Saturday, 10 January 2009

Love, sex, death and lost time

So tired this evening.

Your subjective experience of time definitely changes as you get older: for the general, shared wisdom is: as you get older, time seems to go faster.

The cynical, and obvious - and also, incidentally, materialistic - answer to this would be the following: as we get older, and accumulate an ever increasing store of experience, less and less events in daily life that are either new or remarkable. We build less new [unique] memories. Hence, correspondingly, what is reminiscent, what, if you will, forms the barometer of time, each year, has less new material. Each year becomes less distinctive and less substantial.

The less obvious and more profound observation is the increasing realisation that time is merely an inner perception: that as we decline and deteriorate in the material sphere, so we grow and expand into the spiritual sphere. The spiritual dimension is temporally unbounded.

For yet, without getting to bogged down in technical details, it is precisely our transcendental awareness of the infinite beyond time, the infinite beyond any finite form, that provides the rule whereby we are able to identify pattern, identify recurring forms, identify structures, and thus make the world intelligible to some degree.

So in my life, the years now are noticeably disappearing: I may only be 27, yet I now have a sense of the overall progression of my life. I have now got, in a way that I didn't really have, say 10, 5, or even 2-3 years ago, what Heidegger described as a "being towards death". This "being-towards-death" was part of dasein - being. In other words, death isn't merely some concept you acquire whereby you intellectually realise your existence is necessarily finite and bounded, and will end: rather, the very awareness of death - even if relatively faint, in the elixir of youth - is nevertheless something always present in your psyche, in your being: you carry death with you. This presents an existential gravity.

Sometimes, in depressive states, this awareness almost becomes a neurosis for me. It is not that I am afraid of death, any more or less than any other typical person. Rather, it is a sense of time "running out" as I strive to seek the sort of experiences that I feel are missing from my life. Nowhere is this conflict more acute than with thoughts over sex. And this is entirely logical: for death and sex are intrinsically linked, completing a great cycle of creation and destruction. 

If we view loving sexual union as the point at which one is most perfectly harmonised, and most acutely actualising the physical dimension, so necessarily, is the logical counterpart to this death, as the point of the dissolution of the physical into not-physical, that which is the greatest actualisation of the spiritual principle. And so they connect, and at their apex they become one. Hence, why, it is precisely at this moment that one has the least perception of time, to the point where it almost does not exist, briefly. Also, why, philosophically, the French describe the orgasm as "le petite mort".

Whilst sex is the most acute example of the above, it occurs in infinitely other forms, if not, ultimately, with quite the same intensity. That is: whatever absorbs you, takes you "out of time" because it connects you with that which is beyond-you; it is from this beyond that we ultimately derive everything that gives us meaning.

So, to transpose the above into more general terms, I can say: "running out of time" for me is the state of spending too much of my life merely "in time". I flatten my existence when I do not give my being the opportunity to go beyond itself. I deny it the chance to "reach up to the gods".

Hence why modern life is often so crushing: the life of a modern office worker, chained to a PC for 8 hours a day, constantly monitoring a regulated "time", performing an activity that for virtualy every second claims a certain ownership to their existence by continually denying their awareness the opportunity of internal freedom through its enforced repetitive low-level mental tasks. Mentally escaping with awareness, during the allotted work hours, is therefore hard.

Note that this type of enforced mental state is drastically different from the type of Zen like awareness that is available when doing a repetitive, almost automatic, inherently physical task - such as sweeping leaves away off a path. This is sufficiently instinctual that it allows a clean structure within which an awareness can grow; the office drone is more akin to being trapped in a vast thicket of thorny bushes.

Sleepiness, fatigue and exhaustion are also highly conducive to inducing this awareness (like this evening, as I write this).

I don't - fortunately - have a the life of an office drone. I have done work such as this before, and detested it.

Nevertheless, I do feel that time is increasingly running out in terms of finding moments of clear awareness. Perhaps most significantly, the lack of any special person in my day to day life means that I have no one to share in this awareness. This is also perhaps suggestive of the link between sex and companionship. The relationship between them is that, properly arranged, they both partake of a shared awareness, and that having that "someone" in your life, means, on a metaphorical but also somewhat literal level, that you are constantly effectively having sex: even when, for the vast majority of the actual measured time you are "together", you are physically not (and indeed, not even physically present in the same space), of course. For they are "there" even when they are not "there", and you can effectively make something permanent beyond any particular sense of time. It remains for your lifetime - present. Love could perhaps be described as an ongoing sense of shared always present awareness between two people. That, which necessarily, precisely requires no explication in words, for it is already understood.

On a lesser level, we continually seek connections with other humans to experience this shared awareness. Fortunately this can still happen (and often with just as much, sometimes greater, intensity) in a huge variety of indirect forms: the written word, music, poetry, a history. Or somebodys blog.

I suppose I am being rather obscure in all of the above, but I am trying to release a flood of thoughts into a stream of consciousness to get it down, rather than try to form an entirely coherent body of thought.

I am making my own "time" beyond time - so for a while, at least briefly, I am not running short.


Indyeah said...

Hey! You are just 27...why so deep in thought about such things?I am just about a year younger and I have to see many more things,experience life,open my eyes ,my heart,my mind and just breathe....Infact ,I would differ with you and say that as we grow progressively older we have more 'unique'/'new' memories...:).because as magical as childhood was for most of us,the exact meaning of things that we saw/experienced must have escaped us right?We saw things with an uncluttered mind and an open heart.There was no one to say the sky shouldn't be pink or purple or any colour that we wanted...but still the whole meaning escaped us..

Infact, as one grows older one just begins to realize the magnitude of this world..the things one has not seen..experiences one has not been through....And I see that you are realizing this..good..great!

Anyway in all honesty ,I have to say that some things on your 'intense and complex post have just escaped me...:)

''The less obvious and more profound observation is the increasing realisation that time is merely an inner perception: that as we decline and deteriorate in the material sphere, so we grow and expand into the spiritual sphere. The spiritual dimension is temporally unbounded.''

Hope you have a beautiful year and wonderful soul stirring realizations and experiences...:)

Aren O. Týr said...

I think that we can certainly say that regardless of whether or not the number of unique or new memories declines as we get older, depending on our life circumstances, we can say that our experience of them deepens in proportion to our development.

As you say, as we grow older we do begin to realise the staggering magnitude of this world and everything in it... the range of experiences... the infinite colours of the world.

This is both a source of joy or sorrow, depending on whether you are getting those experiences, or alternatively, fully aware of those that are being denied.

And thank you, I wish you an inspirational 2009 and I hope that this one might be one where I finally find what I've been looking for, by actually knowing what to look for... :-)