From doings to sayings (& back again)

‘Without blinking an eye’, is a saying referring to how normal it is to blink your eyes. It is something we all do. It’s a doing with which we say something even if it’s something we’d rather have left unsaid.

As the saying goes, not doing it is remarkable. It either shows concealment or an absence of something we thought was being concealed. The saying is proverbially related to truth and trickery, to concealment and unconcealment. If people would never blink an eye this would amount to a perpetual staring match, the type of thing horror shows are made of.

Doings do this. They escape us. They defy willful control. They signal our emotions. They talk where sometimes we’ve been made to feel a need to remain silent. This is what we’re made to think: that emotions are “them” and controlling them is “us”. These doings are so made into sayings, such that we can control them rather than performing them.

In this way your body gets split from your soul and the I is split from its environment. It’s only the brain that connects them. If the connection is bad, it’s because your brain is bad. Because that’s what the brain is supposed to do: effectively disconnect me from you. This, in a nutshell, is growing up: the nut is your brain and the shell is your skull. And so we’ll bite our lips and count to 10 and hope we meanwhile don’t blink our eyes. A sorry state if ever there was. Is there an escape?

Growing up is learning to take responsibility. Your actions have effects in many respects. Respect for the other is what tact is made of. Tact is concealing what might disrupt others as showing your emotion is invading the you by a me. We have to control our intentions – it is indeed impossible to have them without controlling them. How do we know we grew up? Well, we show our tact. We have elaborate rituals, doings, in which we show it. They feel empty if our hearts are not in it. Responsibility is a feeling, an emotion that enhances taking up tact in respecting the distance between me and you.

This is what we all feel inside us: warring emotions. On the one hand emotions that show how we feel, captured in these sayings: stick out our tongues, turn up our noses, clearing our throats. Sayings which describe what we should NOT do. On the other hand emotions wishing to keep these feelings concealed, captured in sayings like counting to ten, biting our lips and thinking twice. Sayings that get enshrined in the rules we SHOULD perform.

The question is not whether this can be different. It cannot unless we want to behave like children – i.e. not behave at all. The question is what happens when you get all mixed up to the extent that you curl your toes.

I think something like this: your desire for control spirals out of control. You know you’re supposed to sit still to the point you can’t. Your responsibility gets the better of you. What to do then? If that becomes the question your brain goes berserk. It fights with taboo and taboo is exposed for what it is, something coming in between me and you. Something to be broken because growing up is fine but only being a grown up sucks.

Maintaining a clean split between doings and sayings cannot be maintained, because it is bad to live in your brain. Brains are never bad but the idea we live in them is very, very bad indeed. And this was why.

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