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    Nature Boy:

I was just a boy when I sat down
To watch the news on TV
I saw some ordinary slaughter
I saw some routine atrocity
My father said, don’t look away
You got to be strong, you got to be bold, now
He said that in the end it is beauty
That is going to save the world, now

And she moves among the sparrows
And she floats upon the breeze
She moves among the flowers
She moves something deep inside of me

I was walking around the flower show like a leper
Coming down with some kind of nervous hysteria
When I saw you standing there, green eyes, black hair
Up against the pink and purple wisteria
You said, hey, nature boy, are you looking at me
With some unrighteous intention?
My knees went weak,
I couldn’t speak, I was having thoughts
That were not in my best interests to mention

And she moves among the flowers
And she floats upon the smoke
She moves among the shadows
She moves me with just one little look

You took me back to your place
And dressed me up in a deep sea diver’s suit
You played the patriot, you raised the flag
And I stood at full salute
Later on we smoked a pipe that struck me dumb
And made it impossible to speak
As you closed in, in slow motion,
Quoting Sappho, in the original Greek

She moves among the shadows
She floats upon the breeze
She moves among the candles
And we moved through the days
and through the years

Years passed by, we were walking by the sea
Half delirious
You smiled at me and said, Babe
I think this thing is getting kind of serious
You pointed at something and said
Have you ever seen such a beautiful thing?
It was then that I broke down
It was then that you lifted me up again

She moves among the sparrows
And she walks across the sea
She moves among the flowers
And she moves something deep inside of me

She moves among the sparrows
And she floats upon the breeze
She moves among the flowers
And she moves right up close to me

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“These beings, that are acting out in those ways that you find so awful,
are tormented and suffering in ways that you will not understand. Their
horrible acts are extensions of that pain.”
— Abraham-Hicks

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, On the Low

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Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Renata Gorczynski

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Back in ’92 I was thumbing through an anthology one night and came across To Bedlam and Part Way Back, I’d read it before, but this time it confirmed my wish to leave this world behind and move toward that one. I spent the rest of the year writing out her poems, carrying them in my purse, like currency, taping them to mirrors, reciting them on my answering machine, leaving her graffiti on bathroom walls, catching the one-woman spoken word show that toured the country after her biography came out, riding my bike to the Ransom Historical Center where they said some of her drafts and letters were kept. For six months I didn’t care about anything else because nothing else compared with her, not because she was gratifying or admirable, but because she was the first, and for that reason will have to be celebrated. So there. Happy birthday, Anne Sexton, to the best of my knowledge this week’s music video quite captures your essence.

NCATBS; There She Goes, My Beautiful World

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Hello and much love to every ounce of your entire being, percolating here, Ama got me thinking about doing a post on identity politics, and getting that whole canna worms out of the way, but seems to me fighting for social justice means doing identity politics, you can’t get it out of the way. Parodox! This may require serious typing but it’s probably time to try to organize my thoughts. In sum, identity politics was a good theory that in practice brings out the worst in people, centering around toxic interpersonal conflict, an unintended consequence that is so destructive folks like me want to throw it over altogether and start afresh. But that means more typing, and I’m all about the laziness, so in the spirit of the moment will leave you this old post by belledame at fetch me my ax, a creative malcontent who plays with the possibilities hidden in the bad patterns. Is this something great here or am I particularly impressionable at present?

Some fleeting thoughts on “civil” discourse

To me:

It’s not about ideology, particularly. It’s not about never swearing or never getting passionate or even never personally insulting anybody.

It’s about: can you, ever, in any circumstances, meet the other person halfway? A quarter of the way? A tenth of the way?

Are you capable of grasping nuance, even a little bit?

Can you, even partially, even grudgingly, ever admit, in any circumstances, that you were wrong? About anything?

Would you, once in a great while, be willing to put aside your overwhelming need to have the last word?

Can you concede, even ungraciously, that even a loathed enemy might have a point, if you can see that sie does?

Are you aware that conversations take place over time, that they’re about 90% about relationships, even of the most superficial sort?

Have you ever changed your mind? About anything? Do you think it’s possible you might conceivably ever change it again? About anything?

Maybe that’s not anyone else’s definition of civil discourse. But those are (among) the criteria I use to determine whether or not I’m going to continue bothering to talk to someone.

She’s defining cognitive flexibility, nice work if you can do it, not a virtue, just makes life better. What do you do when you deal with someone who can’t manage this? I drive them nuts.

