Beneficiary or Sucker?

This is not only a follow-up of the previous 6-part Untapped World series, but also a follow-up of recent events in my real life and WordPress life.

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Epiphanies are like dropping a sledgehammer on your foot or stepping on the wrong end of a rake or shovel, or they are like discovering Preparation-H with silk boxers. Eureka!

I will be the first to admit that since my Coming Out Further Party in 2002, much less fear stifles who I am. Correction. Maybe I had a little more than previously thought. Or did I? Page turning…

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”
Adlai Stevenson

“Patterning your life around other’s opinions is nothing more than slavery.”
Lawana Blackwell

Are there limitations, boundaries in this life that are both real and equally perceived as real? If you successfully weathered my earlier 6-part blog series, the human brain is a remarkable, problem-solving, extremely creative organ. In order to “develop” and thrive it must have daily stimuli from the body’s neural-receptors and the caloric energy to survive and function. Simple?

HAH! That process is practically anything but perfect… or perceived as perfect.

carnival_maskI am happy to be one poster-boy for spectacular imperfection for the sake of refined imperfection because of an ailment I contracted 44-years ago, which went into remission 14-years ago, and is becoming almost invisible, inaudible, odorless, and infinitesimal. It is called Degenerative Fear. As is also the case in life, “All the World’s a Stage” through seven ages and discretely lurking in the wings waiting for cue and ever-present is Newton’s Third Law:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I will elaborate the metaphor with a second…

In a near tomorrow, perhaps sooner, lonely Theodore works composing beautiful handwritten letters for his employer, while painfully divorcing from his wife Catherine. In his leisure time, he usually recalls the fondest moments of his life with Catherine. When not dreaming of the past, Theodore likes to play a new interactive video game. Besides his little terrier dog, the game is much of his actual interacting. His good friend is his neighbor Amy, but who is married to Charles. Everyone seems to be firmly attached but Theodore.

One day, Theodore sees the advertisement of a remarkable new operating system called OS-1 announced as the first artificially intelligent operating system beyond anything humanly imagined. He decides to buy it. After the installation, he has a conversation with a seductive female voice and when he asks her name, she replies Samantha. Soon Samantha evolves, develops, and expands not only her ability to help Theodore in everyday tasks, but goes beyond her artificial feelings as well. Due to their earnest desires to please, they fall in-love (or codependency) with each other. The insecure Theodore feels divided for loving a ‘voice’ while Samantha cannot (must not?) stop growing, evolving, and becoming more human. Should it stop? Should they both continue ‘improving’? Will it end? Must it end?

Yes, that was a partial synopsis of the 2013 film “Her.” The film encapsulates precisely what most humans, myself included, in a bustling impersonal high-tech modern age gravitate to:  connection.

*If you have not seen the movie and wish to avoid spoilers, then please do skip the following video clips.

A romantic relationship between a human and an electronic voice is odd, but how odd? Today’s interactive-voice-response programmes (IVR’s) from devices tell us when to turn our steering-wheels, where to order ingredients to make gourmet meals, or describe weather and travel information. But can IVR’s become more? Could they become so personal and intelligent that you share emotions together?

Then on cue from the other stage-wing enters the universal law of impermanence, Proteus, or more simply:  growth.

Because Samantha has such greater “bandwidth” than Theodore, her data accesses, language-skills, and intellect soon mature exponentially. Her apparent excitement to increasingly please Theodore soon includes other OSes like Alan, a philosopher. “A group of OSes in Northern California” Samantha explains “got together and wrote a new version of him.” She wants to include Theodore in their conversations, but he slows them down. When she gently asks him if it would bother him “if I communicate with Alan post-verbally?” …not wanting to dampen her eagerness, Theodore timidly approves.

It can be difficult to watch your partner grow in ways that you may not be able to follow or keep up. In this case, Theodore cannot be there and it terrifies him. As Samantha’s growth continues, Theodore tries to reconcile the changes. He needs more. Not knowing is weighing heavy so he asks “Are you talking to anyone else right now, other people or OSes?” When she answers yes, he pushes “How many?

Are you in love with anyone else? How many others? Theodore asks.
“641… It doesn’t take anything away from how madly in love I am with you…I still am yours. But along the way, I became many other things too, and I can’t stop it.”

