"Being an engineer", the mental disorder

Sunday, 03 November, Year 11 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

"Being an engineer" is a specific and complex failure of realizationi with drastic socialization overtones. I won't bore you with the detailed story of how I stumbled upon itii, but I will point out it seems rather unlikely human civilisation can long endure under the collected and ever accreting burden of idiots "being an engineer" all over the damn place.

"Being an engineer" is an affliction of abundance in the absence of traumaiii. It requires three ingredients to manifest : firstly, intermittentiv optionality ; secondly, a lively intelligence ; and finally, a fight-or-flight apparatus inclined towards flight.v

The model development of engineerhood is three pronged. First, the abundance delays (and eventually outright inhibits) the natural emergence of personality (very similarly to how multiple languages being spoken in the environment inhibits speech development in small children). Second, the abundance coupled with the intelligence drive a very elaborately idealised world image. Finally, the weak personality together with the highly idealised world image interact with the avoidant tendency to drive a fundamental, and irreparable rift in the world : the child mentally divides sensata into a smaller subset that's the "true" reality, and a larger subset that's the "false" reality. Inasmuch as the division occurs on purely psychogenic lines, having exactly nothing to do with the world itself, it is then a failure of realisation of the child ; but because so much of contemporary human activity is predicated specifically on selection the rift once opened has no possibility of healing naturally, but on the contrary, it will never again close.

Inasmuch as "being an engineer" children are genuinely afraid of the reality they perceive as false, they tend to outperform their unafflicted peers in adult contexts such as schooling -- but only for just as long as through fortuitous coincidence adult conventional falsehood stays alligned with infantile aleatory "falsehood". So, for instance, the "being an engineer" child will never, absolutely never write down a 3 in answer for a question they know comes out to 8 -- not for aesthetic reasons, nor for rebeliousness, nor for any reason. Ever. They may hate their math teacher because of bad penmanship, which is odd but then again children are odd ; they may refuse to eat apples too small or pasta too cooked, which is uncharacteristically adult, especially in a five year old ; but by and large, inasmuch as they tend to be clean, diligent, do their best etcetera nobody really perceives any reason to complain that their kid's going about with a hole in his head approximately the size of a kid that age.

This tolerance sets the stage for the principal (in the sense of, first and only) conflict in the "being an engineer"'s life. The kid notices that the parents don't actually understand why exactly it was that he hated the teacher, didn't eat the apple, etcetera. This never yields anything, in any case not conscious, but lays dormant in the subconscious mind while, as time goes by and natural development inside meets the systematic forced socialization of human society, the child notices that... the other children, also don't actually understand why exactly anything. Even as he agrees with them, or they agree with him, the distance's there, like a beard hair under your shirt, unmistakable. And so... you see where this is headed, I expect ?

The child sooner or later (but generally before puberty) finds itself forced by events to decide which side of reality other people lay. Other people in general. In the abstract, theoretically, just like that. What, problem ? Whatever problem you might perceive, his feeble personality has little to offer by way of resistence, and soon enough the matter's settled : the others are false -- not because of what they are, mind you, it's not self-contradiction internal to those others that undoes them. The others are false because, you see, because the boy's seen something or the other at some point. Maybe on TV ? In any case, it wasn't like this, and therefore...

This observation drives a 2nd fracture : language in the linguistic sense is relegated to a secondary role. The pre-alphabetic hieroglyphs of the idealized world come back, to take their more or less rightful place as the actual medium of record for the symbolic transactions of the mind ; language itself is relegated to a mere interfacing role, like a prepaid card you have to load with actual money to use, or like those tokens some arcades sell for a quarter. The token's worth a quarter, but only in the arcade ; words have meanings, but not in any sort of permanent way, certainly not so far as to direct activity. Their meaning is limited to its utility, temporary, fugitive. Like fundamentally meaningless incantations any words can in principle be uttered to gain passage through a particularly sticky passageway / windows pop-up / whatever undesired interaction.