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QUOTATION:

“Today’s patients, discontented, unhappy, fragmented and confused by an increasingly frantic, alienating and violent society, come to psychiatrists for help, only to have their illusions shored up by an increased dose of a technologic fix. They are told they have illnesses that are biologic and can be fixed, instead of being allowed to speak about their unhappiness, to speak about how difficult it is to be a human being, to speak about their suffering, because human beings have always suffered and always will. To believe that we can conquer depression, despair, anxiety with modern technology is the height of hubris and bad faith, a mere childish fantasy, unworthy of any thoughtful person who has their eyes open to human history and modern culture.”
– David Kaiser, M.D.
Northwestern University Hospital, Chicago, IL, Feb. 1997
Psychiatric Medications as Symptoms

DEMONSTRATION:

Throwing Muses, Bright Yellow Gun

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I’m still having a hard time recovering from mental illness awareness week, migraines, can’t sleep and nightmares when I can, plus waking up crying. I woke up and hollered “Molly!” a few hours ago, and I’ve been drinking a bit to take the edge off, which is nothing to me but a clue. Molly Ivins lived in this city, and this week I’m going to walk the streets she walked, the streets she urged us, in her final proclamation, to run into with glee, banging pots and pans, shouting “We are the deciders.”

No, we’re not. Over a hundred google alerts in my inbox last week promoting awareness of mental illness, and not one word about child abuse, because, do I have this right — because NAMI — a family organization — is in charge — do I have that right — in charge of mental illness awareness — NAMI, is that right? Wait, ok, so the ghosts are in my house, my people, my blood, thicker than water, kinship, my loyal perpetrators, no escape, she’s dead and I’m buried, mom without end. This is how it was, invisibility in the family, this is how it is, invisibility in the mental health system, it feels like I’m in the wrong time frame, I don’t even know where I am, it’s all seamless, positively fourth street. I read the pdf files and feel like I’m losing my mind, they use our language, capital “R” recovery — recovery is possible, expect recovery! Recovery from what? With what? Drugs and denial, symptom suppression, fuck you, my symptoms need expression, space, recognition, discharge, that takes skill, competence, — Expect Recovery — I expect Mark Eitzel is on the stereo saving me “Why do you say everything as if you were a thief? Like what you stole has no value, and what you preach is far from belief?”

That’s what they do, steal a thing of beauty and turn it into shit, “It only takes one person to change the world!” Yes and tomorrow we’ll change it back, because we write, another behavior you’ll never begin to understand.

I have to type more about me and the first thing to appreciate is that I don’t want to. This is one reason we remain invisible in mental health policy and even to our own ignorant CBT “solution focused” treatment providers, we avoid the material, and all the fixers in the system collude with us, by failing to educate themselves about traumatized personality development, because they don’t want to look at it either. It’s a human tendency to avoid the dark and depraved, it’s unsettling to sit with, and take it in day after day, it screws people up to listen. It’s about helplessness, people have a problem with being helpless, they can’t change or undo anything, they can only be witnesses, and that’s enough!

The only therapists who are of any use are not available to most of us anymore, the old school, expensive, time-intensive treatment associated with psychoanalysis is what we need, and that is not an option today.

Therapists can’t just ask outright “were you abused as a child?” Because we’ll say no, dummy, we were indoctrinated to conceal, minimize and forget what was happening. We have no language. I didn’t say a word my first year, I drew pictures, gave my therapist collages made from magazines, took her by the hand and walked her outside and pointed at a tree. It takes a year in therapy to prepare to do the work of trauma, to build trust and go at it at a very slow angle. You need an intentional therapist sitting across from you that whole year, who knows what they’re doing, consciously working to prepare you for doing the work you dread.

I have been scared for a long time, I have been thinking about it all last week, remembering troublewaits, when I didn’t even know what I was talking about, just wailing that some undefined they were taking trauma out of existence. Erasing the concept. Now I am seeing it happening. I think. Who is doing this? Is it NAMI? Am I invisible to my allies too? Do others working as activists in mh liberation who know I insist on inclusion of the trauma model know or care why I say that? Tell me, what are my Suicide Survivor Notes about? When I talk about “my hospital records” do you assume I mean psych ward, and not the general emergency room where I went to get my ribs taped up after my NAMI did what they always did? I won’t spell that out every time you know, that was my mother.

Fighting biopsychiatry is not just about getting to the truth, it’s about the specific needs and challenges facing traumatized persons in the realm of mental health, and about making general sense out of personalities that are a real foreign land, which is useful for everyone, but of paramount relevance for people in the provider system. There are maps, this has all been studied and paid for, research and books and movies and songs, and 1200 scars on my best friends arms, programmed to self-destruct, still here, heroically in the way. We are in the system, we don’t always know why we end up in a mental health facility, but I am one who does know what happened to me, and what it did to me, and that there is no cure, and that there doesn’t need to be.

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