I was at the dentist the other day. I felt treated with such care and consideration and empathy. Not the sentimentality that would keep her from removing a tooth if necessary but true compassion. I was able to recognize that same care and compassion, in me, I was able to finally see it, by her example, in myself, too close to it to see it previously, taking my care of others for granted. You see, was constantly panicked and hurt and depressed ashamed and embarrassed and worried from the harm done to me from my parent and siblings. They hate us for our compassion for it makes them look bad, so they attack, the narcissists in my life, my so called family. The knowledge that I can handle life comes with the knowledge that I can give myself this unconditional care and understanding independent of others. My lifelong anxiety and loss was as a child who had never known anything but institutional care, an virtual orphan who needed to ‘be of use’ to have any worth to himself and only conditionally to others. I became free of these emotional consequences when I decided I no longer had to ‘be of use’ as I was no longer dependant on others for care, I am self caring. Both sides of the business contract of love and compassion for hire, thrown in the trash. So my being treated with unconditional care, it an intimate physical way, my mouth, with no expectation of similar return, gave me an example, a reminder, of how to treat myself. I don’t believe that I had ever had a relationship of any kind, professional or otherwise, where there was such obvious care. My typical relationships were like the social worker in the hospital, whose focus was on what an inconvenience I was, how I made life difficult for her, with my situation, conditions of no supportive family, only able to support myself and my art by working hard, none left over to save, not yet old enough for seniors annual income. She said, ‘your body has let you down’, whereas I thought my body had suffered a random injury in my brain, and was busy healing, taking care of it. She scared me, typical of the harsh institutional ‘care’ I had known since birth. When she left, her replacement was even worse, a true conservative sent in to deal harshly with the freeloaders like me. Either get a job or we send you to the single men’s hostel she said. But I can’t walk, and my right dominant arm is flaccid. Doesn’t matter, lots of people in wheelchairs have jobs… My previously agreed upon recovery plan was to apply for government funding for the severely handicapped and stay in hospital continuing to recover and receive treatment till the funding arrived, then see where I was going to go, an institution probably, assisted living, where someone wipes your ass at worst, or set up my own home at best. I mean this nazi social worker hadn’t even read my file, she was a former welfare intake worker whose job it was to reject folks, with a holy zeal. This I knew how to deal with, having grown up in the welfare system. These types of bullies are common and revert to their sycophantic ways in the presence of authority, in this case the Doc who ran the unit, making a proclamation that it wouldn’t be appropriate to send me to the single men’s hostel. He knew me as a professional artist, making me the same class of professional as him, the welfare worker knew me as a labourer, my day gig at the time, self employed courier of meds to patients from the hospital. The system warehoused working class people regularly, on foam mats on the floor, side by side, in neat rows, puking from a nights drinking of Listerine. I first experienced real compassionate care when I met Arlo Guthrie the folk singer. His Mom had started the Huntington’s Society after her husband Woody Guthrie and his siblings and kids died of this genetic degenerative terminal brain disease. His Aunt woke up one day and decided to set the kids on fire. Brain diseases are like that. I knocked on his bus at the folk fest where I was volunteering with my wife with Huntington’s disease. Hi we’re with the Huntington’s Society…C’mon in! Turns out he was mainly an aids worker in NY, touring a bit, and making sure he made time to spend with folks who were lonely and scared and hurting. He wasn’t asking for anything in return, he already had it, he was giving it to himself. And now since that fateful and loving dental appointment, so am I.
