To cleave means both adhere to and break from, and thus the perfect word for the human condition. From birth we strive to connect and to individuate, connect and individuate. It is both our struggle and our power.
To make art is an attempt to cleave in both directions of the word: to find what I alone can express such that you and I can momentarily be as one. But I can’t think of you in the process. I can only get to you by being as deeply authentic a me as I can get. Only by connecting to myself can I depart from myself.
My friend the psychotherapist spends much of her energy working with her clients on this very thing — only when they can connect to themselves are they able to connect with others. And that frustrated desire for connection, both to themselves and to others, is so often the source of their psychic, and sometimes physical, pain. Often they have to get to one-ness through a cleaving in reenactment — cleaving with/from our original community, our parents. When we are not yet ourselves, they are all we have, the “I” only existing in our reactions to the onset of the world against our skin and senses, and the assault and woo of words.
That too is a confusion of self and other. Where does the sun end and my skin begin, or the cool of water and my ankles, knuckle of rock and the bottom of my feet? Cells have permeable membranes, and though the skin protects through a complex mechanism of balancing solutions, water and me have begun a slow relationship. But how the stream records our interaction differs a bit from my scrawl of ink on paper.
Some scientist claims to have proved that water can remember. But I’ll never be this me again, and the stream has already gone, and although my mother remembers me she may not remember why, and didn’t she betray me by requiring I be but one aspect of my individual self, and wasn’t my father as impermeable as this rock, or does it too somehow know me, or that foot that rests on it, the callus, the arch, and as all of my cells are replaced over time and the rock too slowly wears away under water and my father dead so long, aren’t we all forgetting together, alone?