October 29, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on October 28, 2018

We got up really late today; still, I feel tired. Physically and mentally plateaued. Neither moving forward nor backward, yet knowing at the same time that feeling like this means that one is actually declining, moving backwards. If you feel like you’re standing still, you’re not – it’s an impossibility, there is no standstill; you’re either going forward or backward. So, standstill is moving backward. Which means that my feeling of calm, of stasis – this ridiculous quietism – is really just an attitude of surrender in the face of the disaster of moving backward. And I calm my calm by calling up more calm. Not exactly fighting fire with fire, but something like…

There can be strength in biding one’s time, versus acting rashly. But it’s a fine line between that and simply acquiescing to death, like someone who has opened their veins and is letting life ebb away from them. Too often lately this “calm” feels like open veins failing to conserve my forward-propelling energy. It’s not painful – that’s the possibly frightening part. It feels gentle, but I can tell what lies at the end of this “entropy gradient”: NOTHING.

Why is my mind “forcing” me to confront – or at least feel, in whatever vague way – nothing? Is this simply ageing? I don’t want to feel nothing, just as I don’t have plans to open my veins and bleed out into nothing. Yet persistently my mind gives me inklings of this nothingness state.

How can I get anything done if Nothing, like a Lorelei, beckons me to shipwreck on her rocky obstacle – and feel, into the fiendish bargain, that it’s a sweet surrender? Piss off, Lore. I’m not ready for you.

Lately, for weeks now, my body has been signalling that it’s processing histamine at alarming levels, levels that threaten to bring me lots of trouble. Maybe my body is rebelling against this (false?) calm of the mind? Of course, histamine, a neurotransmitter, shows how thinking about body and mind as separate is a crock. A mistake. So my histamine levels must be through the roof (oh, through my head!, how cute, seat of my brain, which co-generates my mind), and I suffer terribly from itching and imminent outbreaks of hives (and the well-documented “brain fog”). A constant state of inflammation and itching, the joy. I’ve only ever had to deal with this in Boston, never anywhere else, so environmental factors may be triggering these excess levels, too. Not sure. But excess blood levels of histamine it is. I know, because when, in desperation, I occasionally pop an antihistamine, which blocks the receptors, the symptoms abate.

Wouldn’t it be odd if none of what I’ve scribbled about energy, standstill, forward- versus backward-moving states, ageing, etc., were some kind of quasi-philosophical insight, and instead were all simply part and parcel of my chronic histamine problem? One that might have an environmental trigger at heart?

Yesterday I told W. that being here, without family and now isolated from most former local friends, is the biggest existential crisis I’ve ever faced. We walked earlier along an especially beautiful route by the ocean, but – no. Yes, the beauty always sucks me in again (and foolishly I too often let it). But I have to think of misery at 17, of having a train stop in Klagenfurth on my way from Venice to Vienna, and, staring at Klagenfurth’s perfect streets and houses, weeping piteously at the well-ordered bourgeois beauty I never knew as a child, feeling like Nietzsche embracing that poor beautiful horse unjustly whipped by a coachman… That idea of beauty always sucks me back in to the point of willing self-sacrifice.

Beauty as an opener of veins, the “dark” side of its appeal. Beautiful Lorelei’s shining golden hair is made of Apollonian sunshine; but the serrated blades of the comb she wields are vampire teeth.

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