Lacking An Antidote.

Realize we’re almost as bad
as those who don’t value
life beyond their own
hollow shells at all.

You see, you can’t feed their need
without bleeding yourself dry.

And serving the self in the sense
of sustaining survival is a prerequisite to all
potential goals in life but one

(which is the only one,
if you take time to consider it,
that does not ultimately act
to postpone the only true inevitable),

and so the prerequisite
provides the most optimal route and, yes,
it acquires such paranoid safeguards,
particularly in the midst
of so many clear criminals.

So it is,
so it shall reamin,

at least till all is fair,
till we all gain from our pain
opposed to just trading it,

playing this

silly game of musical chairs
we call empathy,
as if to satiate ourselves
in the liberating taste
of a flavor of suffering unfamiliar.

If only more pain beyond our own,
its not home,
we’re not alone…

making and dwelling and sharing and throwing
the same old filthy shit.

Its an enlightening,
however sadomasochistic,
group juggling act
and dance of lost hope.

So it is,
so it shall reamin,
lacking an antidote.

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Forget Me Not (Senex II).

Grasping for an explanation in the beginning, the concept of repression was there for the taking. These events in my life were simply too bizarre, I had thought, and my puny human mind couldn’t take it in. The trauma was too great, and so I buried them in the catacomb beneath my consciousness, built a wall of fear between this horror and I. This wall had held for nearly a decade until it began to crack, bleeding out fragments of memory from the other side, finally flooding my consciousness. However shattered, scattered, and frustratingly incomplete they were, these memories were only delivered in this fashion out of my own unconscious mercy. My conscious inner strength, once built to a sufficient level, will render me capable of conjuring up the remaining memories for integration and I will finally bring my true, inner self to bathe in the eager light of my conscious awareness. I will finally know the truth and be whole again.

Alas, ’twas all fly-infested bullshit. This frightening fact I came to face early on in my journey through utter confusion, once the deeper message underlying the events of February first, 1995, struck me like a ton of shit-bricks from the heavens.

Hyped up that night, as so many nights, on caffeine so I would not be caught vulnerable in sleep, I eagerly read in my room until roughly four in the morning. Having grown increasingly restless, I decided to put my books away and do something else, and in the process submitted to the urge to just pace about my room to burn off some tension in an aimless daze. In so doing, and without realizing it, I went to push in the chair at my art desk. Whether it was due to my hyperconscious state or something else, I do not know, but I stopped myself just as I put my hands on the chair and just examined this urge that was rising up from within me. It seemed strangely extreme and desperate. I then closed my eyes not to examine it so much as become receptive to it, let it overtake me and reveal its motive in the process. Marinating my mind in awareness of the emotion, I slithered by way back to its roots.

Despite its brevity, it burst before my mind’s eye as a vivid, single-frame recollection saturated with emotional intensity. For a moment I saw myself again, in that damned loft bed I had when I was younger, looking down into the darkness of my room. I was filled with this tremendous, paralyzing fear. As I felt it surge through me, dominate me, I realized my younger eyes were fixated downward, down upon the chair pushed out from my desk. As with the desk, the chair was made out of stained wood. It had a cushion of black, brown and white yarn. I stared down at it with those horrific emotions swelling in me, strangling me as I tried to burn that image into my mind, brand it in my brain for use as a psychological bookmark, a beacon calling for conscious recollection. Determined not to forget what had just happened, I repeated to myself over and over the mantra, “You will remember, you will remember, you will remember…”

As I contemplated the strange memory, my mind suddenly brought back a strange behavior I’d enacted for years. Everywhere I went I had the compulsion to push in chairs. Whenever I had gone to bed I found it absolutely necessary to push in all chairs in the room before I even attempted to go to sleep. If I for some reason forgot, I would notice upon laying down and have to get up out of bed to push it in. Oftentimes I’d go as far as placing a chair outside in the hallway and closing my bedroom door, just so I didn’t have to look at it. I remember that my parents had questioned me about it and I never really had any good excuses to offer. In retrospect, it bothered and amazed me that I had never even thought twice about it.

Clearly it stemmed from this memory, but all I had to work with was a single-frame snapshot. Try as I might, I could not recall what it was that I had burned with such passion to remember, only that I had wanted so desperately to remember it. A bookmark I had made myself, sticking out of a locked diary that rightfully belonged to me. My frustration with trying to determine, much later on, what the focus on that chair was meant to suggest led me to wonder if my unconscious, for some unknown reason, was teasing me with no intention of ever providing the entire package.

It was not until I saw the connection with a dream I had only a little over a month later, on March 13th, that I was provided with some suggestion as to what the incident regarding the chair may have actually entailed. After I awoke, I wrote in my dream diary that my family and I had gone to the church that we had gone to when my Uncle Milton had died. As we were walking down some stone sidewalk outside the church, a strange woman approached me and offered me tortillas and bean dip. Then, evidently after taking her up on her offer, I remembered an incident in a hotel room that had the same loft bed and chair I used to have in my childhood room. While in this hotel room, I had seen or heard something that I was not meant to, and all I could recall regarding it is that it had something to do with the Doctor.

The first peculiar thing that struck me about the dream was that despite his old age, my great Uncle Milton was alive and well, living in Pennsylvania at the time of the dream, and would not pass away until years later. Such a church could not, then, exist. The objective inaccuracy of my dream-context memories does not end with my uncle and the church, either; no such hotel room existed, of course, bearing the furniture from my childhood room. Presuming for the moment that there is indeed meaning behind dreams: why did my unconscious elect the church and hotel settings for the false memories?

In dreams, a default setting might be provided by a generic room in an unknown house or building, but in some cases, particularly when a dream emphasizes a specific locale, it appears to me to have symbolic significance. When the room or building draws attention to itself or suggests a definite location, especially when that location was otherwise unnecessary information given the narrative, these might serve as red flags calling fourth a closely-scrutinizing inner eye.

Houses function as symbols of the conscious personality, at least in my case, and basements and secret passageways or rooms often denote the unconscious aspects of the conscious personality. Churches are, of course, generally associated with worship and faith, and despite the early state of semi-atheism I was in at the time and my negative view of churches, the church in the dream did seem to convey a sense of solemn spirituality — solemn no doubt due to the associations with it and my uncle’s death. If we are to presume that the church functions in a sense related to houses, which are symbols of the conscious personality, perhaps the church references the true, inner self or soul, or the Self, as Jung would have called it. It may represent our spirituality or our genetic, social and psychological roots.

As for the strange woman, motherly in the sense that she was providing nourishment for me outside of a church, she would be seen through the Jungian eye as a manifestation of the more divine qualities of my anima, the feminine aspect of the male personality, which typically acts as a guide to the unconscious. In this particular dream, she evidently did so by means of offering up food, reminiscent of the Alice in Wonderland “eat me” scene. Why the tortillas and bean dip specifically, however? My immediate reactions show associations with celebration, such as a party of some sort. Though I have always had a certain fondness for Mexican food for as long as I can remember, I recall no memorable incident involving this food specifically.

Dreams don’t only seem to draw off of personal events in one’s life, however, but subtler things that consciousness might be apt to overlook — such as the associations spawned by our idioms, popular phrases, expressions, figures of speech and so on. This angle seems to make the most sense, given the results: corn makes me think of the ear, given the whole “ear of corn” phrasing, and beans make me think of “spilling ones beans,” or telling a secret. After eating the tortillas and bean dip, I recalled an incident where I heard (“ear” of corn) something I was not supposed to hear, or saw something I was not supposed to see. In either case, what I had overheard was evidently a secret: the act of someone spilling their beans. It may be a stretch, perhaps into left field, but those are the only associations out of the few I can consciously conjure that seem to make any sense.

After my snack, I evidently imploded into a memory regarding an incident that occurred in a hotel room that, strangely, had the loft bed and chair from my childhood bedroom. The setting of a hotel room does not suggest furniture from my old bedroom, nor does my furniture conjure from default anything remotely resembling a hotel room. This leads me to believe that these specific elements were conjoined in the dream for a specific reason, perhaps one that can only be discerned by analyzing the conjoined elements separately and then trying to find some relation between them at their roots, despite the seeming absurdity of their mutual presence on the surface.

As a temporary residence (or “ego”), the hotel room might represent a transitory state, thus echoing the theme of death associated with the church: as a last rite of one’s life, it would be, along with birth, one of the two most major states of transition during life. When the hotel room in a dream serves as the meeting place for two or more parties, however, it would seem to instead (or additionally) represent a neutral location where neither party is on the other’s turf. The hotel room, if you believe popular culture, serves this purpose for exclusively illicit activities, such as covert meet-ups between criminals, where deals between paid killers and their employers take place. The hotel room is where cheating asshole husbands meet up with the women they’re using as their secret side project or rented product to exhaust their junk’s spunk for seed-spraying. It’s where people hold people for ransom, where people hide when they’re on the run. More than just some ordinary room made out of wood and serving as a pit-stop for the traveler, it serves as the all-purpose, wooden segue of the underground. Whenever I read the dream again, my mind’s eye receives a flash of the dark and shadowy hotel room from the dream, and it seems to reflect these associations of hotel rooms as secret meeting places for covert activities. To me, it almost seemed like a scene out of a mobster movie, or when secret government agents are threatening a witness.

This only serves to reflect what I had recalled going on within the room between the Doctor and I: namely, that I had seen or heard things that I was not meant to. This was the same impression I had gotten in my first flashback experience in both the portion involving the presumably real memory and the end, which seemed to serve as a screen memory: he was trying to distract me from things going on behind him. This dream, however, offers no clear answer as to what might have been heard or seen in that hotel room. Strangely, however, the dream did specify that the room had the old loft bed from my youth, as well as the chair that had surfaced in a flashback the previous month. Why those specific items, as opposed to generic ones? Out of all possible choices, why did the dark of my mind elect to weave these elements together into a dream?

I had looked down at the chair from my loft bed in the chair flashback, which could indicate the dream was referencing that incident. With respect to me having seen or heard something involving the Doctor that I was not supposed to, however, the dream seems to be at the same time referencing the incident depicted in the Doctor flashback. The dream could be suggesting that both flashbacks were of the same incident: they had found me under the bed, taken me away, and then placed me back in my bedroom, paralyzed as I struggled to remember it all by chanting affirmations to myself.

Shortly after the chair flashback, I thought that perhaps I could trigger the rest of the memory. My youngest sister had inherited that chair from me and within days I examined it, but seeing it, smelling it, even running my fingers across the wood and fabric brought back nothing to me. All I could recall was laying in bed, swelling with fear and staring down at that chair pushed out from that desk on the opposite wall of my old room as I chanted to myself that I would remember.

