Monday, May 23, 2011

Pater Noster: A poem by Jacques Prevert

Pater noster
 
Our Father who art in heaven
Stay there
And we'll stay here on earth
Which is sometimes so pretty
With its mysteries of New York
And its mysteries of Paris
At least as good as that of the Trinity
With its little canal at Ourcq
Its great wall of China
Its river at Morlaix
Its candy canes
With its Pacific Ocean
And its two basins in the Tuileries
With its good children and bad people
With all the wonders of the world
Which are here
Simply on the earth
Offered to everyone
Strewn about
Wondering at the wonder of themselves
And daring not avow it
As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself
With the world's outrageous misfortunes
Which are legion
With legionaries
With torturers
With the masters of this world
The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops
With the seasons
With the years
With the pretty girls and with the old bastards
With the straw of misery rotting in the steel of cannons.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

What the Dreams Mean/ Rapture Saturday

***Note:  I am sorry about the overall inaccessibility of this post, it really is fairly necessary to read The First Dream and The Second Dream to have any idea what I am talking about, and even then, I lapse into what I fear is incomprehensibility frequently.  I am sorry.  It is the best I can do in the time allowed.  ***

 In the second dream, the man who is lying on that brick patio in a business suit, that guy is authority in all its forms:  sovereigns (governments), corporations (including banks) and religions (broadly defined).  He is screaming out in pain because he is really suffering, the inversion of authority that presses him into the ground really causes genuine distress in him.  Yet it is necessary.  Of course it is.  Currently in the world, governments, corporations and religions absorb our life energies, they tell us what we can and cannot do and can and cannot have, whether that is by salary, by prohibitions to travel or marriage -- all these things. Reform is necessary. 

I don't know if I need to stay longer on this point, that governments, corporations and religions are essentially more alike than different.  They all should be subject to the rule of law, of course, because they are comprised of people and no person can stand above the law.  It makes me sick to think how banks, corporations and governments and religions  -- their constituents, the people, humans, use these organizations to be above the law.  Corporations evade transparency requirements without retribution, corporations elect candidates, religions make laws, yet somehow the organization, the entity itself is not subject to the law the way you and I are. 

In the dream, the man was pinned to the ground and from the angle I entered, I saw a huge, outsized Bernese Mountain Dog, sitting patiently and happily on top of the man.  Just beautiful.  And to me the dog is the Earth, it is all of nature, it is everything left when you get rid of governments and religions and corporations, it is the present moment, it is all animals, including humans.  Because here is where my interpretation of the dream veers wildly away from mainstream thinking:  I think John Gray's Straw Dogs is right, and the only ethics I am really interested in espousing are ethics that do not presume that humans should dominate the earth, that do not create fundamental distinctions between them and animals.  John Gray was basically saying the only ethic that seemed right to him was an ethic that somehow took into account everything represented by that big Bernese Mountain Dog, holistically, as one.  So what flows from that practically for me is that I have to vote green and think long and hard about where I stand on animal rights and eating meat.  But certainly the inversion is right, these institutions of humans should serve all humans and the planet, and now, today on Rapture Saturday,  I think the situation is way too much the other way.   We serve them.  They tell us what we can and cannot do, and the capitalist system shapes who we are.  We hand these pieces of our own identity over to them.  Their identity must stretch to us, and what we think we should be, rather than our identity stretch to them.  


These organizations of human power are simply too big and powerful in and of themselves, they have grown so their only real interest is perpetuation at any cost.  And we have a special sort of blindness in ourselves that prevents us from seeing that for what it is.  What you eat -everything you eat - is a sort of sacrament, a piece of your identity.  Your Friday night pizza night is a communion and you tithe Dominos.  Your choice of investments for your 401k is as significant in religious consequence as your prayers.  Your votes, your dollars, your choices, your relationships.  It's all part of the same big cookie. . . .

The flow of capital on earth right now is desperately uneven and unfair because we serve banks.  Because governments perpetuate themselves rather than serve, because religions dictate rather than listen.   And the thing is, we gave them that power.  And they consistently retain power by being in charge of the laws, the budget, the policy, the message.  And the animal in us should rise up in solidarity with all the creatures of earth, all its rivers and mountains and glaciers and put a stop to it.  I want to write "before it is too late" but I think this feeling of end times I have is just a meaningless leftover symptom of my upbringing (see, e.g., my brother's Facebook post on Odisagih).  But I still want to write it, because the dolphins looked mad (see the first dream). 


I don't know if you've read the earlier posts about having the dreams.  It was freaky.  I put the dream about the giant wave engulfing the shore in the play, word for word from my notes at 4:30 in the morning, I sent that play out into the universe, flew back to Cambridge and there on the TV screen was the tsunami in Japan.  The experience of writing the play was so intense and in some ways holy that I was somewhat convinced that something huge just had to happen when it was over.  And there it was.   And the thing is, sure, it was a coincidence.  But I don't really believe in coincidences, I believe in the "interconnectedness of all things".


