Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Behind Blue Eyes

"Nobody wants to hear about your girlfriend, your cat, your life." Bolt awake from a dream half-erotic, half-ridiculous, resisting sleep an hour, I mused about my next blog entry. I'd noted "professional" bloggers' advice: keep it objective if you want to sell success.

But, on this blog, nobody's buying what's free, I figure. You can read Stephane Grenier's "Blog Blazers"-- reviewed last month by me here and on Amazon US-- if you want to make money off your site. I'm content to regale you with me, as you do me with you, through these media. Who knows who finds these very late-night, pre-dawn thoughts? I've lost the Google Analytics widget even though my wife daily checks hers for her quite personal, yet philosophical, blog, full of musings about her girlfriends, her life, if less about the cats that pestered me from sleep now as I type this exorcism of my incubi at 4:45 a.m., failing to return to sleep and lacking a charged iPod with which to shut out her tossing, turning, and talking in her own very deep slumber. The ceiling fan whirs, the summer dawn nears, yet the heat of yesterday's never quite dimmed. August brings restlessness not only for dog's days.

I'd finished late last night Ted Conover's "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing," as a complement to Michael Santos' "Inside: Life Behind Bars in America." I figured they'd give me, from a man serving a year as a New York "correctional officer" and one sentenced for what will be twenty-five years in federal penitentiaries after his release in 2013, a balanced view. It worked for my consciously analytical mind.

The aftermath, a dream of a female prison supervisor and me-- not a prisoner but not quite a guard I guess-- was far from satisfying, but closer to provocative. I spare you the illogical details; I'm not the type to rattle on, at least about my reveries. Suffice to say it was one of those tingling but terrifying ones that combines enticing charm with Gothic frustration; it reminded waking me of a Henry Fuseli engraving, all erotically bound and demonically coiled in some dungeon, or Goya's contemporary drawing "El sueño de la razón produce monstruos." Instead of "a parliament of owls" (correct collective avian noun!) flying out of my drowsing heavy head, I'd replace it with I suppose Catholic guilt, Dorian Grey's reflected failure at chronological restoration, and the family's new photo portraits I saw also the previous evening that we'd bartered, such is the economy and my spouse's necessary business ingenuity, for her stock footage.

I've felt edgy lately, so I suppose I look it in those photos shot a week ago. My reddish-brown hair's nearly all silver, my once ginger beard's white. Barely any auburn remains, and my tousled wavy cut, shorn down for summer to the length of a fresh fish for prison bait as inmate or jailer, allows little distraction from my ever-elongated head with its jutting ears and perpetually thick if finally-- thanks to the magic of "lightweight" marginally thinner lenses at least-- rimless glasses.

The last photo, the one I will probably continue to use on my blog and the Net, had me with still sandy shade above but without specs below. We all on the wife's directive wore autumnal dark, however, so I look like a monk, buried in a black coat and sweater combo against a stormy oilcloth background that only accentuated my pale skin and my owlish, blinded, gaze into strobed emptiness. So, this time we figured I'd wear a bright blue shirt.

This enhanced my eyes, but with my glasses tilting down my beakish nose, as long as John Lennon's to whom I used to be compared (was that a compliment, the sarcastic one and not the cute one?), I looked like a granny. And, who could see pale blue eyes behind the massive width of my glasses? They did serve to stretch out in optical illusion my oval, to put it kindly, countenance. But, I could not believe that this very fair, bleached white, and sharply shorn character represented how you all, in the mugshot on the Web and worse in person for a few of you, see yours truly.

"No one knows what it's like to be the sad man. To be the bad man, behind blue eyes." Or vice versa. The lyrics to The Who's song popped into my sleepless mind as I composed mentally what I'd write, or have not written yet, here. They bring to mind a high school lesson in sophomore comparative religion, where a friend of mine, now deceased, who told of how his brother used these lines, circa '71 when they first appeared, to accompany a presentation of the then-current hi-tech medium for the masses, the slide show as sermon.

I first heard in that class about concepts I study today, about Buddhism and Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. The advice to repair what we've heedlessly damaged in our early stumbles through life transcends sectarianism. Perhaps that instruction stuck with me, despite my mistakes that harmed others as I tried to grow up. We all grapple with our own ignorance, our own lack of control, and we still keep falling down. But, I've tried to pick myself up and lend a hand to others as they for me.

After I found some old classmates on Facebook, for a couple of them, I tried to make amends for past wrongs. These harms dated, them being old classmates, back decades, one to the late-Seventies, the other the mid-Eighties. For both, I suppose until hindsight via FB's perspective enabling me to contact them sharpened my focus abruptly, I had not realized so long ago, until now, how deeply I had hurt them.

