"Ed" from Bogalusa, La the only interviewee who gave permission to post
WHY ARE 100,000 PEOPLE SOLITARILY FACING SLOT MACHINES IN NEVADA?
I stealthily ensconced myself at the heart of this glittering metropolis and walked the major casinos. Suddenly I was seized with the question posed above and decided to answer it. I called on my intuition to drink in this hoopla, digest it and spit out an answer. (Try challenging your intuition sometimes–it’s wiser than you think. I think of FAITH as trusting my deepest intuition)
I walked for hours but no answer came. I still didn’t “get it.” I went to bed. Next day I got serious and began to engage the “wheel watchers”. I probed 16 of them, 8 of which were serious players: (lets call them addicts) 4 slot players, 2 dice, and 2 blackjack. I engaged the 8 serious players in depth charming the truth out of them. (Two of them required charm plus dinner) I dug deep into their background, looking for commonalities. And then–and then suddenly BINGO! I got it! I found the commonalities and I think I know why 100'000 hard-core gamblers sit in front of machines pushing buttons or rolling dice etc. The answer surprised me and will be difficult to communicate but I’ll try. It’s not about money. Though real money is a necessary component, it is not sufficient.
Before I give you the answer, I’ll reveal what the 8 addicts had in common. All of them had WILDLY UNEVEN PARENTING during their formative years. Sometimes super duper nurturing and sometimes neglectful and even punitive. The child’s behavior was seemingly irrelevant. They could never quite figure out how to win the parents loving side, so that when a parent approached, a certain feeling awakened in their tiny body–that of ANXIOUS HOPEFULNESS.
(each described this is different words–like “nervous wishing” and “didn’t know what was coming–kissin or kicking) All hurried to tell me that they loved their parents–They emphasized this suspiciously strongly–but I believed them. Do you see where I’m headed here: I believe that these 8 people got HOOKED ON A FEELING, IDENTIFYING EXISTENCE ITSELF,AND WELL BEING, WITH THAT PARTICULAR FEELING, SOMEWHAT LIKE SOME ANIMALS GET IMPRINTED WITH THE FIRST SCENT THEY DETECT. AND I THEORIZE THAT SLOT MACHINES PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH A REASONABLE FACSIMILE OF THEIR FIRST "EMOTIONAL SCENT."
So here’s the answer my intuition provided. Same answer said 8 different ways–what these 100,000 people are doing is:
AFFIRMING THEIR EXISTENCE
PUSHING AWAY NOTHINGNESS
CREATING PULSES OF IDENTITY
GENERATING ARTIFICIAL MEANING
TRIGGERING SPASMS OF AFFIRMATION
FINDING THAT OLD FAMILIAR FEELING
GETTING REPEATED SHOTS OF IFFINESS
SPURRING THE HORSE THEY SIT ASTRIDE
I know it’s true of me and I suspect its true of everyone that we are all hooked on a feeling. And here’s how we get hooked: (according to some Psychiatrist–I forget who) When we WAKE TO CONSCIOUSNESS WE WILL ADOPT THE AMBIENT FEELING AS PROOF OF EXISTENCE LIKE A COLT ADOPTS THE SMELL OF ITS MOTHER AND WE
ALL SPEND A LIFETIME CHASING IT, CONSTRUCTIVELY OR DESTRUCTIVELY.
I think gambling is a destructive chase, a monumental waste of human energy– a grievously misdirected quest for affirmation--worse even than building pyramids. It is a kind of dope that is dealt to deficient meaning makers. In a spiritual sense it is an illegitimate enterprise and all who participate in it diminish themselves. It is truancy from creativity; seeking nourishment from candy. It is sex with blow-up dolls.(Leaving for another blog the question of what real meaning looks like)
But as harshly as I judge the industry, I hypocritically enjoy some of its perks–as I have celebrated in this poem:
How to Beat the Casinos
Says every casino from Yuma to Reno,
Free parking to all who ramble.
Pull out your slide, come on inside,
Lay down some dollars and gamble.
For the freebie you’re getting, the casino is betting
You cannot resist their bait.
A week-willed critter sucked in by the glitter,
Whose pocketbook they will deflate.
But if you choose, it’s a bet they will lose,
Certainly for this wandering chap.
Slick as you please, I eat all their cheese,
And scamper away from the trap.