Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Pricing of Art Versus Pricing Potatoes - March 25, 2016

I am an artist, have been since about three or four years old. Why?—Because I was bored and someone gave me pencils, some pictures of berries and showed me how to copy them. For some obscure reason the process became interesting for me. I also did not have any other children to play with, besides a cat, and lived on a secluded farm with two adults, two parents and two grandparents. No TV, no heat, no mail,  no hot water, no heating in winter,  yes, a radio…about 8 miles out of Rome Italy  , 1941.
    No, we were not poor, we had near-to- slaves working on my Grandfather’s land. I also started writing poetry when I was six years old. My Mother schooled me.  I also saw real works of Rafael and Titian when I was 7 years old, at 8 years  old, during WW11  I decided to become an artist.—Why?---  Because I was lonely  and curious  and liked flowers and leaves and the sunsets. Genetics also favored me, it was coming from both sides of the family.
      A bright child will do anything just not to be bored.  I drew.  ---I drew after I was married with my first husband  while he was working on vacations,  I drew  when I was sad after the War, I drew happy images when I was happy and very sad ones when I was sad.
       The images I produced showed to me what I was feeling:  cathartic.  Reliving your own or a TV drama reminding you of your own, is like wiping off your tears after you stop crying. Somehow you feel better.

I am also trained in art psychotherapy which does not focus on the ability of the child to either produce a recognizable object  or simply draw  anything going through its minds, but just colors lines, etc.
       I have never bought art because I can produce it. I have sold my art-craft  at high prices because I was the only person ever to combine two different techniques  at the same time in enameling.—Writing poetry is an art, dancing is an art…. Anything which symbolically represents, in any modality, the human condition, and makes us communicate with one another , as cave people did in Lasqueux  thousands of years ago, is ART.
     Is there good and bad art?—Good and bad are all in the eyes and mind and all the senses of who  is looking or otherwise perceiving EMOTIONS, MEMORIES, DESIRES, etc.  The experience of art consists in communicating indirectly about who we are to others.—When we are sad we may empathize with depictions about sadness.  But we also might want to see pictures of joy to change  our attitude and feel happy!
       To-Day  we live in “dark” times, when the beauty of the planet is endangered by  lust of commodities, by overpopulation  and overkilling of innocent people!
       What is the price of a picture  through which design, coloring, subject matter may come in contact with emotions you need to relieve?—Ever felt falling in love at a green and violet sunrise? I did once.  And falling in love with the fragility,   ephemeral beauty of  spring’s growth,  or curled old leaves,  but beautiful in their very curl…As  painter and photographer I want to freeze that image so that I can re-experience it at will later.  Its memory shall enrich my life, if  it matches what I shall feel also to-morrow and after tomorrow.
      What we call “good art" does that for us by re-evoking what we have already experienced. Memory is all we have of life . The richer the banks of memory are, the more we can think and imagine what we want to become and how we want to change.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Memories about Animal Friend—March 22, 2:15 PM, 2016

