I remember faintly the moment in my younger intellectual life in which I learned that the word “envelope” can be used as a verb. That is, conceptually, I learned how solitary objects-nouns- can become an action, a movement. I think that this realization, when explored m0re thoroughly and applied liberally in many ways changed my world and how I have evolved now to understand it and its potential.
But the word “envelope”…that’s a big one. When used and understood as its verb form, it means to fully and completely wrap around, to encompass all there is in a subject with the use of every limb (physical and otherwise), to securely hold the contents, to caress them with an all-encompassing embrace. The effort, expression and meaning of the act- to envelop another in something- is not accidental. Rather it exists with intention, fueled by desire. On the other side, to be the receiving subject of the action/concept is something quite different. To be enveloped in something or someone requires a kind of abandon- given its character by trust. To be enveloped by someone or something may feel something of accidental, just as one can suddenly seem to find oneself in the center of a storm or, just as likely, at the center of a miraculous stillness, calm and quiet. Though- I must admit that I am personally inclined to view situations of control and the actions that reflect them through the lens of Antonio Gramsci’s theories of hegemony- as the product of both coercion and consent. That is, what appears non-intended moments of envelopment occur only because of the presence of some form of consent, of agreement, of desire to be in the receiving position of control/power.
I really like the dual play of this action/concept based in a thing/object; on one side, the participatory/active intention of enveloping, one the other, the passive act of being enveloped (which as I mentioned earlier is not entirely passive in that it is powerless and voiceless, but is rather actively passive, passive with an awareness [ and perhaps a shy smile?]) and how both, in their performance of meaning, form a kind of solid unit characterized by the yin-and-yang-like intertwining of roles. This is one of my favorite conceptual images of all time (newly rethought, relived, renewed)!
I like to think of Love in terms (not verbal so much as conceptual-all encompassingly so) of this “envelope.” My lover poetically wrote to me of the consentual nature of the kiss, of our kiss being the result of two minds, two bodies coming together with the shared drive by desire to experience passive abandon whilst actively delivering. Perhaps it is in the kiss that we are made particularly aware of this manner in which our lives meet, intertwine, release.
But even if I were to lock lips with him for hours, kissing him repetitively over the course of a day without tiring into the night, the kiss, its performance, is played out in the moment. It is performed and experienced simultaneously but only so quickly as a lightning bug illuminates in a dark field to make others (and perhaps itself) aware of its own existence before once again disappearing. The kiss is a transient symbol of Us, replayed as wanted or needed as if in the reenactment of an action on a significant holiday to remind us of what’s there. (Light the candles at Christmas, we will bring light to the darkness, we will remember the spirit alive in the flicker of the flame.)
But- more than the kiss, one small piece, is the complete envelopment that we are. I want to envelope him in all that I am (think, feel, believe), in my love and in my care. I will do this with an intention fueled by desire. I will actively engulf him in my sea. Similarly, I will be, I am, enveloped by him, in him. It feels as though accidental, but the abandonment happens with my consent. He envelops me in all that is him, and he must be careful and secure and all-encompassing and fueled by desire. He, at the same time, may be enveloped in me, passively giving into my physical and metaphysical embrace, and with trust. In the full performance of the meaning of the word-concept-action-image, from players who play their dual parts completely, the lovers embody the term, they become a solid object, a unit, intertwined – defined by action made to and through each other.