Mind Fields: Agoraphobia and Astronomy

Mind Fields

I Conquered My Terror Of Open Spaces with Astronomy

Once upon a time I was severely agoraphobic.  For years I had a terror of strange spaces. I was limited to my house, my yard, my car, and my place of work. If I attempted to break this tight little orbit, I got sick. At the time I didn’t know the term “Panic Attack” but I had all the classic symptoms. My stomach churned, my heart raced, and I had to fight for every breath. If I tried going anywhere outside my tiny race track I got so tied into knots that I was completely paralyzed. I had no social life, I did nothing but read, watch TV and observe the animals that visited the hillside behind the house.

One day I was out in the yard in the deepening twilight. I had a pair of binoculars in my hands for watching a herd of deer who came to feed on the ripening pear trees at the top of the hill.  It was almost dark and I had an impulse to turn the binoculars towards the sky.

I was stunned. The binoculars showed thousands more stars than could be seen with the naked eye. It was visually confusing but so beautiful that I instantly fell in love with the night sky.

I spent the next several hours scanning across the heavens, trying to locate familiar stars in familiar constellations. My Sky Vocabulary was pathetic. I knew The Big Dipper (which is only part of a constellation), I knew Orion and I knew Cassiopeia, because of its distinctive sideways “W” shape.

I saw things through the binoculars that I couldn’t name. I saw clusters of stars that looked like back-lit luminous cotton. I was lost, in the topographic sense. If I chose to examine a single star in an obvious constellation I could find it.

I could locate the end star in the Big Dipper. But it was difficult to maneuver to the next star in the line without first taking my eye off the binoculars, locating my target, then carefully measuring my angle of movement. Otherwise the sheer abundance of stars was confusing.

I was lucky to live in a dark suburb sixty miles from San Francisco. There were no streetlights.  In late summer the Milky Way can be seen with its glowing fleece and its lanes of darkness and dust.

It breaks my heart to think of the billions of people who will go from cradle to grave without seeing a dark sky, without seeing The Milky Way in all its majesty. There is a vast population of human beings who will live without giving the night sky a passing thought. To me, a life without awareness of the sky’s beauty is like an amputation of the soul.  It’s as if one is cut off from one’s ancestors, from the thousands of generations who measured their lives by the movements of the heavens.

I’m not a scientific person. I have no math skills, no understanding of chemistry. I slept through those classes when I was in school. Now I became a student. I was determined to give myself some training in astronomy. I raided the library for celestial material. I learned to read sky charts and I subscribed to magazines. I joined a club.

I needed to see a darker sky. It became an insistent organic hunger. I felt compelled to go places more than a hundred miles from a large city. There is a substantial difference in what’s visible from a washed out sky and one that isn’t compromised by light pollution. I HAD to be under that dark sky!

The problem was that I was agoraphobic. The idea of getting into a car and driving to a new place hundreds or even thousands of miles from home made me break into a cold sweat. I have since realized that my agoraphobia was but a subset of phobic responses to a larger meta-phobia that I call Neophobia: Fear Of New Experiences.

This is a common posture for people with PTSD. I consider that almost everyone has some kind of PTSD, that PTSD is another name for the experience called “Life”.

There are, however, people who have more severe life trauma, longer lasting and more intensely painful body memories. I qualify for this troubled group. I’m wandering a bit, here, but that’s all right. This is about reviving in myself the ability to wander. The point of this little article is the way I pitted a powerful passion against an equally powerful terror.

I was corresponding with sky observers who had been to places like Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego State Park. These are DARK places. On clear moonless nights the sky opens like a new love affair! Stars are rated by magnitude, with the lower numbers indicating greater brightness. 

Let’s describe a star of Magnitude 1 as a star visible even in a well lit city. The star Sirius, the brightest naked eye star in the sky (excepting the sun), is a magnitude -1.4. That is Negative One Point Four. The brighter stars go into negative numbers. A bright full moon is Mag -12.6. The sun is magnitude -26.8. If you stand in the middle of Times Square you might see thirty stars. I could see several thousand stars in my unlit suburb. One way that astronomers describe sky clarity in terms of visible magnitude. I was living under a Magnitude 3 sky. My friends in the Mojave Desert were under a Magnitude 6 sky! In practical terms that would describe a sky so rich in stars that the outlines of well known constellations almost vanish in the profusion of surrounding stars.

