This is the speech I gave to my class at Pacifica
Graduate Institute on conclusion of our coursework, June 27, 1999. Each
person in my class made a speech and this colloquium was to satisfy
the same function usually served by oral examinations. Everyone was
brilliant! It was amazing to see how, after years of reading and studying
Jungian psychology, we had synthesized the material. In my speech, I
tried to revision psychological practice in an aesthetic form without
an evolutionary goal. Some of this material is pulled from other essays
on this site. It owes many debts to Hillman, Jung, Noel Cobb, Blake,
Swedenborg, Corbin, Tom Moore, Bataille, Bachelard and many others,
all not cited fully in this format. I am well aware that many of these
ideas need to be worked further.
Note: Alchemy, practiced throughout the ancient
world, is a science or art through which material is subjected to a
series of operations in order to produce gold or the so-called philosopher's
stone, the key to understanding everything. This latter was to be reached
by the union of opposites in the final process called the conjunctio,
normally imaged as the union of male and female in the form of the divine
androgyne or hermaphrodite. Although alchemy was practiced as literal
chemistry, it was also imaged metaphorically as a process of psychospiritual
growth. In this sense, even the literal chemical process was imagined
to hold the mental projections of the alchemist. It was Jung's main
metaphor for the process of individuation whereby opposites are held
in tension and brought into harmony through the constellation of a third
I have a preamble. Yesterday I told Tayria that I never have insomnia,
and, then, quite naturally and predictably, I couldn't sleep last night.
So, I was on the beach at midnight, walking under a nearly full moon.
I have been asking myself that question Alice asked us to examine at
a deep level a few days ago: "Why does justice wear a blindfold
and carry a sword?"
I wasn't sure why this question captivated me so much until last night.
I followed Alice's method and began to think analogically about the
question. "Who else is blind?" I asked and, then, under Aphrodite's
pale eye, I got the answer: love. We say love is blind. Eros meets Psyche
in complete darkness, you'll recall. They are blind to one another.
Moreover, we image Eros, like justice, carrying a weapon - a bow and
arrow in his case.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that love and justice, truths,
are also wounding. All truth is a wound. Justice requires a sacrifice,
as does love. Both hurt. Here is a poem, "Early Morning,"
from Federico Garcia Lorca, poet of the duende and the matador:
But like love
Over the green night
leave tracks of warm
The keel of the moon
breaks purple clouds
and the quivers
fill with dew
Ah, but like love,
So, Alice's question was just another way of introducing my theme,
"The Irreparably Broken." I here invite you into a reversal
of what it means to heal. I've chosen this theme as a metaphor both
for my experience at Pacifica and for the way I have come to view the
project of psychotherapy.
So, I'd like to begin with what I think could be called a defining moment
in our class' history - at least for me. I'm talking about our second
class with Dr. Romanyshyn in which he angrily dismissed us early, saying
that the "container is broken." He was referring of course
to the retort - the alchemical container in which we imagine the "cooking"
and transformation of psyche through specified processes occurring.
The argument was about the value of the discussion at hand - the particular
"cooking" we were doing.
For me personally this was devastating because it established a rift
between our class and him that I'm not sure was ever healed. Certainly,
we have never been taught by him again, even though his thought was
fundamental to this program's creation. This was devastating to me because
it was his work that had largely inspired me to come to Pacifica in
the first place. This tore the fabric of my own academic expectations.
At that moment I thought my mentored examinations of technology, grief,
the body and the poetic from of thought had been banished. So much for
my dreams of synthesis of material I'd been reading compulsively for
five years. I was also for the first time set against many of my classmates,
who divided along lines of whether Dr.Romanyshyn was in the interesting
metaphor of the time a man who wore good shoes or bad shoes.
So I - we - have been living in the reverberations of this shattering
for three years, whether we have consciously been thinking about it
or not. The other ways we have lived as a class in a broken container
are, I think, fundamentally repetitions of this experience of shattering
over the question of what is appropriate in the education of depth psychologists.