Now I made a conscious effort to leave chairs pushed out. It was amazing how difficult it was. Whatever had happened to me that night on my bunk bed had followed me around ever since. I’d stared so intensely at that chair and chanted over and over to myself to remember, and had been so fearful at the time, that I came to associate the intense, negative emotions with the event (whatever it was) with the image of the chair pushed out from the desk. The level of effort I put fourth in burning the image of that chair into my mind, the sense of effort that the image of the chair permitted me to recall, the overwhelming degree of fear I felt coursing through my body and which came to embody that image of the chair as a consequence — it was nothing less than a real event of an incredibly horrible and highly unusual quality, I felt certain of it. Still, I accepted the fact that for all I knew the chair may have just been a convenient prop which had little to nothing to do with what it was I wished to remember, however. It may have just been an attempt at making a familiar object stand out like a sore thumb, acting as a trigger which would later make the memory of the object and the projections of that fear act as a signpost readily accessible to consciousness.

The real question behind my act of staring at that chair and repeating my mantra, “you will remember, you will remember,” over and over is, of course, just why on earth I felt so certain that I would forget whatever it was I wanted to remember in the first place — a certainty that burned so strong in me at the time that I felt the desperate need to create a visual, emotionally-laden bookmark for the memory in a desperate, determined effort to circumvent the amnesia. In other words, this didn’t sound like dissociation or repression at all, at least not as a natural, psychological mechanism. What suddenly became clear to me was that these memories had instead been locked up inside of me by some external force and, as the incident with the chair strongly implied, evidently against my wishes to the contrary. It was not that my unconscious was teasing me with the briefest previews of truths it was hiding from me, like some cat torturing a mouse. Instead, my unconscious seemed to be trying to wear down the boundaries between us to deliver these memories, doing all it could to bridge the chasm by pushing them through a post-hypnotic wall placed between us ten years before by what I could only conceive as a malicious external force.

Dream-Cake and Power Animals (Dream: 6/01).

Give the unconscious the bucket of complex ingredients you’ve gathered and it will bake you a dream-cake. No assembly required; recipe not necessary. Playfully poke your unconscious and call him Pillsbury.

I stumbled across this phenomenon sometime in June of 2001, after I had moved back in with my parents again. Through the internet I had come across an informative site on Neopaganism, which I had been curious about at the time. From there I followed a link to a site on Shamanism, where I read up on simple rituals that I could comfortably visualize myself enacting. Ultimately this led me to reading up on the concept of power animals, which I had only previously heard of through watching The Maxx on MTV at the time. As I read, I began wondering what my own power animal would be, and then began mentally noting and checking the descriptions of all the animals that had played a recurring, if not symbolic role in my life: the bunny, the duck, the turtle. Was it any of these, I wondered? I never came to any sort of conclusion, of course, but the following night one seemed to be delivered to me in a dream that was so intense it awoke me. From my dream diary:

“It is dark. I am walking or running when I felt something touch me on my side. I stopped and looked at some person to my right and a little behind me, perplexed by the look on his face. He was also trying to figure out what it was, or so it seemed. When I turned to look at it and saw it, we both instantly knew what it was: a snake was wrapping itself around me. I saw it first when it was on my side near my arm, but it slowly slithered underneath my cloths and started wrapping itself around my body. Its tail almost strangled me as it was around my neck, but it didn’t. I began to freak out quite a bit when I found that it was crawling down my pant leg. I tried to stay calm, because the last thing I wanted was this thing to bite me, and perhaps poison me. I tried to guide it down my pant leg by applying a slight pressure with both my fingers on either side of where it was, hoping that it would take the chance to go down and out my pant leg rather than back up. A few times while doing this it moved its head upward with strength. I held my breath, because I thought perhaps it was pulling back in order to stick its teeth in my skin, but it never did. I shook myself awake out of fear. I could almost feel where it had been around my body, and it crept me out. It was 4:30 PM and apparently I’d slept through both alarms.”

Though I cannot be sure that the snake was not of the power animals I had read about the previous night, even if it was I cannot help but attach significance to the presence of such an intense dream involving a snake directly afterward. Allegedly, experiments have shown that conscious thought overrides unconscious thought as well as unconscious conclusions. When one is stuffed with all the relevant data, contemplates it all that one can and then goes to sleep or successfully deflects their conscious attention to another task, one incubates this data in the unconscious, which subjects it to parallel processing and delivers it through a dream, an intuitive hunch, or similar means. The means by which the whole snake dream occurred would more specifically be considered an unintentional act of “dream incubation.”

Accepting, for the sake of argument, that this was an unconscious answer to a conscious question, what does the snake or serpent as a power animal indicate, what does it mean to and allegedly for me?

In the sense of associations derived strictly from personal experience, I can only consciously find reference to two incidents, one from childhood and the other some time after the dream. When my sisters and I were young, we would always listen to this one song that described a man being slowly squeezed and then eaten by a huge boa constrictor, and it was a favorite of ours. This has pretty clear connections with the dream circumstance, I think its safe to say. The only other experience connected with snakes that I can consciously recollect occurred, as I said, sometime after I had the dream. It was when I was still living with my parents and had to go to the side of the house to smoke a cigarette. As I was sitting there on a chair smoking my morning cigarette and drinking my first cup of coffee, I turned to find a snake sitting perfectly still and staring at me. I stared back and we seemed to have locked eyes for an eternity, sharing some infinite moment until we both just naturally broke our mutual gaze. He calmly slithered away and I resumed my sips and drags.

Aside from direct personal experience, there were some conscious knowns at the time of the dream. Amidst my paranoid reading in high school, I had read a good portion of the Earth Chronicles series by Zecharia Sitchen, who made some rather controversial claims derived from his interpretation of ancient Sumerian cuneiform tablets. This controversy only picked up when he was no longer one of the few to subject the tablets to interpretation and those among him did not agree with his allegation that the Sumerian gods were extraterrestrial colonizers from an as-of-yet undiscovered planet in our solar system. That said, his views on the symbol of the serpent echo the research of others and this was when I was first exposed to it. Regardless, what I gleaned from him and similar sources (such as William Bramley’s Gods of Eden, which I read around the same time) brought me to adopt particular conscious associations with the snake as a symbol for healing, wisdom, knowledge, secrecy, as well as death, rebirth and transformation.

These associations undoubtedly stuck so well in my mind because they only reinforced what I had no doubt unconsciously picked up from the culture. The medical professions always use the symbol of the caduceus, of the staff around which two serpents are coiled, making powerful associations between the snake and all the aforementioned qualities consciously noted through my reading.

There are also more literal associations that have since caught my eye. It is my tendency to stuff myself with data to the point of overload and then run away to chew, swallow, digest, throw my shit and grow through it like a strange little monkey. Choosing the snake as a metaphor here works perfectly: the snake squeezes then slowly swallows and digests its meal whole, rendered incapacitated in the interim. The snake builds on this theme in even greater perfection it another one its characteristics tendencies, at least in how I recall reading the details regarding a snake shedding its exoskeleton. Consider this dead skin representative of any number of things: ideas, emotions, beliefs, information, masques we don for the social realm. It slithers out of its dead skin with new skin hypersensitive to stimuli, much as I get hypersensitive in my periods of emotional or intellectual overload periods. In order to fully regenerate and once again find its strength, the serpent retreats, isolating itself in a dark, warm place until ready to emerge, interact, and bathe its cold blood in the social sun once again. Sounds fitting enough.

Given that the culture in which I’m embedded is a predominantly Christian one, however, there is no question my viewpoint was left tainted by the religion’s influence, no matter how ruthless my atheism. Perhaps uncovered but certainly amplified by Freudian analysis, the serpent’s association with sex given its phallic form is certainly a rampant one in the culture as well. Both these cultural forces serve to denounce the snake as evil and primal, tempting but venomous, alluring but lethal. The very cause of Man’s fall, they say. They dissuade empathy and understanding with the snake through generating fear. As a consequence, the associations with the snake as evil, dangerous and tempting were undoubtedly also influential here. The serpent or snake is the cosmic scapegoat among modern Christian minds.

This was not some form of doublethink for me, however, as my reading and contemplation offered a bridge, an understanding (I would argue) that the snake was denounced by our culture’s major religion for it offered individuality and personal freedom where our culture seems to feel that the shackles of conformity are of the greatest necessity. The serpent doesn’t have a leg to stand on, they say, and perhaps not, but despite that he manages to get along pretty well. Alongside my remaining conditioning, then, existed an intellectual understanding of the forces that shaped them. It seems rational to assume that any unconscious forces electing to use the serpent as a symbol would reflect that understanding, and in fact, it seemed to within the dream. As fearful and suspicious as I was of the snake, it neither strangled me to death or ever bit me to flood me with its venom.

I know at least at the end of the year of the serpent symbolism through Jung and my readings into alchemy, and I may have even known about the general concept of the kundalini through my readings into Tantra and the eastern religions. Aside from the snake’s behavior echoing in some way the Boa constrictor song from childhood, it also had allusions to kundalini, though in this case the snake was coiling around my body by entering the top of the body and slithering its way down. With the Hindu chakras in mind, perhaps this dream might be indicating that my power is found in being grounded or serving more basic needs. Quite a few flights down from where my attention was predominantly focused on the Maslow pyramid, to be sure.

Turns out it is also my birth totem and its qualities are synonymous with my astrological sun sign, Scorpio, nearly synonymous with the descriptions underlying my Chinese astrological sign, the Horse. Different languages, I suppose, but they all point to a joint meaning. In any case, it would appear that the snake is my unconsciously chosen metaphor for the basic qualities that define my personal power.

It’s a lot cooler than it could have been.

Triumph of Gravity.

Best to remember, accept who we were,
where we’ve been, so as not to obscure
who and where we are,

and to ascertain just where we’re going,
for just passed the cliff we draw ever-nearer
there’s a hell of a fall, and only
for so long can we convince ourselves
we’re flying

till hopes and bones are broken
in the triumph of gravity.

Drop the Bullets and Choke Me.

There is a beautiful girl I know who once asked me in a joking manner if I could kill someone, to which I quickly and confidently responded that given the appropriate circumstances, anyone could kill. Imagine you’re held up in a band by a gang of violent theives who take the five children in the place one by one and shoot them in the head. The executioner is now approaching your child. His back is to you, there is a gun within reach and you have a clear shot. Don’t try and tell me for a second you wouldn’t blast his brains all over the floor and ceiling.

Whether or not she agreed, she seemed to understand, and then asked me how I would kill somebody if I was angry enough to kill.

I thought a second. “I’d choke them to death.”

