I have been an admirer of yours for many years. Your sense of humour is out of this world, and often, after a tough day at work, I can find no better way of cheering myself up than by donning my silk kimono, turning off all the electric lights, and tucking into a soothing bottle of absinthe whilst watching Fire Walk With Me. I’d rather disappear into one of your films than go to a party any day. Except for the Straight Story. I’m sorry to say that I really didn’t feel the magic there and would much rather have spent my one hundred and twelve minutes embroiled in a family-sized cake, crisps and wrapping paper nightmare. Recently though, I did attend a debauched birthday gathering that seemed to set in motion the chain of events that led me to writing this letter:
At the party, a spangly-eyed friend accosted me into conversation by sitting on top of the coat pile to my side. Uninvited, he explained the first principle of his Gnostic religion to me thus:
“In the beginning, there was the one: a single organism universe. The organism could be described as consciousness. And in order to experience itself, the one split into two: dual consciousness. After discovering the pain of separation, the two sought to join again in harmony, but their ‘otherness’ had created conflict of identity, which in turn kept them apart. Now each existed in a state of incompletion / discontentment and in attempting to alleviate itself from the part that felt this discomfort and return to the bliss of ‘oneness’, divided itself again. Each separate consciousness continued to divide, over and over and over again, creating a confused multi-verse of organisms all attracting and repelling, all seeking to return to source, or ‘oneness’.”
I asked my friend, “If you substitute the word ‘consciousness’ for the word ‘God’, you’re describing the basis for all mono-theistic religions aren’t you?”
“Probably”, he said, ‘but I don’t like the word God. Everyone places their own meaning on it. There is no purity to the language.”
“Well that’s phenomenology in action.” I replied. “Just like the separate consciousnesses being unable to experience the whole universe when given an individual perspective, people can only understand the word God from their own unique learning experience – which will inevitably conflict with all others’ definitions.”
David, by this point, I was getting inexplicably excited by the topic of conversation. I helped myself to a juicy green olive from a bowl on the coffee table in front of us and eager to continue, I spoke with my mouth full…
“Your explanation, it’s like the human experience of being physically separated from your mother at birth, learning as you grow up that being in her company for too long drives you crazy – and spending the rest of your life being driven to quell the loneliness and disappointment by seeking love and joining bodies with other people.”
“Yeah,” said my friend, “ the universe is like one giant cosmic fuck.”
(I thought you might appreciate that, it sounds like something Frank Booth might scream during an orgasm before punching himself in the face.)
So, then I asked my friend the big question: “Apart from in the throws of sexual ecstasy, how are we supposed to tune into that oneness, you know, to ease the pain of being trapped in this fucked-up reality where our perceptions of ourselves are defined and measured by our successes and failures in the eyes of those around us and in our relationships to the hideous structural prison of capitalism.”
“I’ll level with you”, my friend said. “I’m really high right now. Can we talk about this another time?” He pulled a miniature clear plastic bag with a small amount of greyish-white powder in it from his back pocket, and offered it to me with a sloppy grin.
“No thanks, that’s not the answer I’m looking for.”
On the damp and chilly walk home, I passed no one. Here and there the muted sounds of electronic dance music and drunken chatter floated down from the balconies of other party-houses. I felt desperately separate, trapped in a funk of hostility towards the all the other fools and hedonists. Honestly David, nobody was chasing me, but I felt like Jeffery Beaumont in that scene in Blue Velvet where he arrives at the Police Station to tell the chief he has uncovered a murderous drug ring in the neighbourhood, and discovers that the chief’s deputy is one of the drug-dealers – the yellow man himself! – that degree of isolation and disillusionment.
At home, an email was waiting. ‘Watch this, it could change your life:
Now, I have no problem with co-incidence. My favourite quote from an old Jim Dodge novel is something along the lines of, ‘Why do people find it so hard to accept that co-incidence is the natural order of things?’ I accept this completely. It’s as basic as physics principles get; like attracts like. Despite my tiredness, I clicked on the link in the email and it took me back to you: Meditation, Creativity, Peace: the documentary about your Transcendental Meditation lectures tour.
In it, you refer to the saying; ‘ Prayer on the surface is like sending a letter with no stamp and no address.’ I’ve heard that said many times, but never really formed a solid grasp on how to direct my ‘prayers’ (or desires) to the right place. I’ve tried meditating on affirmations, chanting for what I want, enacting magickal rituals. I’ve tried reading about quantum physics and melding the scientific language into that of the spiritual, which naturally finds it’s way to my heart more easily – hoping to have an epiphany. But there has always been a missing structural link between my intellectual understanding of matter and consciousness and my emotional understanding; my ability to influence my reality through the disciplining of my own thoughts that will lead to worthy ‘ACTS’ (Lacanian definition). It is as though my thoughts (forms of mind) often betray my beliefs (held somewhere, deeper – the place I want to be able to access easily) and this inner conflict leads to a hypocritical / self-defeating lifestyle. What I’ve been searching for is a way to TRANSCEND the mundane everyday and connect to source / feel oneness without an internal intellectual struggle each time I try.
There is a beautiful little scene in the documentary where you explain oneness through the language of Quantum Physics: All particles and forces of nature – all things – manifest from The Unified Field, an area that is unmanifest. From this field of no-thing comes everything. The no-thing is like darkness: the absence of light. And the everything is matter, which attracts and reflects light. As sunlight removes darkness, so the unity of light matter removes the emptiness / negativity of no-thing. I understand the message to be that by projecting the light of unity e.g by projecting consciousness / thought into the nothingness, we are causing it to be ‘something’ – the negative space is negated: two negative forces make a positive.
Watching the snippets of your simple and grounded lectures gave me hope in your method. Could TM as a practice help me turn my mind within to find that inner post office where I can hand over my letters containing specific prayers and know that they will be delivered, read and converted into form and matter? Well David, I’m willing to dedicate some time to the practice, and I’ll let you know how I get on.
Whilst writing this letter, I was sitting in a local café, elbow-to-elbow with a load of other laptop wielding bean-snobs. The atmosphere had become a little claustrophobic, so I took a gluten-free brownie break and moved to a sofa to sift through saved images that could be used to go with my words. My eyes kept sweeping back to a screen-shot of Nicholas cage in Wild at Heart, and then my treacherous brain kept dismissing the image as too tenuously linked to the content of this letter. Perhaps I’d better go online and find an image of someone meditating, I thought.
“Excuse me,” I called to the burdened barista, “Please can you tell me the WIFI code?”
“Nicholas Cage”, she yelled back.
“Really?” It came out loudly and incredulous in tone.
“Yes.” The barista looked up me and down, over an armful of cups and saucers, probably assessing my mental health.
“Okay, thanks.” I said.
So there’s another little co-incidence, perhaps pointing me in the right direction. What could be more relevant than a nod to N.C. playing Sailor Ripley: the under-dog hero who fights his way out of a corrupt situation, in order to embrace love and life, after literally seeing the light?
On the note of Lynchian flawed moral ambassadors, I’d like to sign off by saying, David, please be gentle with Special Agent Dale Cooper in the new series of Twin Peaks. Watching him headbutt a mirror was painful for me, watching the milk of human kindness drain from his being to be replaced by the malevolent spirit of Bob made my toes curl. I hope that by the end of the new series, the natural order of things will be restored. Let’s pump that Black Lodge full of light.
(There is actually loads more I’d like to discuss with you, but I’m sinking into the sofa and some crumbs of chocolate brownie are stuck in my space bar, so it would seem that’s enough for today.)