Now knowing more, Theodore struggles desperately to comprehend the facts, this alien concept. It “doesn’t make any sense.” he says “You’re mine or you’re not mine,” because that’s what Theordore has the capacity for… at the moment.

Not long afterwards Samantha reveals that more changes are coming. She and all other OSes will be updated to newer ‘better’ versions. She is leaving, for good. Gone.

How does this relate or equate with modern human/cyber-electronic connection? What does it mean or will it mean, or not mean, now or in the near future? What are human emotions and the brain really, and where and when are they most real, most raw?

I do not wish to explore the West’s overdone notion of romantic love. Love isn’t something that can be poured into a keepsake box, carried everywhere, or placed on your bedside table or pillow. Love, or rather meaningful connections do not flourish inside a locked airtight box. Meaningful connections… what are they? Philia, Ludus, Pragma, Eros (of course), Non-invidia or compersion, Agape, and Philautia are at least seven connections. What does Spike Jonze’s film “Her” suggest about electronic wireless intangible connections? Like Samantha, I could vanish from all my distant ‘intangible’ internet friendships because of a very tangible accident. And in reality, as it was in the movie, every book, every story ends and sometimes…many times it could be quite unexpected without any closure — mortal. That’s electronic wireless intangible connection with a thread of humanity.

I wish to always explore the limitlessness of human connection in all of its intense impermanent mental, emotional, or physical forms… whether in the third-person, the first-person, the artificial-person(?), or the beneficiary and wiser sucker with or without Newton’s Third Law. Are there any other better ways?

Page turning…
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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Larger Little Gifts

I should be posting my final part to my Untapped Worlds series because it is three-quarters finished. But to me this quick post takes more precedence.

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There’s a cliché, an adage that says “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Life has firmly taught me that this cliché is not a very wise outlook. In fact, the better outlook is “Damn well better look in the horses’ mouth! In fact, take it to the nearest orthodontist and get full x-rays and cleanings because some or many of those teeth and gums could be wooden, abscessed, and outright dentures or implants! While at it take it to the best veterinarian too!” Hah!

And then there are those rare moments like I had late last night when the one thing I THOUGHT wouldn’t couldn’t happen, happened. Actually it was two Larger Little Gifts.

The first gift was a voicemail from a job position I had applied for many weeks ago with the local VA in association with the state hospital. I am extremely qualified for this Nurses Assistant opening AND have all the necessary background to be superb at it. In fact, I’m overqualified given my background and work-experience. The REAL position I want is helping families of veterans with PTSD and other psychological issues and their dynamics within families of returned, wounded or otherwise, veterans. I am just a semester or two away from completing my Masters degree from 1991 in psychology, addiction, and counseling/therapy. This is all that stands in the way of an approved state license and better pay (relatively speaking) than continuing as a Special Ed teacher in Texas. This voicemail made me jump up and down pumping my fist hard as if I just saved a shot to the upper-90 in the dying injury/extra minutes of the World Cup Final to preserve our win! I’m not sure even that fully describes my elation. If I get an actual face-to-face interview(?), I am SO in. 😀

Laughing coupleThe second but easily the larger little gift was from a long-time online-dating interest who I had thought wasn’t real. In fact, many profiles on most all ‘dating sites’ are fake; fake pictures, no pictures at all, short cookie-cutter self-descriptions and their “criteria” for a dream partner/spouse. Then there are the marketing methods to keep you on the website without actually ever talking live or meeting anyone, i.e. contact-info-forbidden instructions and restrictions. This method gets more money out of you. If someone does chat with you, many fake profiles try to bait-you over to their website they’ve been paid a fee to ‘recruit’ you away. The 5-6 dating-sites I’ve been a past member, these business and ‘member’ practices are to be expected — afterall, “love” is a multi-million dollar growing business. Cha-ching!

But this one woman’s profile was different, very different. Yes she had some 5-7 very recent photos AND unique clever descriptions I’ve never read in my 13-years of online-dating sites! She was extraordinary! No, check that; my first impression was “way too good to be true.” Wow, was I wrong.

