Just a thought…

800px-Penciltip

It strikes me that in going to great lengths to sharpen your wit, you risk something akin to symptoms of obsessive pencil sharpening.

Sure, for a while you’ll be able to deliver sharp jabs, frequently and with consistency. But before too long, you’ll find yourself fumbling with words, struggling to create anything worth serious reading, the heft of your word-smithing atrophied through neglect.

~ Bruce

Nightmare on K Street

Not that I could forget, save perhaps by blow to the head, I’m almost forced to remember on account of it being raised in conversation, or by being near-touched upon tangentially; one early morning after hitting the booze during a trip to Melbourne.

Oh, it was going to be great. The night started out with my being called (perhaps erroneously) a “writer”, and I seemed to be able to endure the standard rate at which alcohol was being imbibed. In fact, I didn’t even feel drunk by the time another (it would later be revealed) was having a spew.

I felt the first itch of an urge to write just as the friend I was staying with was set upon by a young lady. A young lady who’d informed us that she’d “just finished school”. Which is to say she was old enough to drink, and what-not, only it made me feel a bit old.

My friend and I had been discussing Maurice Merleau-Ponty (as being the only redeemable phenomenologist), folk-theories of aesthetics, and shit, all day. I was primed to write, and the late-night action seemed to light a fuse.

Soon after, my friend and his newly graduated accomplice, ducked out for a bit of what-not, back at the place where I’d been sleeping. I went on drinking in order to give them a little more time alone, plus extra drinking for extra time, in case it was needed. It’s always good to increase your margin of error in these matters.

Anyway, perhaps I was at least a little drunk.

Eventually, thanks to a friend, I got back to the house, sneaking in and locking the door behind me, in the dark then tip-toeing over creaking floorboards, towards my mattress on the lounge-room floor, dropping my pants, and crawling in. My mate, still awake, in turn tiptoed to the lounge room to make sure I was who I was, which I was, so all was good.

Then everyone more or less committed to nodding off.

Some time later, it occurred to me that I couldn’t sleep. I’d had a good night on the piss, and I still couldn’t stop thinking about writing – people had got me all excited about it; “writer”, “Maurice Merleau-Ponty”, “shit”. Four thirty in the morning is usually a good time for this kind of inspiration.

I got it into my silly head (which is why I entertain the suggestion of my own drunkenness), that it would be like “that Hitchens anecdote” – the one where he drinks his pals under the table, only for them to wake up to find him finishing another essay. It was going to be like that.

Then there was movement…

A foot stepped down on the corner of my mattress and I opened my eyes to make out part of a black silhouette hovering above in the darkness. Footsteps tracked the side of my improvised bedding, stumbling into the kitchen, the silhouette gaining only enough outline to identify the owner; the young lady who’d come home with my friend earlier in the night.

I told myself that as soon as she’d finished I-didn’t-want-to-know-what in the bathroom, and made it back to bed, I’d get up and start writing. Sure… It was going to be like that.

After a wrong turn into the pantry, the silhouette stumbled back across the edge of my mattress, thankfully managing not to step on my balls or face in the process. I was about to emerge from my failed slumber and head for my laptop when it happened.

I still had my eyes closed, hands pinned beneath my head, when somehow a pair of arms interlocked with mine, and a face nuzzled between my shoulder and jaw. Teeth grinded – her teeth – which to my mind, instantly conjured imagery of The Walking Dead – her mouth only millimetres from my neck, gnashing.

I could have screamed I guess, but that doesn’t come naturally to me. Maybe it should.

No, what I tried to do, with some success, was to slowly untangle myself from her arms, crawling further down along my bed, as she lay “above” me at a one-eighty degree angle. After about an hour of this manoeuvring, I was finally free to get up and get away. But…

I needed a little breather before I got up. I closed my eyes, only to re-open them to the first rays of morning’s light. I looked “up” to see legs cycling as if she was dreaming the Tour de France, before noticing that in fact, she was naked. What if during my escape, she woke up to find me standing over her like that?

Shitballs…

Slowly, I searched from my mattress-fortress for my mobile phone amidst my travel baggage. I’d SMS my friend in his bedroom, and maybe give him a ring to wake him up. I needed to be rescued out of this situation.

