Month in Review

Far out! Thomas done gone fell down a rabbit hole, same said rabbit hole he’s been meaning to explain with grace, though in that rabbit hole Alice is wearing ruby slippers. Metaphorical re-tellings of such grand metaphors were thwarted by Pop & Dam, who are punishing Thomas’ enamoured indiscretions with postal lacadaisicality. Sylvia would not be pleased.

Kaz went and got 3 & 0 on us, joining the rest of the fam, but all wait with breath (bated) to see what Cecil makes of this. Retardo is too far gone to work up empathy.

The chicken tractor is in remission, blamable on Dingo Nick [real name] {homage, not theft}, who ran away with his digger. Luckily the Progeny of Dingo saved the day, two weeks late, with some quick shovel work. All we’re waiting for is the fowl arrivals. And maybe a motor.

Thomas, still falling, is getting used to the sensation, yet can’t help but wonder where the bottom is. Obama’s prize was dynamite (metaphorical) which he seems to have gotten for turning up. Kind of like tutorials.

Sought Suzie sussed out skype (still waiting on that call…) but MG couldn’t figure out how to work the writer’s see-saw, which is fine, the crowd yells, as long as someone turns up naked.

No word on Leo, and less on Esme, but rumour has that Daniel called his Poppa pudgy (spelled out in luminescent green) which made VeeJay giggle and poke him in the belly (one would hope).

Did Kaz ever wonder if she’d ripped off Razz? And does that make Emma Ham? And where is Timmy? All shoulder and paste? Timmy! Has anyone heard of skype?

No word (who is nicking the damn words?) on Jagger’s pants – leather vs corduroy? corduroy vs leather? Could you decide Mr. Bollinger?

There was no getting to see Jenny and her magic couch (to talk about rabbit holes) leading to further falling – though by now Thomas is questioning directionality, thinking, maybe, down is up and up is down and the world keeps spinning round, like a record baby, right round, round round. Though that’s no reason to forgive you your Phil.

Marcus thinks he might swear too much.

…Heather died.

Maybe the world is upside down.

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New Things

It’s funny how new things bring states and sensations that are not only hard to predict but are usually counter to the intended effect. We often say we’re seeking change just for the sake of it, throwing ourselves at something unpredictable in an effort to shake something loose inside us. But when we choose something new, be it music, a shirt, some new place or situation, the idea is to bring on a specific change – there usually being some really specific ideas involved, highly conceptualized results desired. Irony wins again! We get what we asked for instead of what we wished for: we’re quickly immersed in new, sometimes uncomfortable, and always revealing, perspectives.

I bought a fairly expensive zip-up hoodie a couple of months back, it was a concession to myself as I was feeling like shit and thought that indulging in a fashion ubiquity, one I’d been slightly guilty and embarrassed about liking, would improve my mood – I would, however briefly, be street cool. Instead it just made me feel old. Which was okay, actually. Kind of helpful, in fact. Ultimately the hoodie just made me feel exactly as cool, fashionistically speaking, as I’ve always been, which would accurately be described as un.

It’s a small example, I can totally do better.

A while back I made a couple of pretty big changes, circumstantially and philosophically, in an effort to bring on the tumult of life. It was meant to disrupt and then sand blast the chaff away from my psyche and soul, leaving me raw, fresh and totally sensitive to my new surroundings. I think in my head I would be hotter too. It was meant to reveal the real me, all undimmed and radiant. It was to be dramatic: transformation through trauma. [aside: everyone was to be terribly impressed]. Instead the tumult and turbulence not only failed to manifest this being but actually subsided below normal levels, consequently bringing to the surface aspects and vantages that I’d hoped would be the chaff.

Intention seems to be blind and perspective wears cleats (it needs traction to properly leverage the kick to the nuts, you see). Plus, everyone should be aware, irony is a motherfucker.

