Thursday, June 19, 2008

when anorexia is autophagia

Once, between breakfast shots of rakija -a very potent homemade Serbian plum brandy- my friend turned to me and remarked that I was anorexic. I tried to parry the diagnosis by mumbling something about finding his humour fatuous, but he pressed the point: "No Tom, I don't mean you have a body-image problem. I mean emotionally. You're emotionally anorexic." I don't really remember the rest of the conversation, I believe he moved onto Goethe's poetry, but his statement has haunted me for several years.

It hasn't been the only statement of that nature that I've received, but perhaps the most colourful. Others have made analogous analogies, and have given sweat, blood and tears on my behalf, but I've remained dumb. And numb. And indignant. Their techniques have varied from honey-coated lozenges of compassion, to blunt-force coercion, to baiting, to ultimatums, to attempts at conducive self-exposure. And I somehow rebuffed them all only to feel even more disconnected.

The shortest version as to why is that I hate myself. I like myself less than the people I like the least. I've hidden this from others for the several reasons. Those of not wanting to be subjugated by their judgment (related to pervasive feelings of inferiority, of fear of abandonment, of fear of loss of control and autonomy). Those of not wanting to influence others' already burgeoning emotional spectra. Those of attempting to hide my pessimism, my paranoia, my hurt. Those of simply not knowing what to do, what the source is, where this ceaseless bounty of pain comes from. Those of ignorance.

So instead it has constricted my movements ever tighter. Ruined or at least stymied the emotional growth of my relationships. Hindered my greater powers of memory, of accomplishment, of self-respect and empowerment. It's forced me to hide from people I adore; lash out like a petulant child when I've felt manipulated by others' emotions; and horde any positive thoughts for fear of letting them go. I've been cutting off bits of me and swallowing them for fear of poisoning others.

The one source I can find for all this is my first memory of experiencing how people validate their emotions: they were writ so large and full and real and overwhelming, that I couldn't bear to administer mine to them. If I felt so bad when it happened to them, how could I do the same to them? So I think I told myself a simple phrase: "I don't care". I couldn't be let down if I didn't care. I couldn't be hurt nor hurt others in turn. I tried to become emotionally moot. Instead I've practiced just as much violence. Just to myself.

I've been aware of this deleterious condition for about a decade. In conversations, I've tried to nullify this by practicing non-judgment for about just as long, indirectly judging them via my own emotional chokes. Though we live in a society that rewards positivity, it is as much a judgment as negativity, acting to subsume and punish and inhibit just as much as its antonym. In a way, I've viewed is with just as much suspicion (and, of course, with much envy). So I've argued against people, not for the sake of arguing, but for the sake of suspending judgment and advocating plurality. I've abhorred peoples' arbitrary codes of judgment - only because people hide their mistakes and sense of guilt behind them. It took me a while to apply this heuristic to myself: I've hidden my own hypocrisy behind my loftily stated mandate... all that time I have been judging myself so very harshly. Cruelly, in fact. Today, I try to begin again.

For the next 5 entries, I will endeavor to extrapolate further on my emotional states; memories; previous attempts at healing; my involvements with people I've loved and respected and failed; a soothing yoghurt salve with a diverse mixture of feeled berries. And I will hopefully have the courage to cite a few more recent conversations and personal involvements that have helped me come to realize this much-longed-after need to emerge.

Thank you for listening to me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

something sneaker afoot...

I was going to write about who I think would win in a beach volleyball tournament between the Romo-Greek and Hindu gods. Or about how the new Death Starbucks' completion date is worryingly slated for 2012. But then I saw this news-piece on how disembodied feet have been washing up on BC shores. It's a case I've been watching since I first read about it here.
Please help generate some puns with me here people, cause I'm stumped!

Monday, June 16, 2008

As I lay flying

6am Sunday, supine under my dual-action ceiling-fan light, it dawned on me that we were deep in conversation. Me and my static ceiling-fan, that is, you weren't around.
What made me dizzy wasn't that I was spinning while it was tranquil, or that it alternated between looking like a giant but genial albino mosquito, or a prototype sheep with rocket-trotters that had lodged its head in the plaster whilst showing off, or even an intergalactating heli-udder come to administer cosmic anti-bodies to brains paranoid of growing hair on the concave surfaces of their skulls,
but the ceiling fan's astonishing capacity for conversation (and, eerily enough, prolonged eye-contact) cut through all my delirious codswallop (such as my 'normalizing' joke about this all just being a trick of the light, to which it responded that the only lights turning tricks were red ones). It suggested that the pursuit of control actually inhibited self-determination, interrupted receptivity to detail, and mugged curiosity by luring it down the gloomy alleyways of preconception. I've long known my empiricist tendencies towards mapping my dendrites first through the material plane, deferring to the candor and impact of others, holding myself beholden. Exhausting these roots/routes/routs quickly, I then took to traipsing through the muck of self-deconstruction (which is pretty silly, because who yet has constructed a self?), and observationally-assisted entropy.
I've had blushes of intersubjective experience. They were events that occurred as bursts of moral and emotional elevation, culminating at an ephemeral arc at the thin-aired crown of the parabola, and then plummeting earthward again. These occasions instilled within me a profound sense of love, but never before toward a dormant but polymorphous air-circulator. At no point that morning did I find myself lonely, only quietly and blissfully alone. And so evidently connected with all the other unfinisheds that I've been afraid of receiving feeling from for so long. The rubble has been cleared, my political candidacy is restored and I can yet live!

If that didn't interest you, then these tidbits will:
- Click the 'video' icon to initiate the AMOEBA. A couple of minutes in, it gets really drippy.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

consciousness as brain damage

There, a landscape of riffled nerves.
Which is best: to accept the manifest as intended, and bear the weight of responsibility for your felt world? Or proclaim inadvertency, and become the opportunist you secretly suspect everyone else to be?
In trying to heal, I have hurt myself more. I forget that everyone talks about what they remember, and studies show that studies show that people prefer to remember lies.
Sometimes I wish I lied more, especially to myself. Err on the side of treason.
I know so many people who are mediocre only to themselves.
Did you know that an 'acre' is a unit of exertion? The 43,560 sq. feet (or 44,000 - 1%) is as much as one man and one ox can plough in one day. They say.
Did you know that famed futurist Buckminster Fuller was going to kill himself, but then decided to view his life as an experiment as to how much a human can accomplish in one lifetime?
Is it strange to be more afraid of life than death? I'm through absorbing the pain of others. Empathy is shit when it's only working in one direction. That's the willful depreciation of the self, direct and unmitigated.
Here's to physis. Here's to the lemon-oil spray that freshens the mind. Here's to recombinant happiness. Here's to the collapse of identity as the greatest perpetrator of all the world's ills. Here's to remembering, remembering that all is learning and learning is practice and practice is play.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why I called but hung up when you answered.

"So what's your tattoo of?" You lean over the table, your finger finding a sinuous path through the dinner's debris. Your elbow almost touches the baby-corn that I pushed off my plate over an hour ago. I'd left it there, hoping you might perceive it as erotic, or mildly provocative, or at least very casual of me. Back when freshly lubricated by black bean sauce, it had seemed a tad more tumescent. Now it just looks RE-vocative. Like a rolled up post-it note in a patch of dried beer. Or a giant Lego-man poo.

I gulp as the tip of your index finger grazed my bicep. I've been told that I gulp frequently. And loudly.
"I think I can just make out the edge of it..." you continue. "Is it a wisp of smoke emerging from a bullet hole? Or... hmmm... would one follow it to find Tacitus' refutation of Nero's incendiary solo?" Your finger jumps as you hiccup, catching the edge of my shirt. I gulp again.
"Um," I break eye contact. "Actually, I sneezed in the ashtray when you were in the bathroom. I must've scratched myself, my armpits have been so itchy all day. I think I'm allergic to my new antiperspirant. I hope I don't get hives, my aloe plant died last week. I'm not very good with objects. Physical objects. Er, ones that live."

Armpit hives? Somewhere I'm sure a Happy Elf falls off his Happy Branch. Dead. Or at least hemorrhaging quite badly from the ear.

"So it's kind of like dermography? I wonder what word is written?" I have no idea what dermography is, so I default-laugh and look frantically around for the manifest inspiration of a witty word.
"HA! I think it would say... fortune nookie. COOKIE! It would say fortune cookie."
You smile your crooked smile, a good, winning smile for the tail-end of a dangerous second date. Your arm is still stretched across the table, playing with my cuff.

"That's a far cuff for you!" I give you what I think to be the flirtatious frown of admonishment. Your smile falters slightly.
"Oh, no, I didn't mean. Er... you know, I am thinking of getting a tattoo though. Yeah. A big one of the life-cycle of the lancet fluke Dicrocoelium dentriticum. Breeds in the digestive tracts of grazing ungulates, the eggs of which are eaten from the dung by slugs, which then cough them up in these slime-plaques which are subsequently consumed by ants. The eggs pupate and form these cysts in the heads of the ants and then control their brains, making them climb grass-stalks so that they complete the loop by getting eaten again by cattle."
I pause.
"Now that I think about it, that might actually be the single most repulsive idea for a tattoo that I've ever heard. I think I'd rather get a portrait of Dick Cheney water sliding naked. Or one of that baby corn by your elbow there. With syphilis."
You retrieve your hand so quickly, you clink your bracelet against a bottle, thankfully disguising my latest gulp.
"Nakedly," you correct me. "I think I'm going to take my fortune cookie with me, if that's OK with you? And I'll call a cab. It's only a $30 ride from here........"

And it is THIS line of deleterious imaginative projection of how our second date will go which prevents me from mustering up the courage to ask you out again. I wish I could instead pretend that you are an arsonist or that I find your elbows too flabby.

Actually, we didn't even have a first date. I thought all this in between glances at you in the candy aisle at Blockbuster.
It's why I didn't smile back. Sorry.