Elliot Gavin Keenan is an author of creative nonfiction.
Keenan addresses topics related to mental illness, gender identity, memory, and creativity with a sidewinding poetic logic. He chronicles his own life experiences. His lyrical prose conveys meaning through sound and rhythm while it spirals like the Earth around an emotional sun — controlled in its orbit, always moving forward, and yet seemingly without destination. Keenan affords the reader a look at the world through his own eyes and insight into his process of making meaning out of life.
Everything Else (Gravel)
She’s a doctoral student in the psychology department. But she told me that she used to write as if seized by a certain fervor for it, for the language, for poetry. I imagined Van Gogh and his passion for painting, his insatiable hunger. I thought I wanted to kiss those lips stained with yellow paint. Yellow, the color of the edges of a street, the boundaries of a self crossed like two neurons, the actualization of a synesthetic dream. To imbibe it is to take all of that in, the passion, life thrust under your tongue. I wanted that.
Notes to Self (Lunch Ticket)
They say she loved you more than anyone else in the world. You have never considered yourself a delusional person, and so you do not believe in ghosts or guardian angels. But some people believe that the night, about two weeks after she died, the night you hemorrhaged—and almost died yourself—but, for some unknown reason, you woke up, covered in blood, red everywhere, your pillows were permanently stained—they believe that was her spirit, protecting you. They believe she protects you still.
On Being Insane
After being diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder at age seven, Elliot becomes fascinated with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the Bible of American psychiatry) and its enumeration, categorization, and systematization of innate human differences. This specialized knowledge of the DSM’s rules and codes comes in handy as Elliot struggles through multiple psychiatric hospitalizations for severe bipolar depression, but his dreams of being a clinical psychologist seem ever further out of reach until a kindly professor and autism scientist termed herein as Dr. Pinball takes notice of his abilities. This is a story of one young man’s searching: for sanity, for stability, and for the people who understand. They may be found in unlikely places.
I’m sitting alone in a white-walled hospital room. My forearm (decorated with the greenish-yellow smudge of bruises from implanted IVs) dangles limply over the edge of the hospital bed, as if grasping there for some invisible human touch. I want to become a fossil, I think, as I observe my hands. Blood occupies the space beneath my fingernails, the idiosyncratic curvature of my fingerprints traced in crimson red. Nobody asks me about this. I should write, but I can’t. The wound is still tender and characterized by a hollow aching, like an echo.
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