The Casa Dentata

casa dentataThere was once a village where no one ever fought.
Conflict was outlawed.

When angry the villagers counted to 10,
or 20,
or 30,
or as long as it took,
for their anger to pass.

In this silent village
the silent children roamed
with sticks and stones,
switch, switch,
swack, swack,
annhilating every living thing in their paths.

At the top of the hill
overlooking the town
was the Casa Dentata:
a castle in the shape of a molar,
the courtyard of which was a huge cavity,
an open pit mine,
drilling out enamel to supply
the silent town
whose teeth were all ground down.

Tragedy & Meaning

Tragedy is unavoidable.  It’s woven deep into the fabric of Life itself.

Catastrophic loss, intense pain, inconsolable grieving, wounds that will probably never really heal up… these are all right in the very heart of Life and drag us down much deeper into it’s deep and inexorable, remorseless, vibration.  When we try and find meaning in the worst of our experiences, we seem to be digging to discover, reveal, or create an interpretation of a really really bad situation in which there is a good ending.  It is a relentless and essentially heroic drive to derive something useful and helpful – a narrative which could enable us to face up to, and grow into, life even more deeply – from a situation which obviously seems to be robbing life away from us.

Tragedy is the raw rip between human attachments, and desires, and dreams and hopes, and Life’s relentless and remorseless flow.

Love, which requires both attachment and desire, also holds to Life. Love’s a taut singing string between the fallibility and temporality of our very human and personal wishes and hopes, and the basically merciless and opportunistic primordial evolving energy of Life itself, with its hungry and voracious appetite which will consume whatever it can, paying no heed to our ephemeral, all too human, needs and concerns.

Life goes on.

Love is the perennial impulse to render the worst that Life can afflict into a narrative on which we ourselves can feed, and so go on, and live on.

Those who are dragged down into the impetuous and incontestable current of really intense suffering, and who are rended by it, are wound more intimately into life, and become, in a myriad of separate ways, life’s renderers.

 

Close Haul

It’s unwise to underestimate the discomfort, antipathy, and even hatred, that can be engendered by openly expressing oneself honestly, sincerely, and with as much compassion and intelligence as one can muster.
Some folks won’t like it.
Won’t like it at all.
It’s worth reckoning this antipathy into one’s navigational intentions, like factoring in a strong wind blowing away from one’s destination.
It’s worth designing one’s vessel, and crafting the rigging, for a very long close haul.

‘Relief’ and ‘Release’

‘Relief’ and ‘Release’ are two different realities altogether.
‘Relief’ is the quelling of tension, its dissipation.
‘Release’ is sending tension somewhere, and possesses the potential of directing it.
Ie., releasing an arrow.
Which reminds me of a poem I wrote a very while back, ‘enantiodromia‘.
“In tension, creation,
In tension, creation…”

Enantiodromia

enantiodromia

climbing without ascent
running without advance
were you thinnking about dying?
or are you dying to be reborn?

Between the straight line of evolution
and the circle of revolution,
in a held tension,
is a gyre.
In tension, creation,
In tension creation,
In tension, creation.
Snake advances by vacillation along the ground,
gyrfalcon’s wings beating up and down.
In the greatest tension, the greatest creation,
and the greatest creation is the gravest danger,
and destruction is tension held taut beyond limitation.
Taut ’till broke,
bent ’till rent,
the acrobatic art
splits apart,
and the acrobat
falls.
The fearsome fire white hot burning up,
white knuckled clenched fist gripped tight,
the teeth that grind in the night.
The parched string screaming taut,
bow pulled,
quivering,
arched,
shivering back,
bent to point of rent,
releases
the piercing pointed
arrow of light,
seams bursting,
splitting
apart.
FLAME OF CHANGE
WELDERS FLAME
FLAMES TO BURN THE PAST AWAY

Enantiodromia through the wall that is the inside of an egg.
Primal instinct in integration with x-ray vision.
A bow of hope pulled to the tightest taut,
bent to the quivering razor edge of rent,
knocked with an arrow that was blackest coal
but through fear’s anguished energy
was crushed, fused and crystallised
into a piercing pointed diamond
of sharpest compassion.

I recorded this poem over a raucus jam session in 1998.
It can be found here.

