Shipwreck Eyes

If I go forward now, it’s only because I didn’t die, because for no reason some time remains for me. And because there is something more to say? Doubtful— whatever “more” is left will drown in the same silence that drowned it yesterday, that drowns even now all speech. Oh friends, there are no friends…

But I won’t be incarnating that silence— nor the ungraspability of being, nor the real of the impossible. Who could do so without laughing? Who would be innocent enough to try? And yet it’s true that I laugh, that I go on laughing, as time… And isn’t this the impossible itself, the simple, profane impossible we strive after every day— to go on laughing? Behind the curtain God attends, just past the Door of the Law, a toilet flushes, a pimple splits, a heart is broken, a mother sobs…

Death is not
in being unable to communicate
but in no longer being able to be understood.

I imagine Pasolini wrote these lines feeling dead in life, feeling incapable of being understood while living. I imagine he felt like only his lovers could understand him: they alone saw him come. Beyond that, only a “desperate vitality,” grinding thought’s gears and falling into every last trap of passion.

To be understood here is the union of the abject and the sacred, nothing less. To understand the griminess of all things God. Beyond that, there is only a scream— laughter, communicated in silence— to which all philosophy, all meaningful discourse, is reduced from the perspective of ‘ultimacy’.

That perspective has animated me ever since I saw it emerge in my father’s eyes, as he approached the threshold of death and the disgusting truth of things that it evokes. From then on he could only hallucinate his reality. He could not solve the problem, build any more sturdy structures, plan any perfect futures. He could not convince by reason any longer. He could not control his splitting side. He could only stare, with those brilliant morphine-bent eyes, into mine, transmitting, with a mix of perfect wonderment and terror, a rapture that became so deeply etched into my psyche that it was impossible thereafter to think or speak without seeing it. Those destitute eyes haunted me, became my eyes.

For while he had sores, rashes, contusions, while his body was spilling and contracting, his muscles atrophying, the real laceration was elsewhere. His annihilation was not physical, but in the crumbling of all he knew about himself, about me, and about his world, which death hastened and made impossible to ignore. He could no longer see anything but the reality of “love,” of his relation to us, a reality that flabbergasted this rational man, in that this revelation seemed to coincide with his end— as if only what excluded him would live on. Tough lesson for the brave and focused: delirium is coming, departure is imminent. The truth of the world is that it loses you.

If I write, I write because of those eyes, those brilliant eyes he passed on to me without knowing why or how. Before all else, I inherited from him this vision of the shipwreck of being in all its cruel splendor. Surely an abyss had opened in me before, upon my mother’s death, but his eyes invited me to step into it, proclaimed to me that now I had nowhere else to go.

You see what it’s come to. Not inclined to deny this passage, I’ve not let myself wander from this “vision”— which of course is the shipwreck of all vision. The ultimate perspective is that every perspective ends, and that therefore no perspective can be taken. I cannot return to solutions, plans, and convictions—to philosophy— because I’ve seen where it ends. I’ve seen the rubble to which all thought and meaning are destined, and my courage in facing up to this situation comes only from the horror it inspires in me. If it’s uselessness I emphasize, it’s because the purity of death requires it.

But what will I say, having inherited this being-at-the-threshold-of-not-being? And what can I communicate to you if not this frozen stare engorged with thinning blood and the overwhelming quality of a love so unspeakable that only the vertigo of dying reveals it?

And what will you say, how will you speak, how will you live, now that the groundlessness of being is no longer a theoretical hypothesis, but the very essence of experience in its ultimate state? An intuition that loses you forever in the communication of it, disabusing Reason of its ruses by confronting it with the shipwreck it’s destined to.

Because what could we do, my father and I, but marvel at how impenetrable we were to each other? What else can you and I do but marvel at the love that somehow sustains us without our knowing it? Knowing only this, that what we meant to each other alone was real, and that outside that we were nothing but chunks of meat in a process of inevitable decay? That we are utterly blind in this, from the get-go.

We have to learn this—I’m talking about the union of the abject and the sacred—, because beyond this the shipwreck gives us nothing: there is no meaning for me or anyone alone; no one ever acts or speaks outside of others; and what we are, say, and do, has no meaning outside this unspeakable relation-between, this meaning-to, outside of which everything is dry and dead—but inside of which everything is “joy,” is laughter—the sharing of time however anguished, however magnificent, however lost in this silence that forever drowns us in our name.

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