Would we process? Would we have experiential work? Would we actually
have depth? Would Jack stay forever? Would we ever escape the religious
container of Casa Maria? Would I ever shut up and act respectful? How
would we be in our depths if we were languishing in a broken container?
What about the feminine? What about the masculine? I spent the first
two years here feeling as though I were suffocating like the homunculus
in Faust when his retort crashes at the throne of Galatea. I dropped
out and re-enrolled before anyone could notice I'd left.
Following our tradition of depth psychology, I have to ask what psyche
is attempting to express in the shattering of this vessel -- which I
distinguish from the contents of the vessel. What is the meaning in
this symptom, this broken retort in which we have lived from the outset?
And, following our requirements here, I ask this from the cultural,
historical and archetypal viewpoints. I feel I have to say that I include
the linguistic and the aesthetic in the cultural. And, further, it seems
important to me to ask where we situate soul, for the manifestation
of soul is our project. That is to say, where is depth located? Where
is the unconscious?
Our tradition had its defining moment in modernity with the publication
of Freud's Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. Interestingly - if you
have a taste for the archetypal and the astrological - this is the same
year that Oscar Wilde died. (Nietzsche also died in this year and the
death of god is the horizon of all events at the inception of modern
depth psychology!) Wilde, of course, was the brilliant man of letters,
openly androgynous but nonetheless adored around the world, who was
sent to prison for his foolish effort to deny his homosexuality in order
to preserve his social standing. In prison, he wrote the remarkable
De Profundis in which he developed a map of the soul that is certainly
one of the mainly unacknowledged progenitors of archetypal psychology.
Wilde wrote this and here I introduce a subtext to which I will return
later: "There is not a single degradation of the body which I must
not try and make into a spiritualizing of the soul."
I find these two occurrences in a single year ironic. Although Freud
recognized, through the notion of polymorphous sexuality, the inherence
of androgyny or bisexuality, he pathologized it in adults. Here is an
example of the two threads that wove themselves together in Freud. He
was at once fully a product of the romantic imagination, a self-confessed
explorer of mythemes and literary tropes, which I am here imaging as
the alchemists' androgyny at depth, the marriage of the king and queen.
But he was also an empiricist, drawn to the necessity of consistency
and, therefore the necessity of repression of the chaotic instincts.
Wilde, on the other hand, celebrated androgyny in his life and art and
never recanted this position.
Please understand that I am not here advocating literal androgyny. I'm
talking about the conjunctio, of course, the object of what occurs in
our image of the retort, our container if, supposedly, it is not smashed
and remains, in the unctuous language of contemporary counseling psychology
- "safe," "nurturing" and "mothering"
-- even as the heat is turned up slowly in the way one is advised to
boil frogs alive without alarming them. But I also mean to notice that
Wilde, as a poet and playwright, anticipated Freud's observation of
our inherent bisexuality, as of course did the early dreamers of Dionysos.
Everything in our tradition, everything, has been anticipated by poets
and artists and dreamers of all types. They create. Psychologists reflect.
Even Socrates was commanded by his daimon to write a poem at the end
of his life. (Parenthetically, I would argue that all good psychologists
yearn deeply to create.)
So, I am noticing that Wilde, having in some very real ways achieved
the object of the conjunctio, died miserable, suffering, reviled. For
Freud - if we read any of his case histories of artists and sexuality,
like Leonardo -- Wilde's misery would have resulted from a failure to
repress his androgyny, or more fully submlimate it in his writing as
another disguised wish. What would Jung say of such irreversible suffering
endured once the androgynous conjunctio is achieved? Not much, I fear,
for suffering is supposed to occur in UNDERGOING the alchemical process.
