Friday, 26 January 2018

The arrival of Blindness

There is a form of Japanese contemporary dance/theatre/drama called Butoh that must be seen to be believed. This is the most direct way of showing you what the state or emotion that I have given the name ‘Blindness’ is like. The intensity of the pain that causes it is so incendiary, so absolutely unbearable, that it feels as if the continuous lightning of a Tesla coil has burned away everything human about me.

In the formal doctrine of Butoh, this is precisely the state that the dancer must attain in order for the performance to begin.

Perhaps you are familiar with Emily Dickinson’s breathtakingly perfect poem entitled ‘After great pain, a formal Feeling comes’. I strongly suspect the “formal Feeling” she describes is very similar -- if not identical -- to my Blindness. “The Hour of Lead … as Freezing persons, recollect the Snow. First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –”

Yes. That is just about exactly it.

Blindness is a strange state of supernatural whiteness. It is a feeling that is as narcotic as it is complete awareness, and at the same time, an absence of feeling. It makes me feel both cold and alone, but also relieved that there is no pain anymore. The pain is somewhere else. In the past? In another dimension? I don’t know. My ability to cogitate is simultaneously hyperfocussed, in the manner of coherent light, but also completely incapable of encompassing anything that is extraneous to my requirements for survival in the present moment.

It is as if my consciousness has become a white laser which, as anyone with a reasonable understanding of optical physics will know, is a paradoxical impossibility.

Strangely, I feel a streamlined, digital and beautifully seamless enjoyment at not feeling anything. Blindness, the impossibility of white laser, is both pulverising pressure, and utterly transcendent weightlessness. It’s wonderfully liberating; that aspect of it is impossible to deny.

I incorporated this experience into a novel I wrote once, wearing the face of my default public self. I personified it... or to be more precise, I subjected its personified form to apotheosis, and released it into my conceptualisation of Hell through the prism of a longstanding favourite quotation.

“When I'm God, everyone dies.”
-- Marilyn Manson

And while I’m reminiscing, in this exquisite blizzard of pure self-reliance: I retrosuspect that the concluding lines of a poem I wrote in my teens referred to a precursor which has developed, in my fully grown adult self, into the Blindness I coolly enjoy today.

“My heart: glass-clear.
My mind: ice-white.
I’m perfect.
I am Erudite.”

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