Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Haunting Of The Self - Friday Flash

"Hell is other people" opined Jean-Paul Sartre. Hell on earth maybe. But in the afterlife, can we even call it that, can I call it that...? There is certainly no other company to pin the blame on. The posthumous life is an isolated one.

Can you live with yourself? For eternity I mean? And it's not even that hoary old notion of an endless replaying and mulling over your recently departed life, what you did right, what you did wrong. I do reference the odd event from my former existence here and there, but only in parentheses. Mere flotsam in the remorseless torrent of thought that afflicts me in my current disposition. Certainly nothing to gain a firm hand hold on to anchor one upon sure-footedness. For here, wherever here is - concepts of fluffy clouds or burning hellfires have both proved fancifully baseless - though my exact configuration is no less nebulous - the mind is never switched off.

For there is no sleep. No room for idle daydreaming. Never a pause to eat, or relieve oneself. Except of mental effluence. Though actually there is no relief even to be had there. The spate streams on. Mindlessly one might even say. Though the thought is coherent. Self-reflectively so. On the niggling status of the thinking being. For it is uncoupled from any corporeality. Therefore it-I, lack any spatial dimensions. And we have already established that there is no temporal one either. For only with the body's mechanical, clockwork needs does time have a rhythm against which to regulate them.

It's odd. Now that I'm stripped of a physical vessel with all its cacophonous feedback chatter, so that the mind is free to cogitate unimpeded, it is not the purpose of my past life that it contemplates, but its current uncertain status. Without a sensory apparatus, it- I can gain no new information, so can only draw on what has gone before, which I have seemingly relegated to background trivia, or else the purely abstract. How approaching death we once raged at the great cosmic joke played on our species, of the life spent building relationships, lives, loves and the whole of material reality, only to have it snatched away by the most final of cessations. When in fact we appear now to have been looking at it the wrong way around. Condemned to some sort of existence here, where nothing ever terminates. Would that it did. To obtain a rest from this incessant onslaught of rumination. Maybe the Buddhists on earth had it right, with their meditation seasoning them for this. Granting them the ability to impregnate pauses and garner silences. The stilling of the spirit. Mind you, no sign of their other belief in reincarnation. Of heading back into the corporeal fray wrapped in a new skin.

So the body is shucked, but the psyche still seems to persist. Even more obsessively if that's even possible. So one begins to sift as to what mind is- was. It used to be charged with steering the body through the vicissitudes of life and promoting the common weal. Knitting together perceptions, memories and feelings into a relatively unified and consistent core identity. Presently it seems involved in a perpetual inquiry as to its own nature, with reference and comparison to what it was when cased in flesh. The mind interrogating itself.

Back down there- not that directionality has any meaning anymore, the mind was the collective set of impressions and interpretations yielded by the senses, filtered through emotions and all sorts of brain chemistry. Yet here, presumably I lack for the physical brain, the electrical synaptic pulses, the chemical baths. So where is this "I" housed? What is enabling it to persist beyond physical form? Am I haunting myself? The location I refuse to rescind is not a place on earth, but my own ego. Despite the battering it has taken through expiration and disseverance.

And that's what it-I do. In a never ending loop. A Moebius Strip of reflexivity. Turning itself over and over, inside out, yet never being able to penetrate itself. If life was mockingly fleeting back on earth, what of it now? Locked into trying to see what any of it is all for, such singular purpose seemingly being only the continuous and flawed search itself. Hell isn't other people. It's the stripped down, bare self. The agony of partial being. It is the realisation that one has only ever been an abstraction, unable to present itself into full awareness of what it actually is, or what it represents.

Can you live with yourself?

12 comments:

Sonia Lal said...

I think it would drive me crazy. :)

Helen said...

Oh consumed by one's thoughts, what a living hell!

Steve Green said...

Wow, this certainly makes one think.

An extremely good piece of writing.

Tony Noland said...

So long as I could keep making up limericks to amuse and distract myself, I think I might be OK.

Deeply interwoven writing.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Oh my - how hellish is this, being condemned to live with your own thoughts forever? Very thought provoking as ever.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Maybe it needs to invent a new world and a new life to inhabit. Or do what Tony suggested and make up limericks.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I hate living with mine now so an eternity of it would drive me doolally.

John Wiswell said...

No, I don't think I could live with myself for all eternity - but I have it on good authority that that's not what I'm going to do.

Michael Tate said...

I, as a Buddhist myself, found the comment about the monks preparing themselves for this very interesting. Basically Nirvana is what you described: a place with only thought.

So I personally was kinda like, "Yea, that's awesome! An eternity to think!"

brainhaze said...

Wow this is great! Often consumed by my own thoughts, but to this extent is intriguing; scary; and even slightly heroic. Nice work

Jack Holt said...

I think I could, yes. But "Never a pause to...relieve oneself." - not sure!

Steve Green said...

Hi again Marc, if you would like to pop over to my blog I have something for you. :)