We are all ill: but even a universal sickness implies an idea of health.× | Lionel Trilling
I stand before the empty page empty-handed, worse empty-brained. Sickness has gotten a hold of me, heating up my entire biomass to insalubrious temperatures. There is a perennial thin film of sweat covering my brow and moistening my armpits and butcrack. There is an overwhelming sense of depletion: I can‘t run, I can‘t write, I can‘t even sleep the way one is supposed to sleep [safe and sound], nor can I…focus. The body‘s unwanted heat turns everything into a haze. Thoughts become as much a mush as do hours. Attention to world politics and its unending supply of stunning disappointments [Scotland just turned down independence!] is seen through the haze of a subpar immune system.
I‘m sick, I‘m ill, I am non-sane.
Susan Sontag had some sort of citizenship metaphor for illness, which I considered a bit hokum at the time of reading. But now that I‘ve entirely withdrawn into the territory of my besieged body, have become landlocked in my malady, I will give the woman kudos for her analogy. Not that she needs any, not that she doesn‘t inexist.
Checking what‘s going on outside myself is like a really bad city trip with a serious case of fear of flying [which does indeed apply]. I come back irritated, without presents and not even the joy of being home again. Ridiculous, I haven‘t travelled in three years, what do I know? Fuck a city trip.
And once you‘re sick there‘s always this unhinged worry that, somehow you will never become healthy again, that you will spend the rest of your belabored breathing days undercovers, 37 degrees centigrade plus, drinking honeyed teas and trying to somehow figure out that last sentence the person in front of you just said. Before slipping into a slumber that never quite descends into sleep proper. You‘d be imprisoned in a single nation state, a citizen of your very own DDR. Or it‘d be sickening in a different mode, it‘d be like the guy who by incredible administrative misadventure is forever stuck at the airport. The thing is though that when I‘m sick my thinking is in such complete disarray that all of this is rather plausible.
I‘m sick. I‘m ill. I‘m practicing dying, I‘m rehearsing my last day on earth. I mean what else is being sick if not some fucked up trial run for, sooner or later, truly going the way of all biota? Your life capacities diminish and suddenly everything that looked so bloody important before the coughing and the sweating and the blazing lungs came along just buggers off…. into exile. The world beyond your very personal border.
But we do not just prepare for quietus in sickness, nay, even in fine North Atlantic 2500 calories per diem fettle we practice for the end. It is play, preparation, rehearsal to the degree that we want to come close, see what it‘s like, without the consequences. Which is ironic because if you are dead then there evidently are no consequences; nor anything else. We rehearse at different levels of daring: falling at 45 degrees and three hundred clicks/h along a cliff face, traipsing across a train top, tossing back vari-colored pills in the presence of extremly loud music and…. going to the goddamn Seilpark.
Which is what yours-truly was up to yesterday. At the first inter-arboreal crossing, still healthy and still alive to the world beyond myself but staring down into the ravine at a streamlet thirty meters below me, one cable swaying below my feet and another one bucking in my hands, I did wonder about the benefits of this practice. There is a part of the brain that is unconnected to one‘s rational faculties, this part guarantees one that one will die shortly. It fairly screams. There‘s only the shitty cable and this majestic/bone-pulverizing drop. It makes the heart thump like a ––––––– and stimulates a surpassing level of concentration. The type that would’ve come in hand at math matric. Simultaneously, those mental processes civilized by the evolution of technology and human engineering tell me to chill the fuck out: you could do a backflip off the cable and be perfectly fine in your indestructible harness and carabiners. Still another awareness, all these consciousnesses battling for space in the country of my skull, is focussed on what the experience is about: would you be calm in the face of nothingness? Dignified re annihilation? Can I even begin to understand why I said yes to something that I must have known would give me an inkling of death?
Personally, I can‘t help thinking how smoothly everything would sail right along without my extra flatulence giving it a questionable boost. Loveboat Gaia. Beloved people of mine would be tremendously aggrieved, certainly, but the great world wouldn‘t miss a breeze. Countries come about and crumble, Empires rise and fall, who are their citizens to kick up such a fuss?
There we have it. If being sick is low then there is always still a lower realm to wander into, a secret land underneath another land, the descent into Terra Morbidus. Bitching, kvetching, whinging at the top of my overheated cerebrum. I‘m proving to be a stereotypical double citizen, both sick and swiss.
I‘m sick. I‘m ill. I‘m mad…mad at Scotland, the Ukraine and Syria. I‘m rehearsing my last day on earth. Has anybody seen my passport? Have you seen my passport? Here now, come a bit closer, let me infect you!
1: If I don‘t write for another 24 hours or so, I‘ll lose it. That‘s what it feels like, the raw wound of not having written in three weeks. The personal pronoun „I“ is used way too frequently, I know. The ideal is to speak about one‘s personal situation in a way that minimizes the presence of the ego and maximizes the considerations of the human condition but that is hard as… buckyballs. For blog entries in particular it is best if some moment of clarity/insight has come and gone in the last fortnight. Not today. I stand before the empty page empty-handed, worse empty-brained.
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