I didn’t mean to write that many of his sentences were hard for me to understand. How could I press the send button before realizing what my words really meant? Perhaps I should interrupt my own fantasy. I know that some of my sentences are hard to understand. I also know that I often criticize myself too much. The images of me writing that sentence in an email and then pressing the send button feel more real than this sentence that I’m about to finish. Another sentence interrupts these images: I’m afraid that others will reject my sentences. Interrupt and reject seem connected somehow. It feels harsh that someone would reject my sentences. I seem to be rejecting interruptions in my mind. The image of me writing that sentence about the other person’s sentences being hard for me to understand returns, and I picture myself rewriting it: I am dreaming this sentence, which fortunately makes understanding unnecessary, for now. Interruptions and rejections are also part of this dream, or maybe I’ll discover otherwise when I wake up.
She said I could leave the room whenever my intuition suggested it. I thought I misunderstood her. Perhaps she spoke the truth. Her truth. Maybe it was also mine. We didn’t know each other. I told myself this as I sat at the desk she’d found for me, and then, while I waited for the first word of the first sentence to come to me, she used intuition in another sentence. What was happening between our minds?
Intuition brought doubt to mind. The first sentence had yet to be written. Intuitive truth could be part of it. We weren’t separate minds. A pen was in my hand when I thought: maybe I shouldn’t believe everything this woman in my imagination tells me. Perhaps she thought I would never discover that this was my room. Our truths didn’t have to be the same. The sentence wrote itself. For a long moment I felt at home in my mind, the one room I would never leave.
How do I dream a book? I must imagine that I’m reading it for the first time. In a way, I am reading Aspects of Internalization by Roy Schafer for the first time. First published in 1968, this hardcover has been on my shelves for a few months. I have not spent much time in its pages. And I haven’t imagined dreaming them. I am dreaming these sentences. I’m in our local bookstore, walking toward Psychology, and for a reason that I do not wish to think about, I’m sure I’ll find this book, published fifty years ago, on a shelf. These sentences have become easier to write. This imaginative experience feels so real that I’m unable to separate myself from it – although this doesn’t become clear to me until later on. I’m too close to images of this fifty-year-old red hardcover. When I realize that this book is nowhere on the shelves, I wake up, so to speak.
I’m surprised that I bought a book on psychoanalytic ego psychology. My intuition told me that its pages would help me understand better historically how American psychoanalysts have thought about what happens in the mind. When I first opened it and started reading the opening two paragraphs of the introduction, I was afraid I wouldn’t reach the bottom of the page. Then I pictured myself on the psychoanalytic couch speaking about psychic development, structure formation, modification of aims, and internalization, all of which are mentioned on page one of Schafer’s book. I wondered how much coffee or alcohol I would need in my system to read page two. I said to myself: have faith and keep reading. In reality, I am experiencing psychoanalysis. It is real to me. I should be able to make sense of what Schafer writes in the introduction and in chapter one.
How can I make sense of what an author writes if I can’t be spontaneous in my own mind? It’s hard enough for me to be spontaneous in my daily life, a painful realization which I became aware of recently during a session of psychoanalysis. It was as if the realization had been waiting for me. I imagine sitting up on the couch during a session, startled, unsure about what has just happened. I must be trying to digest something. The red book on internalization becomes part of my attempt to make sense of what’s happening inside of me as I write these sentences. Why do I feel the need to make sense of anything?
Schafer’s book seems to be dreaming me. I don’t speak the language of Freudian metapsychology, which in this case might be a good thing. I picture the author and I meeting in his office, which I imagine is in Manhattan. He speaks to me about this book which he published five decades ago. The book appears in my hands, as if by magic. I ask him if I could have some time with it alone. He says sure, after I wake up.
For two hours I have been unable to scream in my mind. It’s as if I’m afraid that the experience will overwhelm me. There was something missing in the last vignette I wrote. Aliveness perhaps. It belongs to the past. But whatever I was unable to experience emotionally while writing it remains within me. It’s as if deleting the post didn’t solve anything. Nothing is on my mind. Nothing is in my mind. I imagine that both statements are true at this moment. Now, in another moment, holding a book in one hand, I picture myself writing my last vignette, which I would prefer to believe no longer exists, and then, without my help, it has become this vignette, which I hope can help me discover what I had dreamed of doing in the last one. In between writing these sentences, I’ve read some pages of This Art of Psychoanalysis: Dreaming Undreamt Dreams and Interrupted Cries by Thomas Ogden. Dreaming one’s experience into existence comes to mind as I read a particular paragraph. Dreaming is what I must do with the images in my last vignette, which has become alive to me while I’ve written these sentences.
The narrator of my last vignette, which I have deleted from this blog, screams in his psychoanalyst’s office. I’m dreaming. I picture my narrator of that vignette walking to the door of his psychoanalyst’s office, saying goodbye, and leaving without closing the door behind him. He doesn’t want to close the door on possible future experiences here on the page. I realize that sometimes I feel that my narrator must be in a psychoanalyst’s office. He must be in his mind.
Language is playing with me. I wonder if this is how an emotional experience happens. My mind has become my psychoanalyst’s office. I imagine writing these sentences in my head while I lie on a couch. The couch is in my head. Perhaps I can stop trying to create scenes. Scenes will create themselves. Writing has happened.
