Jason (jcreed) wrote,
Jason
jcreed

Laura's post and a conversation with adam at geagle yesterday got me thinking. I think I'll take advantage of my just-woke-up-groggy-low-inhibition state while it lasts to say the following.


(Secrets)
So the conversation with adam was about the concepts of honesty, communication, and secrecy. Me, when I think of the word "honesty" I think of it including both not saying false things, and not leaving out important things. It seems that within adam and ellen's discussions, the pair of terms honesty and communication share the work of denoting these two policies: honesty is not saying things that are not true, and communication is not not saying (important) things that are true. Soundness and completeness, as it were. There was an interesting debate over whether, under this latter terminology, honesty alone can be seen as a sort of arrogance, in that a person holding information considers themselves the best judge of who needs to know it. I don't think it necessarily has to work out that way, but that it may often do so in practice. Anyway! There is the alternate strategy of just telling anyone anything without any regards to secrets, or personalness of information and so on.

Strangely, I find it really easy to talk to people (like adam) that I perceive using this strategy, because it's so predictable. I don't have to gague whether they have friends that they trust to keep secrets that I don't trust, or crap like that. I don't have to come up with some complicated mental model of their notion of trustability, because I know it's the constant true function. If I tell such a person something, it may be that it is forwarded to every person I know. I know what I'm getting into. If something I'm considering saying is not appropriate for the whole world to know, I shouldn't tell the town crier. It's so satisfyingly simple.

Apart from that, I feel a strong motivation to not try to keep secrets about myself, for the following reason: Consider that I have a fact f, which is currently only known by me, or perhapsoonly a small number of people. It might have some negative consequences, call them c, if it were to be voluntarily leaked by me to the world at large. On the other hand, it may be discoverd against my will, incurring the same c. Now, the actual cost c may be different depending on when fact f is revealed, but I will make the simplifying assumption that it doesn't. Given this, consider whether c is an "acceptable" loss. If not, then what I should do is wake every effort to keep f secret, for my entire life. Otherwise, I might as well reveal f right away, or at least make very little effort keeping f secret, since by assumption, I incur c no matter when f is revealed.

The conclusion I feel myself coming to is that effort spent keeping a secret is wasted unless (a) I think I am capable of keeping it secret in the long term or (b) I have good reason to think the cost of revelation is lower at a later time.

So actually, the required simplifying assumption can be weakened to "the cost c, if it changes over time, only goes up," which is actually corroborated by my experience, by and large. Certainly outright lies only get worse the longer I have to maintain them, so too, to a lesser degree, with secrecy.

Tossing in the fact that I don't consider myself too great at maintaining secrets, the final conclusion is that I really ought to not worry about trying.

This reasoning is more or less why I don't ever use private posts on livejournal. I'm not very confident that the server couldn't be hacked or something, or that one of my lj-friends might think that so-and-so really ought to know what's going on, or whatever. (I could anticipate on objection of the form "wtf? don't you trust your friends?" here, and the summary of the rebuttal is yes, I would trust them to act according to what they think my best interests are, and that may involve contradicting my estimation of the value of secrecy --- so, since they may disagree with me, and one dissenter is sufficient for a secret to be revealed, why fool myself into thinking that this "partial privacy" is stable?)



(Turned up too High)
Why do I like my senses so much? Why can't I just turn them off? They hurt, they're turned up too high. Everything feels more than I think it should. I feel raw. I feel sad. I want love, and love, and love, because it feels good. I want things that only look like love, I want aquaintance and infatuation, and friendship and camradarie, and flirtation. I want love. I want holding and holding and holding, and head petting and little laughter and smallish broken cookies with milk.
(from Laura's post)

So I read this, and just the bare idea of feeling like the knobs somewhere on one's brain are set way too loud really resonated with me. I've had a similar sort of thought before on many occasions, and it, too, lead into ideas that I feel very reluctant to share with anyone else. But! The fact that this conversation with adam about secrecy had occurred so recently, and is still so fresh in my brain, leads me to want to just get all this shit out and not worry about it so much any more.

