this is the central tenant of my thesis – the corporations you work for aren’t human.  they’re aliens out to enslave you so they can suck all your energy for their own nefarious ends.  the science fiction community has known this forever.

Post Apocalyptic America– NOW!

July 18, 2011 By Rob Kall

I’m a science fiction fan and have watched my share of post-apocalyptic movies and TV series.

I’ve been watching TNT’s Falling Skies, based on the idea that aliens have attacked Earth, killed most humans, destroyed all major cities, and a rag-tag band of survivors struggling to stay alive as they deal with human-size, bug-like aliens and their elephant-sized battle robots.


Alien from TV show Falling Skies

I got to thinking that in some ways, we’re actually facing a reality that has some similarities.

Think mega/multi-national corporations instead of aliens.
Think destruction of communities, of neighborhoods instead of cities.
Think extinction of the ligaments and ties that hold families together.

The attack has not come from explosive weapons. It has come from commercial efforts to commoditize life, to replace citizens of communities with consumers of things and services.

There are a number of people writing about and creating films about this “apocalypse,” though they do not call it that. I’ve interviewed some of them:

Helena Norberg-Hodge; Economics of Happiness

Chris Hedges; Death of the Liberal Class and a Call For Rebellion

Arianna Huffington Third World America

The Abundant Community; John McKnight & Peter Block; Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods

Robert Jensen, on facing an age of collapse, and about his book, ALL MY BONES SHAKE– seeking a progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice

Naomi Wolf on teapartiers, transpartisanism, End of America Under Obama

Caroline Myss; Dark Times Require Transcendant Responses

I am sometimes accused of stretching a metaphor. That may be the case here.

Dictionaries define apocalypse as the end of the world, or some important ending of some aspect of the world. But wikipedia goes a different route, looking at the etymology of the word:

An Apocalypse (Greek: ἀποκάλ…ψις apokálypsis; “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”) is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John (Greek Ἀποκάλ…ψις Ἰωάννο…) is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. By extension, apocalypse can refer to any End Time scenario, or to the end of the world in general.


Apocalypse depicted in Christian Orthodox traditional fresco scenes in Osogovo Monastery, Republic of Macedonia (from Wikipedia)

In this latest apocalyptic TV show, Falling Skies, produced, by the way with the participation of Steven Spielberg’s and Dreamworks operations, the aliens put some kind of bio-control thing on the backs of children they enslave and control the thoughts of. The few remaining “free” humans must kidnap these children, then surgically remove the bio-control things, which look like giant Helgramites.


flickr image By Kevin Matteson

So I propose to you that the corporate “aliens” have, using credit and mainstream media and pharmaceutical drugs and services that deconstruct neighorhoods and weaken family bonds, done many of the things that the aliens in Falling Skies have done.

The latest episode ends with a military leader betraying children, selling them out and delivering them to the aliens. We’ve seen countless examples of legislators doing this– betraying constituents for corporate “aliens.”

When the Aliens take over the brains and minds of humans, the humans side with the aliens. They defend the aliens. They even kill for the aliens. Sound familiar? Can’t wait to see the commenters defending corporatism on this one.

We live in the era of “boiled frog syndrome.” Our situation is getting worse as the war against the middle class, perhaps started under Ronald Reagan, if not earlier, proceeds into another decade. It’s hard for some people to imagine the wealthy paying the 50% tax rate that were the norm under Reagan, let alone the 70% taxes that were the norm under Nixon. Boiled frog syndrome. We are being lulled into thralldom. This is not fiction. This is reality.

What’s the solution to this apocalypse? The same as it always is in this kind of movie– kill the invaders. Wipe them out. HG Wells showed simple human germs doing the killing in his oft re-told WAR OF THE WORLDS. We’re not going to have it so easy. To extend the analogy, we’re going to have to take control of and massively modify the functioning of the corporations and the machines of destruction they’ve been wielding, and also the humans they’ve enslaved or taken over. I’ll again say that one step will have to include debillionairizing the planet. Billionaires serve the corporations and have no place on a planet for humans. I’ve written about how to go about debillionairizing the planet in my article “De-billionairize” the Planet.

