I repeat the same tired refrain.

I repeat the same tired refrain. I’d still be doing this every day, no doubt, if I’d never found her. It makes me happy.

Two states of being: happiness brought on by anticipation of something wonderful, rancor created by anticipation of the end of a pleasure period’s peak.

Math makes me happy because it is utterly divorced from the messy world I thought I could make my own.

It makes me frustrated, because there are too many easy problems I can’t solve without a lot of hard thinking that I am still mistakenly convinced should be reserved for harder problems.

I am frustrated with my world, my community, myself.

The imperative for self improvement or self transformation seems to have died everywhere.

In my estimation, people who are tapped into anything that can fall under the category “pop culture” are obsessed with garbage that dumbs them down, and prevents them from seeking ways to make themselves and the world around them a better place.

If we aren’t being programmed by some master plan designed by nefarious groups in Washington, then we are most definitely working as a species to sabotage or at least devolve ourselves from the progress that got us to the moon and back.

The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe that at some point during or right after World War II, scientists did discover ways to produce energy more cheaply and abundantly, but the secret was quickly locked away, and the goal of those in power became one of making sure that people never got any smarter with their understanding of the Universe past a 1942 moment of understanding physics, math and chemistry.

The so-called counterculture movements of the 60s and 70s were actually part of a program to ensure that everyone accepted reality in a happy, dumbed-down, Disneyfied sort of way. How else can you explain why millions of young people who were recently embracing jazz and classical music suddenly found it good enough to love bands who knew three chords and sang sappy, simple songs? And don’t forget the sex and drugs–the powers that be quickly saw how mushy young people’s brains turned if they were constantly seeking and receiving sex from each other. They experimented with introducing a handful of drugs into the general populace, and eventually realized that marijuana, along with the old standby booze, was the best way to keep a population controlled and happy. By keeping marijuana illegal, but mostly looking the other way, it became the drug of choice for any number of young people who otherwise might have looked to improving math, physics and chemistry discoveries to build bombs and vehicles powered by cheap, abundant energy. Rebellious youth with keen intelligence would have fostered a true revolution to overthrow the powers that be, but instead were kept on a steady diet of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, and made to believe that these things were actually bucking the establishment. When, all the while, these things were tightening the noose on the general population’s ability to ever escape their Disney prison.

The thing is that I am not quite emptied of the things that made me go astray

The thing is that I am not quite emptied of the things that made me go astray. I am still very much living out the consequences of choices made by such inclinations, and so I will probably have to continue to practice writing, among my other vices.

There is this will to codify and recognize some core attributes of my self, both negative and positive. As if, somehow, I can start collecting enough data and recoginze patterns to discover how to manipulate me mathematically.

What do these core elements consist of?

Mostly emotional underpinnings, I suppose–ways in which the will of Mind can be held prisoner to feelings, emotions or physical cravings.

The older I get, the more I despise having to sit through conversations where someone can get to the point, or if I find myself desiring to let my mind run free in la la land. This writing is supposed to be my secret runoff of my own inability to stay focused on tasks at hand. It is at times both necessary and crutch-like in nature.

On my recent travels, I’ve seen an America that appears destined to become something in between the human societies portrayed in the movies Wall-E and Idiocracy–the bulk of humanity that has inherited their forbears’ pioneer/farmer spirit has taken to grunting about sports over fatty, buffet foods–the menfolk wear their big guts with pride–almost pushing out their distended bellies as if they were erections to be proud of, though some of these men probably haven’t seen their own erections in decades.

The so-called educated or intellectual classes disturb me as well. I can see them on Facebook, or sometimes sit and eat with them by way of my wife’s connections at Baylor. They let their conversations run to sports and reality TV as well, but use more complete sentences to describe their memories of the highlights of their television watching. Some of them eschew sports in favor of more active pursuits–which seems to inevitably mean becoming either foodies or lovers of music that sounds like the same shit that’s been made since the 70s.

The foodies can talk for an hour about their favorite sushi places, and the music snobs look at you with disdain if you haven’t heard of their favorite bands, but immediately decide those bands are no longer their favorites if you have heard of the bands’ names.

If you are interested in reading anything other than a current crop of well-loved novels that are on Oprah’s list (or are good candidates for ending up there), then you must have some kind of professional interest in the subject. Oh, you like to read the classics because you are a classics professor. At the very least, it’s a hobby that you take semi-seriously–no one in his right mind would simply pause to read the Aeneid for pleasure before moving on to Livy.

You have to live in isolation in this society if you want to pursue things that interest you (and you alone) purely for the pleasure of learning new things. It’s easy to join a book-of-the-month club, but it’s a lot harder to pick up something that is outside of your professional field when you know there will probably be zero people in the area to have a conversation with about what you are learning. Unless, again, you want to make it into a singular obsession, become a hobbyist, and meet a society that only talks about subject X.

