I am sitting down to write, so of course I try to find something to distract me. Right now it’s confronting the reality that I like Chris Isaak’s “Kiss Me Like A Stranger,” and you know I started wondering, is she practicing kissing strangers? Which brought to mind Randy Newman’s 12 Songs album, which is an early album I like a lot because it has a good rock and roll sound and songs with a dark humor. As in, “When you’re through with my baby, Mr. Milkman, send her home to me.” But this is the hook to strangers:
I seen her with the gypsies
Dancin’ in the wood
She’s always been unfaithful to me
She ain’t never been no good
I say, “Please don’t talk to strangers, baby”
But she always do
She say, “I’ll talk to strangers if I want to
’Cause I’m a stranger, too”
So if one person is a stranger the other must be a stranger too. So it becomes a question of which person is stranger than the other. Subtle. A dance in real time. When we are in communication we are usually behind the actual dance. That’s what Plato must have meant by the shadows projected onto the cave wall. The actual dance is perfectly choreographed and the meaning has not been abstracted out and applied retroactively. It is pure response. “In any communication the meaning is the response you are getting. There is no other meaning. The impression that there is other meaning is inside your head and is not part of the communication.”
Milton Erickson said that. He was the greatest medical hypnotist in the world. Which is how people tried to describe his healing powers. He was in the moment, inside an iron lung, with polio, watching his siblings play. Then he was in a rocking chair with a hole in the seat, wishing somebody would move him closer to the window so he could watch his siblings play. The chair moved. He understood the connection between his wishing the chair would be moved and it’s moving. He had the ability to organize his muscles, to make them move on a micro level by using his imagination, his memory, and he began to climb trees. He’d climbed trees before the polio. He had the muscle memory. From his realization he gradually grew out of the chair, then off the crutches. He was a seer, like Charcot.
In a zen state everything happens for the first and only time. There is no need to reference anything outside yourself, there is a need to become conscious of the dance in the moment. Now kiss me like a stranger, in a tantric flow. That moment which is timeless, eternal, but you can’t stay there. You can learn to come and go as you please, though, as Erickson did. His evolution was into being an object in space, his peak experience beyond all others.
I pulled up Isaac’s albums on Apple Music, and I added the “First Comes the Night” album … but can’t stop there, I have to browse them, look at the earlier work, the pain tearing us apart … which leads me to think about a singer-songwriter friend who went through one of those I can’t stay and I can’t leave love affairs. He would sing the new songs he was writing, which could only have come from sitting up all night talking about your relationship. But you wouldn’t do that to a stranger. I get it.