The headline above has nothing to do with what follows. Or else everything. My truth, your truth, eye of the beholder sort of thing. Lately I keep thinking up bumper stickers appropriate to this medieval town I live in. Boulder, Colorado, redeemed only by its mountains and an aching absence, which, if I think about it (and I do, as you know), I brought here with me before I knew you existed. Any of you. Whether I have since learned that you do is the inchoate object of my ongoing meditations, if invisible often even to myself, then how much more so to you? Within the code a deeper code. "Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-serif" -- what you cannot see shapes the modality of what you do. And who doesn't love a good pun now and then?
I fell asleep last night, as usual these days, behind a combination of coffee, Tylenol PM, and Ativan. I'm trying to kick the meds and it's a bitch, so I'm taking it slow. It seems to be working so far. But then again, how would you know? How would I? I often ask myself what I mean by "working." Is such reflection a sign of returning health, vitality? Or merely reflex? A self-conscious knee-jerk reaction to what we term, for lack of better, existence? I've found that a sense of humor helps in these considerations. Thus the title slug.
Anyway, which I just learned this morning is a significant transitional marker in speech act theory -- I mean the word "anyway" -- I fell asleep watching Bringing Out the Dead after reading Baudrillard's latest on impossible exchange. Jesus Christ. If you said I deserve whatever I've been getting, and richly, for engaging in this sort of behavior, you wouldn't be far off the mark. The mark, the john. Endless web of interdependent co-signifiers. You aim too, please. See what I mean about a sense of humor? Though of course any sense that this might be shared outside the confines of one's own skull -- thus my recent preoccupation with solipsism and autism, the latter an exciting "find" -- presupposes, in this case, that one a) is a man, b) thus urinates in an upright posture, c) at least on occasion undertook this activity in the toilet stalls of redneck bars while hugely intoxicated, and d) could read.
Stand... by... your... man!
Color="#CC0000" -- O Tammy, 'm so glad someone understands. 'Nother scotch over here, bartend! (hock! spit!) 'N whaddya you do, darlin? More'n dance I hope.
Anyway... yes. So those were the approximate circumstances in which I fell last night into a more or less unnatural state of unconsciousness. (How many negatives make a positive, again?) I mean, unconscious in the usual sense. (Try to keep up here, OK?) And I woke dreaming about "discourse networks," which, in the language of the dream equated to a "common" psychological concept with which I had not heretofore associated it: _____. The problem, I found upon waking, was that "_____" is not a word in any language I'm familiar with. This in itself is unremarkable. I remember once waking from a dream laughing. Deep wracking belly laughs too, not just some thin chuckle. Jokes work by twisting our expectations of what's coming next -- our general sense that language is "working." A good joke, like a good sneeze, always takes us by surprise and clears the cognitive sinuses. Orgasm will be covered in a separate section.
The only problem was: I didn't know what I was laughing at.
The previous sentence and its positioning, while arrived at ad hoc and without premeditation, are perhaps not unindicative of the various processes here under consideration. To these necessarily indeterminate psychic dynamics, taken collectively, I have assigned the phrase Synchronicity City.
So I woke up in Synchronicity City, one of the properties of which is that one doesn't always know right away that one has entered it. This was my situation on waking today.
Many years ago, I bought a book called Discourse Networks: 1800 / 1900, and in my dream I knew this, though not quite what to make of it, as I'd never read the book. Or, really, any part of it except the back cover, which was supremely unenlightening as to the contents. Still, I bought it because a) "discourse" has long been a sort of spookily numinous term for me (I sneaked a bunch of references to it into The Cluetrain Manifesto as you may or may not recall; probably, I'm guessing, not), and b) I am a book junkie. I suspect books contain explanations of, or at least some measure of insight into, everything I do not know. Yet. Being fundamentally a pathological optimist, I buy them assuming I will eventually somehow infer what they contain if I keep them in close proximity to my person (a convenient shelf, though a teetering stack, will do) and -- this is the important part -- pay close attention. I've found this method to have cut down considerably on my reading time.
To convey the sense of having entered Synchronicity City, which dawned on me slowly, in stages of wonderment, I have to tell you first about a couple other books (70 or so, in fact, but to keep it short I'll mention just a few) that I've been actually reading. Having in the last several months conceived a deep interest in PTSD -- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for those of you who never made it to Viet Nam, been in a near-fatal car crash, or dated Anomalie Aesculapius -- I kept seeing references to this thing by Leonard Shengold, M.D. titled Soul Murder: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Deprivation. It finally arrived from Amazon last week and I started reading it. I was interrupted, however (though this is the rule, not the exception), by a side-interest I developed in the debate over Freud's abandonment of the seduction theory in 1897. Alice Miller comes into it, but only as what she ultimately is: a bit player. Not, I should hasten to say, because she is a woman, but because she is a narcissist and a blabbermouth.
Have you noticed that, as we get closer to the summer solstice, the paragraphs grow longer?
This seductive side-interest, which, it slowly became clear was really crucially central to PTSD as it is and (more critically) is not conflated with diagnoses of BPD -- Borderline Personality Disorder (honk-honk!) -- either led me to, or was precipitated by my reading of Janet Malcolm's In the Freud Archives, for which I had temporarily (it's always temporary; see pathological optimism, supra) given off reading the Shengold book. But things started getting weird, when, at the end of the first section, Janet Malcolm starts talking about Shengold and his book. This is not all that odd, as both hover around a congruent complex (one could say) of related subject matter. In this case, whether Daddy actually fucked Lulu, or Lulu just (mostly perhaps) imagined it. I'm voting for pretty much outright fucked, though with demurely diaphanous scrims interposed between dream/recall and the memory screen. For the sake of modesty. Of course. Never cowardice or carefully self-disguised subterfuge to offload unbearable shame onto someone else. Sins of the father, deep fathom five. And only I am left to tell the tale: thy father lies. With you.
Virtually Sophoclean when you get, as Jagger says, down in it.
I wrote a song once, long time ago, that went in part...
You can read it in the morning papers,
You can see it in the morning sky,
You can feel it in the voltage-drop in the power lines
as my baby passes by...
And these visions. Of Johanna. Are now all. That re. Main...
Blonde on Blonde on the radio yesterday on the way to buy the Baudrillard. And Heroin Girl by Everclear, and Kill You and Stan by Eminem (and Dido), back where it all started to unravel. So there was all that too. There is always all that.
But then Malcolm recounts something I'd already gleaned from an Amazon reader-review of Soul Murder: that there's another, earlier, book of the same name by one Morton Schatzman, which describes the case of some judge named Schreber, whose father subjected him to various inhuman physical tortures, which the son later, in his total fucking madness, refers to as "miracles."
You may recall (if you have kept up) that I woke wondering about the common analog -- "_____" -- for "discourse networks" in human psychology, especially with respect to women. As in: "The quickest way to man's heart is through his _____," even though we all know the common instantiation for that one. I had no clue how to fill in my "_____" blank of this morning, however. So I fished out the Discourse Networks book, and opening it randomly, as I am wont to do, read the first bit of this book I have ever read on page 232: "According to Ellen Key, The Century of the Child brought an end to 'soul murder' in school." The paragraph is followed by an image, one of the very few in the book, of an angel writing on a phonograph disk with a quill pen. Although the author doesn't mention it, this is the logo of Angel Records, which I downloaded three or four months back to illustrate the oft-stated premise of this blog (and proximate cause of my continued respiration), to wit: that in Synchronicity City there is only one angel.
Her face may change, her eyes, her moon, her ocean. For she is ever and only whoever she likes, and whomever she likes, she is also free to love.