Thursday, July 17, 2008

Closer Than Touch

At times, I feel that no matter how close I get to what I want, it's just not close enough. Closeness seems to long for its completion in touch. But if touch is indeed the limit of closeness, then it follows that touching is what also destroys the feeling of closeness. There is closeness as long as there is distance, and the closer you get, the heavier is the burden of the distance left to be crossed. Physical space is the expression of metaphysical estrangement.

There is no real, physical space between you and what is rightfully yours, because what is owned can neither be explored nor conquered. I, of myself, can know nothing about me. This is why otherness is so important, because only what is truly foreign to us (metaphysically) can mirror back to us our real self. Otherwise, in the absence of otherness, the only self-image we may get about ourselves will be a narcissistic one, that is, the visible, knowable part of who we are. But our real self, contrary to an image, cannot be captured, manipulated or used in any way. Not of our own will, in any way, because an "other" can always do that.

But so much about space. Space is a very unfortunate invention, because there is "space" even where there is no actual space left, such as in touch. Far from completely eliminating space, touching actually opens up a new kind of space--a metaphysical one. And metaphysical space feels heavier and much harder to overcome than physical space.

Metaphysics is what separates me from myself, or who I really am from the pitfalls of my mere image (that is, from who I think myself to be). Once the touch shortcuts closeness, a whole new metaphysical dimension rises to the horizon of being, and one is left to contemplate this new "space" introduced by the appropriating effect of touch. Touching something means to make it yours, to appropriate it not only physically, but also with its entire metaphysical depth. Thus, once something is touched and the distance separating you from it is gone, another kind of "distance" sets in. When something is being touched (and felt, physically) it becomes a conquered territory, over which you no longer have any power because it becomes a part of you, as in a sort of metaphysical assimilation. While there still is a physical distance left (keeping you a formally separate entity), there is also a feeling of connectedness, which vanishes (or begins to die) as soon as the barrier of touch has been crossed.

We can only conquer what we have first desired, but then this means that it was the object of our very desire that had conquered us first, by seduction. One can only desire to have that which in fact already "has" him caught and seduced.

This is why sex is the ultimate gratification--because it rids one (at least for a moment) from the heavy burden of self. The most difficult thing in the world is to live justly with yourself, and to bear the consequences of your own actions instead of trying to run away from them. Therefore, people "give" themselves one to another, carelessly or with an interest in mind, but only in sex does one escape from himself completely. Sex obscures, shades or completely obturates one's metaphysical idiosyncrasies and sense of alienation. One the one hand, this metaphysical inadequation to who we are is essential for living; on the other hand, it is what makes life impossile. This is the double bind, which sex seems to be able to overcome (even though in illusion).

What makes two people interested in each other (sexually attracted and aroused) is not the glow of pure affection, which is the expression of sympathy for what is recognized as yours, known, or friendly (and, indeed, affectionate feelings are not conducive to sexual behavior but rather to unconditional loyalty); instead, sex unites disaffected people, and sexual satisfaction increases when there is a matching degree of disaffection, thus gradually making room for jealousy and possessiveness in the relationship. During sex, space and distance become extinct by way of touching, but in fact what has come together as one has no chance of lasting, because touch brings closeness to an end. Closer than close is impossibile, except as an illusion, while in the realm of illusion possibility can only be simulated.

The same things said about space can also be said about time. After all, time is just another kind of space, even though it is a special one--the space of our lives. What touch does to the distance, being on time does to time. If one comes on time for a meeting, he necessarily misses it, because in order to "meet" your destiny you must not be present to it. If you are early, you may only hope that destiny will be late, so that you can meet it somewhere outside its borders, without even counting on it happening.

For me, it is a bit too late. And I can only hope that, somehow, my being late will have happened too early.

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