Friday, May 27, 2005

together and apart

I'm so close to you that I'm far apart,

So completely merged that I'm separate,

So vastly exposed that I'm concealed,

So whole and sound that I'll never be healed.

#1121: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

This day began with the word dismemberment, so I searched under similar or related words: cut, slice, knife, sword, apart until the last word gave me a verse that talks of my other preoccupation, closeness and distance.

The first preoccupation with dismemberment arises from my casual borrowing of a book from the library: Georges Bataille's The Tears of Eros. I was flicking through the pictures while waiting at the railway station and came across the horrific photos of a woman being dismembered alive, breasts first then hands, feet, outer limbs, etc. At what point, I wondered, does she die? How long does it take? I was appalled and yet spellbound. I couldn't escape the horror of these grisly photos. I realised, when I woke this morning, that this was a classic Dionysian dismemberment. Placing it in a tradition, giving it a word, comforted me.

Because I was distressed by these photos, I wanted to talk about them but I didn't want to share them with others, I didn't want to distress them too. So I remained silent. Perhaps as substitute I wanted to know what Rumi thought about such things but I know his verses rarely speak of cutting things or violence. I knew the apart would refer to lovers' separation rather than dismemberment. I also worried that Rumi was too distant a companion, a mere figment of my imagination. When I discourse with Rumi, surely I discourse with a ghostly lover. This seems to be the very theme he takes up in this verse. As a whole it seems to echo the Chinese yin-yang theme that anything taken to extreme falls into its opposite.

This seems to have been what Georges Bataille was about. He pursued evil, filth, degradation, horror, apparently with a view to reaching the sacred. Satan pursued becomes God just as God pursued becomes Satan. The "other" can hold either of these opposites and they are also right at the centre of "I".

The last line is the most difficult for me. I long to be healed, once and for all, of my silly minor physical ailments. They irritate me. I know Jung was trying to make a distinction between wholeness and perfection. He prided himself on leaving his patients whole but essentially unhealed, still a little mad. "Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you." The only true condition of a human being is a sanity mixed with madness, a wholeness mixed with disease, discomfort and pain.

All very sobering on this chilly late autumn morning.


Post a Comment

<< Home