I have lately been reading the letters of the great
with pleasure at the way they reveal themselves
in that form, speaking their most intimate concerns
as they develop simultaneously their theories.
So I am writing from the university
because what is on my mind at present
draws in part from our conversation of last winter.
I never had many ideas but I'm having them now.
I am learning about the birth of psychology,
where dreams and fumbling errors have often been
productive. What concerns me is that so many have believed
the mind's business can be proved and mapped like a machine's.
This causes, I am sure, some lopsided
arrangement in the brain.
Also death is on my mind, my main question being
why are we never ready for it?
and these two thoughts
mingle until I see in a vision
a horse in a stable, with oats enough and straw,
used to its condition of always being held in;
not passionate, not despairing, merely feeling mildly down,
until the barn begins to burn.
This is when I understand that the horse
is quite neurotic. Paralyzed with fear,
totally on ice, the poor horse thinks,
"I must have caused this fire somehow,"
or "if only I understood what motivates the barn to burn,"
all this and not one attempt to kick down the partitions and escape.
When reason fails, more mystical thoughts arrive, the horse deciding
as the heat and smoke increase, "perhaps if I had meditated
more diligently I would perceive that there Is no fire,"
and, "if I watch the movement of birds through this window
I may receive some guidance from a higher being through a sign."
We know too little about too much and strangle on our lines of thought.
So, after reading of struggles to decode the psyche's
hidden realms, and the misery thus caused,
I present to you my theory, maybe nothing to the world,
but it is everything to me. If I died now,
I would be a burning stable horse that thought,
"I can bear whatever happens. My mission is complete."
No theory of regression or simple reversal,
no, this allows for mystery, so the atom leads
to the atom bomb, but doesn't stop there, or try to double back,
it takes us post-bomb, just as we ran out of Eden
into suffering and so must covet a post-Eden bliss where suffering
is not denied, but somehow accounted for--
but there I'm getting ahead. Here I want only to proclaim
that after Ages of Darkness and Enlightenment
and unavoidable unearthings of the unseen,
I usher in my own age, whose main feature is--
the undiscovery of the unconscious.
There Jim. Don't feel you have to get it right away,
but I am sure if we let that domain remain more cryptic
things will run more smoothly, will run like a wild horse
who can only take at most a bareback rider,
any reasonable bridle causing choking and watery eyes.
My plea is that we stop dissecting what's alive.
And my heroic model is one Mary Reynolds, who in 1811 fell asleep.
When she woke she'd forgotten all she ever knew--
you can check this out in scientific journals, it's true.
She relearned to write and read, but science could not explain
why she'd mentally misplaced both alphabets and relatives,
or why, instead of moaning around groaning, timid,
depressed and secluded as she'd been,
after a period of wavering adjustment
she spent the entire long rest of her life in wondrous expeditions
through woods and hills, often on horseback.
Yes, there were difficulties when, for example,
she mistook a bear for a pig, but she whacked the bear with a stick
and remained jolly and frolicsome, her former being completely changed.
Write back if you have time.
[the Marlboro Review]
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