I evoke my own home bread memories about interactions with what we call “animals,” because we assume that we are the only thinking live creatures living on this planed.  We are not.  My affinity for animals of various kinds did not grow just from visiting the Roman Zoo during the long WWII winter and spring in Rome.  Most of those inhabitants had been eaten or had starved, but not all.  I was also alive and enjoyed making faces at them, using body language while feeding them peanuts.  Those still live primates smiling and grinning as they made the Fascist salute or the Nazi one, were caged as I also felt caged in and by a world that had become alien to me.
                Drawing came to me naturally, particularly when there were no children to play with anymore.  My first drawings were of panthers and monkeys at the zoo. I also picked the stray feathers from the ostrich enclosure and also from where birds still circled the high dome - my grandmother used them on her hats.   Waking up the turtles in the sunken reptile pool did not pay off; they appeared no different then before the War, when we lived on the villa-farm.
                  My grandfather had bought a three hundred old convent after he married my grandmother which was located a quarter mile from the Old Appian Road where the Romans drove chariots to go to the sea and to the Southern provinces - La Via Appia.  The convent became transformed into a mansion also containing a first floor where wine making equipment and fermenting wine caskets lined the walls and rose probably 40 or more feet high.  We lived on the second floor, while destitute peasants lived without any utility, including water, right under us. They served us in exchange for a “free home.”
                    Other peasants living further away in the vineyards and orchards had children who used foul language continuously (which I delight in using as my Grandfather and Father did).  All cultures have their favorite, most florid expressions of anger.  My favorite swear phrase was “a al diavole!” (“go to the devil”).  And if a person was really obnoxious I would murmur “Va a mori ammazzato” which means “go and get yourself killed.”  I thought it, but actually never said it.  I was simply imitating the power people in my family.
                     There were no children within miles to play with, except for during a monthly carriage ride to a village up the Alban Hills to purchase food at the weekly market, while I was left to wonder about a large villa where a six year boy named Marcello and I would go into the greenhouses.  We would pick and trade flowers and nobody ever learned what we were doing.  That was lovely and I have loved flowers ever since!  Otherwise, day in and day out, it was just me and Nerina the cat; the dog was always chained and did not count. 
There were also about twenty rabbits, whose meat we ate once a week.   I raised them by placing the rabbit with the biggest round head with a smaller rabbit with a longer head, which supposedly was a female, together in a closed cage.  It worked.  The male got on top of the female, held her neck with his teeth and she screamed.   I knew what they were doing and wondered if humans did the same thing and I felt sorry for the female.  Do I still feel sorry for the women’s lot?  Perhaps things have not changed that much in the last fifty years in the world at large.  Vasectomies are not popular!  In any case, gender was not implied in my weakly search for the rabbit we would eat that night.  The enclosure where rabbits freely roamed was about a hundred feet long.  There were old branches, stones in it, and the remnants of a wall. The rabbits used the branches to hide under, and raise their young.  Usually the animals were very friendly when I entered the rabbit yard; they heard me coming and knew I had some fresh poppy leaves or delicacies as simple as dinner leftovers, which the chickens would also peck at. 
On the particular day, the rabbit was due for dinner, I would spot it, imagine its trajectory of escape and prepare to intervene at the right moment.  The peasants were not very good at this. I was smaller and usually friendly, and the rabbits would not all immediately take off and hide - and this was the interesting part - the rabbit would not escape and run away if it was not yet inside my capture range, but would stomp its foot quickly and forcefully on the ground.  As I watched, other rabbits stood on their hind legs, looked around, saw me and ran away from me.  Something had alerted them to the danger.
At that time I did not know about sound waves travelling under ground, but the Rabbits certainly did, because all rodents have the finest hearing, except for ocean creatures and cats.  I may be wrong, as the New York Times Science article explained today. 
There is another category of winged animals, birds, which my mother and I raised when they were injured, like the bird my Mother brought from Germany.  On the evening of  August 30 1939,  when Hitler invaded Poland and the border between Austria and Italy was closed,  a bird was travelling with us from Germany back to Rome, Italy: it was a magpie!  The bird was in a box held by my mother.   She happened to be an admirer of Konrad Lorenz who raised geese hatched in his house without ever having seen their biological mother—I had never seen a magpie before: it was pretty, black and white.
