Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The horror and joy of a certain enlightenment

I've had my share of enlightenment in the last few years, and I suspect that I've stolen from the others' share if the quantity of enlightenment is somehow fixed. You know, if a quota exists.

These enlightening moments had a wide range too. In one, I found myself being in that place where the virtual becomes actual, the place where the world is constantly created, where life creates itself as a current coming from the virtual and transforming into actual, the ultimate now. In another, more mundane one, I suddenly understood something which before constantly escaped the eyes of my mind (which I don't remember now). Of course all of this had a transformative effect on me on some level, otherwise they wouldn't be called enlightenment. But I went through them intact, that is, I always felt an inherent trust in myself, therefore in life that it wouldn't break me. It would only make me more, I would know and feel more, I would become richer... Isn't this the meaning of life to some extent?

Then came the breaker and probably the most superior enlightenment of it all, at least among the others I experienced. I met this guy and had a lot of fun. I felt as if I found "my mirror twin, my next of kin" to quote Leonard Cohen. I don't remember exactly when or where I fell for him. But our encounter was such a forceful attraction that it was as if time itself disappeared and we were in a constant now. To speak more intellectually, it was Aion that I found myself in in contrast to Chronos. No wonder why Aion is identified with Eros... These weird things started to happen: I was dreaming his dreams, or maybe I was moving into his mind while I was sleeping. There I experienced the first tinges of horror. It's not pleasant to come into being in somebody else's mind, no matter how much you love them. It may even be the ultimate horror of life: realizing that you are a figment of somebody else's imagination. Being conscious and ultimately powerless. Having no power of action to change things around...

And his mind was not a pleasant environment either. It was contrary to everything I believe myself to be. So, I was put off a little and we eventually broke up with the addition of some other mundane reasons. But I couldn't really detach myself from this experience. One day, as I was in bed trying to sleep (you can imagine that sleeping has become very hard to accomplish for me after this), I saw myself standing at the edge of the world, where an abysmal wound was constantly opening in the flesh of the world. Yes. I'm sorry, I haven't yet found a more understandable expression to draw the image of that affect. It was the world becoming wounded at every instant and it was the abyss which seemed to me essential to the world's existence. The wound was always there and it was going to be there forever, without the possibility of healing since it was always becoming a wound...

Of course, being me, I approached the matter in a philosophical way, to discern the problem. I solved or am constantly trying to solve all my existential problems with philosophy, so why not this one? First I thought this was related to the material being of the world since the wound was crawling with things, things I couldn't define. It seemed to me, at first, that the world was suffering of the being of matter, in a Bergsonian sense that is matter is in a state of forgetting itself, continuously getting away from itself. World was rotting from within because matter was forgetting itself, becoming stranger every moment. World was not able to penetrate matter, relate to it even though it is made of it. So it was becoming stranger to itself. But the world had a flesh or is flesh, with that I mean matter with soul, something that relates everything with every other thing, invisible connections throughout. So, these connections were constantly breaking because f*cking matter couldn't remember that it was a part of all this. Sorry about that, I always get angry at this point. Can't help it.

OK, this explanation seemed quite right to me but I wasn't relieved of course. Now, my ground was shaken all the more because I believe in the world and matter, I believe that they reconcile somehow, that matter would come back to itself at some point. Maybe some connections are constantly being broken but others are constantly created. So this wound shouldn't be a fundamental wound but it terrifyingly seemed so...

Then, in the hope of finding my comfortable ground again, I started reading everything that made sense to me before. And there it was, in Deleuze's Difference and Repetition:

"Nietzsche seems to have been the first to see that the death of God becomes effective only with the dissolution of the Self. What is then revealed is being, which is said of differences which are neither in substance nor in a subject: so many subterranean affirmations. If eternal return is the highest, the most intense thought, this is because its own extreme coherence, at the highest point, excludes the coherence of a thinking subject, of a world which is thought of as a guarantor God. Rather than being concerned with what happens before and after Kant (which amounts to the same thing), we should be concerned with a precise moment within Kantianism, a furtive and explosive moment which is not even continued by Kant, much less by post-Kantianism - except, perhaps, by Hölderlin in the experience and the idea of a 'categorical abduction'. For when Kant puts rational theology into question, in the same stroke he introduces a kind of disequilibrium, a fissure or crack in the pure Self of the ' I think' , an alienation in principle, insurmountable in principle: the subject c an henceforth represent its own spontaneity only as that of an Other, and in so doing invoke a mysterious coherence in the last instance which excludes its own - namely, that of the world and God. A Cogito for a dissolved Self: the Self of 'I think' includes in its essence a receptivity of intuition in relation to which I is already an other. It matters little that synthetic identity - and, following that , the morality of practical reason - restore the integrity of the self, of the world and of God, thereby preparing the way for post-Kantian syntheses: for a brief moment we enter into that schizophrenia in principle which characterizes the highest power of thought, and opens Being directly on to difference, despite all the mediations, all the reconciliations, of the concept." [Italics are mine] 
There are other passages that are of importance here for me, in one he talks about thought, in the other about the nomadic distribution. Bear with me:

