The Case of a Lost Friend

Monday, 23 June 2008, 2:55 pm  

The Case of a Lost Friend

AMY THREW ME AWAY. I’m surprised, lost, scared, and angry. I placed a great deal of trust and faith in her while I was in a fragile state- which was a mistake that I vow to never make again. We lived together for a few months until a few days ago. Before moving in with her, I was living at home after having just graduated. I was looking to move away from home because the environment there was unhealthy at best. My parents had just recently “divorced.” My dad was in the process of moving out of the house and into his own apartment. I helped him move. Moreover, he was just starting a new career as a truck driver. Prior to moving into his new apartment; he went away for a few months to Tennessee, to learn how to drive trucks. During this time and for the past two years or so, my mom had been displaying signs of Schizophrenia. These signs were largely over looked and its only after I moved back home that I experienced the reality check of a life time.

While living at home, it was just her and I. I spent my time looking for work. I bounced my way through a sequence of three different jobs. My mom spent a lot of time outside of the house driving around. She claimed that she was job searching; but in reality, she was probably just driving around trying to escape the voices in her head. I actually went on one of these rides… 

Shortly after 8:00 pm she told me that the house was going to collapse and that we needed to leave. I was laying on my bed listening to music (The Boo Radleys’ Giant Steps). I asked questions although she was emotionless and unresponsive; anyway, I got my things together and got in the car with her. I looked over. She was low on gas and I knew that she had no money. With no set destination, we pulled out of the drive way and on to the road. I again asked questions but received no answers. Eventually, we pulled into a gas station where she parked and then, without warning, she  proceeded to break down; crying and banging her fists against the steering wheel. She told me that she hears voices in her head that sound like a repeating tape of voices that give warnings of a negative nature, telling tales of conspiracy and tragic events about to happen. I tried to comfort her. I tried to hug her- I wrapped my arms around her as hard as I could to restrain her from moving all the while reminding her that I loved her; but, she remained broken- unresponsive to my attempts and still hysterical. My mom eventually regained her composer and ventured back into her emotionless state. Thankful that she was stable again- I gave her the twenty dollars that I had in my wallet which was all I had for the next week and a half. She put gas in the car and we drove off. I asked more questions be never received answers. I just sat there going from one technique to the next in an attempt to wake her from her catatonic state. I tried to empathized and advise. I tried to evoke emotional guilt by telling her how her actions were hurting me. I yelled at her in an attempt at tough love but nothing could break her ice cold emotional state- a state that could be brought upon by nothing other than a disease significantly affecting her brain. 

We drove on dark country roads until we ran low on gas and had to come back home. We arrived back at the house around 1:00 am and I immediately went to my room and I laid back down on my bed- my mind was racing and scared. Hours later, I awoke to the sound of my mom talking loudly to herself a floor below. She eventually made her way upstairs. She came into my room around 3:00 or 4:00 am and told the same collapsing house story. I again followed her outside and got in the car. This time we drove around Wilkes-Barre, PA. We passed the hospital several times and my mom threatened to admit herself with each passing and I encouraged her to do so; but, she never did. We drove around aimlessly with what little gas remained trying to decide on a safe alternative to home; but, in reality there was none… and its not like we had the resources to get to such a place if it existed. We returned back home an hour or two later. By this time my mom had worn herself out and upon entering the house, she headed for the couch in the living room where she finally decided to lay down and sleep.            

The above is just one of the MANY episodes that I experienced while living at home with my mom. Now its fairly obvious that she has the brain disease know as Schizophrenia; but, until one or two months ago, no one could have guessed it. After all, she’s an intelligent woman in her mid-forties. Such a late onset, even for women, is rare or at least that’s according to the literature that I’ve read. 

Discovering that my mom has a brain disease hit me with such surprise and sorrow that the great surprise and sorrow that I felt years ago as a kid, upon first discovering that the American dream was nothing more than an ideological scam to enslave the American population- now seems minuscule. At least the fallacious nature of the American dream makes itself readily available to those willing to see. My mom’s disease showed up late to class and without warning. Moreover, while the sick ideological trappings of the American dream have the potential to become less trapping and more liberalizing through systematic political and economic reform, my mom’s prognosis seems less optimistic. SURPRISE AND SORROW… two words that characterize the relations that my mother, father, and I shared for the last several months. Who could have foreseen the extension of those relational characteristics to my former best friend?





