Virtually Yours:
Carolyn L Burke
My Cognitive and Physical Landscape
Page 2

Be warned: This is my diary... clb

Go to today's entry first. Or start at the beginning. This is page 2 of my diary, and follows on the previous page in some web-like sense. The other page was full. So soon I need an index for my diary.

A new bravery.

Fri Feb 10 1995

I notice now that I have held back in being frank. My academic analysis skills come out, and I write with them things that I've known for a long time. But thisis therapy for me... honesty and freedom therapy. Wow, that's a loaded word. freedom

And here I started talking about bravery.. to myself. And I find that it is the freedom to, no.. it is freedom. (Sigh, word games.) Honesty to oneself is freedom. There is no other source. External world limitations cause some people to fight and others to submit, but this is a decision. Freedom from slavery, from abuse, from starvation... these are seriously important. And yet they are not the ideal that is invoked by the word freedom. Money doesn't buy happiness (well this is untested actually), or freedom.

And here I have been being trivially honest only, in my diary over the past few days. I have utilized the difference between sincere autobiographical writing and gut-wrenching self-examination. Too easily I slipped from the latter into the former, looking only to the safer parts of my humanity to find expressions of self. I thought about this last night a lot after meeting a couple of young guys at the local Internet cafe. [Check out their link to the SnowBall Cam: this one is funny.] They both bubbled forth about their lives and cares easily and with little concern for the audience. And us so-called grown-ups kept quieter, in part for concern of status abuse, and in part, the more honest part, for concern of feeling stupid ourselves. Well this was true of me anyway.

Freedom is that which I have pursued all of my life. At last, it occured to me that I had succeeded in my life long quest. (I'm drifting here again.) It is inside me.. a decision that I can be happy and an acknowledgement that the meaningless words of "just decide to be free and its'll be there" are true. Let Shangri La in the mountain mists become true. (Perhaps Shangri La is the wrong allusion -- that was only a complex library with satiated librarians in-house.) So I say to myself.. be free.

And I hide at home in front of my terminal typing away. I guess if I thought that this was freedom, I wouldn't be down on it. And I'm not that much. But a little bit inside of me says: to be happy, you must go into the world and get to really know others. And another bit echos that I should really lay quiet letting people think good things of me as the default. I shouldn't enlighten them about my nuisance value, my foolishness, nay, even my stupidity. So I stay quiet, and not free.

Life as an introverted sociopath. :) What is it like? Well, the rules and regs of society seem arbitrary. Damn it. In one sense they are. These rules are the mother-of-pearl emissions of the social oyster (warning: don't swallow raw on pain of internal rot). This mold one time only social lubricant removes a lot of the friction that we'd have in a unregulated or unsocialized bunch of people. No sand in them there shells. The question I'm left with though is whether any pearls at all are created. I think not. Smoothed people are created. The road to power in the '90's is found in a lackof disagreement and a plethora of approval vibes. Smooth indeed. And hard to have a mind of one's own.

To quote (sort of) a guy I was talking with yesterday evening, to learn how to be an individual most people join a group. They learn the pattern of the moment.. all identically. And then they can feel like individuals. Heh.


Fri Feb 10 1995 (later in the day)

As i cruise through the day-to-day stuff, i start to feel sad and a bit slow. No capitals on my i because my fingers ae two sad to type them even while my brain says they should go here too. Sadness. Sometimes I think that the feelings i go through, just am, are the snide side-effects of the universes notion of how to evolve a reproducing speices. Other times, I think I'm just lazy leadingto feeling eventless. And in the background of my thoughts echo the tunes Peter once sang (like all people who've known Peter, there are pieces of out-dated-to-him religious slivers in the space that was never filled before - the superego if you will). Harmonics surrendering to the beat of just deal with it. Placebos work. Its all in your head. Decide to be otherwise.

And the sadness lingers like a bad poem wanting to be read aloud for others to extinguish. Quietly.

I remember many things in this mood. Unusual for me, the memoryless one. But the sadness triggers a familiarity of childhood longings towards freedom and othernesses. And yet now, so many years later, with freedom turned to boredom, I hear only the sentimental twanging of an old banjo out of tune and beloved. I am sad because I remember.