The search for my phone lead me at last to the insides of a Woolworths plastic bag, which crunched and crackled with each tentative movement. This took some time to do stealthily, yet eventually, I was to discover the bag did not in fact contain anything other than unwashed underwear…

I closed my eyes in disappointment only to open them right as the bag was lifted away by Miss Naked, who stood briefly above my head. Swiftly, she placed the bag to one side, and then slid down under the sheets next to me – it was all I could do to roll aside, making sure my arms weren’t pinned again.

I should mention, that in recounting these details later in the day, it was at this point in the story that I was informed she was likely covered in copious amounts of cum. So there she was – pressing against my back, the pair of us forming some kind of salty shortbread cream biscuit. Yuck!

It’s on precisely this kind of occasion (perhaps I’m wrong – I haven’t had many more), that you adopt a certain kind of scepticism towards the eagerness of women, despite what they may say or initiate of their own accord, to do kinky things with your sperm; pearl necklaces, jizzing across the small of the back, swallowing, etc. I feel as if my experience involved some degree of unconscious retribution.

Please feel free to shudder – your sympathy will make me feel less lonely.

There I was, wondering what it would look like to be found in this position, at this stage my desire for essay writing having shriveled to resemble the level of interest displayed by the average, sub-zero, ninety-year-old penis. I had to escape.

About another hour was spent, wiggling, re-positioning, and lifting myself away from my unwanted bed-partner. This may seem an inordinate amount of time to spend on such a task, but one has to consider the constraints upon one’s stealth presented by empty spirit bottles, atop Ikea bookshelves, atop flexible floorboards.

The last few inches was the easiest, my visitor turning over to roll me out in a single, fluid motion, my hands and feet landing on the small gap between bed and bookshelf. Slowly I crawled towards the lounge room door, grabbing my pants and wallet on the way – I was free!

After quickly pulling on my strides and popping on shoes, I made my way to my mate’s bedroom and quietly knocked on the door.

“Whaaa..t?”

Squeezing my head and shoulders into the room, I told him he was missing something. His eyebrows furrowed, in a substitute shrug, so I pointed at the other side of his bed, where, lifting his bed-sheets, he would discover a certain absence before rolling his eyes and crashing his head back down in frustration.

At last, a course of action would be decided upon; my friend would go back to sleep, while I went out to get some early breakfast before sneaking back in to crash on the lounge. He’d take care of any awkwardness should it arise.

All in all, the rest of the morning didn’t pan out too awkwardly, although I’m not entirely sure Miss Naked remembered who she’d fucked that night. I didn’t get a word of my essay down.

Still, it all could have gone a lot worse, escalating beyond all buggery with recriminations all round. I’ll settle for my losses and call it a cautionary tale.

~ Bruce

2012 – Year of the invisible wall…

I’m not inclined towards reviews of years past, and much less towards annual resolutions. However, 2012 was quite a different year for me, and not that I run on some kind of psychic clock tuned in to the changing of the calendar, I do, coincidentally, happen to be undergoing changes of late.

I’ll take the opportunity to undertake an annual reflection, and call it for what it is; a fortuitous trope.

2012, for me, has been the year of Lexapro (escitalopram).

It’s been the year of shuffling off the frustrations of having to deal with the passive-aggressive in-fighting, kook-apologist, racist-in-denial, bullshitting Buckland family, once and for all.

2012, has been the year of engineering my psychological climate. Out with the counter-productively agitating, the infuriating, the self-pitying, the intrusive and the mendacious.

It all seemed a little radical to me before – burning so many bridges at once, even though I’d done it before. But before, it was for ego and for show, whereas now it’s been practically motivated and unceremonious.

And I have no regrets.

I don’t say that to boast. It’s just I expected I’d have regrets, that I’d consider myself to some extent, mistaken. Yet upon calm reflection, I don’t. I’m surprised.

I have no intention of re-building bridges, and I won’t have such projects foisted upon me either. If bridges are to be rebuilt, between myself and them, it’ll require changes, my unpressured consent, and no effort on my part in the rebuilding.

If there hadn’t been ‘developments’ on this front – sly attempts to garner my attention and exploit second thoughts I haven’t had – I’m not sure I’d even mention these broken relationships.

For me, life is expanding into new areas…

New areas, with new rewards, new sensations and new problems…

I was warned by Michelle that antidepressants could hinder one’s writing, and I now take that as gospel. Or as close to gospel as an atheist can manage, and possibly for different reasons.

My writing hit a wall in 2012. An invisible wall, at least; I didn’t feel any resistance as with other frustrations, but certainly, I slowed down.

