Posts Tagged ‘darkness’


what new horror lurks
in the near-total darkness
of Llandaff Road? — can
all this ignorance be mine?
— and time only compounds it

My sister commented to me yesterday that our mother has always been a drama queen. I know what she means. Yet I also suspect my dream last night took me back to Llandaff Road which was our family home for four years 1969-72, as an indication or a nudge to remember just how much drama there was back then.


timid explorer

there are degrees of
impenetrable darkness
— sometimes it’s OK
to travel no further than
the familiar unknown

I dreamed I was in France on holiday, running out of money and missing my flight home. In the dream I had a vivid enjoyment of being immersed in Parisian culture even despite whatever anxiety about money and practicalities. The poem is crap unfortunately, as it entirely fails to capture that enchantment of Paris, which was the most powerful feature of the dream, and instead interprets the general idea of France (from a UK perspective) as symbolising the familiar unknown. Much too abstract. I also dreamed of an episode of Doctor Who featuring the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Though in this case, the Pied Piper was being hypnotised by the mice rather than the mice by the Pied Piper. Mice being proverbially timid, this links up with the poem’s title. First thing this morning, before writing the poem, I did some work on improving the text of my own story for a presentation in the new year. I decided to insert a few sentences very close to the beginning which makes it quite clear (I hope) just how committed I am to the notion of ‘the unconscious’. It’s crazy stupid just how difficult I find it to talk about this when I do these presentations. I always feel it is far too intellectual and abstract. But it’s fundamental to how I see the world and it’s really the main reason why I was able to process my own madness successfully and come out the other side. Here’s the text I inserted this morning:

Surely if you’ve never questioned your own sanity — you’ve never lived. I’m someone who believes that the conscious mind is just the tip of an enormous iceberg — the unconscious mind. And madness is just simply whatever you experience when the unconscious mind takes over. Madness is therefore an opportunity for self-knowledge. 


I never told her
sorry — for the way I judged
and condemned — would she
appreciate that gesture
now, forty-five years too late?

It’s an exquisite torture when scruples pull in precisely opposite directions both at once. I would like to apologise to my stepmother for something that happened in 1972, but it may be the wrong thing to do after so much time. I woke this morning with only the vaguest recollection that I had dreamed of her. Sadly, she was not a reassuring presence in the dream — that was all I could remember. Although I get on with her fantastically well these days compared with in the past, still, even just to think of her, is, in a way, to invoke an area of pain and darkness. In the absence of any further dream content available to memory, I fell to wondering what poisoned our relationship. I first met her in 1970 when I was nearly fourteen. She was my father’s ‘mistress’ and he took me to meet her in a cafe — a deliberate effort on his part (and a laudable one perhaps) not to sweep things under the carpet. Unsurprisingly, she was ill at ease and so was I, and we did not exactly hit it off swimmingly. The second time I met her was in 1973. My parents had separated, I had moved out with my mother, and on this occasion I was using the original family home (where my father was still living) simply as somewhere to stay  — when I chanced to enter the kitchen and discovered his mistress (later my stepmother) stirring some soup on the stove. I exploded in anger. I still remember my exact words: I hope you realise my mother will want a divorce after this! Like a Victorian melodrama. My anger was fraudulent: I was aping the high moral tone which I had heard my gay lover adopt so often. Inside I was utterly at a loss for any authentic reaction at all. I have always known this. But only this morning have I wondered about the impact of my condemnation on my stepmother herself. Perhaps it had none. But I owe her still. I did wrong — and it’s scarcely any wonder, viewed in those terms, if now after forty-five years I can’t dream of her without feeling that she represents a problem. It’s all too easy to dismiss my own behaviour in 1972 for being intrinsically meaningless and a sham, and as being the ravings of a disturbed teenager. But I would prefer to take responsibility for it, and in that case I owe her sorry.


aspects of myself
remaining hidden for no
good reason at all
except that I cannot risk
entering the black darkness

