Providentially, the most propitious treatment for OCD (of both the personal or institutional variety) is exposure to the very things the suffer fears most, i.e., being induced to touch the surfaces that he imagines seethe with vile contagion. Conversely, an army of riot police and billions upon billions of dollar squandered on military hardware and state surveillance can never quell the terror within the isolated elite of a decaying culture.
The neoliberal state resembles Howard Hughes in his final days " shuffling the penthouse floors of a succession of resort area hotels " muttering about microbes " his vast riches and security details offering no balm; his fear of human touch served as a self-issued death warrant. In a nondenominational Pentecost of redemptive paradox, the very thing that evoked such overwhelming fear in him " might have served as the very agency of his salvation.
My family's death vigil has come to an end. My father passed from this world early in the morning of May 21. " In the last few days of his life, he drifted between unconsciousness and excruciating pain. When he would rise to awareness, he would quake in agony, his bone-thin arms raised, grasping into empty air, imploring, "Help! Help"" futile pleas that proved to be the last words he uttered in this life.
He died as he lived " a vivid presence, although inconsolable regarding what he deemed the implacably cruel nature of human life. At last, his pain has ceased. His flesh and bones will soon be rendered ash " almost weightless, his remains will be free to drift in air " released from his imprisoning pain.
I shuffle through memory; itself a dimension of imprisonment -- its confines circumscribed by fate and limited apprehension. I festoon the walls of my individual cell with fragments of imperfect remembrance. What was once flesh has been transmuted by time into shards and vapor.
You are now free, my father " but for the solitary confinement of my memory.
Not too long ago, I had a dream wherein I stood gazing over the atrium of a large complex of multi-story structures. Inadvertently, I dropped my "special" writing pen. " It glinted silver as it spiraled down into the lobby, below the atrium, where it came to rest on the carpeted floor. I searched for a down stairway or an elevator in order to retrieve it, but discovered the only means of descent would entail having to make my way down the floors of a public hospital adjoining my present location.
The dream communicated to me -- as occurs, at times, in the lingua franca of the soul -- the tacit understanding that in order to regain possession of my writing instrument I would be required to view and chronicle much suffering (as well as healing) in the wards of the hospital " that I would be shirking my duty as a writer (I would lose the instrument of my art) if I avoided the task of looking upon affliction, recovery, madness, birth, and death.
This spring, upon my journey south, I have gazed upon suffering and death, as my father made his agonized exit from this keening sphere. My father -- who was a man of half Native America ancestry, brought by tragic circumstance to the Deep South of the U.S., to later marry a woman, my mother, a survivor of the blood-besotted madness of 20th Century Europe -- carried the wounds and evinced much of the madness of his times.
He imparted his wounds to me. I carry them with my own wounds -- those incurred by unavoidable circumstance and those that are self-inflicted.
As I trudge through the wards of the wounded and the restored, I will do my utmost to send out dispatches bearing my observations. " From maternity ward to madhouse to morgue and all the precincts in between, I will attempt to chronicle what I witness " for to ignore the admonitions of one's soul and its dialog and dance with the Anima Mundi of one's time is to drift toward the tragic fate of " a life deferred.
I close this essay seated on an Amtrak train, trundling through the June night. " Sleepless. " A full moon skirts through ink-black clouds " the landscape visible in snatches of sheeted light and silhouette. Towns and cities drift past. " Northward bound, Georgia recedes behind me " but memory holds fast.
At hospice, my father succumbed to death in a morphine-induced coma. Too heavily medicated to desire drink, he died of thirst " his face and body as gray as granite when the attendant from the mortuary service arrived to transport his corpse for rendering by the Cremation Society.
When my father was seized with rage -- a frequent occurrence throughout his life, and only diminished in the last stages of his protracted illness -- his blood would rise, in an instant, from his chest to his face; his anger-contorted countenance would flush a deep, reddish brown " the color of steak gravy broiled out of raw beef when cooked at a high temperature.
Seemingly, the veritable thunder of an outraged god, his outbursts terrified me. Shortly after my fifth birthday, after being witness to a fit of my father's temper, I have a memory of slipping out the back door and coming upon a bed of fire ants that had erected an outpost of their larger colony against the concrete foundation of our small, brick apartment building in Birmingham, Alabama.
The insects seemed to me to be a seething mass of coruscating rage -- and I answered their animus by kicking at their ranks with the tips of my high top Keds. The sight of their crushed bodies, frozen in death, affixed to the side of the wall, held me enthralled. The illusion of control seized me " momentarily mitigating the terror that my father's rage had instilled in me. Is this the mental architecture of sudden violence " murder " war?