I sent a friend request to Angela Gadley yesterday. She had been suggested by the Facebook AI. William Gibson’s cyberpunk world of the corporate and sentient AI has arrived. She mentioned in a post ‘animal slaves’, a term I used in my profile on a dating site. The thinking being that if your pet has to be ‘good for something’ then so does your man, your art, and worst of all you. It just so happened that I was expounding on this to a friend with a farming background earlier in the day. He was surprised that my cat doesn’t have to have a ‘job’, he is a cat. Then I said treat your self the same way. Unconditional acceptance. When I did suicide prevention counselling, the common cognitive distortion, almost always ingrained by religion btw, was that we must have a purpose a meaning to life, then of course the religion provided that, for a price. They would give us little jobs to do, usually fund raising through evangelical activities, spreading the word of corporate religious greed. When I had fewer options I sold my photoshop and writing skills to the advertising execs, who seeing the financial value of the same strategy, an anxiety based ‘call to action’, used it in order to sell everything from tampons to cigarettes. OK now I’m using the same strategy to hurt myself daily. Why? I had a stroke, so what am I good for? To counteract this daily I remind myself I don’t need a job, a girlfriend, a life of travel, conditions du jour. I won’t die without that highly preferable stuff. That ‘need’ is treating myself like an animal slave, I have to be ‘good for something’. which creates consequences of daily anxiety, which can lead to depression and suicide. Or I can work instead to accept myself without condition, and stubbornly refuse to upset myself. If I had a stroke then I had a stroke, I’m not going to make myself crazy about this with the self defeating consequences of shame embarrassment guilt and anxiety, that come from saying I must have a purpose and now I don’t, so therefore I’m useless. I am and will be using the motivating self helping emotions of sadness, regret, concern, annoyance and disappointment to get my ass to the gym, make art because it pleases me, sing loudly because I’m really ‘no good’ at it, and I don’t have to be, talking to strangers, asking for what I want, applying for teaching jobs because I like to have the money to spend, grants and art shows too, in other words everything I ever liked to do, that’s fun and self helping. My friend Will Ross whom I met online on FB while he was dying of liver cancer, found great satisfaction in teaching REBT psychology (which what this post is), and asking ‘what good can I make of this?’ when life’s problems arrived to be solved or be put up with. This is a guilt attacking exercise. I get to do all the things I love to do, that I couldn’t do because I had to go to work and be good for something, as well as pay the rent. Recently, my stroke doctor said I was fired, I have reached a plateau of recovery, he thinks, and should not expect huge improvement now. He agreed I will never play guitar again and should sell it. Two women friends, one online and one not, said they were too busy to pursue any kind of relationship, friends or otherwise, essentially I am not a priority, whatever the ‘good for something’ reason was in their heads. So, what good can I make of this? Same old same old….talk to strangers, meet nicer friends, ask for what I want, exercise, eat healthily, apply for gigs, do things that are satisfying, like putting waffles on Dawn Eyland’s (whom I love like a sister) head. Being accepted by doctors and potential lovers, or not, describes them, not me, it’s their set of conditions. I don’t plan on having any conditions on myself, if I ‘need’ a job, or a purpose or meaning in my life I’ll use that. Unconditional acceptance of myself, of you, and the universe, just like my cat, those don’t need a job, they are just fine the way they are. In constant sorrow, sure, and perpetual satisfaction, if I choose. And I do.
A study of narcissists indicates that you can’t create empathy, or teach it and things like observation of the human body isn’t a magic solution to the problem of caring for another when you only care for oneself.Reading the article it shows that the author has created over-anxiety by extreme self downing. Things like repetitive concentration, yoga, meditation, prayer, drawing, music are good distractions from over-anxiety, though not a cure. When I worked in prisons as a drug counsellor everyone said what good artists the prisons created. But it was all the same, detailed , repetitive concentrated work, a distraction. It wasn’t art unless art is the medication of symptoms of poor mental health. When I worked with suicidal ex-military it was the same, extreme conditional downing of self and others, an objectifying learned and encouraged in order to ignore empathy long enough to kill. Empathy is acceptance without condition of self, others and the universe. It requires using free will and power of choice to accept the randomness of life and the hope and beauty and tragedy contained therein. When I see a show of any kind of art that is highly repetitive, highly skilled, rubber stamp art all traces of humanity removed I know what I’m looking at: mental illness. When I see the opposite, from the cave paintings to Egon Schiele, I am filled with the beauty of the hand made mark an act of acceptance of self, others and the universe. My best art prof Alan Dunning (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Dunning) said, your work is looking stylized, you’ve gone back to emphasizing fundamentals. Ya, my wife has a terminal genetic brain disease, and I’m freaking out about it. He gave me a A for the honesty of my work.
