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Akasa and Irony

“Like any Romantic,” Paul Bowles once said, “I had always been vaguely certain that sometime during my life I should come into a magic place which, in disclosing its secrets, would give me wisdom and ecstasy—perhaps even death.”

That last phrase is typical literary hyperbole, which I most earnestly brush aside. I came to Ischia not to die, but to begin a new life, to dig deep into the ancient secrets of this Island, and, if I can gather up the courage, all that I have been hiding from myself over the decades.

Bowles also said that a typical fictional character of his “slips through life, if possible without touching anything, without touching other people.”

A reporter from the New York Times asked him if that was how he lived his own life. He said, “I’ve tried. It’s hard. If you discover you’re affecting other people, you have to stop doing whatever you’re doing.”

I like to think he came to understand the ancient concept of Akasa, which says we are held accountable for every single action we take, good or ill, and that the pain we inflict on others comes back to us three-fold. When I was young I laughed at these ideas. Ignorant superstition, that’s all. But now that I’m getting OLD I know, through long, painful experience, that it’s true. Which is why I am in exile, determined to stop hurting others—“touching” them, in Bowles euphemism.

No, I don't aspire to sainthood. I’ve just had enough of that awful three-fold payback.

As an intrusive, stalking photographer, have I not deeply offended--"touched"--this man?

Irony abounds.

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First thoughts in response to this:

I don't think saints refrain from touching. Not all of them, anyhow.

Touching doesn't have to mean hurting.

I don't think we can avoid touching.

As a Pagan, I give credence to the threefold law, and find it both a very difficult and very ethical way to live. You have to consider every action individually. And we can't see very far ahead!

I doubt that it is possible to go through life without hurting, if only unwittingly. And I think it is important to do one's best not to.

It is also possible to choose doing active good (so far as one can see).

Detachment from others might in some instances be hurtful.

Some threefold paybacks are wonderful!

The argument for solitude is two-fold. One, you are less likely to hurt others. Two, you're less likely to be hurt by others.

Ah yes, there is that.

I love solitude myself, and need great gobs of it - but also like interaction with others some of the time, and have been blessed enough to find the joys far outweigh the hurts.

I like the concept Akasa and oddly -- because I read so much -- I've never come across it before.

You could say you immortalized the people whose portraits you take as easily as you could say you're harmed them.

The great apes -- including man -- are social animals. You know, what I remember about Italy the most was how touchy everyone was, like litters of puppies rolling around playing and the touch was just that casual, not fraught with layers of significance the way it generally is when you touch someone in this country.

Yes, the comfortable space surrounding people is much narrower in Italy, but then despite that Italians are extremely private. After centuries of foreign invasions and occupations they've developed the skill of appearing to be welcoming and open, when in fact the only people they REALLY are welcoming and open to are immediate family. Which is not to deny the essential sweetness of the Italian character. Living completely in the moment is a national passtime.

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Re: Touching and withholding

Because of early childhood experiences or maybe DNA I have extremely low social needs. My earliest memory, at three, is of me sitting on the porch of the house in the summer sunlight, alone, and feeling utterly content and peaceful. My current deliberate choice of solitude probably comes from my life-long desire to return to that early sense of untroubled, innocent happiness.

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