On Losing Sight by Benson Eluma

by Dami Ajayi

Something is not-so-wrong this morning. Been playing some oldies, then got to this video. Classic, therefore open to every praise and accusation in the book. You could call it sublime or infantile, self-conscious or crypto-sexist, lavish or minimalist. You could call it in the same fraction of breath archaic and eternal. At 3:08 something happens. The doctor herself takes some of the medicine she’s just administered on her love-ailing patient, she swigs it stylishly like—your guess on the simile I’ll choose is right, my friend!—it’s Pilsner. Afterwards, she removes her spectacles and gives you the voyeur that look…. Made me laugh, then it dawned that this is the moment of parabasis, the meta-moment when the text comments on and gestures beyond itself. Jesus says in Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Fifth Gospel’: ‘It is not those that are sick who need a doctor, but those that are healthy.’ Everybody needs healing, Lord Jesus. Medicine, like love, like music, like language, is a descendant of sympathetic magic, contagion. The patient collaborates with the doctor to diagnose their common condition. Labour of love. Isn’t that what the true classics of passion do between their producers and consumers, diagnose our common ailments? And in doing so they become our aliments. We take them with us, even into the bedchamber where we recreate ourselves by ingesting each other in toto—all-round healing through whole-body transplant in a carnal sacrament of which the cannibal partakes because s/he wishes to incorporate the total essence of the other in appreciation of the other, in revocation of amour propre. The physician, not the potion, is the patient’s therapy; vice versa. 3:08 is a moment that dirty-minded, crotchety Harry, otherwise known as Aristotle, would appreciate. He would appreciate it, but only secretly at dead of night. At 3:08 peripeteia and anagnorisis coincide, thus satisfying the expectations as laid bare in the Poetics. Finally, I recognize myself because I see that your malady is mine, and mine yours. I see you, I feel you, therefore, I am. You see yourself bristling with life as you look in the mirror of my eyes and confront the reflected fires of your unease, my dis-ease. The dialectic, the negation of the negation, leaves the realm of abstractions and is made concrete in the synthesis of flesh with flesh. I stop seeing myself, stop feeling myself because I see, because I feel, you. And then I can’t see you anymore because I just so feel you, and you can’t see me either or even see yourself because you feel me, too. We see us, we see with eyes wide shut, then we stop seeing altogether, only feeling beyond feelings, drowning in the depths of that terrifically sensate orgy of the sixth sense of our frenzied union. The eye that is so blindly immersed in vision, immured in its aqueous medium, does not have to see itself, the ‘I’ that dissipates into the body of the love-signifying other in ‘continual surrender… to something which is more valuable… a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality’.

At 3:08 I recognize that I need that Pils, too.


Who is Benson Eluma?