“Anti-Retentive Asshole”: The tragedy of a compartmentalized culture

by on August 8th, 2005

“Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: ‘Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.’ That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” Part 1, Chapter 1, pg. 3 from The Stranger, by Albert Camus.

“In hell there is no retention.”~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

When yesterday finds its place in the legacy of lost deeds, it also loses its place in the mind that originally conceived it. Wet kisses turn dry, youth turns into yeast, embraces lose their warmth. Nothing is retained.

The starkness of the shining sun becomes a mockery of the buried past. In somber solicitude, artless, motionless, limply lies a vacant soul.

No, the lack of senses does not mean that one cannot feel. One is witness to the same elements as one were when one may have had senses. The theoretical memory of those feelings dominate, yet the inability, the sheer sensory impotency to renew ones veins becomes a powerful, intense, pervasive super-perception, in which normal sadness becomes an ungrateful dead, lying wantonly murdered six feet under our cemented anti-retentive consciousness.

Anti-retentive and anti-spontaneous. Anti-spontaneous, therefore anti-retentive.

“Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and established market economies worldwide” posits National Institute of Mental Health.

A typical day on this part of the East Coast is revealing. Individuals going through the ‘motions’, yet motionless. Professional courtesy is an empty decorum complete with its variants of greetings, grunts, and grimaces. The ramifications to personal life is significant.

Even love itself becomes a chore. Indeed, Dr.Schweitzer said, that ‘happiness is good health and bad memory’. One can discern in these cynical words the transition of our generation. Younger days, defeated hopes, and therefore, yes, a culminating, ‘happy’ and pervasive anti-retention.

By ‘good health’, Dr. Schweitzer obviously meant the free and pleasurable exercise of good health. How else would it create this memory-less happiness?

“Nationally, one-quarter of 15 year old females and less than 30% of 15 year old males have had sex, compared with 66% of 18 year old females, and 68% of 18 year old males who have had sexual intercourse.” (A Statistical Portrait of Adolescent Sex, Contraception, and Childbearing, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Washington, DC, 1998).

These ‘experienced’ young men and women, bred and reared with the sad ponderings of ‘love’ that come in tastefully decked CD cases, love emblazoned on embossed flesh hugging garments. Love that advertises itself on accentuated curves like propaganda slogans. Where can in such abundance of good health may love be found, discovered, re-discovered, and resurrected, if our memory deceives us?

“Teenagers of both genders who are sexually active are substantially less likely to be happy and more likely to be depressed than are teenagers who are not sexually active” reports The Heritage Foundation.

When heart-rending love songs combine with heart-throbbing lingerie, the mind is erected and pierced with confusion and a sporadic discharge of semen and tears.

It becomes hard indeed to reconcile one with the other, and in this integrated illusion, a misery of a deep, disgruntled, and diminished awareness trots along, task to task, game to game, person to person, chore to chore. In a successive dash of short highs good health eventually dissolves, and only…memory..remains?


We lift today’s coffee cup, yes, the warmth is there. But in its dark, deep, meditative brew; in the haze of the morning and in its doze, something is passing. Something infinite. Something eternal. Something memorable.

“A strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.”~Anna Mary Robertson Moses

Alexander Rai