Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I am not an atheist. I am an agnostic.

An agnostic is someone who believes it is not possible to know whether God does or does not exist.

An atheist is an immoral pervert trying to corrupt our children.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Define sane" Pt.2: An Afterthought: What About Mental Illness?

~ This post is a Part Two. There was also a Part One. ~

I just realized something that might strike some as odd. In my previous post answering the tired ol' challenge "Define sane!" - I didn't so much as touch on mental illness. I kind of forgot to.

Well, why should I though? Why should I touch on mental illness. I was defining sanity. I realize a lot of people seem to think mental illness is on one end of a scale that has sanity at its other end. Even more people, unable to so much as say what "sane" is or means, define sanity as an absence of insanity. These people are dolts!

Well okay, not "dolts," necessarily, maybe. But they can't be thinking things through! Sanity is a positive strength, a faculty, a virtue - a superpower almost. It's not simply an absence of insanity - sanity is not the absence of impaired sanity. You could with as much sense and justification define light as the absence of darkness - the absence of the absence of light. This is a mystical, circular, ridiculous way of looking at things.

Certainly, mental illness can impair sanity. Can be a cause of insanity. Insanity can be the result of mental illness - though it isn't always. Where the mental illness is serious, or the episode is a bad one, mental illness can create a psychotic break - can upset or disable an individual's ability to do the two things a sane person can do: see reality, and act appropriately (aspects already treated thoroughly in previous post). But most people who have a mental illness, diagnosed or not diagnosed, treated or untreated, are not insane.

They have sanity. Sometimes compromised to a degree, but often as unimpaired as most anyone else. They can see reality, act appropriately.

Mental illness is not the same as insanity. You could not even call it "the" cause of insanity as if there is only one cause. In humans, there is a great deal of insanity - the critical inability to see reality or act appropriately - which is not caused by disease.

Sanity is not simply "the lack of insanity."

Sanity is a smooth and cool and calm and powerful thing.

Being at one with one's world, or at least, having the ability to circle it fairly close in, and join it at will. The power to work within it, to grasp and make contact with the objects and surfaces and concepts others see and grasp and make contact with. Maybe not the exact same grip! Maybe not the exact same hold, but a strong and useful grasp nonetheless. The ability to see and set appropriate goals, so that you can produce effects aimed at...well, whatever it is you're realistically trying to do! Whatever you dedicate your sanity to.

Sanity is more precious than happiness to me. We've seen and been crushed by horrible things; horrible things pop happiness like a bubble. Happiness won't get you through them.

But hold on. Sanity can.

Friday, June 06, 2014

So What's Wrong With You Lately?

I feel like almost everything happens because I didn't do the right thing to stop it. I feel like if I did more to be more or less perfect, the problems of the world would be awesome! But without the secret that everyone else seems to have no problem getting along without, how can I possibly make the same difference they do?

It's like everybody secretly knows, and I don't, and everybody secretly knows that I don't and every day that goes by is another day closer to when they spring it on me, and ask. Probably right in front of everybody! Probably right as I walk into a darkened room, and hit the light switch - and they're all hiding in there, SURPRISE!!? And then what do I tell them? I don't know what to tell them!

All I do every day is try to hide the red rim of panic around my eyes and smile, smile, smile. Because even if they don't know I don't know - at some point somebody's going to just slip up, and ask me by accident. I don't know what's going to happen then!

But I bet I just "pull it off all slick" like I always do. Another reprieve.

Another stay of execution.

If there were a governor or a president I could petition, to nix this never-ending guilty sentence I'm living under, I would fight to publicize my cause like a 1970s social consciousness drama! With me the hero, in bellbottom corduroys, righteously making waves for the justice that "the man" wants to pretend isn't there - but all the grass roots dudes pulling together eventually make inevitable.

But there is no such governor. No such president. No such grass roots dudes. Not for what I've been accused of. I don't even know what it is! My one chance is: maybe neither do they.

So. Plan B, then! Guess I better keep my mouth shut.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

"Define sane."

This happens often enough: someone will quite casually characterize this or that behavior as sane, or as insane, and out wags the other wag's tongue: "Define sane." As if it can't be done.

In a mocking tone! As if this is impossible - to define sane. As if it's a challenge! They toss it clap on the counter like a gauntlet. As if it's alllllllllllll relative, and therefore, you can't define it, buddy!

Asked to define sane, I always say "Sure!" I'm happy to.

There are two components that go strongly into what people call "sane": what you see, and how you act. Obvservation, and response.

Sanity is the ability to see reality and act appropriately. Observation: your ability to see reality. Response: your ability to act in ways that benefit your health, life, goals and well-being (and the well-being of those whose good outcomes you've bound up in yours).

That's it. Simple as that! See reality, act appropriately. You can stop reading right now!

Meanwhile, I'll go on to delve into two main ways we characterize sanity, but really, the one is only an extension of the other and both break down into observation and response.

Sanity, the social definition.

Are you able to see the same reality others see? If your mindset, viewpoint, picture of reality converges quite closely upon the observable reality seen and ratified by those others around you - the general functioning public, those generally accepted-as-sane - congratulations! You have a "leg up" on being accepted as sane. But you're not 100% home-free: next you must also be able to see, understand, internalize the various ranges of accepted response to this shared reality. Observation of shared reality, together with a shared understanding of acceptable responses to it, constitute "sanity" as far as the social definition goes.

Note, we talk about "response," but in the social realm, actually acting in the acceptable way isn't mandatory. Cf. Robin Williams. As long as you can demonstrate you see what others see and you at least know what you're supposed to do - this demonstrates sanity.

The social component is entirely scalable. If there are only twelve of you on a desert island, with no recourse or reference to outside standards, then sane is whatever this small society agrees. If your immediate society is in touch with the wider world and wishes to submit itself to what "the world" considers sane, it will not lack for benchmarks there. However wide the aperture your society sets, to be judged sane, you need to be able to see that same reality, and understand what response is acceptable to it.

None of this makes sanity a squishy or relative concept. The details of what a given society sees as real and sees as sane may differ - and so? Inconsequential. Sanity remains universally the same in all societies: you are able to see society's reality, and you are able understand society's acceptable range of response to it.

Sanity, the survival definition.

More basic, and even easier to break down. As with the social definition, sane observation and response reduce to: see reality, act appropriately. But here, there is no intermediary or judge to consider, to line up with; no ratification required from society and no feedback except the direct feedback from reality that your actions prompt. Alone in a wilderness (as we all are from time to time), you must see the actual reality that impacts, attacks, benefits you. And you must be able to understand what outcomes result from your actions, judge your actions and adapt your behavior to produce better outcomes, reduced risks of damage. This is sanity in action, a direct and appropriate response to one's environment clearly-seen.

Of course in general, for humans, the basic survival definition of sanity involves a great degree of accommodation with a social reality. Or else if not, it involves getting the hell out of that society's sphere! People do that shit all the time. It's totally an acceptable and mainstream thing to do. They even write books about it!

Sanity in its social definition is only as healthy and good for you as that society is.

Quote of the day: Tolerant.

"Of course I'm tolerant to a fault. One doesn't have to be tolerant to virtues."