Something seems to happen in my mind as I stand up to leave my desk, pass the bookshelves, and reach the door. Which room am I in? I’ve had many rooms in fifty-one years. Perhaps the word room is a representation of something unknown until now. It wouldn’t be the first time I have experienced my mind in this way. It is as if I were searching for some original version of this experience, right now, as I walk the few feet to the door. There’s nothing to escape from in here, is there? Escaping from myself is impossible. The word impossible has made me more anxious than I was a moment ago. Has more than a moment passed since I got up from my chair? Door as an image was alive within me seconds or minutes before my body and mind agreed that it was time for me to stand up. I’m associating rooms with narrow spaces.
A set of meanings seeks me, not a single one. Maybe I have been in this room for too long. Maybe I have been in this mind for too long. What choice do I have? Why can’t I hold on to the word change? I imagine that we meet at the door, change and I. Mind is our host. We’re guests in its home.
All of this must be a dream. Or I’m hallucinating while I’m awake. Psychological reality can be overwhelming. You’re lucky. I’m lucky? Whom am I speaking with? My hand is on the door. In another moment more might come to me. Or maybe not.
A couple of nights ago I dreamed that my dead grandfather told me I was fifty-four years old. A month after my grandfather died in September 1998, I drove to my grandparent’s old cabin two hours from Seattle, which they had sold in 1979, and which, on that fall day in 1998, appeared abandoned, the windows boarded, the grass up to my chest. I felt the angry presence of my dead grandfather.
All of these numbers overwhelm me.
In my dream of a couple of nights ago, my grandfather appeared satisfied with who I was. I was asleep. I’m afraid of writing something that is factually incorrect. No thoughts appear. A minute or two ago in my mind, I compared dreams with psychosis. Then my mind reminded me of a pond frozen during winter. An image melts the ice: a much younger me, an adolescent me, lies on my psychoanalyst’s couch, writing whatever comes to mind on a notepad, and seated behind the couch, listening as if my words were somehow communicated to him from the page, is an adult me, the age I am now.
When I awoke and remembered the dream, I imagined saying to my grandfather, as if for a moment the dream were still happening: I’m three years younger than you think.
I’m at my desk attempting to do three things at once. I’m writing these sentences. I’m rereading the dream as I recorded it on paper. I’m also, in my imagination, on my psychoanalyst’s couch, where in reality I’ll be in a few hours. It’s as if I’m speaking these words on the couch. Dreams bring to mind many things besides psychosis, such as thinking, remembering, forgetting, and reverie. My mind has not been abandoned in a long time, or so I want to think. I don’t know what the number fifty-four in the dream might mean. I am afraid of making mistakes. Facts don’t appear in dreams, do they? When I wake up and feel separate from this dream that I’m writing, I’ll have to think about the question.
Something tells me that I’m going to write these paragraphs in fragments. I’m tired. It’s 5:54 pm on a Thursday evening. In Madrid, where I lived for years, six o’clock is closer to the middle of the afternoon than to evening. Disconnection comes to mind. I’ve been reading one of the two psychoanalytic authors that I mentioned in my last vignette (I call these narratives experimental vignettes, a name which an author whom I know through WordPress suggested to me; perhaps what I’m writing here feels too experimental to me). In his book, This Art of Psychoanalysis: Dreaming Undreamt Dreams and Interrupted Cries, Thomas Ogden includes a chapter entitled, “On psychoanalytic writing.” In one sentence he writes: “An experience cannot be told or written; an experience is what it is.” On the same page he writes about turning facts into fictions. The words unconscious thought processes remain with me as I find myself becoming impatient with how slow I’m reading. I glance at my laptop screen: 5:59. I’d forgotten that I need to leave home in eleven minutes. I think: I’ve written one factual or fictional fragment. It’s a start.
I want to be the subject of my own sentence. What might that mean? I know who wrote the opening sentence of this paragraph. It’s Monday afternoon . Once again I’m tired, but for different reasons this time. I was out of town for a few days. I haven’t written a word on paper since I left early Friday morning. So many hours without a word on paper has disorientated me. I feel fragmented, as if at any given moment I might not know who wrote the opening sentence of this paragraph. I’m going to make myself coffee and see if another book finds me as I pass the shelves of books on my way back to this desk. I want disconnection to become connection. Keep on experimenting, I say to myself as I walk to the kitchen. Experience will find you.
Another book did find me on my way back to this laptop, and after reading a page or two I put it aside to write these sentences. It’s 3:22 pm and I’m depressed, which isn’t usual for me while I’m drinking coffee. I’m afraid that what I’ve been writing here is too fragmented. I’m hoping that some pages of Michael Eigen’s The Psychoanalytic Mystic, which I also read while I wrote my last vignette, helps me read – I meant to write “write” – better. An unconscious thought process seems to have appeared, for the moment. Perhaps I’ve written these paragraphs because I want to read my own fragments, or vignettes, what I write while I try to remain in a dreaming state of mind. What might such a state of mind mean to me? Some questions must wait for possible answers. I glance again at the time on my laptop screen. I must leave soon. Maybe everything I write is a fragment. There’s never enough time, or so I think.