Perspective is definitely the thing and people, annoyingly enough, are the key. People are the changing perspective that takes a static image and make it all swooshy and 3D. They keep on moving around you, looking at the same things you’re looking at, and saying stuff, fucking up the clear sight line you thought you had to the horizon. I realized, at some point (let us pretend it was long ago), that my penchant for solitude to aid clarification and enlightenment, was often just retrenching. Remove the hard stuff from your view and you don’t have to work so hard to focus around it.

I don’t mean to bash solitude, me and solitude have totally got each other’s back, it’s just that if you’re using solitude to abridge your existence rather than adapt it the time would be better spent with your hand down your pants (I don’t mean to bash masturbation… oh, wait…). I reckon, after one has taken one’s space in order to facilitate a process of inner harmonization, if that harmonization can’t take contact with people then it’s not harmony, it’s just humming with your fingers jammed knuckle deep in your ears.

By consequence choosing someone new in your life is a huge thing; the instant, unforeseeable perspective jars and quests at you, forcing knowledge both ways, through the sieve of evolving personal context. It’s said that the great thing about a new person in your life is that you get to retell all your favourite stories, reveling in the fun and drama. It seems to me that it’s the shake up they get under someone else’s gaze; these old truths, myths and legends getting a good airing so you can see which bits have rusted and fallen off. The bits that fall off tell you stuff in quiet, clunky whispers no one else can hear.

Our stories always change because the end is forever different. I love getting the chance to hear my friends tell new people stories I heard years before – spot the differences and figure out what changed and why. I used to think it was lying but it’s really the opposite of that.

So coming to know someone is ultimately renewing, allowing a triangulation of selves that promises or hints at all sorts of stuff in the past and future. It can be really disconcerting stuff, no matter how cool and exciting, but only if you venture a certain distance into that new relationship, embracing it and being willing to live with it’s redefinitions and challenges. And that’s why the gods gave us orgasms. It’s a balance thing.

Fuck Freedom

(This is a speech I wrote for my brother while we were living in London, a few years back. He was meant to stand on a soapbox and drown out the nuts who these days occupy Speaker’s Corner with his own vehement nuttiness. He never did though, the puss.)

It’s a wide world of wonder folks, a grand old garden. We can do some pretty neat stuff here! We can marvel at the crystal clear blue sky and the fluffy white clouds. We can admire the animal life, naming it should it take our fancy. We can eat the fruit fresh from the trees (well, all except that one). We can wander about our garden innocent of all things evil. Skip! Play! It’s a beautiful day, damn it! Beautiful!

Our garden is great, something wondrous, but be careful, whatever you do, if you see a snake, don’t talk to it! Coz there’s this tree, see, and if we do but eat of it… well it’s all over then. Paradise lost. All chips in on a busted straight. But no worries, eh? It’s an old story, one we all know. We wouldn’t listen to that snake, no sirree; we wouldn’t fall for its reptilian charm. No eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge for us. We’re onto that snake – we know its game. Adam and Eve, they went for it, but not us, uh-uh, we know what evil looks like – we’re smarter, more experienced. We’re free, we choose good. Rainbows and Sunshine. It’s that easy.

Happiness and Satisfaction.

Joy and Laughter.

However, that’s not the world we live in. We live in the West, the heart of civilization. Sure it’s not utopia but hell, it beats living in Afghanistan, Israel or Kosovo. Better than East Timor. And it certainly kicks the shit out of Iraq (nothing like army units full of Americans armed to the teeth with heavy ordinance and self righteousness to fuck up your decade).

We live in none of these places but we’re hardly free are we? The government has had our number for some time now – we’re well sorted. Government, honestly, for an elected, representative body that’s main purpose is to keep us happy, healthy and prosperous they’re a bit… you know what? It doesn’t even matter, barely relevant in fact. It’s not like they’re in charge anyway. Let’s face it: the state no longer controls our lives unencumbered. Their influence is now, if not eclipsed, then at least severely mitigated by corporate interests – corporate interests that care less for our individual well being than the government did. And it’s not accidental. In fact it’s not even subtle. And it’s not like our leaders past and present didn’t see it coming. These elected authorities, these people’s representatives, these end products of the great democratic dream, these arseholes entertained and adopted corporate wants and desires willingly, even enthusiastically, just to expedite them and their cronies getting their grubby hands on the second hand pieces of our pie.

