(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Post is Filled With Joy

In honor of my friend Brooks embarking on his journey beyond Western, I'm going to take his advice and start using this blog space for more than just serious academically charged essays and emotionally charged breakdowns, because there's more to my life than that and if this blog is supposed to be representative of me, it should represent me in all ways.

Ashlyn's scar kind of matches my fading temporary tattoo.

Salsa is intense.


Sleepy Panda is no match for NinjaCamera

Showing our support at the AS Club Awards Ceremony

Acts of Kindness Club is FIERCE!

Kindness... spread that shit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I whored my hoard of hordes of words, and it made me feel like a pimp.

You see, words, they're my bitches. I tell them to do what I want and they do it. I say form a sentence and they ask, "simple or complex?"

Their paltry pay is nothing to the dividends I see. I'm part of a compendium, a writer's mafia as it were. It's called my publishing house.

It's a den of some of the filthiest little words you will ever see. Sex. Booze. Drugs. Magic. Racism. Sexism. Perversion. Anything illicit. Just read Welsh, read some Harry Fucking Potter.

I whore out these words. I make them work for my money.

I am an author, baby. You got something to say?

P.I.M.P. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDApZhXTpH8

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What do you want?

What do I want?

This question has haunted me for a while now and I think it's about time I finally addressed it, because it makes me uncomfortable. But why does it make me uncomfortable enough to not want to express it?

There's something powerful about verbalizing an intention and in the same way, there's something powerful about expressing a want or need, and I don't know if I can commit myself to that. There's something comforting in floating aimlessly and being able to do what I want as whims change, precisely because I have not locked myself into one path. And I realize there's something irresponsible about this, something innately adolescent, but I already have my share of responsibilities.

I don't like being asked what I want. I'll tell you I don't know, but more often than not that's a lie, or at best only a partial truth. It's not about me. The world does not fucking revolve around me and I have a hard time dissociating what I want with that that kind of unwanted attention. As much as an extrovert as I may be, there are limits. When the attention we garner is unwanted, when it comes independently of the performance, it takes away our power, it takes away the autonomy of the decision, the part that makes it personal and gives it meaning to us as individuals.

I fill the void. I've always filled the void. It goes back to this idea of service I talked about when I last revisited Acelessthan3. I see and understand myself as a provider. It's not something I consciously choose, but it's not something I fight. I accept it as something inherent to who I am and foster it as something I want to encourage.

This is the role I want to fill, but the more I think about it, the more I question if I want to fill it because it is my desire to do so or if I do so because I feel obligated and this is not the kind of distinction I think I'm capable of making any more because I've played this part for so long.

The way I see it, I'm faced with this paradox of thought. How can what I want ever compare to what everyone else wants, to what the world wants? For me to express want is to contradict the provider within me. To want is to take, is to be selfish, it is to not attempt to make myself responsible for the world around me.

And I guess it takes me back to that advice the_author gave me the other week: at least once in a while do something for yourself. Which means I need to learn to separate what it means to do something for others and to do something for myself because selfishness in our society is not frowned upon. It is the basis for all entrepreneurial endeavors and indeed, of capitalism. We want the "American Dream" and so we work towards it.

I want to lead without the responsibility of leadership, but I recognize there is something dangerous about this. A leader who is not responsible has the potential to do great and terrible things. I don't trust myself not to fall victim to that trap, so I compensate. I seek out responsibility, consciously and unconsciously.

And I wonder, as I often do, does this make me a good person?

I have my faults. I feel like I know my weaknesses. I'm more than a little vain and self-centered. I don't push myself as hard as I could. And I have absolutely no problem saying this loud and often because these are facets of who I am and I accept them for what they are, faults, but I work to move past them. I'm not always successful and sometimes people catch me being lazy and call me on my shit, but that's why this is a work in progress.

And I'm sure any number of you reading this would be quick to jump to my defense, telling me I'm humble and blah blah blah, and that's exactly why this has become such an ontological question for me. Is being a good person based on what we project? What other people think? What we are hidden under the masks we make to fool ourselves?