The weather turned warm and I’m out walking to the store and coffee shop. Takes me 45 min to go the five blocks. Thinking of the intrusive things people say to a total stranger in order to either signify their virtue and thereby subconsciously signal their intent to victimize when you walk slow with a cane. Possible responses. Can I assist you across the street? is the most common one, How ya doing? is #2. As I’m 6’2″ 180 lbs and I work out daily I don’t require assistance, but folks think others should walk briskly and not impede. So there must be a problem, they would like it if I went faster in other words. I like to stroll I always have. I have been on first dates where the woman starts speed walking and doesn’t even look to see if I keep up, to which I just turn around and head back to the car. I know she is signifying her virtue, keeping the rules of sidewalk social order, but I prefer a less authoritarian lover. Can I assist you across the street? 1. Why? (Said to guy trying to impress his date, she rolled her eyes and smiled, she knew he was creepy but it was a free meal.) 2. How? Are you going to carry me? (said with a smile to a nice young church going lady) 3. You just want to cop a feel, I know what goes on…(Said to an attractive to me woman as a banter ice breaker, she looked at me funny…no social skills…) 4. Look at them funny (to the standard religious virtue signaller who is probably raping kids and wants to hide the fact.) 5. Ya,you just want to steal my purse (said with a smile) 6. That’s very kind, I’m good thanks…(said to most folks as that’s why they offered, to hear that they are very kind. I watch them puff their chests with renewed self esteem, and think, man they are more handicapped than I am, panhandling on the street to get their self esteem fix.)
Street survival skills, if they can’t get close to you, they can’t harm you. Predators look for victims that they perceive can’t fight back or defend themselves, because they are cowards, they perceive boundaries as abuse.
They ask if they can help, how are you, and they talk softly so you invite them in close to hear, just like politicians and ministers.They are the reason my Irish walking stick comes with a manual of cane fighting techniques…
How ya doing? said softly by the street junkie person, slithering close, no one else around 7. Take one step closer cocksucker and this cane goes right up your ass…cop voice, cop eyes…
Ah yes, just nice Sunday stroll in the inner city. I love it. It’s my home.
From across the restaurant, “I hear Jerry Blackstock
was arrested for sodomy!”
“You got me pregnant ya bastard, I had to have an
abortion because of your herpes!” I yelled back
Lunch with a poet…
Murdock Burnett and I met at poor kids summer camp, we were age 6. His Dad was a drunk and his Mom a codependent abandoning her 11 or so kids for a life in AA. The kids were entirely fucked by their parents narcissism. Murd’s oldest brother became my dearest friend, we had keys to each others homes, shared a place a few times, consoled each other through the repeated loss of our mothers that we kept finding for girlfriends. Addicted to the sun (kids of alcoholics are always cold) and cigarettes, 2 packs a day of comfort for anxiety, he died of skin cancer, living in my camper, my guest room, till he moved to the hospice where he lived without skin, on morphine for months.
Murdock and I shared the Edinburgh abandoned street kid
sense of outrageous sexual imagery humour, learned on the streets of Calgary, it
was still a Scottish immigrant working class town while we were growing up.
‘Cunt’ wasn’t a negative word describing a female body part, it was everything
from a term of endearment to a password of inclusion and acceptance on the
Murd lived off various women, using the narcissists charm,
and writing really awful poetry, for which his various women got him gigs in
the Calgary art scene.
When he got throat cancer from his 2 pack a day habit, he
married his publishers daughter. His publisher was a former high school teacher
at my school, who got punted for sleeping with his students. He started a book
store and imported The Georgia Straight from Vancouver, which I sold on the
streets of Calgary, for food, while living alone in a boarding house, trying to
complete high school. His publishers daughter inherited, then moved them to the
Caribbean, so he’d be warm, where he died.
He was a lot of fun.
In 1988 we had the Olympics in Calgary, my personal Olympics started the
following New Years eve, I quietly had my last drink and toke of booze and pot.