 "It is true that on the path which leads to that which is to be thought, all begins with sensibility. Between the intensive and thought, it is always by means of an intensity that thought comes to us. The privilege of sensibility as origin appears in the fact that, in an encounter, what forces sensation and that which can only be sensed are one and the same thing, whereas in other cases the two instances are distinct. In effect, the intensive or difference in intensity is at once both the object of encounter and the object to which the encounter raises sensibility. It is not the gods which we encounter: even hidden, the gods are only the forms of recognition. What we encounter are demons, the sign-bearers"


"Even when it concerns the serious business of life, it is more like a space of play, or a rule of play, by contrast with sedentary place and nomos. To fill a space, to be distributed within it, is very different from distributing the space. It is an errant and even 'delirious' distribution, in which things are deployed across the entire extensity of a univocal an undistributed Being. It is not a matter of being which is distributed according to the requirements of representation, but of all things being is divided up within being in the univocity of simple presence (the One - All). Such a distribution is demonic rather than divine, since it is a peculiarity of demons to operate in the intervals between the gods' field of action, as it is to leap over the barriers or enclosures, thereby confounding the boundaries between properties. Oedipus' chorus cries: 'Which demon has leapt further than the longest leap?' The leap here bears witness to the unsettling difficulties that nomadic distributions introduce into sedentary structures of representation." [Italics are mine] 

Well, all this made even more sense to me. In a very real sense, his existence opened a crack in me, or my representation since I identified myself with him but he was an "other" nevertheless. I found this crack in the very core of my being, and a terrible alienation took place. It was the result of an encounter which forced me to think as it always is. Of course I had similar experiences before but it was always from a relatively safe place. I was always a good girl trying to make sense of the world. It seems that I had never put myself on the line and this time my very own being - or the structure which represents me - was in danger. What I encountered at the edge of the world's flesh, crawling were demons. The wound was actually the crack in "me," where I actually think. And this crack, this wound was as impersonal as it can be. It had nothing to do with my puny life. It was fundamental indeed, but in a good way, not towards death but creation.

You can imagine life is more endurable again. Because now I have something to work with to create. Now, I'm not drowning in the horror. I still see it, I still feel it but now I gained the necessary perspective to go on and transform the sad passions into joyful ones, to speak in Spinoza's terms. I can look in the eye of the horror of enlightenment and still survive to make something out of it. I was wounded deeply but I was healed in a different sense as well.

To return another deep love of mine, Philip K. Dick, I am now able to take smaller doses of schizophrenia. Dick talks about the unfolding in schizophrenia (in my context the crack in the 'I') as follows:

"This unfolding is not in any sense a causal progression; it is the vertical opening forth of synchronicity rather than the horizontal cause-and-effect sequence that we experience by clock time, and since it is timeless, it is unlimited in extent; it has no built-in end. So the universe of the schizophrenic is, again to understate it, somewhat large. Much too large. Ours, like the twice-daily measured squirt of toothpaste, is controlled and finite; we rub up against only as much reality as we can handle -- or think we can handle, to be more accurate." (Here is the link for the ones who would like to read this beautiful article) 

The space where thinking happens in the speed of light, the crack, the wound at the edge of the world's flesh is not a space you can endure to live. It is too much to allow any kind of activity. You are in the mercy of demons, always passive, being dragged from there to here. That was the source of my deep sorrow: ultimate passivity. All the thoughts that came to me was about that: the forgetful character of matter, the crawling eerie things, death, etc.

But there is no need to give in to death and get incurably depressed. You can and should make something out of everything in life since you are living! So, I thank life for giving me all these opportunities full of wonder to discover its horrifying and beautiful sides. I thank life for constantly destroying and reconstructing everything anew. And I thank life for introducing me such beautiful people like Dick, Deleuze, Cohen, and more who are constantly moving me, renewing the joy that is the essence of our soul, I believe.

"Got something in my eye, a light that doesn't need to live, and doesn't need to die..."

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