Member Questionnaire 1 (ApertureGrille)
What is beauty? What is love?
I see beauty as being found in the intense, sultry gaze of someone who seems somewhat disconnected emotionally. I think I find this to be more appealing on an intellectual level. Angular features and defaulted 'bedroom eyes' are striking to me. I like feminine men, masculine men, body hair, whatever, but the sense of distance and pensiveness really attracts me to them; it's as though they have a mystery to them, something I need to figure out. It's appealing to me to 'learn' someone.

For me love is how i'd feel with someone i'm willing to be physically close to and emotionally vulnerable to. I think in a lot of ways I'm a submissive person in relationships, but I can be clingy to which is a problem for those who aren't as serious about the relationship as I am. I keep my feelings and emotions well guarded and so anyone I'm willing to show them to is someone I trust, and trust is the most important criteria I have for intimacy.
What are your most important values?
I highly value my independence and I strive to understand many things. Typically my concern with independence causes problems during interpersonal interactions, particularly if the person is trying to help me with something that I feel I should be able to understand myself. In turn, I resent myself for being unable to 'do it on my own' and feel underserving of help, while simultaneously resenting the person trying to help me for assuming I can't figure it out on my own. It's a paradoxical thing and I only know how to cope with it by allowing myself to be vulnerable and open with my ignorance on topics, which is difficult sometimes especially if I'm already agitated. I think in some ways my understanding or knowledge is less important to me than my desire for self-sufficiency, as I don't feel as though I'm deserving of some knowledge unless I feel I formed the understanding independently.
Do you have any sort of spiritual/religious beliefs, and why do you hold (or don't) those beliefs in the first place?
In the past, during more turbulent development, I considered myself an atheist and adamently debated others on the validity of their beliefs. If ever I were confronted with a consideration for science being in some aspects a belief system, I would not know what to say and instead scoff and insult the person for thinking facts could be beliefs. In more recent years I have come to the conclusion that science, religion, spirituality, pseudoscience or whatever, are just ways for people to try to find explanations for things they don't understand, and as such the only real truth is what you allow to be true. Presently the idea that science is the end-all be-all of understanding is one i find reprehensible and I have little respect for those who immediately dimiss things such as astrology, psychology, or some other sort of pseudo/soft/non-science as being unable to give satisfactory answers for phenomena.
Opinion on war and militaries? What is power to you?
My stance is that militaries should be much less emphasised than they are in places such as the US (where I live). My political views are in some ways controversial for where I live, and that can cause grief if I fail to exercise diplomacy in conversation. I tend to believe that militaries should be defensive--protecting their citizens on their own soil, as opposed to current policy which seems to be stomping on anyone who could be a potential threat in some farfetched imaginary scenario. I believe military funding is grossly excesive and that the use of funds is in many ways frivolous.

