When your homeland becomes a geography of Paranoia

SchlieffenThe Chief of the Imperial German General Staff, Alfred von Schlieffen, was riding his horse with other officers when they came to a beautiful river. The other officers exclaimed at the beauty of the scenery, but von Schlieffen merely remarked out loud that it was ‘an insignificant obstacle’. He was thinking in military terms, and the whole geography around us can be thought of that way – where to defend, where to attack.

I used to go to college in Riverdale, NY, and there was a very tall white apartment building that housed the Soviet diplomats and their visitors. “…the apartment building in Riverdale and the mission all bristled with antennas for listening to American conversations…” (see sources).
If I recall correctly, one of the places my brother and I would jog by was considered as a drop by Russian agents, but they then reported to their superiors that annoying bourgeois activity had prevented them.
I sometimes take a train along the Hudson, get off at Beacon, and go bicycling across the bridge to Newburgh. Nearby are some orchards, and fields, and one was bought by Mafia members to bury their victim’s bodies.
So you get the idea. We look at our landscape one way, but a person who plans an attack, or some other nefarious deed, looks at it another way.
Now how does a paranoid person look at the landscape?
I myself have several characteristics of a paranoid mindset.

1. I believe in a scenario that others find absurd
2. This scenario involved being under constant surveillance, and attacked at intervals.
3. This scenario involves futuristic types of technology
4. I’m an unimportant individual who nobody would waste time in attacking, but I still believe it.
5. I don’t listen to other people’s arguments that I’m insane (I listen, but I remain unconvinced).

So how does this affect my view of my surroundings?
When I go out, I expect to be attacked. But I find it so hard to really grasp, that I forget about it, as I walk the quiet streets toward the river town of Irvington on Hudson, and go to the library near the train station, or walk the aqueduct. I think of all sorts of other things.
And then, what happens?
I get ambushed.
At least, this is what happens in my mind (I believe it corresponds to reality, but you don’t have to agree to get the idea). I come out of the library, lost in thought, and a car passes by and a spray of fog and powdered dust envelops my face. Sometimes there is an odor to it, such as essence of skunk, or a perfume that I’ve seen people from the gay community use. Sometimes there is a smell of “road-kill” or perhaps, to put it more accurately, the smell of death.

If I get on a bus, then it often happens that when I get off at the nearest stop to the road to my home, a car swoops by and sprays me.
If I phone my parents and tell them to pick me up at a particular spot, when I wait for them I may get sprayed.
If I sit in a fast-food restaurant, reading a book, with my mind on other things, I may get sprayed.

I went to a doctor. She gave me an x-ray, and the technician told her that I had “profound demineralization of my bones”. The doctor told me it was very rare. My brother then told me of hormones that can deplete your bone Calcium (e.g. parathyroid abnormalities).
In addition I have developed gastrointestinal problems including bleeding.

cardinalOne day I rode my bike far afield, and a beautiful blue bird – but a very dead bird, was in my path. I continued on, and at the end of the ride, came up toward the long road toward my home and a beautiful red bird – but a very dead bird, was in my path.
This use of dead birds has been a long-standing practice by the “bad guys”, whoever they are, when I go too far afield.

I was riding my bicycle on a slight downhill. A car passed. I drifted gradually out of consciousness, and all of sudden I hit the asphalt – hard. Fortunately, a helpful woman drove me and my bike to the nearest station, and my wounds healed after a month or so. I told family members that I would never bike far afield again.
The next day I started down my hill on foot. There was a big banana peel in my path – a fresh, yellow banana peel, just as colorful as those birds.
Was that a message?
Two days after the accident, I picked up my niece at her elementary school in New York. I took her to a playground just two blocks away. She climbed the monkey bars. A man came behind her, and lifted something. A cloud of dust enveloped her and hit my face. Instantly my niece fell off the bars and hit the ground. She did not land on her feet, as you would expect.

I stay away from the city now, as much as possible. One reason is that the stuff I get sprayed with their causes headaches and general unpleasantness.

So I’m ending up stuck in my ghetto within a small radius of travel. As a person who cycled the Alps, and the Blue Ridge of North Carolina, and the West Coast, and parts of South America, and Scotland, this is quite outrageous.

So that’s my story of geography of paranoia (if it is paranoia).

