The corporeal experience of a good philosophical conversation

Let us define eros as an experience of nearness and extraordinary aliveness. Then we can begin to describe the experience of eros for an adept in philosophical life. My experience anyway.

As a good philosophical conversation unfolds, I sense eros like so (though the ‘feel’ of each event is different, unique, fine-grained):

  • my lungs grow larger, deeper, fuller;
  • my breathing gets deeper, reaches farther down into the diaphragm and past that even, sometimes as low as my belly-button; sometimes my lungs flutter;
  • my eyes get softer, watery, bluer, unfocused on one thing, focused on the brightness and ‘feel’ of colors;
  • my hearing becomes more acute, more attentive;
  • my throat narrows as if speaking were not ‘too much’ but simply unnecessary;
  • my jaw, neck, and facial muscles soften, slide down, remain still;
  • above all, my words grow longer, slower, grainier, more textured.

Poor inquiries do not elicit these corporeal experiences of sober joy. These experiences accompany only good inquiries in which we make sense of things, and they occur most often near the end. With especially good conversation partners, they occur in the beginning even. Interestingly, it does not matter whether the philosophical conversation takes place in person or over the phone. Regardless, it is a form–perhaps one of the highest forms–of intimate knowing.

A conversation ends with a deep exhalation, as full and slow as an exhalation can possibly be. Not before and not held onto after. The period achieves its purest expression in the philosophical good-bye.

I biked home with silk…

I biked home with silk. The late night was so silky, silk-spun, silk-fed, as silky as I was. All was clear and translucent, the moon fuller than it had been, and all along I went without plans. I was not frightened by this; my self-assurance was a background seamless with the silken night. How the path went I did not care; whatever way would be fine, would lead me home, would.

For I was grace with the night, I was motion. I was the sweetness of spring, I was sweetness. I was activity, pure and simple, the joy of acting in concert with nature. Opposing nothing, I imposed upon nothing.

Which bridge, I thought. Which would be present when I came to it? I was not on Vanderbilt, it appeared, so it would not be the Queensborough. I noted that I was heading toward downtown, so it might be the Brooklyn or the Manhattan. I desired neither more than the other. I was not pulled in either direction and did not weigh my options. I rode and sensed, sensed night and legs. I rode. Whatever happened would be fine. The question was as nothing.

And here I was, circling up the Manhattan Bridge, then riding not toward the Hudson but sliding up the Lower East Side. Around me from the East Village to Midtown were drunken women and clumsy men flagging cabs and grinning. Around me were yellowings and reddenings and turnings and Bloomberg’s playful bike lanes turning this way and that. All the while, there was seamlessness and the near-full moon aloft.

Where were they, these high-pitched women and sodden men? Where were they, these lonely lost? Nowhere, they were nowhere, but they had fucking on them and fog rolling over them. And I? Where was I? Ah! I was one with the night, unplanning, silken, moving whatever which way, understanding ‘whatever which way’ as a blessedness. I? I was there, I was there, my friend, without wishes or cares or concerns, I so silken with the night that I would never stop until the end. I would go on until I came to the end of the island and pedaled off into the dark water or until my tires came to rest in front of my home.