By Brian George
5Does the very lack of consciousness in one place make possible its existence in another? A subject evolves by transforming other subjects into objects—reversing and yet extending the pattern long ago set forth.
In Kabbalah, cosmogenesis occurs through the act of “Zim Zum”—or primordial contraction.
Omnipotence withdraws itself to create an opening for the unexpected. Playing dead, the light of Ain Soph Aur rolls over. Presence becomes absence. Absence gives birth to an indeterminate presence. Free consciousness populates the other side of space.
6If nature were a grand unified conspiracy of meaning—an order absolute in its perfection, to which all intelligent men felt obligated to pay tribute—it is possible that certain subjects might experience this consensus as a prison.
Each species would have one (and only one) function to perform. A bar code would be stamped on every ego. Intuition would result in death. Fascistic beauty would be indistinguishable from the ugly. Love would be frozen by the great eye of revolving video surveillance.
Perhaps the very lack of a fixed meaning is what allows us to create an individual relationship to meaning.
Destroy the objective world self; it is a bad hologram projected by pornographers. Kill the Buddha if you meet him on the road. Prove nothing. Do not explain. Meaning begins with and refers back to the experience of meaning.
7“How does Music Mean?” is the title of a book by Aaron Copeland, son of immigrants from Lithuania, by way of Russia, who wrote soundtracks for the Wild West, after several years of more radical experiment in France. The New York garment industry was not a friend to Schoenberg.
As an avant-garde high school student I was happy to discover this book. It was important to have a set of instructions. Common sense could resolve the conflict between subjective and objective meanings. As it turned out, I had underestimated the strength of the monster of objective detachment.
8When I was 17 I had a horrifying experience of the power of the observing eye— the eye of the Gorgon—of its propensity to divide, of its desire to declare war on the living. I had just finished reading Sartre's book on Baudelaire, in which Sartre said that Baudelaire found a void where the self should be. Looking down he saw no person—only nothing. Perhaps this was true of me as well.
I looked and looked. Over the next few days I observed that an alchemical transformation was taking place inside of me. The process was a perverted one—leading to a kind of breach birth, as through the helixes of my DNA had been unzipped. My self split in two. One part hovered in the air about a foot above the other.
Looking down I saw no person, only nothing. My body was a corpse, a movable feast to which no guests could be invited. There was no self for the other to see. My consciousness could not be proven to exist. There was an emotion—“horror vacui”—but no one to experience it.
By day, the hands of every clock seemed frozen. The Earth continued in its catatonic orbit. The sun set—or so the shadow of the once existent would inform me. Food was a deactivated magnet. Sex did not point north. I could not sleep. The Dioscuri sat staring into space. One self had already disappeared. In a few days the remnants of the other self would follow.
(Illustration: Phillip Guston)