with a bite
“threat (n.) Old English þreat …
… “crowd, troop,” also “oppression, menace,” … from PIE *trud- “push, press”
“press (v.) … “to press against, …
… exert pressure,” also “assault, assail;” … from Old French presser “squeeze, press upon; torture”
“press (n.) … “device to squeeze juice from grapes, …
… oil from olives, cider from apples, etc“
“pressure (n.) … late 14c., “suffering, anguish; act or fact of pressing on the mind or heart“
A little while ago I promised my friend Max an article that offered something better than sex.
What’s more this ‘something’ does not require the presence of any other person, object, place or knowledge.
No wrist action is involved.
And despite the cryptic opening to this article, sadomasochism is not part of its agenda.
This is that article.
~ ~ ~
“mad (adj.) … late 13c … “out of one’s mind” (usually implying also violent excitement) … “rendered insane“.“
You see it seems to me, that at some point in our lives, our minds were forced out of their full-bodied experience & …
… stuffed insanely down
Where they have been trapped …
… ever since.
Today we investigate the notion that we are a language-drugged society whose personal drug-lab is located in our throats.
How many of the following apply to you? Do you
read in your throat?
‘word’ in your throat?
think in your throat?
hold fear in your throat?
attack from your throat
shut out the world
with your throat?
How many of you relocated your heart …
to your throat?
What is going on in your throat right now?
“Try to read while you’re humming, hissing, or whistling – and the words will mean nothing to you. Anything that interferes with your ability to speak your words to yourself stops reading cold …
… Reading by speaking the words silently is a habit you picked up when your first learned to read. Remember how you read aloud to the class until your teacher instructed you to read to yourself instead? That was the same as reading out loud except you didn’t let the sound come out. As you read this, hold your fingers to the sides of your throat, and you’ll feel your vocal chords at work“
When we exchange life for words we lose our reality. How can your life have solidity when you replace objects with a sound.
Children experience the world as it REALly is, but are schooled into translating life into words.
Over the years their bodies are ‘stilled’, and movement is relegated to their tongue and voice box. This is a crime against their well-being:
- forcing children to ‘word’ puts them at a massive disadvantage because they do not have the years of experience with word-sword techniques that the adult has.
- our language is a court-format language where proof is demanded, alibis are required & sense must be rationalised – again & again this structure denies the reality of children’s felt -body experience.
A superb way to restrict movement
on a landmass is to …
… take out, or control,
The throat is the …
between brain & heart/body.
Our throats are now used to squeeze the juiciness out of experience & leave it dried. What should work as an ‘energy transit’ has become a device for …
… compacting life into words.
Our words must be shaped & phrased in a highly specific way so that everyone can find their way round our descriptions without thinking.
Rather like …
Do words block the heart from experiencing?
We started out with the word threat – this can be rearranged into ‘hatter‘ – taking us back into madness:
“[When] The Hatter … tried to sing for the Queen of Hearts at her celebration, she sentenced him to death for “murdering the time,” … The tea party, when Alice arrives, is characterised by … making short, personal remarks, asking unanswerable riddles and reciting nonsensical poetry, all of which eventually drive Alice away“
Did the Queen of Hearts recognise …
… the threat to life (‘murdering the time’) that is caused by “madness in the throat”?
For when the throat is jammed with words & fear, the heart must be put under a great pressure.
It’s one thing to contemplate (& maybe even agree) that our throats are choked. It’s quite another to hunger for our throat-bridges to return to their proper function.
If you don’t know that you want something, …
… how can you build up the necessary tension to create it?
So let’s go on a journey back into your body via the book Teach Us to Sit Still: A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing by Tim Parks. Parks is a well known writer, but this book is something quite different.
