For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And, guarding, calls not thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word–
Thy mercy on thy people, Lord!Rudyard Kipling, Recessional.
You remember Ferdinand, the bull whose predilection beyond the ring was to lie in a meadow and saturate his existence with the scent of flowers? What presence he had, according to popular usage of the term ‘sensualism’! You have to wonder, who has more presence, a bull with his head in clouds of perfume, or an infuriated bull triggered by a toreador? It cannot be denied that presence is not generally ascribed to someone who is all there—how would we know?—but to a being we can see, a performative being. We can enjoy Ferdinand’s kind of sensuality any time the world ignores us, but to be full-time sensualists, we must emulate the myriad performers of unrestricted sensual presence to be found on the web. So there is something not quite right about Ferdinand’s presence, and that which is experienced by meditation adepts and obsessive compulsives who can filter their senses and ignore the world. What is more absurd than the lotus position when the kids need breakfast before school? You see? Astrologers know nothing about sensuality.
Nonetheless, a Full Moon in the Constellation of Libra, once associated with the scales of justice, is much more likely in the Southern Hemisphere to share a meadow with Ferdinand than to contest anachronistically systematised seasons of Earth. However, there is no absence of anxiety when you put Libra’s jackboot at the back of your head (looking south) to contemplate the skewering on an Indigenous spear of the merino known as Lupus, with the legacy of the retaliation of colonial law staining Left and Right forever.
As any neophyte can affirm, the senses impose themselves from the bottom up. Does that mean sensualists are bottom feeders? Is solitary sensuality always transgressive? Country, the Australian Indigenous term I use to signify presence in absence, is sensual if it is alive. Perhaps it all comes down to one question, how do you share country? How do you perform it? After all, the shape of your body, what you’re wearing, and what you ate for breakfast, are of no interest to authentic beings. How to perform absence? In what sense is that a meaningful question? What is the proper term for projected sensuality? Pornography? Limerence? Love? Dream? Death?
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.Psalm 51:17
The Moon does it. Always has, tidally, but also in the contamination he brings to any wife and mansion from all the others. His presence brings absence and a whiff of betrayal. In a few Earth days he will cross the Acheron, and what will preserve him in its turbulence is not any forgiveness from Earth for primordial transgressions, but knowing that the last thing the crescent Earth will forget as she plunges into the Lethe is the impious hauteur of Saiph, the Moon’s naked Melanesian queen, twerking at the riverbank where she wrings eternity from her seaweed.
Crossing the rivers of Hades does it. The Vertex does it. Country does it. The forty-nine days do it. Remembrance, the Silent Minute and the Two Minute Silence do it. Can the Earth perform her presence in absence, or is she too engrossed in her comic?