A Species In Denial—Resignation
The poet Theodore Roethke was referring to resignation and the unhappiness of having to leave the magic world of our soul when he wrote, ‘So much of adolescence is an ill-defined dying / An intolerable waiting / A longing for another place and time / Another condition.’
The following examples of ‘resignation poetry’—written in the midst of resignation—express the torturous process adolescents go through in accepting the death of their soul’s true world and adopting the false, all-but-dead, deluded, blocked-out, resigned, alienated world. In the adult reader’s resigned state of denial of another true world, it might be tempting to think these poems were somehow influenced by the WTM, however, they were written without any knowledge of the WTM or its literature, in fact before the WTM was established and long before my first books were published. Of course, parents of adolescent children only have to enter their own young teenager’s room (bunker!) and ask if they may read some of their Page 209 of
Print Edition offspring’s personal writings; if they are allowed, they will very likely be shown material of a similar nature. Alternatively, they can offer this essay and my other writings and see for themselves whether they respond as Lisa Tassone did.
The following astonishingly honest poem was sent to the WTM in February 2000 by 27-year-old Fiona Miller after she had just read Beyond and become aware of the WTM.
With the poem Fiona attached the comment, ‘I dug out this poem I wrote in my diary when I was about 13 or 14 years old…It has always sounded very depressing to me whenever I have read it and so I have not shown anyone since leaving school…Maybe this was the “transition point” [a term I had used about resignation in writings I had given Fiona] for me when instead of trying to fight forever I just integrated very nicely!!??’
This is the poem: ‘You will never have a home again / You’ll forget the bonds of family and family will become just family / Smiles will never bloom from your heart again, but be fake and you will speak fake words to fake people from your fake soul / What you do today you will do tomorrow and what you do tomorrow you will do for the rest of your life / From now on pressure, stress, pain and the past can never be forgotten / You have no heart or soul and there are no good memories / Your mind and thoughts rule your body that will hold all things inside it; bottled up, now impossible to be released / You are fake, you will be fake, you will be a supreme actor of happiness but never be happy / Time, joy and freedom will hardly come your way and never last as you well know / Others’ lives and the dreams of things that you can never have or be part of, will keep you alive / You will become like the rest of the world—a divine actor, trying to hide and suppress your fate, pretending it doesn’t exist / There is only one way to escape society and the world you help build, but that is impossible, for no one can ever become a baby again / Instead you spend the rest of life trying to find the meaning of life and confused in its maze.’
Fiona’s comment, that her poem ‘always sounded very depressing to me whenever I have read it’, indicates that prior to reading Beyond she could not remember the cause of the depression. In fact when I spoke with her after receiving this exceptionally honest poem she said she had always thought it was a result of homesickness when she first went away to boarding school. This lack of memory is an example of the phenomenon explained earlier, that humans retained little memory of having resigned after they had done so because resignation was such a dark and traumatic time in their lives and remembering what happened defeated the purpose of the denial that they have Page 210 of
Print Edition committed themselves to.
The second point arises from Fiona’s description of the resigned, false state as being ‘divine’. This is exceptionally perceptive because while it is such a fake, soul-denying state, resignation was nevertheless the only responsible option available and as such was, in the greater sense, something so beautifully courageous that it was in fact divine. The greater truth is humans had to be incredibly brave to suffer becoming false in order that the human species, and thus the human journey to enlightenment, could continue. The suffering was endured in the hope that one day, in some future generation, we would discover the greater dignifying, and thus liberating, understanding of humans’ divisive condition—a hope which has finally been fulfilled.
This great paradox of life under the duress of the human condition, where humans had to be prepared to ‘lose themselves’ (suffer becoming resigned) in order that one day our species might ‘find itself’ (find understanding of the human condition) is marvellously expressed in Joe Darian’s 1965 song, The Impossible Dream, from the play The Man of La Mancha. In the words of the song, humans had ‘to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause’, suffer a life of fraudulent denial in order that humanity might one day find the dignifying understanding of their divisive nature and by so doing achieve the seemingly ‘impossible dream’ of liberating themselves from the deeply depressing conclusion that their divisive nature means they are bad, evil, worthless beings.
Darian’s song is marvellously descriptive of the agonising paradoxes of life under the duress of the human condition. It is one of humanity’s great pieces of expression and now that we can understand the human condition, the lyrics can be clearly appreciated: ‘To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe / To bear the unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go / To right the unrightable wrong, to love pure and chaste from afar / To try when your arms are too weary, to reach the unreachable star / This is my quest, to follow that star / No matter how hopeless, no matter how far / To fight for the right without question or pause / To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause / And I know if I will only be true, to this glorious quest / That my heart will lie peaceful and calm, when I’m laid to my rest / And the world will be better for this, that one man scorned and covered with scars / Still strove with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable star.’