Power to me--at least 'good' power--would be one that has minimal interaction with domestic politics, serving only as a defense against immediate threats from invading militaries. I feel government should serve only to oversee certain domestic policies like taxation. I also believe more taxes should be allocated to education and healthcare. The economic market should only have restrictions on private corporations to prevent monopolies or 'effective' monopolies. Border policies are silly too but I'm not going to get into that at the moment.
What have you had long conversations about? What are your interests? Why?
Conversations I've participated in usually endure if they're focused on impersonal information or generally shared beliefs, such as discussions of technology, politics, and so forth. I'm generally accepting of other beliefs provides they aren't starkly contrasted with my own, however that is a trait in myself I wish to improve. My interests are quite varied, although they are generally framed in the context of technical knowledge or concepts and theories that have many applications, such as electrical engineering, signal processing, circuits, logic, mathematics, computers, philosophy, physics, anatomy, biology, pathology, and so on. I enjoy learning about things that can be applied in many situations, such as anatomical understanding allowing me to explain to a friend or family member the details of a diagnosis or give them insight on things they may struggle with when using computers. I always attempt to frame my explanations in a context and with terminology the person is already familiar with so that I can draw similarities between their understanding and the thing being discussed to help facilitate learning. Learning is one of the most enjoyable things for me and I enjoy sharing my understanding with others.
Interested in health/medicine as a conversation topic? Are you focused on your body?
I have a long standing interest in the human body and the topics of study which surround them. This was fostered in me by introduction to the topics at a young age, as I frequently read anatomical diagrams and pamphlets in doctor office waiting rooms, and I would question everything the doctor performed. I found first aid books and was simultaneously frightened and fascinated by these things inside me that I couldn't immediately observe but that influenced all aspects of life and, most importantly, held the key to death. Pathology is perhaps my most strong interest as far as health and medicine as I have an intense fascination and obsession with the macabre. This probably makes some people uncomfortable around me as I enjoy listening to music which references these things or viewing grotesque imagery--including real photographs. I think I can give the sense of 'edginess' with these things although they're things I genuinely find interesting and I suppose my reasoning may be either misunderstood by others or simply irrelevant.
What do you think of daily chores?
I used to be quite heavy and so I hated house work. Simply walking up a flight of stairs greatly affected me. Recently I've made significant lifestyle changes and as such I greatly enjoy physical tasks. It makes me feel good to contribute, like I'm being helpful to others even if it's as simple as wasting less of their money on food or freeing up their time to relax while I take care of things. I've generally felt like a burden to family and so now that I'm able to perform chores without near-immediate exhaustion I take pride in doing what I can to alleviate their stress.
Books or films you liked? Recently read/watched or otherwise. Examples welcome.
One of my fondest memories is of reading the short story 'Hatchet' by Gary Paulsen. The tale of a boy becoming lost in the wilderness and needing to find out how to survive on his own with nothing but a tool he happened to have with him at the time his airplane crashed really fascinated me. I always feel like I need to prepare for 'survival', and in ways I detest the modern level of slothfulness and luxury. It makes me yearn for days when people had very little and worked hard for it. I always romanticize the idea of the bohemian who just travels place to place with nothing but what they carry on their back; self sufficiency and survival.

For films I'm typically more drawn to:
Crime dramas, such as Goodfellas, New Jack City, Scarface, The Godfather, and American Gangster
War films, such as We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now and many others
Horror/Zombie/Slasher/Goreporn films, such as Day of the Dead, Hostel Part II, Final Destination 2, Re-Animated and Videodrome
Suspense/Thrillers such as Taken, A History of Violence, Red State and Deliverance
Sociopolitcal films such as Falling Down, Network (1976), etc
Artistic films, such as Samsara, Baraka; Musics such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Comedies, such as Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, Pineapple Express
What has made you cry? What has made you smile? Why?
I'm very close to my grandfather, and he's in bad health so anytime I think about it when listening to or watching something emotional I can break down.

Generally I smile if I've had a good social interaction with someone that's facilitated by a comfortable exchange of information. For example: Today I went to a music store and spoke with the workers and people there, and I enjoyed it because everyone was affable and willing to answer my questions.
Where do you feel: at one with the environment/a sense of belonging?
I like nature for its relaxing effects and general sense of peaceful isolation that gives me time to think and reflect on things. Although in many ways such things can be easily recreated with sitting a toilet, toilets typically aren't trees. I enjoy industrial/urban environments for their architecture and angular forms. Overcast days with little shadow and desaturated look, particularly after a rain, is very smoothing. I enjoy sitting on a porch and feeling the cool breeze and daydreaming or introspecting while staring off into the distance. Environments which facilitate contemplation are generally ones I enjoy, which for me entails dim lighting, cool temperatures, and some humidity with flowing air be it wind or a fan.
What have people seen as your weaknesses? What do you dislike about yourself?
People generally criticise my 'intellect', in that they claim I am a know-it-all or that I talk down to them or am condescending. I never really see it this way as I figure myself to be sharing my knowledge with them. I believe that no one is really stupid, they just haven't been made aware of something and if they don't understand it, it just hasn't been put in a way they can comprehend. I think this can make me seem like I'm treating people like they're dumb but I have difficulty gauging a persons understanding before I bring up a topic that hasn't been previously discussed, meaning I'll typically begin with phrases such as "Did you know?", or "I don't know if you know this, but...". I don't intend for this to come off as insulting or that I know better than them, but I know people feel this way and it's a force of habit that I have difficulty correcting.