                    For a while my mother fed it by creating some rich saliva packed with bread and placing the bird’s beak into her mouth to feed it.  It worked very well and after some time the bird ate what was offered on a plate.  And some after that it was released from the heights of our great terrace which overlooked the Anzio beachhead, the summer residence of the Pope and St. Peter’s itself on the northern horizon’s edge where Rome was. The magpie took up residence on a very high fir tree facing the grand terrace.
                  Shortly afterwards, small objects, like a teaspoon, a fake broach and coins, started to go missing. My mother thought the maid was stealing, but this made no sense since the items taken were valueless.  My mother asked one of the peasants to get a tall ladder and climb the fir tree, where the magpie was hiding.  When he got back down, he had a large grin on his face.  He had never seen so many shiny non edible objects in a bird’s nest! But my mother had in Germany. Magpies are attracted to anything shiny!  As time went on, the magpie was later substituted by a sparrow, who also had lunch with us at the table until it was gone because the black cat, Nerina, came one day into the dining room, caught it, and ate it.
          Nerina was the closest to a baby I could have experienced. I would place the cat in the doll’s carriage, cover it with a blanket and off we’d go.  Who would want to play with a doll when you can have a live cat!  And I would run up and down our long driveway leading to the Appian Road.  We both loved that run.  The cat loved it as much as she loved being placed on the swing.  She would fly high and never fell off.  Nerina‘s intelligence was a challenge for us.  She had understood how pulleys worked in the cellar in order to keep the meat fresh (we had no refrigerator) and out of reach of the cats.  She was seen grabbing the chord with her teeth and pulling the basket over to herself just enough in order to grab the meat with a paw and throw off the basket.  As bombing in October 1943 came closer to our villa farm, we were escorted by a German convoy to Rome with the cat and 2 baby rabbits to keep me company.  The baby rabbits had been born in the yard by a mother who soon died afterword. I found them, small, eyes still closed and ran into the shed where the cow was, milked them a little.  The rabbits were housed in our kitchen where it was warm.  Two of them survived and learned to poop in an appropriate corner of the kitchen, in a box.
        As General’s Clark troops advanced towards Monte Cassino, a medieval monastery in the center Italy, we were already in Rome. Nerina the cat was flourishing, opening the oven and stealing meat again. The two rabbits were housed in a box on the terrace.   I do not know what my mother fed them, because she was never in the apartment in Rome.  She mostly lived and slept in the tunnel under the villa farm out of Rome trying to persuade the Germans who had taken over the command of the area, to move the cannons from the front of the house into the olive grove.   The house was in the line of fire.   The guns were moved. The house was saved. Four giant craters were later seen in the olive grove.  The rabbits were forgotten and died of nephritis, and I went every day to the zoo to meet other reliable animal friends!
Decades have past, more then half a century has gone by. I do remember these instances as photographic images: seeing the inside of the kitchen in Rome, the inside of the one on the farm.  As I grew up and older, I still saved animals from death, often housing them at first in a dry bathtub.  There was a pigeon with a bad wing, housed in my bathtub until it could fly and be on its own.  I was in my forties at the time.  And then there was the peacock that had predeceased it.  A friend of mine spotted it wandering in the street outside the San Francisco zoo after hours, while I was studying at Berkley.  What a majestic bird!  What was it looking for outside the zoo? Whom do you call? Cells phones were not available more then 55 years ago.  My friend parked the car near the curb.  I had a plan.  We would catch the bird, place it in the car and take it back to the zoo the next day!  …She was adventurous and I walked toward the bird easily, in a friendly manner, and caught it..  It was big with a huge tail, and we placed it in the back seat of the Volkswagen. Driving back to my apartment near the campus. Where does one put a giant peacock that probably poops also big time?  In the bathtub of course! Where one can wash up easily after it leaves its droppings!  The bird was used to people and very friendly after we drove it home across the Bay.  It just sat in the bathtub, probably unable to get out.  What do you feed a giant male peacock in your bathtub? What you are eating for dinner of course! It was pasta with tomato sauce. That it was. I still wish we had a video camera, because the animal was hungry, picked up the slithering pasta with its beak, then had to throw up its head to let it slither down its throat and swallow it!  No Neapolitan I knew ever ate pasta that way!
                The next morning I called another friend who was ready to drive to Los Angeles. She knew of friends who had a ranch.  I was willing to drive our peacock on her way down and take it to them. The Peacock did not seem very intelligent.   Their brain is also very small compared to their size, or so I thought at the time. – Now I know that brain size is not that relevent. 