I was yearning to experience dark, beautiful skies. At the same time I was terrified to leave my yard.  I could barely cross the street. But I wanted to go to the high desert, down to the Mojave and cross into Arizona, where the cities are distant and the sky is dark and the colors of the stars sort themselves into distinct categories of white, red, yellow, green and blue.

I struggled, I procrastinated, I beheld my fear like a chain and a set of padlocks, and I was angry with myself. Everyone goes places! Millions of people jump into cars, get into airplanes, leap from coast to coast, continent to continent without giving such travel a second thought.

I was barely capable of making the twelve mile drive to my place of work.

I had an acquaintance who spent a lot of time in Yosemite Valley. She was planning a drive from the Bay Area in two weeks. I explained my phobia and asked if I could come along. She was willing to help.

The big terrors that we harbor in our fantasies usually turn out to be less taxing than the grief we’ve given ourselves in anticipation of the event.

On the appointed day, I got into my friend’s Honda, carrying my binoculars, a book of star charts and two changes of clothes.

As we drove up Highway 80 I sat in the front seat, rigid as setting concrete. I was desperately ill for the first sixty miles. An hour-long panic attack savaged me like a hungry wolf. I felt as if I would never be able to get back home. Then I  had the sensation of hitting a giant rubber band. It stretched and stretched, urging me to reverse my direction, to turn back. 

I had deliberately trapped myself by this arrangement. I couldn’t tell my friend to cancel her trip because I was phobic, because I was, basically, a great big scaredy cat.

I knew I had to break through the rubber band. I was so sick with fright that we had to stop on the side of the road three times so I could puke. My friend was beautifully patient and supportive.

Just beyond Sacramento, about eighty miles from home, I puked one last time and the rubber band broke. The pressure vanished.

I was free. I could go. I was still scared but I could go to see the sky from Glacier Point, from an altitude above five thousand feet, from a place where the sky’s clarity is utterly pristine. 

Nobody really wants to face their deepest fears. We would prefer to get through life dodging and weaving, minimizing our risk; but some fears are debilitating. My phobia was preventing me from pursuing a love affair with the sky. My phobia was crushing my life, and if this was the only way to deal with it, pitting terror against passion, then so be it. 

Passion won the contest of psychic forces. Since my breakout to Yosemite, I’ve traveled thousands of miles, lugging telescopes, cameras, attending star parties and living a life of stellar enjoyment. What can I add? Go ahead: elope with your terrors! Go! The things you fear are never as bad as you think they will be. In fact, they seldom happen at all. You’ve wasted years dwelling in a phobia when you could be living a free unfettered life.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison.

These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Mind Fields: Baby Boomers And Self Hatred

Mind Fields

I’ve noticed that some (as they are called) Baby Boomers are like Jews who are anti-Semitic. My mother was a classic Jewish anti-semite. Hateful rhetoric dropped from her mouth like crap from an owl’s cloaca. “The Jews will trick you every time,” she often said. “You can’t trust them.” Another of her favorites: “Money’s what they’re about. Money money money.  Jews do one thing well, and that’s make money. It’s a shonda that Hitler didn’t succeed in wiping them out!” The word “shonda” is Yiddish for “shame” or “too bad”.

As I got into my early teens I stopped being afraid of my mother. I’d outgrown her. She couldn’t beat me up. “Mom”, I would riposte,  dodging her clumsy right hook and restraining my urge to retaliate with a knockout uppercut. “You’re a Jew, I’m a Jew, dad’s a Jew, Sandy’s a Jew. How can you say this horrible Nazi crap?”

My mom was crazy. I mean truly bat-poo crazy. Her mind ran like the railroad tracks that led to Auschwitz. There were predictable stops at the same stations at the same times. There were no deviations. Is that one definition of crazy? “An extreme rigidity of thought in which facts and nuances cannot be accommodated lest the pathological structure of said rigidity be broken like a bridge without proper support.” 

