Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

from nowhere

affection, goodwill,
tolerance and love — these are
essential to life
— ultimate test of human
creativity — find them!

Weird dream in three parts, each part involving a different person. (1) a senior manager at work (2) my stepmother’s mother (long dead) (3) my father. With each of them there was a sense as though I was enjoying a good relationship. This was more of a surprise with my stepmother’s mother, less of a surprise with my father and not really a surprise at all with the senior manager. I was struck, awake, with how tenuous and fragile and limited the goodwill felt, in all three cases. This had partly to do with my apparent deafness. I kept having difficulty hearing what they were saying. I wasn’t sure I really cared. Maybe it was even deliberate. Awake, this led me down some fascinating paths of thought. Where on earth does the quality of goodwill, which is so important, come from? Are we ourselves responsible for generating it singlehandedly? Clearly not. It feels as though it is more of a gift that we can never quite rely on completely. Hugely mysterious. I am quite pleased, in this instance, the poem says it better than I can in prose!



where does it come from?
— what is it? — reason demands
we interrogate
rationality — and then
simply comes to a dead stop

I’d like this poem to have punched a bit harder . It’s too ‘wordy’ — but the basic idea is good. I dreamed I was trying to get myself across Europe by train and/or taxi to a wedding. But it was clear I was going to be very late. I was struck by how, suddenly, the sister of the bride seemed to me like a very important person, where previously I had neglected to notice her. The whole significance of weddings seemed to lie in sisterhood. Awake, I fell to thinking about how weird it is that there are so many social rituals — like Christmas for instance, and like weddings — which we embrace in an utterly mindless manner. Something is at work in us, which overrules rationality totally, and which does so while evading detection. Then it occurred to me that the real mystery is rationality itself. We take our own rationality for granted without ever asking how we acquired it, or how it came into existence, or why it seems to be only human beings who possess it. It’s the most miraculous thing. If reason itself is a miracle, then the rational world view is not merely a bit limited — it’s completely deluded. And yet it feels so utterly self-consistent and stable and valuable.


to indulge my own
magic generosity
— spending money I
don’t have on things I don’t want
for reasons I cannot grasp

I dreamed I was buying theatre tickets for my stepdaughter and a bicycle for Liz. Felt likely I might be exceeding my overdraft limit thereby. It’s a type of problem all too familiar from real life and I’m glad of the opportunity to quiz myself whether I regard it as an unimportant weakness or an important one — or maybe not as a weakness at all. Clearly, not knowing why I do it is one thing. But not knowing what I think about it, is a bit pathetic. There is a severity associated with the proper use of money. I suspect by refusing to take that severity into myself (i.e. refusing to live within my means) I am actually somehow the slave of the very thing I am trying to deny. In other words, I would rather be generous than severe. But I am so one-sided about it, it means logically that all my severity is gathering strength in the unconscious.

I am part

mountainous terrain —
incomprehensible tongue
— deepest mystery
of the human soul — lovers
here, now — nowhere, never — look!

Difficulty getting back in my stride after writing no poem yesterday morning. But the effort this morning has paid off I think. Very pleased with this. I particularly like the title, which I struggled to find. The opposite of ‘I am part’ would be ‘I am whole’, and wholeness is supposed to be the goal of the Jungian path (to which I am pretty well committed). But ‘I am part’ suggests being ‘part of’ a greater whole. Part of a pair of lovers. Part of a mystery. Part of the human race. There was a mystical euphoria for me in writing this poem. It may be derivative, since the final line of the poem clearly recalls the euphoric last words spoken by King Lear in the play by Shakespeare. I dreamed last night of my teenage gay lover, who in fact introduced me to the wonders of King Lear, which I still love, almost more than any other single work of literature. I was cradling him against my breast in the dream, in a way that recalls my embrace of my aged mother in real life last time I said goodbye to her on Friday. She is getting old and confused and, in order to get through to her, I am getting more physically confident to embrace her than I have ever been in the past. My dream last night also included quite literally a scene in the mountains where I seemed to be in France and unable to understand the language being spoken (in real life my French is so basic as to be practically useless). I feel this poem hangs together as a poem, which is more than I usually expect. As I explain on the ‘about’ page, I write as therapy not as art.

