The Chicago Code

Is the risk worth taking?

The Chicago Code is a cop drama which made  thirteen episodes in 2010, now being shown on Pick TV, the Murdoch channel freely available in the UK. Misnamed Pick is filled with worthless, £1000 an hour “reality TV” but is worth checking occasionally, for things like “Spartacus” (Thud! Splat! Phwoar! Ew!) and the surpisingly watchable Stargate Universe, which made two full seasons in 2010.

The Chicago Code is Feelgood. The good guys win, always at the end of the episode, and repeatedly, but with the slight edge that the bad guys win sometimes too, for example the successful jury nobbling in episode 10. There is an ongoing story and some soapish elements around certain characters, but each episode has one or two stories which can be followed without previous knowledge of the show, and here the undercover cop is shown early, talking to bad guys and his handler, so that new viewers get the idea.

It goes dark. Darkest moment today, a man is shot in the head, and blood spatters undercover cop’s face.

Fortune moves like the wind, and we see the pretty cop chasing the bad guy. But he is staying ahead, and the shot changes: from a shot in sunlight to one in shade. Will he turn on her? Whoosh, in comes a car with more cops. Snap, snap, snap, new shot, new idea.

Is the risk worth taking? Handler’s brother was an undercover cop, shot by the bad guys. Now, undercover cop is close to the head of the mob. Should he be pulled out? Is the handler’s opinion affected by the death of his brother, years ago? Undercover cop is to be searched, in case he has a “wire”. He has. In this programme, he could not actually die but that is not always obvious.

They take the risk, and it pays off, very well. The story is not over: it is time to move in on the big fish. The episode is over, though. How do I feel now? I have had a strong vicarious emotional workout- elation, amusement, dread, shock flickering around my limbic system rapidly in succession. Back to real life. My retreat to my living room is stressful: my thigh muscle has started to twitch, near the knee. This is better than the facial tics I have had in the past. Ah. I am stressed. Notice that. And now, at the end of the episode, I feel- a downer. I want another.

I believe my retreat is useful, that I am gaining self-acceptance and self-awareness, and recovering from internalised self-hatred and past hurts. I pass the time, not just with Contemplation. I know my addiction to Solitaire is harmful: 1300 “games” since August, and I do not go to bed, just “playing” again, and I have twice got wired on it, hyper, reacting quickly and not necessarily well, and it makes me sleep poorly. So I have removed the shortcuts to it. I could find it again, but that would take digging, I am not quite sure how.

I am passing the time, as well as healing and contemplating. This telly is addictive, an escape from reality. I need to retreat: that job interview in Bedford last week really upset me, and I did not get the job. I can retreat, I have a little more money to disperse. I think the telly is probably OK: have an experience, react to it, see the reaction, learn- and also pass some time.

Rather than watching another recording, I kneel in my ritual space, and contemplate for a bit. Then I start thinking of blogging it.

Misery Memoir Hillesum was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. Her diary of life in Amsterdam before then has been published. She looked down at a Gestapo officer behind a desk, who was shouting, finding reasons to be angry- “Take your hands out of your pockets!”- and saw what he was doing, saw how he was feeling, felt sympathy for the man even as he shouted. He told her to stop smirking. He saw the anger was not having any effect, needed her fear of him, and mistook sympathy for disrespect.

I heard that programme about her yesterday (17th- inspiring, recommended) and then saw I had a “Like” from onethousandsingledays. I popped over to have a look at her blog.

This first post I saw is arresting. She has a wonderful metaphor, the War, the Bunker, the collapse of the pillars, and some actual experience of abusive relationships to relate. With all the writing people do, on blogs or diaries or unpublished manuscripts, this may be my Holy Grail, writing one could actually get paid for. I can imagine a public buying this as a book, publishers, editors, critics and publicists seeing this and acting as middlemen. It is about Overcoming Adversity, Being Yourself, and Making your way in the World. Universal concerns.

