Body Wisdom

An extended quote, from a female and newly-pregnant character in Foucalt's Pendulum. Be told: A bit explicit.

"Pow, archetypes don't exist; the body exists. The belly inside is beautiful, because the baby grows there, because your sweet cock, all bright and jolly, thrusts there, and good, tasty food descends there, and for this reason, the cavern, the grotto, the tunnel are beautiful and important, and the labyrinth too, which is made in the image of our wonderful intestines. When somebody wants to invent something beautiful and important, it has to come from there, because you also come from there the day you were born, because fertility always comes from inside a cavity, where first something rots and then, lo and behold, there's a little man, a date, a baobab."

"And high is better than low because if you have your head down, the blood goes to your head, because feet stink and hair doesn't stink as much, because it's better to climb a tree and pick fruit than end up underground, food for worms, and because you rarely hurt yourself hitting something above - you really have to be in an attic - while you often hurt yourself falling. That's why up is angelic and down is devilish."

"But what I said before, about my belly, is also true, both things are true, down and inside are beautiful, and up and outside are beautiful, and the spirit of Mercury and Manicheanism have nothing to do with it. Fire keeps you warm and cold gives you bronchial pneumonia, especially if you're a scholar four thousand years ago, and therefore fire has mysterious virtues besides it's ability to cook your chicken. But cold preserves that same chicken, and fire, if your touch it, gives you a blister this big; therefore, if you think of something preserved for millennia, like wisdom, you have to think of it on a mountain, up, high (and high is good), but also in a cavern (which is good, too) and in the eternal cold of the Tibetan snows (best of all). And if you want to know why wisdom comes from the Orient and not from the Swiss Alps, it's because the body of your ancestors in the morning, when it woke and there was still darkness, looked to the east hoping the sun would rise and there wouldn't be rain."

"Yes, Mama."

"Yes, indeed, my child. The sun is good because it does the body good, and it has the sense to reappear every day; therefore, what returns is good, not what passes and is done with. The easiest way to return from where you've been without retracing your steps is to walk in a circle. The animal that coils in a circle is the serpent; that's why so many cults and myths of the serpent exist, because it's hard to represent the returning of the sun with the coiling of the hippopotamus. Furthermore, if you have to make a ceremony to invoke the sun, it's best if you move in a circle, because if you go in a straight line, you move away from home, which means the ceremony will have to be kept short. The circle is the most convenient arrangement for any rite, even the fire-eaters in the marketplace know this, because in a circle everyone can see the one who's in the center, whereas if a whole tribe formed a straight line, like a squad of soldiers, the people at the ends wouldn't see. And that's why the circle and rotary motion and cyclic return are fundamental to every cult and every rite.""

(Skipping ahead a bit, past a couple paragraphs of numbers-in-the-body)

"Or, if you like, take the anatomy of your menhir, which your authors are always talking about. Standing up during the day, lying down at night - your thing, too. No, don't tell me what it does at night. The fact is that erect it works and prone it rests. So the vertical position is life, pointing sunward, and obelisks stand as trees stand, while the horizontal position and night are sleep, death. All cultures worship menhirs, monoliths, pyramids, columns, but nobody bows down to balconies and railings. Did you ever hear of an archaic cult of the sacred banister? You see? And another point: if you worship a vertical stone, even if there are a lot of you, you can all see it; but if you worship, instead, a horizontal stone, only those in the front row can see it, and the others start pushing, me too, me too, which is not a fitting sight for a magical ceremony..."

"But rivers..."

"Rivers are worshiped not because they're horizontal, but because there's water in them, and you don't need me to explain to you the relation between water and the body... Anyway, that's how we're put together, all of us, and that's why we work out the same symbols millions of kilometers apart, and naturally they all resemble each other."