The outcome of alchemy is supposed to be individuation of the Self and,
in that, we are supposed to achieve a certain transcendence in the solid
body of the philosopher's stone. Jung celebrates androgyny certainly,
but he is - as always -- mysteriously, silent on the body, probably
in part because he was reacting to Freud's libidinal theories. In other
words he did not address the question of how psychological and sexual,
or physical, androgyny interact. (And I here put von Frantz's dishonest
concoctions, and those of countless other Jungians in this respect,
The question of the suffering androgyne is important because it asks
how we are to live, in our bodies, in the conjunctio, in the androgynous,
sublime state of consciousness. If Wilde, suffering but sublime, doesn't
live it, then who does?
All we know as Jungians is that we are supposed to be redeemed of
our suffering in the conjunctio. Even Hopeless Hillman is subject to
this fantasy of redemption.. And he says as much in his essay on Oedipus
when he confesses, almost parenthetically, that as long as he is working
in the analytical tradition, he is aware that he cannot see Oedipus
clearly. He insists that Oedpius is positively transformed, that the
death scene with Antigone is a conjunctio - a virtual returning to Eliade's
imagined origin of alchemy itself as gestation in the earth. He says
this even though Oedipus dies in the grove of the Eumenides. They, I
remind you, are the peaceful transformations of those enraged creatures
we know as the Furies. This change, and all change of its sort for the
Greeks, is wrought not by love or forgiveness but by blood-kin revenge,
Ginette Paris tells us. Hillman maintains his position that Oedipus
is softened by love even though the embittered king has actually shattered
Thebes, even though he has exposed the failure of the Apollonian oracle
itself, and dismembered our idealized notions of eros.
One of the foundational essays of archetypal psychology is Tom Moore's
essay on Artemis, in which he argues that the Dionysian dismemberment
of Acateon on seeing the naked goddess is a conjunctio in which the
puer is individuated through the action of the anima. He assumes this
reordering, this happy ending. A resurrection. And yet when you go to
Ovid's telling of the story, you find nothing of the kind. In fact,
you find only a terrible death and Ovid wondering if the goddess acted
Why do Freud, Jung and the post Jungians imagine a happy resurrection,
positive change, as the necessary outcome of the conjunctio? Why do
the poets, with virtually no exceptions, understand that this isn't
necessarily so at all, perhaps quite rare?
Consider the story of Arthur Rimbaud, who literally changed the face
of modern poetry by the time he was 25. He did this by developing a
poetic process similar to Freud's word association and Jung's active
imagination (with the help of plenty of absinthe). He called it a willful
disordering of the senses. Listen to what the poetic contemporary of
Freud wrote in A Season in Hell, while Freud and Jung were children,
basically, before they undertook their own descents:
"Poetic quaintness played a large part in my alchemy of the word.
I became an adept at simple hallucination
.Finally I came
to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind. I was idle, full of sluggish
fever: I envied the felicity of beasts, caterpillars that represent
the innocence of limbo, moles, the sleep of virginity
And then, in this altered visionary state of liminal silence, the silence
Rilke too required, he launches "The Song of the Highest Tower"
in which an astounding conjunctio is observed, not of butterflies, those
classic representations of soul, but of scavenging flies. "O may
it come the time of love, the time we'd be enamoured of," he writes
in a repeating stanza. This time of love turns out be a "union
of incense and tares
where fierce buzzings rise of filthy flies
memory is dead and all fears and all wrongs have fled to the heavens,
where all my veins burst with a sickly thirst." This brilliance
of language and vision was as close as I can imagine a true conjunctio,
one that, as I said, changed the face of modern poetry, but it did not
in any sense end the passionately bisexual Rimbaud's suffering. Nor
did he imagine anything like transcendence. This is a conjunctio in
hell, the underworld. He was reviled by the poets of Paris. Heartsick
and feeling a failure, he ran away to Africa, our global mother and
symbol of the underworld, where he died early, ironically of syphilis,
a wound of love.
