On Verbal versus Preverbal Thinking

(Epistemic status:  Probably noncontroversial, anecdotal, mental processes)

There’s a thing I’ve noticed when I feel like I’m in a state of “flow” that is best defined by describing my thought processes when I am not in “flow”.  If you hadn’t guessed, I am a very, very verbal thinker.  Most things I approach is analyzed on a conscious, verbal level.  Sometimes I might make a quick decision, but I analyze it in a verbal fashion shortly after.  When I am in “flow”, the words just do not happen.

So, the first time I really started realizing my verbal processing wasn’t actually being engaged when I was in “flow” was when I was playing fighting games.  I started to feel this lightness, this energy, this focus, and a spiraling inward on a single concept of just…being in the game.  I wasn’t trying to strategize or even be tactical.  I just felt the entire fighting space, knew where I needed to be and was making decisions before I could even think about them, in complex enough patterns that I wasn’t completely predictable.  This seems to be accompanied by a sort of presence in my playstyle that causes the other player to make more and more mistakes.  Breaking my fighting game flow state isn’t too hard; once the other person breaks the sense that they are in the losing role and that I’m moving too fast for them (sometimes even by getting a lucky hit in and then pressing the advantage) I start going back to higher levels of slow, verbal thinking which just can’t keep up.

After this observation, I realized I have a flow state in other situations, particularly social situations.  There’s a point where I’m not thinking about how to guide the conversation and the back and forth is preverbal and natural; while I am of course using words to converse, I’m not on the high, strategic level where I’m trying to singlehandedly maintain the conversation.  When I reach conversational flow, it tends to feel really good for both participants (assuming I am not misreading my conversation partners, of course).  Flow also can occur when I’m writing essays.  The first couple paragraphs usually are a bit forced but it gets me to the state where I’m just seeing the sentences fluidly and typing what comes to mind, once I’m in the mode of the subject I am typing about.
My intuition on how this all works is that preverbal thinking is accessing a spatial representation of concept/habit/skill.  This has several advantages:

1) Words work in 2 dimensional space even mentally; space is 3 dimensional, which means you can see more of it at once, in a metaphorical sense.
2) Working in 3 dimensional space means that connections are easier to form; you don’t have to “read” back to previous concepts, they’re just there even if they were thought of further back
3) Seeing is faster than listening/reading.  You’re taking away a layer of filtering to access a much faster level of thought.
4) Space allows for much more efficient chunking of concepts, you can collapse a paragraph into an object and represent several of those at once, up to working memory.

The issue with this is that you have to have sufficient facility with a concept or skill to actually accomplish anything with preverbal chunking.  The verbal level allows you to break down the steps of what you are doing, go over your process with a fine comb, and improve it.  To get back to the preverbal level, you have to repeat a working verbal process over and over to start compressing mentally what you are doing.  A plausible (and probably already modelled) conception of skill and habit acquisition is that you start preverbal, doing a thing badly because you don’t even have the words; going verbal to debug your process; staying verbal to reinforce your process; shifting back preverbal to conserve mental processing and access more of the skill at once.  I also believe that skills don’t just do this once, but repetitively; you start bad, you gain proficiency, you start doing it naturally, you plateau because you’re running preverbally and are starting to notice more improvements, you bring it back verbal, you debug, you reinforce, then you take it back to preverbal.  This feels a lot like how I’ve learned to play fighting games on a slightly higher than basic level.

I don’t think this explanation really covers why a flow state is so powerful and effective.  It makes sense in terms of learning theory but flow also feels really really good.  I suspect there is some reward process involved here that favors increasing and acquiring skills, particularly skills you already have an aptitude for.  To get into evo-psych hell, my next question would be whether flow is a universal feeling, or a feeling some people have that others don’t; the follow up to that would be how “skillful” people with flow feel compared to people without.  Objective data on this would be even cooler (if anyone has this, please reblog and link because I love studies).  

