Tirade – 11 Guidelines To Living Passive Aggressively (part 1)

RIP VIP: Frederick Kobrick (1981-2011) “Let’s Be Nice To Each Other”

Written by Adam Holzrichter.

An atheist gothic chemist once told me this list on how to live a good life was passive aggressive when it was created (about 15 years ago). Let’s see how it holds up to scrutiny today. For 2 years, in my early twenties, I worked at a sensory deprivation tank clinic that was owned and operated by goths, healers, and mystics. It was an esoteric and beautiful time in my life; I once met Diamonda Galas when she came in to float, while on tour in Chicago. She met a lot of demons in that tank. That’s a story for another time, but I’ll mention she was exceptionally proud of me for dropping out of art school when I did.

As I was saying.. the owner (Eric) and I came up with this list of guidelines that may help to make life more bearable for us. Maybe it’s useful to some other people too.

  1. Stay out of volcanos.
  2. Let memories fade.
  3. ?
  4. Keep a careful gait.
  5. Speak from a caring place.
  6. Respect the blue circle.
  7. Half measures avail us not.
  8. There’s always an angle.
  9. Unencumbered success.
  10. There is no power in judgment.
  11. No secrets kept from shadows.

I’ll cover 1-6 in this first installment.

  1. Stay out of volcanos.

We all know what a volcano looks, smells, talks, eats, lives, consumes, and quacks like. It’s a metaphor. I’m mostly referring to social situations, and relationships. Some prefer to call signs of deceit, betrayal, manipulation, machiavellianism, threats of self injury, drug addiction, or histories of violence searing red flags. We see these traits or qualities in business endeavors. Perhaps we know someone has a history of stealing from the company pot. Maybe another person winds up lifting clients from a partner or employer, then undermining their relationship. Maybe we’re just talking about a person who regularly climbs into literal volcanoes and risks their life for the thrill of it, with no regard for the harm he causes his wife and children. If you witness someone doing intentional harm to another person it’s one indicator they might be a volcano, and you ought to disinvest intelligently.

Remember, there’s no power in judgment, but that’s another guideline.

  1. Let memories fade.

I have a few different practices to push aggressive memories out of my way that I have found to be quite imaginative and beautiful (gently pats self on back). It’s my catch all for meditation practice, as well. When I’m going about my business in life and suddenly I have a flash of some person or event which has absolutely traumatized me, or triggered a nervous system reaction of fight or flight I choose to stop and meet that thought in a hallway. This is not too dissimilar to the concept from Doctor Sleep, which I think is a fun movie. I acknowledge their validity, then gently guide them down the hallway to a corresponding door. Some doors look different than others, depending on the level of their threat to my wellbeing. Very occasionally someone or something either goes down into a metal trash shoot with a padlock on it, or behind a bank vault door. Most doors are made of wood. Some are given a window with a view into the direction I’m looking from my seated position in the imaginary meditation room I visualize my own peace from. Eventually the trash shoot and bank vault thoughts jump back out, but I always compassionately guide them back to their demarcated zones.

  1. ?

Here we have an air of mystery, no? I think the question is a universal concept. The mysteries of life are what guide us. Call them whatever you’d like: synchronicity, the universe, God, gods, ancestors, angels. It doesn’t matter what you’re referring to them as. All that matters is that you’re asking questions. Question everything that you don’t know to be true. Question your own motivations. Do you want power or peace? Something between, most likely. Does this person have intentions they aren’t making immediately clear? Do I? I’m asking myself questions often. Are you?

  1. Keep a careful gait.

Previously titled, “Walk carefully”. When I was in high school I used to hang out at the head shop my now brother in law worked at. I would ditch classes, sneak off campus and he would teach me martial arts. We wouldn’t smoke weed at the head shop. He would teach me about philosophy. One day when I was walking out of the shop he said “walk carefully.” It immediately resonated with me, and I felt myself being very conscious of each step I took that day. I don’t know if he knew the weight of his words that day — although he did go on to open and operate his own martial arts gym for many years later on — but I took this to be a very valuable lesson.

The word gait replaced “walk” because it seemed more poetic. I don’t know. I supposed it meant something different to Eric than it did to me, and I went along with it. We were self-described goths and clearly kept people at arms length because that’s what goths do. Gait is a homonym of “gate” so we made it more cryptic this way. I still prefer my original concept, but this is the nature of collaboration. Compromise for the greater good.

