This blog, now into its eighth glorious(?) year, is entitled Glimpses of a Disturbed Mind. Over the weekend, as I sat surrounded by organ keyboards and related assemblies and parts, it was pointed out to me that we have moved well beyond glimpses of the author’s mind: we are after all fast approaching the 800th post. What passes for the author’s mind has surely been laid bare for all to see – or at least all with access to a sufficiently uncensored version of the internet and possessed of an interest in the author and with the considerable patience (and time) needed to wade through the 778 (at time of writing) back numbers. I would maintain that there are whole areas of my psyche – and most of my hidden darkness – that have been kept successfully obscured from prying eyes: though a competent mental health professional may be less convinced by this line of reasoning. However, I would have to accept the further criticism that whilst the eponymous mind may (or may not) be disturbed it is undeniably self-obsessed.
This combined with other recent bouts of self-reflection about my emotional responses to life have led me to ponder whether the author is a psychopath (in addition to having the disturbing habit of referring to himself in the third person). At the risk of immediately diffusing any form of dramatic tension at this early stage in the post, I have assessed the author using a number of on-line tests for psychopathic tendencies and can be reasonable confident that he (and so I) am not a psychopath. I have not had the time (or inclination) to read through the whole of DSM-5 in an attempt to characterise my mental pathology with any specific diagnosis, largely because I feel that way lies madness – probably all forms of madness and other psychological and neural disorders in that hefty tome (with the possible exception of housemaid’s knee).
Normally, I do not worry too much about my psychological make-up as I seem to smile and laugh far more than is reported as typical, so figure it can’t be too bad. I have slight concerns about my psychological resilience given the oddly charmed life that has been my lot to date – though some of that may be down to me taking my life as lived and choosing to label it as ‘oddly charmed’; others may have taken the same life and feel themselves to have been cursed. I am hoping that heavy caveat is sufficient to placate Fate and not draw her attention tither: unless she is using an alias, she does not appear to be a follower of GofaDM.
This recent pondering of my possible psychopathy arose after going to see the play Things I Know to be True last Friday. This has received very good reviews and produced a very substantial emotional response in the audience sharing the Nuffield Theatre with me on Friday evening. I found myself left oddly unmoved – which is odd, as I usually find myself weeping (or at least tearing-up) at the most trivial and banal of narrative elements on stage, screen or page. The play was perfectly alright and there were many laugh-out loud moments, but the key emotional moments seemed too obviously telegraphed from rather early on. Part of me was waiting for each predicted emotional maximum to arise which somehow robbed them of any real affect (and effect, for that matter). Since many of life’s great tragedies or emotional peaks can also be forecast ahead of time (and often with more than the 60 minutes notice one might obtain from a play), I found myself wondering if I had become some sort of pitiless monster (or was ever thus). I have often joked that I have ‘all the empathy of a well-aimed half-brick’ (a phrase I believe I borrowed from early Terry Pratchett) but had I been showing unwitting insight all these years?
These thoughts consumed me for a while, but were unable to survive exposure to the Bobonboboffs set at the Cricketer’s Arms a little later that same evening There is something about vigorous ska – eventually delivered by a lead singer minus his slacks and a lead guitarist on a table (despite the limited headroom) that renders such maudlin self-regard difficult to sustain. I’m not sure if they’ve ever explored the therapeutic element of their work, but it is always an option…
I was reminded of the childlike delight I had taken in elements of my first stumbling attempts at playing Cruella de Vil (by one Melville A level) on the piano earlier that week. My first time doing some jazz-style things using my fingers was an incredible high and makes me determined to master the piece, despite its difficulty: and not just as a suitable theme to accompany my personality. I was also forced to recall that my eyes have had to take an early bath during almost all of the other recent plays I have seen – with particular reference to The Busy World is Hushed and Quaint Honour at the Finborough Theatre – and the last time I went to the flicks – to see Call Me by Your Name. Though this did lead me to wonder if I can only generate an emotional response where some form of romance exists: even if this existence is purely in my own head. I think I’m using romance here with a relatively broad definition and not just as it relates to gland games. Then again, given that I have not really competed in any gland games – even at an amateur level – it may be that my response reflects a lack of emotional maturity. Perhaps, emotions that I have not had need to use in own life are spilling out given any remotely viable outlet to avoid some sort of over-pressure shut-down or, if left unvented, explosion. Though, frankly that reads like cod psychology even to me – and who can guess the mental state of a demersal fish?
So, to sum up Your Honour, there is no psychological impediment to prevent my client acquiring that set of meat cleavers and I trust you will allow him to exit this courtroom without a stain on his character!