I started to search for other ways to manage lifelong
over-anxiety to be able to learn to be alone in comfort without mind freezing
shame and embarrassment of over-worry.
I tried yoga, meditation, living ‘in community’ aka an
ashram cult in the Kootenays, Taoist Tai Chi.. even living with a woman and
lots of great sex and though all were nice distractions, nothing was a cure
until I went to the hospital, where it took them 10 minutes to diagnose and
Very common condition.
A lot and I mean a lot of kids are emotionally abandoned,
essentially orphans, used like
bargaining chips in a business deal, in order to get welfare money or hang on
to a partner, or generate self esteem, conservative family values, whatever, for
parents who are no more than dependant life long children themselves.
The hospital suggested cognitive therapy, now I use the original form REBT.
Relief from life long over-worry is like being given a million dollars, simply
knowing the evidence of ‘I’ll figure it
out, whatever it is, eventually’.
19 years ago I quit cigarettes.
10 years ago I quit sugar.
8 years ago I quit grains and over use of carbs.
All are self comfort strategies with negative consequences
that are so self defeating they cause slow miserable squalid death.
So I tolerated short term pain for long term gain.
That’s what adults do.
They do this in order to care for children, by caring for
themselves, staying strong and healthy and keep the species going.
It’s an evolutionary imperative.
It takes a lot of over-indulgence in feel good behaviors to
suppress an evolutionary imperative.
An incredible force of will, to kill yourself slowly.
Or the same force of will to tolerate short term pain for
long term gain…
I feel like I have paid off a huge mortgage. Dumping guilt when it has been used for a lifetime, to manipulate me is like that.
Guilt is the result of feeling responsible for things we aren’t responsible for, Dr. David Burns, Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy.
When you have had a narcissistic parent, or have belonged to a religion, or have been groomed by cult recruiters, they all used guilt. Backed up and reinforced with obligation and fear.
Authoritarian in the extreme, which is another way of describing fascism, living in a world of black and white, all or nothing, should and must.
For the purposes of Slavery. Very simply, you exist to give your life for another’s satisfaction, not your own.
Emotional consequences of being a slave of should and must are: guilt, shame, embarrassment, rage, depression and anxiety. Dr. Albert Ellis, The Myth of Self Esteem.
Musts and shoulds are a programmed belief system. They are deprogrammed by one simple question: where is the evidence for my belief?
There never is any. Ever. Period.
The slavery programming beliefs all boil down to this:
I must do well and win the approval of others or else I am no good.
Other people must do “the right thing” or else they are no good and deserve to be punished.
Life must be easy, without discomfort or inconvenience.
The dispute to being a slave goes like this:
Others likes and dislikes only describe them, never me. The fact someone prefers chocolate over strawberry doesn’t describe me one bit. Since the purpose of my life is satisfaction, even if I lose an arm and a leg, I can deal with it as best I can, then ignore it, and create some form of satisfaction for myself using my free will and power of choice. I may not have as many choices as I had before, but I still have some.
Slaves have no free will and power of choice. There is no evidence that I am a slave.
I am not the ruler of the universe, there is no evidence that I know what is ‘the right thing’ for anyone or often even myself. I use my preferred satisfactions, sometimes get professional help, like when my car needs work or I require medical or legal advice, then use my best guess to guide my decisions. The evidence is I am human so I am often mistaken and so is everyone else. We often need to make adjustments to our thinking and actions. This is called creativity and problem solving. We are very very good at this. This is normal.
When life is not easy, uncomfortable and inconvenient there is no evidence that I can’t stand it. Saying I can’t stand it, it’s terrible and awful, is saying I will die from this. There is no evidence that I am dead.
There is evidence that this is a royal pain and very inconvenient, and I should feel motivating disappointment and sadness, grief and a sense of loss because something uncomfortable and inconvenient just happened. This is a healthy negative response which motivates me to do something, take some action to deal with it., suchs talking to strangers and asking for what I want. The best love affairs and biggest business deals were all created starting with small talk between strangers asking for what they want.
Q: What are you doing since having a stroke, just sitting on the couch? I actually had a doc who said this to me.