It must be a couple of years now, since I re-read Dostoevsky’s novel The Devils.  It had been the 3rd Dostoevksy novel I ever read, back in 1987, and, unlike the first two, I’d found it quite inaccessible at that time. So I’d always wanted to revisit it, and happily now in my late fifties, I discovered a new translation which made all the difference. The translator was Robert Maguire and he translated the title as Demons rather than The Devils. My poem this morning is a very organic creation which for me has a quality of inevitability — I could almost believe the title was waiting for me at the end having already been decided without my knowledge. It arose from a dream in which a young man in his early twenties, who apparently belonged to some esoteric sect, was indicating in a decisive manner that I would not be granted access to the Mysteries (whatever they were: in the poem, I have interpreted them as representing the fact that I am a mystery to myself). In the dream, faced with this rebuff, I was behaving very mildly and humbly, and letting go quite successfully of my own spiritual ambition. I wonder now whether this might relate to a project I have on the go at the moment, of writing a talk to be delivered to one of the Hearing Voices Groups in London, on the subject of Spirituality and Mental Health. It’s a very exciting subject and I have found it difficult to approach without getting tangled up in my own spiritual pretensions. The temptation seems to be to use it as an opportunity to prove or demonstrate my own spirituality. Nice that the dream depicts me in a humbler frame of mind.


the Old Religion —
not dead but only sleeping
— the resurrection
of womanhood — the One True
Story nothing can prevent

This is a difficult poem to explain in a few words. Maybe it’s self-explanatory anyhow? Somewhere in the area of infinite darkness contained by the Freudian mother complex on the one hand, the Women’s Equality Party on the other — and thirdly the pagan goddess of Celtic pre-history which nobody seems entirely sure whether it (or she) ever actually constituted an organised religion — somewhere in this dark area resides the feminine deity I believe in. Oh, and don’t forget the Virgin Mary. She defines a fourth boundary to this darkness, this singularity. Maybe singularity would provide a better title, but I prefer the accessibility of feminine. My dreams last night were almost entirely forgotten, but included the idea of a threesome between me and Liz and another woman. This led me to start a poem about Ted Hughes, asking was he a sexual predator or a victim of the goddess he believed in. But I abandoned it as it became clear I needed all thirty-one syllables to do anywhere near justice to the barest mention of the goddess.


absolute evil —
give me the grace to own it
— blinding nuclear
annihilation doesn’t
happen to me — it is me

I slept with my partner Liz last night for the first time since my latest pornography lapse two weeks ago. The cat interrupted our beginnings of lovemaking, and as a consequence I fell asleep. I then dreamed of a nuclear bomb being dropped into a kind of trench (vagina?) a few hundred yards away from me. The flash came and I knew it meant certain death, yet somehow I had the time and the mental resources to notice my own cowardice — even more disturbing than the inhuman evil of the flash itself — whereby I found myself hoping to get in the shadow of a nearby building and somehow save myself. And in that moment I knew I cared more about myself than either my mother or Liz. I’m intrigued that the word ‘shadow’ in this context appears as the only positive symbol in an utterly horrible dream. Yesterday I was thinking about Jung’s use of the word, because of having texted someone about the ‘shadow side’ of ‘overcaringness’. I wondered if she had understood, and told myself that, because material objects do have a quite literal ‘shadow side’ when lit by the sun — it must be therefore a pretty self-evident metaphor. My poem is called Caliban because of the words of Prospero at the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, where he says (referring to the monster Caliban) …this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine …. — which, heard through Jungian ears, is a way of saying ‘I acknowledge the evil parts of my own personality’. I take Jung’s ideas around evil very seriously.

morning prayer

letting light into
a darkened bedroom – may I
perform this action
with proper reverence for
Nature’s raw materials

I attended Mass yesterday evening, and during the sermon found myself getting a bit emotional with love for the priest (Fr Tom Forde of Our Lady Help of Christians Kentish Town) whose sincerity and intelligence is really quite something. He made some reference to the idea of making time every morning and evening for prayer. It’s likely this may have led to last night’s dream of opening a curtain and letting the light in. Reverence for the light (and, I suppose, fear of the dark) is surely religion at its simplest and most basic. For Jung, the psychology of the unconscious seems to have been, in many ways, simply a logical extension of this. He constantly uses the opposites of light and darkness, conscious and unconscious, interchangeably — the word metaphor is far too weak to cover this interchangeability. It’s a metaphor which seems always, in my mind at least, to want to tip over into literalism. In some mysterious way I will never understand, I believe light and consciousness to be a single phenomenon.