Dialectical Menialism

Dialectical Menialisms III – Back(lofen) and Forth

CHOICES! Keanu Reeves via Neo asserted that choice can be a form of oppression when the choices lead us to an undesirable outcome. Indeed, Geddy Lee boldly posited that “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”. And who can forget the words of the bazillion-year-old knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when he cautioned that “you must choose, but choose wisely…” That malevolent Walter Donovan chose poorly and, despite having just taken a drink, very quickly became the most dehydrated human in the history of forever. I, myself, have discussed the perils of being stuck between two choices in my critically acclaimed series “Dialectical Menialism” (found HERE and HERE). Since discovering this critical, yet sorely misunderstood facet of existence, I’ve been hypersensitive to any and all choices I’m faced with from the very specific (for example, when battling ninja robots, should I use a sword or nunchucks? Or what color sweetener packet should I use at Panera to sweeten my dark roast?), to the very broad (for example, “yes” or “no”? And the proverbial “up” or “down”).

It is concerning this very quagmire that I blog to you today, dear reader. You see, I’m part machine (more info HERE). Put briefly, I’ve a medicine pump in my abdomen delivering a constant supply of liquid baclofen to my spine, thus bypassing the stomach, the blood brain barrier, and so on. The “up and down” comes from the dosage – too high= lethargic zombie mode, too low= hypertonic spazz mode. I’ve crunched some numbers that I just made up and labored to produce some graphs to represent this conundrum.

Staggering data that affirms the supposition that more baclofen leads to a more sleepy, yet less spastic Jarrett. Conversely, less baclofen is associated with an increase in both wakefulness and muscle tension – diabolical!
Respondent were asked “would you say that higher doses of liquid baclofen result in elevated wakefulness?” If the respondent wasn’t already asleep, the answer was a very groggy “no” for ALL RESPONDENT! The chance of all or nothing is statistically remote
No surprise here. Respondent answered “yes” when asked “does a higher dose of liquid baclofen result in a decrease in spasmodic muscle behavior?”
This graph shows the (egregious) negative linear relationship between increases in dosage of liquid baclofen and a decrease in wakefulness.
The reciprocal of the “Crushing Fatigue…” graph. This line demonstrates the negatively positive linear relationship between decreased dosages of liquid baclofen and a reduction in the occurrence of NOT experiencing spasticity (what? The line has a positive slope, and one of the answers is a negative…)

These data were collected over the last six years by the Institute of Jarrett Existing and processed and quantified earlier today when I dreamed this up.

A few things to note –

  1. I use “Hypertonicity”, “spasticity” and “muscle tension” interchangeably. There are subtle differences, I know. But for my purposes, they refer to a muscle’s irrational, yet overwhelmingly persistent need to constantly contract (constranctly?)
  2. I forgot what the second one was for the moment…
  3. …Oh yeah, I don’t know that I mentioned the dialectical part of this post in plain terms. You see, with this pump I’m stuck between a state of soothed fatigue and wakeful muscle spasms. Where’s the balance? Hmmmm…I’m starting to think there isn’t one, but I have to choose, but I must choose wisely …if you choose not to decide and that proves to be the wisest choice, have you chosen wisely? Moreover, does choosing not to choose some option confound the design of the machines that control us? I have a machine in me, and I’m tempted to say that it doesn’t control me, but it certainly limits my options. So that’s what Neo was talking about…
  4. There is no spoon.






Dialectical Menialism

Dialectical Menialisms #II: Before and After

We often reckon time in terms of before and/or after some remarkable event. Notable examples include B.C. and A.D., the civil rights act of 1964, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989; and 9/11 of course.

For me, my Being Until Transformative Trauma, or “BUTT”, includes everything from Thanksgiving Day 1980 (birth day) to around May 23rd, 2009.

Twas on or about that day that a lesion in my brainstem began to leak blood like so much pee-pee from a baby’s untrained bladder.

Life with the Awareness Subsequent a Stroke, or “ASS”, began, as I reckon it, on September 3rd, 2009. I’ve started calling September 3rd my “rebirthday”. This is not to say I strode from the hospital after surgery like so much John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever. Surgery on the brain bestows no alleviation of symptoms, rather it visits more trauma upon the already sensitive cogitation apparatus. The significance of this event was not the surgery itself, but rather the decision to have surgery.

Now that I think on it, ASS could also be Awareness Subsequent Surgery. Either way, my BUTT had no idea of the impending ASSery.

Reciprocally, any account I…uh…recount, about my BUTT is anecdotal. That is, my ASS tends to glorify my BUTT because I’ve had my ASS for a long time. Therefore, the time of my BUTT has been elevated to the level of golden age, when it may not have been so great. That’s the thing, I try to get my ASS in gear, but my BUTT always gets in the way. In a manner of speaking, my BUTT is a pain in my ASS.

I tell you what though, I recently read Laura Bruno’s BLOG, whose compelling argument for the improvement of life after a catastrophic illness has…uh… compelled me to believe that myself. That is, my BUTT believed that I’d continue on much like I had been. Think about that, Internet; my ASS, your ASS, his ASS, her ASS doesn’t have to be the same or worse that the BUTT. This may seem obvious to you, but this has been a revelation to my ASS.

