From scratch.


Maybe we smear the wax clean again and start over.

If there’s anything that I am, if there is a way that I approach life, existence, being, doing, thinking, and I mean me, Lance, as this person writing this post. I don’t mean some  hypothetical for arguments sake “me”. If there is any thing that I am, if there is some label or name for the way that I approach [insert term] , It is that I am a totalizer.

If I’m going to start a new project, it is difficult for me just to kind of to learn things that you do and then do those various things and then eventually be doing that project, if that makes sense.  I have to understand something of a whole picture. For example, Computer programming. I was the domestic partner for a number of years, so I wasn’t really doing anything careerwise, I was just really being the available parent. So after my wife got her doctorate, And my daughter was older, it was kind of like, OK Lance what do you want to do now since we don’t really need you anymore to be the domestic available partner parent. I was trying to decide between being a computer programmer, getting into coding, or going back to school for philosophy, to get my masters in and then PhD in philosophy perhaps.

I started out learning some of the basics of coding that they have like on YouTube, and I have a couple friends who are computer engineers in so they were helping me with some basics.

And one of the things that really drove me nuts about coding is that it’s like starting in the middle. It was difficult for me to remember all these different coding protocols and names for things, because I really didn’t understand, I had no comprehension of what was functioning underneath. It didn’t matter to me that here I have a problem I want to solve, and so then I use the coding to write algorithms. Because to me it felt like I was starting in the middle. And it was very anxiety for provoking and really it was very unsatisfying.

And I did my one good friend who is a software engineer very successful developed his own hardware for measuring the solar wins, and energy that comes off of the sun and solar flares, he said that he understood me because he started learning programming from machine language. And so he suggested that, even though machine language is almost useless to learn nowadays, because now computers just compile all the machine language into sub languages that are used to develop various coding languages, maybe I might want to start with machine language.

And then I kind of felt like I was a little late to the game. So I decided that coding wasn’t the way that I was going to go, not the thing I wanted to do.

That’s just an example. Another example a little bit more close to home about what I mean by the totalizer, has to do with how I got sober. In case you didn’t know I’m a recovered alcoholic.

Now, I got to give you a little background on Alcoholics Anonymous, the program that allowed me to achieve permanent sobriety.

If you know anything or anyone that is trying to get sober, you might have some idea of how the recovery community works, what it’s about and such. Now, before you start linking up things to say,

“a-ha, getting sober… Now he’s a counselor!”

I need to stop you right there and let you know that I’ve never been into psychology or counseling or social work or anything that has to do with the science of mind my whole life. I have always been interested in philosophy and religion. And even when I got sober, Counseling or drug counselor was the last thing I consider doing. I was a painter and I made pretty ok money. So…

So I had been trying to get sober for some years and I just couldn’t stay sober. And my life just kept getting shittier and shittier. And I would get small periods of sobriety and then I would relapse and then I would lose more of the life that I was trying to build.

there’s all sorts of things you hear about meetings and recovery and all the stuff; hang out with the winners, you have to change your whole life, you have to get in touch with your emotions, you’re gonna have to go to meetings your whole life, it’s going to be a struggle every day and you just have to will yourself not to drink, you have to learn to pray to God, you have to learn how to develop spirituality, just all these things you’re here around AA and the recovery community. Just say sober one day at a time. Don’t hang around people who drink or have alcohol around you. Just don’t pick up the first drink,etc..  And I was trying really hard to do all these “suggestions”.

Somehow I feel that you must know someone who’s trying to say sober, and you can ask them about their experience and I bet they will confirm all these things I’ve told you and a bunch more, and I was trying to do all of them as best I could and I simply couldn’t stay sober for maybe more than a few weeks after I would get out of rehab, and I went to rehab more than a few times.

Now my point here is not really anything that has to do with sobriety per se, but it’s just an example of how I am, A totalizer.

The true message of the AA big book is that you admit total defeat, that you are utterly powerless against taking the first drink. You admit that you have no choice in the matter whatsoever of whether you drink or not. You admit that you are utterly powerless, and so you need to find a power that you can trust that will stand in between you and the next drink. And you commit your life to that power.

The true message of Alcoholics Anonymous, if you read the book called Alcoholics Anonymous, says nothing about just not drinking today, or making a choice not to drink or anything like that. What it says is exactly what I just wrote.

And so my point is is that doing all these little things to try and change my behaviors never did anything for me, at least so far as the main thing, the main issue involved in living a life that I wanted to live.

it sounds so stupid every time I say it, but it accords exactly with with the big book of AA says must happen for the drink problem to be completely removed, as they say, for the miracle to occur.

I completely and totally acknowledged that alcohol was my master and that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to prevent me from taking a drink at some point: I gave up fighting everything and anyone, including alcohol. 

And when that happened, from the moment that happened, I have not had the urge to take a drink not once since then, and I’ve had some pretty fucked up things happen in sobriety, and I’ll tell you truthfully, that during those times, it never even crossed my mind that a drink might sound good.  it simply does not occur to me that a drink would be nice to have, even if I’m hanging out with people who drink. 

I’m not telling you this because I’m expecting some sort of, wow good for you Lance sobriety this sobriety that.