The thing about apocalyptic movies is they always give the message that even if there are only a few humans left and the odds are overwhelming, there is always room for hope and ways to fight back.

Ditto for reality.

Our Abusive Alcoholic Corporate Cult

 

We’re Big Behemoth, Inc., a perfect example of the ideal corporate entity. While no corporation can attain the same degree of perfection as the ideal corporation, they can each in their own way approach it, strive for it even tho they’re only human and can never attain actual perfection. But wait, a corporation’s not human. (See p __, Bloodsucking alien vampire or inanimate machine; just what degree of inhuman are we talking about?)

 

In our society, we call the ideal entity god. God, whatever you understand god to be (See p __, God), being what some like to think of as the creator of all things, is thought to have created all things according to some god-like plan. Since god embodies all that is good, we humans try our best to imitate god’s preferred way of doing things. So we model our families, businesses, institutions and governments after what we imagine heaven to be like, a cosmic pyramid scheme. (See p __, Multilevel marketing in heaven.) There’s god at the top, then god’s immediate family, then the archangels, a few really special emissaries of god, and a mess of angels under the archangels. And then there are a couple of layers of middlemen celestial types, and possibly the pre-saved, then there’s us, the masses.

 

But the mass of humanity is divided up just like we imagine heaven to be, however you understand heaven. You’ve got your kings or presidents, then you’ve got your lords or congressional types, and the minions who do their bidding, and functionaries under them, and then you’ve got the rest of us, the masses. But the masses of citizens are further divided into heads of industry, boards of directors, regional officers, vice presidents, senior managers, managers, analysts, technicians, secretaries, mailroom and dockworkers, cleaners and deliverers and stockers. And each one of these is a head of household or a married filing jointly, and are themselves the head of a domestic pyramid.

 

We never stop to think about it, because it’s not something we’re supposed to question, but there are other models on which to base all of society. We’ve chosen a hierarchical model, where there is a very small center of control over a very large base of service to that control. The reason we don’t think about it is because we believe that god set it up that way, and not only is there nothing we can do to change it, but it’s that way because it’s the only way it can be, and thus, the right and ideal way for things to be. (See p __, The non-hierarchical model.)

 

Let’s examine the ways a typical corporation adopts the attributes of god.

 

The Corporation is The Creator

Whether the business is making widgets, generating nothing but paper and hot air, or running the country, it’s a world unto itself. It’s the corporation’s private universe, and its employees people its garden of workaday bliss. The Creator has set up the business in its own image, to serve its needs and to reflect the corporation’s goals and philosophy. The corporation is not about caring for the flock, except for keeping it from being eaten.

 

It is All Powerful

The corporation can do anything it wants. It chooses its own location, its community, its industry, its politics, its society. It sets its own goals, drafts its unique mission statement, determines its ethics and practices,. The corporation chooses its employees. It chooses the pay and what it likes to call benefits for its employees. It chooses to promote, give raises, downsize, and fire its employees. It chooses its management style, its promotional policies, its degree of diversity, its degree of maturity or hipness. The corporation is a being that is as close to perfection as it is able to come, a shining example of what our glorious way of doing things can produce.

 

It is All Wise

The corporation has a successful business image. It exemplifies the best way to do business. It makes business plans and projections that seem valid and trustworthy, its policies are thought to be enlightened. The people in the company believe in its leadership, its ethics, its altruistic goals. They believe that the corporation must know what it’s doing; why would they be working there if the company wasn’t a great place to work?

 

The dark side of this is that the company also reads employee email and monitors phone calls, it strives to make sure you don’t use company time for your own personal business, it violates employee privacy by drug tests and bag checks, background checks and personality tests, violates personal boundaries by making you sit in cubicles with no doors, encourages you to take work home with you, and making sure they can get hold of you at night or on vacation if they need to. It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake. It hears what you are thinking, so be good for your own goodness sake.

 

The Corporation Defines Reality

The corporation makes the company rules, sets the employee standards and the business practices, the human resources policies, the standards for hiring and firing, the corporate culture, standards of acceptable behavior. What the corporation says goes, as far as setting work hours and attendance policies, and there are certain things it won’t stand for no matter what the excuse or how valuable you thought you were to the company.

