writing about my life

Behind a Polyester Veil

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Two mugs of heavily spiced chai for wake-up. The real Indian spice mix is way hotter than the re-marketed british brands that became popular. The heat comes from the ginger and black pepper, no chilli. There’s also lots of cardamom, and a whiff of nutmeg. I wonder if that little bit of myristicin potentiates the high of the chai. It is there to teach your digestion that everything is ok, at its best its a little like drinking lava, a beneficial lava that purifies as it travels down the gut.

With that tool to help me wake up into a low stress day, many new things are possible. I hope to add in the hour or so of writing that you can see me doing right now. Maybe that and a training session and my days are full.

I really need to explain certain changes that have come about in my character over the last couple of years. I had been trying to get a breakthrough in my self primalling, and I couldnt believe my luck when one happened. I just thought: “feel the shame” and suddenly I was contorting and passing through a cloud of feeling that I had not before actually felt. I started to see how much that shame had impacted me over years. It created a sense of secrecy in my innermost mind, an instinct to camouflage my feelings. Even as I write now there are still insights coming afresh about it.

After that initial step, many more feelings and “sensings” of many aspects of my life started to come through. I communed with Tesher, remembered the bullying I did at prep school, touched upon my feelings about my mother. Even a religious portal opened and I suffered a fear of hell and strange insights. I cried much more frequently and started feeling very fresh and focussed in the mornings. It was a profound change in my life, although a lot of what I found was hurtful and at times agony.

I am still working with all the gateways that were opened to me over that period. I encountered a huge sense of loneliness that I had not known was there, or that I had not been willing to acknowledge and own before. I had more insights coming to me about other people and their feelings. The loneliness can still be agony now. After this I began slowly to connect with Ian more, and became very close to him, with a lot of intuitive sharing between us.

But concurrent with all this was the codeine abuse. I would feel great regions of myself, but then would quickly score some gear and boot myself into being comfortably numb. I was on it for years and it escalated around the time of my breakthrough. I wondered if I was making a very serious mistake. I needed to get progress in the primal thing to get the insight and control I needed to eliminate the dependency, but the two influences were in a race with each other.

I have been off it for about a year now, but as often happens I have ended up substituting alcohol for the opiates. I have felt guilt about this, and a typical debate between one aspect of myself that is trying to self justify and another that wants to end the addiction. So in some ways I was not yet “saved” by primal at all. I questioned my belief in it, and did more online research into the history of humanistic therapies. I discovered that the history of primal is speckled with disasters and shenanigans, like anything. Was it cultic? Had I simply made up these experiences with deeply felt feelings.

There was a centre in LA called “The Center for Feeling Therapy”. It had several people running it, all of whom were primal graduates. But it became subject to scandals. Articles in the press alleging abuse, mind control, rigid authority. IE a cult… Hmm I thought. Seems even good things are peppered with bad bits. And there seemed open questions about primal, was Janov too dogmatic? Were the testimonials of people who didnt feel better after the therapy hushed up and suppressed? (again cultic..)

So I read and I thought and I wondered.

I read some bits online from people who wanted to debunk. And I read some bits from people who were wide eyed as if primal was a miracle. And the bits I like best were from the people who felt “changed” but also recognised some shortcomings in the “teachings” and affirmed that on some issues they had been forced to part company with Janov’s ideas and develop their own, different approaches. I wish in a way I could get to a conclusion on this, but it seems the jury is still out. I could swing too far into blind acceptance or I could go to the other extreme of complete rejection. But if I stay in the middle ground of partial belief partial skepticism then I have so much work facing me in getting understanding. Its frustrating.

I thought I was sailing through the morning but just now I had a gut twinge. I can now hear the woodwind section beginning to tune up. Lots of rumbles and parps. It seemed to have been caused by a sudden panicky state of mind where I thought “hey! I can live today like a superhero and be really busy on loads of courageous and masterful activities”. It is as if, when this mood comes, I am a soldier fighting to the death. Possibly even behind enemy lines like Grandpa was. Maybe being in Thanet is like being behind enemy lines in the class war.

But I wasn’t sure if I could handle it and suddenly I was pulling myself in two directions, one towards a low stress day being quiet and retiring, the other towards being “mentally well and therefore busy”… When really I was not well enough to be busy. The thoughts came very fast and my decision to fight came in a flash, then within a few seconds a grumble started and now I am back with the woodwind section, except that the Brass has now joined in. What is an onomatopoeic word for a gut rumble? RRrrrrooaaaaaarghhwwwwwa!

The microscope of hyper-detailed analysis switches on. I am looking at the first hour of waking. I pass through stages. Upon waking this morning I had some mathematical thoughts about something to do with unordered sets. Then the next thing was finding my bearings in space and time, getting to recognise the room I was in, that was space, and in time to remember roughly what happened the previous day. Of these the chief one was remembering that I had drunk whisky while chatting to Joe. I dimly wondered whether the bowels would complain and then, there we are, a few twinges and a runny feeling started to impinge on my awareness.

so this isnt an ideal morning but apart from bowels everything else is ok.

