For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, to stir men’s blog

Desert desperado

Hello and good morning!  It’s another Thursday, and therefore time for another blog entry.  In fact, this morning, when activating my computer (which had self-restarted due to one of the seemingly endless “updates” from Windows…which don’t appear to engender any improvement of function whatsoever) I began, by force of habit, to seek out the last point at which I had been editing Unanimity.  Then I caught myself and remembered, “Wait, it’s blog day.”  Those were, as well as I can recall, my actual internal words.  Maybe I should re-christen this day of the week.  Who knows, if my writing eventually comes to influence the wide world enough, we English speakers might cast aside the traditional Norse name, which gives homage to a character now most widely remembered as being played by Chris Hemsworth.*

If I had a hammer…

It’s been a fairly drab and inauspicious week for me.  There’s not much going on that wasn’t doing so already.  I certainly haven’t been keeping up with current events or anything else floating around regular, virtual, or social media.  I occasionally go on the Google News “App”, just to skim through the headlines, but I don’t think I’ve so much as clicked on a single story in well over a week.  I haven’t even been listening to podcasts, or to Audible books, or even to music during my commute.  I just can’t seem to stir any interest in anything, even in books and shows and movies that used to enthrall me.  All this, despite months of ongoing treatment for my dysthymia/depression.

Oh, well, whataya gonna do?  The universe does not bargain, it cuts no special deals, and it makes only one promise to us all.

I have of course, as might be obvious from my comments above, been working steadily on Unanimity.  I’m approaching the end of the book for the second time (really the third, if you count when I wrote it).  Much, much works remains to be done, of course, but I’m still enjoying the story.  Thus, at least one person in the world will do so, and I suppose that’s a good enough reason to have written it.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a difficult time self-promoting, and I’m at least mildly embarrassed bordering on ashamed when I force myself to do it.  At times in the past I’ve rued this character trait of mine, and I’ve wished I could be much more of a sounding brass, but the advents of Kanye West and Donald Trump have reassured me that grandiosity is vastly overrated.**  There’s probably a happy medium somewhere (who runs a successful fortune-telling shop, one presumes), but if there is, I haven’t located it.

I’ve encountered a few germs of ideas for new stories this week—probably short stories—and jotted them down in my memo app, as I do.  That’s always pleasing in at least a small way.  There are many, many such little phrases, sentences, and paragraphs in the that file, but it’s difficult to predict how many of them will eventually become full-fledged stories.

I’ve also been diddling away at musical projects.  As I think I’ve said before, I’ve been working on a rebuild of Breaking Me Down, my personal best musical, or at least lyrical, expression of depression (sounds like a blast, right?).  I’ve learned a thing or two since I first threw it together, and I think it’s definitely improving.  I’ve also been working on a new song, which will be slower and will probably sound moodier than Breaking Me Down, but its words are much more…well, not entirely positive, but at least ambiguous, and its ending is, if not truly uplifting, at least hopeful…I think.

It’s a tough situation where you’re not even clear about the meaning of your own poetry.  Oh, well.

And that’s pretty much all I have to report for the moment.  Apologies if it’s not very gripping, but most days, and most weeks, are ordinary, after all.  I hope you’re all well, and that your futures are very bright indeed…but not so bright as to be blinding.

TTFN


*Not to say he doesn’t do a terrific job.  It’s not easy to make Thor—the comic book character—cool, but he succeeds in spades.

**Especially by the grandiose.

O true apothecary, thy blogs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.

O true apothecary, thy blogs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.

Just John

Hello again, good morning again, and welcome to next Thursday.  I promised last week that this week I would discuss the thoughts that popped into my head while listening to the second of the two songs I named last time, so without further ado, let’s jump right into Girl…so to speak.

The notion that this song relates to the experience of addiction is probably pretty obvious, and hopefully I won’t get too ham-fisted about it.  Also, I doubt that John Lennon was thinking about addiction when he wrote it, though he was to become personally all too familiar with the subject in later years.  The type of pining, obsessive love expressed in this song as very much a mixed blessing and curse, is frequent in music* and in poetry, and probably highlights a similar psychology—and even neurology—involved in the two subjects of addiction and “love”.

Of course, the opening lines of the song are nonspecific and literally introductory.  But the second couplet already has sinister undertones: “She’s the kind of girl you want so much, it makes you sorry; still, you don’t regret a single day.”  This is definitely an expression of mixed feelings; the first line frankly contradicts the second.  He wants her so much that it makes him sorry, but he doesn’t regret a single day?  How does that work?  Maybe he’s saying that, while he’s with her, he doesn’t regret it, but when he’s away he wants her so much that it distracts him and gets in his way—it interrupts his focus on other things?  We’ve probably all had something of this experience with a lover or a crush, and of course, some have this experience with other things entirely.  But I suspect that the process is similar in all of them, with the mind’s dopaminergic and serotoninergic, motivational/reward systems being keyed into a particular target, giving us the urge to seek it when we don’t have it, and an increasingly transient satisfaction when we achieve it.

