Entry 46: Everything Goes/Restless Paces- What is the plan, now? Have you ever heard this? In some meeting, in some relationship, in some internal conversation you have had with yourself- perhaps as part of a cognitive behaviour therapy you are undergoing?
I knew there was something wrong with me from the mid-nineties. I had banging headaches, nausea, an inability to think beyond tomorrow and a contradictory belief that I was invincible, somehow. Meeting with an old friend who was living up Glebe Point Road in an apartment, I celebrated my return to Sydney from North Queensland in 1995 by getting horribly drunk and raving like a lunatic.
This was not perceived as being out of order because my life had been, for so many years, constructed out of these bricks of self-destruction. Why they did not crash down upon my head? I have had reason to reflect upon it the years since. So many times I have been, because of my affection for the demi-monde and, particularly, alcohol, in situations of considerable danger.
Now, I could cite a guardian angel as the reason for my survival- but I know that is part of this whole magical thinking phenomenon. We all live till we die. Nothing will alter the fact that there is a limit to life. Do you want to live forever? Not me, but, given the choice, I don’t want to go just yet! So much to do; so much to see; so much to… you get the drift.
I know that I have dodged death so many times. A gun pointed at my head in Belfast; a confrontation with a brace of violent men on a secluded road; a miraculous save from a road accident in Warrawong- I could go on- as I am sure all of you can. Lots of times we don’t even know that we have dodged a bullet, because nothing happened. Luck, Lady Fortuna, Serendipity and Synchronicity are terms you may well be familiar with. But what do you think about this insight into the nature of perception:
In contrast to an epiphany, an apophany does not provide insight into the nature of reality or its interconnectedness but is a “process of repetitively and monotonously experiencing abnormal meanings in the entire surrounding experiential field”. Such meanings are entirely self-referential, solipsistic, and paranoid.
If I knew what that meant, I would tell you. But I think you are way in front- an apophany is just absolute shite, the opposite of what James Joyce famously termed as an epiphany. Yet, just about everyone I know; everyone who has spoken to me about the deep and meaningful stuff, has, at one time or another, talked about “a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether from some object, scene, event, or memorable phase of the mind–the manifestation being out of proportion to the significance or strictly logical relevance of whatever produces it.”
And here’s the thing: I hate listening to others wittering on about their meaningful objects, scenes, events, et cetera. And I’m going to do just that. At the turn of the millennium…actually the year 2000, but who’s counting, my eyesight began to fade, I was feeling dreadful- beyond hangover, which I was habituated to. I felt mortality pressing down on me more than usual and the dreams of death were becoming tiresomely frequent.
I knew I had extreme idiopathic hypertension in
1996 when my doctor told me not to return to work the next day (as I was in danger of dropping dead at any second) and sent me on a round of tests and dosed me with a large number of pharmaceutical products that finally got the blood pressure under control.
But this was new, and yet another test revealed that my blood sugar was through the ceiling. The joys of ageing- in my case accelerated by what is referred to euphemistically as lifestyle choices. So then, what is this apophany I’ve been talking about?
Well, I have to bring up another neologism at this point- patternicity. Michael Shermer, founder of the Sceptics Society, coined this one in 2008, when he defined it as, the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this what happens in just about every meeting in the workplace today?
Someone spouting crap in multisyllabic torrents as nodding heads around the table give assent to the madness. So, I nodded with the panic dwarfs and waited for too many years until the mortgage was paid and the government decided that it could pay me a stipend, called the age pension for the rest of my days. What was this apophany?
Listen: I have repetitively and monotonously experienced the feeling that I count for something. And that you do, too. Insane, isn’t it? William Blake put it in these terms, To see a world in a grain of sand/And heaven in a wild flower/Hold infinity in the palm of your hand/And eternity in an hour. Lord, where would we be without our poets?