With a Grain

I

Monster me, monster me, when is it that I am this monster me? Yes, when, not how? The how of my monster is easily determined. There is duality in my nature; it is easy for me to understand this dualism that is my humanity and my animality. As a Christian I am taught to accept the dual nature of Jesus Christ; a duality that is one hundred per cent human and one hundred per cent divine. You do not need to be Christian to understand this; however, Jesus for Christians is not like Apollo or Dionysus for ancient Greeks no matter how many reductions the traditions have been forced to fit.

One-hundred per cent human, one-hundred per cent divine; Jesus. One-hundred per cent homo-spaiens, one-hundred per cent human, in potential, no? You and I–together les grotesques.

Jesus had free-will to reject his divinity, I presume. I am not certain of the theology here, what the official word is on this in my Church. I wish I were more sure, that I knew more than I do on this. Nonetheless, it seems to me that his divinity would have had to have been an option for him. The significance of free-will in the three great monotheistic religions is impossible to overlook and demands inclusion in any assessment.

The whole point of the Son of God who had been begotten not made before time and creation to incarnate in the person of Yehuda ben Miriam was so he could experience life as a man, live as a man, choose as a man, suffer as a man. This is integral to the entire schema of Christianity whether there is Truth or nothing true in the whole of it. Jesus had to choose to be engaged with the divinity of his nature; even Jesus at the start had only divine potential. The actuality was distinct.

Christ contends with his humanity and his divinity, a duality, not a dichotomy. Likewise, I contend with my humanity and my animality. I am not human by simply having been born. Humanity is a choice. Humanity is not then an inherited nature except in potential.  I am animal; I am human. I am both, each one-hundred per cent worth. I am also neither human nor animal in that by being both simultaneously I become yet something else–someone else, all within one body.

Another monster me to be? Questions follow yet other questions–questions are themselves grotesque, no?

One flesh; many persons; many yet one; I am we. The actuality of humanity is a process, a nurture within the animal who chooses this option, an election. I am capable of Reason, this related to knowledge, thus the Sapiens of my species. This choice to be human, that is, humane, is by comparison, a monster me coexisting with the animal me.

My animal nature would reject the humane; it despises the human potential in me; it resents the pull of humanity. A species of animal is a species of animal–here I separate animal from human; here I make a distinctions between what is human and what is simply animal.

Human nature coexists with the animal nature that precedes it, if you will. Thus, our humanity is exceptional; it is not a given. The Homo sapiens is a species of animal with an animal’s nature, of course. We must not, though, confuse this animal nature for our human nature, no matter how many Venn Diagrams may show us how the human and the animal overlap.

If being human in the way we mean when being human is to be humane–and this here is key–is what it means to have humanity as a quality and not a category to belong to, then having been born an infant homo-sapiens is not enough, although in potential, I can be human. If being this human is different from being the co-existing homo-sapiens as another species of animal, one among many in Nature, then it might qualify as a monstrosity, as Darwin defines monstrosity in Chapter II, right early in his civilization changing On the Origin of Species.

(I love hyperbole.)

By monstrosity is meant “some considerable deviation of structure, generally injurious, or not useful to the species.” What we call humane is something other than what we call animal, when what we mean by animal is brutal, nasty and red in tooth and claw, if I might borrow from Darwin’s great contemporary, Tennyson, in the latter’s reference to Nature, the Naturalists nature, not the nature of the Romantics.

Yes, humanity is a deviation in the structure of the homo-sapiens, when it is the sapiens part of the species that distinguishes it as a species among others. The fact that being humane is in itself, when it is itself, non-utilitarian, there is no part of our humanity, when we mean acting and being humane, that is useful to the homo-sapiens. For a Christian, the primary nature of Jesus is divine; he grows into his humanity and through choices, perhaps fostered by his conscious or preconscious or unconscious knowledge of his divinity, develops that humanity into the living human Jesus.

