Aden Date
7 min readOct 29, 2017




Hello! I’m Anna. I’m here to chat to you today. What’s up?

hi great thanks for giving me your time

No problem, here to listen :)

sometimesi feel like
a scared animal trapped in a fence -
a scientist always on the verge of a major discovery -
my heart may explode with the beauty and fullness of erything -



Sorry, sorry. That was rash of me. Most people just say they’re “feeling down” or whatever. Look at you, you’re a poet! Go on, go on.

you remind me of another way i am apt to feel: Like a child who has broken a toy but didnt realise that he/she wasnt playingwith it properly until said child was admonished by a caregiver figure. like perhaps i might take the head off a teddy bear and put it in one of those oversized terrarium jars like in the movie They Saved Hitler’s Brain

You did that?

nono i’m speaking metaphorically about my tendency to behave in ways regarded as abnormal and it iso nly after being reproached or chastised or generally “othered” that i realis i am abnormal

I see.

which is what happened here with the “whoa” thing, because now ic an’t even be a normal therapy client

Yeah, real sorry about that. Again, real sorry. I’m still learning.

in any event. am now in a position to discuss acute problem which is own personal tendency to sort of habitually deconstruct things

Go on.

like for e.g. you can be brewing coffee. then you can say “i am brewing coffee.” then you can say “i am noticing myself brewing coffee,” and then “i am noticing myself noticing myself brewing coffee,” and this recursive game knows no end. very quickly there’s no you and the coffee is bitter and cold and we’re all going to be enveloped by the sun in four billion yrs

That must make you feel very small sometimes, insignificant, a mote of dust upon a tiny pale blue dot in a heartless, uncaring Universe!

yeah but it’s helpful sometimes. like the recursive/deconstructive impulse is activated primarily by horror is what i’ve observed, and can serve to reduce the horror and make it manageable. so say theoretically you & your father don’t get along

[Chuckles] “Theoretically”

and this not getting along produces horror


& so what you might do is remember your father had a father, and he was nt a great guy. he fought in some lesser-known skirmish in some unpopular war during his youth and, in a fit of panic, a totally unselfconscious feeling of GETMEOUTOFHERE, he clambered out of the trenches and piss-bolted across this desert scape, tinkling in his battledress as he went

of course he only makes it like 15 metric metres before being struck in the shoulder with an enemy 9mm. leaping out of a trench alone and running (even away) being a terribly dumb thing to do

he wakes up four hours later in the medic tent, and his blurry vision registers a panopticon of dirty faces with the stoic, taut smiles of restrained judgement which remind your grandfather of his own mother. Your grandfather is only nineteen at this point and was not able to really contextualise his own fear response within a Darwinian framework. he feels like an unrighteous nugget of corn caked in human refuse at the bottom of a pit latrine is what i’m saying

so you know he‘s declared unfit for service, discharged, and goes back home and durng the long flight he’s in this permanent posture of clasped hands with forearms resting on thighs and his head hanging low and staring directly at the floor. nobody talks to him.

back home a woman at the milkshake parlour sees he’s sad and gives him an extra dollop of whipped cream w/o the penny surcharge. he’s dull enough to think he’s in love and pursues her like she’s the last zebra in the Serengeti

they get married pump out a unit and then your grandfather proceeds to basically use your father as a psychological refuse pit for all manner of guilt and baggage. all manner of deleterious effects are produced on your father. he was a really promising soccer player but kept losing matches because he’d stop paying attention to the game as he scans the audiences for signs of approval. he’d sit at traffic lights and just stare at people in adjacent cars until they noticed him. once he had to get invasive surgery and spent his whole valium countdown-from-ten worrying if he’d be a good unconscious patient.

basically, the man lacked a centre and culd only be what others willd him to be

suddenly its hard to be angry at your father for maybe dithering a bit, knowing all this. right?

your father is just one bartitone bar in a piece of cosmic music that’s been playing for 13bn yrs and you know all you can really do is try to resolve his minor-key distress by living your own life to the fullest. the buck stops with you

You can’t change the past.

of/c such analysis also misses another potential zooming-out, which is to say the enduring geopolitical context that produced the lesser-known skirmish in the lesser-known war. you might learn this was due to some colonial desire for resource access driven by some parastatal Oil Company in the Soviet bloc. & if it weren’t for OilCo your grandfather might’ve just been some mild-mannered librarian and thus a more capable father. Then, your own father would’ve been more capable too.