Incidentally, the honesty of Fiona Miller’s poem is very similar to Page 211 of
Print Edition R.D. Laing’s honest description of the post-resigned adult human state: ‘The relevance of Freud to our time is largely his insight and, to a very considerable extent, his demonstration that the ordinary person is a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be. As adults, we have forgotten most of our childhood, not only its contents but its flavour; as men of the world, we hardly know of the existence of the inner world’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.22 of 156).
The second resignation poem was written by WTM Founding Member Εrіc Cοοke in 1983 when he was 12 years old, many years before he became aware of the WTM: ‘Growing Up: There is a little hillside / Where I used to sit and think / I thought of being a fireman / And of thoughts, I thought important / Then they were beyond me / Way above my head / But now they are forgotten / Trivial and dead.’
As with Fiona’s poem this final resignation poem doesn’t have a title. It was written in April 2003 by a 15-year-old girl from rural Australia. To preserve her privacy we have withheld her name and created the pseudonym for her of ‘Sarah James’.
Poetry is a wonderful medium for expressing deeper feelings and thoughts because the rhythm in a poem, its music, allows sensitivities and truths to creep in and fall out into the open in a way that stilted prose does not. This means that in a poem you have to immerse yourself in its rhythm, tune into its stream of consciousness, allow the portions of truth that are coming out to burst into your own mind. This 15-year-old girl, whose poem was brought to my attention through a WTM Supporter whose son is a friend of the girl, has used poetry with great effect. The more you read this remarkable poem the deeper it takes you into the world of resigning adolescents.
I mentioned above that it was generous to allow the reproduction of this very personal poem, because sharing it will help so many other resigning adolescents appreciate what they are going through. It is so difficult to hold, let alone express, the moment of resignation, and what this 15-year-old girl has achieved in this regard is extremely precious for all young people.
This poem is so special I am loath to make any comment beyond just presenting it. However, to help reveal the core issue of resignation in the poem, I will begin by highlighting a few key elements of the poem, before presenting the poem in its entirety. (The author’s spelling is unchanged, and the four-dot-spaces in the poem are her own, not an indication that text has been omitted.)
Firstly, in lines astonishingly similar to Fiona’s ‘What you do today you will do tomorrow and what you do tomorrow you will do for the rest of your life…You will become like the rest of the world—a divine actor, trying to hide and suppress your fate’, the 15-year-old wrote, ‘there is no past, no future. All that was has slipped slowly away. There is no living. Only existing, devoid of understanding and free will. That is how it must be as we fade in to the neverland’
The following is a selection of powerful lines, presented sequentially from the poem:
‘We are the dead / Move on to certain sacrifice, close off
Everything you ever knew, could touch, could taste, could smell, could hold, whisper into the flames as it crumbles into grey ash
the drive to play God . . . . one day the ideas will take over who we are, our promiscuous wanderings into the infinite shall see us lost
The consequences of delving to deep into what was meant to be unknown strike a harsh blow on their world
fear beyond all fears
The question that looms before seemingly boundless canyons
the eyes strip back to reveal the ugly core. It’s dark. I can only see the metallic illumination of my pen against the blackness
Run away, recant, forget. What you want to forget will always return
Pain . . . . It’s an ache going so deep that sometimes I think it becomes me. It is me. I can’t see beneath it to who I am, and I can’t make it go away. Every jab of pain we ever felt is marked somewhere within us, pushed away, covered in dust . . . . but it only takes the will to remember and we feel it again
Tormenting demons rising and falling within us
A small child reaches unknowingly . . . . only to be whisked into the spinning chasms of reality, frantically grasping where handles should be
Thoughts, so many thoughts . . . . and the constant pain, always there. Sometimes it is a dull beat inside me, others a throbbing agony. I can’t tell where it comes from. My throat, my chest, my stomach . . . . I hate the weakness . . . . the fucking weakness . . . . Father why have you forsaken me???
draw away before they see who each other is inside . . . . that is how it has always been . . . . leave before it gets too close, too suffocating . . . . / Claustrophobia of the mind . . . . leave before you become trapped in their emotions, entangled in their fears until you can’t pretend . . . . and reality descends
at the slightest hint of a window you flee . . . . you’re lost . . . . you’re weak, you’re guilty
And time moves on, regardless, until tomorrow becomes yesterday and you are threatened with self awareness once again
it’s all pretend and no one can show you a morning’
Here is the entire poem.
