Friday, January 30, 2009

WAR IN THREE PARTS: A Moment in Soul

WARNING: Please do not read this unless you are ready for stark imagery. James Hillman suggests that Spirit is arrow-like, soaring into the heavens of light and life, but that Soul meanders through the labyrinthine corridors of the dark Underworld. This is an exposition, a mediation in Soul, a meditation from the Underworld, especially section III.

I. "War (Polemos) is the father of all that is."

from Heraclitus, Fragments of Philosophy

lyrics by Leonard Cohen

There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
and the ones who say there isn't.

Why don't you come on back to the war, that's right, get in it,
why don't you come on back to the war, it's just beginning.

Well I live here with a woman and a child,
the situation makes me kind of nervous.
Yes, I rise up from her arms, she says "I guess you call this love";
I call it service.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be a tourist,
why don't you come on back to the war, before it hurts us,
why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get nervous.

You cannot stand what I've become,
you much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,
I didn't even know there was a war.

Why don't you come on back to the war, don't be embarrassed,
why don't you come on back to the war, you can still get married.

There is a war between the rich and poor,
a war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
a war between the black and white,
a war between the odd and the even.

Why don't you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,
why don't you come on back to the war, let's all get even,
why don't you come on back to the war, can't you hear me speaking?

III. I look around. I really look. I have been looking for 55 years. I see war. Not war in the way you are likely thinking - not the War in Iraq, or the American Civil War, or the other wars in the history books. I see war, strife, conflict, nature eating herself. It is everywhere. My body contains antibodies fighting off 'bad' cells. Politicians and religionists have always fought over ideas. Those who are opposed to war, war against war itself. My mind wars when I am awake and when I dream. The earth clashes with itself as continents crash together, the heavenly bodies collide, waves smash into the shore, birds oppose gravity, fish swim upstream; and here I am, struggling with all of my might to find a way to discover something other than war. This is not pessimism, but submission. My fist finds fingers resisting palm when it clenches, lower teeth clash with upper teeth to chew, gastro intestinal juices destroy bits of food and my heart beats to push blood through veins that fight to keep from bursting open, as my lungs fight against expansion and my thoughts seek opposing ideas as naturally as the sun dissolves the snow. The Lion throttles the Gazelle, every myth juxtaposes Heaven and Hell, and when you are impressed by the performer, you smash palm against palm to let them know you care. Even applause arises from strife.

What do I do with war? Do I try to make peace with war, or embrace it as Nature's Way? There is no escape. If I surrender to war like Nietzsche, I go insane; if I oppose war like Ghandi, I am slaughtered. They say that even atoms are a whirling cacophony of passion. Violence. Interesting word. The lips of lovers crash together, as if to devour the object of love; limbs grope and crush bodies. People ‘fall in love,’ implying an eventual splat when they meet the ground. The penis stiffens, surges, presses and violates the labial fortress which opens willingly, or not, and the sperm are launched in D-Day fashion to assail the walled ovum - a siege of force against force, willful penetration that life may continue.

"War is the father of all." Tonight, I surrender to the father, War. I sit, and wonder - how did my boy die? Did he fall on his face, side, or back after he was shot? Did his throat rattle as the last breath exited his lungs? Did he cry out, or was he silent? Did his organs fall out onto the ground? Did they have to push his heart, spleen and lungs back inside of his body, or scoop them into a plastic bag? Was their dirt in his open mouth, or gravel pressed into his still supple cheek? Did he twitch as he died, or fall limp like the cow I saw shot between the eyes in Montana? Did he have time to think at all as his life left that body? Did he hurt? Did he regret? Did he have a last word for me, or his mother, or his sisters, or his God, or for War? There must be particles of his blood, and bits of his flesh, begotten of my blood, mixed in the dry dirt there in the Korengal Valley - walked over, co-mingled, a part of the sun-baked land forever. Will children play on that spot? Will a home or road be built over his blood one day? Macabre? Do you think? Are these horrible questions, forbidden thoughts? No, they are not. Don't try to comfort me. I am not discomfited now, I am addressing the father of all, the War behind all creation. After all, the flesh decays, decomposes, rots and becomes star dust once again. I do not know how the stars became my Jason, my dazzling little boy - how he emerged from that original Big Bang, or where he goes after the Bang has been sucked into a dark and final cosmic vortex. I can Imagine, however. I can Imagine the eternal strand of existence streaming from...well, streaming forth. And I do want to see the fountainhead, to see if there can be any Thing without war. But not tonight – I shall have to settle for a conclusion I curiously do not want to settle for, that “War is the father of all.” And the only hope I derive, is that something in me does not want it to be that way. My mind and heart battle to find a way out of war.

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