Monday, March 30, 2020

The Importance and Impermanence of Physicality

For a long time now, I have been writing a book, in essence, about our ability/inability to transcend the physical. Through possibility, effort, and, sometimes, magic (be it illusion or very real magic), we can transcend the physical realm, but this involves plenty of ingenuity and intelligence in order to problem solve these limitations.

Prior to these past 3-4 weeks, the majority of Western society has not had to deal with threats to our physical space. Or have we? Have we taken for granted that we have full reign over our own bodies, or do we put immense trust into the structures that hold us all into place as a cohabiting group of humans? Do our fellow humans have the right to transcend this space, and if they dont, do they use other means in order to take control? In trying times like these, we have an opportunity to solidify where we stand and make sure human rights are being honored in all instances and at all times. As we all clamor for much needed food and supplies, we have allowed the "powers that be" to order us away from the commercial spaces. We are being asked to share in an extremely limited supply of life sustaining rations: those supplies and their rapidly diminishing quantities were not even acknowledged prior to March at least in the US; neither not acknowledged, nor even considered as potentially corruptible. We are being faced with numerous situations right now where they have been corrupted and the source and viability of supplies have been exposed.

The question I would like to ask is why, in a world where we undeniably place trust into strangers to govern and make sure we thrive as individuals, does so much distrust exist amongst us against others? I think it should be acknowledged right now in this moment that we do trust each other. Saying that we don't doesn't change this. When will we stop trusting? When our safety and ability to live within our environment becomes threatened. I will say this again:

We will start to distrust others and those who are in power when our safety and ability to live within our enviroment becomes threatened. 

We have proof of those who have fled from situations such as this: refugees. Our current administration has brought down the number of allowable refugees coming through our borders to an astonishingly small amount, considering the numbers there are out there and how much resource we hold in our country: roughly 22,000 people. 

Right now there is a miniscule little window open for us to feel just slightly the immense despair that refugees experience when their homes have been taken over. In Mohsin Hamid's book Exit West, he has used the techniques of magical realism to show this passage from place to place. He has said he used this method in order to put emphasis on the emotional aspects. For me, my experience reading it is more that it takes magic for this transfer of physicality to happen for these people. Some manage to physically flee, risking their lives in the process, only to be stopped and told they cannot come in once they reach the promised land.

Hamid writes, "It was said in those days that the passage was both like dying and like being born, and indeed Nadia experienced a kind of extinguishing as she entered the blackness and a gasping struggle as she fought to exit it, and she felt cold and bruised and damp as she lay on the floor of the room at the other side, trembling and too spent at first to stand, and she thought, while she strained to fill her lungs, that this dampness must be her won sweat."

The imagery here is one of childbirth and what an infant would experience upon entering the world, but it is also imagery of the water. The crossing over a body of water be it the Gibraltar Strait or the Meditereanean Sea or any number of bodies. 

We watch as the two protagonists are forced to fall in love exclusively through online means, even though they live in the same city. We see that this form of communication is no worse than the physical. In fact, it confers benefits that the physical space would not allow. There is a sense of the beauty of this falling and how, even through adversity, they can and did triumph. 

In my own fiction writing, I make use of this sort of imagery in order to illustrate experience. It is analogous to various forms of struggle as well. The transcending of the physical is a sign of the 21st century, I believe. We are at the start of a  millenium of infinite time through the virtual world and memory and infinite space as well through not only the virtual, but through infinite means of communication that we have currently. We cannot be forced out of our own bodies if we can escape virtually, or can we? Time will tell, but some have been forced. Many have been forced. The moment we stop listening to those small voices in peril is the moment we lose the very humanity we have fought to retain.