Only about ten years ago, while in Philadelphia, did I have my last bathtub guest.  I was picking herbs in a parking lot. Trees lined the Southern edge.  As I was moving through the weeds, I heard chirps. Yes, there were two red colored birds, not yet very red, perhaps females, battling among the tall weeds.  I went back to the car, got a paper sack and placed them into it.  The night before a terrible wind had broken tree branches and probably shaken the nest in the maple trees where these two adolescents were nesting.  The mother would not have been strong enough to bring them back up after their fall.  I knew that at the times cats were also roaming the premises.  The birds would have had a short life.  The chirping paper sack was placed on the floor of the car and I drove home.  As I drove I felt movements in the bag. One of the birds had escaped and was now sitting on my lap. The other was hiding.  As I arrived at the “big house” where I lived, I wondered how I would get both of these birds out without having one of them escape into the tall ivy. I placed my bird-lapdog into the now empty paper sack and closed shut. The other bird was not visible, but As soon as I opened the car’s door, it leaped out of the car and vanished into the ivy — Good by bird!
The guest bathroom on the second floor would be most appropriate.  Before letting the bird out of the bag, I hunted for old newspaper, then very gently lifted the adolescent bird and placed it into the tub’s floor.  It just stood there, gazing at me! No, it could not fly out, it was not in flying form and I would have to teach it how to fly.  I am trying very hard to remember the name I gave it, probably “Baby-By.”  Can’t remember.  I gathered branches and placed them on the windowsill and the bathtub. The next problem was: what to feed it? Italian pasta would not do this time.  Worms, of course, canned worms from the pet store, what else???  The bird was hungry and liked my menu although it was still motionless, except going up and down with its head.
       “Baby-By” as I later referred to the bird, needed to learn to fly because I had no intention for it to spend the remainder of his life in a bathroom! It had company: itself.   It would need more.  At times I left it sitting on the sink and it looked at itself in the mirror. It starred at itself.  I knew it had never seen itself before, but now it did!  It inspected itself first, but not for long.  Quite swiftly it had recognized that it had something to do with itself but that it was not, like it, a live bird! There was no fear as he later looked at himself and less and less over the following days.       
I had left the window open, with the screen down.  Surveying the yard below was most interesting as he moved around the windowsill.  Work had to be done. The bird needed to exercise his wing muscles and move its wings.  I placed the bird on my index finger which it did grip tightly, then I raised my hand up and his wings would start moving slightly, then suddenly I would lower my arm while going down and its wings spread out fast!  Doing these exercises very often helped it fly out of the bathtub.
               It certainly had a good time and often sang.  It was a lovely robin’s song of which I understood nothing except that it came from pleasure, and I sang back my human song and whistled. I would get up in the morning, go down two floors into the garden at the foot of his open window and whistle and sing my song.  Within a few seconds the bird would sing back its song to me and kept singing until I had reached the second floor and entered its door. Then it clapped its wings, and would do some low flying!  What a pleasure in such communication!  Somewhere in the hundreds of disk I still have, there is one with its picture, and also a short video. Some day I shall find them and place them with this piece of writing.
There is a great debate these days whether animals even recognize themselves! I wonder who asks these questions, it must be only someone who has never raised one.  Birdy-by not only recognized itself, but also myself and also one who might be alien and dangerous.  My son, Andre, had come in from New York one day and came to see the red bird.  As he stood by the open door birdie looked at Andre from the sink’s edge.  Within seconds the little bird who could barely fly, flew straight hitting Andre on his chest!  It obviously perceived Andre as an “enemy,” although Andre was similar to me.  Andre was a person like me, but different and unknown to him.  The bird had sensed the unknown as danger.
I recall now when I first noticed how a small sparrow recognized my mother.  She was at the time still feeding birds from her balcony. One day as I visited with her in the Italian Alps, walking down a road in the woods, I noticed that there was a sparrow walking backwards in front of us, keeping pace and looking at mother…” Oh! “She explained, “its Pfitzi, whom I feed on my balcony every day! “ She dug into her pocked and threw it some pine seeds.  The bird ran between her feet and ate them, then flew away.  We were far away from her balcony, it was wintertime and only her face was visible for recognition.   ---Ever seen a sparrow’s skull? Tiny… but there is life saving knowledge and a lot of memory in there.  Read about parrots if you doubt me!--- New York Times,  Science Section :Tuesday, March 22, 2016 : Pretty Smart Bird.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pope Francis as a Sideways Jesuit Reformer