When she asked why, I explained that using a weapon such as a gun struck me as cold, distant and impersonal. Choking, on the other hand, was quite intimate. Close proximity to the victim was a necessity, and to choke the victim would take all of you, inside and out, and not just the momentary flick of a finger curled around the trigger of a gun. That is not to say that gun use cannot be a legitimate art, of course — for me, the movie Equilibrium displayed how the use of guns can be as high of an art form as foes wielding swords at one another. Like swords, guns function as an extension of the arm, and so an extension of the mind. The difference is that the gun seems to add distance between one and their target.

All tools or technologies (which are systems of tools) operate as extensions of the mind. Our most immediate technology is our body, through which we fashion and utilize other tools and technologies. In this case, the mind extends through the finger to the gun, which extends itself through the bullet, who is left to do the dirty work alone, at a distance away.

It echoes the issues with our power structure.

When I had to work beside the owner of the franchise I work for, I found him to be a friendly and easygoing guy, which didn’t jibe well with my preconceived notions of him being some vile demon at the top of the fast food chain. How could this pleasant fellow be the same guy that heightens the prices on the food with increasing frequency while eliminating raises for anyone aside from managerial staff? How could this man be the same sociopathic alpha ogre so anal-retentive about food waste and drive-thru times, who cut hours and reduced benefits? Like the Emperor of Star Wars fame, this man demanded the impossible.

Now in person, however, he seemed warm, empathic, practical. Caring and kind.

It took me some time to realize that what made this possible was the distance between the decisions he made and their execution, particularly due to the fact that he does not execute him. That is left to his underlings, his tools. His mind‘s automated extensions, let‘s say for the moment. It is hierarchy, the chain of command, that allows this kind man to sit atop us all with his dark diarrhea trickling itself down to the very base of the power structure in “just take this shit, then pass it down“ fashion. He doesn’t have to see the faces of the people he fucks over, he doesn’t even have to have met them at all or ever been within the range of sight of them, and so its no more real to him experientially than verbally issuing a command or writing a memo.

All the people between you and him evidently provide quite a cushion, too, as he seems to be resting perfectly easy at night.

Intimacy, violent or otherwise, requires exchange, direct contact as well as sincere and passionate involvement. The cold detachment of hierarchy only requires underlings. The cold detachment of a gun only requires ammo, good aim and a tense finger. Both are ultimately just extensions of the mind, of course, but more immediately they are extension of the hands — particularly in the gesture of a fist, or perhaps a pair of hands wrapping around your neck and aggressively applying pressure. People are always saying, “If you’re going to say it, say it to my face.” Similarly, one could say: “If you want it done, climb down off your pyramid of power and do it yourself.” Or, simply: “Just drop the damn bullets and choke me.”

Senex.

If it actually occurred, the first flashback I experienced in late 1994 or early 1995 must have derived from a experience that occurred in an eleven-month period bridging when I was of the ages of five and six. I know this because of the presence of my leg braces.

One of the curious things about the time in which I constituted a cripple is that I never recall a single occasion in which someone made fun of me, at least within earshot. In general, people either felt sorry for me or were fascinated. There was only one incident I recall in which I was picked on during that period, as a matter of fact, and I don’t believe that it had anything to do with my braces.

My mother belonged to a rabbit club, and every Christmas they would hold a meeting, usually at a church, where all the families would bring food and have a gift exchange. That Christmas of 1984, Eve and I drifted from the room full of grown-ups, who were all hanging out, chatting, and listening to music, and prowled the dark and vacant chapel together. We went about chasing each other around the pews, laughing and having a good time. Then we heard a bellowing voice yell. I looked up to see a tall, overweight guy considerably older than me. From the distance, he began chastising us aggressively for running around, telling us that we weren’t allowed to play in here.

That immediately rubbed me the wrong way. From the distance, I told him he wasn’t our boss and couldn’t tell us what to do. Needless to say, he didn’t like my rebellion any more than I had appreciated his illusions of authority, and he was bigger, and so when he approached me I took off like a hyped-up duck from straight out of hell, tail feathers aflame. Eve quickly escaped, likely taking off towards our parents in the other room, but I remained crawling beneath the dark pews, expertly escaping him again and again like a crippled ninja. So began an enduring game in which I was the Road-runner and he, Wylie Coyote. Though we shared breakneck speed through which we escaped our opponents, I was not nearly as confident and calm as that cartoon bird, as however entertaining the chase I could not overlook the fact that it had a certain edge to it. I knew if this guy caught me the result would not be pretty in the least.

When I felt confident he was no longer hot on my tail feathers, I emerged from my hiding place and ran into another room, through a door with a small window to the right. Inside, I found a small group of older kids sitting at a bunch of desks, just talking, writing and reading books. When they asked me who I was running from, I told them about who I then called “The Fat Guy.” They knew exactly who I was talking about, explaining him as the typical bully. As one kid kept a look-out through the porthole window in the door, the others politely engaged me in conversation, asking me about why I was wearing the leg braces. I gave them the whole ball-and-mitt, ice-cream-and-cone routine. They seemed like the nicest group of kids I had ever encountered, and I took them to be some reclusive group of intellectuals. They reminded me in many ways of the empathic, intelligent older kids who I talked to while riding the short bus to school.

Suddenly the kid who was functioning as the lookout told me that The Fat Guy was coming, and they all prompted me in desperate whispers to hide. On instinct and in the grips of sudden terror, I dropped to the floor and tried to scoot myself beneath a large bench. In the swift moment I was there, on the ground, scooting beneath that bench, I was flooded with a profound fear that seemed to propel me, for a moment, to another time and place. It was a terrorizing, lucid flash that seemed to last for the blink of an eye. Perhaps I may have had the full-sensory flashback right then and there, only a short time before that bizarre incident occurred, rather than over a decade later — but the frantic calls of the older kids in the room snapped me out of it. They told me that hiding under the bench wasn’t good enough, that he would see me, and they directed me towards a nearby closet.

That wasn’t the only time my unconscious seemed to be trying to send these memories back to me, either. At some point during the second grade year, our teacher had to take a leave of absence, at which time a substitute teacher came in to replace her for what I believe was the remainder of the year. It was a maternity leave, though so far as I know it was an unscheduled one, which seems strange, considering it should have been anticipated. Regardless, at some point after she took her leave I remember feeling ill during school. When I went down to the nurse’s office, however, I seemed incapable of describing to her what the problem was. I was only able to convey to her that my head felt strange, that I felt dizzy and confused and was unable to walk straight. Quickly, I picked up on the fact that this was not enough for her, and that she suspected that I was only faking an illness to get out of class, but she nonetheless permitted me to lay down on the cot she had in her office. Grabbing the white curtain around the cot, she drew it around me, concealing me from the office and the rest of the world, and there I lay alone, the nauseous feeling escalating, my mind spinning like a top. Though I would have no way of knowing it back then, what I was experiencing was almost drug-like, almost like a psychedelic experience. In tandem with the symptoms previously described, I began seeing strange, spinning visions in my head that were frighteningly vivid and horribly perplexing. In these visions, I found myself running around in this room at high speed, trying to find a way out. The room was dark and everything was draped in this eerie, red highlight. Chasing me around in the room were these creatures, these little monsters, that looked like demented versions of the Muppets, and one of them in particular I recall staring down at me with its big, buggy eyes, beneath which it wore a long, unearthly frown.

My parents were called and they took me home. I remember that I stayed in bed a lot, and my mother grew concerned due to the time I was taking off from school. I only recall that I felt depressed and frightened about something that seemed beyond my ability to explain. When my mother came into my room one day while I was in bed and confronted me, however, revealing that she knew I wasn’t sick and pressing me for some explanation, I didn’t know what to say. when she questioned as to whether it was the new substitute teacher I didn’t like, I figured that was as good an explanation as any, so I “confessed” to it. My mother seemed satisfied, and understanding, though she did say that I had to go back to school, and when I later asked her whether she told my teacher that I “hated” her, she said that she had told my teacher that I had problems adapting. That made me feel awkward for the rest of the time that we had her. What made matters worse was the fact that I couldn’t articulate what was truly wrong.

As a consequence of the Christmas memory, in the very least, I feel reasonably confident that the incident I would recall through a flashback must have occurred prior to that Christmas, and so sometime before December of 1984. I believe I can nail down an even more approximate time given what memories and emotions I’ve recalled when looking at two photographs from that time period.

In the first, I know I am at the house of my maternal uncle Fred, setting up where I’ll be sleeping on the one side of the bed of my Uncle’s stepson, pulling my comforter over what he designated to be my half of the bed. I’m wearing a matching black hooded sweat shirt and sweat pants, braces worn over them. Looking towards the camera, clearly not anticipating having a picture taken, what the photo caught like a fly in amber was this look in my eyes that has always haunted me. So much so, and for so long, that I can I recall the circumstances fairly well regarding the time it was taken, or at least have always suffered under the delusion that I do.

My sweat shirt and pants only reinforce my feeling that this scene took place before Halloween, as I remember having in mind how bitterly I had refused to go along with my mother and uncle’s suggestion that I dress up that year as a cowboy, and it was a conversation I believe they had that very day. I was already looking like a cowboy with that belt and the way I waddled around all bow-legged, and I knew that’s what they were both indicating. My feeling was that I did not want to draw attention, which seems at odds with the whole circumstance in kindergarten, which I would have been nearly two months into at the time. It would not have been the braces that would have put me in the intense, dark and withdrawn mood I remember having when that photo was taken. I know there was something plaguing me, something that I knew I could not share with anyone. Granted, this could have in fact been something mundane, such as the inability to communicate or connect at all with my mother or the fact that I had seen my friend and his siblings get beat by their father, both issues that were quite active at the time. It feels different, however.

The other photo was taken two weeks after Halloween, during my sixth birthday party in November. It was taken at Chuck E. Cheese and captured me and a classmate inside the mechanically lifting flying saucer with my friend Jimmy standing right beside it, looking at me warily as he toyed with his sleeve collar. I just feel a cloud hanging over my head that birthday. A dark uneasiness mixing together a certain fear and anger that separated me from everyone. It was the same feeling from the month before.

That was the same year, I believe, that I got permission to watch War of the Worlds, my favorite movie at the time. It was coming on television sometime just before Halloween, I remember, and I wanted desperately to watch it despite the fact that it was playing passed my usual bedtime. My father managed to talk my mother into allowing me to stay up to watch it as a sort of early birthday present. Often I’ve thought that if only I could gain access to a damned TV Guide archive, I could falsify or confirm this and, if confirmed, it could help me narrow down even further the date the incident may have occurred. Similarly, I cannot recall precisely when it was in 1994-1995 that I received a flashback of the incident in question. Strange indeed would it be if it were the case that I received the flashback on the anniversary of the actual incident, with exactly a decade between memory encoding and its retrieval.

