October 16th and 18th

Now Reading — I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me, by Jerold J. Kleiman & Hal Straus

BPD is the only medical diagnosis partially defined by self-injuring behavior. Self-mutilation—except when clearly associated with psychosis—is a hallmark of BPD. This behavior may take the form of self-inflicted wounds to the genitals, limbs, or torso. For these borderline patients, the body becomes a road map highlighted with a lifetime tour of self-inflicted scars.

The self-inflicted pain may reflect the need to feel, to escape an encapsulating numbness.

Ideological-prejudiced energy foolishness

The world will regret not having gone nuclear and still not being willing to.

At least they found it

Hate crimes is the leftist equivalent to the rightist defense of morality and tradition. Both are a powerful instrument to squash dissent and personal freedom. Kudos to the new left for having come up with such terrific construct —your average totalitarian’s dream made true.

It makes sense

‘En Mallorca, robar un coche no sale a cuenta; otra cosa es que me digas Madrid o Barcelona”.

[Overheard at that particular café in Son Castelló where disreputable-looking people peacefully gather around street tables with upholstered chairs while having some hot beverage or another].

Now Reading — Why We Are Restless, by Benjamin and Jenna Silber Storey

As Blaise Pascal pointed out long ago, even the fortunate can be unhappy. And their unhappiness can be particularly persistent, for when people seem to have solid reasons for feeling better than they do, they often believe themselves obliged to let their unhappiness go unexamined.

Prayers

This dinner prayer I found it online, liked it and adapted it a little, resulting in this:

For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where the loved ones live,
We give you, O Lord, our thanks for these.
In a world where so many are hungry,
May we eat this food with humble hearts. Amen.

Somehow, though, I keep on stumbling at it when I say it out loud. So, I decided to make a Spanish version, which would go like this:

Por esta comida que nos quita el hambre,
por el descanso que nos proporciona este momento,
por la presencia en la mesa de nuestros seres queridos,
te damos las gracias, Señor, humildemente. Amén.

The problem is, not having a religious family or friends, I only say this prayer when I eat alone. So, a further adaptation is:

Por esta comida que me quita el hambre,
por el descanso que me proporciona este momento,
por la gracia de querer y ser querido,
te doy las gracias, Señor, humildemente. Amén.

Speaking of prayers, don’t forget the one you learnt from Yentl, the film:

Hear me, Oh Lord, master of the Universe, thou hast given me a son, who brings me great pride, and pleasure. And for this kindness, I thank thee forever and ever.

And the oldest, not yet surpassed in meaning, conciseness, essence, and compromise. Read it fresh:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil. Amen.
Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, 
santificado sea tu nombre;
venga a nosotros tu reino;
hágase tu voluntad 
así en la tierra como en el cielo.
El pan nuestro de cada día dánosle hoy;
perdónanos nuestras deudas,
así como nosotros perdonamos a nuestros deudores;
no nos dejes caer en la tentación,
y líbranos del mal. Amén.  

Enjoy the aftertaste

There’s a film that’s not bad, Dragged Across Concrete (2018) – IMDb —and Mel Gibson is outstanding in his role. Two cops are mounting guard in their car. One of them (Vince Vaughn) is taking ages at finishing his meal, but when the other one (Mel Gibson) gets (understandably) mad at him for doing so, he says that’s the right way of eating —you’re ruining it if you take your next morsel before the aftertaste for the previous one is gone.

I’m guilty of that. M. told me once I walk so fast through the countryside that I can’t and don’t enjoy the scenery, and he’s right. The same with food —I tend to gulp it down, without concern for the aftertaste. That’s a mistake I’ll intend to mend.

[Spoiler next]

Good play of some version of the prisoner’s dilemma —if he (Gibson) had only taken Tory Kittles’ word for what was worth and shaken hands with him instead of putting a gun on his temple…

12th and 13th

Oct 12, 2021

Phone calls

Called M. from the top of the Mirador de Ses Barques, but he didn’t answer the phone. Why should I do such an unusual thing, a thing so un-me, as to videocall him? Well, he phoned yesterday in his usual style —I call, you do the talking, I show absolute no excitement for anything. When I told him that wasn’t the way to call, he said, Well, you don’t ever call me, do you? And that’s true. So I decided to start calling him, the right way —with something good and lively to tell, briefly, and not at some usual time or another, so he a) can get some satisfaction, hopefully, and b) learn by example and imitation to make good phone calls. But he didn’t answer the phone, so I guess all it’s been to no avail.

