A Capacity for Irrelevant Dancing (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 198)

Blood beats in the ears. Beat, beat, beat. A slow drum in the darkness, beating in the ears of one who lies wakeful with fever, with the sickness of too much misery. It beats unceasingly, in the ears, in the mind itself. Body and mind are indivisible and in the spirit blood painfully throbs. Sad thoughts droop through the mind. A small pure light comes swaying down through the darkness, comes to rest, resigning itself to the obscurity of its misfortune. There is resignation, but blood still beats in the ears. Blood still painfully beats, though the mind has acquiesced. And then, suddenly, the mind exerts itself, throws off the fever of too much suffering and, laughing, commands the body to dance. The introduction to the last movement comes to its suspended, throbbing close. There is an instant of expectation and then, with a series of mounting trochees and a downward hurrying, step after tiny step, in triple time, the dance begins. Irrelevant, irreverent, out of key with all that has gone before. But man’s greatest strength lies in his capacity for irrelevance. In the midst of pestilences, he builds cathedrals; and a slave, he can think the irrelevant and unsuitable thoughts of a free man. The spirit is slave to fever and beating blood, at the mercy of an obscure and tyrannous misfortune. But irrelevantly, it elects to dance in triple measure—a mounting skip, a patter of descending feet.

Antic Hay

Aldous Huxley          1923

But It’s Here Now (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 184)

“Some people think that it’s only possible to be happy if one makes noise,” she said, after a pause. “I find it’s too delicate and melancholy for noise. Being happy is rather melancholy—like the most beautiful landscape, like those trees and the grass and the clouds and the sunshine today.”

“From the outside,” said Gumbril, “it even looks rather dull.” They stumbled up the dark staircase to his rooms. Gumbril lit a pair of candles and put the kettle on the gas ring. They sat together on the divan sipping tea. In the rich, soft light of the candles she looked different, more beautiful. The silk of her dress seemed wonderfully rich and glossy, like the petals of a tulip, and on her face, on her bare arms and neck the light seemed to spread an impalpable bright bloom. On the wall behind them, their shadows ran up towards the ceiling, enormous and profoundly black.

“How unreal it is,” Gumbril whispered. “Not true. This remote secret room. These lights and shadows out of another time. And you out of nowhere and I, out of a past utterly remote from yours, sitting together here, together—and being happy. That’s the strangest thing of all. Being quite senselessly happy. It’s unreal, unreal.”

“But why,” said Emily, “why? It’s here and happening now. It is real.”

“It all might vanish, at any moment,” he said.

Emily smiled rather sadly. “It’ll vanish in due time,” she said. “Quite naturally, not by magic; it’ll vanish the way everything else vanishes and changes. But it’s here now.

They gave themselves up to the enchantment. The candles burned, two shining eyes of flame, without a wink, minute after minute. But for them were no longer any minutes. Emily leaned against him, her body held in the crook of his arm, her head resting on his shoulder. He caressed his cheek against her hair; sometimes, very gently, he kissed her forehead or her closed eyes.

“If I had know you years ago . . .” she sighed. “But I was a silly little idiot then. I shouldn’t have notice any difference between you and anybody else.”

Antic Hay

Aldous Huxley          1923

 

 

 

 

Anything for Diversion (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 181)