I’m just mentioning it as kind of evidence, Anecdotal evidence of how I work. I’ve posted before about my encounter with reading Kierkegaard and other philosophers. The event of meaning was a total event, such that within the first few sentences or pages I understood the complete project of each author totally. And the reason why I think I’m able to do that, or the reason why I’ve been come upon by those kind of events with philosophers, is because I’m a totalizer. It’s because I don’t view things, approach things, undertake activities, at least important or significant ones, by taking up pieces of it and then assembling them together into an imagined or real whole. Rather, somehow I am able to intuit the whole is, and then the particulars start to fill in what there is to deal with.

This has been the issue of my whole life, if we wanna put a head to it: The issue of coming to know who and what I am. So long as I listened to everyone around me telling me to slow down and take it piece by piece, I had nothing but frustration and condemnation against myself. Probably my whole life, I have always felt a huge struggle to do anything — no wonder I drank! — so much so that I just figured that’s what life was: struggle.

But you would never hear that from me, because I’m a pretty easy-going guy. But in hindsight, compared to what happened in that moment from whence I’ve been sober, I was always in conflict with my self, others, and the world at large, all the while smiling and joking and trying to be cool like everyone else.

So perhaps that’s why I think that philosophy cannot be sorted out from a persons life, as if philosophy is not the entirety of a persons being. But also, that is why I draw a hard line between philosophy and Counseling. Counseling is slowing down, letting the pieces come and fall, making choices about small details, particular living, being attentive and mindful to particulars, and then dealing with people that are oriented in that way and having problems with it.

So just a little insight into me, that is why I say that philosophy has nothing to do with counseling; because how I see philosophy, I would have to teach the person in front of me that is wanting some counsel, the entirety of myself. Basically I would have to teach them how to be and think like me! Now, on the one hand, that’s impossible, and really ridiculous , but on the other hand, I think, that’s what most people do regularly, as a “common human being” is understood to be common. That’s what is figured the human being is supposed to be, which is to say, having this great philosophy of the good life, so to speak, and then going around and imposing upon everyone and judging them in reference to what We think is so great, or at least what We think is so unified and solute about ones own being. We call that individualism. But also modern subjectivity. As though it is the truth and reality of all human beings.

 I do not see or understand philosophy as a particular method of thinking. I do not see it as a discipline. I do not understand philosophy as something that I do, as opposed to water skiing, say, or if I was going to do some computer programming. I don’t see or comprehend philosophy as a part of me, such that I can go to working as a philosopher and then come home and I set it aside and do something else.

Yet, I feel most people who consider philosophy, or consider themselves philosophers, See philosophy as some sort of discipline, like, a way to approach living, or a particular manner of thinking about things, such that I can have a “philosophy of motorcycle riding”, or a philosophy of life”, or a “philosophy of marriage relationships”.

To me philosophy is inherent, innate, and entirely reconciled with everything I do at all times.

Like I said, I am a totalizer. But it was taking me a long time to realize that most people are not totalizers, at least they’re not taught to be that way. I tend to think that if there is a category of human beings like myself who are totalizers — which, there is an argument to be made and evidence that I could bring out if I wanted to try and make that case — then they are viewed as not normal. But I would also posit that most people have issues, problems in their lives of a personal order due to the fact that people never reconcile who and what they are with the universe. Hence, what appears to me as what I call a “conventional” orientation upon things, and the method that goes along with it “conventional philosophy”. And yet, I do not live separately from real life, and indeed I am a real person who deal with conventionality every day.

However, I am not able (or, at least, extremely uncomfortable if I have to do so) to hold myself out away from the things that I do and I am involved with. But being so involved with the world in this way I have found that I have to speak unto particulars, speak a certain way about things. I work back wards: from the total into the particular.

I feel that most people are taught to live in a way that they have to withhold something of themselves from being in the world, from engagement with other people and making a living and doing careers, I think it is kind of in a neat feature of the modern human being to, Innoway, be embarrassed or offended by themselves in reflection of if they were to bring that part of them into their every day life. It’s like they are always “incomplete” and “finding the pieces” of themselves.

So, because I am engaged with you philosophically, in order to speak with you about philosophy truthfully, at times I have to bring in information about myself which is otherwise withheld in the conventional philosophical mode, I mode that I have had to learn. And this is probably why I make a distinction between truth and reality. Because in regular real life, a person is not usually able to function fully present. And indeed, it is not something I choose to do or intentionally do; rather, it’s just a fact of being: in being fully present, I had to learn to hold some of my self back, figure out which “pieces” are appropriate under which circumstances.

 So, I wonder; my question to you, is whether you are able to conceptualize a totality of any sort.

It doesn’t matter what it is. We could bring :a rock, As our case.

My question to you would be: are you able to entertain and contemplate the notion that that rock in front of you right now, the rock that is in front of me that is in front of you, is a totality?

And maybe we could start there.

I’m not asking into all the philosophical ramifications of what I mean by totality, or whether or not philosophically or intellectually we might be able to tear apart that question into a multitude of meaningful phrases.

I am drawing upon the simple idea of a totality, which you really do know so well.

As I’ve said before, if you didn’t know what totality meant, you would not even have a word for it or be able to use it in a sentence.

I’m asking the very simple question:

Are you able and/or willing to conceptualize and/or consider this rock in front of us as a totality? 


2 thoughts on “From scratch.

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