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July 14, 2007

home for a minute

I am sitting on the pillow eating peanut butter off a spoon. In this moment, there is no place I'd rather be.

Oh so tired. Was painting and dancing 'till four, then packed and drove out this morning.
poied myself in the head like 20 times last night. whatever.
Im remembering these places: being in them, not wanting to be anywhere else. Smart enough to noticce.

does feel unfamiliar, though. Always after shifted, what fits? For the first time, the pictures on the walls look like memories.
Walking to the coffee shop, thinking about different things and people---something is weird. there are things going on that I don't get to know about. Maybe at another time this would have driven me mad. Fortunately I am too tired. For tonight, I will stay out of the way.

July 11, 2007

Shahrazad

Completion of communication. Not missing parts. Time for full receiving and resolve; go all the way to the end of the exhale. Also, the giver receives the impact of what they gave, they see their effect. Often we are afraid to let an action proceed, complete and let go. We are afraid that if it ends there will never be anything else. Know that the next impulse will always come. Following through moves us forward through time. Something has happened. Something is different.

This is what actors do. Figure out what is them and what is me. You can never not be yourself.
In someone else's world, all parts and secrets of that world. They are only one piece.
There is an instant when you see the world change.

We are working with the story of Shahrazad (1,001 nights). The idea of telling stories. How we tell them to survive, and how people might be redeemed in the listening. Simply: there is a vengeful king. He caught his wife cheating and so each night he will sleep with a virgin and then the next morning, she will be killed. He does this until the only two virgins left in the kingdom are the executioner’s two daughters. There was a deal that said the executioners daughters would not have to go, but Shahrazad, the older daughter, begged her father to let her go. She went and took her younger sister with her. She hid the sister under the bed so that she might learn---from what she did right and wrong.

As the king was falling asleep, Shahrazad started telling a story. The king fell asleep in the middle. The next morning, he did not kill her because he wanted to hear how the story ended. She was very well educated and knew many stories. She kept this up for 1,001 nights. In this time, she had three sons. On the 1,001 night, the king granted her freedom from death and they were married.

My thing about all this: the stories she told were violent and demeaning to women. She was saving her own life by joining with exactly the thinking that put her life at risk. This made me wonder about the stories we tell and even the language we use (I wonder about this often). Our stories, each time we tell them, do they free us or do they keep us bound?

Also operating is the lens of the story of Lucia Joyce. “Lucia” is the piece that Mabou brought to perform and discuss and I think it is significant to the way we are seeing this story. Lucia was James Joyce’s daughter. She was institutionalized for most of her life. She was brilliant without boundaries. She was Joyce’s muse and it is thought that much of his experiments in language came from her. Jung worked with Lucia. She thought that he was stealing her soul…but maybe that was her father. Jung said of Lucia and James: two people are going to the bottom of a river. One is diving, the other is drowning.
In the telling (…researching and constructing) of the piece “Lucia” were issues of telling a real person’s story and making them property of your fiction. Appropriation, silencing and broadcasting seemed to be themes of Lucia’s life. She was silenced—she was locked up for 50 years, however, her words and musings on them have become some of the best know literature.

I was thinking about the silent partners in the creating of this reality. I was thinking about the trickiness of any stance or action. I wanted to write a subversive stance for 1,001 nights. I wondered how we could speak the unspoken. Shahrazad told so many stories, but what was her story? (in terms of the big picture of this project, the story of her emotions has been interpreted in a song that is being sung in English and Farci). Yeah. This has a lot to do with speaking the unspoken, speaking for the silenced, and also with letting the unspoken speak. Ruth worked with me on and off for over two hours, getting me to write in the voices I’ve been told not to trust.

(so these are my sections of text, they will be book-ended with a poem and, in between, other things happen. This is like the textual frame. P.S. all the while there is live music, movement, and puppets in an installation)
*************************
(1)

Yes. Sleep, you vile bastard. Stop asking me to speak. What if I have nothing else to say? What if I’ve been screaming all these years but you never heard me through my volume? What if I have nothing else to say to you? You voyeur. You’re always watching. What else can you steal? Fall apart for yourself, for once. I can’t hold anymore of your pain.

So what? She was unfaithful. Now you want to kill us all? Not me, though. You love my stories. But the stories are really you. I spit you back your own words as my dowry. Word by word, I build my tomb. But in the breath between words hangs the unspoken. The dance of these silenced women and lives cut short.

