On being at home in oneself

There is only the pose.
I say silently to myself,
now and then incessantly,
God Forgive Me.

The crucial insight from Christ
Is that we live among others,
That we inevitably depend on
Each other, and that we must
Sometimes look each other in
The eye and own who we are,
Which, as we learned earlier
From Aristotle, is only the sum
Of what we have done,
In arithmetic with what
Others have done to us.

Habits form with repetition.
Learning is always based in
Imitation, even when the
Object we imitate is an imagined
Aggregate of our own past behaviors.

Falstaff bids young men addict themselves to sweet wine.
Addiction is nothing but the most forcible of habits. I’ve
Trafficked in distinctions before that I no longer respect:
Of course every addiction is a chemical addiction.
We are chemical beings.

We are hydraulic beings.
The blood in your feet while
Standing must inevitably have
Higher pressure than the blood
In your head.

The most profound discovery about the brain
Is that it is sensorially inert – you don’t feel
Your brain. On the other hand you can feel
The shift of your brain inside your skull,
If you pay attention, with an unstiff neck.

Rule number one: breath. A breath is
An irreducible unit of life.

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The Biomechanics of Shame and Sadness

What does it mean to have a face?
The face is an anotomical structure
Made up of muscle and bone like
Every other part of the body.
Let us call this the scientific view.
The scientific view is useful to consider
In contrast with what might be called
The natural view,  that our faces are
Primarily the loci of expression and
Recognition and the most direct
Representation of a person’s personality.

Looking down is mechanically non-negligible action.

love between spies

The attachment of the reckless
To the moment has moral force.

An attachment to what is fitting
cannot be circumvented.

The Addict attaches himself, herself,
To the moment with perdurable cables
And spits in the eye of prudence. To note
The immanence of death and prepare
Accordingly is to embrace it.

Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.

Once something is proved true it
Immediately begins to seem obvious.
I tend to assume everyone knows everything
I know, at least, unless I’m lying,
In which case I need to theorize
More precisely about what they
Know and don’t know to avoid
Detection in the long term.

When  a spy encounters another
Spy there must be a special bond of
Intimacy.

Hazards of Sentimental education

Some of us have trouble seeing trees for the forest.
We learn from literature that ambition is vanity.
We learn from wisdom in general that all is vanity.
We once threw pennies in the well to make a wish.
Dust goes to dust. Tin dropped in a pit goes home
As well. A wish is worth a penny, perhaps. Or more.
A lottery ticket is just a penny in the well. All of our
Efforts are just dust thrown down a canyon.
And so forth.
The big picture is always a bleak one. (Humans
Dwell in the temporal middleground mostly.)

That the mind tends towards the body’s destruction

Which is to say: by its very existence.

We live beneath the spectre of Cartesianism.
In part because to hypostatize a freestanding
Substance of Agency is a helpful social and
Political artifice: the ghost who pilots the
Machine, a rational locus for Punishment
And Reward and conferral of Rights.

Still: it’s artifice. We sense a gap between
The singularity of consciousness and it’s
Objects of perception. And we reify the
Singleness and the nexushood of that
Singularity.

Because – why? The silly and the serious
Answers are both: fear of death. In its
More and less abstract permutations.

It is something of its own to be a
Locus of response. Fever dreams
tell the story of battles within, but
Only to the fevered. For others to
Glimpse relies on description. And
As we know from knowing our own
Dreams there can be no such thing
As verisimilitude. The media don’t
Exist. Or perhaps I should say they
Are not available to deliberate manipulation.
(Brain science not withstanding.
Obviously we can do things to influence
Dreams, but controlling their content
with any precision seems still chimerical.)

Health and beauty are the dividends,
In the end, of good self care. You have
The face you merit when you’re fifty.
But you need to start earning it
As soon as possible. The shape of
Your body is determined above all by
How you use it. There should be nothing
mysterious in this. The muscles you
Use grow and tone and the muscles
You don’t use atrophy, along with the
Ability to deliberately stimulate them.

Of course part of the problem
Is with deliberation itself. Human
Behaviors require strange bodily
Orientations. Think of driving a screw:
To apply enough torque and enough
Pressure, to resist the tendency to buck,
Is mechanically complicated. And
Since it’s not a process for which
Our bodies are specifically designed
By evolution, like walking or running
Or crouching or fighting, one might
Tend to approach it in a way that’s
Mechanically unsound.

Too much fine description.
We do weird things and they
Make us use our bodies in weird ways.
We also tend to think of ourselves
As certain kinds of people, with certain
Vocabularies of expression and social
Response and we reinforce the ones
We identify with most. People mistake
A face they make, without realizing, for
Their blank face and continuously
Produce it. I feel like I literally don’t
Don’t know how to smile sometimes
Because I’ve been alienated from what
Makes me smile by excess mediation.
I’m usually smiling for social reasons.
But not only do we devise a smile for
Society, but we convince ourselves
We’ve got it right and can lapse into
Correcting our natural smile by
Enforcing our camera smile. Its
Amazing to see faces contorted
For the camera. Some men seem
To have decided they like how they
Look when they bare their teeth
Like chimps.

*

When Jesus says:
Don’t let your left hand know
What your right hand is doing
I think We can take him to mean:
Don’t let your right side tyrannise
Your left, nor the reverse.  You are
Always already split. But that
Doesn’t mean they are always
Satan and an angel on your
Shoulders. They are Chomsky
& Foucalt, or Jesus & Moses, or
Picasso & Matisse, aut al. Because
Every binary is an opposition.
On the other hand, there are
Different kinds of opposition.
Two legs oppose mechanically
To hold you up.

Unfortunately it seems inevitable
That many, maybe most of us, must
Include some term of recovery from
Bad training if we mean to grow up
And get on with our lives. Jesus talks
A frightening kind of sense sometimes
But Catholic indoctrination is something
Else altogether. Some disaster happens
In the telephone game chain of command
From macro campaigns, themselves corrupt,
To micro level education.

The trouble with Jesus is that he
Says very cryptic things. He says
Beautiful things whose mystery
Should be savored and he says
Practical things that seem
Mysterious because we can’t
Accept them at the practical level.
What does it mean to turn the other
Cheek? It means that when someone
Slaps you you should invite them to
Slap you again. The logic is too
Chaotic to account.

To exigize requires a poet,
Not a school master. And
What can you do? Not every
Nun’s a poet. And yet we
Must train our children to
Sit still and shut up somehow.

Or should we? Yes. No.
I don’t know.