Firstly, a concession of two common if not universal human desires: the desire for personal expression, and the desire for social connection. Boil each down to its concentrate. A human being’s personal expression is their attempt to stake a social placement. Indeed, that placement may be abstract; the loner in the Alaska cabin wishing no sight of another and painting only for self, yet those paintings are seeking a connection with a cloned sensibility if not (and far more commonly) another’s sensibility. A social connection is the desire for a venue suitable for authentic personal expression. Do not mistake these desires as being synonymous. The relation is better imaged as an attempted call/response symbiosis where one offers voice and ear for that which reminds them of their authenticity, seeking appreciative ear and eager voice in return. That is the pull of the magnets. But it must be understood, that pull is a primitive pull. It knows its need for voice and ear more than its purpose for voice and ear, like an old dog offering a few barks at racket outside a door, then falling asleep without identifying the noise. The push, however, is far more veiled, and brims to the fringes of conscious assessment. It is a concern that one’s participation in a symbiosis may wither into an amensalism from which one’s voice is slowly annexed. And this is a healthy and good fear. But as with so much, fear of being only ear has a counterbalancing danger; the tyranny of being only voice. Both serve as the inceptions of loneliness, but only the former seems readily identified as such. It is too infrequently realized that to seek only confirmation of being understood- the atom of creative expression- is to create the clones sought by the cabin painter; an insecure need for approval which stunts a potentially flourishing maturation of intimacy that is true commensalism. And it is that- identifying the precise boundary points of interaction appearing the most cartographically natural to achieve commensalism- which not merely yields possibility of elemental communion, but indeed the (maddeningly elusive) certainty of it. It is the construction of a puzzle by way of border mapping. One need not know the larger picture beforehand; assemble the pieces, and the synergistic whole will appear in vivid and certain form.
So if true, why do so few human interactions achieve that intimacy?
And here is the asterisk; said beings must first revere true commensalism above the panicked desperation of all voice, or simplified masochism of all ear. There is surely great comfort in both; comforts that consume a tragic majority of human interactions to an extent to have perverted most if not all power structure models even if one argues it is not inherent to power structure models per se. But that is yet stronger reason to cherish the virgin forests (hope trace acreage is left in all) unaltered by the heavy machinery of brutal and naked human survival. When one is staring into these woods, one is staring into the surviving ancient wilderness of their once-whole homeostatic landscape. If one is to find the undiscovered species within them, they are to find them there, and if one is to find a tribe/friend/mate that sets fire to encroaching development, they will find their fellow warriors in those woods. Thus, we have whittled the riddle to its greatest reveal; the reason human beings are horrified by the vulnerable demands and trusts associated with achieving human commensalism, rests precisely in our scarcity of experience in its landscape. It cannot be overstated how small of a preserve modernity affords it, nor how rebellious in the face of encroach one must be to defend the preserve, let alone hope to reclaim lost lands. Modernity’s collateral damage has reduced those primal vestiges- those sacredly alive vestiges- into zoos offering disturbingly inaccurate renderings of what primal health looks like: a naked couple in a summer night bedroom falling asleep in a slowing sea of tender post-sex kisses on dewy skin as cool honeysuckle air wafts in through gentle rains on shamelessly wet windowsills, reduced to an internet pop-up .gif of bouncing breasts and ramming penis with an almost implicitly comedic aesthetic. Over time, it has suppressed a primitivism perhaps more central to living than sex itself; the human closeness of courtship without pretense, and a more prominent dovetail of safety before and beyond the carnal temporality.
Enumerable parallels are being redefined in said zoos. Music is paraded in a cage from which it performs a circus act of 4 minute “love songs”, as if its Adam and Eve were instructed to retreat in timely manner as to not bore potential Pepsi converts. Writing itself eats an increasingly stock-ingredient of concession; it would appear the first upright words agreeing to string themselves into a sentence had a bylaw to remain silent until the slowest reader agreed to the cohesion of the grammar. These, our lost night wolves- muzzle to moon in desperation- last survivors of an ancient shrinking forest, dying before true extinction by way of domestication. And- know this if nothing else- domestications of distinct economic purpose. If that is not true in explicit plot, one can surely concede it is true as collateral to the machinations of profit, power, and related assaults on human nativity.
The order of operations, if desire and reverence for human commensalism are to be nurtured (or depending how one views prehistoric tribalism, reclaimed) must be by encouragement to work backwards from what we have left to define our human intimacy, to what we sense as directional towards the oldest trees on the horizon. Through the sexual experience blurring into the unwalled inhibitions of other intimacies, through the musical, the poetical, the laugh, the cry, the desire for truth unbridled for the giving and the taking, the dance, the weight of birth and death without the safety tethers of comedy, the weight of comedy without the safety tethers of appropriateness, through an anger embraced and earnestly communicated, through a forgiveness given with trust of lesson learned, through forgiveness sought with trust of lesson not needing repeating, through the play, the movie, the bird song of a language unknown and known all at once, through a silhouette in sun or a shadow in fog that is more than the form or the soul of either without the lighting, through the psychotropic shredding fences we never meant to construct, through sobrieties meant to connect trusts we needn’t intoxicate to share, a shared desert moon over a lazy campfire with religious or irreligious convictions displaced, through all these experiences- precisely in all these experiences- a massive fanning delta, from which we sense the same river.
Go to its headwaters. Up where the mountains get too steep for cut. There, one finds the preserve; verdant fertility cast against the stillness of the forgotten. Live there whenever possible. The further from headwaters, the more at sea. To be sound when crossing high seas, one needs to know there is more than the sea itself. And that Western awareness, always sickly from the distraction of cultural content, now finds the last of its sanctity being felled by the projection’s speed. One needs a vision of a dock more inviting than the lonely turgidity of crashing waves and spray. And the visionless and goalless will seek the companionships of the similarly stricken over the sea. But to be in a mad city is to know no peace. The sane will always flee. The call to sea becomes a regretful plummet from a burning window and nothing more. So time at sea, with or without a sense of a shore worth landing, is inevitable. Lighthouses whirl in the form of pensions and gods and grandchildren, breaking the bleakness with a suspiciously ordered solution, and we remember harbors that drew us in before, jading our hearts with snake oils short of cure.
To be truly seaworthy, one needs to sense other ships on the water struggling to find safe harbor as well; the solidarity of the foghorn in that enveloping lightless night…and somewhere out there, that faint response. That voice that needs to speak a true word and ear that needs to hear a true voice. The shared chaos of agony fighting hope that refuses its travails drowned by dead eyes with living mouths anchored to the nearest passing island.
Shores which fade away in time and wouldn’t let us be.
Some lonely loose armada, ‘til we’re sound across the sea.