There is an entire world we do not know and understand, and that is the world that exists in filth, in slime, in dust, in dirt, in squalor.
Squalor. The very meaning of the word is forbidden. We don't even show it in the movies. Carnage, yes, blood, yes, but artfully spattered blood, decorative and symbolic. A smudge across an iconic soldier's face. A carefully timed defiant yell. Where the life, the humanity, the slime, the dirt, the sewage, the feces, the filth, the vomit; where is everything that truly depicts life, in its darkest and ugliest moments?
In our appreciation of beauty, we must not forget the shocking ugliness that can be our lot. We don't understand people who live in shadows, in slime, in dirt; we have an obsessive desire for cleanliness. Even the Metro system here in New York, even the subway stops and the MTA for the most part, is clean in that way. One does not slog through swamps of filth, sleep in grimy clothes, not shower for weeks. One does not learn what it is like to feel like less than a human being...unless, of course, one is in the army or homeless. But there is an entire facet of life we don't understand and won't understand; it's the kind of thing that may appear to resonate, for a moment, in the luminescence of words as they sparkle on a page, but it will never truly resonate until we face our fear of...not the painful, but merely the grotesque, the disgusting, the leper with his oozing sores, suppurating and pus-filled, the drunkard lying in his vomit. The colorful scenes of life we have tried to hide away in our desire to provide a cleanliness that manages to sterilize our world. To be clean is no crime; to try to sterilize life is. Because life is sometimes lived best in these raw, ugly moments, with the blood and pus and dirt and scum and slime.
We are privileged here in America and most of us will never even know how privileged because we'll never venture somewhere that doesn't have a shower, running water, and other methods to retain cleanliness. That's not a sin; it's merely a fact. What it means is that a whole aspect of the human experience has been closed off from us, that we simply do not understand squalor. Ugly, disgusting, filthy, loathesome, suppurating squalor...and yet, that too is part of life. And as we fail to understand that, we also fail to understand other natural functions, such as the mother giving birth; that too becomes covered in our queasy layer of detachment and desire for sterilization, to know as little as possible about the body, its functions, its crevices and nooks and crannies, its glistening layers of tissue, its beautiful construction.
There is beauty even in squalor, even if it be the too-cloying scent of a rotting fruit on its way to decay which simultaneously attracts as well as repels. And certainly, certainly in every natural life function there is a great and terrible beauty, human fluids or feces or other secretions notwithstanding.
Would if we had a world that understood natural functions and did not feel pressed to hide them away....hiding away the slaughter of an animal, the flies feasting on its dead body, subsequent decay...smells we cannot bear because we are no longer used to them, having replaced them with the polluted scent of smoke and artificial spray...it's not that everyone should walk around painted in blood, with dirt on one's hand and nose, but there should be an appreciation for the natural and the way the world works, even if, due to our weak dispositions, we have chosen to hide that ugliness far away.