Sunday, November 11, 2007

The "Doctor" Is In

Breathing Is Essential (or Is That "Existential"?)

I, being hungry like a bookish cow, was grazing the fields of the work of Doctor Frederick Perls, one of my fav psychotherapists since the beginning of the Neurotic 1950s, just randomly flipping about page to page in Perls's great tome, Gestalt Therapy, looking for self-and-others analysis tips, and the first part of this tome is a gathering of Dr. Perls's experiments in various aspects of his understanding of the basics and diagnostic clues of Gestalt Psychology--anxiety, neurotic fear, holding of breath as you experience this sudden anxious happening and the excitement that goes with the breath-taking fear of traveling on to that next ground, a foreign ground--neurotics are shallow breathers and hold their breath altogether when they are anxious, tense, stressed out, reality insecure--and one experiment Perls tries on these neurotics has to do with changing their breathing habits--learning to breathe in deeply and then exhale with a extended extrasatisfying and relaxing swoooosh out of dirty air--changing neurotic shallow breathing into deep breathing and then heavy exhaling--blowin' out the blues--like entertainers beat stage fright by doing a little breathing exercise, breathing in and out quickly as though a dog doing heavy panting--and it also helps like singers when they've got larenghitis and losing their voice--breathing in and out quickly then sucking in new air deeply and then blowing out the dirty air. I grazed right into the middle of this good grazing book and into a patch of rich, juicy, thick, and lush clover that was headed "Directed Awareness," and subheaded "Experiment 11: Changing Anxiety into Excitement," and that intrigued me and the first thing I read was, "Relief from guilt and anxiety has always been one of psychotherapy's chief ends." I hungrily read on, "Guilt (and resentment) we have discussed as a form of confluence." Whoaaa, I was trapped on that word "confluence."

Main Entry:
con·flu·ence Listen to the pronunciation of confluence Listen to the pronunciation of confluence
\ˈkän-ˌflü-ən(t)s, kən-ˈ\
15th century
1: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point confluence of weather and scenery>2 a: the flowing together of two or more streams b: the place of meeting of two streams c: the combined stream formed by conjunction

from Merriam Webster online dictionary

Perls gives a Gestalt example of "confluence"--this word sort of fits my conception of the continual present--"constant confluencing" I could say if I but dared. I think you can be assured that I'm still hung out to dry on Debbie Harry's poem "Parallel Lines" and Euclid concluding that there can never be a "confluence" of parallel lines--it's theoretically impossible and impossible to model, as in computer assimilating. Ah, how a writer can spin his deadly webs using all kinds of malleable words and sentences, like Gertrude Stein's dog Basket lapping up his water out of his water bowl and my writing according to that lapping and the "confluence" of that lapping rhythm of Basket's water-lifting tongue and my writing in the continual present tense--ahoy, mateys, I need a life raft out here in the pelagic of my own swelled head's ocean of imaginative thoughts and 5 x 4 note cards.

I'm currently trying to write a novel about Marilyn Monroe in Hell, though as Charles Bukowski wrote in his poem to Marilyn, "Marilyn M," she was once a male object of sexual desire but now she's just another coffin full of dust in some "sacred" ground somewhere in Hollywood, which to some is Hell--it's Hell to me since I've been to L.A. and Hollywood. I am not really attempting "confluence" with this post! Besides, this Gestalt shit is very complicated, based on "fields" and "figure/grounds" and broad terms like that, the fields being the Gestalts, the wholes of our life situations, including the environment and our behavioral reactions to where we are and what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Perls puts it this way, "A sensing and the object sensed, an intention and its realization, one person and another, are confluent when there is no appreciation of a boundary between them, when there is no discrimination of the points of difference or otherness that distinguish them. Without this sense of boundary--this sense of something other to be noticed, approached, manipulated, enjoyed--there can be no emergence and development of the figure/ground, hence no awareness, hence no excitement, hence no contact!"