Let’s get familiar with Park’s story:
“My body seemed alien and malignant. We couldn’t get comfortable together. Perhaps I am a parasite in my own flesh I thought and now the landlord has had enough. In the past I’d always imagined I owned the place”
“I had begun to envy people who were indisputably ill. I wanted to be seriously, seriously ill myself, so that people could see my condition and it would all be out in the open and someone would have to do something“
In his searing search for understanding and health, Parks took a writer’s journey – he traveled via word. Yet his willingness to question his very livliehood, the use of ‘words’ makes this tale a far stronger medicine:
“Do I try to write stories, I wondered now, because in general I have such a weak grip on the story of my own life? … Your stories and your illness are pathetically mixed up, I told myself … Every illness is a narrative“
His willingness to question himself & the way he lived (& the way other writers have lived), also strengthens the case made by Alice Miller about artists & their childhoods, but that’s another article.
He becomes fascinated with a painting by Velasquez – it speaks to him, but without words:
“This is silly. Like when I started thinking of the waterseller’s fig as the prostate. Yet I notice that my mind is more at ease with these eccentric analogies than with the information onslaught of the net. I have the impression they bring me closer to some truth about my condition, but in the way dreams do. Something important is staring you in the face, only you can’t decode it. It wont come out in word“
He begins a journey back into his body – attempting to get there without words:
“I was supposed to be paying attention, to tension.
But not verbalising.
I couldn’t feel any tension. Just the itch. Otherwise, what surprised me was a growing sense of space. Being very awake …
… I was alone in a strange brooding landscape; under a low sky, I thought , damp hills perhaps, but invisible“
Again & again he finds words marching through his inner landscape:
“You are supposed to be concentrating wordlessly and thoughtlessly on tension … The pain surged to the fore. It was strong. You deal with pain by keeping in constant motion, I realised now. That was the truth. Even when I was still, I moved … That kept the pain at bay. And when my body was still my mind moved …
… My mind was in constant motion. All day every day“
“You are supposed not to be thinking.
Or not supposed to be thinking.
Or supposed to be not thinking.
I moved the not. Language is always on the move“
But there comes a day when his body begins to breathe:
“A sea swell of pulses were criss-crossing the muscles. The tension in my cheeks was exactly superimposed over the tension in my calves, The two seemed to be the same … Parts of the body were calling back and forth to each other with little rippling pulsations …
Stop describing it!
Suddenly my belly drew a huge breath, absolutely unexpected, and a great warm wave flooded down my body from top to toe.
I nearly drowned. Shocked and tensed, I sat up and opened my eyes.
‘What in God’s name was that?” “
This is a story told in words, but now words are used to give life, not suck it dry:
“In the space of a few weeks, then, the mystery of this ugly, wearying condition had given way to the positive and inviting mystery of the body, the same body I had hitherto studiously ignored … Ignored in favour of interminable …
… overheated mental activity … Like the wave that sometimes swept over me, any discoveries would present themselves when they wanted, when I was ripe for them.
… And for the first time in my life it was a mental task that had nothing to do with words. For decades now, I realised, all purposeful mental activity, for me had been linguistic: writing, thinking, reasoning, teaching, talking … When I did a sport, I turned all the mental side of it into words. I tried to work out in words how to do everything. How to head a goal in football. How to spin my kayak on its tail. … Same with love-making. I worked it out in words …
… Everything had to be lived through language, or it wasn’t lived at all … Then I possessed it“
“… If there was one consolation … it was that many of those around me were not much better off. Not many people, I began to notice, were genuinely at ease … the question uppermost in my mind now became; would it be possible to change profoundly, in myself? Would it be possible … to unlearn this tense and somehow, I felt, language-driven behaviour?“
Parks’ return-journey to his body demands the embodied experience of feeling, as opposed to wording:
“But this morning I didn’t make it to the food. Leaving the meditation room, you stepped into the small garden …
… On the threshold, I felt a sob rising from chest to throat.
The novelty of the experience was that I was not feeling unhappy in any way. Rather the contrary. Also unusual was my immediate appreciation that what was happening was beyond the usual social controls. My body had decided to sob, the way when it’s ill, it decides to vomit.
