This essay is the first of a series based on the suggested writing assignments in Antero Alli’s The Eight-Circuit Brain.
Timothy Leary’s eight-circuit theory maps intelligence and experiential knowledge. Robert Anton Wilson expanded the model and Alli developed it into an exploratory practice. The eight circuits are (C1) physical survival; (C2) emotions and boundaries; (C3) symbolism, speech, and concepts; (C4) friendships and fictive kinship; (C5) pleasure; (C6) intuition and the energetic body; (C7) spirituality and synchronicity; (C8) the void and the astral.
Each of the essays in this series will explore a specific circuit. This particular one is a meditation on C1. Physical survival lives in the first circuit. It’s the anchor that secures us to a collective tangibility via health, employment, and home.
The following story is a description of a real-time event whereby I experienced actual threat to, and fear for the safety of, my physical being, as well as a perceived threat and fear, and how I coped with both.
She left a condom on my doorstep. I slammed the front door and stormed over to my then-boyfriend and threw the contraceptive on the bed. “What the hell is this?”
He laughed and shrugged, wearing a Mac Dre t-shirt. “Maybe it’s your crazy neighbor.”
I phoned her mother and the landlord. I was 28 and irate but wanted to be somewhat mature about a resolution.
She ascended the stairs to her mother’s apartment above mine and shouted at me on the way up. “Nasty bitch!”
She was a minor, so I ignored her and called her mother, again.
My ex went to work at the Chevron gas station two blocks away. Lake Worth Beach and its warm Atlantic Ocean waves only a mile in the opposite direction.
Nightfall came. I locked my car and approached my front door, across the faded shuffle-board path and through the grass. My neighbor and four of her female friends descended the stairs that were kitty-corner from my ground-floor apartment.
“Don’t be talking shit about me to my mom, bitch,” she said as she stomped down the stairs with her acolytes in tow.
“I only told her what you did,” I said in an even voice.
“And I told you to keep my name out your mouth, bitch,” she said.
Her friends swarmed behind me in the courtyard.
“I didn’t talk shit,” I said.
She waddled in front of me. Flexed like a chicken ready to peck. I clasped my hands behind my back because I refused to fight a minor.
Two girls grabbed my arms on either side of me. They tugged me to the ground, I tried to squirm out of their clutches but two more dragged me down. The embittered teen-mom pummeled the back of my head and face ten times in a row. I literally saw stars and sheets of read and black static. A high-pitched ring deafened me.
They let me go. I slumped to the concrete, bloodied and bruised. I gathered my strength and hobbled into my apartment and called the police.
“I just got jumped.”
“Help is on the way.”
Help? That’s laughable.
I texted my ex.
“I’m coming home,” he replied.
I dabbed the blood from my face with peroxide in front of the mirror and recoiled at the rapid swelling.
My ex screamed outside. “No one fucks with my girl.” Glass smashed.
I ran out to him roaring next to her street-parked car and saw the 200-pound concrete weatherstone ashtray urn from the bank across the way lodged through its obliterated windshield.
“What did you do? But the cops are on the way.”
“No one fucks with my girl.”
I retreated back into my one-bedroom apartment and rehearsed what to tell the police.
A cop-knock cacophony increased the ache in my skull. I opened the door to The Man and stepped back outside into the warm Florida night. My psychotic neighbor and her gang of dolts yelled over each other in telling another officer that I had attacked all of them first.
It didn’t matter I was the only one with a swollen face covered in abrasions. They outnumbered me. No witnesses fought on my behalf. They ganged up on me again, this time with the cops on their side.
“I want to press charges,” I told the cop. He leveled with me. “You can’t prove they attacked you, so the charges will go both ways,” he said without a shred of remorse for my plight.
Another cop frisked my ex against the car.
“I had nothing to do with the windshield,” I said and pointed toward the mess of glass. The cop rolled his eyes at me.
I was rendered completely powerless. He was ready to arrest me. He was ready to arrest us all. I had already endured physical violence, and now I was about to contend with the threat of losing my freedom. It didn’t even matter I had chosen to be a pacifist and not engage in the fight. I should’ve hit her back since it didn’t matter that I hadn’t. Anxiety ate through my entire being. Devoured me whole, on the spot, and spit me out. I was going to face jail time because these scumbags jumped me. How is that justice?
The cop convinced me to drop the charges since we’d all go to jail, and I’d have to hire a lawyer to fight the cretins and their bullshit story. My ex agreed to pay for the damages and avoided arrest himself.
My body quaked as I seethed with rage and choked back tears of injustice. My reflex was to snuff the antipathy and scorn so as to avoid further escalation. I could give into the hostility that humidified around us, but I refrained and retired to my apartment instead. Exhausted and deflated from the physical beating and fear of jail.
Once inside, I threw the condom in the trash and laugh-cried at the absurdity I had just endured.
Intention doesn’t mean squat in this world. My attempt to thwart violence backfired. I almost got locked behind bars even though I didn’t participate in the fight. Because we live in a society where s/he who has the biggest mouth and the most minions wins.
NOTE: In practice, C1 Survival is paired with C5 Rapture, which is the circuit-focus of next month’s essay.
This essay originally appeared in Exotic Magazine, October 2017.