Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summertime sadness...

One of the clearest differences between depression and melancholy is that depression is an emotional state of resignation, whereas melancholy is not. When we feel depressed we feel unmotivated, unable to complete even the simplest task and unable to see any way forward. It is a pessimistic state that involves pain. By contrast, melancholy is not such a debilitating mood, rather it involves the pleasure of reflection and contemplation of things we love and long for, so that the hope of having them adds a touch of sweetness that makes melancholy bearable (while misery is not). Its reflective or thoughtful aspect also makes it somehow productive. Melancholy is something we even desire from time to time, for it provides an opportunity for indulgent self-reflection. We enjoy this time out for reflection, but the pleasure is also connected to recollecting that which we long for, where this reflective element can be even exhilarating or uplifting.

- from Melancholy as an Aesthetic Emotion by Emily Brady and Arto Haapala

("Melancholy" 1894, Edvard Munch)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Astral Intoxication and the Intermediate Zone...

There is in fact an intermediary state, a zone of transition between the ordinary consciousness in mind and the true knowledge. One may cross without hurt through it, perceiving at once or at an early stage its real nature and refusing to be detained by its half-lights and tempting but imperfect and often mixed and misleading experiences. Or one may go astray in it, follow false voices and mendacious guidance, and that ends in a spiritual disaster. Or one may take up one’s abode in this intermediate zone, care to go no farther and build there some half-truth which one takes for the whole truth or become the instrument of the powers of these transitional planes - that is what happens to many.

- Sri Aurobindo

(Satchidananda [not Aurobindo] on a rainy Swiss mountain in 1987)

Friday, August 02, 2013

Ex-Lax for the soul...

The realms of shit hold important mysteries. "Do your duty!" my mother used to tell our family dog and me in a loving voice when it came time for either of us to defecate. The eager to please dog did do and the rebellious boy did not do. Regrettably, this victorious not doing lead to lingering bouts of childhood constipation, stomach pumping, and other embarrassments, which quite possibly, along with a host of other life happenings, ascended into a kind of psychic constipation that held certain aspects of my life's output in a retentive clench well into adulthood. You see, the boy was afraid to let go of his shit. Since it was a part of him, losing his shit down that long dark system of pipes and sewers below the ground was not a place any part of him wanted to be. 

I certainly place no blame on mom. She had our best evacuation interests at heart. And as happens as we get to know ourselves, I am learning to unclench. You would never have found me anally retentive in any sense of the stereotype. My constipation does not demand straight edges and clean countertops. I hold on loosely (but don't let her go). 

Actually, since you're dying to know, I think my psychic constipation got married in a secret ceremony to my fear of heights at some point early early on. The result of this blessed union was an unconscious sense that every action I took on god's green earth could result in a swirling fatal fall into an acid whirlpool of a shit pit. And so just as the person with a real fear of flying magically, solipsistically believes that they control the destiny of their flight through worry and clenching and fellating fear, somewhere in my fantasy melon I was operating on the unspoken notion that my clench was what kept me from tumbling into the cosmos every second of the day. And that, children, is how sleeping beauty became his own worst energy vampire.

I'm not sure what I can hope to accomplish in broadcasting this surface skim of retro deep doo doo in the backwaters of the Internet. I do know that now that mom is gone, I'm naturally replaying all the old loops that subliminally guided certain choices and fates in the earlier part of my life. Luckily, I can see them from a distance and enjoy them for their comedy. I can report that a healthier headspace along with two scoops of psyllium husks in the morning has brought sunshine to my digestion and my outlook. 

That said, childhood habits do haunt us in ways our logical minds can barely comprehend. With the memory of my constipation imprinted on my soul, I still find myself yearning for creative floodgates to open in all the expected and unexpected ways. The pipes may be clean but are they beginning to rust? The most primitive facility used to smelt iron is a bloomery.