Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Painful Experience Draws My Attention To My Body and The Expression of My Emotions

I burned the shit out of my mouth at work. Long story short, I mistook a cup of near boiling hot water for my cup of cool normal water. So I took a full blown sip of this scalding water, and quickly spit it all over the cafe floor. Very painful. Never have I had such a bad mouth burn before. I ate ice for the rest of the day, because if I didn't, it hurt. Fuck.

But I relay this painful experience because it prompted me to think of two things. And, fortunately, both of these ideas can be easily connected to a book I finished yesterday: E.M. Cioran's The Fall Into Time. The first thing: the body, its illnesses, its pain, and the way that our thought is connected to our pain. The second thing: the expression of emotions, the importance of letting ourselves weep or scream if we need to. Cioran deals with both of these things. My tongue hurts and I am tired so this will be brief.

Cioran has a section in The Fall Into Time called 'On Sickness'. He begins it by saying that we shouldn't trust anyone who isn't sick. That sick people have the best things to say and the most interesting and perhaps relevant observations. There is something about the body, something about its ailments, its pains, that can prompt us to awareness. We aren't really aware unless we are feeling some kind of pain or discomfort. So today when I burnt myself I felt this in a way. But more so I felt like I was pulled out of my normal frame of mind. Normally I'm very engaged and happy, I smile, I talk to coworkers, I have a good time. But I just had to space out for about an hour. Let myself wallow in my pain and my regret for mistaking hot water for cold water. I'm not sure how to regard this idea of pain, then. Is it positive? Does it do good things for me? Or does it alienate me? Make me incapable of moving beyond my current subjective experience? It seems to me that it does draw my attention more closely to my own point of view. But at the same time it did prompt these reflection. Anyways, who knows.

Second thing, Cioran has a section where he talks about the importance of expressing our emotions. He asks why it is no longer for men to cry in the modern era? He says that men in medieval and ancient times thought that crying was a good thing. That it was something we needed to do. A sign of strength even. He says that we shouldn't model ourselves after sages, but after children. We should throw ourselves to the floor and kick and scream when we need to. Fuck this 'strength' that tells us to hide our emotions. He then talks about screaming. He says that each one of us would benefit from screaming for fifteen minutes every day. He even says that special rooms should be constructed for this purpose! Screaming rooms! What a kick! Love to hear a serious philosopher say shit like that. But anyways, I find this comforting for a few reasons. In the first place I find it comforting in my immediate life. I always want to express my emotions. So today when I burnt myself I felt sad. I don't need to be all chipper happy Riley, because my fucking mouth hurts, and I feel sad. So it is okay that I become quiet and sad for a little while. I was doing the necessary sulking that I needed to do. I was grieving for my scorched taste buds. But it also makes me feel good about my life and my relationship with emotions in general. You see, I have always been a crier. Tears come easily to me. Much more so in the past than they do now. But I always hated it. I always thought that I was somehow lacking in 'strength' or 'self-control'. But I find Cioran's advocacy of weeping to be so hopeful. Why should we deny ourselves the most useful remedy for our woes? If we feel like crying, why shouldn't we cry? Cry! For your sake! CRY! Lol.

This has been rapid fire and unstructured. My mouth hurts and I can't go on reflecting like this. I hope that I can continue to ruminate on these ideas and somehow incorporate them into my next big essay, or my future writing. I think it is worthwhile to think about the body, its discomforts, and how that relates to thoughts and feelings. I also think it is important to think about how we express ourselves, how history places certain constraints on how we express ourselves, and what ways of expressing ourselves feel the best. I suspect that my sense of my body has a lot to do with why I think the way that I do, and I also think that I have felt very effected by history's standards for expression. But I just want to accept my body, my feelings, and my mind, so that I can express myself.


  1. I'm so glad that you turned this into a blog post. I hope your mouth feels better soon!

  2. "Cry! For your sake! CRY!"

    Lol I completely agree with you on this. :)

    And yeah, the mouth/hot water incident does not sound pretty. Hope you feel better dude.

  3. Relevant: