Sunday, June 04, 2006

The body in the context

 We are irresistibly drawn to the frontier that is what we said in the introduction. But at the frontier, is there a decay of the body? If so, then what is body?

The body, this individual and living ‘I’, is a monstrous multiplicity of breathing and self nourishing individuals, which, through organic conformation and adaptation to special ends, had parted to such an extent with their essential individuality, their freedom and living immediacy, had so much become limited to sensibility toward light, sound, contact, warmth; others only understood how to change their shape or produce digestive secretions though contractions; others again developed and functioned to no other end than protection, support, the conveyance of the body juice, or reproduction.

The act of fructification, the sexual merging of two cell bodies, stood at the beginning of the up building of the every multiple celled individuals, as it did at the beginning of every row of generation of single elementary forms, and led back to itself. Such was the multiple state of life, sprung from the union of two parent cells, the association of many non-sexually originated generations of cell units; its growth meant its their increase, and the generative circle came to fall again when sex-cells, specially developed elements for the purpose of reproduction, had established themselves and found the way to new mingling that strove life on afresh. “ Thus, by the very rhythm of its development, each line of life follows a process of alternate contraction and expansion. It takes on the appearance of a series of knots and bulges, stung like beads, a sequence of narrow peduncles and spreading leaves.”

The more we study matter the less we see as fundamental, the more we perceive it as merely the extremity of energy, as our flesh is the outward sign of life and mind. “ In respect to action physics has tan the bit in her teeth and has insisted on recognizing this as the most fundamental thing of all,” says Eddington. A Hindu physicist, sir Jagadhish Chandra Bose has shown the fatigue in metals- their inability to continue the normal reaction to certain agents beyond a certain time- and the disappearance of the fatigue after rest; and he has demonstrated the sensitivity of materials to excitants, depressants, and poisons. These experiments have been repeated and verified on three continents. The expression ‘ life of the matter’ meaningless twenty-five years ago, has come in to common use. “We now see physicist and chemist groping after biological idea; the extension of biological ideas to the whole of Nature may be much nearer than seemed conceivable even a few years ago.”We hear the ‘evolution of the matter’: the atom, it seems, is born, develops, loses its vitality, and dies.

This modern physics of energy invites us to reformulate the old problem of materialism vs. spiritualism. Which aspect of the external world is more fundamental- the spatial, extend aspect, which physics defined as ‘matter’, or the activating, moving aspect, which we name energy? Is this energy itself a spatial and extended thing, a material substance? We cannot conceive it so., any more than the we can conceive thought be spatial and material. In the heart of matter, giving it form and power, is something not material, possessed of it is own spontaneity and live; and this subtle, hidden and yet always revealed vitality is he final essence of everything that we know.

What then is life of the body? It is warmth, the warmth generated by a form preserving instability, a fever of matter, which accompanied the process of ceaseless decay and repair if albumen molecules that were too impossibly complicated, too impossibly ingenious in structure. It was the existence of the actually impossible to exist, of a half sweet, half painful balancing, in this restricted and feverish process of decay and renewal, upon the point of existence. It was not matter and it was not spirit, but something between the two, a phenomenon conveyed by matter, like the rainbow on the waterfall, and like the flame. Yet why not material? It was sentient to the point of desire and disgust, the shamelessness of matter become sensible to itself, the incontinent form of being. It was a secret and ardent staring in the frozen chastity of the universe: it was stolen and voluptuous impurity of sucking and secreting: an escalation of carbonic acid gas and material impurities of mysterious origin and a composition. It was a pollution, an unfolding, a form building of something brewed out of water, albumen salt and fats which is called flesh, and which became form, beauty, a lofty image and yet all the time thee essence of sensuality and desire. For this beauty and beauty were not spirits borne; nor, like the beauty and form of the sculpture, conveyed by a neutral and spirit consumed substance, which could in all purity make beauty perceptible to the sense. Rather was it conveyed and shaped by the somehow awakened voluptuousness of matter, of the organic, dying-living substance itself, the reeking flesh.



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