September 28, 2015 8:10 AM

About Pope Francis and his communication methodology.

This morning I spoke with only two people at my morning Starbucks interlude. One was a black Baptist man, the other was an avant-garde middle aged woman.  Both were interested in pondering the same issue: the ambivalent answers given by the Pope to his constituents, friends, enemies about relevant issues, and how they could be implemented.  I wondered how they responded to the Pope exhortations. The Pope’s answers were obviously very carefully pre prepared.  How the question process grows—here are some possibilities:

 1) The question about procedure is “raised” by someone
 2) The question about an issue is spoken or written about
 3) The issue is brought out in a personal or interpersonal manner
 4) The question is shelved when there is no possible way to respond.
5) The question that has been heard or read about is addressed by the recipient or officially dismissed.
6) The question is addressed indirectly, its message diluted and rendered meaningless.
7) No answer may be forthcoming.
8) The question is accepted, considered and answered impersonally such as politicians and executives do.  No responsibility is taken by such diffused answer to it.
9) The question is heard and accepted as a reasonable question. The response to it may vary from the personal, to the cathedratic, official, political, dogmatic, offensive, satirical, destructive, etc.

So how did the Pope respond to the questions? 

Pope Francis accepted the questions about priests’ abuse of children, divorce, abortion, contraceptives, gay rights, priest’s marriage, women’s ordination and more. He mostly answered them not only indirectly, but vaguely and at times ex cathedra plus exceptions.  For example, the Pope said that the function of women’s work within the Church needs to be increased.  What apparently was meant by him was  only about blue collar work, not white one, that is, not religious functions within the  Church. He said that women who use birth control which is against the value of “possible life” creation, can return to the Church,  have confession and communion  if  they repent, and remain within the Church.  He said that homosexuals should not be judged (the Pope said: “Who  am I  to judge?” (Trans individuals did not come up but the response might be similar.) 

Abortion is still forbidden, nothing was said about specific circumstances about its timing.  Supposedly a three day old embryo is already a person with a soul, as is a worm , a nightingale or a chicken. This is according to the latest encyclica of Pope Francis.  I do not take seriously souls of any kind because I have no evidence for them, but can argue ferociously about overpopulation destroying Nature, which also has a soul of sorts, since it is God’s creation.  The Pope knew that this was a vitriolic issue and preferred not to get into it.

The marriage of priests was also considered.  Very pragmatic since there aren’t enough young men ready to take vows of chastity.  I am asking, does chastity also address a sexual union that cannot create procreation? (sodomy?)  The Church has used this state of affairs and given annulments to heterosexual couples who could not reproduce, did it know whether coitus was ever tried?  If so, the marriage was no different from a homosexual union, except for the bodily orifices being used! Homosexuals cannot procreate.