To put it all another way: What lies underneath the performance?

I'm having a hard time with this one people, because it strikes to the core, because as I've come to believe more and more in the philosophy that everything has the potential to be a performance, answering the question of what I want seems impossible. In answering that question, am I just performing? And I can't answer that. Don't you see? It would be part of the performance.

I'm performing. I'm performing. I'm performing. I'm performing. I'm performing.

It wouldn't be the truth.

I can't lie. I can't answer. It wouldn't be the truth. It's NOT THE FUCKING TRUTH.

What do I want? I'll tell you what I fucking want. I want to live. I want to die. I want to have a happy life in between. I want love. I want to provide. I want to be provided for, to see some kind of return on this constant outpour of energy because it's draining being your ray of little fucking sunshine in middle of the night. I want to learn. I want to grow. I want to think. I want physicality. I want to not be constantly worried about all the problems but my own. I want to feel okay being a little selfish from time to time.

I want to help. I want to make a difference. I want to not do this alone. I want to escape these boxes, this or that binary.

I want all of this without feeling like it's some kind of performance I'm putting on for myself, for society, for my friends.

Are you happy? Did that answer your question? Probably not, but that's fine. You can deal.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Getting back to my blogging roots

When I started this blog I hadn't intended it to be so deep or for the average length of a post to near 700 to 1000 words. Which I admit, makes it daunting for people because let's face it, you don't usually go to the internet to read massive amounts of text.

But looking back at some of my older posts (see any of the ones from 2008) and perhaps I'm not as far off as I thought.

So since I've recently chosen a new template and kind of redesigned this space, I thought I'd take the time to revisit where this blog is coming from.

The premise for this blog and its inspiration are really all tied into the title: Widdershin Writings. Widdershins means counter-clockwise or in a broader sense, that which is contrary to the regular. Being that I'd just read Widdershins, the word was fresh in my mind and I was, if nothing else, enthralled by the idea of this fantasy. I've been a sucker for the urban fairy tale ever since I'd read American Gods back in the eighth grade. So here was the water.

The seed was actually by a friend and mentor, the writer for CougCenter, Jeff Nusser. I was a journalism student of his throughout my high school career until he moved the summer before my senior year, and I remember talking to him a few times about blogging and watching as one of his other former students (and a friend of mine) created and used his own blog, http://rocketnumber09.blogspot.com/. It fascinated me. It was like writing a book or reporting or something similar, only it was all you and you could get feedback.

So this seed had been with me for a few years and I'd made a few half-hearted attempts through Facebook notes, but I felt like I needed my own space, somewhere specifically for blogging. And then it rained.

Being left-handed, widdershins seemed to fit. It's a word that seems to say I defy your logic, your direction, your silverware and scissors. I want to go my own way. I'm going to find my own path. And I believe that with a medium like a blog, that's what we have to do. We have to find our own direction and write to it and that's what I've sought to do here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ectoplasm and the bodiless: Music as a ghost in the machine

I ended one of my recent blog posts with the thought that music, like words and language, is a bodiless entity. We as physical creatures represent it in physical forms, creating simulacra that attempt to reflect it as closely as possible, but ultimately fail in that a map fundamentally is not what it seeks to represent.

Where a map seeks to represent an existing physical place though, books, records, lyrics seek to physically manifest ideas and concepts. To think about this in terms of the physical realm, the Flatland analogy seems appropriate.

Flatland video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8oiwnNlyE4

In many ways, music/language/thought are of higher level existences that only intersect with our three dimensional plane at certain points.

So what then are thoughts and words and music made of?

In that sound is the key component in transmitting and sharing most forms of music, thought and language and is indeed the host in which music lives and travels, sound is the main framework in which we must discuss them. Sound, however, faces the problem in that it is also intangible. One cannot hold a sound but sound is measurable. Like its twin noise, sound is how these intangibles interact with us and writing, as a visual form of sound, facilitates the understanding of these alterities (because let us not forget, in being with us and being part of us, but always remaining just out of reach, thought and music are Other).