A Theo-Poetic Essay on Consciousness and Addiction

The essay below was the sub-text (literally, the essay ran beneath the lyrics as a kind of philosophical discourse on their origins) to the liner notes to an ‘indie-rock’ album called ‘NOD’ that I wrote and produced (but never released) in 1996.

 

————————————

 

Before the beginning
there is
no womb nor tomb
nor life nor way
no thing nor nothing
neither dual nor One
nor heaven nor earth
nor moon nor sun
Before the beginning.

———————-

Buried in the earth
the potential packed shell
the seed
awakens.
Enwrapped within,
confined walled in,
its expanding begins to crack and heave.
Kept and restricted,
trapped and constricted,
stretching and pushing,
shoving cleaving
wrenching groaning,
the racked need of the stored seed
at last bursts
blasts forth
potential freed
into kinetic force
into form.

———————

Form being the perpetual kindling of creation,
the language of creation manifested to sensation.
The mortal shell of immortal possibility.
The positions between which arises tension.

The form that is consciousness is the ultimate manipulator of forms.
The pattern that is consciousness is the ultimate manipulator of patterns.
Consciousness is the particularly human strategy of survival, the eco-niche of humanity.
It’s the mediator of the human immune system with its environment.
It’s the locus of personal identity.

 

Crothers Bridge - Lower Don River

 

The etymological roots of consciousness are from the French conscience (con + science) which traces back to the Latin con, meaning ‘with’, and scire, ‘to know’. The roots of scire are related to the idea of ‘cutting through’, of ‘distinguishing and separating’, and of ‘deciding’. Scire may have originated from the Sanskrit chyati, ‘he cuts’, and the Iranian scian, ‘a knife’.
The process of transformation and development described by Creation myths the world over (Brihadarinyaka Upanisad, Enuma Elish, Genesis, etc.), traced by psychoanalysts and child psychologists and termed “individuation” (Freud, Jung, Piaget, Kohlberg, etc.) and followed by the birth and rise of civilizations and technology (Toynbee, Sorokin, McLuhan, etc.) are parallel descriptions of the birth and intensification of consciousness. In every case there is a sense of primordial unity which is subsequently split or separated. Adam and Eve “decide” to eat from the tree of knowledge and are immediately barred, separated from the unity of Paradise (Paradise: Iranian para, around, and daeza, wall [Mary Daly: “Gyn-Ecology”]). Piaget argues that in the infant there is “no definite differentiation between the self and the external world” (Piaget, “Six Psychological Studies”) while Freud, Jung and Kohlberg describe an increasing level of “individuation” (individuation, in the most general way, is understood to be the development of the ego and personality. The delineation of a sense of self and identity, a coherent and integrated pattern and a way of life) and “autonomy” as the sine qua non of healthy ego development. Toynbee and McLuhan refer to the collapse of the unity of tribal societies as they move into the fragmented, specialist, analytical modes of civilized societies.

This journey from “innocence” into “experience” has been crucial for the survival of the human species in that humans, more than other organisms, are dependent on the separation, abstraction, of the psyche from the “here and now” as a means of developing strategies, techniques and tools for survival. However, in a seemingly insurmountable exponentially intensifying feedback loop these strategies, tools and techniques are increasingly developed to adapt to human constructions and extensions – culture and technology – and to the real or imagined threats of other conscious persons, nation-states or organizations. Thus consciousness – individuation, autonomy, fragmentation and analysis – spins, gyrates in an ever increasing build-up, identical to an arms race. Consciousness is, after all, a “winner.” The greater the consciousness, the greater to degree of power to manipulate, the greater the degree of security and control.

This degree of security and control is, naturally, bought at a certain price. This price is an equally exponentially increasing feeling of separation, alienation and isolation from that “primal unity” which can now be called “Being.” In fact, at a certain point, consciousness comes to definitively dread “Being” because it has become so foreign, and because experiencing it requires the relaxation of all the skills that consciousness has so arduously acquired. As the 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “For the more helpless and destitute the mind that turns to God for support can be, the deeper the person penetrates God and the more sensitive he is to God’s most valuable gifts.” (Eckhart, Talks of Instruction.)* The last thing that consciousness is or wishes to be is “helpless.”