Nothing big or important of course. No flashbacks to abuse or hunger or fear. Cravings for self-determination (I left home at 16 to achieve this). I recently completely got over the anger in my heart about those years, those people. A funny almost leering superposition occured. My horrible, tyranical, self-indulgent, vicsious and mean, and ever so unfair parents were simply normal people. Dull and boring and afraid to live and afraid to try anything, they stayed at home mostly, and had few friends and were just lonely. And to this child of old, they were monstrous. To the subjective point of my having plotted to murder them for years. To the point where I knew no other people in the world most of my life. To the point where I knew with certainty, found only in the truly unworldly, that my only release from the dark pits of solitude was death. And I planned that too. Their monstrousity lay simply and only in having left me out of the social world completely. And that only out of fear. Mine and theirs. Nothing to be angry about as an adult. The superposition was simply the realization that the monsters were dull and boring and average, no different from most of the people I have ever met. Unexciting. The one anomaly in my memory. How can the dull and boring and afraid be monstrous?

And now I sit here sadly, though less sad as the layers peel away. And the fear lives in me often, the fear of others, and the fear of boring a hole in the universe of such minor size that no-one will ever know me either.

Today the fear is a bit strong. I should do something bold and brazen. I wonder if I will.

Who am I?

Sat Feb 11 1995

Carolyn Leslie Burke. No, its Carolyn Lesley Burke. Well, one of them. My father's middle name was Leslie, and my maternal grandfather was Leslie Stephenson. Guess with no male children around, I got the name. The femalized version, of course.

Born: April 18, 1965. At: Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Exciting? No. But now my name will get into the lycos search. :) Vane to the end, one might say.

Nervous Systems.

Thu Feb 16 1995

I'm very distant today.


Fri Feb 17 1995
Cartwheels from the edge of reality
Carolyn L Burke


Wed Feb 22 1995

I have a large scab over my mind right now. It's been there for awhile, and I need it a bit longer. To my friends, I'm quiet lately, untalkative. At least about myself. Not suicidal or anything. Not even self-destructive, although it sometimes feels that way. No, I just need some time.

I have a bit of a cold today and its that time of the month (I hate that euphemism) and the weather's really cold out. So I'm mellower than normal. My mind relaxes and whispery leaks of thoughts rearrange the scab.

So I guess its time to piss some people off.

To each of you (from today):


My thoughts and feelings about you, and your thoughts, always change. This was only today.


Thu Feb 23 1995

People's opinions, no evaluations, often and easily affect my self worth. I'm a strong person in many ways, and when a person meets me, they are likely to think me striking, confident, strong. They don't see the fear too easily - well the good ones do, but they're rare. And they don't see the seams of constuction. They are likely to mistake me for the things I only aspire to be. Then again, as a natural perfectionist perhaps I am the things I have aspired to.

One of my high school teachers, Mrs K., was such a person. Cool, dignified, elegant, and free of worry, she embodied success in my eyes. She was clearly slumming in being a teacher. The town I grew up in, Oakville, was like that. As the highest per capita city in Canada for years running, it let wealthy attitude filter even into my lower class family. People upon meeting me assume I'm from an educated and wealthy background. From this and my mummy having been a Brit. "The princess." And it is from this that I am sensitive to their judgements.

As I heal now I try to avoid hearing their words, their praises and their compliments. A few years ago I noticed that I am never either laughed at or criticised. Ever. Can you imagine. I thought that I must do a lot of social maneuvering to achieve this. And so I started to work against it, against myself. God, the first time someone did try to laugh at me, I nearly died of shame and embarrasement. How sheltered I had made myself. The exquisite feeling of letting someone notice me so intimately made me shiver. I should try to let it happen sometimes. It might be the angle I need to deal with other's evaluations of me as well. It seems that where I discourage laughter and critisicsm, I allow evaluation... Most likely that is Peter's effect on me. I hope so.

How I met...

Thu Feb 23 1995
I am going to use initials here to protect the dignity of most of those in the know. They'll know who they are, but some lines just can't be crossed ... yet.


Many years ago now, in the days of Waterloo undergradship, I was dating L. He and I had one of those tragic, dramatic relationships - manic and depressing, and destructive as anything. We were both under 20 at the time.

On going back to school after a workterm in Toronto, L obtained through the pure lottery system of all residences, a new roommate, Peter. I met Peter while visiting L from Toronto. Should I write the facts or the feelings? Both are ever so amusing... I think I'll sketch in just a bit of both.

Well I was playing at being a model and he was playing at trying to relax all the uptight people.. He, in his unlaced boots, long messy hair, foolish and huge grin, stoner jacket, and laid-back attitude, came into the room he and L shared and jumped sideways. "Yuch," I thought, and "Yuch," I stated. One of those hippies. when growing up in Oakville, my mother once pointed out of thecar window and said, "look, a hippie." She was sneering. And this sneer stayed with me in my ignorance of human society right up to Peter's entrance. [... to be continued ...]