Here, I pause, because in this exploration of the intersection between the intangible and spiritual and the physical, we must recognize a commonality, another intersection between these analogous realms. We must recognize the ghost.

The Oxford English Dictionary online gives fourteen definitions for ghost, three of which I would like to highlight below.

1. b) In philosophy, the ghost in the machine: Gilber Ryle's name for the mind viewed as a separate from the body.
3. a) An incorporeal being; a spirit. b) A good spirit, an angel. c) An evil spirit. The loath foul, wicked ghost: the Devil.
13. One who secretly does artistic or literary work for another person, the latter taking the credit.

It's mostly in this last notion, the act of ghostwriting that allows us to connect ghosts to music and thought. As a child of the nineties, I'm obviously influenced by the pop culture I was raised with.

Ghostwriter video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZxzPOUreME

But in returning to the childhood sprite who, with Levar Burton, helped inspire a desire to read, I'm struck by the Echo and Narcissus reflections we find in our ghostly friend. He can only communicate by using other people's words, by responding and mixing and matching and sampling as he sees fit, thereby creating something new, the message he wants to impart.

Ghostwriter then was a DJ even as contemporary DJ-culture was exploding underground to create an underworld even Hade could enjoy. And like music, through the processes of DJ culture (and even farther back the court minstrels and traveling jongleurs), the ghost operates beside and beyond us.

What makes this alterity so difficult to deal with is that we must translate it, or to go back to the meanings of translate's Latin roots, carry it across. Music and ghosts must be picked up and moved, but they are intangible and so a new process capable of moving the insubstantial must be invented. It is here that I question my inclusion of language in the above list mostly in that it is a tool by which we examine thought/music. Because it has the potential to be self-referential and even self-aware in how we use it, language is different from music or thought. In this way, language cannot exist in silence.

Because of the notion of rhythm, music in its circularity has a beat. It. Can. Pause. But it doesn't go away. Silence, the absence of sound is as essential to music as the sounds themselves because if we were to create music with no pauses in a continuous wave, it would overwhelm us and we would habituate ourselves so as to regulate it to the periphery (in other words, make it noise) so it can be dealt with.

What the ghost does in haunting reflects this. It is the absence of ghosts that make their appearance relevant.

In particular I want to go back now to "DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid." In this context he is not only an alter-ego, but in that these kinds of Other identities don't exist outside of the mind because they must be separate in order for there to be multiplicity between minds and body, they very much embody the Ryle definition of ghost. Which Miller seems to imply by naming his DJ Spooky.

It's the Subliminal Kid part that pushes this for me though. Music and ghosts have a tendency to subsume. Music in that it elicits a kind of silence with sound and ghosts through the physical embodiment of ectoplasm.

Ghostbusters video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te-koapjzd8

Which goes directly back to Burrough's notion of schlupping, that sound by which the body, specifically the gelatinous forms of the body, ingest and take in others. In this capacity music, this alterity of sound, schlups by encompassing and taking over. Music pulls us in and --

We're no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment's what I'm thinking of
You wouldn't get this from any other guy
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down,
Never gonna run around and --

interrupts us. But unlike the parasite, which we associate with the lower levels, this connotation of the rebel leader and underdog, music and ghosts interrupt from the higher order. Rather than coming from beside us, they come from above or beyond.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Nagging Question

And the question I keep running into is why? What is it about me that seems to put me in this position where people trust me as some kind of authority? It's more than just in the Parasites class, but other aspects of my life and academia.

I suppose there's a level that I don't quite trust myself, but in that I view this as a barrier to accomplishing anything, I've learned to just kind of push past these kinds of doubts. But in doing so, I find I'm performing. I'm so conscious of the performance though that I trick myself into outperforming the performance itself. I'm performing for the performance to prove that I'm not performing. Am I making sense?

In all this performing then, I find that it's a game. Or to use the kind of language I've found so fascinating in The Invisibles, it's a movie. And we almost have to ask, when is it over? When do the credits roll or when does the timer run out? To put it yet another way, when are we finished with a book?

