Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Disambiguation of Pain (produced the Pisan Cantos): A working theory

What follows is a live-action demonstration, from July 2009, of how to control pain using the art of distraction.

To employ this method at home, you will need internet access and some sort of writing platform (a blog, spare bits of tissue, rice paper with ink and paintbrush, etc.).  Also, if you have a legal and appropriate pharmaceutical at hand, you may take it, but take the lowest necessary dosage, decreased by half.

[Your first few times employing my proprietary blend of distraction, though, consider not using any medication at all. It may not be necessary to your relief.  Not while you have a brain!]

Tell yourself, aloud:  "I will feel better in 15 minutes. 20 minutes, tops." For a successful outcome, position yourself, your internet-accessed device, and any external writing paraphernalia (beware the literati cops!) within comfortable reach. Place everything with such care of thought that should you drift off in a cloud of painlessness, nothing will be harmed. That means, for instance:  no hot beverages!

There.  You are all set.  Breathe in, breathe out, slowly.  Engage your creativity and release your inhibitions and prohibitions.

You are about to disambiguate your pain.  Bon voyage!

***********   ***   ***********   ***   ***********   ***  ***********   *** 

Ezra Pound

I had a night full of crazy nearly-nightmarish dreams and woke to the indescribable pain caused by Uncle Kitty Big Balls licking my CRPS-stricken right big toe. [He's obsessed with toes... maybe because we had to have one of his chopped off to save his sorry hide.]

I don't plan to scrape UKBB:-:Pickle Head:-:Little Boy off the wall anytime soon. Yeah, go ahead. Report me! Turn me in! Drag me off to the slammer, the big house, get all touchy-feelly about mistreatment of cross-eyed, streetwise, stinky-pooping cats.

Lately, UKBB:-:Pickle Head:-:Little Boy has accumulated even more monikers, none of which have definitively stuck, alas. Bugsy. Gus. (I was watching, for the umpteenth time, Lonesome Dove. I have an enduring love for Robert Duvall, and had just announced that I really, really wanted a Gus of my very own, when UKBB promptly announced himself with that weird, raspy half-*ack*-*ack*, half-mee-row that also managed to denote a scruffy beard and teeny-tiny cowboy hat.)

Also: Aeolus -- Greek God of the Winds, for reasons that are air-borne and truly, truly unfortunate. Dirty Harry.

Ah, the serendipity of internet searches and plain old, errant, mindless keyboard clicks. As I began to write about UKBB and his assault, it occured to me that I did not know many synonyms for jail, prison.


Is that not normal mental function? Don't you jump from allusion to allusion, gleefully following each verbal twist until your childlike wonder is definitively shown up as your unique form of mental retardation?

The first thing that popped up was "Yahoo! Answers," where someone had posed the same query -- wanting some slang for prison. Pen, pokey, cooler, lockup, clink.

Not terribly familiar with this Yahoo! feature, I decided to look into what pressing questions were on the mind of the world wide web citizenry:

What's wrong with my cat?
In Cats - Asked by Aida-Christine - 11 seconds ago

How is the average speed solved using the ticker tape?
In Physics - Asked by Dulce Amor - 11 seconds ago

What does human context mean in terms of the elements of drama?
In Words & Wordplay - Asked by LittleMiss - 15 seconds ago

HIS and STORY = HISTORY. should it be HER and STORY = HERSTORY?
In Gender & Women's Studies - Asked by Bored Observer - 16 seconds ago

Where can I buy thermal printers for embossed printing on invitation cards?
In Printers - Asked by Mitch - 16 seconds ago

I cant check my email. Some help please?
In Other - Yahoo! Mail - Asked by infantry_wife - 23 seconds ago

Do I need to be in the center of my surround sound?
In Home Theater - Asked by kc17170 - 24 seconds ago

Are muscly calves genetic?
In Diet & Fitness - Asked by єℓιzα©™ - 24 seconds ago

How do you Say this in Japanese?
In Languages - Asked by Areazel - 27 seconds ago

Whats a good acne medication or cream or something !?
In Other - Skin & Body - Asked by Selah - 29 seconds ago

Production of atp in prokaryotes?
In Botany - Asked by yashwanth - 33 seconds ago

What is the best FREE MUSIC MIXING softwware to download?
In Software - Asked by JasonC. - 37 seconds ago