I feel my biggest weakness is my general inability to understand how people feel about me. I can be a very avoidant and untrusting person if I'm agitated or if I've had a recent encounter with someone whom I was unsuccessful in conversating with. I routinely analyse my behavior and how people react to what I say but this is almost always after the interaction has occurred which no doubt leave me regretting things I did which I know or assume were obvious to them, however I couldn't conceive of my incongruousness at the time of interaction. This leads me into situations where I outright ask people how they feel about me but then that makes me feel as though they think I'm looking for attention or compliments, serving as even more frustration.
What have people seen as your strengths? What do you like about yourself?
Almost everyone I've met in the real world has praised my intellect or knowledge. They always ask if I'm studying to do what they do, or tell me I should study it. I don't really appreciate these kinds of comments though because it makes me feel like I'm being put on a pedastal or drawing attention to myself. It also makes me feel like I'm setting an extreme precedent for expectation in future conversation.

Clasically I'd say I didn't like anything about myself, but from all the things I've accomplished lately I've begun to have confidence in myself. When I'm frustrated I try to recognize my accomplishments and use them as context to trivialize my current insecurities or frustrations, however this can backfire in that if I've built myself up too much after a 'good day', then the tiniest mistake or screw-up will send me into a rage that requires self-isolation.
In what areas of your life would you like help?
I feel I need help mostly in socialising and communicating with others. I've classically shyed away from groups, not because I didn't want to be in one--I desire it very much, but because I always had difficulties understanding the level of (in)formality; what I should or should not say in a certain group. This gets me into situations where I'm either very distant and cold, almost attempting to not show emotional investment, or I become overly gregarious and make a fool out of myself not realising until later that I was being a nuisance. Not really knowing where I fit in the dynamics of groups is an incessant complication for me, and I still have difficulty although I try as hard as I can to be more aware of how others are using body language and their amount of speech in relation to my. I try to use the rule that if another persons responses aren't at least half of mine, then I assume they're uninterested.

It can make me a very jealous and contemptuous person, because if I'm in a group with only one other person I know, then I start to feel like they're ignoring me or abandoning me and so I withdraw further and make it worse. I'll notice how when I say things there are uncomfortable pauses in the conversation, and only then I realize I said something stupid.
Ever feel stuck in a rut? If yes, describe the causes and your reaction to it.
I feel like I'm stuck at a point in life to where I can't make any real progress towards my most important goal, which is being sociable. I've realised that most if not all of my frustration stems from having no intimate relationships. I think the thing I desire most is someone to share myself with, but it feels unattainable given the sort of unlikeable person I am. This just makes me hate myself more, lowers my confidence, and causes me to further distance myself from people, which is the opposite of what I really desire.
What qualities do you most like and dislike in other people? What types do you get along with?
I most enjoy people who are willing to debate topics that we share interest in. A lot of what I learn is from other people, and I routinely question them or even take an offensive or insultory stance towards their view points in an attempt to elicit their true feelings on a topic. Most people absolutely despise this and accuse me of 'wanting to argue'. While yes, this is what I want, the point isn't the argument itself but rather what we learn from eachother. Heated debates where both sides passionately present and defend their stance are somehting I enjoy, particularly because I'm an easily excitable person and any new piece of information I attain I immediately present it to others, often in a highly tangential manner with seemingly no connection between ideas. I consider all information to be linked in some way, that there must be a relation and so I search as deep as I can. I think this can make me pedantic or obtuse and may drive a lot of hostility fealt toward me, but people who understand this or enjoy such conversation are those I enjoy interacting with the most. I love to have 3-4 hour conversations of multiple loosely-related topics with someone whose presense I feel comfortable in. In so many words I feel most comfortable around those I feel are accepting of me.
How do you feel about romance/sex? What qualities do you want in a partner?
I think I'm at a disadvantage because most rituals related to courtship or partnership are ones I view as unnecessary or even harmful. I see love as something that is implicit in my willingness to let myself be vulnerable to them and allow them to be close to me. I never feel like a relationship need be validated in gifts or words. Gifts for the most part are typically given at certain points in time, whereas the intimacy is what I see as the gift. I only appreciate gifts if they're handmade, which I feel is more indicative of emotional commitment, or utilitarian 'gifts', such as clothes or something that can be of practical use. I want someone who's open to different copulatory practices--willing to experiment, and someone who is very vocal in their desires. I enjoy the communication aspect more than the act itself.
If you were to raise a child, what would be your main concerns, what measures would you take, and why?
My main concerns in raising a child would be to instill a sense of dignity, self sufficiency, respect, autonomy, and free-thinking. I don't feel I would be a very strict parent--I'd want my child to be more like a friend, and I want my child to respect others not out of necessity or fear of retribution, but because of understanding and empathy. Despite this I think I'd be an overprotective father, and this would likely cause quarrels especially once they become teenagers and begin their quest for independance, which in a lot of ways might make them resent me for the very thing I too desire. I would want my children to understand that others have minds of their own and there will be disagreements and even fights but try to foster in them the ability to be understanding and forgiving; things even I have difficulty with.

