Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Gillilander Pituitary Scale of the Male Out-Of-Eden Complex

Prominent pet psychiatrist Gerald Gillilander stumbled across a startling find near his home/dog asylum in Austin, Texas. Namely, he stumbled across the dead carcass of his longtime companion, a German Shepherd he called Ralphie. But nobody calls Ralphie any longer because, as Gillilander concluded, Ralphie was called to death–literally–by a female Shepherd responding to the name of Nadine*, whom the asylum had admitted for aggression two months prior to Ralphie’s demise. 

Nadine’s aggression took the form of barking, rather than biting, and that was the rub for Ralphie. Ralphie was a male dog who lacked the ability to move in any direction when confronted with a female dog’s commands. After spending two months riveted to the spot by Nadine’s incessant noise, Ralphie rolled over and died. 

Later that same day, as Professor Gillilander took a long drive through the city streets to mourn his friend, something in his brain clicked at the sound of the female voice on his GPS. He found himself ignoring her commands. In fact, he wasn’t headed in any one direction, but had randomly told the GPS he meant to arrive at Pet Smart in order to buy a leash with which to hang himself. As he missed each-left hand turn and the subsequent instructions, “Make a u-turn on Broadway five feet ahead. You passed it, you dummy. Make a u-turn on Market. Now repositioning. Repositioning again,” he felt calmer and more confident than he had in years. 

With one hand  still holding the wheel, he fumbled open the black bag he used for house calls and checked his blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. His blood pressure was 115 over 80, his heart rate normal, his body temperature an average 98.6. He hadn’t seen these healthy numbers for many months, not since he’d hired his latest secretary, Alma Hartford, a woman whose sole purpose in life was to be obeyed, even by her employer.

He drove around town for some time, ignoring the GPS commands, while continuing to monitor his numbers. After precisely forty-two minutes, his blood pressure rose to its usual 160 over 97. His temperature rose to 101, he felt a strong pulsing at the side of his neck, and he clenched the steering wheel with so much ferocity that the skin on his knuckles turned a peculiar hue of yellow. Sensing his impending death, he reprogrammed the GPS to guide him home. When the female voice instructed him to take a right at the next intersection, he obeyed. Ironically, at the first sign of compliance, his body relaxed and his blood pressure dropped back to a healthy level.

Back at home in his study, he massaged his head, and he thought deeply about the day’s adventures. When he hadn’t obeyed the voice, he’d relaxed. But the calmness produced by this pattern of behavior hadn’t lasted. What could it mean?

The next day, he set about collecting and testing the pituitary glands of male and female human subjects and subjecting them to various vocal frequencies. In order to accomplish this, he created a contraption using simulated model ears attached to the pituitary glands by tubes ending in reeds able to vibrate at a wide range of frequencies. This  was placed in a simulated brain atmosphere, so as not to damage the glands before reattaching them to their respective hypothalami. 

A pattern soon began to emerge. Male pituitary function was positively or negatively stimulated by the frequency range of 165 to 255 Hz, the standard range of the human female voice, while female pituitary function didn’t respond in any substantial way to a frequency below 180 and above 85 Hz, or the frequency range of the male voice.

But just as his responses to the female voice of his GPS didn’t show stable results, so the stimulation of the male pituitary didn’t net a stable set of hormone secretion. And once again, he slunk to his office,but this time to pore over his data. Then, he saw it. In order for the male pituitary to secrete regulated doses of hormones, it had to follow a formula of roughly 70% silence to 30% female command frequency. Yet silence is a shaky term to define. He had succeeded in simulating silence merely by ignoring the GPS voice for approximately seventy minutes out of a hundred. The following thirty out of a hundred had restabilized his hormone secretions. 

Gillilander dubbed his discovery the “Out of Eden Complex”. Numerous male human studies later, he’s opened his psychiatric practice and asylum to his male friends, as long as they’re willing to share a room–or car–with a canine. His research caused numerous relationship problems, unfortunately, and the “time away” his patients suddenly needed from their female partners became a necessity not originally foreseen by the advice he gave them to “simply ignore their female significant others 70% of the time, and you’ll reach optimal health”. The ratio counters he provided them at a cut-rate cost of $99.99, plus money-back guarantee, were returned to him smashed. Now, he advises his male patients to use the GPS for their 70% silent time.