Hers was a “like” which does not “like” my blog at all. It is a tap on the shoulder, saying, come and have a look at me, like Cristian Mihai’s are. I left a comment about Etty Hillesum and her wonderful empathy, saying that I might engage if she came to my blog and commented. She did not publish my comment. This is her excuse for not even replying to most comments. do actually want to write my spiritual autobiography, or a novel showing my wonderful insight into humanity, or something. I veer between imagining that I know nothing of this, of other people, or of myself, and can say nothing interesting, and imagining that I am doing important spiritual work and that I can record it in a worthwhile way.

I do not want to disparage her work. Well, I do, as my post title shows: I resent her success and want to do it down as flashy and shallow, merely communicating pain and a trite response to it whereas I have the Insight to communicate Reality and a deep, spiritual, worthwhile response- but I must resist that temptation, and learn what I can from her. Technical things, like how to develop a metaphor and an idea while bringing in experience, showing different facets of the jewel in an ordered way to communicate knowledge of the whole thing.

The way to achieve anything is patient effort. Unfortunately there are also computer games- Solitaire is mine- which gives a brief illusory hit of false-achievement and so is addictive, and TV through which I can get excitement and intense feeling vicariously.

And- right now, my desires and drives are in conflict, so that I am practically inert. Perhaps “The darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing” but it is not, yet, as far as I can see. If it were, and it were possible, that would be worth communicating in writing.

PS: On “Likes”, Cristian Mihai duly “liked” this post as well, even though I mentioned him rather unflatteringly. This is because he “likes” every post. I have commented on his blog, drawing his attention to the face, and “await moderation”. I think he will refuse my comment, and delete his “like” from this post. He does not want his hypocrisy unmasked.

The Opposite of meditation

“Don’t give up- fall down,” said a Sensei: that is, do not just stop, carry on until you cannot go further. The messenger from Marathon died as he told of victory. I hold back for a number of reasons. My procrastination comes from a desire to hold onto a fantasy of perfection: if I never perform the task, I do not need to compare my actual result to that fantasy. Possibly also I hold back because I do not want to hurt anyone.

Andy has the skill to block my blows. Therefore, I want to let go of my control completely, and try to hit him as hard as I can. What I desire is to put all my effort into that simple aim of hurting him and knocking him out of my way. I imagine that this experience will be good for me.


A man I met, in his late twenties, spent all his time playing video games. He was on the sick, getting £90 a week to live on, and his rent paid. He did not go out. He was very good at it. Recently, I played a hundred games of solitaire in 24 hours, with a poor success rate.

This is the opposite of meditation. Rather than letting my mind go blank and being aware, I block out awareness and concentrate on the screen. I have a little “Oooh” of pleasure each time I turn one of the cards in the spread over. The way I learned was less restricted: unless the stock had a number divisible by three, one could access the whole stock by working through it three times. The restriction on my computer makes it more unlikely to succeed, without increasing the challenge. Actually, I can see little skill in it at all. Unless I set myself to memorising the cards, and so working out what was face down in the spread, I cannot see how I can see more than one move ahead. As I have not learned the necessary memory tricks, the skills to succeed (as far as I can) in this game are trivial. And yet I play it over and over again, missing lunch, late with dinner, and sit up to 1.30 am. When I look at the clock, I despise myself, I must go to bed. Hours are chewed up by this pointless, repetitive, obsessive activity, learning nothing, with far more frustration than pleasure, and all the pleasure over in an instant, a hit and it is gone. I am the laboratory rat who presses a lever rigged up to stimulate the pleasure centres of my brain, rather than a lever to produce food on the other side of the cage, and so starves myself to death.

Oh, I need to meditate! It is common enough, I hear similar complaints from others. I know I need to meditate, yet never get round to it. It  is like cleansing a wound with an alcohol swab: it will do good, I know, and yet in the moment of starting it will be painful, and I put off that moment of starting.

If you know how to make the game properly skillful, please let me know. Though the pictures are pretty: