I Dare You (Clans of the Alphane Moon Review Part One)

May 5, 2015 at 4:46 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Photo on 5-4-15 at 6.36 PM

On page 42 and I already teared up twice. should not make me so emotional.

Here I am still chronicling my emotional well being through Philip K. Dick novels.  I’m torn between telling myself to shut up and stop being a drama queen and diving into a full on crisis regarding empathy and my constant struggle to have some.  Sympathy is really my problem.  I can put myself in someone else’s shoes just fine, embrace, feel what they feel and all that – so a struggle for empathy isn’t truly my issue.  It’s sympathy I don’t have.  I won’t pity others, I won’t feel sorry for your plights.  I will consistently tell you to suck it up – I might also slap your ass and say “Go Team.”

The question is, should I pity and sympathize?  I was always taught those things were the most condescending things you could feel for another person.  But not feeling them seems to make me crass, blunt to the point of tactless, and generally unpleasant to those in my outer affiliations as well as my inner most circles.

“Tell me if I start to sound bitchy, because I don’t understand why ________ can’t get their shit together,” I told my Em over coffee.  I know how they feel, I understand the issues, the struggle, and still I’ve been there and I survived and I’m not any good with my feelings… I just don’t think anyone anywhere holds the license to struggle more than another, so stop whining and figure it out.  (Take note that I am completely aware that I am currently – and often – whining about this.)

“Ok, you’re being a bitch,” my faithful friend told me.

Fair enough.

Chuck’s wife, Mary, in Clans of the Alphane Moon is a terrible person.  I relate to her more than anyone in any of his novels so far.  So much so that when Chuck starts wanting to murder her, I started to tear up – again – because I see that she deserves his murderous thoughts, but I can’t see how she could possibly want anything different than what she wants.  She’s unfair, unforgiving, horrible for sending her daughter away, terrible in almost every way.  And I understand her.

In all this struggle for a empathetic balance, I am not sad that she might get murdered, I’m sad that she is the character I identify with. Am I a shrew? I don’t think so.  But I could be. It’s probably silly for me to take Philip K. Dick novels so personally.  Shouldn’t they be genre sci-fi candy to binge read? No. For some reason, every one is something I feel deeply about.  I run on two speeds… psychotically passionate for no reason and completely numb.

I dare you to read Philip K. Dick and feel numb.  I dare you.

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The Secret Life of Captain X

September 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

P1000345Title:The Secret Life of Captain X

Author: Mrs X Nomore

Genre: Memoir

Length: 232 pages

If the title isn’t ominous enough, what comes after it tells you all you need to know: “My Life with a Psychopath Pilot.”

I was on the fence about this book.  It sounded so intriguing, but psychopaths (as the author mentions) are often described in ways that don’t address the mundane in them – it’s always some fantastical Hollywood version, involving axes and whatnot, rather than the every day drama a psychopath will stir up.

Part One is well written (well, the whole book is well written) although a tad whiny.  It’s hard to read the first half of the book and not think, “Ok, the guy is a manipulative turd, but a person doesn’t have to dwell on everything that sucks for so long.  People, especially in relationships, have shitty years… but to be victimized for twenty-two years, there has to be more than this one sided ‘I was always lonely’ business.”  She sounds miserable from the start.  But hang in with Mrs X Nomore and her story – she’s letting you know what makes you a target.  She’s identifying the reasons why she was blinded by the love bombing and the falsehoods… she WAS lonely and unhappy, she was seeking love, she did not have many solid relationships with people nearby.  As someone already feeling isolated, she was in the perfect position to be duped.

Despite my annoyances at all the red flags (that though I may not have identified as psychopath behavior would have turned me off real quick, now, not necessarily a year or two ago), the story propelled me rather rapidly into the graphic details of Mrs X’s discoveries during the divorce.  The man really was a sick freak, trolling the internet for prostitutes, girlfriends, and more victims all during their marriage.  I could have done without some of the descriptions and skimmed over a lot of Captain X’s sex site postings that are quoted in the book.

This book is not for the feint of heart.  Well done, Mrs X Nomore, for getting out of there and finding your therapy in writing.  I think it’s obvious that writing the book was healing for you and your purpose of raising awareness about psychopathy is succeeding.

This book makes you realize how easy it is to want to judge and say decisively what you would or wouldn’t do in a similar situation – but no matter how hard I try to put myself in the same situation in my mind’s eye, there’s really no telling.  Although I may have crossed paths with psychopaths and sociopaths over the years, I was never married to one, and a marriage bond makes all the difference.  How do you try to be “one” with someone who has no conscience, no empathy, no remorse?  You don’t.  As soon as you find out, you run for the hills.