Let me get back to my original thesis, regarding Baby Boomers. I’m seventy four years old. Demographically I’m a baby boomer. In other cultures I would be a respected Elder but in Amerika I am seen by some as an irrelevant, un-hip old fart who still listens to Sixties pop music. Let me correct this misapprehension. I listened to (and still listen to ) John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and their ilk. I admit to being a huge musical snob.

I enjoyed post-1965 pop music. I bought a limited number of pop records. I bought the second Rolling Stones record. I bought five Bob Dylan records, starting with Bringing It All Back Home and ending with Blonde on Blonde. I hesitated at John Wesley Harding. I had to wait a few years for Dylan’s Multiple Personality Disorder to roll over like slot machine fruit to a configuration I recognized. I never bought a Beatles record. I wasn’t a fan. I am now, but I still don’t buy their records. Who needs to? 

It’s weird when I read articles in which Baby Boomers are generalized into a sociological cluster that resembles a haul of mackerel in a giant net. Our nation has been dominated by some nebulous force called Youth Culture since we were Youth ourselves. Now, if we don’t understand or enjoy Hip Hop we’re relegated to the Outer Limits of cultural discard.

Some of the best music I hear is television tease-music. These are theme songs, fragments or background percussion/guitar riffs. They are sound-memes, identifiers of historic hit series like Sons Of Anarchy or Breaking Bad. My ear tells me, “Hey, that’s pretty good stuff..”.  Fortunately there is a Breaking Bad CD, or several, divided by Seasons. They’re like playlists. Tasty!

The contemporary musical acts to which I am exposed are forgotten as soon I’ve heard them. I give Lady Gaga props for her science fiction wardrobe and catchy tunes. But most of the singers or bands I hear get me to wondering. Can they play at all? Have they spent fourteen hours a day practicing fundamental exercises on their chosen instruments? Can someone explain to me why the musical acts on “So You Think You Can Dance” are so abysmal? We love the dancing and choreography. Love it! I’m convinced that dance is in the midst of a golden revival, the invention of truly new languages. But when each week’s “musical guest” appears we shudder and watch in horrified dismay. Is some paradigm being revealed? Is music being sucked into a rip tide and washed out to sea?

I seriously doubt it. The distinction here is that the music that’s getting “play” is crappy. I have no refuge. If I want to listen to jazz I’m welcome, of course. But there is no more John Coltrane, no more Charles Mingus. Now we have Marsalis Gumbo, that well known New Orleans dish. It’s good stuff, it shows prowess, soul, it’s jazz. It seems, however, that musical innovation is being led by technology. One can buy a machine that makes sounds that seem to emanate from remote corners of the galaxy. It has no difficulty playing in 15/8 time. We can write and play whatever we want! Our imaginations have been unfettered. Where are the people putting these awesome tools to use? There are no musical categories any more. Jazz as a dynamic art form ran out of gas around 1970. It had played itself into a corner called “New Wave” or “New Thing” and hardly anyone could tolerate the caterwauling that emerged from the saxophones of Albert Ayler or John Tchicai. (A confession here: at the time, I loved New Wave. I was taking acid). 

I’m not ashamed of being seventy four years old. The alternative is to be dead. Anyone who has reached such an age has survived a given amount of horrible shit. I’m proud to be a survivor. I know certain things. Shit is a great teacher. 

My mother taught me by negative example not to feel contempt for my own tribe. Her railroad tracks ran out in 1980, when she committed suicide. She rolled up on the terminal station of her mental Auschwitz and it didn’t look very inviting.

I know this isn’t my best-written piece, I know it’s sloppy and barely hangs together. I’m trying to start a conversation. I’m tired of being dismissed by little kiddies half my age who are now taste-makers, trend-setters and power brokers.

I’m trying to make my mark as a writer and I passed Rejection Slip #500 a long time ago for my novel, CONFESSIONS OF AN HONEST MAN. It’s as profound and touching a story as all get-out, it will make you laugh and make you cry but it has no vampires, nor anything with long teeth, it’s just about people and the way they go about healing themselves from having crazy mothers. Seventy pages of this book take place in 1982 Afghanistan! It’s exciting as  hell!