It was either my birthday in November or that Christmas of 1994 when I received the lava lamp as a gift. By the time of the first two flashbacks, which came to me on a single night that autumn or winter, I had amassed quite a collection of peculiar memories from throughout my young life. They had begun flooding my young mind when reading the book Missing Time by Budd Hopkins, and they inspired several works of art in which I depicted various scenes from these memories and dreams. While these earlier memories are technically considered flashbacks, they were not nearly as intense. The flashbacks were of a qualitatively different nature. Less like spontaneous remembrances, these were more akin to re-experiences, almost as if some psychological form of time travel had come into play.

On the evening the memory in question came back to me, I was restless and unable to sleep. I propped my chin on my pillow and gazed about my room until my eyes fell on the lamp, watching the red lava contort in the yellow oil within the inverse cone of glass, and after a time I became quite literally entranced and fascinated with its sudden effects on my perception. My field of vision suddenly became like disturbed fluid, waving and rippling like water’s skin, and I then returned to looking around my dark room, curious and amused, my eyes brushing across the array of things eerily lit by the red glow from the lamp. Having found myself in such an odd and relaxed state, I thought I might just drift off to sleep, but before I got the chance to close my eyes my vision rested upon one of the books on my book shelf. It was my paper-back copy of HG Well’s War of the Worlds, and at the moment I saw it my mind seemed to explode inside my skull. I was drawn completely within myself.

I find myself with my belly to the floor, my leg braces on, hiding in the shadows beneath a bed. As I stare out into the room from beneath an overhang of blankets, I watch as these strange creatures scurry all about the room. Though I can only see up to their lower legs, it provides enough data with which to deduce that they are in no way human. At least some of them seem to only have three toes. I can hear as their feet pitter-patter across the carpet at high-speed. It seems as though they are examining things, going through items in drawers, lifting up things and placing them back down again.

However certain I feel that they have not the foggiest notion I am here, it doesn’t take me long to put together the fact that this is but a temporary convenience. Their survey of the room would inevitably lead to their discovery of my presence, and that realization came the dawn of true terror. What brought it up to the blazing position of high noon in a cloudless sky was my leg. My braces held my left leg in position alongside a foot-and-a-half long, one foot wide, three-inch tall tan-colored box embroidered with rows of tiny flowers. It was also jutting out from beneath the curtain of covers. In a panic, I swiftly scoot myself further under the bed, unfortunately not taking the time to factor in the limits of my mobility due to the braces. In a sudden, swift movement, my leg hit the box. The noise seemed so loud to me. Instantly, all the pitter-patter of feet and scuffling about ceased. The silence was deafening, penetrating. It was as if the cosmos had suddenly been put on pause. My face was caught in a wince. I had stopped moving. The thought of exhaling was horrifying.

Turning my head around, I look back at my leg, now extended far out passed the veil of sheets that drape over the edge of the bed. I see a pair of brown feet very close by. Again, I think each foot has three toes; now, however, they are aimed in my direction. My heart feels as if it is about to burst out of my chest when I see a hand reach down from above. It is the creature’s hand. The fingers are so long and wiry, so clearly inhuman, that they become an almost obsessive fixation of my attention. As they reach ever downward, my young mind is instantly reminded of the closing scene of the 1953 movie, War of the Worlds, where the alien hand slowly crawled out of the hatch at the bottom of the downed spacecraft.

Once those fingers touch my braced leg my eyes trail upward, taking in all I can regarding his appearance. I put all my might into trying to burn every detail of him from his feet to his face into my memory for the explicit purpose of being able to draw this creature some day when my talents were good enough. For some reason I feel certain that if I survive this encounter they will somehow try to make me forget, so I make a promise to not let that happen, to never forget that they exist, to never forget how real they are.

Ultimately, my eyes meet with a frightening, and somehow frighteningly familiar, brown-colored face etched with wrinkles. With his bottom lip pressed so tightly up against that small, monkey-like nose, he wears a deep-set frown, almost cartoon-like in its appearance. It seems to extend further down his face with every passing second, the wrinkles around his lips stretching, deepening as his chin raises. A yellowish-brown iris serves as the moat between the dead-white of each wide eye and the two rich black pupils aimed unerringly, with full intensity, into my own with what seemed to me to be a most disapproving glare. His pupils seem to act as vortices, as black holes into which my mind is drawn.

My mind, or so it feels, is now transparent to him, accessible to him, and he proceeds to explore it with as much speed and thoroughness as they had all been exploring the room only a short time ago. As he does this, I become absorbed in my mind, unable to perceive what is going on around me, watching as high-speed imagery flashes before my inner eye. It is as if someone else is working the switches of my mind, leaving me conscious in the midst of it like some spectator. As this goes on, he seems to be communicating to me. Strong, distinct impressions blast through me; transmissions of intuitive knowledge complimented by flashes of associated imagery. He tells me that they are scientists. He tells me that he is The Doctor, and that he is very old and very wise. He says that in some way he serves as a grandfather to me.

Consistent with the pattern up to this point in which every subsequent moment introduces something that trumps the strangeness of the last, my consciousness is suddenly thrust into what I can only describe as a virtual reality or waking dream. As certain as I am within this lucid dream, however, I am not the dreamer. I find myself on my back beside the edge of the bed, akin to the truth of the matter, though I am no longer looking up at the image of a frowning Doctor. While he still has that brown and wrinkly face of his, he now wears a pair of wide-rimmed glasses over his beady, raping eyes. In place of his long frown he now sports a smile, and it is exaggerated and creepy in a cartoon-like way. It could easily pass for the grin of the Cheshire Cat.

In his white lab coat, with a stethoscope around his neck and a clipboard in his long-fingered hands, the Smiley Doctor explains to me that they are just here to run some tests on me, just here to put me through a sort of check-up to make sure everything is going okay. Throughout it all, I am distracted by what he is saying, suspicious of him. Something in me knows this image of the Smiley Doctor is a facade; that it’s some image he has put in my mind to cover up for what it really going on. As realistic as the scenery seems, there is something off about it, some element that betrays it all. As he speaks to me mind-to-mind within the dream, through this phony image, I know that he is trying to distract me from what was going on behind him. Try as I might, however, I can see little more than a lot of movement, chatter and a lot of flashing points of light. The impression I get is that it isn’t for me to know or be concerned about. That I’m not supposed to see any of that.

It was at that point the first flashback ended, one of two I would have that same evening, ended, but I have come to wonder if there was more to that dream scenario with the Smiley Doctor; portions which may not have come along with the flashback because they were not subjected to amnesia but rather recalled shortly afterward in my youth, albeit in a form I labeled as a conventional dream at that time. Sometime after the flashback, I came across a small book which I had used as a dream diary when I was young. Upon its pages I found a number of the incidents I had already recalled, providing evidence that the incident had at least happened in my youth, if only as nothing more than dreams.

I also found three dreams in that dream diary which I had not yet recalled. In one of these dreams, I recorded that everything was pressed up against the wall, including myself, in the presence of this white, fluid light. In another, I described a shaft of light “from heaven” shot through my chest and began lifting me upwards, into the sky. Last but certainly not least, I recalled having a conversation with a “very old” and “very wise” being who, among other things, explained to me how he was several hundred years old.

Ever since I read it, I imagine the smiley Doctor sitting on a bench next to me in a park-like setting, talking with me like a friendly old man. Though I have long since lost the diary, I cannot be certain whether another element to it was recorded by me as a child or only remembered later, perhaps not reliably so. Regardless, my sense is that there was some discussion about a book he held in his hands and showed to me, a book entitled either The Book of Knowledge or The Book of Wisdom. I remember taking the book from the set of Encyclopedia Britannica Uncle Fred had gotten for us that was entitled, again, either The Book of Knowledge or The Book of Wisdom and carrying it around, trying to determine where my fascination with its title came from. Did this help form a false memory or was it an effect of implicit memory, residual “priming” effects from that dream scenario in my youth?

After this incident occurred in my youth, I seemed to have some residual sense that something particularly strange had occurred. It was sometime in the two-month period bracketing my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, when my Uncle Fred came to visit. In a book I had gotten for either my birthday or Christmas, there was a short chapter on the War of the Worlds. I remember this dark, fearful, morbid feeling overwhelming me as I leaned on a step-ladder or something in the front room, staring at that photo in the book. I believe it depicted the interior of the craft from War of the Worlds, which was never seen in the movie, but the photo was in a blurry black-and-white. It seemed as if I was trying to discern something from it, or remember something associated with it that was dancing on the tip of my mental tongue.

This eventually led to asking my father and uncle a question that felt difficult for me, that took a lot for me to ask. I was quite nervous about it, and I specifically recall that this was because I was afraid of revealing the true reasons behind my asking. The question was what the aliens were supposed to look like, or whether they showed them in the movie, “as I could not remember”. They weren’t sure, and when they asked me why I wanted to know, I expressed to them, and very cautiously, that I thought I had seen the aliens in a dream. I certainly felt as though I were lying. What I do remember is an image in mind of a particularly vivid scene in which I observed this dark craft in space, so large that I could not see the sides of it or discern its shape. A long line of saucers, all in single file, enter the craft through a hole or doorway in its side.

I once put Dr. Nader, the only mental health professional in my life that I did not regret going to, on the spot in a moment of utter desperation. The man was well-versed in Jung and the Occult but skeptical of it, being a man of science, working as he did with brain-damaged and other such abnormalities alongside clinical psychology. Knowing he did not prefer to categorize me or give me any answer that did not have scientific support, I knew I had to corner him, and I did, insisting that he tell me what he thought that flashback was about. I finally got out of him a reluctant, “I think you had a confrontation with your Shadow.”

By this, of course, he meant the anti-ego in the unconscious, containing all we have repressed or have failed to bring out of latency in our conscious personality. The Doctor was evidently the leader for his pack of “scientists,” and I am clearly more of an artist, so perhaps he would represent the logical, rational, analytical, empirical part of me. I am Caucasian, he was a dark tan or brown. I was a young child, and he was several hundred years old. The Doctor and I, Navier seemed to be saying, were polar opposites, so he must represent what I have been repressing or failing to develop in my own, conscious personality. To be honest, the notion did not at all seem convincing to me.

There are, however, archetypes other than those usually focused on. Jung had spoken of another archetype that one encounters after an enduring period of “wrestling” with the anima, or female aspect of our psyche, and he called it the Wise Old Man: a kind, father-type figure distinguished in his great knowledge and wisdom. The Doctor claimed to be wise, to be old to the extent of centuries, and he also claimed that in some way he was in some way a grandfather figure to me. Friendly, though? In the dream scenario, he took on the appearance of kindness through a Cheshire grin and friendly conversation, but it was all transparent to me: the real Doctor wore a frown as exaggerated as this grin, though not so cartoon-like. So that element, perhaps, does not fit the bill. Description on the archetype also mentions that oftentimes the wise old man is of a foreign land, however, and that the Doctor seemed to be an alien does fit the bill, again to the extreme.

