morning light @ the lake
Spring was late arriving, though, in all fairness, winter was mild.
Seasons have developed the habit of turning into the next all too rapidly in my new, New England, evidenced at The Lake, my euphemism for a sweet, shallow, solitude.
I can remember a time when the color of the day was just the backdrop for a mood. The blues of the lake are slate, and the trunks of the trees are gray. The rhododendrons are green and thick and waxy.
Here and there a yellow daffodil, or traces of a forsythia, can be seen among the naked branches. Nothing is stretching. Nothing is really alive, yet, nothing is really dead either.
Sanctuary sounds of spring are more boastful than its colors in many Aprils. Like a Gregorian Mass, birds sing a more fragrant tune as the shrubbery yearn for more rain and larger, warmer, drops of sun. The chant is more engaging than the sermon.
There is a chair on the deck of this woodland cottage;
and at 10:30 the sun will drench it in a warm bath of sunlight.
I move with the angle of the sun.
Spring seems redundant.
I have seen my share.
They all become autumn.
Life, the slight dash between these two warning seasons,
A color of sadness remains long after the sun has given The Lake its new hue.
I look up from where ‘my pen teems
my gleaming brain’, and a whisper of life enters.
The skin catches the changes first,
then the eyes take it in, soon you are the new season, you are the yellows, the aquas,
and the deeper blues, and like the trees and the shrubs, you yearn for droplets of sun to saturate the season with color.
— To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
We suffer from passions about a divided mind, and about the illustrations and conceptions we make and give to ourselves to help us understand the human nature that we are. Western Civilization gave us a very conflicting sense of human nature when the papacy crowned kings and queens with divinity. Monarchs, in governmental matters, had an absolute power that made them right by nature of who they were, and to whom they were born. “On earth, as it was in heaven,” mankind proclaimed; and the 1% have been the law and the lawyers to this day.
As commoners, we have been looking for our divine natures ever since. Religiosity did no favor to our species. Governed by powers that professed to see all, we have grown egos that aspire to divine nature instead of human nature. Governments, in the name of god, created a hell on earth where all the abominations of “man’s inhumanity to man” were flogged and raped in the public square of humiliation and fear. Our Human Nature is closer to chipmunks and elephants and trees and rivers and lakes than it is to angels and gods…we are earthlings, not celestial beings.
We fear what has been passed down to us as visions of hell. and our visions of inflicted pain, most particularly brought on by greed and power. Even a cursory reading of Shakespeare, or other authors from middle ages and before, render us cold to see that hell was man’s creation. It was never gods. Divinity was used by the powers of man to cultivate an arena of sheep that could be led anywhere by the most unholy of shepherds. Was it evil, or was it evolution? Is evolution evil?
We are a part and parcel of nature and human nature. We can and should look at it with awe and reverence for its sheer mystery and beauty, but it is important to note that it does not look back at us. Mindfulness and consciousness can create truth and beauty, but not divine infinity. We are only human. We serve lust and aggression with the cold inaccuracies of nature as our guide. Kingdoms in other realms, populated with angels and old friends, and we at the right hand—well that may look like gold, but fools gold also glitters in the sun.
Prayer works, not because there are angels, but because we are human. Prayer, (another word for desire) is that internal activation of yearnings; it is psychic energy. The energy cathects to a thing or a cause represented by a word or an image and sublimates all other desires to that object.
A cool, late winter morning,
–the signs of spring in red budded tree tops,
and the gently moving yellow of the willows.
A narcissist bud is begging the sun to penetrate
its delicate membrane and impregnate it
with the energy of birth,
the bitter/sweet connection, the periodic table, the elements with which it breaths.
Narcissism ought not to be shy,
it lives with the same birth right as the lilac, blooming in the door-yard, by the Brooklyn Ferry, by Emerson’s Rhodora,
And the transcendentals,
Who failed to thrive one hundred years ago or more.
This gives me not my warm kindness.
I lie in state, conscious, but vulnerable with no object.
The damp wood smells slightly of a spring bog,
while the snow melts around the granite stone,
the only rock of ages that have been clef-ed for me.
The post card reads, wish you were here…
To which I reply, “yes! wish I was here with me as well.”
And, another morning kisses my eye lids
with colorless gray ideas,
with a forgotten hopefulness that you will one day return with your spoils of war.
Blessed art thou, Penelope, for you have inherited the yarn of time.
