The Cleaving

“Connection is the recognition of the  intimacy of a division…

to make a division is to give substance form”

Madeline Gins

“Therefore shall a person leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto another

and they shall be as one flesh”

Genesis 2:24

The Cleaving


How do we come to know, believe or accept this ancient concept?  It has mited its way to the deepest reaches of Being (Dasein): Heidegger’s rift, linguistics address, each individual body’s pulse or breath or tremor.  That only the separateness may truly join.  Only the differences are recognized as similar.  Only the rifts require a bridge.

I do not know.  It is a reality I feel with as much pain as hope or joy.  That cleaving is both the splitting apart, the splintering wood and severing rope, AND their clinging together, their sealing and sealant.  It undoes me.  As a metaphor, concept or signification it rings true and carried dark howls and bright screams out of the depths of me.

And yet it comes so naturally.  Fight or flight.  Attack, retreat.  The extremities of the urges to join and drive to cease.  In the utterly intimate action of cleaving, we expose and unite – right in the most susceptible, vulnerable, life-threatening places.


The “cutting out,” “cutting off” – to cleave – you know what I’m referring to – when that which is most important to you becomes unreachable.  That impression that you are being “given up on,” that someone is “letting go,” even actively removing themselves or casting you away, chopping the cord – the umbilical torn, gushing, pulsing, the infant left writhing and wailing in the dumpster or thorny woods, a closet or dark alley.  Cleft.

In truth:  that severing of relationship, whether momentary or fatal, is a life-threatening, death-dealing blow.  Abandonment.  The dawning that you are at the front and there will be no reinforcements, you are cut from the supply train.  There is shock, there is scream and then a canyon of void with no other side.  It is we at our most disastrous, mortally dependent state.

We in the face of absence.  We without response – no face in a mirror, no echo of sound, NO THING.  Cleft.

Individual, alone, solitary entity.  Facing the reality:  we are insufficient to our needs, incompetent to our existence, impossible to self-sustain.  We in our fragility.  Our valid, appropriate, ontological FEAR.

Whack!  In anger, in grief, in silence, in bruise, we are severed, ultimately exposed, whether through small offense or enormous rejection – we have been cut.  Past the bone.  The reverberations tumble and crumble out far and wide, seemingly ubiquitously, regardless of the specific instant’s severity.  This is “the cleaving” done as much to us as by us in our madness to survive, to be real, to be verified and validated.


In the “drawing near,” in the “clinging” of to cleft, on the other hand, we are born.  We become.  As another reflects or responds to our raw broken mortally wounded finitude and fragility, we get glued to the vitality of these limited lives we have in us.  As these fearsome exposures are clasped, bonded, covered by another – transfused and salved, bandaged and wrapped or dressed by another – we know we are possible, we feel we exist and we matter, we join toward world and its being, brief though it is.

These are our chances and capacities: to effect, to mean, to act, create or be.  It is in the drawing near that what life there may be is acknowledged, fostered, affirmed.  Con-firmed.  Cleft – grafted into the ongoing reality of things, parting through wholes, participating and enhancing of semiotic systems.  As if life does not really belong to us, but we must belong to it, by belonging with one another.

“Leaving,” “cleaving.”  The leaf cleft from its branch will not survive, but cleft or grafted to another stem or soil or root may for awhile yet, live on, grow, produce, change and become.

We continuously leave and cleave to varying extents, and these just may be the principal elements of our thriving.  Cleft we perish, shrivel, die away.  Cleft we heal, nourish and grow life.  Both options/realities occurring in the cuts, the core places, the sources.

Here we panic, here we rejoice.  Here we suffer, here we love.  Here we become, and here we cease to be.


This mysterious activity necessitates both significations, counter-intuitive though it seem.  The need to be cleft exposes the places needing cleft.  Awareness of the sources for supply determines the crucial treasure, dependency, and gifts of supply.

We are chopped to the truth of death

and joined to the reality of life