It Was Mother

It Was When

It Was When
Wayras Olivier
MARCH 2020

WHEN I WAS ABOUT to be graded on my first French test I couldn’t lean in for the longest time because I was held back by something that kicked in. Psilocybin. Which, an hour earlier I took. And began to think about Paleolithic humans, who, whilst hunting and gathering, used their mouths (through pain of death), to take bad taste seriously. Not only does fungi and berries, for example, have murderous lookalikes but great taste also fools—Paleolithic humans, knew nothing about allergies and why such toothsome things as honey could kill.

Also, there was the girl’s house. I became slightly distracted by its haughty address, which began to speak of its place and position by using specific accents. This told me that some mothers who get pissy if furniture is set in the wrong place also take leather armchairs and drop-leaf tables seriously. If they’re not treated a certain way, they lose their éclat and begin to mumble. It’s hard to make out in one’s own home, but mothers who are easily aroused to reform delinquent drapes and carpets generally have, I could hear, daughters who are equally mortified by furniture that could potentially slur the homeowner. And is why some girls test boys for misogyny before they’ll carry a torch for them, especially when they’re asked to put out—by a boy aflame.

One thing led to another and before I knew it I was off. Fixating on 2001: A Space Odyssey, by far the most exquisite opening of any film: a hominid hits upon a monolith and learns to hold a bone—a precursor to tool and fire making—in its prehensile paw. But never do we see, centuries forward, any of the explicit stone-age trials and errors. For example, primitive humans who outwore their own DNA by tapping their family tree, manufacturing defects and rejects with torn and faded genes, wherein tailoring of strictures on incest succeeded biology’s acid view on it.

Humans were equally ignorant before they accidentally ingested certain flora and bonded abstractly to life and fauna. That prismatic states could be induced organically made mysticism inevitable. Able now to recognize cycles and patterns, symmetry and metaphors: day is birth; night is death, etc., humans, in exaggerated states, acted out their inundated observations in groups, actuating ritual and ceremony. Discipline, tutored breathing and mediation, reverential chanting—song, prayer and dance, a measure of decorum, in other words, deliberately formalized to ensure that the sacred was properly digested, its invocation earned.

Conversely, to cogitate vigorously without psychotropics requires a prolonged recess from the exigent need to hunt and gather for the present moment—which men and women received, when they, much later, discovered agriculture and husbandry. Whereby a critical derivative—surplus—widened the means for them to narrow in, if they so wished, on a field other than their own. Explore, as it were, alchemy; boost production on deception; the occult and hypnosis. Which is to say, lessons in miniature on the ways in which perception betrays reality. (Point in fact: Earth and the Sun, our species perceives the former being orbited by the latter, until downstream, Copernicus, a Polish thinker, said otherwise.)

And then, there is “the coincidence of wants.” A fisherman, for example, eventually figures out he no longer wants to exchange his catch of the day for goods hand-woven by his neighbor. Bartering, no longer tenable as a long-term trade solution, necessitated a medium to equilibrate any disconnect in value—a medium which two people could agree has a store of value. Often debased and counterfeited as an object, and often difficult to breakdown as a subject, money required no coincidence for two people to want it, as it could accrue—and compound—interest indeed by itself.

Or how about the suggestive discovery about procreation: the insight that it need not be employed exclusively for creation. Men and woman in heat can, unlike other animals, plough in any season without producing a crop. Hence, in varied form, the coincidence of wants resurfaces. Although fermented grapes and grains can strike a pithy match when there is none between two people to speak of, what are the odds that two people will be synched so precisely as to want recreational sex at the same time? Thus, aphrodisiacs—to pacify any mood of reticence (at any given time)—would have been touted as way of channeling “Eros” along with legitimizing the study of spells and seduction as an art and science of which it consists. Devotion and attachment, relaxation and relief minted themselves as currencies of exchange recognized later as legal and tender reasons for lovemaking other than to just produce heirs.

But recommendations made enthusiastically by hysterical and bloodthirsty medicine men—and centuries later, non-hallucinogenic taking-clergies (both identically benighted), sought to it that female virgins were snuffed out to appease solar eclipses in the first case and that witch-hunts and unwinnable heresy trials persisted in the second, even after phenomena in nature no longer “demanded it.” All whilst queens and kings (or any family with hereditary power) who, because of generational inbreeding amongst cousins as close as first, continued to disobey laws of consanguinity so as to keep the reputation of their bloodline royal and pure.

After all this, I leaned in, finally: if the tongue makes it past her puckered lips, it’s all swell, but in the shallow end it must stay because like a stubby shroom stem, it has a rather stomach-turning texture if, by being unseasoned, it goes too deep. When I was younger, whenever two people in a film were abnormally good at chemistry, through my hands I always peeked. I didn’t know why people led with their lips when they kissed. Leading with the ears, chin, or forehead, could be, when rubbed together just as effective in the connection making process? You might say by my eyes being opened my mouth could not stay shut; with my jawbone on the floor there was something to pick up.