Monday, February 2, 2015


My daughter still has a cold after more than week. The skin below her nostrils is raw and sore. While contemplating that region of her face I was reminded of the name for the depression that runs from the lip to the nose. It took a while to remember the name, philtrum. It slowly came together in my mind. In some ways it could be viewed as a filter, the filter that filters out memories of one's true nature.

In a manner of speaking, the philtrum marks the seam where the face was sewn up,  as the right and left sides of the face grew from the back to meet in the middle. When the mask became whole, the soul forgot itself. Jewish mystical tales recount that before birth an angel touches the fetus on the upper lip causing profound amnesia, amnesia representing the loss of the knowledge of Torah, or maybe it could be said, of Truth. In this world anamnesis can be dangerous.

The sneezing fit I am having lately as I've caught this cold seems in some way an effort to shake of the binding touch of the angel and remember. Some cultures view the purpose of life as a quest for memory and collection of one's complicated layers. But perhaps to live in the world while remembering that other Life would be too painful. So in that sense the angel performs something like occupational therapy, the first desensitization to the abrasiveness possible in this world. I know people who seem to remember too much of the quality of love we may have known before birth, and for them, every day is a struggle. As if through their sense of love and memory of kindness they bear the brunt of bringing an increment of heaven to a barren earth. We all have a glimmer of this memory. Is it any wonder we love each other so much at those moments when something ruptures and, mysteriously, all traces of alienation disappear?

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