sitemap - feedback

 

Sufficiencies

Posted on: Sunday, March 22, 2020

The body is enough. This is one of the principle cultural messages of the past century and it has allowed many people to live more comfortably and with more freedom of behaviour (notwithstanding extraordinary crises). The displacement of religion by science has meant that respect only means itself. I only mean what I manifest.

Abdelwahab Bouhdiba wrote Sexuality in Islam in French in 1974 and it was translated into English in 2004. I find it a fascinating, scholarly, illuminating book and these comments are made with all due respect. The writer says that he offers no final hypotheses, which is probably why, in his Conclusion, he moves among contradictory observations. On the one hand, he supports the freedom of women to personal autonomy and the rearrangement of the Arab psyche in relation to attachment and sexual union; on the other, there’s a desire to preserve the sacralising mystification of sexuality which offered comprehensive rituals of the body and what he conveys as a rich sense of meaning.(1)

Something was there where there had been nothing.
Or should I say, nothing was there
but it had been defiled by questions—

– Louise Glück(2)


It seems sensible and important to integrate not eviscerate the past, but it seems to me that the word “sacralise” or “sacred” is only an accommodation, a trinket that hides a stubborn power hierarchy. We have exchanged conceptual hierarchies by speaking now of personal autonomy instead of inspiration or prayerfulness. Whether one is more valuable than the other is a matter not just of epistemological domains but of lived efficacy.

There are no windows. The body is the soul.
The soul is the wave that sings the sea.

I can read bodies, but I find no plot.
They advance and retreat. They burn and cool.

I do what is orderly. I am a creature of squares.
Rooted in a safe garden, I am not afraid of the sky.
The world is beautiful, people beautiful over the hedge.

– Máighréad Medbh(3)

Scientists tell us that the human is programmed to locate outside phenomena in relation to possible threat or advantage. The context defines the nature of what is to be protected—community, physical safety, food, status . . . This, I think, is where God comes in. Like “Love,” like “I,” the word is small enough to be adaptable. There’s no meaning in the word—add your own. The fact is in the topping. The truth is in the routine or repetition that becomes “I” around the monolith you love or won’t migrate from.

                And so we make our           lives           by what we love

– John Cage(4)

It's not only on the level of utility that, according to Bouhdiba’s account, the complex Islamic structure of physical attention, care, and exaltation of sense experience was developed, but on the level of sustainable reverence--towards ultimate unification with community and deity.

An author who deals with questions of eroticism, perfumery, hygiene and beauty has no reason to blush, therefore, when approaching questions that are neither more nor less noble than grammar, prosody, canon law or history.

– Abdelwahab Bouhdiba(5)

I love this philosophy. But it’s only as pleasurable as its supporting system. I agree that over-exposure, “de-sacralisation,” leaves a scorched landscape, but it’s not fallow. We re-populate it with different manners, styles, structures. The best may not be the most popular, but one is often subtly enabled by the other. Secrecy and privilege are close neighbours.

Structure          without life          is dead.           But Life               without
structure               is un-seen          .

– John Cage(6)

(I’m making a very clumsy effort to indicate that the author used a four-measure musical line.)

John Cage’s “nothing,” like Buddhist emptiness, like Das Ding, may not have a name, but at some level it is body. He repeats the word “pleasure” several times in his ‘Lecture on Nothing’; it seems a measure of value. Cage used chance operations to determine the structure of his works, with the aim of removing the influence of conscious purpose or sentiment. There is choice, love, in the acquisition of the skill; choice in the decision to use chance operations (mostly the I Ching); after that the structure informs the work and there’s no attempt at a statement or a particular kind of beauty.

Je ne sais pas c’qui m’quoi.
(I don’t know what thinks me.)

– Bernard Réquichot(7)

Roland Barthes describes Réquichot’s paintings as pure body—internal, dark entities:

. . . what appears is a violent ectoplasm as a result of the confrontation between the white canvas and the black of closed eyes.

Réquichot called this the meta-mental—the body without opposition [i.e. from the theological notion of a soul].

I want to live with the meta-mental. Body is enough. It will be my enough. Nothing else occurs quite as much. It doesn’t preclude imagining, response, the feeling of the notion of beauty, but it precludes finality. I might call that immortality. Scientists methodically call it alteration. 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Footnotes
(1) Sexuality in Islam. Translated by Alan Sheridan. London: Saqi, 2012.
(2) From ‘Faithful and Virtuous Night,’ in Faithful and Virtuous Night, Manchester: Carcanet, 2014.
(3) From ‘Nothing.” Sequence in process.
(4) From “Lecture on Nothing.” In Silence. Wesleyan University Press, 1961, 114
(5) Cit., 140.
(6) Cit., 113.
(7) Quoted in Roland Barthes, “Réquichot and his Forms,” in The Responsibility of Forms. Translated from the French by Richard Howard. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985, 206 ff.


Other recent blog items

Blue Arrow Sufficiencies
  Posted on: Sunday, March 22, 2020
Blue Arrow Who Desire
  Posted on: Monday, February 10, 2020
Blue Arrow Truth
  Posted on: Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Blue Arrow The Diligence in the Snow: Tales of the Koanan #10
  Posted on: Monday, November 11, 2019
Blue Arrow Extravagant Selves
  Posted on: Sunday, October 13, 2019
Blue Arrow The Fact of Division
  Posted on: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Blue Arrow World's Eye
  Posted on: Sunday, August 11, 2019
Blue Arrow Lack: Lives of the Koanan #9
  Posted on: Saturday, July 13, 2019
Blue Arrow Bag Lady #2
  Posted on: Friday, June 14, 2019
Blue Arrow Bag Lady
  Posted on: Friday, May 10, 2019
Blue Arrow Against Loyalty
  Posted on: Friday, April 12, 2019
Blue Arrow Motivation: Lives of the Koanan #8
  Posted on: Saturday, March 09, 2019
Blue Arrow Com(m)as
  Posted on: Sunday, February 10, 2019
Blue Arrow Dividual
  Posted on: Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Blue Arrow Stress Births
  Posted on: Saturday, November 10, 2018
Blue Arrow Satisfactions
  Posted on: Monday, October 08, 2018
Blue Arrow Muted
  Posted on: Saturday, September 08, 2018
Blue Arrow Call Upon the Author
  Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2018
Blue Arrow Need to Know
  Posted on: Wednesday, July 04, 2018
Blue Arrow Selfie
  Posted on: Monday, June 04, 2018
Blue Arrow The Long Truth
  Posted on: Wednesday, May 02, 2018
Blue Arrow Possession
  Posted on: Monday, April 02, 2018
Blue Arrow Resistance
  Posted on: Saturday, March 03, 2018
Blue Arrow New Found Land
  Posted on: Saturday, February 03, 2018
Blue Arrow Framed: Lives of the Koanan #7
  Posted on: Monday, January 01, 2018
Blue Arrow Stop! Go!
  Posted on: Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Blue Arrow Portrait
  Posted on: Thursday, November 02, 2017
Blue Arrow The Formal Network of the Lie
  Posted on: Monday, July 03, 2017
Blue Arrow Political is Personal
  Posted on: Monday, June 05, 2017
Blue Arrow Ideas of Order
  Posted on: Thursday, May 04, 2017
Blue Arrow Dark Reading (Roethke)
  Posted on: Saturday, April 01, 2017
Blue Arrow Mutatis Mutandis: A Reading of 'The Disquieting Muses' by Sylvia Plath
  Posted on: Thursday, March 02, 2017
Blue Arrow Perplexing Pronomials: Lives of the Koanan #6
  Posted on: Friday, February 03, 2017
Blue Arrow Aerial Approach / Pre-text
  Posted on: Thursday, January 05, 2017
Blue Arrow Walking with Ammons and Carson
  Posted on: Friday, December 02, 2016
Blue Arrow Face the Wall (fragments)
  Posted on: Sunday, November 06, 2016
Blue Arrow Blog October 2016: Product
  Posted on: Sunday, October 02, 2016
Blue Arrow The Eye that Primes the Canvas
  Posted on: Friday, September 02, 2016
Blue Arrow Escape: Parvit of Agelast
  Posted on: Sunday, August 07, 2016
Blue Arrow No
  Posted on: Friday, July 01, 2016
Blue Arrow A Reading of 'Indoors' by Eavan Boland
  Posted on: Wednesday, June 01, 2016
Blue Arrow The Look: A Reading of 'The Lioness' by Adrienne Rich
  Posted on: Sunday, May 01, 2016
Blue Arrow The Dental Contract
  Posted on: Friday, April 01, 2016
Blue Arrow A Reading of Michael Hartnett's 'Epitaph for John Kelly, Blacksmith'
  Posted on: Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Blue Arrow A Reading of Medbh McGuckian’s ‘Sidereum Iter (His Journey through the Stars)’
  Posted on: Sunday, January 31, 2016
Blue Arrow Farewell to the Blog
  Posted on: Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Blue Arrow An Old Fragment
  Posted on: Saturday, June 27, 2015
Blue Arrow Private
  Posted on: Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Blue Arrow Architectonics
  Posted on: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Blue Arrow Score
  Posted on: Friday, March 27, 2015
Blue Arrow Armoire
  Posted on: Saturday, February 28, 2015
Blue Arrow Undoing Peace: Lives of the Koanan #5
  Posted on: Monday, January 26, 2015
Blue Arrow Like One More Wave
  Posted on: Saturday, November 29, 2014
Blue Arrow Beasts, Priests and Virgins: Dylan Thomas and the Love Concept
  Posted on: Sunday, October 26, 2014
Blue Arrow Sane
  Posted on: Saturday, September 27, 2014
Blue Arrow A Girl is a Sliced Fruit
  Posted on: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Blue Arrow Peace: Lives of the Koanan #4
  Posted on: Sunday, July 27, 2014
Blue Arrow Shit
  Posted on: Friday, June 27, 2014
Blue Arrow Expressing the Source: Eavan Boland and Adrienne Rich
  Posted on: Monday, May 26, 2014
Blue Arrow A Little Smaller than the Entire Universe
  Posted on: Sunday, April 27, 2014
Blue Arrow Fronts: Lives of the Koanan #3
  Posted on: Monday, March 31, 2014
Blue Arrow Act
  Posted on: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Blue Arrow Present and Unaccounted For
  Posted on: Monday, January 27, 2014
Blue Arrow Apathy: Lives of the Koanan #2
  Posted on: Friday, July 26, 2013
Blue Arrow Choice (Lives of the Koanan #1)
  Posted on: Tuesday, December 18, 2012