Capsules • 27 June 2010

Hello, basement. The twitter stream for “tornado Ann Arbor” is pissed, with half the town sitting at the bottom of our basement steps tapping smartphones on a sweltering weekend afternoon. It’s the third alarm this month. Feels like the local tornado scout has an itchy siren finger.

This is a weird way to live: always on the edge of spontaneous retreat to the basement—a 10 x 20 foot dirt cell lit by four naked bulbs. I always fancied the idea of prison –an opportunity to simplify and focus, make something out of nothing. Just pushups and poetry, becoming a number. But somehow, without a place to pee and given my alternate plan (to skate all the way to Ypsilanti on the smooth curving path that banks the Huron), the practice of radical acceptance got gummed up. Stupid tornado.

Fussiness. Noun. A habit of foraging for negative stimuli. A closing of the gap between stimulus and response. Cultivated reactivity.

I’ve actually been fussy since Friday. But, you know, I have a lot of atmospheric and astral justifications for this attitude. I’m currently inside a whole Russian Doll of bad mood excuse capsules: high pressure storm system, full moon, eclipse, grand cross.

Funny how one must become increasingly gullible—or sensitive?—to attribute causal power to each successive layer of the surroundings. Personally, my subscrption stops at the moon. From barometer to telescope, I’ll allow that I’m affected by storm systems and—recent years—by lunar cycles. But come on. My theory of action-at-a-distance stops at eclipses and downright scoffs at the planet Mars.

Eclipses and Mars do things insofar as we organize culture so that they do things. I’m not really playing those meaning games even though you could use my experience (or any other) to confirm them. Sorry. Positivist language games are circular like that.

Anyway. When you click with someone, it’s because the two of you share a metaphysical envelope. The beauty is that this epimestological comraderie is something you just sense–it’s all gut, no analysis. People’s deep structures sound each other out though jokes and smalltalk, movements of the face and body, clothes and rhythm.

The secret code I scan for is a light cynicism filtered through mystic love and expressed in multiple disciplines with impeccable grammar. Major shifts in my own identity have to do with a devaluing of this secret code—a recognition that even those few who have it are not more “my people” than the “others.” The erstwhile others being, for example, new age hippies (whose metaphysical envelope is huge, rotted-out, and nearly threadbare—a bum’s blanket) and positivists (whose envelope is barely there, like skin-colored lingerie).

And yet, even though I see through my own secret code, there are about five people who put me at ease in this special way, because they occupy the exact same credulity-space that I do. What’s WEIRD is that these are the only people who enjoy it when I get pissed off. My hostile self amuses them and is my best chance for earning their love. I don’t know why… maybe because my irratibility affirms that the envelope still has an edge. They like that we can share one shelter… or one cell.

Where am I going with this? I dunno. Fussiness, layers of belief, language games, being stuck in the basement waiting for the devil’s index finger to pass over the tops of our trees.

Here’s why I’m seeing the envelopes. It’s the psychoanalysis.

Therapy doesn’t work unless you background its assumptions—if only for that hour on the couch. For very good reason, when I was younger I violently hated those assumptions and the labels they rendered. But now that I’ve provisionally, curiously accepted this language game, I’m finding therapy to be one of the most revealing, difficult processes to undergo. I really want to write about it: both the method and the things it reveals are fascinating. And because the central dynamic is the uncovering of major patterns hidden in plain sight, the process is self-softening and sometimes outright funny. Insofar as I can open up to it, therapy appeals to my basic aesthetic: a fascination with that which is hidden, with the highest reverence for that which is explicitly left implicit. (Such as the values and the faith and the sense of unity across individuality that would make this work worthwhile in the first place….)

I also want to write about therapy because we are all so crazy. In particular, the more we rely on the yoga on to tranquilize ourselves, the more we get locked in our projections. The further we get from society and work and family life, the less feedback we get. But vrittis are different from samskaras. Just because we can calm the former doesn’t mean the latter release… in fact, in a way I feel that the patterns in my psyche have solidified because I spend so much time free from them when my mind is quiet. It’s kind of a setup for what they call spiritual bypassing.

The problem with writing about therapy is that it feels like a violation of my relationship with the therapist, Owl Whisperer. This person is really gifted, setting such a tone of spontaneity and non-reactivity that my talking stops its story-telling and just opens up. The usual irritations of being prompted and seen are softened because Owl Whisperer is mostly androgynous, ageless, disinterested but extremely attentive, and very, very well practiced. We take tangents with confidence that consistency is a limitation, push as often as possible with things I almost can’t bear to hear, and get quiet when we hit an air pocket.

How can someone be direct, even confrontational, and merciless on BS while at the same time holding a space of uncompromising acceptance, compassion and support? This is the kind of results-driven flow that makes sense to a yoga practitioner, but it’s not the same as the yoga. At all. Really, these language games have almost nothing in common because they address vastly different aspects of a human. (Admittedly, though, it kind of doesn't matter that their causal envelopes don't overlap.) The only way to hybridize them, to my eyes, is to apply both processes to the same subject and see how she makes practical use of the mix.