The thought that I had before, instead of rooting itself in the audio-equipment metaphor, was all physics: I have too little mass. I mean, I do have little mass quite literally. I'm skinny. I'm light. I'm not physically strong. If you want to find the actual effect of a force on me, you divide the force by not much mass, and you get a lot. And I feel like this mentally as well.

Sex, when it comes right down to it, scares the shit out of me. I have not had sex. I feel really touchy about this fact, because it feels far more like failure than choice. I don't really think it's a big deal that I don't drink or do drug X or whatever, since if I wanted to, I could easily get my hands on some. But nice, ordinary, consentual, non-prostitution sex, you can't just get that. You have to be attractive to someone somehow.

But the thing that really intimidates me about sex, drugs, and, yes, to complete the cliche in a way, even (though to a lesser extent) music, is how much things approximating them affect me. Physical affection, hand-holding, hugging, kissing, groping, feels way the hell too good for me to handle. It doesn't seem to destroy my brain in a happy, mushy, luv-y sort of way. If it just made me stupid in the standard duh-love-has-been-making-people-act-and-feel-dumb-for-all-of-history sort of way, I wouldn't feel so bad. But (so far) it has made me feel, in the long run, sated, bloated, scared, as if tricked, as if deceived, as if sat down at a table and forced to eat more than my stomach can hold.

Same reason I'm not interested in drugs much. I've gone on enough anxiety-filled trips just from eating foods that provoke minor allergic reactions that have the same symptoms as the sort that can kill me. I really don't have any fucking need for worrying about why the walls or melting or why the bushes are looking at me.

Music? There it does still feel like the emotional-sensitiviy knob is way fucking high, but the strength of the stimulus in the first place is okay. Or maybe I'm just used to it. Maybe I've just accepted how much music can own me, how I can sit down at a piano and sweat out some melody, possessed by it, and if I had started drinking or dating early enough I'd be in the same position with them. Maybe it's just that music is my drug of choice for now.

I really hope so, sometimes. Because damn if I'm not hungry now and then, for love and physical closeness, even if, at least for now, it doesn't take much to make me crazy.



(Good)
Which reminds me in turn of another thing that I don't talk about too much, though I have broached the subject with a few people: I really do believe that, in my deepest deepness, I am a shallow, arrogant asshole. And I think I'm okay with that. And everyone I've told that to has predictably gone all what-the-fuck on me. Because I don't like acting like an arrogant asshole. I value humility incredibly. I know it's the right thing to do to see one's accomplishments and abilities and potential in perspective, and realize that other people are smart, too. But there, in the very middle of me, is a tiny fire burning, that knows that I am smart, I am creative, I am capable I can write programs and novels and plays and music and poetry if I set my mind to it, and not just that, but I can make them great and lasting and respected. It's a simple, unattentive belief that, as a human being, I am equipped with a brain that can do fucking amazing things, and a confidence that, as someone who has woken up and realized this, that I will actually get around to doing them. I feel smug. The fact that I think humility is a virtue makes this inner assishness, this unrepentant faith in my own awesomeness, a little annoying. But I think I have figured out how to deal with it, how to simply keep the fire behind the hearth. What I am is not just the fire, but also the fireplace that both keeps it in check and channels it into actual work.

I want to be a competent writer. I want to be a decent programmer. I want to be a respectable musician. I want to be a fluent mathematician and computer scientist. But god, do I ever sometimes just yearn to be the good boyfriend, a good person to love and trust and be honest with, a good husband, a good life-long friend. And my firey confidence seems to falter there, just a bit. I know I want to, I'm sure there is some way to channel the wanting into the doing somehow, but unlike all these other endeavors, I can't practice alone, and I can't experiment without experimenting on other people I care about, which feels horrible. And right now, alone, I feel like I can't learn anything, which is frighteningly frustrating, though probably not true.
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