Spellbound (Analysis)

Spellbound Analysis

A major project I have been working on in 2020 and 2021 is a fantasy series (to be completed). The poem Spellbound is not part of this series, but it is inspired by the same artistic process I’ve been using to write my dark little fairy tale. This process consists of me translating my mental struggles into fantastical terms and motifs. I was thinking to myself about the obsessive nature of falling in love or falling into fascination with a person, place, or thing as someone with OCD. It is an experience more negative and toxic than it is positive and enjoyable. And it’s something I get called “crazy” for a lot, so I wanted to write a poem in my own little self-aware way as a hypothetical rebuttal to anybody that weaponizes my OCD against me. With that in mind I started to refer to the that mind-altering moment when I fall into fixation with something as a “spark”. This spark, something that many people feel with “love at first sight”, is always exciting at its inception. In the mirrored fantasy version of my psyche the spark is, quite literally, “magic”. That spark has proven since I was a teenager to always end badly though, and that’s why Spellbound describes the origin of this spell as a blessing from a witch that has gone awry. “[She] struck my heart, but must have missed […] because I feel it in my brain.” This whole concept of feeling love in the brain instead of the heart is, well, at the heart of my experience with obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s a trick. It’s a gift gone wrong. It’s not the magical feeling that one feels in heart, it’s obsession, and that is the difference between OCD and real authentic love. One is felt in the brain, and one is felt in the heart. The one felt in the brain is a toxic version of the latter. And I’m no fool to how that spell has manipulated the way I handle social situations in the past.

Spellbound carries on to describe three stage of obsession in rhymes. First the excitement, second the longing, and last the devastation. This is pretty self-explanatory of how OCD feels in any brain that feels the initial “spark”. Then the poem finishes off in a closing stanza about the repetitive nature of the OCD cycle. OCD fixations happen in the following order: Obsession, Compulsion, a feeling of Relief, and then starts over with a new Obsession. This model for the mental disorder was directly referenced when writing the last stanza. The reason I even thought to write this poem was mainly due to the sentiment expressed in the last line, “It never works out and I get worse. A brand new spell with the same hurt.” This is where my frustration comes in, because I do truly feel like falling in love for most people is like a spell, but its a magical experience that is innately positive. I don’t feel that way as someone with OCD. This positive experience that seems so great for everyone else always goes wrong for me because of the way my brain malfunctions in an obsessive compulsive manner. I thought about this recently because I started to feel a new spark, and it was fantastic, but I shut it down as quick as possible. I just don’t have the energy or will to be spellbound again. Not now, at least. Someday I’ll figure out how to be spellbound in my heart instead of my brain, but that day is not today. I’ll stick to exploring psychological phenomena with a rhythmic fantasy backdrop for now.

You can read my poem, Spellbound, here.

– Valerie Parente (1-29-2021)

Like Fine China (Analysis)

Like Fine China Analysis

I wrote this poem, “Like Fine China“, without fully understanding what my subconscious was trying to tell me. After reading it a couple of times I realized the meaning behind the words. Fine China is the symbol for making art (something beautiful) out of sadness. The sadness is a constant cycle that manifests itself like patterns on fine China, royal “blue” (sad) details that I’ve etched upon the surface (my writing). When I have days that I break down, the porcelain breaks down, and I could use the jagged pieces of sadness to hurt myself but instead I choose to use them to build a display out of the broken pieces in the form of a porcelain vase (art from my mental breakdown) and there I show off pretty flowers (rhymes through poetry). The problem that arises from creating art out of sadness, sometimes sadness that a 3rd party might see as “old news”, is that these emotions I’ve recited are as good as dead to the world, hence why the flowers in the fine China vase I’ve built are decaying. The wonder in this, though, is that those decaying flowers offer me, the writer, solace. The cycle of sadness and creativity continues as the decaying flowers become a beautiful floral tea that I turn to for comfort as a grieve the ongoing pain I’m still in. Other people don’t see the benefit of the flowers (writing about perpetual pain), but I do. The entire process from fine china to a floral tea is cathartic, as is the artistic process, and in the end I feel okay and like I can survive my own mental state. Alas, a new day comes, the sadness inevitably returns as I am overwhelmed with reminders from the real world, and the pretty pain goes back to being “too pretty to comprehend” (commentary on not fully understanding what I was writing in the poem itself “Like Fine China”). Thus the entire breaking down of fine china (delving into an artistic outlet) occurs again.

Isn’t it incredible how art can be completely mindless but reveal something so profound in the mind it spawns from?

– Valerie Parente (10-6-2020)