 

The Corporation is Rational

The corporation is eminently rational and objective. The corporation is rational simply because it is, sum ergo ratio. It’s the star of its own show, so it’s the company’s game, and the company’s rule; so of course the company is right. Everything’s motivated by the bottom line, because what could be more objective and rational than numbers? The intangible, personal things aren’t so important because they can’t easily be included in the balance sheet, therefore they don’t count. It’s a closed system, circular and self-referent. So if authority finds you rational, objective, and stamped good, that is good enough. Even tho rational is only half of the picture, and the boring half as well. The system is not human, therefore it’s possible to actually achieve rationality. Rationality excludes irrationality, which is defined as bad because the corporation defines reality. This is a rejection of the human element by the system.

 

The Corporation is Infallible

The corporation is right by definition, because the corporation defines reality and it’s a closed system. The way the corporation does things is the only possible way to do things. And things are the way they are because that’s how things are. Infallibility means that when something goes wrong, it’s someone else’s fault by definition. This leads to circular, obsessive, distorted thinking, rationalization, and blaming others. Bad reviews and hiring/firing decisions can’t be appealed because the company defines what’s desirable and what’s unacceptable, and has the right to fire your ass if it feels like it.

 

The Corporation is Superior

The company is the industry leader, smarter, more cutting edge, in some other way first in its class. The employee are lucky to be working there. The company expects a peppy attitude, a can-do spirit, a hundred and twenty percent, a spirit of friendly competitiveness, and teamwork in achieving company goals. What the company says goes because they know best.

 

The Corporation is Controlling

Company loyalty, employee reviews and raises, dress codes, face time, tethers, hours overtime expectations, personal business on company time, arbitrary policies, rigid, defensive, judgmental, paranoid, dualistic obsessive

 

The Corporation is Dependent

Needs employees to exist, needs employees to achieve all its goals. Needs employees to be food and energy and arms and legs, like jabba the hut. Needs loyalty, willingness to work cheap, have no life – willing slaves. System surrounds and engulfs us but we don’t feel like home.

 

“Many people have lived with ADD all of their lives, and they accept it as part of who they are. They have no idea that the pattern of problems they have may be related to a treatable disorder.” – Dr. Calvin Sumner, senior clinical research physician for Eli Lilly, maker of Ritalin

“The symptoms of ADD can look just like the symptoms of modern life. I would speculate that 55% of the population has what I call pseudo-ADD, sort of a severe case of modern life. They’re going so fast, they’re doing so much, they’re so saturated with information overload that they look distracted, impulsive and restless.” – Dr. Edward Hallowell, Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood

“Over the past thirty years, attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has emerged from the relative obscurity of cognitive psychologists’ research laboratories to become the “disease du jour” of America’s schoolchildren. Accompanying this popularity has been a virtually complete acceptance of the validity of this “disorder” by scientists, physicians, psychologists, educators, parents, and others. Upon closer critical scrutiny, however, there is much to be troubled about concerning ADD/ADHD as a real medical diagnosis.” Thomas Armstrong, http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/myth_add_adhd.htm

— 

This may be a stretch for you, but work with me here. You’re so used to looking at ADD in a negative light. You’ve been told that Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder will ruin your children’s lives because they won’t do well in school and won’t be productive adults. In our anxiety to help our children succeed, we follow doctor’s instructions and zap our kids with daily doses of speed to make them sit still. Current news stories and pharmaceutical ads tell us that we adults suffer from ADD as well, and to avoid failing our potential at work, we’re willing to add another drug to our regimin.

But why is it a disorder? How come we’re trying to suppress it? What if it’s a healthy response? Why does inattention and the prospect of not fitting in fill us with such fear? Why do we overlook the dangers of giving kids controlled substances in favor of having them behave? Don’t we remember: “Speed kills”?

Does everyone think it’s bad not to concentrate on one thing, to be impulsive, to want to push all the elevator buttons? Are you really supposed to be stable, reliable, a little bovine, and so accustomed to your rut you could find your way home in a fog? Would people who won’t sit still and who don’t listen or follow instructions really cause the downfall of society if they were allowed to be the way they are? It is really being on-task and focusing and giving 110% that makes us productive? Is productivity the highest measure of value? (R U ADD? See p_.)

