Friday, June 29, 2018

London in an efficient week

I met so many people in London, it was my busiest time traveling. So I'll give you a brief rundown:

First day back in London I meet up with M to attend Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Worth going! Also worth it to get in line early to get better seats (see photo from my very fancy seat). Afterwards we walk north to Trafalgar Square and eat in the crypt of St. Martin in the Fields. He is a therapist and practices meditation. He taught mea simple breath focus meditation, which was actually very nice to do and even though I have since been bad at practicing it, I do sometimes try to do a form of it when I have a gap of time or want to collect my thoughts. M was an interesting non sociopath guy to talk to because he had this sort of past history of not choosing right things and not loving people the right way. But he learned that being a channel of peace augments him and he becomes more peaceful more grounded. Evil depletes him and gives him pain, as well as other people. It's purely self interested to choose peace because you like the results. Altruism is just selfishness.

I liked this attitude. It reminded me of my own belief that it seems like we are all cells of the
multicellular organism of humanity and to oppose another person is really to oppose yourself.

The next day I went to the Harry Potter Exhibit at the National Library (the magna carta!) and met another new friend (he identifies a little aspie) at the Natural History Museum and walked around a bit. Natural History Museum had some of his favorite architecture, and it was really beautiful inside, particularly the huge whale skeleton. This is by a bunch of other museums you could check out, but we went to South Kensington (I think!) for tapas. Lovely neighborhood, good food and good company. We hang out talking about the writer's life visiting several pubs (diet coke!), ending up at a Covent Garden pub.

The following day I walk around Parliament area (spent 10 minutes seeing a ceiling full of Titians in the Whitehall Banqueting House, which was beautiful, but I did it for the toilet and because free with London Pass -- really exquisite toilets) the river cruise to the Tower, all London Pass items, and meet a new friend H. H relates with some aspects of sociopathy but not all. She tells me about how her work involves monitoring other employees at the same office. There's one person in particular that people love to hate at her office. She targets him as well in her professional capacity, but she is careful to never target him for the same behavior twice. Why? because then he would get fired and she would no longer have anyone to play with at work. She can't pick on just anyone, for instance not the older lady who brings baked goods for everyone after long weekends. That would make her a monster in the eyes of her co-workers. So she keeps this guy around, like a cat playing with a mouse. We got on a Jack the Ripper tour with a walking tour company that was excellent and does a lot of other walking tours around London. I think the London Pass offered some discount or something free, but still paid 10 pounds or something.

The next day I do the hop on hop off bus tour, but it is Lent so St. Paul's is only open for worshippers. I worship! In the afternoon I meet up with my new friend M, who is a full dandy and one of these charming sociopaths that can (and possibly has) conned a lot of people out of their money. He meets me in the National Gallery (after I think I mistakenly told him the National Portrait Gallery) and takes me on an impromptu tour of all his favorites, because like all good seducers, he knows enough about everything to make him seem like an indispensable dinner companion. How is Caravaggio so sensual! (Pictured) After, he gets wine and I get tea but we sit (allegedly) in the wrong place. How do others react to this, I wondered, as I watched him charmingly sidestep the server's rudeness while also placating her by asking for a menu. We sat there for hours while he tried (pretty successfully!) to convince me that conspiracy theories often have truth to them. I know from experience how easy it can be to manipulate people, particularly into believing things that they would rather believe than what may be an unpalatable truth. That's how he acted, but the things that I found most compelling (and probably most honest) were his struggles to find meaning after his father's death. We spoke about theodicy and how in his mind the "moral lesson you get from studying the world is whoever created it is morall horrible because every situation ends in the death of the person who is playing." He also has an Ann in his life, a person who is a guide to the world of people that he doesn't understand and explains he funny feelings that he provokes in others either on purpose or on accident that can either help or hurt him -- explain to him the assumptions that people make about him and helps make him more aware of what aspects of him provoke these reactions. He told me "I'm just interested in brilliance," and only as I write this now do I see how this sort of attitude could provoke the ire of people around him that are perhaps less secure in their own luster. I understand a little better now the reaction that many people had when reading about me, that I came off as being intolerably narcissistic. He even shared with me some reactions from friends who had grown increasingly intolerant of him. But I did not experience him that way, and I was sad to think about the people who (I believed) had mischaracterized and misunderstood him.

