Thursday, September 10, 2009
From to Ridiculous to the Sublime and Back again
I am fairly certain that I am not the only person in the continental US who has never before been to a Demolition Derby, because I know that there are others in my immediate family who are equally deprived. But - thanks to the Harmony Free Fair - the situation has been remedied.
Harmony is east of West Athens and seems to have more people in it. Their Labor Day Fair, put on by the Harmony Patriarchs Club, is free & has been for 69 years, because – as was frequently commented – no one would pay for it. The Midway consisted of a 20-foot high inflatable tiger, an inflatable castle and an inflatable rat; and it is my considered opinion that my cucumbers could have snagged the blue ribbon in the Grange Exhibition Hall. (Yes, I can’t stop harping on those cucumbers.)
There was, however, a $5 charge for the Demolition Derby, and everyone was there for the Demolition Derby. As we paid our fee a bald eagle was swooping overhead, prompting the announcer to say: “Look folks, it’s a bald Eagle, that’s for sure, representing the freedom we have to have fun here today at the Harmony Demolition Derby!”
According to CSB, this was not on the grand scale of the Demolition Derby’s he recalls from Skowhegan, in his youth. But wasn’t’ everything grander in our youths?
First we admired the Harmony Fire engine parked next to the pit, and admired the firemen and their gear.
Then there were competitions for the Ugliest Car, and for the Prettiest Car (Wild Willy, Freedom Isn’t Free, Katie’s Bar & Grill, and Batman Returns –the winner) and there was the Ladies’ Competition (won by Miss Linklettter). Then (the bald eagle having gone on to quieter skies) the announcer repeated his warning to interlopers that they must stand back from the far end of the pit because rocks would be flying about, and anyway they should pay their $5 and sit in the stands.
The cars entered the pit, lined up in two rows, and when the kazoo blew, they started banging into each other. And that was that, crash, Kaboom, dust flies, put the car into reverse, and do it again. When it was all over the bulldozer lumbered in and removed the cars, now ready for the crusher. Or maybe not. CSB posited that they could be hammered back into their former glory, and run again to demolish yet more cars.
I learned what happens to all those derelict cars that decorate front yards through the Northern Woods, and it seems good that they are put to use and provide us with this entertainment.
Our appetite for all-American thrills apparently unsated, the following day we went to Orgonon. In Rangeley, Maine (a distinctly more prosperous area than Bingham and environs) there is the final home of Wilhelm Reich and his Orgone Energy Observatory.
In the 1920’s Reich (1897-1957) was a colleague of Freud’s, but when Freud backed away from his extreme theories of the libido, Reich just moved ahead towards his work with “orgastic potency”. He discovered a form of biological energy he called “orgone”. He built a device called the Orgone Accumulator to gather this energy; he even made one large enough for a person to sit in, and absorb orgone. We saw this device, which looked rather claustrophobic. But I couldn’t take pictures because the devotées who look after this legacy are fearful of distortions and mockers. And wisely so: in 1957 Reich was arrested, all his Orgone Accumulators and all his books were seized and destroyed, and 8 months later he died in a Pennsylvania prison. It does seem odd that – per the Bald Eagle – we are free to enjoy the spectacle of dented cars with painted flames bashing into each other, but an Austrian psychoanalyst is arrested for promulgating his Orgasm Theory* and an energy called Orgone.
You see below the CLOUDBUSTER. It functions on the basis of "reversed orgonic potential" and can either make clouds through the increase of Orgone-Potential, or destroy clouds through the decrease of Orgone-Potential. According to an old newspaper clipping from a Maine paper in the early 50's, the Cloudbuster is credited with bringing rain to a drought stricken area around Bethel. I did not make up any of this.
*He discovered that the function of the orgasm is to maintain an energy equilibrium by discharging excess biological energy that builds up naturally in the body. If that discharge function is disturbed—as it proved to be in all of his patients—this energy continues to build up without adequate release, stagnating and fueling neurotic disorders. Reich also discovered that in psychic disturbances, this biological energy is bound up not only in symptoms, but more importantly, in the individual’s characterological and muscular rigidities—what he called “armor.”
Reich’s orgasm theory set him apart from his colleagues, because it indicated that the libido was a real physical energy that possibly might be measured quantitatively. Reich’s clinical work also led him to develop new therapeutic techniques to eliminate the patient’s character and muscular armor and allow for the flow and discharge of this bio-energy to achieve what he called “orgastic potency,” the capacity for total discharge of sexual excitation in the genital embrace.