It is really yourself that is the final arbiter. If you keep yourself as the final arbiter, you will yourself be less susceptible to infection by cultural illusion. Now, the problem with this is that it makes you feel bad to not be infected by cultural illusion because it’s called alienation…the reason you feel alienated is because the society is infantile, trivial and stupid. And so the cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.
I prefer to start this story of my life at the age of 16 (I will most likely backtrack to earlier times, as it all seems like one flat compacted narrative anyhow), when I moved out of my family’s home to live with a 32-year-old comic book collector and conspiracy theorist. I did not so much move out as I literally noped the fuck out of there, gathering my shit in two duffel bags (my most precious belongings being my journals and several issues of Starlog).
My family was at that time living in the house of my theoretical “stepfather”—a loud, overweight, belligerent man in his sixties who I would find out later was into some really sketchy shit. While his fixation on me seemed mostly violent in nature, as opposed to sexual, I had learned from the previous theoretical stepfather (an outright pedophile who raped his own biological daughter) that things can quickly escalate.
The actual incident that convinced me to leave was being shoved down a flight of stairs by this man, the catastrophic effects of such an event being minimized by grabbing an American flag pole that was leaning against a banister & wedging it between the two walls of the narrow stairway.
After some rumination I climbed back upstairs to inform him that I was going to go to the police—but he replied that as a former cop himself, he had connections that would protect him and that I would not be believed. And so here we have something that, to my 16-year-old self, sounded like an actual goddamn conspiracy. I didn’t know to label it as such—but I recognized the basic elements. The cover-up. “I know people.” I wouldn’t be believed. And so on and so on.
So I just packed my shit up and noped it the hell out of there. My mother passively let me go, handing me keys to our old rent-controlled apartment which she was planning to sublet and/or use as a waystation for our Brazilian relatives. In the eyes of the primal family unit—such as it was—I was the “contagion,” the problem. So I had to go. It’s a very ancient tribal set of dynamics, replayed once more in modern times by me lugging my two bulging duffel bags onto the “F” train on the way to Brooklyn.
And so now I was a sixteen-year-old living completely by herself with no parents (my father had been dead for several years by that point), in a lower-income area of Kensington. I was in BIG DANGER with flashing lights, but way too naive to understand it. But I wasn’t like other young women anyway.
My favorite pastimes were reading and writing. I had an interest in metaphysics and religion but there wasn’t a lot of material in that department to come by; I eagerly read crappy old books on theology and “psycho-cybernetics.” The picks at the library were limited—not just in terms of selection, but by my own knowledge. I just didn’t know where to look, or what to look for.
I decided to visit a friend of my late father’s, who owned a comic shop. He offered me a job—mostly paid in comics and pizza, as per the Comic Clerks Union Of America. So now I had an apartment (the electricity was going to be turned back on soon, per Mom), and a job. I was going to have my own life.
I was a teenager in BIG DANGER with flashing lights—but I didn’t realize it. I was still trusting. I had perceived little stray pieces of the Conspiracy throughout my brief years, but still hadn’t put it all together yet. I had not comprehended the primal matrix at the heart of humanity. I had not fully comprehended that I was the Contagion, the Anomaly.
I had not fully comprehended my place in the Universe.