I had the pleasure of meeting this man when I was back home for Thanksgiving. We only spoke for about 5 minutes, but our conversation was really energizing. I told him I was a farmer and he told me about a vivid dream he had which led him to believe that god is a farmer.
(A long conversation about love, art, mental illness and self-management.)
“You sound great. Did you also paint these?”
“I did. When you have a girlfriend who drives you crazy for 20 years, you find ways to get your madness out.”
“How is she driving you crazy?”
“She has schizoaffective disorder. When I met her, I was 31 and she was 20. For 5 years she was ok, and then it wasn’t so good anymore. Still, I think I came out of that experience much stronger—in mind, body and spirit. We keep in contact all the time, but we’re not together.”
“Have you met anyone else?”
“Why is that?”
“Because I know she wouldn’t want me to, and there’s no way with her condition that she is going to meet anyone who will stay with her. She’s not stable. So I just hang around. If she needs me, I’m there. If she wants to get back together, I’m there. Schizoaffective disorder is not like drugs or alcohol or anything like that. Do you know anything about mental illness?”
“A little bit.”
“Well, the erratic behavior, the negativity, the self-destruction—all that stuff is there. But I knew her before she got ill. I know deep down inside she doesn’t want me to leave. So I just paint, play, paint, play. If we never get back together, that’s fine. But if one day she’s better, I don’t want to have to tell her, ‘I’m sorry, I’m married; I have someone else.’ So, yes, she’s very much responsible for my songs and my paintings.”
“It sounds as though there’s an element of feeling bad for her, or feeling responsible.”
“Oh, yes. Sometimes there are a lot of emotions when you love someone. There’s guilt; there’s hurt; there’s feeling bad. Let’s say she hadn’t come down with schizoaffective disorder but had gotten in a car accident and lost her legs. I would feel guilty; I would feel bad; I would feel sad for her.”
“Right. And in your mind these are similar. You would stay with her the same way you would stay if she had lost her legs.”
"Yes. If it had been drugs and alcoholism, perhaps it’s a little bit different. Perhaps I would walk away from that. Because you’re out of rehab, and then you could go out and start hanging around with those other people again and go back to drinking, and go down that road again. Anyway, that’s my life in a little nutshell.”
“What do you write about? The song I just heard was about love.”
“They’re all about love. They’re all about being tortured by love. But not the kind of love I’m getting.”
“But you’re being tortured.”
“By my loving other people. And I don’t know if she has it in her to stay with me if things were reversed and I were in her situation. Anyway, I try not to think about that or to blame her. But sometimes I think, OK, if I were to die today, she—and she was adopted—knows that someone loved her. That’s drilled in her head. She can’t die thinking that no one ever loved her. Also, I can die today knowing that I love someone, someone outside of my family. And that’s a really big deal. But sometimes I also realize that I have not ever been loved by anybody, except some in my family.And I don’t know if anyone would go to the lengths I’ve gone. No one has done so for me. I don’t think that anyone would ever lay down their life like I have for someone.”
“Is she in any of these paintings?”
“She’s in some. She’s definitely in this one. I’m also working on another painting. Julie—her name is Julie—was telling me about a story a long time ago, back when she 7 or 8. She was trying to play some games with the girls in her stepfamily, and they didn’t want to play the games she wanted to play. Those were probably early signs of the schizoaffective disorder popping up even back then. So, she cries and runs, and she hides behind a fence. And in the painting she’s behind the fence and looks very, very sad. Around her are smiling suns. She’s pink, the background’s grey. There are three big birds with open mouths. To the left is the redhead—my nurturing side—and behind her are two ghouls. There’s also another face above her—it could be God. And at the end of the canvas is a scribbling of a house, but it’s noticeable. You know what it is. The painting is called ‘The Only Way Home.’ Julie has to go through all of that to get home. She has to come out from behind that fence, accept the realities of her illness and the monsters, along with all the things that she’s done wrong. Because even though people have mental illness, they still do bad things. They’re still mean. They broke something—it’s still broken. You’re not going to tell them that, but it’s broken. Yes, we know you didn’t mean it because you are not well, but it’s still broken. So, in the painting, somehow my nurturing side—the woman who’s taking the crap—has all the demons around her, but Julie looks like she’s at peace. I can’t wait until she sees the painting, although I don’t want to freak her out.”
“Does this one here on the left, with the two faces, represent in any way a split personality or would such an interpretation be too obvious?”
