Adventures in Concept Formation: The Will, Part II • 22 February 2008

Headache yesterday. I got all dramatic about it too, after it made me throw up and gave me the chills. So wrapped-up in it, in contrast to the big one last August on Vipassana retreat, when I could just drain some of the ownership and anger off the sensation and watch it go in on my brain. Best meditation fireworks ever, that migraine (not that I go chasing spooks, but it’s nice to get transported unexpectedly).

Not this time. Yesterday, it just made me mad. Today, my actual brain was cavernous, damp and hollow like your sinuses after you get caught in the undertow for one too many revolutions. As I continue to recover now, it’s nice to have things slowed down a bit—takes some of the reactive, reaching edge off the usual spitfire. 

Punchdrunk; hanged woman; post-traumatic aporia. Good time for adventures in concept formation. So, as I was saying: The Will?

This section can bring a certain hardness for some women,  

–he said to me this morning, after he laid down the dreaded EPB and I shrugged and haltingly, gracelessly took it up. 

Hardness? My traps are mangled enough already. Let’s go back to stretching. I’m better at the surrender thing.

Monday night, the dispatch from the ashtanga field office came in—Patrick calling in with emergency concept-formation guidance. Get over the spectacle of defiance that poses as will, he said. That’s only a shadow of “will surging up from the full body of the earth,” the whole creative force in bloom that the angsty teenager cannot even fathom.  

Ok. Wow. Yes. Moving forward, I’d jettison not only the petty "strong willed children" but for that matter Nietzsche and his miserabilist twin Schopenhauer. But maybe not so fast with wonderful, lovey old Fred. Here’s on hardness and will and creative energy, from Also Sprach Zarathustra:

“Why so hard?!” said the charcoal one day to the diamond. “Are we then not near relatives?”

Why so soft? O my brethren; thus do I ask you… Why so soft, so submissive and yielding? Why is there so much negation and abnegation in your hearts? Why is there so little fate in your looks?

And if ye will not be fates and inexorable ones, how can ye one day— conquer with me? And if your hardness will not glance and cut and chip to pieces, how can ye one day—create with me? For the creators are hard.

And blessedness must it seem to you to press your hand upon millenniums as upon wax—blessedness to write upon the will of millenniums as upon brass…This new table, O my brethren, put I up over you: BECOME HARD!

Honestly, this is just about as appealing to me right now as EPB:  i.e., not appealing at all. But why not?

It’s only obnoxious if I’m still conceiving will as adolescent, instead of as the cosmic backgrounding of Svatmarama and the yogis—the will that is beyond rationality (which Schopenhauer understood beautifully), which is contained within surrender; the will that gathers up and holds your surrender so it doesn’t dissipate into nothing but rather is directed…, and contained…, and ultimately quieted.

Nietzsche tried to talk about this a century ago, and people misunderstand him now as some egoic fascist. But I feel strongly that he was only trying to articulate the energy that, it seems, killed him, because he harnessed it without quite understanding its gestalt. Even though he’s so close here with the diamond and charcoal: creativity that is receptive, will that is beyond personality. If his western mind lost the reigns of the will some days (even though on others the will he described was so far beyond his own personal action), I’ve little chance for doing any better, for now.

I have no will to become hard. But the whole thing about this yoga stuff is that it blurs the location and ontology of the “I”—of the doer of all this very specific crazy shit. Will? Hell, I am too inside and given over to this thing to stop. So if outwardly for a little while it brings creativity and strength and even hardness to the fore, what can I do?