A NAME, AN IDENTITY, AND A CHOICE YOU NEVER HAD
The search for psychological freedom
An intellectual challenge and Part of chapter 1 of Book 1, which is a transcription of audio recordings sent to me by my friend Maddox Vargas for the purpose of this book project. A story about change and the search for mental stability and what Maddox calls psychic emancipation.
“I read a while back that there is a part of the human brain that was believed to handle reactions to rewards or recompense. The Nucleus Accumbens was once thought to do this, but it [actually] processes the anticipation of reward or the gratification you experience before getting paid, before winning or scoring a big hit. I have not looked for verification of this though it could be the reason that telling [too many] others about a plan and receiving positive feedback (celebration) makes it less likely that you will follow through with the plan. Dopamine spikes resulting from being celebrated by your peers give you an undeserved sense of accomplishment that makes you, in turn, feel like you have completed more than you have.
I have been guilty of this many times in the past: telling people about grandiose plans that never happened – making people lose confidence in me. One example that comes to mind is a business venture with a North American technology conglomerate that promised to generate seven figures for me. It was approved by all [partners] involved, and I spent several months planning it and telling people about it… planning and talking. I received so much praise from those I spoke to about it and that praise gave me such a rush that I forgot the need for execution. I was late delivering what the business needed, so they found someone else. I don’t blame them. I have left people behind for much less significant reasons recently.
In my later years, I have used this principle to have certain people perceive me how I needed them to view me. I purposely talk about projects that will not be completed, so they see me as unreliable.
A deliberate attempt at becoming that one person [who] they would not suspect of doing what I have done.
I understand it seems counterintuitive, especially in the context of becoming a master criminal respected in the underworld, but as I have said several times: some decisions must be strategic. [And] it only makes sense if you think about it in terms of plausible deniability. People can’t accuse you of what they don’t believe you would or could do. This has all been directed towards becoming someone else, who I really was or who I needed to be to protect my vulnerabilities; to have none. If I’m honest, it has [also] been directed towards hiding part of my identity from people I could not have seeing me as my true self without suffering.
Self… now, that is a fickle concept, gratuitous in its possible interpretations. I apologise for using it so carelessly.
I never truly felt that there was, or that I had a ‘self’. The idea (and a reoccurring point of argument with Peyton) that there is a permanent essence to what we are is as ridiculous to me as thinking that free-will is something humans can observe properly (oddly enough a point of agreement between Peyton and me).
I think people entertain these notions out of self-indulgent stupidity. It makes them feel like they understand each other or like they are somehow connected at a deeper level than mere necessity. They all want to be needed but hate being dependent. I have to accept that the latter is also undesirable to me most of the time.
People are in love with the idea that they know what’s happening around them; this is why they humour such notions as freedom or altruism as virtues. Did you know, for example, that your name directly affects your development? The name you are assigned and the first label imposed upon you determines what you become. Let that thought sit with you for an instant, and tell yourself again that you are free to set the parameters of your life.
That was my first step to psychic emancipation, and perhaps the most important one I have taken yet. Changing my name was not only about hiding (though it has served that intention well) or vanity, no, it was about truly becoming a different thing than what I was told I had to be.
I know it’s not easy to accept these concepts I offer you here. But let’s go with a short and powerful thought experiment: You have so far understood that I am speaking into a recording device, an old one; I have mentioned that the tapes I produce for the author are analogue… You have likely developed a voice in your head, you have designed a look for me and all to conceptualise a character to which you can attach the feelings my stories elicit in you. Some of you have made me to be strong, good looking: a hero. Others have seen me (in their minds) as a villain, ugly and unapproachable. Still and this is the critical part of the experiment: all of you have seen me as a man! And not by my prompting, but because of the social conditioning you have been subjected to. I have given you no indication of my gender or any other biological condition; I challenge you to find one.
Please understand that this challenge is not intended as a political statement; rather, it is to help look honestly at how you perceive the world – how you see yourself and the people with whom you share the world. It is intended to make you question your free-will and the effects of social conditioning on your perception.
The way you imagined me should make you question the level of freedom you enjoy. Can you, as the picture of me, and as my voice changes in your head again, begin to question your own biases? Can a woman accomplish what I have? More importantly, it is perfectly okay to question who or what you [really] are.
This may help some of you rewrite your scripts; it may help you by giving you a glimpse of a choice you never had. By giving you the choice to become what you want to be.
Let’s continue writing…
I will not chastise you too much about your misperceptions, or even your bigotry; I believe you can do that to yourself now.”
There is a brief interruption by what sounds like an urgent phone call. Maddox returns to the recorder frustrated or unsettled, with a rushed voice.
“Perception is almost everything. Know that, were you to procure one of these tapes, even my voice would be masked, not because Peyton doesn’t know my voice – he knows me intimately – but if someone else acquired them before he can destroy them, someone who wishes to change their script with credit for my demise, they would not have anything leading them back to me.
The strategy is as important as execution; the plan is vital to the outcome. I wonder what Brookins Silver will say when he finds out that I…”
Here the recording stops abruptly. It was the last of the latest parcel I retrieved from one of our pick up points. Contact is not due for four more days.