Mental Contagion is publishing online some of its archive. Coniunctionis: Trauma, Transformation & Punk Rock was a column that I wrote from 2000 – 2002. My sister, Karen Kopacz started editing and publishing Mental Contagion and brought together a great group of writers, including Gene Dillon, Wendy Lewis, Dean Pajevic, and Eric Hoffman, as well as many others over the years.
I wrote a new introduction for this collection of essays and I’ll let it speak for itself as you can find it below along with the table of contents. You can download the complete archive through this link. I also have the individual essays on my website under the Creativity section.
Trauma, Transformation & Punk Rock
(2000 – 2002)
David R. Kopacz, MD
Table of Contents
.0 : Introduction
.1 : Why Coniunctionis? (November, 2000)
.2 : Is Reality Real? (I) (December, 2000)
.3 : Is Reality Real? (II) (January, 2001)
.4 : How Can Ugliness and Disharmony, Which Are the Content of Tragic Myth [and punk rock], Inspire Esthetic Delight?” (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part I) (February, 2001)
.5 : Why is Revolt Necessary? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part II) (March, 2001)
.6 : Is Alienation Necessary for Creativity? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part III) (April, 2001)
.7 : Is There an Inside/Outside? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part IV) (May, 2001)
.8 : What is the Meaning of Ian Curtis’ Death? Where is the line between the Art Object and the Artist? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part V) (June, 2001)
.9 : What is Punk Rock? What is Not Punk Rock? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part VI) (July, 2001)
.10: What Does the Shadow Know? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part VII) (August, 2001)
.11: What is the Relationship Between Music and Religion? (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part VIII) (September, 2001)
.12: What Are We to Do? Quotations (October, 2001)
I: Interview: Ouroboros (Houston) by David Kopacz – for Mental Contagion (MC) (November, 2001)
.13: What Does Religion have to do with Rock? A review of Dan Graham’s Rock My Religion (December, 2001)
.14: What Did You See There? Ian Curtis and the Visionary Quest of the Shaman (Joy Division, Punk Rock, Violence, Despair & Transformation Part IX) (January, 2002)
I: Interview: Poster Children by David Kopacz (With Special Guests Doug McCarver and Mike Barry) (February 2002)
On stranger waves, the lows and highs Our vision touched the sky. “A Means to an End,” Joy Division, Closer, 1980.
There is a movement within me, a current and flow that lives through me. I have felt the pull to be inside, where everything is happening. I have felt the pull to be outside of it all, where nothing is happening. These essays, written between 2000-2002 for the online journal Mental Contagion, are attempts to understand the inside and the outside and the power that flows from outside to inside and from inside to outside. These essays are investigations into the nature of reality through Joy Division, trauma, transformation, and punk rock.
There is a pull that some people feel, to go deeply inward, sometimes that pull is a push, from alienation or trauma in the outer world. Going into this inner wilderness is a kind of darkness and it can overlap with despair. Maybe despair is the cause of the inwardness or maybe despair is a station along the path of inwardness, like a phase of grief that one goes through, leaving the communal and collective world and entering into the sacred inner cave of consciousness and being. Jung wrote,
“As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know. Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible. The loneliness began with the experiences of my early dreams, and reached its climax at the time I was working on the unconscious. . . . It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. If fills life with something impersonal, a numinosum,” (Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 356).
For Jung, this loneliness was difficult to bear, but it was a source of learning and experience that he would not have traded for fitting in. Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division, also found a creativity in the darkness and the loneliness and he sent back missives from the depths, as a lone astronaut exploring space might send back scratchy transmissions from another galaxy:
“You’ve been seeking things in darkness, not in learning” (No Love Lost)
“I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand. Could these sensation make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?These sensations barely interest me for another day I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away” (Disorder)
Depending on how this pull is engaged in, one goes on an inner journey. If one goes deep enough, there is an inner well of transformation, drinking that water of the deep self is like a form of rebirth, but rebirth infers that there has been a death. Without guidance, many are lost on this path and there is untold loss of human potential. Yet, these brave souls, these inner warriors, can serve as heroes as well as cautionary tales. To give one’s self over to this inner secret is like taking the steps of what Joseph Campbell called the “Hero’s Journey,” with steps of 1) separating from the everyday world; 2) entering into a magical world or the underworld and going through an initiation and transformation into a new way of being; and 3) a return and reintegration into society. Jung’s process of individuation would say that the hero brings back energy and ideas from the collective unconscious, and yet the hero bringing this back is alone, because no one else made that journey and no one else yet understands the beauty and value of what the hero or heroine has brought back from the unconscious into the light of day. Joseph Campbell felt that the hero is rejected by society, because he or she has gone places that most people do not know or understand. Herman Hesse, in Steppenwolf, wrote of a similar concept, that creativity is infused into society by the lone wolf, the liminal being, the misfit.
“We are psychiatrists; we are German; we have read Nietzsche; we know that to gaze too long at monsters is to risk becoming one – that is what we get paid for,” (Huelsenbeck, quoted in Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces, 226).
I was a young psychiatrist when I was writing these columns and I was trying to find my path as an artist, a writer, a professional and a person. I was not German, but I had read Nietzsche, Jung, and a number of other writers you’ll find in these pages. I had listened to Joy Division and punk rock and post-punk. I was gazing at monsters, both inner and outer, as Richard Huelsenbeck, the Dadaist Psychiatrist.
These essays were about me trying to figure some things out, but they are really more explorations than answers. Over the years, the topics in these essays have resurfaced and recurred in my life in various ways. After a period of some years, I found that I had more to write on these topics and began writing additional columns.
For the purpose of this archival collection, I have just collected those essays published in Mental Contagion 2000 – 2002. Post 9/11/2001, I mostly shifted to doing interviews for the column, for this collection I have kept just a few interviews as many of them seem more specific to that time and that place (Champain-Urbana, Illinois). You can read more recent Coniunctionis essays on my blog Being Fully Human. My website www.davidkopacz.com also has the original Coniunctionis essays, along with artwork, photography, poetry, publications, and other work. The work of Coniunctionis prefigures my current work with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and has continued to influence my writing and published work:
Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice and the Culture of Medicine (2014)
Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD (2016) with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)
Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality (2020) with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)