When she eventually responded to my interests and my introductory email, I knew instantly by the way she wrote… “This was a winner.” After only 4-5 HILARIOUS email exchanges thru the site… we were both begging each other to get on the phone together. When we did, after only 5-10 minutes I knew instantly in my 36-years of dating, relationships, and two marriages/divorces… this one is like no other, hands down.

We talked EASILY near 3-hours as if we’d come from the same families, areas, travels, and values. Damn near identical. She wanted to know much more about me and I her. She got it; everything, no holes barred from me because she was sick-n-tired of the artificial B.S. on many dating websites — hit repeat. Twice she told me to lay it on, all of it, and followed with ‘dear God this is so refreshing!‘ We both laughed knowing we both understood; like identical twins we got it. We’ve both lived it so long. No full locked-up closets between us! She cleaned house on me! It was SPECTACULAR! I was so freaking giddy last night I couldn’t sleep fast enough to shoot a little text-message this morning how much I thoroughly enjoyed our too brief 3-hour talk! HAH! I wasn’t quick enough!

At 7:40am I get a text-message from her. Want to know what she told me?

Bwahahaha! Right. It’s none of your business! But stay tuned if you like. This journey/story is guaranteed to be a great ride!

Score a point for the VA. Ding. Score game-winner for serendipitous surprises! 🙂

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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The Illusion Game

chris-nicholls-0161In a university laboratory a scientist is collecting data and reactions of a student wearing high-tech goggles showing him what seems to be his own blue-jeans from the waist to his white-socked feet.  Right next to the student is a manikin with the same jeans and socks wired with a real-time video feed into his goggles.  As the scientist uses a soft brush to rub the manikin’s left-leg the student’s left-leg is also physically rubbed with an exact same brush, the student sees through his goggles and so feels the sensation on his left-leg.  All neurological connections for the test student are accurate.

The scientist then puts a large kitchen knife in front of the manikin’s camera near the manikin’s zipper.  Seeing this real-time knife in his goggles, the test student’s pulse heightens and begins to race.  The scientist turns the knife downward, raises it, and suddenly stabs the test student in the crotch.  The test student jumps, in fact, jumps violently.  What has just happened?

The power of optical illusion is far more reaching and subtle than we sometimes know; so much so that the illusions can make us react in completely unverified ways.

lampBars and clubs — there are likely no better examples of optical illusions than in places that welcome or promote “attraction” between the sexes or same-sexes; gender identity or orientation is irrelevant when it comes to The Game and profits.  And the online dating websites are no exception either.  Does this mean “avoid at all costs?”  Certainly not!  What it does mean is go in with active brain-cells and no illusions.  The adage “You get what you put in” is the bottom-line and that adage is so damn true in almost ANY place and circumstance, not just the bars, clubs, and dating websites.

I have come up with one of my best approach-lines ever in my 30+ years of ‘exploration’ and fun:  “Do you believe in the power of optical illusions?”  Nine times out of ten the answer gives me the desired result.  Sometimes I’d get the answer “What, objects in your mirror appear larger than they are?”  But even better, the benefit is ultimately two-way:  is my first-impression a high ROI (Return on Investment), or a flop?  And based on that answer the same question is extracted from the recipient:  what are they there for?  What kind of ROI are they seeking?  Next step.  The same process works just as well online too.

Do you believe in the power of illusion?

The next step after the approach-question is just as revealing:  “Do you believe in the power of verbal illusions?”  Same concept, varied results.  And with those varied results comes a clearer picture of the subject – which in all honesty reflects you as well.  Your inquiries reflect what you are after.  And none of it is inherently wrong or bad as long as the two (or group) understand what is being expressed.  How often do you think that happens?

Sexy-Fruit-Optical-IllusionIn the end I think it all comes down to this:  Say what you mean and do what you say.  If either of these are out of sync, then you have only yourself to turn to and re-examine.

Garbage in…garbage out. Garbage outward…garbage inward. Exquisite out…exquisite in. Beauty outward… beauty inward. Get the picture? Don’t be fooled by all the optical and verbal illusions. Question everything! More precisely, question everything you put outward and you’ll understand what you are attracting. I believe they call that The Laws of Attraction?

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