But that's just the thing, we're never finished. Not if it's worth it, not if it had an effect on us. We come back to it, we sample it, we quote it, sometimes we reread it, sometimes we just have it around as a reminder. Still though, it is with us, it doesn't go away.

It doesn't end. It never ends.

"In the end?" Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing Ever ends.
-Dr. Manhattan The Watchmen

And I still don't know why.

The following video was posted to plurk by Daltrain.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhythm and the Wheel

I'm tired of working on this post. It's been a work in progress for a month now and it's about time it got out there for the world to see.

The celestial cycle

Western culture through its influence by many Eastern traditions believes in the image of a wheel of time or wheel of history. Time is cyclical and works in great circles, sine and cosine values of life and death. The wheel of time in such a context is the story of history.

This idea of the cycle, the wave and the circle, has consequences because it encompasses and includes its own alterity. For every up, there is a corresponding down.

Everything moves in cycles. There are the great cycles, the astrological and the minute, the mundane shift from day to night and back again. Even the simple repetition of a heartbeat echoes the waveforms of life.

In that we keep time in music, that we must repeat these cycles of rhythm and form to maintain the music, music reflects that selfsame story of history, and indeed music as a reflection of culture and style shows us history. Music then is one of the closest physical manifestations to this kind of cyclical movement to be found in day to day life.

We can conceptualize and interpret music in a way that we cannot when looking at other aspects life, but through analogy, we can assign meaning to music that allows us by association to explore these other areas. Music then is a reflector and an interrupter of our normal rhythms.

Anything worth doing is worth doing again. Any song worth listening to is worth listening to again.

As we progress forward through history though, we find an interesting evolution in music. It changes form and storage. Originally it was mental. You memorized a song to perform it, it did not exist physically. Then it got written down and on paper took the rectangular shape.

It is in this form that we find music has the longest recorded history. And even then it had to be filtered somehow to be produced. Either a mechanical like a player piano that could clip-blip it's way around a metallic form, or a musician to interpret and perform the music.

We find what Attali in his Noise: The Political Economy of Music describes as the beginning of repetition versus production. You could mass produce the simulacrum of music that was the written form as we represent sounds with notes on a line.

With the creation of the of the phonograph and the record, we find the ability to directly record music as sound itself. And what I find interesting, especially in the context of this post is how the recordings of this storage took on the rounded shape, similar to that of a wheel.

The repetition vs production differentiation then became exponential in that the middle-man, the performer, got cut out after the initial "printing." As we move towards the digital age, we find that an increase in quality of recording as we shift from the record to the cassette to the CD, all of which retain this wheel-like appearance.

But then we come to the mp3, the fully digital format. And enter a realm of alterity. How do you conceptualize an mp3 and visualize it? We can't. The repetition has come full circle to the production in that once again it's intangible.

But what does it mean to be intangible? Is it a ghost? It is not human. It is not physical and I see no way in which we could anthropomorphize it.

It moves us with its alterity. It moves us in circles.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This is an essay I originally wrote for my AP Junior English class instead of simply raising my hand during attendance. I found it while looking through a creative writing portfolio in search of something I could share during the Story Time group I occasionally visit and think it worth revisiting. Expect a revised and deconstructed edition within the next few weeks.

Danny Canham
AP Junior English
Jan. 30, 2007
An Essay

I am here to announce my presence, for it is my presence here that makes me not there, and it is the thereness of the not here that differentiates the place from where I am present from the place or places where I am not present. Here is a place usually designated as the location in space referred to in conversation between two or more persons, or in short, one’s surroundings. In this case, however, here is an exclamation declaring myself not absent so that I am not marked as such in the attendance book, such as insert name of person missing from room, who is gone today. I, unlike repeat name, am not missing, but am at school, hopefully by now learning or having learned something from the teachers whose job it is to instruct me and the other students enrolled in their classes in their given subject. It is for my sixth period AP Junior English teacher, Miss Fulton (soon-to-be Mrs. Waller) that I write this essay, describing hereness, thereness, and how I must be in a state of one and not so much the other for this essay to make sense, for if I was there and this essay declared I was here, I would not be turning it in to declare myself here, as is the intent.