Wed Mar 1 1995

My pages were entirely deleted this past Saturday, with amazing and varying consequences. Suffice for now to say that everything from last Wednesday until today have been irretrievably lost. I miss them. And I learned that for thefirst time in my life I have a forum here in these pages with which I

A new start.

Mon Mar 6 1995

Well I guess I was never too good at apologizing.. then again, why should I. This diary is for *me*. And that others peek in it isn't important.

Many things have happened to me... but those are for making memories with. That's an odd subject. Why don't I remember anything much ever? I can just hear the current psycho-babblers investing such a statement with past events so horrible that they would figure I am dediated to remembering only through trauma and shock exposure... quacks. I may be crazy, but I am my own person.. and that means that I am self-aware.. even at my worst; even as I sulk or jab at another. I know I am doing it. Perhaps that makes me immoral, unethical, but it certainy doesn't make me a knee-jerk reacter. At best I guess I'm sociopathic? Which is fine. That a system of ethics doesn't or hasn't occured naturally i me does not mean that I do use such a thing. Perhaps those who know me best understand this.

But back to memory. I have almost no memory most of the time. I have specialized mentally to have an uncanny on the spot ability to understand absolutely anything that passes uder my nose during that spot of time. One might say that I use only short term memory, and that no transfer into long term storage takes place. [Its funny that once you embrace the computer metaphor ofthe mind, everything that Herb Simon has created explains a fuck of a lot. Otherwise it is empty and arbitrary model building -- one ends up with a beautiful and complex (excuse me for thinking that those are close to synonymous -- at heart I am often still a truth functional person with the corresponding set of realist aesthetic principles.) model of nothing that is.] [Can you tell that I need to write a week's worth of mental meanderings in one morning .. how deep will these tangents getbefore I'll start to do whole tangent-pages?] But man am good in the present moment. While zooped up on info, I'm as fast as any expert in that field. Two days later, I don't even remember I had the conversation. I try to hide this from people. How doyou introduce into a conversationwith someone you know you've met before thatyouhave no clue whatyou last talked about with them .. their life details, their loves and concerns (cat fur in the keyboard for instance), their personal revelations and lifelong goals.

And yet.. here I am the person least likely to repeat myself... How canI know is repetitive if I don't remember my own past? Clearly I must. So its probably an access problem (in Herb's terms, if I were an EPAM net, (don't even begin to expectme to remember the expanded version of EPAM .. suffice to say that EPAM is a computational model of the mind .. pure GOFAI (good old-fashioned aritificial intelligence!! I remember that one thanks to Margaret Boden's spelling it out sensibly at a conference last year.)) I'd have trouble with the semantic indexing into long term storage. According to Peter (am I out of this nest of nestings yet), I don't bother to hook up sufficient and ranging index associations. And according to both, this is a result primarily of not rehearsing the inforamition and index link sufficently .. 2 seconds of rehearsal to build the information leaf and .8 seconds (?) to build each index reference. So I build just one in -- the one that tells me when that thing was said, and where too I think. But then I don't remember where I've been since that information wasn't indexed either. And all of this amounts to my aversion to repetition. Have I created an insane mind out of that one principle .. an aesthetic preference not to be bored? I knew this guy in highschool who saw the very first release of Star Wars somethng like 37 times. How?

Well, my failure to remember is not a resut of repression tactics of some absolutely horrible event. I'm not saying that this holds for others. But I do know as only the local haver of a thought (me in this case) can know it (I offer Wittgenstein's private language argument in support of this belief of mine) (have I mentioned that I'm a Quinean behaviourist and Wittgensteinian mentalist?) that this is true of me.


|another interlude|

Here is the outline of a dissertation that will never be written.


Tue Mar 7 1995

Experiments in html, excitment about proverbs, and keeping cats warm. Should I go off to Aspen? Should I lie back with a bad book for awhile? [I've spent so much of my recent years reading either philosophy stuff or science fiction. I don't know which are the worthwhile books of a more worldly nature. The ones I've tried haven't turned my crank.] Guess I'll have to hang out with literary types for awhile .. pick up some classics geography.

Why are people so remote from each other? Are they really boring if they don't mix up and mingle - is this the real way that we causal systems look intriguing to each other? Today, just today, I think so.


I am not Mary Kay.

