In Reeducation, as we know, my ability to remain objective and maintain a certain level of detachment from things was considered to be a lack of affect … when really it was just a professional skill, as well as an unwillingness to participate in histrionics. Did I need really destructive treatment … a lethal blow to the head, for instance … so I could finally “feel” in the way that was desired?
I am not at all convinced of Alice Miller’s thesis, that you must have hit home (so to speak) the full horror of whatever you might have been through, and I do not believe in re-experiencing things or having them reinflicted. But I have heard a great deal about how one should give free rein to emotions, and make sure to grieve and re-grieve.
My thesis tonight again is that in order to write, you must be able to maintain a certain degree of objectivity, including a slight distance from your material and the right connection with yourself. You need easy access to self, and I suppose enough ego for confidence, but you must be in a position to leave ego concerns, positive or negative, aside.
When I was really depressed I wanted to be in some dry field or some field that had very little to do with me personally. Then I would have been able to just keep on working, lose myself in work, I thought. Instead I wrote large institutional grants, made needed curricular reforms, designed and coded university webpages in html, created programs, and more. Some of this was low level work but some was quite sophisticated, and all of it was dry. All of it could be done without a great deal of access to self.
But being depressed affects my precision in the humanities and the arts. I lose the ability to get to just the right degree of objectivity, the right combination of proximity and distance. I feel too far away from the subject matter and too close to myself, perhaps. Or too close to my superficial self, and too alienated from my core being. And now, writing again on a poet who is falling apart while I am falling apart, a poet who is also connected to the family that fell apart, the poet on whom I could not write for these reasons and, since I could not understand why, thought it meant I could no longer write … well, it is quite an exercise in attaining the right degree of objectivity, I will say.
The other problem I have with this piece is that it is not nearly well enough researched. That is because I have these reeling experiences when I do research on this person, all too much involved with nostalgia and regret and incomprehension and other feelings. It means my lucidity waxes and wanes. I am taking this entire experience as an exercise in taking hold of things.