The other thing that is more interesting and important to explore is how to induce a state of flow in more situations and whether feeling good about a task makes you better at it.  On the one hand, I feel like being in a state of flow most of my life would be great and I’d feel and possibly be really successful.  On the other hand, if flow state is largely just being really, really good at habit, then this would directly go against my values of neophilia.  I think a good way to explore this more would be using the Save State Hypnosis (not yet posted, but effectively binding memories of experience and emotion to smell, touch, and trigger word) to capture flow (which may be intrinsically impossible because doing the Save State ritual may break flow), and then invoke the Save State when I am approaching a new task and see if acquisition increases or if I start at a higher level, while noting if seemingly related skill chunks are being drawn in because my mind feels like it should be in flow or if I gain a higher intuitive understanding by forcing it.  I will link the report here after I do it.

Discussion:  Do you have a state of flow?  How does it feel?  When does it trigger?  Does it actually make you better at things or just make you feel like you’re better at things?

On The Demon Queen

(Epistemic status:  Part of the Archetypal Filter series, actual pragmatic thing I am doing with my life, probably the only post in this series that will interest anyone, slight dissociative risk herein, possibly NSFW I filter sexual dominance this way; manipulation cw, amorality cw, glamourizing being a shitty person cw)

The highest risk archetype that I have is, predictably, The Demon Queen.  It started becoming a comfortable archetype when it was pointed out to me that I can, on occasion, exhibit Dark Triad traits (Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy).  So there are three things about this:  One, those traits are actually useful in some instances.  Two:  It feels good to indulge those traits.  And three, those traits are a great way to really do cool things in the short term and then be really confused why your long run involves a lot of burned bridges.  This is not a nice archetype, it is not a good archetype.  The utility function of this archetype is quite simple.

To win.

The Demon Queen is an archetype meant to be deployed as social offense.  It is not really meant for friendly interaction except for those that want to be treated with this level of selfish disregard.  It is a high dominance archetype, focused on maximizing the aforementioned Dark Triad traits.  Machiavellianism makes winning feel like winning because it’s intricate, planned, manipulative; it feels like being the player at a chess board, with other people as pieces.

Narcissism mostly means that self interest is the core principle which tends to weight other people’s concerns as less relevant.  Turns out this expands the space you can work in quite a bit.  Lastly, psychopathy means not having to be concerned about collateral damage or feeling guilty.  These aren’t traits that are sustainable interaction wise but they can give a short term boost in one off situations where I’m in zero sum social conflict. 

The other fun thing about The Demon Queen is that I am extremely sadomasochistic in that state.  Suffering is just good.  It’s good to personally experience, it’s good to inflict on others, it’s good to just see others suffering it.  This actually is a huge drawback to the social advantages but very helpful in the bedroom, so to speak.  It can be kept in check but sometimes it’s nice to know how a move executed by The Demon Queen has ruined someone’s day.  The suffering aspect also helps with pain management considerably.  If I am in pain and it won’t go away, I can usually specifically notice it and just…focus on it, upcycle on it by filtering it through The Demon Queen.  I legitimately recommend doing this for anyone able to do any reframing whatsoever to deal with pain, because even without a Demon Queen, you can often find really fascinating aspects of pain space.

The Demon Queen is very, very sensitive to a concept I call “power on the table.”  Even in zero state, I sort of have a feel for hierarchy; who listens to who, who has the most status in a room, etc.  I think most people do.  The Demon Queen has this up to 11.  I can see almost visually exchanges of power, and see when “power is on the table” in a conversation I’m having.  The Demon Queen is very, very happy when there is power on the table, because it will take it.  After all, if someone is leaving power on the table for whatever reason, that’s like consenting to letting the Demon Queen do whatever it likes, right?  If someone is showing that weakness, it’s an invite to react with strength and to take what’s on the table so it’s no longer their responsibility.  It is, in fact, a sign I’m slipping into this archetype if I start talking about “power on the table.”  If you notice that, please feel free to ask if I am filtering that way.

The Demon Queen generally assumes she is operating from a position of strength and uses presence and social manipulation to make sure that is generally true.  Using The Demon Queen from a position of weakness would generally be unwise; people generally will not put up with her shit if they think they can punish it.  I suppose if one were trying to counter The Demon Queen socially, it would be displaying more strength/social carry than she can bring to bear.  