The way we understand ADD and ADHD, it’s a disorder, something we need to correct so that the sufferer can rejoin normal society and be a productive, happy citizen. But this line of reasoning gives me the creeps, and a whole bunch of Twilight Zone episodes flash in front of me. (See p_, To serve man.) I also hear the insane laugh of a mad scientist, see droids in the hold of a starship, watch a pacified and drugged populace chanting slogans of mindless hatred beneath sinister flags. Maybe I am ADD. But somehow I’d rather blame society than think there’s something I need to be taking drugs for. I figure the way I am is just fine, and if there’s a problem, it’s probably the fucked-up world we live in.

Half of our ADD symptoms are the same as those associated with stress and overwork. And not being able to sit still and pay attention is partially a side effect of all the sugar and junk food we eat. Personally, I start to hum and sizzle after too much coffee. Our food is loaded with chemicals, artificial flavorings, MSG, and food dyes which really do a number on your body or your head – try chinese food with beer and a ritalin to see what I mean. Reading ingredient labels and avoiding artificial colors and ingredients you don’t know or can’t pronounce goes a long way toward eliminating food toxins. Many times, hyperactive and out-of-control behavior ceases when processed and adulterated foods are removed from the diet. (See p_, The lazy kitchen.)

Ritalin is bad
2.6 million children a year are diagnosed with a disorder, and are given 30 infinity doses of Ritalin and other drugs in a psychoactive battle against what the American Psychiatric Association calls Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder. Boys are diagnosed three times more often than girls, and white boys are diagnosed more often than boys from other ethnic groups. There’s a positive correlation between parents with health insurance and a diagnosis of ADD in their children. And there’s a similar correlation between a misdiagnosis of ADD and an IQ over 140.

The major drug in this battle is Ritalin, otherwise known as speed. It is just as addictive as coke or heroin, and is a growing source of drug abuse in our schools. Some kids palm their dose, and sell it to other kids, who powder it and snort it, or cook it up and mainline it. Classified as a Schedule 2 controlled substance under Federal law, right up there with cocaine, opium and morphine, the government’s National Toxicology Program has found that it causes liver cancer in cute little lab mice. And here we are giving it to children as young as two years old to keep them under control.
There are tons of side effects which can be difficult to cope with:

  • Headaches and dizziness 
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Pulse changes 
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression 
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness 
  • Skin rash
  • Stunted growth 
  • Tourette’s

Ritalin withdrawal is a nasty process, causing depression, fatigue, paranoia, even suicide. In a gateway drug effect, Ritalin use can lead to further prescription drug use, as kids get hooked on sedatives to counteract the amphetamine buzz, become strung out on antidepressants to counteract the downers, and eventually labeled bipolar, which qualifies them for such potent personality-mushers as lithium and antipsychotic drugs. Researchers are also beginning to see Ritalin and other ADD medications as precursers to nonprescription and illegal drug use, including tobacco and cocaine.

Prior to the late 1990s, I’d never heard of ADD, but I knew right away that it was something I’d be interested in. If it’s something they’re trying to stamp out in kids, then it’s certainly cool, and probably revolutionary. However, speed is not my drug of choice, so instead of getting in line to score a legal psychoactive drug and thinking no more about it, I took a sideways look at who benefits from this new disorder. When you call something a deficiency disorder, the automatic assumption is that you need to make up for it or you’ll weaken and die. But we’re talking about attention. When did not paying attention become a disorder, a dangerous disease with disastrous consequences?

Who benefits?
Not the kids; they’re drugged into a compliant state, like mental patients. They don’t act spontaneously, they don’t cut up in class, they sit still and apply themselves diligently to their work. They no longer seem to have shit-detectors, and compliantly accept mediocre amusements and insufficient explanations. (See Southpark episode #404: Timmy!, featuring Ritalout to the rescue.)

