It is often the case that one values something only once it is gone. Having never considered my capacity for parallel thinking (a sort of twin consciousness, poorly explained in OPUS 1), anything out of the ordinary, it never occurred to me how much I relied upon my natural Geminian dualities to separate my profession from my private life.
I took my work very seriously and, like many young spirits entering an old regime, my ideal was to challenge and change all former templates. I was an extremely intense young man and my goals were high and known only to me, for to explain them would have been to lessen their energy.
Contrasting with this ingenuous intensity was a sense of ironic ridiculousness, that, while not unusual, is not all that common either. In my art school years, I disdained the brooding gloom of artsyfartsy radical thinkers, and grim poets for sociological change, who glared over their wire-rimmed glasses and worried at their wispy goatees, sneering the doom of the intellectually despaired. I could be grim and moody too, sure — I was “deep” all right — but crack a good joke and I’d collapse in hysterics. I spent much of my college years clutching my aching ribs and rubbing my tear-slicked cheeks, knotted up in riotous laughter. This was pretty much my personality profile right up until June, 1973.
It was not that I’d suddenly lost my sense of humor in the aftermath of Cosmic Experience but, rather, my previously taken-for-granted ability to automatically separate my emotional darks from my lights was significantly damaged.
It took many months, but I came to see this change as resulting from something like a so-called energy spike. As if an overload of power had transformed brain chemicals at the cellular level, and the electrical circuits once hard wired in my head were now fused together like a blown-out radio receiver.
I really didn’t know who I was any more.
Deep in psychological denial, I believed I had no option but to keep these mysterious matters to myself. Despite my efforts, I was unable to fully disguise that my world had turned inside out. I could barely concentrate on my work for more than an hour or two at a sitting, and even then I had to fight to keep my thoughts from wandering. There was a deadline for the first chapter of Red Nails, but I had entirely forgotten about it. When Marvel’s production chief phoned to complain that the first twenty-one pages were due, I buckled down to work and tried harder than ever to act as if nothing had happened. But I could not catch up with the work, and, for the first time in my six-year career, I was defeated by a deadline. I handed over the work incomplete. Pages 20 and 21 were finished off in ink by another hand.