It’s important to be realistic about certain things in democratic life.

(But they can’t fool us – we can spot that snake! We’re smart; we know what evil looks like. We’ll remain safe in our garden.)

Yet all the state owned, thus people owned, institutions keep on disappearing. All the state owned, i.e. general publics, assets keep vanishing. Worry not though friends, the corporations found them, all safe and sound, and they promise to look after them – for just a nominal fee.

(I know what bad people look like, can’t slip that snake past me!)

So: our duly elected take what, democratically speaking, we own, and sell it to private business concerns who, in turn, stick their dicks in our collective arse and, with some vigorous to-ing and fro-ing, proceed to shake what little savings our taxes have left us out of our pockets. This, so the press secretaries and ministers tell us, is privitisation with the dual aim of trimming fiscal fat from the budget while increasing lower price competition for the benefit of the consumer.

Ooooh! They did it for us!

Whatever. All I know is that I can’t afford to go see the doctor about my stretched and bleeding sphincter. We elect the bastards; they’re meant to be on our side! I don’t find this encouraging.

(Where’s that snake? I’m so tired. And hungry. Hey, look! An apple. Mmmmm.)

We’re asked to pay our taxes, we’re asked to be a contributing member of society, to make ourselves accountable to the system that, apparently, works so hard for us. We’re asked this by people who sell our assets, limit our liberties, make us unhappy and lie to us constantly. And, for this, we’re told to be grateful.

We need to learn to throw our gratitude at different things.

So when the politicians try to dictate social terms, when they try to appeal to our duty as voting citizens in order to facilitate the implementation of the ‘new’ policies. When they ask us for anything at all, just remember that their dignified, stoic, image consulted, pleading lips have been kissing big business arse and eating multi-national shit to meet no one’s ends but their own.

Don’t pay homage to the state when asked, those corporate sycophants don’t deserve it; they lost any respect that remained their due when they sold their soul to the economic devil.

Don’t respect ‘the Man’; don’t listen to the state or pledge loyalty to the corpse of an ideal state. Fight the government, rebel against the controlling corporate dollar. Bite the hand that refuses to feed you. Break rules and laws. Don’t love a status quo that serves the interests of those completely disinterested in yours. Don’t love cynical rhetoric that describes a non-existent nation.

If you’re going to love anything, love life. Love life and whatever freedom it engenders. Love your freedom, woo your freedom, caress it, hold it, whisper unto it sweet everythings. Grab it, feel it, grope it.

Fuck freedom, make it come.

Nature me not your Nurture

In my teens I became obsessed with what I was. I wanted to understand what made me me. If I could understand the pieces, where and how they fit, my personality would become my playground. Things would become governable, I’d be able to take the pieces that made me socially awkward and inept, move them around and, voila, dapper and charming. I’d craft myself to any and all situations, alleviating building pressure that would crush my comprehension of myself (strangely I thought I comprehended the world) and be an improved person. I would become a man of emotional and intellectual Lego, removing and adding pieces until I was better, stronger, faster – like Steve Austin, just on a budget.

So I would read little bits and bobs about brain function and so forth, write them down and slowly piece together the machine that was me. It’s safe to say that I was a devotee of the mechanistic universe, a cheerleader for Descartes, Bacon and the Scientific Method. A Lego cheerleader shaking nature’s breasts as pom-poms.

And for a while I thought I’d done it – figured myself out. I’m a Stabile Introvert, you see. Also an INTJ. And some other stuff. I knew which cups the peas were under, all I had to do was move them round fast enough to dazzle the crowd. Needless (I hope) to say, things have changed.