I stepped aside to let the others pass and, to hide my face, turned to look out over the low garden parapet across the broad valley with its shreds of cloud and shafts of sunlight …
The weeping burst on my like a storm. I shook.
The crisis lasted half an hour. On two occasions I tried to go in to eat – I was hungry – but each time the emotion surged up with renewed force. My throat ached so I sat on a stone table under a pergola and continued to gaze through my tears across a valley which seemed intensely part of the experience, as if, there were nothing separating self and outside – I was truly in this huge panorama, mind and body, weeping.
Then, as though a voice were calling a class register, name after name was announced to my mind, people I knew or had known; and together with the names came faces, bodies, vivid expressions and gestures. One after another, faster and faster, these folk were crowding into consciousness. It was as if were some carefully engineered surprise party, a door had been thrown open and I was confronted with everyone who ever mattered to me … they were all here beside me …
… on the terrace under the pergola looking out over the valley … Like most people, I have sometimes been very unhappy, and sometimes very happy. But there had never been this outpouring, nor this feeling of being present, a mere witness, while something necessary unfolded. Had I wanted to resist I could not have done so“
No matter how great the experience, we are still brought back to words:
“The next meditation session was not till eight a.m., and retiring to my bed in the meantime, I called up a thousand bookish references to get a fix on what had just happened to me, to turn it, as always, into words.
… I laughed and discovered something that has served me well since: the more we threaten thought and language with silence, or simply seek to demote them in our lives from the ludicrous pedestal on which our culture and background have placed them, then the more fertile, in their need to justify and assert themselves, they become. Reflection is never more exciting than when reflecting on the damage reflection does, languages never more seductive that when acknowledging its unreality“
So here then is the thing
that is better than sex.
To live with moments & then more moments, without words in your throat.
It’s hard work, sometimes you think it is easy, but how did you think it was easy except by saying those words to yourself.
When there are no words in your throat, the world becomes super real – isn’t that kind of what you search for with drugs and sex. The exquisiteness of the moment – but with drugs & sex the ‘super-reality’ we are seeking is not how things are, but how we want them to be.
Without words in the throat
things are just exactly as they are.
Tragically we have lost our taste for reality. And that’s probably why we have to stuff words or food or drink or drugs into our throats. Yet if we can get past, or at least allow ‘reality’, it seems to have an almost erotic quality – a long lost sensuality that has nothing to do with sexual orientation:
“Things as they are. This bowl. The table … My hand. The blemished skin, a scarred knuckle, a dirty fingernail. Everything was intensely itself, source at once of fascination and indifference, Scattered crumbs, splashed milk. I gazed at them. As in a Cezanne, each object had been …
… set free from the mesh of human interpretation. A cup beside a slice of melon. Absolutely themselves. I say words now – cup, melon – but my mind at the time was wordless. The cup, the melon, were things without words, not in relation, not part of a sentence or a story. And there was no distance between us. I was in the cup, …
… I was sticky with melon. Raising my eyes, I looked at the young man across the table, cheeks freshly shaven, a red T-shirt, a tattoo on his middle finger. The tattoo mimicked a ring, etched into his skin. I watched. He was holding a biscuit, using a knife to smear it with pink jam. It was too intense. The jam was too pink. The strong fingers too present. I was touching them. The fingers were touching me. Watching was touching. Words protect us perhaps …
… Words keep the world at bay. I say that now. The thought didn’t occur to me then. I was tongue-tied, there in the middle of it all. I really was right there“
Coming back to right here may require releasing our extreme dependence on words & finding other ways to communicate. Neither nature, nor our bodies, have words yet they have survived for eons.
Perhaps also the time has come to find ways to
use our language to build bridges,
instead of shutting them down.