Humanity, as an exception, is thereby a monstrosity in the development of the Homo sapiens; thus, to be human is to be a monster. When I am humane I am, in contrast to the homo-sapiens nature I am born with, the monster me. Yes, in contrast with the nature of the Homo-sapiens, human, as we mean when human is humane, is a monster, a monstrosity.

This sense of monster is reserved for Victor Frankenstein’s monster, at one time called his being, that which in his “living’ context, is Victor’s creation–but it is this sense of monstrosity he bears into the world, a monstrousness framed by his otherness among other humans–for it is a human Victor Frankenstein tries to create–that the being succumbs to, is destroyed by. He forgets, though, that humans are not created but nurtured and chosen; Victor and his being both ignore the native monstrosity that is a human being.

Victor’s being was desperate to have this human modifier placed in front of his reference as a being. He did not recognize that his overt and exteriorized monstrousness was native to all of humanity in each and every member, perhaps only interiorized, the alienation each of us suffers in our selves within the Self, the many selves Self suffering monstrous alienation from each other, in some, so severe as to crack the veneer of singularity and break out in a multiplicity of warring selves too the destruction of any sane personality–what we also forget is our maskality. His creation is on the lines of the homo-sapiens, but is it really his disfigurement at the hands of his patchwork making?

His true monstrosity arrives from Victor abdicating his responsibility to his creation. The being calls him on this by saying that he could have been Victor’s Adam. But the crime of hubris has already overcome Victor and he recoils, as I recoil from this monster me, a monstrosity of my nature, this human I choose.

To be me is to be many, to be one, to be someone never having been, to be who I have always been, to be someone I might have been once, someone I could yet be, someone I might be if. I am another self and another self and another . . . I am other too. What other I do not know yet; this other is chosen, embraced by necessity otherwise it becomes another monster set to destroy me.

There are many monsters within me.

To be many might seem confusing, but it is not. I am who I am whenever I am anyone I am, wherever I might be, with whomever I am, the many me[s] I am that could be when and where if, if, if . . . What if I were Hamlet, how would I order a hamburger and a milk shake?

Humanity is a monstrosity.

II

The Thread

I’ve lost the thread . . . she always asks me to thread her needles.

I wish it were different for me with her, but it is not.

I wish the story were different, but it is not.

She would disagree if she read this, what I am going to say has been–everyone is the has-been of his own life. No exclusions.

The fact that she would disagree with whatever I say would say have said, disagreeing now and then, past and future, in perpetuity, she disagrees–whatever it is that I say, she’s against it. That she disagrees is typical–to this, she vehemently disagrees. Now this is part of the problem–no! It is the problem. It is a problem I wish were not.

The extent she does not listen–and she does not listen, only hears what I say, sometimes not even that. I have for a long, long time now considered that she actively dis-listens, actively makes herself deaf when I speak . . . and this is far, is deep, broad if you need it to be broad, if it will help you better understand what I am trying to say about how far she goes in not listening.

I have not yet determined if she is aware of this or not, intermittent suspicions aside. I do not know for sure if she makes an initial conscious choice to tune out, to stop, to avoid, or is it that she has a fundamental defect in her ability to listen–maybe she is just stupid, something I have not yet wanted to conclude.

I love her, so concluding that she is stupid is difficult for me. She might just confuse the act of hearing with the act of listening, the former, as we used to say, as I used to say (who are these we I keep referring to . . .), hearing is a passive act and listening is an active act; actions passive and actions active. You understand, don’t you? I’m sure you do.

We are always talking about passive aggression and aggressive acts, the latter far from passive. How do we understand what others intend when they themselves have little clue about what they intend most of the time? This includes me, of course. How could it not?

Awake, alert, alive; what have we in words for the opposite of these. Zombies and vampires fill our popular fiction; what then are these sleepwalkers I see every day riding the mass transit here in New York? Day in and day in again we walk up and down streets, in and out of buildings, to and from meetings with friends and family, doing all manner of things that make up what we call living, all together, though, in nothing other than a great somnambulism. We are not awake, but sleepwalking our way from one thing to another, through one conversation to another.