I often wonder what my younger self would make of me now. I’m pretty sure there would be the embarrassed shuffling of feet and furtive avoidance of eye contact. We’d probably have to talk about our hair and what happened to it just to save ourselves from Older Me ranting about interconnectivity, systems theory and the folly of believing the universe a controllable machine, requiring only sufficient understanding of the parts to reveal its secrets, something that would no doubt be followed by Younger Me calling me a chicken-shit hippy wannabe that can’t grasp the elegance of a rational, truthful and unforgiving cosmos. Something like that. The younger me would eventually ask, in a hushed and horrified voice, if I believed in God now. I’d probably say yes, just to fuck with him.

The change in my perception of such things came about through various shards of knowledge, more and more found pieces shaping those that came before them, leaving me hopelessly confused. Until, with great relief, I gave up my need for a mechanistic universe or, more to the point, mechanistic people (the latter obviating the argument for the former). Let me try to walk you through some of my headache:

Extraversion and introversion are commonly understood traits but there are physical causes for them that aren’t widely known. The extra/intro traits have been traced back to a group of brain cells in the brain stem called the ‘ascending reticular activating system’, these cells ultimately determine levels of arousal (activity you dirty bastards) in the cerebral cortex. Physiologically speaking, extroversion is linked to resting states of low cortical arousal and introversion is linked to resting states of high cortical arousal. So when at mental rest the extrovert’s intellect is in neutral while the introvert’s, in the same position, only gets as low as second gear.

The outward displays of being an extrovert or introvert come about because the cortex inhibits the lower centres of the brain, and when it (the cortex) isn’t aroused (extrovert) actions become dictated more by the impulses and desires of the lower centres of the brain. If the cortex is aroused (introvert) then those same impulses and desires don’t get through as often as they have to go through the active filter of the cortex. Extroversion = uninhibited, introversion = inhibited.

An excellent demonstration is the effect of alcohol on the two kinds of traits: Alcohol lowers cortical arousal, thus promoting excited and uninhibited behaviour – a drunk extrovert is usually just an amplified version of themselves but a drunk introvert will often behave very differently to their sober character.

It is important to point out that one’s natural cortical resting state, be it high or low, doesn’t dictate levels of intelligence in any way.

Now. Stabile and labile are less well known but just as concreted by empirical evidence. An individual’s brain can be dominated by either the sympathetic or parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, this is the area of the brain where thoughts and actions are initially processed.  The sympathetic branch (labile) responds to outside stimuli and alerts the organism (being the brain and body) to immediate action. If dominated by the sympathetic branch a person is excitable and tends to act quickly on hunches, best guesses and experience. Labiles can make pretty awesome sword fighters.

The parasympathetic branch (stabile) habituates the organism to stimulus and restores the body to balance very quickly, thus stabiles tend to be more placid and react very calmly and thoughtfully to events around them. The result of this is that in an emergency it’s safer to be standing next to a stabile but somewhat more exciting standing next to a labile.

It’s worth noting that while labile traits and extroversion along with stabile traits and introversion often come as a package deal, it isn’t a physically dictated relationship; that person you know who is charismatic, a natural leader and kicks arse in fights with ninjas yet remains cool, calm and considered under pressure will most likely be a stabile extrovert – that sort of person can sometimes be identified by the adoring crowds that follow them around throwing underwear.

Okay, as far as personality types that’s fine, there’s more in that area (sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic) but that’s getting more general and into the area of effect rather than cause.

The cause and effect of brain and personality function is essentially the nature versus nurture debate, a debate I think is largely over-hyped by our blind obsession with binary relationships and dichotomies. In terms of the brain I think confusing the hardware and the software is where the problems start, something compounded by our cultural confusion over ‘civilized’ and ‘primitive’ behaviour and our quest to define ourselves as culturally and historically unique. The One or the Other! The universe must adhere to our determined dichotomization! (maybe dichotomization is more about an inherent cultural mechanism rather than a functioning universal or biological truth… Bob Loblaw).

