The eyes—those twin translucent mirrors that reflect the universe upside down in our brains—refract the kaleidoscope of light in our mind's black night as sight. These orbs, like constellations speckled brown or blue or hazel, have black-hole, iris-centered pupils that contract and expand, absorbing galaxies of light, transforming the invisible into our reality. Eyes have no voice but can speak of love or grief when our hearts are dumb. The eyes can cry goodbye and ask why.
Some say sight is the great glory of our senses' wondrous mysteries, and I agree. The tragic man is not he who cannot see. The tragic man is he who can but does not. Look! How amazing it is that you are reading this. Do you see it?
10. The Heart
The record industry and the greeting card business would go bankrupt without the hundreds of metaphorical uses for the heart. Tony Bennett sang that he left his heart in San Francisco, but I notice that he somehow managed to do very well without it; and so did hard-hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah, who was evil enough to pour water on a drowning man. Someone must have surely told her at one time or another, "Come on, Hannah, have a heart." But perhaps Hannah was recovering from having her own heart "broken." That's what can happen if you "wear your heart on your sleeve" and then "give away your heart" to some worthless suitor.
It's amazing how many references there are to the heart in literature and in popular culture. This can probably be tied to the actual function of the heart in our bodies. It's more than just a pump that circulates blood through our bodies by contraction and dilation—it's the center of our being. The heart is one of the first organs to develop in a fetus, and it's the one organ whose expiration spells immediate death. In between the beginning of life and its end, the heart is inextricably tied to our emotions: It beats faster when we're excited or in danger, and when we see the object of our desire. The heart is also tied to our character: There are stories that people who undergo heart transplants experience personality changes and mood swings. Is there a closer relationship between the heart and the brain than we think? The verdict is still out on that one. But what we do know is that it's the rhythm of the heart that calms a fretting baby when held against its mother's chest; it's even the rhythm that calms us while we lie in bed, trying to unwind from a hectic day and fall asleep. It is, in short, the rhythm of life.
11. The Penis
Michaelangelo sculpted it. Freud analyzed it. Steinem politicized it. Mapplethorpe shot it. Bobbit detached it. Wahlberg displayed it. Stiller zipped it. Viagra energized it. Sex and the City demystified it. Behold the penis, a delightfully spontaneous, exquisitely sensitive, intermittently rigid (though not altogether inflexible) little critter both reviled and revered since time began. They say size doesn't matter, but when it's too small it has a nasty tendency to cause grown men to buy ridiculously expensive sports cars, pay close attention to the World Wrestling Federation, and start wars. And when it's too large... well, in the grand scheme of things, there are worse problems facing humanity. Do I envy the penis? Nah. While it's true that having one enables a person to earn more money and avoid long lines at the ladies' room, let's not forget that it can also get you impeached. I do, however, admire it. A marvel of technical engineering, the penis is not only an intricate network of neurotransmitters, blood vessels, and muscle tissue, it also looks fabulous in a pair of jeans. And though these days it's frequently a step or two removed from the whole baby-production process, it's certainly handy to have around the house.
Let's Get Physical