the soul which is you which is to say me

by jdavidcharles

(I knew upon my creating of the categories “essay” and “poetry” they would surely deconstruct themselves at some point)

the soul which is you which is to say me

The lover loves the body—
no—the lover has a certain
pull to a beyond the body—
a desire already ahead of
the—no—a love of the
person who is in—no—in
front of
? no. behind? no. There
is a limit to what we do with language
and what it means to talk about love.
We tend to think of the person as a beyond or over-yonder away from sensation or bodies; an inner truth wrapped within an outer sensation which often leads to deception. We have come to call this soul that we in turn have coined into mind, intentionality, and lastly consciousness or perception. But is the traverse from soul to perception an accurate one? Is not the view of the soul in Dante more of a body than this body albeit born of ether?

To conceive of an inner soul implies the relationship of inner to outer, which is a relationship grounded in the physical. To think of the soul as higher or more divine is a relationship grounded in the intentional, directional language of the physical. To think of the soul as a pilot is to resort to physically grounded metaphor. To think of the soul as anything requires a body not just as background but as constituting agent. To think of the soul requires a body. To think requires a body.

How then are we to retain any conception of the individual soul? If the soul is not to be that which masters the physical what is it? It seems to retain the soul we must say it is that which is pre-physical, pre-conscious, and pre-intentional. This is not Freud’s unconscious of which we speak for the unconscious speaks the language of consciousness, that is it is a language the analyst taps in on, the language the self reveals to the self via consciousness. We are speaking of that which comes before and is always prior to origin. We speak here of primordial myth. Namely the self of which to utter its name is to already put it outside itself. The soul is a-physical not in the sense that it opposes matter but is beyond it—the soul is the self beyond any totalizing of being.

To speak of the soul is not to speak of matter but neither is it to speak of mind or consciousness. The soul envelops the whole of the body and is the body; it envelops the whole of consciousness and is consciousness—yet the soul is already beyond these things for to speak of them as-such is to fool the self into categories which always fail to exhaust the unutterability of the self.

This self though is not the self of the “outer” world, the self friends and families possess, the ego of Sartre, the self of first impressions. Likewise though it is not the self of the self, the imaginings of myself, my intentions, my conscious thoughts, as these are reductions of the self shaded by pride and intelligibility. It is the self beyond my possibilities, beyond my commitments to others—it is the self so holistic it is only to be uttered by the voice of God by the opacity of his silence. Here we enter Kierkegaard’s realm of the absurd and the impossible. The self that is infinitely high and thus always beyond grasp, no matter what height thinking or formalizing reaches.

Yet despite the infinity of the height of the self we do catch glimpses and traces of it, don’t we? In the face of the one whose viewpoint is unintelligible to us and where we stand, the other who is beyond your grasp (which is to say everyone), the girl in the line at the supermarket who paid with exact change or a hand-written check, your girlfriend even when you find out your
conception of her is wrong and your
re-conception wrong
and that you always get her wrong
and that is the beauty of it—
Don’t you find the absurd unutterbility
of the divine in his or her face? and
when I say other you know I mean
love of the other and by the other I
mean the self which I would tell
you about but then it wouldn’t be you?