October 2023

The Goddess as Active Listener

Brian George

Paul Delvaux, The Temple, 1949

When I was first introduced to my wife, I told her that I had always missed her but had never realized it until we finally met. She was present as a kind of pregnant absence. I was aware on some alternate level of the self of a kind of negative space, like the shape of a missing puzzle part, to which her image corresponded. Shape would one day fit itself into corresponding shape to complete the occult structure. We might certainly wish that this process were more foolproof than it is, that so many things could not potentially go wrong, and yet, in its own wonderfully slipshod way, this tendency of linked fragments to reassemble themselves into an image sometimes takes us where we need to go.

Are we meant to have certain experiences? Are we meant to connect with certain people rather than with others? At a multidimensional intersection—at a 19th Century train station as designed by Giorgio de Chirico, let's say, where the newly arriving and newly departed search for their respective tracks—it is possible to see how precarious forces constellate, not always to our advantage. You would think that each soul might choose the simplest path, so that joy would feed on joy. Why would we choose to live in exile, far from our own coast, to be stepped on, starved, and deceived? It should not be so difficult to return to the Satya Yuga. Nonetheless, it is. We break what we love. We then yearn for what we broke. Habit is not harmony. Safety is an illusion of the microcosm. With their eyes that never close, the seers of the World Maritime Empire watch.

Ernst Fuchs, Penna Vulcana, 1973

Listen, and I will whisper in your ear. Perhaps earth-shattering events happen every day around you, more or less invisibly, as you brush past in your haste to buy a donut. A catastrophe that occurred in 9800 BC is only just now informing you of the whereabouts of your heart. After so much time it has decided to return, again to advocate for its role as the seat of true intelligence. If you do not stop the world, for just a moment, to talk to the stranger standing next to you, you may have thrown away your one and only chance to meet that significant Other. But where was the music of the occluded sphere hiding, and why did love's messengers take so long to appear? No doubt you are bad.

The more romantic among us are used to thinking that there may be one true soul-mate for each person. It is less common to imagine that friends or teachers may also play such central roles. How many of these are there? No more than a small handful. They may do no more than acknowledge what you are, but without them, somehow, you would not be you. In the staircase of your DNA, there are certain friends who wait on certain landings. At the Institute of Interplanetary Forms, a bird has programmed an encounter with a teacher. "Real" events are later tweaked to correspond. Such collisions have about them a great sense of uncanniness; the world has changed, and it is not possible to return to your earlier and simpler view of existence. Certain bits of information had been stored in your
subconscious. If these were not meant to stay hidden, why would they have been put there? Why should this Mongol invader have access to what you cannot touch yourself? A kind of right to left reversal has occurred. Your mode of vision has been altered.

Once, let's say, you despaired of ever meeting a teacher who could see you. Then, through no effort on your part, such a teacher is just there. In retrospect, this meeting will no doubt seem inevitable, the most natural thing in the world. At the same time, you must study how the opposite is true: such a meeting should be seen as an "opus contra naturam," as an alchemical "work against nature," as the reverse engineering of a series of wrong turns, as the deconstruction of a badly deconstructed text. How do you know when a bird has programmed a key meeting? You know because the meeting should not have taken place at all.

"Aha!" you exclaim, and then breathe a sigh of relief. What a gift it is to have found a teacher you could love. A day or a year later, you are forced to read through the person to the presence just beyond, to a presence you suspect might see your every flaw, to a presence still sympathetic but also more demanding. Why had it seemed like a good idea to be seen and heard and understood? Was not anonymity far preferable? Was it not much better to let the centuries slide past, to categorize your visions as a quirk of biochemistry? The seers of the World Maritime Empire had once given you a thread. Their lines of transmission: disrupted by a comet. This presence demands to know if the thread they gave you has been cut.

The person hands you a copy of Par Lagerkvist's The Sybil. The presence reaches into the center of your skull, where the pineal gland is located, massaging it in such a way that it almost stops your heart. The person reassures, but the presence regrets to inform you that all your nightmares must hatch out, that your mind is an unopened oyster, that no one seems to have bothered to teach you how to breathe. There are, it seems, valid reasons for your enemies to hate you. Oh, and by the way, some two-thirds of what you take to be your good habits are a joke. The seers of the World Maritime Empire shake their heads. They had hoped for more. Who will take care of the web of underwater ports? Who will mourn for the primal culture? Turning their backs to you, they sigh. It hurts them more than you to outsource your correction. The noseless clerks of the Sitra Achra
tremble, weak with excitement, unsure which mishap or mutilation should come next.

Somehow, you have met those you should meet. Each meeting leads to another. The known leads to the unknown; the unknown leads to the half -remembered. Do those special people remind you of someone in your past , or do they remind you, much more strangely, of themselves? When you encounter a person who is meant to be important, it can expose a need
that, until then, you did not consciously know to exist. The ache you felt but did not know that you felt becomes somehow pleasurable in becoming more acute. There is nowhere left to hide. There is no need to avoid the pain that has tied a knot in your solar plexus, a knot that is as inscrutable as it is essential to your being.

Victor Brauner, Matriarcat, 1947

Yes, "mistakes were made," as the hoard of your nameless accusers has suggested. By accident, no doubt, you have killed those whom you loved. You have burnt the books you wrote. You have double-crossed those causes for which you vowed to give your life. This has led to some degree of paranoia. You have learned to assume the worst about those who have come to teach you. Why else should you be so terrified? Why else should you fear the chanting that now streams from the horizon?

Your error was not the atrocity itself but rather your refusal to see the action clearly. "What do we have here?" a kind but terrifying presence asks, a slight smile on her lips. She has come from a distant place to stand a few feet in front of you. As a finger points to a wound, there is no reason to be embarrassed. A touch sets the healing sap in motion. One simple look communicates the lost history of an era, reversing the great wheel of devolution and freeing you from the crimes of the last 52,000 years. Green buds open on the derelict branch. Hallucinatory blossoms are not long in arriving. Messengers bring fruit from a tree already old when the first Earth had contracted from a dream. 


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Brian George is the author of two books of essays and four books of poetry. His book of essays Masks of Origin: Regression in the Service of Omnipotence has just been published by Untimely Books at
https://untimelybooks.com/book/masks-of-origin. He has recently reactivated his blog, also called Masks of Origin at https://masksoforigin.blogspot.com/. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art, an exhibited artist and former teacher. He often tells people first discovering his work that his goal is not so much to be read as to be reread, and then lived with.
For more of his writings in Scene4, check the Archives.

©2023 Brian George
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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