This is in any sense a regression, of course, but for complex reasons (that are little more than an elaboration of the previous pass of these -- it neither breaks any skulls nor picks any pockets, thus nobody can be arsed to care) it's a regression that passes unnoticed, and there he is, the "being an engineer" in being, entire and complete. He can feed himself in contemporary worlds (not all of them, but enough of them) by doing very specific kinds of work (for which the affliction is named). He makes a ready upgrade from the narcissist for any borderline sleeve battered enough to seek upgrading. Leaving aside anything worth calling living, the kid's grown into a perfectly normal adult, the pride and glory of modern democracy -- fundamentally satisfied, alienated from any possible statement of his own dissatisfaction in any case (and most unlikely to offend in any way). He can drive, save, and one day retire.

The person is missing all the while -- but then again, who's liable to complain ? And why would they ?!

  1. In psychology and psychiatry, realization is a term of art, denoting the (subjective!) finding of a place for the self in reality. Socialization is a similar concept, denoting the finding of a place for the self among the others.

    These correspond to well established phases in human ontogenesis -- by and large realization is formed by about age five or so (and quite visible, as the child's language passes the Godel threshold), while socialization by about age twelve or thereabouts (also quite visible, but generally in the negative -- take persay the failures implicit in the specific unfolding of that first "love hurts" moment). Retardation (ie, late formation) and dysfunction (failure of formation altogether) are extremely common (and to a certain degree the commonality increases with the complexity of the environment -- by the time Balzac looked at the matter, it was already well known that rural children realize and socialize better and much earlier than urban children) and, owing to the extreme adaptability of the human brain (properly speaking its only biological function) very rarely discovered. In fact, the popular concept of "fate" can be readily restated as the interplay between the fundamental truth that the only random element in anyone's life is the order in which they experience things on one hand, and the collection of retardation and dysfunction that anyone's burdened with. Will you run into the test you can't pass early in your life, or late ? As per literary tradition well established in the Classical period already, dysfunction and retardation are indeed so pervasive that a question to sink anyone's ship is virtually guaranteed to exist -- which is why the Sphynx was supposed to be scary (to the educated sort of classical mind that had much chances of hearing of one), and also why nobody's well advised to make smalltalk with Oracles.

    In any case : outside of actual injury (genetic, anoxic, toxic, mechanic, whatever etiology) to the cerebral substrate, and outside of poorly understood midlife cognitive failure (also called schizophrenia in some sources), the above described developmental dysfunctions are not merely the bread and butter of inquiries into the Satanic nature of our brethren, but the entire cause of variance in human behaviour in the first place. Nor am I making light of the theological situation -- as a factual matter the current "fields of research and inquiry" merely continue work started by the Scholastics, for the needs of the Inquisition (a statal instrument of plebeian well being, almost exactly the period Human Services Department) ; they may be ploughing with the tooling of a new state today, but they're ploughing the same fields among the same old rocks an' shorelines. Nor is it really all that different a state, the catholic - protestant - pantsuit story of decay doesn't come with much in the way of novelty. []

  2. That's what footnotes are for, after all!

    So, immediately after my decision to put an end to years' worth of a supposed partnership which in practice consisted of my attempts to nurture an idiot into adulthood doubled by that idiot's attempts to manipulate those efforts into a semblance of something in between cover and excuse for the perpetuation and even entrenchment of his idiocy -- a decision which, while not exactly premeditated (idiots tend to retcon history a lot, which is what makes this sorta paranthetical necessary) was not exactly impredictable, either -- I felt rather like what escapees of relationships with a certain kind of addictive personality describe : manipulated, for one, not even enraged or anything but very low level miffed, and otherwise immensely relieved.

    Even today, a good week after, I can't begin to tell you what golden relief it is to go read the logs without having thereby to deal with an endless wall of typically idiotic nonsense, a ball of curls each particularly and specifically its own delta away from any possible strand of sanity (of which strands, for good measure, there'd be at least a dozen available each time ; and which curls, to add rage to horror, always stayed the same, like pubic hairs, turn them every which way you wish they'll still be curvy by the same curve). Here, enjoy the experience for yourself : is that a tangent ?


    Would it help if we translate the origin to a different point, perhaps ? What if we delete half the circle, your option, pick which portion of the circle to delete. What if we rotate instead of translate ? There's so many options, pick something, let's talk about it! The upper part of the list of cvasi-solutions that artfully avoid solving the problem is composed of the upper part of the list of...

