there is no there there, and i’m not talking about oakland—or, how not to be delusional


DELUSION: “An idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality…”

Many believe the religious are delusional. That’s understandable given that the nature of religion is to traverse the sphere of the imperceptible. But most of us do experience love, beauty, truth, spirit: ‘things’ without form. We know they exist even though they can’t be dissected or factually proven.

Yet science can be delusional, too. First, by trying to dismiss the ineffable because it cannot be ‘proven,’ but also by subconsciously projecting subjective beliefs on ‘impartial’ hypotheses. If something doesn’t present like a human, then what’s objectively looked for doesn’t exist. Example: deciding that animals—and until 1987, babies!!!—don’t experience pain, mainly because animals’ faces aren’t expressive like us humans and many animals/insects don’t vocalize pain when suffering or, more likely, not on wave lengths that we hear.

My point is delusional subjectivity is found in every area of life, not confined to the realms of religion or science, the seen or the unseen. It’s not an either/or world.

Delusional Disorder is one thing, but “benign” delusion’s a social irritant that just keeps growing.

I realize that wishing for change, yet continuing doing the learned is common. There’s a name for an aspect of that: cognitive dissonance. Think of the many people who desire to jettison extra weight, quit a soul-sucking  job, get in shape, learn a language or instrument but just somehow…don’t.

Wishing is a start that used to translate into genuine want, which would transform into actual action and then and only then did the possibility of arriving at the aspiration begin. Catch that? That’s the START, not the conclusion.

It’s not enough to retrieve a wish from the ‘land of possibilities’—where one may desire many conflicting things simultaneously but never truly choose anything—and convert it into a genuine want. But to actually arrive at reality, effort must be taken.* You have to pick up the instrument, literally look for a different job, work out… Reasonable, right?

This last, often unrealized, step is the place of fantasy that I’m seeing more often. In young children, make-believe is developmentally appropriate, but adults? Uh…no. Yet many Generation X-ers—30s to mid 40s—(Doug Coupland said they have no allegiances to anyone or anything, and get no allegiances in return) carry the irrational belief that to just want something is magically sufficient enough work to obtain it. Business owner friends say that half of their employees see work as a noun, not a verb.

The land of possibilities reveals no inner core, no chosen life rudder, no morés. Having everything ‘open’ means there’s no sound footing. True freedom comes from responsibility, not lack. Responsibility—ability to respond—occurs from an integrated, discerning Self. Reaction, impulsiveness, compulsion happen when there’s no “there there,” as Gertrude Stein wrote. Stimulation is not inspiration.

Heart & logic, ethereal & empirical are simultaneously essential components to a fully realized choice, to deeper evolution. The polarization of “all or none” must alchemize into “and & both” if we want to inhabit an authentic, non-delusional life.

*See: “do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”



One of many problems with living within the patriarchal paradigm—be you female, male, flora or fauna—is that our emotional worlds are demoted to a second class, non-logical, weak place never to be visited. The ridiculousness of that stance can be illustrated by suggesting that eyes are superior to mouth or that fingers are better than toes. They’re all interdependent and anyone proposing that logic, without emotion, is the intelligent way to live isn’t participating in a functional relationship with themselves.

Simply put, the amygdala—part of the Limbic system—deals with fear responses, hormones, pleasure, aggression and emotional memories. The frontal lobe is equated with expressive language, motor skills, socialization, reasoning and higher level cognition like planning and impulse control. Pure intellect is unintelligible. How can the rational brain think or pursue a logical line of thought if it were not extensively in touch with our desires, fears, values, intentions?

Long-term stress predisposes changes in the amygdala and the frontal cortex which lead to anxiety and poor decision-making. This explains why decisions we make when we’re stressed out appear brilliant, but usually promise regret.

So what does this have to do with pseudo emotions? Well, if it’s unsafe to have real emotions, you’ve two basic choices: hide them or subconsciously fabricate look-alikes to appear to have them. Like Republicans who sport punk dress or the iconic wolf wearing a sheepskin or Chast’s “smileys” above, what passes for feelings in this narcissistically twisted ‘rational’ world are head-based emotions.

