The Ache

Oh!  Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,

The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,

Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,

And of ourselves and of our origins,

In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

Wallace Stevens, The Idea of Order at Key West

I am sure that if I were to recall a dream  what I recall is not ‘the dream’ but the later memory of the ‘dream’, the shaping of it into expression. Similarly, I think that when it comes to the most intense feelings – and for me they are predominantly negative, ‘bad feeling’ – no matter what words I use, I’m for ever caught in a loop that’s always describing other words, ideas, thoughts, representations. Of course, some of these are borrowed from other people, mainly from literature and poetry in my case and also from other art, but there is a complex and dynamic swirl of ideas which are actually more tied to emotions than feelings. The representations come after the feeling.

It’s an interesting area, and  the idea is not new that something akin to depressed feelings can lead to great creativity. I’ll leave aside how such created material gives rise to satisfaction for the originator and recipient of a product, save to note in passing that perhaps there is something like a ‘making sense’ instinct, something which is like a biologically existent syntactic ability which since it is there must be used (as we must run because we can, and if we don’t some part of us atrophies): a refraction of this is to say that an urge to order and form is its own satisfaction when successful, but like all satisfactions is never complete and must be attempted evermore. What after all is an emotion other than a naming, a forming, a giving shape to a bodily feeling?

I believe that I can vaguely remember the first desperate attempts my very young brain made, before language, to formulate the horror of gastrointestinal distress. To attempt to express that now, the only way would be to step back a level or two, and imagine how that distant reverberation of ghastly memory fells now, to the adult, the sophisticated intellect. Here it is:

The Ache is aboriginal. It may, for convenience, be included in concepts of pain or suffering – as parent, child or partner -, but its only analogical connection with these is of negativity of feeling. Specific pain or suffering are attributes – of, or from something – and they contain in their meaning their implicit opposites: what it would feel like to be rid of them. Pain and suffering have dimensions, points of reference, and exist in time. But the Ache is aboriginal. It precedes all differentiation of self and other, comes before the subject. The wind aches, the sky aches, It aches.

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