“The Agenda Futility”
by Jane Liddle

Definition: Brainfulness is the acknowledgment and practice of rational empathy by accessing all core vortexis of the brain via psychedelics and communication with those who are on the clear path…

Jolene Hopewell wrote her widely ignored yet influential treatise, The Brainfulness Manifesto,  after a lifetime of institutional sexism and years of spousal oppression, then momentary recognition and ridicule of her own accomplishments and self, and then thus, lastly, mostly forgotten. The treatise was written while she lived in the mountains in upstate New York, a time period of complete solitude that became her normal. In the preceding years, she had withdrawn from the aboveground straight world and spent the rest of her known days with her beloved cat, Professor Mumbles, until she disappeared like a “bat into hell,” as her elderly neighbor assuredly confided. Jolene has not been found, although the search-party, such as it is, consists of a nephew somewhere, and a student from Bard who stumbled upon her work while researching her thesis after a night of listening to an adjunct from Columbia monologue about John Hammond in what was supposed to be a dialogue about the authenticity of subversiveness.

This righteous student saved Professor Mumbles from a scavenging existence after visiting Jolene’s abandoned home and noticing the cat licking her paws on the crumbling porch.  She soon realized P. Mumbles was an inspiring force in Jolene’s life, an oddly self-aware yet not self-conscious animal who scornfully shrugged off all preconceived notions of what it meant to be a cat with a woman, that is, what it meant to be an independent and clear-minded non-needy soul repeatedly stereotyped as a companion to codependent sadness and spinsterhood in the cultural psyche.

 

Mission Statement: To proclaim rational thought as not belonging exclusively to a gender or race (although doesn’t belong at all to creed), and to eliminate prejudice and misunderstanding by exposing self-serving contradictions via brainfulness and complete sensory accuracy (what enemies of the brain refer to as sensitivity). This will lead to everyone’s total happiness and actualization through shared mutual clarity, earthly cosmic understanding of each other, and true perspective.

In her treatise Jolene set out to reexamine “logic” and “rationality,” of how it was held up as an irrefutable way of understanding and expressing what was considered mostly in males’ domain because a male’s brain was naturally hardwired this way, just couldn’t help it. Jolene wrote that this logic was often impractical and incomplete, thus defeating the whole purpose of it being logic. What if what we thought we understood as logic as inherent absoluteness was false and impossible? What if men, those who hold positions of power in the for-profit and non-profit and public discourse sectors, what if men really weren’t, as they insisted, to be simultaneously and mutually exclusively logical, simple, problem-solving, rational, able to predict the outcome of military events organized by narcissists and scatter-brained dictators who are strategizing large armies and machinery and ships and planes and also diplomats, able to gamble on sports teams based on previous performances and assessing team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and temperaments, able to forecast  the future via prophetizing and philosophizing reason of being, able to perform subtle and close readings of ancient texts whose authors they can divine and conjure, yet also unable to “mind-read” the people they are in close intimate relationships with, who they criticize as having nonsensical and ridiculous expectations, while they themselves are not-at-all-picky or unreasonable when choosing mates of hot, young, promiscuous girls with daddy issues who constantly want to talk everything into twistedness with no regard to practicality and are blond and get up early to do Pilates, but then these manicured women act impulsively when hormonal and act impulsively when there aren’t any more hormones left, and all those males in power decide confidently and competitively to bomb, spend, fire, and defund, sometimes entirely based on their masculine guts and ability to see souls through a person’s eyes— what if these are self-serving myths that have nothing to do with logic, that are objectively illogical, or, rather, objectively objectively illogical? What if men are capable of psychological warfare and not, as smirked and shrugged, innocent confused people invested in common-sense problem-solving actions and deliberate linear communication only as needed who are continually thwarted by the mysteries and unnavigable female neural physiology, inherently emotional and overly complicated with their thorough memory retrieval and psychoanalytical specialties? And somehow this was proof that men are more qualified to rule the entire world?