The Church’s Power

The Catholic Church has been run as a Political entity having all the civil, political rights of a country for almost two millennia, plus the “imaginary” anointment of a “god” who approved of killing any kind of people in wars, but only in just wars.  But we were lucky that the practice of selling old bones of presumed martyrs was stopped by M. Luther and Co.  There simply were no longer certified bones available. We were also lucky to have had Napoleon and Mussolini clip the Church’s wings of temporal power.  We were also lucky to have had a Pope John the 23rd who actually did his best to make the Roman Catholic Church more Protestant and consequently more honest in dealing with world inhabitants about what was supposed to be a catholic relationship.
      My main point is that there needs to be a separation between Church and Papacy. There are personal diversities in their interests, ethics, belief systems and ultimately where money is spent.  The money comes from within the Chief of Staff’s office of the Roman Catholic Church. It is too crass for the Pope Himself to deal with actual money, the realm of Caesar.
       Pope Francis appears to be in good faith, but he has no control over the money, all he has is a mouth and people know this, and his enemies know this.  Ultimately, since he is in love with the “earth’s bounty of oxygen, water, air and earth,” as the Confucians did in China, he is not serving anyone if we have no control on procreation by humans still living in agrarian times where children were insurance in case of old age; or where men simply had to relax after having worked hard at war or on the soil, killing people because it is God’s plan to kill the bad ones, and a quick fix-fuck for women and beheading for men is definitely the fastest means to end all issues.  But the Pope cannot address this, it interferes with religious freedom!
Why not fuck goats and roast them afterwards and eat them? It would be good for the environment, give us some more good protein for fewer children. I am an unknown King’s clown: “Ridi per non morire!”  F. Rubin

Monday, October 14, 2013

I apologize to my readers for the most confusing blog from yesterday.  It is strange, and perhaps not, that help arrives sometimes from unusual  circumstances, due perhaps to a trivial exchange from which a spark rises, unforseen in time and place,  and by utter chance a fire, which had smoldered in my mind for twenty years , is ignited.
    The mind awakens,  Ha! Ha!... this may be the time, the right time. And then I laugh, yes, because I had not even thought about it before, but the dowsing had shown it.... My cognitive self does not think of the "dowsing: I Ching, etc... because so far it is incomprehensible how the future can become known to consciousness by a simple falling of sticks or other divinatory methods.  And what 'clear cognition' cannot comprehend is often regarded as illusory.
    There are two parts in whatever you may want to call" My Self"... and perhaps many more...and often they do not communicate well, as I am quite aware of this. And it is O.K.  They  have an analytical and inspirational function, together they reinforce one another and dispel doubt, the  stalking killer nestled deep in our mind.
    When the Prophecy is fulfilled in space-time doubt is dispelled, the  event is obviously accepted and one forgets that its existence was known by the "unconscious" before "its time. The strange has become acceptable because IT DID OCCURR  and life is back to "normal" again,  consciousness is no longer split.  That is it for to-day, namaste

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Of What> I don't have the faintest notion about this process, don't even know how to go on my own blog

and need help to navigate  the internet!!!! Anyone out there living in Philadelphia, PA? I also have a documentary which is cock-eyed and needs working on so I can place it on Amazon...don't have a notion on how to proceed....  If someone out there goes on my website, please email me if you can help me navigate better. My computer helper vanished in Machu P...or so it appears.
  Yes, this sounds nuts, but some grounded help may surface this way.... like shooting with your eyes closed....  into the ethernet..guess it is called "faith".  Sometimes I have missiles of  faith, sometimes I simply sink in a swamp.  To-night is swamp time. Have to say hallo to the gators. Need a good night's sleep. F.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


