hygienic darkroom retreat

profound rest for the self‑healing psyche

by andrew durham

2017 september update

2017 September 23

In 2016 June, I gave up on overwork as the means to arrange the conditions of profound rest for myself. With the help of Marion Abbott, a great new friend and fellow darkness seeker, I made a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise the money I needed to finally retreat for 20 days.

For the first days, I was euphoric. Finally, the way was cleared for me to retreat. Or so I thought.

In four months, with $2800, I only arranged a rushed 5-day retreat. My incapacity was heartbreaking and unbelievably strange. The ability I had counted on to accomplish the retreat vanished upon acquiring the means to do so. The incapacity persists and intensifies to this day. In February, I arrived at an explanation: the automatic loss of false capacity upon recovery of original capacity. This has helped me remain calm about my hastening debilitation.

I continued trying to arrange a retreat while struggling to keep a roof over my head as usual. I found a workshop to prefabricate a new portable building in. I met several people interested in participating and supporting it somehow. But my living situation constantly interfered with my efforts.

Finally I realized what everyone who knows me must know: my biggest and most immediate problem is my homelessness. I shifted my focus from arranging a retreat to making a home for myself. With a home, I could do the retreat and the hundred other things I need to do and which constantly plague my efforts to retreat. My darkroom building project became my home building project. Everything started falling into place. For several hours one day, I felt rapture for the first time since it overcame me as a teenager.

The house will be a hexayurt of massive materials for warmth and sound insulation, yet still portable. It will be full-size: 4.8m inside diameter, corner to corner, and 1.8m high walls and a 3m peak. Since a darkroom is just a proper shelter, and so easily darkenable, the whole building will meet my specifications in design. I have built one-third of the floor. Photos soon.

About the same time (June), my meager cryptocurrency investments of the previous 18 months matured. Suddenly I had enough to build and feed myself.

The whole time I wondered what the hell had happened to me this year. Besides my strange incapacity, I felt like I had a target painted on me. I encountered several personality-disordered people in the past 18 months and one genuine psychopath this spring, perhaps the most evil person I have ever met. It nearly did me in.

I got away from him in time. I was offered a two-month housesitting job in a run-down yurt I didn’t have to do much for. I had it to myself and began to recover. One day, I felt a primal power begin to stir in myself. It is the power to live, to survive, to run or fight, to maintain one’s place in the world in the face of challenges, to take care of oneself, to be satisfied in oneself. Money represents it. It is fundamental to sexual power, which I had explored and reported on in recent years. The power to live had been largely decimated in me as a child, as much or more than my sexuality. But here it was. It felt clear though very faint.

Though I have more money (on paper) than I ever had at once in my life, my capacity for money and for the power it represents remain quite limited by ordinary standards. I pray it is enough to get me into darkness for 20 days. We will see.

Meanwhile, a new reader contacted me and offered to edit my book. She did it in June. We corrected lots of typos, spelling and grammatical errors. I also cleaned up the appearance of the book’s text by replacing footnotes with underlined words that are links in the PDF or online. The new version is up at leanpub.

It also includes three crucial new designs: a silencer, fan mount, and instant sleeping mask. I believe these complete the basic suite of components everyone needs to make a proper darkroom and endure till it is ready to retreat in.

Ok, till next time.

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