Recently I was watching one of my regular students, who is big into empathy and masculinity ("New Warrior" style, if you know that discourse), explain a frustrating conversation with his boss, and he got progressively LESS VERBAL as frustration increased, even though he was relating a SEPARATE experience; he was basically channelling the emotions of what he was, in free indirect discourse, narrating. It was a trip and we both remarked on it.
A good rant, I think, necessitates the ability to channel anger and frustration into language which conveys the intensity of MY experience without giving everyone else a case of red-ants-in-the-pants. From there, it's up to the rant's intent: does it want to propagandize, persuade, simply state and convey? A good rant COMMUNICATES, in short.
So let me practice this skill a bit; it's good to sharpen the blades now and again.
Seventh series is kicking me in the face, basically. It does that by maintaining randomness, all the time. That, and the ideological promises that are always attached to writing about it, even when honesty shows up now and then in a comment or a paragraph's description. It's as if the American Baby Discourse wants to leaven the harshness with some nice euphemisms and generalizations about how marvelous and miraculous it all is.
Guy Debord once said that the first duty of all bureaucrats is to deny that there is any bureaucracy. A friend of a friend of mine is preparing to leave six years worth of a teaching career in Germany, and to return to the states. When he went to the bureaucrats to fix his paperwork, they told him that he needed a certain form. He insisted that for six years, he'd never used such form. "Yes you have," they said. I LOVE that. I love that, because BOTH he AND they are telling the truth.
Look around the blogosphere these days in the ashtanga world: know what I see when I do that? Trips to hither and yon, workshops, adventure, travels in the mind and body. Then I look past the computer to the table, the windows, the bassinet set up in the living room, the two carseats that live under this table, and inevitably I hear either soft crying and whining OR some singing to keep said crying and whining from happening. Yes, I'm not touching my feet by myself in Kapotasana these days. But I am doing seventh series. Okay, sure. Now, do those correspond? What's the translation? Am I doing something harder, more noble? Do I "get the points"? Or what's that I feel, mad jealousy that OTHER people get the workshops, the travel, the summer scene that a year ago I TOLD MYSELF that I too would have?
Well surely I can put my asana practice on hold, yes? Surely the fact that I really only get to practice when I'm NOT IN THE HOUSE is enough, yes? Saturday morning power yoga, Tuesday eve power yoga, Monday night Intermediate series? Is that enough? Wednesday-Thursday-Friday tend to be impossible for asana practice. I NEVER know if there's enough time and I REGULARLY feel guilty for taking an hour or two from J, and my nerves frazzle when I hear crying from the backyard.
"Stop taking time for yourself! Serve your seventh series!" It's the voice of some anonymous authoritarian, all of whom I thought I'd killed years ago. What is this inner priest, this cop?? May 1968 graffito: "Kill your inner cop!" Indeed, but as with all revolutionaries, we have to watch out that we don't end up doing nothing but killing our enemies...Che to Stalin in one turn....
What is meditative about seventh series? The pacing with a 9-pound baby sling over my shoulder? The ease of my own breathing in the hope that it will communicate to the squirming infant in the 2 am bassinet? Fixation on the target of coherently teaching people, when the night before, there's FOUR HOURS of whining, screaming, wiggling, and refusal to sleep on the part of the infant whose crying WOULD BE CURED by the sleep he won't take?
Can a seven-week-old be IRONIC?
Why did we do this? I don't hate it, don't think I ever really HATED it. I haven't fucking LIKED it very much, though, I'll own THAT with both hands. We did this in a series of progressive steps. Last July J suggested that we take a risk of getting pregnant, and immediately I felt like I'd received a firm kick in the crotch. That clenching in the belly, real pain, hard to breathe; had to lie down on the floor and make it go away. "Maybe we'll talk about this later?" "MUCH motherfucking later," I said.
In August, we decided that really, since we were 40 and 38, maybe we couldn't do it at all, and so it would save us money on prophylactic measures, if we just discovered that we can't get pregnant. Well, since we were both raised by "don't do it til you want a kid" people (me more Catholically; she more in terms of birth control), having risk-of-pregnancy sex was DOWNRIGHT hot. Very erotic stuff. Just like Foucault says: if you make it a secret, it becomes sexualized. This had NOTHING to do with sensation and EVERYTHING to do with psychology. People who discount the mind as a sex organ are utter and total idiots.
By the first week of September, we were late and she felt sick in the morning. I said, "Well you know what they say about that in the literature." And ever since then, it's been what Jason once called "plenty of time for meditation."
And now a year later, it's "put me in the bassinet and I will immediately wiggle and cough-sputter-sob," and I mean, in SECONDS of contact. This kid wants to either be put in a womb-like environment ALL THE TIME, or else it's sobbing, crying, unhappiness. True, he looks around more, is fascinated with the turn of books' pages and windows and light, and is more quiet than he was three weeks ago, but when it comes to sleep, he reacts as if it's terrifying, as if it's a sort of loss.
So just when we want peace, we get noise. Just when we want ease, we get sobbing, upset, complaints, and they are ABOUT that peace and ease.
Again: can a seven-week-old be IRONIC?????
