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July [22] 2008

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Cosmography                                       (Click to expand image)               


FOOTBALL IS MY PRIEST

July [21] 2008

(Poem)


Training camp opens

my anxiety of mid-July

as football is my priest.

It calms and comforts me.


Preseason is my pretender.

It brings my wife hope for

the family when I work

to fake disinterest into August.


Scoring extra points

I now vow to take

long weekend marathons

with the kids to Sea World

(as if roster deadlines

and the crucial final cuts

have slipped my mind completely).


But come each new September

my real service I now remember,

as I can no longer pretend.

In truth, I am a religious man,

and football is my priest.

It shows me the glory of God

and the powers of forgiveness.


On Sunday morning hours of worship,

I pray that SHE will have a vision

of the rapture and redemption

with the faith of a believer

in the sprinting wide receiver,

Pray that SHE will glide and plunder

like a devil as she throws it

flat between the sacred numbers

loud and hard as Noah’s thunder,

six quick points of sweet salvation

“All rise now on this occasion–

Say it brother— “HALLELUJAH!”

1995

 

A reader from America’s heartland comments: “Oh crap. This is so depressing.”  Francine S. Neudahl, Racine Wisconsin.

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE TAROT RESEARCH PROJECT (Full study published in final three chapters of Rosengarten’s Tarot And Psychology: Spectrums Of Possibility (2000)

Divination, Love, And Violence:

A Pilot Study of Tarot and Spousal Abuse

By Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D.

“What to the causal view is fact, to the final view is symbol.”  C. G. Jung

A Divine Logic That Is Hidden

From sage lips to spry ears it’s been whispered down through the ages: wisdom is different than logic. Empty of the bias which muddies human perception, the logic of the divine flows more like a fresh running river.  It is deep and clear, cool and nonpersonal, unfixed and nonlocalized.  Though accessed from a transcendent source,  its flow is nevertheless closer to the natural order.  It is immune to those arbitrary bad habits of cultural bias and conventional thinking which, in the final analysis, may rest on no logic at all.

At first suggestive of the scientific perspective for its objectivity,  divine logic extends its gaze well beyond the quantifiable universe of conventional science into those hidden regions of experience generally deemed invisible and immeasurable. The word divination (the vehicle of divine logic) stems from the Latin root divinatio, meaning: “the faculty of foreseeing” or “vision of the Gods.”   And while occasionally scientific and divine perspectives will overlap, divine knowledge is made available mainly through metaphysical or depth psychological channels. Inherent in Jung’s notion of unconscious compensation is inferred the workings of some internal divine logic guiding the individual towards psychological wholeness:

Final causes, twist them how we will, postulate a foreknowledge of some kind.  It is certainly not a knowledge that could be connected with the ego, and hence not a conscious knowledge as know it, but rather a self-subsistent “unconscious” knowledge which I would prefer to call “absolute knowledge.” 1

The Logic Of The Lovesick

As for our ordinary, conventional way of thinking, what generously passes for “human logic,” upon closer examination often reveals what may be described as “loose bundles” of logical fallacy and cognitive distortion. The so-called “emotional reasoning” of modern cognitive therapists, the unique thought-engine that drives human passions, has historically served as both asset and liability.  It is to the liability side of the ledger that this discussion looks.

One need only imagine the assorted array of psychological voice and odd behavior that collects beneath the umbrella of “love” and the difference becomes all the more painful.  Particularly within the smaller subset of romantic and marital affiliation, the human logic of “love” points in practice to multidimensional collages of expectancy and belief, to thoughts and feelings often dramatically removed from stated intentions or self-perceptions.  Love relationships are like heavy human sponges saturated in the multiple oils of complex individualized belief systems.  The “real stuff” of them is always a private blend.   Moreover, a large portion of subjective “love” constructions are rarely expressed directly between partners.  The silent credos that animate our soliloquizing “self talk” most often remain unacknowledged, marginally aware, or fully unconscious to the individuals themselves.

Human logic as it appears when “love-stricken” is reflected humorously in the opening stanza of the poem by Charles Simic entitled Marked Playing Cards:

I took my TV and bass fiddle to the pawnshop.

