Friday, April 1, 2011


An experience of the Salvia Bardo is one of being ripped apart. This process begins at the arm, in which the appendage is sliced into an infinite number of manifolds which is then seemingly expanded around the leading edge of a Poincare sphere. To understand what this process feels like, you need only imagine how Tetsuo must feel when his arm is entering into full-spasmodic transformation, in the anime movie Akira.

The loss of one’s arm is symbolic of Karmic Law. In the 2007 film Beowulf (Warning; spoilers ahead) the eponymous hero journeys to Denmark at the behest of King Hrothgar, whose kingdom is nightly assailed by a monster, called Grendel. Beowulf’s attack on the monster is characterised by its ferocity, which appears to be informed by his distain for all things misshapen and loathsome. By making swift use of a winch and a chain, he wrenches off the creature’s arm. He then punches it repeatedly in a large cist located behind the ear. This is an area of the body which runs along the parallel meridians and, as such is associated with the storage and removal of various toxins from the body. By punching him in this manner, Beowulf succeeds in reducing Grendels size (stature) significantly.
Beowulf chastises Grendel and calls him a “demon”. To which Grendel rightly responds; I am no demon. He is, in fact, the hybrid child of King Hrothgar and a nameless water demon.

 In the wake of Beowulf’s triumphant battle, Grendel lurches back to cave, and mother, to die. Upon seeing what has befallen her only child, she vows revenge. She does not have long to wait, as Beowulf goes in search of Grendel’s head as a trophy. Through her feminine charms, she manages to persuade Beowulf to abandon his quest for Grendel’s head – in return for kingship and immunity from death by mortal hand. Upon returning to the kingdom empty handed, our hero concocts a story to satisfy all inquery. Hrothgar, however, sees through his lies to the actual events which unfolded, and realising that he is now free of the water demon’s curse, he promptly commits suicide.

Years later, Beowulf is seen watching over the battlefield, wondering if man’s hostility towards man does not make him every bit the monster Grendel had been. Although he has inherited Hrothgar’s kingdom, surely he must wonder if he has not inherited his evil curse, as well? Not long afterwards, on the outskirts of the village, the priest’s family is incinerated by an enormous dragon. The dragon is the half-man, half-demon progeny of Beowulf’s unholy union with Grendel’s mother. By virtue of having Beowulf as father, this monster is far more powerful than had Grendel ever been.

In the ensuing battle, Beowulf's arm is severed, but it remains attached to his person by means of a long chain. As he dangles limply from the dragon’s chest, it is evident by his demeanor that the karmic irony of the events are not altogether lost on him. Gathering up every last ounce of strength, Beowulf manages to defeat his son and, in the process, dies alongside him.

Life, as shown in this age-old legend, is but a series of Karmic causes and conditions, each one like the link of a chain. Hence, the repeated juxtaposition of the loss of one’s arm and the chain/chainmail, signifies this Karmic value.

Another film which has a father and son theme, in which both father and son lose their arms, is of course Star Wars. Perhaps a more recent example, would be Danny Boyles’s 127 hours, based upon the true story of a lone hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco) who got his arm caught underneath a boulder. Throughout his experience he suffers many hallucinations, including one in which he claims to have seen his, as then, unborn son offering him much needed encouragement. Faced with the very real possiblity of starvation, he eventual succeeds in severing his own arm, using nothing more than a blunt knife and the weight of the rock itself.

A synchronistic account of 127 Hours can be found on these websites; An experience of being alive and The Synch Hole. Here is a list of thoughts drawing partly on their findings.

Nova-november, the brightening of the sun.
The Chilean miners coming out of the Earth;
this is contact with the heavens, the infinite.
The longest town name;
The infinite, the ridiculous, and the end of.
Pheonix rising.

127 hours; do not do this.
Forbidden because it leads to the irrational,
the insane,
                 the creative,
                                     the sacred,
                                                      the infinite.
The finite is fraught with dangers.
The infinite is insane.
Where should we be, then, but in the middle?
We are infinite, but we die. We are finite, but we are alive.

No comments:

Post a Comment