For two nights now I’ve skipped my medication, though I couldn’t tell you why exactly. In the middle of the night last night, I dreamed that I met Ron my old supervisor again, and he was quite friendly and benevolent. He sat in a chair with someone else, maybe Sandy or Amy. At first I saw the back of his head, a big round head like a basketball with black hair, and I thought, That’s Ron. It’s interesting how a dream tends to idealize people. Another time I had a dream about Vicky from the little market, in reality a sassy little vixen who lost her job due to her mouth, but my dream made her very pleasant and even nice to be around. I dreamed that she got a better job as a banker or something like that, something more respectable and profitable than store clerk. Thus, what a dream does is to fulfill a wish and make people more or less perfect. The truth about Ron was he was an alcoholic and a few other things not so rosy. Actually, the truth is neither all good nor all bad. It can be tough to choose between real and ideal, or a waking perception and dream. The reality has warts and the ideal has gossamer wings to fly. It makes you wonder how the human mind came to be a colonizer of dreams in one mode and a passive receiver of impressions in the other. And which one is more adaptive and advanced than the other. Probably the opposition of both modes is indispensable for a healthy human mind.
In one of his books, Jung says there are two kinds of thinking, directed and undirected. But I don’t know if he covered the issue of why the unconscious is so romantic or why the ego sees things mostly as they are. Freud may be more specific on this point, though he saw it all as biology and the drive to survive and reproduce.
Tonight I’ll probably take my medication again although I hate how it blocks my emotions and feelings and dreams, the stuff that makes people human and life worthwhile, depending on your values. It’s like a shotgun approach to blocking the delusions associated with schizophrenia, and it works a little too well. Kind of like feast or famine, and never a perfect balance of reason and imagination. Indeed I think the majority of people are emotional thinkers, and maybe that’s why their judgment is unrealistic usually. I think Jane Austen describes it very well in a fiction like Sense and Sensibility. Marianne is the sister full of passion, but her perceptions are often inaccurate for that reason. I think Austen favors Elinor for her level judgment and common sense. The other one jumps to extremes and categorically blesses or condemns the people she meets. All in all, the book is like a study in cognitive therapy.
Five twenty AM.
Last night I heard the swoosh of swallows in my chimney. They’re back again like they are every year, and they will hang around until late fall. Another thing I notice is the same little bird is up singing an hour before dawn, so she must have insomnia. Of course, I wouldn’t know about it if my own daily rhythms weren’t a bit askew. But is it odd for a person to be attuned to sunrise and sunset each day? Yes it is, if it’s normal to have the television on every waking moment. Tv is an expense I do without. To each their own. I imagine that my life at home is something like the German peasantry two centuries ago, before electric light was invented and the people told stories to the rhythm of the night. At least it’s nice to think so. It suggests to me that schizophrenia serves an evolutionary purpose. The first books I obtained when I became ill were a version of the Arabian Nights and a complete Grimm’s. I still don’t believe these are just for children…
In my dreams, I see the retirement of our church pastor as an opportunity for me to enjoy my life, throwing off the yoke of religion. It’d be like Goethe’s Faust, following Mephistopheles on a romantic adventure into love and trouble. On the other hand, I know it’s not realistic for me for my heart’s desire to come true— unless I can believe my numerological life path. Twenty years ago I completed a workbook in numerology, a book I put in the trash during a weak moment, yet I remember some of the information it gave me. Still, my skeptical impulse says it was all hogwash, regardless of my desire to believe it. How often does a person get their heart’s desire, as if fate could just hand it to them? Perhaps you have to believe it, and then its realization is up to you as a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s like programming your own unconscious mind.
According to the book, my soul number was a 5, and 5 would dominate the last stage of my life. Its symbol is the pentagram, and it is characterized by sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Was the workbook really suited for “complete idiots?”
Seven twenty five.
It’s been a strange kind of day, but what is a normal day like?
I got some reading done, just a short selection of Montaigne from one of his essays. By the time I finished it, I realized I didn’t care much for his opinions on reason and faith. But I was stuck with a huge book of him that I purchased a few years ago. So I thought maybe I could sell it at Tsunami or another place…
Occasionally something happens to remind me that the unconscious mind really exists. Like this evening when I went to bed and had difficulty breathing; so I got up again and chanced to look at my phone, where I found a text message regarding an appointment with my case manager. The fact is that this person makes me feel uncomfortable and threatened whenever we meet. And now, in the morning I’m going to do something about it.
My point is, my conscious mind was oblivious to this coming visit, yet my body reacted to it as if it had the knowledge of it. And it knew before I checked my phone that there would be a message waiting for me.
After I figured the problem out, I went back to bed and slept peacefully.
Quarter after eight.
I’ve had another awful day with my dual diagnosis and I don’t even know why. The way it happened was like being a puppet of fate, a character determined by a script written beforehand; like a scene out of an Iris Murdoch novel. I was a straw man in an allegory. After my meeting today I found myself walking to the market to get a Coke, though I believed I had sworn off sugar. Finally, I felt haunted by my workforce years. It must be a kind of delusion when the past swamps my present and directs my thoughts and deeds. I don’t have much control over this pantomime.
It’s probably more about the alcoholism than the schizophrenia. “The beer jumps in your hand.” Everyone with addictive personality understands this.