A: Well, if I found that satisfying I would certainly do that, since the purpose of my life is my satisfaction. Since it’s in my best interests to exercise daily, and at the gym 3 times a week, write and publish 2 artbooks, working on a third, apply to do public art in Calgary and Banff, apply for project grants and provincial acquisition of my work and start dating again since I really like sex with interesting strange women and that’s the best way to meet them and do that, start driving again and do road trips with my camera, all the while learning French, Spanish and Italian from posts by beautiful and talented self portrait artist friends, because life is too short to learn German, while learning publishing creation tools like Illustrator and Indesign, yes, when I’m not doing those things I love just sitting on the couch. Going for walks to the coffee shop is fun too…
This lifetime light came on then for me, I realized it’s why I prefer artists like Rembrandt and Cliff Eyland. Empathy.
Others who are good technicians, of any discipline, learned a technique and practised it, like anyone can, and that’s their work for life, some get incredibly good at it.
Based on the criteria of art is a record of the human experience, valuing the beauty of the handmade mark for instance, the technician is lost, all he values is technique, which anyone can learn. He is likened to a recording where all trace of the human hand on the strings is removed, like photoshopped breasts, the ‘blemishes’ removed.
The technicians are crafty, clever and manipulative. Con-men. Banksy is a good example for me. An amusing well executed one off. I have no interest in seeing his cartoons more than once.
I could look at Rembrandt’s feathers for days and have. “An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history.” – wiki.
Rembrandt never travelled in search of technique to copy. Lastman, Caravaggio and Rubens came to him. Why? Empathy, that made him the real deal, genuine, not a trickster not a scam artist. His personal tragedy was great, losing several children and his wife, eventually all his money as well. This informed his art and his audience with humanity. We have never seen Banksy, that’s part of his scam, like a bank robber we only see an effect.
Why do I value empathy? It’s those who don’t have it who have hurt me. The defining characteristic of sociopaths is their lack of empathy. Narcissists are good at the technique of appearance of empathy, but they hate me for mine. I make them look bad when I call them on the bullshit they use to make themselves appear special, usually by removing any evidence of themselves in their guilt and shame.
I hate bullies who try to make themselves look better by making others look bad. The art critics without empathy specializes in that technique and are my special disgust.
Art critics who care deeply about the human condition, like Paddy Johnson, are my special love, and when they call bullshit, I get a great feeling of satisfaction, and appreciation for the cost of their sacrifice.
People with empathy, like Rembrandt, don’t have what it takes to fuck people over, to be true capitalists and they often die in the poorhouse. I was born there and learned survival there. I’m used to it, so I have less risk in calling bullshit and being alone, and ill without funds. It ain’t pleasant but it ain’t terrible neither. I am not dependant, and overly scared, using people with the technique of charm. I have a very few friends and a few acquaintances, all with empathy, so I am rich beyond measure. It’s like having Rembrandt and his feathers to hang around with. I would rather see the pain in the eyes of his self portraits or the love in those of Emanuela Cau, than the stone coldness of the words of a faked empathy used by a manipulator and a con man.
A professional artist (visual) after 6 years of 12 to 18 hours a day training, looking at images, the genius of art history, and a further say 20 years of practice, understands every pictorial element they choose to place in an image and why they made those choices. A composer knows every note on the page, a writer every word, of conscious choice. Those who don’t are called amateurs. The notions of subconscious theory of art making were made popular in modernity by Clement Greenberg, a non art maker wanting to keep his status as godlike critic, gatekeeper for the galleries, like Jerry Saltz is struggling to do today. Greenberg was against artist education famously saying ‘keep them stupid’. The psychotherapeutic notions of subconscious and ego are from the early 1900’s, and have been long replaced by evidence based cognitive therapies. The evidence is I placed these visual elements together using educated free will and power of choice, based on the 800 years of history and tradition of western European Art History. I favour the use of the golden mean from ancient Greece as a composition technique for example. I choose not to use the history and traditions of Indigenous culture, or the cultures thousands of years older than mine of India, China or the Middle East. That there are secret motivations (my subconscious sexual attraction to my mother and my ego wanting to kill my father to replace him) with secret mind powers that control my choices is not supported by known evidence. Free will and the power of choice, grant me responsibility and authorship of my work, no one else.
