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Meanwhile, Back at the Website
In case you’ve missed it, for the last three years I’ve been grinding out a graphic novel based on my comic strip Subconscious Comics. Now the writing, the drawing, the coloring, and the building of a Kickstarter campaign are done. I raised the money I needed to print and publish Head Start. All that’s left now is the nuts and bolts of getting it out to my stalwart backers. Thanks to all of you.

As I return my focus to timeagan.com, I notice that we are reaching another milestone. Over the last two decades, I have been on a path to republishing all one thousand episodes of Subconscious, starting with the strips from 2000 and working backward toward the very first installments from the end of 1980. Two weeks ago, I finally began posting strips from 1981.

After such a long time, I only barely recognize some of these strips. It’s almost as if I’m getting to experience them in the same way others did — just with a 40-year time delay. The drawing style (to my eye) changed a lot over the life of the strip. The Boss looks pretty much the same, but Nemo, the other characters, and the topography of the subconscious have evolved and matured.

Not Nemo’s personality, though, nor any of the other characters’. I am proud to say that they have remained consistent in that way. Nemo is still as calm, centered — and detached — as he ever was. The Boss is still a tangle of complexes and neuroses. Ava didn’t arrive until 1985 (so you won’t see her again as postings head backward in time toward that very first episode), but she has brought that same fire ever since she arrived.

I seem to have slipped into a reverie about my comic strip. That wasn’t my intention, really. Still, I am struck by the fact that, in producing the graphic novel, I’ve put those old characters back in the front row of my mind. They re-entered my daily thoughts for the first time in decades.

It appears I am more attached to them than I had realized. Strange. They’re imaginary people, after all. And not even people — creatures of the subconscious. Cartoon creatures of the subconscious. Even so, I will miss them — again — if they go away.
Fearless
As I have confessed here in the past, there has been a dark turn in my personal philosophy. I am not happy about this change; it has compelled me to re-examine my whole approach to dealing with my fellow man.

Let’s just say that I am not as upbeat and forgiving as I was five years ago — about my neighbor, and by logical extension, about myself. Are humans really this stupid? Well. I may have found a way back from this metaphysical precipice.

One of the chief drivers of my internal shift has been the shocking propensity of my species — fully comprehended by me only recently — to buy into conspiracies as a way of explaining the world. I am troubled by this because it is obvious to me that conspiracies are a very poor way to explain anything. They do exist, but to believe that they could account for any large, complicated phenomenon in our world would defy common sense or clear, rational thought at any level. I won’t use the word stupid, but I am definitely thinking it.

Conspiracies are frightening, as well, because large numbers of my fellow humans are making important decisions (including voting) based on these misguided versions of reality. It’s beginning to seriously spook me.

But as I say, I think I have discovered a path to understanding that might preserve my mental health — and even restore my feelings for my fellow humans. The secret is not to focus on the illogic of these conspiracists, or even on their manifest foolishness. The problem here is not with reason at all, but rather with emotion.

I think I knew that all along, but until a few days ago, I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant. I tend to forget, I guess, that emotion doesn’t operate by the same rules as reason. Logic doesn’t apply, or even common sense. It’s all about what these conspiracists are feeling.

In these times of pandemics, global warming, overpopulation, worldwide human misery…okay, that’s enough. You get the picture. Things are scary these days. Changes are coming at us at an alarming clip. People are afraid. And that’s where conspiracies come in. When it starts to get too scary, people are ready for an explanation — any explanation — that makes the fear go away. It doesn’t matter that the explanation is stupid, because stupid is irrelevant.

I think that’s what was blocking me on this. I couldn’t see how an explanation that involved dark forces beyond our control could possibly make anyone feel better. Being at the mercy of something mysterious and all-powerful is terrifying to me. How could that help? It doesn’t make sense.

But I have been missing the point. It doesn’t have to make sense. It only has to make the fear go away. If it can supply an enemy, even an unseen one, then there is room for anger. Conspiracies, I think, allow us to get mad. Which is way more fun than fear. Whatever works, right?

So that’s my new theory… something like that, anyway. I’m still working on it. One thing I do know is that this theory is making me feel better. A little more forgiving, perhaps. Hey, whatever works.

(THE END IS NEAR: you can still click HERE
and back Head First on Kickstarter. Thanks!)

What About Elon?
Your Tesla, it is pretty cool
And your rockets are nice too
But I have still not figured out
What my opinion is of you

The hype says you are Ironman
A real-life Tony Stark
You'll take us all to Mars one day
On your hyper-spacial ark

The part I’m having trouble with
Is believing you’re a saint
Your inventions, they are peachy keen
But Albert Schweitzer, you just ain’t

You are a big egg, that’s for sure
But are you really human?
Is there a yolk inside that shell
Or is it all albumen?

(THE CLOCK IS TICKING: you can still click HERE
and back Head First on Kickstarter. Thanks!)
Having the Last Wordle
I was not yet active on Wordle the day that WATCH sifted through the word-game’s six-guess system. It was, I have heard, a dark day for many wordlers. Countless strings were snapped that day…and in some cases perfection was lost. Forever.

If you are not a Wordle aficionado, I must warn you that it can be addictive. It does not involve the time commitment of a crossword puzzle, or even Sudoku. The average puzzle engagement lasts five minutes start to finish (although today’s took considerably longer — more on that later). But the game calls on a diverse set of resources beyond a mere facility with language. Survival skills come into play, as does the ability to anticipate the actions of people whom you cannot see and have never met. That is to say, reading the thoughts and intentions of the persons who devise the puzzle each day. They are cunning and ruthless.

But the most challenging thing about Wordle is that you come to expect that you will solve it every time you play. And if you don’t, the sting of failure is that much sharper. Unlike a crossword, it is not possible to change an answer. Each 5-letter guess is immutable once it is entered. As with life itself, we must live with our mistakes.

Besides the addiction and the challenge, then, there are psychic effects to contend with. Indeed, if you are not careful, Wordle will lay open your soul like a shucked oyster. I tried to play the game with WATCH as the answer…and failed. Even though it was not a true “live” attempt, I felt the bitter taste of my own unworthiness. Not pleasant, but I think it’s better for me to have known that taste before I experience it in actual combat.

Yes, I am perfect…so far. 44 for 44, but I know that my own dark day will come. In fact, it nearly came this morning with SQUAD. As the minutes ticked by, I could feel the cold fear of my own inadequacy clutching at my throat. The void seemed certain to swallow me up…me and my pathetic ego. I was doomed.

Then, a breakthrough! A panicked, lucky stab…and a wave of pleasure and relief! I would live to see another day of perfection, even though I know it cannot last.

(JUST SO YOU KNOW: you can still click HERE
and back Head First on Kickstarter. Thanks!)
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Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz