Irreversibly Changed?

I was beaten to a bloody pulp over 4 months ago. I looked like this:

Gold Star For Robot Boy

Cheer Up, Squirt.

Last week I received a phone call from the police, informing me that the accused had decided to plead guilty to the charges laid against him (some form of assault involving terms fancy, hideous, & impressive). What that means is that now I do not have to take the witness stand and go through the ordeal of retelling my story and getting grilled by the defense. That’s a good thing, for me at least, because things have been getting steadily worse in my head since the pulping, and the anxiety of having to go to court and “take the stand” has not been helping. Looming so foreign & serious, threatening to rip me from that snail shell in which I reside.

I would like to pretend that I’m a misfit who is comfortable with crossing & taunting authority, but it is not so. I avoid it and keep to the shadows.

Recently, while roaring through Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, I came across this passage, which fairly leapt off of the page. I read it over and over, and marked the pages for later. If you would be so kind as to indulge me….

I punched, while others preferred to kick. With my bare hands I clubbed my victims viciously, metronomically – like carpets, like mules. Like time. I did not speak. The beating was its own language and would make its own meaning plain. I beat people by night and by day, sometimes briefly, rendering the unconscious with a single hammer-blow, and on other occasions more lingeringly, applying my right hand to their softer zones and grimacing inwardly at their screams. It was a point of pride to keep one’s outward expression neutral, impassive, void. Those whom we beat did not look us in the eye. After we had worked them over for a while their noises stopped; they seemed at peace with our fists boots clubs. They, too, became impassive, empty-eyed.

A man who is beaten seriously (as dreaming Oliver D’Aeth had intuited long ago) will be irreversibly changed. His relationship to his own body, to his mind, to the world beyond himself alters in ways both subtle and overt. A certain confidence, a certain idea of liberty is beaten out for good; always provided the beater knows his job. Often, what is beaten is in detachment. The victim – how often is saw this! – detaches himself from the event, and sends his consciousness to float in the air above. He seems to look down upon himself, on his own body as it convulses and perhaps breaks. Afterwards he will never fully re-enter himself, and invitations to join any larger, collective entity – a union, for example – are instantly rebuffed.

Beatings in different zones of the body affect different parts of the soul. To be beaten for a long time upon the soles of the feet, for example, affects laughter. Those who are so beaten never laugh again.

Only those who embrace their fate, who accept their thrashing, taking it like men – only those who put their hands up, acknowledge their guilt, say their mea culpas – can find something of value in the experience, something positive. Only they can say: ‘At least we learned our lesson.

It certainly seems true, but only time will tell if I am being unduly held under the sway of Rushdie’s intoxicating prose. I shall have more to say on that at a later date, but for now, that will do.

I usually look like this:

Hey Short Pants!

Fraggle Rock

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