Then I had my car stolen and everything in it.

This morning I’m down to a windbreaker and house slippers,

But I feel cheerful, even though it’s snowing.

This proves she loves me, I said to the crowd

Waiting for the bus. They were afraid to look my way.2

Although the subject matter here described is infatuation and romantic abandon, the poem captures a universal subjectivity that is easily identified, and forgiven.  Inflation,  flamboyance, loss (even car theft) have endearing touches as epiphenomena of love’s madness.  Such subjective outpourings of human logic, however skewed, often make for sympathetic verse.  But wisdom (to say nothing of basic sanity) will shy away from such open displays much like the others at the bus station.  Too little endures in this wide-eyed realm to build upon or to serve, too much lability and passion obstruct a suitable site to hang one’s philosophical hat on.

At the shadowy tail of such folly we encounter not “love-sickness” but something closer to love’s terminal illness. For in the darker domains of domestic dysfunction, we confront an unthinkable paradox: love mixed with violence. Here an aberration of human logic may explode into violent actions like shards from a terrorist’s bomb, honed towards the very objects one purportedly loves, cherishes, and vows to protect.  And within each tragic scenario of domestic violence there stands a strange (though apparently common), distinctly human, brand of logic.  A thinking process that self-justifies aggression behind some grand distortion,  misattribution,  noncommunication, or hostile takeover. “Because she did A, I did B,” he explained.

Sadly, in the great majority of cases this emotional logic leaves a victimized woman in serious peril and risk of bodily harm from the very man who is her purported partner. An unthinkable paradox, yet from its own side, i.e. within the strange reasonings of perpetrator and victim, there exists a logic (of sorts) to these actions. Sense is made of them.  Justice, however short-lived, is served by them.  While potentially more pernicious still is the developing twig of logic lodged between the terror and the heartbreak, that intrudes upon the vulnerable small brain of a child who has witnessed the ugly battering of (typically) her mother by her father.  Unavoidably, spousal abuse becomes a family affair.

For the victimized child-witness, a new set of core beliefs will be formulated from the logic of violence, composing in memory what cognitive therapists would term the “core assumptions” about self, others,  and the world.  Left uncorrected, such beliefs will be incorporated into the very fabric of personality, constructing the so-called character structure, and will be destined to “play out” in future situations.  Destiny in such cases is the predictable after-effect of clear psychological causes. Pathological determinism.

A Very Strange Onion

A recent survey article in Psychology Today on family violence makes the following curious pronouncement:

Researchers and clinicians (many of them hard-core feminists) now peering into the very heart of domestic violence find, even to their own surprise, that it is far more complex, and far less dark, than most had imagined.3

The article claims that in the emerging new picture of domestic violence,  researchers are finding that spouse abuse is like “a very strange onion–the product of many forces operating and interacting at many levels between an individual and his environment.”  But unfortunately, outside the research laboratory, the social scientist cannot peer easily into the heart of that strange onion.  What he knows well is merely the outer skin.

Scientific study is not well-equipped to penetrate the inner dimensions of human logic. The problem with classical scientific method when dealing with psyche is that mental events are not clearly distinguished nor are they independent from each other. There is no clear flowing of influence from one event to the next as (allegedly) with outer physical events. And psychological time is not linear or unambiguous, quite to the contrary.4 “Softer” techniques such as projective tests, dream analysis, art therapy and other such methods which attempt to pry open the covered vaults of the soul are more typically utilized by clinician than research psychologist.  Their tools are more akin to worm and hook than crowbar or chisel, and they are subject to the unfavorable conditions that have frustrated many a fisherman. Scientific method, a more precise sport,  demands working with concrete and quantifiable data before objective causal relationship can be established.   In domestic violence, the objective researcher is more likely to inventory outer behavioral manifestations of a syndrome, then control, quantify, and correlate them with other behavioral markers or target populations, and finally attempt to incorporate the findings into an hypothetical model or paradigm of belief for experimenatal replication based on (what else) conventional scientific logic. (Logic that postulates if an effect has no discernable cause, it may very well not exist!).  