Romantic, no?

Of course, the next verse becomes more sinister, with its solemn and mournful reflections:  “When I think of all the times I tried so hard to leave her…she will turn to me and start to cry.  And she promises the earth to me, and I believe her.  After all this time, I don’t know why.”

This certainly doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship, either with a person or with a substance, but it’s surely familiar to anyone who’s been in “that” kind of relationship, and to anyone who’s been addicted to anything.  You try to leave, but either literally or figuratively, that object of obsession cries out, if only in your head, and in its crying makes implicit or explicit promises that, if only you come back, you will be joyful, you will be complete, you will surely never be unhappy again.  And of course, this isn’t true.  Maybe just the very first time, a person can be excused—by others and themselves—for falling for the siren song, but after that, even they themselves, some part of them, must know that such promises are broken even in the act of succumbing to them.  But we do so want to believe those promises, don’t we?

Then, of course, we come to the song’s interlude, which is a little vaguer.  But if we’re pushing (and why not?), we can certainly say that an addiction does tend to “put you down when friends are there,” and there are surely many times when, if you can bear to look at yourself, “you feel a fool.”  The next line is perhaps straining the metaphor even further (and again, why not?), but almost all objects of obsessive affection, whether human or chemical or even purely behavioral**, surely do seem to “look good” from the outside to anyone who’s involved with them.  And, of course, they seem quite assured of their beauty, their coolness, their power, if you will.  From the outside.

And, of course, the song’s last verse more obliquely points out the contradictory notions that the pain inevitably caused by abusive/manipulative/codependent people or by the substance of addiction can seem almost as if it/they think that the pain is a favor in and of itself.  In any case, it’s all they really, finally have to offer…evanescent pleasure that’s inextricably tied up with (far more enduring) pain.  And, of course, there’s the hopeless final bit, the notion that by breaking his back—by suffering in any or all of countless ways—a person might somehow come through to the other side and achieve a “day of leisure.”

Maybe this should be likened to the treacherous notion that a person has to “hit rock bottom” before they can ever truly climb out of an addiction.  I say “treacherous” because, first, I don’t think it’s necessarily true, but thinking that it is might discourage some people from otherwise cutting their losses as early as they could, so to speak; and second, because for a large (and growing) number of people, hitting rock bottom (in addiction and even in love) means dying.  There’s no leisure after that, unless you count “resting in peace” as leisure, and I don’t think most people do, enticing though it can sometimes be.  Thus, the final line, “Will she still believe it when he’s dead?”

Anyway, again, I’m not saying that John had any comparison between love and addiction in mind when he wrote the song, but it’s pretty clear that he saw how powerful and dangerous even love itself can be, especially when the object of one’s affections is less than stable and kind.  And it’s just this kind of love that is both celebrated and lamented in so many popular songs and in poetry and in romantic stories throughout the ages.  Thankfully, it’s not the only kind of love.

It’s surely good to be “obsessed” with one’s beloved in a certain sense, to hold them as a centrally important part of one’s life, and to be devoted to them (assuming the feeling is mutual).  But, of course, if one gives one’s devotion to a person who doesn’t share or return it, and who might even hold one in contempt, then pain is likely to far outweigh any pleasure, at least when integrated over time.

Okay, enough sexy talk.

In other news, Unanimity is coming along, and I’m within distant sight of the end of my first rewrite of my half-a-million-word novel.  Cheese and crackers!  I’ve got a long way to go.  At least I’m finding the story enjoyable, especially as it gets nearer the end.  The earlier bits need a bit more tweaking than the later, but that’s the job, after all.

I still haven’t come to a final decision about consolidating my blogs.  I’m torn; I love the title “Iterations of Zero,” and I really like the image symbol I made for the site, but that may not be reason enough to keep it around.  It costs me at least a bit of money to maintain it in full function, and I’m certainly not making any money from it.  We’ll see.

I hope you’ve enjoyed, at least a little, my rather heavy-handed reaction/thoughts about Girl, and last week’s discursion on one line from People Are Strange.  Such explorations probably won’t happen too often, but for me, at least, it’s nice to have a change of pace.

I wish you all a Happy Solstice tomorrow, and in the northern hemisphere, a happy summer to follow.

TTFN


*For instance, You’ve Really Got A Hold on Me, which the Beatles covered.

**Such as gambling addiction, for instance.