After a tattoo is pretty much healed is it ok to use cocoa butter without fading?
In Tattoos - Asked by Angie - 37 seconds ago

A quetion about herbal essence shampoo?
In Hair - Asked by BoPeep - 43 seconds ago

How much are Alternators for a 1998 dodge 1500?
In Dodge - Asked by iaskquestions - 43 seconds ago

Is male pregnancy possible?
In Other - Pregnancy & Parenting - Asked by Phylisia Y - 43 seconds ago

What album tracks do you always skip when listening to your favourite bands?
In Rock and Pop - Asked by mark j - 45 seconds ago

What will the human race look like in 1,000,000 years time?
In Other - Social Science - Asked by x-jessicalouise-x - 47 seconds ago

Can you guys use the search feature?
In Yahoo! Search - Asked by Artanis186 - 47 seconds ago

Pls help me with my homework?
In Homework Help - Asked by oyoboy - 49 seconds ago

It's enough to put Darwinian theory in doubt.

So, I am almost in danger of losing the train of my thought, the choo! choo! choo! so dear to coherent conversation and logical composition. Ah, but my darling Reader-Friends, after years of living with an ADHD-driven sweetheart, a cartoon diva, and the neurotic feline Sam-I-Am -- not to mention the impact of inhabiting the Tête de Hergé? I got a mind like a steel trap.

Okay, Beloved Students, let's take a moment to assess things.  
Have you noted The Method in the madness of my various circumlocutions? 

Feel pain; Immediately invoke the pain management technique of DISTRACTION.

Not quite there yet, FREE ASSOCIATE; Discover a strong stream of consciousness around the concepts of PRISONS, CATS, and ROBERT DUVALL.

Effective pain management requires a more narrow focus, for which I FISH, using the apparently contrarian method of SEEKING THE SYNONYMOUS.

In so doing, the hard-and-fast rule of "when in doubt, Google," returns the oddly appropriate suggestion of SEEKING THE SYNONYMOUS by visiting Yahoo! Answers.

Having achieved considerable pain relief by such perfect use of DISTRACTION, toss in some deep breathing exercises, maybe a coffee and cannoli.


This almost brought me to the edge of disaster (located near the stream of consciousness), even unto the brink of the aforementioned Darwinism.

Ah! But as Ezra reminds me, daily:

When the mind swings by a grass-blade

an ant's forefoot shall save you

the clover leaf smells and tastes as its flower.

--from LXXXIII

And so it is that I arrive... at pain relief by DISTRACTION, and you, my darling Reader-Friends, once again scratch your heads and roll your eyes, wondering about drug abuse, mental stability, and why I can't just stave off CRPS' impact by sheer force of will.

That's okay, I understand.
But -- the process is not over. There is much more to this pain management technique of DISTRACTION.

My mind now calm, even if my body still occasionally gives in to the odd writhe, and the voice to disembodied moan, I complete things. I "choo" the "choo," as it were! (You are not successfully circumlocuting if the ends never meet.)

Usually? I don't trust you or like you enough to show you the ending, the meeting of the circle ends. You don't know of my love for Euclid, and my secret glee, inasmuch as I am a writer, of the writerly things I find everywhere:

A circle is a special ellipse in which the two foci are coincident. (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia frequently offers its efforts at disambiguation, in which I delight, for I will refuse all efforts at disambiguation of my own text, while hungrily acquiring the nit-and-grit of that dialogue of contrariness. To wit, I usually would not go on to share that an investigation of ellipse necessarily includes a parse of its use as a rhetorical figure:

a rhetorical suppression of words to give an expression more liveliness.

Now, really, friends, isn't that a pure HOOT?! Coming, as it does, from the figurative pen of Retired Prof, Profderien? A freaking SUPPRESSION of words! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

Okay, to be honest, as this has been composed in actual time during an actual episode of severe pain, I took my breakthrough pain medication (15 mg Endocet) about 40 minutes ago.

DISTRACTION as an effective pain management technique? Maybe for those perfect souls who are into suffering as means of spiritual purification. Maybe for those stellar people whom I truly admire, whose minds' natural ability to focus does indeed allow for it, like Jeisea, down under at her blog crps/rsd: a better life -- though such sites tend to irritate me because of the pride of suffering (no, I won't unpack that -- you know what I mean -- don't be coy). Also, I am jealous.

I used to be one of both of those -- seeing an overarching good in learning to live with severe chronic pain and able to hone my mind's eye to the razor's edge of a laser beam, and so hope to escape that damned pain.