Patiently, the objective researcher must await fresh experimental outbreaks before his instruments can lock on to a cause, test an hypothesis, or at least correctly place pieces of the puzzle.  But today, acts of violence are still predicted mainly by previous acts of violence. So-called “pathological determinism. The rest remains theoretical and often controversial.  Mapping is near impossible in the dark, thus the objective researcher must watch and wait, anxiously.

Metaphysics On Mainstreet

Far from the plastic tubes and stainless steel casings that house laboratory instruments meant to register “autonomic physiologic arousal response patterns” in couples at risk (Jacobson5),  the paradox of love may show its truer colors in the subjective psyches of perpetrator and victim themselves, albeit,  hidden within concealed compartments beneath the human sea.  But how to access them?

Direct self-reports and testimonials, unfortunately, fail to reveal anything deeper than the presented human logic of the subject himself, at best providing an inferred phenomenology of the onion’s outer layers, at worst, a distorted, ego-contaminated piece of information that lacks sufficient evidence, corroboration, and cross-examination. One need only to be reminded of the recent “trial of the century” in Southern California to grasp the inherent limitations of such an approach.

On the other end of the spectrum is dream analysis, which reveals arguably the deepest if not purist drop into the sea of the human psyche, though unfortunately, dreamwork too suffers as a method of group study for several practical and theoretical reasons.  As any analyst will likely agree, a dream “report” is a sketchy, ego-mediated tale, that often morphs away from the actual event much like the original communique passed along by children in the game of telegraph.  A lot gets lost in the translation.  Even if this margin of error were accounted for, dream analysis, while unparalleled for inner forecasting and navigation within the hermetically-sealed container of analyst and analysand, will otherwise fare poorly before a large and less motivated, non-analytical, sample of resistive subjects;  certain thorny practical problems will emerge, namely,  inconsistent recall, troublesome control and collection of data, noncompliance, noninterest, not to mention the more academic theoretical-interpretative disagreements of clinicians themselves, to name but a few.  How then could a researcher uncover unconscious tendencies shared by individuals within a defined behavioral sub-group?

————————————————–

Domestic Violence Through A Synchronistic Lens


The Tarot Research Project, as I’ve officially dubbed it, began in late August of 1996 when in the spirit of both researcher and metaphysician (and using some advantage as clinical psychologist ) I proceeded to contact treatment centers in my own Southern California locale that provide community-based services for recovering perpetrators and/or recovering victims of spouse abuse and family violence. I approached various program directors for permission to speak to their closed recovery groups regarding my research with Tarot.  I was fortunate to find two such programs that were receptive enough to begin this pilot study.[See Rosengarten’s COMPLETE STUDY in TAROT AND PSYCHOLOGY: Spectrums of Possibility (Paragon, 2000), including Art’s brilliant and entertaining discussion of “synchronicity,” and the details of this landmark study’s experimental design, statistical analysis, findings, two experimental case studies, and its fascinating conclusions: Order directly from publisher: http://www.paragonhouse.com/Publicity/tarot.htm

CATS AND DOGS

July [18] 2008

(Poem)

tarot-cat-justice-blog

Of the two I prefer the cat,

yet frankly through this harried life

I’ve been sniffed, watered, and barked at

by the dingle-brained dog

PEOPLE, and that’s no cowbone Fluffy…

SITTTTT!


Dogpeople, you

seem so charmed by drooling jowls

and neurotic tails that wag for you.

You ask:  Does a dog have buddha-nature?

I will tell you —

No, he does not.

With all due respect to you Lassie and Toto,

learn some friggin new  tricks, won’t you?


As a freely converted catperson today

I much prefer

to earn my loyalties should we befriend,

not hook them in like muslim zealots

with brownish stale dead horse-MEAT pellets,

nor tickle their soft tender breasted red bellies,

nor rejoice in their self-sniffing foul jellies.

Dogmeat for hire. Stop rolling in it Rover.

Could it be much worse?


You mangy dogmatics may think us snidely “cool cat” types —

your regular back-alley mice-spikers and the like

but for us it’s the momentary things

that dot our yellow eyes

like an empty paperbag on the floor

or any other unfilled space to explore.

