And taking control
Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis
But it’s just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I’m Mr Brightside
How to let go? What is letting go?
The exquisite pain of ‘letting go’ is surely one of the defining characteristics of what it means to be alive. The misery of lost loves, the violence of gambled opportunities, the depression of crushed dreams. We all know it. ‘Letting go’ is a specific violence to be wrought upon a future that will never happen in spite of a past pregnant with possibility. It is a shutting down. A road block. The sadness of ‘letting go’ is an expression of bearing witness to something passing in the world. However, ‘letting go’ needs to be reclaimed from the negative. It needs to be interrogated under the bright lights of fidelity to the event for what can be affirmed.
When you ‘let go’ of an object it is released; ‘letting go’ as threshold. However, ‘letting go’ in the sense in which it is meant here is a process. What is let go is not the ‘object’ that was allegedly in one’s possession (another person, a car, a desire, a sense of security, whatever), but the reconfiguration of the self that affirmed and allowed for the connection in the first place.
Sure, part of you dies, and it is gone forever, only to be resurrected in un/pleasant dreams. But there is a joy in ‘letting go’. There is. The world is refolded into one’s self. Instead of a short circuit of desire between your self and an other, the circuit opens up to the world. Another part of the world is born and that is what needs care. The eager to-come of Destiny that never does, for it is always becoming on the bright side of our souls.
I would like to isolate and affirm two moments in the process of ‘letting go’ as an affirmation. I shall draw on an a-personal example for the sake of non-innocents.
The most famous fresco of the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel is the one regarded as a scene illustrating God’s creation of Adam. What if Michelangelo’s famous panel illustrated ‘man’ being let go by God, or, heretically, even man ‘letting go’ of God? The outreached hands could easily be read as either or both figures letting go of the other. I am not trying to rewrite history, but using it as an example in a thought experiment (so no one send me nasty emails, please).
Adam looks despondent and is seemingly relaxed. He is not bothered by God’s efforts and may even be playing with him, keeping his hand just out of reach. Adam is letting go of God. God’s face is intense and configured into a pained look of concentration. His upper-body is strained in a fury to make contact. His fingers may be at the bottom arc of a grab that failed. Little cherub angels look on, hiding behind God and supporting him in his strained, ferocity of movement at the same time.
To take it to the next level, the panel is meant to illustrate God’s creation of Adam, as most people know, in his own image. Adam as simulcrum. It is the original becoming that signals the power of the false. ‘Letting go’, in this case, signals a transformation of One copy into another another. There is a falsity to the Adam-as-copy; a falsity that has power. The power of falsity is the production of a variation within which one has the power to let go.
The illustration of God and Adam captures in a moment of time two sides of the singular process of letting go. The pain of letting go and the necessary disaffection that allows one’s self to let go of one’s past copy. We are always somewhere in between. Between two copies of ourselves. Letting go of you means letting go of my self.
But the power of falsity has another dimension. It is the second copy, the copy produced by letting go of one’s self, that needs to be affirmed. Adam in the world, which in biblical references is Adam in Eden. Quite simply, the power of the false allows us to affirm the paradise that is the world. To allow ourselves to refold the world into our selves again. This is what I now welcome and care for like a wandering stranger whom I have chanced upon: the new stranger of my self in the world.