~ ~ ~
Text in this colour from Teach Us to Sit Still – Tim Parks
“Mary was a native women in her early forties, …
… slight of stature, gentle and deferential in manner … My heart still warms – and constricts with sorrow – when I think of Mary.“
Sometimes synchronicity is so big that you go right past the ‘flashing-light & drum-roll phenomenon’ into a kind of disbelief, where all you can do is work with its immensity.
This happened just a hop, skip and a jump after I posted game of thorns. If you didn’t read that article (or if you need a reminder) go back and at least read the first few paragraphs.
Right after finishing that article I began reading a book that had caught my eye at the library. On the first page I was introduced to Mary:
“Mary and I had never talked much until the illness that was to take her life gave its first signals. The beginning seemed innocent enough: a sewing-needle puncture wound on a fingertip failed over several months to heal … Despite several hospitalizations and surgical procedures,
… she was within a year begging for an amputation to rid her of the throbbing ache in her finger. By the time she got her wish the disease was rampant, and powerful narcotics were inadequate in the face of her constant pain“
I completely missed the sync when it happened.
It wasn’t until I woke from sleep the next day that the the ‘holy, holy fuck‘ nonchalantly strolled into my consciousness.
In game of thorns I posed this question:
“Does the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty tell the story of how our spines were put to sleep?
… A curse is placed upon a baby princess, so that on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle & die“
That sync was only half the story.
In my article I suggested that the ‘secret’ or ‘power’ name for our spines/ backs might be …
… the word
The name of the book which opens with Mary’s tale is called When the Body Says No. The author & doctor, Gabor Mate, went on to assert that he believed that Mary’s illness was intricately linked to the fact that she had never learned to say ‘NO’.
“Mary described herself as incapable of saying no … Her major concern continued to be her husband and her nearly adult children , …
… even as her illness became more grave. Was the scleroderma her body’s way of finally rejecting this all-encompassing dutifulness?“
I’m not going to bore you with tales of synchronicity, but I wanted to share the bigness of that because it’s why this particular article exists. When synchronicity speaks lucidly I always pay attention.
Let’s see if it has something for you too.
First off we find the age old tale, ignored for eons:
“One day, almost on a whim, in response to a whisper of intuition that she needed to be heard, I invited Mary to make an hour-long appointment so that she would have the opportunity to tell me something about herself and her life. When she began to talk, it was a revelation. Beneath her meek and diffident manner was a vast store of repressed emotion. Mary had been abused as a child, abandoned and shuttled from one home to another … “I was so scared all the time … but as a seven-year-old I had to protect my sisters. And no one protected me.” She had never revealed these traumas before, not even to her husband of twenty years.”
Truth is punched forth from that paragraph.
First off we have a “healer” – & yet it is only by a hare’s breath, a whim, a whisper, …
… that he finally asks this cherished patient about her story.
Worded & picture fantasists aka the entertainment industry, have bombarded us with the idea that ‘immature adults’ the world over “whine” about childhoods, while weirdos & sickos ‘blame’ …
… their ‘failings‘ on their parents’.
If this wasn’t such dangerous hypnosis, I’d applaud it’s incredible success. We now have a world of people who doom their fellow planet-mates to lives of silent agony, because they prefer to fear, rather than ‘hear’, (heal) their stories.
What if there’s a very basic formula to illness:
Trapped within the host-self’s body,
unheard stories seek
a way out (of the body)
by coding themselves into
What is almost impossible for us to digest, is the level of hurt & cruelty inflicted on pretty much all children since time immemorial – we could surely date it back to the very first time that …
… ‘man was inhuman to man’.
That’s why you can read the following without really feeling upset:
“There was never any respite for her … There was no internal resting place”
“All my life … ever since childhood, I have been having this dream of being buried alive. I lie in my underground coffin, closed in, unable to breathe”
“A child in her situation survives by pretending to herself, and to the world, that she has no needs she cannot take care of herself. One aspect of that pretence is to reduce the perception of emotional stresses to a child-friendly size, a habit that may then last for a lifetime“
… And yet the mind & emotions (your stories) are always made flesh:
“The problem is not lack of feeling but an excess of painful, unmetabolized emotion.”
