Thursday, January 21, 2010

Purity and the Practice of Death

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Keep returning to Plato. Allegory of the Cave. Reinterpreted idosyncratically. The Chains beside the Fire. The Shadow World. The Black Houses on the Eastside. Chained to a glass tube. And the Fire. Dreams opening inside of the Smoke. And time like a tolling bell in the distance. There was a Monastery in the Desert... distant bell ringing... throw another rock in the fire... breathe in smoke, wait, wait, wait and the bell ringing becomes a single tone extending infinitely in all directions... a sphere of timelessness... not eternal... just a moment paused... free of all desire... then, the tone wavers, echoes and falls off... the silence of the Desert... Time wraps around you, fills you and overflows you... the Fire of Unattainable Desire burning white hot now... in the distance, a bell tolling.
At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply?
- Republic, Book VII
The Jungian Imago is born out of Platonic Forms. Within the Dantean Cave that is my self, I catch a glimpse of the Other, the Imago. Here is the core of my arete. The idealized image of self. A Form that transcends name and face, this particular form of flesh. This Imago is the skeleton that steps out of this body at death. Clothes itself with flesh at birth. The Skeleton of my Self abides.

The truth rather is that the soul which is pure at departing draws after her no bodily taint, having never voluntarily had connection with the body, which she is ever avoiding, herself gathered into herself (for such abstraction has been the study of her life). And what does this mean but that she has been a true disciple of philosophy and has practised how to die easily? And is not philosophy the practice of death?

That soul, I say, herself invisible, departs to the invisible world to the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she lives in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears and wild passions and all other human ills, and forever dwells, as they say of the initiated, in company with the gods. Is not this true, Cebes?

Yes, said Cebes, beyond a doubt.
But the soul which has been polluted, and is impure at the time of her departure, and is the companion and servant of the body always, and is in love with and fascinated by the body and by the desires and pleasures of the body, until she is led to believe that the truth only exists in a bodily form, which a man may touch and see and taste and use for the purposes of his lusts-the soul, I mean, accustomed to hate and fear and avoid the intellectual principle, which to the bodily eye is dark and invisible, and can be attained only by philosophy-do you suppose that such a soul as this will depart pure and unalloyed?
- Phaedo
The imperative is Purity. After Purity, Simplicity. After Simplicity, Grace. To embrace the Imago, the Skeletal Self, the way leads down the Path of Purity. Stepping away from the Fire, from the Rock, from the Smoke, awakening from the Dreams of the Pipe was merely the beginning. Again. Circling around this Spiral Path. Again. The Slut of Time playing her tricks.

Friend of mine sent me a booklet once, Caigamos Abajo. It is an allegory of sorts. About Desire and Time. This is the Slut of Time:

He imagines this timeless sphere of ecstasy. A fragile shimmering bubble. But endless in duration. Outside of time. It  cannot be called an instant or a moment. But it is lodged within the memory – to such an extent that even the remembering of it dissolves the edges of time. But this memory corrupts. Every time-bound moment is polluted with the possibility of not-being-enough. A little more, a little less, not quite it, too much. Waiting for the next instant to unfold into the timeless possibilities of the eternal present. She is time. And she binds him down with desire. Seduces him to believe that it will all be there again in the next moment. He happily sacrifices his most sacred memories on an altar of the future. For her.

Here is the Big Lie. The Lie of the Mind. Here is the etiology of my Fall. The Great Secret of my Addiction. I know that as I attain greater Purity, these lightly coded allegories will become sharper and more vivid. The Skeleton is dancing in the Sun. Shadows of Bone and Skull flicker through the dim light of my world. The film is slowing. And I can finally start to discern the shapes of the frames, what lies between each instance of this projected illusion once again.