It's a case of the chicken or the egg... Does a psychic event, like a 'minor nervous breakdown' to use a term that has many gradations, beg for a different level of consciousness, or does the change of consciousness lead to the things that seem like the psychic event as manifested. The psychic event being something rather common in young people, idealistic, searching for themselves... They get inspired by art perhaps, a good poem, and it leads them somewhere, they step out of convention a little bit... Then it seems to snowball, in an unforgiving place... Maybe some things are harder to bring up in normal conversation, and so they sit below the surface and don't get talked about and then all this misunderstanding arises.
About the book. Let's treat this all as fiction. She came through right in the middle of it. And between encountering her and the summer and going back to school, I chose to live up in the old DKE house up on the hill above Emily Dickinson's house, rather than living with my closest friends down in B dorm... The years before I'd had a band, been a success as a guitar player, but that too I kind of retreated from, until you might say I'd gotten pretty depressed about things.
It's something artists go through, when trying to find their values. Do the outer events precipitate, forcing the hand, initiate a new value system... You want to communicate more and in a deeper way, but it seems the opposite, in actuality, happens. Which sucks. Maybe it turns out that that this change of consciousness, not being so mainstream, is set apart. It would be hard to place your finger on the exact causes or the chain of reaction.
And even in yourself there is the suffering that comes with change. You don't know what you want to be yet, even as you have the instinct, the deeper calling, the drive.
Dostoyevsky got hauled in front of a firing squad. Then at the very last minute they send him off to Siberia to the penal colony. Out of the experience comes the basic set-up of The Idiot. The epileptic who went through that firing squad experience, who comes out if it all seeing deeper, his eyes opened, even if it doesn't do him a lot of good personally. And then evolve with that, to find a kind of home for that Idiot, and you are the author who visits the monastery, talks with the Elder monk, then uses that as the basis for the tale of The Brothers Karamazov. Even Dostoyevsky didn't know how deep he was going with that, the deepest of Buddhist thought, I'm guessing, just went with his instinct, his vision; the story kept talking to him, telling him things, which he then left on the canvas.
Did he know what he was getting himself into at the beginning of this chain of events, the wrong kind of political sympathies? The younger version of him might have laughed at the older version, and the older version might shrug and say, 'well, it's all I got.' Would you want to take that route toward higher/deeper consciousness? Would it seem like a plausible career move? If you were smart you might try to run, immediately, away, except you can't. Shocking, really.
It's like Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart. Do you think you're going to be immediately popular, lots of new friends when you accept what you must accept and adjust your mind's ways around it? Do you say, 'oh great! yes, sign me up...' Probably not. You might be asked to defend yourself from the conventional viewpoint which you have since abandoned... 'Uhh, well...' No, you're not going to get very far, so your choice is to make some form of art, some form where all the weird fits into, a safe haven for it. Not that that act would even appear healthy psychologically, at best chalk it up to catharsis... But against your will maybe, you stick with it. You construct a form out of broken pieces. (At least that's what they might look like.) You remember, hey, I used to be a social guy, good sense of humor, could talk to pretty much anyone, people liked me, thought me versatile, cool, etc., But what's the new form of that? What's the form of the human being that many will, through finally being honest with themselves, or through understanding their vulnerability, their mortality, would grow to accept, and even go, 'hey, that's me...'
So art, of whatever form, becomes part of the old social network habits, even as it appears strange. "Is writing a book a good way to be social?" It might not seem so. But, but... As a way of talking about the personal stuff, of getting that out into the open, honestly, in a real way, yeah, it amounts to some form of achievement. I would think. That's what a writer does, bares his whatever-you'd-want-to-call-it....
And then through all the tedium of this strange artistic avenue, you allow your values to peek through. Probably timidly at first, scaring yourself, feeling weird and queazy about them, shy, shaking your head, 'I don't think this is going to work...' But maybe it does. Or it starts to after trying a while.
Then maybe you'll look back at something you've done, and you can say, yes, that is who I am. That is who I wanted to become.
So maybe that's it. It takes a lot of years, a really long time, by anyone's standard, to look back and say, oh, I guess I do know now what that kid was up to, all that instinctive stuff that's played out over the years. The difficult thing might be that now you are middle aged, with a lot of life and vigor and possibilities of the personal and professional kind all gone, down the river, days of wine and roses sort of things that you regret but can't do much about nor worry about because they can't be changed.
Fuck. Stay positive. See the good. See the potential. See the achievement, not just the downside of it all. The left hand does not know what the right is doing, as Jesus says. There is always forgiveness. That was always there. That might have even been close to the initial cause of that which become severe and disappointing, heartbreaking even. The forgiveness, that's also what gets you through, though, interestingly enough.
In sleep you digest things. The mind works through them, I mean, we can only guess so, but it seems to make some sense. Young people, children, they need a lot of sleep. They digest, they grow, they keep their minds open, they learn fantastic things that an adult might poo-poo. Imaginations... And who knows, maybe that kind of shut down sadness thing that comes over young people, maybe it's not all romantic horse manure, that sadness is like sleep. It protects you and your imagination. It doesn't let you complicate things more than your mind can bear. You forgo a lot, sure... But the monkish cell, it's a place where you can get some thinking done. Maybe it's okay to be neglected, passed by somewhat, a creature of your own habits... As much as your shrink might tell you to open up and make your world bigger rather than smaller, that phase could be part of health. Perhaps it's not for everyone... To each his own taste, his own way, no?
And maybe, coincidentally, now that I think about it, there's something like Christian thought in that. Jesus is protective of the children, of 'the least of these,' of the mournful, the meek, the poor, the suffering... They too might be on their way, surpassing convention, to be the good human being they were intended to be.
Well, that's maturity for you, ha ha. Not that I claim to have it. Not that I would know. But it's not all just 'sad, sad, sad,' this sort of deeper consciousness vision stuff. There's a healthy upside to it, too. Or maybe that's the point.
Do you have to go through The Idiot Stage... before The Alyosha Karamazov Stage... Is one the seed of the other, the inconsequential sapling that will grow into the tree? Who's to know, going through it? You had the blues back then, thus you were an idiot.