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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

What is implicit in the configuration of Megapolis (Megalopolis?), in regards to the body-at least in the portions that we saw--is the belief that the soul, for many but not for all, is tied to the usages of the body. There can be vibrancy in the underworld, as shown by the main character’s love interest, as there can be emptiness in heaven---but in general, we see, the body’s freedom or its lack is the limiting factor for the soul’s emotional size.

In our own world, we do not have so clear a stratification as the pit and the above world, but nevertheless, we have certainly arrived from vast varieties of places, and it is worth wondering what imprint upon body and soul accrues from these unique experiences.

Let’s broaden the question. What does it mean that bodies, humans, interacting in mutually shared space come from homes of different configuration?

A human’s first home is native, but all other homes are assumed or created. This does not mean they will be artistically or professionally chosen. The half-hidden things they carry, hope for and believe, color what one desires and correspondingly what one gets. What one has been led to want figures very prominently here. This person is just as capable of choosing poorly, for choosing consciously, as one is likely to be unlucky in birth.

Nevertheless, there is nothing approaching a brother or sister in the received world. Liked or unlike, it’s a peculiarity of lived experience that the most native bonds to us, the ones which the scientist in the infant must look at and imagine as the way of the world, between peers, is the one least possible to forge deliberately. The a priori fails him, a disappointingly disjunctive experience for the impressionable, but a lesson wisely learned.

It is inappropriate to suppose that we, as adults, are missing something natural to humanity. There is nothing to suggest there is anything natural to humanity, except perhaps religion which, while disputed at each detail does seem somehow to become universal. Human has not been proved to have habits. If we do not have brothers and sisters when we grow up—they, like a God our culture has that we ignore—this is the world we live in.

More importantly, it is what we habituate to. Alienation does not appear to be a false concern, but it is possible that it is closer to the nostalgia one has for childhood than that which one has for physical place, uncolored memory.

Phenomena are never without meaning, and I don’t mean to suggest that. What I do mean to suggest is that our relationship with what is real is the one indispensable concept even despite our inability to understand, divide, or unpack it. We certainly do not always fail. We must however refuse to confuse our undeniable inability to process all the datum which compose the human experience, and so produce accurate renderings of the human experience with our inability to appropriately be humans—an enclosure in which failure is impossible.

This is the domain of the body, a sensing organ. If we were dualists, we could believe that while the mind prowls uncertain pathways, it does so under the powerful influence of an animal whose active collection of sensory input, the shadow space, far exceeds the former’s ability to understand that of which it is a part. One motions to the old dueler’s notion that, as reaction is quicker than apprehension, one is perhaps more likely to live shooting second.

But we are not dualists—or duelists—though notionally, the excess of speed in the animal against the plodding of theorists, who must strain to describe what it is to hold in one’s hand—to have siblings and friends in separate category, to be blessed to gather much of the latter and have only the universe’s allotment of the former, great or small, for good or ill-- is sound.

My proposal here is essentially a statement of the naturalness of existence---a dog who hates rain may well love snow, as a human, who knows somewhere that these are isomorphs, who does not misplace fact amongst experience so much as hold, opposedly, what is and what is known. It is one animal, who thinks and has sin, who problematizes what is as easy as breathing—who has imagined and lives a world brave enough that kinship relations do not define space, after a period of incubation excessive in length.

If we are at odds with ourselves, it is because we have poorly defined natural as “harmonious”—the Greek goddess whose necklace sent the Seven to their death against Thebes, and killed, unsurprisingly, a whole lineage of possessors. The fact of the slight tremor of distance, the verve between heart and mind is neither alienation nor alien. What moves between the notion and the emotion remains ourselves, though it manifests as a stranger. It is, and always has been, natural to be a potent and untidy brew.

There is nothing strange, then, for the incident most peculiar to the intellect--the lack of lesson that initial kinship-bond formation will ever serve, the difference, in all aspects of the lived world, from home space (which should, is the implicit argument, serve as a template, coming to the unformed mind). It is the thing that happens, and we are the things that experience--to be a thing is the least unlikely thing for a human, the most normal experience one can have.

If we were to internalize a notion that bond-forming should be the replica of the first ones one knows, in other words, there would be no time more primed than infancy for that object lesson. Its failure--it's absence in the later world--indicates becoming, the ability to move beyond time's fingerprint, the sudden starting into a wider world which still can teach, still can be learned.