Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
Or is it goats? Worry not, this isn’t a depressing post! I’m actually feeling very well. But this is a haphazard post which basically goes nowhere, so be warned.
I’ve been reading. And reading and reading, and reading. Of the mind, of art, of the mind, of art. The story of the Jesuit artists who ended up painting in the Chinese court in the 18th century is amazing. The horse above is by one of them. I also have a sudden interest in early pewter-ware. Pewter was so important historically, part of so many apsects of daily life in the past – and is now barely part of our consciousness.
I’ve reached the middle of Dr. Gabor Maté’s Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I love it. I’ve been negotiating what he says with how society works, and how we’re taught to see the world. Juxtaposing what he says with Ruth Benedict’s interpretation of the Guilt, Shame, Fear spectrums that organise different cultures. The thing is, when we take one step back, the spinal cord of those systems is essentially blame. The assignation of responsibility. Blame is a great tool for simplification. It’s easy and accessible. Dr. Maté essentially proposes a completely different way of assigning responsibility. It makes you wonder how fair (or unfair) we are in judging people. Including, and perhaps most of all, how we judge ourselves (I’m speaking for me).
After Sarah Porter died last year, I decided I needed to get my head in order. To find some way of not being – well, my first therapist once asked me to describe what it felt like to be me. I told her to imagine a very big truck, like an 18 wheeler, going down a narrow winding mountain road – with no brakes. That’s what it feels like to be in my head. All the time. Ever since I can remember. It’s exhausting.
It’s mostly analysis. Information goes on to grids. Positive, negative, neutral – subsections for safe, danger – repeat/avoid – review, improve. Huge focus on editing, as in how to improve. Correct all past behaviour. Again and again and again. Examine possible and plausible outcomes. Shampoo, massage, rinse, repeat.
I’m trying to make this stop – hence the reading. Going over old CBT notes, and some great texts by Richard Carlson (which seem incredibly simplistic but actually make a lot of sense). What he proposes is essentially CBT at home and by one’s self.
It’s been cold, but by the fire in the Zuber room it’s quite nice. We’ve watched all the Oscar movies, liked some, loved none.
In the realm of hungry hunger – I recently tried my hand at pumpkin kibbeh. Sublime!
And I leave you with Gabor Maté: