Lardy, my fingers actually feel out of shape for this. It’s been a few days Internet, and I missed you the way this guy misses his dog.
I have some thoughts about my favorite vice. Recently, I overdosed on caffeine to the tune of about 800-900 mg, which doesn’t seem like much except that it was combined with a tough lifting session, a sleepless night, and dehydration. I also wasn’t able to keep food down for two days. Also, weird note: I pooped a lot. Usually, I poop 2-3 times per day. Caffeine, diuretic delight, upped that to 5 times (!) of which all were fairly large and solid except for the last, which was merely large. (Hey everybody, ask me about my colon cleansing diet!) But the two vomiting sessions were more alarming.
As I knelt before the porcelain god and proffered the fruits of my harvest (six times, yea, even seven times), I was reminded of the maxim that “it’s not a problem until it’s a problem”. Hat tip Athol Kay, I think. Inspired by this revelation and the comments of a couple of concerned folks, I decided to give up caffeine for a while and then re-examine my praxis. It’s been almost two weeks now, so I’d say my brain is close enough to its new equilibrium to submit a field report.
The first few days were actually pretty easy, thanks to all the throwing up and diligent rehydration and such. Felt more like recovering from a flu than detox, and anyway my empty stomach was heavy with that useful sort of regret which lingers from “rock bottom” events. As is typical for my periodic detox sessions (of which this was merely a prolonged version), I averaged 12 hours of sleep per night instead of my usual 9-10 hours (above average, but I’ve tried less and I deteriorate in about 6 weeks). I was otherwise a zombie- work, sleep, work, sleep- who ate a fairly healthy diet and drank more than a gallon of water per day. In a week, my sleep was back down to 10 hours.
Psychologically speaking, there was one negative point of supraliminal significance and one positive point.
Over time, I had forgotten how much I rely upon caffeine as an antidepressant, and how depressed I am in my ordinary state. My caffeine headache eventually gave way to what I call “the dull, persistent headache of despair” (D&D syntax), which is an eventual consequence of the dopamine starvation which is an eventual consequence of what may be euphemistically called a misspent adulthood. Wow, what a sentence! I’m leaving it as a warning to future archeolinguists who shall, one day, study the decline of our civilization.
Depression gave rise to the usual effects, so I’ll just point you elsewhere. But the most interesting effect of caffeine is to change one’s attitude from an energy scarcity mentality to an energy abundance mentality. That is, it blocks adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that tells you to chill the fuck out.
(Pedantic aside: coffee is not a stimulant, and the experts who tell you it is are all retards. If a chemical is blocking a depressant, that makes it an antidepressant. This is true both by definition and in keeping with the pattern of classifying other depressant inhibitors as antidepressants: SSRIs, SNRIs, etc.)
An energy abundance mentality combined with either ingenopathy or altruism or both becomes very pathological in the modern social environment. For illustration, it is not uncommon for complete strangers to impose upon me to troubleshoot their computers and electronics. They don’t even ask, they just see my face and their subconscious, neurotypical phrenology function prints
face of 'nice guy who fixes my computer with his magic'. useful slave subtype. recommend entitled(friendly) behavior. Phrenology is legit, so dysphemistic representation aside I usually enjoy helping people. But you can see how this can become pathological, particularly in the workplace.
Because caffeine encourages “splitting”, there were quite a few interesting effects that I’ll comment upon when I repost and expand my analysis of the phenomenon later today.
The primary positive effect of detox was to sharply decrease my associative horizon, which had the secondary effect of appearing to increase my conscientiousness. Now, this may sound like a bad thing to some of you (podrag once said I seem to have a negative relationship with my creativity), so I will explain.
I was, once upon a time, more or less a functional adult (if perhaps eccentric). My conscientiousness was never great, as indicated by the contrast between my 99th percentile intelligence and my 85th-to-93rd percentile scholastic “achievement” tests (SAT, ACT, Officer Qualifying Test; my grades were alphabet soup from high school onward), but it wasn’t half bad either. I turned in most homework and administrative forms, and usually wasn’t late. Pretty normal stuff.
But even more than all that disillusionment/negative affect, major recurring depression and ADHD-Inattentive garbage, my most dysfunctional personality feature showed up when I turned twenty. I have previously described this as “all of a sudden I started having a lot of ideas”. This description is apt enough that people with the same problem can instantly identify with it (as in “Yeah, I remember that happened when I was about 22…”).
