoot, even stranger than the scene decaying city around them.

First are the cultists formerly devoted to a powerful being called Arcana, who now seem to worship Hinom, much to Hanhoka’s surprise . Then there’s the Soul Hunter who somehow made her way into the realm, capturing souls from under the twos’ noses. Even stranger are Hinom’s intimations that he plans to challenge the Almighty Himself so that their ability to consume souls can continue unabated.  Continue reading “Book Review: We, the Two by Dominika Lein”

They Fought for What?

My grandfather fought the Nazis in World War II as a member of the United States Army. His older brother lost his life in the same war when his ship went down somewhere in the English Channel. My grandfather died in 2009, the victim of an enemy even worse than Nazis: leukemia, which is really just a different kind of cancer than Naziism, but deadlier because you can’t fight it with bullets and bombs.

(For any idiots ready to scream “anti-Semite!” or “Nazi sympathizer!” at me because I referred to cancer as worse than Naziism, kiss my ass. You’re the kind of people this post is directed at.)

I think long and often about what, exactly, my family and millions of others have right and died for over the years of this country’s existence. What would my grandfather say about the land he gave up his youth to fight for?

I know, actually. He’d be even more utterly disgusted by it than he was in 2009.

A former colleague fought in Somalia and other God-forsaken parts of the world when he was a young man. And for what? To paraphrase him, a bunch of his buddies–poor white, black, and Hispanic guys, mostly from the South and the Midwest–got limbs blown off, or worse, for some kind of misguided peace mission.

My best friend’s brother almost died several times in Iraq. His best friend did die, victim of an IED some jihadi that the US probably funded planted on a well-known route used by coalition forces.

And for what?

As the nature of what even being an American changes (or is deliberately obfuscated, depending on who you ask), and America finds itself unable to decisively win any conflict against enemies foreign and domestic, it makes you wonder about the legacy brave men and women gave up their lives for.

What did they preserve or save? Continue reading “They Fought for What?”

American Blasphemy

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing irreverence to God, or any other deity if that’s how you roll. But it also applies to anything considered sacred. And while we’ve abolished blasphemy laws in the West, at least as applied to Christianity (yay, I guess?), we still have blasphemy laws up the wazoo and don’t kid yourselves.

Sacred cows are alive and well in these United States. I’m going to speak blasphemously here, but let’s just say that your personal feelings and attitudes towards sodomy and it’s practitioners or baby killing, or even firearms ownership, can make you a persona non grata here in America . . . if they’re the wrong decision.

If you are of a certain chromatic disposition, saying the exact same thing as another can either be a-okay or complete verboten, enough to remove you from polite society.

You don’t even have to say anything mean or hateful. Just “wrong.”

Meanwhile, it seems like the only religions that have any sort of protection against verbal assault, no matter how mild, are either of the indigenous variety, or the one whose adherents get rather stabby/bomby at the merest hint of criticism.

So essentially, blasphemy laws, the current state of which in America is a weird and deadly combination of the hecklers’ and assassins’ veto. Continue reading “American Blasphemy”