July 30, 2014Dear Friends
Re: Entry 20
[Note to readers: Forgive me, as July has been consumed with the building of a deck, the cathartic properties of which are far more beneficial than sitting at a computer screen typing endless, albeit eloquent, blather]I have always been fascinated by how memory intersperses with mind and flows back and forth; in that, how when something does not seem right, it is often not right, and then after the passage of time, and then often after years, makes sense. Where does that memory reside? How does it sit in the endless loops of the organic computer in our heads until it is retrieved by a random passing event, or a smell, or a vision of something that recalls streams of information? In March I woke up at about 5:30 a.m., a dachshund lying next to me, I could hear someone in the kitchen, and in the faint light and smell and I was certain—no, more than certain—I actually was 15 years old and the dachshund was Johantz and my father was in the kitchen. Both are gone now. But that memory, that feeling—it was more than a feeling or a dream—it was real for a few fleeting seconds. No simulated reality was more real in my mind. It was reality in the few seconds before I realized that the time and place where I was, was gone. And yet it lies beneath the sable folds of shadows enveloping memories of times past. (That “sable folds” line, I got that from some Civil War thing or some PBS stuff I watched once. I always wanted to work it in somewhere, somehow)
And then there are the weird things about memory. Like the time I was 10 or 12 and was standing in a gas station garage with a friend. And he picked up a highbeam footswitch from a car that was lying on the floor (if you known not to what I refer, that is so, so sad). He clicked it a couple of times and said, “Look at this! Something like this will never break!” I could tell you where I was standing, what it looked like, the greased skidded concrete floor of that Esso station—the way gas stations used to be. I thought about that over the years, time and time again, I didn’t know why but something about that scene was wrong, or out of balance, or something, just not right. One day, out of the blue, for whatever reason, I was sitting in a college class and I thought: If that highbeam switch would never break, what was it doing lying on the greasy floor of a gas station? Of course it was broken, and what my mind knew, even if I could not articulate it, even if I could not define it as a problem to be solved, was that it was a problem and I had the answer all worked out but accessed years later.And we think we understand the human mind? In centuries hence men, if there are men then, will look back at the abject barbarity of our medical practices—at least as they view them from the future. Our minimal understanding of the human brain is apparent in the dopy pharmaceutical commercials that clog everything I watch (I told my youngest son that marketing has gotten so good that you can tell who the shows you watched are targeted to by the commercial type. For him, its body wash, running shoes and sports drinks. For me its hair coloring, creepy old people dating services and various medical enhancements and accoutrements). Back to the pharmaceuticals: you know, they have some clown talking about the drug being advertised to some other clown who appears to be interested, and they’re having this conversation that no one could ever have unless they’re on LSD already. But it all seems so, so, so possible. And these people seem to have it all together, they look good for 60, have layered yuppie clothing (why is that, all these people wear styling scarves, and polo shirts with popped collars over llama yarn sweaters—why doesn’t anyone wear a pair of sleep pants and an old Ramone’s T shirt like they do at the Fairmont Wal-Mart?). They look good in those commercials-- except for the hepatic psoriasis which this new drug Slitmythroatforme© will provide 80% of relief for the test subjects, but my doctor warned me that if I have bulbous knots appears at the ends of elbows, or if my hands being to swell and crack like the elephant man, and 25% of people reported unsightly green patches of fungal growth along the philtral ridge (look that up, it’s funny) which has to be removed before it calcifies and 10% of the executors of the people that the drug has killed report that the decedent’s last words were “Rosebud”, and whatever you do, do not shake hands with a pregnant women while taking the drug and it may give you a tendency to sleep drive and arrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
The one for the anti-depressant—the side effects are thoughts of suicide and depression. No wonder our health care system is a mess.
I’m stopping and if you’re lucky, you won’t hear from me until August.