By comparison, I was a lazy BUTT, but my crazy ASS never rests. I think my BUTT would’ve been fine cruising through life as a spectator, but I’ve a joy joy feeling of significance taking shape in my ASS (relax, I’m not about to take a dump).

I speak, again, of a singularity (mentioned, briefly in the last paragraph HERE. Methinks I’ll be using this term often, so allow me to offer a more complete explanation. Quite simply, a singularity, as I employ the term, is when seemingly unrelated objects and/or events come together in such a way that providence seems not only possible, but probable.

The beauty of a singularity is that it both transcends and affirms one’s faith. Christians may give all credit to God, Muslims to Allah, Jedi to the Force, Donald Trump to money and nonsense (or I guess that would be Money and Nonsense (Monsense?) when they’re deified); but the way I see it, a singularity is simply a sign that there are powerful forces all around us.

For example, the (initial) topic of this post is before and after or b & a. These two letters, over the course of the yarn I’ve here spun, have taken on new meaning. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about BUTT and ASS. Does this mean the powerful forces have conspired for me to tell you all about my BUTT and ASS? That question is irrelevant. I believe it to be true and as WI Thomas said, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences”. At this moment that means that I believe powerful forces are aligning behind me, so from my point of view, it’s true. If it’s true, it must also be true that you, dear reader, was meant to read and comment and get off your BUTT, get your ASS in gear (I realize that some of you don’t have an ASS or a BUTT as I use them here, but you know what I mean), and experience the turning of the gears of life.

OK, I’ve put my ASS into this entry. Better quit while I’m ahead.

Dialectical Menialism

Dialectical Menialism #1 – Left vs. Right

Hello Internet!

I recently found myself balancing precariously on but a sliver of rational thought. In the chasm to my right, there was a tool essential to my progress, but I would be forced to use my weak left side. The mire on my left was more easily traversed, but I’d have to go back for the tool.

What feat of daring do was I engaged in, you ask? Surely you were braving the French Alps and came to a narrow path between a sheer precipice and a murky bog, or some other such harrowing errand (harranding?), you boisterously assert.

No no. Nothing so Indiana Jones-like. I was engaged in battle with a stair replicating mechanism. It was diabolical, Internet! I’d take a step, thinking I had bested the confounded contraption (contrountion?) and ascended as far as I could, when with methodical regularity, a new stair appeared in its place. I stared in wonder at this expert of the terraced walking surface. I bestowed the name “Stair Master” on this austere device.

Just as “StairMaster” conspired to produce an endless staircase, my forehead unleashed a torrent of perspiration. Being subject to gravity, my sweat fell onto this machine, giving it a briny glaze peppered with pooled workout juice here and there.

This microcosm of the water cycle produced enough moisture to require the courtesy of a disinfecting wipe-down.

I concluded that “StairMaster” could and would continue the onslaught of steps indefinitely. I ceased my fruitless ascent and fetched a disposable rag bathed in a solution to hastily dispatch any microbes that had taken up residence in the juice of my labors.

I was thrust into the balancing act recounted previously when I returned to the machine. You see, to the right of the machine was my water bottle (the “tool”); but this approach also meant that I’d have to use my left arm to clean the machine, and AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FO’ DAT!

The left approach was not wrought with perils so…uhh…perilous to the neurologically unbalanced, but I’d have to backtrack for my water bottle.

These are the things I think about. You might see the intense focus on my face and think he looks pretty smart; I bet he’s thinking up some solution to social inequality or a better way to dispose of old VHS tapes, or some other high minded notion. Well, dear reader, you’d have given me too much credit. At any given moment, two likely inane, inconsequential concepts are throwing down in an epic battle for a piece of Jarrett’s grey matter.

In this case, the combatants are the left vs. the right. In the future, you might see form vs. function, quantity vs. quality, nature vs. nurture, etc. (vs. and so on).

This is all to say that this will be the first entry in a blog series I call “Dialectical Menialism”, which is a play on Karl Marx’s “dialectical materialism”, or the idea that history propagates because people fight over stuff. “Dialectical” in that most of the time the conflict is between two parties (i.e. good vs. evil, bourgeois vs. the proletariat, aristocracy vs. peasants, cats vs. dogs, Coke vs. Pepsi, and so on).


“Menialism” isn’t actually a word. The roots are menial or “lacking interest or dignity” (thanks be to Merriam and/or Webster), and ism.

Adding ism to a word turns it into “an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief” (thanks be to Webster and/or Merriam. How come Merriam always gets to go first?). Ergo, “menialism” is “an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief [that is] lacking interest or dignity”.

So, “Dialectical Menialism” is a high stakes battle for supreme obscurity (sobscremicy? Obscuracy?) regarding my disposition.

Next time – an examination of my Being Until a Transformative Trauma versus life After a Sinister Sickness. I’ll tell you about my BUTT, then move on to my ASS. I tell ya, the whole thing really stinks! Bwahaha! Have I gone too fart?