Monday, March 26, 2007

the Masturbatorium - a primer

The cast:

- the nararrator, a 12 year old boy named Augusten
- Augusten's mother, Deirdre
- Deirdre's shrink, Dr. Finch (sometimes shortened to Dr. F)
- Dr. Finch's receptionist & daughter, Hope

from Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's, 2002, pp. 33-36)

(Note: this is a work of fiction & any resemblance to real meat is sheer serendipity.)

Dr F offers mother & son a tour of his backroom, to which, he explains he often retires . . .

"Between patients. After patients. Sometimes if a patient is particularly tedious, I will excuse myself to the Masturbatorium."

Our allegorical curtain now rises:
But opening the door to the Masturbatorium revealed a surprise. Hope had left her post as receptionist and was napping on the seedy couch.

"What is this?" Finch bellowed. "Hope!" he boomed.

Hope startled awake. "Jesus, Dad. You scared the shit out of me." She blinked against the light. "Oh my God, what's the matter with you?"

Finch was furious. "Hope, you have no business being in here. This is my masturbatorium and you're using my blanket." He pointed at the colorful crocheted throw Hope had wrapped around herself.

The tassels along the edge were stuck together.

"Dad, I was just taking a nap."

"This is not the place for naps," he bellowed.

My mother turned around to leave. "I think I'll get a fresh cup of Sanka."

"Wait a minute, Deirdre," Finch said.

My mother froze. "Yes?"

"Do you see how Hope's behavior is wrong?" he asked.

My mother brought her cigarette to her mouth. "Well, I really don't know."

Hope sat up on the couch.

"Deirdre, answer me," Finch demanded. "Do you see how Hope's sneaking in here and invading my private space is wrong?"

After a moment of thinking about it, my mother said, "Well, I can understand not liking one's space invaded. I can understand how it would be upsetting to have somebody messing with your things without asking."

"Then confront her!" Finch directed.

I stood back, not wanting to get sucked in.

"Well, I . . ."

"Deirdre, speak up! Tell Hope what you feel."

My mother looked at Hope as if to say, What can I do? Then she said, "Hope, I don't think it's right for you to disturb your father's space without asking."

"This is none of your business, Deirdre," Hope said. Her eyes were squinty with anger.

My mother took another long drag from her cigarette and tried to leave again. "I really think I'll just get another cup of Sanka."

Finch grabbed her arm. "Just a minute there, Deirdre. Are you going to let Hope walk all over you like that? Jesus Christ, Deirdre. Are you going to be Hope's doormat?"

My mother turned sharply to Finch. "I'm not Hope's goddamned doormat, Finch. This just isn't any of my business; she's right. It's between you and your daughter."

"Bullshit!" Finch shouted. "That's just pure evasive bullshit."

"It most certainly is not," my mother said. She tossed her cigarette on the floor and mashed it out with the toe of her sandal. "I am not getting in the middle of this." She brushed imaginary lint off the front of her black turtleneck.

Hope said, "Dad, you're overreacting. Leave Deirdre out of this. It is between you and me."

"You," he said, pointing at her, "Stay the hell out of this."

Hope shrunk against the back of the sofa.

"What do you think, young man?" he said, looking to me.

"I think you're all crazy," I said.

. . . The office was stuffy, hot. There was a fan in the window that was blowing out. I wanted to turn it so it blew into the room, but Hope insisted that it was better to blow the hot air out of the room, as opposed to sucking the warm air in. "I hate my life," I said.
George Oppen, in section 20 (the half-way point) of the highly pertinent poem from the late 60's, "Of Being Numerous":

—They await

War, and the news
Is war

As always
That the juices may flow in them
Tho the juices lie.

Great things have happpened
On the earth and given it history, armies
And the ragged hordes moving and the passions
Of that death. But who escapes

Among these riders
Of the subway.

They know
By now as I know

Failure and the guilt
Of failure.
As in Hardy's poem of Christmas

We might half-hope to find the animals
In the sheds of a nation
Kneeling at midnight,

Farm animals,
Draft animals, beasts for slaughter
Because it would mean they have forgiven us,

Or which is the same thing,
That we do not altogether matter.


DavidByron said...

Marisacat seems upset that nobody remarked on her hate mail

BTW, I notice that where the little clutch of co-whiners have planted themselves, men in a cub scout hideout with David Byron (isn’t that telling)… it is “crickets” over the violent rape spam.