It’s taken a while for me to work out what’s been happening. The invisible wall is something I’ve been considering until now, as an opposing force to be overcome. This is how all of my frustrations have been in the past; opponents.

What I’ve come to realise is this invisible wall, it’s really just nothing. Simply, I just don’t have personal frustration and fire as a motivation the way I used to, and it’s taking time for newer faculties to compensate. I’m on new terrain, and I’m not practiced in traversing it.

But things now seem to be speeding up…

I’ve been withdrawn in the past, which I’ve had to learn in the past for safety’s sake. This long since having become pathological.

I’m still not able to comfortably socialise with certain types – narcissists, passive-aggressives, anti-social bigots, and the like, and I don’t care if I don’t ever learn to. But it’s been easier to be outgoing with people of good faith. Much easier – I’m not nearly as worn out by people, without certain types in my life, leaving energy to spend on the good ones.

The surprise though,  is in just how much I’ve neglected participation in healthy interaction, and how I’m yet to appreciate the niceties of how to go about it. No, nothing in general, philosophically, or civically has changed – the difference is all in the fine-tuning.

Unlike a lot of my past navel-gazing on how we should all get along, a lot of my newer, more refined sensibilities (if that’s what the are), are the product of doing – just getting out there and living with good people. This has been made easier through the expansion of my emotional palette, as afforded by my medication.

I’ve got all the same extremes of hue and saturation, it’s just the ranges between have been fleshed out in a more comprehensive gradient. The result has been to find new ways to like or dislike, or to enjoy or to be put off. So it is as well, with the strength of my reaction to any given stimuli – it’s easier now to just roll my eyes, or to select from anything else in the spectrum between apathy and absolute intensity.

Transitioning this to articulation in writing has been, and continues to be, quite a task, especially since for the most of the year, I didn’t understand how this was actually happening.

I’m expecting, if my reflections are accurate, that soon my writing output will begin to increase, and my prose will stabilise into some representation of my current, ‘truest’ self. Progress will continue to be made after this stage, but then for any writer, when isn’t that the case?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of my culture shock, consider my depression of the last year. I went to the doctor in January, on account of feeling quite good – a high which put the previous twenty years into depressing perspective. Despite this high, I still improved on medication, and in fact still made better progress, according to my doctor, than most people with the same diagnosis.

It’s a lot of mental ground to cover in a short time, and has resulted in my residing an unprecedented distance from the black dog. I’m new here, but I’m learning.

My point in this matter of culture shock is, I should soon be stable enough to write my way though a project the size of a book without the beginning and end chapters appearing to be authored by different people.

This rapid change coincides with my expansion into the ‘scene’ – the local underbelly of hobbyist, aspiring and established authors. In a possibly mixed manner, I’m finding new people to like, and I expect I’ll be finding new people to dislike – perhaps some of the precious types. I’ve still got no time for the same old shit.

Further, I’m beginning to intuit, more than ever before, what it is that goes into a good friend. I’ve expanded on a few friendships in Melbourne this year, with those who previously I only knew online. I feel strangely as if they’re old friends – Fin, Em, and company. Some, in a sense are; I recently met in-person, in Melbourne, ‘Notallright’, who I first ran into on the blogosphere in late 2005.

It’s not all about thinking the same way (there are differences, although the similarities do help),  the point is one of good faith; people that for some reason, perhaps the way that they reason, you know you can trust.

I’m realising I’m drawing strength from these good friends, both new and old, in ways I never recognised before. I’ve never had a muse, but I’m starting to understand the concept, rather than know it in a purely abstract manner.

With this comes a new sense of gratitude – even though your friends, you’re real friends, may have had hard years of late, they’ve still helped you just by being who they are. No special tasks required.

So I’d like to thank my friends, old and new, online and off, just for continuing to be who they are. It may not seem like much, but the consequences matter, and who’s had an easy life just being themselves of late?

Again, my gratitude!

Now it’s time for me to cut down on the introspection, look back outward at the world, and press on through the invisible wall. Happy 2013!

~ Bruce

…assuming the mantle.

I didn’t get it, and I haven’t got it for most of the time. I’m only just getting it – the faux-masculine shibboleths that I’m expected to observe, in order to be ‘one of the guys’.

Especially the degradation of women as rite of passage.

