Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Girl With The Blue Crown
The little pointy thing next to the photo is supposed to be a crown. I drew that with a blue colored pencil I took from my Bugs Bunny pencil box while sitting at a desk in our little house in Iowa back during the Kennedy administration. I was doing my homework, maybe coloring a picture I suppose. At that moment, the archaeological evidence shows that with my blue pencil in hand, I was actually day dreaming about a girl. This was 1962. I was in third grade, according to the year book the picture is in. You may ask, why would a nine year old kid want a school yearbook? I wanted it because I knew her picture would be in it. The little crown is supposed to mean “Queen of my Heart”.
I dreamed of her literally. I went to sleep at night after my prayers by making up stories in my imagination of Jeannine in this peril or that peril. Of her rescue, myself wounded, maybe dying but devoted. Elaborate stories. Herself, always grateful. Giving me a kiss. And there was this void. There was some exciting itch, something beyond kissing. My body seemed to know it, but I didn’t. Something mystical and hidden where girls and boys went to consummate these emotions, but it was a place in the deeper shadows in my skull, where imagination couldn’t reach. Not yet.
Now I could lie to you at this point, and none of you would know. I’m an apprentice fiction writer, lying really well is actually what I aspire to do with my life. The truth in fiction is never in the details, it’s under the surface of the details, and so it will be with you and me in a minute, Friends of the Inner Sanctum. I could tell you Jeannine was madly in love with me, and I carried her books and defended her honor from farm boy bullies. I could tell you we kissed and made out and and otherwise experimented on her porch swing as the sun set over the cornfields and her folks inside were watching Popogigio the Mouse on Ed Sullivan. I could tell you how this nymphet rested her nine year old head on my nine year shoulder, inserted her pink wad of Bazooka Joe bubble gum seductively between my lips, still wet from her mouth, and spoke wistfully of marriage. But the mact of the fatter is, I never had the courage to speak to little old Jeannine. At all. Ever. We were briefly in the same class, and she sat close enough at one time to lean over, punch me in the shoulder and ask if she could borrow a pencil. I had only the one pencil and gave it to her quickly and then gallantly did without for that day, dissolved in happiness until the bell rang. She gave my pencil back at the end of the day (I had no courage to ask for it) with the eraser bitten off and the upper end of the wood chewed as if borrowed by a nervous beaver. I retired the stricken pencil to my underwear drawer where I occasionally took it out and meditated on her tooth marks and the knowledge her divine fingers had held this, my wood, my Ticonderoga, sanctified by the touch, lips and teeth of the goddess. How I longed to be where that pencil had been.
As I held the sacred Ticonderoga #2B of the Gods, I decided my destiny from that moment. I made a sacred vow over that pencil I would be a writer.
Okay, now I’m lying to you. That last part’s total horse shit.
But she did give it back and I did keep it in my sock drawer. That part is true.
Now none of that is the interesting thing to me personally. I wish Jeannine well wherever she is, and her husband whose nights I envy, but I’ve moved on. I just told you that so I could think about this other thing- dig.
The truth is not in the details. The truth is under the details.
Me and my little blue pencil. This is before testosterone. This is before tits and ass. This is before balls and hairy legs and pimples. This is before hard-ons and wet dreams, and whacking off and making out. This is nine years old. How does a nine year old fall in love in with a girl?
Last week we were talking about same sex pairing. Homosexuality. I said that I didn’t believe homosexuality was a moral decision, anymore than being tall or short is a moral decision. That little blue pencil crown next to the photo of little nine year old Jeannine Williams is my evidence for the court, your honor, and wise men and winged women of the jury. Because of that little kid drawing of a royal crown, I know homosexuality and bisexuality and heterosexuality, all of it is brain wiring. It’s something out of your reach. I fell in love with a girl, and not a boy, before I knew that sex existed as a concept or an activity. I fell in love with a girl before I knew there was such a thing as tab A in slot B. If your sexual orientation is out of your reach, how much else is out of your reach? Are we religious because we’re divinely touched, or because a pile of neurons in the right frontal lobe is a little more active than the left? How much of what we perceive as ourselves is real and how much is chemical illusion?
Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke. It was freakish stroke for exactly the right person, because Ms. Taylor was a brain scientist and the stroke targeted exclusively the left side of her brain. The left side of the brain governs verbal skills and ego perception. Its that source of the endlessly chattering “monkey mind” we go through our day with. The right side of the brain is non verbal and non linear. As her left brain was shut down in stages, she lost her ability to speak, then her ability to understand speech, soon her ability to walk began to go, and then finally her ability to recall the last four hours of her life and finally her own identity faded but not before she'd made a slurred call to her neighbor for help. Operating solely from the right side of the brain she experienced a mystical euphoria and union with the great creative intelligence of the universe and her non-dualistic oneness with all things around her. Until the neighbor hauled her off to emergency and loaded her full of life saving drugs and she became monkey mind Jill Bolte Taylor again. She documented this experience and what she learned from it in her book “My Stroke of Insight”. When I was practicing mantra meditation, it suddenly occurred to me that most of meditation technique is designed to direct the attention away from left brain activities and systematically shut it down. When you’ve shut it down perfectly you experience what Dr. Taylor experienced. You see God.
But it isn’t God. Is it? Its an illusion. Its lop sided brain wiring. Right? So what is real? There is a form of frontal lobe epilepsy Dostoyevsky was rumored to have had. During the epileptic seizure the left brain is violently shut down and the person goes into the most intense religious ecstasy. It is described as an intensity of hallucinogenic pleasure and release far beyond sex, beyond any drug, a perfect overwhelming happiness that obliterates the self completely. But is it? Isn’t it brain wiring? Then what is God? Where does the human begin? How much of it is real?
The blue crown has another argument behind it also. The skeptic in me can say its evidence that sexual orientation is brain wiring, genetics. Maybe it is. But it also means that it isn’t hormones. Falling in love, or feeling like it, for a nine year old boy who is still years away from the throes of testosterone overdose, where does it come from? The soul? A nature predisposed to love and fantasy and stories? Its not coming from chemicals.
For me that blue crown is an enigma, the symbol of an unsolved mystery, like anthropologists discovering Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers and jewelry. It means that what we think we know isn’t the way it appears. Almost nothing is the way it appears. The truth is under the surface.