Instinct is like salt, cinnamon, or cilantro

Instinct is like salt, cinnamon, or cilantro

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    About 90% of the time 'trusting your instinct' is a ghastly idea. Usually a cover for some hideously narcissistic perpetration upon someone. My instinct is always to have another piece of Chocolate Cake & Chocoearly Cake. Trust your instinct at your peril. 

   In Viscera, the Obsidian Arts, it says, “By ‘viscera’ I mean ‘the guts.’ All the gluck under the heart. Forfend that our highfalutin' philosophy discuss intestines. We are too fine. We are evolved. We have a big brain, a Big Brain. We cherish our heart, we polish our soul.

   “Yeats speaks to the neglected viscera when he says that 'we end where all ladders start, in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.' I would suggest that he meant the viscera here, the ‘basement’ of the heart. But the word ‘viscera’ doesn't fit the irresistible rhyme of his lines.

   “Tonight I come to laud viscera — where 'ladders start.' I suggest that unless we educate and placate viscera, we will only pretend to be civilized.”

   Instinct is viscera lite. Instinct is the bongos.  Viscera is the big drum. Viscera is profounder. Viscera is the ground for instinct. Or maybe you could say the instinct is the swallow, the hirondelle. Viscera is the condor.

    The reason I’ve never ‘trusted my instinct’ without reservation is that it is capricious. It tends to dip its quill in desire –sometimes fun and smart. Other times instinct’s bright ideas distinctly stink. You follow its urging and splat, into the mudpuddle. Left cold and wet – and it has no regret. You pay the consequences and it shrugs. It is linked much more closely to the collective unconscious and therefore it has archetypal powers of persuasion. These archetypes (the inner hero; the inner romantic; the inner scoundrel; et al) have aeons of practice at cajolery or bullying or the false as hell appearance of sweet reason. But the concrete consequences aren’t so much of an interest to your instinct. Instinct knows how to wheedle.

   I’m not suggesting that one should default to100% reason or its facsimile. Instinct is like salt, cinnamon, or cilantro – damned tasty and essential, but you can’t live on it. Listen, sure, but consider before you heed. Most people are afraid of any instinct because it can have embarrassed them or impoverished them or made them join patriotic or religious groups and kill people in the Name of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />America or some such ghastliness. Keep your discernment. But if it passes the reasonably harmless test, do be swayed. Just beware that it has a lock on charm and it can convince you that it is harmless or even noble.

   Perhaps you can say that viscera is the whole tide and instinct is a wave.

   I haven’t ever murdered anyone, but I would reckon that murder would be a deep visceral driven act.

    Instinct if it joins with our art can be an amazing ally. It has better senses than reason – keener, quicksilveryer. Now I didn’t say it was more sensible. Nope. Because it isn’t linear, it can make connections that would never occur to reason. It follows the scent of desire like the panther as dark as the night, of the night, or even the hawk, high, of the light, under the sun, but it isn’t wise. The trick is to put some modicum of wise in the game. The old endless, always new, promethean task, is to hold the fire lest the whole forest burn, and then after, with a shudder you say, but Why? Hold the fire.

   The best game is to ride the fire just short of real maiming pain. It’s tricky.



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2 thoughts on “Instinct is like salt, cinnamon, or cilantro

  1. I know I need to write more on this, cl, but 'tuning in' to the viscera can have balroggian and cavernous undertones and can't be done too lightly sometimes.

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