The teachers and the school system are obvious beneficiaries, because a doped up class is much less trouble, and teachers can get thru the curriculum undisturbed. If the primary purpose of education is to create good citizens and workers, then student passivity is of obvious benefit to the schools. However, it’s not like kids need to pay all that much attention to what they’re learning in school. I’ve seen the textbooks they’re given, and experienced the ‘once-over lightly’ method of teaching. Rather than being taught how to learn, our kids are stocked with unimportant and easily-forgotten information. How much of what you were taught do you remember? What’s the formula for a sphere’s volume, eh? Where’s Benin? What’s the chief natural resource of Idaho?
The drug companies are another beneficiary of the rising diagnosis of ADD. They’ve seen sales of ADD drugs soar to $1.7 billion in 2002, and they’re growing at 50% a year. That’s over 25 million prescriptions a month. By the time second graders graduate into the work force, they’ve been doped with amphetamine and methamphetamine for years, and it’s so addictive that they’ll be controlling symptoms until they’re senile. The primary adult market has only begun to be tapped, but it’s estimated that 20% of American adults are on ADD/ADHD meds. It almost makes me want to buy stock in Eli Lilly. But no – if you support drug pushers, you’re supporting terrorism.

The largest beneficiary of the rising tide of ADD is Big Behemoth, Inc. and its millions of subsidiaries throughout the world. When graduates join the firm, they’ve already had much of what it means to be a young human stripped from their lives, and are unable to cut through the fog long enough to notice that they’re chained to their desks. Thru the marvel of science they’ve been molded into normal, ordinary people who fit quite well into corporate life. They can sit still for long periods of time, concentrate on boring, repetitive tasks, do what they’re told without question, seem to be happy even tho their situation is clearly absurd and demoralizing, and never look to escape. Corporations love these kinds of people, and want everyone to be just like that – as incapable of rebellion and independent thought as a gerbil on an exercise wheel.
What kids are really like
I worked as a substitute teacher in an elementary school for a few months, so I can speak with some authority about our public education system. And before the hate mail starts, let me make it clear that I have nothing but charitable things to say about the poor overworked teachers and staff, to most of whom I recommend they quit their day jobs.

Either as a battlefield baptism, or because the teachers I subbed for needed more sick days than regular teachers, I got called in to teach the “special” classes. In my school system, there was one class per grade level where the students with behavior problems are cordoned off from the others and watched over by a single teacher and one stalwart parapro. Whenever I was called in to sub, the other teachers treated me with pity, as if I had been chosen to mind a room full of incipient criminals and crazies.

But they were great kids. Highly intelligent, intuitive, inspired, creative kids, with a great sense of humor and plenty of energy. It immediately occurred to me that the reason the vast majority of these kids were in the specials class was that they were too damned smart for the normal kids, and because the educational system didn’t respond to their needs for stimulation, attention, and fun stuff to do. They were flailing and twisting and hitting walls in their attempts to grow toward their visions. Attention deficit, in these kids, meant that they weren’t getting enough attention. One of the worst punishments you can inflict on someone is to ignore them and treat them as if they’re deficient, which is the message they get from the schools, the teachers, and the other kids.

In order to motivate them, I gave them fun things to do. When kids have something they’re interested in, you don’t see them fidget or disrupt the class. They focus intently on their work, soaking up the information they’re given. Do kids fidget and interrupt when they’re watching a movie or working on the computer? There you go. I let the kids ask questions and talk over the assignments with other kids, and generally tolerated a higher noise and activity level than the parapro was comfortable with. I even let them tell jokes, and we played spelling-word hangman in the few minutes before lunch.

Whenever they finished their work before the allotted time, I’d whip out a piece of construction paper and give them a drawing assignment. Soon half the class had finished their tasks to draw pictures of other kids and classroom objects, and by the end of the day, each one had a great piece of art to take home. I didn’t have a single behavior problem with any of the “behavior problems” in the specials class, and you’ll realize how extraordinary this is when you remember how it went whenever you had a substitute in your class – even the good kids acted out when there was a sub.

The parapro hated the art breaks. She told me, with the harsh voice of authority, that we must stick to the curriculum, that we don’t practice rewarding the students for doing what’s expected of them, and that I was creating entirely too much chaos. I looked around at kids being themselves, getting along, doing work, and told her that I wasn’t rewarding them, I was exercising their skills and fitting in more things to learn, because they were capable of learning more. Next morning, the principal stopped me on my way to the classroom and told me not to let the children draw any more. “We want none of that in the classroom,” she said sternly. “It’s too disruptive. The students are here to learn what’s on the curriculum, and we’re here to teach that, and only that.”

