The Eyes Have It
“I shall give you what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor hand touched, neither has entered into the heart of Man.” …Jesus, Gospel of Thomas, logion 17.
The eyes have it.
“To look at the human eye is to grasp the pattern of the entire universe.” So says Jacques Lacarriere in his 1973 essay Les Gnostiques, published by Peter Owen, London. He speaks of various bodily orifices, moving from the mouth, the anus and the navel to the eye.
As for the anus, well, here he waxes eloquent. “This rectified worm that is man, cannot survive without destroying the life around him…and expelling through his anus the corrupted products of this corrupting massacre. He absorbs filth through one end and rejects it in a still more corrupt state through the other."
Think about it, defecation I mean. It’s really quite gross, and it’s heavy. A heavy discussion, this, as it was for those first century Gnostics. For them, all the enigmatic sediment of the cosmos came fluttering down onto their lonely doomed planet and became Matter—and Matter is heavy. Man’s primary project became to lighten up, climb out of the abysmal darkness, move upward to realms of Light. Meanwhile, every time he defecates he is reminded of his heaviness, his prison of corruption which starts with his body and spreads to all four corners of the Earth. Everything that’s ever happened on this planet, all human history, all our endeavors and pretensions, religions and philosophies, amounts pretty much to one huge heavy heap of dung, stinking back at him from his chamber-pot. Everything about man, everything that is in him (waiting to come through his anus smelling to high heaven) predestines him to be an obstacle to the expansion of light.
“This then is the origin of the curious—but perfectly logical—notion that the bodies of those who attain to a higher level of consciousness, which may be interpreted as a lightening of their Matter, must be liberated from such scandalous servitude. The Gnostic Valentinus affirms quite naturally therefore that Jesus ate and drank but did not defecate. Foods did not become corrupt in him, for in him there was no corruption.”
Ah, but all is not lost. At the other end of the body, farthest from the anus, is the eye, proof that man possesses evidence of his partially divine origin. The eye alone lives on light. It is the only aperture whose exchanges with the external world escape corruption, as well as the law of entropy. It is the only opening in the body that lives on light while the rest of the body is sustained entirely by filth.
“Let us examine the eye. It is round, globular, it resembles the universe as described by the Gnostics… There is the central circle of the pupil, the abyss of shadows wherein one may glimpse the depths of the soul and the reflection of that luminous emulsion which is the metrical trace of the divine Light. To contemplate the eye, to lose oneself in this dark well, is to seize the ultimate nature of our existence in this world, the magical point at which man and god meet and are united.”
Ah, the mystery of the eye. The stars in the skies, the stars in your eyes. Back to where we started, the infinite smallness of the human eyeball, to man himself, compound of light and darkness, mud and flame, a microcosm torn between conflicting entities, a net which has retained, in the form of a Spark, the fragile souvenir of his abortive birth.
All the great saints—and I fear even Jesus—did defecate. In my novel Return to Narnia, my character Marcellus is disturbed by the vision of Saint Ignatius sitting on his bedpan, but when he looks into Sasha’s eyes,--or when I look into yours—there is only beauty, hope and light, and a glimmer of Truth. So lighten up. The canonical Jesus has a word for us here: take my yoke upon you, and learn of me… for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. That’s a very early saying, from back when Jesus was still a Gnostic.
I never understood it until now.
Here’s looking at you, kid.