 

Summary of Intents and Purposes

  • Prescribe hallucinogens to the population as a rite into adulthood to help aid in the receiving of love of humanity and citizenry and equality…

 

In their twenties, when Jolene and her husband spent their nights in a mind-bending daze of LSD and mushrooms and Mexican marijuana, which an ethics professor once proclaimed “was shit back then” while self-consciously casually spinning his wedding ring around his finger, Jolene listened to the kinds of records one would expect, and together they enjoyed a loving collaboration of philosophical endeavors, particularly explorations into the larger questions of what were the physiological components of consciousness, and what that would look like on a brain map, where they assumed this answer would reside. They believed that answer would lead them to the meaning of life, or perhaps that was the meaning of life, as well as the dismantling of religion and its hold on the world citizens as providing “reasons” for a bizarre notion of justice and morality. They articulated their desires and irritations through this paradigm of what they believed was happening in their brain on a physiological level, as if by describing in the processes of thoughts they could reach full understanding of motivations, both of kindness and cruelty, and train the brain to reconstruct itself over time to form new connections of happiness and love (this part of the theory later proven to be somewhat true, the brain rewiring itself, but mostly to conduct motor functions and make up for some sense of loss), and that this was the foundation of good and the solution to evil. The self was the mind, and the mind was the brain, thus the brain was the soul.

 

  •  Understand that all the spirituality we need is in the brain . . .

 

Jolene’s husband was a psychologist with a growing interest in the then expanding study of neurology. Through the haze of his and Jolene’s alertness to the universe, he was determined to scientifically prove all the connections he felt he knew to be true, of how the brain formed a self, a self who is aware that he is a self and aware of his part in history and civilization. Of course, his interest in exploring consciousness through the aid of psilocybin would never be recognized seriously as this was now the age of Total Drug Warfare (the eighties), so he took a break from the trips with Jolene, and set off to legitimize himself and their conclusions, a desire that Jolene was critical of, since she was quite positive that the power struggles and needy search for validation and vindication in academic and scientific communities were a corrupting influence on anyone that was not abnormally sure-footed. She did not consider her husband to be one of these people and told him so, to protect him and their own partnership, but this offended him, as even then he was showing typical fear of emasculation that seems to consume most men’s subconscious to the detriment of the earth and all who live upon it.

He teamed up with an old colleague who was newly and happily divorced from a “lying bitch,” to found a foundation in order to conduct experiments with a focus on not bolstering their own self-importance and getting out of the house but also to find a connection between self-awareness and humanity and the neuroscience behind consciousness and heightened intelligence (as empathy was previously referred to before it was “proven” to be a feminine strength). They set up an experiment testing participants’ self-awareness and ability and understanding to read other people’s emotions when confronted with the range of feelings that people show through their expressions or language. They would employ functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to map out where in the brain empathy and awareness and self-awareness are activated.

What they found was the women in the experiment greatly outperformed the men, greatly outperformed in tasks relating to self-awareness, perception, and empathetic emotional accuracy. Jolene’s husband was uncomfortable with these results, given what it could mean for personal relationships, for existing power structures of which he benefitted, for how it didn’t quite match up with the stories he told himself about hisself, and what if Jolene had been right about him. He was determined to either prove it wrong, or meaningless, or better yet, as his colleague helpfully suggested, a handicap. Because to let it be would be to concede a truth he hadn’t believed in. And he wasn’t the only one.

These two men began to regard themselves as brain-readers. They found that the female subjects’ vMPFC (the ventral part of the medial prefrontal cortex) demonstrated significantly more activity than the male subjects’. By this time, experiments by other scientists showed a link between pattern recognition, problem-solving, system-building, and heightened activity in the dorsal part of the prefrontal cortex (dMPFC).  Thus their assertion that the female brain’s proclivity for empathetic accuracy must mean that more of their neural energy is redirected from rational thinking and clear cognition, perhaps the only time heightened brain activity in one section of the organ was ever interpreted as a sign of confusion and misdirection.

 

  • Help the oppressed know that the stories others told them about theirself were not in the oppressed people’s interest, but in the oppressors’, and that these stories are fake…

 

Fifteen years after this initial study, during which Jolene’s husband went to conferences and talks and sometimes Jolene went because it was only logical that the spouse who is money-making and influential and needy dictate the terms of his partners’ life even if they didn’t have conversations anymore, she found him dead in her home, later learning he suffered from an aneurysm. It was, by all second-hand accounts, terrible.

It wasn’t long after his death when commentary and posthumous praise was published for his work, his breakthroughs, for his bravery and willingness to explore gender brain difference during a time when even thinking this was very controversial would get one eliminated from the scientific community on account of feminists having achieved total victory in the past decade. There was even talk of some awards or officialized recognition to be bestowed, while there was little mention of his wife’s initial influence in setting the path that he followed just to fork away from it when he didn’t like what he learned, like an emotionally stunted child. There was mention of his devotion to Jolene for their entire marriage.