According to Paul Cooijiman’s defunct-but-still-useful equation, a person with a given intelligence g will have a corresponding range of useful conscientiousness and associative horizon:
I imagine that for each intelligence level there is a certain minimum and and a certain maximum amount of conscientiousness, and a certain minimum and and a certain maximum amount of associative horizon, above and below which there is no creativity. Both of the aspects have to be within these limits, and there may be a single optimum between those limits that is required for genius. The limits and optimum as it were shift upward with intelligence, are relative to intelligence. Mathematically it might best be something like:
G = g – √( (c – c_g)^2 + (ah – ah_g)^2 )
wherein G is creativity, g is intelligence (in the sense of the general factor in mental ability), and cg and ahg are the optimum levels of conscientiousness and associative horizon at the given g level (that is, the levels beyond which debilitating levels of neurosis and psychosis occur). G is thus expressed on the same scale as g, and c and ah use the units of that scale.
The problems with high AH are manifold, and I think it is a primary cause in the destructive, spiralling crash-and-burn event that is so stereotypical for TTs in universities. I’m close to being able to describe this comprehensively, but it will have to wait for another day.
Most importantly, AH is compulsive, altruistic, and typically irrelevant to the genius’ well-being. The compulsive aspect derives, I think, from the release of dopamine that accompanies the sublime joy of creation. Dopamine can be pathological when it is not specifically associated with healthy self-improvement unless a person has already attained a good station in life and enjoys a practical abundance of resources. Depressed people are therefore at higher risk, due to the more radical change in biological reward. Because few dopamine events compare with the ecstasy of writing a song or intuitively solving a difficult intellectual problem, creativity becomes an addiction rather than self-actualization, and supplants the lower tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy.
The problem with an incommensurate increase in AH is that there are suddenly too many ideas (both good ones and the sort I have :-P) intruding on the conscious mind and not enough compensating time or intelligence to deal with them all. It is very distracting and becomes overwhelming if one has no creative outlets, or not enough of them. The more disproportionate a person’s AH is from their IQ and conscientiousness, the more dysfunctional they become as AH supplants consistency and other ability-fostering traits.
Without caffeine, I was predisposed to my more natural, generally depressed mentality of energy scarcity. Though I was a sleep-work-sleep-work zombie, I was a productive zombie of a sort because I wasn’t constantly assaulted by ideas and mostly lacked the compulsion to contribute words to my blog, Skype, or the NH. I was just tired, unhappy, and fulfilling my duties (relatively) faithfully. Whenever I had spare time, the thought of doing laundry and paying my bills was more enticing because blogging felt like an impractical waste of energy. Though usually I’d just watch twenty minutes of TV and then turn in early. My ingrained maintenance habits mostly stuck, so I was eating well and taking showers like a motherfucking adult.
Aside: Curiously, Glenn has noted that we tend to overestimate the intelligence of high-AH people and underestimate the intelligence of low-AH people. Furthermore, I’ve noticed that thals naturally form their hierarchies according to intelligence and genius (as opposed to charisma or practical achievement). I suspect that this is due to the conscious practice of IQ eugenics by neanderthal matriarchs, so that high-AH is a sort of parasitic strategy of appearing more intelligent in order to be assigned high-quality women. Combining these observations with the energy abundance mentality characteristic of caffeine usage produces an interesting confirmation of neanderthal-aspie theory. We see that the first cave paintings and other sorts of “undirected creativity” appear toward the end of the ice age, when macrofauna was abundant and the small-group, altruistic, progressive neanderthals had a lot of free time between occasional group hunts.
This is getting seriously long (even for me), so I’m going to skip my explanation for my caffeine intake plan going forward, and simply state it as a conclusion.
The new philosophy is to combine the much healthier caffeine-free, conscientious lifestyle (and this is specifically better for me, re: conscientiousness project) to create a new baseline effectiveness on workdays. This, because the new “me” is more self-interested, assertive, complainy, less altruistic, lazy, and all sorts of things that are highly adaptive in the modern workforce and milieu. However…I can’t help but notice that by nature I already tend to be creative more in bursts. Combined with two cups of coffee and a day off from work, I can harness this tendency to knock out a week’s worth of stuff (coupla posts, some NH, or maybe a song) in a deepsock marathon and settle back into the holistic bigocc torpor on workdays.
This seems like a pretty good balance for my current situation. Keep in mind I still think my task in life is to understand and eventually help the marginalized geniuses of the world. General insights like this are an essential part of the grand strategy, which is mostly unstructured by design.
Two cups is an educated guess at a caffeine volume that will get me going without re-habituating myself. I would recommend this plan (zero caffeine on workdays, 200mg on weekends) as a starting point for other weirdos with the same particular problem of high AH, middling IQ, and low conscientiousness.