In D/s, the Demon Queen basically gets off on suffering.  Like, once you consent to be dominated by the Demon Queen, she basically wants you to cry and literally suffer.  Sometimes it’s good pain, sometimes it’s bad, she doesn’t really care.  I will always, always respect a safe word, even in this state.  I also am not entirely The Demon Queen, so I usually zero state afterward to provide aftercare.  The Demon Queen is very intense, dominance wise, but she’s not unsafe because it’s not my default mode.  I need to work with this more in real life play rather than online play; being bound by reality and having to watch out for the health of the other person may make things more difficult but more satisfying.

The Demon Queen is addicting because social dominance is generally rewarded if executed well.  It can easily be too much and lose a lot of face but if applied elegantly, it generally commands respect.  In addition, feeling like you are powerful is fairly rewarding.  In instances I have indulged the Demon Queen and gained a lot of control over someone, it’s been almost euphoric.  It’s just also a little morally hazardous.

If it’s not obvious, The Demon Queen is an archetype that needs to be controlled to be effective.  I am still working on that control mechanism, but it likely will involve subtly weaving the utility function of The Doll or The Professional into the general operating parameters of The Demon Queen, in the sense that if those utility functions are violated, then The Demon Queen is forced to turn off and I go into zero state and hope like hell I can fix whatever I broke or whatever I was about to break.  I may perhaps need more controls in the future (I also intend to ask the question “Will I not want to tell people about what I did when this is over” when I’m engaging The Demon Queen as another control.)

Overall, I like The Demon Queen, a lot.  PUA’s would probably call it “state,” the feeling I have when I’m filtering the world through that archetype.  Unfortunately, it turns out, social anxiety is just a hyperactive expression of an important concept of social risk, and The Demon Queen often ignores social risk to an unhealthy degree.  It’s overcorrecting in the opposite direction. 

Discussion:  Does The Demon Queen resonate with anyone?  In what ways?  Does it feel different to you to be socially cooperative and successful versus social adversarial and successful?  Do you think The Demon Queen is too dangerous to actively use?  Why or why not?

On Updating the Archetypal System

(Epistemic status:  Idea modification, errata, turns out active interventions get refined sometimes)

Note:  This is a bonus post, there will be another post today.

The Archetype System has been my focus for the past couple weeks.  It is one of most exciting social/narrative breakthroughs and has almost infinite discussion potential (until people get sick of it, of course).  It also is kind of rounding a lot of concepts, and it turns out the map isn’t actually the territory.  There have been progressions and updates to my initial post.  This post is intended to go over them.

First, I reject The Analyst as one of my archetypes.  I can define every other archetype simply as Name, Utility Function, Traits Favored.  Boom, that’s an archetype.  I cannot do that with The Analyst.  I try to look into the utility function, and it’s like “idk, anxiety?”.  The traits favored are also relatively flat and unexciting.  It doesn’t feel like a real description of a thing I use.

Second, this unfortunately breaks a lot of the dualities and deeper meanings I got from the archetype, and brings me down to 5.  I still feel like 6 archetypes is the “proper” number, but I haven’t figured out my sixth.  The concept of The Performer seems promising but I need to develop it a bit more before I accept it into my categorization system.

Third, the opposite of the zero state might well be something I’m tentatively calling the infinity state (as opposed to Seven which was dumb as fuck).  I feel like it captures the concept of a state of metaflow, where I have flow I can apply to anything by actively optimizing my traits in the moment, creating short term archetypes to handle any situation.  This also feels like the state I’m in when I do create a new archetype.  It just overall feels fast and vast.

Fourth, I think combination states are possible.  I will elaborate on these in a future post, but essentially, I have accidentally used two filters at once when a situation called for it, and experienced more than double efficacy.  This might be a harder thing to force, but I think it might be something I can consciously control in the future.

Overall, any system I come up with is always a work in progress and it’s important to know when I can let go of ideas.  Feel free to ask anything you’d like to know about the archetype system or how I’ve developed it or how my intuitions around it work, I will happily answer.

