Monday, October 17, 2005

The taste of hierophany

"What's clarity like?
Try to remember that funny feeling inside your head when you had math
problems too difficult to solve: the faint buzzing noise in your ears, a
heaviness on both sides of your skull, and the sensation that your brain is
twitching inside your cranium like a fish on the beach. This is the opposite
sensation of clarity. Yet for many people of my era, as they aged, this
sensation became the dominant sensation of their lives. It was as though
day-to-day twentieth century living had become an almost unsolvable algebraic equation. This is why Richard drank. This is why my old friends used to spend
their lives getting blitzed on everything from cough syrup to crystal meth.
Anything to make that sloggy buzz make a retreat."

- Jared in Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland.

Once more, Coupland has sent my mind reeling. He sets something off in me that equally feeds me and makes me want to scream in frustration, because I feel on the verge of seeing the mystery of life with that clarity, but the buzz in my mind is too loud. This is the reason why I wrote my dissertation on him. This is exactly how I feel. This is why I am into mysticism rather than pure theology-by-the-book. This is what I think is behind the bible verse of 1 Corinthians 13:12: "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
This clarity is what I have so rarely, for just a few seconds, but it makes me realise that the search is not in vain.
This is what happens sometimes when I drink. This is why I drink before exams. This is why one of my friends said he does drugs - to enable him to understand things he otherwise couldn't. It clears my mind by killing the buzz, by straightening out the thoughts that are wildly tangled in my head, into coherence.

Sometimes I feel that all the answers to life are in my head already, but they are a tangled-up mess I cannot make sense of to save my life, that I cannot get undone. I only see scraps and pieces that reveal merely that they are part of something greater, but I am missing too many pieces to see or even guess the whole thing, and even if I had them all, I would spend a lifetime - hell, a billion lifetimes - putting them together, into the one big epiphany that only God has the mental capacity for. It drives me nuts, I feel I can figure it out if I just think hard enough, think long enough, until it makes my head hurt.

It will be so multi-layered, so complex and yet so simple, a knowledge that is in all of us already, but that we have lost growing up. It will be so simple that we will slap our foreheads and go "of course!" (or "DUH!" in valley girl talk).

Yet - no simple answers, when in writing, suffice. The truth is not theory, and cannot be reduced to an axiom on paper. The truth can only come via life, alive. Simple textbook answers only frustrate. The answers are simple when they reveal themselves to you, but mindblowingly complex when you try to write them down.
It would be like trying to write EVERYTHING. Everything there is. In a way that makes it all fit together.
Coupland strikes that chord with me, he makes me feel like what I feel is real, is an almost collective experience of sensing the truth, faint but real, like a far distant, barely audible hum.
He may not give me answers. But he keeps making me look. He is a priest of and to my kind.

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