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Spiritual Apathy

Spiritual Apathy

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Spiritual Apathy

Length:
260 pages
3 hours
Released:
May 29, 2010
ISBN:
9781452346502
Format:
Book

Description

Have you ever wondered if there is an alternative explanation for our mental pathologies? Szasz’s theory brought to life in novel form . . . can the advice of an educated professional be enough? Or correct? E A St. Amant squares off against a study and a perspective that motivates an in-depth reflection of both personal management and societal obligation. Spiritual Apathy is both controversial and inspiring . . . reconstructing mental illness in Toronto for all the acrophobic backwash . . . the paranormal and insanity are the current cherished suburban myths which replace the hard boring facts of modern times. It certainly makes you wonder . . a parable of a prestigious psychiatrist and a lowly Jamaican janitor who battle it out for the heart and soul of a boy at war with himself and his drug addicted lover, the beautiful sex-vixen who learned her arts while still a child.

Released:
May 29, 2010
ISBN:
9781452346502
Format:
Book

About the author

E A St Amant is the author of How to Increase the Volume of the Sea Without Water, Dancing in the Costa Rican Rain and Stealing Flowers.


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Spiritual Apathy - E A (Edward) St Amant

Chapter I

He stood without clothes on a huge boulder that was over three feet high. It was his rostrum and how he articulated with the dark silent cosmos at four in the morning on a sticky hot July Sunday. He was a thin lean rack of torment at fourteen years old with a profile on the rock like that of a whisper. A choir of far off lonely voices sang softly in a subliminal lyric; his left hand was pumping while he was reaching up to the sky with his right. The somewhat phallic boulder wheeled it’s unwanted presence in the middle of a field of hay like a monument. His hearing became imperceptive, opaque and misty under the fertile moon. He drew to his full-height, standing on his toes, stretching as his fist tightened.

In a place passed by without human romance – it was a grazing spot for lazy kine and a night lost to any trace of modern civilization. – he was utterly alone in the West. It embraced him like banished warm water. He was cursed. He was unloosed. The night was oblique in an eternity which came and went on that boulder from one pulpit to his own Pastoral. He was a lasting light in the obscurity. It might as well have been 2500 years ago! His family disappeared from his mind’s eye. His mental problems dissipated to a safe unbidden cloud of unknowing where clear water and mud are the same substance and there was no spirit—no soul. Summer was a time for producing seed and he was hoping to reap what he had sown. His designer clothes hung on an old dying apple tree ten feet away. His white court Nikes sat at the base of the boulder, but he would never wear them again.

He closed his eyes and pictured all the aliens around him who observed from the night’s stars. Were there not creatures who watched from other places, worlds numbering in the billions? Foreign eyes came down on him with intrigue and lust. They were aroused by physics for perverts. Jason’s communion with the animated world hadn’t dried up as he grew into adulthood. The Maynoens had long been his friends, even since he was eleven years old. Their sun, Pyr, in the Andromeda Galaxy, was one of the biggest in the universe, and their planet was smaller than earth.

He laughed in alleviation as he ejaculated.

Without as much as a hint of noise, a four-legged predator sprung at him with a terrific powerful lunge from just back of the boulder. He heard too late the low snarls, the smells and danger. He fell hard to the ground, screaming and kicking out of its grip. It was a huge animal, maybe one of many, a wolf pack! His head was bleeding and his heart boomed like a death-roll.

A wolf had bit deeply into the muscle of his right leg.

The shearing pain made him vomit even as he threw himself to his feet and rushed for the fence. . . . the county road, beyond the wire fence, was at least a hundred paces away. His eyes searched for other wolves as he raced, the pain withdrawing, the fence looming and the predator snarling at his heels. He took the fence in an accelerating, jolted effort, his skin much the worse for it. His sack was as hard as a lemon now, his penis shrunk to the size of a mushroom.

Boulders are gigantic memorials to microorganisms, signals for boys and dogs. What was his hammer and sickle except the oppression of his government by the masses of sperm trapped inside his body and trying to gain liberty? He continued to run down the road until he heard the territorial barks of victory, that puckfist not from a wolf pack but from a single dog. He stopped dead in his tracks.

A fucking dog! he shouted into the gloomy black dirt road.

He turned to make sure, hate rising in his heart.

