Self-uncertainty in solitude

(Two journal entries)

 

           Walking home tonight on the side of the road a car sped past me five inches away. I’d been about to step onto the road to avoid a puddle. Had the car driven by one second later, I’d be in a hospital right now. Maybe DOA. –And thus would I have ended. Thus would have ended this non-life.

            The incident made me think about contingency. I think about it every day, but this time it was more intense. Well, intense isn’t the word. Its emotional associations are inappropriate. In fact, immediately after the experience I was laughing, laughing at how tragic it would have been, and how funny, and how perfect. The perfect end to my life. Symbolically perfect, that is.

               Back to oblivion, whence I came!

           So it was all cerebral for a while, an academic meditation on how random life is and how worthless. Gradually it evolved into a mood. But even in this half-moody despair, I knew that if a friend suddenly appeared and we talked awhile I’d be refreshed and happy. It would take something as mundane as a short conversation for me to go from one extreme to the other. I was on the verge of happiness even as I was on the verge of suicide. And I felt this. I felt as if my progressively strengthening mood was just waiting for an object to latch onto, be it a pleasant one or an unpleasant. Since no pleasant object materialized, all this libido (in Jung’s sense) finally poured out as tears. It was a peculiar experience. I kept trying to hold back the tears as they came, determined not to sink to this womanishness yet again; the combination of my willed refusal and the obstinacy of my tears made for a wonderfully intense bout of near-nervous-collapse. I recommend you try it sometime. In the midst of a crying-session, battle against yourself, your weakness. You’ll feel like you’re milking your despair for every last drop of life that lies within it. There’s no question I was capable of killing myself in those moments. No question. I could see my hand holding a gun, raising it to my temple, pulling the trigger. And yet at the same time I knew I’d never do such a thing, for the obvious reason that it would hurt certain people. It would be a weak, selfish thing to do.

           I know these problems are all “in my head”, that they’re fabrications of a sick mind, but that does me no good. What it comes down to is that my brain is sadistic. Withholding the chemicals that make happiness possible! What meanness! What gratuitous malice!

            I’m tired of experimenting [with drugs]. Tired of taking Nietzsche’s maxim to an extreme. It ain’t worth it, even if it does bring life closer. For nearness to life is by no means a desirable experience. I took more pills this morning; they had no effect until the afternoon, when in the middle of class I suddenly lost my ability to talk. My tongue caught in the back of my mouth. It felt like if I said one more word I’d explode, either in tears or in a panic attack. Or I might just choke. A very surreal experience. And very scary. I thought about fleeing the room. Later, on the way to the gym, as I was walking in the night I hallucinated a writhing mass of translucent worm-like things—two sets of them, one in the foreground and one in the background. I could reach out and touch them. But as suddenly as they’d come they vanished. This got me to thinking: how far would these symptoms go? Would I hallucinate more and more and finally go blind? You laugh at the idea, but at the time, in my state of mind, it seemed eminently realistic. After all, I didn’t know how the various types of drugs reacted with each other. Maybe blindness was a side-effect. I panicked, which is rare for me. Bothered by all sorts of ideas. Looked in the mirror a few inches away, examined my eyes: bloodshot. Lifted a lid and looked underneath to see the naked eyeball vulnerable, completely vulnerable, open to being plucked out. Horrifying. I thought of the scene in Kill Bill 2 when Uma plucks out the eye of her adversary, who flails and screams. I could see myself doing that. Reaching in there, yanking it out and squishing it between my toes; then going berserk. Kept looking at the mirror, fascinated. The loss of control, the loss of being-human, the becoming-an-animal. Felt strangely pulled to do the unthinkable as the sight of the animal overtook me. Something so different from what life has always been—so intense, real, I was riding a whirlpool down to oblivion. So close, my hand just waiting for the go-ahead.... So I backed away. Didn’t trust myself.

           Home, I sat on the rug, hands shaking. Thought, thought. How unreal it all is! Wouldn’t the world stop existing if I did? Everything was literally imaginary. Suicide as an experiment! Suicide from philosophical skepticism. Thoughts kept bouncing from epistemology to loneliness to unreality to epistemology. Tears came, from the drugs. Very severe. Intolerable. Hands pressed against forehead, forcing it in, trying to crack it like an eggshell. I couldn’t stop these thoughts from coming! Thoughts like observing myself, knowing I’d write all this, knowing I’d look at it later disinterestedly, knowing I’d look fondly on this agony and smile but so sad now but wanting to be sad (or maybe not?), relishing the reality of the experience yet wondering if it was real or an act, wondering if I was in fact relishing it or was this too only another act, thinking of the future reader, lonely lonely and thinking grandiosely of people thinking how hard it must be to have a mind that is never satisfied, one fleeting thought after another, first-order second-order third-order, each an observation of the last order, wondering what is the explanation of tears (water leaking from the eye?!!), hating my curiosity, thinking of Sandy’s repudiation of our friendship due to one night when I was glum and acted so, the fragility of friendships. But mostly just Get away from me, mind! I was really fed up.

             Enough with the drugs. My ordinary mental state is bliss compared to the drug frenzy.

NOTES OF AN UNDERGROUND HUMANIST

© 2014-2020 by Chris Wright