It’s January. Look Up.
It’s January. Look Up.
Denial means less pain and more craving. Less denial means less craving but more pain. An aside: denial is often about not wanting to alienate people around you. Making your pain known can have unpredictable consequences. Being in denial isn’t simply about not wanting to accept what is happening in you, or to you. That’s often far less of a problem, especially to someone who doesn’t like themselves, than to lose the people around them. As an impulse, nurtured during childhood, this kind of fear of abandonment is both very understandable and hard to shift. It is, however, possible to shift. The craving? That’s the medicine you look for to avoid the pain, and it may come on a plate, wearing clothes, in a bottle, in a bookies, in a syringe, standing next to you even when you and they wish they weren’t … it’s all a kind of addiction.
Set your intention: your conscious, voluntary intention, as if you are setting out on some kind of a trip. Whether it’s an Antarctic crossing or a visit to the shops is a matter for your imagination, but if you do, this is something you can come back to with strange effect. I mean, something like this: ‘I am being less defensive.’ Just think that and keep coming back to it, as if you are opening a door onto a room. See what happens.
I wish she did.
I was listening to Bob Dylan. I can’t read him, because it lacks everything about the performance that I love. He doesn’t do it in writing for me; apart from in phrases, aphorisms, weird lines that go on and on gathering momentum in me, counteracting other words that fly out at me from news stories: deal, betrayal, vote. Each time I hear those they seem more maligned, more battered by the unworldly imaginations of whoever’s speaking them. Caught in a trap. That’s a good one. Lost in Music. I can get lost in music, with all of its intensity and rhythm but only in a way that seems to set me straight. Robert Browning: Who hears music feels his solitude / Peopled at once.
You can find a piece of music now – on line, in your phone, on a CD, or on a record. Each time it sounds different, if you listening closely enough. I say now, because it isn’t too long you need to retreat to find a time when you couldn’t find a piece of music unless you could find somebody good enough to play it – and then they’d either have had to find the manuscript for the piece, or have remembered it. Writing’s a different matter, unless it goes digital, which it is. Turn off this computer or the server this page is stored on and bang go all the words. Nobody’s going to remember them as they are when they’re read. We’d have words more like music. Perhaps we already do, with deal, betrayal and vote. Words, all their dignity gone.
I wish someone had taught me to read like this and perhaps I’d have something more interesting to say. Don’t get me started on people learning to read.
There’s a point that arrives, when I’m helping someone think about their struggles with addiction, that goes something like this:
Them: ‘I wish it could be like that.’
Me: ‘Why can’t it be?’
Them: ‘I don’t want to get lost in all of those fantasies, those dreams again. That’s when I go crazy.’
Me: ‘Maybe you wouldn’t, now.’
People need to wish for things without being obliged to have them, or to feel devastated when they can’t find what they are looking for. Addiction happens when ‘I can’t survive without this’ somehow gets encoded within ‘this is what I want’. It’s the nasty little ghost that haunts desire, and which whispers irresistibly, but so softly it can barely be heard: ‘get it, get it now.’
If you do something, and you keep doing it, and you can’t stop doing it and it’s ruining you, that’s probably addiction.
So while you find out how to curb your dependency, to unhook yourself from that intensity, you may give up a little on wishing.
One day you’ll need to cross the line again and see what happens now.
A Very Bad Atmosphere
It was a wet morning, a cold one and a grey one. I wasn’t prepared, however, for the prevailing bad mood this morning – jostling on the train, angry comments about people getting in each-other people’s way. The Brexit dividend.
I’ve listened to this government and the previous one repeatedly block, obfuscate and deny its way through one session of parliament after the next. If there is a problem with austerity it appears that this is only because the questioner or interviewer is misinformed, unaware of some statistic relating to another matter which occasionally sounds relevant but rarely ever is, or attacking ‘ordinary’ people. John Crace’s ‘Maybot‘ joke is so sinister because it is so mind-bogglingly true. She’s the prime minister!
Denial is so absorbing. A capacity to deny the truth expands in relation to a capacity to swallow it … and if I swallow the truth it becomes poisonous, as if it wants to eat its way out of me.
People with addiction problems rely on drink, drugs, food, exercise, work, money, sex, love, shopping, whatever they can find, to shore up their denial and avoid being accountable for what they have done, or think they have done. This government has become lost in Brexit so it, we, whoever, will forget about austerity. As the Brexit disaster plays out austerity re-enters conversations. Funny that.
It’s about lack of character. I can think of governments with less talented members. But this lot? Nobody will remember a member of the cabinet apart from, perhaps, Michael Gove, who becomes more memorable every day as he struggles with his conscience to square the lies he inflicted on us with their consequences.
If the government had more character – more characters in it – there would be less denial because there’d be more ego around … and ego does not like to look like a twit. This lot don’t care how stupid they look or sound. Their careers are bound up in Twitter.