Note how the sphere becomes a shell-like torus midway through the eversion.
Note how we human beings are such that we can view reality from an inner first-person and outer third-person and experiences at once a metaphysical behind and a metaphysical beyond.
Recall that the Chinese coin was understood to be the negative space of Tao, the inner square, yin, the outer infinity, yang — but it is obvious these two are one and the same from everywhere beyond the coin.
In the creation myth this everting sphere just spawned, human being, human existence exists everywhere that the infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and periphery is nowhere forms a torus at mid-eversion, creating a unique everything, a soul, a person.
I wonder if I could make a book on images of eversions and the torus. I would make a chapbook, a second signature, to Geometric Meditations, and it would be called Everso.
Here’s the material I have so far, starting, of course with a dedication to the gorging torus, who I am now wondering is more complicated than I thought only days ago…
Rolled up like an egg
I have needed the word “evert” many times, but had to resort to flipping, reversing, inverting, turning… inside-out.
Evert – verb [with obj.]
Turn (a structure or organ) outward or inside out.
eversible – adjective.
eversion – noun
ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense ‘upset, overthrow’): from Latin evertere, from e- (variant of ex-) ‘out’ + vertere ‘to turn.’
Now I can say things like:
Everything in the world is the world everted.
A comedy is an everted tragedy. A tragedy is an everted comedy.
A pearl is an everted oyster shell. An oyster coats the ocean with mother-of-pearl. Outside the shell is ocean, inside the pearl is ocean. Between inner-shell and outer-pearl is slimy oyster-flesh, which ceaselessly coats everything it isn’t with mother-of-pearl. It is as if the flesh cannot stand anything that does not have a smooth, continuous and lustrous surface. We could call the flesh’s Other — that which requires coating — “father-of-pearl”.
Imagine Pandora’s box as a pearl everting to an all-ensconcing shell as Pandora opened it, and Eden as an all-ensconcing shell everted to a pearl upon Adam’s eviction.
In the end, the trees will grow like snakes, splitting and sloughing bark, bending in coils of green heartwood; and the snakes will grow like trees, depositing skin under skin, and in their turgid leather casings, they will lie about on the ground like broken branches.
An oyster coats the ocean with an inner-shell made of mother-of-pearl lined. Anything from the outside that gets inside is coated, too. A pearl is an everted oyster shell, and an everted pearl is a shell’s inner lining. Outside the shell is ocean, inside the pearl is ocean. Between inner-shell and outer-pearl is delicate oyster-flesh, which ceaselessly coats everything it is not with mother-of-pearl. It is as if this flesh cannot stand anything that does not have a smooth, continuous and lustrous surface. We could call the flesh’s Other — that which requires coating — father-of-pearl.
Minds secrete knowing like mother-of-pearl, coating irritant reality with lustrous likeness.
You are absurd. You defy comprehension.
That is, you defy my way of understanding. I cannot continue to understand my world as I understand it and also understand you.
That is, you do not fit inside my soul.
I am faced with the most fundamental moral choice: Do I break open my soul? or do I bury you in mother-of-pearl?
(A meditation on Levinas’s use of the term “exception” in Otherwise Than Being.)
We make category mistakes when attempting to understand metaphysics, conceiving what must be exceived.
Positive metaphysics are objectionable, in the most etymologically literal way, when they try to conceptualize what can only be exceptualized, to objectify that to which we are subject, to comprehend what comprehends — in order to achieve certainty about what is radically surprising.
In my own religious life, this category mistake is made tacitly at the practical and moral level, and then, consequentially, explicitly and consciously. Just as the retinas of our eyes see things upside-down, our mind’s eye sees things inside-out. We naturally confuse insidedness and outsidedness. By this view, human nature is less perverse than it is everse.
Imagine, with as much topological precision as you can muster, expulsion from Eden as belonging-at-home flipped inside-out.
That galut in the pit of your gut: everted Eden?
A garden is an everted fruit, and a fruit, an everted garden.
The nacre inner lining of a shell is an everted pearl, and a pearl, an everted nacre lining.
The exception is the everted conception, and the conception, the everted exception.
Pearls are inside-out oyster shells. Or are oyster shells inside-out pearls?
The oyster coats its world with layers of iridescent calcium. With the same substance it protects itself from the dangers concaving in from the outside and the irritants convexing it from the inside.
Some random notes on the inner topology of oysters…
A pearl is an inside-out oyster shell.
An oyster coats the ocean with mother-of-pearl.
Outside the shell is ocean, inside the pearl is ocean.
Between inner-shell and outer-pearl is slimy oyster-flesh, ceaselessly coating everything it isn’t with mother-of-pearl.
It is as if the flesh cannot stand anything that does not have a smooth, continuous and lustrous surface. We could call the flesh’s Other — that which requires coating — “father-of-pearl”.
Every pearl is an iridescent tomb with an irritant sealed inside. We love the luster of the outer coat, but inside is what was once known as filth.
We could also think of the oyster shell as the fortress walls and the pearl as a prison cell.
We make pearls of what is Other, then love what we’ve made of the Other, which is ourselves.
If you understand what you are trying to say, that is prose. If you are trying to understand something you are moved to say, that is poetry.
Most of the time I am not a poetic person. I have, however, been in states of mind where I’ve written poems. Some of them have bothered me for decades.
Four of these poems were visual. They were simple diagrams that gave me the exit to perplexities I’d entered. A perplexity can be described as an urgently unaskable question or problem. Not only the resolution, but the problem itself is inconceivable, despite the fact that it is felt with overwhelming intensity. Normally, perplexities are resolved with words, but each of these four diagrams were visual resolutions of perplexities. The words came after the diagrams did the essential work.
In early 2020, just before the pandemic struck, I printed these four diagrams along with poetic meditations and prose commentary.
One diagram I considered, but excluded, is one I call “gorging ouroboros”.
Part of the reason I excluded the gorging ouroboros is I see it as a negative “apotropaic” image, maybe a visual warning. Over the years, the danger has come into clearer focus. I associate it with a kind of ideological feedback loop, where we are consumed with thinking thoughts about our thoughts and feeling feelings about our own feelings — but these thoughts and feelings are unaware of how much they begin and end within the self, and how thick, and ever thickening, how insular and ever insulating these self-reflexive layers have grown against transcendent reality.
I also wrote a poem that corresponds with the visual, but it appears I have never actually put them together into a single chord, which is strange, because they are obviously pointing to the same notion.
In the end,
the trees will grow like snakes,
splitting and sloughing bark,
bending in coils of green heartwood;
and the snakes will grow like trees,
depositing skin under skin,
and in their turgid leather casings,
they will lie about on the ground
like broken branches.