Sunday, April 29, 2012

Burned Out Bad Dream Joan Didion Semi-Sadness

Sunday, April 29, 2012—Long Beach, California

Deep into my end-of-semester push. By the end of this coming week I will be done with just about everything except grading papers and tests. I’m nearing complete burn out, but now that I can see the finish line I’m getting a little burst of energy that should carry me thru. My main problem is my inability to focus on this work; it takes me forever to get anything done because my mind is relentlessly looking for any other content to fill it. Same old stuff I deal with every semester, especially in the spring. It’s worse this time, though, than I can remember it ever being. I’m not sure why exactly that is. Maybe it’s just because I’ve had to work harder this time out than usual.

Still feeling strange overall, blank. It’s not as bad as before, mainly because some of my blankness has been replaced by a strange bitterness that's begun seeping into the edges of my life. I’m not sure what this means. Perhaps it’s just the frustration of being overworked and unsure of my immediate future. A few days back I was complaining of the facile nature of my dreams. They’ve gotten more substantial lately, as well as more unpleasant. They’ve taken place in strange places. The most interesting of these was a Honolulu that wasn’t quite Honolulu, where some sort of crowded festival was going on, which was in part populated by a perplexing combination of people from my past, most importantly (in regards to the amount of time of their appearances) an old professor, who, for some reason, was entrusting me with getting him a publication deal for his latest book, and an old girlfriend, one who really hurt me, who was there just to open old wounds it seemed. This latter character really disturbed me. For years she’s appeared in my dreams as the cruelest of torturers. But over the last couple years she’s emerged as someone who plays dreamroles that aren’t entirely painful. In some dreams I’ve fully forgiven her (and myself) and feel true affection for her, true compassion for her predicament. In this dream, though, she was back to her old vicious ways (and I was back to my old defeated groveling). I have trouble seeing this as anything other than a backwards step for me, or at least a revelation concerning how far forward I’ve actually come. I really thought I’d moved past all that. When will that wound ever finally be cleaned out so it can fully heal?

A realization: My dreams lately are both wildly disorienting and constricted at the same time. I can’t imagine a worse combination. Dreams are just life turned inward are they not? Recent life turned inwards to be recombined with and filtered thru past moments, past pain and confusion. (And hope?—that must surely be in there too. Though I distrust any joy in my dreaming, out of fear that it's something I’ve developed as a defense mechanism to avoid examining that which has hurt me—paranoia or common sense or both?).

Read Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album over the last couple of weeks. She’s a good writer, original. But she’s bleak, willfully so; I can’t accept most of her conclusions. She seems to be continually hurt and strangely surprised by people’s short comings. She also seems to accept day-to-day American culture as something more than it is, as something in which deeper answers might lie, which of course means she’s always disappointed, bereaved. She never goes very deep in regards to certain very important things, into history, prehistory, ecology—the places where the real answers must lie; she tries to understand the cake by digging no deeper than the frosting. She’s also strangely elitist, in that she spends lots of time in fancy hotels ordering room service. She also seems to always be around the most boring types of rich people, Hollywood types, old-money idiots. More frosting instead of cake. Still I’m enjoying her (though I need a break from her work). There’s something worthwhile going on with her stuff, that I can’t quite yet articulate.

Too much reading. To many harsh or banal dreams. I need sunshine and sweat. I need to get the hell out of here. I need to run thru naked thru the hills for a while—for a good long while: like the rest of my life.

Listening to Sam Cooke’s Nightbeat as I finish this. It’s sounding so good, so on target.

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