Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ecclesiastical Epiphany

"Waiting is like silent action," I overheard today. Indeed. There is a time for everything. A concomitance of hope, intention, awareness, action, luck, and timing can bring marvelous things to fruition. One of my favorite characters in stage theatre was recently effectively played by Frank McCloud, in Titanic. He rushes onstage as the Titanic is leaving, shouting 'wait, wait, I have a ticket!' and then is embittered by his dastardly luck. Oh what chances we mortals take. And when the consequence befalls us we do not necessarily see it as positive at all, unless a consequence be immediately 'good.'

Positive Disintegration would appear to be an oxymoron. Yet for us to move from one state to another, from one set of paradigmatic proclivities to another, we need to be able to let go of our stance, to climb over the fence, to break beyond the arrest of our proverbial box; in fact, to disintegrate. At issue is whether it be positive or not. After all, many a person on the Titanic had possibly taken the trip of a lifetime, away from the usual, and such a dreadful end would hardly seem to have been worth it. It is not a shift in the physical, geographical, the material, nor our ability to move across continents of which I speak when deploying 'positive disintegration', but states of mind. Nay, even more, states of spirit. For disintegration to be positive it has, paradoxically, to become yet more integrative. To accept. To include. To let go of the rigid and the curtailed, the arrogance of judgement and disavowal, and to become yet more and more inclusive is not easy. After all, one may hear, "I hate black nails. Well, nail polish that is. But I don't hate the person wearing it. I just have a hard time with... Well, know what I mean?"

Positive Disintegration allows for a greater apprehension of the whole, an increasing sense of flow within the dictates of structure, stricture, and society, and an inclusion of the fact that everything is as it is, with some evidence of evolution. Good friends of mine are given to disenfranchising evolution. They see no significant growth in our societal structures, at least not en masse. Our general climb from savanna like survivalism through familial bonds, warlord-ships, religiosities, commercialism, egalitarianism and into the realms of complete integration does not inspire their hope. They are convinced that we are doomed. We kill off the planet too quickly for significant change. We breed too quickly for our own sustenance. We are cancer cells, and our sole purpose is to serve our own soul. If we have such a thing. Some of my friends are determined we do not. The soul is just a concept. There is nothing for them but the now. Existentially.

Their 'now' appears not quite The Whole Now. The distinction is like contemplating a forbidden fruit fly, unexpected in the room. As in John Donne's flea, the pesky mote is there because of related incidents; the wine; the banana. Not just by itself. Wine is there because. Fruit is there because. Where ends the connection? And just as every Now is connected to Time, so are all creatures great and small connected, despite clear distinctions of cellular and molecular physicality giving each a form out of the void. Spirit too. Energy! Moments of existence come because.... Alpha and Omega are concepts. Names. Metaphysical conceits (those ideas made grander than reality) arise because.... Words are concepts. Concepts are cultural, linguistic; become established. Life! Death. And disintegrating concepts while allowing for all life simultaneously just to exist is the great paradox of being in The Now. Can we spill over into more? As for the fly? Kill the dastardly mite? Or might we simply wait, since waiting, indeed, is like silent action?


by John Donne

MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
    And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 1-2.
Georges de la Tour.  Woman Catching Fleas. c.1630.
Woman Catching Fleas. c.1630.
Georges de la Tour.
Musée Historique, Nancy

Ecclesiastes 3

New International Version (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

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