I did mention and condemn the hate mail. It's two threads down.

Because it does not make for easy bitch bitch at Marisacat.

You'd be surprised how easily I can manufacture something to bitch about. In many respects I'm quite a match for you. I understand the temptations you face.

I could easily have said for example that you were so happy about being able to post your "victimised" status that couldn't have been prouder if you had been posting prize winning poetry that you wrote yourself. Or I could have just hinted that you likely sent the "porn-rape" comments to yourself to get attention and sympathy.

Considered saying it and then rejected it because (1) it's not true and (2) it's nasty and not true. I'm not sure but I don't think it's my fault that my head comes up with crap like that so long as it doesn't get past the internal censor. Recently it seems that stuff has been getting past your internal censor.

It happens.

You screw up. You feel embarassed. You apologise. Move on.

I see that today another two people who used to like and respect you have (Arminius, Curmudgeonette) been pissed on by you and driven away.

Now I could easily conclude from this --- since I don't have any such history of liking and respecting you --- that you're just a nasty old bat. However another side of me says that you probably don't have many friends to begin with so the likelihood is that losing two of them a day is not a sustainable pace, and thus, this behaviour must be anamolous.

That would explain why I meet so many people who appear to respect your opinions on politics.

I hope you get over whatever ails you.

Oh -- thanks for deciding to call me a cub scout instead of a misogynist. Most feminists are not so insightful (although it's sad to use that gift just for flaming people don't you think?)

BTW? I bet you wouldn't be having this trouble if you didn't have a habit of banning people who even slightly disagree with you. I have never seen such a bunch of hen-pecked commentators as the people at your site. But I can see why it must be necessary because you really don't give anyone a chance to be a friendly critic at all. Wham, Bam! You're GONE.

I on the other hand have dozens of people telling me I am a prick all day.

It's what keeps me humble :)

Marisa said...

Thanks for the first chuckle of the day. As i get up to make coffee and feed the gatos.

The small yapping dog known online as DavidByron sitting in the thread to a post about a masturbatorium that mentions the erzatz coffee sanka

How appropriate.

This too is a big chuckle.

Apparently not even your own kind wanted to keep you.

I made short shrift of you, you somehow think you were ever allowed to post at mcat. Your two comments were held in moderation and moved to spam. Then dumped.

DavidByron said...

Hey there Marisa!

Do you know what the word "shrift" means? It's an ironic word for you to use here :)

It is interesting to see what proofs you display for claiming to have defeated me. Masturbation, "big chuckle", stuff you Googled about me and your immidiate use of censorship.

I claim victory on the basis of exactly the same items.

So what did I win?

DavidByron said...

At least she didn't shoot coffee out of her nose.......

scribe said...

I understand that shooting coffee out one's nose has definite health benefits. It clears out debri and wakes up all the little nose hairs so they are therebymuch more alert and able to capture nasty little germs before they can get into the sinus cavities and travel from there into our brains.

Arcturus said...

I suppose snorting coffee would get the caffeine in th blood stream quicker, but won't be trying it anytime soon.

Rumor has it Hope lives to walk another day . . .

scribe said...

I heard that same rumor. In fact I heard that if it can't walk, it will crawl, and if it can't crawl anymore, it simple curls up and hibernates till it gets it's strength back.

Arcturus said...

like a bear, eh? tho climate changing has been messing w/ hibernation patterns

I wonder if my recent bouts of insomnia are some kind of empathetic response? ha! (wouldn't mind getting out of this hell tho . . .

scribe said...

The good ol insomnia hell?..I know it well, although it has lessened considerable since I got knocked off the gerbil wheel into early retirement. I finally figured out mine was pretty much stress (accumulated) related. Damned stuff goes on so long it seems "normal" to us, or rather, it did to me anyway.

Pyrrho said...

online suicide: catnip, at marisa's site you say if you saw a suicide diary at your blog you would delete it and contact authorities... well, we contacted authorities... but delete? This is an open communication media, you don't know who that is FOR.

btw, you might want to help the cats fact check from time to time because, um... he posted the photo of himself. HE PUT IT PUBLIC... and it's a bit nuts to think we should over ride that when as far as we know a public display of concern is what was needed, not a fearful silence to avoid undue embarrassment.

No one at mlw is embarrassed by suicide, we just want him to survive.

