Armitage euphoria and the figuring things out

[In case you’re worried after reading this, this is NOT a blogger goodbye message. Just a manifesto. I’ll be writing every day, as usual.]

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) changing clothes in Robin Hood 2.6. Source: Seems like a gratuitous shot, but it’s an interesting identity move that Guy has to change his clothes in order to go to the Sheriff.

It’s NaNoWriMo. I’m not registered and I’m not writing a novel. But I’m trying to finish a project. I referred to it previously as the noose around my neck. I need to be free, and I believe G-d was telling me that he wants my yoke broken. Me, too. I’ve told myself if I can finish this, I can say who I am. I can admit to my identity. It won’t have to be instrumentalized anymore for someone else’s purposes, to push me into a box or make money or make me famous against my will or make someone else who’s bought me on an installment plan seem smart for having made a fortuitous bet, because I will have said what I wanted to have said and damn the consequences. They won’t matter any more. It’s probably a much too extravagant pipe dream, but I’m clinging for the present to the illusion that if I can just do this, I won’t have to feel conflicted anymore about all the pieces of me that just don’t fit together, that have never seemed to fit. Instead of wondering why I’m this impossible mosaic of broken pieces that keeping rubbing against each other interminably, I’ll accept that that’s the case and move on, having left this one piece behind me in a brick that’s part of a larger wall (or what seems to me at the moment, more probably, like a steaming chunk of sh** for everyone else around me to smell, to use a metaphor that the person I’m writing about would have loved).

On a day, like today, when I don’t have to think about things other than research and writing, if things go well and I hit that weird zone I’ve been able to get into more regularly lately, I can write thousands of words. I can type about 140 wpm (one of those most valuable things I learned in high school — I learned on an electric typewriter, and so a computer keyboard is tons faster) and I try to disengage my superego and my supereditor, disable the Meyers-Briggs J, and just let my hands go and follow my thoughts. Academic writing is a great deal harder than blogging, but I can still get two or two-and-a-half thousand words together in an eight-hour day — though that will have to be much more heavily revised before it can see the light of day.

The question is getting into that zone as a writer. Getting there every day, every chance I get.

Are the selves we put on for various practical purposes real? What are the purposes that these guises serve? What do they betray — in either sense of the word? Clothed and ready to go to work in his iconic jacket after he’s changed (above) Guy looks at himself in a wavering medieval mirror in Robin Hood 2.6. Source:

I’m realizing some things more clearly. The writing has to come from some sort of essential me, if I can find her. She was hidden so long — I hid her, I shamed her, I told her what she had to say was nothing that anyone wanted to hear — but she seems to lurk around the corners more these days, shyly but with a hopeful expression on her face that I might listen if she said something. I’m reminded about what Judi said about the surprising reemergence of someone she calls “the Silent One.” The morning pages help a lot because they pacify the demons that scare her the most, the ones that come out to play when I’m trying to say something important, the ones that say I’m not good enough especially, by allowing them to have their say when nothing is at stake. Writing is different from teaching, I’ve seen more clearly now, though both are flow experiences. Writing involves uncovering something that hides itself again, every chance it gets, the Servetus that disappears around that corner every time I reach my fingers out in her direction. The teaching, in contrast, is a successful performance of the Servetus I decide to be on those mornings. She has a soundtrack that I play on my car stereo to put her in place, and a series of attitudes that she manifests that reflect values of mine, and gestures that go with her, and a quirky energy, a humor, and a plausibly executed sincerity. But she is not me, and even if I wish sometimes that the teacher Servetus were the real Servetus, in the end I would not give up the quirks of the essential Servetus.

Do you hear that, real Servetus? I will not give you up, I will not let you go, I do not want to be all the things that other people expect from me, I love you and I want to be you, even with all of your jagged edges and strange silences.

“Boy, boy, boy,” from Oblivion with Bells by Underworld. Something that helps me find that place for real Servetus.

When I was struggling, before this blog, now, I can see that I was doing a lot of the wrong things for creativity, mostly in self-defense. I’ve had to spend an immense amount of money in the last month restocking my harddrive with music. Everything I was playing for the last three years was gauged to reduce anxiety. I’d go to a faculty meeting or open my email, feel my blood pressure soaring, then come back to my office and play thirty minutes of medieval motets to calm nyself down. It worked for that, but calm is not really where I need to be to write. What I need to feel for Servetus to come out is a sort of edgy desire. She has to feel not just acceptance, but enough pleasure to want to speak.