After all, are not all compounded things

but empty bags on the floor?


And that allergy thing’s a feeble excuse

you dogpeople use

to mask your AGORA (not An gora )

PHOBIA in some arcane quasi-medical truth.

Dander panderers I call you. Scarfing your liver Alpo.

Hey Sparky: bubbling slobber does not a beef gravy make!


But the true catperson worth his pus ‘n boots

is not some dry and heartless cad (or cod)

insofar as cold-blooded lizards get mouthed by his pet,

nor is he or she CATTY because

urine bleached carseats will need a good week’s airing

after those terror trips to the neighborhood VET.


I would simply ask you–

Is not unflinching ledge-leaping a thing of higher beauty?


Sure you dogpeople have your park partners to walk with–

those fluffy emanations of animalia

proudly fetching your wet, gummed, and peeling

red rubber pooch balls–

Oh great fun my little wagging man!  Woof.


But the pure land of cat love

leaves no scent of self-cherishing

upon the elegant soft-striped front paw,

nor will it officiate blue ribbons of obediance

upon the purring, self-purifying sandpapery tongue;


We catpeople are offended

by all forms of pet trickery–

your canine’s boney carcass healing on its hindlegs,

Little Frenchie wagging her white button

as she oils your oleander leaves

us to regurgitate like the mentally-challenged cow–

we transcend this slave and masterhood

when left simply to behold sweet Miss Tabatha’s

perfect tracking of one tedious housefly,

or the supreme mystery of nine lives,

or the universal, indeed legendary, disdain

for all bodies of water

(perhaps it is more a wise reverence)

like an old jungle soul from the days of the first tigers…


(Oh please, no growling dogpeople)–

We already fear your fangs

and detest your incessant yapping.

And FORGET about trying to train us otherwise.

We don’t take kindly to training thank-you–

a simple squirt of catnip will suffice.

Purr puppiedog people, lick your paws and purr.


1993

Postscript: I’ve recently be chastened by the new love of my life, my cockapoo Abbey Rose (or “Budgie”).  Sorry dogpeople, no offense meant.  We hope you will lift the lifetime ban and allow us into YOUR  park on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (3-5 PM) without a leash. (You will also be happy to know that our two old cats, Angel and Leeney, have been demoted to the bedroom floor at night  : }

abbey-wi-scarf-close-re-best

(Poem)

An obsessive headshrinker sat before her,

and somewhere in the greek omlet

his outer rim of skin began to peel

into toasty shreds of multiplicity.


Through her large brown eyes

I too saw in him

deficits of ego functioning

floating in mushrooms and feta cheese,

there for the voyeurs of psychiatry

and students of distortion

to partake of the madness of amor.


And then to me without clinical covering,

she inquired,

why at 37

had I never married?


In matters of the heart

this was my Achilles Heel.


My old brain frowned

as darts of former lovers

hurled from remote memory,

their projected demands for perfection,

my classical refractory nature

overcompensating libidinally,

sublimation as graduate

Professor of Human Misery,

masking true nakedness

in the service of some prince-

wretched and pedestrian mother

complex,

I could no longer eat the eggs.


As I stirred my fork ever pensively,

she seemed quite pleased with her percepts.

I then asked the waitress

for a third cup of coffee

(maybe it was the fourth),

and redirected the conversation

to something less threatening,

I believe the Aids epidemic.


She said Aids didn’t worry her much,

but then she had recently heard

that as a group, psychologists

had alarming rates of suicide.


I flashed on my old Siberian wolf fantasy,

stranded in that small clearing of frozen tundra,

by day supervising the unprotected children,

providing some laughter

and the illusion of safety;

by night, left alone to survive

the perimeters of darkness

and the ice numbing cold

while clutching a frozen branch

to evade the wolves at my feet

as petrified vessels capsized

the frostbit ridges of my ears…


The intrusive busboy then

wiped my many crumbs,

I paid the check and promised,

(as one does) to call her again “real soon”

before hurrying home past the lot

where they bury old men and dead cats,

stirred with forgotten battlefronts.