Using the narcissist stare, these two emulated a mothers love, that unblinking bonding look a mother has for her child, and like my own mother, abusively used it for purposes of manipulation and creating life long dependance.
Those gentle affirmations I saw today in your video on the Ashram site, that you are never quite good enough, but by buying more courses and donating more labour…..
Susan, I saw your video, on the Ashram site telling people that they were losers, and they should send more money and give up more of their lives, to become people of self esteem, as defined by you. This is a formula as old as time to manipulate with fear, obligation and guilt. Simply put, it is a carnival trick to sell snake oil. It goes like this: 1. You are broken, unevolved or whatever. Anything that starts with ‘you’ then describes you negatively is an abuse. 2. I’m going to fix it.Yoga courses or whatever the snake oil du jour is. That’s the power imbalance of the abuser proclaiming her enlightenment or some such magic that you don’t have because of your brokenness. 3. It’s going to cost you money. This is where they start raping your bank account, like any good con artist. 4. You have to keep coming back. That’s the abuse of dependency creation, the money shot as they say. The reason you have to keep coming back is that it doesn’t work.
In fact, as any ruthless leech knows, the victim gets sicker of course, and eventually either dies, I almost suicided, or gets deprogrammed at the hospital where this is well known, and I was smart enough to go and seek treatment.. The treatment is to start seeking evidence for your beliefs that you have been programed in: that you are a broken loser. There never is any evidence.
In fact the health system is the opposite of an abusive cult like Yasodhara Ashram in the following ways. Doctors seek evidence, they are evidence based. They really like it when you don’t come back. It’s called a cure. In my country, initiated (there’s that word) by me and my friends in the Liberal party, this treatment is free. 100% In contrast, your ‘treatments’ (leaching of time and money) cost a lot, hurts people, and they don’t work, based on evidence. They are extremely authoritarian, an attempt to keep control of and demanding inappropriate self sacrifice, such as giving up sex and other fundamental needs of communication and companionship.
People who don’t get their basic needs met for communication, companionship and sex become anxious, and the yoga woo woo (prayer, meditation, chanting etc.) is a good distraction from the intentionally induced anxiety, but not a cure. In fact the distraction from the induced extreme anxiety feels so good it gets called a spiritual experience or enlightenment.
Extreme authoritarianism used to induce this anxiety is also known as fascism. (What was it that Sylvia Hellman did during the second world war in Germany to survive? Another friendly fascist?)
People who don’t get their needs met for communication, companionship and sex become anxious, and people who stay anxious long enough became depressed, and people who stay depressed long enough suicide. All rolled up in a mother’s love, the narcissists stare.
So, this is fair warning, I will be writing and publishing on your cult and my deprogramming, and how I almost died, but got help, barely in time. So, using not only my personal experience with your organization, and you, in classes for several years at Radha House and Yasodhara Ashram, as well as commonly available references on cults and the harm you people do my intent is to break the shame at being conned by you creatures. My art site just past a million views, my work on my publisher’s site just passed 3 million views, my google reviews just passed 11,000 views. In the last six months. My references are:
In a alternate universe Susan, we would have been friends and lovers, a great match in so many ways. Two artists, romantics, who love our cats Dear Jethro, Dear Leopold, and many other compatibilities, our love for music and dance, and for each other, for example.
These were the very things that made us vulnerable to charmingly ruthless, manipulative, competitive, jealous, cult recruiters in the first place. When we were starting to bond as humans do, so Sylvia Hellman sent you to Germany, to get you away, she had plans for you as a recruiter, your desires and your life didn’t matter, she planned to suck your very life away for her purposes. I didn’t matter either, fortunately as it turned out, I couldn’t recreate a mothers love as well as you, I don’t have the narcissist stare; the bait on the hook. Who says the hook doesn’t hurt the fish?
JeraldBlackstock dip. (Alberta University of the Arts), BFA, CPF.