Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quixote's Primer

Prelude: This will sound familiar. What you’re about to read is both a time capsule and an invitation to watch a natural birth. Without the screaming…wait…there is eventually screaming involved. Ok. Fine. Without the blood. Most of this was left in the archives as an undistilled work in progress, one I intended to revisit over the last 7-8 years in order to edit it for clarity—both mine and yours—but, as often happens, I just moved on and clarified on the fly. 

It was originally hatched in Port Townsend, Washington as a large part of my 9/19/09 birthday post but I quickly retracted when I realized this idea, Quixote, was enormous. That’s an inadequate word. It’s literally (proper use!) impossible to overstate the impact and effects it would have on me over the next decade. 

The concept was conceived as a simple observation of the human experience. But over the years it’s proved to spread well beyond the confinements of inner dialogues and identity. As social media’s bubbles inflated, Quixote has been weaponized as the exploited means by which people intellectually isolate themselves away from unpleasant intrusions on comfortable, egocentric personal narratives and world views. Don’t be mistaken in believing that Quixote is specific to one cave or the other. It tramples truth wherever it inconveniently sprouts.  Yes, Moonbeam. Even inside your magically evolved crystal bubble.

I’ve added some contemporary 2017 meat, but the bulk was written in early-mid October, 2009 at the end of a life changing summer. Anything added or cut was for brevity (ha!), clarity and fun; the basic concept has slightly evolved over the years but very little; I’ve changed my name more often than I’ve altered the foundation lying beneath what lies beneath. (That was not added for fun.) 

Let’s begin a trip back to the fall of 2009.

Fake It to Make It

Don Quixote is a wonderful book. If you're enjoying my humble offerings of perspective I highly recommend it as companion reading, although be warned: I’ve taken a different interpretation, as you’ll soon see. In fact, I loved the book so much that decorating my [old] website's cards was the famous Picasso painting of Quixote, Rocinante, and Sancho Panza. I chose it for 2009 as a reminder not to go attacking windmills; see things as they are not as I wish them to be.

If you've read the book, you’d likely agree that following the lovable knight toward any shortcut is probably unwise. With that in mind, Chris and I had a quick conversation in Port Townsend about the famous shortcut phrase used by Alcoholics Anonymous: "Fake it to Make It." The conversation abruptly ended when I expressed my disgust and it was clear that we must just to agree to disagree. If you've read Cervantes’ classic, you may already know where I'm headed.

This childish little phrase has always reminded me of another infantile slogan meant to burrow itself into your skull: “Click It or Ticket” I detest both. They each remind me of Hitler’s theories about using short slogans as propaganda because, in his paraphrased opinion (one I don’t necessarily disagree with; “DRAIN THE SWAMP!”) people are stupid and that’s all they’ll digest and/or remember.

Further context: Fake it to Make It was beaten into my skull years ago as a young, state-ordered, A.A. apprentice first class. Back then? I loved it! It relieved my drunk, lazy, oblivious butt of personal responsibility.

“Wait. Are you saying that if I just dress up in this little psychological costume it’s OK to pretend I’m really awesome and not just a drunk with self-destructive daddy issues?"


"And I can pretend everyone else thinks I'm awesome too?"

"Of course!" 

"And that’s…okay?"

"Are you stupid? Yes!"

"Hell yeah! It’s halloween for the self-esteem!" 

"Get the fuck out of my office."

It may or may not have happened that way. I'm old and my memory's infirm. But, regardless, that’s Don Quixote for Dummies. "If you want to be a knight, act like a knight.” Fake It to Make It. Rather than making internal changes to actually become a metaphorical knight, or at least not be a slobbering drunk, it suggests to the desperate/lazy soul that the superficial act of "dressing up" in imaginary fantasy (or doctrinal) costumes will result in real change effortlessly seeping in from the outside until one day you supposedly wake up to a special engraved invitation to sit at the Knight’s Table. Taken in this context, the fundamentals of escapist role playing, is lobotomizing profanity.

I concede that it provides a useful temporary sanctuary for those who are too frightened or ill-equipped to confront their windmills as long as it's presented as temporary. In my experience, it's not. It typically encourages indefinite self-delusion as a cheap easy substitute for authentic introspection; numbing the external emotional symptoms rather than treating the internal psychological disease.

Been there.

Playing "make believe" is something we discourage in children after a certain age. Yet, it’s considered “treatment” to encourage it in addicts? Really? To my knowledge, Wendie (stay tuned) and A.A. have never met and the conversation between Chris and I did not involve her. But, after the trauma of watching a daypack fly down her staircase the day I left, and with echoes of her Buddhist rhetoric fresh in my ears, Fake It To Make It suddenly, seemingly innocently, transitioned to Don Quixote.

2017 MINI-TANGENT: It was far from an innocent synaptic connection. It was a reflective spiritual  fucking bomb. 

To understand why, you first need some backstory. Read the next part (yet unfinished) while pretending you’re a literary peeping Tom. You’re about to see what amounts to lightly edited tape of my neural net fornicating. Pervert.