Author Topic: Defense Mechanisms  (Read 2073 times)

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Defense Mechanisms
« on: December 01, 2019, 04:52:28 pm »
I am a monster.

They told me so my whole life, that I was evil and unnatural and inhuman. They said I was a deviant, that I was demonic, that I was a beast.

And the dictionary didn’t square with this, so I was wondering what they saw that I didn’t.

I was the kind of kid you could call, at an understatement, precocious. I was reading Yudkowsky’s early, pre-“rationalist” writings on AI and understanding what I was reading. Age of 13. But well before that I was ahead of the game: my first books included Les Chants de Maldoror, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy plus the Silmarillion (the Hobbit came about much later for me), and the White Crow books by Mary Gentle, starting with Rats and Gargoyles — all before I was 10.

I understood that the words they applied to me didn’t square with who I was. Even when I was a horrible person, my horrible was human horrible. (I was a sociopathic teenager, to say the least. I think I am not alone.)

So I understood that they were wrong or they knew something about me or about monsters that I didn’t. There were so many of them saying it that they couldn’t possibly be wrong, right? (Remember, I was a child.) And how could anyone know more about me than I did? (Again, child.)

That left knowing something about monsters and demons that I didn’t. So I went looking.

My first movie was Alien. 1979. Holds up as a fucking incredible film to this day, unrivaled for atmosphere, story, pacing. I watched Sci-Fi Channel originals on the daily. I watched that fucking film The Relic. Because of the monster.

And I saw something in them. Monsters are ultimately put in a corner. They’re just trying to live their lives. They’re animals or hominids or ghosts or demons, but their own natural order is all they’re trying to manage.

Then the heroes arrive and FUCK with them.

You’re a baby lost in a hostile environment of soft meat beasts and labyrinthine tunnels, trying to kill you. You have acid blood and teeth and claws but they have assault rifles and hate. Your life will be brutish and short if you don’t do unto them first.

I could get with that program. No problem. It squared with my experiences.

Over time, I saw more. Humanly relatable monsters, empathetic and kind. Monsters protecting their friends and family. And I had this seed inside me that said “I am a monster” and one that said “I am a good person.” And all this monster media I was eating kept getting tagged onto the monster seed. One day, finally, it matched up.

This would have been around 2009, age of 19, first time I came here as an active participant on the forums. I had finally found something in words and concepts that fit with who I was. I felt bold enough to come into a new community.

I was, however, still a child.

Having a shiny new idea of what and who you are doesn’t make you a human being. It makes you base-level sentient. Congrats, you passed the mirror test, here’s your existential crisis and your suffering you fucking dirtbag.

I learned that lesson here, hard. I didn’t understand: I should have been scary! I’m a monster! Aaaaaaaaaa! But instead I was an object of ridicule. Again.

Then life intervened and I ended up beginning my long, grueling passage through homelessness. Coincidentally, this started as I was beginning my exploration of left-hand path magick garbage. So you could call this my Qlippoth Crawl.

You learn things at the bottom. They’re the lessons that can kill you. Leave you too broken to continue on. Knowledge that becomes death.

But I had other lessons I had learned. I was the monster, after all. I was a nightmare and I would never die. I would protect what was important to me. I would be beaten but never broken.

And these first lessons gave me what I needed to keep running in the bad times. Not without fits and starts: who remembers Pittsburgh! It was hilarious! Not for me, at the time, but good god there was some shit there worth framing. But after the two separate sets of lessons began to interact, I became more human, ironically enough.

Because we are full of mirror neurons and projection, our monsters are, in aggregate, more human than we are.

As Howl rightly pointed out, however, I am alienated. And at this time I didn’t really know what that meant. I knew the dictionary definition, but not the right-down-in-the-bones knowledge I needed.

Then came Boston. And more importantly, After Boston.

After that brief reprieve from the worst life experiences I’d had, always an outsider, I was thrown right back into it.

As the saying goes: how can you know there is light without darkness? Same applies here: if you live your life in a lightless chasm, you have no way of knowing if you’re blind or if you just have never been near light sources.

New lessons came. And they stuck. Instead of treating people as always being out to get me by default, I had started recognizing some of them as being like me. And it hurt all the more when they treated me like shit, but it also meant I couldn’t put All Of That on other people. Some of it had to be me. Why would Other Monsters hate me, if not for me being Bad?

Tada!

The lesson was learned. I went through some of the most wretched shit in my life and came out having learned that while Most People are Awful, sometimes it is actually Me that is Awful.

I still identify with the monster. But like the Aliens of the later movies: this does not mean I am alone. There are other monsters out here, all with teeth and claws and acid blood. We protect each other, we protect the hive, we try to eke out a meaningful existence in a hostile, alien landscape that wants to kill us.

And like the humans in those movies: just because I am the victim does not mean I am not at fault. Some justice really is karmic.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Defense Mechanisms
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2019, 05:24:56 pm »
I had a similar experience - the part before the homeless part - and I decided early on that soft meat-beasts are not happy without a monster.  You see this in the news every day.

But it wasn't until middle age that I became comfortable with being the monster. 

Quote from: The Human Glossary
Friend (n):  Someone who has not yet had sufficient incentive to fuck you over.

For the last 4 years or so, I am more than happy being what I am.  Especially right now.
Molon Lube

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Re: Defense Mechanisms
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2019, 12:38:05 am »
As a fellow monster I award this post with a golden potato.

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Re: Defense Mechanisms
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2019, 08:23:10 pm »
Revisiting this, I want to add something else I learned After Boston. Something that, upon reflection, might be no less important.

I am still responsible even if I can’t control it.

It applies to life situations as much as emotional damage. Recent example: it isn’t my fault that I am poor and have no co-signer to back me up. But it’s my responsibility to minimize how much that affects other people who are relying on me to come through. And when I failed, that was my fault.

I had no control over my failure, but if I don’t own it it becomes Someone Else’s Problem forever. And that means I can ignore chances I can take to find a fix. It’s a blank check for mediocrity.

Even though I can’t fix it myself, I can put the work in to try and find a fix for it. If I didn’t try, it would be unreasonable to say everyone else should feel I had no responsibility.

You can’t stop reality from happening to you, but you can damn well fight back. You don’t always win, but not putting up a fight is a guaranteed loss.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.