Monday, September 7, 2009

Dear Shadow Alive and Well, How can the Body Die?


How can the body die?

But I have never felt any comfort in the idea of eternity. Perhaps this is a reflection of the melancholic personality, the personality that experiences life as the experience predominantly of suffering.

I cannot imagine the soul. I cannot sense that there might be a quality of me that is essential. I feel myself to be too mutable for the concept of the soul with its essentiality. And it seems to me that physical pain is too close to mental anguish for the notion of a pure, unsuffering "core" to be credible.

I cannot, like Fleet Foxes, the author of these lyrics, find my own mortality strange:

Through the forest
Down to your grave
Where the birds wait
And the tall grasses wave
They do not
know you anymore

Dear shadow alive and well
How can the body die
You tell me everything
Anything true

In the town one morning I went
Staggering through premonitions of my death


Indeed, the thought of eternal death comes as a relief even if, paradoxically, I doubt my ability to experience it. And I confess that I have thought also of the deaths of others with a definate relief at times.

Sometimes I think about what will happen to the things I own after my death. My body happily burnt, my ashes dispersed, no-where too undignified I hope.

I see men in overalls, taking the paintings I've painted down to a skip and flinging them in recklessly: they've served their function as repository for my ego needs and as an aesthetic passtime. The books go to dealers; the are clothes burnt.

The clothes burnt, I hope, for the thought of another man in my coat or shoes is appalling to me. I think of that and imagine a sort of identity theft taking place, my userper's skin close where mine was, adopting my mannerisms, my motions, going where I used to go, consuming what I consumed, watching the same films, laughing at the same jokes- like the oft-despised presence of an unwanted younger brother, copying me: a doppelganger.

The clothes bear witness to my life, they went where I did. They show stains or wear marks which correspond to how I live. what I eat and how my body moves. Please burn them so my presence can't be stolen and I am truly no more.

I used to have these fantasies of invisibility, I no longer do, but perhaps those fantasies compressed and trasnmogrified into my dominant social modus operandi, manifesting themselves as a sort of non-presence, like a tipex-ed blank on a typed page, so I am aware of myself as hiding - withdrawn or masked - among others.

I'll finish by saying that I always felt myself exposed in the UK, but here in Brazil I feel myself invisible, because I can hide behind a series of popular assumptions about Britishness, a quality that any true Britons knows to be so amorphous as to be no guide to personality at all.

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