“Balance,” Dr. Gillilander concluded, “is the key to life. Your GPS won’t yell at you. Take your own route with her, ignore her commands, and you’ll come up roses. That’s a great idea, actually. Give her the address to the dry-cleaner’s and, instead, drive to the flower shop.”

How have these startling discoveries affected the doctor’s life? Sadly, his secretary, Alma Hartford, quit her job. But she’s since become his wife, and the two are the proud parents of a female terrier whose yip is bigger than her bite.

*Name changed in order to protect patient-doctor confidentiality 


A Blazing New World

There’s nothing that says “culture” like Facebook. Facebook is the epitome of twenty-first century American aesthetic. It’s a place where we can manufacture ourselves by updates: honest, exaggerated, or false. We are our Facebook creations. Accept this universal truth.

I suspect my profile is something akin to the chaos theory, but with a pessimistic twist on it of predictable results. No amount of force I exert changes these expected results. I simply push more objects into motion. Because the results of the chaos are predictable, order does inhabit my chaos theory, even if the order is a simple lack of irony. The expected will occur. That is order. That is good. That is ironic.

On a serious note, an old college friend—we’ll call her Camilla—typed out a frantic list of all the things she had to do this week, which included, but was not limited to a dance performance plus rehearsals, reading through hundreds of essays, and a load  of scholarly studying on obscure historical subjects. I immediately commented, “Let’s switch schedules.”

Camilla’s update reminded me of a truth not so universal, but still harsh. My schedule wasn’t so different from hers on the outside, but was diametrically opposed on the inside. Hers was a reflection of her personal dreams and goals, while mine mirrored a loss of myself–dance performances for my daughters–essays I read as a homeschool mom. Any other studying I might engage in is done surreptitiously and applied haphazardly to my sense of well-being, as if tacked on to mask my blank wall with ornaments and images. Recently, for example, I hung an avant-garde canvas covered in topological mixing (see above) and called it “Self Confidence”.

I sneaked out today to avoid staring at my blank wall, as well as my Facebook page. I tucked my computer inside its bag and left my house to haunt the corridors of the local college library. My plan was a pretense, of course. It was a pretense to scholarly achievement where none existed, and this pretense included having to request a guest ID to enter the scholarly databases. Then, after coming up blank yet again with my search terms, I typed utter nonsense in the parameters, such as “James Boswell, you’re a dirty old goat, and you’re no longer my favorite animus.” Then the library shunted me, the fake scholar, from their system. I sat at the table and felt sorry for myself, just as Boswell might have done nearly 300 years ago. I don’t know how anyone can beg a question, or conversely how a question can beg, but the circumstances implored, “Why is a dead man part of your psyche, anyway?”

I looked up blearily from my computer screen, and I saw him—not James Boswell, but a man whose presence in the library chilled me to the deepest place of my heart. I won’t name names, but ten years ago, we occasionally allowed this man to sleep on our floor because he was homeless and had been for years. He still is.

And he, too, haunts the libraries in town. With his 160 IQ (I made that number up), he searches for truth and gathers knowledge and works it all into loony 500 page dissertations on alien spacecraft technology. Really, nobody with an IQ of less than 160 could entertain the kind of technology he writes of—it wouldn’t occur to somebody with less intelligence, better social acumen, and a few more doses of sanity antidote.

Back then, when I was still in my twenties, and he in his forties or fifties, I knew we were alike. I sensed it and, therefore, wasn’t put off by him as another young person might have been. Unfortunately, my acceptance of him gave him the wrong impression, which ended in general embarrassment for all parties. This also meant he no longer felt welcome to sleep on our floor and moved his sleeping bag back into his van. To this day, he spends his nights by the river. And by day, he haunts the corridors of the libraries, searching for more information, for that crucial understanding of life, the universe, and everything that will allow him to reenter the world of men.