It can be understood, then, that consciousness is in conflict with Being. The development and evolution of consciousness is precisely “original sin;” “the fall” and the guilt associated with it is precisely the separation from, and dread of, Being. As Chuang Tzu, one of the very earliest Taoists, wrote:

The knowledge of the ancients was perfect. How
perfect? At first they did not know that there were
things. This is the most perfect knowledge, nothing
can be added. Next they knew that there were
things, but they did not yet make distinctions
between them. Next they made distinctions between
them, but they did not yet pass judgments upon them.
When judgments were passed, Tao was destroyed.

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The fall outs of the fall are manifold, as are the attributes of consciousness – individuation, a nostalgia for order and symmetry, the differentiation between good and evil, increasing strategic competence, abstraction, time consciousness (narratization, teleology), consciousness of choice, ‘duality,’ the power to deceive and the potential for delusion, guilt and dread, alienation and addiction – which emerge simultaneously, which mutually arise. Much of this list of attributes can be underpinned by the desire for security and control which, increasing beyond a certain level, becomes a psychosis. This psychosis is directly associated with that which absolutely limits all security and control, death. Extreme consciousness has a neurotic fear of death. Death is the absolute reminder of mortality and, as Buddhist philosophy has been reminding us for a very long time, it’s the delusory desire of the ego for its own immortality which is the source of ignorance and therefore suffering.

Which brings us to “apocalypse.” Apocalypse comes from the Greek apo, ‘away from’, and kaluptein, ‘to cover’, ‘to reveal’. ‘uncovering’ carries the implication of something hidden, that which is to be ‘uncovered’. It is the nature of people who are conscious to ‘cover’ certain aspects of themselves. This ‘covering’ may be conscious – a secret or conspiracy that one doesn’t wish to be revealed – or unconscious – a complete denial of a certain aspect of the self which is too uncomfortable to admit to. A true conspiracy, like an effective ideology, is unconscious because it has become encoded into a person or culture’s description of itself. It has been sublimated into a person or culture’s identity. As identity, it is assumed, presupposed, pre-reflective. As such, it can’t be “seen” without a transformation of identity, a “metanoia,” a conversion.
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‘Revelation’ comes from the Latin reuelare, and reuelatio, words associated with the pulling back of a curtain or veil, and the disclosure of that which was previously hidden or unknown. Addiction is all about making and living in patterns and circles of evasion and denial and so, the fact is, the last thing the addict wants is revelation. We don’t want our evasive patterns to be shown up. We’ve built our identities, cultural and personal, with them. We cling to them and we don’t want to leave them. Revelation, apocalypse, then, is a challenge to our identity.

Where there is a strong resistance to disclosure, where there is addiction, that is, where there are conspiracies and denials and personal and cultural identities founded on those conspiracies and denials, “revelation” is naturally perceived of as cataclysmic. It’s not that “apocalypse” is in itself cataclysmic. It’s the encounter of a force of energy which is in essence revelatory with that which resists revelation that is cataclysmic. If there is no resistance to revelation – if there is no addiction, conspiracy, ideology, or denial – there is no cataclysm associated with apocalypse.

Love, real love, is essentially apocalyptic in nature. Resistance to revelation, then, can be comprehended as resistance to love. Apocalypse is the character of love when it eventually breaks through the resistance and denial. That is, we experience love as apocalyptic, as violent and cataclysmic, because it is overthrowing an order that we value and cling to. It exposes our weakness and our brokenness, it reveals our vulnerability, it deeply humbles us, and so we associate it with death.

________________________________________

Denial and love can’t cohabitate. Love incessantly seeks to compassionately reveal truth, denial despises such revelation and hence despises love. If a society is living in a state of denial then it inevitably seeks to ensure that love has no possibility of setting up its tent anywhere in the vicinity. If love endures and demonstrates the tenacity to persevere in being heard and felt it will be dealt with in a variety of more or less subtle ways; from being ignored, to being ridiculed, to banishment, to outright murder.

This situation has been repeated so frequently throughout history that, were it not genuinely tragic, it would be monotonous, This conflict, of love and denial, can in fact be understood to be a central dynamism in the progress of human civilization and consciousness. It can also be understood to be a central dynamism in the development of personal consciousness.

The great paradox of extreme consciousness is that its desire for security and control, and its fear of death, involves it in a kind of panic-stricken blind flight which leads it straight to disaster and death. Its flight from death leads to death. Fortunately love is something more sublime and powerful than death. Perhaps this is why we seem to fear love even more than we fear death.

Love struggles on.

No denying

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Nik Beeson – 1996