30 January 2009

Sunday's Concert

I know, I know. Bruce Springsteen is doing the Superbowl, and he has gone I think a bit out of his way to disassociate himself completely from the football game to which his gig is attached. For Bruce, it would seem, the millions (I can’t recall if it is forty or ninety million) are all gathering to hear his twelve minute show. I saw a SuperBowl once(you see, I don’t even know how to spell it!), in 1969, when the Jets and Joe Namath played against the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas. New York and the Jets won. I was a New Yorker living amongst Baltimoreans. It was a patriotic act in which I participated. That was the last football game I ever saw.

I know, I know. The Stones and Tom Petty (and others) have played the Super Bowl. (Bob Dylan never played the Super Bowl, though it does thrill my heart to think of 90 million (or 40 million) people singing “There must be someway out of here, said the joker to the thief) right before the automobile commercial and right after the beer ad.)

So as I listened to my iPod this morning during a frigid run (no above 32 degree temperatures any day this entire month of January), Springsteen’s “Jungleland” came up on the shuffle. And as always the music intrigued me; suddenly, there was these guitar chords--but no, it was more: it was the sound in the guitars. I heard a defiance that I adored in rock n’roll, and that defiance was a refusal to succumb to the difficulties which the song depicted, a refusal to succumb to anything less than jubilance in the face of despair, and a refusal to defer joy. I heard in Springsteen’s music in “Jungleland” a desire to always head for the darkness at the edge of town—that is where life might be more daringly be lived. And more, that is where I think I have spent much of my time. And I’m heading out again to Jungleland on the edge of town.

18 January 2009

Analysis Terminable and Interminable

In “Analysis Terminable and Interminable,” Freud states that analysis finally must end even though analysis truly can never cease. I find his rationale so credible that I think at times I have constructed a life about it. My argument (after Freud) goes like this: we are all neurotic. None of us can have everything we desire at exactly that moment when we desire it. To our frustration we compensatorily respond: we seek something else which satisfied our drive in a way which does not threaten the social fabric. Indeed, Freud suggests that the social fabric (civilization) develops as a result of these repressions and displacements. We take the energies of our libidinal drives and channel them into something socially acceptable and even enhancing. These frustrations are neuroses, and for the most part, these neuroses do not inhibit our functionings in the world, though they certainly do direct them in a very powerful manner. For the most part, these neuroses do not debilitate.

However, sometimes, indeed, these neuroses lead to serious dysfunctionality, and to deal with this condition, one enters analysis/therapy. One addresses there the patterns of life to understand what behaviors no longer function productively, and how our inevitable neurotic responses to our lives no longer serve their previous purposes.

And the talking cure can work, and the neurosis neutralized facilitates better living. Analysis is terminated. But, since our lives are organized by neuroses, once the energy of one neurosis is neutralized, then space and energy is available for another neuroses to appear which had been held back by the power of the now neutralized neuroses to ascend to prominence. Or the space cleared by the elimination of one neurosis makes space for another one to appear. And the dynamic begins again, until this new now-functioning neurosis leads to an order of dysfunctionality sending one back to analysis. And the talking cure can work, and the neurosis neutralized facilitates better living. Analysis is terminated. But . . .

Perhaps you see the problem. Resolving one neuroses only makes space for the appearance of another neurosis possible. Analysis is interminable.
So we go through our lives energized by our neuroses and debilitated by them as well. The neurosis offers us a means of being in society. We enter analysis to return us to the constructive energy of the neurotic response which has been somehow lost through the neurotic nature of our behaviors, and in analysis we hope for the cure so that we can gather again the energy contained in neuroses.
It is a potentially exhausting pattern, or it is a very dynamic process. The ability to accept this pattern keeps me happy and productive and to succumb to the pattern leads me to unhappiness and depression.

Sometimes I consider that running long distances has served to remind me of this cycle. Finishing any one long run does not complete the process; I still have to get up tomorrow and do it again. And sometimes the runs are not at all pleasant or fun, and I sometimes (more often now than before) elect not to go out at all. It is almost always a mistake not to go, and my running partner, as would a good therapis, often helps me get out. I am always healthier as a result. Probably this is one motive for the running: it is a productive neurotic response to my life’s events, and it has become an incredibly valuable response. Long may I run. But . . . what beast slouches in my psyche waiting for its opportunity.

10 January 2009

Well into 2009 . . .

Well into 2009—almost two weeks, give or take a day or three—and the snow hasn’t fallen yet, but the temperature is dropping rapidly. Rumor says that next week the temperature will not rise above zero even in the middle of the day. There is a sense of comfort in this cold: everything seems to come to a standstill, and I have no need to go anywhere. I do mosey out to my cabin, and of course, I shop at the Coop, and I will have to go to school for a workshop this week. Well, yes, I will be outside not a little, but the cold means that the world hibernates and so can I. It is a comforting idea, even if I don’t act on it.

Saw the play Frost/Nixon. I am not sure I even watched the original interview. By 1977, I hated Nixon so deeply that I couldn’t bear to see his face. And the play was interesting enough as a portrayal of the unraveling of the man who just couldn’t’ manage to hold it together when actually confronted with his complicity. Indeed, the play didn’t show Frost as the matador (an image in the play), but as Nixon as the self-destructive bull impaling himself on the sword which had to finally destroy him. I mean, he was guilty.

Lately, I have been enjoying live theater, a form I eschewed in New York well, because of the price of tickets. I thought I couldn’t afford them (I could have), and I thought that theater had nothing to offer me (I was wrong), though perhaps at the time I was right for me. But I have been regularly these seasons to the Guthrie, and to the Penumbra, and have tickets every week for the next month. Shakespeare, and Albee, and Shakespeare again. Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun, and Tony Kushner and even some Beckett. Being in the theater makes me feel quite alive again. And just in time.

The news is all bad. And though there is only ten days away until the Inauguration, it is impossible to avoid the doom in the newspapers. The economy. The war. Bernie Madoff and Ponzi schemes. The Middle East. Afghanistan. Mumbai. And the Republicans are crying foul with Obama’s appointments who apparently are not as squeaky clean as the Republicans have been for the past eight years. Hypocrites all, they should all be ashamed of themselves. And the horror is that they wouldn’t think of being humble.