“ ‘And I have to leave for Europe and I have lots of things to attend to.’ This last point was the main one. The worst of this situation was that it interfered with my anxious preoccupations, with my complicated subjectivity. It was my inner civil war versus the open life which is elementary, easy for everyone to read, and characteristic of this place, Chicago, Illinois.” – Humboldt’s Gift, p. 280
Sure, but also Lucerne, Lucerne, cher Monsieur Citrine.
Where were we? By the way, yes, my immortal soul. And perhaps yours too.
The thing is this, plain & simple: you can’t have your soul and eat it. What could this mean beyond its cryptic grandiloquence? That you must not cannibalize that part of you which at least aspires to the transcendent in return for the lowly benefit of material amassment. It is folly. Naturally one will eat in the more convivial, corporal sense but to do so at the expense of that which will transverse the wide, deep oceans of eternity is not the sort of trade-off a spirit-smart person will make a gamble on. In case this needs more spelling out: the atman stands way above the adman, not to mention the madman; [whose soul can probably be found as the shriveled, ugly worm at the bottom of the tequila he gulps down for indigestive post-siesta inspiration, groping for droll taglines for the latest consumer convenience. Convenience, conschmenience, a thousand household-apparati, a million domestic appliances, a googol apps pave the road to perdition.]
“The only real distinction at this dangerous moment in human history and cosmic development has nothing to do with medals and ribbons. Not to fall asleep is distinguished. Everything else is mere popcorn.” – Humboldt’s Gift, p.283
The soul is a keeper, one keeps it, only at last it kipps out. “You may have my flesh, blood, bones but my soul? Fugghedaboutit!” And plus also, word to the wise, a soul is nobody’s to trade to begin with. It’s there, doing its earthly bits on the low, quaking awake in those moments we call inspiration and otherwise shooting the breeze, waiting to wind its way back to where-psychopomps-may-know. Seriously, I don’t think it, this soul of ours, can get overly attached to all the living we are doing: plopping down into the brilliance, sucking, playing with kaka, learning the weird scribbles, stick-fighting our elementary school buddies, suddenly waking up with sticky stomach/croch, silently nodding your head when the guy asks if it was good for you too though…, having enough moolah to buy that first public transport pass, wondering how on earth the damn ring won’t fit, awkwardly covering up your eyes when he at long last says that first, coherent, indisputably meaningful word, cursing the first gray one silently, bitching about your lower back a lot more, reminiscing about some random summer day in high-school while a somber voice accompanies your doctor’s jabbing at different dark masses on the x-ray, trying with all your strength to still say one, just simply one last thing (“I love you XYZ”) as all energies pour out of you, failing, etc. How could the soul be bothered with this? As a learning experience?
“Yes, the strangeness of life on this earth is very oppressive.” – Humboldt’s Gift, p. 349
At least in my view if it is, if it exists it has to be a supremely metaphysical entity, not god-like but aspiring to all the things we cannot have here in our lazy, stunned, vulnerable human shape. No, yes, maybe-baby, I think the soul takes a curious, passing fancy in the whirling vicissitudes of the human drama: conflict, emotions, cruelty, redemption, grace, revenge, that type of thing. And, especially, those briefest flickers when it does seem after all, who-would-believe-it, like we manage to crawl an inch beyond our wretched pilose pelts, an epidermis to whom quite a bevy of folks attach an incredible amount of significance so much so that they go ahead[less] and grade it by complexion. Well, good luck in oblivion to the peewee petty punks of coloration when you’re dealing with, not bodies without organs but souls without bodies, bigotry amidst the ineffable is a bloody, no a bloodless mess! But let me not get dragged down by these worldly quarrels.
“And now that I was beginning to think of every earthly life as one of a series, I puzzled over Ulick’s spiritual career. What had he been before? Biological evolution and Western History could never create a person like Ulick in sixty-five lousy years. He had brought his deeper qualities here with him. Whatever his earlier form. I was inclined to believe that in this life, as a rich rough American he had lost some ground. America was a harsh trial to the human spirit.” – Humboldt’s Gift, p.383
The soul! Alas, the one and only thing that might give us a reasonable handle on mortality. But whence does it hail from? If I have to make a stand for it [dint of living], then I be darned if I subscribe to the body-hopping hypothesis of rebirth. See supra. Thanks, but no pranks. Mathematical impossibilities aside, where does it leave our individuality? And what of the cozy consciousness? I can’t seem to remember, try as I might have, anything that has gone before: not toiling great, chiseled boulders up a triangular, sand-blown superstructure, nor running through the cold tundra, loin cloth ashit, trying to escape the saber-toothed beast chasing after me. Much less some lazy, lolling eons spent drifting through a mucky, salty, undifferentiated sea of fellow unicellular sluggards, trying to survive, trying to fucking evolve, for fock’s sake. None of this is remembered, ergo there must have A) never been any of this alleged spirit saltation the Ganges’ plain dwellers claim or B) a discontinuity of consciousness/memory, which to me would make the soul a darn useless concept. May-just-hap, I’m too logocentric for my own good. But I can’t seem to get to the bottom of the murky soul conundrum without the use of the place where I consider it to be seated most likely, this accursed convoluted complex known as cerebrum, aka our bloody brains.
And then there’s that other epic itch of a question. Even if it’s just an idea, where on earth did we, the human species, homo sapiens non-tropo-sapiens get it from in the first place? There is nothing out there in nature [or even our artificially created world] that even in the slightest resembles a soul. Nothing, nichts, nada, nul. So how on earth did we dream this thing up, this vaporized, transcendent thingie? At least the gods have certain anthropomorphic attributes that make them palatable to the limited capacity of human imagination [which is always touted as capable of much more than it disappointingly ultimately manifests] but the soul is only just an amorphous substanceless spirit, something against which even extended paraphrases come up against as nothing short of outrageous, ridiculous, intangible… and, well, I’m afraid to admit, mystical. Rather than being straight-up non-human like the deities, the thing, to complicate matters, is alleged to be of the very essence of human nature. My mind starts reeling in Hitchcockesque Vertigo the more I zoom into this phenomenon, this impossibility.
Alright, call it a night, further fruitcake blithering in the days to come.
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