Disembodied Desire: “when the taut nerves mock the numbness of the mind”

“…the themes of alienation, absence and desire …all of this seems so far removed from the place where I’m talking from that it saddens me, and somehow makes me feel obsolete…kind of dead, elegantly wasted (?). I’m not talking about some slippage from reality but rather some absence of destination, a random lingering, an objectless longing.” 1

“…those blank days, mild and hazy, which melt enamored hearts into tears, when they fret with some vague, twisting pain, when the taut nerves mock the numbness of the mind.” 2

“Disembodied desire. It’s really a constellation of factors, a convergence, I guess. It happens when phenomena stack up right there, at the margin of your consciousness. Then, suddenly, it comes. All that is needed is that particular scent, the angle of the sun, your own freshly dried skin (still supple from the wetness), that old song; it has all been said before. These things usher in a yearning, a hoping. It’s a call from the past, something you’ve lost or, to be honest, something you’ve never really had. You don’t know what it is anyway, but that feeling, that sweet aching is almost enough – almost enough to make life feel right. To feel as if you’ve been called, to feel as if you’ve been wanted, to feel as if you’d been in the right place and had known it – had felt it – at the time. When that song comes on, when the night is just right, it is all there so close to the surface. Ah, but when you reach for it, it disappears! It is as if the exact cognitive mechanism used to focus in on that feeling, or time, or place, causes the very same thing to rush away. There must be some inverse relationship there: the farther you are from logically apprehending the shadowy image the closer you are to the essence of it. When you set up for a closer look even the sense you seemed to have of what you wish for flees from you. It is a small surprise then that wishes can take on such mythic proportions.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

1) Robert, Jimmy. Self-Portrait. Appeared in Tema Celeste 96, March/April 2003, page 76.
2) Baudelaire, Charles. From the Francis Scarfe English translation of the poem Cloud-dappled Sky, 1857.
 
Images from digital photos taken between May and August 2001.