One of the weirdest things I've run into in the past year is Brian Molko. He seems, at some basic algorithmic level, to work a lot like I do.

This is a startling thing to realize. I'm not dumb enough to think I'm the very specialest snowflake, unique in human history, but I am aware that most people don't work like I do. I know this because if they did, the world would be much better adapted to me. Most of the people who do work like I do go to some trouble to keep it under wraps. As irritating as it is to deal with some of this shit all by myself, involving other people just makes it more complicated. The main problem is that there is just too much stuff in the world, and sometimes it comes at me too fast, too bright, and right in the fucking face. Most people who want to help think that help involves interacting with me, which is exactly the opposite of what I need in that situation. So covering and deflecting is a survival tactic that both preserves my important relationships and keeps me from going bonkers.

The list of little details that make me think his fundamental difficulty is the same as mine is too long to go through here, but some bits are obvious. I'm willing to bet he doesn't take his sunglasses off in studios for the same reason I don't take mine off on the train -- the world is much more comfortable when it's attenuated, and people are less weirded out when they don't have to notice you noticing all of the other things in the environment. He makes no bones about the fact that doing press and getting attention is incredibly stressful for him, and he considers it the price he has to pay for doing the music/performing part he actually likes. One of his most persistent complaints about being on tour is that he can't just go home at night, do his laundry, and make his own damn dinner.

Seeing it on someone else is almost uncomfortably educational. One of my most aggravating blind spots is that I have no idea how I look to other people. I know how they react to me, but I don't always know what they're reacting to or why, and most people are rubbish at explaining it, even if they take me seriously when I ask. I recognize enough of what he does to wonder about the rest. Is this what I look like when I'm interested in something? I know most of you don't speak French, but you don't have to; you could watch it with the sound off entirely and get the idea. (He's wittering on about music history, both his own and in general, if you're curious.)

If I'm right, then it's also confirmation of some of the other stuff I've guessed about the way brains like mine work. He's lived a very different life than I have, and I still recognize a lot. It's a good thing most of the "fun" drugs don't work right on me, or I'd have taken a fuckton of them. The too-much-ness of everything is innate and not a problem money or success can fix. It's fundamental to this kind of snappy, word-filled genius -- the part that comes off as 'smart' to other people is just me repeating the 10% of detail that comes in and fits together and makes some sort of useful narrative, but the other 90% of data is still there, always, everywhere, and it's overwhelming sometimes. So far as I can tell, his favorite drugs were the ones that made everything pause for a little while, so he could either get a grip on it or quit caring that he didn't have one.

Molko has legitimately cracked up a couple of times. Maybe more than a couple, but at least twice that I know about he's had to walk off the stage and not come back. I don't know if anyone ever used the exact phrase, but the first one was a textbook example of a stress-induced psychotic break. He's talked about it. He could have kept his mouth shut and let everyone assume he had a panic attack or something, but he didn't -- it's clearly not his favorite subject, but he's given enough detail in interviews to make it clear that he was delusional and terrified and if that never happened again it would be far too soon.

I've never been psychotic, but that may have been more dumb luck than anything else. I've certainly been that non-functional. I can't say I enjoyed being in that state and knowing that it made no sense any more than he seems to have enjoyed his version. He's the only person I can recall running across who didn't think that cracking up was a transformative experience, the same way I didn't -- he didn't suddenly become a different person any more than I did, but now we are both people who are well aware of what will happen if we ignore all of the warning bells, which I for one will never ever fucking do again. He talks about it in the sort of register you'd expect from someone who has learned the hard way that it's a bad idea to try to perform through food poisoning: He thought he was okay enough to go on stage, he went on stage, he discovered he was wrong.

I don't know his life, but he sounds very much like a person who has spent most of his time here on Earth doing things the weird way because the "right" way just doesn't work for him. It's fucking exhausting to have to hack your way around everything, but it's more fucking exhausting to spend all of your time trying to hammer square pegs into round holes, so.

One thing I do respect is his absolute refusal to be ashamed of any of this. He's a human, I'm sure he's done stuff he winces at in retrospect, but shame is for choices you consciously made that you regret. The rest of it is just stuff that happens. I talk about all my brain-weird here on purpose, but I'm not risking much; I'm nobody, and I really have nothing to lose by telling stories to strangers on the internet.

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