Diversion re interconnectedness of all things: 
I was the student editor of Emily Hartigan's article in a law review called The Power of Language Beyond Words, (H.C.R.-C.L. circa fall '90)  and she was weird but man, she could speak the truth.  She ended up writing my recommendation that I used to apply for clerkships and jobs after law school and it included the immortal sentence:  Rachel has a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all things.  This became a fairly big joke among my friends.  At the Civil Rights - Civil Liberties law review, Peter Ciccino photocopied it and put it up on the wall with the sentence in yellow highlight.  When I would speak at subsequent meetings, he would point solemnly to the wall.  It actually was pretty funny.  As if the hardbitten Manhattan federal judges were looking for someone who not only understood the interconnectedness of all things, but actually understood it deeply.  And the rest of my friends found it such utter, overwhelming bullshit.  Going to law school was like going to the grocery store, one said, as long as you pay you get what you came for.  It was like, another said, going to plumbing school, just learning a set of skills and knowledge to deploy with clients later.  I always thought there was something more powerful, fundamental, mystical, magical about law.  Fuck it.  I DO have a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all things, I don't know if it is right and it is something I feel but it makes more sense to me than anything else I have believed in my life.  
.
Diversion over

One last thing, if you haven't read the earlier post, you don't know that behind the dog was a woman, a 1950's style unibusomed housewife with a black dress and a clutch purse looking extremely uncomfortable.  I think that it showed the Mountain Dog was not going to climb up on top of that guy until women, women, women -- yes, us -- pinned him down first.


So I am writing this the day the Rapture is supposed to occur.  And it would be nice if it was the end of the world as we know it, an end of the man in the suit controlling the woman and the Bernese Mountain Dog had its beginning on this day.  Climb up on your religion, the companies you invest in, your bank, your government and demand justice.  Get on top with the dog on this beautiful sunny Rapture Saturday.  That's what, essentially, I am saying.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dear Psychopharmacologist

Dear Doctor:

I would like to make an appointment to see you, although I can't really afford it.  I have bipolar disorder but I am functioning which means that in the eyes of the NHS and my health insurer, I have nothing, I am fine.  I need some sort of "separate episode" to trigger coverage.  I could tell you I was suicidal, and that would get me in to see a harassed shrink once, maybe, but then you might take me away from my children.  And really, I'm not suicidal.  A web of love and promises keeps that option from ever gaining purchase in my thoughts.  I do not let it become, in the recent faddy parlance of contract negotiation, a "load bearing idea".   My own effort keeps me away from that. But that effort is ongoing, no separate episode, just increasingly harder from time to time with no relationship with a doctor to help.  

I could use some help, though.  It's been a while since I even spoke to a shrink.  Nearly two years.  Have you come up with a pill yet that would take away all the hatred I feel toward myself?    Have you developed, say, a nasal spray that would stop me from despising what I see in the mirror?  Stop my judgment coming down so hard that in seconds, I break my own spirit with my own crushing criticism of my reflection, and it becomes insanely courageous that I can even walk out the door to pick up my children from school, so horrible and damned am I.  I was wondering if you had some kind of cream that would smooth away the shame and anxiety I feel about my entire life and all my choices, so that there is something other than the red hot buzzwords:  failure!  crazy!  idiot!  pathetic!  zinging around my brain when I try to sleep.  Maybe I can rub some new words into my skin so they can be under my skin instead of these old, awful ones.  Maybe if you don't have some kind of cream, some kind of gum?  Some kind of gum to take away the craving for self-condemnation that consumes my brain?  If you could do it for nicotine cravings, can't you do it for condemnation?

And maybe in the past couple years, you have some up with something I can take for my nastiness and anger.  You see, now that I have had a couple decades of therapy, on and off, I am - and I understand this is late in the game at age 43 - I am ready to see now where I am angry and where I am nasty.  It is another little death to find these things out about myself every time, but such is the quest for truth.  In retrospect, of course, I should have seen it sooner.  I remember one Washington Post reporter introducing me as the woman who ate CEO's for breakfast and I thought he was just being nice.  My experience of myself was of a fearful, incompetent fool.  So eager are the children of Evangelical Christians to not be bad, to be good, that we hide our own badness from ourselves, we hide our own anger from ourselves.  Really, quite incredible if you think about it:  I thought he was just being nice.

 And I finally see, thanks to a patient husband, that I am angry sometimes and I am nasty sometimes but always in those times, in those moments, I feel I am only defending myself from the eternal endless criticism, the eternal threat of sin, the unfettered fear occasioned by a cortisol dump created in my youth now unregulated and unfixable.  In those moments I am threatened and I am afraid.  Please tell me you have come up with something for that?  Please?   How about some kind of insight spray?    

No?  Nothing like that?  Just the same old heavy-handed anti-psychotics that make me a zombie?  The ineffective SSRI's?  The lithium that made my hair fall out?  Shit!  You should get on that self-condemnation gum, I think it could really sell.  As a spray or a gum or a pill!  Anything else for me?  No?  Really?  Nothing?  No?

OK.

Rachel