I ride the buses and the subways here in New York City, and there is no greater illustration of the sleepwalking the Buddha inferred than with those of us peopling subway car after subway car, eyes ahead blankly, mouths open in some stereotype of imbecility, always something less than awake, something closer to undead. You only have to look around you to see hoe asleep so many of us are. How much like vampires others have become–we do fear the light of day.

Shadow worlds for us are preferable.

There is no amount of energy she will not spend to avoid thinking. We must remember that thinking is not randomly passing images in the mind; no. It is not some game of hop-scotch played by jumping in and our of squares drawn around words, presumably standing for ideas we have thought, but more likely ideas we have received, when at best we pay attention to the messages sent through the media.

Thinking is only done by those who are awake. Sleepwalkers do not think. How many of us are walking with eyes wide opened? How many of us can say, even with our eyes opened, we are awake? How many more of us are sleepwalking our way through our lives? Look at the faces of the people on the subway to and from work.

Being tired does not give us the entirety of what is going on there, blank, expressionless faces, mouths opened or fixed on the inanity of their smart phone, yet another irony lost on us. We close our eyes how many times? Self-imposed cave dwelling, all of us characters in Plato’s famous allegory. We do trust our shadows. The light of day is harsh. We imagine a safer vision in the shadows with less light. Ah! How we love our caves.

Cave dwellers, all.

There’s an anecdote about a man on a road who sees the Buddha but does not know it is Buddha. The man sees the Buddha approach and even from a distance down the road can see that the Buddha is greatly illuminated, that he is surrounded by a special aura, something more than charisma allows. When the man and the Buddha are parallel, the man excuses himself and asks the Buddha who he is, what he is, wondering aloud to the Buddha, Are you a God? To this the Buddha says, No. Are you a spirit or some other supernatural being?

Questions begetting questions following others with short answer after short answe –but if you do not like yes or no in response to your questions, ask other than yes/no questions.

In response to the most recent question the man asked, asking the Buddha what he was, Are you supernatural the Buddha said, or says, as sometimes the present tense is appropriate for stories or anecdotes . . . No.

The Buddha is not a spirit. The Buddha is not a God. The Buddha is obviously different. The Buddha is not an angel or some daemon–could he be a demon? No. The Buddha said no to all the questions the man asked. The man then in frustration formed the question, If you are not a God or a spirit or another kind of supernatural being, what are you then?

Whether the pause was long or brief is inconsequential; length of time to answer might mean something to someone, but it does not mean anything here, cannot mean much to you, means nothing to me.

So, after all of this, all of the man’s questions, to this final question, the most important question, perhaps the first question the man should have asked–but if he did the Buddha might have avoided a direct answer, instead opting for an instructional Socratic method (and the Buddha is often Socratic as Socrates is often very buddhist . . .), yes, of course, to all of this, after all of this, with the man paused or poised in frustration, or maybe some other emotion, but on tenter hooks he stood, the Buddha said or says, as I have already pointed out he might say, using the present tense, I could, yes, after everything, the Buddha says, Awake.

Awake.

He is awake. The rest of us . . . more questions. I never understood people who confuse narrators for authors or authors for the person who authors. A writer is a writer if he does not publish, but then is he an author? I have always understood this to be the opposite–it is authority that a writer always have over his texts–I understand that a writer is one who writes and an author is one who authors, but to author is to maintain authority, no?

The way one is an author is different for one who publishes and another who does not. What then am I saying? I’ve list the thread. The eye of the needle is empty.

She is sleep walking, every day sleep walking, to and fro everywhere she goes, asleep, walking around in a deep sleep–is it deep, the sleep of the sleep walker? I do not know. I do know that what I see when she is allegedly awake is a woman sleep walking, much the way I see sleepwalkers everywhere all the time I am anywhere.

She’s made soup–she likes making soup. She always offers me a bowl when I am over. I always have a bowl or two when I am there with her at her table, soup and brown bread and a white burgundy I have brought with me.

Her soup needs a pinch more of salt.

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