Guilty. Why am I living? I compromised just enough. Today, you said that I can live to raise our children. Now, do I live out this story I wrote? I can’t remember if this is how I wanted it to end. This breath: is this my last dream?


(2)

Sister, are you there? I guess you’re sleeping. That’s good. I want you to be happy. But I need you to listen now. You see what I’m doing here? This is woman’s work. Silence is necessary for survival. It’s okay to tell them what they want to hear.

It’s a kind of triage. Its okay if you die on the inside a little bit right now. Shhhh! Would you rather be dead? It’s time to grow up and claim your ignorance. This is what women do. The truth is spoken in code.


(3)

I am the story listener. I don’t know why.
I listen with the innocence of a child. And I am moved.
I look for the Question in this sea of answers. Maybe this world is real. For a moment,
I am redeemed. And I am in love.

They have walked off now, and left me alone. My breath is my dry tear. Inhale, and I ask: What is exhale? What does it mean to come to it’s end?

Please. Tell me what “mercy” means.
Give me refuge in your words.

*************************************************
I came with the idea of three voices and Ruth made me see how they were mine.

The first voice is my anger. Especially at the times that I’ve had to be Shahrazad and fuck and tell stories to survive. I’m cool with him now (that he’s been dead for ten years). But this voice speaks to my father.

In the second voice, Shahrazad speaks to her sister, Dinarzad. What the first voice was fighting has now been internalized. I wrote this to my sister. She’s thirteen. That is probably about right.

The third voice is the redemption. Stories build our cages, but they also free us. Maybe the king truly was transformed in the listening. Maybe Shahrazad really was transformed in the telling. Maybe they each came to a place in themselves where they really could love another. I wrote this to my path as a therapist (and as a listener in general).


By the time I finished writing, my right eye was turned all the way in. She questioned and validated me until I was looking all the way in and out. I looked up at Ruth. She said, “oh…you’re eye has a squint in it.”
“that happens sometimes”
“Lucia’s eye had a squint in it, just like that. You see it in the pictures”
“uh oh”
“no. its good! Its good. And I will have to show you the book, your notes look like James Joyce’s”
It seems I am both the diving and the drown.

July 09, 2007

"Why are you so angry?" (trickster part deux)

trickster final. This is a fucking mess. I could have written papers that were cleanner than this, but I needed to start to try.

There was a blank piece of paper and we were asked to add what was missing. Nothing was missing. The paper was perfect and complete. It was nothing and everything…it just simply was. The blank paper was the undifferentiated state. It was primary autism, the single point before the big bang; it was the instant before god did anything. Because they were told to, or for the sake of the game, and when the trickster inspired them, someone went up and drew something. We entered manifestation. One split into two and each could observe the other. Each could tell the other what they were not. As soon as something was written, we felt the weight of all that had not been written yet.
This exercise continued in the classroom long after the paper was put aside. The fight to speak from the gap of the unspoken continued between Allen and Kathleen and Allen and Rabea and also between me and myself. I felt myself ever-ranting but never feeling complete. I saw that same desperate attempt from these classmates. It is as though we are at a boundary—more like the edge of a cliff--where we have to speak up or a piece will be lost. Maybe it’s just emotion, but in these moments, it feels as though we are fighting for our lives. Of course, we could have never touched the paper; we could have never engaged at all. We could have left it perfect and complete, but that is not what happened. Also, we could have stepped out of it and called it finished at any moment; declaring it its own perfection. At any point, Kathleen could have shut up, and eventually she did…and some of us rejoiced at the band-aid.