I have some clues about how to make this happen. Key is that what turns that woman on is a sensation in my body, not just in my mind, or perhaps a sensation that connects my body with my mind. So provoking this can’t be about the reasonability, the rationality that I cultivated for so long so successfully, that generated so many lifeless pages of academic prose from my printer that in the end meant nothing. Richard Armitage plays an important role. I worry that I’m instrumentalizing him in just the way that I’ve been instrumentalized, admittedly. Even so, I’m in the process of cutting a video that’s designed to push every pleasure receptor in my entire synaptic system to the max when I see it. Armitage euphoria pure. Music with percussion and intense bass lines does it, and I’ve bought a lot of that plus digital stereo headphones for my computer that allow the drums and synthesizer relays to ricochet from one end of my skull to the other and back again. Fiction to stimulate my mind. Phone calls with smart people; silence with draining ones. Avoiding obligations that tax me. As much prayer as I can fit in, rocking around on my body, really physical davening. Lots of espresso during the day, enough wine at night. Things I like to eat in my refrigerator that wake up my tongue. I’m not good at taking care of myself in this particular way — I often forget to eat until I’m starving, and then eat badly — but I need to remember the lesson I’ve gotten from the whole Armitage trip, which is that whatever else happens, i can’t allow my senses can’t close down. They need to be opened up and forcibly if necessary, and taking care of the body end of the equation is just as important as the mind end. One reason that Servetus hides is that there is no body for her to inhabit and I facilitated that for too long by pretending I was just a mind.

I don’t know how to integrate all this, but I am going to try. I’ve found a café where Pesky won’t look for me and ordered Internet for home today. I am going to try to create a setting in which my feet are tapping and my shoulders are weaving as my fingers move over the keyboard, and my nostrils are flaring and a little coil somewhere in the center of me says, listen, pay attention, real Servetus is speaking now, she’s a force to be reckoned with, she is moving across that hypothetical dance floor with a seductive look on her face that won’t let you turn away. You will look at her. She will not be silent. Pay heed. You will dance with her, by G-d.

This morning, just before the alarm went off, I dreamed I was dancing. I don’t have this particular dream very often, maybe only once every two years or so, and it always leaves tears on my face when I remember that I’ve had it. For “religious” reasons, I wasn’t allowed to dance when I was a kid. When this is all over, I am going to turn up the music that’s on my speakers now, the rhythms that ripple through my brain and drive the pleasure centers and the mind and ultimately the fingers. Then I’m going to take off the earphones that bind me to the table and the computer screen and keep the motion notional.

And I am going to learn to dance.

~ by Servetus on November 8, 2011.

44 Responses to “Armitage euphoria and the figuring things out”

  1. Wonderful, enjoy the music. I sometimes feel the same way. Its hard to prize the essential self with all its flaws and hopes and dreams. Let her play.


  2. Gosh, I admire you, your courage and your honesty, especially with yourself. I hope you know you have lots of supporters, even people like me who’ve never met you, who are reading and cheering you on. Enjoy the journey.


    • I’m really grateful for you and the other supporters I’ve found via blogging — and I’ve gotten a lot of rewards for honesty, which makes it a lot easier (very different from my real life)


  3. All I do is pump my fist in the air and yell “YES!!!” 😉


  4. Reading what you say about being yourself, dancing and prayer reminded me of 2 Sam 6:14. Dance with all your might and don’t let anyone despise you.


  5. “…dance like no one is watching”

    (I haven’t quite got the hang of this linking yet, so hope this works! 🙂 )


  6. lovely video, Mezz! Just imagine he’s Richard, servetus. (I did).


  7. May I gift you with my very favorite dance track ever? It’s deep funk, sure to move your booty, and the chorus is totally true: “Everybody’s got a little light under the sun.” Here’s a wish that you find yours.


  8. What an inspiring blog, Servetus. I, too, have been doing a lot of the wrong things in an effort to bring out that creative spirit. It’s so frustrating sometimes.
    Now you’ve given me some great clues to work with. Thanks so much!


  9. You GO! I am willing Essential Servetus along her journey of self-care and integrity and healing and flourishing and thriving! (btw, doesn’t Essential Servetus sound like a book, album, or film? Or all 3?)

    There will be bumps along the way – just remember this:

    “Relax, and remember you’re not alone.” Yep. Works every time.


    • This is a good reminder, just because there are so many things I let fall in the last years that now need to be picked up, dusted off, rearranged, repaired — I have to accept that a certain amount of that stuff is going to happen as I redirect.


  10. Dear Servetus! I’m extremely glad you sound so combative!!! Here is a way out! Recently I’ve found myself in (I would’t say similar but) let’s say poignant, absolutely unbearable existential situation. And I’ve chosen that music (much more reckless)))) by the way I’ve found it looking for RA fantods on YouTube (symptomatic)


    • Don’t forget our beautiful John Porter in the Strike Back video by DB to the same music!