I saw my sad face reflected in his trifocals today. No, he wouldn’t look back at me. He quickly lowered his head to the large volume he held in his hands. But that didn’t matter because I witnessed in him what I needed to apprehend. I saw with blazing clarity what happens to fake scholars who wait and wait for understanding before they reenter the world. I know what you’re thinking (not really). I know that exiting the real world worked for Isaac Newton. Whenever he felt threatened by life, he retreated, and through his retreats he wrote his masterwork. But most men aren’t Newton. And aside from that, Newton wasn’t a fake. Newton was the real deal, a genius of the first order.

Now it’s time for me to acknowledge this most universal of truths and reenter the world. I’m also considering a change to my Facebook profile.


¡Ay, acordeonista!

The big black case rests
in my room sometimes,
in a dream with butterflies
that sleep in chrysalides.
Loas develop there,
sonnets from the mist,
wet lilies from graves,
and songs that fountain the flow.

The waves, once open,
pour over docks,
the sound and breath spin me,
the powerful cup
of liquor fills my longing
through reeds that vibrate my air,
hands that open my voice,
and bellows that fill my lungs.

It’s a taste, sweet to my mouth;
it’s nothing except death
that slips in and covers my skin.
The clasps have closure
in shadows without sonnets.
My dreams don’t touch me.
They weep into ballads
before I suspend them.

I don’t want the flow to cease,
or the music to desert me,
or the accordionist to leave me
among broken words;
but the black case disappears
like a vapid friend
whose fingers are made of air,
spectral to my couplets.

I originally wrote this poem in Spanish in corresponding syllabic lines of seven and eleven, and with an assonant rhyme scheme–all even lines rhymed and all odd lines rhymed. I translated it into English because I’m a little too shy to post my Spanish stanzas online. Plus, you know, my English audience will be able to understand it this way.


Love and Cosmos

He sent her cosmos on the hill
And pushed against the gate
That rusted shut from rainy months,
But creaked against his weight.

He rattled sweet-pea on the stalk
And glory in the vine;
He knelt before the one-eyed saint
That bowed the columbine.

He saw the light between the slats–
He spied her sleeping there–
Between the rows of climbing vines,
Close to the briar lair.

The blue eyes slept beneath her dreams;
He crept in with a prayer
To smooth the roses, one by one,
That bloom in tangled hair.


On William Cowper, or, Why I’m Not a Calvinist

William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800) wrote this poem, The Castaway, in 1799. Simply put, it’s about a sailor who’s washed overboard during a storm. It begins like this:
OBSCUREST night involv’d the sky,
     Th’ Atlantic billows roar’d,
When such a destin’d wretch as I,
     Wash’d headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.
 Stanza seven, in the midst of the poem, offers this sentiment:

Nor, cruel as it seem’d, could he
     Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
     Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

And then the poem ends like this:

No voice divine the storm allay’d,

     No light propitious shone;
When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,
     We perish’d, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm’d in deeper gulphs than he.
Cowper’s tight rhyme scheme and short lines are incongruous with his theme of hopelessness and despair. What is Cowper trying to say, anyway? Is he attempting to teach his readers they need to rely on God in order that despair not consume them? I don’t know. Maybe he’s after his audience understanding what it will be like on the day of reckoning. 
Cowper doesn’t see a way out of judgment, and for that he’s “whelmed in deeper gulphs” than the sailor and, perhaps, all mankind. His poem ends in an unsettling manner. He believes God could intervene, that there is a God, and, yet, that very fact tears him apart. All men must die alone, and God can save us–but will he? Cowper won’t die a bleaker death than the sailor. No, definitely not, because that’s not the point. Instead, Cowper will die consumed by his own doubts. That, I suspect, is the meaning of this poem. 
Click the link above for all twelve stanzas.
I feel badly for Cowper, for the way he lived his life in bleakness, but his soul must be settled by now. Thank God.