I remember this in some detail, because it made absolutely no sense to me. Why wouldn’t she want them doing art in their spare moments? Why wouldn’t she want them talking to each other, or having fun while they worked? Why was it good to limit their learning to the boiled-down basics in their books? People learn by fitting things into context, not just rote memorization, and even kids can handle a bigger picture than what’s presented in textbooks. Perhaps there was something wrong with letting them draw?

These kids were starved for fun and meaning, full of questions, with inquiring minds and insatiable curiosity. They were completely normal kids doing what kids do. They were naturally more active than other kids because other kids were dimmer bulbs. And because they couldn’t sit still in class, but were always jumping up and down with the answers to questions I hadn’t even finished asking, they were regarded as hyperactive and disruptive, and put in a special class, and given drugs to turn them into dull copies of the normal kids. I thought it was a crime. I felt like a prison guard after that, and soon lost my taste for teaching in the public schools.

Genius is ADD
School, work, what they expect of us, really is boring and tedious, and it’s right and proper that the intelligent and independent among us should act up about it. Somebody’s got to. Let’s look at it this way. Albert Einstein didn’t talk until he was four, and couldn’t read until he was seven. At school they classified him as antisocial, a slow learner, and a dreamer. His behavior was so inappropriate that he was kicked out of school, and had such bad grades that he couldn’t get into college.

If he’d been a kid today, his school and social services would have the power to tear him from his parents and stick him into a foster home if they wouldn’t agree to put him on Ritalin. Albert Einstein would end up working at Wal-Mart.

Thomas Edison was unruly and a mediocre student. George Washington was caught in the act of destruction with a deadly weapon, and then like a true ADDer, confessed without thinking and landed himself in even more trouble. Have you seen Amadeus, the biopic of Mozart? Well, there’s a hyperactive kid whose teachers would have strangled him were he in school now. Leonardo DaVinci? Socrates? Beethoven? Abraham Lincoln? Eleanor Roosevelt? Prince Charles? Their parents would have all gotten letters from school that said “Not living up to potential.”

And what do you think today’s pharmaceutical school system would do to Steven Spielberg, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Cosby, Jim Carey?

Geniuses and hugely creative people don’t just grow on trees, you know. They really work at standing out from the crowd. They don’t fit in. They’re not supposed to fit in. They get kicked out of school, they get into trouble with the authorities, they run away, they have attitudes, they’ve got anger management problems. And that’s okay. They’re kids. They’re humans. They’ve got unique destinies that require them to break molds and turn their backs on what society holds sacred. This is good. It promotes growth and change, fosters innovation and development.

ADD doesn’t ruin our children’s future, it guarantees a brighter future for the entire world. These dropouts and reprobates, these hyperactive kids, go on to become something wonderful as adults. They spend a few years as juvenile delinquents, rebels, revolutionaries, inventors, filmmakers, visionaries, artists. At best, they make a living changing the world in their own unique ways. At worst, they live thru their wild years, get married, settle down, and have kids and mortgages, just like the rest of us.

So there’s really no need to zombify them unless you just plain don’t like the wonderful works of art they produce, are afraid of the world changing, or you really really dig the idea of soulless corporations turning us all into clones.

ADD is way cool
I’m here to argue that what they’re calling a disorder is a blessing. Having a variable focus, being right-brained and creative, having a naturally active mind and plenty of vibrant energy, being able to split your concentration into several fruitful directions at once – why do they call it a disorder again?

A disorder is what they call it when your shit annoys others. When you’re so disorganized that bills go unpaid and you can’t find vital papers, when your desire to watch the scenery while you’re driving winds you up in an accident, then you’ve got a problem. If you’ve got a compulsion or an obsession or an addiction, it’s a problem when it gets bad enough to affect others. Until then, it’s just a predilection, so enjoy it.

There’s no call for making a lack of attention into a disorder and dosing people with psychiatric drugs. Even when it gets to where you sit around your place with stuff piled high all about you, watching the tube all day because your life is too fucked up to deal with, what you really need is not a legal addiction, but a few tricks for coping in a world that’s entirely too rational.