Literary agents, editors,  publishers, taste-makers and other cultural filters and gate-keepers will some day be either seventy four years old or six feet underground. I invite them NOW, (before it’s too late) to get on my train, whose tracks are constantly being built right under the engine and we never know where we might end up.

(Today’s magic word is “Duck on a string”.  Okay, four words.)

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison.

These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Book Review: Canadian Werewolf in New York

When I picked up Canadian Werewolf in New York, by Mark Leslie, I must admit, I had visions of one of my favorite werewolf movies. But Leslie’s wolf isn’t one plagued by the spirits of his victims, as are the American versions. It was a pleasant surprise to find that I was wrong on that note.

Mark Leslie’s werewolf uses his more beastly senses like superpowers to come to the aid of the damsel in distress, making this story a cross between a pulp story and a werewolf cozy, as his writer turned wolf character goes about solving mysterious disappearances for the woman he loves, and fighting crime in a classic hero’s journey. Quite entertaining.

A Canadian Werewolf in New York

His main character, Michael, is a Canadian writer, trying to make it in the big apple, but of course he’s also a werewolf. The appearance of his old flame asking for his help finding out what her fiance is up to throws him into a mystery, calling his sleuthing skills into play. At the same time, there’s another wolf in town, and he must use all of his heightened wolf senses to sniff out his rival and protect the girl.

As an author, I know it can be very effective to use the senses to help put the reader in the story, but I also know it can be tricky writing in details of the senses other than those we use and think about most. But, Leslie has managed to skillfully craft in and use the sense of smell throughout this tale, taking the reader on an olfactory adventure like none I’ve had before. Brilliant!

I listened to this tale in the audio book form, and I must say that the narrator, Scott Overton, does a fantastic job, never once stumbling on difficult character nicknames like “Mr. Hyper-halitosis”. He also did a fabulous job with a Yorkshire accent and the female voice.

I truly enjoyed listening to Canadian Werewolf in New York. I found it fresh and entertaining, and I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Mind Fields: Don’t Fall Apart

Mind Fields

You can’t fall apart when things go wrong. And when I say “go wrong” I mean badly wrong, way wrong. The loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a diagnosed illness: that kind of wrong. You can’t fall apart.

 It’s difficult, NOT to fall apart. We don’t have rational control of emotions. Grief, despair, depression, are creatures with wills of their own and they seem to take over the daily habits that normally sustain us. How do I NOT fall apart? How do I fight back and regain my dignity after seemingly chucking it into the trash? Where do I find the “fight” in me, after I’ve curled into a fetal position and gone”waaaah!”

The answer is “ANY WAY YOU CAN!” I thought to do some writing, and I ended up writing this. Which will take about five minutes. I wanted to work on my novel in progress and I sat staring at the page feeling waves of terror streaking through my innards. It’s difficult to write through waves of terror. I’ll make it.

I’ll get there.

Last year a man died suddenly. He was the man who provided me with three quarters of my contracting work. Then I had a major health scare. Things began going to pieces, one little piece at a time. Isn’t that always the way it works? No, it isn’t. It’s never just one big thing; more like a lot of little things until it seems that nothing will ever go right again.

That isn’t true! That’s the voice of depression. As a grizzled veteran of the fight against depression I understand the feeling that a low emotional state is permanent. It isn’t. But you can’t fall apart. You have to fight back. Depression is a force of nature with which we contend. It’s here that we find our own heroism. Here, in the battle against the cognitive darkness that threatens to overwhelm us at any time. This is where we ultimately shine.

If you’ve got any energy, go clean something. That often works well to lighten the mood. Or, better, go help someone else who is in trouble. In the process you will forget your own troubles.