I myself do not react to things the way MSOC does, or you, or anyone else, but I am also slow to judge that... I judge the honesty... if someone says they care and they don't, or can't, I judge that, I don't judge "I've been thinking of suicide too, but now I know I can't do that..."

I'm sorry again about the dustup at MLW though not involved.

it's assinine. you know, trolling is a verb, in fact, from net history, there are no "trolls" just the activity of "trolling" that people sometimes do or even make a full time hobby... but that's a very different frame than this pat demonization.

There are no trolls.

btw, I read Marisa cat because she has a knack for finding incicive links... and that is the currency of the net, her opinion of me cannot really have much if any bearing on my evaluation of her. I will not cook dinner for someone that doesn't like me... but I will listen to them.


catnip said...

online suicide: catnip, at marisa's site you say if you saw a suicide diary at your blog you would delete it and contact authorities... well, we contacted authorities... but delete? This is an open communication media, you don't know who that is FOR.

Yes pyrrho, I would have immediately saved it, deleted it and contacted the authorities - as I wrote over at mcat's.

Further, the fact that he is now thankfully alive and that the diaries are still up on MLW bothers me. I e-mailed MSOC about that. My concern is the reaction b&t might have as he recovers if he reads them. He'll obviously be in a very fragile state. I know. I've been there. And it seems to me he might appreciate the privacy. I know I would and I wouldn't want to read through the whole cascade of events as it unfolded. I'd be damn embarassed - among many other strong emotions. You'll note that MSOC deleted her dkos diary at the request of mcjoan for the reasons I stated. Besides my personal experience, I've also taken suicide intervention and have had to use those skills a few times. It's never easy.

Nothing wrong with an outpouring of love after finding out whether he is dead or alive. I just think the day's frenzy is better left behind to the delete key.

If you have a message for people at mcat's, don't expect it to go through me.

No one at mlw is embarrassed by suicide

Neither am I. In fact, I think the societal taboo about discussing suicide is extremely harmful.

I'm sorry again about the dustup at MLW though not involved.

No need for you to apologize. It had nothing to do with you.

There are no trolls.

I'd disagree. I'd say once a person has established a pattern of trolling, they're a troll. I know I'm not a troll so being called one is not going to make me lose sleep at nite. That's the least of my worries, believe me.

DavidByron said...

No matter what culture, no matter what country; everyone agrees that women need to be treated better than men. The elite sex.

(Iranian government has released the woman arrested along with the 14 other things)

canberra boy said...

catnip, there's a kind of reality-TV feel about the on-line suicide attempt at MLW. I don't mean to be unsympathetic, but the internet is really just another medium to place (post!) one's GBCW message.

However, in contrast to the other media (written note next to bed, message on answering machine, letter in post, lipstick on mirror etc) we now have a potentially permanent record of the GBCW plus the efforts to intervene and call help to 'save' the person's life.

This may or may not be the first on-line suicide attempt. But I'm willing to bet that it will be linked before long from all over the internets as an example - hell, the example, of on-line suicide.

I bet it doesn't get deleted from MLW.

scribe said...

There will be endless online "psychological autopsies" of this whole incident. There will be loyalists to everyone involved, endlessly battling with each other flinging insults and labels to and fro. There will many who will use this particular incident as more fuel to add to old fires to "justify" continued flame wars and the continued flailing on the rotting bodies of long dead horses. So the human stew simmers, on and on and on.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking of the silent, unseen others who may have read all of this and said nothing. Those, for example, who have deeply painful issues over those they too lost to suicide, who have had all of that ripped wide open. And wondering about those who may be on the edge of such a desperate act themselves, and how this may have affected them. And thinking about how, in psych nursing, if there was a suicide attempt, sucessful or not, we put all those struggling with depression on elevated watch status, because of increased suicide risk to all after such an event.

I am not without compassion for all directly involved in this: nor am I sitting in judgement of anyones choice of actions. I am very glad they got to this young man in time. And I know all about what people 'have every right to do" on the wide open internet..and it's incredible potential to be used for good purpose, including in this case, helping to save one life.

I just can't not also think of all the silent others out there, who we could also lose and never know about..because this may have shoved them over some ragged edge, when they perhaps have inadequate face to face supports. Or of the silent suffering it may have also have caused in so many many other lives. Not intentionally at all, I know. We all do the best we can in each unexpected moment we face.

And so it all goes: hopefully there is something learned that can be used in times yet to come. But it is good always, when we can, to pause to consider that there is almost always a bigger picture , that may not be appearing in our viewfinders of the moment.

