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Being a Description of the World

By Eli Siegel


Release is the giving forth by a self, or the making itself outside in such a way that the self is more what it wants to be.

Release is associated with play. Play is an externalization of the self in such a way that it's freer.

     Release, in a certain sense, is the making less of a self. For after all, when there is release of a self, there is a release of something, and a release to something.

     There are two kinds of pleasure the self gets. One is by taking in things, the other is by giving out. One seems to be an addition to the self, the other seems to be a lessening. Always in life, there is a self being added to and a self being taken from.

     The world itself is a lessening and an adding. It is a being more and a being less always. So, we, like the world, take a pleasure in listening and in speaking. In listening, words are added to us; in speak­ing, words come from us. And food comes to us and goes from us. And air comes to us and goes from us. And the world comes to us and goes from us.

     The purpose of the self taking things to itself and giving them forth, is the same: in both actions, the self wants to be more. When, in the self's giving forth, there is a sense of the self's being more, there is less which is also more: and this is release. It can also be called expression.

     Release is the making lighter of the self so that it feels more at one with all things. This is true release. What our body gives forth, what we put into words, what we even externalize as thought, is all a kind of release: for all these things are the putting outside of something in the self or of it. It is like the motion of the world, less and more, finite and infinite.

     The self collects and it expends; it gathers and it puts out. It is doing this all the time. When a self feels that what it gathers and what it puts out are both for it, it is at ease. When in any way it doesn't, there is a jam, a dullness, ugly acceleration or disproportion.

     It seems to be easier to gather than to put out. But when we can't put out or express, even gathering becomes fearful. Release, then, is mistimed, disproportionate, not true release. For the self aims to be nothing and everything at once. It wishes to be like a feather and like steel. Where self begins, it is both. As it proceeds, it wishes to be both.

     Release is that aspect of the self which goes towards lightness and nothingness. Heaviness become lightness with the heaviness still honored, is joy. Release is that kind of joy which is towards lightness. Gathering, being affected, making things ours, having things in us, is also joy. For the self growing, being added to, is joy: and growth is a becoming light and a becoming heavy. Learning and expression should be going on the same while. The world can be said to be learning and to be showing or putting forth.

     Between heaviness and lightness in the self, and having both heaviness and lightness, is rest in the true sense.

     Rest, at this time, is also change. Where collection and release are not working the same while, deeply, there is a slowing up, a jam, a dullness which is not rest. It happens. The release, then, is a disproportionate, unwilling, difficult, ugly one—not release which is true.


© 1945 by Eli Siegel

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