This is not a Zen Poem

Well, frankly, aren’t you glad? It’s a rock ‘n’ roll song I wrote after some minor surgery. However, speaking existentially that surgery sent my conceptual thinking into an entirely different direction. Speaking purely from the phenomenological viewpoint, there is a very distinct difference between daydreaming or sleeping an hour and a half away and having a chunk cut out of your memory and having the ends sewed back together. When that happened, I really saw the relationship between time, existence and memory, and in a sense, became somewhat empathetic with those who have–through no fault of their own–lost memories. Not lost the ability to retrieve certain memories, but lost memories permanently, because of some kind of brain condition–tumor removal or pathology. And I took these thoughts to my Zen teacher, asking worriedly “Is time too a concept?” And he said, “Yes, time is conceptual. It’s relative, as Einstein discovered.” I started thinking along these lines–now I’m not particularly intelligent, and I’m not a physicist–so I had to begin thinking in my own “dramatic” (Shifu’s words) or creative (my word) way how the brain constructs time. If time could be so easily taken away–for me, not for others in that O.R.–and given back, that I was actually living in eternity (a state neither time or timeless) and when people die that’s where they go, because time stops as soon as their brain stops constructing it. I hope I’m making some kind of sense here… Anyway, the experience–or rather, to be accurate, the lack of experience— was very unsettling.

Modern surgery is considered “easy” for the patient…and in a sense it is. But in another sense you somehow need that transitional drifting-off sensation and that drifting-in sensation to give yourself a sense that something actually happened. You need to feel just a little sick and dizzy afterwards. What happens with Propofol is you go from talking to the O.R. staff with a sharp mind to opening your eyes in another room with a sharp mind and finding the nurse pulling the cap off your hair. No pain, very little after soreness, and no dressing–just a line of glue over the sub-q stitches so you can shower safely.

The other things you will find out about Propofol is that you can be accidentally (Michael Jackson) or deliberately (legal executions) killed by it.  It was considered an ideal drug for executions since enough of it just shuts down the cardiovascular system. However, the company didn’t want the “bad publicity,” so now they bumble through legal killing some other way. And it’s used in interrogations. By whom, I don’t know, but I can see how it would really cover you legally if the one being interrogated had a memory wipe, Men in Black style. Anyway, it’s getting late so I will just post the poem/lyrics:

“Milk of Amnesia”

You gotta have a procedure
Think maybe I can make it easier?
No fear, no how, no way–
I won’t make it more complex
You always thought time was your context…
Let’s see how you feel when I take it away.

Children on Versed and Ketamine
Had such intense and scary dreams
Cause life was not as it seemed to them
Monsters, strange figures appearing
The patients dreaming and fearing…
Oh let me go
Oh let me go
Don’t let me see, don’t let me speak of such things.

Whoa now–let’s tap in–
If you don’t remember did it really happen?
Maybe like a blackout on booze.
Why not erase you? Why not efface you?
What have you got to lose?
When you are absent, we can run rampant
Do with you just what we choose.

Does it turn me on to turn you off?
Let your shell scream and writhe and faint?
We could even amputate
And it’s really easy to annihilate–
Did you think you owned your fate?
You never did, you never will
This is what death is, mate.

There is something white and pure
Here in this freezer
It’s milk of amnesia–
You wouldn’t know to look at it
It will drive you down the slit
Between life and death
So hold your breath
And jump. Oh yeah…you can’t.
I turned off that CPU
That you always thought was you
Repaired you like a machine
Glued you there like a chair
While you were nowhere
This is what death is, chump.

Somewhere there’s a man in interrogation
And during his disintegration
We will ask him questions and make him cry–
And he’ll wake up in the train station
Not knowing where the missing time went
His face wet and his body sore and bent
Not knowing what he said, what it meant or why.

Cause we’ve erased him, and we’ve effaced him–
What have we got to lose?
When he is absent, we can run rampant
Do with him just what we choose.

There is something white and pure
Here in this freezer
It’s milk of amnesia–
You wouldn’t know to look at it
It will drive you down the slit
Between life and death
So hold your breath
And jump. Oh yeah…you can’t.
This is what death is, chump.

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