There is Keats' song of the nightingale in which the poet and the bird
discourse. There is a dialog of song, there is the melancholy of knowing
that the poet's voice can never be fully as timeless as the bird's.
And yet, following Gaston Bachelard, we know that it is this temporary
interruption of time, its shift from a horizontal linear to a vertical
direction, that defines poetry's transformative, curative, incantative
effect on psyche. But we also know that if time is the container of
the imagination, it is of necessity always smashing itself. We are always
called back to the miserable moment of broken hearts and unmet dreams.
We all live Rimbaud's fate. The container is always shattered. Yes,
we are all born as children fated to die and our lives, our poeisis,
is preparation for death.
And finally, there is Goethe himself, the preeminent figure of the romantic
movement who was muse to both Freud and Jung. It astonishes me now that,
having felt so ruptured in Dr. Romanyshyn's class, psyche called me
to write about Faust and technology, the technology of the retort. Again,
Faust has, in our tradition, been subjected - particularly by Edinger
- to an intensely Christianized version of alchemy. Faust is, we believe,
redeemed in the retort. Not at all. In fact, Faust is redeemed by grace,
Fortuna, after a series of failed conjunctios, such as the crashing
of the homunculus at the throne of Galatea. We could call these "lesser
conjunctios," to use the term we have developed to explain away
what is too unpleasant to imagine: that, as Nietzsche theorizes, we
may be drawn to self-shattering, to the Dionysian, for no reason but
nature's satisfaction. Freud, of course observes the same but immediately
pathologizes it as the necessarily repressed death drive. In Freud's
view we must forget what Nietzsche says we must remember and realize
through the will to power.
Faust, a man of science and religion, has lost his passion, but his
struggle, his entry into the retort, is engineered in heaven by a bet
between Lucifer and God. It's a game, a grand game played by the forces
of nature which as much reverse tragedy as initiate it, by the sudden
setting of new rules and the successive breaking of containers. Fortuna,
Listen to Goethe in his poem, holy longing, which praises "sehnsucht,"
the german romantic notion that we have a yearning to join with something
greater than ourselves, something of our origins, according to Noel
Cobb in his book Archetypal Imagination (which inspires many of my thoughts
here). The Greeks called it pothos. It is Rimbaud's "sickly thirst."
This is Robert Bly's rather bad translation of the first stanza, cited
in Cobb's book:
"Tell a wise man, or else keep silent,
because the mainstream will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death."
Amazing, isn't it? In Goethe we have Freud's erotic and death drives
already delineated and in his play we have the possibility that either
can predominate -- NO MATTER how we live our lives. In fact, Goethe
prefigures the postmoderns, like Baudrillard and Bataille, who notice,
also in Freudian ways but again minus the pathologizing, that these
drives can become completely conflated. That is to say that the ecstatic
is the object of the shattering, that the shattering contains its own
ecstatic moment and that is enough. There is no resurrection. No gold.
No stone. No cure. No redemption. Perhaps there is just, to use Maureen's
story, the thousands of piercings as needles dismemeber and enrapture
the flesh at once in tattooing. Perhaps there is only rehearsal for
For the observer of this truth enacted ritually, as in, say sacrifice
of an animal or of a young man in battle -- or in films like Saving
Pvt. Ryan -- there is the identification with the ecstatic as consciousness
is differentiated from death. There is the moment of death and the moment
of the ecstatic contained within it .Wolfgang Giegerich, in his critique
of archetypal psychology, makes a similar point and notices that, as
ritual, it has been lost irretrievably from modernity.