“psychoneuroimmunology [studies] the indissoluble unity of emotions and physiology … the ways that the psyche – the mind and its content of emotions– profoundly interacts with the body’s nervous system and how both of them, in turn, form an essential link with our immune defences”
“Many doctors over the centuries came to understand that emotions are deeply indicated in the causation of illness or in the restoration of health … Our immune system does not exist in isolation from daily experience”
“Physiologically, emotions are themselves electrical, chemical and hormonal discharges of the human nervous system. Emotions influence – and are influenced by – the functioning of our major organs, the integrity of our immune defences and the working of the many circulating biological substances … Repression – dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm – disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences“
Our doctor (& author) of today’s extracts came to a vitally important understanding:
“In important areas of their lives, almost none of my patients with serious disease had ever learned to say no”
“… they were exposed to acute and chronic stress by their childhood conditioning, … an environmentally conditioned helplessness that permits neither of the normal responses of flight or flight … Eventually, having unmet needs or having to meet the needs of others is no longer experienced as stressful. It feels normal. One is disarmed”
“Disease, in other words, is not a simple result of some external attack but develops in a vulnerable host in whom the internal environment has become disordered“
Now let’s look at one of our most powerful immunity guard dogs:
“Sometimes the biggest impetus to healing can come from jump-starting the immune system with a burst of long-suppressed anger“
Hmmm … is there some underhand reason why the English word anger is spelled so close to Danger.
How would it be if you were to find out that
it’s not really dangerous at all?
The following is delicious & what’s more I can back it up from my life:
“How then to resolve the dilemma of anger? If the expression of anger is harmful and so is its repression, how do we hope to attain health and healing?
I had a fascinating conversation on these two seemingly opposite ways of coping with Allen Kalpin … He points out that repression & rage represent a fear of the genuine experience of anger.
I found Kaplin’s description of genuine anger surprising, even as it rang completely true to me. His explanation made me realize the confusion … about this emotion. Healthy anger, he says, …
… is an empowerment and a relaxation. The real experience of anger “is physiologic experience without acting out“. The experience is one of a surge of power going through the system, along with a mobilization to attack. There is, simultaneously, a complete disappearance of all anxiety.
“When healthy anger is starting to be experienced, you don’t see anything dramatic. What you do see is a decrease of all muscle tension. The mouth is opening wider, because the jaws are more relaxed, the voice is lower in pitch because the vocal cords are more relaxed. The shoulders drop, and you see all signs of muscle tension disappearing … In a tape of one of my clients, he described powerful surges of electricity going through his body … but outwardly he’s just sitting there describing it. If you’re watching the tape without the sound on, you’ll see a person looking quite focused and quite relaxed, but you wouldn’t necessarily even guess that the person was angry.”
If anger is relaxation, then what is rage? When I am in a rage, my face is tight, my muscles are tense and I am sure I look anything but relaxed. Here Dr Kaplin makes a crucial distinction. “The question is, What do people really experience when they experience rage? … If you ask in physical, physiologic terms what they are experiencing in their body … for the most part, people will describe anxiety in one form or another.”
“It’s true,” I said, “tightening of the voice, shallow breathing, muscle tension are signs of anxiety, not of anger.”
“Exactly. Their anger is not physiologically experienced, it is only being acted out.”
“If a person unconsciously fears the power of his aggressive impulses, there are various forms of defence available to him. One … is discharge, by which we regress to an early childhood state …. acting-out, … yelling, … screaming and even hitting … serves as a defence against the experience of the anger …
… Discharge defends against anger being actually experienced.”
