There was a strange man from India who came to my home to help me with a ghost problem. He didn’t want to talk about the ghost; the lingering perturbances of high strangeness we had been experiencing in our hundred year-old two-flat in the city, but rather wanted to tell me how I should and shouldn’t make art. I believed (for only a short time, a few days perhaps) that he knew more about making my art than I did.
As he instructed I removed from a collage a small bird’s wing that was brought to me by my cat. The tall, attractive, mysterious man from India gazed into my basement studio from a distance, working his neck like a mechanical space probe to make his diagnosis. Any direct contact with my studio could upset his delicate inner balance or distort his psychic purity, he told me with a glaring stare.
“Too much going on in there,” he barked scoldingly while adjusting his gloves.
“Well, yes, it’s a studio where I write and make art. Much should be going on,” I said trying to advance his comprehension. “Negativity, harmful thoughts can gather in places like this,” he warned with authority and elegance.
Oh my, negativity; “in places like this”; a woman’s studio where (hopefully) ideas, feelings, creative forms run roughshod over the collective normalcy. (I’ve been duly warned of the perils of this rumored negativity by new age teachers/preachers who promote the compliant, untroubled life.) And those pesky harmful thoughts. Harmful to whom I ponder as I study his sturdy square chin and inscrutable eyes, his somber clenched affect; all packaged in a carefully attired (linen slacks, nicely pressed) presentation of HimSelf as a stalwart steward of Transcendent Refinement.
“So what should I do?” I asked, appalled to hear the the docile complicity in my voice. “Make pleasant things, enjoyable things that people will feel good looking at. Write poetry that uplifts the spirit of man.” I told him I didn’t want to make that kind of art.
The instruction was given with his back facing me as he moved to inspect the high-maintenance floor drain. He knelt down (linen slacks making no contact with floor) to examine a small pool of slimy run off from the overflow of the wash machine. “It’s all going in here,” he said confidently as if discovering the source of an unabating leak.
Yes, I agreed, “That’s where the flooding happens if we don’t regularly change the mesh sock which fits over the drain hose of the washing machine.” “No, not what I’m seeing,” he snapped. “The negativity and harmful thinking, what you are doing in that room all gather right into this drain putting off a bad smell.” And back up the steps he went prescribing me to change my activities, offering up a vision of me quilting.
We never spoke about the ghost that day but he did come by one other time on a very hot afternoon in July. The peculiar man from India arrived to deliver a message and to check a latent problem he psychically detected in my spine which he viewed while holding a lapis lazuli stone to his forehead as I was instructed to take a yogic posture. With legs perpendicular to the wall the message from a cadre of self-realized masters in a small village in Uttar Pradesh was this: We can take care of the ghost problem but it will take much time. The expelling will require many prayers and procedures: The lighting of multiple votive candles and burning of rare incense to facilitate astral voyaging will be necessary for the clearing. She can pay all at once or in small increments. All at once is preferable as we must travel by donkey to the post to receive payments. Either way is agreeable and we guarantee full removal of the ghost soul with its proper return to a vibrationally compatible field for roaming.
“Let me think about that,” I said as blood was filling up the frontal lobe of my neo cortex. He instructed me to now lay prone with legs supine to the wall. “Is there shaking when I do this,” he asked, moving my extended legs out from the wall. “Yes, a little shaky up the backside, but I think it’s because my legs are tired,” I quivered. “Mmm. Trembling,” he said. I asked what this all had to do with the ghost. “Nothing at all,” he replied, “but negativity has entered your body from all that upset down there by the drain in the basement. If not treated, this will lead to uncontrollable shaking and perhaps even paralysis. I suggest you come to my office and I can remove the psychic toxins. I will call on Thursday to see what decision you have come to about payment for the elimination of the spirit,” he flatly announced in departure as I held the 90 degree slant.
Weeding my flower garden the day after the ghost buster’s visit I inhaled a strong whiff of Round-Up coming from next door where the neighbors sweep their backyard with an O’Cedar angler broom. Oddly, the smell triggered a memory of the day I refused a flu vaccination from the staff nurse at Richard Young Psychiatric Center. What has this memory got to do with the Indian man pretending to be a shaman I contemplated as I sat near a six foot hollyhock plant? I continued with the memory.
Well, I was told by a middle-management supervisor at the psych facility, a nervous fellow who stalked the hallways with his hands jiggling in his pockets, that I would need to check in with the nurse after lunch. The skittish but dependable patrol boy was there in the room, swaying back and forth with his hands, as per usual, frolicking deep into his pockets.
