Wednesday 29 March 2017

An earlier waveform

Readers and film fans be advised. This is another post about therapy that follows on from this. Happiness and contentment are to be found elsewhere. Hopefully in the pages of a good book. Or better still, on the streets, on a good demo.

As before I post it in the hope it might help someone else and because, somehow, it helps.

   Recently, after a particularly painful therapy session, I tipped into something close to depression. I still manage to go to work and function. I still manage smiles and jokes with the girls at school but really, if at all possible, I would choose to hide in my room for an extended period of time. I'm exhausted. A little prosaic you might think - there must be better places to hide. On a beach in Spain. Somewhere on the Amazon. A Nepalese mountain. In an Instanbul market. A Texan brothel. Uluru. A cocktail bar in Moscow. Somewhere awful, dangerous, exciting, seedy, stimulating. But no.

    Wanting to hide in my room was a bit of a clue. And watching Game of Thrones from the start was another. It seems the broken, lonely 45 year old is tussling with the broken, lonely teenager that has been struggling to find a satisfactory way to live these last 35 years. How dull. And nor is it an entirely satisfactory explanation - it forgets Helen, being a nurse, being an activist, being a volunteer, trying to put myself out there and in to the world. It forgets a good fifteen years perhaps although, without doubt, some of same coping strategies were in place through those years too.

It's like a flash bulb has gone off and, startled, I've reverted to an earlier waveform. Or I'm like a cyborg suddenly aware that he might not be human after all. Or one of those old fashioned PIs who realises his old wherewithal is no defence against the wider, colossal forces laughing at him.

I'm trying on genre tropes - it's like an episode of Mr Benn.

At one point last week I got home, and my very kind house mate asked what was wrong. I replied that I was feeling the futility and joylessness of existence and went to bed. If part of me can see, a few days later, the humour in this - I can't stop myself picturing Harry Enfield's Kevin - another part recognises that the depression is real, and that it is functional and purposive. I can't be like this anymore. I can't keep on living for such thin gruel. This is it - there is nowhere else to hide. Or rather, all my hiding places no longer offer the distractions and consolatory abstractions they once did.

This teenager is moody, angry, frustrated, sad and so, ridiculously sensitive. He's watching himself all those years ago create and finesse ways to survive: distractions and abstractions yes, but also empathy and adaptability, angles and facades. You can hide a lot of yourself and your needs in trying to care for others, or worse, trying to save them. To live, as my father repeated like a mantra, day to day. To be careful and watchful, ardent too. But all this is to be trapped in an eternal present, with elements of an inescapable past.

I discovered this recently:

"Prodigy is, at its essence, adaptability and persistent, positive obsession. Without persistence, what remains is an enthusiasm of the moment. Without adaptability, what remains may be channeled into destructive fanaticism. Without positive obsession, there is nothing at all."

It's from Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower.

What shines out at me from that most of all is the bit about enthusiasm of the moment? Can one be persistent in holding on to enthusiasms of the moment, for dear life? Fuck me, this, this sums up everything. And speaks to this, about the teleology of depression:

"Life is teleology par excellence; it is the intrinsic striving towards a goal, and the living organism is a system of directed aims which seek to fulfill themselves." Or not.

The surgeon.

(The unreleased horror episode). How did Cronenberg never make a film about a surgeon trying to scoop out bits out of himself with his hands? All that queasiness and dissatisfaction. All those techniques and strategies, all that expertise that just isn't fit for purpose. All that tiredness.

The astronaut

My survival suit was made in the 1970s and 80s and I need a new model. It's worn out with all the trying and with all the floating about. It has given up the ghost. Many ghosts actually. Am I full of ghosts or full of nothing?

It's a fairly traditional space suit - white, or maybe orange, with a clear front bubble to see through. If I looked in a mirror there'd be nothing inside. Just the hollow shell, sustaining the conditions for life but otherwise lacking agency and utterly fucking pointless. 

Make me something shiny and new. Something old and comfortable. I don't mind what the fuck it looks like. 

Who am I kidding? Of course I care what it looks like. Something stylish please, something cool. My survival suit: an essay on superficiality.

The magician.

In a cage of his own construction.
All that practise, all those careful escape plans. And now, seemingly, none.
Trapped in a performance of myself and for myself.

The dancer

Dancing to the tunes in his head: slave to the rhythm.
Waiting to be chosen.

The PI (again) (and the environmentalist, the activist, the socialist, the lover)

Damn this investigation.
It's going all wrong. 

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