I have now been on tea only as my wake-up drink for two days and it has resulted in a much more relaxed state of mind. The coffee was adrenalising and caused edginess. I cant believe I’ve been wasting my time with it, Bill was right all along.

I am now absolutely convinced that the rats don’t trust me. I made a crucial observation where I could see they were much more loving and gentle with my mother than me. I wanted them as my witch’s familiars and it seems to have gone wrong. Rather than loving them as free beings in the cosmos I instead ended up doing a kind of psychological experiment on them! They bite me and it gets depressing living with someone who hates you. I thought I was quite a loving person towards animals but it seems that I am not. My mum is amazing with all animals she really is loving and good with them.


I am worried that I am failing. Is it possible that I have extended my interests across too broad a range? What should I focus on? Science or Art. Painting or Music? ahhh here it comes: Writing! Writing is the one that comes closest to being able to synthesise all of the others. I am lucky to have it and it is also a fine tool for preserving sanity.

When I was drawing the cartoon slides for “How not to be Spiritual” I was very much finding that the art was sourced from the child in me. I think I learned to trust the intimate revelatory style that really showed me to the reader, with all my flaws and scars. Of course you can be accused of being self-obsessed, but a more generous view is simply that the self is one of the largest of the continents that writing can help you explore.

I’m bearing it in mind that my mum is an art therapist, although she never gave me therapy, and thus I need to believe my writing is helping me grow in a similar way to that. Ian too paints as a child, it pours out of him at all times, really, and so we describe him as the mischievous schoolboy, or even Avatar of Loki. This latter description perhaps owes something to George Reid, who thought that Martin was Dorje Chang, a buddhist deity.

I celebrate the people I know in my writing, and I miss George a lot. Steve once said I was obsessed with my friends, perhaps after reading Renfield. Thats what Renfield was, really, a joyous dance that caricatured our crazy wild lives, in dayglo depictions. A celebration of a freedom that came to me only after I dropped out, and bucked the world that was calling me into its conformist maw. I escaped the monster with a hop and a skip, came to Thanet, and never looked back at the evil kingdom of job-slavery. It’s all history…

Now I wonder where to go next with my work. Its easiest for me just to write like this piece here where all I am doing is transcribing whats in my head. Telling a story is harder but the trick comes that it is the child in me who knows how to do it, whereas the adult just seems to be interested in analysis and reasoning skills. So right now I am in the adult, maybe just engaging head not heart and imagination too. How can I kick into the other mode? Maybe I can’t right now, but that’s all in place because just transcribing thoughts is helping me still.

But even writing this, right now, seems to be drawing me into the more magical child state, and I think I’m gonna try some cartoons again. My reason is that text is totally sequential, whereas the flow of a page of comix is less linear and seems to have slightly more degrees of freedom like a mind map. Imagine a building, you have entered the front door… you can go explore the rooms off the right of the hall, the ones to the left, or you can head upstairs. Each sequence of rooms gives a different feeling to the exploring experience. I suppose that may be connected to story tellers who start at the middle then go to the beginning and finally the ending. This probably came about because writers, as happens in comix, wanted to build in an element of a puzzle that the reader has to assemble right to “get” the whole story. Our minds can suss the nonlinearity of, say, Pulp Fiction, and weave the strands into the right order almost unconsciously. This ability of the mind to piece together enhances the pleasure and gives an “aha” moment when you do “get it”.

If you take a page of comix and look at the whole as one frame, you can see relationships between the elements are encouraging a very subtle sense of how the subject is involved with time and timing, whereas text has a form that is always just one word after another. But choice of words does timing in prose. There have been lots of experiments to enrich textual storytelling like hypertext fiction, and books with alternate endings. But my favourite is the “dungeons and dragons” type adventure stories where the reader partially decides the direction of flow of the narrative, by choosing what the lead character they are playing is to do next. If you want to fight the monster turn to page 49, if you want to run away turn to 78.

But as the stream of so many thoughts comes out (or should i include feelings too), I go deeper into myself and find great caverns of mood and cognition that I had forgotten the way to. One of those is coming back now. I wondered if Georgey, having been seen visiting me, caused me to have a reputation of performing magic too. “Maybe it’s that”, I think, as I desperately grasp at straws to explain why I feel so rejected in Westgate. Maybe I just feel rejected, full stop, and am misattributing the cause as something to do with Westgate. After all I had lonely walks in Dunkerque, and Brighton recently, to name but two of many places.

Mark the bouncer, with his dismissal of my talent, seems to lurk in some alternate space, where Westgate is reordered into a tesseract of paranoid horror. Maybe like London is reordered in Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”. He pursues me in a realm of thought because I cannot shut down the mind-loop of replaying his insult over and over. I am also terrified of Darrell in case he should draw me into trouble with the police.


Written by Luke Dunn

September 6, 2015 at 5:37 pm

Posted in Prose

Tagged with , , ,

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