dance with the unconscious ~
August 4, 2012
I lay in bed with Norman and I listen carefully as he begins to undress a little piece of my soul. He is a man of experience, a man well known, and I am but a novice in this brave new world. He tells me, “The unconscious is on close, even familial, terms with that most elusive presence in the conscious mind—the soul.” And he goes on to state that every trip I make as a writer into these dark depths could be met with pushback because the unconscious may feel exploited by my needs.
Mailer is on to something, something I receive and resist because I cannot take anyone’s ideas as my own. First, receptivity. I dig the idea that the unconscious will fight to protect itself from the blind fumblings of one drunk with desperate desire. That touch, any uninvited touch, would be unwelcome, that the unconscious may be a protective sheath, whoa, I’m overwhelmed. This is, to quote Orwell, why I write.
Mailer suggests that writer’s block is the unilateral refusal, the ultimate pushback. I know this feeling of resistance so well that I could not write until I was willing to be honest with myself on every level, inside and out. For me, honesty is the golden key that unlocks every door. The only reason people say “truth hurts” is because they don’t know what is real. Lies hurt like nothing else in the world. The tearing away of lies is like ripping your lips off your face using nothing but the fingers that God gave you to eat your daily bread.
When I began to attend to my soul, the page opened up. And I went along until I required myself to cross the Invisible Line. Fear. I cannot shadowbox with a lie. So after a life fueled by delusion and failure, I brought the C4 to destroy what was destroying me. And I did this by seeing myself reflected in someone else, and in his presence I pressed the detonator button and I blew the fuck up.
Once I was destroyed (and it took two solid attempts to finish me off), yes, once I was destroyed, I began to write. And it was through writing that my unconscious unburdened itself, which makes me question the simplicity of Mailer’s statement. Through the very act of writing, my unconscious and I have built trust, and from this trust comes the ability to make better decisions about who and what to allow close to my heart.
It has been, umm, three weeks since I left Hell and have been wandering aimlessly around Purgatory. And it is here that my writing is showing me what I dislike most about it. You see, what I want most is to argue. To persuade. I love nothing so much as having a point of view and making a case. This fulfills something, I believe the word is ego. Yet as a writer, it makes me think, How banal.
I can feel my unconscious more clearly than ever before. Not only does it have me writing poetry in my dreams, but it has exposed my ego as the Wizard of Oz. My ego’s cry for money and status and proof of my existence is the anxiety wrought by seeking validation outside myself. How boring, as in despairing, and I feel it all the time. And when I despair my unconscious shuts down and says, With an attitude like that, you ain’t eva gonna write that novel of yours.
I feel why it is that I should so desire a writer as muse. To feel that I am not in this alone, even tho I am. Ahh, a muse, tis not only a thing of inspiration but also of communion, compassion, and comfort. Tis the feeling of two equals one for just that moment when your words melt in my mouth.
Ahh. My eyes are so wet. How strange this is. I am writing a position paper and I’m all kindsa emotional.
Mailer talks about how the unconscious is the gatekeeper to the page and I’m thinking this is spot on, wet eyes and all. My unconscious allows me to put my truth on a blog because I have acclimated to releasing the pain in this form. Instant publishing. It challenges and fulfills me in ways that nothing else can…
I told Mr. Johnson the other day how freaky it was to write, “I am racist” and when I told him that, I also acknowledged that was the first time I ever spoke those words aloud. I know I was pithy with my, “It’s really easy. Watch.” But it wasn’t. For all the things I have written on this blog, that was one of the scariest things I have done.
It’s one thing for me to speak of my addiction to self destruction, about familial abuse, about my pathologies. It’s one thing to write essays while I am sobbing my heart out as I tear off my lips and babble my truth. It’s another to be perfectly calm and own some of the ugliest part of humanity without trying to make excuses of any kind. And to know that because I am white, that I will never understand what it truly means. How disturbing such knowledge of ignorance can be.
My unconscious does not resist the blog. But. I aspire. I am aspirational. I desire, as in dream + need, to write books. Long form, commitment beyond all I have ever known. While I accept Mailer’s premise that my unconscious resists my indecorous advances, I believe the unconscious desperately needs to unburden itself and that can very well be through the written Word.
I know that the act of writing for this blog has changed me in ways nothing else could. The unconscious will allow us to write so long as we are either unmitigated liars or relentless truthtellers—which includes exposing and owning our hypocrisy. Ain’t no half stepping. Know your category and hold fast to it. We all dance with the unconscious, we just may not know it.