To paraphrase Rumi, who would be a lover cannot have but a single head. This, because loving well requires one to lose one’s head; and considering this, we might draw an analogy between the lover and the transmigratory soul. Whatever we do, we will lose our heads in the end.
Or, as John Hiatt put it,
Time is short
and here’s the damn thing about it
You’re gonna die
gonna die for sure.
And you can learn to live with love
or without it,
but there ain’t no cure.
The lover, then, is like one who, as if taking the advice of Socrates and Jesus, dies before their death. Or at least imagines it; for as with everything else, the scale of reality will judge a lover’s worth.
A compulsive masturbator also regularly loses his head, but to no good effect beyond the escape of momentary pleasure. Given this marker, I think it might be truly said that I strive to be something more than a compulsive masturbator… and it’s easier said than done.
Indeed, most people have heretofore hidden their pleasures. We might glimpse how pervasively in considering – for a moment – the famous, and infamous, Doctor Jekyll as if he were the personification of Victorian society itself, rather than merely a respectable member of said society.
Little known, and most always forgotten, is the fact that the Good Doctor does not begin his life with an exceptionally evil part. Rather, it was his exceptional drive to appear good before the people of his society that drove him to suppress his ordinary pleasures, and in so doing, to pervert them into that insatiable masturbator, Mr Hyde.
Jekyll knows this. He tells us this, explicitly; but it generally passes by the reader in their rush toward the action of the plot, which lies on the far side of the fictional medicine that allows Jekyll to break the hold of the “stamping efficacy” of his persona. By drinking his potion, Jekyll disrupts the rule of his public self, and so allow that self’s power to be seized by the self he has kept, ashamedly, private. Hamlet can only wish that his too, too sullied flesh were able to become once again a mist. Jekyll realizes this solvency.
The technology of dissolution in Hamlet is the knife. Jekyll’s potion is a metaphorical knife, that he supposes himself able to separate the two primal twins of his being, one motivated by pleasure, and the other, virtue. Hamlet’s knife might perform the same function, but on a deeper level. In dissolving his body, Hamlet aims to free his sentient conscience, trapped between the heaven of his ideation and the hell of his appetites.
What Hamlet lacks in technology, he possesses in prudence. He first follows the Almighty’s prohibition against self-slaughter, and only later arrives at an appreciation of that prohibition in his own terms:
for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.
How do we know, in other words, that we would not be dispatching ourselves to something worse.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Yet, to impulsively lurch forward, as Hamlet does in killing Polonius, or Jekyll does in gulping his potion for the first time, is to set in motion the tragedy we were seeking to avoid. We are literally damned if we do, and if we do not. We cannot, in short, avoid the Fall. Everybody falls.
It may be that Shakespeare compounds the tragedy of Hamlet by allowing him – during his time with the pirates – to develop the wings whose lack leads him ultimately to murder the father of his beloved, engaged, like Claudius, in his own masquerade of the king. (In Polonius’ case, this masquerade is unconscious.)
So, my own search for the pirates is couched in a tragedy already set in motion. The thought chills me. Guess I should get back to yoga…