Our syphilitic mad epistemological uncle Fred (Nietzsche) gave a lot of thought to the iniquity of humanity in its own mirror stage, the moment when society became aware of itself in relation to its own history (from which it had been blissfully unaware of its tethers, like a child is unaware of itself in the supermarket or unaware that its parents are actually people, with personalities)...he sat in his chair, aware of the long line of syphilitic madmen that made it possible for him to ask if God was not a metaphor, and whether humanity had outgrown that metaphor, which perhaps he thought while ingesting hugely quackey doses of mercury salts... Ecce Homo, he thought, as he swallowed a medicine that poisoned the illness off into the distance, away from the nerves it was systematically deadening...Menschliches, allzu Menschliches...human, all too human.
The grave injustice of finding that most human side of yourself through the things that make you most mortal, most vulnerable, most pathetic. It might be that most beautiful thing, the instant you are unaware of what you see, which you then realize is a human being being all too human. It hurts to see and it's beautiful in its inescapable truth. Like art is its own death, those moments where we are most human are maybe the best and worst, we enter into a state with full knowledge of our mortality or vulnerability, because we can't do otherwise; we are in that moment aware only of mortality, natality, aware of our selves and yet so aware that we cease to be self-aware. The stage after being Suspended in Gaffa.
Heinrich von Kleist wrote this great thing on Marionettes as inhuman machines... the perfect pirouette. But not the most beautiful, for its lack of menschliches, allzu menschliches. Unaware of himself, the interlocutor's young friend dances; as soon as he becomes aware of the beauty of that moment, it fades; he attempts to recreate the moment, and that in itself relinquishes it from the realm of beauty. Flashback to a moment in college, a late night in the dorms, the halls of residence, I sit in a chair in a poorly lit room with a friend, we'd fallen into silence and I sat fumbling with a children's kaleidoscope with an Alice in Wonderland motif. I slipped away from that space, having become fascinated with the project of lining up lines in the drawings. My friend was watching me intently. I didn't notice. Something drew my attention back, I don't know what. My friend was smiling at me in a very peculiar way and I said "what?". She said, "you were completely in there, weren't you. You looked so innocent, you just became this little kid again, working out a puzzle. It was beautiful." I had been part of a beautiful moment for a second and wanted desperately to be beautiful. I knowingly fumbled with my project again. "No," she said, "it doesn't work anymore. You know you're doing it." I was curiously sad and frustrated that I had missed a moment of beauty. I was at an age where I needed to know the world had beauty in it and desperately felt the need to be part of that. I had been, and I'd missed it. I was 18, I was just coming into my own epistemological mirror stage. I had a lot of need and I was aware of it. It was a project of display. It was not beautiful.
Flashforward to last night. I was reading Papa Denny Doherty's transcript of his show "Dream a Little Dream: The nearly true story of the Mamas and Papas"--a show that answered Mama Michelle's book "Dream a Little Dream: The true story of the Mamas and Papas". In it he pointed out that some of what he said was true, some not so much, but hard to distinguish because, hey, it was the 60s and Papa Denny was so tuned in that he turned off. So, true...not true... what difference does it make? It was how he remembered it. And mostly, the show came across to me as atonement...for having so profoundly misunderstood and misfollowed his own humanity. And the object of that atonement is clear enough from the title. Papa Denny was filled, it seems to the very end, with a lot of regret. It was the way he described one particular moment that made me stop short, becoming aware that THAT was a moment of humanity. One filled with injustice, one of a person so overwhelmingly human that she scared the living daylights out of people she wanted to be close to; in being deeply human, she became sort of superhuman, an impenetrable force of life who seemed too far away. And in this moment she was desperately hurt and vulnerable...
I don't remember how or why . . . All I remember is the Mexican heat. Night. Drunk. Cass and I, alone, top down, careening along the coast highway with Cass scrunched over in the corner crying. I'd told her about Michelle. She called me an a**hole! "Stop thinking with your ****. Try thinking with your big head for a change .. She doesn't really like either one of you. She loves herself more than anybody in the ****in' world anyway - you both know that. Michelle will never leave John for you . . . ah, take me home, ****head."
Cass Elliot carried a very bright and burning torch for Denny Doherty, and this is the moment where he broke her heart. Whether it's real or not, this is his story, this is his vision, and in it is this impenetrable force of life, scrunched in a corner crying. So aware of her own humanity that she is unaware of herself. It's an amazingly human moment. Love is such a weirdly unfair thing.
What's one to do with the people who love so deeply, so intensely, that they scare people off? You can only hope they find someone or some someones who can love them as deeply, as intensely as they can love. But of course, when they do, they can't be together, for X and Y reason. And for years they fight with destiny or ethics or destroy themselves asking questions until they've been questioned into little meaningless pieces, only to come back to the original realization that, unfair though it all is, that's the way it is and you can either be miserable and filled with regret or you can find a way to make whatever strange thing you have there--this force that no matter how hard you try to escape STILL finds you and knocks you *** over head--work in your favor. You can't be 18 or 20 and have that work. You need years of losing things and fighting for things, of becoming aware of yourself in relation to your own history, to sit down and start carving that niche the way you want it. Human, all too human.
"I was pretty unattractive for a few years there."
"I didn't really notice."
"I don't know what's coming. But I like the future."