Don’t get me wrong…

I’m nobody’s knight in shining armour (I think this will be the last time I repeat this for some time), and I don’t believe in chivalry towards women – chivalry, as opposed to decency, assumes that women are frail objects to be protected like delicate porcelain in a world they’re not equipped to deal with. Women are no such thing.

I’ve got an interest in this. If pseudo, and actual misogyny, are used as defining criteria for what it is to be masculine, then I consider that an imposture. I don’t want that group identity lumped on me, and moreover, I’m willing, if imposed upon, to fight for my stake in masculine culture to the exclusion of other men.

Gentlemen, if you’re going to make an asshole out of yourself in the first instance, I’m not going to take much notice when you make squeals of indignation, when you get a little comeuppance. That is unless, I find it justifiable, useful, and entertaining, to laugh at you.

Seriously though, some men really shit me. The things that some of you expect me to take on board as normal, or healthy, or unappealing-but-otherwise-not-rebarbative.

[Trigger warning: There isn’t anything explicit beyond this point, but the subject matter is rather dark, delving into the dank, unsanitary world of misogyny, as it does].

***

Continue reading “…assuming the mantle.”

Releasing The Beast…

I’m neither a hateful, nor an angry person (so say I), yet I’m coming to the conclusion that a good part of my engine, as a writer, has been designed to be fuelled by anger. Hate, naturally produces an abundance of anger (along with other by-products), yet around fifteen years ago, while still not hateful, I certainly had a super-abundance of anger.

What a word count I was capable of then. Mind you, most of it was shit, utter and complete. Indeed, a lot of it was insane. Alien.

But I ran out of bona fide anger a long time ago, and for years, certainly longer than I’ve been blogging, I’ve been having to work myself into a state – partially  in character as my earlier self –  just to fuel my writing.

Ultimately, I don’t think this worked. While in some sense I tried to cultivate this in my old Devils’ Advocate on Steroids (DAoS) posts, I consider these to be poorly-written failures. The faux-‘anger’, conspired to confuse the reader as to my intent, even when explicitly stated, and the effort involved in stoking the fires entailed a certain derailing of my ability to concentrate.

Further, it’s just stopped working. I find it much harder to adopt an angry stance now, and certainly not for the amount of time required to churn out a piece of work. Even on those occasions when I do get angry, I just can’t stay angry for long enough.

I make this all sound quite calculated. While there was some decision making in this direction, it’s more the case that this state of affairs was systematically perpetuated without effort or consideration. I’d go as far as saying it was a self-perpetuated cycle of literary self-harm; an implicit auto-bibliographical self-mutilation.

I comment now with the benefit of hindsight and anti-depressants.

On occasion though, lately, some things have come quickly and with lucidity. And importantly, with outrage.

I’ve still got outrage to run on. The downside of this, though, is that while I’ve got a lot of it, it doesn’t mix easily with sarcasm or any other form of wit I’m fond of. Outrage is so incredibly serious.

The trick is to get the right mix, and to get the words down in a timely fashion.

This is probably a good part of why I came to love the work of Christopher Hitchens, disagreements with many of his arguments not withstanding. Hitchens could juggle white-hot condemnation, with subtle-wit, at a frightening pace, while rarely misjudging a throw.

Sadly, literarily speaking, I’m no Christopher Hitchens, and my outrage at intellectual dishonesty, social injustices, self-centred, short-sighted apathy and more, waits to be properly unlocked. It’s more than just a little frustrating.

I suspect the key will have something to do with talking down to malicious fools in positions of relative power, all while making a point, and not getting too pretentious about it. Knowing this, and fully understanding it, though, are two different things, and I lack the latter faculty.

The chains are getting looser though, and my Inner Beast is hungry.

~ Bruce

Medicated #003

Yaaaaaaawwn…

I’m just a little weak at the moment. While I’m happy to report that last night saw the first night of sleep for a number of nights that could be called normal and healthy, the insomnia has taken a bit of a toll.

I’ll be recovering for a couple of days, I’d imagine.

It’s just a little odd for me, really. I’m more motivated that I’ve been in ages, and right throughout the day, but the body just isn’t willing to keep up. Usually it’s the drive that flags first.

That being said, I’m actually more on top of a lot of things than I usually am. In addition to the usual humdrum, I’ve got more ironing and whatnot done. My home is tidier than usual.

I’ve even got around to moving the furniture into a new configuration around the house – almost the way I want things to be in a writing environment.