More interestingly, perhaps, is the polar opposite or “shadow” archetype of the wise old man. This is what Jung called puer aeternus, or the Child Archetype. A man in the grips of such an archetype bears emotions stunted at an adolescent level, detests restriction and oppression, and values liberty and independence. At age sixteen, when I remembered the Doctor (and one could certainly also say today, at age thirty-four), many would say quite confidently that this is me in a nutshell.

What could be implied here is that I had a psychotic break at age sixteen in which I experienced archetypal-infested spontaneous fantasies, delusions, and hallucinations, but the Shadow can also be confronted through projection of those repressed psychological contents, which leaves open the possibility that even if Navier is right, the flashback may have indeed been the reexperience of an authentic memory. Given this possibility, the psychological interpretation, however valid, would only be part of the story. It also may require explanation as an actual encounter.

Later I would subject the flashback to an agonizing degree of analysis, looking for context clues in what seemed so real to me that I had to operate on the notion that this may indeed be the case. Since I didn’t wear the braces while sleeping, this must have occurred before I had gone to bed, perhaps even during the day. I was clearly in my parent’s house, indicated if by nothing more than the box I had hit my leg on. My mother, in an effort to keep all of our drawings, writings and letters in a single place, had given each of us one of these boxes, which for a time we kept under our beds. When Lisa got old enough I moved into a room of my own, where I think I immediately got my loft bed. If I was just on the bridge of five and six, Lisa would have been about two, and it seems reasonable to assume that they were sharing a room at that time. There was no way to hide beneath my loft bed, so unless there was a period of time in which I had another bed before the loft bed, I must have been beneath one of my sister’s beds. In the flashback, I believe I was already under the bed when they came bursting into the room, which could make sense. I know I had the tendency when I was younger to hide under the beds of my sisters just before they came in to go to sleep and to wait for some time before creeping out and scaring them. It seems likely that I was already hiding, waiting to frighten my sisters when those creatures burst in the room.

Irony at its most surreal.

Some time after the two initial flashbacks, I had glanced at the wall in the room by my doorway, where I had stapled and taped various drawings I had made, and a specific drawing seemed to jump out at me. I could only vaguely recall drawing it my Freshman year of high school, referring to the creature as a “demented Muppet” to my friends in art class. It had huge, bugging eyes with pupils directed downward and a long, unearthly frown on its wrinkled face. It was, in other words, the spitting image of the Doctor — and, with the direction of his eyes, it seemed to be a portrait of him as he appeared during the flashback, looking down at me as I was under the bed. I had drawn it before the flashback, however, seemingly prompted by some subconscious need to express that dreadful face.

Maybe, unbeknownst to me consciously, I had drawn that creature in an attempt to fulfill part of the promise I had made to myself as a young boy in the flashback. Or perhaps the memory was actually a hallucination bearing a personalized mythical symbol that represented what I, due to the archetype that had ensnared me, had habitually left for dead within myself throughout my short life.

Origins & Denials of a Shy Attention Whore.

For some time I had been limping off and on. I remember my mother expressing her certainty that the ailment had mysteriously switched legs, which made me feel as though she thought I was faking it for some unknown reason. So I beared the irritating pain, which seemed to come off and on. While I had been going up and down the slide in our backyard one day, however, the discomfort in my leg became unbearable upon hitting the bottom. Getting up and walking away, grimacing with every limp, that was the day I was finally taken seriously. When the limping refused to go away, my parents took me into the hospital, where the doctors observed as they had me walk around the hospital room. Then they took X-rays. In the end, they explained to my parents, and to myself, that the cause of the pain was my hip.

I remember one doctor, sitting proudly on his swivel chair, looking down on me with all the empathy he could muster. He held out one hand, cupping it, and formed his other into a fist. He told me to imagine that his cupped hand was an ice cream cone or catcher’s mitt, and his fist was a scoop of ice cream or a baseball. They’re supposed to catch, to meet up, to go together, he told me, but the ball is missing the mitt. The scoop of strawberry ice cream is slamming against the corner of the waffle cone. These were their chosen metaphors for the ball-and-socket joint where the thighbone joins with the pelvis. They weren’t meeting up due to a lack of blood supply to the ball. This strange growth of the hip bone not only makes the ball joint more vulnerable to breaking, but makes healing a difficult process as well. This, they told me, is what has been causing the pain in my legs. Despite vast amounts of research, to this day the cause of the condition, known as Leggs-Calves-Perthes Disease, is unknown. While it has been known to develop in children of any age and either sex, it most commonly developed in boys between the ages of four and eight. Nonetheless, they explained, there was some good news, as they had caught it early enough to treat the condition. Even better, they had a new strategy up their white, lab-coat sleeves that would not require me to undergo surgery.

The doctor and a colleague found it incredibly difficult to conceal their excitement as they presented me with the leg braces. This was a new prototype they were quite proud of, they told me. He held it up with an arm so I could get a good look. It was quite the kinky-looking contraption. It looked like a pair of robotic boxer shorts with the legs locked into an arch. Half of the belt consisted of a cushioned metal band attached to a leather belt that would allow for fastening around the waist. The metal half of the belt was connected to two leg braces that sprouted from either side and ended before the knees. They explained to me that these braces would serve to lock the scoop and the cone into a fixed position so they would grow right. Though I had to wear them during the day, I didn’t have to sleep in them. The doctors had me try them on and observed me as I walked around their office, and the entire time I felt like an embodiment of that exaggerated stereotype of the Old West cowboy who had ridden his horse for so long he walked permanently bowlegged. I was not walking, really, so much as waddling around like a duck.

My fear only deepened when they told me that I may have to waddle around in the braces for two years. It made me uneasy enough that kindergarten was about to begin. The thought of having to go to school wearing this contraption conjured up a good deal of anxiety. When the time finally came, however, it just so happened that I had absolutely nothing to worry about in that respect.

What I found, and what subsequent observation and experience has only reinforced, is that people typically tend to respond towards something unfamiliar with either xenophobia or xenophilia. Someone who is designated to be different from the herd is perceived as either distinguished or dysfunctional. For whatever reason, it turned out that I got the positive extreme reaction in several fashions. To begin with, the woman who was to be my kindergarten teacher catered to me. For one, she insisted that I take a short bus rather than walk the relatively short distance to school. That bus was filled with older kids with books who I remembered as intellectual types, and the woman who drove the bus was always so nice to me. During class, when it was story time and we all sat on the floor to hear her read from the book, I was the only one that got to sit in the chair. To add to this, my mother was close with the teacher and it was not at all unusual for my mother to be in the classroom. She would often bring in animals or provide fertile eggs to put in the incubator we had in the classroom. With my mother bringing in so many animals, in no time at all I became known as the kid who lived on a farm. Though this wasn’t really an accurate reflection of the truth, we were undoubtedly the suburban equivalent, with our ducks, geese, chickens, not to mention all the rabbits, which numbered near a hundred at one point.

At any rate, given her friendship with my teacher she learned about me sitting in the chair during story time. I know that she had not intended to have a bus pick me up and take me home, either, and only reluctantly agreed. My mother detested my perceived special status and treatment despite the fact that she only fed it by being so involved in classroom activities. She told me blatantly that there was no reason I had to sit in a chair during story time or have that short bus pick me up and drop me off. I wasn’t incapable of walking or sitting. She could not have been more correct, either, as I got around fine and fucking dandy in those things. Hell, my father had at one point taken his old motion picture camera and filmed me as I booked it in my braces from one end of our backyard to the other. Not to sound like a hipster, but I was Forest Gump before it was cool.

Though I had not asked for the special treatment any more than I had asked for the Perthes or the braces, it does seem that I either enjoyed the attention and status I received or, in the very least, quickly grew used to it. All too clearly I recall when a boy in class had broken his arm and gotten a cast. Everyone signed it and thought it looked really cool. It was when story time came around and he also got a chair to sit on that I found myself hateful towards him, feeling downright furious over the matter. My reaction seemed to scare and confuse everyone, as I was not the type to act that way. I remember the pouting look on the kids face as he turned his head to the side to look at me, those eyes of hurt and anger bearing into me, all as he sat in a sea of children on a throne such as my own. My feeling was that this kindergarten kingdom had but room for one, and it was taken. Position not available.

When collective desensitization towards my condition set in, I would execute pathetic and desperate strategies aimed at generating more attention. Sometimes I would put on my braces outside the bathroom door, on the carpeted area in the classroom, to attract attention. After all, they had never seen me without my braces on. Interestingly enough, right there at the restroom doorway in the classroom I executed a technique I’d evidently picked up from my mother. I provided a covert stimulus aimed at the evocation of a desired reaction in a person who blandly assumed it was all their idea and that I had no role in the matter. My mother was adept at this technique and used it on me all the time. The only distinction was that I knew she was using it on me, and she knew I knew it and the fact that she did it anyway made her act of using it all the more powerful, for she elicited from me strong reactions that would undoubtedly provide the illusory justification she desired for the cruel words she was itching to throw at me.

Sadly enough, when I used this on my classmates, it worked, and some even asked me if they could try on my braces, but I wouldn’t let them. The braces I had first feared now felt like a part of me. Or in the very least an invaluable tool I was unwilling to give up, or even share. When the braces came off, a new form of attention came to me. Rather than merely glimpsing me with them off outside the bathroom door, I was now walking around without them. The day I came to school late after I had officially had them taken off, having healed from my condition with the amazing swiftness of eleven months or so, I recall standing in front of the kids, who were sitting on the ground, fascinated eyes drawn towards me. Calmly and confidently, I remember talking before all of them, one hand cupped, the other a fist, describing to them my condition and how the braces had healed me, echong what the doctors had told me.

That particular memory blows my mind away, considering the issues I would eventually develop with respect to anxiety attacks when doing so much as walking in front of people. Speaking in front of people would make me feel as if I were in a perpetual state of agonizing death, stuck in that verb form without ever achieving the release that comes with death-as-noun. The stark contrast makes me wonder when, how and why it was that I developed that anxiety and acute form of stage fright. Regardless as to how that acute social anxiety developed in me, I also suspect that its development forced me into the position I was when I still wore the braces: subtle and indirect means of gleaning attention while still maintaining comfort in the shadows, far away from the paralysis and hot flashes that plague me in the spotlight.