I thought of Jung’s looseness in his late thirties,

and Freud’s escape to the Seduction Theory

and wondered,

Are we really so different today?


And why was it, I searched in vain,

ALWAYS for the male embodiment…

a beautiful woman was precipitant?

The specific kind of beautiful woman

(that is destined, if you will,

to become one’s breakfast date) and

in particular,

her alluring and dangerous aspects–

insofar as the psyche itself

already is a woman to us,

all the more still, I reasoned,

to we who are not, in truth,

fully our own masters.


I then finished some case notes

and prepared for my next hour.

Like all men in the pursuit of their passions

a good shrink has many lines of defense.

Due to his ethical bent,

the people he attracts,

and the curious effect

his work will have upon his personality,

he will need them more than more most.

1987

THE PROBLEM WITH TROUBLE

July [17] 2008

(Essay)

BY ART ROSENGARTEN

Essay

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order” wrote the Swiss founder of Analytical Psychology, C.G. Jung.  Nowhere is this irony more evident than in the everyday lives of ordinary people. No matter how skilled we’ve grown in plugging the holes, the illusion of control jumps back like a yapping Schnauzer and bites us in the tightened buttocks of “business as usual.”  The world of conventional reality is a manufactured cosmos of deluded chaos; it scratches its dense skull in search of the only remedy it knows: the pursuit of perfection.

That slow leaking tire, running nylon, or bad-hair day, the ‘B’ you thought was an ‘A’, the surcharge and fine print, ALL conspire to dissolve the joy you’ve envisioned for a flawless day. The state of perfection is outright libel, though no laws protect us from its rampages. The impeccable is “oh so peccable,” the impeachable so easily impeached!

Flawlessness is itself a flawed vision (of perfection).  To the contrary, “flawfulness” is perfection’s secret virtue—rendering the current strange construction of “the perfect” virtually null and void.  The odd is, in effect, the beautiful. The anomaly that generates brilliance in a quartz crystal–that which is most different, most natural, most striking and unique, most “FLAWED” (if by that we mean “least commonplace”)–makes for a thing’s true beauty and character, its atypicality.  And naturally, this is not an indistinct, uniform, degree of “flawlfullness” which might then be “reproduced to perfection.”  (The Pet Rock only works once!); one must never attempt to redo the undone. Certainly this brought the death knell to rock n’ roll in the seventies.

Even the gods and goddesses sprout an occasional blemish, and the real deal is closer to the trashed “Out-Takes” in the film editor’s dustbin than the perfect teeth made from plaster of Paris implants in the Hollywood state of the mind. Sacred mistakes (because nature made them as they are) capture the trouble we’d rather not know we have.  Here we “make” the boat we’d actually be better off “missing.” The aftermath isn’t pretty or inspiring. Culture dies another vital strand each repeat performance for which the great monolith is reflexively imitated.  The perfect game every day. Desperately, though blindly, we recalibrate our slipping ‘predictometers’ hoping to lock-on to the emerging assets of the best case scenarios of our castles-in-the-sand reality.

Dying modernists that we are, we sorely regret the inconvenience, dissolution, the shifting of gears.  IT was our mother, and we remain attached to the predictable outcome like goat cheese on gourmet pizza. When (mis)constructions of the “perfect picture” are not matched in actuality, when life takes on that “almost but not quite” taste, we filter away to masturbatory memories (of perfection) before the dreaded real reality returns. We want the Hollywood moment-–the perfect teeth and triumphant skies. “Jesus, it’s good.”

The cosmos thus appears contained in our small-mindedness.  Briefly life feels unwrinkled and cooperative.  Uncle Gino receives a hopeful second opinion. And a secret order may be plucked out from one’s vortex of disturbance.  Good news. It bears no abeyance whatsoever to the clocks and cashiers of the conventional order. We must respond now as artists, not the usual escape artists. We can now use our natural materials with no mention of perfection.