The other way we can avoid the experience of anger if through repression. So repression and discharge are two two sides of the same coin. Both represent fear and anxiety“
I’m really hoping you grasped all that,
it may just save your life, or your sanity. Here’s more clarity:
“Anger does not require hostile acting out. First and foremost, it is …
… a physiological process to be experienced. Second it has cognitive value – it provides essential information. Since anger does not exist in a vacuum, if I feel anger it must be in response to some perception on my part. … I am empowered without harming anyone if I permit myself to experience the anger and to contemplate what may have triggered it. Depending on circumstance, I may choose to manifest the anger in some way or to let it go. The key is that I have not suppressed the experience of it.“
Thanks to this book I now understand the quite astonishing (to me) anger I have experienced in the last few years. Brought up in an environment where no anger was tolerated, I avoided confrontation in the most amazing ways & swallowed other people’s attacks by making things ‘my fault’.
I recall with enormous clarity the fantastic turning point a few years ago in a job I had worked at for over ten years. I’d given it everything. My boss, I see clearly now, was a father figure for me, & as in childhood, I poured everything into making a heart-cold man, breathe.
I can keep going for a loooong time – it took four particularly horrible years with this miserable shit before I fell off the perch I was near super-glued to.
When the straw came that broke this camel’s back, it really surprised me. I thought this man would at least try to resolve the issue, but he didn’t. Slowly it dawned on me that even if I tried to explain it would all just be swept away as if it was nothing.
So I protectively held onto my anger. I’d never felt anything like it. It rolled through my body like a storm, over & over & over again. I felt so powerful & alive. I even had a little ‘swearing corner’ in the warehouse where I would go. I held & flowed with that energy like the life-saving storm that it was. I did my job, but withdrew all the ‘nutrition’ that I had poured out from myself for free for so long.
My anger got me fired. Or more accurately slyly & skillfully manouvered out.
I think though that, on some level, it saved my life.
I simply had no energy left, that man had become like a vampire to me. Two wild birds got trapped & died in that place around that time. It felt like a warning.
Since then the anger has returned on a number of occasions. At first it still took the equivalent of a crowbar to pry it out of me, but I have gotten better with practice.
I used to take every nastiness & then turn it around & around to make it right or explainable. I have squeezed myself into the most awful binds rather than experience this feeling.
Now I’d say I’ve got perhaps, an orange belt in anger. And the practice continues..
Please re-read those last extracts – if you understand that, correctly experienced, anger is relaxation, why would you fear it?
What does it have to offer your life & your health?
What does shutting off of it do to your body & your future?
“Excessive emotional involvement with a parent, a lack of psychological independence, and overwhelming need for love and affection, and the inability to feel or express anger have long been identified by medical observers as possible factors in the natural development of the disease [Multiple sclerosis]. A study in 1958 found that in nearly 90 per cent of cases, “before the onset of symptoms … patients experienced traumatic life events that had threatened their ‘security system.‘ “
‘No” is the child of anger.
Why is ‘no‘ one of the first words children learn
& why do they practice it so often?
We have been made to believe that children must be weaned or forced away from this power word, when in reality it is vital to their development. Of course if raising children was all about parents instead of children, then ‘No’ would simply ‘have to go’…
No is how we create boundaries. Without boundaries we can be ‘fucked’ by anyone & we will never be safe:
“Boundaries are learned in our formative years … why did you have to learn boundaries later, the hard way?”
“I knew boundaries, but my mother did not – her inability to recognize where she ended and I began”
“The blurring of psychological boundaries during childhood becomes a significant physiological stress in the adult. There are ongoing negative effects on the body’s hormonal and immune systems”
“Without a clear boundary between himself and his parent, the child remains enmeshed in that relationship. That enmeshment is later a template for his ways of connecting to the rest of the world”
“If there is one lesson to draw from … all the studies we have considered in this book, it is that people suffer when their boundaries are blurred“
This post has been an extension of my article on the spine & on the power of the NO. It came because of an extraordinary sync. I wish you well in your journeys, in the creation of your boundaries & the awesomeness of anger experienced within your body.
