You start out standing,
proud to steal her anything she sees;
then you wind up peeking
through a keyhole
down upon your knees     – Bob Dylan


God, it’s dark in there;
so darkly, sweetly dark.
Dark as something enclosed by a fist,
or a peach without a pit.
Smell: the silent fetal scent
in a lunar moth’s cocoon.
Or, the other side of the harvest moon.
So dark, so softly dark.
Sound: the plunge of a shooting star
sucked into a primal black hole.
Feel: a thatched bed of fern shadow,
with a pillow of blackcat peat.
So dark, so shadowy dark.
Taste: like the earth.
Like a mother.

Invariably, the adult who cannot experience an organic attachment to another would be the same child that had never known a sense of containment in a mother’s embrace.

The story goes that in the early morning hours of my birth, my mother tore off her wedding ring and dashed it against the institutional green wall of a delivery room in the Toronto Western Hospital – so interminable and excruciating was her labour. My birth was a clumsy one, in which the ham-handed doctor crushed the right temporal bone of my skull with a pair of surgical forceps. Although the malleable bone eventually righted itself of the doctor’s bumbling, this (when the ache in my head is not full blown) has left me with a dull pressure behind my right eye, which has persisted throughout my life. I also consider his ineptness to have been the source of my three episodes of Bell’s Palsy (a medical phenomenon rare in the literature), and the tumor at the base of my brain.
In the Hebrew religion a boy child is circumcised on his eighth day, the sensitive foreskin snipped off his little penis. Many Rabbis insist that at this precise moment, God inspires the baby with the balm of pain-resisting breath, to lift him above this primal trauma. But, I don’t know.
When I reached puberty I had the following recurrent dream concerning the shocking ceremony attending my own ritual circumcision:
I was brought in on a silver platter, sold by my father to the rabbi for a dollar, and then bought back by my father from the man in black when he had finished his holy work.
Concurrent with my actual bris, I suffered an outbreak of impetigo that covered my entire body while pus oozed out of the pours of my raw skin like starch through a ricer. After seven days, I had neither yet opened my eyes to the world I had inherited, nor sucked the milk from my mother’s leaking breasts. Over the years I often imagined my father laughingly say that I was such a suffering mess, he had to be cajoled into to buying me back. A dollar is a dollar, after all.

The newborn enters the world in a normal phase. We may describe the infant then as a parcel of very singular and intense needs and drives. Ideally, these would find their natural targets at its mother’s body. These targets would include the nipple and the breast, the mother’s natural smells, the warmth rising from the body, her milk, her touch, the sound of her voice, and perhaps even the rhythmic rising of her chest and belly as she breathes. The infant attaches itself in this manner to its mother’s body, does not recognize its mother but it knows the experience of attachment and containment … the experience of an organic union with a body greater than itself. It will be this same body which will define its first and perhaps most vital environment.

I remember one time when I was a young man, breaking up with a lover. I was lying in bed wondering if I missed the physical her as much as I missed her mind. Usually it was her mind that I thought about when we were apart; her mind, and the memories of our events. So, in my imagination, I tried to conjure up the bodily her. I took it one sense at a time. I thought first about the way she looked, and that to me she was the most beautiful woman I knew; then, the way she smelled, that perfect blend of her favourite perfume and her natural odour; the way she sounded, had the most delightful vocal quality in a voice that I had personal knowledge of (I loved even to hear her telephone messages); the experience of her skin, that I often told her was thrilling, and how healing was her touch when she massaged me after we made love; even the taste of her, her skin and her mouth and her incomparable womanhood. I had an idea about all these things, but I had never defined them, or considered them as a composite. And it took me a little by surprise that she was my physical ideal; all that I sought in a woman’s presence.

The infant which is denied access to its mothers breast, to her warmth and smells and body movements, suffers this circumstance in no shallow manner. Almost invariably, the trauma becomes ingrained in its subconscious mind and is the central design of its reality. Sadly, the years would mitigate very little here. This dictates that the world external to this person, now an adult, is envisioned as one which does not include an object which may serve as the natural and willing target for his inherent physical needs and drives.

So you think about what you were thinking
when you were down there,
nursing on vagina,
sucking it,
searchingly, frantically,
as if it were a missing nipple.
The way it looked and how it sounded;
how it felt and the way it smelled.
And the taste of it,
the sweet dark taste of it.
Your eyes and your ears,
and your nose and your tongue
and your discriminating brain,
right there!
in the object of its attention;
receiver of the carnal information.

The Freudian concept of repetition compulsion becomes central to the evolvement of the rejected infant’s life. We look to the dynamics of repetition compulsion to explain the behavioural patterns of this person in all his future intimate relationships, and we may expect this individual to duplicate the experience of rejection for the better part of his life.

And you think about what you were thinking,
when you were told
you behaved like a creep.
You had violated her privacy,
looked through her windows and doors,
even her mail chute,
looking, looking.
You didn’t think you were a creep;
but neither did you know what you were.
You knew you weren’t some neurotic pervert
looking for something to settle his lust.
You just didn’t remember, that’s all.
You didn’t know that you were an infant man
with his pizzle wrapped in blood-stained gauze,
his half-head dented in,
his epidermis leaking pus,
looking, looking,
through that mail chute there,
down upon his knees there
still looking for his mother.


(C) 2012 arne torneck all rights reserved
Google images