| 10 Apr 2008 @ 19:28, by David Bartholomew|
[excerpted from DoingIT!, January, 2007]
Your consciousness slowly, hazily, fades up from black… stirred back from… somewhere… by a gentle rocking and the click-clack along the track of a well-worn New York subway car methodically easing its way toward Coney Island. Gradually the strobing effect of abstract light and shadows outside the window re-member themselves into recognizable images. Sort of. Your cheek is cool, and sticks slightly as you wrest it away from the window amidst coming to an odd revelation.
You don’t know where or who you are. It is only days later that you find out your name is Douglas, and after coming to the realization that complete amnesia is not-- along with evil twins and car chases ending in toppled produce carts—perhaps the realm of latenight suspense movies alone. This is not a dream. You have just awakened from the fugue state.
Thanks to a Netflix referral (those who liked such-and-such, also liked ______) I got turned onto an amazing documentary on the recent life of Douglas Bruce, as directed by a former/current, old life/new life friend of his, Rupert Murray. Unknown White Male (2005) purports to be a recounting of the true events of Bruce’s life since awaking on said subway in 2003. Some Googling on this also stirred up some potential conspiracy theory on the authenticity of all this. And it remains for the viewer to decide on which side of the cloudy shower curtain of this authenticity/hoaxissue they stand.
I can only say, this film was done extremely well-- in either case, and inspired incredible directions of thought-- in either case. Set against a backdrop of many of us assessing a year drawing to a close and another promising to tick into being, my timely viewing of Unknown White Male has delivered us a white rabbit which taunts us to follow by asking, “If you lost your past, would you want it back?”
“How much of our past lives--
the thousands of moments we experience-- help to make up who we are?
If you took all of these remembrances, these memories away,
what would be left? How much is our personality, our identity,
determined by the experiences we have… and how much is already there? Pure us?”
-- from Unknown White Male
Enter-- fugue state. About three blocks crosstown from the Twilight Zone, remember your transfer, then grab the M line.
“The fugue state, according to an expert in the film, “ is a very interesting condition in which the individual does not have the ability to retrieve information about their past. They may not even know who they are. But what makes it so interesting is that they’re not aware of that at the time. They may be traveling or functioning in some way for hours, days even weeks… not knowing who they are. But until they are put in a situation where somehow this is brought to their attention… they’re unaware of it. At the moment they become aware, then the fugue state per se is broken, and they realize they don’t know who they are.”
I want to experience fugue state! Or an equivalent, albeit voluntary state of rediscovery. Talk about the power of now!
And, now, newly into 2007 and grappling with what of yesterday’s self to bring forward with us into our intended, intentional lives and brighter futures, such concepts are quite mad hats to try on.
Doug’s rediscovered old friend Jim summed it up this way: “He has to make the decision now as he gets to know his past which bits to re-embrace and which bits to discard. In some ways he’s quite lucky he’s in a position where he can make that decision. He can suddenly meet someone that he doesn’t like anymore and say, ‘Sorry I’m not the same person I was. Piss off’. It would be great!”
And somewhere swirling around all these thoughts, wherefores and what-if’s that this film has engendered in me, is a renewed challenge-- to myself, and you-- to really, consistently attempt to reinvent myself and ourselves… constantly. To consistently evaluate without prejudice, through clearer and clearer lenses and filters-- all that which we wish to continue to bring forward in our lives, our world; and to work toward discarding again and again any of the old thought patterns and actions, programmed thinking from bygone days, all the rusty iron filings of our lives that somehow are still magnetically re-aligning in our “field” upon each morning’s awakening, by way of habit and inattention.
“He’s had the great opportunity to reinvent himself and become a completely different person”, mentions his sister. “Not many of us get that chance. You know, start afresh and put behind all the things we wish we’d done differently or hadn’t done at all. And every day is a new day and brings new things and he learns from it, and we tend not to do that. We get sort of stuck in our daily routine and we don’t learn daily”.
Aware that this might be sounding like an endorsement of bonking ourselves on the head to achieve our own amnesiatic state (warning-- do not attempt this at home)—how luscious might it be to rediscover the taste of chocolate or a light snowfall for the first time? Or to get to fall in love with our beloved ones all over again? Every day!
And so I am inspired to attempt to voluntarily enter into as much know-nothingness as I can each moment, to continue DoingIt! by achieving, to the degree possible, a state of childlike wonder. The realm of the blank slate. This is my resolution. Happy New Year.
Hey, has anyone seen my keys?