You see, it's all about contact. Parallel lines can't connect, but with imagination you can excite them to each other, you know, break down the divisions that force these parallel lines to stay unconnected--that's the negative force in this Gestalt sense since "contact" is essential in order for a single being to survive. Socialization. OK. But you may be against socialization; maybe you consider yourself a Libertarian or an anarchist or an antiauthoritarian like me; you need contacts to be a socialist or an individualist.

I love this sort scrambled egg way of thinking. I love writing this scrambled egg way of writing. All highways lead to the Rome of my brain. All is dependent on all. All is relative to all that surrounds us and all that is where we are at any given moment. Let's say you suddenly find yourself a guest at a Hell's Angels's meeting. Let's see you bring your parallel line into a connection with the Hell's Angels's parallel line--how does one form confluences in such a diverse union? Which could lead me to marriage, but I'm not in the right Gestalt to babble about marriage and how stupid it is and how it's simply another way for governments to rip more money off its stupid citizenry. You have to have a license to get married! Why? Because that's the law. Then Fuck the law. And oh my goodness; you are isolating yourself; society will turn against you; "What are you, a fucking commie?" And that brings us to the confluence of "good" and "evil"--and confluencing is like blending.

Perls writes,"It is only where confluence is maintained as a means of preventing contact that is unhealthy." I remember Philip Wylie in his little two-ton, hard-swinging book, An Essay on Morals, talks about isolating newborn babes and letting them grow up totally instinctually, with no outside help at all, just put the babies in an isolated existence and then check on them in 20 or so years and see what has developed. As Wylie says, one might be surprised at how "civilized" such a self-raised society might be. If Jung says we all have the same instinctual compellings then surely those instincts will guide isolated infants into adulthood the same as they guide societal types into societal preservation, which is what we're all babbling about, preservation, both of the self and society.

Perls continues, "After contact has been achieved and lived through, confluence has an entirely different meaning. At the end of any successful experience--one that is not interrupted but allowed to complete itself--there is always a confluence of energy or energy-producing materials. For example, when food has been savored, chewed and swallowed, one is no longer aware of it. The contact-functions [another Gestalt term] have finished their work. Whatever novel operations were necessary to make this particular food assimilable are finished, and the further work can be handed over to the standard, automatic and unaware digestive apparatus which has phylogenetically evolved. The stored energy of the food is assimilated--literally, made similar to--what is already present in the tissues and organs of the body. It is no longer foreign, different, but has been 'naturalized.' It is now new strength added to the resources of the organism [Mr. Ed: like the immune system]. It and the organism flow together--that is, what was food and what was organism are now in confluence."

Whewwwww! What wondrous conclusioning. What wondrous writing. What wondrous configuring. Is it all a CON? CON-tact. CON-necting. CON-junctions. CON-cussions.

This sort of shit makes life worth living for me, to just suddenly sit down at the computer and start gunning out the words, shotgunning them out against the blank target of the post-page, white words on a black background, which fits my style of wolf-man life to a tee.

I am determined to get these parallel lines that Euclid deduced can never connect connected.

Like my marriage...but then I swore I was going to keep this logical and clean.

What does clean mean?

I am further delving into this "confluence" using the pondering the Gestaltists are putting me through. I love Perls's logic-- and Perls is leading us to a whole long upcoming passage on the importance of breathing, especially exhaling.

Here's some more teasing using Perls's teasing words, "Guilt is the self-punitive, vindictive attitude toward oneself when one assumes responsibility for interruption of confluence; resentment is the demand that the other person feel guilty. Both constitute a resistance to contact, awareness, and differentiation; they are clinging to the object in isolation from the rest of experience. Both pervade all neurosis." Holy Christ, I'm a neurotic and so are you!!

for The Daily Growler

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

You're hilarious. I loved the paragraph about Gertrude Stein's dog and needing a life raft in your own swelled head's ocean. I laughed out loud. Thanks.