Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Mind/Body Problem

Once upon a time I ingested some funny cacti and found myself engaged in an odd sort of meditative exploration of my own body--not a visual or tactile exploration, mind you, but a phenomonological exploration of the interaction between mind and body. I was looking close-up through my fingers at strange blurry heat-mirage images near the borders of my skin, and recalled that I used to do that as a very small child, when I was trying to learn the boundaries of Self and World. Now I'd like to un-learn them!

But anyhow, I was concentrating on a recurring pain in my back and trying to figure out what caused it. Suddenly I was scrunched up uncomfortably in the womb, and thought "Man, I was wrenched around with tension back then?", and the next thing I knew I was impaled on two crossing spears at the intersection of a road outside a crummy Nordic village. It was cold. A long string of similar images from unimaginably distant pasts unrolled for a long time, and then I learned that each organ--each cell, in fact--in our bodies has its own rudimentary consciousness, its own wants, desires, needs, its own memories and access to the collective unconscious. We store hatred and negativity in our very tissues. The organs act out and we get moody and don't know the cause. 'Primitives' of the Middle Ages weren't far off with their associations of humours with organs, I realized (and I take mescaline 'realizations' with a grain of salt); neither were the Chinese medical traditions, nor the Chakra associations with organs.

Fussy babies get their moodiness from physical manifestations, conflicting needs, unclear messages--we learn to repress that stuff for the most part as adults, with mixed results. Yesterday I was in a black mood unaccountably, and wanted to smash things. Whence this rash anger? Consciously I felt fine, and knew I was being ridiculous. Was it the body? Were my kidneys aggravated? Was my liver livid?

I once had a dream a crab was biting my shoulder on a sandy beach under a white-hot sun. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with melanoma at that exact spot, and I remembered that forgotten dream at the time with a shudder. Were those cells sending me a signal? Or did I spontaneously create the memory of that dream when doc Hartig said "malignant"? Or am I making all this shit up now to confound you?


Seth Anderson said...

Umm no comment.

Though, our healthy cat was pouncing on our now-deceased cat's kidney area, hissing at it, and batting with her paw. Perhaps there was some perceptive understanding, or perhaps we just added our own layer of understanding to the situation.

I do wish Leary and his ilk hadn't pissed in the legal pond and ruined the study of ethnobotany for the rest of us, a nice weekend retreat with certain plant substances would be great right about now.

geoff said...

Some would choose to call your cat's behavior 'pathetic fallacy'; at one time I'd have been sure to. Now I'm less convinced I know anything for sure.

There are legal cacti with high mesc. content available all over the US--my local florist, in fact, carries San Pedro--but one must never ingest them or prepare them for ingestion in any way, because doing so is illegal. I'm sure there are current Learys working on ruining the availability (as ornamentals only, of course) of these plants for the rest of us.

Seth Anderson said...

interesting, I'll have to see if any of these ornamentals are available near here. For my buildings public garden, of course.