male gaze

all women — except
lesbians — are expected
to participate
in the male ego’s crazy
insane wish-fulfilment game

The title came after the poem. And I do not know much — or anything — about what ‘the male gaze’ means to Laura Mulvey who coined the term. In fact I first heard the phrase about 12 months ago and assumed it just meant the way men stare at women. I only found out otherwise by reading Wikipedia just now. The poem came out of a very poorly-remembered dream in which the revelation that someone was a lesbian seemed very important, and otherwise, I was hooking up determinedly with a variety of female strangers (i.e. women who weren’t based on anyone I know, or know of, in my waking life). Awake, I fell to reflecting on how odd it is that there are these two genders, male and female, and that all my life I have accepted the fact of heterosexual desire because I seem to have no choice in the matter. There must be a better vantage point. But I cannot reach it. I am a man in a world consisting of men and women. I have almost no understanding at all of what sexual desire is, or how it works, or what it signifies. In this I believe I am typical of my species. It’s theoretically possible that individuals other than myself may have achieved the understanding I lack. But all the signs are, that this is not the case, and that, if anything, I am unusual for being able to recognise my own ignorance. Most human beings seem unable or unwilling to feel challenged by the opaque mystery which is our own sexual behaviour, preferring instead to take it for granted as a given fact of existence.


night terror — the dark
is powerful, the mind is
dark — the will wants good
but does evil — night terror
deliver us from evil

The word Christian is a mysterious one, for me. I believe it’s quite possible Christianity has done more harm than good in the world, not just by supporting wars of every conceivable description, but psychologically by perpetuating a literal against a symbolic understanding of the story of Jesus and thereby depriving all of its adherents of their rationality and hence of their wholeness. It’s possible to believe the Gospel story literally only by suppressing one’s own (healthy) scepticism. Hence all Christian believers are engaged in a constant ‘doublethink’ — a more or less unconscious (but nevertheless deliberate) decision to drop one’s aspirations towards inner consistency of thought, at least in this one area of the Christian mysteries. Also Christian symbols themselves are over-optimistic in what is, for me, an unhelpful way. The world is clearly not saved, despite whatever happened on the cross two thousand years ago. To say that it is, is just more doublethink.

That’s my (very mild) tirade against the Christian religion. And once all that has been said, I am still a Christian, and I don’t fully understand why. The title of my poem was easy enough to arrive at, given the last line being a quote from The Lord’s Prayer. But the poem is an attempt to give shape to some very evil dreams last night, and I am pleased with the accidental dissonance between the upbeat attitude normally implied by the term Christian, and the very downbeat poem. I am a Christian without being your usual run-of-the-mill traditional Christian. But at the same time, there is a resonance between Christian irrationality and fear — and my own in this poem.

Some of the evils I was confronting in my dream last night were: post-nuclear-holocaust Paris and London; my father boasting that his side of the family contained no “serial…..[killers? rapists? child-molesters?]”; systematic intimidation of ordinary people by the secret services, employing anal rape; unbelievable distress of a ‘woodcraft’ worker, who had been fired thanks to government policy and had been unable to find any livelihood since.


there are so many
different kinds of power —
even self-knowledge
is power — I swell with pride
at the sweet fuck all I know

I want so strongly to believe I possess self-knowledge. The self-knowledge I crave consists in grasping how much of myself remains unknown, inaccessible, mysterious — and yet powerfully active at every waking (and sleeping) moment. Knowledge of the unknown self — what an amazing paradox that is. It’s why I’m still enthralled to depth psychology even after forty years of questioning the validity of it. In my dreams last night I was sitting at a computer keyboard trying to deal with a screen that invited me to change my password. Simultaneously I was grappling with the familiar temptation to view pornography, which spilled over into waking life for a period of about twenty minutes upon waking. It’s very curious that I continue to suffer in this way. I can’t think of circumstances in which surfing the internet would not be an exercise of power — even where it’s a compulsion and therefore an expression of powerlessness — power is still the issue. It’s usually helpful for me to remember this at moments when it might seem as though physical pleasure was the primary temptation in pornography.