On The Doll

(Epistemic status:  Part of the Archetypal Filter series, actual pragmatic thing I am doing with my life, slight dissociative risk herein, possibly NSFW I kind of filter sexual submission this way)

The Doll is an interesting archetype because it is a very natural archetype to me, formed by tendencies I’ve noticed in myself that I wish to cultivate in certain mental states.  It is also a constructed archetype, because the concept of The Doll is very, very important to me and it is a concept I want to develop and mature.  It is also intrinsically artificial; the concept of Craft imparts it conscious adjustment.  The utility function of The Doll is to please her owner.  More precisely, to be perfect for her owner.  In a non D/s context, it would be the archetype that reflects the desires of others, to be perfect for their interaction style.  I have not used it frequently in non-D/s contexts but hypothetically it is a good socially defensive archetype.

The Doll is a little different from the other archetypes because I have a very discrete model of virtues The Doll is supposed to uphold;  I feel like this model may actually be helpful in elaborating on the other archetypes in a more concrete fashion.  The virtues of The Doll are stillness, quietness, craft, perfection (or beauty), emptiness, and agentlessness.  There are other important concepts, but those felt the most salient.

The concept of stillness is simple; it is peace and predictability.  A doll generally shouldn’t move but that’s a bit impractical when using the concept as a lens for approaching the world when you’re not an object, so I have a concept of stillness while moving that largely boils down to not being sudden.  Being deliberate, slow, and predictable.  In some ways, those around the doll should feel as if the movement is initiated by them, a response they caused.  Stillness is also stillness of mind, the ability to be peaceful and detached from one’s surroundings.  It’s almost a stoicness lent to the doll by giving up control, accepting things as they are.

The concept of quietness is also roughly what it sounds like but there is depth to it beyond just being seen and not heard.  Quietness, like stillness, reflects less absolute silence (though that’s nice too), and more the sensation of responses being provoked and controlled by your interaction partner.  You are not a cause in yourself, they are.  On another level, quietness is subordinating communication of the self to being the adornment of another.  Whether you are explicitly an adornment of an owner or just a conversational adornment for someone to talk with to clarify their own thoughts, quietness is a lowering of self communicative priority.  

The concept of perfection/beauty is being pretty.  Not generically, conventionally pretty, being pretty for a specific person.  This is something that is much harder to apply outside of D/s but within D/s, The Doll strives to be perfectly attractive to her owner.  The Doll has no opinion on her own beauty, it is purely the aesthetic preferences of the owner that matter and The Doll feels best when it conforms to that standard as much as physically and mentally possible.

The concept of emptiness is the most useful outside of D/s.  It is the idea that you are a vessel, a mirror.  This goes hand in hand with quietness but to a stronger degree.  As opposed to not expressing the self, this is not allowing the self.  It is letting go of desires; The Doll is not without desire, The Doll is just without desire not imprinted on her by others.  Social friction generally fades when you do not have a competitive stance, you just aren’t strictly moving forward your own goals; The Doll archetype makes the goals of others a reward in itself.

The concept of craft is one of the more difficult to explain aspects of The Doll.  It is the idea that The Doll is the manifestation of the will of another.  The Doll is a reflection of the work that has been invested in it.  Right now, The Doll reflects my own ideas of what makes a good doll because it is my archetype; should I have a primary partner interested in devoting the work to crafting The Doll, it will be different and much more reflective of their tastes.  Another strong component of craft is intention and artificiality.  The Doll is not supposed to seem natural or real, The Doll should seem artificial.  So utterly controlled that the traits could not have been developed organically.  Seamlessness is attractive on some level but perfection, craft, and predictability are more important to being a Doll. 

The concept of agentlessness is what ties all this together.  The Doll intrinsically is an archetype of suborning will to others.  The Doll is crafted by an owner, The Doll is aesthetically directed by an owner, The Doll is quiet and still, reactive, not active.  The Doll is empty and detached from self desire.  I feel at the extremes, The Doll centers her moral locus around her owner as opposed to any metaethical concept.  Agentlessness is the core principle of The Doll.

Overall, these are pretty dangerous concepts to slip into on a regular basis, which is why regulating them to an archetype is protective of the ego and ambition.  They are, however, useful concepts to be able to explore safely, at least for me.  In a way, it’s creating a peaceful garden, mentally, where I can cede control while focusing on being extremely good at ceding control.  It’s a processing trap so that I can let myself slip under.  I think it would be helpful to practice being The Doll in less sexualized contexts, using a milder form of detachment from desire to be more helpful to others; the drawback is that The Doll is not an active role and not the kind of role that reads desires and fulfills them.  

