I have been hypnotized. My brain—my famous brain—would not turn off completely. When has it ever except under the influence of passion? But it softened its dense weave, and opened some, like continents separating, or braids loosening. So that images could slip through, images normally…No. I was going to write, images that are normally suppressed. But it isn’t that. All the images are always rising, always present, floating, as it were, before the mind’s eye. But usually the conscious mind pays them no heed if they do not seem rationally connected to what it already has determined as the subject at hand. The conscious mind rejects everything that does not fit clearly into the already-arrived at concept-construct-narrative. It stubbornly sticks to its story, despite the constant presence of other facts, truths, despite new information that would change its mind. Despite even feelings that don’t seem to fit. It thinks it is so reasonable. And, insofar as reason is the creation of abstract constructs, it certainly is. Reason, thus, is different (not quite opposite, not quite enemy) from experience, which is an everything. Experience contains the all and Reason partitions it up into meaning. Experience is unfiltered, but the brain-machine can only digest phenomena by arranging it according to its own structure and capabilities, also, its own past experiences and the already-formed categories. To make new categories and combinatory arrangements is much more difficult than using the old ones. But, in any case, if we may move on without having fully solved these fundamental problems (excuse us, Kant), I want to tell you about being hypnotized.
The great discovery was this:
When we are in a state to access the subconscious imagery, we allow ourselves to dwell on things we normally would deem irrelevant. It is just these things, that seem to come from nowhere, but maybe come from the subconscious or the collective unconscious or are, perhaps, merely random, it is these things alone that can open the usually locked doors between our conscious minds and an infinity of rich and self-generating revelation. The state is a loosening of the mind so that these images can rise and be observed. They float before us. Instead of suppressing them, we regard them with curiosity. What might they “mean”? What might they tell us about ourselves?
The hypnotist asked me about love. What was in the way?
And I saw a vast storehouse of skeletons, of corpses, lying one atop the other, blanched and moldering. It was, I knew of an instant, that old holocaust theme. I thought, Oh, Lola, really, how unoriginal. Is this the best you can do? But there it was, and, well, without my normal filter, I let them command my attention, as answer to the question: What is in the way of love? And even cheaper, even more cliché, there rose a rose, alternating with the field of the dead, the moistest, most red, the juiciest of roses. And I spoke: I cannot have happy love because all these people are dead. The rose spoke: Live, enjoy, love. The corpses said, remember us.
Then I saw an ice queen, rising up out of the cold tundra. And knew she was I. Small children clutched at the hem of her gown. Children in black and white with large frightened eyes like those of my mother in those old photographs. My job forever was to take care of the children and protect them from evil. To take care of my mother, and my father too. And I could not let up, not to live my own life, not to love.
The hypnotist said: But what if the danger has passed? Can you relinquish your vigilance? What if the children are grown? Can they not take care of themselves?
And what about the child that was you, she asked, do you see her? And there I found myself sitting on the floor of a parqueted apartment, bereft and alone, for there was no one to care for me when the parents were the children and there was need of someone to protect them and who but me?
So she asked me was I ready to take myself in my arms and lift myself up, to carry myself up the stairs which she had me imagine as she counted, one step at a time, up and up, and up and up, to leave them to their own troubles and traumas, to rise, 1, 2, 3, 4….one more, another, another, another, 9, 10, 11, up to the surface of life, leaving the dead to bury the dead, and to be free to love and live and devour and be devoured in the great feast of life, rolling in a bed of flowers, thorns and silken petals and all. And when my mind was loose, unattached to all that I had learned about bad poetry and maudlin self-pity, moist-eyed and grateful, I did as she bid me, and did not devastate my subconscious with any super-sophisticated critique. For a moment, I was at peace, and glad.
Your Mad Lola