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Matter & Desire

This is a special book. Full disclosure, I haven’t read it fully yet. It was originally written in German, and although I think the translation is faultless, it isn’t easy to read. It feels like a poetic exploration in parts, and yet the message is unmistakably clear. Life is an eternal romance, or perhaps, it is a lot of sex and death.

“In Matter and Desire, internationally renowned biologist and philosopher Andreas Weber rewrites ecology as a tender practice of forging relationships, of yearning for connections, and of expressing these desires through our bodies. Being alive is an erotic process–constantly transforming the self through contact with others, desiring ever more life.”

The book isn’t talking about propagation of species, or survival of the fittest. (Or maybe that’s exactly what it’s talking about.) It isn’t talking about me becoming food for the ants, and the ants becoming food for soil bacteria. It’s far more mundane; it’s about our everyday interactions, and the absence of any real boundaries.

This book beautifully describes how we are constantly and continually changing (and being changed by) the other. The transformation isn’t an active or conscious choice; it is the nature of this organism. And the change occurs at the so-called boundaries, where “two become one,” as the Spice Girls sang. This is the tiny space of melding (or melting) and merging, of absorbing and being absorbed, of the little death of the individual (where a piece of “you” wears off), or of a sea change that begins at the outer edge and travels inward. That’s the sex, and that’s the death. All of Nature willingly submits to this play (except humans, maybe?) without any thought toward self-preservation, boundaries, individuality, or self.

(This dovetails nicely into ideas around boundaries and vulnerability, no? I have little to contribute to these conversations because one, I have highly “porous” boundaries AND two, I have been “vulnerable” all my life before I even knew what the term meant. Not to say that I overshare my feelings, or dump my stories on everyone around. “Vulnerable,” to me, simply means that I present myself to the world largely as I am — sans barriers. That I have little to hide, or protect.)

Flimsy Boundaries

I recall thinking a few years ago… Perhaps our skin, the only tangible boundary between us and the world is highly superficial, or permeable. The “brine” that exists outside our bodies swims within us, too. The air and smoke and microorganisms and invisible beings that permeate the space outside our bodies exist inside them, too. Same goes for the metaphorical space that’s filled with dreams, ideas, fears, disappointments et al. It is all-pervading, meaning it’s also within me, Lakshmi. So, my so-called mental/emotional space isn’t any more mine than it is anyone else’s. I suppose it’s like being in a swimming pool. The water is everywhere—it’s foolish to think you can get away from it.

It then follows that both this physical body and the egoic one (Lakshmi) are flimsy vehicles with nonexistent boundaries because space gets in EVERYWHERE.