“I don’t know about that. Well, I guess you can say split personality. We think that there is one person in us. Just one. I believe there are many people in you. Some of them have very subtle energy. The one with the most powerful energy is at the forefront. That’s you. But there are other, potential personalities. In some ways it’s similar to schizophrenia where the other personalities have gathered enough strength to come to the forefront of that person. In that case, not only is the person dealing with the one they grew up with, but also with 3 other people. These other personalities could be real, as real as you and I are. I’ve got five. First, I have a child in me. I think we all have the child in us. The child from the time we were 3 to 5 years old—that very powerful time—still has energy that lives with us. Then comes the musician who has a completely different set of interests from the painter. The guy who paints the paintings couldn’t give a damn about a stupid little 3-minute pop song. It’s a different state of mind. I’ve separated them. That’s three—the child, the musician and the painter. There’s also a woman in me, as I hinted. I think there’s a woman in every man and there’s a man in every woman. She’s my nurturing side, the one who understands Julie. Then there’s me, William O’Keefe, who really doesn’t do anything but organize the other four. In my mind they’re all in this big room. Do you really want to hear this?”
“Of course I do.”
“OK. So, now I’m knocking on the door. It opens. In the room I see the child, Billie, and the woman. She’s got red hair, like me. She’s a part of me, but she’s not me. The two of them never leave the room. Every time I open the door, the child is about 2 or 3 years old. He’s in a playpen and never communicates, to me or to them. The child is just there. So, I open the door, and I see the woman, the guitar player, the painter, and the child. And I have to go in there and deal with them. You got me on this? So, there are five of me. I had to put those other four all in their place. You have some people who put all their clothes—the pants and the shirts and the socks—in one place, and they have no idea where everything is. That’s what drives people crazy: They’re not in control. So, all of a sudden, the other personalities would pop up, open the door, walk out into the damn hallway, and wander around the damn house. I have them all separated, so I can have more control over them.
And if you don’t know you have them, then you have another problem. Many people think that they have only one personality, and then they snap and say or do something, and they wonder why and where it came from. They would say, ‘I’m sorry; I don’t know what happened to me. I have no idea why I reacted this way.’ Or they would say, ‘That wasn’t me.’ ‘But that thing didn’t pop up out of the blue. The asshole in you came out. But you don’t think there is an asshole in you, right?’ ‘Oh, really? Well, where is he?’ ‘What do you mean, where is he? He must be somewhere in there. Does he look different than you?’
I’ve been messing with these four for a long time. I’m very friendly with them. I have them totally under control. No one can pull any surprises on me. I know exactly what to expect from the redhead, the child, the painter, and the musician.
But at one point when I was younger, the four of them weren’t even there, except for the child; the child was always there. I didn’t even know the room existed in my house.I would go off, and I didn’t know who it was that went off. There was a person in me that looked very different than I do now. He was an athlete and he is dead now. That’s the guy I killed in me. He was a dangerous one, and I had to destroy him. When I say ‘he’ I mean ‘me,’ of course. He was here, in my head, but real nonetheless. When I was 20, there was no woman, no painter. I was pretty irate. I was a cocky high schooler, I would get into fights and do stupid things. He was the result of all 20 years of my upbringing. That’s what my family brought me up to be. It was that 20-year-old person that they pretty much sculpted: how I thought, what I believed, everything. I was the product of my environment. My family was very dysfunctional: alcoholism in the background, grandfathers, dominant grandmother who overpowered her children, and so on. I didn’t kill that personality overnight. It took me awhile to get rid of him. When you’re sculpted a certain way, it takes time.
I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and as I said no one has ever loved me, but there were a couple of things I hit out of the park. One of those things was getting my father out of me because I had derived all this rage from him. And I think before we can find our true selves, we have to destroy that negative side.”
do you ever think about random, uninhabitable places? i looked at the border of three us states: nevada, oregon and idaho. from what i can see on the map it seems quite desolate. what goes on out there? anything? does any one drive out to the point in the desert where those three states meet? is there even a sign or anything to mark that arbitrary border in the sand?
also, this image perfectly shows how idiotic the straight lines humans impose on nature look.
No caption. Shepherd on stilts.
From Central European costume part 2 (Miscellaneous engraved plates of Central European costume and fashion, collected and pasted into scrapbooks)
happy birthday tod
six and a half months of growth. mermaid hair is a lot of work. incidentally, i’ve been combing my hair with a fork because i lost my comb. just call me ariel, folks.
reasons i know i am an adult, cont.
today i found someone’s business card and instead of putting it in the recycling bin i sent them an email that i had promised i would send.
spooky halloween tunes
buster keaton is a pretty lady.
i thought the latest episode of new girl named “keaton” was titled as such because jess was gonna dress up as buster keaton for halloween and forever cement my love for zooey deschanel. i was sorely mistaken. michael keaton was the keaton in question.
"Wickid pissah dood. This fahckin guy kehd. Let the Sawx all get a pahk of Mahbs dood."
funniest beatle. the title of this video makes it seem like he was being vicious. “george harrison swears & insults paul and yoko.” okay youtube. alarmists!
best beatle. so cute!