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: When We Are The Sociopaths

Mind Fields

The Sociopaths

If you vote for a sociopath to serve in public office, you may be acting from your own sociopathic tendencies. Americans have succumbed to a sociopathic culture that is sad and shocking. It isn’t wealth or poverty that counts in the USA. It’s numbness to the suffering of others. It is disturbing that numbness has spread itself wide, that apathy has replaced interest in public discourse. The awful fact is that people are dead inside. How do I know this? I know it from personal experience. I was also dead inside. Now, I have a bit of life within myself. I continue to fight this social and spiritual desolation. I am less dead than in the past. I use every tool I can grasp: therapy, meetings with a group, reading about psychology, learning about Consciousness itself. 

Growing up in a typically dysfunctional family has left me reeling with emotional pain and often engaged in struggles with addiction and other debilitating conditions. I didn’t want this! I wanted to live free and happy but that is neither possible nor even desirable. I have learned patience and the ability to frame my narratives of pain in terms that show their creative importance.

As far as I know, I was not “sent here” by anyone other than another faculty of my very core SELF. We need to understand that possession of a Self is a very high privilege, a vital connection between what is human and what is not of this world but of some inner possibility. Selfness is a condition of consciousness, a unique and important faculty of identity. It isn’t random, it doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from within the mind and the fact that there IS a mind at all is crucial. Why? Why have a mind? Of what evolutionary use is a mind? All creatures have minds and some of them may be highly organized and developed. We have no idea what goes on in the mind of an animal like a whale or an elephant. It seems clear from observation that they are not automatons. Nor are they entirely conditioned by nature. There is something else, something beyond our grasp, about the minds of other species. We are desperately uninformed. At best, we are guessing, by way of zoologists, veterinarians, communicators and empaths. 

What if a blue whale knows about the cosmos from an entirely different perspective? What if its brain produces some profound psychedelic that eludes human beings? In its own way it may be swimming among the stars. Is there not an inner life within the life we see? Should not a bear possess an inner life? Does not its memory belong to the universe?

It is essential to respect ALL life forms as conscious and sentient. The concept that MAN is above all other life forms is specious and dangerous. We need to get over ourselves.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: Two Of My Thoughts

Mind Fields

Two Of My Thoughts

#1

Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well. That’s from Webster’s dictionary. I bring it to your attention because if this nation is suffering from a widespread psychological disorder it is this: a lack of discernment. It is the inability to judge well from the information that’s available. There are millions of casualties to this disease which is more sinister than Covid 19. It is something that has no name. I call it The Plebny or Recalcitrant Flux.  Any force, power or person who spreads this disease is committing crimes against our planet. In this turbulent time we NEED discernment to pick our way through the fields of ignorance and bad information. Listen to me: bad information. There’s no such thing as bad information. I refer to the mis and disinformation filled with distorted content, warped propaganda, mendacity in the service of ego and power. We’re afflicted by people in power who lie automatically, without internal scanning or external censorship. Damage is being done! Without discernment we are easily manipulated, like cattle being led by nose rings. Further, these people without discernment are unaware of their lack. It is impossible to engage in dialogue with people who can’t perceive with precision and conscience. I am willing to consider other points of view. I’m not stuck. It takes a little effort to discern things. It takes honesty, most of all. With whom are we honest? We must be honest with ourselves most of all because human beings have a tendency towards various mental impediments to honesty like Denial, Shame, Depression, Grandiosity, Narcissism, Sociopathy, Psychopathy, Crushed Affect, Sleepwalkers Syndrome, Intentional Psychomyopathy and Heartbane. There are so many wacked out people in the world that the earth is saturated with their craziness.

A few wild names in there? Blame Mad Magazine and my high school pal and class comedian, Jay Grodsky, for that. We made up goofy names together. He had a ducktail in the back of his head and a giant spit curl falling across his forehead and he was the coolest guy in the world. This was WAY before Travolta but about contemporary with Edward “Cookie” Burns. Jay’s divorced mom didn’t care what he did and he had this big house to fool around in. I idolized Jay but I fear that he barely knew I existed. I wasn’t very cool. In those days I absorbed the coolness of others rather than, as I do now, generate coolness from my nature. I am a cool guy. I waft coolness from my pores.