On a break, after maybe my hundredth rant, Shannon asked me, “why are you so angry?”. I noticed that I was angry, but my only response was, “why are you not?”. There is a life force so big that it rails any category it is given. It seems that when the paper was marked, we entered duality and were forced to be only half. This life force screams for completeness and for all the pieces that have been taken away. Maybe some people have gotten good at accepting that they are only one piece. Maybe some have jumped out of it in the name of transcendence and have walked away from the paper; declaring it its own perfection. But it seems that I am still in it. The paper is in front of me and it seems to matter what mark I make next.
The trickster is that part of us that finds the missing pieces and fights for them. She is the often-unconscious call to adventure that brings people to try to see themselves more fully. Maybe the trickster is seeking a wholeness that can never be achieved. But she is the fire that reminds us to stay in it and stay fighting. Fighting—not for perfection—but for the sake of the fight itself. It seems that there is something to this game. In this paper I will discuss the anger at a perception that seems split by duality. I will consider if duality can be used to reach wholeness. I will address the fact that these are issues of the dirt. Literally they come out of the dirt as they are a questioning of what it means to be here in matter. Metaphorically they come out of the dirt as they relate to—once things split—what we push to our shadow. It is appropriate that I frame these questions through the lens of dirt because the piece my trickster is fighting for is matter, mother, earth…the Feminine.
In The Trickster Makes This World (1998), Lewis Hyde quotes the anthropologist Mary Douglas’s definitions of dirt: “dirt is matter out of place” and “dirt is the anomalous, not just what is out of place but what has no place at all when we are done making sense of our world” (Hyde, p. 176). “Dirt is always a by-product of creating order. Where there is dirt, there is always a system of some kind, and rules about dirt are meant to preserve it” (p. 176). That is to say that, if reality exists as the interplay between opposites, when we choose a stance, there is always an opposite stance not chosen. This becomes our shadow and we do everything we can to keep the shadow in its place because, if it escapes, reality as we know it is over. The fact that the word “dirt” is used for shadow feels very appropriate. When I think of dirt, I think of earth, and it does seem that matter has become our shadow.
Though it feels true, it is kind of mysterious to me why the body, the earth and the feminine have all been linked together and have all been sent to the shadow. It does seem to be an issue of creating order and control. Allen gave the theory that the feminine is linked with the body because it is mother who gave you life and brought you into this material body. And, because this material body once was born, it someday must die. Death is the ultimate loss of control, so mother, the body and the earth enter the shadow.
Hyde described shame as the rule that governs dirt. Rulers have made bodies into traps for souls as methods of social control. The body is called shameful and the body is unchangeable. If you are born into a body that is not the ruling class, there is nothing you can do but accept your place. “The construction of the trap of shame begins with this metonymic trick [equating of the body to the world of social order], a kind of bait and switch in which one’s changeable social place is figured in terms of an unchangeable part of the body…As menstruation and skin color and genitals are natural facts, so the social and psychological order become natural facts” (Hyde, p. 170).
One solution is to ignore the body and go to the spirit. This masculine part is spirit, philosophy and the abstract. It is timeless and eternal. In Psychotherapy Grounded in the Feminine Principle (1990) , Barbara Stevens Sullivan said:
“Where the Feminine accepts the weight of the body, an acceptance that necessarily includes the gruesome ills of the body and its ultimate death, the Masculine seeks to transcend the body and death. Where a feminine viewpoint urges us to emotionally experience our grounding in our physical incarnation, to relax into our being, a masculine approach seeks immortality and achievements that will live after one’s physical death.” (Stevens Sullivan, 1990, p. 21)
So, if we associate enough with spirit, and disassociate enough from the body, we never have to die. Of course this isn’t true…but maybe we can pretend it is. Transcendence has become our goal, but is transcendence avoidance? Someone can be meditating and they can either be fully sitting with what is present, or they can be totally dissociating. That is to say that we can wash our hands of the whole mess at any moment. However, this does not make the mess any better.
“The danger of the Masculine is depicted in Icarus’s fate: in trying to fly too high into the world of spirit, Icarus tried to leave utterly behind his embodiment in feminine matter, and the consequence is his disastrous fall into the arms of Mother Earth and Death.” (p.21)
In the story of the class exercise, we could have called the paper finished and put it away at any moment or we could have drawn endlessly. The students could have shut up at any moment, or they could have argued forever. If there were a real transcendence/actualization/completion/whatever, I’m not sure what it would be, but I don’t think it could float over a step on its way there. If there were a real transcendence, it would probably be quite dirty.
Back to the anger; the bitches and the witches. The feminine is also a social construct and, certainly, part of her shadow are strength and anger. In Mercury Rising: women evil and the trickster gods (), Deldon Ann McNeely said:
“Many women will confirm that experience has taught them that being strong is not acceptable. Women with strong trickster qualities, which always include some authoritarian attitudes and usually lively sexuality as well, seem to raise the defenses of males and females”. (McNeely, , p. 113)
It is important to note that strength is in the shadow of the social construct of the feminine, but is fully possessed by the feminine in general: what is stronger than the earth, what is more powerful than nature? These qualities have been repressed in real women because they remind us of things we can’t control, “they are too reminiscent of Nature herself in her wild, extravagant scattering of expansive libidinal energy” (p. 113).
I have already been perhaps subversive and used the pronoun “she” for the trickster. And I really do think that now the trickster is woman. Our repressed anima is bubbling up from the unconscious quite literally now in our wounded planet and broken logic. “It is a lethal power, this anima that is carried by women. Its deep moods, its swirling clouds of feeling and fantasy, its invitation to the deep stillness of deathly inactivity and contemplation threaten the male spirit of action and understanding” (McNeely, , p.114).
