Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Metakosmia

When things break down, then sometimes we have to remind ourselves that there are things in the first instance. This is a movement of consolation, of turning toward the sombre fact that in this world: things are purported to exist. Assuaged by the very fact of being, even the most perilous state of ruin reaps the reward of matter. When the world falls into emptiness, then only I outlive that emptiness, and I do this by maintaining my position in the world, of occupying the space-world.


Yet things of this world often evade their own being, precluding the very desire to assign a name to their identity. Things break down. And what transpires when they do? The Nothing? The Void? A Calling? Does empty space colonise atoms that are left too long in the lurking shadows? And when I sleep, does the vacuum of being surround me on all sides, only receding into the distance when I’m awoken from a dream that gives me a physical start? My atomic structure recomposes itself, pushes the void further into the darkness, and draws a limit on the boundless horizon of a world, in which the gods are no longer present.


This is the Metakosmia, the space between worlds, the draft unleashed when two things are prised apart. What dwells in this liminal sphere? How does this realm prevent itself from falling apart? The Epicureans thought that access to the Metakosmia was only possible via dreams. There, the immateriality of the spirit realm escaped the paradox of being neither visible nor invisible, neither thing nor no-thing. It is a world, into which dreams assume a level of felt reality, as Tennyson’s poem Lucretius exemplifies:

The Gods, who haunt
The lucid interspace of world and world,
Where never creeps a cloud, or moves a wind,
Nor ever falls the least white star of mow
Nor ever lowest roll of thunder moans,
Nor sound of human sorrow mounts to mar
Their sacred everlasting calm!

Calm is that absence of pain, the space between worlds, the interspace in which being is both denied and affirmed. The “harsh frost” of the winter’s day reveals itself as nothing more than a reverberation of a spirit that dwells far from the limits of this Earth. Far from Earth, and also far from the phenomenon of touch. On the incompatibility of the Earth and the Metakosmia, Lucretius has the following to say: “For the flimsy nature of the gods, far removed from our senses, is scarcely visible even to the perception of the mind. Since it eludes the touch and pressure of our hands, it can have no contact with anything that is tangible to us. For what cannot be touched cannot touch.” (Chapter III, 146 my italics).

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Doubling

My physical body, prepersonal and anonymous, folds into my personal sphere. Doing so, I experience a shudder at the very fact that I have body, with its own organs, most of which are concealed from my visual sight. Yet I feel them. My body is inside of me, its contours, ranges, and vistas visible beneath the surface of skin. My heart beats and I see its rhythm pulse in the upper area of my chest. But my body does not end with the materiality of my own flesh. When I remove my clothes, then a part of my body remains cocooned within the fabric of those clothes, my flesh interwoven with wool and and mohair. When I am walking, I see other people walking, too. These other people have bodies, the inside of which a similar landscape to my own exists. We are bound by our shared organs. Bound together through the human physiology, yet isolated by the very experience of those organs.


“Round about the perceived body a vortex forms, toward which my world is drawn and, so to speak, sucked in” (Merleau-Ponty). At the heart of the vortex is the doubling of the body. I am not transparency. Rather, something takes place inside of me, such that I am alive. But this force-world is not me, as such: it is the “alien life” that inhabits the kernel of my being, diffusing a mysterious fog around the very facticity of existence. And how should I respond to this alien fog? After all, its presence is not coincidental with my visual experience of things. When asleep, my body remains animated even though my visual sight is diminished. Does my body "watch over me"? In this mode, things take over; the personal body draws into the background. Am I automated by this “alien life”? Am I the counterpart to my own double, of whom I only catch sight of in passing?

Abjection

“It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated” (Kristeva). Does the notion of abjection preclude experience? If not, then what is the aligning affect: fear, repulsion, horror? But don’t all these modes of embodiment and affect fall back into the abject? The more pressing question is: if we follow Kristeva in defining abjection as that which is “neither subject nor object,” then how do we gain a foothold in attempting to describe it? Yet, the nameless horror that the abject speaks of lacks a “definable object.” Experientially unsound, the abject contests the very being of phenomenology’s mode of intentional analysis. All that remains is an opposition to the “I,” as Kristeva says: “A ‘something’ that I do not recognise as a thing.”What remains after the “I” has been annihilated is the corpus of the body, the mute and nameless body. Nameless, but also visible.


There is a humming in my body: is that my body speaking to me? Am I of my body, or is my body of me? There is a sight of my body in the mirror: but a distance between my movement and that of the reflection. When I move, I lose sight of myself, and my reflection recedes into the distance. Merleau-Ponty would have us believe our movements “dovetail” into one another, but the movement also exposes itself to a lacuna, a black horizon. My movements are swallowed by my body. When I lie on my bed at night, my body still moves, and although I am flat on my back, I feel myself topple into the ground beneath.

Thursday, 5 November 2009