#2

I think poets write for themselves. I never expect anyone to read my poems. And if they did, what would they make of them? I read a few poets. it’s never been the most fascinating literary form for reading. It’s great fun to write it. When a poem occurs for me, I’m in love with the language. I’ve made it do something it’s never done before.  Language exudes emotion. Can I possibly convey how I feel in love?

I’m in love with my therapist. That’s both corny and compelling. A great therapy is one where you and your therapist fall in love,  but have enough sense to stay therapeutic rather than personal. I don’t know my therapist. I don’t have to; not to love her. Believe me, I love her with a deeply lusty feeling. I love her with my body. Other than a few hugs we’ve never touched. But I love her in many ways. I told her that I love her for what she knows about me. I’m already inside of her. By knowing me, she loves me, and that’s the whole story. She gives me definition, the outlines of my bones and organs become visible.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: Why Are Commercials?

Why Are Commercials?

May 2022

I’ve been watching these f..ing things since the beginning of television in the early fifties.

We call them “commercials”, thus making the word a noun. On offer in our affluent culture is a system built upon the marketing of various products. Without marketing there is no Capitalism. In the early days of TV we took for granted that every ten minutes or so the program would pause for a “word from our sponsor”. In most cases that sponsor was one of three things: food, pharmaceuticals or automobiles. 

It hasn’t changed. We still see these interruptions every X number of minutes. Nowadays we mute the volume or we fast-forward but we are forced to waste time on them, one way or another.

When I watch these things I feel a mixture of amused contempt and chagrin. The contempt is for myself and my brethren who have absorbed so many of these messages that the wasted time must amount to… what? Months? Years? I have to wonder. How much of my time has been spent either watching or avoiding these marketing techniques? As much time as I’ve spent sleeping, certainly.

The first commercial that I was aware of was the brand of Twenty Mule Team Borax. It was laundry detergent. It completes the picture of the happy housewife in our capitalist society. She washed clothes in her brand new washer-dryer combo. She fed her children the repulsive junk that was flogged on the Saturday morning cartoon shows. Breakfast cereal. Wonder Bread. Jif peanut butter. Canned peas. I shudder. My insides are permanently made of glue.

The happy housewife model of consumer heaven ruled our lives from the airwaves. Our moms were supposed to be efficient smiling providers of nurture in the form of supermarket comestibles. We had Twinkies. We had cupcakes. So, how come my mom was a raging manic depressive with sadistic tendencies?

I was more likely to get strangled in her apron strings as I was to be poisoned by sugared manna from the delicatessen.

Guess what, people? We have a past. We have history. Our culture has evolved at a rocket pace to keep up with the rate of change. But a lot of us folks came of age in a different world. We don’t understand the stuff our kids and grand kids are consuming. What is this shit? Uh…uh. No Way. 

It’s the same old story updated for modern times. It’s still fast food, pharmaceuticals and Ford pickup trucks. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: Food Disorders And Other Fun Things to Do To F**k Yourself Up

Mind Fields

2022, The Year Of The Great Fungus

I have a conceit, i.e. that I should hold the title as “The World’s Most F**ked Up Person”. The only problem is that all of you would also like to hold this same title. Don’t try to con me. I know what you think. The only reason I know what you think is that it’s the same thing that I think.

Or. I used to think. When I recognized that each of us claims this title as the most neurotic person on Earth, I began to have more confidence in myself. Surely, I reasoned, if I am exactly the same amount of f**ked up as everyone else, then I must belong to this Family of Man. I’m human. And we all know that there is great dignity to being human. We are builders of pyramids, makers of satellites and space ships.

I have a very weird relationship with food. The first time I grasped that I was deeply crazy was when I began to eat huge amounts of food. I indulged especially in sweets. If I were to make a pie chart of my life (and refrain from eating it), I’m sure it would show huge chunks of time in the bulimia/anorexia’ zone. The worst of my food disorders followed me through adolescence; years seventeen through twenty two. I was out in the world, trying to maneuver by being on or near college campuses.

I had a sneaky way of being anorexic. I deluded myself into thinking that this was a spiritual discipline.  Macrobiotics. It would get me high, exalt me spiritually. By eating small portions of brown rice and onions, chickpeas in barley, I was the paragon of yogic discipline. This was who I wanted myself to be. I got skinny. I weighed 125. On top of this I was taking LSD and smoking DMT. I was deep into my purpose, my destiny of becoming a musician of salvation and a figure of reverence. I was grandiose as all hell.