All true feelings are experienced in the body.* Hence, when one is in genuine fear (not anxiety) the gut is often the physical base of fear. Love is often experienced as fizzy warmth in the stomach, not the over-sweet mind drivel that fashions fantasies of white knight heroes and male-sexualized women. [see help me I think I’m falling…in distraction again]

Here’s a list of ’emotions’ I believe originate in the mind and are commonly pawned off as authentic feeling:

  • sentimentality vs. love
  • doubt vs. questioning (quest)
  • guilt vs. responsibility (ability to respond)
  • duty vs. compassion
  • judgmental separation vs. personal boundaries
  • manipulation/withdrawing vs. connection
  • dread/anxiety vs. fear
  • remembering vs. sensing
  • regret vs. understanding/lesson absorbed
  • victim-hood/narcissistic injury vs. hurting

Experiencing yourself as a victim is not being in your feelings. Just because you hurt doesn’t mean another has actually produced that ‘injury,’ though, to be fair, they often do. Fear of pain is not the same thing as actual pain. An authentic threat will generate adrenaline but fear of fear is not authentic feeling, just a head-thought masquerading as emotion.

A paradigm that dismisses a cogent connection between heart and head is SO irrational that it logically could only have lead to this trashed planet forming the messy, indulgent, addicted, violent, cruel culture most of us are forced to interact with.

You’ll have to spend time rationally ruminating over the difference between real and perceived feelings since most of us are conditioned early on to ignore our physical signals in favor of head thought. We’ll need to harmonize the brain and the heart if we want accurate cognition and not ego/mind-driven lives. The body will be our guide.

*This doesn’t mean head-emotions don’t confuse or overburden the body and cause disease.

pollyanna is passive aggressive


Why is it when you have a complaint about the world, governmental ineptitude, hair, academic insularity, overcooked spaghetti, other people, xmas glut, phones, public toilets, the arts industries, parties, dumb guy movies, vampires, the patriarchal paradigm or religion some people feel compelled to nullify it by shoving the “bright side” in your face? Or dismiss your “sad, cynical state” with a gentle-yet-smug head shake.

Pollyannas aren’t interested in profound darker truths about life; just light ones. It seems that a day without nighttime is fine with them, and maybe they only prefer inhaling. But, realistically, that isn’t the full, round ambiance of our planet. Shadows materialize and are more “lustrous” in the sun, yet the pollyanna seems blind.

The problem is not just that pollyannas excrete a positive viscosity over life but that they’re illogically optimistic; you can’t discuss serious issues or philosophies and opinions that might touch those nasty banished parts of themselves. They get visibly anxious, start projecting and see you as Debbie Downer. No resolutions can be found to most of life’s events from large to small except: “it’s meant to be” “is god’s plan” or “it all happens for a reason.”

I, too, believe things happen for a reason but not from denial of what is. Contrarily, engaging in what is—be it deemed “negative” or “positive” by the pollyanna—helps me make rational sense of that reason. BTW, my definition of good and bad: what wakes me up is good, regardless of whether or not it feels good, and what’s bad is what puts me ‘to sleep’ even if it feels great.

Pollyannas take genuine truths but twist them into sappy sentiments because they’re not infused with living pain. I didn’t say pollyannas don’t have pain, they’re just so afraid of and powerless in the face of their anguish—apparently never having been taught how to be with it—that they cage it in the cellar and have Golum feed it saccharine: I am the master of my fate! It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown! Chin up! It’s not happy people who’re thankful but thankful people who’re happy!

I’m sorry for children who aren’t taught to embrace all of their emotions with compassion and I’m sorry for all the rest of us who are judged as being too intense, sad or—heaven forbid—negative. But mostly, I feel sorry for pollyannas and their delusional half-lived state. We can’t really touch them because they’re not yet fully formed.

You can only participate in life’s bliss—which often feels few and far between—if you willingly cuddle with your shadows. Pollyannas seem a long way away from this acceptance as they ‘bright-side-of-life’ their suffering away and discount anyone who reminds them of their ostracized despair.

Let Monty Python take it from here: always look on the bright side of life.