Wednesday, May 22, 2013
It’s night time and I’ve had too much night time medicine leaving me light headed as if drunk – a bad time to read Freud, although better drunk than sober – something I should not say too loudly or old Dr. Thomas, my psych professor, would howl. He was such a fanatic, and deceptive because when I signed up for my first course with him called myth and symbolism and got Freud, I got mad, and snuck off to sit in another professor’s class to study Faulkner, getting into a pissing contest with that professor over what things meant in various Faulkner novels – we usually coming out even, which pissed him off since professors are supposed to know more about the novels they are teaching than some self-educated boob from the ghetto.
Anyway, Dr. Thomas got hurt and wanted to know why I didn’t like his class, and when I told him I’d come to study Greek and Roman mythology not so whack job from Vienna, he decided to analysis me, giving up after a dozen sessions when all I wanted to talk about while on the couch was literature, and bringing poems to read instead of symbol-rich dreams he counted out to reveal how someone like me got to be someone like me in the first place, all that repressed catholic morality and indignation at the outrageous of an unjust world.
Freud annoyed me for a number of reasons, but fundamentally because he believed that can never be anything more than what we were meant to be, presuming to think that we are only when we have experienced, and that who we are is defined somewhere in the chemical synapses turning on and off inside of us, the repressed memories of God and country, nuns banging rulers on our knuckles for being bad (a very big part of my unconscious I can tell you), god merely a foreboding father or mother figure that we are destined to murder or fuck, and once set on a particular path destined to stay there for eternity like a record needle stuck in the grooves an old fashioned long playing record.
Einstein, my favorite mad scientist growing up (along with Tesla) defined madness as a skip in that record where we repeat the same thing over and over and think we are making progress.
If both men (white males) are right, then are all crazy, locked into believing what we already learned to believe, justifying what we already think we are, white knight or realistic opportunist, reliving our expectations over and over as our individual records skip.
The hardest part is not so much expecting change (we know we can’t bust out of this role we live) or even accepting who or what we are (we accept it even if we don’t particular like the person we’ve become). The hardest part is accepting people who are not like us and the fact that their reality is valid for that other person, if not for us. The bigger the difference in background and the subsequent moral and cultural values, the harder it is to bridge the gap.
Dr. Thomas never could understand how a street kid like me from a Paterson ghetto could hunger for Jove, lust after Athena or admire Odysseus (who is by far my all time hero), or how Faulkner’s south and his admiration for the fallen woman could resonate so deeply in my heart, nor could he understand that every strip club on Market Street in Paterson was filled with Shakespearian tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, and how sometimes I felt as indecisive as Hamlet, chasing ghosts of things I ached to achieve.
Somewhere else in those noble institutions of college or the street, I learned (if not well) that life isn’t about accepting other people skips in the record, but finding some common ground without making judgments, without using or being used, finding some element of character in another that some how resonates – one skip in one record someone harmonizing with the skip in another. If not, then almost.
Sometimes, it is like two drunks too drunk to see straight or walk far in a world that seems to roll like the deck of a ship at storm, finding that if they lean together long enough to get their bearings they might make out things in the world around them they might otherwise miss, none needing the other except as a brief respite in the storm.
And maybe the haze of a good drunk provides more clarity than staggering around in the presumption of being straight, when no one in this world is free of being crazy, and sometimes, if you lean long enough, you learn to look at more than just the flaws in others or even in the world, and just appreciate that for once in this nutty life time, you aren’t falling down.
This, of course, is my cold medicine talking. Give me a shot of Jack Daniels and it’s a whole different rap.