One promptly accepted my apology. One eventually deflected it. It shot back at me, and it hurt. I guess forgiveness is not mine to always bestow as largesse-- and then to waltz away so smugly from the one struck down. Perhaps this pain sometimes for some of us we must endure, to remind us of our lack of power, our humility. This too keeps us tethered by our weakness. It drags us closer to our common frail anguish.

Still, with this chance to keep present with people from my past, I welcome unexpected opportunities provided by technology to bolster communication. I may not always gain the responses I'd anticipated, but I've tried to unburden my conscience, better late than never. Without social networking, I'd never have been able to contact friends anyway; this reveals to me the blessings that surround me. I hope you too, perusing my thoughts perhaps on that same social network fed by this blog.

In restless hours in the middle of that waking night, our past haunts us and transforms us into revenants. Returned ghosts who keep revisiting where we once lived. Economic loss, vanished careers, family sundering, and the death of loved ones, I found with many of those I have learned about-- perhaps especially with the two old friends I tried to ask forgiveness from-- also hammer many of us today in particularly cruel onslaughts. It's poignant, humbling, and chastening to find that my own troubles don't amount to the proverbial hill of Bogie's beans compared to many of my peers.

It's been a challenge to reach out not only in this blog but in correspondence to people you'd never thought you'd see again, let alone in this new medium to verbally and cybernetically re-"friend." The promise of that capacious term as a verb for our social networking's elastic and elusive. As my spouse observed in a related context: "cheaper than yoga or shrinks." Apropos, I also add her three favorite words in the English language to be said to her by me: "I was wrong."

I near I find a hundred "Friends" now on FB, but if asked as a recent quiz did there how many I'd know in "real life," it's barely half at best. Fewer of whom might recognize me as their old classmate, unless prompted by an uploaded JPEG. And, seeing for many I once accompanied in dorms and cafeterias, classrooms and libraries so well in their present incarnations or-- for many-- an animal, a celebrity, a joke stand-in, a landscape, a tiny half of a barely discernable happy couple, or an old photo of them as I last saw them in the late-Seventies (or far less often, tellingly for me and them, those Eighties), I gaze at their own displayed or hidden or transmuted representation as but a thumbnail snap.

And, if you're reading this as one of those FB near-hundred, or as a un-Google Analyzed faithful or accidental follower from the original blog, I appreciate you as another friend. They say an Irishman will talk to you for hours but tell you nothing. But, I hope this entry's something, despite or because of discretion mixed with candor. I write as if shouting or whispering into ethereal voids. Existentially and practically, it's impossible for me to know who's listening to me as I type this. Analytics aside, we all face a mystery when seeking out another pair of eyes.

Coming downstairs to peck this out in the dark, I removed a cat from my chest, stepped over a sleeping poodle who barely wagged her tail as I tiptoed, and greeted the corgi before he returned to his dogbed. (Is that a cat in the Goya corner? It looks as unreal as Blake's romanticized "Tyger, Tyger burning bright in the forests of the night.") But, as I finish, the birds chirp and the owls apparently return to their irrational dreams. So, I prepare to post this at my Pacific Standard Time. Albeit far earlier than usual!


Tony Bailie said...

A Jungian psychoanalyst would probably home in on the female prison guard and the 'dungeon'... Freud would of course probably have you imprisoned by your mother! Never-the-less, the female prison guard seems to correspond to the classic Jungian archetype represented by the 'anima'... the strong, domineering female - Eve, Delila, Salome, Morgan Le Fey - who is an aspect of your unconsciousness, and quite a significant one in terms of the process of 'individuation'. The dungeon would suggest an area in which you feel trapped, or an aspect of your subsconsciousness feels trapped. Obviously from the real-time aspects of your dairy piece you have to take in to account that your waking impressions have simply been regurgitated into your dreams. But - and of course remembering that I am a strict amateur psychologist who probably hasn't got a clue what he is talkingairly about - the basic details of your dream, from my understanding of Jung, could be an indication of a mature and fairly well-established persona whose subterranean elements are demanding that they at least be acknowledged and, if possible, drawn in to the open.

Fionnchú said...

While I remain unsure about my "dairy piece", Tony, I welcome that encouraging Jungian analysis. I realize I always liked Morgana le Fay when reading Malory, felt sorry for Delilah, admired Salome in that decadent painting from a century-and-more ago, and as for Eve, she did get a raw deal. So, you can interpret my leanings as you will.

Luckily, no more prison for now, for it's on to none other than the Kiely bio of Stuart for at last a book review looming after two years trying for a venue, so I'll keep you posted. Not that FS had the most stable "persona" re: women, either.

Tony Bailie said...

I think Francis spent quite a bit of time behind bars during the Civil War in Ireland and after WWII. Look forward to seeing review.