The Anatomy of My Eternal Funk / (Waiting for the coffee to kick in and typing away al fresco at the Blueline in Dundee) / Foreword to Vol. 1

The one-time Vicar of St. Thomas’ Church in Oxford, Robert Burton, said they should probably bleed me. And though he was dead for some 309 years before I was born into my bummer of a life, he was just the sort of guy I listened to. I always ascribed wisdom – no doubt naively – to dead guys who could scribble satirical Latin comedies, identify dried plants, and practice socially acceptable forms of pedantry. Discovering his work, bound in a flayed and lacquered skin of some bovine sort at the local branch library, I was delighted to find that he too suffered as I. We both had, as it is said, gravidium cor, foetum caput [a heavy heart, a hatching in my head] and we both shared a love for the humorous effects of vile curses, profane language, and the odd, crude double entendre.

My Mother, as orthodox a Catholic as she was, had no moral objections to this medieval course of treatment, and might have taken a steak knife to me had I begged her – after all, her family had a history of dabbling in the Cathar Heresy. But she was drunk most of the time and never read any of Burton’s books. If she were to ex-sanguinate the smoky humours that plagued my mind, I would at least have her understand the purpose of the cut. That is, I’d want her to see the incision as a scientific procedure, not just some sadistic acting out of a vague, misdirected Oedipal conflict. I had enough problems without drifting into that particular archetype. My father, who was usually on the road selling dismemberment insurance to farmers, tried to stay out of the argument. Though one might have expected him, on account of his vocation, to be open to the basic premise, he had little interest in seeing any more bloodshed, being as he’d been a reconnaissance painter for the Army Air Corps in WWII and witnessed the decapitation of his favorite easel as a result of enemy fire. “A lucky shot by a Kraut sniper,” he’d mutter when he was drunk. He had become a fatalist, and figured if his son was depressed then, “Well, he’ll have to get over it, won’t he?” I tried to explain Burton’s concepts. Even begging for my parents, if they would not bleed me, to at least hire a Doctor of Philosophy to extract the stone of madness from my head. But they just thought I was going through a phase. They could not accept the word of an iron-defficient pubescent boy. I needed to show them the actual text, but the library had been burnt to the ground by a mob during the Summer of Love, and any purchase of such an expensive book as Burton’s was beyond our reach in those days as we struggled to recover financially from the tornado that had leveled our suburban home forcing us to move the television set to the basement. My Grandmother’s fortune might have helped, but fate intervened again. Old Marie died, rather dramatically, on the Mezzanine level of the Empire Theater in Kansas City, during the first-run of De Mille’s Ten Commandments. Yvonne DeCarlo had just reached out with tentative fingers, to touch Charlton Heston’s beard, newly silvered by the beatific vision he had just had of Claudette Colbert’s bare midriff, when Marie suddenly went stiff, arched her back like a Slinky, sprung high out of her seat, and shot ballistically, body and soul, over the railing, landing on a farm family from Olathe, thirty-five feet below. Sad. After that I never could take any pleasure from The Munsters, even now, in these days of syndication. My aversion to this iconic re-telling of Wollstonecraft’s masterpiece is no doubt a direct result of that horrifying evening. Lily’s face, under that shock of white hair, still brings back too much of the trauma for me to bear. In fact, to this day any raven haired woman – walking a pack of dogs on the street, standing behind a high-interest post-dated check cashing teller’s window, or masquerading as an understanding therapist – can push me to the edge of a dissociative break. At any rate, the inheritance had been wiped out by the cost of repairs required to restore the plush velvet seats beneath the balcony directly impacted by Grand Mama’s fatal momentum, and further debt was incurred by the medical bills of the young, rural girl injured in the incident. Though the poor nymph recovered, mostly, due to the concussion she received from my grandmother’s hip striking her head, the poor thing apparently became chronically euphoric. This debilitating condition caused her parents to initiate a lawsuit that may still be in the courts today. I cannot be certain. Thus bereft of any financial resources I was forced to attempt the impossible. If I could not purchase The Anatomy of Melancholy, I would recreate it. I would take my Bic pen, my yellow legal pad, and my small stash of White Crosses and begin. The concepts, and the insights that the Reverend Burton catalogued in his masterpiece would be updated, refreshed, recreated for the new age. It would be an immense work, but as Democritus Junior said, “There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness, no better cure than business.” I shall be about my business. I shall describe the Anatomy of my Eternal Funk. We shall explore all the learning, scholarship, and magic available to those who share my affliction. The Alchemy of Mr. Juicer, the miracle of Electro-Convulsive Therapy, Mesmerism, Chiropractic, Medicinal leaches, Acupuncture, Fish Oil Supplements, Exercise and blogging. Churches, Temples, and Big Box hardware stores staffed by undocumented Hoosiers will illuminate our search. Sages, poets, Certified Life Underwriters, Naturists, and phlebotomists will guide us. We shall wander the landscape of the mind and of the soul together, dear reader. Join me.

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Comment by Paul Guyot on June 30, 2007 at 1:25am
Um, yeah... me, too.

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