Discussion:  I know several of my followers are sexually submissive; what is your concept of submission?  How do you express devotion? 

For those who would rather not engage the D/s aspects, do you think being a vessel is intrinsically selfish or selfless?  You’re largely giving up your contributions to a conversational or activity flow but providing absolute control from another in exchange.  Are there other ideas that these concepts remind you of?

On The Professional

(Epistemic status:  Part of the Archetypal Filter series, actual pragmatic thing I am doing with my life, slight dissociative risk herein, boring as fuck I am so sorry)

With archetypes, some come naturally to a given person.  Others have to be constructed in response to social stress.  The Professional is an archetype I have had to construct and still do not fully inhabit well.  The concept is reservation, politeness, professional distance without being cold, and most importantly getting a high from doing a job competently within a system (working outside the system actually feels Wrong in this archetype, even if the job gets done, because it’s not replicable without increased risk.)

To break these factors down, reservation is the concept of muting my natural expressiveness to socially acceptable levels.  This is surprisingly hard, but more or less vital, especially given the paradigm I work in is not always the most pleasant to me in terms of my intuitions on how well it serves our clients.  This might be an issue of not being particularly good at big picture thinking.
Politeness is in the same vein as reservedness; in other contexts I usually am a lot more present and big and sparkly.  This is not really a thing I can do at work.

This part is an analytical sense of who knows who and says what and basically trying to avoid saying things that set these connections aimed at oneself.  The difficult part is that politeness is both a wall and also a gate.  You have to let people in but you have to do it carefully; it’s a middle ground concept.  I’m slightly better at the walling than the gating appropriately.

Professional distance is more applicable to clients.  Clients do not want to feel rushed or as if they are talking to a task focused robot but they also don’t want to, like, actually hear about your life most of the time.  There’s a lot of scripting here but it’s much higher variance than most scripting I’m used to.  I’m pretty damn good at minimal encouragers but after a certain point, people can tell and that kind of reverses all the rapport you built.  Professional distance is annoying because I like caring.

This last bit is probably the highest utility function of The Professional.  Each of my archetypes has a reward function, a goal that will light up those dopamine receptors when achieved.  The Seeker gets this from novel experience; The Professional gets this from a job well done within the system.  It’s actually amazing how important working on the systematic level is to this archetype.  This wasn’t an intentional construct but I think it’s a fairly logical one.  This reward function is based off a function I think most people have, the satisfaction of a job well done.  I intentionally intensify it to make The Professional at least somewhat worthwhile to slip into.  

Overall, The Professional is not a great archetype for me but it’s a useful archetype.  It beats the alternatives of trying to approach my role with my other archetypes; The Analyst might be all right, except the social aspects of the office overwhelm that archetype and cause anxiety.  

Discussion:  What does The Professional look like for you in your work?  What would you add to the construct of The Professional to enhance productivity and work outcomes?  How different does an example of a “constructed” archetype feel from a “natural” archetype?

On The Seeker

(Epistemic status:  Part of the Archetypal Filter series, actual pragmatic thing I am doing with my life, slight dissociative risk)

In the archetypal filter system, there is a filter I really revel in called The Seeker.  This state actually splits off from a lot of the more extroversion positive things The Oracle state was bringing me before I developed my intuitions here further.  The basic concept of The Seeker is I max extroversion, novelty seeking, impulsivity, and general willingness to spend weirdness points.  I don’t exactly look for insight, intuition, or Right Things, I just try to have fun and keep life novel and interesting.

The Seeker is good at benign script breaking and largely the filter I use when I ask one of my favorite questions, “What is the most bizarre thing that has happened to
you in the last few days?”  It primes me to really, really pay attention to the other person and what they’re saying and ask more and more questions.  It is a high perception filter that prioritizes experience to a possibly unhealthy degree.  It is The Seeker that can be
accosted by a stranger and proceed to think that further engagement
would be delightful.