I question the negative connotations of the label Attention Deficit Disorder. I’ll let slide the idea that paying attention is necessarily good, for now. But deficit means a lack of something you need, and a disorder is something wrong with you that needs to be corrected, never mind whether you want it corrected or not.

Droids or humans?
What rings alarm bells for me is the image of a world of chemically blissed-out droids calmly accepting tasks and not being interested in questioning the issues. The qualities being attacked by hordes of helpful pharmaceuticals are the ones that make us fit awkwardly, uniquely into place, jostling and moving into a position we’re happy with rather than resigning ourselves to the place we’re assigned.

Typical ADD adolescents are the class clowns, the dreamers, the kids who draw cartoons, the girl who writes notes to her friends, instead of paying attention to the boring, shallow, outdated, irrelevant course material. Are we really drugging our future comedians, inventors, filmmakers, and politicians out of existence? Is fitting into a society where we all work for Big Behemoth, Inc. really what it’s all about? The hell with that.

If you look at it in a positive light, as if we’re the way we are for a reason, then there are lots of good things about being ADD. If you’re ADD, then you can be:
• Extremely intelligent, adaptable, energetic, athletic
• Visionary, insightful, open-minded, humorous
• Humble, compassionate, trusting 
• Resilient, passionate, hardworking
• Visual, artistic, imaginative, sensitive
• Verbally advanced, mechanically inclined 
• Creative, fun-loving, and optimistic

I need my ADD
Who wants to concentrate on one task at a time when you can multitask? Why drive down a green tunnel to work, like my ex, when you can cruise thru an endlessly varied and interesting landscape instead? And is there such a thing as too much energy and drive, too much enthusiasm and inner motivation? The more energy I have, the more I get done, and if left to my own devices, I am a whirlwind of activity and accomplishment, a never slowing dynamo of ideas and schemes, insight and investigation. I never stop thinking. I never stop moving. I never dull out or lose my edge, except for when I do exactly that on purpose. (See p_, Meditation tricks for the hyperactive.)

I take advantage of having a broad attention stream – I work on four or five paintings at a time, and you can see how I’ve written this book. I deal with attention-to-detail lapses by developing tricks, something my tremendously active imagination is very good at doing, because it takes a wicked lot of hard work to arrange a lazy life. I daydream and think almost all the time, and my dreams are laboratories of a different kind of consciousness. If I’m not paying attention to something, I don’t question whether I’m at fault or deficient in some way. I question why I should be paying attention to it at all. I question what’s wrong with whatever I’m being asked to pay attention to.

I spend whole afternoons bouncing from one topic to another, afternoons spent in ruminations, inspired cellphone calls to people, and scribbled notes in the back of a composition book, all bits and pieces of a train of deeply productive thought. If I thought in an orderly, rational way, I wouldn’t be capable of the breadth of understanding I can reach, never mind finding the time to just sit and think and let the thoughts develop.

I do things on impulse, because impulsive works for me. It’s part of my personality, what makes me so uniquely wild and crazy. It’s where my inspiration comes from. If I’m driving along and think of something wonderful, and I don’t scribble it down on a piece of paper, it’s gone for good. When I get the impulse to call someone, I invariably find that they’ve been thinking of me, or there’s something important to share or a contact to pass on. Whenever I turn down a different street on impulse, I usually run into a friend I haven’t seen in six months, and we go off to a pub and talk about everything until they kick us out. Impulsive is good. It’s not good if you like your day job. But I don’t care about that, because fitting in so you can hold down a day job robs you of the chance to make your real contribution to the universe, and therefore I’m against it.

Mr friendDave is a perfect case in point. As a work-study student, he was assigned the simple task of reordering a thousand or so student files in his college’s administrative offices. Just alphabetizing it, the task he was asssigned, would have been deadly boring and overly simple, and Dave can’t just do something the easy way, he’s always searching for the best way. While looking thru the folders, he was thinking about what really needed to happen in this situation, what unique thing he could add to make everything work a little better. Suddenly he flashed on the whole thing computerized and accessible throughout the system, and went to work on it, talking about the idea to anyone who would listen. By the time he had the guys in charge behind it, the ladies in the office were already using it.

