Just a Shot Away

Credit: Johanne Krause
Credit: Johanne Krause
Credit: Johanne Krause

Credit: Johanne Krause

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
(The Rolling Stones)

my wild shot–
demanding simply
that the ovule shall construct–

rings the target bell and

is ready to dispense with incarnation:
the mass of accumulated suspense,
specialized

there is only reasoning where there is initial
error, weakness of the spurt, wandering search
(from “Caught for a Circus”)

Admittedly, something less than highbrow is going on here. At least where my thinking is concerned.

In a recent New York Review of Books review essay by Steven Mithen called “Most of Us Are Part Neanderthal” we are made aware of a particular lack of “large chunks” of DNA in modern humans that are present in apes. One such chunk, a lack or absence that we might (must?) argue is revelatory in its consequences.

We do, however, learn something about the differences between the human and ape genomes from Pääbo’s book. He recounts a conference presentation by Corey McLean in 2010 that described how modern humans were missing 583 large chunks of DNA that are present in apes. Those chunks had included some genes that are consequently now absent in humans. One such gene had been related to a protein that limits the extent to which neurons divide and hence its absence has “something to do” with how brains got larger in human evolution. According to these books, that seems to be as far as we can currently go in relating molecular biology to mentality in human evolution.

Fortunately, another chunk of missing DNA provides something more concrete. In the DNA that humans no longer have there was a gene that, in apes, encodes for a protein expressed in penile spines, the curiously named structures on the penises of apes that cause males to ejaculate very quickly. Lacking such spines, modern humans are able to enjoy prolonged intercourse. This gene was also found—luckily for them—to be absent from Neanderthals.

The imagination reels here. The very act of prolonging intercourse may be very nearly related to the act of cognition and memory. And, I would think, every evil we could imagine.

Did that seem a leap? What I “see” is the mind at work trying to find more ways to “outwit” the Alpha and to remain “in congress” for as long as possible. Thus the “self” attached to the attainment of gratification.

Now, it’s easy enough to draw the conclusion that here is another point of objectification…or that is, this is where objectification in relation to a subject begins. One becomes a “subject” via the mind discovering itself in prolonged intercourse–delayed ejaculation–one “uses” the “object” (female) to achieve this. The object becomes integral to the process but only as the way to become, not as a “self” in relation to another self. That is, the female becomes the path to self-awareness but not a being of likeness.

Does one assume that the female undergoes this same process? See, one gets a bit confused when trying to make some grand explanation out of accidental and partial “discovery.”

In any event, I was put in mind of the movie Quest for Fire when Rae Dawn Chong directs her mate away from the “animal” position for copulation into the “missionary” position and thus, I believe, “love” is born–or perhaps mutual regard. And there’s fire too!

Now, related to this (I think), sometime last year I tried to turn an essay by Ezra Pound into a poem. It was less than successful, but parts might be worth sharing. (If you’re so inclined to you can read it and, lucky you, listen to me read it: “Caught for a Circus.”) The gist of this essay, and the poem, is that the “brain” is born out of the spermatozoon. Yep. But to be clear, this is not Pound’s idea, he takes this from Remy de Gourmont whose “Natural Philosophy of Love” Pound translated from the French. And Pound gives de Gourmont the Poundian twist in his Postscript to the book. It’s this Postscript that I twisted into a poem.

So, I pull a quote from de Gourmont first…

“There might be, perhaps, a certain
correlation between complete
and profound copulation and
the development of the brain.”

before heading into the murky waters of Pound’s “thinking.”

more than likely the brain is, in
origin and development, only
a great clot of genital fluid held
in suspense or reserve;
a usufruct.

that power of the spermatozoon
is precisely
the power of exteriorizing a form

each of these particles is,
we need not say, conscious of form,
but has by all counts a capacity for formal
expression:

is not thought precisely
form-comparing and form-combining

charging,
head-on, the female chaos

driving any
new idea into the great passive
vulva of the metropolis,
a sensation analogous
to the male feeling in copulation

the “inventions,” the new gestures,
the extravagance, the wild shots,
the impractical,
in him occurs the new up-jut

consider the lack

of any other known substance
in nature
capable of growing into
the brain

The great gob of cerebral goo
efflux of the godhead
shooting Athena
out of Zeus

claymation Adam Kadmon
the rain released upon the dusty
ground invites a shaping

There’s a lot more and most of it works it’s way into the expression of mind in machinery.

the great divergence has been
in detaching mind, no, dispatching mind
into tools

grow a tool and de-
tach it

fire for digestion
a ruthless usurping

the first tool
turned brain from body

It is a failure as poetry but I do want to believe it does perform a kind of service as a “thought” exercise.

Anyway, as you can imagine (and as you saw me flounder about earlier in trying to think “into” the female from the male) the female gets very short shrift in Pound’s presentation.

And of woman?
A flood is as bad as a famine

the ovular bath could still account for
the refreshment of the female mind, and
the recharging of its “traditional

aptitudes;” where one woman appears to
benefit by an alluvial
clarifying, ten dozen appear to

be swamped. Woman, the conservator, the
inheritor of past gestures, clever,
practical, not inventive, always the

best disciple of any inventor,
has been the enemy of the dead or
laborious form of compilation,

abstraction

I’m not even sure what I can say about that. But I will say that I like the way Pound makes this an origin story for a great ejaculating god: that the brain is a product of or evolution of the “quickening” fluid and that this fluid is an incarnation of energy and light.

A single out-push of a demand,
made by a spermatic sea
sufficient of energy to cast form

as one electric pole wills
sparks to another

to exteriorize

to act in this with more
enthusiasm than caution

Let us say quite simply that light is a
projection from the luminous fluid,
from the energy that is in the brain,
down along the nerve cords which will receive

vibrations

in the eye. Suppose man capable of
exteriorizing a new organ,
horn, halo, horus’ eye; given a brain
of this power, we must ask questions: to what
purpose? And what organ?

This makes no “sense” and makes all “sense” at the same time. Or rather, that this, the analogizing of any and all “such stuff,” is what “mind” is. This is its work.

But to end this particular spurt of mind let’s return to de Gourmont who seems to me to have intuited exactly what is being suggested in the NYRB article.

“There might be, perhaps, a certain
correlation between complete
and profound copulation and
the development of the brain.

…an idea rather than an argument,
yet…”

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Douglas Storm is a host and producer for Interchange on Bloomington, Indiana's community radio station WFHB. "Why then do you try to 'enlarge' your mind? Subtilize it..."

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