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Library: Explanation of Cyclic Errors


Author: merja
Date:Mar 26 2007

In the forest she ran, thinking only of how to get through. Golden sunlight
paved through the trees the leaves scattered heavily from the deciduous
foliage. Her pace slowed as cautiously she wound the trail down the hill,
anxious not to slip on the well-carpeted forest floor.

She remembered only bits and pieces of a song she'd heard before on the radio
somewhere. Smiling, she pushed the song out of her immediate thoughts and
began to concentrate again on her problems.
She felt the shock earlier when the wounding dart hit her brain. It was the
strangest sensation, to be breathless with anger, frustration, regret,
anxiety, and her breath had been ragged. There was no physical violence, but
it felt as if she had reached a state of mental numbness and indeed her heart
rate had increased, and her body had shaken as it repercussed the violence.

She knew to the core that she had made the wrong decision. She thought of the
bugs she had trapped and was slowly killing. Although they would be used for
identification purposes once they suffocated or starved to death, she was
killing them irregardles.

And she was not a killer. She preferred to put the insects outside, except for
roaches which she wished someone else would kill. So why was she killing these
And when it came down to it, she had spent her time painting to distract her
mind from the anguish of her own thoughtless action. It was something she
couldn't understand. How could she be so blind and stupid? For today's lesson
she would tackle a hill without walking, eventhough she'd already run several
hills, she didn't want her body to whine so much. She wasn't going to punish
anyone except herself today.

"What was that thought I just had?" She said as she stopped in the middle of
the path. No one was there. Not even the birds, who normally delved the leaves
for insects.

"What're you doing, lass, MOVE YOUR ASS!" said the pointed-eared pitchfork
bearing being in her ear. "Don't stop running! Keep that ass moving, take the
hill, run for Geovani! Run for them men without legs and livelihood! Run for
the dead. Run for your future dreams and run for your past failures. Keep that
t-shirt that says "Persistence of Memory" and "Disintegration of Persistence
of Memory" alive. Don't forget. Be stubborn. Be determined! Find a fucking
solution! Do it! Don't stop your run..."

She closer her eyes.

Geovani's tattoo on his arm, that one she remembered and liked so much, it
said something about closing your eyes and seeing without seeing. Something
about how most people see with their eyes and not with their hearts.

The thing she was frustrated with was that she felt one way and her potential
felt another way. Story as old as time. She lost her mind when she didn't hear
the answers she wanted because she lacked mental discipline when it came to
realizing one goal, one dream. In the face of all reason she would recreate
the cyclic patterns which led to her own self-destruction. She didn't mean to
insult the other but discrediting his intelligence, daring, caring, endurance,
passion, life, or strength. But as a divorcee she did carry quite some baggage
and bitterness. It was past time to get over it though, if she ever hoped to
realize the Gordian Heart, an symbolic image she created for her literary
work. It described the resolution.

She did not doubt his ability to fit her description, she was angry that he
refused to assume that role for her. So she made a half-hearted and foolish
attempt to punish through denial herself for her gross cyclic projective and
mal-formed ideas, and him for denying her what she wanted from him. This was
her thoughtless violence, and she could only believe she deserved whatever
retaliation came her way. Accepting the victim and defeatest roles were not an
unusual manner of conflict resolution for her. To have hope recur throughout
this malicious fight, like tiny pop up windows in her brain, was distracting
and she rushed to close them all.

For a moment she remembered another character from Coelho's book "Eleven
Minutes" where the main character (female prostitute) is in a relationship
with a saddomachoistic client and she enjoys the orgasm derived from their
encounter, where the man has had absolute no sexual experience whatsoever. Her
painter friend, who is also a "client" has reserved himself and has no sexual
relations with her because he believes as a prostitute that she wants and
deserves more than a sexual experience. He sees her bruises from the SM and
immediately knows what she's been doing.

[Excerpt taken from Paulo Coehlo's novel "Eleven Minutes" pp. 191-198.]

"It wasn't theater this time, they were in a real train station, at Maria's
request, because she liked the pizza you could buy there. There was nothing
wrong with being a bit wayward sometimes. Ralf ought to have come to see her
te day before, when she was still a woman in search of love, an open fire,
wine and desire. But life had chosen otherwise, and today she had got through
the whole day without once having to make herself concentrate on the sounds
around her or on the present moment, simply because she hadn't thought about
Ralf; she had discovered other more interesting things to think about.

What was she to do with this man beside her, who was eating a pizza he
probably didn't like and who was just passing the time until the moment came
for them to go to his house? When he had come into the club and offered her a
drink, she had thought of telling him that she wasn't interested anymore and
that he should find someone else; on the other hand, she had an enormous need
to talk to someone about the previous night.

