“I have to block out thoughts of you so I don’t lose my head/ they crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed/dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I’m alone/playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home/there’s a burning in my pride, a nervous bleeding in my brain/an ounce of peace is all I want for you/will you never call again…” —Blue October “Hate Me”

When we let ourselves feel fear, the discontent, the difficulties we have always avoided, our heart softens…allow ourselves to be touched by the pain of life…The knowledge that we can do this and survive helps us to awaken the greatness of our heart. With greatness of heart, we can sustain a presence in the midst of life’s suffering…We can open to the world–its ten thousands joys and ten thousand sorrows. ***With wise understanding we ALLOW OURSELVES TO CONTAIN ALL THINGS, BOTH DARK AND LIGHT, AND WE COME TO SENSE OF PEACE…THE PEACE WE FIND IN THE HEART THAT HAS REJECTED NOTHING, THAT TOUCHES ALL THINGS WITH COMPASSION.


“In any event, as regards the correlation between mind and body, we may note…that the poet will naturally tend to write about that which most deeply engrosses him–and nothing more deeply engrosses a man than his burdens, including those of a physical nature, such as disease. We win by capitalizing on our debts, by turning our liabilities into assets, by using our burdens as a basis of insight.” –Kenneth Burke


    “One doesn’t become an artist overnight. First you have to be crushed, to have your conflicting points of view annihilated. You have to be wiped out as a human being in order to be born again as an individual. You have to be carbonized and mineralized in order to work upwards from the last common denominator of the soul. You have to go beyond ity in order to feel from the very roots of your being.” ——The Tropic of Capricorn
    “Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.” –Lawrence Kraus
    • Virginia Woolf

      “I hazard the explanation that a shock is at once in my case followed by the desire to explain it…I make it real by putting it into words.”
      • Steve Almond on Writing

        “We all do hurtful things, not because we’re evil, but because our love somehow gets distorted. When you write a certain kind of non-fiction, you’re trying to discover and trace those points where your love got whacked.”
        Anais Nin: Risk And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to Blossom.
      MUTABLE EARTH—“…So you couldn’t protect yourself? The absolute erodes; the boundary, the wall around the self erodes. If I was waiting I had been invaded by time. But do you think you’re free? I think I recognize the patterns of my nature. Bud do you think you’re free? I had nothing and I was still changed. Like a costume, my numbness was taken away. Then hunger was added.” —Louise Gluck, from Vita Nova
      FIRST MEMORY (Louise Gluck)–Long ago, I was wounded. I lived to revenge myself against my father, not for what he was– for what I was: from the beginning of time, in childhood, I thought that pain meant I was not loved. It meant I loved.

      Memory believes before knowing remembers –W. Faulkner

      I have woven a parachute out of everything broken. My scars are my shielf. –W. Stafford

      • Elsewhere by Christian Wiman (Everything Riven)

        He longs to find some calm within what he’s become, inside the sound, a roaming stillness. It seems so close, as if he might, even now, blink and be there, restored, prepared, whispering all he remembers.


“Men should discover their past.  I admit to this.  It has been my profession.  Only so can we learn our limitations and come in time to suffer life with compassion.  Nevertheless, I now believe there are occasions when…to tamper with the past, even one’s own, is to bring on that slipping, sliding horror which revolves around all that is done, unalterable, and yet which abides unseen in the living mind…(and makes) us lonely beyond belief.”  –Loren Eiseley

Louis Gluck, Vita Nova–

“…I had nothing and I was still changed.  Like a costume, my numbness was taken away.  Then hunger was added.”

Theodore Roethke “In a Dark Time”  –dark, dark my light/and darker my desire

Richard Price–

Anyone who’s a writer or painter –or anything in the Arts–is no portrait of mental health.  I have to be an artist, I HAVE to take this loneliness and make it work–it’s not a happy or a proud choice, it’s a desperate one.


“Forget your personal tragedy, we are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously.  But when you get the damned hurt use it–don’t cheat with it.  Be as faithful to it as a scientist–but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you…”

Alice Hoffman:

“In my experience, ill people become more themselves, as if once the excess is stripped away only the truest core of themselves remained…writers don’t choose their craft, they need to write in order to face the world.”

From Melnick’s “Forecast”:

…It’s your knack for faith

that keeps me begging for

beauty in the rotting soil.

Tell me how I grew from


tell me how lethal, how lovely

I am.”

Toni Morrison:

“If there’s a book that you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it…without writing your stuck with life.”

