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Desire

The second part in a four-part series on the self in society, focusing on desire as a guide to behavior. Published December 2018 in Bilkent News.


Although we are created and live in language, the way we speak and therefore are seen, there are some close, refined things that occupy our bodies. These are sources of action different than is perception, independent of expectation or gain. They draw none from thought, experience, design or fear. These things grip organs and make sound happiness. They burn the lips in long twists of feeling. Corporeal, brilliant emotions derive from these islands, which if heard crawl together to consume whole bodies. An insistent kind of suffering. Pure unfiltered desire.

This state, unlike much feeling, is quite easy to describe. It is a total submission of the body to premises larger and more absolute than any it could deduce. Regardless of what one believes is good to want, what agrees with a rationally selected means or aim, this desire scalds inside and asks to be known. It leads to discrete actions: go out, turn left. Climb this dark hill. Speak to this young man. Speak to the flower. Only now does reason rear a turgid head, supplying ways to fulfill desire that depend on observation. As long as pure desire exists and is listened to, all outcomes are as pure and significant as the blood convulsions that produce them. This is because such desire expects nothing. It has no conception of success or fear. It asks for nothing but fulfillment, and one moves to do nothing but fulfill, to feel in the shoulders and mouth the thick, sweet exhaustion of its insistence, which unheeded piles up and rots in the body. In this state one wants less than nothing. It is impossible to do or to think, the stomach distends. Then desire stops speaking, and one loses language.

To prevent it from spoiling, one does two things: he follows the desire, and he expresses it. The first requires total freedom from inhibition and blame, which shadow unhappiness and derive from fear. This fear is unnatural and belongs to impressions. It is the fear of the self that exists in society, precariously tied to others’ expectations. No real body has this fright, because it is more than image-words. Since real desire bends in the body, it needs no limits of shame or consequence. Once these weights are lost, one can look at whatever frays him, turns him into threads of desire. This looking may destroy him: nothing is healthier, he will use true impressions to rebuild. It may bring him the most elaborate happiness. Mostly it will induce more desire, making life wide, intense, all its veins warm still.

To express desire is different: it needs language that understands in its cells the self of what it inhabits. This may or may not be possible in words, although most times there is a certain way to create them: to depict what is seen, its smell and sounds; to be listened to and find speaking. The words that belong only and ever to itself. A wholly personal language as much poetry as touch. Such expressions may not be received or may break the medium or meet indifference. Their importance does not need difference. They proceed outside the stream of action, transmission and death. Succeeding in their only real aim which is to exist, to grow and push through the stomach and blood what there is to find.

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