Friday, August 25, 2017
i hate to admit it but i'm often the victim of self-hypnosis. sometimes this is very useful, as when i have to deal with an authoritarian figure, a cop, or a teacher. i don't realize it in the moment. i am imitating his gestures, falling into the rhythm of his speech. this means i don't get a ticket or i do get a good grade. alas, when i walk away, i feel trapped in the body of that person. like an actor, i've adopted a new identity, which can be very annoying and hard to shake off.
or searching for my true 'self', i've spent years infatuated with a young woman. this started in the fourth grade and only ended a few years ago. at fifty i'd still make a fool of myself worshiping and chasing an angel i created. one was an actress. in fact maybe they all were, knowing how to laugh and motion in such a way, i latched onto the fantasy. each time, once i got close enough, the dream would be staunched by the reality, ie. the personality and solid body in the world.
this was great for writing poetry. i do believe the general rule in passion - everything grows in significance, stones, streets, trees. that's the reason love called a drug, and like drug wears off. this, no question, is a form of self-hypnosis: meditating on the face of the beloved until the vision takes over consciousness. various forms of possession, positive and negative the same.
for example, politics. i'm always amazed by crowd psychology. how circumstances and the skill of an orator can create a movement of nazis. all of this must be an outcome of tribalism. we like the power of identifying with the mob, and i like being protected by anonymity, looking and acting like everyone else, a result of a rigid and dangerous to my safety organizational state. to be kicked out of the group meant dying in the desert.
trance and hypnosis easy to demonstrate. i fall into a trance on a long automobile drive. i go on automatic pilot, not aware of my surroundings. i may be listening to a book on tape, or whirling around and around in my thoughts, standing up to giants or seducing an amazon. luckily, if need be, i can shift into reality on the turn of a wheel. actual physical fear always wakes me.
i'm convinced most of us live in this hypnotized state, not waking up till one foot steps into the grave and we hear the monotonous sermon of the preacher, saying how great we were, and everybody loved us. and unable to remember what actually happened, we like to believe it true. i don't mind even being called an oddball, as i once was lying naked in a grave, dug in a field for a theatrical exercise.
Friday, August 18, 2017
yes, i regret losing all those childhood memories. around 25 they seemed to drop below consciousness, all the details. and why do i miss them? i guess it's the feeling of vitality, impulsiveness, emotion, everything on the surface, no defense against joy and tears. and yet, i hated the vulnerability of being a child. the slightest slight, an offensive gesture, any failure in the classroom or on the sportsfield, tore me apart.
for example, being a bad boy in the fifth grade i got kicked into the sixth. one time, without knowing it, sucking on my ballpoint, i got ink all over my mouth. the teacher sent me out, again as a 'bad' boy, literally the youngest in class at the time. or, to placate me, he made me team captain for a softball game. stupidly, i told a friend i wouldn't let him play if he wasn't nice to me. of course, he ratted on me and i got kicked off the team. i remember watching the game from afar, bawling my heart out.
i've read high school particularly intense, so many negative events imprinting themselves. and supposedly, i can relive those, they being specifically painful. the good times, like kissing a girl on a bridge as a train passed under, or making out on a hayride, those harder to call up. or the time i worked in a dime store, cleaning up, and growing more and more tired of the job until i got fired. why would i want to remember such things?
i'd rather recall making out with a german girl in italy under a sky filled with stars. or riding along the coast of turkey on a white ship and watching the sun drop into the sea. yet, i welcome all memories, even those filled with shame, like being paddled by the principal in front of the whole fifth grade class. or the night of the prom where i dated the queen and when we got back to her place, i was so tongue-tied i could hardly talk.
i presume the desire for all this flotsam and jetsam either has to do with my sense of identity, or the feeling of having lived. probably both. a 83 year old friend going into Alzheimer's said, "I don't want to lose myself." and at the same time the famous druggie Timothy Leary said, "Senility is underrated." and i've heard in china you're blessed if you have a bad memory.
does this all have to do with the rage for mindfulness, living in the present? truly, that is tough to do. i have to be frightened out of my wits, on edge, thrown into the survival mode. at these times every rock gains a clear outline, i leave the trance of thought, of memory, in order to preserve myself. otherwise, as einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." fortunately he didn't live in brain of our present leader, as we all do.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
ah, there you are, dream girl, the tomboys i've always loved. of course, i'm not sure what you mean. when i first encountered real poetry in college (ee cummings, wallace stevens, ts. elliot) i didn't understand what it was all about. for six months i read every book on poetry i could find. the puzzle pulled me in. and it wasn't till i read a book by elizabeth drew (now a washington political writer) did things fall into place:
ALL POETRY IS ABOUT LOVE AND DEATH.
wow, could it be that simple?
my brother would never read my poetry. he said he couldn't understand it. ah, what is there to understand? of course, i too was fooled, thinking i had to know some secret language. what could be simpler than this
that's what all poetry is ultimately about. certainly, it disguises itself as sex and war. in fact i just read a bit of "The Poetry of Sex". a poem by auden about picking up a guy and an extended description of giving and getting a blow-job, specific beyond anything i'd ever read! .after reading more poems in the book i felt free to look at everyone in the coffee shop as a desirinjg, tormented sexual being (i've always agreed with freud, alas) i had a liberated few moments.
that's what poetry can do for me: change my relation to the world. it can make me playful, sad, aroused, amused. somehow reading life in shorthand i re-arrange my way of seeing, feeling, being. i feel sorry for poetry's reputation as un-masculine. too difficult to understand. a short poem can carry the key to events in the world.
Elect a clown,
Expect a circus
my friend Will summed up our time very neatly and i added a thought of my own:
MEMO TO A BORED NATION
"Life in wartime
is more interesting,"
said the old woman.
And now everyone
agrees with her.
sometimes all i need is an image and i can calm down, escaping from my own vision of the world. like all art poetry gives form to the void. it's worth a little effort.