My Nosebleed, or a Certain Kind of Loneliness

I awoke this morning to a nosebleed in progress.  For the first time since around age 11, the fantasy of the body-as-container was interrupted by a short flow of blood.  I was immediately pulled toward depth psychology: if myself at 11 was a far more nervous, obsessive-compulsive Julian, riddled with more existential somatizations than I generally would care to confront today, then only a regression model could satisfy the strange affective wave of surprise, alarm, and guilt that seemed to surge from the blood, as if it were radioactive.  As the inside flow reached the monstrous outside of the world, the oxidization of the blood, its becoming-red, was an effective affective medium for a confrontation with my own depth, the sanguine memory of isolations and anxieties past.

This nosebleed is about loneliness.

Peter Sloterdijk also appears in this scene in my bed.  I’ve been reading Bubbles, recently translated into English, the first of his three volume brick-set of spherology.  Suffice it to say, in order to avoid summarizing the entire volume, that in a larger chapter on “negative gynecology,” Sloterdijk muses on the possibility of “a psychohistorical deduction of bed cultures”: in essence, he avers, when one climbs into bed alone each night– preparing to face the dark all by oneself, clutching to a pillow, the comforting burrowing-in and entangling-with ones blankets– all are symptoms of the fundamental loneliness of modern bourgeois, possessive individualism, which disavows the actual originary intersubjective intimacies of that which becomes the human (361).  In fact, Sloterdijk has in mind here the placenta– we lonely individuals of Western modernity, he contends, miss our placentas every night while we rest, ever perturbed at being One, in our beds.

I’m not sure about the certitude of reducing all existential loneliness to my missing placenta-twin, but I am sure about the spatial dimensions of the affective valences of my nosebleed.  Real spatial intimacy (not sociality), the kind of consubjectivity Bubbles maps in various microspheres, never seems more lacking to me than in the foggy moments in which one wakes up every morning, becoming-conscious a subtle, if piercing, reminder of just how much we falsely take ourselves to be separable, ego-defined containers in the world (where was I for the last eight hours, anyways?).  My nosebleed was about loneliness, then, because the somatic depth it sacrificed in bringing the flow of blood outside the body was a reminder of the permeability of the self, of my openness to others, including openness to myself-as-other.  Indeed, perhaps my initial move toward a regression explanation is better satisfied by saying that the nosebleed didn’t only pull me back to a Julian of 11 years old, but brought me into a fleeting intimacy with him, a being-with that translated a temporal recursion into a biunal consubjectivity, an inter-intelligence-memory conducted by the affectivity of blood flow.

Maybe.  Or perhaps not at all– I’m not committed to this ad hoc speculation.  Still, I’m clinging to something comforting about thinking the loneliness of a nosebleed as an invitation to future intimacy.  After a moment alone, sitting up in bed, touching tenderly the blood dripping down my nose, I thought: there must be more than just me.

Bubbles, mezzotint by G.H. Every, 1887, after Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896)-- this image adorns the first page of Sloterdijk's Bubbles.
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