During my senior year of high school, we had to take two tests. The results of one revealed what jobs would be best suited to us based on our characteristics preferences; the other, what jobs would be best suited to us based on our talents and abilities. I forget the results of the first test, but the one that revealed my talents suggested that I was best suited for communication. The awesome degree of absurdity in that suggestion somehow managed to erupt out of my mouth during the class speech I was required to do on the test results despite the massive anxiety attack I was undergoing at the time. I told the class how ridiculous the suggestion was, as I’m nervous about everything and can’t speak in front of people without freaking out. One of the girls in the room immedeately stated that communication does not necessarily have to be in the form of public speaking, or even one-on-one, but through the medium of writing and artwork, both of which I passionately engage in. Her comment has always stuck with me, and perhaps there is good reason why.

Do I today constitute a shy guy craving attention, regardless as to how uncomfortable the accusation makes me? I fear it may be so: that I have the intense desire to be the social nucleus, but my simultaneous anxiety of the spotlight has forced me into indirect means of interaction and communication, the potency and subtlety of which works in joint service to both the fear and the desire. The degree to which I look to see if there are any responses on the statuses I post on a popular social network, the degree to which I check to see if there have been responses to my posts in the various blogs I’ve had over the course of a decade-plus, the concern I have over how others percieve me, feel about me, yet my resistance to doing anything about it directly, my preference remaining with the subtle and indirect means of manipulation, the covert techniques I utilize that give me the liberty to deny the very existence of my efforts, even to myself.

If Monkeys Can Do It, So Can I.

Sex embarrassed me for some reason when I was a kid, and I was not to fully recover until I was roughly twenty years of age. That was when the elastic snapped back and I went the way of enantiodromia.

As a child, I would always get embarrassed when someone, usually my mother, said “penis” or “vagina,” and my mother always teased me in an effort to get me to lighten up about it. One day, she really pushed it and I blushed blood fucking red. She grabbed my little hand, took me out on the front lawn of our suburban home and literally hopped around the yard, with her hand still in firm grip of my own, joyously chanting in singsong at the top of her lungs, “PENIS! PENIS! PENIS!”

In all honesty, looking back I actually admire this bold mantra and dancing meditation of an attempt of hers to desensitize me. It helped more than it hindered, in my opinion.

Embarrassed as I was publicly, I was stuck somewhere between interested and an infatuated place when it came to sex in the privacy of my own mind — and bedroom, but not in the way that you‘re thinking. I had been secretly reading David Reuben’s book, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask. I was more than just a bit worried when my parents found me reading it, but their initial reaction was laughter, so worry was swift to transmute to the usual embarrassment.

My father was clearly fine with me reading it, but as he handed the book back to me he was sure to emphasize that it was full of crap that wasn’t true. I believe he cited as an example the suggestion in the book that party balloons serve as adequate makeshift condoms. My mother was also lighthearted about it, adding that at least I was learning about it through a book like this rather than a playboy. Dad countered that I’d probably get more accurate information through a playboy.

They didn’t get me a subscription, sadly. In the end dad just told me to come to him or mom if I had any questions.

That was about the time they got me the baby book, I think. It was written by Peter Mayle and called “Where Did I Come From?” It explained sex and pregnancy, from what I recall. All throughout there were cartoon illustrations, in at least one case full-frontal caricature nudity of both sexes. Both images depicted the genitals ensnared in unkempt, 70s-style bush, like fros from below.

Once I even brought it to school, showing it to select kids privately on the bus. I did this, mind you, all the while displaying more visible paranoia regarding getting caught than I would imagine kids feel nowadays as they smuggle active bombs to school. They probably stuff them in their Sponge-Bob tote bags alongside a staple-bound, printed copy of the downloadable Anarchist’s Cookbook. They want to share their newfound bible with their prepubescent band of bullied buddies with whom they are bound in aim, hell-bent on vengeance.

As for myself, I offered quick glimpses of naked cartoons out of an educational book to fellow victims of the sudden surge of perplexing hormones our age group was saturated with like a super-absorbent tampon crammed in a bullet wound. For some reason, showing the kid a badly-drawn cartoon penis jutting out from a linguini-like nest of snarled follicles was absolutely nerve-wracking. It felt as though I was sneaking secret eyes-only documents across enemy lines. They got their glimpse and then it was an abrupt departure for me as the bus rolled to stop at the end of my parent’s long driveway.

At the other end of that driveway, a house, and in that house a room, in that room a bed where later, behind a locked door, I would commune with a freshly-fluffed, long-sleeve tee-shirt-pillow. For my sake, it was a good thing that the skin shuttle behind the zipper-bound jean silo wasn’t fully functional until much later. Otherwise, there may have been an embarrassing confrontation when my mother tried to clean the pillows for upkeep’s sake or even just turned them around and looked at their backs.

What would she think of those splattered, crusty pools of hard-to-remove stains? This flaky frosting on the pillow is clearly the result of snot, right? Massive quantities of snot. As if it had been used as horizontal gourd-support for a restless Pinocchio with a head cold, sneezing between telling lies like a lawyer in his sleep.

It was some time after we moved into our new house that I started laying off the pillow, so-to-speak, and began to utilize my hands. Rubbing it as I was, moving on to stroking, my relationship with my turkey-necked gummy-worm had been a slow process, but we were closer than ever. Evidence of a new level in our burgeoning relationship arrived rather unexpectedly one evening. As I lay in my bed, doing my thing, the inevitable finally happened.

Stroking my meat missile, warhead aimed at the ceiling, I was at peace. Then it was as if I were walking along in a park one early morning when without warning or mercy the previously-invisible sprinkler system turns on. Clear, liquid stuff launched out of the volcano that had become of Mount Mushroom.

Holy fucking shit, I thought to myself, I think I broke my penis.

Shaking, thickly coated in a cold sweat and shamefully close to crying, I ran across the hallway, knocked on my parent’s door, burst into their room and made my frantic announcement. Summing up a long story to them. I think my exact words were: “My penis exploded.”

I have since worked on articulating myself better.

Little did I know that these were not mere words, but rather incantations that in the proper context can produce a state of suspended animation in others, as was temporarily the case with regards to my parents. It was as if someone had pressed the PAUSE button on the cosmic DVD and then proceeded to press SLO-MO, which is certainly the fashion in which my parents, sitting up beside each other in bed, turned their heads to stare blankly at once another.

In just that same, SLO-MO speed, they then looked back upon me. This I took to be a cue for me to elaborate a little further, maybe clear up some potential misconceptions that might be forming between their ears regarding the state of their only son’s genitals. I began by rephrasing the matter by saying that something had shot out of my penis, to which they responded by asking if I was playing with it.

I knew what they meant, but I didn’t appreciate them making it sound as if I were using it as a sort of doll which I reckoned just happened to be attached to the other side of the bristly skin-hammock that ended at the bottom end of my asshole. Jacking, jerking, masturbating. Not like taking a bubble bath and pretending it was some weird sea creature, like the Loch Ness Monster. Though this would probably be as appropriate a place as any to point out that yes, okay, I kind of did that as well when I was young, but it was still not the same thing I had been doing in my room that night. There are, after all, some weird habits I have outgrown, however few and far between.

They told me it was natural, I was maturing, my body was changing, all the things good parents should tell their children in such a situation. That it was nothing to be worried about. So I didn’t worry.

For awhile I was a bit wary that my joystick could transform into an unholy water cannon at any moment, but that never stopped me from playing with my hammock-bound action figure. Soon I was to become familiar with that sensation of escalation towards the pique, where I knew well eruption was around the corner.

This helped the dome-headed groin ferret and I build back up that foundation of trust imperative to any such close partnership. Together, we went on to explore socks, boxers, the inner lining of some nice flannels. We were bound to go a little too far, and I remember the occasion. It was that one unfortunate incident involving a plastic bag well-lubed on the inside stuck into a cardboard tube insulated with socks and sandwiched between the box-spring and the mattress. Atop the mattress was a magazine opened to a page depicting a photo of a hot girl . On my knees, I gazed at her as I rammed my manhood into the slick, crinkly hole.

So lost was I in the act, so intoxicated by the endorphin rush of a load well dropped, that it was not until the following morning that I discovered the bloody gash on the head of my dick. It was a sensitive, raw area that I could feel blast against my zipper, even with my boxers on. Given the amount of times I burst the scab rubbing one off when I really should have waited, I’m surprised there’s not an oozing-red crater there today.

I suffered from other worries, of course. Penis size, for instance. I’d measure my dick with a ruler and then crack the books to see if I was average. At first, reading the average penis size, I thought I was horrifically small. I felt a lot better when it finally struck me they were talking about the measure of the dick when it got hard. Then, somewhere along the lines, I got the idea that my penis was too big. This, of course, was fucking ridiculous, as I was generally the average, but for some reason I began to suffer from this delusion. So I told my mom I was worried. And she scheduled me for a physical. Unfortunately, the physical came the week after I had received that battle wound on the head of my penis, and it couldn’t have escaped the attention of the doctor, but he never mentioned it. Never so much as blinked. I wondered to myself how often he saw this sort of thing. In a voice that seemed to understand that I was evidently stroking my ego as rigorously as my cock, he said that everything looked okay, and that I was average for my age.

It was not until the fifth or sixth grade that I managed to get my nips on so much as a single Playboy, and I have my friend at the time named Dan to thank. He was living at his grandmothers at the time and had them hidden up in the ceiling of her basement, nearby the weight bench. We flipped through them and he’d show me his favorites. He even let me have a few of them. I hid them beneath the ugly green reclining sofa-chair in my bedroom and began to utilize them in my jack-off sessions, which were almost a nightly ritual by that time.

Dan was spending the weekend with me, and mom was driving us somewhere when she brought up something in regards to masturbation. I can’t for the life of me remember what specifically the context was, but it wasn’t directed at me. At some point in the car ride after that I turned to Dan and told him I needed to ask him about something later. My mom said she knew what I was going to ask him, and when I pressed her to tell, she whispered in my ear that I was going to ask him about what I did at night with my pillow. I was fucking embarrassed as hell. I couldn’t understand just how the hell she knew about that. The thought of her having seen me made me feel all squeamish.

What I really wanted to ask Dan was weirder than that. I was worried for a bit around that time that I might be homosexual. Dan informed me that a necessary prerequisite for homosexuality was being consciously attracted to members of the same sex, which comforted me, as I certainly wasn’t consciously attracted to any male. What worried me was that whole Freudian-based idea. The one that implied that if you were uncomfortable about gays you were repressing your own homosexual tendencies. But the thought that a person might be homosexual and not know it kind of confused me. And to be honest, I was for a time very uncomfortable around people who, it was said, might be gay. I didn’t hate them, I didn’t judge them, but there was that discomfort. Was I repressing my like for the cock?