This strategy goes to the heart of what I fondly call “the problem with trouble.” 
Rebounding too quickly from trouble denies us a rare opportunity— the wisdom of natural chaos. As the commentary to the third line of “Difficulty at the Beginning” (in the Chinese Book of Changes) states:

If a man tries to hunt in a strange forest and has no guide, he loses his way. When he finds himself in difficulties he must not try to steal out of them unthinkingly and without guidance.

 

The hexagram further tells us:

“Fate cannot be duped; premature effort, without the necessary guidance, ends in failure and disgrace.” 

The problem with trouble is that we are a mad, trouble-fixing, people. We fix to fix (and function to function), and typically miss entirely the secret order that an honest barrel of trouble provides us.  The sages called this ‘Fate”:

It is only a matter of time before we meet it.  Fate is not antagonistic or vindictive; it is there to teach us, in an impersonal way, that the goal may not be gained through false means. (Carol K. Anthony)

Fate is not the way out of trouble but, paradoxically, the way into it.  Thankfully, fate-born-of-trouble stymies our misguided pursuit of perfection—and returns us to what matters, ourselves.                  

                                                                                                                     (1994)

Read what I regard as The Keys To Relationship (From The Chinese Book Of Changes, or I Ching) in Potent Quotes:  “THE ART OF MEETING HALFWAY” (IDEAS)

 

 

(Poem)

picasso-don-quixote

I.

So like me were you once–

hard-hearted and soft-headed,

until awakening reversed all that,

when the pain matured to horseplay

and we teamed up as unlikely orators–

spouting wise on Conscious Human Knowing,

and the clever mapwork we imagined

our true cause celebre, in hindsight,

was more bulwark and banter

than soul cartography.


So like me were YOU once

enamored

with mind and suspicious of brain,

we sort of became

a traveling show

lecturing to the lepers

and housewives

and the thin sweet grandmas

accustomed to crumbs.

They took to us

like eskimo stew to crabmeat,

our meager stock

of indigent splendors.


But we both really knew that

because we LOVED them like children

our show made us mildly famous,

plus the raw sad truth

we were too damn funny

in our brown corduroy “trainer jackets”

baiting big ideas

with the light and snappy

like some Zen Mutt & Jeff phenom

of the San Francisco psycho circuit.


II.

But for all your wisdom

and cunning spirit,

only I knew the coals of violence

still smoldering inside you

from the early years,

the kind of pain

that makes old ship captains

lousy lovers on cheap Chablis.


I knew those hidden ropes

glued behind your sturdy shield

from my own frayed strings

attached to this ever slippery tongue:

remnants of the chaos

when for a small child

everything shatters.


III.

At the funerals of their fathers

some men begin to live,

some to die.


Three of my own tallest pines

have now gone by

that I know well

the sweet taste of a saddened son

blessed with good fathers

who have lived and died.


Now you the shedding oak once so strong

in my thinning forrest of felled trees,

begin to fade by the empty field

where good men have gone

to live or die.


My doors remain open

but you don’t come in.

I bid your entry

as my eldest living friend,

if only so my small children

may benefit as have you

and I from the gracious company

of some good fathering men.


I wonder if you’ve left the work

once forged with me to cast

a brotherly sword

from the common tin

between wise and caring men?


I carry now between my eyes

that sword I wish you’d take again.


Your shield, old boy, can be cut apart

as my fast tongue is turned to stone.

But rare I feel is the princely man

who rides on as the good fathering friend.

1995

PIVOT POINT

July [17] 2008

(Poem)

I’m age straddling

the pivot point

on the old proverbial half glass:


Half empty — half full?

Sleep grows ever distracted

with visitations from both sides.


And where are my friends

at 43 now that I hunt

for meaning halfway between

the sun and moon.


I’m a man of inklings

and something lightheaded as

the glittering specters

of long dead stars

flickers up the nightsleuth in me.


I swear there’s a crossover–

and perception is pivotal;


Images shuffled into sharpened spaces

market you with their bogus math

giving unequal partners equal shares.


But the crossover isn’t

between the images themselves,

nor where the dividing lines fade–

it’s with the pivot points.

How they no longer seem crucial.


Because they walk and talk like a duck

what we see

has replaced

how we know.

1993

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