The next day I do a bunch of other London things on the London Pass, like the Shard viewpoint, the Tower Bridge, the London Bridge Experience (they pointed me out as the witch and were going to burn me?) and then meet up with my new friend V at the Barbican because he finds brutalist architecture to be soothing. Also close to the Roman wall. V says something that I have repeated a lot before, that one of the first ways he looks to identify sociopaths is that they struggle to find meaning. If the hollowness is unbearable to the person, that's likely just depression or something else. If there's no real emotional value placed on the lack of meaning, if there's just a straight acknowledgment that it's there, that person is more likely a sociopath. He has sociopathic traits himself. He needs a lot of novelty. Every place he has quit from is because he "ran out of dragons, after that it was just the grind." He has a friend that is probably more sociopathic than he is. She has a similar love hate relationship with work. She uses it to to give her less of a sense of emptiness, but when she is worn out she dreams of being the CEO of her own company. He thinks the only reason she hasn't don't it yet is because she's very half-hearted about things. She says things like "will I ever feel anything again?" His friends say he's manipulative. His mom says he just wants ohter people to be his puppet. He admits he likes to mess with other people. "I'm the main hero in my own work of art." "I am the work of art." This is the sort of statement you'd expect to hear from a total blowhard, but he isn't at all. He's soft spoken, unassuming. Compared to the dandy, he is much more likely to just blend in. If I met him outside of this context (in real life), I would never suspect him of having sociopathic tendencies. But when you talk to him, it's clear that a lot of his choices are motivated by sociopathic thinking. For instance, he says he doesn't do revenge, he does payback. He also has characteristics that sociopathic minded people who are higher on the trait of conscientiousness have, e.g. his therapist says that he struggles with perfectionism. He is very principled.

He thinks we can think nicely about stuff but we first need to get real about what we do. He believes that it is best to harshly acknowledge your own thoughts. For example, if I got annoyed at the person on the escalator (story from the book) because I am annoyable and I acknowledge that about myself, I have a greater opportunity to control my behavior that stems from my annoyance. He believes that the purpose of life is the Project of Being -- that existence in itself is a force and a project. H believes we're not living for ourselves, we're just a part of being and we need to not be petty and dwell on our sufferings. So he sounds a little almost Buddhist influenced, and cites Socrates as an influence. But also his favorite column is Modern Love in the New York Times. He avoids lying because at some point there will be some resolution between the lie and the truth. He thinks of love as a choice, as a project that he has decided to take on. But in general he tries not to pretend to be anything he's not, even though people think that though "sociopath" is seen as a disorder and it puts people off. But his mom taught him to never pretend to be something he's not. And he believes that ultimately the cost benefit doesn't make pretending worth it. "never being something you're not makes you invulnerable." "If you never pretend, it teaches you fearlessness." This absolutely resonates with me.

My last day in London was spent doing some clean up for the London Pass activities and meeting up with a young man at the Tate Modern, a man who had a high school classmate who was sociopath and one who had asperger's and we chatted about how those two interacted. Heads up! Don't eat mushy peas by themselves, just with the fish and chips. 

Taking the underground was really easy and efficient for me. They have an Oyster card you can get and just get a week pass. Look into this, but there's something more efficient about getting the Oyster card in London, rather than getting a traveller version. If you have touchless credit cards, you can also just use those? Or Apply Pay. I would suggest going that route. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ohio? Southern Michigan?

I'm going to be in Northern Ohio the end of this month, if anyone wants to meet up? I'll mostly be around Toledo, but will have a car, am flying into and out of Detroit, and am willing to travel.

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