Saturday, July 12, 2014

arjuna and the specter of isaac

Arjuna and the Specter Isaac 

6/ 30/ 14

The good news is the bad news verbatim. If I still had any Eastern philosophy left me, I'd run that line by the Bhagavad Gita, any Western and I'd see what I could see in the way of Kierkegaard. If was any sort of poet, I'd've long since ditched this rather starving introduction to start composing poems which experiment with that line as the first, writing a new first line, then using the first first line as the second line, and so on . . . second to third, third to fourth and so on until the poem (tentatively titled "Arjuna and the Specter of Isaac") is perfect. Oh, don't you worry, it will happen, the first line is already the 18th line in my head.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Trust me, this is not a trick question or covert personality test.

Heads up, pencils down.

If you chose "good news first" you are an optimist, confident that good news will trump the bad news by a large enough margin to take it too badly anyway. Also, you are a pessimist, worried that the "bad news", if left to its own devices while the good news is being aired, will stir up more trouble than the good news is worth.

Heads up, seven up. (Irrelevant but fun to remember the carefree days.)

If you chose at all, you chose superfluously, since the bad news is the good news verbatim; and you will soon make a note not to trust me, at least not when the concern is trick questions; and now that you know trusting in me is ill-advised, I might as well reveal the results of this covert personality test on Facebook.  (Stay tuned for my immediate public apology on Twitter and it's recapitulation on all major news outlets like CNN, your aunt Dale, Facebook, and Twitter.)

The news is as follows and as follows: I have taken my last round of chemotherapy. I have taken my last round of chemotherapy. I don't have to choke-back pernicious, rattling, gargantupills anymore. By the identical token, they won't let me choke-back pernicious, rattling, tumor-corroding pills anymore.

There is limit to how much poison the body can take and all the tumors have to is do exceed that limit for a while -- a tug-of-war the body rarely wins. The body sports abrasion-prone palms, tumors wear cleats. Tumors are anchored by Fezzik, the body is anchored by your aunt Dale.

Heads down.


It's all in my head. True—at least mostly.

If I've heard it once I've heard it a good few times . . . my tumors; the scrumptiousness of oysters; the importance of being earnest, etc; and there is the way in which "it" is "all" in each of your heads too . . . nascent tumors; the disgustingness of oysters; importance of being quippy.

What has been in my head recently has been, in fact, my tumors. Not the nascent ones but the
current tenants.  Real deals that exist in real space that happen to be confined to the same real small place. Spaces and places inside my cranium, situated as comfortably as I can manage, in my right
parietal lobe, a few dim stars (that's how I think of the new ones as they appear in the MRI images) cropping-up in gadolinium dye and ostensibly headed toward the temporal lobes and, due to malignancy, threatening further encroachment.

And then there's Pops. Riding high near the primary motor cortex where the doing of things gets done. Which is why so many things of don't get done. Pops the progenitor, original space-hog.

And I feel its presence.  I've seen its picture many, many times. I've studied its biology and its biography. But not only do I know of it, I can attest to its existence as a tangible occupier of my noodle. And so too with new ones, but less concretely. I don't know them well but I'm figuring them out.

I can hear learned protest . . .  "This notion is psychosomatic through and through. He has headaches that he thinks he can specifically locate geographically and define topographically. He has phantom sensations, ones he thinks he should be able to feel, as if from the outside in."

Yes, as if that way. And as if from the inside out. And as if from the inside in.  Call it delusion, imagination, or the eternal Lite-Brite of a buck- shot mind.

I call it apperception, introspection, and concentration . . . I'll take imagination, too. From where else could I extract the  germs of creativity if not from its Petris dish in my head?

Yet, I feel I’m doing poorly with my explanation of this phenomenon. I'll attribute this to its oddity. It’s not a workaday  topic; to speak of it is to ask the listener/ reader to rustle-up some cognitive vittles probably not ready at hand. Sometimes me and the listener/ reader connect, sometimes we don't.

Perhaps to confuse us all further, I’ve inserted an excerpt from short-story ("Waiting"), in which the  main character relates his experience with this odd but real case:

I have heard about silence that screams but this is new—the confusion in cacophony, the exclamations, the top-pitched frustration  is so noisome and unconnected that I hear nothing.  I retreat into my right-parietal.  My tumor is in here with me.  I am used to feeling it from a distance—from my other lobes but now I have joined it.  I am inside the absence.  Because that’s what brain tumors are.  Physiologically, they are growths, cystic and tangible; but the real space they delineate is filled with nothing or, at best, a vague notion of something missing.  Like the subconscious knowledge of the unpacked meds sitting on your nightstand as you grind farther and farther away down the interstate.  Like the empty pit in your guts, so dull and distant, that prophesies an impending appendicitis.

 In here, perceptions are dull.  The outside world moves slowly as in a dream.  And the dream is pointless.  You in a chef’s hat making mud-pies; you in a cloud and becoming rain.  Dull and pointless but perfect for keeping the sharper perceptions at bay—those terrors of a brain in full synaptic barrage.  From here, through the glial-veneer, the waiting room is in a light fog on a placid lake as seen through the wrong end of binoculars.  The fish are glugging through arms of light   Sounds are subdued.  Like a silenced pistol going thwup, like a muted guitar string going pung, so are the voices and actions of the outside, public space . . .

   Andrew,  dying quicker than the rest of us, , is tidying the waiting room.  As if compelled by a mission, he moves from table to table making neat stacks of the magazines.  He stands behind the several empty chairs and aligns them just so.  He looks like a golfer lining up a putt.  Or an unlikely feng shui master .  His ring glints in the fluorescent light.  I have never seen him so vital, so purposeful.  Something in the anomaly feels right—like his is the correct universe, a truly unparalleled universe, and that it’s safe to leave my brain.  He draws me out . . .

To find out what transpired before our hero retired into his cranium or to find out what transpires next:

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