    The next step after discovering you were being used is... well, in your case it can be anything you want, I'm sure, between going for another spin and going to get drunk, anything whatsoever ; but in the case of men with jobs, and secretaries Jerry! and with dependents and etcetera, the next step after discovering you were being used is two. One if to see how far it went, and the other's to see whether it was intentional.

    Upon reflection (and contrary to initial impulse) it doesn't seem to have actually gone all that far, though the search's ongoing ; and I do not believe it was intentional, certainly not in the usual sense. You may try to argue otherwise, and I will probably hear it out ; but it'll be very difficult to escape the trappings of history : this is the guy with the boat we're talking about here, what intentional ? Phantasmagorical.

    If anything the situation appears to me more like some kinda reverse scamming : like a house cat might pet itself against you while you're doing something else out of its sheer frustrated need to be petted, just so the desperate idiot found me and paid homage, in service, as much as humanly possible, in exchange for my continued certification of his... acceptability, I don't know, state of okaydom. This mask doth fit the mapped terrain quite well, huh! Makes sense of all sort and manner of insanity previously classed incomprehensible, doesn't it ?

    Yet... I have no intention of doing anything like selling indulgences, what the fuck. I'm not in the business of protecting people from their own conscience for pay. In fact, that's as perfect statement as can be had of my disagreement with socialist government : it's not that they kill people ; it's that they use bureaucrats to do it. You wanna kill people, hire some killers ; you wanna paint your house, buy some paint, don't come to me to certify its color for you, what the hell nonsense is this. I am not open to a negotiation of what'd be the minimal quantity of potatoes I would accept in exchange of pronouncing your head free of nits!

    Needless to say as part and parcel of how life goes for men with people about them, I had to explain what the fuck problem I perceive, so activity can meaningfully continue. Because this is what communication is, and how it works and what it's for! Unless you provide meaningful guidance nobody can ever work with you. Irrespective what the fuck else happens, nobody can.

    That explanation happened in public, which is all the better for the needs of this footnote : I can now link it ; and Diana Coman had a very... personal reaction to it, I thought. So then I asked her and as it turns out... indeed, quite personal :

    mp_en_viaje did you go through some divorce or something ? sounds like you're talking from some kinda inside
    diana_coman no, i had (nominally, i suppose, still have) a father; just like that

    mp_en_viaje oh brother.
    diana_coman also an engineer, as it happens ; supposedly good, too ; there's paperwork left somewhere as to what he invented/improved.

    mp_en_viaje so then my portrait came out quite well ? i was speaking naively...
    diana_coman quite well.

    I then colportaged (yes, that's a word) this turn of developments to the harem, wherein...

    "Jesus, I can't imagine what it'd be like to be growing up with one as a father... then again I almost married mine..."
    "You know, someone has to marry them first, for someone to have to grow up with them."

    It turns out that not a single woman I know is as innocent as I am on the topic. Nobody else has to go fishing for them on the Internets, because everyone's been touched in some manner or other quite directly & personally. And, you might realise, as it turns out that, it also turns out this article's absolutely & implacably unavoidable, darn tards shitting the world up with their continued & ongoing nonsense! []

  3. If trauma is present, the "being an engineer" candidate will more likely manifest the anal child instead. []
  4. In the sense of very commonly but not absolutely reliably available. []
  5. Children are born cowards, of course, but anxiety (a defense mechanism, the innate attempt to balance excessively high expectations put forth by the superego against a more modest perceptible world through the appearance of activity) overpowering curiosity (the most fundamental of all innate behaviours in humans) can be seen at any age. In fact this last ingredient could readily be restated in Freudian terms as "superego overdeveloped to the point of the ablation of the ego". The "being an engineer"s aren't egotistical, even if their behaviour may be judged or perceived as such by others. On the contrary : they're selfless. Quite literally. []
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25 Responses

  1. Firstly, thank you for the first footnote. It gives me succinctly what to link. I've been mulling over how to describe environmental complexity's crippling effect on the lifelong Urbanite, based on my growing experience living among the sort. More thanks are in order for this write up on the problem of this age.