I hate wasting my mind on things that seem to me to be throwaway knowledge. Knowledge about sports and pop culture doesn’t tell me anything about how our civilization has evolved to be what it is. It’s like our great grandparents and grandparents made this Herculean effort to take our society from a backwoods, disease ridden bunch of hayseeds to a society that flies planes, drives automobiles, sends men to space, and programs computers, and now all we do with these things is fly or drive to places to drink cocktails, eat buffets and look at stupid cat pictures. People joke about this, but it’s really not funny, and it’s a hell of a lot more of a deeply disturbing trend then we can even recognize, being so immersed in it.

Bottom line

Bottom line:
I have a minimal amount of free time available to me. I have to use this time wisely or I will fail. I have to find ways to continually bring myself to a resourceful state to be receptive to studying math during allotted periods of free time, or I will fail.

I have to understand my mind much better in terms of it being a functional tool.

1. My mind has to be trained to operate more efficiently, effectively, and perform when it doesn’t want to.
2. I have to accept that my mind, until properly trained, will continue to prefer wandering over limitless ideas, instead of focusing on studying, and being disciplined.
3. I have to accept that some of this is good, in that it enables me to be receptive to new concepts and be creative in problem solving, but it must be channeled and developed properly, rather than allowed to be always on or off.

I must set aside every single day at least one hour in which I study math undisturbed, and simply study and solve problems. I must train myself to study at a desk or table, as relaxing in bed or on a sofa leads to the mind wandering–it can only be reserved for recreational reading.

There is still a lot of junk in my brain that needs to get cleaned up.

I’m not necessarily talking about the bad thoughts, although they can be a part of it.

I’m talking about everything that seeks to prevent me from accomplishing anything throughout the day.

What is happening–the best part of my brain is being devoted to worrying about work-related problems, and how to solve them, and this is hard to shut off. I have little desire to jump into studying math at the end of the day, and in the mornings, my brain is still in a fog until I’ve juiced it up.

I’m not overly concerned about this, but it is something I’m going to have to monitor. Even before I declared people who love math to be incredibly uncool, and being “creative” and free-spirited was the way to go–going back to that summer aged ten or eleven where Mom bought me that book of practice math problems to work on during the summer. I found my mind wandering, and my inclination was to spend no more than thirty minutes on any one thing.

For this part of my brain, there has to be an outlet, and it has to be something other than television. I’ve become convinced that there is only about 2% of programming on television that can edify me mentally or spiritually at any given point in the week.

I have to really condition myself to accept my condition. I am in the best possible state I could be in, with the best possible set of circumstances and surroundings, given the terrible self-destructive choices I’ve made in the past–all in the name of becoming someone accepted and cool instead of realizing myself.

I can point to a number of character flaws, and attempt to establish a percentage for which I’ve resolved them. These are deep character flaws going back to childhood, and I see some of my later vices and addictions as being symptoms of these flaws, rather than additional flaws themselves.

1. A will to hurt others psychologically and emotionally to make myself feel superior.
The most visible flaw, therefore, the most closely watched one. While I no longer make fun of those who have some apparent weakness, or make fun of close friends or family, I still am inclined to mock those I feel superior to when they give me an excuse to through their bad behavior or some perceived slight.

I’m about 80% resolved on this. Life has kicked me around enough, and I can look in the mirror now and clearly see I’m not better than anyone else by any stretch of the imagination.

2. An inclination to expend undue amounts of mental energy on creating impossible fantasy worlds for escapist purposes.
This still happens on almost a nightly basis. This can only be combated through persistent asking of the question: how much of this is worth contemplating or considering given the face of a reality that persistently indicates otherwise? For example, the ages-old yearning to travel back in time and relive some part of my past, to derive a better outcome for life back in the present. Were this even remotely possible via some combination of self will, cosmic powers and yet unknown physical forces operating in higher dimensions, there is not one shred of evidence that all my fantasy-creation would contribute to accomplishing it.

I’m about 70% of the way here. The more stress and chaos in my life, the more likely this one is to re-appear.

3. Lack of self control, especially when nervous around large groups of people, or when I’m hungry or tired.
This has been a slower process of change. I am about 60% of the way there.

4. Unwillingness to face reality head on, and build practicable, goal setting strategies to obtain financial freedom and happiness in my profession.

I’m probably about 30% accomplished with this one. I now have some awareness of how to obtain significant results by finding the right balance of knowing when repetition and focus is important to improve at something, and when it is simply doing the same bad thing over and over again and getting nowhere new.