I want so much to begin my Ohio series, but I can’t due to other responsibilities relating to wage earning taking up all of my time. The constant need to earn a living is a major source of frustration for me. There is no market for the kind of material I am suited to produce (readership of this blog hovers right around 20 views a day, for example), and so I have to do wage toil to get capital to live on. Most days I resign myself to the way the world is and how the people are who live in it, and I do what is asked of me (web programming and low-level graphic design). Today my mind revolts at the work I’m trying to make it do. I am sitting at my desk in my windowless office trying to concentrate, and my thinking is just very fitful and continually escaping into daydream. This struggle to harness and control myself is agonizing because it requires me to apply immense effort to enact the suppression but then I must also be the victim of my own suppressing. The misery of it puts me in the mind of what torture is—I mean what it really is, which is more than just the experience of pain. The term torture comes from the Latin root “tort”, which denotes twisting or bending. The term describes how the body writhes and contorts under infliction, which is an instinctual reaction compelling the body away from the thing causing the injury. Under torture, the body frantically struggles to escape, but since it is restrained, the escape is thwarted. Herein lies the true anguish and trauma of the torturous ordeal: it is not the pain, but the inability to escape the pain that so impossible to endure. Pain, after all, is imaginary and can be displaced with mental discipline. Mutilation or injury, of which the pain is a signal, is real; it is the substantive event and cannot be ignored without surrendering oneself to delusion. So torture really has more to do with the context that surrounds the pain, the fear and uncertainty and distress and isolation and loss of hope. Pain is merely an intensifier to the emotional torment of being trapped.
Thus, my current state can be understood as follows: I feel no pain, but I feel a compulsion to escape as if I were undergoing some painful trial. Because I cannot satisfy this compulsion, I am in fact subject to what could legitimately be called a torture. I think this could be said of anyone who is trapped. It is always torture, the very worst thing that a human being can suffer; sensing the urgent need to escape and being kept from doing so.