And the hope that maybe some people will choose to back off from personal emotional reactions and agendas, to consider this more often both before AND after a genuine "online"crises.

This is one POWERFUL MEDIUM from which to act out ones personal life lessons and learnings, with the potential to affect untold numbers of others in both positive AND negative ways.

I hope that those who have chosen to wield the biggest online megaphones, pause to remember that the louder the voice, the more it is heard, and the more influence it has.. to spread in both positive AND negative ways. To me, that implies a greater personal responsibility than for those who only read and comment.

Which is why I do not choose to run a blog of my own. I do not wish to shoulder that kind of personal responsibility in this powerful a medium, that has such limitations on effective interpersonal communication.

DavidByron said...

I just can't not also think of all the silent others out there, who we could also lose and never know about..because this may have shoved them over some ragged edge

But you forget to factor into your equation those silent others who pulled back from the edge because of this episode.

it is good always, when we can, to pause to consider that there is almost always a bigger picture , that may not be appearing in our viewfinders of the moment.


catnip said...

But it is good always, when we can, to pause to consider that there is almost always a bigger picture , that may not be appearing in our viewfinders of the moment.

And while that may be difficult in the frenzy and shock of the moment, I think it takes wise voices like yours scribe to act as a reminder.

DavidByron said...

"now, hardly anyone" thinks attack on Iran likely this year.

DavidByron said...

feminists shooting themselves in the foot again. NOW has long abandoned the ERA as regressive since women have more rights than men these days, but their PR of women as universal victims makes it very hard for them to oppose the ERA. The ERA would likely roll back most feminist achievements of the last few decades.

scribe said...

DB writes" "But you forget to factor into your equation those silent others who pulled back from the edge because of this episode."

Incorrect assumption, probably based based on what you perceive as an omission or "flaw" in my comment? I've noticed how eager you are to critique everyones work, and point out what you perceive as flaws in reasoning wherever you can, wherever you possibly can.

DavidByron said...

It was based on what you SAID scribe.

If you did take that balance into account in your thoughts it certainly didn't make it into what you wrote. The effect of that was that you came across as criticising Maryscott for keeping the diary up You also did that explicitly in a previous post.

I've noticed how eager you are to critique everyones work

True but here it's YOU criticising someone's work and at a very sensitive time too. I am just reacting to your criticism by, yes, pointing out the logical flaw in it (essentially you made a Pascal's Wager style argument). I agree with MSOC's decision whereas you are disagreeing with it - apparently.

In general (when it isn't emotionally sensitive) I don't have a problem with people criticising and counter-criticising arguments made in public. Do you? Or is it only bad when I do it? What alternative do you think would be preferable?

scribe said...

David, trying to have a conversation with you feels like try to swat flies only YOU can see. Somewhere along the line you appear to have become convinced that your perceptions and interpretations of what people say or mean, are the only solid realities that exists in the Universe. Maybe they are, for you.

In which case, you are welcome to them: I feel no obligation to attack your choice, and no need at all to defend my opinions or prove to you that my perceptions have equal validity.

Which seems to leave us with little to communicate about at all.

DavidByron said...

Oh no you don't.

You may "feel no obligation" to attack me but you did it anyway. And you attacked me as a person, not my opinion. To put it mildly you are sending mixed signals here. There's more I could say but I'll leave it at that. I agree with your last sentence.

pyrrho said...

catnip, interesting comments, I'll answer more later I think... but as far as a conduit, I would not ask that of you, but I did mention that the facts, when gotten very wrong, might be of interest in conversations there... or perhaps not.

please keep in mind, I appreciate what goes on there, though I far from approve of it all, I have never seen a forum of which I approved of "all"... even "most" is probably rare to never. cheers.

thanks for not holding hard feelings by association, you're good.

theory said...

I'll say certainly I don't know the right or wrong in it all... my position is currently focussed on the idea that B&T, although upset, is still in command of himself, he chose to put his message publicly, and that saved his life... he didn't seem to want that, but he told his friend enough to allow it, and in his mood perhaps didn't realize that would foil the plan (we hope, I have no real word yet, myself, to say)... and so I default to leaving it up.

It was his decision, and it saved him, so hopefully it has a positive spirite to it for these others reading, but if not, and i don't know, I err with B&T, and though I'm against deletion in general, OF COURSE, in this case if he wants it down, my opinion instantly supports that.