deliver yourself from your great toe

Posted on June 20, 2009


the I Ching says:

Deliver yourself from your great toe.
Then the companion comes,
And him you can trust.

at the start, the human condition includes extended periods of solitary confinement (we shall not call it prison for lack of sentimental sentence and judicial joviality but who really knows?): what a beautiful, perfectly horrible happening – to be fawned into a womb, fishlike, spawned. the layman assumes that the child once it grows firmly into a place near the mother’s hip, is safe.

far from it.

once it’s been accepted as a being, it is turned, radared, probed & checked for abnormities. in its cell, the child hovers, nearly weightlessly and its consciousness awakens from god knows where: it’s an old old man who opens his eyes and realises for the first time anything and everything at once after a life in the mines. like a minivan fresh out of production turnkey-ready. a silver bullet.

some call it birth trauma but it really is just the beginning of another dream.

who is the companion of the child on its lonely path? it is an angel in all its glowing actuality, with a peculiar ancient name containing sixty-three syllables in eighteen languages.  his nickname is Hoo. he is small & gentle with almost no airs about him. the movement of his wings can be compared to the breath of a nabokovian butterfly. His caput is furry and only marked by a single sign on his forehead right between his eyes easily mistaken for a furrow.

this sign every new child must recognise and make its first own sign signalling recognition and wonder. only then can it begin to travel towards its own small i.

but what if the child cannot read the sign on the angel’s head? then it will forever be condemned to seek it out, wherever it goes with whomever it speaks whatever it sees. it will be a sappy slave to that first very first sign of life. it will have to become a writer, delivering itself from its great toe every night and every day, restlessly.

baccaceous birth.

when the writer’s life ends, he, much like the potter, the plumber, the president, must face Hoo & show him what he learnt. he makes the sign as the angel looks on. the angel approves, but the writer does not see it. he has brought his inner critic to the party, his curse & the critic now runs the show. the writer will make the sign again and again and again growing ever more desperate in his attempts to satisfy Hoo, who will not cajole him.

a thousand years pass before Hoo like a new york minute. myriads of fruitflies die. a turtle moves a mile.

Hoo waits patiently for the writer to get over himself. this is the great lesson at the end of his life. after a very very long time, Hoo speaks & his voice sounds like a leaf blown off a tree transporting utmost tenderness and tact: give & let go, he says in every language known to man & fleetingly touches the old man’s forehead. and the writer, tired of fighting, finally gives himself up & draws the sign with his eyelashes, e pluribus unum.

© 2009 finnegan flawnt

Posted in: writerlyAdvice