Field trip to Mirador de Ses Barques

I took a carrot with me and eat it —and the humble, low-caloric piece made its work very well and let me get back my previously wasted energy. Carrots have gained their way to my food pyramid.

Really nice paths there.

Watched Take Shelter (2011) – IMDb

Directed by Jeff Nichols. Schizophrenia —interesting and terrifying. Curious how another (better) film, All the Bright Places (2020) – IMDb, dealing in the maniac-depressive illness, got me interested in psychiatric disorders, so I read An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison. That led to the one I’m reading right now, I Hate You —Don’t Leave Me, by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus, about the BDI (Borderline Personality Disorder).

Aromatherapy

Alan Watts has it right —smell is the most neglected sense, notwithstanding the fact that its effects are powerful, not the least reason of it because they tend to be unconscious. So I thought that you could try some kind of Pavlovian classical conditioning, by way of associating a particular smell to a state of wellbeing, and then use the smell to provoke the good feeling. I think it particularly useful when applied at home with small children —a pity I didn’t think of it when bringing up M. Anyway, I’m interested now so I’ll look into it —better late than never.

Oct 13, 2021

An occurrence

Si estás un poco mal, estás mejor que si estás muy bien.

Driving notes

I learnt two things through M.’s studying the circulation code in order to get his license. First, that you have a whole two minutes to park the car before you’re sent off, with no limit in the number of maneuvers you can do. Should had I known it earlier, I’d had spared myself a lot of trouble. Now, when I have one of those days when you simply aren’t inspired enough to insert the car inline when the distance allowed is less than half a meter longer than the length of your car, and you’re blocking their way to other cars, I can easily get out and explain to the nice driver behind that I think I’ll make ample use of my two minutes’ time and my limitless number of maneuvers, thank you.

Second, the rearview mirror located at the right isn’t compulsory. Since I learnt that, I’ve been having less and less use of that particular gadget. I’ve adjusted my central rearwiew mirror to point rightwards, so that I have that side covered. Of course, you lose depth in your straight rear vision, but it’s not really important to notice cars far away behind. This new disposition, I find it helps me not to get my eyes off the road ahead. And then I can use the right rearview for what it’s really worth —to help you park your car inline on the spot in time and form.

My new wristwatch

I’ve got a new wristwatch. Not beautiful like my previous one was, but very nice indeed, blue-faced with no printed numbers, with little marks signaling the minutes and big marks at the multiples of five, its sphere encased in a metallic bezel and held by an equally metallic chain. Too heavy (100 g), of course, and cheaply made —someday I’ll have a wristwatch in which the seconds hand will always, always lie exactly upon its mark (not half a millimeter before or after) for a second, before going to the next one and lying exactly upon its mark; I promise.

La razón para meditar

Escribe Alan Watts:

El arte de la meditación es una manera de ponerse en contacto con la realidad. Y la razón para meditar es que la mayoría de las personas civilizadas han perdido el contacto con la realidad. Confunden el mundo tal como es con el mundo tal como ellos lo piensan, tal como hablan de él y lo describen. Porque por una parte está el mundo real y por otra hay todo un sistema de símbolos —referentes a ese mundo— que llevamos en nuestra mente. Son símbolos muy, muy útiles; toda la civilización depende de ellos. Pero, como todas las cosas buenas, tienen sus desventajas, y la principal desventaja de los símbolos es que los confundimos con la realidad, de la misma manera que confundimos el dinero con la auténtica riqueza y nuestro nombre, la idea y la imagen que tenemos de nosotros mismos, con nosotros.

Nueve meditaciones.

El verdadero problema surge cuando no solo confundo el mundo con mi descripción del mismo, sino también con mi prescripción del mismo, y tengo poder para imponer tal prescripción; entonces no solo me pierdo yo mismo, sino que llevo a los otros a la perdición —me he convertido en un autoritario iluminado (o iluminada).

