Holy Bones, Part II: Reading the Entrails • 31 July 2007

I mentioned over a week ago in this space that I would write out my dark night of the sacrum in the next posts. Interesting how the commitment has clammed me right up.

There is avoidance here, a wish to be able to speak of the thing in the past tense. And there’s also a hesitancy to “own” the thing. I don’t want to identify with it—and that’s for the better—but I also have a fear of granting that it is inside of me. That, in a sense, it owns me.

Ooh but we can be superstitious about our pains. I am looking for a way to face this that isn’t in the form of complaining but that also doesn’t dive hopelessly into pain-interpretation. Because it is possible to read the pain patterns with all the misplaced sincerity that a shaman reads chicken entrails.

I’m all for interpreting my entrails, but not as if they contain a big scary-serious message from the beyond. And on the other hand, I’m all for expressing that I’ve been stuck, but have a childhood-engrained disgust for whining that sometimes gets my tongue.

Meantime, groping about for honesty, here I am, talking about this “injury,” this “shifting,” this dark night of more than just the sacrum, as a “thing.” Interesting.

We are always creating objects. What’s up with that?

It’s ok on some level—completely ok. We objectify as part of the process of transcendence. It’s only nasty to objectify the wrong stuff, like the beings we’d do better to treat as subjects. But yes, we do turn processes into things. Sociology and Buddhism both criticize this rigorously: Sociology in the critique of reification (which grew out of Marx’s “fetishization of commodities,” through the Frankfurt school’s cultural nonsense and into the critical work of my hero Bourdieu), and Buddhism in the injunction not to treat feelings or processes as if they were “solid” when truly they are fleeting. Both disciplines are always on the watch for what Whitehead called the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. This is part of why I feel at home (albeit on the margins of) both.

But sometimes there’s a place for concreteness. I’ve been excited this week about Hegel, the original owl-of-minerva curmudgeon who I never really understood. His theory of history, which I’m now learning is uncannily adaptable outside of western philosophy, is the “phenomenology of spirit.” Shit. What? Long story.

Basically, it’s something about how in the process of growing up and out—in the process of becoming our ultimate essence—we step up out of (Wilberspeak: “transcend and include”) certain stages. And then turn back and regard those stages as somewhat concrete, done-over-and-wrapped-up, elements of ourselves.

Maybe this is obtuse. But I’m caught in a liminal space here, between being wordlessly inside a process and being able to stand outside it and mark off its boundaries in words.

I will keep trying… even as I keep falling on my face in UKK-C. (A chicken pose, no less….) I plan on making it there eventually.