Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Runnin' on Love

The little lyric that's been running through my head these last few weeks:

Needs another body:
First the one to live through,
then the one to hold to.

I'm sitting here baffled, again, by life. Wonderstruck, again. I've given myself a goal for the next few years, but the little voices in my blood are keeping me aware of how arbitrary are the hooks upon which goals are hung. Ephemeral hooks, made to seem solid by rhetoric. All that I'm doing in all of this is living my little human life; surviving, eating food, etc.

I think it was Chesterton who said that only one thing makes life's weird and brief days wonderful: love. Ideas too, yes, but these ideas gain their loveliness through community; that is, all mental representation of our animal life hinges upon discourse, and discourse is a kind of love. My students at SBC and I spoke of this yesterday: the passage of mental representation from one head to another. Discourse, communication, speech. Love.

Everybody needs another body. First the one to exist through; to speak through, to move through, to do through. Then another body: one to speak to, mean with, hold to. Love seems to amplify our mind into something more than a survival mechanism, and without this amplification... well, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Less weird. Maybe less luminous. Or, maybe just as luminous, but we'd lack the ability to contemplate the light.

Actually, I think love is just one kind of discourse, and not the one that makes us more philosophical than the woodpeckers or the star-nosed moles. The star-nosed moles participate in the discourse of love. They couple, they feed their children, they nuzzle the earth.

Our love is a different breed. I'm speaking into the void of the internet. Why don't the chimpanzees have internet? Are they wiser without it?

As I stare at this screen, and try to feel my own presence in the little room I'm in, I'm thinking about Wendell Berry's dislike of screens: computer, television. Anything that takes him away from his life, which is his presence. I think.

Do the chimpanzees not feel enlightenment? Epiphany? Do the random, sundry facts of livingness not suddenly cohere into a luminous knowledge of being, for them? And why not?

I wrote a paper, back at Biola, about how speech leads to self awareness. It sounds like a psychology paper, but it wasn't, quite; it didn't know what it was. At any rate, it took into account the fact that animals could communicate. It's primary example was the tail slapping of beavers. But the paper's contention was that beavers didn't dialogue, didn't engage in Platonic dialectic, didn't wax eloquent back and forth during their tail-slappery, and this was why they didn't know themselves.

"And when the soul is buried in a sort of barbaric bog, dialectic gently pulls it out, and leads it upward," says Plato via Socrates, in the Republic. Dialectic: dia- between, legein- to speak. Two bodies, passing words back and forth, passing meaning back and forth. Passing a enlightened look of the world we are being in together, back and forth. The human light, different than chimpanzee light. They have their lights, and we have ours. Ours has produced the internet. For better or worse. The internet, which is caught up in the realm of human being, human meaning, the which I'm currently using to make a bodiless being for myself. A pretentious, overly-wordy bodiless being for myself.

Strange that these words (and the person that they carry) may very well be here after I am gone away. After my presence ceases to happen through this body, and the world through which it moves and means. After death seals my individuality, thereby ending it.

When I die (oh well of lofty emotions!) have someone that I love standing by, to point at my dying self and say: see, he really was his own man. And then to kiss me, to kiss the thing that used to make my being, for what it was, possible.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

In the midst of a serious reflection, "tail-slappery" and "star-nosed moles" bring an appropriate sort of comedy to the proceedings. Like when Chesterton winks at you while you're reading his "serious business."