Alison Schulnik presently showing at Mark Moore Gallery

Whilst cooking lunch yesterday I bent over and herniated one of my disks.  My spine gave out and I am now laying supine in a cloud of white linen and little dog waiting for the pain to subside.  Symptoms include: Shooting electric spasms in my legs.  Laboured breathing.  My balls ache.  It is Impossible to make the most simple move without the most excruciating pain.  So, this is what getting old is all about?   I went into a terrible shame spiral as I was forced to ask Cooper to help me perform the most simple task.

Instantaneously crippled by SHAME and spine failure.

Shame, Resentment and Fear.  The three ugly sisters who regularly cripple this particular Cinderella.

It’s interesting how a deeper understanding of toxic shame has given me a greater insight into all things-especially writing fiction.

Watching my adaptation of Dorian Gray again last night with Cooper  (I was in bed sweating from the flu and squirming in pain from my herniated disk)  I realized how much more evolved it could have been.

My contemporary adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel Dorian Gray is a deeply flawed movie.

If I had had the understanding that I now have..understood Dorian Gray’s shame and Lord Henry Wooten’s subtle manipulation of it.   If I had comprehended why Dorian, in turn, heaps shame upon Basil Hallward.

We collectively determine what is shameful and who we think ought to feel shame .  Shame is subjective.

Sanctimonious people, self-righteous people, religious people, are all very eager to heap shame on whomever takes their fancy.

My mother’s shame began as a young 16-year-old girl when she had me-out of wedlock.  To make matters worse my father was a Persian!  My mother was hustled out of dodge by my vitriolic Grandmother to a Catholic mother and baby home where she was forced everyday, by nuns, to perform menial acts of attrition and atone for her sins.

I was born into shame.  I have perpetuated it at my leisure.  I was oblivious to how shame had shaped my life until I started dealing with my sex issues.

For what should we legitimately feel shame?  Should I feel shame for being gay?  Should Natalie Octomum Suliman (Natalie is her birth name) feel shame for having all those babies?  Judging by what is written on my comments page the answer would be a resounding YES.

There is a disturbing connection, for me, between Natalie Octomum and my mother who, 50 years ago, was shamed for the same thing..for giving birth.  They were both called selfish, irresponsible, their actions cast as shameful and both punished by society.

My mother’s character would not have withstood a barrage of outraged press attention when I was born.  She may have come off as surly or defensive when in fact she was just scared and confused.   After refusing to give me up for adoption (for which she was branded selfish and irresponsible) she had the audacity to ‘sponge’ off of her parents and the state before she got a job.

The mother and baby homes run by nuns have all been closed down.  We would be outraged, in the UK, if we heard that heavily pregnant young girls were scrubbing floors by way of Christian punishment.  My Mother was considered by her shamed parents as both criminal and wrong-just like Natalie Suliman.  However, times change and wounds heal.

The morally acerbic press keep Natalie in a holding pattern of shame.  The babies are born!  By punishing Natalie we merely punish every one of those children, creating a stinking cloud of toxic shame that will linger for the rest of their lives.

This is OUR part in the shame game, we perpetuate shame as and when we feel like it.

My mother’s actions in the early 1960’s are scarcely shame worthy in contemporary Great Britain.   In fact most British people would not think Natalie Octomum should have shame heaped upon her for her actions.  She is perceived as a macabre American sideshow where ‘freedom’ breeds freaks like Natalie and people like me who end up on Dr Drew’s Sex Rehab.

Natalie, in my eyes, is neither criminal, wrong, selfish, irresponsible or cruel.  Unless her children are not being loved or cared for…and one assumes with so many prying eyes on Natalie Suliman an unwashed kitchen surface would be enough for child protection agencies to be summoned..then she should be allowed to get on with her very own brand of American ‘freedom’.

Hey, America, I don’t give a damn that Natalie accepts public handouts.  Sounds like some of you want her to feel shame for accepting welfare.  It stinks when I read that some of you don’t think that she is capable of rearing those children when really none of you have any evidence to the contrary.  None of you know how capable she is of limitless love.  None of you.

As my therapist friend Sean M is want to say:  There’s No Shame in My Game.

Finally an artist who inspires:  Allison Schulnik who is presently showing at the Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica‘s Bergamot Station.  I am persuading all of my friends to buy her work.  It is amazing.  A real figurative painter who uses great gobs of paint with such dexterity and precision, so sculpturally and with such poise that I stood before the work salivating, hankering after Frank Auerbach, De Kooning and oddly Corot.   I immediately called Kay and Amanda and insisted that they buy something whilst Allison’s work remains affordable.