      Just get a load of those eyes, eyelashes, guns and “guns”!!! Not to mention the “moves”! 🙂

      I love to “dance” when no one is watching even though limited by age and arthritis to the “moves” I use!! It is really freeing, not to mention good exercise. I can’t dance like the guy in Mezz’s video, unfortunately, but I can still move a bit to a Quick-step, Twist, some Latin with a bit of Rock and Roll and Jive thrown in! Just as well no-one IS watching!!!

      I truly understand where you are coming from Servetus, as for many years I was part of a church where dancing was a HUGE no-no!!


      • I posted this on the day I left my last job, and it’s been a big inspiration to me.

        I know that when I do start dancing it’s not going to just happen perfectly right away — years of inhibitions to overcome. It won’t be like in my fantasies. But I hope I feel something anyway.


    • yeah — it’s not like me, is it, to be quite so forceful? I’m trying, though.


  11. Sorry, a misprint))) a meant ‘fanvids’, of course. That’s tricky to deal with a cyrillic keyboard )))


  12. I always enjoy your posts, but every now and again your really strike a chord (apologies for pun). I so understand what you are saying about different music for different needs – for my creative groove, The XX are hard to beat at the moment, although for more dark moments some old Arab Strap (Here we go, or The First Big Weekend) can’t be beaten (I realise Arab Strap’s lyrics aren’t entirely…well…nice…so they do come with a health warning…) Loving hearing the other suggestions though – could be a few you tube moments in the pipeline tonight…


  13. Prelude to “The Dance” by Oriah

    What if it truly doesn’t matter what you do but how you do whatever you do?

    How would this change what you choose to do with your life?

    What if you could be more present and openhearted with each person you met if you were working as a cashier in a corner store, or as a parking lot attendant, than you could if you were doing a job you think is more important?

    How would this change how you want to spend your precious time on this earth?

    What if your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness is not dependent upon discovering a better method of prayer or technique of meditation, not dependent on reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?

    How would this affect your search for spiritual development?

    What if there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving or wise?

    How would this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better?

    What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature – gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?

    How would this affect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

    What if who you essentially are right now is all that you are ever going to be?

    How would this affect how you feel about your future?

    What if the essence of who you are and always has been is enough?

    How would this affect how you see and feel about your past?

    What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?

    How would this change what you think you have to learn?

    What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practice that offer us the warmth of encouragements we need to unfold?

    How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

    What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?

    How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow, this impulse, to just let go and dance?

    © Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from the book The Dance, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001


    • Rob, I keep coming back to this to read over again, to absorb it’s meaning. I love it. Thankyou. 🙂


    • This is an interesting problem. In some ways I felt like the last three years were me trying to be the best self i could be where I was, developing presence rather than output, let’s say — and now I’m getting more interested in motion metaphors. But let’s just say: I agree.


      • Ecclesiastes 3

        A Time for Everything
        1 There is a time for everything,
        and a season for every activity under the heavens:
        2 a time to be born and a time to die,
        a time to plant and a time to uproot,
        3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
        a time to tear down and a time to build,
        4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
        a time to mourn and a time to dance,
        5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
        a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
        6 a time to search and a time to give up,
        a time to keep and a time to throw away,
        7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
        a time to be silent and a time to speak,
        8 a time to love and a time to hate,
        a time for war and a time for peace.


  14. @ Sev — I wish you all the best as you summons the muse! You go girl! Giving yourself the freedom to allow the words to come through and out of you — it takes guts.

    2000 words a day! Good grief! If I write two scenes I feel like I’ve accompished something!


  15. Thanks for all these dear comments and links — I will answer in more detail tomorrow. You guys are great, and your support means so much.


  16. […] flesh leaves me heavily conflicted. But as I listen to more and more dance music in an attempt to keep the euphoria flowing and keep myself moving toward my goal, I do frequently think of one setting in which I wish I could […]


  17. Oh my. I stumbled across your blog this evening, this specific post and started to read and found myself swept up in the passions you’re taling of. This is exactly how I have been feeling, I need a renewal after a huge eomtional event that is happening at the moment, this is the stratagey I’ve been thinking that I need to take, to wake my self up and recconect with my true self. Thankyou.


    • Thanks for the post and welcome, Wocket. I think a lot of us are on this particular journey at the moment. Well, each on our own, but you know what I mean. Best wishes for yours!


  18. […] of healing for me that I couldn’t have imagined. Revelations about what G-d wants for me. Rediscovery of a forgotten capacity to act and create. […]


  19. […] in terms of the sorts of things that make a relationship work. I don’t care to go skiing, my career as a recreational dancer was abbreviated; I don’t read him as particularly religious in a way that […]


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