Intensities: a quiet epiphany
to the sea
I feel as though I am on the edge of vertigo – thoughts, ideas, bits of conversation whirling around me, yet at the same time, it’s quiet. I’m at work, occupied for the most part with the intricacies of banner ad design, troubleshooting an online application, proof-checking an email campaign. All activities which require attention to detail, a tight focus. Yet at the same time, there’s this sense of a turbulent undercurrent, something bubbling and frothing away, which, in moments between the round of tasks, or when I walk over to the water cooler, or move between the office floors, surges into the forefront of my attentive field. It’s tantalising, promising, drawing me onwards.
Where did this come from? I’d spent much of my thought-time this week, reading for various blog posts in progress: extinction theory, TH Huxley, Helmholtz, Bulwer-Lytton. Interesting, but not too provoking. Thursday morning, I woke just before six am (my habitual wake-up time), or so I thought, and ideas, lines of conjecture, anticipations of future conversations seemed to whirl around me. After about half an hour of this, I moved into wake-mode, and got up, only to find it was 3.30am. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep again, so went to the study, read a bit, and caught up with the Bulwer-Lytton research. Work-space thursday was mostly devoted to remembering how to do frame-based animation in Photoshop, and for no obvious reason, re-reading Gayatri Reddy’s fieldwork with Hijras, conscious I “should” really be getting back onto Helmholtz if I’m to keep to my self-imposed posting schedule. Perhaps I needed the rest. Thursday night, I went to Treadwells for Alex Unku’s Demons of the Flesh: philosophy of occult body modification – which hooked me sideways into Delueze-Guattari territory. But its more than that. Treadwells is an important place for me, a nexus or nodal point where I can find debate, shared moments of warmth and care, argument, new ideas – and occasionally come away with a book or two. I rembember snatches of conversation with Alex, Christina, Zach, Patricia McCormack – all of which must have contributed to this current mood. And I did buy a book too – Phillip Zarrilli’s when the body becomes all eyes (an in-depth study of Kalarippattu – a traditional Indian martial art) of which I devoured the first chapter on the tube. At home, Maria & I shared the highlights (and low spots) of our seperate days before hitting the sack. I grabbed Anne Weinstone’s Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Posthumanism from a bookshelf and sucked down the first few chapters. Its not usually the kind of thing I read before going to sleep (Wednesday night, for example, was Tales from Moomin Valley). But Weinstone’s concern for articulating an inclusive, ethical posthumanism this came alive to me – or so it seemed – in a way I hadn’t appreciated before. For me, its a book which is both enticing and difficult – I’m more at home with her tantric mode than her evocations of posthumanist precepts. But her ability to skip between Abhinavagupta and Deleuze in the same paragraph caught my eye when I first picked up Avatar Bodies a few years ago.
With my head on the pillow, I felt myself to be floating, almost weightless, infused with both exhaustion and excitement, and gradually faded into sleep. I recall dreams, but not their shape or content. I awoke again at 4.30am, and seemed to shift seamlessly from sitting watching the sky grow lighter to meditating on the crystalline, glimmering form of Lalita. I remember thinking that everything I have done, everything I have become, is a footnote to that ritual in 1985, an invocation of Eris performed with my then mentor-lover-collaborator, during which I briefly, in a moment that remains somehow endless, felt myself to be enmeshed in a world of dazzling, shimmering, breathtaking complexity – that this complexity, this multiplicity is the ground of being. And with that thought rippling in the background, feeling the faint echo of that moment from over twenty years ago, I did the washing up, kissed Maria goodbye and headed off for work.
Something has shifted. Lalita has favoured me with another of her sidelong glances. No shape, no outcome, no goal as yet, but the sense of gathering momentum, sliding once more below the surface.
Friday 13th May, London.