Thursday, October 14, 2004

Suffering physical

Ok, so last night after work I got to bed at about 5:30am, only to be woken three hours later not so much by the sound as by the violent shudder of vibrations of our land-lord's jackhammer travelling through the foundations of our house up into the floor-boards, my wooden futon and ultimately my head.

I know that in terms of magnitude or intensity this probably rates as only a comparatively mild form of torture. But it was torture, and that in three ways.

Firstly, it was depriving me of sleep at a time when that was basically all I, that is my body considered as a psycho-physical totality, needed. Secondly it subjected that body of mine to an inescapable rumble, a unity of sonic and tactile vibration which I interpreted, in the context, as pain. Finally it posed me an excruciating riddle. What was I to do? Hope that my land-lord would come to his senses and realise what he was doing? Hope that the job was only a small one, and that my tribulations would soon be over, half-forgotten like a bad dream? Or muster the mental and physical energy required to motivate me to the front door of the house in order to confront the situation?

Waiting did not help. The short bursts of jackhammer rage kept up their periodic assaults, with no sign of the break required that might allow me to lapse back into oblivion. Even the spaces between them were filled by my frustration at what was going on. Who could be so careless as to let their concern with the efficient means to their narrow economic ends distract them from the suffering they were conjuring in the very bodies of their fellow beings? I would tense in anticipation of the next inescapable tremor. Herein seems to lie an aspect which takes human suffering beyond the flux of impressions. Conceptual consciousness raises us out of immanence, allowing us the trembling expectation of what is to come, but also the inkling that things might be different. I think of the animal whose reaction would be so much the blinder, lacking that distance: cowering, or fleeing, or maybe striking out in vain at the nebulous enemy. I shared with it the bodily, somatic nature of suffering which demanded immediate remedy. "Weh spricht: Vergeh!" "Woe saith: Hence! Go!" But superadded to that woe was the dilemma of the sleeper whose only hope of sleep lies in rousing themself more completely to admonish the culprit. This is a suffering of an entirely different kind: to see the action needed, but to be paralysed in the face of it.

" sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
devoutly to be wish'd."


At 10/14/2004 08:30:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very, very well said.

My comments are so helpful always.



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