LA | NY A Special Edition of The East Village

Martin Nakell

Thirty-One Questions To Ask 
While Looking in a Mirror

How did you learn to grow hair on your body?

Did you know that within your body you will have all the experience of
heaven and/or hell that you will ever have?

How is it that your body, which is both known and unknown to you,
embodies the Unknown, so that alchemists, theologians, mystics,
scientists, skeptics, psychologists, and you yourself have peered,
will peer, for millennia ad perpetuum into your body to discover the
mystery of creation, or simply to know the complex fact of existence?

When did you decide to invent language?

When you sleep, how do bodily sensations become mental images,
narratives even, long strings of absurd vignettes?

Why don't you laugh in your sleep?  [1]

Why do you laugh?

Why has your body made so many errors relative to your judgment of it,
a judgment which, like heaven and/or hell occurs only in your body,
and which may be the only judgment or the only judge you will ever

When you ever feared that you might go mad, was it your body's fear?
What did your body do about it?

If you are not the same you you were ten years ago, is your body the
same body it was ten years ago?

You have had the sensation of dying and awakening to new life a
thousand times; has your body done the same? in synchrony with you, or
in a rhythm of its own?

Why is your body so complex?

What is the relationship between the organelles in the cells of your
thigh and the organelles in the cells of your brain?  [1]

Are there decisions your body has made which you haven't yet accepted?
Of all the sensations your body receives, how do you, or your body,
decide which will be pain, which will be beauty?

Why can't you fly?

Why did you invent language?

What occurs in your body which is never dictated by thought, not
exercised by the control of reason, exempt from all aesthetic or moral

When did you begin to achieve the balance necessary between the
chemical/biological/muscular/neuronic/cellular processes of your body
and what is so often called the external world of other bodies,
including distant influences such as moons or other universes  [1]

Reminder: Ask these questions while looking in a mirror, a full length
mirror (invented in the 1st Century AD), if possible; naked is best.

Does your mind lead your body, or vice versa? Or neither? Or both?

Do you believe that your senses: sight (smell) sound (touch) smell
(sight) taste (smell) touch (sight) function solely to promote the
ongoing life of your body, or do they have other purposes?

How similar in detail -- eyes (stature) teeth (spine) feet (immune
system) hands (brain) -- is your body to the bodies of your ancestors
when they lived in the mouths of caves?

How do the chemical reactions, the electrical charges cross what
appear to be those chasms that within your body to become
consciousness, image, dream, thought, language, memory, writing,

How did your mouth learn to shape all the sounds it needs to speak? Is
that what it was made for? How many words has your mouth spoken in
your lifetime? How many has it refrained from speaking?

Can you ask the question: "Was your mouth made for speaking?" without
implying intention?

Why do you cry? What happens in your body when you cry? Are humans the
only creatures who cry? Can your body remember when it has cried? Did
it need to learn to cry?

Does your body have a rational explanation for its being  [1]

How does your body understand each of these terms: 	fear.





			   clarity. 		action. 

		confusion. 		wealth?

Command your body to a voluntary movement: raise your arm, lift your
leg, talk, smile: by what neurological activity by what translation of
thought back across those chasms can you feel your muscles respond to
your consciousness?  [1]

Look at your body, what a neutral thing it is, in itself. Heart,
blood, oxygen, movement, pulsation, chemistry, electricity, water,
cells, brain cells, dna, all of a universe, no more no less than a sun
itself, or some star at the edge of your universe, the beginning of
the middle of the end of certainty and unknowing in each atom of each
colliding subatom, all neutral in itself. What is it you have done
with this neutral material what structures what works of days in hours
what paradisos in passing wrecks abandoned charred remains doors
leaped chasm exits followed by entrance into what is it you have done
that has brought you here to this mirror now it/self of sand silver
light carried light to be looking at your body to be posing a
spontaneous interrogation whose answers abide at the precise point of
their originlessness within the narrator of your question?

The early evolutionists still believed that an internal mechanism
drove your body to a pinnacle of developmental perfection. You, who
accept your body as a transitory moment in a field of everlasting
change (yet understanding that it took half a million years to develop
the eye) how well has your body adapted to its present conditions? 

What does your body think of the following concepts: 	irony.

		a definitive enigma. 

				an excess of metaphysics. 





1 Always turned towards creation, we see/only a mirroring of the free/
dimmed by our breath
	Rilke, Eighth Duino Elegy

1 through laughing annointments through annotations the reversals of mirrors

	Alexander Batshteyn, The Configurations, 1877

1 trails forgetfulness/among blessings uttered/with temporary refusals to look/

	Fr. Samuel Konnekhey, X: Notes to the Book of Hours, 1436

1 Mr Power watches "Long John Fanning ascend toward Long John Fanning
in the mirror," but isn't deceived by circumstances.

    Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce's Ulysses, a study, 1930