Born to be awful

It’s a nice creature, if you’re able to overcome your ancestral fear and prejudice when you look at it. It comes occasionally at dusk to feed on the fruits of one of the trees at the backyard in the house by the sea. It can well well spend an hour there if left undisturbed, going easily and silently from branch to branch, leaning back on its hind legs to raise its slender body up to reach for those little, no doubt delicious little fruits. Should it have a fluffy tail instead of a shorn, long, cartilaginous one, it’d be a squirrel, and I’d be inviting my friends over just for us to enjoy the show.

It’s not squirrel, of course, though. As you’ll surely have figured it out by now, it’s a rat. The least thing I’d do is to tell any of my friends, or they’d start making excuses not to come at all for supper. I’ve already cut off the branches I suspect it used to take advantage of to make its way to the tree. J. loudly and vehemently scared it off the other day, and we’ve seen no sign of it again since yet.

You can’t.

‘Til the madness around is gone

I’ve declared a moratorium on current Hollywood films and on TV series from Netflix et al. Don’t get me wrong: I actually love being educated on pluralism, lgtbism, feminism, intersectionalism; I enjoy being shown how bad, aggressive, sexually predators white men are; I love watching male buttocks and what not, and wouldn’t dare want to see a bit of female flesh with filthy, lusty eyes; I can’t but applauding when the Asian character, the lesbians lovers, the African-American gay couple, the husband humbly backing up and sacrificing all to his empowered and outwardly Ennui woman’s career, show up. They invariable do, as of course they should.

But I…, I know I shouldn’t but… —I get bored. I’m ashamed of myself and I’m sorry and I say so. It’s a bit like the Catholic mass of my youth —necessary, rightly compulsory, predictable, and reassuring —but what a bore! I apologize and promise to reform and like the shows and internalize the truth and re-socialize myself in the right way. In the meantime, though,

Episode 6 of season 1 of Upstairs, Downstairs, A Cry for Help, stands out in the series. Written by Julian Bond, the lines spoken to Lord Bellamy by his solicitor showing him how he would serve himself and his family better by way of retracting his rape accusations against a fellow nobleman and by dropping the defense of his pregnant young maid are devastatingly brilliant. And directed by Derek Bennett, what could have been another common story to cater to the audience turns into a bitter yet way more satisfying one, in which upstairs is beaten, both in knowledge of the ways the world goes round and in generosity and goodwill, by downstairs.

Likewise, episode 15 of season 1 of M*A*S*H, Tuttle, is a joy to watch. Also masterfully written and directed, you could say it’s a novel take in the classic, for a reason, The Emperor’s New Clothes‘ tale. Hawkeye and Trapper make up an entirely fictitious Captain Tuttle, who nonetheless ends up being buried with honors, with the whole platoon claiming his friendship or acquaintance.

What is like to be depressed

I reaped a bitter harvest from my own refusal to take lithium on a consistent basis. A floridly psychotic mania was followed, inevitably, by a long and lacerating, black, suicidal depression; it lasted more than a year and a half. From the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night, I was unbearably miserable and seemingly incapable of any kind of joy or enthusiasm. Everything—every thought, word, movement—was an effort. Everything that once was sparkling now was flat. I seemed to myself to be dull, boring, inadequate, thick brained, unlit, unresponsive, chill skinned, bloodless, and sparrow drab. I doubted, completely, my ability to do anything well. It seemed as though my mind had slowed down and burned out to the point of being virtually useless. The wretched, convoluted, and pathetically confused mass of gray worked only well enough to torment me with a dreary litany of my inadequacies and shortcomings in character, and to taunt me with the total, the desperate, hopelessness of it all. What is the point in going on like this? I would ask myself. Others would say to me, “It is only temporary, it will pass, you will get over it,” but of course they had no idea how I felt, although they were certain that they did. Over and over and over I would say to myself, If I can’t feel, if I can’t move, if I can’t think, and I can’t care, then what conceivable point is there in living?