So what I’m getting at is keeping a careful gait means to be aware of your surroundings. What endangers you and what preserves your best attributes. Identifying what is a threat and what is an asset to good health. 

  1. Speak from a caring place.

When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, “Let it be.” And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom, “Let it be.”

I don’t care if you think you’re too cool to appreciate anything about The Beatles. I’ve heard several cynical people make sweeping claims about their entire catalog. All of nothing is all bad, except for cynics. Cynics are positively all bad. Yet I still recognize they may be missing out on big part of what allows for them to relate with and recognize significant cultural moments in a big picture way. Try not to take stances where you’re either all in or all out. It’s a dangerous move, but an understandable one. I think you may never know what someone has gone through to wind up in their current state. Take a deep breath and imagine a time you blew up at someone who didn’t know how to take a deep breath. Remember when you didn’t know to take deep breaths? I recognize cynics are probably overly traumatized people who deserve compassion. That doesn’t mean I have to surround myself with them.

One of the most valuable things I wrote down from my time studying with Odd Nerdrum was a quote from him. During a conversation in the studio he said, “Don’t bully people with your knowledge.” That continues to resonate with me, as I see so many people doing it over the past several years. Since then I’ve also literally seen Odd create videos bullying individual painters with his knowledge, but that’s another story for another time.

  1. Respect the blue circle.

This one is a bit of a stretch, but bare with me. We’ll get there eventually.

It’s said that the first color we see when leaving the womb is blue. I choose to believe Eric on this fun factoid. Once we identified that as a theory we came to the conclusion through a series of disorganized thoughts that each person was surrounded by a blue circle. Maybe we saw a medical illustration with a boundary around a person, or maybe it was some absurd Alex Gray painting. We have boundaries tied to our life paths, and they are blue. Moving on.

Now each person has a sort of sphere of influence. To reach into that space, uninvited, and violate their blue circle is an act of aggression… I think this is where the atheist gothic chemist got his idea this list was passive aggressive, but I digress. If you put your hands on someone without asking it’s a violation of their blue circle. This is a no brainer. Code or decode this message however you choose, but we didn’t like it when other people touched our bodies, or infringed on our comfort zones, without consent. I recognize that this is a flawed guideline with my adult brain. I was in my early twenties when we wrote these, and felt I had less control over my life than I wished I had.

To criticize my younger worldview: I can see that in order to enact change, or even forward momentum in the world we need to sometimes urge others into action. This doesn’t mean pushing their physical bodies around, but I’m talking about addressing stupid boundaries around stupid comforts. I have learned that fortune does indeed favor the bold. If you wait your turn it will most definitely be taken for you. There is zero doubt in my mind about that. People are brutal in their indiscretions when they desire something badly enough. Sometimes those indiscretions lead to Heaven on Earth. Sometimes they lead to Hell on Earth. Each situation deserves a unique lens. Blue circle was just damn near canceled, but I think I’ll leave it in. Just in case older Adam comes to a new definition of its meaning. Look at this! I’m older and wiser just in this short moment!

How about this instead: DON’T LITTER HUMANITY. Yes, we’re all imperfect, but clean up after your own damned messes. Just because someone who is surrounded by a blue circle will come along and do it for you doesn’t mean you should be forcing them to.

Read Part 2 (guidelines 7-11)

RIP VIP: Frederick Kobrick (1981-2011) “Freedom Ain’t Free”

Dedicated to Frederick Kobrick (obviously).

I wrote this list of 11 guidelines during the same period when I met Frederick Kobrick. I recall how much I felt absolutely energized by him and Sarah being in my life. The spirit of a free agent was more alive in him than almost anyone I have ever met. It was pathological. I loved Frederick’s mischievous humor and desire to live on his own terms. I think of him very often when I feel like an outsider. He taught me so much in the short time we had together. I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, with the specific intention of making great art together. Not long after my arrival there I was informed he had been killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle. I remained lost in LA for 4 years, until coming back home to pursue my art career in Chicago.

Fred lives on in many people whose lives he somehow deeply influenced to be courageous, despite existing in a society which appeared to be working hard at crushing their fierce interdependence. God, I love that I knew Frederick. He lives on as a symbol of freedom in my mind. His spirit is still very much alive in my forward momentum. H8<3

Me & Fred being a freak show.
Deer Dead Fred

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