But no more, unless I have to. When did the "I-have-to" Era arrive? I think when the reality of my immunosuppression and the seriousness of this apparently untreatable osteomyelitis finally made me see that the Ketamine Cure (think Keystone Cops) was too dangerous for *me* to try, that I'd never be accepted in a trial, that the SCS and pain pump were no longer available to me as pie-in-the-sky options.

Now? I try to write through it, perform it. But I also take the medication prescribed me, as it is prescribed me. Well, hmmm, that's a lie. I take less pain medication than my doctor knows or suggests. I force myself through monthly "drug holidays." I try to explore adjunct pain medications, so as to narrow the focus and thereby treat the pain more *precisely*. Mostly, that has come to mean use of baclofen to ease spasm and tics, and ibuprofen to attack inflammation.

And so, let's see: through writing this weird blog and the work that goes into it, there is significant distraction from pain, even though it usually means blogging on that very topic. Writing has become a process undertaken while waiting for conventional pain medications to kick in and do their job, or it is a Hail Mary Pass when I have taken all that is allowed. Anger emotionally fuels and informs my pain, once it has started, and so writing, again, is a way to get through that -- a way to bring the circle's ends back in line, and my mind to a measure of quiescence.

Having literally said, and also performed, this real cycle of pain -- allow me to finish. This is usually the secret part.

When last we left our intrepid painkilling thread, we were citing one of the more predictable quotes from Pound, that crazy, dangerous fool. You know, the ant's forefoot, from the last of the Pisan Cantos.

Here is a brief map of Pound's route to Pisa and on to trial and twelve years at St. Elizabeth's:

Pound met the Fascistleader Benito Mussolini, and it was in this man that Pound saw the opportunity for economic and social reform. As a supporter of Fascism, Pound's statements broadcast over radio became infamous, such as his anti-Semitic statements against what he saw was a Jewish control of the economic systems of Europe:

"..if some man had a stroke of genius, and could start a progrom against
Jews... there might be something to say for it."

These World War II broadcasts, made in Rome, were openly Fascist (it was clear that he hated U.S. President Roosevelt and usury banking), so it came as no surprise when EzraPound was arrested in 1945 by U.S. forces on charges of treason - Pound was still a citizen of the United States of America. For twenty-five days, Pound was imprisoned within the 'gorilla cage', an open cage which was situated outdoors, and was moved into a tent at the end of this time for medical reasons. This incarceration at Pisa lasted for six months in total, and during his time here he continued to translate Confucius and work upon his most famous work, the Pisan Cantos, writing it on scraps of papers and typing up his poem in the medical tent, after-hours.

Leaving Pisa to stand trial for treason and broadcasting Fascist propoganda in the United States, Pound arrived, and was examined by a panel of four mental illness experts before the trial began. Their conclusion was as follows:

"He is abnormally grandiose, is expansive andexuberant in manner, exhibiting pressure of speech, discursiveness and distractibility... He is, in other words, insane." - The judgement made by the four examiners.

Following this 1946 judgement that he was "insane and too mentally ill to stand trial" (and consequent acquittal of the charges on thesegrounds), Pound was taken to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. where he remained for twelve years until the continual appeals made by his writer friends ensured his 1958 release.

The ten cantos comprising the Pisan Cantos were composed in the weeks immediately following Pound's several week stay in one of the camp's death-row wire cages, where he had been exposed to the elements, and where he was deprived of the comfort of the human voice, as he was considered too dangerous to be engaged in conversation. When it was finally decided that he was not a high risk prisoner, after all, his health -- physical and mental -- was already in decline. They moved him to one of the medical tents, and there he composed LXXIV-LXXXIII (84 was added later, as coda).

Indicted for treason, found incompetent for trial, Pound ended up, as most crossword-puzzlers and American Lit 101 (or some other introductory course on modernism) know, at St. Elizabeth's.

Just a few months back, a very sweet woman -- who turns out to be my aunt -- filled me in on some of the more fascinating tidbits of Our Family History. My great-uncle Otis spent the last third of his life as an inmate at St. E's, the unwitting victim of tertiary syphillis.

See? It's not all coincidence and serendipity. Nor is it self-indulgence. Well, nor is it entirely self-indulgence -- this defeat of pain by DISTRACTION.

And haven't you had a wonderful time?

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