After an appropriate and unsuspicious amount of mourning, Jolene began the sweet and heartbreaking task of going through his things, leaving the office for last, as it was the greatest source of pain in their marriage, or at least where that pain was allowed to grow like a weed. There she made some interesting discoveries.

Proof: Everything ever if your brain is open.

Jolene’s husband’s original experiment, the one that set him off in a direction that surprised and angered her, was perhaps not as controlled as these sorts of things ought to be, that is to say, at all. Jolene later wrote in an essay, “Almost all of the women participants were studying to be nurses since they had to complete a psychological study in order to earn credits. I imagine nurses are an empathetic bunch. The men in the study were recruited from the neighborhood library adult education center, from programs focusing on reeducation and resume-building for the ex-boxers and former wrestlers who could no longer play due to injury. Not all these exsportsmen suffered known brain injuries, but show me a boxer with an intact, normally functioning cortex of any kind and I’ll show you my left one. . . .”

Other very interesting facts in the files of her late husband included returned loving and sexual letters to young female colleagues that eventually descended into accusatory rampages, as well as the notes of another published study that demonstrated spousally abusive men to have near-total empathetic inaccuracy when it came to interpreting their wives’ feelings and thoughts, almost always inferring motivations and intentions that weren’t there at all. The brain imaging technology showed an abnormally underactive vMPFC as well as above-average activity dMPFC. Supporters of her husband often cited this study as evidence that her husband wasn’t biased or sexist, as it showed that an extreme male mind couldbe detrimental (while also mentioning in the same concluding paragraph that only .05 percent of males have an extreme male mind).

What was left out of the published study, and what Jolene stumbled upon in the musty file, was that these same men had almost 100 percent empathetic accuracy when it came to reading other people. Their vMPFCs were near-normal when not dealing with their wives. The subject’s inaccurate empathetic reading was specified to the one person they most wanted to control and was not disabled in any other way. Empathy was selective.

The mind had a say over the brain after all.

Method:  Along with hallucinogens as a rite into adulthood, DMT should be enjoyed between the ages of 35 and 40 to help stave off midlife crisis and keep the universe in perspective…

So Jolene wrote a creatively factual profile, just explaining the tediousness and spirit-crushing loneliness of spending a life with a typical insecure male who believed that Jolene’s vMPFC was preventing her from behaving or communicating in any sort of reasonable and rational way, that her empathetic understanding filled her brain with static, while his mind was clear for decision-making and problem-solving (pay no attention to the fact that this suggests his solutions are not based in a reality that involves humans). Jolene simply asserted that to believe the canon of evolutionary psychology, of the history of academic and clinical work detailing the fragility and convoluted mystery and sensitivity of the female mind, was a bit like believing that smoking was good for you based on a scientific study funded by Phillip Morris.

This article was published on a pretty insignificant website but like all information, like all insipid little observations and huge revelations, it spread like a self-serving theory that benefitted those with the most say, like a purposeful fire that gave the impression of wildness. There was an outcry, an outrage, better categorized as out-capped comments, out-projecting, out-killing time, out-speculation as to how much Jolene needed to get laid. Everyone could and did drum up an opinion on Jolene’s prejudice, against men, against jocks, and it was the talk of the e-Town and around the iWatercooler.

Footnote: You must partake in these rituals and healing in solitude, since proximity to technology strips humanity from language and dangerously magnifies misunderstanding to the point of self-destructive pleasure and deliberate confusion…

Not for not though. Because before Jolene was married, before she had given her life over to dog-walking and nonprofit drudgery, and nail-painting and paint-watching, and small-talking at dinner parties, and creating a distance between her public life and her private face, and being the subject of a never-ending experiment to prolong the ultimate battle, and coming out the loser, before the bottles and bottles of wine, before her husband, before all this typicalness, she put a few folk songs to tape, even performed a short set at the Newport Folk Festival back in the day (where her husband first saw her and fell in love with her black hair and raspy voice that could hit notes with unexpected clarity). These performances were rediscovered and put up on YouTube by folklooser99, and the brief potential thrill of being resurrected for what had mattered so much at one time, for what was the original intention when she had set out on her life before she got all mixed up, this instead was viewed as proof of her frivolity, of her bias, of her fame-seeking, of her whoring, of her unseriousness. The couple good songs, the simple “Tide Brothers” and “A Mind’s Freedom is Love,” consisting of only a few major chords that were strummed carefreely, these songs were presented by the commenting population as evidence that she was sentimental and bitter and had limited capacity both musically and intellectually and was trying to capitalize on her husband’s dead coattails.

