the urgency of snailsWas there ever a way of being that did not seek out the particulars -- the sometimes bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping minutiae -- of that way? Intellect may lend a hand, but vast intellect is not so much the point. It has everything to do with love and delight and horror.
It is not that such investigation can capture or nail down the topic under investigation. But without the skills arising from that investigation, the delight goes begging, becomes stale and static ... and religion gains a foothold. No one discovers an onion by peeling an onion and if you knew who or what God were, would it any longer be God?
The Hindus, bless their hides, were the ones to come up with the metaphor of the broken incense stick ... "each piece is it." Zen Buddhists stumbled along behind with mentions of "mind" or "no mind." But I don't think it is necessary to take up a 'wise' calling or a venerated philosophy in order to long for delight or seek out love or be confronted by horror. Everyone is 'deeeeeep' in their own way and in their own terms. Nuff said.
The particulars of a particular life demand some measure of skill and understanding. Hunting alligators with a B-B gun is a poor idea. Creating a religion as a means of capturing God may be a step on the road to improving a skill set, but beware the alligator that is bound to come around and bite you on the ass. An onion does not give up its secrets to the man or woman who consents to peel it.
OK ... an investigation makes some common sense, enhances pleasure and provides additional smiles. It's nothing special ... a 'nothing special' without which a skill or circumstance goes begging ... devolves into stale uncertainty, often masquerading as a proud and pompous certainty.
It is scary to investigate an onion, whatever the onion may be. Peeling the layers back, bit by bit and teary eye by teary eye, seeking out the God of onionness ... only to find that to know an onion, to know a marriage, to know alligator bait ... well, in ordinary terms, there is nothing there. This is the horror that religion bestows, that life bestows, that investigation bestows. Of course, if it were actually "nothing," then it would be something, but investigation reveals that this is ludicrous and self-serving. Answers and explanations and beliefs and meanings may do what they can to keep horror at bay, but ... well ... check it out: How well does that work? Delight and deliciousness are enhanced by investigation and yet investigation cannot tell an onion's tale ... what a gyp! What a horror! I think I'll just rest and nest in the sometimes thorny down of ignorance or religion or judgment or meaning or ... pick a poison. Fuck all this investigation shit! I think I'll just call it all "love" or "God" or "peace" or "enlightenment" ... it may not be perfect, but it beats the horror that beckons and purrs.
What then is to be said for the investigation that I would argue anyone, in any walk of life, engages in? What does it teach beyond delight and love and horror? At its furthest reaches, what the hell good is it? Where is the peace?
My guess is that it teaches a certain lightness of being. No one can know an onion and yet there are onions. It's not necessary. It's just possible. I am not necessary. I am just possible. It's not as if anyone could actually "get over yourself" and yet, when things are possible, you have gotten over yourself ... for the moment. And things are easier, lighter, less weighted and freighted and subject to staleness. Alligator bait and the "God particle" and marriage and another world war and the molecular structure of alizarin crimson and vast, blithering philosophies. Possible, possible, possible ... relax, enjoy and be at peace. Investigate? You bet. But get out of the way ... even as investigating, in point of fact, gets you out of the way.
Investigate ... it'll get you out of the way just as removing a layer of the onion will get you out of the way ... closer and closer and closer to ... it and it and it ... so delightful and possible.
As, for example,
the urgency of snailsThough there's nothing saying anyone has to be as weird or abstruse as Gertrude Stein or a scientist seeking a God particle.