“Anger is the energy Mother Nature gives us as little kids to stand forward on our own behalf and say I matter“
“I’ve learned to say no – I say it all the time, I want to live! I think saying no plays a big part in getting better”
~ ~ ~
Text in this colour form When the Body Says No ~ Gabor Mate
Fuck fuck fuck.
It’s all so ‘fucking’ obvious when you start to grasp the most basic underlying structure of the ‘game’ we keep playing, so grotesquely.
Face the pain or
keep playing the game …
… it really does come down to you.
Let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth has been, (especially over the last few months) & give you ‘reasonable cause’ to re-think your stance on the parent issue.
What if I can (reasonably) unsettle the greatness of one of history’s most treasured leaders?
Feel free to bring your knives along
to cut down this post,
but do at least
~ ~ ~
Lately I’ve been working on an article using the ideas of a delightfully, up-front writer. His honesty about years of struggle with chronic illness reached inside me & made a real difference.
As I took notes, I found myself drawn strongly to his musings on …
… Mahatma Gandhi.
So here for your educational pleasure or historical indigestion, is a little post inspired by one man’s astute observations:
The first paragraph gives a little insight into our author’s character & straight up style: (the bold bits are mine to help today’s investigation)
“Flying home from Delhi, I had been very aware that within forty-eight hours of landing I would be anaesthetised in hospital with a rigid instrument skewered through my penis. ‘About as thick as a pencil,’ one website had said. At least it’s the last experiment and we’ll have the final truth.
In the corridor seat I’d asked for, near the bathroom, I read Gandhi’s autobiography, appropriately entitled …
… The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Since I was visiting India it had seemed right to read Gandhi. I was struck by the books excessive reference to diet. Gandhi seemed to remember what he’d eaten, or more hadn’t eaten, every day of his life. ‘Soon after this,’ runs a typical sentence, ‘I decided to live on a pure fruit diet, using only the cheapest fruit possible.’ He imposed these regimes on those around him, his long-suffering wife in particular. No meat, no eggs, no alcohol, no salt, no cereals, no food at all after sundown.
The autobiography is also unusually up front about embarrassing ailments. ‘As a result of the attack of dysentery [brought on by eating groundnut butter] my anal tract had become extremely tender, and owing to fissures I felt an excruciating pain at the time of evacuation, so that the very idea of eating filled me with dread.’
… I puzzled over this strange story as the plane made its steady journey west: almost every aspect of Gandhi’s relationship with his body became a means of imposing his will on others, yet he thought of himself as striving only for purity and universal love.
‘The carnal mind,’ he writes, always lusts for delicacies and luxuries … Instead of controlling the senses, it becomes their slave.’
So he rules out sex with his wife from age thirty-seven; she must also renounce her jewelry.
‘I explained that it was always a good thing to join with others in any matter of self-denial.’
Accordingly, he doesn’t allow a desperately sick child to be given meat broth. He doesn’t allow his dying wife to be injected with antibiotics. Injections are impure. She dies.
Again and again, Gandhi uses the spectacle of…
… his own self-starvation to force his political enemies onto the back foot … His enemies can’t hit back because everyone agrees that self-denial is a positive quality that leads to purity.
The above extract comes from Teach Us To Sit Still (A Sceptic’s Search for Health and Healing) by Tim Parks.
As I re-browsed this book, looking for something quite different, those words on Gandhi insisted on being noticed.
As often happens now, when I hear of high weirdness in some ‘famous’ personage, I get to wondering about their childhood. I was sure that if I looked, drastic echoes would be found in his past.
Most of the world looks out upon this view of Gandhi:
“The word Mahatma means great soul. This name was not given Gandhi at birth by his parents, but many years later by the Indian people when they discovered they had a Mahatma in their midst”
I had to hunt around a bit for his childhood & some sites don’t like to share, but damn it, the world desperately needs to know the reality of its ‘great leaders’.
