The dreamy awareness of the aimless
by phil on Wednesday Jun 30, 2004 10:08 PM
Do you ever see your reflection and are amazed that you occupy that body?
Sometimes I cover my arm with a blanket or obstruct it with a table and start moving my fingers, so that it seems like my hand is detached from my body. For a few moments, I feel like the Terminator, when he cuts open his forearm to show pneumatic ligaments, tendons, and muscles operating his hand. It's like, "I am an object with agency and somehow I can, by mere thought, operate this crane-like tool to writhe and grapple."
I am also amazed by human symmetry. We are a complete whole that is sliced by an imaginary vertical plane, with each side generally equivalent to the other. When we walk, we alternate motions from each half to propel forward. Our halves are like two wheels moving independently, but when we greet one another, we perceive a complete whole.
Beauty, for example, is based partly on symmetry. If you are born with an asymmetrical face, people just won't get or understand you. The humanness washes away. Actually, on a deeper level, the animalness washes away, as most animals are symmetrical.
Physically, we are this star-shaped wheel of flesh. But through society and culture, the body manifests gigantic. As my friend Peter says, "consciousness is outside of us." As Pink Floyd says, "All that you see, and all that you touch, is all that you'll ever be." For the past four years, I existed in exams, in University halls, in periodical early-morning bike runs to school, and in the eyes of professors and peers. Now, I am Locke's tabula rasa, institutionally naked, unemployed. I am only body.
Life is an alternating circuit from transition to stability. In the transition modes, we lay down one cyborg-suit of structure and take on another. In this post-graduation state, I get more of those reflective moments when my physical presence is distended. For a few brief sighs, ideas about human symmetry and the fiction of agency seep into my dreamy mind.
But, stability is just around the corner. Concrescence proceeds from chaos in an infinitely looping cycle. When I get a job and stop sleeping at 5AM, I will look back on this phase as if it were an alien dream.
But, creeping around the corner, will be the same dream, again and again.
(Check out these games you can play on yourself to distend reality ... Diane Ackerman's An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain will also mystify you about yourself ... I also titled this post "aimless" because I'm trying to cut down my AOL Instant Messenger usage.)