She had tried talking to one or two of the other prostitutes who served the
"special clients," but none of them would tell her anything, because Maria was
bright, she learned quickly and had become the great threat in the Copacabana.
Of all the men she knew, Ralf Hart was the only one who would understand,
because Milan considered him too to be a "special client." But he looked at
her with eyes alight with love, and that made things difficult; it was best to
say nothing.

"What do you know about pain, suffering, and pleasure?"

She had once again failed to keep her thoughts to herself.

Ralf stopped eating his pizza.

"Everything. And it doesn't interest me in the least."

The reply had been instant, and Maria was shocked. Was she the only person in
the world who didn't know everything? What kind of world was this?

"I've confronted my demons and my dark side," Ralf went on. "I've been to the
very depths and tried everything not just in that area, but in many others
too. On teh last night we met, however, I went beyond my limits through
desire, not pain. I plunged into the depths of my soul and I know that I still
want good things, many good things from this life."

He wanted to say: "One of those good things is you, so, please, don't go down
that path." But he didn't have the courage; instead, he called a taxi and
asked the driver to take them to the lake shore, where, an eternity before,
they had walked together on the day they dirst met. Maria understood the
request and said nothing; her instinct told her that she had a lot to lose,
although her mind was still drunk on what had happened the night before.

She only awoke from her passive state when they reached the gardensbeside teh
lake; although it was still summer, it was already starting to get very cold
at night.

"What are we doing here?" she asked, as they got out of the taxi. "It's windy.
I might catch a cold."

"I've been thinking about what you said at the train station, about suffering
and pleasure. Take your shoes off."

She remembered that once, one of clients had asked the same thing, and had
been aroused simply by looking at her feet. Would Adventure never leave her in

"I'll catch a cold."

"Do as I say," he insisted. "You won't catch a cold if we're quick. Believe in
me, as I believe in you."

For some reason, Maria realized that he was trying to help her; perhaps
because he himself had once drunk of some very bitter water and was afraid
that she was running the same risk. She didn't want to be helped; she was
happy with her new world, in which she was learning that suffering wasn't a
problem anymore. Then she thought of Brazil, of the impossibility of finding a
partner with whom to share that different universe, and since Brazil was the
most important thing in her life, she took off her shoes. The ground was
covered in small stones that immediately tore her stockings, but that didn't
matter. She could buy more.

"Take off your jacket."

She could have said "no," but, since last night, she had got used to the joy
of saying "yes" to everything that came her way. She took off her jacket, and
her body, still warm, took a while to react, then gradually teh cold began to
get to her.

"We can talk and walk at the same time."

"I can't walk here, the ground's covered in stones."

"Exactly. I want you to feel these stones, I want them to hurt you and bruise
you, because, just as I did, you have started to associate suffering with
pleasureee, and I need to tear that out of your soul."

Maria felt like saying: "There's no need, I like it." Instead, she began
walking slowly along, and the soles of her feet began to burn with the cold
and the sharp edges of the stones.

"One of my exhibitions took me to Japan, just like when I was immersed in what
you call 'pain, suffering and pleasure.' At the time, I thought there was no
way back, that I would go deeper and deeper down, until there was nothing left
in my life but the desire to punish and be punished.[sic]

"After all, we are human beings, we are born full of guilt; we feel terrified
when happiness becomes a real possibility; and we die wanting to punish
everyone else because we feel impotent, ill-used and unhappy. To pay for one's
sins and be able to punish the sinners, wouldn't that be delicious? Oh, yes,

Maria was still walking, the pain and cold were making it hard for her to
concentrate on what he was saying, but she was doing her best.

"I noticed the marks on your wrists today."

The handcuffs. She had put on several bracelets to disguise the marks, but the
expert eye knows what to look for.

"Now, if your recent experiences are leading you take that step, I won't stop
you, but you should know that none of it has anything to do with real life."

"Take what step?"

"Into pain and pleasure, sadism and masochism. Call it what you like, but if
you're sure that's the right path for you, I will be sad, I'll remember that
feeling of desire, our meetings, our walk along the road to Santiago, your
light. I will treasure the pen you gave me, and every time I light the fire, I
will remember you. But I will never again come looking for you."

Maria felt afraid; she felt it was time to recant, to tell him the truth, to
stop pretending that she knew more than he did.

"What I experienced recently-ast night, in fact-was something I've never
experienced before. And it frights me to think that I could only find myself
at the very limits of degradation."

It was becoming difficult to speak-her teeth were chattering and her feet were
really hurting.