A German Shepherd, and it was gloating, laughing and drooling in mirth. It had stopped at the fence, then turned triumphantly, lost to the shadows and perhaps even already returning to its hiding spot.

He examined himself. His legs had both been clawed and jawed. They looked pretty bad. They were bleeding too, but worse still, both his feet had gnashes on the arches and his hands were scraped and oozing. He had to get his clothes. He couldn’t go for help bare-assed in the middle of nowhere. He searched the roadside for weapons, his angry heart raising a windstorm of hatred.

Chapter II

Both of his legs were covered in bandages from just above the knees. An intravenous tube was taped to his arm. His hands weren’t bandaged but were full of old scrapes, scabs and abrasions. He couldn’t understand how he had got to the hospital and wondered how many strangers had seen him naked; what had his parents thought? The disgrace of it? The bandages were thin white, almost clear plastic cast-like skin.

They’re coated gauze strips, the nurse said when she came and saw him staring under the covers. They make changing them much easier – less painful – and yours need to be changed often. Animal bites and mauls can be particularly nasty. She lifted up the blankets at the end of the bed to look at them. He noted that her voice, though animated, had a quality of sincerity. I’m Joanne. I’ve summoned Dr. Gordineer, your attending doctor. Most of the wounds stopped bleeding two days ago. He looked up at her face furtively but said nothing. She had kind nonjudgmental eyes and was a stern motherly type. You’ll be fine. She patted his head lightly but not too condescendingly. How do you feel?

He shrugged. He was tired and feverish. He realized that he was right about her. Her concern wasn’t phony. He tried to smile but failed.

You’ll be in pain for some weeks still, she continued. You are on a morphine drip. Do you know what that is? He shook his head. It’s a pain-killer with a narcotic so you can’t have too much, it’s habit forming, but I dare say you’ve been so splendid all these weeks that we could increase the dose slightly if you were uncomfortable.

He was more anxious than anything. He was about to ask, ‘What happened?’ but reconsidered. All too well, he remembered what had happened. Perhaps everyone knew.

Weeks?

She gave him a look which hid some ill-defined mystery. It’s August 14.

It didn’t seem possible. In September he would return to school and weeks of his summer had just disappeared without his knowing. A shiver went through him. He focused on his whereabouts. The room was number 3114. He figured he was on the third floor, room 114. Have my parents been by?

He could see that she had detected the anxiety in his voice and he felt week, younger than even fourteen years old.

They have been by every day and night, she said. Some doctors were saying to them it was a coma. I often heard you groan in pain. It was no coma. I knew that, but a nurse doesn’t contradict a doctor, does she? She winked, or he imagined that she in fact did. They are meticulously jealous of their power. After two weeks, your parents returned to work . . . Amelia, your sister has been here every morning to check on you. A stunning sister. Wonderful. You are both lovely and it’s a shame this happened to you. I too was attacked by a large vicious dog when I was young, just like you, but my older brother kicked it away.

She drew up and took a closer look directly into his eyes. You’ll need some surgery yet. He knew that his expression reflected his bafflement. Two of the wounds were closed hastily and the scars are maladroit.

Two men came in and at once all of her gestures toward him lost their grace. I’ll go now, she whispered. If you need my assistance, you just push this button. She pointed to a control device which adjusted the bed, turned on the television and did other things as well. After she was gone, the two men checked his bandaged legs, intravenous drip and his hands.

Their over-garments, like the nurse’s, was a grayish-green, but while he hadn’t noticed hers, theirs were like a coat of armor.

Jason, how do you feel? the narrow pocked-face one with curly hair asked. I’m Dr. Gordineer.

He at once felt the doctor’s animosity, his annoyance and feeble concern toward him. Jason shrugged and this brought out the doctor’s first frown.

Speak up, young man, Dr. Gordineer commanded.

He was nearly the ugliest, nerdiest man Jason had ever seen, with a smile so phony and detestable that it made Jason shudder. Excellency, he spit out but without emotion. I’m just peachy-keen. Thank you for asking.

To his perplexity, they both laughed and lost their officious looks. Jason, this is Dr. Mazy, Dr. Gordineer said. He’s a psychiatrist. Will you speak with him?