It is a very general statement. Good and bad are polarized aspects of living behavior. They are relative in nature. But sometimes emotions color the psyche and feelings modify our reactions towards what we feel is bad or good for our existence at the time of the action or our thoughts about it.
Motive is paramount.  The relationship to the offending person is also important.  What else falls into the diagnostic package? The personal relations we may have or have had with the offending individual and the level at which the insult was perceived.
Most of the time the closer one’s relationship is to the offending individual, the greater the perception of injury.  Other items cloud our perception like our knowledge of past aspects of the offender’s history which might explain at an emotional or cognitive level a hidden aspect of his or her psyche.  All of us are partially if not hidden from ourselves, definitely hidden from others. The masks we use in our behavior and the filters with which we modulate them are part of our signature as individuals.  Our past history is the elastic mold continually created and adjusted by any new action from whose inspection we can acquire clues about our individual needs and desires.  Professionals inspect and track the mold’s changes over years. 
So, what does the person think, feel and do when he or she discovers she has been betrayed ? The initial response is a mixture of great sadness - how can a good person do something so bad. This is followed by intense anger.  Thoughts of revenge flash through the mind. Tears well up in the eyes.  Depression and a feeling of deep impotence can be quite paralyzing if the perpetrator is a close relative.  It may constrict the person into a psychological feeling of “no exit”. An individual who does not allow hitting bottom while in self-deprecation or fear but uses his or her cognitive apparatus for analysis of one’s emotional whirlwind can bypass this.
Looking at oneself diverts the focus from the “other” to oneself. Am I capable of doing such a thing? Have I ever done such a thing? These are thoughts about one’s own integrity and a comparison is made between one’s self-conscious manipulation of one’s consciousness versus the memory of the emotionally perceive angst.
We actually dwell in such conflicting realities every night, while the conscious self does not feel responsible about the ghosts rising to scream and play with us.  Some are familiar with those visions and how they may have been acquired in past living or lives, if there is such a thing, Personally, I do know that there is a resonance with past happenings through which knowledge of the past somehow surfaces into our daily lives. Can we use the newly acquired knowledge of a possible past existence in order to expand our self -awareness?
Knowledge becomes valuable but it also invokes responsibility for its use and needs to be cognitively evaluated whenever we have enough mental data to do so.
Speculation can also divert the self into identifying with the aggressor, compartmentalizing our behavior and constructing fancy intellectualizations due to denial of what seems unacceptable, because it implies great emotional losses and compromises our ability to function in a well-integrated manner.
In view of these and other less acceptable responses to psychic or physical injury, what recourse does the injured party have?  Detachment from the injury is possible if the mind’s power of analysis can allow it.  The mind can only do so if we place ourselves imaginatively speaking in the aggressor’s shoes and thus walk through a limited, but perhaps probable excursion into our own past and present behavior, and come face to face with our own psychic fragility recognizing and perhaps choosing to accept the half hidden and frightening part of ourselves which C.G. Jung referred to as “the Shadow.”  I also refer to such memories as ghosts lurking in our psychic basement. Only the light of inquiry shall free them. This sounds charitably healing and perhaps Platonic, but does it indeed release our anger into harmless vapors?
For many years, I have been puzzled about the commandment to love one’s enemy, viewing it as obviously absurd. Can’t we get killed in the process?  How is this form of life called “agape” to be expressed when we actually feel like destroying and thus preventing the enemy from further harming us?  Tough thinking is required when the perpetrator is one’s mother, one sibling, one’s child, one’s spouse, etc.  We need to differentiate between three states of mind:  forgetting, dreaming of vengeance and remembering cognitively, but at the same time letting go emotionally.  By doing this psychic mental dance advocated by psychologists in vogue, we acknowledge the power of the “shadow” and somehow do not allow it to reign over our psyche. Sounds good. On the other had, Prevention of further injury or betrayal is part of human wisdom, because at times our blind emotions may lead into hell’s fires.  When that happens we need to offer generosity not because we are weak, but because freely offered generosity is simply a need required by every person in order to heal one’s self-esteem by feeling good! There is also a difference between forgiving and forgetting. The wise person shall remember and use preventive measures while looking in a mirror. The “other”, the “Thou” of Martin Buber is still in front us; yes, we are part of the other, and respect it.  The mirror is there in order to also separate us from the “other” at the same time that we recognize it.
Duality is part of reality for the functional part of our lives. Overcoming it can lead to madness or to the loss of self into the greater Ocean of Life where we all came from and shall return. These excursions into such extreme realms better be brief and memorable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Unintended Table Turnings