That’s not to say that the hardware and software (nature vs. nurture) don’t interact and inform each other in hugely significant ways, that is kind of the point of their relationship. Habit formation is proof of that: by doing a thing or thinking a thought repetitively you burn a neural pathway, a pathway that once burnt is quite hard to reroute. The ability to form that pathway is the brain’s learning hardware (nature), but the formed pathway represents the cultural software (nurture).

It’s easy to see the hardware but questioning one’s software is ridiculously hard because it is, quite literally, the way we think (not how). We burn our pathways as children, when we’re learning junkies (nature) but as adults look at our hardware through the eyes of our software, deciding, obviously, that we were always meant to be this way, making ourselves fated beings, imagining that our brains are made up of memes and genes and that, thanks to evolution, what will come from us is nigh on unavoidable (a round of applause for Mister Dawkins!). It’s essentially the same process as believing that J.C. is going to pop up at some point in the near future and usher in Judgment Day; it’s all a matter of belief in principles and rules that use their internal architecture of reasoning as the standard of measure of all other beliefs. Nurture defining nature, at least in effect.

Biology isn’t fate, no matter what our software tells us. Biology is interactive and fun, like sex. But our software has become so self-obsessed that it now believes it is hardware (nature). Our software (nurture) is our culture informing us of it’s operating principles, its rules and dictates, and that culture is the medium we use to transmit our beliefs and practices down the timeline through our children’s children’s children, etc. (assuming our nurture hasn’t totally screwed with our sex lives, that is).

One of the obvious problems this dysfunctional relationship between our hardware and software is that we have become cultural supremacists, totally devoted to the premise that the way we live is the one right way to live (sure we can tweak it but generally we’ve pretty much got it nailed). No other way will be tolerated (for evidence of this see any and all colonial ventures in history). To make it confusing, look at it this way: our nurture is convinced it is our nature, (which is why we’re convinced memes & genes are the same thing) thus we deny that our culture is a made up thing. We make ourselves fated beings by defining ourselves as a natural force, something undeniable, something inexorable (and probably ineffable), a thing that we consequently don’t need to make excuses or apologies for. We have done for the biosphere what Ptolemy did for astronomy.

Brains, like the universe, construct stuff from found things. Stuff and Things. Tinkering with ideas and implications, a bricolage from the rummaged notions and manifestations of the surrounding world, is, in its totality, an uncontrollable process. If you accept the resulting mosaic as truth unbending and absolute you’re abdicating responsibility in the hopes of control. If you’re unwilling to question your parts as a bricoleur then all you end up building is a cage.

Words and Lies and Truth and Stuff

Words are a sacrosanct thing to me. Which isn’t to say I’m a grammar Nazi, as such, more like a meaning fascist. Words are intent, they are promises – they’re things that bind. Little gets my panties in a twist more than hollow words, sentences and statements that lack motive force. I don’t require that all that I read or hear be true, far from it, just that it be meant. A lie is almost as interesting, on average, as a truth. What someone is willing to or needs to lie about is fascinating and incredibly revealing. The funniest people are those that mean what they’re saying. The smartest people are those that know what they mean. Boring people are those that can do neither.

I follow the things I lie about with close attention – and I don’t mean big, formulated lies that deceive people for ignoble purpose, I mean the little lies that sprint from your cortex and escape your lips before you realise because, for whatever reason, the truth isn’t tolerable at that moment. Destructive lies are horrendous things I desperately try to avoid; hardly anything will make me feel worse than lies as weapons, though one of those things is the truth as a weapon, through blasé disregard for others or blind adherence to the bullshit dictum that truth is paramount, always. But lies as self-defence, be it my own or someone else’s, that shit draws my attention immediately. It’s like bird watching, just without the anoraks. I’ve had the opportunity, recently, to come face to face with some lies I’ve been telling myself for years, the sort of lies that are told, internally (though by natural progression they made their way to the external world), so often that they became set in the paths and walls of my psyche so I could only see the cracks if I stopped and looked closely. Yank those lies out, as I did with differing levels of disgust, and suddenly your balance goes and your vision blurs because the infrastructure had grown used to their support; nothing is stable for a while. It can be pretty freaky. Lies are important, is the lesson I learned, and should be treated with respect.