And so, I am arguing, that in shattering our container three years ago,
we fell into a death whose seed is the ecstatic - not a conjunctio in
which we transcend what caused the shattering, but an opportunity in
which we can know the truth of death and the ecstatic, the double nature
of consciousness - so that we can meet our doppelganger, as the romantics
put it. Our shadow, as Jung put it. Our soul, as Hillman puts it. Our
unconscious as Freud puts it. Our duende as Lorca puts it. Nature caused
the shattering because, as Goethe argues, nature yearns to be burned,
to be destroyed, in order to reveal her double nature. Our spiritualized
assumptions about the function of the retort, the container, the consulting
room, the home, the trip abroad, the hospital room, the meditation hall,
the personal relationship, the theater, the classroom, the church, the
massage table, the deathbed and the tomb -- all those places we imagine
ourselves reaching transcendence -- were thus potentially shattered
too in the shattering of our retort at Pacifica.. Could it be that the
philosopher's stone has become a millstone worn about the neck? Even
the heart of Sophia, disguised as Mary, is on fire in Chartres. Deborah's
madonna is blackened by the soot of self immolation.
What is lost in shattering, in giving up the fantasy of the conjunctio
as healing moment of encounter with the numinous? The One is lost. By
the one, I mean the notion of union, of one god, of one cause - the
transcendent one, the fantasy of synthesis, the tapestry, the symbiotic,
heaven, the everlasting marriage -- of king and queen and undying Hermaphroditus..
This is the myth that the unshattered retort supports. Freud, even as
an atheist, thought like a Judeo-Christian. He reduced our experience
to the one cause, the Oedipal libidinal cause, a new god. His heirs
have split. Some, like the English Object Relations people, who now
contaminate the Jung institutes, are further reductive, taking up his
empirical thread. Now we move from the Oedipal period to the first year
of life with mother and then to the breast itself. Constriction. Others,
like Lacan and Foucault, blew Freud open, picking up his mythic threads,
and they, of course, are not read by therapists, but in literature programs,
to which metaphor has entirely fled in the academy..
We like to imagine that Jung improved things, even adding Sophia to
the trinity to create a quaternity - but this too is all in service
to the One, the Self. Further, if you read his lectures on Zarathustra,
you find his contempt for Nietzsche's aestheticism because he believed
it was, in its radical polytheism, an argument against religion, Christianity.
Hillman, of course, returns polytheism AND aesthetics to psychology,
but, as I demonstrated in his reading of Oedipus, he too cannot bear
to give up the fantasy of transcendence. We saw in our own class how
unbearable the broken container is when David Ulansey disassembled the
Christ myth but even he, too, in debunking the resurrection had to resurrect
a new Christ - what I would call the eco-Christ -- the Christ he called
the first depth psychologist.
So the project of our psychology's thinkers, in the application of
therapy, has continued to be the recovery of the One, the solution,
the conjunctio - whether through Freud's repression or Jung's individuation.
We, depending on which of the literally 200 schools of therapy we follow,
promulgate this fantasy of cure, transcendence, re-creation of a "safe"
container: The client, our Humpty Dumpty, has fallen to pieces and the
therapist, like the hubristic king's men, is going to help put him back
together again. We know the end of that rhyme
and, I allege, in
our hearts, we know how unsuccessful psychotherpay really is except
as handpatting until psyche creates a fissure, quite independent of
our own efforts, and rips open the cosmos. What if we left the pieces
of our broken clients alone, honored them like gravestones?
Even the severest critics of therapy, like Hillman, who wrote a book
on the subject, and Giegerich and, recently, Andrew Samuels cannot bring
themselves to abandon psychotherapy altogether. They imagine somehow
that we can continue to practice psychotherapy and do something different
from the reductive work now literally required by licensure and ethics
boards, schools, employers and other supporters of medicalized therapy.
It is impossible to become a psychotherapist now and not to be contaminated
by the reductive medicalizations, whose triumphs have expelled from
the therapy room hat part of our tradition that stood for poetry and
soul. Most psychologists now don't even speak of the unconscious.
Of course, some of us - namely those whose livelihood depends on it
--- argue that killing therapy altogether would be a case of throwing
the baby out with the bathwater. (I'd call it throwing the corpse out
after its dissection in a medical school laboratory.) Naturally, as
Hillman suggests in his own self-assessment, if you believe the conjunctio
heals us of suffering, you cannot favor the intentional shattering of
the therapy room itself. You cannot consider it.