I decided once during puberty — after all my necessary plumbing started functioning — that I was going to try out a homosexual fantasy, just to see if I could elicit the same kind of reactions I did when I thought of say, Tiffany Amber Theissan off Saved By the Bell. I’d never tried it, and who had to know? Anyway, I was always looking for new jerk-off material, maybe it was worth trying. But who should I try in my mind? I thought and thought, but every option disgusted me. Then I remembered: if I was gay, I had to be repressing it. Maybe it slipped through my mental editing as envy. For instance, I always wanted a hairstyle like that one kid who played the person both Terminators were trying to kill in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. So I chose him. When I tried this and didn’t get my jollies off, I was finally convinced Freud was full of donkey-doo and I was straight as an arrow.

Freud’s idea of repressed homosexuality didn’t really hold up, either, but it took me awhile to realize this. In a similar fashion, I had been uncomfortable around blacks, and I was fairly certain I wasn’t hiding some darker pigmentation beneath my pale-white skin. So I’m coming out of the closet: I’m a heterosexual white boy. Gay-friendly, but straight all the way. And in regards to psychology, I prefer Jung over Freud for many reasons.

My regular schedule of relentless masturbation over dirty photos of girls continued unabated. I cut out my favorite images from the Playboys Dan had given me and spread them all over the floor and started my nightly ritual. I got tired, laid on my bed, and fell asleep. When I got home the next evening from school, my dad called me from the hallway as I was on my way to my room. Flannel shirt on, coffee in hand, he said for me to follow him into my room. We both sat on one end of the bed. What is it? I was confused and worried. He didn’t say anything at first, just sort of sipped his coffee, and then, holding it with one hand, let it lay on the palm of his other. And then he leaned across my bed to the other side of the bed, where there was a small space between it and the wall. Right above it hung from the ceiling my lampshade. Its light was on. He looked down in that space between my bed and the wall, lit by the lamp, only briefly, and then looked back at me.

“Mom came in to turn off your light today after you left for school,” he said, “and she saw your little collection.”

Shit. I’d been in such a hurry to leave that morning I’d forgotten to hide my porn. The collage was still scattered all over my floor beneath that light. He said that mom was upset. He said it was because I was growing up and interested in nudie pictures. He said it was fine if I had them, but that I should hide them.

With internet porn so widely available nowadays, looking back on this memory makes those magazine photos look like leaflets, such primitive forms of perversity. These were the little peepholes in my prison, freeze-framed glimpses beyond my cage scattered all about my floor. Each of them windows to worlds beyond my cell, and now as I stared at them on my floor all they did was reflect my guilt, my shame. Mom didn’t mention a word of it to me. I felt so guilty the next night I burned them. I promised myself I’d chill out on the jerking off, chill out on the pictures.

I was jerking off again a few days later. I got new pictures.

My fantasies, and even the Playboys, got boring. So I’d wait till my parents were asleep, sneak downstairs and watch HBO, which was barely visible through the static since we didn‘t have the channel. Porno in a snowstorm is better than no new porn at all, so I would watch fuzzy naked people fucking each other for awhile until got hard. Then I’d go upstairs and play with my penis until it exploded. When hands got boring, I’d try different underwear, different shirts, trying to find a new texture to stroke with. I had not yet discovered the beauty of lubricant, mind you. Sometimes I went back to the pillow, as even when jerking off, I liked the top. And when I got bored with all of that, and when my wrist hurt, I began getting really creative.

As I grew older, my sexual fantasies became more extreme. I discovered internet porn and computer viruses. I got bored with visualizing just plain old sex, now it was violent, sadistic, masochistic. Girls dominating me, me dominating girls. Ropes and whips and hand cuffs and duct tape. Bondage fiesta. Hopping between the faces of girls I knew and celebrities in a single session. Then visualizing sex acts involving multiple women simultaneously. Them tying me up, me tying them up. Them biting me, scratching me, slapping me and vice versa.

From early on I had for some reason felt certain that the desire for sex was a primitive urge that should not be satisfied. That sexuality and spirituality were at opposite ends of the pole, and once you got drawn into sex, the soul drifted further and further away. I don’t know why I believed this.

I’m not sure why sex is a big issue for me in general, either. Without doubt it seems to a major driving force in the lives of many people, and for others not so much, but for me there has always been this simultaneous yearning and resistance, this fascination and fear, like some tug-o-war between my brain, heart and dick. On the rare moments when they are all aligned with one another and aimed towards a single, wonderful girl, the experience has been breathtaking, but it inevitably ends, as all is transient, and I am back to battling an inner war that feels as if it endures to a point oh-so far past forever. Relentless masturbation becomes the release valve. A psychological survival technique.

As with most things that initially embarass me, I have come to explot the topic of masturbation, almost to the point that I make my official daily reference to it, almost as if I strive to overcome my shame in the same way my mother attempted to desensitize me so long ago by dragging me out into the front lawn yelling the names of private parts. Not as extreme as a monkey at the zoo, perhaps, but extreme enough.

Communication Breakdown.

The mind appears to be a dual processor composed of the conscious and unconscious mind.

The unconscious is a parallel processor composed of simultaneously-active schematic information systems, or what might be better described as a spectrum of unconscious ego states functioning in parallel. Each unconscious ego mood-state operates on the basis of differing base axioms, communicating with one another by means of a cross-modal associative style of thinking. Pattern-oriented, metaphorical-allegorical and non-linguistic, it aims to connect psychic components through associative, lateral, and parallel thinking in order to produce multiple alternatives to choose from. As opposed to the concern of consciousness, which works in service of the ego, the unconscious works in service of relationships. The unconscious ego spectrum emerged from the schemas or “attractors” imprinted into our minds through the nature of the attachments forged early in our childhood (such as the maternal and paternal bonds, discussed elsewhere) which all proceeding data gleaned through experience is filtered through and all subsequent decisions are based upon. As a consequence, the unconscious is in many ways childlike and fails to distinguish the past from the present.

Consciousness is a serial processor composed of a spectrum of schematic ego mood-states experienced in a structured, sequential manner by conscious awareness which strive for collective cohesion, giving rise to a collective sense of singularity. Detail-oriented, logical-analytical and linguistic, it aims to rationalize psychic components through vertical thinking in order to produce a singular coherence in service of the conscious personality. The conscious mind works to move forward in vertical thinking through debate and works in retro as well in its effort to rationalize contradictions in thoughts, emotions and behaviors in the schema-driven self-concept through rationalization. These contradictions or counter-positions that allow for conscious debate would not seem to arise from the thinking process of consciousness itself, however, but instead constitute unconscious standpoints that arose to the threshold of consciousness subliminally in various forms.

Given experiments utilizing fMRI readouts, it would appear that we are constantly accepting, rejecting, and overruled by unconscious impulses. Vertical and logical thinking would appear to be the central function of consciousness, with dialectical or adversarial thinking arising from the interaction of conscious and unconscious contents. It is the means by which these two aspects of ourselves relate and communicate.

Several issues can emerge in internal communication.

One factor is undoubtedly the drawbacks of each mode of thinking taken independently. While vertical thinking is a slow, cautious and calculating, the nature of its rule-bound process generates a tendency towards strict limitation. Experiments seem to suggest that at least part of the issue may be found in the linguistic bias of consciousness. Unless it is capable of articulating something accurately, the conscious ego makes decisions contrary to the choices of the unconscious and overrides the unconscious decision.

Parallel thinking, on the other hand, despite the diminished processing time, can be incredibly ambiguous and unfocused in terms of its end-product. Intuitions arise and, bearing no tail of reason, the ego acts with schematic panic to either reject them or, if they sneak right by the ego and leak through into behavior, rationalize them into the fabric of our conscious self concept. Coincidences occur in life but they seem to bear no message we can discern save, perhaps, for the unconscious trying to get your attention as if you were a negligent parent and the unconscious, a needy child.

Visual metaphors often seem unfocused and ambiguous to consciousness, let alone systems of metaphors that relate in a static image, such as those we might see in hypnagogic slide-shows. This circumstance is worse still in dreams, when the relations between the metaphors are laid out in an often-disjointed narrative form. If the unconscious speaks to consciousness through words, as through the mouth of a dream character, they are often interpreted by the conscious ego to be cryptic, vague, even downright nonsensical.

In addition, the often differing positions and fundamentally distinct modes of thinking and communication make the interactions between the conscious and unconscious problematic. This is expressed in Jean Stine and Camden Benares 1994 book, It’s All In Your Head, where it reads (pg 39) as follows:

“Munich researcher Detlev Ploog believes the lone primate is only half a primate. Our interactions with others are not merely tangential to our lives, but critical to them. Apparently, interaction with others releases important brain chemicals, possibly endorphins, that are necessary to our physical and mental health. Unable to communicate with others, we begin to deteriorate. Ploog says that, ‘As a psychiatrist, I believe that the cause of mental illness is a disturbance or even a breakdown of the communication system.’”

As the unconscious influences our relationships based on our childhood bonds, we could further speculate that if Ploog is right, that mental illness constitutes “a disturbance of even a breakdown of the communication system” between the conscious and unconscious mind of the individual in question. This, in turn, suggests that the key to psychological health resides in the means by which the unconscious and conscious relate to and communicate with one another. In general, one could easily deduce that the drawbacks inherent in the unconscious and conscious modes of thinking can be overcome if the two sides of the equation can learn to engage in a direct and productive means of communication and interaction — one based on a sustained sense of mutual respect and understanding. Such a relationship, after all, has the greatest likelihood of producing mutually-beneficial results. In terms of specificity, there are several means by which one could apply efforts towards developing and nurturing such a relationship.

The one you will most often come across in the process of researching the matter is what I have chosen to dub the Eureka Technique or Time-Share Approach. Here, one essentially splits the labor. Based on what we know about the particular qualities and deficiencies of both the conscious and unconscious mind, we might elect to split the labor specific to situation. In matters of emotion or value or when there are too many factors for the ego to grapple with, the decision is apparently better left to the unconscious. In the aforementioned book (pgs 87-88) this approach is articulated in four steps.

Preparation requires that one first elects a goal, such as choosing the right major in college, and then engages in a thorough, laborious research effort on all available and relevant data and exploration of the problem or material in question. Incubation involves distracting yourself from the issue, deflecting attention from it, “forgetting it” and in so doing effectively seed all the data in the unconscious. The unconscious parallel processor gets to work on the data you provided, working towards developing a position. Later, perhaps after sleep or during a period of relaxation, the unconscious provides its results in a stage referred to as Illumination. It typically announces its choice through such mediums as emotions, synchronicity, intuitions and dreams. The last step, that of Verification, requires the conscious ego to experimentally apply the concept to see if it has merit.

