Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Deadening of the Soul

Dedicated to Darya, for the week ending 11/18/04

Rainy day world, world without end

Descend from the God world...

I will cut the flesh, I will sear the soul, I will become my own most precious and willing victim. What is art without suffering? What is suffering without art? What is life without either? The silent passing of shadows over a dead planet, the meaningless shudder and release of cells through unending chains of organisms, from birth to breach, from life to death. What is the purpose of a life lived in absolute isolation? What tests a man of moral worth if he can not descend to that chain of being? Is it better to live as the dead or enter the world and risk dying? Is it possible to slow the life-long process of dying? Is it possible, though passion, to accelerate the growth of this darkness inside of you? Is it possible to die many deaths in one day?

Questions without answers:

It is better to get what you want, or suffer deprivation? Does the artist benefit or is he cursed even further by his reaching towards goals, by his illusory grasp of the same? Does desire ever truly end, or does it always appear in another disguise once quenched in one manifestation? Are life and desire the same thing? Does desire even end with death? Does satisfaction kill art? Is art a healing process for the artist or an audience, or is it only a source of torment...for one or both? Is art torture? Can artists ever be happy, even for an uninterrupted moment? Can the artist turn away from the world and seek solace or refuge in his own art? Or is the world always inherent and undivided within him, and appears in the mirror of his soul when he looks to see only himself? Does the world only lead downward?

Is an artist relevant if he creates only for himself? And if he is not relevant is he an artist at all? Can there be a language without words, a language that communicate nothing...but which still finds solace for the speaker in the act of speaking? Does language only create meaning in order to comfort the speaker? Is meaning only a refuge?

Is my entire world only a reflection of what I carry inside myself?

...I am thy mate, I am thy man,
Goat of thy flock, I am gold, I am god,
Flesh to thy bone, flower to thy rod.
With hoofs of steel I race on the rocks
Through solstice stubborn to equinox.
And I rave; and I rape and I rip and I rend
Everlasting, world without end...

- from Aleister Crowley's "Hymn to Pan", recited at his funeral

So one day, a day like any other day, one rainy day in another unending chain of rainy Austin days stretching back, for me, almost twelve years. One more day of withholding, Austin being unable to commit to fire or famine, ice or true starless darkness, existing in that eternally gray concrete world of drawn blinds and shuttered windows, wooden doors swollen shut against the pacing of empty hearts through empty streets. A day to descend, I suppose, one day as good as another in a world where the meaning of the moment has been completely erased...and if every day is to be a cipher, a blank, a blasted page and a withered, wordless, existence...a silent moment trembling between two meanings, unable to commit itself to either...why not die just a little today? Why not walk into the world?

But for that man - left behind now - who roamed these same streets so long ago, and who laid the foundations, acid-etched in their bitterness, for the man I am today, I dedicate a year of additional silence that opens upon itself like an abandoned orchid, a great poisonous monochrome flower. I blame him, of course, for who I am today, I blame him for what I feel now and don't feel, I blame him (all of this burden laid at his door) for the being who he was, silent and swollen with pregnant moments, always on the murderous knife-edge of experiences that would have opened his heart. Forgotten, perhaps, and willing - always - to forgive, I suppose he was only waiting. Waiting and waiting...

I am still paying for his mistakes.

But how long can one wait to live? And if one isn't living, isn't in constant pain, I suppose there is only the withering and withdrawing, the days of soundless, suffocated deaths - stillborn moments - that drip down as a counterfeit gold, like inner peace. In these streets, then, there have been so many expression of desire and longing, even if the majority of them were only held clenched behind whispering lips, even if they never passed beyond arm's length...even if they never entered the world. If only that man had touched the world...how long can one live in fear?

There has been much talk in the world about unhappy love, and everyone knows what the term means: that the lovers are unable to have each other. And the reasons - well, there can be a host of them. There is another kind of unhappy love...the unhappiness is the result not of the lovers' being unable to have each other but of their being unable to understand each other. And this sorrow is indeed infinitely deeper than the sorrow of which people speak, for this unhappiness aims at the heart of love and wounds for eternity...

- Kierkegaard, in his Philosophical Fragments

How much suffering can be compressed into a week, a day, or an hour? How much suffering can be stretched out over a month, a year, a lifetime?

However, as a friend of mine constantly says to me (and one of these days I will finally be able to listen to him, right now I still can't actually feel his words), there is absolutely no value in regret. Regrets stir and breathe in the darkness, in the blood, they twist and slide over each other, they squirm in serpentine waves and mock or mimic life...but one never knows if they are truly alive. Are they only cursed with life by the consciousness, by the shape of the will, the personality? Can they be killed in a moment, in a sudden change of view, in an eclipse or elision of the soul? A metamorphosis between minutes, thin as a razor? Or are they revenants, ultimately immortal? One feels that one can only quiet them through experience, that is...through experience one's understanding and view of life will grow so wide that its horizons will be too far apart for any regrets to pace down its paths. There can only be the Will and Experience, the Will as a Watcher. How long, though, can one live watching?

And as the artist tries to cheat himself into a novel view of life, a way of seeing that is like a living amelioration, a never-ending looking-away, there is another death...the death of the self as a desiring being. In the fear of suffering, in the withdrawing and intake of breath, the indecision, that fatal withholding, there a solace...but it is only the merciful anesthesia before the coup de grace, a gift given in misery to a sickened, twisted soul - a soul destined for extinction. How long can one live anesthetized?

Is the deadening of the soul inevitable? In every return to life, in every forced movement where one cranes one's neck back towards the world and opens one's eyes, where one breathes in the poison of this life and seeks some form of pleasure or meaning within time, within the parade of warring selves, there is only another rictus grin to add to one's stock of pain. Another step downwards to that age where sadness is mistaken for sweetness and the soul is only attuned to corruption, frustration, failure, exile, sterility. Happiness is ultimately feared for its potency, and as it carries the key to possible futures that one also fears. There is a collapse of the self, a mistrust, a hateful glance (with so much meaning in one's eyes) at all sources of purity...and they say that the world teaches wisdom, but I wonder how long one can live as one of the wise...

Are the ones who pray for the death of desire truly wise?

U. Amtey
18/11/04 - 23:02 CST, out of sheer cowardice...