Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Skinlessness

More-than-naked, peeled, flayed, excoriated, transparent, able to feel more painfully, exposed... all words for the same sense of acutely sensitive, unprotected, all-on-display internal self. I have been feeling it somewhat of late. I keep using the term, I keep coming across it used by or about people with various degrees of difficulty in inhabiting the world. But what causes it? What is it for? Why and how do we develop it? (Or should that be how did it happen that we ungrew skin?) How does it affect us? Does it have good to it as well as horror?

Genetics? Bad luck to have been born without a mental skin? Or trauma? 90% burns from some hellish psychic fire of childhood? Or something from inside, that for the hell of it one day sloughed the whole thing off for some reason, leaving it pale and glistening, like some gigantic discarded condom, and then shambled off, trying not to bleed on the carpets?

How does it feel? If on a skinless day I have the temerity to leave the house and walk down the road, then I know that other people know everything about me just by looking at me. I can cope with that by not giving a damn for their opinion. I have a misguided suspicion that solid objects could simultaneously pass straight through me and cause great pain. Noise, light, babble and confusion are all hellish and make it impossible to think clearly. I remember to walk around solid objects, and close my senses to the noise, focusing exactly on what the hell it is I was supposed to be doing, assuming I can remember. Conversation, especially with strangers or worse still, people I only half know, is particularly trying. I have to conjure some spirit to encase me in a dead layer of animate matter: something that smiles, nods, makes words sound, gestures... but it is a clumsy golem-suit, and doesn't behave with grace and ease.

Why does it exist? I suppose there must be a continuum of ability to feel from nothing to far too much. Somewhere there must be an ideal socially advantageous point, just as a pinhole has an ideal distance from the image where diffusion and diffraction of light cause least blur.

But apart from the day-to-day, have-a-normal-life, rub blithely along with one's fellow man (and woman), apart from this being far more difficult when suffering from an intensity of feeling, are there any consolations to it?

Well, I suppose there is a terrible beauty to be experienced, or perhaps a beautiful terror. Great distances and minute details simulaneously seize the heart. Everything feels charged with fate, portent, meaning, good and bad alike, or together, or irrelevantly. Everything feels as if it is spectrally surging through one's being. It both intensifies and dissolves the self. A consolation? Sometimes. Other times a hell.

And what is the best remedy of all? A peaceful, quiet, airy room, white, with a mild sun shining through an open window, and a fresh sea breeze on the air. But that is just me. I'm off to become a lighthouse keeper. Preferably one without a foghorn.

Keep safe all.

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