The pictures are Merit.. Merit is an avatar I made in Second Life. I made Merit represent me everywhere on the internet. You can say Merit outgrew Second Life and lives in cyberspace. Merit is a figment of my mind that is something more than a fantasy. It is a desire. Not that I want to be like Merit, but Merit gives me a way to be something I can’t be in real life. And that is madness for you.
Madness represents the psychological component that every addiction has. Addictions are often described solely for their physical components, but there is also a strong psychological component as well. In fact madness alone is a very important addiction, probably even stronger than any other because most people deny its existence. And things that are denied have the strongest effect. But it’s greatest strenght it ties in with all the other addictions.
Addictions develop not out of the blue. Instead we are ushered into them. And that ushering is mostly done by ourselves. When people start smoking it is not because tobacco they like it’s taste. Most smokers will tell you that the first time they smoked they did not enjoy it at all. When people start drinking it is not because they liked it. Alcohol is actually not very tasty and when taken in excessive quantities causes hangovers. Many addictions are not nice or enjoyable. That is because they are not about nice and enjoyable, they are about surpressing stress.
Addictions develop because we want something and it persists because we need to lessen our stress and this stress is mostly brought about by ourselves. We want to belong, we want to be part, we want to excel, we want to be better, we want to be richer, we want to be popular and we want to stand out while remaining part of a whole.. This creates stress. Stress is the gap between what we want and what we can achieve.
The dominant western culture learns us what we need to be. We need to be smart, pretty, sexy, fun to be with, a good mother, a good father, a successful worker, a caring community member, the best of our sports club. Feel free to extend the list. We should be the best and only want the best. From ourselves and others.
Like a friend of mine. Who is very popular with women. It is a kind of magic he has, which I can’t define. Women like him and you would expect him to be able to pick the best of all the women that like him. It doesn’t work that way.
You see the only woman he wanted did not want him. She was a lot younger and felt she needed to learn a little bit more of life before settling. So she said no. And he had a hard time getting over her. Unfortunately the consequence of her rejection was that she became the imaginary touchstone of all other women he met.
Imagine that you painted a picture or a statue that is your ideal partner. You ascribe all the best of qualities to it and then you compare all the other people to it? They will fail to match her or him. Nobody can beat an idealized fantasy
There is a short story about that, written by Clark Ashton Smith called ‘the last incantation that describes this idea. http://www.eldritchdark.com/writings/short-stories/112
Our dominant western culture is one where success by any means has become the norm. It doesn’t matter anymore how it is achieved, as long as it is achieved. Success has become the only means to value people and unfortunately: few people will be successful.
This means stress and this stress is lessened by having addictions. Addictions are basically repetitive predictable patterns of behavior that lessen our stress. The whole procedure involving addictions is predictable. And so is the empty attempt to get rid of an addiction. The drama involved, the pointless attempts and the failure to kick the habit in the end, is done to avoid the ultimate truth: that you are a failure. And double edge as everything is: to beat an addiction becomes a token of success. Choose your addictions wisely because you can be a success by beating your failures.
Don’t you think that it is amazing that in such a culture the rate of suicides does not grow to huge proportions or addictions abound? It is actually not amazing at all if you take into account that a lot of people simple turn crazy. Like me.
The culture of success grinds people to dust and madness is a way to deal with it. Psychological stress leads to derangements ranging from depressions to hyperactivity. The cause of this problem is never really addressed because that would require a major cultural change, it is the consequence that is fixed. Depressions and burn outs are mostly caused by the constant pressure to achieve success, but instead of stopping the machine that creates these illnesses, we patch up the victims and send them back into the ratrace. There is a movie about that: it is made by Charlie Chaplin and called Modern Times.
Do you recall that Charlie gets crazy in the movie? Perhaps he was on to something. Crazy is what one becomes.
It is clear that I am mad. Of course people will deny that. Say: you are not mad at all. What they fail to see is that I can fake sanity very well and I fake it by inventing make belief people like Merit. Or the dozens of characters that now inhabit my writings. I slowly publish them to the internet. Not that I think it helps. But it does give me a lot of things to write about though.. Maybe I reach success that way!
Who am I kidding?