The knock of the knot & the not of the knocker
Breast Cancer with Lacanian Angles
The symptom occurs where the real, imaginary, and symbolic overlap.
When the symbolic is shifted in the direction of the real, we get the symptom.
When the real is shifted in the direction of the imaginary, we get anxiety.
When the imaginary is shifted in the direction of the symbolic, we get inhibition.
Lacan posited this was in relation to psychoanalysis but over time it has become a way to examine society as well.
Preamble and ID – Who am I?
To understand my title a back-story is necessary to reveal the front story. This will help to place the reader in my shoes, or indeed, in my under-things and even closer to my heart. Whilst running shoes and bras support (the) girls on their journey they also help to set the tone and pave the way to where this tome is going!
Me? I’m pushing a half century in work, wisdom and lexicon. If sliced like a tree you may see my rings and count them at leisure, if you had the time! Yet with thirty years of dedication to healthy living and life long learning the results are better than my teenage self would ever have envisaged. Seriously those teen years can be so shackling, imprisoning. After years of feeling the dreary drudgery of sub-par fitness it turned around. From my mid twenties to mid thirties I became a swimmer, devoutly lapping through the local pool or those beloved icy white waters of Aragon or the balmy waves of the seas in northern Catalunya. Once settled in the Iberian Peninsula, I’d left the sloth-life of university long behind, gnawed through the chrysalis and spread my wings. It took four years and a lot of failure to give up chocolate and a few other bad habits picked up as an independent twenty-something. By contrast living a Mediterranean lifestyle a natural diet was simple to adopt, a no-brainer, a non-negotiable. Not forgetting that for more than half the year flesh is not tucked under jumpers but on full view. Picture this: in those days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, before common currency, our wages were paid in pesetas. The wave of consummerist choice had not begun its ebb and flow. Unsurprisingly neither flavoured crisps, nor Cadbury’s, nor fast food chains had arrived. Expats filled their UK bags with Baked Beans and antiperspirant and picked peaches from the trees without a care.
With total will power (alongside a growing realisation that action comes before motivation) my stamina increased and I gradually whittled and honed to produce a svelte silhouette that led me to embrace the benefits of running. As a ‘lollipop’ shape, a term coined by Trinny and Suzanna, it is a total myth that one sports bra suffices.
To ensure zero movement two sports bras are essential. But at least we can thank technology for a decent though expensive selection to hold the girls in, up or down, depending on the occasion. Perhaps, the artificial creation of a 30GG bust is a scopic jouissance rather than a tactile pleasure? With no hips to balance things out, joking school friends expected me to sway with such forward weight. Running, alongside its benefits, brings its own ailments. Osteopathy and sports stretching became part of a body maintenance regime. In my early forties I discovered yoga, which has its own anatomical hurdles to navigate. Not too many forward bends and sun salutations please! Nor whilst I ponder, are the upside-down poses easy to breathe into! Yoga has been amazing for toning lateral abs and arms. Side plank is heaven.
So you get the picture, the body in this story is 100% natural. This has not been achieved without a routine nor plenty of fuel. Enjoying foods especially nuts and cake, without guilt, without greed and with heaps of healthy organic greens! If I have a toxic sin it’s the controversial abuse of bottled water.
A habit of imbibing phylates for the last twenty years as opposed to becoming dehydrated and suffering tremendous headaches. Yes the daily litre and a half of water has cured most of my migraines. Whatsmore I can’t drink it cold from the fridge. Yep a self confessed luke warm water guzzler.
These writings have been a long time coming. Strange that facing a diagnosis of breast cancer has become the catalyst as I divulge the ups and downs of my journey. Perhaps as my view of the world is revealed it will be clear that I am a Lacanian, albeit still in the larval stage. Devouring his work in an attempt to find reason. The bends of my twisting mind work with metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia and lateral thinking. I craft links that traverse a world of personal signifiers that may resound with others, whilst allowing me to both enjoy and despise my symptom.
The Symptom – What is your symptom?
Clearly my present medical symptoms are transcendent, who could have predicted this recent transition from being a lively carefree mare to a suddenly aging patient. A patient now sporting a monthly calendar speckled with future appointments, treatments and emotions. Beyond that my Lacanian symptom is a lifetime of understanding that one foot always remains in the gap. Whatever good karma is summoned the human condition forever drags the world behind it like a shadow. Every gaze is a moment lost.
Since forever, I’ve looked into the eyes of mortality and wondered what the hell it is all about and I can’t let that question go. Daily I look into the mouth of time and shiver at what it means. Fear, excitement and unfairness, the ephemerality of life has always been present to me. Emotion beauty and bewilderment are everywhere. Leaving the now behind and moving forward into the future causes a hankering and nostalgia that is palpable. It always has. Even as a twelve year old regressing across my own short life-time to a familiar building with dusty red Victorian bricks, damp walls and an abundance of old hardbacked books crammed in vertical piles. Or cycling though parkland with the comforting sameness of welcoming ever greens and grassy hillocks. Breathing in seasonal changes whilst the world fundamentally remains the same year after year, whilst also expecting the next thing on the plate of life. A wait which creates an unfightable anxiety of anticipation. Fear as the anticipation of change can only be kept at bay by being busy. What can one Desire next? Routine or surprise? Certainly going to work fills the void. Does that sound familiar? Well that is the symptom for me. Chasing life and simultaneously running away from the changes it leaves. Fear of the unknown, of being uprooted, of losing everything familiar. Whilst holding tightly to the now and the past it’s anchored by.
To an extent fighting cultural growth in a push-me pull-you of wanting to stay still. Some of these waves are expressed vividly in A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. The monster being all the unknowns we face with change and loss. Even the loss of today to face tomorrow. The instant loss of now and the nostalgia of then.
(Not for the ‘feint’ hearted – despite being a children’s book).