As implied above, hereness involves and requires a now, a present time and space. It designates both though only describes location, but since space and time are connected (read some contemporary books on physics or ask Brian Svoboda for more on this), here actually can describe both, though it is a limited and perspective description that would be better understood were it to have its place in relation to another place described as well (this time ask him to explain relativity). Usually when used in conversation, here is accompanied by a gesture of pointing down, as “come here” and “right here.”

There is a far more vague concept than here to understand when giving location, simply because it can include any place that is not here when unspecified. There is the polar opposite of here, despite only differing in spelling by one letter. That letter is T. In meaning, there indicates a past or present somewhere else from here.

Important as it is to be here in the moment, from any other person’s point of view, you are there. The only time more than one person can be here or qualified as here by another is when they are being counted as part of a group. “He/She/IT is here” is really “here (with us).” Just as I am here as a part of the class. It is being here and not there that makes me not absent. Yet at the same time, in other classrooms and pretty much anywhere in the world except this classroom, I would have to be considered there. Even here though I am there. I am there on the other side of the room and there in that chair. It is a mild difference, but a difference all the same.

So remember, Here is me and mine, there is everything and everyone else, and of course, I am here today in class.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This post is me being honest.

Can I just say that sometimes you are exceedingly cruel. You don't mean to be, and it's nothing malicious so I can't hold it against you. Or perhaps I should say I won't hold it against you. Does it matter? Yes it does. It always matters.

It's not something I particularly mind, I guess, or I would've kicked you out of my life as soon as we started playing this game, but there are moments when I look at you and I wonder what exactly have I gotten myself into.

I'm not going to deny that it's fun what we do, but we're pushing a line and I feel like I have more at stake here than you do.

This is complicated and not getting easier and the more I try to keep writing, the more I find that I'm censoring myself. I want to give examples but I don't want everyone to know (and they would know) even though everyone who's taken the time to read this knows already.

I'm struggling because I'm still trying to answer that question from months ago. What do I want?

"What happens now, Danny? What happens now..."

I guess we keep going. We keep on keeping on until I break or something requires us to change this dynamic. I'm far more resilient than that and I'm not asking for change, at least not consciously. But it's late. And I'm tired. And I need to go to bed.

Song and Silence

Sometimes when I dance, the world goes silent. All that exists is my body and the movement. There are no words, no thoughts, it's a trance-like state and I find that I'm at peace. I'm experiencing the moment not as me, not as a thinking being, but as a nothing. I'm invisible to myself and to the world.

And then I pause and everything comes crashing back. I'm filled with sound, with thought. My reprieve from the world is intruded upon and interrupted.

People spend hours at a time meditating to experience that relief, seeking that cessation of noise, immunity from the infection that Burroughs called Word. In those quiet moments, the inner monologue is absent.

It's rare and takes practice, and for this to occur naturally often requires some kind of interruption upon the interruption, an overriding noise to replace that which has become the background of our existence.

I'm reminded of this because of my experience at HigFOM (the Higginson Festival of Music) this weekend.

What happens when music overpowers lyrics, when what we hear no longer has Word operating within it? Is there still meaning and by that I mean the kind of subjective meaning we use to describe the thoughts and emotions and words used in our day to day existence?

For example, one of the bands at HigFOM, Mission Orange, introduced one of their songs as being about "hiking on Mount Baker" or something to that effect, but when they started playing, the drums and guitar and feedback completely covered up and drowned out any vocals that would have conveyed that message.

You couldn't hear what he was singing at all and it seemed ironic to preface the song with a description. If I'd come across this on the radio, I don't think I would have been able to discern anything relating to being on a mountain.

In other words, the intent is there, but the meaning is lost amongst the sound accompanying it. It interrupts the transmission of the message. And this interruption provides us with silence of the mind.