I like honesty. Someone who is honest with others and themselves – not to the point when you’re telling your workmates why it is exactly you keep the Vaseline on your nightstand, of course (please lie and tell me it’s for chapped lips, because that’s what I used it for last time I was at your place), that can just be upsetting. And honesty is not something I necessary confuse with truth; truth implies full disclosure, regardless of circumstance, while honesty can be the pieces by which the jigsaw of truth is made. Sounds trite, sure, but seriously, fuck you, sometimes I’m trite; honesty is a process by which you can reach some truth. They’re pieces of each other and thus hard to define (as I’m proving). Saying you like or dislike something is being honest, saying you like or dislike it because the neighbourhood weirdo used to insert his pinky finger up your butt while singing Yellow Submarine, is the truth. Both have their place and importance, you really just need to pick that place and it’s importance carefully because they don’t all lead to happy endings.

(Don’t worry; I don’t even know the words to Yellow Submarine).

The measure of honesty, maybe, is the person who is willing to be honest even if it impacts on their social standing. Seeing someone who’ll be honest because they recognise it as a process to reaching some truth, rather than as a shock tactic or leverage point, is an impressive and inspiring sight. They understand the ideas of social lubrication, and apply said lubrication when required, but are willing to be honest, of themselves and about others, even when it won’t necessarily serve them to be so. You can trust people like that (whether you choose to or not may say something else). I’ve met someone like that. She’s pretty awesome – and I mean awesome in the original sense rather than the surfer sense (though there is something of that in there too).

Words and what they mean are like a compass, telling you where you’re standing. I need meaningful exchanges with people before I can talk shit (which is fun, I don’t mean to knock the talking of shit) – I just need to know where everyone is. Because of all this, as one would imagine, and many could attest to, I really suck at small talk. Which I’m okay with.

Month in Review

Thomas started the month with an internet crush on a distant philosopher which may have evolved into cyber-stalking if not for the lyrical devotion he soon found elsewhere, while 88, in turn, stalked Thomas unrelentingly on Facebook and proved that perseverance does pay off when pursuing your dreams.

Little Dan proved he could poo and Big Dan’s Little One proved resistant to popping, regardless of how Pipping felt, all while Stupid Dan published a Stupid Book about people who like shaking hands in the dark. Adventures with verbage and Hyperion brought on fond reminisce about Devoted Dan, but that’s really as involved as he got (though he is always in our hearts).

Federer got rogered.

The dogs remained undoggy and the cats remained absconded (with little old ladies made of grey) but the real issue was the chicken tractor and it’s impendingness. The doves and half-breed pigeons did come into play, insofar as their excrement may prove hazardous to various waterways and food sources, yet the real issue no one was dealing with was their avian mortality and what it’s extinguishment could mean to the family as a whole.

Their were fights lost (metaphorical) and fights won (symbolically), the favourite trackpants of love (red) were damned to hell while courduroy was traded as barbs (with love) and for leather (due to love) and all the while pleasing reestablishment was made, for one, with the Moon and all it’s graceful mysteries. There was whether that was weathered and performances that were wuthered (gratefully) and there were uncomfortable moments that required decisions about whether and whence. But everything turned out okay.

Miss Robin ventured onto much ground rarely trod, with excellent comportment and bright hope for margaritas (and other words starting with M). Little Esme can now sit tall while Not Quite so Little Leo is apparently climbing up the walls. Hank is fucking enormous. FC, KD and MG wondered what on earth they were going to do with Mr. Jagger’s trousers, which was a surprisingly pressing question.

But if one thing became clear it is that Shannon Hoon’s hand is still mighty, influencing much regarding joy and rockicity.

