[ssf] Life is movement, movement is life

worldwarfree at riseup.net worldwarfree at riseup.net
Thu Jan 11 11:54:18 GMT 2007

Date:  	 Jan 11 2007 03:19
Body: 	I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you

Some days ago I saw a cat whose will had shrunk so much that it comprised
no more than a weak but obvious desire to die. She was in a pet shop, in a
glass cubicle no bigger than a fish tank, a prison small enough even for
the kitten in the cell adjoining hers. The kitten, at least, could walk a
little - it would be too much so say that it could walk around, but it
could at least describe a circle, and it did so, one way then the other,
expressing in its walk the curiosity that a kitten would normally display
with any object that it came across.

The cat, however, was wedged inside her tank, the length of which was
shorter than the cat herself. She lay on the floor, bending her back so
that she could fit, and unable to move much more than that, moved not at
all. Neither her body nor her eyes would move. She had no further
presence, that quality of being always there, however quiet, however
silent, however apparently motionless a cat might be, that communication
of intelligence, observation, calculation and intent that a cat projects
simply by virtue of itself. Deprived of movement, she had nothing left:
the whole life and personality of a cat depends on movement, on the
expression that a cat lends to the smallest movement, on its ability and
desire to detect and track that movement in anything else. But it was
gone. The life of the cat was gone and what was left, with what was left,
she just wanted to end. She was gone. She just wanted to die.

She wanted to die, and I wanted to scream: but I have not yet the Spanish
in which to scream. I could perhaps have started: "¿Qué quieres? ¿Intentas
matar al gato? ¡Mira, desea morir!" But I couldn't have finished any
argument I started: my language, my ability to communicate, almost as
absent as was hers. I thought, for a moment, about pulling open her
cubicle, on which were written her breed and price - two hundred and forty
euros - and hence the reason for her confinement, though not the reason
for her torture. I wanted to release her, watch her flee for her life
through the aisles of the shopping complex, watch her exhibit the will,
the will to live, the will to fight, defy, resist, which a cat possesses
in excess of any other creature.

But I was afraid that even that had gone: that if I dragged open her
window she would remain just as she was, wedged, immobile. Eyes without
life, aware only dimly, if at all, of any life outside herself, only dimly
aware that any life remained within.

Only one time in my life have I wanted to die. I mean wanted. I mean,
actually wanted to die, not only thought about it, not only felt it as a
desire within me, not only considered it as a genuine proposition. Only
once acknowledged it, only once said it to myself, only once understood
and meant it. Only once known - only once I want rather than I wish.

I wish, you say. I wish. Wish you could sleep and never wake again, wish
that there were some way, by the smallest effort of will, to close down,
close off the outside world, enter a world of safety and softened noises.
You wish. You do not want. Wishing is cursing. Wishing is crying "enough",
but crying out. Wishing is crying out for what you do not want. The truth
about a wish is that it does not happen. You wish for what you know you
cannot have.

Wanting is different. Wanting is without reference to what you can or
cannot have. You cannot lie, not to yourself, about whether or not you
want. The thought arrives spontaneous, unbidden, not so much thought as
revelation. It comes, not as the end of some process of reasoning, but on
its own, attached to nothing, expressing itself alone. You speak: I want
to die. You speak as if speaking someone else's words at someone else's
instigation. There is no possible discussion. You speak. You want. You

Only once. Not even in the act of suicide, as that is not the action of
your will, but what happens when your will and being are exhausted, when
you cannot want because that function is no longer there. You cannot want,
just be indifferent.

There are three conditions which often look alike
Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow:
Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment
>From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them,
Which resembles the others as death resembles life,
Being between two lives - unflowering, between
The live and the dead nettle.

Wanting cannot be indifference. Wanting is conscious, certain. Clear.

Once and only once. A few months afterwards: six years ago today. When
they came for me unexpected in the morning and by the afternoon I found
myself confined. I remember clearly, as if I'd asked to have one memory
preserved and chosen this one: the rest is madness, impossible to remember
because impossible to believe. But this I remember clearly - that on the
first evening I stood in my room, my cell, my place of confinement,
forbidden for me to leave but open to the staff to watch. I stood there. I
could say that I felt desperate or humiliated or shattered or any word I
chose, but the truth is none of those words meant anything to me, not at
that time. Not even anger, which overcame me before they locked me up and
motivated me later when I fought to get back out.

All these were irrelevant, or at least subsumed, subsumed within the one
clear thought that I could still have, the one clear thought that forced
itself upon me. I said it to myself. I remember clearly - not quite
clearly enough to remember if I spoke the words out loud, but I remember
the words clearly. I said:

I want to die.

I said it and I meant it: and I knew I meant it, as I had not meant to say
it. The truth comes unrehearsed. I stood there and I knew that what I
wanted was to die. And I knew why, as well: not because I had gone as low
as I thought possible, but because I thought I would. I saw myself
declining, sitting in that cell, medicated, my consciousness smothered by
whatever drugs they wanted me to swallow, maybe sometimes in the garden,
being visited. Hearing, half-hearing as though muffled, people saying how
sad it was and other people saying that they were hopeful and I'd been
responding well. I saw myself like that, permanently medicated,
permanently submerged, and I felt and knew that I would rather die than be
like that.

No more the cat. Life without life. Without movement, there could be no
life. She was erased: whatever sort of life it was, she was no longer in
it. I looked at her, emptied of life, and saw myself, and what they might
have made of me. What they would have made of me, had there not been
enough, by way of anger, left to motivate myself, and make me live, and
get me out.

And live. But gradually. Poco a poco, they say here. Bit by bit, and many
bits still missing. Some of them left behind, that year, in that place and
in others. Some of them doubtless gone forever. And I must, now, go and
find the pieces that remain. Because I should, because I must. Because
something happened, back then, which I need to understand, explain, go
back and look at, write about.

I need to write now. I need to write about the meaning of indifference,
the space between the will to live and the desire to die. I need to
concentrate on that, to grasp at it, to hold it down and wring what truth
I can from that experience. For me. For anybody else who cares to read it.
Should they get the chance: should I ever finish, should it ever find a
publisher, should it ever find a reader. But I must start and see how far
I get. To find out how far you have come, you must return to where you

So I must go. And here, a hiatus. Temporary one, while I work. Not from
indifference, but from the need to understand it. I cannot half-write: I
must write in one place or the other. I have had two years in this place:
for a few months, I must let it lie. It has been good for me. It has
helped me organise and understand my thoughts. I shall be here again. But
life is the desire to move and keep moving. I hope, I hope, that cat was
rescued, set free to express her life through movement, her own movement
and the detection of others'. Life is movement, movement life. I must
move. But I shall be here again.


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