When I’m not tired, it can feel a little like having a clear, burning sun, the perfect magnifying glass, but not knowing what to burn. I’ve got the energy and the focus, I’m just not accustomed to having it like this.

Readers read at their own risk – management takes no responsibility for accidental cauterization. Actually no, there’s no risk of that. I’m tired right now.

I’m getting no reading done, of course. Oh, my mind is alert, but if I sit down in a cosy spot to read I’ll start to nod off even as my thoughts race. I have to keep on my feet if I want to keep moving, and that of course, exhausts me even further. And reading and writing aren’t things that really get done in any of this.

Even after the issue of sleep is resolved, I suspect there will be a certain amount of decrepitude, physically speaking, to deal with. Gym will help with this, but I’m still not sure yet how large the gulf is between my ambitions and my physical capacity to deliver.

A whole new phase of rehabilitation is unfurling in front of me.

For now, I’m just going to try to get some sleep.

~ Bruce

Medicated #002

Worpwoggletreefish… teeeeee hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!

You were expecting something like that? No? Good!

A few days ago I managed the first night of unbroken, eight hour sleep, in a long time. Now however, as I’ve reached the maximum dose of my medication, insomnia has returned. I expect it to abate again, eventually, as it’s done in every graduation.

Then that should be it for insomnia; no more increments in dosage pending, I should level out, side-effects-wise.

It’s the lack of sleep that’s kept me away from writing, if nothing else. I gave myself time for eight hours last night, but could only manage five, again for the second night in a row.

At any rate, there’s been some speculation through the backchannels, some inquiry into wellbeing, on account of my being a little quiet online and whatnot. No, I’m not dead, nor has the Flying Spaghetti Monster revealed His noodly appendage to me.

I’m still doing fine. There’s no doomsday in sight. You may recall that I entered into this at an unprecedented elevation of mood.

None of the scarier side effects have occurred; suicidal thoughts (I’ve never had those in my life); heart palpitations; spasms; nausea.

I’m just a little tired is all. You can all relax. Maybe I’ll sleep better knowing you’re chilled out.

If and when the upside of getting my sleep back coincides with better motivation, over the next couple of weeks before the benefits plateau, I’m contemplating having a little toy around with Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled. (Yes, I thought ‘oh dear!’, in Fry’s voice when I read the title).

Perhaps I’ll churn out a poem or two in an altered frame of mind.

Until then, poo-tee-weet?

~ Bruce

Medicated #001

It’s been a few days since the last post on the topic of my chronic, depressive state and its medication. A few things have changed since then.

My dosage has been doubled, after the doctor found my toleration of side-effects to be adequate. The side-effects that remain, or that have re-emerged with the increased dosage, are expected to wane with continued medication.

Particularly helpful though, has been that coffee has not only lost the metallic taste I’d been tasting these past few weeks, but actually tastes as wonderful as it did when I first got hooked in the 1990s. Notably, this change of taste has occurred with the same brew; same hippy milk; same Demerara sugar; same batch of free-trade Rio Coco and all in the same proportions.

Food in general has improved in taste. In fact, it’s all improved across the board, just by varying degrees – the least, at least noticeably, and the best, well, it’s been incredible.

I’d been wondering why people had been flattering me on my cooking. Meals that I’d considered drab, have managed to elicit praise over the years, and the possibility has occurred to me that in cooking for a depressive with a stunted sense of taste, while not trying to produce something overpowering, may have produced something subtly wonderful – for other people.

The judge is still out on this, mind you.

Sex hasn’t given me an afterglow since 1992, so there may be that to look forward to. In fact, the last time I had afterglow, it was in response to a leg workout in 1993. I’m looking at re-joining gym this autumn, so maybe I’ll get my giddies there as well, or perhaps just instead.

My concentration seems a little partitioned at the moment though. There are things I can read and focus on at the moment, with quite a good deal of clarity, and while I can hold an entire response in my head (to this post and some of the subsequent comments on the MTR defamation issue), point-by-point, I can’t get it out on the page in the same state. I suspect I’d disgrace myself with a word salad resembling the content of the Sokal hoax.

This post I’m writing now doesn’t involve nearly as much interconnected thought, so I can break it down into thought-sized segments without losing track. I make no promises about the proofing.

My sleep is starting to come in less fragmented blocks. Last night was the first night of sleep I’d call ‘normal’; seven hours with one brief awakening. Prior to this, my best night of sleep was broken up into four and two-hour blocks, with a two-hour break in the small hours of the morning I spent doing a few domestic chores. All the rest has been worse, but has followed a steady curve of improvement up until now.