And I got lost in the song, pulled in and whirled around by a maelstrom of sound. Soon I found that if I let this continue, it tore away at my mind. There was only the music.

Here then is an example of music as a release, as an agent of the momentary nirvana that teases us with a glimpse of bliss, for music in this capacity gives us silence.

But there is also danger in this. As much as it can be a tool for empowerment and enlightenment, the way we envision a monk or other Eastern practitioner reducing thought and expanding mind, applied differently, this ability of music becomes a tool in the power of economy of the mind.

In emptying the mind, it is made vulnerable. Is not the blank sheet easiest to fill?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Music is namaste manifest, despite traditional and originary meanings, it has become accepted to represent a sentiment akin to the light in my heart recognizing and respecting the light in your heart.

Sing the song of your soul. March to the beat of your own drum. To exist and, more importantly, to create in this world is to let that musicality express itself.

Music culture is a reflection of soul culture. If a song resonates with you, you feel it. You dig it, and so feel it beneath the surface. Music is the sound that is noise with purpose with an added layer of rhythm.

And the beauty of it is that it has an organic quality. Good music flows, it comes naturally to us and good music that doesn't flow does so that it interrupts this process in such a way that that makes it natural to the process.

If we take noises to be the basic building blocks, the random nucleotides in this aural (and in many ways sub-aural) experience, then sounds are the individual genes that make the sequence and order of these noises relevant. Music then is the string of DNA that separates the sounds into the coherence necessary to make something complete and whole.

Music as the expression of the soul is not just song, but all creative acts. Emotions are the verses, chorus and refrain that make up the arias of the inner experience. To convey emotion through the arts -- whether it is contained in our traditional models of what is considered art or not -- is to unleash not only this light from within but also the self-same darkness embodied by and necessitated by that light.

But where does this light come from? What is the source of this music within us that compels us to dance and sing and write and paint and perform and sex?

In that we refer to these kind of cathartic releases as communion with God and that they were once used in the kind of ancient rites that connected us with the Earth, with the Forces of Life that we depended on for survival in a way not seen in the industrialized world of today, this light cannot be from the Self.

The Self is too preoccupied with the here, the now, the past, the future, the physicality of that eternal argument between mind and body. To react so instantly and so strongly requires the freedom of that which is unburdened by this kind of responsibility created by life.

In The Gift of Death, Derrida says that everyone "must assume their own death, that is to say, the one thing in the world that no one else can either giver or take: therein resides freedom and responsibility." Where a few pages earlier he stated that "It is from the perspective of death as the place of my irreplaceability, that is, of my singularity, that I feel called to responsibility. In this sense only a mortal can be responsible."

So the Self as the projection of this mortality is responsible. And it is this selfsame mortal nature of the Self that makes its rejection a crucial step into nirvana.

While it is not able to Originate this light, in this capacity the "I" can however, help to shape the release. The creativity of the Self is in its ability to filter this expression of the Other. What the Self does is to translate the noise, give it purpose as sound and so music so it can be more readily recognized by the corresponding Self of Others. It frames it and packages it so it can be received, a different kind of Gift than the value of a Death.

There's something primal, something moving about music that occasionally catches us off guard. It reaches in when we aren't paying attention and pulls us almost into a trance-like state. It awakens us at the same time as it lulls us to sleep with its complete control over us.


And so we react; something internal responds and seeks to return that energy.

It's primal and messy, but powerful and beautiful and so completely natural in ways we cannot realize in our everyday lives. We dance, gyrating bodies caught in a maelstrom of sound, whipping us with all the force of a wind in the trees. We sing along, harmonizing, humming when we don’t' know the words, trapped in this Other that controls us.

This trembling seizes one at the moment of becoming a person, and the person can only become what it is in being paralyzed by the [transie], in its very singularity, by the gaze of God. Then the person sees itself seen by the gaze of another, "the absolute highest being in whose hands we are, not externally, but internally."
The secret of the
mysterium tremendum takes over from a heterogeneous secrecy and at the same time breaks it. This rupture takes the form of either subordination by incorporation (one secret subjects or silences the other), or repression.