Thu Mar 9 1995

Are you surprised?! Well I'm off from paint colour picking and business meetings to a pitcher of beer and conversation. Hmmm. Wonder which is preferable? And by what standard. The one of now wants to write a bit. But the obligations built from friendship and concern, or should I say the standards of friendship and concern rather, suggest that I stop and say hi to Richard as he drops in. And to continue organizing the social event in honour of Peter's happiness -- much talk about much.

Off I run. Have you new NetScaped yet? Bet you thought that should have been a link tot he site. No way. Everyone else in the known universe does that particular link. I wonder what the most linked to link is? All my lines are yellow. Hmmphf.



Fri Mar 10 1995

This is fucked up. I'm outa here.

Substitute your favourite curse.

Sat Mar 11 1995

As I scratch the beautiful Sable's neck, and stretch out the kinks from my knees, thoughts putter around in my head -- but they don't flow. I've been reading a book written by a guy who obviously went through grad school in philosophy -- too much academic theft there. And the characters are all copies in a computer universe, each trying to deal with easy self-duplication, and with isolation from the flesh and blood universe. My dreams coursed through a simliar disintregration all night.

Never do what you do not want to.... Not from my dreams of course. But as I read back to Thursday night, and see that before I went out with my friends, I already knew that that was not the right course to take. I have been pissed off at them since. Imagine a person whose own sense of self comes from knowing intimately each new person that comes along. Does this make sense to do? And what of the other people involved in that person's concerns... how are they to take this new additional person? A new one each yer or two. Must they embrace each new possible wonderfulness with the same verve? Must I? I'd rather learn to know someone slowly and through shared experiences rather than through the self-revelation tactics of the vicarious introspectors. [Thanks to Tracey for getting this incredibly astute descripton into the open.] Why must meeting people include tearing open your soul?

Long, thin whispers of slivery intertwining memories. Of freedom. And escape. Where are the roots holding me down? Nowhere. Friendship is an illusion bred of familiarity and a lingering need to be together. Honour, bravery, love, friendship, hope. All words of the patriarchy. Not mine. Go back to the promised land for there you will find (in your thoughts you think this) the real honour. May it be as stiff as your intimacy ends up.

By myself, I can breath the unknown. By myself, I stand free of help. By myself, there are no teats to suckle from, comfortable bondage. By myself.

Is this what I want? No. It is what I need. So I believe. After years of listening to how sharing is wonderful, I find a need so strong to share only where and when he won't notice. I want to be only selfish near him. About myself, about him, about anything I can. That can't be love. It isn't wonderful.

"Go away." I told him to. He did.

The aloneness hurts and in it, with it, I am myself and not his expectations. I don't have to share with anyone now. And if I want to I will, and he won't know. I know that this is the greatest gift I can receive now.. the gift that for years I could not have .. no sharing.

He will think of this as a policy statement. But I know what it is -- a reaction to fitting myself into a shape that doesn't fit my own views. Sharing was never an axis of concern for me. Many things weren't. My axes fold at different places in the cosmic tissue. Why wouldn't they? Like caring. Like non-symmetry. No. That is a reaction too. What are my concerns, my demons, my dreams?

Just like reading a book changes your own thought structure, so knowing another person too intimately changes your personness. I want my personness... not a joint one. How many grains make up a pile of sand? Certainly more than one. When is the tadpole more of a frog? When do two people become one strategy against the world? And what happens to their essential separatenesses? Why do I want this essential separateness so badly? Why do I not want to share the results of me with another so intimately -- why does it feel that I lose myself if I do share that way? But it does. I don't embrace taking in knowledge anymore.

I don't. Is this grad school withdrawl? I don't think so. I know that I can solve all of the day-to-day things that come my way, that I don't need to fear anything. I am too well educated by the street and by the schools to be helpless. Even for a second. And the traces of other humans' passages with all of their concerns are as easy to see as the ancient forests replaced by the paved thoroughways and towering buildings. I can can know them all without opening my eyes. Why should I want to know even more?

So the old teacher doesn't want to know more, and he sets himself in hell where he is emperor? And I am doing the same? And does not cynicism breed there? Why must I say these things to a person one-on-one before I am sharing? I don't think I should have to. He should understand that if he needs the vicarious thrill of another's introspective awarenesses that mine are here where he refuses to look. Here, where noone interupts me with their different interpretive folds and cures and advice. Here, in my private space that I keep open so that others can not be surprised by who I am. Here, where I cannot hide. My attic junk has been sitting on the lawn for sale at low rates for years. And the basement shadows are where I am most comfortable. I am angry still.

Damn, I hate poems.

But maybe, I hate poems because I am not in the one I read last .. when I wanted most to be. When my life energy created the poem-desire in him. how dare he share that with another. The poem has no place for me -- and neither does he. And instead he writes with another.

[ Awareness kudo: I know I am jealous. But so does he. I know he loves me, and I know that I can't feel it. Weakness destroys. True, but its another of those patriarchy reflections in my mind. Not quite narcissism. ]

Orson Scott Card's How Software Companies Die.

Some 'phins from Oceana playing in harmony.

Later On...

Sat Mar 11 1995 Skip this pathetic whining drivel.

Still not smiling. Some people are naturally happy. Others have figured out how to be happy. And then there is the rest of us -- those who once in awhile have flashes of the stuff, but who have no direct causl influence on when, how or how long. I think there must be a way, but I think it involves wanting to be happy. I guess I don't.


Sometimes I see the universe from afar. Earth as a molecular cluster nomore significant than anything else. Its like looking at a table, and cognitively understanding that there be molecules there as plain as day; that my fist could pass right through it if only the fist's molecules and the table's could only be a little bothered to do so. And from this perspective, the human condition seems irrelevant. And I look around at my neighbours shoveling the sidewalks (its their civic duty) and keepng the curtains closed properly in their front windows, and I can't generate any enthusiasm to dothe same. The arbitrariness of nudity being private, and snow being unwelcome. Into my mind pops the thought that these are functional requirements of civilization. But it is that same civilization that leaves me alone in my front room on Saturday night. Alone.

Other times, I can see only that humans as the sentients are the be all and end all of the universe. As Peter would put it if I could bear to listen anymore, we are the Godel point of the universe -- the lookers at instead of only parts of the whole. And as the special part of the universe that knows itself - that can knowitself - let's go to it. Yeah right. i cannot generate any enthusiasm for this one. Its time to bury my head in the sands of animalness. Lizard, mammal, ameoba. But not sentient.

The concerns of the human sphere are not molecular. We need to eat, to sleep, to sex, to fight, and to own. So what. How pleasant it would be to actually need to do some of these things. But then, that is just my fantasy... Honestly, how pleasant it would be to want anything at all. Sex would be nice. A warm concern for me coming from someone else. Someone else who I thought well of. But I'll never find that - I don't think well enough of me. [And through my mind, the criticism - someone else's not mine - that this isn't literay enough. And then in rebuttal, that this isn't of the people enough. Why does everyone have an opinion? What good are the opinions of others? Life is over so fast afterwards.]

But these count as nothing in the scheme of things. Or do they? I wish they did count. Where is my strength?

End of drivel


Sat Mar 10 1995
Cartwheels from the edge of reality
Carolyn L Burke


Mon Mar 13 1995

Hmmm. I need some coffee.

Awakening in the morning's sunshine..

Thu Mar 16 1995

A new day - in the spring air. Cats at my window, raccoons in the bathroom, and finally I fell asleep for awhile longer. Mondays are too beaurocratically exciting for me .. I take a bath instead. But today is Thursday,a nd the city's vibes are mellower, warm air and a weekend encroaching, people become tolerable.

Roommates. At first she was his darling - a reflection of who he was. The she was the person best at being eastern, andwho everyone had to meet. And know. And now when her boyfriend shows up, she is to be avoided. Not at first of course, but as she gradually changes into her prevously unsuspected western persona, she starts to taste shallow. No longer the detached soul who gives too much, she takes, in garters and lace. And he sees more than before - he sees her as a real person finally. And he hurts too much. Another vision shattered. But for just awhile, he was happy without building it himself. I'm glad he had that time. He needed a vacation too.

Now we can be roommates. Finally.

Further thoughts on the nature of things.

Sat Mar 18 1995

As you were.

The great misleading of Peter's mind comes (tragically ?) to an end. She is a sheep. So say the consultants brought into evaluate her worthiness. With the new plan in hand to save from grief all of his friends the next time -- to be used each time he is newly infatuated by a so-thought spritual being but before he gets to accidently hurt many -- I am relieved to be believed finally. It is a nice feeling to have had friends who helped me, him, and themselves through this. [Time out as I write a long letter to those same friends.]

[Hey Joe.. you out there?]

I wish I had a way of determining a person's level of self-awareness and whether they have good intentions.

... flip the page ...


All daughter writings of Carolyn's Diary are copyright © Carolyn L Burke, 1995, and may not be copied without permission except for non-commercial gain. See what your lawyers can make of that.

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