Despite her age, Mrs X Nomore has a young writing voice.  She seems pretty hip for someone with arthritis, replaced hips, and a grown daughter.  I giggled when she called her new apartment her new “digs.”  It was hard to reconcile the age she kept telling me she was with her writing and her story.  Mostly because of social constraints, I think.  It’s easier to envision a nineteen year old being duped in such a fashion – much harder to know she married him at thirty-nine and she was getting divorced during her “golden years.”  It’s just another point she has to prove to the public: It doesn’t take a young girl to get suckered by a man like this – just a woman looking for a relationship.

I both love and hate the way this book is structured, mostly because it presents some very specific implications:

Psychopaths exist.

This level of deception happens….

and the deceiver is not who you’d expect.

Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy /ˈsoʊsiəˌpæθi/) is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior. It may also be defined as a continuous aspect of personality, representing scores on different personality dimensions found throughout the population in varying combinations. The definition of psychopathy has varied significantly throughout the history of the concept; different definitions continue to be used that are only partly overlapping and sometimes appear contradictory. – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

In the epilogue, Mrs X Nomore concludes:

I didn’t move to Costa Rica to escape psychopaths.  They are everywhere, easily blending into a crowd.  We shouldn’t live in fear, but we must be aware that up to four percent of our population is made up of these social predators, and we should avoid them at all costs.

She also lists a plethora of additional resources for continuing your education on the topic, as well as finding healing if you have been a victim.

 

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An Autistic History

February 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

notevenwrongTitle: Not Even Wrong

Author: Paul Collins

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Memoir/ Psychology

Length: 245 pages

I’ve journaled nearly twenty pages of commentary on this book.  Now, having finished it, I’m not sure what I should share and what should be kept to myself.

Collins does a spectacular job sharing memoir with known history, diving into tales from the world and mixing it with tales from his personal world.  The first few chapters are dedicated to his pursuit of Peter the Wild Boy and an existing desire to write a biography on the mysterious boy who was ‘rescued’ by King George. (Reference to the boy made in Notes and Queries, of course.)  Collins later discovers his son is autistic.

The entire book is an ode to his son and his autism.  An ode to their life, their relationship, the world of Autists.

Therefore a lot of information is shared regarding what that means.  A lot of reflection on the gene pool it takes to cook up such a neurological anomaly that is an essential part of humanity as a whole.  The trifecta being science, art, and math.

Collins writes on page 96:

Apparently we have been walking around with the genetic equivalent of a KICK ME sign:

my father: mechanical engineer

jennifer’s father: musician, math major

my brother: phd in computing

jennifer: painter

me

At this point, I remember taking my own personal inventory.  My father is a civil engineer, not only that he was a musician and painter, and suffers from what I think is undiagnosed and extremely mild tourettes (also discussed in Collins’ book).  My immediate cousins and family members on that side of the family are musicians and scientists.  Some work in labs, some in an engineering field.  Although I’ve been an English and History girl my whole life, much to my father’s chagrin, I was raised by and around extremely scientific minds.  I think I get all the feelings and other eccentricities from my mother’s side.  But in a parallel universe, had I somehow procreated with people I had dated in college rather than the love of my life whom I married – musicians, computer geeks, Synesthesiacs (also discussed in Collins’ book) – I think I was very close to wearing that KICK ME sign as well.

Looking at the world through the eyes of Collins’ research, I think many people have been close to wearing that sign.  I think everyone should read through this book and see just how close.  It’s enlightening.  It’s scary.  It’s beautiful.

There are so many amazing people through out history who have changed the face of humanity – the way we work – integral parts of society and science… and they were very likely autistic.   Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol, Paul Erdos.  These people are essential to who we are as a species today.  These people have made our world more beautiful, even though they are very likely to be the same people described on page 109:  “Imagine if you tried to pretend to understand people, but didn’t really.  So you rehearse it all in your head: taking notes, analyzing every social action, trying to connect it all together.”  I don’t have to imagine.  I may not be a genius like Albert Einstein, I may not be as clever as Glenn Gould, and I’m certainly not nearly as eccentric as Andy Warhol – but I know all about rehearsing, taking notes, analyzing, and still feeling quite out of the loop.  A little bit of understanding from the rest of the world goes a long way in my book – even though I’m not so good at understanding the rest of the world, I’m trying to be better about it.

“You know, it used to be that when I saw someone acting or talking strangely, or just being odd on the bus, I’d think to myself: What’s his problem? I still have that reaction.  But now I stop, pause, and have a second thought: No, really, what is that man’s problem? There is a decades-long chain of events that created the person who are seeing.” – pg. 213

Paul Collins brings a little bit of humanity and the importance of curiosity and empathy into ALL his work.  For that I adore him, and will always adore him, forever.