The point of The Seeker, if it wasn’t obvious, is to experience and learn.  To play.  The Seeker is the filter that allows TRANSCENDENT JOY.  The Seeker is the filter that allows
qualialgia.  Overall, The Seeker is the filter where I can accept my emotions are big and full and regardless of what they are, accept them. I tend to spend a lot of my free time with The Seeker filter because it’s extremely adaptive to social situations and generally being a more mindful, perceptive person.  It feels like a very important key to self
discovery and self improvement.

The drawbacks of The Seeker is I can get overwhelmed at times in ways that aren’t terribly great to experience.  The Seeker is also kind of impulsive and possibly reckless
in ways that are inconsiderate to other people; the difference between The Seeker and The Demon Queen here is that The Seeker is not intentionally selfish, it’s just a natural result of an experience optimizing viewpoint.   The Seeker is extremely unrestrained and blunt, which is unacceptable in more delicate social situations.  The Seeker is also very much at a manipulative disadvantage; in this filter I want to think the best motives of everyone because the world is a wonderful place.

Overall, The Seeker is a very pleasant headspace but somewhat lower in self preservation than may be wise.  I am curious, does anyone identify with The Seeker strongly?  How impacted are you by the disadvantages compared to the advantages?  If you don’t identify with The Seeker, does this sort of person seem attractive/interesting or
just really annoying?

On The Filter System, Archetypal Lenses, and Narrative

(Epistemic Status:  Original hack always steal.  Actually in active use by me with concrete positive outcomes.  Possible dissociative risk so please think before applying this.)

A couple months ago, April I want to say, I came across an extremely compelling idea.  This idea was the one of narrative.  The idea that you tell a story in the way you look, the way you approach situations, the way you interact with the world, and that controlling this narrative is important to attractiveness.  I decided this probably generalizes to social situations and started considering things this way.  For awhile, it was a fuzzy idea that mostly made me feel good but then I had a few situations come up, particularly at work, where I had to change my narrative or my life would become more uncomfortable.  Once I internalized that notion and applied it, it felt like a little progress was made.  It’s still tough but I’m starting to really see concrete utility.  I would normally describe the situation in more detail but it might be too personally identifying.  An interesting side effect of considering my role and perceptions in a narrative setting was the archetypal filter system.

So, after the explicit success of narratives, combined with the stronger engagement with the version of myself that is the Oracle state, I started creating other roles.  I created The Seeker to optimize for novel experiences, a progression from my basic idea for a priestess of novelty.  I created The Demon Queen when I realized I could be very dark triad at times, and this could be useful.  I created The Professional to limit the weirdness I engage in at work and control my behavior as well as derive pleasure from working within systems.  I created The Doll to more strongly define my blank, devoted state as a submissive.  I created The Analyst to round out things, to cover my overanalytical, anxious, detail oriented states.  From here, I also intuited a zero state, and a contrasting state I refer to as seven.  My zero state is when I am mostly on autopilot, not really engaging a situation.  Sometimes I use it to come down from an out of control emotional reaction with a filter.  Seven is…undefined.  I’m unsure I’ve ever hit this state but it feels really, really important to acknowledge it exists.  I think perhaps it might be the general concept of a fully actualized, mindful adaptability that defies archetype.  It could also just be a future archetype that doesn’t have a duality to it.  I don’t know yet.

What is useful about these archetypes is they allow me to optimize for certain experiences as well as ways of social interaction with others.   The way I perceive an event and goal set for that event is heavily inflected by what archetype is optimal for it.  I went on a date where The Demon Queen was the most optimal filter and it went extremely well.  I approach meditation often with the archetype of The Seeker and am so joyful and exuberant about what I find.  I approach needing things from coworkers as The Professional and the interaction feels satisfying and competent.  Archetypal filters are probably my most powerful social hack at the moment because role means so much.
I will be making a series of posts defining each archetype (The Oracle is already defined, but I think another post on The Oracle is in order because some of the territory was annexed by The Seeker), and then going over what I think is the rough methodology for changing your worldview in this fashion.

That methodology is highly individual to me but perhaps can provide guidelines for others who wish to optimize their experiences by tailoring the self to the social world around them.

Discussion:  How do you filter your experiences?  What determines how you feel about something, do you know?  Do other people take this archetypal approach?  If so, please tell me about your experiences with it.

