It's been a week since I've written to you, and even though I have no idea who you are, really, you can't deny that you just hit on me. It might be a quick glance and then moving back or home, or you might stay and look around. What's been gnawing on me lately is why I write when nobody's paying me for it. And I came across a passage in my current bathroom book that was relevant. The book is, "Boundaries of the Soul: The Practice of Jung's Psychology," by June Singer.

This might seem a tad heavy for most people who have a bathroom book. I understand there are some people who have bathroom magazines and I'm sure there are people who shit to the tune of Rubik's Cube or even Olson's Standard Book of British Birds. The point is to elevate your mind while your body takes a shit, so as to achieve a state of nirvanic balance between the polarities.

This allows the two seemingly opposite poles to exchange energies. If you don't shit you die. If you don't think, you shrink. If I asked myself why I am writing my answer would be that it is a form of exercise that forces me to make conscious choices, as billions of cells fire off a range of often conflicting possibilities and I get caught in the crossfire. On the right hand, the logical pathways are symbolized by a sword which gets to the point and divides in order to organize.

"It penetrates, no? This rapier?"

"Yes it does, Don Francisco."

There is a point to linear thought, or even a Power Point to it, and there is an organization chart. On the other hand it imports from outside by converting into its logic, and, as with radical religion, what does not convert is not relevant. What interests me is the practice of shifting back and forth between two processors of different design and being conscious of what I'm doing. Perfect balance, and thus Integration of these two worlds occurs only briefly, and under optimum conditions, such as reading Singer in the toilet for example.

Many of you have already seen this piece on TED, but if you haven't, it's the account of a brain scientist who had a stroke and recovered from it to speak of what she learned of the two sides of the brain.

I sent a link to my old friend Diane, who is in New Zealand, and she wrote, "I'd like to experience that without the blood clot and eight years of recovery." The funny thing is that I know she has experienced it without the blood clot and eight years of recovery. People who experience it think it's normal to experience oneness with everything. They have sacrificed, not the ego itself, but ego supremacy. When I wrote back to Diane I tried to express this:

The trouble with my shadow is that because he has the run of the place I never know where he's going to show up today.  Sometimes he's timidity and sometimes he's poetry.  "Welcome to the Garden Club, ladies. Today we have a special guest, whose new volume, 'Timid Poems for Avid Readers,'  is a lovely companion to upscale masturbation."

"Wats dat?"

"Ah, I didn't see you there in the shadows, dear."

"It's okay.  I dat blue black yafta adjust your eyes to see.  But I am wonderin' wats dat upscale masturbation you was speaking about?"

"Its a matter of vocabulary, dear.  For example, doesn't Mound of Venus sound more friendly than, say, Cunt?  Or even Quim?"

"Mound of Venus?  Sounds like da grave to me."

"Really?  This may be off the subject, dear, but do you like vanilla pudding?"

"I do, yes ma'am."

There's a lot of fun to be had with the recognition that the ego is not the end product, but the scaffolding which will be removed once construction is complete. I suppose you get some novel ways out of the process, such as Sarah Winchester's dance with the dead. "There are many rooms in my father's house, and he certainly can compartmentalize."

This linear process isn't very interesting if it's just plow the row and turn around and plow the row and turn around .... It picks up some entertainment value if it develops parallel processing, which then allows two lines of logic to be intersected, as Diane demonstrated in this passage:

 just heading to bed with hottie and sweet
pea, now how many cats have their own cat food made
for them with organic home-grown veges, ckn gizzards,
necks and livers,...  sprinkled with yeast....  I ask
you...  But what a nice shiny coat...  that'll be one

There is the mixture of the nourishing mother, which would be deadly at the level of cooking gourmet meals for cats if not counterbalanced by an appearance by Cruella DeVil. who's just feeding the innocents so that she can make a coat out of them. (How does James keep up with you?)

So you see, writing is a kind of digestive process, because at the start I had no idea this was going to devolve into toilet humor as the counterweight to Jungian analysis. I was going to borrow from Singer the explanation for why we do art and give it away, so I'll turn back to it: On page 150 she begins a discussion of a client named Eric, who is a high school art teacher whose art has become progressively more more conventional and slick as he has tried to establish himself in the eyes of others.

He went through the breakup of a love affair, and joined an encounter group to find relationships which were non-binding, and provided a non-judgemental support and intimacy. "One afternoon had been devoted to making abstract paintings in which people were to attempt to portray graphically the feelings that each one was then currently experiencing. Eric was able, he said, to forget his learned techniques, and to return to a spontaneous way of playing with colors on a huge sheet of paper. In his painting he expressed the height and majesty of high mountains, the airiness of the sky, the verdure of growing things, and all throughout a sense of pervading sunlight. He was sure it was the most beautiful painting he had ever done, even though there was no evidence of artistic 'method' in his work."

There was a man working near Eric, named Jim, whose style was very primitive. Small constricted forms were isolated on a blank field. While psychologically Jim's work betrayed a lack of self confidence and even naivete, Eric found the patterns interesting. Jim thought nothing of his own efforts, but was especially impressed by Eric's painting. So Eric offered to exchange paintings with Jim. Something about this process, and the exchange, provided Eric with a peak experience of well being and joy. What was it that provided him this shift, was the focus of the following session.

"The first part of the answer came from the recognition that he had not really 'tried' to make a beautiful painting. He had not had to rely on what he had been taught, he had not needed to perform in a technical way, he had not even thought about what he was doing. He had simply opened himself up and the painting had come out as if it had been given to him. He had the feeling that he had broken out of the boundaries of his own personality, and had become lost in the sense of an all-encompassing space of which his sheet of paper was only a tiny fragment, but nonetheless a microcosmic element of the whole as a drop of water carries within it the whole of the ocean."

When Eric looked at Jim's painting it took him back to his first efforts, which were in response to his having seen a therapist when he was about five, and was having some behavioral problems. The therapist had encouraged him to learn to draw as a way of expressing himself in a non-verbal way, so he began art lessons. By the time he was grown he had an easy competence with art, but had lost his connection to oneness with the world around him.

"... quite unconsciously it came to him that Jim longed for the artistic quality of Eric's being through Eric's painting. That painting had represented an easy, spontaneous competence. Each had something of the other in his painting. Eric knew with an inner knowledge that the paintings had to be exchanged, and so they were."

And Singer does her analysis to sum up:

"But the second insight that came out of the analytic confrontation in which all this was discussed was even more important. It involved something which Eric surely knew, but which had yet to be brought to consciousness, and the analytic exchange served to do so. Taking my lead from his assertion that his painting was 'given' to him, and therefore could be given away, I sensed a profound religious emotion in Eric that was struggling for expression. It was that of being overwhelmed with gratitude in the sudden knowledge that he could give the picture away, because the picture was not the important thing; the important thing was the capacity to create the picture. And whoever is given that, is rich, he can give away the fruit of his craft over and over again, and never be impoverished.

"The ever-present stream of creative energy flows into him and through him. The second is important, it must flow through, for if it is held in, stopped, if the painting and all it meant had been held onto, the flow would have been dammed up, the precious waters of creativity would have become stagnant. So Eric began to understand not only why he could give away his painting, but also that he had to give it away. And in so doing, he had not only broken through the dam in his own soul, but had started a reciprocal movement in Jim."

"Okay that's a wrap. Cut ... and, flush."

Posted: Fri - April 4, 2008 at 02:18 PM