“There are quiet places also in the mind,” he said, meditatively. “But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately—to put a stop to the quietness. We don’t like the quietness. All the thoughts, all the preoccupations in my head—round and round, continually.” He made a circular motion with his hand. “And the jazz bands, the music hall songs, the boys shouting the news. What’s it for, what’s it all for? To put an end to the quiet, to break it up and disperse it, to pretend at any cost it isn’t there. Ah, but it is, it is there, in spite of everything, at the back of everything. Lying awake at night, sometimes—not restlessly, but serenely, waiting for sleep—the quiet re-established itself, piece by piece; all broken bits, all the fragments of it we’ve been so busily dispersing all day long. It re-establishes itself, an inward quiet, like this outward quiet of grass and trees. It fills one, it grows—a crystal quiet, a growing expanding crystal. It grows, it becomes more perfect; it is beautiful and terrifying, yes, terrifying, as well as beautiful. For one’s alone in the crystal and there’s no support from outside, there’s nothing external and important, nothing external and trivial to pull oneself up by or to stand on, superiorly, contemptuously, so that one can look down. There’s nothing to laugh at or feel enthusiastic about. But the quiet grows and grows. Beautifully and unbearably. And at last you are conscious of something approaching; it is almost a faint sound of footsteps. Something inexpressibly lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressibly terrifying. For if it would touch you, if it were to seize and engulf you, you’d die; all the regular, habitual, daily part of you would die. There would be an end of bandstands and whizzing factories, and one would have to begin living arduously in the quiet, arduously in some strange unheard-of manner. Nearer, nearer come the steps; but one can’t face the advancing thing. One daren’t. It’s too terrifying, it’s too painful to die. Quickly, before it’s too late, start the factory wheels, bang the drum, blow the saxophone. Think of the women you’d like to sleep with, the schemes for making money, the gossip about your friends, the last outrage of the politicians. Anything for diversion. Break the silence, smash the crystal to pieces. There, it lies in bits; it is easily broken, hard to build up and easy to break. And the steps? Ah, those have taken themselves off, double quick. Double quick, they were gone at the first flawing of the crystal. And by this time the lovely and terrifying thing is three infinities away, at least. And you lie tranquily on your bed, thinking of what you’d do if you had ten thousand pounds and all of the fornifications you’ll ever commit.” He thought of Rosie’s pink underclothes.

“You make things very complicated,” she said, after a silence.

Antic Hay

Aldous Huxley          1923     

Love vs Sex 61 (associated w LvS56…true story of demonic possession)

Of the state of mind that M. Barré and the other exorcists we know nothing at firsthand. They left no autobiographies and wrote no letters. Until Father Surin made his entry upon the scene, some two years later, the history of the men involved in this prolonged psychological orgy is completely lacking in personal touches. Fortunately for us, Surin was an introvert with an urge to self-revelation, a born “sharer” whose passion for confession amply made up for the reticences of his colleagues. Writing of these early years spent at Loudon, and later, Bordeaux, Surin complains of being subjected to almost continual temptations of the flesh. Given the circumstances of an exorcist’s life in a convent of demoniac nuns, the fact is hardly surprising.

At the center of a troop of hysterical women, all in a state of chronic sexual excitement, he was the chartered Male, imperious and tyrannical. The abjection in which his charges were so ecstatically wallowing served only to emphasize the triumphant masculinity of the exorcist’s role. Their passivity heightened his sense of being the master. In the midst of uncontrollable frenzies, he was lucid and strong; in the midst of so much animality he was the only human being; in the midst of demons, he was the representative of God. And as this representative of God, he was privileged to do what he liked with these creatures of lower order―to make them perform tricks, to send them into convulsions, to manhandle them as though they were recalcitrant sows or heifers, to prescribe the enema or the whip.

In their more lucid moments the demoniacs would confide to their masters―with what an obscene delight in thus trampling underfoot the conventions which had been an essential part of their personality!―the most unavowable facts about their physiological condition, the most lurid phantasies dredged up from the oozy depths of the subconscious. The kind of relation that could exist between exorcists and supposedly demoniac nuns is well illustrated by the following extract from a contemporary account of the possession of the Ursulines of Auxonne, which began in 1658, and continued until 1661. “The nuns declare, and so do the priests, that by means of exorcism, they (the priests) relieved them of hernias, that they cured them in an instant of the lacerations of the womb caused by the sorcerers, that they caused the expulsion. They also declare that the priests cured them of colics, stomach aches and headaches, that they cured hardenings of the breast by confession; that they checked hemorrhages by exorcism, and, by means of holy water taken through the mouth, that they put an end to bloatings of the belly caused by copulation with demons and sorcerers.                   

“Three of the nuns announce, without beating about the bush, that they have undergone copulation with demons and been deflowered. Five others declare that they have suffered, at the hands of sorcerers, magicians and demons, actions which modesty forbids them to mention, but which in fact are none other than those described by the first three. The said exorcists bear witness to the truth of all the above statements.”      

What a cozy squalor, what surgical intimacies! The dirt is moral as well as material; the physiological miseries are matched by the spiritual and the intellectual.

And over everything, like a richly smelly fog, hangs an oppressive sexuality, thick enough to be cut with a knife and ubiquitous, inescapable. The physicians who, at the order of the Parlement of Burgundy, visited the nuns, found no evidence of possession, but many indications that all or most of them were suffering from a malady to which our fathers gave the name of furor uterinus. The symptoms of this disease were “heat accompanied by an inextinguishable appetite for venery” and an inability, on the part of the younger sisters, to “think or talk about anything but sex.”