‘Perceptions shape / Our reality / As we blunder forth / Hoping to discover / Tomorrow within this / World where we seek / Possession / We are the dead / Move on to certain sacrifice, close off . . . . relish the pain, hold the flame to your flesh and feel it burn away. Everything you ever knew, could touch, could taste, could smell, could hold, whisper into the flames as it crumbles into grey ash of repressed fantasies. Symbols of all you have left behind crash around you. You knew it was false. Thank God you got away before you crashed as well. Bound by the laws of a continuous balancing act, fighting for the equilibrium / The flame pieces the mask, peeling away to reveal . . . . / Icy fingers dance over the keys in a macabre reflection, porcelain face visible in the glass. A touch would shatter the dream . . . . we live in a world where our ideas create who we are, as we strive for the thrill of shining, of invention . . . . the thought of creation, the drive to play God . . . . one day the ideas will take over who we are, our promiscuous wanderings into the infinite shall see us lost . . . . and the thrill will become fear as they face realism. They back into a corner. Willing themselves to fade into the shadows, as they stand dwarfed by their own monsters. The consequences of delving to deep into what was meant to be unknown strike a harsh blow on their world. And suddenly they have what they always yearned for, they are awake . . . . susceptible to the agony of concrete reality, and they find themselves bitterly wishing they were asleep again. It is with all things. Prior awareness should lead to caution, until it shocks their falsities one day and they are caught up in the one thing they value above all else, fear beyond all fears and know nothing about the truth, the intensity to much for the mortal mind to cope with, having being accustomed to the illusions they lived beforehand . . . . before knowledge was provoked. Knowledge so deep and strong they were mentally incapable of comprehension and their minds floundered, before madness settled in / . . . . burns. Softly, softly, small sobs in the night cry . . . . I am alone / Morbid tunes immerse the mind. To fly the soul to freely given beauty . . . . such is the way with the world. That we are entrusted to undeserving fates, or are we? The question that looms before seemingly boundless canyons. Abort souls, abhorred by vitality. Self mutilation beings, annihilate the being as the eyes strip back to reveal the ugly core / It’s dark. I can only see the metallic illumination of my pen against the blackness, sliced at several points by moonlight. I hear only the sound of my breathing and the clock, pulsing systematically / Tick, tick, tick . . . . it seems to grow more insistent and nagging in my mind . . . . blaming myself because it’s easier than facing betrayal. Oh God what have I done? The clock is pounding out the deathly rhythm . . . . the pounding becomes words . . . . I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’M SORRY. Run away, repcat [recant], forget. What you want to forget will always return. And it never happened. Words remain the bane . . . . so many, yet most with any meaning sucked out of them / Pain . . . . It’s an ache going so deep that sometimes I think it becomes me. It is me. I can’t see beneath it to who I am, and I can’t make it go away. Every jab of pain we ever felt is marked somewhere within us, pushed away, covered in dust . . . . but it only takes the will to remember and we feel it again / Surrender to the music, as it seduces then listen to . . . . / Mental paralysis, muting swells . . . . motionless figures against a wall of grey in a world of black. Lingering justice, craving significance, STRIKE forward in the pained society, taunted by sorrow. Tormenting demons rising and falling within us, taking and holding our control and perspective, dominating our time here. Shuddering flashes of light pulse beneath the darkness. A small child reaches unknowingly . . . . only to be whisked into the spinning chasms of reality, frantically grasping where handles should be. Digressions into what had been . . . . there is no past, no future. All that was has slipped slowly away. There is no living. Only existing, devoid of understanding and free will. That is how it must be as we fade in to the neverland / Fume . . . . / Thoughts, so many thoughts . . . . and the constant pain, always there. Sometimes it is a dull beat inside me, others a throbbing agony. I can’t tell where it comes from. My throat, my chest, my stomach . . . . I hate the weakness . . . . the fucking weakness . . . . Father why have you forsaken me??? Fatal is the threshold weaved upon man by his own hands / Listen before you become lost in the surface melodies / Call before you are entranced by the earth’s voices / Remember before the cold takes us all / Hands, ivory hands freeze upon a child’s cheeks . . . . Warm hands dart up to the face, enclosing the icy fingers, enveloping them, working to wipe out the cold . . . . Palm to palm, tiny fingers press against them . . . . Eye catches eye as they share a wisdom, only the very young and the very old can own / Time stalls as the moment grows too late and they draw away before they see who each other is inside . . . . that is how it has always been . . . . leave before it gets too close, too suffocating . . . . / Claustrophobia of the mind . . . . leave before you become trapped in their emotions, entangled in their fears until you can’t pretend . . . . and reality descends, clutching all to its breast, yet at the slightest hint of a window you flee . . . . you’re lost . . . . you’re weak, you’re guilty . . . . But at least you’re free from yourself and another once again. And time moves on, regardless, until tomorrow becomes yesterday and you are threatened with self awareness once again. Stop. Stand alone. Stop. Eyes grow dim. Stop. Clumsily reach through the dark in an attempt to slash oblivion. Stop. Until you realise it’s all pretend and no one can show you a morning.’