I woke from dreams of my garage just now, mingled with the image of my dad’s ghost. I felt violently towards him and I would’ve attacked him in reality. So much of what he did when I was a child was heinous that he deserved retribution. I grew to just hate him and didn’t make peace with him until after his retirement, which coincided with my dx of schizophrenia. Now I wonder why my mother had such a positive talent for picking losers to marry. My dad took the cake for all time assholes. But at his core he was a complete coward and weenie, like all bullies or men without balls. Incongruously, the music in my background is “Strike Up the Band,” an old disco tune by Chic. Whatever was happening with my life, or however dire it was, the music would keep playing obliviously, in benign indifference. It almost seems to say that life for the unconscious goes on no matter what the external circumstances. The soul has its own agenda and it operates in Dreamtime. Where this and reality intersect is something like a peak experience, perhaps a sublime deja vu. We have all been here before. Likely we’ll be there again.
Quarter of four in the morning.
I’m still thinking about the irrational. It’s possible that the unconscious still exists, but due to the medication I take, I’ve been blinded to its activity in my own affairs. I know that off of the drug I would be perceptive of Jamesian subtexts in ordinary speech that point to a subconscious will. But I’m kind of uncomfortable with this theory because of my sobriety. They say that “the beer jumps in your hand” in circles of addiction counseling. If there is a beast that lives within us and ultimately controls our actions, then what can we do to tame it? Like a black panther pacing in its cage and saying, Nothing you could do, as in Ezra Pound, the unconscious is discontent with its prison. So we take the antipsychotic med and forget about it. But even in so doing, does the panther forget about us?
Eight forty at night.
There are strong elements of the irrational in the two stories I read by Paul Bowles this afternoon. I think “Tea on the Mountain” is mostly about the conflict of two wills in the same individual woman’s mind, about saying one thing and doing quite the opposite. And for some reason, the irrational will gets its way in this story. I guess it depends on the model of psychology a person learns. Even the idea of “the irrational” is something rather dated and old school, though it can still be entertaining in the context of a horror story. It is a bit horrifying to think of human behavior being out of our conscious control, and subject to the caprices of the Freudian Id, similar to the symbol of the whale in Moby Dick. Or more abstractly still, like the forces of good and evil battling each other for supremacy within the human soul. It is chilling and entertaining if you don’t take it seriously, and sad and pitiful if you do.
More and more, I think psychodynamic theory is on its way out. The words “rational” and “emotive” come to mean something entirely different from the old school of psychology. Nowadays, “irrational” means thinking in black and white, whereas this used to describe rational thinking: as in Aristotelian logic, with the middle excluded… More and more, it becomes apparent that our concepts are made real or unreal by the language we use. So that we can talk ourselves right out of old ideas of irrationalism… and what use have we for Aristotle or Freud anymore?
Seven o’clock. In certain lights I have visual hallucinations; colors are wrong and I see shapes that aren’t there. My dog’s coat looks olive green to me instead of navy blue and white, with green and gold floral patterns or cross shapes. It’s very bizarre to see this way in the middle of the night, and I wonder what it means. Of course it isn’t a property of my dog, but a problem in my perception. If I were absolutely crazy then this hallucination would fool me. It also calls other things into question, like the for sale sign I saw in Kat’s front yard on a recent Saturday morning. And the next day it was gone. Soon reality turns into something ephemeral and recombinant, like the vanishing city of the book by Samuel R Delaney or even the sinking island of Avalon in Arthurian legend. “Row, row, row your boat… life is but a dream.” A dream within a dream. What do we do when reality is unreliable? I guess we just get on with it anyway. Still we might wonder if the Hindus are right about the concept of maya, or the illusion of a tangible world. Perhaps the sensible world is a projection by the unconscious, and the unconscious knows everything? The realtor’s sign outside of Kat’s place was so realistic; it even had a name and phone number. Another time I saw a big white pickup truck with Confederate flag license plates. My conscious mind wasn’t sure what the flag was supposed to look like, but evidently my unconscious had that information… Now it kind of gives me the creeps. What is the unconscious and where does it come from? And maybe our historical lives are the unraveling of the will of this unknown power…
I used to be better at perceiving subtexts in everyday speech than I am now, for a couple of reasons. One is that I take a good medication for weeding out nonsense. Secondly, I realize that most people don’t employ Freud’s techniques of dream analysis anymore, because truly they get things out of context like a person with schizophrenia. Nor does anyone read the fiction of Henry James these days, which was from the same Victorian era of innuendo and suggestion… I get so tired of my uphill fight every day. I’d much rather make myself disappear in a state of drunkenness… and for some reason I just remembered a tale from the Arabian Nights: “The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad.” Thirty years ago when I first fell ill, the idea of The 1001 Nights represented to my mind a kind of secret knowledge encrypted in symbolism.
Quarter after seven. In a way, I was actually kind of right about that. Much of the Nights is fairytales and folklore that can be analyzed in a psychological way. But if I were to read something like “The Ebony Horse” again, the unconscious content would probably be lost to me. Just out of curiosity I should try it. It’s possible that the thing we call the “unconscious” is really just a fiction and a sort of swindle created by people like Freud and Jung in the past century. I’m not usually a cynical thinker, however… Well it’s the next morning and I should go to the store before my appointment with Rebecca.
Eight thirty. Right now I miss my mode of thought from working days about 15 years ago. I met with my coworker Alice a few times at a Mexican restaurant called Mucho Gusto in the Oakway Center and we’d talk about my job and my future. Those late mornings were often beautiful, and once we walked over to Borders Books and Music for a look around… My mentality then was more Jungian, but now I see that it wasn’t well suited to reality and social interaction. Kind of like going around in a perpetual dream state, which though pleasant was not realistic or practical. I think it’s better to be able to communicate with other people and be understood. If the unconscious is indeed a fact, then right now the truth of it is unavailable to me, perhaps sadly. So I might verse myself again in Arabian tales and the Brothers Grimm to enrich my experience of life and feel something larger than my ego; to feel something period. It’s another nice day in July, a day to be enjoyed.