01 December 2005

Self-injury

Not to glamorise this, but I've always found it just fucking fascinating that people "injure" themselves. I suppose relatively speaking this is self-injury, but then again as I've known and dated quite a few persons to have cut and burned their own bodies (to some frightening degrees, mind you), the traits always seem to be associated with the characteristics of the so-called Outsider as purported in Colin Wilson's fantabulous text, The Outsider. Creative, isolated in perspective, and very often of a high intelligence (whatever that means, but they are smart folk).

Not only does self-injury — we just call them "cutters" — have its own domain, self-injury.net, but someone has begun cataloguing celebrity cutters. The list includes the dark creative geniuses of Hollywood, music, and abroad, such as:
  • Fiona Apple

  • Drew Barrymore

  • Brody Dalle, The Distillers

  • Johnny Depp

  • Richey Edwards, Manic Street Preachers

  • Colin Farrell

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Courtney Love

  • Marilyn Manson

  • Shirley Manson, Garbage

  • Princess Diana

  • Christina Ricci

  • Amy Studt

  • Sid Vicious

  • Elizabeth Wurtzel

Back in high school my English teacher gave me shit for having burned what I thought were markings into my face, around my eye in particular. I used a heated knife to do it. For no other reason than aesthetic. But with my friends and loved ones over time, from the burning of spirals and other glyphs unto the skin to the massive cutting and pools of blood that were left behind, depending on the friend, it always seemed to be more exploratory of the carnal host. That we hurt ourselves to know that we can feel, and I know I used to have extensive conversations about this stuff with one friend in particular who said she did it to release, to feel, something inside, a deep swelling of something that bore no relativity to our objective world(s).

Which reminds me of this quote from Varieties of Religious Experiences, by William James:
Recent psychology … speaks of the threshold of man’s consciousness in general to indicate the amount of noise, pressure, or other outer stimulus which it takes to arouse his attention at all. One with a high threshold will doze through an amount of racket by which one with a low threshold would be immediately waked. … And so we might speak of a ‘pain threshold,’ a ‘fear threshold,’ a ‘misery threshold,’ and find it quickly overpassed by the consciousness of some individuals, but lying too high in others to be often reached by their consciousness. The sanguine and healthy minded habitually live on the sunny side of their misery line; the depressed and melancholy live beyond it, in darkness and apprehension.

Does it not appear as if one who lived habitually on one side of the pain threshold might need a different sort of religion from one who habitually lived on the other?

This may be one of the reasons I turned to the occult when I was a youth. It was never for image, but to find something. I've been led my whole life to find answers to questions I've never been able to ask, and am only now beginning to be able to structure. That's saying a lot after countless — countless — hours, high and sober, talking and debating and sharing with people like Kirsten and Tara and Jason D. and Jason B. and Harley, and many others over the years. I obviously didn't find the right answers in time for some, though it's also not my responsibility, but I'd like to be able to bring forth as much as I can on this short journey I've been granted.

2 comments:

Haeresis said...

I know another rock star who used to burn happy faces in his arm with a hot cigarette lighter. My first boyfriend used to do it, too...kinda common in the punk scene. I KNEW A FEW 'CUTTERS,' TOO, BUT USUALLY STEERED AWAY FROM THEM.

Anonymous said...

My best friend has both cut and burned himself. It's not a pyro thing, it's a self-injury thing. The hardest part is seeing the scars, and knowing that HE did that to HIMSELF.