But the baby and the bathwater trope is the same argument by which phrenology
survives in racist descriptions of the supposedly inferior African skull.
By such an argument the dunking of women accused as witches in ice cold
water survives as electroshock therapy. By such an argument the exorcism
of the inquisition survives as the banishment by therapists of the daimon
and duende, the dark personifications of the psyche - and of the angel,
as well. Incredibly, most of the major mystics and artists of history
have been diagnosed as mad by writers in the psychoanalytical tradition.
We preserve therapy as a medicalized, rigidifying profession by our
participation in it. Typically, we tell ourselves we will jump the educational,
training and licensure hoops and then do our own thing - as if we can
leap through fiery hoops like toy poodles, without singeing our hair.
Moreover, we delude ourselves in thinking we can leap through these
hoops and not lead clients, via the transference, through the same soul-killing
hoops. So soul is driven out of therapy into the grimly concrete and
vastly uneducated world of urban shamen, channelers, teddybear-hugging
inner child workers and deep-breathing aromatherapists. All of these
have something to teach us, but all, perhaps because they are correctives
to the dominant paradigm, are controlled by their shadow fantasies of
wholeness and transcendence.
Still, as different as the two camps are in their intentions and styles,
they share a singular philosophy: shattering in itself is no goal. It
is only in service to the evolutionay conjunctio. How odd that we speak
against linearity but adhere to alchemy, a linear, evolutionary model
of consciousness. Even if our paradigm doesn't include alchemy, the
work of therapy is almost always conceived as evolutionary. Shattering
But, I aver, soul demands shattering. For where there is dismemberment
there is the ecstatic -- not an ecstasy of pure pleasure or emotion
but of penetration to the objective psyche. If any emotion is present
at this level, it is usually akin to heartbreak, the affect of sehnsucht.
And the soul calls out for this in its own unreal imaging. As the maenaeds
were imagined to be literally cannibalistic by the late Greeks, now
therapists and new age bliss ninnies alike imagine satanic cults actually
devouring their babies. The literalization of these fantasies, in their
horror, suggests how urgently soul calls for its own shattering.
Meanwhile, on the periphery, poets and artists of every type die into
the ecstatic, sweeping audiences away with them into the broken, fragmented
world of the imagination. A dancer describes an arc with her foot and
the earth's equator is described. A world is contained. A singer, filled
with duende, brings the air to tears: the atmosphere itself is turned
blue with sound and soul. History is filled with the way art has radically
transformed perception and understanding, even causing riots such as
Stravinksky's first performance of the Firebird. It was Lorca's arts
-- deep song, flamenco, and the spoken word -- that threatened the fascists
and led to his execution. What psychologist has gone to his death defying
the state? None. While we arguably live within the imagination of depth
psychology, it has -- despite Freud's own intentions -- become a commentary
on shattering, rather than a shattering itself. It protects us from
the shattering. By so doing it perpetuates the banishment of soul and
the recent fantasy of wholeness.
While psychology allies itself ever more with autocratic forces through
its medicalizations, reductions and legalization, art continues to break
out, to challenge, to reverse, to serenade the doppelganger. It was,
ironically, an image of the alchemical vessel that changed the way art
was viewed in this country a few years ago. I'm talking about Andres
Serrano's "the Piss Christ," a photograph of a crucifix contained
in a bottle of urine, that led Jesse Helms and his fellows to begin
their dissolution of the National Endowment for the Arts. This was a
shattering of sorts, of the container of state-supported art, and, of
course, of our conceptions, for the artist revealed how piety has become
waste, how even our cultural image of shattering, the crucifixion, has
become awash in toxicity and kitsch. How gothic that Jesse Helms saved
art from the state -- the devil acting as the instrument of grace as
Flannery O'Connor or Goethe would say.
