Parables of the Headless Baby
How incredibly easy it is to “lose our heads,” amorphous ecstasy, “head in the clouds,” illusory daydreaming, belief. The “temptation to exist” it has been called, and has been endured by our best and our brightest, from Plato to Jesus, Descartes to Nagarjuna, Shakespeare through Kant, Derrida and Joyce, to name only a very few, known for their thinking or seeing.
Or is it our bodies we lose?
A lot is told in the answering.
I for one can identify with this beat-up baby doll head, imagining the oblivious calm that might occur in the absence of smoker lungs and knotted muscles, distracted striving loins and aging jalopy’d joints. Hunger and exhaustion, labor and waste production. That I might be left, more or less, to a self to blame for satisfactions or their lack. Serenity secreted in the mind rather than constructed contradistinctly from the limbs and necessities of action. This mouth seems happily stopped, placid skinned-over ears, a pleasantly plugged nose and the solitude of inner vision. “Nirvana” another camp might call it.
But is it? Or would it be? I mean where do “space” and “time” inhere? And how about worry, panic and fear? I gladly turn emotions over to the sensory systems, but the imagination that prods them toward anxiety – is that not in my brain? And what of the “wisdom” of Helen Keller-types – that openness and fecundity – that corpus callosum of skin?
Either instance obviously ends in despair. The body inherently “feels” and feels doomed – a lifetime of bloom to decay. The change purse or trinket-drawer of mind doesn’t last long on its own without morphing to a padded cell.
So is “decapitation” really what occurs? They say the gaffer will go on gabbing once removed, but the muscles twitch and gangle about no less, and we keep producing shit synchronic with our escaping lives.
Thus in our ecstasies and flights what is it we lose? Are we really moved “out of” “stasis,” really set a-soar? Freed of our boundaries and weight? Or are we fleeing to a smaller cave, compressing our “self” to a dark hollow like lint in a pocket?
After all, if freedom refers to space and time and opportunities of will – movement favors the body, miracles the mind.
I’m guessing de-headed bodies lie still, and unbodied faces exhibit calm because they’ve ceased to be alive. Perhaps the symbiosis is mutual torment, destructive dynamo.
In reality, they come apart quite easily.
How would one say “a head without a body is like a body without a head?” Or in other words, “we must cling to it like grim death” (Kafka)
Whatever that means, I feel caught in its clutches.
And freed to be.
N Filbert 2012