Posts Tagged ‘penis’


an erect penis —
so much more than an item
of biology

Against the odds, I’ve managed a half-decent attempt to capture in words the flavour of last night’s dream. I found contemplation of the dream quite disturbing and depressing, and I began to despair of finding any kind of acceptable representation for the issues it raises. As a teenager, I had French horn lessons, because my father had been a French horn player. The French horn I learned on was his, the French horn teacher was someone he knew professionally. Then when I was 16 I moved to London and had a new teacher — a younger man with much more awareness of the latest ideas on horn technique. I had severe emotional problems and although obviously he could see that was the case, he rarely displayed anything other than suppressed impatience with the pathetic mass of insecurities which was me. But he was a good teacher who improved my playing, and we somehow found a way of working together. In my dream last night he seemed to be concentrating deliberately on sustaining an erection while he was teaching me. The penis was hanging visible. I thought I had to imitate him. At the literal level, I should make it clear this dream refers to nothing that ever took place in real life. At the symbolic level, I guess manhood (or assertiveness) was somehow the issue between us. I was a closet gay at that time. In the dream I was fascinated in a horrified way by the penis. In reality he was quite an assertive character. I used to hate his assertiveness, because he seemed so deliberately unsympathetic. But I had nothing better to offer.


gender boundary

white underpants flecked
with blood — somebody’s severed
penis on the bed
— too late — my own sacrificed
manhood begging to be claimed

My best effort with an impossible subject. Gender reassignment was something I considered seriously for about six months in 1990 — finally letting go the idea on the basis that, as a woman, I would look ridiculous because I’m six foot two. The poem describes the dream. The blood on the underpants implies menstruation: so maybe in the dream I have become a woman in some way that goes beyond the gender reassignment available in reality. My main worry, awake, is that in the dream I felt nothing. So the literal severing of the penis seems to find a parallel in the splitting off of my feelings (dissociation). Yesterday somebody described to me his experience of witnessing, as a twelve-year-old, a variety of gruesome scenes involving dismembered limbs and massacred bodies. Oddly enough, although I might normally worry whether I’m capable of showing enough empathy in such a conversation, I felt on this occasion that my empathy had been good. Maybe the dissociation in the dream relates directly to the situation described to me — where, as a twelve-year-old, he said he had shrugged it off as best he could. For me though, the question raised by both dream and poem has to do with my teenage gay experience. Did I become feminized by it? Or was it on the contrary, an encounter with the essence of maleness? Did I sacrifice my manhood, or own it even more than before? Both at once, I expect.


there’s a truth buried
in psychoanalysis —
to do with piecing
together the stories of
our own lives from shreds of dream

To treat dreams as shreds of evidence leading to a more complete narrative of our own lives — can be very difficult indeed — not only the effort of the venture itself, but also keeping alive the belief that it’s a worthwhile, viable, meaningful project at all. Part of me considers it the highest value in this life I am ever likely to encounter. Another part of me scoffs at the notion of any ‘High Value’. And another again is unbelievably disillusioned with the cultishness of the whole psychotherapy industry. Confused? Me too.

This morning it’s back to work after the UK August Bank Holiday yesterday. The temptation for me, waking up this morning, was to ignore those shreds of dream and let them sink back into oblivion as I myself rose from bed. I clung onto just two images: a tube journey where I felt uncertain which platform went in which direction. And the feeling (in the dream) of lying on my stomach and feeling my erect penis between me and the bed. Gradually, as I persevered with trying to write a poem, several other forgotten dreams from last night came back to me. But what on earth do they “mean”? What, oh what, oh what?