Thursday, October 21, 2010

In and Out

I just got out of jail. I only did 24 hours, but for about 18 months I thought I had to do 90 days. The difference between doing one day in jail and doing 90 days in jail is more than a factor of 90. The disruption to my life for doing one day is almost non-existent.

While I was in there, just about to be released, I felt a sense of ease overcome me. I had been tense, since they did not give me my medications, and I didn't know really when I would be released. But when I was being processed for discharge I felt moments of relief. I asked a young man in a blue jumpsuit what the blue meant. He said it meant he was out of quarantine. I wore an orange jumpsuit, which meant I was in quarantine. I said I thought it meant he was a "trustee" or something. He said, "Hell, no. I'm a convict, not an inmate."

It was a statement of identity, like Korzybski talks about. There were no prepositions. There was no movement in the concepts or nouns. He is one thing, and is not its opposite. He outlined his worldview in six words. He was a convict <------ not an -------> inmate. They are mutually exclusive and oppositional identities.

But this blog is about prepositions, not identities. (Prepositions <------ not ------> identities)

I was IN jail. Not OUT of jail. What made me IN jail and not OUT of the "outside"? Well, for one thing, the outside is bigger. When we go outside, we're in the same outside as people in China. So why are we not INSIDE the atmosphere of the planet? Perspective. We don't have a post-planetside perspective as yet. Our language assumes a planetside worldview. (Outside = "out" <-----> Inside = "in") That may change when space travel becomes more common.

There's something else about jail. It's more "in" than most places. It has bars and locked gates and doors, creating a greater "in-ness" than in most "in" places. It is highly regimented and controlled. The CO's are mean and paternalistic. In most people, the in-ness of jail creates a world of separation, but in the institutionalized, it creates a sense of identity, belonging, security, that they do not have outside. When no one cares for you, belonging through incarceration fulfills a need.

He was a convict, not an autonomous human being.