“A diseased world from which time has been severed is a suffocating breathless world of absolute instance, of infinitesimal nowness where emergence equals eternity and events don’t happen, they just are, frozen in a snapshot of overlapping actualized potentials. It is a deaf vibrancy, a non-acoustic oscillation of matter-strings, a traumatic sensorium, an inhuman regime. It is not anymore a vibrant matter which folded onto a plane produces an unstable map of forces and trajectories, but a stabile instability, a map of the untraceable, the unrepresentable only a sadistic, suicidal thought could try to think. A productive paralysis similar with the “cruel thought” of Antonin Artaud. This collapse of movement and stability, this grounding of the ungroundable would be a world at the limit of thought, without process, a world of contradiction and paradox, of despair and catastrophic reason.”
– Alina Popa, The Second Body and the Multiple Outside (here)
Reading this essay I imagined Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, and Emil Cioran merged in the figure of a lamentation, an almost Rilkean Angel of Annihilation. To imagine a time traveler who can see the static frames of history in stasis, frozen forever in an obscene gesture of pure clarity, the stubborn movements of reality measured not in time but in eternity, the blipscreen of a final cinematic frame that captures the moment between time and eternity just before the screen goes blank forever: a form that is both formless and frozen. Even the spirit of decay is stifled here, in a world where everything has already happened, where time stand’s still and the nothingness that is and the nothing that is not cross distinct light frames into each others gaze. She talks of how in every moment we are about “…to take an intimate shape, to consolidate in a known form, to create the world around us as we know it. There is an immense “fear of being undelimited”, of losing periphery, of falling through the ground. It is the fright of ungroundedness, the horror of being on the brink of the solid.”
In the late sixties and seventies I experimented in the realm of visionary and ecstatic trance and psychedelics, and what she describes of this need of unhoming, of derealization, of the destabilization of identity and the brain’s hard-wired defenses against the pressure of too much reality was central both to the poetics of those like the decadents from Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Artaud, on up to our time… and, in such deterritorialized experiments in biochemical self-obliteration, a derangement of the senses, that I managed to both survive and continue in other ways up till now. I came away from these experiments with a sense of reality more open and horrendous than we are usually able to frame in our structured consciousness; yet, knowing that around us is a realm of pure indifference and impersonalism opens one’s thoughts to other possibilities and potentials from that point on.
Finally she tells us that what we seek is an Outside that no longer coalesces into this form, this body, but by way of metamorphosis becomes other in a shifting plane of oneiric simplicity, divers in an abyss of knowledge and playfulness: “As long as we are caught in the present available body, there is indeed no outside. The problem is not that there is no outside, but it lies precisely in the fact that we are caught in the same outside without working with it. There are multiple outsides to be produced. Even one devoid of human and without thought.” (here)
In following up those diverse traditions of shamanism and voodooist worldviews, the one tempted by drum and rhythm to ride the world-tree into heavens or hells, the other to allow the goa riders in dance and song, the possession by impersonal forces that surround us we see the opposing poles of the extreme limits of the body and its thoughts as outriders of the great Outdoors of being. Most of us stay home, comfortable in our inherited religious affiliations, or our secular worlds of progressive mythologies of disenchantment; while, others of us explore beyond the borders of acceptability the strangeness of reality itself unbounded by thought and its demarcations to a human core… Yet, without these wanderers of the borders and hedges of civilized reality what would we become, caught in out coded lives, bound to our artificial survival systems of culture? It has always been the poets, the outriders of thought who have intrepidly gone ahead of all normalized and normative pressures, and opened up our minds to other possibilities and potentials. Why stop now?
Follow Alina Popa at affectivealgorithm…