He should have asked Joanne more questions. He realized that they might know more than he did about what happened. He felt put upon and slightly frazzled. This paralyzed him. Dr. Mazy drew up a chair and sat beside the bed. Dr. Gordineer left the room and Jason longed for his father. To hear his voice at this moment seemed paramount. Dr. Mazy looked impeccable and professional, his shiny brown skin and muscular build was fit to be a king and his eyes had a glimmer about them that spoke of his intelligence.

I ought to recount to you what we know? Dr. Mazy asked in a soft neutral tone and with perhaps a hint of a smile. His voice, held self-assurance and had a trace of an English-Caribbean accent, perchance from the islands, possibly like the Bradley’s neighbors, from Trinidad and Tobago. But perhaps it’s best to ask first, what do you remember?

Jason said nothing.

You killed a large German Shepherd with your bare hands, he said after several minutes of silence. You were naked at the time. It’s quite a disturbing image. Your parents are concerned; we all are, especially me.

Jason realized that Dr. Mazy looked exceedingly unconcerned. He should keep track of the doctor’s lies. That one was certainly a whopper. His family was concerned, of that he was certain, but this man? He highly doubted it.

Though Dr. Mazy’s physical appearance radiated supreme health and his glistening brown skin glowed nearly angelic, his bold bright eyes protruded from his balding head as if they were liquid in their authority. Perhaps behind them with the obvious intelligence, there was contempt for the whole world, but at the very least, disdain for Jason. Through this doctor’s eyes, his shingle read, Man has no soul!

You couldn’t miss it even on a morphine drip, or especially on a morphine drip. He was like a black god of science from a fable about Malaysian Tyrants and their cannibalistic appetites, but a god, on the other hand, with no sympathy for man’s sublime makeup.

The dog attacked me first, Jason stammered in his defense.

You were on private property. Dr. Mazy’s voice was the very font of skill, the CSI of personal psychiatry.

For the life of me, it seemed abandoned.

It was entirely fenced in.

I was utterly alone . . . on a boulder . . . as though separate from the whole world . . . contemplating life.

Naked?

It was sticky – intensely warm.

If you were sitting, why are your legs so mauled?

I had risen before the attack.

To urinate.

To stretch.

To masturbate.

That’s none of your business.

The young patient was flabbergasted. Masturbate! What did Dr. Mazy know of it? Or of Jason? Jason had been making love to the world that night . . . to life itself.

Chapter III

On several occasions, after Jason’s long arduous interviews with Dr. Mazy, his parents would come to visit. He had learned that as a child, Dr. Mazy had grown up in Trinidad and Tobago in the city of San Fernando. Conflicts in his youth between Indo and Afro-Trinidadian sections had left him cynical about human progress in the world. Each group represented about forty percent of the population. Jason learned that Dr. Mazy had been raised Muslim, had converted to Christianity on arriving to Toronto and later had become agnostic around the same time he had decided to study medicine. For every bit of information Jason told Mazy, the psychiatrist would share his history with him, and sometimes, after a session, Dr. Mazy would let Jason’s parents into his inner office and smile at them with a brilliant effort.

Mr. and Mrs. Bradley, how fortunate that you’ve come, he would say, or something like that. Then he would discuss Jason’s progress with them in out-of-earshot whispers. He could tell that Amelia had been instructed to cease all intimate conversing with him. His parents were affectionate in their gestures; curt in their language. English allows the deception of the structured relations of the blood. They couldn’t hide either their love nor the fact that he was under psychiatric apprehension.

He was able to get out of bed on the third last week of August. By that time, he was starting to understand why and how he was mentally ill; how the devious sickness itself, hid from its victims like a microscopic parasite from its host and how the doctor bore straight through his deception to get to the real stuff of his innermost self; the truth.

He left the room in halted steps and sat at the end of the corridor looking north out of the window onto the beautiful hospital lawns and the backyards of their neighbors. He knew that from the outside, on Mortimer Street looking up at the hospital, it appeared as if it were a gigantic bay window.

The traffic of ambulances coming in and out of the emergency ward was constant. He saw the old, dying patients wheeled in and out, some of the stretchers held young to be mothers and others accident victims. He paid no attention to them. He recalled the psychiatric examination this morning. Dr. Mazy had told him that his condition was at one time mistakenly referred to in psychiatry as Masturbatory Insanity, but now was labeled, Self-Absorption Personality Disorder, SPD, and that it was completely treatable with chemical therapy.

