Introduction : Karen Morris : Poet
I am no mealy mouthed woman; I am no stranger to rage or danger, yet I recall the shudder that went through me when I first saw John Tomlinson's series of drawings titled, RAGE: The Misery of Men.
What I saw in that first encounter with the faces of the men in John's drawings was not so much rage as a personal problem, rather rage’s ability to deform the social dimensions of our lives through hatred and fear, making good, safe connections with others impossible. To me they were frightening yes, pathetic creatures. There is a depth of loneliness in these faces that reflects a sadness in all our lives for that lost connection. Because the drawings were done by a man I felt an inkling of hope. I realized through the immediacy and vibrant aliveness of these drawings, the artist's need to claim the page for the rites of self disclosure; to declare that men are as frightened of themselves as women are of them. A flurry of memories of negative encounters overtook me as I felt I had met each one of these characters at some point in my life. I saw the opportunity to wrangle with my own fear and stifled rage, to help myself with the suffering it can cause me; but before any of that could happen I saw first the opportunity for revenge in the crafting of a poem for each character.
I have always hoped that when a new baby is born, the first thing it will see when it opens its eyes will be the welcoming, radiant, faces-of-wonder of its mother and father. I also hope that when it comes time to die the last thing every person will look upon will be the compassionate face of a beloved family member or trusted friend. But this is not the case for most lives. The human face, the faces of others as well as our own, are focal points throughout our lives, screens for projections that maintain, transform and convey; safety or danger, interest or disinterest, brightness or dullness, hot or cold, love or hate. Our lives are written on our faces. When our ability to process negative emotions or biological affects such as, frustration, disgust and anger, breaks down due to an over-load, we feel overwhelmed, our emotional systems can't keep up with the processing. We might feel the need to "blow off steam," usually on the first person we see within range.
In my work as a psychoanalyst I am always concerned with the life narrative of how the positive biological affects, such as joy and interest, have been imposed upon, flattened out and shut down. The focus of my work becomes helping the person rebuild connections to access more positive affect, more joy, more life.