To the neoliberals of the world who show no regard for human life…

Cognitive Democracy
Henry Farrell (George Washington University)
Cosma Rohilla Shalizi (Carnegie-Mellon/The Santa Fe Institute)

“But the economical advantages of commerce are surpassed in importance by those of its effects which are intellectual and moral. It is hardly possible to overrate the value, in the present low state of human improvement, of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Commerce is now what war once was, the principal source of this contact.

However, such contact is largely incidental—- people engage in market activities to buy or to sell to best advantage, not to learn. As markets become purer, in both the Hayekian and neo-classical senses, they produce ever less of the contact between different modes of life that Mill regards as salutary. The resurgence of globalization; the creation of an Internet where people who will only ever know each other by their account names buy and sell from each other; the replacement of local understandings with global standards; all these provide enormous efficiency gains and allow information about supply and demand to flow more smoothly. Yet each of them undermines the Millian benefits of commerce, by making it less likely that individuals with different points of view will have those perspectives directly exposed to each other. More tentatively, markets may themselves have a homogenizing impact on differences between individuals and across societies, again reducing diversity. As Albert Hirschman shows, there is a rich, if not unambiguous, literature on the global consequences of market society. Sociologists such as John Meyer and his colleagues find evidence of increased cultural and social convergence across different national contexts, as a result of exposure to common market and political forces.

In addition, it is unclear whether markets in general reduce power inequalities or reinforce them in modern democracies. It is almost certainly true that the spread of markets helped undermine some historical forms of hierarchy, such as feudalism (Marx). It is not clear that they continue to do so in modern democracies. On the one hand, free market participation provides individuals with some ability (presuming equal market access, etc.) to break away from abusive relationships. On the other, markets provide greater voice and choice to those with more money; if money talks in politics, it shouts across the agora. Nor are these effects limited to the marketplace. The market facilitates and fosters asymmetries of wealth which in turn may be directly or indirectly translated into asymmetries of political influence (Lindblom). Untrammeled markets are associated with gross income inequalities, which in turn infects politics with a variety of pathologies. This suggests that markets fail in the broader task of exposing individuals’ differing perspectives to each to each other. Furthermore, markets are at best indifferent levelers of unequal power relations.”

Letters & Maledictions II

From the desk of K.W. Turner

01 June 2012

Dear Tenured Professor of Nothing Studies at Large University located in the North East,

I took your class during the mid to early 2000s… I majored in Critical Thinking and earned a minor in Structural Analysis. Is there anything new or interesting happening within the department or university?  Actually; as I sit and think, I have to be honest- I write with malicious intent- against the university, the department, and yourself generally… I hated Bullshit University with every bone in my body. I hated your shit-ass class. You told us all once that we couldn’t write and that you spent time at an Ivy League university and that their students wrote so much better. Hear this: If I was more of a man at twenty; I would have cursed you to your face then and there and perhaps struck you down. The university is shit. All universities are shit: Professors have become shit- “free agent,” self interested, pyramid scheming accomplices- with no regard for Truth or Knowledge and a strong desire to turn away from the world.

Consider this letter a brick from the real world hurled with the intent to shatter your front window. You once told my class that you would never post your C.V. online; but, today- here’s your picture and C.V. right in front of me, online, on my computer screen- I suppose times change and then they force us to do the same. When I left college, I couldn’t find a job and bounced all over the place; doing the precarious living waltz, and I spent time in homeless shelters. The stench and pure desperation that permeates from such places will change anyone. Since graduating and due to times that I’ve had to work part-time and temporary jobs- trying to support myself; I fell behind on my student loans and defaulted. I’m now lifetime indebted. I now wear Sallie Mae handcuffs and the keys have been thrown away.

You could position myself within a global context and say that I’m better off than anyone in the “third world” but that’s beside the point… especially considering the stench of U.S. neoliberal ideology that seems hell bent on stinking up the world. For whatever its worth, I write not to blame- but to convey, over the last few years, I’ve met many poor souls much like myself; consumed with debt yet nevertheless smart, ambitious, and hard working. Newsflash: We’re angry at everything. All of your words still hit me today: “I’ve spent time at an Ivy League university and their students write better than you…” Hey, FUCK THEM and FUCK YOU.

If you think this is uncharacteristic of yourself; back in class you also called students who participated in athletic events “jocks” and characterized people in the military as “people who like to follow directions.” Ok, you made a few good points there- in fact, if I remember correctly, in class I laughed rather hard at your antics of singling out the atheles and ROTC students. In any event, its easy to be a tough guy from the safety of the lecture hall… meet us in the street! I needed this letter. Maybe you needed it too. The more I age; the more my stomach seems to turn sour when confronted with thoughts of people and society generally…

No Thanks,