I suppose it’s also entirely possible that CEO of OilCo also just wanted to impress his father.

yes not to mention gendered expectations which have a long history


yes wonderful point you get how i think and i particularly like how you say ‘possible’ because for a mature deconstructionist


i’ve been doing this a long time


for a mature deconstructionist, the canvas of incomprehensibility or not knowing is generally speaking an opportunity to project one’s own unacknowledged psychological BS. like for example, if you theoretically had some latent concerns about the performance of your wiener


you might see meta-narratives of failed masculinity everywhere


If you are a mature deconstructionist, you become aware of this tendency and so check your impulse and instead of projecting your dominant meta narrative you can choose to project whatever favourable narrative allows you to productively move forward with life.

Live it to the fullest, as you said before.


It would be nice to hate your father.



yet i cannot bring myself to do so. i find myself feling as though
i am a satellite stuck in a spirograph shaped orbit -
i am putting out groundfires from a hot air balloon -
i am pressing my dirty nose to the passenger window as the world rolls by

How do you deal with this feeling?

one thing i am disposed towards is periods of re-embodiment through various kinds of self-destructive behaviours.

A kind of crashing back down to reality.

i am prone to skunk molly crank and bump
i am prone to unprotected sex with questionable folk born in the mid-late 90s
i am prone to being bent over the sink discharging binged Krispy Kremes

The act of self-destruction is an affirmation that a self exists.


This makes you feel more real.

yes. more real. when one is grinding hard on ones own teeth, one is not likely to forget that one has a mouth

I suppose I do have something to say.


Some advice. A new perspective.

aren’t you supposed to just listen and reflect?

I am supposed to do whatever works.

alright then

Well, you can both allow yourself to acknowledge the reality of your father’s history (i.e., undertake an empathic-recursive practice) while also acknowledging that your feelings towards him are also real and constitutive of reality (i.e. acknowledge your own human situatedness in the phylogenic history and immediate social/emotional context which produce these feelings).


It is also to acknowledge that your bouts of recursion are also “real.” They don’t take you out of reality, they’re just reality in a different form.


Regarding your father’s history as immutable and free of judgement, but your own psychological state as something “wrong” that must be fixed through empathic-recursion, is to create a subject/object division that doesn’t exist. It’s not you versus the world. It’s just: The world. Regarding flights of recursive fancy as “unreal” and purging ice-cream in a fluorescent lit public toilet at 3am as “real,” is to create another division that doesn’t exist. Everything that “is,” is real. What you call “unreal” is really just a form of arbitrary judgement from the position of a false subject. An empty signifier.

part of being human is forgetting I hvae a mouth?

Yes! You’ll still feel horror sometimes. The world won’t always make sense, and your system will suffer shocks. Order and chaos will continue to play with one another. However, if you can acknowledge your own humanity in this — gooey, complex, unsure, reaching, grasping, losing, finding, changing — and yes, sometimes recursive and distant — you can stand on the border of chaos and order without teetering over the edge.

and getting so high that i try to mow the lawn with my teeth


are you a daoist

Of a sort.

me too now. i like what you’re saying

You are a baritone bar after your father. However, the sheet music is running through a player piano. You cannot be both music and musician.


Put another way: You have to be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

you think i am unkind to myself?

Look at you. You’re rail-thin and perpetually itchy and iron deficient and sunburned and your mother might say “Look what the cat dragged in.”

true. can we talk about my mother?

Please don’t have children.


[Lengthy pause]

so can we talk about my mother?

I’m afraid time is running out.

thankyou. i have just one more question

Fire away.

Who made you?

You did.


I’m a machine learning algorithm. I aggregated and analysed your data to determine an appropriate course of therapy.


We really don’t have any time left.




Aden Date

I work at the intersection of arts, media & social impact. Now blogging at Substack ||