Telling Truths

I’ve been tagged with a meme by a blogger who I’ve come to really enjoy reading: phoenixaeon, a gently introspective blog I’ve become increasingly attached to over time. ‘Memes’ equate to online chain letters (however inaccurately named), something I grew allergic to at primary school, but this task interested me: say ten honest things about myself and then pass on the task to seven blogging friends. I’m not going to do the latter, for various reasons, not all good, and the first… well that’s the hook. I was thinking about truth telling in this context, on and off, as I was digging trenches yesterday and it really caught my interest. Now, I could bash out any number of ‘true things’ about myself (I seriously contemplate, almost daily, the sense in wearing undies with the seams on the inside [1]) but what actual use would knowing that be to anyone in my life? Does it require revelations of a more intimate nature (unexpectedly catching glimpses of myself in mirrors often freaks me out quite seriously [2]) in order to be worthwhile? Intimate knowledge is what others have presented with this meme, yet I can’t help but ask the same question: what use is that knowledge to anyone in my life? Sure it allows people to get to know me better, but not for any good reason. If someone wants to know me better they only have to ask me questions (I take answering personal questions very seriously: honesty or nothing [3]), one way or another they’ll get a better idea of me.

I’ve told various truths about myself, in previous blog entries, that I was surprised to be comfortable with. I assume that truth telling in this capacity is what other bloggers, phoenixaen included, are partaking of: truths as a process of personal revelation, where the telling is more important than the told (my 4th to last relationship failure was a relief [4]). But, for me, the process of these truths emerging mattered deeply to the process. I’m not sure the generation of ejaculatory truth is something I’m capable of doing with any particular feeling. I wonder at the worth, for me, of telling such truths out of context. I like answering questions and having questions answered, and I like telling the truth, but delivery matters enormously. It’s not just about the money shot. Context binds truth to it’s own ends, so if you’re controlling the context you’re controlling the truth (I hate, fucking hate, post-modernist philosophising [5]). So when I control the context as much as I am now, what truths am I actually telling? What can a reader take from this? (I’m not going to tell you [6]).

I’ve always thought that truths about people are more interesting when you know something about them that they don’t. Not something they don’t know you know (that can be as dangerous as it is interesting) but something they themselves don’t know.

The act of telling the truth can be one of subtle deception – the little omissions that unbalance a story or confession make the truth told a lame creature, lacking in it’s natural power. These are the truths most of us tell, I think. Not necessarily out of a desire to deceive but rather of a desire to protect ourselves. It’s like a peace offering, an enticement: treat this truth well and more perfectly formed ones will follow. Look for what is absent in a person’s truth and you might see what they really want to tell you (I used to look down my friend’s top when we play-fought [7]).

Personally I opt for white noise; tell a lot of truth and you can effectively bury the relevance of it in an avalanche of information. The point of the avalanche is not concealment, per se, it’s a weeding process of sorts. Only those who are listening will glean important information, putting together larger images – truth as a jigsaw puzzle. (I often place my words in the anecdotal mouths of others [8]).

Knowledge, truth and meaning, three interactive concepts that warp each other with their variable gravities, are deeply malleable things (I like being smart but I envy the clever [9]). I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about capabilities: psychological studies have revealed that the hallmark of true incompetence is the inability to question one’s competence. It simply never occurs to some people that they’re terrible at what they’re doing. That can be frustrating when encountered, but it occurs to me that the more dangerous prospect is someone who is exceedingly competent at something yet, also, never questions that competence; there’s an obsessive potential there that could crush all before it. At least the incompetent fall over.

The essential quality for knowledge, truth, meaning and competency is doubt. Doubt is the element that gives dimension to a concept, it makes you move your head to better see the side of a thing, to better understand how much you can’t see. Doubt slows you down and makes you better appreciate whatever quality and quantity of truth you’re lucky enough to encounter.

(Three of these ten truths are lies [10]).

Possibly a little smart arse-ish at the end there?