On that note, I want to check out the artwork of his wife.  I love art.  I love paintings.  I am the CMO of an art company called Aoristos and I’m curious to see the style of art the spouse of my favorite author paints.  If anyone knows and can provide reliable links – please do.

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Get Me Out of Here

January 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

borderline

Title: Get Me Out of Here

Author: Rachel Reiland

Genre: Memoir/ Psychology

Length: 447 pages

There was no hope for this book – it is so fascinating and so full of raw heart and soul of a person and her mental illness – my copy is obliterated with underlines and notes in margins. I read all 447 pages in less than a 12 hour period, without shirking my life responsibilities, and gave it a five star rating. I recommend it to anyone trying to understand the inner workings of a mentally ill brain.

“One of the saddest facts isn’t that there is still a child within you but that you’re so ashamed of that child.  What’s even sadder is that you have always been ashamed of that child, even when you were one.” – pg. 141

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City of Fallen Angels and Lilith Lore

July 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm (Education, JARS, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Lilith in Atrology, click to read more

*Spoilers*

I sat down with City of Fallen Angels over a week ago, but just finished it this morning.  The first half was hard for me to get into, having the melodrama equivalent of The Twilight Saga’s New Moon, which drove me nuts.  The climax to ending though, of course was amazing.  Finally pieces were coming together and the “we love each other but can’t be together AGAIN” crap had some semblance of purpose.  More importantly, Clare hooked me with the introduction of a character that I’ve already had a long time fascination for (SPOILER ALERT): Lilith.

I have many interests, and though I tend to purchase books sporadically, when reading through my TBR’s I’d like to think that I do it with a little finesse, with purpose.  Years ago, I did a brief research day on Lilith, spawned from a conversation I had with someone completely convinced that Adam from Genesis had two wives.  I was startled that someone would think this and wanted to get to the root of it all, and spent my astonishment reading through websites, encyclopedias, and other reference material.  I have days like this, spent on a particular topic, often.  Mostly I end up purchasing things to read later.  Who would have thought that Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrumentsseries would have made that long ago ‘later’ into today’s now.

So I plucked The Book of Lilithby Barbara Black Koltuv, Ph.D., off my shelf, and started reading.  Much of the Hebrew mythology surrounding Lilith I was already familiar with from my previous research, but Koltuv has opened to my eyes to an entire history spanning across many cultures with lore about the demon that embodies all things feminine.

The most confusing thing about Lilith (that Koltuv sorts out for the reader well) is all the contradictions embodied in her.  She is supposed to be the first wife of Adam, equal to him being brought up from the dust like him, rather than a submissive form pulled from his bones.  Yet, she is also a she-demon, according to many as powerful as God, equal but opposite.  Some say she is God’s concubine, some say she is Lucifer’s current wife, but still Adam’s ex.  She is often linked or married to the King of the Demons known as Samael.  Sometimes Samael is thought to be equal to Lucifer, and sometimes he is thought to be Lucifer’s version of Adam, his own creation.  All the mythology overlaps making Lilith a strange, cloudy line between humanity and Satan, but always the opposite of Truth, Goodness, and Steadfastness in every way.  These characters are full of secrets and lies, evil, and are ever changing according to the story tellers grasp and manipulation.  One would expect nothing less from those who are supposed to counter balance God.

Lilith in History, click to view a concise but informative website

The most consistent version of Lilith is that she is a succubus for men, and “for women she is the dark shadow of the Self that is married to the devil” (Koltuv).  Like Cassandra Clare’s character in City of Fallen Angels, she is a baby killer and is known as the goddess of dead children, Clare uses this concept as a cult inadvertently kill their offspring via demon blood while trying to please her.

So tied to feminism and the uterus, people also believe that she is ever linked to women in the form of the curse of our menstrual cycle.  Tethered to our raging hormones, sexuality, and PMS.  This line of thinking eventually made possible the transition of Lilith of evil she-demon to a goddess and Feminist icon/idol.  It is amazing that this mythical creature has managed to be so many things (even a screeching night owl and a Leviathan)!  Some of the discrepancies can be attributed to the idea of there being two Liliths: a Grandmother Lilith (married to Samael) and a Maiden Lilith (married to a dark prince of demons, Ashmodai).

I find it all rather fascinating.  Throughout history people have linked Lilith to hundreds of stories, and though I don’t belive any of them as fact (I personally plop her right in there with Zeus, Athena, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), I find the use of her in fiction pretty riveting.

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