 

Such was the atmosphere in a convent of demoniac nuns, and such the persons with whom, in an intimacy that was a compound of the intimacies existing between gynecologist and patient, trainer and animal, adored psychiatrist and loquacious neurotic, the officiating priest passed many hours of every day and night.

For the exorcists of Auxonne the temptations were too powerful and there is good reason to believe that they took advantage of their situation to seduce the nuns committed to their charge. No such accusation was brought against the priests and monks who worked on Sœur Jeanne and the other hysterics of Loudon. There was, as Surin bore witness, a constant temptation; but it was resisted. The long-drawn debauch took place in the imaginationand was never physical.

 

 The Devils of Loudun (A true story of demonic possession)

Aldous Huxley           1952        

Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 2

It is because they mistrust the imbecile who, in the body of every human being, cohabits with the criminal lunatic, the easy-going animal, the good citizen, and the potential, unawakened, deeply latent saint, it is because they recognize his truly diabolical power that the contemplatives have always imposed upon themselves and their disciples such rigid self-denial in the matter of all distracting and irrelevant stimuli.      

That is why the would-be mystic is always told to refrain from busying himself with matters which do not refer to his ultimate goal, or in relation to which he cannot effectively do immediate and concrete good. This self-denying ordinance covers most of the things with which, outside business hours, the ordinary person is mainly preoccupied— news, the day’s installment of the various radio epics, this year’s car models and gadget, the latest fashions.

But it is upon fashions, cars, gadgets, upon news and the advertising for which news exists, that our present industrial and economic system depends for proper functioning. For as ex-President Hoover pointed out long ago, this system cannot work unless the demand for non-necessaries is not merely kept up, but continually expanded; and of course it cannot be kept up and expanded except by incessant appeals to greed, competitiveness, and love of aimless stimulation.

Men have always been prey to distractions, which are the original sin of the mind;

but never before today has an attempt been made to organize and exploit distractions, to make of them, because of their economic importance, the core and vital center of human life, to idealize them as the highest manifestations of mental activity.

Ours is an age of systemized irrelevancies, and the imbecile within us has become one of the Titans, upon whose shoulders rests the weight of the social and economic system (Cribb Note: I would also add political to these systems). Recollectedness, or the overcoming of distractions, has never been more necessary than now; it has also, we may guess, never been so difficult.

 

Distractions – I (compiled and presented in Huxley and God 1992)

A. Huxley            1941                  

Love vs Sex 41

Love de-objectifies the percieved thing or person. At the same time it de-subjectifies the perciever, who no longer views the outside world with desire or aversion, no longer judges automatically and irrevocably, is no longer an emotionally charged ego, but finds himself an element in the given reality, which is not an affair of objects and subjects, but a cosmic unity of love.

Lust is sexual relations with an object for the benefit of a subject—who may also enjoy as a kind of bonus, the manifestations of subjective enjoyment proceeding from the object. Love de-objectifies and de-subjectifies, substitues the primordial fact of unity and the awareness of mutual immanence for a frenzy heightened to despair by the impossibility of that total possession of the object, at which it mistakenly aims.         

This Timeless Moment – quoting a letter written by A. Huxley

Laura Huxley     1968   

Love vs Sex 26

So I scratch this out and write you a letter, my darling, while I drink my coffee in Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

A letter to tell you that you really must be a strega* – otherwise why should I keep falling more and more in love with you? Why should I start being jealous of the people who loved you in the past? No, not jealous, really­ – rather sad because I wasn’t there, because I wasn’t ten other people loving you in ten other ways, at ten different times of your life and mine…being made one with you in tenderness and passion and sensuality and understanding. Well, I am not ten other people and I am here and now, not then and there. But here and now I love you very much and only wish I could love you more and better – could love you so that you would be well always, and strong and happy; so that there would never be that discrepancy between a tragic suffering face and the serenity of the nymph’s lovely body with its little breasts and the flat belly, the long legs… that I love so tenderly, so violently.

Well I must go to mail my letters and try on my suit and act the part of a respectable literary gentleman who doesn’t sit in cafés writing love letters, of all people! – to his wife.

                                                                                                                                                 A.                                                                                                                      

 *Sorceress

A letter written by Aldous Huxley to Lara Huxley

Reprinted in This Timeless Moment

Lara Huxley     1968