I don’t know if it’s the medication, or the accumulating sleep deprivation I’m yet to catch up on, but I’m yawning an awful lot. This is not to say that this is unpleasant. It’s rather stress relieving actually, if at times a little inconvenient (like now).

A few random observations; stupid people seem funnier and less irritating than before; it’s becoming increasingly difficult to comprehend the logic/motivations behind my past errors of judgement; I appear to have regained a certain amount of dexterity and there’s a lot more spring in my step; I’ve become a poor judge of temperature as my tolerance seems to have increased; I’m more calm at rest, and I’m a lot more photosensitive (sunburn is now easy to achieve with only a little exposure).

With the prospect of my prose changing over this transition, I’m going to try logging my experiences for the next few weeks before reviewing the writing. I may also critique some of my earlier work in light of this changing frame of mind. It could get interesting. It may not. It may be interesting that I thought it could be interesting.

This could all be babble. At least I don’t have cotton mouth.

~ Bruce

…of black dogs…

I’ll be blunt with the confession; I have chronic depression. I’ve had it for just over twenty years now, going on twenty-two.

There have been ups-and-downs. This past half-year has seen one of the ‘ups’.

No, depression has had nothing to do with the slow blog output, or at least I don’t think so. The past half-year has seen me more lucid and emotive than I’ve been in a very long time, possibly in as long the mentioned twenty, going on twenty-two years.

Why am I mentioning this?

First of all, Rousing Departures serves as a writer’s journal, amongst other things – at least as much for my own benefit as anyone else’s. And it’s in part because of wanting to write, I’ve engaged in protracted ruminations on mood and the like.

Who do I let into the home I write in? Who do I let in my writing area? Are there people who disrupt my state of mind in a way not conducive to writing? What smells/sounds/space/…?

I’ve made a few changes. I’ve ousted a few passive-aggressives, closet racists and self-pitying misogynists, who frankly, in addition to the obvious, really rub me too far up the wrong way to be allowed so close to home. I’ve ousted people who treat my writing space as their entitlement.

Mood was itself, a means to an ends, but now, upon reflection, it’s become more important than that (and in turn, may have more important implications for my writing than I’d imagined).

When you’re in one of the ‘downs’, you can fall into the trap of normalizing things, and just surviving your way through the turmoil. You can lose track of what exactly, it feels like to be unafflicted; convincing yourself you’ve recovered, that you’re restored, when in fact you’ve only had a moderate, partial improvement. Repeat the process, and you can rachet yourself down into a deep low, all while normalizing it.

I fell I’ve fallen into this trap a half a dozen times over the past two decades. The result has been a ‘she’s al’right’, before driving myself into the ground, again, for the nth time. Each recovery incomplete, and each subsequent downward turn starting from a reduced baseline.

It’s a bit of a family tradition on my Father’s side, downplaying medical inconvenience and just making do. Once when my father broke his jaw and had it wired up, he couldn’t wait to recover and eventually took to the wiring with a set of pliers. It was a similar story with the stitches from his vasectomy (this being prior to the use of dissolving stitches).

I’ve taken to myself with a knife before, in the interest of health, and I’m pretty sure a more recent scalpel-plus-sandpaper therapy wouldn’t be covered by Medicare, either.

Having had an unprecedented ‘up’, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to confess I’ve been in progressive phases of denial. Aside from being in a more able mood for confession, it’s a lot like having climbed the side of a steep hill, enabling a view of the topology of my previous mental state.

(The litmus test for reaching these new heights has been the ability to listen to Amy Winehouse, and Dave Brubeck, and feel something. This music couldn’t have resonated with me in say, 2007.)

This isn’t the first time I’ve made any such confession, of course. The difference this time is in the scope. Back in the day, I admitted I had temporary problems associated with unpleasant events – fights, bogan torture, blows to the head, stress, workplace poisoning, etc. All these seemed to correlate with my melancholy (but which caused which, or what caused either or both?)

First I was put on tricyclics, which lasted about three weeks. (Medication this antiquated may give you an idea of the historical length of both my awareness and denial).

Then I was put on an early SSRI. This provided little-to-no benefit, while bringing a lot of side-effects into the mix. It didn’t last, and it has to be said that the projectile vomiting while discontinuing, wasn’t a high-point.

That was then, and we’re here in the now.

