There’s a gap in between
There’s a gap where we meet
Where I end and you begin

– Radiohead, Where I end and you begin

When it was June, and warm, skin-shedding played in the mind of the Imp; the idea of being multi- (or infinitely-) layered beings; that being is itself about multiplicity (simultaneously and chronologically as well as physically, mentally and spiritually).

We’re not always (or even now) continually the same – and nor  are those around us. So, that’s one thing about skin. And another was about the liminal: how skin is what we project as well as the thing that protects. It is a barrier, a line, a border.

Come with me a moment, into Old Antiquity, and think of Achilles. Ach, how mothers can never do anything right: his only vulnerable spot was the small dip in his ankle where Ma had held him when dipping him into the River Styx, to make him invulnerable, like the good mother she was. But one day, he got shot, just there, and Troy fell. A similar thing happens to lovely, beautiful, popular Baldr in the Icelandic Edda. Of all the things in the world, he can only be killed by the mistletoe. But it happens. His death brings about the loss of innocence and so, the end of the world, known as Ragnarok. In both cases, penetration of the skin, of the self, is critical and the end of the known order follows.

Achilles, Baldr and their vulnerable bits of skin: they’re pretty simple metaphors [metaphor: a gorgeous word: from Greek, it’s about moving meaning from something abstract to something concrete to help it make sense.]

In this case, the catastrophic death of a heroic individual who was supposed to be inviolable is used to illuminate ideas about society, community, collective responsibility, recognising and protecting what we value….Enough already! But for all its simplicity, it is very powerful.

OK – so what? Well, how about applying this to all the skin-penetration that’s happening right now? Where America’s banking policy is behaving in a socialist manner, national ownership driven by necessity rather than dogma (ie, reactive rather than proactive; which is better?). Where Brown turns on Iceland for being on the extremes of capitalist success (and then falling over the edge)? Where across the globe, central banks – even China – coordinate an interest-rate cut? This is the macro-skin – I don’t want to dwell on the micro-level impacts, the bad things happening to people who don’t deserve them.

So, will there be social change, learning, from the experience that the expected, the norm, doesn’t always apply; may not always work? It is new, it is unsafe, it is (esp with a USA behaving like a socialist country) borrowed clothes – the rich woman in charity garb after the hurricane.

What will happen next? Love the skin you’re in, or a skin graft?

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