On Qualialgia

(Epistemic Status:  Making up my own jargon is ok, right?  Speculative)

In certain situations, I find myself thinking about the lives of others, or what I imagine the lives of others to be.  The conservative Christian, the pick up artist, the blind woman, the person from another country, the family with children…so many, many things I’m not, and some things I will never be.  A sense of loss overwhelms me sometimes when this happens.  I’ve decided to term this feeling qualialgia.

I don’t know if other people experience qualialgia but as I have recently been trying to maximize my novel experiences, be mindful of the experiences I am having, record things that stand out to me when they happen, and generally trying to optimize for consciousness.  The side effect of this is I’m starting to see the other side of the coin, the opportunity cost of every experience I have, every choice I make.  How the choices I have made have made me into a person who can’t have certain other experiences.  When I see someone or am in a situation where I am brought in contact with the idea of these experiences, qualialgia sets in.  It tends to cause a fascination with the sorts of people I would never want to be, a desire to know how they got there, and an awkward sense that even if I asked them (somehow, I’m usually too scared to), I wouldn’t understand because I haven’t felt it.

This is a short essay, but leads to a lot of questions.  Does anyone feel qualialgia?  If you do, how does it feel?  Loss is the predominant sense it evokes.  If you don’t, how do you relate to the experiences of those very different from you?  Do you consider them at all?  If you do, how do they interact with your self model?

On Feeling Forever

HI IT’S SUNDAY SOMEWHERE (Here, it’s Sunday here.  EDT.)

(Epistemic status:  Pretty sure this is just me and probably me being weird; practical advice somewhat untested.)

There is a concept I have been noticing more in myself lately that is probably one of those self-evident things but that I think bears exploring.  It’s the concept of your emotional state inflecting your projection of the future and what future actions you should take.  This, I feel, is a thing most people experience on some level.  The extension of the concept in my personal case, however, is feeling forever.  Not only are my projections and plans filtered through “I am hyper and happy” or “I am really depressed and tired” or whatever else I might feel but the contemplation of these future actions assumes I will be in the exact state I am currently in.

So, this requires a bit of unpacking.  As I’ve stated things, these two concepts seem mostly the same, that part of the inflection is the idea that your future self will be in the same state; I am not sure one actually implies the other though.  If you’re in a slump, you might plan with and for less energy but probably not under the assumption you will never not be in a slump unless it’s particularly deep.  I think more notably, being in a very excited, joyful state still is unlikely to make you believe you will always be in that state and make plans accordingly.

 Except, for me, it does.  I go into a bit of a cycle a lot of the time, it goes like this:

1. Have a really cool spontaneous social interaction that makes The Seeker happy
2. Want to make more cool extraverted social activity things, especially since I’m incredibly happy
3. Book like 2 weeks worth of things
4. Starting doing all the things, night after night, no rest no time to myself.
5. Start feeling more and more run down and like “wait why did I do this” (this is mostly a function of lack of sleep)
6. Cancel a few plans, start feeling a little better but still out of it.
7. Set a line in the sand where I will not make new plans until my old ones run out
8. Get to a tired enough state where I’m not even getting an extrovert high out of doing things with people
9. Finally reach the end and breathe a sigh of relief and my schedule is mostly clear
10. Spend 2 weeks with every night being go to work, come home, fuck around on the computer, sleep
11. Realize this fucking sucks and I am even more depressed than I was when I was super extroverting
12. Don’t really feel like making plans/finishing commitments/contemplating the future
13. Get worse and worse
14. Spontaneous social interaction happens, gives me energy to throw The Seeker at things again
15. Rinse, repeat.

A lot of these patterns stem from feeling forever.  I feel happy, excited, elated, and assume I will feel that way forever, no matter what and plan accordingly.  I’m a super extrovert with all the powers of social interaction yaaaaaaaay.  Then I start shorting my sleep and feeling terrible and then I assume THAT’S going to be my default state forever and start cancelling plans and mostly thinking there’s no point to anything.  Then I downcycle and my feeling that my slump will be forever becomes stronger and stronger.  Fortunately, I usually get a cycle breaker after not too long and can go back to the start by feeling happy forever…but the emotional and cognitive distortions are still strongly in place.  As I write about this, the pattern honestly matches a little to bipolar disorder, except I don’t really have that.  I’ve been checked for it a lot because I sure present as suspicious for it.  Overall, I feel like I’m experiencing something in that space, though.

