Overindulging in the exhilaration it affords, Jozine becomes addicted to crude freedom, the raw, unrefined stuff of individual independence containing a concentrated overabundance of freedoms-to—in some cases even the freedom to impose on other people’s freedom. Coarse and untempered, this kind of freedom is intoxicating with the sheer intensity of emancipation it renders and toxic with its suppression of empathy. With her, I have tried this liberty-altering substance on a few occasions (in limited extents) and all too rapidly became enthralled in heady moments of utter disinhibition, stunning unrestriction and startlingly amplified agency. My perceptions of causation were transmogrified radically, and exciting possibilities abounded; it was as if I could see and, if desired, act upon a range of choices previously indiscernible—those that had seemed ordinarily hidden in the interstices of readily apparent choices but were suddenly all at once billowing out into the forefront of my awareness. Essentially, my volition was dramatically expanded. The episodes of empowerment were immediately so engrossing and intuitively familiar but retrospectively frightening and completely alien.
Unlike me, Jozine quickly lost any vestige of the fear and inquietude crude freedom initially left her with and rapidly began to crave the substance. She is now all too frequently ingesting it whenever possible, entering that state of unmitigated self-assertibility at least several times a day. If she doesn’t get her fix, withdrawal kicks in with unnerving celerity, and she feels keenly restrained.
“I need more freedom!” Jozine once shrieked with disturbing urgency as we were making our way down a stretch of desert highway. Fortunately, she was not the one driving.
Yuuka pulled over, and Jozine dashed out of the hovercraft, fumbling with the contents of her bag as it hung by one of its two straps on her right shoulder.
Knowing that proximity to Jozine in that mode of self-sanctioned em- powerment could be of severe detriment to us, Yuuka and I kept our distance as she partook of crude freedom.
“She needs more help than we’re giving her,” Yuuka said to me, deeply concerned and somber.
“I know,” I said, nodding, sadly aware that efforts to dissuade her from continued consumption had failed dismally.
She is careful to satisfy her achings for expanded liberty in places where its consequences (those of her ensuing intemperate liberation) won’t be inflicted upon others. I have often encountered the aftermath of her crude freedom episodes:
- sundered furniture, bold artwork defying all artistic conventions,
- an answering machine message comprised predominantly of ranted prejudiced mispreconceptions regarding idealists,
- the debris of expended fireworks on her veranda—these pyrotechnics presumably launched as some unfettered fete of unconstricted personal autonomy,
- the emptied fruit basket in Yuuka’s dwelling—its contents devoured sans consideration of Yuuka’s growing and harvesting efforts.
I have only directly endured the effects of crude freedom upon her a few times. My memories of those episodes have a vividness that won’t fade any time soon. Even without closing my eyes, I can all too easily replay those incidents of her
- intolerantly, vociferously criticizing various enviropolitical choices I have made,
- foisting of pudding upon me despite my lack of appetite,
- callously disregarding my angst as she squandered painstakingly accrued philosophical wherewithal,
- attempting to pummel my ego when I was seeking a needed but perhaps, admittedly, undeserved confidence boost.
With increasing frequency, the apprehension that Jozine will overdose on crude freedom unsettles me. She is already skirting the extreme degree of freedom her body and psyche can tolerate during her episodes of supreme emancipation. Often now they end with exhaustion, her physiology and psychology struggling to regain their once-familiar homeostases. I dread that if her now-typical dosage is exceeded, it will be of severe hazard to Jozine and quite probably those around her. Perhaps some explosive fit of excessive autonomy devastatingly, irreparably hurtful in its exercise and aftermath looms.
Despite trepidations of imminent catastrophe, I find myself unable to fathom what a definitively effective course of action would entail. Everything conceivable within my liberty to affect Jozine is insufficient to appreciably alter let alone end her dependency on crude freedom. With reluctance, I consider partaking of a sparing quantity of this substance that has her in its thrall to probe out and pursue a solution. No viable alternatives present themselves. Imposing on her liberty seems an inevitable prerequisite to satisfactorily dealing with the problem, and there is likely no other way to extend my volition to impinge upon her liberty. Large doses of refined freedom won’t expand my liberty much since it is assimilated slowly, resulting in liberation moderated by empathy. From my scant experiences with the stuff, I estimate the amount of crude freedom I’ll need won’t be much, just enough to encroach slightly on her liberty.
That amount won’t be hard to obtain. As a member of the local civil society co-op, I’m a semi-regular at the local freedom mill, so I can probably just scrape some crude residue off the spout that feeds into the distillation tank before it gets cleaned in the evening.
To be continued in parts 5 – 7