Blog, Feb. 19, 2013

Are we actually free or we are driven at times to fall unintentionally into muddy potholes then change clothing before proceeding on the journey in new attire, as a new person?
     I yearn to get far away from concerns of food preparation, bills, focusing on how other members of the household meet their needs or carry on with their own work under at times dire circumstances.  I also need new attire, not just because I am in the process of reaching hard ground after having lingered in a swamp, but because I also need shoes!
    My problem started when I first rented the second floor bedroom where I still live, a sense of uncertainty pervaded me at the time....  I was going to have a real daytime job and be self-supporting. This had not been the case previously, since I had been a housewife for the previous twenty-two years making little money while creating art in two basements. A divorce altered the course of my life. Also, an apparently inconsequential event occurred in the summer of 1983.  I was enrolled in graduate school at the University Hospital in Philadelphia. A paper was due for the summer school course I was attending at the Medical school downtown. One evening, after my return from school I asked my landlord, who was an excellent writer, to correct the typos in the final paper for the course. It was about 5 PM. Before I went to bed I asked him to return the corrected paper, which was about 6 pages long. He had not finished correcting it. I stayed up longer and asked him again about it because it was due the next day. He was not yet finished. I left for school without it. When I handed it in the following day to my thesis advisor who also happened to be the Department Head, everything appeared to be all right. I was somewhat concerned because my research had expended beyond the requirements of the course, but the more the better!
    The first half of the summer semester ended and I received a letter from the head of the department asking we to withdraw from the Master’s program because I had several incompletes and was failing. As a child and adolescent I had been raised on footage of low self esteem: not pretty, absent minded, sloppy, messy, dirty, etc. and having failed to finish the paper in time was an added reminder of my incompetence. Therefore I simply accepted the verdict and did not question it when I went to the last meeting with my advisor, who had that summer become the new department head. I deserved it. I recall vividly what he asked me at the time: “How do you perceive yourself? “  Somehow a picture appeared of a fully opened sunflower living in a dark basement. I described it to him. I was an underdog who managed to survive anywhere. Thereafter our conversation was brief and I agreed to leave the program.
Something haunted me about leaving a half started session with a transgendered patient whose trust I had finally acquired, and who was starting to have some self-esteem.  Yes, my procedures were somewhat unorthodox, but the psychiatrist in charge of the 12th floor of Hahnemann University Hospital approved of them. Besides, I didn’t really think that I was failing!  On the other hand, I would no longer be able to get a job as an art psychotherapist because it appeared that I would not get my M.A.
    In a quandary I called a very good and old friend of mine, Eve, and related her my mishaps. Her reaction marked a change in how I would react to unfair insults for the rest of my life. Her voice was clear but firm, her support of me was unconditional. Her words were those of a commander giving battle instructions to a reluctant soldier. “You can’t take this lying down! You are telling me that you don’t believe you are failing. This man wants to get rid of you because of the subject matter of your paper, which appears to go against the belief system of the department guidelines. You need to absolutely go to the registrar, and check your grades and find why you are failing!”
     She obviously threw more nuggets of wisdom and common sense at me that day over the telephone. But the next day I did go to the registrar. No, I was not failing. All my previous incompletes had gone, except for the last paper, which supposedly was sent in late and for which there was not yet a grade. As a matter of fact, spelled out in black ink on my report, I had several A’s. The registrar suggested I speak with the Dean of the Medical School and ask him for re-enlisting. I was upstairs in five minutes. The dean looked at my records and said that he did not see any problem, why should there be one? Would I want to continue with my studies? All was clear. There was no problem.
   My head reeled with surprise and anger and also for gratitude. “No”, I said, I shall not continue because I would feel most uncomfortable. “The man asked me to think it over.  As I left the tall building and walked outside, a strange sense of relief overcame me. Did I really want to spend the rest of my life counseling schizophrenics and paranoids on the twelfth floor of Hahnemann Hospital where male aids related stories to one another about  how they raped and fondled drugged or unconscious  female patients in restraints?
     On the other hand, what was I going to do now?  (See next installment.)