John Ashbery “Late Echo”

…Alone with our madness and favorite flower we see that there really is nothing left to write about, or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things in the same way, repeating the same things over and over.  Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally; And the color of the day put in hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter for it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.  Only then can the chronic inattention of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory  And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows that speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.

Charles Wright: “It’s only in darkness you/can see the light, only/from emptiness that things start to fill.”

NORMAN MAILER (love love love him):

“Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment.  The final purpose of art is to intensify, even, if necessary, to exacerbate, the moral consciousness of people.  Writing books is the closest men ever come to child-bearing.  When I read it, I don’t wince, which is all I ever ask for a book I write…”


My footprint has glittered

upon the depths of a distant


My eyes have reached to

the blue horizon

where the singing dawn


of a bound love.

And within the brief circle

in which I live,


is a star in orbit

traversing my wounded


“Brendan” from the Blog “Oran’s Well

“Myths ‘go down, walk three nights in darkness and return’–harrowing the most hellish depths of the soul.  It’s the essence of shamanaic initiation, going mad, being hauled down the to the underworld where demons tear the initiate apart and reassemble her on a soul-forage that is fifty percent deadly…..


Maybe the damage is important to keep us writing, to keep us growing–so we can live, love, even praise the thing that damn near killed us.  How could we have come to write otherwise? and end up half way decent human beings?  I see such powerful possibility in you now taking wing–there really is greatness in your writing.  Your outreach to fellow sufferers through your willingness to be relentlessly truthful, to be supportive, part of a healing community–is essential, too I think.”  (commenting on one of my blog posts)


“the fascination with nuclear physics and neuroscience and cosmology must come to us out of the unknowable centers of our greatest damage and gift: a parallel condition, a cognitive co-opt where the warp becomes a part of nature, our damage born out by the way the universe itself evolves…and why not?…like learning love…You elucidate a string theory of psyche (and psychic damage) that sprawls and spirals out from that source…the emergence of our consciousness–and the unraveling of selves follows a strange, exhilarating, terrifyingly limitless set of possibilities, each just as real…”   (in response to my “A Trauma Theory“)


on commenting on “Heart No Mind”: “It’s shamanic in a way, falling all that way in darkness and getting reassembled down there, pen in hand.”………”Like Jung said of Joyce’s daughter Lucia–she drowned where the artist-father swam.”

and, finally, Brendan understanding the whole concept of my blog after reading “The Memoir Begins“:

“your narrative, your memoir, is the sanity (or coming to sanity) of a self measured out and accounted for over time, for better or worse.  All of these rough, “small” parts are the DIFFICULT DEGREES, and assembling them together gives them presence on the page; the beauty and horror here wind around a life’s whole, and the grace that comes in the final sentence to me rings like the freedom that comes from acceptance, which is not the same as approval but allows what is to be so the story can go on.  You’re a terrific writer and your story has so much value–not only to your eventual life in the telling, but for those who’vee been there….sick things pale in the light—that’s the salvation in honesty–and also show that the heart is never beyond salvage, beyond growth.  Keep it coming.”

(I read that a lot when I’m stuck)


You are what your deep,

driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.



Girl children who display a strong instinctive nature often experience significant suffering in early life.  From the time they are babies, they are taken captive, domesticated, told they are wrong-headed and improper.  Their wildish natures show up early.  They are curious, artful, and have gentle eccentricities of various sorts, ones that, if developed, will constitute the basis for their creativity for the rest of their lives.  Considering that the creative life is the soul’s food and water, the basic development is excruciatingly critical.

Early exile…basic self of the psyche is wounded early on.  When this happens, a girl begins to believe that the negative images her family and culture reflect back to her about herself are not only totally true but are also totally free of biases, opinion, and personal preference.  The girl begins to believe that she is weak, ugly, unacceptable, and that this will continue to be true no matter how hard she tries to reverse it.

**sickness, suffering, and death are manifestations of the body’s inherent wisdom, to which we only have to surrender to reach area of perception capable of revealing the true basis of existence.

**Sickness is a call for self-realization, self-development, and in extreme cases a varity  of shamanic initiation.

more from A PATH WITH HEART by Jack Cornfield:

intense spiritual emergence: process may go by many names: shamanistic, gnosis, and the psychotic–visionary episode, PTSD with psychotic features, the dark night of the soul, kundalini,  awakening, mysticism, INDIVIDUATION, self-actualization, alchemy, spiritual emergency, schizophrenia, psychosis, initiation, the hero’s journey, awakening, EGO DEATH….


Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled, made nothing?

Are you willing to be made nothing?

dipped into oblivion?

If not, you will never really change.


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