“Negredo,” the alchemical stage of blackening, the psyche’s process of rot that, if endured, will give forth the primum materia of the Work. It is the sign of Kronos-Saturn, father angel of philosophers and depression and exhaustion: the archetypal road where all things begin and end, the Zero. Zero sums, labor that amounts to nothing, the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart” “down where all ladders begin”… and end. I have one more half-dose of antidepressant and then I’m out — zero. The new insurance won’t pay as it’s not a generic and I don’t earn enough to buy it even under the best of circumstances, one bottle being terribly expensive and, as fortune would have it, I require two a month to remain just depressed enough to be sub-waterline.
It’s the only stuff that’s kept me upright for the past 3 or 4 years.
The period of mourning accompanying the passing of my magical chemicals lasted maybe a day with all the accompanying dread of what is about to happen; then the side-effects of tapering myself off kicked in which gave me another preoccupation. I’m shaky, cold even in the 80 degree heat, dizzy, and my hearing doesn’t quite function correctly. One more little square pill, red as Mars or Georgia clay (all the same), and then I pass into darkness at some point beyond: an empty bottle, the presence of lack of deep depression an absence, and I sink again into deep midnight water.
Zero. Fortuna’s Wheel spinning back around again.
Endure. That’s what I do.
The doctor knew this was coming — even with the patient assistance program, the pharmaceutical monstrosity guarding the treasure cave will “allow” me to buy about a month’s supply at around 40% off… for one month. Only to face the same disaster in 30 days, so no, I think I’ll take my beating now, thanks: I was never one for waiting around for the inevitable and I really do not relish being broke for the month while loitering.
I reside in the region of Earth that calls itself America. It is 2016. Technological marvels abound for them with purses full of the insanity of binary code we believe is something called “money” — but look inside that purse and you’ll only find dust that fell from the stars while you weren’t looking. The dust, the meteorite’s tears, we hold as “valueless” and a nuisance; the fantasy, though, that abstractions like ones and zeroes flying through the aether actually mean something holds us spellbound.
And me bound for Zero.
Odd. The world is not going to rearrange itself for me or you or much of anyone. I am really just not that important outside the ambit of my life and sometimes not even the main theme within it. Often, really. From which I derive much humor. I mourned the loss of everything long ago — maybe I am not completely finished as I am but mortal and petty, but now tend to see all meetings as already partings and everything and everyone with a built in ending. Eventually, the end comes for everything and everyone; accepting that up front as part of the bargain for being here allows one to get on with the business of living which, often, is just enduring.
And, really, that may be everything: Enduring with some measure of integrity.
If people better, more innocent, righteous, and decent were not spared Ha-Shoah, I’ve no right whatsoever to flinch in the face of my own minor march into doom. We all go. If this is part of my passage, I accept it.
Not because I hate life. Once, I did. I was as worn out with it as Socrates and for less reason. No, I have grown to love being alive and awake to its utterly mysterious, literally “senseless” qualities. My regrets come when I find myself entombed within it or watching others overwhelmed by it, unable to do anything meaningful aside from bearing witness.
I’ve spent much of my life “bearing witness.” By choice. I could have hidden my eyes, turned my face, inhaled enough dope or shot enough smack to dull all this down to something pleasant, if not hypnotic… but I accepted my vocation as the one who will not turn away, whether it does anyone any good or not.
Maybe that’s the point: to bear witness with compassion. To carry away the stories if one survives the disasters and pass them on so others can make of them… something… after one has passed on, too.
So the rotting, the blackening brings forth stories from a deep, dark perspective, meanings, either for me or for anyone who witnesses with the right sort of eyes. It will deepen me and send me deeper within myself, within “my” Self, which is not mere ego, but that impersonal part , “down where all ladders start/ in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart,” the seat of wisdom and beauty — which is not me or mine at all, but something close to the Divine… and going closer and closer to THAT will kill you if you cannot come back up for air eventually.
The process, if unhalted, will take you from this world to whatever lies next, if anything, for something like me.
Had I been born 10 years earlier, I’d have not made it this far, not made 50 and certainly not seen 2016 — the technosphere was not yet formed intricately enough to provide life-support for my kind. 10 years later and I’d doubtless been in prison or on disability, categorized and monitored out of existence, benignly murdered before the start. As it was, I slipped right through a very fortunate crack in history when no one noticed me — they neither encouraged or discouraged me nor had any notion as to what I was up to… so I did some proper damage for awhile. I influenced and changed a few things. I sent into the public space my reports from a side of existence no one ever paid attention to prior… and never will again.
I don’t have to worry about being rounded up or sent to Guantanamo or being monitored by the next regime — the one swallowing the planet — that will surely see “my kind” as disease-carrying lice to be exterminated. All they have to do is let the insurance companies cut off my medications and the workplaces stop paying me for all I really have to offer — reports from my explorations into the world of ideas and beauty and history. I am a leftover from another age, the one that is all-but-gone, now.
And I with it.
The Wheel turns and I go beneath the axle. I do not have to think it just or decent or righteous (it isn’t)… all I have to do is accept that it is happening, adjust, and bear witness. Zero, Null, all things come back around. I began down here and each little death is preparation for the final act. And maybe the final one — no one knows. Back into winter’s midnight, snowy forest I walk.
1 March 2016
Richard Van Ingram