It is important to note that when I say “feminine” I am talking about three different things: there is the archetypal Feminine energy, the social construct of femininity, and real individuals living in female bodies. The archetypal Feminine and the social construct of femininity effect everyone and everything,
“When either a man or a woman is saddled with a gender-based stereotype, his or her humanness suffers. This wounding is deeper than any gender-linked wound could be. Neither the traditional man’s role, nor the traditional woman’s role is desirable when one is trying to become a whole person with access to all of one’s potential qualities.” (Stevens Sullivan, p. 15)
It is impossible to talk about these things without creating names or labels. The delicate line is between when these labels are being used to give words to speak the unspoken and when they are furthering divisions. Perhaps the trickiest element is that there are female bodied people who—like it or not, consciously or unconsciously—carry the archetype and absorb the social construct. Because of this, it is essential to find ways to talk about these things. Before I mentioned that Hyde thought that the rule that controlled dirt was shame. Well, this shame tends to result in silence. Hyde discussed the ambivalence of silence in his chapter called “Speechless Shame and Shameless Speech” (Hyde, pp. 153-172). “You and I know when to speak and when to hold the tongue, but Old Man Coyote doesn’t. He has no tact. They’re all the same, these tricksters; they have no shame and so they have no silence” (p. 153). It is important to note that sometimes silence is from keeping magic secret, sometimes silence is from having been silenced. “It is hard to travel in this fallen world if you lose the power of speech every time evil meets you on the path” (p.154).
When the trickster emerged in the women who spoke in class that day (and often in myself as well), there is a degree to which the strength of their own anima was unrecognizable to them. It is a power that they may have associated with the masculine and put in the shadow. “A soft, frilly pink doll has been left in the place of a vibrant, awesome Mother Goddess. Nowhere is that loss of vitality more clear than in the belief that passivity is feminine and activity is masculine” (Stevens Sullivan, p. 24). And for the female bodied who have absorbed these things and perhaps lost the memory of the sound of their own voice, there is also maybe the cellular memory of a time when they did speak before and died for it.
Dying—literally and metaphorically—is not the property of female bodies. Maybe they have been the container of it or the symbol of it, but death belongs to us all. Also, the death that comes from speaking the shadow belongs to us all. The moments when the trickster emerges and “one risks destroying the cosmos” (Hyde, p.157) and bringing about the death of everything one thought to be true. Things return to that blank piece of paper and wait for the first mark again. Again, must we split the world?
McNeely begins her chapter on Trickster Women by dividing the world, not into masculine and feminine, but into those who are willing to dance and those that would rather things stay still:
“It is said that in times of transition when shapes are shifting, we have to be able to dance. Now we are in a transition, and we have a tension between those who would dance, and those who would hold still and hope to keep old forms in place.
A chasm separates those who feel dance to be the most profound form of worship and those who look upon dance as evil. Can that split ever be mended? It separates us humans into practically different species”. (McNeely, p. 109)
Are we going to dance, or do we need to hold on? Are we willing, are we ready to dissolve the world as it is? And—in this dissolving—somehow step into it more fully? What would that mean?
In the introduction to The Ravaged Bridegroom: Masculinity in Women (1990), Marion Woodman reminded that “if we can stay with the pain of the death of the old, and bear the crucifixion of the transition, eventually we are born anew” (p. 8). She said of her approach, “I try to analyze where the energy is blocked (and, therefore, unavailable to the ego), how it can be released, and where it is trying to go” (Woodman, p.7). Her language feels very tactile and body based to me. It reminds me of McNeely’s idea of the dance and it gives a sense of how transformation happens in this world, instead of through transcending this world. She described in the chapters of this book different ways that our too-solid mythologies have twisted us. She shows how the boundary breaking quality of the trickster comes in when we can withdraw our projections.
“So long as these energies are projected onto others, we rob ourselves of our own maturity and our own freedom. Until we take responsibility for these projections, genuine relationship is impossible because we are entangled in our own images instead of relating to new possibilities that expand our boundaries…Freedom is not license, nor is it selfish egoism. To be psychologically free is to be confident in our own inner world, responsible for our own strengths and weaknesses, consciously loving ourselves and therefore able to love others”. (Woodman, pp. 9-11)
I have landed on an appeal for both freedom and complete embodiment. For individuation and, therefore, relationship. Each of these things only exists through the others. As the quote above suggests, one becomes free through becoming more fully responsible for the truth of their lives as they are, one comes into relationship with another through coming into more complete relationship with oneself. This has been a tricky argument; messy and dirty, especially because it is hard to know whether arguments are creating the problems or if solutions could ever be found. But the trickster insists that we mark on the paper and not stop marking.
I have addressed the trickster’s search for the missing piece through what I see as my own dirt: the feminine, the earth, and the body. These are my shadow, and I think they are asking for attention as they stand in the collective shadow as well. Ideas of earth, body and the matter of life also go towards questions of meaning and purpose. In the stories, the trickster doesn’t fight for individuation, spiritual achievement or understanding. He fights to survive. This is the fight to be here. And, given that we are here, to be here as fully we can. The trickster holds the idea that there is meaning our dirt, that this world is not empty. For me, it is the desire to accept life in all of mysteries, beyond what I could ever understand.

