Saturday, August 9, 2014

Magical Thinking

I am one of those confused persons who doesn’t know what he believes, but knows what he doesn’t believe. As an example, I don’t believe in Fairy Stories about a bearded old man who sits up in the clouds, and who takes a personal interest in the affairs of each and every one of us, whilst he is being serenaded by angels. 

On the other hand, there are things not to be believed in, but known. And I know as surely as if it was established scientific fact that there is more to the world, more to the known universe, more to life than meets the eye: and much more than we the living can ever hope to comprehend. This is exactly why the minds of man come up with mythologies, to explain the unexplainable. And while I’m interested in mythology as a subject, I can’t be brought to believing in the gods of the established modern religions any more than I believe in Thor, Zeus or Cthulhu.

Nestled in the realm of the unexplainable is the mystery of our own minds, and the still-unscientifically-defined power that our minds wield in so many different aspects of our lives. 

My mental landscape was, for a year and a half or thereabouts, in the best condition that it ever had been, but by the early part of this year it had begun to teeter. Then came the devastating (not too strong a word) blow that I took at the personally disastrous Maine Comics Arts Festival in early Spring, surrounded on both sides by a flood of death, death and more death in the family, and the increasingly emotionally taxing business of life; by last week, in the wake of my Pandy Bear’s death, I had fallen so low that… I won’t say that I hit rock bottom, but you don’t want to get any lower than where I was. 

While doing research for the new tarot book I discovered a fascinating periodical called New Dawn, and while I don’t believe everything I read there, I do find almost every theory that it discusses to be fascinating on its own terms, real or not. (The writing, by the way, is largely not in the category breathless and unthinking belief, but simply of asking questions and examining potentials). So many possibilities, and sometimes imagining the mere possibility of the possible in this wild uncharted place we call life is an enlightening end in itself… just reading about theory of mind is likely to change your way of thinking, whether you believe it or not.

And a few days ago, the imaginative thought occurred to me that I was under active psychic attack: which attack was having excruciating physical consequences in addition to the damage it was doing to my thinking and my moods. It would be too dramatic for me to believe that I was being attacked by an outside force, by an entity or, in the language of religion, a demon with a mind and will of its own. But it’s eminently believable that the attack was coming from a part of my own psyche.

I dreamed last night, vividly, and with continuity across disturbed periods of sleep, that I was being mentally attacked by a crazed performance artist who had the power to alter every aspect of the world. This person was neither male nor female, but took on, at times, the aspects of both. The dream began with my mother and other close friends coming under the influence of this exotic and powerful artist. There was to be an exhibition of her work: and while attending this so-called exhibition (which involved no displays of paintings or things like that), I suddenly realized that every person in attendance, including myself, was a part of the exhibition, and that everything I did was orchestrated according to her plan, even when I defiantly refused to co-operate. I walked out of the event and shucked off the costume I had forced to wear (a leather jacket, in part); but the artist came after me, and soon the entire world began to change around me, at his whim: the harder that I tried to escape his “art,” the more elaborate it became and the more it entrapped me: as an example, the field I had come into turned into a shopping mall that had no escape: it literally folded and unfolded around me as I sought for the exit. In the end, the only escape I had was to wake up.

So — since I’ve already stated that I don’t believe in demons, and since I have always believed that all of the characters and settings that appear in a person’s dreams are aspects of their own psyche, the message that I was creating my own prison, my own entrapments seems more or less obvious.

The dream came after a roughly thirty-six hour period in which I could feel myself letting go, in which I metaphorically and literally began to start taking some deep breaths, in which the excruciating physical pain that I had been experiencing for nearly a week began finally to abate. I stopped taking all the things that I had been taking, unsuccessfully, to mask the pain and allow me to walk without wanting to scream or cry. I began programming my mind with positive statements. Today I am walking normally without pain, and taking no medicines of any kind. 

I don’t believe it’s a cure-all and I do believe that it’s something that has to be consciously maintained. A cycle of depression and self-loathing seems to feed itself very well, thank you very much, but feelings and thoughts of a positive nature need to be constantly reinforced by exercises from without. When I stopped doing that — that’s when I started to teeter. And so I made myself vulnerable to Events. 

And the Events have been horrible, I must say. This really has been a god-awful year. 

It’s time I started fighting back.

To be fair, I think I come by it honestly: the psychical inheritance I get from my father’s side of the family is one of religious mania, depression, alcoholism, tragedy, austerity and possibly Asperger’s. It is almost purely Swedish and Polish, and all you have to do is watch a single Ingmar Bergman movie to know that Swedes are the product of long, dark winters. Thank Agon that I’m balanced out, at least a little bit, by mother’s creative spirit and her much more colorful and positive family history, which is included, but not limited to, Germanic, Italian, Scots, and British roots. Whereas on my father’s side I am evenly divided into two shades of black, on my mother’s I am very much a brightly colored mongrel. 

I have a boatload of tools to aid the mind in its search for the positive, including but not limited to books, mental exercises, a couple of indoor fountains, and some lovely iPad apps that are genuinely calming in their effect. I haven’t used them in some considerable while. Time I fired up the engines once again and set my mind on a different course.

— Freder.

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