I think it will be important for me to correct this cognitive distortion and I think being aware of it is the first step, like always.  What I want to consider from a practical perspective is instituting rules for planning or experiencing my future self that do not give a damn about my mood at the time I am planning.  I still am working out my fault tolerances but I think the basics of doing something enjoyably social at least once a week, no matter what, will help to counteract the slump stage.  I think that making sure my booking is such that I am not out 3 nights in a row will counteract the extrovert high stage, even if some of those plans are not extroversion related.  The reason I focus so much on social planning is because it’s more or less the core of my emotional state these days.  There’s some degree of in the moment to moment emotional management but that falls more under my framing/filter model of perception.

Still, moment to moment emotional state also sometimes slips into the feel forever distortion.  Often, what I describe as a downcycle is an expression of that.  A downcycle is where I experience an Unpleasant Thing, I recognize I experienced an Unpleasant Thing, I have started to fixate on Unpleasant Thing and now it has Unpleasant Thing Friends because usually you can break down things that are unpleasant into multiple parts and then the problem seems worse, and I just start spiraling towards this absolutely hateful state about existence that contaminates my entire worldview, as well as my ability to conceptualize not feeling this way.  Fortunately, this form of feeling forever is largely managed by my medication regimen, so I don’t have to be particularly creative with my interventions here; what I can’t handle with medication I can usually clean up with narrative and perceptual reframing.

I am curious, does anyone else feel forever, or end up in these kind of high-low cycles that inhibit a more gradual, consistent experience?  If you do feel forever, do you think you need to change it?  If you don’t feel forever, what is your mental attitude towards the future and making plans in a bad state?  What about a good state?  Feel free to send asks, replies, or reblog this post to answer these questions.

On the point of all this, or communication levels


(Epistemic status:  Very rough, mostly ad hoc thoughts on why I write these essays and development as a writer)

I was talking with a friend (@rauwyn) last night to get an idea of the comprehensibility of my posts, particularly the ones about more difficult concepts like internal states.  This ended up leading to a very, very basic categorization system of how I would like to develop as a writer.

Effectively, I came up with 3 levels of communication and impact on reader that seemed most relevant to the topics my essays tend to be on:

Level 1:  Conveying my self/interior state to a degree that gives others a good model/approximation of what I am experiencing, even if they can’t shade the experience properly.  Additionally, this model should ideally be robust enough to allow any self improvement/hacking posts to make logical sense if I am having the experiences my posts are trying to convey.  

I feel like I mostly accomplish this level, though I sometimes get a little too weird with some ideas.

Level 2:  Conveying my self/interior state and my hacks in such a way that not only can my experiences be modeled but such that they can be translated to an other’s model of themselves.  Effectively, I would want to have an effect on my readers where an insight or technique I have actually can be translated to their own life.  I feel success on this level is when I can broadly help my readerbase hack themselves or reframe things in a way that is helpful to them, through the conveyance of my personal experience.

I’m not sure I hit this mark often but I also haven’t posted much in the way of discrete hacking attempts, mostly speculation.

Level 3: Simplifying my self/interior state to a more or less relateable/archetypal model that most people whether they are in my readerbase or not will relate to and be able to apply.  In particular, this feels like memetic fitness, reaching a point where I could elevator pitch an idea or self improvement tool in less than a minute and expect that in most people the concepts will expand into something meaningful for them even if it doesn’t match or even correlate with my interior experience.

This is largely a teaching level, as well as a memetic level.  This would be the sort of thing where things like CBT and perhaps more recently, mindfulness, have infected the public consciousness.  I am nowhere near this level since I’m still figuring out how to even expand my internal experiences into words in the first place.  I think compression will be easier once expansion becomes a more automatic process.  Then I can start writing infohazards =D.

I feel like there’s a 4th level, but since I’m somewhere between level 1 and 2, it’s difficult to conceptualize.  There are also likely inbetween levels and different experiential and memetic axes that could be explored.  My hope is that this system will help guide me in terms of how I want to frame my essays and that by posting this, it will also inflect how my essays are read.