Op Note IX
I was alone at a research station in Antarctica. No assistants available. No high end equipment. I had gone south in order to experience absolute zero. Foolish. Conceited. But I needed everything to slow down, be still. A place where even piercing screams hung silent in the frozen air. Nothing moves, neither particle nor wave. When the pain came I acted quickly. Knife, iodine, a mirror that kept fogging. You say you could never do it but we cut into ourselves everyday. Claw at the inside of our skulls. Promise enduring ardor and then break the hearts of our very own souls over our knees. We feast upon our most secret treasures. You do it. We all do it. This was more of the same. If I didn’t get it out in time I would die. I could feel it about to burst. So I worked for a bit, packed with ice, worked some more, packed with ice, worked. You get the idea. You can sweat even when all liquid has to freeze. I dug and dug with frozen fingers and spread a path all the way inside. Layer by layer. Skin, fat, fascia, fat, fascia, muscle, fascia, muscle, peritoneum, and then in, the warm squiggly guts. This is the entrance to agony. The only place to find warmth. You see, the deepest empathy arises in the context of self harm. Where one’s own actions elicit instantaneous feeling. The stove is hot. This knife is sharp. You never forget. The very essence of truth. I am doing the thing that I am feeling. This is the pain I can tell by the look on your face, just before you cry. To call yourself names and believe they are coming from someone else. The absence of delay except at the level of the synapse. Without intermediary. By the time I found it I could only chuck it into the snow before I passed out. There was no formalin. No morphine either. Now we’ll never know what it was. But it lies perfectly preserved under layers of ice, patiently waiting for a someday thaw, tightly coiled in a motionless menace.