Hyde, L. (1998). The trickster makes this world. New York: North Point Press.

McNeely, D. ( ). Mercury rising: women evil and the trickster gods. Woodstock,
Connecticut: Spring Publications, Inc.

Stevens Sullivan, B. (1990). Psychotherapy grounded in the feminine principle.
Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron Publications.

Woodman, M. (1990). The ravaged bridegroom: masculinity in women. Toronto,
Canada: Inner City Books.


July 07, 2007

horses

I feel cracked
I feel listening
I feel honey
I feel bees
I feel pouring
I feel golden
I feel earth
I feel skydiving
I feel crooked
I feel left
I feel ruth
I feel horses
I feel women
I feel hair
I feel blood
I feel christian
I feel chicago
I feel gray
I feel brown
I feel quivering
I feel sex

We were to say one word how we felt and the partner was to physically recieve it and then do the same back. Eric and mine felt like a poem, he kept giving me my missing pieces. I think we both kept thinking, "how'd you know?"...how'd you know that thing that I didn't know.

Ruth has that effect on us in general. She talks to us literally, but it is cearly also code. Its not so much that she knows my secrets, but that she knows the secrets that I dont even know. I been around several of these sorts of people in the last few weeks.

After "I feel" we did a cat. Mine sang half the time and then went screaming some where between sex and greif. then two
plastique isolation rivers. but these rivers had banks. the first one was to be about escaping from some sort of container, each time escaping into another container. I worked with my own flesh. Escaping each layer ad each block, pulling at my mouth as though to turn inside out. Throwing my skin like clay. Each container escaped, I found myself deeper in my own skin. it is an awesome paradox.

the next river was about a kiss. Having escaped my skin enough to be inside it, I felt this deeply and beautiful. Other people's rivers turned different ways. Some felt violated. Some were being kissed by kittens or butterflies. I had a good time, and also some physical pain.

yesterday's river had no banks. we followed it where ever, letting our images and impulses travel through our skin. Mine was so different each moment. It did flow me one moment to the horses. A scene that really did happen.

Camilla and I stopped to talk to the horses. She spoke to them in three languaages. Fortunately, the one I was with spoke english. "Can I touch you?" The horse nodded no. The image haunts me and I dream it, too. The unconscious nods, "not yet".

In the river yesterday: "can I touch you? can I touch you?" I repeated it out loud. Maybe the dream drempt long enough will flow to a different answer. This time it did. this river was rushing. I dreamed them again last night, but dont remember.

Eric told me he has always dreamed of horses. Horses and circles and blood.

Last night, Mabou Mines performed Lucia, a play about James Joyce's daughter who was institutionalized most of her life. She was his muse. She was his shadow. She was silenced and appropriated. He was her down fall and her redeption. The play is written in word salad.

I did three massages today. Ive been teaching yoga each morning. Despite of these things (which usually keep me free) my body is hurting bad. I want to cry. I want Ruth to bore into my soul and tell me I have one. I wonder what I am bracing against?

I will keep repeating.
can I touch you?
can I touch you?

until the answers change.