theoretical disorientation: a letter to my uncle To: Dr Carl R Rogers CENTER FOR STUDIES OF THE PERSON 1150 Silverado St. Suite #217 La Jolla, CA. 92037 Dear Uncle Carl, I have a few questions for you, if you would be so kind, if you wouldn’t mind, if you’ve got the time If my configurations of self all got together could they beat my internal objects at cricket or ping pong? Who would come out on top in a pro-wrestling match, my true self or my false self? Would my internal objects recognise my configurations of self in a mirror crafted by Winnocott, held up by Fairbairn and Klein? If Winnicott drew a picture of Bion would Mearnes and Thorne see the ineffable O in his eyes or would they be too busy looking for seashells and existential touchstones to notice? What does it feel like to actualize, does it tickle, does it hurt? Are potatoes blind like Oedipus despite having eyes? Oh and that reminds me, if you see Uncle Sigi, if you come across him over a hand of bridge, or while drinking a whiskey sour or a small glass of schnapps, could you ask him for me please What are fathers for? But whatever you do, Don’t ask Oedipus, he knows And while you’re at it, ask him, ask Uncle Sigi: Why pick on Oedipus? Why not Pelops? Now there’s a man with father issues And you, Uncle Carl, what’s your view from Mount Olympus, can you empathise with Oedipus’s bloody lust, maintain unconditional positive regard for Tantalus, who hacked his boy to pieces and served him up as stew, stay congruent in the face of Oenomaus who when faced with his dear daughter’s 18 suitors replied with 18 beheadings? Why are you so silent on the subjects of childhood and sex, when my other uncle has so much to say? Is nameless dread the same thing as primitive agony? Containment the same as holding? Is Klein’s view of the pre-verbal child more accurate than Freud’s? Who knows, who cares, how can this help me as I sit opposite a fortress of fear? And yet it comes to me sometimes, in the quiets of the night, in shreds and snatches Sometimes I listen in a language not my own and hear not just the words, the sore distress, but the naked truth behind your grand theoretical edifices I can hear you now and then, the beauty and the pain of your language that speaks of unarticulatable truths Oh and if you do see Uncle Sigismund please ask after Carl Gustoff, I know they had a bit of a set-to, but he was always kind to me and I’ve missed him these past three years Yours affectionately as always, etc, etc
1. I wrote ‘Confusion’ as part of my final presentation in the Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling at The University of Edinburgh.
2. The poem appears in the Toxic Masculinity issue of Thank You for Swallowing (Volume 2: Issue 4).
Copyright © 2017 Lindsay Oliver