This reaction is the reception of that Gift as it is immutably translated to a form more readily accepted by our subconscious.

In this sense, I'm very much speaking of Music in the kind of terms one might describe more aptly as pure music. Music as the transcendental experience.

But music as we hear it is not always pure.

It is created by this Other, but reproduced and transmitted by the Self. As such, music becomes a matter of power, it becomes a tool in the duality known as power economy, the binary between those who do have authority and those who do not because it naturally comes from a place of significance.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Last Temptation of Jack: Or comics, Buddhism and postmodern thought.

No, I'm not referring to our friend, the Hatter. This is an issue of The Invisibles, specifically Volume 1 Issue 23. Morrison never gets around to mentioning the term, but The Last Temptation of Jack is a story of a bodhisattva.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a bodhisattva is a being worthy of nirvana who forgoes the ultimate enlightenment in favor of spending their energy helping others attain enlightenment.

"‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep
To sleep, perchance to dream."

It is a sacrifice to give up nirvana, a sign of nobility and altruism not commonly seen in our culture. We admire the Buddha for his accomplishment, for achieving release from this mortal plane and the suffering that existence represents, but in the bodhisattva we find something perhaps more godly.

And if we take Derrida's view, that death is a gift only a mortal individual can be responsible for giving, then this sacrifice becomes all the more of a gift.

Nirvana: The realization of the non-existence of self, leading to cessation of all entanglement and attachment in life; the state of being released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth.

Nirvana then is the ultimate death within this frame of reference. It is a removal from everything that haunts our waking lives, every nightmare and pleasure, every sin, temptation and sordid little detail. It is release in that we let go and are detached, no longer tethered by this strangling umbilical. To give this up is to sacrifice our death, or rather control of our death and work for something bigger. It is the delay of our release of potential, like the bonds that hold together the nucleus of an atom we are far greater than our appearance.

It strikes me as being a lonely kind of existence because you stand so very singular as a bodhisattva. By nature of your continued existence, you are set apart and above from the throngs of bourgeoisie. Revered as godlike, caught between wanting to ascend and seeking the normalcy of a mundane existence, the bodhisattva is the human Superman.

It makes this existence a tragedy and a triumph, and I wonder (as I often do when confronted with these kinds of thoughts) what kind of strength it takes to live that life. It takes conviction and a strong will to choose this harder path and stick to it, for indeed it is the harder path because it is an exercise in self-torture. It is to take on the burden of the Fallen, to glimpse the beauty of heaven and turn away from the light.

The difference of course is that Lucifer in turning away gave up his responsibilities and his name, Light-bringer. To be bodhisattva then is to take up that shirked responsibility and act not for yourself but for the Others.

. . .

For a moment now I would like to return to that definition of nirvana. It describes this total enlightenment as a state of being wherein an individual experiences a realization of the non-existence of self. At first glance, this seems counter to much of the postmodern thought as I've come to understand it. Identity, the Other, and Being, what we call Heidegger's dasein, all call for and intuitively require a Self to compare and relate to.

In order to deconstruct and reduce these thoughts, to tear down and placate these impossible binaries of alterity, we must first admit that they exist. We come across a paradox of the chicken and the egg. To show a binary is false or at least created under false contexts, it must be accepted as existing, bot h states must hold true.

What I see happening in The Invisibles is a similar kind of balance. The lines are drawn but they're blurry. The binary that we see is just a simplification, it is a two dimensional illustration of a four dimensional hyperline. The realization of the non-existence of self that is nirvana then becomes not so simple. The non-existence is perhaps a simplification of the idea that the idea of self as a construct as a single necessity of existence is false. Self then is a multi-facet, multi-dimensional idea beyond what we see it as.

The self is the Self is the Other is non-existent is a byproduct of our attempts to understand and define our existence. Which sounds simple spelled out like this, but to actually put it in words would require more than just the alphabet at our disposal.

To be continued...