And so Dave, because he’s too ADD to sit still and just do as he’s told, is responsible for a major change in the way they do things, something the ladies there greatly appreciate, and something that didn’t cost anything and didn’t involve consultants, engineers, or the bureaucracy.

People are like they are for a reason. All these qualities aren’t faults or things to overcome or suppress. They’re gifts. It’s these qualities of ADD – impulsiveness, inability to sit still, a short attention span, nonconformity – that are the very ingredients of creativity. Without these individual traits, you fit nicely into your cubicle and enjoy your work even tho it’s mindless and absurd. Without these quirks and idiosyncrasies, without a strong sense of individuality that won’t let you tolerate being a droid, you’re at the mercy of Big Behemoth, Inc. and its advertising subsidiaries to tell you how to live. And you can see every single day how much that sucks.

Hi, my name is Jeanne, and I’m an addict. (Hi Jeanne)

My particular addiction is to the creative process. I admit that I am powerless to control my absolute craving to sit down with a pen or a brush and make things. The urge is overwhelming; when it hits I sideline everything else and hide myself away where nobody can catch me being creative.

I feel such peace when I am indulging my addiction. It brings me joy, and a flowing feeling, a buzz of energy that makes me feel good.

I must admit that I nurture my addiction. I guard my stash, I protect my paraphernalia and isolate myself from interruptions; I dwell obsessively on what I will do the next time I’m able to tear myself away from normal reality to consume my drugs of choice (paints and pixels); I escape from tedious things like family interactions and dinner to sneak off and get high painting or writing.

I feel guilty, tho, even tho I enjoy my high so much. I feel like I should be able to be this happy even when I’m doing normal things like going to the grocery or sweeping the leaves. But I just can’t be as fulfilled when I’m doing normal things. Painting and writing bring me such peace, such energy, such thoughts!

I am powerless to stop, and wouldn’t want to, despite all the harm others tell me I’m doing to myself. Harm like not slaving for money, like not watching TV, like not thinking like a normal person.

But I tend to think that everyone would be better off if they had something that brought them as much pleasure. As an addict, I would be very happy if everyone else were addicts, too.

I’m in favor of addiction.

Addiction is good.

We deserve a crutch, a way to get away from reality too intense or too chronic or too unsolvable to deal with. It’s too hard to stay in the pain of our lives without looking for some normality to retreat to, another place where there is no pain.
Everybody, every day, routinely dulls some feeling of pain that they don’t want to deal with, whether it’s with alcohol, coffee, a cigarette, a joint, a book, watching TV, avoiding TV, exercise, sleeping, whistling in the dark, telling jokes to break the tension, sex, antidepressants, tranquilizers, cocaine, heroin, ecstacy, peyote, acid, meditation, prayer, religion, the promise of heaven. Everybody distances themselves from personal pain by using some distraction, some dulling mechanism.

Certain substances or methods are judged morally inferior. But this is a fallacy. Since everyone medicates themselves into some degree of numbness, some distance from whatever reality is personally too much to bear, then no method is better or worse than any other. Diferent substances are suitable or unsuitable to one personality or situation. Because we’re using it to dull our reality, cocaine is no different from religion – it’s our particular substance of choice.

If self-medication is our way of dealing with stress, then the better/worse argument shifts to how you deal with your addiction, not whether or not you’re addicted (addicted to what is no longer relevant, because we’re all addicted to something). If your addiction to 2 cups of coffee before 10 am is part of an efficient and capable daily routine, then I say that’s not just a crutch but a damn useful piece of furniture. If your addiction is to a gram of coke a day, and your driving is real shaky, then only god, the angels, and your karma can save your ass.

The mistake is in assuming that the lowly Bowery bum deserves to rot in the gutter because of some sin connected with his drinking, while the religion addict is better than everyone else and bound for heaven. The only real difference between them is the Bowery bum’s inability to cope with the stresses of life without physically unbearable amounts of his drug of choice.

Aristotle said, ‘Moderation in all things,’ and John Lennon, ‘Whatever gets you thru the night is all right’. These are the keys to coping with your life, not feeling self-righteous because your addiction of choice is better than others’.