In essence, they would work together as a team with the ego leading the dance. Consciousness would provide the aim and then allow the unconscious to generate new ideas; in turn, the unconscious mind would provide these ideas to consciousness and then allow consciousness to subject them to fair analysis prior to implementation. Consciousness would provide structure and focus for the unconsciously-provided potentially beneficial ideas.

This technique is essentially the same as dream incubation, but the answer does not necessarily have to come through that particular medium of the unconscious. Dream incubation involves “cramming” for a subject or concern of yours and then going to sleep and noting your dreams upon awakening. Dreams need not only function as the delivery system of the unconscious, however, but can also serve as the medium through which the ego can interact with the unconscious directly, an in real-time.

If we observe our dreams carefully, we find that there are several different types. In mundane dreams and vivid dreams, the unconscious oppresses the ego. The only distinction between the two types is, as Jung noted, the higher “energy tension” of the vivid dreams, which results in a relatively sensory-rich, structured, and perhaps even startlingly “literal” dream narrative. As the unconscious is driving the show, attention is directed unerringly at relationships the ego has rather than the ego as a lone or singular self-concept. The dreamer is still held under the spell of the dream narrative, however, unaware of the fact that he is dreaming. This circumstance is inverted in lucid dreams, where the ego oppresses the unconscious, differing only from daydreams in the intensity of the ego awareness and degree of accompanying sensory deprivation. Both involve the ego using the dream-spare as a sort of metaphorical mirror, time machine, or sketch pad. In any case, attention is directed unerringly at the ego as a self-concept, reinforcing it in the process.

The fifth type of dream was referred to by Jung as Active Imagination. In these dreams, which reside somewhere between the conscious reflections of the day-dream and the unconscious expressions of a mundane dream, the fully aware ego stands at eye level and on equal footing with the unconscious, both of their attentions drawn towards one another within their shared ground of the dream-space.

The most optimal technique is to reconcile the duality of the conscious and unconscious mind altogether, to bring the two back together as one. According to Carl Jung, the transcendent function is a third position — a portion of the manifest Self, as Jeffrey Raff would say — that arises from the union of polarized conscious and unconscious contents, which consequently “makes the transition from one attitude to another organically possible, without loss of the unconscious.” According to Raff in his 2000 book, Jung and the Alchemical Imagination, the transcendent function is the means by which one reconciles conscious and unconscious dualities to bring the latent Self into manifestation. In order for the transcendent function to occur, conscious and unconscious opposites must be differentiated and hold their polar positions. The position of ego and the position of the unconscious must be considered to be of equal value; both are to be taken seriously and to be considered potentially valid perspectives.

The first is the stage of Preparation, which varies in surface form depending both on your central sensory mode and whether you’re documenting it in real-time or in the wake of the experience. A person who is attuned to sound and documents it in real-time might pick up an instrument such as a guitar. Someone with an interest in moulding clay (a combination of tactile and visual, I suppose) may go that route as a real-time means. You might get a pen and a sketchbook or get in front of your keyboard. Otherwise, take up a meditation posture, sit on a decent chair or lie comfortably on your back and close your eyes.

As a natural prerequisite to the transcendent function, the conscious and unconscious must have sufficient tension between them. In some cases, this tension may not be sufficient enough, and in such a case one would carry out the stage Raff referred to as either Evocation or Intention. First, one focuses on producing an empty mind, sort of cleaning house for the visitor you plan on inviting over. You might empty your mind in any number of ways, perhaps by focusing on a body part or remaining attentive to the breath, control of which one has relinquished to the involuntary function. Once the mind is sufficiently vacant, one asks a question and holds it firmly in mind in expectation of some response from the unconscious. If that requisite tension already exists, one needs none of that, of course. You don’t need a question because the unconscious is already tapping you on the shoulder. One merely allows themselves to become acutely aware of the intense mood, become receptive to it, and then allows oneself to sink into it. In either case, one ensures that one does not wander outside the boundaries of the intense mood-state. One holds a sense of expectation with respect to a response, be it in the form of an inner image, an absorptive spontaneous fantasy, an internal voice or an episode of spontaneous writing, music, moulding, drawing or painting.

The next stage rests in the hands of the unconscious, and it is called Activation, when the unconscious responds to your question or intent. The response, as implied earlier, is likely to come in one’s predominant sense or senses, and in the style or medium if one has elected to go the real-time documentation route. If not during, then immediately proceeding the experience, they then take careful note of the sounds, fantasies, visions or voices that were produced when becoming submissive to the mood. The next stage is the Interaction, where the ego enters into a dialogue with the unconscious.

As Jung summarized in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (pg 187):

“The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with the unconscious. That is the technique for stripping them of their power. It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own. Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.”

All the stages mentioned so far can take place within a single session. As was the case with Jung, you may move from Preparation to Interaction at once, and in a meditative state may actually hold a dialogue with an inner figure. Alternatively, one may experience only Preparation and Activation in a single sitting. In either case, be it an Interaction or mere response, you then enter a stage called Reflection.

During Reflection, the ego engages in two related tasks. In the first, the ego must first engage in what Jung called “creative formulation” and an aesthetic “enrichment and clarification” of the unconscious reaction, and this is accomplished through a mode of deliberate conscious expression such as writing down the experience or expressing it a visual art form. Then the ego attempts to understand and derive meaning from the unconscious reaction intellectually.

After the ego has developed a response to the position of the unconscious, it then proceeds to repeat the process as before, only now bearing a response based on the ego’s renewed perspective on the counter-position of the unconscious. On and on it goes, from Preparation to Reflection, considered a step in itself by Raff, who refers to this ongoing process as the stage of Interaction. This stage ultimately reaches a climax in the Resolution, where the ego gains an insight he must put into action, utilizing it in their external life in a stage called Integration. This active insight constitutes what Jung called the Transcendent Function, the creation of a third psychological content that acts as a middle ground between the opposites. It acts to bridge the gulf, allowing the two opposites, now constellated through their interactions, to reconcile and unite. As a result, it enables the ego to find home in the central position, allowing it a smooth transition from one attitude towards another.

These fused conscious-unconscious polarities either create or slowly mend together the psychological duality, giving rise to what Raff referred to as the Manifest Self one piece at a time, one stitch following another. Slowly, one clarifies and expands communication between the unconscious and conscious minds until, at last, the waters kiss and the individual gains awareness of being at both ends of the internal dialogue.

The Blind Host.

Our self-concept or ego is technically a complex meta-schema, particularly in how it seeks out and integrates information resonating with that which it already contains, manipulates information in order to make it fit when necessary, and in general strives to reinforce itself and maintain cohesion. In the course of doing so, the ego serves as its own immune system as well, fending off incompatible information that threatens that cohesion. Many psychologists, such as Jung, believed that the ego accomplished this through repression.

In an act of repression, elements of the psyche are censored or rejected by the conscious ego because they are incompatible with the ego-schema. Such contents have sufficent energy to remain in consciousness, but as the ego refuses to integrate it, as a consequence it must take on an exaggerated counter-position, an opposing stance of equal or greater energy intensity, to “hold it down” below the threshold. Projecting the unconscious position onto someone else is the means by which we ritually attempt to distance and distinguish our ego from it, and exaggerated reactions to particular stimuli therefore act as indicators of such repressed contents.

The fight to keep it down is an enduring one, as the unconscious content fights to emerge at the same time. The opposites build in energy, with the conscious trying to keep the content down and the unconscious content trying to arise. The pressure or charge builds on both sides of the doorway, so to speak, and the unconscious accomplishes this added charge or pressure the same way the conscious ego does: by exaggerating its position. Both ends have to keep upping the ante, mutating into the purest and most extreme form of its position. In the end these polar positions become totally opposite one another, compensate for one another, and this is a tendency Jung considered one example of enantiodromia, or how the overabundance of one force produces its counterforce. As the opposites keep uppin the ante, they mutate into the purest and most extreme form of their positions. This is why if the unconscious wins and bursts through the doorway and into consciousness, as Robert Bly points out in his book, A Little Book on the Human Shadow, it is often a monstrous manifestation of what it once was before the repression commenced, or what it might have been if it was permitted to rise to the threshold of consciousness to begin with.

At least in the Jung seemed to use the term, repression seems synonomous with what today is often referred to as dissociation. In the most extreme cases we have those who utilize extreme dissociation as a coping mechanism in response to trauma in Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. It usually begins with persistent neglect or emotional, physical or sexual abuse at a key developmental stage in childhood. A new personality state or “alter” develops around the dissociated, emotionally-charged memories, which are forgotten by the “host” personality. Alters can identify themselves as a different age, nationality, sex, or species and can display unique speech patterns and body language. Bodily control fluctuates between the host and the alter.

Full dissociation involves the complete “switching” from one personality to another, with amnesia for both during the time in which the other assumed control. In Beyond the Occult, Mysteries and other books of his, Colin Wilson often focused on a different relationship that often spawned between the host and alter. Specifically regarding the cases of both Doris Fischer and Christine Beauchamp. In both cases, the girls became host to multiple personalities that almost seemed like Jungian Shadow figures, as they had qualities which diametrically opposed the qualities of the host. More interestingly, however, while the alters knew everything about the host personality inside and out, the host personality knew nothing about the alter until the alter told them. In the case of Doris, there was even a hierarchy where each personality could “see inside” all those below it, but not above it.

In its simplest form, then, the host was transparent to the alter and the alter was invisible to the host. This relationship is also found in alters that were artificially induced by a hypnotist — and there is some suggestion that such alters can be developed artificially through hypnosis. In his book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, John Marks writes about Morse Allen of the CIA’s ARTICHOKE program, focused on mind control, and how he began plans to execute a program in which they would create alters in unwitting subjects for use as spies, and according to psychologist George H. Estabrooks in his 1957 book Hypnotism, these experiments were not only carried out, but proved to be successful. Interestingly, both sources explain the relationship between the host and the alter in the same way Wilson did. For their use as spies, these alters were undercover agents that had characters diametrically opposing the personality of the host. As in the cases Wilson focused on, here again the alter knew itself as well as everything about the host, and the host knew only of itself until the alter decided otherwise.

Perhaps the difference between victims of DID or hypnotic mind control programs and the average person is not that they have alters, but that these alters are of such strength (or the hosts so weak) that they can play Chinese fire drill with respect to who gets the steering wheel of the body. The relationship between the host and the alter, after all, seems very similiar to the relation the conscious and unconscious seem to share. Given its capacity to make decisions prior to the conscious ego and to know enough about the ego and its life circumstances to do so — particularly in light of the typical ignorance the conscious ego has of the unconscious, its motivations and influence — it would appear that consciousness is transparent to the unconscious, and the unconscious is effectively invisible to consciousness until it chooses otherwise.