Only when therapy is wrestled from the state and medicine, or, more
likely, when it is abolished, abandoned and left behind, will soul return
fully to the praxis of psychology. Then, by shattering and the widening
of our possibility, in Nietzsche's, not Eliade's, sense of the eternal
return, can something new, a new voice for psyche, be discovered. The
further the pieces of our Humpty Dumpty work are scattered, the harder
we smash them and the more we confront, the further we will have to
go adventuring, exploring territory most of us, including Hillman, have
not yet even imagined.
The public already knows that therapy is doomed. In films like "Shakespeare
in Love," the psychological craft is ridiculed whereas the play
-- or better said, the play within the play, the divine Faustian game
-- is revealed as therapeutic -- not because it cures, or heals, but
because it opens time vertically and, in the nearly simultaneous birth
and dying of love, we are stung by the ecstatic. Meaning comes out of
the process of reversal and reversals are preparation for death. (And
here I insert parenthetically that if revealing or creating meaning
is the object of your praxis, everything a client presents must be confronted
and invited into imaginal reversal.) Another example of the way the
public is ahead of therapists is "Gods and Monsters," in which
the monstrous and the androgynous and the morbid sink into the erotic.
There are no happy endings. Even Freud told us this.
Until therapy itself is shattered, the unconscious will continue to
inhabit the place many people have noticed here this weekend, although
nobody has said explicitly. It has been my subtext here. The unconscious,
soul, now inhabits the body. Perhaps it always has but soul definitely
fell asleep in the body during the dreams of Descartes. Thus, if you
want to go in search of the unconscious, and soul, you must pay attention
to the body above all.
So, I close with a story of the body, my body, my soul's own fated home
-- no cure, no solution, no offerings or claims. After our last session,
I went to Provence for a few weeks. In that place, especially during
the spring, you have a real sense of the phenomenologists' claim that
art fashions nature and not the reverse. I was living in the landscape
of the impressionists, amid fields of poppies and lavender, with every
view banked by masses of yellow flowers. Beauty. I awoke. I mean that.
I came to my senses.(I bought a Hawaiian shirt.)
Every morning, I went out of the house I rented into the cherry orchard
and picked fruit for my breakfast, sometimes just standing there and
eating. One morning, I reached up to a branch; it was a far reach. I
had to stretch. I held the pose and suddenly, I was Carol, in that pose
she described standing on the boat, stretching to reach the whale two
summers ago. Remember that? Carol who was silent so long spoke to us
so clearly through her gestural body. And I was Emily, stretching her
hands to touch the hands of her painting. I was Mary Rose, hands above
her head, on fire, inviting me into her dance. Time, you see, was revealed
in its verticality. Images flooded me through the gesture of my body.
What sadness overcame me in my imaginal discourse in the cherry orchard!
Here was Dave Abrams' spell of the sensuous. Here was the gesture Romanyshyn
.and here I was returned to my grief, to our early class,
to the beginning. Where am I going, I thought. Where is my soul? Oh,
where is my soul? There is soul. In Carol, in Emily, in the cherry
tree. With my first zen teacher, meditating by an open grave, where
I encountered the duende, shaking and shuddering in the earth and entering
my imagination - not through my head, but through my feet, as it did
years before when, as I child, I put my hand on the ground and told
my mother and friends stories of what the earth told me.. I fell back
into time, out of the vessel, out of that moment of poetry, but into
gratitude for that moment, this moment. I am in re-membering..
Yes, I am in the thought of the heart, but not the heart of innocence.
I am in the broken heart of longing and desire and passion that stirs
the imagination, demands reversals. Therefore, I celebrate the breaking
of my heart and the breaking of every heart, because where the pieces
fall, there alone is new possibility and there alone is the chance for
a good death.
So we began in shattering and we end in shattering and so, I claim,
there is only shattering, only dying into this or that. May we all,
in our parting from this place so important to us the last three years,
have good deaths.