Then I came to a breaking point. After a year of Macrobiotics, I had such a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I bought the ingredients and took them back to my hidey hole. “What are you doing?” I asked myself. “This is a self betrayal, this is the opposite of Macrobiotic food. You asshole, what a failure you are!” So I ate it. Then I ate something else sweet and gooey. Then I couldn’t stop eating every kind of junk food on the planet. I had been like a spring ready to snap. Boing!

I was so ashamed of myself. This was 1967, before eating disorders had been invented. I was a pioneer. My bulimia wasn’t the pukey kind. It was the Exercise Freakishly type of bulimia, the one where on alternate days I would purge with sweat and effort, then follow with a day of relentless eating: an entire apple pie, backed up by a half gallon of ice cream. That kind of eating: epic, disgusting eating. After that came the cookies, and so forth. One day exercising. One day binge eating. Back and forth, one followed the other, for more than a year. I looked for help. I went to the college shrink. He said, “I don’t know what’s happening to you and I can’t help you. Besides, you’re not even enrolled as a student at this college.”

I lost weight during this time. It was paradoxical! How could I be losing weight? My metabolism must have been very confused. My waist was a twenty nine or thirty. I was living in a vacant student’s quarter, avoiding the security guys and bedding down with a pad and sleeping bag. I got money from my dad. I worked as a stable boy at a local horse ranch. A stable boy. I had my drums stashed at the university’s music building in a practice room. I practiced there for hours every day, getting high by all means and experimenting with the limits of my technique. That was the point of not going to college. I let my dad pay for semesters at Western Reserve or Wayne State, and then I would slip down to Yellow Springs from Cleveland and hang out with people who talked to trees. I would practice all the time, working through the famous “Stick Control” books and listening to Coltrane records.

This was a pleasant period that lasted about a year. I may be conflating two different periods of time. It doesn’t matter. That’s the way memory works when it sort of fails to work. I think there’s a memory bank in the brain and it gets filled up and needs to be purged once in a while. It’s all just story anyway. Life truly is fiction, it has to be. I just want a subject to write about and my life has been so bizarre that it qualifies as the stuff of novels. That poor guy (that is, myself) didn’t know what lay ahead. He thought that if he took enough acid, did yoga, ate rice and played the drums then he would launch himself into nirvana. It’s not a bad plan, really. The problem was that I was fractured psychologically, harboring behaviors that would shame me again and again. I was very (he says solemnly) very f**ked up.

These were adolescent ordeals, but they were precursors to my future. In the sixties my eighteen year old self dreamed of cosmic unity while the biggest thing that lay ahead of me was coke and heroin addiction. I interrogated my psyche by reading about psychology. After that came years of therapy. I was determined to save myself ,in spite of my terrible behavior.

It took a long time but none of it can be repudiated. It’s lucky I’m still alive and well.

After my food disorders came cocaine, and then, heroin.

I’m still slightly food disordered. I control, compensate, manage. Mostly I exercise.

The cocaine and heroin almost killed me. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: When A Man Ages

Mind Fields

Dating And Aging: A dilemma

If you’re fifty years or older and you’re looking for a romance you will find that things have changed. In the past it was “the bad boy” who got all the ladies. Now, to these ladies, a bad boy is just an early version of a bad man.

I used to be a bad boy. I was a jazz musician, which is a permanent “bad boy” pass. Now I’m an elder musician. I’ve given up on looking for romance. It can find me; that’s okay.

 It has been difficult for me to re-calibrate my visual expectations. Men are sexually stimulated by their eyeballs. When I was a kid I looked at my dad’s magazines with complete and ardent attention. Without this masculine visual appetite. there would be no porn, no Playboy or Hustler. But there IS, and men like to look almost as much as they like to touch. Men LOOOVE to look.