    I am uncertain today whether I suffer from the state of 'being an engineer' or not. I have the risk factors, and most of my life I've suffered my way through the being of engineer's principle conflict as stated here. It seems I diverged on the second fracture, still deviating from normal, I ended up throwing my self at 'human language' tasks and going through life with an aversion to putting myself into technical tasks at the level typical sufferers of 'being an engineer' usually make their daily bread. Still, the engineer being in me made the prospect of law school in the common law insanity jurisdiction I was born a non-option for what are now, clearly engineer being reasons.

    Reading this piece and seeing the affliction in myself, a path to 'being an engineer' recovery is an outstanding need in the world. For Engineer Beings and others alike. I am conviced both that alf makes absolute techological gems, and that the process he goes about producing these gems is incompatible with planning, management, world domination, etc. One of these gems will be produced. It will make a great bearing to serve a necessary moving part, but then the planned wunderwaffen which required the particular jeweled bearing gets delayed still further because a suitable mounting substrate has to be developed out of the void. With this lens, it seems clear 'skunkworks' operations are doomed to bankrupt all of their Imperial patrons while presenting that same hazard to their Personal patrons unless some sort of Quimby'ing can be imposed on Engineers. Unless there's path to recovery for engineers, the condition as it is makes responsibly Quimby'ing a skunkworks impossible.

    Between putting on what would be ground into the Qntra lenses, living in a tourist storage facility for the better half of a year, and force eating a new language as an adult (with the important aspect being I had to use the language while being unable to use it like English); I will see what I can put together to adapt a program for recovering engineers.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 3 November 2019

    > I ended up throwing my self at 'human language' tasks

    I think pretty much everyone afflicted has some very nauseating underlying sensation that something's the fuck wrong ; paladin-like approaches to the problem are of course the first tools of the selfless.

    All I'm really saying is that there's no actual harm (unspoken, and unconceptualzied, but eeply felt CONVICTION!!! to the contrary notwitstanding) to discussing the matter ; and consequently nobody's stuck deploying unexamined solutions they came up with while not looking, aged maybe 13.

    > skunkworks impossible.

    Honestly, I don't even think such a thing's desirable. Why must people toil in insanity ?

  3. I really enjoyed the "is it a tangent:" ester egg.

    (˙snıuǝb ʎɹɐɹǝʇıן s,nɔsǝdod ʇɐ ǝןʞɔnɥɔ puɐ pɐǝɹ-ǝɹ ǝʍ uǝɥʇ
    ˙ןɐuoıʇɐɹ ǝɥʇ oʇ ʞɔɐq ןɐuoıʇɐɹɹı ǝɥʇ ǝɔnpǝɹ uɐɔ suoıʇɐɹǝdo ןɐɔıʇǝɯɥʇıɹɐ ou ǝsnɐɔǝq 'ʇuǝbuɐʇ ɐ ʇou sı ǝuıן ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʇ ǝpnןɔuoɔ ǝʍ
    ˙ןɐuoıʇɐɹ sı ǝʌıɟ ʇɐɥʇ ǝʌɹǝsqo ǝʍ
    ˙ןɐuoıʇɐɹɹı sı ıd ʇɐɥʇ ǝʌɹǝsqo ǝʍ)

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 3 November 2019

    You're welcome.

  5. Right. The harm comes from evading discussion and the avoidant retreat to conviction. I do suspect the unexamined solution's adoption occurred, at least if not consciously within +18/-2 months of the age 13 guess. The unexamined solution on its own certainly appears insufficient.

    re: skunkworks'ing - I suppose it can appear desirable for the marketing of its end product. Eventually the conditions that allowed a Manhattan Project or SR-71 seem doomed to decay for the environmental conditions that result from early successes. I suppose in the US case the inflection point where engineering as an activity became over burdened by engineer beings happened somewhere around Apollo 13 +2/-5 years.

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 3 November 2019

    It's just this wankish fantasy, basically rap for a different-same demo.

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  9. [...] rich people spun it, the previous generation. Because they'll be "pure", you see, which fixated assonautism with a side of mental illnessii is by itself (as if through the workings of the grace of an unseen [...]

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  19. [...] by a combination of Wall Street investors wanting to see users over profits and the socialist, being an engineer tendencies of the "CEO" Ira Miller, the management formed some cheap slogan about lowering barriers [...]

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