Go forth, you who are young in heart; the inheritance is short lived,
and we must, all, take the test of time, despite,
that we shall never pass it.
Mindfulness in psychoanalysis
This web-log, “the poet analyst,” is prompted by my recent appreciation for the work of Adam Phillips a British literary psychoanalyst and literary essayist. Phillips uncanny writing bridges a gap between psychoanalysis and literature that fascinates my most personal clinical experiences. He approaches analysis as a body of literature, perhaps a literary genre. He is both stylistic and profound. His twists, and turn of thought, in one complete sentence, often feels like a thrill ride through a garden of words.
From the start, Phillips engages the reader in lesser known writings of Freud. In one case he discusses an issue of literature using a 1908 Freud article on Creative Writing as an extension of childhood play.
Whatever else psychoanalysis is, it is a body of literature, an expanding body of literature that touches poetry at one end and neuro-biology at the other. It may even touch the stars in some way, and likewise, touches the darkest canyons of the contemporary mind.
In literature, the words are the clues to everything. Phillips makes a point that psychoanalysis has replaced god, and our religion is one in which we worship “The Word,” a delightful play on words if nothing else. Not a bad beginning from which to weave a tale about our origins in a time when the science or art controversy goes on as the culture develops.
There is a kind of “worshipping the word” fundamentalism to psychoanalysis and its appeal to a particular sub-group of society known for its participation in the liberal arts. A psychoanalysis is an arrangement of narratives, dialogues, monologs and cryptically deceptive word use attempting to rearrange mental concepts into acceptable, if not enjoyable, mental conceptions of the human condition–in general and in particular.
The mind is a linguistic phenomenon organized around both acquisition and competency. A human infant is born with a capacity to learn a language, or several languages, in the earliest years of living. The perception and organization of our world are translated into symbolic cues that make up the language that the infant is born into. In this way, the language learning shapes the early world of emerging perception. Language emerges with infant development. One end of the spectrum is pre-linguistic and the other end is oratory and literature. Learning is thus a guide-post for mental formulations, the unique manner in which custom, ability, & environment converge upon the psyche and becomes the result of understanding, or a resulting conception of chaos and conflict–the unorganized mind.
From a New Yorker article, Phillips quotes Randall Jarrell, who he has said was the main object of his literary study before he switched to psychoanalysis: “The way we miss our lives is life.”
In his book, Missing Out, Phillips takes up the notion of what we might call the overly-analyzed mind. The near OCD of chasing the next right view, the next right manner, the next right perspective–all in the name of having a better life to live rather than living the life that we have.
Going back to Freud, Phillips reminds us that an analysis does not bring happiness or conflict-free existence, it might not even bring clarity. But if these are not the golden ends of an analysis, what is the golden end? It is no wonder that Phillips turns to the literature of the ages for his clues about the human condition. He is equally comfortable in the world of Othello as he is in the world of Winnicott. Phillips is a writer, a literary essayist that uses the tenants of psychoanalysis as a pushing-off point to study the intricate machinations of our clever mental capacity, the divided mind in the active and the passive voices of the ego, the self, and the id.
Joan Acocella* in The New Yorker piece titled, This is your Life: A psychoanalytic writer urges to just deal with it, Acocella writes:
I also sense in this argument of Phillips’s an objection not just to our self-delusions but to the psychoanalytic know-it-all-ism that he described in “Terrors and Experts”: the beady eye, the knowing better than you do what your thoughts are, the readiness, if you object, to say that this is just your defenses speaking. Instead, Phillips seems to believe that psychoanalysis should be not so much an inquiry as an interesting conversation.
Dr. A. L. Dussault,
If only I were a heron, I would wake the world
with a cry of joy that the rivers and the forests
and the streams were here for me to employ. I would
open my eyes and look at the closest thing to me
and I would say, Good Morning: I Love You.
If only I were a heron, I would waddle slowly
through the grasses and I would dip my wings
in the holy waters and I would thank the gods for the
wonderful world that they created for me. I would
slowly lift my spirit and my wings would, with a
deep and heavy flapping, lift me above the riff
that is the earth, and I would glance down and
glimpse the wonders that were mine for the taking.
If only I were a heron I would cast a shadow over
the water below me and I would watch as I became
a miracle in flight. If only I were a heron, my life
would flow timelessly through space and my instincts
would guide me even as I had no consciousness of gods.
If only I was a heron; and, “if-only,” only worked like a dream….