26 October 2006

The physiology of will

perhaps the most sinister trend
in the fiasco of 20thC social science
is the near-total disappearance
of the topic of will

wm james gave it a whole chapter in 1890
but more recently
the predominant characteristic
of college-educated liberals
is the weakness of their wills
as if
the sinister 'They'
can't abide
strongwilled liberals
preferring bloodless eunuchs
like Chomsky or Nader

and marginalising anyone who manifests
a streak of Blake
(or Christ his Tyger)
as emotionally unstable
tying gentilepeople in knots
of guilt over Original Sin

while Their secret societies'
satanic initiations
require ritual shedding of
guilt and conscience

a process mirrored more graciously
but slowly
for the deeply spiritual
as karma-burning

(joyce had miraculously mostly achieved this
by 1904
but silently, cunningly
exiled it into his work

with an occasional attested oral slip
systematically marginalised by Ellmann
as emotional instability)

but how strange
that our nervous systems
so easily hand themselves over
to others' wills

how unfamiliar
the physiology of mind-wrestling [broken link there]
as we strain to resist
Their persuasive evil

what might it look like
in an nmri scan?

the most elegant design
ought to employ
one of the two available brain hemispheres
as acting-agent-of-the-Other

but i think too
the muscles of the will
must be mainly in the face
especially around the eyelids
showing worry and strain

(wilhelm reich taught an exercise
for breaking down
character armor
involving slow alert 360-degree
rolling of the eyes)