The morbidity of my mind was astonishing: Death and its kin were constant companions. I saw Death everywhere, and I saw winding sheets and toe tags and body bags in my mind’s eye. Everything was a reminder that everything ended at the charnel house. My memory always took the black line of the mind’s underground system; thoughts would go from one tormented moment of my past to the next. Each stop along the way was worse than the preceding one. And, always, everything was an effort. Washing my hair took hours to do, and it drained me for hours afterward; filling the ice-cube tray was beyond my capacity, and I occasionally slept in the same clothes I had worn during the day because I was too exhausted to undress.

During this time I was seeing my psychiatrist two or three times a week and, finally, again taking lithium on a regular basis. His notes, in addition to keeping track of the medications I was taking—I had briefly taken antidepressants, for example, but they had only made me more dangerously agitated—also recorded the unrelenting, day-in and day-out, week-in and week-out, despair, hopelessness, and shame that the depression was causing: “Patient intermittently suicidal. Wishes to jump from the top of hospital stairwell”; “Patient continues to be a significant suicide risk. Hospitalization is totally unacceptable to her and in my view she cannot be held under LPS [the California commitment law]”; “Despairs for the future; fears recurrence and fears having to deal with the fact that she has felt what she has felt”; “Patient feels very embarrassed about feelings she has and takes attitude that regardless of the course of her depression she ‘won’t put up with it’ ”; “Patient reluctant to be with people when depressed because she feels her depression is such an intolerable burden on others”; “Afraid to leave my office. Hasn’t slept in days. Desperate.” At this point there was a brief lull in my depression, only to be followed by its seemingly inevitable, dreadful return: “Patient feels as if she has cracked. Hopeless that depressed feelings have returned.”

At the time, nothing seemed to be working, despite excellent medical care, and I simply wanted to die and be done with it. I resolved to kill myself. I was cold-bloodedly determined not to give any indication of my plans or the state of my mind; I was successful. The only note made by my psychiatrist on the day before I attempted suicide was: “Severely depressed. Very quiet”.

An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison.

What I’ve been watching

J’accuse (2019), by Roman Polanski. Polanski takes the focus away from Dreyfus and puts the light on the army officer who started to unravel the plot; it’s a dull officer conducting a dull investigation presented in a dull way, but I think the director does this on purpose, as a way to highlight, against this background of dullness, the core of the matter —the evil of injustice and the importance of honor. Score: 7.

Inside Man (2006), by Spike Lee. Nothing of value here —a pastiche not very competently made. It’s the kind of film I dislike to see —not too bad to drop but not good enough to watch, so you end up wasting your time. Available on Amazon Prime Video. Score: 5.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939), by Howard Hawks. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you know I like films who depict masculinity well, virtues and vices of it all along —and this film does exactly so, in section coping with grief. Plus: a good story perfectly told and played. Plus: Rita Hayworth, of course. Plus: a final sequence that surprises you and give full meaning to the film. Score: 9.

Fitzcarraldo (1982), by Werner Herzog. Sorry guys at the IMDB who so highly regard this film —I couldn’t finish it. Score: 4. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Walk the Line (2005), by James Mangold. Life-story of Johnny Cash as told by himself in his book Man in Black. Kudos to Joaquim Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon for his great singing of all the songs in the film (and their acting, too). The problem with this film is —Cash, as depicted here, is neither an interesting character or a likeable one; furthermore, his character isn’t well constructed —it’s somewhat incoherent. Slight spoiler next: stop here —I liked the scene when he at last kills his father, in the Freudian way of course. Watch on Prime Video. Score: 7.

An Honest Liar (2014), by Tyler Measom & Justin Weinstein. Watch on Plex for free. Documentary about the life of James ‘The Amazing’ Randi, made possible thanks to a Kickstarter funding. Randi was a believer in truth, and those are precious; he was a giant in courage, intelligence and defiance. Don’t miss the part when Randi’s magicians fool once and again the scientists who are testing them. Score: 8.

Nelyubov (Loveless, 2017), by Andrey Zvyagintsev. Very interesting film, very well made, slow-paced but never boring. It has one of the most shocking, powerful scenes I’ve ever seen, out of the blue. Beautiful cinematography, too. A terrible story, more terrible because so ordinary. Score: 9.0