There were a few dissenters to her demonization, on the fringes, or among a few contrarians that posed as the fringe when navigating the mainstream, but even that seemed like a calculated entertainment, like a played-out game of checkers, like a reoccurring dream of a deja vu.

Then Jolene disappeared. She was no longer available to comment when contacted by ugly chauvinist talk-show hosts, nor did she dedicate punctuationless paragraphs defending herself on news blogs, as she had only a month before. She did take a backpack to wherever she went, but left no note of explanation or of suicide, which, according to a woman who grew up on the same cul-de-sac as she did, Jolene used to infrequently ponder about how and if she would. Professor Mumbles, whose tail is as impressive as a cartoon skunk’s, sometimes gazes forlornly out the window of her new home, perhaps trying to piece together clues in order to figure out Jolene’s return and then maybe figure out her own mind’s self in this ridiculous world, her tail methodically slapping the window sill with impatience.

 

History: When I moved to the Catskills I was finally able to meditate on what had led me to drown in resentment until I could barely move clearly, on what the costs were in needing acceptance, and the costs for not understanding that power runs deeper than love, the mind deeper than logic, insecurity deeper than affection, words deeper than meaning, but that’s what got me here, a really fucking big misunderstanding of love and partnership and selflessness and most of all, a misunderstanding in the uncommonness of sense. As everyone now knows,  before all this I liked to sing about the sky and dirty fingernails and the endless possibilities of peace if we all could just reach a higher understanding, and people would dance by beautifully swaying and it would be okay by me if that had gone on forever.

Then I met my third love, Donnie, who was my travel companion to Canada and Mexico and to our anti-conformist and experience-seeking corners in our own brains. These adventures were supposed to release us from the confinement of consumerism and prejudice and violence but re-understanding gender didn’t factor in like I had mistakenly assumed, the assumption being that if you challenge the way the government worked and your parents worked and religion and politics worked and how power worked and everything you ever knew or wore worked, wouldn’t challenging the oldest and most persistent prejudice be a part of that?

I turned into a shadow that disappeared when the light did, and Donnie turned always dark, became weird, and then he died and I went through his things, his brown corduroys and rumpled collar shirts and his drawer of duct tape and batteries of all sizes and his unused falconry glove and newspaper clippings of underage criminals on death row: a room full of myths. I learned what my heart knew but couldn’t prove, that he was a liar and a coward and an idiot, and my discomfort with my ever-developing self-doubt was warranted, that in my solitary trips through my own consciousness (that Donnie had started to discourage because he said the drugs made me cloudy and blotchy and I slept too much), was an effort to make sense of intuition, to put together the puzzle of irrationality as I knew it versus how it was presented to me. I was searching for an articulation of the bullshit.

The other day I ventured to the center of the earth of my mind and Eleanor Roosevelt’s face bobbled along on a popsicle stick and she pleaded, “Put me on the cover of Vanity Fair!” and she smiled at me like she knew exactly what we needed. I lay down on my back and contemplated her frumpy mystery and also the tragedy of an ideal childhood and the perfection of lemonade. The full moon pulsated as if it was the galaxy’s heart and for those few moments I was free of futility, then filled with nostalgia for the years with silly Donnie and when I provided a soundtrack for our days and when we thought we were so close to solving life.

I want to tell you these truths that I know I know, the one about my husband as cruel idiot, as light-hearted friend, and what I was before all this and him and what we both could have been. The truth is I wrote songs because I couldn’t take it anymore and I stopped writing because I couldn’t take it. I retreated into my own self-consciously newly self-conscious mind and the abyss began to stare back at Donnie and he flattened beneath society’s expectations to not be completely incompetent, well I don’t mean that he was completely, but a little totally incompetent, this was his own mind losing track of itself,  its self. We loved each other and then he got wrong.

My brain is shedding resentment and my heart is full of logic and I know that my time is winding down and it’s up to you to further the fight for brainfulness without letting the inevitable bitterness show too much or else it will be used to prove you wrong instead of seen as a demonstration of repeated unending frustration. So take up the arms and the sword and the combat rocks and the cause and when the nonsense sharpens itself to the point of oppressive precision, be careful that the knife misses you by inches as you take off.

Jane Liddle is a reader and writer living in Brooklyn. Her website is www.walnutcabin.tumblr.com. Her alter-ego Daisy Lastings writes wine reviews at www.winejourneying.tumblr.com.