Monday, March 15, 2004

Oh My Papas

I fianlly remembered to ask my father, the dear and ultra anagrammatic Raul Stanati, about the song. Do you remember, I asked, a song you used to sing, something about a train and a waystation ? Maybe by Randall Thompson ?

No. He did not.

I sang a few bars. Badly, tentatively. I do not sing. Cannot, will not, must not sing. Period. But I sang. Mumble-sang, actually. My non-singing has something to do with having singing parents, some warped oedipal and/or electrical thing. I reference the old black and white photos of my parents onstage singing Gilbert & Sullivan at teachers' college. They are making beautiful music together. (Stroking her beard.) Primal scene ? Where is the Alienist when I need him ?

Now I must digress further. The Alienist -- and I called him that in my journals decades before he became (in)famous for his studies of alien abductions -- sent me to an EST-like workshop called, if I remember correctly, "Relationships" in Boston in 1984. The group leader was an arrogant, sadistic little shit who reminded me of Groucho Marx. One participant was given a nightmare task. She had to do what she feared most. She had to sing in front of the group. She stood there for long, long minutes, paralyzed, trembling, staring at the floor, unable to open her mouth. I felt every moment of her pain as if it were my own.

Groucho's working the interrogation rooms at Gitmo these days, I feel it in my bones.

So I've made progress. I actually sang for my father. He remembered the song, but not the composer. And he still loves me, despite the singing. I love calling him "Raul Stanati." It is a dashing, swarthy, romantic name for my dashing, swarthy romantic father. Who could indeed have been played by late, wonderful actor Raul Julia.

You will understand why "Alan Turista" would not have done at all.

Has there been equivalent progress in resolving the psychoanalytic transference ?

I would like to be able to say Him ? Oh, he went right off the deep end. A sad case. Or, Recovered memories ? Of alien abductions ? Isn't a psychiatrist supposed to make people less crazy ?

But if I said that he might not love me anymore.

So, to preserve that imagined love and approbation, I find myself entertaining the notion that people are brought up beams of light into spaceships. By little gray aliens. Who probe them and impregnate them. On some alternate, spiritual plane of reality. To warn us all of impending ecological armageddon.

Oh, dear.

I loved and love The Alienist. He was a wonderful doctor. Kind, respectful, attentive, faithful, insightful. Being in psychoanalysis with him was a transformative event in my life. But, gosh.

Well, maybe it's all metaphor, interpretable in the same way a dream is. Just a latter day just-as-implausible alternative to Freud's poles and holes and castration anxiety. Just a different schema, language.

Signs are arbitrary, right ? And the author, that disreputable Mr Kurtz behind the oz screen, he's dead, isn't he ? And the self is a fiction, easily deconstructable ? Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner ? The rain in spain ? A painted rice cake ? Daddy, headshrink, guru, pope !

Who wrote that song ?

I'll never know. It's a lovely tune. Simple, plaintive, slightly melancholy.

I sit alone in a waystation.

Did we dream it ?

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