When I get in a rut, it’s not like what a lot of people think about depression. It’s not so much that I get sad, it’s more that I become listless, numb and have difficulty concentrating. Not that I’ve ever self-mutilated in this state, I also tend to be overly tolerant of pain and physical damage (I have permanent damage to connective tissue in my right foot, thanks largely to this undue tolerance).

It’s the ability to concentrate that I value the most out of all of this. While I may have long since lost the ability to fall in love, I’ve still had experiences of high mental clarity recent enough to be well remembered and hence desired. Or at least, I still remember enough of these moments to want something like them.

If you’ve been reading my writing for any number of years, you may be familiar with the typographical results of my late night coffee-binges. Lack of sleep and caffeine certainly enters into it, but it’s never been a sufficient explanation for all the malapropisms, or the occasional failures of logic.

It seems I may have normalised the fuzz in my skull just a little too much, for just a little too long.

There have been newer SSRIs released since I was last prescribed, with at least a couple of graduations of improvement. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been prescribed and SSRI released in recent years, and it’s already showing noticeable signs of working. Indeed, this early on, it’s already performing better than what months of what I was prescribed in the 1990s achieved.

This improvement, during a seemingly unprecedented ‘up’.

The results are thus far mixed, being early days. I’m waiting for things to plateau and smooth out. My sleep has been disrupted, and I’m only just starting to show signs of being able to catch up. I’m a little tired writing this right now.

However, in the mornings, I’m no longer groggy at all, and my motivation doesn’t seem to flag as the day goes on. And then there have been moments when my mind feels like a steel fucking trap. Or rather, the love child of a steel fucking trap and a fucking titanium scalpel.

I’m less easily distracted, yet without becoming obsessive. I can feel more than I could a few weeks ago, emotionally and physically, and it’s not too unpleasant.

I can feel the cold on my skin in a way I haven’t been able to in ages. I can feel the chill from a carafe of water an inch away from the back of my forearm. I can feel the breeze on my perspiration, and I can feel the salt water well-up in my eyes when I yawn.

At most, this kind of thing has been information, rather than experience, yet experience I seem to vaguely remember somehow.

The unfolding of these new sensations and feelings don’t, however, stop me from focusing on whatever problem I’m mulling over. I just acknowledge the stimulus out of the corner of my eye, with a smile, while continuing with what I’m doing – it’s no juggling act.

At least, this is when I’m not too tired.

Again, I still have sleep to catch up on, and I’m told things will continue to improve for another three to four weeks before levelling out (all I was looking for was something to ameliorate the next ‘down’ in advance). I’m not sure where I’ll be with any of this in a month, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I won’t revise my judgements on my track record by then. I’m heading up a very steep hill, seemingly very rapidly, so who knows what things will look like from up top?

(If there is a side-effect, and I’m not sure it’s a side-effect, that I want to get over, it’s the change in either my taste in coffee, or in my ability to make it. Every damn coffee these past two weeks has tasted horrible. Maybe I’ll have to revert to Blue Mountain, or Turkish coffee.)

For the sake of consistency, all long-term writing projects are being put on hold as I try to find and organise my writing space anew. I guess in this respect, I am experiencing disruption, although of a secondary nature, and ultimately as a productive process.

I’m not too fussed about the ‘suffer for your art’ nonsense. I’ve never believed it. It’s always seemed to me that suffering’s relationship with creativity is as a side-effect of being sensitive about gaps in the world; gaps that the creative seek to fill in the first instance, irrespective of any suffering. My ‘suffering’, if reflection serves, has at any rate only ever hindered my creativity.

Perhaps if I was going to be made insensitive, to be anesthetized, then I’d worry. But as I’m feeling things more, rather than less, this isn’t the concern. The trick, I think, will be in not forgetting my past with The Black Dog, and thus taking my newfound clarity for granted.

We’ll have to see if and how this alters my prose and argument as things run their course.

~ Bruce

The Benny Hill Imperative

My father used to love Benny Hill, going as far as calling the man a genius (unlike more modern comedians, naturally). This, much to my dismay.

More to my dismay though, more than even my father’s emulations (which were even more ‘blue’ than Hill), was that this in some respect rubbed off on me, either through enculturation (this quite possibly being the most oxymoronic use of the term ever), or through the passing on of a genetic tendency. No, I don’t run through the parklands in fast-motion chasing scantily-clad women, nor did my father.

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