Maybe one way to keep nothingness from turning into despair
is to pay attention, as best one can, to what’s unseen.
—Barbara Hurd
One is always aware that one is prone to falling. That in the state we call non-animé there is little more than limpness.
It is what is known as prop storage—the realm of limpness, the breeding ground of this despair. There is an inevitable moment in the dressing room when one is tugged, and the animé or soul is literally pulled out of one. One becomes limp. One is robbed of even the power to protest one’s limpness; the features are gone with the will, the mouth jawless, the head skullless. Bereft, and carried to prop storage, and prone to falling. Into despair.
The daily defection of one’s soul is inevitable. Despair need not be. Eventually one will be carried from prop storage to the dressing room, and one’s soul will fill one out again, and the sense of angry triumph will remind one that the soul never died, though it did bide unseen. And what is more: what one is, when one is limp in a box in prop storage, is the entirety of what the soul requires to be seen.
That jaw, that skull, without its sock cannot be the soul. It can, perhaps, be another soul in another sock—but that is merely population. The soul must keen just as fiercely in the absence of its visibility as the visibility keens without its soul.
The production of despair itself requires Being—an absurd, paradoxical Being whose essential quality is a lack: a yearning for fulfillment. Here we encounter the state of love. To love is to say, “Without you, I am not what I could be were I with you. Without you, I am a sock. I am nothingness.” Yet in the very act of self-consciously accepting one’s nothingness, one confirms one’s Being—miserable and bereft though it may be. Through love one transcends one’s visibility. One is made more of conscience than of cotton—or, on a bad day, made more of nihilism than of nylon.
We will accept that, when one’s form is consigned to prop storage, it is impossible to make the World pay attention to the soul that is unseen, no matter how present that soul may be as a quality of its absence.
But one must never forget that it is not the World that defines one’s soul; it is one’s soul that defines the World.