Archive for the ‘red’ Category

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”[1]

It’s a quote often ascribed to C.S. Lewis, but the ever-petulant Internet has debunked that.[2] In fact, no one knows where it came from. What’s clear is that people have been saying a version of it for quite some time.

You break up your existence into two things. Academic people like to call it a dichotomy. D.H. Lawrence calls it a “divided psyche” and attributes it especially to Americans[3]. I really want to get into his thoughts on blood-knowledge and how Americans can’t even feel it anymore, because they’re so stuck in their heads, but that’s not where we’ll go right now.[4]

I think of myself as a body and a soul, even though intellectually I like the hypothesis that our existence is closer to an endless network of chemistry between the past, present, and future of our experience and memory. Every input is something new that reacts with twenty-seven years of sedimented history that lives in my neurons.

I can see my body in the mirror. I can touch it. I can feel the parts of it I like and the parts of it I don’t. I can feel the influx of endorphins when I exercise. But I can also feel things I can’t see, and I call them my soul.

Then there are stirrings in my body that color my entire day. They turn it red, and then everything I do all day looks red. There are stirrings in my soul, and I get really close to the mirror and look for them in my irises.

I don’t think it’s fair to say you are a soul any more than you are a body. You are bestowed things by the universe to call your own. The universe constantly flows into them and out of them; you cannot quarantine your soul from the world any more than you can quarantine your body.

If I had to choose between a life of pure touch and a life of pure thought, I would choose touch.

When two souls love each other, their bodies follow. When two bodies touch, the soul either runs to the surface of the skin or shrinks into the unknown where it can be safe.

The agonies of the body are never worse than the agonies of the soul. But I can feel the agonies of the soul dragging my body down. When I use my body intensely, it can lighten the load of whatever weighs on my soul, if only for a short time.

There’s a circle between the soul and the body. You cannot say you are one more than another. You have blood-knowledge. It tells you to do things that your mind classifies as stupid or wrong.[5] But it also tells you to do things that bring you closer to owning the center of what you call yourself.

I want to live in my blood as much as I live in my mind. Dichotomy-schmotomy. I want the whole thing.

[1] This post will have footnotes. Footnotes are one of the best things writing ever invented. Never, ever, pass up a chance to use footnotes.

[3] D.H. Lawrence. “Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Scarlet Letter.” Studies in Classic American Literature. Please, please read this book. If you have any interest in American culture, or if you even participate in American culture, which most everyone in the world does to some extent, please read this book. The best parts are the first two chapters and his essays on Poe and Hawthorne. Basically he says this country has floated on a sea of blood ever since it began and underneath all of our productive little Puritan spirits lies a maddening destructive darkness.

[4] p. 90-91: “Blood-knowledge, instinct, intuition, all the vast vital flux of knowing that goes on in the dark, antecedent to the mind….And on the other hand, the mind and the spiritual consciousness of man simply hates the dark potency of blood-acts: hates the genuine dark sensual orgasms, which do, for the time being, actually obliterate the mind and the spiritual consciousness, plunge them into a suffocating flood of darkness.”

[5] See Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. He lives in his blood; he’s a beautiful fascinating rotten man.




Posted: August 26, 2012 in red

I hate that stupid phrase about changing the world. “I’m going to change the world.” Great. Well, first off the world changes every day, of its own accord, and each change is tending toward some new paradigm in whatever field it affects, however great or small. And that’s not the effect of one person or a group of people but an impulse in the collective itself, a communal desire borne of multifarious and unrelated groups of people to manifest a certain shift in a certain field.

Fuck changing the world. It will do that all by itself, and I’m sure you’ll feel really good about yourself if you can lay some sort of claim to taking part in a change that is generally perceived as making things better. The reality is nothing is good or bad. Ok, less people are dying. You’re further depleting the food supply, which puts pressure on the environment, and that extra eighty gallons of pesticide used to grow the sustenance food for the poor people you helped save is going to implode the earth five years sooner than it eventually would. Congratulations. You feel good about yourself.

Everybody dies. The only reason we go around trying to have less people die is because otherwise you’re in a society about survival of the fittest, and then everyone just ends up killing each other over the next guy’s apple. Sure, I’d rather our have vain, self-serving idea of a “good” society than the Lord of the Flies one, but don’t decieve yourself, it’s a communal survival mechanism and there is no such thing as progress when it comes to human nature. Only repression.

What I want to do is light souls on fire. There’s an ancient idea about how we’re all just participants in the World Soul, which proceeds from the One, the original creative impulse, the being that exists before the principle of being, an epic stillness that creates not of its own will but of its own nature, and from that One pours the entire universe, first spirit and then matter. And at our very core, when we are closest to the purity of our own self, is that spark, that ineffable need to create, to flow through the One and take part in the unfolding of the universe just as we were meant to. It means bright eyes and hungry hands and lots of pacing and loving and hating and tears.

At my center is a black hole wishing to swallow the universe. That I know. But there’s forever the mystery of what happens to the matter that gets sucked in. Whatever it is, even if it is something so opaque as death, I want to know.

I want to wheedle my way in, through your ears or hair or skin, and find that spark. I want to rip a powerline down and poke that part of you with it. We’re in a society that privileges the comfortable life over the alive one. Little insignificant routines that tell us we are doing just fine and we should sleep easy at night. Sitting in front a computer all day, unmoving and bored, but we’re told that’s RIGHT because someone pays us to do it. It’s a farce of empty legitimization.

Have you ever had an animal look at you when you’re on your phone or on the computer? It’s painful how torturously boring they think we are.

Maybe there’s too many of us here, and the only way we can all get along is to take part in the deadening society we’ve built. If we all burned with the real sparks within us, the whole place would turn to ash. But mine is so loud and so hot that I can’t shut it up, and I see it, I see it in everyone in those millisecond expressions of eye and it’s our origin and our birthright and I just want you to burn with me because it’s a feeling that goes beyond our pedestrian notions of happiness–it’s truth running through your veins begging you to be it, be in it and not question whatever it might look like from the outside because IT IS WHAT YOU ARE.