“Do you like needles?” the pocket player asked sardonically. “Only for knitting,” I said, as she, a pliant perky white coated manservant smelling of Love’s Baby Soft perfume instructed me to roll up my sleeve. “I don’t do flu shots,” I quickly exclaimed as she was coming at me with the loaded needle. “No one has ever refused a FREE flu shot,” she retorted whimsically as the twitchy one by the door emitted a prickly laugh. “I’m the first then,” said me satirically, the only one in the room who had done her homework about the history of the Diabolical Elixir. “I actually don’t mind having the flu,” I said squarely. I later contemplatd the eternal drone and drill about the perils of those terrorizing germs; deadly and dangerous, never to be trusted. Much like radical women who make Art that isn’t pretty, nor divinely feminine; elimination is the antidote.
There next to the hollyhock I recollect my fondness for having the flu or cold, even anticiapation. I remember leaving my bedroom window open at night in hopes of waking up with a sore throat. Oh how I longed for the flu. It was a time for reprieve from the brutish Sister Erminita who wore army boots and weaponized the crucifix by affixing a wall sized one to her leather belt. The flu episodes gave me a chance to rest quietly in a fold-out beach chair, write stories, and watch the Beverly Hillbillies while being served soup by our neighbor Lloydine Cash as she designed silk flower arrangements for funerals and weddings.
The peppy nursemaid told me there was a bird flu going to hit hard and this was the only way to be protected. “I’m not afraid of birds,” I said. I of course wasn’t going to tell them what I knew. Maladjusted males have been known through history to do odd and unpredicatble things to people for this kind of disclosure. I wasn’t going to dare reveal my innermost thoughts and feelings; that the Almighty Inoculation has been a one pointed strike, a deliberately deployed dagger of deadly deceit to flip the switch on the eternal internal warring of the body against itself; slapdash infusions of incantational eugenical intentionality co-mingling with aborted fetal material, cancerous kidney tissue, malicious metals not intended for the bloodstream; the bio-vibrational chemically corrupted drumming in by the Goddess Pretenders of Medicine and Science that the body (human or animal) cannot be trusted; nature is evil; war begins “at home” (especially in the home drain) in the watery tissues and Sacred Structure of the Self. Just like the harmful (to whom we must ask) thoughts and negativity of the critical-thinking (woman) artist, the radical (root seeking) feminists through history who have exposed the plots and ploys of patriachosis (the original virulent virus), we too must be be eradicated. The nurse and the hall monitor were convinced there was something we all needed, couldn’t possibly live without in that needle. I wasn’t ever going to be on their team.
I’ve often thought about that day in the Lysol scrubbed efficiency chamber and what I would have rejoiced in saying if I had been more prepared, more fearless. It would go something like this: If I take your potion I would be joining you in your game of pretend. I would have to agree to a set of beliefs about the Body and Mind, about Nature that are not my beliefs. And that for me would be deceitful, dishonorable to my Soul. I cannot compromise for what I know is a lie.
By accepting the shot, I would be required to accept the falsity that birds and monkeys and flies cause disease and not the pathological poisons that the biocidal, psychopathic destroyers pour into and onto water, air, soil, bodies, animals. I would have to agree that my body is not intelligent nor sacred and cannot heal itself. That only the Gods-of-Medicine-and-Science can heal. This game of pretend would of course make you feel strangely superior, perhaps earn you a pay increase as the numbers of injectees are tallied by the actuaries. You will have carried out your job successfully, you would have recruited another for the team, and pharma phamily empires will continue to wallow in unfathomable wealth as the incantational drone of bad body, evil nature is radiated/injected into the pliant amnesiac population through bio-altering body bombs delivered happily by toothy, morally dependent minions of Modern Madcap Medicine.
I didn’t say that. Instead I put in my resignation the day (shortly after rejecting the needle) that the memo came around declaring that employment was contingent upon taking the shot and proof of other assorted vaccinations. I politely excused myself from my position as a marketing agent (aka rehabilitation counselor) for the “good” drug companies, the same day I was scolded by the nervous pocket stalker for exceeding the allotted three bathroom breaks per shift.
The last time I saw the strange man from India was at a public event, several months after the wandering spirit in the two-flat, an old Asian woman I felt, who lived and most likely died there from some traumatic event, had joined the light with concentrated prayer and ceremony of my own making. Just as I refused the shot, I refused to stop creating Art and thinking my harmful thoughts. He pretended I was invisible and I did the same with him.
“How was your art show?” he inquired of my husband. “It wasn’t my art show, it was my wife’s performance show,” the husband replied. The pseudo-shaman pretended he didn’t hear that. I was amused and then disturbed. I thought how this is a culture, a world of people who have been taught to pretend.
Pretending birds, bugs and pigs, not war-making-life-destroying males are the biggest threat to our bodies and Earth.
Pretending poisons being sprayed in the sky are contrails or angels.
Pretending the brain is consciousness.
Pretending the cure for cancer is more research.
Pretending there are some good wars.
Pretending pornography is not destructive to relationships.
Pretending women have no valuable history.
Pretending science and technology can replace love.
Pretending doctors always know best.
Pretending vaccinations are not harmful.
Pretending Art clogged up the basement drain.