Sunday, February 09, 2014

Appetites, habits, and nostalgia

Appetites, needs, compulsions, habits. The ways of the flesh. We are all caught up in the game. Some of us are less wise managers. The addicts, the lotus eaters waylaid from their voyage by the cravings of a singular desire. Their brains are rewired to serve a deeply channelled rut. Obsessive compulsive disorders work along similar synaptical channels.

Habits are just socially acceptable forms of compulsion. I am certainly a creature of habit. A habitué of home and hearth. A returner along well-laid paths. Return, again and again, to the same little plot of land. Drink my caffeine every day for fear of headache reprisal. Have to do my Midweek crossword puzzle every week to bolster the ego and stave off dementia. Habits of movement, reading, listening, playing with my son, sleeping with wife.

The only thing that differentiates me from the hustler is I don't wear my habits, my desires, on my sleeve. I'm a "responsible adult." I accept acceptable faiths, am prudent with finances, balanced of diet, non-smoker, moderate drinker. The things I crave are well within the realms of "normal." And maybe I'm all the more boring for my bland tastes. I can accept bland and boring. Leave me alone with my thoughts, my music, my writing, the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I had my excitement and am glad to have moved on. Never was a down on the luck Bukowski. Not likely to ever be one. That poetry eludes me.

Think of the séance, the sitting sessions, from Latin, sedere, to sit. Hands are laid on Ouija boards (another interesting etymology, "Ouija" is a combination of the French and German words for "Yes") to connect with lost loved ones and spirits who can seemingly foresee the future. The past and future. The wistful and the wishful.

Just think of the implications of ghosts. A confirmed, verified supernatural entity would validate that life, or at least consciousness, exists after death. Famed magician and escape artist Harry Houdini made a promise to return as a ghost. After he died, every Halloween since 1927 a séance has been performed to try and conjure Houdini's ghost, to no avail. His wife Bess died without ever re-connecting with her lost love. They had a secret code. He would share it if he could reach her.

The following is a link to a Houdini  séance  broadcast in 1936.


Rituals, habits, sittings sessions, are all attempts to reclaim some past glory, like the feeling I get singing an old hymn. Who, in generations long past, wearing fashions long forgotten, sang these same hymns? In some way, all of these hungers, nostalgia, and addictions are vain and fruitless attempts to connect with the timeless past, that first high, the hungerless umbilical connectivity of the womb.

Which is why desire is tinged with sadness and impermanency. It's all in vain. Nostalgia is regret. The ghost is unable to change in an ever-changing world. It is fixed.

I heard this radio piece about a man who died, but before he died, he wrote hundreds of letters to friends and family, and left them in the care of his slightly addled son, to be sent every year on the anniversary of his death.

At first, the recipients of these letters were surprised and pleased to receive these letters, but as time wore on, year after year, the letters got annoying. The dead man wrote about things no longer relevant to their lives. One person said they even stopped reading the letters. They had moved on. Let the dead keep their dead. The past belongs there. Regret is a waste of the present, which is all that matters.

1 comment:

Dr. Larry Mitchell said...

"Regret is a waste of the present, which is all that matters."