When I go out into the world, to shop or keep appointments, I see women of my own age in all their seasoned glory. It is an adjustment for the testosterone-fueled man to make… to keep the fires lit on these ladies of fifty and sixty something years. They’re not likely to have fresh pert boobs. Nor a smooth silky skin. As for the shapely ass, eh, maybe… maybe not. 

It’s natural for men to seek young women but that doesn’t make it wise. When a man discovers that young women are children with boobs, he finds a clear warning: this is not going to work. If he fails to sense this warning he’s letting himself in for a universe of grief.

When I set out twenty years ago to look for a partner I was already…uh…old. I knew I was looking for women near to my age, that is, I knew it with my mind but my body and unconscious adolescent still sought out twenty three year olds. I understood that women of my age are mothers and grandmothers. I was stuck inside my twenty three year old male lust for women of reproductive age.

It is nature’s way of ensuring that we continue to reproduce our species. Men were designed to want young women. I’ve been in a battle between twenty something ME and seventy something ME. Men want to follow their instincts and spew their seed far and wide. That doesn’t change but the DRIVE in the older version of myself has changed, it isn’t so insistent, so relentless. Maybe it’s time to change the entire aspect of love, eros and friendship.

Changing these core drives gives me a little breathing room.

It gives me a chance to take a step backward and look at myself. I don’t have abs any more. I have… uh… call them abdominal folds. I’m ridiculously fit, BUT. Fitness is not a definitive draw for women. The females of the human species are attracted to emotional intelligence and vulnerability. They want to know and feel your emotions. After failing repeatedly with women, I got into therapy. I found that a few years of therapy is the most erotic asset one can have. It’s also good for acquiring self knowledge. And this, self knowledge, is the most valuable asset of all. The more you know yourself, the more you know what you’re doing. It’s time to put on your big boy pants. Or your big girl pant-suit; as the case may be.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: It Began With Television

Mind Fields

It Began With Television

April 2, 2022

It began with television. I was born in 1947, which makes me the first generation of TV people. I watched Howdy Doody, Sky King and Death Valley Days. How imprinted in my soul is Twenty Mule Train Borax? It’s permanent. As is….The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke and Rawhide.

Television took the ancient art of storytelling and whisked it away from our personal imaginations. It brought down a shutter on our fantasy and took the lead in guiding our young personalities in ways we could not anticipate. Regard the PURPOSE of television: to make money. We were beyond infatuation. We were addicted to the TV. We stayed up late until the test pattern came on.  When we turned the set off we watched the picture die into a small white dot that after a second turned black. It was time for bed. Our parents didn’t care what we watched. We watched most of it together, except on weekend mornings. There was nothing subversive or dangerous on TV in those days. There were only the illusions of the capitalist marketing system. It sold a lot of laundry detergent. It was very tribal and sad. Yet… hypnotic and cute.

TV affected us. We don’t yet know how the effect scales up. We don’t know what has been done. We base our existence upon what presents on the screen. We are Creatures Of The Screen and it continues, until we have whole walls as screens. And they keep getting bigger! The emitted light enters our bodies and charges our cells. Television is both success and catastrophe. Television morphs into cell phones and monitors. It’s in the gas station restrooms. It’s in our pockets. If it JUST STOPPED right now: what would we do? For a while we would be lost. Many of us would just give up. It’s too hard being a human in this culture without that continual entertainment. We might… some of us… turn to reading or writing. Or solving math problems. Or speaking to our friends and family. 

We are unbearably lonely. That’s what TV has done. It has infected us with our culture’s unprecedented loneliness. Americans are the loneliest people in the world. It doesn’t stop there. Go to the worst barrio in Manila. You will see satellite dishes on the most humble shack. You will see TV sets playing within tiny shops that sell pencils and sponges. Their owners don’t even watch them. They play  Exotic Soaps and Indian made porn tapes. In the souks of Damascus. In the bazaars. Television.

Only the automobile has had such stupendous repercussions. Now, the T.V. has entered the vehicle and drives us to our destinations. We are embraced into the womb of the new culture. Soon, we may not need destinations. We will just be. In our cars. With our media. With our T.V.s.

It is, after all, just story telling. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.”

Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

______________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.