Why do you think you were there in the middle of the field in the heart of nowhere in the middle of night? he asked at some point.

I just wanted to be alone with myself?

To masturbate?

Maybe.

How did you get to Holland’s Landing?

I was at Paramount Canada’s Wonderland and I left at midnight with a friend to his house near there.

A taxi driver from Queensville found you in an abandoned laneway back of Red Mills Drive. He thought you had been murdered, or sexually assaulted. You were still on the Greene’s property. They are the owners of the dog. Perhaps you didn’t know that? Jason shrugged. It was a short cut out of town for the cabbie, Dr. Mazy had continued. You’re extremely fortunate that he didn’t run over you.

"He thought I was dead?’

Maybe. How long have you had trouble sleeping?

I’ve never had difficulty catching Z’s.

How can that be true?

I just didn’t feel like it that night.

When you attacked the dog, what were you feeling?

At first, I thought I was being attack by a pack of wolves.

In Queensville?

He shrugged then changed his response. At the time, I didn’t really know where I was. The attack disorientated me. I thought the dog was a wolf–it bit my legs pretty bad. I leapt a fence to escape. When I looked back and saw that it was only a dog, I felt like a fool.

Why? A German Shepherd is a big dog. That one you tore apart weighed almost two hundred pounds, sixty or so pounds more than you.

I’m not afraid of any dog.

It’s about perception. You killed a dog with your bare hands. It appears not to astonish you. To your parents and others . . . to me, for instance . . . it seems a cause for great concern.

I didn’t mean to kill it.

It was dismembered.

I meant that I was sorry I had to kill it.

About the dreams I’ve asked you to start recording. Have you been remembering them? You promised to put them down on paper upon waking.

His morphine dreams were filled with euphoric delight–sexual and violent. His physical pain vanished completely, but he was afraid to tell his confessor that for fear of losing the drug. They were reducing his dose by minute amounts everyday. His legs were beginning to ache pungently, sometimes like a thousand piercing needles. They jumped and trembled involuntarily. He occasionally lost his breath and wanted to weep or run away. Dr. Mazy had remarked that it was part of the self-absorption illness that he had contracted from the greedy culture of the West.

Dr. Gordineer visited the following day. A well known plastic surgeon, Dr. Catherine Koss from Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, would be the lead physician for the operation on his legs, a six hour ordeal. Dr. Gordineer would assist. He wondered if she too would see him naked.

It will be fun, Dr. Gordineer said, challenging.

Gordineer was actually gloating about his good luck in working with Koss.

Jason stared out the window lost in thought. On the coffee table near him, sat a pile of old magazines, but he did not feel like reading. The sunlight pivoted around the neighbor’s trees, down Fairside Street, like a dance of charcoal shadows from the leaves of the trees, a painting that moves. The wind gave it this effect.

He imagined that it was quite breezy outside.

He was tired and not quite himself. His legs were exceedingly itchy and he refrained from scratching. A flag flapped in one of the yards he looked down onto. He guessed that it was an Armenian one but didn’t know for sure.

He studied one particular yard distinctly, the house closest to this part of the hospital which was now the J-Wing, but perhaps long ago it had been a doctors’ residence or nurses’ quarters. The building clearly, obvious to even his untrained eyes, had involved three or four major reconstructions. After a few moments of watching the backyard, he was assured nobody was home, but eventually to Jason’s surprise, an older man came out. He was limping and did some gardening, puttering and trimming with what appeared to be old rusty hand-held hedge-scissors. The yard was, in the main, neat and tidy, and Jason was jealous of the old man’s life, even though he knew that this thought was ridiculous.

One yard, two doors back, was it’s inverse of this, complete and utter chaos, Jason was repulsed by the appearance of it and couldn’t understand how people could live that way. The obtrusive junk, toys, machine parts, piles of wood, car tires and assorted reams of trash was thick. No actual room was left in the yard to play. The lawn had been killed and only tall hearty weeds remain.

Jason yawned and thought of going back to his room. He was reading Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and wanted to return to it. He missed his home and promised himself when he went back he would clean up his bedroom and paint it a pale purple as he had always wanted. Why had he put it off? His parents said they would even buy the paint.

Jason worked in a bakery near O’Connor and Donlands, The Passland Deli and Pastry. They are friends of the family. He missed this as well.

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