A time of flickering changes, referents –
going through books, CDs, tech, implements and bowls and glasses, my office at school, my office at home, the living room, the kitchen: the world of things. There are burdens here, and entanglements – I am approximately as good at letting go the world of things as I am at, say, flying. And I mean while using my arms to do it.
Much of this going-through-things is not difficult, a pleasure: reconnection. I remember everything, I see everything: books are off the floor and in order. Perhaps 10% are gone, which gives a greater clarity to the rooms, to my mind.
CD cases, spoons....
More and more, it is not all done alone – Robert comes over to get the sofa, Makis offers to help.
Norma brings Peter over to look at all the audio systems, to decide what to replace: and he is pleased, there is good kit here, we can reorganize... a server, digital and analog transfer points....
A certain returning pleasure in things: they look cleaner, more interesting.
Science fiction paperbacks. Linen shirts from Hong Kong.
I am aware, have long been aware, that my attachment to masses of things – ordered, organized, shelved; and now digital things, and things that are plugged in or are not, things with pages or plastic cases, things on hangers and in drawers – is a dominant part of my life.
When situations have crashed or gotten rough – the move to San Francisco, carrying a suitcase and duffle bag from neighborhood to neighborhood while looking for a place to live (had I not heard of storage lockers?), that confused landing in a too-small rented space in Los Angeles, then squeezing into the beautiful hilltop apartment back in San Francisco where I was for a year (but there wasn't room for it all), the crash landings in Berlin, the third return to a dark, grimy apartment in San Francisco – the chaotic collapse of moving from Hong Kong to, well: to a kind of vanishing space in the middle of the air –
and finally pushing everything into this apartment, where I have been for sixteen years:
see, I recognize this now – this is like Richard Toop's apartment in Sydney, like Fred's apartment in Los Angeles – I am that mad person who collects far too many things.
And how many years out of the last sixteen have I wanted to get rid of things? But it was too hard, too confusing, too heavy.
Shoes and sneakers; shampoo bottles from good hotels.
The books in my university office have a gritty dust at the edges, but that is the fault of the construction guys in the previous building, who promised to cover them and did not; at this point I'm resigned to the fact that these things will not be free of grit in my lifetime.
Perhaps afterwards, in used bookstores and a library, they will be cleaned.
In some moods, of course, this is merely further proof of the chaos that lurks in the world, the one against which I am so defensive. If I were one of my own analysands, I would raise an eyebrow: do you see how heavy these things are for you? Like... like all the spirits Marley invokes in A Christmas Carol: wailing through the night, trailing long chains of money-boxes....
Bowls from Japan, bowls from Spain. A blue glaze, especially beautiful.
Things... yes, I promise you, despite my personal limitations, I do keep thinking: am I not near an age when people in older cultures would give up everything, just hold on to a saffron robe and a begging bowl?
The house and everything in it goes to family, to neighbors: here, it's yours, take it.
I can't really manage that kind of freedom....
A small cat carved in obsidian; an afghan blanket knitted by my mother.
So angry over the past couple of years: Brexit, and world confusion. Will I move to Barcelona, or will I live here for the rest of my life? Of course there are many things to consider, to imagine, to wonder about; but at the back of all of them is the awareness of things, of taking things and ordering them and finding space for them. Including the sense that, if I never managed to settle down in Barcelona, it would be so difficult to move back – as it was so difficult to move to San Francisco, Berlin, to be deported, to...
well: take each situation, and see that this is the opposite of a free and cheerful backpacker.
The drawer is full of pens and small paper and plastic tags. Which are useful?
An online exchange with an old friend, late at night: he is now on the wrong side of political history (I hope so, anyway).
I am strangely enraged: this is not a confrontation I have often (it helps that I do not live in the US, that I am an academic, that I am gay – the probability of getting into these discussions has been gratifyingly minimal).
Angry, ruthless: I am without mercy, but afterwards not at peace.
A world tilting towards ruin, and this is one of the fools who wants it to tilt further – those people who say, Let it all burn: do they realize what that is really like, when it all does burn?...
Boxes of papers from, at least, four decades. Or more perhaps.
it is the end of a long dream; details blur and go out of order, but that doesn't break up the charged feeling.
We are walking a long way through the waste, sometimes a desert, sometimes beneath a dark, huge building. He is a big man, a bit cold and distant; at some point in the long trek he takes my bag from me and trudges along with it.
At another point he wants to climb down into a huge deep, very dark, area carved into rock, or built from metal, which has a metal ladder that seems to lead down; when he goes over the edge I am horrified, because it looks as though he will fall for miles – but then it is clear he is standing a ledge that is just a few feet down and in lighter colors, like painted cement, it’s not so dangerous; it has a ramp that leads downward more gradually.
When we finally arrive he no longer has my bag, and he doesn't care – it is lost somewhere, in a long trip across many places. I am desperate and enraged, I attack him – it had everything in it. He doesn't care.
I can't remember what was in the bag, so I can't replace things.
Later, without transition: a woman, cynical – she seems to be the one who lost the bag, I remain enraged, I try to hit her.
She finally seems to know where the bag, and some of its contents, might be – it may have been taken by one of the servant women when they were taking care of children (a flash: one of them, a simple dress and a scarf over her head, with a child in a small park).
As I wake, emotionally filled, charged – grieving and painfully angry, but not, somehow, confused – and I try to write down the dream – it seems clear: this is all one emotional world – this is not a dream where narrative or symbols really matter, this is not a reference or reproduction:
it's enacting an emotional cluster that has its own strong reality – stories and ideas may pass through it, but they don't much matter.
What matters is the feeling of loss, of failed self-protection, of rage, of sadness – the sense that these people don't care what I've lost; and my reaction to that is astounding, it overpowers, it drives me.
The two figures are sort of – possibly – like Vincent D'Onofrio, and Madonna, respectively. In the dream they are not famous people or dazzling in any way: they are just... cold. Strong, hard. Uncaring.
I am full of rage and grief, and they don't seem to care: I am despairing and lost, and they are cold to it. A sense that this rage is familiar – me as youngest child; losing everything as a familiar feeling; the heartless coldness of everyone older.
The way I keep being tough with others: it is a reflection of people seeming cold to me about things I’ve lost.
Medications and vitamins and bags to hold them in; and spices, whole and ground, red and black.
All of this Sunday morning, I am... not drained, not exhausted; but it's true, this dream hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm moving slowly, reacting in a detached manner to messages.
A sense of going through the dream, and all that it means: all the fragments of behavior and rage and panic and protection and coldness – many spinning flashes from my life are embedded in this cluster of loss and defense: when Patrick moved my books out of order as a joke, and I was so angry – the last carton shipped from Berlin that broke in the post office, and not knowing what was lost – or all the way back to that earliest memory, at three years old, watching the family pack the moving van, but I think I will be left behind; and I watch, devastated, as they leave – and take all the things –
... In some ways this is not difficult to explain, or to bring into focus: not now, after so many years of looking into myself – but yes, it is strange: because it is so obvious, isn't it? Invisible until now...
though perhaps many in my life have seen this in me.
As M. said, so long ago: if your analysis works, you will be the last to understand why.
Tired. But with a large clarity, a kind of release.
Breathing; a certain exhausted lightness....