In a “better”, by most measures, life situation, still waves of this “post-war” type of apocalyptic depression return at critical moments.
I guess I call it post-war because the inner image my eye sees is perhaps akin to how Warsaw after the uprising gets pictured (below an artist’s rendering, I believe).
The inner image is essentially rubble until the horizon, perhaps radioactive or otherwise toxic rubble, and a brooding, gloomy sense of the complete destruction of something essential and central … and the image of destruction stretches until the horizon for kilometres as you keep walking, finding new and new horizons, never ending. It doesn’t let you breathe or think, it’s like an iron clamp on the chest.
While on one level it’s numbing, on another level it’s completely bleeding – if I let myself feel it without blocking it out in dread and terror (a feat in pain tolerance that is learned over years and years) – it perhaps feels like more blood is silently soaking out into the air around you than you ever knew you had. I can’t quite describe this.
Perhaps like a pierced amoeba, like some sort of broken membrane – but the leeching out never stops, somehow. There is not depletion or bottom. On the other hand, maybe there is if you wait long enough?
I have also frequently seen this post-apocalyptic landscape in dreams, or rather, completely terrorising nightmares. Usually a moderate increase in my everyday stress level seems to be enough to trigger a wave of nightly horrors of this Warsaw, or Hiroshima, or Auschwitz, or some other dystopian type. Bunkers, radioactivity, Fire From the Sky, escapes across many horizons, and a sense of a complete wipe-out of the soul (presumably this is one way this visceral felt sense that is very hard to shake off could be described).
On top of these feelings, inner images and night horrors, added is the layer of “what the f?” – why do I obsessively feel, dream and “see” this? Over years? Why does it feel like it’s an experience that penetrates the gut and the bone marrow, when I have been privileged to never have lived through anything remotely reminiscent of that, anything that would seem plausible as a “seed” for these recurrent imaginal elaborations of apocalypse?
Some of the reading I’ve recently done into trauma and recovery (namely, Heller & La Pierre: Healing Developmental Trauma), on top of years – over a decade at this point – of digging into related topics, including Jungian ones, actually made me thing, gradually over months or years, but somehow more intensely over the last days: that there perhaps is a subjective, experiential equivalent of this apocalyptic imagery that I have actually lived through.
Really not what you’d expect, and I’m still just carefully investigating the idea. The idea is that the visceral felt sense that drives the imagery – I imagine that it’s that way around, that the feelings and emotions frozen in the body and soul are primary, and create images to make themselves known and visible more directly, or just as a side-effect of their living in the body and being activated, awoken sometimes; turning in bed and stirring the wind chime of an active imagination.
– – interruption to the flow of (un)consciousness – –
What was the point of having committed this attempted poetry?
The point was – perhaps putting a few of the shards of the broken vase together, as in … finding a correspondence, perhaps between the subjective and the objective, after many years of seeing it lacking and being rather disconcerted by it (why is there weird-level, strange PTSD-like recurrence when seriously, nothing like these dreams ever happened to this person?).
A renewed appreciation of subjective experience, of the soul perhaps – of for the soul, especially that of a very young child, certain events in fact could have been the equivalent of what the adult keeps seeing in dreams. It could have been the equivalent on the gut level. For a being that can’t think, perceive much, of course can’t talk, perhaps can’t even see but only feel, certain perinatal events could have been the equivalent.
Not in terms of theory, but in terms of empathy – there might have been imminent lethal danger, toxicity, destruction of the complete known world. Essentially based on (unnecessary and unconsensual) surgical procedures and incompetent management of the fallout. There might well have been the level of visceral terror, impossible to express in words and completely disrupting physiologically (e.g. in terms of digestion) and psychologically, and it might have gotten locked into a replay, into various colours of replay over the years (and yes, I do actually recall more direct forms of replay in my very early childhood) without having every fully gotten resolved.
Added to that was my later confusion and fear/worry over what the heck this is.
I wonder whether, if I am finally more or less correct about a large part of the source of these existential psychic lesions, this makes a difference – I think it sure can make a difference to my adult self to develop an empathic understanding of these repetitive images of the apocalypse by decoding the in terms of what the world was probably like to a creature that mostly feels, senses, and is one with the “earth” in the form of the body of another person (the mother) – very raw, very nonverbal. Very immediate, “naked” – like these dreams. Essentially naked felt sense of complete existential exposure.
And nobody could tell the being I was at the time what was going on or that it would be survived. Probably all that was completely clear was that this is not the evolutionary blueprint of what was expected, over millennia, for the human species (and other mammals), at all.
I think many people carry this wound, but is it always so acute? And why do I seem to have some almost direct recollections of it, dreams and childhood fantasies that really don’t need much interpreting?
… perhaps a further literature search; as I don’t know where I’d get a knowledgeable person from who could explain this to me. Heck, despite the unpleasantness nevertheless this is pretty fascinating, a pretty fascinating bit of the human (and not only perhaps) experience; to perhaps have started to understand in a bodily fashion this primal code of perception.
To actually have a sense of being able to literally travel back there; frequently.
Hard to put into words, but I believe this is not only a human language; the feel with which these sensations-as-memories surface is probably an existential experience shared across some species. At least it doesn’t take thought or language for sure.
Again, question: is this useful? Question to time: is this insight correct, more or less? Will it help to shift anything in terms of recurring unverbalisable visceral senses of devastation triggered apparently by nothing?
This brings into mind the story of Josephine (maybe good that I heard it years ago);
in an odd way though, if it’s this (hypothetically), it would definitely be a relief to know that yes, this keeps persecuting me endlessly because it actually happened – in reality; in subjective reality when my body and consciousness were quite different; still in actual lived reality.
Hence the images don’t have to be taken literally, but the feelings totally do.