What was driving them wasn’t ‘genius’ or ‘humanity’ – so often it was fucked-up childhoods that they could not or would not remember. Please read & decide for yourself whether Gandhi was re-running his childhood. The actors may have changed …
… but the story remains painfully the same.
“Gandhi remembered his father as truthful, brave, incorruptible, and short-tempered, but he remembered his mother as a saint.”
“Putlibai was absolutely devoid of weaknesses characteristic for women of her age and class: she was indifferent to …
… fine objects and glamorous jewelry“
“So he rules out sex with his wife from age thirty-seven; she must also renounce her jewelry“
“Putlibai, with children clinging to her, divided her time between the temple and home. Her children were intrigued and fascinated by their mother’s fasts and vows. Frequently Gandhi’s mother would follow a vow not to eat anything until she hears a cuckoo sing. One time the cuckoo had been silent for a very long time. Gandhi, still a baby, could not bear to see his mother starve … he went behind the house and began emulating the bird. Then he came back inside and told his mother that …
… he had heard the cuckoo sing. … Nonetheless, Putlibai was very upset – she knew that her son wanted to deceive her. With tearful eyes, she exclaimed, “What have I done, what sin have I committed to have born a liar of a son!” Notwithstanding that Gandhi’s lie was “saintly”, he vowed that he would never lie again”
“Owing to Putlibai, the image of woman perceived by him was one of love and sacrifice“
‘I decided to live on a pure fruit diet, using only the cheapest fruit possible.’ He imposed these regimes on those around him …
… his long-suffering wife in particular“
“The outstanding impression that my mother has left on my memory is that of saintliness. She was deeply religious …. She would take the hardest vows and keep them without flinching … I can recall her once falling ill when she was observing Chandrayana vow, but the illness was not allowed to interrupt the observance … During another Chaturmas she vowed not to have food without seeing the sun. We children on those days would stand, staring at the sky, waiting to announce the appearance of the sun to our mother. Everyone knows that at the height of the rainy season the sun does not often …
… condescend to show his face. And I remember days when, at his sudden appearance, we would rush and announce it to her. She would run to see with her own eyes, but by that time the fugitive sun would be gone thus depriving her of her meal. “That does not matter” she would say cheerfully, “God did not want me to eat today.“
“… the very idea of eating filled me with dread“
This is really, really sick – there is no other way of seeing it.
What kind of mother inflicts such sadism on her children. They must have lived in fear of her dying, especially considering all the hype and attention she constantly directed to her own refusal to eat.
Were Gandhi’s adult actions those of a severely-traumatised child repeating his past? Why else would there be so much attention to the denial of food while constantly obsessing about it.
What is also very concerning, but can only be guess-work on my part is that he must have carried a buried rage against this woman, and it was this that he covertly took out on his wife:
“So he rules out sex with his wife from age thirty-seven; she must also renounce her jewelry”
“He doesn’t allow his dying wife to be injected with antibiotics. Injections are impure. She dies“
How can the following adjectives all exist in the same sentence as proof of love & care?
“Putlibai’s abounding love, her ascetic resolve and iron will had left an indelible imprint on the soul of her youngest son“
And what was his mother’s history? I found only a whisper – yet I guarantee that cruelty connected to food played a huge part in her upbringing:
“In the 19th century India the girls’ education was strictly religious: since early childhood Putlibai was taught to rigidly observe and honor sacred traditions“
This is not deeply researched. That was not my intention. I simply wanted to introduce a ripple of hesitation in your historical education.
We were given our great leaders – actually they were poured down our throats with a funnel. Now we need to ask:
- ‘What was their real history’?
- ‘What were their real motives’?
How much of history was directed by talented people who were deeply twisted by traumatic childhoods?
~ ~ ~
I refer you to Alice Miller’s work for in-depth & penetrating clarity.