I'd be more of an advisor or counselor rather than a ruler or instructor. I don't enjoy having 'power' or restricting the wills of others. This could foster disrespect if I weren't stern enough or consistent in my interaction with them, but I still have to learn how to distinguish between assertive and agressive.
A friend makes a claim that clashes with your current beliefs. What is your inward and outward reaction?
Assuming I know the person well and it's a stance on a relatively impersonal topic, I'm more apt to consider their beliefs and incorporate them into my own. However if it's more personal in nature and it touches on some insecurity I have, I can be dismissive or even retaliatory in my response. This is something I'm working to improve.
Describe your relationship to society. How do you see people as a whole? What do you consider a prevalent social problem? Name one.
Conceptually I find humanity to be a wonderful thing with many benefits and advancements. In reality, on a personal basis, I have a general disdain for people, however I believe this to be a projection of my own insecurities rather than an inherent fault with others.

I feel like I'm not really integrated into society. I always feel as though I'm on the outside looking in; I can observe and attempt to mimick behavior but others can tell it's not genuine. I feel like people see me as the reclusive intellectual with much squandered potential.

I think the greatest problems with society are the lack of real empathy or understanding, although that sounds selfish. I despise racial, sex, gender, sexuality discrimination and 'clique' warfare. I want people to realize their similarities and not their differences. There is so much potential for society but when I come back to reality I conclude it's not going to end well for all of us, especially not when such animosity is shared by powerful people with explosive devices capable of inflict immense catastrophy and destruction.
How do you choose your friends and how do you behave around them?
I can't say I've ever chosen a friend. In a lot of ways I can't say I have friends or that I'm a friend to anybody else. My lack of understanding in socialising makes me not really aware of how people feel about me and this makes me cautious about calling someone a friend for fear that one day we may be on bad terms.

I guess in my way of thinking, a 'friend' is someone that I've spent enough time talking to that we've become accepting of eachothers idiosyncracies and views on the world. I'm only really capable of such interpersonal relationships if they're mediated by some common interest, like math, computers, music, and so forth.
How do you behave around strangers?
In the past I've been cautious around new faces, although lately I've been much more willing to be open to and accepting of those I meet. I've begun to realize that, since first impressions are everything, being open and affable with people in our first encounter will set a positive precedent for future interaction and further facilitate our good relations.

I believe I can have a tendency in doing so to misjudge the other persons level of involvement, and so afterwards when I start analysing everything I did I start to think "well maybe they weren't that interested and this or that emotion or sentence was superfluous." I'm typically more comfortable around those who are more obvious in their commitment or interest when interacting with me.