Every now and then I become very unpleasant to be around, as if I'm chewing on something that I just can NOT swallow, and need to be put in a quiet room to continue chewing on it until it is done. I realize--and have before, but do now again--that this is the urge to finally "secrete," if you will, a piece of writing, a concept, a history; it varies but it is always about finally "bringing to the light" some story that needs telling or re-telling. It isn't about the "dark and hidden," most of the time it's stories that I have already told and to which is attached no specific "dark" baggage that hypnosis would be required to undo.
Recent off-blog email, I realized today, set one of these off. Here it is.
In 1991 I was a junior in college. I met a number of new freshpeople (it was still polite to call them freshmen in 1991, but now it's not, I hear) and adventures began. At that time in my existence I was chewing on a bunch of different issues, the majority of which were linked to my over-thinking a generalization put in my head by Catholic laity when I was a kid (I was raised what you might call "lazy Catholic"). The generalization was something like "it is right to confess impure thoughts when they arise." The overthinking was something like this: "Dude, I'm 14 (in 1984). My ENTIRE LIFE is an impure thought. What gives?" And more than that, it was this: if I experience "impure thoughts" in my head, and those impure thoughts correspond to the hormonal chemistry I feel in my bloodstream, where does my body fit into the confession of impurity? As a matter of fact, what IS impurity? Is the body impure, wholesale? How then am I to overcome that? Or is it only impure SOMETIMES? Or is only acting on that chemistry impure, and if that's true, what about when that chemistry acts on me? Is there some Puppetmaster of Impurity in charge of things? How much of this voodoo do you really want me to buy?
I am given to overthinking of that kind, and what eventually happened is that my ability to conceptualize FAR EXCEEDED the ability of my lazy-Catholic generalizations to contain it. And there was no further advice coming (other than euphemisms) from anyone who could be considered to be "raising" me, so I had to handle all of that business by myself. So, 1991.
I had a lot of convoluted, complicated, paradoxical body-love-hate-identity-agency stuff in my head when I was 21. I had retained the "impure" tag, but had thrown out any respect for it. As you'll hear from many lapsed Catholics, the respect disappears but the guilt remains. Well, these freshpeople and I were to band together and to, as the Surrealists put it, attempt to "change life."
As a group, we were "punk hippies." We listened to Minor Threat, Fugazi, Ministry, Sex Pistols, Moody Blues, Santana, Zeppelin, Joy Division, the Smiths, Jane's Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and all of grunge, all that stuff. We wore tie-dye and black and Doc Maartens and Birkenstocks, all of that good private college kid stuff. I was the most hippie of the bunch, the Armenian Nietzsche scholar the most punk, the French guy the most anarchist (personally and politically) and the Korean kid from Buffalo NY, the most goth. Our membership also included a metalhead and a goth chick who dated the Nietzsche scholar. We really painted the identity target in the early 1990s. And from 1991 to 1994, we bonded, fought, lived and died together, we took all the right chemicals and a few of the wrong ones, we survived bad trips, we drank like fish, we climbed rooftops, we saw sunrises, we drew all over my walls, broke my first acoustic guitar, stayed up all night regularly, and somehow pulled a heck of a lot of A's while we did it. We were smart, largely angry and dissatisfied, largely sexually frustrated, and very, very bad people.
But we were NOT actually on the darkside. We acted out on a private campus, and sure, a few of us (not me) took or were put on medication (remember how popular Lithium used to be?), and one had tried suicide six times and failed, and another tried it just because he was curious (he really was; he wanted to see if God was real), but really, we were basically very smart suburban kids with very, very loose boundaries. We played hard. But we weren't ever TRULY dangerous to ourselves or others, we never played with weapons, and most of our conversations were about French Symbolist poetry, Kierkegaard and religion and Nietzsche.
I graduated in 1993 and was able to eek out many visits for 1994. But then I had to grow up and get temp jobs which were so evilly boring and reprehensible that they chased me to graduate school, far, far away in Indiana. And suddenly it's 2007.
There is more to the story than this, but for those three years (91-94) this is where it was at. I'll almost certainly write more episodes like this (as said off-blog correspondence continues), but that's been itching to get out for a few days.
In other corners of the world, I went to that "power and endurance" class and had an absolutely MARVELOUS practice.