"To the warrior, the child is MYSTERIOUS and INCOMPREHENSIBLE." Fuck yeah! This single sentence keeps me on target some days. I think of this and I realize that the world is not going fucking insane, and that that godforsaken sobbing noise is NOT the last thing I'll ever hear before I go fucking nuts in the SHOCK CORRIDOR.
Nesting in, for the record, is fucking NOT FOR ME. Sure, I do it. I serve, because in seventh series, you serve. But this endless introverted so-called "honeymoon" (one fucking audacious book actually CALLED IT THAT!!!) is fucking BULLSHIT. It's basically, stay with your tormentor, get bad sleep, make a fucking irrecoverable mess out of your house, occasionally run out to get groceries for feeding yourself, and then try to balance the crying-to-quiet ratio with someone whose idea of a good time is fucking STARING AT WINDOWS. It's like watching someone have a catatonic acid trip and having to deal with them when they bust out crying over some incomprehensible flashback they can't ever explain to you in fucking ENGLISH.
But I do all of this anyway, because the service is NOT TO BE REFUSED. It CAN'T BE. This isn't an obligation from without; it's from within, and that doesn't keep me in the LEAST from bitching my ass off about it.
A newborn totally WRECKS interpersonal relating literature. Let me explain. What I'm coming from is a book like PASSIONATE MARRIAGE, or HOW TO BE A COUPLE AND STILL BE FREE (yeah, back in the 2003 days, that was where it was at). The guidelines are to possess your own jealousy, if any, and to always STAND even when you LEAN to give support. The basic idea is that only the independent can TRULY give support and love, without setting up some fucked indebtorship or metaphysical justice idea. Coming from a fucked relationship that was made of debts to others that I was made to (but could never, not EVER) pay, this stuff was sexy as hell to me.
Now newborns, they fuck this up completely. A newborn is ALL NEED, ALL THE TIME. He does not negotiate, cannot be patient, has no reciprocity, shows no gratitude, is incapable of taking no for an answer, EVER, and cannot convey the desires that he so desperately needs you to meet, and you MUST meet them, no matter how irrational or impossible they may be. You HAVE to do what he asks for or else he will split your fucking eardrums open.
Speaking of which: do you know that newborn crying can reach EIGHTY MOTHERFUCKING DECIBELS? That's as loud as a fucking LAWN MOWER. Hey, next time someone tells you how sweet and nice babies are, try to imagine tucking a motherfucking LAWN MOWER into the crook of your arm.
I CANNOT get used to this sustained disorientation. It's not disabling, but it is consistently random to the point where I'm NEVER comfortable in my own life anymore. It IS, as the quote above said, "mysterious and incomprehensible." And this is coming from a fucking CONNOISSEUR of disorientation. I know Rimbaud's famous quote about "one must undergo a systematic disorientation of the senses to become a seer." I remember the 3-day bender that started with psychedelic mushrooms, led to a red wine passout and then ended with a free tab of acid from a friend. I've read the Kerouac, and I've FELT myself "bounce off" the deep end of consciousness. I have been AROUND that motherfucking corner.
BUT THIS, I cannot get used to!!!!
Every day of this is SO MOTHERFUCKING WEIRD. That's what books don't tell you; it's all "developmental strategies" and "do you have a fussy baby" and such. Great. But even when they quote parents saying, "Your life will never be the same again!" that does NOT capture the FUCKING WEIRDNESS of it all.
I live with a small organism that has the emotional complexity of, maybe, a tortoise. But he's human and I have to pour love and, as possible, human intelligence, into him so that later, wonderful things will bloom. See how philosophically "Christian" this is? On the one hand, we always live in the present tense, where he will piss himself at least five times a day, and scream about every one of them. But on the other hand, all of the love and devotion is so that we can get something LATER. It is a state of FUTURE PROMISE, and I motherfucking HATE living in future promise.
Some of his unhappiness is because he's not warm, closed-in and moving enough; i.e., he's not in the womb. So basically, he's unhappy because of EVOLUTION. Who in their right fucking mind would ever say, "MAKE ME A FUCKING AMPHIBIAN AGAIN!! I WANNA BE A FROG OR I'M GOING TO HOWL MY ASS OFF!!" Who the fuck thinks like that? Newborns do.
But again, it's not disabling and most of the time, it doesn't make me angry, although the boy does have the ability to burn through my patience in about ten minutes when he's determined. I'm better with him after asana practice, which again, in his ironic disguise, his presence does not permit me to do.
In a way there is something marvelous (in the Surrealist sense) about living in permanent discombobulation. But it's also terrifying, all the time. So sure, he's cute, but I see the dark razor's edge of this disorientation. All the time. It's a bit like the job market, seeing myself on a thin stone bridge next to a ball of rolling flame. It's a bit like dissertation, seeing myself closer and closer to Kafka's wonderful language-imprinting punishment machine. With time running out. It's a bit like paying off loan debt, always seeing the swishing Edgar Allen Poe pendulum, passing closer and closer.
And this disorientation is promised for at least the next 18 years or so. With all the generalizations about joy and whatever, they REALLY need to include the fact that parenting will DRIVE YOU INSANE. They really need to say that out loud.