"My exhibition was held in a region called Kumano, and one of the people who
came to see it was a woodcutter," Ralk went on, as if he hadn't heard what she
had said. "He didn't like mypictures, but he was able to see, through the
paintings, what I was experiencing and feeling. The following day, he came to
my hotel and asked me if I was happy; if I was, I should continue doing what I
liked. If I wasn't I should go and spend a few days with him. [sic]

"He made me walk on stones, just as I am making you do today. He made me feel
the cold. He forced me to understand the beauty of pain, except that the pain
was imposed by nature, not by man. He called this shu-gen-do, a very ancient
practice apparently. [sic]

"He told me that I was someone who wasn't afraid of pain, and that was good,
because in order to master the soul, one must also learn to master the body.
He told me, too, that I was using pain in the wrong way, and that was very

"This uneducated woodcutter thought he knew me better than I did myself, and
that annoyed me, but at the same time, I felt proud to think that my paintings
were capable of expressing what I was feeling."

Maria was aware of a sharp stone cutting into her foot but she could barely
feel it for the cold, her body was growing numb, and she could only just
follow what Ralf Hart was saying. Why was it that in God's holy world men were
only interested in showing her pain. Sacred pain, pain with pleasure, pain
with explanations or without, but always pain, pain, pain...

Her foot stumbled on another stone; she smothered a cry and continued on. At
first, she had managed to maintain her integrity, her self-control, what he
called her "light." Now, thought, she was walking very slowly, with both her
stomach and mind churning: she flet as if she were about to throw up. She
considered stopping, because none of this made any sense, but she didn't.

And she didn't stop out of respect for herself; she could stand that barefoot
walk as long as she had to, because it wouldn't last all her life. And
suffenly another thought crossed her mind: what if she couldn't go to the
Copacabana tomorrow night because she had injured her feet, or because o a
fever brought on by the flu that would doubtless install itself in her
overexposed body? She thought of the customers who would be expecting her, of
Milan who so trusted her, of the money she wouldn't earn, of teh darm, of her
proud parents. But the suffering soon drove out all such thoughts, and she
kept placing one foot in front of the other, longing for Ralf Hart to
recognize the effort she was making and tell her she could stop and put her
shoes back on again.

He seemed entirely indifferent, distant, as if this were the only way of
freeing her from something she didn't as yet really know about, something she
found very seductive, but which would leave far deeper marks than any
handcuffs. Although she knew he was trying to help her, and however hard she
tried to go forward and show him the light of her willpower, the pain would
not allow her any thoughts, noble or profane; it was just pain, filling
everything, frightening her and forcing her to think that she did have limits
and that she wasn't going to make it.

But she took one step.

And another.

The pain seemed about to invade her soul now and undermine her spiritually,
because it's one thing to put on a bit of theater in a five-star hotel, naked,
with vodka and caviar inside you and a whip between your legs, but it's quite
another to be cold and barefoot, with stones lacerating your feet. She was
disoriented, she couldn't think of a single thing to say to Ralf Hart; all
that existed in her universe were those small sharp stones that formed the
path between the trees.

Then, just when she thought she was about to give up, she was filled by a
strange feeling: she had reached her limit, and beyond it was an empty space,
in which she seemed to float above herself, unaware of what she was feeling.
Was this what the penitents had experienced? At the far extremeity of pain,
she had discovered a door into a different level of consciousnes, and tehre
was no room now for anything but implacable nature and her own invincible

Everything around her became a dream: the ill-lit garden, the dark lake, the
man walking beside her, saying nothing, the occasional couple out for a
stroll, who failed to notice that she was barefoot and having difficulty
walking. She didn't know if it was the cold or the pain, but she suddenly lost
all sense of her own body and enterest a state in which there was no desire
and no fear, only a mysterious-how could she describe it?-a mysterious peace.
The pain barrier was not a barrier for her; she could go beyond it.

She thought of all the people enduring unasked-for suffering and there she
was, bringing suffering upon herself, but that didn't matter anymore, she had
crossed the frontiers of the body, and now there only soul, "light," a kind of
void, which someone some day, called Paradise. There are certain sufferings
which can only be forgotten once we have succeeded in floating above our own

The next thing she knew, Ralf was picking her up and putting his jacket around
her shoulders. She must have fainted from the cold, but she didn't care; she
was happy, she hadn't been afraid-she had come through. She had not humbled
herself before him.


In short, I have regret and would like to stop the harm. I wish for someone
who cares enough to walk with me, and keep their presence. In my recent
history it seems I react violently to what I feel is rejection and
disappointment. This bitterness is something that can be changed in the heart
of one who is willing. When I see how much I lose by being thus, I see ample
reason to alter such thoughts and to determine a path forward. I cannot
promise not to make mistakes as I attempt this, because I've already made
mistakes, already broken promises; and I wouldn't ask anyone to trust a person
who breaks their promises.

That's why the decision to walk beside me would mean the world to me. That's
why I fear rejection (one too many leads to disbelief), that's why I don't
cope well and how I can act as an irritating 16 year old at times when I
should not. That's why now I feel shame when I see your name and harbour the
hope that you are compassionate.