My idea of temporary safe haven is in a small narrow park next to Silver Lake in White Plains, with the lake behind me and on one side, private property on the third, and a long field of grass stretching to the entrance so that I can sit by the lake and see if anyone comes near and how they act when they do.

In general though, the places people feel safe in the US are contracting. For instance, one of the most dangerous jobs in America is to be a bus driver. Mass transit has become more dangerous for passengers too, and this has happened in places that I remember as having been safe.

Jews still feel safe in NYC. But judging by what went on in a recent Muslim march here, that won’t be for long. In France, there are no-go zones where even the police are afraid to enter, and Jews are leaving en-masse.

It would be nice to return to a mindset where it really would be paranoid to expect an attack.

Sources:
http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/tag/russian-spies/
I can’t find the source on burials near Newburgh, but I did find this: http://articles.philly.com/1993-09-10/news/25987897_1_anthony-tumac-accetturo-crime-family-michael-taccetta

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3 thoughts on “When your homeland becomes a geography of Paranoia

  1. If I lived in America I would probably feel the same. A high level of real and threatened violence runs all through US culture. Maybe it’s because of the survival value of violence on the one hand and paranoia on the other, playing out in the settlers’ genes as they populated the early States. I don’t think the average American realises how disturbing this is to (e.g.) traditional European societies. Add that to newer developments of excessive alcohol and drug usage, gangs, and it becomes a really toxic mixture. And now US culture is spreading among a lot of the youths of other countries… When the Middle Eastern terrorists and fighters started watching Rambo films and trying to model themselves upon the character, despite being nominally opposed to the US, you realise how potent the imagery of violence is.

    1. Carl,
      I can see why Europeans are upset by violence in this country. I remember a news item about a German man and his wife visiting California, and a gang tried to rob them, and the man resisted, so they killed him while his wife shrieked. Later, Germans who heard about it competed with each other telling stories how violent the U.S. is.
      On the other hand, I also heard an interview by Curtis Sliwa, who heads the Guardian Angels here (a volunteer outfit that protects people) of a leader of the German branch of that same organization, and this German was telling him that the bad areas in Germany are at least as dangerous as ours.
      If you take the city of Chicago, then according to Wikipedia, there were 390 murders in 1964 and 931 in 1994.
      And parts of the city have ten times the homicide rate as other parts.
      So its hard to use a historic explanation for these differences.
      Personally, I have encountered many Americans with a lot of “heart”, a willingness to treat people with affection and admiration, no matter what their ethnic or racial origin.
      I have also encountered a frightening type of person, who is more common than people realize. Of course my experiences are suspect, since I’m told I’m insane by people (who still seek my advice on technical matters or respect my opinions on some issues.) But if we assume that I’m not insane, then what I’ve seen is quite interesting. To try and summarize it briefly, there are quite a few people who, while not criminals, do not obey the rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In fact, they don’t obey the rule – “do unto others as they do unto you.” In fact, if put in morally questionable situations, they fail to do the right thing and enthusiastically do the wrong thing.
      It is interesting how leaders in history who themselves cause their people to participate in mass murder, like Mao, who had obvious personality problems, can muster a large following. I think this indicates that a certain proportion of the population is attracted to psychopathic behavior when it is presented as idealism, or justice, or freeing them from some repressive situation.
      America has these kinds of people too.

      1. I agree with your comments, Regarding Mao (and many others) I always recall the crazy fish experiment. The fish tendency to follow all the other fish is apparently seated in a certain part of the brain. When a fish subject was operated on and that part of its brain removed, it acted like a crazy fish, going here and there as it fancied. But now all the other fish followed the crazy fish and took it as their leader…
        As a psychologist in the 80s I was worried that Margaret Thatcher displayed obvious signs of mental abnormality, yet seemed to attract a huge following in the UK.
        Hitler actually planned his crazed speeched in detail, and seemed to most people outside Germany as completely deranged — but he knew his audience better than we did.
        It does worry me that the media, especially in the US, regards violence per se as a powerful selling point in entertainment. The average DVD cover for almost any American film of recent years, seems to delight in images of huge, improbably muscly people, glowering into the camera in the most evil way imaginable, and usually randishing a huge automatic weapon. And these are supposed to be the “good” guys.

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